Category Archives: interview

how to pick the perfect gift: a Q&A with half hitch goods

half hitch goods

|  Carrie of Half Hitch Goods, showing off her amazing Rolling Shoppe! |

Friends, I have been so excited to share this Q&A! Carrie Caillouette is the mastermind behind Half Hitch Goods: quite simply the most beautiful, creative, perfectly-curated gifting shop I have ever encountered. (And trust me, I don’t give out that title lightly.) Every single item is carefully considered, lovingly made, and somehow utterly and completely perfect. It’s an absolute treasure trove of gift ideas – for yourself, your spouse, your mom or your crazy Aunt Edna. I promise you, no matter how hard they are to buy for, and no matter what your budget, Carrie’s got the perfect gift…and it’s something you’d absolutely never have come up with on your own.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I asked her to share a few of her tips and tricks for tracking down the perfect gift for absolutely everyone…especially yourself!

{PS: Carrie is also one of my very favorite Instagrammers, and she’s taking over SMC’s Instagram feed all day today! Head over for a peek into her gorgeous world (and a few more fab gift ideas) – you’re not going to want to miss it.} Read on

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style files: jaci carley of inhabit

I suspect it’s no secret by now that I have a longstanding love of all things Inhabit. Some brands get my heart for a season, or even a year…but with Inhabit, it’s for life. Their fabrics defy all logic – cashmere that’s somehow both lightweight and sumptuous, cotton so soft that you’d swear it was silk – and their designs always strike that perfect balance between edgy and classic. Smart details like reverse seams and asymmetrical side vents make even a simple cashmere crewneck into a collector’s piece.

So, when their impossibly hip designer, Jaci Carley, offered to do a little styling challenge with me, featuring my favorite piece from their spring collection (three cheers for Twitter!), you can guess how quickly I said yes. inhabit cashmere

styling stripes, striped sweater styling, inhabit spring 2014, how to style striped sweater, jaci carley  Read on

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make over my house: designer q&a

{Editor’s Note: Welcome to installment #3 in my home design recap! I’ve teamed up with one of my absolute favorite home stores, Manor Fine Wares, and a few other wonderful sponsors you’ll be hearing about, to complete a total redesign of my main living areas. In case you’re behind, check out the before pics and the design plan lookbook over here.}

As I’ve mentioned in prior weeks, when I first moved into my new space, I was stumped. The layout wasn’t making sense to me, none of my furniture was working, and even though I like to think I have a bit of expertise in the world of style, I knew I was completely out of my league.

But asking for help? From a professional? That seemed even more out of my league. Surely, I was nowhere near the budget of a girl that would hire a designer. And surely they’d look at my little job and laugh me right out of the store. When I first mentioned my idea at Manor, I fully expected to be told I was nuts. But instead, they were so excited! They loved the prospect of working on a lower-priced job, and my designer, Shannon, told me more than once she was really enjoying the challenge of hunting down good design pieces on a budget. I’m choosing to believe her.

Since for most of us, the idea of hiring a designer feels like traveling to a foreign country, I wanted to have Shannon give us the low-down on everything there is to know about hiring a designer. Prepare for some serious design expertise!

SMC: When you’re working with a new client, how do you get started? What is the typical process like?

Shannon: The first session really about just getting to know one another. I like to discuss what the client is interested in, what their living style is like, and what brings them joy. I also like to walk around the space with them and discuss how they came to have the pieces they do and what pieces really mean something to them so we can try to use them in the new plan.

I feel that the key to being a good designer and giving the client the end result they are searching for requires being a good listener – you can determine a lot of what someone is really wanting within their home by listening and reading between the lines. From there I will take measurements and discuss timelines. I try to tell clients that they set the pace of the project, so we can move as slowly or quickly as they like.

Read on

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smc interviews: tim gunn

So, first, I have to break the bad news…I didn’t get to meet Tim Gunn in person after all.

Wah-waaah. I know. But I did get to talk to him on the phone! Here’s how it all happened (I can’t believe I have actual celebrity dish for you!): Tim was coming to Portland to host a Lucky Brand Jeans event, and his PR folks contacted me to see if I’d like to interview him before the event (um, YES!). After our lovely chat on the phone last week, Tim asked me to attend the Lucky Brand event, and to let his people know I was there so he could meet me (!). Convinced we were destined to be BFFs, I showed up, dressed to the nines, of course. But alas, his schedule (or more specifically, I suspect, his handlers) had other plans. So, I had to settle for sitting 6 feet away while he expounded on everything from the tortures of warm-weather dressing (he shares my hatred for capri pants and showing too much skin) to that bitch, Gretchen, from season eight. Not a bad consolation prize…especially when paired with our phone chat. But I’ll admit, I was a bit blue.

{Photo by my darling hubs. Yes, that’s me, over in the right-hand corner. You can always spot me by the sunnies
perched on my head. And PS, aren’t those red jeans adorable on Tim? }

Minor setbacks aside, it turns out that, in person (and on the phone), Tim is every bit the poised, well-mannered guy you want him to be (if considerably skinnier). But he also loves to dish, just a little bit. He has some fantastic stories about behind-the-scenes wars with Heidi and the other Project Runway judges, which entertained me to no end. He’s nothing if not honest, but he has that rare gift for delivering the truth in a way that doesn’t make you hate him. {And as a bonus, it turns out the event wasn’t a total loss: Lucky Brand actually has some extremely cute summer wares, and is offering 20% off online today. Score!}

I know, I know, blah, blah. “Get to the part where Tim tells us the secrets of the fashion universe,” you’re thinking. And so, I shall. But be prepared…it’s long. He’s a chatty guy, that Tim Gunn. I edited for length, but not for content – I didn’t want you to miss a thing! So, this is the world’s longest blog post. You’ve been warned. Read on

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SMC interviews: bobbi brown

Prepare yourselves, friends…I got to meet the Queen of Beauty! That’s right, the one and only Bobbi Brown stopped by Portland yesterday to give a Master Class at my friendly neighborhood Nordstrom. And, since I’m the luckiest girl in town, they let me sit in…and ask a few questions along the way! It was a fantastic event, packed with great tips and info (if you follow me on Twitter, you got the full scoop – I live-tweeted the whole thing!), and the cherry on top of the sundae was this little moment:

{Note me squatting down like an idiot, because Bobbi is a petite little thing!}

Oh, what? Yep, that’s just me, chatting away with Bobbi Brown. No big deal.


The Master Class was an incredibly informative event – I learned tons of tips and tricks. For example:

  • After you apply lip gloss, dab the excess off with your finger and rub onto the tops of your cheeks, along the line at the base of your eye socket. The result is a beautiful glowing sheen, and your lips don’t look goopy!
  • Bobbi is an evangelist when it comes to concealer – or, more specifically, a concealer/corrector combo. You’ll hear more about that below, but her best tip was not to be stingy with the concealer. Apply generously with a brush, then dab with your finger to blend. I tried it this morning – totally works!

I could go on. But instead, I’ll tell you about Miracle No. 2 – in which I got to interview the Queen herself! I asked so many of you for questions in advance, and you delivered (big time!). But I snuck in a few of my own as well. Here we go!

Shopping’s My Cardio: Hi, Bobbi! During the spring and summer, I think most women want to try a cleaner look with their makeup. We’re all hoping to achieve that dewy, make-up free look, but of course, few of us can go makeup-free. What products should we be using, and how should we apply them to get that look?

Bobbi Brown: Tinted Moisturizers are great for the spring and summer because they are lightweight and hydrating, but still provide a sheer veil of coverage, which many of us need. Use one that contains an SPF so that you are protecting your skin from the sun. I also suggest using bronzer in the spring and summer to even out your skin tone and achieve a natural ‘glow’. Lastly, try using a sheer color lip gloss. It’s the perfect way to polish off your look by making the lips look fuller and imparting just the right amount of color without looking too heavy.

SMC: Now that I’m in my 30s, my skin has officially started its aging process, and I’m buying products I never thought I’d need. What do you think changes about a makeup routine when your skin starts to age – or at least, what should change?

BB: First off, great makeup starts with great skincare. Make sure you are using a hydrating face and eye cream. When you get into your thirties, you are working, raising kids, running errands, etc. You’re busy, but a few simple steps can instantly freshen up  your look. Don’t forget to apply corrector and concealer. Corrector is pink or peach based and will instantly lighten up any darkness under the eyes. Concealer is yellow-toned (and should be one to two shades lighter than your foundation) and will brighten up the under eye area making you look instantly refreshed.

Also, be sure to apply blush. Nothing makes a woman look prettier than a pop of blush—it gives the face an instant lift. I suggest layering two, one that is your natural color (the color of your cheeks after exercising) and a second brighter color applied only to the apples of the cheek for a pop of color.

SMC: A few of my readers have asked about your recommendations for skin care. What should women be doing for their skin every day, and in what order? I’m an unrelenting advocate of sunscreen, but beyond that, there are so many mixed messages and contradictory advice out there! Can you give us a definitive routine?

BB: In the morning, gently wash your face and then apply a repair serum.  Over time, serums work to help improve skin’s texture and moisture barrier. Look for one infused with anti-aging ingredients like Vitamin C and peptides. It will help  smooth the look of lines and wrinkles while giving skin a firmer, more lifted appearance. Follow that with a hydrating moisturizer that contains SPF and a hydrating eye cream.

At night, make sure to wash your face well to rinse off all the days impurities. Exfoliating your face 2-3 times a week will help slough off any dead skin you have. Apply the repair serum again and top with a heavier, denser balm that will sooth and repair your skin overnight.

SMC: Dark circles. They’re my cosmetic Achilles Heel, and I know I’m not alone. I can never seem to get the concealer perfectly blended, nor can I get them completely covered. Can you help? I’d also love any tips for covering up dark spots or moles on the face – is there a way to do it without ending up with a face caked with foundation, or must we make peace with our dark spots?

BB: One of the biggest mistakes women make when applying makeup is to use concealer on their face. Concealer should always be one to two shades lighter than your foundation, as its purpose is to brighten under your eyes. You don’t want to use a product that is too light on your face or the coverage will look unnatural. Also, concealer is creamier in texture and therefore is too thick to use on the face. I suggest using a skin tone correct tinted moisturizer/foundation (one that disappears seamlessly into the skin) and then using a blemish cover stick on any area that is particularly dark or discolored for  flawless coverage.

SMC: I have to ask – are you a person who will run to the grocery store without makeup?

BB: While I admit I do leave the house without makeup sometimes, I try not to leave without at least applying concealer, blush, mascara and lip gloss to look polished. If I have a couple minutes more, I will apply eyeliner. Eyeliner is the best way to make your eyes stand out. It makes them look bigger and more defined, which are things you want as you get older!

A huge thanks to Bobbi for taking the time to chat with me, and to all of her peeps (and the truly fantastic folks at Nordstrom) for bringing all this magic together!

Next up – I’m going to test out all of the products Bobbi suggested for me, and report back. Stay tuned!

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our big fall giveaway! fall’s hottest jewelry trends from charm & chain

i’ve been working on this goodie for a while, and am so, so, SO excited to finally share this with you guys!  welcome to our big fall fashion giveaway!  i wanted to offer up something truly extraordinary, something the winner could use as a statement piece all season to really amp up their fall wardrobe.  i think we’ve done it!

my jewelry lust is well documented – i think you’ll all attest to that.  but the truth is that i’m obsessed with good reason – in fashion, especially this year, the jewels really do make the outfit!  for fall, the trends in gems are big, strong, and sometimes hard to navigate.  so, i turned to the experts!

ali galgano owns one of my all-time favorite jewelry shops, charm & chain.  this site is so perfectly curated, it takes virtually all of the guesswork out of my jewelry choices.  she carries everything from fallon and tuleste market to house of harlow and alexis bittar, so there are loads of both splurges and steals – always a good thing.  plus, she’s just the sweetest person ever…which always makes me want to spend more money!

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with fall coming, i asked ali to share her favorite jewelry trends for the season.  i also asked if we could spread a little love and give one of her picks away to a shoppingsmycardio reader.  yep, always thinking of you guys!  so, i’m excited to tell you that that gorgeous tuleste market necklace you see above is up for grabs! (details at the end of this post!!)

now, without further ado, ali’s picks:

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“The Bigger, the Better”: necklaces and earrings keep getting bigger and bigger, as people are pushing the limits of what’s wearable.  any one of these pieces makes a serious statement! (from left: fringe necklace by lulu frost, $375; hammered squares necklace by tuleste market, $170; leather sunburst ring by house of harlow, $45)

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“American West”: we’ve seen a lot of designers turn to the american west for inspiration this season. fringe, turquoise, raw stones–a lot of the new jewelry we’re seeing reminds us of the gold rush.  (from left: bronze seedbead necklace by lee angel, $450; turquoise seedbead necklace by lee angel, $213; dina pyrite earrings by gemma redux, $245; red rock necklace by lizzie fortunato, $557)

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“Neon Pop”: it seems this season that we’ve completely flashed back to the 80s, with big shoulders, sequins, etc on the runway, along with as much neon as possible. we love the futuristic, tough feel the neon pieces have this year—a lot of the florescent pieces we’re seeing this year are paired with gunmetal hardware. (from left: fallon necklace by marlaina stone, $1500; innocence earrings by erickson beamon, $227; siena necklace by dannijo, $238)

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“Chains, Chains, Chains”: from what we’ve seen designers showing this season, the more chains you can cram on your neck and layer with shorter pieces, the more stylish you’ll be. best of all, chain looks can range from punk rock to deliciously girly.  (from left: long crystal and cross necklace by fallon, $250; layered ball and chain necklace by tuleste market, $150 (and our giveaway item!); jac necklace by gemma redux, $369)

i don’t know about you, but i’m crazy excited to add all of these hot fall trends to my wardrobe.  the great thing about most of these pieces is that a little goes a long way.  add a fringed necklace to a tee, mini and boots, and you’ve got a perfect american west look.  pair that tee with distressed jeans and flats, add a little neon pop, and presto, you’re back in the ’80s!

so, about that giveaway! that gorgeous tuleste market necklace that’s up for grabs?  it retails for $150, and is one of my absolute favorites from ali’s picks. i’m dying to pair it with everything from a simple tee to a cocktail dress…it’s sure to add instant glam to any and all ensembles! to win, just leave a comment at the end of this post (as always, if you share on facebook, twitter or any other internet-y place, leave a second comment telling me where you shared to score a bonus entry)!  since this prize is so amazing, we’ll run this contest through sunday night, and announce the winner on monday (9/21). you’ll have to email me within 24 hours to claim your prize, or we’ll find someone else to give it to, so make sure you check back monday!

thanks so much to charm & chain for offering up this truly fabulous prize.  now get those entries in!

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designer 101: adriana castro

*editor’s note:  don’t forget to enter our amazing mother’s day giveaway!

i am so thrilled today to introduce one of my favorite handbag designers, adriana castro.  born in colombia, adriana now lives and designs in miami, creating stunning bags in every color imaginable, entirely from sustainably-raised exotic leathers.  the results are striking, updated classics that you’ll never tire of.

for those of you lucky enough to be in the NYC area, adriana is making a personal appearance at henri bendel today from 11am – 6pm, where devoted fans can meet her, see her newest designs, and even custom design a bag with adriana!  i think i would faint with excitement.

for the rest of us, adriana was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about her designs, her style, and those beautiful exotic leathers!  click over at the right to check out the entire interview (yes, we’re trying something new…).

Read on

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new year, new skin: tips from clarins

perhaps, because i test new skincare products almost daily, i’m overly jaded…but is anyone else completely confused and overwhelmed by the skincare options available today?  honestly, i go to the websites of my favorite companies, and i hardly know where to start – by the time i’ve finished looking, it seems like i need $500 worth of products, and i’ll be spending 30 minutes prepping my skin twice a day, applying potion after potion.  i’m exhausted just thinking about it!

as i’ve mentioned before, clarins is one of my absolute favorite skincare lines.  they’re one of the few companies i can completely trust with new products, and when my skin is tortured by some other product i’ve tested, clarins never fails to soothe the beast.  so, in honor of a new year and a fresh start, i thought i’d check with their chief skincare guru, kara peterson, to weed through the mess and give us her top tips for keeping your skin gorgeous in 2009.  

shoppingsmycardio:  can you help us navigate this crazy world of skincare?  sometimes it gets so overwhelming – how can we know which products are providing which results, and whether we should be using brightening products, anti-aging, moisturizing…the list is endless!

kara:  you know, everyone’s skin is so different – i really recommend sitting down with someone who can look at your skin and guide you.  go somewhere that you can get really helpful info, where someone will really sit down, talk to you and analyze your skin.  that might be your aesthetician, or the department store counter for your favorite skincare brand.  there are so many products, but everyone has specific needs – it will really make a difference if you get some personalized advice.

but in general, remember that a facial serum penetrates down deeper to provide concentrated results, a moisturizer helps to hydrate but also to protect your skin’s top layer.  using a serum first also helps to pull moisturizer deeper into your skin, for better results.  

SMC:  what are some of the biggest mistakes women make with their skin?

kara:  i think the biggest thing is to remember, whether you wore makeup that day or not, you really need to cleanse your skin every single night.  when i’m too exhausted, i use our comfort cleansing water – just soak a makeup pad with it and wipe your face.  it does a great job of cleansing your skin, and is so easy!  (editor’s note:  i keep a bottle of this by my bed…when i just can’t face the nighttime routine, i do exactly as she says…works like a charm!)

SMC:  we’re all trying to cut our budgets these days, and for a lot of us, i’m guessing spa facials are going to be off the table for a while.  what treatments can we do at home, and what should we leave to the pros?

kara:  exfoliation will really help your skin’s cell renewal and keeps your skin clean and revived, so make sure you’re exfoliating 2-3 times a week.  blackheads and milia will eventually go away on their own, so never try to do extractions at home – you’ll damage your skin, and potentially leave permanent marks.  lotus oil is great for treating blackheads, it penetrate pores and cleans out debris.  even using biore strips is still a better option than trying to do an extraction yourself.  

one great trick to use at home:  apply a facial oil before you apply a mask:  the oil will pull the mask further into your skin, and really improve its benefits!

SMC:  what are some simple things we can do in this new year to improve the condition of our skin?

kara:  wear sunscreen!  i know everyone says this, but it’s so important.  also, make sure you have the proper cleanser – keeping your skin clean is the best way to keep it healthy.  and when you’re applying any facial product, be careful that you’re not pulling and tugging on your skin as you apply – be gentle. (editor’s note:  clarins uv plus 40 is the best facial sunscreen i’ve tried.  it’s mineral-based, so no nasty breakouts.  just apply a little on top of your normal moisturizer, and it lasts all day!)

SMC:  if we overdo a treatment and get into trouble, what would you suggest to repair our skin?

kara:  go back to the basics.  look for the most simple, natural products you can find – let go of your anti-aging products, brightening products, anything like that, and give your skin 2-3 weeks of a very gentle cleanser and moisturizer.  (editor’s note:  i always go back to clarins’ sensitive skin line when my skin is upset – it’s amazing stuff!)

a huge thank you to kara and the clarins gurus for helping out with this amazing advice – from my experience, i can tell you that kara’s advice about asking for personalized help is a great tip.  don’t feel obligated to buy everything the expert suggests…you can pick up one product at a time, or find similar products in other lines. but having someone with expertise look at your skin and tell you what you need can be invaluable, and you’ll end up saving money on all of the products you’re buying that are wrong for your skin!

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