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makeunder step four: reflect and evolve
May 30th, 2009     |    ExfoliatingLife


Congratulations! At this point in a makeunder, the real work is already complete. This phase is where maintenance kicks in. The path to reflecting was fairly simple in three basic steps:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Exfoliate stuff
  3. Identify intentions
  4. Reflect and evolve

To review them all in depth click these links: how and why makeunder happened for me, create a vision, exfoliate stuff, and identify intentions.

As I touched on a bit in Step Three, regular maintenance needs to take place to keep things from getting out of hand. Personally, the ‘end of the week exfoliations‘ are a great way to help me stay on top of the amount of things I have. Since I can’t honestly say that I always practice the one-in-one-out policy (although I am working towards it), this weekly habit does provide a bit of self-regulation.

The other important factor to consider as you grow is to revisit your vision and add things that become important and to subtract what no longer is applicable. The more regularly you reflect on the vision the less you will need to create major changes going forward.

So now I want to hear from you!

If you do your own makeunder, I would love to feature it here on MakeunderMyLife! Please email me at jess@jesslc.com for more details.


Okay, back to the makeunder process, at step three the makeunder is almost complete! To review, we have talked about why I started this process and I’ve explained how to create a vision and exfoliate stuff.

  1. Create a vision
  2. Exfoliate stuff
  3. Identify intentions
  4. Reflect and evolve

Now that we have only things that we need/use/love and match our vision, we might find one of two things:

1.  We feel an immense sense of relief because for a long time we had been living with too much unnecessary ‘stuff’ in our lives. Our space is now livable, workable, and we enjoy spending time in the space (unlike before when we always felt stressed out by the mess and clutter).

2.  We feel empty because we might have recently gone through a transition which rendered a lot of our stuff “useless” in our new lifestyle. (Going from college to career, career to mommy, or mommy to career are all popular transitions.) Our vision has shifted, and now there are several things we need or want for our space to help create the vision become reality.

If you find yourself in emotional camp #1, rejoice! You will now feel a weight lifted off your shoulders and you may find you are more productive in your space. As you move forward and bring new items into your life, only bring in things that you will need/use/love and fit into your vision. Then remember to exfoliate another item you no longer need. Because it’s not quality that stresses us out, it’s quantity. It’s like weight maintenance, you have to keep your intake and output equal in order to remain at your goal weight.


And for those emotional #2 campers, here is where you get to have fun with the other side of making under- you get to makeover your space! But as you plan your makeover, start first by identifying what you need and will use that is present in your vision but not yet in your reality. Those things can now become ‘intentional obsessions.’ These items can be researched and the quality of the items should be the highest that you can afford if they are really important to your dreams. My new favorite way to look at this concept is captured in a phrase a Makeunder reader, Alix, shared “I’m too poor to afford anything but the very best.” Remember to be patient and acquire new items as you can afford without struggle, financially or emotionally.

This is a neverending process so you can relax and let things come together over time. And who knows, you might just find by the time you can actually afford something you’ve been longing for, your vision has shifted and it’s no longer an intentional obsession. So save your money and pace yourself.

I have to say, each week these exfoliations are getting better and better! I can also tell some people are starting to get on a roll and tackle bigger makeunder projects like Lydia (who wrote about her bathroom makeunder on her blog this week), Carolyn, and Brooke. Exfoliating can be infectious. I also love how Haley found a new home for her precious ice cream maker that will still enable access while honoring her PBA to eat healthier.

To see who won this May’s organiK Revolution wrap, scroll down below the exfoliations!


“So, I’m submitting a load of cosmetics from my bathroom cabinet. One has been repurposed (body spray bottle to plant mister), three are being passed on to my little sister, five I couldn’t work out any alternate or second use for so have gone to landfill, and one (the old earrings) has been slipped into my craft box in case I can use it in some kind of project… very satisfying to finally clear out some dead wood from the bathroom!”



“That rubber binder literally drives me crazy — it has rubber on the ends for some reason and I can’t take it so finally getting rid of it :). Magazine is huge and I’m realistically never going to read it since it’s been about 6 months! And that paper cutting board is broken, but I kept it around anyway! Feels so good :).”



“I love the exfoliation/makeunder concept and the personal bank account. This week I’m getting rid of something that not only takes up too much space in my tiny kitchen, but also is constantly deducting from my personal bank account goal of eating healthier: the ice cream maker! I’m probably one of the few people who frequently uses their ice cream maker, but that’s starting to be a problem, and I just moved and have the tiniest kitchen ever. So I’m giving this baby to my little brother because he wants one and also so i know that if I ever really need to make some amazing ice cream or sorbet fora party or something I can just borrow it back for a day or so.”


“Three day weekend meant an exfoliation overhaul. Yep – that’s two mediocre vacuums that didn’t suit our needs, bags of clothes, board games, canvases, etc. Our spare bedroom can actually be used now… I won’t use it as a storage shed any longer!”
This week’s exfoliation is a vintage table cloth I picked up at a thrift store in Ann Arbor before I moved to Chicago. It hasn’t been used for the last six months at least, so it’s time to find it a new home.

And the May winner is…



Congratulations, Lydia! You are now the proud owner of a canary yellow organiK Revolution wrap! I’ll be emailing you later today with the details.

So what’s June’s Giveaway Giveaway prize? Stay tuned next week to find out. And in the meantime, find something you don’t need/use/or love this weekend and send it in (jess@jesslc.com).

Have a great weekend, and be on the lookout for the remaining two steps to doing your own personal makeunder later today and tomorrow.


Missing Thursday’s weekly DESIGN YOUR LIFE post? Not to fear, it will be back next week. But if you really are jonesing for an intentional fix, check out the past participants’ interviews.


And since today’s makeunder step is all about exfoliating, I thought I might drop in and remind everyone that tomorrow is the last Friday to enter to win the canary yellow wrap from organiK Revolution.

The winner will be announced tomorrow, along with this week’s exfoilaitons. So get your pics and descriptions to me (jess@jesslc.com) before 6am May, 29th for one last chance to win!

makeunder step two: exfoliate stuff
May 28th, 2009     |    ExfoliatingLife


Okay, on to the dirty work of making under. This is where your space, reality, and life really start to be driven by your vision rather than the other way around. I’ve already covered how I came up with making under and before I get into the details of step two, let’s recap the makeunder process:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Exfoliate stuff
  3. Identify intentions
  4. Reflect and evolve

As I mentioned above, this is the step where you dump the stuff that isn’t needed for the life you want to live. Depending on your focus for the makeunder, whether your zoom is large or small, this process can happen fairly quickly or take place over several months.

I apply the word “exfoliate” to stuff in a makeunder because it is a great visual. Just like our skin, there is a lot of dead ‘skin cells’ in our homes that are clouding the healthiest, best life we want to live. And by sloughing off that unnecessary layer of crap, we emerge brighter and more purposeful.

Bring in the Troops

If you worry about making the right decisions to make real change in your life, have a friend over who knows your vision very well. The best kind of friend for this is the one who will actually tell you if you look fat in something, without hurting your feelings. Someone who says, “that designer must have been smoking something when they designed that dress’ bust line” is someone you want on your makeunder team. This person can help you with the tougher objects and can push you to make more fundamental changes. In a large scale makeunder, they also are a second set of hands to exfoliate.

The Need/Use/Love Rule

Whatever your time line, if you are focusing your current makeunder on some aspect of the ‘stuff’ you have (makeup, clothing, decor, garage storage, or computer files) the end goal is to only have those things you need, use, or love. As long as the object falls in one of these three categories and fits with your vision, it has a rightful place in your life. If it doesn’t quite fit any of these categories, chances are, it is actually causing you undue stress (consciously or otherwise) and is desperately needed by someone else in society. Or, as my friend Amy explained, it could be considered selfish to keep things you don’t need, use, or love because there are so many people out there who don’t have basic necessities… or super fancy unopened coffee grinders. I’m sure some cash-strapped co-ed could really use cheap lattes right about now.

Let’s Get this Party Started


Armed with your mantra, vision board, or letter to yourself, systematically go through the objects in your life and hold them up next to the vision board or letter, or repeat your motto. Does the object in question fit this vision? If the answer is yes, then move on to step two: Is this object currently needed, used, and/or loved? If the answer is yes, it stays in your life. If the answer at any point is a no, it gets tossed, recycled, donated, or passed on to a friend. If you find yourself unsure about something, it goes in a special Stretch Zone pile to be dealt with later.

The Stretch Zone

Once the makeunder is complete, it’s time to deal with the Stretch Zone pile. Generally speaking, the objects in this pile are really unneeded, but we don’t quite have the gumption to let them leave our lives… yet. I suggest putting them all in a box(es) and putting them out of sight. Taking them to the parents house or storing them are great options. With a big marker, write the date six months out from today. By that date, if you haven’t needed to open that box, it goes straight to donation – unopened. There’s no reason to open the box and see what you ‘might’ someday need, when reality says you haven’t thought about it for 182 days. If you can’t trust yourself to not rifle through the box, have someone else donate the box for you.

A Sweet Ending

Personally, my favorite thing to do is take the unneeded clothing to a consignment store and see how much money I can earn. [Hint: Never watch them go through your clothes, I generally find myself offended by what they don’t buy… even though I don’t want it either.] Then I head straight to a donation location with the unsellable items. After that, it’s time for a trip to Molly’s Cupcakes and treat myself to a Cookie Monster Cupcake using the consignment money.

makeunder step one: create a vision
May 27th, 2009     |    ExfoliatingLife

makeundercreatevisionYesterday I explained how I became inspired to makeunder my life and why others might want to do the same. This is the part where I get into the nuts and bolts of making under. The steps look something like this:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Exfoliate stuff
  3. Identify intentions
  4. Reflect and evolve

To create a vision, I recommend going to a coffee shop, library, or other off-site location with a notebook and 30-60 minutes to reflect. You can choose to envision a specific part of your life or how you want to design your life as a whole. Either way the same principals apply, your focus just zooms in or out.

I prefer to start by imagining how I want to feel once I have accomplished my intentions, and then identify the steps I need to take to reach that end. There are several ways to solidify these ideas including creating a vision board, mantra, or writing a story. I have used all three of these techniques for different aspects of my life.


Inspiration Board

The inspiration board above depicts my 2009 intentions. It hangs on my wall next to my desk to remind me of what I envision for this year. When I exfoliate at the end of the week, I review this board to identify what no longer “fits in the picture.”

Clipping photos that inspire you or drawing meaningful symbols (like Suzanne) and placing them in a prominent location is an easy way to create a visual aid to gauge what needs to stay and go in your life.


In college I also used the mantra concept while making under my wardrobe. I created a “WWJD” motto or, “What Would Jennifer [Aniston] Do?” Anything I couldn’t imagine Jen wearing was outta my closet. (Which meant an aqua sequined top and orange tie-dye skirt went to Salvation Army immediately.)

Mottoes can be great in specific makeunders like the closet. When looking at each shirt it’s simple to repeat the motto and determine if it applies.

Story Telling

My favorite method for creating an overall vision is letter writing or story telling. I do this the first week of January, but it can be done more frequently. I write a letter to my future self explaining in past tense (as if I have already accomplished my intentions) what I envision for that year. Though I don’t always achieve everything I mention, I am always shocked at how many things do become realized.

If you decide to try a letter to your future self I dare you to dream bigger than what you think is “realistic.” Even if you don’t reach everything you intend, if it’s a real value, you’ll be surprised at how much headway you can make once you put your ideas to paper.

So go forth and vision away!

And let me know, what is your favorite ‘vision’ method?

makeunder: how and why
May 26th, 2009     |    ExfoliatingLife


Welcome back! I’ve taken a few much needed days to rest and recuperate. I hope you had a great few days of relaxation and are now ready to get back in the swing of things as well. This week I am detailing how to create your very own makeunder, step by step. The process is free, and can be applied to almost every area of our lives, but I specialize in space and stuff – because it is the quickest place to make an impact and because I love design.

Before I get into the nitty gritty steps and examples, let me first frame how this whole idea came about. The idea was hatched in a 12’x12′ dorm room in January of 2006. At that point in my life I was incredibly unsure of my future career and identity and I desperately wanted to be perfect and happy- in that order. So how does one become perfect? At the time, “new luxury” marketing and an infamous hit tv show, Extreme Makeover, made me believe that if I added a bunch of awesome clothes, bags, makeup, and semi-invasive surgical procedures to my life, I might just be closer to my personal nirvana.

Needless to say, this paradigm left me a disgruntled co-ed, considering I had no means to obtain any of those illusive products or procedures.

That is until I heard a quote from Michelangelo regarding the statue of David. When asked how he created such a beautiful figure from a massive stone he responded that he could see the statue beneath the layers of rock and he simply needed to remove the excess stone.

And then it clicked.

Like David, my best self, the one that I was searching so desperately for in the bottom of a shopping bag or a Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough carton, was underneath that “stuff.” The person I wanted to be was ever-present, but hidden behind a cloud of physical and emotional crap. At that moment I realized the path to contentment and my best self was found by removing the unnecessary stuff in my life. By making under.

First I headed straight to my closet and practiced the makeunder steps I will elaborate more on the rest of the week. I tackled the closet right away because there was a whole wardrobe of expectation and dissapointment which could be changed in just a few hours. The more psychological shifts that needed to happen took a bit longer to develop.

I also feel that our space and well-being are tied to one another. If our space is peaceful and clean we in turn feel calm and focused. If our space is cluttered or ill-suited for our lifestyle, then a feeling of dissatisfaction buzzes in our ear like a hovering mosquito. Changing our environment to reflect our intentions provides a space for our best self to develop. And it doesn’t cost a dime.

Tonight’s homework:

Reflect on what kind of change is (or isn’t) needed in your own life. Generally speaking, the bigger the disconnect between our vision of our best selves and our reality relates to the amount of making under we need to do in our lives. What do you really, really want for yourself?

end of the week exfoliation
May 22nd, 2009     |    Exfoliating

All these lovely ladies exfoliated this week and are now in the running for this month’s Giveaway Giveaway prize. Want to get in on the exfoliation action? See the details here.

Oh, and have a great Memorial Day weekend! I’ll be baking mac and cheese for a BBQ on Saturday.


“I love these boots, but have worn them completely out…so much so that the heels no longer have soles.”

Suzanne C.


“Here you go…An overview of what I’m exfoliating… a tablecloth that doesn’t fit my dining room but I’m too lazy to drive 1/2 hour to TJ Maxx to return since it only cost $10 (and goodwill comes to our neighborhood once a month for pick ups!), shoes that I had to buy as a bridesmaid that all the other bridesmaids thought were super comfy but never fit me just so, shoes I “designed” at a design your own purse place in Chicago — the samples in the store fit great but the ones that came my way (nearly 2 months late!) never did.  I put so much effort into getting them delivered, I thought I needed to keep them and wear them, despite the fact that they never fit well, a vase that came with a beautiful flower arrangement my MIL sent when I got a big award at work (isn’t she sweet?!?) and a free giveaway bag from a beauty promo at a department store…”

Kate W.


“I’m on a roll! This week I donated some old frames and posters. They seemed sentimental at the time (a poster from our trip to the Utah Olympics), but I realized the memory is better than a dusty, unused poster.”



“So, the stars have apparently aligned because you happen to be having a contest about getting rid of stuff, and I happen to be getting rid of a whole lot of stuff as I’m finally moving husband and cats out to Massachusetts with me!  To put it in context, this is less exfoliation and more sandblasting 🙂  So I humbly put forth entry number one: furniture I don’t need and don’t have room for!  The papasan chair, kitchen table set, and mattress were all sold on Craigslist, the bakers rack (which I was so sad to lose, but there’s not room in the new home for it) was given to an old roommate, and the satellite dish was given away on Craigslist.  I now have room to stash boxes as I pack, and have covered about a third of the cost of my trailer rental fee (grumble grumble stupid expensive UHaul)!”

Erica P.


“Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration.  After reading your “Throw Out 50 Things” entry I felt inspired to throw out anything that did not make me happy.  What better place to start then my closet?  I also decided to stop punishing myself with keeping clothes that do not fit.  Yes, I said it…that do not fit and not necessarily because they are too big… so time to let go.  I didn’t count the pieces I am donating, but I do know it’s one big bag of stuff (both physical and mental stuff).  Adios big bag of trash!”

Eva M.


This week’s exfoliation is my new haircut. It’s quite a change from my previous style – I have such thick hair that after this cut I lost weight(!). It might not get the same attention from los chicos as the super long/thick Bridget Bardot look but with training this summer this look is way easier to manage.


This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE featured person is an intentional powerhouse. Carolyn founder of Care Commit Change (or CCC) and author of Perseverance started following her passion at the tender age of 14(!!) by starting a program pairing children with cancer with non-cancer pen pals. As she grew up, so did her non-profit. After graudating from Duke in 2007 and while currently attending Harvard for a PhD in Clinical Psychology (!!), CCC has begun to address the growing need for cancer survivor college scholarships.

And in all her ‘free’ time, she managed to get engaged, own a puppy named Lila Rose, blog, and write a book(!!). Talk about intentional and inspirational. After reading her intentions it’s pretty easy to see how she has so much under her belt at this point in her life.

All I can say is that this girl sure must eat her Wheaties.

Refocus My Personal Journey

This intention enabled me to create my own intentions. Until a year or two ago, I lived my life for others. I felt guilty spending time on myself, even if that time was spent just reflecting on my own personal journey. My day-to-day life was consumed by giving everything to childhood and young adult cancer survivors. I couldn’t justify spending time doing something “frivolous.” Remarkably, it was these incredible individuals who inspired me to wake up and start living again. Now, I’m like a kid in a candy store! I’m continuously amazed by all that I’m learning about myself. But at the same time, I’ve noticed how much more I can give to others because I’m focused on nurturing myself and my well-being.

Create a Beautiful Ripple Effect


When we focus our energy towards constructing a passionate, meaningful life, we are tossing a pebble into the world, creating a beautiful ripple effect of inspiration. When one person follows a dream, tries something new or takes a daring leap, everyone nearby feels that energy, and before too long they are making their own daring leaps and inspiring yet another circle.

– Christine Mason Miller

Christine Mason Miller’s words really resonate with me. Her powerful message inspired me to create my own blog in December 2008. Through my blog, A Beautiful Ripple Effect, I have connected with individuals who are spreading that remarkable effect across the globe. In fact, it’s one of the most meaningful projects I have ever taken part in. It reminds me daily of just how much passion exists in our world. After all, it is all too easy to magnify the negative and lose sight of the positive aspects of our lives.

Choose Authenticity

Authenticity is a daily practice. Living authentically means cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of light and darkness, strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of who we are supposed to be and embrace who we are. Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, and especially when we are wrestling with the shame and fear of “not being enough.” Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.

Brené Brown, Ph.D.

When I first read this quote, I remember feeling as if someone was inside my head and knew exactly which words I needed to hear at that very moment. I had read about being authentic and about the concept of authenticity countless times as a psychology student, but it never really seemed to click. I related to this quote, and it became a guidepost along my journey of self-discovery.

How do I choose authenticity? Some examples…

I am learning to say no—both literally and figuratively. I stand up for myself, even if that means the consequences may not be so great.
I hold the key to my dreams and my life. No one else can decide how my life should be lived.
I choose to protect my character rather than my image. I can’t control how others view me, but I can control how I view myself.

Be Creative


I can barely draw a stick figure—seriously. And so I believed most of my life that I just wasn’t born with that elusive and magical creative gene. It wasn’t until I was able to value the process of creating rather than concentrate on its outcome that I realized no such gene exists. I admit that I haven’t been making time for this intention recently, and I’ve definitely noticed that the distance has had an impact on my overall mood and energy. Still, that realization reinforces the importance of those moments during which we allow our minds to be free of expectations and focus solely on the “now.”

Unveil Imperfections

When I first started my blog, I kept it very private (i.e., I didn’t tell many people about it). In fact, I am just beginning to talk with my family and friends about it. The blog has been my “private” space to practice unraveling the various layers of my identity. I was like a police detective at the beginning! I made sure never to mention anything that could possibly end up on Google, and I was careful that nothing was tagged with my name or any of the organizations related to me. I’m still careful, just not as stringent.

There was a time in my life, not too long ago, when I thought everything had to be perfect. Both offline and online, we are exposed constantly to individuals who appear to “have it all.” These are the people whom we believe demonstrate apparently effortless perfection, and do so relentlessly. Yet I know that utilizing these personas to define success is a one-way ticket to Doomsville. You may end up with a “perfect” life on the outside, but you’ll sacrifice yourself in the process. Yes, you’ll have a life, but you won’t be living it.

When I realized that I was falling into that trap, I decided to become proactive. So while I smile a lot and strive to achieve my dreams, I am still a regular person with myriad flaws, bad days, and a (surprisingly) long list of people who dislike me. When I have children, I want them to see the whole me, not just the positive milestones I’ve set along my path.

Focus on My Family and Friends


I have the most wonderful family and friends, too wonderful in fact. They have graciously allowed me to focus too much attention on personal endeavors and as a result, I neglected to dedicate enough of my time to them. I live far away from most of my family and friends, but even those friends who live nearby haven’t seen me in months. This eats me up inside, and it is something I certainly want to work on. I could continue to sit under the all too large umbrella of guilt, but that won’t do me any good. So, it’s time I take action and create change.

Whenever I refer to my family and friends, my fiancé, Ben, seems to get left out. In fact, I don’t think I have ever thanked Ben publicly for all he does to help me. We’ve been together almost seven years, and I am more in love with him each and every day. He has been by my side through incredible moments and through horrible moments—he’s been with me for them all. He pushes me to chase my dreams, even when all the lights of hope have been turned off. I am grateful to have found my one and only soul mate.



Just the word, simplify, makes me feel calm and joyful. Yet I can’t take credit for this intention. I began working with Aby Garvey from Simplify 101 a while ago, and she has really helped me simplify my life—and get more done at the same time. The most important lesson I’ve learned thus far is to prioritize. It’s an ongoing process, which is much more valuable than just “organizing stuff.” As Jess emphasizes on MakeUnderMyLife, it’s important to get into the habit of exfoliating the unnecessary from our lives. I am going to make a public intention to which Jess can hold me accountable: I plan to exfoliate at least four items each month. I will donate as many of these items as I can to benefit my nonprofit organization (through eBay Giving Works). Item one for exfoliation: a gorgeous, small storage basket that can’t seem to find a home in my little apartment.

Be Honest

When it comes to intentions related to my current endeavors, it is very important for me to remain honest (both to myself and to others). I want to provide real advice—the advice I wish I had received! I won’t sugarcoat the experiences, but I won’t downplay the positives, either. There are pros and cons to everything in life, and I wish more people were willing to share both sides rather than focus exclusively on the pros or solely on the cons. I will admit the mistakes I have made, and I have made lots of them. Still, they remain my most valuable teachers.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is a major component of my life. It is so important to acknowledge individuals who do something positive, even if it was for someone else. I’m now obsessed with two simple words: “thank you.” I am a bit old-fashioned and love to write handwritten thank-you notes for pretty much everything. In all of 2008, I probably received fewer than 10 handwritten thank-you notes (really about 5 if you subtract the formal thank-you notes). I keep these notes and make an effort to go above and beyond to support these individuals. A handwritten note is a powerful way to tell someone that they have made a difference in your life.

Be grateful for this moment. Don’t put dreams off for tomorrow.

Create a New Path


Use passion as a rulebook. Rules and lessons on how to achieve have been created by others, yet they can be very limiting. Following the paths of others doesn’t allow you to create a new path for your own personal journey.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

– Steve Jobs

Click here to see more DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


So the new PBA of eating salads four times a week has been way easier to accomplish thanks to this bag of vegetable sunshine. It costs about $4.50 from Trader Joe’s and has three servings of baby spinach with dried cranberries, blue cheese, candied pecans, and raspberry vinaigrette (three lunches for just $1.50!*).

If anyone has been salad-phobic like I have the last year, this is the easy fail-safe way to get back in the habit. Now I’ve also graduated to making my own salads with the Trader Joe’s Cilantro Dressing and I can’t wait to try out the Poppy Seed flavor later this week.

Salad as my new food crush to replace cheesy oatmeal? This is a dream (and intention) come true!


In other news, Jena at Modish BIZtips asked me to answer a few (ok, many) more questions about wholesaling to stores. If you want the full scoop check out the interview here.

* Though the salad is great and satisfying, I usually pair it with other sides to feel satiated. So the $1.50 price is slightly misleading. A piece of baguette would be great, but I usually make do with popcorn.

how to: decorate like yourself
May 19th, 2009     |    Style

Remember Courtney and Lauren from their DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews in the past few weeks? Well, not to let the cat out of the bag or anything, but we have actually become buddies both online and offline. Since we all share a love for blogging, drinks, and Chicago we are also coordinating a Chicago blog party at Matilda’s August 15th. Interested? Email me (jess@jesslc.com) for more info.

Anyways, today we are swapping blog posts- below are their awesome philosophies on customized interior design. (PS- if you want them to customize your home, explore their affordable design services.) And over on their blog I am explaining why you need to makeunder before your makeover. Check it.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

dear home decorators,

our goal at kelly + olive is not just to provide you with kick-ass color schemes, tons of inspiration images, shopping lists, and how-tos that are DIY-lite.  it’s to help you create rooms like none other.  ones that reflect who you are, and make you feel truly at home.  so, for your convenience, we made a list of our favorite rules.  and even though rule number one is always break all the rules, you should probably just read these anyway.

here goes:

display your collections.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

you picked up all those ceramic dog figurines for a reason.  you love them — figure out a way to use them in your decor!  whether you hang your vintage horse ribbons grid-style on the wall or devote an entire china cabinet to your fanciest stilettos, don’t be afraid to really show them off.

mix old and new.

we’re not saying you have to go all shabby chic coffee table with your ultra modern sofa, but rooms look weird when everything is the same age.  even if that vintage eames lounger is in near perfect condition, there’s something about a chair that’s been around for a while…it has this energy, this wisdom about it.  sounds wooey, but it’s scientific fact.  these older things make your newer things look richer somehow, more interesting.  it’s all in the mix.

only buy things you absolutely love.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

this is the hardest.  too often we decide we NEED something, and have to get it right now, so we don’t take the time to look for the perfect piece.  we end up spending a couple hundred bucks on something we’re lukewarm about, and then feel guilty when we want to chuck it a couple months later.  it’s a downward spiral.  we say use the cardboard box-as-coffee table until you find one you like!  don’t be embarrassed.  you’re waiting for mr. right, not mr. right now.

slow rooms.

buying a room directly from a catalog is like buying a bed in a bag.  just don’t do it.  you are a multifaceted person, and if you want your room to reflect that, you must fill it with the contents of your life, not the contents of west elm.  take your time.  let it evolve.  accept the fact that you will never really be “done.”



photo via Design*Sponge

there are entire blogs listing the eight quadrillion ways to alter your store bought furniture.  hello, ikea hacker, welcome to my apartment.  just do something to it!  take the doors off, paint it, paper it, stencil it, stick stickers on it, bedazzle it within an inch of it’s life.  you’ll have created a custom piece that no one else in the world has, and when you get compliments on it, you’ll get to be all, “oh, i just spruced it up a little.”  trust us, that just makes it all worthwhile.

don’t think too much.

just do what your gut tells you: make decisions, execute them, then edit ruthlessly.  in that order.  the only reason we get stuck is because we’re not following our guts in the first place, and we’re editing before we’ve even painted a wall.  what’s the worst that could happen?  you have to do it over?  we’ve been there, and it’s not a big deal.  decorating shouldn’t stress you out.  it’s a process of self-expression like any other.  we’re not saying it isn’t frustrating at times, but at the end of the day, it’s just a room.  it should make you happy, not sad.

so, go forth!  be brave soldiers of style!  be original!  make us proud!  and of course, don’t forget to send pics.

lauren + courtney.

Good morning and welcome to a fresh week. I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was full of running (did a half marathon on Saturday to prep for the San Fransisco Marathon this fall), cooking (created a wonderful meal with friends for my running partner’s birthday), and eating (everything under the sun including two Ann Sather’s cinnamon rolls and Piece pizza).

Today I want to recap two developments. The first is a slight change in my Personal Bank Account intention for May, and the second is a Jess LC update regarding the Macy*s on State St.

Houston, we have a problem


Last night’s salad: mixed greens, tomatoes, chopped cilantro, alfalfa sprouts, herbed Chevre (goat cheese), cucumbers, and Cilantro dressing from T.Joe’s.

Despite my good intention for this month’s Personal Bank Account (PBA) deposit, I am changing course and heading in a new direction. Originally I mentioned I wanted to eat my vitamins everyday like a good little girl. But about a week into the month, it became obvious that I should find a new intention unconnected to supplements (don’t ask).

So for the remainder of May I intend to consume my vitamins and minerals in their natural state, specifically via four salads a week. I chose to eat four salads a week because it is healthy and requires me to eat slightly more veggies than I normally eat. To put things in perspective, the number of salads I consumed in 2009 before May could be counted on… one finger. So here I am on May 18th armed with bags of Arugula, baby spinach and more salad dressings than shoes in my closet. Above is a photo of last night’s salad- fresh and tasty, but I should have added croutons, nuts, or some other crunchy addition.

How has everyone else done with their PBA’s? Smooth sailing? Any snafus like mine?

Fingers crossed…


Last Friday I spent most of the afternoon debuting Astor St. and the rest of the Jess LC line to Macy*s buyers for consideration in the Chicago Designer section of the State St. Macy*s. Each year they carry four to six Chicago jewelry lines in a special jewelry case and host a handful of trunk shows for local designers.

Last year I attended this event and was asked to participate in the trunk shows, but they did not place a wholesale order. Not sure what they will decide this year, but my fingers are crossed and I will update you in the next few weeks if the outcome is positive.













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