It’s hard to believe we’re well into December already. I feel like I’m furiously swimming against the currant to get ready for winter and the holiday season- one stroke forward, two back. Everyday I realize how unprepared we are for the season upon us. Winter boots are too small, every mitten in our house is missing its mate, and who knows where our snowpants are hiding. A few days after coming home from Chicago, I packed up again and headed to the Vineyard for our winter shoot. The photographs for our cookbook are now complete, which is an amazing feeling. Now onto the copious amounts of writing….gulp. My deadline is still far enough away that I’m not yet worried, but a very long, very international trip is looming on the horizon….actually, just a week away (gold star for anyone who can guess where we’re headed!). I can’t wait to tell you more about it later this week- it is quite exciting, if not a bit overwhelming. For now I leave you with my new sweater project in the most beautiful Anzula color palate and a wooly friend from the Vineyard. Perhaps my favorite part of this season is the feeling of warm wool draped over my lap while outside the temperature continues to drop.
It’s always a mixed bag of emotions going back to Chicago. Around every street corner is a memory of the time I spent there right after college. I still think of it as “my town” and being a tourist is such an odd experience. I want to check out all my old haunts, and try the hot new restaurants. I am dying to be “in the know” and yet I haven’t lived here for 6 years, so I have no idea what is new, fresh and hot. And so we ended up eating at the hotel quite a bit (it’s just easier when working around the boy’s schedules), and spending our visit at the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium with all the other tourists. But it was a blast, and thankfully my husband gave me free reign during the boy’s naptimes so I was able to hit up some of my favorite tucked away shopping spots and eateries.
It was fun seeing the city through Vijay’s eyes. We had been reading the Little Critter book “Just Me and My Mom” by Mercer Mayer where Little Critter goes to the big city with his mama, and they experience museums, the aquarium, taxi rides and trains. Vijay loved doing all of the activities we had read about- especially the aquarium and the train. He was wide-eyed the entire trip- it was adorable.
We found the best restaurant for dining with kids- amazing food, a boisterous atmosphere, and great coffee (important for mom since the boys never adjusted to the slight time change- hello 5am wake-ups). Girl and the Goat has received rave reviews since it opened, but it is not a real kid-friendly option, which is why I was thrilled to find out that the same owner had opened Little Goat Diner, a more casual option, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner all day. If you are in Chicago- eat here. Period.
A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of holiday shopping thrown in. I am sure there are a thousand amazing shops, but I’m not a big shopper, and the Miracle Mile gives me hives, so I have it dialed in to my two all-time favorite shops. If I get to visit these two gems- I’m a happy camper. First up- P.O.S.H. Think Parisian flea market with a sprinkling of Christmas. It is my favorite place to buy Christmas decorations and ornaments, and I am endlessly inspired by their displays.
I equally adore A New Leaf. To call it a mere florist would be a disservice- it is so so much more. Imagine a flea market, mixed with an imaginative floral boutique, with a touch of an exotic feeling thanks to trinkets and imports from around the world. You can find piles of amazing old ceramic tiles, beads, buttons and trim, hand-dipped beeswax candles in every color imaginable, ornaments, every kind of floral container/ vase/ pot you could ever need, rare plants, beautiful bouquets and random treasures galore. I could get lost here for hours.
I also had a chance to wander through my old neighborhood, Lincoln Park. When I used to live there, I remember admiring the houses and wondering who could ever afford an entire, single-family home in Lincoln Park. Wandering through this past weekend, I found myself wondering the same thing. I love imaging the fabulous decorating and entertaining that must go on in these magnificent homes.
But the real reason this trip was so special had nothing to do with the food, or the shopping or the sights. Spending time with our family is always takes our trips and elevates them to extra special status. We feel so thankful to have spent this past week with them, and we are all missing them terribly already.
This weekend found us in Newport for the day, cheering on my husband as he played in a squash tournament. Once the tournament wrapped I asked if we could make a quick stop at this beautiful shop I had heard about, Cottage and Garden. As it happens, there is a great playground on the same block, and so our “quick stop” turned into a chance to linger and take pictures.
Every corner was curated into a beautiful display of home and garden goods, both new and vintage finds. I was tempted by every item, and eventually settled on some gorgeous mercury glass ornaments to add to my growing collection.
When we got home, my husband surprised me with three of these little chicks to line our mantel and complete the hen and rooster that I already had. I love that he indulges my quirky decorating. He is a good man!
I can imagine in the warmer months the outdoor displays are really something…even in the cold, there was beauty. I haven’t been shopping in ages, and this reminded me how much I love photographing beautiful independently owned shops around the holidays. The displays, sparkling ornaments, sweet little gifts and cards….I love seeing shops decked out in their holiday finery. We leave for Chicago later this week, to spend Thanksgiving with family. I can’t wait to slip away from the boys for an afternoon and shop a few of my old haunts. No one does holiday finery like Chicago (in this Midwestern girl’s opinion!). Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.
Where have I been? Oh I don’t know, holed up at home knitting and sewing late into the night for no reason other than that I’m totally obsessed with garment making. First up- a beautiful striped scarf that took 100 years to finish. Maybe it only felt that way because it’s a pretty boring pattern- just knitting, back and forth for eternity. But I absolutely love the finished result- it’s a big triangle, which makes it perfect for draping around my neck a few times, and it adds a graphic pop to any outfit. If you want some knitting details, check out my Ravelry notes.
While I love knitting, and can do it while watching a movie (which means my husband doesn’t get totally ignored), I have started getting into sewing garments as well. I loved my first gathered top, so I tried the pattern again in a more casual, polka-dot chambray. I prefer the other one, but this is pretty cute too.
Finally, after much fiddling with the neckline, I finished my Tova. I do love it, but the neck still hangs a bit funny. I think a bit of starch and a good press might take care of it…we’ll see. I don’t own starch, so there’s that! I’m mid-sentence in the picture below, bossing my husband around as he begrudges me a few pictures. Then he decided to get all “artistic” and shoot at weird angles, hence the second picture. We make a pretty funny team, and this was the best we could get between juggling the boys and the light rain that decided to fall mid- shoot! And by “shoot” I mean the five minutes spent snapping in the backyard.
So that’s it- my late fall wardrobe. I didn’t realize until I was folding them up after photographing that I had a color palette going- blues and greys. Let’s go ahead and pretend that was totally planned!
I spent this past weekend on Martha’s Vineyard, shooting the fall recipes for our cookbook. I know, tough job, huh? It was a perfect fall weekend, sunny, with a crispness in the air. The leaves were spectacular, as were the sunsets, farms and harbors. I would wake up early each morning and wander the island, taking pictures and soaking up the sites. I rarely get to wander alone with my camera, so when the opportunity arises, it feels like such a special gift.
At around 10am, I would head to Sarah’s house and we would begin our shoot. With Spring and Summer already under our belts we have it all dialed in, and the Fall shoot was seamless, flowing and perfect. Sarah cooks (with the help of the wonderful Elise) and I style and shoot. We make a great team! On the second day of the shoot, we packed up and headed to a nearby farm to take lifestyle shots, along with the help of our little models. What a privilege to call this work…!
Of course the only thing missing from this perfect equation was the presence of my boys. They stayed at home with my husband while I worked, and I did miss them so. I told Vijay that I would be gone for 3 naps (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and the little dear counted them down…”Only 2 naps left, mama.” When I arrived home on Sunday evening they were waiting at the door, hopping up and down with anticipation. It was a sweet reunion. It’s always nice to have a few days away- I spoiled myself with dinner out (alone with a book, heaven), and long cups of coffee, walks on the beach at sunset and knitting late into the night. But after a few days of rest and relaxation, I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I miss the chaos and laughter that comes along with my boys….so that being said, it is so so good to be home.
Happy Halloween! Instead of talking about sewing costumes (we bought ours this year…shhh, don’t tell) I want to talk about sewing clothes. I have become obsessed with making clothes recently, with a goal to slowly convert a good portion of my wardrobe. I recently purged my closet of all the clothes that no longer fit the way I like, or are not my preferred style. Instead of restocking with store bought items, I decided to focus on making a few versatile, beautiful pieces that would pair nicely with my favorite jeans, or leggings and could carry me through fall and winter. First up, this gathered top in luscious Nani Iro fabric. Forgive the wrinkles…I think the shirt needs a good wash and iron to fall nicely into place.
The pattern is 2b, the Raglan Sleeve Top, but with a few variations. I decided not to do the slit collar and instead just gather the neckline. I also took a few inches off the body, otherwise the shirt was too tent-like for my liking. I also shaved about an inch off each arm to give them a slimmer fit. I love the outcome- a beautiful pattern, and clean lines. It is far from perfect, but I figure with each garment I sew, I’ll gain a greater understanding of fit, specifically how to adjust patterns to look best on my body. If you have any great patterns that you’ve had success with, please pass them along. Next up is the Wiksten Tova…I just need to fiddle with the neckline and it will be ready to model!
(a few behind-the-scenes shots for you….my boys, always wanting to be right where to action is!)
We’re having a tough Halloween season over here. Vijay is scared of all of it…the carved pumpkins, the ghosts and ghouls decorating every stoop we pass, the masks hanging in the windows of shops. Poor dear. We didn’t realize his fear of pumpkins until we took him to the Roger Williams Zoo this week for their incredible Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular. Vijay loves the zoo, so we figured it would be a fun night out. He cried scared tears the whole time, but the rest of us sure loved it! It was the most amazing carving/ etching display I have ever witnessed. This is definitely worth a trip if you are in the area (and aren’t deathly afraid of pumpkins!)
This past weekend we celebrated Vijay’s third birthday with a bash for around 100 of our friends and family. We just can’t help ourselves…we love a good party. Vijay’s birthday falls at the perfect time of year to throw a big outdoor party that not only celebrated his birthday, but allows us to see all of our friends and family that we missed over the busy summer months. It was a great mix of people- neighbors, Vijay and Vik’s little friends, college kids, our colleagues, friends with older kids….pretty much everyone we know and love!
Of course no party is complete without a few party tricks- mainly face painting, balloon animals, entertainment by the Brown’s Tones (Brown’s fierce all- female a capella group), a pinata, Indian food and over 150 mini cupcakes.
Every year we count our blessings. To have so many wonderful people help us celebrate our little guy is an amazing thing. And to our sweet boy…happy birthday to the light of our lives. We love you bunny.
Our garden is rather sorry looking as we head into mid-October- dry, much has gone to seed. Yet the harvest is abundant, if not a bit random. There are so many hot peppers I can’t imagine what I’ll do with them (suggestions??) and enough cherry tomatoes that I still get a nice roasted tomato pasta every week. My kale is out of control, and I have enough tomatillos for a big batch of salsa.
My neighbor is growing Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumbers in her plot…although I don’t love the taste, I am obsessed with their looks. They are so tiny- smaller than my thumb- but with the most beautiful green stripes. Perhaps they would be good thinly sliced in a crunchy salad…I’ll have to give them another shot, mostly because I’m dying to grow them next year.
Vik is still my gardening buddy, helping out by eating stray wood chips and throwing anything that resembles a ball (tomato, tomatillo, cucumbers, eggplant- you know, pretty much everything in the garden). I make him wear this goofy hat when the evening chill begins to fall. It makes his head look funny, but who can resist a hat with ears? I think it is high time I knit him something a bit more stylish.
I have enjoyed community gardening more than I could have imagined, and I have so many plans, notes and dreams about my plot next year. I’m sure I’ll spend a good part of the winter reading up on vegetable gardening, as well as flowers. I plan to add a bit more beauty to my plot next year.
Next week I’ll put my plot to bed for the winter, churning in a bit of compost and planting winter rye. I could have done more for fall, but I didn’t get my act together. No fall crops this year…but that is something I can rectify next year. For now I’m happy to watch the leaves ignite our town with their fiery reds and golds. There truly is such beauty within every season, isn’t there?
My boys…brothers. I haven’t really talked about what that means to me, to be raising two boys, so close in age that occasionally they are mistaken for twins. Vik is long and lean, quickly catching up to Vijay in height and weight. He’s already in 24 month clothing, which means the infamous firetruck sweater (which Vijay wore precisely one time, after I sweated and cursed over it for months!) fits him perfectly. He’s too little to protest, and so he is wearing it as often as possible!
It is absolutely amazing to watch their personalities take shape, and to watch the sibling bond begin to take root. Vijay adores his little brother, often crying when Vik has to go down for his nap, or to bed early. “Where’s my baby?” he asks. Of course when Baby is around, they fight over toys, and bop each other on the head with balls and blocks. They take soapy baths together, propelling their trucks through the bubbles and froth. They roll their soccer ball back and forth at the park, Vik clapping his hands each time it rolls his way. “Don’t touch my things,” is a common phrase as Vijay learns that playing with Vik means sharing with Vik. He’s always trying to give him the lamest toys, and hog all the great ones for himself. After a while, he realizes that it’s no fun, and releases a few of his toys for Vik to play with. Occasionally they hold hands across the aisle from their carseats, or when we’re walking in the double stroller. “Baby’s holding my hand, mama,” Vijay beams. After a minute, Vik yanks his hand away and returns to sucking on his fingers. It is these moments that my heart nearly breaks in two.
I often wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future…will they always be close? Will they be the kind of brothers that give heartwarming toasts at each others weddings? Will they support and nurture each other as they find their own talents and strengths, or will everything be a competition?
It is hard enough trying to raise kind, generous, loving children, but considering how to raise siblings to be loving, supportive brothers is a challenge. My husband often jokes that he wants three sons largely because of Legends of the Fall. I agree, minus the sibling rivalry, jealousy, revenge, drama and rage. Basically we just want our boys to ride wild through the mountains, hunting grizzly bears and bathing in clear streams. Is that too much to ask?!
Oh my boys…brothers…my dreams for you are so great.