Summer Excursion: Cherry and Blueberry Picking

“Mommy camp” has been in full swing this summer and last week, we went back to Tougas Family Farm for cherry and blueberry picking! It was our first time picking cherries and blueberries and we had a blast! The girls thought it was even more fun than strawberry picking because they didn’t have to bend all the way down and the fruit was more accessible.

We reached the farm first thing in the morning and  headed straight for the cherries! There’s something about seeing a tree filled with ripe, colorful fruit that brings me such joy.  We picked a variety of sweet and delicious burgundy berries. The farm attendant gave us a brief orientation about the variety of berries and the right way to pick them so we wouldn’t accidentally destroy next year’s crop. The girls followed the instructions and did a great job!

Next up, blueberries! These were super easy to pick and pretty much fell right in our hands. The blueberry bushes were also the perfect size for the girls to  easily reach for the fruit. As we were finishing up, the sun started to come out in full swing. We grabbed our berries and were ready to head out of the heat.

This time around, we unfortunately didn’t have enough time to feed the goats or enjoy the playground. Instead, we popped into the farm store and bought some donuts for the road and blueberry crumble to enjoy later for dessert.

It was yet another wonderful morning spent at the farm enjoying summer’s bounty!


Adding Greenery to Your Space

House of Small Wonder, Berlin

Just like art, incorporating  greenery in your household decor can really help to liven up a space. Plants have a way of exuding fresh and healthy vibes that instantly make your house feel like home. We only brought in greenery in our house about a year and a half ago, but have been thrilled to see how it has helped transform our home into a peaceful, warm and inviting space.

Choosing plants that suit you

We didn’t have any experience with house plants when we first decided we wanted some. We just went to our local nursery and picked out some low-maintenance plants - succulents and a Snake Plant are ideal to test out your green thumb. We gradually added more varieties -- Monstera, Bird of Paradise, Fiddle-leaf Fig (that we are on a mission to save), and a few others as time went on. My husband is the one who mostly takes care of the plants, and even with his weekly work travels, our houseplants are successfully surviving! Recently, our whole family was away for a week, so my husband tried the drip water irrigation system for the first time and that worked great.

There is a bit of learning curve with some plants but it’s easily doable and so satisfying to watch them grow. Watering and nurturing our plants allows us to slow down on busy mornings and reconnect with nature. And during the snowy winter months in New England, a hint of green inside the house is a much needed change of scenery.

Houseplants as decor

Speaking purely aesthetically, houseplants are so fun to decorate any space with. Mix and match small plants in a variety of planters and create that perfect plant shelf for a beautiful reading nook. Plants are also an affordable way to decorate while you wait to find that perfect piece of furniture or art to fill up the space.

Small succulents are becoming popular gifts to bring to friends’ homes and something we’ve enjoyed doing. Our loved ones are always appreciative and thank us for bringing green into their lives. Inspired by the succulent, one of our friends added more greenery to their house and now thoroughly enjoy their plant-filled space.

Image: The Design Chaser

Plants are an easy way to make your days a little brighter. Next up, maybe we’ll try growing some herbs indoors? Share your favorite plants or herb recommendations with me!


5 chic summer outfits we love

Image: Scrap Midi in Emerald

Summer days are here to stay! Whether you're always on the go, or wish to slow down to savor the season, simple outfits that pack a punch are a must. We are loving these unique abstract prints and clean cuts for an effortless yet chic look. No accessories needed. Just throw on one of these pieces and you are good to go.

As much as I love accessorizing and mixing and matching outfits, sometimes time doesn't permit me to do so. Between work commitments and keeping the girls entertained, I've grown to appreciate the ease of slipping on a dress before dashing out of the door.  

And if you find yourself truly crunched for time, most of these outfits can also gracefully take you from day-to-night. They'll keep you cool at brunch with your girlfriends and also have you looking stylish at an outdoor summer concert that evening.

Image: Striped Kimono Jumpsuit

Image: Kelso Dress


Home is where the He(ART) is

    Chambers Austelle commissioned work

As you may have noticed in some of my previous posts, art is something I choose to incorporate in all aspects of my life. From mix and match fashion to travel and, especially, in my home. Today, I’m giving you a peek into my own collection and sharing some of my favorite pieces that I have collected over the years.

    Peter Kiel 2009

I’m drawn to art that enlivens a room, adds character and ultimately makes a space feeling inviting. When you walk into a home and see how it’s decorated, it speaks volumes to the homeowner’s personality. Art is one of my favorite ways to express myself and create a welcoming yet unique space for my family. Plus, a lot of pieces act as great conversation starters when friends come over!

    Keith Haring Exhibition Poster '84

Decorating your house with art isn’t something that has to happen all at once - it's a labor of love. Collect pieces at your own pace and buy only what you truly love as it's always personal. Art doesn’t have to be expensive either! This is where you can have fun with it, and even frame some of your kids' artwork that you can all appreciate as they grow older.

    Girls' Artwork

Where do you find art? Well, that’s the beauty of it - anything can truly be art if it makes you feel something. I love looking at antique stores, flea markets, art galleries, artists' studios and even online sites. I'll be sharing some favorite resources in a separate blog post so stay tuned!

    Peter Kiel '65

Do you have any go-to places to browse art? Or a favorite artist you’d like to share?


Strawberry Picking & Farm Adventures

This past week on a Friday afternoon the girls and I adventured to one of our favorite summer spots, Tougas Family Farm. We spent the day enjoying the outdoors, picking strawberries, playing with the farm animals and of course, eating delicious treats from the farm stand! The weather was slightly chilly but we barely noticed once we started diving into all there was to do.

Tasting the fresh strawberries was easily one of the best parts. A true summer must! Even my daughter said “Mama, these smell so fresh and are much better than the ‘grocery store’ ones!”  We also indulged on delicious strawberry shortcake and smoothies. The shortcake bowl was wiped clean in no time!

We couldn’t leave without feeding the friendly animals. The farm sells feed for $1 and my girls had a blast playing with the goats. Aside from the slides at the playground, this was definitely the highlight of their day.

It was a simple day that held a lot of genuine fun. I didn't even carry my 'real' camera so I could enjoy every minute of the farm adventure with the girls.


Weekend Getaway to Paris

I have wanted to explore Paris solo ever since I was there with my family in 2013. We had a wonderful time, even pushing our two kiddos around in strollers, but it left me wanting more. Solo explorations are truly unique. They give you the opportunity to focus on yourself and discover things in a new light. My weekend trip to Paris this May was exactly that!

Originally, my plan was to spend my three-day getaway by myself. I had hopes to explore the city, enjoy quintessential Parisian cafes and document the city through my lens. After a couple days of solo travel, however, I realized that I wouldn’t mind some companionship. Thanks to my amazing cousins A and S, we were able to pull off a mini reunion while I was there. This gave me the best of both worlds! I spent half of my trip exploring the city and enjoying photographing on my own and the other half just hanging out with my cousins -- One was visiting from Germany and the other from India en route to Germany.

Cobblestone Streets of Montmartre

Solo wanderings in Montmartre

My personal agenda involved visiting Paris flea markets (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen), walking around Montmartre, taking in all the chic and unique of La Marais and visiting a residential neighborhood to get a feel of local life. 

My husband and I have never been a fan of guided tours. We’ve always enjoyed touring cities at our own pace and in our own, unstructured way. This time, since I was alone and had to make the most of my short stay, I decided to give guided tours a shot!

I started off with a tour of Montmartre on Friday evening. Old Montmartre is where the likes of Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso had their studios. It was the hot spot for jazz in Paris, and it was where the iconic (and my favorite) street photographer Henry-Cartier Bresson walked the cobblestoned streets with his Leica rangefinder. It was a no brainer to walk and experience Montmartre. It was also fun to learn the history of Moulin Rouge, Plaster of Paris and see some of the more popular tourist destinations like The Basilica, La Maison Rose etc.

    Meeting place for early 20th-century artists

La Maison Rose

    The Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Flea markets and antiques galore

Saint-Ouen Flea Market is only open on the weekends, so I headed there first thing Saturday morning! I booked the tour beforehand and enjoyed our tour guide, Sean, and the small group of four Canadians plus a couple from Minneapolis I was paired with.

Saint-Ouen Flea Market consists of several different markets which are known for their antique art and collectibles. Some of the ones we visited are Vernaison, Dauphine, Paul Bert and Serpette to name a few. I don’t remember the exact scene in the movie Midnight in Paris but I was told one of the scenes was shot at the Paul Bert market. I’ll have to watch the movie again!

After the tour, I decided to spend more time at the Vernaison market - specifically at a vintage poster shop. I was so excited and overwhelmed, I don’t even remember the name of the shop! My online research is telling me it might have been Poster Paul. They had a massive collection of original poster art (remember my collectible poster obsession from last summer?) and lithographs by some of the most famous artists - Alexander Calder, Picasso, Matisse, Miro etc. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I spent an hour browsing and walked away with an original Bernard Villemot Bally poster (You’ll get to see it in a future blog post once it’s framed and ready for display!)

If you ever happen to be in the area, leave some room in your schedule to listen to live Gypsy jazz at La Chope des Puces.

Local gems and authentic neighborhoods

A trip to Paris isn’t complete until one visits a residential neighborhood. When I visited Cite Florale, I was greeted by a parisian cat and kids playing hide-and-seek and kickball. A true local experience. It was a quiet and picturesque neighborhood. 

Cite Florale

It was now time to head back to La Marais, where I was staying, to relax with a cappuccino and a sweet treat! (Whenever I need an early evening pick-me-up while on vacation, I can never decide if it’s time for coffee or wine!) Once I felt revived, I explored fun stores and chic boutiques of bustling La Marais before it was time to get ready to meet my cousins for dinner!

Terres De Cafe

La Marais

I was glad that I was able to squeeze in pretty much everything I wanted to do in a day and a half! I saved the museums (and more) for when I get another chance to visit with my husband and girls. There is SO much to do in Paris, even a month may not be enough!

It was now time to put away my camera and enjoy Saturday night and Sunday just eating, drinking and relaxing by Seine with my cousins.