Monday, December 15, 2014

December Woman of Style: Janine Mitchell of J9 Design

Janine Mitchell, owner of J9 Design, exudes great style.  She always looks pulled together whether she is shining in a cocktail dress or gown or is wearing a pair of jeans and crafting.  I absolutely love that she focuses on being comfortable in her own skin rather than keeping up with the trend of the moment.  And it shows - Janine is confident, stunning and clearly owns and loves her personal style.  I met Janine when she served as Miss New Hampshire's Outstanding Teen, which is part of the Miss America program.  When many people think of pageants, they think of a cliche type of style.  Janine's great style couldn't be further from cliche and cookie-cutter.  Her style is authentic, fun and captivating, as you can see here.  And her personal style translates into great designs for J9 Design.

What's wonderful about what Janine does through J9 Design, is she makes people feel happy with her adorable creations.  She refers to it as nostalgic homemade happiness!  Janine designs and hand-crafts items including headbands, Christmas ornaments, stockings and even craft beer label coasters.  Her great personal style translates into great style for all of her creations.  Her work graces mantles and coffee tables at homes around the country.

How do you define your style?  
My style definition is ever-changing. Instead of sticking with one style profile, I tend to allow it to change with the way I'm feeling or the stage of life I'm in. For instance, in the past year I've focused more on comfort in my own skin than being sure I have the top trend at the moment. I think women radiate when they're comfortable - with themselves and in their clothes. Oh, and I also love to be barefoot...

What inspires you with regard to style?
I'm a pretty impulsive person, so many things inspire my style. I'm inspired by my feelings on any particular day. I'm a typical Gemini, battling with two sides to my personality. So, in relation to style, I have one side that's super trendy, on-point and intentional. On another hand, I like to wear jeans, a t-shirt and my hair in a ponytail with Chuck-Ts.

What do you usually wear for the holidays?  
For holiday season, I'm mostly in jeans and t-shirts, while spending time with family and friends. Then, if we go out for drinks, I'll just slide some red lipstick on and call it a night. But, for a few select holiday parties, I'll bring some glam with a cocktail dress. I love dresses. In the summer, they're just so easy to throw on a dress. In the winter I carry it over, but with tights and cardigans.

How did you get the idea to start J9 Design and have you always been crafting?  
I've been making things since I was a child. I'm a kinesthetic learner, so doing things with my hands or body not only helps me learn, but it's the way my mind works. I started seriously thinking about bringing my creations to the next level in June of 2013 when I bought my first domain name,, and again in summer of 2014, when I opened my Etsy store.

What is your favorite item to create?  
It's impossible for me to pick a favorite. Everything I create comes out of a feeling I've had, an urge I needed to fulfill or a challenge I wanted to meet. I love to sew, but it's not my favorite. It just feels good and nostalgic. After my mom passed away, I was given her sewing machine. When the needle beats I can remember hearing it from her room all the way from my bedroom when I was a kid.

What has been your most popular item?  
By far my Cork Angel Ornaments, then my Mock-Bow Headbands for winter. For year-round products, I've found a niche with the craft beer drinkers with my Craft Beer Label Coasters. I get orders from all around the country requesting Boston/New England area craft beers like Smuttynose, Harpoon or Woodstock.

How do you come up with your ideas?
I don't sell anything that I wouldn't use or wear in my day-to-day life. It's really hard to keep my hands off other people's orders sometimes! I'm like, "Oh I like that!"  

How is your personal style reflected in J9 Design?
My crafts are a lot like my style in that they're always changing. I call it "Craft A.D.D." I don't like doing one thing for too long. Last Christmas I made like 50 stockings, this year I made a lot of hats, infinity scarves and headbands. Last summer I made a lot of clutch bags, this year I made craft beer coasters.  

When can people order until and what is the easiest way to order?  
People can order year-round on my Etsy store, find a link at at, and expect periodic everyday additions as the holiday season wraps up. The last day to order for Christmas delivery is Dec 17!

Thanks, Janine for sharing your style with us and giving us an inside peek at J9 Design!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Gift of Inspiration

I still can't believe it's December already!  I have my countdown to Christmas posted on a framed chalkboard in our kitchen.  I say it's for Charlotte, but it's for me too because I am so excited for Christmas.  Over Thanksgiving, I was writing down the things for which I am most grateful.  Actually, most of the items were not things - they were people and experiences.  One of the experiences I love is to be inspired!  That's why I tell my husband I have so many magazine subscriptions and books :)  

Here are five key categories of things I love -  the fifth category below includes a blog I absolutely love that I hope you check out too:  1) A beautiful journal (or two!) to write down special moments during my days with Charlotte and Ben.   2) A fresh blank planner to record my goals and plans to make them happen.   3) Books that inspire me.  I know many people now read books on an iPad or a Kindle but I guess I'm old fashioned; I like to turn the pages in my books and keep beautiful books on my coffee tables.  I'm constantly reading books on everything from time management, parenting, style, and entertaining!      4) Magazines that are artfully and beautifully created.  Once I'm done with them, I pin the clippings I love on an inspiration board for even more inspiration.

The Gift of Inspiration

5)  Fabulous Style Blogs.  I absolutely love to follow gorgeous style blogs for inspiration on everything from fashion, home decorating and beauty.  A blog I discovered recently has quickly become my favorite!  This is a screenshot of Womanista's website and I think you can already tell why I love it so much and can't wait to read the new posts.

The Womanista inspires me, and I'm certain all of her readers, with her stunning entertainment and decor ideas, chic style, and great beauty advice.  I know several of you adore Lady Antebellum's music like I do, so you may already know that the Womanista, Cassie Kelley, is married to Charles Kelley.  (Which brings up another key category of inspiration:  great music!)  When I contacted the Womanista recently, Cassie got back to me immediately.  She is not only talented but she is truly first class - and that is incredibly inspiring too!   

Cheers!  xo Mary

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sweet Cyber Monday

As far as shopping goes, this is one of my favorite days of the year because I absolutely love a sale!!  The discounts are usually so good, I don't just do my holiday shopping but I also do shopping for home items, birthdays and other events.  Here are some of my favorite items I am watching this Cyber Monday.   Happy Shopping!

Sweet Cyber Monday

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Designer vs. Store Brand

This always intrigues many of us.  Which dress do you think is more expensive?  The one on the left or the one on the right?   Thanks so much to several of you for commenting!  A few of you said the one on the left and one of you said the one on the right.    

The more expensive dress is....The dress on the right.  It's a designer dress, a Carolina Herrera, marked as $1374.00 at Off Saks Fifth Avenue.  The dress on the left was from the Loft Outlet and was $44.99 and there was an additional discount off that the day I shopped.  So, what do you get for the more than $1329.01 difference in price?  Below is my analysis as I work hard to complete an management course and become an AICI certified image consultant.

Upon close inspection, the Carolina Herrera dress is exceptionally well made.    It is a unique silk fabric and is fully lined with silk.  It has meticulous stitching and darts to make sure it falls precisely where it should. The fabric is matched at every angle. The fabric is also something you won't likely see on many other people.  It's unique and memorable.  In my opinion, it's more than a dress; it's a work of art.  As someone learning to sew, I am absolutely in awe of this dress.  However, as you'll read below, I was impressed with the construction of the lower-priced dress as well.

Gorgeous silk lining in this designer dress.

The stitching on the inside is meticulous.

It has a velvet belt constructed into the waistline.

Meticulous darts and flawless stitching.

Unique graphic print silk fabric.

The way this is sewed, the lines are constructed to fall exactly 
where they should.

      For the huge difference in price, the Loft Outlet dress is made quite well.  The dress is 94 percent polyester and 6 percent spandex.  It is lined with a beautiful black lining, which I didn't necessarily expect given the price.  The "v" pattern in the dress (below) doesn't match visually as perfectly as it could from all angles.  It doesn't have the exceptional construction (the many, many meticulous darts) that the Carolina Herrera dress has, and as a result, with natural movement, the pattern doesn't look right at all times.  But for a more than $1300 difference in price, I am impressed with the overall construction of this dress.

The lining on the Loft Outlet dress.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

HomeGoods Happy Fan Winnings

I am so grateful to HomeGoods for giving me my Happy Fan shopping spree and two boxes full of beautiful items for my home!  These are things I honestly would not have bought for myself.  I told HomeGoods my style is elegant and glamorous and they nailed it when they sent me some gorgeous mirrored frames and crystal candleholders.  Those items inspired me to find more elegant items on my shopping spree.  I can now say our house is finally a reflection of my style and my husband's style.  As you'll see below, he found the perfect chandelier for our living room!

So, here is what I found!  It was SO hard not to buy everything in the store!!
-Damask Chair $129.99
-Luxe Mirror $79.99
-Large Mirrored Frames $129.99 and $89.00
-Crystal Lamp $59.99
-Large Silver Mirror $39.99

Extras:  Mirrored Chest
             Large Closet Mirror
             And many more to come... :)

This photo doesn't do this chair justice.
It's actually the key inspiration piece for my living room!
I'm going to make pillows to coordinate and find a wool floor rug too.

This was an "extra" I went back to buy!  
I have always wanted an elegant mirrored chest.

My husband bought me this chandelier after the shopping spree to add 
to the new elegant feel of our living room.  I'm such a lucky woman!

These huge mirrored frames will go in our piano room.
I am going to replace the current prints with large prints of 
piano music!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

HomeGoods Happy Fan Shopping Spree

I always secretly dreamed of being on the show "Supermarket Sweep," but I never thought I would actually win a shopping spree.   On Saturday, the HomeGoods store in Clifton Park opened its doors at 8 a.m. so I could have a private shopping spree for one hour.  In addition to the two boxes of hand-picked items I mentioned yesterday, HomeGoods overnighted me these gift cards.   I got a $500 gift card and I received 5 gift cards of $25 for friends to shop with me!   I love shopping (especially with the store to myself), so it was an amazing experience.  I'm still taking photos of the items I scored and I will share those tomorrow!  Hint, I spend a lot of time in the lighting aisle as you can see below :)  I also carried a list of items I wanted and a tape measure to check dimensions.  Thank you again to HomeGoods for treating me so well!  

The colorful array of gift cards from HomeGoods!

We are definitely a HomeGoods family!

Decisions, decisions...