Alt Winter 2015

Alt Winter 2015-1-Design Crush


A few weeks ago, on a cold Wednesday, I headed off to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. It was my sixth time speaking and it’s become that point in the year when I reassess my goals and mission for Design Crush, and connect with potential sponsors and like-minded people who see the value in blogging. Every January I come away feeling refreshed and refocused.


Alt Winter 2015 Brooke Dennis

Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

The evening I flew into town Overstock hosted a dinner at Rest for some of the attendees. I didn’t have a real feel for the brand prior to that point, to be honest. But I’m going to be completely transparent here when I say that sometimes getting to know the people behind the company can completely change perception. Just a super lovely, very real team that was easy to talk to and hang out with and an insanely delicious meal (beer can chicken, paella, ceviche, pickled onion rings +more).


Alt Winter 2015-3-Design Crush


Thursday morning started bright and early thanks to jet lag and a poor night’s sleep – does anyone else have that issue the first night in a hotel? My roommate, Tabulous Design, and I took advantage and had a nice little breakfast (I’m obsessed with the Grand America‘s muesli and lattes) before talking to a few sponsors. I had to miss my friend Lisa Congdon‘s opening keynote for a few meetings, but everyone raved about it through the rest of the conference.


Alt Winter 2015 Brooke Dennis

Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

My panel was one of the very firsts – Pinterest: Community Growth, Revenue Streams, Driving Traffic – with Alexandra Evjen, Rachel Faucett, and Sara Martineau. Among all of the panels I’ve ever been lucky enough to participate in, this one was prepared to the nines. These ladies know their stuff in a big, big way and they’re excited about it too. If you’d like a few bits of advice that we talked about check out Alex’s post-Alt post.


Alt Winter 2015-5-Design Crush


Wednesday night brought with it a Downton Abbey themed dinner. Proper and elegant with flowers I couldn’t stop taking photos of, the night ended up being an early one for me. After dressing up in a dropped-waist, short-sleeved seafoam colored dress and (heavy) statement necklace I just couldn’t hang after my four hours sleep the night before. Several episodes of The Big C later and I was passed out cold.


Alt Winter 2015-6-Design Crush

Alt Winter 2015-7-Design Crush


While at Alt I also teamed up with Microsoft and Wayfair in their #DreamStudio, one of the sponsored lounges. They divided the space into three areas – craft room, kitchen, and living room/office – and had a few bloggers giving mini session on fun topics like Upcoming Art Trends in-between the main panels. Because I spent most of my time here I didn’t get to attend any panels other than my own, but I loved getting to connect with other attendees about something I’m passionate about!


Alt Winter 2015-8-Design Crush


Alt Winter 2015-9-Design Crush

Alt Winter 2015-10-Design Crush

Alt Winter 2015-11-Design Crush

Alt Winter 2015-12-Design Crush


Friday evening were the Mini Parties, basically my favorite part of every year. Alt takes over part of the third floor of the hotel and each room is a different theme, most rife with photobooth opportunitues. My partners in crime were my roommate Tab and Dottie and Alix (aka Modern Kiddo). We had an agenda to take the best possible photos and stuck to it for three straight hours – the last one is clearly our money shot!


Alt Winter 2015-13-Design Crush


I normally stay In SLC through Saturday and leave Sunday, but this year there was a ridiculous price difference in flights so I said goodbye Saturday afternoon after a leisurely breakfast and some good conversation with longtime friends. If you missed out this go around and are dying to attend Alt tickets just went on sale for Alt Summer!

(Alt 2010 (day 1 + day 2), Alt 2011, Alt 2012 (what I learned), Alt 2013,  Alt 2014)


Checking In: September

Sept-Design Crush

Making : pile after pile of broken down cardboard packing boxes
Cooking : I’ve been on a breakfast sandwich kick (apple English muffin + egg + cheddar)
Drinking : (diet) lemonade
Reading : The Book of Life, the third book in the All Souls Trilogy
Wanting : fall to slow down already
Looking : for the perfect dining room table and chairs
Playing : old mixtapes
Deciding : whether I need to make another trip to Lowes today
Wishing : that this house could set itself up
Enjoying : reacquainting myself with my hometown
Waiting : to put up Halloween decorations for another week
Liking : the sight of the changing leaves
Wondering : how long it will take for this town to feel like home once again 
Loving : all the help my family has been offering up as I get settled in
Pondering : how best to set up my office
Considering : when and where to buy this year’s pumpkins
Watching : Parenthood
Hoping : the headache I woke up with goes away soon
Marveling : at how much I love the local farmer’s market!
Needing : to go grocery shopping
Smelling : Bebe, who is laying next to me and desperately needs bathed
Wearing : my hoodie, constantly
Following : college football like whoa (Boomer Sooner!)
Wanting : a cheeseburger for lunch
Noticing : how the grass seems to grow slower here
Knowing : that I need to have a few electrical outlets upgraded asap
Thinking : about what to pack for the beach next weekend
Feeling : overwhelmed
Admiring : people who seem to juggle it all seamlessly
Sorting : through everything I’ve unpacked, trying to find its place here
Buying : washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.
Getting : tired of spending money
Bookmarking : more articles than I have time to read, mainly about haunted stuff
Disliking : the slow process of setting up house
Opening : bills, bills, BILLS
Feeling : anticipation


Checking In: August 2014

turnpike-Design Crush

Making : box upon box as I pack up for the move next week (eek!)
Cooking : does cereal count? (looking forward to getting back into it this fall)
Drinking : iced coffee galore
Reading : CNN’s site several times a day
Wanting : enough time to say goodbye to my friends here in Oklahoma City
Looking : at the dogs who are resting peacefully (for once)
Playing : not much – I’m in a music rut!
Deciding : whether I can wait to buy groceries until tomorrow
Wishing : for all of my favorite people to live in the same town
Enjoying : a summer-long marathon of Criminal Minds
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start this weekend!
Liking : this feeling of culling down all of my belongings
Wondering : how the pups are going to handle this 2-day long road trip 
Loving : how busy my evenings have been with lots of dinners and good conversation
Pondering : how best to pack up my art collection
Considering : lunch
Watching : again, Criminal Minds
Hoping : this last week goes just right – not too fast, not too slow
Marveling : at how summer has flown by this year!
Needing : the weather to drop below triple digits (please?)
Smelling : he sandalwood candle burning in my living room
Wearing : lots of tank tops
Following : several new Pittsburgh-based handles on Twitter
Wanting : PIZZA
Noticing : how different regions of the country go back to school at different times
Knowing : that my Mom gets here tomorrow to help me finish packing
Thinking : about how I’m glad I worked ahead on posts
Feeling : excited about football season
Admiring : my friend Clarisha for raising such a beautiful, smart daughter
Sorting : through old beauty products
Buying : nothing, saving my pennies for the house closing
Getting : a new (old) house
Bookmarking : podcasts to download for the long drive to PA
Disliking : saying so many goodbyes
Opening : lots of mortgage paperwork
Feeling : excited


Insta Moving Sale!


The only thing I really miss about regularly moving from apartment to apartment in my 20s is the necessary culling that happened with every relocation. I like going through my belongings to find the things I forgot I had, the things that I’m over, and the things that deserve a better life. Now I donate a few times a year, but there are always a few pieces that are maybe just a bit too good to put in a trash bag or cardboard box.

I’ve gathered some of those pieces as I pack up my life to move halfway across the country and am going to be posting them in the next few days for an Instagram sale. This sale is for Oklahoma City locals who can pick up their purchase only. The Sunbeam mixer above as well as pillows, lamps, art, and more will be available. If you’re local and looking for some deals you can follow along at @designcrush!


Checking In: July 2014

13116 Green Cedar Terrace-Kelly Beall


After over twelve months of end-of-month Instagram updates we’re changing it up a little around here. (Of course you can still follow @designcrush on Instagram.) While pictures really are worth a thousand words, sometimes it’s just nice to use the words instead. So for now we’ll be closing out each month with a much more verbal goodbye, with a nod towards Meet Me at Mike’s for the idea of this list. Join in if you’d like!


Making : lists of style props to use for a photo shoot I have later today
Cooking : rarely, this summer has been crazy busy
Drinking : lots and lots of H2O and iced tea
Reading : the latest issue of The New Yorker
Wanting : this move across half the country to be over already
Looking : at photos that need edited
Playing : Jenny Lewis’s latest – The Voyager
Deciding : what pieces to put in a little Instagram sale I’ll be having in the next week or so
Wishing : for more free time
Enjoying : cuddles with my pups, Piper and Bebe
Waiting : for college and pro football season to start
Liking : this crazy cool weather we’ve been experiencing – 20+ degrees below normal!
Wondering : what it will feel like to live back in my hometown
Loving : how green my lawn is this year
Pondering : whether I can wait another day to go to the grocery store
Considering : whether or not to throw out my half dead orchid
Watching : The Leftovers, Food Fighters, True Blood, Masters of Sex
Hoping : for some great last hangouts with friends before I leave town
Marveling : at how some of my best friends are all because of this site
Needing : more coffee
Smelling : the scent of recently fallen rain
Wearing : my Marcel Warby Parker glasses
Following : Jenny‘s house progress
Wanting : carbs!
Noticing : lots of State of the Blog posts lately
Knowing : that I’m about to start a huge, new, awesome chapter of my life
Thinking : about how I absolutely have to do laundry today
Feeling : excited about closing on my new house!
Admiring : risk takers
Sorting : through every single possession I own
Buying : super exciting things like home inspections and insurance
Getting : lots of positive reinforcement and support
Bookmarking : healthy diabetes-friendly recipes
Disliking : how this summer is flying by
Opening : the windows – WIDE
Feeling : anxious


The New Design Crush Headquarters



After eight months of searching for the perfect home in Pennsylvania, I’ve finally found it. And made an offer. And am buying it.

You’ll have to forgive the shoddy realtor photos, but I don’t have any of my own. Because I’ve never actually set foot in this house. I KNOW. I’m buying it based on these photos and a video my Mom shot on her iPhone when touring it for me. Let me tell you, buying a place halfway across the country is no piece of cake! But I’m excited to share of these photos with you and take you on the journey.

Let me start by saying that this is not the type of house I thought I would end up with. Mainly because it’s not what I was looking for or like anything that’s ever been my taste. I’m clean lines, modern, open spaces. And without the renovations that have been done on this 1900 colonial I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. But a few weeks ago I spied it online, and then later that same day both my realtor and my Mom sent me a link to it as well. My response: I like a lot of the inside, but am not into the outside. And part of that still stands true, but it’s grown on me considerably. So about a week later I sent both of them to take a peek in person and the three of us all fell head over heels. As far as the facade goes, I’d love to add a wooden porch the width of the house that eliminates those three strange steps up to the front door probably about more than anything else. But like a lot of things I want to do to the interior, all in good time.

But you probably want to take a peek for yourself at the new Design Crush headquarters…




The floors throughout the first floor have been refinished and (supposedly) the entire place was taken down to the studs. This is the living room right off the left of the foyer once you come in the front door. I love the high ceilings that run throughout this level. Right off the bat I’ll be pulling down those curtains in the little windows flanking the floor to ceiling fireplace and painting out the gold piece in the middle of the mantle. Eventually I plan on swapping out that tile in the hearth and painting the entire space white. I’ve always liked the look of a clean palette and really want my furnishings to be what brings color and personality to the house. The stone fireplace is much better in person (or so I hear) and is comprised of uneven bits and pieces.

To the right side of the frame is a huge open doorway into the dining room. The photo online is awful, but what you’ll find are three large windows forming a bay on the outer wall and a small built-in that’s thankfully already white. Off of the dining room is a fully renovated 3-piece bath and a small hallway to the kitchen.




Nicely refinished, but those the cabinets are dated and only made fresh by a coat of paint. They’ll need replaced sooner than later. Glass tiling in kitchens and baths is a trend currently, but one that I’m not entirely on board with. (Are people getting hugely amazing deals on it? What is the deal?!) It will suffice for now, but the larger plan is to tear it out and do a half wall of white subway tile with white paint (again) above. I’m also debating whether or not I’ll replace the black granite with something different. The right wall in this photo has a cooktop (soon to be replaced with a range before closing) and a nook for the fridge. The opposite two walls are half white beadboard and half white paint. Completely livable at this point. In the corner they form I’m hoping to put up some open shelving for pretty cookbooks and serving pieces. One of my favorite parts – not pictured – are the beams on the ceiling. A total dream!

To the left there is also a doorway out to the deck and backyard, which we’ll get to in a minute, and a pantry. To the right is a doorway that leads around to a nook that has a door to the basement, as well as a hallway with a coat closet before you’re back in the foyer. I love the full circle layout a lot.




Which leaves us here. The front door to the right (not pictured) has a half window and needs a coat of paint and that’s about it. This staircase curves up and to the left with a window set about halfway up. I’m not at all keen about the carpeting that leads the way up to and covers almost the entire second floor. Eventually I hope to replace it all with wood that closely matches the first floor, but that will require some savings. In the meantime, it will be good traction for the dogs since we’ve never lived with stairs before.




The second floor has one small bedroom with wood floors that will be my office, and three other bedrooms that all look about the same. Like this. (Not nearly as dark and dingy as this shot implies.) Again, several windows forming a large bay and a seriously decent-sized closet considering this place was built in 1900! There’s also another fully renovated 3-piece bath.




Continue up a switchbacked set of stairs to the third floor finished attic. Those windows are on all four side and total showstoppers! Again, I’m not fond of the carpeting, but at least it’s all new throughout. This floor is actually comprised of two huge rooms, one of which I’m hoping to make the master and the other the walk-in wardrobe of my dreams. This plan all depends on whether or not the central AC that’s going in before closing can have its ducts run up all three floors. A bit of a challenge, or so I’m told. I’m not sure what plan B is if that’s not a possibility.




The back yard is a total blank slate, you can only see about a fourth of it here. Not large by any means but comparable to what I currently have. The deck is new and beautiful and I’m already imagining having my morning coffee on it, throwing parties, and about a hundred other things! I’m also looking forward to pillaging my green thumbed Grandma’s yard for peonies, lilacs, and poppies to plant.

Closing is scheduled for September 8th, so I hope to have some better photos for you at that point. Thanks for indulging me while I share the new digs!


I (Kind of) Quit Sugar (Because I Had To)

Sugar-Design Crush


Back in May a completely unexpected thing happened. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. (I struggle not to go all Wilfred Brimley every time and say DIABEETUS.)

When I look back over the past few years, my decline is crystal clear. But I didn’t realize what my symptoms (or that I even had symptoms) were pointing to until my Mom casually suggested that maybe I should have a full blood panel run just to rule it out. So of course I looked up the disease on WebMD and suspected that’s exactly what was going on when I read the symptoms. Crap. That kicked a few things into gear, mainly doctor appointments and plenty of blood work. My numbers in the key areas were stupidly high. Awesome.

That was the first few weeks in May, and since then lots has happened. I’ve got my diet more or less under control thanks to a nutritionist and educating myself. Because I was mainly vegetarian already and didn’t eat tons of starches I was off to a good start. (It’s a misconception that diabetes is all about sugar control, it’s just as much if not more about your carbohydrate intake.) I bought the most incredible used treadmill from a friend (Built-in fans!) and use it for at least 30 minutes nearly every day. And I’m on medication. Luckily I’m not insulin dependent, but I do have a pill regimen that’s being built upon.

I started noticing the differences in myself nearly immediately. Gone was the need for daily afternoon naps, gone was the crash after most meals, gone was the near constant thirst, gone was the rapidly shedding weight I’d been experiencing… and gone were the sweets from my kitchen. I’m going to be completely honest, that last one was the toughest. (Though I’ll admit the weight loss was the only good thing going on.) This is the start of a complete lifestyle overhaul that will last a lifetime. Once my numbers get down to where they need to be I’ll be able to indulge here and there, but I’m stuck with the Big D forever.

There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about Type 2 Diabetes. One being that you get it only from being obese or a sugar hound. Though both of those things can lend a hand, in my case it was hereditary. But the thing is there’s no one way to get it, the medical community isn’t 100% sure what causes its onset. What they do know is that my pancreas has stopped producing the requisite amount of insulin necessary for my body to process glucose and get it out of my body. So without medication it just travels around in my blood and makes its way out eventually through urine, without ever being used as energy.

While it does suck, I’ve taken this thing on with a positive attitude. (I’m getting healthy! I’m getting skinny!) I mean, it’s not like I can give it back so I might as well do all that I can to treat it. So for now I’ll be living vicariously through my Food & Cocktails board on Pinterest and have a (no longer secret) board called Diabetes Food. Because that’s just the kind of girl that I am.


Fresh Ink

In lieu of a rather unphotogenic June that was essentially full of photo shoots for the site and plenty of packing up house, I thought I’d skip out on our monthly Instagram recap. Instead I wanted to share some new ink I got a few Fridays ago. In fact I got two new tattoos on the same day (not the first time that’s happened), and both are very meaningful designs that I’ve been wanting for awhile.




My Grandpa (not Pete, the other one) had a huge hand in raising me. And for the life of me I can’t seem to put into words just how big of a spot he holds in my heart. And just how much it gutted me when he passed away when I was 17. Swallows are the bird of remembrance, and this one is based on Julia Rothman’s Daydream wallpaper for Hygge & West. I had my tattoo artist add a little touch of original tattoo style (sometimes called sailor style) in honor of my Grandpa’s Navy days as a gunner’s mate. Once he left the service and went to work in the steel mills of Pittsburgh his nickname actually was Sailor, so it felt all the more fitting.




The second is a super simple design that I did in about 2.5 seconds. As my moving date looms ever closer and this phase of my life in Oklahoma comes to an end, I wanted to commemorate it. The first time I moved here I was 18, a kid in an adult’s body. Now I’m 34 and the number of ways I’ve grown and changed as a person are too numerous to count. If you haven’t guessed what it stands for yet I’ll share – a rudimentary tornado. Not only are they an ever present threat each spring, but in this case a symbol of destruction and rebirth. (And as my friend pointed out, when I bend my arm up it looks like a Delta symbol. For change.)

These two tattoos bring my total to seven, though the swallow is the first I’ve gotten that will be seen on a regular basis. And of course I’m already planning the next one – they’re addictive like that! So how about it, have any tattoos of significance on you?


A Moving Update

Zora neale Hurston-Design Crush

Image: Free People Blog

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared the news that I’m moving back to my hometown of Pittsburgh this year, so I thought I’d give you a candid little update on the process.

This is easily my most stressful move ever. Never before have I dealt with selling and buying homes simultaneously, let alone halfway across the country from one another. So many firsts. The real estate market is hot in Pittsburgh right now, but I honestly haven’t found many houses that I can picture myself living in. And the majority of homes in my price range are much older than here in Oklahoma City, so I guess I’ve been spoiled a bit and am having a tough time coming to grips with how much renovation I’m willing to take on. (Though it would definitely make for some good blog content.) I need to make the time to schedule a trip to check things out in person but keep putting it off. Because of the temperature of the market basically anything I’m into is snatched up immediately. Womp womp. I’m hoping to share more in this arena once I start narrowing it all down to some serious house choices, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride/panic attack.

On the financial front, after months of putting off pre-approval on a home loan I finally got it together and sent everything off this past weekend. Being self-employed the bank basically wants my first born child. Though I’m making a considerable amount more now than when I was approved for my first home loan in 2008 they’re requiring a cosigner. I realize this isn’t unheard of, but it feels like a gigantic defeat and maybe a little bit like punishment for being unmarried and self-employed. Luckily my stepdad is great and has offered to fill that gap, so hopefully I’ll soon know what I’ve been approved for this go around. (Fingers crossed, everything takes longer in Self-Employedville.)

This past week I started packing up – “decluttering” – my house so that it’s ready to go on the market once a few of these other kinks are worked out. It feels cathartic to be able to take my time and get rid of things that I don’t want to schlepp with me instead of just shoving everything into boxes all willy nilly. A few of the better discards are being set aside for an Instagram sale I plan on having in a few weeks for local OKCers (pick up only) – so if you’re nearby stay tuned!

So there you have it. This move, along with some health issues that have popped up, have made 2014 quite the handful. I’m trying desperately to keep the end game in mind, but some days it’s harder than others and the negative side wins over completely. I know these are total first world problems too, which then makes me feel guilty. It’s an infinite loop, y’all!


Insta May


Loved the leftovers from our Paint Dipped Copper Necklace project.

Of course I’m on the peony bandwagon – they’re one of my favorites.

I’m also on the blueberry bandwagon, eating them by the handful lately.

Had some QT with one of my favorite pups at Chirps & Cheers.

One of the prettiest evenings of the spring spent in a friend’s backyard at twilight.

I read The Interestings, maybe my favorite book so far this year.

I’ve been wearing my red Swedish Hasbeens constantly!

Bebe enjoyed her first patio dinner of the year at The Mule.

One of my oldest friends from college was in town, I don’t see him nearly enough.

I’m really happy with how these remixed grocery store flowers turned out.

Turned back time to the day I had my braces removed! Ahh!

Picked up a new pair of sneaks for otherwise unfun athletic-type activities.

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