Photos © 2010Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

The State of the Studio

The Biz and Sketchbook

This past week I finished up the artwork for the new line of organic t-shirts we are releasing in January. (go ahead, squeal! they are gonna be so cute!) I dusted off the old India ink and dip pen and had a blast revisiting calligraphy. Pen and ink is a medium I used to illustrate and write with pretty regularly, but it has not made its way into my work in a long while. I love letters and words and the shapes of them. It was fun to take some of my favorite "Curly Girlisms" and bring them to swirly life with this old friend.

This is some of what my studio looks like this morning. I would love to say that this is a huge mess, but if I'm honest, this is pretty tidy for my studio. I, like most, have the running list always going in the back of my head: clean out closet, organize studio, go through files, match up socks, clear out garden, put away hose... and then there is the list that I actually write down of all the things I need to get accomplished in a day or week which I won't begin to stress you out with. The point is that I am in a constant state of lists. Mental, physical, emotional, psychological... you name it.

Don't get me wrong I love lists! I love how they look, I love crossing things off of them...I actually love going back to look at them at a later date, sort of like a diary. But some days I feel like they are the boss of me.

The only place that is free of the clutter of lists and things to do, for me, is my studio. Ironically, it is chalk full of other kinds of clutter. This clutter does not have the same effect on me that 'list clutter' does. I don't feel stressed, or worried about this untidy stuff. I love to look at it, it makes me happy and inspired and yes, I prefer for it to be tidy, but somehow I am more comfortable with letting it live it's own clutter life. Like free-range clutter.

Lacy and I have been tossing around ideas for this month's Habits of Happiness and the idea of non-attachment came up. It got me to thinking about what I am attached to versus what I am attaching myself to. I think they are different. Right now, in this moment, I am attaching myself to my lists. They are defining me.

What I am attached to are my family and friends, Lucy and oddly, all the little crap in my studio that makes me feel clever and creative and fun. So, I am exploring the idea of being 'attached to' what makes me feel whole and happy and how to put that at the top of the lists that I need to make things work. It's a delicate balance and tricky thing to negotiate with yourself at times. But like anything worthwhile, it is a practice.


By Leigh 11.30.2010 – 10:05 am


A Folk Tale - Style Board

Style File

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a delicious holiday and are finding a moment here and there to yourself in this mad-dash beginning of the holiday season. It is about now that I start pulling out the 'cozy' things. Not necessarily sweats, but clothes and accessories and home decor that make me feel safe and snug. For me, that involves lots of colors and layers. I know, surprise!!

Nothing satisfies this craving for me more than folky or bohemian patterns, textiles and prints. Top-stitched with crewelwork? Don't mind if I do! Bedecked with studs of silver and gold? Yes please! Edged with fur? (faux for me) Nordic in nature? Crazy Colorful? I'll take two! Seriously, I get short of breath just thinking about it!

Admittedly, this board was more than a little, inspired by Anthro's Karelia Coat. This thing of beauty is totally over the top and will totally and gloriously transform me into one of the VonTrapp family singers. Ok, I may just have to wear it to the grocery store...but I might sing a tune while doing it.

I am working on some big stuff over here for you guys...and am always interested in what you'd like to see more of. I love getting your feedback and love that you guys are reading and checking this out! Thanks! So, for now...enjoy this folk fantasy!


1.) Zhivago Embroidered Tee ~ Sundance Catalog

2.) Semillion Flats ~ ModCloth

3.) Pinwheel Earrings ~ Sarah Richardson Jewelry

4.) Alegria Necklace ~ Charm & Chain

5.) Buffalo Jill Belt ~ ModCloth

6.) Folk Scarf ~ French Connection OH! How I love this!

7.) Scallop Detail Leather Jacket ~ TopShop

8.) Metalic Fold Over Clutch ~ Banana Republic

9.) American Rag Hats ~ Macys

10.) Karelia Coat ~ Anthropologie  Can you hear the singing!??

11.) Convertible Patchwok Hobo ~ Fossil

12.) Days Gone By Candle in Fireside ~ Anthropologie

By Leigh 11.29.2010 – 5:25 pm


Mug or Candle style may vary. Sorry, we cannot let you pick. There are too few good surprises these days anyhow...

Free Stuff!

The Biz

Even though I am growing to hate the term "Cyber Monday" I am not feeling clever enough to come up with something better at the moment. As I am catching up on emails from the holiday and am feeling the wind on my face from the bargains and give-aways stampeding through my inbox. I'm thinking: "I want to give things away too!" And so we are! (the beauty of being the boss!)

You deserve a treat, so let us give you one! While you shop for friends and family, let us send you home with a candle to light, or a mug to fill with hot chocolate (and marshmallows of course) while you wrap presents!

Starting now and ending Monday (11/29) at midnight, any order of $25 or more on our website will receive a free Curly Girl mug or candle (while supplies last!) as our gift to you to start this season off right! Just type the code: ONEFORME in the notes section of your order. Happy Shopping!


By Leigh 11.28.2010 – 8:59 pm


Song Lyrics from "May the Light of Love" by David Roth

Saying Grace


Happy Thanksgiving All! I hope you are with family and friends, friends who have become family or the reverse. I hope this holiday of togetherness provides you with a moment to pause and reflect and find some grace in wherever you find yourself these days. I like that we have an opportunity for gratitude built into our national calendar, and for me it is always a reminder of how good being grateful feels. It always has a way of putting things into sharper perspective. To be thankful for the things that we have, for the light of love in our lives, instead of being focused on what we need to 'do' or 'fix', 'find', 'create' or 'make better'.

You are exactly where you are supposed to be and you have everything you need.

It is a helpful mantra, and though often short lived, (for me anyway) always provides a good shift.

So with that, I wanted to share my favorite grace to say when sitting down to eat with family and friends. It is part of the lyrics of a song by folk singer David Roth and it always makes me feel grateful and grace-full.

Enjoy the feast.


By Leigh 11.25.2010 – 1:16 pm

1 Comment

Image courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger via Mary Ruffle


By Leigh 11.23.2010 – 11:58 pm


photos by Tiffany Kirchner, property of Curly Girl Design, Inc.

Calling all Editors ....Again!

Photos and The Biz

Laura is putting the finishing touches on our 2011 wholesale catalog, and we need a cover 'girl"!! Help us make a quick decision on which of these four images should grace the cover of our first "big girl" catalog!! This is last minute, so, of course your speedy reply is helpful!

Thanks! I will let you know who wins!

By Leigh 11.23.2010 – 2:01 pm


It’s a Plaid, Plaid World - Style Board

Style File

Oh how I love plaid! Pretty much anything with a touch of tartan is chic in my book. It, of course cannot just be any check but the perfect color combo can send me reeling! Just ask the growing stack of vintage stadium blankets that is piling up in our den.

Though I love it all year round, the late fall and winter really are plaid's finest hour. Gracing holiday attire, keeping laps and fannies warm at football games and regattas, wrapping wooly around chilly necks. I sure would wear it in a boat, I would love to see it on a goat... ok, you get the point.

I am, (oh, I'll say it...) mad for plaid.

Lucky me then, because this year designers have just out done themselves! From Marc Jacobs' indulgent scarf to MAC cosmetic's un-earthly cool packaging (I mean, it's all but an homage!) to the tried and true Pendleton who is always there for my classic stadium blanket needs.

So, my loves, as you pack your picnic baskets and head off to give thanks this week, stick a little plaid in your pack and start the season off right!

Here are some of my favorite finds this year. Love them? Let me know!


1.) Vintage Pendleton Coat ~ Sally Jane Vintage on Etsy

2.) Gairloch Cushion ~ Toast

3.)Cambria Tartan Flats ~ Coach

4.)Flannel Hottie Cover ~ Toast

5.) Tartan Pot Holders ~ Anthropologie

6.)Kim Duck Boots ~ Sporto at Endless

7.) Maple Falls Sheet Set ~ Anthropologie (I mean, are you KIDDING me!!?)

8.) Vintage Red Flannel Bag ~ Free People

9.) Marc by Marc Jacobs Scarf ~ Piperlime

10.) Pendleton Roll Wrap ~ Urban Outfitters

11.) Merino Throw ~ Pendleton

12.) 5 Sassy Coral Lasies Lipgloss Kit ~ MAC at Macys

By Leigh 11.22.2010 – 4:34 pm


Never Underestimate a Sweeping Romantic Gesture


I try not to blog on the weekends to give you guys a little break (and so I will actually do laundry) but I could not resist sharing this with you. I just think it is so so sweet and magical! While surfing, I stumbled upon a blog called The Rockstar Diaries, and while I may be the last to hear of this treasure, thought I would share it anyway. Taza and husband are so charming and adorably styled! I sort of have a crush on them. This is a video of them, by For You Love Me, which I am also now obsessed with. Beautiful world they are creating here.

Happy Sunday! Hope you are having pancakes!


By Leigh 11.21.2010 – 9:14 am


Photos © 2010 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Beautiful Bolognese

The Dish

My love for Bolognese knows no bounds. Seriously, if you are of the opinion at all that I am a nice person, do not put yourself in between me and a bowl of my favorite ragù. I'm not kidding. Ask my husband.

I have made it my quest and my practice to make the best from-scratch meat sauce of all time and you, my lucky friends, are about to be the recipients of the recipe. Think of it like the holy grail of hearty dishes. The pinnacle of pasta sauces, the...ok, I am getting carried away (and a little proud of myself).

There are a few variations in this recipe. While Bolognese is traditionally made with pork, or a mixture of beef and pork, my recipe uses only beef (feel free to mix it up!). Also, the sauce usually has some sort of milk or cream in it. I chose to leave it out, mainly because we have a dairy-free family member, but also because I think it is rich enough as is. I took some inspiration from my recent trip with the seasoning by adding in a healthy portion of Moroccan cinnamon to the meat and I think it is what puts this version over the top. It is really something special.

Another thing about this recipe is that it is mostly prep. If you do not own a food processor then either run right out and buy one, or go take a long look in the mirror and wonder how you have existed this long without one. The key, I think is the mincing. Which, unless you have monk-like qualities, can be intense. Not that it's not worth it! It is. Just maybe have your skill-level-appropriate teenager earn their allowance here or something.

So, enough with the bragging, and on to the goods.

Enjoy this Friday feast and let me know what you think!



Pasta Bolognese

serves 4 - 6


1 leek- sliced thin on the slicing setting on the food processor, or minced

1 medium onion -minced

3 garlic cloves -minced

3 carrots - minced

1/4 lb. pancetta - minced

2 C. (about 1/4lb) of either shitake or crimini mushrooms (not dried) - wiped of grit and minced

2 tbs. good quality olive oil (I used the house olive oil from Peacock Pavillions - Thanks Maryam!)

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary - destemmed

5 sprigs of fresh thyme - destemmed

2.5 lbs of fresh, organic ground beef (90% lean or less)

2 heaping tbs. of ground cinnamon

1 tbs ground fennel seeds (optional)

1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1 8 oz can of tomato paste

2 cups dry red wine (or whatever is open)

1 tbs. brown sugar

Salt & Pepper



I personally think that one of the secrets to this dish is the mincing, so if you have the time, mince everything separately and set aside in separate bowls. It keeps everything organized and the flavor building gradually. If you don't have time, you can certainly mince the garlic, onions, carrots and mushrooms together. I would mince the pancetta separately and really do encourage the slicing adaptor for the leek. It adds something to the final sauce.

In a heavy-bottomed 7qt. pot add olive oil, bay leaves and herbs and cook until you can smell them, then add the onion and garlic, pancetta and leek and cook until slightly softened. Add the rest of the vegetables and the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to mix.

Raise the heat a little and add the ground beef. At this point, take your cinnamon and fennel seeds if you are using them and toss them right on top of the meat. Brown the meat and break up the clumps, as you do this the cinnamon and fennel will incorporate into the meat. You should also add a little salt and pepper at this point. Cook until the meat is browned.

Gently pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste and wine and bring the sauce to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1.5 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally and tasting for salt and pepper. This sauce wants to be very thick, so the longer it cooks the better.

Before you cook your pasta, take the sauce off the heat and let it stand. Stir in the brown sugar. This sauce is even better the next day...and the day after that...


To Serve:

You can use any pasta you love. I really like it with the traditional Tagliatelle, but the pasta in the photos is just something that looked fun at the grocery store. It held the sauce well too. Make about a pound, or a pound and a half of pasta, as this is a large batch of sauce. I have also been known to eat a bowl of Bolognese all by itself. Not lying.

Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or fresh ricotta and enjoy!!

By Leigh 11.19.2010 – 3:00 pm


Images courtesy of

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By Leigh 11.18.2010 – 5:44 pm


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