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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

At the beginning of this week, I shared in a post about how I wasn’t the least bit sad to see 2014 go, in fact it was more like I was happy to slam the door in its face!  Already I’m loving 2015!

I mentioned one bummer from 2014 involved Ellen DeGeneres…  well, here’s the story….

I tried and tried but couldn’t get tickets to go to a live taping of her show!

Nah… just kiddin’ that would be a lame story.


Back in the summer I was contacted and asked to audition to represent an “A List” celebrity that was coming out with a home line.  We were almost done filming “Knock It Off!” and my agent encouraged me  to give it a go.

I was given the details and sent in my tape.

A few weeks later I got some feedback.  They were going in another direction. The feedback I got was that they really liked my tape, but my look wasn’t quite what they were looking for. Maybe the top knot, red lip, and leather jacket wasn’t my best decision, but it was a quick turn around time and it’s what I tossed on.  Oh well, it’s always a bummer to get a no, but I wasn’t overly down about it.

A few weeks later we were vacationing in Newport with my family when I got a call…

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They decided they wanted me to continue in the process and I had a Skype interview with the celeb’s casting team in LA in a few hours.  I jumped on my phone to find a salon where I could get my hair blown out (if you don’t know, I have the world’s thickest, often unruly hair, so “beach hair” doesn’t work for an interview in my world.)  I found a salon, skipped out on the beach, and rushed back to the beach house for my Skype conference.

Funny thing… since I would be repping and helping to sell home decor type products, they asked me to do a quick “sample sell” during my conference.  Choose something you love they told me… Umm… I’m at a rented beach house with very sparse decor.  I searched high and low and ended up with this kinda cheesy “Beach this Way” sign.


I finished the Skype conference, and felt 100% confident it didn’t go well.  I guess I was in a weird place, with a weird beach sign, and it wasn’t my A game.  Oh well, I headed back out to the beach with my fam and looked at the silver lining- at least I had good hair on the beach now!

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Weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything. I wasn’t surprised (remember… awkward beach sign sales pitch!) Eventually, I did hear back and yup, they were going in another direction, a second time.

By this time, I had heard who the celebrity was… Ellen.  My Ellen.  I can say that because I love that lady and she’s my “I’ve arrived” person.  You know how you can have some goals that if you achieve them, it’s like you can retire and just be fully confident you worked your tail off.  Well, when I first was asked to be on Nate Berkus’ show years ago, I told my family that I wouldn’t rest until I got to do something with Ellen-because she’s awesome and loves doing good stuff for people.  Finding out that I was really close to that goal and didn’t even know it, bummed me out.

It was a little early in my career plan to meet Ellen anyhow, so I decided to just keep on keeping on.


Flash forward about another month or so and yup, you guessed it, they called me again.  This time I was told I was one of the few final people they were considering and I needed to meet with Ellen’s team that was flying in from LA for meetings. I was given a few details about what I was going to be doing while I was there and then it was recommended to go with my “softer style” when I was picking out wardrobe.

I put together an outfit that I wasn’t 100% confident in,  I felt like it had a little bit of me, just in a more subtle way. A more vanilla way I guess.   I took my nose ring out (Gasp!) and headed to NYC.

I saw this huge ad on my drive in and of course had to snap a pic.  Who knows, could’ve been a sign! Ha!

I met with the team, and felt like it went much, much better than the last time.  I really am comfortable doing things in person.  Skype was weird, and this was more me in my element.  I felt good when it was done.  Of course I second guessed a few things- somehow we ended up chatting about me owning ducks and dogs, and cats etc… Ugh! Never mention you have a small menagerie when you’re on a first date.  That’s a rule! Oh well. Minus them thinking I could possibly be a hick farm girl it was great.

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(Our duck Chase and Kenzie. photo via)

I headed home from NYC feeling happy to have gotten my shot, and even a tad excited to be on a tape that Ellen would get to see! (They taped the entire thing.)

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Well, since this story was part of my worst year post, you can guess the ending.  They “went another direction” again. This time for reals.

 I felt like this.  I’m not a crier, but if I was this would be me…

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(Fav xmas pic ever. Kaden at age 2 or 3)

I did a good bit of second guessing.  I’m usually a really confident person, but this did give me a bit of a debbie downer vibe for a few weeks.  I kept wondering what I could have done differently, what I needed to work on in the future etc… I had one friend, whose opinion I really respect, ask me, “How do you know you did anything wrong.  What if they really did just want something different.  Just be you”

My HUGE takeaway from my Ellen saga (it felt like a saga with all the no, well yes, well no, well come back again, okay, really no) is that I need to be myself always.  I worked hard to try and tweak who I was to get this gig.  I wore an outfit I didn’t feel right in, took my nose ring out, and just tried to tweak the real me.  Well, lesson learned and I’m happy to have learned it, because in this TV business it’s one I’ll need to remember I’m sure.

This IG post was the day I found out I didn’t get the job.

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I’m sure you’re wondering who DID get the job (that is if you’re still reading and my ramblings didn’t put you to sleep).  The good news is that I was beat out by someone completely legit.

Taniya Nayak from HGTV and a million shows like Designed to Sell, House Hunters, etc… is working with Ellen.


I would love to tell you I’m 100% over it, and for the most part I am.  I’m not one to dwell on stuff for too long, but when I saw this selfie on IG, I might have died just a little inside! I may or may not have photoshopped my head over Taniya’s… no just kidding. That would be weird (and I lack those photoshop skills, so if you have those skills and would want to… just saying’)



I was excited to be headed to the DR with Jess for a girls only beach week right after I’d heard the news.  This here beach was just what debbie downer needed.  Sun, books, and my BFF.

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I came home happy and recharged.  I realized one of the reasons I LOVE Ellen is because of all the incredible things she does for people.  I admire how she uses her platform to do good.  I decided that even though my platform is more like a tiny cardboard box I stand on, that I too can just keep on focusing on doing good stuff.  So, I volunteered to re-do an entire retail space for an anti-human-trafficking organization.  Heck, I had free time, since I didn’t get the job, might as well do some good.


Ellen might never know, but she taught me about being myself and she inspired me to use my mini platform to do something for a great organization. I count that as a win. 

Next week I’ll be sharing more from my retail space makeover for Worthwhile Thrift & The Freedom Boutique.  Can’t wait for you to see the before and afters of the stores!


Boutique After 8

So there it is guys.  I didn’t get the Ellen gig.  Don’t worry, she’s still my “I’ve arrived” goal!

Happy Weekend Peeps!


The comments +

  1. Marg Taipalus says:

    You are “good people”, Monica! You also have your head on pretty straight, which is only part of what I admire about you. You came out a big winner, after all. YES, you did! You still hold Ellen in high esteem. You were sad, but you aren’t bitter; that’s the first step toward personal success. You had the good sense to do a beach retreat with your BFF… how sweet was that?! And then you got busy on the retail space makeover. The secret to happiness… deep, lasting, satisfying happiness… is being grateful and thankful for all you have, and also getting to work! What an excellent combination! Keep us posted. We are listening and reading! 😀

  2. Melissa says:

    Wow! What a roller coaster of an experience! You should still be super flattered you were on the ride. I can relate because I had a similar experience except with just one big high and one really really big low with Emily Henderson. I try really hard not to have those Sliding Doors moments a wonder ‘what if?’

  3. Tiffany says:

    Wait. You have an agent?! Great story, great attitude. P.S. Yesterday I finally clicked BUY on that Hustle/Humble print myself, can’t wait for it to arrive.

  4. I believe this is a story that will end up with a happy ending, ED was not your story it was your lesson to let you know something bigger and better is out there for you!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Deb's says:

    Monica, I love you….being you! I especially love you having the same attitude of giving! One more thing I do love…Your talent! Keep up the great work, you have big “homie” fans!

  6. Myhriah says:

    Wow!! What an honor to be in the top with Taniya!! That means you were amongst cool finalists.
    It’s big of you to share it, and grow from the experience…I’m glad you decided to be YOU. You are a pretty cool gal.
    I can’t wait to see what other opportunities happen for you, and I’m excited about your makeover on the Thrift Shop!!
    Keep on keeping on, and your time will come 🙂

  7. Mindy says:

    Aw. Regardless of whether you got the position, you were one of the few in the lead, which is pretty impressive already! PS- yes, don’t worry about your style. Be yourself sounds good to me. Looking forward to seeing what else you produce in 2015! And there is still a long lifetime to work together with Ellen. 🙂

  8. Jessica Martinez says:

    How incredible!! You should be so thrilled that you have been doing what you love for so long and that people (Ellen’s people) are recognizing it — along with the rest of the world! You are destined for great things!!

  9. Shavonda says:

    Wow! What an experience for sure. I love that you were able to look at it all with open eyes, an open heart and realize that being YOU is always the best option. You are incredible Monica. And honestly something tells me this wont be the last of this situation. These things have a funny way of coming back full circle. 😉

  10. Joni says:

    The tv station that played Knock It Off from the Live Well Network changed to old movies 24/7. I panicked….what will I do without Monica and Jess? That led to me finding this blog which is wonderful. I always had my eye on you….you seemed to be going places. About the Ellen event, I AM a crybaby so I’ll cry for you…LOL. I love seeing you young ladies doing things you love. I’m about to turn 60 but reading your blog has given me the kick that I needed to come out of retirement and so something I love now that my kids are grown. Keep up the great work. I hope to see you again on tv but if not I’ll watch you online.
    Take care and God bless,

  11. Twylla says:

    I too miss Knock It Off on Live Well Network. I’ve learned so many inexpensive tips from you & Jess. Hope to see more of your creative ideas in the future.

  12. Marcia says:

    love your show wanted desperately to connect w/you when you were doing the show.I live in a mobile home and hoped you and Jess wd. pick me for a cheap do over.But like you and your Ellen story,it wasn’t meant to be.You guys are my Ellen!!!!Anyway I wish you would get another show. You have so many followers.We all love what you and your imaginations can do!! And on a budget!! Amazing!!! Please keep us posted as to if and when we will be seeing you again.Fingers crossed!!!!!Maybe ,I’ll write to Ellen and ask her if she wd want to do a show about a retired Grandma who lives on a tight budget, getting her kitchen redone. Do I have nerve or what!!!!!!!!, Marcia

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