A couple of weeks ago I left the comfort of sweltering Louisiana for lovely San Francisco, where I held TWO design camps on back-to-back weekends. Two. Two camps. You know what is a lot of camps? Two.

It wasn't that the camps themselves were hard -- on the contrary, they were both awesome. Amazing. An extraordinary person. It was that I was gone from home for thirteen days, which is about ten days too long for my taste. My dad's motto about fish and visitors going bad after 3 days also holds true for travellers, I'm afraid. Luckily, I had Maggie Mason on my side (literally: the girl shared her BED with me), and not only was she a lovely and gracious host, but if she got sick of me at any point, she did not let on. That girl is a keeper. (A keeper who snores.)

Also a keeper: the southern California weather I enjoyed my first week there. I know! In San Francisco! It was a sunny, glorious miracle.

Also ALSO a keeper: Jordan Ferney, whose gorgeous studio was camp headquarters, and who didn't even complain about keeping all my extra stuff there during the interim week. (Including a case of champagne, which I was hoping she'd mistake for sparkling water, get hammered on, and post Drunk Mormon photos all over the internet. Alas. Next time.)

One camper -- now my favorite camper ever -- brought ice cubes made of orange juice from her own yard for our Sunday morning mimosas. Good work, Cynthia. You're invited to all camps, forever.

Apparently I do this hand movement a lot. I only know this because sweet Victoria came in one Saturday to take pictures for me (the ones you're seeing here!), and I'm making this gesture in fully 99% of them. It obviously makes all the design knowledge I'm dropping sink in better.

See all the learning that is happening? I'm probably making the hand gesture. Or maybe I'm making this face:

Tell me you don't want to learn interior design from this person.

One of my Session One campers was Miss Lisa Congdon, who made me the painting you see above. It's my quote for what I think should be in every room, and she liked it. So she painted it and gave it to me, and then I cried. Lisa is super mean.

I made New Orleans-style iced coffee every day of camp, which involved many hijinks/shenanigans/etc, including my total overreaction to the fact that Blue Bottle wouldn't grind the coffee I bought from them. Y'all, I was so outraged. We Southern ladies are not used to people ignoring our charming accents, Blue Bottle was NOT HAVING IT, and I had maybe a little fit in the car afterwards. I'm sorry, Blue Bottle. I still love you and your delicious coffees.

Speaking of which, the iced coffee was so popular that I am thinking of doing a little video tutorial on how to make it. Vince Chao has offered to a) film it, and b) write some acoustic guitar backing music for it. Because every coffee tutorial needs an acoustic guitar soundtrack, AM I RIGHT?

If you come to camp you will learn how to make a houseful of adorable arrangements out of one bunch of supermarket flowers. See above.

The only known camp photograph of me where I'm not making The Gesture.

The flower and vignette-making tutorial often turns into a how-to-shoot-interiors lesson, and everyone gets really excited about their cameras.

One particularly perceptive camper from the first week mentioned that it would have been nice to have a fruit or vegetable somewhere in my snack plan. As if potato chips and burritos weren't enough, I am so sure. But she was right, because this basket of apples was quite a hit the second week. You live, you learn, you arrange apples in straight lines.

My campers are all adorable. Don't argue, you know it's true.

I also need to thank Maggie for her generous milk bottle/Mason jar donation. Camp would definitely not have been as cute without them. Also, Maggie, I'm sorry I told everyone you snore up there. I couldn't help myself.

Here is where I need to thank my fabulous and over-the-top-assisty interns, Traci (Week 1) and Hannah (Week 2). Those girls went so above that beyond wasn't even visible anymore. They tied ribbons on things, hauled ice, arranged sandwiches, went out for emergency popsicles, and served as all-around moral support during my more -- how shall I put this? -- NUTSO moments.

HAND GESTURE.

So, yay for San Francisco design camp! I had so much fun, and I hope everyone learned some good stuff. I know I did. I also know I'll be back as soon as possible, because San Francisco is my new favorite city.

Do YOU want to go to camp and have a person teach you design-y things while making wild hand gestures? You can! Seattle is up next, in September, and I am so excited about it. That one is unfortunately sold out*, but spots are still available in NYC, DC, and Chicago. So get on it, future amazing DIY designers! I would love to see you there. Especially if you bring orange juice ice cubes.

*PS. Speaking of Seattle, I'm only scheduled to be there for the weekend, but I have had several requests for Portland, and could maybe pull off a mini-camp there during the week. If anyone is into that, let me know, and I will try to make it happen! (This is mainly because I have never been to Portland and want to put a bird on something.)