My NYC Closet

Hi everyone! This has been a busy week - I'm very much looking forward to the 3 day weekend. 

Thanks once again for all your support & kindness. My husband says he is going to take me away for the weekend to do something fun - he tells me I need to clear my mind & relax. I feel overwhelmed with work - in a good way though.
Speaking of work - our apartment is featured in the new issue of Style At Home magazine - it's the organization issue available in news stands all over Canada! Supposedly this issue will be available in new stands until next year, very cool! I have gotten many emails asking about our apartment here in the city & since the apartment is now featured in the magazine, showing you photos isn't a problem. Here we go!

So excited! Let me start with my wardrobe.

 I say "my" because only I use it (for the most part). Below is what was supposed to be 'our' bedroom closet. Even though it's bigger than most NYC standard closets - it wasn't going to fit all my things. 

It was certainly a challenge trying to find an apartment with good closet space here in the city. Living in Las Vegas & having a huge mini-boutique as a closet, was great.  Unfortunately, I had to give all that up to make it work here.

So, we thought it was best to go to IKEA & buy something relatively inexpensive and similar to what I had in LV. This time I chose a closet with doors & all white. This IKEA closet system is called PAX wardrobe, the doors are white BERGSBO.


I love the white wardrobe, it's so bright & pretty, but a far cry from the space I used to have - don't you think? Now, instead of in a closet, my wardrobe opens up to our bedroom. I can't say I love having doors on my closet, but I definitely LOVE the way the doors look!

oh chandelier, I miss you! 

In order to make things interesting, I decided to give these IKEA drawers a more hip look. I lined the inside of all the drawers in a leopard wallpaper.  The same wallpaper I used in LV wardrobe above.

Then I added my jewelry - neat huh? I love how much more interesting it makes it appear!  You can add any color or style of wallpaper - just as long as you don't glue it. I recommend using double sided tape, it should hold just fine.

My friends always point out the hardware - they tell me it makes the inexpensive IKEA wardrobe look high end. I'd agree. In fact many of them didn't even think it was IKEA! The brushed gold pulls are the same ones I used on the floating shelves here. The hardware can be purchased at myknobs.

images below by janis nicolay

I donated several items of clothing & handbags before I moved out here- I only kept the ones I knew I would use. Do you keep extra handbags & never use them?? 

I am trying NOT to do that anymore.

Check out the newest issue of Style At Home magazine where more of my apartment is featured as well a great organization tips! Next week I'll show you our living room! 

So, now you know how I made my IKEA wardrobe look CHIC.

cover image via decor happy

Have you had to downsize your wardrobe?
Let me know what you think of my NYC wardrobe.

Thanks to my husband for building the whole thing, he's amazing. Stay tuned!

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Food: Blackberry, Polenta & Chicken Salad

blackberry, polenta & chicken salad

Hi everyone, Hope you're having a nice week so far! It's Lauren from Perpetually Chic, dropping in today with a recipe I created to showcase my new favorite ingredient: Lavender. If you don't have lavender growing in your garden or available at your farmers' market, not to worry. You can find dried culinary lavender in the spice section at any good grocery store.

I know what you may be thinking--I love the scent of lavender in aromatherapy, soaps and candles, but in my food? Yes! When used in the right quantity, lavender lends an amazingly subtle (not overpowering at all) floral flavor to cocktails, lemonade, marinade and more. 

This salad combines grilled chicken and polenta with sweet blackberries and peaches--a good combo on its own, but really great with lavender weaved into the marinade and dressing. Read on for the details...

blackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken salad

Make it ahead tip: Marinate the chicken overnight to let the flavors soak in, and cook and refrigerate the polenta for up to a day until you're ready to grill. 

blackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken saladblackberry, polenta & chicken salad

Blackberry, Polenta & Chicken Salad with Lavender Vinaigrette:

For the Chicken Marinade
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lavender buds (I used fresh, but you can also substitute dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lavender buds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • Drizzle of lavender simple syrup, to taste
For the Salad
  • 2 marinated chicken breasts, grilled
  • 1 firm but ripe peach, diced
  • A dozen blackberries
  • Grilled polenta rounds
  • Leafy lettuce (I love red romaine)
  1. To make the marinade, combine all ingredients in a plastic bag. Score the chicken breasts, drop into the bag and submerge in marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. It's even better if you make it the day ahead and let the chicken sit overnight. 
  2. To make the polenta, bring three cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and slowly whisk in 1.5 cups of cornmeal. Keep whisking while the mixture thickens, just a few minutes. Spray a 9-inch pan and then pour the hot, thickened polenta into the pan. Let cool, about 30 minutes. (This can also be made ahead.)
  3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Preheat a grill, then grill the marinated chicken breasts. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes, then slice. 
  5. Cut the set polenta into pie slices or circles using a cookie cutter. Lightly brush each side with olive oil, then grill until hot and slightly charred, about 3 minutes per side.
  6. Create your salad by layering the lettuce, chicken, blackberries and peaches on a plate. Serve the polenta on the side, or cut it into bite-sized pieces and top directly on the salad. 
  7. Drizzle the lavender dressing over everything. I added a few lavender sprigs just for pretty presentation!

-photos & images by Lauren Craig

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Thank You

Hello everyone, 

Between all my work - I finally got to read every comment & email, I am so overwhelmed at God's power. It is through people like you that God shows his love. I'm amazed & overjoyed at all the orders coming in - which we will donate 100% of the proceeds to Women's Initiative. Thank you to all of you.

My friends told me to trust God & that he would stir the hearts of people who followed me online and that they would know my heart today.  I was moved with tears by many of your comments, but they were tears of joy & love. My heart even broke when I read that some of you were experiencing similar trials & were feeling down. I pray for those women today hoping they will shed their shame & hurt.

People will continue to call me names, lie about me & envy the new life I live today, but I don't care. I take responsibility for my past but I have been redeemed & TODAY my identity is in Jesus. I look to him & he gives me strength. For those of you experiencing something similar, something painful, something ugly, something challenging, you aren't alone.... God is always with you. 

Thank You.

video: hillsong united - 'hosanna' - sung by brooke fraser

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The Truth about becoming Free

Today I wanted to share something that's been on my heart for a while. I'm telling you this so that the truth can be known instead of a twisted version of it. This is straight from the original source: me, the person who lived it.

My life isn't perfect. For the last several years, I've been a designer & an artist. In the past, I worked as a nude model. It was my job at one point, several years ago. 

Have you passed out yet? NO? Ok, keep reading.

In my earlier years, my life as a young girl was a happy one; I'm NOT a victim of abuse or a sad home life--in fact, I had a great family and still do! I've always been a straight-A student. I've never done drugs and never cared for alcohol much, but, I got caught up in a bad decision. I'm not going to justify it. It wasn't an easy thing to do--but at the time, it meant that I would eat, have a place to live and go to school--all on my own dime. My parents are not well off and were never able to help me financially, which in turn put a burden on me to support myself entirely. I had no role model, never experienced any abuse, just a longing desire to do something with my life, and I knew I needed money to get to that point. So, I posed nude to make money. More importantly, I quit after a short while because deep down I felt convicted. I started to feel unimportant and not valued.

The point is, I made a bad decision, and I'm aware of it. If I could turn back time, I would. However, I can't beat myself up, and I refuse to continue to feel shame. The reason is because I think back to what Jesus did for me, for us. He died for all the wrong decisions I made in my life and will make. But if I continue to live in hurt and shame, that would mean he died in vain. A story that resonates with me is the story of Jesus and the immoral woman found in Luke 7:36-50 where Jesus says to the woman: "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

What Jesus said to that woman is what I feel now: at peace. This letter to all of you was the last bit of darkness I needed to reveal in order to be set free. It's interesting that the few people who tried to "expose" my PAST will now have nothing to talk about. I'm no longer going to feel shame for something I am NO LONGER DOING. God has blessed me with a tremendous amount of love, support, a wonderful Christian church here in NYC and a great business. That is why I continue to lift up his name.

From "SHE" by Kobi Yamada
I hope that women out there who are struggling with money, feeling devalued or lacking hope, can read this and be inspired. Women, who are working as models or in any industry that is looked down upon, should know that they are smart and capable and that God has a purpose for their lives, too. You don't need to feel hopeless or continue to feel shame.

For those people who have tried to taunt me through threats of exposure, you cannot touch me.

"Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now." (Genesis 50:20)

For the last few years, I've been living God's purpose for my life. I have NO intention of ever going back to modeling, because today I live for Christ--everything else I've let go. Some of you may be shocked, some of you may not care, some of you may relate and some of you may understand that none of us is perfect and that we all make mistakes and bad decisions. The only difference is my bad decisions were made public, therefore,  I also decided to make my truth public. I feel God pressing me to do this now, and I know this is his way of taking the evil intentions and turning it into good. I always knew that I would have to talk about this; I just needed to be ready and strong. Today, I feel that strength which I know comes from Him.

If anyone is truly affected by this and feels the need to discontinue their online friendship with me, you are free to do so. If you are 'not satisfied' with my testimony about my past, then you are free to never visit my blog/site again.  Labeling me or calling me names - is not my problem, but yours.  I have moved past this and hopefully you will respect the situation and do the same.  I will let my current work (MadeByGirl) speak for itself.

When I look at past provocative images of me,  I know it’s me, but I don't feel a connection to that "past" anymore. This scripture explains it quite well, when Jesus said "Behold, I make all things new." (Revelations 21:5)

I'm a new person. My intention is to continue to create a strong impression on women; a positive effect. A friend told me yesterday "Let God finish the masterpiece that he started." So I am.

In light of all this, and to focus on the good, I would like to offer 20% off on MadeByGirl products for the next **3 days*. 100% of the profit for all 3 days, will go to both Children's Cup - an organization serving the needs of the poor children in Africa offering opportunity for them to go to school + more & Women’s Initiative - an organization empowering and assisting low-income women to become financially independent. Just use the coupon code FREEDOM at checkout. Thank you.

* MadeByGirl products only, accessories and products from other designers are not included, sorry.
* expires aug 30th, 2012

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Waterstone Succulents = Genius

I remember the first time I bought succulents for my patio area - back when we lived in Las Vegas. They looked amazing - but needless to say they didn't last.  I realized quickly I just DON'T HAVE A GREEN THUMB!! We all know someone who has a green thumb, and secretly wish our plants could look like theirs. I recall that feeling & trying my hardest to make it happen, but again, fail. 

That's where Waterstone Succulents comes in - these are modern succulent sculptures that will NOT die! They also make for great centerpieces at home & even in weddings! I'm dying for one of the gold ones, I can see placing it on a tray next to my jewelry. 

If you're feeling a bit more daring, designer & creator Michelle Weddle also makes them in hot pink! Are you thinking the same as me? Where were these when I got married?? 

Which one do you like best?? Can you see yourself using this versus a real succulent in your home??

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Design: Bar Cart Obsessed

Hello everyone! It's Katie again, from H2 Design. I've been a bit obsessed with bar carts lately. They are quite functional and can add so much charm to even the tiniest of spaces. I am actually thinking of using one as an entry console. Who says they can only hold liquor? (Don't get me wrong... liquor works too!)

Lucky for us, there are many stylish options available these days. I've collected my top 7 for you to ponder. Number 4 might just be the coolest bar cart I have ever set my eyes on, but alas, it's out of my budget. Sigh...
4 / Pieces
7 / Zinc Door

-post by katie hackworth

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Camo Gear on Birthday

I realized that as we get older some things don't matter as much. These days the most important things to me are my family & my faith. So, even if turning 39 (last week) wasn't the best news, it's nice to know (this year) I'm having 3 celebrations. 

I've already celebrated a few days ago - on my b-day with my sweet husband where he cooked up a nice meal for us + dessert! Today I'll be celebrating with my family + it's also my mom's birthday! Last but not least - this Friday I'll celebrate with my wonderful friends from church, all whom I cherish so much. It's a bit of a surprise party for me, meaning my guy is planning most of it, all he asked me to do was PLAN MY OUTFIT.

So, here it goes. Like many of you ladies, I LOVE fashion. 

One trend in particular I've been spotting is the ARMY & camouflage look. From tops, to jackets, to shoes, to even clutches. This trend is all about mixing up the camo gear with bright NEONS, gold accessories or just wearing it casually.  I'm really loving this look above, it's now the INSPIRATION for my B-day outfit this Friday! 

So far, I've got the pants from Zara, the gorgeous Brickel handbag from Alexandra Satine, the heels from Vera Wang & of course the jewelry from my own shop, MadeByGirl.

(image above jen ramos)

These are the camo pants I bought here at Zara - aren't they cute?!?? They fit really well too, although I found they run a bit small. I'm normally a size 4 - but had to get a size 6.

(image by jen ramos)

The jewelry is mostly from my shop. The cross bracelet I wear almost everyday. However the 'Jesus' bracelet is a piece I had a local street vendor make for me, it's also a favorite of mine! 

 (images by jen ramos)

The Alexandra Satine Brickel handbag. This bag is AWESOME! From looking at it you wouldn't guess, but it is a convertible handbag. You're like, "what is she talking about???" - Well, I'll just quote from Alexandra's site.

"It is Stylish yet practical by removing the bottom portion to be used as an over the shoulder bag. The tote comes with inside pockets while the bottom portion once turned into a bag has a top zipper, inside pockets and a front slip pocket. Comes with removable and adjustable chain." 

 (image by jen ramos)

The Vera Wang heels are my fave part of this outfit. I've been wanting a pair of cuff heels & finally got these.

(image above by jen ramos)

Now, I'm off to find an interesting shirt to complete the look! Do you dress up for your birthday? What did you wear??

-images from top to bottom: 

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DIY: Pouf Pin

Hello everyone! It's Anna here, and today I'm sharing a simple project that will add a soft, feminine and playful element to your outfit: a pouf pin. If you're not into complex DIY projects, this is perfect! First off, you'll need your pouf material, scissors, and a large safety pin. Your pouf material can be whatever you want it to be… mine will be made of hot pink tulle.

I folded my tulle back and forth, making about 8 inch folds. 

I then cut slits in the shape of V's in the center of my tulle. 

I knotted a separate strip of tulle around the bundle and through the V's. 

Keeping my knotted pieces separate, I trimmed the edges back so that there were no loops and each piece was the same length. I prefer to cut my edges in a zig zag. This gives the pouf more of a flower look and simulates the shape of petals. 

Separate, twist and fluff. 

Take the knotted pieces and tie them around the back side of a safety pin. 

Pin and wear.

 -images and post by ann weaver

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