Category Archives: blog

I am by no means well versed in the world of Macrobiotics. Since September 1, 2014 my diet has been macrobiotic based and my health is in recovery. A week long cooking intensive at The Kushi Institute gave me a starting place and since then I have been preparing and eating macrobiotic food and working it in to my lifestyle. There is so much more to it than just what to eat and what not to eat. Lessons come everyday and I feel stronger and more independent as time passes. No more super expensive medication and all their side effects to treat Ulcerative Colitis. No more abdominal pain, GI bleeding, diarreah or uneasiness in public – no symptoms at all actually! No refined sugar, no dairy, no animal products other than very occasional seafood, no coffee, no burgers, no nightshades, ahhhh what else? Beer’s OK. This might sound super limiting and unappealing to many. Feeling healthy, whole, happy and knowing that my food choices encourage planetary balance works for me.


Other than breakfast, meals consist of 5 food items including Beans, Grain, Long Cooked Vegetable, Short Cooked Vegetable and some sort of Pickle. Soup is considered a must as well. As anyone with children and a social life in this culture can attest, this ideal is not always possible. I follow the rules until they don’t work in my lifestyle. I eat leftovers, in fact I actually MAKE leftovers cooking enough for three or four meals at a time. I use more coconut oil than I should and probably eat more seeds and nuts than any one person actually needs. I even use honey once in a while (and it is an animal product!).

I soak my beans and grains before cooking, I use a pressure cooker, gas stove, organic foods, I use ume plums, dried daikon, shitake mushrooms, dried lotus root, oh and sea vegetables, lots of sea vegetables. I make miso soup and it is nurturing. I eat lots of greens.07.26.15.collage

Having been at this a little while I am starting to come up with some darn good recipes. In all honesty, it is questionable if people accustomed to eating the traditional American diet would think my recipes are GREAT but I sure do. I’ll post one here every now and again. Stay tuned and let me know if you are dealing with a diagnosis that is kicking your ass. Not sure if macrobiotics is for you, but I can tell you a lot of healing goes on at The Kushi Institute. Never thought it would be the answer I have found it to be! Yay Me!


noun, ( used with a singular verb)

a philosophically oriented program incorporating elements from several ancient cultures and emphasizing harmony with nature, especially through adherence to a diet consisting primarily of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and moderate amounts of seafood and fruit.

Do you people read horoscopes? I remember scrolls we used to buy at the supermarket in a little plastic tube a different color each month kinda mezuzah-like. The scroll – a long list of daily vague assertions and destiny of love interests held by a future based on birth sign. They were all so similar, one month to the next, one sign or another.

We can celebrate! Along with food quality and environmental awareness horoscopes seem to have undergone a rebirth of sorts since my teenage years. Look at what I’m seeing as I am madly planning, organizing, researching, tidying, and plotting our year in Ireland. Here is my favorite:

 And another really good one:

Thanks to Eric Francis Coppolino Rob Brezsny, this month, more than ever, I’m feeling like I am on the right track, definitely counting my lucky stars.

Where do you find your favorite birth sign based predictions?

Horoscope from the book of the birth of Iskandar Wellcome

Time marches on and planning and work are coming along nicely.  Three things we need to get in order before we head across the pond on sabbatical are: 

  1. Creating a sustainable financial model for Shire City Sanctuary
  2. Renting our house
  3. Figuring out what to do with our house pets

A giant step in accomplishing the first goal happened last Monday.  (More on the second and third goals to come.)

07.20.15 Shire City Sessions

We had our kick off event for Shire City Sessions on July 20 and it was a great success! Over 400 people turned out to see The Lucky 5 Band and US Elevator with special guest members of Deer Tick in our parking lot. The day was sunny and bright, music magical, ice cold craft beer from Big Elm Brewing and tasty eats from How We Roll all made the evening memorable. It came about with the serendipitous forming of a group of Pittsfield based business leaders who wanted to do something great for our community. There will be two more ‘Sessions’ to round out our debut season of Compuworks Shire City Sessions. You can see more about them at our facebook page here:


05.26.15 Call To Makers

In other news, vendor applications for Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy are open until August 1. This event grew out of CRISPINA studio sales. Those of you who have been following along for more than a few years will remember the highjinx we had WAY back in Millerton, NY where it all started. Then Housatonic was our base where Big Fun Studio Sales happened a few times a year with music and craft beer (see the pattern?) in our south county riverside parking lot at the old Monument Mills complex.  In 2006 when we bought this big beautiful church in Pittsfield it became the destination and it is our current location where a few studio sales predated the Holiday Shindy.  Since CRISPINA’s high volume production days ended in 2008 Studio Sales have morphed into magical gatherings of nearly 60 regional makers of notable eats, crafts, clothing and the like. The vibe celebrates making with a whole lot more creative people involved.  There is live music, warm community, wonderful shopping and Santa ususally shows up. And just so you know, A Shindy is an uproarious rumpus. Help spread the word to creative makers in your circles to apply for The Berkshires premiere holiday sales event, Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy 2015. Here is a link to the application:



Got back from my Irish adventure planning and hit the ground running with a refreshed essence of understanding clear goals requiring hard work.

Shire City Sessions stage building was a wonderful collaboration on Saturday as I was rubbing the jetlag from the corners on my eyes. Sunday and today were filled with some of the most amazing women in the studio at my Potholder Rug Workshop here at Shire City Sanctuary. Tomorrow there are meetings and interviews to promote Shire City Sessions and Oh Boy I feel like I need a vacation (yes! I did just get back from one.)

My creative goal is to turn my stock of materials into awesome fresh marketable product for the last three sales events on my 2015 calendar – you know Straw into Gold! Mark your calendars now and make a plan to come see me at NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck NY on October 17 and 18 2015, Hudson Valley Exchange’s Basilica Farm and Flea in Hudson on Thanksgiving weekend and/or our very own Shire City Sanctuary’s Holiday Shindy December 11-13. At the end of this year I will take a break from making using recycled textiles. There will be fresh new work in the future but if you love what I make and have wanted something special to warm your heart or home, don’t miss out. This will be the end of an era.

Ok now back to cutting stencils for The Dolphin Studio’s 2016 calendar and maybe even squeezing in a short run of art posters for our first Shire City Session kicking off one week from today with The Lucky 5 Band and U.S. Elevator 5-9pm at Shire City Sanctuary. Food Trucks, Craft Beer and GREAT music – FREE

Good thing I love running.

On my run this morning what I thought was a leaf, fluttered to the ground in front of me. I reached out my hand and found a butterfly wing. Feels right – a beautiful metamorphosis is in the making. Funny the reminders we are literally handed along the way. you had a reminder to stay on your path lately? Leave a comment and share your story.

We are hoping that our year-long stay in Ireland will teach how to slow down. Both Chris and I know that we want to simplify and seem to have trouble figuring out how to do it with all our commitments. My schedule upon return from this short trip is already overwhelmed. The next 12 months will be filled with delegating what we can to the helpers around us, and focusing carefully on not taking-on anything new. There are still lots of details to work out but the bulk of our travel logistics are underway.

The adventure of culture change for our family is exciting. This time tomorrow we will be heading to the airport in our tiny little car that has used less than a tank of gas all week with lots of excursions. The week has flown by full of family, history, and finding solutions to conumdrums in a foreign land – all of it wonderful – including my sweet friends who were kind enough to join me on my mission. Looking forward to being reunited with my littles and sweet husband. And then, getting back to my grind – with a renewed sense of exciting change.

My father was one of my best friends. He was an amazing artist, storyteller, travel companion, and house cleaner. Most of all, he had magical gardens. He did not have a mere green thumb, but hands full of nurturing and colorful creativity. His prized garden thrives at the house he and my sweet mother left to me and my sister in Kinvara, on the west coast of Ireland. I am visiting here now, channeling his sense of high-jinx and adventure with dear friends researching a family adventure that my hubby and littles will embark on in September 2016. We are getting ducks in a row to spend a year here. Learning about schools, and health insurance, and getting passports. AND learning about the amazing array of plants in this magical garden that will soon be mine to tend.


Slowing down meant that today I stayed home with Lucy while Violet ventured out to Day Camp all on her own. We had a wonderful day being silly and getting things done a little gardening, a nice run, a bunch of computer work, and it culminated with her making tortillas from scratch for dinner – great to get a little hiatus before the whirlwind of the coming rest of the week.

Some of you might know that my son lives with a pretty severe heart condition, a Restrictive Myopathy. On Thursday he will undergo a risky procedure to restore a normal heart rhythm. My connection to our higher power is heightened and I feel positive and confident that Ben will weather this well and feel a sense of relief shortly afterward. Getting myself into this frame of mind requires an enormous level of energy.

On Friday I have a ticket to Ireland with two dear friends where we will spend an abbreviated stay exploring and preparing for our next family adventure. More on that another time.

Before any of this happens I need to get a few things done in the studio to be sure the momentum keeps flowing in my 10-day absence. the things will happen shortly after my return home. First I will be teaching my last Potholder Rug Workshop of the year on July 12 and 13. It is a Sunday/Monday and there are spots open for both days. You can register here –

Second, Shire City Sessions will be turning this parking lot into a Live Music, Craft Beer, Food Truck EXTRAVAGANZA for the first time on July 20. There are posters to hang, t-shirts to print, reuseable cups to order and YIKES so little time!2015-06-26 19.06.51

Send a prayer to Ben. Let him and his issues be a reminder to love the ones you hold dear to your heart. Everyday you have to share with those special people is a blessing. Life is beautiful and precious.

My hubby and I own a former Catholic Church and rectory next door in Pittsfield MA. You might know about it – called Shire City Sanctuary – a Makerspace in the former church AND we have turned the adjacent rectory into 4 apartments right in the heart of our healing city. (Pittsfield has a long history of toxicity left in the wake of General Electric’s production – PCBs in the river, tainted soil given to land owners as ‘clean fill’ and even used in public school playgrounds.) For 30 years the EPA and GE have been arguing, talking about, and promising to cleaning it up and they never will. It has been such a long time that most people don’t remember the atrocities.

We remember – and know that waiting around for other people or government agencies to do the right thing is most often wasted time. We are taking the healing into our own hands.

Jay and Matt Lamb of Berkshire Earth Brigade working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.
Jay Allard and Matt Lamb working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.

Here is how: with Permaculture.

We are healing our ground with plants and mushrooms, creating productive, low maintenance, nurturing gardens for our tenants and neighbors to use and enjoy. We have hired Matt Lamb and a couple collaborators to turn our grounds into a magical healing wonderland of food and beauty. Stay tuned here for updates and pictures throughout the seasons. It all just started and is off to an amazing start.


We have ants in our house. We are chemical phobic too so controlling pests is always alternative and sometimes not so effective. After dealing with little tiny ants for most of our super freezing cold winter and then an entourage of big fat black ants that moved in with the change of season we found a great solution and are currently living ant free!

Eyeball equal amounts of maple syrup and Borax. Stir them together in a shallow plate, saucer or jar top. We put a jar top full of this mix under our stove where the little tiny ants found and indulged in it. They soon dissipated. This last week I made a bigger batch and left it on the kitchen counter while we were gone for the day. After finding ants upstairs crawling across my pillow, traversing the top of our window molding and tickling my toes under my desk I sit here making this entry with nary an ant in sight. According to my hubby, the ants eat up the mix, carry it to their nests and it kills them. Sorry guys.

You can find Borax in the laundry aisle of most conventional grocery stores.

Do you have a highly effective non-toxic remedy to share?


used clothing alchemy picnic blanket by crispina ffrench made from recycled corduroys

This weekend I will be selling all manner of Used Clothing Alchemy at the Hudson River Exchange Summer Market ~ From what I hear this is one not to be missed! I am really excited to have the opportunity to share my picnic blankets, summer clothing collection and all natural yoga mats in this beautiful outdoor setting right along the majestic Hudson River! For directions and hours you can check out their website at With all these picnic blankets coming together in the studio, I am planning a few picnics sprinkled throughout the summer. A hot sunny beach on Cape Cod, Inside Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow and The Lawn at Tanglewood are definite. Where is your favorite picnic destination?

Oh, I can just imagine the warm sun on my face now!