Time

_MG_7986Sometimes 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.

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_MG_7964As 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.

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New York City

_MG_7869My 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!

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_MG_7887Because 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.

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_MG_7937It 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.

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Tower Hill and Fall Colors

_MG_7658I 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!

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_MG_7641I 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!).

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Country Living, September Issue

_MG_7627It’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.

_MG_7631Anyway, 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.

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Home Again

_MG_3772In 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.

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_MG_7410Upon 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.

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Join Me This Weekend

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.26.08 AMIt’s been pretty amazing to see the response to Little Bites now that it has been out in the world for a few weeks.  I especially love seeing it on Instagram on kitchen tables, joining cookbook collections, and alongside finished recipes (you can tag it #littlebites, instagram above by Cara Brostrom, below by My Darling Lemon Thyme, ).

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.23.43 PM copyOne of the most thrilling things to happen was seeing it reach #1 Best Seller in its category on Amazon.  I think every author dreams of seeing that little orange #1 banner next to their book, but rarely does that dream become a reality.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.07.20 PMAnyway, on Saturday I will signing books and doing a cooking demo at Stock in Providence, from 11am-1pm.  I would love to see you there, and I will have some delicious treats on hand!  Come by for a bite, or a signed copy of Little Bites, or just to say hello!  It’ll be a great time, and it is on the way to the Hope Street farmers market, so stop in before/ after your shopping!

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Vik Turns 3!

_MG_7204My baby turned three this past week.  WHAT?  Three years old, I can hardly believe it.  He is such a little man, probably due to the fact that he is constantly trying to keep up with his older brother.  He is such an incredibly calm spirit with a determination and grit that is well beyond his years, and for such a young boy he is so very self assured.  He amazes me every single day and it is a privilege to be his mama.  It was such a joy to shower him with love for his birthday!

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_MG_6978I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating…we are so lucky to spend out summers on this little lane of ours.  We’ve known all the families on the lane for twenty years now, and many of them have been here for generations before us.  They all look forward to Vik’s party every summer, and I love knowing that he’ll grow up celebrating with this wonderful group of people.  We kept the party centered around old-fashion fun: sack races, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, Simon Says, clothespin in the bottle drop, face painting and of course, a pinata.  We made finger sandwiches, cut up a few big watermelons, and made mini-chocolate cupcakes.  Everyone had a blast, Vik especially.  Happy birthday my sweet boy…we love you so!

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My Alabama Chanin Tunic

Alabama Chanin tunicDo you remember when I said this dress  would take me about 6-9 months to finish?  Well, I might have overstated that slightly!  It turns out that spending a month in Northern Michigan, away from the distractions and busyness at home, equals about half a year in “the real world.”  I have had so much time up here to kick back and sew while the boys play outside with their friends, go golfing with my dad, craft with my mom, or play Candy Land at my feet.  Their 2 hour afternoon naps certainly helped too (nothing like the water and sun to wear them right out!).  I averaged about a panel a week of this hand-sewn dress, and before I knew it, I was hand-seaming the four panels together and finishing up the neck and arm holes with embroidery (the picture below of the dress from the side shows the hand-sewn seam nicely, and the picture of the neckline shows the herringbone embroidery stitch used to finish the arm and neck holes).  And just like that, it was done!

_MG_7318_MG_7282The Alabama Chanin method of sewing is just incredible.  Hearing Natalie talk about her garments it was clear how much thought is giving to each step of the process, as well as all of the material.  The thread, cotton fabric…everything is chosen with care and chosen for a specific reason.  This is truly an heirloom worthy piece of clothing, and it should last a lifetime.  After making this piece, it is also crystal clear as to why Alabama Chanin clothes come with a hefty price tag.  So very much time is invested into each piece.

_MG_7326If you are interested in making your own Alabama Chanin piece, I would strongly suggest checking out their books, all of which offer very clear instructions, as well as patterns for making your own projects, including the Fitted Tunic, which is what I made here (using reverse applique and the Anna’s Garden stencil).  If you can swing it, I would highly recommend ordering your cotton from Alabama Chanin.  The price per yard is very fair for the quality, and the feel of the cotton is just so soft and luxurious.  You can also order DIY kits from Alabama Chanin and you will receive the pieces cut and stenciled.  You can specify the garment, size, colors, and stencil.  That was what we received at the workshop, and it was really nice not to have to cut and stencil it ourselves.  That way you can get right to sewing.  Finally, I will say this- I loved modeling this as a dress for the purpose of the blog, but in “real life” I will be wearing it as a tunic, most likely over fitted black pants.  It is definitely meant to be worn as a tunic, and I’d feel a bit self conscious trying to pull it off as a dress because of the length.  If you are interested, I’ll style it as I’d wear it this fall and show you how it comes together when worn as a tunic!  Now, I’m moving onto my mom’s workshop dress…there is no way she’s finishing without a whole lotta help!

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Sleeping Bear Dunes

_MG_6709Yesterday we took a day-trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This is an annual trip for my kids, and I’ve been going here for the past 25 years.  As a young girl, my brother and I would partake in the junior ranger program every summer, and back then the park felt like an undiscovered treasure.  This year’s trip was rather heartbreaking.  There was so much traffic and so many people.  I could see the devastating effect that the crowds are having on the dunes.  It is such a fragile ecosystem.

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_MG_6743Acts I witnessed in the span of 20 minutes: a lady putting out her cigarette butts in the sand and leaving them there, a family leaving their trash laying around after a picnic, a young boy pulling out tufts of dune grass (their root system is what anchors the grass and keeps it the dunes from eroding), and of course selfie sticks galore (no one seemed to be breathing in the beauty, rather everyone was on their phones).  The trip, despite the beauty that is still there, left me feeling distraught over the future of my beloved Northern Michigan.  I wonder where the line is between inviting people to witness these national natural treasures, and closing them to the public in order to protect the fragile ecosystems.  As Northern Michigan becomes more popular, Walmarts are popping up on what used to be farmland, the traffic in and out of Traverse seems never-ending…  I’m not sure what to do with these feelings, besides using them as a springboard for important environmental conversations with my boys.  My greatest fear is that when my kids are grown there will be nothing left here to show them.

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Little Bites Launch!

Little BitesJust like that, after two years of work, Little Bites is heading out into the world.  Today is the launch of my second book and I am a bundle of excitement and nerves- sending all of our hard work into the world and hoping that it resonates with people definitely brings out a range of emotions.  I wanted to take this moment to fill you in on all that is going on.  Sarah’s sharing a recipe over on her blog today for the insanely good Peach Frozen Yogurt from the book, and throughout the next few weeks, I’ll let you know as other bloggers share recipes.  We also have some fun events coming up, and I do hope you’ll join us:

LITTLE BITES EVENTS

July 15: Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a talk, tasting and book signing starting at 7pm.

July 20: Cook the Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a cooking demo and book signing at this annual event that celebrates local and regional cookbook authors.

August 8: Stock, Providence, RI. Join Christine for a talk and book signing, 11am-1pm.

August 13: West Tisbury Library, Martha’s Vineyard.  Join Sarah for a cooking demo and book signing starting at 5pm.

August 23: Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, Boylston, MA. Join Christine for a talk, tasting and book signing, 2-3pm.

And now, a peek at what you will find inside the pages…

_MG_8197 copyINTRODUCTION: It’s our hope that the info-packed introduction will be really helpful for health-conscious families, with topics such as The Family Pantry and Cooking with Local and Seasonal Ingredients.  There is also a great section on packing food with health and sustainability in mind.

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Asparagus Fries with Parmesan Cheese (pictured above)
  • Cherry Chocolate Pudding Pops
  • Roasted Sesame Peas
  • Ratatouille Baked Egg Cups
  • Cherry, Coconut and Walnut Bread

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SUMMER

A few favorite recipes include:

  • Blueberry Baked Oatmeal Cups (pictured above)
  • Summer Corn Fritters
  • Green Smoothie Pops
  • Zucchini and Squash Wheels with Marinara Dipping Sauce
  • Black Bean Cakes
  • Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • Peach Frozen Yogurt

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Brussels Sprout Crisps with Parmesan and Lemon (pictured above)
  • Roasted Pumpkin Hummus
  • Cranberry-Orange Buttermilk Snacking Cake
  • Apple Ring Pancakes
  • Broccoli-and-Cheese Soft Pretzel Knots
  • Spinach and Ricotta Egg Muffin Cups

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A few favorite recipes include:

  • Crispy Root Vegetable Patties with Yogurt-Dill Sauce (pictured above)
  • Maple Brown Rice Pudding
  • Vegetable Dumplings
  • Sweet Potato-Quinoa Nori Rolls
  • Cranberry Gingerbread Cookies
  • Sweet Potato-Cornmeal Muffins