when working for free makes cents


observant nomad | when working for free makes cents

As an experienced professional, you might hesitate to give away your valuable time and work, since you know that can lead to a slippery slope. The most common reason people give free (or almost free) work is when they’re first starting out. But I’ve been in the industry for a little while now, and I’m fortunate enough to have moved beyond those days. At this point, there are only three times I feel comfortable gifting clients with free work.

1) When a close friend or family member needs something, and it makes me feel good to help them out. 2) When I know it is a small ask, and will nurture a larger or long-term relationship with a client. 3) When I know the work will mend a relationship with a current client… especially if things have fallen apart on a recent project.

Now I don’t mean I royally screw up (that has yet to happen and I hope never will), instead it’s when outside factors cause huge headaches. You might already be familiar with the less-than-glamorous situation when things take a turn for the worse. A challenging project falls apart right at the end, or you tried something new that didn’t 100% pan out. It doesn’t matter but the fact remains that we’re all people, and people sometimes make mistakes. What determines your professional character is how you bounce back from them.

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exotic ingredients


observant nomad | exotic ingredients

Do you know what I spend a lot of time, maybe more than I’d like to admit, thinking about? Food. Things like, what crazy half-day long recipe am I going to make on Saturday. Or the latest hip little restaurant that I absolutely must check out, and what dish do I have to get there. I’m such a sucker for great food, I’m the shopper willing to splurge the extra cash on some velvety Kerrygold butter when needed.

In college, my roommates and I had food programs playing 24/7. Perpetual Bobby Flay, Alton Brown and Barefoot Contessa teaching me the history of chocolate, or how to properly season your pasta, and even the particular science behind poaching eggs. I love poached eggs. I soaked it all up. But I didn’t really delve deep into cooking until about 7 years ago, when I became vegetarian.

At the time I still lived at home and no one else in my family even knew where to start with my new-found lifestyle. So it was up to me to pull out some cookbooks and put what I had learned to the test. I started cooking all the time. Both for myself and for my loved ones. Vegetarian cooking became a creative outlet where I adapted recipes to my restrictions. But it also was a way to extend the olive branch and introduce people to new and exotic dishes. I bonded with fellow veggies over the dislikes of frozen soy-burger patties and the endless search for an elusive yet perfect eggplant parmesan.

observant nomad | exotic ingredients

Fast forward to 2015, and my diet has become much more complex yet flexible. Day-to-day I remain mostly vegetarian. My grocery list hasn’t changed too much, the only difference being that from time to time, fresh sustainable seafood makes it into my basket too. And ok, I sneak some hot wings once in a while. But these days, it’s a list of personal rules I feel most happy eating within.

With my passion for cooking, it’s surprising I haven’t shared it anywhere on this blog. But, if you follow me on instagram you might have noticed the occasional dish pop up, from coconut curry mussels to fig + almond butter french toast. So it might not come as a surprise to you that I’ve decided to start posting it here on the blog too.

There are many ways to try new foods, and sometimes it’s all about simply adding a single strange or unique item to your basket. With a little bit of research and bravery you can often transform these scary things into a favorite dish. So with that in mind, I thought I’d do the same thing here. I’m calling it Exotic Ingredients.

Each month I’ll choose a new and (more or less) exotic ingredient to cook with. I’ll show you a single delicious recipe that compliments it, and might even surprise you. They’ll mostly be vegetarian, sometimes not. And I’ll show you some additional ideas on how to use it in everyday cooking as well. First up? Chipotle Pepper Paste. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks to see what deliciousness appears.


still moments


observant nomad | inspiration in still moments

I was thirsting for some fuel to kick start my day today. So I put together a little inspiration of some recent visuals that were calling to me. I noticed that they all had something in common… capturing a single still moment. The feeling of a warm ray of sunlight hitting your face. The pause right before you sip the bubbly thick foam from the top of a perfect cappuccino. Or the few fleeting seconds before the sunset finally hits the horizon.

Hopefully it will encourage you to stop and enjoy a still moment within your day.

blue lagoon / sunlight / swirl / sunset / cappucino


ever ours


observant nomad | ever ours branding + website

Eek – there’s been some radio silence here lately, and all I can say is that it’s not because I’ve stopped working on this space, but rather I’ve been spending a lot of time in deep thought behind the scenes.Which has led to making some shifts in the background, instead of at the front of it (which I can’t wait to share more of).

But I’m back on the blogging train this week and to kick it off again, here’s some new and pretty work I helped complete a few months ago under Breanna Rose‘s design studio, Rowan Made.

Even though we finished up this project several months ago, I’m finally getting around to sharing the final work with you. If you recall way back, we posted the initial moodboard on Bre’s blog. It was a lovely encapsulating visual of romance, femininity, and delicate wild beauty. All the things we wanted to articulate through the Ever Ours design.

observant nomad | ever ours branding + website

the original moodboard

The first round of logos was a step in the right direction, and really show you how a brand can evolve and refine itself through a well-guided revision process. It was great working with Bre, she gave me insight to the brand, and an outsiders perspective on the work. All of which helped push the design to the next level and create something truly timeless and unique to Ever Ours.

 observant nomad | ever ours branding + website

After branding we immediately started on creating Megan a custom website to compliment her branding. We’re excited to say it has launched, and looks exactly the way we envisioned it. Go ahead, take a look at the finished website.




into the weekend


observant nomad | into the weekend

original image: death to stock photo

As this week winds down, I’m starting to look ahead at a special Valentine dinner date I have planned with my guy. We’re not the typical romantic type (heck, we don’t even know when our anniversary is) but we do value making each other feel special and carving out time every week where we can re-connect.

Usually we tend to avoid eating out for major holidays since it’s over-priced and feels super contrived for us. We’d both rather spend some hours in the kitchen, together, whipping up some delicious treats. This year I’m planning a little surf + turf meal followed of course by a decadently chocolate desert. Mmmm, chocolate…

In the meantime here’s what I’ve stumbled upon this week that made me smile, scratch my head, or feel inspired:


+ I found a new (to me) awesome FREE stock photo resource. I stumbled on Unsplash one day through a google search and love checking back in every now and then. Great stuff.

+ Feck Perfuction. Right now, this resonates pretty deeply with  where I’m at in my creative philosophy. For a long time I’ve been one of those perfection-seeking-creatives, which actually killed my creativity instead of inspiring it. Not anymore, it’s all about throwing bowlines to the wind and exploring the new.

+ Got the travel bug? check out Mr and Mrs Globetrot’s trip to Peru. Seriously, peanut butter + jealous… and about to press ‘yes’ on my next trip.

+ I’ve been exploring my process a bit more and testing new waters with some clients. More specifically, testing new questionnaires and reformatting the inspirational phase of some of my projects too. So far it’s been going really well and my clients have responded very positively to the shift. I’ll share more details as I further test and solidify my new methods.

+ This week I’ve been looking for a developer who could help finish a website of mine, and was out of luck with my usual contacts. So I took a leap of faith and sent a single tweet out into the world. Since then, I’ve established connections with 5+ solid referrals for future work and a few who can help me tackle my current needs. Sometimes it’s all about taking a risk and reaching out to where you’re already connected.


That’s it! Hope you all have a meaningful and sweet weekend too.