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

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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.

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_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.

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_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.

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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??

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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!

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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.

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Summer Meltdown

_MG_3170This past week I’ve been in mourning.  We came back “home” to Providence and I was hit with the realization that I didn’t want to be here.  I left my heart in Michigan, so to speak, and the transition back here has been difficult.  The first night home was filled with the loudness of city life- neighbors yelling, cars revving, sirens blaring- and I didn’t sleep a wink, missing that country darkness and quiet.  Slowly, slowly I am finding my feet again, readjusting to life here in Providence.  Luckily, the kids are so happy-go-lucky that the transition hasn’t been hard on the at all- they loved our time in Michigan for all that it was, and they were happy to be back home to their pool and their friends.  Oh to be a kid again- it was all so simple!

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_MG_3231As always, my garden and farmers market bring me joy, especially now that they have reached their summer peak.  The garden is bursting with 10-foot-tall sunflowers, in every variety imaginable.  I planted some in my plot this year, and I absolutely love the pop of color among the greens and tomatoes.  The boys come along to help, still wearing their wet bathing suits from the pool.  We have to peel the suits off every night, managing only because we promise they can put them back on first thing in the morning.  What are we going to do when the pool closes?  There will surely be tears!

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_MG_3223Last night, as we walked to the garden, sitting in front of the school (where my community garden is) there was a large group of men, sitting around drinking and smoking pot, the ground around them strewn with litter and broken bottles.  This is my garden.  This is the public school where our kids would attend if we stay here.  I went into the garden, chaining the lock behind us, feeling worried as I turned my back to water and weed.  This is Providence…and we’re back.  At this moment, there is not much more to say.

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A Summery Quilt

IMG_5483Each night, once the kids are tucked away, completely exhausted after another day of swimming, scooting, boating and running wild and free, I pick up my latest project, alternating between knitting and sewing.  I just finished hand-sewing the binding on this quilt and I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.  It’s perfectly girly (made with Posy by Aneela Hoey fabric), which will please my niece, and I hope it drapes nicely over the foot of her bed, as that’s the size I was going for.  My mom stumbled across this amazing field of sunflowers, and it seemed the perfect backdrop to show off the quilt.  Our summer in Northern Michigan is drawing to a close- I can hardly believe how fast it flew by, and I am already mourning heavily the fact that we won’t see our cottage again for another year. We’ll just have to squeeze every last ounce of fun and adventure out of this weekend and let our memories carry us through til next year.

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Vik Turns 2!

_MG_2646Here’s the thing about Vik- we could have simply given him a lollypop and called it a day, and he would have been pleased as punch (I mean, do you see that smile?).  But really, where’s the fun in that!?  This past week we threw a blow-out birthday bash here at the cottage in what is now becoming an annual event.  The neighborhood kids began asking us about the party the very first week we arrived- I guess it made quite an impression last time around!

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_MG_2617And so we made sure to really outdo ourselves this time around- with a big ole’ monkey pinata, finger sandwiches, lots of tiny homemade chocolate cupcakes, party games, and face painting.  Our poor kids- one day when they are forced to have a small, reserved party they are going to be all, “Is this what you call a party?”  Indeed, we have spoiled them rotten.  But you only turn two once, so why not live it up!

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_MG_2573In addition to the splendor of Northern Michigan that I am always raving about, we are so blessed to have grown up spending summers on this particular lane in this particular small lake town.  Our lane is a tiny unpaved road, with about 12 cottages- and up until a couple years ago when a new family bought a place here- we were still considered the “new kids on the block.”  And that’s after 20 years of having a place here!!  Most of the cottages on our lane have been in the same family for three- four generations.  That means that everyone here grew up spending summers together, as did their parents, and grandparents.  I get a bit misty eyed when I see the new generation of kids- mine included- running wild through the yards, popping into different houses to play, sharing snacks, and learning to water ski.  It’s my greatest hope that they all grow up together- spending summers at their grandparents, and year after year, helping my precious little Vik ring in a new year in style.

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More Than Just Cherries

_MG_2002There are t-shirts and bumper stickers for sale all over Northern Michigan with the slogan “Traverse City: More Than Just Cherries.”  This makes me laugh every time….a city so tied to its cherries that it needs a slogan to try and break away.  But it’s true, there is so much more to Traverse City than just cherries.  That being said, the cherries are pretty darn great!

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_MG_1929We’re big fans of King Orchards, a family owned and operated orchard in Central Lake, Michigan, just a short drive from the cottage.  They offer a variety of u-pick fruits as well as a farmstand with every variety of cherry product you can imagine.  This year we stocked up on buckets of sweet black cherries, apricots and raspberries.  Perhaps the most exciting thing of all was the cherry pitter, which the boys helped operate, and which led to many cherry based desserts including clafoutis and cherry crumble.  And let’s be honest, it also led to cherries being eaten by the fist-full.  Luckily, a quick dunk in the lake is all that was needed to scrub the boys of their cherry stains.

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Up North Day Tripping

u pick flower farmIs July flying by at warp speed, or is it just me?  We’re certainly making the most of our time, savoring every sweet moment of summer.  Looking at these pictures it seems as though we have covered quite a bit of ground in the past week, although it doesn’t feel like we’ve been rushing around.  Just the opposite, in fact.  Plenty of relaxing and downtime mixed in with fabulous day trips.  I stand by this fact wholeheartedly: there is no better place to day trip than Northern Michigan!

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_MG_2228My mom and I took a day to tour the Traverse City area, starting with the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in the morning, stopping in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons for coffee and treats, and eventually winding around to the most amazing organic tea farm, Light of Day Organics.  We tasted a flight of teas and wandered the tranquil property feeling as though we had found the very best secret garden in the whole world.  A garden bursting with healing herbs, fruits and tea plants.

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_MG_2247From there, we traveled along the winding country roads until we reached Leland and Suttons Bay, two charming towns with fabulous shops and eateries.  There was a vintage car show in town and I believe I found my next summer cruiser (perhaps better suited for a time when we don’t require two ginormous car seats).

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_MG_2281While trying to find an herb farm we only knew by memory, we happened upon Tandem Cider, a hard cider operation with the loveliest of gardens.  We stopped for a glass and a wander through the gardens before continuing on, and my mom and I remarked that “this is the thing about Up North- you never know what little gems you’re going to stumble upon.”

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_MG_2301Oh but the icing on the cake…the very best part of the day?  We happened upon a u-cut flower farm on the way to Suttons Bay, Omena Cut Flowers U-Pick Flower Farm.  It was the most magical place, rows of gorgeous flowers for sale by the stem, and a charming farmstand offering mason jars and scissors.  As we were finishing up with our bouquet, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Carolyn and we were able to learn about her farm, and her passion for providing people with the experience of cutting their own flowers.  She had so many great things to say about Suttons Bay, including a glowing report of the local school system, where she sent her kids from pre-k through to high school.  As if our gorgeous day trip wasn’t enough to convince me of a Northern Michigan move, the idea of a fabulous school system and a flower farm right down the road has me sold!

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flower farm