For months I have been waiting for the November issue of Family Circle Magazine and on Saturday morning I finally spotted it on the stands. My hands were shaking as I opened the magazine because this was no ordinary issue, this issue featured my home in a six page spread. Six pages! Family Circle! That's huge! There I was on the very first page standing in my kitchen kissing my sweet littlest babe. There were my own paintings and my daughter's drawings on the walls. There was my home all colorful, sparkly and styled up to the nines. But you want to know the image that I'm most proud of? The one I keep flipping back to? The one I texted right away to one of my closest friends? It's the contributors page, where my face is represented in cheerful cartooned glory right alongside Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.
The reason I love this page (beyond the fact that I think my cartoon hair looks much better than my real hair ever has) is because I have always considered Ina Garten a role model. Most people know her story - she was working as a White House budget analyst when she saw an ad for a specialty food shop that was for sale in the Hamptons. The very next day she went up to investigate, had a gut feeling that purchasing the store was what she was truly meant to do, and took a leap of faith. Nine cookbooks and a Food Network show later, Ina Garten is a household name (at least in the households I hang out in where most of my friends have lots of little mouths to feed but still like to try and do some casual grown-up entertaining every once in a while). How I would love to be able to sit down with Ina and ask for the details. Did she really have no formal background in cooking? Did she really just buy the store on a whim? How the heck did she go from that beginning to where she is now? Was it really all as sweet as cupcakes and apple pie?
Because what I'm learning as I try and promote my books is that it's very easy to romanticize the pursuit of a creative career. It's easy to say with an Oprah-esque glow how wonderfully fulfilled you feel by doing work you love and then post your cartoon face in a national magazine on Instagram. But the real truth (at least for me) is that every small victory comes as a result of so much work. For example, the Family Circle photo shoot happened because I spend a lot of time reading design blogs and I began to think that my home could compare to some of the ones I saw being featured. So I snapped some pics and emailed them to Style Me Pretty Living, a design blog that I'd long admired and knew liked to run home tours. SMP Living loved my house, so my next step was to hire this awesome photographer to come over with a styling assistant and do a full day photo shoot of my house. SMP Living put those images together and ran them here. An editor at Family Circle saw the feature and asked if I'd be willing to let the magazine shoot my house for their home section. Ummmm, yes! Then came another full day photo shoot with the NYC based Family Circle crew, which included two magazine editors, a photographer and her assistant, and a stylist and his assistant. Many days of rearranging furniture and stressing about my kids being exposed because of my desire to get publicity for my books later, the magazine hits the stands with a small but clear image of the cover of Star Sisters and the Best Seller running on the last page of the spread. I consider this a well earned victory and a step in the right direction. I hope it introduces some new people to Star Sisters. I hope someday I get a chance to ask Ina if she built her business with these same kind of small steps. I hope she says yes.
I'm going to try and get some high res images from the magazine shoot of my house to share. But in the meantime, check out Ina Garten's amazing home as featured in House Beautiful. This is one of the first homes I ever fell in love with and, years later, it's still at the very top of my list of all time favorite homes. I love how it's simple but warm. A combo of fabulous materials, a gorgeous setting, and a woman who clearly knows how to make a place feel like home. What a lady.