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!

India, 2017

Since our last trip to India we’ve been dreaming of returning. The boys were so young – 1 and 3- when we last visited, and we’ve been wanting to take them back now that they are older and so much more aware of their culture. To prepare we’ve been reading some wonderful stories about India…

Since our last trip to India we’ve been dreaming of returning. The boys were so young – 1 and 3- when we last visited, and we’ve been wanting to take them back now that they are older and so much more aware of their culture. To prepare we’ve been reading some wonderful stories about India (would anyone be interested in a reading list? happy to put one together!) and we’ve been leafing through the photos from our past trip. We are still hammering out the specifics of our itinerary, but we know the length will be 17 days in March during our spring break, and we will be visiting Jodphur, Mumbai, Varanasi and hopefully Jaipur, as well. We’re also working out the specifics of the service component of the trip, trying to find an orphanage where the boys will be allowed to work with us. It just so happens we’ll be in India for Holi, the Hindu festival of color, and I am beyond excited for all of us to experience the celebration! Last time we visited, I made a point of sourcing vintage textiles, hand-carved wooden blocks for block printing, fabric by the yard, and other treasures for a pop-up shop, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Everything was sourced with the utmost care and I made a real point to buy vintage to avoid bringing more stuff into an already overstuffed world. I’m considering doing another online shop this time around, so if that is something you’d be interested in let me know in the comments. You can also let me know if there is something in particular you’d like me to source. As a point of reference, you can see a few of the goods from my last pop-up shop here. And for a bit of background reading, check out these past posts: Pre-trip, Delhi, Bhutan, Rajasthan We’re going to spend the next few months preparing the boys, building their excitement and educating them on the country of their ancestors. They have so many questions already, and I can only imagine how many more questions will arise once we’re there. India is a country of such great beauty, but also crushing poverty. It is an assault on the senses even for the most well-traveled adult, so I know the boys will have moments of feeling completely overwhelmed. But we are hoping to raise inquisitive, empathetic, world-travelers, so we’ll do our best to have the hard conversations and not look away. 

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!

Sunday Suppers Workshop

I had the distinct pleasure of taking a workshop with Aran Goyoaga at Sunday Suppers in Brooklyn this past weekend. I was feeling like I needed a little creative boost, and I find that workshops are great for connecting with other creatives, as well as improving on skills and learning new techniques. I left Providence…

sunday-suppers_2903 I had the distinct pleasure of taking a workshop with Aran Goyoaga at Sunday Suppers in Brooklyn this past weekend. I was feeling like I needed a little creative boost, and I find that workshops are great for connecting with other creatives, as well as improving on skills and learning new techniques. I left Providence early Friday morning and grabbed an Amtrak to NYC and made it in time for a Union Square Greenmarket sourcing trip with the group in the pouring rain. Despite the downpour, it was fascinating to watch Aran carefully choose her ingredients, keeping an eye out for interesting details; beautifully curved stems, imperfect apples and pears, rough-skinned squash. The beauty, and therefore visual interest, lies in the imperfections.  sunday-suppers_2951 sunday-suppers_3006 We met up again on Saturday morning in the Sunday Suppers studio and kitchen space to learn more about Aran’s process, and watch her style and photograph several dishes. It was fascinating to watch her attention to detail, often spending at least an hour photographing a single recipe (not taking into account time spent sourcing props and food, and cooking). For me, it brought up questions around studio vs. lifestyle photography, and which direction I am drawn towards. The whole weekend gave me quite a bit to think about, which is exactly the point. I’m always hesitant to invest in myself, whether it be new equipment or a workshop, and yet I’m always so grateful when I take the leap.  sunday-suppers_2955 sunday-suppers_2963 I was surprised to find that I didn’t pick up my camera that often, as I was too busy watching and taking notes, but here are a few behind the scenes shots taken on my phone. A big thank you to Aran for the weekend, as well as the entire group for their inspiration. 2016-10-24_0004The light in the studio was absolute perfection, with large north facing windows that let in plenty of light despite the gray, rainy weather. A selection of neutral props- love! 2016-10-24_0005The selection that Aran chose from the market- look at those gorgeous imperfections. And a buckwheat galette using Hidden Rose apples from Scott Farm Orchard (which I brought with me from home, cradled in my lap for the train ride!). 2016-10-24_0006My favorite discovery of the weekend- Seed and Mill! One of the company founders, Rachel, was a workshop participant and it was an absolute joy meeting her and learning about the company. She treated me to a goat’s milk soft serve ice cream, topped with Seed and Mill tahini and halva, served in a red velvet cone. It was the most delicious thing in the world. Find their stall at Chelsea Market- do it! And the last gasp of dahlia for the season at the Greenmarket. greenmarket

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

Seattle (and lots of good eats!)

I absolutely loved Seattle. I had a feeling I would, what with the incredible food scene, walk-ability and mild climate. We enjoyed mostly beautiful weather, although there were a few cold days that had me wondering if I’d misread my calendar. Could it really be late June? I packed entirely wrong (which I am famous…

donuts I absolutely loved Seattle. I had a feeling I would, what with the incredible food scene, walk-ability and mild climate. We enjoyed mostly beautiful weather, although there were a few cold days that had me wondering if I’d misread my calendar. Could it really be late June? I packed entirely wrong (which I am famous for doing) and sorely missed a warm jacket and woolly scarf. But by the last few days, the sun was out and my sundresses felt appropriate. Oddfellows2 Oddfellows Oddfellows1 My friend Kellen met me in Seattle, and I tacked on extra time once my tour wrapped up, so we had several days which to explore the city together. It was such a treat. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in Capitol Hill, and since it happened to be Pride Week, and Capitol Hill is the rainbow district, it was quite the happening place. We were right down the street from Oddfellows Cafe, and it became our go-to destination for breakfast and coffee. Their tahini toast with banana, pecan and coconut was the best! Rachel Ginger BeerBar Melusine General Porpoise1 General Porpoise Tolt4General Porpoise2 Capital Hill is the place to be if you enjoy great food. We had such a hard time choosing where to eat for each meal, and we generally stuffed ourselves, not wanting to miss out on a single experience. Out of every amazing thing I ate during my time out west, I’d have to say that the General Porpoise donuts took the cake (so to speak!). I’m not even a stuffed donut fan, but these were the best; pillow-y and rolled in sugar, filled with a light, creamy, delicious filling. My favorites were the strawberries and cream and the aprium jam, both seasonal flavors.  Sitka and Spruce Homegrown GlasswingGlasswing1 Starbucks roaster We also loved exploring Pioneer Square, with our two favorite stops being Drygoods Design and The London Plane. London Plane London Plane3 Drygood Designs1 Drygood Designs Another favorite shop we visited was Red Ticking, which is on Madison, a charming street filled with cute shops. It was a bit out of the way of Capitol Hill, but a visit to Red Ticking alone was worth the trip. Gorgeous French linens, perfectly curated clothing…I could have bought everything in the store (budget allowing!). The Red Ticking1 The Red Ticking And of course, you can’t visit Seattle and not partake in the tourist-trap that is Pike Place Market. Though to be honest, I absolutely loved it and found the most gorgeous produce and flowers, which were then used at my events and demos. The cherries were gorgeous, of course, but it was the delicate currants that really caught my eye.Public Market market finds We set aside an afternoon to take a day-trip out of the city, a sort of knitter’s pilgrimage to Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, WA. Carrying an array of wonderfully curated yarns and knitting goods, Tolt is the kind of knitting shop that I dream of having nearby. There was a fireplace and lounge chairs where women were knitting and chatting. It had the feel of a real neighborhood shop. And their list of classes was amazing. I’d be there once a week at least, knitting away in one of those chairs by the fire if I lived nearby.Tolt2 Tolt1 Tolt, Farm to NeedleTolt3And so there you have it, a quick recap of my time spent in Seattle. I’d certainly love to go back with my family and partake in a ferry ride and some hiking, and possibly an extended trip to Olympic National Park. I’d love to drive the coast, and stop in Portland. Hmmm- that gives me some ideas for next summer!

Here are a few of my favorite Seattle spots:

Eat
The Whale Wins
Coyle’s Bakeshop
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Upper Bar Ferdinand
Sitka and Spruce
General Porpoise Doughnuts
Chop Shop
Molly Moon Ice Cream
Ba Bar
Bar Sarjor
The London Plane
The Fat Hen
Delancy
Preserve and Gather
Pike’s Place Market
Coffee
Herkimer Coffee
Monorail Espresso
Storyville Coffee
Elm Coffee Roasters
Shop
Drygood Designs
Glasswing
Elliot Bay Book Company
Red Ticking
Tolt Yarn and Wool (in Carnation, WA located about 30 minutes from Seattle)Public Market1

Floret Flower Farm

One of the highlights of my west coast trip was a visit to Floret. Ever since covering Erin and her flower farmer workshops for Country Living, I’ve been dying to meet her in person and see her farm for myself. It was such a spectacular visit- from the gorgeous flowers to Erin’s inspiring and kind…

Floret6One of the highlights of my west coast trip was a visit to Floret. Ever since covering Erin and her flower farmer workshops for Country Living, I’ve been dying to meet her in person and see her farm for myself. It was such a spectacular visit- from the gorgeous flowers to Erin’s inspiring and kind nature. Every now and then you have the chance to visit a place so beautiful it takes your breath away. I sincerely mean it when I say that I felt that, standing in the fields at Floret. It is an ordinary piece of land, not large by farming standards, just a few acres really, yet under Erin and her team’s care, it yields flowers so gorgeous they hardly seem real. Erin I couldn’t help myself from asking Erin if she would be willing to make one of the “flower installations” that she is known for, and she kindly obliged. She headed out to the field to collect roses, and upon her return laid out the blooms in a wash of corals and pinks. Take a moment and really look..every single bloom is more gorgeous than the next. She made all of my flower dreams come true and I think I took about 150 of the same exact picture because I was so afraid that I wouldn’t capture the exact magic. And still…pictures just don’t do it justice. I would have boarded my plane home with these blooms if I thought they’d have lasted. I wanted to keep them, and hold them, and have them forever.Floret5 Floret8 And the dahlias…well, if you’ve heard about Floret there is a good chance you’ve heard about their dahlias. The dahlia fields were just beginning to pop when I visited, and if I had to guess right about now they must be hauling in truckloads of these beauties. Erin tests hundreds of varieties of rare and unusual flowers every year- choosing for uniqueness in color, bloom, stem length, etc. A wander through the test fields was quite an experience as every variety was unique and different than anything I’d seen before. Erin kindly sent me home with a care package that included packets of Floret seeds, which I am very excited to put to use next year! Floret Christine and Erin Floret4 It was an extremely sunny day- beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. Which is normally a great thing…unless you are trying to take pictures out in the fields! So these are very blown out but I figured I’d share just a few. I’ll have to return someday in the evening light (yep, I just totally invited myself back). Thank you, Erin, for such an incredible visit. The memories from that afternoon continue to bring me immense joy. If for some reason you’re not yet following Floret on Instagram- do yourself a favor and follow along for the most gorgeous flower images ever! Floret2 Floret fields Floret fields1 Floret fields2