Flying Together, In Particular

This morning, I contemplated flight.

I was only contemplating the average airplane variety at first. As I drank my first cup of coffee, I checked ticket information and layover times, tucked my passport in the carry-on, checked the weather forecast over the ocean on Friday and considered the likelihood of a mechanical failure on a Boeing 737 during a period of Mercury in retrograde.

“What a lame time to leave the country,” I thought as I managed to conjure up a healthy amount of guilt as I considered all the reasons the business would struggle in my absence.  “If all of Hot Tomato lived inside a snow globe, I pondered…the whole studio, all the clients and files, bank records, garter bets and all the crew members too…If we were all in there together, it’s like someone picked it up and shook it for a whole month!”

{In this snow globe scenario, we’re all just kind of spinning around in there grabbing arm-fulls of hot tomato glitter and trying to organize it into tidy piles.} The truth is, we are a family that is rapidly growing, training, moving, changing, and recovering. Present and accounted for, we’re just a little disoriented.

Flight Cont.AMR_1789-21

If I’m really going to examine a concept, I enjoy Googling the root word and getting a clear definition.

flight: noun

  1. the action or process of flying through the air.
  2. a group of creatures or objects flying together, in particular.

With the above glitter globe reference, you can begin to see how my contemplation was taking shape.

I re-filled my coffee mug and took the necessary steps to ready myself for a day I knew would be filled with laughter and champagne, dazzling outfits, encouraging words and easy, authentic talent.

“IT’S SHOOT DAY!!” I see come up on our group chat from Jocelyn as I’m gathering up the last of my things to head out the door. “She’s cute for a morning person,” I smile.  She’s cheering from the sidelines today as she rocks her dreamy nine to five at the helm of The Betsey Mills Club. Today was actually deemed Vintage Hot Tomato because it was Andi shooting and Jesse assisting like the olden days of 2012 ;) But, it also highlighted for me just how much more glitter was in the globe these days.

~The Plan~

Shoot day will be Saturday. Tonya’s on hair and makeup, Jessica is Concierge to the clients, Jocelyn assists, Andi shoots and Jesse prepares far in advance of her travels, carefully making lists and packing things in a thoughtful order.

**glitter globe shake**

Woops, that’s Easter weekend!- Tonya and Jessica will both be out of town with family. BUT we decide we could make Monday work! Jesse would assist for Jocelyn, who would be at The Betsey and Jessica can cover for Tonya who is still out of town Monday. Jess would be home early enough on Sunday to wash the studio laundry, bring it in early and set up for client hair and make-up! Woohoo!

**glitter globe shake**

An evil bunny tried to take over the good Easter bunny’s job Sunday morning. But THEN….Unicorn Jessica swept in to save the day and dove in front of the Easter Bunny to save him to ensure all the kids got their Easter baskets!!! -a fictional dramatization by Courtney Smith

The real story is, Jess slipped in her pj’s moving the car and broke her arm. On Easter morning. In Cleveland. …SO, Jocelyn delivered the studio laundry to Andi to be washed and drove to Selby to pick up Jess and take her home to rest. MEANWHILE, Tonya is coordinating Abigail (whom she has been training in the art of Hot Tomato make-up) to cover the day in a pinch (her first solo day).

Abigail was able to cover with less that 12 hours notice and did AWESOME! Jocelyn was still cheerful in the morning after delivering dirty laundry and broken unicorns, I got to assist with client care and shooting (which I adored), Andi arrived with clean laundry and photographed masterfully. Clients were happy, crew felt loved and cared for, plans are being formulated to cover my absence and Jess’s recuperation and just. like. that. #tidyglitterpiles

Really, just when you think all hell is breaking loose, doesn’t that seem to be the precise moment that that everyone’s best selves come bursting out in little super hero capes? I hope you’re lucky enough to keep company with such folks but if you are in need of an infusion, join us.  

I always liked “Birds of a feather flock together” but I think  ” a group of creatures or objects flying together, in particular” might suit us better!

Thank you to my crew for doing just that! I love you all to bits.

Dirty Thirties HANDLED

“Stella, I’m 37. What a completely lame age to be.” I said out loud to my golden retriever this morning as I slurped shrimp-flavored ramen for breakfast at 11:15am.

I stayed up really late last night migrating images from my personal Instagram with the business name to a business Instagram with the business name per the instruction of my cousin slash best friend slash marketing consultant, Rachel Hyde. She thinks my personal life is too tied up in the business and it’s difficult for first-time clients to navigate the social media platforms. She’s right.

So, to completely defy all reason, I have decided to use this particular platform to … tell a completely hypothetical story about something that could happen to anyone (it’s totally about me.)

A stand-out, sure fire way to tell that you’re plummeting into the depths of mid-life crisis is looking in the mirror to find that the head of hair that frames your face is grey. NOT the natural kind that you get from living a pure and decent life but a grey that started out grey but was covered up with brown followed by a more striking black, stripped down to a ginger color, tortured into an ashish blond, covered in royal purple, faded to a yellowish lavender, bleached of all remaining dignity and strength, tapped, foiled and woven into a frenzy, coaxed back into a periwinkle color and finally DYED grey for the low, low price of roughly $1,300. THAT is when you re-evaluate your beauty standards. And your life.

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The Invisible Woman

It’s only a matter of time. I actually fear it.

The day that I walk into a room and no one takes notice.

I am a woman who doesn’t mind being looked at. I wear my emotions, ideals, convictions and intentions on my tattooed sleeves…and statement necklaces, ripped jeans, scarves, dangly earrings, big hats and high heeled boots.

People notice me and I like that. But maybe one day I will disappear…

It’s probably me.

It’s possible that I will tire of coming up with new and interesting ways to decorate myself. Maybe the age in my face will prevent me from wanting to draw attention to it with make-up. Perhaps my body will take such a rapid nose dive that the confident woman I am today will turn into an insecure hermit in one week’s time.

Fade /fād/ verb- the process of becoming less bright

The thought of losing color and brightness actually terrifies me. Picturing my closet full of bold colors and loud prints slowly being replaced with plain, pastel cotton knits that sag from my neck and waistband in exactly the same way they do on the plastic hangers makes me shudder.

Faded hair, faded skin, faded clothes…But why? Are we actually ashamed of what our bodies are anatomically designed to do in the second half of our lives? Is it a cultural leftover? One that  states that once a woman is past childbearing age, she should just blow away useless on a breeze? Here’s my personal favorite. We often stand in judgement of other women. Then, we are totally shocked when that same language rings in our own ears. “She’s dressing too young.” “She’s trying too hard.” “Her poor husband must be so embarrassed!”

No No No No NO!8982068ecd30085eb2667e723f1ee8e3

I will NOT quietly fade away. In FACT, THIS image is hanging beside my closet! I WILL wear animal print and chartreuse hats and leggings and ….I’ll have 107 wigs and sunglasses in odd shapes and I’ll walk around town with a whole pineapple just because. My shoes will be magnificent too. Maybe I’ll wear Chucks with an old wedding gown. I’m OLD! No one is going to say anything and even if they do, it will be something like “Wow, look at that amazing ol broad!” #oldladygoals

Black Label Sessions

We don’t have to get old to feel faded. There are lot’s of women that feel invisible for a million different reasons. Andi and I went to work to create a top-shelf session, brilliant with color designed to “reclaim, replenish and reignite…” Meet The Black Label Session.

Think about those words for a moment.

Reclaim- Has a part of you started to fade away? Your style or unique identity? We have you covered. Personal shopping with a master stylist is something we offer and Parlor chats are always on the house if talking it out with a friend is what you need.
Replenish- Are you so busy being in service to others that you continually let your own needs fall off the priority list? At Hot Tomato, self care is number one. We are a group of women that will show you how to prioritize yourself in 100 different ways!
Reignite- Passion. How much of that are you swimming in lately? Let’s get that spark glowing red again! Have you recently become inspired to political activism? Dying to finally write that novel? Ready to climb to the top of the corporate ladder? Longing for regular, red-hot romps with your lover? Let us help light your fire.

join us.

Are you ready to give yourself permission to reclaim, replenish and reignite with a Black Label Session? There are so many ways to make that happen. Please take a moment to select the session options that suit you best on this Contact Form and a crew member will be in touch right away.

Default Beauty


Being a person of less than advanced ability with all things technology, I had owned my Samsung Galaxy S6 for 8 months when I discovered the “beauty face” setting on my phone’s camera.

Beauty Face is a sliding scale that one can use on the selfie setting.  It activates by default (#8) if you use the front-facing camera. In effect, it airbrushes your face and gives you options to make your face look slimmer and your eyes look bigger.

“Wow Samsung. When you get a brand new phone and go to take a selfie and realise that the default setting on the front camera is automatically on “Beauty level 8” which evidently means: seriously airbrushed face. This means everyone who gets a new Samsung phone and flicks the front camera on is automatically being told ‘Hi, we’re Samsung and we think you look way better when we automatically airbrush your selfies for you, x 8!!’ Thanks @samsungmobile for the vote of confidence, I think I’ll keep my freckles and imperfections since this is how I look in 3D and this is how all my friends see me in real life. I hope young girls are buying iPhones instead of Samsungs. (Wait, do iPhones do this too?) To clarify – no apps here – this is Samsung’s DEFAULT FRONT CAMERA SETTING.”  ~Mel Wells, the author of “The Goddess Revolution”

So, I tried to be mad. I am, after all an advocate for loving your body just the way it is, a fighting feminist and a mother of three teenage girls. But, I’m not angry and here’s why:

Samsung isn’t forcing us to use the tool just like your local tattoo artist isn’t forcing us into their shops to get phoenix birds on our shoulder blades. It’s just a way to alter your image if you choose to. I do this most days with makeup.

“I’m going to do my makeup real quick”


This is make-up + Beauty Face “2”. Please note that I love both images. I enjoy how BF2 smooths my forehead scars, neck skin tags and cleavage wrinkles in photos although I’m still proud to share them with the real physical world.

I tweeze, exfoliate, moisturize, prime and conceal. This is followed by foundation, contouring, blush and highlighting with a translucent powder set.  Next, brow conditioning primer, powder brow fill followed by colored brow pomade and concealer sharpening. Next, I prime my eyelids, apply 3 shades and liquid liner. I then curl my eyelashes, glue and set false lashes and after that dries, blend my natural lashes into the false ones. Time for the last layer of overall face- another coat of concealer (under eye) and all over “warming” with a medium contour shade. Spray set. Then lip exfoliator/conditioner, lip liner, base color, blot, powder, liner, top color, blot, gloss.

If they ever sell a Beauty Face slider that transforms your actual face on the days that you chose to, I will buy it. (As long as I can still do my own brows- I really love doing that.)


Now, the “default” setting weirds me out a bit. Having to physically dial down the beauty setting just to look like you really look..that sends a message I think.

At Hot Tomato, you get to choose your “Default Beauty”. Did you know that? We don’t have a single box we put everyone in.  We want to photograph you. You get to tell us what kind of beauty you would like to capture. Here’s where you start- Tell Us

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ll update the post with your comments.

Email them to

Hot Tomato Pick of the Week!

ALARM ALARM! Calling all current and aspiring GDHT’s! The Parkersburg Art Center is stepping a bit out of the box with this event and we all need to show our support so we keep more fun workshops coming!

Stumped on what to get the lover that has it all?? Here is your answer! Heart. Shaped. Pasties. I KNOW!!

An event such as this is guaranteed to attract some of the funest girls in the MOV! (Of COURSE I’ll be there!)

Feb 3, 2017 6-8pm

All craft bits and instruction supplied.



Get your ticket HERE!

Come as You Are

What if you could come just to the studio for your session… as you are?amr_3200_bw-5

Sleep in that day. After a long shower, the kind where you just stand there in no particular hurry and let the water just run all over you. Drain the hot water tank until you are in a thick cloud of rolling steam! When you push the curtain to the side, stroll out like a super-star emerging from the fog at a rock concert. Cover your body in your favorite body cream or baby soft powder. Leisurely dress in your soft cotton tank, over-sized sweater and favorite faded jeans. Welcome your curves to spill and remain soft and pliable. Pile a love-worn scarf loosely around your neck and shoulders and slip on leather loafers.amr_3295_hh-9

Go out and start your car well before you intend to leave so it’s too warm when you head out and you have to crack the window as you start down the road. (My favorite scenario is when the heat in the car is unbearably blasting and I open the sun roof when it’s snowing!) Your favorite mug in hand, the one that molds to your hands and warms your heart, you breathe it in deep and turn on music. Drive like a tourist. Notice the interesting architecture and natural landscape of the neighborhood you usually speed through.amr_3196_bw-4

When you arrive in our space, you’ll smell coffee and hear laughter. Your time with us will follow the natural path of self care that you’ve already started.

Your session is just that, yours. You. Not always a dressed up, cinched in and painted version. Rather, soft, natural, relaxed and unfettered. I know this kind of session speaks more to me where I am at this moment in my life. Maybe it speaks to you as well.

I’d love to here your thoughts. Begin Here <3

Fierce Mama Love


Can they ALL be my favorite session? For serious. Look at these.rfp_7288-2

This Mama knows how to rock a bump, now. Week 38 didn’t exactly look the same on me if memory serves. “Fierce” isn’t just a sexy buzz word I’m putting in here either, I’ve seen this mama bear with her THREE other littles! (You read that right) The love, the snuggles, the..ahem..”shaping of character” that is the hardest and best gift we can give our children…this Mama has it all!

She’s brilliantly funny, drop dead gorgeous and happens to be married to a lifetime friend of our photographer in training (yeah, you read that right too). Training.

Jocelyn: “A boudoir maternity shoot..this will be a first!”

My jaw flopped to the floor when these proofs were placed in my hand. STUN.NING. Just pure magic! I mean, here we have a great photographer that adores what she does, photographing a super sweet and hilarious friend who is blissfully expecting an already flipping ADORED baby girl! Mama is also super hot and had a brilliant hair and makeup team and was photographed in the most kickin studio in Marietta…maybe even the WORLD!

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So yeah, you could say I was pleased with the results ;)

ALSO, guess who’s birthday is TODAY? That’s right! Happy Birthday, Kennedy Sue <3

You got one fierce Mama, sweetheart!!

It’s a Fashion Takeover!

Psst! Hey, you.  Yea, you! Did you hear the latest dish with what’s going on at The Hot Tomato Studio this month?  Ohhhh girlfriend, let me tell you. Have you ever wanted to have your very own personal wardrobe stylist but never thought you could afford something like that? Or HECK, like there would ever be someone like that here in the Mid-Ohio Valley?  Well do we have a treat for you! There IS a personal wardrobe stylist in the area.

This month The Hot Tomato Studio is going to have yours truly, Courtney Smith of 7.4.0 here teaching you how to purposefully layer your clothing so you can feel like a fashionista and look like a pro.  I’ve taken over the Hot Tomato blog today just so I can deliver this message straight to your inbox! You’ll have the chance to practice what I teach you and be able to ask me anything you want to know about perfecting your style.


As if it couldn’t get any better, you’ll get to enjoy a social hour where we lavish you with drinks and snacks so you can get to know me, the stylist better and tour the space if you’ve never been there before.  We’ll share laughs and maybe even have a little dance party! Who knows what could happen when you get a group of women in one space together.

During the second half of the workshop you’ll learn how to mix patterns.  Let’s face it, that is a whole art form all on its own and I’m going to give you the best tips and tricks so you’ll possess the “know-how” when it comes to spicing up your style.


I want to make sure you get as much as you can out of this workshop, so if you want to bring a piece of clothing that you’ve had a hard time figuring out how to wear or what to pair it with, BRING IT!  I’m here to teach you how to feel confident in the clothing that you wear.

We’re booking in advance and this workshop is $30.00 per person.  The workshop is on Saturday, January 28th from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.  There are only 10 spots available and we’re already starting to fill up.  Click on this link to sign up.  You can pay with PayPal or send a check to reserve your spot (private message me on the facebook link for my mailing address).  There will be no refunds available but you can transfer your ticket to someone else or wait for the next workshop and it will save your spot for next time.    If you don’t already follow me on social media, I’m on facebook and instagram as randomosity740.  Don’t have social media?  I also have a website where you can learn more about me at  Hope to see you there and bring your friends!  Can’t wait to meet you :)

~Courtney Smith~


The Book of Love

A little black book will have a BIG impact.

Hot Tomato loves to tell a story with images. Flip through this fiery selection and see if you can guess the plot twist!

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Fill out our Contact Form and we will get you booked right away.

Hot Tomato Pick of the Week

MOV Red Tent

Okay..actual quotes from me, Jesse Hyde earlier this fall when Cat I asked if Hot Tomato would like to be involved.

“Wait, is this one of those events where white ladies pretend they’re in a sweat lodge?”

No, no!  It’s a gathering for women to reconnect to their authentic selves and celebrate being women.

“Hmm..we don’t all have to menstruate into the same bowl or anything, right?”

Good Lord, Hyde…


No, we are definitely NOT going to do that.

“Can we set up a Parlor and have drink specials and play Cards Against Humanity?”



Yes, really.

“Okay, we’re in!”

So…I went to a meeting last night to discuss in detail how we would fit in. Since I can’t exactly speak to what everyone else is offering, I will tell you about what you will experience in the Hot Tomato corner {oh yes, I totally made sure we were in a corner.”} You’re welcome.

First off, we are an adult women only area even though the rest at large is a girls 12 and up space. Women that enter the tent with an alcoholic beverage will be pointed to our corner to enjoy it inside the tent.

My vision for the inside is inspired by the “Companion” room on Firefly. More gypsy boudoir than primitive sweat lodge. Currently looking for a  tent chandelier ;)

As for the experience, we plan to operate like we do in our Parlor. We will welcome you 43d52367288a58af2f650a857af9fd55warmly and give you what you need.  A break, an escape, a chat, a shot, a shoulder to cry on, a board game partner, a nap, a hug, a belly laugh…whatever. You can pop in and finish your cocktail or stay the whole day! We look forward to seeing many familiar faces and meeting all kinds of new ones.

Bring a friend or come alone and meet them in the tent.

You’re welcome. You’re honored. You’re accepted.

…and you don’t have to chant and shit like that.


Get your ticket HERE!