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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!”

- Shanti


“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!”

- Christine


“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.”

- Nicole


“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)!”

- Christine


“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.”

- Susie


“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!”

- Shanti

“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!”

- Aditi


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]

divine caroline nomination

September 16th, 2009   |   LifeStyle

First, let me start off by saying thank you for all the kind words about the new Madison and Wellington collections yesterday. It’s so much fun to hear your feedback about the styles I create. It’s hard to believe that a year ago I rarely sold directly to customers – especially online. It was all about store orders then. I am so happy to have such a more balanced company and know who is actually wearing the jewelry we make here in the studio.

So thanks. I know I say thank you often, but it’s so true. And I don’t normally say things like this, but if I could, I’d give you a hug. But that would be weird, right? So I’ll stay in my corner of the Internet just say thanks. A lot.

Divine Caroline Nomination


And a second great big thank you goes out to whoever nominated MakeunderMyLife for a Divine Caroline Love! This Site Award. I got an email telling me Makeunder is now in the running for a prize against some really heavy blog hitters.

I described my feelings to Gertie and Susie about the nomination the other day. To me, this nomination is kind of like getting invited to compete in the Olympics. Some people want to win a gold metal, others are ecstatic just to compete to the games. That’s pretty much how I feel. If you’d like to vote for MakeunderMyLife, feel free to vote.

And not to sound like a broken record, gracias!

Madison and Wellington are online! As I mentioned earlier, my inspiration for these fall collections was a striped scarf. Not a typical launching point for jewelry by any means, but I think the result is fresh, unique, and sophisticated. Below I’ll explain how I intend for these pieces to fit in any woman’s wardrobe.

And as a little gift to you all, there is free domestic shipping on all Jess LC pieces until next Tuesday (9/22).

Wellington Collection

This collection is a nod to past collections like State St., Armitage, and Rush St. with a bit of an edge. These pieces are neutral and will go with basics in any one’s wardrobe. I like that they are perfect for a simple shift dress to make a statement, but I can also throw one on with my ‘uniform’ of jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan and look instantly pulled-together.

This collection is exactly what I want to wear this fall and winter, layered with tissue-thin turtle necks or my new shrunken leather jacket and skinny jeans.


Wellington Ave. Long Graduated Stripe Necklace

This necklace is my favorite interpretation of the striped scarf.


Wellington Ave. Graduated Three Strand Single Stripe Necklace

The perfect, more understated version of the Graduated Stripe Necklace.


Wellington Ave. Large and Small Crystal Necklace

A statement piece for sure, but the clear Swarovski crystal remains neutral.


Wellington Ave. Random Small Crystal Layering Necklace

A new take on the ever popular Rush St. Layering Necklace.

Madison Collection

For me, Madison is the natural evolution of the Astor St. collection from this summer done in a more muted, sophisticated way. The color story is rich with the navy, plum, shade, and black Swarovski crystals. The more intricate pieces reference the bib necklace trend without going overboard. These are pieces you will still love and wear after that trend fades away.

In Madison the stripe theme is played out in the crystals themselves. I imagine wearing these pieces to add a polished touch to work-wear and for upcoming holiday parties. And again, I totally plan to wear them with my t-shirts and cardigans all winter long.


Madison Ave. Three Strand Stripe Necklace

This necklace is laced in dozens of hand-wrapped Swarovski crystals.


Madison Ave. Three Strand Bold Stripe Necklace

A shorter variation of the Three Strand Stripe Necklace.


Madison Ave. Double Row Earrings

My nod to the statement earring trend.


Madison Ave. Large Double Row Necklace

A new take on the pendant necklace.


Madison Ave. Triple Crystal Necklace

The sweetest everyday necklace ever.


Madison Ave. Simple Crystal Earrings

The best new everyday earring since the Armitage Simple Link Earring.

To see both collections click here. And remember, free shipping on all domestic orders until next Tuesday (9/22).

So what do you think? Any favorites among the collections or styles?

give me a break, every ninty minutes

September 14th, 2009   |   Business AdviceLife

Good morning and happy Monday to you! I’m happy to announce that Wellington and Madison are going to be making their full debuts tomorrow on Jess LC. To celebrate I am offering free shipping on all domestic orders from September 15th-22nd.

This weekend was a good one. Erwin and I finally tackled the last of the unopened boxes from the move and I had a great long run. Yesterday I also went to brunch with my friend Amy, who recently started law school. We were talking about life and intentions as we often do, and I found myself mentioning a book that I’m reading called The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar quite a bit. So much so, that I think I will share some of my favorite takeaways over the next few weeks.

Give Me a Break


The first idea I want to talk about is one that I plan to start trying myself throughout the day. Tal mentions that today’s western culture encourages a marathon or endurance-like mentality when it comes to work. Because of this, people are pushing themselves to work much longer hours than in the past. And he himself was stuck in this work-trap early in his career, often working twelve hour days.

Macro-level Rest

The problem with this mentality Tal states is that we are not machines, but rather human beings with finite attention spans that need rest and recovery. There are three levels of rest he suggests might lead to a happier and more productive workday. On the macro-level he suggests that people take vacations from work once every six months. He also suggests people take at least one day off of work each week. I myself agree with these ideas and naturally follow them. But the micro-level suggestions got me thinking.

Micro-level Rest

On the micro-level, research shows humans are able to concentrate and maintain a high level of focus for at most one to two hours at a time. After that period, the quality of work suffers. With that in mind, Tal has structured his work into ninety minute chunks with 15 minute breaks in between. This allows him to fully engage with his work knowing that he will have the opportunity to recharge and do something completely unrelated within an hour and a half. By adopting this rhythm, he now accomplishes what used to take him 12 hours in just eight or nine hours.

I myself notice I tend to lose concentration after an hour and a half and will naturally start wandering into Twitter, Facebook, or my blogroll. Then I feel guilty, thinking that I should be able to stay on track until the work is complete- regardless of how long it might take. So starting today, I am going to start breaking my workday up with these free periods and see how it goes.

What can I say? It is the perfect chance to read through my blogroll. Anyone else thinking about adopting a similar strategy?

end of the week exfoliation

September 11th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

The weekend is here! Erwin left this morning for a half day of work followed by a weekend in Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame football game. So it will be a quiet, decorating filled weekend.

I will be staying in Chicago and running one of the longest runs of my training for the San Fransisco Marathon. I don’t mention it too much, but this weekend’s run is 18 miles. I think one of the hardest things for me besides the long mileage and sports bra chaffing, is giving up socializing with friends on Friday nights. But I’ve heard at the finish line of the Nike Women’s Marathon, firefighters in tuxedos hand out Tiffany’s necklaces on silver platters. Which makes it all worthwhile.

Anyone else training for a race or watching some football?

End of the Week Exfoliation


“Some like-new t-shirts I never wear!”

- Christine (from September 4th)


“A robe that’s too small!”

- Christine


This week’s exfoliation is a mixed bag. There are closet door hangers which don’t work on the new apartment doors, four dozen mini light blue takeout boxes (FREE GARAGE SALE ITEM*), a small Hobo clutch [from a previous exfoliation- it was claimed by a reader but I never got a confirmed address] (FREE GARAGE SALE ITEM*), a small Paris notebook (FREE GARAGE SALE ITEM*), and a chili bowl from a local thrift store (FREE GARAGE SALE ITEM*). The first to comment and specifically claim each of the items will get to keep them.

* FREE GARAGE SALE ITEM: These exfoliation items are pieces I am willing to send for $5 domestic shipping. If you comment and claim an item first, I will send you a PayPal invoice for the $5.


I’m sure most of you, like me, are familiar with Cassandra’s design inspired blog, Coco + Kelley. She was one of my first reads when getting into the world of blogs. She’s also remained a favorite. Her posts and the photos she finds are always inspiring and have a distinct point of view, a similar flavor. Which I think says a lot about Cassandra’s editorial skills. So of course I wanted to peek inside her mind and find out what drives her ambition and intention.

I found her intentions in today’s DYL  summarize a lot of what I’ve been thinking in my own life lately. In fact, I bet many others have been thinking the same things as well. Her intentions strike a decidedly eternal and universal chord, laced in glamorous photos. Her intention to Absorb is going to be on my mind the rest of the week.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Cassandra of Coco + Kelley


Stop planning and thinking and listing and start DOING. This intention is one of the most important for me because I get quite lost in the everyday tasks sometimes and forget to get to the big things – the things that are most important! These are the things that move us forward. This is the first step to everything.


This intention combines a few important pieces of my life – the need to be creative and original, and the challenge to make the world a more beautiful place for everyone. The cycle of ‘creating’ is really a cycle of inspiration – from one we get the other, which is why I’m so thankful for other creative people in my life!


Life is overwhelming, and simplifying things supports the “DO” part of life. Can’t see the forest for the trees? Been there. Take a step back. Declutter. Prioritize. Be quiet. Turn off. Stop talking and start listening. If we can’t see the bigger picture, how do we know where we’re going?


Someone once gave me the advice – when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, do something for someone else. You know what? It works. Give more time to those you love. Send a letter. Offer a compliment to a stranger. The more you give, the more you get.



This, of course, mainly refers to sunshine. I’m thankful for every day of it. But it also refers to life in general. Stop and smell the flowers. Notice beauty in the everyday. Take in knowledge from those who truly posses it. Be open to new thoughts, ideas, challenges. Appreciate the love you receive in your life from friends, family and strangers. And travel. Always always travel. There is so much to learn in the world.


Because it really is the best medicine.



Because it’s all you need.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

[photos courtesy of Cassandra from Rodney Smith]

new snack and fabulous blog award

September 9th, 2009   |   FoodLife

Today I was going to mention my new obsession from Trader Joe’s, and then found out I was tagged by Rebecca with a Fabulous Blog Award (more on that below). The food crush is a new one I discovered yesterday at the T.Joe’s sample counter (who doesn’t love a good sample counter, really?).

While shopping, they handed out Ultimate Pretzel Rolls with melted cheese and ham. It was divine. I promptly bought a bag of rolls and decided to make them for dinner. But then I got to the frozen section and their BBQ Chicken Pizza called my name. With reluctance, I caved to the pizza, vowing to eat the pretzel in all it’s glory today for lunch.


I almost gave in and ate my midday meal at 10:26am.

But with perseverance, I survived until my normal noon lunch time and promptly devoured this roll seconds after photographing it.  Dabs of Dijon mustard on some bites, slivers of butter on others, this baby is good both ways. Or, it can be sliced and used as a sandwich roll as they presented it at the store. Any which way, the pretzel bread is soft without being mushy and surprisingly subtle.

This guy is going to be a great go-to during the rest of my marathon training. I can already tell.

Fabulous Blog Award

fabulousawardSpeaking of obsessions, I found out this morning that Rebecca of The Pink Orange and Ella Minnow Pea tagged me in her Fabulous Blog Award winners. And as such, I am responsible for recounting 5 things I’m obsessed with. Well, the first was shared above in my ode to the Ultimate Pretzel Rolls. The rest can be seen below.


Sounds strange to have an obsession over an inbox, but in my case it is true. I love getting mail for the business (aka: orders) or comments and emails from the blog. Either way, I get excited when I check my inbox.



Not going to lie. I already have my future puppy’s name picked out; it’s Elsie. I like Westies (and Frenchies, too) so much that my running partner, Bernard will text me how many Westies he saw on a run without me. My family has a Westie named Mackenzie (photographed) who started my love affair with the breed.

One day Erwin’s going to get me one, I just know it…. right hun?


Zig zags have my attention right now. I love how they look in bold alternating colors. So much so that I have a future project for my studio waiting to be completed incorporating lots of chevron.

My New Apartment


Yes, if you can’t tell by the recent posts, I moved to a new apartment last week which is currently taking up much of my thoughts, time, and money. It’s a labor of love that is coming together, ever so slowly.

(note: blue couch waiting patiently to be replaced by sectional)

I’m getting close to launching Madison and Wellington online. Very close. So I think it might be a good idea to give a little bit of background about how I went about creating these new collections. An introduction, if you will. First, I will share what inspired both the Madison and Wellington collections:


A scarf is not a typical launching point for jewelry. But then again, neither of these collections are typical. I’ve chosen (thanks to you, wonderful friends) to branch out, to design which I believe is edgy, polished, and timeless all at once. For the first time in my ten years of jewelry design I am taking a real leap- putting a lot of thought and effort into individuality and theme, rather than trend and marketability.

For fall, I’ve evolved from the bright, bold look of Astor to a more muted, layered look. Perfect for sweaters, dresses, holiday parties, and my ever-present cardigans. Here are glimpses of the new styles.


Both collections have one overriding theme (which you might have guessed by now) executed in very different ways. Madison is filled with dozens of small Swarovski crystals in a sophisticated palette of navy, shade, black, and plum. These pieces are labor intensive and opulent without being fussy. They can turn a simple frock into a understated canvas. Wellington on the other hand is effortless and pairs with almost everything. This collection has easy pieces for everyday and geometric statements.

I’m excited to see what you all think of each collection, and to find out if a favorite collection emerges. So be sure to share your thoughts!

The Back Story

When I first started Jess LC full-time two years ago, I was successful because I recognized what store buyers were looking for in boutique jewelry: simple, classic jewelry at an affordable price (like the State St. collection). But as I’ve evolved Jess LC‘s online presence, people are actually excited to see what the new collections will look like.

For that reason I have pushed myself, stretched my designs in new directions. And I honestly believe you all have made me a better designer because of it. So thank you. Thank you for your support, purchases, and encouragement.

Though I cannot say where this collection will land Jess LC in the months to come, I feel these collections are game-changers. I’ve finally branched beyond what is safe, and that might land me in the spotlight or obscurity. Only time will tell.

[original inspiration photo]

real life makeunder: simone’s closet

September 8th, 2009   |   ExfoliatingWardrobe

Good afternoon! I got an email last week from a Simone, of Skinny Dip. She’s a MakeunderMyLife reader and she recently completed a closet makeunder and shared the process on her blog. Of course the first thing I did was hop on over to her site and read about her new perspective on buying (it’s pretty darn similar to my own wardrobe philosophy) and then asked to share it here as well. Luckily she agreed and you can read the full process below.

Simone’s Closet Makeunder

One of my current goals is to try and live more minimally. I’ve been really inspired by Jess from Chicago’s blog Makeunder My Life. What’s a “Makeunder” you ask? You can read about here but basically it means “designing your life with intent” by subtracting things from your life that you don’t need.


Over the past year I’ve really been examining how & where I spend my money, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I realized that when I was younger (ie my late teens, when I got my first job & really started to buy all my own clothes) my shopping style was this: I’d save up and buy one or two items every month. I didn’t have a lot of clothes, but the clothes I had I loved. Oddly enough I never felt like I had “nothing to wear”. Sometime during my twenties, my shopping style evolved into what I call “Grazing”. I’d shop really randomly which meant basically whenever I walked through a mall, which was often. I also would buy things whenever I had a bad day. I ended up with a lot of clothes that didn’t work together. However, I kept shopping because I never felt like I had anything to wear.

Now that I am moving towards my 30′s I really want to shift my shopping style back to buying less, but buying better. I want to have a cohesive style that really expresses who I am, so that when people see me wearing something they say “That’s so Simone!”.

Before I get into my Wardrobe “Makeunder Strategy” that I’ve made for myself, I’ll give you a peak into my closet. Friends who have come over can testify that my closet pretty much looks like this all the time. I blame my neat-freaky nature on my German genes & the 3 years spent living in a student Co-op that had a communist-dictatorship style cleaning regime (which seems to have stuck with me).

I’d love to have a giant clothing storage space a la Sea of Shoes, but that just isn’t realistic when you’re living in an apartment in the city. Keeping things minimal is key. So here are my new rules:

1. PURGE: Get rid of everything you don’t wear, don’t love or don’t need & send it on to a new home. When I moved into this apartment I donated about 6 garbage bags full of clothes to The Goodwill. This summer I went through my closet again and found probably another 3 garbage bags full of clothes, plus about 20 pairs of shoes that I didn’t need. Combined with some other items around the house, my boyfriend and I had a killer garage sale. I really do believe that harboring stuff you don’t use is like harboring dead energy. It felt great sending all of those things onto a new home. My closet is probably the emptiest it’s been in a while, however when I look inside it feels good to only see things I truly like or love.

*Also, if there are things in your closet that you don’t wear but you still really love, try and figure out why you don’t wear them. If its something like you feel the hem is too long, get it altered. The money you’ll spend on the alterations is cheaper (and more enviro friendly) than buying a new item. I did this with a few of my dresses this season.

2. Buy Less but Buy Better: As someone who is a reformed “Grazer” I have started planning my purchases on a monthly basis. Instead of “grazing” throughout the month via after work browsing at Forever 21 and H&M, I’ll pick one or two semi-expensive “investment” items that I’ll buy each month. For example, this March I bought a classic tan trench-coat & a really great cashmere cardigan. These are both things that I know I will wear over & over again. I don’t have the budget to buy all designer clothing however I do try and buy the best possible quality that I can afford. I also try and pay attention to what things are made of & go for natural materials (wool, cotton, silk, leather for shoes & bags) whenever possible. By going for higher quality, the product lasts longer & usually comes with better service.
*By buying investment pieces I spend more on an individual item, but I find its actually now easier for me to track where my money goes. More often than not I spend less money overall because I’m not making a bunch of $20, $30, $40 impulse buys. Those purchases add up really fast but you don’t notice because it feels like you are spending less.
*I try to not shop during the rest of the month, but this isn’t always realistic. I always leave myself a little bit of gravy in case I come across a really great bargain (I love, love, love a good bargain!). I try to limit any additional shopping I do during the month & always set myself a clear budget that I stick to. I still love going to cheap chic stores like Forever 21, however when I find something I like there I’ll ask myself “Is this something trendy that I’ll wear once or twice to a club?” (in this case I don’t buy it) OR “Is this something that I’m going to wear all season (like a great tank-top that goes with a bunch of stuff)?” (in this case I will buy it).

3. The 3-way rule: No, this is not the latest dirty theory concocted by Barney on “How I Met your Mother”. When I’m considering purchasing a clothing item, I ask myself “Can I picture myself wearing this at least 3 different ways, or with 3 different outfits?”. If the answer is “NO” I generally do not buy it. Being able to walk away from a purchase once I have decided that I truly don’t need it has given me a new sense of power.

4. I’ll always love clothes: However, to stay on track with my plan I’ve been exploring other ways to make myself feel good besides shopping. I’ve started working out more, going to the library, blogging. I also attended my first Clothing Swap this spring–it was a lot of fun & I managed to score a couple of great pieces pretty much for free.

It’s all still a work in progress. My closet is emptier but inside it are things that I really love and are excited to wear again & again. It’s a good feeling.
My “nothing to wear” syndrome has been solved.

[If you’d like to share your own personal makeunder, email me at jess@jesslc.com.]

giveaway giveaway winner

September 8th, 2009   |   ExfoliatingLife

This Tuesday finds me back to work bright and early. With my move last week, I felt out of sorts with all of the disorganization. But Erwin and I were able to get some key pieces from Ikea and assemble them over the long weekend. Well, he assembled them with our friend Mike.  While I provided emotional support, creative direction, and dozens of pancakes. As the rooms take shape, I will post photos in the weeks to come.

Giveaway Giveaway Winner

(Giveaway Giveaway entry details.)

number Congratulations, Kelley of Draw Worm! Her cookbook exfoliation won her  the new Madison Double Row necklace.


end of the week exfoliation

September 4th, 2009   |   Exfoliating

I hope you have some awesome Labor Day plans lined up for yourself. I will be spending half of today completing a long training run so that the next three days and evenings are mine to spend with friends however I like. Which will include watching the Michigan game, enjoying the new roof deck, and pizza at Piece. Erwin and I are also hoping to get media storage at Ikea as well. Pizza, beer, and decorating – a perfect Labor Day weekend.

August’s End of the Week Exfoliation/Giveaway Giveaway winner will be picked and announced on Monday, so stay tuned!

End of the Week Exfoliation


“I have two belts – one in brown and one in white that don’t fit me (story of my life!). The braided part of both belts is 33 inches and the tie on each end is 16 inches.”



This pile is my exfoliation for the week. Over the past two weeks we’ve gotten rid of so much stuff it’s laughable that we still find new things to exfoliate. Nevertheless, the pile continues to grow.

the apartment: a work in progress

September 3rd, 2009   |   LifeStyle

Hi, welcome back. My name is Jess, remember me? I now have Internet and moved into the new apartment. It was quite an undertaking to say the least. Since we moved exactly one block south, we (and by “we” I mean mostly Erwin, Danny, and Mark) used grocery carts and muscles to transport all of our furniture from the jewelry studio and from the apartment we lived in. Take a look at what’s been going on so far.

The Apartment: A Work in Progress

We moved my place (the jewelry studio) on Sunday and on Monday we moved Erwin’s place (our apartment). Since I had a painter friend painting the bedrooms on Tuesday and Wednesday, we moved everything into the living room for the first two days.

Remember the living room? This is what it looked like when we saw it for the first time.


And this is what it looked like on Tuesday morning. Oy.


And this is what it looks like this morning. (The white fabric is the drying slipcover for the bedroom couch.)


This is the bedroom, painted in an awesome blue/gray paint from Behr called Silver Setting. Love it.


And this is the painted jewelry studio, in a Behr color called Summer Moon. Apparently light yellow is another word for cream.


As you can see this is a huge work in progress with a long way to go. But in the meantime we’re adjusting nicely to the extra space. Did I ever mention that our old place could be vacuumed using just one plug? Yeah.

To be continued…

Reach Out

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