Fresh air and a nice break

Bow Lake, New Hampshire “Keep close to nature’s heart . . . and break clear away once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”  — John Muir

Lake Tahoe

Well THAT was lovely. I hadn’t originally intended to take that long of a break from the internet, but you know what? It was great. I highly recommend it.

Exeter, New Hampshire

We crammed all of our summer travels into back to back family visits over the better part of the last two weeks. First with my husband’s parents and brothers in New England, as previously mentioned. We stayed in a great AirBnB rental near their home in Exeter, New Hampshire which was cheaper that two rooms at the local generic motel and gave us a lot more room, not to mention had a LOT more personality! It was build in 1750 and came complete with tight stairways, sloping floors, and this awesome retro crazy quilt in one of the rooms.

Orchard House

We made a few more stops in Massachusetts so see Lexington, Concord and Boston before heading home. Highlights included Louisa May Alcott’s house with my own little women. I’d been many years ago, but it was extra fun to go with them.


Our last day was spent in Boston on the Freedom Trail. I’m a total sucker for history and Boston has it in spades. I love that place. Not to mention Dunkin Donuts, pizza in the North End, and cannoli’s from Mike’s Pastry. Not only are they part of the authentic Boston experience, they work as great motivational tactics. (And not just for the children).

Lake Tahoe

From there we came home, had two days to catch-up on our (my) sleep and laundry, re-pack, and load up the car to drive to Lake Tahoe where we met up with my parents, all my siblings, and their spouses and kids – 24 of us all together.


I grew-up visiting Lake Tahoe with my family multiple times, but this was the first time I’d been back in over 20 years. I’d forgotten how much I loved it.


Most of our time was spent playing at the beach. We did drive over to Emerald Bay one day and hiked down to Vikingsholm – a summer house built by a wealthy woman in 1929.


The house is inspired by Scandinavian architecture and full of beautiful details. The charming house plus the amazing setting and I’m ready to move in any day now. Just waiting to convince the State of California to let me.

sewing at Lake Tahoe

I brought my orange peels and cross-stitch to work – and I got some done in the drive across Nevada and a little at the beach – but not much to be honest.  It felt good to just hang out and talk to family. And now it’s back to reality catching up on laundry and life. But that’s fine too. We only have 3 more weeks of summer vacation (I can’t believe it.)

Emerald Bay sunrise James Udall

And here’s one more parting image of Lake Tahoe (that I didn’t take). Sunrise over Emerald Bay by my brother James. You have to pay the price (waking up at 4:00 am) to get pictures like this, so I’ll have to live vicariously for now. If you need a chance to “climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods” vicariously, check out his other amazing nature photos. You can practically smell the wildflowers and inhale fresh air.

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  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 6:26 am

    It’s amazing how beautiful both sides of the country are; thanks for sharing such lovely pics! My family get-together this past June was in Hiawassee, Georgia, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was beautiful – lots of trees and topographical relief! – but I was happy to get back to Texas and the wide-open skies. Also, as much as I enjoyed the hikes beneath large, leafy trees or relaxing by a cold mountain stream, I was so glad to get back home and get back to sewing!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I would take the Lake Tahoe setting over the other although that old house you rented looks magnificent! Looks like you had some much needed R & R

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 6:45 am

    I always relish the times when I get to go “back home” to the Northeast. I’m a Philly girl and enjoy visiting the area colonial historical sites. Oddly I’ve never been to Boston but it’s on my bucket list. And I haven’t been west much at all…so I’ll have to add Lake Tahoe to that list at all. I’m so glad you enjoyed your break with your family.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      I’ve always loved the NE and so I feel lucky that I married into a New England family that gives us a great reason to go! I just wish it were a lot closer!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Such a great vacation! The beauty of your photos, the sights, the great time with family, and home again 🙂

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 7:52 am

    We are planning a 2017 family reunion and this cabin & beach look divine. Mind sending me the rental contact info? Is it a VRBO? And I may just watercolor your brother’s sunrise capture.


    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      We rented a bigger cabin off the beach in Tahoe Meadows. It’s so great – feels like you’re out in the wilderness. My mom’s best friend from 50 years ago is the one with the cabin directly on the beach. It was within walking distance of where we stayed and was SO great! Tons of room for kids to run, dig, and play. Check out Tahoe Meadows. (It’s on the south shore.) I don’t know if this particular cabin rents (and it’s small) but there are other properties that do – and there’s a private ‘community’ beach for the cabins in that subdivision.

  • Reply
    Sandra B
    July 29, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Sounds like you have had a wonderful time! Lots of relaxation and family time. Thanks for sharing! I checked out your brother’s photos….beautiful!! Thanks for sharing the link!
    Glad you enjoyed all your destinations and that you and your family are safely back at home.

  • Reply
    Jackie M
    July 29, 2015 at 10:41 am

    We to spent a week on a mountain lake in NH. The air is wonderful!
    Love your pics.
    Always, Jackie

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks, Jackie. I love those NH Lakes!

  • Reply
    Brianna Robertson
    July 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Sounds wonderful, Amy. I’m a teacher and fortunate to have a family cottage close to home. I’ve been spending a week there, coming home to catch up on laundry, groceries and errands, then heading back. Good for the mind, body and soul, I think. We’ve been enjoying board games and paddling around and I had a nice break from blogging too.

  • Reply
    Melissa Corry
    July 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Sounds like an amazing set of vacations!!! So happy you got some wonderful time away with your family 😉 And I saw on instagram that you aren’t near as busy on Sunday anymore, how is that going?? Oh, and by the way, your brother has Mad Skills with a camera!!! His portfolio is absolutely stunning!!! I love art history and he has captured some of my favorite architecture in such an amazing way!! Wow, just Wow!!!!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Life still feels chaotic right now, but I keep hoping that when school starts, I’ll notice a difference. At least a little! 🙂

  • Reply
    Elsie Pop
    July 30, 2015 at 5:09 am

    Looks like you’ve had a fabulous break – these pictures are great. xx

  • Reply
    Pam Tocornal
    July 30, 2015 at 5:43 am

    What a great summer you all packed in. Thank you for the beautiful pictures done by your brother. Is he a professional photographer? I loved the return trip he gave me to Australia…loved it!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      July 30, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      He’s not a professional photographer yet, but I think he’d like to be one day!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Your pictures are beautiful! I can tell you had a wonderful time. I went to visit my mom for four days and she’s only an hour away. I took some handwork and got a lot done because I had no internet connection. I could talk to my mom while stitching and not feel rude. She doesn’t sew, has trouble with her vision, but I showed her what I was accomplishing and she could see well enough to appreciate it. We never once turned on the TV or radio, and I really didn’t miss and of it!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Amy, what a great chunk of summer–and gorgeous photos. Maine, NH, Boston, Lake Tahoe–and best of all–family! I see why you loved Vikingsholm–aside from the wonderful architecture, I see quilt patterns everywhere! And school starting soon–well played!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Wow! Thank you for sharing some of your holiday events along with the beautiful photos. It’s wonderful that you enjoyed such a variety of locations in one vacation and got to spend time with your extended family too.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Looks like a wonderful trip. I love the New England area and would love to venture all the way up to Maine one of these years.

  • Reply
    Rebecca grace
    July 30, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I’m glad you and your family had a nice vacation! Like you, I brought some hand sewing when my family went to the beach last week, but there was a strong breeze off the ocean and I was worried my little applique pieces would get blown away and I’d be chasing them all down the beach! Ah, well — cooler weather will be here before we know it, and we will get that stitching done eventually. Summer vacation is going to be gone before we know it.

  • Reply
    Vintage and Antique quilts, blocks, and restoration - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    August 12, 2015 at 9:46 am

    […] our trip last month, we visited one of my favorite places to stop when we visit family in New England, […]

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