As you might know, this last month has been pretty heavy. Moving, working a ton at my day job, balancing a side-hustle, and getting settled in with the guy. Sometimes you just have to get away from it all, and man, have I felt that way lately. So when our pending trip to Moab was approaching I was more than ready to get out of town and enjoy some time away from the grind.
Ever since our last trip we knew we always wanted to return to Moab. The imposing arches, the colorful desert, the ever-expansive sky. Everything about the stark beauty of the area just took our breath away. So a few months ago, when we decided to take another trip to Moab and knew right away we wanted to invite some close friends, Rachel and Jeff, to experience it for themselves.
We hit the road early in the morning last Thursday, and arrived in town during the early afternoon. Once in town, we stopped for a late lunch at Moab Brewery to enjoy our first vacation beer and some filling sandwiches. Afterwards, we drove a little further down the road and checked into our adorable Moab KOA cabin, and then set out for our first off-roading trail of the weekend–Fins n’ Things.
After riding our adrenaline rush home, we spent the rest of the night getting settled into our surroundings. Our first evening back at camp was a simply perfect night. We grilled elk brats, drenched them in toppings, and gathered around the table over some beers.
Later that evening some of Rus’s friends, who were also in town, stopped by after dinner for some drinks. We laughed way too hard, sipped smokey scotch, and had some pretty memorable times playing charades and card games.
After spending way too long trying to find the perfect camping spot on our last trip, we knew that this time, we had to avoid that with a larger group.
So we rented the cutest little cabin through Moab KOA for pretty cheap. And even though we did see a few open camping spots this time, I’m really happy we rented the cabin. We had our own grill, picnic table, porch swing, and we were even able to take semi-hot showers, and relax after long days in the dust and rain.
The next morning we scarfed down a delicious southwestern breakfast at Jailhouse Cafe and set out on the road. Rus had picked out our next off-roading trail, so we headed in that direction. But as always, when exploring a new place, we made a couple pit stops at some of the viewpoints and formations in the area.
And somehow on our way to the trail we went a little too far and missed the turnoff sign. But, of course, in the most serendipitous way it worked out for the best! We ended up driving the extra few miles to Canyonlands National Park.
Even though the weather was a bit temperamental (rain? In Moab?!) we actually found it be a small blessing. I have never seen the rocks so red, and the desert grass so green and tall. While it was cloudy most days, the sun would peak in and out a bit to brighten up the sky. But man, those rainy clouds were absolutely gorgeous. And sleeping to the pitter patter sound of rain on the desert sand was pretty wonderful.
After entering Canyonlands we were immediately faced with some of the highest views of the national park we could imagine. With names like Grand View Point and Mesa Arch, I knew these arches and vantage points were going to be spectacular. And as you can see, they were.
What I love most about unplanned adventures like this, are the nice little surprises where you get to explore a new place or visit an unexpected location. Normally I’m not a super spontaneous person, but when I turn on my adventure dial, I became a much more free-spirited person who finds joy in the smallest moments of change and uncharted roads. Which is exactly what we did on our way out of Canyonlands.
A park ranger suggested we follow an off-roading trail that hugged the cliff side and winded along the Schafer and Potash trails back into Moab.
What a wild descent.
The trail is hundreds of feet up with out any railings to either side. Which one one hand is absolutely knee-buckling. But at the same time in a slightly more pronounced feeling is the sense of exhilarating liberation. That’s what I love most about Moab. You can stand on the edge of the highest cliff of your life, among the clouds and birds, and feel utterly insignificant in a powerful and raw way.
After we descended down the ravine, we followed the road along the valley of towering giants and rocks shadowed by the presence of old and beautiful formations. Not many people were on this particular off-roading trail, and everyone in the car was pretty silent on the way back. We had our heads out of the windows gazing up the valley walls and absorbing all the scenes as they passed by. It made for quite a reflective and calming experience.
That was until we rounded Dead Horse Park. Then, our mouths dropped open at this…
Around the corner, revealed the most breathtaking vantage point of the Colorado River, called Gooseneck Overlook. The huge river bended around an imposing formation of red rock and cliff face. I haven’t felt that small in a very long time.
We paid for the amazing vantage points of the Schafer and Potash trails, by riding very bumpy roads for about another 15 miles before we reached the main highway again. Once we returned to Moab we decided to reward our sore seats with pizza and beer from my old favorite, Zax Restaurant.
After stuffing ourselves with delicious varieties of dough, we meandered over to a local dive bar for some cocktails and so the guys could watch a basketball game. We people watched, sipped whiskeys, and eventually took over the jukebox for some classic tunes.
A pretty great way to end the day, if you ask me.
Stay tuned for Arches National Park and Mad Max style off-road racing to come…
Well, hello! You might be wondering what happened to me? Or maybe not, cause you have a life and this after all is just the internet. But in case you were curious, I’ve been super slammed between work and moving. After packing, moving, unpacking, and consolidating two households, and then fixing some broken things in the new place, we’re starting to feel a bit more normal.
What’s so curious about this whole process is that while Rus has already started to feel at home, I’m still adjusting to the change. It’s kind of hilarious, but I think I figured out that I probably won’t feel 100% at home until our place is decorated and looks pretty. I blame it on being a designer, because everything’s ok when things are put away, but until I have a piece of art work on the wall, or feel inspired by beautiful textiles, I probably won’t be totally settled in. Oh well!
So I’ve quickly begun planning the decor and items on my wish list for the home. It’s a solid list, but one we’ll slowly tackle over the next several months. We have our rooms of priority, obviously the living and dining room being one. But a close runner-up is my brand new home studio space! It’s one of the largest rooms in the house, and there’s plenty of room for more than just my desk, so I’m dreaming up options like a drawing table, or a whole corner for my easel and paints.
I can’t wait to see how it evolves. But to start with here are some gorgeous basics that are inspiring me to get the studio off to a great start.
| 01 | Word Bird Today Is The Day Art Print from Urban Outfitters | 02 | Jacquard-Weave Rug from H&M | 03 | IKEA PS Cabinet in White | 04 | Copper Photo Clip Banner from Urban Outfitters | 05 | Wing Spec Office Chair in White from Dot & Bo | 06 | IKEA Alex Drawers on Casters in White | 07 | Open Face Letter Board in 12×18 from Alphabet Signs
You know how people say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do? I’m feeling that.
We’re moving at the end of the week, and honestly I’m beyond excited to start building a home with Rus, cooking together, long movie nights, and sharing a new space all our own. But all of the energy it takes to get to that point that has made this month absolutely exhausting. No one really mentions what a blur your life becomes when you’re attempting to balance a real life, the stresses of full-time work, a side-hustle, and moving on top of that!
Sorry if this is also stressing you out reading about it, I just had to get it out there. Ya know, catharsis.
The last few weeks have been extra nail-biting. At first we found a place we absolutely loved thinking there was no way we’d get lucky enough to land it, but then a while later we found out they wanted to go with us. We were so excited!
Well, that quickly disappeared when the process was taking much longer than we thought it should. We supplied all the info and items needed, but didn’t hear back for long stretches of time, which was killing me inside. I started to become more annoyed/disappointed/stressed with the whole situation. All the way up until last week when we signed a lease. Finally.
While now I can finally rest easy knowing we have a place, my mind is still a little foggy. Like a stress hangover. Probably because this has just been one of those months. The kind where your focus is on something else at all times, and you’re never 100% present. Where I’m finding it nearly impossible to get jazzed about work, finishing a to-do list, or tackling a hard project.
The kind of month where your brain is on the fritz. It’s little things. Forgetting my laptop at home, or putting things down and losing them entirely, or when you open a bin and can’t remember what you were looking for in the first place. I think my brain is trying to tell me it’s just a bit exhausted.
Thankfully Rus has been stepping in a lot which has been such a blessing. We’ve already planned an upcoming trip with some friends to get out of town, so that should really help me decompress a bit after what’s been a whirlwind. Even so, once we move in and get unpacked, you can sure as hell bet I’m booking some spa time, take a few days off of work, and unplugging to really recharge my batteries.
In the meantime… I guess a glass of wine will have to do.
I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I’m head-over-heels in love with my client, Passagem Gastronômica’s, new website design. Passagem Gastronômica is a passionate food and travel blog run by Patricia, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, and her husband Alex, who takes all of their gorgeous photos. Isn’t it so sweet that they get to share this space together and share both of their passions? Oh, and they are the sweetest, kindest people I’ve probably ever met.
Yea, I’m kinda of gushing about them. Well, they deserve it! Working with them felt very natural and we had a lot of skype sessions tackling brainstorms and ways to organize the huge amount of content they had. So I’ve gotten to know them quite well over the last year or so.
When we first started the project they wanted a much more feminine look. Think peaches, pinks, and flowers. But I knew right away that they needed a design that not only pleased their taste, but that also attracted the readers they wanted and matched their content. So we went back through the worksheets and found new elements that could achieve a lovely balance between the traditional, sophisticated, foodie look and the soft feminine style Patricia wanted (check out the original moodboard).
We knew right away that a feminine illustrated header would be the best option and help bring in the soft look they wanted. So we reached out to the amazingly talented illustrator, Maria Costa, who was able to create the perfect piece of artwork to compliment the design.
The largest challenge of the work, besides finding cohesion in two different styles, was organizing all the content and establishing new categorizations for 200+ posts. Throughout the last few years Patricia and Alex have traveled and eaten a ton! It was a lot of fun looking through all their content and finding ways to simplify and streamline it all.
We also came up with some custom sorting tools for the Recipes and Restaurant pages, that Dara Skolnick was kind enough to help us figure out how to develop. She also tackled the big challenge of applying translation plugins to the site so that they no longer had to update two separate websites.
I have to say, that I am beyond happy with the end result. In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure how it would all turn out. Balancing feminine with modern and throw in some food?! It was a little confusing at first—but hey, that’s when I thrive. I love taking a really difficult ask from a client and trying to find a solution that is not only designed well, but also shows my clients that each of their websites are truly one of a kind.
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.