find: hotel domestique

by darraugh collins in ,

This South Carolina getaway is located in the beautiful countryside not from either Greenville or Asheville, at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The hotel is inspired by the travels of legendary cyclist George Hincapie, and features many opportunities for the active traveler including cycling, hiking, golf, and fishing. However, the beautiful location and great food on site, make relaxing an enviable endeavor as well. After all, you're in Traveler's Rest, South Carolina...aptly named.

Hotel Domestique
10 Road of Vines
Travelers Rest, SC 29690

*Images via Hotel Domestique, Gallivant, and Cool Hunting

find: dara artisans

by darraugh collins in

I love this online website for the obvious reason - the name! But Dan and Dara Brewster created a special concept where they source goods from artisans around the globe.

"The name DARA translates globally into "star" in Khmer,
"leader" in Turkish, "compassion" in Hebrew and "beautiful one" in Swah

There is certainly a wide price range on this website, but it is inspiring to see all the beautiful pieces.

on the road: louisville, kentucky

by darraugh collins in

It was early in 2014 when we headed to Louisville, Kentucky for the weekend - so, this is a late post. It was actually this article in AFAR magazine that inspired the trip. We had a good time and would love to go back, because we were there during a patch of bad weather and ended up leaving early so we could drive back to St. Louis before the storm hit. We did manage to hit some great spots before leaving, and spent most of our time in the East Market Street area of downtown, along with a couple stops in the Highlands neighborhood. We stayed in a Sheraton just across the bridge on the Indiana side, but there are plenty of neat hotels and Airbnbs in the area. Speaking of, the 21C Museum Hotel brand is based in Louisville, and their flagship location is on Main Street in downtown. I highly recommend visiting (or staying!) to see the gallery, and the bar and restaurant, Proof on Main, provide great food and atmosphere. They also have a great neighborhood guide on their website of places to eat, drink, and visit.

This area of downtown also has the Louisville Slugger Museum. It was already closed when we strolled by, but we peeked inside the factory where the bats are made.

The night we arrived, we hit up The Cellar on East Market Street for a cocktail, and then went upstairs to Decca to have a late bite to eat. This is a great restaurant where we chatted up the bartender, and downstairs is a happenin' lounge with live music. I was even happy to see Dark Horse beer from tiny Marshall, Michigan on the menu.

Sadly, two places we ate at and enjoyed have since closed, Taco Punk and La Coop Bistro. You have to stop at the charming, Please and Thank You bakery and coffee shop. Also, one of our favorite shops, Scout, was nearby. You can find neat jewelry, accessories, or home decor here. We really wanted to make it to Garage Bar for what must be really good pizza. Harvest and Edward Lee's Asian bbq and bourbon hot spot, Milkwood, were also on our must-try list.

We ventured over to the popular Highlands neighborhood so we could have breakfast at Gralehaus. This is a really neat place with a sister bar/restaurant, Holy Grale, located adjacent to it in an old church. Definitely go there for beer. If you're in the mood for a coffee shop, stop at Quills.

Our last stop was the Muhammad Ali Center, which is certainly worth seeing. There were lots of places we missed, and we'd love to do the Bourbon Trail. Any other recommendations you can share?

places I recommend:


read: "i thought it was just me...(but it isn't)" by brené brown

by darraugh collins in

This is Brené's first book, but I actually read it after The Gifts of Imperfection. I love how her books reflect her research and each successive book grows with knowledge and experience. You might think, "Why don't I just read her latest book? Won't that give me all I need to know?" Perhaps, in theory. But each of her books is filled with not only the research, but the stories. These are her personal stories, and those of whom she interviews for her research. These are key to understanding the message. You will also identify with many of them and realize you aren't alone; we're all in this together. 

I wanted to share just a couple of the themes from this book, and the first one is shame. She obviously talks about shame in all of her books, but here she lays the groundwork.

Sources of shame:

  • body image
  • career success
  • financial success

And when we feel shame from any of the above, we begin to feel fear, disconnection, and blame.

Feeling disconnected is feeling:

  • diminished
  • rejected
  • unworthy
  • reduced

We've all felt shame, and we've certainly felt disconnected. What's important to realize is that when we feel these things and don't identify it, we begin to display other behaviors that also negatively affect us. One of those is judgement. Oh yeah, we see a lot of this these days, thanks to the Internet. It's important to realize this:

"We judge others as a way to make ourselves feel better. Our need to judge others is motivated by our need to evaluate our own abilities, beliefs, and values."

With all of this judgement floating around, this world could use a lot more compassion. How would you rate yourself on a compassion scale?

Here's Brené on compassion:

"Compassion is a commitment and takes constant practice."

"Compassion is a relationship between becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."

"Knowing and accepting yourself first before we can know and accept others."

OK, the last important topic is about the difference empathy and sympathy. She says that empathy is about connection, and sympathy is about separation. Think about it for a minute. Remember a time when someone told you about a bad experience they had, whether it was a bad moment, bad day, or a horrible loss. Were you connected to them, or separated? Meaning, did you make a clear distinction between you and them by saying something like, "You poor thing, I can't imagine!". Can you see how this is drawing a clear line in the sand and indicating that you are over there, and I am over here? We can all learn something here, because we've all done it. As she says, it takes constant practice. To show true empathy, we need to put ourselves in that person's position, and stand beside them (literally, or figuratively) so that we truly connect. Otherwise, we'll be the person who just split our pants open, only to have someone say, "OH. MY. GAWD. That's AWFUL! That's NEVER happened to MEEEEE!!". And to you, that translates into:  "You're the only person in the entire world that has ever done that, you lard ass".

Yeah, doesn't feel good, does it?

Compassion. Connection. Empathy.


find: social print studio

by darraugh collins in

Earlier this year I discovered an app called Social Print Studio (also Print Studio). I heard you could get your Instagram photos printed and wanted to look into it. I love using Instagram and wanted a way to have keepsakes of photos I've taken. I've since ordered a few different products from them and have loved all of them, so I wanted to share this service with you. You can download the app onto your phone and do it all from there, or you can also go to their website and pull photos from your computer, so it doesn't just include Instagram photos, which is awesome. The prices are great and I love the quality.

This is the first thing I ordered. I love the size and paper quality of these square photos. There are lots of fun things you can do with these.

The minibook is a great way to keep all your photos from a holiday or specific trip. I ordered these for Bob's kids when they visited for Christmas, so they would have something to remind them of that time with their Dad. I've also ordered these as keepsakes for the weekend trips we've taken.

Ahhh...the magnets. These are super fun ways to decorate the fridge, magnetic board, or school locker. Our fridge is covered with these.

This is a smaller version of the original square. Pocket-size mementos that can be washi taped to a wall, or placed in a cute box to shuffle through when you're feeling nostalgic.

I haven't ordered a photo book yet, but I want to. These would make a great gift, as well.

The photostrips would make great mementos for yourself - or for friends. Hang 'em on the fridge, or string 'em up on the wall above your desk. Old school fun.

There are plenty more ways to display your cool photos in products they offer, so check 'em out. They're also hiring if you're looking for an opportunity with a growing company in San Francisco.

inspiration: brené brown x sleep, play, and meaningful work

by darraugh collins in ,

This is my last post from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. The book is SO good, and each of the different topics I've shared have been so valuable to me that I thought they might resonate with others.

These days we're in the business of "being busy". So many of us love to tell how much we work and how little sleep we get. Is it our fear of seeming unimportant? I have been wondering about this phenomenon and was happy when Brené addressed it in her book. She stated it perfectly when she said that "exhaustion is not a status symbol...and your productivity doesn't equal your self-worth". We need to find a way to cultivate sleep and play. Play is not an option. It is so vital to our health and well-being that eliminating it from our lives means we're allowing depression to find its way in. Getting enough high quality sleep has been proven to be a significant factor between those who develop dementia and Alzheimer's and those who do not. If you aren't sleeping enough and/or not sleeping well, it's time to figure out the cause. I see so many people on Facebook, particularly women, who complain of insomnia. Insomnia is a sign of something needing to be addressed in our bodies - often nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances are to blame. I saw a friend recently and asked what she had been up to. She said, "not much". This is a mom of two young children. She also said she'd had lunch with a friend and then took a nap. Right on! She didn't give me a laundry list of things and sigh heavily. She actually took a nap and admitted it! In order to be present for the people who need you, it's important to take care of yourself - and you need sleep and play in your life.

Finally, Brené talks about our desire for meaningful work, along with how we don't have to be defined by one career - we can have multiple careers, if we so chose. It's a different world today than it used to be. You don't graduate from college and work for one employer the rest of your life. Often, people are choosing to switch careers more than once. Our society is quick to want to place everyone in neat boxes, perfectly categorized - yet, we love to throw around terms like, "think outside the box". It's like the way we educate our children in this one-size-fits-all model, yet we know there are phenomenal differences between males and females.

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it...this world needs people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman

Brené suggests making a list of the work that inspires you, but also remember that you don't have to quit your day job to have meaningful work. If it's not appropriate in your life at this time to leave your job, you can have a side business, volunteer, or start a group of like minded individuals and have a mission you all are passionate about. Ask yourself, "what brings meaning to you?".

I'm someone with degrees in varying fields, and it's taken me a long time to realize I'm not meant to have one label my entire life. I will do different things in order to be fulfilled and achieve my goals - and that doesn't make me wishy washy or aimless. It means I'm curious, and life is short.

inspiration: brené brown x comparison, joy, and happiness

by darraugh collins in ,

I'm sure the majority of us have done it. Some of us probably do it more than others. You see your neighbor's new car, your friends' Instagram photos of their vacation, or your child's best friend's mom posts the latest professional family photographs on Facebook. And what do you (what do we) immediately start doing? Comparing. Sometimes, we let it slide right by us with hardly a glance, while other times it catches us in weak moment and overwhelms us. Our brain just needs some reprogramming in the form of perspective. This is one of my key learnings from Brené's book, The Gifts of Imperfection:

"Comparison is the thief of happiness".

We need to focus on being more joyful. When we are joyful, we are practicing gratitude. We need to know joy, because it's what will keep us going when times are tough.

"Joy is what happens when we recognize how good things are".

how to: homemade almond milk

by darraugh collins in

You can find tons of videos on YouTube about how to made homemade almond milk. They're all similar with slight variations. Is it necessary to make homemade almond milk? That depends. Most store bought milk contains added ingredients and preservatives. I had a tough time finding an organic unsweetened almond milk without carrageenan. Carageenan (read here) is a food additive that has come under scrutiny for being seemingly from natural sources - yet research has found it creates inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract that can contribute to a whole host of ailments. For me, it's best to avoid it, but the only brand I found without it was the 365 brand from Whole Foods - which is what we've been buying. What I discovered was that it doesn't necessarily save us money by making it homemade, but it is so simple and takes less than 10 minutes of active time, and you're getting the freshest, most natural milk. I also own a Vitamix, which I feel is essential to keeping this a simple task. Otherwise, it's easier to buy it.


  1. Soak 1 cup organic almonds for 8 hours or overnight
  2. Drain off liquid and place almonds in carafe of Vitamix (or high powered blender)
  3. Add 7 cups filtered water to carafe and puree until smooth
  4. Place a nut milk bag inside a large bowl and pour milk into bag
  5. Grasp onto bag and gently squeeze until all milk is strained from pulp
  6. Optional - add mineral salt, sweetener, vanilla bean or extract, to taste if desired
  7. Refrigerate and use within 5 days

You can use this milk to make my Chia Seed Pudding recipe, here. Mostly, I use it to make grab-n-go smoothies for the week.

inspiration: brené brown x creativity

by darraugh collins in ,

I wanted to continue sharing more from my "summer of Brené" as I feel she hits on so many important topics. Creativity is an important one to me, and I love how she states that there are only people who use their creativity and those who don't. She's a self-confessed "I'm not the creative type", who rarely engaged in creative activities until her research showed her that once-upon-a-time she derived great pleasure from them. She goes on to say that the only unique contribution we'll ever make will be the result of our own creativity.

"Creativity is not a luxury...or only something we do in our spare time."

As long as we're creating, we're cultivating meaning and expressing our originality. This doesn't have to mean anything to anyone other than us. Again, it goes back to the topic of vulnerability, and taking a risk - even a personal one - because too often we're so fearful that actually expressing our creativity opens us up to criticism that we absolutely refuse to engage in it at all. Her most meaningful advice regarding creativity for me was to be part of a group of like-minded and like-spirited people who share the same creative beliefs as I do. In other words, people who value the importance of creating, and aren't there to judge what I create. Very important.

Here's something I did recently...I found some vintage bark cloth and decided to make some pillow covers. Even more, I decided to stretch myself and figure out how to make them with zippers. I found a tutorial on Design*Sponge and braved the waters. At moments I wasn't sure what I might end up with, but it was extremely satisfying to do this - even if my sewing wasn't perfect.

Let's make a promise to ourselves to be creative whenever and wherever we can. And, it's no secret that I highly recommend her book, "The Gifts of Imperfection". What did you do to express your creativity today? I'd love to hear...

inspiration: a classic california midcentury home

by darraugh collins in , ,

The 1948 Laurel Canyon home of designer Rozae Nichols and her partner, Ian Murrough, is utter Midcentury eye candy. My love for small homes is further solidified when I see the simple, clean lines of this 1000 square foot redwood gem that has been thoughtfully curated with timeless pieces. Another great reason to live in a small space is that you can spend more on a few classic pieces and not break the budget. Live better with less is a great motto. Also, this home has nice outdoor living areas, which help make the home feel larger.

For more details about this space, please see the original Elle Decor article here.

find: stormy kromer

by darraugh collins in

On a recent trip to visit family in Michigan, I stopped at The Green Scene - a local shop featuring eco-friendly and organic products along with high quality American-made brands. One of those is Stormy Kromer - maker of the eponymous cap, and now outdoor wear. We thought the cap would make a great gift for Bob's stepfather, and ended up getting one for each of us as well! This Michigan-based company has a great story you can read about on their website. Here are some of their new fall items:

find: beeswax wraps

by darraugh collins in

I shared a link to these Bee's Wraps in a recent post where I talked about getting rid of all plastic storage containers and wrap, and replacing them with glass containers and these beeswax wraps. I bought a pack of three different sizes to try. They really do work, and I feel much better about using them to wrap food. They aren't meant for wrapping meat, so I'm still using parchment paper to wrap directly on the meat before placing in freezer bags. It requires some thinking to figure out how to safely care for food. I'm sure there are other solutions out there. I'm still exploring. Please share your ideas too! And please see Sarah's inspiring story about starting her beeswax company - and her sustainable life in Vermont.