“If it’s from the heart, then it’s the right thing to do.”
The Jodi Jae mission is to spread resplendent beauty far and wide, and to reveal just how easy and pleasurable creating it in your own life can be. Jodi McErlean, founder of Jodi Jae, is a seasoned interior designer and curator of all things beautiful, heartfelt and meaningful. Jodi Jae features boutique tailored home design, online conversations, live and online events for women, and products and services based on heartfelt lifestyle design.
Lifestyle Design Compliments
The tradition of baking holiday cookies runs several generations deep in my family. It’s true that not all the dough makes it to the oven, but when it does, the scents bring me right back to my earliest years of creating delicious memories in the kitchen with my mom, grandmother, sister, and my mom's best friend. These days my own children, friends, and the family members who are able to join in help me carry the tradition forward. Each holiday season, as the baking commences, I am reminded of family members past and the blessings I received from their presence in my life. I love sharing stories of my grandparents great-grandparents with my children while we do the holiday baking together and am pretty sure doing so infuses our cookies with extra love and gratitude. The Linzer cookie was introduced to me by my husband while we were dating. He saw how much I adore the tradition of baking holiday cookies and was reminded of his mother's holiday tradition of gifting these baked wonders to friends, service people and anyone else who showed their family kindness and grace throughout the year. He told me that she baked while the kids were at school and concealed the cookies in a secret hiding place, knowing full well that the confections would be devoured if discovered too soon. It was only when the time was just right that she would package them up and distribute them to all the lucky recipients. Here's to you, Debbie McErlean, in loving memory. We miss you and will always cherish your gifts of the heart. Linzer Cookie Recipe (via epicurious.com) Makes about 2 dozen cookies Active time: 1 1/2 hr Total time: 4 hr Ingredients 2/3 cup hazelnuts (3 oz) 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 12-oz jar seedless raspberry jam Special equipment: a 2- to 2 1/4-inch fluted round cookie cutter and assorted 1/2-inch shaped cookie cutters or aspic cutters Preparation: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until fragrant and skins begin to loosen, about 6 minutes. Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature. Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add nut mixture and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined. With floured hands, form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out 1 disk of dough into an 11-inch round (1/8 inch thick) between 2 sheets of wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled). If dough becomes too soft to roll out, rewrap in plastic and chill until firm. Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with larger cookie cutter and transfer to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging about 1 inch apart. Using smaller cutters, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and rerolling along with scraps (reroll only once). Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes total, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies from second disk. Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on flat side of 1 solid cookie and sandwich jam with flat side of 1 windowed cookie. Sandwich remaining cookies in same manner. Cooks' note: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, chilled in an airtight container 2 weeks.Read More
Making plans for a joyful and memorable holiday season is nothing new for me. The dogs have taken up residence in front of the fireplace instead of the cool kitchen floor, and I'm in the full seasonal swing of things just like years past. What has changed is the way I choose to prepare for and celebrate the holidays. In order to do this I had to question some pretty deep-rooted beliefs. Beliefs are tricky. Sometimes they show up disguised as tradition. I’m as big a fan of tradition as the next person, but it’s not always harmless or in service of those of us who continue to pass it down. How many times have I done things a certain way, whether I find them in alignment with my heart or not, just because tradition says so? Simply put, too many. Thinking about how I want to do the holidays this year has been a powerful reminder that any given moment is an opportunity to crack my beliefs wide open, acknowledge how they’ve served me in the past, and then give them a loving kiss on their way out the door. The first belief I kissed goodbye was the one that said doing more would lead to accomplishing more. The idea of doing less to accomplish more is new for me. For example, when planning for the holidays this year, I asked myself the question: “How would they look, feel and taste if they came from my heart’s desires, rather than from a sense of obligation?” The answer rang through clear as a bell. They would feel spacious and relaxed, nourishing and a heck of a lot more joyful. They would look elegant, simple and beautiful. They would taste like a fine box of chocolates with a rich filling infused with love. I would have plenty of time to get everything done while singing fa la la la la. For most of us, the thought of slowing down during the holidays sounds as realistic as the kids waiting to get up after sunrise on Christmas morning. By doing less, however, accomplishing more is not only possible – it’s more likely to happen if you have set the intention to do so. And no, the kids still won’t wait until sunrise to wake up. But you’ll find it more endearing because you won’t have just barreled through Thanksgiving and Christmas at a breakneck pace. You were wise: you took time to breathe. You took time to create time. Sounds odd I know. Creating time. Let me explain... I’ve been reading Gay Hendricks’ book The Big Leap. He explains a perspective from which we are creators time and authors of what we fill it with. In other words: we DECIDE how we experience time. In the beginning I was skeptical too. "I have so much to do that I won’t really be able to relax and feel nourished through the holidays," was the belief the doubting voice in my mind repeated like a broken record. Again and again. You know the drill. But I’m an experimenter at heart, the possibilities were appealing, and after all, I had nothing to lose. And a whole lot of time and space to gain. So for several weeks I put Mr. Hendricks’ theory to the test. I dedicated time each day to meditation and reading. I focused on just a few select tasks per day. I spent more time with the people I love. You know what? I’ve had time for everything on my list, plus the things I had formerly categorized as “luxuries” but were actually vital to my happiness. I find myself glancing at the clock in disbelief as it reveals how much time left I have to enjoy my day! Ha! I want to rename this the "miracle theory"! I also learned that there were a few things on my list that were there because I believed they were necessary. Once I slowed down and got in tune with my inner compass, I came to the conclusion that they weren’t so necessary after all. As I cut them from the list, I immediately felt a sense of lightness that comes from bound energy being freed up. I imagined beautiful opportunities such as a weekend getaway and special moments with my husband and children. All this was revelatory. All this was true. Through those weeks I used this powerful mantra several times a day from Mr. Hendricks’ book: "I expand in abundance, success, and love while inspiring others around me to do the same.” I allowed the words to sink into my consciousness every day, and sure enough, and my life got a whole lot more spacious. My days have become more relaxed, focused and fulfilling, and in them I’ve found plenty of time to do necessary tasks while staying present and being loving and supportive of those around me. All of these blessings gave birth to a simple shift in perspective about the holidays: it is possible to prepare, celebrate and honor them in a way that is in alignment with my heart. When I allow time for myself to go inward and restore my connection to my own breath and desires, my outer expressions of creativity and inspiration get bigger and brighter too. In practical terms, I felt a big energy shift around holiday chores like menu planning, gift lists and decorating. The best way to say it is I went from “I have to… “ to “I get to…” As 2014 comes to a close, I invite you to join me in cracking open the beliefs that no longer serve your deepest joy and thriving. Lay fresh tracks for the ones that do. Give yourself and others the gift of your heart as you authentically celebrate the holidays in the way that only you can. When the cultural force of tradition asks you to hand over your heart's desires, remember the wisdom of Oscar Wilde: "Be yourself; everyone else is taken!" Keep in touch. Let me know how it goes for you. As the mantra from Gay Hendricks implies, we are here inspire each other. With great devotion to our wholeness and happiness,Read More
With so many moving pieces in my life, I like to think of myself like the hub of a bicycle wheel, steadily present at the center of all the spokes as I roll forward, taking everyone and everything in my life with me as effortlessly as possible. Without some kind of central organizing image, it might just feel like chaos, which sometimes it does, but then I remember it’s just time to roll with a little bit of crazy! How I pay attention to the spokes of the wheel makes all the difference in the world, for without them I’d lose connection to the wheel itself that propels me forward. Below are a few of the spokes on my wheel that make my world go round year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, breath by blessed breath. Creative Time with Family My boys are 24, 18, 16 and 10, and along with my husband, that’s a lot of guys to contend with! They appreciate how I’ve become more feminine in the past few years, but the tomboy in me is still alive and well, which makes it easy for us to play hard together. Often we’ll meet at the gym for a workout and dinner. Exercise is the drug of choice in our family, and we inspire one another to push the edge of physical possibility and to take care of our God given temples. Spending one-on-one time with my boys is super important to me, and we make that happen however we can. It can be something as simple as a late night trip to the grocery story to stock an empty fridge, laughing and sharing stories as we go down the aisles. We’re all foodies so sometimes we watch food shows together, but it’s the conversations flying around the family room about skateboard ramps, movies, life in college, or days gone by that fill me with so much joy I could burst. Self Care I start each day with a meditation by my backyard fountain, then either I’m off for strength training at the gym, a long power walk or a bike ride. I love getting a manicure to help feel refreshed every two weeks and a soothing pedicure makes me feel like a million bucks. I have favorite spas around the world, and it’s on my list to find a wonderful one in my backyard. All these actions are vital to my sense of well-being and aliveness, but it’s the deep self care that I value most, which is easy to skip over in our fast-paced world. I acknowledge what I’ve accomplished during the day, which gives me the motivation to show up fully the next day. And when I’m feeling a little lackluster I remind myself how far I’ve come in this lifetime and to appreciate everyone who has supported me. As a recovering perfectionist, I don’t even use the word “perfect” anymore. I used to be focused on the perfect home, family, vacation or relationship. I’m grateful for all I’ve walked through that I now know that I am enough and that how I live my life is my choice. My life is all mine by design and I love it! Vacation I think I was born to travel; to experience beautiful and unexpected sights, sounds, tastes, people, colors and textures. When I travel something in me slows down and makes it easier to let go of the “shoulds” and appreciate the simple blessing of the present movement. Talk about rejuvenation! And when I’m immersed in a new locale, some of my most inspired design or product ideas come into being. The smell of a flower that wants to be turned into a bottled scent, a fabric that is perfect for a home I’m working on, or a new friend who plants the seed for a future event to support a cause. Books I appreciate reads that help me see things in a new light. Currently I’m reading The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s a relatively fast read and chock full of "a-ha!" one liners. With all the spokes on my wheel, time is precious, so when I can read a few sentences and be transported into a whole new experience, I’m grateful. Of course these are only a few spokes on the wheel of my life. Now it’s your turn. What do you value paying attention to in your life, and how do you keep your life rolling forward? May your ride be a beautiful adventure,
Our environment, daily routines and mindset either set the stage for us to realize our dreams or create obstacles that get in the way. I’ve spent years considering how best to design my life to fuels my dreams. I’m at a place where my dreams are turning to reality almost faster than I can track. With the hope that you’ll be inspired to design your world to fuel your own dreams, here are a few ways I’ve designed my world and the impact it’s had: BEAUTIFULLY + MINDFULLY DESIGNED SPACES When designing my workspace, I thought about what I most want to create through my work in the world. To simply describe this space: it’s the place where beauty meets meaning meets connection. I want to create more experiences for people to experience this inspiring alchemy. So my workspace reflects this: it’s an artfully lit bright space with an elegant desk that invites creativity, photos that spark innovation and remind me of who and what I most love, a candle with an ambrosic scent, and soothing music filling the air. Sound dreamy? It is! Don’t take my word for it. You too can design your workspace to reflect who you are and what you want to create in the world. I’d love to see photos of what you create. Post them to the Jodi Jae Facebook page so they inspire the rest of us! TAKING TIME TO BREATHE AND BE Just when I feel overloaded and on the edge of too-much, I know it’s time to take a break. That may mean a jaunt down to my Cabo retreat or an exotic location across the globe, or simply a weekend staycation where I unplug and unwind. Any of these allows what has been in the way of freely flowing creativity to dissolve. Inspirations for design projects always follow. As I sit in stillness outside of my regular environment or routine, I am newly inspired to live the life the feels most true to me. MINDFULLY STARTING THE DAY A cup of coffee, a workout, reading the paper, meditation…we all start the day somehow and it is by our own personal design that we get up and going. Personally, I love greeting the day bright and early with a cup of coffee and a meditation outside by the fountain in our yard. The soothing sound of the water creates a peaceful place for my morning check-in. Then I’m off to the gym to tend to the physical and emotional. Physical and emotional health both seem to require sweat! After this, I’m ready for whatever life throws my way. My morning routine is the perfect support for the rest of the day in my roles and mother, wife and entrepreneur. It’s not so much the what here, but that you start the day in a way that takes into account the specifics of who you are, what you do and what you most want to create. Starting well is at least half the battle! FREEDOM IN ALL THINGS Freedom is a beautiful thing. Some days I just want to escape responsibilities surrounding work, family and life in general, and it just isn’t possible. What I’ve learned is that even though I can’t always change the circumstances, I can always change my perspective. There’s no rule that I have to fulfill my responsibilities in the same way every day. There are many days I want to be outside enjoying the day instead of inside on a call or on the computer. So instead of ditching my work or depriving myself of the outdoors, I’ll take my laptop to a park bench. And what I reliably find is that when I listen to my impulse and find a happy compromise, I am even more efficient as I complete the task at hand. We are free to design our lives however we want, and we’re free to change our minds. I’m committed to staying flexible and open as I continue to design my world so it works for me. Nothing in life is static and unchanging, so why should I be? Why should you? I’d love to hear how you design your life to fuel your dreams or any challenges you’re facing doing so. Respond in the comments below or on Facebook, and I’ll be sure to get back to you with some fresh ideas to add to the mix. To dreaming big and making it so,Read More
Growing up in a culture where our foundational story is about freedom and independence has left its mark on me. With the upcoming anniversary of our country declaring independence, I like to think about what independence and freedom mean to me.Read More
Everything we let into our lives impacts us, often more deeply that we know. The quality of our food, how regularly we exercise, the depth of our conversations, the meaningfulness of our work in the world, the people we choose as friends, our intimate partners, and our relationships with family all combine to create the landscape of our lives.
You know that fire that burns in your belly telling you that the life you’ve been living—no matter how blessed—isn’t big enough to contain what wants to come through you? It’s a feeling I’ve become well acquainted with the past few months as I committed to reimagining my business, creating a brand new online presence and platform, and laying plans to open a lifestyle boutique in the fall.Read More
Do you have a story buried inside that you dare not tell? I think many of us do. Maybe we conceal them to present an image that we’ve got it all together. If others perceive us in such a way, then it must be so, no matter what those doubting voices in our own minds tell us in our more vulnerable moments.