The Adventure Begins Here

Our long awaited journey to London is here and we are quickly falling in love with this wonderful city.  We've been welcomed with magnificent weather while chirping birds and cascading wisteria abound.  We rarely leave the home without a picnic blanket and frequent trips to Sally Clarke's bakery are justified only by the amount of walking we do on a daily basis.  

I'm excited to share with you our treasured moments and findings from "across the pond." Over the next four months, we'll be introducing you to wonderful makers from the UK and beyond and will take you on explorations from off the beaten path.  The adventure begins here!

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It wasn't hard for me to feel right at home here where many seem to share my appreciation for gardens, songbirds and serenity.  So we've found ourselves visiting these beautiful green spaces that the English have so painstakingly maintained.  

Among the garden crowd, "bluebells" is the buzzword these days.  A pretty little blue flower that en masse, creates a blanket of periwinkle in the woodland areas.  They can be found right now in London's Holland Park and Kew Gardens.  Further afield, the National Trust has a handy guide to bluebell fields throughout the UK.

Without further ado, I leave you with a few of my favorite garden moments from our first week in London.  May these be among the first of many adventures as our summer awaits!

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The Glorious Gardner

Our beloved city is home to the enchanting Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum which is a magical place for patrons of all ages.  The Venetian inspired ambiance centers the soul and transports us to far off worlds and times while remarkable works of art are etched in our minds.  

Our British adventure begins in less than a week so our days have been filled with visiting these most treasured spaces to which we say "adieu" but only for a short while.   

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With European travels on the horizon, we've been lusting after all the wonderful creations from overseas and recently indulged in the sweetest frock from the collection of Princesse au Petit Pois®.  The beautiful pairing of a swiss dot apron and a linen dress edged with black rick rack gives this ensemble fullness and texture.  Timeless and playful, she looks as if she's jumped from the canvas of an Edwardian painting.

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A trip to our favorite museum is not complete without visiting my all time favorite artwork, John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo. The impressive scale and sultry scene always holds me captive.  It was a joy to see my daughter pay tribute to this awe inspiring exhibit in her own 'Elise' way.  

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When we were last here, photography was only allowed on the first floor around the atrium.  Just last month, they relaxed the rules and cameras are welcome throughout!  We can now leave with a little bit of the Gardner (without being mistaken for thieves!). Read more about the Gardener's missing artworks here.  It remains one of the greatest mysteries of our city.

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Rainy Day at the Museum

When it rains here in Boston, flocks of children descend upon our museums where they can expend some energy roaming exhibit halls.  We followed suit and found ourselves at the Harvard Museum of Natural History where I was pleasantly surprised by its intimate space yet impressive collection of curiosities and critters from our natural world.  From the display of colorful rocks to the menagerie of animals, I felt like we were on the set of Doctor Dolittle.

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This is the golden age for jumpsuits.  They are back in a big way for all ages and I can't think of a better silhouette for our walking toddler.  Like any Soor Ploom piece, the cut of the Frankie Jumpsuit is perfection.  Mila can move freely without restriction and the soft pre-washed linen can be worn year-round which is wonderful news for us long-suffering New Englanders.  Minikin, purveyor of the world's most enchanting children's wear, has a wonderful selection of these Brooklyn made garments including a gorgeous Minikin exclusive, this Birdie Tunic in coral.  

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I have a tendency to scoop up anything in a blue green shade which compliments Elise's eyes so this Soor Ploom Peasant Tunic was a no brainer.  Aside from the dreamy fabric and gorgeous gathering, I am absolutely loving that it can be worn first as a short dress, extending its longevity.  Fresh out of the lavender infused packaging from Minikin, Elise tells me she "smells like roses."      

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Mila is dwarfed by the museum's kingdom of creatures.  This is a wonderful place to loose yourself on a rainy day and a mesmerizing experience for curious youngsters.    

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Gifting Ideas for Littles

Whoa, hello there December!  I swear this year you were two weeks early, or maybe I just need two more weeks of you.  In any case, you're here and we're in the thick of holiday gifting.  It was both fun and challenging shopping for the girls this year.  What do you get a younger sibling who seemingly has everything she could need?  I've given a lot of thought to this and other gifting quandaries and wanted to share my little list of favorite items.  Some we've had for a while and some are newly acquired but all are well loved and hail from our favorite manufacturers.  From one maker's hands to our little hands, there is something special that transpires during the holiday season of giving.  

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1. Sarah & Bendrix Handmade Wooden Dog with Xylophone - I cannot get over this gorgeous toy which was handmade in the Czech Republic from sustainable sources.  As you pull the adorable doggie across the floor, he plays a xylophone with a darling 'ting ting.'  I'm also a sucker for sentimental packaging.  With every Sarah & Bendrix toy, a special tag reads, "I have traveled from a small factory in the heart of Europe, to be your friend. You can name me and take me on all your adventures. When you grow up, pass me on to other children, so I can recount all our tales...I'm here to stay."

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2.  Eperfa The Hillside Forest Set from Over the Ocean - These darling wooden figures were inspired by the surroundings of Lake Balaton in Hungary and the hills around Budapest.  Each piece was thoughtfully created to represent the natural world that surrounds these regions.  They in turn inspire us to appreciate and protect our own environs.   

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3. 1978 Fox Boot in Chocolate from Zimmerman Shoes - I don't think I could have imagined a more perfect shoe for Mila's first steps.  As her confidence builds and with the help of her big sister, she'll be walking before long.  These gorgeous baby booties are sturdy enough to support her baby steps and double as a beautiful heirloom decoration for baby's room.  


4. Bambi Blanket Beige in Organic Cotton from Fabulous Goose - A great gift for anyone in the family, you simply cannot go wrong with a Fabulous Goose blanket.  Thoughtful Scandinavian design paired with organic GOTS certification is a recipe for one 'Fabulous' blanket.  They have served us well, from stroller rides, to picnic settings and most recently, designated dance floors for indoor lip sync parties.  

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5. Sugar Plum Adventure Belt from Oma + Jo - We've been eyeing these adventure belts from Oma + Jo for some time now so when they came out with a (gulp) shiny purple version, there was no hesitation.  We are at the age of favorite colors and purple rules the roost these days.  With a little hint of glitz and a big appetite for adventure, this belt has quicly become a favorite place to stash our treasured findings.  

Among the Trees

Mila is now ten months old, sporting two bottom teeth and a constant smile.  At just over 15 pounds, her size fools most but her physical determination is unmatched.  With one leg out front and the other bent at the knee she'll crawl out of sight in the blink of an eye.  So how do you get a baby like this to stay in one place?  Stick her in a tree!  With leaves and twigs to explore, she's perfectly content with her tree trunk position.  While Elise could spend her day playing indoors, Mila is most certainly our outdoor explorer.  

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With a baby this petit, I was eager to fill her wardrobe with the coziest of knits and easy layering pieces like this gorgeous Misha and Puff tunic dress and wool Briar Handmade bonnet.  We've been eyeing this lovely bonnet brand based in the Pacific Northwest for some time now.  The details are darling, down to the Liberty of London print ties that stay perfectly in place.   

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To keep Elise's noggin just as toasty, I reached for her new Peppermint Pine Fair Isle hat that we custom created with the help of knitter extraordinaire, Megan.  For me, knitting is therapy and one of my great escapes but it seems I never have the time (I am a rather slow knitter!).  I am also a bit of a yarn snob so I was super excited to find Megan's beautiful creations made with the the softest acrylic and wool blend in a array of delicious colors.   

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As of late, Elise has been toting around a doe that lives peacefully inside a medicine bag made by Marie of Leather Treasures in Martha's Vinyard.  She's at that age when little treasures like this doe, bring great comfort and joy just knowing they are near.  

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Misha and Puff is a long time favorite in our house and you could say we were waiting (not so patiently) for their fall release this year.  Thankfully one of our favorite retailers has a wonderful selection of these pieces.  Thank you Minikin for somehow always reading my mind!  

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If these walls could talk...

We welcomed November by visiting a special place that is always in bloom.  This was Elise's first time at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and my second which is a bit embarassing given our proximity to this extraordinary Boston landmark.  Upon entering you sense you are in a magical space full of enchantment and mystery.  Oh if these walls could talk!  Would they reveal any clues as to who may have pulled off one of the greatest art thefts of all time?  

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Well I can assure you it wasn't us!  We're too busy playing dress-up in this gorgeous dress by Soor Ploom.  The delicate pinwhale corduroy in a subtle rose color is quite possibly the perfect combination for Elise's fair tone in the winter months.  It is easy to wear and the gathered empire waist is perfectly precious for a little girl.  What's more, this dress has pockets to keep her treasures close and hands cozy.

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What is an outfit without a pair of Zimmerman Shoes?  If you follow us, you'll know we're huge fans and can't really get enough of these beauties.  The Milo boot in chocolate is a staple and they pair well with most everything we own.  The chocolate nubuck leather is velvety soft.  If you haven't already, do check out their new holiday colors of evergreen, cranberry and gold, oh my!

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Guarded by its secrets, this museum prides itself on keeping everything intact just the way Isabella left it.  And in a symbolic move, they have retained empty frames where the stolen artwork used to live.  My favorite piece is without a doubt El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent.  I could come here just to see it and leave satisfied.

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The museum is incredibly child friendly and invites young visitors to partake in a scavenger hunt.  Elise was given a map of the museum with thumbnail images of different works she was tasked to find.  I was truly amazed by how excited she was to play and her ability to decipher which painting matched its picture in her book.

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And while you can't wander into the museum's lush central atrium, you can sit on the edge and dream which is just what we caught ourselves doing.  

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At Play in the Windy City

We're a lucky bunch.  A couple of our favorite people call Chicago their home and we get to pay them a visit from time to time in their glorious city.  Over the years we've visited during the bitter cold of winter and my husband and I even ran a marathon during a late fall heat wave.  You never quite know what you'll get here.   Our most recent trip however coincided with some of the most perfect weather I've ever had.  


Two days before we left for our trip, a highly anticipated delivery came from Zimmerman Shoes.  These handcrafted beauties made their way from Eastern PA to Boston and got right back on the road to join us in Chicago.  They are made from the softest suede that you can imagine in the richest of tones.  And please do not glance over the laces.  Its not a detail I normally notice but these are truly something special.  They tie up like a charm into a neat and tidy bow and remain that way even after a day of walking the city.  


Elise was asked to collect some leaves and nature for a class project at school this week so we got right to work scouring the streets of Chicago for some unique items to bring home.  The colors of her findings made a perfect match to her fall ensemble.  It is the age of twirly skirts and tutu dresses but that all becomes so much more tolerable when we come across gems like this beautiful rust colored piece from Alaskan brand, The Tame Fox.  It is one of those garments that adds depth to a wardrobe without even trying and the construction is beyond amazing!


Every winter season we acquire one pair of tights that seem to work well with almost everything.  The accessory of the season for us has to be these Caramel Baby & Child Pointelle Tights.  I first noticed these lovely tights on a fall campaign for one of our favorite collections.  After some digging I came across the source and ordered a pair straight away.  Caramel Baby & Child is without a doubt one of my favorite stores to visit during our travels.  We've stumbled across them in Tokyo and New York and each location offers lovely treasures for all the littles in your life.  


It is hard to imagine this backyard oasis is in the center of a bustling city!  The vegetation is lush and the decor is inviting.  We always feel right at home in Chicago thanks to wonderful friendships and magical spaces.  


The hills are alive!

Apologies in advance for putting that song in your head.  Over the weekend we visited our musical neighbors in Vermont at the Trapp Family Lodge.  They are situated in the hills overlooking Stowe valley, how appropriate.  Over the years we've found ourselves enjoying their outdoor concerts in the meadow or snowshoeing uphill to a log cabin for some hot cocoa and a banjo picker.

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With children we now opt for a bit less adventure and planning and went on a Scottish Highland cattle tour which in my opinion was just as much a feast for the senses.  You can get pretty close to these wonderful creatures, but just be sure to watch where you step!

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It started to mist a bit but there was no way we were going home before checking out the greenhouse.  Elise was one with the gardens in her rose hip dress by Duns Sweden.  What don't we love about Duns Sweden?  They're producing clothing from wonderfully soft GOTS certified cotton which is music to my ears.  They  also maintain full transparency with the consumer regarding the production process.  I just loved scrolling through these photos on their website which introduce us to the people who make each piece. 

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I might be a little late to the game here but did you know there is an organization called Fashion Revolution that is dedicated to promoting ethical production and sustainability in the fashion industry?  Duns Sweden supports their efforts and I think that's awesome.  Loving the hashtag #whomademyclothes!

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When I was pregnant with Mila, I purchased an adorable pair of baby moccasins at an artist fair in Martha's Vinyard. They were made from the softest deer skin leather.  She's been wearing them lately now that the temperatures have been falling and they stay on like a charm.  I tracked down the maker, Marie of Leather Treasures MV and found the sweetest medicine bag that has the perfect amount of room for a few tiny treasures.  The best part?  We got to pick a color for the Czech glass bead that adorns the front for a personalized touch.    

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A hunting we will go...

We were on the search for the perfect pine cones and acorns which we'll use as decoration for a new mobile in Mila's room.  Not quite sure yet how this will all unfold but at least we have a good stash of found objects to start spinning our creative wheels.  This is my favorite time of year to venture into the woods.  No pesky mosquitos to shoo away and fewer people means we can take in all the quite noises of nature.

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Just past the site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond, we came across this majestic tree that seemed to be lit up by a ray of light.  It felt fitting that we say hello.  These are the unexpected treats we find when we go exploring and they never get old.

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Doesn't this dress remind you of a tropical island?  Well it flew all the way from Hawaii from the skilled hands of Naisish Handmade who creates lovely one of a kind pieces sold exclusively through Instagram. The colors and embroidery on this piece make it a favorite in our household.

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Elise carries her findings in a woven basket by April Showers which was purchased at our favorite online retailer, Minikin.  When its not being used to collect woodland treasures, it makes for the perfect storage for her dolls' wardrobe.

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Believe it or not, both my husband and I have brown eyes. Crazy huh?  These baby blues came from a blue eyed grandparent on each side.  Now back to work on that mobile...

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Up up and away

Yes it is September and yes we should be looking forward to the excitement of fall but its also a time to reflect on the wonderful adventures we had this summer.  On one hot balmy day in July we attended one of our favorite events in Vermont, the Stoweflake Balloon festival.  This was Elise's second year in attendance and she was just as upset as she was last year when the balloons eventually took flight.  She doesn't like it much when she sees a stray balloon in the air as she empathises with the little hand that may have lost it.  We watched take off after take off of these majestic aircrafts and down below there was a little girl shouting "no balloon, don't go, stay! come back balloon!" I couldn't help but smile.  

Elise's Wren and James dress has been a favorite of ours this summer as mentioned in a previous post.  The cotton is crisp, the colors are bright, the style is classic.  The perfect outing dress for any number of occasions.  


In case you're wondering, she did eventually get over her initial angst as we repeatedly told her that the balloons would land and come back home.  See we're a little weird about keeping track of our "stuff" with the growing number of toys and hair bows, there is a continuous inventory being taken at our house so frankly I'm not surprised that she was afraid the balloons would be lost.   


New England summers typically linger a bit longer than we anticipate so I'm hoping that means we'll be able to get more wear out of this dress and these sandals before the chill settles in.


Everything old is new again

Our New England travels took us on a last minute trip to my hometown in Connecticut last week and we all soaked in some grandparent pampering and fresh air.  I came back with a treasure trove of dresses and tops from when I was Elise's age.  For the most part, they are timeless, classic pieces and I can't wait to repurpose them.  Others scream the early 80's but lucky us, that late 70's early 80's vibe is back big time this year.  

The little dress that Mila wears below is from our favorite store for vintage clothing, Mary Beth Hale's Etsy shop.  I first ordered some items from her when my husband and I were in search of Halloween costumes for a party last year and I was blown away by the quality and pristine condition.  


This little dress has the perfect amount of smocking and embroidered rosettes.  I love that some of my favorite photos of Mila at this age are with her in this simple piece.  


Apparently Elise's floral dress was a favorite of mine when I was her age.  It was the first of my own vintage finds that she reached for.


If you're on the lookout for vintage children's clothing, you may run across sheer white dresses similar to what Elise has on below.  I'm guessing they were worn with a slip underneath or perhaps they were undergarments.   For our purposes, they are delicate, airy works of art from times past that are perfect for hot summer days.  This was another find from Mary Beth Hale's shop and one of my favorite pieces.  I imagine Mila will wear it as a dress not too long from now.  


Its fitting that Elise's blouse pairs so well with shorts from a brand named Tocoto Vintage.  The blouse that Mila wears above is also from this nostalgic children's brand.  In fact the brand was conceived from a love of antique patterns and clothing.  The collection can be purchased at Minikin in the U.S.


Thankfully it is still sandal weather and these classic Stevie sandals by Zimmerman have been good to us.  Fall we be here soon so on the to do list this week is to measure Elise's feet for our next pair.  Tough part is deciding which of these beauties we'll be ordering!  


An approach to Minimalism

A favorite blog of mine, A Merry Mishap, recently drew my attention to an interesting article called 'The New Minimalism' from The Spaces.  It discusses minimalism in the digital age and how this influences what we choose to acquire.  The idea that we use "the absence of things to enhance the meaning of what we choose to retain" speaks to me on a personal level and can be translated in a number of ways.  The piece also discusses how we choose those things we hold dear and the growing desire to bring handcrafted, personalized items into our lives that maintain their quality over time.  

I feel very connected to this practice of consumer behavior and perhaps it has a little something to do with how I was raised.  My Mother shopped for our family with this same mindset and wouldn't you know, decades later, we now have lovely clothes and toys that my own children can enjoy.  These dresses stood the test of time and look like they were purchased yesterday.  They epitomize the definition of heirloom.


With Elise in one of my favorite childhood dresses, it felt fitting that we visit a special place that I've been going to since I was her age.  The towns of Warren and Waitsfield Vermont haven't changed much over the years.  Institutions like the Warren Store and All Things Bright and Beautiful help maintain a small town charm that is hard to top.  


All Things Bright and Beautiful (pictured to the right below) is every child's fantasy.  It was a tradition in our family to visit this unique store year after year and on occasion to come home with a special bear friend.  The owners are a delight.  If you wander in with some extra time to spare, they'll tell you wonderful stories of the bears that live here.


Elise is wearing another favorite dress of mine which has a classic floral appliqué on a simple silhouette.  If you're on the lookout for vintage, please check out Mary Beth Hale's shop.  She has a discerning eye for timeless pieces that have little to no signs of wear.  


Blueberry Bunny

People often ask me what there is to do in Vermont over the summer.  Many know northern Vermont as a winter playground in the cooler months.  After all, skiing is what brought my husband and I here years ago.  Well, beyond the hiking, river swimming, craft beer tasting, and outdoor concerts, you can add blueberry picking to the list.  This pick your own blueberry farm is only a short drive from downtown Stowe, accessed by a windy dirt road reminiscent of a fairytale forest.  

Speaking of fairytales, this red corduroy cape from Tortoise and the Hare seems as if it has jumped out of the pages of a favorite bedtime story.  Not all reds are created equal and this one is divine.  It is the same color as the barns here in Vermont, a wonderful muted red that pairs well with everything.


If you're looking for the perfect transitional piece for Fall, this should be at the top of your list.  The cape is lined with a soft bamboo fleece that is oh so cozy.  I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, these pieces are cut to perfection.


Oh Willaby how we love thee!  After years of buying leggings in every color and length for Elise I was so excited to find a pair of summer pants that weren't skin tight and had the perfect amount of slouch.  The cotton is airy and soft and looks incredible wash after wash.  I adore everything this brand stands for and their commitment to high quality, ethically produced items.  Check out their story here and swoon over their new fall pieces.


Have any favorite blueberry recipes?  Please let me know!  These berries are in our freezer waiting to be eaten.


At home in Boston

I'm the only one from our little family who wasn't born in Boston but I've grown to love it all the same.  The ever enchanting Public Garden is home to our treasured Make Way for Ducklings statues and Swan Boats.  If you're a local or just passing through, this park has universal appeal and is not to be missed.  Beyond the parks and history, our city has a strong creative energy that is truly embraced by the community.  As you can imagine, its always fun to discover new makers and brands that call Boston their home.  

During our recent trip to Nantucket, we discovered Smiling Button, a playful children's label born and bred in Boston.  I knew right away we'd be devout fans.  Adorable prints paired with classic styling make for timeless pieces.


Our little lady never stops and this day was no exception.  From the park to the library, her dancing feet were happy all day in our favorite summer shoes which were designed and manufactured in Pennsylvania by Zimmerman.  Read more about our admiration for this shoe manufacturer in my Endless Summer and Little Wanderer posts.  


Well hello there Mila!  This little peanut knew nothing but snow for the first few months of her life and is happy to be spending her summer in sleeveless rompers.  We occasionally run across wonderful handmade labels on Instagram and have fallen hard for Seababy.  Moriah makes precious items from vintage and high quality fabrics.  I just love that this little romper is fully lined and has an adjustable back tie that allows it to grow with the child.  


Elise's Peter Beaton hat (as mentioned in a previous post), is another born in Massachusetts label.  It now seems to be her go to hat for sunny adventures.   


Little Wanderer

Prior to Mila's arrival earlier this year, our travels took us around the globe with a child in tow.  Now with two, our limitless possibility of destinations has come to a screeching halt for the time being.  Instead we've taken longer and more frequent trips to Vermont and rediscovered our own backyard.  There is a wonderful pedestrian trail in Stowe, VT that covers five miles of picturesque terrain and offers us the opportunity to explore the outdoors without going too far off the beaten path.


For those who read my previous post, Elise's Zimmerman shoes need no introduction.  Tried and true, they take us from one adventure to the next and have been without a doubt our go to shoe for every occasion.  They didn't require any break in period and on numerous occasions she's told me they are "so comfy cozy."  Yep, can't beat a comfortable shoe, no matter how old you are.


Romper, sun suit, play suit, call it what you want, we can't get enough of them.  I purchased this Dagmar Daley sun suit on a whim and love everything about this piece. The gathered torso and puff shorts have a uniquely vintage feel and we get compliments every time she wears it.   


There isn't a season when this neck of the woods isn't stunningly beautiful although take caution on that wooden bridge when it snows!


Endless Summer

Temperatures are back in the 90s this week in Boston and humid, my least favorite weather combination.  The girls needed a break from the AC so we took a stroll along the water where you can pick up a bit of a breeze.  Our city has many selling features, but to be a short walk away from this beautiful park along the river is at the top of my list. 


Typically this time of year we're gearing up for Fall and getting excited to do some back to school shopping but I'll miss the ease of our summer wardrobes.  No hats and gloves to keep track of, or wondering if we left the house in enough layers.  If its 90 degrees out, there's no guesswork.  An easy summer blouse by Soor PloomVierra Rose drawstring chambray shorts and our favorite shoes by Zimmerman.  


We're a family that is hard on our footwear.  If worn frequently, most of our shoes last a season or two, tops and very few of Elise's will be handed down to Mila as a result.  I don't know what their secret is, but Zimmerman shoes LAST.  The pictures don't lie, they still look new after almost daily wear on three year old feet.  If you want to feel good about American manufacturing and a small family owned business, please read their "About Us" page.  Now back to that Fall wardrobe... we are obsessing over these gorgeous Scalloped Mary Janes and the Milo Boot in Cheeta.


Painting Rocks

I've been fortunate to spend some quality time with the girls in Vermont this summer.  Away from the distractions of the city, we've been exploring the nature around us.  It was sunny and humid on this particular day and although we needed to get out of the house, I didn't exactly want to be baking in the sun.  We collected some rock friends along our drive into town and gave them each a home in our egg carton.  With acrylic paints, Elise gave "faces" to her rock friends.  They took on their own personalities over hours of pretend play.   


Elise in our favorite summertime dress by Soor Ploom.  If I could get my hands on more colors, I would have but they sold out quickly this year.


Mila is taking it all in.  The girls have lived in these matching Soor Ploom pieces this summer.  The fabrics are wonderful and have the softest touch.  I also find the fit of these pieces to be spot on.  They fit far longer than you would imagine and Elise can wear multiple sizes in both the tops and dresses.


A small town 4th of July

Our 4th of July was spent in Northern Vermont.  Two parades within a couple miles of our home, face painting, t-shirt making, flag waving and near perfect temperatures made for a memorable holiday weekend.  

Wovenplay made a special run of these gorgeous fourth of July dresses this summer and we were lucky enough to snatch one up.  The organic fabric was hand printed and is just stunning in person.  Best of all, Elise loved wearing her special "star dress".