May 31, 2010

Taking Advantage

As many Americans in the United States honor the memories of the men and women who gave their lives in military service to our country on Memorial Day and celebrate the unofficial start to the Summer season with parades, BBQs and informal family and friend gatherings during the extended weekend, my man and I took some time to pay our respects and enjoy a much needed slower pace, doing only things that gave us quiet pleasure.  Friends who unexpectedly came into town and a medium-sized family crisis didn't deter us as we were on a mission to keep our promise to ourselves that the weekend would be about grabbing some true stress relief, the kind that didn't involve a lot of unnecessary interruptions, moving, talking or thinking.  

 Newport Marina, Jersey City, NJ
To our credit, we didn't make it complicated.  We found our peace in the simplest ways.  Enjoying homemade ice cream sundaes in a neighborhood park among chirping birds and lush plant life.  On a semi-secluded beach reading long forgotten books the old fashioned way, in paperback with folded pages as bookmarks as the waves crashed along the shore line.  A bountiful breakfast at a riverfront boite overlooking the New York City skyline, indulging in buttery Cinnamon French Toast while watching weekend boaters set sail on aquatic adventures.  We didn't say a lot to each other for fear we'd disturb the peaceful groove we'd created but we smiled a lot as we marveled at how each path we walked took a bit of stress away.  It's not often we get the chance to totally orchestrate consistent moments of stress-free living so we're taking full advantage of the rare opportunity before the reality of life (otherwise known as Tuesday) fades it away.

May 24, 2010

My Fab 5

You know how satisfying it feels when you find an insightful book, a time-saving product or just about anything that makes your world feel less like it revolves on a tilt as the ground shifts beneath your feet?  Then you and I have a lot in common.  I'm always on the hunt for ways to help make my daily life simpler, safer and saner.  I'm a big time sampler of all things fabulous but once I make a discovery of impact, I'm loyal to a fault.  Here are five I-can't-live-without things that have helped me at least maintain an illusion of togetherness:


My eyes are wide open to coffee coming from this sleek brewer that uses ingenious K-cups that come in so many amazing high-quality roasts and blends.  My kitchen is my coffee house and I've become my own barista.






The effects of too many late nights, stress and the ticking clock of time show up on my eyes first but are easily smoothed away with regular use this ultra lightweight treatment eye cream.  It won't add lines by breaking the bank either.


  


Never drink water from environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles again.  I fill these beautifully designed, BPA and phthalate-free vessels with filtered tap water and place them around my house, design studio and in my tote bags so I never have an excuse to not reach my 8 glasses a day goal.  They're so fashionable, I've also started collecting them.





Listening to wonderful music every day is so important to my well-being so it's kind of amazing that such crisp, clear, concert quality sound comes from this powerful little box.  It's iPhone/iPod compatible too!





With the unpredictable weather in the Northeast, even in the spring and summer one must be prepared for a wave of cool temps or unexpected rain showers at any time.  The trench coat has become a fashion staple but the ones designed by Elie Tahari are so stylish and crafted with such attention to detail, I just couldn't resist making a wise investment.  Perfect for day-to-night, they fit as if tailor-made.  Although I impatiently paid full designer retail for mine, you can purchase a few styles at Bluefly.com at great prices.

What are the 5 things you just can't live without?


Note: Product reviews are the opinions of the author and were not solicited in any manner.
 

May 17, 2010

Creative Audacity

This weekend I was very politely asked by a customer if I could really make a living at what I do.  She'd always assumed that people just couldn't walk away from well-paying corporate jobs to become artists or craftpersons and expect to sustain themselves in any meaningful way.  I did.   "You must have benefactors."  That's the only way a creative lifestyle and career can ever work, she implied.  This all coming from a woman who after stating her presumptions, proceeded to buy a substantial amount of my "creativity" and encouraged the friends who accompanied her to do the same. Ironic isn't it?  At the end of the day, it puzzled me more than it probably should have as to why she supposed my inability to support myself by making jewelry.  Funny thing is, I encounter this viewpoint often.  I think some believe the movie stereotype of an artist as some eccentric, lazy, egotistical, tortured tyrant that rises at the crack of noon, drinks nothing but black coffee and vodka, eats rarely and chain smokes cigarettes.  It also doesn't help that there are many who feel products that are made by hand equal low quality therefore are inferior to those that can be purchased in the big-box stores.  Truth is, some are.  But the many wonderfully talented artists and designers that I've encountered in my journeys put so much of themselves into every item they create that putting forth a purposely inferior product into the world would be an act of artistic character defamation.  The handmade/handcrafted artisan industry surely deserves a lot more respect. 

As for myself, I took this dramatic turn into a creative life first to fill big, whopping holes and cavernous gaps in my soul.  I went into this knowing that it would not be easy nor would it always be a safe, secure way of living, especially as I established myself.  My comfort zones had to be obliterated.  I took risks and I continue to take them every day because what I now do to earn a living is also what I love.  And because I wake up in the morning with this incredible passion for my work, I'm able to create a life that is truly rewarding.  Yes, I work harder now than I ever have and not all days are lined with puppy dogs and beds of fragrant red roses. But all that I have done to date has afforded me the ability to live a happy life.  I am firmly rooted in the fact that my success or failure, however I choose to define that, depends on what and how much I'm willing to do to support my dream.  I've chosen to have the creative audacity to do what's necessary to live in a manner in which I can hold my head high and share what gives me so much joy with those that can appreciate it.  I couldn't ask for a better way to live.

May 10, 2010

Feeling a Little Ruched

No matter what the "happening now" fashion trend is, there are two distinct clothing detailing features that I reach for on the racks time and again: eyelet lace and ruching.  I believe, my love of eyelet started with a trip to a senior center to visit a relative.  As I sat in the lobby, a woman next to me was actually embroidering eyelets into a handkerchief.  The careful detailing of her hand-stitching was impeccable. It was art on fabric. The image of that fabric stayed with me and I unconsciously began to gravitate toward clothing that featured the beauty of the embroidery.  I now own an eyelet skirt, several blouses, a few dresses...I could go on.  One warning: Eyelet has the tendency to look a little "cutesy" if too much of it is worn at one time.  When I bought an eyelet dress, I made sure that the styling and shape of the dress was simple and less dramatic, like a sheath, for instance. 


My love of ruching came from a straightforward fashion crisis.  I really wanted a dress that I could wear and not have to suck my stomach in while standing so straight that my back hurt.  While walking around in endless stores, I came upon the perfect garment and at the same time, my fashion dreams came true. Ruching is essentially the graceful, loose gathering of fabric in a manner that, if done properly, can camouflage whatever you perceive to be your figure flaws.  For me, an important event, one too many cupcakes coupled with a week without a workout (the deadly 3W's) equaled either a new set of Spanx or a dress that skimmed the body but took away the focus of my sinful ways.  The delicious red dress by Teri Jon (above left) is a classic example of ruching but in my opinion, Donna Karan is the queen of draping and gathering lush fabrics (right).  She understands a woman's body and designs to celebrate it with truly wearable, stylish garments.  Since ruched separates are readily available at all price points for day and evening wear, you can easily incorporate a few comfortable options into your wardrobe.  Feeling a little ruched from time to time is just fine.

Photos courtesy of saks.com

May 3, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons....

....make lemonade!  We've all heard the saying.  Dale Carnegie, the writer, lecturer and author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" coined the phrase many years ago albeit with slight differences (It is believed that the exact quote begins "When fate hands you a lemon, .....")  Nevertheless, I believe his intent was to tell us to get over ourselves and keep moving when life throws stink bombs.  I got that message loud and clear during this past particularly trying week when it began to feel like I was playing dodge ball with the devil.  I tried to move through the obstacles in a manner that honored his sentiment.  After recalling Carnegie's quote and since my words and actions tend to be very literal at times, I decided to drown my sorrows in, well, real lemonade. 

When I imagine this sweet/tart drink, visions of sandy beaches and warm breezes automatically come to mind and stress seems to dissolve into puddles at my feet.  Images of bright yellow slices of sunshine floating freely in sugary sweetness.  It's such a "happy" beverage.  The homemade Cucumber Lemonade I get from my local Espresso Bar is fantastic but I decided I wanted to try my hand at making my own for an impromptu Saturday night party where I could use my guests as guinea pigs.  Since I try to be a good hostess by accommodating the tastes of everyone and party drinks are commonly alcoholic, I wanted to find a fun recipe that would satisfy the non-drinkers, like myself as well as the imbibers. I searched cookbooks, Food Network TV shows and called friends who cook for a living for the perfect recipe and found this spicy variation of the traditional version from talk show host/chef Rachael Ray.

By the way, I'm inclined to believe a really good glass of lemonade, which ironically symbolizes life with it's precarious balance of the sweet and the sour, can help to resolve some of our biggest issues including relationship disputes, business strategy conflicts and world peace.  Sip, swallow, breathe, chill.

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