Friday, February 27, 2009

turning intention into reality

In the journey to makeunder and design a life with intention, there needs to be intrinsic motivation to create change. Once that internal urge is secured, the next step is to find ways to capture that gut feeling. Just putting the intention into words or images makes the likelihood of success more probable.

Throughout my experience with intentions and making under my life, I have found the four best methods to turn my intentions into reality. Hop over to Jill's blog, The Good Life For Less (from my recent DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview) to read the full scoop.

end of the week exfoliation

My End of the Week Exfoliation this week is a pitcher that used to hold my kitchen utensils. Last weekend I went flea market shopping and found a pitcher that fit my current style better than this one.

I reasoned that as long as I exfoliated my existing pitcher (above), I could buy the new flea find. One in, one out. Wonder where this little guy will find new life...

Probably on another girl's counter as a utensil holder.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2 Month Makeunder Round Up

Here are the Makeunder and Intention topics from the last two months, easy to browse, review, and catch up on all the action.

Intentional Obessions: all things lovely and (eventually) mine

A nice hunk'a watch

A bike made of gold

White marble... anything

End of the Week Exfoliation: all things lovely and (no longer) mine

Buh-bye boots

"Scrapping" the booking

Clothes to the curb

Pitching the Coolpix

Makeunder My: Meals: the three-week vegan cleanse, intention meets determination

Eating out on the cleanse

Taking the good with the bad

Sipping Starbucks on the cleanse

Cleanse summary: part one

Cleanse summary: part two

Dressing Charlotte: new ways to dress and accessorize with the same ol' stuff

Breaking my own rules

Silk scarves without looking old

Cardigans, t-shirts, and chains - my favorite look

Off the Chain Updates: breaking news from "the life self-employed"

Addison: the newest jewelry collection

Best piece of (e)mail ever to hit our inbox

Jess LC goes global

Interview about my design process

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Jill from The Good Life For Less

Welcome to a new interview series, DESIGN YOUR LIFE. In the months ahead I will be asking people of all walks of life what their intentions are, and how they design their life to fulfill those goals. Because when you think about it, everyone is a designer of their life, and we might all be better if we share our inspiration.

Meet Jill, of The Good Life For Less, a blog about all things related to living well, raising a family, saving when possible, daydreaming about designer duds, and the occasional splurge at Target. Below are 10 ways she lives out her intentions (I am loving #6).

1. I quit working this past fall to spend more time with my two pre-school aged children. I love these sweet, lazy days with the kiddos before they are whisked away to school for the rest of their lives. This cut our household income dramatically and has had a HUGE effect on how we live. Even without the extra money we have found that our quality of life has dramatically improved!

2. We recently downgraded (or upgraded!) to only one vehicle. My husband has a 8-5 office job only 15-20 minutes from home. Counting this as a luxury, we turned in a leased vehicle last month (perfect timing for the lease expiration) and decided not to replace it. We are now forced to plan our days and errands accordingly. It certainly cuts down on vehicle expenses every month (insurance, car payment) but most importantly eliminates any “I am bored I’ll take the kids to the Target” spending. I do have to say that I live in a great community with lots of moms, kids and parks within walking distance. This helps tremendously We also chose a high quality vehicle that we both love to drive, it is easier to justify the extra cost and makes us happier (in, admittedly, a very materialistic way: when we are carpooling around on crazy days, we have an oasis – or at least heated seats - to sink into).

3. I execute the “keep, sell, trash” practice often. Mostly because I have the time now, but also because it is a regular reminder on why NOT to spend frivolously. I find that we have so much stuff around the house that we don’t use or need. This way the clutter is out, the house is organized and sometimes I make a little cash too! I find that my mind is clearer any given day with less “stuff” around.

4. I plan a weekly menu and shop accordingly. I post the menu for the week on the fridge and there is never any more “What’s for dinner?”. I love it.

5. I blog about my dreams and my realities. I find that putting my ideas in black and white organizes my life. A lot of my blogging is selfish – I feel so blessed that others enjoy it.

6. I have two go-to brands for beauty, skincare and hair products. I never veer away from them because I trust the ethics of the companies, I trust the ingredients they use and I trust that they will work. It eliminates impulse purchases and medicine cabinets that are overflowing with products I won’t use.

7. I plan play-dates. I need time with other moms and my kids need time with other kids. Sometimes it feels like another thing on the schedule but I am always refreshed afterwards.

8. We rarely eat out. I find that eating out is a downward spiral that is hard to get out of so we just avoid it. (oh, but how I love to!)

9. I make time for my hobbies: reading, knitting, blogging. I make them a priority and can feel it in my bones when I am behind on one or the other of them. It’s my therapy!

10. I quit soft drinks and started drinking a lot of tea. I love the process of making tea and the calming effects of drinking tea and also the health benefits!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our NEW ETSY Jewelry Line: Studio 1423

Big news! Busy bees have been buzzing around our jewelry studio the last few weeks getting ready to launch a new sister line for Jess LC, Studio 1423. We named the line Studio 1423 because it's our actual studio number and it sounds like a cool name for a jewelry collection. Don't you think?

our logo, and actual door tag

This new line will be mostly one-of-a-kind designs or limited editions that use lots of color, texture, and fun while still keeping the Jess LC clean lines and "naturally graceful" silhouettes. And the best part is the pieces are budget friendly!

We like to think of these pieces as "mash-ups" like the tunes my part-time girls Gertie and Susie listen to while they work. These necklaces and earrings are made from new, vintage, and reused materials. We plan to update the Etsy store throughout each week and we can even do minor changes to the pieces if you fall in love with a piece, but want some small alterations.

So stay tuned for more designs as we get this little puppy off the ground and let us know which pieces you are loving. Some new Studio 1423 pieces might just inspire future Jess LC designs.

dressing charlotte

Attention: This week's Dressing Charlotte actually breaks my own accessory rule. Previously, I have advised women to avoid wearing necklaces with turtlenecks entirely. But if you have seen me around much this winter, you know I have been breaking this rule about four times a month.


Here is the revised rule for 2009: Don't wear short necklaces (or pendant necklaces in general) with turtlenecks or strapless tops. When I look at Charlotte (above), her short necklace reminds me of a second grade Halloween story about a woman who wore a ribbon around her neck everyday, so that her head did not fall off (somehow didn't seem scary at the time). Visually, the short necklace cuts off the neck at an awkward spot and looks generally claustrophobic.

A better choice is to ditch the necklace entirely and stick to stud earrings with hair pulled back for a sleek look. Or go for a softer feel with hair down and loose with larger earrings or hoops. These are two fail-safe ways to look polished without trying.


However, for those that want to bend the rules without looking like a scary story character, try long necklaces sans pendants. The three layering necklaces above (I am still wearing them almost everyday as a trio) visually open up the neck and chest providing balance for the narrow neck.


Another option is two longer graduated necklaces (or one long necklace looped twice) like this vintage necklace from our brand new Etsy Studio 1423 Collection (more details coming soon!).

So grab those turtlenecks and get some great new looks while the cold weather lasts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"makeunder" defined

This weekend I spoke with a friend about how my vegan cleanse fit under the makeunder umbrella. My friend didn't understand how eating vegan was actually making under, since it was more expensive, made eating out difficult, and made cooking more complicated. And I admit, she was right on all three accounts. It was challenging and slightly more expensive to follow the non-processed food plan. But to me, the three week experiment definitely qualified as a makeunder.

Since this site is a reflection of my perspective on the term, I think it is fair to explain what I think a makeunder is for the purpose of this blog.*

makeunder (noun): the process of simplifying an aspect of someone or something with the intention to make it better.

Given this definition of the term makeunder, my vegan cleanse removed foods in my diet in order to: break bad eating habits, improve the quality of my nutrients, and become more familiar with a plant-based diet. Although the process required more thought and money, it did reflect my ultimate intention of eating healthier and consuming more vegetables.

Other makeunder examples include simplifying one's wardrobe, schedule, or even a DVR queue (guilty as charged). Generally, I consider the act of "addition by subtraction" a makeunder.

One conclusion some may have is that because I am so excited about living with less, I must not be into shopping or consumerism. However, I am most focused on living a high quality life above all- it just happens that quantity is often what causes stress and dissatisfaction for me and much of our society.

So though many times having less is better, having the right things in the right quantities is best. What the right things and the right quantities are vary person to person, and can even fluctuate throughout one's lifetime. The trick is to be aware of one's changing needs and lifestyle and adjust one's environment accordingly.

In the weeks to come, I plan to give more helpful tips, ideas, and interviews regarding this concept as well as explaining what the term "designing an intentional life" means to me. My hope is that these suggestions and stories inspire and encourage personal reflection.

*I believe the term makeunder can be defined differently, depending upon the individual, and what may work for me may not be right for someone else.

[photo from Rachel at Heart of Light]

Monday, February 23, 2009

intentional obsession: big watch

My new Intentional Obsession is an oversize watch. Currently, I don't wear a watch and substitute my cell phone as a timepiece. But with summer approaching, I am thinking of a watch as more a piece of jewelry or standout accessory than a functional object. Function follows form, if you will.
Fossil watches

I have narrowed down the options, and finally laid to rest a nagging wish for this expensive Coach watch. I even shock myself when I say that my new favorite watches are from Fossil. Memories of chunky silver (cheesy) watches from high school definitely dampen my enthusiasm for the brand. But I cannot argue with good design, and these watches are the right blend of style and value for my Intentional Obsession.

So now it is time to vote! Which watch is the best choice?

Watch #1
Watch #2
Watch #3
Watch #4

Saturday, February 21, 2009

cooking class: pan seared filet of beef and truffle potato puree

Welcome to my cooking class part three. For this installment I chose to pair the Pan Seared Filet of Beef with the Truffle Potato Puree- known to laymen as steak and mashed potatoes. Both recipes are delicious, but I would put my flexitarian money on the steak, if forced to choose between the two. See recipes below.

Pan Seared Filet of Beef, Roasted Garlic Compound Butter
(2 servings)

- 2 8oz Center Cut Filets
- S+P to taste
- 2 tbs. Olive Oil
- 4oz (1 stick) Salted Butter, room temperature
- 5 cloves Roasted Garlic
- 1 tbs. chopped Parsley

1. Place butter, roasted garlic, and parsley in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until well combined. Remove and roll butter in plastic wrap into a tube shape (like a cigar). Transfer compound butter into freezer to set up and chill for at least 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 400*. Coat fillets in olive oil, season with S+P to taste. Set aside.

3. Heat dry skillet to med/high heat. Sear both sides of each filet until well browned (1-2 min). Move to oven and continue to cook until desired "doneness."

4. Remove beef from oven and let rest for 5 min. Serve with one slice of compound butter on top.

Truffle Potato Puree with Mascarpone
(2 servings)

- 2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes
- S+P to taste
- 1 tbs. butter
- 2-4 tbs. Heavy Cream
- 1-2 tsp. truffle oil (white or black)
- 2 oz Mascarpone Cheese

1. Peel potatoes, large dice and boil in salted water until tender. Drain all water and return to pot potatoes were boiled in. Add butter, 2 tbs. heavy cream and Mascarpone cheese.

2. Mash with a hand masher until desired consistency. At this time, feel free to add more heavy cream, (teaspoon by teaspoon) for smoother potatoes. Add S+P to taste. Finally add truffle oil to taste. Serve immediately.

Friday, February 20, 2009

post its: a few blogs that caught my eye

This week's Post Its are a bit eclectic, just they way they should be. Enjoy!

A Link Love post I made for Dolan Geiman's blog which reveals my inspiration for the next Jess LC collection.

Because of this before and after I am going thrift shopping this weekend.

The new recycled wine glasses I am coveting. Beautiful.

A great blog I wandered into.

Contemplating this blog makeover company for my site.

25 random details about my organic designer friend, Kristin Hassan, of Organik Revolution.

The easiest and cheapest wall treatment. Ever.

I am determined to make this treat of the week recipe soon.

[photo from Abby Tries Again]

end of the week exfoliation

This week's exfoliation was both obvious and a bit tricky. It is obvious that I should pass on this camera to someone who could use it because I have gotten a new, better camera. Since I only use one camera, I only need one camera. Duh.

But then this little voice in the back of my head said "this old camera might still be good, you haven't tried replacing the batteries to see if it still works." Seriously? I don't need an old camera because it might work with new batteries. Someone else can use it, or I will recycle it at an electronic recycling site, either way it's time to exfoliate!

PS. A few people have mentioned they have also begun exfoliating their stuff once a week. If you would like to get rid of the dead fluff in your life as well, please send me a picture of what you are getting rid of and I will post it each week (with a link to your blog)! Who knows, maybe we can get a little Exfoliation Group going.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

cooking class: Haricot Vert and Prosciutto Carpaccio Salad

This installment of the cooking class features two of the side dishes we prepared. The first is Haricot Vert (the French name for green beans) with toasted almonds. The second dish is a Prosciutto Carpaccio and Arugula salad. Both take just minutes!

Haricot Vert
(2 servings)

- 8oz Haricot Vert (French green beans), trimmed
- 1 tbs. salted butter
- S+P to taste
- 2 tbs. blanched slivered Almonds

1. Place almonds in saute pan and heat until almonds are toasted (once they begin to change color to light brown remove them from saute pan and set aside- they will continue to cook while cooling).

2. Boil water. Add beans to water and boil for 1 min. Transfer to ice bath immediately to cool beans. Remove beans from ice bath and dry off.

3. Melt butter in saute pan. Add beans and S+P and saute until heated. Toss in almonds Serve immediately.
Prosciutto Carpaccio and Arugala Salad
(2 servings)

- 8 slices thin Proscuitto
- 1 cup Arugala, cleaned and dried
- 1 oz Maytag Blue Cheese
- 2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tsp. Basalmic Syrup
- S+P to taste

1. Place 8 prosciutto slices flat on two plates covering the enitre base of plate.

2. Arrange Arugula in center of late in a high mound shape. Top with crumbled Maytag Blue Cheese. Season entire late with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Finally drizzle entire plate with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic syrup. Serve immediately.

Off the Chain Update: Interview on City Sage

Anne at City Sage has just posted a great interview I did for her blog regarding Jess LC. Check out how I design collections, and how the line has evolved since I was 15-years-old.

dressing charlotte: silk scarves and sweaters

This week's Dressing Charlotte is a look I created for myself using my Grandma's vintage silk scarves. When she passed away, I inherited a handful of these great accessories. I am not sure how often she wore them, or what era they are from (1960's or 1970's?). But the same look can be achieved with new square scarves tied in a simple knot at the back of the neck. Think Jesse James meets Jackie O.

In the summer I like to pair t-shirts with the scarves, a straight jean skirt, and ballet flats. And dark skinny jeans tucked into brown leather boots looks polished with the shirt/scarf combo in winter.

As for accessorizing a look like this, keep jewelry simple above the scarf. Great button earrings, studs, or these little cuties are perfect. Then add some color to the hands with either a great cocktail ring or bracelet like the one below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

field trip: two-sided gift store

Sometimes I feel spoiled by all of the awesome Chicago stores and restaurants. So I plan to share my favorite places via a new post sequence called "field trips." My first stop was to Two Sided at 2958 N. Clark.

Though there are more gift shops in Chicago than Barack Obama posters, Two Sided definitely manages to stand out from the pack. Many of their items can be found elsewhere, like Snow and Graham stationary, but they also have a large selection of vintage and found items woven amongst the freshly made goods.

Isn't it lovely?

treat of the week: edible creations

This week's Treat of the Week actually came last Saturday and was devoured by the next night. Erwin brought home a great fruit bouquet with chocolate covered strawberries and apples from Edible Arrangements. It was delicious and pseudo-nutritious. Flowers and chocolates... guess he figured he'd kill two birds with one stone.

And what a tasty stone it was.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

cooking class: wild mushrooms in cream on toasted brioche

Of all the recipes from the Valentines Day cooking class, this appetizer was my favorite dish of the night- and it is also the first one that I will make again! It is so tasty and is a perfect appetizer for a dinner party. The final product looks complicated but really it couldn't be easier. See below for the recipe and ingredient list.
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-2 tbs butter
-1/2 pound fresh wild mushrooms, trimmed, washed well, and patted dry cut to uniform size
-1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
-freshly ground white pepper and salt to taste (regular s+p would be fine)
-3 thing slices brioche or challah bread, crusts discarded, each slice cut into 4 triangles and toasted (this was the original recipe, but I would substitute with baguette slices or any other thin, toasted bread)
-few sprigs of fresh Tarragon
-2 tbs fresh Parmesan shavings
1- Heat cream in small saucepan until hot.

2- Heat butter in a 10" heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until golden, 6-8 min. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, 1 min. Stir in hot cream and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer, stirring once, until mushrooms are tender, 10-15 min. Season with salt and pepper.

3- Arrange 6 toasts on each plate and spoon mushrooms and sauce on top. Garnish with fresh tarragon and Parmesan shavings. Serve immediately.

off the chain update: new addison collection

After listening a good long while to customers at jewelry shows last fall we realized at Jess LC that we were missing a very important accessory in our line: bracelets. Believe it or not, before yesterday we only had one bracelet in the entire Chicago collection. So the new Addison Collection is long overdue.

Below are a few pieces from the collection. We repeated themes from other collections like the links from Rush St. and the gems from Southport, so the pieces can be mixed and matched.