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teri’s designed life
May 31st, 2010     |    Life

I hope you have a great Memorial Day planned! I myself am planning on a day of relaxing, running, and continuing to perfect my football throwing abilities with Erwin in the park. I’m getting better every time.

Today I’d like to share a sneak peek into the life of one of the amazing people who applied to be a Dream Reporter. Her story touched me so much I knew I needed to share her story here on MML. With Teri’s permission, I present her Designed Life.


Teri’s Designed Life

My personal statement is “endlessly learning, and searching for things that inspire me or at least make me smile.” My overall dream is to Live a Handmade Life. I have the intention to live a creative life, and develop my art business I formed a few years ago called Vieira Girl that until recently was just a hobby a creative outlet for me.

I have taken drastic steps in my life as of December and quit my job, bought a condo and recently retired at age 31. I know the idea of retiring at age 31 is strange but actually for someone like me it is pretty much unheard of working that long.  My life started off with me being born with the right half of my heart missing.  My childhood consisted of two parts trying to be a normal child and endless days, weeks, and even months in a hospital. To this day that hospital till seems more like home then most places I have lived in my life.  My defect can never be cured so I constantly have to have heart operations every few years to keep things working correctly.  Needless to say I was discouraged from ever going to college, living on my own, and working a full time job. All of which I insisted that I do.  I did it for a few reasons, one because I thought the experience would outweigh the side affect of my disease, and one because people expect you to do them and the satisfaction of doing something that you were told you never would do by some is motivation enough.

It wasn’t till I was 30 when I realized this wasn’t fun anymore, I cherished everything I did but I woke up one day and realized that I was  just surviving to get through the day. I was in a job  I didn’t  love,  and  an apartment that was falling apart with a landlord who didn’t seem to care , and a boyfriend who moved to Europe to follow his dreams of becoming a professor.  So I gave myself a year to really decide if struggling everyday thru the pain of this disease was worth what I was getting from life.  The answer was no. So I decided to retire from working, and pursue what I really love.

So I downsized my life, I had an apartment of things I accumulated from 10 years of living and working in the Boston, and I bought a one room condo/ loft in a suburb by the sea in Massachusetts. I only brought items that I loved, that I needed, and that would inspire me to create the life I wanted.  I moved into my home in late January.  I quickly realized unpacking my stuff in my new place that I was lost.  I somehow thought that if I just changed my life dramatically that I would know what I wanted.  I was so wrapped up for years going thru the motions of day to day; I didn’t really stop to realize that I got lost somewhere. I was so busy trying to keep on pushing, just hoping that my next great experience will be worth the physical pain that I never realized I lost who I really was.  So when I didn’t have that daily routine, the daily struggle I have to say I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I spent February trying to recover, and relax and just try to regroup myself. Don’t get me wrong the last 10 years of living on my own, working, traveling, and friends all those experiences were worth it and I would do it all over again. It just got to the point when it wasn’t and I guess I realized that I lost myself along the way. As March approached I found myself dreaming again, feeling inspired by things.  So I set for some personal and professional goals both of which I hope I will find myself again in the process or rather the journey it would lead me on.

My overall goal is to Live a Handmade Life, which I started a blog about last year, I really like to develop that over the next year. Living A Handmade Life to me, is about incorporating good pure food, quality products and  giving one a sense of being able to create things that not only will make life better but also will make us better people. So in order to start myself in this journey of Living in a Handmade Life, I broke down this year’s intentions into personal and professional as follows.

My personal goal this year is to get in the best shape, and to be a healthy as I can.  Due to my heart defect the concept of running off my extra weight isn’t one that I can ever do.  I will never be able to run. Exercise for me consist of walking or riding a bike and while I was working I was putting my body under too much stress already I was not able to exercises much for years.  Now I am feeling better and have energy again I am starting my journey on getting healthy and in shape.  As of April I started doing moderate exercise and now I am starting on a new healthy eating plan involving organic foods.

My professional goal is to define what direction Vieira Girl is going. Develop a business plan, product line ideas, and challenge my creativity.  Vieira Girl mission statement “creating items to inspire” the concept of loving ever item I am selling and being inspired by what I create.

Needless to say, I just started my journey to Live a Handmade  Life all though it has started dramatically  with me deciding that I need to live for myself, and not waste time on doing thing I do not love doing, and really trying to find myself again.  I know how precious life is, and have battled the thin line of life and death way to many times for comfort , but I have to say I think that in doing so I have a sense of life and it’s unbelievable beauty and  I already love every breath I get from living it.

Okay, confession time: for some reason or another, my enthusiasm has been waning on the End of the Week Exfoliation posts for about a month or so. I thought it was just me being lazy (it can take me about 40 minutes to re-size the submission photos, upload comments, and add links for these posts). But really, I think it’s just time that I take the summer off and come back to this series in the fall. That said, I still definitely plan to exfoliate items in my life that aren’t needed/used/or loved any longer, and I hope that everyone else continues to do the same.

Plus I have a fun summer exfoliation challenge that I’m going to announce next week which will replace this series in June. I’ll give you a very obtuse clue: it has to do with bikini season.

End of the Week Exfoliation

“We have two spare rooms in our house– one of which has only been used a handful of times since we moved in 4 years ago.  So, we decided we’re going to change the room into something a little more useful.  We listed the full size mattress/box spring/frame and wrought-iron end table on Craigslist.  We had inquiries the next day!”


“Here is to exfoliating!  Now, why do I need so many food containers…I don’t even cook.  Enough said.”

(see below)
My neighbourhood is having a big yard sale for Habitat for Humanity this weekend (http://planetpalmerston.blogspot.com/). I’ve got two big shopping bags worth of stuff to contribute, including 8 books, a Gilmore Girls dvd, high heeled boots that aren’t my style, a pair of heels that always give me blisters, a teal shade for a lamp I no longer have, a hat, novelty heart-shaped sunglasses, a kitchen scale (was given a new digital one), two photo albums, two picture frames, an alarm clock, a change purse, a laptop adaptor, earbud headphones, and a clothes drying rack. Feels great to get it all out of the apartment for a good cause!”
“A pile of clothing that didn’t fit anymore that went to a local consignment shop.”
“A pile of clothing that didn’t fit anymore that was donated.”

I have owned these two packs of folders for years and never found a use for them. If anyone in the Chicago area wants to come pick them up in Lakeview and give them a new life, let me know! They would cost more to ship than they are really worth.

piper’s dream report: week four
May 28th, 2010     |    Life

My life feels like an amusement park lately.  As I take baby steps out of dream world and into the real world of launching my store, I’m finding that I’m experiencing emotions like never before.  It’s like riding a roller coaster of emotions…the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows.  And quite frankly, it would be perfectly fine if it weren’t for those terrifying lows…the ones that make me doubt myself or make me feel like I want to quit (daily sometimes!)…before I’ve even really tried.  All because it’s SCARY.  I’m being faced daily with facing my fears head on…and I can tell that my fingers are digging in deep, they don’t want to be pried from the safety and beautiful fantasy of dream world.

I started my week with the wonderful feeling of being on track.  I had my game plan from the consultant, my new schedule of working on the blog one day and the store the next and I felt for a brief moment “hey, this is starting to come together”.  All I have to do right now is focus on compiling images together of products that I’m interested in carrying.  Easy peasy, right?  I’ve already done the leg work (as in years and years spent pouring over design magazines, websites and blogs and putting all the designers I love onto a spreadsheet).

BUT as I’m taking these steps towards the real world, my confidence seems to waver daily.  I started putting images together of all the products and designers I’ve compiled over the years.  And honestly it’s cool seeing them together.  It’s the first time I’m taking this step…actually putting the products together and seeing what they look like together.  And the good news is that there really is an aesthetic to the products I want to offer!

BUT, I started questioning this.  It’s definitely my style – I would buy any and all of these items.  BUT, as I looked at these images versus the way I decorate my house I became worried.  My decorating style at home is modern classic – I love modern lines but not trendy.  As I looked at the items I want to offer in my store, I started wondering all sorts of things…are they too trendy?  are they too young-skewing?  what is the aesthetic??  It’s a challenge to find modern classic items – that are affordable – something I’m a big believer in.  Do I have enough of those products?  I can say that I do have a fun, whimsical quality to my décor – and this definitely fits in with the products I’m looking at offering.  BUT am I only offering fun, whimsical items and not enough modern classic?

So, as you can see, more questions are starting to arise.  Not fun, dream world questions either…actual questions concerning the direction of the store and what kind of store it will actually be.  And here’s where my perfectionism comes in to play.  I don’t necessarily know the answers…so my confidence plummets.  Questions like:  What do these products together say about my store?  Is this what I envisioned?  What if no one likes these products?  Do these products even go together?  What makes me different from others?  And the biggie…Can I even do this?  Oh, self doubt is terrible isn’t it?

And to top it all off, I have a big problem…have you noticed it?  Don’t laugh…BUT, I have a “BUT” problem.  And not the Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back” kind of problem…the “I tend to start & end all my sentences with the word “BUT” kind of problem.  I’ve already counted 5 of them!  I’m beginning to wish I never learned that word (honestly though, I’d just start using a word like “except”…I’m crafty that way!)  “But” really just means that I’m shaking in my shoes…”but” is my way of putting the brakes on and questioning everything…What if I fail?  What if I lose money?  What if no one goes to my store?  And it’s tiring thinking this way!  No wonder I feel like I’m on a roller coaster!

I want to have a “who gives a damn” attitude!  I want to be that person that says “you know what, I like these products so I’m leaping in with both feet and people will show up”!  I loved the line that Brigitte left in her comment the other week.  It’s from Seth Godin: “Write your interests down, circle one and don’t work on anything else until you succeed.”  That really struck a cord with me.  Somehow when you think about it that way it doesn’t seem as scary.  Like if I don’t do anything but work towards my goal of opening my store, how could I not in some way succeed?  BUT…

See…I feel like I want to qualify that statement.  Guess what though?  I’m putting my foot down…I’m not going to do it!  I’m choosing to believe that statement today – I’ve worked hard to get to this point.  And if I can one day say the words “my store’s grand opening is today” then that’s at least something I’ve never done before!

So in order to be able to say that – I have to confront these questions.  I’ve already started by continuing to create these product catalogs.  I’ve also asked friends to look at them to get their feedback (it’s amazing how that helped – sometimes other people not as invested in the outcome can see things that you can’t).  And finally, the reason I’ve been putting these images together is so that I can show them to my consultant and she can give me her opinion and feedback.

And honestly…I see the inkling of a store now.  Not just a dream world store…a real, live, “I’m running it” store!!

I can see how pulling these items together gives me a sense now of who my customers will be and how it can be branded. It’s still a bit fuzzy, but hopefully as I keep taking these baby steps it’ll get more and more in focus!

what if we all had this attitude?
May 27th, 2010     |    Life

I think the world would be a better place. 🙂

Good morning! Thank you to everyone who watched my OWN Show video and voted! I can’t thank you enough! And if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you can do so here.

In other news, MML was featured on the awesome, incredible, and fantastic Bright Side Project yesterday. Below you can see my current list of intentional obsessions. And it gets better: hop on over to BSP and enter the giveaway the winner will receive:

One lucky winner is going to have delivered to their front door the following (1) Pom Pom Throw Blanket from Mod Cloth (1) One pair of Jack Purcell Converse Shoes from Need Supply co. (1) Jess LC  Division Chevron bracelet ($48 USD value), (1) Pair Jess LC Division Chevron earrings ($74 USD value). To enter to win by Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

[Thanks to BSP for the images!]

how you can help me
May 26th, 2010     |    ExfoliatingLifeStyle

First, I’ll state the obvious: Yes, my face looks more than a bit strange in that shot. Gotta love web video screen selection, right?

What might be less obvious is what this video is for. Yesterday I found out from a friend that Oprah’s new network, OWN, is hosting a tv show which is giving ten people a shot at creating the television show of their dreams.

And as I’ve said in the past, the reason I have chosen to be self-employed is to eventually “design my life” and spread the message of making under and designing a life with intention. Believe it or not, the idea for my book (which is now in this blog form) was ultimately from an idea for a tv show. A new style of makeover show – a makeunder show.

Growing up I always loved a good makeover show whether it be focusing on the house, room, wardrobe, or hairstyle. I’d always end up inspired and full of ideas – which were largely unrealistic for my budget. What I would like to do with MakeunderMyLife is create a program where I help different people each show “design their life” and then makeunder their spaces. Using the same four steps I recommend here on the blog, Create a Vision, Exfoliate Stuff, Intentional Obsessions, and Reflect and Evolve I will show how these steps apply to the person in the show.

More importantly, I see this show concept as a way to help expand what I’ve already started here on MML- I want to create an online place for community, chats, and support for people designing their life with intention. I envision adding a space for people to submit their own videos explaining why they should be the next participant on the show. I want to have a place where people who do their at home makeunders can upload their story and images. The best part of making under is that it applies to people of all walks of life, all income levels, and is easy to do right away.

If you like this idea and think it has potential, please click over to watch the video and to vote. I’ve genuinely appreciated your support here on MML and I thank you for helping me take my message to the next level. And if you feel super strongly about it and you’d like to share the video with your own friends and family to help me make my dreams come true, I’d be indescribably thankful.

THINK ABOUT IT: who’s talking?
May 26th, 2010     |    Think About It

This THINK ABOUT IT has been something I’ve been working on personally since last November. What I have learned over the past several months is that there are two parts to myself, one sits just within my right ear and the other resides deep within my core. Since discovering these two different thought sources, I have felt like a referee or judge listening to two lawyers debate. Before this, the lawyer that shouted the loudest usually got my attention and vote. But I’ve been learning to listen to both arguments calmly and then choosing to pick the point of view I know to be true.

This is rather revolutionary for me because up until this point, my default mode of existence assumed that these two voices were coming from the same source: from my head or “myself.” Now that I’ve been able to really dissect the two characters, I’ve been able to more easily identify which one is speaking and what their motivations are. In turn, I’m now better able to make decisions that are aligned with what I really want, rather than short-term satisfaction followed by remorse or condemnation. This practice is a lot like meditation for sure, though I haven’t spent a moment on a mat or cushion – it’s all been done throughout my daily life.

Here’s what I’ve learned about each of the voices:

The Voice in My Ear – Otherwise known as my Ego

This voice is by far the most chatty of the two. It whispers to me thoughts that it thinks are “good” and “bad.” For most of my life I unconsciously believed this voice was the wisest of the two lawyers because it was louder and closer to my brain. If it feels closer to my thought process than it must be wise, right?


Earlier this week it struck me that perhaps this voice feels as though it’s in my ear because it repeats a lot of beliefs and fears that I hear from society or people in my life. So quite literally everything I’ve heard is then sitting just within the ear waiting to repeat itself to me when I’m in the midst of a tough decision.

This voice is hard to ignore because it is actually very “smart.” It has tons of facts, statistics, personal examples, and thrives on information. It is also the source of almost all the thoughts in my life that begin with the phrases “I think,” “I feel,” “I should,” “What if,” “I fear,” “I deserve,” “I want.”

Those phrases for most of my life have been powerful and persuasive enough for me to follow them quite a bit of the time. In the past, when one of those trump cards came out of the Voice in my Ear, the debate was usually over. But when looking retrospectively on the outcomes of those decisions, they usually were lined with guilt, inadequacy, or disappointment. The short-term reward was generally high, while the long term result left me feeling a bit empty inside.

The Voice inside my Gut – Otherwise known as my Spirit, Connection, or Intuition

On the other hand, the voice inside my core has been a much more mysterious character in my life. Rather than fight with my Ego and participate in the shouting match, my Gut often decided to sit those arguments out. Though I’ve always been one to follow my Gut on really big decisions like where to live, what my purpose is, and how to grow my business, I usually ruled my daily decisions in favor of the Ego. But the more I’ve been able to tap into this well of wisdom, the better my life has become.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my intuition: It doesn’t “think.” Which is probably the number one reason my ego has been able to win so many small battles. As a society, we are trained to think and make “informed” decisions. And anything that doesn’t use a fact or emotion to back up it’s argument has a snowball’s chance in hell at surviving in a courtroom. But here’s the Gut’s magic sauce (ew, that sounds kind of gross, but stay with me here), the gut simply knows what to do.

That’s it.

The gut knows what the right thing to do is.

Rather than spew information like the Ego’s fountain, the gut is a deep well of knowledge. It’s kind of like the saying by Henry David Thoreau that I ironically chose as my high school senior quote:

“Once I forgot all I learned, then I began to know.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Doesn’t this sound amazing? I’m sure some of you have also recognized the knowing power of our Guts. But often, we continue to default to the Ego’s argument for another reason:

Sometimes the Gut doesn’t know the correct outcome to a situation at a specific moment, sometimes it’s advice is to wait patiently for the answer to be revealed.

Yep, I’ll say it again:

Sometimes the Gut doesn’t know the correct outcome to a situation at a specific moment, sometimes it’s advice is to wait patiently for the answer to be revealed.

That’s where life gets uncertain, uneasy, uncomfortable. I get itchy.

And I end up rushing to the Ego’s facts and figures to make a decision, because all I want is to control the outcome to this situation or that problem. I want to be attached to a certain conclusion which I “think” is in my own short-term best interest or at least take a vacation from the uncomfortable.

But, I always “know” the right thing to do is wait patiently for the Gut.

So what do I do when there is a Ego/Gut debate?

So now, during my Ego/Gut arguments I ask myself : “What do I think?” And “What do I know?” I let both sides make their statements and then, I do my best to stick with the knowing. Though it often isn’t my favorite decision which will lead to a sense of (sick) satisfaction or short-term happiness, it does leave me inevitably peaceful.

And you know what? I’ve also come to do a bit of prayer when I’m having a particularly hard time with something. I ask that the volume on the knowing gets turned up so loudly that it drowns the thoughts that are shouting from my ear. I ask that it overshadows all the fears and leaves me with no choice but to follow the right path. And whether you believe in a higher power or not, I think the simple act of asking to hear your Gut more clearly also helps you intentionally pay closer attention to that source within yourself.

In summary, I think what all of this really boils down to is the question: Do I want what’s in my best interest or self-interest?

leigh’s “designed life”
May 25th, 2010     |    Life

Today I have an incredible Designed Life to share with you. From what started as a simple but intriguing comment on a post I wrote a while back, I have met Leigh of An American Girl in Cambodia and asked her to share her incredible story here on MML in it’s entirety. Read on, it’s an incredible look at what is possible even during a tough recession (or maybe even because of it?).


Leigh’s Designed Life

I’ve always been a wanderlust. I’ve always loved travel and adventure. I’ve always believed that the journey is more important then the destination and that everything happens for a reason.

I’ve always wanted to be of service, but I knew that swinging hammers or building latrines wasn’t right for me. I like fashion, theater and reality television. I want to wear dresses, ridiculous earrings and stacks of bangles to work. I want to be able to do good without giving up the things I enjoy.

Last fall I received the opportunity of a lifetime. I was asked to move to Siem Reap, Cambodia to launch a socially-based weaving business conceived from a simple loom, a need and a thread. So one week before my 27th birthday in December, I hopped on a plane and moved across the globe sight unseen.

While I never dreamed that life would lead me here, looking back it all makes sense. Everything did in fact happen for a reason. Every twist, turn, challenge and triumph was necessary.

I think the road that brought me to Siem Reap started in college. I might have been upset at the time, but ultimately I should thank my parents for insisting that I pursue a second, more practical, degree in addition to theater. Fully expecting to double major in English, I took a political theory class my freshman year to fulfill general education requirements at Drew University. As they say, the rest is history. I loved the exploration of power – both on stage and in politics. I’m certain that the combination of training in the creative process as a theater director while also honing analytic skills in the political science department led me to develop skills as a “pragmatic visionary”.  Throughout my career, I’ve been looked to as a bridge between creative teams and those who are less creatively inclined because I can usually understand the needs of both and negotiate a compromise.

I moved to New York with the intention to thrive in the theater scene. I had high hopes, but the city that never sleeps had other plans. While assistant directing for off-off shows and the fringe festival, I found (like so many theater artists) that I was going to have to find a day job to support myself. After stints as a temp at a couple of financial firms, I finally landed at an iconic fashion brand. The Chief Creative Director and I spoke the same design language (despite the fact that I cut my teeth in theater and she in fashion) and one thing led to another and I became a full-time employee supporting the Chief Creative Director and Director of Visual + Creative Services.

I started a crash course learning about pattern, fabric, color, print + graphic design and the fashion world. I realized that fashion design teams function similarly to theatrical design teams. I felt at home and excited to be involved in the creative process in a completely new capacity. I soaked up information about product development, worked one-on-one with a designer to refine her collections and did as much trend research as time would allow. Little did I know that in a few short years I would find myself across the globe in charge of design, product development and sourcing for a new brand!
The recession hit and my position was eliminated in the fall of 2008. I freaked out. I panicked. I got lucky and found a freelance gig helping to launch a new e-commerce site. I watched an amazing entrepreneur build her business from the ground up. I had my hand in product development, web design, graphic design, public relations, branding and marketing. After six months, the freelance contract ended and I found myself at square one again. I was in a frantic space, grasping at any and every job opportunity. Applying for jobs that I had no interest in or qualifications for at all hours of the day and night. Let’s be honest, employers don’t like desperate. And boy could they sense my desperation.

Burnt out and unsure of what to do next, I stopped and took a step back. I recognized that I was experiencing information overload and couldn’t possibly compute all the possibilities. I knew that I wasn’t going to find a job while I was such a hot mess. So, I took a breather. It was late spring and I knew I needed time. I gave myself the summer. I told myself not to fret being unemployed, that things would work themselves out and that I would really start to put a plan together in September. I set the deadline then promptly let go of it.

During this time, my mentor (who had moved to Cambodia to open her own brand and store) was back in New York and wanted to introduce me to a fellow dreamer who had founded an NGO in Cambodia. Since I was unemployed and had nothing but free time, I made my way into the city to hear all about the amazing things that dreamer was doing. I did something completely new for me – I told him I admired the work he did and would love to be a part of it. At that point, it was one of my rare moments of opening up and staking a claim on the life I wanted. Both my mentor and the dreamer returned to Siem Reap. I felt good about opening up. I gave myself permission to think about what I wanted. I gave myself permission to dream.

Photo Credit, Jessica Swift

I spent the summer dreaming. I blogged. I relaxed. I rested and refueled. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. We watched old and new movies and ate tons of lunches at the diner. I did a lot of soul searching. I scoured the internet for bloggers and personal development gurus who spoke to the type of person I wanted to be. I added Makeunder My Life, Nubby Twiglet, Gala Darling & Danielle LaPorte to my google reader. I devoured their words and modeled myself in their image – wise, fierce, authentic women who know what they want and dive in. I signed up for a web and graphic design certificate program that was free to the unemployed. I scheduled all of my classes for the fall.

I chose to live as an optimist. I decided what I wanted out of life and told my friends. At first, I only told my most trusted friends. Nervous and fidgety I spilled my guts then waited for them to say, “that’s crazy!” or “impossible!” or “how do you think you’ll do that?” Imagine my surprise when they responded with, “what can we do to make this happen?” Or, “how can I help?” Woah. You mean, there are people out there who want to support me in following my dreams? I was shocked, but buoyed. Encouraged and energetic and happy.

I felt positive. For the first time in my life, I expected that everything would work out.

In September, I began classes in the web and graphic design certificate program. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I knew I had to do something proactive. Then, that dreamer I met in April got back in touch with me to ask if I would be interested in moving across the globe to work for his NGO. Yes! Of course! I jumped at the opportunity.

Now, I’m in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I’m an administrator, creative director, designer, product development and sourcing coordinator, entrepreneur, teacher and so much more. I’m being challenged in ways I never could have anticipated. I’m learning and growing and doing my best to adapt to cultural differences. While many of these roles are new to me, I feel prepared for this new phase of my life.

While much of the last few years was really hard (hello, recession and unemployment!), I now know that I needed that time to explore my intentions and dreams. I was extremely unhappy and needed introspection to commit to living positively and optimistically. I needed the chaos to remind myself that I am in control. Paulo Coelho wrote: the world’s biggest lie is, “that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.” Now, I know better.

sponsor giveaway: be still pillows
May 25th, 2010     |    LifeStyle

Every now and then I get the urge to splurge on a few new home accessories for my apartment (current intentional obsession: a faux mini-bar). When I find myself hankering for some new decor loveliness I often start checking out blog giveaways for cute home goods. And if you share in my habit, today is the day for you.

Sarah the owner of the awesome etsy shop Be Still has generously offered to giveaway any pillow the giveaway winner chooses! Talk about perfect timing for summer. Her fabric choices are what caught my eye right away. High quality with high graphic impact, so my style. And the fact that Sarah’s offered to let you choose your pillow cover means you get to pick the perfect one for your home.

To enter, simply visit the Be Still Shop and comment here on this post stating which pillow cover you would choose if you win the giveaway. The winner will be chosen next Tuesday, June 1st.

As you can see, I’ve already done a little damage with her awesome orange ikat a circus stripe pillows. The perfect compliment to my neutral sofa or bright white loveseat in my bedroom.

This afternoon we have a sponsor interview with Niki the adorable blogger behind SingleBubblePop. She’s here to talk about her blog, passion, and purpose for 2010.


Tell Us a Little About Yourself.

My name is Niki McNeill and I am the voice behind SingleBubblePop! I’m a Carolina born and bred petite lady who loves art and design.
During my entire undergraduate career at UNC Chapel Hill, I struggled through Pre-Med courses. Because I was great at science and a leader in high school, I had been convinced that a career in medicine was the best route for me. After taking the MCAT (and bombing it!) just before my senior year, I realized that if I didn’t stop then, I would continue this cycle of hard work and disappointment for the rest of my life. Not to say I would fail as a doctor, but I would never be truly happy with myself if I did not make a living doing what I do best! By the time I graduated, I had a plan to refocus on a career in art & design, but none of the details laid out. I spent the next two years studying Interior Design at Meredith College and Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy. Now, I’m living in Atlanta, working toward my dream of being a self-employed designer and artist.

How did Single Bubble Pop get it’s name?

When I started SingleBubblePop in 2007, my life was going through major changes. I’d just graduated from a huge university, moved back in with my parents in my small hometown and started a completed different course of study at a school that couldn’t be more opposite from the one I graduated from. The name SingleBubblePop actually was born out of a new found meditation practice. In learning how to meditate, I found that many teachers of this spiritual practice encourage focusing on one serene object or scene to help clear your mind. For me, this was the image of a single bubble, and as I stilled my mind I aimed to make it so quiet that I could hear a single bubble pop. It was appropriate name for the blog because when it began, it was literally just a place for me to make a mental dump of all the chatter going on in my brain at such a pivotal time.

Was there a certain inspiration that sparked your blog?

Blogging for me started as a way that I could keep track of all the new, exciting ideas I was finding on the web and to connect with others at a time when I felt so isolated. It later became a way for me to continually stretch my designer muscles and challenge my artistic mind to constantly seek inspiration. I believe that artistry and design is just like any sport or skill; practice makes perfect! I have continued to blog for over 2 years because I was so moved by the ability to connect with people in an original and completely genuine way. Now, the objective of SingleBubblePop is to provide inspiration and encouragement for others seeking a career in art and design.

What intentions do you have for Single Bubble Pop in 2010?

One of my goals for 2010 is to bring 1000 subscribers to SingleBubblePop. It’s a BIG goal being that we’re just above 200 now, but why not aim high? I really want SBP to become a place where creatives can come on a daily basis and be satisfied with “artfully designed” inspiration. I continue to push myself to create more original content that makes SBP readers want to create more, be more and just live a purposeful life. I’m constantly motivated and encouraged by blogs like Makeunder My Life, FlyGirls, AphroChic and Elements of Style and I hope that SingleBubblePop can inspire others in the way that these blogs speak to me!

karen’s edit, add, appreciate
May 24th, 2010     |    ExfoliatingLife


Today’s awesome post is brought to you by Karen at Graceful Creative. Enjoy!

Edit, Add, Appreciate

I have been a longtime reader {and admirer} of Makeunder My Life. So when Jess asked me to do a guest post, I was truly honored. The idea for this guest post happened after I left a comment on her latest End of the Week Exfoliation post. I mentioned that I do something similar, but it’s called Edit, Add, Appreciate.

At the beginning of each week —usually on Saturday evenings— I contemplate what small changes I can make to help me be a better me. A more authentic version of myself. The ‘Edit, Add, Appreciate’ process is not my own original idea. I adopted the idea from the book Style Statement: Live by your own design.

Edit one thingmaterial objects, negative thoughts, bad habits, or activities that don’t reflect who you are as a person. It doesn’t have to be a physical thing; Sometimes bad habits and negative thoughts are more detrimental than physical clutter.

Add something. Bring in something or reinvent one thing in your life–thoughts, habits, activities, clothing, objects…Add something that will help you be a better person; And yes, sometimes a new pair of jeans can help!

Appreciate something or someone already in your life. Hug your children and tell them how special they are. Call your spouse, just because. Be extra polite to the guy who makes your latte. Frame that favorite piece of art.

The way I see it, is that you let your Authentic Self guide you in making these decisions. What parts of yourself –tangible or intangible– reflect who you really are? Keep the good things, and ditch the rest!

In the last year, I have edited, added, and appreciated many different things.


Since I’ve recently put my house on the market, I’ve been cleaning and decluttering like crazy. Like Jess did in March, I am doing my own Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge; therefore, my most recent *edits* have all been the things I’ve been throwing out. I must admit…I love getting rid of things that are unloved, useless, and just taking up space.



My most recent *adds* have been new habits that I’m trying to adopt. Last month, I successfully added the habit of drinking a daily green smoothie.

greendrinkThis month, I’m trying to *add* the habit of daily skincare. {I’m 37. Shouldn’t I have started this habit a few years back?!} I am having some success, but it doesn’t come naturally. But when I imagine the best version of myself, I am healthy and glowing and more importantly, I take the time to take care of myself. The best version of me is someone who takes care of herself.



For me, this is often the most difficult one to do — taking time to appreciate someone or something. I’m very goal-oriented, and I enjoy doing. Being appreciative of someone or something is more a reflective exercise than an action-oriented task. This last week, I have appreciated a do-nothing week. To clarify, last week was packed full of obligations and an endless To Do list… This week, I *appreciate* that I can just be.

I would love for you to join me and Edit, Add, and Appreciate things in your life. Remember, it’s not about re-creating yourself…it’s about finding the pieces that are authentically you and living it.

mml badge
May 21st, 2010     |    Life

First, I’d like to send a HUGE thank you out there to everyone who has asked to be a Jess LC Ambassador! I just got the first batch of Ambassadors on Jess LC and I will add the next batch early next week. At the end of May I’ll do a round up here on MML with the Ambassador links as well. I’m so shocked at the interest in this initiative that I’m hoping to have 100 Ambassadors by the end of June. So if you’d like to get involved, please let me know (jess@jesslc.com). The details are right here.

I’ve also gotten some requests for an MML badge (above), so if you’d like to add it to your blog, I’d be honored.

Other than that, I hope you have a great weekend planned. I am going to take my “two day vacation” and use it to go the farmer’s market tomorrow (weather permitting), going on a long walk to Navy Pier and back on Sunday, grocery shopping, church, and a sushi date night with Erwin on Saturday.













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