The installations of Chateau Chaumont

LES PIERRES ET LE PRINTEMPSI just got back from the most glorious trip to France (actually sitting in the airport on our last leg now!) for 10 days and I can’t tell you how many miracles happened to make it such a particularly memorable experience. Well, miracles combined with a lot of poor customer service, but that’s par for the course, I suppose. I hope you were able to follow along on Instagram and Instastories because I did a lot of documenting. A lot. But don’t worry, I’ll be more thorough here on the blog. Lucky you 😉

Flower Power festival at chateau ChaumontI wanted to start with one of the most magical experiences of the trip: Chateau Chaumont. We went to France to attend the wedding of Paul’s brother who lives in Denmark and got married to a lovely lady from the Loire region. I had done a ton of research on which chateaux to visit as we’d have a car for the first portion of our trip thanks to our friends at AutoEurope so we planned a road trip for the days prior to the wedding staring out in Brittany and Normandy and then working our way down. I knew we’d have a bit of sight-seeing time around the wedding celebrations, but, like all travel schedules, time is way more limited than you think it’s going to be–gah! The day of the wedding was one such example. We had about two hours to go do something before we had to get ready for the town hall wedding in Onzain. Instead of the chateaux I had researched, I looked on the map and noticed one just across the river–because that’s what happens when you are in chateau-land–chateaux just appear out of nowhere. We popped over and what do you know? There’s a Flower Power Festival. You can imagine my excitement. 

Las Vegas City Guide

Illustrated Downtown Las Vegas City map

I grew up visiting Las Vegas WAY more than I ever wanted to. Being from Southern California, it was always a practical pit stop on our way to other destinations. Admittedly, it’s a welcome sight after miles of thirsty desert, and for a child it’s a fantastical Disneyland of sorts. But you get into walking the strip and realize, “hey wait a minute, there’s something odd about this city of neon lights and magic shows” (alas, it may have something to do with the hundreds of naked girl fliers being passed out by men flicking them in their hands). After an unfortunate experience with my family involving not reserving a hotel for the night and ending up at a trucker motel in North Vegas and finding a surprise in the bathroom (hint: it’s not what a 10 year old should be seeing and no, it was not a dead body), I swore off Sin City. 

However, since moving to Utah it has since become the closest destination with some sort of entertainment component and I LOVE staying in hotels so we’ve been discovering the city more and more and you know what? There is WAY more than meets the eye. I recently met illustrator Abbie Paulhus who introduced me to the lesser-known and totally rad side of Las Vegas and today she’s sharing her favorite spots along with this beautifully illustrated map.

I’m so excited to get to share about this because I’m so passionate about people seeing that there’s more to Vegas than just the strip and “sin city”. Here are my favorite spots in the arts district of Downtown Las Vegas:

Cuba Travel Guide Part 1: logistics

Havana, Cuba travel guideI’ve been giving some sneak peeks away of our trip to Cuba over the past few weeks and it’s been so interesting hearing your reactions. Most are floored that we (Americans) could even go and others have mentioned that you are anxiously awaiting a travel guide because they are planning their trip too. After our experience, there is a lot we were really pleased about and other things we would have done differently.

I’m breaking the guide into two parts. One part for logistics on how to travel to and around Cuba and the other for things to see and do. I don’t normally provide traveling logistics, but because Cuba is still rather unknown to Americans, information was somewhat hard to find.

Let’s dig in.

Cuba coloring pages

Brace yourselves, because I’m going to be talking about our trip to Cuba for awhile! We took a team trip to Cuba two weeks ago, mostly Havana, and a quick trip to Trinidad as well with a special purpose in mind. I’ll be revealing more about our special purpose soon, but I thought I’d start with a few coloring pages. It’s a great time to visit as flights are super cheap. We found ours for $250 each!  I’ll be sharing a travel guide soon so stay tuned.

About 5% of Cubans have Internet and even then it’s on dial-up so it’s slow and shaky. I knew wi-fi would be hard to find, but I wasn’t prepared for such a scarcity. I thought it might be easy to pop into an Internet cafe and tell my family I was alive, but that was not the case. And somehow instead of finding the break relaxing I found it to be a bit unnerving. But, all is well and I’m alive to write about it. #problemsofablogger Instead of Internet while you’re down there, might I suggest printing these out prior to your trip to color as your traveling entertainment. There are three to choose from.

Speaking in Germany with Sister MAG

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Lars Balloon Arch

If you’ve been following along on social media (are you there?! You’re missing out on so much) you’ll know that I traveled to Cologne, Germany a couple of weeks ago to speak at the Cewe event at the Photokina conference put on by the lovely ladies of Sister Mag, Thea and Toni. I first met Thea and Toni at the first blogger conference in Europe in Berlin of 2012. They gave a great presentation and looked adorable in their custom made clothing (by their mother who designs all the clothes in their magazine) and we’ve been good friends ever since. I would do anything for them! Including jump across the pond for a quick trip to Europe (I know! So tough to do 😉

Guide to Provo, Utah

Guide to Provo Utah

This post has been a long time in the making, folks. I’ve been wanting to do a feature on Provo, Utah, where I’ve now lived for three years, but as you know, it takes awhile to feel situated and like you’ve been able to experience a lot in your town. I’m a terrible social planner. But I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for it to come out, so so sit back, it’s time to explore everyone’s top bucket list location, Provo, Utah. AND, good news, while you’re traveling to get here, you can color it in with this handy dandy coloring page, free to download.

Lars Bucket List Trip: Carl and Karin Larsson’s home in Sundborn, Sweden

carl larsson's house

larsson home

There are certain places in the world that mark your memory and change your vision of the world. Visiting Carl Larsson’s home in Sundborn, Sweden was one of those places. Sadly, when I visited a few years ago, I didn’t take great pictures, and you’re not allowed to take pictures inside. BUT! Lars contributor, Meta Coleman, captured it on a recent trip and documented some lovely details and wrote about her experience. Her story kicks off a new series called Lars Bucket List Trips where every now and again I’ll share places to add to your bucket list. Perhaps they’ll inspire you too. 

As a child I had a large Carl Larsson print in my room. It was of a girl sitting in her bedroom holding a tulip. I felt very connected to that little girl and to the beautiful day to day family life painted by Carl Larsson.

Guide to Spring City, Utah

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Guide to Spring City, Utah

A few weeks ago I was invited to go down to Spring City with some friends to celebrate Pioneer Day, a state holiday here in Utah. We were guided around the town by Spring City native, Zina Bennion, whose family settled there in the 70s and helped turn it into the artist destination that it is today. Zina is a wealth of knowledge about many things but especially about Utah history and artists as both of her parents are well-respected artists and she grew up immersed in that community. Today, we are lucky to hear the full guide to Spring City.

And you might be wondering why you even need to know about this little town in Nowheresville, Utah. I would have wondered the same thing before visiting. Guys, this place is a little piece of magic. Only this town and Williamsburg, VA are listed as complete towns on the national history registry. and Forbes listed it as one of the top prettiest towns in America. And I had never even heard of it until a few months ago. We need to change that people!

We’re releasing the guide today just in time for Labor Day, when the annual Artist’s Studio tour and plein air competition takes place. If you haven’t made Labor Day plans yet, I’d strongly suggest going!

So, without further ado, here’s Zina!

Click Retreat Caribbean

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click retreat caribbean

In January I was invited to teach a photo styling workshop with my good pal, Meta Coleman, aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of The Seas, the largest ship in the world for Click Retreat, a conference for bloggers that focuses on photography and social media in the Caribbean for a week. When I got the email the only words I saw were “January”, “cruise”, “Caribbean” and immediately responded “YES!”. We visited Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

But, what would make them think I would even like it? I mean, it’s not like the Bahamas had photogenic pink buildings everywhere or anything…

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And it’s not like the scenery was very scenic. Bleh.

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Seriously, I couldn’t find a single pink building ANYWHERE in the Bahamas! It was so BORING!

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It’s not like we had colorful props to work with or delicious fruits to make smoothies with…

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Meta and I pretended we were recently engaged and on a romantic getaway the whole time taking our engagement photos…Somehow we keep getting invited to rad places around the world…just the two of us without our families…when in Rome!unnamed-12

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World Cup bites: sonhos

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If you’re just joining in, to celebrate the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we’ll be providing some of our favorite Brazilian recipes here on the blog that would be perfect for your World Cup celebration. First up, sonhos. Sonho literally translated means “dream” and they are quite accurately named. They’re basically a filled donut, so yes, you can imagine I was all about it. I remember walking the streets of Curitiba, Brazil listening to the loudspeaker of sonho car–Brazil’s version of the ice cream truck–and wanting so much to try them. But then remembering that some stranger was selling them from a van….

photography by Laura Sumrak
food and steps by Karlee Bronson
styling and creative direction by Brittany Jepsen


Click below to see how we created them!

Meet Make Do Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the crafting retreat I attended last week in Palm Springs, Meet Make Do. Today I’m finishing up starting with a change of scenery. See this bright of colorful sunshine above? That there is the Saguaro Hotel. It comes into the story in just a bit. But in the mean time…

You might remember from yesterday that we were staying at a really awesome mid-century house, which was perfect for our needs. We all had our rooms and then a central gathering place to craft not to mention a pool and tons of beauty. Serene. Well, we returned home from dinner the second night and found that our place had been robbed. Eeeeeeek. For reals. The two little casitas in the back of the house had been ransacked. Laptop, money, wallets…gone. Two girls lost a lot of valuable stuff, not to mention a sense of safety and comfort in a new place with new people. Erin of House of Earnest was one of those and you have to read her account of it. I admire her for her amazing perspective while being in such a vulnerable position.

The police came and did their thing and because of a lack of feeling safe in our place, our hosts and our sponsor, Bing, decided that the best solution was to find a hotel to stay for the night. Through the horrible events of the night, the highlight of the situation was trying out something new. Enter Saguaro. I can’t say I was super bummed about our new locale.

Erin mentioned something in her post that was spot on. We no longer had a place to craft and do our thing AND THEN, the elements decided to turn on us and rain the next day so our plans really went out the window. BUT, the change of plans brought us closer together. We ended up spending time together chatting and really getting to know each other. Some of my favorite moments were late night chats with my roommate, Melanie from You Are My Fave and our last night together as a group gathered in Erin’s hotel room eating cheese and pretending as if we were circled at a campfire. I felt 16. I felt bonded. We talked about what it means to be generous and a good person. I can’t imagine a better ending to what could have been a truly negative experience. Have you ever come out of an awful situation feeling reenergized? It’s incredible how those things happen.

Above, the first night we ate delicious food at Workshop Restaurant. And see the name tags? All the cool writing was done by Striped Cat Studio. The next night the ladies had coordinated an amazing taco bar on top of the Ace Hotel
And we were presented with some lovely goodies like these prints from Minted.
I had really been hoping to get my hands into the amazing florals that the girls had brought the play with from Flower Muse, but sadly, because of the change of events we didn’t get to do so. Sad face. How gorgeous are these David Austen roses???

 This is the view of the Saguaro from my room.

 And Kelly matched the walls.

Back in the day I interned for Jonathan Adler and I finally got to visit the hotel he designed, The Parker, which is impeccable. So so gorgeous. I forced Ashley to take a door shot.

Now, how embarrassing was this. I brought my skirt that I found at a vintage shop years ago. I perfectly matched the bedspreads in the hotel rooms. I compare it to the time I showed up to high school on the first day wearing the same thing as my teacher, DJ Tanner style. You know what I’m talking about. I got a lot of compliments from the housekeepers.

I had to get a shot with the B. And that uncomfortable face I’m pulling is a result of rain and wind in my face.

Well, that’s it folks. A lot of really great times combined with some not so stellar moments. But I’d do it again in heartbeat.

Thank you to so many people for making it happen. Especially Chelsea from Lovely Indeed, Kelly from Studio DIY, Brittni from Paper & Stitch and BING who is the best. Also a big thank you to West Elm for providing a lot of the styling pieces we were going to use (doh!). Jordan Brantley for all the branding and all the others who I mentioned yesterday and above. Can we do round 2 please???

photography by Mary Costa Photography with some snapped from my iphone and one from @lovelyindeed

Meet Make Do Part 1

This, my friends, is how life should be:
Palm Springs pool with palm trees
Am I right? Sun, pool, oversized blow up swan. Bliss.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen a lot of pictures about the most magical retreat I attended last week called Meet Make Do sponsored by Bing.  It was a craft bloggers getaway organized by three wonderful ladies: Brittni of Paper and Stitch, Kelly of Studio DIY, and Chelsea of Lovely Indeed. They’ve been planning it for months and months and by some mystical power I made it onto their invite list. And I’m sure glad I did! 
The whole premise was for craft bloggers to come together to just make stuff. It’s thanks to the kind folks of Bing, particularly Katie and Natalie, who made it possible. Guys, I have to say that Bing is THE BOMB. They brought us a whole bunch of Surfaces for us to use as we researched our projects and I have to say that having been familiar with it for a bit now, I find the features super helpful. There’s even a travel feature that provides great info for on the go so you better believe we used it for all things Palm Springs.
As a kid my family would go to Palm Springs for a little vacation (which now I find a bit odd to travel to the desert when you live at the beach, but whatever). BUT, I didn’t know that Palm Springs was cool. We would only go to a resort and swam in the pool the whole time. I had NO idea that there were amazing houses and shops and an amazing mid-century vibe. I’ve been puzzled over the years why anyone goes there on holiday. And now I know. This place is the unreal, bizarre even. Beautiful, perfectly preserved houses and the most phenomenal shops. If only I had oodles of money to spend…
So, I arrived to this
scarf
…and I thought, “really?” 
And then I saw the house
Palm Springs mid century home with yellow door
and I was all, “Yup,” I really do.
And then I saw the crafting closet filled with all sorts of goodies that are way cooler than anything I have
closet for crafts
and then this fabric happened to me:
fabric sorting
Like Project Runway, we had a limited amount of time to create something so my anxiety levels were HIGH! I learned that I am a thinker. I dwell on things. Usually I don’t even create unless I have a really stellar idea. But here I just kind of dilly dallied (and ate and chatted) until I realized that here I am in this beautiful place with an amazing photographer, the wonderful Mary Costa,  who WANTS to shoot my projects. Then it was time to get down to business. I went through the fabrics from the brand new Fabric Store in LA, which I would be at ALL the time if I lived in LA (speaking of…why don’t I???) and Melanie from You are my Fave got down with the crepe paper from Shop Sweet Lulu.
crafting with You are my fave
Jenn Elliott of Scout blog got her craft on making a beautiful tablescape with Ashley of Sugar and Cloth. She even stitched some napkins. Erin of House of Earnest got down with the Surface to research her lovely projects.
Palm Springs crafting retreat
I mean, look at the details: huge beach balls, bright colors, SUN! I’m dreaming about it as I type while looking at the grey Utah skies.
meet make do
I was off sugar for two months and sadly it coincided with this trip so I didn’t get to try the cups of cookie dough from Edoughable. Saliva drops.
cups of cookie dough
And, we got a fabulous Swag bag full of all these goodies. I mean…look at it all! Wonderful items from Almond Milk LA, Coveted Things, Etta & Billie, Fat Eye Design, Fletcher and Fox, Landis Carey, Lovely Pigeon, M. Greenwood Jams (delish!!!), Michelle Dwight Designs, Mr. and Mrs. P, Oh So Pretty, Seoul Little, Striped Cat Studio, Twedle Dee Designs, We Love Citrus, Wind and Willow Home, World Reclaimed
goodies
And the group of ladies. Now, it’s rare to bring together a bunch of crafting ladies who are so kind and generous and overall good people. I went in knowing most of them only as an admirer, but I came away feeling like I had gained genuine friends. That’s rare, right? 
craft bloggers in Palm Springs
pool in Palm Springs with blow up swan

And I’ll leave you on this image…because again, this is how life should be. More tomorrow. You won’t want to miss it but find out the reason why we suddenly had to get up and leave this paradise. Dum dum DUM!

all of this wonderful photography is by the stellar Mary Costa, who I wish I could bottle up and take with me wherever I go.