Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Huffington Post Removes 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

Sandra Lee's SemiHomemade 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!

Lifestylist® Advisory: Delta Airlines

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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Lifestylist® Article Published

Have you discovered mhmsm.com yet? It is an invaluable resource for the factory built home community, and this month we were honored to have an article published in it on LifeStyling your home. We give 5 great tips on how to take your models from ordinary to extraordinary using things you already have.
The Home Idea Factory not only does model homes using new merchandise, we also are experts in recycling your existing furniture and accessories to create a home that sells.

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

Found on Twitter: Model Home Merchandising

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.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shaw Living Debuts 2010 Area Rugs

Today is an absolutely perfect day The weather has cooled off to where I'm thinking about changing my home decor to suit the cooler temperatures. - it sounds like a lot of work, but a few changes can make all of the difference in how you enjoy your home. One of my favorite ways to warm things up is with area rugs.
One of my designers with Shaw Living just sent me a copy of their 2010 introductions and they are stunning! Whether you are looking for a bold, urban look or a more classic pattern they have something for you and the colors are right on trend.They also have rugs in their Ever-Touch yarns which feel amazing underfoot or make a great place to lay down and watch the football games.
With hard flooring surfaces becoming more popular every day, and area rug is a great way to add color and warmth. This is a model home for American Custom Builders that was Lifestylist® Designed, and you can see what a difference it made adding this Shaw area rug. It was a long, narrow space and the rug helped add color and define the space. In The Home Idea Factory I have summer rugs that are lighter and in more coastal textures, and in the fall I bring out my area rugs that are in deep, rich colors. Add a few new pillow covers and a throw on the sofa and I'm ready to go!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Social Media Lifestylist® Tells All!

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber has been dabbling in social media long before it was cool. As someone who always has a story to tell, Felber loves sharing her observations about the world around her.

Join us on Twitter at: @lifestylist

Facebook: facebook.com/lifestylistdesign

and on Foursquare: Lifestylist