050115_0101_uncropped

How to Write a Book

Over the years I have received numerous emails asking about the process of writing a book. So many people dream of writing a book, and I was one of those people. The idea of seeing my name on the cover of a book, my words and pictures forever bound in a volume and sent out…

cfe18-img_7935 Over the years I have received numerous emails asking about the process of writing a book. So many people dream of writing a book, and I was one of those people. The idea of seeing my name on the cover of a book, my words and pictures forever bound in a volume and sent out into the world to live in kitchens/ on bookshelves…well, that was the stuff of my dreams. In fact, I obsessed about it and made it my mission to learn everything I could about the process. It worked…4 years after I began my writing career I landed my first book deal with The Little Bookroom.  I’ll never forget the feeling of opening the box that contained copies of my first book, Markets of New England. I was trembling with excitement, and upon seeing all those little books with my name on the cover, my eyes filled instantly with tears. I’ll also never forget driving to Boston to meet with my editor, Jenn, at Roost to pick up the first copy of Little Bites.  Now, in just a few short weeks, I’ll be able to hold Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet in my hands! So the question is, how do you move from idea to book? Here I’ll describe the nuts and bolts of the process. Settle in, this is going to be a lengthy post!

THE PROCESS

1. Fiction vs. Non-fiction: The process of pitching your book differs depending on if you are pitching non-fiction or fiction.  For a fiction title, you must have the complete work written before you pitch. For non-fiction work, you must have a book proposal. A book proposal is a document used to interest and ultimately sell an agent and/ or editor on a non-fiction book before the book is actually written.

A book proposal contains the following:

I. Overview

II. Author Profile

III. Comparative Titles

IV. Target Market

V. Promotion

VI. Annotated Table of Contents

VII. Sample Material  (this is where you’d showcase a handful of recipes, projects, chapter openings and pictures)

The book proposal for Little Bites was roughly 40 pages long, so this isn’t just a quick jotting of notes. Months were spent writing and tweaking that proposal.  And let me mention, I have written proposals that have not sold. At the time I was disappointed, to say the least. All that work for nothing! But what I came to realize is that I didn’t have enough to say on the subject and I wasn’t passionate about it- and that came through in the proposal. Here’s something to remember: If you write a book you need to be passionate enough about that subject to be completely wedded to it for at least 2-3 years solid. You will spend 6 months to a year writing the book (here I’m really talking about non-fiction books), and then you will spend 6 months to a year editing the book, and then you will spend 6 months to a year marketing the book, doing interviews and events, and selling it every chance you get. If you write about a subject that is just a passing interest, you will regret it deeply. For example, I live Little Bites every single day; I feed two growing boys three meals a day plus a boatload of snacks EVERY SINGLE DAY! It had been 6 months since Little Bites hit shelves and I still cook from it at least 3-5 times a week. You need that kind of passion and stick-to-itiveness.

2. Agent vs. No Agent: This is a personal choice, but I will say from experience that an agent will move the process along for you.  They have relationships with editors at all the publishing houses and this is what you get an agent for…their relationships.  They will make sure your proposal lands in the right hands.  Certain publishers don’t even accept cold pitches- for those you must use an agent.  Agent’s also protect an authors rights, and in the case of a disagreement with the publisher, the agent can play “bad-cop” so that the author can remain on good terms with their editor.  This is critical as you will work with your editor for over a year, and sometimes longer, to see a book from start to finish. This is critical to remember: you should NEVER have to pay an agent.  Anyone asking for payment is scamming you- the agent only gets paid from the publisher once they sell your book (they usually take 15%).

There are a few ways to find an agent:

  1. Look at related books that you like and check the acknowledgements. If the author had an agent they will usually be thanked.
  2. Writer’s Market and Publisher’s Marketplace and Jeff Herman’s guide to Publishers, Editors and Agents to be useful. Writersmarket.com has a pretty good online resource guide to agents and publishers as well, but it is a paid subscription.
  3. Finally, if you know an author personally, and you have a writing background to back up your request, you might consider asking for an introduction.

3. Query letter: When approaching a publishing house, editor or agent, you need to introduce yourself with a one-page letter, known as a query letter.  There is a science to this letter, in fact I teach an entire online class through Squam about perfecting the query letter, Pitch Perfect, which we’re hoping to run again soon. So that’s all I’ll say about that (wink, wink). Seriously though- there are a ton of great books out there that dissect the query letter and offer examples of successful query letters. Don’t be afraid of your public library- it is 100% where I learned everything about pitching my writing.  That’s no joke!

4. From Agent to Publisher: Let’s assume you went with an agent, and your work was accepted.  Hooray!  Now the two of you will sign a contract, which will stipulate the percentage the agent will make (standard 15%) on your book sale.  From there, you might work together to edit and massage your proposal (non-fiction) or your manuscript (fiction, poetry, memoir).  Once you are at a place where you feel the work is ready, you will come up with a list of publishers that you want to approach, and your agent will begin the work of shopping your work around.

5. Publisher: If more than one publisher is interested, you might have a bidding war (good for you!), but if only one publisher is interested than you begin contract negotiations.  This differs greatly for every book, but it will include your advance (how much you get paid in advance of the book selling) and your due date.  It may also include the number of pictures included, international rights, and a slew of other legal items.  If you are not using an agent, I strongly suggest hiring a lawyer to explain and look over your contract with you.  You want to know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

6. Writing: Once the contract is signed, you hand over your manuscript (fiction) or you begin writing your book (non-fiction).  For example, I had six months to write Markets of New England, a year to write Little Bites, and six months to write Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet. You will begin forming a marketing plan towards the end of your writing process.

7. Editing: Now for the editing, copy-editing, layout and design- a very intensive process that will eventually render proofs (the pages of your book!) for a final read-through before the book goes to press. This can take 6 months  for a photo heavy book.

8. To Press: Off to the press it goes.  Now you turn your attention to marketing- sending out press queries, advance copies and setting up book signings so that by the time your book comes out, it is already receiving press and events are already lined up. I wish someone had told me this before I wrote my first book: you will spend equal amounts of time writing your book as you will promoting it. Marketing is a whole other ballgame and to sum up what I’ve learned over the past 6 years I’ll say this: No one, not a publicist, a book store, an event manager, or anyone else will promote your book like you will. The book is your baby and it is your job to get it out into the world.

So there you have it in a nutshell. There are some fabulous resources out there, including a recent blog post by the always inspirational Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com. She wrote about her book proposal process here. Another great post about the money side of things can be found at Dianne Jacob’s site Will Write For Food here. Finally, I though I would share three titles that I found very helpful when I was writing my very first book proposal (which never was bought, by the way!): How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larson, Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why by Jeff Herman and The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches, and Proposals by Moira Anderson Allen. Lastly, I’ll add this: If/ when I teach Pitch Perfect again, I’d encourage you to check it out if you are interested in writing a book. Once you can write an outstanding query letter, you can capture the attention of editors and agents. Several of my students have their work regularly featured in magazines, and two of them have made the transition to books, having signed agents and constructed book proposals.

I’d love to open the comment section up to questions, as well as stories from your own publishing journeys. Next week I am going to share more about my writing journey, specifically the process of writing and photographing my latest book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet. I’d love to make posts like this one a more regular feature. There are so many aspects of writing that I could cover: where to find inspiration, the actual writing process, magazine writing, interviews with authors about how they got their start and the list goes on. Are there any subjects that are of particular interest to you? Let me know, and I’ll do my best to cover them!

Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet_Roost Books

050115_0133_uncropped

 

 

hat

Baa-ble Hat

I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus-…

baa-ble hat1I’m preparing a wonderfully rich post about writing a book proposal but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t finish it this week. So instead I present you the cutest hat, modeled by the cutest boy. The Baa-ble hat knits up super quickly and is great for using up scrap yarn. As an added bonus- the pattern is free! It’s funny; as the boys become more aware of my knitting and sewing projects, they are beginning to choose items that they’d like me to knit. Vik saw me eyeing this hat on Ravelry and said “I’d like that hat, mama, with green and blue.” Well alrighty then! He knows exactly what he likes. And when I finished it he wore it for the next three days straight, even to bed at night! I’m loving the ability to knit for my boys and actually have them excited about wearing the finished product.

baa-ble hat

Baa-ble

new website

A New Look, A New Book

ATTENTION: If you follow me using Bloglovin’ or a reader of any kind, be sure to update my address (though it is the same web address, the server is different!). Do you notice something different here today?  I’m thrilled to introduce my new and improved site! I couldn’t be happier with the results.  In an…

new websiteATTENTION: If you follow me using Bloglovin’ or a reader of any kind, be sure to update my address (though it is the same web address, the server is different!).

Do you notice something different here today?  I’m thrilled to introduce my new and improved site! I couldn’t be happier with the results.  In an online world that feels busier than ever and filled with endless noise, ads and pop-ups, I wanted to create a space that felt calm and simple. I’m most excited about the way my archives are now organized. I hope it will encourage you to stay a while and browse according to your interests. Under my logo at the top of the site you’ll notice the words “Travel, Motherhood, Crafts and Food.”  These are the four categories with the most action- click on one and take a peek at how lovely it looks with the featured picture and post title!  If you’d like to see more categories or search by month, you can do so on the sidebar with the Categories and Archives drop-down menus.  Again, you’ll be taken to a well-organized page complete with pictures to accompany each post! Maybe your interested in Gardening, or Knitting or Providence…it’s all there.  It was quite a journey working my way through eight years of archives. I had to choose a featured picture for each and every post so that it would display correctly in the new system (I still have many to do, so don’t go poking around too far back yet!).  We’re talking over 900 posts!  I can’t believe I have that much to say and more shockingly, that early on so many of you supported me.  I cringe looking back through many of my posts that now seem immature or demonstrate my poor, beginner photography skills.  But I made sure not to delete any, no matter how tempting, because I firmly embrace my learning curve.  We all have to start somewhere, and it takes courage to push “publish” for the first time. Overall it was a pleasant experience, reading through the posts from my early days of motherhood, remembering the exhaustion and joy of it all, and back further to my early days of marriage when I found myself in Providence, not knowing a soul and feeling a bit lost.  This blog has been a constant through so many of my major life changes, and I guess I want to say THANK YOU for reading along and participating in the conversation.  I hope you enjoy the new look.Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet_Roost Books Another exciting feature of the new site is the page devoted to my books, including my newest title, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet, which comes out in April.  It is available now for pre-order at a reduced price, and if you’d like a peek inside, head on over here for the tiniest peek.  I plan on sharing more this week, about how this book came to be and the reason I feel so passionate about the recipes included.  For now let me say this: the book is vibrant and gorgeous, exactly how I dreamed it would look.  It’s hardcover with beautiful matte paper and full-page images for every recipe.  It’s hard to think about frozen treats right now, but let me assure you, come summertime you’ll be happy to have this in your kitchen! Here’s wishing you a wonderful start to your week- as always, thank you for being here.

2016-01-31_0002

 

Fair Isle Hat

Fair Isle Success

I made a promise to try to push myself to learn new techniques and skills this year.  First up…stranded colorwork knitting. For some reason, stranded colorwork always seemed really hard and kind of scary. I posted a picture of my yarn stash on Instagram last week along with a caption about my resolution to learn…

_MG_1935I made a promise to try to push myself to learn new techniques and skills this year.  First up…stranded colorwork knitting. For some reason, stranded colorwork always seemed really hard and kind of scary. I posted a picture of my yarn stash on Instagram last week along with a caption about my resolution to learn colorwork, and a few people commented that I should try YouTube. I was unsure that I could learn via video but it was surprisingly easy! I watched a few videos and then gave it a shot.  I had to get the hang of holding two strands at a time, which was the most challenging part.

_MG_1910

_MG_1894I picked the Schuyler hat for my first pattern.  I found it via Fringe Association and I’m so glad I did.  This is such a beautiful, wearable pattern.  I’m thinking of lining it with fleece, which would make it the perfect winter hat!  Of course everyone in the house is fighting over it, so I already have a second colorwork hat on my needles.  And you know two more will have to come soon after!  At this rate I’ll be ripping through my stash in no time…which can only mean one thing… yarn shopping is in my future!

_MG_1923

2016-01-16_0002

_MG_1661

Sharing the Process

With every passing year I feel like I am becoming a bit wiser.  The process of aging is really a process of knowing yourself on a deeper level, I suppose.  I have become more in-tune with my strengths and weaknesses.  One of my personality traits that I am constantly working on is my type-A need…

_MG_1661With every passing year I feel like I am becoming a bit wiser.  The process of aging is really a process of knowing yourself on a deeper level, I suppose.  I have become more in-tune with my strengths and weaknesses.  One of my personality traits that I am constantly working on is my type-A need for perfection.  There are pluses and minuses to this type of personality (+high productivity, -easily stressed and a need for perfectionism).  I’ve become more balanced since having kids, but I still have this need to present things in a perfect light.  For example on my blog here; I love showing off the finished product but I am not very good at showing the process.  The process isn’t always pretty but it is where so much of the important stuff happens.  I love to pull these moves: “Oh look, a completed Alabama Chanin dress/ handknit sweater/ renovated kitchen” without sharing the struggles and mistakes that came along the way.  This year I am challenging myself to start sharing the journey…the WHOLE journey…with all of you.  I’ll never be someone that airs my dirty laundry and child-raising fiasco’s (thank goodness…there are certain things I believe should be kept private!) but I do look forward to sharing things as they unfold.

_MG_1680

_MG_1684

_MG_1655

_MG_1691Coming up in the next few months I am looking forward to sharing more about the Alabama Chanin sew-a-long that I’ve organized.  It has grown beyond my wildest dreams and we now have 19 women from across the country (and one from Australia!) signed up to participate.  We’ve chosen some amazing recipients and placed the order for their garments.  This project is breathing new life into my craft practice.  I’m crackling with inspiration and ideas!  Secondly, I can’t wait to share some behind-the-scenes peeks into the process of writing my third book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet, which comes out this April.  This book is so darn pretty that it makes me a bit weepy- we’re talking hard cover and full page pictures for every recipe, plus a designer with incredible vision and talent (thank you Toni!).  I thought I’d share a bit about how I landed with Roost, the process of pitching the book, and also how I developed and tested the recipes, and photographed and wrote the book.  Wait until you see my homemade “studio set.”  Ha- it’s pretty hilarious!  Is there anything else you’d like me to share about this process….or about any other subjects?

_MG_1657

_MG_1646

_MG_1659

_MG_1820

_MG_1660

_MG_1668

_MG_1729It felt appropriate to accompany this post with pictures from Detroit, where I spent a day exploring with my mom over the holiday break.  If there ever was a city that knows about “the journey” it is Detroit.  There are so many amazing things happening in this city- yet so much more to be done.  The people of Detroit have quite a journey ahead of them- yet they seem ready to embrace it with full hearts, and they are not afraid of sharing the process that it will take to get there.  Pretty inspirational, if you ask me.

_MG_1706

_MG_1727

_MG_1708

_MG_1737

_MG_1667Mini Detroit Guide (as seen here):

Eastern Market: farmer’s market full of local produce, food trucks, and prepared foods, and the street art surrounding the market is off the hook!

Germack Coffee Roasting Co.: for an exceptional cup of coffee as well as roasted nuts and seeds for sale, right across the street from Eastern Market.

Will Leather Goods: an amazing store with beautifully made leather goods, plus a coffee bar.  Even if you aren’t in the market for leather goods, you’ll enjoy wandering this gorgeous space.

Selden Standard: craft cocktails and local food, the best meal I had while I was in Michigan over the break, hands down, and great decor to boot.

Avalon: a favorite bakery

Belle Isle: a 982-acre island park created as a place for Detroit residents to enjoy nature, walking paths, shoreline, an aquarium and a greenhouse.

If you are interested in a very hip, indie guide to the city, I’d suggest the Wild Sam Guide, which we purchased at The Detroit Mercantile Co.– a super cool indie shop.

_MG_1766

_MG_1746

_MG_1754

_MG_1818

_MG_1795

_MG_1802

_MG_1774

Alabama Chanin

The Power of Craft

I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I’ve been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents…

_MG_1493I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I’ve been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents as they dealt with many difficulties related to my younger brother.  I saw my mom stripped of so much of her joy as she internalized the stress of the situation and quite frankly, it broke my heart.  I decided that I wanted to use the power of handmade to create something of beauty for her.  I decided that I would finish her Alabama Chanin dress in time for Christmas (you might remember this past summer when my mom and I took a class from Natalie Chanin at Blackberry Farm– this was her garment from the class, which she had barely started).  It was a ridiculously lofty goal what with 6 large panels of applique to conquer, so I decided to enlist the help of my community.  I envisioned an old-fashion quilt circle with women coming together to create something of beauty.  I imagined each stitch sewn with intention and love.  Three amazing women came forward and offered their sewing assistance, and together we created this masterpiece.  I sent them each a panel, and made a little instructional video, and a few months later they sent me back their panels, each completed to perfection.  I stitched up the panels- my three, plus the three others, and finished off the neck and arm holes.  In all it was a six-month project.

bustOn Christmas morning I had the dress swathed in sheets of tissue paper, wrapped in a big box covered in red sparkly wrapping paper.  It was the last gift my mom opened and she was absolutely speechless.  Nestled in along with the dress I had notes from the women who helped to sew her dress:  Kellen Meyer, my sweet Squam friend, was one of the amazing women who lent her talent to the project, along with Amy Mercer, a lovely knitter, seamstress and blog friend, and Ann Ryskoski, a long-time friend of my moms.  The dress fits my mom perfectly- it is quite amazing.  I hope it brings her joy each and every time she wears it.  There is something so powerful about wearing a garment that other hands made for you with love and intention.  This was the most fulfilling and uplifting project that I made this year and it got me thinking: the power of handmade is incredible.  I would love to do this again- craft a beautiful garment for someone who needs a touch of joy in their life.  What do you think?  Would any of you be into that?  Together we could pick someone to receive the gift, and then decide on the garment.  Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.  Give it some thought…and keep in mind you don’t have to be a master crafter.  If you can hand sew, you can make an Alabama Chanin piece.  Another idea- an Alabama Chanin sew-a-long in the Providence-area- I’d be happy to host at my house!  Wouldn’t this be a fun way to kick off 2016?!  I’m ready for some deeper, more fulfilling making in the coming year.

_MG_1459

Tower Hill

Merry Christmas

We made it back to Michigan and spent the past few days relaxing with my family.  We’re so lucky to have the next few weeks to spend together.  It is the greatest gift of the season- time to unwind, unplug and reconnect with family and friends.  Of course the sugar cookies, Christmas movies, and bottomless…

Tower HillWe made it back to Michigan and spent the past few days relaxing with my family.  We’re so lucky to have the next few weeks to spend together.  It is the greatest gift of the season- time to unwind, unplug and reconnect with family and friends.  Of course the sugar cookies, Christmas movies, and bottomless mugs of hot chocolate certainly don’t hurt!  This year has been full of ups and downs and joys and sorrows, but when I reflect back I mostly remember being surrounded by love- the love of my two precious boys, my supportive husband and my incredible circle of family and friends.  All of you who read and comment and send little messages of love and support are a part of that, too.  Thank you for taking the time to stop in my little corner of the world. I certainly love sharing it all with you; the beautiful stuff, and the hard stuff.

I’ll see you back here after Christmas with a really beautiful story to share- a story of handmade love and community.  Until then, my sweet friends, I wish you and yours a most blessed holiday season.

xo

Tower Hill1

display

Eat Boutique Holiday Market

On Saturday I was able to sneak away to Boston for the afternoon to partake in Eat Boutique’s Holiday Market.  It was such a gorgeous venue, filled with makers and food vendors, and offering a packed schedule of amazing author appearances and events.  I jumped in at the last minute to get my book signed…

displayOn Saturday I was able to sneak away to Boston for the afternoon to partake in Eat Boutique’s Holiday Market.  It was such a gorgeous venue, filled with makers and food vendors, and offering a packed schedule of amazing author appearances and events.  I jumped in at the last minute to get my book signed by Joy the Baker, which was certainly a thrill.  But the biggest thrill of all was connecting with Lucinda Scala Quinn, former vice president at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and author of many amazing books including, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys.  She was so engaging, warm and welcoming, and I can’t wait to use her book to feed my hungry boys.  Even though they are only 3 and 5, I am already amazed by their appetites.  Much of my day revolves around feeding them: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.  Bowls upon bowls of fruit slices, veggies with hummus, hard boiled eggs….  It’s like shoveling coal into a fast burning furnace and I need all the help I can get to avoid getting into cooking ruts.

book table

_MG_0598

_MG_0565

_MG_0562

_MG_0558Getting out to events like this is such a refreshing change of pace for me.  There is a part of me that feels that between having two kids so close together, writing book after book and juggling a freelance career, social networking fell by the wayside.  And that is such an important thing as an author.  I missed the boat by a few years in terms of social media, and as much I understand the value of networking and “getting out there” it just feels really difficult given the demands of home.  All of that to say, it was such a treat to spend an afternoon meeting movers and shakers of the food world.

_MG_0591

_MG_0573

_MG_0566

_MG_0592

_MG_0589

_MG_0571

_MG_0582

_MG_0532

Chicago

It has been a family tradition for the last seven years to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago.  Chicago is the city associated with much of my early twenties- I lived there when I first graduated from college, it’s where I started my career in non-profits and at the same time slung beers at night to pay…

_MG_0318It has been a family tradition for the last seven years to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago.  Chicago is the city associated with much of my early twenties- I lived there when I first graduated from college, it’s where I started my career in non-profits and at the same time slung beers at night to pay the rent, and eventually it is where I met my husband.  To say that it holds a mixed bag of memories is an understatement, but mostly, I look back on that time with great fondness.  Visiting now with my kids in tow is such a treat.  This year I was laid low for about 48 hours with a nasty virus, so my sightseeing was cut shorter than I had hoped.  Though I will say that recovering in a cushy hotel room with room service and cable tv certainly made the virus much more tolerable.  I think that’s the biggest break I’ve had all year!  But I’d love to share with you a few of the things that we enjoyed during our time in Chi-town.

_MG_0190

_MG_0193

_MG_0197

_MG_0202

_MG_0213My first stop was an incredible hotel/ restaurant in the Fulton Market district called The Soho House.  I’d been seeing images of this magnificent space all over Instagram and I was dying to see it for myself.  The food was delicious, especially that almond croissant pictured above.  My family members are creatures of habit and we stay in the same hotel every year, but if I could convince them to try somewhere new, The Soho House would be it!  What kills me is that I used to work in Fulton Market ten years ago- it is where the non-profit I worked for was headquartered- and there was practically NOTHING there but butcher shops.  Now it is full of awesome restaurants, cafes and shops.  It would be such a blast to work in the area now…*sigh*

_MG_0229

_MG_0232

_MG_0231

_MG_0230My next stop was my all-time favorite little shop in Chicago, which is especially joyful during the holiday season.  P.O.S.H. carries a variety of vintage and new finds, many sourced from France and flea markets across Europe.  I could spend hours browsing their displays and collections.  This shop is always such a treat!

_MG_0412

_MG_0425

_MG_0415

_MG_0413

_MG_0417

_MG_0433

_MG_0392The brand new Restoration Hardware on Dearborn Ave. is probably the most breathtaking home store I have ever set foot in.  It is housed in the Three Arts Club, built in 1914 in a largely residential section of the Gold Coast.  It seems silly to direct you to this video of the store, but if you are interested it really captures the five floors of elegance, the incredible  steel-enclosed garden courtyard cafe which is home to a restaurant, wine bar and coffee shop, and the rooftop park.  This space was just stunning, and my mom and I happily spent over an hour just wandering around in complete awe. In my next life I’m coming back to live in this building 😉

_MG_0362

_MG_0369

_MG_0368

_MG_0358

_MG_0360Lastly on my must-visit shop list is The New Leaf, a gardening store that offers so much more than flowers and plants.  This store is like a winding treasure hunt, with rooms filled to the brim with glassware, tiles, ribbon, vintage furniture pieces, ornaments, holiday decor and more.  If you’d like to see more of the shop, check out the article I wrote for Gardenista last year.

_MG_0327

_MG_0337

_MG_0532If you can believe it, most of the above was squeezed into a few hours while the rest of our time in the city was spent exploring as a family and enjoying the hotel pool!  We took the boys skating at Millennium Park, which they loved, and we sucked it up and paid to go to the top of the John Hancock.  I balked at paying, but it was worth every penny.  The views were spectacular and the boys got a big kick out of the experience.  We also spent a morning at the Lincoln Park Zoo, but it was bitter cold and we all lost our excitement after an hour or so.  Once we saw those poor, freezing flamingos we called it a day.  All this to say, we had an amazing time.  Spending time in Chicago feeds my soul on so many levels- it reminds me of the energy of my twenties, it leaves me breathless with its gorgeous architecture and design, it fills me with beauty as I see the sights though the eyes of my boys, and mostly, it makes me appreciate how lucky I was to once call this city home.

_MG_0351

_MG_0343

_MG_0182

_MG_0185

_MG_0522

brownies

Raspberry Brownies and a Giveaway

Are you still full from Thanksgiving?  No?  Well good thing, because I am holding an Instagram giveaway for some delicious looking Roost cookbooks including My Darling Lemon Thyme, The Vibrant Table, and Lomelino’s Ice Cream.  I knew I wanted to highlight a recipe, and once I flipped through all three books I couldn’t help coming…

squareAre you still full from Thanksgiving?  No?  Well good thing, because I am holding an Instagram giveaway for some delicious looking Roost cookbooks including My Darling Lemon Thyme, The Vibrant Table, and Lomelino’s Ice Cream.  I knew I wanted to highlight a recipe, and once I flipped through all three books I couldn’t help coming back to these Raspberry Brownies from My Darling Lemon Thyme.  Of course I should have focused on something healthy that we could have had for dinner…but where’s the fun in that?!  My sweet tooth always gets the best of me.  These were honestly the best brownies I have ever made- chewy, moist and full of flavor.  I really like brownies that have more going on than just chocolate, so I loved the bright bursts of raspberries and the nutty crunch of pistachio and pecans.  These brownies perfectly walk the line between fudge-y and cake-y, and they are a fantastic treat.  I would highly recommend bringing them to a holiday cookie exchange (if you can bear to part with them!).

To enter my GIVEAWAY, pay a visit to my Instagram page!  I will pick three winners, and each will receive one of these titles, along with a signed copy of Little Bites!

Raspberry Brownies

Slightly adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway (Roost, 2015)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unrefined raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup raspberries, frozen
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup pistachio, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 7 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper

2. Place olive oil, chocolate, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously until smooth and melted.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes.  Whisk eggs into mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add ground almonds, oat flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Mix to combine.  Fold in half the raspberries and all of the pecans.

3. Transfer to baking pan, and top with remaining raspberries, and pistachio, pressing them down gently into the mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before slicing.  Brownies will keep, airtight, at room temp for 2-3 days (though I highly doubt they will last that long!).

CVR My Darling Lemon Thyme_Roost Books

CVR Vibrant Table pb_Kassoff_Roost Books

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.50.02 PM