Curveball

Life is funny, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, when things feel easy and light, BOOM…curveball. Our surprise came in the form of an unexpected pregnancy this summer, and seeing as it has been…oh, let’s say about half a year since my last blog post, that means we are…

Life is funny, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, when things feel easy and light, BOOM…curveball. Our surprise came in the form of an unexpected pregnancy this summer, and seeing as it has been…oh, let’s say about half a year since my last blog post, that means we are quickly approaching the due date of our baby GIRL! In fact it could be any day now. When I found out I was pregnant I was shocked, and then when I found out it was a girl, I was doubly shocked. In all honesty, I felt incredibly overwhelmed. I’d packed up and given away all our baby items and we were officially in a different phase of parenthood, one that included full time school for both boys, Saturday soccer games, solo time as parents, regular date nights, and a fully potty trained family. I was working more hours and enjoying my job, which is at the boy’s school and allows me to be a big part of their daily school lives. I was mulling over a new book idea. When I found out in early July that I was pregnant I felt panicked. How would I possibly manage a third child on an already very full plate? Add to that the exhaustion and nausea that accompanies the first trimester, and I’ll admit to spending much of July crying on my mom’s lap. Slowly I have been working my way towards finding the joy in this surprise, but I’ve also allowed myself to feel all of my feelings around this pregnancy. I think as women we are so often told that we should feel absolute radiant joy around our pregnancy, and if that is not the case, we can be bullied into feeling like we’re somehow emotionally broken. But it is okay to admit to feeling overwhelmed. It is okay to admit that you’re scared the life and family you love is somehow going to change with another addition. And it is definitely okay to be exhausted by the amount of work each additional child brings to a mother. It is okay. I am a human being with complex emotions and this pregnancy has seen the range of those emotions on display. I was determined to find the beauty and joy in the 9 months of pregnancy, to realize some larger dreams, and mostly to spend time cherishing my boys. That didn’t leave much time for blogging, but I did manage a few pictures and I’d love to share those with you here.

Late August and September were gorgeous. I was feeling a bit better, though still quite exhausted most of the time. I spent hours in my garden, relishing my abundant harvest. The boys swam like little fish all day every day until the first day of school. They began their school year with such joy and confidence. Just look at those handsome faces. September was also busy with travel, including a fiber workshop at Saipua’s Worlds End Farm. It was a weekend filled with all of my favorite things, farms, flowers and fiber. I viewed it as a last hurrah before settling into a busy school year and pregnancy, but it turned out to be far from my last trip. I couldn’t have predicted the incredible travel opportunity that would come in the next few months! October was a gorgeous month and I carved out time to stoke my creativity with regular photo/ styling dates with my friend Linda. We’ve had so much fun pushing each other in the areas of photography, cooking and styling. Whenever we get together, magic is made. Of course, in the midst of all this, I was knitting like a mad woman, having finally fulfilled my dream of being able to knit for a baby GIRL. During my moments of feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, crafting for baby girl has brought me joy and peace. I’ll never take for granted the power of handmade, especially to soothe us when times are emotionally challenging. Once November rolled around, work became increasingly busy. When you work in admissions, the season begins in full force in November and doesn’t slow down again until March. But I still managed to fit in one more creative outing that included wreath making and homemade marshmallow decorating. Around this same time, just when I thought I’d be slowing down over Christmas break and relaxing with my family, I got an opportunity to work on a project I’ve been dreaming of for a decade now. I won’t pretend it happened out of the blue…it took months of work to lay the foundation, but when I finally got the green light, I found myself booking a trip to India while close to 7 months pregnant. My parents watched the boys over the holidays, and my husband and I took an 8-day whirlwind adventure through Jaipur and Udaipur. I simply cannot wait to tell you more about this project! I can’t share much, but here are two of my favorite pictures from the trip! Once January hit, I pretty much buried myself in work and haven’t had a chance to take a breath since. I’m actually really looking forward to my maternity leave (2 months off!) though I’m not naive to the fact that caring for an infant is exhausting. With the boys at school, I’m hoping baby girl and I will have some precious bonding time for those two months. I never quite experienced that with Vik because I was caring full-time for a toddler (Vijay) from the moment Vik was born. I remember those dreamy first weeks with Vijay though, and I look forward to carving out that time with our new addition. As always, thank you for being here and checking in. However infrequently I post these days, I still treasure this space and the conversations that have been had here. I’m not much for social media these days – real life seems to get in the way of an online presence! But you can find occasional updates over on Instagram, and I’m sure I’ll be first announcing baby girls arrival there!

Spreading their wings

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that…

My summer is coming to an end as I find myself back at work, beginning to prepare for the upcoming school year. Reflecting on this past month, I can’t help but think that this summer marked something special on my journey as a mother. It was one of those barely perceivable shifts, the kind that can pass you right by while your busy driving the kids to soccer, making school lunches and trying to get everyone out the door in the morning. Perhaps that’s why it took a break to notice what was happening all around us. July in Northern Michigan offers that break. There is no where to be, no schedule, no busy calendar of events. The days role out with a gentle rhythm of play, whether it be board games, boat rides or backyard badminton. The shift that I noticed is one that has left me incredibly emotional, prone to pouring over family photo albums and remembering when my boys were just wee babies. This summer was the summer they spread their wings. They have a newfound independence and confidence that comes from a combination of age and an incredible year of school under their belts. I watched my son ride his two-wheel bike down the lane by himself. I said goodbye as the boys ran out of the house and over to their friend’s house. I buckled them in and waved goodbye as they drove away, off for a day’s adventure with my younger brother. I beamed with pride as they explored new hobbies with passion, Vik falling especially hard for the sport of golf and Vijay displaying bravery with his tubing skills. My boys still need me, of course. There are meals to make, and scraped knees to bandage, clothes to wash and sandy bodies to scrub clean. And luckily each night they still love nothing more than snuggling close together while we read. But things are changing, as they do every single day in this journey we call motherhood. I remember when I used to long for a moment when a little body wasn’t needing my attention, and now I find myself practically tackling them with hugs and cuddles at every turn. I also remember feeling particularly crabby when older mother’s told me wistfully how fast the time flies (this was when the days seemed to drag and the nights were sleepless and there were endless diapers to change). And yet they were right. They were so very right.  Vik turned five while we were in Michigan and we celebrated with a big party, attended by all of the friends my boys have grown up with in the summers. I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of Northern Michigan, and for our time there every summer. I find it hard to put into words how restful, restorative and magical our time at the lake is for our whole family. It is a chance for my children to grow closer to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. It is a time for us all to have a break from work, camp, school and the general busyness of our “real life.” Mostly it is a chance to be together, in a setting that is too beautiful for words. And for those of you that have followed this unfolding story I wanted to let you know that my mom is doing so well. She is back to having a sparkle in her eye and a spring in her step. She is back to gardening and drawing, hiking and biking, and generally living her life with joy. It is nothing short of a miracle, friends. This coming year promises so much more growth. There will be a busy school year with new teachers and friends. There’s always so much to learn, and such room to grow. I plan to head into this year with the intention of enjoying it all; the busy moments, and the quiet ones. I plan to hold tight to my dear, sweet boys while at the same time watching with awe as they spread their wings.

Roasted Stonefruit Pops

It’s Popsicle Week and I’m here to share a simple, vibrant fruit pop that you’ll want to make on repeat all summer long! There’s nothing quite like roasting fruit to bring out its natural sweetness. In this recipe, stonefruit is tossed in coconut oil and honey, and roasted until the fruit breaks down and the…

It’s Popsicle Week and I’m here to share a simple, vibrant fruit pop that you’ll want to make on repeat all summer long! There’s nothing quite like roasting fruit to bring out its natural sweetness. In this recipe, stonefruit is tossed in coconut oil and honey, and roasted until the fruit breaks down and the edges begin to caramelize. Feel free to use whatever looks good at the market- cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines.

Ingredients

– 4 tablespoons honey, divided
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
– 1/2 cup pitted cherries
– 3 cups pitted and chopped peaches, nectarines and/or plums
– 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the honey with the coconut oil. Toss the chopped stonefruit with the coconut oil and honey, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Roast until the fruit is tender and the edges are starting to caramelize, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow the stonefruit to cool in their juices until they are cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine the yogurt,the remaining 3 tablespoons honey, and the vanilla and stir until well mixed.

4. Fill each pop mold 1/3 full with the fruit and a bit of the juice from the roasting. Pour the yogurt cream over the fruit, leaving room at the top for a bit more fruit. Use a skewer to gently swirl the cream so it mixes with the stonefruit, but do not mix completely. Insert sticks and place the molds in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until hardened. When ready to eat, run the molds under hot water and pop them out. Enjoy!

Chocolate Tahini Ice Cream with Sahadi’s

(Thank you to Sahadi’s for sponsoring this post. They are offering free shipping for the month of June with the code summer17) This summer I plan on having a few quarts of homemade ice cream kicking around our freezer at all times. First up was this rich, decadent Chocolate Tahini is dairy-free, though you’d never…

(Thank you to Sahadi’s for sponsoring this post. They are offering free shipping for the month of June with the code summer17) This summer I plan on having a few quarts of homemade ice cream kicking around our freezer at all times. First up was this rich, decadent Chocolate Tahini is dairy-free, though you’d never know it. Velvety smooth and intensely chocolatey, it is the kind of ice cream that satisfies your craving with just a single scoop. I believe in always using high quality ingredients in my cooking, but when making homemade ice cream, this becomes all the more important. The nuts used in the cashew cream inform the creaminess of the ice cream, and the cocoa achieves the richness. I was thrilled to work with Sahadi’s to create this recipe, and I found their products to be top notch.  Their selection of nuts and dried fruits is extensive, but you can also find specialty baking items, such as Neilsen- Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, with which I’m now obsessed. Sahadi’s are offering free shipping during the month of June with the code summer17.  Give it a try and stock your pantry with all the high quality products I use here! The recipe that follows below is dairy-free and free from refined sugar. It comes together quickly, but allow yourself time for the base to chill. Remember to put the base of your ice cream maker in the freezer ahead of time.

Chocolate Tahini Ice Cream

Ingredients:
1 cup cashew cream*
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup Guittard Cocoa Rouge unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey pure vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
6 dates
3 tablespoons tahini

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread shredded coconut on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until coconut is toasty in color. Remove from the oven and cool.

2. Add the toasted coconut to a blender along with 3 cups of filtered water and blend well. Strain through a nut-milk cloth.

3. Add the coconut milk to a small saucepan, reserving 2 tablespoons in a small bowl. Over medium low heat add cocoa powder and vanilla bean paste to the coconut milk and whisk well. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool.

4. Meanwhile, add the arrowroot starch to the 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk and whisk until dissolved. Add this slurry to the pan and set aside.

5. In a blender combine cashew cream and 6 dates. Blend until smooth.

6. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate coconut mixture and the cashew cream, mix until the ingredients are well incorporated, then cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill.

7. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape the ice cream into a freezer safe container and swirl in the tahini. Cover and freeze until just firm. Enjoy!

*Recipe for Cashew Cream

Ingredients
1 cup whole cashews
1 cup cold filtered water, plus more for soaking

1. Place the cashews in a bowl and add enough cold filtered water to cover them completely. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight
to soak.

2. Drain the cashews and rinse them well. Place them in a blender with 1 cup cold filtered water and the salt and blend on high speed for several minutes, until very smooth.

3. If you’re not using a high-speed blender (which creates an ultra-smooth cream), strain the cashew cream through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. You want a creamy consistency with no solids remaining.

4. Stored in a lidded glass jar, the cream will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Backyard Farms Roasted Tomatoes

We finally saw the sun today after several days of rain. My spring plantings aren’t anywhere near where they were at this time last year. My radish have mostly rotted out in the ground. I’m not sure what this means for my next round of plantings, but I can only hope and pray that once…

We finally saw the sun today after several days of rain. My spring plantings aren’t anywhere near where they were at this time last year. My radish have mostly rotted out in the ground. I’m not sure what this means for my next round of plantings, but I can only hope and pray that once I put my tomato seedlings in the ground, things will start going my way. Because there is nothing I love more than roasted tomatoes, and while my garden won’t be giving me tomatoes anytime soon, Backyard Farms is here to help with New England grown greenhouse tomatoes. On their site you’ll find my recipes for these Roasted Tomatoes on the Vine, as well as that delicious Broccoli Asparagus Quinoa Salad pictured above, which I’ve been making and devouring on repeat. I roasted an entire pan full of tomatoes knowing I’d want a few for a cheese plate my friend put together for an event we recently attended. The tomatoes were a scene stealer and paired so well with a variety of cheeses, crackers, spiced and salted nuts, fruit and honey. Because the tomatoes soften and sweeten when roasted, they become spreadable, almost like a tomato jam. So perfect for cheese pairings. I hope you’ll hope on over to Backyard Farms for the full recipe. This is the type of recipe you’ll turn to all summer long, for pastas and salads, and for the perfect sandwich condiment. Enjoy!  This post is sponsored by Backyard Farms, a company whose practices and products I love.

Electric Moon Peony Farm

This past weekend, on a rare day of sun, my friend Linda and I made a trip to Electric Moon Peony Farm in Little Compton. We all know that peonies are gorgeous, but the blooms at this farm surpass any peony I’ve ever seen. The real stunners are the intersectional peonies, which are a cross…

This past weekend, on a rare day of sun, my friend Linda and I made a trip to Electric Moon Peony Farm in Little Compton. We all know that peonies are gorgeous, but the blooms at this farm surpass any peony I’ve ever seen. The real stunners are the intersectional peonies, which are a cross between a tree peony and herbaceous peony. There was a dusky pink variety named Hillary that particularly blew my mind. Linda and I went a little crazy and ended up with a bouquet to end all bouquets, which of course led to a photo shoot. As you do…! I feel incredibly grateful to have met Linda this past year. We actually met at Aran’s workshop in NYC and hit it off right away. I tend to do so much of my adventuring alone. I’ll get up really early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday, and head out for a few hours to stretch my photography wings before returning home to spend the day with my family. I love these solo moments, but it has been so much fun sharing them with a friend who is just as passionate about creating gorgeous images. Of course it helps that she has a wicked sense of humor too! As I navigated my work/ life balance earlier this year, the one thing I found lacking was time spent with friends. I recently decided to rectify this and began to invite friends along for quick excursions, day trips and just hangs at home with my family. It has helped me to feel more grounded and joyful in this busy season of life. I’ll leave you with a close up of my very favorite bloom… Hillary!

Wicked Tulips

It’s been a busy spring, but one thing that took priority on my calendar was a trip to Wicked Tulips. I asked my favorite fellow photographer Forrest Elliott to join me, and we headed out at around 6pm to catch sunset on the farm. I had visited earlier in the week with my boys, but…

It’s been a busy spring, but one thing that took priority on my calendar was a trip to Wicked Tulips. I asked my favorite fellow photographer Forrest Elliott to join me, and we headed out at around 6pm to catch sunset on the farm. I had visited earlier in the week with my boys, but the sun was high in the sky and it wasn’t the right time for pictures. I am SO SO glad I went back at sunset. It was a truly magical experience. If you live in New England put this on your calendar for next spring because Wicked Tulips is absolutely worth a visit (and order your tickets early; they sell out, especially on the weekends). As for the pictures where I’m in them…those are from Forrest, and I love them (and that is saying a lot because I’m super awkward in front of the camera!). I always love adventures that inspire my love of photography and leave me wanting to take a thousand photos. I hope I captured just a bit of the beauty here to share with you…

Welcoming Spring

After two weeks of stuffing myself full of rich butter chicken, dahl makni, and ghee-slathered roti while in India, I’m ready for a little spring cleaning in the food department. Luckily, spring is bountiful in its offerings, including radish, asparagus, and a plethora of greens. While the temperatures in New England still hover near freezing…

After two weeks of stuffing myself full of rich butter chicken, dahl makni, and ghee-slathered roti while in India, I’m ready for a little spring cleaning in the food department. Luckily, spring is bountiful in its offerings, including radish, asparagus, and a plethora of greens. While the temperatures in New England still hover near freezing (though there was sun yesterday!), I still have the urge to roast my vegetables, and so here we have a transitional grain bowl which celebrates spring’s harvest while also providing a bit of comfort and warmth. Thanks to Backyard Farms, a company committed to producing beautiful, Maine grown, greenhouse tomatoes year round, this salad even gives us a taste of the summer to come. The real star of the show here is the dressing, an herb-forward tahini sauce that you’ll want to eat right out of the jar. Make extra because this will quickly become your go-to for dressing up even the simplest meal. Early Spring Roasted Vegetable Grain Bowl
Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:
8 Radish, halved
6 Carrots
1 bunch asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Assorted greens, washed and dried
1 cup quinoa
1 avocado
1 cup Backyard Farms cocktail tomatoes, halved

Tahini Dressing Ingredients:
⅓ cup tahini (I highly recommend Seed + Mill tahini!)
1 clove garlic
¼ cup basil
Juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter the halved radish, asparagus and carrots over the baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to brown.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, place one cup of quinoa in a medium saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
  4. With both the quinoa and vegetables cooking, take a minute to make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and processing until smooth.
  5. Now to assemble the salad: place a bed of assorted greens into each bowl, along with a scoop of quinoa and roasted vegetables. Top with sliced avocado and Backyard Farms cocktail tomatoes. Generously drizzle tahini sauce over the entire bowl. Dig in and enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Backyard Farms, a company whose practices and products I love.

Jaipur, and a Pop-up Shop!

The drive from Jodhpur to Jaipur was 6 hours plus a stop in Pushkar, and the whole time, visions of textiles floated in front of my eyes. Jaipur is a city that is absolutely booming these days. We’ve been going for 10 years and we’ve really noticed how much busier and more touristy it has…

The drive from Jodhpur to Jaipur was 6 hours plus a stop in Pushkar, and the whole time, visions of textiles floated in front of my eyes. Jaipur is a city that is absolutely booming these days. We’ve been going for 10 years and we’ve really noticed how much busier and more touristy it has become (there were giant tour buses at every turn- ugh). But my favorite supplier of blockprinted fabric and vintage kantha quilts is in Jaipur, so I will always return. I am hopelessly devoted to this decades-old, family-owned shop, whose business is run with such integrity. I am super picky about what I purchase while in India because so much is mass produced and cheaply made. To find a place that you trust is really special. I spent about 4 hours sourcing goods for the pop-up shop, and the boys were with me the whole time. The staff was so sweet, entertaining the boys by teaching them all about blockprinting, and letting them give it a whirl. From there, we had about a day and a half left in Jaipur. We managed to fit in a few outings, although I’ll be honest, our visit to the City Palace left a bad taste in our mouths and pretty much killed any desire we had to tour other spots. It was an absolute mob scene, with large tour buses unloading hundreds of people. The tour guides had microphones and flags to lead their huge groups. And you couldn’t walk three feet without getting whacked by a selfie stick. We snapped a few pictures (had to get my Christmas card locked up!) and then ran for the hills. Perhaps my favorite places in Jaipur are those that still have a somewhat undiscovered feel. The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing had that feeling. I left the boys at the hotel so that I could geek out over the history of block printing, and when I arrived, I was the only one at the museum. They had to flip on the lights for me! On the roof of the museum, a man sits and carves blocks. He’s been doing it for over 40 years, and his tools and knowledge were passed down by his father. Watching him work left me awestruck. The blocks that he carves are true works of art. One day, when my kids have flown the coop, I’ll study blockprinting in Rajasthan for six months, I swear it. I imagine my day starting at sun up (I’ll have magically become a morning person) with a cup of milky, sweet chai, and I’ll spend the day studying the art of carving, and learning about natural dyes and hand stitching the results in kantha-style quilts. My day will end with photography walks in the golden light. Yes, I have it all planned out. But back to reality…after the Museum, I decided to seek out this cafe and bar that I had been seeing all over design magazines and blogs. Located inside the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel and designed by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans, Bar Palladio takes its inspiration from Mughal design, and it is truly breathtaking. And just down the street is Caffé Palladio Jaipur, where I ended up having a late lunch, and the best iced chai and almond cake ever! In all our time in Jaipur was lovely, though I was more than happy to move on to our next destination, Varanasi. The famous quote from Mark Twain reads, “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” It was truly as if we arrived at the most mystical, spiritual place on earth…more on that next. In the meantime, I promised a peek at the pop-up shop goods that will be launching tomorrow morning, Friday, March 31 at 10am EST. There is only one of each item, so if something catches your eye, move quickly. There will be kantha quilts, yards of blockprinted fabric, wooden blocks, leather shoes, vintage door hangings, notebooks and more. Hope you’ll stop by tomorrow at 10am, when the link will go live! If you live internationally and are hoping to order, shoot me an email so we can figure out shipping (christine.chitnis@gmail.com). Also, orders over $100 will receive a free blockprinted zippered pouch (while supplies last!).

Bombay, Jodhpur and Pushkar

Two weeks in India, over 80 hours of travel on planes, cars, boats, and tuk tuks, 5 cities, and a few cases of Delhi belly, all with a 4 and 6 year old in tow, is an experience that can leave you at a loss for words. I had the best intentions to write down…

Two weeks in India, over 80 hours of travel on planes, cars, boats, and tuk tuks, 5 cities, and a few cases of Delhi belly, all with a 4 and 6 year old in tow, is an experience that can leave you at a loss for words. I had the best intentions to write down my thoughts as we traveled, but I found myself fully immersed in the experience instead. Now that we’re home, I’m excited to reflect back on our trip and share some of the details with you. Because we covered so much ground, I figured that I’d break it up into the first week of our trip, where we visited Bombay (and celebrated Holi!), Jodhpur and Pushkar, and the second week, Jaipur and Varanasi. Yep, all that in two weeks! Our time in Bombay was mainly spent seeing friends, celebrating Holi and recovering from jet lag. It was really tough with the kids. They would take a nap at around noon, simply because they couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer, and then sleep through until about 2am. I’ll admit to having a bit of a freak-out on the third day, wondering if we’d made a big mistake taking the kids on such a long journey across the word. Finally, on our fourth day, I had to get tough and make them stay awake the entire day. Luckily, it was the day we celebrated Holi, and they had spent the best afternoon soaking each other and everyone else with waterguns and colored powder! They were exhausted at just the right time. They went to bed at 7pm and slept through until the morning. From that morning on, we were good to go! And just in time for our second stop, Jodhpur, the blue city! When we first arrived in Jodhpur, I was confused and slightly panicked… where was all the blue? I kept asking my husband, “Ask the driver, where is the blue?” Come to find out, there is a new section of town and an old section of town. The sprawling new section contains very little blue, while the old, narrow, winding section of town is where you’ll find the famous blue. Cars can’t really maneuver in the old section, though motorcycles, tuk tuks, cows, bikes, dogs and people all share the space. To really see the blue buildings, you have to set off on foot and wander through the streets and alleys. On our first night of wandering, we happened upon RAAS Hotel, an oasis in the middle of the crowded chaos. I will never forget the crisp glass of white wine I enjoyed on their rooftop lounge, overlooking the Mehrangarh Fort with the sounds of horns and revving motorcycle engines in the distance. It was one of those perfect travel moments, and I can still taste that first chilled sip of wine. The next morning we set out to explore the Fort, as well as Jaswant Thada. Of the two, Jaswant Thada was my favorite. That might be due to the fact that my husband fell on the slippery marble floors at the fort. Why they were wet mopping the floors during peak tour hours, I have no idea (you can’t apply logic when traveling in India). His ankle swelled right up and continued to bother him for the rest of the trip. He never once complained, but I know it was really uncomfortable for him. I’ll pause for a moment here and tell you that while this all looks very dreamy, the reality was our kids were tired and they weren’t super into exploring forts and such. India is difficult with children, especially those that are used to open space and the freedom to run and play. I found myself saying no and careful every other breath because of fear of zooming cars, crowded streets and parking lots, and general chaos. We would usually take a 3-4 hour outing in the morning and spend the rest of the day at the hotel pool, where the kids could run, play and burn off energy. It looks like we covered a ton of ground, and we did, and our kids were absolute champs, but we really had to pace ourselves in order to make the experience enjoyable for them. And I think our strategy worked, because when we neared the end of our trip, my son said, “Mama, I’m not ready to leave India.” We originally planned to spend two more days in Jodhpur, but it is actually a small town that can easily be seen in a few days. So we decided to drive to Jaipur, stopping in Pushkar along the way. It was a six hour drive and the scenery was spectacular. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it!) the boys were sleeping on our laps for most of the ride, meaning I couldn’t jump out of the car and capture all the photographic moments. And there were so many. We passed dusty villages where the women were at work carrying water and crops on their heads, dressed in brightly colored saris. We passed bright yellow fields of mustard plant that stretched as far as the eye could see. One day I will make this drive at my leisure and stop a hundred times to capture these moments. We made it to Pushkar just in time to visit the Brahma Temple, the only one in India. Pushkar is a desert town that borders Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu site containing 52 ghats (stairways) where pilgrims bathe. After our puja (a prayer ritual) we had a vegetarian lunch – the entire town, because of its holiness, is vegetarian- and the freshly made, hot off the fire roti smothered in ghee, made for the most delicious meal. Another two hours and we arrived in Jaipur, which is where I’ll pick up later this week. I know many of you had questions about our itinerary, and how to travel India with kids. I am happy to answer any questions you have, so please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get right back to you. Also, I managed to sneak in some amazing shopping, so my pop-up shop will be launching this Friday, March 31 at 10am EST. Stay tuned for a sneak peek of some of the goods on my next post!