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taking a daily “happy” vitamin

September 30th, 2009   |   FoodLife


I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for quite some time. In fact, I have a little memo in my Blackberry where I keep ideas for future posts, and this topic has been sitting there since May. The idea came from an article I read in Body + Soul written by Cheryl Richardson (one of my favorite contributors). The article was called “Your Feel Good Plan” and talked about how we take suppliments for our health but we don’t take time to do things we enjoy and make us happy. She believes by carving out specific time for the things we enjoy, we will decrease our stress and improve our health. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking idea, but I liked the concept of making joy a ritual to honor daily.

Her suggestion in the article was to seek out at least one thing that makes you happy and do it everyday. She also recommended making a list of several things you enjoy and picking among them each week. We go out of our way to eat vitamins each morning, but somehow these small acts of joy can slip by in a busy schedule.

My New Happy Vitamin

I thought about the idea quite a bit. I contemplated what I would do as my “happy vitamin.” I wanted to choose things I don’t already do. Cooking came to mind, but I cook pretty regularly and it seemed a bit too utilitarian. I wanted to do something that had no “practical use” or social aspect, since those actions were already incorporated in my life.

What has become my new happy vitamin is the simple act of coloring. A few weeks ago my Prismacolor colored pencils resurfaced among a sea of boxes. They had only been used two times since high school, but for some reason I kept them tucked away. Recently I decided to sharpen them and put them in a vintage glass near the tv – hoping that I would one day begin sketching again.

They sat there for two weeks, untouched.

Then finally, after staring at them between episodes of Chopped and Greek, I decided to try to sketch some flowers in a vase on the counter. I found myself being pretty critical of my work and frustrated that I wasn’t automatically as good as my high school ability. And that wasn’t relieving stress. I was creating another pressure on myself. The thought “I must now improve at drawing” was not a recipe for fun and relaxation.

So I took a step back. I thought about why I still had these color pencils despite countless exfoliations.

Quietly, a memory of my first experience in middle school with Prismacolor pencils came to mind. I used to be fascinated with Prismacolor pencils in art class. I loved how smoothly they colored inside ink drawings and how awesomely the white pencil (my favorite) blended two different hues. That was what I found joy in.

With that realization, I decided to print out coloring pages found online and color them in. No pressure, no inner critic telling me my perspective is off or proportions are wrong. Just the simple act of making the colors as bold and blended as possible.

Sometimes I don’t get around to coloring, but more often than not I color for at least a few minutes (or petals). I’ve even noticed on my runs near flowerbeds, that I take a closer look at the shading and naturally occurring color combinations for future coloring pages.

So what about you? Any coloring fans out there? Any other Prismacolor addicts? Other “happy vitamin” suggestions?

UPDATE (10/3): I find the coloing pages by Google Image searching the term “flower coloring pages” – and I print the ones I like.

past intentional obsession: the big gold watch

September 29th, 2009   |   LifeWardrobe


Last winter I was intentionally obsessing over big, gold watches. And few weeks ago I finally decided on a style from Fossil. I wasn’t thrilled with the giant Fossil logo, but for half the price of a similar Michael Kors style, I let it slide.

Now that I have it, I am still obsessed. I love the large size and how it looks paired with the new Madison Stripe Bracelet (in navy). So to anyone thinking about getting a gold boyfriend style watch, put this one on your intentional obsession list.

Thank You PVE!


I’d also like to thank Patricia of PVE Designs for her adorable sketch on a card she sent recently. If you haven’t seen her work, it’s wonderful. Take a look.

san fransisco stores + things to do?

September 29th, 2009   |   Business AdviceLife


As many of you know, I’ll be running the Nike Women’s Marathon in three weeks (October 18th) in the great city of San Fransisco. I’ve always wanted to visit California, especially San Fran. I decided the best way to make sure I see the city within the decade was to run there. So that’s what I’m doing.

I am also trying to make this trip as inexpensive as possible. Which means it might also double as a business trip (hello, tax deduction). I would like to spend Saturday afternoon walking to shops and talking to store owners. But right now, I don’t know any stores to visit. Do you have any boutique suggestions?

And on another note, do you have any suggestions on Napa Valley trips or hotels? We’d like to visit the wine country the day after the race. Again, on the cheap(-ish) if possible.


[Photo credit]

new sectional

September 28th, 2009   |   LifeStyle


Last Friday the sectional was delivered! Here it is in the living room. You’ll also notice the disarray and mismatched furniture since our apartment is still in transition from the move. But the couch itself looks great. It is big. You can get a sense of the scale comparing it to the blue couch (no, it’s not a love seat) behind it. I love the color and the velvety texture is great. Now it’s time to get the rest of the old furniture out the door and start decorating the space.

On the other hand, there is one benefit of this transitional period and seating surplus:


end of the week exfoliation

September 25th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

Good morning! I hope you have a great weekend lined up for yourselves. I will be relaxing tonight and running the longest run (20 miles) of my training on Saturday morning. After this run, it will be downhill… towards the San Fransisco Marathon on October 18th. We got a call earlier this week saying our new sectional is ready(!!). I’m hoping it will be delivered today so I can crash on it Saturday afternoon while watching the Michigan game with E. I’m dreaming of lounging on that chaise all afternoon long.

Take a look at the exfoliations this week. You’ll even notice our existing couch on the list- if you’d like it, let me know. We’re gonna sell it for cheap.

End of the Week Exfoliation


“It felt so good to “exfoliate” my closet last night, that I FINALLY put the following items into the “donate box” after too many years of holding onto them: a sweater that isn’t kind to my body shape, three skirts that are far too short, a belt that only fits too high, a turtleneck that looks dumpy, and three purses/clutches that are cute but too young for me. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”



“Brand new socks, tights, and slippers! All these things were in my closet/dresser collecting dust…what a waste when someone else could be putting them to good use!”



“I found this jacket in my closet, and to my dismay, it still had the tags on it!  I think I may have bought it several years ago and just forgot about it.  The biggest bummer is that it doesn’t fit me anymore.  It’s too nice to just donate, so I may wind up trying to sell it on Ebay.  And if I can’t sell it there, then it’ll just be donated.  But, if anybody reading your blog is interested in it, let me know.”



“This is the cobalt blue microfiber couch that we’ve had for two years while living at our old apartment. It’s going to be replaced by our new sectional this weekend. If you’re interested in it, let me know. We’re willing to sell it *very cheap* if you live in Chicago.”

Erwin (well, me on behalf of Erwin)


These are two pans from a starter set we got when we moved to Chicago. They are dirty (beyond dishwasher cleaning) and they make marks on our new stove top. So away they go.


Happy Thursday! I hope you have had a good week so far. I’m happy to turn today’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview over to Sarah of Haute Design. I found out about Sarah from Crystal of Plush Palate (check out her DYL interview). With such a warm recommendation, I knew I wanted to hear Sarah’s intentions. And after reading Sarah’s blog, I now know where I can find inspiration for future Jess LC collections.

Sarah’s intentions are every bit as great as her design aesthetic. My personal favorite was… wait. I couldn’t pick just one. The last three are all my favorites. I need to remember each one more in my own life. They are all about being present, while I find my own inclination is to lean into the future. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Sarah of Haute Design

Make a mental note of special moments.


I have experienced certain moments that I knew would forever change my life, even if only in a small way.  Perhaps it was where I was, or something I saw or heard. By making a mental note, one can remember specific characteristics of that special instance – such as a particular smell, taste, or sound, which is meaningful and special. I can honestly say that I cried when I stood under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, looking up at the incredible, glistening structure, which looked as if it had been encrusted with diamonds. The vastness and beauty took my breath away, and I will never, ever forget that moment.

Listen to those around you.

Listen more than you speak. This is something that has taken me a long time to learn, but I now know how important it is. I love to talk and listen to those who have many more years of experience than I. I find their stories fascinating. It reminds me of the movie, “The Holiday”, when Iris (Kate Winslet) helps sweet, elderly Arthur find his way back home. While taking the time to get to know him, she learned a lot from him, and a new friendship developed that she never expected.

Never loose your enthusiasm.


I love life! Each day is just waiting to bring new surprises, delights and challenges. I try to find delight in simple, everyday experiences, like seeing a beautiful design, an idea, taking a lovely walk, or tasting something delicious. Finding beauty in life brings me joy. I have also learned that positivity can be pretty contagious – as is laughter! Laughter is one of the best medicines there is, I believe.

Be still.

Often, I have to be perfectly quiet and still to hear my own thoughts and those that God wants me to hear.  In fact, I find that sometimes my greatest ideas come out of silence. I am a person who typically hates to be alone, and even while working I will turn a movie or music on. I have to remember to allow myself some time to sit, walk, or take a drive alone. When I do, the payoff is huge. Like having the chance to be able to appreciate the beauty of nature – listening to a mother and her infant birds outside or the waves at the beach…

Appreciate where you are in life.


It’s wonderful to have goals, but I think it’s important to also enjoy the now – what you are learning and experiencing now. If you don’t, how can you reach to your goals? More importantly, I find that sometimes there are lessons that I have had to go through in order to learn certain things.  I wasn’t aware of them at the time, but when I look back, there were a few ah-ha moments that now make perfect sense. Even if they were tough, I don’t regret them, because they have helped to mould me into the person I am today, and have made me wiser.

Practice having grace in all situations.

There have been many situations in my life that have allowed me to practice having grace. When in doubt, pick up “What Would Audrey Do” – an excellent book that outlines Hepburn’s lifestyle and how she practiced grace, even under duress. If you have followed my blog for a while now, you will have seen my post on etiquette and lack thereof, particularly in regards to lineups. I could not understand this, as from a young age, I have always been taught to be courteous and respectful of others. No one is perfect all the time, but I strive to have Audrey’s grace.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

[photos taken by David Arias]

advice on working from home?

September 23rd, 2009   |   Business AdviceLife


Today I thought I’d turn the tables a bit and get some advice from you. As you know, I moved three weeks ago and in the process moved my studio into a second bedroom. When Erwin and I contemplated this move, he was apprehensive about me working from home. He was afraid I was going to go stir crazy being in one place all the time, especially during the dark and frigid Chicago winters.

So far I have loved working from home and found it convenient. But in the long term, especially as the weather gets worse, I might find some frustrations.

Do you have any advice for working from home? How do you stay sane being in one place most of the time? How do you keep a strong sense of separation (or do you?). Any advice for a work-at-home rookie?

bongo room, brilliant brunch

September 22nd, 2009   |   Food

Last Saturday before my trunk show, I scheduled date “night” at the Bongo Room. Last week my friend Amy mentioned the restaurant made pretzel pancakes covered in white chocolate and caramel. Needless to say, with my three favorite ingredients in the title, it got my attention. I dreamed about that dish all week long.

The Bongo Room on 50 S. Roosevelt St. (within walking distance of Museum Campus) was not easy to find. But they also have one on Milwaukee Ave. in Bucktown as well. It took Erwin and I about twenty minutes to find it due to road construction right outside the front door.

Check out their helpful sign during the road work.


Once we finally got inside and seated, I began to get anxious. The menu is one of those where I want to try just about every item. The burrito and croissant sandwiches really had me second guessing my pancake obsession, er decision. Check out the descriptions. I wouldn’t normally post a menu, but this one is worth it.



The most innovative brunch menu I’ve seen since Orange.

Erwin got the Eggs Benedict. It was pretty tasty and those potatoes were awesome.


And not to disappoint, here is the pancake dish that stole my heart. I enjoyed every bit of two of the three pancakes. But I recommend splitting one sweet and one savory meal meal with someone else.


So for those who live in Chicago, I definitely suggest visiting the Bongo Room as a fresh alternative to the popular Ann Sathers, Orange, or Stella’s. And to those visiting the Windy City, try this place out if you are planning on visiting the Field Museum or Shedd Aquarium. It’s just a walk or short taxi ride away from them both.

last week’s end of the week exfoliation

September 21st, 2009   |   Exfoliating

This post is actually from last Friday, but didn’t get posted in time. I will still post as usual on Friday as well. And since I haven’t decided on a Giveaway Giveaway prize for September (have I?). I am going to make this month’s prize a $40 Jess LC gift certificate.

End of the Week Exfoliation


“Some gently used bathing suits (I have too many)!”



“I rarely wore this shirt because I didn’t like the way I looked in it. So I had my roommate try it on and she looks fabulous in it. So it’s hers now.”



“I LOVE the look of this skirt, but because it’s never fit quite right (and never will) and I could never find the right “look” to go with it, it’s time to recycle it. On to the thrift shop!”


“I have three pairs of earrings that have each only been worn about four times in their entire existence. I went on a major kick where I decided I only liked silver, and of course now I’ve decided I only like gold so I have these earrings that I never wear! I hope someone else will!”



This Dremel is going to another jewelry designer friend of mine who needs a new one.

perfect vs. good enough

September 21st, 2009   |   Life


Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. I myself took a few days off from blogging and reading, and spent Saturday at Macy’s for a trunk show and ran my long run on Sunday morning. So this weekend was a bit off for me in terms of rest and relaxation. But I did manage to get a great brunch with Erwin for ‘date night’ on Saturday morning at the Bongo Room downtown. I’ll be sharing more about that later this week.

Perfect vs. Good Enough

Today I want to go back to the book I’m reading, The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar. I mentioned his suggestion about taking breaks every ninety minutes last week. Now I’d like to talk about another concept be brings up which often hinders perfectionists to varying degrees. As a former perfectionist, he had extremely high personal standards, and he held himself accountable at all times. But his intention to be perfect in every area of his life was obviously stressful and unrealistic. Impossible even. Nevertheless, he considered anything less than 100% in his life roles as a failure.

Once he addressed the flaws in his all or nothing approach to life, he attempted to become an “optimalist.” In his new paradigm, he recognized that there was not enough time in the week to reach 100% of his goals in every area of his life. And to try to attempt the impossible inevitably left him discouraged. So he chose to write out his goals for each role in a perfect world. After this list was made, he looked at the entire list and determined what was “good enough” in each area of his life. Below is an example of what might be my perfect and “good enough” standards.

“Perfect World” Exercise Weekly Goal

Run 5 times a week. Lift weights three times a week. Do yoga once a week.

“Good Enough” Exercise Weekly Goal

Run 4 times a week. Lift weights twice a week. Stretch after runs.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, he found by downsizing his lofty goals he not only achieved them more easily, but he also felt less stressed, happier, and more present in each area of his life. By acknowledging the limits of his time in each area of his life he devoted more focused attention the task at hand, rather than multi-tasking and spreading himself too thin.

I am going to take a look at this concept in my own life. I have a feeling that I might find some areas I naturally do this pretty well. But in other areas I can definitely improve. How about you? Anyone else feel like they might benefit from this exercise?

PS- In the spirit of “good enough” I will post last Friday’s End of the Week Exfoliation later today.

new sponsor, lovely clusters

September 17th, 2009   |   LifeStyle


Good evening! I’m excited to introduce Rachel’s (of Design Lovely) new site, Lovely Clusters. Earlier today she shared her intentions in a DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview and now I’m excited to share her newest project.

Lovely Clusters is a great way to browse all things lovely, adorable, and handmade. I kind of think of it as an edited Etsy filter for all things feminine. You can browse by clusters of color or product category. In just my first visit I found how addicting the site really can become. Clicking from designer to designer, I discovered some really great new pieces I’d like to one day own. Below were my immediate loves.


Christina Williams Napkins – so cute!


Olive Bird Pillow


Olive Custom Postcard Pillow – how perfect is this for a friend that moved?


Hettle Ruffle Pillow

I also asked Rachel to share a little bit more about the site in her own words.

How did you get inspired to make Lovely Clusters?

It actually started with a sentence that I saw on Rachel Ashwell’s blog. On one of her beautiful photos she wrote “clusters of loveliness”. I just adored how that sounded so I started thinking of a way I could use those words. I decided to create a theme on my blog where I would create a cluster of images whether it be by color, category or mini portfolio of an artist or designers work. During that time I started getting really into Etsy and got lost on it for hours on end. I felt like I was rummaging through a flea market. I thought that by cataloguing my favorite items on my blog and by adding them to my favorites on Etsy, it would be a good way to go back and find lovely sellers and items, but the navigation wasn’t quite right. I am a graphic and web designer so I figured that I could design a website where you could easily find favorite sellers and items by color or category. Once I had that idea I mulled it over in my head for 2 months and one day I just decided that I had to do it. It has been so much fun ever since!  I love meeting new sellers from around the world and constantly being inspired by the large amount of creative individuals out there.

What makes Lovely Clusters perfect for gift shopping?

My mom always tells my step dad the stores that she loves during the holidays and around her birthday to help guide him in the right direction. Without that little bit of guidance my step-dad would be lost in a dizzying sea of feminine consumer goods and stores, with no direction. I think if you love or know someone who loves beautiful feminine apparel, jewelry, home decor and art then you will be drawn to just about anything from our site and will want to share it with the people you know. We carry a large number of small, inexpensive gift items and if you happen to know the favorite color of the person you are buying for, you can easily search by their favorite color or by categories such as apparel, jewelry, art, accessories, decor and more!

How can Lovely Clusters help designers?

If a designer or stylist is creating a romantic setting for a room, a dreamy mood for a photo, or a one-of-a kind feminine outfit, browsing through Lovely Clusters will definitely save them time.  We’ve categorized each item to make it easy for designers and consumers to find just what they’re looking for without feeling overwhelmed by the huge amount of selections seen in larger galleries and online markets.

{Lovely Clusters is a sponsor of MakeunderMyLife}


Today’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE is featuring the newest sponsor of MakeunderMyLife. Rachel is a co-founder of the adorable site, Lovely Clusters, and has a blog called Design Lovely. I’ll be talking more about Lovely Clusters later today, so stay tuned. But for now I’d like to share Rachel’s intentions.

After reading her interview, it struck me how universal most intentions shared in the DYL series have been. I think on some level, intentions and values themselves are all-encompassing. And the way that each of us “designs our life” to fulfill these intentions demonstrate our individuality and personal perspective. I find something really beautiful about this revelation. We are at once one-in-the-same and one-of-a-kind.

So please read on to get inspired by Rachel. I am finding her ‘Take Time to Relax’ intention is getting more important for myself as well since I moved the studio into my apartment.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Rachel of Lovely Clusters

Be Happy Where You Are

I think that being happy in the place that you live is really important. Every time I leave Maui I am always ready to go back within a week. I am grateful everyday that I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I feel truly blessed and I know that I would not be myself anywhere else. Happiness comes first.

Never Loose Your Drive to Create


I have always been one to create. I could not survive without it. I live and breathe to make and design things. I love seeing my ideas come to life and to see them being used. It is a passion of mine that I hope to never get rid of.

Take Time to Relax

I am a hard worker and when you work for yourself it’s hard to know when to stop and take a break because it sometimes doesn’t feel like work. I have to remind myself to get outside and enjoy the beach, or go camping or hiking. It can be hard to drag myself at times but I always feel better when I do. I feel refreshed and clear headed.

Find Beauty in Everyday Things


Stop and look around you. There is beauty everywhere. It might sound a bit cliché but it is so true. I don’t know how many times I wish I had a camera to take some of the things I have seen. I think just enjoying it and noticing is enough though. I think because I do stop to look at things it helps me become a better designer and observer.

Keep on Learning

Even though I am not in school anymore I am always looking for new things to learn. If I don’t know what something is I usually will look it up or ask my really smart husband who is like a walking encyclopedia at times.

Share Ideas and Express How You Feel


As I get older I find myself becoming more set in my ways and I need to remind myself to consider other peoples viewpoints because it may open new ideas. When you share your ideas with others they will most likely share ideas with you.

Travel – See The World!

This is something that I definitely need to do more of. Going to Ireland was a great experience for me. I found out that I don’t mind being out of my comfort zone and it was actually quite exciting. Seeing and being in a different culture really opened my eyes and taught me a lot about myself. I had experiences that I will remember forever.

[Photos Courtesy of Rachel from Half Caf, scarletd, Stella Nicolaisen]

Reach Out

Want to learn how to live from Values-based intentions?

I run an online course, Life With Intention Online, to share exactly how to do just that. Sign up for updates and special bonuses here. (The next class will most likely begin in late 2015.)

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Guest post + blog advertising policy.

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Have a question about your intention tattoo order? Please email Ashley at jess(at)jesslc(dot)com directly.


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