Squam

I returned from Squam on Sunday feeling completely exhausted, but riding a creative high.  The exhaustion thing was totally my fault- with two of my best Squam friends, Kellen and Felicia, staying in my cabin we never seemed to make it to bed before 1am.  At our age it pretty much felt like pulling a…

_MG_4809I returned from Squam on Sunday feeling completely exhausted, but riding a creative high.  The exhaustion thing was totally my fault- with two of my best Squam friends, Kellen and Felicia, staying in my cabin we never seemed to make it to bed before 1am.  At our age it pretty much felt like pulling a few all-nighters in a row.  But totally worth it.  I haven’t had time for that kind of connection in a long while.  Sitting by the fire, knitting and talking about everything from why we create, to how we raise our children (and teasing each other mercilessly)…it is a magical thing indeed when you can connect so deeply with other women.

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_MG_4592On Thursday I had the pleasure of taking Ann Wood’s class where we learned to hand-stitched a mushroom and seed pod (those are mine, above).  It was such a blast, and Ann is a generous and inspiring teacher.  She shared her vintage fabric collection with us- scraps of lace, indigo and hand-dyed fabrics, old wedding dresses and couture clothing- all for us to play with!  It was such a playful and creative way to spend a day.

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_MG_4662When we had down time, Felicia, Kellen and I hit the open road and explored the countryside.  We even staged a little barn photo shoot, which I’ll be sure to share this week.   We stopped to get coffee and take pictures of flowers.  When you are used to having kids in the car with you, little luxuries like this feel extra decadent.

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group

_MG_4799On Saturday night the Squam Art Fair was in full swing.  I had a booth selling a few new items from India, and right next to me was Roost, my publisher, selling a stack of Little Bites.  It was pretty thrilling to watch my friends purchase my book, and being able to sign their copy with a personal message.  What a fun way to soft launch Little Bites!

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_MG_5102And even though I know they’ll want to kill me for posting this picture…my girls, looking so happy.  I’m in a wee bit of denial that I won’t be seeing them for at least another year but I’ll rest easy knowing we can pick right back up where we left off…

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The Gift of Craft

Two years ago a young family bought the dilapidated home next to ours.  Previously, there had been a mother and daughter living there.  The house was completely run down and they had been hoarders, so the amount of stuff left behind was rather mind-boggling.  A Grey Gardens situation, if you will.  Lucky for us, the…

_MG_4044Two years ago a young family bought the dilapidated home next to ours.  Previously, there had been a mother and daughter living there.  The house was completely run down and they had been hoarders, so the amount of stuff left behind was rather mind-boggling.  A Grey Gardens situation, if you will.  Lucky for us, the family that moved in began the long process of restoring the home to its former glory.  They have a son Vik’s age, and the boys have become fast friends.  They are expecting another baby in July; a baby girl!  You know I have a serious weakness for baby girl knits, and so I set about making a gift (or four).  Three dresses, a sweater, and a pair of bloomers later (might I have gone a bit overboard?).  I packed it all up in a large box with layers of pearly paper in between.  My neighbor was pretty blown away (and probably thinks I have way too much time on my hands!).  These are some of my favorite baby knits to date…you can see pattern details on my Ravelry page.

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sweater and bloomers

_MG_4569I love knitting and sewing for others.  Nothing can match the joy of gifting something handmade.  Also this week I finished up a quilt for my nephew.  I made my niece a quilt last summer and have been working on his ever since.  I bit off more than I could chew with the pattern (triangles are not your friend if you are not a precise quilter- lesson learned).  It took me sooo long to finish.  But I love how it turned out.  Thank goodness for long-arm quilting- it hides a multitude of sins!  The quilt was packed up with love and sent on its way.

_MG_4546Of course my hands never stays still for long.  A new stack of fabrics were waiting for me and I made myself two gorgeous tops to show off at Squam (I leave today- cannot wait!).  I’ll have to get some pictures- they are my best to date!  And I have a pile of Hole and Sons yarn waiting in the wings for the perfect project.

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_MG_3951But first up on the needles is a project to welcome baby Eve.  My friend Sarah gave birth to a baby girl last week, and I had the honor of being in the hospital to capture the moment where her older daughter met her new baby sister.  It was such a beautiful, beautiful moment, and it brought back so many memories of my boy’s first meeting.  These two girls are so lucky to call Sarah “mama.”  Life is so full of blessings at the moment.  What better way to celebrate than a bit of handmade, homemade love.  I’ll be back next week with images and stories from my time at Squam…I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am!  If you are going to be in the area, I’ll be at the Squam Art Fair selling some goods from India, as well as autographing copies of Little Bites at the Roost table!  Yes- the books have arrived!  Yahoo!  I can’t wait for you all to hold a copy in your hands.  It’s a beauty.

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Gretel

I figured it was about time to try my hand at testing a pattern.  It feels like a Ravelry rite of passage.  So when I saw this adorable sweater, accompanied with a call for test knitters, I jumped at the chance to give it a whirl.  I found that I liked being given a deadline. …

_MG_2609I figured it was about time to try my hand at testing a pattern.  It feels like a Ravelry rite of passage.  So when I saw this adorable sweater, accompanied with a call for test knitters, I jumped at the chance to give it a whirl.  I found that I liked being given a deadline.  It kept me focused and excited to see this knit take shape.  The resulting sweater is the cutest darn thing I have ever knit.  The bobble pattern gives the sweater a vintage feel, like something your great grandma might have knit for your grandma.  You know, old school in the very best way.  Since I have no little girl of my own (boo hoo!), I continue to knit a rather embarrassing amount for my friend Sarah’s daughter.  Most people would probably ask me to back away slowly from my needles…but Sarah understands that all the cutest knits are for little girls and that I just can’t help myself!  Vijay wanted to know who this sweater was for, and when I told him Emily, he said, “Mom, I guess I would wear a sweater you made if it had something really, really cool on it.”  It was like he was humoring me.  Can you imagine?  Four years old and he’s already humoring his poor old mother.

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Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I kept putting off dying Easter eggs because I really wanted to photograph them surrounded by spring blossoms.  When it started snowing this weekend I realized that my blossom wishes would not be coming true anytime soon, and so we got down to it.  I love using natural dyes, but it does take time and…

_MG_2626I kept putting off dying Easter eggs because I really wanted to photograph them surrounded by spring blossoms.  When it started snowing this weekend I realized that my blossom wishes would not be coming true anytime soon, and so we got down to it.  I love using natural dyes, but it does take time and patience.  The kids weren’t so into the whole process, to be honest.  Mainly it involves boiling ingredients and allowing the eggs to sit in the dye overnight.  So if you are into instant gratification, like my kids, this might not be so exciting!  Our eggs turned out a bit more molted in color than in years past, but I still think they are beautiful in an earthy way.

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I used the following ingredients to achieve these colors:

Tumeric (yellow and orange)

Red Cabbage (blue)

Red Onion Skins (brown)

Beet (pink)

Grape Juice (dark blue)

Combine ingredient with water in a saucepan, submerge the eggs, and then bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Once the water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.  Strain the mixture, composting the solids, and straining the dye into small glasses.  Add one egg to each glass, place the glasses in the fridge and allow them to soak overnight. In the morning, remove the eggs from the dye and allow them to dry.  The key is to remove the eggs gentle from the dye and allow them to dry completely before you handle them.  The dye will rub off if you handle the eggs before their dry.

Play around with both brown and white eggs for varied results.  Also, try adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to some of the glasses and the colors will be richer.  I just play around and each year the results seem to be a bit different.  These eggs are completely safe to eat, and we never notice any odd flavors due to the dyes or vinegar!

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Our Tools, Ourselves Feature

I am so honored to be featured over on Fringe Association this week as part of Karen’s Our Tools, Ourselves series.  Her blog is one of my absolute favorite so it feels like quite the knitter-ly stamp of approval.  I’m sharing details about my knitting and sewing, including the tools that I use, how I…

c_chitnis_knit_01I am so honored to be featured over on Fringe Association this week as part of Karen’s Our Tools, Ourselves series.  Her blog is one of my absolute favorite so it feels like quite the knitter-ly stamp of approval.  I’m sharing details about my knitting and sewing, including the tools that I use, how I organize my crafting materials and my deepest, darkest knitting secret!

Storage shelves

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wiksten tank and project bag(all photos, except of my studio shelves, were taken by the exceptionally talented Forrest Elliott)

Kynance Cove

I taught our babysitter, Liz, how to knit this summer and she took off with it like a shot.  She’s already knitting cables.  Seriously she blows me away!  She completed four gorgeous, chunky, cable hats for her two brothers and two roommates for Christmas.  Now she’s itching to start a baby project- a tiny sweater…

_MG_1692I taught our babysitter, Liz, how to knit this summer and she took off with it like a shot.  She’s already knitting cables.  Seriously she blows me away!  She completed four gorgeous, chunky, cable hats for her two brothers and two roommates for Christmas.  Now she’s itching to start a baby project- a tiny sweater so that she can learn about knitted garment construction.  As we were scrolling through Ravelry she mentioned how overwhelming it is to choose a pattern.  I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, it is something I still struggle with every time I choose a new project.  But I am getting better, and I tried to share with her the top three tips I’ve learned when choosing a pattern.  This really applies to knitting for yourself, but I suppose you could apply it to projects for your kids, or gifted projects:

1. Will it fit my style?  This is huge.  I made a really cute, open cardigan last year and I have never worn it.  I don’t wear cardigans, especially those that don’t button or zip.  No matter how cute the color or gorgeous the yarn, I’m not going to wear it.  So I can cross cardigans off my list.  I dress like a tomboy, as I’m sure I’ve said before.  Jeans, tees, anything that is comfortable and easy to wear.  In terms of sweaters that means simple pullovers.

2. What do I really need?  Maybe this is the minimalist in me talking, but I don’t need 20 pullovers to get me through the winter.  At the most I need 2-3.  So before casting on another pullover, I’ll take a good look at my wardrobe and see if I really have a need for another (though I am eying this at the moment).  Same goes for hats, shawls, cowls, and fingerless gloves. Wait, then what should I knit? See some of the helpful comments and suggestions in this post.  Luckily, I have some pregnant friends, so I’ve got enough baby knitting to keep me happy for the moment being.  After that, I’m starting to think about socks.  I’ve never knit a sock and Lord knows I could use a few new pairs.  And little ole’ Vijay has come around and started asking for a sweater.  After his refusal to wear the last masterpiece I knit for him, I don’t know if I can trust him, but we’ll see 🙂  In all fairness, I’m beginning to think that he has a slight sensory issue as he insists on only wearing “soft” clothes.  He’s never even worn jeans, so sweaters might just be too  itchy for him.  Either that or he’s just a really stubborn little bugger.  But I digress…

3. Will it look good on my body type?  Take a look at your closet.  You probably have a good idea of what looks nice on your body type.  Do you like loose, flow-y clothes?  Do you like fitted, structured clothes?  Make sure the knit project that you have your eye on will look good on you (and don’t be fooled by the pretty gal modeling the sweater in the press shots!).

This sweater, Kynance Cove, perfectly illustrates a well-chosen pattern.  I finished it up last week and wore it all weekend.  I started this sweater back in October, though I purchased the yarn in Northern Michigan this past summer.  It feels as though I’ve been knitting it forever, and it didn’t help that once I was finished it felt like there were 2 million ends to be sewed in.  I would seriously clean your entire house top to bottom if while I was cleaning you’d be willing to sew in my ends for me- it’s my least favorite part of knitting.  Anyway, this sweater…  I love it.  It’s comfortable, has clean-lines, fits just the way I like and is easy to wear.  It still can’t compare to my Antler.  *Sigh* My knitting career peaked too early with that beauty!  But I’m still chasing that high.

A few of my favorite knitting blogs often talk about this very subject and they offer a wealth of knowledge way beyond my scattered thoughts, so I suggest you take a read: The Craft Sessions and Fringe Association.  Also I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and perhaps you’d like to share a few of your favorite patterns.

2014: A Look Back

Happy New Year!  I hope you welcomed 2015 in style.  I was in bed, wearing a ratty bathrobe and sound asleep by midnight but we did enjoy a big family dinner where we all got dressed up and ate some fabulous food.  All in all, it was perfect.  I hadn’t planned on looking back at…

_MG_6077Happy New Year!  I hope you welcomed 2015 in style.  I was in bed, wearing a ratty bathrobe and sound asleep by midnight but we did enjoy a big family dinner where we all got dressed up and ate some fabulous food.  All in all, it was perfect.  I hadn’t planned on looking back at the year that was…but I thought that such a year required a bit of reflection and as I scrolled back through my posts, month by month, it occurred to me that 2014 was quite a year.  Settle in…this is a length one!

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Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 1.59.02 PMJanuary: We kicked off the year by spending a month in India and Bhutan.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime and remains my most cherished memory of the year.  When I returned home, I launched my first pop-up shop, which was super fun.  That led to selling my wares at Squam and another pop-up shop later in the year.  I’d love to do more of these in 2015!

_MG_7396February: We renovated our cold, dark attic and turned it into a light-filled studio where I spend my working hours writing, photographing, sewing and knitting.  This place is my sanctuary.

_MG_8010March: I finished my first real sweater, Antler, with short rows and shaping and all those knitterly things that I have come to know and love through the course of this year.  This sweater remains my greatest knitting achievement and my most worn handmade piece.

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_MG_9210April: We spent the most heavenly ten days in Dominican Republic with my parents and younger brother.  It was the perfect break from the freezing spring that we were experiencing back in Rhode Island.  Luckily, we made it home in time to catch the blossoms.  The weeks where our beautiful town is in bloom are always some of my favorite of the year.

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PROMO-IMAGE-PITCH-PERFECT-THE-ART-WIDE-700-WEBMay: I made my yearly pilgrimage to Brimfield Antique Show.  I think I bought $2 worth of quilt scraps, but my favorite part is taking pictures of all the interesting things you find at the show.  It is always sensory overload, but I can’t help being pulled back year after year.  I also kept busy teaching Pitch Perfect, which was such an amazing experience.  I will be teaching the course again this year, online through Squam.  I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon!

_MG_0210June: Ahhh, June.  The weather is finally warm, and I take my yearly getaway to Squam.  I always look forward to my time here, and every year I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this amazing community of makers.

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_MG_2646July: My most favorite month of the year!  Every year we spend the entire month in Northern Michigan with my family (I even wrote a guide to the area here).  It is a true old-fashioned summer; swimming in the lake, playing on the beach, visiting the dunes, riding bikes into town for ice cream, spending time in nature, watching my boys running wild and free with the kids along our dirt lane, learning to water ski, eating our weight in cherries….the stuff of life.  Northern Michigan, specifically our family cottage on Torch Lake, is my happy place.  And how lucky is Vik that he gets to celebrate his birthday “Up North?”  It is my most favorite place in the whole world and we are so darn lucky to spend our summers there.

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_MG_3163August: It is all about the garden in August.  All the good stuff is ready to harvest, including cherry tomatoes, my favorite.  You can feel summer beginning to wane in August, and that is always bittersweet, but August holds such beauty that it is worth staying in the moment.

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_MG_5473September: What a busy month, full of new experiences.  Vijay started school, which was very tough emotionally for both of us but has turned out to be the best thing we could have ever hoped for.  I started contributing to Gardenista, which has been such a privilege and has given me the chance to explore some amazing gardens and shops.  My husband and I went on an overnight trip to Vermont, our first time as a couple ever away from the kids for a night.  And I made a quick trip to Squam, arriving just in time for the fair and a day of relaxing.  Yes, we were on the move in September! I also made reading a priority again, and you all chimed in with amazing suggestions.  I’ve been making my way through the list and have yet to be disappointed.  Expect plenty more book reviews in 2015.

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_MG_7267October: As we settled into our new school routine, which consists of preschool on Tuesday and Thursday morning, we also celebrated Vijay’s fourth birthday with all of his sweet classmates, and the local fire station.  It was a PARTY!

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_MG_8634November: What a gorgeous fall we were blessed with in Rhode Island.  It was sunny and sparkling almost every day, and the leaves were absolutely riotous.  I paid a visit to Tower Hill Botanic Garden for Gardenista and had the most amazing time wondering around their fall gardens.  I also finished my favorite sewn wardrobe addition…this quilted vest from The Purl Bee.

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_MG_0093December: Here I thought December was such a slow and peaceful month, but we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving (returning the 1st of December), then I took off for Martha’s Vineyard to finish up a few book details, and after decking out our own small tree, we packed up and headed to Michigan for Christmas and the New Year.

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sewnAll in all, it was an amazing year.  In addition to all of our travels and all the excitement, it was the year that I felt my work life finally dropped into place.  I was hard at work on my second book, which is so near and dear to my heart, I contributed regularly to Edible Rhody and Gardenista, I taught Pitch Perfect, and launched a few pop-up shops.  2015 is going to be filled with even greater accomplishments…I can feel it and it makes me so very excited.  2014 was also the year of making…between sewing and knitting I pretty much have made a complete wardrobe, and with each piece I gain a better understanding of my fit and personal style.  Above are just a few of my favorite makes of 2014.

I try to keep this a place of positivity and beauty, so it is interesting to scroll through these posts and see so many of the harder emotional things missing.  But it is also a beautiful reminder of how much we have to be thankful for and how unbelievably blessed we are as a family.  If 2015 is half as gorgeous, we’re in for a great year!  And after that look back, I’m excited to move forward.

Cables and Changing Seasons

It snowed last week, the first snow of the year.  Vijay and Vik went outside just long enough to throw a few snowballs at each other, and then they came back inside and pretty much refused to leave the house for the rest of the weekend.  They wanted to wear their fleece pajamas and take…

_MG_8549It snowed last week, the first snow of the year.  Vijay and Vik went outside just long enough to throw a few snowballs at each other, and then they came back inside and pretty much refused to leave the house for the rest of the weekend.  They wanted to wear their fleece pajamas and take warm baths, and build forts and pirate ships out of all the couch cushions and blankets in the house.  They are SO not cold weather kids.  It is laughable, really.  And perhaps the transition into winter will be extra difficult this year since we had such a lovely fall, full of sunshine and gradually changing leaves.  It fooled us all into thinking that winter might not be that bad….but apparently, it is supposedly there is a polar vortex coming our way.

_MG_8558On a sunny day last week (maybe one of our last?), I headed out into the falling leaves with my friend Sarah, and her daughter Emily.  We wanted to take some pictures of Emily in the sweater that I had knit her paired with the tunic that Sarah made.  The sweater goes by the name of Miss Korrigan, and it is the loveliest little layering piece imaginable.  Sweet cables, seed stitch trim, and luscious purple yarn combine for the perfect fall sweater.  Every single time I knit a little girl’s sweater for Emily, I start thinking about having a little girl of my own.  And then I snap back to reality and realize that I am perfectly happy knitting for little Em…at least for the moment!

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Cozy Quilted Vest

This post has been a long time coming.  I believe I started working on this vest three or four months ago, and I had planned to finish it sometime in early September so that I could wear it throughout the fall.  But it’s worth the wait.  Cozy, stylish, a great layering piece; this vest has…

vest1This post has been a long time coming.  I believe I started working on this vest three or four months ago, and I had planned to finish it sometime in early September so that I could wear it throughout the fall.  But it’s worth the wait.  Cozy, stylish, a great layering piece; this vest has got it all going on.  When I first saw the pattern over on The Purl Bee, I knew I needed to make one for myself in the exact fabric that they used.  Because the more I sew, the more I hone in on pieces that I would actually wear, and let me tell you, I haven’t taken this off since I hand-stitched the last inch of binding.

_MG_8634I happened to see Elizabeth while wearing my vest- well let me pause here, I didn’t just happen to see her, I was over at her house using her shower because we were without plumbing all last week.  Though not to worry, a trillion dollars later and a completely torn-up front yard and it’s all good.  Hooray for 110 year old homes and pipes!  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, Elizabeth saw my vest and flipped.  I think I’ll have to make her one for Christmas.  She actually thought I had sneaked off to NYC for some shopping (in my spare time) and picked up this vest at some chic boutique.  See why I love her!?  While I’m not sure I’d go that far (she didn’t look closely!) this vest is pretty darn fabulous.

vestThe last thing I’ll say before I wrap up this love story is this- don’t be fooled.  Oh…a simple quilted vest!  How easy.  Nope- this one was a lot of work.  It wasn’t hard, per se, just labor intensive.  The arm holes as well as the entire outline of the vest is hand-stitched binding.  Let’s just say I’m all caught up on Homeland!

_MG_8647Previous to this project, I was at a crafting stand-still.  I just haven’t had the time.  I’m vowing to change that.  I’m trying to get better about putting my computer away once the kids are in bed, and using that time to indulge in things that feed me, instead of just working late into the night.  This week I took a Bikram yoga class.  I’ve been reading (making my way through your recommendations) and I’ve picked up my knitting needles again (that beautiful yarn above is halfway to a sweater right now!).  I know…party on, right!?

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Squam and Coming Home

Life 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…

_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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