I’m Christine Castro Hughes, a designer, writer, and mother of two darling children. I also run a graphic design studio out of my charming, crooked craftsman house. Brunch is my blog. More »
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7 things i did at alt summit

A week ago, I was in Salt Lake City for my third Alt Summit. And this time, there was snow! This would have been a lot more magical if I hadn't had to make the trek to and from the conference. Luckily, I had company. My friend and roommate Ez and I laughed a lot as we walked through freezing rain to the train stop each morning. It reminded me of my adventures during my semester in Paris, so as much as we complained through chattering teeth I kind of also loved it.

When I first got the email asking me if I'd speak on Work/Life Balance, I actually laughed out loud. I was feeling everything but balanced—in fact, things felt downright topsy turvy—so I hadn't the faintest idea how I was qualified to speak on topic.  

The truth is, I come from the "make it work" school of thought when it comes to life (especially since having kids). I know that some days I feel totally with it, and others I feel like I'm barely holding it together. It was such a relief and pleasure to speak with Michelle HuntKirsten Grove, and Morgan Shanahan, three smart ladies who could relate and were willing to share stories and tips.

My particular segment of the panel was the life part of the balance, and I covered topics like recreation and sleep. I plan on delving a lot deeper into that subject in the future, but for now, feel free to sneak a peek at the slideshow I created.

I shook many hands and exchanged tons of business cards. I made a concerted effort not to hide behind my iPhone snapping instagrams all day long, and it paid off. I met some fantastic new friends and hung out with some wonderful old ones. I even ran into a work colleague from my former life as a magazine company web producer. 

I'm sure you've seen the photos and tweets, and it's all true: There is pattern and color everywhere. You can't escape the beauty.

One of my favorite parts about Alt Summit is sitting in the Grand America lobby, digging into a plate of french fries. The french fries are pretty darned good, but the conversation that comes with it is usually even more delicious.

One of the highlights was hearing, and seeing, Stefan Sagmeister deliver the keynote. The Austrian born, New York based designer spoke about design, courage, and happiness. Among other things, he shared a 12-minute segment of his pet project, The Happy Film, which brought me to tears. I'm a sap.

While no proper naps were had, I was able to sleep in each morning and I did feel rejuvenated when I returned —if not physically, definitely creatively.


happy new year

Today, I bought some new markers for my on-the-go kid kit (aka stash of fun distractions for Maira & Henry while we're out and about). I relished tearing open the package and slipping each pen into my pouch. That one-or-two-minute task left me practically giddy.

It's not that a $4 pack of Crayolas is all that exciting. I think it's that they represented to me the promise of the small adventures we'll have and big messes we'll make together. 

A new year holds all kinds of promise, too. More art, more design, more friends, more neighbors, more good food, and good times. I'm excited to share it with you.



For the month of November, I participated in a challenge of gratitude. Nearly every day, I posted a photo on Instagram of something I was grateful for. Although I missed a day here and there, it was such a wonderful practice of slowing down and paying attention to all the goodness in my life. I hope to continue it as often as I can.


the darling guide to gift guides

I think I might love giving gifts more than receiving them. There's just something about finding the perfect thing for that particular person and presenting it in a pretty package. It makes me happy. Sometimes, I do need a little help with the search, and I'm so grateful for all the gift guides out there. Thanks to them, I've gotten a head start on my Christmas shopping.

Here's a list of gift guides by friends and favorites. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

Anthology Magazine // A special online issue of one of my favorite print mags filled with holiday gifts and home inspiration

A Subtle Revelry // A magazine devoted to "holiday merrymaking," which includes a product guide along with tons of DIYs

Brooklyn Bride // Not just for brides or grooms, this guide has a sweet selection of gift ideas

Creature Comforts // My friend Ez's lovely and perfectly curated guide that includes over 325 ideas

Design Conundrum // A gift guide that shines a light on art, one of my favorite gifts to give and receive

Design for Mankind // Erin's picks just scream creativity and personality (kind of like her)

Design*Sponge // Guides to ornaments, wrap, presents, and even a "no buy" gift guide

Dooce // Some of Heather's favorite things that you might like, too

Justina's Global Gift Guide // A selection of beautiful and unique gifts from around the world

Miel // A few ideas for writers and readers

Miss Moss // Beautiful gift guides arranged by color (the author is based in South Africa, so most of the products are not stateside, but it's still so nice to look at)

New York Times // Gifts under $25, under $250 or for the traveler

Note to Self // Sarah's gift guides reflect her classic and refined style

100 Layer Cake // Pretty guides for Her + Him

Say Yes to Hoboken // Favorites under $25 and ideas for kiddos compiled by Liz, who also happens to be a former Darling client (Also check out her fantastic Say Yes to a Handmade Holiday series)

To & From Magazine // 142 pages of gift guides curated by lots and lots of stylish bloggers



When my mom turned 37, she stopped aging. For the few birthdays following, I'd ask her how old she was and she'd tell me "37." My big brother who was no doubt fed up with my naivete finally sat me down one year and explained that it couldn't possibly be true. Mom wasn't 37 anymore.

Now I'm the one turning 37, and I kind of see where my mom was going with it.

This birthday is a special one, though. Not only do I get to celebrate my unbelievable life and good fortune, but I get to enjoy a feast and my family too. 

So happy birthday to me, and happy Thanksgiving to you. Let's go count our blessings and eat some pie.

Photo of me on my 6th or 7th birthday