Friday, December 31, 2010

Finding Joy 2011

It's hard to believe that in a few hours it will be a new year, but I'm ready for it! 2010 was a struggle for many, and I love the fact that each year rings in with it a sense of optimism and hope.

We all make New Years resolutions that we may or may not keep, but this year I'm making one I'm going to work on every day: finding joy. I have so many blessings, and it's important to remember that. This year I'm determined to enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with my kids and grandchildren, enjoy the journeys I get to take whether that's to the local Mexican supermarket or to another country, and to slow down and enjoy my gardens, a spectacular sunset and my family.

I'm also going to make a commitment to help stop suffering and have compassion for all living beings - animals and people alike. We have rescued quite a few animals on our own, and the love they share with me every day makes it all worthwhile.This year I'm going to extend that effort and try to do more.

I also am so lucky to be able to love what I do and be able to make a living doing it. Helping as many people have a safe roof over their heads and a clean bed to sleep in is a purpose that I'll continue to work on. Every day I go past my neighbors new house and know that I helped get them a safe roof over their heads makes it easier for me to sleep as well.

Having a fantastic and successful New Year isn't just about making more money or being more successful, for me it's about finding joy, and appreciating it when I find it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Be sure to check out this new video - If this doesn't get you in the holiday spirit nothing will!

It features films that are featured in Alonso Duralde's new book "Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas". The book is available on Amazon and can be purchased here.

Alonso has been part of the USA Film Festival family for many years, and we are thrilled to share this example of holiday cheer with you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

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!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Terrific Towels Make All The Difference

One of my favorite lifestyle items that many people don't think about is towels. Think about how many times a day you use one, but when it's time to make a purchase we spend more time worrying about cost and color than value. A typical family of 4 owns 15 towels, and we tend to hold on to them longer than maybe we should. My parents own a lake house and received 20 beach towels that were promotional items at least 10 years ago and we still use them!

My favorite store to buy towels from is JC Penney. They always have sales going on, but you can get a luxurious bath towel in beautiful current colors for under $10.00. As a Lifestylist® and model home merchandiser I buy a lot of towels for my job, and JC Penney is always my first stop for this purchase. Their sheets and bedding can't be beat as well. Instead of buying all of your towels the same color, try buying coordinating colors. That way you can mix and match, and each family member or houseguest can have their own color so you'll always know which is yours!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beauty Starts From Within with Advocare

Summer is definitely here, and with it comes all of the great summer activities that I love to take part in. But it is hot as heck here, and even simple tasks like walking the dogs can zap you.

Thankfully a few years ago I was introduced to some wonderful products that keep me healthy and active all year long, but especially during those hot summer months. Advocare is a health and wellness company that makes energy, nutrition and weight loss products that really make a difference in how you feel. Trish Luddy got me started on them a few years ago and I can't imagine going through a summer without my Spark and Rehydrate any more. Spark was introduced this year in a Pink Lemonade flavor that is fantastic, but the Mandarin Orange is still my favorite.

Give these products a try - you won't be disappointed. You can get them on Trish's website or contact her directly at:

Friday, July 2, 2010

USA Film Festival Screens Restrepo

I'm a huge believer that things happen for a reason. We may not know why at the time, but people, places, and events come into our lives because there's something we need to learn or change.
The USA Film Festival has been a part of my life for over 20 years - a good friend was in the film industry here in Dallas and got me involved. It's been a wonderful organization that my kids have grown up being a part of as well. We now have friends and memories that will last us a lifetime. When I got the screening notice for the USA Film Festival screening of Restrepo I was intrigued- not the type of film I would normally watch but worth taking an evening to stop working and go see. I had no idea how my life would change by this decision as it has with many of the other films I've been able to see as part of the festival.
If you haven't been fortunate enough to hear about this film, I'm honored to fill you in. Restrepo is a documentary about a platoon that is stationed at a 15 man outpost in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan - Restrepo. What this film isn't about is politics. One of the reasons I love it so much is when I sat down in the theater I thought I'd be watching a film about a war, instead I was treated to a visual and emotional  rollercoaster which by the end had me experiencing every emotion and left me wanting to see the film again, and again, and again. I thought I could come home and write about what I saw, but it's been really hard to put into words my emotions about what I watched. I just can't stop thinking about the film and the men in it, but I consider that a great thing because it's made me re-evaluate lots of things in my own life.
Directors' Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger didn't shoot this on a sound stage, have a 100 million dollar budget or spend their time interviewing generals - they personally spent 14 months with the courageous men of Restrepo doing the filming and everything the soldiers do except guard duty and shooting back during firefights. This is what makes the film so special - they became a part of the troop and were able to capture the very personal side of war.
As a Lifestylist® I spend a lot of time listening and watching to understand the needs and lifestyles of the client. Watching the film and having the opportunity to meet some of these courageous men has given me an entirely new insight on the sacrifice the men and women of our military make for us every day. National Geographic Entertainment is presenting this film and the director's uncanny gift of showing you details that you normally would overlook but you'll now never forget reminds me of the style I love in their media. Bullet shells falling into the soldiers shoe during a gun fight, children in the middle of a burned out war zone in brightly colored clothes, soldiers struggling to carry on after losing one of their own, and most of all looking into the faces and eyes of these very brave men - many who don't even look old enough to drive but are protecting our country.
We were so honored to have director Tim Hetherington and two of the soldiers from Restrepo at the screening to share their thoughts and experiences with us. Respect is something that is earned, and you could tell that all of these men respected each other. Another thing I loved about the film was the way it portrayed the personal side of these men, and even though they were in a war zone they still loved to play practical jokes on each other and just laugh sometimes. USA Film Festival hosted a reception after the film and we were able to ask more questions and learn more about the film and the people. During the Q&A a woman stood up that has a husband stationed in Afghanistan right now, and she said that she wished that every soldier's family member could view the film. It helped her understand what her husband is dealing with on a daily basis.
Restrepo isn't a big budget, big studio film, but it has a story that needs to be seen and told. Show your support and help get this important message out by joining the Restrepo Facebook page and by letting your local movie theaters know that this is a film you want to have come to their venue.
I had mentioned that Restrepo is a life changer, and for me it has been. From now on when I see someone who is serving I'm going to thank them for serving and protecting myself and my country. There is so much we take for granted, and I'm going to try and change that in my own life. With this being the 4th of July weekend Restrepo has given me a lot of think about and be thankful for.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lifestylist® Designed TX Lake House For Sale

Looking for the perfect home to enjoy lake front living all year long? Look no further - this beautiful 5 bedroom home is what you have been searching for!

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber and photographer Lisa Stewart visited this week to stage, photograph and help the owner market their home. See why Lifestylist® Marketing can give you the edge you are looking for to help you sell more homes.

Take a look at the You Tube video of the home, or contact Norma K. Smith for more information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lifestylist Marketing New Home Concept

American Custom Builders is inviting neighbors and interested buyers to it's Sneak Peek Sunday today from 1-3pm. Take advantage of the opening to view our latest Lifestylist Designed home and see for yourself this fresh approach to home building and design. All of the furniture is from the local Ashley HomeStore and consumers can go and purchase almost everything they see in the homes themselves. This new marketing approach to model home merchandising is proving to be very successful - come and see the results!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Champion Homes of Texas Debuts new Model

Our latest Lifestylist Designed Home debuted at the Great Southwest Home Show a few weeks ago and the response has been tremendous. The home was for Champion Homes of Texas, and it was a chance to show what the new Champion Homes is all about, and if you haven't take a look you need to  - great homes with great value and style.
Take a look at the article we wrote for MHMSM about the show to learn more about where the factory built housing market is heading.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lifestylist Interior Almost Complete

What a busy, busy month so far! Three models and a design center for three different clients in three different states - it looks like the Lifestylist Designed concept is gaining momentum.
Yesterday I was out working on the new model home for American Custom Builders in Frisco, TX and was fortunate enough to have the very talented Lisa Stewart of LAS Photo join me to take some preliminary photos. The home isn't done yet but we wanted to get an idea of what it would like like in photos. This has ended up being one of the more difficult homes that I've done, but I think it is going to also be one of the most successful. Using the Lifestylist Designed philosophy we have merchandised this home with items that can be purchased at stores within 10 miles of the home or online - all being within the budget of what a prospective homebuyer might want to spend. Drapes and rods are JCPenney or Bed Bath and Beyond, all furniture is from the Ashley HomeStores, and a lot of the artwork and accessories is from Wisteria - a great catalog resource. Pottery Barn Kids helped the children's rooms come to life, IKEA helped us stay in budget, and we even found a very cool resource here in Dallas - a consignment pool table company that got us an incredible deal on the pool table and they even picked it up and installed it for us!
American Custom Builders will now be working with the Ashley HomeStores so that their customers can go in and purchase what they see in the model, and we will be providing purchasing information on most of the items in the home. More information and photos to come - I'd love to have your feedback on what you think of the home and our concept.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Talented Friends

Be sure to check out the article in Elle Decor about Alice Cottrell's apartment this month. I'm honored to have this very special designer as a friend, and this is someone who get's the lifestylist concept. Her apartment is beautiful, but is also designed to make her beautiful rescue puppy Charlie feel right at home. Home Interiors that are right sized is definitely a growing trend - this home is only 700 sq. ft. but is designed to accommodate every need of the residents.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Speaking in Las Vegas

My bags are packed and I'm almost ready to go - tomorrow I'm off to Las Vegas to be a speaker at the 20th annual MHI Congress, and of course I made my reservations with the help of  my Travelocity Gnome.
Held every year in Las Vegas, this convention brings together that biggest and brightest names in manufactured and modular housing. This year keynote speakers will be Jim Clayton - founder of Clayton Homes and Harold Gross of Market Research Answers so I know everyone that attends will leave with lots of great new information to grow their businesses with. I'm honored to to speaking in from if this group for the 7th year and I hope to be invited back for many years to come.
This year I'm speaking on how a Lifestylist approaches the fast paced world of Social Media. I bought my first domain name in the early 90's and I've always been intrigued with this very cost effective way of doing marketing. Now I have expanded the Lifestylist Brand to include a presence on various blogs, Blogger, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare,Yelp and You Tube. Is it worth the time investment to manage and update all of these? Absolutely! One of my great new clients, American Custom Builders found me through my Lifestylist Blog so I feel investing the time in keeping up with Social Media pays dividends to my brand and my business.
If you happen to be in Las Vegas next week, come and join us at Caesar's Palace. If you mention that you read this I'll give you a copy of my new Do-it-Yourself Guide to Social Media and Networking. See you there!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Lifestylist Discovers Great Marketing and Food at the Paula Deen Buffet

Hey y'all! Just got back from Tunica, MS and the South Central Manufactured Housing Show. Part of what being a Lifestylist is all about is experiencing life to the fullest, and even though I went to view housing trends, when I saw that bus with Paula Deen's face on it beckoning me to the casino and her signature buffet, how could I say no?
The show and Ms. Deen's buffet are both housed at Harrah's  Tunica. I had stayed there in the past when it was The Grand Casino and let me just say the buffet was anything but grand, to the point that it may have been some of the worst food I have ever had. But love Paula, love her show, so decided I'd give it a go.
I went for lunch, and honestly I thought it was a great value. I think it was about $14.99, and I would have been happy if they just would have brought me up a sleeping bag and I just stayed there for a few weeks. I next to never do buffets because I don't like feeling like I have to over-eat to get my money's worth, and usually the food isn't that great quality. That was not the case here. I knew I was going to have to stay to bite sized portions if I was going to make my way to every station, but from the salads on everything was sooooo good I could have just eaten that! I'm very picky about fresh, and everything seemed super fresh and almost made to order. I wanted to try things that were Paula's signature dishes and they were even better than I had hoped. The cheese biscuits and hoe cakes were out of this world! And the Mac and Cheese.... I've had some great Mac and Cheese but this was one of the best.
There was an entire seafood selection that had mounds of shrimp, oysters and fried goodies, The Lady and Sons station had wonderful southern specialties including yams, fried green tomatoes, ham and fried chicken. And THEN there was a BBQ station and of course dessert. Had to try the Gooey Butter Cake and it lived up to it's name and reputation, but my favorite desserts were the peach cobbler and bread pudding. The only shortcomings for me were the fried pickles and the fact that they had Kool Whip for the dessert items! I didn't realize it wasn't whipped cram until I tasted it and it ruined the experience.
The Paula Deen brand was visible everywhere, and it should have been. Loved how they had recipe cards at some of the different stations so you could make some of the various things you tried at home, and while you were waiting there was a Paula Deen Gift Shop.
The restaurant was beautiful and definitely had Paula's southern charm and a very welcome feel to it. I loved every minute (and calorie) that I spent here, and may have to plan a trip back just so I can do it all over again! If you want to make a weekend out of the journey the casino also offers "Paula Deen Suites" that would complete the experience.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Best Buy Case Study: How to Lose Customers and Referrals for Life

Just when you think you've heard and seen the worst customer experiences that you could possibly imagine, a company and it's representatives prove you wrong. I have written before about my disappointment with how I was treated at Best Buy, but that was nothing compared to what they put me through today.
I have just returned from a full week of travels where I met with great clients, got to work on fantastic projects and attended the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show. Today I spent the morning working with Champion Homes of Texas and one of their retailers. Champion understands what customer service is all about, and that's why I love working with them. They understand if the client is successful we will all succeed, and we are all in this journey together. I got to help put together a new model home that is going to be incredible, and also got great feedback as well. Be sure to stop by at Trinity Homes in Abilene and see our beautiful new home!
While I was in Tunica I had heard from Best Buy corporate. They apologized for all of the confusion and promised to call the store where I purchased my projector and have them resolve the issue. I was feeling good about things and thought Ryan handled the issue and my concerns well.
Then I made the mistake of ruining a perfectly good day by going up to the store to change out projectors. I thought it was only going to take a few minutes so I was going to call in my dinner order before I went in - fortunately the person that was with me wasn't as optimistic and she was right. We went to wait in the return line - there were two people in front of us. After standing there for about 5 minutes I asked the other people in line if anyone had been working there and they told me the woman who was working there walked away when they got into the line. I walked to the front of the store and asked if anyone could help us and he told me that three people were working in that area and I needed to just "go back in line and wait my turn".We gave up and ended up sitting on the floor - Tunisha who had left before I guess finally got the hint. Guess what - they had nothing in the system about my issues, and the manager said that no one from corporate had called about my issues and they couldn't do anything. I had Ryan's phone number with me and they called - not there. Then they informed me that what was on my receipt wasn't what I was bringing back, and the projector I brought back only sold for $349.00 and my receipt was for $649.00 so it couldn't possibly be what they sold me.
But wait! It gets even better. James the manager (who said that no one up there had talked to Ryan) calls corporate and puts me on the phone with Katie who was in Ryan's department. She informs me that it's impossible for what I bought to have been rung up wrong, I didn't buy the projector there and pretty much called me a liar. So now I have a 7 month old product that doesn't work that I paid for an extended warranty for that they won't honor. I wasn't sure what made me angrier - finding out I paid $876.00 for something that they said should have cost $349.00 or being called a liar.
So I come home, look up the suggested retail on what I have and it's actually $699.00 not $349.00. So sucker for punishment I am I call the Best Buy store. When I press 3 for sales help, no one answered the 2 times I tried so I called back on the Geek Squad line and got James. I told him the pricing he had for my machine was incorrect that it matched what was on my receipt, and he said that couldn't be right because their system showed it at $349.00. Trust me, there is pretty much no such thing as a $349.00 home theater projector, especially made by Epson. So the system that is never wrong was wrong, but Best Buy refused to even entertain this notion.

The moral of this story? The person with me found something she really wanted and was in line to buy it, and I told her that she would be walking home if she spent a dime there. I purchase a lot of electronics for my clients homes plus our Lifestylist® Designed recommends products for the home. You know that I will be very clear where anyone who asks should not make their purchases.
Then we have the other end of the spectrum where companies like Champion treat their clients how they like to be treated and respected. I had a million things to do today, but when Champion asked me to come and meet with their client I did because I appreciate their business and I want them to succeed. I will always be referring Champion Homes of Texas, Youngs Manufactured Homes in Hobbs, NM and Trinity Homes because I know that whomever I refer to them will be treated with respect, and they will get a great value for their money.

I would love to hear your customer stories - good and bad - and I'll share the best ones here. And if anyone would like a great deal on a projector that doesn't work, give me a call :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Forward With Your Home Design

The start of daylight savings is the perfect time for your home to "spring forward" with lighter accessories, accents and even window treatments. Slip covers for furniture and accent pillows are an easy way to change the look and mood of a space. Use a duvet on your bed and get a lighter color and fabric for the warmer months, and a darker, dramatic color for those cooler fall and winter days. These are easy to change out and store, and you'll feel like you are living in a new space!
Pottery Barn and West Elm always have great covers for pillows, and they are often on sale. They are sold with or without the pillow insert so when you aren't using them they don't take up a lot of space. I am also big on having my dining table set, and a pretty spring arrangement and fun napkins, placemats and plates can really put you in the mood.