'Tis the season for winter squash! I typically like throwing squash in a curry dish but I was in the mood to take it a sweeter route last night - and we have a bin full of local apples to use up. I had to work late last night so directed Jeremy on how to make this meal from my office:
1) Cut an acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds
2) Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of salt.
3) Stick cloves around the edge (apparently this was tricky...)
4) Fill the middle with chopped apples and sprinkle with cinnamon
5) Bake at 400F for 40-60 minutes (make sure to bake in a dish filled with about .5" of water and cover with tin foil to keep from drying out).
What's your favorite winter squash recipe? I need to load up on ideas - we'll be eating lots of it over the next few months.
P.S. I already mentioned how I love shopping at Native Roots but if you're in OKC you have to check out Urban Agrarian. They used to sell local veggies out of a van on Sundays but now they have a permanent spot in Downtown OKC next to the old farmer's market - they're open Wed-Sun from 10am - 6pm.
I spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving thinking about how it's quickly becoming my favorite holiday. I decided in the middle of last week that I was going to spend four whole days quietly thinking about what I was thankful for and that I would report back here with some new found illumination on the meaning of life. It was going to be like a Sophia Coppola movie with a sleepy soundtrack - I had it all planned out.
But just when I started to take myself a little too seriously, I went from a Sophia Coppola film to a John Hughes flick and fell into the lake with my sister and 3-year-old nephew. It was a series of events led to our Thanksgiving baptism of sorts - it started with Tara insisting I get in the kayak with her followed by Jeremy insisting that we all load up in the kayak together on the bank of the lake excited to give us a bold send-off into the lake. And with one good push we rolled into the lake.
I was so present in that moment - I remember thinking how perfect it was that we were being dunked into a cold lake on Thanksgiving day. And in that split second, just before we hit the water, I swear I found the meaning of life.
A few months ago I had dinner with my friends Bryan and Kendi. Over wine and food we exchanged sarcastic quips and stories about being creative entrepreneurs, bloggers and life in general. Once I was good and tipsy Kendi revealed to me that she was going to open a store, called Bloom, just north of Dallas - and that she needed a logo, signage and business cards and for said store. In like ... a week. I made her buy me another glass of wine and said YES.
Kendi wanted something understated, clean and industrial - a bold contrast to the really beautiful and feminine clothes she would be carrying in her store. I wanted to do something that was a little bit of a visual nod to her and Bryan's photography business, Photograhers Skeen, too.
After I knocked the logo out we tackled the exterior signage (I love the little hello. decal on the front door - that was Kendi's idea) and a more bold cut-out stainless steel sign for behind the cash wrap. Meanwhile, Kendi is working her magic (read: not sleeping for weeks at a time) and getting the store remodeled and stocked for a quick opening. We worked seamlessly, hundreds of miles apart, on different pieces of the puzzle - having faith that it would all come together to make for a beautiful shop.
On my way back up from Austin last weekend I stopped through McKinney, TX (which is a magical little town where characters played by Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock live) and made Kendi open her store on her day off so I could see the whole shebang - and you guys, the place is amazing. I'm so proud of the hard work Kendi put in to see this dream of hers come to fruition.
Visit bloom online here: www.bloomdowntown.com
Most of the time I'm a designer. But sometimes I'm a model.
When my friends at Shop Good (aka Jeremy's favorite store ever) asked me to model for their Holiday Gift Guide I had to say yes. What's so cool about Shop Good is that every purchase made impacts local and global communities for good (they not only buy ethically made clothes and jewelry, they also donate a portion of the proceeds from each purchase to a charity). If you want to look rad, and feel good while being a consumer Shop Good is your place.
Also - they don't judge me when I come in on a monthly basis to try on every pair of Warby Parker glasses in the store - even though I have 20/20 vision.
• Click here to see more in the Shop Good Holiday Gift Guide.
• Go here to Shop Good online - get 20% off your purchases 11/24 - 11/27 by entering promo: blackfridayforgood
Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation to blog about this. I genuinely love these people and this shop. F'reals.
Last weekend Jeremy and I took a little road trip down to Austin, Texas to spend some time with our new friends (and clients) Melissa & Dave. I'm designing a Paleo cookbook for Mel and she wanted to get a group shot of all the contributors for the back-of-the-book bios. And she promised food & drink.
So, it was this picture perfect scene. An outdoor feast + 75 degree temperature + a canopy of lights + beautiful people + great conversation - it was a recipe for magic. We talked about the creative process and art and food. We shared back stories and exchanged hearty laughs.
I need more of these kinds of scenes in my life - I'm thinking it starts by stringing some lights in my backyard. I'll cook and you bring the booze. How does that sound?
I was invited to speak at AIGA OK on the Culture of Design in Oklahoma. It was Pecha Kucha style which meant each speaker (there were 7 of us) was given 20 slides at 20 seconds each. There was a broad range of designers - from graphic, to furniture, to interior and architecture - all raising conversation about the design culture we're responsible for buying (and consuming) in Oklahoma. It was inspiring and thought-provoking.
I talked about how through my blog I've connected with artistpreneurs from all over the world. That the culture of design is no longer geo-specific - that you can be creative from anywhere. What people crave are authentic and genuine connections and now you can do that from anywhere - now it's easy to have friends from every corner of the world. I closed with the fact that what's really important is the content we creative Oklahomans are capturing, shaping and sharing with the world - from the heart - and from the heartland.
What do you guys think? How does the creative culture where you live contribute to or hinder your ability to be creative?
P.S. I'd like to mention how much I've fallen in love with speaking. Over the past year I've found that I really have something to say - and I always learn so much in the conversations that follow. So I'm going to put myself out there and say that I would love to come speak to your organization, company or club - about anything from personal branding, to being a friendlier (and more efficient) creative, to blogging.
P.P.S. I'll be facilitating a round table discussion at the Altitude Summit in Utah (January 2012) on using your blog as an authentic marketing tool. If you're going to Alt I'd love for you to join me in this conversation.
We're made to make babies. I get it. But it still seems so novel every time it happens.
It starts with the "I'm pregnant" conversation. After so many years of false alarms it's hard to believe that your friend is actually pregnant.
Then you get to watch her grow and it's strange how normal it begins to feel. You start to think 9 months is going to last forever - it's easy to forget there's a baby at the end of it all. It's all about the pregnancy, the feelings, the anxiety, and the blunt, yet fascinating, conversations about vaginas.
And then one day you get a text saying "she's here" and it's kind of full circle back to the "I'm pregnant" conversation. Because you just can't quite wrap your head around the fact that just yesterday your dear friend was telling you an everyday story about shopping at the grocery store and today - today, she has a baby.
I'm glad you're here, Molly. The whole world is glad you're here.
Jeremy and I hopped & skipped down to Texas for the weekend. I have a lot to share about what a great time we had with friends, old and new - but first, I have to honor The Road Trip.
There's something about 4 wheels on an open road that makes conversation more honest, colors more vivid and the future so full of potential. Every song that came on the radio was somehow fitting for the soundtrack to an impossibly charmed ride down I-35. The vibration of the road under my seat became rhythmic and I swear, in tune with the hum of the universe.
And damn, if those kolaches at the Czech Stop in West, Texas aren't the best thing in the whole world.
This time, 4 years ago, I had just moved into a little 1-bedroom duplex just blocks from downtown Oklahoma City after a lifetime in the suburbs. I had very little furniture and decided, on a whim, that I needed a desk. Even more than a sofa, I wanted a real desk. Something vintage and sturdy - with character and history. I decided that I was going to find this dream desk for $75.
And I did. So when I talk about fantasies manifesting themselves this is exactly what I'm talking about. I've left the tag on this desk to remind me of that.
Over the past 4 years this desk has been infused with the energy of a girl navigating her way through love, artistpreneurship, and more recently it's become the place to hide under in the event of an earthquake (we had two big ones in just one week). I plan on hanging on to this desk for a very long time - but I hope whoever gets it next pays exactly $75 for it and finds it worth every penny.
It's been over a year since our Everest Base Camp adventure. I didn't think it was so life-changing at the time but now I know - that experience planted a seed, and since then Nepal, trekking, adventure and the need to see the whole world has been growing in my bones. Since then I've been asking myself what's next?
A couple weeks ago Jeremy and I bought a ticket to Poland. Just like I was drawn towards Everest - Jeremy has had a hunch about Eastern Europe. So we followed his intuition and bought a ticket to Poland. While we're there we will trek the High Tatras in the Carpathian Mountains. But we also have some time to explore the area around us. We're thinking Prague, Vienna and/or Berlin - maybe even Budapest. Do you all have any recommendations? Do any of you live in the area? I'd love to meet any friends from J&K that we may have over on that side of the world.
The adventure is over half a year away, still - but it'll be here before we know it. I can't wait.
Top image via: Photo Review (graphic overlay by me)
Sometimes I don't even know that I'm scared until I feel the fight-or-flight-or-freeze sensation bubbling up from the pit of my stomach. The idea is that when animals or prehistoric humans were confronted with a threat the stress response was fight-or-flight-or-freeze. So no, I'm not being attacked by a lion or trying to protect my baby from a dingo but I am going through tremendous amounts of growth that push me out of my comfort zone. And with that I'm feeling the need to fight, flight or freeze.
FIGHT: I get aggressive and shitty. I buzz with unkind energy - directed at both myself and others.
FLIGHT: I start fantasizing about living in a cabin in the middle of the woods. Jeremy's out back chopping wood and I'm in an apron cuddling a little baby with ruddy cheeks and a white onesie.
FREEZE: Freeze only lasts for a few seconds at a time before fight-or-flight kicks in. Freeze is that moment where I find myself in a blank stare and wondering to myself "what am I doing?"
Obviously, flight is my favorite stress response method - because it pretends to be productive. And sometimes it is. But lately, when I feel the need to fight-or-flight-or-freeze I recognize that it's a symptom to let me know that I'm growing - that I'm stretching - and that if I can hold the position and stay the course for just a little bit longer I will be a better person for it.
Do you ever feel the need to fight, flight or freeze? How do you handle it? What do you do?
When Liz and I talk to each other it's with our hands, the creases in the corners of our eyes and our whole hearts. I'll start a sentence and she'll finish it for me. In our conversations we usually end up constructing these art directed fantasies that only take time (sometimes seconds, sometimes years) to manifest. In my mind I like to take on the whole world - I visualize my life, as I want it to be, in transparent layers (upon layers) and big pictures. Meanwhile Liz is taking on the details - she's boiling them down to their essence until they become this kernel of beauty and truth. Some kind of magic happens as we concoct these fantasies together - we trade stories about the grand future and the beauty in the present moment. Our conversations become a back-and-forth dance of adjectives, nouns and verbs. We affirm each other with words like clearly and exactly.
When Liz shared with me a link to her new blog (starting with a post that made me cry) I knew that it would be beautiful and articulate. And it is. I knew the details would take me to the magical places our face-to-face conversations do. And they do. Now you're invited to go there too.
Photos above from Liz's blog: Exactly.
I quit designing wedding invitations because the wedding industry is whack and brides (no matter how cool) always go a little crazy when planning a wedding.
Okay. That's not entirely true. Let me start from the beginning with how & why I started designing wedding invitations.
THE BEGINNING: INVITATIONS ON THE SIDE
It started when I designed my own wedding invitations. I really wasn't planning on designing them. I told Jeremy we would send out a letter to our nearest and dearest and call it a day. Well, I'm a designer and can't not design anything I'm creating. The invites grabbed the attention of Joanna Goddard (of A Cup of Joe) - she posted them to her blog and the world noticed. I started getting emails from brides-to-be asking if I could design their invitations. Meanwhile, I was working as a full time senior art director at an advertising agency - I was designing campaigns for the NBA Hornets, cable providers and credit unions. Designing wedding invitations on the side seemed like a fun creative release.
What I loved about designing wedding invitations is that I wasn't using my skills to sell something that I didn't really care about and there was a unique & real love story to tell in each design. I kept getting brides from all over the country and even overseas asking me to design their invites. Then it came to the point where designing invitations on the side became a part-time job. I was starting to feel like I was done with advertising and Jeremy encouraged me to try my own thing. I quit my job and within a year of freelancing I made almost as much as I was at my ad job. A large portion of that income was coming from designing wedding invitations.
THEN I GOT BITTER.
As my time became more in demand my prices went up. Now some brides were willing to pay more for their invitations than I paid for my entire wedding. I found the more a client paid for their invitation the crazier they were. Planning a wedding can take it's toll on anyone - no matter how laid back they claim to be.
9 times out of 10 I was sending out custom estimates (which take time to put together) to brides who had NO IDEA that people were spending THOUSANDS of dollars on invitations and wanted me to custom design & letterpress theirs for pennies. I would get these harsh emails about being "way too expensive." I don't blame them but at the same time it hurt my feelings. Around this same time I was finding designs - very similar to my own and not designed by me - all over the internet. Which is a whole other Freelance Matters topic.
It was easy to become resentful and bitter. And as we all know - this is not good for the soul.
I also found that even as I was gaining popularity (yay! business!) as a custom invitation designer I hated only being known for designing invitations. People started asking me about wedding etiquette and were asking me to design seating charts and place cards and you guys - I didn't even know such things existed. I had no idea there was a proper order of events... I mean, Jeremy and I were married by a sideshow performer. I was constantly clarifying that I am a designer and art director than happens to be known for designing wedding invitations.
THE ONE CRAZY BRIDE
Okay. I know you guys really want me to dish some dirt on the couple that pushed me over the edge. It's really not so bad but here's how it happened: One evening I got an email from a dysfunctional bride telling me that her rehearsal dinner went to shit and that it was all my fault because of the place cards I had designed for her. The groom asked me what I was going to do to rectify the situation. I double-checked my files and found no fault of my own. But I was still terribly upset that their rehearsal dinner sucked and that they thought it was all my fault. I refunded some of their money and put a note up on my rates page saying that I was no longer accepting wedding invitation clients. Done. But I was ready to move on - this was just the last straw that pushed me into action. So really, I'd like to thank that couple.
I should tell you guys now that 99% of the brides I worked with were amazing - every single one featured on J&K has been nothing short of perfect.
GROOMS ARE CRAZY TOO
Any time I got a request from a groom I knew the job would be a disaster. Grooms are contacting me because A) The bride doesn't really care of about the invitation and has passed this duty off to the groom (and guys seem to like my style) or B) Because the groom actually cares wedding invitations. Either way, they were always a little out of their mind. Not bad. Just a tad crazy. I'm telling you - the wedding industry demands a certain kind of perfection and breeds a certain kind of insanity that just doesn't jive with my work style.
SMALL BUSINESS BRANDING
At the same time, I was really getting into branding for small businesses. I felt like I was making a difference for artistpreneurs and microbusinesses - I was giving "the little guys" confidence to help grow their business and the look & feel to match. Branding seemed to be a lot less disposable but still just as personal as wedding invitations. I became passionate about talking about freelancing and giving other creatives advice for moving forward in their careers too.
BUT WHO'S GOING TO DESIGN MY WEDDING INVITATIONS!?
I have worked for some really amazing brides but not a single day goes by that I regret my decision to stop designing wedding invitations. But I'm also still asked by many couples for estimates. I send them to the following:
• Check out the designer rolodex and sponsors at Oh So Beautiful Paper - they're all amazing. And a huge thanks to Nole who always supported me and shared my work with the world.
• The sponsors at A Practical Wedding (the best site out there for the bride who doesn't want to lose her shit planning a wedding) are really great too.
• My friend Rachel at Pencil Shavings has a really rad style - and she does much more than just wedding invites!
So that's the story of how I began working with - and then quit working with brides. And grooms. I don't regret the work I did and I actually still have a couple more invitations to share with you all soon. Invitation design served me well and taught me lots of lessons - but I'm excited to move on to the next chapter of my career.
Do any of you design wedding invitations - either for a living or on the side? What has your experience been like? Are any of you wanting to break into the invite design business? Let's chat in the comments.
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- ▼ November (15)
- ► 2010 (387)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings