Ursa Major Summer Sweepstakes

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My good friends Ursa Major up in the motherland (Vermont) have launched their summer sweepstakes – a year supply of their Essential Face Wipes! I never travel without these wipes, they are deep cleansing, fresh, and good for your skin (no parabens or any of that icky artificial stuff). They’ll be drawing one winner on August 15th so follow the link to enter. And stay tuned because every weekday till then, they’ll be doing a drawing for a 20-pack of wipes giveaway. It’s what I like to call, Christmas in August.

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The Hammock

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In honor of National Hammock Day, it’s only natural that we take a look at this icon of summer relaxation. Defined as a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting that is hung between two points, the hammock was originally used by natives of Central and South America. During the Spanish Conquest, Spanish colonials noted how comfortable the hammocks were for sleep and rest. By being suspended, the sleeper was protected from the hazards of their jungle environment: snakes, mosquito bites, biting ants just to name a few. Christopher Columbus introduced the invention to Europe when he returned home with a few from what is currently known as the Bahamas. Around 1590, the hammock was adopted by sailors aboard their ships to maximize space and comfort. The navy’s canvas hammocks swayed with the ship, helping with motion sickness and keeping sailors in their beds (in heavy seas sailors would be rolled out of their bunks). It was also adopted by explorers and soldiers travelling through wooded regions as it was easy to hang the hammock between two trees, and much more comfortable than sleeping on a bed of roots.

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Today, the hammock is an icon of relaxation. Growing up in Maine we had a rope one hanging from the posts of our covered porch. I have pictures us three kids napping in it together. When we moved to Vermont, a hammock was the first thing we added to the backyard (forget garden design, a hammock takes priority). To me it’s the symbol of lazy summer afternoons swinging with a good book and maybe a dark and stormy in hand.

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If you’re looking to procure your own hammock, Ten Thousand Villages has a couple that are handcrafted by artisans in Nicaragua. Why not support a good cause while you relax.

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Aurora Shoe Co.

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I’m a girl who loves a shoe with some arch support. And I’m not ashamed of it. That’s why I’ve been wearing clogs and Birkenstocks my whole life, despite the shamers I encountered (whose laughing now?). I recently came across Aurora Shoe Co., a family owned brand out of upstate New York. They’ve been hand crafting quality footwear since 1990. Each shoe is made with American made materials, like Horween leather and Vibram soles, and handcrafted in house. Their process ensures that their footwear are beyond comfortable, supportive, and durable. And if you’re not sure of your size, you can trace your foot and send them the measurements. They may not be the trendiest styles, but they are consistent, clean, and simple – which is exactly what I like. I’m in love with the New Mexican, the ultimate summer sandal.

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Whole Larder Love x Camp Wandawega

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Australian author and blogger Rohan Anderson is returning to the US this August. He’ll be leading a weekend long cooking workshop at Camp Wandawega in Wisconsin. Over the weekend, Rohan will show you how to pluck, gut, and skin wild game, prepare trout for smoking and curing, cure pork, and the many uses of sourdough. Only 12 tickets available though, so act fast!

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Kipling’s Vermont

For those of you who didn’t know, author Rudyard Kipling had a passion for Vermont. He first came to the green state in 1892 to visit the family estate of his young American wife, Caroline Starr Balestier. The two had just been married in London and had a baby on the way. Upon arrival in the US they decided to stay and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for $10 a month. This was where Kipling would draw up the first sketches for the Jungle Books. Yet when their first daughter was born, the cottage became cramped so they purchased property from Kipling’s brother in law. Kipling then designed and had built a grand Victorian estate. He named the home Naulakha as an homage to his novel of the same name, a collaborative work of fiction with close friend Wolcott Balestier (also a brother to his wife). While living in Naulakha, Kipling wrote some of his best work, including the Jungle Books, Kim, and Captains Courageous. Kipling fondly called the secluded dark shingled house his “ship” which brought him “sunshine and a mind at ease”. He was fascinated by the outdoors and the beauty of Vermont, especially in the fall with the turning of the leaves. The family grew to love the state and may have very well lived out their years there, but tensions in their marriage and conflict between the US and UK seemed to have drove them back to England and they left Naulakha for good in 1896.

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In 1993 Naulakha was declared as one of 17 National Historic Landmarks in Vermont. Lucky for us, the Landmark Trust facilitates rental of the property, which comfortably sleeps up to 8. During your vacation you can play tennis on the state’s first court or swim in the Connecticut River. If you’re visiting in winter, why not try skiing in the meadow where the sport was first introduced to Vermont. It’s an estate with a lot of monumental firsts, which is only fitting considering Kipling invented activities like wintertime golf in his time away from writing novels.

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Editor’s note: Thanks to James Fox for sending me the video above and reminding me of this incredible property in our home state. The video is by Kate Sears during a video course with The Hills Workshops.

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