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Hello Adulthood: Small Business Tools

I’m a little over a month into freelancing full-time (although I’ve owned my own business since early 2010) and I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools so far. While I love sharing advice + tips to my blog readers, you all must know that I often sit at my desk and think, “Oh my gosh I have so much to learn.” So while I am suggesting some small business tools today…I may change my methods next month or next year!

Finances, Taxes and Bookkeeping:

This is probably my least favorite part of owning my own business. I’m thankful that I’m extremely organized (in my own, weird way) but it’s just not fun to pay bills, taxes and saving. When you’re billing a client, you need to keep in mind that you’ll immediately be losing about 30% of that fee upfront due to taxes. This entire concept has changed my process of pricing now that we depend on 100% of my freelance income. Before, I had my full-time day job to cover personal expenses and all of my freelance income was extra! Here are a few tools that I’ve used over the years:

  • CurdBee: I used this the first two years to invoice. It only costs $5 a month and you can customize the template.
  • Freshbooks: Extremely easy to use for invoicing and bookkeeping. I used the $30/mo package and it worked really well.
  • Upsourced Accounting: These guys are phenomenal and I currently use them for invoicing, bookkeeping and they help me file my quarterly taxes. If you’re a small business owner, I would highly recommend them.

Design Tools:

I work exclusively in Adobe Creative Suite 6 and subscribe to their monthly cloud service. For $30/month, I can access the entire suite and access InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects daily. It’s been such a great experience and don’t mind paying the monthly fee (versus the $1,500 fee to upgrade all at once from CS3). Some other tools that I use daily are:

  • Wacom Intuos 4 tablet: This has taken me awhile to get familiar with (compared to drawing by hand and scanning it in) but I love it.
  • Canon T2i: I just upgrade to this camera from the basic Canon DSLR and am excited to increase the quality of my photos here on my blog + create video content with clients.
  • Moleskine notebook (x-large, soft cover): I have one notebook for ideas and another for drawing. Perfect size.
  • Meeting notebook: I use this notebook for when I meet with clients. It keeps everything organized and I can establish action items that need to happen.

Resources:

I am trying to constantly learn and as I learn…I realize how much I still don’t know! I recently joined Lynda.com and spend a few hours a day watching tutorials for CS6 programs. It is phenomenal and know that it’s one of the best investments that I could make. Some other great resources that I’d recommend to designers:

Relationships:

I don’t like to call this networking because really it’s all about relationships. If you treat people like people and meet your deadlines…you will do well. I use Contactually to keep in contact with people that I’ve connected with over the years. I would also suggest looking up Matthew Kimberley’s 5 Things You Need To Do Every Morning To Get More Clients in 60 Days. It changed the way that I approach social media and professional relationships.

Any resources or tips that you would recommend? Like I said…I still have lots to learn!

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Spending Freeze Update

I have 20 days left of this spending freeze and I’m happy to announce that besides my minor slip up in Chicago last month, I’ve stuck to it! Needless to say, I have big plans to boost our economy after this month is over. I’m definitely going to need to exercise self-control. After not shopping for a month and a half, I’ve realized what exactly I want to spend my money on. I’ve decided to start investing in timeless, classic pieces that might have a bigger price tag (vs shopping cheaply and impulsively). The key word will be investment. I also am going to restrain from buying a lot of new things for our tropical vacation in October. I tend to go wild and buy lots of “summer-like” items before a vacation when – in reality – I just wear my bathing suit + the same dress when we go out. I do, however, plan on getting a shellac manicure! I need to find a good salon around here…

Thankfully, last week I was able to visit a Plato’s Closet and sell a lot of my trendier, name brand clothing that I never wore last fall. They ended up buying everything for $45 (which is a lot compared to what I normally get) and I walked over to Marshall’s to peruse their selection. Since I’ve decided to stop buying cheap pieces of clothing impulsively, I veered towards the purse section. I knew they had a lot of great name brand purses for cheap and spotted a gorgeous Steve Madden satchel!

Originally $100, I feel like I scored a great deal because it only cost $40 and it’s something that I can see using for years. Perfect for the cooler months ahead! I’m also in the process of planning a swap party for the end of the month so I’ll be sure to share how that goes!

Have you scored any great deals lately? I LOVE deals, free shipping, coupons, etc and so feel free to share any tips too. 

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Giving up on Sugar and Grains

For the past four weeks, I’ve been giving up on sugar and grains from my diet and since I share most things here on this blog…I figured I should share this!  I say “giving up on” because I want to give up on being dependent on certain foods (physically and psychologically). Before I get into details, you must know a few things:

  • I am not following the Paleo diet
  • I’m not doing this to lose weight (although I have experienced weight loss)
  • Since Adam is following the 4 Hour Body diet, I tend to eat a lot of the same things he does to make it easier
  • On the weekends, I tend to loosen up a bit on what I eat because – in my opinion – socializing and relationships are just as important

Continue Reading

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What’s In My Makeup Bag

I recently bought this sparkly Nine West makeup bag ($10 at Marshall’s!) after selling a lot of my clothes at Plato’s Closet so I thought it would be fun to share exactly what I keep inside! I keep my makeup pretty simple. It’s never drastic and I like to stick with neutrals. I’m not exactly brand loyal but I do try to buy what’s best and works for me.

  1. Mascara: I use two brands. Clinique Lash Power Mascara as a base (and it only comes off with warm water) and then I top it off with Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara to make my lashes longer.
  2. Concealer: I use Natural Cream Mineralogie for under my eyes. Now that summer is over, I’ll probably start mixing it with something lighter.
  3. Foundation: I absolutely love Bare Escentuals and have been using their Original SPF 15 Foundation for years. It’s a loose power and the coverage is great (not too heavy and not too light).
  4. Eyeshadows: For any eye color, I use Bobbi Brown. The two shades I use are Rose Gold and Bone. Her shadows are affordable and I’d rather experiment with shades regularly.
  5. Blush: Again, I use Bare Escentuals for my blush! I wear The Aphrodisiac and like that it’s compact vs loose powder.
  6. Brow Pencil: I went to Nordstrom one night and asked what brow pencil they recommended the most. $35 dollars later, I walked out with Smashbox’s Brow Tech To Go. AMAZING. Would totally recommend it. I love that it’s angled, I don’t have to sharpen anything, and it comes with a gel brush.
  7. Eyeliner: Since I use Clinique’s mascara and use their face wash/lotion, it was only a matter of time before they got me hooked on something else. The Cream Shaper for Eyes is creamy/soft but doesn’t smudge or come off with water.
  8. Tweezers: Nothing special and I have no idea what brand. They just work really well!
  9. Lash Curler: Also some generic brand. Any suggestions on one worth purchasing?
  10. Shadow Primer: Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance in Candlelight is a great primer to use before applying your eyeshadow. I think the shade has been too light for summer but I might as well stick it out since autumn is near!
  11. Brushes: I only use three brushes and they’re all from Bare Escentuals. Speaking of…I need to clean my brushes. I’m embarrassed to admit but I’ve never done that before. Any tips?

So that’s what I wear everyday! As I list it all out, it seems like a lot but I swear it only takes me 5 minutes to apply everything. I don’t keep any lip stains, glosses or chapstick in my makeup bag (they’re usually all in my purse) but I am on the hunt for a few new products:

  • A really good lip exfoliant. I think I’m going to buy one of Lush’s lip scrubs next month.
  • A lighter concealer for fall/winter.
  • A lip stain that actually stays!

What’s in YOUR makeup bag? Feel free to copy the post and link below! Any products that have your loyalty? Recommendations? 

*All photos taken on my Canon T2i
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Good Goods

Another round of Good Goods! This month’s round up is a compilation of things currently on my wishlist so I can’t necessarily attest to whether they’re actually good. Feel free to check out my other Good Goods boards here. I try to limit my “materialistic” posts here on my blog and really try to share only the things that really catch my eye. Enjoy!

  1. Korres Pomegranate Cleansing Wipes: Sometimes when I’m laying in bed (and have no energy to wash my face), I wish that I had these to feed my laziness.
  2. Kate Spade’s Gold Coast Janine (for my MacBook Pro): I’m currently using a bag that’s a lot more casual/practical but this one is gorgeous (and pricey).
  3. EatSmart Precision Pro kitchen scale: A lot of the gluten-free/grain-free recipes that I use measure weight vs amount. They utilize ratios too.
  4. Moroccan Oil hairspray: I’ve heard nothing but good things about this stuff. I just ran out of hairspray so I feel like I should be able to pick up a bottle (right?).
  5. World Cuisine Vegetable Slicer: Think of how many zucchini noodles I could make!
  6. Pencil Satchel: Um, amazing.

Has anything caught your eye lately? This last month of my spending freeze is going to be tough. When the weather starts changing, I get an itch to update my wardrobe for the season. I’m going to use this month to carefully craft a list of things I really NEED for autumn and actually invest in quality pieces when October 1st rolls around.

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CITY GUIDE: Pittsburgh

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.

 

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3 New Things: September Edition

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 WordPress.org) 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 WordPress.org 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.

 

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Currently

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 :)

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August’s New Thing #1: Letter Writing

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!