Greenbuild 2013

November 21, 2013


Greenbuild 2013 is happening right now in Philadelphia, and I just had to take advantage of the nationwide sustainable conference since it was only a quick train ride away. I almost booked a ticket last year to GB2012 in San Francisco (after a happy hour of sustainable networking, of course – it’s how they get you). However, with the end of my thesis drawing near, I made the “adult” decision to skip it yet again. So yesterday was my first time to attend, and while I’ve followed through social media, blogs, and even local “Best of Greenbuild” events to get the skinny on the goings-on in previous years, I was really excited to be finally there myself. It was entirely overwhelming, of course. An Expo floor of almost 800 vendors, multiple educational lectures going on at once, and a steady stream of people throughout the day… so I decided to get myself together in a quiet room with others who seemed to have the same deer-in-head-lights-but-keeping-my-cool look. I sat my 7-month pregnant self down in the only non-conference chair in the room (a bright red Eames Womb chair) and heard the words of some great sustainable leaders of our time. Each presenter made the case for becoming a leader in a different way so convincingly, it was really quite powerful.


  • George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface (Flor‘s parent company), elaborated on finding strengths to propel you forward from Clifton’s StrengthFinder. His own strengths of positivity and WOO (winning others over) shined through with his commanding presence and optimistic view of actually liking your job. The audience was asked what their own strengths were and it made me think, How often do I give myself credit for my own strengths? My own value? I recently felt the familiar stab of devaluation after relating to this article, but George’s outlook was a swift kick in the pants to figure out the next chapter of action.
  • Jason Dunlop, Vice President at Big-D Signature, presided over an interactive presentation session about brand and promotion through telling stories. He presented various ways of capturing the attention of an audience, whether it be a cold email to a company or a newsletter to a customer base. We then formed groups to put the methods into practice. The most fun and thought-provoking was the Pixar Pitch, which I aim to utilize in nailing down my own elevator pitch. We also created a #twitpitch (origin here) and unique email subject lines to inform yet intrigue a reader for a hopeful response. I could say that this introduced a new level of anxiety to casual tweets and emails, but I will acquiesce to say that it challenged us all the more…
  • Finally, Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and author/editor of “Design Like You Give a Damn,” gave a casual yet stunning presentation of, essentially, grabbing the bull by the horns and just effing doing it (while concurrently presenting off the cuff when he realized he didn’t have a necessary computer cable). He openly talked about his own experiences – his naive yet driven start on international refugee architecture with the UN (inevitably the uber successful AFH), his project successes and failures, and his own mortality in the face of potentially dangerous situations worldwide. With an audience of emerging professionals, he was asked repeatedly, How can WE help NOW? His advice: call on someone bigger than you to get deeper involved, or lend whatever talent you have (big or small) to the cause, or start something on your own because you believe in it. Because that is exactly what he did – saw a crisis and responded. How often do we actually do that?

Overall, the lectures were incredibly informative and quite entertaining. Each presenter had a great sense of humor, too, which is something I always appreciate.

I should also confess that I am really at the conference to volunteer my time as an Emerging Professional at Greenbuild 2013. I want to share how the DVGBC’s local chapter committee had lifted me out of a rut and moved me forward in my career. But let’s save that for a bit later… the French press is empty and I’m off for another day!

 Final note: I was feeling so inspired to write this, that I woke up before the sun (and my husband and daughter) to make a pot of coffee and write this. For those who don’t know me, this is quite an amazing feat – the early rise and the punctual post. Kudos to George Bandy, Jason Dunlop, and Cameron Sinclair!

Photos: Instagram by Girls Can Tell | via Interface | via Big-D Signature | via TED

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Thank you, Dear Veterans

November 11, 2013

Sending a big thank you to all of our veterans today. My great-grandfathers, grandfathers, and several uncles have served our country proudly, including my late Uncle Andy. Here he is commemorating his father’s honor on Ie Shima Island in Okinawa, Japan. I’m quite grateful for people like him, defending our freedom.

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miLES: Pop-Up Done Right

October 22, 2013

If your neighborhood is anything like mine, empty storefronts have become the norm, city or suburb.

Enter miLES (“Made In the Lower East Side”).

Founder Eric Ho discovered that NYC’s lower east side had about 200 vacant storefronts and decided to do something about it. miLES has become a sort of “airbnb for storefronts” (Fast Company) for ease of dialogue between landlord and renter. Their recent (successful) Kickstarter campaign wrapped up funding for their Storefront Transformer, a modular kit that will provide flexible furnishings for temporary spaces.

mILES aims to temporarily breathe life into display windows, driving traffic into the space and giving entrepreneurs (and many more) a taste of space. With “pop-up” shops becoming more popular, the concept of temporary retail has become quite popular and exciting. Retail isn’t the only business to benefit, either. These vacant spaces could be occupied by eateries, artists, co-working spaces, shops for classes, or events. miLES also operates as a daily, weekly, or monthly installation space, giving even more flexibility to interested parties. Even landlords benefit from this exchange, as it drives potential buyers and provides some rent in the interim.

The Storefront Transformer incorporates the idea that design really can make things better. And just because they’ve reached their goal, that doesn’t mean it’s over. You can still fund the miLES project to enable even more pop-ups with more transformers. Check out all the awesome rewards: gifts, experiences, services, or even your own pop-up! Or stop by their upcoming shows this winter (below), if you’re in town.

If not, support it anyway. I think miLES could easily be adopted in other cities and towns. Businesses and individuals are given the opportunity to temporarily try on a store, promote their work, and develop a customer base, while enhancing the local community. Give this project legs and have it come to you.

All images from miLES Kickstarter campaign here.

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Building a Better Wardrobe

October 2, 2013

Clothing rack by Annaleena

I’m not great at receiving compliments, and if and when I’m applauded for my attire, I awkwardly make a comment about trying on several items before settling or, conversely, saying, “This old thing?” I should really be more confident, attributing my conciously-chosen wardrobe from years of actually paying attention to what I wear and how I shop. I used to collect magazine and catalog pages of favorite outfits, then file them in a binder stored in my closet. More recently I’ve been relying on my Pinterest board, “her style‘” for fashion advice. For special events, shopping trips, and lazy mornings, I log on to see what I’ve posted to help inform my decisions. I’ve often been able to assemble an outfit with what I already have, but never thought to put together without a visual reminder.

I’m also a pretty thrifty shopper and tend to stick to neutral-colored staples in my wardrobe. Not much room in my budget to buy latest fashion trends I can’t foresee wearing 3 days a week. However, by poring through pins, I’m able to admit that perhaps I could make a pair of bright colored pants work into my wardrobe, or perhaps invest more into a pair of shoes that will be a workhorse for my everyday attire. My cobalt blue pants did me well the last few seasons, my Clark’s desert boots were only ever replaced with cozy slippers during the cold weather, and Frye ballet flats are doing the work this spring and summer. I’ve even used it for hairstyle counseling, braving thick-cut bangs with curly hair for while. Overall, it’s given me confidence to invest in my style, and how to dress up and down pieces, adding value to each piece – how else would I be wearing a chiffon polka-dot skirt to the coffee shop one Sunday morning when I last wore it to a wedding?


I’ve been pinning on this board for over a year now and it’s interesting to see what I’m drawn to each season – what styles repeat themselves or how color palette changes. I think I could live in dolman tops, skinny pants, dresses, and cardigans (sort of “sexy grandma / grandpa”) and my style board will prove it.

So go pin and see for yourself. Your past-pinning self may reveal more than you think.

Note: I found this post floating in my draft folder from probably months ago! I’ve since started myself a “her maternity style” board to cope with this watermelon I seemed to have swallowed… 

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Schoolhouse Electric’s New Fall Collection

September 18, 2013


While the wonderful fall weather is giving me great joy, Schoolhouse Electric’s photos of their new fall campaign are making it even better. They’re crisp and bright and a little unexpected with polka dots and graphic art. It’s refreshing to see how they’ve easily infused a little more life in a season that, let’s face it, can recede into dark tones after a long run of summer’s bright and airy aesthetic.

What makes me most happy about these images is that I can see the spaces coasting through winter and into spring. Schoolhouse still manages to produce classics (mostly made in the USA and by artisans, which I love) that can carry not only through seasons, but through different functions and spaces. Take their Wire Framed Trash Bin – I would totally make this a planter. Here are some more favorites:

(Clockwise from top left: LET IT GO Wall Banner by Ashley Brown Durand, National Parks Print by Ello There, Black Dot Teapot, Miles Desk Lamp, Herringbone Rug (a collaboration with Tess Darrow of Egg Press), and Wire Frames Trash Bin)


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5 years

September 13, 2013

Today is my 5th wedding anniversary with this guy. He puts up with my crazy and I put up with his “good cop” parenting method, video games,  sports (?) so we complement each other in our mutual tolerance, er, love for one another. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Happy Anniversary, HT.

Love, your wife.

Photo by Doug Holton, 2008

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First day + more news

September 5, 2013

Lucy had her first day of school today, which means I had my first day of freedom in a while. While I miss the nugget, she was so excited to go back. She is in the same class with the same teachers and knows most of her classmates, so the familiarity is quite comforting. With all this child-free time, what shall I do you ask? While I’ve been doing some interior design – mostly CAD drafting for another firm, small project management, and Form +Function design development – I’ve been quite engrossed in my family’s coffee roastery. We will celebrate one year at our shop on October 20 and it’s growing in leaps and bounds! We are all excited and anxious since the business is still new and, of course, has growing pains. E-commerce, wholesale, open markets, oh my!

Speaking of growing pains…

We are having a boy! Or, as the ultrasound technician joked, possibly a girl with a third leg (I didn’t say it was a good joke). We are over the moon and quite excited to have a “rich man’s family,” as several people have congratulated us on (despite neither of us never having heard of the phrase). We feel rich, indeed, to be able to experience raising both a daughter and a son. We intended to only have two children so finding out the sex helped ease my nerves about what to expect. I still have no idea how to raise a boy, but we’re seemingly decent at raising a girl. I think we’ll do fine. Now the hard part… names! We have a few in mind but won’t know until we meet the fella.

My excitement has already led me to start filling up the nursery Pinterest board, and I have half a mind to conquer the mountain of girl clothes and toys I’ve hoarded in the attic. However, there’s always that tiny fear that the ultrasound was wrong (which happened to a friend), like finding out there was a twin hiding behind (which happened to an acquaintance). I’m due for another ultrasound in 12 weeks so we’ll see if anything changes. In the meantime, I’ll have to add this little guy to my list of clients because there isn’t much room for him in our home yet. Fortunately for me, this may lead to renovations including a better office

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A move or a baby?

August 5, 2013

Every year seems to bring a new accomplishment:

  • 2006 – Graduated from Drexel.
  • 2007 – Bought a house.
  • 2008 – Got married (then pregnant).
  • 2009 – Had the kid.
  • 2010 – Began grad school.
  • 2011 – Started a business.
  • 2012 – Graduated from Philadelphia University.
  • 2013 – Move or get pregnant?

The deal was that after I finished grad school, we would either move north or have another kid. We were undecided once the time came. Lucy had begun school in the fall of 2012 and my business relies on local, reliable vendors and sources. Moving would mean uprooting, but doing so later would be more difficult. After visiting friends in my husband’s hometown of Portsmouth, NH, we started looking for houses. This happens quite often when we visit because we are in love with the town. The housing market was quite dismal, as we expected, but something else occurred to us… we renovated our house ourselves. We ripped it down to studs and made it a home. To leave it behind and move somewhere we hadn’t poured our hearts into felt strange. That’s not to say we will never move. We could always get another fixer-upper (my husband is shaking his head as he reads this). However, we decided it wasn’t the right time to relocate so… baby it is!

In January 2014, we will welcome another little one into our home! We are all very excited here, and I’m hoping you won’t mind as I probably add a little more baby-related posts, tweets, and pins. Lucy is already picking names (Princess Barbie for a girl or Score for a boy) and planning for her role as a big sister (wearing my clothes? I don’t think she gets this part…). Tom and I are planning a potential renovation to best fit another human in this live/work/sleep place we call home. 5 and 1/2 months to go!

Portsmouth photo by Beaupre Photography

Pregnant photo from 2009, 7 months along with Lucy

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Proudly Made

July 8, 2013

Terrain’s blog, The Bulletin, features some great DIYs, recipes, and general eye candy. My favorite series has been Proudly Made, highlighting the passion and affection poured into these American-made brands and products. I only wish there were more posts! Stop over there sometime and see or yourself. Here are a few of my favorites:

Folk Fibers – Austin, TX 

Jacobsen Salt Co. – Netarts Bay, OR

Peg & Awl – Philadelphia, PA

All photos from Terrain’s original posts.

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A Rustic, French-Inspired Bridal Shower

May 21, 2013

A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a bridal shower for my sister-in-law Beth. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of weddings and all the hoopla that goes along with it, but I really wanted to help host a special and unique event for Beth. She’s helped me so much with watching Lucy and being a big sister when I needed one most. She’s literally one of the nicest people on the face of the earth. Seriously, like, all the time. It’s really annoying, but I love her anyway…

What started as a semi-potluck brunch somehow escalated into a French-themed cocktail party. Rightly so, I’ll admit, because Beth has always had a soft spot for la Paris ever since a trip post-high-school. Also, I’m pretty sure a cocktail party is what her extremely classy mother would have put together for either of her daughters’ bridal showers. So I pushed my sappy wedding critic aside, and pulled out my resources to help my fellow (five!) bridesmaids put together an event so very… Beth. It was fun yet elegant and the food exceeded my (already high) expectations. I just had to share the results.

In the wondrous age of social media, the five of us – hailing from New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida – were able to keep in touch throughout the preceding months. We kept a private Facebook page to keep in touch, share documents, and vote on menu items, craft ideas, etc. Pinterest was also quite handy to throw a bunch of ideas together and see what worked best.

With so many crafty ladies, I arranged a craft day where I literally pulled out any and every tidbit of ribbon, tissue, and paper to assemble a resourceful (aka free) arrangement of decor. Amidst tissue poufs and tassels to paper- and ribbon-wrapped glass vessels, we reminisced about our own weddings – the good and the bad. (Mine was definitely allowing my mother to “just pick up some flowers” for the church. I’m glad I have a sense of humor because multi-colored mums on a kelly green carpet might throw another bride into a fit of tears.) The arrangements were easy as pie to assemble before the event – a fellow bridesmaid and I cut fresh, local cherry blossoms and forsythia in bloom to fill the vessels, lemons gave a pop of yellow about the place, and I drew up some pretty labels to identify the French menu and cocktails.

The food was amazing! I was utterly impressed with not only the presentation and quality, but the custom menu so perfectly created. Justin Lingl from Root Catering Co. had spent time in rural France teaching English (and gathering culinary inspiration) so he was more than happy (and experienced) to craft a cocktail party menu for us. Baked goat cheese dip with handmade herb crackers, gougeres, crostini with olive and asparagus tapenades, veggie tartlets, and freshly broiled croque monsieurs and forestieres – each equally delicious. He paired the dishes with  French-inspired, yet crowd-friendly, cocktails (and mocktails) including a basil lemonade, mojito, and a few Kir Royale varieties.

For dessert, Justin recommended his friend Tish Smith, owner of Foam Floaterie, an ice-cream and soda shop in Philadelphia with delicious and experimental pairings of homemade goods. Despite my own fondness for ice cream and floats, she is quite adept with all manners of baking and suggested a more authentic French cookie platter – citrusy madeleines, meringues topped with chocolate and sea salt, and limoncello macaroons. With our bellies full of Root Catering’s savory dishes, I was surprised so many had room for dessert – those cookies flew off the plate so fast, I barely had time to snap a photo! The perfect end of the evening was a delivery of fresh brews from my family’s Harvest Coffee Roastery.

The shower was so nice and simple. We used what we had and put on a great show. Beth loved it so much, she’ll be borrowing some of the ideas for the wedding itself – handwritten flags and markers, simple arrangements in pretty glassware… I’ll be sure to share photos after the big day next month!

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