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new Jess LC lucite trays and stationery
September 11th, 2012     |    Style


Today I’m excited to announce that we have two new collections over at Jess LC. We now have fresh stationery and brand new lucite trays!

We partnered with Pencil Shavings Studio to create incredible gold and white lucite trays (that are interchangeable, so you can swap out the patterns as often as you like and order more than one pattern for the same tray).

For the patterns, we decided to go for my favorite color combination of all time: gold and white. Then, we chose three different looks. Bold stripes, arrows that coordinate with our new stationery, and our own Jess LC logo pattern. You can shop them all in the Randolph Collection.

Next, we worked with Fig. 2 Design Studio on some new folded note card sets for the shop as well. We chose a gold and white theme for the Arrow Thank You cards and the Jess LC coral for the Hey There set. You can shop these little guys in the Webster Collection.

And last but not least, we created a Hostess with the Mostess package that combines any tray with either stationery set at a combined discount. We think this could be a super cute housewarming gift or wedding present.

As usual, we have a lookbook for the collections as well which has much more inspiration. In order to make this lookbook and launch possible, I’d like to thank Caitlin Brown for styling and Stacia Albiston for graphic design.


rooftop party
September 10th, 2012     |    FoodLifeStyle


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I celebrated our marriage with our friends both near and far by throwing a rooftop party.

Our intention with the party was to make it beautiful and as stress-free as possible.

When creating a vision for the party, I imagined using our apartment building’s roof deck. For decor, I got color inspiration from the pops of blue in our wedding ceremony. We also agreed that we should incorporate all the foods we wanted to have at a traditional wedding reception: a build your own mini-slider bar, mac and cheese, my favorite cupcakes, a signature cocktail, and craft beer.

To help us keep things manageable, we decided to only cook the sliders and buy prepared foods for the rest of the meal. After a rather very stressful Fourth of July party earlier this year, we knew that it would be nice if we cooked everything ourselves… but definitely not necessary.

So we took a few trips to Cost Co and Binny’s and wound up with a fridge that looked like this.

Since we had over 50 friends to serve, this fridge is just a fraction of the goods we had to bring down the the roof deck. To help speed the process along, we borrowed the building’s moving cart to load up all the items we needed in batches.

We also we were extremely fortunate that my best friend and “maid of honor,” Maggie, and her fiance, Tony, were on hand to help us prepare. Due to their enormous help and enthusiasm, we were able to get the whole party prepped in about three or four hours.

Here’s a rundown of the party in photos.

photo via Cathy 


The night before the party, Maggie invited my girlfriends out to celebrate my marriage in a “bachelorette-like” party. But since I was already married and had no interest in a tiara or phallic-anything, we dubbed it a “Mrs. Party.” We met at my favorite swanky bar, The Bedford, and drank nice cocktails. It was the perfect low-key way to spend time with some of my closest friends.

The next morning I was so happy to discover we had the perfect warm-but-cool weather for the party. Our only weather related challenge was the wind in the afternoon, which made affixing tablecloths near impossible a challenge.

We purchased serving dishes for the event, which we will use forever-after as well. We decided on white dishes so we can evolve our collection over time. In fact, our bowls seen here are from my Grandpa’s collection and the rectangle dishes are from Crate and Barrel Outlet. Because the lines of all the dishes are clean and simple, we will be able to expand the collection endlessly into the future and still remain coordinated.

You will also notice the white table cloth. Those are actually three large white plastic table cloths purchased with the other party supplies. We used a liberal amount of clear packing tape to ensure that the granite table was covered and would not get blown away. At the end of the night all we needed to do for clean up was remove the tablecloths and throw them away – which definitely beat scrubbing down the giant granite bar by hand. The white covering also created a great backdrop for my color scheme as well. Had we just left the regular dark pink granite as-is, I don’t think the party would have felt as pulled together.

We also picked up a big metal wine bucket at Target earlier in the summer which worked perfectly with our white dishware. Under the table the beers were stashed in a cooler.

As I mentioned before, I also wanted to have a cocktail station. Mr. Lively and I are usually not cocktail people, but I thought it would be nice to serve the one cocktail I adore: the Classic St. Germain. Each of those beakers has marks which indicate how much St. Germain, soda water, and champagne should be added for a perfectly prepared drink.

Our blue napkins and gold(!) plastic silverware, plates, and silo cups were the major pops of color for the table. I ordered them online here. (As you can tell, Mr. Lively let me pick the decor for the event.)

We also lucked out on this caddy for about $7, which happened to be the exact same blue as the napkins, at the Crate and Barrel Outlet. It was a pure fluke.

Because we indulged in amazing cheese while at our cooking class in Paris, we decided to serve fancy French cheese to our party. Mr. Lively splurged on these incredible French cheeses found at Pastoral. Besides the cocktails, they were the biggest hit at the party.

We scored the white marble cheese plate for just $19.95 at Crate and Barrel the day before the party.

On the other side of the table we had an array of cheeses for the mini sliders. My favorite find for the party was the batch of chalkboard stickers  from World Market. They were super easy to label (they come with the chalk in the package), and because they stuck to the table cloth, we didn’t have to worry about them blowing away.

By 4:00 we were all set for guests. Here are the two fantastic people that helped us make the party such a hit, Maggie and Tony.

Our friend Ryan acted as bartender and mixed up the St. Germain cocktails.

Once the grilled veggies for the sliders were ready, Mr. Lively dished them out on disposable serving trays. Again, more easy clean up.

People had a great time mingling and hanging out.

Mr. Lively was Husband of the Year and made sure everyone had as many sliders as they pleased and made sure I didn’t get too stressed.

And he also took the time to hang out with his friends visiting from Kansas City.

I was lucky enough to have friends from my hometown, Rochester, Michigan, travel from all parts of the country. Thank you Maggie (New York), Catherine (Georgia), and Krista (Michigan).

It was a treat to also spend time with my girls from the University of Michigan, too. Marisa, Maggie, and I call ourselves The Tribunal.

A few hours into the party we served our cupcakes. My all time favorite, Magnolia.

By the time we ran out of beer (again), it was time to head over to Matilda’s for a 90’s dance party.

I am so incredibly grateful for such a fun-filled party with those we love. It definitely hit the refined and relaxed intention we were going for. I hope that some of our party decisions might come in handy for others planning big bashes.


this week i’m thankful for
September 7th, 2012     |    Life


This week I am incredibly thankful for my light bulb moment about sharing my life here more on the blog. From your supportive comments I can tell I really did hit the nail on the head.

I’m also thankful for tomorrow’s Wedding Bash Mr. Lively and I are throwing for our friends. It will be a chic Chicago-style rooftop party. There will be a build-your-own mini slider bar, snacks, my favorite dessert, and lots of craft beer. These were all the foods we wanted at our wedding, had we not eloped, so they are making their way into our rooftop menu.

Since I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’ve approached the party intentionally to keep things beautiful, but pretty low-key. I’ll share more on my party plan next week.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on Monday!

packing with intention
September 6th, 2012     |    LifeStyle


Over the past few weeks a few people have asked me to talk about how I packed for our nine day trip to Paris on Twitter and the JL Facebook page.

At first I just answered their questions as best I could without any real plan to write a full post about it. Because let’s be honest, I’m not an “expert” at packing. I’m sure there are many articles and posts out there that would do a much better job and have much more helpful information.

But as I mentioned in my light bulb moment, I did approach my packing with intention and I can share my method as well as what I’ve learned since the trip that might be helpful for others, even though I’m not atravel pro.

Due to the fact that I was running around like a mad woman preparing the businesses for our extended leave, prepping the wedding posts, and helping Mr. Lively code the new look for the blog, I did not document much of my actual packing process.

In fact, that image above is all I’ve got.

So, I will explain in words and also “recreate” a few of the more helpful aspects of my packing intention.

The first thing I did was create a vision. Way before getting the suitcase out from the closet, I envisioned what I wanted to wear on the trip, how I wanted to look, and what things we wanted to do. Because this was my wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one, I really wanted to look cute and stylish. And for me, that meant lots of summer dresses.

I also knew I would need to pack layers in case it got cold at night, and I wanted a lot of shoe options. This vision also helped me during my wedding gift shopping spree to get the right pieces for the week as well as my wardrobe at large.

Then, once it was time to pack, I pulled out the items that matched my vision and made sure that there were at least two different ways I could wear each item (dresses excluded). I’m notorious for being such a minimalist packer that I often find myself wishing I brought more clothing, so this trip I made sure to pack as liberally as my travel gear would allow.

Here’s a pretty quick rundown of the major items I packed:

  • Summer dresses (4)
  • Dinner dresses (2)
  • Wedding dress (1)
  • Pencil skirt (1)
  • Blazer (1)
  • Jeans (2)
  • Shoes (8)
  • Handbags (3)
  • Colored jeans (1)
  • Tops (5)
  • Cardigan (1)
  • “Honeymoon pajamas” hint, hint (3)
  • Running shoes (1)
  • Workout gear (2 outfits)
  • Socks and underwear (9)

To transport the items I split them across a large suitcase, small carry on suitcase, and a dress/garment bag that I got for free from BCBG with the purchase of some of the dresses.

The wedding dress, blazer, and delicate dresses all made it into the same garment bag. During the flight they were (thankfully) cared for by the Air France flight attendants.

The other wedding day items were all packed in the carry on suitcase just in case something happened to the checked bag. I also stashed my blow dryer and curling iron in the small case.

This left the large suitcase for shoes, liquids, and casual clothing. Our hefty power converter was tucked into Mr. Lively’s carry on.

And though there was not much room left in my suitcases, our gifts and purchases did later get split among our travel gear, with the bulk of the items stored in Mr. Lively’s large and small suitcases.

One new element I added to my packing routine which paid off well was my shoe organization. For the first time in my life I’ve been actually “investing” in nice shoes (which to me is anything over $50), and I wanted to pack them with more care than my usual big Bag’o’Shoes.

So I created a better Bag’o’Shoes.

I wrapped the ballet flats in tissue paper like burritos. (Note: colored tissue can bleed onto shoes, so keep that in mind when packing light colors or delicate fabrics.)

When it came to my sweet new suede shoes, I kept them in the original plastic bags with the tissue to help them keep their shape and not put undue pressure on the suede texture.

So after prepping them all, I ended up with these Shoe Burritos. As you can see I also used plastic bags for sturdier shoes, too.

Next it was time to stack them in rows in the Bag’o’Shoe Bag.

And voila! My easy to pack shoe carrier. As for the blue satin wedding shoes, those were safely tucked in their box every moment they were not worn.

When it came to handbags, I was really pleased with what I packed. The tote was great for our day in London to carry cameras and gifts. The little “fancy” purse was great for nights out when cameras weren’t necessary. And the blue beauty was part of my wedding gift and became the star of the trip. He was the perfect size for our DSLR and Instax Mini.

In fact, when it got heavy after a long day of wandering the Parisian streets, Mr. Lively carried it as well.


Looking back on the trip, there were things I never wore at all and things that I wished that I had packed in the first place. Here’s what I would have done differently:

  • Less shoes. The red and green pair I brought were not comfortable enough to wander for hours and coulda stayed home.
  • Shorts!Oh how I longed for a pair of nice shorts to wear after days of dresses. I never would have guessed that after looking “super cute” for so long I’d want to just relax a bit. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
  • More cardigans. I only brought one and once I used it as a “blanket” to sit on under the Eiffel Tower, I didn’t want to wear it the rest of the trip.

So there you have it! I hope this is helpful for others taking big trips like this in the future.


life with intention
September 6th, 2012     |    Life

To be honest, it’s 11:30pm and I just had an epiphany after watching Sarah’s House. So I’m writing while Mr. Lively falls fast asleep in bed and my mind races with inspiration at my desk.

For those who might not watch HGTV, Sarah’s House is a show about Sarah Richardson designing homes new and old with great intention, room by room. The beauty of her shows is that she shares the intentions of her designs as well as the challenges that she overcomes.

There was many a day that I sat in front of her show watching her work through setbacks with building, production, and manufacturing while I was designing bags for Jess LC for the first time. The nitty-gritty and not-so-pretty of business is not often divulged on TV or in business in general. So I devoured her honest depiction of her obstacles. And at the end of each show there is a beautiful room to show for all her hard work, hustle, and quick thinking which kept me pressing on in my own design process.

It’s incredibly satisfying for me as a designer and business woman. It makes my own challenges less scary and more handle-able.

And every so often I dream of being like Sarah as a person. So when Mr. Lively has an offhand comment that my hair or outfit seems to look “Sarah-like,” my heart soars.

True story.

But the point of this post is not about Sarah Richardson, no matter how much I admire her.

The point is about why I admire her and how that relates to this very blog. I have just realized that while I’m juggling a huge year in my life, I’ve been in many ways “hiding” it here. Sure you can see a quick summary of my week on Fridays during my This Week I’m Thankful For posts, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

And honest posts about handling anxiety like this week’s Worry Chain don’t really get the point home either. Not really.

Though I’ve been quick to offer up solutions and tips that help me handle stress in my life which might be helpful, I have not really been sharing the process of designing this year with intention. Or at least not far beyond our recent elopement and wedding planning.

And as my worry chain depicts, there are many, many changes in our future which have been stressing me out. Moving, decorating a beautiful home, raising a puppy, hosting two major parties, adjusting to marriage, and juggling three businesses during the holiday season are among my “worry links” for the next four months. But those same events are also those I am approaching with much care and intention – which is really causing all the stress I’m feeling in the first place.

I really want to do these next parts of my life with intention and that is what occupies my mind. It’s a blessing when done without anxiety and a curse when over-thinking.

But rather than share that here with you in hopes that my intentions might help others in similar life phases, or at least illustrate that we all have the chance to design these life changes with personal intention, I have kept them relegated to short pithy phrases on Fridays.

I’m not sharing the journey like Sarah does on her show which I admire (and appreciate) so greatly.

And it’s all because I’ve chosen to approach those aspects of my life without sharing them here, thinking they would not be of any interest to you.

But really, what I’ve just realized is that “designing a life and business with intention” is really about this life that I’m leading and juggling right now!  Those things that occupy my mind every moment only make up a fraction of a post at the end of the week. This is unbalanced.

Instead of keeping those things away from my content, I could be sharing them here, just like I did with the elopement. My decisions and intentions are not meant to be “mandates on how others should live their lives” but rather indications of how customized personal intentions can really be.

I need to celebrate those silly worry chain items here on the blog and embrace the fact that they will not work out perfectly, but with intention, they can help me get to where I want to be in my life.

So these next four months I will be sharing my move, decorating, marriage (with Mr. Lively’s permission), puppy, and businesses. I will let you in on the decisions I’m making now which will impact the outcome of each and every one of these things in my life.

I hope you join me for this crazy ride.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be intentional.


marriage intentions
September 5th, 2012     |    Relationships

Over the past few weeks of marriage, Mr. Lively and I have been putting a lot of thought and time into creating the foundation of our relationship. I’m happy to say we are thriving in this new chapter. But we have also had our share of disagreements as well. Not many, but a few.

During our first disagreement while married, we set a new intention for fighting.

While in the midst of an emotional rant, I found myself ending with “and we’ve only been married for a week and a half!

Though that statement was technically true, once we resolved our fight, Mr. Lively was quick to offer a new perspective.

He suggested that we drop any reference of marriage length while arguing. If something is not right while married, something is not right while married. To him it doesn’t matter if we’ve been married a week and a half, six months, four years, or 22 years. If we had the same argument six years from now it doesn’t make what I was upset about “acceptable” because we were married longer.

So going forward if we get upset we are allowed to get upset from a place of being married. Period. We are as committed to one another now as we will be a dozen years from now. And our arguments should not be weighed against the length of our marriage at any point in time.


photo by

Shelbie and I met during our freshman year of college in the Development office at the design school of University of Cincinnati. We were starting our first day of work in the Development Office, and became fast friends. Shelbie is one of the hardest working people I know. She’s graduating from college early (debt free) and recently made the brave decision not to follow her predicted path of going off to grad school to become a counselor. Instead, she is taking time to discover her true purpose. When I spoke with her about this last week, I was taken back to where I was just about this time last year, when I had high hopes but little direction with where I wanted to go with my life. After our conversation, I knew she would be a perfect candidate for a design your life interview. Thanks for sharing Shelbie! –Caitlin

This is my number one intention. I feel like there are so many pressures placed on an individual these days that it’s nearly impossible not to start picking yourself apart. It’s so easy to fall into all of the things you’re “not” instead of celebrating the things that you “are”.  So I think that learning to love yourself is the most important thing you can do. It is definitely an ongoing process (and not always an easy one) but in my opinion, worth it. Who else knows just how wonderful you truly are besides you? Be your own number one fan! It’s so important to love who you are inside and out because everyone is special, beautiful, and important.

This is probably my second most driving intention. I’m the kind of person who puts 110% into just about anything (sans cleaning my apartment). If I’m not invested in something, I feel like I don’t have a purpose. When I am truly invested in something, I can really accomplish incredible things. That’s the only explanation I have for holding 2 – 3 jobs, a full course load, and graduating early and debt free from college. If I didn’t bust my booty every day, I’d never know the value in my accomplishments. Hard work builds character, the key is to not over extend or commit oneself!


I absolutely have to have a balance between work and pleasure. I can really get caught up in the jumble of 12 hour work/class days but you’ve got to have a release. Having fun and enjoying the life you’re living is important too. That’s why I started my blog. There is more to life than work and school, and those little things that make life so enjoyable are the things you’ll remember when you’re older. So I love to explore, try new things, and live every minute of my good life!  My number one way to unwind and let loose: football and basketball games – the atmosphere is electric. Go Bearcats!

This is an unspoken and innate intention of mine. I am always (whether I realize it or not) helping or trying to help other people. I love to help my friends with little conflicts in their lives. I love to help people find their purpose. I love to help teach kids to tie their shoes. I love to help my co-workers finish a project.  I will help anyone who asks, and even those who don’t. I get a lot of fulfillment knowing I’ve made a difference or brightened a day by lightening someone’s load.

This is something that I have learned over my college experience. I tend to hold onto everything. Old fights mean things people have done, and especially mistakes I’ve made. If I’d let them, my mistakes would haunt my every waking moment (even if all I did was forget to call my Mom). I’ve learned that for my own sanity I have to consciously make myself let go of the past and things I can’t control. Life is so much more enjoyable when you aren’t holding yourself back or beating yourself up. Once my friends and I wrote on lanterns and let them fly away. Talk about freeing.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.













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