Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Love Letter Gifts for the Holidays

How is your holiday shopping going? If you’re still searching for that something special that you haven’t seen before, I have the perfect site for you! Uncommon Goods is an online retail shop based out of Brooklyn, New York, that is filled with unique gifts made by talented craftspeople who focus on sustainable design.

“We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of our company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is our responsibility to use our business to impact the world in a positive way.”
– via Uncommon Goods  

They have lots of cool home, garden, office, special occasion and even personalized gifts in their collections, and they asked me share some of my favorites with my readers this holiday gift giving season. Since I love typography and graphic design, I have chosen some text worthy treats that would certainly make a thoughtful impression.

“When lovebirds carve their initials into the knotted bark of a tree, they create an everlasting record of a romance able to stand the test of time. Ceramicist Laurel Begley translates this ages-old tradition into a keepsake vase that captures a couple's ability to always find something fresh and beautiful to love about each other as they grow old together.” 

“A thoughtful token for a couple of newlyweds, a family, or a new homeowner, this personalized stamp celebrates the place you call home. Brandy Schuman custom designs these stamps in her Atlanta, Georgia, studio and then cuts them out of durable red rubber and North American native wood. Your chosen name and address are rendered in a stylish mix of print and script lettering, adding handwritten appeal to ready-to-go writing.”

“Keep your bartending repertoire at hand and streamline your mixology with this set of clever cocktail glasses. Each rocks glass features four formulas — one on each side — for concoctions based on their main spirits: gin (salty dog, Tom Collins, gin rickey, gin fix); rum (mojito, rum sour, Boston cooler, Havana two); vodka (Bloody Mary, vodka cooler, Madras, seabreeze); whiskey (whiskey fix, de riguer, cablegram, dinah). Each glass in the set is marked on its base with its main spirit, so it’s easy to get to the bottom of things at cocktail time.” 

“You can live a life of abundance, independent of any material things, if your heart is always filled with a spirit of gratitude. This elegant box set contains all you need for a head start on such a gracious way of living. Not only does it contain 52 thank you cards—one for each week in the year—but it also has tips for writing meaningful thank you notes, and a guided journal for you to record your experiences.”

“More than just a warm greeting or farewell between yogis, the word ‘namaste’ is also used to express gratitude or to thank another person for his or her selflessness and generosity. Capturing the nuanced spirit of this expression, Alexandra Ferguson’s handcrafted pillow brings a calming presence to any space and serves as a reminder to be thankful for life's many blessings.” 

“Wise words spring to life in these bright desk sculptures. Artist Matthew Hoffman draws and then laser cuts uplifting phrases out of birch plywood. Highlighted by a vibrant finish and letters that climb, each pedestal-footed design is signed by the artist himself.” 

“I really like the idea of sneaking positive
messages into the world.”

In addition to offering beautiful gift items, Uncommon Goods also shares the inspirational stories of the makers behind them. Be sure to check them out while selecting your next perfectly thoughtful gift from Uncommon Goods this holiday season!

Note: I was compensated for this blog post,
but the opinions are exclusively my own.

Place your UncommonGoods order by 5pm ET on the dates below to receive your order on or before December 24, 2015:

December 17 – choose Economy shipping or faster
December 18 – choose Standard or Preferred shipping or faster
December 21 – choose Expedited shipping or faster (not valid for PO Box addresses)
December 22 – choose Express shipping (not valid for PO Box addresses)
Orders placed after 5pm ET on December 23 will leave the UncommonGoods warehouse on Monday, December 28.

*Unfortunately the shipping cutoff for International orders has already passed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Top 5 Gifts to Give (or Receive) from R+F

Now that I have your attention (how cute is that fresh-shaved face?!) I’d love to share with you some of my favorite Rodan + Fields skincare products for this holiday giving season!

First up is just for the guys ...

1. Beyond the Shave gift set for men

The Beyond the Shave regimen has been specially curated to provide men with an easy way to incorporate skincare into their daily routine. Step 1 is used as a shaving cream that softens the beard while also pulling impurities from the skin. Step 2 soothes and treats any nicks and cuts after the shave while Step 3 moisturizes and protects from future sun damage that ages skin. All 3 together provide significant overall improvement to the skin that guys (and those who love them!) can both see and feel. I’d say this gift is a win-win! The set comes in a handsome gift box for a limited time only while supplies last.

Retail price $180 / Preferred Customer price $162

2. For her: Lip protection gift set

Next up is something special for her. The Holiday Lip Promotion bundles three top selling lip care items at over 20% OFF regular price. This limited time only gift box set contains Enhancements Lip Microdermabrasion stick which gently exfoliates the lips, 60 capsules of Redefine Lip Renewing Serum which delivers antioxidants and peptides that smooth and condition, and a set of two Essential Lip Shield moisturizing lip balms that hydrate and protect throughout the day. Lips will be mistletoe ready in no time! 

Retail price $67 / Preferred Customer price $60 

3. Everyday skincare essentials

The Essentials and Enhancements collections offer a little something for everyone on your list. Whether you are looking for thoughtful appreciation gifts or special stocking stuffers, these daily use products will show you care with each and every use. Preferred Customer prices range from $14 – $22 for Essential items, $53 for Mineral Peptide Powder with Brush, and $70 for the Micro-Dermabrasion Paste. A group of these together would make a great gift basket!

4. Redefine Hand Treatment Regimen

Winter hands need special care and this pair of products delivers beautifully! The Redefine Brightening Treatment addresses the tell-tale signs of aging like sun spots, crepey skin, wrinkles and dryness. It is paired in this set with the Redefine Age Shield Hand Balm which is one of my personal favorites (it smells SO good and my hands have never been softer!) Together, the Redefine Hand Treatment Regimen makes a thoughtful gift to the people on your list who are ALWAYS going out of their way to lend a hand to take care of others.   

Retail price $67 / Preferred Customer price $60

5. Eye Cream and Eye Cloths combo

Put a twinkle in someone’s eye with the super popular Redefine Multi-Function Eye Cream. This tiny jar (which lasts about four months) is big on results – fighting wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles with powerful peptides and skin brighteners. FYI: men love this product as much as women! The Redefine Eye Cloths are the perfect companion product to the Eye Cream. They are great at quickly sweeping away make-up or freshening the face while on the go (they are great after a workout!) 

Retail price $90 / Preferred Customer price $81

Preferred Customers (or PC Perks program members) always get 10% OFF all products plus FREE shipping on orders placed every 60 days, along with customer service provided by yours truly! To sign up as a PC, the one-time enrollment fee is just $19.95. This is the best way to invest in the benefits of treating your skin – or the skin of those you love – to Rodan + Fields. Rodan + Fields Gift Certificates are also available in the denomination of your choice (ask me for details!)

Anyone who signs up as a Preferred Customer this month will receive a BONUS GIFT from me in the mail (please leave a comment below or send me an email so that I know you read this post!) I would be SO happy to be able to assist you with your skincare needs this holiday season and into 2016. Rodan + Fields skincare products are everyday luxuries that keep on giving by turning back the hands of time! #agingbackwards

Give yourself the Best Gift Ever!

R+F President and CEO Lori Bush

And if you are interested in gifting yourself with a shiny new business in 2016, I would love to help get you up and running as a part of our super fun group of consultants (or brand ambassadors) who are changing skin and changing lives simply by washing their face and sharing these products via social media like I am doing today. Contact me to learn more!

email me at yblacker@verizon.net

Friday, November 20, 2015

One Room Challenge: I can see clearly now

This #OneRoomChallenge home office makeover has been a real journey for me, but it is not over yet! I have made significant progress to the point where my very large desk is completely clutter free, walls have been repainted, and one of my favorite pieces of original art – a custom framed signed print from fashion designer Jason Wu – is now hanging right where I can see it every time I sit down to create.

There is still a bit of styling to do, and organizational pieces to bring in, but for now I am very pleased that I made it this far (even if everyone else’s rooms are done!) I could have given up many times throughout this process, but I allowed myself to just get started and set small goals. Even my kids are pretty impressed with the change. My youngest was in awe, grabbed himself a pillow, and laid down under my desk which is 8 feet long. He never would have fit under there amidst all the to-be-sorted boxes before I started this! 

Thank you for coming by to check in on my progress ... my next post will show more of the room for sure! I hope all of the other One Room Challenge participants are enjoying their freshly designed spaces as much as I have enjoyed seeing them come to completion. And special thanks to Linda from Calling It Home for creating this opportunity to tackle our design to-do-lists with the “we’re in this together inspiration of a community of bloggers cheering us on : )

to be continued ...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One Room Challenge: Fashionably Late

Jason Wu signed print that will soon hang in my office.

Over the years, I have participated in eight different show house type events, including small 10 x 10 foot vignette-like spaces to somewhat challenging bathrooms to a suite of rooms for a holiday design show. I typically am ready for the opening day regardless of how much time I have to prepare, although I have been found hanging art or walking in with a key design piece at the very last minute on several occasions. This One Room Challenge has been a bit of an exception. When you are working on your own surroundings, even if your business is designing for others, it often is a much more emotional process to get through. That can slow things down ... a lot.

I signed on to this challenge to motivate myself to tackle the years worth of life accumulations that had ended up in my home office. Being held accountable to others who are working just as hard to meet their own goals is quite inspiring. We are all rooting for each other. This is not about competition. It is about goal setting, being resourceful, and being honest with ourselves and whatever difficulties we may encounter as we strive to bring our design visions to life.

I am proud to say that I have managed to work through the sometimes uncomfortable task of realizing just how much I have neglected to do in my own home. Don’t get me wrong ... we have done a lot with our 1904 farmhouse over the past ten+ years. But for the last five, as my work and family life has gotten busier, I have let a lot of STUFF takeover when I really should have been dealing with it on a regular basis. Keeping it simple is all about establishing routines, and habits, and designing a good system to help deal with what is allowed to enter our spaces while making sure the unnecessary goes out. That is my wish for this makeover.

So while I have not completed my office makeover at the six week mark, I am definitely in a better place than I was even yesterday. I am thankful for the support and encouragement I have been receiving virtually along the way from the Calling It Home One Room Challenge community of design bloggers. It really does make a difference!

So please come back next Thursday to see my final reveal. I was always disappointed when a show house participation ended, so this is one way of keeping it going I guess!

I did take a bit of time today to take note of the accomplished spaces of the other link-up participants. Below are images of just some of the home office transformations that may inspire you to tackle the room where you “make things happen” at home. Visit Calling it Home here to get to each link. Enjoy!

These two by a couple of my local design friends are not offices, but are worth checking out ...

Would you ever consider participating in the One Room Challenge? The next one begins in April of 2016, so start planning now!

Friday, November 6, 2015

How is that #OneRoomChallenge going?

I managed to move a bunch of stuff out of my office, but now the hallway is an obstacle course of to-be-sorted boxes filled with magazines, paperwork, design supplies, swag bags, and oh so much more. I am going to need a small miracle just to get fresh paint on these four walls!! Please check in with a few of my friends who are actually making progress with their Calling it Home six week makeover #OneRoomChallenge:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

One Room Challenge: Confession Time

I wish my office was looking as pretty, neat and stylish as the
Christopher Peacock showroom at the Boston Design Center.

My One Room Challenge to-do list (week 4)

1. Completely empty office.

I may need to get a storage pod just to relocate all the stuff I am trying to sort through. I am not sure I can get through it one category at a time with any amount of joy at this point (sorry, Marie Kondo!) I am basically feeling pretty overwhelmed by my surroundings, and I have not made much progress since I have been working on other projects that I actually get paid to do, and the rest of the time has been procrastinated away by scrolling through facebook or playing with my new bunny or going out to eat with friends or taking care of my family (not necessarily in that order). 

2. Paint walls, touch up trim and ceiling.

I am not a huge fan of painting, in fact I dread getting started, but if I can empty the room, I will take on this part of the project myself. Once I get in painting-mode it will be fun, right? A fresh coat of paint is the quickest way to transform a room, unless of course you have to declutter the room to paint it.

3. Style the space.

Of course this is my favorite part of any design undertaking, but to get to this point I am going to have to move mountains. And probably reduce my time spent on social media for at least a few days. Already feeling withdrawals.

Can I do it? I am not feeling very confident. I really wish I had a personal assistant. Or a fairy godmother. Or both.

How is everyone else doing with their One Room Challenge? Check out their progress here. And here. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: R+F and buildOn

Time to interrupt the tidying up of my home office for the Calling It Home #OneRoomChallenge to share what’s new with Rodan + Fields. One of the reasons why I love this company is because they focus on providing solutions, opportunity, and hope. First, they have created amazing products that actually work, solving sensitive skincare challenges, and as a result providing daily confidence to those who have transformed their complexions. Second, they are super smart as a company, distributing these products through an easily duplicatable social-media driven business model that empowers their Independent Consultants to easily earn their way to financial freedom on their own time, at their own convenience. And if all that were not enough, they have also made it their mission through their Prescription For Change Foundation to support a very important organization, buildOn, that empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service. There is actually a new buildOn chapter located right in Boston. What they do for kids and communities is really amazing. Transforming. Life changing. They are a movement, not a charity, and I am proud to be a part of a company that supports their efforts.

On November 6th, for every make-up free selfie posted on social media tagged with #RFGoNaked, Rodan + Fields will donate $4 to provide one buildOn program day for students in need. Consider posting a make-up free selfie on November 6th. A selfie for a good cause is a beautiful thing! 

Founder and CEO of buildOn
Jim Ziolkowski author of “Walk in Their Shoes:
Can One Person Change the World?”

“The buildOn movement is made up of passionate people from all walks of life who are committed to the belief that service and education can end poverty in our world. With your support we are breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service learning programs in many of America’s most under-resourced high schools and by building schools in some of the world’s poorest villages.

“buildOn’s service learning programs engage students in challenging urban areas and show them the limitless power they can achieve through community action. In each of these programs, youth contribute intensive local service – helping the homeless, seniors and children in their communities – to confront urban struggles with passion and optimism.”  {Learn more about buildOn here}


Thursday, October 22, 2015

One Room Challenge: Colors + Fabrics

Choosing fabrics and colors for my #OneRoomChallenge office makeover has been pretty simple (although clearing the clutter to empty the space has proved to be far more difficult – I am so very behind in this part of the process!)

Once the space has been cleaned out and freshly painted (see the Sherwin Williams paint swatches that I am considering below) I will be incorporating a set of drapery panels made out of the vintage fabric pictured above into my room, most likely to frame an open closet from which I had previously removed the sliding doors. I am still using the closet to hang my dress clothes, but I would love to make this area work as a place to organize all the bits and pieces of my creative life. The panels are from a design show space that I put together back in 2010. I have been saving them ever since, and they truly bring me joy when I see them (but I am not feeling so happy seeing them folded up and not in use!) I will have to add some fabric to the overall length, however, since they are a little short for where I want to hang them. I am thinking a band of solid color on the bottom will do the trick. 

One of the first steps in “tidying-up” according to the KonMari method, is to pick up each item in your home and either keep it because it brings joy or thank it for its service and then get rid of it. I have managed to remove a bunch of stuff from my office (thank you very much), but I am not doing so well at getting it out of the house. I seriously have issues with letting go. But what can you do if many of your personal belongings are of sentimental value? Just take a look at the design show space that I called a Designers Before + After – where the vintage fabric drapes originated – and you will see actual memorabilia from my childhood used to style the room. I still have ALL of it. Some of it may resurface in my new office.

Colors I am considering ...

Inspiration photo from Nancy Meyers Instagram feed
showing the set design for The Intern

Pinboard from my space designed for the

End note: In case you were wondering if I won the trip to Paris via the Legrand Best Before + After Contest, I sadly did not. But I am still loving my new bathroom and oh so fabulous switches!

My apologies for such a short update, but I obviously still have a lot of work to do over here! Follow the other One Room Challenge participants by visiting the Calling it Home blog. Some of them have been getting it done!!