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August Mini-Break + Vintage Life Magazine

Hello lovelies, it’s been something of a ghost town around here, so I suspect many of you are off having your own summer adventures … and now it’s my turn!

Vintage Life Magazine

We are taking a staycation and going on a short camping trip, which I’m really excited about! I will be signing off now, and we can meet back here right after Labor Day. Now, about these photos…

Vintage Life MagazineVintage Life Magazine by photographer Leonard Mccombe Vintage Life Magazine by photographer Leonard Mccombe

Aren’t they amazing? I spied the top image on Pinterest, and just had to see where it came from. Caren at Tea and Chickadees dug up a few more images from this series, which you can see right here. They were taken by photographer Leonard Mccombe, and I’m thinking maybe early 60′s? The lady is so Betty Draper!

Enjoy the last moments of summer! xo Laura


Q&A With Rachel Ashwell

Just in case you have lived under a rock for the past 20 years or so, Rachel Ashwell is the founder of the Shabby Chic brand and pretty much single-handedly created a frenzy for white slipcovers, flea market furniture, and crystal chandeliers. Recently, I did a little Q&A with Rachel Ashwell as a feature for Houzz, and I thought I would share a peek here…

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

These images, all by the uber-talented photographer Amy Neunsinger, are of Ashwell’s newest venture, The Prairie B&B in Round Top, Texas. In addition to being a delightfully cozy looking place to stay (and a stone’s throw from one of the best antiques fairs in the country) The Prairie also plays host to a number of weddings and creative events each year. Doesn’t the barn, shown above, look like a positively dreamy place to get married?

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

And then there are the cottages themselves, each of which has its own style and is filled with furniture and decor hand-picked by Rachel…

Rachel Ashwell - The Prairie

Beautiful, isn’t it? I know I would stay there in a heartbeat! But beyond the gorgeousness of the place itself, I just have to say that I hugely admire Rachel Ashwell — through all that she has done, she has stayed true to herself and her vision, and that is no easy feat. She did not have her professional life handed to her on a silver platter; she worked for it and built it piece by piece, beginning with a single shop that sold her vintage finds and handmade slipcovers. And whether or not you personally connect with the shabby chic aesthetic, I think the approach has something we can all take away: using what you have to create an environment that inspires you. Because to me, that’s what it boils down to — decorating with what you love, in an easy, unfussy way. Decorating for life the way you live it.

I asked Rachel about why shabby chic style is still appealing to so many people today, how tied it is to her personal aesthetic, and more — read the full Q&A right here.

(all images: Amy Neunsinger for Shabby Chic)


Follow Your Bliss Friday

Happy weekend, my dears! It’s time to ease into the weekend by giving yourself the gift of time to pursue something close to your heart. Go grab yourself a mug of tea and settle in for a chat … I’ll wait!

Vintage Domino Magazine

Ready? Oh good. Today I would like to discuss trying your best and putting out your best effort, no matter how small the job. Especially when you are trying to get your foot in the door of a new creative field, how you handle yourself on those first, small assignments can really make all the difference in the world. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, thinking that because you are getting paid next to nothing, it doesn’t matter much, but I am here to tell you it does!

Now, I am not saying you should ever work others for free (pretty pretty please do not do this!) but whether you are a graphic artist, a writer, a floral designer, or a decorator, you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is probably going to be at the bottom of the totem pole. But by putting in your very best effort and paying close attention to the details, you can stand out from the pack, and capture the attention of someone who can offer you a bigger gig — and you never know where that may lead.

Vintage Domino Magazine

When I first started writing for Houzz, it was because one of the editors at the time was reading my blog and liked what she saw. I had only one writing assignment per month for Houzz — but I really went all out for that one assignment, and gave it my all. And guess what? Six months down the road when Houzz was looking for new contributors to help expand the site, my name immediately came up. When I landed another writing gig for a home company, I also gave that my all, even though it does not have even close to the readership of Houzz, and again, the assignment was relatively small. But when the marketing firm that hired me needed another writer for a new client, they immediately thought of me, saying I was their “most reliable writer”.

If you are at that place where you’re just beginning to test the waters of a potential new career, take yourself seriously. It’s important to do your best work, and push yourself to think creatively, but it’s just as important to act like a professional. If you do get an assignment or an order to fill, turn it in on time, be professional and courteous, and if you are offered constructive criticism on your work, accept it graciously.

Well, that about sums it up for today — I hope I have given you some food for thought! xo Laura

(images: a few of my favorite workspaces from vintage issues of Domino Magazine)


The Ultimate Camping Kit: Part 2

On Monday we looked at a few fun pieces for jazzing up the tent and around the fire … now it’s time to move on to the camp kitchen and table. Let’s go camping!

camp gear - the kitchen

Keep things neat and tidy by stowing trash and recyclables in this rubbish bin with stand (no.1) from Snow Peak. For cooking, all you really need is one good pot (no.2), a classic cast iron skillet (no.9), sharp knife (no.7), cutting board (no.11), tongs (no.12), oven mitts (no.4), and a few tea towels (no.10) for drying dishes. For coffee and tea, you will also be needing a kettle (no.5) and french press (no.6). And when the food is ready, a few of these net food covers (no.8) would come in quite handy for keeping flies away.

camp gear - the table

And now for the table! A pretty cloth in a dark hue (no.7) is a must (or try a cute + wipeable oilcloth version). Fancy cloth napkins (no.2) would be fun, but you could just as easily snag a bunch of cheap-and-chic cotton paisley bandanas in black (no.9) and use those. Real flatware (no.3) and enamelware dishes (no.10) are essentials (don’t even think of using plastic!), and a large bread board (no.6) is a great versatile tool for serving.

For storage and organization, I love the idea of using french market baskets (no.1) to store dry goods by meal (one for breakfast, one for lunch, etc.). Just be sure to put all food away in a bear box or locked car promptly after meals … you know what happened to us when we didn’t! One of these caddies (no.4) would be lovely to store silverware in at the table between meals, and of course a flask (no.5) to take nips from, and a lantern (no.8) to illuminate the table after dark are no-brainers, right?

Whew! I think that about covers it. Did I miss anything? I hope you enjoyed these roundups as much as I enjoyed putting them together!


The Ultimate Camping Kit: Part 1

Following up on the glamping inspiration board from last week, I thought it would be fun to put together a virtual camping kit. We are big campers, so the items I picked are all ones I would love to use — and FYI, this is not in any way a sponsored post, I just love this stuff! Today I will be covering gear for decking out your tent in style, and getting cozy around the fire.

camp gear - the tent

1. Wrap a strand (or two) of battery-op string lights around your tent poles to give your site a warm glow at night … and help you find your way back to your tent in the dark!

2. While I usually prefer a higher tech, family-size tent, this canvas range tent from Kaufmann Mercantile is so charming I would be tempted to give it a try. And speaking of high tech, no matter which tent you choose, I highly recommend investing in an air mattress to go in it. Unless you are backpacking, there’s really no reason to make due with a lightweight (read: thin and uncomfortable) sleeping pad.

3. This fabric and burlap bunting would look totally adorable strung across your tent.

4. I would put a battery operated candle inside one of these Ikea lanterns and hang it inside the tent. (Never use a real candle in your tent — but I didn’t even have to say that, right!?)

5. In fair weather, I sometimes like to skip the sleeping bags and just make up the air mattress inside the tent like a real bed. It’s so comfy, and such a treat to come ‘home’ to after a long hike. I’m loving this painterly stripe bedding from Schoolhouse Electric.

6. You definitely need a cute doormat in front of your tent.

7. This is a trick I recently learned that is so helpful: bring along a lightweight, collapsible laundry basket and put it in your tent to collect dirty clothes. It makes a world of a difference!

camp gear - around the fire

And now a few things for gathering around the fire…

1. If you will be building a campfire, you need a hatchet! Don’t forget this — you don’t want to be the lame campers who can’t get a fire started because they are trying to use gigantic logs!

2. Speaking of logs, how about a chic carryall for toting them from the car to the fire pit?

3. When it comes time to roast marshmallows, instead of hunting for sticks, use a set of these telescoping forks to get the job done.

4. I am a big fan of being a well organized camper. One thing I am dying to add to my own camp kit is a nice big trunk like this one from Ikea to stow gear in. Once at camp, the trunk itself can double as a fireside table.

5. A collapsible cot is great for naps, of course, but also works splendidly as a bench seat for two beside the fire.

6. If you are going to remember one thing, make it extra blankets! Honestly, you can never have too many — the warmer and woolier, the better.

7. You’ll have to check regulations first (some camping areas do not allow hanging hammocks) but if you are able, how awesome would it be to have a hammock at camp?

What about you? What’s in your camping kit? I would love to hear!

I’ll meet you back here on Wednesday for part 2: the camp kitchen and table! xo Laura

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