Say Something

Contax645, Kristen Kilpatrick, Bird Dog Wedding, Austin Texas Flowers, Austin Texas Wedding Stylist, Natural Light Photography Austin Texas, Design Love Fest, Fourth of July luncheon, Fourth of July inspiration, Fourth of July Party, The Kaki Pants, Mini Cherry Pies, Mini Pies, Champagne bar, Film Photography, Austin Texas interior, Claire Zinnecker Designs, Emily Leach, Fuji400, Austin Film Photographer, Blue House, Wildfox couture, Vintage inspired party, Retro austin house, Design Love fest DIY, DIY fourth of July party, Homemade popsicles, Fruit Popsicles, Mimosa Table,Shauna Niequist is my favorite author for a myriad of reasons. I love that she counts good food and travel amongst her top pleasures, that she viciously protects the time she has to spend with her family and friends, that she’s a voracious reader who gives out tons of excellent book recommendations. I love the way she writes about all of these things, and I love how she puts ideas and thoughts on paper in such an eloquent, impactful way. So many times when I’m reading her books, I lurch straight up in my chair or my bed and think, “You feel this way too? I thought I was the only one!” Shauna captures so many emotions I’ve experienced in such a concise, communicable way, striking through the very core of me.

Of all of the chapters in all of her books, “Say Something” (from Bittersweet) is the one that struck me the most profoundly. I could go on and on about everything I loved about the chapter, but instead, I’d rather share Shauna’s powerful words with you directly from the source:

“When something bad happens, people say the wrong things so often. They say weird, hurtful things when they’re trying to be nice. They say things that don’t hurt until later, and then when they do begin to hurt, you can’t get the words out of your mind. It’s like a horror movie: everywhere you turn, those awful words are scrawled on every wall.”

“Some people [don’t] know what to say, and they [say] just that. ‘I heard what happened, and I don’t know what to say.’ That is, I’m finding, a very good response. Because there was another group of friends who said nothing. I love them, and I know they love me, and the point is not what they did or didn’t do, exactly. The point is that they taught me something, and it’s this: say something. Always say something. Now when a friend loses a job or when a heart is broken or when the test results are bad, even when I don’t know what to say, I say something.”

“I know we’re busy. I know we forget sometimes. More than anything, I think, we so desperately don’t want to say the wrong thing. It’s impolite, we’ve been told, to bring up nasty topics like loss and sadness. But if we don’t bring it up, what are we left with? We talk about the easy things, the happy things, the weather, and then we leave one another totally alone with the diagnosis or the divorce papers.”

“I learned to say something. And I offer my apologies for all the times I didn’t say something. I’m really sorry about that. For a whole bunch of not very good reasons, I didn’t know better then. But I know better know. So when there’s bad news or scary news or something falls apart, say something. Send a note. Send a text. Send flowers. And if you don’t know what to say, try this: ‘I heard what happened, and I don’t know what to say.'”

Though I really took this advice to heart when I first read the book several years ago, implementing it whenever possible, I’m understanding the lesson so much more acutely since Callie’s terminal diagnosis a few weeks ago. Our family and friends have been unbelievably supportive during this trying time, and equally as heartwarming as their outreach and care has been is the response from people that we know through friends of friends or church or social media. They contacted us through text or email or in person, and they said something. They didn’t say something complicated or mind-blowing or other-worldy; instead, they said something that was simple and comforting. And those words meant, and continue to mean, the world to us. We are so grateful for everyone in our lives – ranging from our parents, our siblings, our best friends, and our small group to our coworkers, neighbors, parents of friends, workout instructors, and mailman (yes, our mailman!) – who has taken the time to acknowledge what we are going through, to say something. It means more than they know, and it has inspired us to continue to do the same to the people in our lives who are going through difficult seasons.

Image via Kristin Kilpatrick for designlovefest

Floral Crown Workshop

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAt the end of April, Allison and I spent an evening at a floral crown workshop hosted by one of my favorite local florists, Bows + Arrows (remember when they made this gem for our engagement photos?). Taking a floral crown class had been on my bucket list, so I was supremely excited for our night out. It turned out just as perfectly as we had hoped it would, with the studio full of flowers and treats and champagne and girls ready to learn how to make their masterpieces. Alicia, one of the owners of the studio, taught us how simple it is to make flower crowns, even if you don’t have access to fresh flowers every day. Foraging for pretty greens and buds in your yard or your neighborhood really goes a long way, she said, as long as we narrow down a color scheme, which will help us be consistent. She taught us about which supplies are the most helpful to have on hand (namely floral wire and floral tape), and I bookmarked this helpful tutorial for future crown-making adventures. The tips on this post are so similar to the things we learned in class; I’ll definitely be relying on it for future floral crafting sessions!

IMG_1462 IMG_1588 IMG_1593 IMG_1490 IMG_1491 IMG_1590My favorite part of the class was choosing the florals and greens I would use to make my crown. Every beautiful flower in the studio (yes, every single one) was at our disposal, so it took some time to narrow down a color palette and overall scheme. Peonies are amongst my favorite flowers, so I knew that I had to go with a dark pink version as the focal point of the crown. Everything else just fell into place from there. Alicia definitely helped a lot, but I found myself getting the hang of it towards the end of the evening. I felt like an absolute goddess when I finally placed my creation atop my head and, of course, I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate it in my ensemble on a daily basis.

IMG_1460 IMG_1464 IMG_1591 IMG_1493This workshop was way too much fun, and it was so wonderful to get to share in it with my dear friend Allison. What a perfect evening!

Peach Season

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWhile we were at the ranch a few weekends ago, my sister-in-law, Christy, and I went peach-picking. The idea came from my mother-in-law, Denise, who had peaches covering every available surface in her kitchen when we arrived, spurring on a conversation about her recent outing to pick fruit at a local farm. I’m not much of a peach girl, honestly, or at least I thought I wasn’t – I don’t like the way peach-flavoring has become associated with an overly-sweet sugary taste – but when I tasted the fresh ripe peaches, I was smitten. These perfect pieces of fruit were more like a combination of a juicy peach and a tart, flavorful nectarine (one of my favorite fruits). Instantly, I was hooked.

IMG_2677Christy and I wound our way through a dusty back road to Childress Farm, a family owned farm and ranch where peaches, blackberries, pecans, and other treats grow in abundance. We met one of the brothers who owned the farm, and he was so funny and kind, indulging us in conversation about his property and produce. He instructed us to fill a half bushel to our heart’s content, eating as many free peaches as we’d like during our adventure (for the record, we each had at least three). The sun was beating down on us and though many people had already come through to pick peaches, there were still many thriving trees full of ripe fruit. We had the place to ourselves so we chatted while we sorted through the peaches, picking those that were ripe or on their way to becoming ready. Peach juice dribbled down my chin as I snacked on one piece of fruit after the next, and the sky was perfectly blue. In that heavenly moment where all truly seemed right in the world, I realized I was officially a peach convert. Now I’m counting down the days until next year’s harvest! In the meantime, we’ll use up the 80+ (yes, you read that right – 80+) peaches that are stored in the freezer in pies and cakes and muffins and breads

Beauty Truths

5212015_177There are so many things I love about writing for Darling Magazine. The publication, both in print and online, serves as inspiration for so many readers, and being a small part of that is such a blessing. One of the things I love most about writing for Darling is my relationship with my online editor. She is a smart, sharp young woman who gives me the freedom to present her with pitches concerning a variety of topics, many of them personal to my own life and interests. Most recently, I got to write about beauty truths that I’ve learned from my trips to Ghana, lessons I’ve taken to heart about body image and self-worth and what’s really important in this world. It was an honor to get to share some sentiments that I’ve learned from my experiences working for Touch A Life. I love the picture above of three of our amazing girls, Patience, Janet & Forgive. They have taught me so much about gratitude and self-care and peace and happiness that comes from within, ideals I try to focus on instead of worrying about first world problems, like how my jeans fit. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

In Ghana I am reminded that good health is the utmost privilege, the most important and valuable aspect of anyone’s life. I am reminded that curves are gorgeous, that a smile is truly a window to the soul, and that everlasting beauty comes from within. I am aware that these are also lessons I could learn in the U.S.; they are embraced and exhibited by incredible women all around the country on a daily basis. But for me, I needed to be removed from the cultural influences that seep into my consciousness without my awareness in order to fully understand them. I needed to literally and figuratively step outside of my comfort zone in order to understand how greatly I had been impacted by messages from the media, and for how long.

Head on over to Darling’s site to read the post in its entirety, and let me know what you think!

Photo by Nancy Borowick 

Week & End

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHappy Friday! This has been a wonky week; due to Callie’s surgery, I stayed home to play nurse for a few days so it feels like time was simultaneously dragging on and flying by. Tonight we’re meeting our dear friends Allison & Taylor for dinner at True Food Kitchen. Allison is due any day now, and we can’t wait to meet her sweet girl, Ruby! The photo above is of the gorgeous (and beyond delicious) cake we feasted on at a celebration for Ruby last Saturday – isn’t it perfect? Tomorrow we’re meeting another set of beloved friends, Korena & Ian, at one of our favorite sushi spots in town. Other than that we’ll be snuggling with our pups, reading books in the backyard (I am totally loving Picnic in Provence), and whipping up a treat or two in the kitchen.

Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy some links from around the world wide web!

I trend toward minimalism as it is, possibly even obnoxiously so – I tend to get rid of nearly everything, sometimes even before someone is finished using it. Still, this 30-day minimalism challenge piques my interest. What do you think, would you try it?

Madewell + Sézane: the 2015 collaboration is HERE! I want everything, especially this, this, and this.

I loved this post that my friend Briton wrote about moving to Dallas. She just arrived from Boulder last month and she’s adjusting to life in Texas. We were introduced by one of my closest friends, Erin, and it’s been so much fun spending time together. I loved reading her sentiments on her blog; they reminded me so much of my emotional process when I moved here nearly six years ago. Her wisdom is inspiring!

While at the ranch last weekend, my sister-in-law and I went to Childress Farm to pick fresh peaches (more on that adventure soon!). I watched Ina Garten make fresh peach cake on her show and knew that was exactly how I needed to use my delicious produce.

Does anyone else follow Marnie The Dog on Instagram? She is a 12-year-old Shih Tzu and I’m basically obsessed with every photo (and hilarious caption!) that her owner posts.

Back in the Rhythm

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As I alluded to here, I’ve felt a bit out of my writing rhythm here on my sweet blog. While I really do believe that quality always trumps quantity, I feel ready to get back into a schedule of sorts, a regular posting plan that not only engages you, my lovely readers, but also inspires me and feeds my soul. I’ve always equated writing to exercising; if I get out of shape, out of stride, it’s harder to get back into the swing of things. My muscles atrophy and my endurance weakens. But once I establish a good, solid, rhythm, carving out a schedule for myself, I find my groove and realize that I’d been craving the consistency all along. I was rereading various posts on my previous blog, Through Painted Deserts, and it made me realize how much I love reflecting on all of my old pieces, allowing me to travel back in time to relive all kinds of experiences and memories. I want to recreate that same vibe here on this space. So on this Thursday evening in July, I’m committing to getting back into a writing rhythm; I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Image via House Doctor for sfgirlbybay

Callie

CallieHappy Tuesday, folks! I know I keep marveling over how quickly time is passing, but can you believe that it’s July 14th already?!

It’s been quiet around here, and if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the photo and update I shared about our beloved English mastiff, Callie. Two weeks ago she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. For consistency’s sake (and so I don’t drown my keyboard in tears), here’s what I posted:

Over the weekend we found out that our sweet, precious Callie girl has an aggressive form of cancer, one that gives a heartbreaking prognosis of only a few months left with us. We are, in a word, devastated. Our sweet love is only 6 years old; I took for granted how much time I would get with her, watching her & Coach grow up together, having her around when we have children someday. We are going to spend every single day making Callie feel even more loved & cherished than she already does. We don’t know for sure how much time we have left together but we are going to make every minute count.

THANK YOU to our family & friends for loving us so well, for supporting us, crying with us, bringing us meals & adult beverages & dog toys. To quote my wise friend Katelyn, people give pets a varying degree of worth, but to us, Callie has always been FAMILY, our first baby. To our people, our home team – thank you for embracing her as your family, too.

And to my Callie, I love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your mama. You have taught me about love, grace, and patience, and you have brought me out of the darkest of moments and celebrated alongside me during the happiest of days. Cheers to so many more adventures. I’m praying for a miracle for you, my love.

Callie underwent surgery yesterday, an amputation process that will hopefully eliminate the cancer for the time being, allowing her to be pain-free and to enjoy her remaining days (which will likely be prolonged, thanks to the procedure). It was difficult to have to make such a big decision so quickly but thanks to the support of our family & friends and to the peace we found through prayer, we truly believe that we did the right thing. Our main focus was providing Callie with a peaceful, pain-free existence; we refused to simply allow her to undergo this medical procedure just so we could enjoy her for longer. We consulted with many talented veterinarians, specialists & surgeons and ultimately decided that this route was the most humane way to go. Callie is home already and while she’ll definitely be on the mend for awhile, she is happy as can be; getting used to life post-surgery, certainly, but already gobbling up peanut butter and barking at the neighbors just like she was yesterday morning.

We are immeasurably grateful for so much – for God’s peace & grace that we’ve felt so intimately, for the consistent and generous outreach from family & friends, for the resources to be able to move forward with this procedure, and, of course, for our sweet Callie (and for Coach, too!). Thank you for continuing to keep her in your prayers as she recovers!

Around Here

Happy summer, the best time of the year! I’ve been traveling like a madwoman this month – since our brother-sister trip to Seattle, I’ve gone home to Chicago to spend Father’s Day weekend with my parents, to Little Rock for a business trip, and I’m heading to Malibu tonight to host a bachelorette party for Becca! Needless to say, there has been lots of coffee & books involved (my favorites being a piping hot flat white & Still Alice, respectively). While I am ready to enjoy some quiet weekends in July, I truly wouldn’t want my life to look any other way – I am so blessed by my travels and adventures.

I’ll definitely be posting some fun recaps when the dust settles, so in the meantime, I’ll be posting photos on Instagram! I’d love for you to tag along.

Seattle

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Andrew and I had so, so much fun on our brother-sister trip last weekend. Seattle was absolutely amazing, with perfect weather to boot. I couldn’t get over all of the gorgeous water and delicious fresh air. We stayed at the Ace Hotel in Belltown, which we loved – our room was darling and the amenities (free breakfast, including fresh waffles & Stumptown coffee) were fabulous. I have to share this synopsis about the Ace found on the hotel’s website because I thought it was so fascinating – I learned some things about the boutique chain that I didn’t know.

We fell in love with a former maritime workers’ hotel in Belltown and started our first-ever hotel in 1999. It’s where our roots are — the unfussy luxury and intentional design ethos that drive the Pacific Northwest. Loft ceilings, hardwood floors (wherever we could preserve them) and art by our friends like KAWS and Shepard Fairey in guest rooms were some of the elements that put us on the hotelier map, and they’re still a touch point for Ace today.

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The hotel is located a stone’s throw from the water, which is bordered by an ideal running path encompassed within Centennial Park that’s adorned with art installations and rose gardens, ensuring that we always had something beautiful to look at while we jogged. We spent so much time with Karli & Nick, our treasured friends who also served as the most incredible tour guides. Kar & Nick live in the Ballard neighborhood, a sweet area lined with darling houses and great restaurants. They took us to so many good spots – Pike Place Market, Gas Works Park (my favorite! all of that gorgeous water, wow), Kerry Park (such a good view of Seattle nestled in the gorgeous Queen Anne neighborhood), and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

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In regards to food, we ate very well. We savored oysters & Negronis at Essex before noshing on bacon & onion pizza at Delancey. We drank fizzy fruit-infused beverages at Rachel’s Ginger Beer (apropos name, no?) and soaked up sun on the heavenly patio at Westward, where we devoured more oysters, sardine, arugula & avocado toast, flavorful vichyssoise & rosé (if I had to choose, I vote for Westward as my favorite spot of the weekend). We dined in style at Single Shot, where I enjoyed a delicious pork chop with smashed peas & roasted potatoes, and we had late-night dessert at Pie Bar. We inhaled biscuit sandwiches & iced lattes at Morsel, and we cooled down with ice cream at Molly Moon’s (I had strawberry with lemon curd in a homemade waffle cone – heaven).

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In sum, the weekend was totally perfect. I fell head over heels for Seattle and its waterfront lifestyle, and I am already plotting my return. Best of all, I got to enjoy the weekend exploring the city with Andrew, which was the most special. I can’t wait for our next trip together!

P.S. Andrew was the photographer on this trip – he’s so talented – so enjoy a few photos from my iPhone for now!

Brother-Sister Trip

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I can’t believe I’m typing this but I’m getting on yet another plane today, this time for a personal adventure – a brother-sister trip to Seattle! Andrew and I started a tradition of taking siblings-only trips a few years ago (check out a recap of our Austin trip here), and I’m so excited to explore a new city together. I visited Seattle during my senior year of college and haven’t been back, and Andrew’s never been, so it’s a perfect place for us to have an adventure. We’re staying at the Ace Hotel and we’ll get to spend plenty of time with our besties Karli & Nick, who moved to Seattle in January. We’ll definitely be devouring pizza at Delancey (I read the book about the restaurant and loved it) and enjoying the weekend’s amazing weather. Other than that, the agenda is wide open. I can’t wait!