Monday, January 19, 2015

Audrey Grace & Co.

Attention everyone who shops for tiny, stylish humans of the girly variety.   My friend Nadine just launched her new children's line!  She's incredibly talented and it's been so cool for me to be a part of this exciting process.  Check out the press release and lookbook:

Local Designer Launches Children’s Clothing Line 

St. Paul, Minnesota (January 16, 2015) – St. Paul native Nadine Ryther has expanded her custom clothing creations, launching a new Children’s line named for her two daughters, Audrey Faith and Meredith Grace. Her new company, Audrey Grace & Co., specializes in unique clothes and accessories for adventurous girls.

Ryther’s love for sewing and custom design started in high school, where she made mostly special occasion garments for herself and friends. She excelled at her craft through those years, and the decision to sell her wares was largely influenced by her friends, who weren’t satisfied with ‘off the rack’ choices.

Children’s clothing wasn’t on Ryther’s mind at first. After the birth of her daughter in 2006, she found a new passion in making clothing as happy, fun and adventurous as her own girls, without sacrificing their active personalities. “I didn’t want them to look like ‘mini-grownups’,” Ryther said. “I like that they are girly, but still want to jump on the furniture.”

 Ryther wanted to start her business for the past several years. “The timing just wasn’t right,” she explained. “The kids are a little older now. My husband Scott and I realized that it’s time for this new venture. We can finally move forward with our dream.”

Audrey (age 8) and Meredith (age 3) provide Ryther with much inspiration, and also double as her clothing models. Audrey Grace & Co. is “clever clothes for happy, sassy girls”.

The local community is also foremost on Ryther’s mind. She’s chosen to launch her first line at Teeny Bee Boutique on Selby and Snelling in St. Paul. “I like that they are local. I was raised here, I’m raising my family here, and now I’m building a business here,” she said.

The full line (sizes Newborn-5T) can be found at Teeny Bee Boutique at 1560 Selby Ave. in St. Paul, MN. Shop hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Instagram: audreygraceco

Friday, January 16, 2015

Vinyl of the Month: The Best of Andrae' Crouch & the Disciples

I didn't know that turntables were actually making a comeback.  My obsession began with Kiera Knightly's character in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.  Then was further solidified watching Almost Famous.  Several times, I talked myself out of the seemingly ridiculous notion of owning a record player.  The drawback simply being that I didn't own any records.

And then there was Taylor Swift's speech at the AMA's.  "To the fans who went out and bought over a million copies of my last 3 albums - what you did by going out and investing in music and albums is you're saying you believe in the same thing that I believe in, that music is valuable and that music should be consumed in albums and albums should be consumed as art and appreciated..."

Damn you, Taylor Swift, for how obnoxiously perfect (and right) you are.

I love music.  But the last time I purchased an album?  Long time.  Mainly because there's something about the digital medium that just doesn't do it for me.  I never have enough space on my phone for music.  In the car, I listen to the radio or old CDs.  I've been a lazy music lover and it was time for that to change.  I could get excited about records.

Christmas Day, guess what my in-laws had under the tree for me?  The cutest, lime green, portable record player!  And with that, an invitation to raid their old box of records to get my vinyl collection started.  Steve helped me pick out some good ones.  I hope to share one new (or old) record with you here every month.

Buy it on iTunes or find it on Vinyl
One of the gems we dug out of the basement was The Best of Andrae' Crouch & the Disciples.   This great man of gospel music passed away on January 8 this year.  There would be no better choice for my Vinyl of the Month.  One of my favorite church songs of all time is My Tribute (To God be the Glory).  I had no idea so many other great, familiar songs belonged to Andrae' Crouch.  The ones I grew up with in my music-centric, charismatic, inner-city church - like Soon and Very Soon - didn't surprise me.  It's the songs from my yuppy-conservative, Christian private school - like Jesus is the Answer - that made me realize the extent of his influence.  Andrae' Crouch blurred lines between urban gospel and contemporary Christian genres.  He crossed barriers between black and white artists, and between religious and secular worlds.  I think that's awesome.  Long live his legacy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hustle Reserves

Shirt: Levi's,  Sweater: thrifted,  Vest: Wilson's Leather
Skirt: Forever 21,  Boots: c/o Crocs

Just after I announce to the world that my word for 2015 is 'hustle', I fall into a serious bout of laziness.  I may be subconsciously reserving all hustle until after my winter vacation, which starts a week from tomorrow.  This year, we're cruising on Royal Caribbean.  After the mess on last year's Princess Cruise, we thought we'd try again with a different cruise line - Belize, here we come!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Serenity Prayer Project

Hi!  Welcome to 2015.  It's going to be a good one.  Yes, I say that every year.

Last summer, Hungry Pug Studios was hired to produce a music video for the Serenity Prayer Project.  I'm honored to have been a part of it, singing with some of the sweetest people and voices that I know.  It went live on YouTube a few days ago.  Check it out and share it with your world.

"These words, taken from the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, were first shared with me by my grandfather.  I have always felt that they are incredibly far-reaching and can not only bring peace to those with chemical addictions, but also to those who have experienced loneliness, depression, food disorders, mental illness, physical illness, financial difficulty, discrimination, oppression, and all forms of abuse."   - Lori Werch

Monday, December 29, 2014

For the Locals: Brow Chic

Female facial hair - it's a thing.  I cannot continue with this subject without sharing the words of lyrical genius Larry the Cucumber in his delightful rendition of "Love My Lips":

On the day I got my tooth
I had to kiss my Great Aunt Ruth
She had a beard
And it felt weird

Bravo, Larry.  You and your adorable tooth.


Sometime around 8th grade I realized I was rockin' a girly unibrow and began experimenting with tweezers.  As enjoyable as it is to yank well-rooted hairs from the delicate skin around my eyes, my attempt at regular upkeep has been inconsistent over the years. 

I was recently invited to experience a series of services at Brow Chic where I met Tessa and Syreeta, who kindly destroyed my casual attitude toward facial grooming.  Even though I had never done anything like this before, I felt comfortable with these ladies right away.

The scene at Brow Chic in Northeast Minneapolis is immaculate and minimalistic without sacrificing coziness.  I was led over to a well-lit bed, where I was able to relax and chat with Tessa as she worked her magic on my face.  My first brow wax ever could not have gone any better.  I expected a bit of pain, but Tessa was so fast and kept me distracted with enough conversation that I hardly noticed what was happening.

I love prominent brows.  Tessa shaped mine to perfection, then applied a tint to make them even bolder.  She was extra awesome to send me home with brow powder and a brush so I can maintain this look for as long as possible before my next appointment.

With time to spare, she generously offered a lash tint as well.  I'm so glad she did, because I will most definitely be back for this before my cruise vacation next month.  My lashes are naturally very light and this makes the greatest difference when I can't be bothered with mascara.  Even Steve noticed my darker lashes!

Next, I met with Syreeta for a make-up application.  The Ellis Faas products used at Brow Chic are the niftiest looking contraptions, designed after bullet casings.  Being that I don't normally wear a lot of make up and this was a day look,  Syreeta kept it light and natural but amped it up with a bold lip.   The lipstick was my favorite thing.  It was included in my goodie bag and I've used it numerous times since then.

Nothing drastic about this little make-over, just some special treatment to make me feel fresh and new.  Brow Chic's St. Paul location is conveniently located near Teeny Bee, so I'll be heading there for my next lash tint.  No doubt my experience will be just as great as it was in Northeast.  I'm making a commitment in 2015 to hand my face over to the professionals at Brow Chic when I'm feeling a little dull.

Before or after a visit to Brow Chic NE, take a stroll through the interior of the building.  945 Broadway is loaded with charm.  Enjoy the quirky, modern art randomly featured around the facility.  Wave hello to the friendly stylists at Stellar Hair Company.  Depending on time and day, grab a beer and/or tour 612 Brew.

A stop at the beautiful Spyhouse Coffee is an absolute must.  It's the ultimate hipster gathering.  There will likely be a bearded 20-something dude at the counter decked out in red buffalo plaid and thick-rimmed glasses.  If you're lucky enough to get the cute, blonde barista behind the counter (rocking the most covetable ringlet curls), she'll suggest a tasty sandwich to go with your cup of joe.  Trust her, it's delicious.

***disclaimer:  I received free product and services from Brow Chic for this review.  This post reflects my honest opinion of what I received.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Confessions of a Shop Assistant

Where I stand.

It wasn't a single incident that inspired this post, but the common occurrences that come up as an employee of two local boutiques.  I'm a consumer like everyone else, so I understand that point of view entirely.  But I think there may be misconceptions while shopping small business retail.  It is not (and shouldn't be) like going into a chain or department store.  Here are just a few truths from where I stand:

1.  I'm not being friendly just so you'll buy something.  I'm just friendly - period.   It can be awkward to shop in a small space without at least a little conversation, so humor me for a second.  I don't make commission, so there's no alternate agenda here.  Relax knowing that I simply want you to have a good experience.  Even if you don't buy anything, I hope you'll tell your friends or write a nice review.  At the very least, I hope you come back (unless you're a meanie).

2.  I rejoice over every purchase.  If a $4 hair bow goes out the door, I'm happy.  Even small purchases make me feel like I'm doing my job.  It all adds up.  At the end of the day, I report to the owner with numbers because numbers (black ones) are what pay my check and make a successful business.  THANK YOU for shopping, no matter how small.

3.  I'm aware that "it's' expensive".  If you're looking for a bargain, there's a Target right up the road.  We carry a limited quantity of specialty items.  Some things you would not be able to find anywhere else in the world.  I believe there's value in that.  You know how much I LOVE DEALS.  However, I realize that small businesses can't offer 50% off.  It's my job to support them, not rob them.  Which leads me to my next point...

4.  Nobody is getting rich here.  Just breaking even is a huge accomplishment.  That's 0% profit.  Our items may be more expensive, but they are also more costly for us at wholesale.  The markup on the knock-off you find at a chain retailer or online for 1/2 price is astronomically higher than our profit on the real, high-quality thing.  Let's say a small business gets something for $2 and sells it for $4. Target might get their version for $0.25 and sell it for $2.  They can discount it 75% and still make money.  #math

5.  Your returns suck.  Not exchanges or in-store credit, returns.  Even if I wasn't the one to help you with your initial purchase, it feels a lot like failure.  Don't get me wrong, I understand returns.  Buyers remorse is a powerful thing.  Sometimes you bring stuff home and it just doesn't look/feel/fit/perform how you anticipated.  Returns happen, but they still hurt.  And P.S.,  I can tell the difference between a defective item and something you ruined. IF I take it back, it's for the sake of superior costumer service, not because I'm fooled.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Jewelry: Sisu,  Shirt: Hot Mama,  Sweater: too old to remember
Vest: Fashionologie,  Skirt: Forever 21,  Boots: Frye via Amazon

Hey there.  I have a long list of things to accomplish today. This is where I get distracted by Facebook, 72 (and counting) unopened emails, and a few questionable blog post ideas that keep spinning around in my head.

To the focus gods, I offer this outfit.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Say "Cheese"!

What is happening here?  Has our family hijacked a school yearbook photo session?  Is Grace Place updating their church directory to include furbabies?  All very good guesses, but no.

I'm helping a friend market her children's clothing line, Audrey Grace & Co.  Naturally, I agreed to host the photo shoot at my house without a clue as to how to pull it off.  Sometimes, my make it work mentality gets me into trouble.  After much deliberation with the man of the house, it dawned on him that we had this backdrop.  Right!?  I swear the dude can just pull crap out of thin air.  It only fosters my poor planning habits - muahahahaha. 

While it's up, I'm totally going to use it for outfit photos...or maybe indefinitely.  It think it's strangely awesome.  And now Daisy thinks she's a model.  That's my girl.

Sweater: H&M (men's),  Skirt: thrifted,  Shoes: Connie via Famous Footwear
Dog: Ollie the Pug

I can't NOT mention this sweater.  Thanks to my pal, Mari, for bringing it to my attention.  It makes my Christmas season so much merrier and brighter and puglier.

Daisy the Pug

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Like a Dude

Hat: WalMart?,  Plaid: JCPenny,  Sweater:  RDStyle
Pants: Dex via Sisu,  Shoes: Kohl's

Yep.  More pre-snow outfitting.  Fun facts about this outfit:

1 - Hats at WalMart are like, $2.  They don't even have to be cute.  I'll take 8.

2 - This plaid shirt perpetually smells like cilantro, no matter how many times I wash it.  It makes me really frickin' hungry for Chipotle.

3 - Open weave sweaters are a pug owners worst nightmare.  How this one has survived is beyond my comprehension.

4 - I can't get enough leather this year.  Real or 'vegan', I'm buying it up like there's a cow (or fake cow) shortage.  It's pug proof material (anti #3), and I really appreciate that.

5 - I'm technically wearing leggings here.  I justify wearing them as pants because they are completely opaque and I wear proper underwear with them.   In spite of my full support of this Pant vs. Legging Flowchart, I harbor no guilt whatsoever.

6 - I read a trend report more than a year ago that said wedge sneakers were going O.U.T.   Then I bought a pair just to be rebellious.  Still wearing and loving them.

7 - This was the morning I asked Steve if I was dressed too much like a dude.  It didn't matter what the answer was, I was simply curious.

Friday, November 28, 2014


This is Loki.  Sisu's new junior shopdog.  I did not get to take him home.

Ever since I scored this super cool canvas tote a few years back, I've kept a close eye on Will Leather Goods.  With the season of giving (and getting) upon us, Will has a really great gift idea for the kiddos on your list.

"The Give WILL® initiative supports students in underfunded public elementary schools across America, through in-kind donations and mentorship." 

"For every Give WILL backpack purchased, Will Leather Goods will donate that same bag to a child in need, believing everyone deserves a Bag To Carry Their Dreams."

Aren't these backpacks super sweet?  I want one.  No need to wrap these beauties in paper, just tie a bow on it and put it under the tree (maybe with a surprise or two inside *wink*).  Enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling knowing you did something awesome for a kid in need, too.

***Plus, now through November 30th, shop online to receive up to 25% your purchase.