PDQ Celebrates Five Delicious Years

The new PDQ Honey Butter Sandwich

The new PDQ Honey Butter Sandwich

It's true - we love PDQ so much we've been known to drive 30 or 40 miles out of the way to enjoy their perfectly cooked and seasoned chicken. Fortunately, there are now 3 locations in the Dallas area - Frisco, Plano, and Murphy so we have some great choices as to where to celebrate their 5th anniversary this weekend. 

Not only are they celebrating with lots of family friendly activities and giveaways, they also chose this event to launch their newest menu item - the Honey Butter Sandwich. We are so glad that they invited us to an advance tasting so we could try this ourselves - everything about it is perfection. There's just a kiss of honey so the sweetness doesn't overpower the wonderful seasonings that coat the chicken, and usually I don't eat the bun but I am so glad I did with this - it was sooooo good I ate every last morsel and then wished I had bought another one so I could enjoy it for breakfast.

The bread and butter pickles were also a pleasant surprise - they worked with family-owned Grillo's Pickles to come up with the perfect flavors to compliment the chicken and the honey butter and they did - just the right amount of sweetness and tang to make you want more.

The story that we are looking forward to sharing later is the great people behind PDQ and how almost everything is made every day from scratch - you truly can taste teh difference.

Heading out for another bite of this sandwich - see you there!

Celebrating Labor Day and Our American Workers

Clayton Tiny Home at Cashiers Historical Society Designer Showcase

Clayton Tiny Home at Cashiers Historical Society Designer Showcase

Labor Day weekend is finally here! Not only am I excited about doing some grilling, spending time with friends, and enjoying my favorite farmers markets,but this year I’m also going to be thanking our American workforce and celebrating the innovative solutions they come up with every day.

Workforce and affordable housing is something I champion and work hard to improve every day. People who work so hard daily to provide for their families deserve a safe and secure place to live. This is why I’ve become such an advocate of factory built housing - it’s a true symbol of how innovative our American workforce can be.

A year ago Keith Holdbrooks, President of Clayton Home building group discovered he had the opportunity to try building a new product and push his company to become more innovative with the structures they built. When looking at options for expansion, they looked at some tiny houses on display in Dallas and thought the concept might be something that Clayton could build, but build it better.

Instead of building what they have always built Holdbrooks challenged Gary Hollingsworth - General Manager of the building facility - to “go out of our comfort zone” and come up with a unique design and floorplan. They wanted to “sell to a want, not a need” and listen to what consumers wanted instead of telling them.

Jeffrey Dungan of Jeffrey Dungan Architects

Jeffrey Dungan of Jeffrey Dungan Architects

Fast forward to four months ago when Holdbrooks presented this challenge to Jeffrey Dungan, a luxury home designer that shares on his website that “he brings passion, depth and an endless enthusiasm for the people he works with and for.” After now spending hours on his website and social media, I’m still speechless as to how beautiful, and thoughtful his homes and designs are. And those of you who know me know that I’m never speechless!

Not only did Dungan fall in love with this challenge, his team did as well. Clayton was willing to “get out of the box” and Dungan is always open to ways to challenge himself and his team. When Dungan went back to his team and told them they were going to design some manufactured homes,  there was a collective gasp and then they got right to work. Two members of his team, Michael Curtis and Heath Clement were particularly excited about these tiny homes and have had a major voice in having these homes become a reality.

Interior of The Low Country - part of the Jeffrey Dungan Collection by Clayton

Interior of The Low Country - part of the Jeffrey Dungan Collection by Clayton

I truly feel the results of this team have the potential to change how we build and think about housing. Dungan shared that instead of thinking about building by the square foot he now approaches design by the cubic inch. Think about it. That’s a really profound statement and such a different approach, it’s a game changer. He also is insisting on talking about how these homes are built in a shop, not a factory. The word shop makes me think of craftsmen in a happy environment perfecting their craft. You are right Jeffrey - perfect description.

Entry to the Low Country

Entry to the Low Country

The proof of how committed this dream team was to making this happen debuted at The Cashiers Historical Society Designer Showcase in Cashiers, North Carolina. Even though this home allowed Clayton to experiment conceptually through its building method of large-scale, indoor construction and apply it to tiny houses, this home is anything but a traditional manufactured home.

Many people put their time and energy into making this home a reality, and the best is yet to come. Some of the other plans included in the Designer Series Tiny Houses will be shared soon. Both the Clayton and Dungan teams continue to make changes and improve each cubic inch of their homes, and we can’t wait to see the rewards.

Thank-you to all of our American labor force and Happy Labor Day! You make this country a very special place to live, work and play. To find out more about these homes, you can visit DesignerSeriesTinyHomes.com

The Instant Pot - My New Healthy Obsession

The Amazon Prime Day was a huge success in my home - I got some great deals including something that I have been thinking about buying for a long time - an Instant Pot.

I'll be the first to admit that I am a kitchen gadget junkie, but this is one of the best buys I've made. It would be perfect for a smaller kitchen or a dorm room - it's electric, doesn't take up a lot of room, is easy to use and is super fast! There's a learning curve but so far everything I've tried has been a success. What I really love about it is how easy it is to clean and it's keeping my kitchen much cooler this summer since I haven't been using my oven as much.

Recipes will be coming soon - have pickled eggs, deviled eggs and a potato salad in the works!

It's PrimeDay!

It's Prime Day!~ We can't remember what life was like before Amazon, and Amazon Prime but it was a lot more work. This Lifestylist® loves a good sale, and there are incredible deals to be found today. The sales that we are seeing today rival Black Friday - we can't wait to get shopping and pick up some of these bargains that will be delivered to our doorstep. What are your best buys today?

Becoming a Master of the Kitchen

I'll be the first to say that even though I am a Lifestylist and can cook I'm not a chef. The kitchen is my favorite place to spend time in my home and it's truly the heart of the Home Idea Factory.

When Thermador invited me to come to California and take their Thermador Masters class I got on the next plane! Even though I've been madly in love with their appliances for years and have their refrigeration in my own home, the thought of baking in their steam convection ovens or in that stunning 60" Pro Grand Stem oven intimidated me. I know I'm not alone - I have clients that have invested in entire kitchens of these beautiful products but have never used some of the best features they offer. How many people have bought a really cool item but didn't have the patience to read the manual to be able to use the features that you paid extra for?

At the Masters class we were able to learn about what makes Thermador, Bosch and Gaggenau so special.  We also spent time in the Thermador kitchen with their patient, talented super chefs cooking up meals we got to enjoy. I made my first Buerre Blanc sauce and even though I have never cooked seafood was able to help cook up some tasty Shrimp and Grits and scallops for my sauce. It's amazing how good something can taste when you have a hand in making it.

What a special few days -I made wonderful new friends and can't wait to share all of the tips and knowledge that I'm heading home with including my Thermador Masters diploma!

"Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee"

You never know where you will run into greatness. One evening I was in a bookstore in Mishawaka Indiana and was determined to find a particular magazine that my work was featured in. I almost ran into a tall, distinguished man and it took a few minutes for it to register, but I had almost knocked over Muhammad Ali. He gave me a big smile and we both went our separate ways but I'll never forget the smile and the twinkle in his eyes. I couldn't believe it was him, but found out later that he lived nearby in Niles, Michigan and it was his daughter Laila that was with him.

This week I was in Canandaigua, NY working at The Hammocks at Canandaigua and was excited to see that the lilacs were blooming. These are some of my favorite flowers and you have to enjoy them for the short times they are in bloom, then wait for next year. I was breathing in their intoxicating fragrance and taking a few photos when this stunning butterfly decided to join me and feast on their nectar. He truly floated over these delicate blooms and allowed me to get a few shots then went on to the next.

When I just heard about the death of Muhammad Ali I immediately thought of this photo - beauty, defying gravity and a very special grace that makes you smile. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family with thanks for sharing this great man with all of us.

Hurry Up and Wait

The last few months have been filled with airports, hotels, meetings and shows. There are so many good things happening right now sleep has become an afterthought. After having 3 blissful days at home I headed to the airport early this morning and found out there was major weather in the East coast so instead of arriving at noon I'll be lucky to make it to NY at all today.  

 

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I now have s "go bag" that I always have with me when I travel- contact case and solution, toothbrush, extra cords for electronics and Kind Bars - you just never know.  

Hoping that tomorrow I'll be posting from Erie, PA at The Hammocks at Millcreek - if not I'll be on another adventure! 

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Chasing The American Dream

The New American Home 2016 (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)

The New American Home 2016 (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)

Being a Lifestylist can be so much fun! I get to see what's new, what's coming, and get invited into homes that in the past I could only dream about. The bad part though is that when I see things I love I want to incorporate them into my own home!

The New American Home in Las Vegas this year was one of my favorites that I have toured in ages. If was a lifestyle I could understand and want to be a part of, and the floorplan made sense. I really loved the kitchen and pantry area - I could do some serious entertaining here!

Even though the price range of this home was out of my reach there were lots of great ideas in it that I could do at home. This island with built in seating made a lot of sense, and something I might have to try.

I'm thinking that there may be some remodeling going on in my future!

 

Happy National Eggs Benedict Day!

There's nothing that says weekend more to us than a leisurely brunch at one of our favorite spots, especially if there is Eggs Benedict involved.

 

LUCK Dallas has a version on Texas toast with their house made pastrami. It is always cooked to perfection which isn't easy. So happy to be a Dallas Dweller and to live so close to Trinity Groves and LUCK!

We've Got a New Look!

It literally took us years, but we finally have a new look and logo for The Lifestylist Brands! We have spent thousands of dollars over the years trying to create a logo that would be as unique as our company, and when someone mentioned looking Etsy to be honest I thought they were crazy! Turns out I was the crazy one - I found lots of creative, fresh talent there that that I have hired not only to do my logo but also to do watermarks and templates for some of my blogs.

I did spend a lot of time searching through what was up to find someone who has the look I was looking for, but when I did the cost was so reasonable (starting at under $100) it was worth the research time.

Stevie Ann Clark is the talent behind what you see above. She was so easy to work with, immediately understood what I was looking for and when I asked for changes she did them immediately. I can't say enough good things about her and can't wait to hire her again.

You never know where you'll find great design - we are just happy we found Stevie.

Fluffing Frites

Pomme Frites at Parigi

Pomme Frites at Parigi

Food styling is such a fun part of what the Lifestylist Brands is all about. Each shoot seems to take on a life of it's own, and no matter how well you plan you never know what you are going to end up with.

I am so proud to be a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier, and take this honor very seriously. The organization raises funds to provide scholarships for women who want to start a culinary career and ever dollar we can make through our fundraising efforts goes to this very worthwhile cause.

Our main fundraising event is Raiser Grazer on April 3rd. Photographer Lisa Stewart and I decided to go to some of the participating dames and chefs to do professional photography of some of the items that will be served that evening. It's been lots of fun and I think it gives people a better idea of what to expect.

Chef Provost and Parigi have a signature color - pink - so we were thrilled with the styling props she had available to us.  Table of diners around us were able to get a first hand look at how much work can go into a simple shot - these frites were arranged and rearranged to get the perfect shot! All in a days work-

 

Horsing Around

Equine Styling from Bobo Intriguing Objects

Equine Styling from Bobo Intriguing Objects

Lucky me! My grandbabies live walking distance from the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club -the winter destination for many of the best horses and riders in the world. It's made me miss my equestrian days and the lifestyle that is such a huge part of who I am.

These horse heads that I spotted at the Las Vegas Market were one of my favorite finds along with other intriguing objects form Bobo. Thinking that it might be time to place that order...

Spring Break

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What a gorgeous day in the Finger Lakes region of New York! They had a record setting temperature - 74 degrees! Yet there were snow drifts in the woods an on the side of the roads.  

I'm so fortunate to get to stay at The Hammocks at Canandaigua while I'm here. It's a beautiful apartment community that has everything you could wish for including a clubhouse, theater room, fitness center, community gardens and best of all a fire pit. Wish you were here to enjoy it with me. 

I Almost Met Oprah!

I thought this was such a great Throwback Thursday post - remembering one of the many great times at the State Fair of Texas.

September 2009: Today was a very exciting day. One of the ways as a Lifestylist I search out trends and try to understand what today’s buyer is looking for is by being a part of the Great State Fair of Texas. Some years I enter the Creative Arts contests – especially cooking. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about people and their lifestyles by sitting with them and chatting while we wait for the judging to be over and those coveted ribbons to be handed out. This was a great day – my second red ribbon and a blue! I love giving back and sharing, so when my competitions are over I share my remaining goodies with the parking lot attendants, ticket takers and fair workers. Ribbon or not, they are always very appreciative of what I make.

This year has been more exciting than most because Oprah is taping at the State Fair and they have been doing a lot of taping in the Creative Arts Building which is where we hang out. We saw a lot of people walking around with crew passes today and I asked someone if I could take a photo of theirs – they actually let me hold it! Why was that important to me? I have so much respect and admiration for Oprah – I can’t think of anyone who gives back as much as she does, and we have the connection of rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina - I worked on over 2,500 Katrina Cottages and she made a huge personal investment of getting people back into homes after the storms. If you have spent any time there you know how important that work still is.

So as we were walking out of the building getting ready to pass out my remaining entries who should be in front of us but Oprah and Company! It was so exciting, and I ran up to her car to try to get a better look – she looks AMAZING in person by the way – I saw someone in her car so asked if I could give her my blue ribbon. They said that was very sweet but I should keep it, but I gave them some of my caramels. I believe in sharing with everyone. I was honored that they were so excited about my goodies, and now can’t wait to see the show after they tape it. I didn’t get to meet her, but you just never know what tomorrow might bring.

Thermador: 100 Years and Still Restless

One of my favorite events that occurred during Design and Construction Week was the press conference that celebrated the fact that Thermador is now 100 years young! Seeing how much they have accomplished, and the talented team they have put together for the next 100 years was exciting. Happy Anniversary Thermador! Many thanks to Lisa Stewart Photography for all of these great images.

Why We Love Manufactured Housing and the Manufactured Housing Institute

Over 100,000 people attending Design and Construction Week

Over 100,000 people attending Design and Construction Week

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been! First we attended Design and Construction Week with over 100,000 others to see what's new in the home building industry, then came back to Dallas to celebrate KidFilm - the oldest and largest childrens film festival in the US. It is a shining star for the Dallas Film Community and has now been presented for 32 years by the USA Film Festival. Then back to Las Vegas for the furniture market - so many great things, people and ideas to share!

Factory Built home displayed at the International Builders Show

Factory Built home displayed at the International Builders Show

When we were at the International Builders Show we were reminded that it was over 20 years ago when I was introduced to the Manufactured Housing Institute. I've been active in the building industry for now over 30 years including owning my own building company. I saw the factory built homes that were on display at the show the first thing I thought was "this makes so much sense - why aren't all homes being constructed this way"?

Fortunately for me the Manufactured Housing Institute had a booth at the show and as always I had lots of questions including learning more about MHI and the services they offered. As a proud member of The National Association of Homebuilders for many, many years including being on the boards for some of their councils I understood the value of a strong association so getting involved with MHI made sense for me, and I made an appointment to visit their DC headquarters and get an in-depth feel for what this industry was all about. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Palm Harbor Homes exhibited at the State Fair of Texas

Palm Harbor Homes exhibited at the State Fair of Texas

Now that I have been very active in manufactured housing including being the Lifestylist® for Patriot Homes (I still think they had one of the best teams and products that any home builder has assembled), working with Champion, Clayton and Cavco and what I have really loved - learning about land lease communities and designing clubhouses for YES! Communities, I would like to think I have a good feel for this industry and it's members. And I'm in love with everything this industry is about.

It just makes sense. Building a home in a controlled environment where the same people do the same jobs out of the elements is going to help build a better constructed home. Then take into consideration the buying power this provides - instead of having materials shipped to scattered job sites everything is on placed and shipped to one location - you are going to have coast savings. I'm going to brag on Clayton Homes - I truly am amazed with the products that they use in their homes - things you can't even find a lot of times in a $300,000 or even $500,000 home. Their ability to spot trends and source the products for these trends is helping affordable housing look like never in my wildest dreams I thought could be possible.

Energy Star awards for manufactured housing

Energy Star awards for manufactured housing

The Manufactured Housing Institute is the glue that keeps this industry moving forward. There have been some excellent staffing decisions made in the past years including the addition of Rick Robinson as General Counsel & Senior Vice President, State & Regulatory Affairs and Dick Jennison as President and CEO. When Dick was hired we were just coming out of the housing crisis that we all saw and felt. He had to make some tough decisions to make us thrive but they are definitely paying off. Rick has really helped our industry get the respect that we deserve on Capitol Hill and has managed to even get me involved with contacting my congress people! It feels good to have a voice. We are so fortunate to have these men and the entire staff at MHI representing our industry and being there to support us - I can't thank all of them enough.

Dick Jennison awarding Land Lease Community of the Year to Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber

Dick Jennison awarding Land Lease Community of the Year to Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber

The hardest challenge I have seen for the Manufactured Housing Industry is to change the consumer perception about what manufactured housing is all about. As an industry I think we have failed the public on sharing our good news and stories, possibly because there are so many it's hard to keep up! Bruce Savage who was the staff person for MHI that originally got me involved decided to be part of the solution and started American Housing Advocates as a way to share all of the good news about this great industry. We are doing this as a labor of love and at no cost so we aren't always the fastest at getting things posted but it will always be a source of good news about the industry.

A factory built home by Clayton Homes division SE Homes of Texas

A factory built home by Clayton Homes division SE Homes of Texas

If you haven't looked at what today's manufactured housing can offer you and your family, now might be the time to see why your next home might be built in a factory.


Wishful Thinking

You never know. With the lottery being above 1 billion dollars I had to play at least once. I put some thought into it - bought them at small stores that I would like to share in the winnings WHEN I won, a few different tickets on a few different days... And waited to see my lucky numbers being drawn. 

I didn't win the big money but I almost covered what I spent and it was fun to dream for a few hours.  

Back to reality that isn't so bad. A wonderful family, career, friends and challenges that are priceless. 

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