Aug
21
2015
The Sound of My Mornings // A Few of My Favorite Podcasts

With school back in session, my mornings just got a little more chaotic and a lot more difficult. Why is it so hard to get out the door with young children? Is it just as difficult with girls as it is for boys, and is it difficult with most boys or just my boys? I haven't a clue... but I can tell you that where my little men are concerned, it is next to impossible to make it out of the house without being completely and utterly frustrated with one or both of them at least 1800 times. This is of course a mild exaggeration, but the circumstances are not and it leaves the potential for us to begin our day on something of a bad note, which is not my fave. Those of you who are expert in the mom guilt department like I am, can probably relate.

Blake is an early riser and so am I, which means that we don't have to worry about an alarm to wake us or having to get out of bed when all we really want to do is sleep. I would say these are likely the more common things that most kids and adults have to contend with each day, so realistically we should have that going for us. You would think that having plenty of time to wake up at your leisure and get ready for the day would be a great recipe for success and yet somehow it doesn't seem to be. So I started to think about what happens in the course of our mornings and where things tend to go awry. While I still don't completely understand my gorgeous babe, I did manage to come up with a few things that I know make him happy and energized so I set out to change the sound of our mornings and this gorgeous and smarty arty Aether Cone has been a major help.

The Sound of My Mornings // A Few of My Favorite Podcasts

While music may seem like an obvious choice for changing the mood of our mornings, it is helpful only to set the initial tone of things. After we hear some of the boys faves, which seem to revolve around Minecraft themed remakes at the moment, music seems to become a bit too exciting and keeps us from getting through our morning tasks in any kind of reasonable way... and so it's then that we switch gears and venture into the world of Podcasts. This has become the perfect way to get those wheels turning and keep their attention just enough to keep them from straying into the danger zone of crazy that is always lurking around every turn, but not so much that they aren't able to get fed, dressed, washed and out the door. Those of you with kids know what I mean...

These are some of my current faves to listen to with the boys //

STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS // I happen to love history, but it wasn't always so.. I think this is true for many kids and this podcast gives interesting tidbits about topics you never learned in school about the people and places you did. A great way to get your kiddos interested in subjects that might otherwise seem blah.

THIS AMERICAN LIFE // A weekly public radio show and a staple on our list of 'must listen' podcasts. From Investigations to Storytelling, this show never disappoints. The House on Loon Lake is wonderful and a great one to start with.

THE NAKED SCIENTISTS // The name alone is an attention grabber for my boys and the subjects are perfect for young kiddos who are serious thinkers. With topics like 'Do Dogs Understand People' and 'Does a Frozen Body Shatter', this is bound to teach you something new about the things you always wonder in your head but don't usually say out loud.

STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW // Exploring everything from Stonehenge to Earwax and what's the deal with crop circles.... Awesome!

RADIO LAB // A wildly diverse series of topics covered in a way that makes snake poop interesting to someone other than an 8 year old boy. Fascinating! My recent fave is Patient Zero

TED RADIO HOUR // I love to watch the TED Talks, and this is equally riveting even without the visual portion.

The Sound of My Mornings // A Few of My Favorite Podcasts

Once my day actually begins, which is usually after Blake is out the door for school, I like to listen to music or podcasts while I work and dabble at playing the role of Mama Bird. Since Penn still has a few more years before he starts to have an opinion on things like this, I can listen to some of the more adult podcasts when he is present - which I love. My days are so varied and might have me in the office, or a particular room that is the focus of one project or another, but the one thing that is constant is that I juggle many things at once - always. I love the fact that I can set a timer on the Aether Cone so that even if I am completely caught up in a project or a story, I won't forget about something I put in the oven and I don't have to stay within earshot of the kitchen to know when that something is finished. I even bring my Aether Cone in while I soak in the bath so I can listen in relative silence to whatever I want!

These are a few of my current faves //

THE MOTH // Wildly entertaining and I can't recommend this enough. With thousands of true stories told live in front of a live audience, ranging from emotional and heartfelt to wondrous and hysterical, all of them are entirely relatable and so completely interesting.

THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR // Brilliant and funny - this is done in the format of an old timey radio show and has different guests that you know and love become part of the show each week. Love.

SERIAL // If you didn't jump on the Serial bandwagon - you missed the boat my friends. Luckily the boat never actually left the dock so you can jump on board anytime you like and trust when I say - you should run not walk to your phone and search for this podcast. Compelling and will keep you hanging every step of the way. You will be sad when you get to the end... not to worry though it will be back with a new season this fall.

UNDISCLOSED // A continuation of the case covered in Serial and one I am just now checking out - this aims to be pretty interesting and for those of you who were left with emptiness after Serial, perhaps a great place to pick up the trail.

I have been dabbling with a few others, but I won't give you a report back on those just yet... What have you been listening too? Anything you love so very much?

I was provided with an Aether Cone as part of my maniacal plan to reign in these crazy children of mine... but all opinions and this new found obsession are entirely my own! Thank you cute people for tuning in and supporting the brands that help bring fresh new content like this to The Design Confidential.

Tech 
Kiddos 
Aug
14
2015

We are officially back in school around here and I don't know about you but am already mourning the death of summer vacation. When Blake is in school - I might as well be in school because it's a full time job getting him out the door and ready for each new day. While I don't have to sit in class all day, I do have a much busier schedule during the school year and I am finding myself in major need of some personal organization that will help me stay excited about each day... Otherwise you just might find me under the covers hiding from the world and everything I need to do.

This new line of products is giving me some major creative motivation and has my inner office supply hoarder going bananas for the simple beautiful style. Love.

I managed to grab one of these beauties the last time I was at Target... I haven't opened it yet, eek.

I absolutely love the bag I got for Christmas, and this one is a little less sporty but just as versatile with the option to carry it as a tote or a backpack. That is soooo helpful when you have your bag stuffed full and totally heavy.

I want this oh so badly, but that damn thing is way too pricey. I will probably get this one instead and then buy this to get the look for a lot less.

I need this... for so many reasons.

Pretty from beginning to end and filled with utter goodness in between. I never thought I would enjoy a book like this, ever - but it's my current fave!

Coming soon... and so so fabulous!

I have super dry sensitive skin so I adore oil based products for their amazing moisturizing ability and delicate cleanse. Besides doesn't love a little pick me up to their beauty regimen at the start of a new school year?

My fridge is a hot mess right now with all kinds of chaos stuck to the front and sides. These have me dreaming of a stress free and organized space.

If your summer has ended like mine has... you can still get a bit of that beachy look with this.

Tech 
Aug
06
2015
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

It think most of the time, the best way to truly get to know a place and see what it has to offer is to quite literally get outside, explore, and wander about on foot. This is especially true for iconic beauties like Big Sur. Many of the most beautiful scenic spots can only be reached on foot, and you will actually need to walk or hike a bit to see the really breathtaking gems. That's right... it isn't enough to simply pull off at a viewpoint and get a glimpse of the ocean as it meats the coast. No, you will have to work for it and punch the clock a bit in the exercise department, but I promise it will be more than worth it. As it turns out, many of the best spots have extremely easy and short paths, are relatively suitable for children, and some even have a path that is suitable for those in wheelchairs or who have trouble traversing uneven terrain.

The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

While the entire coast of California, from Oregon to Mexico, has amazing beauty and stunning vistas, it is frequently the stretch from Point Lobos to just south of Big Sur that is considered some of the most picturesque in all the land. You will see what I mean as we meander through my photos. Let me just say that my experience here left me thinking it's entirely possible this is one of the most beautiful places on earth - our very own little slice of tropical heaven - without being anywhere near the tropics. There is something to be said for that. The colors are mind blowing and the beauty is breathtaking and honestly this hardly does any justice to the reality. There are no words... but I will do my best to find a few that come close.

What I can do, however, is tell you that on my recent trip out there, I put in the time to find what I consider the most beautiful and iconic spots, in and around Big Sur - so that you don't have to and can rest assured you will get the most out of your time while you are visiting!

The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

MCWAY FALLS // Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Probably the most iconic Big Sur moment around. This beauty is the one you see in all the pictures showing Big Sur and is an absolute must on your jaunt through the area. Something to note is that the beach below McWay Falls is not accessible so while this spot is labeled as a must, you can leave your bathing suit and towels at home.

Trails // There are 3 trails that vary in distance and difficulty and all begin from one main trail head... or technically from the main parking lot for the park.

  • McWay Falls to Saddle Rock - This is the trail that leads to the famous McWay Falls and is the single most notorious vista in all of Big Sur. Round trip this trail is only about 3/4 of a mile, out and back, and is an easy hike that can be done in about 30 minutes. Whether you prefer to simply see the sights or actually hike and work up a sweat, this short trek is a must and can easily be tacked onto either of the other 2 trails.
  • McWay Canyon to Canyon Falls - This trail is inland through shaded forest and is also 3/4 of a mile and very easy with little elavation change. It would be great to combine this with the McWay Falls for a slightly longer hike with more varied scenery.
  • Ewoldsen Trail to Canyon Falls - This trail is for the more serious and experienced hiker with a total of 4.5 miles of moderate to strenious ground to cover and 1600 feet of elevation change. What a great way to work up a sweat and experience a grotto, double waterfall and of course can and should be combined with McWay Falls to round out your experience with views of the most pristine beach you will ever see.

Info // Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is 37.4 miles south of Carmel, along Highway 1. It's relatively easy to get to and while Highway 1 has some curvy sections that will have you hanging on for dear life, the drive is otherwise simple and can easily be made in around an hour from Monterey or Carmel if you aren't staying in Big Sur itself.

Tip // Go early, it gets crowded. While there is an actual parking lot to park in, the spaces are rather limited so they have a simple 'one out, one in' process that will have you waiting 5-15 minutes to participate in. We were there on a Saturday, mid-afternoon and following a holiday and even so, the wait was virtually painless - which is good considering that parking along Highway 1 would probably put me over the edge, so I consider this a worthwhile investment for $5 and 15 minutes of my time.

The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

I noticed a small campground near the picnic area of Saddle Rock. I am not entirely sure how to reserve those spots, but if you are the camping type... This is certainly a spot with views to die for.

The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

BIRD ROCK // Point Lobos State Reserve

This area is home to the other most photographed spot in the region and with good reason - as you will see. It also happens to have the one of the most gorgeous beaches - ever - and not only is it accessible, it's relatively quiet and will absolutely take your breath away. If tide pools and scuba diving are more your speed, this is a great spot to find exactly that.

Trails // As with our first stop along the tour of this area, this spot has 3 trails that vary in length and difficulty and the type of scenery you will encounter.

  • Bird Island Trail - This is the showstopper and you will want to add this short trek onto your overall hike if you choose to take another of the trails. Taking you past China Cove and down to Gibson Beach, this trail is one you should plan to spend a fair amount of time on, even though the actual walk itself takes only 30 minutes. Coming in at around .8 miles and having very easy terrain, the only thing you need to take into account is the moderately steep stairway leading down to Gibson Beach. Even this is well maintained and has an actual stairway with handrails so aside from having a great many steps, there isn't much to worry about.
  • South Plateau / Mound Meadow Loop - A 1.6 mile loop with easy terrain, this trail builds on the Bird Island Trail, so if you want a mix of showstopping scenery and a bit more of a hike than you get from the Bird Island Trail on it's own, this is a fabulous option. Just be sure to veer off the route for a short trek to hit up Gibson Beach before you continue on... it's entirely worth it!
  • South Island Trail - This path takes you in the opposite direction as the previous 2 trails, so it's worth tacking the Bird Island Trail onto this. Luckily you can do this coming or going since this trail is an easy 2 miles round trip that goes out and back rather than making a loop. This trail weaves past tide pools and Hidden Beach before making your turnabout at Sand Hill Cove to head back.

Info // The Point Lobos State Reserve is a mere 2.5 miles south of Carmel along Highway 1 and has a rather decent parking area at the far end of the Park. There is also a fair amount of roadside parking that won't put the fear of death into your mind if the park is full.

Tip // Go early, this park gets crowded by hikers and beach goers alike, not to mention it's proximity to Monterey and Carmel makes this a natural draw for locals and vacationers alike with it's easy access.

The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails
The Design Confidential Takes Big Sur // Best Scenic Hiking Trails

I hope you have a chance to experience this place. It might be the most beautiful place I have had the pleasure of visiting and should definitely be on your bucket list if it isn't already!

Design 
Kiddos 
Aug
03
2015
The Design Confidential Takes Sonoma for The Michael's Makers Summit

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a glimpse or two from a fabulous event I was lucky enough to attend in Sonoma last week. For those of you who aren't so familiar with California - this is the heart of wine country with a deep history, some of the world's finest wine, and views that are vast and stunning. It was only fitting that Michael's Craft Stores chose this place (seriously, you need to see this place!) to host the first ever Makers Summit and to celebrate the Maker Movement with 50 of the finest Maker Minds in the nation. I am honored to be a part of this group of bloggers and left this event with my heart full and feeling so inspired to tackle new projects that I have been wanting to try for a very long time.

If you are like me and have the need to create and stretch your skills in new and exciting ways, you are in luck because for most of August, all of you will get to experience the amazing craft classes we took while we were at the Summit. Watercolor, Weaving, Paper Flowers and Image Transfers (this last one has some particularly mind blowing techniques that I never knew about) all online to do at your leisure and all for FREE on Michaels.com until 8/22. This should give you a feel for the crazy amazing talent we were exposed to in beautiful wine country - spoiled rotten is what we were, that much is sure.

The Design Confidential Takes Sonoma for The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes Sonoma for The Michael's Makers Summit

If you are curious about all 50 of this year’s Makers (I know... 50?!?), you can check out each of our blogs and bios here! Follow along throughout the year and feel free to create projects with us by sharing on Instagram using #MadeWithMichaels

I wonder if you know which gal I am in this group photo above? I will give you a hint: I'm kneeling down but virtually in a row of my own! I hope these images inspire you to give these free Creativebug classes a try. I can't say enough about the talented gals who taught them. I will be brushing up on several of them throughout the month as well, since a couple of them are fairly advanced techniques and as it turns out I am not that great at watercolor - or paper flower making. Really it's more that I am not very good at wielding the flower tape. Eek, that stuff is sticky and tricky - not an easy combo!

The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit
The Design Confidential Takes The Michael's Makers Summit

Images by Rayan Turner for The Design Confidential / Michael's Craft Stores / Caitlin of The Merrythought / Shannon of Eat. Sleep. Make. (Thanks girls!) To see all the other recaps... check out the links below!

DIY 
Celebrate 
Jul
28
2015

How would you #spinthatstyle? Last month the fine folks from Porch + hayneedle.com asked me to put my personal spin on a living room space using the room below as inspiration and products from hayneedle.com. The inspiration space reads as Mid Century meets Neo-Traditional and has gorgeous architectural details, texture and fabulous modern touches throughout. It leans toward a relatively neutral color scheme with warm wood tones, shades of cream and gray, with black and white abstract art pieces, and an occasional pop of pink and gold in a few of the accessories.

By keeping the color scheme relatively neutral with minimal accent colors, the design for this space focuses on the materials and finishes of the pieces themselves and the furnishings remain simple with clean lines and solid colors.

My space lacks architectural detail of this nature, but there is no reason why a similar feel can't be achieved, regardless. Through the use of a color scheme that is slightly more bold and furnishings that provide a level of interest where the space itself would otherwise be lacking, I was able to put my personal spin on the inspiration style in a way that is decidedly more eclectic but entirely fitting to my personality.

To see where we started with this space, check out the living room portion in this article. It has essentially stayed exactly like that since I updated the art back in December of last year.

And now... It is decidedly more bold and absolutely more modern and I managed to keep many of my vintage pieces in this space since they are from a similar era as many of the details in the inspiration room. Yahoo for that, not to mention it's the only room where my boys don't maul everything on a daily basis, so it's a great place to put the pieces that I want to see, but that probably shouldn't be jumped on and crashed into.

All of the items in this space were things I already had, except for the items that I chose from Hayneedle to help bring a bit of the inspiration room into my room.

While my space is much less neutral and a lot more bold, I stayed true to the textural layers and basic colors along with a similar time period for my pieces in comparison to what is found in many of the inspiration room details. Using only a few new items, I transformed this room entirely and basically shopped my own home for the rest! This is certainly a testament to the fact that you don't need to spend like crazy and buy custom pieces to make changes that you love.

Naturally I had to up the ante where pattern is concerned since I wasn't working with that fabulous fireplace and wood paneling. All in all, I adore how this space turned out and I will be leaving it as is until the next time I need to rearrange things - if I'm lucky this won't be till the holidays... then again you just never know!

To see how this space was interpreted by my fabulous gal pals from the DIY Playbook and the Blissful Bee - check out the article One Room 3 Ways over on Porch! I love how different each space is and that each of us had an entirely different take on the inspiration space along with different pieces to work with as a jumping off point. These two things alone result in amazingly different outcomes and that is pretty fabulous!

This project was created in partnership with Porch and hayneedle.com. Thank you for supporting those folks who help bring fresh new content like this to The Design Confidential. I heart you guys!

Jul
21
2015
The Design Confidential Find Your Fire // The Possibilities Are Endless

I think it's safe to assume that most of you who hang with us here at TDC love yourselves a good furniture and home decor project. I think it's also safe to say that together we are mastering the art of making things from wood and that it's something of our 'go-to' when we build and create - at least this is the case for me. But... there is one element that I tend to be lacking here and where my maker skills tend to lag a bit, and that my friends is a great group of projects made from metal. Sure we churn out the occasional industrial pipe project here and there, and we add hardware to our furniture pieces to elevate those creations... but what if we could take that to the next level? What if we could round out the type of projects we do here and our skill sets to include working with this material in a more up close and personal kind of way? It would absolutely raise the bar for DIY and the possibilities seem endless from where I stand. There would be no furniture piece or accessory left unturned and the world would be our creative oyster... Well, that may be a slight exaggeration with an overdose of 'crazy dreamer thinking' thrown in for good measure. But seriously - wouldn't it be amaze if we could just throw together a metal shelf or whip out a brass planter or two like it was the easiest thing in the world? Yes, yes it would!

The Design Confidential Find Your Fire // The Possibilities Are Endless

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

From fine jewelry to fabulous furnishings, I feel pretty positive that there will be nothing out of reach for us in the world of DIY projects if we can just figure out how to add metal to the list of materials we can work with. To make this dream of mine a reality, I have partnered with Bernzomatic and will do my best to earn the title of Torch Bearer as I learn how to master the art of metalwork - and in the process I shall bring you a new DIY creation each and every month. Of course no project is complete without sharing all of the trials and tribulations I encounter along the way, and I guarantee there will be many. I hope you will join me as I learn, test, and torch my way to a whole new medium of creation. Because, I see no reason to stop at wood... do you?

By learning how to solder and braze, decor like you see above becomes completely possible to make with my own two hands. I can't wait to see where this leads and will be carrying the torch with pride alongside a group of creatives from many different professions. There are some foodies, outdoorsmen, and some renovating pros that I will be working alongside, and that is seriously rad. I suppose if the whole metalsmithing gig doesn't work out like I hope, I can learn to make a kick-ass crème brûlée and roast my marshmallows over the best damn campfire this side of the Mississippi! It's always good to have a backup plan, amiright? These things don't usually go as planned... but we shall see!

What say you? Will you embrace some metal based projects? Can we do this? Eek!

Image via // Layout created by Rayan Turner for The Design Confidential

This article was created in partnership with Bernzomatic and there will be many more to follow with my role as a Torch Bearer. Yahoo! Thank you for supporting the brands that help us get crafty and bring new content like this to The Design Confidential. As per the usual, all of this crazy mad rambling, dreaming and scheming are 100% my own.

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