Sponsor Spotlight: Ciera Holzenthal

I’m excited to introduce you all to Ciera today! She is one of my May sponsors and is incredibly talented. I love her work, chatting with her on Twitter and her blog

  1. Name: Ciera Holzenthal
  2. Age: 29
  3. Location: Born and raised in New Orleans but have been living in Boston for the past year.

Q. When did you start designing?

A. In high school, I was excepted into the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). I went to my normal high school for half of each day and NOCCA for the other half to study visual arts. During my time at NOCCA I realized that I could not see myself as a fine artist but I also found that I was very organized and systematic while working on projects. We had a few computer/design sessions and although I was not exactly sure what it was, I knew that I wanted to be a graphic designer! When I went to college, I switched back and forth between design and photography and finally decided to focus on design.

I got a job right out of college at a great advertising agency and gained a lot of experience in my four years there. A time came when I was not learning anything else from being there and rather than looking for a position at another company, I decided to give freelance a go! I have been working for myself full time for almost two years and love it!

Q. What type of work do you get most excited about?

A: I love branding small businesses. Some of my favorite projects are when I design a logo and then get to expand the identity from business cards and websites to posters and invitations. Applying my concept to multiple items in order to create a cohesive brand for a company is really rewarding.

Q. What are your essential tools? What do you love to create with? 

A: I always have a sketchbook for brainstorming ideas. I use In Design on my MacBook Pro for almost every design that I create. I am obsessed with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. I use it to take photos of my work for my portfolio and all of the photographs on my blog. I use Lightroom and Photoshop for editing photos.

Q. Any advice for those looking to start a career in the design world?

A: I definitely recommend gaining in-house or agency experience. Being surrounded by a group of people that you can learn from is great and can really push your boundaries. I would not be where I am today if I would have gone straight to freelancing from college. I learned so much about organization, client relations, presentations, print production and multitasking at my first job!

Q. When did you start your blog (which I love by the way)! Any advice to those looking to start their own blog?

In 2009 I started blogging as basically a photo dump. I would post my iphone photos with a little caption and might expand a little here and there. I knew I wanted to create a portfolio and site that potential clients could check out, so in 2010 I decided to take my blog to the next level. I switched to a self hosted WordPress site and started posting on a regular basis with consistent content. It has been growing ever since into what you see today!

I think the most important advice I can offer for someone wanting to start a blog is to write about what you love and not what you think people want to hear. Blog because you love doing it.

Be sure to connect with Ciera by visiting her blog and following her on Twitter! If you’re interested in sponsoring Show + Tell in June, contact me and we can chat!

Link Love + Weekend List

It’s Friday! Hurray! Here are a few links to some of my favorite internet finds this week:

Weekend goals:

  • Re-evaluate what I’m doing with this blog. I have a few series (City Guides, Here We Go, Photo Challenges) that I love but I’m getting bored. Any tips or suggestions?
  • Shoot a roll of film on this camera and this camera. I have TWO photoshoots booked this weekend!
  • Watch the Bachelorette on DVR with one of my best friends and eat cheese/wine. Don’t judge.
  • Go to garage sales!
  • Go to the gym (yeah I do that now…crazy).
  • Find some basic tools and materials and make my necklaces! My Japanese vintage beads are amazing.

What are you doing this weekend? SHARE! 

*Photo taken on my Canon A-1 – B&W film

London

CITY GUIDE: London

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Fiona of The Corner of the Internet I Call Home!

Trying to create a guide for London without dividing it up somehow was impossible. So many Londoners see the river as a wall; separating the North from the South. I’ve used the same scheme, just for simplicity, but clearly you might want to dip into both parts of the city if you come and visit. Finally, I’ve included the nearest tube stop in square brackets for most destinations – buying an Oyster card and using the tube & bus network is really the only way to see London!

North London

North London contains the larger part of the city, encompassing the West End, the East End, the tourist mecca of Camden, and the beautiful greenery of Regents Park, Hyde Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath. These areas are typically covered by any tourist guide, and you can lose yourself in these places alone for a good few days!

Starting in Hampstead [Hampstead, Northern Line], you can almost imagine you’re hundreds of miles from London – the windy lanes and traditional English houses make it a lovely place to explore. The main street has become increasingly chain-dominated, but there are still a few antique stalls down Flask Walk which can be fun to browse. Rather than heading back underground, I’d really recommend the walk down the hill to Camden. It takes about an hour, but you can break your journey for lunch in a pub like the Rossyln Arms. It’s an affluent area, and the houses are lovely, and on a sunny day it makes a great little break from the busyness of the centre. Camden [Camden, Northern Line] itself is incredibly touristy, and most places should quite simply be avoided. However, the Stables market is in an amazing building, where the workhorses for the neighbouring canal were housed, so might be worth a peek before you pop back into onto the Underground.

A favourite spot of mine in north London is the Barbican [Moorgate, Northern Line], which divides opinions with its 1960’s architecture. It houses an art gallery, a concert hall, several restaurants and cafes and has a large residential section. It’s rarely busy (which is a welcome break after somewhere like Camden), so you can grab a coffee from the Foodhall and sit by the central pond and admire or despise the towering concrete walls.

From the Barbican, it’s a short (but easily confusing!) walk to Farringdon [Farringdon, Hammermith & City/Circle/Metropolitan lines]. This is a relatively trendy area, with media industry workers spilling out around pubs in the early evening. La Cucina next to Smithfields market, is a small family-run restaurant, and finding better Italian food at that price is near on impossible.

Every area of London has its own nightlife “type”, so it’s worth researching if you’re keen for a particular type of music. My all out favourite pub-venue in the city is the 12 bar on Denmark Street [Tottenham Court Road, Northern/Central lines] where folk, punk, and blues are all equally likely to be played.

South London

The one drawback to south London is the lack of the Underground – only a small percentage of the London Tube stops are south of the river, and instead a network of overground trains and buses connect the area.

If you’re keen enough, getting up early to visit one of the south London markets is an experience far detached from the tourist trail. On a Saturday, Deptford Market [New Cross, Overground or Deptford Bridge, DLR] lines a street with crockery and food stalls, but the real gem is the flea market round the back. Only time-honoured locals are allowed to barter (seriously – I’ve seen people get barred!), but the prices are very cheap. Bermondsey market [short walk from London Bridge, Northern/Jubilee lines] on Friday mornings has a fantastic history, once being the spot where thieves were legally allowed to sell stolen goods. It’s still an amazing antiques market, and the best time to visit is 5am, when the place is bustling with antiques dealers coming to make an offer on all the best goods.  If you need your beauty sleep, Borough Market [London Bridge, Northern/Jubilee lines] is a great food market, although years of renown have pushed prices up – still, a venison burger from there is worth every penny! The market runs Thursdays to Saturdays until 5pm, but other days of the week there are still some great permanent shops which make the trip worthwhile.

For the geekier visitor, the tiny Brunel museum [Rotherhide, Overground] is a great stop. Brunel is lorded as one of the greatest Britons ever, having propelled British industrial innovation forward almost singlehandedly. But one of his less known accomplishments is the digging of a tunnel under the Thames which predates the London Underground system significantly. This work of Brunel Sr. and Jr. is the focus of this small museum, and walking tours are available on Tuesdays and Sundays, which take you into part of the original tunnel. They also host some great evening/night activities, which you can find out about here.

One of the most striking silhouettes on the Thames bank is that of Battersea Power Station, decommissioned in the 1980’s, and now used for various events. It’s an iconic building, with a typical 1930’s design. From there, you’re well placed to explore one of the loveliest parks in the city. Battersea Park, unlike Hyde Park and Regents Park which are dominated with tourists, is a park for local people who jog, play football and walk their dogs.

The advantage of the more fractured transport infrastructure in south London is the small “town centres” which were central to the local community back before the general sprawl of London encompassed the areas. Places like Clapham Junction [Clapham Junction, National Rail Station], Wimbledon [Wimbledon, District Line], Dulwich [North Dulwich, National Rail Station] and Putney [East Putney, District Line] have really held onto these areas, and small independent delis, cafes and restaurants thrive off the affluent community. Café Prov [Herne Hill, National Rail Station] and Lolo Rojo [Clapham Junction, National Rail Station] are great for lunch.

The one ‘touristy’ spot in London I can’t get enough of is the South Bank [Waterloo, Northern/Jubilee lines]. The stretch from Waterloo Bridge to London Bridge is rammed with cafes, restaurants and venues. The British Film Institute and the Royal Festival Hall both have great cafes and bars inside, and the Royal Festival Hall often hosts free concerts and recital in the entrance floor, so you can enjoy some live classical music with your wine. Next to these is an open air secondhand bookstall, which you can browse through as you continue your journey downstream. Rather than paying 15 pounds to take the London Eye, the OXO Tower has a free viewing gallery which has a spectacular view at sunset.

This all puts you in walking distance to my favourite restaurant in the world. Brindisa in Borough Market [London Bridge, Northern/Jubilee lines] originally began as a Spanish foods importers, but quickly realised that they had all the ingredients for a fantastic tapas restaurant. You can’t reserve a table, so don’t arrive hungry! Instead, get your name on the chalkboard and grab a bottle of Rioja from the bar and nurse a glass while you wait for a table.

A huge thanks for Fiona for contributing a city guide to one of my favorite cities! Be sure to visit her blog and follow her on Twitter!

Featured image by hpmnick.

#30DaysToSanity Update

I thought I’d give an update on the May #30DaysToSanity challenge by Sarah Storer. The past few weeks have been a bit slower freelancing – which I’ve appreciated. I’ve either been waiting for feedback from clients or finalizing a handful of projects. I’ve failed at the whole “multitasking/multiple tabs” part of the challenge. I’ve actually used a lot of the downtime to discover new artists, articles and blogs all while cleaning out my Google Reader. Adam and I paid off our Honda Civic and now we’re heading towards home ownership! I can’t wait to have a second bedroom, a bigger kitchen and a backyard. Even though it probably won’t happen until early 2013, it’s fun to save, save, save.

One thing I HAVE accomplished is trying something now! I planted a tomato plant + parsley/basil/mint. I’ve heard from a few people that I should remove the mint since it can sort of take over the entire pot. I’d love any advice from you all! This is completely new to me and I’m still at the point where I sort of expect to fail. My two other “try new things” will include taking a fitness class (probably yoga since we’ve joined a gym) and making jewelry (I already ordered the vintage Japanese beads from Etsy). Any tips on finding the right material (chain) for a necklace? I want to make sure whatever I purchase fits through the holes of the beads but there aren’t a lot of shops here besides Michaels. No matter what- I’ve loved challenging myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do. I could make this a monthly thing.

Relish: Mashed Potato Pizza

Relish, a food series, is hosted by guest blogger Jon Schelander-Pugh! Read more about him below this recipe!

In a few cities in Minnesota, there is a pizza restaurant called Pizza Luce, and they have all kinds of wonderful things. One of these pizzas is a garlic mashed potato pizza, and I thought I would set out to make something similar.

The mashed potatoes alone are good, and I made a double batch so we’d have some just to eat later on. You’ll want a thicker dough for this because the potatoes can be heavy for a really thin crust. Bake time will also fluctuate based on dough thickness and if you use a stone, dish, or anything else, so just keep an eye on your pizza as you bake it.

If you aren’t usually a fan of tomatoes, I suggest you try sundried tomatoes instead. I used to hate tomatoes, but I loooooved them sundried. Now I’ve managed to like both.

Something I didn’t do but my wife suggested for next time is having a dish of sour cream to dip the pizza in or a dollop of it on top. I would recommend giving this a try.

And, of course, if you are a fan of bacon, I imagine some crumbled pieces on this pizza would also go over very well. I tend to avoid meats when possible, but I can appreciate the undeniably delicious flavor bacon can bring to a dish.


Relish: Mashed Potato Pizza
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
In a few cities in Minnesota, there is a pizza restaurant called Pizza Luce, and they have all kinds of wonderful things. One of these pizzas is a garlic mashed potato pizza, and I thought I would set out to make something similar.
Ingredients
  • 1.75 lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • ⅛ - ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
  • pizza dough
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Peel potatoes and chop into equal-sized pieces. Place in a large pot. Peel the shell/skin off of each clove and place in the pot with the potatoes. Sprinkle the kosher salt over everything and fill with water until it covers it all.
  2. Bring the potatoes & garlic to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and keep at a rolling boil until the potatoes are soft enough that they break apart when poked with a fork or folk goes all the way through potatoes easily.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, put milk, sour cream, butter, and chives in a saucepan and heat while constantly stirring until the butter has melted and blended into everything else. Remove from heat.
  4. When the potatoes are done, drain and mash. You can use a fork or anything else that will effectively mash the potatoes. Then mix in the milk mixture and Parmesan cheese, and stir until you have creamy mashed potatoes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400.
  6. If you need to make your pizza dough, do so now. It would be beneficial to pre-bake a homemade dough for about 10 minutes before putting toppings on.
  7. Spread mashed potatoes over dough, about as much as you would put on sauce. On top of this spread your diced tomatoes and crumbled feta. Sprinkle dried oregano over everything.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until done. Subtract any pre-bake time you might have done for the crust.

 

 

May Birchbox Review

This month’s Birchbox was delivered this past Saturday and it definitely wasn’t one of my favorites. The box was “Gossip Girl” themed (which doesn’t really mean a lot to me since I don’t watch the show) and had the following inside:

  1. Birchbox Notecards – This was an bonus piece. Cute stationery but pretty flimsy material.
  2. BVGARI Omnia Crystalline Eau de Toilette – Just like last month, I wish I could tell Birchbox that I wasn’t looking for perfume. I use Kate Spade’s Twirl and am happy with that.
  3. Stila Sparkle Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner – This is BRIGHT, sparkly blue. Kind of fun but I’m not sure when I would use it. Ideas?
  4. Ojon Conditioner – Excited to use this. I’m always looking for a good shampoo/conditioner and tend to mix it up a lot. It smells great!
  5. Dr. Jart Water Fuse Beauty Balm – This looks like foundation or something along those lines. I use Bare Escentuals so not really interested.
  6. Alex & Isabelle Hair Ties – I’ve received some of these before through Birchbox and think they’re really cute!

I really can’t complain because I recently whined that I wasn’t receiving any makeup and I got two samples (the Stila eyeliner was a really decent-full size). A lot of women complain about Birchbox because they don’t love everything inside but I try to remind them that for $10/month, they’re able to try new high end products without wasting time or money. I’ve found a lot of AMAZING products through Birchbox (Deborah Lippmann nail polish, Kerastase hair serum, Zoya remover, + lots of lip products). If you want to sign up, feel free to with my referral link, I’d love it!

*Photo taken with my Canon Rebel XS/50mm lens in my new lightbox! Love it.

Foxtrot Press Stationery Giveaway

Foxtrot Press, a May sponsor, is hosting a giveaway here this week! One of you lucky readers will win a set of 4 cards designed by Erika Dillon (the brains behind Foxtrot Press) with accompanying envelopes. I love the bright and colorful cards – perfect for any occasion. I’m using a new way to track entries so you can login below through Facebook OR your email. It will allow you to enter multiple ways so I hope it’s a lot easier. If it seems to be working well I’ll continue to use it! You have until Thursday at 11:59pm EST to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Birthday Recap

I had quite a wonderful birthday on Wednesday. I took the day off and didn’t work AT ALL. Okay, maybe I responded to a few emails but that was it. AMAZING. I spent time with people that I love, ate great food and was really humbled by the tweets, posts and texts that I received. I have a feeling this next year is going to be pretty neat. Today we paid off our second and final car and it feels so, so good to not have any more payments. I remember back in 2009 thinking it would be ages until our credit cards, loans and cars were paid off. It’s been a great start as a 25 year old! Enjoy some iPhone shots from my birthday + a few of my lovely gifts.

Like I mentioned in the photo collage, Adam made me a lightbox and I’m so excited to use it all weekend. I’ll post a good photo of it once I get a chance but it’s SO fun to take photos with it. The current background is orange and makes for such a fun hue. I was so stunned and amazed that he figured out how to do it all. So perfect. I also got some other lovely presents including:

  1. Dan Chaon’s You Remind Me Of Me from Jess
  2. A Yashica-A! I wandered down to my favorite used photography store and bought my first medium format camera! Photos to come!
  3. Adam also bought me Feist’s album Metals on vinyl. Can’t wait to see her perform in June!
  4. Last but not least, my parents sent me gluten-free pasta and Beauty and the Beast on DVD! Heck yeah!

This weekend will be a continuation of this week. I’ve done a great job relaxing and taking things a little bit slow. I’ll be back next week with more structured posts including a sponsor giveaway, a Relish post, and your usual Thursday City Guide!

*Oh and by the way…congrats to Kathryn on winning the Indie & Chic giveaway!

InlandEmpire

CITY GUIDE: Inland Empire

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Su Pak who currently lives in the Inland Empire! Enjoy!

I grew up in the Inland Empire (or what locals call the “IE”) 40 minutes east of Los Angeles. Some people may brush off the IE for LA and San Diego but the region has a lot of hidden treasures. The IE consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties and a portion of Los Angeles county. First put on the map by the citrus fruit and agricultural industries and the famed Route 66, the Inland Empire has come a long way since I was growing up. Here are a few of my favorite places to frequent. It’s just a sample of all the great hidden treasures in the area but hopefully it gives everyone a taste of all the good times one can have in the Inland Empire.

Pomona

A lot of people head to Pasadena for antiquing at the monthly Rose Bowl flea market but they may not realize that just a little southeast is almost an entire street dedicated to antiques called the Antique Row in Pomona, with antiquing almost as good if not better. Plus, every second Saturday you can enjoy the Art Walk with live music, free wine and art!

Claremont

The charming city I call my hometown and the location of the Claremont Colleges (fun fact: also where the movie “Pearl Harbor” was filmed). The small quaint college town boasts a very active downtown village with a homey feel. A lot like many of the towns in the IE, there are festivals every season, a Farmers Market every Sunday and lots of unique shops. Claremont went through an expansion a few years ago and now it boasts a fun night life with a jazz lounge and new restaurants. I visit the Village frequently and stop by my favorite bakery Some Crust for one of the most amazing bear claws you’ve ever had and then make a second stop at the new French inspired Cocoa Bakery for even more sweet treats.

Temecula

Some may consider Temecula part of San Diego county but it’s actually still part of the IE.  Temecula has over 35 wineries and other working farms. It’s a wine country right in our very own back yard with a hot balloon festival every year and a fantastic old western themed downtown with loads of boutiques, wine shops, restaurants and bars.

Palm Springs

One of my favorite weekend getaways is Palm Springs. It’s really transformed since I was a kid. The modern getaway is fun with lots of great mid-century furniture stores, museums and amazing hiking just around the corner.  But before I even get to Palm Springs I head to Shields Date Farm and grab a yummy date shake and sit back and watch the 15-minute documentary “Romance and Sex Life of the Date” in their small theater in the back.

Thanks again to Su Pak for showing us around the Inland Empire! Su Pak operates the blog IE Shine On. She writes about all the events, deals and good times happening in the Inland Empire and soon she will be launching the official site IEShineOn.com ”The Inland Empire Good Time Guide.”

Featured image by whatsjoeupto.

Twenty-Five

Today I’m 25. I’m not the kind of person that thinks in terms of age, years, or time in general. I’ve always felt older than my actual age but boy do I LOVE celebrating birthdays. I took today off work and am going to enjoy some treats like shopping, perhaps buying a pretty headboard, celebrating with friends, and gluten free peach pie (HECK YES).

#30DaysToSanity update: I’m failing miserably with my tabs but overall I’ve been able to enjoy myself a lot more. I’m going to be planting some herbs this weekend and I think I’ll be ordering some supplies to make my own jewelry today! It’s also been SO nice to pass along projects to other freelancers who have time. I’m always amazed at the talent out there and it humbles me.

Be back tomorrow with a lovely west coast city guide!