Road Trip: Vermont and New Hampshire

Please pardon my recent absence, I was on the road in Vermont for a writing assignment. I’ve featured my friends Miranda Thomas (“Winky”) and Charles Shackleton on this blog before. Each time I visit them I learn so much about the natural and creative worlds – which overlap much in their presence. A few images from this trip…

vermont one

Just a wee bit of research for the article, done upstairs in the warm super comfortable barn that is filled with Winky’s pots and painting.

vermont two cs

A bedroom display at ShackletonThomas. Doesn’t that bed look delicious? How about the soft green chair next to it? This time I fell in love with a rocking chair. One day! When Charlie designs and makes furniture it is with such humanness. He uses his hands for a great deal of the process so that you can feel a bit of his history and person in each piece. There is something very old and pure about his furniture and Winky’s pottery – it is alive and full of character.


I never leave empty handed and this trip was no exception. Tea is a morning and late afternoon ritual in the Shackleton household so I thought it apropos to get one of Winky’s beautiful handmade pots. A trick she taught me – pour hot water from the kettle into the pot, empty it, pour more in and then put the tea in – this warms the pot – do the same with your mug.

nh bridge

nh bridge two

One day, Winky and I made a day of it – driving over to see the bridge in Cornish, New Hampshire near where the writer J.D. Salinger would stand and greet his visitors. He was a very private soul for the last half of his life, passing in 2010. We had lunch at King Arthur Flour and I finally saw the beautiful Dartmouth College campus.

Living Mindfully

Hold the door for someone and when the door is held for you say “thank you”.  Note, don’t hold the door open to a restaurant or similar place where patrons – and the owner – will be none too happy about the cool breeze you are letting in. I don’t understand people who let the door slam in my face anymore than the folks who leave their shopping carts in parking spaces in a busy lot. Appreciating those around you should make them and you happier and more mindful. ox


Photographer Friday: Don James

Years before surfing was popularized in Beach Boy songs and the television show “Gidget”,  and before it became a billion dollar industry, Don James and his buddies were part of the Southern California surfing culture. In 1936, at the age of 15, James began photographing himself and his friends catching waves and hanging out along the coast between San Onofre (near San Clemente) and Point Dume (near Malibu).

Inspired by legendary surfer Tom Blake‘s surfing images in National Geographic, James taught himself how to take pictures. For information on his camera equipment and waterproofing it, go here.

He continued taking pictures of surfers between lifeguarding shifts and later dental school classes at the University of Southern California.

Surfing San Onofre to Point Dume: 1936 – 1942: Photographs by Don James is a book I have carried with me from my early days in Los Angeles.  It remains a favorite.

surfing one
surfing two

surfing three

Weekend Reading

Happy almost weekend!!

As part of my weekly Weekend Reading posts I’m introducing a semi-regular section called “Show and Tell” in which someone tells us about something special to them. You know that

Here we go.. for the first one I approached my friend Samantha Lindgren who founded and runs A Gathering of Stitches (GOS)  in Portland, Maine. GOS is a maker space for fiber and textile artists. I am renting a desk there this winter.  Samantha is one of those uber talented people who makes all her own clothes – even bathing suits!! – and beautiful quilts.

15-15-1 Featherweight (1 of 1)

Last Fall I was lucky enough to have an early 1950’s era Singer Featherweight enter my universe. Her name is Grenelle and she was very well loved by her previous owner. My impulse to buy her was purely fetishistic, I had seen a couple of them at a workshop I had recently attended, and had fallen hard for their pure, historic beauty. When this pristine example circled around me I couldn’t resist, and installed her in my studio. She sits between my three-year-old computerized Elna workhorse with all the modern bells and whistles, and a stripped down Bernina serger from the 80’s that does just what I need it to do.  These two other machines do not have names you may have noticed. My Grenelle however, she has a personality, and a name borrowed from her original owner. I was recently working on a quilt and having issues with seam integrity that was slowing me down. It’s hard to explain to a non-sewist, but the beginning and ends of my seam were fraying uncooperatively. I had read somewhere online about a quilter who swore by her Featherweight for quilting, so I thought I’d give it a try. I am hooked! I’m not sure if someone could give me a scientific explanation of the difference in stitches between Grenelle and my Elna, and I do feel like a sewing geek for saying this, but Grenelle’s stitches are just more beautiful.  They just are. For piecing together quilt tops, she excels. And so she is my default position for piecing, and a tool that is very close to my heart. – Samantha Lindgren

Link Love
We are so fortunate in Maine to have such a strong state university and cooperative extension programs. In Cumberland County, UMCE is holding a workshop on cooking with seaweed. Three experts will discuss sourcing, selecting and preparing seafood and seaweed Saturday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth.  Cost is $40; proceeds benefit the UMaine Extension Nutrition Program in Cumberland County. Register here.

young kelp

Better Late Than Never
The OSCAR noms are out!!

The “Mountain Mural” Bedroom Makeover project on Apartment Therapy.  A beautiful idea. If I had a studio space or children and thus kids room I would love to try and do this with some of the mountains/volcanoes I saw in Uganda.

NASA travel posters – amazing!!

and a few pics from my “Makes me Smile” Pinterest Board – because let’s face it between Nigeria and Paris it’s been a tough week!  A fluffy dog, wool socks in bed, pink flowers, and hot cocoa can always get me to smile. ox




What exactly am I scared of?


That could mean a million things to any one person.  So, here’s my question – how do you deal with the thing that most scares you?

I’m claustrophobic. As a child I hated riding in elevators so much – even looking at them made me nervous – so I would walk however many flights of stairs it took to reach my destination. My father was some kind of patient. That fear ultimately manifested itself in flying and a couple times I had panic attacks in really crowded or small places.  Most recent, semi-embarrassing time was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when a security guard could see I was visibly shaken from, well being in a small place. Sometimes I have no advance warning, sometimes a situation is okay until it’s not.

Riding in elevators is not my favorite thing to do, but I deal with it. Flying was something that got to be such a huge fear that I couldn’t think about booking airline tickets without getting sick and just seeing a plane – especially the inside of one – on television was enough to make me walk out of the room. When I needed to fly I took prescribed sleeping pills or took the train.  Since I couldn’t stay on sleeping pills for two back to back long flights I missed out on some great trips. A year ago I had had enough of the fear. I had not traveled to so many places I wanted to while my friends kept going on these amazing adventures to Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia…

My frustration had outgrown my fear when I finally contacted my travel agent and booked my first trip to Africa. I was still going to take a sleeping pill, but that was just going to get me through a bulk of the flight. All the days before and hours getting to and sitting in the airport I would be wide awake. So, I came up with a sort of plan. I got a fun book, some fashion magazines, put together a great mix on my iPod, bought a cute jacket for the plane, and read all about the places I’d be going and looked at tons of pictures of those places. A week before my flight I started having mini panic attacks, but in truth the only thing scarier to me at that point than getting on the plane was not getting on the plane. There was no way I wasn’t going. And I did and I was fine and I’ve flown long flights again and again. I still take a sleeping pill when I get on a long flight and still get the jitters, but now I know I can do it and I do. Confronting my greatest fear meant taking it head on – well sort of, I’ve still got those pills.

Buddha said “When you embrace the enemy, he cannot beat you.”

Wise words.


Tips for flying if you have a fear of it – learned from personal experience:

Don’t drink caffeine or have sugar 8 hours before your flight.

Focus on the destination and what you are going to do when you get there, who you’ll hang out with, where you will eat, etc.

Consider a sleeping aid, personally I think it’s healthier than alcohol. Talk to your doctor even if you are considering getting an over the counter aid.

Invest in a neck pillow. On longer flights some airline companies hand out eye masks and socks, those are great additions.

Don’t wear sweats, dress nice – put some effort into it – act the part of a calm carefree flyer even if you’re not. Heck, get a manicure a couple days in advance.

Remind yourself flying is way safer than driving. No need to look at statistics, just know it.

Check out a map of the interior of the plane so you are prepared in advance for how big or small it is. Better to have your minor freak out a day or two before than upon arrival.

Read some of those travel beauty, what to pack for long flights articles. Focus on – again – acting the part of the calm, carefree flyer.

Try to sit closer to the front of the plane or between the wings, my experience has been turbulence affects you less there and the plane doesn’t seem as confining as in the back.

Be proud of yourself for doing this, once you’re strapped in and the plane has taken off you’ve committed to it so be prepared and stay calm – breathe.

Weekend Reading

These January days in Maine the sky is grey and the days are just beginning to grow longer.  It’s on the coldest and cloudiest days I am grateful for a cup of tea, wool blanket, and a good book.  Some candles may be lit, there may even be a fire in the fireplace. I am going for comfort. What kinds of books do you like to read? How do you find them? I mostly go off recommendations from the folks at Hello Hello Books in Rockland. While in town yesterday the staff turned me onto the mystery series by by Julia Spencer -Fleming and lobbied for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel The Signature of All Things. I picked it up for free with store credit, woo hoo.

books read

books stacks

Read Me – Winter Reading List

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Joseph Addison

Honestly, I read many more books than those I am listing. Most were for research and some quite heavy or disappointing (or both), so those – mainly the ones on Africa – I did include are those I think anyone could enjoy. This year I hope to read more new releases (= support the publishing world) as well as take advantage of the public library (= save money).

Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 2) by Alexander McCall Smith / In Morocco by Edith Wharton / The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola / How to be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret, and Sophie Mas / The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs / The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence by Martin Meredith / Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck / Peace Meals by Anna Badkhen / The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner / The Challenge for Africa by Wangari Maathai / The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris / A Year in Provence (a joy!!) and Toujours Provence (letdown!) by Peter Mayle / Definitely Maybe by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky / Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad / Radio Congo Ben Rawlence / The Bonobo and the Atheist by Frans de Waal /
Land of a Thousand Hills by Rosamund Halsey Carr (inspiring) / The Prophet’s Camel Bell by Margaret Lawrence/ The Road to Timbuktu by John Mortimer / The Impenetrable Forest by Thor Hanson / Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley / The Secret History by Donna Tartt / The Book of Life (3rd of A Discovery of Witches trilogy) Deborah Harkness / Whiskey Women by Fred Minnick

Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World by Robin Wright / The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (quasi permanent space on my bedside table) / Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer -Fleming (it’s the third in the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne mystery series, I’m starting with this one)

In the to-read stack
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston / The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama / A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof / The Circle by Dave Eggers / Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (the seventh in the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne mystery series) / The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Pilgrims is my favorite book by her).


Instead of Link Love or Better Late Than Never, Instead of the tomorrow’s regular Friday Photo post – simply the following.  ox Paris

Cartoonists around the world rallied today behind fellow artists killed in yesterday morning’s terror attack at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office because of their satirical drawings mocking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Surviving staff are planning to print 1 million copies of next week’s run (normally they run 30,000) with the help of Google and other magazines.  One of the writers of Charlie Hebdo said on TV “It’s very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win.”

Image by London-based artist Lucille Clerc. #raiseyourpencilforfreedom


Living Mindfully

This is the first post in a semi-regular series called Living Mindfully. Posts will feature ways to brighten someone else’s day. Showing kindness doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Living Mindfully 1/6/15:  Smile at strangers. It’s easy, feels good, and makes you more attractive. And, maybe the person you’re smiling back will smile back at you and others. After all, smiling is contagious.


smile glitter

Pics from Pinterest.

Goodbye 2014, hello 2015!!

And just like that, it was 2014.   Before truly embracing the new year, I feel the need to reminisce just a wee bit about some of the bigger happenings of “my” 2014. Care to join me for a stroll down memory lane?


I took a few online classes for free from top universities via Coursera.

birkenstocks rediscovering the joy


Rediscovered Birkenstocks and my love of bracelets – the kind you never take off.

oysters with friends


Enjoyed oysters and tasted whiskey with friends.

beekeeping another

beekeeping frame

great cluck egg farm

Continued to enjoy my small flock of chickens and be inspired by bees.


my little pal

Lost my little pal Kirkland, who had traveled all the way to Maine with me from Los Angeles all those years ago.

during dining room

new dining room

office bc

Finally renovated my kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. And, while the guys were at it I had a custom bookcase made for my office. A second one, because I have so many books.

making table

me and winky

Built a dining room table for my “new” dining room at my friends Charles and Winky’s Naked Table Workshop.

SF Giants game


Attended a SF Giants game and had an incredible meal at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland – bonus, during the wait for a table enjoying baked goods and coffee outside.


istanbul breakfast

istanbul shop

istanbul tea

turkish honey

Ate and shopped my way through Istanbul, and brought back Turkish honey samples to boot.

Rwanda coffee tour

Went to East Africa twice.

Weekend Reading

us aid sign kisoro

ctph us aid

Last night, I sat in on a webcast on by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and listened to a panel of four aid workers give first-hand accounts of MSF’s response to to the Syrian civil war and the health crises in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. This is the second webcast I’ve sat in on and I knew it would impact today’s post, but until this morning I just didn’t know how….

This time of year we wish each other a happy holiday season and good health in the coming year. Those are certainly things I included in the holiday cards I sent out.  But do we think about what that latter part means – I certainly thought about it seriously in the card to my 97-year-old mentor. As a donor to MSF, I receive field news reports about where and how MSF is providing medical care in countries where not even the most basic modern health care systems are now in place. Countries in turmoil from years of military conflicts and possibly extreme weather, where the populations rely on international organizations for maternal and child health care, immunizations, and emergency treatment. And, I know first-hand about the loss of life due to lack of proper treatment in the DR Congo and have seen the efforts in places like Uganda by U.S. Aid to empower the poor with information on malaria, AIDS, and maternal care. (Pictures above of U.S. Aid funded malaria prevention and personal hygiene campaigns in Uganda.)

In the United States of America our health care system might not be perfect, in fact in some ways it might be really bad – but I guarantee you it’s not anywhere near as faulty as the struggling healthcare networks in most Third World countries.

And, by the way….

As of January 1, 2015, all U.S. citizens are required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. For families with income above $28,500, the penalty is 1% of income, but not more than the average cost of a bronze level plan. At lower income levels, the penalty is $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, with a $285 maximum per family. Certain individuals, such as those whose income is below the filing threshold, are exempt from the penalty.

Before you think about complaining about a medical bill or wait time in a doctor’s office, or the next time you wish someone good health in a holiday card – please take a second to be grateful for all you have and all you don’t have to worry about.

To learn more about MSF and/or to donate please visit their website here.


Better Late Than Never
Top ten photos of 2014 as compiled by Time Magazine.

Turkish Airlines has created an epic food map. I added the above picture from my meal (plantain bread, fish stew, cassava dish) in Kisangani, Province Orientale DR Congo. Have a favorite meal from somewhere you traveled and want to share it with the chance of winning a trip? Enter the Turkish Airlines competition. **What is your most memorable meal from a trip and where do you want to travel next?

What happened when a woman lived according to the Pinterest “most popular” page?  Sounds exhausting, but she nailed it! Must read for any gal who gives a damn about the perfection portrayed on Pinterest and Instagram.

I’m not trying to be mean, but this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year. I laughed myself silly at this YouTube video “How to Recover from Treadmill Fail

There are a lot of Best of 2014 album lists, e.g. 8tracks. Some of my favorite music from the past year…

• Rosanne Cash, The River & the Thread. SO good.
• Taylor Swift, 1989. I don’t care, I love her.
• Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence. A different sort of album for me, but I like the depth of some of the tracks.
• Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams. Every single song.
• Drive by Truckers, English Oceans. Really good but not as good as the older stuff.
• Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Give People What They Want. Ooooh.
• Eric Church, The Outsiders.

I hope you enjoyed the past few posts since the relaunch of Delicious Musings in September.  Thank you very much for reading! In 2015, you will find new original in-depth series as related to food and travel. Exciting adventures await!!

I will resume posting on January 5th. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season!!!

Photographer Friday: Arnold Newman

One of my most cherished photography books is Arnold Newman: Five Decades. One of the most important photographers period. His work greatly influenced portraiture, his personal relationship with the camera and subject’s life are rarely approached. He called his style “environmental portraits,” and said considered his work symbolic. He was interested in not just documenting someone’s life, but in conveying his impression of the individual.

I am in awe of his portraits of Eugene O’Neill (NYC, 1946), Otto Frank (Amsterdam, 1960), Aaron Copeland (Peekskill, NY, 1959), and Jerry Uelsmann (Gainesville, FL, 1980).  Beautiful and emotional, his images are windows into the very souls of these persons in those moments when he clicked.
an cover

an int

I.M. Pei, NYC, 1967 and Martha Graham, NYC, 1961

al hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld, NYC, 1983

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about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.


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