What happened to Halloween?

Halloween, last year.
It seems like every year, Halloween gets less and less exciting. Am I the only one who thinks this?! I feel like when we were kids, the streets were packed with trick-or-treaters and it was such a fun experience. I remember preparing for at least a month just for that one night of candy gluttony. I remember anxiously waiting be able to wear my costume to school and attend the special Halloween assembly we had every year to check out everybody's costumes. That same night we would stay out for hours on end making sure we didn't miss one house and covering multiple neighborhoods. It was always so bloody cold and it was common practice to wear snowpants underneath your costume.

I feel like it isn't like that anymore. Maybe because I'm older, but at the same time I can't help but wonder why the streets aren't packed full of children holding pillowcases full of sweets... running around and scaring each other. We are lucky to get fifteen knocks at the door and the night air is silent. What happened?! I was appalled to learn today that some schools have new rules in place in which you aren't allowed to wear your costume to class. Instead, they prefer you wear black and orange clothing. Um, what!? I feel so bad for these kids... for not being able to experience a night that was always such an amazing memory for me.

I'll cross my fingers that more show up tomorrow evening and try to convince myself that Halloween isn't a dying event.

In spirit of the big day, I decided I couldn't go a year without painting my face, so.... this happened on Saturday night:

It really creeps me out to look at myself like that!  I hate creepy clowns. Why did I do this to myself?!

Last Halloween on this blog, I shared my top scary movies with you, and I wanted to share it again because everybody needs a little spook fest! Check it out right here. These movies are great if you're staying in and want to get into the spirit.

I had also released a Wonder Forest Halloween collection that was so fun to make!  Unfortunately I had no time this year to do the same, besides my little Pumpkins... which aren't even 1% scary.

How will you be spending Halloween? Do you think that it's a dying event?

 Sweet dreams, friends!

Blogging for Remington

Hey friends! I'm over at the Remington Ready blog today talking about how to stay chic while traveling! I share some tips for light packing and staying fashionable without the effort. I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you thought here in the comments!

I hope everyone is safe from Hurricane Sandy, and my thoughts go out to those that are currently flooded and without power... I hope things get sorted out quickly! We had it pretty easy here... just a bit of rain and random gusts of strong wind so far.


Building a Business Part 7: The Ups.

Part 1: The Beginning
Part 2: Sugardevil
Part 3: Groupie
Part 4: "Jacob"
Part 5: Dream Jobs

Now that I was able to dedicate 100% of my time to this endeavor, I set my plan into action.  I made it possible for potential clients to purchase my custom Myspace design services right from my little old website with the click of a Paypal button. 

The clients started coming in. Bands, individuals, and organizations would see my work on other profiles and wonder how they could get something similar. This is why that little "designed by" link at the bottom of all web work is so essential!  A huge percent of my clients would have never found me if it weren't for that.

I worked day and night on improving my own website's SEO and rankings, modifying and tweaking that code that made it possible for me to do what I do, and networking through Myspace itself.

There came a time when it was just not possible to charge what I charged and have people purchase the service through my little old website. My service was getting a little more popular and I had no control over the price once somebody purchased a custom design. For example, clients that would purchase the service at a low cost sometimes had me working my little butt off as if it were a job five times the cost. I decided that I needed to start quoting people per page, so with a brand new (more professional) website redesign and quoting system in place, I was ready for the next level.

My SEO was amazing. I was #1 on Google for many years for popular Myspace design search terms and that really helped people notice me. Record companies started to notice my company and I soon found myself working with some of the best artists in the biz, from Lenny Kravitz and Kylie Minogue to Twisted Sister and everyone in between. I found it ironic that these labels that I used to dream of working for one day actually wanted to work with ME now.  I even developed a relationship with Myspace. Their development team knew who I was and would give me inside information about changes that were happening so I could prepare. 

I offered other design services alongside this Myspace design phenomenon, one of which landed me a country music award for "Website of the Year" in 2007. Yes, I actually have my very own country music award... how random and cool is that??

Something I never imagined in my wildest dreams even happened... my work was showcased to Bill Gates. Yes, THE Bill Gates. As a part of the Microsoft Mix '06 conference, Myspace did a special presentation where they demonstrated (to Mr. Gates) all of the cool things that could be done with Myspace. They showed him slides of my very own profile designs, which I have stored away on a video somewhere. 

One thing that I wanted to touch on was something that I believe helped create a better reputation for my company... and that was the fact that I never let anybody know that it was just me running the show. Clients thought my business was a big team effort with an office full of designers, when in reality it was just little old me sitting at one computer screen.  I accomplished this by never referring to the business as "I", but rather "we".  "We" were a team... me, myself, and I.  I never showed anybody what I looked like, how old I was,  and I never corrected them in emails when they thought I was a boy and referred to me as a "he". The awful truth is that sometimes I was taken less seriously as a techy 23 year old girl who didn't go to college. Unfortunately some people still have that mindset, and I didn't want my sex, age, or education to influence what others thought of my work.

My little business had grown to heights I never expected and when I started making a six figure salary I decided it was time to incorporate.  Though I had the company registered and operating as a legit business, there were benefits to incorporating that convinced me it was the right path. See, with a sole-proprietorship, everything you do comes back at you. If something negative happened with the business, it was tied to me personally and could result in losing my own personal assets. With a corporation, that business is completely separate from you. If someone sued you, for example, they would be suing the company, not you, which means that none of your own personal assets could be touched.  If I filed bankruptcy, it would be the corporation, not me. Not that I thought something bad was going to happen, but it is definitely a possibility in any business so I wanted to make sure I was safe.

The process of incorporating is kind of a daunting task and expensive to do. Especially when you try to save some money doing it yourself and then have to hire your lawyer to fix what you've done.... *ahem*.  Anyways, with that all taken care of, I felt safe and even more professional, being that I was now able to add "inc." to the end of my business name!

I created Myspace profiles for about 200-300 artists a year and business was steady. Of course there were some ups and downs along the way, such as Myspace deciding (overnight) to change bits of their coding which in turn resulted me in staying up fixing hundreds of profiles. Besides that, everything was fine and dandy.... but isn't that always how things are before the storm?

Stay tuned for part 8!!!

Do you think that people are still judged by sex/age/education in business?


places to go: sunday edition

Happy day-after-Halloween-party-night! Did you get up to anything amazing? Since I'm sure most of you are taking it easy today, I'm going to make this post really simple and let you check out these awesome ladies!

{ Meet Rachael }

Hi! I'm Rachael and I have a UK lifestyle blog called made up of little things. You'll find all sorts of little things there, from recipes and beauty product reviews to general day to day musings, photographs of my animals and - my favourite - weekly Instagram round ups! Pop in and say hello, I'd love to hear from you!

{ Meet Danielle }

I'm a 20-something blogger with a passion for music, fashion, baking, creativity and art. When I'm not blogging, tweeting or passing the time surfing pinterest I'm a full time college student. I'll be graduating next year and I'm super excited.I created this blog as a way for me to log anything and everything I deem fit. This is a means to establish my identity outside of being a student, daughter or workaholic, but as an individual. I hope my personality shines through here and I can be an artist, baker, music critic and more. There is more here than meets the eye.

{ Meet Alexis }

Having been a wedding photographer for over ten years, I have attended a number of events over the years. Recently married myself, the planning process was so much fun and exciting but also stressful at times. I want The Art of Weddings to take the stress out of brides planning. I enjoy seeing couples in love and guests celebrating such a happy moment with the bride and groom. That led me to create The Art of Weddings, an annual bridal show that features talented wedding vendors in Oregon. In addition to the annual bridal show the website was recently updated to include a blog with daily posts about bridal fashion, planning tips and DIY ideas. It also brings together an online directory to find professional vendors for your wedding. Knowing that experienced vendors are key to an event going smoothly, The Art of Weddings brings together three great resources for the swankier kind of bride!

Happy Sunday, Friends!


frankenstorm. a public safety announcement!

In case you have been living in a hole and haven't read the news, a giant storm is headed for the US and parts of Canada. They're calling it "Frankenstorm" not only because it's happening during the week of Halloween, but also because it is the rare combination of multiple storms, including Hurricane Sandy and two big winter storms, all mixing together into one super scary concoction of Mother Nature madness.

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of terrified. They're saying that it could be the worst storm seen in the United States in one hundred years. It's hitting the East Coast, and probably isn't something you should take lightly. New York and New Jersey are said to be at the heart of the mess, but the size of the storm is so great that it may be even wider than hurricane Irene was and they are comparing it to The Perfect Storm (only more perfect).  The estimated damage was $1 billion yesterday, and increased to $5 billion today, so I encourage you to be safe and be aware! 

I'm posting this today because I have a lot of friends and family in the US who had no idea that this was even happening. Please do yourselves a favor if you haven't been following this and read the news... search Google for "Frankenstorm" and "Hurricane Sandy" and the latest news stories pop up.

What does this mean for Ontario? I'm not quite sure yet and that terrifies me. In case you didn't know, hurricanes/tornadoes are probably my #1 fear. They are saying that effects will definitely be felt from here to Nova Scotia, but how strong, nobody knows just yet. We generally tend to experience the same weather as New York, being that it is the closest US state, so that alone sends me into panic mode.

How can you prepare for this hurricane (slash) monster storm? Here is a list taken from the Washington Post... which you can view in detail here.

● Family emergency plan. If you live in an older home, make arrangements to stay with friends or family members who have sturdier shelter. If you live or work in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor. Elderly or disabled people may need extra assistance. Remember that many shelters do not accept pets. Be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

● Emergency contacts. Make a list of emergency phone numbers and contact information. Put paper lists in a plastic bag.

● Water. Keep at least one gallon per person per day and prepare a three-day supply.

● Food and other provisions. Prepare a three-day supply of non-perishable (canned or dried) food per person. Include baby supplies and pet supplies as needed.

● Flashlights and extra batteries.

● A first-aid kit and a seven-day supply of medications and medical items such as glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane, etc.

● Personal documents. Medication list and medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies and contact information for your home insurance agent. Keep these in a plastic bag.

● Extra cash. ATMs and credit card machines may not work in the event of a power outage.

● Charge your cellphone. Keep chargers and an extra battery on hand.

● Fill your car’s gas tank and set aside an extra set of car and house keys.

● Secure your property. Bring inside bikes, lawn furniture and anything that can be picked up by the wind.

● Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters if you have them.

● Smoke detectors. Make sure they have fresh batteries and are operating properly.

● Generators. If you have one, review the instructions and ensure you have the right fuel and equipment.

What to do during the storm

● Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to preserve food.

● Turn off or unplug propane tanks, electronic equipment and appliances.

● Stay indoors. Drive only if necessary.

● During power outages, don’t use candles — they can be a fire hazard.

● Don’t use gas cooking ranges for heating your home because of carbon monoxide hazards.

● If you go outside during the storm, stay away from loose or dangling power lines. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.

● Wear protective clothing and closed-toed shoes.

● Use your cellphone for emergency calls only, to conserve battery life.

●Don’t bring generators indoors.

No matter where you live in the US, this is something to watch. I don't mean to send anyone into a crazy panic, but considering how huge this sounds I want to make sure you are prepared and safe. I had horrible visions of people not knowing about this ahead of time and then trying to get into their cars and evacuate last minute, while being trapped on a flooded highway. Probably a little dramatic, haha, but the point is that I felt I had to put this information out here.

Are you worried? Have you been through a horrible storm before?


the perfect day.

sweater: c/o brooklyn industries
jacket: mike & chris
lipstick: rimmel lasting finish in airy fairy (similar here)

It's incredibly gorgeous out today. We're sitting at 22°C right now, which is a strange but welcome change from the 5° weather we've had recently. The sun is shining, sky is blue, what more could you ask for? Appreciate the little things. Life is good.


Teresa Collins Stampmaker Review!

I am so excited about this product that I got to try out and had to share it with you guys. It's the Stampmaker Kit by Teresa Collins and probably one of my new favourite things.

Making polymer stamps has been something I've been interested in for a long time now, and this handy little machine makes it so easy. Seriously, how many times have you wished you had a certain type of stamp but been unable to find one? I know personally this has happened to me on many occasions... while packaging up products especially! I'm relieved to know now that whenever I get that desire, I can whip one up in a matter of minutes.

The main contraption is this little light unit that's purpose is to solidify the polymer which your stamp is made of. It kind of reminds me of exposing a photograph onto paper in a dark room... only the stamp is your photograph!

The kit comes with a bunch of polymer packs, film negatives, magnetic clamp, and everything else you need to start making stamps right away. The included films are Teresa Collin's designs, but you are not limited to these ones as you can create your very own easily with a computer and a printer. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at first because there was so much stuff and I didn't want to mess anything up! After I created my first stamp though, I was a pro! I think taking that initial plunge to try something you haven't done before is always a little nerve-wracking.

The magnetic clamp shown above is sort of like a picture frame. You place your film negative inside and the red light-sensitive polymer pack on top. After clamping the top frame to the bottom one, your polymer is squished and secure and ready to be made into a stamp!

Letting the stamp sit in the light unit for a couple of minutes hardens all of the exposed (i.e. non-black) areas. These hardened areas become your stamp! When you take it out all that you have to do is wash off the liquid polymer from around the hardened areas, and your stamp is just about ready for use. I'll go into greater detail about the entire process when I share a special project with you all!

The first custom stamp I created was of course a Wonder Forest one! I created the negative on my computer and printed it out on the special negative film that is included in the box. The stamps turn out perfect and crisp every time! (the grungy look on the stamp example above is simply because my stamp pad is drying up, oops! Too much stamping going on in this house!)

Stay tuned for a detailed project post, and if you'd like to check out the Stampmaker kit, click here!


on being creative all the time

The life of a designer is one I wouldn't trade for anything. It allows me to try new things, be creative every day, and do what I love to do. Sometimes though, no matter how hard you try, the artistic juices get clogged somewhere along the way to your brain.

The truth is, it's hard to be creative all the time. Sometimes you just want to push everything aside, wish away the constant train of thought, and do absolutely nothing.

I have "off" days, and that's okay. They tell me that I'm trying to do too much at once and that if I just chill out for a while, that creativity will come flowing back. Everybody has "off" days. Sometimes there is simply no time or will to dedicate an entire afternoon to using your reserve tank of originality fuel.

I've learned that pushing through the fog just to make somebody else happy never turns out for the best. The final creation is shoddy... the opposite of how I want to portray myself. Design is an expression of yourself, regardless of if you are creating for somebody else or not. Nobody can rush you into completing something if your heart is not in it because even though they might think it's finished, you will always feel like it's incomplete.

I don't know the point of this blog post... I just had to let my thoughts out today.


scenes from the weekend

played with this tired little boy

designed some new Wonder Forest holiday cards

Created a mini version of my plush heart... kind of in love with it!

Made a normal sized one for a customer

Spent most of Saturday cleaning out one half of my basement and making a "room" down there... complete with entertainment. I have big plans for this basement and cannot wait to get started!

Drew up some framing plans for the above mentioned room. Can't have a room without proper walls! It's so fun knowing that you have a huge empty canvas to work with. We're getting wood this week and making a basement reno our winter project... one room at a time.

Made some custom stamps. More on this later! ;)

Got a new car for Dustin.... a Lincoln LS V8. He picks it up on Wednesday! Finally a two-car family again, and I have my freedom back!

Pretty productive weekend, if I do say so!

p.s. ROMWE is having a Halloween sale soon!


Saturday is for Sponsors...

Since I always consider Saturday to be one of the best online shopping/browsing days, I decided it was the perfect time to introduce you to some of my sponsors who have shops or offer cool services! They're a great bunch, so do check them out!

Little Blue Feathers is an internet based handmade business in southwest Ohio. In my shop you will find organic clothing for babies and children, as well as accessories for the other little ones in your life, your pup! All of my bodysuits and t-shirts are made in the USA from all natural organic cotton, and are screen printed or appliqued in my home studio. I enjoy fabric shopping and creating quality collar accessories for the dapper dog in your life. Little Blue Feathers is a one stop shop for any and all the little ones in your life.

 Use coupon code WONDER for 10% off your next order! 

ever+mi.crush is a culmination of my husband and my love for art, design, music, and fashion of a bygone era. Since the beginning of our relationship, we wanted to put to use these aspects of our passion and personalities and create something of our own that we can pour ourselves into. So this is our story and with these loves (crushes) and our two little boys, Everett & Miles, We have mixed them together, place on a cookie sheet, bake and *POOF*! Now you know the meaning of ever+mi.crush!
At ever+mi.crush, we strive for high quality and reasonable prices, our collection is a union of our visual histories and all that inspires us. We are a company devoted to YOU, our supporters! We search high and low, making it our top priority to provide our customers with trendy pieces that have that look, that vintage expression. We are a boutique that boasts unprecedented value, quality goods and fantastic customer service. We hope you enjoy shopping the selection we have, as much as we enjoyed choosing them!

Take 15% off your entire purchase with code WONDER15

Passionfruit is the easy way to sell blog ads. Ashley of Mama of All Trades explained it best: "I love using Passionfruit for my sponsor space. It was super easy to set up and I had ads running on my site in minutes. Best of all? I won’t forget to set my ads up at the first of every month and I don’t need to worry about coding or hosting images. Passionfruit takes care of it all."

I'm Erika of rouge + whimsy. I'm a blogger, handmade shop owner, night owl and guacamole addict. I sell modern, colorful clutch and totes on etsy and blog about life, fashion and my naughty corgi puppy.

Take 15% off your purchase with code WONDER

Hello everyone! My name is Ashley from Rustic Living. I was blessed to have been raised on a farm in southern Idaho . It was there that I developed an appreciation for all things "rustic", furniture and home decor that has an antique or distressed look to it. I love the story of how my grandmother found some old apple crates in a junkyard in the summer of 1949 and proudly turned them into a cupboard for dishes . I have the same passion for taking something plain and ordinary and turning it into treasure. On my blog, Rustic Living, you'll see furniture transformations, DIY projects, puppy kisses, handmade treasures, home cookin', and a passion for the country lifestyle.

I opened a shop last April where I sell rustic chic wedding decor, pillows, and table runners. I'm so excited to share I've begun selling handbags and clutches as well! I recently completed a few items that were inspired by a nautical theme and a shabby chic theme. I would love for you to stop by my shop!

Take 25% off everything in my shop with code: wonderforest

Happy Saturday, Friends!

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