rebrand 02: ah-ha moments

04.16.2015

observant nomad | redesign thoughts 01

 

I’m going to be honest.

When I started blogging 3 years ago I didn’t go into it expecting to gain a single follower. Let alone attract the eyes of small business owners who wanted to work with me. In the beginning all I was concerned with was how I could use the blog a creative outlet for myself. I tried to blog as often as I could. Using each and every post as an excuse to experiment with my personal style.

Working for agencies has it’s pros and cons. One of the cons being that I’m not always able to truly express my personal taste, and often have to stick to hard-set rules of already established branding. I look back on old work and laugh a bit. I had no direction for myself and explored so many different looks. Naturally when I first started, my aesthetic was undefined, insecure, and unpredictable. But I had to go through that to even understand what I wanted my work to become.

Transforming my look into what it is now, something refined, polished, and clear wasn’t easy. It took time, hard work, and consistent self-awareness. Throughout my evolution I’ve actively worked to align myself to the style I have now. And I’m so proud of how far I’ve come as a designer. Over these last few years my style has successfully helped make my clients’ goals come true.

But that’s the irony about a designer’s style. It evolves.

Over time the experiences of our life slowly shape our outlook, and naturally it alters our artistic vision. I’m a couple months into the rebranding of Observant Nomad and I am feeling this sentiment throughout every part of me.

As I’ve begun to delve deep into the purpose of my blog (and part-business) and I’ve realized that my own taste has shifted. Don’t get me wrong, I will always have a natural affinity for minimalism. It’s a part of who I am as a person. It drives me in so many ways. I’m continuously striving for less clutter, more purpose, and always refining the absolute needs in my life.

But there’s a whole other side to my taste that might go unnoticed because it’s never been consciously expressed in my work. It’s the side of me that lives adventurously… you know, the Nomad part? The side of me that left her ‘safe’ life behind to travel the globe. The loud, confident, straight forward, and passionate voice I often am in real life.

Like the principals of minimalism, I’ve been exploring what this new viewpoint looks like for my brand.

Living passionately and fully, isn’t the absence of color, it’s full of it. The world is saturated in gorgeous natural palettes of soft blues, deep greens, subtle tans and more. The most beautiful places I’ve ever been too aren’t perfectly aligned or polished. They can be found in the crackling stone of a colosseum or in the wild and overgrown depths of a rainforest. The world isn’t perfect, and that’s what inspires me.

Maybe this isn’t new to you. Maybe this is something you’ve been able to subconsciously gleam. And to be fair, I think it’s something I always knew. I just had no idea how to express it into my brand. But right now, I’m having a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment. It’s the first time I’ve been able to consciously articulate to myself what I want my style, self, and blog to visually express. It’s absolutely freeing.

Some of the images above are the latest in what has been aligning to my newest vision. A vision where my taste for minimalism meets a more imperfect and richer crossroads of my world viewpoint. I’m beyond ecstatic to have hit this break through. For the first time, in maybe forever, I have discovered a vision that feels unique and different from the rest. It feels 100% like me and I can’t wait to share more as I explore how this comes to life.

If you missed my post about starting to rebrand myself, here’s rebrand 01: rebranding and next steps.

 

leadville, co

04.13.2015

leadville, co / observant nomad

I hope you had a wonderful weekend no matter where you were. Contrary to this post title, we actually spent this weekend in town enjoying the weather and family which was great. However just a couple weekends ago, Rus and I made the short trip up to Leadville, CO to spend the weekend with his family.

They have a small home up there that they spend most weekends in the summer enjoying as well as a few in the winter, so we always have a free place to stay which is an extra bonus. We rolled up on a Friday morning and enjoyed a long weekend of mid 50’s sunny weather. When we got into town we headed straight over Tennessee Pass Cafe for some lunch and brews to set our mini-vacation off right.

leadville, co / observant nomad

leadville, co / observant nomad

I love Tennessee Pass Cafe because it has a ton of fresh vegetarian options as well as some classic comfort foods like burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches. We enjoyed our long lunch in the warm sunlight of the window watching as people walked and biked past along. Following lunch we decided to slowly mosey our way down the main street to Doc’s for some libations and large Jenga on the patio.

That first night we decided to call it early and stay in to watch some standup specials on Netflix. Leadville doesn’t have a ton of local haunts to hang out in at night which can be both a pro and a con. We found that most locals make the 30-40min trip to Breckenridge if they really want to go out.

Starting early the next day, Rus and his mom spent the morning on Ski Cooper ridge for some late season skiing. While they were out, Rus’s stepdad and I decided to take their two malamutes out into the gorgeous hiking areas right behind Leadville, CO.

leadville, co / observant nomad

leadville, co / observant nomad

Taking the dogs out was a great excuse to enjoy the gorgeous weather and tour some local old mining settlements. Leadville has a fascinating history, full of wild west characters, mining, striking it rich, and historical celebrities. Much like a episode of Deadwood. There are plenty of coffee table books and local museums that showcase the compelling black and white images and history of the old mining camps.

read more

 

modern country kitchen

04.06.2015

/ modern country kitchen / observant nomad

So big news guys — my man and I are taking the plunge and moving in together! We’ve been dating for a while and doing the whole commuting back and forth thing, which has slowly transformed to basically living together in my 500 sq ft apartment. Talk about cramped! So we decided let’s just do this for real and get a bigger place together. I’m really excited to start building a place we call ‘home’ together.

With that said though, searching for a new rental is the absolute pits right now. So while we endure the at-times-disheartening process, I’m keeping my spirits high by daydreaming about all of the new decorating opportunities. Last night I stumbled on Dot&Bo which had me going ga-ga over all their gorgeous goods. I think I went a little crazy bookmarking all the decor and art I wanted.

But on that note, I’m actually really puzzled about how to make our vastly different styles cohesively come together. But I am looking forward to taking on the challenge and create a style and mood that pleases the both of us. We will be building a pinterest board with inspiration to make it easier to visualize how we can combine our styles, but if you have any other tips, let me know!

| 01 | Antiqued Gold Sunburst Wall Mirror | 02 | Bistro Arm Chair In White – Set Of 2 | 03 | Mudhut™ Beaded Flatwoven Stripe Area Rug | 04 | Organic Cotton Towels in Navy and White | 05 | 2-Pc. Antique Copper Fruta Bowls | 06 | Minimal Wood Wall Hooks

 

new orleans city guide

04.02.2015

new orleans city guide / observant nomad

If you missed it, I went on a trip to New Orleans a few weeks ago (part one and part two) where I ate entirely way too much and rolled myself into some bars for plenty of music and dancing. All in all I had a great trip and got to spend some much needed one on one time with my main man. So I thought I’d put together a little city guide in case you ever want to check it out sometime.

Where to Stay

When you’re heading to New Orleans there are plenty of different neighborhoods worth staying in. Most people stay near or inside the French Quarter when visiting, which I say is a good idea for your first time. Especially if you don’t want to rent a car.

But just know, the French Quarter is a a little pricier area to stay in. But if money isn’t a huge concern, check out the Hotel MonteleoneHotel Mazarin or the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. These places are all near, or in The Quarter, and have the charming European architecture you’re looking for.

However if it’s your second time through, or you just want to avoid the people around Bourbon St, check out some Airbnbs in the Marigny area. Maybe stay in a gorgeous place like this? We ended up staying a little too close to Frenchmen St — which I try to avoid. It’s the local hot spot and can be noisy throughout most nights. However do make sure to visit this strip of bars and music clubs during your stay!

new orleans city guide / observant nomad

Getting Around

Getting around the greater area of New Orleans is best done by car. If you’re staying in town for more than a few days, I’d say rent a car. Especially if you want to get outside the city and see some local wildlife or the old southern estates.

If you’re planning on staying in town and want to stick around the Quarter you should be fine walking everywhere or grabbing a cab to somewhere in particular. We ended up using local cabs since there were plenty to flag down. You can download the Curb app before you go to make getting a cab easier.

We stayed right outside the Quarter so we just walked everywhere or took a cab to cut across town to the Garden District. If you’re interested though, there are some wonderful old streetcars that trek through the Quarter, into the Marigny, as well as all the way up into the Garden District. That’s where you can peek at some gorgeous houses and old graveyards.

new orleans city guide / observant nomad

What to Do

Jazz | One of the best reasons to visit New Orleans (besides the food) is the live entertainment and jazz music. You can’t throw a stone in New Orleans without hitting a live band. So you really can’t go wrong with any particular place, but my favorite spots for live music are all on Frenchmen St. My favorite? The Blue Nile. Try to hit up a club on Thursday night since that’s when more traditional jazz ensembles are playing without the cover.

Shopping | I love to shop in New Orleans. There are plenty of cool local art galleries along Royal St. And Decatur St has all the fun touristy shops where you can stock up on Cafe Du Monde coffee and buy a silly magnet for a friend. But along the way I’ve discovered some local boutiques worth visiting too. Here are my favorite shopping spots when I hit up New Orleans:

Southern Candy MakersBoutique Du Vampyre | Hové Parfumeur
MaskaradeMilk StudioLoomed Nola | Faulkner House Books | Greg’s Antiques

Explore | Don’t miss out taking a tour of the French Quarter while you’re there. You can sign up for a carriage ride on the south side of Jackson Square, and they’ll give you a small history lesson during the tour. Or if spooky is your thing there are several ghost + haunted tours of New Orleans you can check out too. When all else fails, simply get lost! the French Quarter is a very contained area of the city and you won’t have a hard time finding a fun place to check out.

We did take a small day trip over into the Garden District where we downloaded a self-guided walking tour of the major mansions and their history. It was very interesting to learn about the architecture and heritage around each estate. I highly suggest going early in the morning. When you’re done hop on over to Sucré on Magazine Street for some gelato, or post up on a patio to enjoy some drinks until the sun sets.

new orleans city guide / observant nomad

Let’s Eat

Morning | Let’s get to the good stuff, cause that’s why you’re reading this anyways, right? Well to start your day off you need to have a big tasty breakfast. It’s only best either because you’re preparing for a day of sipping cocktails or are recuperating from the day before.

For breakfast I can’t recommend Cafe Amelie enough. The food is absolute perfection in your mouth, and I was dying over the shrimp + grits there. If you’re in the Marginy area make sure to stop by New Orleans Cake Café & Bakery for anyone of their delicious homemade savory dishes. And don’t forget to top it off with one of their freshly baked sweet pastries. If you’re in the Garden District try out Surrey’s Juice Bar & Cafe. They kill it at french toast and obviously the freshly squeezed juices.

No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop at the Cafe Du Monde for some beignets and a cup of chicory coffee. If you end up going in the summer, don’t fret, they have frozen options too. Just try to get there pretty early (or late at night) or you’ll end up waiting in the to-go line for a while. You can always go to the front and take a look around to see if there’s any open (seat yourself) tables too.

Noon | If somehow you wake up too late for brunch, there are plenty of sandwiches or po’ boys to snack on during the day. I had to take Rus to the classic Central Grocery Company for their world famous muffaletta sandwich. Forewarning, there is only one item on the menu, no exceptions. And we ordered a half-order to split between the both of us. The bread is absolutely divine. Each muffaletta is a well balanced sandwich of nutty bread, oily italian meats, and tangy sweet pepper relish.

Or, if you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for but want something upscale done right, it can’t hurt to try Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. An old timey looking blue building adjacent to the walking tour of the local mansions, makes for a nice start or break in the day. Doesn’t hurt that they sell 25 cent martinis at lunch either.

Maybe you just want something traditional to New Orleans or at least something of the seafood variety. We visited Acme Oyster House and at first I was wary of the obviously touristy destination — but let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious. We had chargrilled oysters (which changed my mind about oysters) as well as the crawfish and shrimp po’ boys. The wait wasn’t long at all, so don’t let the line scare you. Totally worth a visit.

Night | Now that your day is wrapping up, make sure to fill up before you head back out in the nightlife of New Orleans. I’d recommend Peche Seafood Grill or Cochon for some delicious meals that are a modern take on traditional cuisine. GW Fins is also a solid option for fancy seafood. If you’re looking for a quick yet filling late night snack, make sure to check out Dat Dog right on Frenchmen St. Over-the-top hot dogs done right.

If you are more interested in finding a bar to hole up in, check out some of my favorites. The Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone is a unique place worth visiting just to see the carousel alone. Try to go during peak eating times to avoid the masses and score a spot at the slowly rotating carousel bar top. If you can’t, wander past the bar into the lounge and cozy up with some friends. The Napoleon House is also one of my down-to-earth favorites. It’s an old European style hideaway bar, full of white jacket waiters who deliver proper Sazeracs. It’ll make you feel like you’re in a Hemingway novel.

Well, I hope you find something worthwhile to check out in New Orleans. It’s such a colorful and unique place that I love to visit again and again.

 

Into the Weekend

03.20.2015

observant nomad | into the weekend

image via rosie and celeste

Whew what a week! I’ve been working on some really exciting projects these last couple weeks and I can’t wait to share more of it as it comes. But now that the work week is winding down I’m looking forward to getting outside this weekend and enjoying some warmer weather. I’m also planning on testing out and shooting my first exotic ingredient post. Until then, here are some articles I found interesting or awesome this week.

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+ I was nodding the entire time reading this piece by Sian Richardson on her top 5 branding tips for new business owners.

+ Feeling a bit undirected and inspirationally dried up? Let’s just say, here’s your sign.

+ Sometimes you just need to throw everything out and do what’s good for your soul. Talk about taking a big risk.

+ From the industry shakers at IDEO, now you can take the same classes online at IDEO U.

+ Talk about some fun packaging design. Bold, cute, yet simple.

+ My new favorite tool when choosing typefaces.

+ Have you been following Shauna’s new feature, Branded? It become one of my favorites that I look forward to.