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Modern Quilters

modern quilters: Denyse SchmidtToday, following up on my summer homestead inspiration board, we are going to take a closer look at one key piece: the quilt. Specifically, we will be looking at three top quilters who are working their own fresh, modern twists on this time-honored practical art. First up is Denyse Schmidt, seen here. I have been a huge fan of Denyse Schmidt for many years, and I actually own one of her quilts — a pattern that was sold through Anthropologie at one time. Denyse has an amazing sense of color and rhythm, which makes her quilts fresh and exciting, like modern art for your bed!

modern quilters: Denyse SchmidtDenyse grew up in Massachusetts in an area near many old textile mills, so her fascination with fiber arts started early. She studied graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and eventually found her way to quilting. She is really at the top of her game now, with a long and impressive career already under her belt — including two books, many lines of quilts, fabric, stationary, and in-person workshops. I especially love her newest book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration, which I flipped through recently in the bookstore and was aching to buy it (too many books, too little cash!) If you are at all curious about the rich history of the craft of quilting, I urge you to pick it up. It’s gorgeous. Modern Quilters: Meg CallahanNext we have Meg Callahan, based right here in Providence, Rhode Island, where she stayed after graduating from RISD. Meg’s work, while it does look very modern with crisp lines and white space, also pulls inspiration from Native American designs and the landscape of her home state of Oklahoma. I, for one, am totally smitten.modern quilters: Folk FibersAnd last, but certainly not least, we have Folk Fibers, a small scale handmade quilting biz that is the heart and soul of Maura Grace Ambrose, pictured below. Maura has an incredible commitment to seeing the entire process of creating a quilt through from start to finish — beginning with the cultivating and foraging of organic dyes, and finishing with hand-piecing quilts in her Austin, Texas studio.

modern quilters: Folk Fibersmodern quilters: Folk FibersMaura studied textile design and fiber arts at Savannah College of Art & Design, and after graduating spent time teaching, working on organic farms, and traveling around America. Her quilts are stunning, and very much her own, but at the same time they are deeply rooted in the long tradition of quilting in America.

modern quilters: Folk Fibers

Each Folk Fibers quilt comes packed up in a beautiful wooden box — now that’s what I call a perfect wedding gift!

modern quilters: Folk Fibers

So, that brings us to the end of our little survey of modern quilting. I hope if you hadn’t given quilting much thought before that this has whet your appetite! I for one love that what was once purely a practical art (how much more practical can you get than gathering up old scraps of unusable garments and stitching them into a blanket to keep warm on cold winter nights?) is once again being honored and explored by a new generation.

xo Laura

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Inspiration Board: Summer Homestead

summer homestead

Images, clockwise from top left: ; Folk Magazine; Amy Butler; Raw Vegan Blonde; The Pioneer Woman; Amy Butler; Yvestown.

Loving, craving, inspired by… Green grass and blue skies, quilts, county fairs, and cows. Lazy afternoons on the porch, picking fresh veg right from the garden. Weekend flea markets and ice cream cones. The simple pleasures and charms of an American summer.

Heather Bullard

Image: Heather Bullard

Glass blue, bottle green, milk white. Chippy furniture, old books, and old friends. Birdsong drifting through an open window. The thrill of the hunt. Tracking down that just-right find to complete a collection.

summer homestead1a

Images, clockwise from top left: Heather Bullard; Joanne Kaser; Heather Bullard; Loverly; Heather Bullard; Dottie Angel.

Ripe peaches, fresh eggs, barn parties, and knitting. Old traditions dusted off and revived for modern life. A week built around farmer’s markets, gardening, and beach days. Early morning walks while the day is fresh and the sun streams through thick green leaves.

summer homestead

Images, clockwise from top left: Amy Merrick; Dottie Angel; Dottie Angel; Folk Magazine; Heather Bullard; Amy Butler Design.

Home cooked meals, backyard chickens, a wild ruckus of patterns and color. Knitted buntings on the chicken coop, lace-trimmed skirts and patched up jeans, straw hats and wellies.


Image: Yvestown

Whitewashed floors, old wood tables, and modern wire chairs; the best of yesterday and today. Bud vases of garden flowers all around the house. Vintage tin trays, jewel-like jars of jam in the cupboards, and twinkle lights in the garden at night. The blessed summer.

Well, my lovelies, it has been awhile! I am so happy to be back blogging — I’ve missed this so much! Without giving away all of my editorial secrets (wink wink) I will say that I’ve been hard at work dreaming up some really fun posts, and I think (hope!) you will enjoy what I have in store for you. I will meet you back here on Wednesday, sound good? Happy Monday, let’s make this week awesome!  xo Laura

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Use-What-You-Have Summer Desk Makeover


It’s officially summer this Saturday, and I have been dying for a change of scene as far as my office goes. While I wish “change of scene” meant taking a laptop to some tropical isle for the next three months to work from a seaside cottage, in real life it means “let’s at least get the @#*! desk out of the kitchen!”

desk with shell

I ended up dragging an old wooden table we’ve had forever up from the basement, plunked it in a blank corner of the living room, and draped our linen dining table cloth over it (folded in half). I took the process of moving desks as an opportunity to completely clear off my workspace. Only my computer, a white table lamp, and blank notepad made the cut. Once the desk was in place I added a few shells and the last peony from our garden in a teapot. :)

And let me tell you — it feels so good to have a desk that is empty of papers and general crap. Not tropical vacation-good, but good. And the cost? Zero dollars.

xo Laura


The Surf Photography of Max Wanger

Max Wanger Photography

I have been on the hunt for something new to spice up the walls in my living room, and I’m thinking surf photos. Or maybe even just one really big surf photo. Some of my current favorites are by photographer Max Wanger — come take a peek!

Max Wanger Photography Max Wanger Photography Max Wanger Photography Max Wanger Photography

All of Max’s photos are taken in Los Angeles, which is like manna for this California girl’s soul right now. And some of his prints are available in really large sizes — up to 30×45! Visit the print shop by Max Wanger to see all of his current work.

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Swiss Alps & Traveling With Wee Ones

We just returned from a week in the Swiss Alps, and I still feel like I am floating … or maybe that’s just jet lag? Really though, this trip was one we will all remember forever, and I wanted to record a few of my favorite memories and moments, plus a few helpful tips for those of you who may be traveling abroad with a wee one. Enjoy!

Swiss Alps:: Water troughs adorned with fresh wildflower bouquets

:: The sound of cowbells and bird song.

Swiss Alps

:: Hiking everyday, even if it was just a walk down the (steep!) hill into town.

:: Fresh croissants and breads from the local bakery each morning.

:: Watching Bixby play and explore with his cousins.

Swiss Alps packing light

And a few tips…

  • Pack light. I only brought the single bag you see above, plus an empty canvas tote tucked inside. Ben brought a small wheelie bag with both his and Bixby’s clothes in it. It’s freeing! I did such a good job of packing light I ended up having plenty of room for my big camera, which I was considering leaving at home.

Swiss Alps dandelions

  • Have a mission. We started reading How to Train a Dragon before the trip, and decided there were probably dragons in Switzerland — which led to hours of dragon games and dragon hunting on the trail. Engaging the imagination is a great way to keep kids entertained!
  • Seek the best treats. Switzerland has amazing chocolates; in Italy you may want to sample the gelato from every shop; in Vienna the pastries, and so on. It’s vacation! Go a little crazy on the treats.

Swiss Alps with kids

  • Go in a group. We were so lucky to be traveling with Bixby’s cousins — it made all the difference in the world! Traveling with family or friends takes some of the strangeness out of visiting a new place.
  • Stay in a house. We had a large group, so we split up with most of us in a chalet, and the rest in an apartment. Both had well-stocked kitchens and laundry, so we were able to eat meals, relax, and wash clothes at home. It’s often more affordable than a hotel, and feels so much easier when traveling with little ones.

Swiss Alps wildflower meadow

  • Always bring a rain jacket! A lightweight rain jacket for each person takes up barely any space, can be used as a windbreaker, and is a lifesaver in places with unpredictable weather.
  • Find playgrounds. The Swiss have some of the best playgrounds I have ever seen, and they were tucked in everywhere, from train stations to mountain restaurants. Bixby got to jump on trampolines, slide down giant hillside slides, and swing on swing sets with panoramic views. Some playgrounds had gorgeous natural features, like streams for the children to splash in, and tunnels tucked into the hillside.

Swiss Alps

And a few more moments…

:: Waking to see the sunrise over the Alps.

:: Spending everyday with our family, no work, no school, no distractions.

Swiss Alps

:: Sitting in a cafe, sipping a cappuccino while listening to people speaking German.

:: Watching Bixby experience a new place, a new culture, a new landscape for the first time.

:: Riding Swiss trains and watching the scenery roll by.

:: Finally having a moment to breath, and think about big-picture things instead of being swept up in day-to-day busyness.

:: That feeling that a single week felt longer than the past month, and knowing it was because we were mindful of every moment.

And finally, a few details about where we were…

  • We stayed in Grindelwald at chalet Rivendell and Hotel Bodmi.
  • We took a day trip to the Ballenberg open-air folk museum, which was lovely (and huge!) with lots of hands-on activities for kids, like learning to saw, carve wood, and pump water.
  • The hike to Pfingstegg was a favorite, steep and a little cliff-y, but worth it as you are rewarded with spectacular views and a restaurant, playground, and toboggan run at the top, plus a lift to take you back down to Grindelwald.
  • We also took the lift to First, though at this time of year it was still a bit wintery up there! There is also a really excellent looking playground at the lower lift stop of Bort, with hiking from there as well.
  • This is my bag — I got it for this trip, and it’s my new favorite. Just the right size, super light, and the backpack straps zip away to turn it into a duffel.

The morning after we returned home, Bixby said he wanted to go back to Switzerland. I call that success! I felt like we could have easily traveled for the next month, and I can’t wait to start planning for another trip. xo Laura

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