Saturday, January 31, 2009

end of the week exfoliation: scrapbooking supplies

After taking a quick glance around the studio, I found my object(s) for this week's exfoliation. In college, I had illusions of grandeur as a stationary hobbiest (pretty sure that is not a word but I'll stick with it). Within the span of two weeks I amassed a small treasure trove of stationary supplies. I enjoyed the pastime for a few months, and a handful of people received my handmade notes.

But since that time I have not made any stationary in Chicago. At all. That means I haven't made cards in a year and a half. I have kept the box of supplies around "just in case" I need to make some cards. But c'mon, really? Just in case "I need to" make some cards? How many times have I bought adorable cards at Two Sided down the street? Enough said.

So the next move was finding a worthy (and willing) recipient for this stationary hobbiest's bounty. Initially my dear part-time lady, Gertie, was disinterested in the stash. But once she caught a glimpse of some baby pink heart embossed paper, she was hooked.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dolan Geiman is kind of a big deal

Before I moved to Chicago I worked for a few months at Heavenly Metal, in Ann Arbor Michigan. I have mentioned the owner, Vicki, quite a bit so far this month. I think that is because she
a) is a great friend who has taught me a lot about what is really important, and how to live a high quality life without lots of money
and b) knows all sorts of cool, interesting artists.Anyways, as I was saying, before I moved to Illinois, Vicki pressed this picture into my hands and said "You have to have this." When she realized I did not recognize the artist, Dolan Geiman, she was incredulous. "Everyone knows who Dolan Gieman is," she said.

So in case anyone else doesn't know who Dolan Gieman is, now you do too.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

my salad gets a makeunder

I am not really sure if this salad I had on Tuesday night really qualifies as a "makeunder" I mean, it's not simpler than a regular salad. It actually is the vegetable portion of an amazing pasta dish my dear friend Vicki of Heavenly Metal taught me. So I guess it isn't actually a salad makeunder but a pasta dish makeunder. Perfect. Now I can keep the title.

Either way the meal was great- I don't love raw spinach salads, so this was a great way for me to get my leafy greens. Here is the ingredient list:
  • 1 bag fresh spinach - this is a great dish to make if you are close to the expiration date
  • chopped garlic (as much as you like, I used 3 cloves)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • capers (as many as you like, but optional)
  • pesto (mine was from Trader Joes, optional but does add a nice flavor)
  • pine nuts, walnuts
Here is the preparation:
  1. Sear the pine nuts and walnuts in a pan on medium heat until brown, make sure to keep an eye on them and don't let them burn. Put them to the side for later.
  2. Put olive oil in large pot with garlic and let simmer for a few minutes until warm, on medium heat. Once you see some sizzling action, throw the spinach into the pot and cover. Keep an eye on the greens as they wilt and add extra olive oil if needed. It should take 5-7 minutes and greens will look dark and squishy.
  3. In a bowl add cooked spinach, some spoonfuls of pesto, capers, the seared pine nuts, walnuts, and s+p as needed. Stir and enjoy.
PS- Ever notice dinner always tastes better by candle light?

off the chain update: a bit of sunshine on a cloudy, cold, Chicago day

See Anne of City Sage's original post.

design crush: Rebecca Minkoff

It's hard to say whether Rebecca Minkoff is considered a "popular" designer. On the one hand most of the tabloid celebrities are photographed with their Minkoff handbags, and she has a strong, devoted (read: cult-like) following. But on the other hand, though I have had a design crush on her styles for about a two years now, very few of my friends, design industry related or otherwise, seem to know she exists. Which is a shame. Because she certainly exists and has absoultely amazing handbags. So here are a few of my favorites:
And this one:
And here is my very own navy Mini Morning After Bag.
You can check out their new photo shoot on You Tube. Adorable.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

easy waffles with berries

At long last I have finally whipped out the camera and started photographing the foods I am making on this whole vegan cleanse thing. This is what my breakfast looked like this morning. After hearing I am abstaining from: meat, dairy, alcohol (more moderation), sugar, and gluten (which has now been added back in my diet), a lot of friends have asked: "so what do you eat?"

Well the answer this morning was:
  • Banana gluten-free waffles from Trader Joes
  • Thawed frozen berries from Trader Joes
  • Agave nectar (a natural, milder, honey-like sweetener) from Trader Joes
  • Toasted walnuts from Trader Joes
So basically this post can be boiled down to two main points: that breakfast was freaking amazing and I really, really like Trader Joes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

intentional obsession: white marble

Though it may seem odd, my first love is actually home decor, not jewelry. Gasp. One day I plan to make interior design a more permanent part of my vocation, but for the moment I will stick with the jewels and leave the decor to my dreams.

However I still continue to evolve both my jewelry studio and apartment into spaces I adore. Ask Erwin, the decorating is never done. With this in mind, I plan to start a recurring post titled Intentional Obsessions (I.O.). The title meaning that these obsessions are part of my personal vision and though they are not in my life yet, I intend to incorporate them over time. Sound good? I think so. Plus sharing them will take the edge off the longing desire.

My first I.O. is white marble. One day I intend to have a kitchen with white marble counter tops like this:
(notice the icy blue wall color!) Or maybe a bathroom like this:
But until then I could always use this coffee table:
Or this end table:
Or heck, even these cheese trays:
A girl has to start somewhere.

no paint apartment? no problem!

What a great idea for those with apartments that don't allow walls to be painted (many of us)! Or for those who are perhaps to lazy to paint walls in the first place (most of us). This image is from a recent post on Design Sponge.

First, I adore this icy blue color. I even chose it as my inspiration board's background for 2009. But what is even cooler is that anyone can use painted shelving like this as a way to add color to a room while keeping the walls neutral or stark white.

I am definitely bookmarking this concept for my apartment move in October.

Jess LC goes international

Jess LC International
Exciting news! Jess LC has gone global. Over the past week we have shipped to Quebec, London, and Singapore.

Two points for pictures submitted with Jess LC jewelry worn outside the US!

Jess LC International - by Jess LC on

Monday, January 26, 2009

scouts or cookies?

girl scout cookies
Yum. Just designing this post is making my stomach rumble. As I placed my annual Girl Scout Cookie order with a friend I began to miss the days when I was a Girl Scout. I learned a lot with that great group of girls in middle school and I am still good friends with one, Catherine, to this day. And though I am sure I learned a lot from this group, the only things that stand out are the memories of french toast made in a coffee can and our fear of the green toilet in the outhouse when camping.

So maybe all I really miss is... the cookies. My favorites are Samoas, any other votes out there?

girl scout cookies - by Jess LC on

just because i'm not eating sweets doesn't mean i can't enjoy them

When taking a little stroll through various blogs I found, the most adorable cupcake art I have ever seen. Not just because it is the only cupcake art I have ever seen but also because it actually is adorable. My personal favorite is this one:
Hey, if you can't eat 'em, join 'em.

notes from the weekend

The most interesting part of my weekend pertained to the infamous 'vegan cleanse' Kaitlyn and I have been attempting. It eliminates drinking, and therefore discouraged me from going out Friday night. But I was able to rationalize going out Saturday and enjoyed a few drinks anyways. So much for abstaining.

After seven days living more (or less) on the vegan cleanse I did successfully do without: meat, dairy, added sugars, and gluten. Here were the positive outcomes of week 1:
  • I learned about new foods - I had never tried rice milk, grilled eggplant, soy mozzarella cheese, or brown rice pasta. I liked all of these new foods and plan to eat them more often in my normal diet as well.
  • I laid off the sugar - I am an admitted sugar freak and taking six days off of the hard stuff seemed difficult but I really didn't miss it as much as I thought. Until Saturday. Then I splurged on dark chocolate with raspberry filling and some PB Whoppers. Once a week I think might be a better pace for sweets than the 1-2 servings a day I used to have.
  • I realized dairy is disposable - Up until this week I loved, loved, loved dairy. Brie was a weekly purchase and Greek yogurt with honey was a lunch staple. But going off the milky stuff turned out to be easier than I expected, and I don't think I will go back to eating it as much as I used to after the next two weeks of the cleanse.
On the other hand, here are the not-so-nice realities:
  • Eating gluten-free is next to impossible - Limiting gluten was prescribed in the cleanse because millions of Americans are unknowingly allergic to gluten. After 1 week on the gluten-free bus I can say I did not feel any different and therefore deemed myself pro-gluten. I will continue to eat wheat the rest of the cleanse. Another annoyance with this stipulation was the fact that brown rice products like pasta and waffles had next to no protein and fiber compared to the whole wheat versions.
  • Eating out on the cleanse is actually impossible - Here is my advice about eating out on a cleanse like this one: don't do it. I went out four times last week. Dinner 1 was at a Spanish tapas bar, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, where all I could eat were olives and spicy potatoes. Dinner 2 at Justin's, a bar and grill was somewhat easier- grilled veggie burrito (without the wrap and cheese) with black beans and a side salad. Dinner 3 at Bistrot Margot I skipped the menu altogether and ate beforehand. Dinner 4 was the best because we went to Karyn's Cooked, a vegan restaurant, where I ordered the grilled veggie wrap (gluten and all).
So looking forward into week 2, I feel a bit wiser and much more satisfied knowing what obstacles are ahead when eating out and that I am going to eat wheat.

Look out whole wheat homemade zucchini bread.

[photo found here]

Friday, January 23, 2009

happy weekend and thanks for the support!

Off to a great weekend of vegan cleansing (with or without the alcohol restriction). Vegan cleanse buddy Kaitlyn and I are heading to Karyn's Cooked for dinner tomorrow. Heaven.(*note pancake does not represent vegan cleanse as it contains gluten, but he's sure adorable)

And a HUGE thank you to all who commented on A Cup of Jo for the Lucky In Bed giveaway. Reading all 449 comments was awesome! And in case you are wondering, a lucky lady from Canada won the necklace.

Any exciting plans this weekend?

[happy pancake found here]

end of the week exfoliation

It may sound weird, but I get the same thrill from new purchases as I do from getting rid of old things. Really, I promise. There is something really freeing about passing on things that no longer have a place in my life to someone who needs them. That whole circle of life thing.

On top of that, another one of my intentions for 2009 is to have only really nice stuff. Since I cannot afford lots of really nice things, I can get rid of one item each week, and by the end of the year I will have 50 less items. Thereby increasing the fraction of "nice" things by decreasing the "not nice things." Addition by subtraction.

Now about the title... this whole concept is kind of like washing your face. In order to keep skin looking fresh doctors recommend exfoliating to diminish dead skin cells and reveal a fresh layer of skin. I think the same goes for my stuff.

So this week's exfoliation is actually two big boxes of pillows, blankets, clothes (pictured), shoes, bras, and caramel apple suckers.

Ah. I feel better already.

kiss and tell

Last night at a great "ladies only" dinner at Bistro Margot we got on the topic of kissing. We debated whether chins touch while making out. If so, can a man's 5 o'clock shadow cause skin irritation on the lady's chin? Has this ever happened to anyone, and if so, is there a solution?

[photo found here]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

spicy cooking or cooking spices?

Since I am still pretty new to the whole "cooking" thing I haven't had a chance to make those blunders that experienced cooks talk about. The whole "I have burned myself several times and been impaled twice peeling potatoes" has never been an issue for me. Until this morning.
It started simply enough. I wanted to prepare a nice vegan meal for lunch. I chose my friend Vicki's pasta recipe with wilted greens. Once the greens were finished, I moved on to boiling the water for the pasta. I had the pot filled, the burner on, and thought about jumping in the shower while the pot began to warm.

But for some strange (or miraculous) reason I checked to see how the water was doing and noticed it was not bubbling in the slightest, but there was a large stream of smoke floating behind the pot. I had turned the burner behind the pot on by accident. Needless to say, the small bowl of garlic and spice rack were well on their way to causing some serious damage. Fortunately I was able to turn off the stove and remove the burning bowl and rack to reveal a chunk of the spice rack platform burned into the stove top. So it goes.

[photo found here]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

win the Lucky In Bed Necklace

Those who are familiar with Jess LC jewelry probably already know about our Lucky In Bed Necklaces. And if you want to win one, post on a favorite blog of mine, Cup of Jo, before tomorrow. She will pick one (lucky) person at random to take home the most popular Jess LC necklace.

bailey doesn't bark

How adorable is this cup and saucer from Bailey Doesn't Bark? I love Honey Vanilla White Chai in the morning and think this little combo is perfect. I also like the birds on the cereal bowl-
So cute.

vegan for a day.

My dear friend Kaitlyn and I have been reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and are inspired to try her vegan "cleanse." So basically from Monday the 19th to February 9th we are (trying) to stay away from: meat, dairy, added sugars, gluten (in most wheat products), and alcohol. Yes. I know.

On Sunday to prepare for this little experiment I stocked up on groceries (you would guess I was preparing for siege or a severe hurricane warning) and cooked vegan recipes all day - more on those in posts to come. Needless to say I have been eating better, healthier, and loving it for a full... 48 hours. That is until I went out to eat last night at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. The table looked something like this*:
And of all that was on the table I could only eat this*:
And this* (*photos not from actual meal):
Surprisingly, though I would definitely have preferred a vegetarian approach to the meal, I did end up pretty satisfied and felt great this morning. Tomorrow night out to dinner with the girls should be another interesting vegan adventure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

where i work. part 2

With a lull in the day I thought I might follow up with the rest of the studio tour. Here it goes:
This is a big empty frame that hangs above my computer desk. I simply taped a piece of fancy paper from Paper Source and started adding things on top of that almost as if it was attached to the frame. The little Buddha and small stone are there to keep things in perspective.
This little wire basket is the mate to the corner shelf/basket thing hanging on the wall in Part 1 of the studio tour. Here it holds bowls of chain and wire for the jewelry we make. The little square is actually a ceramic egg holder from Anthropologie for about $9.
This dresser is one of a set of my-best-friend's-mom-from-when-she-was-a-little-girl-in-the-1960s. My best friend from childhood, Carol Beth, used it when she was growing up and when she got married she didn't need the set anymore. When it arrived in my hands for $0, it was worn, bright white with fading flower appliques, and had yucky yellow brass hardware. I sanded it, painted it "popcorn white" and added all antiqued knobs rather than handles. I adore the double knobs rather than traditional pulls but really it happened out of necessity. They actually don't make drawer pulls the same size as this piece any longer.
This little piece is the nightstand to the set from my-best-friend's-mom-from-when-she-was-a-little-girl-in-the-1960s. It serves here as a entry table and spot to store some running stuff.
GREAT IDEA! Since my bathroom has no storage besides a medicine cabinet I needed a place to stash my blow dryer and cleaning supplies. So I bought this vintage picnic basket from my trusty Ann Arbor thrift store to do the job. (The wine holders hold the blow dryer and brushes.)

So there it is. All in all when I moved to Chicago in August of 2007 I think I spent a total of $2000 on all the furniture, accessories, and trusty U-Haul. No cushy corporate moving and relocation reimbursements, but it's pretty darn cute anyway.

where i work. part 1

So for those who wonder why "makeunder my life" is the title for my blog, I will explain (a little). In part it has to do with my belief that great things come in all sizes, large and microscopic, and that my life though humble, does not need to be void of style. Even if one (read: me) doesn't have a lot of money to invest in her environment, that does not mean she cannot enjoy great design.So I thought I would share some photos of my studio (which is now actually the Jess LC jewelry studio exclusively- but at the time of these photos taken last summer, I also had a bed to sleep on in the studio as well). Please keep in mind this is a ~400 square foot space - about the size of the dining room in my parents house. I did mention I had a "humble abode," right?
This is one of my favorite tablescapes ever- the table itself is a bench repainted (twice) that I found on a run with my dear friend Catherine in high school. The black box was $4 from a thrift store in Ann Arbor, Michigan which I dearly miss here in Chicago. The plants are all under $6 from Trader Joes. Loveseat is from Ikea.
The (fake) painting was $100 from Bed Bath and Beyond and the adorable bird statue is from Ann Arbor's awesome Heavenly Metal.
A $4 Urban Outfitters lampshade got a makeover with my Grandma's vintage pins.
The two green hang-y things are from my high school days playing decorator in my old bedroom. They are filled with pine cones from old holiday decor and the middle piece is actually a corner shelf hanging with it's bottom against the wall. Inside that are some pine cones and a birds nest. The strings actually are not really supporting the pieces- they are there to make that dowel rod from my old Christmas decorations look like it actually has a purpose.
These keys got a lot of attention on the Apartment Therapy blog post about my studio. They were about $12 and in a rusty black color when I bought them. Using a foam brush I painted on a gold coat to make them look more "schmancy." The big glass vase is standing in a vintage candy dish, the candle holders are my Grandma's, and the two glass votives were $1 each.
This is one of my favorite (and really easy) projects. Inside this simple frame is a $4 document I found at an antique store from October 21, 1865. It is a deed to some land in Georgia - but it's current validity is under suspicion. The 'mat' is actually just a fancy embossed paper cut the width of the frame. Voila - a historic piece of art for about $12.

All this storytelling makes me wish I could decorate some new spaces... any takers?

Monday, January 19, 2009

went to a jewelry show, met a graphic designer

In December 2008 I did a jewelry show for Macy's on State St. in Chicago (the iconic Marshall Field's Building) and met of all people, a wonderful stationary and graphic designer, Megan Nutley of Silhouette Blue. We hit it off and now she is designing some new packaging for our Soc Chic line at Jess LC. (It's top secret, but I'll just tell you anyways: we are moving from the current Soc Chic boxes to simpler, greener packaging with a spiffed up look.)

Take a look at some of her other great stationary (my favorites pictured).

getting a bike was a summer intention. going broke wasn't

So when Erwin (my boyfriend) and I planned our New Year's Intentions (notice Intentions not Resolutions: the latter are too demanding and morally defeating for me if not carried through) and put "get some bikes" on our list, I didn't think much of it. That is until I spotted this Gary Fisher Simple City bike on a blog and fell in love. Now I keep wondering how I can find a way to afford this beautiful piece of art (that happens to moonlight as transportation) for the low price of $969.00.

At first I thought no way. Can't be done. Then an erratic thought popped in my head "well, maybe Jess LC will really hit it big in the next few months and I can afford it by then." At that point I stepped back and took a moment of personal reflection: I just said that if I "hit it big" I could afford to buy a bicycle?

nervous, excited, and learning to use my new camera

So here it goes. With this blog I plan to share my intentions, design inspiration, entrepreneurial stories, and cool stuff that crosses my path. As a designer I am drawn to all sorts of images, ideas, and ideals I wish I could automatically incorporate into my life. Some I can, others take longer. On the flip side, my "business" side enjoys planning, executing, and tracking my progress.

I write from my experience because (a) it is what I know, and (b) my thoughts may not be the best fit for everyone.

I hope the posts and ideas to come are fun to read, continue to keep me inspired, and help others become more excited about growing in their own lives.

But for now I better learn to work my new camera, so great (or at least passable) photos can capture the adventures to come.