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end of the week exfoliation
October 30th, 2009     |    Exfoliating

Good morning! I’m off to my second day of a Macy’s Trunk Show, stop by if you are in the city and want to chat or see the goods in person.

My weekend will commence immediately following the Trunk Show. Tonight is my friend Katheryn’s birthday trolley ride (I’ve never been on one before, but I hear they are a blast). Tomorrow I will be scrounging up some sort of passable costume for a few Halloween parties, and Sunday I hope to get some decorating projects for the living room and studio under my belt.

As for my “mental exfoliation” of the week, I’m going to exfoliate the thought “my business might be slower after the holiday season.”

What is your mental exfoliation this week?

End of the Week Exfoliation


“Some shirts I don’t wear anymore…”



This is the old table from the studio. Since I found the new marble beauty, this guy is outta here.


Finally, I have a new DESIGN YOUR LIFE to share! Thank you for your patience with this segment as I was travelling the past few weeks. Today I’m excited to share the intentions of my friend Jessica, of Polished Sense. We first met online via our blogs and Twitter. But we soon decided to meet up in real life since we both live and work in Chicago. The rest is history.

After graduating art school, Jessica decided that she was meant to stay in the fashion industry. She has created her own online shoe store and accompanying fashion blog called Polished Sense. Not only is her shoe selection well edited, but she takes it to the next level by blogging and showing how to actually incorporate the edgier styles into your existing wardrobe (something I find extremely practical). My personal suggestion is to browse her Raid My Closet series. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Jessica of Polished Sense

Every child is an artist, the trick is, finding out how to remain one.

When I was little you could catch me coloring, having marker hands, painting or down the art aisle at the toy store.  I had paper rolls, cans filled with crayons, easels and matured into a drawing desk at my home.  I was always making something.  I asked my father when I was little, “Dad, how much to artists make?”  His response was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear they make a lot of money.  From that point on, I thought art was just going to be a hobby for me, not a career.  I stopped doing what I loved for a long time to try to pursue other careers that could earn a living.  Along the way I found nothing that came close to art and how it made me feel. When I graduated high school at 18, my art teachers told me to go to art school.  I kept telling myself no, because I had to do something else with my life if I wanted to make an honest living someday.

So off I went onto my big ten college lifestyle. After graduating college, I made a very big decision. This decision was to go on to art school and find my passion again, which I did and am ever so grateful for that experience. After graduating design school I realized it was time for me to do what I love and to make a career out of it. Here I am today running my own company, Polished Sense.

Live Artfully


Everything I see in front of me turns into art.  I love to design and I love to be different.  One of my favorite quotes is, “To be human is to be creative. You don’t have to go outside yourself to find creativity – you already have it.  It lives in your heart and mind every moment of every day” by Joseph Chilton Pearce. I don’t even think about it anymore, I just do it.  No fear, no questions, it just has to happen.  When I design, I see the color wheel, one of my favorite things as a child. It’s my true inspiration, which is why I call myself the Fashion Artist.

Dress Up & Go All-Out


One of my favorite things to do is dress up.  I love putting outfits together and accessorizing them. I love to perfect the look and make it “pop”.  My theory for styling is to always make a statement.  I love to create looks that stand out.  I feel that when you go out, why not go all-out? My inspiration is texture, color and fine detail.  Where do you find your inspiration to dress up?

Express Your Love


My loved ones know that I love them.  Even if the love is obvious, the ones that are most important still need to hear it.  I love to share what’s mine with great company.  One of my favorite things to do is to create for others.  There are many ways I express this such as; cooking for a crowd, putting together a flower arrangement to say thanks or designing a hair piece for my best friend’s wedding, it’s endless. I even make soup mixes in a jar and all they have to do is add the water, it’s great for all my friends who do not cook.  I am always finding ways to do what I love and to share it with people that surround me. I look forward to going places, doing exciting things and experiencing these adventures with the ones I love.

Do What You Are

We all have that special “X factor”. It took me awhile to figure it out, but now I can accept who I am and where I came from. It is what gave me my strength to go on to live my lifestyle. “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong” – Joseph Chilton Pearce. (Another favorite of mine.) Now I have my own life and my own goals.  My very first goal on my list, is to never give up.  Once you figure out what it is that you love, you should do it.  Most of the time it’s right under your nose. I know that I’m creative and that’s what I plan to do from here on out, and I’ll figure it out along the way.  I hope all of you to do the same for yourself. 🙂

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

off the chain: macy’s trunk show thurs + fri
October 28th, 2009     |    Life


And for those who can’t visit the Windy City, check out Jess LC here.

new white marble studio table
October 28th, 2009     |    LifeStyle

I’m in love. I went thrifting at the local White Elephant for some cool figures to spray-paint last Friday. As I browsed, I noticed a beautiful white marble farm table but passed it by since I have a great new glass table for the dining room.


But you know, I’m intentionally obsessed with white marble.

Two days later I realized it would be perfect for the jewelry studio!

So after a dozen phone calls and a special delivery, the white table and I are now family. Take a look at the before and after of the old table vs. the new.


The old table was nice, but nothing special and added darkness to a room without overhead lighting.

Voila! A brighter, sturdier, and oh so beautiful work surface.


I also love the contrast between the modern chairs and the old Italian marble. So chic. All it needs is a yellow rug beneath.

Who knows, maybe one day this table will become an island of my future kitchen.

And the best part? It only cost me a grand total of $85*!

* Price is including shipping fee, 50% discount, tax, and funds from the old black table sold on Criags List.

apartment design plan a la “kelly + olive”
October 27th, 2009     |    LifeStyle

I. Am. So. Excited.

As I’ve mentioned, running has been replaced with decorating this fall. I’ve been getting things together using lots of ideas I’ve gathered from design blogs and from a custom moodboard Lauren and Courtney of Kelly + Olive drew up for me. Though we’ve been friends since co-creating Chiblogo, I’ve never had the chance to use their services until now. And I have to say, they are super easy to work with and I highly recommend picking their brains if you are doing a room re-design yourself.

As a jewelry designer and avid decorating fan, I thought I could do the rooms all by myself. And I could have. But they wouldn’t quite have the same polish and freshness that I wanted without an expert(s) opinion.

Check out what they came up with for my new apartment.

Kelly + Olive Moodboard



Love this room! At first I was a bit unsure about the patterned rug, but when I saw a room shot with it, I knew they were right. The price however was a bit too steep for me, so I passed and decided to go with another suggestion Courtney made from Overstock.com. I also found very similar pillows on Overstock. I adore the boot umbrella holder and hope to get it in the weeks to come.

As for the coffee table, though I think it’s awesome, I’m not sure we will have space for it in our living room.


This dining room combination is perfect. The table and chairs are now in place and the flower painting is ready to be hung. I like the accessories and might get them for the holidays.

For the time being, I’m going to stick to a beige rug I already have and swap that awesome aqua blue color for the living room.


Of course, I love the chevron project (I’ve been thinking and thinking about it for months). I also think the acrylic chairs rock, but since I already have awesome Room & Board chairs, I am going to stick with them.

The chandelier is a great example of why I asked for C+L opinions’, I never would have considered that fixture, but I think I might get it! We could certainly use more light in the studio during the dark Chicago winter.


Yellow! I can’t seem to get enough yellow lately. So the Flor tiles are awesome and when I have some extra cash to spend, I plan on getting them.


I love the idea of yellow, black, gray, and white – these items or something similar will definitely find a home in the new studio.

If you are as smitten as I am with Courtney and Lauren’s ideas, feel free to get your own custom moodboard at Kelly + Olive.

reader inspiration
October 26th, 2009     |    Life

Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. Over the past two days I’ve managed to finally get my new dining room table(!) and the new rug is waiting for me in the package room.


A while back, I elicited the help of Lauren and Courtney of Kelly + Olive to get a fresh perspective and expert advice on decorating the new place. They had some great ideas which I’ve been taking to heart. I’ll share their suggestions and inspiration tomorrow.

Reader Inspiration

Today I’d like to share an email I got from a Makeunder reader. I’ve asked her to share the letter here on the blog because though she wrote it as a thank you for me, I think a lot of people will be inspired by her courage.

Here’s what she shared,

I wanted to send a thank you note for the inspiration that you have been to me through your blog. I found your blog about three weeks ago and immediately gravitated to your ideas re: living an intentional life, weekly exfoliation, designing your life. I recently turned 26 and up until last Friday I was doing a lot of pretending. I had a career that was not a good fit for me; but because of family expectations, money and status I kept trying to make it work. This week is my first week on an unpaid leave- I’m taking three months to understand myself and re-evaluate my values. For the first time ever- I really feel like I can design my life! I was so happy to find your blog, learn new tips and know that there are others out there on a path less traveled. Thank you for being so awesome!

Though many people tell me that they are inspired by my business or career path, this woman’s choice has inspired me. I decided to start my business full-time right after college so I would not need to leave a cushy paycheck. I vividly remember my dad telling me as a high school senior that I should start my business right out of college – he said leaving a secure salary to start a company would be too hard to do. He believed that if I worked for a major marketing firm like many of my business school peers, the pressure and lifestyle I’d grow accustomed to would be too dear to leave.

I took his advice to heart.

Five years later when I announced that I would indeed start Jess LC full-time in Chicago after graduation, I’m sure my dad gulped behind his collar. It’s one thing to speak theoretically about self-employment, and another to actually follow that path.

So with that in mind, reading this letter I have shared obviously hit me in a unique way. This reader has had the courage to take a step back, evaluate her life, and choose to make a different decision. There is more sacrifice on her side of the equation than mine. And I think among those reading this blog, more fall in this reader’s shoes than my own.

Many readers have shared similar intentions of re-evaluating their careers. And I hope this single letter can inspire others in her position to redesign their lives as well.

end of the week exfoliation
October 23rd, 2009     |    Exfoliating

I hope you have a great weekend! I will be enjoying a massage and manicure in exactly one hour, courtesy of Erwin.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hit the farmers market in the morning and do some treasure scouting at the White Elephant. And I can’t wait for my new rug to arrive.

End of the Week Exfoliation

I’d like to start off this week’s End of the Week Exfoliation by introducing a new exfoliation idea from a reader (we’ll call her “L.C.”). She suggested that we incorporate exfoliating “metal clutter” as well as physical clutter. I think this is an excellent idea.

So here’s my Mental Exfoliation this week: I’m going to exfoliate the thought that “I don’t deserve to enjoy the afternoon off from work for a massage.

How about you? What’s your Mental Exfoliation this week?


“The exfoliation tally for this week includes a chair, four pairs of shoes, four coats/jackets, three shirts, some earrings, a hat, one pair of capris, and these classics. Geesh, I’m a pack rat!”

S.E. Minegar

Some nice dresses that just don’t fit right anymore…”
These are my old inserts for my running shoes. I got new ones earlier this summer. Why they are still sitting in my closet is beyond me. Time to remedy that.
san fran: part two
October 23rd, 2009     |    Life

Happy weekend! I’ll start off by saying that the End of the Week Exfoliation will be coming later this afternoon.

For now I’ll share how the race and the rest of our trip went.

Random Side Notes


I didn’t mention it yesterday, but we stayed at the Hotel Monaco. It was a beautiful hotel and I would definitely recommend it for anyone visiting the city who wants to stay downtown.


On the way back from Boudin, we took a trolley ride back to our hotel. It was incredible to see all those hills in an urban area.


And of course I couldn’t leave without seeing the famous Panted Ladies on Steiner St.

Nike Women’s Marathon


When we began the race it was clear, Bernard’s idea to meet some ladies was a good one. The race was only 5% male.


The race was a good one. We took the first half about 1 minute to 1.5 minutes slower per mile than normal on account of the hills. This turned out to be an excellent idea because we were able to drop 10 minutes off the second half of the race and we finished strong. That’s us there in the peach and yellow. Erwin followed us via text messages and ran with us for a few hundred meters at mile 15. We ended up finishing just under 4 hours and 50 minutes. Not my fastest race, but I felt great.


As we were told, we got Tiffany & Co. necklaces instead of medals. They were handed out by cute firemen wearing tuxedos. On a red carpet no less. Talk about a women’s marathon.


And as for our plan to hook Bernard up with some hotties… we got a few calls, texts, and introductions during the race. And we heard laughter the whole race coming from those who saw the message behind us.

Napa and Sonoma Valley


Erwin took a flight after the race home for work. On Monday, Bernard and I stayed and rented a car to explore Napa and Sonoma. We stopped for a quick photo on the way.


The weather was all over the place. It rained on and off 17 times that day. Which meant we saw three rainbows including two rainbow tails!


We ended up tasting wine at two wineries, Murphy-Goode and Pine Ridge. I remembered Murphy-Goode from a blog I read months ago and Pine Ridge is the maker of my favorite wine, Chenin Blanc-Viognier.


The winery was beautiful and had a lot of tours and activities for those who have time to explore.

Overall, it was a great trip and we covered a lot of miles and sites along the way. I have to give a huge shout out to Bernard, who was part friend, tour guide, and running partner along the way.

san fran: part one
October 22nd, 2009     |    Life

Hello, good morning, and welcome back! I am excited to share some highlights from my trip. I decided to split the recap into two parts. This first one includes the activities of Saturday including touring Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, and eating at an enchanted bakery called Boudin. Take a look.

Tomorrow there will be a full marathon and wine country recap.

Alcatraz Tour


Many friends and readers suggested to tour Alcatraz, so we decided to do it first thing on Saturday morning. It was a good decision. We had a great time and I found myself creepily fascinated by the history. Definitely not for young kids, but worth a trip if you visit SF.


The guys played it cool on the boat ride there. Just seeing an old “Super Max,” no biggie.


I was so thankful that Erwin took the time out of his busy work schedule to make the trip. It was a great chance to get some new photos together.


The island was also a great place for photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.

On the Pier(s) and Fisherman’s Wharf


The Piers reminded me of Navy Pier in Chicago. Full of touristy goodies that beg the question, “who buys this stuff?


A new look for our president.


A must have for all young children. Brooke, I apologize that I didn’t find this until after your baby shower.


Loving the water. Little did I know that just around the corner there were….


SEA LIONS! This was one of my favorite moments of the entire trip. Dozens (maybe hundreds) of sea lions crowded floating docks napping, fighting, barking, and resting. It was like a sea lion house party at 4am.

Eating at Boudin


After wandering around all morning, we were ready to carb load for the race. My friend, Kaitlyn, suggested we try Boudin at the Wharf for lunch. Her recommendation did not disappoint. Here’s a little tour of this amazing store and restaurant.


A few minutes into my visit I noticed baskets of sourdough bread rotating around the perimeter of the store.


Their bread was pretty incredible. I especially liked the creatures they created.

Here are a few of the options.


This could be an easy holiday project to try for any foodies out there.


Isn’t this the cutest baby alligator? In case you are wondering where it’s mother is…


I found her near the kitchen.


The bakery is kind of like a Panera-meets-the-Lincoln-Park-Zoo.


And of course, they have regular loaves as well.

back in action
October 21st, 2009     |    Life


Good afternoon (and to some, good evening)! I am back from my trip to California. With my birthday followed directly with the San Francisco trip and marathon, I’m kind of readjusting to life post-whirlwind. Thank you so much for your thoughts and encouragement on my aging and race. It’s was so nice to see all of the comments and emails as I was traveling via Blackberry. But now it’s time to actually get caught up on responding to those nice thoughts on a real computer.

Today’s my first day back in the office and I’m excited to share photos and stories from the trip. I had a wonderful time exploring the city and wine country with Bernard and Erwin. As you can see above, we had a blast (that’s us on the tour of Alcatraz).

And in case you are wondering, the marathon was awesome. I’ll share more about that in the days to come. Now that I’m back to “real life” after the marathon, I’ve decided to fill that space and energy in my life with decorating the apartment. So there will be much more to come in the next few weeks.

Brooke’s Oh Baby Shower


While I was away Brooke of Oh Brooke had the Oh Baby Shower I “threw her” via the interwebs. I would like to thank everyone that sent her thoughts, wishes, and gifts. Congratulations, Brooke!

(PS– I would also like to make a shout out to Brooke for doing the little fall makeover on MakeunderMyLife- you might notice that I’ve gone with a dark orange accent color with a light chevron(!!) background on the blog through the colder months.)

running and exploring in san francisco
October 19th, 2009     |    Life

As you read this Bernard, my running partner, and I have completed the San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon. Though I am writing this on Thursday, 10/15, I’m sure the course is going to be hilly and our legs are going to be sore.

There is a very good chance that at this very moment we are heading to explore Napa Valley or Sonoma and get a good wine buzz worked up to dull the pain. I’ll have lots to share when I get back on Wednesday or Thursday.

Until then, I would like to share Bernard’s running shirt he sported during the race. From the front, it’s rather unassuming. Lots of people run with their names on their shirts for cheering fans. The back of the shirt however, has a little story to tell.



As you can see, Bernard is a smart cookie. When I asked him to train for this Women’s Marathon back in February, I’m sure he did a quick calculation of women to men (he’s in accounting, after all) in this race, and decided the odds were in his favor. He’s been planning this message for over a week. In order to show my support, the back of my shirt will read Wing Woman.

I’ll fill you in on how it went in the next few days.

end of the week exfoliation
October 16th, 2009     |    Exfoliating

Good morning and good weekend! I am on my way to the airport for the San Francisco trip with Bernard. Our flight is not until 1:35, but we are going to try do a standby flight to snag first-class seats if we can. I’m so excited to visit California for the first time, run the marathon, and drink wine where it’s actually grown.

We have also heard good things about the Alcatraz tours, so we’re going to that tomorrow morning. Erwin will be heading to San Fran later tonight to cheer us on. And with any luck, he’ll be ringing a cow bell, too :).

End of the Week Exfoliation


“Some “out of style” clothes that I thought I would recycle…”



These boots have a wonderful vintage look to them. But I’ve fallen in love with a new pair of brown boots from Polished Sense and don’t need two pairs of brown boots in my closet. So Susie gets these little guys to wear around town.













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