I always feel that I’m made to be more creative when I have things that hold me back.

Holly Becker on the challenges of decorating in small spaces. Read what she has to say about decorating dorms and apartments on a budget in The Star’s House+Home section tomorrow. Written by, you guessed it, me…

Holly Becker, pictured above. And, by the way, her latest book is an addicting read. I thought I had learned everything I needed to know from HGTV, but “Decorate” is packed with lots of helpful, surprising tips. Plus, it’s a lovely coffee-table book.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.

~John Gunther

I’ve never understood why (or how) people skip the best meal of the day… Berries, granola and yogurt is my current breakfast obsession. Lighter than a heavy organic bread, but keeps you full for longer.

Stuff I Like (Right Now) | Lupinesse ice cream, workout DVDs and Twitter-size fiction By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star Mary Troy’s novel “Beauties” is about a pair of cousins who open a cafe in south St. Louis and relearn life lessons in beauty, babies and the business of cooking.When her nose isn’t stuck in a book about food, reporter Jackie Hoermann is envying Europeans’ cuisine, burning off that food envy with workout DVDs and appreciating the little things in life. Mary Troy’s “Beauties.” A pair of cousins open a cafe in south St. Louis and relearn life lessons in beauty, babies and the business of cooking. As a native St. Louisan I was an instant sucker. Lupinesse ice cream. Europeans have all the fun, especially with food. Lupinesse is a nondairy ice cream made from the seeds of the lupine flower, and its health benefits are a hit in Germany. Join me in starting the demand here. We scream for healthy cream! Library workout DVDs. This perpetual heat wave is roasting my evening runs, so I’ve rediscovered the Kansas City Public Library’s gold mine of workout DVDs (still free). Keli Roberts, Debbie Rocker and Tanja Djelevic have lifted, sculpted and toned my old, droopy routine, and the extra strength has improved my running times. Dickinson’s witch hazel. This ghoulishly named astringent is one of nature’s oldest and best-kept secrets. Removes dirt, cures blemishes, prevents aging and it doesn’t dry out my already-parched skin. @VeryShortStoryTexan tweeter @sean_hill calls it “Twitter sized fiction for your entertainment,” but these fun-sized stories pack a big punch. Sometimes comedic, sometimes ironic. I erupt in fits of laughter every time. Petite, structured purses. For so long we’ve rejected the small purses of the ’90s, favoring oversized luxury bags. But maybe all that baggage isn’t necessary. I predict that the petite purse trend will take hold, and Midwestern women will embrace the shift toward simplicity.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/24/3034105/stuff-i-like-reporter-jackie-hoermann.html#storylink=misearch

SO YOU WANT TO BE … A RANCHER? For the right price, you can get Sarah Brend’s goat By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star PHOTOGRAPHER JIM BARCUS | The Kansas City StarSarah Brend has owned goats since she was 10 and has been showing since she won the 2006 Miami County Fair 4-H Competition, beating her older sister. Sarah Brend of Bucyrus, Kan., seems just like any other girl in her 16th year: sweet, optimistic and a little shy. Don’t let her bashful veneer fool you, though. Underneath, she’s a tough businesswoman and national champion in goat showing. Brend runs Good Shepherd Ranch and this year showed a champion at the American Boer Goat Association’s national event. Overall National Reserve Champion for Percentage Does Aged 0-3 Months, to be exact. What’s the winning goat’s name? Her registered name is GSR Focal Point because we’re supposed to have fancy names. But I call her Precious. Most every goat gets a name, and I remember everybody’s names. Going into nationals, did you know Precious was the Michael Phelps of goats? No. I was planning on showing one of my other baby goats, Button — she has won two national championships and that’s unheard of, really — but she ended up getting an umbilical hernia two days before nationals. That’s why it’s so cool that Precious won. It was unexpected. Is a goat show anything like the Westminster dog show? It’s kind of like the dog show, actually. All the goats have to be structurally sound and are judged on their confirmation, or overall appearance. They look at size and width and because they’re a meat animal, they’re judged on muscling and bone. Sometimes you walk around, and they tell you when to stop and let the goat off the leash to see how they track. Why did Precious win? She had a lot of the right pieces. She is the best goat I own with muscle and bone, and yet she’s still pretty and feminine. And Precious loves to be shown … she’ll always wield her head or run around and butt the other goats. She likes to be the center of attention. Does all that muscling require the goats to exercise? Some people do exercise their animals. They’ll run them on treadmills or in a goat chariot you hook up to the lawn mower, but I don’t do anything like that. How did you react when they announced that you had won? Everybody told me after I won the division that they thought I was going to pass out, and my mouth was going to hit the floor. How did you get started in the goat business? I got a goat to be a companion to one of my horses. I put the goat in with the horse, and the horse tried to kill it. That little goat became my pet very quickly. So I decided I wanted to show and I fell in love with it. My first year showing goats, I won grand champion at the Miami County Fair’s 4-H competition, and I’ve been showing ever since. So what makes you better than your competition? You’re going to have to brag a little. I’m not too good on bragging (laughs). I am a very competitive person, and I love showing. At every show, I learn something new, and I think that’s what makes me better. And I do know how to pick a baby goat that will become something great. That’s hard to do and takes lots of researching beforehand. What kind of research? You look at their pedigree and their breeding or blood line. The genetics are a big factor. I’ll research bucks I like and follow the genetics to see if they can produce kids that win. And then I’ll take a doe I like and cross them. How many goats do you have on your ranch? Right now I have 45. When kidding is done, I’ll have 50 new ones. Who’s kidding? Kidding means give birth. Got it. I’m doing the math in my head. 50 newborns from 45 goats means there must be twins in the mix? Yes. Single, twin or triplet is pretty common. Normally, though, the first-time moms have a single. I had my first quadruplet this year, but the average is single or twin, which is better because the mom’s attention won’t be taken away from one baby goat by the others. Sounds profitable. You can definitely make money back. They’ll be able to pay for my college. (Brend is home-schooled now and plans to study agribusiness at Oklahoma State University.) What’s the most you’ve made off a goat sale? $2,500 is the most I’ve made, but we’ve been offered $8,000 for Button. Do you advertise your business? I have my own website, signs, business cards, and I advertise on Craigslist. What are the challenges to running your own ranch? It’s very hard sometimes when your friends get to go out and you’re at home giving shots or fixing hooves. To me, it’s worth it because this is what I plan to do with the rest of my life. Do you think people underestimate you? Yeah, I get that a lot, especially when dealing with customers. When my dad says, “You have to deal with her for the negotiating,” a lot of the older men have a hard time with it. Do you strike a hard bargain? I guess (laughs). I do take my business very seriously. I know my mom gets very attached to the little goats, but there is a business side to it, too. There was a lady once who kept trying to buy one of my goats and I said, “Listen: Anything on this place is for sale, if the price is right. What’s it going to be?” Where do you want your business to go in the future? My goal is to be as big as — or bigger — than Able Acres, one of the biggest breeders in the country. I plan to be able to compete with them. The last one is a myth buster. Will a goat really eat anything? They’ll “mouth” pretty much anything and spit it out, but they do not eat just anything. Go to www.goodshepherdranch.com to learn more about Sarah Brend’s work. To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to jhoermann@kcstar.com.

For the right price, you can get Sarah Brend’s goat

Fashion Fusion | Braided details add interest to jewelry By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star Hair isn’t the only thing you’ll find in braids these days. Fashionable types of all ages have caught on to the woven necklace trend of braiding beads and metals to make chunky statement necklaces that drape across collar bones. But the strands at the back of the neck are getting special attention from designers across the world, too, including a German design team called Mongrels in Common (MIC). The MIC look from Berlin Fashion Week features thick, mahogany-brown leather braids. Glass and metallic gold accents offset the dark brown braids, making it a statement necklace that can transition well between the seasons. Amy Nix, founder and designer of Nix&stones, created a similar look with her necklace, which is sold at Vico’s in Leawood. The braided-necklace trend is a fresh look for fall, said Nix, who has dazzled celebrities such as Maria Shriver and Jennifer Nettles with her designs. “This piece would look amazing with a white tank top or a white blouse,” Nix said. “To take this piece into fall, I would pair it with a turtleneck or a sweater.” Photographer Markus Schreiber Get “Twisted” with this Nix&stones necklace ($250). Available at Vico’s in Mission Farms, 10671 Mission Road, Leawood, 913-469-1777, www.shopvicos.com.

Fashion Fusion | Braided details add interest to jewelry

By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star Photographer JIM BARCUS | The Kansas City Star“American Cursive Handwriting” (LDG Publishing, $35) by Michael Sull, www.spencerian.com Handwriting instruction is on the verge of a renaissance. Michael Sull of Gardner is a master penman in Spencerian script; past president of the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting; and author of four books on handwriting. His latest work, “American Cursive Handwriting,” was released this month. Sull spent seven years designing the book to be a self-study curriculum guide and workbook for adults and children, especially homeschool families. “It was really important to me to write a really thorough handwriting manual, a stand-alone book that parents could use with their children,” Sull said. Homeschool parent Karen Rogers of Gardner taught her daughter the value of good penmanship by writing Bible verses in cursive. “Some kids need to hear it or see it; some need to write it,” said Rogers, who also taught for six years at elementary schools across the country. A recent study by researchers at Indiana University found that strong penmanship skills can lead to increased brain activity. Victoria Chandler, a sixth-grade teacher at Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Gardner, has emphasized the importance of good handwriting since she started teaching more than 30 years ago. “Within the past 20 years, cursive has slowly disappeared,” Chandler said. “I’ve written on the board in cursive and have had kids near to tears because they couldn’t read it.” Computer classes and preparation for state assessments have replaced cursive instruction, she said. Chandler met Sull about two years ago at a post office. She noticed the intricately detailed calligraphy scrolled on the front of his letter, and their mutual appreciation for handwriting grew from there. They teamed up to charter a Pioneer Ridge handwriting club, in which students learn about good penmanship, proper posture, working with different types of paper and the correct way to hold a pen. “He talks to them about the importance of taking the time to slow down and write and how personal somebody’s handwriting can be,” Chandler said. “The kids just love it.” Sull, Chandler and Rogers value a thoughtfully penned letter over a text or email. Sull’s book sets out to rejuvenate and re-personalize communication. “I wanted to bring back the joy of personal expression and using personal letters,” he said. “It is so important.” To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to jhoermann@kcstar.com.

Author prods people to get more personal by perfecting penmanship