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As you know if you follow me on Instagram, I had the amazing opportunity this summer to intern in the Print Design department at Lilly Pulitzer’s headquarters (the Pink Palace!) in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Morgan Foery from Atlantic Anchors asked to interview me about my experience. She shared the interview here, but I’m also posting below for my own record! Read more about my experience below or on her blog!


What did you study in college? Did you always know you wanted to go to grad school?

I did my undergrad at Tulane University in New Orleans and majored in both English and Studio Art with a concentration in Painting. While in undergrad, I fell in love with design and interned at a small graphic design studio and also opened a small web and graphic design business with my husband (then boyfriend).

It was part of the way through undergrad that I learned about surface pattern design and that people could be fabric/textile designers for a living. I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do! A perfect combination of my love of art and design! I couldn’t study that at Tulane though, so I made the most of my time there, poured myself into my painting and graphic design work. I had long admired the Savannah College of Art and Design and dreamed about going to grad school there for textile design, but when I graduated from undergrad my husband had a lot of student loans that we needed to pay off. So I worked full-time in graphic design for three years post-grad and we lived really simply and worked hard to pay off all our debt. During that time I took online courses and in-person workshops with designers that I admired and taught myself repeatable pattern design. For a while I thought grad school was just a far off dream, but once we paid our debt off and I felt like I’d grown as an artist/designer on my own, I felt that grad school was the right next step for me.

Although going to grad school meant some crazy life changes for me (my husband lives in New Orleans while I go to school in Savannah!), I’m so glad I did it. I’ve grown so much as a designer and it has connected me to some amazing opportunities, like Lilly!

How did you become interested in Lilly Pulitzer?

Although I’d always known of the brand Lilly Pulitzer and their iconic prints, they weren’t really on my radar before grad school. My personal passions in textile design have been aimed more at the quilting cotton and interior design markets, I never really thought of myself as someone who would work in fashion. Lilly, along with many other companies, actively recruit from SCAD for interns and new hires because SCAD is known for really pushing their students in art and design. I certainly owe SCAD for the connection to Lilly!

What was the process like when you were applying to the Lilly Pulitzer internship? Was there any way you differentiated yourself during the application process?

There were many steps to the internship application/interview process. Initial resume submission, in-person interview and portfolio review, a special Lilly print project to see how well I could design to the Lilly brand, then additional video interviews.

I would always recommend during any interview to use it as an opportunity to make connections regardless of the final outcome. Be confident and use the interview to speak to your skills, of course, but be interested in the company and what they do as well. It is a great time to ask questions about how the team works, what the day to day looks like, ask the interviewer what their favorite part of their job is (and if you can, relate their answers back to things in your own experience as well), etc. Don’t take over the interview into topics that are irrelevant to the position, but show that you are interested, can make interesting conversation, and want to know more about the job/position/company. Even if at the end of the process you don’t get the job, you’ve gotten a small peek into a world that you wouldn’t have seen into otherwise. Everything is a learning opportunity!

What department did you intern in?

I interned in the Print Design department and also shadowed the Color, Fabric, and Trim Research and Innovation team!

What did your day-to-day look like?

During the time I spent at Lilly, I worked on the Summer and Resort Fall 2018 print lines as well as some special projects. My day-to-day varied depending on where we were at with each season, but mostly consisted of digitally cleaning prints and getting them as finalized as possible. That included putting designs into repeat, color reducing, re-coloring, re-sizing, and perfecting and tweaking the artwork. I did some original design work for border and engineered prints as well as an intern project print collection with the rest of the summer interns.

Was there anything you did this summer that you were really proud of?

Honestly, the time flew by so fast and between the demands of the print team’s collections and the summer intern print collection, I mostly felt like I was being pulled all over the place! I’m happy with all that I was able to learn from my position and I’m happy with how my intern print collection turned out, but I’m also hard on myself and feel like it could have been even better with more time.

If you had to describe your summer at Lilly with 3 words, what would you choose and why?

Bright, Happy, and Fun! The Pink Palace is such an inspiring place to be with color, print, and pattern everywhere. It is hard to wear and work around such bright colors without it making you feel happy and joyful! I also had the honor to work with an amazing group of interns and made some really awesome friendships. The summer was filled with great times with them both inside and outside of the workplace. The King of Prussia, PA area is also really beautiful in the summer, so exploring the area was great too.

What was the best part about your internship? Was there anything you didn’t love?

It was awesome to see the design to production process in person of such a large company and how things progress from print design to fashion, tech, and production design, through merchandising and planning, and all the other departments and on to product in stores. As an artist and designer, I love that Lilly prints always start with hand painting and original artwork and I think Lilly does an amazing job of keeping a very painterly feel in the finished designs.

There wasn’t really any part of the job that I didn’t love, but as with any new job it always takes a while to learn how things work and who is in charge of what. I’d never worked in a company that big before, so I was a little surprised by how distinct the hierarchy of design/positions were. Even with that though, Lilly still does a great job of having a team/collaborative approach. Overall, I really am so grateful for the opportunity to work there!

What are your plans after grad school?

I’m almost done, my only remaining class is my final project/capstone/Masters thesis!

My husband just started a graduate program in Louisiana, so I’ll be back in New Orleans when I’m done. I’m looking forward to settling my life down a little bit and figuring out what is next! I’ve always been interested in licensing my design work to fabric companies, so next on my list is to pursue that a little more! We’ll see!

What advice would you give someone who wants to apply for a Lilly internship?

Whether applying to Lilly, or anyone interested in the world of art/design in general, I would suggest taking the time to figure out what you have to uniquely offer through your work. Whether it be through conceptual ideas, sense of color, a design style or unique design process or content, make yourself stand out and find where your work fits into the world. You want to show not only your skills and strengths as a designer, but your creativity and that you can come up with new and original ideas. For Lilly in particular, I think it’s nice to be interested in a painterly Lilly aesthetic, but you also want to show that you can create more than just what they are already doing. It’s a company that values creativity, so I feel like the same can be said for any of the other departments as well.

This is a recipe I’ve been meaning to post for a long time and have just never gotten around to it! It probably would be better suited to the fall when people go crazy for anything pumpkin, but I think pumpkin is perfectly suitable to eat year round (although, it gets harder to find!). Pancakes have long been an occasional weekend staple in the Rowland household, but a year or two ago, I decided to try my best to stop eating unnecessary carbs. Since there is literally nothing healthy about a traditional pancake, I stopped eating them. Since I generally stick to as much of a Paleo diet as possible, this is a great occasional weekend breakfast treat! (I usually drink green smoothies for breakfast every day, recipe here.)

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes
makes 10-12 pancakes

Ingredients:
-1 (15oz) can pumpkin
-6 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-4 Tbsp pure maple syrup
-1 cup almond flour
-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or alternatively, 1 tsp nutmeg & 1 tsp allspice)
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp baking soda
-coconut oil, for cooking
-pure maple syrup, for serving
-optional extras for serving: Kerrygold butter, chopped pecans

Directions:
1. In mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup.
2. Add almond flour and combine.
3. Add spices and baking soda and stir to combine.
4. Melt coconut oil on an iron skillet or electric griddle.
5. Scoop out in 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle, spreading out slightly.
6. Cook on both sides until done (this will vary on temperature of your pan, I cook on a 350 degree griddle for a couple minutes per side).
7. Serve warm with butter, maple syrup, and pecans. A side of bacon and a cup of orange juice are also lovely additions!

Enjoy!

P.S. This does make a lot of pancakes! I’ve made many half batches before, but I hate that a half batch only uses 1/2 a can of pumpkin, and I never end up using the other half for anything. So I’ve started making full batches and then reheating leftovers for additional breakfasts. If you’d rather make a half batch (5-6 pancakes) here are those measurements: 1/2 can pumpkin, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp nutmeg & 1/2 tsp allspice), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda.

P.P.S. The original recipe that I started this from doesn’t call for the almond flour and I’ve made these many times without it. They are still great that way, however, they are really delicate and hard to flip without completely falling apart.

Shredded pork Carnitas (stuffed into arepas, on tacos, or in burrito bowls) is one of our favorite meals! So delicious and simple to make.

Shredded Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:
-~3 1/2 lb pork butt or shoulder roast
-2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-juice from 1 lime (or roughly 2 Tbsp)
-juice from 1 orange
-2 cups chicken broth
-2 tsp dried cumin
-1 tsp dried oregano
-salt and pepper, to taste
-serving ingredients, as desired (tortillas, arepas, lime wedges, avocado, sour cream/crema, cheese, cilantro, salsa, hot sauce, etc..)

Directions:
1. Melt butter or olive oil in dutch oven on the stove.
2. Salt and pepper pork on both sides and brown both sides in melted butter/oil.
3. Add onion and garlic to sides of roast, cooking slightly in remaining butter.
4. Add lime juice, orange juice, chicken broth, cumin, and oregano and stir until combined.
5. Put lid on dutch oven and place into oven. Cook at 350 degrees for ~3 1/2 hours.
6. 1 1/2 hours through cooking, flip roast. After another 1 1/2 hours (~3 hours total), roast should be tender enough to shred. At this point, I shred the meat up with a fork, removing any large bits of fat and the bone (if it has one). Stir shredded pork into juices, place back into oven, and cook for a remaining 30 minutes or so until tender and flavors are combined.
7. Enjoy on tacos, in burrito bowls, or stuffed into arepas!

Lately, arepas have been my newest food obsession! An everyday food in Columbia and Venezuela, arepas are a cross between a tortilla, cornbread, and a biscuit. They are naturally gluten-free, so I’m finding them to be the perfect quick and easy bread for sandwiches! We have a really great arepas restaurant in New Orleans (Maïs Arepas if you are in the area) and I found myself missing it while in Savannah. But out of limitation, comes innovation! I’m so happy I decided to try making my own arepas at home. So quick, easy, and delicious!

Arepas
makes four ~4 inch arepas (or 6 ~5 inch arepas with amended P.A.N. recipe)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup Donarepa precooked white corn meal (There are several brands of this, I just buy Donarepa at my local grocery store. Goya and Harina PAN are others. Make sure you buy precooked white or yellow corn meal, as regular corn meal or masa harina are not the same.) ***see update below
– 1/8 tsp salt (closer to 1/4 tsp if using regular butter)
– 1 Tbsp Kerrygold salted butter (I use this for its extra salty and delicious flavor, and that it is softer and incorporates easily into this recipe. If you use regular butter you will need to up the salt content slightly.)
-1 cup warm water
-coconut oil, for cooking
-toppings/fillings, as desired

***UPDATE: My local grocery store stopped carrying Donarepa so I switched to using P.A.N brand arepa flour instead (I actually like it better and I’ve found it to be more universally available). I’ve found that each brand of arepa flour needs slight adjustments to the flour/water ratio, so best to follow the directions on the back of your arepa flour. With P.A.N. arepa flour, I use: 2 1/2 cups warm water, 2 cups P.A.N. arepa flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp or so Kerrygold salted butter. This makes 6 larger (~5 in) arepas. 

Directions:
1. Measure arepa flour into a medium sized bowl.
2. In large measuring cup, measure out warm water, then add salt and butter and stir until dissolved. (One reason I love Kerrygold, other than its delicious salty flavor, is that it is softer and melts easily in warm water when sliced! If you replace with regular butter, you might have to melt it first.)
3. Stir wet ingredients into arepa flour until thoroughly combined and a soft dough forms.
4. Let dough rest (allowing the arepa flour to absorb more of the liquid) while electric griddle heats up.
5. Form dough into a ball and separate into four quarters (or six parts if using the larger P.A.N. recipe).
6. Shape each quarter of the dough into a ~4 inch thick flat circle (or ~5 if you want larger arepas).
7. Cook arepas on both sides in coconut oil on a flat electric griddle (at 350-400 degrees) until slightly golden on each side. Arepas should be soft on the inside and slightly crisp out the outside.
8. Enjoy as is, with cheese and melted butter, cut open and stuffed with meat, cheese, etc, or however you’d like!

I love them stuffed with white cheddar, shredded pork carnitas, avocado, and crema!

P.S. I strongly recommend using a non-stick electric griddle for making arepas. I’ve tried making them both on the stove in an iron skillet and in the oven instead and neither way has turned out very well. I’ve always had great success with these on an electric griddle and I use it all the time for making pancakes, tortillas, and other things as well!

Last year, I re-imagined the way I set yearly goals. Instead of setting traditional goals or benchmarks (which often look more like a yearly “to-do” list), I started to define my personal values and aimed to live with those values as a guide for my life. Over the course of the year, I found that living from my values instead of trying to meet specific “goals” made the things that I accomplished much more meaningful because they were purpose-filled. Not just as things I thought would be neat/cool/fun to do, but as things that were leading me in the direction I wanted to go and towards the values that I wanted to embody. Instead of frantically trying to check things off a yearly accomplishment list, I used my guiding values to evaluate decisions I made on how I spent my life/time. It allowed me to much easier say no to things that weren’t aligned with my values. Of course, I had some ideas of things that I wanted to make happen in my personal life and career, but letting values instead of goals guide me allowed myself to flow a little more, being open to what my future held (instead of being intent on making happen what I wanted to happen).

The guiding values that I set for 2016 were: create daily, live simply, value rest, and be open to adventure. (read more about them here) Over the course of the year, as I started to refine those values, I realized that they weren’t just things that I wanted to work on in 2016, but they embodied the way I wanted to live my life as a whole. A life filled with creativity, simplicity, mindfulness, and adventure.

For 2017 in particular, here are some of the ways I would like to live out those guiding values:

CREATIVITY:

  • refine my work — quality, deepen my personal style, define my “why”
  • market my work — build my brand, build a following, share patterns/studio/process on Instagram, shed the fear of putting myself/my work out there
  • finish graduate school (masters in fibers/textile design) — final portfolio that I’m proud of and is helpful to moving my career forward
  • get a job in the textile design industry (print & pattern)

SIMPLICITY:

  • live in the same place as my husband again! (only have/pay for one apartment!)
  • continue to live debt-free
  • continue to be mindful of the purchases I make for my home and clothing — only things I really love, need, and fit within my style/aesthetic
  • continue to be mindful of the environmental impact of my choices

MINDFULNESS:

  • come from a calm and peaceful place — center myself so that peace radiates from within
  • wake up every day with gratitude and love for life
  • learn to be alone
  • be better to my mind/body/soul — meditation, self care, rest, take real breaks, read for pleasure, journal, whole/paleo foods, nature, walks, exercise, empathy, kindness
  • direction and clarity for my life moving forward — refine my “purpose”

ADVENTURE:

  • let go of fear and let life flow — be open to the possibilities of my future

My mantra: I am strong, capable, creative, talented, brave.

I’m really excited to see what 2017 has in store for me! I know that it will be a year full of good/hard growth, but I’m confident there are exciting times ahead! Here’s to new adventures, discoveries, patterns, places, and opportunities ahead.

“There are stars you haven’t seen and loves you haven’t loved. There’s light you haven’t felt and sunrises yet to dawn. There are dreams you haven’t dreamt and days you haven’t lived and nights you won’t forget and flowers yet to grow and there is more to you that you have yet to know.” –Gaby Comprés

P.S. Past old year reflections and new year goals: Reflections on 2016Goals for 2016Reflections on 2015Reflections on 2014, Goals for 2015Reflections on 2013, Goals for 2014Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013, Happy 20122011 and 20 Before Twenty

P.P.S. The image above uses one of my favorite patterns I’ve made so far and also my own digital hand lettering! 

P.P.P.S. For more help in figuring out your own guiding values, look into Lara Casey’s Powersheets, Jess Lively’s Values Based Intentions, and the 52 Lists Project. I’ve found all of these helpful to me on my journey. 

In 2016:

Drew and I took a two-week backpacking trip across Europe. We visited friends in Copenhagen and they showed us around Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. Drew visited the renowned Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium while I spent the day traveling through Amsterdam, Netherlands and on to visit the tulip fields in Holland. We stopped in Paris for part of a day so that Drew could see the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, before we took a train up into the Swiss Alps for several days of exploring the beautiful towns of Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, and Stechelberg, Switzerland. We both fell in love with Switzerland — it’s quaint towns, breathtaking mountains, and crystal clear streams and waterfalls. We met up with my sister Kelsey as she studied abroad in Italy and explored the coastal cities in the Cinque Terre with her. She showed us around Florence and we ate the most delicious gluten-free pastries and more gelato in a week than I have in the rest of my life combined. We went on to eat the most amazing pizza in Naples and explore the ancient ruins of Pompeii. We ended our trip in Rome, seeing the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain and visiting Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel.

I applied to grad school at the Savannah College of Art & Design, got accepted, quit my job as a graphic designer, moved from New Orleans to Savannah, Georgia, decorated a new apartment, made it a third of the way through my Masters degree in Fibers/Textile Design, and lived apart from Drew for three months so that I could start school and he could continue working in New Orleans. (read more about grad school here)

Drew and I finished a 3+ year process of paying off all of our credit card, car, and student loan debt! (read more about our debt free journey here) We lived the majority of this year completely debt free for the first time in our married lives, even with paying for two apartments in separate cities and for my grad school tuition! We stretched our possessions to furnish two separate apartments, without buying much more than a Craigslist couch, trash cans, and a couple rugs. I also simplified my clothing into a capsule wardrobe and realized that I pretty much only wear black.

Many road trips happened between New Orleans and Savannah and I made the trip from Savannah to Jacksonville, Florida to pick up Drew from the airport many times. We made a few trips to Nashville and Southern Illinois to visit family. We also explored Tybee Island, Georgia and Hilton Head, South Carolina. I even evacuated Savannah from a hurricane — driving the 8 hours to Nashville by myself at night (with Violet). I also traveled to visit my sisters and aunt in Raleigh, Wilmington, and Kure Beach, North Carolina.

I worked my full-time job in graphic design for 8 months out of the year, made another quilt and another quilt top, did a 60-day daily practice of block printed patterns, starting painting with gouache, created a complete pattern collection with three colorways, did a lot of reading, writing, and research, re-branded my art portfolio website, and learned a lot about myself and my design style and where I want to go with my career.

I turned 25, celebrated 9 years together with Drew, lived completely alone in a new city by myself for the first time in my life, had to learn how to take care of a household alone, struggled with starting school again, missed my husband more than I can even put into words, appreciated him so much more, learned what it means to miss New Orleans, spent both major holidays away from family for the first time, and felt some of the deepest sadness and loneliness I’ve ever felt. For the first time in my life, I cared deeply about the US Presidential Election and was devastated by the results. In stepping so far outside my comfort zone this year, I’ve felt more emotions than I even knew were possible and I’ve also felt so much more alive.

I realized just how important getting ~10 hours of sleep every night is to my productivity and sanity. I ate healthier and drank green smoothies for breakfast almost every day. For the first time in over three years, I took time off not just for travel, but to rest. I spent the last month of this year back in New Orleans, clearing my head, re-evaluating my life and priorities, centering myself, and finding so much clarity. I realized the true importance of taking time to rest and recharge. I also realized how much better I design and operate when it comes from within myself and not to meet other people’s expectations. I also found so much more bliss in small, everyday moments — eating at my favorite restaurants, being back at SCAPC, and slow Saturday mornings with Vietnamese food at Singletons and a visit to a coffee shop with Drew.

2016 was a year of some of the highest highs and lowest lows for me. It was a year of growth in many ways, but growth in addition to being good, is also hard. I’m grateful for the ways that it pushed and strengthened me, glad I lived through it, but also glad to see it behind me. I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store, but I know that much of it will also be full of good/hard growth. Here’s to new adventures, discoveries, patterns, places, and opportunities ahead.

“There are stars you haven’t seen and loves you haven’t loved. There’s light you haven’t felt and sunrises yet to dawn. There are dreams you haven’t dreamt and days you haven’t lived and nights you won’t forget and flowers yet to grow and there is more to you that you have yet to know.” –Gaby Comprés

P.S. Past old year reflections and new year goals: Goals for 2016Reflections on 2015Reflections on 2014, Goals for 2015Reflections on 2013, Goals for 2014Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013, Happy 20122011 and 20 Before Twenty

I do an updated house tour here every two years (see: move-in, Nov 2012, Nov 2014), so seeing that it is 2016, it is time for an updated tour. It is a bittersweet one though, because after living in this apartment and making it our home for the last 5 years, I just moved to Savannah, Georgia for grad school, so this is the last house tour of our New Orleans apartment. We moved into this apartment on my 20th Birthday (May 2011) and I took these photos the day after my 25th birthday (May 2016). This 1000 sq. ft. apartment has been home and so much more than that. We moved in to this apartment as engaged college students. We planned our wedding here, spent our newlywed phase here, learned all about decorating and DIY here, graduated from college here, lived here when we both got our first real jobs, and have grown as people and as a couple so much in the time that we’ve been here. It is certainly a hard place to leave and a place we will think back on often, I’m sure, but there are great things happening and ahead as well.

I’m so happy with the changes and updates we’ve made to this home and how much I’ve discovered my style here over the last 5 years. There are still little things I would have liked to do in different rooms if we were staying even longer (get a neutral colored sofa (!!!), update to nicer rugs, replace ceiling light fixtures) and bigger things too if we owned the apartment (renovating the kitchen layout!). But I’m so happy to have had this cozy little safe place to call ours.

Foyer & Dining Room:

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The dining room (or foyer as we mostly call it, since when we first moved in we didn’t have a table in here) might just be my favorite room in the house. I love all the windows, especially those awesome arched ones, the church pew, the mid century modern console, the wall shelves — this whole room is probably the most representative of our “modern minimalist bohemian farmhouse” style.

Curtains are from Pottery Barn Teenplant/console table we built ourselves, wall shelving we installed ourselves, dining room table is from the Nashville flea market, rug and quatrefoil mirror are from Target, baskets on the console table shelves are from Target, dining chairs, milk glass bowl, old Reader’s Digest books, small white cabinet, mid-century modern buffet, and church pew are vintage/thrifted, black lamp was a vintage makeover, Self-Portrait woodcut is by me, paintings in the room are by me, framed engagement photos we took ourselves, the glass jar candles are from our wedding, gold plant pot is from Home Depot that I painted, crock planter is vintage from my dad, and all other plant pots are either from Lowe’s or TJ Maxx. Walls are painted Smoked Oyster by Valspar in a Satin finish.

Living room:

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The living room, on the other hand, is probably the only room I’m sad that I didn’t get to see my complete vision through on. I’ve hated (loathed) the color of these couches since pretty much the day we bought them and the next things on my house to-do list were to update the rug in here and get a new dark grey velvet sofa or sectional. See my living room design plan/inspiration board, here.

Couch and loveseat are from Compass Furniture in New Orleans, television/media cabinet is from Target, coffee table/bench base was bought from a little shop in the French Quarter and Drew and I made the tufted top, white coffee table tray is from West Elm, wood/metal side table was originally from Target that I made-over with a wood slice from the cake stand at our weddingwhite bookcase is from IKEA, stretched quilt painting is by me, gallery wall pieces: “I love you” print hand-lettered by me, my favorite vintage photo of my grandparents, one of my first surface pattern designs (!!!), a sketch from my watercolor sketchbook, an elephant print  that reminds me of my Mamaw (she collected little elephant figurines and that print reminds me of a shirt she used to wear), “Yours Sincerely,” painting I did a few years ago, my favorite picture of my sisters/nieces/nephew that I took when we were in Puerto Rico (with a stray cat), “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful” print from The Nester, a gold skeleton key that opened my childhood bedroom door (and was the official key for our secret club), a photo I took of my childhood front yard when I was home for my Papaw’s funeral, and my final drawing for the first art class I ever took at Tulane, curtains I made from white sheets, big turquoise velvet couch pillows are from World Market, teal and patterned pillows I made from World Market cloth napkins (these and these), gold and white pillows I made from West Elm cloth napkins, black pillows from H&M, buffalo check pillow from Etsy, light blue pedestal side table from Nadeau in New Orleans, wire basket (filled with yarn on bookshelf), wooden @ symbol, and inlaid box from TJ Maxx, floor lamp is from Lowe’s, silver table lamp is from Compass Furniture (scored it for $15 with a Living Social Deal!),  8×10 area rug from Lowe’s (scored it for $15!), glass candy dish, wooden ladder and quilts are vintage/thrifted, basket (with magazines in it behind the french doors) was a wedding gift, landscape painting on the bookshelf was a wedding gift (painted my Drew’s mom’s good friend and my 8th grade teacher!), globe was mine from when I was little bought for me by my Mamaw, the chalkboard message board was from our wedding (originally from here), beads are from New Orleans Mardi Gras parades, and the abstract paintings, ceramic artichoke. and throw quilt were made by me. Wall color is Asiago by Valspar in a satin finish.

Hallway:

This hallway, right off the side of the living room, runs all the way down the house. The kitchen is the first door on the right, office/studio is the second door and then at the end of the hallway is the laundry room. At the laundry room, the hallway turns to the right with the bathroom straight ahead and our bedroom to the left.

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We didn’t really do much to this space, and it is one of the spaces I had design ideas for that just never happened. I would have loved to install board and batten down this hallway and build in bookshelves up to the ceiling in that middle section. I also think it would have looked amazing with a large hanging pendant light. But this is a rental, and priorities. We did paint it the same color as the living room: Asiago by Valspar at Lowes. It had a gallery wall of art up at one point, but after painting the walls I didn’t put the frames back up and opted for the simplicity of this one painting.

Bookcases are from IKEA, little cabinet of drawers was thrifted on a vacation in Savannah, GA, fleur-de-lis coat hook was a gift, painting is by Adam Hall, and the rug is from Urban Outfitters.

Kitchen:

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Obviously it would have been crazy to do because this is a rental, but I really wanted to do a mini-kitchen renovation in here. I hate that the space could be used much more smartly! If we owned the house (or were going to live here longer and I could talk the landlord into doing/letting us do), I wanted to extend the cabinets along the window wall (where the cream colored cabinet is), moving the sink underneath the window closest to the pantry, and adding a backsplash, replacing the countertops, and re-painting the cabinets. If we were really going all out, I’d take down the upper cabinets (and rip out the soffit) and put a long, floating open shelf or two along that wall.

Kitchen rug is by Dash and Albert, black and white patterned hand towels from H&M, green utensil holder is a plant pot from Hobby Lobby, gold tray and wooden cheese board were Christmas gifts from my sister, ceramic apple and stool are from TJ Maxx, artwork above kitchen sink is a photo I took of the creek in my childhood backyard (more on that here), stitchery art is by me, most of the ceramic mugs and bowls I made, the floral measuring cup is Molly Hatch from Anthropologie, cookbook holder was a wedding gift from Target, cream colored wooden cabinet is from Nadeau in New Orleans, tall wooden cabinet is vintage/thrifted. Walls are painted Smoked Oyster by Valspar at Lowes.

Office & Studio:

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I love my studio! I love the depth of the chalkboard wall and the double desk has been such a useful DIY and has evolved over the years we’ve lived here. It started as a desk for Drew and I to share, but he didn’t use his side very much so I eventually took it over and made one side my sewing station and the other my computer/design station. The rest of the room is a little busy, but I have so many different things I use this room for! Sewing, painting, sketching, design! The extra table is in here to use as a cutting table when cutting out fabric for my quilts. The small table I sit on the floor and use when I’m watercoloring or India ink sketching for patterns or doing calligraphy. I sit on the pillows and paint when I have a larger painting on my easel or stretched out across the floor. There are often art/crafting/sewing/DIY projects spread out all across the floor in here!

My desk chair is from Pottery Barn Teen, Drew’s wooden desk chair, easel, big ornate gold frame, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame, small brass pineapple, and brass plant pot are vintage/thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, small wooden table was thrifted years ago (it used to live in my childhood bedroom), shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shopgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, abstract paintings are by me, floral print is by Anna Maria Horner, tall painting on the sewing side of my desk was bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen (the mom of one of my co-workers!), “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful” print from The Nester, a taped up print-out of one of my first repeatable patterns, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, and silver desk lamp and cutting table (my old desk) are from IKEA. Read more about my art studio inspiration wall, here. Read about how we built our desk (an IKEA hack), here). Walls are painted Grey Ghost (Olympic from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. Chalkboard wall is painted with black chalkboard paint (also Valspar from Lowe’s).

Laundry Room:

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This room is tight and stuffed, but I’m so happy to have this space!

The curtains used to hang in my freshman college dorm room (from Wal-Mart), the laundry basket is from TJ Maxx, the ironing board and cover are from Target, ladder from Lowe’s, my dad bought the washer and dryer for me (they were from a friend from our hometown that used to live in New Orleans –she was moving from New Orleans and didn’t need to take them with her), the deep freezer is from Lowe’s, the rug and the wire baskets on the shelves are from TJ Maxx, wall shelving Drew and I bought from Lowe’s, standing shelving unit is the MULIG from IKEA.

Bathroom:

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Rug from World Market, hand towel from TJ Maxx, abstract painting by me, old books are thrifted, candles from our wedding, frames from Michael’s and spray painted gold, striped Turkish towels from Loomed NOLA, shower curtain made by me from a sheet, houses plant pot is vintage, and hanging plant pot is from H&M and macrame holder is from Etsy. Ceiling is painted Mint Whisper by Valspar at Lowe’s. 

Small hallway right outside the bathroom is painted Semi-Sweet by Valspar in a satin finish and top art is thrifted, bottom is by me.

Bedroom:

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Our bedroom is the room in this house that took the longest to come together. But finally we ended up with a room that feels like us. I love the black, white, and gold and all the subtle patterns! That black and gold geometric accent wall is such a showstopper and was actually really easy and simple to do! More on this room, here.

Headboard wall is painted Semi-Sweet (by Valspar at Lowes) and geometric pattern was hand painted with a gold Sharpie paint pen. The rest of the walls in here are painted Grey Ghost (by Olympic at Lowes). Bedding is a mixture of Target, HomeGoods, and West Elm’s Jacquard Leaf Duvet Cover and Shams. The “I Love You” pillow I made out of fabric I ordered in a design of mine (that’s my handwriting!). Headboard we made from an old door (see here and here), cream curtains from the pergola at our wedding (originally from Target) and white ones are from IKEA, rug and black pharmacy-style floor lamp from Target, dresser was Drew’s childhood dresser that we refinished, gold pharmacy lamps are from HomeGoods, gold I LOVE YOU banner is from Target, floral painting is by Lulie Wallace, girl with flowers print is by Raven Roxanne, geometric canister is from Hobby Lobby, ceramic dishes were made by my ceramics teacher in college – Sarah House, pink chair is from World Market, geometric pillow is from H&M, jewelry stand, white elephant, and black and white inlaid box were all Christmas gifts from my sister, shelving is the IKEA Expedit, copper twinkle lights are from Amazon, nightstands are vintage, art above Drew’s nightstand is by Emily McDowell, art above mine is a handwritten note from Drew. 🙂

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So happy to have called this sweet place home for the last five+ years!

I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to say and write and blog about, but just haven’t had the time to sit down and get my thoughts out about it all. This summer has been a crazy whirlwind and it has a lot to do with a big announcement (that you might have already seen on my Instagram a couple months ago):

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This fall (or in less than a month now), I’ll be moving to Savannah, Georgia to attend graduate school at the Savannah College of Art & Design in their Fibers department. (!!!)

Attending SCAD has been a dream of mine for a long time and it seems I’ve been on quite the adventure to get there. I first toured SCAD (the Atlanta campus) my junior year of high school and completely fell in love with it. I didn’t end up going there for undergrad because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study and I got a scholarship to Tulane. It wasn’t until I had moved to New Orleans and was part of the way into my study at Tulane that I realized I wanted to study graphic/pattern/textile design. I was frustrated that Tulane didn’t have a program for that and for a while I looked into transferring to SCAD or RISD, but I had already started a life in New Orleans and had an amazing scholarship to Tulane. I kept telling myself to just make it through and one day I could go to graduate school at SCAD to study design.

My senior year at Tulane, Drew and I took a weekend trip to Savannah to tour the Savannah SCAD campus and see the Fibers building and get a better idea of what I could study there and what I needed to do to make that happen. I left disappointed, because although I loved SCAD, the information I was given was a little disheartening. Because my undergrad degree was in English and Studio Art (Painting concentration), I was told I would have difficulties having the background info I needed to pursue a graduate degree in fibers/textile design. I was so overwhelmed at that time in my life (I had just gotten married, was having a really tough senior year of college, was crippled with the debt we already owed on Drew’s school, and had unresolved health issues – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) that I just gave up on my SCAD dream. I was convinced I’d never have the money to go or the ability to get into the program without an undergrad degree in textiles.

I graduated from Tulane and started working in graphic design and enjoyed that just fine for a while, but I kept being pulled into the world of pattern and textile design. I was so inspired by what my favorite designers were doing and I wanted to have more creative freedom in my career (I love graphic design but also find it very artistically limiting). I was really inspired by Bonnie Christine (one of my favorite textile designers for quilting cottons who has an undergrad degree in business and taught herself Adobe Illustrator and surface pattern design via online tutorials and now is a very successful fabric designer). I followed along with Bonnie’s journey and was inspired to learn as much as I could on my own. I didn’t need grad school, I’d just teach myself! I had already worked in graphic design for several years at that point, so I knew Photoshop and InDesign well and the very basics of Illustrator. So I started taking online surface pattern design courses, attended Quilt Market, did a textile design workshop in NYC with Anna Maria Horner and Heather Rossmet all the designers of Cotton & Steel at another workshop and learned to quilt. I got to the point in my journey that I knew the basics and what I needed to do to move forward, but working full time I didn’t have the extra time to work on developing my signature style and to create the pattern portfolio I wanted to.

Last fall, as we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel of our debt pay-off plan approaching, Drew and I started to seriously talk about what was next for our lives. Over the past few years, I had always imagined that after paying off our debt, I’d finally be free to switch jobs, buy a house, and have kids. I wanted to work in textile design, but it was taking such a long time to get there with only being able to put in such a small amount of time towards that dream in the evenings and weekends. And after working a full-time job all day, I wasn’t always excited to get home and spend more time in front of a computer screen designing patterns. I did actually try to apply to some dream jobs with the small portfolio of work that I had created so far and was sad but not surprised when I never heard anything back. I started thinking two things: 1. that I didn’t want to have kids until I at least had my foot further in the door of the textile design world and 2. that if I was actually going to make it happen, I needed to quit my full-time job and focus fully on creating patterns and building a portfolio of work. This was when the idea of grad school came back into my life once again. Once we were debt free and didn’t have to rely as much on my income, I wanted to pour myself into making my dreams happen, but I was worried about doing that on my own. I was worried I wouldn’t be disciplined enough to make progress fast enough, about my mental health sitting at home alone all day making patterns, and I started to realize that making it into the textile world wasn’t only a beautiful portfolio, but it relied a lot on connections and although I had done a great job in the past year of making connections in the world of quilting cottons, I really needed the connections that SCAD could give me to appeal to my dream employers. I started to feel that to move my career forward, grad school seemed like the right option for me. (A special thanks to Kelsey from Pinegate Road for sharing her own SCAD story with me!)

So long story short, I started the application process to SCAD last fall. I told myself not to overthink it, to just apply and see what happened. If it didn’t work out this time, then it wasn’t meant to be. I submitted my initial application in November, reached out to a couple of my Tulane professors for recommendations and had my transcripts sent over in December, spent the entire month of January designing my fibers-specific portfolio and writing the written parts of the application, and submitted everything on February 1. I was told it typically only takes a couple weeks to hear back about their decision and at the same time I would be notified if I was awarded any academic or portfolio related scholarships. February and March were a weird flux period in which I had no idea which direction my life was about to go. It took almost two months before they got back to me, right before we left to go to Europe in April. It was worth the wait though (and all the effort I’d put into learning design on my own!), not only was I accepted as a graduate student in their Fibers department, but I was awarded one of the highest amounts of academic/portfolio based scholarships that they offer! (enough to cover about 30% of my tuition cost).

So eight years after first touring SCAD for undergrad and four years after touring it again for grad school, it is finally happening! It has been a long time coming, but I’m so happy with the way things have worked out. For me personally, the timing is really great. Looking back, I’m so grateful for the way our lives have been shaped by being in New Orleans and I think Tulane was exactly where I was supposed to be for undergrad, as frustrating and difficult as that time was. I think I needed the the last three years out of school to get over that stressful experience and look forward to being back in school again. I also think it is so essential how much I’ve evolved as an artist and designer in the last few years that I’m really excited to do grad school at SCAD now that I have a better idea of where I want it to take me and what I want to make of it. I’m so ready for a new adventure and I’m so glad I’m jumping in and doing this now, because I feel like if I waited any longer, Drew and I would be into the buy a house/start a family part of our lives, and it would be so much harder to make this work.

Speaking of Drew, even though I said the timing for me was really great, the timing for him to pick up and move somewhere else is not so great. He got a promotion at work the week before I found out I got accepted to SCAD. He is now the Director of Information Technology at all four ISL campuses, something he has worked hard for several years for. I’m so proud of him and the work that he does. He really loves his job and where he works and wants to have more time to be the IT Director before moving on. So things will be a little crazy for us for the next year or so! Drew will be staying in New Orleans a bit longer for work while I move to Savannah to start my program. Not ideal, but I think that we will be able to make it work just fine. It gives me the opportunity to really pour myself into my work and make the most of my time at SCAD and gives him the ability to work in a job he loves with a title he’s worked hard for. After being together for almost ten years, we rely a lot on each other and I think it will even be good for us to spend some time being a little more independent and appreciative of the time we have together and the things we do for each other. And with SCAD being on the quarter system with big breaks between quarters and Drew working in a school with a lot of breaks, we’ll still be seeing a lot of each other.

And since I know some of you may be thinking, “Grad school? But you just paid off your debt! Are you going into more debt!?” The answer to that is that no, we don’t plan to. We’ve continued to live on a minimal budget, and without any debt (no credit card, car, or student loan payments), we’ve been able to save up a pretty good amount of money pretty quickly with us both working (all the money we would have put towards our debt pay off has been going into savings for my tuition). The scholarship that I got from SCAD also helps a lot, as does the raise that came with Drew’s promotion. Our plan is to be able to pay for my school as I go. It is a little tricky with us now paying for housing in two separate cities, but we are making it work (and will be eating a lot of rice and beans yet again for the next while). We may have no money to spend on anything else, but we are chasing our dreams!

We’ve already paid the tuition for my first quarter, I have less than two weeks left at work, just three weeks left of living in New Orleans before I move to Savannah, and just a month before school starts. Things are getting very crazy, but also very exciting around here!

More to come of my adventures at SCAD!

Roasted cauliflower is my latest vegetable obsession. I can’t get enough of it roasted with herbs, onions, and garlic. So delicious! I love that it is healthy, but also hearty. It is substantial enough to almost be a meal by itself!
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Roasted Cauliflower with Onions and Garlic
adapted from this recipe, makes 3-4 servings as a side dish

Ingredients:
-1 head cauliflower
-1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
-1-2 tsp thyme or Italian seasoning (I just throw in a little of both)
-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-fresh Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and remove leaves from cauliflower. Place cauliflower head on a cutting board and slice top-down into 1/3 inch slices. Break up cauliflower slices into florets and place into large bowl.
3. Add sliced onions, whole garlic cloves, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper to bowl with cauliflower. Mix well.
4. Spread cauliflower mixture into a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
5. Roast in 425 degree oven, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned at the edges, or about 30 minutes.
6. If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Enjoy!

Recently, I’ve been trying to eat more Paleo (basically eat more veggies and less carbs). That wasn’t difficult to incorporate into my lunch and dinner plans, but breakfast really stumped me. My usual breakfast was cereal (usually Honey Nut Cheerios) with almond milk or oatmeal. Both are a very carb/sugar rich way to start my day that I wasn’t super happy with. My diet is further limited that I can’t eat wheat, eggs, or much dairy (I’m gluten-intolerant and eggs and dairy also agitate my digestive system). I tried a few other Paleo breakfasts – including a potato/sweet potato/onion/bacon hash and pumpkin/banana pancakes. Both were great, but time consuming to make — so not sustainable for regular workday breakfasts.

At the perfect timing for my life, one of the blogs I read posted about incorporating green smoothies into her diet. I’d obviously heard of green smoothies before, but I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before to try them for my breakfasts. My sister Kelsey makes a similar smoothie for her breakfast occasionally. But it started the wheels in motion and I’ve been green smoothie-ing for breakfast for a couple weeks now and LOVING it!

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Part of the reason I hadn’t tried this sooner is that we didn’t have a blender (Drew broke ours trying to blend a spoon in it while making daiquiris for a party he threw a few years ago when I was out of town, lol!). I tried to blend my first smoothie in our food processor and that turned out terribly! I did a little research on small blenders perfect for smoothies and narrowed it down to these two: NutriBullet ($79.99) & Bella Rocket Blender ($24.99). The NutriBullet is a little more expensive and probably better for the long run, but since I wasn’t even sure I was going to like smoothies, I went with the cheaper, but still well-reviewed Bella Rocket Blender. So far, I’m perfectly happy with my choice! At just under $25, it has been working great (and I’ve been using it daily for the last few weeks). It is super easy to clean, comes with multiple cups, and even includes an extra grinding blade for grinding small seeds and such. I like that it is small enough to leave out for daily use and the design is simple and looks nice.

P.S. Feel free to use your regular blender if you have one! No need to buy a specific smoothie blender for this! I will say though, that the super easy to clean design of this is what has made me actually stick to it. If I had to take a blender apart every day to clean it, I wouldn’t do it (Drew washes the dishes in this house!).

There are a million ways that you can make green smoothies, but this is the recipe that I’ve found perfect for my daily use:

Banana Spinach Green Smoothie
makes one 16 oz smoothie

Ingredients: (feel free to modify as you wish!)
-1 1/4 cup fresh spinach
-1 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk
-1 tsp honey
-2 tsp ground flax, chia, and hemp seeds
-1 Tbsp almond butter
-1/2 banana, frozen into small chunks
-2 strawberries

Other ingredient ideas:
-raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, pear, apples (fresh or frozen)
-coconut milk
-nuts or other nut butters
-cinnamon
-dates
-avocado
-vanilla
-cocoa powder
-oats
-coconut

Directions:
1. Place spinach, cashew/almond milk, honey, almond butter, and seeds (I usually pre-grind mine) into blender cup and blend until well blended. (I’ve read that mixing the spinach and liquid together first before adding other fruits helps to get a smoother blend and avoid small bits of spinach in your smoothie).
2. Add banana and other fruit or mix-ins as desired. Blend until well blended.
3. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:
258 Calories, 30g Carbs, 8g Protein, 13g Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 190mg Sodium, 288mg Potassium, 5g Fiber, 11g Sugar

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I honestly can’t believe what a difference this has made so far in my routine. It is still quick and easy to make and drink (the small smoothie blender makes it so quick and easy!). It doesn’t take any longer than making and eating a bowl of cereal! But I feel SO MUCH BETTER! I’ve noticed that I have so much more energy lately and this is just such a refreshing way to start my day. I like feeling like I’m being better and healthier to my body. I’ve even started to crave and look forward to my morning smoothie — so much so that I’ve even had another for an afternoon snack some days! I’ve been drinking a bag of spinach a week!