Get your gift swap on

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Just a friendly holiday PSA to chat about one of my favorite new things about the holidays: blogger gift swaps.

Last year I participated in Ali’s city swap, and was matched up with a lovely lady from Portland. She sent along tasty delights — I’m still enjoying the amazing Seven Smith Teamaker tea she sent along, and dreaming about a certain chocolate. I sent along some locally printed gift enclosure cards, and a tea towel from Mirdinara to my recipient. Here, who you give to and who gives to you are different people. What makes Ali’s swap unique is that the gift you give must be local to where you’re living. Supporting local artisans, making new friends, learning about other cities, win win win. Anyways, this was something I signed up for on a whim, and it turned out to be such a lovely experience that I wanted to give you all a heads up if you wanted to hop on board. The deadline to join is tomorrow, Nov 26th!

This year, on another whim—holiday time seriously puts me into whim-mode I guess—I signed up for the Goody Goody Gift Swap. The names on the exchangers list were too good to pass up, and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of a different swap this year.

The deadlines for both swaps are fast approaching, so if you’re wanting to get in to a little extra holiday spirit, hurry up and get yourself signed up.

Wishing you all safe travels if you’re heading out this week, and lots of love on Thanksgiving. I’ll be heading out west for a Cronkhite family Thanksgiving reunion on the farm. I’m so looking forward to taking a few days to unplug and relax with all of them.

Pssst: I opened a Pinegate Road Etsy shop, just in time for the holidays! I’m still going to be doing some tweaks, but I wanted to get it up in time for holiday shopping. If you have a creative go-getter on your list, one of these limited edition handmade prints might be a perfect new treasure.

weapons of mass creation 2014

weapons of mass creation featured designer 2014

This weekend marks a pretty big milestone in my design career. I’ll be heading to the Weapons of Mass Creation festival here in Cleveland as a featured designer. Some of you may have seen a little bit of this stamping craze that I got in to last month, and that was all in preparation to take part in the National Poster Retrospecticus that will be held at the festival. Along with taking part in this event, I’ll be spending my weekend soaking in inspiration from speakers that will be traveling here to Cleveland from around the country. I had a major pinch-me moment when I saw Grace Bonney’s headshot pop up as one of the speakers at the festival. Gah. That’s stuff my design-girl dreams are made of.

While I made the move here shortly before last year’s event, with my unpacking craze I wasn’t able to make it to the festival. I don’t know what to expect in it’s entirety, but I’m crazy excited to take part in an event that celebrates artists, designers, and creativity in this expansive way in my new hometown. Cleveland, I love you, honestly and truly. I was gushing to my coworkers last week about how there really couldn’t have been a better place for me to end up after graduation. It’s events like this that make me realize that the decision to move here was one of the better choices I’ve made in my life. There’s still a long way to go and a lot that I haven’t explored here, but after a year I can really say it’s feeling like home.

If you’re around the area, or are making your way to Cleveland for the festival, be sure to reach out! Send me a tweet, and I’ll be happy to come say hello. It will be amazing to get to know the creative community here in a new way, and there’s no better way to experience some major inspiration than in-person events like this.

Hope to see you this weekend!

You can purchase tickets here.

IN REVIEW | april, may, & june 2014

IN REVIEW | april, may, june 2014

So, what have I been up to? Most of all, just trying to make life happy. Wholeheartedly.

This year started off with some more big life transitions. Eaton came in to my life, and while I’m sure many of you have way bigger obstacles to overcome, single-puppy-momdom was incredibly difficult for me. It’s all in perspective and past experiences I suppose. I felt like almost nothing could get done in-between work and making sure that she had a happy healthy upbringing. Call me crazy puppy lady. I’ve finally got my lunch breaks back and we are sleeping through the night and past 7AM on weekends. Oh man, the sanity that has come back to me! At this same time, I took on the life-changing experience of working with Angela Hauck. Working with her and her team on both blog design, as well as my personal health journey has challenged me in more ways than I could have ever expected. This process has taught me just what I am able to take on while I walk this 8-5 + freelance career journey. I’ll be honest and say that it’s been tough. I failed myself more than I’d like to admit, and these past few weeks I’ve been transitioning in to more self-care and attention. That gung-ho “let’s do it!” attitude helped me get started, but maintaining my self-expectations didn’t go so well. Work, freelance, and fun came first for a while. Ice cream and fancy cocktails were had; workouts, not so much.

One of the most fun things that has happened in the past couple months has been the start of a new relationship. I met Todd in March, and we’ve been exploring, dining, chatting, and fun-having ever since. I don’t want to be too gushy on a design blog, so I’ll leave it at that. Hah! It’s been amazing to see how my life has changed for the better since meeting him. It’s also been a couple months of figuring out how to live a life together. You know how that beginning stage of a relationship goes. All you want to do is have fun, right? Life catches up, and then you realize that those real-life-adult things need to start happening again. You’ve gained ten pounds and don’t remember what your tennis shoes looked like. Oh, and those pants. Too tight to even explain. Whoops! We’re getting it together now, I promise.

Since March, I’ve been able to head to Pursue workshop, explore Cleveland in a whole new way with friends, figure out more of who I am as a designer and business owner, explore cooking with local produce, and really live up these warmer months. I don’t know if it has been the harsh winter we made our way through, or the new relationship that has me all giddy, but I’ve been loving this summer like no other. Things are busier, but they are also so much more worth while in lots of ways. Keep it coming, please and thank you!

All in all, I feel for the first time in years I’m settling in to a regular pace of life. A pace that fills me up, challenges me, and makes me a happier personal all together. These past few months have been an amazing experience, and this time around these experiences needed to happen outside of this online space. That’s ok. For now, I’m working on me, I’m working on us, and I’m working on working on things. I needed this time away to get to this place, to focus on something other than what’s been for so long. It finally feels good to be back.

REFLECTION | on passing and faith

a reflection on passing & faith | PINEGATE ROAD

Last weekend a family I have grown up with and considered a second family the majority of my life, lost their son in a tragic way. The details are still hard for me to comprehend, but you can read a little about the incident here. I’d just like to first and foremost ask for all your thoughts, prayers, and love to be sent to the Hallmans during this time. I know blogging about this is a little out of context to what I normally share, but I have the feeling that David’s life and death is going to have a significant impact of how I go about the rest of my journey here on Earth. He was such a bright and fun-loving kid, and I can’t even begin to understand why he was taken at a time like this. I know that everyone involved in the situation has come out of it stronger, more thoughtful, and more appreciative of life than ever before.

With this, I want to share a little part of myself that I’ve been keeping quiet about for the past couple years. This week has showed me the importance of saying what you feel when you have the time to do so, and it just seems right. Thanks for the courage David! This sounds all scandalous, but I promise you it’s not ;)

I grew up in a Christian household, going to Christian and Catholic schools until graduating high school, and I had considered myself agnostic throughout all of these experiences. When I was making wrong choices at home, I was punished by going to youth group Saturday afternoons — I never felt like I fit in with the kids there, and I honestly never really gave them a chance. When I went off to Iowa, faith was something that I rarely thought of. I had these years of my life to explore on my own terms, I made some good decisions, and I made even more wrong choices. All-in-all, these choices led me to Savannah to pursue my masters degree, and this is where I started to feel a pull towards exploring a Christian faith on my own for the first time. I met a good friend who opened up to me about her faith in a way that I never thought was possible for myself. She was a passionate, artistic, caring, and fun. There was a part of me that envied her ability to trust in God, go to church, and still live this amazingly fun life full of her personal passions on her own terms. My background made me feel like I had to be one way, or the other. I could be Christian, and follow all the rules, or be agnostic and live the way I wanted to. Meeting her, and becoming her friend sparked a new interest in faith that I have held inside of me for the past couple years. Those close to me knew I was exploring a relationship with Jesus more recently, but I still felt a little weird talking about this is general. It just didn’t seem like me, you know? I was still living my life the way I always had, breaking ‘rules’, and going on my own path — but suddenly, I had a little guidance. I had my faith to lean on a little more, to help me through some of the tough times, and to rejoice with me when things were working out. I always thought I needed to have someone to talk to about for all the little things going on in my life. With this new found faith in Jesus, I feel like He has been taking over, guiding me to where I was meant to be next.

I’m still the same old Kelsey, but I have a little more pep in my step, and I know that I have a wonderful support system behind me now. Serendipitously, I met Katie a couple months ago, and she has been re-inspiring me to live out my faith in an out-loud way. She does this so well, and is an inspiration to me in that sense. For the first time on my own accord, I went to church with her last Sunday. I’ve been struggling with feeling at home in a lot of ways in my life recently, and I can honestly say, I felt at home there that Sunday. Being back in my hometown this week, with so many close friends and family for the preceding events and funeral for David, was truly a lesson in life and faith in a way I can’t even begin to express. I’m so proud of how the Hallmans have been dealing with this tragedy, and how they have been leaning on their faith to make it through. It’s seriously inspiring, and I am forever changed by this experience. Even from the other side, David is using his gifts to share faith, love, and laughter. With these passing events, I thought it was about time to just throw this out there and be proud of my journey. Again, thank you for the courage David, love you buddy.

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IN REVIEW | january 2014

IN REVIEW - JANUARY 2014

January was a pretty simple month for me. Lots of getting back to the basics and finding my personal balance. Eaton came into my life. While having a new puppy is all kinds of stressful, having her has also forced me to stay on a regular schedule. She wakes me up, well, dark and early at 4:45. That’s something I never thought I’d welcome, but my day has just shifted. At nine, I’m ready to get to bed, and I do. My fitness journey is off to a great start. Things aren’t going perfect, but that’s not what we’re aiming for. Balance is key. My mom said she could see my cheekbones again, and that was pretty much all I could ask for during this first month! I’m feeling good, and I’m still indulging. Hello queso and margarita night.

I know some of you have asked me to share more details about what I’m doing for my fitness journey, so I thought these monthly recaps would be a great way to share about that. Right now, I skype with Ange every Sunday night, and we go over our plan for the week. We set attainable goals, and add them only when I’m ready to take more on. My first two weeks, I had four goals:

ONE: Get eight hours of physical activity a week. I spent my lunches walking around my building in my work clothes and my headphones, which I just had to get over! Hah. One of Ange’s key phrases is “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I’m trying to embrace that, because this is where the big long-term changes come from. I also spent my weekends taking longer walks around the river trails when I could get in some sunlight.

TWO: Three high-intensity interval sessions a week. These are sessions that I can do outside on a trail, or at the gym on any cardio equipment. I go as hard as I can for one minute, and then have two minutes of low intensity, eight times. With a warm up, cool down, and stretch, these are about 45 minutes of work that have really been pushing me .

THREE: Drink 3L of water/coffee/tea a day. At first I spent the majority of my days taking visits to the bathroom! It was crazy, but I never realized how dehydrated I was. I wasn’t even experiencing thirst because I’d deprived my body of the hydration it needed. After a couple days, I started to actually feel thirsty when I’d go an hour or two without a sip. I’ve been going through some medical things lately, and when I went to get my blood taken, I automatically told the nurse that I had bad veins. I’ve always had to get pricked a couple times, and I thought this was just how it was going to be for me. After one successful try, she just told me I was healthy and hydrated! You always hear how important water is, but to actually experience these benefits from doing it right was amazing.

FOUR: Get five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Guys, I’m not on a diet! Instead, so many of my calories are being replaced with fruits and veggies just by trying to fit them in to my meals. I’ve been going crazy with green smoothies, and making salads for a meal or two a day. I snack on apples, and make avocado toast for meals. Switching from a deprivation mind-set to this anything-goes mind-set has really been helping me.

After the first two weeks, we started adding in weight training. I am starting to see my arms in a whole new way — baby amounts of definition happening over here! I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the progress I’ve been making. At a much slower pace than I normally take this stuff, I’m able to take it in strides and not feel like I’m turning my life upside down all at once.

Thaaat was pretty much my whole January. Simple living, huh? I’m really liking this new pace of life. I feel like I have a little control over how things are going, and when they go weird, I’m equipped to handle that too.

Have any fun clean recipes that pack a bunch of fruits/veggies you want to send my way? I’d love some new things to try! Cheers to taking on February and making all your goals come true!