ootra ....boxes arrive...

today…..boxes arrived…..with many surprises….inside…..soooo hard to explain the excitement of when UPS pulls up to my door…the sound…of the truck.. the sight of the UPS man stacking the boxes and then carrying them inside…the signing for them and then…kim and i look at each other….smile…grab the scissors..and begin…opening and revealing….if courtenay is home..she comes running down…to seize possession with wanton lust…which truth be told we ALL do….some with squeals…some with silence…some with giggles…and some of you just grab faster than my eye can seeeee…BOX STYLE does EXIST…

the first thing that goes through my mind…which one of my girls(clients) would love each piece…i pull specifically for you..and put aside before my veteran vultures grab:)

i love absorbing all of the energy of the styles of “the grab”….i observe..i listen…i sense…this is when i get my REWARDS for the choices i made months ago(truly months from when i order)….this is when i collect the “happy” for taking a chance..for extending myself ..for pushing myself..beyond comfort…into the risk zone….knowing in my core…all is well….but STILL….in that moment…is when ..i seek gratitude.. solace and peace….to continue on with my vision…

so…never feel grabby or greedy…by rushing in for my boxes….you ARE a welcome vision…and most of all a welcome energy….that is my christmas morning over and over again….thank you…xoxo

the days boxes do NOT come…rare…but it happens…..oddly enough…i find my inner voice…of insecurity saying…thank god….a day of peace…no $$ whooshing out…and this is ONLY for a second…that the innser side of me is allowed to think or say…because within seconds…my true self takes over….and is sad..no surprises…no UPS truck…no ripping open cardboard…no visions of imagination and styling magic to be had this morning…..

simply put…boxes bring energy…light…fantasy…imagination…and magic to me..to ootra and to all of you….if you have not experienced a box opening at ootra…you should truly put this on your list “to do” this year…because it truly is an intimate moment of MAGIC shared…


OOTRAgirl cookie recipe…
my ootragirl chocolate chip cookies are best if baked on snowy days!!

2 sticks butter softened (set out over night)
¾ c sugar
¾ c brown sugar
1 ½ T REAL vanilla (the expensive beautiful kind)
1 t baking soda
2 eggs (I whisk them in a separate bowl then put in with everything else)
2-2 ¼ c flour depending on weather

realize baking is an art… it is sensitive to the weather .. the humidity.. your mood.. be observant and adjust..

preheat oven 375
parchment paper on your cookie sheets

put the sticks of butter in your bowl ..fluff them up …then
put everything else in the mixing bowl except for the flour..

mix for awhile til the dough is a beautiful consistency … then slowly add the flour…
once all mixed…

pour YES I said POUR in your chocolate chips… as many as you feel like.. I usually use 2 ½ bags …at least…
again a visual decision for you..

use two tablespoons to scoop out the balls of dough for your cookies..
and place in the cookie sheet in a random pattern… forget exactness that ruins the organic nature of their shape to be… then put in the oven..
just as they’re about turn brown take them out…about 8-10 min
slip the parchment paper and cookies off the cookie sheet then put a new piece of paper on and repeat the process..remember spacing fun…

being the impatient girl I am ..I open the oven door way too many times.. but I can’t help it… the light ..the glass door isn’t the same as truly really seeing them ..

my two secrets
under cooking
and tons of chips…

remember to smile and love your baking process!!!!
so cozy and fun… let the kids help always!!!
best memories ever!!!

I always package mine up and finish off with twine then pass them out throughout my day!!

the ones left behind at home are displayed on a beautiful tiered cake plate …

“it’s all in the details!!”
~obsessive ootragirl


Courtenay Cozy EATS For Mid Winter Weekends!

The OOTRA'bsolute perfect recipe for mid winter STYLE!!! Cozy … multiple layers…of taste and goodness!!

Shepherds Pie:

1.5 pounds ground beef (93% lean)
½ teaspoon baking soda
mashed potatoes
1 onion chopped
white mushrooms t1.5 pounds ground beef (93% lean)
½ teaspoon baking soda
mashed potatoes
1 onion chopped
white mushrooms trimmed and chopped (no stems)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs thyme
2 carrots chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Toss beef with 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ teaspoon baking soda and set aside for 20 min

Make mashed potatoes and set aside to cool a bit

Sauté onions, mushrooms salt and pepper until brown bits form
stir in tomato paste until dark brown
add 2 tablespoons wine and scrape up browned bits until it’s all evaporated

Stir in flour
add beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, and carrots
bring to boil

Put heat to medium low and add chunks of ground beef and simmer gently
cover and cook 10-12 min stirring and breaking up chunks halfway through

Mix cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water and add to pan
take out thyme
season with salt and pepper
put in a casserole dish or multiple mini ones

Put mashed potatoes in a ziplock and cut off a corner of the bag to make a piping thing and pipe over casserole (or just put the mashed potatoes on top)
smooth potatoes out so there aren’t any holes
broil until golden brown
(keep an eye on it!)


ghost cookies…when I was a little girl a neighbor lady handed these out to us on halloween… of course.. I never could get enough… I have been baking these for as long as I can remember… eating as many as I possibly can….
my delicious childhood memory re lived every year and shared with my children..

ootragirl....off to the slopes...

is it possible for me? to truly get away? and back it down? the mountains..the sky…the air…the slopes?

i know…i need it….i know..my team is beyond incredible…and will be fine without me…perhaps even happy..that crazy me.. is gone…:) the business side of me …knows..minus me…they will be able to shine..and better yet…grow….with the space….

today…i have sat on my couch…created orders for many of our lines…reviewed the upcoming 6 mths…yes….baked brownies…and made paninis for lunch as a diversion from focus…and yet that is what creates better focus for me…

i leave tomorrow…return monday…then we ootragirls……nikki..megan..and me….fly to nyc ..for fashion week….raul penaranda show…incredible experience …to be…they will love nyc….they will love the show…they will love ALL…..

part of owning a retail boutique…is allowing the team who help to build the store with you……to experience the “whole” of the “retail story”…they need to see the dreaming..the ordering…the theory..the concept…the implementation…the boxes…the piecing of all to a cohesive look….resulting in a more thorough comprehension and belief within the brand…and then to better serve our wonderful girls and guys who come in…to shop at ootra and be styled…

the depth..the understanding…the being within…the brand….is priceless..and helps to instill a responsibility to our team and goals… improvement….always…also to comprehend the pressure i “feel”….

i know.. it is my responsibility to create the most ootra'intense environment possible for our ootra'girlies who love coming in.. whether to talk..sit or shop…this is created through keeping megan..nikki…natalie..lavon…julie…dialed into my layers of my inner mind ..without overwhelming them…

it is quite the inner mind……very intense…which is darting every which way..as you can only imagine….sooo….the more i can get my girls to know whats within…the better they become…

sooo…the next four days….i will be gone…and our team will flourish…with the space…time  and fun…of approaching valentines day…one of our favorites….LOVE….

come on in this weekend and help support my ootragirlies…and remember we are closed wednesday…february 15th…in honor of nyc fashion week..and raul penaranda…

ootragirl…off to the slopes…


INSIDE PEEK into ootragirl's closet

One of the best gifts I received this year for my birthday a couple of weeks ago …from Lauren and Natalie.

They gifted me a “clean my closet”
which was magical…

LOVE you both!!!
LOVE your passion and hearts filled with vision!!

I had moved my office and closet from Chicago all into a room on the first floor and shut the door 5 years ago.. Overwhelming to go in and grab what I needed…I would close my eyes to the rest… no time …

The girls offered to organize it and I said good luck!!

I asked them to write a story about their experience ….. here they are:


Walking into Debbie’s closet was like walking into a vault of memories and inspiration.
Pieces of all styles layered the hardwood floor in piles of past events, and gorgeous shoes of infinite designs sat on shelves filling a whole wall ceiling to floor, left to right. Limitless textures hung from velvet hangers, and filled the room with their vibrancy.
As I was admiring the remarkable collection I saw designer statement items that inspired so many of the pieces that have been brought in to Ootra.. From a Prada backpack that inspired Debbie’s very own Ootra backpack to a number of feather adorned pieces, leather pants, structured blazers, dresses, and brocade jackets, it was all there.. the story of Ootra as well as Debbie herself could be read just from standing at the closet’s entry way.. there was simply nowhere for the eye to rest.
As I delved more into the magical wardrobe, one thing became very clear.. Debbie had little to no loyalty to any one designer or brand. The clothing was so diverse that it could be seen.. depending on how she’s feeling any given day, she had the piece to fulfill that mood, or perhaps even the opposite of that mood.. you do NOT have to stay consistent with any style or “look”.. It can be as ever changing as the thoughts and feelings that go through your head. After seeing the in’s and out’s of a closet that anyone could only dream of having, it was impossible to recall just one favorite piece, however I will say that her Swarovski collection of bras and even a masquerade mask adorned completely in crystals was very tantalizing.
I learned a lot from adventuring through that closet.. and just when I thought I had Debbie Jagel figured out.. I remember she has two more closets upstairs ;)

After all of these years, the time has finally come! I was about to dive into a tornado of fashion from Ootragirl’s personal closet. With the little room there was to walk, your eyes are immediately drawn to a collection of shoes taking up the entire wall space. Peaking over to the left side, you’ll find stacks and stacks of converse in every color you desire! While skimming the floor, there was one thing that was just about in every corner…sparkle! And yes- that does include sparkle bras J Stashes of glitter and bits and pieces of fabric were poking out everywhere… and I could not stop obsessing over the layers of tulle.. tutu style <3

As Lauren and I began sorting through the piles on the floor, we came across a very special little black bag.. it was the original backpack design that she personally carried around before making it her own. It was so precious to see one of her inspiration pieces and I loved that she amped it up by adding a fun interior fabric and interchangeable straps!

Then I came across a piece from the old store! I loved reconnecting with our old Ootra business cards that had a picture of the store or a piece of fashion on the back of it. Once again, we uncovered a bag that contained old hardware pieces that were being considered before the final look of the Ootra tote bag.

After an hour or so had passed by, I discovered a sleek black box… I was curious as to what I would find- as I have noticed that Debbie usually does not store her fashion pieces in boxes. Upon opening it, my eyes lit up and I knew that I found treasure..

Even with the low lighting in the room, I swear every inch of that piece was glistening! There were only 3 things in that box: a wand, a mask, and a card that read Swarovski. I felt the groves of each gem that was placed on the mask and my mind instantly took me to the ball.

It’s no wonder why the closet had been stuck in tornado mode for such a long time. Fashion takes you places- even without putting it on.. While I do not know the back story for 90% of those pieces I found, it would be too much crazy for Ootragirl Debbie to have to sort through a lifetime of memories!!

To say the least, it was an invigorating experience that will never be forgotten!