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This week’s DYL is a throwback from last year. I think it’s definitely worth revisiting my dear friend, Crystal’s DYL, as she is now the fabulous founder and editor-in-chief of the recently launched online shelter magazine, Rue. It’s fascinating for us to reflect on Crystal’s intentions from last year, pre-Rue, because they may have propelled her into this brand new life.

She started early last year as the blogger behind Plush Palate with a restlessness and urge to do something extraordinary with her life. Now, she travels all over the country photographing some of the chicest homes and parties. She’s creating the content and inspiration that she used to glean from the glossy pages of her favorite magazines just a year ago. And it would seem that these intentions she set for herself are the building blocks she used to design the completely new and amazing life of her dreams.

Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Crystal of Plush Palate

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Live a Courageous Life

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With each decision I make or at each crossroad I arrive, I try to make sure my decisions are not dictated by fear but instead, driven by courage. Only then do I feel I am living the best and fullest version of my life. When the decision seems unclear, I ask myself, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and then in my heart I know exactly what I need to do. Another favorite quote reminds me that, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Know Who You Are

It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others or trying to be someone you are not, but I find such freedom in reminding myself not to be anyone but me. I try to use and hone the talents that I already have, not to covet the ones I don’t. The way I stay connected to who I am is by making time for the things that truly feed the authentic me – like writing in my journal at night and spending a quiet hour by myself in the morning – and by being able to say no to the things that don’t feel right inside. This quote says it best, “the wise man is always similar to himself.”

Take Pride in What You Present to the World

I strongly believe that this is one of the greatest ways to show respect to yourself and to others. By taking time to dress nicely or by making sure the project I turn in is a reflection of my best work, I am telling myself and others that we deserve the best. I believe this is an important component for healthy self-esteem and a strive to embody it.

Find Balance in Mind, Body, and Soul

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When things get busy and I start to feel off kilter, I check in with myself to make sure I am giving ample attention to each. This helps me prioritize my time and get my perspective back where it needs to be. For “mind” I do things like take language classes so I can exercise new areas of my brain. For “body” I make sure to find time to exercise as a way to relieve stress and stay strong. And for “soul” I stay mindful of my values and try to live a life that is consistent and in accordance with them.

Focus On Your Circle of Influence

This is a concept I picked up from reading, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and that really struck a chord with me. There are many things in life we wish were different, but by focusing on the things that we can actually change within our circle of influence, our circle miraculously begins to grow and, in turn, so does the scope of our influence. When I’m faced with a challenge that seems overwhelming, I remember that through action I can go from a place of feeling powerless to a place of great empowerment and impact.

Travel!

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Traveling truly is something that I cannot image a life without. I cherish being able to get out into the world and opening myself up to what other places and people can teach me. Some of my best and most pivotal growing has happened during my times abroad. One thing I’m sure of is that a person or a place is never the same after having passed through it.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

[photo credits: Miss Muse, and Simply Seductive (2)]

[sponsor post] le papier studio giveaway

September 29th, 2010   |   Style

To me, one of the most personal ways to design a life with intention is to design a home with intention. Creating an environment which reflects our vision for our lives helps us fulfill those dreams everyday.

I’m currently obsessed the retro-modern silhouette art which keeps popping up all over the home design blogs. So when I stumbled across our new October MML sponsor, Vana of Le Papier Studio (based in Chicago!), I was hooked. I knew that I had to have a few pieces of her work for my new apartment. The only question was, what silhouette do I choose? I’m single with no kids, so the really cute couple and kid prints were out of the question. And I didn’t quite feel up to staring at my own mug each and every day…

Then a solution popped in my head: my family’s Westie, Mackenzie! For those of you who know me, it’s certainly no secret that I’m dying to have a Westie (or Frenchie) puppy myself, but my traveling schedule and apartment don’t allow for one. So having the outlines of Mackenize all over my apartment make perfect sense! No mess, no clean up, and no fur on the couch.

Here’s some pics of Mackenzie throughout my apartment:

This little wall decal is actually a direct outline of Mackenzie from a photo I sent Vana. She turned it into a wall decal to her exact height, so it really does look like Mackenzie herself is waiting for me to come home. I chose the yellow color (there are tons of hues to choose from) because it was cheerful and would stand out more than white, her actual fur color, would.

I also sent a side profile photo of Mackenzie to Vana and she made this adorable print (secret: my mom is coming to visit today and I made one for her too). I love that I was able to choose a dark chocolate backdrop so that the silhouette mimicked her white fur. Had I gone with a color for the center of the silhouette, she might have looked more like a Scottie than a Westie.

And of course, I couldn’t resist having her on my farmers market tote as well. So cute. (Check out the custom photo option to see Mackenzie become a silhouette!)

I must emphasize, this is just a taste of the product offerings Vana has in her shop. You can also get custom jewelry, aprons, cuff links, stationary, plates, and much more.

Silhouette Art Book Giveaway

Vana has also recently launched a new book, Silhouette Art, sharing the step by step process of creating your own silhouette art! So if you want to get crafty and make your own custom pieces of art, all the instruction and paper you need are right within the book.

If you’d like to try your hand at making some homemade art using Vana’s detailed instructions, simply comment on this post by next Wednesday (October, 6th) sharing what your favorite product is in Vana’s shop.

fall site update

September 28th, 2010   |   Life

As you may have noticed, I’ve been slowly doing some spring fall cleaning around MML. I figured it was time to put a fresh coat on MML as I moved into a new place myself. I’m so happy with how it’s turned out. The berry and camel colors are such a cheerful contrast to the yellow and gray of the summer.

Here’s a little tour of some of the layout changes.

As many of you pointed out, I cut my hair! I cut it last April, but hadn’t changed online photos in a really long time. And as you can guess, I’m now back to growing it out. Since updating the pics, I’m now recognizable if you spotted me at a coffee shop. I also retold the story of how MML got started in a bit more detail on the about page.

I also ditched the tabbed widget that used to be on the sidebar in favor of a more new user friendly approach. This Best of MML page links to some of the most popular categories and feistiest posts. Now it’s much easier for new MML readers to catch up without having to sift through the complete archive.

And lastly I’ll mention a few updates to the sidebar. Of course there are the awesome MML sponsor buttons to the far right. And I’ve updated the look of the contact buttons and added a new feature: Form Spring. Simply click the Ask a Question button to hop over and well… ask me a question. There is also a link to the Best of MML page and of course a Twitter link.

I hope you like the changes and if you have any suggestions on how the site can be even more helpful, please let me know!

the prize mentality

September 27th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. I myself got back from a quick trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday evening. A good friend got married (beautiful wedding!) and I also had a chance to catch up with my friends at Michigan. All in all, it was a great chance to reconnect with so many people who are important to me.

Today I’d like to share an excerpt from a post written by Annie of Turning Pages. I initially stumbled upon her post because she linked to Jess LC, but I really love her perspective on how we should reward ourselves for a job well done. Take a look at the beginning of the post below and then hop over to read the full piece on her blog.

Hi, my name is Annie, and I believe in retail therapy.

Perhaps this comes as a shock to you. I mean, don’t I strike you as a fairly rational, practical being?

Too bad.

After life’s particularly difficult moments have been overcome, I believe in a little self-indulgence. Prizes, if you will.

Impress the boss at work? Prize.

Stay up late to finish writing that paper? Prize.

Help your law student husband pass the bar exam? Prize.

Burn dinner and manage not to cry? Prize.

Successfully make it through another week? Prize.

This may sound excessive. But before you call Jordan and warn him that his wife has a problem, take note: He already knows, and he approves. Or at least, he too, has succumbed to the power of the prize.

Finish law school? Prize.

Pass the bar exam? Prize.

Get a new job? Prize.

I should probably clarify that prizes don’t have to be expensive. In fact, sometimes the gifts I give myself don’t cost a dime. If I successfully make it through 50 pages of Plato’s Phaedrus, I reward myself with an episode of Glee. If I study all day Saturday, I go out to dinner with Jordan Saturday night. If I finish my work assignment on time, I drink a Coke.

This process isn’t so much retail therapy as it is a rewards program.

And it works.

So this week, when I came this close to withdrawing from graduate school — the paperwork was in my hand — I came up with the perfect reward to help me make it through the semester.

Continue reading Annie’s post here.

piper’s dream report: week nineteen

September 24th, 2010   |   Life

It’s official…I’m working for myself full time now!!  Long story short, due to some happenings at work that reminded me yet again why I wanted to leave Corporate America, my last day moved up a week.  So as of this Monday, I’ve been working from home.  And I have to admit – it’s pretty darn awesome!! Although I have to say, it’s definitely going to take some time to get into a routine.  Not to mention staying focused and not distracted by all the things I could be doing at home!  A friend of mine had the best question for me on my first day of working from home…”are you still in your pajamas?”  Since I’m new to this and convinced that by staying in my pj’s I’ll start a descent into complete and utter laziness (think laying on the couch watching bad TV all day), I have managed to get dressed every day. The nicest thing so far about working from home?  Playing music and as loud as I want.  Now that’s fun (and gets the creative juices flowing!) My new co-workers (aka “the dogs”) have been little to no help keeping me focused on all the work I need to do.  When I ask them for their opinion, they just stare at me with these eyes that seem to say “If you’re going to be home, why aren’t you playing with us and giving us attention?”


Another thing that’s official?  I’m in complete and utter “OMG, how am I going to get all this done?” mode.  Ok, so maybe I’ve never left this mode but I swear, I’m at the point now where EVERYTHING is priority and time is ticking down to the store opening.  Granted, the store opening date is my own date – I can push it back. But I feel like it’s important to be up and running weeks before the holidays and I’ve also been talking up the store opening being around October 18th – so I don’t want to let folks down.  My web designers have this great calendar that shows all the milestones related to my website.  When we first started, they had my “go live” date as October 7th based on all the to-do items being completed on time.  Perfect, right?  Gave me plenty of cushion.  Well, this date has already changed…twice.  Gulp.  It’s now moved to October 21st so pressure’s definitely on to keep on task. Especially since starting next week, I won’t have the luxury of a paycheck – if I start thinking about that too much, I’d start panicking even more than I am!  The good news is that I finally decided on the web design after 5 rounds…I can’t wait to show you guys but that’ll have to wait for the grand opening!

image credit

So basically it’s crunch time.  Lots to do in a short period of time.  And I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Not easy for a perfectionist…I keep thinking that the first impression of my store is going to make or break it.  Which is making me want to procrastinate on just about everything!  Not something I have the time to do!!  The biggie – writing the content for the site – feels like Mount Everest right now.  It’s due to the web designer by the end of September…any chance we can extend this month??


At the same time, the fun part is happening – products are starting to roll in!!  Each box that comes in gets me more and more excited for the opening.  I just got in these beautiful decals by Shanna Murray (shown above).   They’re so pretty in person – I want to hang them everywhere! If only running a store could just be about buying products.  This is the part that makes me want the store to open right now and feels like 3-4 weeks away is just too long!!  My to-do list for the next week or so is packed with deciding on shipping options, packaging, ordering products, learning how to use my shopping cart system…and yes, writing content.  Think I can get away with having a store website that just has pictures, no words?  Just think, it could be the very first one of it’s kind (grin).  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and/or advice – any tips for working from home?  As a consumer or a biz person – anything you like (or don’t like!) about receiving packages? I have some ideas for how to make it more personal such as a little note in each package and/or getting a stamp with my logo to stamp on the box.  Would love to know your thoughts!

The DESIGN YOUR LIFE series is back! After it’s vacation this summer, the DYL series is refreshed, slightly tan, and ready to start inspiring all over again. For those of you who are new, this series is where different people each Thursday share their intentions for their life and how they then “design their life” around those intentions.

In keeping with the theme of the week, I’ve asked Kendi our Diversey lookbook model and blogger behind Kendi Everyday to kick off the series this fall. If you haven’t seen her blog yet, go check it out. Her writing is as funny as her husband Bryan’s photography is great.

Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kendi of Kendi Everyday

Are you guys tired of me yet? As I’ve been masquarading all over Jess LC and Makeunder My life, Jess thought it would be appropriate to have me write the Design Your Life post for this week. I was a little surprised when she asked me to write for this post, as I’ve admired each and every author of Design Your Life but I’ve never actually considered my life designed, unless you count a sink full of dishes as abstract art. But I have been trying to realign and redesign my life with intention over the past two years. During that time, I started a style blog called Kendi Everyday, a venture I never would have dreamed of in a million years. And now at 25 years old, I’ve feel like I’ve hit the stop sign to where my life was going and now I get to decide where I want it to go. This is what I’ve learned.

Three years ago if you would have asked me who I was I would have answered with this: someone’s daughter, someone’s fiance, someone’s employee. I had no idea who I was. I listed off titles of what I was to someone else, and although they were true and perhaps a part of my identity, they were simply parts to a whole.

A few months after getting married, my husband moved me to the smallest town I’ve ever lived in. Ever. It was his hometown so he was a local name, people knew him, his family, his history. I was just an extension of him. After introducing myself as his wife (and hiding behind that title) far too many times, it finally hit me that I didn’t know anything about who I was or what I wanted in my life.

After this revelation, I started listening to myself more, asking myself what I wanted and how I would do things. After about a year, I decided to take a risk and start a style blog. Let me re-phrase that I started a style blog in a town that could care less about fashion and even less about blogs. But even so, I knew I wanted to write and I wanted to be heard. I’ve since found a path that I’m excited to take on the journey of self-discovery all due to a risk I took a few months ago while trying to find who I am. And while I am still all of those things — a daughter, a wife, an employee, I now know that I am so much more.

The other part is understanding that who you are as a person is not yet finished. But to know who you are at this exact moment is priceless.

That’s right, I said unrealistic. Realistic goals are boring, do-able, expected. Unrealistic goals are bold, risky, and unpredictable. Why would you ever give yourself realistic goals? Where is the fun in that?

As a pessimist by nature and probably by nurture as well (hey Dad), that small voice is always at the back of my head giggling at my unrealistic goals. So paired with my lists of goals are normally my reasons as to why they could not happen, what deems them truly unrealistic. This is when my husband stops me and says “Why not?” to each goal I read aloud. I give him a laundry list of reasons why I would I fail to which he looks at me blankly and says “It seems like you’re the only person that’s holding you back.” And as much as it pains me to say this — he’s right. Dream big, no one is stopping you but yourself.

In the book Through the Looking Glass, this sentence sticks out the most to me: “Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Well said, Lewis Carroll.) Make this your goal, think of 6 impossible things for your life each morning. We have imaginations for a reason, for which I like to think is to dream. Dream up the most amazing story of your life, who says that it can’t come true?

Let’s stop for a second and be honest. On your path of life one thing is for certain: You will fail. It’s true, no one that has ever succeeded has failed to fail. (That was a tongue-twister.) As a perfectionist, this statement make my stomach turn. I hate to fail at anything. If I burn dinner you would think that I had just burned our house. I cry over spilled milk, can you imagine how I react to failure? Let me tell you, it’s not pretty.

Kendi Everyday is my third attempt to a style blog. I can’t say why the other two failed, or even if Kendi Everyday has succeeded but I do know that I stuck with it. And that in and of itself is a success. I was afraid to fail but I kept going because I knew that it was what I wanted to do. It’s never an easy route but as I’ve learned if you are afraid of failing you will never try. Try to fail, at least you’ll be trying.

If laughter is the best medicine, then pour yourself two tablespoons and call me in the morning. Some days are just bad days, there is no way around. Some days are downright horrible. On the days when it is hardest to smile, just go ahead and make yourself laugh. Finding a positive light in a situation is tough, but find it. Positive thinking can change your outlook and way of life. If there is nothing else left to do, then laugh. You might just laugh yourself happy again.

(Also, laugh lines are much prettier than frown lines.)

This is not a plug for the Jess LC Franklin Collection necklace. But it’s found here.

I am a dreamer. My brain is always in constant motion of impossible. I think of at least 6 impossible things before lunch and by the time lunch is over I’ve tossed those aside and I’m on to 6 more. There is an upside to this but there is a downside as well. Sometimes I’m so busy with my future plans that have not yet happened that I forget to be where I am, that which is happening. I forget who I’m with, I forget to enjoy what is happening right in front of me. (See? Being a dreamer is a blessing and a curse.) Too many times I’ve looked back at a situation in our lives and I don’t remember it. I let my mind go elsewhere instead of dealing with the present, which as I’ve learned is important if you want to deal happily with your future.  I’ve had to learn to slow down. To be present to what is happening around me and not just in my dreamy little head. Be present to your life now and be hopeful for what’s to come.

This won’t be the last of me, just the last of me on someone else’s blog. Find me at Kendi Everyday.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

you’re invited to the diversey launch party

September 22nd, 2010   |   Life

If you live in Chicago or can make it tomorrow, please come to the Diversey Launch Party at SG Grand! Details are below. There will be wine, nibbles, and other local designers as well! Bring a friend and make it a girls night.

meet the diversey collection

September 22nd, 2010   |   Life

Thanks so much for such sweet, encouraging comments on the Diversey Lookbook! I’m happy to know you all love how it turned out as well.

Design Inspiration: Paisley

Of course if you’ve been following my twitter or MML, you know I’ve been inspired by paisley for this collection (some people have mentioned it looks like a ying on a ying-yang, but that was not intended – no meaning there). I chose paisley as the inspiration oddly because it was a pattern popular in interior design (my main source for jewelry design inspiration), that I actually hated growing up. It is often depicted in a very ornate, detailed way which did not rest well with my personal tastes as a fifteen-year-old. Now that I’m a bit older, I’ve learned to appreciate the intricate pattern more, but still haven’t found a paisley variation to adore.

So I decided to make my version of paisley. Something clean, fresh, and (as with all my jewelry) naturally graceful. I picked berry and winter white for this collection because I thought they would pair beautifully with fall clothing and add a much needed pop to dark navy, charcoal, and black tops. They also happen to do double duty and transition into spring and summer wardrobes beautifully as well- something that with my own budget, I’m quite aware of. I want my jewelry pieces to fit in my wardrobe 365 days a year. And as those who’ve been to my apartment can attest, I have an addiction to white and gold in any form.

A Sample of the Collection

To give you a taste of the collection, browse below- all our new paisley pieces are palladium gold-plated (palladium is a great high quality material to add longevity and durability) and our chains and wire are gold-filled as usual. I have designed each of the paisleys by sketch and then had an b-school buddy create the pendants. Then we take the pendants and design and assemble them in our studio by hand – Susie’s talented hands. The great thing about these pieces is that they are great quality but we’ve also been able to keep the price points between $25-$98.

Diversey Enamel Post Earrings, $25

Available in white and berry.

How. Cute. Are. These? I have been wearing my white posts with my Franklin necklace. At $25 they are great addition for almost any outfit.

Diversey Six Paisley Drop Earrings, $90

Equally flexible for outfits of all kinds, these puppies make a great statement without taking over the whole ensemble.

Diversey Simple Dotted Earrings, $62

Available in white or berry.

I love how the dots on these earrings mimic elaborate paisley designs in a modern way. Their asymmetrical shape is also so refreshing and unusual in jewelry. Love.

Diversey Medium Solid Paisley Necklace, $73

Available in white or berry.

Oh, my. I think this one gives a great pop to so many looks. I wore it with a blazer, flowy top, and dark jeans going out last weekend and felt like a million bucks.

Diversey Lariat-Style Dotted Paisley Necklace, $86

Available in white or berry.

This guy is a stunner. I think he’s best suited for clean, modern tops – a simple shell or shift dress is a perfect match.

Diversey Paisley Layering Necklace, $90-silver, $96-gold

Available with gold or silver chain (paisleys are gold)

A Jess LC collection isn’t complete any more without a great layering necklace. This is it.

Diversey Single Paisley Bracelet, $30- silver, $32- gold

Available with gold or silver chain (paisley is gold)

This little guy is so sweet and subtle – which means he’s a no-brainer for everyday of the week.

And of course there are eight other awesome styles online as well. Check them out and let me know what you think! I’d love to know which ones you love the most.

the diversey lookbook

September 22nd, 2010   |   Life

Diversey is live! Here are some shots from the lookbook. It was so hard to pick a few to share, so go to the complete lookbook to see all the looks and locations!

You can also start shopping the collection as well. I’ll be back later today to explain the collection in more detail and share why I think it’s the most well-rounded collection I’ve ever done.

And as always, if you like what you see and want to share it with your friends or on your own blog, feel free! Comment here with a link to your post here and I’ll hop over an thank you for your support!

behind the lookbook

September 21st, 2010   |   Life

Man, oh man. I know I said that the Diversey collection would be launching today, but we have a few pesky product images to sort out this evening so the official launch will be tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’d like to whet your appetite by giving you a bit of background on the experience of shooting the lookbook for the collection. Two weekends ago, Kendi of Kendi Everyday and her husband Bryan flew all the way from Texas to partake in this Jess LC project. Raise your hand if you’re surprised and amazed at the generosity of this couple.

(My hand is high in the air.)

From the moment I picked them up at the airport, I knew we would be the best of friends. (Sidenote: Not sure if they expected us to be the best of friends, but that’s besides the point.) During the weekend we spent together shooting the lookbook and hanging out, I also became a Chicago tour guide. I’ve since done everything I can within my power to convince them to move to Chicago. Some things are easy to sell (Lake Michigan, the beach, the food, the people, the shopping) and some things are a bit more difficult (rent, parking, January). Either way, I’ve done my best to make their decision to stay in Texas as hard as possible.

The reason I was so insistent on them moving here is because I like them. I really like them. Kendi is adorable, down-to-earth, and the kind of friend you’d like to hang out with during a rainy afternoon doing absolutely nothing (which we did). Bryan, her husband and lookbook photographer, is wickedly funny, honest, positive, and incredible at photography.

While showing them around the city, I also brought them past my favorite walk up in Lakeview. Kendi and Bryan decided it would make a great location for an outfit post, and on the yuckiest of days this photo came out (I know, I said he was talented).

Bryan also snapped a shot of the two of us, which explains why I picked Kendi as my model instead of doing it myself (I kid, I kid).

Okay, so back to the whole photo shoot thing. We shot the lookbook in two days. The first one was Friday evening and I was actually unable to attend since I had a Macy’s Trunk Show that night. But the shoot went well. Megan, my stylist helper, and Susie, the heart of Jess LC, went along and helped out in my place. The most regrettable thing about missing this shoot for me was the fact that I didn’t get to meet Meatball.

Below are a few snap shots I took with my phone before heading out the door that Friday night.

The next morning was supposed to be our full day of shooting, but due to an inconvenient rainstorm, we postponed until Sunday. I’m glad we waited. That Sunday morning was beautiful. We decided to shoot everything again to get a variety of choices and doing eight outfit changes and showcasing 15 pieces of jewelry took just two hours with a few outfit changes in inconvenient places. Kendi and Bryan work so well together I felt like my main job was to be encouraging, make sure the jewelry was laying properly, and make sure the clothing bags were all accounted for.

The result, as you’ll see tomorrow, is quite extraordinary. To me, the lookbook feels effortless, and that’s because it was effortless. Bryan and Kendi completely understand what Jess LC is all about and were able to capture this collection perfectly. I hope you feel the same.

And hey, if they decide not to move to Chicago, they offered to adopt me. But I’m not sure how my legs will look in cowboy boots, so I’m still insistent that they move here.

grandma’s macaroni and cheese

September 20th, 2010   |   FoodLife

Good morning! I’m launching the Diversey collection on Jess LC tomorrow and have plenty of work ahead of me (lookbook, programming the online pages, uploading product shots, drafting an email blast, MML posts, and so on) so I have my little hands full of things to do. But in the meantime, I thought I’d re-share this recipe for mac and cheese via my mom, from my Grandma Constable. It. Is. So. Good. And easy, oh so easy. I made it last night for my friend Cathy and her husband.

Judging by the (lack of) leftovers, I’d say it was a huge hit! Try it yourself. I promise there will be no regrets!

macandcheese

Yum. This wonderfulness is my dinner tonight. I got the recipe from my mom, but the cheese sauce is actually from my Grandma’s Cheesy Onion recipe. Since I had all the ingredients on hand except for the cheese, this was a logical, delicious, and inexpensive dish to make. I used to be intimidated by the homemade cheese sauce, but it is really easy since it requires the microwave(!). Try it and let me know what you think.

macandcheeseingredients

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 box pasta (I used whole wheat), cooked and drained
  • 2 C milk
  • 4 T flour
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/4 t paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and cook pasta.
  2. Melt butter and stir in flour, pepper, and paprika. Whisk in milk. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes on power level 8 (stir 2-3 times during cooking).
  3. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
  4. Add sauce and noodles to greased casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let stand for 10 minutes and enjoy!

macandcheesesaucemacandcheesebefore

For those who like a softer, unbaked mac and cheese you can call it quits at this stage like my brother, Mikey C.

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kelsey’s list: september dos and don’ts

September 18th, 2010   |   Life

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After the awesome reception of Kelsey’s list last month, she’s back to share her list for September. Enjoy!

First of all I would like to say thank you to all of you.  Because of your wonderful feedback, Jess would like me to contribute more often to Makeunder My Life and I couldn’t be more honored.  Since it looks like I’m sticking around for a little while, please feel free to contribute ideas for future “dos and don’ts” in the comment section.  I want to write what you want to read.

So this month’s Dos and Don’ts are about one of life’s most important treasures: television.  September brings back our favorite show premieres and football.  And let’s be honest, if you haven’t been fantasizing about Mr. Shuster singing to you and only you in the choir room all summer- wait that was just me?  Oh…moving on!

Do

  • Theme your cocktails around what show you’re watching (i.e. martinis for Mad Men, blue or red slushees for Glee).
  • Give yourself a pat on the back for allowing yourself 30 minutes, an hour, or 3 hours to enjoy a show- no Blackberry allowed.
  • Make delicious dips, spreads and finger foods for football games.  It gives you a reason to invite friends over and its cheaper than going out.
  • Allow yourself to relax!  September is a stressful time; whether it’s the beginning of a new school year or things are picking back up at work- just know you are worth sitting down on the couch and laughing at The Situation.
  • Let yourself grieve that Jack Bauer isn’t coming back this Fall, but 30 Rock, Modern Family, and The Office are so it’s going to be ok.

Don’t

  • Complain about his incessant remote-control flipping on Saturday and Sunday.  Men know when and where to flip the channel.  It’s an innate gift.  They’re just trying to catch as much football as possible.
  • Try to understand why the show Wipe Out got renewed for another season.
  • Count the number of Cool Ranch Doritos you’ve eaten during a quarter.  It’s the law.
  • Rely on Snooki for your political issue awareness.  Yes, Obama put a tax on tanning beds but Snooki was also arrested for being an “annoying drunk”.
  • Allow your DVR get down to 0% capacity; you deserve a little ‘me time’ and whether that is Discovery Channel with Mike Rowe (swoon) or a guilty pleasure like Jerseylicious; it doesn’t matter, enjoy it!

Like me? Well thanks, I like you too! You can also find me at thecapitalbarbie.blogspot.com.

piper’s dream report: week eighteen

September 17th, 2010   |   Life

Thank you all so much for your lovely and supportive comments on my post last week.  Especially since as you’ve gotten to know me by now, I’m sure you probably know that I’m freaking out a bit!!  And by a bit…I mean A LOT!!  Of course I’m also beyond thrilled and excited to give my dream a shot – I can’t even imagine what it will be like to wake up everyday and get to do something that I love and I’m passionate about.  But there’s also that little matter of not getting a steady paycheck anymore.  I’m thinking I’ll need to get used to ramen noodles…and even harder??  Giving up my guilty pleasure – Starbucks coffee – not sure I’m ready for that!


There’s so much to fill you guys in on, I’m not sure where to start!!  I’ll start with giving my notice at work.  To be honest, I had been thinking I would be let go.  Like I’ve mentioned before, my job is part time at best – they even had consultants come in and figure out what positions should stay and which should go – and apparently I must have been overlooked!  So since it wasn’t happening, I knew I would have to make a decision.  Not an easy one to make.  Of course, my hubby the wide-eyed optimist, had been encouraging me to quit (don’t you just love his outlook!!  I really am lucky in that department!)  But I’m the realist – and also the one that handles our financials.  And the reality is that we’re cutting our income in half.  The good news is that we live pretty frugally and we’ve been saving up since I’ve been wanting to do this for years!  Although I’m pretty much freaking out, it also feels empowering to take this leap of faith…to give myself this chance.  No Plan B as Jess posted!  (okay, I have to admit, I have bit of a Plan B – I can’t help it, it’s the worrier in me!!).  So only one week left…my last day is September 24th!!

And guess what??  I have my logo, business card and first concept on the web design!!!  For those of you who have gone through the logo and business card design process and were able to choose – my hat goes off to you!!  I had the hardest time making that final decision.  My logo designer really has the patience of a saint – she even graciously extended the number of rounds because I just couldn’t decide!  But you know what – it’s that darn instinct again.  Had I just gone with my original gut reaction – I wouldn’t have needed as many rounds – because that’s what I ended up going with.  But honestly it helped to see it against other designs to know for sure that it was “the one”!  So drumroll please….here’s a peek at my logo & biz card!


I can’t even tell you how much I love the design we ended up with.  She came up with the idea of the road sign stamp based off the name one sydney road and it just feels perfect for it.  She even designed some patterns based off that idea (first image) – and suggested having wrapping paper made using these patterns – how fun would that be??    So then I sent these images to the web designer (along with answers to questions they asked me such as other websites I like & colors I like)  Here I thought deciding on the logo was tough…the web design is even harder!!  There are so many different elements to consider – color, font, images, how it’s laid out, etc, etc!  And of course I’m second guessing myself – I LOVE clean, simple sites.  But do others?  Is it okay for my store site?  Again, I have to remind myself that I have to love it – it has to feel like me.

It’s still hard to believe that I could be opening in less than 6 weeks…is this really happening?  Since I just started receiving products, I’m thinking it is!  It was really exciting to receive that first box of product – I actually took photos to share with you!  Here’s a little sneak peek of what I’ll have in the shop…


A friend had said to me how fun it must be to buy all these things…and honestly, it really is…but like I told her, it would be more fun if I was using someone else’s money!  But as the products are coming in, it’s getting more and more exciting.  I still have so much left to do though – I’m a bit worried about meeting my grand opening deadline of October 18th.  I have tons of content to write for the website along with having to figure out shipping, packaging, and advertising/marketing.  One day at a time, one step at a time, right?  Counting down until I leave my day job…!!

inoculations against setbacks

September 16th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Good morning! I’m excited to say that this evening Susie and I will be at the FGI Chicago Rising Star Awards to find out whether Jess LC was named the rising star in jewelry this year. I have to admit, besides a dream I had the other night (in which I won the award), I haven’t given this too much thought. I’ve been thrilled to be nominated, but also completely clueless as to the judges’ criteria. So rather than repeat the debacle that was my fifth grade gym class one mile race,* I’ve taken a different path and left the award out of my head. It’s better to go in with an open mind than to fantasize or make assumptions either way.

That said, I have decided this morning to reflect on a technique that a good friend and University of Michigan career counselor gave me called “inoculations against setbacks.” The idea is basically to consider the possible obstacles one might have in a future situation and then come up with solutions and suggestions before the event actually happens. In preparing myself to consider both winning and losing the award ahead of time, I can help myself experience either outcome with a more positive, balanced, and objective perspective than if I just let my head run amok.

So, here’s what I’ve decided to consider in each outcome this evening:

If I win the award.

I will feel so honored to know that my efforts with Jess LC have been recognized by my industry and my city. I moved here three years ago with nothing but a small U-Haul of furniture and about $600 in the bank and “set up shop” – determined to make my business succeed. I also navigated a tough economy during the first year and a half of business. To see Jess LC recognized as one of the top Chicago jewelry companies just three years later proves that with a lot of hard work and determination, anything is possible.

Winning will also remind me that by being myself and putting myself out there with the jewelry design and with MML, I’m being authentic and 100% me. If I had won this award without MML in my life, all it would reflect is my ability to design pretty jewelry. And while design is incredible and something I am thankful for, I know that my win would also be attributed to the aid I give non-profits through Soc Chic and the inspiration that MML provides to readers and small-business owners.

If I don’t win the award.

Though it’s easy to say as I sit here in my cozy apartment that it won’t matter if I win or not, the reality is that when I’m sitting in that chair at the Hotel Sax at 8:30 this evening, it may will be hard to feel neutral. It’s natural to hope that I win. But, at the same time, I know that the bigger picture of my life and business is this: way before there was an award nomination I moved to Chicago with practically nothing, worked to support myself fresh out of college, and devoted over half of my working hours since January of 2009 to helping others design a life with intention simply because that is what I’m meant to do.

And though I don’t make much money off of my purpose at this point in time, I know that Jess LC has served as an inspiration to many people who would like to be small-business owners themselves. That positive impact was made before the award nomination and will continue after the award winner is announced. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, so there is no way I can consider myself a loser.

Try it yourself.

The next time you are in a situation where you may find yourself disappointed, upset, confused, or discouraged, try to inoculate yourself ahead of time and set your mind to what you’d like to think. That way in the heat of the moment, you can remind yourself of what’s really true for you.

*As a fifth grader, I “trained” for the one mile run for weeks and made it known to everyone in class that I planned to be the fastest girl. But during the race another girl shot out ahead and won the race. Her winning wasn’t such a big deal overall, but the fact that I was so sure that I’d win fed me a huge slice of humble pie.

designing a business with intention: PR

September 15th, 2010   |   Business AdviceLife

Given my declaration yesterday about the purpose of MML, I’d like to discuss why I chose to go with PR for Jess LC. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not here to tell anyone what to do, but I  can share my personal strategy. After years of selling almost exclusively via wholesale to boutiques, focusing on my online shop is an awesome chance to interact with customers and store buyers on a personal level.

Back in the day (circa 2008), I worked with an awesome road rep team who sold it to boutique owners across the country. They were great at their jobs, and Jess LC was quickly sold in over 100 boutiques. The reps made the relationships with the store owners in person, and I would receive a purchase order and we would then make and send the buyer the jewelry. It was a pretty simple system that required samples and commission on the items that were sold. However, the downside for me was a) the recession which hurt store owners’ credit lines – and many boutiques ended up closing, and b) I didn’t have much interaction with customers or buyers.

Oh, and I should also mention that I started this little thing called MakeunderMyLife at the same time that I did a giveaway for Jess LC on Cup of Jo in January, 2009. These two incidents provided me with a brand new understanding of what was possible with the web for brand awareness and for pursuing my purpose. I dove head first into blogging and marketing Jess LC through blog ads and the result was intensely satisfying: I was fulfilling my vocation with MML, and I was making real connections to customers who ordered online. Since then, I spend most of my time and effort spreading the MML message and introducing Jess LC to customers and store owners via the web.

But after my re-branding this spring, I decided to grow the online shop even more, which meant I needed to start reaching people outside of the wonderful world of blogging. To do this, I tried (rather pathetically) to fit my own PR efforts into my jam-packed schedule. It didn’t go well. Reaching out to magazine editors intimidated me: I didn’t know who I should be speaking with, and felt wary about sending samples “into the void” hoping that they landed on the accessories editor’s desk at O Magazine, Lucky, and InStyle.

This led me to taking the first real risk in the business, hiring a PR firm. A designer friend had great things to say about working with the ladies at Red Light PR in LA and New York. After interviewing them and a few other firms, I signed on and have been working with them since June.

The takeaways I can share about working with PR the past four months are as follows:

  • PR is an investment – retainers are not cheap (at least for the good ones) and there are additional costs on top of the retainer for things like office supplies, shipping (though product requests are paid usually by the magazines/stylists), and display items.
  • There is no guarantee. This is not a science, and it can take weeks or months to land a credit in a magazine. The better the relationships the PR firm has with the magazine editors, the better.
  • Desk Sides are awesome ways for you to introduce yourself and your line to the editors directly.
  • You need to have lots of samples. In order for PR to do anything with your line, you will need to be willing to give them products so they can send them to the editors. The more they have, the better represented your line is.

So far, I have been really satisfied with how the PR has worked out and I’m excited to see what opportunities arise in the future!

what i hope mml does for you

September 14th, 2010   |   Life

During the past month when I took some time off from writing on MML, I reflected on my life, MML, my purpose, and the feistiness that so many people enjoyed. And I now have some great new ideas to inject in MML this fall. One of which is a new color story and different blog navigation which should be up in the next few days. I’d like to make it easier for people who are new to MML to find all of the really juicy stuff in the archive without having to read each and every post. I’m also excited to announce that I’m bringing back the popular DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview series in the weeks to come as well. And the End of the Week Exfoliation might even be manned by Melissa, the new Jess LC assistant.

In addition, I have found clarity in terms of what MML is here to provide. There are obviously lots of “experts” out there teaching people how to grow their business, use social media, decorate their homes, improve their relationships, and be better people in general. Their advice (most of the time) is helpful and can definitely spark positive change. But I am not one of those experts. I am just a girl in Chicago writing about designing my own life with intention and helping others realize the same things are possible in their own lives. I’m not here to tell you how to make intentions for your life, I’m here to help you think about why you should have intentions for your life. I’m not here to tell you how to grow a business, I’m here to help you figure out why you should grow a business.

My goal is to provide a place to reflect on what we want for our lives and then share examples of how myself or others are doing this right now, in real life. It won’t always give you a Mapquest print out with step by step directions for your own life, but it will help you find your own internal compass. You can then survey your life map and chart a path that works for you and your values. Once you know where you want to go, you can find someone who knows how to get you there. MML is ground zero, it’s the place to draft the blueprint of our lives so that we can then go out and pour a solid foundation filled with things that really matter.

Like Stephen Covey says, we don’t want to spend our lives thrashing through the jungle “making progress” only to find that we have been thrashing around in the wrong jungle. We need to think about what we want our lives to include, what we want to contribute, and then go about making that possible. I’m here to help that conversation get started.

And the ironic part about this all is that as a freshman in high school, during my first philosophy class, I realized my favorite thing to do in life would be to sit in a coffee shop in Europe and debate with sages both young and old about what makes our lives meaningful. And now, over a decade later, I hope that MML is that coffee shop in Europe, where we can talk about designing our lives with intention.

my small business heroes

September 13th, 2010   |   Business AdviceLifeThink About It

Happy Monday! This is the first day of September that resembles a somewhat normal schedule for me. I’ve been caught up in a tidal wave of work, travel, guests, and photo shoots for so long, I almost forgot what the dry ground of routine looks like. And I have to say, as someone who has perpetually chosen the grounded path, learning to surf those crazy times was both thrilling and terrifying at various points. I find myself now thankful for a moment to breathe and catch up with the daily tasks that need to be accomplished, so that I can get back out there on the water and find new opportunity in the weeks to come.

Over the weekend I had two rather well known Texan guests, Kendi of the amazing Kendi Everyday and her adorable photographer husband, Bryan. I slipped a sneak peek of our Diversey photo shoot on the site this weekend featuring Kendi and a local Chicago talent, Meatball, a bulldog puppy who made her way into the look book as well. Though I will go into more detail about the shoot and working with Kendi and Bryan later when the lookbook is complete (hopefully early next week), I have to say that I adore both of them more than you can imagine. It was like meeting up with the oldest and best of friends.

I’m now taking it upon myself to help them transplant to Chicago (wink, wink). In order for this to happen, Bryan’s incredible photography business needs to thrive here in the Windy City. So here’s the shameless plug: If you are engaged (or know someone who is) and in need of a fantastically easy to work with photographer and talented stylist (Kendi knows how to make anyone look beautiful in photos) in Chi-town, please reach out to Bryan at bryan@bryanskeen.com.

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled posting.

My Small Business Heroes

Though I’ve admired and followed the careers of many successful business owners for quite some time like Rebecca of Rebecca Minkoff and Blake Mycoskie of Toms Shoes (would love to meet him!), I have to admit that when it comes to true, unadulterated admiration, my hat goes off to those who grow their businesses while juggling full-time careers.

The unsung heroes of business are those who work their butts off to make their passions become their paychecks while balancing a busy life which often includes mortgages, marriages, children, and car payments. I don’t have any of these expenses or responsibilities and for me going full-time straight out of college did not include the risks and income stream that so many, many small business owners have. Though my path was certainly not easy, by spending 40 to 50 hours a week on my business from the get-go, it’s not surprising that it has grown and flourished. I get to decide where my time is spent each and every day of my life.

But there are others out there, many of whom are my dear friends, who work on their passion and purpose after hours. They are hustling to get their business revenue to match their income from their 9-5 job so that they can become the keepers of their calender. At the end of the day, I often find myself burnt out from working and I go for a run, chat with a friend at Matissee during their Wednesday night wine special, or watch Greek (please don’t judge). All the while there are thousands of people getting home from an unfulfilled day at an office to start their second job, their small business.

It constantly amazes me when I see my friends take the steps needed to wean themselves off of employment to self-employment. It’s intense and never ending. When I know that friends like Crystal are getting up at five in the morning to do magazine work before work and then see her up on email at midnight the same day, it amazes me. When I hear how Piper is excited for vacation so she can work on her business, I think to myself, “that’s not really a vacation, that’s just more days in a different office!” When I hear how Kendi and Bryan spend their ‘free time’ setting up photo shoots for their blogs or preparing to shoot a weekend wedding, I wonder when they relax.

And not to mention all of the moms out there who juggle raising kids with blogging and business. Jill is a great example of this. I don’t know how I’ll accomplish half of what I do now when I’m responsible for raising young children.

So what I’d like to make clear is that though so many full-time business owners get a lot of attention or applause, I think the real cheers belong to those who are on their way to full-time self-employment. They are the inspirations so many people need to see, they exemplify what it takes for those who want to chart their own path to entrepreneurship.

Thank you Crystal, Piper, Jill, Diane, Alaina, Kendi, Bryan, Tieka, and everyone else who work to make their dreams come true while balancing a full-time job. You inspire me and so many others more than you will ever know.

If you are also doing double duty with your career and small business, please leave a link and email below. I’d like to send you a short thank you note for being such an inspiration to me and so many others.

lookbook sneak peek starring…

September 11th, 2010   |   Life

piper’s dream report: week sixteen

September 10th, 2010   |   Life

(Sorry, guys! I forgot to add the first paragraph of the post this morning (below). – Jess!)

First of all, I want to say thanks for all your support each and every week – I seriously can’t tell you how much it helps reading your comments!!  I’m glad you’ve been following me through this.  A lot has happened this week – picked my logo & colors (yay!) – but today’s post is more personal.  I’ve had the question “to quit or not to quit my day job” on my mind for awhile now.  But to be able to really answer that question, as well as share this journey, I think I need to talk about one of my biggest supporters – my mom.  She’s been my biggest cheerleader always – no matter what crazy ideas I’ve had – she’s always been behind me 100%.  I’m an only child so it really was just my mom and me growing up.  She’s my role model, my cheerleader and my best friend.  And I lost her 3 years ago to pancreatic cancer when she was only 62.


My mom was an amazing person…..and of course I say this with no bias!  But honestly she was the warmest & most loving person – someone who just liked you for who you are.  And honestly, it’s hard to write about because I just can’t put in words how much she means to me and how lucky I was to have her for a mom.  She’s the strongest person I’ve ever known.  It still amazes me to this day that she was a single parent my whole life, had no college degree & somehow through her perseverance was able to raise a child by herself, buy a house and become such a respected employee of the American Heart Association.  (I would always say to her that it amazed me she could buy a house by herself while having a small child…..when I couldn’t seem to do it married with no children!!  I mean, how did she do it?!)


She’s such a huge part of who I am, what’s brought me here to this point – that it’s something I needed to share.  Especially since most days, I wish she could be here cheering me on.  Or just being that “mom” safety net for me – the one where if I fail, I can run back home.  It’s hard being an only child having lost my parent…especially one who was a huge part of my life (can’t tell you how much I wish I could just run over her house like I used to and just talk about books or life – or to just see her face light up the way it would when she would see me – it was like the warmest hug!)

And I know, 100% with all my heart, that she would be so happy that I’m taking this leap and pursuing my dream of owning my own store.  Since I was little, she heard me go on and on (and on and on!) about wanting to start my own business.  And being the typical mom, nothing made her happier than seeing me happy.  She encouraged me year after year to pursue my dreams.  She was the kind of mom that even if I told her, right now, that I decided I wanted to be President (with no political background whatsoever, mind you), she’d be saying “ok, what do you need me to do”!


Once I lost her, I realized that life is so short – I would hate to look back and regret having never given my all to my dream. And she wouldn’t want me to be toiling away in misery at a job I hate.  She’d want me to jump, feet first, into this adventure – she wouldn’t even bat an eye at this.  I’m lucky that I found my own personal cheerleader – my hubby -who’s answer to all my “what if’s” is such a simple and powerful statement:  “it’s just money, we have plenty of time to make that”.   So that’s where I’m coming from when I think of the answer to “quit or not quit my day job”.  Even though I’m freaking out and scared down to my little toes – I’m taking the leap – I just gave my notice at work!  And I like to think that my mom is smiling right now.

to be luminous giveaway winner

September 9th, 2010   |   Life

*Graphic by Melissa : )*

saying yes to life

September 9th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It

Good afternoon! I got back from Denver last night and rolled in my apartment just before midnight. The entire experience was awesome, I had so much fun working with the ladies at American Express OPEN and the Score folks as well. I also made a new friend, Amanda, who was my social media co-panelist and co-founder of Think So out of NYC.

[I will also mention quickly that the red bag I packed and photographed earlier this week is a Jack Gomme purchased at Spare Parts, an adorable shop around the corner from my apartment who also sells Jess LC.]

In other news, a super-secret blogger from Texas and her husband are flying in tomorrow morning to model and shoot our new Diversey lookbook. And to make things even more crazy, we also have a Macy’s trunk show tomorrow night on State St. from 5:30p-11p. Feel free to stop by and say hi, I’ll be there in the first half of the event and Melissa will be finishing up the show.

Saying Yes to Life

As you know, my life looks totally different now than it did just seven days ago. And with it has come a wave of highs, lows, and opportunities. I’ve also realized that over the past year or two I became comfortable in my life, I was happy and content. Within that contentment, I was comfortable with saying no to opportunities that did not align with my intentions. For example, I loved nesting and being at home more than traveling. So I wouldn’t seek out opportunities to travel unless it was for something major like a marathon or business trip. I also didn’t see a huge benefit to networking without a specific purpose. I liked to stay in on one of the weekend nights and just relax. I preferred one-on-one interactions over large groups. I went mostly to my favorite local bars and restaurants close to home. I even liked ordering the same meal each and every time I went to dinner.

The up-side to this life was that it was exactly as I liked it. I only did things that had a known positive outcome. I didn’t waste my time doing things that might not align with my intentions. It was like I created a security blanket of ‘no’s’ that kept me warm, safe, and secure in the little life I enjoyed so much.

Then the move happened and what I “wanted” is not available to me anymore. I am forced to go off-roading on the life plan I mapped out so meticulously. My main goals and destination is still the same, but how I will get there has been altered. Life has something different in store for me. Something I didn’t plan. Something I didn’t ask for.

And though right now I have no idea what the hell that new life looks like, I have decided to have faith that it is even bigger, more rewarding, more satisfying, than the life I had planned. Even though I don’t know why it’s happening yet, I trust that it’s not happening for any other reason than to make me a better person.

Given that I don’t know where Life is leading me, I have decided to just start saying yes to things that I may not normally choose.

I’m saying yes to travel for work and play when the opportunities arise.

I’m saying yes to meeting new people and going out in larger groups.

I’m saying yes to networking without an objective.

I’m saying yes to letting tomorrow sort itself out and to doing the best I can today.

I’m saying yes to living life without the answers.

I think by saying yes to these new unknowns, I will start to be guided towards the path that Life has in store for me. And though there may be some new things that don’t work out for the best, overall I will have a better chance at finding happiness where I may least expect it.

apartment sneak peeks

September 7th, 2010   |   Business AdviceLifeStyle

Good morning and happy September! My oh my what a difference a few weeks of makes! I feel rested (sort of), fresh, and ready for new things to come my way! After doing the majority of the moving last Wednesday and Thursday, my friend Jess from college came into town and we had a great weekend catching up. In between doing “Chicago-like” things with her, I got the apartment decorated and the boxes put away. It feels great to start the work week settled in (sort of).

I’d love to show all of the apartment, but I’ve been asked to keep the pictures private for an exciting reveal in a few months via another source… I’d say more, but I don’t want to give anything away just yet.

Here’s what I am able to show you though, enjoy!

First, I’ll start with the dresser/nightstand I found last week the day before I moved. This little guy got a pretty sweet makeover with two coats of primer and two coats of white glossy paint. Eventually I want to get real gold hardware for it, but in the meantime I simply spray painted the existing hardware gold.

I’ve also been working on a few pieces of art during the past few weeks for my bathroom and bedroom. Here are two of the easiest DIY art projects ever.

This. Cannot. Be. Any. Easier.

I took a canvas and taped strips of hot pink masking tape to it on different angles and called it a day. I love how it brightens up the bathroom and brings your eye up in what is a pretty small space. I got the canvas half off at Michaels ($16) and ordered the hot pink tape on Amazon ($15 with shipping).

This project took slightly more time than the masking tape, but was well worth the effort. I painted two canvases gold and made dozens of white felt flowers using these instructions and then hot glued them to the canvases. They will go above my headboard… when I have a headboard. I got the canvases half off ($16 each), bought bronze paint ($8), and about 12-15 squares of white felt ($.29 each).

This project was all about cutting layers and layers of white felt petals using right handed scissors left-handedly. Not so gentle on my thumb, but as they say, no pain, no gain.

And today I’m now getting Susie back into the swing of things in the new space and training our new intern/assistant, Melissa, for two hours. Then I’m off to Denver, Colorado to speak for American Express about small business and social media. I was thrilled to be asked to be on their speakers panel last week and quickly made arrangements to attend. Though it is in the middle of our lookbook photoshoot week as well, I am determined to make it work.

Have a great day and I’ll see you back here on Thursday!

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