Hello Friends,

       Happy New Decade!  This newsletter is extra special for me to write because it marks the culmination of my 2019 New Year's Resolution to have an email newsletter, and I think it has now become a ritual instead of a resolution.
      As promised on instagram, I'm emailing my recipes for Blackberry Brandy, and Elderberry Syrup today.  These are two health cures that I enjoy in the winter, and that I gifted to loved ones this year.  In years past, I've made herbal salves, quilted hot pads, and other homemade treasures. This interest in sharing recipes with you stems from my love of all things handmade, and passion for being a Renaissance person.  In fact, I think it's exactly those interests that led me to make a quilt in the first place.
     I also write about some winter wisdom that's been passed down to me, share about the 3rd quilt I ever made, and have details on an upcoming museum exhibition in Door County, Wisconsin.
Elderberry Syrup and Blackberry Brandy

  • I infused whole blackberries into E&J VSOP brandy, but you can use any good brandy.  I filled my containers with a shy third of berries, and then filled them with brandy.  
  • I kept them in a dark corner of my kitchen, near the fridge so I'd notice them, and shook them every day for a moon cycle- about a month.
  • I strained them and bottled.  In terms of shelf life: the version I made this time last year is still good.
  • My Grandpa Parkes would suggest a spoonful anytime you're under the weather.
  • I combined many of my favorite recipes that I've tried and viewed online to develop this remedy, you can be playful with your ingredients too.
  • Combine in a pot:
    • 7oz dried elderberries
    • 3oz dried juniper berries
    • 3oz dried rosehips
    • 1.5oz dried hibiscus flowers
    • 1oz dried yerba santa
    • 1 palmful dried whole leaf garden mint
    • 8" fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
    • 2-3 Tbsp black peppercorns
    • 2-3 Tbsp whole cloves
    • 1 shy Tbsp cardamom seeds
    • 2 tsp dried powdered rosemary
    • 1 tsp dried licorice root
    • 2 tsp dried echinachea
    • 1 dash powdered cinnamon
  • Then I added about 7 cups of filtered water, and cooked on low for about 2 hours.
  • The liquid decreased somewhat, but I covered the pot about halfway through, resulting in about 3-4 cups liquid
  • I strained the liquid and reserved it, and placed all my plant matter in a blender and blended it with new water, filling the pot to a similar fill line as before.
  • Cook another 2 hours, strain, and combine liquids.
  • While still warm, but not hot, add 1 cup raw honey for every 2 cups liquid.  
  • When cool, add 1/2 cup brandy for every 1 cup of honey added.
  • The honey and brandy will help it last longer, but always refrigerate.
  • My naturopath has me on 1 tsp per day when I feel healthy, but am at risk for illness.  When sick, I'll take a swig about 4 times per day.
     This month, I've been thinking about winter break season.  In December 2013, I made the above quilt as a holiday gift for my dad.  It was my 3rd quilt ever, and yet, I saw it as an opportunity to work intensely for a week as a quilter, to see if this was something I could enjoy doing in a full time rather than hobby timeframe.
     It's been strange, this winter and last (since my dad passed away at 69), having this quilt back in my home.  Made as a gift, I never anticipated living with it. (I'm sure many other quilters know what this is like.) It reminds me of my dad's home, it's sometimes a point to focus my missing him on, it's sometimes a comfort to be near something that he lived with, and I'm grateful that it serves as a physical reminder that I showed him that I loved him in a variety of ways.  2013 was a big year of healing for us, working through old hurts, and this special quilt is evidence of that.  The quilting represents the circles in a tree trunk, and the hand dyed coffee quilt top feels like panels of cut wood.  He and I bonded while woodworking, and enjoyed focusing on making something and activity rather than just talking.  The hand dyed 'rit' blue interior of the quilt felt intuitive at the time, and now I think it's about water, and the way a relationship can transform so completely between two people over time, slowly thawing out, and flowing to a new place.  It was a birthday/Christmas gift, since he was born on 12/11, and I on 12/13.   The truth is, that I don't think my dad ever used this quilt, but he kept it carefully folded on display in his living room.  One winter, we took it out for a photo shoot. 
   This December, I attended a very special local concert here in Milwaukee.  Johanna Rose of Nickel & Rose, and Klassik played a heartfelt version of Ship in the Sky that night to remember their dads. (Johanna's song My Old Man touches my heart so much too)
     The unexpected thing about living with this quilt, is that it has reminded me so much of the moments when I was falling in love with quilting.  The pure joy that I experienced in making the quilt, and the courage that it helped inspire in me, pulse through it like electricity.  In honor of that powerful winter energy, I thought I'd share a list of the things I'm most in tune with this winter, and that connect with 'resolution' time.  Maybe this list will inspire you too.  These are mostly words of wisdom that were shared with me, and have now become internalized.  I certainly don't have all the answers, but I am good at recognizing when a new shift in behavior has benefitted me, and I hope this may benefit you in your creative endeavors as well:

Winter check-in's:
  1. What do I love about my life right now, that I could be enjoying more deeply, just as it is? (When I started quilting, I had very little money coming in, but I had a lot of free time, and I used that time to make furniture with my dad.)
  2. How can I express myself more clearly to the people in my life?  They can't read my mind, so what if I really spelled out my needs, my wishes, and the things I'm grateful for? (My dad had very mild Aspergers, and when my step mom told me about it, and my therapist taught me to communicate more directly with him, it helped.  When I applied that same way of communicating with everyone, it changed everything for me.)
  3. What pursuits are most important to me, and what interests or 'shoulds' are stealing my time away from them? (There's a TedTalk about this that I cannot find, but streamlining my goals is a powerful tool for success)
  4. How can I encourage more of what I want?  How can I talk about, see, be near, and experience more of that behavior/thing? (The Law of Attraction is real.)
  5. What's urgent vs important?  According to Eisenhower they rarely overlap, so which 'urgent' things can I actually delete from my to-do list? (I got this advice at SAIC career services.)
  6. How can I be kind?  More often, to more people, including me? (More SAIC advice.)
  7. Are there any health problems that I've become accustomed to that I could ask for help with? (I'm grateful to've worked with a naturopath and an occupational therapist on being healthy instead of avoiding being sick.) 
  8. How can I notice the most beautiful part of each day, and acknowledge and enjoy it more deeply?  Maybe with a photo, words, or an extra 30 seconds? (Instagram has helped me with this.)
  9. What if I didn't try so hard?  Could it still work without all the trying and wanting? (Yoga.  My teacher Indu is great at saying, "Let it be effortless." And my teacher Rolf has written a whole chapter in his book on the topic of effortlessness.)
  10. Am I resting enough?  Especially when I feel the tingle of exhaustion before an illness. And, am I giving other people enough opportunities to be 'there' for me?  (I forget exactly where I learned this, but people love being helpful- I love being helpful, it makes me feel good. It's a hard one to remember, but being sick reminds me.)
I sure am glad I asked my dad for help on this winter day. 💙 That's him, behind the quilt in late 2014.
Upcoming classes with openings still available in them:

Improv Life, Improv Quilts (Lecture)
Saturday, February 1, 10am - 12 noon
at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, WI

Hand-Pieced Curves: Fast! 
Saturday, February 1, 10am - 5pm 
& Sunday, February 2, 10am - 4pm
at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, WI
(This class includes the February 1 Improv lecture)

MQG QuiltCon
February 20-23, 2020 in Austin, TX
There's still space in my lecture on creating a series

MQG Sessions
May 7-9, 2020 in Denver, CO
Hand piece a quilt top in a day

Visible Hand Piecing and Improv Hand Quilting
October 5-9, 2020
at the Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA), WI

For the most updated list of my class offerings, please visit the workshops tab on
I'll be exhibiting in Textile Tableau: An Exploration of Paintings in Fiber at the Miller Art Museum in Door County, WI this winter.  Weather permitting, I may be at the opening reception from 3-4:30 on Saturday 1/18, and the show runs through 2/24/20.
I'm also in the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts' current Biennial exhibition through 2/2/20.

Warmest wishes for the New Year!!


 “Day 7: Resting.  I held my son Dylan, for the first forty-five minutes or so of his life.  I watched as his eyes opened and he saw light for the first time.  He looked at me and he smiled.  The nurses said it could not be but it was.  Once we brought Dylan home I held him in may different ways.  I had a sling he could live in like a cave,  a snuggly he rested in on my chest, one-armed and two-armed carries, a backpack; however I carried him we were always so close we could hear each other's heartbeats.  To this day when Dylan is upset he lies on my chest so that his heart is on my heart and he just lets go.  Sitting and breathing is like that for me: resting my heart in life's heart and learning to let go.”

 -Rolf Gates, Meditations on Intention and Being

I saw Klassik and Johanna Rose perform this song live recently in Milwaukee. ❤️ 
Copyright © 2020 Heidi Parkes, All rights reserved.

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