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Come run away with me to a dreamland! I’m currently soaking in a yummy smelling lavender bath at home after putting the kids to nap and remembering my time earlier this summer at a dreamy lavender farm in North Kent. Lavender season is now over, but trust me, you’ll want to bookmark The Hop Shop at Castle Farm for next year!

lavender field farm Londonpinthis

This family-run lavender farm in North Kent is the largest lavender farm in the UK! In the summer months, the lavender fields burst into a sea of purple. It’s literally 95 acres of jaw-dropping magic. At Castle Farm, they harvest and extract pure Kentish Lavender Oil, which you can shop along with other lavender products, here on their online store.

lavender farm in Londonpinthis

Back in June, I was lucky enough to gain private access to the lavender fields courtesy of my friends at The Hop Shop, which isn’t available for everyone unless you pay for a private photography session. The public is welcome to join on lavender tours throughout the month of July every year, which includes an hour-long guided tour of the fields, a visit to the oil distillery, and photo opportunities. You can also visit a section of the fields for free without having to pay anything! Or reserve a special picnic evening in the field or an aromatherapy massage (must book in advance), which would totally make this trip one to remember. For more information, click here.

Here’s a few tips of how you can use lavender for its calming, therapeutic qualities:

  • Relax with a few drops in the bath or on a pillow.
  • Massage gently into the forehead to help soothe headaches and reduce travel sickness.
  • Use with a base oil in aromatherapy massages to help relieve muscular tension and painful joints or to induce relaxation.

Don’t forget to follow along with The Hop Shop’s Instagram for more pretty photos!

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This blog post is sponsored by The Company Store, but all opinions are my own.

When it’s hot in the Midwest, it is HOT!! Living in Chicago, you get used to really only having two seasons: brutally cold winter for six months and then a hot summer. I like to try to air out my home at the first signs of spring by opening up all the windows, but this can also make our bedroom feel a bit warm in the summertime. Just like Chicagoans are pros at switching out our wardrobes with the change in seasons, this also extends to our bedding. In the winter, I love cozy knit or flannel sheets, but in warmer months, I like to switch it up with silkier lightweight bedding.

When The Company Store reached out to me about their premium linen bedding, I jumped at the chance to try. Good quality linens are worth investing in especially if you live in a hot climate – but remember, not all linen bedding is made equally! In general, a sheet with a higher thread count will be more durable and feel softer. A thread count of 200 is a good standard, and a count of 300 will be noticeably softer. I’m a huge bedding snob – it has to be at least 600-800 thread count to touch my body!!

I always look for a nice quality sateen material, which is a cotton fabric sought after for its soft, silky touch and subtle sheen. Sateen is lightweight and breathable – perfect for hot summer nights. Noone likes tossing and turning all night because it’s too hot – and The Company Store offers linen bedding that is made to keep you cool, and your bed stylish.

I chose the Legends Camellia 600-Thread Count Egyptian Sateen Duvet Cover, which is this pretty pastel floral print in greens and taupes totally perfect for summer style. I paired it with matching 600-thread count shams. But the real prize is really the Legends 800-thread count Egyptian Cotton Flat Sheets and Pillowcases – soooo soft and smooth, and like I said before, nothing but the best will ever touch my skin lol 😉 I also accessorized the whole look with white Beekman Matelassé Shams and Coverlet. I love the quality of my new bedding!

p.s. I’m a planner! If it were up to me, summer would never end, but since this isn’t the case, it’s never too early to start planning for a Chicago winter. I ordered the Legends Geneva Down Oversized Comforter for extra warmth and can’t wait for snuggly mornings in bed with my boys!

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Put on your comfy shoes and a photo-op-worthy outfit – we’re going to explore Hallstatt, Austria! Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll want to get up early for this enchanting fairytale town.

Hallstatt is more than just a pretty town. It’s actually considered to be the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe, dating all the way back to the Iron Age over 7,000 years ago. In recent decades, Hallstatt is famous mostly for its natural beauty – and this postcard-perfect photo view of the town that is all over Instagram. Isn’t it just breathtaking? Doesn’t it just scream “Wish you were here?”

family photography Hallstatt Austria pinthis

We drove a rental car from Salzburg into Hallstatt, which took about an hour. Sandwiched between a lake and mountains (you could even say that it hugs the lake), Hallstatt is really the perfect little European town you always imagined. The view driving in: just jaw-dropping. I could have sat and stared at that backdrop all day, week, month, year! I can see why Hallstatt easily became a favorite tourist destination AND a UNESCO World Heritage site.

By now you’ll realize that you don’t actually have to do anything in Hallstatt to have an enjoyable time. Just walking along the water, looking up at the pastel houses and all their idyllic flowerboxes, and browsing the souvenir shops in the market square is a great way to spend a leisurely day. Hallstatt is really small (under 1 KM!) so this is one destination I recommend that you slow your roll and don’t rush through. Unfortunately for us, we only got to stay for half a day and this was definitely not enough time to soak up all of Hallstatt’s slow beauty. Take your time, stay at least two days, and soak it all in!

family photography Hallstatt Austria pinthis

We hired a local photographer, Carolin, for a family shoot in Halstatt. She walked us through the best local spots we would have never thought to visit. Fun fact: Carolin told us there’s a replica of Hallstatt in China somewhere, which explains why there were so many Asian tourists here! Besides the main strip, she walked us up the hill by the church and cemetery. Her MIL has a tombstone in front of the church, which you have to be VERY well connected to be buried here.

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There are picturesque views basically every which way you look. Heck, I climbed someone’s rooftop to get this shot. I also got yelled at by the owner to get off. (I don’t recommend doing this… or do I? After all, it was The. Shot.)

family photography Hallstatt Austria pinthis

p.s. Huge thank you to my photographer friend, Aline, back home in Chicago! Aline grew up in Austria and gave me so many pointers when planning for this trip. I couldn’t have done it without her!

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Every so often I find myself in a place that captivates me as much as it inspires me. Cue Salzburg, one of Austria’s most charming small cities that relies solely on tourism due to its attractive old world charm, stunning architecture, film location for The Sound of Music, and for being the birthplace of the world’s most prolific composer, Wolfgang Mozart. But as if its musical pedigree weren’t enough, the city’s natural beauty – and its proximity to other quaint, small towns like Werfen and Halstatt – is also reason enough to pack your bags – that’s why I added Salzburg to our Europe itinerary! Before I get into the details of Salzburg, let me talk a little about breathtaking Werfen first.

sound of music trail werfenpinthisWe spent three days in and around Salzburg, and I have to say, I was completely spellbound! Werfen is famous for being the location where Maria Trapp taught the Von Trapp children the “Do Re Mi” song in the classic film The Sound of Music, with the 900-year-old Hohenwerfen Castle in the background. While I must confess that I’ve never actually seen The Sound of Music myself, I imagine Werfen must be fun for history and film buffs to see up close and have a picnic in the hills like Maria. Aren’t these mountains just gorgeous??

sound of music trail werfenpinthis

Salzburg is also well-known for being one of the locations from The Sound of Music. There were definitely tourists around me singing/humming “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Salzburg is very much a Baroque city, and the streets of the Old Town reflect that. A few hours are all it takes to fall hopelessly in love with this city! Take leisure time to roam up and down every narrow side street. If you’re in the mood to shop, you might find some souvenirs or treasures along Getreidegasse, the famed shopping street in Salzburg. There are also quaint cafes around every corner, and even shops selling traditional Austrian clothing.

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Getreidegasse is a narrow pedestrian walkway – good luck squeezing your way through the mobs of people, especially around house number 9 – which turns out to be Mozarts birthplace in 1756. Bit of a tourist mill, but a quick visit will allow you to say stuff like “It was the violin he played in his childhood that really caught my eye” over drinks with your fancy friends. And while you’re stuck amongst the crowds of tourists on the main street, don’t forget to look up – the ornate wrought iron signs and the intricately carved window frames are so pretty!

travel with kids Salzburg pinthis

We stayed at the most incredible AirBNB farmhouse in Salzburg. Yes, you heard me right! Acres and acres of wide-open land, the stunning Austrian Alps in our backyard, and oh the fresh country air!! There was also a playground right on the grounds of the property for the kids to play on lest they are bored of riding on one of the cute pedal cars provided by the AirBNB host or petting the farm animals just next door.

Hope you enjoy these pictures of Salzburg and Werfen!

travel with kids Salzburg pinthis

travel with kids Salzburg pinthis

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