Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from The Lifestylist® Brands. Here's hoping that your holidays is shiny and bright!

A Family Copes With Mental Illness

I can't believe I'm writing 2 days before Christmas about mental illness, but it's been proven that the holidays are one of the hardest times of the year for the mentally ill, and the families that have to deal with this disease every day.

Sandra Luckow is a brilliant film maker and teaches film making at Yale. But her life isn't a bed of roses - her brother was diagnosed as being schizophrenic years ago, and ever since Sandra has had to deal with his anger and illness. I've personally seen some of the videos he has sent her threatening her life, his life, and the lives of those around her.

My holiday wish is that you'll read Sandra's account of what she has gone through trying to work with the system to get her brother help, and by doing this protecting all of us. And please hug those you love even tighter this holiday and remember those who won't be able to do the same.

Getting Organized with On Hand™




Help! The holidays are right around the corner, and I know I've got holidays items stashed from last year that I don't want to buy again.
Getting and keeping organized is not one of the things I'm best at, but as a Lifestylist®  I'm always trying out new products and ideas to help me stay focused and de-cluttered. And I found one that is so brilliant I can't believe someone hadn't thought of it before - On Hand™ by ODL.
With houses getting smaller and square footage being at a premium, ODL came up with a great way to go vertical and use an area that you already have in your home -doors. On Hand™ fits into a flush door and can be used in a solid core or specially braced hollow core door. It makes use of both sides of the door - one side gains valuable storage space and the other side become a display and communication area. Everything is adjustable and can be customized for your lifestyle.
I love this product because I am able to get smaller items out of the "mystery drawers" and put them in a place where I can actually find them. It's the ultimate way to organize spices, my canning supplies, and all of those kitchen gadgets I can't live without.
The drawers and cabinets in my bathroom always become a black hole as well - On Hand™ made it easy to find all of my girly stuff that I have to keep buying because I don't know where it went, bath products and even makeup.
In the utility room it became the pet organizer where I was able to hang leashes, collars, treats and there other goodies where they were easy to find and keep together.
The other side become a message center where you can write to do lists or phone messages on the glass with a erasable marker, and put soccer and bulky trash schedules behind the glass to keep up with everyone's schedules. I'm thinking it might also be the perfect place to display all of the Christmas cards we get this year as well.
I'm in love with this product, and I can't stop thinking about all of the fun ways I could incorporate this into The Home Idea Factory. My clients are loving it as well, and Reidman Development will be one of the first builders to offer it to their customers in their new Hammocks at Canandaigua.
This is a brand new product, but can find more information on the ODL website or feel free to contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com and we'll be happy to help you find a place that you can purchase this in your area.

Bussinesses Supporting The Arts in Dallas

It's a great time to be a resident of Dallas, TX especially if you are a business owner. Not only is the cost of living 8% less than most United States cities, but we also have a mayor that appreciates the arts and the value they can bring to a city and it's residents.

The Business Council For The Arts recently presented their 2012 Obelisk Awards to a wonderful group of businesses and individuals that help the arts flourish in the North Texas area, and it was wonderful to see companies such as Capital One NorthPark Center, Half Price Books and others there to support this amazing organization.

Being a Lifestylist® is all about supporting the arts, and we were thrilled to be there to share this great event with you.

Is The Museum Tower in Dallas a Bad Neighbor?

One of the best things this Lifestylist® ever did was to buy  The Home Idea Factory. Not only do I have space to try out new ideas and to foster lots of rescue animals, but I'm also only a few miles from the Dallas Arts District. - This wonderful gem is tucked away in downtown Dallas and you can experience the best in the culinary arts, discover new artists or ones that you have always read about, and appreciate what Mother Earth has graced us with in the Nasher Gardens or at the new Klyde Warren Park.

When I was driving to one of my favorite events - 'Til Midnight at The Nasher - I was literally blinded while I was driving over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I'd heard about all of the controversy surrounding the new Museum Tower, but it wasn't until I seriously couldn't see while I was driving 45 miles an hour on a highway because of it did I realize how dangerous it is - not only to the Arts District but to motorists driving down the various highways beside it.

Not only is the Museum Tower getting a reputation for being a bad neighbor - it's going to kill someone.

Let's hope that The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund -owners of this $200 million dollar building do something about this issue before someone gets hurt.

The History of Manufactured Housing



There's nothing we love more than a positive story about factory built housing, and BobVila.com has a wonderful article about the history of factory built housing.  Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be interviewed and quoted in the story, and what is really exciting is that the author of the story - Jane Dagmi - was so intrigued about what this form of housing offers she's continuing to learn more and visit communities on her own. I'm looking forward to more of her stories in the future.
One of the things that has always been a detriment to our industry was the perception the press has, so having writers not only like our homes but also want to know more is a step in the right direction.
Be sure to also take a look at the timeline that Jane did -it's one of the best I've seen.

Does Time Warner Cable Appreciate Your Business?

Like a lot of people I’m sure, I get bombarded with junk snail and email from the cable company, Dish Companies, and the telephone company begging me to change my services to them.

Time Warner Cable has been especially aggressive, and after years of saying no and my Dish company wanting to charge me to fix equipment that I rent from them, I thought I’d give Time Warner a try. The sales person couldn’t have been nicer, and we set up an appointment that fit with this Lifestylist’s crazy schedule so I could be there and have them install all of the new goodies.

The day came, but the tech never did. I called after he missed my appointment and was told he was there but no one was home and that he left a note at the door. I was here – no call, no doorbell, no note so one of us was confused. The tech then took it upon himself to change my appointment from 8-10am to 8am – 9pm. Even though I was told more than once I would be his next appointment, no one ever showed up. Keep in mind that this is a company that I’ll be spending thousands of dollars with a year, and before it was over I spent over 10 hours being put on hold (yes, after awhile I started keeping track.).Bottom line – no supervisors ever followed up like I was told they would, the most they were willing to credit me for wasting my time was $15.00, and a week later I got an email rescheduling the appointment.Initially I had canceled all of the services I had with my former providers, but I called them and negotiated better rates (and my equipment being repaired for free) so even though I wasn’t happy with what I had, it seemed like the best of the worst.

Lesson learned? I never want any of my clients feeling like they are settling when I do something for them. Even if it’s just making sure that they know I appreciate their business – they work too hard to not get the best. I like to know that my business is valued, and I’m sure that my clients do as well.

Christmas in July for Shared Housing



I had a wonderful opportunity this week - I got to volunteer at Shared Housing.

I've been involved in lots of organizations where they just want you to give or raise money, but Shared Housing let's me work with the people I'm helping and make a difference.

Thursday I got to play with the kids while the Mom's learned about budgeting and parenting. And they are amazing kids - they all take care of each other and appreciate the smallest things. Shared Housing keeps a "toy room" where new toys are stored and used as incentives to the kids for good deeds or when it's their birthday. People tend to be very generous at Christmas time, but by July the toy room starts getting pretty sparse. I promised the staff that if they would let the kids get an unexpected trip to the toy room, the Lifestylist® team would get to work and re-stock the room with goodies that would help keep the room open for the rest of the year.

I always keep my promises, and I'm happy to report that I'm going to have a car load full of goodies for the room, and mew sheets blankets, and kitchen utensils for the Moms. And the best part is that they said I can come and play with the kids any time :)

Just the smallest things can make such a difference. We visited our local Dollar Store and the clearance aisles at our local stores and were able to make our budget go a long way.

Shared Housing is also getting ready for "School is Cool". They need to get school supplies and uniforms for 270 children that are active in the program. They believe that no child should have to start school  without the proper clothes or supplies -these kids have already gone through enough.

If you would like to help or to make a donation, visit the Shared Housing website or give them a call at: 214-821-8510

James Beard House to Feature Gaylord Texan Chef

Chef Joanne Bondy, Executive Chef at The Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Texan has been asked to host a special evening at The James Beard House for the third time. This Lifestylist® was honored to be able to help prep the last dinner in the James Beard kitchen, and then stay behind the scenes to capture the experience on film.

Chef Bondy treated member of the Gaylord Food and Wine Society along with other guests to a preview of what will be served at the October event recently, and this is definitely going to be a meal to remember. Palmaz wines will be featured and served with the dinner.

For information on how you can attend this very special event, contact the Gaylord Texan team at: 817-778-2210

ROC USA Helps to Make The American Dream Achievable

As a Lifestylist® I spend a lot of time tracking trends and listening to people's dreams and realities. One of the biggest dreams a person often has is a home of their own, and that dream comes in all shapes and sizes.
Land lease communities are a great way to own a home of your own on a budget, but a lot of potential homeowners are afraid of the fact that they don't own the land that their new home is sited on.
When I attended the recent MHI Congress and Expo I was introduced to Paul Bradley and the ROC USA team, and loved having the chance to speak with them and to learn more. ROC stands for Resident Owned Communities, and they help residents of land lease communities buy their communities and own a part of it. I was fascinated to learn that they are a non profit, and loved that the first thing that they do with their homeowners is to choose a new name for their community and start the re-branding process.
NPR and "All Things Considered" recently featured ROC USA on their broadcast, and you can see our interview with the ROC USA team on Lifestylist.com.

Modular Construction On The Rise

It seems like people are finally beginning to realize that factory built housing may be a better way to build - I've had two site builders ask me if the projects that we are working on might be more efficient if we do a modular build instead of the way they traditionally build. What's really great is these are both commercial projects - one is a clubhouse and one is transitional housing for 14 so I'm really proud of my clients for looking at all options. In fact, Champion Homes is doing quite a few commercial builds, including hotels for a major hotel company - I can't wait to see (and stay in) the finished buildings.
Many people have the misconception that using modular construction is very limiting - I'm always surprised with how many people think you can only do 1 story. In fact, all construction has some limitations, but with modular you can build multi story buildings just as you can with site built.
This beautiful home in Montana that was built by the EnergyMate division of Patriot Homes is an example of what can be accomplished using modular construction. It has a 2 story family room and rock fireplace in it -they just completed the fireplace on-site with rocks they found on the ranch.
Before you make a decision on who is going to be building your next home or building, you might contact one of the many fine modular builders that might be the right fit for you.
If you need recommendations on who might be a good fit for you, feel free to contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com and we'll be happy to share our list of qualified builders with you.

Savor Dallas 2012

It's time for Savor Dallas again! This annual celebration of food and wine takes place March 30-31,2012. Take a look at some of the wonderful photos taken by Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography and see why you need to join the Lifestylist® team at this wonderful event.

Forbes Article Reveals Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually



Who knew a 1" bulb could become such a great marketing and customer service lesson? After trying to deal with Best Buy for a month about a warranty issue I got so mad I gave up and discovered a wonderful locally owned shop that replaced my projector bulb and had me on my way in under 1/2 hour. You can read the long version of this saga on my Lifestylist® page -it still amazes me how I was treated by a company that should care more about it's customers than Best Buy seems to.

Then today when I was getting all of my facts checked I went to the Best Buy Facebook page so I could quote other unhappy customers, and one of them had linked to a Forbes article  about "Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually". They linked to a follow-up story that talked about how Best Buy handled different issues "The People Vs Best Buy Round Two" Sadly, it's nice to know I'm not the only one that feels this way and they have even given lousy customer service to Larry Downes, a professor and best selling author.

I'll never get back the time I've wasted on this, but I'm hoping that by sharing these experiences I can help my readers not make the same purchasing mistakes.

Hartford Insurance Doesn't Listen to it's Customers

One of the good and bad things about social media is that consumers now have a way to have their voice heard.

When Hartford Insurance decided to raise my rate by over $13,000 without notice or even an increase in benefits I immediately went to their Facebook page to see what other consumers thought of them.  It turns out I'm not alone - the stories of how they have treated other consumers is pretty chilling. The stock answer they post to everyone is "To protect the privacy of individuals, we do not respond to service questions on Facebook. We would like to know about your experience. Could you please contact our Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-451-6944? Thank you." When I contacted their "consumer affairs" team I found out they didn't care. I was told this ridiculous increase was because I'm an interior designer - who knew sketching and wielding a glue gun could be so hazardous?

Fortunately for me I found a great insurance company that took the time to understand my company and my needs, and not only did we get much more comprehensive insurance - it was also in line with what we had been paying.

I thought this was the end of story, but today I got my third notice from Hartford threatening to cancel my insurance! I guess the Consumer Affairs "team" didn't get the message when I said I was done with them.

The moral of this story? Insurance is too important of a decision to take lightly and only shop by price. It's critical that you find an agent who takes the time to understand your needs and will be there if you ever need them.

The Definition of a Lifestylist®



 

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is exactly what is a Lifestylist®, and what is unique about the Lifestylist® Lifestyle. The second most asked question is what makes me a Trailer Diva!

The Lifestylist philosophy is about "Life Celebrating Style". Our clients life and style is what dictates how a Lifestylist® works with you. My favorite example is I had a client in Phoenix, Arizona that was a major Phoenix Suns fan, and their team colors are orange and purple. The client wanted their entire home done in these colors. What they wanted is what they got, complete with a child’s room with a hardwood floor striped like a basketball court. They wanted to stylishly celebrate their interests and love of their home team and we did!

I just spoke to a friend who’s dog just dug up their entire garden and her daughter slammed the door on the neighbor’s hand - all in about 30 minutes time. Her needs and lifestyle are completely different from my son - no kids, no dogs, and lives in front of his computer. What my style is wouldn’t work well for either of them which is why I need to understand the client and what their “hot buttons” are. It’s takes extra time and sleuthing to achieve this - many times the client has trouble putting into words exactly what they are looking for but they know it when they see it. I take the responsibility very seriously - a person’s environment can truly change their lives in a positive or negative way. If someone is happy in their home their quality of life improves.

Next to being a mother, becoming a Lifestylist® is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to expanding the concept and what it offers in the years to come. - we will be launching a new food line this Spring!

Bridge-O-Rama is an Event For The People


There is nothing this Lifestylist® loves more than when a community comes together, and this weekend was a wonderful example of that. Dallas celebrated the opening of The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge - a beautiful example of functional art by having a weekend of activities including art exhibits, car shows, fun runs and parades. It also introduced visitors to some of the newest residents of West Dallas - The Workroom and Trinity Groves.
The Parade of Giants featured 15 giant puppets that were made by local groups and artisans and represented people who played a part in the history of the area. Many of the people who worked on the puppets were related to the people represented by the puppets, and it was really fun to hear stories about how these people had played a part in shaping the community and themselves.
Bridge-O-Rama is an event that I hope will continue - it was well managed and was truly an event for the people.

A Parade For The People



There is nothing this Lifestylist® loves more than when a community comes together, and this weekend was a wonderful example of that. Dallas celebrated the opening of The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge - a beautiful example of functional art by having a weekend of activities including art exhibits, car shows, fun runs and parades. It also introduced visitors to some of the newest residents of West Dallas - The Workroom and Trinity Groves.

The Parade of Giants featured 15 giant puppets that were made by local groups and artisans and represented people who played a part in the history of the area. Many of the people who worked on the puppets were related to the people represented by the puppets, and it was really fun to hear stories about how these people had played a part in shaping the community and themselves.

Bridge-O-Rama is an event that I hope will continue - it was well managed and was truly an event for the people.

 

Hartford Insurance Penalizes Designers

Just when you think you have heard it all - I received an over 500% increase on my insurance rate with Hartford Insurance even though I have never filed a claim and there was no increase to my benefits! What's next - they provide insurance to the AARP - are they going to consider aging a high risk proposition as well?

They want to increase my rate by over $10,000 for no reason other than they can. This is money that could be used to help the worthwhile non-profits we are involved in like Animal Rescue Corps , HomeAid and Genesis Womens Shelter.

I just spoke with Louise Dunne, Assistant Director of Business Compliance with Hartford. She did not want to go on record or have me use her name, but she said that "my business had performed well with them" and the problem wasn't me, it was that I'm classified as a designer. What she shared was really disappointing as far as how Hartford views the design community, and she made it clear that they don't really understand what our industry is about or what we do.

Lesson learned? Do business with an agent and an insurance company that you have a relationship with so they will take the time to understand you and your business. Saving a few dollars up front is not worth the headaches and frustration that can come with those savings down the road.

Mardi Gras Greetings



Daisy loves the Lifestylist® philosophy of Life Celebrating Style.  She is also open to any excuse to wear her favorite hats and attract attention.  Mardi Gras Greetings from Daisy the diva dog and the Lifestylist® family!

Mardi Gras Greetings

Daisy loves the Lifestylist® philosophy of Life Celebrating Style.  She is also open to any excuse to wear her favorite hats and attract attention.  Mardi Gras Greetings from Daisy the diva dog and the Lifestylist® family!

The International Builders Show Features Factory Built Homes by Palm Harbor

What a great, busy month this has been! This Lifestylist® has show houses to plan, new products to design and great conventions to attend... there just aren't enough hours in the day for all of the great opportunities that are ahead of us!
Last week I attended the International Builders Show in Orlando and after attending this convention for over 20 years I think this year was one of my favorites.
I am so proud to be a part of the National Association of Home Builders and to be involved in the modular side of home building. This was the year when I saw home builders really taking notice of what benefits factory built construction could offer them, and not only did we do a great job of talking about it - we also showed them.
There are meetings that go on before the Builders Show starts that help put in place best practices to promote and grow the housing industry. Councils cover various specialty groups, and I was impressed to see that Kevin Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing for Champion Homes was not only attending these meetings, he is also acting as Vice Chairman for the Building Systems Council. "The New Champion" is really showing their strength and commitment to the factory built housing industry, and not only are they active with NAHB, they are also becoming more active with the Manufactured Housing Institute. Kevin was a presenter in the NAHB News Conference "Industry Study: Characteristics of Modular Homes" and had great facts and figures about why consumers should consider buying a modular home.
Palm Harbor Homes presented three beautiful factory built homes in the Professional Builder Show Village showing a "Net Zero Eco-Home" that was a 399 sq. ft. park model, a modular duplex, and a modular luxury home. Tony Lucas the designer for Palm Harbor always does an outstanding job, but what he did with the Net Zero home really got people's attention. Tony added the architectural details on the exteriors that made you want to know and see more which is a lot of what you want a show home to do. It was interesting because another builder brought a home for the first time and it was in neutral colors and without much exterior interest, and many people (including myself) passed it by. I heard the home was beautiful inside, but only found that out after the show was over.
Builders were fascinated by the fact that the three homes were installed, furnished and decors added in 8 days. This was proof of one of the many benefits that factory built housing offers - time savings which results in cost savings. Will these homes result in sales for Palm Harbor? Ron Powell, President of Manufacturing for Palm Harbor Homes stated that "I haven't seen the statistics, but our internal feeling is that attendance at Show Village was better than last year. There were more attendees with solid projects in the immediate future. In the last few years, there were a lot of attendees trying to flesh-out ideas. This year, they've got land and are ready to go."
Besides having market driven homes at the show, I was also impressed to see Joe Stegmayer - the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cavco Industries, a director and officer of Fleetwood Homes, Inc.  and Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. ,and a director of Palm Harbor Villages, Inc working the show. How he has time to even attend something like this is amazing, and I said working not attending the show because every time I saw him he was helping a potential customer or answering questions. And in his "spare" time he is serving as the Chairman of the Board for The Manufactured Housing Institute. His hands on approach to the factory built housing industry is one of the reasons it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
One of the highlights of this year's show for me was getting to hear Ben Bernanke speak about the state of our economy and what's ahead for housing. More on that later, but to see more images from this year's International Builders Show, visit and "like" our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/lifestylelist. I took over 2,000 photographs and I'm anxious to share my favorites with you.