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.

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take a moment and express my sincere gratitude: thank you for reading all year long and for being a part of the conversation.  This space means so much to me…more than I can put into words.  I wish you the merriest Christmas and happiest New Year.

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_MG_0271I wanted to take a moment and express my sincere gratitude: thank you for reading all year long and for being a part of the conversation.  This space means so much to me…more than I can put into words.  I wish you the merriest Christmas and happiest New Year.

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Vijay’s Birthday Bash

There is nothing cuter than a four year old boy…and nothing more exhausting!  In case you didn’t know, four year olds are the smartest people in the world, and can do everything themselves!  Although he tests our patience daily, Vijay is still the light of our lives, and it was our greatest pleasure to throw…

_MG_7267There is nothing cuter than a four year old boy…and nothing more exhausting!  In case you didn’t know, four year olds are the smartest people in the world, and can do everything themselves!  Although he tests our patience daily, Vijay is still the light of our lives, and it was our greatest pleasure to throw him a big bash over the weekend to celebrate his fourth birthday.  After a week of dreariness and rain, the clouds parted, the sun shown down, and we were gifted the most beautiful day.  The pictures don’t do it justice- the sunlight was gorgeous and dappled, and I only managed a few snaps during the party, but I simply had to share.  My baby’s four…and that is something!

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IMG_3449What started out as a small party- you know, let’s just invite preschool friends and neighbors- blossomed to quite a crowd.  Luckily we had a firetruck, a cappella group, balloon artist, pinata and face painter, not to mention a full catered Indian lunch, 100 mini cupcakes, and the coolest cake ever (yup, I made that sucker!) to keep everyone entertained.  It was a great day, and it was the first year that Vijay understood that a birthday party equals presents and sweets, so he was totally pumped.

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_MG_7278The funniest moment of the party had to have been rounding the corner to find my dad fully decked out in the fireman’s gear.  He was so excited.  “Take my picture.  This one’s going in the office.”  I guess you never grow out of the fireman fantasy!  As we were snapping pictures, their unit got a call.  The firemen quickly rustled my dad out of their uniform, jumped onto the truck, flicked on the sirens and peeled out of the party.  The kids went nuts.  We couldn’t have planned it any better!

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Fall Reading Giveaway and Medieval Festivities

I was so inspired by your reading suggestions, that I did something I never do.  I went into the bookstore and walked out with four brand new books.  I always get my reading material from the library, but lately, I am having trouble with the whole system.  It is a wonderful thing that we are…

2014-10-12_0001I was so inspired by your reading suggestions, that I did something I never do.  I went into the bookstore and walked out with four brand new books.  I always get my reading material from the library, but lately, I am having trouble with the whole system.  It is a wonderful thing that we are able to reserve titles, but as luck would have it, I usually reserve three or four titles and they come in at different times, meaning multiple trips to the library, and then I am always late returning them and the pressure to finish them in two weeks is just too much.  I know- big problems, right!  So I decided to treat myself and luxuriate in four brand new books that came with no due dates or deadlines.  And then I read all four in two weeks.  Ha.  And let me say this- you guys sure know your stuff.  I LOVED each of these books.  They were all heartbreaking, and beautiful and written so very well written.  As far as a favorite, I am torn between We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Burial Rights.  Both titles were such good reminders of the importance of love, community and open lines of communication- without those, we are so lost.  And now, as a way of saying thank you, I want to pass along these books (as long as you don’t mind my tear streaks on the pages!) and keep the reading cycle flowing .  Just leave a comment here, and make sure I have a way to get in touch with you!  I’m going to give away two bundles of two books each:

Bundle #1: Beautiful Ruins and We Were Liars

Bundle #2: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Burial Rights

**Giveaway is now closed**

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_MG_6357And now in other news, we joined in our first Medieval Festival this weekend, and it was so much fun.  We reused our Halloween costumes as dragon costumes, and the boys got their first pair of swords and shield (this must be some kind of boyhood rite of passage, right?).  I love the picture of Vik getting ready to ride the dragon zip-line.  He’s scared, but there is no way he is letting his brother do it without him!  That kid has such courage- it must be a younger brother thing!  Life is so busy right now with these two hooligans….but so much fun, so much adventure, so much laughter.

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First Day of School

Oh 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…

_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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Vik Turns 2!

Here’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…

_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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Grass River Nature Preserve

On good boating days there is nothing we love more than piling in the ski boat and making the short, 15 minute ride to Grass River.  We kill the wake and drift slowly down the river, keeping our eyes peeled for all the creatures that call this magical place home.  On our first trip to…

_MG_1759On good boating days there is nothing we love more than piling in the ski boat and making the short, 15 minute ride to Grass River.  We kill the wake and drift slowly down the river, keeping our eyes peeled for all the creatures that call this magical place home.  On our first trip to the nature preserve we saw two loons no more than 15 feet from the boat, a pair of swans with a trail of fluffy little babes, and a turtle sunning himself on a log.  My dad bought the boys little fishing nets and they troll off the bow of the boat for minnows, surprising us all by catching a few every now and then.  Blind luck, I suppose!

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_MG_1766Spending our summers in Northern Michigan is one of the biggest gifts I am able to give my children.  It is that quintessential summer of running wild and free, catching frogs and minnows, biking up and down the dirt road with a whole pack of kids, coming home only for a quick bite to eat then back out to play and explore.  My kids get “unsupervised” play here, and by that I mean I don’t have to watch their every move.  On the rare occasion a car comes down, it is traveling no more than 5 miles an hour, and from the kitchen, I can look out and see them at play.  Every now and then I have to intervene and wipe away a tear, or mediate a dispute over scooters, but other than that, the kids get to PLAY and learn to work things out with both older and younger playmates.  I think it is the best thing ever.

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_MG_1763On rainy days, we can still head to Grass River and spend time in the nature center visiting the rescue snake, and playing around with the pelts and bones they have collected over time.  It is a very cool place, and if you’re in the area with young kids who are nature lovers, it is an absolute must.  As we’re here enjoying all of this I can’t help but wonder if I would be as enamored with the area if we lived here year round.  I wonder what the winters would be like, and if eventually, it would feel just like any other place.  Would it lose its summertime magic?  I’d love to hear from any Northern Michigan readers- what is year-round life like here?  I’m really feeling a pull.

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Keeping Busy

Spring has been busy, to say the least.  Busy in the way spring should be: planting our garden, visiting the nursery, tidying our yard, stopping by the first outdoor market of the season, and mainly just digging in the dirt. As we scurry around tidying our yard after the long winter, the idea of permanence…

_MG_9730Spring has been busy, to say the least.  Busy in the way spring should be: planting our garden, visiting the nursery, tidying our yard, stopping by the first outdoor market of the season, and mainly just digging in the dirt.

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_MG_9864As we scurry around tidying our yard after the long winter, the idea of permanence circles my thoughts.  We are struggling with our love for Providence at the moment, having recently had neighbors robbed in an extremely violating way.  Our weekly neighborhood crime reports read like something out of a Law and Order episode and it is deeply troubling.  Providence also has a very weak public school system, and as we look to the future, we wonder if this is the best place for our family.  To be honest, I miss home.  I spent my twenties running away from Michigan, determined that my home state wouldn’t get its claws in me.  Back in Michigan recently I saw my kids playing with their cousins and snuggling with their grandparents, and upon returning, I began to wonder what the heck we are doing so far away.  Luckily my brother is here visiting for some time, bringing with him a piece of home.  The boys, of course, adore him, waking him up early to play, play, play.  Relaxing summer vacation this is not.

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_MG_9800In the midst of all of this, there has been Pitch Perfect, a project that has proven to be deeply fulfilling.  The class is full of passionate, talented writers, and I’m proud to share that two of my students have already landed articles at prestigious magazines.  And we still have a week left to go!

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_MG_9882Teaching this course has reminded me that we all have valuable stories to share, and when we are given the proper tools to do so, the sky’s the limit.  Here’s hoping you had a blessed long weekend.  I hope to be back a bit more frequently now that class is wrapping up.

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Vijay’s Third Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated Vijay’s third birthday with a bash for around 100 of our friends and family.  We just can’t help ourselves…we love a good party.  Vijay’s birthday falls at the perfect time of year to throw a big outdoor party that not only celebrated his birthday, but allows us to see all…

_MG_1829This past weekend we celebrated Vijay’s third birthday with a bash for around 100 of our friends and family.  We just can’t help ourselves…we love a good party.  Vijay’s birthday falls at the perfect time of year to throw a big outdoor party that not only celebrated his birthday, but allows us to see all of our friends and family that we missed over the busy summer months.  It was a great mix of people- neighbors, Vijay and Vik’s little friends, college kids, our colleagues, friends with older kids….pretty much everyone we know and love!

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_MG_1818Of course no party is complete without a few party tricks- mainly face painting, balloon animals, entertainment by the Brown’s Tones (Brown’s fierce all- female a capella group), a pinata, Indian food and over 150 mini cupcakes.

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_MG_1813Every year we count our blessings.  To have so many wonderful people help us celebrate our little guy is an amazing thing.  And to our sweet boy…happy birthday to the light of our lives.  We love you bunny.

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My boys

My boys…brothers. I haven’t really talked about what that means to me, to be raising two boys, so close in age that occasionally they are mistaken for twins.  Vik is long and lean, quickly catching up to Vijay in height and weight.  He’s already in 24 month clothing, which means the infamous firetruck sweater (which…

2013-10-14_0001My boys…brothers. I haven’t really talked about what that means to me, to be raising two boys, so close in age that occasionally they are mistaken for twins.  Vik is long and lean, quickly catching up to Vijay in height and weight.  He’s already in 24 month clothing, which means the infamous firetruck sweater (which Vijay wore precisely one time, after I sweated and cursed over it for months!) fits him perfectly.  He’s too little to protest, and so he is wearing it as often as possible!

It is absolutely amazing to watch their personalities take shape, and to watch the sibling bond begin to take root.  Vijay adores his little brother, often crying when Vik has to go down for his nap, or to bed early.  “Where’s my baby?” he asks.  Of course when Baby is around, they fight over toys, and bop each other on the head with balls and blocks.  They take soapy baths together, propelling their trucks through the bubbles and froth.  They roll their soccer ball back and forth at the park, Vik clapping his hands each time it rolls his way.  “Don’t touch my things,” is a common phrase as Vijay learns that playing with Vik means sharing with Vik.  He’s always trying to give him the lamest toys, and hog all the great ones for himself.  After a while, he realizes that it’s no fun, and releases a few of his toys for Vik to play with.  Occasionally they hold hands across the aisle from their carseats, or when we’re walking in the double stroller.  “Baby’s holding my hand, mama,” Vijay beams.  After a minute, Vik yanks his hand away and returns to sucking on his fingers.  It is these moments that my heart nearly breaks in two.

I often wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future…will they always be close?  Will they be the kind of brothers that give heartwarming toasts at each others weddings?  Will they support and nurture each other as they find their own talents and strengths, or will everything be a competition?

It is hard enough trying to raise kind, generous, loving children, but considering how to raise siblings to be loving, supportive brothers is a challenge.  My husband often jokes that he wants three sons largely because of Legends of the Fall.  I agree, minus the sibling rivalry, jealousy, revenge, drama and rage.  Basically we just want our boys to ride wild through the mountains, hunting grizzly bears and bathing in clear streams.  Is that too much to ask?!

Oh my boys…brothers…my dreams for you are so great.