Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lifestylist® Advisory: Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade Kwanzaa Cake

Many of you may be familiar with Sandra Lee - the Food Network personality. On one of her first shows she introduced us to her infamous Kwanzaa cake, and I've been confused ever since. She assembles an angel food cake adding chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and "acorns" - which most of us call corn nuts.  To this day the recipe calls for acorns which is frightening since actual acorns aren't edible to my knowledge.
We got a very special holiday gift this year - the incredibly talented food stylist Denise Vivaldo has come forward in an article in the Huffington Post to let us know it was actually Denise who came up with the Kwanzaa cake, and the Chanukah cake as well. Her recipe did call for corn nuts - not acorns though, and she does give Ms. Lee total credit for the massive tapers that were inserted in the top.
For the record, Ms. Vivaldo is actually an incredibly talented food stylist -I'd dare to say one of the best. I would give anything to spend a few days and learn from her. Since that probably won't happen, I'll settle for the next best thing - a copy of her new book The Food Stylist's Handbook. It shows you the right way to pay homage to food, and I'd even dare to call it "food porn" - you'll be lusting after everything you see in the book. Denise can also be found on Twitter. She is very generous with her knowledge and also has a great sense of humor!
So if anyone wants to know what would be the perfect gift to give this Lifestylist®, now you know!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

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!

Delta Airlines Needs a Lifestylist®

Every time I fly, I wonder why I even think of working with clients that aren't close enough to drive to. I love the amazing clients that I have, and I am very grateful for them. And I tell them how much I appreciate their business every chance I get. It's something I don't take for granted, and I know they always have other choices.I'm not sure if I have the worst luck when it comes to flying, or if my experiences are more common than the airlines let you know.
This week I was meeting with a client in Michigan, and I had a big trends presentation that I have been working on for months. I have visited model home communities in 5 different states and had hundreds of brochures and floorplans to share. They were bulky and weighed a lot so I had to put them into my checked luggage, along with the Christmas gifts that were handmade especially for them. Because I fly so frequently, Delta put one of those coveted yellow tags on my bag to let the baggage handlers know I was a VIP and to take my bag off first.It was an uneventful set of flights - no unexpected 4 hour stop in Augusta like last time - and besides snowy weather in South Bend I was good. I stood there patiently with everyone else on my flight and all of the bags without the bright yellow tags came out, but not mine. Even the woman who sat next to me on both flights received her luggage, but mine was no where to be found. South Bend  doesn't have a baggage office  so I went up to the ticket counter and she looked up the info on my bag - she assured me that it was put on the plane in Dallas, but after that there was no record.She said the usual I'm so sorry and I believed her - she was trying and it wasn't her fault. I had a two hour drive to my destination and there was no way I was getting my luggage that evening so she said I have something for you, and gave me this little blue bag.
So what's in the blue bag? As you can see, a comb, shaving cream, razor, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste. If I was a gentleman this would be great, but wasn't much in it for me.
Delta Airlines needs a Lifestylist®, and they need this Lifestylist®. The only people who would be gifted with this bag would be someone who would be pretty upset about now because their luggage was lost, and this bag really doesn't give the impression that someone cares. I had paid a premium to fly on their airplane to make a business trip that they lost the materials for, and all they could do was say we'll try to find it. THEN they sent it to the wrong airport after two people in their corporate office said it was on the right flight and would be arriving shortly. When that didn't happen they told me to write a letter and send it through their website!
I'm doing better than that -I'm blogging about it. That's what consumers do these days when they feel like they aren't being heard, and if you have a business you had better be prepared to communicate to this new consumer - especially to listen. It amazes me how many businesses are afraid to use social media because they are afraid an upset customer will say something negative about them. Chances are pretty good if they are upset enough to take the time to write about it it is getting posted - it just may be some place that you aren't paying attention to. An interesting side note though is that when I FourSquared, Tweeted and Facebooked about the fact that I was at the South Bend Airport I got a reply tweet from the airport saying thanks for flying through South Bend and come back soon. This made me feel really good about the airport choice I had made, and that someone had cared enough about my business to acknowledge it.
How does a Lifestylist® handle a situation like this? We listen, process, and come up with a better solution. I have a great one for Delta, but they are going to have to contact me to find out what that solution is!
May all of your travels be stress free, your luggage arrive when you do and whatever airline you choose to use remembers who the customer is.

Friday, November 26, 2010

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!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

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!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

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!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lifestylist Design Featured in Builder Magazine

We had a great surprise today - Builder Magazine published an article on New Approaches to Model Homes, and Lifestylist Design was featured in the story! Editor Jenny Sullivan included lots of great information and you can tell that she spent a lot of time researching the story.
If you are looking for a fresh, achievable approach to your model home merchandising dilemmas, please contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lifestylist® Designed Cafe Gets a Bobby Flay Throwdown

I am so excited! I just learned that Bobby Flay traveled to Tucson and had a "throwdown" with the Matias family at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe. This is a restaurant that we did the interior of, and as with all Lifestylist® Designed challenges we spent a lot of time getting to know the family and their needs before we came up with a plan.
Teresa's is all about family and the wonderful handmade food so the interior had to have as much personality as the family does. To do this we designed tables made of handmade tiles - thousands of them all that we made by hand. It was an extensive amount of work but the results were definitely worth it.
The episode airs on the Food Network - check out dates and times for your area.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homearama Returns to Rochester, NY

It's hard to believe it's already time for Homearama again - where does the time go? But this is the perfect time to visit Rochester - the produce season is in full swing, perfect weather and it's also a great time to be thinking about decorating ideas to warm up your home with.
This year this annual event will be held at WaterSong in Penfield August 14th - 22nd. Sponsored by the Rochester Homebuilders Association this 9 days will not only highlight these 5 beautiful homes but there will also be an abundance of wine tasting, cooking demos and decorating seminars.
Lifestylist® Design has teamed up with @home Builders three different years to participate in this great event, but my favorite home was definitely the Ronald McDonald Show House we did a few years ago. We teamed up with the amazing group of volunteers from the Ronald McDonald House and merchandised a home using furniture, artwork and accessories that were donated to Ronald McDonald for their annual ABC Sale.It was truly a Lifestylist® Designed home -  I spent three months going over images they would send me of new donations and digging through their warehouse to find the perfect items for this home and by the end we did!
It was a fun challenge to show how you can do a beautifully decorated home using only "gently cherished" items. The best part was @home Builders then did an online auction and visitors to the home could bid on each room. All of the proceeds then went to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. From this, the dinner auction prize and other events that @home Builders did with the home they were able to raise over $25,000 for the charity. To see photos and get more information about this show house, check out the website we designed for it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Simplify Your Life While Helping Others

It's hot as heck here today - the 1st day of August and it's supposed to reach 106 degrees! So today instead of even trying to do anything outside I decided to work on one of my new goals and start simplifying my life and style.
Have you noticed how easy it is to make impulse purchases now and how things just start piling up? I think I inherited a little of my parents recession-fear mentality and it's hard for me to pass up anything free like the little soaps and shampoos that you get in hotels.  As a Lifestylist® I'm always picking up cool and unusual items that I plan on using for staging or merchandising a model home - thanks heavens the Home Idea Factory has lots of storage or I'd be in big trouble!
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Family Place - an amazing resource for abused women and families. I serve on the board for HomeAid / HomeBuilders Care in Dallas and we just built new apartments, a clinic and a school room for them and it was so rewarding to see what we were able to accomplish. We were also able to meet some of the women who live there and what a difference the Family Place has made in our lives. As we toured we also found out what a great need they have for some of those things I've been collecting and today I'm going to start simplifying my life to help them with their fresh start.
Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, NY is another charity very close to my heart.  A few years ago we did a home that was merchandised completely with items that had been donated to the charity, then auctioned off to benefit Ronald McDonald House. I'll be forever grateful to the volunteers and Rochester community who donated such beautiful items to work with!
Towels, sheets, bath products, diapers... these are all things we may have an abundance of but don't want to throw out the ones that we don't use as much anymore. Stuffed animals that we tend to collect at fairs and in crane games would be cherished by a child that had to leave everything behind to get to safety.
It feels so good to clean away some of the clutter and know that these items are going to help someone else. The less you have to organize the easier it will be!

Color Spotting at Home Depot

I do love being a Lifestylist®, and getting the opportunity to travel across the country meeting new people and spotting new trends. Recently I was up in the 1,000 Island area of NY and spent a day just driving and looking at the magnificent architecture and natural beauty of that area.
When I found this little cabin tucked by the river I fell in love - especially with the brightly colored Adirondack Chairs in the front of it. Of course I took a picture and never forgot what a great, happy look this was.
Then the other day I was walking through Home Depot and found these bright, happy chairs and I had to have them! Especially since they were only $12.00 each and maintenance free. I love what a difference they made in the backyard of the Idea Factory - even when I'm not out reading a book or birdwatching on them I love just being able to look out the window and seeing the burst of color.
It's easy to use an accent of color to wake up any space. It can be done with pillows in a living room, towels in a bath or with plates in a dining room. Great, fun design doesn't have to be expensive - you just need to be brave enough to try different ideas out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting Inspired by Your Surroundings

When I work on a model home, my first priority is bringing the outside in - what's going to make the buyer feel like what he experienced before he walked into the model continues into his model experience?
My son just gave me the perfect example - he is buying a new home in Florida, and was troubled after seeing the new model home because they didn't like the colors or feel of the home after it was merchandised. It bothered them so much they actually considered canceling the sale. The colors and the lack of lifestyle felt like they could have been in any city in any community, but it didn't have the warmth that they anticipated their home would have.
At Lifestylist® Design we focus on lifestyle, and what they buyer hopes to experience in his new life in your new home. We just finished doing a Lifestylist® Designed home for @home Builders in Baldwinsville, NY and I thought I'd share the thought process on how we came up with this home.
Timber Banks is a new incredible planned community near Syracuse, NY that features an 18 hole, Nicklaus designed golf course, river frontage with it's own marina, clubhouse, and a stunning, natural beauty all around you that you can call home. It seemed only natural that I would bring this lifestyle and the colors I saw all around me into the design of the model. We went with some of the foggy greys, clear blue sky, river rocks and eco-greens that we discovered on our walks and as a result when you are in the home it truly pulls the outside in.  Plan a visit to the Timbers yourself and see what we accomplished - contact Teresa Carpenter with @home Builders for more information at:  315-635- 6006.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Terrific Towels

One of my favorite lifestyle items that many people don't think about is towels. Think about how many times a day you use one, but when it's time to make a purchase we spend more time worrying about cost and color than value. A typical family of 4 owns 15 towels, and we tend to hold on to them longer than maybe we should. My parents own a lake house and received 20 beach towels that were promotional items at least 10 years ago and we still use them!
My favorite store to buy towels from is JC Penney. They always have sales going on, but you can get a luxurious bath towel in beautiful current colors for under $10.00. As a Lifestylist® and model home merchandiser I buy a lot of towels for my job, and JC Penney is always my first stop for this purchase. Their sheets and bedding can't be beat as well. Instead of buying all of your towels the same color, try buying coordinating colors. That way you can mix and match, and each family member or houseguest can have their own color so you'll always know which is yours!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lifestylist® Advisory: Free Travel Resources From Yelp

One of my favorite new resources is yelp.com - an online resource that can help you find restaurants, hotels, nightlife and shopping in your local area, or wherever you are traveling to. Members review and talk about stores and services and help you find where "the locals" go. I've tried this in several cities and have gotten great suggestions. One of the great things about traveling is getting to try new things, and with the yelp app on my iphone I'm good to go! It will also help you find the closest gas station and emergency services if you ever need them.
You can also also go directly to the reviews of a member you like or trust - please check out this Lifestylist's reviews on Yelp here.
This is another great resource that can help you save money and time when you are making your travel plans. Let me know what your profile is and I'll follow you as well!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lifestylist® Designed TX Lake House For Sale

Looking for the perfect home to enjoy lake front living all year long? Look no further - this beautiful 5 bedroom home is what you have been searching for!

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber and photographer Lisa Stewart visited this week to stage, photograph and help the owner market their home. See why Lifestylist® Marketing can give you the edge you are looking for to help you sell more homes.

Take a look at the You Tube video of the home, or contact Norma K. Smith for more information.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Champion Homes are XTreme!

We did it! With a lot of help from the wonderful team at Champion Homes of Texas, Lifestylist Design Inc. was able to complete 4 model homes in a week's time. And the response has been tremendous - retailers have been flocking to the Champion Sales Center to see these amazing new XTreme floorplans.
This week really proved to me what a difference a great management team and leadership can make in the success of a company. I can't say enough about how everyone stepped up and did whatever needed to be done. Even though we had to work on Saturday and Sunday in 100 degree weather there wasn't one person who acted like there was any place they would rather be. The loyalty to their company and attention to detail really shows in every home that they build as well. No matter what price point the home was, it was still XTremely well constructed and I would be proud to call any of them my home.
If you are looking for and XTreme Home to call your own you should check out these new homes. Contact Marc Medders at 800-414-2605 for more information and tell him The Lifestylist® sent you!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shopping at IKEA The Lifestylist® Way

We are making progress!
On of the toughest things to do when you have to merchandise or stage a home quickly is find the right furniture for the space. I don't like to stock furniture because then you end up putting things that just aren't quite right into a space because you have them. Lucky for me, there is an IKEA in the area so after having no luck even with being able to rent and make budget for this client, I decided to see what I could find online. IKEA is truly a lifestyle, and as a Lifestylist® I know this is a great resource for designing homes with lots of personality.
In the last few years, the IKEA website has become very user friendly. It's well organized, easy to find what you are looking for by room, and they also have great inspiration photos which can be a huge help. A new to me feature is the Shopping List. You can add an item in your shopping list and by doing so and entering which store you'll be picking up at the site will then prepare a list that not only has a photo and cost of the item, it will also tell you specifically where in the store that item will be! If you have ever been in an IKEA store you know that because of the size of the stores and all of the great room vignettes it can easily take you an entire day to shop. But you'll never go hungry -they all have a great cafe that is as reasonably priced as their furniture in them and also a take out area if you are eating on the run.
With the help of the website I was able to make out a very detailed plan for each home and know exactly where I would find it and if it was in stock. When I arrived at the store I was able to pull everything and get it to the delivery window in 2 hours so I was thrilled! I think that was a record for me but I stayed focused and only bought what I knew I needed. When you are working on XTreme Homes with XTreme budgets the key is to only buy what you know you need or your budget can go off target in one shopping trip.
For you all not used to the IKEA experience - be warned - their great pricing comes at a cost. Most of their merchandise is "Flat box" which means it is designed to take up the minimum amount of space when it is being shipped. After you purchase the item most of it will have to be assembled, even the sofas so keep that in mind if you aren't especially great with a screwdriver. They do have outside companies you can contact to put your items together though but this would drive up your costs. The other thing is that you are literally shopping in a warehouse, and you have to pull the merchandise from the shelves and bring it up to the check out lines. This may not be a problem if you are only buying a wicker chair, but if you are buying houses of furniture be sure to bring help and a truck to take it home in. I used their delivery service but didn't have a great experience so I'd only use this as a last resort.
Everything got delivered yesterday, they are finishing up the houses today and hopefully I get to start making them look like home tomorrow! Can't wait to see how they end up.