Terrain in Westport, CT

Spring is here in full force…how did that happen so darn fast!? With the first blooms appearing my mind turns toward gardening and there is no better place to draw gardening inspiration than Terrain in Westport, CT. The first thing that greets you when you walk through the doors is this gorgeous potting display, which…

Terrain at Westport 3 Spring is here in full force…how did that happen so darn fast!? With the first blooms appearing my mind turns toward gardening and there is no better place to draw gardening inspiration than Terrain in Westport, CT. The first thing that greets you when you walk through the doors is this gorgeous potting display, which is pretty much what my dream potting table looks like! Terrain at Westport 15 Terrain at Westport 13 Terrain at Westport 16 Do you have a favorite color combination- one that just makes your heart sing? Mine is a certain blue-green, and dusty rose…and what do you know, it was on display throughout the shop. I had to stop myself from buying up this whole display just so that I could recreate it at home! That pitcher…that pink glass…those adorable enamel mugs- I loved them all. Terrain at Westport 14 Terrain at Westport 4 Terrain at Westport For all of the beauty and inspiration, I did leave empty-handed. I am trying to be incredibly conscious of what I bring into my home these days, and how I spend my money. And it is a funny thing- just looking at these pictures makes me as happy as if I would have bought every little thing that I loved. The pictures capture the styling and beauty, in a way that a single object can’t quite do. So enjoy this bit of eye candy, and have a lovely weekend. Next week is the launch of Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet and I am so thrilled by all that is planned. It is going to be an exciting spring and summer- I can’t wait!Terrain at Westport 8 Terrain at Westport 6 Terrain at Westport 12 Terrain at Westport 11 Terrain at Westport 10

A Weekend Away, NYC

What a weekend of beauty and inspiration! I’ll tell you, traveling with Elizabeth is such a treat. We both love to find balance between adventure and relaxation when we travel, and by that I mean days filled with beautiful food, explorations and shopping, and evenings filled with chick flicks. We might have been back at…

NYC1 What a weekend of beauty and inspiration! I’ll tell you, traveling with Elizabeth is such a treat. We both love to find balance between adventure and relaxation when we travel, and by that I mean days filled with beautiful food, explorations and shopping, and evenings filled with chick flicks. We might have been back at the hotel by 10pm, but we were laughing well past the wee morning hours. After a winter filled with solo parenting, it was the perfect rejuvenating weekend away. And as luck would have it my husband took the boys to Florida for the week to join my dad and brother for a little spring break boy’s vacation. I have to work this week, so I am now by myself here at home. It feels weird to be in an empty (really clean!) house and I am kinda loving having some time to catch up on work, spring clean, and sew/ knit late into the night.  Greenmarket, NYC TulipsGreenmarket But back to NYC- we spent most of our time walking around, ducking into little shops and eating. It’s funny- neither of us were craving heavy, rich food. Instead we sought out little cafes with great coffee and light eats. Our absolute favorite was Bluestone Lane, an Australian coffee shop. Their almond milk coffee, and grilled gluten-free banana bread with whipped ricotta are the stuff dreams are made of and I would gladly move to NYC just to eat breakfast there every morning. Please come to Providence Bluestone Lane- I’ll be your most loyal customer. Promise! Church NYC Blooms NYC3 The Butcher's Daughter Village We were lucky enough to have great weather- a bit chilly, but nothing we couldn’t handle. This made for the perfect walking weather, and we had some lovely strolls through Greenwich Village and Soho, the Upper West Side and Midtown. The magnolia trees were in full bloom and it was just gorgeous.

Purl SohoPurl Soho2 Purl Projects Of course we made it to our favorite two shops- Purl Soho and ABC Home. Endless beauty and inspiration. I left with a few skeins of yarn, including two of Purl’s new Linen Quill, which I am really excited to try.  ABC Home 2 ABC Home4 ABC Home 3 ABC Home 4 ABC Home 1 It’s nice to be back in Providence now, awaiting spring and the return of my boys. I’m excited to take some time this week to get caught up on life before we embark on what is shaping up to be a busy and exciting season, filled with travel and new projects. And maybe…just maybe another weekend trip to NYC. I always leave wanting more. Spring in NYC

 

Vacationing

A week back from Jamaica and it already seems like a lifetime ago. We were lucky enough to vacation with my parents, two brothers, and sister-in-law. Once you vacation with family, you’ll never want to vacation alone again (if you have small kids, that is). There are so many helping hands and so many willing…

Jamaica1 A week back from Jamaica and it already seems like a lifetime ago. We were lucky enough to vacation with my parents, two brothers, and sister-in-law. Once you vacation with family, you’ll never want to vacation alone again (if you have small kids, that is). There are so many helping hands and so many willing playmates, that as parents you get a real break. I’m so thankful for the strong bonds that my boys have with my family. It is really something special to see.

Jamaica, at the farmJamaica, at the farm1Jamaica farm, horseJamaica, at the farm2 We rented a villa all together at a resort in Montego Bay. There is a little farm on the property, as well as several pools, tennis courts, a golf course, a put-put course, playgrounds and of course, beaches. The property is sprawling which makes it perfect for long walks and scooter rides. Although the resort is beautiful and well-kept it doesn’t have an overly-fancy or all-inclusive feel to it. Instead it feels like you’re at home in a little beach-side neighborhood. The staff is exceptional as well- the guys who run the tennis program are so great and as a family that loves racquet sports, we have a ton of fun. It was especially amazing to see Vik take off with his tennis game. He’s such a great little athlete, and asked to play for several hours every day!

Jamaica basketsHalf Moon Bay, JamaicaHalf Moon BayHalf Moon Bay spaOther than that we spent our time on the beach or in the pool, relaxing and soaking in the sun rays. It’s funny- when we returned home I thought that is what the boys would miss the most, the warm weather. Instead they missed having all our family around. When I asked them if they’d want to live in Jamaica they replied, “Only with Grammy and Papa.”  That’s pretty high praise from two little island boys!

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Jamaica, Local Flavor

Now that we’re back in Rhode Island it’s hard to believe that somewhere out there the sun is beating down on white hot sand while the ocean waves roll lazily on the shore. It’s hard to believe that somewhere out there it is 80 degrees with the slightest breeze blowing in off the ocean, rustling…

Jamaica, at the market2Now that we’re back in Rhode Island it’s hard to believe that somewhere out there the sun is beating down on white hot sand while the ocean waves roll lazily on the shore. It’s hard to believe that somewhere out there it is 80 degrees with the slightest breeze blowing in off the ocean, rustling the leaves of the palm trees. But what is really hard to believe is that we choose to live here in New England when we could be living there (joking…kind of)! Our trip to Jamaica was heaven on earth. It was so nice to escape the winter sickness that had descended on our family during the last few months. Digging our toes into the sand, basking in the sun and swimming the day away in the ocean proved to be immensely healing. We’re back and feeling good!Jamaica fish

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Jamaica menu Of course all of the Vitamin C helped too. We indulged in fresh pineapple ever morning, and coconut water straight out of the coconut every lunchtime. Jamaica is a place of such abundance in terms of local food offerings. We ate so well while we were there- lobster, fish, jerk chicken, tropical fruits and avocado as big as our heads- it was all so incredibly fresh and delicious. I spent an afternoon wandering the market and trying all kinds of interesting fruits: soursop, custard apple, sweetsop, guava and naseberry. I also bought bags of sugar cane for swirling in our nightly piña colada (made with fresh coconut meat and fresh pineapple- heaven on earth).

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Jamaica, at the market The seafood offerings made for some memorable dinners. Curry crab and jerk lobster were the crowd favorites, served alongside fried plantains and rice and beans. There is also a Jamaican fish dish called Escovich, which is best described as lightly fried red snapper served with vinegar pickled vegetables. It is so tasty.

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Jamaica crab Tomorrow I’ll share with you a bit more of our trip, like where we stayed and a glimpse of the gorgeous sunsets that I am now missing terribly!

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Sharing the Process

With every passing year I feel like I am becoming a bit wiser.  The process of aging is really a process of knowing yourself on a deeper level, I suppose.  I have become more in-tune with my strengths and weaknesses.  One of my personality traits that I am constantly working on is my type-A need…

_MG_1661With every passing year I feel like I am becoming a bit wiser.  The process of aging is really a process of knowing yourself on a deeper level, I suppose.  I have become more in-tune with my strengths and weaknesses.  One of my personality traits that I am constantly working on is my type-A need for perfection.  There are pluses and minuses to this type of personality (+high productivity, -easily stressed and a need for perfectionism).  I’ve become more balanced since having kids, but I still have this need to present things in a perfect light.  For example on my blog here; I love showing off the finished product but I am not very good at showing the process.  The process isn’t always pretty but it is where so much of the important stuff happens.  I love to pull these moves: “Oh look, a completed Alabama Chanin dress/ handknit sweater/ renovated kitchen” without sharing the struggles and mistakes that came along the way.  This year I am challenging myself to start sharing the journey…the WHOLE journey…with all of you.  I’ll never be someone that airs my dirty laundry and child-raising fiasco’s (thank goodness…there are certain things I believe should be kept private!) but I do look forward to sharing things as they unfold.

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_MG_1691Coming up in the next few months I am looking forward to sharing more about the Alabama Chanin sew-a-long that I’ve organized.  It has grown beyond my wildest dreams and we now have 19 women from across the country (and one from Australia!) signed up to participate.  We’ve chosen some amazing recipients and placed the order for their garments.  This project is breathing new life into my craft practice.  I’m crackling with inspiration and ideas!  Secondly, I can’t wait to share some behind-the-scenes peeks into the process of writing my third book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet, which comes out this April.  This book is so darn pretty that it makes me a bit weepy- we’re talking hard cover and full page pictures for every recipe, plus a designer with incredible vision and talent (thank you Toni!).  I thought I’d share a bit about how I landed with Roost, the process of pitching the book, and also how I developed and tested the recipes, and photographed and wrote the book.  Wait until you see my homemade “studio set.”  Ha- it’s pretty hilarious!  Is there anything else you’d like me to share about this process….or about any other subjects?

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_MG_1729It felt appropriate to accompany this post with pictures from Detroit, where I spent a day exploring with my mom over the holiday break.  If there ever was a city that knows about “the journey” it is Detroit.  There are so many amazing things happening in this city- yet so much more to be done.  The people of Detroit have quite a journey ahead of them- yet they seem ready to embrace it with full hearts, and they are not afraid of sharing the process that it will take to get there.  Pretty inspirational, if you ask me.

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_MG_1667Mini Detroit Guide (as seen here):

Eastern Market: farmer’s market full of local produce, food trucks, and prepared foods, and the street art surrounding the market is off the hook!

Germack Coffee Roasting Co.: for an exceptional cup of coffee as well as roasted nuts and seeds for sale, right across the street from Eastern Market.

Will Leather Goods: an amazing store with beautifully made leather goods, plus a coffee bar.  Even if you aren’t in the market for leather goods, you’ll enjoy wandering this gorgeous space.

Selden Standard: craft cocktails and local food, the best meal I had while I was in Michigan over the break, hands down, and great decor to boot.

Avalon: a favorite bakery

Belle Isle: a 982-acre island park created as a place for Detroit residents to enjoy nature, walking paths, shoreline, an aquarium and a greenhouse.

If you are interested in a very hip, indie guide to the city, I’d suggest the Wild Sam Guide, which we purchased at The Detroit Mercantile Co.– a super cool indie shop.

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Chicago

It has been a family tradition for the last seven years to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago.  Chicago is the city associated with much of my early twenties- I lived there when I first graduated from college, it’s where I started my career in non-profits and at the same time slung beers at night to pay…

_MG_0318It has been a family tradition for the last seven years to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago.  Chicago is the city associated with much of my early twenties- I lived there when I first graduated from college, it’s where I started my career in non-profits and at the same time slung beers at night to pay the rent, and eventually it is where I met my husband.  To say that it holds a mixed bag of memories is an understatement, but mostly, I look back on that time with great fondness.  Visiting now with my kids in tow is such a treat.  This year I was laid low for about 48 hours with a nasty virus, so my sightseeing was cut shorter than I had hoped.  Though I will say that recovering in a cushy hotel room with room service and cable tv certainly made the virus much more tolerable.  I think that’s the biggest break I’ve had all year!  But I’d love to share with you a few of the things that we enjoyed during our time in Chi-town.

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_MG_0213My first stop was an incredible hotel/ restaurant in the Fulton Market district called The Soho House.  I’d been seeing images of this magnificent space all over Instagram and I was dying to see it for myself.  The food was delicious, especially that almond croissant pictured above.  My family members are creatures of habit and we stay in the same hotel every year, but if I could convince them to try somewhere new, The Soho House would be it!  What kills me is that I used to work in Fulton Market ten years ago- it is where the non-profit I worked for was headquartered- and there was practically NOTHING there but butcher shops.  Now it is full of awesome restaurants, cafes and shops.  It would be such a blast to work in the area now…*sigh*

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_MG_0230My next stop was my all-time favorite little shop in Chicago, which is especially joyful during the holiday season.  P.O.S.H. carries a variety of vintage and new finds, many sourced from France and flea markets across Europe.  I could spend hours browsing their displays and collections.  This shop is always such a treat!

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_MG_0392The brand new Restoration Hardware on Dearborn Ave. is probably the most breathtaking home store I have ever set foot in.  It is housed in the Three Arts Club, built in 1914 in a largely residential section of the Gold Coast.  It seems silly to direct you to this video of the store, but if you are interested it really captures the five floors of elegance, the incredible  steel-enclosed garden courtyard cafe which is home to a restaurant, wine bar and coffee shop, and the rooftop park.  This space was just stunning, and my mom and I happily spent over an hour just wandering around in complete awe. In my next life I’m coming back to live in this building 😉

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_MG_0360Lastly on my must-visit shop list is The New Leaf, a gardening store that offers so much more than flowers and plants.  This store is like a winding treasure hunt, with rooms filled to the brim with glassware, tiles, ribbon, vintage furniture pieces, ornaments, holiday decor and more.  If you’d like to see more of the shop, check out the article I wrote for Gardenista last year.

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_MG_0532If you can believe it, most of the above was squeezed into a few hours while the rest of our time in the city was spent exploring as a family and enjoying the hotel pool!  We took the boys skating at Millennium Park, which they loved, and we sucked it up and paid to go to the top of the John Hancock.  I balked at paying, but it was worth every penny.  The views were spectacular and the boys got a big kick out of the experience.  We also spent a morning at the Lincoln Park Zoo, but it was bitter cold and we all lost our excitement after an hour or so.  Once we saw those poor, freezing flamingos we called it a day.  All this to say, we had an amazing time.  Spending time in Chicago feeds my soul on so many levels- it reminds me of the energy of my twenties, it leaves me breathless with its gorgeous architecture and design, it fills me with beauty as I see the sights though the eyes of my boys, and mostly, it makes me appreciate how lucky I was to once call this city home.

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The Whirlwind of Fall

After such a leisurely summer, fall has taken us by storm.  We are adjusting to a new school schedule, a new job that takes me out of the home for 15-20 hours a week, a traveling husband and a calendar filled to the brim.  In the coming weeks we’re celebrating the wedding of my brother,…

_MG_9066After such a leisurely summer, fall has taken us by storm.  We are adjusting to a new school schedule, a new job that takes me out of the home for 15-20 hours a week, a traveling husband and a calendar filled to the brim.  In the coming weeks we’re celebrating the wedding of my brother, along with Vijay’s 5th birthday, and the wedding of one of my best girlfriends.  Whew.  And that’s just October!   Busyness has been on my mind, and I am really pondering how best to strike a new rhythm to our days now that I am working out of the home.  This has meant crock-pot recipes galore, asking for help when I need it, and trying to accept that there will not be as much time in my week for creative endeavors.  Everything in life has its season and I think we are heading into a busy season, one that will stretch us to new heights, and teach us to appreciate our quiet moments together when they come.  I’m learning to embrace the new challenges and rise to the occasion.  In the midst of all this newness, I headed to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend to celebrate an old friendship.  Her wedding is coming up in a few weeks, and I planned a girls’ weekend away so that we could all celebrate the bride.  The weather was exquisite, the meals delicious, and the company even better.  I should have snapped a million more pictures, but as part of this new phase I’m learning that sometimes it is just as important to be in the moment and allow the beauty to exist in the mind’s eye alone.  Here are a few snippets to share…  Fall is most definitely in the air.

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New York City

My husband and I have an anniversary coming up.  On September 1 we’ll be celebrating 8 years of marriage, which is quite exciting.  Unfortunately, he’ll be away on business for the actual day of our anniversary, so we figured we’d celebrate a bit early.  When work called him to NYC for the day, we decided…

_MG_7869My husband and I have an anniversary coming up.  On September 1 we’ll be celebrating 8 years of marriage, which is quite exciting.  Unfortunately, he’ll be away on business for the actual day of our anniversary, so we figured we’d celebrate a bit early.  When work called him to NYC for the day, we decided to make it into a romantic overnight.  It was the perfect escape and we enjoyed a gorgeous dinner in the West Village, a leisurely morning in SoHo, with breakfast at The Butchers Daughter, and lots of wandering.  Although I came away with tons of inspiration, I ended up not buying a single thing.  I’m in the process of decluttering and refreshing our home right now, and I’m finding less and less desire to bring new items into our space.  Rather I’m trying to rework and repaint and refinish items that we already have.   Although when the time comes and everything is pulled together, I have no doubt a few fun accessories will be needed!

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_MG_7887Because Vijay has to work on Monday, Elizabeth came on the train with us and stayed for the day so that I’d have someone to pal with.  She’s working on some fun stuff for Squam right now, and we scoured the city for the perfect fabric and accessories.  Of course that meant a stop at Purl.  It also meant lunch at ABC Kitchen, a wander through Union Square Greenmarket, and the most incredible ice cream (a scoop of ginger and a scoop of dark chocolate- combo made in heaven) from the Van Leeuwen truck.  I will dream about that ice cream until the next time I can hunt it down.

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_MG_7937It seems that work will be taking my husband into the city every few months, and I am always more than happy to tag along.  I get such a creative burst of energy from these visits and I return home eager to start creating and crafting.  I’m pushing for a fall visit when the leaves are turning and the air is crisp and my needles are calling out for a cozy new fall knitting project.  We’ll see… a girl can dream.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes

Yesterday we took a day-trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This is an annual trip for my kids, and I’ve been going here for the past 25 years.  As a young girl, my brother and I would partake in the junior ranger program every summer, and back then the park felt like an undiscovered treasure. …

_MG_6709Yesterday we took a day-trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This is an annual trip for my kids, and I’ve been going here for the past 25 years.  As a young girl, my brother and I would partake in the junior ranger program every summer, and back then the park felt like an undiscovered treasure.  This year’s trip was rather heartbreaking.  There was so much traffic and so many people.  I could see the devastating effect that the crowds are having on the dunes.  It is such a fragile ecosystem.

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_MG_6743Acts I witnessed in the span of 20 minutes: a lady putting out her cigarette butts in the sand and leaving them there, a family leaving their trash laying around after a picnic, a young boy pulling out tufts of dune grass (their root system is what anchors the grass and keeps it the dunes from eroding), and of course selfie sticks galore (no one seemed to be breathing in the beauty, rather everyone was on their phones).  The trip, despite the beauty that is still there, left me feeling distraught over the future of my beloved Northern Michigan.  I wonder where the line is between inviting people to witness these national natural treasures, and closing them to the public in order to protect the fragile ecosystems.  As Northern Michigan becomes more popular, Walmarts are popping up on what used to be farmland, the traffic in and out of Traverse seems never-ending…  I’m not sure what to do with these feelings, besides using them as a springboard for important environmental conversations with my boys.  My greatest fear is that when my kids are grown there will be nothing left here to show them.

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Up North

The beauty of a Northern Michigan summer never fails to leave me speechless.  It’s the kind of beauty that catches you by surprise.  Turn a corner and there is a field of sweet peas growing with wild abandon by the side of the road, take another turn and there are cherry orchards for as far…

_MG_6516The beauty of a Northern Michigan summer never fails to leave me speechless.  It’s the kind of beauty that catches you by surprise.  Turn a corner and there is a field of sweet peas growing with wild abandon by the side of the road, take another turn and there are cherry orchards for as far as the eye can see.  And of course the view that wins all the prizes, the turquoise shimmering lake.  It is there to greet us every morning as we wake up, and late into the evening when the sun sets and lights its waters on fire.

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_MG_6626But what I love the most about our summers here, without a doubt, is the carefree fun that my boys get to experience.  It is childhood at its best, and there is nothing like it in the entire world I swear.  Yesterday we played baseball in the yard with our neighbors, and threw rocks into the lake for our family dog to chase.  We walked down the lane to pick our neighbor’s raspberries, and came home to bake muffins.  We visited the cherry orchard and picked buckets full of dark sweet cherries, and stopped by the farmers market on the way home to stock up on veggies, raw honey, blueberries and strawberries.  We scooted into town for the weekly “stroll” and popped into the little toy store to do some browsing.  We said hello to neighbors that we have shared summers with for 20 years.  We finished the night with vanilla ice cream topped with farm fresh strawberries and cherries.  Life is good.  It is beautiful and good, but in the midst of all this good there has been sorrow, and our family needs prayers right now more than ever.  Again, these are not my stories to tell and I always honor my family’s privacy, but I will say that my younger brother and my mom need lots of love sent their way this summer.  I’m keeping the faith that there is healing to be had in a place as magical as this.  Wishing you all a gorgeous summer weekend.  xo

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