Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bitter Sweet: Holly's Story

Recently I blogged about attending an amazing writing academy in Ojai, California. A full review of this magical program to come but I introduced you to one of the amazing women that I met there, Dr. Tererai Trent.

Today I wanted to share the story of another courageous and amazing women named Holly Thrasher who is a survivor, author and inspiration! If we want to raise awareness about Breast Cancer it is my belief that it is the stories of the survivors that are the most important to share. Thank you Holly for sharing your story with my readers! 

L-R: Back Row: Author Rebecca Winn, Myself, Publisher/Author: Zhena Muzyka
Bottom: Author/Philanthropist Barbara Savage, Author Katherine Davenport and Author Holly Thrasher

Candy Girl

 It was the week before Thanksgiving in 2015 and I was planning my busy holiday season for my nostalgic candy store, Kingston’s Candy Co.  All of my seasonal merchandise was arriving and we were decorating the store for our busiest time of the year.  It was our sixth Christmas in business and I had become a part of the fabric of our community here in Ojai, CA.  I was known as the local Candy Lady, a title I had worked hard for and loved.  My business provided myself and family with so much joy.  Going to work consisted of being a kid in a candy store every single day and you can’t beat that.  I truly felt that I had found my path and nothing could have prepared me for the life changing news I would receive right in the middle of the busiest season of the year.

     A small lump had been detected in my left breast during a routine mammogram in early 2014. For more reasons I can count, I chose to ignore that lump.  I was a healthy, wife, mother and successful small business owner.  Nothing was going to stop me from doing what I loved.  I went into full denial, convincing myself that the breast lump was not worth worrying about.  Thankfully, my doctor did not agree.  One year and nine months after that first mammogram, she persuaded me to take a second look at that lump with a follow-up mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.  The biopsy results were finally in my hand and I carefully read through the medical jargon to the sentence that would evoke a string of expletives to flow from my mouth; 

“The pathology report is now available and shows malignancy concordant with the 
findings.  Pathology report positive for infiltrating ductal adenocarcinoma.”  

     I was shocked!  I was told that 85% of those lumps were nothing to worry about! In that moment I knew that my sweet candy store was going to be a casualty of cancer.  Without a second thought, we closed Kingston’s in January 2016, so I could recover from a total double mastectomy and gear up for chemotherapy and later, breast reconstruction.  

  It is coming up on a year since my life was turned upside down by breast cancer.  Three surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy are behind me, my hair is growing back and my breast reconstruction is done.  Thankfully, I am now considered to have “no evidence of cancer.” To say that beating breast cancer was tough would be an understatement.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but through it all I had a nagging suspicion that I was meant to be doing something else.  
     Life can really throw you a curve ball and I am not the only one...1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  I have begun to rebuild my life with the help of my devoted and loyal husband, Wiley.  Wiley stepped up in a major way, taking on all of my responsibilities, while still shouldering his own while I recovered.  I cannot express how impressed I am with how much Wiley loves and cares for myself and our teenage son, Vance. 

With all of the major cancer challenges behind us, I am just starting to grieve the loss of my identity as the Candy Lady, but amazingly, I have found my true calling; to support and encourage women with breast cancer on their own journey.  I am currently writing a book that I hope will support and educate women.  My book is an intimate photographic journey of what a woman’s breasts go through from mastectomy to reconstruction.  Wiley and I documented my breasts through every phase of breast cancer hoping it would later help us heal from the experience.  To my surprise, I realized that these photos could help heal other women too.  

     I now believe that my breast cancer was a gift.  I know that sounds crazy, but it has changed my whole life and provided me with a better understanding of how I can be more useful in the world.  It has been a bitter-sweet journey, but I wouldn’t change a thing! 

Look for Holly's Book Coming Soon Called: We Will Rebuild. Holly explained, it will be an intimate photographic journey documenting the painful and uplifting process of losing and rebuilding a woman's breasts, written by a wife, mother and breast cancer survivor who thought she had lost her identity, but found her true life's purpose to support and honor women's experiences with breast cancer.

Thank's Holly, YOU ROCK!


Monday, October 10, 2016


The news recently broke about the new SJP LBD (Sarah Jessica Parker Little Black Dress) collection coming to Bloomingdales and your  LBB/MBB/BBB - Little, Medium, or Big Brown Bag this spring.

One dress was released early to kick off the collection that will consist of  a collection of re-imagined timeless Little Black Dresses. 

Fittingly the first offering is called "Title", a new take on the iconic white tu tu and pink tank combo her famous character of Carrie Bradshaw wore in the opening title sequence of Sex and The City for its 6 season run.

We were first introduced to "Carrie" in this white vintage tutu that stylist Patricia Field procured at a thrift store in New York and it really set the style tone for this character. It re-appeared when Carrie was cleaning out her closet in the first SATC film as she celebrates the parts of her past she will 'keep'. And far right the real deal SJP in the new Title dress that could also be your for $395 and if you are a size 0-12. BUY IT HERE

Jersey Top with layered tulle.

When I first realized I would have to sit this dance out, because I am not a size 0-12 I became reflective. I also read a few articles along with the comments about women over a size 12 sad, hurt, and angry that they were not thought of or included in this collection. I thought about the business of fashion, design, sales, target markets, etc. 

I have to say that I will be cheering on the sidelines for the success of this collection and all others who do not cater to women of all sizes. I have realized that not all designers choose to design from an inclusive perspective and not all buyers are interested in selling to certain clientele. I also realized that there are some that do, so anyone over a size 12 can shop there. 

The little black dress has been a style staple since the 1926's when CoCo Chanel introduced the world to her version in VOGUE.  The color black an dresses have a history before Mademoiselle Chanel but she has been credited for bringing it to the style masses. Since then in has morphed into so many versions, fabrications, shapes and sizes. There IS something out there for everyone, don't worry ladies.

I am excited to see SJP's collection evolve and all of the offerings to come. I suspect this dress will make it onto the Bloomingdale's racks soon. I love the simplicity of the design,  full skirt and pockets!! The styling possibilities are truly endless with LBD's!

Will you shop the collection? 

Fear not ladies if you cannot access this collection you can always buy the amazing shoes via SJP Collection! There is truly something for everyone there. I am waiting on some resort sparkle to make my next purchase(s)! 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall Ssssstyle

Image: Bergdorfs Instagram / Altuzarra

Print mixing, Metallic and Color are three elements I am in love with for FALL. 

I really loved the Altuzarra Spring 2017 Collection for the bold print mixing, especially how they incorporated the snake print. 

The Jeweled Cherry Motif I adore along with the gingham, unexpected parings which make it ultra fresh to me.

The snake print has been chic since the 1970's. Cher has always been a style icon. Her look head-to-toe would be perfection for Fall 2016 for me.
1977 - Image by Ron Galella - JFK Airport

Grab this amazing trench coat (On SALE) at Macy's a great snake print. Style it with a gingham shirt or a printed belt. Maybe even a little cherry motif!

If you are not ready to wear an entire printed look what about mixing a great Snake print bag with your gingham, denim or a simple white tee.

SJP Collection Grove Bag (SALE: $170.99)

Sam Edelman Sienna Multi Texture Shoulder (SALE: $194.99)

Can you Ssssssnake out your style this fall?

Image: Hayley West for Evolution Rewind
Vintage Cocktail Ring and Matching Earring Set (SALE: $45)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mad As A Hatter

Illustration from Lewis Carroll Novel: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Every time I open my social media or look at the Internet there is a celebration going on. It is International Teacher's Day, Doughnut Day, Cat Day and today it is MAD HATTER DAY! 

I had no idea there was such a day but I will celebrate not only by wearing a fabulous hat but by sharing images from my family's 2013 Christmas Card photo shoot. It is also TBT online or "Throwback Thursday" so it's a perfect time to take a trip down photo memory lane.

Mad Hatter Day is celebrated on October 6th because his top hat, originally in the books illustrations as a card labelled "In This Style 10/6". It has been carried on as a symbol through Disney's adaptation in traditional animation form (1951) and the Tim Burton Film in 2010.

This day 10/6 is also six months after April Fools day which is the first silly holiday of the year! who knew?

Louis Carroll Novel Illustration

Disney: Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter

Johnny Depp at the Hatter in the Tim Burton Film

My husband assumed the roll of the Mad Hatter for our photo shoot and brought this wacky character to life in the most amazing way! 

Images by: Tamara Wickstrom
Wardrobe/Styling/Set Design/Concept: Lisa Graystone

Daddy Hatter

There were so many amazing images from this day! Our family enjoyed the shoot so much. See details on the shoot and more images HERE

How will you celebrate Mad Hatter Day?

Some Evolution Vintage Hatter Style Offerings:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness: Kristin's Story Part II

MAU: Hanna Fisher

I couldn't possibly share this amazing woman's story in one blog. This is Part II of Kristin's journey from battling Breast Cancer to her road to recovery. Kristin has been so inspiring to me and what an amazing way to celebrate her end of chemotherapy treatment than with a styled pictorial showcasing her beauty - both external and internal. If you missed the first Part read is HERE

There is a lot more to recovery than the physical healing of incisions. Kristin told me what she has been doing to heal herself, and what she would tell others who have received a diagnosis, "You’re not alone! Be careful doing searches on Internet. We are really fortunate to have so many helpful resources in this town. For example, Wellness Kitchen in Templeton I get bone broth and healing tea quite often. There is pick up location in San Luis Obispo.

 No sugar or processed foods! Sugar feeds cancer 

I take several supplements to keep my immune system and overall support.  I Know you are thinking that must be so expensive and the answer is YES. But I think it is worth every penny. If you can't afford it at least take Vitamin c, d . Mushrooms are great for immune support. I started with Turkey tail and since then moved on to Mitake and now Shitake (Host Defense Brand).  Consult with a Naturopath doctor first. I feel fortune to have best of both worlds. I have a regular oncologist Dr. Dicarlo and Dr. Hedi Lucas my integrated naturopthic oncologist.

Please check out Kristin'a GoFundMe Page if you are able to help out!

Kristin explains how your contributions are helping her with her health; 

" I went back and fourth on the derision of doing radiation . After many visits to radiation oncologist with many questions . I decided to not move forward with radiation . Just never had a 100% peace and my gut was telling me it was more harm then good . With that said decided to go an alternative route and work with a nutritionist . On a very strict diet and as he works on re-booting my body . I buy all my fruits and veggies at local farmers market . We are so blessed to have one every day of the week in different towns near by . Usually I attend sat in Templeton and wed. In Atascadero . Currently on a plant based diet with fish and chicken . My nutritionist has me on intestinal cleanse , then gall bladder cleanse , kidney , liver ...... This is to purge the toxins out of my body and keep me healthy ! Also juicing twice a day . So as you can imagine it's very time consuming and costly to work with a nutritionist . I am feeling better and feel this strict regiment is with it ."

Her words of wisdom:
"Stay Positive: Your mind plays a huge part in your mood. Yes there will be good days and bad days. Feel blessed to have had more good days than bad days.

Allow help: Everyone has different ways of showing they care and helping.

Keep moving: I think the biggest reason was so strong through treatment and surgery is a great team of support but also private Pilate lessons at the house. I also try to walk at least 30 min a day and eat really clean.  

I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the project and to have connected with Kristin. I am so thankful for her courage to share her story as it may save a woman's life. Share what you have learned with your sisters, we need to support one another. As women we have an amazing opportunity to educate,  empower and inspire each other and lift each other up by sharing our truth and experiences. Take the opportunity to speak to your friends, colleagues, family and strangers about early detection, self examination and overall health this month and beyond.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness: Kristin's Story Part I

Image by Hayley West
Styling by Me - 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month I want to share stories of women that I have had the honor of bring connected with. We have all seen the statistics but like everything else in our fast paced life we have maybe breezed by them or said to ourselves "that could never happen to me". Did you know that in every 8 women 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer?

A really sobering thought. I met Kristin when I was asked to donate my time/styling expertise to a photo shoot celebrating the end of her grueling chemotherapy treatment. Of course I answered the call, anything that will serve to empower or inspire another woman I always show up!

She first met me in my Evolution Vintage showroom and we talked a lot about what she is authentically drawn too. She loves lace, ruffles, anything romantic and feminine. She adores pink and was also open to my ideas. I was inspired by her strength but also by her willingness to step outside her style comfort zone and give some looks a try she may not have otherwise chose. The pictorial is a true celebration of her beauty and life.
Kristin wearing Vintage Ruffle Gown, Vintage Gloves and Vintage Pearls

She told me, "One morning I though I pulled a muscle, so did a self-check and felt around. To my discovery found a lump. Trying not to freak out I immediately booked an appointment with my OB November 14th , 2015.  She said there is defiantly a lump I suggest getting an appointment to get a mammogram/ Ultrasound.

(Nov19th 2015)

From there things progressed pretty quickly

Biopsy December 1st 2015 and December 7th I was officially diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I can’t say enough do your self-breast exam on the 1st of every month!You are never too young or too old. There is something to be said about that  "Gut feeling. "

Kristin was 31 when she received the news she had breast cancer. She explained,
"Stage 2-breast cancer, BRCA Positive (carry the gene), HER 2 Positive (the cancer cells have more of protein. It causes these cells to grow and spread faster than the ones with normal level of protein)" 

She shared what inspired her during this chapter in her life,

"God’s overwhelming Grace upon my life.

Family and friends near and far.

Often a physical illness will impact you more than just physically.  It can impact your emotions and hope, your spirit and soul. But God Himself can redeem even those times for good and His glory. When you are ill and forced to slow down, of course visit the doctor, take your medicine and rest. And, yes pray to the Lord, for He is the only one that heals your diseases. Sometimes, though, Jesus also wants to speak to you during this quieter time, so look and listen for what He wants to teach you when you are ill. – God’s Promises for when your Hurting by Jack Countryman"

Tomorrow I will share her tips for staying healthy and strong through Chemo and beyond as well as her recently acquired wisdom for anyone who has been recently diagnosed. You can also come back and see the rest of her gorgeous pictorial!