After Thanksgiving we started getting ready for the season of advent.  We are keeping up some traditions we have started including: the display and lighting of our advent wreath, wrapping 25 Christmas books and unwrapping one each night to read together and the candy countdown (filled this year with leftover Halloween candy).

This year we have decided to decorate an outdoor Christmas tree.  Not that we don't want to put up a tree indoors and decorate it with all of the lovely ornaments we have made and accumulated.  Our reality is that we have a dog and a kitten who would knock down the tree daily and we have decided to be safe, rather than sorry. 

So the season begins!  I hope this season of advent brings you some peace and joy.

into the woods

Lake 5


Lake 7


Here are some snapshots from some time I spent outdoors this morning.  Every time I get out I am reminded how much I love being outdoors - and I love it even more when I pull up to an empty trailhead parking lot with the opportunity to venture into the woods in quiet solitude (and of course my trusty canine hiking companion).

The bays are frozen and I have even heard some reports of some brave and eager locals venturing out on some shallow lakes on skis.  I will be sticking to the trails and continuing to get outdoors as much as I can.  Soon enough I will be out on skis.  But for now I am continuing to take advantage of wonderful weather for hiking.



late fall




We have twenty-eight more days of approaching darkness before the turn of the season from fall to winter, and with that the gradual return of the light.

 Right now on this twenty-fourth day of November the lakes are starting to make ice around the shorelines and the snow is starting to cover the ground.

I am getting out whenever I can to appreciate the beauty of late fall.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving from my beautiful corner of the world.

November - Inspiring Gratitude


The November issue of Minnesota Parent is available on stands throughout Minnesota and online.

My school days column for this month focused on ways to inspire gratitude this Thanksgiving.

You can find "Inspiring Gratitude" through this link.

Be sure to check out all of the great content in the full issue as well.

I you are encouraged with these reminders to inspire gratitude and kindness in the life of your family.


::first snow::










We had our first Thursday evening, and with the excitement and anticipation we had a four year old up wearing his snow pants 5:20 Friday morning - and the rest of the crew up and ready to play outside in the snow soon after.....I am not exaggerating.

  As I am writing this post, Saturday, our snow slowly melting, but we have four children outside playing in the dark (5:00 p.m.) Today they have been sledding, cross country skiing, building snowmen and throwing snow balls - and coming in with dripping wet gear.   The forecast predicts warm weather tomorrow, which will likely melt most of the snow, but we have had a lovely taste of the season that will soon be upon us in full force.

Interview with Christine Chitnis (plus a giveaway!)


I am so happy to have an opportunity to share with you a recent interview with one of my writing mentors, Christine Chitnis!

I first met Christine at a Squam Art Workshop a couple of years ago. Then I became one of her students in an online class that she offered.  In the class Christine was able to give me some practical knowledge and confidence to pitch my writing, which led me to the opportunity to write a monthly School Days column for Minnesota Parent Magazine.

In the November issue of Minnesota Parent I was delighted to see a recipe featured from Christine's most recent book Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid Friendly Snacks.  As it turns out it was a surprise for Christine as well! We were both happy to have made this unique connection in print.  And, I must say, ever since I got my hands on her book, I have had a lot of fun trying out some of the recipes with my own little ones.  Most recently I made the Carmel Apples with Sea Salt & the Broccoli and Cheese Soft Pretzel Knots, both which I highly recommend!



To add to the fun, I have an interview with Christine to share with you and an opportunity for you to win  a copy of Little Bites!

Enjoy - and good luck!

Christine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

When I'm not busy writing and photographing, I can be found chasing after my two wild boys or escaping to my studio for a bit of sewing and knitting.  I am an avid home cook, passionate about feeding my family wholesome, delicious, seasonal fare.  I live in Providence, Rhode Island with my family, three chickens and overflowing community garden plot.  You can follow along on my adventures here: @c.chitnis ( or


What inspired you to write Little Bites?  Can you tell us about your collaboration with co-author Sarah Waldman on the book?

Our goal with Little Bites is to offer recipes for simple, wholesome food made from ingredients that everyone can recognize, and to leave families with the feeling that making their own snacks is easy and enjoyable.  Children think of snacks as fun, tasty, easy-to-eat foods, but we parents know that the very best snacks are all that and more: when done right, snacks give our kids a needed boost of energy and they deliver dense amounts of nutrition in a small package.  

I worked on Little Bites for a year with my co-author, though from the initial idea to publication took over two years!  As Sarah worked on the recipes, I would focus on photographing the seasons and the food, along with helping her test the recipes.  We felt strongly about writing and cooking with the seasons, instead of trying to rush the process.  I also wrote each chapter in season, which really helped me capture the seasonal feelings that I wanted to convey.


Do you have a favorite recipe in Little Bites?
I can honestly say that I love every recipe in the book so it makes it tough to pick favorites.  Since it's fall, I'll highlight a few of my fall favorites: on the savory side I can't get enough of the Roasted Pumpkin Hummus.  We eat a ton of hummus in our house, and I really appreciate this seasonal twist to add a bit of flare to our regular recipe.  When it comes to sweets, the Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies are insanely delicious!  I've had a bumper crop of carrots from my garden this year, and I'm thrilled to be able to turn them into something sweet.
Tell us about your upcoming book.
My third book will hit shelves in April of 2016.  Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet: 75 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream, Fruit-Forward Ice Pops, Frozen Yogurt, Granitas, Slushies, Shakes and More.  I'm all about healthy eating but I don't like the idea of making certain foods off-limits.  We eat dessert all the time in our family, but I make it from scratch from real, whole foods ingredients.  These frozen treat recipes are all free of refined sugar, instead relying on natural sweeteners and fruit for their flavor.  They are light, delicious desserts that you can feel good about eating, while still satisfying your sweet tooth.  It is a gorgeous book, I have to say: hardcover, luscious matte pages, and full page pictures of each recipe.  I really love Roost, my publisher, for their commitment to producing books that feel and look beautiful.  It is truly an honor to be counted among their roster of authors.
Thank you Christine!  
*photos are from - except the images of the salted carmel apples and pretzels -

To enter my giveaway to win a copy of Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid Friendly Snacks, leave a comment below:

Comments will close by 9am CST on Saturday. Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced in this post shortly after.

Comments closed - The winner is:  #8 Kelly with the comment:

Thanks for putting her book on my radar - looks like one I'd like to add to my collection. Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies? Yum.

Congratulations Kelly!- 


a hairy deal


He's here, the much anticipated bunny that will be joining me in my kindergarten class!

He is an extremely lovable, gentle,  six week old fuzzy lop.

The whole story:  Sad but true - I started the school year with our bunny "Checker" who had an unfortunate end of his life last month.   He was a great addition to our homestead in the summer months and he proved to be a wonderful addition to my classroom - offering companionship and opportunity to learn about bunny care and animal fiber.   After Checker's passing I was seeking the perfect bunny to adopt via Craigslist and found an available fuzzy lop, but it was quite a distance away.  As it turns out the seller's husband had roots in our hometown and was coming up in our direction this past week.  She volunteered her husband to deliver him late Thursday night as he was passing through town on his way to his deer camp a few miles North.

The anticipation:  My kindergarten students and I have been most excited for this new addition.  I have pretty much claimed bunny responsibility in our family and I have enjoyed the experience of harvesting and spinning bunny fiber.  In kindergarten we have turned the unfortunate experience of loosing our class pet into a learning experience, researching different bunnies and counting the days until our new bunny arrival on our classroom calendar.  Over the weekend I sent my students off with the 'homework' to come up with three potential bunny names.

The exchange:  The bunny was scheduled to arrive Thursday night around 8:00 p.m.  We had a meeting spot in town and I got there a couple of minutes early.  As I was waiting in the parking lot I noticed one law enforcement vehicle pull up in a space not too far away, then another, then one more - all idling and seemingly watching my vehicle while I was waiting for a red pickup to pull by with my class pet.  When the red pick up pulled next to my vehicle and I got to meet this adorable bunny for the first time all we could do was laugh when the police approached us with flashlights in hand, investigating what we were up to.  I put my hands in the air and expressed to the officers that I was merely a "kindergarten teacher getting a class bunny!"  It made for a humorous and eventful welcome for this bunny into my care, a hairy deal none the less!


breaths of fresh air





Our daylight hours are dwindling day.  We leave for school and work on weekday mornings in the dark and upon our return it is dark by suppertime.  So weekday adventures are limited.

I could always strap a headlamp and wander into our well beaten paths, but there have been quite a bit of yips and howls frequenting our neighborhood as of late - and that kind of hiking is just not my cup of tea.   However, I try when I can to go out at least once every weekend on a longer hike with my pup, Zeke, often loops around lakes which are serene and peaceful this time of year.  

These excursions too will be limited for a couple of weeks, now due to the open fire arms season, where the daddy will be out seeking a his own fall deer harvest.  This time of year I just have to be a little more creative getting my daily dose of the outdoors.