Fair Isle Success

_MG_1935I made a promise to try to push myself to learn new techniques and skills this year.  First up…stranded colorwork knitting. For some reason, stranded colorwork always seemed really hard and kind of scary. I posted a picture of my yarn stash on Instagram last week along with a caption about my resolution to learn colorwork, and a few people commented that I should try YouTube. I was unsure that I could learn via video but it was surprisingly easy! I watched a few videos and then gave it a shot.  I had to get the hang of holding two strands at a time, which was the most challenging part.


_MG_1894I picked the Schuyler hat for my first pattern.  I found it via Fringe Association and I’m so glad I did.  This is such a beautiful, wearable pattern.  I’m thinking of lining it with fleece, which would make it the perfect winter hat!  Of course everyone in the house is fighting over it, so I already have a second colorwork hat on my needles.  And you know two more will have to come soon after!  At this rate I’ll be ripping through my stash in no time…which can only mean one thing… yarn shopping is in my future!



Sharing the Process

_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.




_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?







_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.





_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.








The Power of Craft

_MG_1493I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I’ve been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents as they dealt with many difficulties related to my younger brother.  I saw my mom stripped of so much of her joy as she internalized the stress of the situation and quite frankly, it broke my heart.  I decided that I wanted to use the power of handmade to create something of beauty for her.  I decided that I would finish her Alabama Chanin dress in time for Christmas (you might remember this past summer when my mom and I took a class from Natalie Chanin at Blackberry Farm– this was her garment from the class, which she had barely started).  It was a ridiculously lofty goal what with 6 large panels of applique to conquer, so I decided to enlist the help of my community.  I envisioned an old-fashion quilt circle with women coming together to create something of beauty.  I imagined each stitch sewn with intention and love.  Three amazing women came forward and offered their sewing assistance, and together we created this masterpiece.  I sent them each a panel, and made a little instructional video, and a few months later they sent me back their panels, each completed to perfection.  I stitched up the panels- my three, plus the three others, and finished off the neck and arm holes.  In all it was a six-month project.

bustOn Christmas morning I had the dress swathed in sheets of tissue paper, wrapped in a big box covered in red sparkly wrapping paper.  It was the last gift my mom opened and she was absolutely speechless.  Nestled in along with the dress I had notes from the women who helped to sew her dress:  Kellen Meyer, my sweet Squam friend, was one of the amazing women who lent her talent to the project, along with Amy Mercer, a lovely knitter, seamstress and blog friend, and Ann Ryskoski, a long-time friend of my moms.  The dress fits my mom perfectly- it is quite amazing.  I hope it brings her joy each and every time she wears it.  There is something so powerful about wearing a garment that other hands made for you with love and intention.  This was the most fulfilling and uplifting project that I made this year and it got me thinking: the power of handmade is incredible.  I would love to do this again- craft a beautiful garment for someone who needs a touch of joy in their life.  What do you think?  Would any of you be into that?  Together we could pick someone to receive the gift, and then decide on the garment.  Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.  Give it some thought…and keep in mind you don’t have to be a master crafter.  If you can hand sew, you can make an Alabama Chanin piece.  Another idea- an Alabama Chanin sew-a-long in the Providence-area- I’d be happy to host at my house!  Wouldn’t this be a fun way to kick off 2016?!  I’m ready for some deeper, more fulfilling making in the coming year.


Merry Christmas

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.


Tower Hill1

Eat Boutique Holiday Market

displayOn Saturday I was able to sneak away to Boston for the afternoon to partake in Eat Boutique’s Holiday Market.  It was such a gorgeous venue, filled with makers and food vendors, and offering a packed schedule of amazing author appearances and events.  I jumped in at the last minute to get my book signed by Joy the Baker, which was certainly a thrill.  But the biggest thrill of all was connecting with Lucinda Scala Quinn, former vice president at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and author of many amazing books including, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys.  She was so engaging, warm and welcoming, and I can’t wait to use her book to feed my hungry boys.  Even though they are only 3 and 5, I am already amazed by their appetites.  Much of my day revolves around feeding them: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.  Bowls upon bowls of fruit slices, veggies with hummus, hard boiled eggs….  It’s like shoveling coal into a fast burning furnace and I need all the help I can get to avoid getting into cooking ruts.

book table




_MG_0558Getting out to events like this is such a refreshing change of pace for me.  There is a part of me that feels that between having two kids so close together, writing book after book and juggling a freelance career, social networking fell by the wayside.  And that is such an important thing as an author.  I missed the boat by a few years in terms of social media, and as much I understand the value of networking and “getting out there” it just feels really difficult given the demands of home.  All of that to say, it was such a treat to spend an afternoon meeting movers and shakers of the food world.









_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.





_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*




_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!







_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😉






_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.




_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.






Raspberry Brownies and a Giveaway

squareAre you still full from Thanksgiving?  No?  Well good thing, because I am holding an Instagram giveaway for some delicious looking Roost cookbooks including My Darling Lemon Thyme, The Vibrant Table, and Lomelino’s Ice Cream.  I knew I wanted to highlight a recipe, and once I flipped through all three books I couldn’t help coming back to these Raspberry Brownies from My Darling Lemon Thyme.  Of course I should have focused on something healthy that we could have had for dinner…but where’s the fun in that?!  My sweet tooth always gets the best of me.  These were honestly the best brownies I have ever made- chewy, moist and full of flavor.  I really like brownies that have more going on than just chocolate, so I loved the bright bursts of raspberries and the nutty crunch of pistachio and pecans.  These brownies perfectly walk the line between fudge-y and cake-y, and they are a fantastic treat.  I would highly recommend bringing them to a holiday cookie exchange (if you can bear to part with them!).

To enter my GIVEAWAY, pay a visit to my Instagram page!  I will pick three winners, and each will receive one of these titles, along with a signed copy of Little Bites!

Raspberry Brownies

Slightly adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway (Roost, 2015)


3/4 cup olive oil
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unrefined raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup raspberries, frozen
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup pistachio, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 7 x 11-inch baking pan with parchment paper

2. Place olive oil, chocolate, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously until smooth and melted.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes.  Whisk eggs into mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add ground almonds, oat flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Mix to combine.  Fold in half the raspberries and all of the pecans.

3. Transfer to baking pan, and top with remaining raspberries, and pistachio, pressing them down gently into the mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before slicing.  Brownies will keep, airtight, at room temp for 2-3 days (though I highly doubt they will last that long!).

CVR My Darling Lemon Thyme_Roost Books

CVR Vibrant Table pb_Kassoff_Roost Books

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Staying Up Too Late

2015-11-15_0001Has the time change leveled anyone else or is it just me?  The boys were in a great routine, waking up at a respectable time (7:15am) and then BOOM…say hello to the 5am wake-up call.  My husband just returned from a two-week trip to India which means I had morning duty.  It was brutal.  Luckily my mom came into town to lend a hand and every morning at 5am I’d bring the boys into bed with me and try to hold them off until a more reasonable hour, say 5:30am, before turning them loose and letting Grammy deal with them!  All this to say I should be getting myself to bed at a sensible hour, say 9pm.  But I’ve been pulled in by some great books lately, and so I stay up way to late and totally vow never to do it again the next morning (only to repeat my behavior night after night).  That is the tough thing about juggling a packed schedule; my only downtime is at night, and the kids go to bed at around 8.  So if I want a few hours to myself, it means staying up later than I should.  Anyway, that was a super long introduction when what I wanted to say was that I am tired, but I have some great book recommendations🙂

The Gates of Evangeline: I enjoy mysteries set in the South, and this Southern Gothic mystery set in Louisiana pulled me right in.  A bereaved mother living in NYC begins to have dreams about children in danger.  Only they are not just dreams.  Following a premonition to the South, she begins to uncover the truth behind an age-old unsolved crime.  A well-written and entertaining mystery with a great sense of place.

Fates and Furies: I can’t decide how I feel about this unusual book.  It is the book of the season, topping every list, and yet I’m not sure that I loved it.  I was certainly captivated and intrigued, but it left me feeling a bit cold, as though I never really connected fully to the characters.  The story centers around the marriage of the two main characters Mathilde and Lancelot (Lotto): her enigmatic, him egotistical and self-absorbed.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought!

Did You Ever Have a Family: The book begins with an unthinkable tragedy: the night before her daughter’s wedding, June Reid loses her daughter, her daughter’s fiance, her ex-husband and her boyfriend in a house fire.  From there, the book delves into the lives of the community members in June’s small Connecticut town, and the stories of those she meets as she attempts to flee her despair.  The story is hauntingly beautiful and will stay with you long after you finish.


Catastrophic Happiness: I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Catherine Newman’s latest book and I am already half-way through.  It could not have come at a better time.  It arrived last week at the end of my solo-parenting stint when I was completely burnt out.  I cracked it open simply to give it a quick browse one night and quickly found myself pulled in, laughing to the point of tears as Newman absolutely nails the exhaustion, absurdity and joy of parenting.  The prologue “It Gets Better” was my absolute favorite as it pokes fun at all the exhaustive qualities of early parenting, while promising that it will get better. “You know how you’re tired,” Newman writes.  “So tired that you mistake talking in an exhausted monotone about your tiredness for making conversation?  You won’t be tired.  Or rather you will sometimes be tired, sometimes rested, like regular people are.  You won’t look forward to your dental appointments just so you can recline alone for forty heavenly, tartar-scraping minutes.”  YES- I actually remember feeling blissed out at a dentist appointment shortly after Vik was born- it was the first time I had been without a baby on me for a whole hour!!

The Thing About Jellyfish: This is next on my list.  I downloaded the sample on my iPad and ripped through it (LOVE that you can sample e-books!).  It’s a YA book about a girl who loses her best friend in a drowning accident and becomes convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting.  I’m already hooked.

That’s all for now folks, but please do share suggestions of your own!  I’m planning a post devoted to podcasts soon, both for children and adults.  Listening to podcasts has completely changed my life.  Seriously, we listen to children’s stories now in the car, and it turns even a short drive into such a relaxing and enjoyable experience!  I’ll share my recommendations soon!

A Style All His Own

_MG_9771We’re having a gorgeous fall here in Providence.  Every street is breathtakingly beautiful, full of fiery red and golden yellow trees.  It is a magical time, and now that we’ve figured out our schedule in a way that makes everyone happy, we’re sinking in and enjoying the ride.  I was thrilled to finish Vik’s first sweater a few weeks ago in time for fall, and even more thrilled that he’s wanted to wear it.  I think I made the mistake of lumping Vik’s style preferences in with Vijays; comfy pants, t-shirts, loose, easy clothing.  It turns out Vik has a style all his own.  He LOVED wearing a tux and shiny patent leather shoes for my brother’s wedding (pictures to come). In fact he loved it so much he wore the full ensemble the day after the wedding to the casual brunch.  My favorite Vik story from that weekend was when he was getting ready for the wedding with my mom- they were in her bathroom brushing their teeth and he said, “I’m going to have shiny shoes and shiny teeth, Grammy!”  Imagine that said with the cutest little 3-year-old lisp. Ohhh, he slays me.

_MG_9788And in preparation for the beach wedding we went to last weekend he came with me to the store and personally picked out outfits for him and Vijay to wear- crisp navy shorts and collared dress shirts.  They looked quite dapper.  And so that brings us to this sweater: Vik has been growing more and more curious about my knitting, always asking who I’m knitting for and wondering when I’ll knit him a sweater.  And so I decided it was time to give it a whirl, starting with a very simple crewneck sweater.  He loves it and wears it with pride.  Makes my heart happy!  You can check out the details on my Ravelry page.  It looks like I finally get to start knitting for at least one of my boys!




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!