Turning 30 and looking better than ever

Turning 30 is a little bit like crossing a threshold. No longer are you flying by the seat of your pants, trying to figure what’s right for you in the moment, falling flat on your face, dusting yourself off and continuing on–you just don’t do that anymore. You are learning from your mistakes and settling into yourself.

For Samantha, a single musician living in Los Angeles, leaving her 20s brings on nothing but positive emotions, “I feel so hopeful for what’s in front of me versus what was behind me.”

Samantha looks younger and happier at 30 then when she was in her 20s. As she becomes more grounded and secure in herself, the more it blooms and lights up her face. “Being a woman, like a fine wine, gets better with age, but you need to take care of yourself,” says Samantha. “You want to preserve that for as long as possible, so I have some tricks that I do with beauty stuff and lotions are very important… treat your body like a temple, treat your body as you would anything else that you love and cherish, because this is what your going to live with the rest of your life.”

“I used to not even think twice about what I look like on stage and I had this long crazy hair and I didn’t care what I was wearing and I just did it,” says Samantha. “But I realized that if I feel like I look really good and I’m put together–it’s kind of a good meditation to put my makeup on, put my lotion on and my clothes–that helps me kind of get in synch with my performance.”

Here are a few pieces of advice to help you age with grace:

  • Take care of your body and accept your limits

“Your body is your temple and you need to take care of it regardless of how invincible you think you are–I think I’m the most invincible person in the world, I can go on three hours of sleep and get on the airplane and get off and play a concert and go to bed in a hotel and wake up the next morning and be fine. But the reality of it is that my voice is going to get tired. I’m going be a little bit fatigued and that kind of shows, especially as a performer. I’m kinda glad that I have to put myself to bed every night by 11 o clock every night and drink tons and tons of water because it makes me feel better in the morning. I can get up and go on a run easier and that type of stuff.”

  • Take every opportunity

“It’s so easy to put limitations and boundaries on what you’re trying to create, but now that I am 30, life explodes into a million different opportunities and I never looked at life like that before. I thought life had to be this one straight shot, north and south, but I didn’t realize I can also be an artist, I can paint, I can direct movies, I can start a non-profit business, we can do anything we want, really, if you can just let yourself. That’s a beautiful thing.”

  • Have a positive attitude

“Being very enthusiastic and being optimistic and positive have always worked, they never fail. And that has carried me through some tough times, if things aren’t really going your way or something happens with your career or your relationship or you want to make a move in your life, you maybe want to try living in a different city or just make a change, enthusiasm will always get you through the day. It’s infectious, other people around you feel it and that helps you out.”

  • Take ownership of yourself

“I feel like I can accomplish so many more things in my day and I’m so much more fulfilled because I know, I’m trusting that even if there’s a couple mistakes thrown in there, I’m still correcting and adjusting them. I’m never going to be perfect, but I am going to lead a much more well-rounded life and my decisions in general are going to be a lot better.”

  • Celebrate your body

“I never allowed myself to feel like I was super hot and sexy before and I know I can do it. I never, ever allowed to be who I am and now I really take ownership of that sexuality and sensuality as a woman. Knowing that I am beautiful on the inside and the outside and allowing myself to feel that way and celebrate that. I think a lot of women don’t do that, especially in this culture and I think they should because it just makes everybody else so happy.”

“With the knowledge that I’ve gained in my 20s with living life and pursuing my dreams and just being a woman, really being a woman in an American society–experiencing the things that everyone experiences, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom,” says Samantha. “I can gracefully enter my 30s with a sense of vitality and inspiration and hopefulness.”

How to set the perfect table

Every single day, Rebecca puts together baby showers and weddings and family dinners that make Martha Stewart jealous. She crafts centerpieces and arranges tablescapes and plans menus, threading together details from the flowers to the favors to create an occasion for inspiration.

And the best part, you’re invited to every single shindig.

“I started my blog Tastefully Entertaining because I love entertaining,” said Rebecca. “Now I get to throw a virtual party every day, I get to throw parties I could never throw on my own because there are too many ideas and I’m not made of money, and I get to inspire other people to enjoy entertaining and think outside the box.”

Part of Rebecca’s quest to think outside the box comes from the fact that she has attention to details in her DNA. Her mom coached it out of her at an early age, showing her how to arrange food and pull together themes, and gave her an appreciation for the ambiance that artful entertaining can evoke.

“My birthday is just before Valentine’s Day, and every year my mom would figure out a way to make each party very unique,” said Rebecca. “She put an extraordinary amount of effort into planning games that went along with the theme and put a personal touch on every aspect.”

The concentration on details is something that can be overwhelming even for a pro like Rebecca. To help her get organized and hone in on her idea, she uses inspiration boards.

“The inspiration board is basically the beginning of an event for me,” she said. “Sometimes I start with colors, sometimes I start with a feeling like romance or whimsy, and sometimes I’ll start with a picture that strikes me. Then I turn it into an event.”

Inspiration boards help answer both the practical and the creative questions about an event. If an invitation inspires you, let that be the first piece on your inspiration board and then fill it in with these basics elements:

  • Invitation

It’s the first thing your guests see and should prime them for what to expect.

  • Table top

Think about the plates, the linens, the colors, the shapes. What could you use as a centerpiece that could bring in elements of your theme or your colors? How should you arrange each place setting? What should you offer as a favor? Are there any unexpected candles you could pull in instead of the typical tapers? The table top is basically the stage for your event, so concentrating on those details is key to creating a cohesive event.

  • Menu

What foods will evoke the ambiance of your event? Having a bon voyage party? Think about seafood. Plan a menu that echoes the design details you’ve decided on.

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Practial Ideas and Inspiration
Visit Rebecca’s website for recommending recipes, cocktails and reasons to get together

Hostess with the mostess
More design driven entertaining ideas!

evite!
Evite guides party hosts through every step of the event planning process – from deciding on the party specifica and inviting guests to preparing the party to finalizing the menu and sending eCard thank-you notes after the event.

A stylish spin on old-fashioned needlework

Getting laid off is no picnic. Even if your company hands you a generous severance package, it can take a few months to stop the world from feeling like it’s falling down on top of you. But if you can get your head above the fog, if you can stop the spinning insecurity, getting laid off can also be the much needed opportunity to turn your life around.36_jennyh_185x165

Jenny worked at a museum, and, like most of us, she liked that it was steady, dependable work. Also, like most of us, she felt unhappy, underpaid, underappreciated and creatively paralyzed. Finally, she was laid off. Instead of using the pink slip to dry her tears, she used it to light a fire and start a needlework business with a modern twist.

“I had been working towards the goal of leaving my job, but it’s kind of like, one foot on the dock, one foot on the boat, and you really don’t feel like you can make that leap,” she said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘People do this all the time and make it work.’ I really felt that I could, and I knew the resources were out there. Not only that, I really believed in what I wanted to do. I loved it.”

Jenny had started embroidering with some reservation years before her layoff. She was curious about it but also thought it would be tedious, boring, time-consuming work.

“When I actually tried it, I realized it was relaxing,” she said. “I had, in a very short period of time, several family members who either died or were in hospitals. I started needle working since it was something that I could do when I was in the hospital. It was the only thing that really dealt with my anxiety and nervous energy in a way that nothing else had.”

Jenny found herself wanting to do needlework every day, and she wanted to be able to have unfettered time to be as creative with it as she wanted to.

“It was like this new found passion that I discovered,” Jenny said. “I looked at the market and thought, ‘Well, you know, the market does not really offer a creative platform for hobbyists my age and younger. They’re not doing this type of work.’ I thought maybe this would be a way to gain some independence.”
Her layoff was just the push she needed.

When Jenny started working on embroidery, there was such a response to the work and the ideas that doors just started opening. She started getting attention from magazines and realized that her contemporary approach to a traditional craft could be a new way of life for her.

“The first media outlet that contacted me was Entrepreneur and I thought that was a good sign,” she said. “I was really amazed when Chronicle Books contacted me. They said that they had been watching what I was doing – and it had only been about a year – and that they had a line of craft kits. The knitting one just came out and they thought I was the person to do the embroidery kit. That was a pretty huge.”

Jenny never thought that she would become an embroiderer, much less someone who runs a small business. But now she has reached a point where her project has become even bigger than her own vision of it. With two assistants, a bookkeeper, an accountant, a financial advisor, a web developer, and even a warehouse to process inventory, orders, and customer service, calling Jenny’s needlework a success would be an understatement. It’s more like a craft revolution.

“When I was working a 9-to-5 job, I was far more stressed out, and I was not satisfied,” she said. However unconventional and interesting working at the museum was, Jenny knew it was not what she wanted to be doing. She didn’t want to be working for someone else, or make less than a livable wage. Since childhood, Jenny knew that she wanted to be an artist, “I knew that there was a practical, very real way it could be done.” After she lost her job, it was time to find out.

With motto’s like “Get to it and do it” or “Failure is only guaranteed if you give up,”Jenny’s advice is simple:

“Persistence is the key. It really is. This is only going to end if I decide to stop doing it. Really, I think that you’ve got to find your pathway to bliss. And it’s not easy to find it. You just have to be true to yourself.”

What about you, if you got laid off today, what dream would you pursue?

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Jenny’s Website
Due to an overabundance of bunnies and dull, outdated instructions, embroidery badly needed an update. Sublime Stitching is the original company to offer hip and (gasp!) edgy Embroidery Patterns and customizable all-in-one Embroidery Starter Kits.

Recommended Reading
If you are interested in starting a small business, check out Small Time Operator by Bernard Kamoroff . “It was my bible… That was my starting point, and it has always been a book I recommend,” said Jenny.

Cross-stitch and Needlework
Check out America’s Favorite magazine for cross-stitch, needlework, embroidery, and more!

How a little trim goes a long way

Amanda used to wear hijab to represent her culture and Muslim faith. The hijab in Arabic means modesty, and by covering the hair, arms and legs and chest, it makes the statement that the person is modest.

“It’s just a way to represent myself and who I am because I can’t do it just by my looks, I don’t look Middle Eastern. It was kind of a mask in a way or a sign to show who I am. It was really empowering because people would approach me and say you don’t look Muslim, tell us about yourself, tell us about your religion. It was a way to communicate with the people and tell them who I was both verbally and non-verbally.”

Then September 11th happened and Amanda’s father asked her to take it off so she wouldn’t become a target.

When Amanda stopped wearing her hijab, it was obvious her hair style was in need of a fresh look. “It was down to my butt.”

Amanda’s hair was beautiful. But maintenence became a burden and she decided that it was time to try something new.

Amanda has even more daring plans for her hairstyle in the future.

“I have actually thought about cutting it really short and perming it into a Medusa-like thing. I went to a wig shop with my mom and tried on a bunch of hairstyles. I tried on short black wigs and everyone at the wig shop told me to cut my hair and dye it black and I was like, ‘No, I can’t do that, that is too drastic.’ I have to go in stages, but at least now I’ve got the courage to experiment a little.”

Even though she lost one form of self expression through the hijab, it seems that she has gain another in hair styles. Although the two are different, one can always find joy in the smallest and largest changes. Sometimes it’s nice to just make yourself over.

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From Head to Toe
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My daughter the hairstylist: Keeping me current

From the time she was ten years old, Alyssa’s mom gave her full creative license with her hair. She experimented with everything from Sun-In to streaks of turquoise and pink.

When Alyssa was about 15, her mom helped her get a job as a receptionist at a salon. It was a kids’ salon called Hair Depot. “I loved it, and one of the girls here encouraged me to start beauty school.” She ended up getting her high school diploma at the same time she got her beauty school license.

Alyssa worked at Vidal Sassoon and a few other places for a couple of years. And even though she was still very young, her mom knew she was a creative and talented hairstyling powerhouse.

Mary, her mother, however, wasn’t as creative as her daughter. But she’s always been a good businessperson, so when Hair Depot went out of business, Alyssa and Mary saw it as the perfect opportunity to open their own hair joint.

“We called it The Cut. We wanted to create a neighborhood atmosphere, a really comfortable salon where people could come in their sweats and bring their children,” Mary explained. “Our goal was to provide the same quality of service, but in a more comfortable setting and at a better price.”

Alyssa gets a lot of enjoyment out of being a stylist, but says a lot of clients can be resistant to change. Mary admits she used to be one of those clients but says working with her daughter has opened up her eyes.

“After opening this salon and working with young, cutting-edge stylists like my daughter, I’ve learned that there are a lot of styles for older women that can make them look much younger and more contemporary, and beautiful and free. A lot of women get stuck in a permed style that makes them look older.”

Mary and Alyssa both agree that it’s really important for women to be able to try something new. After all, it’s just hair, and it will always grow back.

“When I cut my mom’s hair, I don’t listen to her at all. If you don’t pay me to do your hair, you’re just my canvas and I’m going to do whatever I want to. My mom’s got conservative ideas about her hair, and I push her to make changes that I know will look good—but the changes are still pretty conservative.”

Mary responds, “If I didn’t have Alyssa as a daughter, my hair would probably still be one long fuzz ball.”

Mary has loved every style that Alyssa has given her—especially when she does something that she didn’t want her to do.

“In those cases, I usually end up loving it more,” she says. “At this point, I trust her to do anything with my hair.”

For herself, Alyssa can’t stay with the same hairstyle for very long. She is constantly updating her look. “I can’t understand why someone would want to stick with the same thing for years and years.”

“It can be scary to get a new look,” Mary says, “Hair is like a security blanket, especially if you’ve had one style for a long time. I think a lot of women have a hard time changing with the times.” For older people, they are used to the same style—they’re afraid they won’t know what to do with something new.

Alyssa has a very professional take on how to work with different types of hair, “Style has more to do with the hair texture than the face shape or your age. If you have really thick hair and you cut it short, it’s going to look poofy, and if you have thin hair and you try to grow it long, it’s just going to be flat and stringy.”

Everyone has something different about their hair, that’s why it’s important to communicate with your stylist about what you want. Mary and Alyssa both think you should be able to really trust your hairstylist, no matter who it is. Mary’s just happens to be her daughter!

If you live in the LA area, visit Mary and Alyssa at their cute, cozy salon, The Cut.

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Tales of a reformed sun-worshiper

Like many of us, Whitney always felt prettier when she was tan. She felt she looked more alive, all rosy cheeked and sun kissed. Even her teeth looked whiter against the dark complexion of her skin.

“I think it’s that when I was little my parents never put sun block on me. So there are pictures of me where I am basically brown, and I asked my parents about it and they said: you know, we never really thought to put sunscreen on you. People didn’t know then.”

Whitney is a Brooklyn, NY native who remembers lying on the roof of her building to sunbathe as a young girl. “It was completely black asphalt, it wasn’t like a nice roof to lie on, it wasn’t comfortable. I would bring a towel out and I would scorch myself and I thought it was great. And people would say—oh my gosh, you’re so dark! And the more people said that, the happier I was.”

A few years ago the woman at the makeup counter took one look at the wrinkles under Whitney’s eyes and asked how old she was. “When I told her I was only 24, she predicted right away that I was a sun worshiper and started recommending eye creams.”

Whitney thought—I am only 24, if I continue like this, what will I look like when I turn 30? “I didn’t want wrinkles, and I definitely didn’t want skin cancer. From that point on, I really changed my ways.”

Avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are most powerful, may be the best option for protection against UV rays, but sometimes this is just not practical! Visit the Green Guide for some tips on how to make educated choices about your time in the sun.

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Get Smart about Protection
Check out the best and worst sunscreen list on the Environmental Working Groups cosmetic safety database.

Green Sunscreen?
If you are serious about protecting our planets sensitive ecosystems, using a chemical free sunscreen is an easy transition. One environmentally friendly sunscreen that can make it easy for you is MelanSol–it contributes to a healthy body and a healthy planet.

A designer’s 5 tips for turning a yard into a living space

Felicia grew up in Southern California with easy access to the mountains and the beach. Mother Nature became a big part of who she is as a child and continues to have a dominant place in her adult life. Every day she hikes, swims or jogs outside in the beautiful weather.

“It’s part of who I am, and it makes me really happy,” she said.

Drawing inspiration from the great outdoors, Felicia decided to pursue a career in interior design and was recently a contender in Bravo TV’s Top Design.

In her design work, she tries to share the joy the outdoors brings her with her clients. Her purpose is not only to create a beautiful home for her clients, but also to help them improve their lifestyle.

And hopefully, that lifestyle can extend beyond the four walls of her home to include outdoor spaces.

“A lot of my clients moved to Southern California to take advantage of the great weather, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve for bringing together indoor and outdoor living spaces,” said Felicia.

  • Choose window treatments that let the outside in.

“When I work with a client, I look from the outside in,” said Felicia. “First of all, I talk to my clients about what type of window treatments or designs they’d like to use so that we can maximize the view from the window or balcony.”

  • Choose the right seating.

If you’re outside space is behind a railing or a fence, choose seating that lets you see over the barrier. Pick a patio set or a bar table that has higher chairs. If you have a big open space, there’s no reason you can’t bring a bed into it to use as seating. Think about what seating will let you make the most of the space and your view.

  • Practice climate control.

There are easy ways to protect yourself from cold breezes with drapes, longer overhangs and fire pits, which you can often find for under $200, and you should consider how you’re going to keep your outdoor environment as cozy as your indoor one so you’ll want to spend more time there. Blankets are easily brought outside on chilly nights, and the gas heaters that restaurants use on their patios are available in a table top size.

  • Understand the difference between an outdoor patio and an outdoor living space.

“If we create a comfortable space outdoors, it will make us want to be out there,” she said.

To turn your outdoor set up into a living space, incorporate things that you would normally have on the inside. It’s amazing what is available to us in terms of outdoor furniture nowadays. No more are you confined to wrought iron tables or plastic chairs.

Find a plush outdoor sofa, bring out a coffee table. You can do anything outdoors that you can do indoors, especially in mild climates or during specific seasons.

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A Breath of Fresh Air
Check out some of Felicia’s outdoor-inspired designs at her web site.

Oh, So Cute
An eclectic collection of modern daily finds for your home or office, including kitchenware, home accents and the most interesting stationary around.

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.

Crafty—But Clean
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My inkling for tattoos

For Christina it wasn’t a question of getting a tattoo, it was a decision about personal ethics.

You see, tattoos are a physical representation of something that is a part of the “marked,” something that they care deeply enough about to make a lifelong commitiment. It is a covenant.

Christina came up with the idea of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. “Whether someone realizes it or not, decisions that you make are always affected by something else, maybe what someone has gone through in the past. The devil and the angel represent that decision making — good decisions and bad decisions and how that all works together. Maybe bad decisions lead you to good things and you didn’t expect that or the other way around.”

The beauty of tattoos is their mystique, the juxtaposition of private and public culminating to show that the person has put a great deal of thought into what they believe in and want people to assume about who they are.

The outline is the most painful part of getting a tattoo. This is in part due to the different types of needles the artist will use for either the outline or the shading. Different parts of your body are more sensitive than other parts: getting a ring of tribal art around your bicep isn’t going to hurt as much as that sea tortoise on your bony foot.

But Christina emphasized, “That is what is ideal about it. To go through a period of turmoil to get something that you want, something that will last and be a part of you forever. You don’t ever forget getting it, and it is connected to you forever.”

For this reason, you shouldn’t get a tattoo just to say you have one. If something is going to spend your whole life with you, you want to feel connected to it somehow. Getting inked can be a great form of closure memorializing a loved one or remembering a turning point in your life.

What to learn more about tattoos? How about starting with a bit of history.

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Over It?
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Supporting my family with a home-based beauty business

Tara will tell you… she was cheap before cheap was in style. She enjoyed luxury salon treatments, but she didn’t enjoy their inflated prices.

Why was it that having healthy, soft locks should cost a car payment?

Tara felt there had to be an easy way to deep condition her hair the way they did at the salon in her own home. Of course she couldn’t bring in a salon size dryer, so she set out to find the right mix of materials that would create the same effect.

After finding the secret ingredient while watching a marathon race, she had 100 of her deep conditioning caps made and sold them to different salons and beauty shops in her city. An infomercial company saw the product and began to market it along with some shampoo.

That’s when her need for deep conditioning started to fill her need for some serious dough. Tara realized that she had a business on her hands. Something that would be able to make money for her family and herself.

“Once the infomercial was on the air and did fairly well, I realized that this work could go from the realm of a fun hobby, something to do in my spare time, to a real business,” she said.

Soon afterward Tara came up with her second invention.

“Ever since high school, I had always had the idea of putting nail polish in a pen, like a felt-tip marker,” she says, “I was working on an art project with my daughter, with poster board and pens, and the idea came back to me. That was my genesis for a manicure pen.”

Trusting in her ideas helped Tara become successful. Follow her pointers and you can be a successful inventor too–in due time. Inventions take patience.

1. Create a prototype. Nobody buys an idea.

It’s important to get your idea to the prototype stage. Find something that’s like the product, even though it might be in a completely different industry.

For example, Tara contacted the manufacturers of the pen that she used in her daughter’s art project, and while they couldn’t do cosmetics because they weren’t cosmetic-qualified, they sold her the pen parts that she used to create the first prototype of Manicure Magic.

2. Have your prototype priced out.

Take a look at the marketplace to determine a reasonable cost to create your product.

3. Ask yourself, “How much do I want to invest?”

It’s usually not expensive to get to the point of a prototype, so after that, you need to figure out where the manufacturing money is coming from, and how much of the product you want to produce initially.

4. Figure out where to sell it.

Could you sell it on the internet? Could you present it to one of the shopping channels and sell it that way? Could you take it just down the street to your local store and see if they would carry it? Since Tara’s product was a manicure pen, she knew that if she could demonstrate it and explain it, it would sell. That’s why QVC was the perfect way to launch her product.

If you’re interested in taking your product to a large manufacturer or a large retailer that you think would have an interest in it, find an agent or a consultant to help you get in the door.

5. Define success on your own terms.

“You have to define success for yourself,” said Tara. “You don’t have to be the next Martha Stewart to be successful. If your vision of success is just to supplement your family’s income, or just to make enough money to take a really nice vacation, or help pay for tuition for the kids, then you should be proud of that success.”

For those of you with a fascination for new inventions, there’s always something new at the Inventor Spot, a blog that targets new creations from the worlds of food, technology and fashion.

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File It Under Toys
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Smarter, Not Harder
Bust through the glass ceiling with the National Network for Women’s Employment.

It’s Magic!
Buy Tara Murphy’s Manicure Magic set, available at QVC.

Real women, real secrets for staying in shape

Real women on the street share their secrets and practical tricks for staying in shape.

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Breaking the Tape
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