creative cocktail hour.

There have been several events over the past year that have really changed my heart on the matter of community. I have always been social, but since moving to Houston, I have recognized the true importance of humans coming together. To understand each other. And support each other. To let someone else know you’re just as weird as they are.

And at the same time I began recognizing the importance of this was about the time that I realized that everyone is terrified of community. You get older and this world becomes a place that’s not safe for your story to be told. So we hide behind our jobs and our computer screens because it’s safer than saying “this is me”.

I am strange bird. But I remember going to Circles Conference last September and feeling truly understood in those weird spaces of my brain that make me want to create things. We were all made of the same stuff and we were all strange birds together.

Since then, I have set out to intentionally connect with strangers that I think might be a little like me. I am floored by the amazing people I’ve been able to meet through social media. Like Maggie from Type and Title, a branding wizard, who I met up with in California (more on this creative fireball next week). Aric Queen, a writer for National Geographic (who has an inspiringly raw book out called Shanghai Exile Diaries that you should NEED to read). He helped me with my travels through Europe in a way that was so completely touching. Sam Melton who shoots film for West Elm and really encouraged me in quest for connecting people. Rebecca Rebouche, a woman after my own heart- a designer for Anthropologie and one HELL of an artist. Seriously, check out her stuff.

To call these people friends now is an honor. And makes the world feel like a lot cooler of a place.

Anyone who has lived in Houston knows that it’s not a place where creatives jump out at you. It’s a big ole’ industrial melting pot where artists are a little more underground. So I set out to connect these individuals. I called up a friend in Houston and told her I wanted to host a meet up for all the various photographers, designers, painters, sculptors, writers, and filter obsessed people in the area.

So with the help of a new friend, Edi (find him on @htx_), I rounded up a bunch of people and asked them to email me if they’d like to all grab some drinks and share stories.

Here’s where I am going to be honest. I was pretty scared it was going to be a huge flop and I was going to be the idiot with the idea of herding strangers on instagram. And then 30 freaking awesome people came.

Well shit- now they’re actually here. And I’m trying to pretend I’m not a nervous wreck. And then the coolest thing happened. People started thanking me for coming- saying that it was such a big deal for them to come to something like this. “WAIT- YOU’RE NERVOUS TOO?!” And then in that moment I was overcome with the “okayness” of it all. Why are we so scared to be with other people- to just show up? Here I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful minds and getting blessed on by their inspiration and unique stories. People are just people. And when we decide to “show up”, our days are so much richer for it.

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So thank you to every single one of you who went out of your way to come out and spend the night photographing, wearing your hats, having some cocktails, and being brave enough to show up. Yay to a new Houston creative community.

XO, K.

California.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut. Not in the sense that I’m not creating, but that I am over creating and left with my tank on empty. I needed a time where I could rest and take time to do something that was for myself. To create things without being told what I needed to accomplish. And while I am blessed beyond measure to be paid to do what I love, I have been desperately craving a space to slow down and play.

When Sarah (read more about this beauty here) invited me to stay with her in San Diego for some sun, creativity and helping with her non-profit, I was ready to drop everything and head to the waves.

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I flew in yesterday morning- after a 5 hour flight squeezed between 4 crying/fighting toddlers. So it was an extra sweet surprise to be picked up and taken straight to the beach. It was like the first breath of the coastal air released a knot from my back.

The rest of the night was left to enjoying some fish tacos and Malbec at a fun little place called Craft and Commerce with Sarah and her husband Joshua. We passionately talked about our adventures traveling or our thoughts on justice. It felt so good to be sitting alongside people who know what’s going on in the world and want to do something about it.

Sarah and Joshua’s house is completely refreshing. Minimal in the most efficient way. Everything is white and uncluttered. They share a car. And while they laugh that they haven’t quite settled in, it’s a breath of fresh air to live in this uncomplicated home for 10 days.

Today Sarah and I did some work together and brainstormed ideas and talked about our business visions. Later in the afternoon, she let me borrow her beach cruiser to bike around with my camera. Riding around, I realized I hadn’t done something like this for myself in MONTHS. Just pedaling around in the sunshine with no agenda or timeline. I would snap photos and listen to music, and it was intoxicatingly wonderful.

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XO, K

 

Days 3-7: Tuscany

The wanna-be Italian cruising through the country side. 

Where an American girl finds her passion among cobblestone hills. 

November 25, 2013// Day 2// 10:15pm

THE GAME PLAN:

Orvieto

Montepulciano

Montichiello

Montalcino

Siena

Where I decide that I can no longer live in the USA.

The last few days have been life changing. Every little detail has been a new visual adventure. Every experience is teaching me more about what it really means to live. Tuscany will forever live in my work and the life that I wish to create for myself.

Tuscan cities just have it right. A beauty without being pretentious. Clean, friendly and humble. They drive small efficient cars, recycle everything and stop eating when they are full. They walk around and meet in cafes with friends. They live a full-bodied life of long talks over local wine and rich landscapes. They just seem to have an innate sense of what life is about and don’t need more than what satisfies their basic needs. This is a life I aspire to live.

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Rome: Day 2

The wet crusader in a city of clown cars and marble wonders.

Saturday November 23, 2013// 10:31pm

Well, we quite literally did “Rome in a day”. This city is chalk full of history. It’s crazy to be surrounded by buildings that are over 500 hundred years old. We did the “Caesar Shuffle”- starting with visiting the Vatican City, which is it’s own COUNTRY inside of Italy. Inside, we saw the Vatican museums and the Sistine chapel. The beauty was almost overwhelming. I couldn’t even fully take in the magnitude of the artwork work around me. Every square inch from the ground we walked on to the expansive ceilings were gilded, carved and painted to a maddening perfection. This city could keep even the most fidgety traveler satisfied and eyes entertained. We also visited the Spanish steps (I would have skipped this one due to our tight schedule) and the Trevi fountain (a beautiful must see).

There is heated debate between whether Lonely Planet or Rick Steves is a better literary tour guide. Clint and I are team Rick- his style of writing is like reading recommendations from a friend and peppered with racy humor (which you know I love). He led us to a small italian restaurant for some fried cheese and spaghetti. Afterward, we picked up some wine at a local market and went home to rest our aching feet.

It rained the ENTIRE day- which I honestly thought was quite charming at first, romantically damp and sidewalks full of lovers holding each other tight under colored umbrellas. And it was all fun and games until the temperature dropped to 30 and the water was so deep on the sidewalks that it completely flooded my shoes and I was left to slosh in freezing water for a few miles with my drenched hair and coat. This was about the time that Clint probably had a small panic attack about the trip- wondering why he brought a sun loving girl to Europe in the winter.

Tomorrow we leave for Tuscany.

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Rome: Day 1

Backpacking through Europe:

I will be chronicling my trip through the writings I scribbled down in my journal. I hope to be completely honest in my experiences- good and bad. I do not claim to be a history buff nor a well seasoned traveler- so I understand if one may have very differing views of areas I will be writing about, but this is my personal experience as I saw, smelt, touched and ate my way through 4 countries.

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The novice with a notebook and a backpack.

Where she has 8 clean pair of underwear and an open mind.

November 21, 2013//8pm American Time

Sitting in the airport about to leave. We will be flying to London for a 40 minute layover. I wish that we were staying long enough to see it. It’s my first time flying on British Airways, and I feel like a “real” traveler already. Everyone around me has different accents that tell of their journeys that they have weathered- the ones that I am about to experience for myself. Going on my first back packing trip is like crossing over into a new world- one where travelers speak their own language of passion and intrigue- and me and my 45 gallon pack are suddenly allowed to sit at the table and listen.

I am entering this trip hoping to truly move something inside of me. I am honestly quite frightened. Not for my safety or health- but of the unknown. I am scared I am going to be severed from the possession and places that define me- and when those things are gone I will find something within myself that scares me. Like that I was naive to believe that I could really travel 3 weeks on 2 measly outfits and some travel toothpaste. That my idea of traveling was but a fool’s paradise that will melt into a big ugly puddle of disillusion in front of me. (I can be quite melodramatic when left alone with a pen, can’t I?)

Last night I journaled a small prayer:

“Lord, please keep my heart and my mind wide open. Show me a part of myself and a part of you that I must fight for. Help me find a deeper connection to the world, to develop relationships that enrich, to be blessed by strangers, and see the world with childlike curiosity.

I want to let go of my need for control that as kept me from loving others over being comfortable. I want to embrace my individualism outside of vanity. I want to soak in my surroundings to my very core- learning more than what is simply given to me. Please help me eat up every little bite of beauty and let it pour out of my work and my life in a way that changes the world around me and brings glory to your name. I want to learn who I am without the comforts of home or the material possessions that I believe to define me or others. Give me the strength to be authentic and full of beauty the world lends to me for the next 3 weeks. Amen.”

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November 22, 2013// 1:30am Rome Time

I need to sleep, but I wanted to write a few things down about the day.

We flew around 15 hours and finally arrived in Rome around 8pm. It’s a 9 hour difference between here and the states. We took a train to the home we will be staying in for the next 2 nights. We found most of the places we will be staying through Air B&B, and tonight we are sharing a small apartment with a woman named Angiola, a writer in her late 50s. She came and picked us up at the station- which we were extremely grateful for because we were worried about being able to find her place in the dark. Once we arrived at her apartment, small but full of old charm- white washed with creaky wood floors and high crowned walls, she poured us a glass of wine and patiently helped us figure out how to get to the colosseum. We met her brother who currently lives with her. He introduced himself as Michelangelo, followed by the only english he knew: “like the painter!” in a giddy Italian lilt. We wasted no time getting back out to explore, even though it was dark, cold and raining (a temperament that would follow us around for most of our time in Rome).

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Google has ruined the magic of the great wonders of the world. Before the all mighty internet, one would have to actually TRAVEL the world to see something like the colosseum. And I stood in front of it sadly realizing that the pictures on Pintrest that I looked up a few days before were alot better looking than the real thing. (Note from future self: Rome wasn’t my favorite. And before you get worried that I’m going to rant on google being better than one of the most important historical sites in the world, I won’t. Until we get to Paris.)

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We got some pizza at a small cafe. We learned very quickly that there is no such thing as free water here. If you want water, it will be bottled and almost as expensive as your entire meal. So you might as well have a beer.

Walk through this world of tiny cars, ornate buildings and gelato- wondering how we could really actually be here. Right now. Starting our journey.

When we get back to the apartment, we realize we can’t figure out how to use the Italian keys. We end up waking up Angiola with our loud attempts of entering past midnight. She graciously assured us that she was “up writing”, but I saw her robe and disheveled hair and tip toed around the house to keep from any further disturbances.

Clint excitedly told me there was a urinal in the bathroom, along with the toilet. (This “urinal” turned out to be a beday. But I’m pretty sure he still peed it for the remainder of our visit.)

More to talk about later, but it’s 1:30am and I haven’t slept for 2 days.

Buonanotte!

 

When you decide to be an artist.

Well. I promise I’m still alive, I’ve just been under a pile of projects and I have been exhausted in the best type of way. I’ve been in New Orleans doing interior design for an upscale boutique. It was so much fun being able to really get my hands dirty and do everything I love at once: paint, design, photograph and eat. And boy did I eat. I won’t even start on that subject, because I won’t be able to stop gushing about the things you can consume in Nola.

The woman that owns the store graciously allowed me to stay in her guest home- a small cottage hidden behind her beautiful victorian home. It was previously a carriage house back in 1822 with all of it’s original wood and flooring. I was over the moon about it with it’s simple white washed walls and worn in bones that held 200 years of history.

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Something I love about Nola is it’s sense of community. The stores open later in the morning and everyone walks to cafes with their close friends and dogs. Every morning, the sunlight would pour into the carriage house- waking me up without an alarm clock at 7am, and by 7:30, Dianna and I were walking to a local breakfast stop, with her french bulldog Poppy in tow, for coffee by the gallon and a pastry. People would come up and talk to me like I was a long lost friend- asking about my life and giving me advice about my upcoming trip to Europe. This was so refreshing (and a bit shocking, honestly) compared to the typical awkward smiles from strangers followed by them avoiding eye contact by scanning their instagram feed.  On the first day, I thought we might have just happened to stumble upon a few friendly people by chance, but as the days went on, it really was that the majority of people were asking “how are you” without wanting to hear an unauthentic “great!!” in return.

Dianna requested that I create a holiday display for the store that wasn’t your typical Christmas decorations. So I decided to make the entrance of the store into a wintery snow land that embraced the season while still bringing the focus to the furniture. I really wanted the customers to have an interactive element to get engaged into the display and leave with a positive emotional tie to the store. So I decided to make a “wishing tree” where costumers could write down something they wish for or want to do before they die and hang it on the tree.

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I painted a huge branch (quite a bit more messy and used far more paint that I expected) and suspended it from the ceiling so that the stories would hang over you as you shopped. Within a few days, the tree was full of beautiful wishes from one wishing that she would write a novel about her humorous dating relationships to someone wishing that they might live without abandon this year. As a lover of stories, I would check it over and over to see if there were new ornaments to read.

On one of the last days I was there, Clint was released a week early from his rig due to bad weather and was driven to New Orleans to fly out from the airport there. So he was able to come surprise me and see the store, grab some local food and stay in the carriage house with me for the night before flying out the next day. I thought it was so fun that we both happened to be there at the same time and were able to meet up.

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Other nights, Dianna showed me the dangerous addiction that is Nola food, go to an art gallery show and meet some new amazing faces. I couldn’t have asked for a better week.

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And honestly, I am still in complete awe that I have been given the opportunity to get paid to use my passion for design. I remember a few years ago being so reluctant to completely submerge myself in the creative world. I hoped business school would stomp it right out of me and I could have a career in something “normal” or made people “proud”. And honestly, I was pretty scared. Putting your art out to the world is so extremely vulnerable and exposes a part of your soul. What if people think it’s weird or I flop right on my face and into a big fat puddle of acrylic paint? What if people don’t get what I do? (Spoiler: they don’t.) As the years passed, I found the only things that made me feel truly alive were those design projects that I would do in the safe secrecy of my own home.

And then I dropped the bomb. “Oh hi parents. You know all those business classes I’ve been taking for the last couple of years? Soooo.. funny thing is… I think I want to be an artist. Oh. And move to Austin. Oh…and one more tiny detail..funny I almost forgot..I’m get married.” And of course, in my subtle and mature manner, this was sent in a text message. “GOIN TO B AN ARTIST! LUV U LOTZ!”

So then there were those years in between where I struggled to find out what being a designer even means and where I fit into that equation. And then those art classes that made me feel like a failure as [TRUE STORY] my teacher picked up my art work and threw it on the ground saying “if I wanted something cute, I would have gone to F*&#KING HALLMARK”. Well tell me how you really feel.

And then that time I was hired as an office assistant as, what I’m sure was, a pity hire because I was newly married with both Clint and I in college in a brand new city and didn’t have 2 dimes to rub together. And then she happened to see something I was designing on my computer and asked if I wanted to apply for the position of a graphic designer for the firm. Of course! The only minor problem was, I didn’t know a thing about graphic design. Like- I didn’t even own photoshop. I used the free version on the school computers. So, I faked it until I made it. I would go home and spend hours teaching myself design from youtube videos and books. I studied every designer I could find and tore out pages of magazines to try and reduplicate them myself. Then I would go to work and design. And then I would go home and work on it for hours without pay to make sure it was perfect. And I found out that I liked graphic design. A whole lot. And the clients kept coming back. And we got paid and got to use the heater! BOO YA. And so began design. Finally I had found my place. I wasn’t an artist I was a designer. And you can imagine my relief. I can’t hardly draw a stick figure and was in art classes with teachers who were surely quite fearful for my creative future. But DESIGN?! I could actually do this. And love it.

From that time on, I found my place in interior design and graphic design as my happy and alive place. And I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams by people who took a chance on me and allowed me to try and make their companies more beautiful. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with people ranging from small homegrown companies all the way to designing for Free People/Anthropologie. And most of those opportunities came from really putting myself out there in an uncomfortable way, hoping that I might have something to offer them.

And yes, I still have the people who think “I don’t have a job” *palm to forehead* or don’t understand what I do, but I am now doing exactly what I feel God wired me to do. And there are still those days I wish I didn’t have this unquenchable desire to completely redesign everything or have to resist the urge to reposition the furniture in someone’s home, but I am so completely happy and fulfilled by what I’m doing and all the projects I am taking on.

And through my crazy and sometimes awful (my resume being all the grey hairs on Clint’s head he’s sprouted during the last 3 years) journey, I have learned that you have to make the leap. You HAVE to. And people are going to think you’re weird and you’re going to feel insecure and want to leap back to the safe monotonous side of life, but it’s so worth it. Because the world has a way of embracing and changing for a person who is brave enough to grow up to be themselves. So leap! And then write me a letter and tell me all about it.
XO, K.

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Lifescape.

Hannah from Cottonwood Road Blog and I decided to team up for a photo challenge. We have both recently been inspired by photographers that shoot the everyday (check out  A Year of Mornings) and decided we’d like to challenge ourselves to do the same. We shot one picture every day for 15 days, each picking our 10 favorites to share. Through these images, we hoped to bring celebration to the ordinary and realize that everything around us in life is art.

Hannah’s:

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I decided to focus my challenge on the simple things that give me peace and solitude. As a lover of all things vintage, I aimed my photography, over the last 15 days, to look like it had been shot with film. While it’s currently popular in photography to blow up the exposure to have that bright clean whiteness of an image, I have been studying the personality of film, which plays with shadows and has intrigue in the darkness.

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Hope you’re staying more dry than I am today.

XOXO, K.