Basics Worth Falling For~

*photo credit H&M

Autumn is quickly approaching and I have been making my mental list of a few, key pieces to mix with what I already own. Solid quality at a decent price is my motto. I try to shop locally and love vintage. I check in at our local boutiques first and to curb my addiction to all things unique,  I love Voodoo Couture Vintage’s website seen here .    I suggest making a note of the pieces below that appeal to you and follow my lead.  If you don’t have any luck, I have noted the shop where my inspiration items were found. 

1.) Faux snake-skin is the new leopard which was the new black.  Look for it in unexpected colors on shoes, dresses and bags. Banana Republic

2.) Metallic, Structured Bags add shimmer to an otherwise conservative background of fall neutrals.  LLBean.

3.) Dresses in Jade Green.  This is the color for fall going into winter and will make you stand out in the waves of LBDs.  Topshop

4.) Polka Dots are replacing stripes this season.  But be careful with going overboard.  You may want to keep it simple and add a polka-dotted scarf or just wear a blouse in this print.  Marc Jacob’s runway.

5.) Flared-Leg Trouser Jean.  I love my high-waisted pair by JBrand, I bought from Lauren at Vault Denim.  Top with a light-colored blouse and a thin, bright belt(like the one above). Nordstrom

6.)  I’ve always held a special place in my heart for ankle-strap heels.  They are so classically, feminine.  These by Chloe are extra-amazing due to that Lucite heel.

If you have any questions about any of the above or need help with shopping locally~please email me


The Botox Experiement

As some of you know, I am saying goodbye to my 30’s this weekend.  They have been great but it’s time to move on to bigger and better things, right?  I am very thankful to be healthy and alive.  But, as I’ve said before~being a woman and aging are not easy. A few weeks ago, my amazing hairdresser, Jannae Ethier from Michael Kelly Salon and Spa was kind enough to inform me about an event they were hosting-that just so happened to take place the week before my 40th bday.  25 units of FREE Botox were being offered to those Botox virgins or in my case, those that hadn’t had it in a few years!  I wasn’t sure how much 25 units of Botox would cover or if there was a catch to this event, but because I love and trust Jannae with my most prized physical feature(my hair) and the fact the timing could not have been better, I signed up.  I had dabbled in Botox years ago and wasn’t too impressed with the results(maybe because I didn’t really “need” it at the time).

I walked into MK’s dayspa and was greeted by an exotically, beautiful woman who handed me a clipboard and a pen.  I answered all the typical questions-address, allergies, are you pregnant.  Once, I was done Dr. Gorodisky from Channel Islands Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery appeared and went over some details of the procedure.  It is virtually painless, it is the #1 cosmetic procedure in the U.S. and the results last 4-6 months.  After a few crackers and cheese, I was called back to the exam room where he answered more questions and explained he would be injecting me in my forehead only.  I told him, I was interested in minimizing my laugh lines(around my eyes).  He explained an additional 25 units would be all I needed to cover that at $10/per unit.  That sounded great, but I decided to stay with my free treatment and wait to see how that worked, before booking my next one.  He made about 10 injections in my forehead and I was out of there within 5 mins.  There was no pain and I can’t wait to see the results in 5-10 days.  I will let you know, what I think. And I may even post a before and after picture, too.

Do you get Botox or any other easy cosmetic procedure? What are your thoughts?

**photo courtesy of

Talia Wunder~Local. Support. Entrepreneur.

I met Talia when I opened Bludress Boutique in Santa Paula.  She had just started her handmade jewelry business, Devone Design.  Each piece is created with unique gems/beads and constructed by Talia, herself.   I immediately fell in love with her designs and we became quick friends. Now, she is know as a local artist’s best friend.  Her shop supports and promoted all things made locally here in Ventura County.  Read on to find out more..

Hi Talia, Would you share your back story with us?

Hmmm, where to start? Basically, ever since I can remember, I wanted to have my own business.  My parents had their own company, and even though I saw them struggle at times and understood the incredible effort it takes to have a small business, this is still want I wanted.  At age 18, while living in WA state, I
got my wish when I borrowed a down payment from my parents and bought a 4-unit apartment building.  I expanded my real estate ‘empire’ to include a duplex and three additional houses over the next few years, while I finished my degree in Biology with the hopes of being able to work with animals.  My dream was to study large cats in their own environment.  However, these jobs paid less than what I was already making as a bookkeeper, and even less than what my yearly college tuition was.  Instead, I continued to work full-time as a bookkeeper, with my apartments as a nice side business.  Things were good, but not what I truly wanted when I decided to move to CA 13 years ago.  Even though this decision was one of the best in my life, it also was a tremendous struggle to restart in a new state.  The management company I hired for my apartments and houses was less than satisfactory, I soon had soaring vacancy rates, and after two years, I had to sell or lose all my properties. Around this same time, my mom had open-heart surgery, and I agreed to move back to WA permanently to help her with her recovery.  I remember the first two weeks I was back I couldn’t stop crying, as much as I love my parents, I didn’t want to be in WA.  After 6 months helping my mom, I was out of money and knew in my heart that CA was the place for me.  I packed up my little pickup and drove back to CA with gas money for the trip and $70 to spare.  I continued to work as a bookkeeper, and also had started another small side business with a multi-level marketing company.  I met some wonderful people during my time with this company, however, it financially ruined me, and also contributed to me breaking off my engagement to my then fiancé, and led to a nasty ‘divorce’ over splitting up our household, even though we weren’t married.  Once again I was out of money and I moved, this time from Santa Barbara to Camarillo.  That was five years ago, and I met my husband-to-be that Christmas.  Fast forward a couple of years, and I was happy with my life, my husband and our furry kids, but I still felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I kept on going back to my original dream of owning my own business, but what could I do?????  After a lot of soul-searching and research, I started Devone Design Jewelry in 2009 while continuing to work full-time.  I had been designing and making semi-precious and just fun jewelry for years, and also had worked in fine jewelry, so I felt it was the best choice I could make at that time.  After the 6 months, I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do to market and expand my business, so I took the WEV Self-Employment Training course.  I think every small business owner should be required to take this BEFORE they open their doors!  It was so eye-opening, even though I had businesses before and I had been a bookkeeper for 20 or so years at that point.  Then, in 2010, I lost my full-time job and was not able to find a new job.  This put the pressure on my business – how do I expand it so that it can replace my full-time income?  Several months later,  a friend offered me an opportunity to set up ‘shop’ with my jewelry as a tiny department of her boutique dress store, a perfect opportunity to expand!  This was probably one of the most valuable experiences of my life.  First, I found out I loved working retail and having a set schedule  – I always thought I would hate the lack of flexibility.  Second, it really opened my eyes to two things: 1)  In order to be profitable with just my jewelry, I had to focus on wholesale sales, and this was not a direction I wanted to take.  2) I still absolutely loved my making jewelry and my customers, how could I keep this part of the business that I loved, and add something else to it for a real career?  And The Best of VC Marketplace was born.

You did something really interesting with your business~ you started designing and making your own jewelry and now you own The Best of VC Marketplace.  Can you tell us what prompted you to make that change and where you came up with the concept for VC Marketplace?

This question is partially answered above, but the concept was just one of the ‘duh’ moments. As a teenager, I had worked for a store called Made in Washington, and one day, I realized that CA did not have anything like this.  But, I didn’t want to open a Made in CA store, I really wanted to specialize and also celebrate my new home town of Santa Paula and Ventura County with a Ventura County store – the Best of VC . . .

Any tips for how to make a business(that consumes the majority of your time) and marriage work in unison?

I have to admit, I have an incredible husband Mikiel understands and supports my working around the clock right now as I get the store up and running and even helps out with events, though it’s REALLY his least favorite thing to do.  It helps that both Mikiel and I are very independent and like our alone time, and I also think it helped that we met and married when we were older and just a tad wiser.  We also really understand each other.  I know there are times where I should just leave him alone, and I know there are times that I need to press him to work through an issue, and he knows that sometimes I’m just in a mood and he should ignore it, or sometimes he needs to push me to get me to open up.  And, we still do fun, new things together!

Lastly, where would you like to see your business a year from now?

That’s a hard question!!!!  I don’t have any plans to expand in the next year – just being in the two museums is enough. What I would like is to have a trusted employee who can run the store for a week so I can take a vacation – not that I will, but to have the option would be nice.

The Best of VC Marketplace is located at 108 N 10th St, Santa Paula, CA 93060

High Low

Without a doubt, my favorite daily routine is our family dinner. I look forward to preparing the meal and decompressing after my day.  I also find it rewarding, the family gathered around the table enjoying what I’ve just created. We have a meal-time ritual that I actually stole from a movie I watched well, over ten years ago(The Story of Us).  High Low is when we go around the table and each person gives their “high(best part) of their day and Low(worst part).   It gets the conversation flowing.  Sometimes, your child may even say, they don’t have a low.  That puts a smile on my face every time.

Meal Prep~

With the highly anticipated(well, by me anyway) “back-to-school week” upon us, I decided to spend the better part of my Sunday meal-prepping.  In between watching my boyfriend, Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal and the Cowboy/Chargers game~ I was able to get quite a bit accomplished.

Cooked chicken breasts~ to shred and cube for future meals(pasta, enchiladas and sandwiches).  I simply baked them for 50 mins at 375 degrees.  Cooled, shredded/cubed and stuck in the freezer after I labeled the bags.

Made red pasta sauce in the crock pot~I put 2 cans of tomatoes(a few fresh, too) in the blender along with a small can of tomato paste, 4 basil leaves, a 1/4 cup of  EVOO, diced onions and some carrot puree.  After blended, I put it in the crock pot on low for about 5 hours.  Let cool and froze.

Sliced cheese(sandwiches, crackers)~ I bought a block of cheddar from Albertson’s last week for $2.50.  I sliced and bagged it then put it in our “sandwich bin” in the fridge.

Cooked Rice~ We had Chicken Burritos last night, so I tripled my batch of rice in the cooker and will freeze the left-overs.

Today, I am going to boil eggs(for lunches) and pasta(for dinner later in the week).  I am anticipating this prep-method will continue each week, so I cut back on processed foods and ordering take-out.


This Weekend Why Don’t You…


Roll your hair back

Wear something in satin

Finish your ensemble with a red lipstick like this one by Loreal here.

Thinking About Today…

photo courtesy of pinterest

I can feel it in the air.  Fall.  A time for the leaves to change, the weather to change and our summer routines to change.

And football!

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I will say this with a teeny bit of guilt. But I love that the kids are headed back to school and the routines that follow.

I look forward to baking comfort foods, as the sun fades into the night.

I love my cooler-weather wardrobe and hope to make a collage of my favorite trends(on a budget) this weekend to share with you.  And lastly, I love that this fall, there will be a few changes in our life.  Moving is one of them.

What do you love about Fall?

What’s Cooking With Kate?

When I walked into my first WEV’s Self-Employment Training Course in the winter of 2010, I found a seat in the over-crowded room at a table with 3 other women.   After a few minutes of introductions and “getting-to-know yous”whispered between our instructor’s comments, I found myself most drawn to a fellow-mom named Kate Dunbar.  We quickly bonded over being two women in our 30’s with husbands, kids and plans for new businesses.  It felt like I had known her for years.   I specifically remember  gazing intently around our classroom one night.  I was trying to envision who would become the successes out of our group.  Kate is the one who stood out.  She has a great story about a little dream that has grown quite fast.  Please read on to find out what made Kate stand out to me that first night and what has continued to make her stand out as a woman business owner today.

Kate, you have an interesting story on how your business idea came about. Will you please share?

I was working for a family that wanted to create their own infused vodka company.  I was the recipe maker, marketer and point person. I entered into a business writing program and discovered that the ABC would not allow this type of business in California. I was at a one day conference and one of the guest speakers was the owner of a tea company. Her story truly inspired me to search out what I wanted to do and as I was driving home, I started to create my chocolate and dessert company.  My husband was deployed to Iraq in 2003-2005  and many desserts were made and shipped to him- so there was the recipe start. Within 10 weeks of starting that business plan course, I had created more recipes, found taste testers and almost had my business plan finished.  From the day that I figured out what I wanted to create to my first public presentation at a food & Wine Festival… it was 11 1/2 weeks.

Petit Reve means little dream. And here you are living a very, big dream. When you came up with the name of your business, did you foresee it growing so large? What was the turning point? 

  I never saw myself growing this big this fast. I figured I was going to be the private dessert caterer and small delivery based dessert company. The turning point was when I was asked to speak in Long Beach Ca at The Women’s Conference this past October. Standing on the stage in front so many women and all the celebrities that were speakers, too opened my company to a completely different level of clients.  My phone was ringing off the hook and I had to find a retail location with a kitchen quickly.

Can you give any of the other “mompreneurs” out there any tips for juggling business and family?

First, off know what you are willing to sacrifice… friends, family, private time, the gym, girl’s nights out, shopping, sleep.  You name it- you are going to sacrifice that and then quite a few more things. You really need to be secure in your relationship with your partner. I would not be here doing what I am doing without my husband’s support. I never asked him if it was ok to create this company and leave the care of our young twins and teenager up to him. I told him “I’m empty, I’m not happy. I love being a mom and a wife, but I am missing something of my own.  I’m doing this and I need you to support me”. He did and so did my mother, my family and friends. I am a stronger mother, a happier woman and truly a better partner for my husband now.

This past year you’ve been able to meet some pretty, influential people. Can you share a story about the one who has inspired you the most?

I can’t pick one, it’s too difficult so, I will pick two. First is my mom.  I want to share a little back story.. I became a mother when I was 17. I had to grow up very quickly and leave a lot of dreams behind because I knew in my gut that having my son and being a single parent was the right path. My Mom was my rock.  I could not have done it without her help, love and support. Over the last 18 years, all I have wanted to do was create a business to show her how much her lessons, guidance, support and compassion influenced and molded me. When I was standing on the stage at The Women’s Conference and I looked into the audience and saw her face.  I knew I finally had given her everything she gave to me, funny thing was she bent over to Donna Karen (who was sitting next to her) and said, “That’s my daughter!  She’s my hero, I’m so proud of her!”.   My business is another extension of me, it’s my passion it’s my dreams and above all its every lesson my Mother gave to me. The next person would be my mentor, Zhena Muzyka the founder and CEO of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.  We both said jokingly to each other that we were brought together because of our humble, single, mom days and we will be inspirations to each other because we know to give to others above all else.  She is by far one of the most graceful women I have ever met.  I can not explain how that gift of grace has helped me. My employees can tell you, I am one of the most giving employers they have ever had.  I say thank you every day to them and I show them how much I appreciate them.  Zhena was the one that said “make your employees as important as you want your business to be, and everything good that is to happen to you and your business will-trust me”.  She was right!  My suggestion to anyone reading this is to take a sharpie pen, go to your mirror and write this on it so, you see it every day ” I am worth it, I am successful, I am capable of amazing things!”
In conclusion, can you divulge any secrets as to what’s next for your “small dream”?

The next step for me is giving back. Since opening a brick and mortar, I knew I wanted to find an organization that I could not only give financially but also volunteer my time with. I know my journey in food industry and being a business owner has just started but secretly, I have been creating my next mind map for the second phase of Petite Reve.  All I can say at this point, is if it truly goes in the direction I want it to then my mark on the food scene will be completely, unique to anything in the area. I have never stopped dreaming and creating it’s who I am and honestly that is what makes my business stand out.

Kate's Family~

Petite Rêve Cafe & Petite Rêve Chocolates
1124 S. Seaward Ave #A
Ventura Ca 93001
 805-641-1581 (cafe)

Bag Swag~

When I was younger, I changed out my purse about as often as I changed my toothbrush. Over the years, my hygiene habits evolved, as did my style. It wasn’t long before I noticed a good purse was the finishing touch to an outfit. Whether it is a bright yellow hobo bag added to an ensemble of neutrals or a vintage clutch covered in bright blue beads against a little black dress – a choice of purse makes an impact on the total look.

My collection takes up three narrow shelves of my closet. I keep larger bags on the low shelf, medium on the middle and evening clutches on the top. As you can probably see, I did change some of them around for the aesthetic appeal of the photograph.

When it comes to organizing my bag on the inside, it’s fairly simple. A few smaller bags(make-up even Ziplock) arranged just right inside a larger one can make things so much simpler when looking for a ringing cell phone or your car keys. I have separate bags for my make-up, cell phone and business cards, a zip lock to hold my preschooler’s small toys and crayons, and a bag for any “club cards and special coupons or store dollars. When I change a purse to match an outfit, it’s as simple as grabbing a few bags out of the old one and throwing them into the new one.

I would love to hear your ideas for keeping an organized bag.

Flashback Friday~Warrant

courtesy of

Yesterday, on MTV’s news feed via Facebook, I saw the video to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”.  I instinctively posted it on my friend’s wall.  About 20 years ago, that song was the background to many, youthful memories.  Well, you can imagine my shock when I woke to news that the lead singer of one of my favorite bands from the 90’s had passed.  Jani Lane was only 47 and just 20 years ago, was one of the kings of the Sunset Strip music scene.  As young, women perusing the strip in the early 90’s it was not out of the ordinary to catch a glimpse of Jani and his then-girlfriend/wife, Bobbi Brown out club hopping.  They were the “it” couple around Hollywood.  Jani had a distinctive voice and you couldn’t help but feel good when you listened to a tune like “Down Boys” or  be touched by more serious songs like~ “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “I Saw Red”.

Jani, you made an impact on my youth and for that I hope you have finally found your “Heaven”.

courtesy of

courtesy of