After such a leisurely summer, fall has taken us by storm. We are adjusting to a new school schedule, a new job that takes me out of the home for 15-20 hours a week, a traveling husband and a calendar filled to the brim. In the coming weeks we’re celebrating the wedding of my brother, along with Vijay’s 5th birthday, and the wedding of one of my best girlfriends. Whew. And that’s just October! Busyness has been on my mind, and I am really pondering how best to strike a new rhythm to our days now that I am working out of the home. This has meant crock-pot recipes galore, asking for help when I need it, and trying to accept that there will not be as much time in my week for creative endeavors. Everything in life has its season and I think we are heading into a busy season, one that will stretch us to new heights, and teach us to appreciate our quiet moments together when they come. I’m learning to embrace the new challenges and rise to the occasion. In the midst of all this newness, I headed to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend to celebrate an old friendship. Her wedding is coming up in a few weeks, and I planned a girls’ weekend away so that we could all celebrate the bride. The weather was exquisite, the meals delicious, and the company even better. I should have snapped a million more pictures, but as part of this new phase I’m learning that sometimes it is just as important to be in the moment and allow the beauty to exist in the mind’s eye alone. Here are a few snippets to share… Fall is most definitely in the air.
It is an emotional time for our family as we prepare to say goodbye to our beloved sitter, Liz. Truth be told, I’ve been in a state of mourning as we get closer to her departure. I simply can’t image our lives without her. She has been with us for over three years, starting just a few months before Vik was born. During that time she has become so, so much more than a babysitter- she is a huge presence in our lives. New motherhood is difficult. It is lonely and isolating and overwhelming. But when Liz would come through the door, I always felt this huge wave of relief knowing that with her help, everything would be okay. Over the years Liz has traveled with us to India, Northern Michigan and Tortola. She has watched the boys on our first overnight away from them. She has cooked them countless meals, read them thousands of stories and passed endless hours at the libraries and parks around town. She is truly one-of-a-kind, with a heart of gold and she has showered our boys with love. She graduated in May of this year, and is now leaving to teach in Europe. I hope she has the adventure of a lifetime. I was joking with her yesterday that no one must ever leave Rhode Island because I have never seen quite the fuss over a person going away. There have been parties, friends demanding goodbye dinners, brunches and drinks, and parades in her honor (okay, maybe not parades, but close enough!). But really, all the fuss is just a testament to how deeply this girl is loved.
It’s funny…you never know who is going to come into your life and change it for the better. When shy little Liz walked through our door over three years ago I could have never guessed what she would come to mean to our family. I’m hoping ours is a connection we can maintain for a lifetime. She better make room in her little apartment, because the boys and I are going to crash her party…I can guarantee that. We just can’t go that long without our Lizzie.
We’re nearing the end of a large kitchen renovation, and a new look for our living room and entryway. The former living room was near and dear to my heart- I loved the colors and playfulness, and I loved that the furniture was all secondhand, various finds over the years- but to be completely honest, it was never a very comfortable room. The chairs were low and uncomfortable, the coffee table was always tipping when the kids were around, and the couch was stained and floppy, having lost its fluff years ago. It was time for a redo.
We moved into this house 6 years ago when I was in my mid-twenties. My style at that time was eclectic, thrifted and colorful. It was super fun, but over the years, my tastes have changed. Now I crave clean spaces, white walls and little to no clutter. Simple. Natural. Cozy. With this in mind, we painted the entire downstairs white, with the exception of the softest taupe in the dining room, and we sold off all of our living room furniture, save a lamp and an end table. I chose a few new pieces of furniture and a new rug, but for the accessories I wanted some vintage finds. So on the hottest day of September (not a fact, just a feeling) I headed to Brimfield in hopes of scoring some cute end tables and something really special to hang on the wall.
Would you believe I came home empty-handed? It was so hot, and I was so overwhelmed trying to find that “perfect” piece, that I pretty much gave up after many hours of wandering. The one little table that I had my eye on was already sold when I went back for it. So it is back to the drawing board. Many of the pictures here capture the style that I am after, which I guess I would call “simple farmhouse.” Linen, white walls, soft colors, clean lines, rustic wood. I can’t wait to give you a house tour once it is all pulled together, though it seems that might be a bit farther off than I thought!
It kinda blows my mind how much my boys have grown and changed over the past year. They are like these little men, tan and lanky, full of mischief, brimming with confidence. Vijay is starting preschool today, and he’ll be attending three mornings a week. He’s pumped to be back in school! Today was his first day and he was all, “Let’s DO this!” Vik will officially start next week, though he had his orientation yesterday and loved it. He’ll be attending two mornings a week. I am looking forward to having one-on-one time with both of them this year while the other is in school. In the afternoons, I will go to work and my husband will take over. It is going to be a juggling act to be sure, but we’re both excited to spend lots of quality time with the boys. These years are flying by so quickly, and we want to be home together as much as possible while we can.
Just for reference, below is the picture from last year- all nervous smiles from Vijay and relative clueless smiles from Vik! I swear they have both grown about 5 feet since last year (check out their heads in relation to the mail slot!)…how I’ll keep enough food in the house come their teenage years, I have no clue ;)
This summer was magical. It felt like such a break…the boys went to camp while we were in Rhode Island (4 hours each morning where they were both out of the house…hello new world!!!) and in Michigan they ran wild and free with friends and relatives around to lend a helping hand. In addition to lots of crafting time (see here for proof) I also had ample time to read. There’s nothing quite as indulgent as curling up with a good book by the pool or lake. It is one of those true summer luxuries, and I was sure not to take it for granted. I thought I’d share some of the books that I’ve enjoyed this summer in case you are looking for a good fall read. I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately as I know I’ll need some good books to unwind with once the fall activity level ramps up!
The Nightingale: I saw this book everywhere, from the NYT Bestseller List to every bookstore window that I passed. Initially I wrote it off as another “it” book that would fall short of my expectations…that is until I downloaded a sample chapter on my Ipad (that’s right, I’ve made the switch). I immediately purchased the book and hardly put it down for the next two days. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story set in France during WWII. I loved the strong female characters who were forced to make sacrifices both for their family and the greater good.
The Silent Wife: I categorize this as a beach read- mystery, suspense, murder, an unraveling marriage and a Chicago setting (which I loved). It is an easy read but kept me thoroughly entertained.
All the Light We Cannot See: BEST book of the summer, without a doubt. Again, I was hesitant to pick it up because I get a bit tired of books set during WWII (they can start to all blend together after a while), and this had so much buzz that again, I wondered whether it would live up to the hype. However, it far surpassed my expectations, and I was taken in after the first few pages. This book is so well written, and completely transports you to another time and place. The characters are incredibly memorable, which lends such a fresh view to the WWII theme. If you read one book this fall, read this.
The Good Girl: I can’t recall now how I found out about author Mary Kubica, but I was immediately drawn to her writing style. This reminded me of Gone Girl, a mystery that centers around an intriguing female character and ends with a twist that you’ll never see coming.
Pretty Baby: Kubica’s second book, released just this summer, is another psychological thriller, this time centered around a women who takes in a young homeless mother and her baby. I read this in a few days and found it hard to put down. The main character’s emotional states are so complex and unstable (and the author captures it all so well) that it makes for an intense read.
My favorite author, without a doubt, is Jhumpa Lahiri. I have met her twice at book signings, and I own a copy of every book she’s written (and they are all signed with a personal message…fan girl!). I hadn’t reread her short story collections in many years, and this past week, I was feeling like I needed to revisit her writing. Each night, I read one story, and they are so breathtakingly beautiful that my heart kinda aches afterward. But in a good way. If you’ve never read her writing, I highly suggest starting with Interpreter of Maladies.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest: I read the sample of this book and instantly wanted to read more. That’s always a good sign. This has been marketed as a book about food and the foodie culture, with plenty of humor. Sounds like fun!
Tinkers: My friend Kellen recommended this book, and I have it downloaded already. I’m looking forward to it, though I have no idea what to expect after reading the synopsis.
The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood: I’m dying to read this book after Felicia recommended it on her post about motherhood and craft, however I am having trouble finding an affordable copy. It’s outrageously expensive on Amazon, and our library doesn’t have a copy. The search continues…
Finally, I just have to share with you that Vijay is finally at the stage where he is loving chapter books. We read a chapter or two together before his nap, and another before bed. He often begs me to read another chapter at some point during the day…I LOVE it. I cannot even tell you how much I love it. My mom read to us every night until we were approaching our teen years. I believe it is such a sacred and important ritual. The fact that Vijay loves books as much as I do is simply the best. Vik is doing his best to keep up…but we still read a few simpler books for him each night too. Here’s a few we’ve been enjoying lately, and I’d really love to hear any suggestions you have:
My Father’s Dragon (first in a series of three): These are short chapter books with illustrations throughout, which makes it easy for young readers to follow. The stories are magical and feature an adventurous young boy who helps to free a baby dragon. What’s not to love!
Charlotte’s Web: A classic, obviously. If you can find an addition with illustrations throughout, it can help young readers follow along, and will hold their attention for longer.
Homer Price: This is a collection of very endearing and old fashioned stories, by legendary children’s author Robert McCloskey, about a boy named Homer Price growing up in a small town. Certain stories were a bit over Vijay’s head, but he loved the story about Homer’s pet skunk and the story about the doughnut machine. Vijay enjoys stories that are pretty tame, without too much drama, and without any villains or scary events, so this book about everyday life in a small town was perfect.
Above, Vijay at 10 months: It makes me laugh that way back in the day I used to worry about whether Vijay would ever be into books. Basically, I worried we had a meathead on our hands ;) I worried about a lot of things then. Man how things change! So little worries me now about the boys compared to that “new mom anxiety.” Is he on weight? Is he getting enough milk? Is he walking on time? Is he talking on time? Now my only concern is more along the lines of “Can your brother still breath while you have him in that headlock?”
Sometimes I wish I had less interests, which sounds like an odd thing to say I’m sure. The problem is that there is SO much I want to do everyday and there’s limited time to do it. I want to work on sewing and knitting project, as well as home projects. I want to visit my garden and spend time watering, harvesting and weeding. I want to sneak in a work out (I am currently obsessed with boxing!). I long to catch up with friends over coffee. I enjoy being in the kitchen trying new recipes along with old favorites. I love reading. I yearn to wander around town with my camera. And that doesn’t even touch on larger interests that I’d love to pursue with abandon, such as travel. But most of my time at home goes into mothering and running a household- and I feel privileged to spend my days doing this, don’t get me wrong. But you know how it goes…. Sometimes I even wonder if I should try to shift my mindset: less hobbies, less doing and more being. Yet these things bring me great joy, and each one brings a different sort of joy. Gardening invigorates me, knitting relaxes me, photography engages me… This has all been on my mind lately as the busyness of fall begins and I find myself trying to carve out a minute here or there. It has also been on my mind ever since I read Felicia’s post on “Craft in the Middle of Motherhood.” There are weeks, and months, and even years where these “hobbies” have been my lifeline, drawing me back to my whole self when I was lost in the fog of new motherhood.
As mother’s we are hardwired to feel guilt, I suppose. Are we doing enough? Are we giving enough? Are we providing enough? There are times when my guilt wells up- when I lose my patience and snap at the boys for something silly, or when I’m knitting on the couch and they ask me to play. Often it is evening time, and I’ve been caring for them all day, cooking for them, swimming with them, reading to them, and I just need a minute to unwind. But I feel guilty because I know they would love for me to play, and I know this time is fleeting and there will be a day when they want nothing to do with me. But where is that line between preserving one’s sanity, and cherishing every moment with your children? I don’t know the answer to this question, though it is one that I frequently ask myself. For now all I know is this- the vines were heavy with tomatoes, and the kale was overgrown, and the garden called for my attention, and I spent the evening hours there and it felt so good. That will have to be enough for now.
My husband and I have an anniversary coming up. On September 1 we’ll be celebrating 8 years of marriage, which is quite exciting. Unfortunately, he’ll be away on business for the actual day of our anniversary, so we figured we’d celebrate a bit early. When work called him to NYC for the day, we decided to make it into a romantic overnight. It was the perfect escape and we enjoyed a gorgeous dinner in the West Village, a leisurely morning in SoHo, with breakfast at The Butchers Daughter, and lots of wandering. Although I came away with tons of inspiration, I ended up not buying a single thing. I’m in the process of decluttering and refreshing our home right now, and I’m finding less and less desire to bring new items into our space. Rather I’m trying to rework and repaint and refinish items that we already have. Although when the time comes and everything is pulled together, I have no doubt a few fun accessories will be needed!
Because Vijay has to work on Monday, Elizabeth came on the train with us and stayed for the day so that I’d have someone to pal with. She’s working on some fun stuff for Squam right now, and we scoured the city for the perfect fabric and accessories. Of course that meant a stop at Purl. It also meant lunch at ABC Kitchen, a wander through Union Square Greenmarket, and the most incredible ice cream (a scoop of ginger and a scoop of dark chocolate- combo made in heaven) from the Van Leeuwen truck. I will dream about that ice cream until the next time I can hunt it down.
It seems that work will be taking my husband into the city every few months, and I am always more than happy to tag along. I get such a creative burst of energy from these visits and I return home eager to start creating and crafting. I’m pushing for a fall visit when the leaves are turning and the air is crisp and my needles are calling out for a cozy new fall knitting project. We’ll see… a girl can dream.
I had the most beautiful of book signings yesterday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA. There was a nice turnout for the cooking demonstration, and the hour flew by as I made Zucchini Muffins with Peach Preserves and Summer Corn Fritters from Little Bites. All of the produce was sourced from my garden, the farmer’s market or the gardens at Tower Hill. It was all delicious, and prompted a great number of book sales. In all, it was one of those afternoons where I was reminded of the reason I love writing books; connecting with people over a common message. Of course I failed to get a single image of the actual event because I was too busy…but that’s a good problem to have!
I arrived an hour early to Tower Hill, simply to have enough time to settle in and go for a quick wander. The grounds were so lovely, and I was surprised to find that fall colors were starting to make their appearance. In fact, with the overcast skies, it felt much like a fall afternoon. I love the gardens and grounds at Tower Hill because they change so beautifully with the seasons. Having spent the last week hardly leaving the water thanks to my two little fish I was still feeling smack dab in the middle of summer. This weekend reminded me that fall is indeed around the corner, with all of the crisp air and vibrant foliage that it brings. I say bring it on (but give us a few more weeks of pool weather, if you will!).
It’s always thrilling to see your name in print, and when it is attached to an article as lovely as this one, the thrill is over the top. I pitched this story to Country Living well over a year ago, and through many staff changes and lapses of communication I stuck to this story like a dog with a bone. It isn’t always easy being a freelancer, throwing your ideas to the wind and hoping they find a place to land. And sometimes even when they do land, you have to fight for the right to actually write them! I know… But the article is gorgeous, the pictures by Stephanie Rausser are stunning and it was such a pleasure getting to know Erin of Floret Flower Farm. All in all, a great win! I hope you’ll grab a copy of the September issue (on stands now) and take a peek.
Anyway, this year there are going to be some big changes. I am going to work part-time at the school where we will be sending the boys once they start kindergarten. I’m excited and nervous, wondering how I am going to juggle it all. The boys will still attend their sweet little preschool just a few mornings a week, so my husband and I are going to be switching on and off for childcare, as we’re also losing our amazing sitter this year. I’m ready to be back in the workforce, working with a great team and being a part of something bigger than myself. I am also thrilled with the idea of being a part of my kid’s school in such an official capacity. It feels so right! That being said I still have my third book launching in April, as well as talks of a fourth, but we’ll just have to see about that! I’ll always keep writing and photography as part of my life, and I hope to keep this space lively for years to come as I so enjoy it! But life is shifting, as it tends to do, and I couldn’t be more excited for the new direction.
In past years I have gone through a mourning period upon returning home from Michigan. This year it felt good to be home, and that, my friends, is HUGE. I have struggled for years to accept Providence as my home. I have always enjoyed this city, but it always felt like a semi-permanent residence, despite the fact that we own and love our home and have found a great community. But this was the year where it all fell into place, and I worked really hard on adjusting my thinking to view my city in a positive light, despite its issues. Because let’s face it…there is no such thing as a perfect place.
Upon returning home the first thing we did was pay a visit to our farmers market. Oh how I’ve missed our market. We are in the middle of some major kitchen work (more on that later) and so I was limited in what I could buy since we are without a place to cook for the next two weeks. So basically we just bought a ton of fruit and ate it all day long! The following day the boys and I drove to the Cape to help my friend Sarah celebrate her daughter Emily’s birthday. It was the loveliest party and I was once again blown away by Sarah’s creativity. Would you look at those cupcakes and cookies? She made it all, even down to the starfish hair clip (embellished with french knots) in Emily’s hair. Although we are already midway through August, summer still feels delicious and although we ache for the lake, and miss my parents terribly, it sure is good to be home.