Salvation

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About 2 years ago I was invited to the first Designer Vacation (2012) in Palm Springs. I was so flattered to be among that group of women invited to attend. We were moving from Hawaii to California, I had a 10 month old baby and we were pretty poor but I just knew I was going to go!

A few days before the retreat I had a miscarriage… we had just moved across the ocean, we didn’t own much, our future was uncertain and then I had this huge loss. I felt broken and sad. I took Henry and Conor with me that year. At first it felt like taking my mom to the first day of school with me. I felt like everyone could tell I was suffering and needed to bring my security blanket. Everyone else seemed so young and free and wise beyond their years and accomplished all at the same time. Somehow, inspite of my sadness and my comparing myself I still managed to form what is now my creative tribe. The girls that I met that year are now among the first people I call when things aren’t going right. They are the first to tell me that I did an awesome job on my latest project. They know when things aren’t going well and they offer advice and empathy when I need it.

This year me and some of my favorite girls drove out to Salvation Mountain. It was incredible. I was so amazed and inspired by the size of the work and the devotion it must have taken to create it. My friend Kathleen had a baby this last year. Just like I did 2 years before she brought her young babe and husband. Kathleen (with her son tied to her in a sling) and her husband walked in front of me as we made our way down the side of Salvation Mountain. At one point it got kinda steep and she looked as though she might fall. Jeremy grabbed her arm and at the same time she said, “let’s go down together.” They walked slowly down the side of the mountain with their arms around each other. As I watched  them I started to cry. I think it was a combination of missing my own family, feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for this creative tribe that I have found and the spiritual energy of the place. It was the feeling you get when you know you are exactly where you should be at exactly the right time.

I’m so glad that I have stumbled along this path. This creative freelancing path has not always been easy. It might look kinda glamorous from the outside world… Like I just travel and paint letters all day? HA! While it has been really great it has also been hard. I’ve had a few difficult things thrown in the mix like loss, and accidents, and clients telling me they hate everything I am showing them… and just life. But having a tribe of people who get it, who get me, who I can be myself around, who bring their babies to retreats and still act like bosses when they do it, has made all the difference.

Portland – City Guide

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A few people requested a city guide to some of my favorite restaurants and places to go while I am “home”. I thought Portland was already pretty amazing but since we moved away a lot of great new restaurants and stores have opened up! Here are a few of my favorites!

EAT

1 + 5. Our first stop is always Blue Star Donuts. Their donuts are so freaking good! My favorites are Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache, and Peanut Butter and Jelly. At least once while I am home we go and buy every single flavor and just go crazy. You have to go more than once! You just have to.

2. Roman Candle Baking Co. is always a favorite too. They are open for both breakfast and lunch and both are fantastic. They make their bread fresh everyday. On the counter their is a large container holding big golden shears to cut your pizza into bite sized pieces. Our lunch was served by the legendary Duane Sorenson himself, so that was pretty cool. (I’m a bit of a food nerd, if you didn’t know already, so I was a little star struck.

4. During our stay at The Ace Hotel we were treated to some of the cookies made by the lovely people over at Maurice. They certainly got my attention and I went the next day and purchased just about every cookie on display. Man, this post is really starting to make me sound like a pig! haha I just really love food I guess.

6. Conor and I decided to try Ava Gene’s (also owned by Duane Sorenson) for our anniversary and it did not disappoint. Conor said it was easily one of THE very best meals he had ever had in his life. The creativity and flavors had us pretty speechless.

8. Salt and Straw is one of my all time favorite ice cream places. I wish every ice cream parlor was this exciting. All of their flavors are inventive and unusual. We also go here several times while we are in the city. My favorite flavor is almond brittle with salted ganache. It’s amazing.

10. Bollywood Theater is another favorite. This is a perfect place to have lunch with friends. It is also not too fussy to I feel really comfortable taking both boys with me. We usually get something different every time but my favorite is the Kati Roll with Paneer.

Other favorite restaurants not pictured – Kure and Whole Bowl – they are right next to each other and are perfect for a quick light lunch. One servers smoothies and acai bowls and the other one has one thing on the menu – a whole bowl. But it is seriously amazing and they can get away with just 1 thing on their menu. Another great place is Boxer Ramen. The shopping near Boxer makes the location a prime lunching spot.

DO/SHOP

3. Schoolhouse Electric is always a fun place to go shopping. Conor and I love to go in their and get ideas of how to style areas in our house. We get a lot of inspiration from this place. I like to buy one or two things here and then try to find similar things for cheaper somewhere else- then arrange my house as much like the store as I can.

7. We stayed overnight at The Ace and it was super fun! But even if you can’t stay over night you can eat at the restaurant right next door – Clyde Common, another great place to eat, or get coffee on the other side next door. The lobby is always full of people working on their computers and taking pictures in their old fashioned photo booth. It’s fun to drop by and get your photo taken even if you’re not staying there.

9. A really cool little shop is Beam and Anchor. It’s another store that is more aspirational for me. I like to go in their and get lots of ideas of how to arrange my home, or things to make myself. I love all of the pottery/ceramics/art that they have in this store.

Besides eating and shopping we love to go on hikes, walks by the river and drive through the gorge. We love going to Saturday Market down town during the summer. Oh and if you are there during summer you really need to go up to Mt. Hood and do the alpine slide up there. They are soooo fun – probably more for families with children 6 and up. I’m sure I am forgetting a lot of other “favorites” but this is my list for now. What are some of your favorite places in Portland? Next time I am there I want to try them out!

Circles Conference

unnamed-1unnamed627-circles-2014-after-party-126762I’ve never really been a huge fan of conferences. As in – I never go to any. Living out in Hawaii made it way too expensive to ever go to Alt Summit or How Design… or anything like that. When we moved back to the “mainland” I just wasn’t really that interested. Sure, I go to Designer Vaca every year but that is sort of an anti conference. No one is giving speeches, or talks, you won’t see a single slide being used and most of the people there are already friends so it doesn’t feel like a conference at all. But this last week I attended Circles Conference. A conference for designers and creatives.

I decided to go to Circles Conference this year because… well, mostly because a lot of my friends were either speaking or attending and because it was right here in Dallas (actually Grapevine, but whatever) so I didn’t have to buy a plane ticket or get a hotel room, or any of that complicated stuff. It just seemed easy and I knew with friends by my side I would feel safe and wouldn’t feel that crazy pressure everywhere I went to shake everyone’s hand and introduce myself and act like the happiest person on the planet. (*Note – I am a happy person, but you know what I’m talking about? When you feel like you really have to make yourself look soooo happy? So people will maybe like you? haha! It’s stressful! It’s the reason I don’t usually go to stuff like this.)

I really liked that this conference wasn’t overwhelming with tons of people and things to do. There were lots and lots of interesting people there from all over the country – but it wasn’t a crazy fashion show that made you feel inadequate or boring by comparison. AND there weren’t so many people there that you started to question the infinity of the cosmos and wonder, “with all of these creative designer people in the world how am I still getting enough work to fill my schedule?!” It was comfortable and the speakers were down to earth and relatable. The schedule was easy going and there were a lot of snacks provided all day! Which you know I love! Anyway, I wanted to share just a few things that I took from the conference. Maybe they might help you out? Maybe they might inspire you to come next year?

What I learned at #Circles2014-

1. My friend Kathleen (who is super cool and hilarious in real life) gave a talk about fear. She said a bunch of really inspiring things about putting your fear on the shelf, owning who you are and being confident about everything you do. I loved it! She always puts on a good show. But the thing I really loved was at the end when someone asked a question about her design process – she said, “Ok, yeah, all that shit I just said about fear, forget all of that, just print your client’s logo out. Take a picture of it and send it to them. They will love it. It works every time.” Not only did this get a huge laugh from the crowd but it made me think – everything isn’t as hard as we make it sometimes. Yes, there are some technical skills you need. And yes, you need to be creative and organized. And YES there is fear in quitting your day job and relying completely on your ability to be creative to pay the bills … but at the end of the day we’re all just people, we’re all scared of something and sometimes the solution is as easy as pushing PRINT and letting everything else go.

2. Sometimes at big conferences what you learn doesn’t always come from something specific that someone up on stage says. Rather, sometimes we learn a lot about ourselves as we interact with others and share our own stories of success and failure. While at the conference I was able to talk to a lot of people about what I have accomplished in the last year, what I want to do more of, and where I want to be in a few years. Opening up and speaking to people in real life about your accomplishments and dreams can be scary and vulnerable. There is no hiding behind a computer screen and taking time to think about each and every word you type. Like I am doing right now. One thing I learned from my interactions is that I need to learn to speak with more confidence. I know I come across as a super confident person, but I am totally self conscious about my confidence!! If that makes any sense in the world at all?! As soon as I say something confident I start to second guess myself with thoughts like, “Did that make everyone think I’m self centered?” and “That sounded braggy, everyone probably thinks your a b**** now.” or, “You sound like a solo act… because you totally are. What does that say about the kind of person you are?… You must not work well with others.” I think I might have to write a longer post about this exact topic (owning that you are your own boss) later – but for now my point is that at conferences we can totally learn from our own personal interactions with people. What are we telling other people? What are the voices in our head are telling us? I definitely need to get a grip on the voice in my head that wants me to feel sorry for any success I have (or might) achieve. It took showing up in person at a conference to learn that.

3. I loved Jessica Hische‘s talk about her analog process. I rarely have a sketch book  with me and I never have a pencil handy… I usually jump straight into Illustrator when designing something. I loved hearing about her process and being reminded that some of our best work comes from doodling and that inspiration comes from real life. It was also refreshing to hear someone talk about practical things. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good inspirational speech! But sometimes you need practical advice or tips to make all of that “think outside the box” and “just do what you love all day long” stuff work.

That’s it for now. Will you be attending Circles next year? What is your favorite design/creative conference? What are some things that you really wish people would talk more about at a conference? I would love to hear some thoughts on this topic!

Portland

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We just returned from a much needed vacation! It was amazing but I almost feel like I need another vacation from my vacation! haha I am originally from the Portland area, I went to high school across the river in a town called Camas. My parents and my sister (and her family) all live there. A lot of my closest friends live there and are starting families and buying houses. The first friends we made as a married  couple moved there after they left Hawaii. Conor and I first dated and got married there. It’s so funny how nostalgic I get when going there.

Portland truly feels like home to me. Everywhere I go brings back floods of memories. I know this is going to sound so dramatic but at times it’s almost painful how many memories this place will pull off that dusty old shelf and make me re-live in my mind. A lot of those memories are packed with crazy teen-agey angst, or life changing emotional decisions. Most of the memories are really beautiful and happy, some are bitter sweet and some are really sad – and my heart will break all over again. One of my best friends from high school is still the only person that I trust to cut and color my hair so I see her every time I go back, but our other best friend was killed in a car accident a few years after we graduated high school… so I don’t see her, but rather I remember her as I drive by my old high school and past the old buildings where we saw all of our favorite bands. Another best friend is now married and just had a baby with his wife. I could cry about how happy I am for them and their cute little family. It’s always so fun to see them and smash our babies together and tell them they will marry each other someday.

My family is always the reason I go back at all. I love seeing my parents. Henry is totally in love with his grandpa and follows him around like he can’t live with out him. My mom is always so funny, spouting off explicit innuendoes like it’s going out of style… with out ever even realizing what she is saying. I love to force my mom to hold me like a baby and tell me everything is going to be ok! (That’s totally normal, k?) And my sister – well, I only have one sibling and I love her something awful! I usually cry the night before I leave just for her and then I cry again the next day for everything else. I can’t wait to go back again soon… until then I just might have to write a few more blog posts about our trip – we ate at a lot of great new restaurants so I will have to post about that for sure! and can you believe it’s already the middle of September? Summer flew by!

 

Make your own pizza night

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Cooking seems like such a chore these days. It’s been really hot here in Dallas and after a long day of working and playing hard the last thing I want to do is whip up an elaborate meal in the kitchen. We’ve been having lots of “breakfast for dinner” nights, and “left over salad” nights and of course, “everyone make your own pizza” nights. I usually just grab some pre made pizza dough at the store or keep pastry crust in the freezer. I make several small circles and then let everyone pick some toppings. I usually make mine sans sauce with a fruit and goat cheese. Above mine is the one with blackberries and basil on top. Conor loves sauce + pepperonis + goat cheese. Henry usually gets something pretty traditional with a bunch of veggies thrown on top in hopes that one or two might go in his mouth. What are your go-to lazy summer recipes?

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