A Reading Update

2014-11-19_0003I went on a binge this past week.  A reading binge, that is.  It’s like I couldn’t put my book down, even when the dishes, laundry and cooking (not to mention the boys!) were calling to me.  I’ve been single parenting quite a bit while my husband travels for work, so when he gets home, I retreat to the couch for a bit of down time.  Minutes turn into hours and before I know it, I’ve finished a book in one sitting.  When I get up out of my stupor I feel completely relaxed, and at the same time invigorated by the beauty of the story I just read.  You guys know your books- I have been relying solely on your recommendations, and I have not been steered wrong once.  I am slowly working my way through the list…savoring each read.  What’s amazing is that they are all different- mystery, YA, established authors, new writers- but they are all amazing.  I’m back to the library for my books now- with my new addiction I just couldn’t afford to keep up the bookstore thing! I’m no book reviewer, and you can easily read the blurb for each of these online, but here are a few thoughts…

Eleanor and Park, my favorite of the bunch, is a YA novel, but so beautifully written that it will take you right back to the awkward, painful, and often heart-breaking high school years.

The Furies is also set in a high school, where the students are behaviorally challenged, and their teacher, Alex, is recovering from her own traumatic incident.  A fast paced, thrilling read.  I liked it quite a bit, and sped through it, but it didn’t touch me, like Eleanor and Park.

Delancey is Molly Wizenbergs latest book, which picks up where A Homemade Life left off.  If you love food, and you’ve always wondered what goes into opening a restaurant, this book is for you.  I appreciated that it did not glamorize the process, but kept things very real; from the emotions, to the amount of physical labor and financial strain involved in starting up a business.  Basically, this book has me dying to jump on a plane and head to Seattle to soak up the food scene (it sounds incredible!).

Still Life is the first of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mysteries.  I love mysteries, though I like mine a bit more on the dark and gory side (that makes me sound weird, but whatever, it’s the truth!).  That being said, I loved the characters, and the setting; a small, picturesque town south of Montreal.  I’m definitely hooked enough to check out the next in the series (I believe there are 10 total).

And now, waiting for me on my nightstand….

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Cables and Changing Seasons

_MG_8549It snowed last week, the first snow of the year.  Vijay and Vik went outside just long enough to throw a few snowballs at each other, and then they came back inside and pretty much refused to leave the house for the rest of the weekend.  They wanted to wear their fleece pajamas and take warm baths, and build forts and pirate ships out of all the couch cushions and blankets in the house.  They are SO not cold weather kids.  It is laughable, really.  And perhaps the transition into winter will be extra difficult this year since we had such a lovely fall, full of sunshine and gradually changing leaves.  It fooled us all into thinking that winter might not be that bad….but apparently, it is supposedly there is a polar vortex coming our way.

_MG_8558On a sunny day last week (maybe one of our last?), I headed out into the falling leaves with my friend Sarah, and her daughter Emily.  We wanted to take some pictures of Emily in the sweater that I had knit her paired with the tunic that Sarah made.  The sweater goes by the name of Miss Korrigan, and it is the loveliest little layering piece imaginable.  Sweet cables, seed stitch trim, and luscious purple yarn combine for the perfect fall sweater.  Every single time I knit a little girl’s sweater for Emily, I start thinking about having a little girl of my own.  And then I snap back to reality and realize that I am perfectly happy knitting for little Em…at least for the moment!

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Cozy Quilted Vest

vest1This post has been a long time coming.  I believe I started working on this vest three or four months ago, and I had planned to finish it sometime in early September so that I could wear it throughout the fall.  But it’s worth the wait.  Cozy, stylish, a great layering piece; this vest has got it all going on.  When I first saw the pattern over on The Purl Bee, I knew I needed to make one for myself in the exact fabric that they used.  Because the more I sew, the more I hone in on pieces that I would actually wear, and let me tell you, I haven’t taken this off since I hand-stitched the last inch of binding.

_MG_8634I happened to see Elizabeth while wearing my vest- well let me pause here, I didn’t just happen to see her, I was over at her house using her shower because we were without plumbing all last week.  Though not to worry, a trillion dollars later and a completely torn-up front yard and it’s all good.  Hooray for 110 year old homes and pipes!  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, Elizabeth saw my vest and flipped.  I think I’ll have to make her one for Christmas.  She actually thought I had sneaked off to NYC for some shopping (in my spare time) and picked up this vest at some chic boutique.  See why I love her!?  While I’m not sure I’d go that far (she didn’t look closely!) this vest is pretty darn fabulous.

vestThe last thing I’ll say before I wrap up this love story is this- don’t be fooled.  Oh…a simple quilted vest!  How easy.  Nope- this one was a lot of work.  It wasn’t hard, per se, just labor intensive.  The arm holes as well as the entire outline of the vest is hand-stitched binding.  Let’s just say I’m all caught up on Homeland!

_MG_8647Previous to this project, I was at a crafting stand-still.  I just haven’t had the time.  I’m vowing to change that.  I’m trying to get better about putting my computer away once the kids are in bed, and using that time to indulge in things that feed me, instead of just working late into the night.  This week I took a Bikram yoga class.  I’ve been reading (making my way through your recommendations) and I’ve picked up my knitting needles again (that beautiful yarn above is halfway to a sweater right now!).  I know…party on, right!?

_MG_8780(Thanks Sarah, for the beautiful pictures!)

Thank you!

_MG_8816Thank you for all of your orders!  I love doing these little pop-up shops because they reconnect me with so many great people.  I recognize many of you from Squam, or as long-time blog readers, and I so appreciate you supporting my little enterprise!  If I was forced to pick a favorite item from the shop, it would have to be the tunic pictured above.  I have a short-sleeve version in a different fabric that I wear all summer long, and now, I’m wearing this one just about every other day this fall.  I just love how bright and pulled-together it looks when paired with jeans.  It sure beats sweatpants and a tee shirt, which is a look I’m trying really hard to save just for the gym these days!  Anyway…thank you again, and the shop will stay open for a while longer.  There are still plenty of goodies left.

Pop-Up Shop is OPEN!

_MG_8082Good morning, and happy Monday!  The shop is live, and I couldn’t be more excited.  My husband and I worked hard to source a bunch of amazing, one-of-a-kind products for you, and I hope that you love them as much as we do.  You’ll find everything from sari-wrapped notebooks (above) to kantha quilts (below).  I’m also offering prints of my photographs from our trip to India.  Please note that there are two pages of products- once you scroll through the products on the first page, there are tiny page numbers below, and clicking on the 2 will take you to the other page of products.  Finally, if you have any questions at all, leave a comment here or shoot me an email at christine.chitnis@gmail.com.  Happy shopping!

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A Little Peek

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SHOP UPDATE: OPENING MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10 at 9am EST

I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes putting together my pop-up shop.  I feel so thrilled just sitting in my studio surrounded by all of these beautiful items, and I can’t wait to send them out into the world.  Above you can see the shop taking shape, and below is a little peek at a few of the “stocking stuffer” offerings.  Oh my goodness, do I have some gorgeous notebooks, ribbons and pouches for you!  I have a very limited quantity of items, so if there is something that you have your eye on, jump on it!  In terms of explaining my shopping philosophy, allow me to repeat what I wrote in my previous shop announcement: If you are looking for cheap finds, you won’t see them here.  This is the thing about shopping in India- many visitors go for the cheapy stores.  Pillow cases for $5!!!  Amazing!!  But I can’t do that kind of shopping simply because I have to know that it was made/sourced fairly, the materials used are authentic, and that the artisans were fairly compensated.  I also want to find very unique, possibly one-of-a-kind goods.  I hope that shines through the shop.  And if you have any questions- shoot me an email, or leave it in the comments, otherwise, I’ll see you on Monday morning!

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Vijay’s Birthday Bash

_MG_7267There is nothing cuter than a four year old boy…and nothing more exhausting!  In case you didn’t know, four year olds are the smartest people in the world, and can do everything themselves!  Although he tests our patience daily, Vijay is still the light of our lives, and it was our greatest pleasure to throw him a big bash over the weekend to celebrate his fourth birthday.  After a week of dreariness and rain, the clouds parted, the sun shown down, and we were gifted the most beautiful day.  The pictures don’t do it justice- the sunlight was gorgeous and dappled, and I only managed a few snaps during the party, but I simply had to share.  My baby’s four…and that is something!

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IMG_3449What started out as a small party- you know, let’s just invite preschool friends and neighbors- blossomed to quite a crowd.  Luckily we had a firetruck, a cappella group, balloon artist, pinata and face painter, not to mention a full catered Indian lunch, 100 mini cupcakes, and the coolest cake ever (yup, I made that sucker!) to keep everyone entertained.  It was a great day, and it was the first year that Vijay understood that a birthday party equals presents and sweets, so he was totally pumped.

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_MG_7278The funniest moment of the party had to have been rounding the corner to find my dad fully decked out in the fireman’s gear.  He was so excited.  “Take my picture.  This one’s going in the office.”  I guess you never grow out of the fireman fantasy!  As we were snapping pictures, their unit got a call.  The firemen quickly rustled my dad out of their uniform, jumped onto the truck, flicked on the sirens and peeled out of the party.  The kids went nuts.  We couldn’t have planned it any better!

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A Roost Giveaway

coversFor the past year and a half, I have been consumed with the writing, photographing, and editing of my second book, Little Bites.  This week my coauthor, Sarah, and I will receive the page proofs- seeing for the first time all of our hard work come together.  I am simply beside myself with anticipation.  This book feels extremely personal- it is how our families eat, how we feed our kids, and our approach to food.  Food is personal.  Food is passion and love.  Food provides both sustenance and joy…and in the best case, both.

_MG_7053Writing about food has turned into an intense passion…but the amount of work that goes into a cookbook is astounding.  From the recipe development to the testing, from the styling to the photography, not to mention the copious amounts of writing….it is a ton of work.  When I come across a gorgeous cookbook now, I have so much respect and admiration for the author.  It is no small feat.  That is why I am so excited to bring you this giveaway for two amazing cookbooks.  I am very selective about the books that make it into my kitchen, but both of these have earned a place on my shelf, that is to be sure.

_MG_7097The fact that these cookbooks are both published by Roost, my beloved publisher, is part of their appeal., because Roost produces books that feel like so much more than just cookbooks- they are filled with personality and stories, not just recipes- and I love that.  Plus the look and feel is amazing- quality paper, hard covers.  Quite simply, Roost publishes books that they wholeheartedly believe in…and you can feel it when you pick up one of their titles.  To be included among the ranks of their talented authors still blows my mind.  But enough of that…let’s get to the good stuff.

_MG_7198 First up, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin.  I am finding this book incredibly useful as it both teaches you how to cook with whole foods, and provides you with amazing recipes.  Part One of the book is all about stocking your pantry- how and why to use ingredients- and cooking from your pantry.  I love this section as I am always looking to expand my knowledge of whole foods, plus the photographs of Amy’s pantry made me absolutely green with envy!  I especially loved reading “A Week of Meals in My Kitchen,” which details Amy’s approach to daily cooking, including when she fits in the prep work.  I appreciate how she makes whole food cooking a priority while practicing efficiency.

_MG_7167Part Two is all recipes, and they are so vibrant, nutritious and delicious sounding.  I was in a soup kind of mood this past week and I tried the Simple Red Lentil Soup (which is actually found in the pantry section).  I added a few things- this book inspires creativity in the kitchen- and the result was warm, spicy, and comforting.  My kids loved it, as did my husband.  To turn up the spice factor for him, I topped the soup with red Thai chili peppers from my garden, deseeded and thinly sliced.  I also sprinkled a few kale chips on top (loosely based on this recipe).  For dessert I made a batch of Cherry Pecan Cookies, using cacao nibs instead of cherries.  I also doubled down on the nuts, adding ground almonds to the batter, along with the pecans.  The cookies were crisp on the outside, while remaining soft, chewy and nutty on the inside.  They were gone in one sitting!  I’m excited to cook my way through the rest of this book.  It will easily provide us with nutritious, warm, comforting meals throughout the colder months.

page Secondly, I have to tell you about Quench, the latest title from Ashley English.  I so admire Ashley as an author.  She consistently turns out beautiful, useful, inventive books at an awe-inspiring pace.  I don’t know how she does it!  Quench is just beautiful- I have been taking it to bed each night, flipping through the pages and dreaming of making every single drink.  I’ve been promising myself for ages that I would learn to make a few signature cocktails, but I never seem to get around to it.  I’m hoping this book will change that!

_MG_7191The point is that both of these books have me excited to be in the kitchen, and that is the sign of a great cookbook.  I can only hope Little Bites will inspire the same sentiment.  It feels like such a long wait for my own book launch (July 2015- that is like a lifetime away!) but in the meantime, I’d love to give away a copy of these two books to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment here letting me know what’s cooking in your kitchen during this lovely fall season, and I’ll draw a winner next week.

**Giveaway is now closed**

quench

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India and a Pop-Up Shop

_MG_6064It has been a hectic year, 2014, with quite a few personal challenges and transitions.  For one thing, my husband has been traveling a lot for work and that means that I’ve been single parenting more often than I would like.  Recently, my husband was in India and I have to admit that I was sick with envy.  How I miss the vibrancy and chaos, the architecture and colors, the spices and markets.  I spent time remembering our last trip and going back through my pictures, and it occurred to me that I only shared the smallest sliver of our trip with you.  Perhaps you’d like to see more?  I sent my husband with a shopping list and I’m thrilled to announce that I’m going to be launching another pop-up shop in a few weeks, early November, just in time for some holiday shopping.  There will be kantha quilts, hand-blocked notebooks, and beautiful hand-blocked cotton tunics, along with some other treasures.  I have trained that man well- and he brought back some beautiful items that I can’t wait to share!  I thought I would also offer prints- I know a few of you asked, and I never got around to it.  Please let me know which prints you’d like me to offer!  As a refresher: Delhi, Bhutan, Rajasthan (I know many of you loved those doors!), Travel Realities, and the first Pop-Up Shop.  Without further ado, a trip down memory lane, starting in Delhi, working our way through Bhutan and finishing with my favorite, Rajasthan.

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_MG_5195_2All of the above were from the beginning portion of our trip, when we were in Delhi, getting adjusted and finding our footing after a 14-hour flight and serious jet lag.

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_MG_5630Isn’t it interesting how Bhutan has such a different and distinct look, both the people, colors and architecture?  That is what amazes me about this part of the world- each region in Inda, and bordering country, has its own language, food, culture, and religion.  I feel as though you could study India and its neighboring countries for your entire life and still not grasp the full story.

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_MG_6544Rajasthan, shown above and below, is by far my most favorite region that I have visited in India (though there are so many regions I have yet to discover).  The vibrant colors of the woman’s saris against the faded desert landscape is the visual that I associate with the region.  That, and the wild colors of the homes and buildings, again standing in such contrast to the muted landscape.

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_MG_6460And finally, into the countryside of Rajasthan.  This was probably one of the most memorable days of the trip, as we were welcomed into the homes of these farmers, and offered lunch as we watched our kids play together.

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Fall Reading Giveaway and Medieval Festivities

2014-10-12_0001I was so inspired by your reading suggestions, that I did something I never do.  I went into the bookstore and walked out with four brand new books.  I always get my reading material from the library, but lately, I am having trouble with the whole system.  It is a wonderful thing that we are able to reserve titles, but as luck would have it, I usually reserve three or four titles and they come in at different times, meaning multiple trips to the library, and then I am always late returning them and the pressure to finish them in two weeks is just too much.  I know- big problems, right!  So I decided to treat myself and luxuriate in four brand new books that came with no due dates or deadlines.  And then I read all four in two weeks.  Ha.  And let me say this- you guys sure know your stuff.  I LOVED each of these books.  They were all heartbreaking, and beautiful and written so very well written.  As far as a favorite, I am torn between We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Burial Rights.  Both titles were such good reminders of the importance of love, community and open lines of communication- without those, we are so lost.  And now, as a way of saying thank you, I want to pass along these books (as long as you don’t mind my tear streaks on the pages!) and keep the reading cycle flowing .  Just leave a comment here, and make sure I have a way to get in touch with you!  I’m going to give away two bundles of two books each:

Bundle #1: Beautiful Ruins and We Were Liars

Bundle #2: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Burial Rights

**Giveaway is now closed**

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_MG_6357And now in other news, we joined in our first Medieval Festival this weekend, and it was so much fun.  We reused our Halloween costumes as dragon costumes, and the boys got their first pair of swords and shield (this must be some kind of boyhood rite of passage, right?).  I love the picture of Vik getting ready to ride the dragon zip-line.  He’s scared, but there is no way he is letting his brother do it without him!  That kid has such courage- it must be a younger brother thing!  Life is so busy right now with these two hooligans….but so much fun, so much adventure, so much laughter.

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