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.

quench

_MG_7207

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.

_MG_4910_2

_MG_4936

_MG_5152_2

_MG_5046

_MG_4962

_MG_4983

_MG_5187

_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.

_MG_5467

_MG_5306

_MG_5497

_MG_5420

_MG_5292

_MG_5236

_MG_5559

_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.

_MG_6533

_MG_6513

_MG_6439

_MG_6012

_MG_6528

_MG_6518

_MG_6456

_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.

_MG_6029

_MG_6376

_MG_6138

_MG_6119

_MG_6455

_MG_6552

_MG_6711

_MG_6394

_MG_6380

_MG_6383

_MG_6563

_MG_6419

_MG_6746

_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.

_MG_6671

_MG_6659

_MG_6804

_MG_6596

_MG_6570

_MG_6666

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

_MG_6390

_MG_6375

_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.

_MG_6418

_MG_6366

_MG_6377

_MG_6408

_MG_6393

_MG_6396

_MG_6427

_MG_6415

_MG_6423

And so it ends…

_MG_5964The gardening season is wrapping up and my plot is a tangle of brown tomato stalks and still-green fruits that for one reason or another never chose to ripen.  I have been knee deep in soil lately, putting to bed my own plot and working one day a week at Robin Hollow Farm.  I visited the farm for my Gardenista story, and they asked if I might want to work one day a week.  They find themselves short staffed in the fall when their college helpers return to school.  I was thrilled at the chance- I was desperately craving some time outside of the house, away from the computer, to lose myself in hard work and natural beauty.  As a writer, my work can get isolating.  I love the various articles I have worked on that get me out into the community- the interview and photography stage- but when you get home, the reality of being a writer is just hours in front of a computer screen.  Although I will always write, I am finding myself drawn to work that is active and engaging.  The kind of work that causes your muscles to ache at the end of the day.  Perhaps I am only feeling this way because I am on deadline for a series of projects.  But this much I know for certain…we are having a magical fall, full of sun and changing leaves, mums and pumpkins, orchard visits and apple crisps.  I am soaking it all in, loving every minute of it.  So if things are a bit quiet around these parts, you’ll find me outside basking in the autumn sun and storing the warmth to help get me through the impending winter.  That being said, I am excited for winter knitting and crafting….I haven’t picked up my needles in over a month now!  Each season has its gifts, that is for sure.

_MG_5996

_MG_5586

_MG_5973

_MG_5591

A Night Away

_MG_5690This past weekend my husband and I went to Vermont….ALONE….WITHOUT THE KIDS.  Just for a night, but still, it was our first time ever being away from them as a couple.  We drove through picturesque towns, stopping for coffee, to take in the sights, or grab a bite to eat.  We had no real agenda, except to explore.  We have both been incredibly busy lately, and we felt like we needed to connect, to sit down to a leisurely dinner, and talk late into the night about our hopes and dreams for our little family.

_MG_5644

_MG_5693

_MG_5540

covered bridgeOf course, it helped that we were blessed with the most beautiful fall weather complete with crisp misty mornings and vibrant changing leaves.  We discovered the charming town of Grafton, VT and it stole our heart with its quaint New England charm.  Deerfield and Northhampton were also on our itinerary, both fun towns to explore.

_MG_5722

_MG_5614

_MG_5607It was perfection, and we both came back invigorated and full of energy to tackle some of the challenges that life has been throwing at us lately.  Tending to your marriage when you are busy with two toddlers can be tough, but it is so important.  I think our overnight was a good reminder that every now and then, it is good to step away and rekindle the romance.  However, we found ourselves racing home in order to tuck our boys in the following night, laughing at how badly we were missing their rambunctious ways.  I guess we can only take the relaxation and quiet for a day or two before we’re ready to dive back into the madness!

_MG_5667

_MG_5631

_MG_5685

Gardenista Gig

_MG_4965With Vijay in school two mornings a week, I have a bit of breathing room in my schedule right now.  Of course I still have Vik home during that time, but he is a totally different kid than his brother.  He is happy to play independently in the backyard while I sit on the patio with my coffee and write.  We still plan fun activities to do together, just the two of us, but there are days where I take an hour or so to work.  This has meant that I am able to take on some super fun freelance work, including contributing quite regularly to Gardenista, a gorgeous gardening/diy/ inspiration site.

_MG_4624I wanted to share with you my latest article featuring Robin Hollow Farm, a beautiful flower farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.  While you’re there, I’d love for you to take a look at my other articles.  It has been so much fun to get out into the community of gardeners and growers here in Rhode Island, and mix it up a bit.  And if you know of any beautiful gardens in the area, please send your recommendations my way!  I’m at the point where I need a bumper sticker on my car that reads, “Will break for beautiful gardens,” as I am always on the lookout for promising stories.

*Georgia Marsh’s stunning Jamestown garden

*Cluck, a perfectly curated gardening shop in Providence

*DIY: Back-to-School Hand Sanitizer

*Eva’s Secret Garden

_MG_4845

_MG_4622

_MG_4785

_MG_4882

_MG_4959

Squam and Coming Home

_MG_5118Life seems to be racing by at lightening speed these days.  My husband and I are a bit like ships passing in the night.  Big things are happening, thrilling things…but it is tiring to keep up the pace.  I’m excited for fall.  It feels like things will be settling into place a bit and I am looking forward to crisp days and cool nights.  This past weekend was a delicious preview of fall, as the leaves were just beginning their change, and the air was chilly and sweet with the smell of damp earth.

_MG_4998

_MG_5078

_MG_4982

_MG_5047Squam was gorgeous, as always, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to sink in and relax.  Instead I kept myself busy, taking pictures, touring the surrounding towns and selling my wares at the fair on Saturday.  I didn’t have the brain power needed to take classes this year, though if I had, I surely would have taken Ann Wood’s class and made my own sweet little mushroom.

_MG_5095

_MG_5338

_MG_5403

_MG_5363

_MG_5469I drove back Saturday night, which was crazy since it was raining hard and I didn’t get home until after 1am.  But I was ready for a relaxing Sunday at home, and I needed family time.  Do you ever get that panicky feeling, thinking about your sweet little ones tucked into their beds far away and think- “Okay, I need to get on home.  NOW.”?  Home…it has been on my mind a lot these days.  I am learning that for now, it simply means wherever my family happens to be at the moment.  It may not be the perfect physical house in the perfect town…but if I’ve got my people, I’m all good.

_MG_5130

_MG_5045

_MG_5499

_MG_5474

First Day of School

_MG_4597Oh my goodness you guys, this picture is everything.  My heart bursts open in a million pieces when I see it.  A million, trillion pieces.

This is my boys to a T.  That is Vijay’s nervous smile, while Vik is just super excited thinking he is going to school along with his brother.  The socks and Crocs look is 100% my boys- nothing but high fashion around these parts.  Vijay loves shirts with construction and the phrase couldn’t be more fitting- “One Man Wrecking Crew.”  I wish I could tell you every detail of his first day of preschool- it was one part tragedy, one part comedy.  But we all made it through mostly unscathed, and I have to say, Vik and I had the best little mama/son date during the time Vij was at school, though he kept asking about Vijay.  “Vijay crying?” he kept wondering.  He was very worried about his brother.  Today was the second day of school, and my husband rode with him to school.  They made it halfway, then I had to pick them up because Vijay was tired and needed a snack.  Oh these boys…they are too much.  I’m sorry if this post is a jumble of thoughts- I am running to pick up Vijay from school, and packing for Squam (I leave later today), and I am still processing all my mother emotions.  But I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a wonderful weekend.  I hope the first week back to school was smooth for everyone, or at least a bit smoother than ours.  We’re getting there, though!  It’s a process, right!?  Right??

_MG_4973

_MG_4980

Reading Recommendations

_MG_4588I can hardly believe it’s September, though a quick stroll through the market this past weekend confirmed the calendar.  It is fall-ish here, but the days are still sunny, bright and beautiful.  Oh yes…and extremely busy.  I’ve been working towards a handful of deadlines- shooting and writing non-stop.  There has been so much juggling, so many late nights and so much travel (my husband, not me) that we’re all feeling a bit exhausted, though there are so many exciting projects in the works.  With preschool starting soon I think we’re all looking forward to a routine and structure that will help us feel a bit more grounded and sane.  My husband was traveling over the long weekend, which meant I had nights to myself.  Instead of attempting anything remotely productive in my exhausted state, I decided to watch The Fault in Our Stars…twice…sobbing like a baby both times.  I fell madly in love with the actor who played Gus, although he looks to be about twelve.  But he is just so cute, and so good.  I read the book when it came out eons ago, and I have read a handful of titles since, but I realized that it has been a good long time since I sunk into a fabulous read.  Can I ask you all for some amazing book recommendations? I read anything and everything, though I’m feeling like some good fiction.  Books and authors I love: Jhumpa Lahiri, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Strout…and I don’t mind good YA.  I loved The Fault in Our Stars and Wonder (both made me sob, and sob and sob).  One of my favorite books in a long time was The Light Between Oceans.  So can we start a list here of amazing, lose-yourself kinda books?  I’d love that!  Here’s to fall- curling up in bed with a good book sounds just about right!

_MG_4572

_MG_4587

Subtle Changes

_MG_3739In the past week there has been a shift and I can feel summer waning.  The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, and the first golden leaves have already drifted off our trees in the backyard.  We had our first preschool event, which gave me so much to look forward to in the coming year.  I think we’ve found a community of supportive, amazing, caring people that will nurture Vijay in his very first out-of-home experience.  We’re pretty jazzed.  I think we’re all ready for a bit of structure and routine to our weeks.

_MG_3722It was a strange summer weather wise, wasn’t it?  It took quite a long time to warm up, and even in the middle of summer we never experienced the kind of heat that we’re used to (both in Michigan and Providence).  On one hand I’m thankful since our home has no air conditioning which makes hot nights super uncomfortable.  But on the other hand, I think I’ve only submerged myself in the pool a handful of times since it is always so chilly.  What does this mean for the garden?  Basically, it means that nothing really went as planned!  But would you look at that harvest above- the colors are so vibrant and gorgeous they almost make me forget that most of my tomatoes are sitting green and heavy on the vine.  As before, I took notes throughout the growing season, and I’m glad I did since there were quite a few duds this year, namely the carrot and radish varieties I chose, which were both bitter tasting.  But this is why gardening is so intriguing.  You put your trust in this tiny seed, nurture it and water it, and then wait to see what it produces.  And the results will never be the same thanks to all the variables.  If things feel quiet around here, just know that I’m digging around in the dirt, taking time to do some deep thinking about our family’s future, and spending the last few warm days at the pool with the kiddos.  It’s going to be alright.

_MG_3637

_MG_3653

_MG_3639