Welcome 2013!

Fiesta Salad 33With just a few more hours until 2013, we wanted to get an early start on some healthy recipes for the New Year.

We love using as many local foods as possible in our cooking, but winter limits what we can find.

Our New Beginnings Fiesta Salad uses Rotel - a great spicy tomato and chili mix that is low on calories but adds lots of flavor. When we make this in the summer we'll use fresh tomatoes, peas, and chilis but this is the perfect way to pay homage to the southern tradition of having black eye peas on New Years for luck.

You can find the recipe on our Lifestylist® recipe page. Happy New Year!


Withstanding the Test of Time


Both of my kids live in Florida with their families, so I’m doing some early holiday traveling so I can spend some quality time with them before the big day.

Yesterday was my grandson’s 7th birthday – how is that possible! I had a great time helping out with baking the cake and planning the birthday party. Getting to share my Lifestylist philosophy with family and friends as well as discovering what works and what doesn’t is an education for me, and helps keep me in touch with what the younger generations think are important to them.

When I was busy with my granddaughter baking birthday cakes, I found these two LeCrueset saucepans that had been wedding presents when I got married almost 40 years ago. I realized I really miss cooking with them and there are lots of great memories tied to them. They still are superior to almost everything new that I’ve tried, and I’m thinking about making an investment in a few more for myself.

There are some products and brands that are worth the extra investment every time. After having my new Thermador refrigeration columns I don’t know how I ever settled for anything else! Considering how much I’ve saved on grocery bills already because of how fresh they are keeping my food they are going to pay for themselves in no time. Being able to keep the interior at an exact  temperature is making more of a difference than I realized. Milk, lettuce, cheeses and produce are lasting a lot longer and tasting fresh.

As soon as I get home I’m going to my local Sur la Table and taking advantage of some of the great sales they have on Le Crueset right now. I try and make candy for all of my clients for Christmas, and having a heavy bottomed pan is essential.

Before you invest in an item that you will be using a lot in the years to come, seriously consider making it an investment that your kids might even be able to use in the years to come instead of a short term impulse buy.


Color Swatching

Color can be a very intimidating thing. The choices are limitless, and making a bad decision can haunt you for a long, long time.

When I first started doing model homes, the thought of making color selections terrified me. These colors would be in these models for years and could truly affect how well the homes sold. After I got over that initial fear I found out it's something that I'm really good at and by putting my Lifestylist® philosophy to work and listening to the client I was able to do some really exciting homes, including winning a National award from The National Association of Home Builders for Best Model Home Merchandising.

Lifestylist® Design has been a team member with Riedman Development for the Hammocks communities for over 10 years, and their latest community, The Hammocks at Canandaigua I think is going to be one of my favorites. It's in a beautiful area, and every time I visit I don't want to leave. I very much want the interiors and colors to reflect how truly special this community is, so finding the perfect paint colors has been top priority.

The way that I chose colors can be used by anyone, and it's a great way yo make sure that before you commit to painting an entire room you are sure that you've made the right choice.

1. Go With What You Love Most good paint stores can do color matching these days. If you have a favorite dish, leaf, piece of fabric, or even a photo of a home where you liked the wall color take it to your paint store and see what they can come up with. They will usually have a wall of paint chips that you can select from as well - before you buy choose your favorite chips and take them home to see how they look in your surroundings.

2. Try Before you Buy I thought I knew which color I wanted at the Hammocks, but after I brought it home and painted the actual color on a wall I realized it was too green. Most paint companies will now let you buy a little sample size - Sherwin Williams who is my favorite paint sold me a quart sample for around $6.00 which was a great investment. I painted some approx. 2' x 2' squares of each on my kitchen wall, because it got lots of direct and indirect light during the day and also because I knew if I made this commitment  it would force me into finally repainting this wall! I also walk by this wall all of the time, so by observing the colors in different weather and light I made a decision I'm thrilled with.

3. Prep Your Walls Properly They always say you get what you pay for, and this is especially true with contractors. When I first moved into the Home Idea Factory this wall wasn't finished, and the contractor I found did a lousy job tape and texturing it. The paint highlighted the flaws, so before I spend the money to re-paint it I'm going to be sure that the wall is taped properly and that all flaws, holes, etc have been filled in.

4. Paint Finishes Paint comes in different finishes including flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss. Flat is usually the least expensive, but is also the most absorbent as far as fingerprints, grease, etc. and the hardest to clean. I usually go with a satin finish because I like the way it plays with light and is the easiest to keep clean, and use semi-gloss on my trim work it make it stand out. Keep in mind though that the more sheen the paint has, the more any imperfections you have on your walls or trim will stand out.

5. Tools Before you start, be sure that you have the right tools including a drop cloth, paint brushes, blue tape for masking off areas and a paint roller and pan. There are lots of cool products on the market to make painting easy for everyone.

Now that I've made my decision I can't wait to get started on my new projects - which paint color do you think I decided on? Which would you have chosen?



Business Council For The Arts Celebrate The Arts in Dallas

It's a great time to be a resident of Dallas, TX especially if you are a business owner. Not only is the cost of living 8% less than most United States cities, but we also have a mayor that appreciates the arts and the value they can bring to a city and it's residents.

The Business Council For The Arts recently presented their 2012 Obelisk Awards to a wonderful group of businesses and individuals that help the arts flourish in the North Texas area, and it was wonderful to see companies such as Capital One NorthPark Center, Half Price Books and others there to support this amazing organization.

Being a Lifestylist® is all about supporting the arts, and we were thrilled to be there to share this great event with you.


Seeing The Light at The Dallas Museum Tower

One of the best things this Lifestylist® ever did was to buy  The Home Idea Factory. Not only do I have space to try out new ideas and to foster lots of rescue animals, but I'm also only a few miles from the Dallas Arts District. - This wonderful gem is tucked away in downtown Dallas and you can experience the best in the culinary arts, discover new artists or ones that you have always read about, and appreciate what Mother Earth has graced us with in the Nasher Gardens or at the new Klyde Warren Park.
When I was driving to one of my favorite events - 'Til Midnight at The Nasher - I was literally blinded while I was driving over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I'd heard about all of the controversy surrounding the new Museum Tower, but it wasn't until I seriously couldn't see while I was driving 45 miles an hour on a highway because of it did I realize how dangerous it is - not only to the Arts District but to motorists driving down the various highways beside it.
Not only is the Museum Tower getting a reputation for being a bad neighbor - it's going to kill someone.
Let's hope that The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund -owners of this $200 million dollar building do something about this issue before someone gets hurt.


Is The Museum Tower in Dallas Going to Be a Good Neighbor?

One of the best things this Lifestylist® ever did was to buy  The Home Idea Factory. Not only do I have space to try out new ideas and to foster lots of rescue animals, but I'm also only a few miles from the Dallas Arts District. - This wonderful gem is tucked away in downtown Dallas and you can experience the best in the culinary arts, discover new artists or ones that you have always read about, and appreciate what Mother Earth has graced us with in the Nasher Gardens or at the new Klyde Warren Park.

When I was driving to one of my favorite events - 'Til Midnight at The Nasher - I was literally blinded while I was driving over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I'd heard about all of the controversy surrounding the new Museum Tower, but it wasn't until I seriously couldn't see while I was driving 45 miles an hour on a highway because of it did I realize how dangerous it is - not only to the Arts District but to motorists driving down the various highways beside it.

Not only is the Museum Tower getting a reputation for being a bad neighbor - it's going to kill someone.

Let's hope that The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund -owners of this $200 million dollar building do something about this issue before someone gets hurt.


Lifestylist® Beauty Comes From Within

I'm sure that you have all heard the saying "Beauty is as Beauty Does" - the past few weeks have been a great example of that.

We have been on the road doing everything from finding treasures and supporting The Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, NY, being on the committee and working at the Shared Housing Annual Fundraiser, and participating in the great State Fair of Texas. We've picked apples at Whittier Farm - a local farmer in Rochester, NY that had 95% of their apple crop destroyed, seen the absolute joy in a child's face when they got a new backpack for school from the Dallas Stars and Shared Housing, and also seen the ugly side of people who were sore losers at the State Fair of Texas cooking competitions. We were also able to experience "Compassion in Action" when we participated in the Animal Rescue Corps training.

It's so heartwarming to be able to see in action and remember how kind most people are, and how that light truly shines from within. It's not about being runway skinny, or having the most expensive cars or clothes that makes someone beautiful, it's about caring more about others than yourself.

The holidays are around the corner, and this year there are so many people and groups that need help I hardly know where to begin. We will be sharing groups that we personally know and believe in on our LifestylistList - I hope that you will help your inner beauty shine this year and help someone experience their inner beauty as well.




I’ve forgotten how beautiful silence can be.

I went to my Aunt Julie’s 80th birthday in Cambridge Ohio just as a major storm hit. There were power lines and huge trees down on all of the roads, so just getting there was an adventure, but once I was at the home that I had spent so many magical summers at I kind of liked the fact we didn’t have power. With no distractions from the internet, television and our phones we spent hours just talking and getting to know each other again. It was definitely a weekend none of us will forget.

This has been a crazy week for the Lifestylist Brands. ODL is launching OnHand – an amazing new idea that we consulted on and is ready to be shared. It’s been an honor to give my clients the opportunity to get a first look at this product.

Another one of our clients – SE Homes of Texas asked us to create 5 unique model homes that will showcase everything from basic achievable housing to an amazing lifestyle focused home that will change you mind about what manufactured housing is all about. We spent 5 days in 90 degree + weather in homes without A/C (or power) lifestyling these homes. Truly a labor of love, and a great success story.

After the last towel and picture frame were in place I drove home ready for a busy weekend, and a storm came through and knocked the power out. I thought it would only be a few minutes, but it’s been over three hours now so time to settle in. I didn’t know how much I needed a little down time and silence. The power is out for miles around me so the usual noises we hear aren’t out there. the rush and bustle has slowed to a crawl. The sounds I’m hearing instead of the usual air conditioning, television and fans are my dogs snoring and distant traffic. I dug out some candles I haven’t used for ages and now I’m wondering why I don’t burn them more often – their soft glow and intoxicating fragrance has made this a great evening.


Bob Vila Article Chronicles The History of Factory Built Housing

There's nothing we love more than a positive story about factory built housing, and BobVila.com has a wonderful article about the history of factory built housing.  Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be interviewed and quoted in the story, and what is really exciting is that the author of the story - Jane Dagmi - was so intrigued about what this form of housing offers she's continuing to learn more and visit communities on her own. I'm looking forward to more of her stories in the future.
One of the things that has always been a detriment to our industry was the perception the press has, so having writers not only like our homes but also want to know more is a step in the right direction.
Be sure to also take a look at the timeline that Jane did -it's one of the best I've seen.


Lush Handmade Cosmetics Gives Back Beautifully

I've always been a big fan of Lush Cosmetics and the amazing products the manufacture and sell. What you may not know about this wonderful company is how committed they are to giving back to the local and national communities. Their employees are always volunteering with various non-profits - especially animal organizations, and they have designed different products where a large portion of the profits will go to a specific group.

Their new Charity Pots are a great example. They are donating 100% of the price (not just the profit) to small, grassroots organizations that need some help. Since 2007 they have donated over $2,900,00 to over 200 charities in 30 countries.

Stop by your local Lush store or go online and see how you can have you beauty dollars do more than just help you look good.



The Best Of The Worst

Like a lot of people I’m sure, I get bombarded with junk snail and email from the cable company, Dish Companies, and the telephone company begging me to change my services to them.

Time Warner Cable has been especially aggressive, and after years of saying no and my Dish company wanting to charge me to fix equipment that I rent from them, I thought I’d give Time Warner a try. The sales person couldn’t have been nicer, and we set up an appointment that fit with this Lifestylist’s crazy schedule so I could be there and have them install all of the new goodies.

The day came, but the tech never did. I called after he missed my appointment and was told he was there but no one was home and that he left a note at the door. I was here – no call, no doorbell, no note so one of us was confused. The tech then took it upon himself to change my appointment from 8-10am to 8am – 9pm. Even though I was told more than once I would be his next appointment, no one ever showed up. Keep in mind that this is a company that I’ll be spending thousands of dollars with a year, and before it was over I spent over 10 hours being put on hold (yes, after awhile I started keeping track.).Bottom line – no supervisors ever followed up like I was told they would, the most they were willing to credit me for wasting my time was $15.00, and a week later I got an email rescheduling the appointment.Initially I had canceled all of the services I had with my former providers, but I called them and negotiated better rates (and my equipment being repaired for free) so even though I wasn’t happy with what I had, it seemed like the best of the worst.

Lesson learned? I never want any of my clients feeling like they are settling when I do something for them. Even if it’s just making sure that they know I appreciate their business – they work too hard to not get the best. I like to know that my business is valued, and I’m sure that my clients do as well.


Gaylord Texan Chef Teaches by Example


I can't believe that Summer is almost over! This was a really busy one, and there never seems to be enough time to do all of the things I wanted to do.

Yesterday was the last Jr Chef Camp at The Gaylord Texan, and I think it was one of the best. When the 14 kids arrived I was a little worried - none of them had taken the class before and they were all new to each other as well.

After Al taught them about manners and etiquette Chef Joanne Bondy brought them into the Old Hickory Steakhouse kitchen and began to get them excited about cooking. The kids loved being able to be hands on with her and learn different cooking techniques, and by the time the second egg was cracked new friendships had formed and the kitchen was alive with excited voices all having new direction and dreams.

Sometimes even the most simple experience can be the most memorable. The kids got to go out in the Gaylord Texan herb garden and vineyard and were amazed to find that grapes grew on vines!

They had a blast tasting the different grapes and learning about how the herbs tasted. And the pride they all had when they served their parents the meal they made and introduced them to their new friends - just a great event.

Chef Joanne and her team don't just teach kids how to cook at this event - they empower them to try new things and to believe in themselves, and that's a lesson that is priceless.


The Lifestylist Celebrates Christmas in July

I had a wonderful opportunity this week - I got to volunteer at Shared Housing.

I've been involved in lots of organizations where they just want you to give or raise money, but Shared Housing let's me work with the people I'm helping and make a difference.

Thursday I got to play with the kids while the Mom's learned about budgeting and parenting. And they are amazing kids - they all take care of each other and appreciate the smallest things. Shared Housing keeps a "toy room" where new toys are stored and used as incentives to the kids for good deeds or when it's their birthday. People tend to be very generous at Christmas time, but by July the toy room starts getting pretty sparse. I promised the staff that if they would let the kids get an unexpected trip to the toy room, the Lifestylist® team would get to work and re-stock the room with goodies that would help keep the room open for the rest of the year.

I always keep my promises, and I'm happy to report that I'm going to have a car load full of goodies for the room, and mew sheets blankets, and kitchen utensils for the Moms. And the best part is that they said I can come and play with the kids any time :)

Just the smallest things can make such a difference. We visited our local Dollar Store and the clearance aisles at our local stores and were able to make our budget go a long way.

Shared Housing is also getting ready for "School is Cool". They need to get school supplies and uniforms for 270 children that are active in the program. They believe that no child should have to start school  without the proper clothes or supplies -these kids have already gone through enough.

If you would like to help or to make a donation, visit the Shared Housing website or give them a call at: 214-821-8510


The Underground Railroad Museum

I had an amazing experience this week - when I was detoured off the main roads in Ohio this week, I happened to discover the Underground Railroad Museum. You have to really look to find it in Flushing, Ohio but it is truly one of the most memorable experiences I've had in a long time.

The area had powerful storms come through that had knocked down power lines in a lot of Ohio, and Flushing was in the dark when I arrived. Somehow it seemed appropriate though - I was able to experience the basement of the museum by flashlight and had about as much as the slaves that would have traveled on the railroad would have.

Curator Dr. John Mattox shared with me the history of the museum and some of the special artifacts that are housed in the museum, and I then had the opportunity to observe him sharing our country's history with some younger visitors.

For more information on this gem, take a look at our Lifestylist®TV video, or visit their website at: www.ugrrf.org


The New American Dream Home: Is Bigger Better?

This Lifestylist® spends a lot of time trend tracking so I can help my clients decipher what current fads and forecasting really applies to what they do and their customers. Something that seems to be getting a lot of "Buzz" recently is that people are no longer interested in the smaller sized homes that have been so popular in the last couple of years, but they are back to wanting more square footage.

This may sound good in a news article, but in fact what we are seeing is people want more liveable space - in other words, what they want is every square foot of their new home having a function and no wasted space that they have to heat, cool and clean. Living in a Home Idea Factory like I do may sound glamorous, but with all of this square footage comes a mountain of cleaning that needs to be done every day and maintenance that never ends.

Factory built housing has always been a great example of great use of space. Since every home is engineered, I'm always amazed with how large and functional the kitchens are in a small amount of space. Using as little space as possible for hallways can make a huge difference in the footprint of the home, and taking the time to "space plan" - seeing what furniture will work where and the traffic flow that will happen because of that furniture placement - can alleviate a lot of problems after the home is built.

This Champion Home is a great example. It is a model home in Hobbs, NM and I was asked to re-merchandise it so potential customers would get a better feel for the lifestyle that was possible with this home and how they could live and entertain in it.

What we changed was so successful they sold this home the first day! A rancher bought it and loved the mud room, large flowing entertainment areas, and the ranching lifestyle featured in the model.

When you are looking for your next home, have a seat in the model home and really think about the flow of the home and how your family will utilize every square foot of the home. You might be surprised at what you really do and do not need.


ROC USA Helps To Make The American Dream Achievable

As a Lifestylist® I spend a lot of time tracking trends and listening to people's dreams and realities. One of the biggest dreams a person often has is a home of their own, and that dream comes in all shapes and sizes.
Land lease communities are a great way to own a home of your own on a budget, but a lot of potential homeowners are afraid of the fact that they don't own the land that their new home is sited on.
When I attended the recent MHI Congress and Expo I was introduced to Paul Bradley and the ROC USA team, and loved having the chance to speak with them and to learn more. ROC stands for Resident Owned Communities, and they help residents of land lease communities buy their communities and own a part of it. I was fascinated to learn that they are a non profit, and loved that the first thing that they do with their homeowners is to choose a new name for their community and start the re-branding process.
NPR and "All Things Considered" recently featured ROC USA on their broadcast, and you can see our interview with the ROC USA team on Lifestylist.com.

Modular Construction Gains Acceptance

It seems like people are finally beginning to realize that factory built housing may be a better way to build - I've had two site builders ask me if the projects that we are working on might be more efficient if we do a modular build instead of the way they traditionally build. What's really great is these are both commercial projects - one is a clubhouse and one is transitional housing for 14 so I'm really proud of my clients for looking at all options. In fact, Champion Homes is doing quite a few commercial builds, including hotels for a major hotel company - I can't wait to see (and stay in) the finished buildings.
Many people have the misconception that using modular construction is very limiting - I'm always surprised with how many people think you can only do 1 story. In fact, all construction has some limitations, but with modular you can build multi story buildings just as you can with site built.
This beautiful home in Montana that was built by the EnergyMate division of Patriot Homes is an example of what can be accomplished using modular construction. It has a 2 story family room and rock fireplace in it -they just completed the fireplace on-site with rocks they found on the ranch.
Before you make a decision on who is going to be building your next home or building, you might contact one of the many fine modular builders that might be the right fit for you.
If you need recommendations on who might be a good fit for you, feel free to contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com and we'll be happy to share our list of qualified builders with you.


OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner

Summer is definitely here, and it's heating up in Texas. I turn into a really lazy cook when it gets so hot, and we do the Lifestylist® version of a salad bar many evenings.

Everything gets prepped - even the kids help plate their favorite ingredients -then we put everything on the island and people make their own salads as big or small as they choose.

I've stopped buying the bagged lettuce and greens because they are expensive and taste like chemicals to me. With the OXO Salad Spinner you can easily use heads of lettuce, spin them and even serve them in the bowl of the spinner. The kids love to help, and it's fast and easy for me.

To win won of these great products from OXO, go to the Lifestylist® Food blog and enter. there are 7 different ways you can get additional entries, and winner will be announced on May 11th.


The USA Film Festival Provides a Lifetime of Memories








On April 25th, the USA Film Festival will be celebrating it's 42nd year of bringing the art of film to Texas. If you love watching great films and enjoy the people who make them, this event should be at the top of your list.

As someone who has been attending this amazing event for over 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to have experiences like getting a hug from Tony Curtis, going behind the scenes with the Muppets®, and talking about factory built housing with Sir Anthony Hopkins.  I share some of my experiences on my Lifestylist® website.

Some of the screenings have already sold out, but members of the festival get special opportunities and reserved seating at some levels. To find out more about becoming a member contact the festival at: usafilmfest@aol.com



Savor Dallas 2012

It's time for Savor Dallas again! This annual celebration of food and wine takes place March 30-31,2012. Take a look at some of the wonderful photos taken by Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography and see why you need to join the Lifestylist® team at this wonderful event.


Customer Service Expectations Become Dim at Best Buy

Who knew a 1" bulb could become such a great marketing and customer service lesson? After trying to deal with Best Buy for a month about a warranty issue I got so mad I gave up and discovered a wonderful locally owned shop that replaced my projector bulb and had me on my way in under 1/2 hour. You can read the long version of this saga on my Lifestylist® page -it still amazes me how I was treated by a company that should care more about it's customers than Best Buy seems to.

Then today when I was getting all of my facts checked I went to the Best Buy Facebook page so I could quote other unhappy customers, and one of them had linked to a Forbes article  about "Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually". They linked to a follow-up story that talked about how Best Buy handled different issues "The People Vs Best Buy Round Two" Sadly, it's nice to know I'm not the only one that feels this way and they have even given lousy customer service to Larry Downes, a professor and best selling author.

I'll never get back the time I've wasted on this, but I'm hoping that by sharing these experiences I can help my readers not make the same purchasing mistakes.


The Wall Street Journal is Postitive About Manufactured Housing

It seems like the tides are changing - others are beginning to understand the benefits of factory built housing.

The Wall Street Journal printed a great article about how more people are considering this type of construction of their next home.