A (Belated) Housewarming Party



Hello, my name is Kelly and it took me just over two years to have a housewarming party. It’s a ridiculous thing and maybe I should have called the party I had last Saturday an open house, but a housewarming is what it was. Aside from my immediate family and friends there haven’t been a ton of guests and plenty of people were curious, or so the past 26-months would lead me to believe. So last month I decided I was ready to entertain on a larger scale and invited fifty people over for November 19th. Not only would everyone get to mix and mingle, but the timing also meant my place would be clean and ready to host Thanksgiving Thursday! Two birds, one stone.




I knew I wanted to do as little cooking as possible, which meant it was going to be heavy snacks and appetizers. Everyone knows those are the best parts anyway. But the thing I was most excited about it, aside from seeing everyone, was getting to use all of the serving pieces I’ve collected with World Market generously filling in the gaps (source links following the post). In fact, I pulled out all of the Type A stops by laying everything out a few days before and labeling them with Post-Its so I knew where all of the food was going to go.




I made up a delicious apple cider sangria and infused water with citrus fruits, both were set out in decanters in serve yourself fashion. There was also a selection of Italian sodas for underage guests, a variety of beer, and so many bottles of wine! Let’s just say I’m set for the entirety of the holiday season thanks to my guests and their generosity.




A non-negotiable for hosting any party is the presence of cheese. Well, at least it is in my book. I picked up six fancy varieties as well as plenty of sharp cheddar, gouda, swiss, and pepper jack to go on crackers and mini toasts. Oh, and there was a parmesan spread as well because cheese is delicious.




Minted, one of my favorite ongoing partners, is currently running a promotion where all of their digital invitations are free though December 31st, so I was fast to hop on the train and email out this type heavy invitation. My timeline was a little too tight to order their fabric table linens, so I went with the prettiest gold foil-pressed table runners for both the dining room table and buffet instead. Not only did they protect the wood, I was also able to roll them up for later use since there were no spills! I also customized some of Minted’s Inkblot foil-pressed place cards with foods that might need some explainging, like my Mom’s addictive cracker candy. All it took to use them in a new way was some toothpicks and tape!




My stepdad made his famous poppyseed cake that’s actually a recipe from my Mom’s grandmother. At the end of the night there were only three pieces left, which made him plenty happy. I’ll be sharing the recipe here in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.




I picked up the florals here and there throughout the prior week and kept them well watered until I was ready to put together the arrangements Friday night. If your table is longer than 96-inches I recommend going with two slightly smaller, yet equally tall bouquets for more of an impact. Some empty places on the table were filled in with produce – apples, acorn squash, oranges, and persimmons. It’s a great trick, just use whatever is seasonal.












Recently I had picked up some lavender extract paste that I was anxious to try, so I baked up a batch of lavender cakes with lavender-honey cream cheese icing in some cute paper cups. I’m not sharing the recipe because I think they forgot an ingredient or two, but they looked so pretty!







The party got started around 4:30 and I think the last guests rolled out around midnight. I had such a great time playing hostess that I basically forgot to eat and the only thing I drank was coffee, but I’d call it a success! My house was filled with so much love and laughter, and just maybe the first snow of the year that happened during the party was a sign of good to things to come.

Charcuterie Cutting Board // Marble Paddle Cutting Board with Copper Handle // Oval Wood Tray with Copper Handle // Woven Bamboo Salad Bowls Set of 2 // Mid-Century Creamer // Bamboo Salad Tongs // Small Olivewood Spoon // White Frosted Glass Pedestal Stand // White Rectangular Lacquer Serving Tray // White Coupe Oval Platter // Black and Gold Double Walled Ice Bucket  // Mid Century Bottle Stoppers Set of 2

A special thank you to Minted and World Market for providing product to help turn my party into a reality! And thanks to you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content.


Summer To-Do List


Last week I took a few minutes to think about some important things – namely what I’d like to get out of this coming summer. While it’s been quite a few years since I’ve had a summer off, there’s still something magical about the season and I’m looking forward to this one immensely.

What’s on your summer 2016 to-do list?


Happy 2016 + My Intentions

Paperless Post-Design Crush

Paperless Post

I wasn’t planning on showing up here before Monday, but like a lot of you I’m feeling introspective with the new year upon us. (Happy 2016!) I stopped making resolutions years ago – the guilt and disappointment are a bit too much when I fail – but this year I’ve settled on a few intentions. (Resolutions by another name? Most likely.) And just like writing them down on a Post-It and sticking that note to the fridge, sharing them here holds some accountability for me.

Take better care of myself. Since turning 36 in November I’ve realized this really is the only body and the only life I’ve got. I plan on making big efforts to get my diabetes even further under control, as well as continuing with my daily regiment of vitamins and eating well. Hoping to get more physical activity into the mix as well. (Ugh.)

Work on that whole work/life balance thing. I’ve been struggling with this since taking Design Crush full-time four years ago, and have yet to find a decent balance between the two. My hopes are to spend more time with friends and family, as well as open myself up more to relationships. (Because honestly, I just haven’t made the time or effort. And I’m not getting any younger.)

Try at least one new recipe a month. I’ve fallen into a kitchen rut. Since my diabetes diagnosis back in 2014 I’ve had to relearn my eating habits and cooking hasn’t been nearly as pleasurable. I’m starting small with one new recipe a month, and hoping I fall in love with the process again and more on to one new recipe a week.

So there you have it. What are your intentions for 2016?


Balancing Life with the UP2

Jawbone UP-1-Design Crush


Activity trackers aren’t exactly a new fad, and to be honest I’ve been known to make fun of those who are evangelists for them in the past. But ever since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a year and a half ago, suddenly all kinds of health issues that weren’t important in the past are a big deal. Carb intake, working out, getting enough sleep – all things that I’m paying way more attention to these days. Also things that Jawbone’s UP2 are helping me track and even improve upon! Hi, Pot. It’s Kettle. Let’s talk.


Jawbone UP-2-Design Crush


I stopped wearing a watch years ago because having it bang against my desk and keyboard while designing was enough to drive me crazy. I was happy to find that the band on the UP2 is an adjustable soft rubber bracelet, and I’ve had zero problem wearing it 24/7. After two weeks it’s already become a habit that I’m not eager to break, and keeping track of everything has become like a competition with myself. It even manages to go with my wardrobe when I stack on bracelets – no small feat! And on days when I forget to throw on any accessories it simply looks like a modern bracelet.


Jawbone UP-3-Design Crush


My UP2 has been tracking everything from movement to diet to sleep, and yet I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of its functionality. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the idle alert which keeps you from staying in one place for too long, and the alarm that gently wakes you up in the morning by vibrating your tracker.


Jawbone UP-5-Design Crush


I’m not a person who’s ever been extremely active, so I have my goal set to 8,000 steps a day. The difference now is that I’m eager to check my steps as soon as I’ve done an activity – like run on the treadmill, gone grocery shopping, or walked my dogs! I wasn’t expecting just how addicting it would be.


Jawbone UP-6-Design Crush


Being able to keep track of every bite of food I put in my body throughout the day is incredibly important to sticking to my recommended 45 carb per meal limit. It’s a relief to know that there’s a record of the results somewhere other than in my mind, and that I can go back and look at what I ate when I was having an especially energetic or exhausting day.

For the past six months I’ve been struggling with sleeping well, I believe it to be a side effect of a new diabetes drug that I’m taking. I don’t have a tough time falling asleep – it’s the staying asleep that’s difficult. Because I wear my UP2 to bed it actually tells me how many times I woke up during the night, when I was sleeping light, and when I was in a deep sleep. In the morning it gives me a report and mentions tips like doing light let lifts when I can’t get back to sleep and getting up to do something productive if I’m restless. This has been my favorite function so far!


Jawbone UP-4-Design Crush


What I initially thought was a fad has become a part of my everyday life, and a tool in treating my diabetes. At this point I can’t imagine not wearing my UP2 when it even manages to seamlessly blend into my day-to-day, from lifestyle to wardrobe.

This post sponsored by Jawbone. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush producing fresh content!


A Trip to Kennywood



There was one main thing on my summer bucket list and that was to visit Kennywood, one of the oldest and most beloved amusement parks in America that’s located just outside Pittsburgh. Founded in 1898, Kennywood is home to several wooden rollercoasters and was even designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.




I lost count of the number of times I’ve visited the park, but the last was back in 1999 the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Since then a few rides have said  sayonara while others have taken their place. I was anxious to reacquaint myself with the place.





So a few weekends ago me along with eight members of my family headed to Kennywood for the day! Naturally it was one of the hottest days of the summer, which seemed appropriate. We baked in the sun – under our sunscreen, of course – from 11am until the park shut down for the night at 10:30.

The carousel above is over 100 years old, the wooden platform and hand painted horses make it beyond magical.





Not everyone was able to ride every single ride (back injuries, inner ear issues, fear of heights – the list goes on), so we spent a good part of the day separating and regrouping. My ride partner was my 29-year-old cousin who was just as ride-focused as me (yeah, you can tell we’re related).




I made sure to make a stop at my favorite eatery for some cheese-smothered Potato Patch Fries, one of those foods that’s become an institution within the park. And then I ate them so fast I didn’t even snap a photo – the HORROR.





We rode the fastest coaster in the part in the front seat. My mom was seated directly behind me screaming the entire time, as one does on a rollercoaster, and I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming back to my ears! My eyes were even closed because I thought my contacts might slide right out.




I was brought up on county fair and amusement park rides, both of my parents love them. Whenever someone is freaking out in the middle of one I’m usually the person sitting next to them, it must be some sort of unspoken law of nature. While riding the Black Widow (above) the teenage girl seated next to me lost it so bad that tears and snot were pouring out and her long hair was plastered to her face. She kept telling her friend she was going to pass out, while her friend held her hand and said that everyone was looking at her. Yeah, she totally didn’t care and bolted as soon as the ride was over and the harnesses lifted.




Amusement parks at night are ten times better than by day, and I was immediately taken back to walking around Kennywood as a teenager with whatever boy I liked at the moment. Those were the days, man.




National Painting Week: The Office Reveal (+ a Giveaway)



I did it. I created an accent wall that I love that doesn’t feel tacky or cliche, but that still packs a punch. In this case the key was choosing two muted hues as well as embracing my love of geometry. But let’s back up for a minute and check out the before photos of my home office.





The bare basics and oh so boring. A small Parsons style desk, office chair, filing cabinets to hide supplies, and artwork that has yet to find a home. Of course no room would be complete without a wayward throw rug, yes? As I mentioned in my last post, the walls had been painted a greyish white and that’s about all I’d done in this space since moving into my house last September.




Before charting out the diagonal accent wall I’d settled upon, I gathered a length of rope and a few thumbtacks. The first step was maneuvering myself up to the tippy-top of my ladder to reach the high ceiling, where I tacked the rope in the upper corner. (No small feat for this 5’2″ girl.) I drew it taut as I pulled down to the opposing corner and tacked a few places along the way for reinforcement, then followed the line it created with painter’s tape. My (mad) method ensured a straight line, which is oh so important if you’re the OCD type like me who might obsess over any imperfections later on.




It took two coats of SW 7110 Cosmetic Blush in my favorite Sherwin-Williams combo, the Emerald line in a satin finish. I’ve used this tag team on my last four painting projects and love it. Once the second coat was on I removed the tape by pulling away at an angle for a super crisp line. (A pro tip is to always remove painter’s tape while the paint is still slightly wet.) The low VOCs made the smell of paint non-existent, so with a small crack of the window I was able to start working in my office almost immediately.




If you noticed, I turned my plan for a diagonal accent wall into more of an accent corner! I didn’t plan on it beforehand, but once I started taping things off it just felt right. So I went with it. The end result feels a bit like a pink beam of light shining on my workspace, which has been an especially welcome presence on overcast days.





I relocated my desk to the newly painted wall and kept things simple with a brass lamp and fresh flowers. (Trust me, that desk will be cluttered in no time.) The project as a whole took just around two hours spread over two days. I have a few more pieces of furniture to add before the office is 100% complete, but this refresh is perfect for the immediate future!





For the past three years I’ve teamed up with Sherwin-Williams to mark National Painting Week. Together we’ve tackled the front door and hall bath at my old home, and now my office. Each project wasn’t huge as a whole, but made such a positive change in my space.

Visit the National Painting Week site and see what other bloggers are doing to update and celebrate! Leave a comment below sharing if you have plans to switch up an area in your home for National Painting Week for a chance to win $100 from Sherwin-Williams. Giveaway ends May 17th at midnight EST.

I received product and compensation from Sherwin-Williams in return for this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Design Crush!


This One Time, At Texas Style Council CAMP


Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

The week before last I headed to Texas Hill Country, just outside Austin, to attend the fifth and final Texas Style Council. What had started as a group of like-minded people brunching on quiche a few years ago had grown huge in size, and this year was stripped back down to the basics. Two hundred women staying at a Girl Scout camp for a long weekend and leaving everything else at the door was the bare agenda.




Photos Chelsea Laine Francis

Vintage camping elements set the scene as we made our way between cabins, sessions, and activities. Permission to only occasionally shower or brush your hair was granted as we all gathered to discuss the deeply buried stuff: vulnerability, keeping connections real, and creating a meaningful presence.



Photo Chelsea Laine Francis


Photo Kelly Beall

I was flattered to be asked to speak by TxSC founder, Indiana Adams, who I connected with back in January. (We were both on our way to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City and on the same delayed flight.) Speakers were asked to arrive a day early to have a little extra time to connect with the amazing sponsors on hand, as well as enjoy some outdoor activities.



Photo Chelsea Laine Francis


Photo Kelly Beall

I’d been looking forward to horseback riding and zip lining for over a month, so much so that not even the pouring rain could stop me. I have a difficult time stepping away from the screen and actually relaxing, so I’m taking it as a sign and looking into taking some horseback riding lessons. This weekend was a great reminder that it’s just as important to make time for yourself as it is to kick ass and take names at the office.



Photo Chelsea Laine Francis

Throughout the weekend campers collected “badges” (pins) for completing projects, attending sessions, etc. I never got to be a Girl Scout as a kid and my competitive spirit took over – I had to collect them all! It wasn’t at all about the end result, almost more like a baseball card situation, but I happily accepted the Eagle Scout award at the badge ceremony Sunday afternoon for collecting the most pins!




I was lucky enough to spend my nights sharing snacks and sleeping on a rock hard mattress in the same room as these girls – Chloe Mitchell of Hello Society, Cyndie Spiegel, and Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic.




Photos Kelly Beall

The last day of camp showed up suddenly, as it always seemed to when I was growing up. TxSC was refreshing in a way few conferences are, full of women without pretensions or agendas. Women who I most likely never would have crossed paths with otherwise. A big thank you to Indiana for creating this labor of love that we all had the benefit of taking part in.


Back in the ‘Burgh: 6 Months Later

Pittsburgh-Design Crush


Several of you who took this year’s Reader Survey mentioned you wanted to see more of Pittsburgh, hear how it differs from my years spent in Oklahoma City, and generally just know how I’m adjusting to living back in my hometown. I’m 100% happy to share all of those thing with you, and so glad to hear (read?) there’s interest! I’ll be rolling out local maker profiles and tours in the next few months as well as highlighting my favorite spots as I discover them.  But until then, March 8th marked six months since the move so I thought I’d reflect a little on how things have been going.


Clouds-Design Crush


It’s been easier than I’d anticipated. Prior to relocating I honestly thought I might end up in therapy from reverse culture shock, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Turns out my small hometown still felt just like, well, home. It’s been going through a bit of a renaissance and the downtown area has been turning over slowly to some welcome new businesses. (Case in point: a juice bar opened last month!) It’s so nice being near family and the few friends I’ve kept in contact with through the years, as well as being able to see out-of-town friends who come back to visit. The anxiety that’s plagued me since college has decreased dramatically, and I feel more grounded here than anywhere which has been a discovery in itself. I’m absolutely in love with my home, it feels like the space I’ve always dreamed of creating for myself and it makes me proud.


Home-Design Crush


It’s been different than expected. I’d gotten so used to not living near family that I need to remind myself to make time to visit and take advantage of my new proximity. I get frustrated that I haven’t learned my go-to brunch place, favorite restaurants, or where to pick up that perfect gift just yet. The same goes for not having immediately built a community to immerse myself in. (I tend to forget that I built the foundation for one years ago by staying connected to the city online.) It’s a bit strange to live about 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh as opposed to the 10 from Oklahoma City, so I’m in the car a bit more. I miss being 2 minutes away from Super Target (true story). My 115 year old house has had some issues – leaking roof, sewage in the basement from settled pipes, hot water tank died – that I wasn’t financially anticipating this soon.

All in all I know I made the right decision to move back. I’d been gone since leaving for college and I love getting to know this city as an adult.


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.


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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

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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