This is how I picture Portland: a cute girl delivering cupcakes to me on a bike with a puppy in the basket.

Photo: Portland Sunshine

Portlanders! I've checked it all out, re-arranged my schedule, consulted my tarot cards, and the stars are aligning on your mini-camp. It is HAPPENING!

Here are the details:

When: Thursday, Sept. 20, 10 am - 5 pm.*
Where: TBA (and I need help with this so if you own a beautiful art studio that holds 15, CALL ME.)
What: You'll learn the same things the regular campers do! (What's missing: the day of individual instruction.)
Class Size: 15
Cost: $350
Misc: Tuition includes lunch, snacks, and one of those cute neon goodie bags.

Sign up HERE!

*I am sorry it's a weekday, but that was all I could wrangle in time. And if none of you sign up, I'll know it's because of that and not because you don't like me OR my camp OR my stupid hand gestures. Right?


Whee, I am so excited! Y'all! Cupcakes! Birds! Bikes! Let's do the damn thing.

AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
7 CommentsPost a comment


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.


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.)

I think it may not be legal to talk about how much fun we had at this camp. San Francisco was the biggest class I've had to date, and I am proud to announce that I did not have even one little panic attack. In fact the bigger class was not so different than the littler ones, logistics-wise. And as you can see, we had a pretty big time.

Just look at them all! Having fun and learning things and whatnot. And how cute is Jordan's studio space? REAL CUTE. More pics and a recap coming soon!

PS, I'm here in San Francisco until the second camp this weekend, so if you have any recommendations on things I need to eat/drink/experience/see, let me know. Also the best place to take headless photos. Heh.


AuthorAB Chao
Categoriesdesign camp
15 CommentsPost a comment

Oh, hey, what are y'all doing? I'm just over here dusting my chandeliers*.

Just kidding. This picture is kind of old. However, it is a good metaphor for some activities I have going on. Something good. Something y'all are going to like. Something that will make you want to DEWIT, if you know what I am saying, and I think you do.

Anyway, let's all go have cocktails. Pick me up at five.

*Why does that sound dirty?

AuthorAB Chao
Categorieschao camp
4 CommentsPost a comment

It's Super Bowl weekend, and since a) I love the Saints, and b) Eli Manning hails from the great city of New Orleans, we are making a quintessentially NOLA cocktail: the Sazerac. Now, there are many ways to make a Sazzy -- the always reliable Gumbo Pages details several -- but I prefer the confusing and overly-complicated traditional method you see above. (This recipe heavily based on the recipe from GP.)

Come on, when is the next time you get to use two glasses to make one drink? Your six-pack of Miller Lite can't provide that kind of entertainment, people. So, go ahead: get your Rotel dip and chicken wings ready, then class that noise up with a deliciously complex New Orleans cocktail. DEWIT.

Happy Super Bowl! May your favorite team win, and may your Rotel be extra spicy.

PS. Thanks to the brilliant Mrs. Lilien for the Mr./Mrs. glasses, and for the design inspiration!

AuthorAB Chao
5 CommentsPost a comment

Internet, I have not done your Dewit. That's right, I ain't done did yer dew it. You're just going to have to wait until next week. But in the meantime, please enjoy these five things I have been excited about this week.

1. Sanderson's 50s fabric collection. Oh, I know. Now I can order the FANCY fabric. That is correct, I can -- and I am feeling a little smug about it.

I am working with an adorable couple who is using one of these in their house. I'm so excited. I'm so excited. I'm so scared.

2. New running shoes. Y'all, Nike is going to be so mad at me, since I've worn their shoes for nearly 3 years (when I started running). But, come on. Could you pass up a shoe whose name is so close to Beyonce's? I thought not. Brooks, I hope you do me right. I have a 5K next weekend in Austin with Miss Laura Mayes, and I've committed to the half-marathon in New Orleans with my huz, Eliza, and a person who refuses to be named at this time. Oh, also, if any of you has connections to Windsor Court in NOLA, please let me know, because we are currently paying 36 frillimillion dollars for our room.


3. Green Goddess Dressing. Y'all, it is so good! Make it. Make it now. Have it with a wedge of iceberg lettuce. No, I don't want to hear it. Just dewit. Ingredients:

½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 anchovy or 1/4 tsp anchovy paste
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot

Chop all up, stick in blender or food processor. Mix in olive oil if too thin.

I do not understand what is happening here with these carrots.

4. Atlantic-Pacific, with her adorable neon whatnots. Pity that scarf is vintage, or I would have snapped it up like a... thing that snaps. An alligator. A snapping turtle. Your mother.

I want her scarf, but she does look a little cold.

5. BIKES. It is finally, finally cool enough to ride bikes. I think the last time the temperature dipped below 80 it was April or something. Today, I rode my bike to the neighbors' house to supervise the picking up of some picket fencing (shout-out to Joey and Virginia!), and it was delightful.

I hope you have enjoyed this list I've made instead of writing a real blog entry. I am not lazy. No, YOU shut up.

AuthorAB Chao
11 CommentsPost a comment