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.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

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?

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

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.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Mom Hair: It’s Not What It Used to Be
Whether you’re 30 or 50, a mom or a careerwoman, About.com has the best hairstyle for your lifestyle.

She Bangs
Bangs are the coolest, simplest way to make yourself over. Check out the hairstyle page on About.com to figure out what style is best for you.

From Head to Toe
Get stylish fixes for the fashion flops taking up valuable space in your closet or make-up bag at My Personal Style.

Save cash. Be greener.

Remember when your dad would always tell you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? And your inner sassy self would say, “Daaaad, it only costs 6 cents a year to keep a light on all day, every day. Don’t be so cheap.”

Well, it turns out that Dad may have had more on his mind than penny pinching. In these hazy days of going green, we’re learning more and more about how our greedy energy practices are affecting not only our children’s futures, but also the lives of our global neighbors.

The trouble is… we like soft clothes dried in the dryer. We hate doing dishes. We prefer not to feel helpless and the deeper we dig, the more impossible saving the earth seems. But, as Zan Dubin Scott has learned, going green doesn’t have to be black or white.

“The exciting thing about living a greener life is that we can all do something,” she said. “And most of the things we can do are simple and won’t cost anything. In fact, they typically end up saving us all money.”

Here are a few things you can try to lessen your family’s footprint and put some extra cash in your pocket.

  • Connect the dots.

“For every action we take, we must make a connection,” said Zan. “When I go to the gas station, and I buy that gas, I am funding the war in Iraq. I am responsible for the young men who are dying in Iraq. I am contributing to that problem. Do I want to do that? I can shut my mind and decide to be in denial and not make that connection, but that connection still exists.”

Zan said that the best way to make those connections is to stay informed. Read the paper, watch the news, listen to the radio. It’s all there for us, but we have to open our minds to the information.

  • Turn off the lights.

If you’re leaving a room for more than 10 seconds, flip the switch. Zan credits her husband with teaching her this habit when they first got married, and now, to remind her of its importance, she always visualizes a smoke stack when she leaves the room. Not wanting to be responsible for polluting the Earth, she makes this small gesture, which ends up making a big difference.

  • Dry your clothes on a line… most of the way.

No one wants stiff blue jeans, but Zan’s found that if you dry your clothes most of the way on a rack or clothesline outside and then throw them in a dryer for 5-10 minutes to finish the process, you get the same amount of softness as if you dry them entirely in the dryer.

“It’s a great compromise,” she said. “I get softer clothes but that luxury doesn’t cause as much damage to our environment.”

  • Use reusable bags.

Zan said a lot of cities are banning plastic bags, so whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to make the switch to reusable bags. Buy a few canvas bags or organic cotton bags or keep an eye out for sturdier bags from conferences or special events. In many cases you can build quite a collection of bags without spending one penny.

  • Water your plants less.

“I heard from a local utility that you don’t need to water three times a week, that the plants can do just fine on twice a week,” said Zan. “I cut back on my watering, and my plants are doing just fine.”

  • Drive consciously.

It was a bit of a political joke when Barack Obama suggested fighting global warming with inflated tires, but maybe it was only funny because it’s true. Appropriate tire pressure is key for good gas mileage; better gas mileage means using less gas.

Zan also suggests pacing yourself in driving. Don’t accelerate too quickly and don’t brake too hard. Try to coast as much as you can.

  • Buy in bulk.

If you start looking at packaging –cardboard, and then plastic wrapping, and then paper instructions that you’re just going to throw away – it becomes more obvious why there’s a panic over landfills. By buying in bulk, you’ll reduce the amount of packaging headed to the landfills. And if your favorite items don’t come in bulk, you’re not a green failure if you buy them.

“I love string cheese, and I love the individually wrapped string cheese,” she said. “And I’m an environmentalist. To make up for my individually wrapped string cheese, I try to buy in bulk in my other choices at the market.”

Really what is all comes down to, Zan said, is common sense. We all know to reduce, reuse and recycle, but knowing and practicing it as much as we can are two different things.

“It’s amazing how once you start getting into the habit of using less, of reducing your consumption, how easy it is. You start really thinking about what you need,” said Zan. “If I can just make one change in my life, that will make a vast difference. And if each of us just made one change today that we weren’t doing yesterday, you add up all the numbers across the country and we can vastly improve our planet because of the power of numbers. That’s all. Simple.”

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Soul Crushing
See Zan and Paul in action in Who Killed the Electric Car?

Join the club!
Want to find some like minded electric car fans? Take a look at the Electric Auto Association and get info on how to rally for the cause.

A Trusted Advisor
Get the latest news and advisories on green automotives through Edmund’s Green Car Advisor.

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.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

She Bangs
Bangs are the coolest, simplest way to make yourself over. Check out the hairstyle page on About.com to figure out what style is best for you.

Mom Hair: It’s Not What It Used to Be
Whether you’re 30 or 50, a mom or a careerwoman, About.com has the best hairstyle for your lifestyle.

4 tips for organizing kiddos

When I was a kid, one of four in my house who were in a race to see how quickly our parents could go nuts, my mother had an interesting approach to organizing our clutter.

She’d pick it up, walk calmly to the front door, and toss it all out on the lawn.

Shoes, back packs, books, toys – she would stop at nothing. We’d think it was hilarious, run out after our stuff, bring it back inside and drop it right where it was before… by the front door daring our dad to enter without breaking his neck.

Our parents eventually gave in to living in a perpetual state of disarray, and now that I do my family’s dishes and my family’s laundry and get my family’s mail and coordinate my family’s schedules, I can sort of grasp why giving up is easier than keeping up.
If only my mom had met the Organizing Junkie.

Laura, author of the uber-popular blog I’m an Organizing Junkie, has a peace of mind and bits of organizational wisdom that can turn madhouses into places of calm and tranquility – as far as the stuff in them is concerned.

Unlike Martha Stewart, who is so organized it’s artful, Laura gets that life happens, that personalities come with their own ideas, and that, despite it all, the clutter must be contained.

“I try not to be too uptight about it,” she said. “When you have three kids, you have to have a little give and take. I try to set up my systems so that they’re all user friendly for everybody and so that they can all take part in it without it being too high maintenance.”

Laura has a few secrets up her sleeve when it comes to containing kiddie clutter.

Adopt the “Toy Room Rule.”

Designate rooms for toys, and make sure your kids don’t cart their entertainment from room to room. Living room toys stay in the living room, playroom toys stay in the play room. Laura says you’ll be amazed at how this little rule helps you get a handle on little mess-makers.

Create a “Closet Library.”

Kids clothes aren’t usually long enough to fill the bottom of the closet, so make use of this space by adding a bookcase and storing their books.

Corral with containers.
Create easy homes for things in bedrooms, bathrooms, anywhere with containers. Containers teach kids that there are limits and boundaries and teach them how to make difficult decisions and prioritize their wants.

Keep it easy and accessible.
Create storage for things that are accessible to your children and won’t set them up for failure. If they can’t get easily follow the system, they won’t, and then they won’t understand the value of being organized.

Living an organized life means accepting that organization, like life, is a never ending process.

Take Laura’s backpack station, for example. As the year shifts from summer to back to school, she is constantly updating her front door corral to meet her family’s needs. As summer fades to fall and into a Canadian winter, space dedicated to shoes goes through seasons as well.

“I no sooner get things set up, and I have to rework it,” Laura said. “But once you taste that sense of accomplishment and experience having that organized drawer, that’s really powerful and that feeling is what I’m addicted to. That sense of accomplishment from one project will inspire you to do other projects.”

For Laura, being organized at home makes her life much more manageable. She said her family is able to function better when it’s operating in a place of order, and that helps her feel calm during even the most chaotic storms.

Feeling like you need more of an organizing fix? Check out Laura’s I’m an Organizing Junkie blog!

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Keep it Off the Floor!
At the Lillian Vernon online home store, you can buy cute yet functional organizing accessories for the kids’ room.

Crafty—But Clean
At Family Fun, you can find tons of family craft projects that double as storage and organizing pieces, like a pocket wall organizer made from plain curtains!

Regain Your Sanity With NAPO
Contact the National Association of Professional Organizers to find a specialist who’ll help you get your life back in order!

Neat or Not?
HGTV organizing guide will help you control your clutter, once and for all.

Crazy Adventures in Parenting
A blog about raising 6 children living in the military