Our Blog

laurenkellyandoliveRemember last week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviewee, Courtney from Kelly + Olive? This week’s interviewee is Lauren, Courtney’s partner-in-crime business. If you have been following their blog, you are probably as smitten with their design ideas as I am.

In fact, since both Lauren and Courtney live in Chicago(!!) there are all kinds of similarities between us beyond our creativity, love of design, and entrepreneurship. Not to mention I totally know what Lauren is talking about in her “love myself as I am” intention, below. Been there, done that. She’s totally right: if we can’t be satisfied during a Chicago summer, there is no hope for our lonely souls.

Enjoy her intentions and find your everyday happiness!

dive in.

i’m not sure how i ended up here. i moved to chicago from virginia, having only visited the city once…and that was after i had committed to the move. now i have a small business…which i had vaguely dreamed of, but never imagined i would have the guts to go through with. so how did all this happen…? generally i’m a cautious person…i don’t ride motorcycles, drink moonshine or pet strange dogs. so for these things…the big things, the things i know are right but are risky or frightening in some way, it seems best to just dive in. i can’t over think or i’ll talk myself out of a good thing. besides… once you’re in the water, you can make it work.

love myself as i am.

laurenlovemyselfsometimes, i look at old pictures and think…look how thin i was! and my hair looks awesome! i was so cute. now i’m just a mess. but starting tomorrow, i’m going to get it together! i’m going to get in shape! i’ll cook delicious organic homemade meals. i’ll start dressing like better and then i’ll be more popular…and successful…and happy!

now…i’m all about nostalgia for the past… and it’s important to be hopeful for the future, but really, at the time those pictures were taken…i probably thought i was the ugliest, fattest, loser around. and i’m not going to become a whole different person in a snap tomorrow. if i can’t appreciate what i have today… my body, whatever it’s flaws, the fact that i have a job and can feed myself even if it’s lean cuisine, a growing business, the city in the summertime…if i can’t find joy in those things and love myself as i am each day… i will never be satisfied.

everyday happiness.

shiny red toenails. soda in glass bottles. internet videos of cats doing hilarious things.  a windowsill herb garden. waking without an alarm.  ikea. cereal. singing show tunes while driving. colored tights. the way books smell. a good black rollerball pen. thrift stores. magazines. drinking beer while sitting in grass.

enjoy some silence.

there are entire days…weeks!…that i spend without a moment of silence. before i get out of bed, i turn on the radio… then it’s ipod on the train, music at work, tv at home.  i’m a bit of an npr junkie and a news nerd. oh…and lost! and gossip girl…hgtv and rachel maddow! how can i resist all this easily accessible entertainment! plus, a lot of times i use tv or radio noise as company. if i’m home alone, it feels better to have some noise buzzing around. but yesterday…i decided to eat dinner at the dining room table…in silence. the roommates weren’t home. no tv on. no radio. no magazines to flip through. i was feeling really stressed…frantic, fuzzy-brained and grumpy. i thought it might help. it’s funny how uncomfortable i was. i don’t remember the last time i did one thing at a time. in the end, it was really nice. i could totally space out and let my thoughts wander. after dinner, i felt totally relaxed. i did some laundry, worked out…did a bunch of kelly + olive work…usually i just lay on the couch with my laptop on my stomach and the tv in the background until it’s time to go to bed. so now i’ve decided…i will give myself 20 minutes when i get home from work of silence and nothing to turn off my brain for a while and recharge..

listen to my body…it’s talking.

eat when you’re hungry. sleep when you’re tired. why is that so hard?

keep in touch.

laruenandsistercourtney and i are still friends because we both suffer from the same minor social flaw…we are bad at keeping in touch. we went to two different colleges and we talked maybe 6 times in those 4 years. then, when we reunited…we picked right back up like it never happened.

that’s not fair though…it doesn’t work that way with most people i care about. my closest college pals…all live on the east coast. my parents…my little sister, who is about to burst she’s so pregnant right now…live on the east coast. if i want them as a part of my life, not as a part of my past but as part of every day…i need to be better about communication and contact. i want my forthcoming niece to know her aunt lauren…not just because she sends awesome presents…but because she’s an active part of her life. so people…if any of you are reading this, i hereby make this mid-year resolution…i will contact you on your birthday with more than a facebook message, i will call to chat more often than i will text. and who doesn’t love random mail! that’s what funny postcards are for!


charlottebluevneckstate st. large square necklace

First, let me apologize on behalf of Charlotte.

She has been absent the last few weeks from her usual spot on Wednesday mornings due to a short stint in rehab. It turns out her modeling debut, mentioned in her last appearance on Makeunder, launched her on a quick 15-minute tour of fame and fortune. Finding that life on the runway in Milan and Paris was not all sparkle and fun, she turned to drinking. With her petite frame, alcohol spelled disaster (the girl has no legs!). But luckily it did not take long for her to sober up and realize that Jess LC was where she belonged. We welcomed her back with open arms and we are leaving all Pinot Grigio out of her sight (which isn’t hard considering she has no eyes).

As for her new duds, these v-necks are soon to be my new summer uniform. I love the neckline and it looks great with my ever-present cardigans, which are a necessity in air conditioned buildings. For jewelry, I have been pairing my Grandma’s vintage “C” necklace (C for Carol, not Constable) with simple pieces for the State St. and Elm St. collections. The result is laid back but fills the “skin canvas” the deep V provides.

If I was to transition one of these tops for night, I would wear some large hoops or statement earrings and leave the neck bare.

charlotteblackvneckelm st. double leaf necklace

charlottenavyvneckstate st. large circle necklace

i need a blog reader, any suggestions?

April 28th, 2009   |   Life

orangeranunculasThe time has come! I have been thinking about getting a blog reader/RSS feed/something to hold all my daily reads in one simple spot. I tried Google Reader (attached to my email) but I wasn’t crazy about the overall look and layout of the reader. Is there any other, cleaner, simpler, or better readers I should think about?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

A long, long, long time ago (back in mid-March), Blair at Delight by Design had an awesome post about embellished necklines (photo below found there as well).

embellishedneckline

After looking at these gorgeous frocks, I thought, “I can do that.” And I made a mental note to buy a shirt and some buttons to recreate this expensive look for pennies. So off I went to Target to get a shirt (I didn’t like the necklines of my existing shirts for this project) and some buttons at Jo Ann’s. When I got started, I was pretty hesitant about the layout but stuck with a symmetrical pattern. The result is underwhelming to say the least. I have tried on the shirt and it just looks so… bare. I think the only hope for reviving this shirt is adding more buttons, but my motivation to head back to Jo Ann’s (which is far away) is waning.

Has anyone else had this kind of let-down after such high hopes for a creative project?

badcraftprojectGuess I should keep my day job and leave the clothing design to Kristin.

Side Note: In case someone looks at this photo and thinks “that’s not that bad, really.” It really is bad, the photo is just being kind.

juggling work and passion

April 27th, 2009   |   Business Advice

While discussing the blog and the business advice posts, one reader mentioned that her full-time job makes it difficult to find time to follow her passion (writing). At first, I didn’t think I shared the “work vs. passion” struggle. I work for myself and choose my hours. But as I invest more time and energy towards MakunderMyLife I am still responsible for running Jess LC, which has meant longer hours and less pay. It has created a transition in my life from jewelry designer to jewelry designer and blogger which has been anything but easy. Therefore, I realized we are really in the same boat, we both are looking for advice and encouragement to continue on this “work and passion” journey.

Today, I found a little video of sunshine (or a cold splash of water, however you want to look at it) for all of us trying to walk both lines. I first wrote about Vaynerchuk’s really long and awesome speech here over the weekend about his success. His video above is only 3 minutes long, but he pretty much sums up what it really takes to juggle both work and purpose for many people. Sure, it may not be an exciting shortcut or “secret sauce,” but I think it’s closer to reality than many of us I would like to think. So in that way it is also a high-five, a cheer to keep working, and moving forward.

One step at a time.

PS- I don’t think I could give up LOST.

cheesecake cupcakes

April 27th, 2009   |   Food

cheesecakecupcakesWhat a great weekend! Despite the erratic Chicago weather, I managed to get my long run completed with my running buddy, Bernard, on a windy 80* Friday and help observe Erwin assemble his bike (shipped from Michigan) on Saturday. We stayed home on Saturday night (recovering from Friday night’s antics) and watched The Namesake. Anyone seen it? 48 hours later I am still not sure what I think of it. On Sunday while dodging rain showers every 20 minutes, I managed to show the newest Jess LC collection, Astor St., to Spare Parts on Broadway. They are the first store to see the collection… and they loved it! The big reveal online will take place on Friday, so stay tuned.

Anyways, back to the point of this post: cheesecake. I love cheesecake. And I love my good friend, Amy. So combining the two last Thursday for my ‘treat of the week’ was extra special. I found the recipe via Food Gawker which lead me to One Ordinary Day’s Mini Tie-Dyed Cheesecakes. Though the food coloring looked fun, it reminded me a bit too much of the “Garcia” Beanie Baby from middle school, so we left the cake au naturale. The result was delicious. As you can see, I was so excited to eat the little guy that I forgot to take a photo pre-bite. It was worth it.

cheesecakeingredients

Tie Dyed Cheesecake

From One Ordinary Day

Cookie Crust

  • 3/4 c. vanilla wafers, crushed into fine crumbs in food processor (photo below)
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 – 2 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter (enough to bring cookie crumbs and sugar together)

Cheesecake Filling

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract (we skipped this)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • food coloring (we skipped this)

Sour Cream Topping

  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine cookie crumbs and sugar and add enough melted butter to bring mixture together.  Press a spoonful into the bottom of each muffin liner.  Bake for 5-6 minutes or until just golden.  Remove from oven to cool while you make the filling.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add sour cream.  Divide filling into 4 bowls and add desired amount of food coloring to each bowl to give you 4 different colors of batter.  Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie crust in muffin liners.  You can use a toothpick to swirl the colors together or just leave them in dollops.  Do not over swirl or the colors will combine.  Tap the tin on the counter top to make sure the filling spreads to the sides.  Return to 350 degree oven and bake until center is almost set but still jiggling a little.  Start checking at 15 minutes.  They will bake between 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your muffin tin and varying oven temps.

Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small bowl.  Spread over surface of warm cheesecakes and return to oven for about 5-6 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  Chill.

cheesecakefoodprocessorWhile Amy “processed” our vanilla wafers, I proceeded to eat about 26 wafers dipped in cream cheese. It was deceptively awesome.

cheesecakecupcakes

Though I am not normally a “crust person,” this recipe was one of my favorites.

From reading your comments on the Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED speech, it seems many of you (like me) feed off the inspirational stories. Hearing people like Gilbert and Gary Vaynerchuk talk about their path to some pretty incredible accomplishments keeps me pumped. Without a boss or mentor, I “soak” in these speeches for guidance. And as I come across stories in the future that really get me excited I will share them here (most likely on the weekends).

The speech above by Gary Vaynerchuk is looong. Over an hour. Regardless of that, this week I listened to it three times(!) and still could replay it once more for good measure. Vaynerchuk is as he calls it a “triple-C list celebrity” and the woman introducing him referred to him as the “Internet Oprah.” He earned his pseudo-celebrity from his popular Wine Library TV video blog. On top of that, his company has seen incredible growth and he has more energy than a Jack Russell on Red Bull.

So if you are in need of a serious pep talk or a jolt of caffeine: watch his speech. If you are looking forward to a leisurely Saturday afternoon, skip the video and watch it on Monday.

Whew! What a surge of new exfoliations this week! Scroll below to hear about the items people across the country are divesting in the name of order and intention. I think opening up end of the week exfoliations all week long for the giveaway giveaway really helped increase the participation.

Got an exfoliation for next week? Don’t be shy, send me (jess@jesslc.com) a picture, a short description, and a link to your blog/site and it will get posted that Friday.

brookeblankie“Over Easter I was helping my mom tie a quilt for my nephew. It spurred some discussion about how I LOVED my “blankie” when I was little and would drag it with me everywhere. When my blankie had seen it’s final day, I wouldn’t let my mom throw it away {that was far too painful a thought} but I would let her box it up and put it away {in exchange for a NEW blankie, mind you.}. She remembered that she still had it, so we took it out, had a giggle, and tossed it. That thing was so paper thin, it was practically disintegrating. That was my End of the Week Exfoliation; a good memory and some freed up closet room.”

- Brooke

erwinwatch“I’m getting rid of my watch because having four of them is completely unnecessary. Sorry mom.”

- Erwin

evastapler“Let me begin by saying that I LOVE office supplies!  BUT this is just ridiculous!  Why I need a 100 page stapler is beyond me … and therefore it’s time to let go!  It was passed on to me from a co-worker and being the office supply lover that I am I quickly adopted it into my cube.  In my exfoliation high from last week I decided to expand the exfoliation goodness to the office and thought this was a great candidate.  I have donated the stapler to the copy room.  After all it is company property so I would feel bad donating it outside of the company.  Adios stapler!”

- Eva

kristinrunningshirt“I received this shirt my sophomore year in college as a new pledge to Gamma Phi Beta. I deactivated from the sorority my senior year but for some reason have kept this as a long sleeve for running (at least that’s what I told myself) but honestly its a bit short and I never wear it.”

- Kristin

timbike“I’d purchased this bike over a year ago for $75. Lately, I’d been neglecting maintenance on the bike, knowing I was ready for a change. The back brake wasn’t functioning properly and the gear shift was similarly acting up. It culminated last Friday afternoon when I dented a rim and blew a tire doing some extreme urban biking (that’s code for dodging Chicago potholes). As I was enjoying a piece of pie at Noble Tree, the thought came to me: “I’m going to exfoliate that bike.” When I walked outside to leave, I simply pulled off the bike lock, leaving the bike on a busy sidewalk in Chicago. Normally, I wouldn’t simply abandon something like that. But as anyone who lives in an urban environment knows, the bike probably lasted a matter of minutes before a bike repair junkie spotted it and claimed it for their own. As for me, I took the bus home and two days later I trekked out to Schaumburg and picked up this beauty. Bike riding has never been more fun.”

- Tim

exfoliationfrozenfoodMy exfoliation this week is long over due expired. I know frozen things don’t really spoil but these items are all circa October 2008 and the chance that I will actually eat them is small nonexistent. Out they go.

courtneypictureOn Monday I was wandering around the blog neighborhood and I stumbled upon Kelly + Olive via a link on Joanna’s Cup of Jo. In 3.2 seconds I realized the following:

  1. Courtney and Lauren’s site is adorable and they live in Chicago(!!).
  2. They have really reasonable and practical interior design packages and a great blog where they have neat DIY ideas.
  3. I want to be their friend (while being as not-creepy as possible for only knowing someone for 3.2 seconds).
  4. They would be perfect to interview for DESIGN YOUR LIFE.

Below are Courtney’s intentions (Lauren’s come next week). As you will see she has a great perspective on life and the most adorable little Frenchie that I may steal if I ever have the pleasure of meeting her.

On second thought, that’s probably not a good idea if I really intend for #3 (above) to actually happen.

courtneyfriendbe yourself.

i am not a natural at this.  i work on it, daily.  through my blog, and through my design work.  from the things that i spend my time doing to what i put on my body, i’m always asking, is this me?  am i being influenced by something right now?  and it’s hard, because sometimes you’ll choose something and someone you care about won’t like it, and you have to be okay with that, and stand your ground.  i have to know that my perspective, my voice, my taste, is valuable, if only to me.

courtneydogremember the little things that make me happy.

folded laundry.  big gulps, just when you need them.  white paint.  things i have that members of my family have made, just for me.  home.  my french bulldog, lola.  a thank you from a client.  homemade bread.  an undiscovered thrift store.  sometimes it’s good just to make a list and pull it out when you need it.

everything will be ok.

starting k + o was and still is a big risk.  but we were open to it, and i feel like, as wooey as it sounds, we ordered the pie, and the universe is delivering.  personally, i struggle with depression, and that can make EVERYTHING seem like a mountain i have to climb.  i repeat this like a mantra.  i write it on a sticky note and put it by my computer.  and it helps.

courtneychairhunt for treasure.

even if you can’t afford to buy, sometimes “shopping” is the best medicine.  about once a week i take a couple of hours and go somewhere to look at stuff.  doesn’t matter where.  sometimes i’ll go to target, or a pretty park, a thrift store, a farmer’s market, even just to trader joe’s.  i go by myself and i just look and take it all in.  it helps me clear out the cobwebs.  i get inspired by beautiful packaging, or the colors of the leaves.  i always come back feeling better.

cut it out.

if it’s unnecessary, if it is more work than it needs to be, if it pushes your buttons, if it’s ugly, if it, in any way, falls into the category of DO NOT LIKE:  get rid of it.  cut it out.  life is too stressful to be dealing with those tiny little things that make it all seem that much worse.  sometimes you have to wait for the right moment to streamline your client tracking system or replace the stained couch, but when you do have the energy, go for it.  that makes those harder days soooo much better.  also doughnuts for dinner is a good idea.

mini makeover: dresser before and after

April 22nd, 2009   |   Style

dresserbeforeHave you ever had a corner of your home that you just ignore and pretend it’s not there? Well, this dresser was that corner in my apartment. Sure it was functional, hey, it wasn’t even horrible to look at. In fact, since it was so-so it was almost harder to motivate myself to do something about it. I wasn’t terrified by how it looked and I could easily have left it this way.

But finally I decided that “good enough” wasn’t “good enough” anymore. By moving just a few pieces like the earring organizer and small dish to other parts of the closet and adding a flower print which I already had (but had never framed), the nook is totally transformed.

Do you have a not-so-nice-nook like this in your own home?

If so, see if you can do your own mini makeover with 5 minutes and $20. Send me a before and after shot to jess@jesslc.com and I will post it here as well.

dresserafter

off the chain update: name the color combo!

April 21st, 2009   |   Life

astorsneakpeekTime for a sneak peek! This necklace is our first design from our upcoming Astor St. Collection for Jess LC (for a limited time it will be available on Studio 1423).

The full collection will be on Jess LC early May but in the meantime we need your help naming this new color combo. The fuchsia and yellow beads are died jade and honey jade, respectively. Some color combo names we tossed around were ‘sangria’ and ‘sorbet.’ But we aren’t sold on either title and think it’s best left to your wonderful and creative minds. So leave a comment with your color combo names and hopefully the summery shades will be no longer named after alcoholic beverages and low-cal desserts.

Below are a few pieces that will coordinate with the Astor collection but will be sold exclusively on Studio 1423 – they are a great deal so snag them while you can!

studiofuchsiadoubledropfuchsia earringsstudiocoraldoubledropcoral earrings

studiojetdoubledropjet earrings

when to hire: business advice

April 21st, 2009   |   Business Advice

pigcar2First of all, sorry for the random pig car photo, it relates to nothing that will be mentioned in this post. I just happened to see it twice on Saturday in two different parts of town and thought it needed to be shared.

Okay, back to business (literally). Chic Sensibility asked this question yesterday:

When did you first decide that you needed employees other than your sales reps? How many did you start with and how many do you have now?

This is a great question that I am sure many other designers are wondering themselves. My own experience with adding additional people to Jess LC has been pretty deliberate and slow for two reasons. First, I have grown the business since I was 15, and didn’t need extra help until I took the company full-time. And secondly, I don’t have any capital outside of Jess LC revenue to pay for employees, so the choice to hire is based entirely on growth. Personally, I have really liked that my growth has driven the scale of the employees because it also has followed the arc of my ability. As I have become better at operating the business and managing employees, I have been able to add more.

Back in August of 2007 I moved to Chicago and launched Jess LC full-time, as you probably well know by now. From August to December, I was a complete one-woman show. I did everything from hole punching the necklace tags, to making the jewelry, to writing store orders. It was exhausting, but it was how I was comfortable running the business and I couldn’t afford any more help.

In January 2008 I took on my first serious sales representatives and also secured my first intern. Shortly after that I also added Gertie, my first part-time lady to help fill all the store orders that the sales team started to bring in. It was pretty natural. When I got more orders than I could handle alone, I got someone to help me complete them. And the intern was a huge help as well. By the time January rolled around, I realized there were certain parts of the business I had to do, and others were just time suckers.

My Must Do’s:

  • Maintain relationship with reps and store owners
  • Track of orders and processing payments
  • Ordering supplies
  • Design new collections
  • Lead the Jess LC team
  • Web design
  • Emails and communication
  • Accounting

My Time Suckers:

  • Making each individual piece of jewelry for store orders
  • Making jewelry tags
  • Tracking inventory
  • Organizing paperwork
  • Training employees

The time suckers that could be completed by interns or part-time employees were delegated. It was an adjustment at first. My perfectionism would prohibit me at times from giving up control but over time I realized the ladies I work with are incredibly talented and capable of handling anything. I don’t have to do it all. In fact, there were projects I gave them where I described how the end result should function, and they used their imaginations and turned the project into something well beyond it’s original function.

Over the course of January 2008 to April 2009 we have had a fluctuating team of three interns and four part-time jewelry makers. This size has ebbed and flowed with the sales seasons. I haven’t made the leap to adding full-time employees yet, but in the future I would love to have someone help manage the day to day activities. It’s a work in progress and I am happy that I have grown the company to include more people. We get much more accomplished this way but I also love working with the girls on my team more than I like making two dozen necklaces.

PS- Check back later this afternoon for a sneak peek at one of our newest Jess LC collections, we need your help naming one of the color combinations!

food gawker + business questions

April 20th, 2009   |   Food

foodgawkerToday seems to have a food theme and I’m okay with that. As I was drooling over the images of my dinner tonight, Natalie, a Jess LC lady, asked me about Food Gawker. I had never heard of the site, but my first visit certainly made me hungry. And my second visit inspired my treat of the week (pictures and recipe to follow). Definitely worth checking out (on a full stomach- otherwise you’re just teasing yourself).

On a less fattening note, are there any burning questions in the realm of small business or design? I intend to write a business advice piece for tomorrow and would be happy to address any topics that are on your mind.

grandma’s macaroni and cheese

April 20th, 2009   |   Food

macandcheeseYum. This wonderfulness is my dinner tonight. I got the recipe from my mom, but the cheese sauce is actually from my Grandma’s Cheesy Onion recipe. Since I had all the ingredients on hand except for the cheese, this was a logical, delicious, and inexpensive dish to make. I used to be intimidated by the homemade cheese sauce, but it is really easy since it requires the microwave(!). Try it and let me know what you think.

macandcheeseingredients

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 box pasta (I used whole wheat), cooked and drained
  • 2 C milk
  • 4 T flour
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/4 t paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and cook pasta.
  2. Melt butter and stir in flour, pepper, and paprika. Whisk in milk. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes on power level 8 (stir 2-3 times during cooking).
  3. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
  4. Add sauce and noodles to greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 10 minutes and enjoy!

macandcheesesaucemacandcheesebeforeFor those who like a softer, unbaked mac and cheese you can call it quits at this stage like my brother, Mikey C.

macandcheese1

how ted and gilbert saved my day

April 19th, 2009   |   Life

For those casual readers who have followed Makeunder for the past three months or just found my site today, it’s unclear how much of ‘me’ is apparent on these pages.

Why I write so diligently on Makeunder My Life while juggling my jewelry business, social life, boyfriend, and enjoying Chicago may be kind of fuzzy. If this site was meant exclusively as an advertising tool, I would have kept the old Blogger Jess LC site. But that’s not why I write.

Reader: “So, Jess, why do you write about making under your life?”

Jess: “Great question.”

The answer requires a long story which I intend to detail, bit by bit, over the next few weeks (probably on the weekends since I’m not sure how many people actually want to know). But the long story ends with, “In conclusion, if I wanted to create someone to speak about making under in this world, I know without a doubt that I would have given them my life’s experiences and tools.”

What that basically means is though I have been a jewelry designer for the last nine years, I genuinely feel in the depths of my gut, that I am put on this Earth to talk about living an intentional life. This is my passion, my purpose. This blog happens to be the easiest way to begin that journey. Now. But with this mission comes some interesting emotions.

Sometimes I feel elated when unbelievable connections happen and help build awareness about making under. And other times (especially since the recession) it feels that despite all my work on Jess LC or Makeunder the future is uncertain and my huge leaps of faith (spiritually and financially) may be not enough to turn this into a lasting career that will support a family, offer stability, and help people improve their lives. I feel like crying, “I took the leap, I did the whole follow your passion and purpose thing- why don’t I see a payoff?”

Thursday I was feeling those gloomier emotions. Until… I stumbled upon a site called TED and a speech given by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love. Being a self-proclaimed and personality test certified “perfectionist and performer,” I have high expectations for my work and myself. Gilbert’s speech offered a solution to help diffuse the pressures I feel. Something inside me was released. My hope is that her proposed paradigm will help me continue to dull my intermittent nagging doubts and worries.

For at least a few hours.

And if my story is similar to your own, check out Gilbert’s speech. I hope you enjoy it.

throw out fifty things: day five

April 18th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

fiftythings50These are the last 10 things for my Throw Out Fifty Things challenge. Whenever I hear declutter experts on tv talk about getting rid of stuff the often mention that people find money while doing so. I’ve always scoffed at the concept and thought “that might work for people with a LOT of stuff, but not me.”

I am officially eating my words.

It turned out that after going through this challenge I got rid of a lot of paper materials: catalogs, magazines, textbooks, business stuff that I didn’t need. Which meant that today’s #44 (magazine holders)  never made it out of the bag because the stuff I was going to put in them, got tossed out! So they go back to Target and $8 goes back into my wallet. Who’da thunk.

My Fifty Things: 41-50

41.  Old camera cords – Don’t Need

42.  Kitchen utensils – Don’t Use

43.  Measuring cups – Don’t Need

44.  Magazine holders – Don’t Need (!!)

45.  Scarves – Don’t Use

46.  Turbo tax 2007 – Don’t Use

47.  Black sweater – Don’t Use

48.  Old instant coffee packets – Don’t Need

49.  Navy dress – Don’t Use

50.  Catalogs and old text books – Don’t Use

end of the week exfoliation

April 17th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

Here are this week’s exfoliations. Several people have mentioned they keep forgetting to submit their items, so I am going to make it easier going forward. To submit your exfoliation and be entered in the Giveaway Giveaway, send me your photos any day you want. The following Friday your item will be posted and will officially enter you to win the giveaway. So you can go home tonight/this weekend/whenever and snap a picture, write a sentence, and email me (jess@jesslc.com). I will keep your entry and post it the following Friday. Easy as pie.

(Sorry, happen to have pie on the brain – I am going to enjoy a piece at Noble Tree in exactly three hours and twenty-three minutes.)

evabackpack

“I am choosing to get rid of this back pack.  Even though it was behind me (literally!) all through out my college years I believe it is time to let go.  I do love it, it’s the perfect size for my size, but it started to rip and I don’t use it much.  I have traded the student back pack for a lap top bag which carries my new essentials (laptop, lunch, work id, and cell).  Thanks Jansport for having my back and adios!”

- Eva

exfoliationsweaterThis sweater brings my total exfoliation count for this week alone to 51 items including the Throw Out Fifty Things challenge. Realizing that my end of the week exfoliation in the course of a year was going to amount to 52 (one thing a week) things – almost equaling this week’s tally alone, was eyeopening. For someone who loves to ‘pass things on’ I sure have a lot of stuff if I can do this so easily! Might mean I need to “up the anty.” (Come to think of it, what does that phrase even mean?)

And if any one is interested the sweater is a 100% cotton, size small, Gap circa 2003. If anyone is interested in owning the peachy top let me know. As always, 5 bucks for shipping.

throw out fifty things: day four

April 17th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

fiftythings40Day four. Yesterday it was great to find that there are people interested in getting some of the nice things I am “passing on” like those vintage clutches. In this batch of Throw Out Fifty Things the only items that haven’t found homes are (37) a batch of two dozen little plastic takeout boxes in light blue (and red, not pictured). They were actually the original packaging for the Lucky In Bed and Silver Lining necklaces. Unlike the box in the photo, the other boxes don’t have stickers and they are adorable for creative projects. So $5 for shipping and I can get them to ya, just let me know.

My Fifty Things: 31-40

31.  2008 planner – Don’t Need

32.  Nail polish – Don’t Use

33.  Flashlight and silly pen – Don’t Use

34.  Fabric scraps – Don’t Need

35.  Sweatshirt – Don’t Use

36.  Panty hose – Don’t Use

37.  Mini takeout boxes – Don’t Need

38.  Black bra – Don’t Love

39.  Sweater – Don’t Love

40.  Slip – Don’t Use

throw out fifty things: day three

April 16th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

fiftythings30Here’s the third batch of Throw Out Fifty Things. A few interesting things I hadn’t thought to get rid of were old products from my Mom’s college first aid kit. Expiration date 2004? Pitched.

The two items I will get comments about are the vintage (pleather) clutches. They were my Grandma’s and I have had them for the last four years. Which means I haven’t used them in 1,460 days. I kept them around simply because they were once hers. But when doing this challenge I finally was able to realize that I have lots of things from my Grandma that I use everyday including scarves, jewelry, and even shoes. But these two purses don’t have a place in my life and they aren’t being put to their best use sitting in my chest. So it’s time to find homes for these little pretties. Any takers? Just pay shipping and I’ll send ‘em your way. Grandma would like that.

My Fifty Things: 21-30

21.  Red vintage clutch – Don’t Use

22.  White vintage clutch – Don’t Use

23.  Camera case – Don’t Use

24.  Compact mirror – Don’t Use

25.  Expired first aid stuff – Don’t Need

26.  Old key chain/pouch – Don’t Use

27.  Outdated checks – Don’t Need

28.  Pen holder – Don’t Need

29.  Sleeping mask – Don’t Need

30.  Calculator keychain – Don’t Use

rachelheartoflightHave you visited Rachel, at Heart of Light? Her popular blog features creative design projects, delicious recipes, and vivid photos. Incidentally, it has become one of the first blogs I visit each day. After following her site over the past few months, I have an official blog crush. Working with her via the big Soc Chic giveaway, I found she is also a genuine person (thereby increasing said crush).

So with all my gooey feelings for her and her blog, it is not surprising that I was super excited ecstatic to see her intentions for this week’s DESING YOUR LIFE. I was not disappointed. The intention I automatically know I am incorporating in my own life is in her “Don’t Bring Junk Into Your Life” section. Read on!

Buy less, connect more.

Having just come off a three month shopping hiatus, I can definitely say that cutting out unnecessary shopping improves your life. I didn’t just save money, I found that I had a lot more time for doing other things (who knew shopping was so time consuming?). My new goal is to shop less and make it more meaningful. I want to invest in items I’ll truly cherish, and I want to use my money to support people I feel a connection to. I’m not promising I’ll completely cut out my Target purchases, but I’m definitely stepping up my Etsy and independent designer shopping. It makes me feel connected to my community in a way chain store shopping doesn’t.

Love your home.

rachelloveyourhomeI know people who are tentative about investing time in a place that isn’t permanent, but I believe in diving right in. I live in a rented apartment, but I still spend lots of time making it my own. I painted the walls, I put in additional shelving, I set up display spaces and I planted a balcony garden. I even managed to get a little sewing nook set up for myself, despite our limited space. Loving your home makes every day seem a million times better, so the time investment is well spent.

Don’t bring junk into your life.

This one seems harsh. I sometimes have well meaning people (usually coworkers or distant relatives) give me little gifts that I know I’ll never keep. I used to keep them around out of guilt but I’ve finally drawn the line. Things that I will never love simply don’t come into my apartment. I immediately put them in the car where we have a little Goodwill box. I’m not saying I never feel guilty about it, but I love not having my space cluttered with things I don’t like. And I always hope that they find their way to someone who will enjoy them.

Indulge yourself in things you love, and use them.

display-useI have a serious vintage cookware addiction. I love brightly colored enamel wear, glass cake stands and mismatched tea cups. When I find a piece I adore, I feel no guilt about bringing it home. I’ve made places in my home where these objects live, so I know they’ll have a spot and I use them frequently and display them the rest of the time. And it isn’t just me. I encourage D to display his things too, so our little apartment isn’t just awash in girly stuff. After all, if you truly love something, it should be out in the open, not hidden away in a cupboard. Currently, we’re busy building some more open shelving for a bit more display room.

Cultivate your relationships.

rachelcultivaterelationshipsRelationships are the most important things you have, and they don’t grow on their own. I have several different circles of friends, and I make sure to put time and effort into those relationships. I am still friends with the girls I went to elementary school with, despite the fact that we all went to separate colleges and moved to different areas. We meet up without fail once a year for a Christmas party and we schedule in other get togethers as often as we can. My college girlfriends and I are actually living in the same city right now, and we aim for a weekly girls only happy hour. For local friends, D and I host dinners frequently and often set up recurring friend nights (Project Runway was a great excuse for a weekly get together, but we find substitutes). When you’re far apart, little packages dropped in the mail or regular emails can go a long way. I hate the idea of people drifting apart, and I’ve found that a little bit of effort really pays off in the end.

Just try it.

I’m a naturally cautious person. I’m analytical, I love stability, and I’m not a big risk taker. These are characteristics I value in myself, but I also strive to test my boundaries. Starting a blog was a chance for me to have a creative outlet, and it functions as a daily reminder to keep in touch with my creative side. I can’t believe how valuable it’s been to me. If you have things you daydream about doing, just try them. You can always try something else if your first attempt doesn’t work out.

exfoliations due thurs at 3pm

April 15th, 2009   |   Life

exfoliationduethursSend your exfoliation items to me at jess@jesslc.com to be entered to win this month’s Giveaway Giveaway.

loris

Lori’s Shoes- Lincoln Park, Chicago

The most popular question I get about business is how to get in stores. Which makes sense. Wholesale (selling to stores) is a great option to increase revenue and expand your company.

Some brands like BB Dakota choose to sell to stores only. Other lines like Tory Burch and Mark Jacobs do a mixture of both retail (selling to customers) and wholesale. When starting out like I did (with a bag of $5 seed beads and crappy wire), a mix of wholesale and retail is often the most practical. Below I have laid out three basic phases for expanding into wholesale and tips on how to see a jump in sales at each level. The advice is based off of my personal experience in the fashion and accessory industry and through selling to over 150 stores in the past 9 years. For those in the gift category selling stationary, candles, and thinga-ma-bobs, the same principals apply but there may be some industry variation.

oliverandlillysOliver + Lilly’s – Vancouver, Canada

Phase One: Operation Get in a Store

Phase One businesses are generally new designers just starting to consider to seriously sell their work. A Phase One designer may sell on Etsy or to family and friends.

Often, the easiest way to get into a store is to try a small, local boutique with an owner who also serves as the store buyer. When visiting the store, starting a friendly conversation with the owner about the cool store selection can go a long way. Then, mentioning that you are a local designer with wicked duds can come up naturally – be sure to wear or bring samples of you work. If the owner is interested, she will usually ask about your retail and wholesale prices (note: have retail and wholesale prices!) and what stores carry your line. If you say you got nada stores and she still likes your designs, 92.3% of the time she will say, “Do you do consignment?”

Consignment

This is where you give the store your awesome thinga-ma-bobs and they try to sell them. You only get paid when pieces sell, and you get 50% of the price. Pieces that don’t sell eventually get returned to you.  Store buyers like this because they don’t have any loss if your pieces don’t sell. You like this because you are in your first store(!!).

Repeat this process at other stores and be sure to ask the stores how customers respond to your work – they have lots of experience and can give you ways to improve. Does your packaging suck? Are your neck warmers too itchy? Are your prices too high? Be patient with consignment, things may not sell automatically. But if things dry up over the course of a few months be ready to pull the plug and take your merchandise back. Or swap in newer, improved items.

Phase One Bump-Up Tip:

If your thinga-ma-bobs are selling faster than beers at a Cubs game, ask the store owner for referrals. Store owners have other store owner friends that may want to carry your line. And the easiest thing in the world is to approach store #2 saying, “Shirley has been selling my line like crazy and she thinks it might be a good fit for your store too.”

dressingroomThe Dressing Room – Lincoln Square, Chicago (photo)

Phase Two: Operation Get Wholesale Accounts

Phase Two businesses have successfully sold consignment pieces in several stores. Generally Phase Two peeps have sold in about six stores and are antsy to get out of consignment.

I would wait 6 to 12 months or until I was selling more than five items a week at the store before bringing up the wholesale option. At that point the buyer knows you and knows that your products rock. If the buyer loves your work and is ready to increase their margin, they will generally be open to wholesale.

Wholesale

The buyer places an order for the store, you make them the goods, and they pay. Stores like this because they can sell the product for any price they want. You like this because you get paid right away and don’t need to keep track of inventory at the store.

Phase Two companies are still likely to hear the consignment question from new stores who are still wary of taking the leap on a small fish like you. My favorite line for this situation is “Since my work is carried in x other stores via wholesale, I can do six pieces on consignment for the first month as a test run so you can get to know the pieces.” 8.2 times out of 10 the buyer ends up buying the goods wholesale after this statement.

At this point you probably already have a line list (more on this in a future post) with your style numbers, wholesale prices and so forth. Go forth with your popular whatcha-ma-call-its and get in as many stores as you can. But remember to be honest and tell store owners what other boutiques also carry your pieces. If the stores are in the same area they can get pretty territorial about exclusivity. You might sell to both of them the first time around, but don’t expect any re-orders.

Phase Two Bump-Up Tip:

Start expanding outside your area! Ask current stores for store leads out of state, look online, or call friends in other cities for recommendations. Then send those leads a line list or a sample (if possible) and give ‘em a call a week later. They will usually remember the hot pink box that arrived last Wednesday with the cute gotta-have-its.

heavenlymetalHeavenly Metal – Ann Arbor, Michign

Phase Three: Operation Sales Reps

Phase Three designers are often full-time or almost there. Some designers go on the road with their samples on extended sales trips making new contacts and opening new store accounts themselves. This is slow, travel intense, and very hands on. Other designers at this point (like me) choose to hire commissioned sales reps to sell their work for them on the road or in fancy showrooms.

The first thing I can say about this phase is that if the thought “I will hire my good friend’s hairdresser’s cousin to rep for me, she needs some work and is really excited about my products” you are not alone. Almost all newbies think this (like I did). Unless that hairdresser’s cousin has successfully repped for another line or has experience this is a bad idea. Abort the thought and immediately distract yourself, eat a cupcake if you have to. Just don’t hire a friend or inexperienced rep.

So how do you find a good, reputable rep to get you on the fast track to dozens of stores? This tip is worth it’s weight in 24k gold: Ask your best store who should rep your line. There are three reasons this is golden:

  1. The store’s customers love your stuff – most likely the store’s favorite rep has relationships with other stores catering to similar shoppers.
  2. Connecting with the rep by opening with the line, “Suzie, at Boutique X, has recommended you as a great rep to work with” is guaranteed to be taken seriously. If the rep is worth their salt they will take a look at what you make just so they don’t insult Suzie and because they think Suzie is awesome.
  3. Once the rep likes your work she will most likely call Suzie to ask for her opinion in terms of sales, quality, and reliability. Suzie is your #1 fan, of course she will give the most glowing report you can get.

Hopefully this snags you a great rep. Then it is up to you to negotiate a commission, showroom fees (if any), and make them a sample product line. This is an investment and it can get expensive, but the payoff can be great if you find the right representation.

Phase Three Bump-Up Tip:

Just like in Phase Two, to get more stores you need sales reps in more territories. And just like in Phase Two, sales reps have other sales rep friends across the country. Ask your rep (once they successfully sell your line) for recommendations.

throw out fifty things: day two

April 15th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

fiftythings20As you can see, lots of shoes are getting pitched in this batch of Throw Out Fifty Things. After an entire winter wearing either rain boots or knee-high brown leather boots, I realized the amount of shoes I have far exceeds the amount that I actually wear. So out they go, with a random assortment of other no longer needed items. This was almost too easy. Any one up for trying the challenge? Let me know how it goes!

My Fifty Things: 11-20

11.  4 foot belt – Don’t Use

12.  Red patent pumps – Don’t Use

13.  Brown umbrella – Don’t Need

14.  Red patent peep-toe shoes – Don’t Use

15.  White flats – Love, but are worn out

16. Used gift certificates – Don’t Use

17.  White jeans – Love, but are worn out

18.  Brown flats – Don’t Use

19.  Pink scarf belt – Don’t Use

20.  Yellow silk scarf – Don’t Use

off the chain: new studio 1423 pieces

April 14th, 2009   |   Life

howlitereddetailforjess

howlite necklace

New in the Studio 1423 shop! Check ‘em out while they are still in stock.

aquaearringsfullforjessclearly blue earrings

redyelearringsfullforjessberry earrings

fiftythings10Last Friday I searched online for a book I saw on a Today Show segment. While searching, I happened upon a book titled Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke. My jaw dropped when I read the short segment summary. Blanke mentioned a Michelangelo quote, the same quote that sparked my makeunder philosophy and changed my life four years ago. Needless to say, I kept reading.

Blanke’s book is aimed at helping people open up their lives by getting rid of 50 things they no longer need, use, or want. And I have to say, coming off the Michelangelo quote, I was pretty intrigued. So I decided to give her idea a try. When I told Gertie and Natalie, two of my Jess LC girls, they both wondered whether I actually owned more than 50 things. I even wondered with all my exfoliating and making under whether I would be able to meet the goal. At first I assumed I would need Erwin to help me find objects in our storage unit to use for the challenge. But after just an hour and a half in the Jess LC studio alone, I found more than 50 things. In fact, I am looking around, and it is hard to tell I even got rid of anything.

So for the next five days I will reveal what I am passing on from my life. Some objects are getting pitched, some are getting donated, and others are being recycled. This was a surprisingly easy challenge, and I think I might actually do a second round in the next month or so. For those scoffing at the ‘easy’ part in that last sentence, I say it can’t hurt to try. It might be easier done than said.

My Fifty Things: 1-10

  1. Teacup – Don’t Use
  2. Freeze dried basil – Don’t Use
  3. Dried roses in a vase – Don’t Need
  4. Medicine Organizer – Don’t Need
  5. Craft ribbon and hole punch – Don’t Use
  6. Fuzzy bowtie – Don’t Use, Need, or Love
  7. Old batteries – Don’t Need
  8. Old cocoa mix – Don’t Use
  9. Plastic cutting board – Don’t Need
  10. Black slingbacks – Don’t Use

cheesy oatmeal: super awesome

April 13th, 2009   |   Food

cheesyoatmeal

I have debated about posting this recipe for the past three weeks. I got the savory oatmeal idea from Mark Bitman’s book Food Matters. And though oatmeal with cheese and pepper flakes is fantastic (and I have ate it 19 out of the last 21 days), it sounds a bit… weird. Nevertheless it is definitely worth trying and hey, maybe I’m not the only person who will find this meal fantastic.

Cheesy Oatmeal

  • Oatmeal
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Red pepper flakes

Cook 1/2 cup old fashioned oats with 1/2 cup water for 1:30. Stir in cheese and cook for an extra 30 seconds. Add a dash (or dump) pepper flakes on top and serve.

end of the week exfoliation: april

April 10th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

Yea! At last, I have a quick chance to post this week’s exfoliation with reader submissions included! A big thanks to Kristin H. and Kristin C. for participating. You can check out what they exfoliated this week (and why) below. If you want to exfoliate and enter to be in the Giveaway Giveaway send me your exfoliation item for next week to jess@jesslc.com by Thursday (4/16) at noon.

exfoliationkristincoldhoops“This is my first exfoliating experience. I admit that I am somewhat reluctant to get rid of practically anything as I am sort of a pack rat, which presents a problem since I live in a tiny studio! For that reason I will look upon this as a sort of weekly challenge. I am “exfoliating” these earrings. They are somewhat old, do not always stay in my ears and are even becoming a bit rusty. I have held on for them because…….ok no particular reason. Jess I may have to hit you up later today for some hoops…………………..”

- Kristin C.

exfoliationkristinhshoppingbags“I save everything.  Zip lock bags, air plane ticket stubs, all the extra buttons that come with clothes, bags, and shoe boxes.  Even though I have a nice shoe rack that holds all my shoes, I stack all the empty boxes on my closet shelf almost to the cieling.  It may sound crazy but this was very hard for me but… I called the high school across the street and donated 32 empty shoe boxes for a science class diorama project (remember those!?).  As for the designer shopping bags, well, I couldn’t let those go!”

- Kristin H. of The Not-So-Desparate Housewife

exfoliationtopThis top though it looks cute, has not been worn since I turned 21…  I have kept it because I like the look, but my current bar scene is more laid back than clubbing. Plus, I always ended up spending most of the night fussing with the neckline. Buh-bye sparkle shirt!

back in a flash!

April 10th, 2009   |   Life

Hello, dear readers. We have new end of the week exfoliations to post but right now I have to run to a few meetings downtown for the upcoming launch of the newest Soc Chic necklace (I will give you a clue, the necklace name involves flowers and the cause has the initials C and F).

So come back a little later today to see the fresh crop of exfoliations including reader submissions!

Time to catch the bus…

kristinhassanI’m not sure if you have heard or not, but Bravo has a new program, The Fashion Show, debuting on May 7th. Among the awesome designer contestants is my good friend and design buddy Kristin Hassan. She got her first claim to fame by snatching a coveted spot in Macy’s Fashion Incubator this past year. Her eco-friendly fashion line, Organik Revolution, is quickly gaining a following.

Beyond her high flying career, she is someone I deeply respect for her determination, energy, honesty, and shoot from the hip attitude. I have been anxious to read her intentions, as I knew they would be bold and unorthodox. So read on and enjoy la vida Kristin.

I Wear a Lot of Hats

Not literally, I don’t think I look particularly good in them.  But figuratively, I’ve got all kinds.  My name is Kristin Hassan.  I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a best friend, etc. etc.  I’m also an entrepreneur and business owner, a shopping addict, a “Band-aid”, a blogger, an earth-positive activist, an amateur photographer, and a Chardonnay guzzler.

krsitinramstinRamstin

You all know TomKat and Bennifer… now meet Ramstin (Ramzi & Kristin).  It’s been Ramzi & Kristin for almost nine years now, so it was only appropriate that the siblings dubbed us Ramstin.  I absolutely love being married and I adore my husband.  The best part is that I have a teammate no matter what – whether I’m facing life or death surgery, or just need a buddy to go to boxing class with. The coolest thing about Ramzi is that he’s got what I’ve named “The Fonzi Power”.  If i can’t open a jar, or get my printer to work, I tell Ramzi and in a snap, it’s all better!  It’s getting really odd at how good he is getting!  But really, his best qualities are that he’s very down to earth and level headed.  Which compliments my “head in the clouds” attitude nicely.  Ramzi, a graduate from DePaul University, is super smart when it comes to business, another plus for me!  He’s always making me laugh, even if I tell him he’s annoying.  He’s probably the best person you’d want on your side if you were trying to take over the world.  Yeah, he’s the best!

We Are Family

Family is super important to me.  I talk to my parents and siblings on a daily basis.  We have a lot of traditions, most of them surrounding food… but hey, we’re Italian!  One of my favs is “Vragoon”… it’s an Italian Easter pie that my Dad and I are getting ready to make on Saturday! Mmmmm… Can’t wait!

kristinbeinggreenorganikBeing green never looked so good.

I graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago in 2006 and immediately started my own clothing company.  organiK Revolution (link to www.organikrevolution.com) is a line of super soft, un-fussy soy jersey dresses and tops.  I design and manufacture clothing for the modern girl who wants to look great without compromising things like her wallet or her environment. These girls are all for combating the climate crisis in the most fashionable way possible. On top of that, nothing retails over $150, so heads up Recessionistas!  organiK Revolution is produced locally in Chicago, IL.  Not only does this allow me to be completely hands on in the factory, but we significantly reduce our carbon footprint by not shipping back and forth to Timbuktu.  But we’re not stopping there. Of course we use eco-friendly materials like soy jersey and organic cotton, but we’re constantly pushing the barrier to a company wide green initiative.  Recycled paper and soy inks are the only things I print with, and we’ve even swapped out the lighting in our factory and studio for energy efficient CLC’s. AND, our fan favorite “Join The Revolution” t-shirts are manufactured in a factory run on solar and wind power!  Shop online now at www.organiKRevolution.com/shop.

kristinkeystorelaxationKeys to Relaxation

I took piano lessons for 7 or so years as a kid.  Then I became a cheerleader and ditched on the keys.  But now that my life is in perspective and long gone are the pom pons, I’m back to my roots.  I’ve started up piano lessons again, and while I’m back to pounding scales over and over again, I’ve found a refreshing relaxation comes with it.  The days are soon approaching that I’ll be back to belting out tunes like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Bennie and the Jetts”.

Band-aides.

“Groupie” is such a 70s word.  I’m a Band-Aide.  Ramzi has been in a band since the day I met him.  And it wasn’t before long that my two brothers and my brother-in-law were in bands, too.  And as you can imagine, a lot of my guy friends are in bands, too.  So guess what we do on the weekends?  Shows!  There’s nothing like the live energy of being at a concert.  I’ve always been very supportive of these ventures – I’ve helped with everything from flyers and photo shoots, to screen printing t-shirts and making music videos.  But my services don’t go unpaid… the girls and I are always backstage, VIP, and we never pay for drinks.  Most importantly, we’re surrounded by friends and family singing along at the top of their lungs.  Not a bad way to kill a Saturday night.

I love words.

Song lyrics, quotes, lines from a movie.  I’m infatuated with anything catchy.  Some of my favs of the moment:
“Who knew life would turn out this way?” -Stubhy Pandav of The Insecurities

New Challenges

It’s important to keep creative minds going.  And I more than compensate for this by finding new hobbies and obsessing.  My most recent venture:  Final Cut Express, a movie making program for my Mac.  And the boys are all the more pleased with my new hobby as they are the stars of my videos.  Check out my first ever music videos on YouTube!

kristinhappyplaceHappy Place

Although I live in the suburbs, I’m in the city all the time.  And after a long, harsh Chicago winter, the trains, planes, and automobile feeling of the city has begun to wear on me.  That’s why I think it’s uber important for everyone to have a happy place.  Somewhere you can escape to and come back refreshed.  My happy place is on Eagle Lake in Bloomingdale, Michigan.  It’s a place the summer home of my childhood, and it’s peace and quiet (we’re at least twenty minutes from any shopping mall, movie theater, or hospital…)  There’s the lake and the family.  Which means home cooked meals every night, bon fires, and sunburn.  There’s no air conditioning or cable t.v.  So with all the modern amenities gone, as kids we got really into water sports.  Just writing about this, makes my body ache to be back in the sun on my wakeboard.  Summer can’t come soon enough.

B-B-B-Blog

My wonderful friend Jess turned me on to the wonderful world of Blogging.  What I thought would be a great cross-marketing tool, is slowly turning into an obsession!  And it’s a total fun way to keep everyone in the loop on our hectic lifestyle.  So, “The Not-So Desperate Housewife” was born. Check it out at www.thenotsodesperatehousewife.com.

sumbitexfoliationsorchid
Reminder to one and all! Noon tomorrow is this week’s deadline for Exfoliation submissions. The full details are here, but the two most important points are:

  • Send me a picture of what you are exfoliating this week to jess@jesslc.com.
  • Include a 2-3 sentence explanation of why this item is getting passed on/tossed out/or repurposed. (Feel free to include a link to your blog or website as well for some extra traffic and free PR.)

Your exfoliation will be posted on Makeunder tomorrow along with my own exfoliation and will be officially entered into the April Giveaway Giveaway, with a chance to win a $40 Jess LC gift certificate.

I can’t wait to get this feature on a roll and hear your makeunder stories. So send them in!


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