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Why lavender-filled pillows (sachets) are the next great thing

Why lavender-filled pillows (sachets) are the next great thing

Earlier this year, we were sitting in the studio and were thinking about creating a new twist on the traditional lavender sachet. There is lots of history on the sachet. Lavender sachets can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty in China where they were worn around the waist and thought to ward off evil spirits. In the 19th century, sachets were used in Europe to induce sleep. 

Fast forward to 2017. This little herb-filled pouch is such a mainstay item to be used as a quick and simple gift or to have in the home to make daily life a little sweeter. And so we went about modernizing the design. Our version is 6" x 6" - more of a pillow than a little package. It fits in your hands nicely and is easy to carry and see. This gives the item a beautiful presence anywhere it is placed and well as increases the amount of sweet lavender inside. We sew these little pillows from our remnant linens in all kinds of colors which give it a fresher look and reduces textile land fill. There are so many ways to enjoy a lavender-filled pillow. Here are a few of our favorites:

 Get some rest

 Lavender sachets are great sleep aids. Putting them in your pillowcase or as far as your bedside table helps you rest peacefully and wake up to fresh-smelling air. It is very common to microwave lavender sachets (1-2 minutes depending on the microwave) to enhance the smell and your relaxation.

 Spruce up the place

Need a refresher? Stick a sachet in your drawers, between the sheets, under the pillow or even on the bedside table to infuse the air with lavender scent. I have one on my bedside table and often get a small sniff of lavender when first waking up. It's a gentle and a very personal luxury. Highly recommend!


 Afraid of moths getting your clothing this fall and winter? The lavender scent helps repel them. It is particularly good for keeping hungry moths away from your clothing as well. For this, keep the sachet in your clothes drawer or hang it in your closet. Tip: make sure you keep your space clean in general, as the lavender won’t kill pre-existing pests.

I think the lavender-filled pillow is about to enjoy a renaissance because it is just so lovely and such an unexpected pleasure. How would think that a 6" x 6" lavender pillow could pack so much goodness? 

In the month of September, every purchase will receive of these Sophie Lavender-filled Pillows



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Standing with Texas

Standing with Texas

50% of our proceeds now through Labor Day will be donated to the American Red Cross.

This week Hurricane Harvey dumped 21 trillion gallons of water onto south Texas in what is being reported as the most devastating hurricane to hit the United States in a decade. Here are some more statistics reported by Mic News: 30,000 people are displaced from their homes, 13,000 rescues, and 30 people dead. And those numbers are likely going to grow. No matter where you live, Texas is our neighbor, our extended community, and part of the fabric that makes America. The images of Texans helping one another and pulling themselves through this disaster together is heartening. It is what community is all about. It is putting aside divisions in favor of goodness for all. We stand with Texas. In this spirit, 50% of all proceeds now through Labor Day will be donated to the America Red Cross. 

If you would like to donate directly, go here.

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Secrets to making the very best bed

Secrets to making the very best bed

Every so often, I get an urge to re-make my bed. Not in the way of getting new bedding or even in changing the bedroom decor. I mean how the bedding comes together and is arranged - in short, how the bed is made. I know that bed-making is probably way down on your list. Ranking with doing dishes or folding laundry, making the bed is just a chore that needs to get done.

But hold on for a second. Perhaps the drudgery of bed-making has a silver lining. I think it does. In my book, there are two really important things to having the best bed: comfort and beauty.


First, the comfort. You want your bed to be a sanctuary that provides bliss any time of the day. That's asking a lot, but there is a way to get there. The first is making sure that the sheets stay relatively clean. In my 1970's childhood household, sheets were washed once per week and I've tried to stay true to this schedule. Just the idea of slipping into clean sheets produces a tiny burst of joy, yes?

Comfort is also influenced by what fabrics you choose to sleep with. Most sheeting is cotton or linen since they breath, are soft and long wearing. Linen breaths more than cotton and gets softer over time. Either works well. Sheeting should not be made from synthetics since they are the opposite of these. On the next layer, you can add a blanket which should also be made from natural fiber. Wash once a month. Your comforter or duvet insert can be either polyester or down. I recommend having at having a light and heavier weight insert to use seasonally. During the dog days of summer, the duvet cover can be used by itself as a bedspread - no insert needed. As a last layer, don't forget a bed throw either on the bed itself or nearby. Having a throw around is a little personal luxury that's all about portable comfort. I often will use a throw during the day when napping or reading and sometimes at night if it's very cold.

The key to comfort? Cleanliness, quality fabrics and layering.


This one is harder to define, since it is very subjective. A beautiful bed is in the eye of the beholder. There are a couple of bedmaking components that enhance beauty, no matter how you define it. The first is keeping everything in good shape. By good shape, I mean keeping pillows, duvets, blankets and all free of rips, tears, stains and in generally good condition. It is surprising how these tiny imperfections impact perception.

The next part of making a beautiful bed is the care and craft of layering and folding the bedding as you make it. This is really a simple act but one that will do wonders for the overall appearance of the bed afterwards. Laying down your flat sheet and tucking the sheeting well is like laying a smooth and well crafted foundation for a home. If this initial part is done well then the entire bed will benefit. We recommend hospital corners for your sheeting. Y’know, the way nurses used to fold sheets before fitted sheets were invented. Not to worry, your bed will not look like it belongs in a hospital. Use this technique with your flat sheet and/or comforter. It might seem minor or a waste of time given no body will actually see these corners. But herein lies the secret to great beauty, I think. beauty is made in the details and when no one seems to be looking.

To get this look, follow these steps:

  • Lay the sheet on the mattress and tuck it in at the foot of the bed.
  • Grab the corner of the sheet still sticking out and pull it up so that it sits on top of the mattress (we’ll call this the triangle).
  • Tuck in the remainder of the sheet corner that you didn’t pull up.
  • Tuck in the triangle.
  • Repeat at the other corner.
From there, you can layer all other components onto the bed. Make sure that underthings like blankets are smooth and tucked in using the hospital corners technique. Finish with pillowcases, shams, and accent pillows either tossed or arranged formally according to your personal preference. Just a bed can be made in 30 seconds or not at all. But a comfortable and beautiful bed might take a few more minutes of effort. Again, the time issue. Something to weigh. An extra few minutes per day at bed-making might just make your day (and night). Enjoy.

By Sydney Lawson
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Not paper: In praise of cloth napkins

Not paper: In praise of cloth napkins

Over the years, I've had the conversation many times on the merits and pitfalls of using linen napkins. The first time was with my first collage roommate and the last is still to come. The conversation seems to go like this. Cloth napkins do take some upkeep. They need to be washed and they need to be stored and folded. Ironing is nice for formal events, but not necessary. All that maintenance takes about 10 minutes of extra effort per week. To put that in context, that's about the same amount of time it takes to water an herb garden, make a smoothie, or call a friend. But for the time starved, it's a couple of minutes extra that could be used for something else. The real question becomes what does that extra few minutes per week get you? Is the work worth it? Here are a few that come to mind.


It gets you options for setting a table. Options that come from having several styles and colors of napkins that can match a mood, a particular table setting arrangement, or kind of food. Having options like these is important as it invites mindfulness into the daily ritual of setting the table.


Something else it gives is economy. Over time, having to purchase paper napkins or paper towels can be expensive, and cost will exceed the investment in purchasing linen napkins pretty quickly. Linen is one of the most durable fibers around so the investment is long term.


Using cloth is environmentally friendly. Resources like water and electricity are needed to launder napkins, but over time, the collective amount of paper used for napkins does make a impact on forestry resources.


Most all, cloth appeals to the psychology of ritual that covets predictability, beauty, and tradition. There are few things more pleasurable and reassuring than daily rituals like setting the table. Selecting napkins, feeling and folding them in your hands, using them over and over, laundering, and storing are all markers of ritual. Ritual is a way to structure tasks around the house and it helps develop pride over time of a job well done. 

Paper napkins are faster and more convenient, but using cloth invites a slower more mindful approach to daily life. Try it and see. Here are a couple of Modernplum favorites for late summer.

Quince Plaid Napkins

Baltic, Madrid, and Breton Stripe Napkins

Gretchen Washed Napkin

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Book pic: It's Not Yet Dark

Book pic: It's Not Yet Dark


If there is one thing that goes with summer, and especially the dog days in August is a book to read. I recently returned from a vacation that included the time and space to dream, relax and read. There is something very elemental about that state of mind in which thoughts aren't controlled and time is abundant. This internal space creates a place where beautiful and powerful writing can take hold.  One book that is on my list is It's Not Yet Dark, a best seller in Barnes & Noble’s list of This Summer’s Biggest Books. It’s Not Yet Dark tells a story of the author’s life with ALS. More on the poetic side, this memoir will make you hopeful.

 The story goes something like this:

“In 2008, Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given four years to live. In 2010, in a state of lung-function collapse, Simon knew with crystal clarity that now was not his time to die. Against all prevailing medical opinion, he chose to ventilate in order to stay alive.

 In It’s Not Yet Dark, the young filmmaker, a husband and father of five small children, draws us deeply into his inner world. Told in simply expressed and beautifully stark prose, it is an astonishing journey into a life that, though brutally compromised, is lived more fully than most, revealing at its core the potent power love has to carry us through the days.

Written using an eye-gaze computer, It's Not Yet Dark is an unforgettable book about relationships and family, about what connects and separates us as people, and, ultimately, about what it means to be alive.”

So in these last days of summer, this is our book pic. If anyone has read it, please let us know what you think!

by Sydney Lawson


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Tips for keeping your home allergy-free

Tips for keeping your home allergy-free

It is officially summer and who knows how long you've been suffering from “seasonal” allergies. Staying inside and away from pollen may sound like a good idea, but your home may be just as allergenic. Here are some tips for making your living space more breathable, eco-friendly, and hypoallergenic.

 Get out your linens

For the allergy-free home, using linen is a great starting place. For bedding, blankets, table linens, and pillows, using linen will help keep dust, dust mites and dirt away. Linen is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it has less tendency to cause allergic reactions, especially compared to other fibers. Its resistance to dust mites may be just what you need to reduce your allergies. Although an off-putting topic, it is important to know facts about dust mites in order to rid your home of them. Dust mites like warm, moist climates and live off dead skin cells. They are also attracted to saliva, perspiration and dust. Luckily, linen resists all of this because it is tightly woven. Its lower thread count makes it thicker and more durable, keeping those nasty things out. Linen is also antibacterial, making it effective against bacteria, as well as stain and dirt resistant. 

Go for hardwoods and area rugs over carpet

 If your house has carpeting, this could be a big problem for your allergies. Switching to a hypoallergenic carpet or hardwood floors (though costly), will help stop the buildup of dust mites and other allergens. If you like the feel and look of carpeting something else to try are natural-fiber area rugs that can be washed easily. If you do have carpet, have it cleaned every three months.

Window shades versus curtains

Your curtains may even be attracting allergens since, therefore blinds and hypoallergenic drapes are the way to go. The blinds you choose should have large slats that are easy to clean since they should be wiped down weekly. If you choose to get new drapes, wash them once a month in hot water to kill dust mites. Using linen for the curtains also naturally resists dust mites and dust.

Basically, allergens are attracted to fibers that attract moisture, so look for ways to minimize fabrics in the home. When textiles are a necessarily, linen is the first choice. Linen is beautiful, durable, and naturally allergen-resistant. 

by Sydney Lawson

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Natural ways to keep cool at night

Natural ways to keep cool at night

It's the heat of summer, and keeping cool at night can be a challenge sometimes. Air conditioning, if you have it, is an obvious choice. But there are other ways to beat the heat that are all-natural, electricity-free and simple. Here is our list of five basics that will make a difference in your comfort and heat.

Wear linen bed clothes

Linen is extremely breathable and self-cooling in heat thanks to its high moisture absorbency, soaking up 20% of its weight before feeling damp. Plus, who doesn’t like a complimentary massage? Due to breaks in the fabric, linen stimulates blood flow and induces relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the cooler you will be.

Keep water by your bedside

Waking up in the middle of the night thirsty with a dry mouth doesn’t help keep you cool. The body is 70% water as we all know, and without water consumption our bodies begin to overheat. Studies show that room temperature water is better than ice cold water in terms of the amount of energy your body uses to heat the cold water and the body fat that cold water solidifies, making it harder to digest.

Leave bedroom doors open

This will allow air to circulate within and outside of your bedroom. If you're getting hot at night, it is better to let heat out than let it sit in one place. Also, there is something very soothing about fresh air even if it is a warmer evening.

Use linen bedding

Are you always trying to find new ways to fall asleep faster, stay in a deeper sleep, and wake up in a better mood? Then linen bedding may help you in your quest! Similarly to linen clothing, it is breathable and its high-moisture absorbency makes it softer over time. Not only does it absorb a lot of moisture, it also quickly releases it through evaporation; a guaranteed, natural cooling system.

Focus on your breath

If the heat (along with the stress of everyday life) is making it hard to fall asleep, try breathing techniques. Focusing on your breath distracts you from thoughts on your hot situation and helps you relax. There are also certain techniques to make you tired!

by Sydney Lawson

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American Craft Blossoming

No doubt American craftsmanship is blossoming everywhere. Dwell Magazine recently published its annual Made in America edition that features makers across America like Modernplum who are invigorating local manufacturing, small creative business, and small-scale production with products for every room in the house. This annual list coupled with the growth in popularity of Etsy and Martha Stewart's American Made project seems to indicate a blossoming of the craftsman and the well-crafted product here is the United States. The article presents 50 well-made and designed options that utilize and develop the talent, resources, and infrastructures that already exist here. How nice it is to know where these products were made, who made them, and with what materials. There is some thing irresistibly comforting and healing about making with integrity and authenticity like this. Computers, machines, and digital information, which pervade every aspect of our lives, while necessary and efficient, cannot fill our need for human craft, touch, and ingenuity. 

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Next: Summer Plaids


I often look at fashion for clues as to new trends, and there is something definitely happening right now with summer plaid. Summer plaids are those slightly campy patterns often in classic red, white, and blue that signal carefree style. Ever since Julie Andrews waltzed through the fields of Bavaria with her check picnic blanket in the Sound of Music, a little plaid clothe just seems right for outdoor events and entertaining. We stumbled upon just such a plaid, with classic colors of red, navy, yellow and white and have made a collection of napkins, tablecloths, and runners that are great for carefree entertaining, indoors and out. This is a pattern that goes just as well with paper plates to bone china and back again. If there is one cloth that just says the season, this might be it.

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Favorite Things: April

April is in full swing, and the list is out. Our current group of April favorites stems from a lighter, fresher perspective in all things: lighter colors, refreshing greens everywhere, new spring foliage and flower blossoms, and the awareness of a certain optimism that comes from the new season. What we are coveting now. 1. All things Cherry Blossoms, either seen in person or imagined. 2. Macarons of any color, although especially in green to match the spirit of April. Macarons are the french version of macaroons. They are made with a marvelous almond paste and true to each color, they have distinctive tastes. These are pistachio. 3. Mix and match striped napkins which salute the new season of entertaining. 4. Trench coat, in every style and color imaginable. 5. Tretorn sneakers (nothing more to be said). 6. An indoor/outdoor table runner which just makes sense in the warmer months. This is made from rustic and textured linen. 

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The Farnsworth House

Spring is here. Finally, we all can venture more freely outdoors, bask in the sunlight, and live with less. All these pleasures are encapsulated into the Farnsworth House by Mies Van der Rohe. This home is an iconic example of modern architecture that was built in 1951 along the banks of the Fox River in Plano, Illinois. It was the summer home of Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a Chicago-based physician. The way it floats, the way the walls blend with the environment, the lack of ornamentation is the closest thing to camping inside. It's one of our favorite things. For more information, follow these links:



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The Trench Coat

This month we are kicking off something new. It's a look into our Favorite Things organized by month and season. You probably don't know this but Modernplum started off as a blog about a lifestyle laden with simple things, authentic experiences, and finding beauty everyday. Favorite Things is about capturing all those. We have a new board on Pinterest that will keep everything organized by month. First up - the Trench Coat. This embodies everything we love about Spring dressing. It's slightly spontaneous, it's simple, it's a classic and it's timeless. Where it to the park or to dinner. Slip it on with heels or court shoes. Put your hair up or in a pony. Most every retailer regardless of price point carries the trench during this time of year. If there is one piece of clothing that signifies the new season, it's the trench.



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