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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah Fremont

How Sarah Fremont’s Scandinavian Roots Inspire Her Pattern-Filled Home (and Her Tips for Filling Your Home With Pattern, Too!)

Sarah Fremont isn’t afraid of pattern. Where others might opt for quiet and neutral, Sarah goes bold. In Sarah’s world, there is no place in her home that is not perfectly suited for wallpaper, whether it be an accent or wall-to-wall pattern. “I am drawn to the whimsical and cheerful and really making my home a cozy snuggery using patterns, colors (particularly reds and blues), and yummy textiles,” says Sarah—a tendency she credits to her Scandinavian heritage. Raised in Wayzata, Minnesota, Sarah was surrounded by Swedish culture and spent much of her time at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, “partaking in all the crafts, celebrations, and foods, and being a bit wistful that I was not Swedish.” It wasn’t until her 30th birthday, while researching her ancestry online, that she discovered that in addition to her Norwegian roots on her mother’s side, she was, in fact, second-generation Swedish through her paternal grandmother. “It was such a delicious discovery for me,” Sarah recalls. “It was really the beginning of me embracing that side of my heritage.” With her Danish husband by her side, Sarah began to infuse her home with Scandinavian-inspired design elements. “This has informed and influenced my choice in housing decor,” she says, “and when I am considering rooms and spaces I definitely consult all of my Carl Larsson books.”

Today, Sarah and her family live in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico after recently selling their Texas home. “My husband traveled internationally a lot before the pandemic hit and, like everyone else, he shifted to working from home during the lockdown,” says Sarah. “It was during that time that I read to my children a picture book biography of Georgia O’Keefe and I became completely drawn to (obsessed with!) the New Mexican landscape. I just had to get there.”

While her fixer-upper home in New Mexico had long been abandoned, it “was once an architectural beauty with all of the traditional New Mexican elements: brick floors, wood ceilings, and stucco garden walls,” says Sarah. “We are in the process of lovingly restoring this home and I am looking to the homes and gardens of O’Keefe for all of my inspiration—with a Nordic flare!” Much of that Nordic flare has come from pattern, particularly wallpaper. An avid gardener (she writes and photographs gardening articles for a girls’ magazine), Sarah often draws inspiration for inside her home from what’s just outside it. “I like my garden to have the same whimsy and cheerfulness as my home: vegetables mixed with flowers, delightful garden trellises painted red, sprawling vines, and fairy lights,” she says. “As a result, I am definitely drawn to wallpaper that has garden and nature elements.”

After many rooms filled with many patterns, Sarah has picked up more than a few tips and tricks for using wallpaper to create beautiful spaces that feel like home. Here are just a few of her favorites:

  • “I start a folder in Pinterest for each room that I am considering wallpapering. Start collecting ideas so you can see a common theme for where you are heading. Be specific in your search field with words like: red, blue, small floral, dark floral, Scandinavian, bohemian, nature, folk, mural, etc.”

  • “I prefer accent walls for hallways, entries, stairwells, and backs of shelving. These pass-through areas are perfect for the bold patterns you may be hesitant to use elsewhere.”

  • “I like wall-to-wall wallpaper in bedrooms and bathrooms. I had initially done only two walls in a bathroom but went back and did the entire room and it felt much more finished and cheerful.”

  • “Do not be afraid to put nail holes in your wallpaper to add art. Think of the wallpaper as the first layer. Art can be a great way to break up the pattern and add a lovely second layer to the walls.”

  • “I’ve used wainscoting on the lower half of the wall and wallpaper on the top half. Less wallpaper is used and it makes for the coziest room.”

  • “Do not be afraid! Wallpaper is not permanent, so do not think you have to find the most perfect wallpaper in the universe before you go for it. If you tire of it or change your mind down the road, it can be removed.”

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  • Sarah Fremont

Sitting on our porch one summer afternoon, my friend glanced at our garden and cried out, “Ooooh! That is one of my favorite things to eat. They are so good stuffed and fried, and now is the perfect time to pick them!” I was a bit confused. There was absolutely nothing in my garden ready to be harvested. “Goodness! What are you talking about?” I replied. “The squash blossoms!” she exclaimed. “It’s a little time-consuming to prepare, as you have to carefully remove the pistil from the center of the flower, but after dipping the flower in batter and frying, the petals turn deliciously crispy. I serve them with salt and pepper and eat as soon as possible.”

The first recorded mention of edible flowers was in 140 B.C. Calendula was used in salads dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, violets were crystallized by ancient Egyptians, the bitter herbs mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible included dandelions, and during the Renaissance they drank rose-petal water and ate stewed primroses.

Eating flowers was not a new notion for me. Roaming the wild fields of Indiana as a child, my best friend Elizabeth fluttered around like a magical fairy sampling various flowers and sharing with me all her enchanting knowledge about what was edible and what was most definitely poisonous. I was completely in awe of her herbal astuteness and was determined one day to know as much as she did. Now that we live on six acres in the Hill Country of Texas, my family has enjoyed studying native flowers and determining what we can consume in our own backyard. This past spring we grew nasturtium and viola tricolors in our greenhouse and added them (freshly picked!) to our cakes for edible decoration.

These are some of our favorite edible flowers, along with their accompanying flavors and how we have enjoyed eating them:

Calendula: bitter, tangy, and peppery; add to salads and cooked egg dishes.

Chamomile: earthy and floral; place fresh flowers in tea ball and steep for tea.

Dandelions: earthy, nutty, and bitter; use in salads or added to stir-fry.

Nasturtium: peppery and spicy; use in stir-fry or cooked with pasta.

Purslane: tangy, lemony, and peppery; use in place of lettuce.

Roses: sweet with a touch of spice; allow roses to dry out and sprinkle over oatmeal.

Squash blossoms: delicate and slightly sweet; fry and stuff with cheese.

Viola tricolor: sweet and floral; garnish desserts.

Yellow Wood Sorrel: sour; add to soups and salads.

There are a few things to know if you are interested in delving further into trying edible flowers:

  1. Do not eat random flowers. Many are poisonous. Always check with an adult first.

  2. Grow your own flowers. By growing your own flowers, you know exactly what you have grown, you can avoid treating them with pesticides, and you know what is edible.

  3. Eat only the petals. Often the inner floral parts are not edible.

  4. Determine what complimentary flavor you are seeking from the addition of the flower.

  5. When used as decoration, use only a small amount so that the flowers do not overpower the foods’ flavor.

Edible flowers are such a lovely way to add whimsy, flavor, and color to your plates.

Happy picking (and tasting)!

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  • Sarah Fremont

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

When we first moved into our fixer upper, the outside of the home looked like a haunted house—the limestone in front had blackened, the front door had rotting wood, and weeds had run amok in the yard. We had worked very hard to renovate the inside, but It was a great endeavor to get the house looking lovely, cheerful and welcoming on the outside. We began by replacing the front door, cleaning and repairing the limestone, weeding, and sowing native grass and wildflower seeds everywhere. But to add even more inviting curb appeal we decided to add window flower boxes. Is there anything more delightful than seeing a home with window boxes overflowing with well cared for flowers? I think not!

The origin of window boxes dates back to ancient Rome. Urban living in small homes, one on top of the other with no yards, a window box was an economical way to grow food with limited space. Eventually flowers were added to the growing of herbs and food, or replaced entirely. In the Victorian Age, terra cotta and metal planter boxes became very popular for displaying flowers and herbs, and eventually the boxes came to the United States. Many cities are still known for their colorful displays of window flower boxes attached to Victorian homes and older buildings—New Orleans’ French Quarter (Louisiana), Charleston (South Carolina), and Savannah (Georgia).

Would you like to add lovely, inviting flowers to the front of your house? Here are few things we learned when adding our own window flower boxes:

1. Purchase or build your own window box. There are many varieties of window boxes available for purchase online. We found ours on etsy. A window box hanging below the window with minimal house contact and ease of water draining is best and will prevent any damage to your home.

2. We lined our wood window boxes with plastic to prevent the boxes from rotting.

3. Fill with organic potting mix soil.

4. Choose your flowers! We have varied ours every year—all one type and color, a mix of only purples and pinks, cascading plants to hang over the edge, and taller plants in the back with shorter plants in the front. It’s so much fun to try new things every year and see what makes you happy!

5. *BIG TIP!* Pack your flowers in! (Throw away the spacing requirement tags!) Do not worry about leaving space for growing. Plant for it to look good now, not later.

6. Water often. Because the flowers are hanging outside they are more apt to dry out quickly. In Texas, our window boxes needed to be watered every morning!

7. We left our window boxes out year round. In the winter we replaced the withered flowers with cut evergreen boughs for a whimsical holiday look.

Well cared for flowers in your window boxes will create the cheeriest welcome for you and your guests! They are well worth their initial effort and the hanging flowers will make you feel happy every time you see them. Find the perfect boxes for your home and get planting! xo

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