CITY GUIDE: Pittsburgh

September 5

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Blake Matthews of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

Pittsburgh has come a long way from the days of smog and steel mills.  Today, the city reigns as a cultural and culinary mecca.  With many distinctive neighborhoods each boasting their own attractions and charm, Pittsburgh has quickly made a name for itself as one of America’s top travel and living destinations.

Smack-dab in the middle of the diverse region, downtown is a great place to start your journey. Chocked-full of comfortably luxurious hotels, gourmet restaurants and acclaimed theaters, it’s any travelers dream.  The newly constructed Fairmont Hotel not only features outstanding views of the city and rivers, it’s also home to one of the area’s hottest restaurants, Habitat, where Executive Chef Andrew Morrison cooks up uniquely creative dishes with an international twist and local ingredients.

Just a few feet away lay Pittsburgh’s urban oasis, Market Square. Popular restaurants like NOLA, Diamond Market, Original Oyster House and Bluebird Kitchen surround the square and the sound of live music often fills the air. Up for a drink and a show? Stop by Seviche or Meat & Potatoes for creative cocktails and apps, then make your way to Pittsburgh Public or one of the Cultural Trust theaters and prepare to be entertained.

Hop on the trolley and head across (well, under) the river for another historic stop. Home to Heinz Field and PNC Park, the North Shore is a great place for any sports fan. Locals gather for drinks at Mullen’s or Finnegan’s Wake before heading into a Pirate game. Steeler fans head to Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 for a modern twist on bar fare before hitting the stadium. Stage AE is the newest addition to the shore, putting on indoor and outdoor concerts year round. The nearby Children’s Museum and Carnegie Science Center are less than apart and are must-sees for any young family. Art lovers can’t miss the Andy Warhol Museum, which pays homage to the Pittsburgh native and his eccentric point of view on life and art. The water steps on the North Shore Riverwalk are a great place to cool off with your kids and pets in the summertime.

Station Square is a short drive (or boat ride) away on the shores of the Monongahela River. The repurposed train station offers up familiar favorites like Hard Rock Café, Joe’s Crab Shack, Bar Louie and The Melting Pot. It’s a great spot to grab dinner and drinks or simply take in the city. Hop on the Gateway Clipper or take a Just Ducky Tour to see what the river has to offer. Next, channel your inner coal-miner and ride the iconic Monongahela Incline up to Mt. Washington.  At the top, incline riders are greeted with a breathtaking, bird’s eye view just inches away from yet another local hotspot. Shiloh Street is only a few short blocks away from the expensive, formal restaurants of Grandview Avenue, but has more of a fun, local flare. Redbeards and Shiloh Grill both offer outdoor seating and occasional live music.

Back down the incline and up Carson Street, you’ll find a collection unique eclectic shops and restaurants, peppered between bars and nightclubs. Students swarm here in droves at night and tend to pack the watering holes, but during the day there’s a lot to be said for its charm. The Milkshake Factory sells amazingly unique cool and chocolatey treats in a beautiful, vintage-chic shop. Café du Jour is one of South Side’s best-kept secrets, serving up delicious French cuisine in an intimate setting. Not far down the road is the new South Side Works – a great place to shop, relax, or rent a bike and see the city from a whole new angle.

On the other side of the city lies Pittsburgh’s famous Strip District. Every Saturday morning, the Strip is bustling with people shopping for local produce and handmade crafts at shops and stands in and around the Public Market. If you’re around in time for breakfast, DeLuca’s is the place to be. Don’t mind the lines, they’re well worth the wait. Give the seafood crepe a try if you dare. The Heinz History Center sits just between the Strip and downtown. Even locals flock here every season as the exhibits change to continue to appreciate their great city.

A stone’s throw away is the campus region of Oakland. Home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University, it’s more than just a college town. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History  flank the green space of Schenley Park. Here, Phipps Conservatory acts as a centerpiece of Oakland and is a favorite date and family destination.  Hungry yet? Check out the brand-new Porch at Schenley for locally sourced gourmet dining. Their Bianca pizza is a deliciously unique dish that’s perfect for sharing.

If you’re looking for a break from touring the town, head to Kennywood or Sandcastle to feel like a kid again.

The recent title of America’s Most Livable City is certainly well earned, but Pittsburgh can’t be overlooked as one of the hottest cities to visit, either. Crammed with culture and oozing with activity, this former City of Steel has something to offer for every walk of life. From young couples to growing families, sports fans to foodies, historians to art buffs, Pittsburgh is in a position to impress. A weekend here will turn skeptics to believers. A week will make it tough for visitors to keep from contemplating permanent residency.  If you’re thinking about paying us a visit, we’d love to have you. Bring your walking shoes, your cameras and your appetites. We’ll save you a seat.


3 New Things: September Edition

September 4

Every month, I attempt to try 3 new things. I’m happy to say that I succeeded last month and managed to send letters to friends/family, I went skinny dipping, AND finally got a grasp on video and editing. It was a good month and now I’m really excited for autumn and cooler weather.

Since I’m still on my spending freeze, I’ve stuck with doing things that won’t interfere with that:

  1. Create and post a video shot with my DSLR: I upgraded to a Canon T2i and am excited to shoot video with my new tripod!
  2. Host a swap party: Best way to get through the last month of my spending freeze? Get “new-to-me” stuff!
  3. Only buy produce from local farmer’s markets: I bought all of our week’s produce at the Grandview Farmer’s Market and plan to visit other local markets throughout the month!

Oh and if you haven’t noticed yet…my blog has a completely new look + name! If you’re curious as to why I chose to re-name it, check out my explanation here. I was never really attached to the name Show + Tell (I picked it impulsively when I switched to and I’ve noticed a lot of other people using the phrase “show and tell”  lately. I want to continually grow this space and it was time to pick something more meaningful. Let me know if you see any broken links/bugs/errors while clicking around!

In honor of this new look and start, I’m giving away a free blog re-design package (in WordPress) to one of my lovely readers! The package will include:

  1. Blog header design
  2. Social media/connect icons
  3. Customization of the Standard 2-column theme, horizontal navigation bar
  4. Web font + color customization
  5. Background
  6. Two rounds of revisions
You can enter multiple times below and I’ll choose a random winner on Friday morning + announce in the afternoon! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 | 2 

Disclaimer: If you’re currently on Blogger, I can transfer your content to WordPress but cannot guarantee that your photos will maintain the correct width. Also, in order to maintain a blog, you must own a domain name + purchase a hosting package. I can help you do this but you will be required to pay for this.



August 31

Loving: The opportunities that I’ve had after making the jump into self-employment. I’m learning about video, animation, email marketing, designing infographics and working with really amazing clients. This Monday is my 1-month mark! Maybe a celebration is in order.

Reading: Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro. I’m about halfway through and it really has be thinking about designing to solve problems vs designing for production services. I do believe that there can be a balance (especially when you’re earning your income) but I definitely am thinking. More on that later…

Watching: The Big Bang Theory (always).

Thinking about: I’m about to make some big changes to Show + Tell this weekend. So big that…it might not be called Show + Tell once Tuesday rolls around! I’ve never loved the name and it’s not really tied to my blog URL. Why not? I can do whatever I want! Plus, I want a responsive site. I read a lot of blogs on my iPhone and it’s so annoying when sites aren’t responsive.

Surprised by: Where did the summer go? But, really, I’m giddy for fall.

Making me sad: All the shootings. People need to stop killing each other. For real.

Making me happy: Cuddles with Desh, great conversations with Adam, working in a great studio, seeing my brother today, and dry roasted peanuts.

What are you up to? Feel free to copy this post and share or reply in the comment section! Thanks, Liz, for the inspiration! I’ll be back Tuesday with my 3 New Things for September!

*Photo of my taken by my friend Kevin on my Canon A-1. Excuse the greasy hair :)

August’s New Thing #1: Letter Writing

August 30

At the beginning of July, I set forth to accomplish 3 new things and the first thing was to send more letters to friends and family! Well, I only sent out three (during the first three days of freelancing full-time) and then it all went downhill from there. It was a combination of being really busy and also being bored with my stationery. I had intended on designing my own postcards (which I still want to do) but all I had was old stationery that I’ve accumulated over the years. The best part was probably addressing the envelopes and practicing different styles of handwriting!

Last week I connected with Tiny Prints and they offered to send me some of their custom stationery + return address labels and it couldn’t have been better timing! I ordered these cute thank you notes and these fun address labels from Tiny Print‘s site on a Friday (late afternoon) and they were on my doorstep (even after customizing!) the following Wednesday. With this new stationery, I’m a little more excited to start adding to my collection.

I absolutely love the bright colors and even felt like the address labels matched! I can’t wait to thank some people via snail mail now! I’ll be doing another collaboration post with Tiny Prints sometime soon to help introduce some of their holiday cards (and I’m a SUCKER for the holidays so be prepared for excitement).

Oh also, I had to include this picture of Desh. He was sitting on the top of our couch staring at me while I was shooting these pictures. Grumpy much, Desh? Cracks me up. When his hair grows out over his eyes, he looks like he’s frowning. Time to schedule a grooming appointment!

Oh and for those of you who might ask, my nail polish color is RGB’s Punch! Top three photos taken on my iPhone. The rest were taken on my (new) Canon T2i!

Here We Go: Blog Sponsors

August 29

I’ve been asked numerous times to blog about sponsorships but I’ve always avoided it. Earlier this year, I started accepting ads and sponsorships but after only three months…I said NO MORE! I think I’ve avoided this post because I feel like I am a bit biased but I’d love to share everything that I can!  A lot of my tips will come from my experiences (and the things that I forgot to do before making the jump!) This will be short and concise so I hope you all add your own suggestions and experiences in the comment section!

What to do before you start accepting sponsors:

Before you do anything, you need to evaluate your goals and where you stand on certain issues. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Assess your readership, engagement, and stats. Will your sponsor spots benefit potential sponsors?
  • Based on your readership, how much will you charge for your sponsor spots?
  • How will your sponsors purchase a spot? Will you coordinate it manually? Will you use a service like Passionfruit Ads?
  • How will you handle controversial inquires or assess potential sponsors? Where will you “draw the line?”
  • Will you offer multiple sizes or packages? Perhaps larger spots that also come with a sponsored post?
  • How will you introduce your sponsors every month?
  • Will you offer swaps? If so, you should have a blog graphic/badge designed.

How to find sponsors:

Now that you’ve looked closely at some of the details…you need those spots filled! I found that posting about it within a blog post, tweeting, and posting the announcement on Facebook worked well! I also reached out to past clients and let them know that they could purchase a discounted spot because of their longtime support. Placing a page or a link on your blog (to stay consistently) might also work well for you.

Creating your media kit:

When I accepted sponsors, my media kit was really simple. Months later, I’ve realized some other key components that I had forgotten. It’s essentially a file (PDF probably works best) that you sent to interested bloggers or organizations with information about you and your blog! You can either have it as a download on your blog or send it to them after you’ve received an inquiry. I would include:

  • Information about yourself
  • Contact information
  • Blog statistics (monthly unique views, pageviews, pageviews per visit)
  • Social media stats
  • Rates & sizes
  • Brands you’ve worked with

I’ve created a standard template for you to download! It’s an Adobe Illustrator file so feel free to tweak, insert photos, alter colors, or change fonts!

Maintaining a sponsored blog:

Congrats! Now your blog is sponsored! After about three months…this part was the least enjoyable. I was dealing with ads (this could have been fixed by using services like Passionfruit), following up with payments, scheduling sponsored posts, and making sure that I posted consistently/daily. To me, the pressures of blogging daily and maintaining a positive attitude wasn’t worth it. I wouldn’t say that I complain on my blog but I felt bad posting something that one of my sponsors might not agree with/appreciate. I also was approached by a few companies that I didn’t support and wasn’t sure how to handle the rejection part.

Obviously, many bloggers make this work and really love it! I would encourage everyone to give it a try. It’s amazing that so many bloggers can make an income from what they love to do! Thankfully, I make my income from designing and so I love using this blog as a place to just show and tell (hence, the name). I also know the value of blogging when it comes to my business. It keeps me in peoples’ network, minds and many clients end up hearing my own, personal voice because of it! So while I don’t make money directly from this blog, I do reap the benefits constantly.

What has your experience been with blog sponsors/ads? Do you currently do this? How has it been? If not, what is stopping you? 

From Up Above

August 28

I thought I’d share a few shots from our quick stay in downtown Chicago earlier this month. It was such a calm visit. The temperatures were a lot cooler (so cool, in fact, that I ran into a store and bought a sweater!) and I spent so much time just staring outside our hotel room window looking at all the people walking by. From far away, they all seemed so pleasant. When you’re up above and enjoying the view…you forget about all the cynicism and disrespect. I felt really peaceful with a barrier.

Is that weird?

Summertime via my Canon A-1

August 27

I got my Ektar 100 roll developed this weekend and my shots from our lakehouse weekend scream summer. I can’t believe it’s the last week of August already. While I’m always sad to see summer go and the sun setting sooner…I’m so excited for fall. This fall holds a lot of fun trips and events that we’ve been looking forward to for awhile now.

Tomorrow will be a lighter blogging day too while I start my booking editorial calendar for September. I’ll be sharing a few film shots from our trip to Chicago and on Wednesday’s Here We Go post, I’m talking about blog sponsorships!

All photos taken on my Canon A-1, Kodak Ektar 100 film

Thoughts on Sleep

August 24

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about productivity. I hear that we should be doing 12 certain things before 9am or that the most successful people begin their day before the sun rises. My thoughts? It makes me roll my eyes. We’re all extremely different. Different personality types, different opinions, different talents…why wouldn’t we be all different when it comes to sleep and sleep schedules?

As Margot Harrington said at WMC Fest: “You can’t innovate if you’re exhausted.”

I am not a morning person. That statement usually implies that I’m lazy and don’t wake up before noon (both aren’t true even though I can sleep til noon on weekends). I am, however, an extremely organized and productive person. Instead of focusing on the fact that I don’t do my best analyzing, thinking or working out in the morning…I’ve been trying to focus on when I AM most efficient based on my energy levels.

Even in college, I would get nagged about how late I would sleep in (after I stayed awake until 5am coding a website). Over the years, I’ve been made to feel guilty but now as an adult I’m just trying to own it. I prioritize sleep and I’ve been making some drastic changes to my diet (more on that later). I’m just trying to be the best me.

Is there anything that our society makes you feel guilty about?

3 Simple (And Meaningful!) Art Projects

August 23

Each month, Tori (from That Pair of Crutches) guests posts on Show + Tell with her own spin on art in your home. In case you missed last month’s, check it out here!

Art is defined as something that is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance. When I think of art in galleries, art that I want to fill my home, the art that is currently filling my home, the pieces usually fall into the first two categories. But what about the last one? Would you go to a gallery to see old family photos from someone else’s dusty photo albums? Would you want to look at paintings done by another person’s two year old? Probably not. But when I think of the pieces that I want to fill my home, it’s usually the ones that are only significant to my family members that I want to hold the spotlight.

Here are three simple art projects that you already have all the supplies for, can be done in less than an hour (combined!) and will instantly make your house feel more like your home.

1. Get your hands dirty. Grab some paints and a blank sheet of paper and get ready to make a mess. Finger painting is one of the simplest  and most archaic forms of art, but when doen right, can look so great and adds a  nice, sentimental touch to your home. Especially when the piece was created by a child or spouse.

2. Do a little digging. Is your toddler a budding artist? Just discovered your spouse was quite the Picasso in second grade? Choose your favorite piece from your little artist and give it the care and attention you would an image created by any other accomplished artist. Actually, give it a bit more.

3. Who do you love? Look up to your great-grandmother? Have an old photo of your father that you adore? Slip that puppy out of it’s plastic home in your photo album and put it in a frame. Filling your home with art you love and the people you love don’t have to be two separate things.

What are your favorite pieces of art in your home? Have any fun projects you’d like to share? I’d love to hear and see them!


Photos credits: Finger Painting | Displaying Children’s Art | Old Photos

CITY GUIDE: Nashville

August 22

Today’s CITY GUIDE is brought to you by Logan Potts, a proud Nashville resident! Enjoy.

What was once known only as Music City & the home of Johnny Cash is now one of the fastest growing cities in America. Creativity has shifted & this town has quickly become known for its cuisine, entrepreneurial spirit & fashion. Don’t worry though, there are still enough cowboy boots to outfit a militia however, you’ll likely find that cowhide beneath a pair of custom Imogene & Willie denim.

Nashville’s favorite denim maker is also Nashville’s favorite Wednesday evening hangout. 3 years ago Imogene & Willie opened its doors inviting everyone over for what they cued as Supper + Song. Favorite taco truck in town Mas Tacos joined the party as well as some of Nashville’s best acts Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, The Civil Wars & Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket have performed.

After you’ve been outfitted in a pair of Imogene’s head over to Cremafor an espresso or cappuccino. The micro-roaster & boutique coffee bar that opened 5 years ago compliments the quality of their coffee with the craftsmanship in their store front. They’ve a professional staff of baristas ready to be asked what’s good, you won’t be disappointed. [Photo by Ben Lehman]

Now that you’re well caffeinated it’s time to get back out on the town. Travel over to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds for our flea market. The South has some of best traveling antique dealers with all sorts of treasures to be found. See here for the monthly schedule.

Hungry yet? Fortunately for you we’ve some of the best chefs in the country moving to Nashville to start their endeavors. Foodies get your cameras out, we’re going to Silly Goose for dinner. Roderick Bailey plates some of the most beautiful plates I’ve ever seen whilst using Tennessee’s freshest local ingredients. The quaint space & decor sets the table while a terrific wait staff takes you through their seasonal menu. [Photo by Silly Goose]

Classic country won’t let you forget most of their drinking happened right here in Tennessee. Nashville has a speakeasy to take you right back to prohibition times minus the fisticuffs & passwords. The Patterson House crafts what will undoubtedly be the best cocktails you’ve had. Like the aforementioned establishments, ask your server what’s good & you’ll have a drink tailored to you.

Featured image by Frank Kehren.