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My Very Wide-Angle View

I snagged one of these White Slim Angel Wide-Angle Cameras from Poketo awhile back and I finally got my roll developed. The roll turned okay alright (36 exposures) and below are some of my favorites from Columbus and then WMC Fest 3 in Cleveland! I forget how cameras like this can’t really handle any dim light so most of the best shots were taken outside during the day. I didn’t edit them at all and it’s fun to see the vignetting that happens naturally with this camera.

[From top to bottom: DK Diner brunch with Megumi and Adam, Columbus Commons, Avett Brothers concert, downtown Columbus, my view…jean shorts and summer sandals]

[From top to bottom: Saigon Plaza, Reinberger Auditorium, reflections and posters, um best shirts ever, iLTHY gallery]

Overall it’s a really fun camera to carry around because it’s so light and small. I think I’ll probably keep it in my tote all summer and try to stretch an entire roll until the end of August. I always feel like shooting film is kind of like a time capsule. Happy weekend to you all! It’s going to be a hot one. I kind of want to buy one of those plastic pools. Or a sprinkler. And a badminton set. And popsicles. Alright, peace out.

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Beginners Guide to Jewelry Making

Every month I decide to try 3 new things. Last month I decided that I wanted to make my own jewelry so I thought it would be fun to document it all and share! I originally used this post as a guest blog post over on Ciera’s blog yesterday but I wanted to post it here too in case any of my readers missed it. Before we begin, you must know that I’ve never made jewelry before I created the necklace I document below. I literally went to Hobby Lobby and thought, “What supplies make sense?” I had already ordered some amazing vintage Japanese beads on Etsy beforehand so I just needed to make sure I could thread them. Here are the supplies that I used:

I picked up a basic jewelry tool kit and a few options when it came to chains. I ended up using a really thin (and cheap) gold chain so I’m excited to experiment with more quality supplies later. Here is a visual and brief tutorial below. I’ll go into more details on each step below the image!

 

Okay here’s more of an explanation for each step:

1. I am using a 2″ eye pin here. If I were to re-create this necklace again (which I probably will), I might consider adding a drop of super glue to keep the two beads together. If you aren’t extremely precise, it’s hard to keep them close together while closing the eye pin in the next step.

2. I used the round nose pliers to hold the eye pin steady while I literally bent the other end perpendicular.

3. I didn’t get a photo but I did clip the end of the eye pin so that it was shorter. I didn’t want to bend it into a loop and then have extra wire. Here is a great tutorial on creating loops with your eye pins.

4. As you can see, I have created the loop and now the beads are secured. My loop is definitely not perfect but it works!

5. I wanted to make sure I knew how to create a loop before I strung the chain through (so this is technically a little backwards) but by the time you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take a lot to pull the loop apart and add the chain.

6. Now you have a completed and seamless necklace! After this, I snipped the chain (where it would fall on your neck) and added the clasp! Ta da! Necklace completed.

So there’s my beginners guide to jewelry making. I learned a lot and didn’t even really study any techniques. It was almost more fun going into it neutral and not having an preconceived ideas of what my necklace should look like. I did run into a few issues the days following this little DIY experience. I realized the beads weren’t really heavy enough and I felt like it was constantly lopsided. There wasn’t enough weight pulling it down. It also “broke” one day while I wore it. Essentially the chain came off the looped eyepin near one of the beads. I just need to make my loop tighter. Let me know if you have any advice or tips – I’m all ears.

Be on the lookout next few weeks for updates on June’s 3 New Things! I’ll be experimenting with camera strap making + making my own natural cleaners this weekend! Wish me luck!

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CITY GUIDE: Nantucket

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Rachael of Boston, MA! I’m especially excited for this guide because I spent a few days in Nantucket last year and it’s one of my most favorite places in the world! Enjoy!

Before I moved from Indiana to Boston, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Nantucket. But after my husband and I ran a business on this little island off the coast of Massachusetts for three summers, I fell completely in love. Though it is an elite destination spot for the wealthy, and everything on island is expensive (due to the need to ferry everything over on boats) it’s still one of the most delightful places you can visit. Try to carve out at least three days for your trip, just to make the travel time worthwhile. Once there, you can rent bikes or use the easy shuttle system to get around island. Unfortunately I don’t feel comfortable recommending any particular place to stay, just try to find the best deal, and use avid reviewers on tripadvisor.com to assist you.

The Beaches

Visitors to Nantucket spend a lot of time asking what beach they should go to. “What’s your favorite beach?” is a question we heard all the time at the market. Almost the entire edge of the island is a beach, and all of it is beautiful. Try them all, pick the closest one to your hotel, bike to the furthest one possible…they’re all clean, beautiful, and never overly crowded.

Straight Wharf Restaurant, Bar & Provisions

It’s dangerous to even begin talking about restaurants for dinner on Nantucket. Suffice to say majority of them are expensive but totally worth it. You may have some of the best meals of your life while on island. This restaurant, which has a fine dining half, a casual bar side with delicious bar food, and a sandwich shop for breakfast and lunch, is one of our favorites. I think they do everything well, in a wonderful island-stye way.

The take-it or leave-it, along Madaket Road, halfway between Madaket and Town

It may sound funny to visit a public dump on your vacation, but really this one of my favorite spots on island. Not only because you get to observe one of the most innovative trash sorting and recycling spots in the country but mostly because of the Take It or Leave It. Instead of throwing perfectly good things away, or having a garage sale, Nantucket residents and visitors drop things here. It makes for the most exciting thrift store of all time. The amount of true-keeper stuff my friends and I have found here is the stuff of myths. Cozy sweaters, classic books in the best editions, leather shoes, vintage kids’ clothes, pretty bedsheets….be sure to go before 12pm on the weekends!

Black Eyed Susan’s

The line outside this place on any summer morning can attest: they mix magic into their eggs. Try to go early if you can, but if that sounds like heresy on vacation, just put your name in and amble around the shops while you wait. Truly everything here is delicious (I dream about their pile of crispy bacon) but you’ll see lots of regulars ordering the paper thin pancakes with jarlsberg cheese cheese crisped on top.

The Nantucket Athenaeum

The free public library right downtown, stop by here for the lovely architecture, a cool spot to page through magazines, or quick lounge in their lovely contained yard.

Surfside Burger shack, at Surfside beach

Regularly voted the best burger on island, to me this place is quintessential Nantucket: affordable, friendly, simple, and classy. I love seeing the kids run up from the beach with their dollars in hand, lining up for slush puppies, burgers, bags of Ruffle potato chips, or frozen candy bars. But seriously, watch out for the seagulls here! They are dive bombers with a keen eye for an unwatched burger. Bonus: surfside beach is the easiest beach to bike to and it has the cleanest bathrooms and showers.

A big thanks to Rachael for giving us a virtual tour of the island. Be sure to visit her blog and follow her on Twitter! Click here to see more photos and to read about my visit last September!
Featured image by bug_girl_mi.
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WMC Fest 3 Recap

The idea of recapping WMC Fest 3 (located in Cleveland, Ohio) is completely overwhelming. As I write this I really have absolutely no idea how I will accomplish this task but I’m going to try my best. I think posting this recap will not only benefit all those who didn’t get to attend (at all or certain speakers) but it will also help me process everything in my own mind. I’m going to break down the recap into three parts:

  1. Speaker summaries and/or quotes. Some will be longer than others.
  2. What I took away from WMC and the changes I’m going to make because of it
  3. Fun moments and photos while in Cleveland (I’ll be sharing film photos from the weekend on Friday)

It was great to hear Austin Kleon speak. I actually sat by his mom and was able to chat with her before he took the stage. What a sweet lady and she’s so proud of her son. Austin spoke on “stealing like a writer.” He really emphasized saturating yourself with someone you love (author) and reading all of their work. Once you’re done, you should read all the work by their influencers. Some other advice? READ, READ, READ (and write in your books), keep a swipe file, always carry paper + pencil, step away from the screen, and create something you’d want to experience yourself.

I had been looking forward to hearing Jen Myers speak since I met her earlier this year. She lives in Columbus and has her hand in Girl Develop It. She presented on the issue that there aren’t many women working in IT/development/etc and we need to address this issue if we want to progress. Bringing in different kinds of people into our projects really opens our eyes to different perspectives.

I pretty much adore everything Nate Utesch creates so I was extremely excited about his presentation. Not only was his slideshow one of the most beautiful slideshows I’ve ever seen…he really inspired me to create work that I’m proud of. His attention to detail and his passion for Ft. Wayne, Indiana really shines through. I was able to chat with him in the iLTHY gallery the next day and even snagged all of the Ferocious Quarterly publications (drool). I really resonate with his desire to collaborate and I can’t wait for the next issue of Ferocious Quarterly.

I’ve been a long time supporter of Margot Harrington of Pitch Design Union for awhile now and it was so great to hear her talk, “How To Say No Like A Boss!” She essentially broke down her talk into 5 concepts (relating to each finger — you know — like turkey hands!) It went a little like this:

  1. Define Your Brand (pinky finger) – Work from a deeper place and make it official.
  2. How You Hustle (ring finger) – Sell it, follow through and have an end game.
  3. Profits (middle finger) – Know what’s coming in & out. Practice negotiating.
  4. Time Management (pointer finger) – Use your calendar, sleep & be prepared to give something up if you say “yes” to something.
  5. The Work (thumb) – Your work, oddly, comes last. Make sure you have a grasp on 1-4 to create better work.

Margot’s talk was the most applicable and helpful (for me personally). I really loved it when she talked about NOT firing clients. Instead, she recommended, talk to your client and take a break. After reassessing and looking at your goals, reconvene in a few months. Love it.

Tad Carpenter‘s talk was such a breath of fresh air. He started off his presentation sharing why he loves Kansas City (where he lives), his childhood, his influences, and that his own father is an illustrator for Hallmark. He emphasized how important PASSION PROJECTS are. He stated, “We get to do this.” We’re really lucky.

Friends of Type!! If I could only visit one site for the rest of my life…it would probably be theirs. They spoke about The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. They shared that they started FoT in approximately 8 hours and had to deal with bandwidth, malware, and even name calling. They explained their odd/awesome obsessions and their work. Their advice: Push It. Keep Going. Push Yourself. You Killed It! Push Harder. Never Stand Still.

JOHNNY CUPCAKES! HEADLINER! He didn’t disappoint. He talked for 2 hours and it felt like 3o minutes. I’ve never listened to or met anyone so extremely focused and hilarious all at the same time. I knew nothing about him or his company before he started talking but once he was done…we bought 2 of his shirts. I can’t really completely recap his presentation (it really would be impossible) but I can say that Johnny really encouraged me to keep being who I am. I walked away feeling okay with the fact that I work on weekends, prioritize my family, and hardly drink anymore. Adam and I were able to talk to him for a bit on Sunday and were really impressed with how he presents himself. Plus, he gave me a fake cockroach and asked for my business card. Win.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch any of the other speakers due to food breaks, visiting the iLTHY gallery, or the fact that we had to leave around 5pm on Sunday. After digesting all of that information, I’ve pinpointed what I learned and what changes I plan to make:

  • Steal from my influencers. Nothing is original.
  • After we buy a house (and I have my own office) I want a digital and an analog desk.
  • READ. MORE.
  • Allow myself to have obsessions and collections.
  • Do not “fire” clients. Take a break first.
  • I’m cutting my Facebook friend list down to 20.
  • Also trimming down my Google Reader.
  • Practice negotiating.
  • Mix in passion projects.
  • Create things that I’d love.
  • Take more risks creatively and financially.

If you didn’t go this year, prioritize it next year. I met everyone I admire, made new friends, and soaked it all in. Get this…I only brought 2 business cards. I totally forgot to bring more because I was so excited to just learn and observe. It was perfect. And now for some fun shots from my iPhone.

We ate at Barroco Grill (so many sauces!), The Root Cafe (GF fudge scones!), Happy Dog (not as good as Dirty Franks) and stayed at the InterContinental Suites (Hotwire, FTW!). All fabulous. Cleveland rocks.

I spent way too much money on prints & publications (I don’t regret a single purchase) and even got that rad photo with Alonzo Felix and Johnny Cupcakes! And then our A/C stopped working in our car and so we enjoyed the ride home with the windows down. One of the best weekends of my life. A huge thanks to Joseph and Jeff for everything. See you next year!

*ahem….longest blog post ever? possibly.

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Relish: Chocolate Guinness Cake

This is a delicious cake with a complex flavor due to the darkness of the Guinness. It’s super moist and so delicious, and the cream cheese frosting really completes it. I brought it to work to share because there’s no way Kelly and I should eat this entire cake, and my one co-worker described its tastiness as “sinful.” So say a little prayer and give this cake a try!

Originally, I saw this recipe as a single layer done in a spring form pan, which is another great way to do this. If you have a spring form pan and would rather do one layer, cut my recipe in half and just line the bottom of the spring form pan with parchment paper.

Most chocolate Guinness cake recipes I found were based on a recipe created by Nigella Lawson. I was thankful to Susie Nadler of The Kitchn for her post on Nigella Lawson’s recipe that helped make things a little more clear for me. I had some fun adding my own touches to the recipe, such as the cinnamon and molasses.

I made two mistakes I wish I had enough foresight to avoid. First, I messed up lining my cake pans with parchment paper. I should have cut a strip that could lay flat against the side. Instead, I had one big piece that lied flat on the bottom but was ruffled on the side. This created an uneven, less pretty cake edge. Second, I added my wet mix to my dry mix way too quickly which made my batter a little lumpy. Do avoid little flour clumps throughout the batter, add the wet mix a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Even if you don’t like Guinness or dark beers in general, I would still recommend giving it a try because the flavors of Guinness and chocolate really work well in this recipe, and there’s not a strong, obvious Guinness flavor to it. And if you don’t like it, you can make a lot of friends with this cake so it won’t go to waste!


4.0 from 2 reviews
Relish: Chocolate Guiness Cake
Author: 
 
This is a delicious cake with a complex flavor due to the darkness of the Guinness. It's super moist and so delicious, and the cream cheese frosting really completes it.
Ingredients
cake
  • 2 cups Guinness Extra Stout
  • 2½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons molasses
frosting
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 - 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Using butter not intended for the recipe, butter 3 cake pans and then line with parchment paper
  3. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter and place over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, and molasses, and whisk to blend
  5. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well, then add to Guinness mixture.
  6. In a very large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gently whisk to mix.
  7. Slowly pour wet mixture into the dry mixture in increments, mixing well each time. This is important to reduce the chance of lumpy batter.
  8. Pour batter evenly into the 3 cake pans you buttered and lined, filling each about ⅔ full.
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven until risen and firm, about 45 minutes. Rotate halfway through.
  10. Leaving the cakes in the pans, set on wire racks and let cool completely. They can't even be warm or else the frosting will melt.
frosting
  1. Using an electric mixer or hand mixer, blend the butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream until very smooth (about 3 minutes at medium speed). Periodically scrape the bowl's sides and bottom for evenness.
  2. Add the vanilla and mix it in.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix as you add until you have the thickness and sweetness you want. You may want to whisk the powdered sugar first to get rid of any clumps.
  4. Stack the layers, spreading frosting between each and on the very top. Lightly dust the top with unsweetened cocoa powder.

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This Is Who I Am

Hi everyone! I’m Sonya. I live in Providence, RI with my fiancé, my two awesome daughters, two orange cats and two little birds. We’re going for a Noah’s Ark theme over here. I wanted to start things off on a more personal note but stay tuned for my monthly feature, Disposable Diaries starting at the end of the month. I am SO excited Allie asked me on to become a guest blogger at Show and Tell and am just thrilled to be here!

The other day, I was sick of waiting for the extra money to come around in our budget so I could get a haircut (priorities, people!) I’ve been staring at pictures of haircuts with short bangs for months – waiting for a time that bravery and extra money would intersect – but it just never seemed to happen. So I did it. My patience got the best of me and I grabbed my daughter’s craft scissors (I probably wouldn’t recommend that part) and went to town. Afterwards, I just stared at myself in shock. It was not what I was expecting and was way shorter than I had intended to go. Big whoops. But instead of crying, I laughed. Every time I passed a mirror, I laughed again. It was just so silly and impulsive of me and my bangs were just…gone. On Facebook an older friend wrote, “I see headbands in your future,” but I thought to myself, no way. I’m owning this. I AM the girl that lops off her hair on impulse. This is who I am.

“The funny thing is, most of the choices I’ve decided to do on a whim are actually some of my favorite things about myself.”

And that rings true for a lot of different parts of my personality. I’m a worrier by nature so I often find myself agonizing over every decision. Sometimes it gets to the point that it wakes me several times a night. This is not healthy and I decided that something about my attitude towards myself and my decisions needs to change. The funny thing is, most of the choices I’ve decided to do on a whim are actually some of my favorite things about myself. They are the things that when I tell people, I surprise them. Like, did you know I was in the Navy for four years? Silly, right? I’m so not Navy material. I didn’t have to think that hard about my tattoos either. I wanted them; I got them. The same with being a young mom. I had my girls at 20 and 22, and now that 27 is looking at me from around the corner – I still wouldn’t change a thing.

The thing about being a worrier is that you always feel the need to apologize on behalf of yourself. Or that someone is privately (or vocally, yikes!) judging the decisions you’ve made or the person you are. But I’m tired of feeling like I need to make excuses for myself and I’ve made the decision to stop. There are only a few in this world that I should be considering when I make big choices, and those are my daughters and my fiancé. And those little decisions – well they won’t change their opinion of me because of my bangs. My girls didn’t even notice! Everyone else, can just deal.

This is who I am, I like who I am and I’m owning it.

I hope that you do too.

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Let’s Go To A Show

I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I don’t know if I could even list them all if I tried. I do, however, remember the best. Last night I saw Feist in concert and it was amazing. It landed at #3 on the list of performers that I’ve seen live. Who are my top two, you ask? Well I’ll share!

1 // Mumford and Sons

Adam and I saw Mumford and Sons right as they got popular. We bought the tickets for $5/each and experienced the most amazing, intimate performance along with only 200 people. We literally stood on the stage of the theater facing sideways while they played. After they were finished the audience sang their songs loudly and they returned to play a few more. Marcus Mumford said quietly, “No one has ever serenaded us with our own songs before.” I think I cried three times during that concert. So beautiful. Also, sorry for the crappy iPhone photo. I obviously didn’t know what I was doing back in 2010.

2 // Coldplay

A lot of people hate on Coldplay and I don’t really tolerate it. I’ve loved Coldplay since I was 14 when my high school chose “Yellow” as their prom song. I wasn’t even old enough to go to prom but I remember downloading all their songs off Limewire and since then I’ve seen them perform in Noblesville, Alpine Valley, Louisville, Chicago (3x), Cleveland, and I’ll be taking my younger siblings to see them in Chicago this summer. ONE performance lands at #2 and that’s the Alpine Valley show. This concert was amazing for multiple reasons: we stood front row in the pit (ahem…that is me in the bright blue shirt with my arms stretched out), Chris Martin took my picture, AND THEN I GOT THE PICTURE. Oh and the night before we saw them in Indiana. And I got one of their drumsticks. Eighteen year old Allie was freakin’ out.

3 // Feist

I love everything about Feist. Her voice, her style, her personality. Gosh, sounds like I have a girl crush. Her newest album, Metals, is one of my favorites from the past few years. Something about it feels too familiar (in a good way) and her live performance last night was excellent. I really adore musicians that bring their album to life. I actually kind of hate it when an artist performs and it sounds exactly like their album. She has practically reinvented some of her old songs and I was so sad when it all ended.

What performances would make your top 3? Any fun concerts planned for this summer? I’m going to see Beach House in July and then Coldplay in August. And hopefully a few in between.

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Here We Go: Content

I get a lot of questions pertaining to CONTENT! I mean what is blogging without content? The content here at Show + Tell has really changed over the years. Most of my old content was centered around my (amateur) design work or featured blurry iPhone photos. I wasn’t very active on Twitter and it wasn’t a place to engage. Here are a few key steps to improving your blog’s content and feel free to comment below with any of your own tips!

BE ORIGINAL // NOT A CURATOR

I have no problem with bloggers who curate content and post things from other sites, blogs or Pinterest. A lot of people use Tumblr that way and who doesn’t love looking at pretty pictures all afternoon? I do, however, see that as a different style of blogging. I think it’s great when people share content but why not introduce us to something original? Blogging really changed for me when I started thinking about original content. What can I bring to the table? It started with artist interviews here at Show + Tell. I would contact or connect with artists all over the country and interview them! I was able to interact with some of my favorite designers who I admire greatly and that prompted another feature series called ONE DAY which would feature real weddings! Since then I’ve evolved and grown and now I love sharing resources, advice, city guides, and much more. I don’t want people to visit my blog and think, “Oh I’ve already seen all of this in my Google Reader or on Pinterest.”

ENGAGE // ASK QUESTIONS

Some of the blog posts I’ve enjoyed the most are ones where I ask my readers questions and get THEIR advice or perspective. I love it when I read a blog and they ask me for recommendations, advice or what I’m doing on the weekend. It’s even better when they interact! About 8 months ago I decided that I was going to interact with all of my readers who comment. I don’t have the type of blog where responding to comments is overwhelming and it’s more fun when you meet people and can visit their spaces on the internet. A fun plugin for WordPress (that make interacting easier for your readers) is Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. Some commenting systems already have this feature included but I had to add mine. It essentially allows your readers to subscribe and are notified when you respond!

BE CONSISTENT // POST DAILY

Many bloggers will say, “Post as often as you want. Do what’s best for you,” but I’ve found that posting daily during the week (and at the same time every day) works best. I used to post whenever I felt like it but most people lose interest and unless they really feel a connection with you, they probably won’t stick around. As of right now, I schedule my posts for 7am EST. I used to schedule my posts to publish around 10:30am EST but most people are already in their workday groove and won’t check until lunchtime. Be up and ready when they are! And be consistent!

UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY // HELP THEM EXPLORE

The great thing about blogging is that there are SO many ways to keep your readers interested and looking for more. I’ve found that utilizing specific categories (don’t use too many!) is a great way to do that. It allows your readers to read more posts that they connect with. Highlight your categories on your sidebar. Your sidebar is a great way to display other content even after they’ve finished reading your current post. Design and photography are also great ways to keep your readers engaged. I wrote a post awhile ago about images and another post about affordable resources like editing software and fonts.

What advice would you give to beginner bloggers relating to content? How do you decide on what you’re going to blog about? Can’t wait to hear from you all!

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Good Goods

I thought I’d start June off with a Good Goods post (read my favorite goods from April). Here are my current favorites:

  1. Draw Your Tomorrow planner from Poketo: Seriously the best planner I’ve ever had. Lots of space for notes and the ability to start the year whenever you want!
  2. Giovanni 2Chic Shampoo and Conditioner: IT SMELLS LIKE PISTACHIOS! Makes me smile every time I wash my hair.
  3. Bodum Canteen Porcelain Mug (Double Wall): Keeps my coffee warm longer and it’s not a huge mug which is perfect because I don’t drink that much coffee in the AM.
  4. Franco Sarto wedges: I’d been on the look out for cute wedges and was so glad I bought these! Great with dresses, jeans or shorts.

Any favorite products you’d like to share? I’m going to take it easy with shopping this June. After we paid off our debt last month it was easy to kind of loosen up a bit but we still have big goals so I need to focus! If you’re a shopper like me (but want to stay true to your budget), check out my post from earlier about shopping alternatives!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the return of HERE WE GO!

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Hello Adulthood: Owning Your Own Business

I’ve been officially (and legally) operating my business for almost three years now! I remember receiving the certificate in the mail from the State of Ohio and the letter from the IRS stating my EIN (Employer Identification Number). It was all really exciting – and to be honest – it still is really exciting. Over the past three years I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with professionals of all ages looking to start freelancing and working for themselves. I’ve compiled some advice and tips if you’re in the same place in life (oh and scroll down to the bottom to win a copy of one of my favorite books).

START SLOW // BE PATIENT

This advice is inspired by my mother. She always uses the phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Unlike a lot of small business owners, I never had to take out a loan or invest in a lot upfront. I had my MacbookPro and Adobe Creative Suite and that was pretty much it. It was tempting, as time progressed, to upgrade to all the newest technology or buy software to help with finances but I was patient. I’m just now getting to the point where I can hire contractors, pay for an advanced account with Freshbooks, or upgrade my computers. I do, however, suggest investing in ONE thing before anything else: a laywer. I connected with a lawyer a year into freelancing and I have never once regretted it. It’s nice to know you have that protection and I would highly suggest hiring her/him to write up your contracts. Other great free (or affordable) resources when starting out: Curdbee Invoicing ($5/mo), Square, Dropbox.

BE WISE // START GOOD HABITS

In college I really learned how to handle my money — unfortunately it was because of a lot of failure and a bad experience with credit cards. I registered my business at the age of 22 and knew there were some key habits that I wanted to establish before I began. They included (but weren’t limited to):

  • No using credit for the first 5 years – So far, so good. When I upgrade my computer later this year, I plan on using credit with the cash available to pay it off immediately.
  • ALWAYS USE A CONTRACT. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS.
  • Put 30% away for taxes – This never gets easier but I do plan on paying quarterly starting next year so the final amount owed won’t be so painful.
  • Handle small tasks like email, bookkeeping, account management, etc until it doesn’t make sense financially – It wasn’t until this year that I realized some tasks just aren’t worth doing! I’ve recently hired on a virtual assistant and I’m excited to pass off the bookkeeping soon too.
  • My husband and our personal goals come first – I’m not freelancing full-time yet because our personal goals are the priority right now. We are going to buy a house early next year and so for now I am content with where I am and work hard to juggle two jobs for now.

BE HUMBLE // WORK HARD

I designed my first logo for $50! HEYOOO! The first year that I “tried out” freelancing (2008) I would predominately work with Etsy shop owners and many of them didn’t even have budgets. In early 2010, I was a nanny in order to keep some type of steady income. Often times I spend my Friday nights and weekends working. It’s not always glamorous but it is so, so fulfilling if it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. I think it’s important to work hard and always keep learning. Just remember, there are so many talented designers/artists so prove to your potential clients why you’re worth it! Maybe it’s between you and another designer and the only reason they picked you is because you’re easy to talk to. Be kind!

As a last gesture of sharing, I thought I would give away my copy of Creative, Inc. to one of you lovely entrepreneurs out there. I read this book a little TOO late–I ordered it last year and was happy to realize just how much I had learned on my own! It’s great for those contemplating the small business owner role. The authors, Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Cho, share so much wisdom and really walk you through issues like: creating your portfolio, promoting your work, setting fees & terms, dealing with taxes, handling your bookkeeping and giving yourself a vacation. This giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday, June 8th and the winner will be announced Friday morning.

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