Photo Chelsea Laine Francis
The week before last I headed to Texas Hill Country, just outside Austin, to attend the fifth and final Texas Style Council. What had started as a group of like-minded people brunching on quiche a few years ago had grown huge in size, and this year was stripped back down to the basics. Two hundred women staying at a Girl Scout camp for a long weekend and leaving everything else at the door was the bare agenda.
Photos Chelsea Laine Francis
Vintage camping elements set the scene as we made our way between cabins, sessions, and activities. Permission to only occasionally shower or brush your hair was granted as we all gathered to discuss the deeply buried stuff: vulnerability, keeping connections real, and creating a meaningful presence.
Photo Chelsea Laine Francis
Photo Kelly Beall
I was flattered to be asked to speak by TxSC founder, Indiana Adams, who I connected with back in January. (We were both on our way to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City and on the same delayed flight.) Speakers were asked to arrive a day early to have a little extra time to connect with the amazing sponsors on hand, as well as enjoy some outdoor activities.
Photo Chelsea Laine Francis
Photo Kelly Beall
I’d been looking forward to horseback riding and zip lining for over a month, so much so that not even the pouring rain could stop me. I have a difficult time stepping away from the screen and actually relaxing, so I’m taking it as a sign and looking into taking some horseback riding lessons. This weekend was a great reminder that it’s just as important to make time for yourself as it is to kick ass and take names at the office.
Photo Chelsea Laine Francis
Throughout the weekend campers collected “badges” (pins) for completing projects, attending sessions, etc. I never got to be a Girl Scout as a kid and my competitive spirit took over – I had to collect them all! It wasn’t at all about the end result, almost more like a baseball card situation, but I happily accepted the Eagle Scout award at the badge ceremony Sunday afternoon for collecting the most pins!
I was lucky enough to spend my nights sharing snacks and sleeping on a rock hard mattress in the same room as these girls – Chloe Mitchell of Hello Society, Cyndie Spiegel, and Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic.
Photos Kelly Beall
The last day of camp showed up suddenly, as it always seemed to when I was growing up. TxSC was refreshing in a way few conferences are, full of women without pretensions or agendas. Women who I most likely never would have crossed paths with otherwise. A big thank you to Indiana for creating this labor of love that we all had the benefit of taking part in.
Several of you who took this year’s Reader Survey mentioned you wanted to see more of Pittsburgh, hear how it differs from my years spent in Oklahoma City, and generally just know how I’m adjusting to living back in my hometown. I’m 100% happy to share all of those thing with you, and so glad to hear (read?) there’s interest! I’ll be rolling out local maker profiles and tours in the next few months as well as highlighting my favorite spots as I discover them. But until then, March 8th marked six months since the move so I thought I’d reflect a little on how things have been going.
It’s been easier than I’d anticipated. Prior to relocating I honestly thought I might end up in therapy from reverse culture shock, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Turns out my small hometown still felt just like, well, home. It’s been going through a bit of a renaissance and the downtown area has been turning over slowly to some welcome new businesses. (Case in point: a juice bar opened last month!) It’s so nice being near family and the few friends I’ve kept in contact with through the years, as well as being able to see out-of-town friends who come back to visit. The anxiety that’s plagued me since college has decreased dramatically, and I feel more grounded here than anywhere which has been a discovery in itself. I’m absolutely in love with my home, it feels like the space I’ve always dreamed of creating for myself and it makes me proud.
It’s been different than expected. I’d gotten so used to not living near family that I need to remind myself to make time to visit and take advantage of my new proximity. I get frustrated that I haven’t learned my go-to brunch place, favorite restaurants, or where to pick up that perfect gift just yet. The same goes for not having immediately built a community to immerse myself in. (I tend to forget that I built the foundation for one years ago by staying connected to the city online.) It’s a bit strange to live about 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh as opposed to the 10 from Oklahoma City, so I’m in the car a bit more. I miss being 2 minutes away from Super Target (true story). My 115 year old house has had some issues – leaking roof, sewage in the basement from settled pipes, hot water tank died – that I wasn’t financially anticipating this soon.
All in all I know I made the right decision to move back. I’d been gone since leaving for college and I love getting to know this city as an adult.
A few weeks ago, on a cold Wednesday, I headed off to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It was my sixth time speaking and it’s become that point in the year when I reassess my goals and mission for Design Crush, and connect with potential sponsors and like-minded people who see the value in blogging. Every January I come away feeling refreshed and refocused.
The evening I flew into town Overstock hosted a dinner at Rest for some of the attendees. I didn’t have a real feel for the brand prior to that point, to be honest. But I’m going to be completely transparent here when I say that sometimes getting to know the people behind the company can completely change perception. Just a super lovely, very real team that was easy to talk to and hang out with and an insanely delicious meal (beer can chicken, paella, ceviche, pickled onion rings +more).
Thursday morning started bright and early thanks to jet lag and a poor night’s sleep – does anyone else have that issue the first night in a hotel? My roommate, Tabulous Design, and I took advantage and had a nice little breakfast (I’m obsessed with the Grand America‘s muesli and lattes) before talking to a few sponsors. I had to miss my friend Lisa Congdon‘s opening keynote for a few meetings, but everyone raved about it through the rest of the conference.
My panel was one of the very firsts – Pinterest: Community Growth, Revenue Streams, Driving Traffic – with Alexandra Evjen, Rachel Faucett, and Sara Martineau. Among all of the panels I’ve ever been lucky enough to participate in, this one was prepared to the nines. These ladies know their stuff in a big, big way and they’re excited about it too. If you’d like a few bits of advice that we talked about check out Alex’s post-Alt post.
Wednesday night brought with it a Downton Abbey themed dinner. Proper and elegant with flowers I couldn’t stop taking photos of, the night ended up being an early one for me. After dressing up in a dropped-waist, short-sleeved seafoam colored dress and (heavy) statement necklace I just couldn’t hang after my four hours sleep the night before. Several episodes of The Big C later and I was passed out cold.
While at Alt I also teamed up with Microsoft and Wayfair in their #DreamStudio, one of the sponsored lounges. They divided the space into three areas – craft room, kitchen, and living room/office – and had a few bloggers giving mini session on fun topics like Upcoming Art Trends in-between the main panels. Because I spent most of my time here I didn’t get to attend any panels other than my own, but I loved getting to connect with other attendees about something I’m passionate about!
Friday evening were the Mini Parties, basically my favorite part of every year. Alt takes over part of the third floor of the hotel and each room is a different theme, most rife with photobooth opportunitues. My partners in crime were my roommate Tab and Dottie and Alix (aka Modern Kiddo). We had an agenda to take the best possible photos and stuck to it for three straight hours – the last one is clearly our money shot!
I normally stay In SLC through Saturday and leave Sunday, but this year there was a ridiculous price difference in flights so I said goodbye Saturday afternoon after a leisurely breakfast and some good conversation with longtime friends. If you missed out this go around and are dying to attend Alt tickets just went on sale for Alt Summer!
Making : pile after pile of broken down cardboard packing boxes
Cooking : I’ve been on a breakfast sandwich kick (apple English muffin + egg + cheddar)
Drinking : (diet) lemonade
Reading : The Book of Life, the third book in the All Souls Trilogy
Wanting : fall to slow down already
Looking : for the perfect dining room table and chairs
Playing : old mixtapes
Deciding : whether I need to make another trip to Lowes today
Wishing : that this house could set itself up
Enjoying : reacquainting myself with my hometown
Waiting : to put up Halloween decorations for another week
Liking : the sight of the changing leaves
Wondering : how long it will take for this town to feel like home once again
Loving : all the help my family has been offering up as I get settled in
Pondering : how best to set up my office
Considering : when and where to buy this year’s pumpkins
Watching : Parenthood
Hoping : the headache I woke up with goes away soon
Marveling : at how much I love the local farmer’s market!
Needing : to go grocery shopping
Smelling : Bebe, who is laying next to me and desperately needs bathed
Wearing : my hoodie, constantly
Following : college football like whoa (Boomer Sooner!)
Wanting : a cheeseburger for lunch
Noticing : how the grass seems to grow slower here
Knowing : that I need to have a few electrical outlets upgraded asap
Thinking : about what to pack for the beach next weekend
Feeling : overwhelmed
Admiring : people who seem to juggle it all seamlessly
Sorting : through everything I’ve unpacked, trying to find its place here
Buying : washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.
Getting : tired of spending money
Bookmarking : more articles than I have time to read, mainly about haunted stuff
Disliking : the slow process of setting up house
Opening : bills, bills, BILLS
Feeling : anticipation
Making : box upon box as I pack up for the move next week (eek!)
Cooking : does cereal count? (looking forward to getting back into it this fall)
Drinking : iced coffee galore
Reading : CNN’s site several times a day
Wanting : enough time to say goodbye to my friends here in Oklahoma City
Looking : at the dogs who are resting peacefully (for once)
Playing : not much – I’m in a music rut!
Deciding : whether I can wait to buy groceries until tomorrow
Wishing : for all of my favorite people to live in the same town
Enjoying : a summer-long marathon of Criminal Minds
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start this weekend!
Liking : this feeling of culling down all of my belongings
Wondering : how the pups are going to handle this 2-day long road trip
Loving : how busy my evenings have been with lots of dinners and good conversation
Pondering : how best to pack up my art collection
Considering : lunch
Watching : again, Criminal Minds
Hoping : this last week goes just right – not too fast, not too slow
Marveling : at how summer has flown by this year!
Needing : the weather to drop below triple digits (please?)
Smelling : he sandalwood candle burning in my living room
Wearing : lots of tank tops
Following : several new Pittsburgh-based handles on Twitter
Wanting : PIZZA
Noticing : how different regions of the country go back to school at different times
Knowing : that my Mom gets here tomorrow to help me finish packing
Thinking : about how I’m glad I worked ahead on posts
Feeling : excited about football season
Admiring : my friend Clarisha for raising such a beautiful, smart daughter
Sorting : through old beauty products
Buying : nothing, saving my pennies for the house closing
Getting : a new (old) house
Bookmarking : podcasts to download for the long drive to PA
Disliking : saying so many goodbyes
Opening : lots of mortgage paperwork
Feeling : excited
The only thing I really miss about regularly moving from apartment to apartment in my 20s is the necessary culling that happened with every relocation. I like going through my belongings to find the things I forgot I had, the things that I’m over, and the things that deserve a better life. Now I donate a few times a year, but there are always a few pieces that are maybe just a bit too good to put in a trash bag or cardboard box.
I’ve gathered some of those pieces as I pack up my life to move halfway across the country and am going to be posting them in the next few days for an Instagram sale. This sale is for Oklahoma City locals who can pick up their purchase only. The Sunbeam mixer above as well as pillows, lamps, art, and more will be available. If you’re local and looking for some deals you can follow along at @designcrush!
After over twelve months of end-of-month Instagram updates we’re changing it up a little around here. (Of course you can still follow @designcrush on Instagram.) While pictures really are worth a thousand words, sometimes it’s just nice to use the words instead. So for now we’ll be closing out each month with a much more verbal goodbye, with a nod towards Meet Me at Mike’s for the idea of this list. Join in if you’d like!
Making : lists of style props to use for a photo shoot I have later today
Cooking : rarely, this summer has been crazy busy
Drinking : lots and lots of H2O and iced tea
Reading : the latest issue of The New Yorker
Wanting : this move across half the country to be over already
Looking : at photos that need edited
Playing : Jenny Lewis’s latest – The Voyager
Deciding : what pieces to put in a little Instagram sale I’ll be having in the next week or so
Wishing : for more free time
Enjoying : cuddles with my pups, Piper and Bebe
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start
Liking : this crazy cool weather we’ve been experiencing – 20+ degrees below normal!
Wondering : what it will feel like to live back in my hometown
Loving : how green my lawn is this year
Pondering : whether I can wait another day to go to the grocery store
Considering : whether or not to throw out my half dead orchid
Watching : The Leftovers, Food Fighters, True Blood, Masters of Sex
Hoping : for some great last hangouts with friends before I leave town
Marveling : at how some of my best friends are all because of this site
Needing : more coffee
Smelling : the scent of recently fallen rain
Wearing : my Marcel Warby Parker glasses
Following : Jenny‘s house progress
Wanting : carbs!
Noticing : lots of State of the Blog posts lately
Knowing : that I’m about to start a huge, new, awesome chapter of my life
Thinking : about how I absolutely have to do laundry today
Feeling : excited about closing on my new house!
Admiring : risk takers
Sorting : through every single possession I own
Buying : super exciting things like home inspections and insurance
Getting : lots of positive reinforcement and support
Bookmarking : healthy diabetes-friendly recipes
Disliking : how this summer is flying by
Opening : the windows – WIDE
Feeling : anxious
After eight months of searching for the perfect home in Pennsylvania, I’ve finally found it. And made an offer. And am buying it.
You’ll have to forgive the shoddy realtor photos, but I don’t have any of my own. Because I’ve never actually set foot in this house. I KNOW. I’m buying it based on these photos and a video my Mom shot on her iPhone when touring it for me. Let me tell you, buying a place halfway across the country is no piece of cake! But I’m excited to share of these photos with you and take you on the journey.
Let me start by saying that this is not the type of house I thought I would end up with. Mainly because it’s not what I was looking for or like anything that’s ever been my taste. I’m clean lines, modern, open spaces. And without the renovations that have been done on this 1900 colonial I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. But a few weeks ago I spied it online, and then later that same day both my realtor and my Mom sent me a link to it as well. My response: I like a lot of the inside, but am not into the outside. And part of that still stands true, but it’s grown on me considerably. So about a week later I sent both of them to take a peek in person and the three of us all fell head over heels. As far as the facade goes, I’d love to add a wooden porch the width of the house that eliminates those three strange steps up to the front door probably about more than anything else. But like a lot of things I want to do to the interior, all in good time.
But you probably want to take a peek for yourself at the new Design Crush headquarters…
The floors throughout the first floor have been refinished and (supposedly) the entire place was taken down to the studs. This is the living room right off the left of the foyer once you come in the front door. I love the high ceilings that run throughout this level. Right off the bat I’ll be pulling down those curtains in the little windows flanking the floor to ceiling fireplace and painting out the gold piece in the middle of the mantle. Eventually I plan on swapping out that tile in the hearth and painting the entire space white. I’ve always liked the look of a clean palette and really want my furnishings to be what brings color and personality to the house. The stone fireplace is much better in person (or so I hear) and is comprised of uneven bits and pieces.
To the right side of the frame is a huge open doorway into the dining room. The photo online is awful, but what you’ll find are three large windows forming a bay on the outer wall and a small built-in that’s thankfully already white. Off of the dining room is a fully renovated 3-piece bath and a small hallway to the kitchen.
Nicely refinished, but those the cabinets are dated and only made fresh by a coat of paint. They’ll need replaced sooner than later. Glass tiling in kitchens and baths is a trend currently, but one that I’m not entirely on board with. (Are people getting hugely amazing deals on it? What is the deal?!) It will suffice for now, but the larger plan is to tear it out and do a half wall of white subway tile with white paint (again) above. I’m also debating whether or not I’ll replace the black granite with something different. The right wall in this photo has a cooktop (soon to be replaced with a range before closing) and a nook for the fridge. The opposite two walls are half white beadboard and half white paint. Completely livable at this point. In the corner they form I’m hoping to put up some open shelving for pretty cookbooks and serving pieces. One of my favorite parts – not pictured – are the beams on the ceiling. A total dream!
To the left there is also a doorway out to the deck and backyard, which we’ll get to in a minute, and a pantry. To the right is a doorway that leads around to a nook that has a door to the basement, as well as a hallway with a coat closet before you’re back in the foyer. I love the full circle layout a lot.
Which leaves us here. The front door to the right (not pictured) has a half window and needs a coat of paint and that’s about it. This staircase curves up and to the left with a window set about halfway up. I’m not at all keen about the carpeting that leads the way up to and covers almost the entire second floor. Eventually I hope to replace it all with wood that closely matches the first floor, but that will require some savings. In the meantime, it will be good traction for the dogs since we’ve never lived with stairs before.
The second floor has one small bedroom with wood floors that will be my office, and three other bedrooms that all look about the same. Like this. (Not nearly as dark and dingy as this shot implies.) Again, several windows forming a large bay and a seriously decent-sized closet considering this place was built in 1900! There’s also another fully renovated 3-piece bath.
Continue up a switchbacked set of stairs to the third floor finished attic. Those windows are on all four side and total showstoppers! Again, I’m not fond of the carpeting, but at least it’s all new throughout. This floor is actually comprised of two huge rooms, one of which I’m hoping to make the master and the other the walk-in wardrobe of my dreams. This plan all depends on whether or not the central AC that’s going in before closing can have its ducts run up all three floors. A bit of a challenge, or so I’m told. I’m not sure what plan B is if that’s not a possibility.
The back yard is a total blank slate, you can only see about a fourth of it here. Not large by any means but comparable to what I currently have. The deck is new and beautiful and I’m already imagining having my morning coffee on it, throwing parties, and about a hundred other things! I’m also looking forward to pillaging my green thumbed Grandma’s yard for peonies, lilacs, and poppies to plant.
Closing is scheduled for September 8th, so I hope to have some better photos for you at that point. Thanks for indulging me while I share the new digs!
Back in May a completely unexpected thing happened. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. (I struggle not to go all Wilfred Brimley every time and say DIABEETUS.)
When I look back over the past few years, my decline is crystal clear. But I didn’t realize what my symptoms (or that I even had symptoms) were pointing to until my Mom casually suggested that maybe I should have a full blood panel run just to rule it out. So of course I looked up the disease on WebMD and suspected that’s exactly what was going on when I read the symptoms. Crap. That kicked a few things into gear, mainly doctor appointments and plenty of blood work. My numbers in the key areas were stupidly high. Awesome.
That was the first few weeks in May, and since then lots has happened. I’ve got my diet more or less under control thanks to a nutritionist and educating myself. Because I was mainly vegetarian already and didn’t eat tons of starches I was off to a good start. (It’s a misconception that diabetes is all about sugar control, it’s just as much if not more about your carbohydrate intake.) I bought the most incredible used treadmill from a friend (Built-in fans!) and use it for at least 30 minutes nearly every day. And I’m on medication. Luckily I’m not insulin dependent, but I do have a pill regimen that’s being built upon.
I started noticing the differences in myself nearly immediately. Gone was the need for daily afternoon naps, gone was the crash after most meals, gone was the near constant thirst, gone was the rapidly shedding weight I’d been experiencing… and gone were the sweets from my kitchen. I’m going to be completely honest, that last one was the toughest. (Though I’ll admit the weight loss was the only good thing going on.) This is the start of a complete lifestyle overhaul that will last a lifetime. Once my numbers get down to where they need to be I’ll be able to indulge here and there, but I’m stuck with the Big D forever.
There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about Type 2 Diabetes. One being that you get it only from being obese or a sugar hound. Though both of those things can lend a hand, in my case it was hereditary. But the thing is there’s no one way to get it, the medical community isn’t 100% sure what causes its onset. What they do know is that my pancreas has stopped producing the requisite amount of insulin necessary for my body to process glucose and get it out of my body. So without medication it just travels around in my blood and makes its way out eventually through urine, without ever being used as energy.
While it does suck, I’ve taken this thing on with a positive attitude. (I’m getting healthy! I’m getting skinny!) I mean, it’s not like I can give it back so I might as well do all that I can to treat it. So for now I’ll be living vicariously through my Food & Cocktails board on Pinterest and have a (no longer secret) board called Diabetes Food. Because that’s just the kind of girl that I am.
In lieu of a rather unphotogenic June that was essentially full of photo shoots for the site and plenty of packing up house, I thought I’d skip out on our monthly Instagram recap. Instead I wanted to share some new ink I got a few Fridays ago. In fact I got two new tattoos on the same day (not the first time that’s happened), and both are very meaningful designs that I’ve been wanting for awhile.
My Grandpa (not Pete, the other one) had a huge hand in raising me. And for the life of me I can’t seem to put into words just how big of a spot he holds in my heart. And just how much it gutted me when he passed away when I was 17. Swallows are the bird of remembrance, and this one is based on Julia Rothman’s Daydream wallpaper for Hygge & West. I had my tattoo artist add a little touch of original tattoo style (sometimes called sailor style) in honor of my Grandpa’s Navy days as a gunner’s mate. Once he left the service and went to work in the steel mills of Pittsburgh his nickname actually was Sailor, so it felt all the more fitting.
The second is a super simple design that I did in about 2.5 seconds. As my moving date looms ever closer and this phase of my life in Oklahoma comes to an end, I wanted to commemorate it. The first time I moved here I was 18, a kid in an adult’s body. Now I’m 34 and the number of ways I’ve grown and changed as a person are too numerous to count. If you haven’t guessed what it stands for yet I’ll share – a rudimentary tornado. Not only are they an ever present threat each spring, but in this case a symbol of destruction and rebirth. (And as my friend pointed out, when I bend my arm up it looks like a Delta symbol. For change.)
These two tattoos bring my total to seven, though the swallow is the first I’ve gotten that will be seen on a regular basis. And of course I’m already planning the next one – they’re addictive like that! So how about it, have any tattoos of significance on you?