One of our family’s favorite Houston restaurants is Coltivare. It always feels special when we go there. I even have a vivid and happy memory of Pace picking it for his 11th birthday dinner. While it’s been forever since we’ve actually eaten there, we have enjoyed their take out during Covid a few times. Their cauliflower with pine nuts and raisins is a family favorite. And our kiddos love their pasta and pizza, desserts and mocktails. Our youngest once asked our server if he could make a non-alcoholic drink for him similar to a Pina Colada. He did, and the next time we went to eat there, we saw the ‘Nada Colada’ on the menu, so we are pretty convinced that Brae totally invented it. Winky wink.

The chef and co-owner is Ryan Pera, who has received many well-deserved awards like the James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef in 2018. But what my kids care about most is that he greets them personally from the open kitchen when we walk in. He is just the nicest person. Needless to say, when Ryan asked me to create a coloring book for their restaurants, I thought it was so rad. He left it pretty open for me to do whatever I like, which is also rad when working with clients. His only huge requests were that it portray their care and intent in the farm-to-table journey of their food, and that it could be printed and/or copied easily on regular sized recycled paper. For me, I wanted to create something that could hold younger and a bit older kids’ attention. I wanted it to be both educational and witty. And I wanted to deliver an end product that was easy for the restaurant to integrate.

I love that they care enough to make coloring books for the many families that dine there. I also love how the design turned out and happily have received positive responses from the Coltivare team as well as actual customers. I hid all our family names in the word search on the back so it’s especially fun and funny when our friends are out to eat and send me photos of their kids finding our names unexpectedly and coloring in the ideas that started out as ideas floating around my head.

I’ve included photos here of the rough sketches because I think it’s neat to see how a job like this starts…a stack of plain paper, pencil sketches and ideas. Lots of time is spent in the beginning of a project just thinking and sketching. The creative process, whether it’s designing a coloring book or creating a new menu item with local veggies, starts with inspiration and many times develops with communal support.

Test your coloring skills out at Coltivare and the other Agricole restaurants.
Photography by Kennon Evett who I’ve luckily known for a million years.
Final illustrations by my sweet brother and talented artist, Brady Smith.


One day my little family of four was walking to the donut shop in our neighborhood, and the conversation turned to cars. A bright orange car drove by and my youngest kiddo, Brae, asked if you could paint your car any color you wanted to. As in: are there rules? So we told him no, that people paint their cars any color they like.

Then he and Pace started to watch every car that drove by and determined that most of them were gray or white or black or the occasional red. They talked about how both Wooch and I have white cars. Why on earth would they all be so plain when you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT!? Why is it that the popular colors for cars are neutrals? The conversation immediately made me feel old and boring. I mean if I were 8 years old, I would not pick white for the color of my car if I could literally choose any color in the world because there are no rules. They continued to talk about what they would want and settled on a rainbow car for our family of four imaginary world. Then wait, what if you had a rainbow FLAME car, like a Hot Wheels?! Wooch and I kept looking at each other smirking because we were both thinking the same thing. We sure can have a rainbow Hot Wheels car. So we planned and schemed and saved. I asked my dear friend Jimmy to do the flame graphic because he’s edgy like that and I knew he would nail it. We found a car wrap company, sent them the artwork and about a year after our donut walk conversation, I drove out of the garage in our very own rainbow Hot Wheels!

My car is 9 years old and not a race car, but STILL. It’s exactly what we talked about and it couldn’t have turned out better. I love it. It makes me so happy. But the part I didn’t expect is how much joy it brings to other people. Every time I drive down the street, there are kids pointing and smiling. I see people snapping photos. I feel like I want to be the nicest driver ever and never cut anyone off, but have you driven in Houston traffic?! Just kidding, people let me in when I want over on the freeway now! Friends call me to tell me they just saw me on the road. It’s definitely not discreet. I’ve been asked more than once if it is permanent, haha. It is a huge joy bringer, and I’m so happy we walked to get donuts that day. Something ordinary turned into something extraordinary. By letting our kiddos imaginations run wild they dreamed up something we didn’t know our own family or apparently complete strangers needed. It will permanently be a happy story in my head—even more permanent than those silly rainbow flames.

Photography by Rebecca Sanabria and car sweetly washed prior to shooting by Wooch and our kiddos.


“I really regret playing,” said no one ever. Here is where I will share a photo that could make me happy forever. If you’d like to see all of the photos in my PLAY, PLAY, PLAY series, click here.

{ We have a ridiculous amount of love for the family jump photo. }

Feliz miercoles everyone!
Photograph by Kennon Evett.

Holiday Collection 2020

Every year I post holiday photo cards that I have for sale and gently encourage friends to order them. This year it matters more than ever. We miss each other! We need to connect more than ever. We need to uplift each other more than ever.

Order the cards. Put on the stamps. Drop them in the mail. It helps me. It helps USPS. It helps your friends. It helps you. This year I’m yelling SPREAD THE JOY DAMMIT. Ahem. And thank you.

Click any design below and it will take you straight to the page where you can purchase via Tiny Prints or Shutterfly. Both sites offer discounts and deals each week… be on the lookout so you can save pennies and spread that joy.


To see all Tiny Prints designs in one place, click here.
To see all Shutterfly designs in one place, click here.


“I really regret playing,” said no one ever. Here is where I will share a photo that could make me happy forever. If you’d like to see all of the photos in my PLAY, PLAY, PLAY series, click here.

{ From a time when masks had a different meaning to us. }

Feliz lunes everyone!
Photograph by Rebecca Sanabria.