12/28/10

The Missing Sandra Lee SemiHomemade Kwanzaa Cake Story

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I'd love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.
But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book "Food Stylists Handbook". I'm totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, "acorns" or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

12/25/10

Have a Lifestylist® Holiday Season

May your life be filled with happiness, style, and great taste!

12/14/10

The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Noah's Magic Shoes

I feel so blessed that I have had the life I have, and because of that I feel compelled to give back every opportunity that I have. Giving people hope and helping others isn't that hard - sometimes it's as easy as just thinking about where you are shopping or making a purchase.
Nothing touches me more than violence to another living being, and the I have been very fortunate to have been introduced to the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas.The work they do is amazing, and what hurts me the most is how much of a need there is for safe havens like Genesis.
But back to giving back. Over a year ago Director Jan Langbein shared a story with some of her group about a boy who had come to live at one of the Genesis shelters. This six year old boy had never owned a new pair of shoes, and when he received the new pair of red sneakers he proclaimed that they were magic because the treads on them allowed him to walk up a slide backwards. From that story "Noah's Magic Shoes" came to be.
This beautifully illustrated book is truly a labor of love, and 100% of the proceeds benefit the Genesis Women's Shelter. You can purchase a copy for yourself or to share on the Genesis website. I shared my autographed copy that I purchased at the NorthPark Center event to my daughter who is a teacher. There are classroom lessons on the website prepared by Dr. Larkin Page, Professor of Children's Literature.
Make a difference this year by sharing the story of "Noah's Magic Shoes" - it is a gift that will truly keep on giving.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Noah's Magic Shoes

I feel so blessed that I have had the life I have, and because of that I feel compelled to give back every opportunity that I have. Giving people hope and helping others isn't that hard - sometimes it's as easy as just thinking about where you are shopping or making a purchase.

Nothing touches me more than violence to another living being, and the I have been very fortunate to have been introduced to the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas.The work they do is amazing, and what hurts me the most is how much of a need there is for safe havens like Genesis.

But back to giving back. Over a year ago Director Jan Langbein shared a story with some of her group about a boy who had come to live at one of the Genesis shelters. This six year old boy had never owned a new pair of shoes, and when he received the new pair of red sneakers he proclaimed that they were magic because the treads on them allowed him to walk up a slide backwards. From that story "Noah's Magic Shoes" came to be.

This beautifully illustrated book is truly a labor of love, and 100% of the proceeds benefit the Genesis Women's Shelter. You can purchase a copy for yourself or to share on the Genesis website. I shared my autographed copy that I purchased at the NorthPark Center event to my daughter who is a teacher. There are classroom lessons on the website prepared by Dr. Larkin Page, Professor of Children's Literature.

Make a difference this year by sharing the story of "Noah's Magic Shoes" - it is a gift that will truly keep on giving.

12/12/10

Excitement Builds Around The Opening of The New American Home

I just saw an article in Nation's Building News today about The New American Home.  This publication is the official online newspaper of The National Association of Home Builders, and is available to you if you are a member of this amazing organization.
If you are not a member, please feel free to contact us - we'll get the information to you that you need in time to join us at the International Builders Show and tour the home!

12/11/10

All I Want for Christmas is...

Getting to explore the New American Home while we were doing the photography was like being a kid in a candy store - every time I opened up a closet or looked in a drawer I found something else I was lusting for! There are so many things I would love to have in The Home Idea Factory, and this amazing prep sink  by Kohler is high on the list.

The Crevasse prep sink is as beautiful as it is practical. it's long sleek design doesn't take up a lot of counter top space, and it just made prepping vegetables for the shoot fun! This Lifestylist® is a huge believer in farm to table cuisine, so I do a lot of prepping of fresh items. I'm sure if I figured out how much having this prep sink would save me in time and buying processed foods it would be paid for in no time.

With the current interest in larger kitchen islands, this is the perfect functional way to make cooking in The New American Home or your new home  fun.

11/26/10

Pixie Dust

I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I'm starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.
As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.
Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I'm sure it was a day that they will always remember.
I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here's to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!

11/24/10

Pixie Dust

I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I'm starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.

As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.

Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I'm sure it was a day that they will always remember.

I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here's to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!

10/31/10

Model Homes That Sell

Anyone who has ever spent time in a model home has heard a buyer ask the sales person where they can purchase something that they see in the home. More often than not, the builder and sales team don't have any idea, and that memory point is lost.
Lifestylist Design recently did a home for American Custom Builders that was a "ready to go home" - everything in the home was purchased within 10 miles of the home or was available online. By keeping the number of stores used to a minimum, buyers were easily able to see how they could make their new home look "just as good as the model home". All of the furniture used was from a local Ashley Home Store, and buyers purchasing one of the homes received a discount on their own purchases after they closed on their home.
Take a look at a video we just completed of the home and see for yourself how beautifully this concept can be accomplished.

10/30/10

The Great Pumpkin Farm

Being a Lifestylist sometimes means getting off the beaten path, and when you do you never know what you'll discover.
This week I was in Western NY for the opening of the Riedman Development and @home Builders Design Center, and decided to take a different route back to the airport. When I did I drove past The Great Pumpkin Farm and knew I had to check it out. If you are in that area it's a must visit, if not take a look at the video we put together.  Happy Halloween!

The Great Pumpkin Patch

Being a Lifestylist sometimes means getting off the beaten path, and when you do you never know what you'll discover.

This week I was in Western NY for the opening of the Riedman Development and @home Builders Design Center, and decided to take a different route back to the airport. When I did I drove past The Great Pumpkin Farm and knew I had to check it out. If you are in that area it's a must visit, if not take a look at the video we put together.  Happy Halloween!

10/23/10

Good Guys Do Finish First - Congratulations to Sandlin Homes

Sandlin Custom Homes was named Builder of the Year last week by The Texas Association of Builders, and I can't think of a company more worthy of that title.
One of the first model homes I ever worked on was for this family, and after over 20 years I still remember what a great experience it was, and can even tell you the color palette and theme of the house!
Sales Manager Alan Sladek was named Sales Manager of the Year, and they also received awards for model home merchandising, product design, print ad, direct mail piece and billboard!
This company isn't just about winning awards though, it's about building a great home. There aren't many family owned and run companies that have been in business for over 50 years, and there is a reason why this is the case for Sandlin Homes. You can tell everyone who works there takes it personally and it shows in every home that they build. If you are in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area take a look at these beautiful homes and discover what makes them so special.

10/20/10

Sharing is Caring

One of my favorite things to do every year is entering the State Fair of Texas cooking contests. Being a Lifestylist to me is about all of the ways you can live your life with style - not just design.Not because I want to win, but because I really enjoy sharing all of my entries with different workers at the fair afterward. These are the people who really enjoy my cooking and know it's made with love. Officer Stevens is usually by the entrance we use every day, and after she tried my peanut parries she was hooked. I've never won a ribbon with these, but I keep entering because they are the favorites of Chuck and Linda at the Chili Parlor and we've become good friends because of them.
When I brought Officer Stevens her cookies on the last day she said that we had no idea how much our sharing meant to her - and how nice it was just to have people appreciate her. There is no ribbon that can ever top that great feeling when you know you are doing something for the joy of it, but others get to share that joy as well.

Sharing is Caring

One of my favorite things to do every year is entering the State Fair of Texas cooking contests. Being a Lifestylist to me is about all of the ways you can live your life with style - not just design.Not because I want to win, but because I really enjoy sharing all of my entries with different workers at the fair afterward. These are the people who really enjoy my cooking and know it's made with love. Officer Stevens is usually by the entrance we use every day, and after she tried my peanut parries she was hooked. I've never won a ribbon with these, but I keep entering because they are the favorites of Chuck and Linda at the Chili Parlor and we've become good friends because of them.

When I brought Officer Stevens her cookies on the last day she said that we had no idea how much our sharing meant to her - and how nice it was just to have people appreciate her. There is no ribbon that can ever top that great feeling when you know you are doing something for the joy of it, but others get to share that joy as well.

10/10/10

The New American Home: Orlando 2011

I've been attending the International Builders Show for over 20 years now - where does the time go? It's something I look forward to every year, not only as a place to catch up with all of the friends and clients I've made over the years, but also to check out what's the latest and greatest in home design.
The convention floor can be overwhelming - the exhibits are huge and you want to check out every booth so you don't miss anything. I always rest up before the show because I know when I'm there I've got a lot of walking to do. Thank heavens for the digital age though - before you used to pick up catalogs and information as you went, now we can find a lot of that information online.
When the convention was in Dallas I was asked to be the designer and Lifestylist® on The American Home Of the Year - a project with Home Magazine, Home Depot, and Crate and Barrel. It was an honor to work with builder Steve Brooks and his team at Grand Homes, and working on it developed my love of doing editorial work.
This year the International Builders Show is back in Orlando, and the National Association of Homebuilders has asked me to be the Lifestylist® on The New American Home! This is the 28th year that a New American Home has been built to showcase innovative building products and technologies, and including a Lifestylist® on the team is definitely new!
The home is only open to attendees of IBS, but I wanted to share some of the really interesting and unique ideas that are being incorporated into the home as well as introduce you to the very talented team that is responsible for the home.  If you haven't signed up to attend IBS yet and you are a member of NAHB, be sure to sign up here so you can see the home in person. I'll be blogging about the progress of the home on my Home Idea Factory blog - please follow the progress of the home there!

The New American Home: Orlando 2011

I've been attending the International Builders Show for over 20 years now - where does the time go? It's something I look forward to every year, not only as a place to catch up with all of the friends and clients I've made over the years, but also to check out what's the latest and greatest in home design.

The convention floor can be overwhelming - the exhibits are huge and you want to check out every booth so you don't miss anything. I always rest up before the show because I know when I'm there I've got a lot of walking to do. Thank heavens for the digital age though - before you used to pick up catalogs and information as you went, now we can find a lot of that information online.

When the convention was in Dallas I was asked to be the designer and Lifestylist® on The American Home Of the Year - a project with Home Magazine, Home Depot, and Crate and Barrel. It was an honor to work with builder Steve Brooks and his team at Grand Homes, and working on it developed my love of doing editorial work.

This year the International Builders Show is back in Orlando, and the National Association of Homebuilders has asked me to be the Lifestylist® on The New American Home! This is the 28th year that a New American Home has been built to showcase innovative building products and technologies, and including a Lifestylist® on the team is definitely new!

The home is only open to attendees of IBS, but I wanted to share some of the really interesting and unique ideas that are being incorporated into the home as well as introduce you to the very talented team that is responsible for the home.  If you haven't signed up to attend IBS yet and you are a member of NAHB, be sure to sign up here so you can see the home in person. I'll be blogging about the progress of the home on my Home Idea Factory blog - please follow the progress of the home there!

10/9/10

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival - a Party For The Senses

I have such great memories of Disney World in Orlando - one of the first times I ever got to fly was when we did a family vacation to this magical place. The tradition has continued, and some of my most memorable vacations with my children, and now my grandchildren have been to the Magical Kingdom.

But Disney World isn't only for kids - the adult activities are memorable as well. This month Epcot® is hosting the Epcot® International Food and Wine Festival, and the Party For The Senses is an event that can't be missed.I've attended a lot of wine festivals, but this one incorporates the things that makes the Disney experience so special -taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

The event takes place every Saturday in October from 6:30 to 9:00pm at the World ShowPlace Pavilion, and includes confirmed seating to the Eat The Beat concert series, then wander over to the World Showplace for the grand culinary event that includes imaginative decors and acts from La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil®.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can make sure that my schedule gets me to Orlando for this very special event, or I may just have to book a special trip - how can you go wrong with magical wines, food, and the magical kingdom? Making my reservations now...

10/3/10

Getting Ready to Compete at The State Fair of Texas

One of my favorite things to do every year is to enter The State Fair of Texas cooking contests, and I'm almost to the point of knowing what this Lifestylist® wants to enter. People don't realize how much time, energy and money goes into entering these contests. All of the recipes that just don't work, and "goofs" - it can really add up. But hearing your name called and getting that ribbon makes it all worth while.

I've started getting my ingredients together - I can't wait to get started!

9/29/10

Champion Homes Gets Social

I just found out today  Champion Homes has a Facebook page that they are getting ready to add a lot of information and photos to. When I went to check it out, I found photos of the Lifestylist® Designed home we merchandised for them at the Tulsa show and heard that there will be more photos to come of the Texas Show. If you haven't "liked " this page yet be sure to do so - that way you'll be one of the first to see all of the exciting new changes.

Champion Homes Gets Social

I just found out today  Champion Homes has a Facebook page that they are getting ready to add a lot of information and photos to. When I went to check it out, I found photos of the Lifestylist® Designed home we merchandised for them at the Tulsa show and heard that there will be more photos to come of the Texas Show. If you haven't "liked " this page yet be sure to do so - that way you'll be one of the first to see all of the exciting new changes.

9/15/10

The Future of Affordable Housing

There is no doubt about it -affordable housing is a very needed segment of the market right now, and manufactured housing is the perfect way to build for this need. The New Champion Homes has realized what a need there is for well designed and priced homes, and their XTreme series offers amazing homes to fill this need.

The Home Idea Factory has now worked on two sets of Lifestylist® Designed models in this series - some single section and now double section homes that are fantastic! Champion Homes of Texas was able to get these homes engineered and built quickly to be able to offer them to their clients and I just can't stop thinking about them. Talk about attention to detail - they thought of everything from drawers in all of the bathrooms, 2 sinks and medicine cabinets in the master bath of even the smallest homes, and pantries that are bigger than my NY apartment was!

Talk about Right Sized homes - these floorplans make the most of every sq. ft, and offer everything a homeowner could need for their busy lifestyles.  I especially love the pass through hamper in the larger model where there were cabinet doors from the master bath to a closet in the utility. You can drop your dirty clothes and have them out of sight, then clean,fold and put your clothes on the shelves right there instead of carrying them through the entire home. Brilliant!  There is even a cubby space in the hall by the back door that they just didn't slap together -  as a team we addressed it, made sure that it would be as functional as it was great looking and merchandised it to show this function. So many times homes have areas that are cool, but don't really work. Champion puts in the effort to make sure that the home is done right the first time.

Even the smaller home we merchandised is full of surprises - the kitchen is well designed, has designer black appliances and a black sink that goes beautifully with the espresso cabinets. I couldn't believe how many cabinets there are in this home! I've been in site built homes that cost $300,000 to $400,000 that don't offer as many as this one does.

It's so much fun working on homes that you love and feel great about, and obviously I do about these. The prices were something that surprised me the most - I don't know how they can do it, but you need to talk to them to see for yourself why I am so excited about these.  Marc Medders is the person in the know - you can reach him at: mmedders@championhomes.com

I'd love to hear what you think about these and if you are as excited about them as I am!

9/14/10

Housing Your Collections

I'll be the first to admit it - I love collecting "stuff". My mother and my grandmother were both collectors, and some of my fondest memories are when my aunt would take us "haunted house hunting" in Ohio. We would find old abandoned houses and find cracked plates or special little items that people left behind.

One thing that collectors are always looking for is ways to show off or display their collections. I just finished doing some new model homes for Champion Homes of Texas, and I love the special places that they built in to store or display these special items. The front of the island in the one home had an area that was perfect for mugs, and the back of it had shelves that are perfect for showing off my vintage cookbook collection. Lifestylist® Designed homes are all about lifestyle, and these homes are a great example of what you can do.

9/5/10

Area Rugs Add Warmth to Any Room

Today is an absolutely perfect day The weather has cooled off to where I'm thinking about changing my home decor to suit the cooler temperatures. - it sounds like a lot of work, but a few changes can make all of the difference in how you enjoy your home. One of my favorite ways to warm things up is with area rugs.

One of my designers with Shaw Living just sent me a copy of their 2010 introductions and they are stunning! Whether you are looking for a bold, urban look or a more classic pattern they have something for you and the colors are right on trend.They also have rugs in their Ever-Touch yarns which feel amazing underfoot or make a great place to lay down and watch the football games.

With hard flooring surfaces becoming more popular every day, and area rug is a great way to add color and warmth. This is a model home for American Custom Builders that was Lifestylist® Designed, and you can see what a difference it made adding this Shaw area rug. It was a long, narrow space and the rug helped add color and define the space. In The Home Idea Factory I have summer rugs that are lighter and in more coastal textures, and in the fall I bring out my area rugs that are in deep, rich colors. Add a few new pillow covers and a throw on the sofa and I'm ready to go!