Photos © 2012 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

A few of my favorite things - Atlanta

A Few of My Favorite Things and Photos and Gypsy Soul and Brick & Mortar

Well hello there! Just thought I would pop in and say hello before you head out to a beautiful summer weekend! I am back from a week at the Atlanta Gift Show and heading out to the first annual Curly Girl Design Pool Party! (sorry, there will be no photographic evidence of this fun event...I love my staff and respect their rights to be lovely and freely in their skivvies without me lurking around with a camera). Now, if only the sun would come out!

Because we spend so much time on the road at tradeshows (2-3 weeks a year each in Atlanta and New York alone!) we try to get out and about and do things while we are there... over time we develop favorites and spots that we return to time after time. This last trip was no different, in fact, I had our dinner reservations all mapped out before we set foot on the plane! Surprised? I didn't think so. Recently we have discovered a few gems that I thought I would share.

Cacao, Virginia Highlands

This is not a place we went for dinner, but we stumbled upon it while poking around one of our favorite neighborhoods: Virginia Highlands. We were drawn in by the rich smell of chocolate and the sparkly confections and were lulled into a swoon by the beautiful interior and the perfect packaging of the most delicious delicacies we had ever laid eyes on. It was like walking into Paris and being greeted by the "Candy Man" scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory...."Who can make the sunriiiiiisse...." (only sung in french by Gene Kelley instead of that other guy....ok you get the drift).

The darling girl working behind the counter explained to us that they were a local-to-Atlanta bean to bar company focused on hand-crafted chocolates with the hightest quality sustainable ingredients.

And then I ate the head off of a buddha. A dark chocolate creme ginger buddha. I nearly cried it was so good.

Everything about this place was lovely. We boxed up some buddhas for the road and promised to return.

If you go: Stay awhile. Sit with a cup of their Azteca Aphrodesiac Drinking Chocolate and pretend you are in the movies.

Be neighborly: Don't miss Bella Cucina's flagship store and sandwich shop, Porta Via, right nextdoor!

Sun in My Belly, Kirkwood (Decatur Area)

This is an honest-to-goodness "a friend of a friend of a friend told me about this place..." recommendation. (The best kind - thanks Margo!)

A tiny bit off the beaten path, but not but 5 miles out of downtown, this is an absolute gem. Packed to the gills with hand-made decorations and farm to table amazingness, you will not leave here hungry or uninspired.

Sun in My Belly (best name ever right?) began as a catering company specializing in "unique dining affairs" featuring real, good food. They opened their neighborhood cafe (in an old hardware store!) for brunch and take-away at first and were just opening up for dinner when we went for the first time. We have been back twice now and will be back again! Every single thing on the menu looks delicious and everything we have tried has been. Make a reservation (or heck, have a party there...they do special events!) and prepare to enjoy!

If you go: They always have a few dazzling options on the dessert menu, but do yourself a favor and ask if they have coconut cream pie. You won't be sorry.

Be neighborly: There is not much in the way of neighbors where they are, but you can BYOB if you want (they now have a wine list also) and if it's nice...sit outside under the twinkle lights!

So, there you go, those are my current Atlanta faves...though there are more! Hope you enjoy and let me know if you get to one!


By Leigh 07.20.2012 – 9:36 am


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

Outstanding in the Field

Photos and Gypsy Soul and journal and The Dish

Hello!! I am back from a little vacation having achieved a dose of much-needed R&R (and a tiny amount of sunshine!) on the beautiful island of Oahu. I am getting caught up here at CGD and Marmalade (back up is the price one must pay for said R&R...) and feeling a little bit more like I know what day it is again.

While I was in Hawaii, I was treated to some of the most lush and incredible landscapes I have ever had the privilege of laying eyes on. I was also able to enjoy some of the magnificent fruits and nuts and fresh delicious fish that are so readily available there. Eating wholly and locally is a growing passion of mine and the more I learn about food, the more interested I become in the people and places who grow it.

For a few years I had been reading about what Outstanding in the Field was doing, and how they were growing and I was dying to get to one of their events. So last year, for a friend's 40th birthday, we treated ourselves (and her) to what would end up being one of the top 5 favorite things I have ever done.

You would think hosting an intimate dinner for 200 strangers in an orchard or on a beach or in a pasture would be something of a fiasco, but with almost 10 years of experience putting these dinners together, the team of food gypsies at OIAF is a well-oiled merry-making machine. The recipe is simple: 1 local farm + 1 local chef (or restaurant) + 200ish local food lovers + a sky full of stars = an evening to remember!

Using only local (most as local as a few feet from your chair!) ingredients and providers and the vision of a local chef, the dinners have garnered something of a cult following. In fact, the night we were there (at a peach orchard in New Hampshire) we met people from all over the country who had made an OIAF dinner part of their yearly travel. In fact, while we met lots of first -timers like ourselves, I was amazed at the number of people who had more than one or two of these under their belt!! OH! And about that belt... mine had to be loosened!! The food was nothing short of divinity. From the local oysters to the peach pork tenderloin...even the wine was made by one of the families in attendance!

When we first arrived on a late August evening, we were loaded onto a little tractor-tram and wheeled through the grounds of the peach farm. It had been raining off and on most of the week, and there was some speculation that we would be under a tent instead of the night sky so we wore our wellies and each brought a plate from home as instructed. Once we arrived at the site, there were sparkling peach beverages, fresh oysters and the afternoon sun graced us with her presence. We chatted with other guests and heard a little OIAF history from founder Jim Denevan. The staff was super friendly (and relieved that they had made a game-time decision to not put up the tent!) and seemed just as enchanted as the rest of us with this glorious evening.

After awhile we were piled back onto the tram and ferried into the peach orchard where we came upon the most incredible thing I have seen (in all my days of catering and doing events)...what seemed to be a single long table snaked down a row in the orchard stretching farther than they eye could see set to the decks with service for a 5 course meal! I am pretty sure I made an audible squeal. We ate family style well into the night and left full, newly minted lifers. I (heart) OIAF 4-ever!!

Locations and dates were announced on March 1 on their website. Tickets go on sale on the 20th. TICKETS SELL OUT FAST so you will want to be poised at noon on the 20th if you want to get them. I may have to call in sick that day....

It is a bit of a splurge, but I promise you will not have a more magical dinner with 200 people you have never met before. You will also leave with a renewed awareness of the bounty around you and what the earth has to give in your area. You will also get to enjoy the creativity and genius of a chef in your area that has a passion for that bounty. It is all in all good soul-loving stuff that I couldn't get much more enthusiastic about.

Follow them on Twitter for updates and let me know if you end up going (or have been) ! Coach and I are gonna put our finger on the map this year and try somewhere new!


By Leigh 03.13.2012 – 3:03 pm


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

Scatter Joy Signing - Appleton, WI

Photos and The Biz and Gypsy Soul

This past weekend I enjoyed my first trip to the lovely town of Appleton, WI for an in-store signing at Scatter Joy. The event was an absolute blast! Owners Janet and Lori went above and beyond, far and away, and way over the top with cute fun stuff for me and their customers!! Their friends and family were just so lovely and I felt so welcome that I can't believe I ever left!! When I arrived Friday, the girls met me at the airport with some of Wisconsin's finest (cheese curds!!) and whisked me away for a day of fun, complete with a visit to see the Compassion Project which both of their daughters participated in and just took my breath away.

Side bar: What do you suppose the effects are of having 7000 people meditating on the idea of 'compassion' at the same time? Pretty awesome to think about what is possible there.

That evening the weather was perfect and we were treated to a lovely dinner at the home of a more than lovely friend and customer of the shop. (Thanks Missy!!)

After a night of rest, and much time spent determining my 'sleep number' at the hotel (I'm a solid 35!), I arrived to the shop, which was most adorable and completely decked out with Curly Girl!!

Do not miss the chance to visit this shop if you are anywhere NEAR the area! It is stuffed to the gills with colorful and creative treasures! I will do a little shop tour soon. I had such a wonderful time and am so grateful so many folks came out to see me! It was nice to be back in the Midwest for a moment and just revel in the easy conversation and simple nice-ness of everyone. Thanks to all who came, all who helped and all who made this possible!

Until next time Wisconsin....


By Leigh 06.09.2011 – 11:14 am


photos courtesy of Lacy Young & Michelle Allen

Year of Creative Development Part 1 - Artfest 2.0

Gypsy Soul and Inspired

About this time last year, I was packing and getting ready to leave for the first part of my self-declared 'Year of Creative Development'. My first stop was Teesha Moore's Artfest . If you are just joining this journey with me you can see the beginnings of it here, here, here and here. My goal is to share my experiences with you all and chronicle it for myself in the process. It was a ground breaking year for me and a really good excersise in getting my creative mojo back- a much needed supplement for those who are 'creative for a living', I think.

My experience at Artfest was a great one and in no small part due to the classes I chose and the teachers who taught them. My class this time was "Getcha Paint On" with Michelle Allen. Michelle and I have known each other for a while through the tradeshow circuit and over the years have become good friends. I love her work, and admire her vast creativity and apparent creative abandon in her work. So, needless to say I jumped at the chance to take a class with her! If nothing else, I knew it would be entertaining!

Her class, while indeed entertaining, was so much more! The focus was to try new materials to achieve new textures in our painting. We were given a small canvas, a linoleum printmaking block and some collage materials. We all had paints, brushes and other materials that we were free to use and Michelle had brought black acrylic latex caulk (yes, like from Home Depot!) for us to play around with. Oh what fun!!

The caulk acts as a fast-drying paste that you can either paint over or paint with! I, of course being graphically inclined, had to try to make lines with it (which was less creative abandon and more creative control-freak, but whatever.) and I used my linoleum block to make a statement at the center of my canvas which I had caulked and painted.

I spent an inordinat amount of time carving the letters out of that block, but I really liked the result. The caulk as paint and as texture was such a revelation and really added depth to my painting! I also used some old book pages, and maps to collage a platform for my little quote (affixed with gel matte medium) and finally used some random finials as compass points and attached them to the sides of my canvas for some three-dimensionality.

I have no idea what I will do with my masterpiece, but I had the most fun making it. I felt relaxed (except for when I was carving my linoleum half the day) and had a blast just making something. I loved learning about new materials and having a loose direction and just going with it! Michelle's teaching style is fun, creative and loose. She is so approachable and flexible that you want to just spend days making a mess and creating things with her. Her creativity seems to be endless. If you get the chance to take a class or workshop with her, it is worth your while. She will be teaching several classes at this year's Artfest....if you are going, please pop in on her and say 'hello'!

For more info on Michelle, check out her website and her blog. I will also be posting a tour of her fabulous studio here in a couple of days so stay tuned!

Next Stop: Mary Engelbriet's Home Companion Workshop in St. Louis!!


Have a great Monday!! xoxo

By Leigh 03.21.2011 – 12:14 pm


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

Hotel Tour - Hotel Monaco, Portland, OR

Photos and Gypsy Soul

It turns out, my job involves a lot of travel. Whether it be traveling for tradeshows, art events, signings or meetings, I end up out-of-town nearly 25 weekends a year, sometimes more! Now, I love to travel, I love exploring new places, chatting with new people, trying interesting restaurants, and yes, I have a penchant (and quite a collection) for those tiny hotel soaps and shampoos. I do not love being away from my home and family so much, being out of my excersise routine, eating in airports and just the general 'catch up' that being out of my routine requires. After awhile, no matter how much you love to travel, travel for work starts to take a little toll and your inner homebody starts to crave some attention. Instead of daydreams of leisurely weeks at sunny exotic beaches with cabana service, you find yourself concocting fantasies of sleeping in your own bed, with a full-sized pot of coffee waiting for you, quality time with your washer and dryer and full afternoons of working in the garden and organizing closets. Sexy right?

So it is a delight when every now and again you find something really special during routine travel. Now, I do not often do hotel tours, but could probably fill a whole blog with them alone. I love fancy hotels. I love regular hotels with fancy details. I love it when my needs in a situation are cleverly anticipated. I think it's because I love customer service and how very simple and lovely it can be to work hard to make people feel welcome, and hotels are the perfect storm for that opportunity. The Hotel Monaco (a Kimpton Hotel) is the perfect example of how very lovely the experience can be.

Not long ago, I began going out of my way to stay at Kimpton hotels, because in my experience, they 'get it'. For the most part, I have been totally happy with my decision thus far. When she heard I was going to Portland, Amy, our production manager, suggested I try the Hotel Monaco. "You'll love the lobby." she smiled.  So I booked it, and for $106/night, I thought it was worth a try!

When I walked in, very late at night after a trans-continental flight to an absolute oasis of fuchsia and gold with as many Moroccan-inspired details as one could pack into a room I smiled from ear to ear. She was right. It was breathtaking! Opulent and approachable (it's dog-friendly!), cozy and cosmopolitan... I could have just curled up on the divan and stayed right there!

But wait! There was more. The visual delight did not end in the lobby. Oh no! They had (it seemed) designed one of their guest rooms specifically for me! Moi!? Oui.

I. Mean. Seriously. Two kinds of striped wallpaper, pattern everywhere, a headboard fit for a maharaja...Oh! There was more "happy" packed into this one little room than I could shake a stick at!! I was in hog heaven. And I stayed there until I checked out 4 days later. The service was excellent, the coffee? top-notch, location was not to be beat and please, if you stay here, under no circumstances should you miss the complimentary wine & cheese hour in the lobby from 5-6pm. It is a blast!! Thanks Amy for the rec!!

By Leigh 03.19.2011 – 10:56 am


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

Year of Creative Development Part 1 - ArtFest

Gypsy Soul and Inspired

If you are just joining us, I have been (slowly) detailing my adventures of this past year, which I have deemed "My Year of Creative Development". It has been a growth experience and experiment in intentions, and the creation of space in my life for, well, creation.

I love being a student and so often, in our adult lives we don't get that chance or remember to let ourselves learn. As a small creative business owner, I was often finding myself so caught up in the net of 'running a business' that I was neglecting the creative part almost entirely, leaving myself feeling depleted and stressed to meet art deadlines. Where creating used to be the beginning, it was quickly becoming the end (or even beyond that!).

So I put it down in ink. It began with my deciding to sign up for ArtFest 2010 in Port Townsend, WA in March. I arrived with dutiful adventurous friend in tow, signed in, bunked up, and got ready for my first class.

My class was called "House Totems" and was taught by Karen Michel. Karen is pretty much the queen of altered imagery art and mixed media. She has a few wonderful books on the subject (which I need to add to my library soon!) and once you see her work you will be an insta-fan. If you ever get the chance to take a class with Karen, do it! Not only is she crazy creative and talented, but she is a wonderful, relaxed and giving teacher. I admit to being a little nervous to get started in these classes. I work with mainly paper and the general population of attendees at ArtFest is very well versed in different mediums, supplies, techniques and just pretty incredibly talented as a whole. I felt a little unprepared, but Karen was so nice, and easy to learn from that I just jumped right in and rolled around in creative bliss.

It should be noted that everyone that I encountered in my classes, and pretty much in general at ArtFest, was totally nice, and willing to share. The general generosity and disposition that this 'camp' inspires is pretty moving. I barely had time to be nervous or feel like I didn't know what I was doing.

So! In Karen's class we talked a lot about the idea of 'home' and what it means to us. How we represent that and manifest what it is we need 'home to be. To illustrate this we were there to make 'house totems'. We brought with us supplies like acrylic paints, sand paper, ephemera, tiny nails (and a tiny hammer) and screws, tin foil, gel matte medium, brushes and any embellishments we might want to use. Karen provided our wood bases and other supplies. The wood bases can actually probably be obtained at your local Home Depot lumber department scrap bin (recycling!) the ends of 2x4s between 6-12" long, then just have someone cut one end to a point.

We sanded our wood, painted it and then applied any paper that we wanted to use. I scallop-tiled my roof using hand cut paper from old books and modge podge, it took forever, but I love the result! We then gave the whole thing a coat of gel matte medium and let it dry. After it was dry, we took a sponge brush and coated it with India Ink (super scary!! ) then buffed it off to give the whole piece a 'vintage' look. After that was dry, we went back in and added details like nail heads and doorknobs and any additional treatments. The end results were so adorable our class wanted to make a little village! I ended up making two and this one now hangs on the wall in my entry way so it is the first thing you see when you enter:

This would be such a fun project to do while 'arting' with friends or to make for a friend who moves, or buys a new home. I learned so much from Karen and the ladies in my class! I didn't want to stop!

Next Stop: Michelle Allen's "Getcha Paint On!" class

By Leigh 12.07.2010 – 2:32 pm


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

Year of Creative Development Part 1 - Port Townsend, WA

Photos and Gypsy Soul

After my "day to myself" in Seattle, I jumped in the rental car, scooped Lacy up from the airport, headed to the ferry and we were on our way to Artfest 2010! We arrived in lovely Port Townsend, WA later that day (after of course stopping for cheese, crackers & wine and poking around little shops on the way) and went about getting ourselves signed up and into our 'officer's housing'. Artfest is held at Ft. Worden, an old military fort that sits on a bluff above Puget Sound and 2 miles of beautiful beach. It is breathtaking...and, I thought, oddly familiar.

As we got settled into our 'quarters', which would best be described as "rustic" but charming (we can get into how I love NOT camping another time) I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen this place before. It was both pristine in it's appearance (considering it has not been used as a base since the 50's) and eerily preserved feeling, like at any moment "Mayo" was going to walk out of one of these dorms...THAT WAS IT!!! I had been feeling the presence of a young Richard Gere all along!!

Turns out that Fort Worden was the location for the filming of "An Officer and a Gentleman" and everything is exactly the same!

All in all Fort Worden and the sleepy little town of Port Townsend are completely enchanting, a little mysterious and totally beautiful. As you can see by my photos, I was completely obsessed with the landscape. The sweeping coastal views, the chilly salty air, friendly and rugged locals and delicious Pizza from Sirens, make this little port town a place to hunker down for a day or two. You never know who or what you might see. In fact, while I was standing in line for coffee at the local provisions place, I got to the cashier and he nodded to the older gentleman who had just checked out before me and said: "That guy climbed Mt. Everest."

"Oh Wow!" I said,

"I'll just have a croissant."



Next Stop: ArtFest and What I wore. Just kidding. What I made...

By Leigh 11.17.2010 – 4:40 pm


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

Year of Creative Development Part 1 - Seattle Pit Stop

Photos and The Biz and Gypsy Soul

This year has been my 'year of creative development'. You may remember this post where I promised to tell you all about it after cataloging all the places I have traveled to in 2010 and wondering why I am so exhausted! Well, the journey begins here.

Actually, the journey began late in 2009 when in the throws of running a small business and feeling rushed for creative time to get my work done, I realized that my job of being a business owner had all but eclipsed my job of being an artist and designer. Now, this had been going on for the better part of the then 6 years that I had been up and running, but I had so enjoyed learning to run a business that I hadn't noticed how little creative space I had left in my life. I had always been the one making things for people, hand making cards, putting together care packages, writing letters, doodling on most any surface and here I was, building a living out of 'sending love' but I wasn't actually doing that anymore. My family and friends sat neglected, my glue gun lay dusty in the bottom drawer.

Now, there is the old saying: "If you love making pies, don't open a pie shop." And often, when people approach me about starting a business where they can make and sell what they are good at so they can do what they love for a living I pull out that little gem. It's true.

I love creating and designing and curating, but that is actually about 10% of what I spend my time doing. I would venture to say that is true for most small business owners. 90% business, 10% everything else. Fortunately for me, I happen to LOVE the business side of things. It has been my greatest challenge to date, and has been seriously rewarding for me. But it, at the end of the day, is not what I am here to deliver.

My one thing. The thing I was meant to do was create and I knew that I needed to find some time to do that.

So I signed up for Teesha Moore's ArtFest 2010 in Port Townsend, WA. and the journey began.

I had never been to ArtFest, and it was in its 11th year, packed with regulars. So, not wanting to break my routine and go alone I called on my most reliably adventurous friend Lacy (I believe you've met.). The email exchange went like this:

Me: Hey! I think I am going to sign up for this. Do you have any interest in doing it with me?

LY: Yeah that sounds great!

Me: ok, well it is in March so I think we need to sign up soon.

LY: I already booked my ticket.

Everybody needs a friend like that. Seriously. Lacy, locked me in. Right then and there. If I had waited, or thought too much about it I would have gotten busy, or it would have seemed expensive or 'not a necessity" and I would have let it pass me by. Instead, it was the beginning of getting my mojo back, meeting lots of new people, making lots of new friends and learning A LOT. Never overlook the little invitations life sends you to be who you already are.

So in March, I hopped a flight to Seattle for the first time. I got there a day before I was to meet Lacy so I could see a little of this city by the sea. On a friend's recommendation, I stayed at the Inn at the Market . I cannot say enough good things about this little hotel- it is a must. I am only sorry I wasn't there longer. Here are a few shots of this unusually sunny and warm day that I had at the Public Market. I posted a few more photos here (including like 800 of the view from my super cute hotel room...sorry!). It was such a lovely start to my journey to have a day to myself to explore a new city and it's treasures. No agenda, no timeline, no chatter. Just me, my camera, and a delicious risotto at a table for one.

Next stop: Port Townsend


By Leigh 11.05.2010 – 3:07 pm


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

Magic Marrakesh

Photos and Gypsy Soul

I know I have been going on and on about this Morocco adventure, but I have to say that something about the place has put a spell on me. Maryam taught us alot about the local culture and the strong belief in magic and symbolism that resides there. Even a very real belief in genies. Yep. Like in a lantern...or a bottle (go ahead, sing it.)  Having spent even just seven days there I am going to go ahead and take their word for it.

I have come half way back across the planet and I can't shake the smells and colors even the music. The beautiful smell of orange blossom, amber and smoky spices. The dust and the fumes from all of the motorbikes and the smell of the hay to feed the donkeys and horses. Leather and jasmine. Dark alleys in the winding souks, mirrors and silver sparkling everywhere. Hundreds of cats! The long robes, yellow slippers, veils and friendly smiles. The loud speaker song for daily prayers and the rush then quiet that follows. Shapes and symbols to bring good luck and fortune and ward off evil built into every structure...and the African sunlight. OH.

Here are a few more photos that show the more mysterious side of Marrakesh.

I have also uploaded many more photos from the journey here.

enjoy! xoxo

By Leigh 10.25.2010 – 5:45 pm


Peacock Pavillions, Marrakesh

Photos and Gypsy Soul

While in Marrakesh, the group of us are staying at Peacock Pavillions ( the resort style guest house that is the masterwork of American ex-pat Maryam Montague and family. It is and absolute oasis on the outskirts of town with every room impeccably currated with Maryam's vast and impressive collection of Moroccan antiques, art pieces and textiles. Almost every surface is thoughtfully tiled, artfully painted or decoratively arranged. A total visual feast. Here are just a few images I took around the resort (some are from Tuesday evening's henna party!), there are of course more to come, and even more when Maryam's new book comes out soon! stay tuned!


By Leigh 10.21.2010 – 4:35 am


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