Habits of Happiness

Habits of Happiness

For a while now, my friend Lacy and I have been chatting on the topic of "happiness". What is it? Where does it come from? How do we get more of it? What makes us really happy? What makes one person a "happy person" and another not? The questions are endless, but the research, it turns out, is fun! We have in no way become experts, but have learned one thing: Happiness is, among other things, a practice. So like anything else we want to do better, we must make it a habit.
Lacy has been 'practicing' for a long time now, and I feel she has a lot to share on the topic. So when I decided to start this blog, I asked her if she would do regular guest-posts to talk about it. I plan to make a habit of reading them. xoxo, Leigh


Hand Me Up!!

There's something so wonderful about giving and receiving. I pride myself on being a giver. I just love to give for the sake of making someone's day sparkle a little brighter.  Some of my fave things lately are hand me ups.  Ok so yes- I know they are traditionally called 'hand me downs' but as a glass half full kind of girl I am deeming them 'hand me ups'!  My iphone was a hand me up from a girlfriend who upgraded and didn't want to let her old one just lay around. It is now of course, appropriately dressed in a fancy Curly Girl Skin!  You never know when something that is seemingly out of date or used up to you can bring joy to someone else. I mean seriously that phone is never far from me and because I had my own I didn't have to get a contract for my service, double score!    

A few rules of thumb for maximum hand me up happiness:

1.  Don't pass it off as new. There's just no need. The days of secret re-gifting are long gone. Saying --hey I am not using this anymore and thought you might like it is plenty nice enough.

2. Send the good stuff. Your gently-worn-just-not-quite-right-on-you sweater may become your gal pal's all time favorite sweater!

3. Box it up. The potential for a party in a box is huge with hand me ups! And let's face it anything in the mail that is not a bill is a total delight!  Old clothes but new tissue, make a joy to unwrap and discover!  

4. Always include a little handwritten love note. Ahem... on a Curly Girl card of course.

5.Pass it on. If you receive something that isn't quite right for you pass it on to another friend, give it to a homeless person or send it along in your next donation box.


Lacy Young is a professional happy person. You can find out more about her on her blog.

By Admin 02.28.2011 – 11:22 am


Sneak Peek

The Biz and Sketchbook

A little Saturday sneak peek for you! Here is what I have been working on for spring! This one is for 'the journey'.


By Leigh 02.26.2011 – 2:33 pm


Photos © 2011 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Warm Winter Salad

The Dish

Hello! In honor of it being Friday, I thought I would give you a little feast. Feast is such a fun word isn't it? Feast feast feast feast!

I love vegetables. With the exception of cauliflower, I will eat just about anything you put in front of me that sprouted from your garden (sorry cauliflower lovers...it's a texture thing). In fact, oddly and in stark contrast to my undying love for baked goods, I would prefer to eat a salad for lunch or dinner any day. However, the winter months make this more challenging by not only making the selection of seasonal fresh veg a little slim, but frankly I crave warm foods and well, carbs.

I am confident that there is some very reasonable and scientific reason that we want to nourish ourselves with insulating foods when it is cold outside...but tell that to my skinny jeans. So to compromise, I have been turning to 'warm salads'. (I may have made up the term 'warm salads' just fyi) These are salads that have a solid base of raw greens and vegetables mixed with a cooked element like roasted vegetables or starches or topped with a cooked grain like quinoa or brown rice. The combination of hot and cold, crunchy and soft is quite nice and it satisfies both of my cravings.

My friend L.C. found this recipe and brought it over one evening. We played around with it and doctored it up with her very delicious (and super easy!) parchment paper chicken and a few other alterations and came up with the best winter salad we have had yet!

Warm Winter Salad


4 med. leeks, (white and tender green parts only) halved lengthwise

1lb. fingerling potatoes (Trader Joe's "Teeny Tiny 'Tatoes" are perfect for this) cut in halves.

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 breasts)

1/4 C. Olive oil, plus more to coat vegetables

2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tbs or dijon mustard

Mixed greens for 4 (we used butter lettuce mix and maché, but you can use your favorite)

2 ripe avocados

4 oz of pecorino romano cheese

Salt and pepper

Parchment Paper


Pre-heat oven to 375˚. Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and wrap each separately in parchment paper . Bake for 20-25 min. Until chicken is cooked through. Then chop for salad.

Toss leeks and potatoes with a little bit of olive oil (I use a zip lock bag and shake them up) lay them out on a baking tray, cut side down, season with salt and pepper. Cook in the same oven for about 25 minutes, until leeks are lightly brown and tender. Remove leeks, return potatoes for about 10 more minutes until they are also brown and tender.

Cut the roasted leeks cross-wise into 2 inch lengths. Set aside.


In a small bowl wisk together olive oil, mustard and vinegar. Toss your greens with about half of the vinaigrette. Separate greens onto plates.

Halve avocados and slice lengthwise, removing slices with a spoon. Set aside.

Arrange leeks, potatoes, chopped chicken and avocado on top of your plated greens, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and grate or crumble pecorino/romano cheese on top.

Serve and enjoy!


Do you have any favorite ways to get good veg in the cold winter months? Please share!



By Leigh 02.25.2011 – 11:23 am


photo from blackeiffel.blogspot.com

The truth is. (a pep talk)


This May, my company will celebrate its 8th birthday. Curly Girl Design was actually born a couple of years prior, but by the time we got it together enough to do our first tradeshow it was May, 8 years ago. So I like to start there.

Since then, it has been a bit of a wild ride. There have been ups and downs, but fortunately, mostly ups.  By that, I don’t mean there have not been struggles. Most of it has been struggles. But challenging, wonderful, make-you-grow-in-ways-you-never-thought-you-could struggles. Learn-new-things-everyday-if-you-don’t-you-wont-make-it-struggles. Those kind. But I have also been so fortunate to have so much positivity and success surround my little venture that I have gotten used to it a little bit. Comfortable in success. Confident even.

Now, my solid mid-western upbringing reminds me constantly to never get too comfortable in these shoes. I try to remember this and make hard work, humility and gratitude at the core of what I do and how I run my business. I think I have, and I am always grateful. But being good at something feels good.  Success feels good. And after awhile, you get used to it.

These past few months, a few little things have put a few little dings in my shiny new confidence-armor. A few things that have made me question myself. Doubt myself even. Worry just a little that the industry I had bursted onto the scene of was going to have me and my little life’s work, as a snack.

The truth is, that is entirely possible.

The truth is, it is a jungle out there.

The truth is, every one is out in that jungle to make money. And they don’t particularly care that it’s your life’s work.


So, I started thinking about what ‘the truth is’ for me.


This was not, however, before I pouted for a while and got a few good pep talks from a few wise people.

I may have also had a chocolate glazed donut.


The truth for me is this;

I am just getting started.


I have big plans, a big spark and a lot to say.

The truth is I have not even begun to test the limits of my creativity, and am only just a novice-teeny-tiny-baby CEO.

The truth is I have a world to set on fire and at the risk of sounding like Marshall Mathers, I only get one shot, and these little dings are not going to get in my way. They are going to work to my advantage.

The truth is I can do this.


The truth is, I needed that.


Sometimes, actually, most of the time, the greatest teacher is adversity. Our greatest assets are our challenges. Our greatest lessons are our failures.

We just have to breathe through them, think through them, and get better at being exquisitely ourselves. Because nobody is going to do it for us.

Polish up your spark and put it back out there. It really is the only way.



By Leigh 02.24.2011 – 12:03 am


Photos © 2011 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.


The Biz

As our move date to 'big' Marmalade quickly approaches I thought I would keep you abreast of our progress! The spot we are moving into in the town center used to also be a gift shop, so it was easy to imagine it being a retail location, it needed a little "Marmalading" up for it to be everything I imagined. Here is what it looked like before:

Good bones, cute, simple...ok, if I'm being honest, sort of bland in my opinion, but I make greeting cards for a living. I paint everything orange. Who am I to judge? Credibility aside, it was a long way off from my vision so there was work to be done!

So 3 weeks ago, when we took the keys, we opened the door to this:

The previous owner even left us a nice note wishing us well. Always a good sign. My first order of business, regardless of what else I wanted to do with the space, is pull up those dang commercial carpets that have been there for one hundred years and pray to all that is good and holy that there are wood floors under there. Now, we asked around before we got to this point, and the old magic 8 ball 'outlook was not good'...most people, including the landlord suspected concrete or plywood. And even if there were wood floors, they would most likely be coated in asbestos. Wheeee!

So we pulled up the carpet, tested for asbestos (negative!) and:

BAM!!! Perfect, beautiful (downright gorgeous at certain points) rock maple floors that had never, I repeat NEVER been walked on. I'm not going to lie. It brought a tear to my eye. This is as far as I got with the photos before they finished the floors and then swiftly covered them up with protective board while the painters and electrician came, but I assure you they are awe inspiring. This week the painters make it really come to life and then the downstairs carpet gets put down...and we begin the fun stuff!! More photos soon!!

By Leigh 02.22.2011 – 11:36 pm


On Target - Style Board

Style File

Sometimes when I am supposed to be doing other things, I go to Target.

I go just to look mainly, or to get toilet paper or paper towels. It is a totally Zen experience for me (provided I have not made the mistake of going on a Saturday morning near Christmas or at any point in August before classes start). I just sort of zone out and take it all in. I am sure a few of you can relate, this state of Zen is also achievable at places like HomeGoods/TJMaxx/Marshalls, the bookstore, and occasionally, the super market (but only fancy supermarkets... with cheese departments...). Today, it was Target. And it was perfect.

Even though it is snowing here, (sigh) the good people of Targét (tar-shjay) were rolling out all things spring. This includes bathing suits, of course, which is to assume that it will ever not be winter here in Boston. And that I will ever feel like being in a bathing suit ...but that is another matter. I was delighted to see all of the ditsy prints and ginghams and lovely summerish frocks made of jersey! Brights and tiny prints and anything made of jute snap me instantly into longer days and windows open and lilacs in bloom. Here's a little sample of the things that are ushering in spring:

1.) The fedora trend has been going strong for several seasons now, and I have to say, I still really like it! I can't personally pull it off (too much hair!) but I am always wishing I could. Especially with this cute straw one with a floral band!

2.) This Mossimo Supply Co. Smocked Back Dress is a perfect spring/summer staple! Love it alone, or layered with a camp shirt or little cardi. Great for beach days with flip flops or outdoor dinner with wedges. Also comes in a perfect green color!

3.) Bring a pop of color to a simple tank with this Crocheted Bead Necklace.

4.) This Gingham tote is the perfect thing to take to the fleas or farmers market. Cuffed jeans, white tee and Chuck Taylors and you're off!

5.) I have grown fond of funky colored plastic watches as plucky accessories but I like them on the bigger side and worn as a bracelet. This Teal Bracelet Watch is pretty close to perfect!

6.) Loving grey and white gingham. This lightweight scarf is a perfect way to perk up any outfit.

7.) Perfect ballet-flat shape? check. Perfect yellow color? check. Perfect way to brighten your day? Mossimo Odell Flats in Bright Yellow: all of the above.

8.)This little zip clutch from the Global Girlfriend line is a great mix of modern and ethnic. Just love the natural linen with a pretty pattern and a button to boot!

9.) These Dolce Vita for Target Rope Wedges are sure to find their way into my wardrobe at some point. I love the combination of leather and rope. A perfect chunky shoe to wear with a flirty dress.

10.) Ditsy prints can read 'grandma' or 'toddler' really fast if not executed well. This Mossimo Ditzy Top is done oh-so right and would be perfect layered with a tank and some slim cargos!

All items were spotted at my local Target store, which I love. They are also available on their website , which I don't love. (terrible to navigate btw, if anyone from Target is out there reading...terrible! no fun at all! just sayin'.)

Have you spotted anything fun for spring? Let me know!



By Leigh 02.21.2011 – 1:42 pm


A Confession.


Back at Christmas I posted a little "Holiday House Tour" and you guys were so nice with your praise and compliments! I have continued to field so many requests for posts about home decor and personal style that I was beginning to feel like I had something of a knack for this. This morning, I had to come to terms with why things will never be quite what I would like them to be in this area of my life. I have to be honest with myself. And with you.

So, I have a confession to make.

I have Seasonal Attachment Disorder. (S.A.D for short.)

My tree is still up. MY TREE IS STILL UP!!! I mean seriously! We are in total fire-hazard territory here. Coach says you just have to give the thing a dirty look at this point and it will drop all of it's needles. (Though he has made little effort to take it down either...)

Now, that you have had a chance to catch your breath, you should know that I have strict one-month policy regarding Christmas trees. If we are going to bring this whole tree into our home, I want to keep it up for at least one month from the time we get it so it has the appropriate amount of time to sparkle in our midst. You should also know that we got the tree on December 12th. We are solidly in the two-month range here. Part of the reason it is still up is logistical, trash/recycle guys come on Thursdays and will only take trees every other week and I have been traveling a ton this past two months...but a hefty bit of the reason it is still there is because I just love Christmas decor! And it was so pretty! And I have nothing else to put in that corner...and...

Oh! My mother would never let this happen! That tree would be down, ornaments packed away, and in the mulcher a tidy 7-9 days after Christmas (she is not devoid of feelings...). In fact, if you are reading this and know my mom, please don't tell her. She will be embarrassed. She has done a lot of bragging about me.

But there's more.

If you were to ring my doorbell today, and I invited you in, you would see this:

Yes those are pumpkins. Well, gourds to be precise. Yes, they have been there since Halloween.

The issue here is that they are so darn pretty! Plus, not rotten at all, which engages my practical side. I mean, it's terrible to throw out something that is perfectly good, and still pretty (no, I am actually not a hoarder). Plus, they are white, so I figured we could pass them off as "winter gourds"...it is technically still winter. Do you see the illness here?

So there you have it. I stand here before you, deeply imperfect and possibly in need of help. And I still can think of nothing sadder than a dried up old Christmas tree sitting on the side of the road.

Next to a pumpkin.

Oh boy.


By Leigh 02.17.2011 – 1:11 pm


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

She’s Crafty! - ‘Delightful Drawers’ Tutorial

She's Crafty

Oh man did this day get away from me! Ah well...the beat goes on...

Awhile back while we were putting together the new showroom my friend Lizzy was helping me with the initial vision for the space given our small budget and small timeline. Usually, between the two of us and a shoestring we can come up with something pretty fun, so after spending the better part of a day (we may have gotten carried away) in the fabric store picking out all sorts of different wacky colors and fabrics to make pillows for the seating area, we wanted to bring that collage-y feel into the rest of the space. Naturally, we spent the other part of the day in IKEA (that's Swedish for budget-friendly heaven) waiting for inspiration to strike.

We needed storage, but it needed to be cute. We found lots of storage, but not a lot of cute. So we decided to make it cute. The result was this delightful set of drawers that ended up being so fun, we took them out of the office and used them as furniture! They take a bit of time, but not much else and the possibilities are endless!

You will need:

1.) Loose craft paper. I ended up using what I could find at Paper Source in a hurry, but this would be really cute with maps, wallpaper, ephemera or even wrapping paper! If you are using scrapbook paper, you will need two sheets per drawer, and some masking or painters tape.

2.) Super 77 Spray Mount. I like this one because it is serious business. It goes on light, and stays put.

3.) Mod Podge. An old friend. I did not use this on the ones pictures, but would recommend a coat to keep the paper from getting too worn.

4.) Scissors

5.) Cute knobs. I used cheap crystal ones from Home Depot, but any drawer pulls will work.

6.)The ALEX or VIKA ALEX drawer unit from IKEA

7.) A drill.

8 & 9.) not pictured: a pencil, brush for the Mod Podge and a ruler.


The first thing you want to do is get your paper figured out. Decide which paper is going on which drawer and lay them out. If you are using scrapbook paper, or pieces, match them up how you want them to look and tape the seams with masking or painters tape (on the front). Set aside.

Open the package of the drawer unit (make sure all of the pieces are there first! so annoying if they are not) and pull out the drawer front pieces.

Match one set of paper up with one drawer front. Take the paper you want to use and turn it over, trace the drawer on the back with a pencil and cut it out. It is important to be very precise in your cutting because you want the fit to be exact.

Lightly spray both the drawer front (make sure you are spraying the right side) and the back of the paper you just cut. Carefully lay the paper on the drawer front so that it matches up. Smooth from the center out. If you have taped the papers together on the front, carefully remove the tape at this time. Repeat this process for all of the drawer fronts.

For protection, brush a light coat of Mod Podge Matte over each drawer front, paying special attention to the edges and watching for bubbles. Let dry.

Assemble the piece of furniture according to the directions. Do not permanently install the drawers on the rails yet.

After your drawers are fully assembled, grab your drill, ruler and pencil. find the middle of the drawer and about an inch down. Drill a hole that will suit whatever drawer pull you have chosen. Attach the pulls as directed.

Install your drawers on their rails and Voila!! You have a unique and totally functional piece of DIY delight!

Have fun!


By Leigh 02.16.2011 – 7:26 pm


Photos © 2011 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Fleas Please!

Photos and Inspired

Hello all and happy Tuesday! So, today I am going to share one of my favorite past times with you and one of my favorite sources.

I love old things. I like meaningful things and pretty things. If I can find something that is all of the above, then watch out! I like to include some well loved items into whatever creative project I am working on whether it be vintage ephemera in a new card, or unique and unexpected containers to display product in at the shop or vintage furniture or objects to include into an interior space to make it feel more like home. My taste leans vintage, though I have never been able to really pull off the 100% vintage look. I am still very much drawn to modern lines so my goal is always to beautifully marry the two and hover somewhere in between. Old things have had other lives, past places, other owners. They have history. They have secrets. I love to pepper a space with beautiful or interesting things that have secrets. It's all very Oscar Wilde!

So here I am in the dead of winter, trying to get big Marmalade all up and running and looking unique and fabulous and there is not a flea market in sight for months! Ack!!

Enter Stephanie Pernice. Stephanie has been my longtime source for unique finds from all over and together with her partner John Warren (who handmade my kitchen island!) she has taken over and created one of the area's best indoor vintage marketplaces. Which was, fortunately for me, open last Sunday! The SOWA (South of Washington) Vintage Market has a vast array of vendors selling everything from mid-century modern furniture, to antique jewels and maps to lovingly restored and painted hutches and vintage clothing. It's a picker's paradise! I am so glad that they are holding some winter dates that I had to spread the word! And take pictures!

You can find them both online, or here in Boston, but incase you can't make it you can also find them at the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays in the summer in New York. Thanks Steph and John you are lifesavers! (Well, retail lifesavers!)

Do you have any great sources to share! Favorite haunts? Junk shops? Fairs? Fleas!?? Please share!


By Leigh 02.15.2011 – 6:06 pm


Artwork and writing is © 2010Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Final Marmalade Logo!

The Biz

Happy Valentine's Day all!! Hope this day finds you feeling loved and eating (just a little) some yummy chocolate! I spent the weekend finishing up the new Marmalade logo and think I totally love it! Thank you all for your input, it was very helpful. Ultimately I ended up combining elements from a few different samples, the "M" from (my fave) #2, the bolder "d" from #1 and the body of the overwhelming favorite, #4. Man, you guys are suckers for a little flower!! Ha! Actually, I am too...obviously.

I did some more flowers to be used throughout the rest of the suite and really love the options. I included our interior color pallet to give you an idea of what some of the final elements will end up looking like.

I can't wait to see this big, beautiful swirly new logo up on our big new sign!! It's going to take forever to have made, so I will have to learn patience, but until then... let me know what you think!


By Leigh 02.14.2011 – 2:48 pm


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