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a new look for MML

May 31st, 2011   |   Life

Welcome back to MML after my little break! This Memorial Day weekend was just what I needed – and so was the gorgeous weather here in Chicago yesterday. After a super long and intense work week, I recharged (read: napped) during the thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday. And during the dry moments I Biked the Drive with Mr. Lively, had dinner with a good friend, and did some beach walking and mall shopping.

While I was out of the office last Thursday and Friday, MML got a bit of a makeover as you may have noticed.

It went from this:

To what you see today.

I have had the old look above for more than a year and it has served me very well. It has the feel of many other sites I admire that deal with my favorite topic – home interiors. The chevron background was an obsession which leaked over to my designs and it suited me and MML perfectly.

However, I’ve recently realized that my purpose for MML and the content is not the same as the shelter blogs I read, and that it might be better suited to a different look that better reflects what MML is about – designing a life with intention. And this simpler color story helps focus attention on the words and ideas presented in the posts. I also think it’s fun to give the logo a fresh look, inverting the colors on the header as well.

Hope you like the new look as well!

PS – Brooke Hall of Oh Brooke is the fabulous designer behind MML. I get a lot of inquiries about the layout and I can’t recommend Brooke enough. She’s awesome.

checking in…

May 26th, 2011   |   Life

Phew. What a crazy few weeks. After a great long weekend with girlfriends I came back to complete the work that had accumulated while I was gone and then found myself sidelined by a migraine on Tuesday which knocked me off my feet. Sometimes when you don’t take the time to slow down your body does it for you – forcefully. Then yesterday I worked my butt off to get our back ordered navy totes (they are back in stock!) and other orders out the door.

Today and tomorrow I’ll be out of the office doing some work with an awesome program called Lifebook here in Chicago. I’ll be helping out at a retreat they are putting on to help clients design their life in every way imaginable. It’s kind of like the future letter on steroids. So given two back to back 12+ hour workdays, I’ll be one tired puppy by the start of a very busy, fun-filled Memorial Day weekend.

So, with all that in mind, you may notice things are bit more quiet here on MML until I return to normal next Tuesday. But man, I have a cute DIY project to share next week.

In the meantime, I’d like to announce the winner of the Acute Designs giveaway… Karissa! Congrats, lady! That mustard and cream headband has your name all over it.

an “o”verwhelming thank you

May 25th, 2011   |   Life

Today I’d like to share another more private part of my journey towards making under my life and helping others design lives with intention.

I will warn you, it has to do with the Oprah Winfrey Show (and how I was on it for 2.5 seconds) and I do cry/sniffle through much of it.


Mr. Lively’s Post

May 24th, 2011   |   Life



I am Mr. Lively, I program the internet, ride bikes, listen to records, spend most of my days with Jess, and today I join the blog world for the first time.

Six months ago Jess was a girl with ‘more energy than I know what to do with’ (this is literally what I told my friend after we first met for brunch) and blogging was a completely different planet to me.

I remember the first time I visited Jess’s apartment I came to two very quick realizations. One, she was on a chair organizing a box, within a box, on the top shelf of a cabinet. She really is hyper-organized, and yes, it was concerning at first. Two, her apartment was a lot nicer than mine. Literally the first thing I said when I entered, ‘wow, your apartment should be in a magazine!’ Little did I know…

We started spending a lot of time together and the more I learned about JessLC the business and makeundermylife.com the more I found it interesting. These days I know more about bags, jewelery, chevron, and Sara Richardson then any straight man should.

These days Jess knows more about old music, bikes, and programming then she ever expected. We are nothing if not genuinely interested in each other and it has only brought us closer together. I quickly came to realize why Jess is such an adamant blogger, it’s because she is an adamant talker. We both talk a lot, a whole lot, I don’t know how others deal with it sometimes, but it seems to serve us well. We enjoy spending most of our days doing little else.

It’s hard to believe I’ve only lived in this city for close to nine months. It has been time extremely well spent and it has gotten me in the habit of giving thanks. So thank you Chicago for being such a great city full of opportunity, and thank you to the person I most enjoy seeing this city with, Jess Constable.

A great passage that is echoing in my head this week:

“Great people have a vision of their lives that they practice emulating each and every day.

They go to work on their lives, not just in their lives.

Their lives are spent living out the vision they have of their future, in the present. They compare what they’ve done with what they intended to do. And where there’s a disparity between the two, they don’t wait very long to make up the difference.

The go to work on their lives, not just in their lives.

I believe it’s the difference between great people and everyone else that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next.

The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing.

The difference between the two is living intentionally and living by accident.”

-  Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited, page 139

Ready to start designing a life with intention? Here’s a great place to start.

my new little addiction

May 20th, 2011   |   Life

I have a new addiction. Though I have a hard time keeping up with blogging, email, Facebook, and Twitter on a daily basis, I am finding Pinterest easy, simple, (and best of all) low-maintenance.

For those who aren’t familiar with the wonderous Pinterest (yet), you simply “pin” images to an online bulliten board of sorts. You can create as many boards as you’d like and you can also see what other people you follow are pinning themselves.

I immediately locked on to how great this site could be for my “inspiration broad” files that sit dormant and largely unused on my computer. It also saves the link back to where the image came from, you can “window shop” to your heart’s content and always be able to find exactly where to buy that cute pillow you found on etsy.

My Pinterest boards are here and you can feel free to follow, re-pin, and check out what I’m digging right now on the web. I’ve set up my boards so far to include Mental Notes - posts I’d like to come back to that relate to designing a life with intention, Products I Love – items I adore on the web, and Home Inspiration for my first home. I also created a place to thank those who have pinned Jess LC photos too.

– By the way, today I’m off to Ann Arbor to have a girls weekend with my college girl friends. It’s going to be a blast.


[I made the image above, but I got the Pinterest logo here]

Here are May’s DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews! As a reminder, you are welcome to participate in this series by posting your DESIGN YOUR LIFE on your blog and sharing the link with me (jess @ jesslc.com). It will be posted on that month’s DIY DYL post as seen below with Megan and Jennifer.


Megan’s post is on Studio M.M.E.

Jennifer’s post is on Queen’s Voice.

Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

Jess LC trunk show (tomorrow)

May 18th, 2011   |   Life

For those who are in Chicago and want to check out the new bag collection in person, please stop by Macy’s (on State St) tomorrow between 5:30-7:30. I’ll be there with bags and selected jewelry for the evening on the third floor. Or, if you are an MML reader just wanting to chat in person, these events are the perfect place to do so, so please don’t feel obligated to shop, chatting is welcome.

And I’d also like to give a huge hug to everyone who has helped spread the word about Jess LC bags! We have had a fantastic response to the bags from our existing customers in person and online, but the word on the street (and web) is that we are still a jewelry company only. After 12 years of jewelry design that’s no big surprise, but we are doing our best to help the buzz about bags spread to those who may not have heard about our newest endeavor.

Today we have a sponsor interview and giveaway with the lovely Regina, founder and designer of Acute Designs. Her shop is the perfect mix of affordable handmade baubles for hair, neck, wrists, and shoes. Below Regina shares how she used her creativity and passion for accessories to launch a full-time business after breaking out of a j-o-b.

(She also a great design site and food blog as well.) Enjoy!

On your blog you mention that you wanted to quit your j-o-b and do what you love. Can you quickly summarize that journey so we can know how Acute Designs came to be?

Since graduating college 8 years ago, I floated from job to job not really knowing what I wanted to do.  I assumed just making a decent paycheck was good enough, until I realized I needed a purpose.  Two years ago I was stuck in the most soul-sucking job imaginable and I knew I needed a change.

Every day at work, I would fuel my creative outlet by writing, reading blogs, and researching.  Eventually I decided it would be “fun” to start an Etsy shop as a hobby.  Within a week, I knew that I wanted designing, creating, selling, and writing to be more than a hobby.  I wanted it to be my full time job.

It took me a year of planning and saving to get to the point where I could quit my job – which is what I did about six months ago.  I have never looked back nor regretted it for a minute!

What do you love most about designing your accessories?  What about the business side of things?

My favorite thing is playing around and coming up with new designs.  I get inspiration from everywhere – movies, tv, art, my favorite designers, and so on.  When I get an idea for a new design, I love the process of creating the first one and seeing the finished product.

I also enjoy the business side of running my own business.  I am a numbers person and find a weird amount of delight in creating spread sheets.  I have been known to spend an entire Friday night tracking numbers and sales on various spread sheets!

The hardest part of this whole business thing is that I am a fairly shy person.  I have a hard time approaching store owners or buyers in order to sell my products wholesale.  I also tend to hold back in promoting myself.  I think this is a combination of being shy and a fear of rejection – both of which are normal but are things I need to work on in order to grow my business.

Your shop is overflowing with gorgeous accessories of all kinds! How do you determine what accessory style to jump into next?

I try to provide a lot of variety and price points in order to appeal to wide range of customers.  Also, I make things I love and if they sell, I make more and expand on the item that is selling.  For example in January, I started selling cream rosebud earrings.  They sold like crazy, so I expanded into various styles of flower earrings in an array of colors and these have been extremely popular.

I also do a lot of market research and try my best to determine trends for the upcoming seasons.  I attempt to appeal to the market without compromising my personal creativity.

What is your overall vision for Acute Designs into the future?

My current goal for Acute Designs is to expand my wholesale deals.  Currently, I sell in four stores around the country and by the end of the year, my goal is for my designs to be sold in at least ten stores.  I want that to continue to grow in the next year.

My long term goal is to expand from handmade accessories into clothing.  I feel that there is a huge value in handmade and/or local made goods and I want my brand to embody this notion.

In addition to designing and selling, I am also a freelance writer and spend a large portion of my week blogging and guest blogging and would like to continue writing and eventually write a book.

What do you recommend for a newbie Etsy designer who wants to get their shop off the ground?

My advice is to treat it as if it is your own website.  Do not assume that you will get business just because you are on Etsy.  The biggest mistake I see with new sellers is that they open a shop, throw in a few items and expect people to come.  The shop needs to be promoted, both online and off line. Success is a huge possibility, but you have to put the time and effort in… just like anything!

Acute Designs Giveaway – $20 Shop Credit

To win a $20 credit to Acute Designs, simply visit the shop and come back to this post leaving a comment about which item you most covet from the collection.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced on this post next Tuesday (5/24).

[credit for model photos]

dear purpose seeker,

May 16th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

Over the past few weeks I’ve received several emails from MML readers who are in the process of finding their purpose and next stage in their life. This murky and dark time can be overwhelming, scary, and seeking advice usually seems to be the best course of action. “If I don’t know what I’m supposed to do yet, maybe someone else can help me figure it out.” But the complete truth is only you know the answer to what you are supposed to do, it comes from deep down inside. Time, reflection, and making under our lives allows us to hear and follow the voice from within.

Today and tomorrow I will share letters I have written to Purpose Seekers in hopes that others facing similar situations will see a bit of themselves in the letters and find a calm place to stop and reflect during their journey. Enjoy!

Dear Purpose Seeker,

It was great hearing your story – you have lived quite an adventure and you should be proud of yourself for jumping into so many awesome opportunities so quickly, at such a young age. I think this is going to serve you well in the future, and something to be proud of first and foremost.

That said, I think it goes without saying that I have no magical potion for you (not that you expected one) that can help you with the next phase of your life and finding your purpose. In fact, no one has the answer. It actually lies deep in your gut in a quiet and calm place. If that voice inside deep down hasn’t whispered it to you yet – then it’s just a matter of time (don’t we wish we can just hurry that process up a bit! – unfortunately we can’t).

It definitely sounds like your life is in transition after the relationship and that is okay. I went through a similar phase last year – it was incredibly tough, but I quickly found for me, it was the best thing that could have happened to me in the long run – I just had to simply have faith and believe that was the case before I actually saw that it was true.

So… my recommendations while you are going through this period of unknowing include reading this post about the same topic, finding a way to help others doing something you love – for free. Yep, start helping people in some way that you enjoy to help get your ego off the constant merry-go-round of “what about me? what is going on? why don’t I know my purpose yet? blah, blah, blah” that voice inside your head that is jumping up and down scared is just your ego thinking that it’s easy for people to find their purposes (it’s often not) and tells you that you should be able to figure this out by now (you don’t have to).

You are young, you are adventurous! Don’t let the scared little ego voice in your head let you feel badly about what you have done and where you are going. Recognize that you are going to be working theoretically for decades and that you can do one thing now and change direction when you find out more of your purpose from your spirit! And your life is not defined in and of itself by what you do in your “working hours” there is so much more to your life, you can always start cultivating the other areas so that you are able to enjoy everyday along this journey. Live in this moment, in the not knowing, and have faith that it’s working out for the best.

In fact, if you do believe in any faith I would also turn to that and reflect, journal, pray, or meditate along the way. Documenting your thoughts once or twice a week over time will help you see that you are finding out more and more about what you do want – this will not be a black and white process. When I don’t know what to do (happens all the time) this is the first place that I turn to and honestly, where I spend most of my time until the answers I seek are revealed in some way in my life.

And if all else fails, start reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That’s what I did when I was in the dark about my life five or six years ago and through studying the first three habits for several years my life has honestly changed enormously. Or read any other kind of personal development book that hits home for you (here’s my bookshelf). Start being a better “you” and you’ll find your purpose will will begin to unfold and you’ll be better able to accomplish the tasks ahead.

With all my love and faith,

dream report update!

May 13th, 2011   |   Life

Midnight hustler still. : )

This post is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Which can really just sum up what our dream report has been about. Starting a small business is hard. Starting a small business with your husband is crazy. Good thing we both like a challenge and we’re both a little crazy.

I woke up abnormally early this morning, so excited about our launch. Which really is just a unveiling of our website and blog. But please know that there will be hor d’ourves and cocktails flowing at the Skeen household all day long for this event. (AKA we’ve got some granola bars, mixed nuts and 1% milk, call if you’re interested in this party).

But before I go and share our new site I wanted to say thank you. Thank you to Jess for letting us wax not-so-poetically here on her blog and for the encouragement that she gave us each week after our posts. (If you need a swift kick of encouragement in the pants, Jess is your girl.) And thank you to you all — for sticking this journey out with us and finding nice things to say along the way. You don’t know how encouraging you’ve been with your emails and comments, so thank you. If you believe in karma, I’ve got a feeling that good things are headed your way.

Since taking a hiatus from dream report posts, with (almost) everything in place, we only had one more thing to conquer: the website. I told Bryan building a business is like building a house — you lay the foundation for your business, building the walls of what you want it to be. But your website — your website is the paint and furniture in the house. It’s what makes the house come alive, feel complete. So that’s what we’ve been doing — painting our walls and moving into a brand new website and blog. When we started working on our blog, we wanted to make it feel cozy and loved. And since starting our dream report, we’ve booked a few shoots as the Photographers Skeen that we want share with you. After all, every house needs pictures on the wall, right?

So without further ado, we’re inviting you in. Friends and family, we welcome you into our new home.


Launch party is in session, 1% milk for everyone!

Thank you again for the love and support!

– The Photographers Skeen

the shine project

May 12th, 2011   |   Life

Ashley LeMieux recently tapped me and introduced her amazing service organization, The Shine Project, and asked to share it here on MML. After finding out more about the group I was all ears and wanted her to personally share the project’s mission and current endeavors. You can find more info on her blog, ashlemieux.blogspot.com as well. Enjoy!

The Shine Project

Just so we’re a little more acquainted, my name is Ashley,
and I want to inspire the WORLD.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a dream,
and you didn’t reach it.
Don’t be shy, no one can actually see you raising your hand at your computer,
unless your in your work cubicle or something.
Then this might be awkward.
Why do all of us have a goal that has been left unfulfilled?
Why do we sell ourselves short of our potential?
This is why I created The Shine Project.
To give daily motivation,
and weekly challenges,
that push us out of our comfort zone to stop making excuses

Now, think about the last time you went out of your way,
to help someone.
The Shine Project is also a source of motivation to push us
to give light to those around us who are in need.
Think of what the world would be like,
if everyone did one thoughtful thing for someone else every day.
I want The Shine Project to change the world.

Come join The Shine Project team.
Motivate yourself, feel good about what you can accomplish,
and lift the burdens of those around you.
I have created SHINE necklaces so we all can have a daily reminder of our purpose.
$1 for each necklace sold goes into The Shine Project Scholarship Fund,
which will be rewarded to an inner city high school student to help them pay for college.

This week’s Shine Challenge is to evaluate your “circle of influence”.
Are you up for it?
I just revealed the new direction of The Shine Project, which will allow YOU to
be a SHINE group service leader in your community. To unite us, I
created SHINE t-shirts that are also up for sale on my blog!
The second ever group SHINE project will be in San Diego, June 11th.
I’d love to have you come help clean the beaches with us!
Come join me at ashlemieux.blogspot.com
And go ahead,
let the world see you SHINE.

It’s funny, for some reason I had an easier time sharing pictures of tampons and birth control than I do talking about something super intimate and important in my life.

My spirituality.

But after thinking about it a lot, I’ve decided that keeping this side of my life a secret here on MML is not serving anyone. It doesn’t help you know me any better, or to realize what really goes through my mind in almost all major decisions, actions, and reactions. I have stayed away from the topic simply because:

a) I think faith of any kind is a personal one and what I believe should have no impact on anyone else.

b) Because I was afraid that it might in some way distance people here on MML.

However, that still leaves people completely at a loss for understanding who I really am. So my hope is that I can share my personal thoughts on this subject, how it’s impacted areas of my personal life, and let you really know my life includes faith. I will also mention right away that I do not want this post to seem as though I am trying to convert, convince, or encourage anyone to believe anything specific whatsoever. I think success is possible for everyone of any (or no) belief.

So here it goes…

I was raised Catholic when I was young and for most of my childhood I would consider myself pretty religious. It helped me escape things that were difficult and provided me with a lot of comfort. Then in college I went through a challenging period in my life where I literally re-thought everything I believed, including my faith. After many long afternoon walks my junior year of college, I had a better understanding of what I personally believed independent of any previous teaching. I also loved, devoured, and studied Buddhism and Confucianism in college through classes and outside reading. But my daily life was largely unchanged.

Then I graduated and moved to Chicago and started Jess LC full-time. This is where faith started to get pretty interesting to me. It started to come off the bookshelf and insert itself into my daily life, thoughts, and actions. A month or two into launching Jess LC in Chicago I had the massive realization that I would never have a paycheck the way employed people do. And the only thing to get me through that realization was the fact that I had to believe that the money would come, that things would work out, and that I was meant to do what I was doing in some greater context. Though this may not really be true, it provided me with a lot of comfort.

I began to rely on what I believed God was (the best way I can describe that for me is Love and energy) and that by following principals laid out in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Buddhism, and Christianity. When I had moments of complete darkness as to what to do next with the business, I prayed. When ends looked like they weren’t going to meet, I prayed. When I went through a long, painful breakup, I prayed like crazy. By last summer my life in so many ways was governed by prayer and seeking through my patchwork quilt of faith.

For me, prayer is usually in the form of letters to myself or to what I consider the Holy Spirit (the part of me that is detached from my ego and can see and execute what my spirit really wants deep down inside).

Last year I began to expand beyond my Buddhist readings to include a lot of Christian teachings. I randomly found Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life program on TV and started Tivo-ing it daily. It became my lifeline whenever I was having trouble with areas of my life. In order to rectify her Christian teachings with my own I simply insert different vocabulary into her messages. To me, the devil is my ego, Jesus is a teacher who has reached enlightenment, and so forth. The teachings themselves are incredibly easy to relate to and her own story is insanely inspiring. She applies thoughts like the manure in life helps you grow in God (which I adapted for yesterday’s post), and she used a pregnancy analogy to compare Christians who know better but don’t apply the teachings in real life (which triggered my thought on Friday).

I also started reading the A Course In Miracles workbook last year as well. In fact, so much of my “thinking with intention” posts come from some kind of teaching or idea that has sprung from some aspect of faith in my life. And I can honestly say that through this winding road of faith I have learned an immense amount, felt more confidence in my business decisions, and more peace with the challenges that lie ahead that I would normally be able to muster.

So there you have it. This is me. A person who makes many mistakes along the way but always strives to do what is right and best. And when things get hard, I write/pray, and seek out teachings on areas that may help me with the challenge at hand. It doesn’t make me perfect (it never will), but it does help me continually become a kinder, more intentional Jess Constable.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a very good friend about her intention for her career. In a (somewhat) sudden bolt of clarity, she realized her next mission in life is to teach private music lessons. Having been a very talented flute performance major in college, she is perfectly suited to the task. After a few years of teaching elementary music she now finds herself in a new town seeking the next phase of her life and career.

While she was thinking about her next career intention she decided to substitute teach in her new community. At first the subbing was fulfilling in and of itself. But over time as her purpose began to emerge in her consciousness, the subbing became something to dread.

In our private lesson conversation, we realized that her substitute teaching income could be the perfect seed money for her new company. And at one point I blurted out that her substitute teaching money was the shit that would eventually fertilize her new business.

And it clicked. No longer was this temporary position something she needed to rail against, it was actually a conduit for her dream to come true. Though the actual task of subbing is still the same, the purpose and intention behind the act has been lifted to a higher, more intentional realm. She no longer needs to feel stuck and without options. This is a choice she is making that allows her to go into her private lesson business funded.

And that makes all the difference.


I originally wanted to call this post “My Souped Up Linen Closet” but Mr. Lively in a mix of sarcasm and reflection mentioned that it should be titled “Designing Behind Closed Doors” and the name stuck. Yes, I unabashedly went way far beyond the call of duty and created a beautiful linen closet for my toiletries next to my bathroom. You see, I live in a not-so-big one bedroom apartment and only have a meager medicine cabinet in the bathroom for storage. So this closet directly next to the bathroom is where I begin and end each day.

And the builder basic rod shelving was not a pretty to look at as I got ready, nor was it practical. It was virtually impossible to get the deodorant to stand upright on those bars and I am just simply too Type-A not to have my products standing correctly.

Given that I’m all about designing my home with intention, I decided that the frustration I felt each day using this rather important area of my home warranted a little makeover. Though I don’t have a before picture to share, just imagine all these products in the same places… with many things lying caddywhompus (never thought I’d use that word here on MML).

And here is what it looks like now.

Much, much, much better. I actually look forward to opening the closet door now.

To make this space seem less utilitarian I used a lot of unusual items for storage. To create a durable, solid surface on all four shelves I found glass cutting boards at Pier 1. They were on sale marked down to $7 each and had a cherry motif on the top. But by turning them upside down I instantly had durable, high quality shelves. In the future I may paint the top of the glass, but for now the white bottom is completely functional.

You can also note the super cute apothecary jar that holds aspirin on the main shelf (inspired by an off-hand comment made by Nate Berkus about his own organizing obsession). I love this so much, though it obviously may not be a good idea for those with children.

I’ll start the more detailed tour on the main, middle shelf. I used a green desk organizer from Target ($7) to hold my lotions and other daily toiletries. The front level is easy to grab from but keeps everything orderly when not in use. The back level is great for the large moisturizers which don’t need to come out of the closet to be used.

The cute white bird tray made to store soap, was found at World Market ($10). Here it’s a great little accent piece for a glass bowl of hair accessories (TJ Maxx $5) and a candy container…

… filled with my monthly pills. Much prettier than an obvious and disposable plastic container.

Nice candle boxes make excellent storage containers. I stored cotton pads in this one.

And nail polish and manicure items are stashed in the other two.

My extra recipe box became the cutest container for tampons I have ever seen.

For less frequently used items, my blow dryer, and duplicate toiletries I love these sturdy blue boxes. I used to have white plastic tubs where were nice but these ones provide a nice pop of color and make the whole place look a lot more unified since they hide the contents from view when not in use.

So there you have it! Though us small space dwellers can’t have souped up laundry rooms, we can still have the chance to splurge on our own little part of our homes.

I’ll be back in the weeks to come with more Designing Behind Closed Doors reveals.

okay i lied…

May 6th, 2011   |   Life

I said I wasn’t going to post today, and I am. Just want to stop in with a few nuggets.

For those of you who hate your jobs but haven’t taken action yet…

Here is something I wrote to a friend in a similar situation recently (hopefully it strikes home with you too):

I know that the job thing has been bothering you for a while. I feel like in a way you are pregnant with the idea that you need to do something else, but the definition of what that is is still hazy enough to stay inside you. Once you find it deep in your soul nothing will stop you from giving birth to it – be it a business(es), new job, whatever. Right now you are just in that third trimester of uncomfortableness – but that’s a good thing! It makes the giving birth part a whole lot easier because you are so unhappy and “fat” with the possibility that there is something new around the corner. Give it time, eventually life, God, and your next step will come from within you so strongly that you’ll be in labor before you know it and never look back! You can’t stuff a baby back inside once it wants to come out.

Live Creating Yourself’s Fashion Vs. Furnishings Challenge

LYC Graphic

Alaina has pitted our Lake Shore Tote against Jayson Home and Garden’s Throw. Hop over to pick your favorite!

Apartment Therapy chevron feature…


A huge thanks to Apartment Therapy New York for featuring my chevron painting project.

Miss Kat’s Adorable Sheep

Our amazing-incredible Jess LC illustrator and Kat of Kat Doodles is up for nomination in ModCloth’s Cute as a Button Contest. Hop on over to vote!


Have a lovely weekend! For those of you Chicago readers, tomorrow is the first weekend day of the outdoor Green City Market! I know where I’ll be grabbing my morning scone…


May 5th, 2011   |   Think About It

Okay guys, I’m going to level with you.

But first, I want to get a little housekeeping out of the way. I am blown away by the fantastic response to the new bags! I had high hopes, but somehow the reality has exceeded them. Our Navy Tote and Navy Tote and Pouch Combo (so far the totes and tote combos are the most popular) sold out yesterday! I know. Crazy. But the good news is that we make them in Chicago and will have them re-stocked quickly. So feel free to pre-order the bags for a May 21st ship date.

Now back to the overwhelm. I’m going to be honest, usually I wait a bit more time before leveling with you here on MML about things I’m learning. But this time I think it’s best that I come out now.

Last night before bedtime I fell on my bed and had the sweeping urge to cry.

For the past two and half weeks my life has been one long unending push. I moved, flew to SF, shot the lookbook, met Mr. Lively’s parents, flew home, prepared the bag launch, walk/ran 13 miles, launched the collection, made a great new commitment to an awesome organization, and trained for a half marathon. And so, so much of this – if not all – is positive. Nothing bad, just too much.

At first I thought this was kind of like training for a race and learning to run at a higher tempo. I thought that I could adjust to the increased pace and push through with copious amounts of love and caffeine. And that has worked up until Tuesday. But even the list of still-to-dos is unending. I have a house warming and launch party to prepare for tomorrow evening, meetings the next two days, a final half marathon training run, and tons of orders to get out the door.

And more and more frequently I’m finding that my body simply cannot continue. So yesterday during my emotional overload I had a cry with Mr. Lively and resolved to take off my plate what can be adjusted so that I can continue going forward, focusing on the essentials. Here is what I have prioritized and dropped for the next several days.

I will…

  • Get our orders out the door.
  • Buy new bath towels and make the girls a new bulletin board.
  • Figure out what I want to serve at the party tomorrow and respond to emails about the party.
  • Clean the apartment before guests arrive.
  • Move bookshelves to create a new packing station for Jess LC.
  • Organize the food cupboard.
  • Attend my two business meetings.
  • Finish other essential Jess LC tasks.

I won’t…

  • Run the half marathon. – I will simply sign up for another one later this summer or run the distance on my own a few weeks from now when I have time to train properly.
  • Do the laundry. Though it would be nice, it’s not necessary before Friday’s party.
  • Get curtains for my bedroom closets.
  • Organize the linen closet and office supplies.
  • Stay up late checking stats and thinking about the studio until bedtime.
  • Post on MML tomorrow.

So there you have it. Making this shift and taking things off my plate is allowing me to appreciate the amazing-ness of the past two weeks without stress about the next few days. I hope that by lightening this load I’ve placed on my shoulders my body will start to get it’s life back.

I owe it to myself to design and protect my life and peace of mind. I am responsible for my life and how I react to it.

Thanks for listening, supporting, and caring. I’ll see you back here on Monday.


PS – The amazingly sweet designer and blogger Megan Nielsen did a great feature post on me, Jess LC, and many of the best posts from MML.

making the lake shore lookbook

May 4th, 2011   |   Life

Originally I planned to split this post into two, but I’ve decided to group it altogether in one big post instead. I’d like to share a bit of the behind the scenes of the lookbook and the people who helped make it happen.

Behind the Scenes

First, let’s start with some peeks Kelly snapped throughout the day that didn’t make it into the lookbook.

Anne. I was so thrilled to have her model for the shoot because she was a breath fresh of west coast air. I’ve never shot outside of Chicago before, and with the theme being “Going Places” going to SF and having her as our model felt like the perfect way to launch Jess LC bags. She is also an extremely special person to me because she has changed my life in one specific and deep way: she encouraged me to start blogging seriously when I just started MML. At the time that I launched the site I never expected anyone to read or comment, it was simply a better way to draft a book proposal than using a Word.doc. But her early support and guidance helped me realize I can start helping people right here, right now.

Since that fateful introduction two years ago my life has profoundly changed for the better and I credit her for the success I’ve had with MML and Jess LC to a large extent, online.

So thank you Anne, thank you more than you will ever know.

Though the feel of the shoot is pretty effortless, there was a small amount of tweaking to make each shot looked just right. Here I’m helping Anne get her crossbody bag fluffed perfectly.

During an impromptu shoot in an amazing thrift store (Anne snagged a great gift and some awesome shelves while we set up), we came across this awesome 1930′s meditation chair – which I can best describe as an “urban hammock.” So cool. Though it didn’t make it into the lookbook, it’s definitely worth pointing out.

During a great lunch near the Ferry building Kelly, Anne, and I got to know each other better and discovered a lot of random things that we have in common with one another.

Our second coffee break took us to The Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building that Mr. Lively had raved about before I took the trip.

Though the day was a lot of fun, it wasn’t without it’s share of work breaks as well. Here Anne is scoping out photos from a shoot in Los Angeles that she did for Rue the day before.

Also while in line a very nice couple stood and pondered why we had so many bags and were taking photos. The woman guessed we were shooting a L.L. Bean catalog.

The flower shots we captured were a bit of a surprise to us all. I knew I wanted to capture the tote with flowers inside, and this stand was the closest we got to blooms the whole day. Since the stems were soaking wet, we decided to plop a metal can of flowers into the bag and set it up within the stand for a cute shot.

The very nice man who allowed us to shoot Anne in front of his stand in downtown SF.

After a long-ish day of shooting we celebrated with a glass of wine outside. The perfect way to end the adventure.

The woman behind the lense

Yes, I know. She should have been modeling for us with Anne instead of standing behind the camera. But let’s be honest. I have no idea how to shoot with a fancy camera like that, so I left that job in her capable hands.

I was introduced to Kelly Stonelake by my dear friend Crystal and it we had an instant connection. I knew it was a good omen when I saw that she had a picture of a Westie on her site. We also share the same middle name (Lynne), and her husband and Mr. Lively are peculiarly similar (sidenote: try saying peculiarly three times fast). She also has a pretty sweet day job to boot.

We met on the day of the shooting and if you are ever in the market for a photographer I cannot say enough good things about Kelly. She is on top of every ball imaginable, does a beautiful job with very little set up, and is super flexible (in style and contorting her body for just the right angle).

She’s fun to be around and she sent me pictures the very next day. I can honestly say that if you live in the SF/Palo Alto area, give her a call for any photography you need. She does both large and small projects. Heck, she’ll even help you craft the perfect photo for your dating profile.

Special thanks goes to…

Crystal. She is such a kind and generous friend. Not only did she let me crash at her place during the trip, but she also connected me with Kelly, helped Anne and I, and was an unwavering support for me as I worked to get the bags designed and made. I’m so happy to have her as a friend and I hope to one day live close by… : )

The finished product


Thanks for the shout out…

PS- Thank you Alaina of Live Creating Yourself, Anne of The City Sage, Alli Michelle of Hooray, and Alex of Things That Sparkle for writing about the bag collection! It means so much to me to see such warm support of this new endeavor.

introducing Jess LC bags

May 3rd, 2011   |   Life

The big day is finally here! Thank you so much for supporting me throughout this journey. It has been quite a ride from that fateful day I sat in New York and allowed myself to imagine a company that is bigger than just jewelry and though it wasn’t always easy, it has definitely been worth it. I’ve had a blast learning a whole new design process and I am so proud of the bags that I have to share.

I am also tickled pink by the incredible lookbook collaboration with Anne Sage of The City Sage and co-founder of Rue and the fantastic photography by Kelly Stonelake of Kelly Stonelake Photography. I’ll have more on the lookbook process tomorrow, but for now, please enjoy the bags and photos!

The reason I chose to launch into bags after designing jewelry exclusively for the last twelve years is very much tied to the mantra beneath our logo. I believe that life can be designed with intention – and design likewise should also be driven by intent.

Handbags are a great combination of design and intention. Bags are not only beautiful, but also useful. With this philosophy in mind, I went about creating our Lake Shore collection to be multifunctional, easy to wear, and effortlessly chic. Read on to see the intention behind each style.

Lake Shore Tote

I knew I wanted a bag that could carry my laptop (fits 15″ laptops) to the coffee shop and my beach towel to the North Avenue beach in equal measure. I also wanted to go grocery shopping and to important meetings without having to change my bag. The leather bottom makes the bag durable and allows the bag to stand upright. The zipper pocket and cell phone slots are also endlessly useful – no more digging to the bottom to answer my phone. But what I love most about this style is the outer side snaps that keep the bag looking crisp when heading to the office but also allow for a bevy of farmers market produce when needed.

Lake Shore Clutch

The vision for the clutch was simple: I wanted something classic and easy to wear to the Chicago’s beer gardens. Be it a pilsner or a pinot grigio, I wanted a clutch that I could tuck under my arm or lay beside my drink. Too often clutches are either extremely formal or completely casual and I wanted a style that I could dress up or down. The inside is big enough for my large wallet, yet the two credit card pockets sewn inside also can store my cards and cash. And the snap and zipper closures keep things safely tucked away.

Lake Shore Crossbody

Truth be told, I have had a crossbody bag on my wish list for the past year. Something small that could fit my essentials while I scour flea markets for my next new treasure or ride my new turquoise bike. The fact that it also can adjust to lay comfortably over the shoulder as well is icing on the cake. The two credit card pockets inside can act as my wallet leaving room for my cell phone, keys, sunglasses, camera, and lip gloss. It is the perfect little adventure companion.

Lake Shore Pouch

The pouch is designed to be endlessly useful. I have a feeling mine will have many lives including pencil case, makeup case, wallet, impromptu clutch, and travel organizer. It’s small enough to toss into my tote and large enough to fit my essentials. Two credit card pockets provide a few more spaces to organize small paper, cards, or cash.

The Lake Shore Lookbook

Click below to see the complete lookbook.


Click to download the free full-size May Wallpaper.

As I head into the bag launch home stretch (hopefully tomorrow if all goes as planned), you can imagine that I have lots of excitement and a vein of worry swirling around in my mind. Over the years previous launches have helped me have more faith and understanding, but I still am walking into uncharted territory nonetheless.

While the adrenaline is pumping, I’m reminding myself of this quote by Joyce Meyer, “Worry is making a down payment on a problem you may never have.” No need for me to stress out too much about how things go today or tomorrow, only time will tell.

Which of course is a great reminder for us all in whatever situations we face this month.

Click to download the free full-size May Wallpaper.

Reach Out

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

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

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Guest post + blog advertising policy.

Due to the format of my work, I do not accept guest posts or blog advertising (sponsorship is only available for The Lively Show podcast and you can get more info by submitting here).

Have a question about your Intention Tattoo order?

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


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