Our Big News: Mom-Mode.

I've been hinting at some "news" for the past week that I've been eager to share with y'all. It wasn't until yesterday that we felt we were in a place that we could actually speak freely about the situation. A couple of close friends knew what was going, and of course our family, but everyone else was left in the dark. To finally spoil the surprise for you... we now have custody of Mike's 3 year old son, Toby! We are over the moon excited about it! Things started falling in place on Friday, much much sooner than we expected. We weren't expecting to bring him home with us until today, but we found ourselves in front of a judge on Friday and we were so very tickled to bring him back with us (after a few hours at Chuck E. Cheese, of course!)
Many of you were readers back when Toby would visit us every other weekend, and you may remember seeing him make some guest appearances on my blog as a wee lil' lad! I haven't written about him in a long time because things weren't going very well. We weren't able to see him for a long time and it really did break our hearts. We weren't sure we were going to ever see him again, so when we got the call saying we may be able to have him come live with us we were pretty stoked. And stressed. So many people have asked me (both politely, and not so) about Toby since his last mention on the blog, and eventually I stopped responding to anything regarding the situation. It quickly became one of my "no go topics," meaning I didn't speak of it... well... ever. We decided to keep that part of our life private. It was a painful thing to go through for both of us and we didn't need to air any dirty laundry. 

I won't go into details about how or why this situation came to be. Honestly it isn't a happy story in terms of the details. It's also not my story to tell. What I will say is that although we were caught completely off guard, no kids clothes, carseat, or bed/room for him, we are making the most of it and we're making it work!

I was able to take off of work on Friday to spend time with Mike and Toby, helping him get acquainted with our new house. The timing is quite amazing honestly. We had no idea something like this could/would happen when we decided to move and get a house, but it's almost like fate. We got the first phone call over a week and a half ago... just 2 days after we moved in. Since getting him on Friday we've bought (and built!) Toby a bed, in his very own room, and acquired lots of fun, educational toys and cute button-up shirts to match Dad's. He's 3! He's talking, trying to potty train, and he's basically a big kid now. It's incredible. 

We know we are able to provide him with a stable and caring environment, full of love and laughter. Lots of cuddles and bedtime stories, too. Trips to the zoo, museums, aquariums and the Adventure Science Center! We're going to be able to help him grow and learn, and basically mold him into a stellar member of society. Like I mentioned above, we're both elated and positively terrified... but this is our new life! I don't know the first thing about kids but step-momma mode has to kick in and make it work! We're really excited to see what the future holds for our little family!

Long gone are the solo coffee date nights Mike and I had daily, and the jetting off on random roadtrips for a week or more. Here come the sick days, naptimes, and endless changes of clothes thanks to little man's insatiable desire to wipe his mouth on his shirt sleeves. We're trading daily NCIS marathons for Power Rangers and Dora the Explorer (and currently on our tv: Toy Story 3). Kind of sounds like a fair trade to me! 

I didn't feel right not sharing this part of our lives on here simply because it is just that: our life. The biggest part of it. We're having to push some stuff around and give up a little free time and productivity, but he's our top priority. I apologize to everyone waiting to hear from me about blog designs and Honeybean designers... I promise they're coming! This sort of hit us all of a sudden and I still don't think we've quite caught up. The past 72 hours have been so totally crazy and exhausting. I guess we better get used to that!

With that being said, I'll be taking on slightly fewer design clients per month, simply so my clients are able to get the best experience and treatment possible. Every few minutes he's hungry or needs changing or wants to play with his blocks of flash cards... I can't help but step away and partake with him and Mike. I knew I really really wanted kids with Mike... and I won't lie, I've had baby fever for a while now! But the past few days have done nothing short of solidify that feeling... like we're the perfect team to raise a kid. I guess we'll hold off on baby makin' for a little bit, just to ensure Toby gets lots and lots of attention, and that we retain our sanity. But I know he'll make the very best big brother.

When sharing Toby in the past, I received a few not-so-nice comments saying things like "You'll never be his mother" and "You're not his step mom" etc. Whether Toby is my biological son or not, I will (and do) love him with every fiber of my being. I will always treat him just as if he were my own flesh and blood. Nothing will ever change that. I don't know what it's like for other people to all of a sudden come in possession of a 3 year old toddler, but I just know we're going to do the best we can. And that we're excited. That's really what he needs right now. (The best part? He's totally into us decorating his room in sharks! Thatta boy!) Whether he's with us for the next 15 years, 3 years, or 3 months... we're going to cherish every moment we have. I'm excited to share this new chapter of our lives with all of y'all. Thanks for sticking around <3

On The Hunt for Art! Suggestions?

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

We're really trying to work on finishing up our house, so it doesn't go months and months with bare walls and windows. It always seems like we run at full steam the first few days and then the energy tapers off and we're left with half-way done projects and lots of places to "fill in". We didn't have a lot of wall real estate at the loft (2 full walls of brick does that!) but now we have ample room for prints and posters and we want to brighten the place up with some color! All of our walls have neutral paint (a pretty beige and sage), so we need some pop of excitement. Susannah recently did a cool post about the art hanging in her living room, and we've been on the hunt for some great pieces to add over our mantle, in our bathroom, and all 3 bedrooms. 

I really love the idea of continuing our "Nashville/city" theme prints in the living room. We have 3 full size Anderson Design Group pieces that we have yet to hang. 1 of them commemorates the 2010 flood where we lost our house, and 1 is the 2011 anniversary of the flood. They're really beautiful pieces. We'd like to get our hands on the 3rd piece that goes with that set, but until then we've settled on another Nashville poster. (We love our city!) We also really love sharks and we've got something special planned for our back/third bedroom. 

So I've come to ask the all-knowing, best-design-eye readers around -- Who are some of your favorite illustrators or artists online? I'd love to take a peek and purchase some prints! Are you an artist/illustrator? If so, feel free to link me to your work! I'd really love to find someone to do some fun family portrait type stuff too!

We really want to make our house a home as we'd like to stay here as long as possible (I say that about everywhere!). Really the only thing lacking right now is character on the walls! I promise to share with y'all our picks and progress! We'd like to get varying sizes (4x6, 5x7, 8x10, and poster size (18x24 and even larger!)) to help collage some stuff together. I'd love to see what y'all could suggest! 

Just A Little Reminder...

Just a little reminder while we try to make it through this stressful day! xo

FunkOff! presents Little Chief Honeybee!

The past few months I've been working with the lovely Michelle and Chad of Funk Off! to produce a new limited edition scent called Little Chief Honeybee! If you know anything about Funk Off! (or Michelle and Chad!) you'll know it's a rad homemade (vegan) brand of scents and soaps hailing from Arizona. I've worked with the FO! crew before and they are total sweethearts. (Every time they send me a package, they send little pup treats for the girls! Ah!) When Michelle asked me if I'd be interested in taking part in this new project, I jumped at the chance. They've released one blogger feature scent already (Sometimes Sweet, after the always adorable Danielle!) and I was tickled pink to be the first distance-based blogger! 

What makes this project so super special is that a portion of the proceeds from each and every LCH item sold through FO! goes to benefit Oceana. If you read yesterday's post then you'll know I'm very passionate about sharks, our oceans, and conservation! It was totally inevitable that I'd pick that as my organization.
If you're curious what the LCH scent smells like, it's like... citrus infused flowers! There's an undeniable floral scent to it, but with a punch of orange and lemon, too! It's heavenly! I have the lotion, spray and soap and love love love them! A little spritz totally gives me a pep in my step (as I've become totally into perfume as of late!). Each item is only $7 so it's totally affordable, eco-friendly, and ocean-friendly, too!

CLICK HERE to check out Michelle's blog post about the collaboration, or HERE to shop the goodies on Etsy! You can find the items here: Soap, Body Spray, Lotion.

Every little bit counts when it comes to saving our oceans and it's creatures! If you decide to scoop some up, please let me know! The cause is very near and dear to me.

Mega thanks to Michelle + Chad for asking me to take part! It's been so fun to sample the scents and chat about how to make it more "Bee" ;) xo

11 Things

This morning I woke up to a @mention from the lovely Miss Danielle and was tagged for the "11 Things" meme. Normally I say thanks for being included and never really partake, but this one seemed fun and I didn't have anything else planned for the blog today so I said why not! Thanks for tagging me, Danielle!

There are five rules:
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them.

Let's go!

11 Random Things:
1. My absolute favorite cities in the world are Budapest and Amsterdam. I'd pack up my little family and move to central Europe in a heartbeat if I felt I could adequately learn the language. The architecture and story of Budapest is truly remarkable. And Amsterdam has the most beautiful canals, bridges, and row houses. 

2. I'm blind in my left eye, and I have been ever since I was a little bebe. I don't know what it's like to see out of both eyes so I just make the best of it! The hardest thing in the world: winged eyeliner! Gah, someone needs to come up with "The half-blind girl's guide to winged liner". Oh! And being up to bat in softball! My depth perception is a bit off haha! (But yes, I still have a driver's license and the only restriction I have is that I have to have both outside mirrors on my car. I have perfect vision in my right eye!)

3. Speaking of softball, going to the batting cages and go karts is my idea of the perfect date. I miss playing softball (and volleyball) every day. It'd be really fun to get in on a Jack and Jill league (my mom played up until she was pregnant with me!)

4. I cannot, for the life of me, say "Indianapolis" correctly on the first go unless I consciously think about it. I always pronounce it "Indiana-apolis".

5. Pickle-sickles are where it's at! If you don't know what that is, it's frozen pickle juice popsicles. Basically like sodium + vinegar in a frozen shape... and it's awesome. Susannah (and Mike) are making the most disgusting faces reading this, I just know it!

6. In high school I really really wanted to row crew for sport (just at an intramural/club level though). I think it's the ultimate sport/workout and it's just neat to watch.

7. I collect novelty salt and pepper shakers. This is kind of a new one, but I already have a ridiculous assortment. Ranging from stackable burgers, ice creams, giraffes, sharks and a plethora of mushrooms, I like anything cute or kitschy.

8. I was a tomboy for most of my life. The thought of wearing a dress disgusted me until I was a senior in high school, or maybe even college. I was a jeans + shirt kind of gal, but I wore mostly Hollister + Abercrombie type stuff (I know. Whoa.) One day I just decided to like dresses and that was that. Now I own one pair of jeans and basically zero shirts. It's all about the easy to manage dresses! (But for real -- My room was decorated in totally UT Vols stuff at one point... like, football. I wanted to play football. Sometimes I wonder if my frontal lobe was swapped in my sleep.)

9. My favorite author is Anna Maxted. She writes funny Brit-chick novels and I have every single one. I also love Sophie Kinsella of the Shopaholic Series (and more!). Please don't let the movie adaptation of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" ruin the series for you. They are seriously so much better in book form. (I know lighthearted fiction isn't the most noteworthy to be reading, but I guess it's better to read something as opposed to nothing!)

10. My first job was at the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee. It's a non-profit elephant refuge that provides sanctuary and 2,700 acres of land for sick and old elephants that have been confiscated or retired from circuses, zoos and private owners. I worked up in the office starting when I was 15 or 16 and stayed there for a year and a half (I think?). Delhi was my favorite ele and it was the most incredible experience working there. I would've rerouted my college plans to go to school for zoology, emphasis on pachyderms, if the sanctuary were anywhere other than my hometown. (You can check out more about the Sanctuary here, and even watch a live feed of the elephants! It's closed to the public though, so you can't go see them. There is a new Education center in town though!)

11. My second favorite animal is the Octopus. I started reading about them in the 6th grade and I think they're fascinating. They're so incredible intelligent, agile, and interesting. Did you know they have 3 hearts? And can squeeze through holes as tiny as a quarter? The only hard part of their body is their beak! (My absolute favorite animal is the Great White Shark of course!) 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Here are Danielle's 11 questions she tagged me for:
1. If money, schooling or time was no obstacle, what career would you choose?
Without a doubt: Marine Biology with an emphasis on Great White Sharks (or just sharks + rays (and maybe cephalopods, too!) in general). I'd love to work in the field, studying, tagging and documenting the migrating and mating patterns of Great Whites. So very little is known about them and they're in danger of extinction due to the finning of fishermen. I'd love to work in conservation.

2. What's the one thing you look forward to every day?
A bubble bath. Sounds silly, but it's a nice half hour break from the hustle and bustle, and I get to enjoy it all to myself. Candles, smelly good stuff and a book are the highlight of my evening.

3. What is your number one, all-time, favorite blog?
This one is hard... I'm going to say Susannah's because she's my best friend and I like to keep tabs on what she's doing since she lives 600 miles away! (Totes not creepy, right?!)

4. Biggest online pet peeve?
Passive aggression. Especially on Twitter. We're all guilty of it, I know, but I strive to not be "that girl" with the passive remarks and attitude. It just causes you to alienate yourself.

5. What is your all-time favorite book?
Getting Over it by Anna Maxted. Funny, but sincere, reading at it's best!

6. What would your "last meal" be?
Ooooh this is tough! It's a toss up between my mom's chocolate gravy + biscuits or Mike's brown rice + veggie skillet casserole (with an Olive Garden salad on the side!) and sweet tea. Home cookin' all the way! (You know, OG aside)

7. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I'm not sure. I don't think so, no. Maybe interest/infatuation/lust, but not love. However I've never experienced it so maybe it takes seeing to believe!

8. What would your ideal Sunday morning consist of?
Sleeping in just a little bit (since I get home from work around 3:45am), waking up to a fresh pot of coffee, and Mike's French toast. Lounging in our pjs to catch up on our week's worth of DVR recordings. 

9. Why do you blog?
Originally it was to share my adventures living in NYC with my family and friends, but it's since become a way for me to meet likeminded people and share my little piece of the world. It's fun!

10. If you had to choose one color to wear forever, what would you pick?
Oh man, I instantly want to say a blushy/peachy/light pink because it's my favorite color. I'm not quite sure it's the *most* flattering on me, but I don't think I could ever tire of it! As long as I could mix and match the fabrics... lace and chiffon, bring it on!

And here are my 11 questions for the gals I tag!
1. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
2. If you could teleport to any time and place, where would you go and why?
3. What are the three closest items to you right now?
4. If you had a spirit animal, what would it be?
5. What is your earliest childhood memory?
6. Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
7. Have you kept in touch with your childhood best friend(s)?
8. If you had to describe yourself in 5 words, what would they be?
9. Describe your idea of a perfect day: Where would you go, what would you do, who would you do it with?
10. What kind of "weird" foods do you like? (They could just be weird to your friends/family, kind of like my pickle sickles!)
11. Do you collect anything? If so, what? 

I tag: Susannah, Kate, Moorea, Mandy, Diana, Elycia, Beca and Kaylah! (and YOU if you're up for it!)

Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me! Happy Sunday!

February Sponsored Giveaway!

This month's sponsor giveaway is kind of a doozy! It's chock full of awesome store credits, gift cards and gift sets! Kinda wishing I could win! I'm so blessed to have so many wonderful, sweet, and talented sponsors each and every month, and this month is definitely no exception! I love getting to know these girls and I'm sure you will, too! Be sure to click through to their blogs and shops because you might just find some new favorites! Below you'll find that one lucky winner will walk away with $200 worth of goodies!

blog // shop // twitter // facebook

blog // shop // twitter // facebook

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

To enter to win, drop by the sponsors above then leave a comment below telling me your favorite piece in each of their shops (or something you like about their blog)(Be sure to leave your email or twitter name with your comment so I can contact you if you win! You can spell it out like kaelahbee at gmail dot com to avoid spam!) This is just one entry. Please include all 5 "favorites" in one comment!

If you'd like additional entries you can.... 
+ Follow the blogs above/leave a sweet comment (one entry per blog followed, up to 5!)
+ Follow the sponsors on Twitter (one per follow, up to 4!)

If you kept tally then you'll notice that is up to TEN entries! (I know, ridiculous) Please be sure all additional entries are in separate comments so they can be properly counted! Entries not left separately will not count, sorry! A winner will be drawn next week and contacted shortly thereafter! Good luck! xo

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Dead Hearts by Stars on Grooveshark

I had every intention of straightening my hair for this outfit post (or at least tempting to) but this is what my hair does naturally after it dries. I was in a timecrunch so I just went with it. I get asked to post straight hair a lot and while I actually hate wearing my hair straight, I thought I might give it another go. Soon... maybe. This dress has quickly become a favorite. The color is the best and the bow + sleeves + comfy silhouette are all fantastic. Once in a blue moon I'll find something at Forever 21 and actually be impressed. I've worn this outfit twice this week (hence the 2 different pairs of shoes above!) I wore it on Tuesday, though I didn't do much outside of the house aside from run errands because it was so yucky. The weather is the most fickle thing in the world lately. The other day it was absolutely frigid (and so wet!), but today was a sunny beautiful 74 degrees. My Blowfish Beams boots are a heaven send. I have them in brown, too, and love love love them. I've mentioned before that I have those big ol' softball calves so these are the perfect circumfrence for them. I normally miss out on all of the ~stylish boots but these are great. It's amazing that they don't make my outfit posts more often because I wear them anytime it's yucky outside! I don't have proper rainboots but these do more than enough to keep me dry and warm. (They're also over 50% off if you want to snag a pair!) The Nazine bow flats are a trusty ol' favorite of mine and I think I'll never tire of them. I finally wore mega holes in my Blowfish Senderson flats so I retired them for these! While on the topic of shoes, I recently got these bad boys in the mail (in red! so bright!) and I'm counting on more days like yesterday so I can wear them out and about! They are so comfortable! Hooray for Spring!

Anyway, I wore the second version of this outfit to get tattooed yesterday. We colored in my right shin (the girl). I head back next Thursday to color up the dude and I'm so excited to finish these pieces. I have so many more I need to squeeze in! -- Today is a pretty big day for me and Mike. I hope that next week brings some news that I can share about a family blessing so cross your fingers for us! It's one of the most exciting and terrifying things that we've ever had to face together! (It's a good thing, don't worry!) Happy weekend, y'all! I'm looking forward to it!

Forever 21 dress
Vera Wang leggings

PS; Do you love Stars or do you love Stars?! The song at the top of this post is definitely my favorite track from their The Five Ghosts album!

Things I Love Thursday

Happy Thursday, friends! This week is both flying by and creepin', as if that were even possible! I'm getting ready to saddle up and head over to the tattoo shop to have some color put on my shins! I've been putting off color since I started my shins back in September because I'm terrified that I won't like them, and the outlines are so pretty, but it'll be nice to wrap them up and move onto the next piece. Anyway, here's my lovely list of wonderful things! Extra long this week since last week's was so brief! xo

this gif! ♥

♥ this looks like the best breakfast in the world. ♥

this is our bed every night.

♥ this. i can't even... ♥

♥ this shirt. (i'm not the only person who despises nicholas cage, right? :P) ♥

♥ this made me chuckle just a little!

♥ these pretty lattes. ♥

♥ this is seriously what mike + i talk about daily ♥

♥ this pug kissy gif! ♥

♥ this is my life. ♥

♥ this is my favorite movie. ♥

♥ this oscar wilde quote. ♥

♥ this pretty vintage photo ♥

Other Awesome Things:

// I really love Dottie Angel's entire Flickr photostream. Seriously. Love.

// Beca and Doug of Tumbleweeds are having a Spring Pre-sale right now! Check out how you can save 20% on your favorite wooden sunnies! I love having such talented friends!

// Elyse never ceases to inspire me with her outfits! This one is no exception... except, well, my hips would never fit! haha Such a beautiful dress!

// You'd be surprised how much my hair is in a nappy top knot bun, so I love finding easy to do hair tutorials that make being "presentable" less of a hassle. Christen of Two Happy Hearts has two rad how-tos! Here's a Beehive Ponytail and a Messy Bun w/ headscarf!

// Amber of The Sofisticate blogged about some pretty unreal tights the other day! Oh my stars, they're neat!

// Roxy shared some Instagrams from her week spent snowboarding in Colorado. Check out the first picture! It's really really beautiful! I've never been snowboarding (or seen more than a couple inches of snow!) so I'd be kind of wonderstruck!

// Monika at Today I... is giving away a really pretty headband! The giveaway is open until the 26th and there's only 2 entries so far! Your chances are high to win if you head over and enter!

// Aileen is feeling a little under the weather right now (Get well soon, lady!) but she did recently share her birthday spent at Disneyland! Oh how I wish I could spend my birthday next month with Mickey and Minnie!

// Ever wondered what you might wear if you were to do a bellydance performance?! This rad pink-haired gal clues you in!

// Metallic gold sweater? Navy pants? Bright red socks? Leopard platforms? YES YES YES and YES! Virginie is basically the most adorable girl in the world.

// Charlie styled up a chambray shirtdress 5 different ways by tucking it into various skirts! The outcome is super adorable (all 5 ways!) and definitely different! 

// Can we talk about things I want in my closet now?! Ugh! THESE amazing leopard print SPIKY loafers! Swoon! -- These very very Flintstones shoes! -- This tartan BJ dress (+ I'd pair it with my tartan JC Litas, too. Just kidding. That's too tacky! Pfft. Yeah right.) -- A few perfumes to round out my vanity: Marc Jacobs Lola, Marc Jacobs Daisy, and Burberry Touch.

// And now some sweet eats: Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake (say that 5 times fast!) -- Orecchiette with Greens, Mozarella + Chickpeas! -- I have died and gone to sweet potato heaven with these Roasted Sweet Potato Skewers with a Cilantro-Jalapeno Aioli Dip. OMG. -- and everything about these Roasted Baby Spring Veggies looks duhhhhlish! 

// If you're feeling crafty: Make your own tiny envelopes (perfect for giftcards!) -- This upcycled furniture into kid's toys! Soooo cute! -- Felt food tutorials! Eep! -- and lastly, DIY Striped Drapes... these are especially gorgeous!

// Normally I would've posted this with the other recipes, but Kasey's cupcakes in a jar (with CARAMEL!) were entirely too good to group with something else! It's almost midnight right now and I think my hunger is showing... Oops!

// And Jacqueline made heart shaped three cheese RAVIOLI! Seriously, all things are better when in the shape of a heart. All things. 

// I meant to share these two weeks ago but Amy had some free Valentine's printables over on her blog! I say print them out and give them away year round! Love is too precious to save for one day! 

Is your brain blown by all of the awesome yet!?
What are you loving this week?

Reader Asks: Getting Into Design

I received a lot of questions on Twitter, in comments and email, in reply to yesterday's design post. I thought this morning would be a great way to touch base on a few of them and to fill you in on what I know (which isn't much!). 

I received several questions in the area of "How did you get into design?" and the answer for that one is simple, yet not short: I started blogging (on LiveJourmal, hayyy!) when I was 14. I spent a few years "customizing" my layouts and even moving my very basic HTML skills to MySpace. In 9th grade I took a basic HTML class at my high school and I already knew everything he was teaching. My teacher moved me to the Library to help work on the student Yearbook, even though you needed to be in 11th grade to do that. I was excited because it gave me an opportunity to branch out and learn more. For the next 4 years I basically lived and breathed that yearbook. I loved it. That's where I first learned InDesign (yeah... before CS2 or anything like that existed!) We had moved away from Quark and I was ecstatic to design almost half of the senior yearbook in 2006. I feel like you should know this though: my work was AWFUL! All capital letters awful! While it was "cute",  I put strokes (outlines) on EVERYTHING! Every piece of text had a stroke. Oh my stars. So embarrassing! Anyway, I went to college for Fashion Design + Merchandising to begin with, but after my first year of classes I wasn't feeling inspired. I woke up one summer morning, went to the administration building of my school, and switched majors. Just like that. I didn't give it any thought or reason, I just did it. Best decision ever. While I loved fashion design + all that it entailed, I had never felt so challenged and motivated by it like I did graphic design. I spent the next 3 and a half years making things I wasn't totally proud of, but I'm glad to have finally found my footing post graduation. While I do have a formal education and Bachelor's degree under my belt, I absolutely do not think you have to have a degree in order to be a brilliant designer. So many of my favorite designers are self taught people. You just have to have the drive to pursue it!

Another one asked in the comments was: "How did you get into freelance design?" As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I never thought I'd do well with freelance. I was always a procrastinator and if it was due tomorrow, I'd do it tomorrow haha That never helped me, by the way! A lot of people wonder how on earth you solicit clients and wrangle them in. Honestly, I don't do a whole lot of that. I think I'm really fortunate that my blog brings me a lot of my business so I don't have to cold call anyone or anything. This little blog has brought a lot of opportunities to me, not just work related, but people and places, too! I definitely wouldn't have the clientele that I do if it weren't for LCH!
An email from a sweet gal named Amanda said: "I want to do graphic design and go to college for it, but how do I know I'll enjoy it?" Answer: Honestly, there's no fool proof way to say you'll still enjoy it in college. Formal education changes a lot of things... You don't really learn at your own pace, and you don't get to choose your curriculum. Even if you do go to college for it, don't let that stop you from learning everything you can now! Even after college I'm still Googling things I don't know or have forgotten! There are so many resources out there at your disposal! You can also get a Lynda.com account if you are really hardcore into learning! YouTube videos, blog posts galore... you can theoretically teach yourself anything you want to know! As much as I loved fashion design, college made me not want to pursue a higher education degree for it. Don't stress... most people change their majors. It's life! It happens! Just take the classes you can and try to get a feel for it as early as possible!

Another email asks: "Where did you get your design style? Did it come naturally or has it changed over time?" Oh boy, it's changed! Has it ever! I can't even begin to tell you some of the fugly stuff I've dreamt up! My current designs still aren't world changing or award winning, but I really enjoy them. My aesthetic is very reflective of my personality. I've always wanted to design things I enjoy (that's the designer's dream!). I'm lucky enough that I can pick and choose clients and if their aesthetic is too far of a departure from mine then I just decide if I feel like I can still successfully pull it off. I will admit I've basically backed myself into a corner with my "style" and I kind of like it. I don't have any shortage of clients right now so I don't see any reason to go changing it! I think like everything else, aesthetic evolves with time. There are things I designed last year that I cringe when I see now. However -- at the end of the day, the customer is always right! If they want something and you think it's totally crazy but they won't budge, let them have it! Sometimes you have to pick and choose want to put your name on :) That's design for ya!

Someone asked: "Do I need certain programs to design things? Photoshop costs a lot of money and I can't afford it." I personally think Adobe Creative Suite is the best thing to have. It's the industry standard and I've honestly never used anything else. I don't know if you can get similar results with other programs or not so I can't say. I personally use Adobe CS5.5 and I think it was worth every penny. Yeah, it's super expensive, but I am able to accomplish so much more because of those programs. When it comes to blog layouts, I use Adobe Illustrator to build them, Photoshop to slice and tweak (I don't like the slice feature in Ai!), and DreamWeaver to construct and manually code them. It's not rocketscience, but it's not super simple either. There are a ton of video tutorials though, like I mentioned a few questions ago! If you want to be serious about design, definitely think about investing in an Adobe Creative Suite! There are also several package options through Adobe so check those out! 
A Tumblr ask was submitted that said: "I want to start designing blog layouts like you, but I don't know how to get any work. Do you have any suggestions?" Since I think blogging has been the best (free) advertising for me, I honestly suggest having your own blog. If you do, have a really cool layout that you've designed. This next advice is a little questionable among freelance designers so be sure to ere on the side of caution: Find some blogging friends and offer to do a layout for them. It's free advertising. Try and get some sort of compensation from them (even if it's someone with several hundred/thousand followers... the more eyes on your designs, the better) THEN -- please please please make sure you charge a fair amount! I'm constantly undercut by other designers because my prices are "too high". I still make less than half of what I should per layout with a BFA. I know my hourly worth and I definitely don't make it on blog commissions. Still, it's stable and fun work usually so I enjoy it. There are some people out there only charging $50 or $100 for an entire site redesign and to me, that's kind of crazy! Start off with a low, but fair, price, sure. But don't try to undercut everyone else just to land a job. It's not fair to other designers and all it does is hurt our industry! :) Build a portfolio, even if they're just mockups in Photoshop or Illustrator! Create a PDF portfolio and send it out to anyone who might be interested. The options are limitless!

And one final question: "Are you ever scared of the instability of being a freelance designer?" My answer: of course. I think harsh realities like that are things that need to always be kept in mind... even if it's in a far, back, distant corner of your mind! Freelance work is incredible fickle and it usually comes in waves. I could go months without any (be it my own personal choice or lack of interest among others) and then all of a sudden I have fifty emails a day about reserving a spot. I think it's a little bit different for people who don't have a steady source of clientele (like a blog), but I can't speak for them honestly! I also don't do solely design as my bread and butter. It's definitely up there, but I also bartend, run this blog, and a million and seven online shoppes (with two more in the works)! I have really really busy days, and then really lazy ones. I'm lucky to be doing something I love, but it doesn't come without the work, that's for sure!

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I think designing your own stuff (be it blog designs, business cards, or whatever) really helps you appreciate your achievements. I don't think it's for everyone though! There are many things in my life that would be fulfilling to do on my own, but I'd rather pay someone to do it (i.e: change the oil in my car, pressure wash the house, etc). There's no shame in outsourcing things that you're not crazy for, but if you are interested in doing your own design, I totally urge each and every one of you to get out there and learn what you can! You don't have to get crazy with HTML or CSS, or be the world's best photo manipulator! But if you have a sincere interest in something, don't wait until college to explore! Use your free time and learn everything you can! Then you can be the smartest one in the class! ;)

I think the biggest thing is that you should really love what you're doing. Love designing even if no one is paying you. Love designing things in your free time. Be passionate for the things you're creating!

Sorry for the giant walls of text, but I thought a post like this might be the slightest bit helpful to anyone looking to get into design themselves! It's a flooded market, without a doubt, but it can also be an exciting one to be in!

With that I want to ask, What are YOU passionate about? What makes you tick? I love hearing people's answers to this question!

Some Recent Blog Design Work

I don't share my design work on LCH all that often. I'm not sure why. It could be my shy tendencies or not feeling "on par" with others at times. I think we can be our own worst critics. But it's such a huge part of my day. It's easy to get the impression that all I do is sit home and blog all day, but 90% of my time is devoted to freelance design work and rounding up clients. If you would have told me 2 years ago (or 1 even!) if I'd be doing freelance 100% of the time, I would've scoffed aloud and kept on with my day. I've never felt like I had the drive to do freelance. One of my best gal pals, Elle, is one of the most hardworking, self-motivated people I know. I never felt like I could bring myself to do that. But I have. Even if only recently, I've started and ended my day with client emails and mock ups... and I'm kind of loving it. It's especially nice being in the new house in my office with all of this natural light. It makes me feel good and productive. Here's to hoping it lasts!

I figured I'd share a few blog designs I've launched recently. Some date back a few months (whoops!) but a lot of my workload has been identity packages + websites which aren't ready to share yet. In fact, even Grace's blog below will be getting a new makeover in the coming month. Still, here's a little glimpse into how I spend my days! (and maybe some fun new blogs to read!)
I absolutely loved designing this layout! It was "me" to a T! I love that Melanie and I have so very much in common when it comes to aesthetics. Peach + gold glitter!? Count me in! And scallops, too! I felt like I was channeling Honeybean the whole time and I want to paint everything gold! She was such a sweetheart, too. Would you believe me if I told you we knocked this entire design out in just a matter of hours? Seriously. I woke up and worked until it was ready to install just a few hours later. I love when that happens!
This is Susannah's new layout. You might remember the old one (HERE!)... well, that one will be making it's way to my new template shop I'll be opening up in the (very) near future (I hope!). Keep your eyes peeled if you'd like to snag it up for your blog! This time we went with a very Strawberry Banana Milkshake color palette and I love love love it. I did a simple background pattern and let the colors do the talking. Hope she likes it as much as I do!
This one was a departure from what I'm used to. I tend to surround myself with solid pastel colors, a air of feminimity, but I loved working on this with Nicole. The bright red + teal with the harsh charcoal + graffiti style type. It was really fun and I'm glad she was able to look paste the otherwise feminine nature of my "portfolio" when she hired me!
Oh Grace! She's become one of my favorite gals to talk to via the interweb and creating a bright and fun space for her blog was a pleasure! We'll be capping it off with something fresh and new soon, so pop on over and take a peek before it disappears! (She's the sweet gal who did the now famous Ron Swanson coffee mug!)
Another departure from my norm, but a fun black and white look with a bright bright pop of fuschia! Love! Kem is such a doll, too! She's way into rockabilly and I always pop over to her blog to see what fun pin-up stuff she's posting and all that jazz. Definitely worth a visit!

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My aesthetic is a strong in the sense that I like having the ability to design things I like. I was always scared of designing too much stuff that I hated when I was in college. I don't want to look back on what I've done and absolutely recoil in disgust, ya know? I do love simple, bold sets of color, and anything feminine, but I'm also eager to break out of that box and do some different things, too. I'm hoping to do a lot of simple two-color designs with handwritten/illustrated embellishments... even if that means I design it and put it in my shop! 

I'm excited to already have quite the waiting list for March, but if you're interested in booking a spot for late March or early April, feel free to shoot me an email (kaelahbee at gmail dot com) and we can chat about what I offer! I currently only offer a full redesign package for Blogger based blogs, but I also have an a la carte menu option for any platform! Off I go to work on this website! xo

Put A Bird On It

Another Monday, another start to my design week. Lots of exciting clients to still be working on since I didn't have a chance to finish them all before the move. I was hoping/planning on taking 2 or so weeks off from freelance work (aside from finishing up current projects) so I could work on the blog template shop I'm planning on launching, as well as some prints/graphics that I've been wanting to do for a bit. Things don't normally work out as planned, right? Just means I'll have to pull longer days/nights to get it all done! Plus we're narrowing down the Honeybean designer applications later today! If you applied, watch your inbox this week! Due to time restraints we'll only be responding to those we've chosen, but we urge everyone to apply each time we open up the submissions because we want to keep the inventory new and fresh! We've got a tentative re-opening date for March, but that just depends on the Nashville weather. Goodness knows it's fickle.

I had a look through all of the outfits I had left over from the loft and honestly, I hated them all. Don't you just hate days like that? I'm having one of those "I want to change everything" phases where I think life would be easier with my natural brown hair and it takes a bit more effort to do anything more than throw my hair up in a messy bun. I feel a lot better about myself and my productivity when I make it a priority to fix myself up a bit so here's to hoping I break the leggings-and-sweatshirt trend soon!

I've got some fun stuff to share this week so hopefully it'll be a good one! You can still snag a sponsor spot for March at the discounted rate if you're interested! See this post for more info. April XL spots are gone but you can sign up for May if interested xo

H&M dress
Target cardigan
Thrifted belt
Target tights
Thrifted shoes