2016: A Year in Review

2016 was quite a year, chock full of extremes, and bringing with it intense joys and sorrows. Although it is tempting to rush into 2017 without a moment’s pause, I thought it might be cathartic to look back on the year that was. Mostly, I want to say thank you for being here this year….

2016 was quite a year, chock full of extremes, and bringing with it intense joys and sorrows. Although it is tempting to rush into 2017 without a moment’s pause, I thought it might be cathartic to look back on the year that was. Mostly, I want to say thank you for being here this year. Your comments, emails and support have meant the world to me and I greatly appreciate this community. Travel: It was a year of incredible travel, starting with a family trip to Jamaica in February. Shortly after, over Easter weekend, I took a solo trip to NYC while my family all met up elsewhere (I couldn’t get enough time off of work to join them). It was an interesting year, trying to balance a working schedule with so many travel opportunities. There were trips that I missed out on, and others that we squeezed into a long weekend. Somehow we always find a way to make it work, and with big travel plans on the horizon for 2017, that’s a trend I see continuing! In May we attending the most incredible Indian wedding in Vienna. The entire experience still feels like something out of a fairytale. I’m pretty confident that this will go down as the most extravagant wedding we will ever attend in our lifetime. The summer found me traveling the coasts for my Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet book tour, which was such an incredible experience. My favorite destinations included San Francisco and Seattle. While in Seattle, I also had a chance to visit Floret Flower Farm, which was definitely a highlight of my year. The beauty and abundance of this small farm is nearly indescribable. I returned home with just enough time to pack up and jump back on a plane to Michigan where I spent the month of July with my family at our cottage in Northern Michigan. July is always my favorite month of the year, and Torch Lake is where my heart is most at home.  In September we met up with my parents in NYC for a quick trip, where we watched the US Open and toured the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Once the school year started, our schedule kicked into high gear. But I did manage to sneak in a few more trips, one to NYC for a food photography workshopand another to the British Virgin Islands where I was shooting the first annual Caribbean Food Festival on Peter IslandIn November, we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving (I never even got around to posting that trip!).  And I wrapped up the year with the most relaxing and restorative girl’s weekend on Cape Cod, right before heading home to Michigan for the Christmas break.  Looking back there was so much adventure, coupled with incredible opportunities. It was a year where I felt accomplished in my professional life, releasing my third book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet, which received such positive feedback and press, and landing a sponsored book tour with Vitamix and HawaiianShavedIce.com. I continued to write for a wide variety of publications, and also balanced my writing career with a part-time job at my boy’s school. There was plenty of knitting and sewing to be done, although not all of it made it onto the blog.  Despite all of the joy, for our family 2016 will go down as a year of heartbreak. My beloved mother dealt with crushing depression, a side-effect of her worsening Parkinson’s Disease. We tried our best to rally around her during her darkest moments, but we all felt incredibly helpless and watching her suffer was so painful. I’ll be writing a bit more about that journey in the weeks to come. But if there is one positive (and trust me, it is a stretch to find a positive) it is that the journey through her mental illness gifted me with such clarity. It brought into focus that which is important in this life, and that which is not worthy of my time. By the end of the year, I found myself saying no to additional work and instead using every spare minute to spend time with my family. My boys are growing up so fast and they are my ultimate joy in this life. As I look ahead to 2017 I am prioritizing time spent with my family, health, and happiness. I wish you so much peace and love in the coming year. Let’s hope it is a great one!

Choosing happiness

How is it possible that an entire month has passed us by already? Really, December 2? That pretty much blows my mind. This fall has been a whirlwind in the best way possible and it feels that we are all wholeheartedly embracing this new season of life. I greatly enjoy my job and especially after…

cchitnis-bviHow is it possible that an entire month has passed us by already? Really, December 2? That pretty much blows my mind. This fall has been a whirlwind in the best way possible and it feels that we are all wholeheartedly embracing this new season of life. I greatly enjoy my job and especially after the election, I feel like the work I am doing at our school is all the more important. In fact, I can’t think of anything more important than working at a school that is shaping young minds to be empathetic, inclusive and non-biased learners. The boys absolutely love their school- they run down the walkway every single day, eager to get to their classrooms, give their teachers a hug and greet their friends. Every morning I wonder how we got so lucky. We are a mixed race family, my husband is an immigrant, and yet everyday my children go to school they feel safe and known. How incredible.

In between my work at the school, I am still taking on writing and photography jobs. I haven’t quite figured out the whole work/life balance thing, but I am happy (albeit exhausted) and I keep repeating to myself “this is just a season of life, remember to be grateful.” A few things have fallen by the wayside including working out, seeing friends, and unplanned time in my studio to create, knit and sew. The most I manage right now is a few rows of knitting before I fall into bed each night. Good enough for now.

Here is what this year has taught me. Happiness does not equal perfection. It is messy and sometimes exhausting but mostly, it is a choice. Events may happen that leave us feeling scared, vulnerable, worn out, and hopeless. And yet happiness is still there for the taking. For me, my purest moments of happiness occur around 6:30am when my two boys wake up and find their way into my bed where they wrap their sleepy limbs around me and cuddle until our alarm clock rings. I kiss their sweet brown cheeks, and run my hands over their little shaved heads, and marvel that I’ve been given the honor of mothering them.

As we enter into this holiday season I wish you happiness. I can’t think of a better gift.

*the above picture was taken during a recent work trip to the British Virgin Islands.

Free Fall

I’ll spare you the boring details and instead give you a brief synopsis of the past month: BURIED ALIVE. The boys are now in school full time and I am working at their school, and getting us all out the door each morning, dressed and fed, three lunches and snacks packed…well, it is nothing short…

the-farmers-daughter_2565 I’ll spare you the boring details and instead give you a brief synopsis of the past month: BURIED ALIVE. The boys are now in school full time and I am working at their school, and getting us all out the door each morning, dressed and fed, three lunches and snacks packed…well, it is nothing short of a miracle. Every single day we pull out of the driveway I am so damn proud of myself. I know that people all around the world do this every single day, but geez it’s hard. If anything, it makes me incredibly grateful for the rather carefree years we’ve had leading up to this. the-farmers-daughter_2550 the-farmers-daughter_2552the-farmers-daughter_2556the-farmers-daughter_2538 We are finally getting into a good groove, but it is all consuming and quite tiring, I’ll admit. As you know, my husband travels quite a bit, so after a full day of work, it is back home with the boys to make dinner, give baths and go through the bedtime routine. By the time they are asleep, I usually have enough energy to put away a load of laundry and finish up the dishes before I collapse into bed. Needless to say, there isn’t much creativity happening. At first, I was pretty upset about it, but after carefully sitting with this new routine, and watching the boys absolutely flourish at their new school, I’ve come to accept that this is simply a season of life. Seasons come and go, each bringing with it unique and joyful gifts. I am doing my best to stay present and thankful. We do have some fun travel coming up, both work and personal, so I look forward to sharing more as the fall rolls along. I may not be in this space as often as I’d like, but as always, I appreciate you sticking around. the-farmers-daughter_2567 the-farmers-daughter_2560 the-farmers-daughter_2587 Until next time, I’d love to share with you a few podcasts, shows and books that are adding joy to my days:

Podcasts I’m loving:

  • Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom
  • In the Dark
  • Accused
  • Death, Sex & Money
  • Modern Love
  • This American Life
  • The Longest Shortest
TV show I am obsessed with: This is Us

Books I’m reading: The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer and Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Patterns I’m knitting: Fidra hat, Perianth Mittens and Bearly Bonnet

*all of these pictures were taken at The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown, one of my favorite destinations in the state. the-farmers-daughter_2537

New York State of Mind

Thank you so much for all of your kindness regarding my last post. Vulnerability and honesty are tough- but I am so grateful for all of your supportive comments and emails. Seriously, I feel so blessed to have this community in my life. I’ve responded to all of your comments individually- every single one of…

New York cchitnis_0456 Thank you so much for all of your kindness regarding my last post. Vulnerability and honesty are tough- but I am so grateful for all of your supportive comments and emails. Seriously, I feel so blessed to have this community in my life. I’ve responded to all of your comments individually- every single one of them was so kind. I’m just so grateful. Mental illness is hard to talk about, but it is so important to have these conversations. So thank you again for your kindness and sensitivity. New York cchitnis_0413New York cchitnis_0406 New York cchitnis_0495 New York cchitnis_0514New York cchitnis_0545New York cchitnis_0451 We met up with my parents in NYC this past weekend. For Christmas we had gifted my dad tickets to the US Open, something that was on his bucket list. My dad is a ridiculously good athlete. He walked on to the Michigan State tennis team and eventually played #1 doubles for the team and received an athletic scholarship. Big Ten tennis- I mean, that is a huge deal. He’s amazing and we were so excited to take him on this adventure. When my mom’s illness hit, we were unsure if this trip would happen, but I am thrilled to report that because of medical intervention, my mom is doing so much better. She has a spark in her eye once again (that was perhaps the scariest thing to see- the light in her eyes go out). She was raring to go, itching to get out and explore. And I can’t tell you how happy that made me (though I complained bitterly when she “dragged” me out to Brooklyn to see the Botanic Gardens, whose blooms I was so sure would be totally past their prime…insert foot in mouth!). New York cchitnis_0608 New York cchitnis_0574 New York cchitnis_0798 New York cchitnis_0841 New York cchitnis_0836 New York cchitnis_0643 New York cchitnis_0778 New York cchitnis_0745 New York cchitnis_0883 New York cchitnis_0866 In fact, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was exploding with its final bloom, and everywhere we went- from the rose garden to the water lilies- there was so much beauty. I would absolutely love to return when the rose garden is at its peak. After wandering for hours, we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene. It was a total blast, and there were so many tempting offerings, including this stack of indigo mudcloth! But we walked away empty-handed (not counting the donuts and pizza that we scarfed- seriously go for the food stalls….soooo good!).New York cchitnis_0934 New York cchitnis_0918 New York cchitnis_0937 New York cchitnis_0923New York cchitnis_0921 New York cchitnis_0925 New York cchitnis_0922 New York cchitnis_0944 In all, a wonderful weekend spent with my family, enjoying big city life. I’ll be the first to admit that we are decidedly “college town” kinda people, though. New York City left my boys spinning! The night we arrived home, we read “The Tale of the City Mouse and Country Mouse,” and both boys were decidedly in the country mouse camp! Now this week, back to school and the craziness that brings. Good luck to all you parents and students out there. Let’s try to shake off the rust and get this school routine up and running! New York cchitnis_0950

Highs and Lows of High Summer

Here we are nearing the end of August and nearly a month has past since I last wrote. It’s not for lack of wanting, but this past month has been difficult. It’s funny…I keep running into acquaintances who follow me on Instagram and they’ll say, “You’ve had the most gorgeous summer ever!” And yes, it…

cchitnissummer_9063 Here we are nearing the end of August and nearly a month has past since I last wrote. It’s not for lack of wanting, but this past month has been difficult. It’s funny…I keep running into acquaintances who follow me on Instagram and they’ll say, “You’ve had the most gorgeous summer ever!” And yes, it has been gorgeous in so many ways. But social media is terribly one-sided I’m afraid. In fact this summer, Instagram has really been an escape for me- a way to showcase the beautiful moments of each day and escape the underlying realities. cchitnissummer_9104 cchitnissummer_9074 cchitnissummer_9125 Since January, my mom’s health has been declining. The link between Parkinson’s and depression is well established given the fact that Parkinson’s affects many parts of the brain that are crucial to controlling mood. My mom has been suffering greatly for the past eight months, and without getting into the specifics, I can tell you that it has been an emotional roller coaster for the entire family. There were many points at which we thought we might lose her. For those of you that have been reading here for a while, you’ll know that I count my mom as one of my very best friends. And so not only is this entering into the very heavy territory of ‘caring for your parents as they age’ it is also veering into the ‘losing your best friend’ territory. A double whammy of emotions, if you will. cchitnissummer_9106 cchitnissummer_9045 cchitnissummer_9089 cchitnissummer_9124 So in between a book tour, a month in Northern Michigan, and an August filled with wonderful work opportunities, I’ve been back and forth to the Detroit area trying my best to be there for her. Mental illness is a bitch, to put it bluntly. There is no outward sign of disease, and yet the suffering is so real and so terrible. There are moments when I lose my patience and think, “Just pull yourself together.” More moments than I’d like to admit. I want to see her fight to reclaim her happiness, and yet I know it’s not that simple. Throughout the past year, with all of its heartache, I have realized how incredibly thankful I am for the support of my husband, who has been loving and caring for my mother as if she was his own. And then there are my boys, who love my mom with such a pure, selfless love. Their presence brings her great joy during this dark time.cchitnissummer_9008 cchitnissummer_9015 cchitnissummer_9022 cchitnissummer_8962cchitnissummer_9016 cchitnissummer_9019 cchitnissummer_8971And so here we are, all finally back in Providence, settling in for the school year ahead and hoping that we’ve made it out of the woods for now. It will be a year of great change for us. Both boys will be in school full-time this year, and I will continue working at their school part time. It is going to be busy, to say the least, but the boys are ready. It’s quite amazing to see how they’ve matured and grown this summer. They are busy these days running around with their friends, eager to spread their wings. It all reminds me of how precious time is, and how unbelievably fast it all goes by (I mean, remember when I had two little BABIES??!!).cchitnissummer_8985 *The photos here are from my quick trip to NYC- Saipua and Frances Palmer’s gorgeous home studio and gardens. So much beauty.

Cottage Living

This past month has been one of healing and rest, family-time, quiet moments and great adventures. There is no place in the world like Northern Michigan. We are so blessed to spend the month of July with my parents at our cottage. My husband comes for the first week, heads off to India for work,…

Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis18 This past month has been one of healing and rest, family-time, quiet moments and great adventures. There is no place in the world like Northern Michigan. We are so blessed to spend the month of July with my parents at our cottage. My husband comes for the first week, heads off to India for work, and then returns for the last week. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I’d love to share with you some of the beautiful moments that unfolded over the past month. Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis14Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis8 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis10 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis17 Our cottage sits on the shore of Torch Lake, on an unpaved road near the teeny town of Alden. We’ve been lucky enough to call this ours for the past 25 years, and most of the families on our lane have had their cottages for generations. A few of our neighbors are now on their fourth generation of ownership. It is extraordinary to watch our children now play together as we once did- picking wild black raspberries, running down the lane from house to house, whooping wildly while playing king-of-the-raft, sunset games of badminton and late night s’more roasting. Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis7 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis15 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis4 In all honesty, I hardly took any pictures this year. I was too busy sailing, paddle boarding, reading, boating, hiking and enjoying the time with my kiddos. I wish I had captured the joy on Vijay’s face the first time he popped up on water skis. And I wish I had a picture of Vik, sound asleep on a windy sail across the lake, the waves soothing him to sleep. I especially wished I had captured the many moments my boys shared with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends. These precious moments will have to live in my memory.Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis27 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis12 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis22 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis23 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis24 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis25 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis26 I did take quite a few pictures on the roadtrip my mom and I took one day through Old Mission Peninsula. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for exploring all the little farmstands and antique shops that dot the peninsula. We stumbled upon a lavender farm, a u-pick flower farm, countless gorgeous barns, adorable farmstands, a stunning field of sunflowers, and off-the-beaten path antique shops. I came home with a stunning bouquet of snapdragon and a few new graniteware items to add to my prop collection. And the prices (especially compared to Brimfield)- SUCH a steal!!thrifted finds Northern Michigan, thrifting Northern Michigan, u-pick We ended our day in Traverse City, grabbing a late coffee at the new and incredibly hip BLK \ MRKT and savoring one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Alliance. We also popped into Wood + Cloth and Darling Botanical, all housed under one roof in the Warehouse District of Traverse City. I also made a stop into my all-time favorite antique shop, Wilson Antiques. Wood + Cloth Darling Botanical Darling Botanical1 Darling Botanical3 Darling Botanical2 MRKTAlliance, Traverse CityIn all, a gorgeous roadtrip and the icing on the cake of a gorgeous month. Well, to be honest, the real icing was celebrating Vik’s FOURTH birthday (my baby is four, what happened??!!). It’s really the highlight of the summer- a celebration with friends and plenty of old-fashioned games (pin the tail on the donkey, drop the cloths pin in the bottle, sack races, face painting and hot potato). Vik's 4 birthdayVik's 4 birthday1Vik's 4 birthday2 I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the sun setting over a vast field of sunflowers, and our nightly sunset show…because, you know, Michigan likes to show-off every now and then! Sunflower fields, C Chitnis1 Sunflower fields, C Chitnis Sunflower fields, C Chitnis2 Northern Michigan, C. Chitnis9

Merry Christmas

We made it back to Michigan and spent the past few days relaxing with my family.  We’re so lucky to have the next few weeks to spend together.  It is the greatest gift of the season- time to unwind, unplug and reconnect with family and friends.  Of course the sugar cookies, Christmas movies, and bottomless…

Tower HillWe made it back to Michigan and spent the past few days relaxing with my family.  We’re so lucky to have the next few weeks to spend together.  It is the greatest gift of the season- time to unwind, unplug and reconnect with family and friends.  Of course the sugar cookies, Christmas movies, and bottomless mugs of hot chocolate certainly don’t hurt!  This year has been full of ups and downs and joys and sorrows, but when I reflect back I mostly remember being surrounded by love- the love of my two precious boys, my supportive husband and my incredible circle of family and friends.  All of you who read and comment and send little messages of love and support are a part of that, too.  Thank you for taking the time to stop in my little corner of the world. I certainly love sharing it all with you; the beautiful stuff, and the hard stuff.

I’ll see you back here after Christmas with a really beautiful story to share- a story of handmade love and community.  Until then, my sweet friends, I wish you and yours a most blessed holiday season.

xo

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Instagram…finally

So there’s this thing called Instagram…have you heard of it?! 😉 I know I’m about 5 years late to this particular party, but I finally joined last week. Once I did I immediately understood what all the fuss is about!  I hope you’ll come and follow along.  There’s also a link and a peek at…

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.51.19 PMSo there’s this thing called Instagram…have you heard of it?!

😉

I know I’m about 5 years late to this particular party, but I finally joined last week. Once I did I immediately understood what all the fuss is about!  I hope you’ll come and follow along.  There’s also a link and a peek at what I’m posting over on the side bar.

One of the first things I realized is that it becomes so much easier to find out about cool events that your friends and fellow authors are putting together.  I have been a long time fan of Maggie Battista’s site, Eat Boutique so of course I followed her on Instagram.  When it popped up that she’d be hosting a book signing at Farm & Fable, a gorgeous shop in Boston, I decided to attend.  I’m so glad that I did- not only was it a great to meet Maggie in person, but I also walked away with a signed copy of her gorgeous book, Food Gift Love.  I definitely tend to the introverted side, especially when it comes to networking in my field.  I am much happier behind my camera, or squirreled away in my studio.  But when I force myself out into the world I’m always glad I took the leap.  It feels great to get out there and meet people who are passionate about creating things of beauty.  And I can assure you, after a quick flip through her book, Maggie has created quite a thing of beauty.  I feel like I have Instagram to thank for a great event, and I can’t wait to see where else it will lead me!

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Decisions (and celebrations!)

It’s funny…by now you’d think I would realize that I am a writer.  After so many years of keeping this space, and writing for pleasure and work, it is in my bones.  Writing helps me to bring clarity and intention into my life, and yet when things get hectic, my writing often falls to the…

birthday6It’s funny…by now you’d think I would realize that I am a writer.  After so many years of keeping this space, and writing for pleasure and work, it is in my bones.  Writing helps me to bring clarity and intention into my life, and yet when things get hectic, my writing often falls to the wayside.  Writing down my thoughts last week helped to bring such clarity to our current situation…well that, and the wonderfully supportive comments and emails I received.  Several readers asked the question, “Is there something that you could do to ease your schedule?”  When I sat with that question, I realized that the answer was a huge, resounding “YES!”

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birthday5Vik started preschool this year and it has been a difficult transition.  He is only 3 years old, yet he is an independent, mature child.  He attended summer camp this past summer and absolutely loved it.  So we figured he was ready for school, although we didn’t start his brother until he was almost 4.  It turned out to be a situation that wasn’t a good fit for Vik.  Vik is extremely chill, and the wild class environment wasn’t at all suited to his personality.  He would begin crying the night before school, and wake up in tears.  And this is a child that isn’t prone to crying.  Coupled with the fact that I work on Tuesday and Thursday, the two days that Vik is in school, which meant that I didn’t see him for the entire day, it was clear that the school situation was causing undue stress.  And so we pulled him out last week.  The decision was so clear, and the relief was so instantaneous.  Now, two mornings a week we have nowhere to be and the three of us- myself, Vijay and Vik- have unstructured time together before I go to work at noon.  It has been the biggest blessing.

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birthday8Thank you for being here…and thank you for gently voicing your support and asking the tough questions.  Isn’t it funny that sometimes a very obvious solution might be hiding in plain sight?  We are still adjusting to this new schedule, and there will still be moments of stress, but gaining those precious hours with my boys gave me renewed energy to tackle this season with positivity and thankfulness, starting with a huge 5th birthday celebration this past weekend!!

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Where I Stand

It’s been hard to find the right words to describe this season of our lives and all the changes that we’ve experienced.  It is tempting to sum it up into one word- busy- and leave it at that.  But really it feels much more complex.  There is a certain amount of guilt- I am away…

15628151567_4a5affe490_oIt’s been hard to find the right words to describe this season of our lives and all the changes that we’ve experienced.  It is tempting to sum it up into one word- busy- and leave it at that.  But really it feels much more complex.  There is a certain amount of guilt- I am away from home and the boys much more than I’d like to be.  Just the other day my son cried as I left for work, “You are too busy for me, mama.”  My heart shattered.  There is a certain amount of loneliness- I dearly miss our sitter, whose presence was a bright spot in my week.  There is a certain amount of excitement- weddings and birthday parties to attend- along with the inevitable letdown that comes afterward.  There is a large amount of mourning: the loss of free time, time to cook, knit, sew, create.

It’s funny, when my boys were babies I spent most of my days trying to pass the time.  There were hours spent pushing the stroller aimlessly around town, attending story hour at the library and wiling away the afternoon at the park.  There were long afternoons when the boys were napping and I was stuck at home in a quiet house.  Life felt busy, but the busyness was all due to motherhood, and really, our time was our own to spend how we wanted.  I loved it, but at the same time struggled against the monotony.  Now when you add in school and working outside of the home, there is this feeling that our days are not our own anymore.  Free time is precious and dwindling.  I can only imagine how it will feel once the boys are involved in sports and after-school activities.  There is this part of me that wants desperately to go back to those slow days of new motherhood.  I wish someone had told me how fast it goes.  And I wish that I would have listened.

I feel a bit lost right now, if I’m to be honest.  I speed through the week- working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday- rushing between school drop-off and work, then back home to throw together a lame excuse for dinner.  I drop into bed exhausted, with no will to craft or read.  Without my creative pursuits I am adrift, an anchor-less boat bobbing in a rough sea.  This space may be quiet for a bit as I figure out my way, but I hope to see you here on the other side.  I’m not sure what blogging will look like moving forward.  Maybe once a week, maybe once a month.  I hope when the dust settles, you’ll be here.  I do so cherish this space, and the conversations that we have.  Life is beautiful, and hard, and then beautiful all over again.

xo