Sunday, September 23, 2007

Puppy Love


Life is never dull when you live in an Idea Factory. I was working in the garden last weekend and saw two grown dogs and a puppy running along the other side of the street. The Idea Factory is on a pretty busy street, so I was concerned when I saw them decide to cross the street. The two older ones made it, but the puppy wasn’t fast enough and got stuck in the middle of the street with cars whizzing past her on both sides. She finally gave up and just sat in the middle of the street and cried. The two older dogs kept going, and I knew she wasn’t going to make it if she stayed there so I picked her up and brought her in.

She had a small wound but seemed more scared than anything, and she was just a baby. With two older dogs who had both shown up here pretty much the same way I knew we couldn’t have another dog so I set about trying to find her owner or someone who would adopt her with no luck. So it looks like Rosebud is going to be the newest member of our family.

I’ve always been a cat person, and when the other two dogs came to live with us they had some age on them, so being around a puppy is a new experience. Puppies may be cute, but they are an incredible amount of work! I swear Ms. Rosie has Great Dane in her - her paws are huge, and she has this long skinny tail which feels like a whip when she’s wagging it. I don’t even know where to begin to start housebreaking her, so for now she has limited inside privledges.

The holiday and gift giving season is coming up quickly, and I beg any of you that think giving a pet as a gift will remember that it is a life long commitment for someone, and that every shelter and rescue group that I’ve contacted has more animals than they can possibly take care of - please consider and older, loving animal that is trained and needs a loving home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Home is the Most Important Place in the World

I am crazy about IKEA's new ad campaign - Home is the Most Important Place in the World, especially since it is exactly what I believe, build my life and my business around. The photography of the campaign as always is spectacular, and love that some of the images are of "trailers".

So besides the possibility of it being someone's most important place in the world, what is a trailer? My definition is that it's probably one of the most misused terms in regards to housing, and technically describes a recreational vehicle more than a manufactured home. Todays manufactured housing is not made to be moved once it is in place, and should be set on a permanent foundation.

Trailer parks and house trailers became popular in the 1950's when people who's lifestyles were more mobile were looking for a way to take their homes with them. A hybrid of a travel trailer, these original units were inexpensive and in 1956 technology made it possible to build a 10ft wide unit offering the homeowner more space, and making the unit more spacious for spending longer periods of time in. A "trailer" was typically a home that could be pulled buy a car or truck, but the mobile homes that became popular in the 60's had to be pulled by a professional truck company.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The winds of Katrina brought a new version of the trailer into our lives - the FEMA trailer. They were everywhere in the news, and it was our government's answer on how to house the people who had lost their homes. The manufactured housing and recreational vehicle companies stepped up and did everything possible to provide the homes - it was a time in my life I'll never forget. I worked with Patriot Homes to furnish 2,500 homes, and I only hope that whoever received them is enjoying them.

Now two years later there is a lot of discussion about Formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers, but the homes that they are discussing aren't to my knowledge the manufactured homes, but the recreational vehicles. Just another example of how much difference a name can make.

I love trailers - that's why I'm the Trailer Diva. But my idea of the ultimate trailer is an Aluminum bullet from the 60's that I have lovingly restored, not a manufactured home. My dream manufactured home will be the one that is on some land in Arizona - stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Long Road Home

It’s hard to believe that Katrina roared thru all of our lives over two years ago. Living in Dallas, you may not have thought this would affect me as much as many living on the Gulf Coast, but when your parents have found their calling in doing disaster relief and you received a call from them in their Salvation Army canteen outside New Orleans and the Super Dome it gets personal. They were focused on feeding people in need and I was focused on the images that were floating across my television screen showing how life threatening the situation was. I couldn’t be more proud of my parents and the work that they do, and after spending a few days when I can volunteering with them, I don’t know where they find the energy and strength.

My parents have always been great role models, and if there is one thing I know about and have a passion for, it’s housing. My mother can cook for 2,000 as easily as she can cook for 2 - a gift I wish I inherited, but instead my passions tend towards making a house a home.

When someone loses their home, and in a lot of ways their identities - how do you move forward? Katrina not only swept away people homes, she also stole their memories, and in some cases their futures.

Rebuilding Mississippi and the Gulf Coast has gotten personal for me. From having the opportunity to visit Biloxi, Gulfport, and other areas that were ravaged by the storms, I’ve been able to hear the life-changing stories first hand and to see how these determined homeowners can’t be kept from the communities that they love.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Food as an Art Form


Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Job? As a Lifestylist I spend a lot of time researching trends and ways that I can help consumers enhance their quality of life, so researching foodies and food trends is a large part of what I do. Last week I attended the Texas Restaurant Association's Southwest Foodservice Expo, and as luck would have it Duff Goldman, The Rock Star host of Ace Of Cakes was one of the speakers! People have asked me if I go everywhere with a photographer - as a matter of fact I do any chance I get attend events with Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography so I can capture images to share with you all. Thanks to her I was not only able to get some wonderful shots of Duff, I was also able to go behind the scenes and see what he's like without an audience in front of him.It's wonderful to now know that Duff is not only fun to watch on his Food Network show Ace of Cakes, he also has an amazing amount of experience and credentials to back up the fact that he's one of the most talented cake designers today. His loyalty to his employees - most were friends before they joined the business - talent as a true artist as well as the gift to not take himself too seriously has moved him to the top of my favorite chef list. As we all know, Food Network has been moving towards having personalities instead of chefs hosting their shows, but with Duff's background of attending the CIA Greystone (and not as a weekend course like others we know) and working at the celebrated French Laundry, this chef is more than fluff.I'm also in love with this man because so many times when you attend an event like this the speaker does their thing then disappears, but not Duff. He not only walked the aisles meeting everyone and being very gracious about it, but he also interacted with the various vendors and was extremely approachable.Duff is the perfect example of what the Food Network needs more of - great role models for the future of the food industry. I'm looking forward to watching the new season of his show which starts in a few weeks!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Junior Lifestylists - The Next Generation

It’s amazing sometimes how kids “get it” more than most adults do. This weekend I spent time with my favorite Lifestylist® - Jenna. She understands how rooms should be designed around the interests and Lifestyle of the client and her room is the perfect example.

With Jenna, it’s all about pink and ponies. If it’s a pink pony, even better. She has taken a personal interest in designing her room and has done a remarkable job. Her Mom let her choose her own furniture, bedding and lighting and it’s ideal for what she needed. A bunkbed with bookcases houses her growing book collection and the top bunk has become the “stable” for her ponies. Wall shelves allow her to organize her other collections in a neat manner.

Kids rooms should be about kids. A place where they can dream, learn, grow, and above all, a room that’s all about them.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Living the Urban Life

About five years ago I decided to move from the foothills of Tucson Arizona to Dallas, Texas. I loved my life in Tucson but most of my time is spent flying to help different clients so I needed a city that was in a central location and economical to fly in and out of. When searching for my new home I had hoped to be able to combine my living and workspaces, and to be able to house my growing collections of props, antiques, and tabletop items. A loft would have been ideal, but I yearned for a yard for the animals and a garden for me.I love being able to shop for homes (or just about anything) on the internet. You can look 24 hours a day and don't need a Realtor or sales person to tell you what you want or need.With The Home Idea Factory it was love at first sight. I get all of the benefits of city living - I can see the buildings of downtown Dallas from my roof -but I'm in one of the first neighborhoods that was built in Dallas so I have beautiful mature trees, wonderful architectural gems around me and a melting pot of cultures. My new nest was a printing company that was built in 1941 and not much had been done to it so it was a clean slate for me to make my own.It's wonderful to be able to walk places, and now I can't imagine living anywhere else. I started the City Lifestylist to share all of the benefits and challenges of urban living. Being a Lifestylist is about living the lifestyle that suits you, and living in the Idea Factory is the perfect lifestyle for me.

Living a City Lifestyle

About five years ago I decided to move from the foothills of Tucson Arizona to Dallas, Texas. I loved my life in Tucson but most of my time is spent flying to help different clients so I needed a city that was in a central location and economical to fly in and out of. When searching for my new home I had hoped to be able to combine my living and workspaces, and to be able to house my growing collections of props, antiques, and tabletop items. A loft would have been ideal, but I yearned for a yard for the animals and a garden for me.I love being able to shop for homes (or just about anything) on the internet. You can look 24 hours a day and don't need a Realtor or sales person to tell you what you want or need.With The Home Idea Factory it was love at first sight. I get all of the benefits of city living - I can see the buildings of downtown Dallas from my roof -but I'm in one of the first neighborhoods that was built in Dallas so I have beautiful mature trees, wonderful architectural gems around me and a melting pot of cultures. My new nest was a printing company that was built in 1941 and not much had been done to it so it was a clean slate for me to make my own.It's wonderful to be able to walk places, and now I can't imagine living anywhere else. I started the City Lifestylist to share all of the benefits and challenges of urban living. Being a Lifestylist is about living the lifestyle that suits you, and living in the Idea Factory is the perfect lifestyle for me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rachel Brown of Hells Kitchen

I found out this week that Rachel Brown who was one of the stars of Hells Kitchen - Season Two had died. Someone dying is always a reason to reflect, but Rachel was someone who was in and out of my life for over 20 years so it hit me very hard.

Besides what you saw on Hells Kitchen, who was this person?

I met Rachel shortly after she had just turned 21, and our first meeting was something I'll never forget. Here was this woman who had "it" - she was lanky - your eyes were just drawn to her when she came into a room - blonde, very humble, and a southern drawl that made you stop in your tracks and you wanted you to know who this woman was and where she came from.

Rachel was funny as heck. And it was a dry humor - she would say something and you would think... did she really say that? We used to spend weekends in a local park and Rachel would be there loving on the dogs and throwing the football. What is the most ironic thing to me is that the other memories I have of are when I was cooking for her. I was born with the cooking gene and a group of us would get together and I would try out new recipes that I had found and cook them up for my favorite test group which included Rachel.

Fast forward to when I was watching Hells Kitchen and saw Rachel. She looked familiar... couldn't be.. but it was the Rachel I knew! That wonderful sense of who she was and what she wanted accomplish reinforced that it was the same Rachel. What was her demise in the competition was what I loved about her - she called things as they were, never backed down from a challenge and was a fighter. Leave it to Rachel to leave the competition graciously, and to nurture and acknowledge the person who ended up the winner.

I'll never be the same person after knowing Rachel, but in a very good way. I will cherish an email I received from her after the Hells Kitchen experience, and I will forever be concerned about what happened to the Rachel I knew before Hells Kitchen and the Rachel I'll never get to know. Has reality TV become unreal? What toll does it take on the participants who bare their souls for ratings that have nothing to do with them? I can only hope that Rachel and Kimberly have finally found each other again, and they are enjoying one heck of a tag team football game wherever they are.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Signature Style

I treated myself a few weeks ago to a potters wheel, and it has become my de-stressing tool of choice. If you"throw" a pot and try to push it, chances are good it will implode and it's all over. Today was a good day - I ended up with three items that almost look like something. Usually you sign your pieces to make them yours, and I decided that this was the year I wasn't going to be as embarrassed and came up with a way to make them uniquely mine. Z has always been my signature - if you are looking for an alphabet item chances are good z will be the hardest to find. Instead of signing my pieces underneath, I've chosen to stamp the inside of each item with a z. So now, if you see a slightly uneven bowl with a z in the bottom, you'll know who made it.Choosing what your Signature Style is should be about letting people know what you are about, and what your lifestyle is. It doesn't have to be complicated - it should just be about you.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Building Integrity

This has been an interesting week - lots of battles being fought and on the good side reconnecting with great role models.

After getting an SOS from my sister that's building a stunning home in Oklahoma I headed up 35 to see how I could help. From the beginning it's been obvious that we are sisters - she and her husband didn't want a home that was like every one on the block. They wanted one that embraced old and new, had character just like their family definitely does, and was full of the love and craftsmanship our parents brought us up in. This wasn't a project they took on as a whim - finding the right lot and the right components has been a decade long search. They were also looking for partners in the process that could share their passion and to be honest they had no issues with compensating people for their time and involvement. As a person and as a professional there isn't one thing that I would have done any differently than they did.

When interviewing builders they spent over a year talking to other consumers that had built in the area, visiting homes built by various builders and almost gave up on being able to find the right partner. Finally they found one that said the right things and was as anxious to get started as they were.

Fast forward almost two years, and my sister is still waiting for the home to be completed. It's become the nightmare that we all hear about - the builder is never around and with subcontractors that have no supervision or guidance my sister is having to take on pretty much the builders role to move the house forward.

So much comes down to attitude - her family is very sensitive to smoke and they discovered one day that the trim carpenters had been smoking in the house... a lot. They asked then not to smoke in the house because of the health issues and yet the contractors continued to - never even stepped outside to indulge in something that has been proven to be a health hazzard to them as well as everyone around them. Plus the fact that the painters were working in the house with very flammable stains and lacquers. If the builder had been around to see this it should have been his responsibility to handle this with HIS subs and to be sure that the work was being done on time and with the craftmanship that was promised.

As someone who makes their living in the home building industry, I'm embarrassed to have people like this call themselves professionals, and it's people like this who hurt all of us. My sister and her family are ending up paying a very heavy price - instead of getting to spend as much time as she would like to with her family and her husband's business she is having to manage subs and do the work that they have paid others to do. Sadly, I think if they knew how much building a home was going to affect their quality of life for this many years they might not have ventured down that road.

Fortunately there have been bright spots. It's a family trait / curse that we don't ask people to do anything that we wouldn't do ourselves and many times we work right along side the people we've hired and frienships evolve. One of those is a soul that there aren't even words to describe -someone who has given his time, his sources, and his treasures to make my sisters home as special as they had hoped. He has understood their vision (unlike their builder) and has discovered architectural components that have been around for hundreds of years and will continue to have a place of honor in their home. Their stone work is a masterpiece and you can tell it is a labor of love as is the pool complete with it's own grotto.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this subject in the future. What this has taught me is that it doesn't matter if your new home costs $20,000 or $2,000,000 - every family and every home deserves to be treated with respect and with the quality we would expect if we were building it for ourselves.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Lifestylist Design - It's all about You

This month I've been very busy doing model homes across the country for Patriot, and also working on my new Lifestylist Design products that will be launching in January. It's been really exciting to see the Lifestylist program come full circle, and to see how people have embraced the concept and made it their own.My sister is the perfect example of what Lifestylist Design is all about. It should be about you - your life, your loves, your discoveries, not some designer or other persons interpretation of how they think you should live. I was finally able to get up here to see the new home that she and her family have been working on, and it's spectacular! And the best thing about it is that when I walk in the home, or even when I drive up to the home there is no question that this is an active outgoing family who loves life and are individuals. From the start my sister refused to get "typecast" into a specific style or theme. Instead she incorporated things that they saw on various trips, items that were gifts on very special occasions, and was wise enough to encourage her subcontractors to be partners with her on this journey. The result is a marriage of craftsmanship and character that will never be replicated the same way again, just as my sister is a one of a kind."Rules" are meant to be broken, especially in the design world. The next time someone tells you what you can or can't do with your home tell them that you practice the Lifestylist Design philosophy where what you love is never put in question.