travel

catching up

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So I know you must have missed my posts!

We have a lot to catch up on.  But where to begin?

Michigan peonies

The last time I blogged was before the official start of Summer…. and now it’s August.  Insanity.

I’m not going to give you some lame-o reason why I have been so silent.  Like, “oh I was busy”.  We all are busy.  We all have commitments, families, responsibilities, unexpected life events – and we all have the same hours in the day as Beyonce.   It’s all how you prioritize and manage your time.  And it’s safe to say that I’ve sucked at that lately.  A lot of times I find it extremely hard for me to just write, draw, or do anything random that I enjoy in my free time.  But as with anything you love, you pick back up where you left off.  So here it goes.

June flew by. We made our yearly vacation back up to the Mitten.  We spent a week trekking across the state – hitting Chicago, Detroit and everywhere in between.

Chicago Riverfront

I swear, there is never a dull moment on these Michigan trips.  Every year I bring a book along with me and am lucky to crack it once. Sure, it’s a little ironic because you go on vacation to relax, and we do get some down time, but it’s more like relaxed chaos.  Everyday of our trip seems to get booked up with commitments as we try to cram a year’s worth of hangout time into 1 week.   It always seems to feel hectic when we go home.  You’d think being there for a whole week would be long enough to see everyone we know and love, but it’s amazing how each time I go up there are people we miss.  I guess it’s one of the hard things about having family and friends spread out.  And you know, deciding to live about 1,500 miles away from your hometown.  But really, there’s no other feeling like being back at the place you will always call home….that place that takes you back to your roots.

Pure Michigan - Hidden Lake Gardens

And by the way, I had the best freakin’ time in Detroit.  Being downtown was absolutely phenomenal.  There’s revival in the air and I’m proud to see it coming back.  I just had to shout that out to the world.

Oh and if you find yourself there, do yourself a favor and hit up Detroit Institute of Bagels.  I bought one… and then followed that up with a whole dozen for the road.

IMG_2486

Our summer in Texas has consisted of lots of river tubing and picking back up with what seems like the endless list of renovating and maintaining an old house.  Don’t get me wrong, I love our 1954 ranch and would not trade it for anything.  Okay, mayyyybbbeee an oceanfront home on 30A, but that’s about it.  I can’t wait to share some of the details and some other new things happening around here in some future posts.

It’s good to be back to blogging after my sabbatical.   Hope you are enjoying your summer too!

Texas Sunset

Advertisements

some of the best career advice I’ve heard…. from that guy next to me on the plane

IMG_2127

As interesting as it is to people-watch at airports, striking up a convo with that stranger next to you can really be eye-opening.   Over the years I’ve met people from all walks of life.  Some of the most memorable have been a pro surfer, a woman who started a non profit to save animals, a childhood friend of Brett Favre, and now, Pat Williams, who taught me some pretty important life lessons that day.

We were boarding the flight back from our Miami trip when Pat sat next to me.  He was probably in his late 50’s/early 60’s, with a large hat on and a friendly face.   I said hi to him, then immediately warned him of my fear of flying.  I reassured him that I wouldn’t throw up or anything, but he may notice claw marks on my husband’s arm.  He asked what scares me, and I told him how I can’t wrap my mind around how something can go up in the air 30,000ft and land exactly where it’s supposed to.  My fear of flying (like everything else it seems!) has been getting worse with age, and I haven’t been able to kick the thoughts of OH SHIT THIS PLANE IS GOING DOWN every time we take off.

Pat is one of those people who are upbeat and instantly inspiring, and told me he had a severe health problem and used his faith to get through it.  He had me interested, so I asked what happened to him, if he didn’t mind sharing.  Turns out, he had a liver transplant a few years ago because of cirrhosis of the liver, but never was a heavy drinker!  (Did you know that approximately 15% of those who have liver cirrhosis get it without cause?)  He described what it was like to be on that waiting list for an organ for years, not knowing if the disease would take his life before he’d have his shot at a transplant.   I apologized to him for going through something so difficult.  He just said, “Hey I’m glad it happened.  It made me a better person than I was before. And for that I’m thankful.”

As we talked more,  I learned of his previous background in building materials and sales.  I brought up something to him I don’t always talk about in my career, something I struggle with.  I love interior design, but I also fight a internal conflict with it from time to time, finding it hard to personally justify all of the overly expensive things I put into client’s homes.  For instance, if some pillows are like $2000,  I think, Wow we could have fed like how many children in Africa with this money!?  If you know me at all, you know I have a huge problem with letting things go to waste or blowing money on stupid shit, so it can make me feel guilty sometimes.

Pat’s response was that these people come to me because they want advice on how to spend their money, and it’s my job to guide them through the process.  It doesn’t make me a bad person because I’m selecting a $50K appliance package for their home.  He encouraged me to find a way to give back, whether it’s some extra money I make on a job to a charity, my time volunteering, or share resources I have with others.

We talked about all kinds of things and it made the flight go by super quick.  We said our goodbyes and I really felt like meeting him was a powerful and inspiring experience for my life and career.

These were main take-aways from our convo.  It’s such valuable advice for a young designer like myself, but really could be helpful to almost anyone in creative or sales positions:

  • Remember: You are the best thing that ever happened to your client.  You are an expert in your field, so if I client comes to you for expertise it’s because they believe in you.

  • Stand behind your work, and never apologize for the work you do.  (Unless you screw something up, then apologize.)

  • Don’t do business with anyone you don’t like.  You will almost always lose money.  And if you don’t lose money, you’ll lose time.  It’s okay to fire a client if things are not working out.

Glad I could share some of this insight with you! Enjoy the weekend ahead!

I’ll be back on a plane in less than 24 hours, heading back up to the Mitten…. who knows who I’ll meet!  Have you ever met anyone interesting while traveling?  Or has someone you barely knew been able to provide you with helpful advice? 

our miami trip in pictures

Is Memorial Day weekend really here?!  Too crazy.

We spent our 5 year anniversary in South Beach, and I realized I haven’t shared pics from our trip yet!  Most of them are Insta-repeats but none-the-less, as you can see, we had an amazing time.

PS> Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Take a moment to remember why we celebrate this holiday weekend.  Cheers to those brave individuals who sacrifice so much while fighting for our freedom!  xo

IMG_2135  IMG_2219 IMG_2251

????????????????????????????????????

IMG_2254

IMG_3317 edited

IMG_2258

????????????????????????????????????

IMG_2148

west texas adventure

Last month, I (against all wishes) turned 30.  Sigh.  The age I’ve been dreading since hitting 25.   Not trying to over dramatize it, but seriously, I WAS NOT looking forward to it. AT ALL.  (You can read all my lovely thoughts about that here.)  What better way to welcome in a new decade than a weekend trip to the quiet, desolate, and immensely beautiful area known as West Texas?

I had heard how awesome Big Bend National Park was, and could not wait to see it for myself.  That was my top priority.  And it did not disappoint whatsoever.

Big Bend overlook

I only wish we had about 3-5 more days to explore.  We had enough time for one hike along the Chisos Mountains.  Here’s some pics from the Lost Mine Trail:

Big Bend Lost Mine Trail Pano Big Bend Foggy Morning Big Bend Lost Mine Trail Views (edited)

It was about a 3-4 hour hike.  There are signs everywhere about mountain lions and bears inhabiting the area, so chalk up a couple more points for me in the facing fears department.  (I’m becoming a pro at that lately.) And a random sign about ancient swamp creatures.

Big Bend Swamp Creatures

We headed over to Marfa, which was so much different from what I expected.  It’s like a ghost town until you dig beneath the surface.  There’s all these random warehouses that look abandoned at first glance, and then boom, you walk in and an art gallery appears before your very eyes. There’s such a great underground community of makers, shops, and restaurants.

Marfa downtown edited

Mirth Marfa  Marfa warehouse

marfa sign

The most surprising and impressive art display was the Andy Warhol art exhibit we stumbled upon.  There were 3 larger than life paintings from his Last Supper collection.   (We weren’t allowed to take pictures – but I did find this pic online.)

AW-marfa-03

Source: Ayn Foundation

And of course, no trip to Marfa is complete without making a stop at the Prada.

prada marfa instagram - nataliya borener

We spent a little time in Alpine.  Mainly in the form of treasure hunting at a nearby antique shop.

southwest style Building Art in Alpine, Texas

Our last stop was Marathon, Texas.  With a population of less than 500, blink and you may miss it.  It was so incredibly charming, and home to the Gage Hotel.  As soon as I got there I was mentally booking my next trip.

The Gage Hotel The Gage Hotel beautiful landscaping The Gage Hotel Courtyard Rooms

Overall I’d say the whole 30th birthday thing was a success! Love surrounded me from friends and family near and far, and I got to spend time with that one person that knows me more than anyone else (besides God I guess) and still loves me (yes, he must be a saint!).

Hope you enjoyed a few of the many pictures from our West Texas adventure!  Happy Friday! xo

these days.

Woweeeee it’s November! (Just in case you didn’t realize.)  I’m not sure where the time has went, but I wanted to let you know whats been going on here….

Last month, we planned a last-minute weekend road trip to Florida.  I have been wanting to make the trip back to Destin for about 2 years now but finalllllyyy it seemed to work out.

all packed and ready to go

The week of the trip, I noticed Erin Gates (the extremely fab blogger of Elements of Style) was going to be in Houston for her book signing the same day we were leaving.   Umm perfect, we would be passing right through there.  Well almost.  I still had to work that day, get on the road in time, and brave traffic to make it to the 6-8pm signing.   I swear I probably averaged about 85mph, but lucky for me the stars aligned and I got there with about 15 minutes to spare.  I walked into Tootsies feeling frantic and a little underdressed in my 11 hour car drive attire.  (Kinda ironic as I’m buying a book called Elements of Style.)  Erin was super nice and totally understanding of rough appearance.  It was great to chat for a couple of minutes, and then we were on our way.

IMG_0331

The trip to the Emerald Coast was much-needed.  Truthfully, I’ve been looking for a way to get back there for a visit since we moved in 2011.  It’s one of those places that will always be a home to me.

IMG_0370

 

IMG_1920 resized

 

IMG_1925 resized

IMG_0339

IMG_0369

Temps were right around 80 degrees and sunny each day.  We spent a lot of time at the beach, eating too much food, and hanging out with old friends.  I’m still so happy we could make it work.   We ended up leaving wondering why we ever moved away to begin with, and pondering what kind of lucrative airstream business we could open up to get our happy butts back to the beach.

IMG_1932 edited

IMG_0345

Other than that, not too much has been new.  Just working away like the busy bee that I have become.  Austin is booming and there is no sight of slowdown, which is great for the economy and business.  My 30th birthday and the holidays are right around the corner!  We’ve been picking back up with some house projects after taking a year off.  Hope to have some updates up here soon.  xo.