Prepping for NOLA Camp, trying not to eat all of the chocolate croissants
Hello, hello. I've got a lot to talk about this fine Friday. It seems like this should be another three-day weekend, doesn't it? Let us make it so: everyone call in sick on Monday! If you get in trouble, blame it on me.
First item on the agenda: Camp News!
1. I am looking for an intern-slash-assistant to help me with the Austin Camp. The job is easy PA-type work -- picking up coffee, setting up lunch, opening champagne. You know, the usual. Plus, free camp! If you are interested, please email me with the subject line "Austin Intern."
2. Speaking of Austin, there are three spots left. I am just telling you. Oh, and a location has finally been chosen! Austin Design Camp will be held at Meredith Pardue's brand new art studio in Davenport Village. You may remember Meredith from such paintings as all of the ones in my house. I tried to make her be my intern, but she said she would be hospitalized for exhaustion at that time.
3. My two San Francisco camps have been a comedy of errors, what with cancellations, un-cancellations, people switching weekends to be with their friends who can only go on a certain date, pregnant ladies who might go into labor on their weekend, etc. The upshot is, there is now one (1!) spot left for the first SF weekend. The dates are July 21-22. So if you've been waiting to sign up, or waiting for an opening, here's your chance!
4. I have had lots of new signups in the past week thanks to some nice people on the internet, and I just want to say thank you, both to them and to those of you who have signed up, especially if you are new readers! I am super-excited about the remaining camps, and also, thank you for reading! (Quit laughing, Sars.)
Abruptly switching topics, let's discuss the Books I Am Taking to the Beach next week. I don't know if y'all know this about me, but I get excited for the beach kind of like a goldfish gets excited for...well, anything. I forget, then I remember, then I get excited all over again! This happens for approximately three months prior to the actual vacation. Anyway, I have lots of books on my iPad for the trip, but I like to have real live books in my hand for actual beach reading. Sand in your iPad is kind of uncomfortable. So these are the three I've chosen:
1. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I kind of like running, maybe you've heard? This book keeps coming up in nerdy running conversations with my fellow nerdy runners, so it is first up. Don't disappoint me, Murakami.
2. Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Duh. Everyone on the internet has read this one twice already, but I have WILLPOWER, y'all, and I SAVED IT so I would be GUARANTEED a fabulous beach book. You are welcome, Jenny Lawson. I know this is something you've dreamed about.
3. The Sociopath Next Door. You never know! Be prepared.
The book I am most excited about, really, is the one written by my friend Kelley Lilien. It is a book of COCKTAILS. It is formatted like a SWATCH BOOK. And it is beautiful and filled with fancy beach drinks and I will have them all. Mrs. Lilien's Cocktail Swatchbook, I will conquer you!
OK, so the last thing I want to talk about is something awesome that I am very excited to be a part of. The principal designer of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway here in Monroe asked me and several other designers to collaborate on decorating and styling the house before the tour begins next week. We each chose a room, and I will soon be the proud decorator of a guest bedroom in this really, really lovely house. It's been a huge honor to work on this project, and I can't wait to see the finished house. If you're a local, please stop by and check it out. And then buy a ticket! But try not to buy the winning ticket, because I kind of want to win. Thank you for your cooperation.
That's it, ladies and gentlemen. I'll be back next week with some exciting new content, including the bathroom I've been promising you for weeks now. Probably. If I don't call in sick Monday. Oh, don't get all mad, you're doing it too!
Our annual beach vacation begins exactly 12 days from now, so with that in mind, here's the Friday Over $500 version of all the things I like to have with me at the beach. Sand not included.
1. Norma Kamali swimsuit, $350. 2. Knockaround sunglasses, $16.* 3. Z Gallerie striped pavilion, $699. 4. Etro Caftan, $750. 5. Fruity beach drink, priceless. 6. Hermes Vinyl Kelly beach bag, $500. 7. Temps Des Reves Ice Cream Dreams silk scarf, $275. 8. K Jacques nubuck and calf hair sandals, $270.
*These are not even close to $500, but they are the perfect beach sunglasses. I urge you to get several for both yourself and your friends.
This is just a reminder for y'all of the bathroom in progress. No, I haven't FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT. We still have a few tiny finishes to take care of this weekend, and I'll post the final product next week. For now, please enjoy this terrible Instagram photo.
Oh, hello. Did you enjoy those testimonials? They are all totally real.
I do not even know how to start talking about my first Dewit Design Camp. There are so many things to talk about, and things I am afraid I will forget! The first thing you need to know is that my first camp was in New Orleans, my favorite place, the place we want to live in a few years. And secondly, you need to know that the awesome ladies who attended are all now my new best friends, ready to accept me into their adult ladies' marching dance team the minute the Chaos set up shop in NOLA.
Vince and I arrived a day early to make sure everything was in order (coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, champagne, etc.), to take delivery of rental tables and chairs, and to set up the space for Saturday morning. I don't know how I happened on the most perfect place ever to have a design camp, but I need to give a shout-out here to Caroline Ferguson, Architect and Person Extraordinaire, who let me use her beautiful office as a classroom. When I was in NOLA scouting locations -- unsuccessfully -- and crying in my car, I called her out of desperation (I had copied her number onto a receipt as a last resort). I left a crazy voicemail ("Hi, I am having a design camp in New Orleans, and I kind stalked your office from the street because it looked pretty? So, can I use it for the weekend?"), and Caroline -- who clearly has no regard for her own safety -- called me back. And while she allowed that my call WAS totally weird, she graciously listened and offered me her space and now we are getting married.
Y'all, are the bags + contents not the cutest? For that, we can thank Sydney from Baggu for her help and kindness, and Theresa from Twine and Tape, who not only put together the adorable tape, baker's twine, and mini clothespins for the Dewit Design Toolkits, but who ALSO donated the items for this first class. And to top it off, she's offering a 10% discount to readers who use the code ABCHAO for any order. Yay!
Meanwhile, back at camp: Saturday dawned rainy and dreary, contradicting every weather forecast I had read for weeks before. This caused me to have a series of hissy fit meltdowns involving my ugly hair, stupid flip-flops, and ridiculous long skirt dragging the wet ground. I was just a delight to be around for about thirty minutes there.
Fortunately, I had Eliza -- the human Xanax pill -- with me, and she distracted me with questions about things non-camp-or-rain-related ("Have you seen 'Girls' yet?" "Aren't you so excited about the beach in a few weeks?" "Did you know that the human head weighs ten pounds?"). Following a quick stop at the store (shout out to the Whole Foods on Magazine!) for flowers and juice, it was camp time.
I wanted campers to arrive and know that this weekend was going to be special and amazing, so obviously neon was involved. Also personalized camp pencils/schedules, and their own little flower vases. Oh, and jawbreakers. Jawbreakers are special.
Many of you have heard me talk about my husband Vince, but you've mostly just heard jokes Allison and I have made at his expense. I am here to tell you that I could not have pulled this thing off without him. Vince Chao was part production assistant, part muscle, part emergency technician, and all moral support this weekend.
He IS one in a billion. (Ha HA! I couldn't resist.)
After everyone had arrived and helped themselves to coffee and delicious pastries, it was time to begin. I started with introductions (mine, of course, and each camper gave their name, city of residence, and childhood best friend). I then launched into a long, long, long (but fun!) slide presentation featuring the things you see in the camp description here. The group was shy at first, but warmed up quickly and started participating and asking questions. (In retrospect, I probably could have served the champagne earlier.)
Above, the campers and I discussing things during the slide show. It was hard for us to concentrate with Sarah's fabulous orange shoes in the room.
I am pretty sure I'm trying to convince someone to do SOMETHING at this moment.
At several points during the presentation, there was some exciting hands-on learning. Here, we are talking about how to draw a layout to scale and I am obviously extolling the virtues of the furniture template. (The furniture template is awesome.)
Cupcake break! I guess cupcakes are now totes passé. That is fine, but I am unapologetic about these particular cupcakes: Sucré forever!
We learned some more stuff, then it was time for another hands-on activity. This time it was learning how to make one ugly grocery store bouquet into several adorable flower arrangements.
Everyone got REALLY into this project, and into styling the end result. It made me happy like I was their MOTHER at GRADUATION.
And as well I should have been -- look at this beauty that they made!
I then gave a little lesson on how to shoot interiors: wide shots, close shots, pro tips, and mistakes to avoid. Then I quick, quick showed how to style a vignette, because it was almost time to go.
We finished up the slideshow and Vince Chao served us the champagne he had been secretly icing for us. (I told you he was helpful.)
On Day 2, Sunday, we started with coffee, breakfast, and talking about the pictures that everyone had brought of their own homes. This part of camp was that thing that ends up being everyone's favorite, but you don't realize it until it happens. Seriously, we could have spent five more hours talking and collaborating on everybody's respective rooms. SO MUCH FUN. Check out these people actually paying attention to me like I have something important to say.
After camper house design collaboration fun times, it was time for lunch.
Did I mention we had lunch catered by St. James Cheese Co. on both days? Well, it's true. And it was a thing of beauty.
My sweet group. You never forget your first.
(This wasn't the end of camp: we attempted to go shopping, and when we discovered that all the places were closed for Mother's Day, ended up at Delachaise drinking $5 rosé. Priceless.)
Oh, look, here come a few more testimonials!*
Of course I'm kidding. But here are some actual quotes that are real, and make me real happy:
Dewit Design Camp is the sweetest, coolest, funnest, educationalest, most exciting thing I have ever done, and I am so grateful to all of my NOLA ladies who took a chance and signed up. I want you all to come! So DEWIT.
The next camp is in Austin at the very end of June. Details here. Love y'all!
*All testimonials created by Pamela Ribon, who thinks she is pretty funny.