Category Archives: blog


Every week we gather a group of products we love around a theme from Etsy – an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items and supplies for making.  This week’s theme is Apples.  Weekly ‘Treasuries’ are normally posted on Mondays.  Click on the images below and be taken to a place on Etsy where you can purchase, and find more information about (and usually a bunch more pictures of) that item.  Both of Crispina’s online shops are located at along with a whole host of other handmakers, vintage resellers, and material retailers.  If you have a minute, leave a comment, it is always nice to hear your thoughts and build a little community right here in cyberspace.  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living.  Enjoy!

This year we had a super tasty and heavy apple harvest in New England! Join us at Shire City Sanctuary  this Saturday (Oct. 3) for our fist Cider Making workshop! What is your favorite apple?

Book Art Apple


Bundle of 50 caramel apple t…


Traditional Cedar Apple Crat…


Scandinavian Fabric – Apple …


Made to Order – Pottery App…


Oak wooden apple,woodturned …


Cascade Washington Apple Fru…


50 Fuji Apple Tree Seeds, Ma…


Cider Press Workshop


Hard Cider Sign, hand pain…


Crated Fall Apples waiting f…


Mosaic Glass Apple Tree


Handblown Art Glass Apple


Kid’s Tee Shirt, Apple T…


apple pickin’ skirt – gr…


Barkcloth — Brown Funky Fru…


Powered By Handmadeology

Getting prepared for the cold weather ahead and relishing the last of the warm sunshine dappled shadows.

Custom Upholstered Wingback …


September 26 & 27 2015 – Bla…


Rustic wooden toy furniture,…


felted merino wool mittens, …


Set of 6 Stainless Steel Str…


Wool Blanket Native American…


Dolphin Studio Kitchen Towel…


Oversized Chunky knit sweat…


Hand Knitted Socks, Handknit…


Wool Cowl – Multi Colored Fa…


Classic Gnome Needle Felting…


Custom Turkish Velvet Vintag…


Knit Leg Warmers, Women’…


Vintage Bonny Wood Handle/ P…


Hand Forged Fire Poker and T…


Belgium Dutch oven


Every week we gather a group of products we love around a theme from Etsy – an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items and supplies for making.  These weekly ‘Treasuries’ are normally posted on Mondays.  You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where you can purchase that item and find more information about (and usually a bunch more pictures of) that item.  Both of Crispina’s online shops are located at along with a whole host of other handmakers, vintage resellers, and material retailers.  If you have a minute, leave a comment, it is always nice to hear your thoughts and build a little community right here in cyberspace.  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living.  Enjoy!

Been changing it up lately and digging right into my screen-printing roots. It has been super fun to screen print art posters for our Shire City Sessions – our free music festival in its first year. In addition, there is our annual Dolphin Studio calendar in the works for 2016 and a collection of kitchen towels coming together from The Dolphin Studio for the holidays. Stay tuned.

Here is a little history of Shire City Sessions – a collaboration that effortlessly fell together. Kathy Lloyd, of How We Roll, headed up the Foodtruck aspect of the super successful Spring Shindy at Shire City Sanctuary last May. People kept asking if we could do more events with food trucks and music. Kathy and Alan Bauman of CompuWorks were walking their dogs one morning and began chatting about the idea. Alan, a longtime Pittsfield entrepreneur (and musician) was interested in a sponsoring a community event to bring great music to our city and build awareness of his business CompuWorks. Kathy, Alan, and I met for the first time in late June and hosted the first of our series on July 20. We had lots of help from Josh Be09.10.15.5nnett of Pittsfield House Concerts, Darren O’Brien of Encore Audio, my sweet hubby Chris Swindlehurst, and lots of others. We screen printed t-shirts and each of our three Shire City Sessions has a correlating art poster. We printed, and band members signed a short run of four-color prints for each of our three events. We gifted our talented musicians a copy, had them for sale at our merch table at the events and we have few stashed away for the archive.


Our final show of the season is coming right up this Monday, September 14, 2015 5-9pm and its FREE! The Novel Ideas open for The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow. It is going to be a fun night. A movie will be shot for The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow and there is an afterparty at Hotel on North in the works that promises to be memorable. Come join us and see what an amazing community is gathering here in the heart of Pittsfield.   The party starts at 5pm with food trucks, craft beer, and pretty awesome live music. Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket. Come inside and see our Makerspace including a commercial kitchen, industrial sewing room, screen-printing shop, technology studio, cyber office, and BINGO! art gallery.

Oh and remember, enter to win!

Share this post, hashtag it ShireCitySanctuary, leave a comment below letting us know where you have shared and you will be entered in a drawing for a set of 3, 18″x24″ signed poster prints. The drawing will be on October 15.

I love blankets. Blankets are functional textile displays of the individual heritage alive in every culture of the world. I make blankets that are just that. Created from used textiles collected from discarded clothing that is so prolific in our wasteful way here in the grand ‘ole US of A.09.07.15.Trip.1

I cut up wool, cashmere, alpaca, and mohair sweaters, jeans, corduroys and anything else made with mostly natural, nice quality cloth. Cut shapes are pieced, even collaged, together using one of several alternative sewing techniques developed over the last 25 years.

Function is key so the processes used are geared toward long lasting use and heirloom quality. These materials and techniques are used to create blankets from the smallest crib sized snugglers to larger bed sized blankets. The process translates well to wearable pieces, smaller in scale allow for more detailed and intricacy.

The BEST news is that Shire City Sanctuary is hosting my Blanket, Shawl, and Scarf Immersion Workshop on September 26 and 27!


Students will be introduced to an array of construction techniques using hand and machine sewing on home and industrial sewing equipment.

Pieces will be cut with scissors, rotary cutting tools, and even die cut using a clicker press. The workshop spans two full days filled with creative high jinx literally turning a pile of clean laundry into a beautiful stack of handmade blankets, shawls, and scarves!

The process is empowering and deeply connected to our shared cultural history. Finished pieces most often contain pieces cut from many garments that have been worn and discarded by others. There is nostalgia in there, a history of a time past and a person who contributed cloth to the project in the act of discarding their garment.

Materials are affordable, common and accessible. Construction techniques are skillfully taught without judgment or pressure. There is no experience necessary although sewing machine comfort is helpful.

The use of all tools and materials are included in the cost of tuition, however, if specific colors are needed students are asked to bring those materials with them. All materials should be machine washed and dried prior to the workshop.

Register here:

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have questions or would like additional information about this workshop. Oh and if you miss this one, my 2016 Workshop schedule will be released Sept 30 – stay tuned!

08.12.15 4

Every summer I put corn in the freezer and bring summer right along for the ride through the coldest months of the year. This all started a long while back when my son, Ben was a baby. His dad, Charlie grows the best sweet corn I have ever tasted and his mom, Dolly has inspired all sorts of food preservation in me, and many others.

This is how I do it.

You will need:

A large amount of super delicious sweet corn. I ususally process a 50 lb bag.

A large covered pan big enough to cook full ears of corn (with cover on).

Large cutting board

Pancake Spatula

Sharp knife or Kernel Cutter

Large mouth Mason or Ball Jars with covers

Food funnel


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Husk all the corn. Break off long stems.

Boil 2 inches of water in a large covered pan.

Gently place as many ears of corn as will fit in the pan.

Steam them with cover on for 5-7 minutes.

Remove cooked ears from pan with tongs and allow to cool.08.12.15 2

Add more ears of to the hot water and steam them while the first batch is cooling.

When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off the cob.

Scoop up the kernels with the pancake spatula and fill jars using the food funnel.

Cover jars.

Let cool.

Pop into the freezer.

08.12.15 1

When ready to use frozen corn from freezer, thaw a jar in fridge and use within a day or two.





08.04.15 McQueen

Have you ever heard of this guy McQueen Adams?  I realize that compared to most I do live under a rock. I don’t watch television, read the paper, watch the news, follow sports, or go to the bar.  A whole lotta people follow him.  He’s worked with Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and toured with Radiohead.  He has dazzled the UK and is signed with Live Nation UK and will be touring Europe next spring. McQueen has filled the house in NYC, LA at the Ace Hotels performance space. He just completed his Ginger Corvette Tour to rave reviews and is going on his Fever Dream tour this September starting in Chicago and playing all over the Country.   Last week I had the good fortune to be introduced to McQueen by a mutual friend and fellow rebel, Aura Whitman of nAtURAlly Catering.

I’ve been checking out his site and videos and McQueen Adams is a super creative genius and F U N N Y! Part comedian, part projection artist, part DJ and a whole lotta performance artist

Just back from his first tour, his agent at William Morris Endeavor needed a live performance video for optimal marketing.  McQueen wasn’t into the whole corporate status quo comedy club in NYC, which is how we got to meet.  It’s the magic of owning a space like Shire City Sanctuary, mind-blowing creatives are drawn in and you get hangout, collaborate and feed each other the elation of creativity.

So, McQueen Adams is making a video in our downstairs stage area tonight.  It’s free and we can accommodate a small audience.  You, as a reader here, are invited to join us 8pm. Let’s be clear, there is no social networking or other promotion of this event at 40 Melville Street in the heart of Pittsfield. Looking forward to a memorable evening.

Most weeks a ‘Treasury’ is compiled in Etsy gathering a group of handmade or recycled items that pertain to what is going on around here.  As we are in the height of summer I am planning our family’s adventure to spend a year in Ireland beginning just about a year from now.  There seem like a lot of ducks to get in a row and I am determined.  Check these things out an imagine how they will help me on my mission.

Original Multi-Media 3-Dimen…


Waxed Irish Linen – 4 Ply Co…


Ganesha the Remover of Obsta…


Personalized Moving Announce…


250 Personalized Recycled Pe…


Personalized Gift Leather Pa…


Kraft Matchbook Notepads Se…


BULK Free Shipping Medium No…


Vintage Irish Linen Tea Towe…


wall calendar Aug 2015 – Jan…


1940s Unused Lucky Star Comp…


NOLLAIG Irish Tweed Christma…


Heart Checklist Sticker, Fla…


Monthly Blog Planning Worksh…


Weekly Wall Planner – Calend…


Weekly Planner Notebook [ Re…


Do you know about Etsy?  It is a marketplace of handmade and vintage items along with a huge array of supplies for making.  You can click on any image above and be taken right to where that item and ones like it are for sale.

Please leave a comment here and let us know which is your favorite item in the mix!

07.30.15.Black Eyed Susans

My hubby and I own a former Roman Catholic Church we call Shire City Sanctuary.  It is a Makerspace.  A Makerspace is like a gym for makers. There are day passes and monthly memberships. Members get a key and are welcome to come and go whenever they want. Equipment and workspace is shared. Lockers, Tubs, Shelves, and Studios are options for those who need storage or desire private workspace. There are classes and weekly public events. Oh and an AhhhMazing Event Space that anyone can rent. There is an strong community of collaborators gathering here that is super exciting!

07.30.15.ShadeIn addition, Shire City Sanctuary is residential. Four apartments are complete and inhabited (with two more to come) in the former rectory, next door to the church. We bought the buildings from the diocese in 2006 and moved in so we could slowly but surely turn the building into truly beautiful, ‘green’ apartments. Lots of reused marble from the church, moldings made with lumber from pews, no VOC paint, blown in cellulous insulation, were used to a make apartments where we would want to live. (Oh, and we did live in every corner of the building while we renovated.)07.30.15.ChurchThe two buildings, church and rectory, form a campus-like feel and are surrounded by amazing green space. This spring Chris and I hired Matt Lamb and Jay Allard of Berkshire Earth Regenerators to transform the yard into a beautiful space for us, and our tenants, to spend time. 07.30.15.MattOn Earthday we had seen a screening of Inhabit hosted by Matt at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge  The subject matter was pretty enligtening and Matt’s enthusiasm encouraged us to consider how our city and specifically our greenspace at Shire City Sanctuary really needed to be overhauled becoming organic, low maintenance, productive, biodiverse, and useful space.07.30.15.Hoogle Bed Matt was really excited when we approached him with our idea to Permaculture-Up the grounds at our center-city property and he set right to work. He walked the property, and assessed what we had growing there. He cleaned up trash, turned the neglected compost piles, and walked the property more, observing all the while.  Next he arranged a tenant meeting to establish how this greenspace should function to best serve the people who would use it most. After some careful thought and deliberation, he formed a solid plan for the space with stages of installment.  07.30.15.BlackCapsThen Berkshire Earth Regenerators showed up with a crew of the most amazing helpers and worked HARD for about a week. They planted a hugle bed, buffering noise and creating privacy. They built a beautiful shade structure to hang out in, created a swale to conserve and use rain water most efficiently. There are walkways, flowers and food growing. Soil is being nurtured with cover crops. Butterflies are fluttering, children are playing and our family dogs are finding shade.  07.30.15.QuinnIn just 6 weeks our property has been transformed and we have just gotten started.  We are really excited to keep the project going. Now that we have our first stage at the rectory solidly underway, we plan to encompass the church with permaculture and spread it as far and wide as we can. Ideas include lots of food and flowers right in front of the church, a rainwater catchment system (off a very large slate roof), fruit and nut trees that overhang our sidewalk with produce to share, a driveway changed from asphalt to pavers that allow drainage and greenspace, bunny tractors, bee hives, and chickens.  All in the heart of a predominantly asphalt covered small city in western Massachusetts. Feels like we might just be part of the solution and THAT feels really really good.  Thank you Matt Lamb and Berkshire Earth Regenerators!

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