Here We Go: Hacking!

My blog was hacked last week. Sometime between 6am-9am on a Wednesday morning, EVERYTHING WAS DELETED. It’s the worst feeling. At first I was confused. I (like a weirdo, vain person) checked my blog around 9AM to make sure everything looked okay. I got a 404 error. Refresh. 404 error. Refresh. I got sort of annoyed and tried to log into WordPress. 404 error. AH! I called my hosting company and quickly explained what was happening. The customer service rep verified my URL and said those dreaded words, “It looks like you got hacked. All your files are gone.” Say whaaaaat?

Luckily I knew what to do. I worked for a hosting company back in 2009 and handled these kinds of problems daily. Sadly, most people don’t know what to do (or how to prevent it). That is exactly why I wrote this post.

How do they do it?

It’s easy to feel frustrated or personally attacked when your site or blog goes down due to hacking. Usually, it’s not personal. Your arch-nemesis isn’t sitting in their basement deleting all your files. What happens is a hacker runs automated scripts that look for known vulnerabilities in your site (especially outdated WordPress installations) and gains access through those holes. It’s like if you ignore the fact that your window screen has little rips or tears. It seems irrelevant until you wake up with 20 mosquito bites.

If a hacker can’t gain access that way, they can move on to find holes in your plugins, themes, your weak password, email or FTP. Mark wrote an awesome article titled 7 Ways I Could Hack Into Your WordPress Site. I suggest reading it!

How to prevent it.

Now that you know how they do it, it feels a little easier to prevent it. Here is my own checklist:

  1. Make your passwords complicated and make all your logins different. (Comic above found here via @teahousekitten. I laughed.)
  2. Always keep your WordPress install, themes and plugins up to date. When they find holes, they release newer versions.
  3. Keep backups of your blog + files hosted on the server.
  4. If you log into your blog as “Admin.” Change that. Here’s how.
  5. Remove the “Powered by WordPress” link at in your footer. Hackers can do a search for this.
  6. Set up 2-step verification on your Gmail account. (Great tip from Shoogle Designs)

Please note: there are many, many more measures that you can take to prevent being hacked. This article by Mastermind Blogger shared great tips that are a bit more technical and complicated. Be sure to give it a read if you feel comfortable enough to address some of these issues.

“Everything was dumb and then I sobbed.” – Quote from blogger Kara Haupt. Totally sums it up.

Still got hacked? Here’s what I’d do.

First of all, breathe. Freaking out and screaming at your hosting company’s customer service rep isn’t going to speed up the process (believe me, I’ve been there and when customers were swearing at me…I didn’t necessarily feel sorry for them). Here’s what I did (and what I would suggest you do too):

  1. Call your hosting provider. Explain what you think has happened.
  2. Ask them to scan your files for malicious code.
  3. Ask them when the most recent backup of your files has been taken & ask for a clean restore.
  4. Change all your passwords. That means WordPress, FTP, email accounts.
  5. Scan your computer for viruses. I don’t tend to do this with my Macs but I would definitely advise you to!
  6. Go to Google Webmaster and prove ownership of your site/ask for a review if you have the malware warning.

I would refer to this article by WordPress if you feel comfortable diving into some of their more technical tips (like server side permissions, changing your secret keys, checking for malware).

I’m not a hacker OR a pro at preventing it, but since it did JUST happen to me I thought I’d share my own tips in a simple, straightforward way. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments section. If I can’t answer it, I’ll find the answer for you. I also will gladly accept more tips and advice and I’m sure others would appreciate it as well.

Sponsor Spotlight: Eat.Drink.Shop.Love

Jewel–the woman behind Eat.Drink.Shop.Love— is one of my lovely sponsors this month! Eat.Drink.Shop.Love is a place where Jewel can share everything she loves about food, drinks, shopping, travel, and life. When I asked her what she loves about March she responded, “Right now I am loving the weather. It’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. It’s perfect!” What is Jewel loving lately? Check it out below:

  1. Colored Jeans
  2. GCB
  3. Homemade Veggie Fries (see Jewel’s post here)
  4. Pinterest
  5. Nars Tinted Moisturizer

Be sure to connect with Jewel by visiting her blog and following her on Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram. If you’re interested in sponsoring Show + Tell during the month of April, send me a message!

Nurtur the Salon + Sierra Club

I’m a huge fan of the Aveda brand. I’m hooked on their hair products, I love their values, the stylists are epically talented, and I’ve even worked with one of their salons professionally. A wonderful experience all around. I’m excited to be sharing one of the events that Nurtur (an Aveda salon) will be hosting in honor of Earth Month (in collaboration with the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club)!

On Saturday, March 31st from 2-4pm, Nurtur will be hosting a Stress Fix Beauty Bar! You will be able to experience Aveda’s new Stress Fix products (clinically proven to reduce stress) and learn other techniques to eliminate stress from a Yoga on High stress expert! These techniques include yoga, Reiki, and meditation. You’ll be able to experience a neck & shoulder massage, hand rituals, breathing techniques, while enjoying tea and music. You can also purchase one of their Light the Way candles (more info here). Pretty much exactly what I’ll need. This event is $10 a person and you can RSVP here. All proceeds will benefit their Earth Month partner, the Sierra Club of Central Ohio’s Clean Water Campaign.

Even if you’re not able to attend (or don’t even live anywhere near Columbus) I’d still recommend seeking out an Aveda Institute (very affordable haircuts and services by talented students) or an Aveda salon. I got my haircut last week and before my stylist even touched my hair, I got a complimentary neck/shoulder massage AND a hand/arm massage. You also get to lay down while they shampoo and condition your hair. Needless to say…I was a happy woman. I promise I’m not on their payroll. Just love when I experience quality service and can support an amazing organization like the Sierra Club. Let me know if any of you locals want to attend the event with me!

Sponsor Spotlight: Emily Elizabeth Jewelry

I’ve been a fan and customer of Emily Elizabeth Jewelry for years now! I was so excited when Emily offered to sponsor my blog for the month of March! Her jewelry, which is always gorgeous, can be found featured in magazines and constantly spotted on celebrities. When asked what she loves about March, Emily answered: “I actually dont like March because the weather is usually so transitional- no wintery, not springy, usually kinda cold, kinda wet and blah, but the the weather this year has been fab.” Below are a few things she can’t get enough of:

  1. Green Nail Polish
  2. Her New Cowboy Boots (these aren’t her actual boots, just a suggestion!)
  3. Pineapple
  4. Ice Loves Coco
  5. Good Coffee (mug found on Horne)

Be sure to connect with Emily on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. And if you’re interested in sponsoring Show + Tell in April, be sure to send me a message and I’ll get you info + rates!

I thought it was color film.

There’s something truly magical about film photography. Sometimes you load a roll of film and slowly take photographs. For me, this time, it was over a period of 5 months. I took portraits of Matt and must have brought the camera with me to Illinois where I captured that gorgeous shot of my sister (bottom). I finished out the roll this past weekend and snapped that photo of Desh and  our new aloe/ jade plants.

What’s even more interesting is that the entire time I thought I was shooting color film. I imagined what it would look like to capture the red coat that my sister was wearing (see, you didn’t know that) or the green/orange contrast between the plants and their pots. Obviously all of that is lost and I am actually still happy with how those photographs turned out.

If you love photography (you don’t have to be a pro), I would highly encourage you to shoot film. If you’re in the Columbus area, stop by World of Used Photography in Grandview. You can snag a film SLR with a lens for under $40. The experience is priceless. I promise. Oh and speaking of film. I STILL have yet to finish and develop the roll from my Sardina. I got it early August so I’m sure it will be fun to see the results.

If you’re interested in booking a film portrait session with me, feel free to contact me and we can discuss!

Sponsor Spotlight : Ashley Nacke Photography

Meet Ashley! She’s the beautiful woman behind Ashley Nacke Photography and I’m honored to have her sponsoring my blog this month! Ashley and I went to college together and I love that we’re both doing exactly what we love to do. When asked what her favorite part about March is, she responded with, “My daughter Ella’s birthday–she just turned 1!” Below are a few things that Ashley can’t get enough of:

01| Remodeling her bungalow 02| Revlon Lip Butter 03| Draw Something App 04| Warm weather

Connect with Ashley on her blog, on Twitter, and Facebook! If you’re interested in sponsoring Show + Tell in April, send me a message for info and rates!


March Birchbox Review

I’m back on the Birchbox bandwagon! I’ve missed it and I’m glad that they started accepting new subscribers again (they had been maxed out for awhile). If you don’t remember, I reviewed Birchbox in November and December. This month’s box was great and had lots of variety. I received the box yesterday (March 15th) and inside I found:

  1. Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien: I’m not in the market for perfume but even so…I didn’t love the scent.
  2. Color Club’s Nail Lacquer in Jackie Oh!: I love this color! I can’t wait to use it (it’ll be on my nails this weekend).
  3. Juice Beauty’s Blemish Blearing Cleanser: I unfortunately don’t really break out anymore but I’m excited to give this to a friend!
  4. Kerastate’s Elixir Ultimate: This has a pretty strong scent but my hair is frizzy so I’m excited to use it to smooth things over.
  5. Tea Fort’s Skin-Smart Teas: Mmm I love tea! The flavors (cucumber mint, cherry marzipan, and honey yuzu) look great!
  6. Ahava’s Essential Day Moisterizer: Ugh. I’m not an Ahava fan and didn’t like the lotion I got in December. Not a scent that I enjoy.

Overall I really loved what I got this month but I reallllly want to receive some makeup! What does a girl have to do to get some makeup in her Birchbox? Anyone know? Anyways, if you’re interested in signing up…use my referral link! It’s only $10/month and it’s SO fun to receive these samples. If you got different products in your box this month, leave a comment or a link to your own post!

CITY GUIDE: Los Angeles

I was so excited when Ann approached me about possibly curating a City Guide for Los Angeles. I’ve connected with so many clients, bloggers, and designers from Los Angeles and this post makes me want to visit ASAP! Be sure to read through her guide and be sure to add any of your favorite L.A. spots in the comments section!

Hi and welcome to Los Angeles! It’s true what they say about the weather, and even truer about the traffic. However, on Sundays you can escape the latter. Here’s how you should spend a perfect Sunday, my favorite day of the week.

Start the morning off at a flea market. L.A. is a wonderland for vintage-loving magpies. My favorites are the PCC Flea Market (1st Sunday of every month, free admission, inside a parking garage so lots of shade, parking is $2 or street parking) and the Long Beach Flea (3rd Sunday, $5 admission, get a coupon on website, free parking).

If you happen to be here the 2nd Sunday, the Rose Bowl Flea (photo above found on Sammy Davis Vintage) is worth the visit – but beware it is a behemoth and pricier ($8 admission, free parking, bring a sunbrella)! The Melrose Trading Post is also good if you need a fix, because it’s every weekend and manageable in a morning. ($2 admission, street parking).

Now it’s time for brunch/lunch – whatever floats your boat. My favorite brunch place is Canele. They serve LA Mill coffee, so two birds one stone. It’s the best coffee in LA, trust. Order the eggs en cocotte and the meyer lemon pancake for breakfast dessert. You will not be sorry.

If you’re more in the mood for something quick, Hugo’s Tacos is the best and just a couple blocks down from Canele. Lots of veggie-friendly options. Pick the chipotle honey salsa…mmm. Also stop at Proof Bakery down the street for the best baked goods in LA.

Now if you’re heading over to the beach, you should stop by the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It is one of the most unusual places you’ll ever visit. One cannot be told what it is, one can only experience it. For a grander, but unusually underrated, museum experience, check out the Natural History Museum downtown. Incredible dioramas.

In the evening, catch a film at the gilded Vista Theater in Los Feliz, then wander on down and pop into La Luz de Jesus Gallery (inside Wacko’s, the best book & toy store for grown-ups). For dinner, stop a couple doors down at Umami Burger (always check to see if they have cheesy tots! That’s a secret menu tip from me to you). Or wander up a couple blocks to Cafe Figaro and pretend you’re at a Parisian sidewalk cafe (if you squint your eyes). They have an amazing happy hour, or dinner if it’s later. Cap the night off with a scoop from Pazzo Gelato, get the salted caramel rose if they have it.

Thanks for spending the day with me!

A huge thanks to Ann Shen for curating this lovely city guide! Be sure to check out her site (oh my her illustrations are amazing), her blog Annplified and give her a follow on Twitter!

Featured image by Ben Amstutz.

Here We Go: Inspiration

Today’s Here We Go post was inspired by the tweet: “What to do when you’re feeling uninspired! How do you get your mojo back?” A great, great question. There have been many times where I find my mind completely blank. After three years of blogging, I’ve figured out WHY this happens. It happens when I stop observing. Sure, browsing through Pinterest might spark a curated post or I might develop a roll of film to share but to me that isn’t quality content. Over the past six months, I’ve really tried to stay committed to original content. I decided that I want my blog to be about community. I love hosting challenges, featuring cities, introducing my readers to my favorite people, and sparking conversation. Often times I would create posts like this or this…but how does that add to anyone’s life? Here are a few steps if you’re feeling uninspired as a beginner blogger or even for those that have been at it for awhile:

01. Buy this book. It’s called 31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo. I bought it (only $4.99) and it helped me IMMENSELY. It really has you analyze your blog from your readers’ perspectives, alerts you to popular posts, forces you to look at what it is your blogging about, and even helps you realize what to say when people ask…”So what do you blog about?”

02. Use A Calendar. I will admit that there are times that I create my posts the night before but usually I have them planned weeks in advance. I use my Google Calendar to map out what I want to post and to make sure I’m getting a variety in there. When you’re collaborating with others it really helps to be organized. People appreciate it when you respect their time and knowledge.

03. Keep A Journal. Not a diary but a sketchbook/notebook/whatever you want to call it. I have a Moleskin that I keep with me at all times and have random notes jotted down on pages with blog series ideas, people I want to collaborate with, or things I need to update (like my sidebar, links, categories, etc).

04. Connect on Twitter. SO many of my ideas and feedback come from Twitter and followers who stumble across my blog. It also keeps me accountable when I know people read my blog because they see the link pop up in their feed. Seeing what my followers are talking about can even spark ideas. Be relevant.

05. What blogs do you love? Make a list of 5 blogs that I love or read daily. Why do you love them? Probably because you feel connected to them and their posts inspire you. Be that for someone else!

Obviously those are just starting points. I really love blogging and when I don’t feel inspired…I usually take a short break. If you’re feeling the same way you need to step away from the computer. Read a book that challenges you, spend time with strangers, listen to new music. I truly believe that if you step out of your comfort zone…you’ll create better content (whether you’re a blogger, a designers, an artist, an anything).

I’m so glad that two of my favorite bloggers agreed to share what inspires them:

Even though I’m not a typical fashion blogger, I am involved in one aspect of the fashion industry and my job is to keep track of up to date information from lingerie designers. So keeping up with fashion magazines and designer blogs is definitely one form of inspiration. I actually love following their social media accounts – tumblr and instagram have opened up the world of the designer’s every day life and really gives you the tools to become an incredible blogger. You actually get a glimpse of what inspires them, what their surroundings are like, and who they are interacting with – this all puts everything in to great perspective. Other than that, I’m constantly taking walks. If you stop thinking of how to be inspired, sometimes the inspiration can come naturally with your own surroundings. My neighborhood is built around several lakes, so sometimes going outside, sitting by the lake and clearing your head is all the inspiration you need. – Erinn of Bare Intimates

I run a lifestyle and design blog so naturally, wanting to log my life and share my experiences is a huge part of what keeps me inspired. I love sharing about a swoon-worthy designer I came across or about what I did all weekend. For me, being able to share all of this with you is what makes it fun! I hate feeling obligated to blog so the fact that I am blogging FOR MYSELF keeps me going. – Vanessa of Hello Vanny

What keeps you inspired? What do you do when you’re lacking inspiration? I’m all up for hearing advice and your own tips!

MEET: Ryan Stryker

I’m so excited to introduce you all to Ryan Stryker! I met Ryan last year at a networking event and ever since I’ve been such a fan of his work. Ryan currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and works as a Senior User Experience Designer for one of the savviest IT Solution Providers in the industry. When he’s not knee deep in design projects he enjoy volunteering his time at his church, exploring the local Columbus food and music scene and is a sucker for a nice glass of whiskey. Follow him on Twitter and say hello!

1. You’re a designer and a developer (which I love). What are you favorite aspects of designing and developing? What are your least favorite aspects of designing and developing? Thanks for the compliment, making the leap from designer to developer has been a challenging but rewarding experience. My favorite aspects of being able to both design and development are mostly related knowing that my vision for the design will be developed to pixel perfection since I can constantly check my work against the design. That being said sometimes I find the opposite can be helpful too, meaning that I can make adjustments on the fly in mid-development or rethink certain areas of the design without changing my original vision for the project.

2. How would you describe your college experience? My Undergraduate Degree was in Visual Communication & Design and was more than likely very different than what designers are experiencing today. At the time (1999-2004) web design was rarely a topic of discussion, instead we focused more on traditional design principles including a mixture of fine arts projects and learning early versions of the Adobe Creative suite.

3. How did you enter into the professional world after graduating? After graduation I worked as a Graphic Artist for several years increasing my skills using Adobe software but also began taking evening classes at CCAD (Columbus College of Art & Design) in Web Design / Web Development in order to create a new website for my employer. The class enabled me to start learning development basics as well as giving me the opportunity to start doing freelance design and development work. After moving on from my position I continued to take classes in web development which has continued to create both personal and professional opportunities.

4. What websites do you visit daily? I don’t know that I truly check any websites on a daily basis other than maybe Twitter. I do enjoy a variety of design blogs including Smashing Magazine, Vandalay Design, Web Designer Depot and most recently Viget Lab’s UX/UI Blog – Viget Advance. I am also very fond of LinkedIn TODAY’s email blasts which provide a variety of industry related news articles.

5. Do you have any creative outlets outside of your day-to-day projects? I have been creating some party invitations, Facebook Page Designs and am starting on some business cards – all of which are done for free for friends. It’s nice to be able to do something altruistic and not have to worry about a proposal or hard launch date. I also recently joined a band playing bass guitar which is a nice creative outlet not design related.

6. Why do you think Columbus is a great place to live as a creative professional? (or maybe you don’t! Explain either.) I think Columbus is a great place for creative professionals! There always seem to be great opportunities for design work both as a career and for full time freelancers. Columbus is also booming with entrepreneurs and start up companies allowing designers fun opportunities to be exposed to a variety of interesting projects. We also have several fun and educational professional organizations like the IxDA, CSCA, Columbus AMA and the Columbus AdFed in which you can meet other people in our industry and swap stories (good and bad haha).

7. Any advice to those looking into or still in college studying design/development? This is a tough question. I think the most important piece of advice for those studying design or development is to really check your motivations for choosing to enter this career path. You have to really have a passion for this industry and be ready to invest a lot of time and effort in order to succeed. I would also suggest obtaining quality internships before you graduate to start gaining valuable professional experience, all too often I see very creative individuals who struggle with professionalism in a typical business environment.