Greedy Wish List: Birthday Edition

I love making wish lists. I can document what I love and go back over the years and see how terrible my tastes were. My birthday is coming up and I'd love to share what I'd love. I can't imagine I'll regret these items below...

1. Sanrio x The Simpsons Oversized Cardigan. I know spring and summer is coming up so the last thing I need is a heavy sweater but it stole all the heart eyes at "limited edition" and "exclusive". I'm a sucker for anything collectible, especially if I can wear it. 

2. Gold Macbook Air. I love my customized Macbook Air, I added higher RAM for faster and better memory, but why don't I have a gold one? The only qualm I have with this is the lack of performance and power it carries like the Macbook. Is it worth downgrading for the gold? Probably not but it is so pretty to look at. 

3. Alexander McQueen Skull scarf in blush. One day, I'd like to have a "signature look" that isn't pajamas or leggings. Scarves seem ageless and something I can use for years to come. 

4. A year subscription to Kawaii Box. This would save me trips to Daiso plus it's a box full of CUTE THINGS. 

5. Inkwell Press journal. I love my Inkwell press planner. The pages are thick, the covers are hard and I know it'll last me for the whole year looking great. If it has the same quality I've known Inkwell to have so far, this journal would be great to have. 

6. After having surgery and months of not walking, I'm slowly gaining control of my walk. I won't be able to wear sneakers or heels for some time, but I can wear comfortable flats and Tieks are the perfect tone of blush to go with everything. 

Happy birthday to me! Follow more likes, and unnecessary wants on Pinterest. 


2015 Library Challenge

Too many books seems like a good problem to have. I have an app that tells me how much I spend on certain items and once again, the shame I had in spending was valid. Books will always be the culprit to an empty wallet for me. I wouldn’t so much ashamed of buying them, as they just sit on my shelf, digitally and physically. I feel like a poser and as much as I love the idea of a physical and digital collection, the library is right down the street from me, I’m going to challenge my wallet to a spend off.  I won't be buying books for 2015, unless they're for gifts. Most bloggers try to save money on clothes. I’ve done a lot of personal book challenges, some I failed, but ultimately I want to discipline my spending. If I can control the one thing I can’t stop buying, that’s a good start to something bigger.

This is a good problem to have, a collection of too many books. I’m not in debt, it’s not emotionally hurting anyone, but it’s enough to bother me to make a change. At the end of project, I’d love to donate the money I saved to the library that’s supported my reading habit. Or buy new books (just kidding). 

Books read- To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Sacred Cows, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, We Were Liars, Rebel Belle. Books on hold- A Little Life, The Goldfinch, plus a couple others but I'm impatiently waiting for these two in particular. I'll also be donating any affiliate sales I make from this blog post to the library. Thanks for the support! Be sure to follow along on Goodreads

Guest Bathroom Renovation- Before and After

One of the my favorite things about owning an old home is I get to make it 100% ours. We get to choose what fixtures I want, what color tiles, what paint, even if I want a new toilet, ha. We wanted an older home to restore with the goal of making it look like the time period, but without the mold and asbestos. I wish I took before photos of all the renovation, but I only found a couple in between painting the walls and bringing in the (original!!!) claw foot tub. 

Before

After

We used a black VOC-free high gloss paint, added matching industrial inspired fixtures (from Lowes), the Star Wars towels from Think Geek, and the rustic ladder book shelf was once used for cameras in our apartment but now houses our towels. Our rug is from West Elm (no longer available though). Our Bob Dylan painting was from an artist we found on eBay and Scott's grandpa added the wooden frame for us.  I'm also a little paranoid about germs- I have this system of using small clean towels for every time to dry hands and put them in a basket below. Friends, family, even handymen use our bathroom and I don't want to share a dirty towel with them. This helps cut down on spending on paper towels. As for the folding and laundry, it's not that bad. It takes 15 minutes to do that, once a week, and if it's enough to save my sanity, it's worth it. The penny tiles are also easy to sanitize with a steam mop. 

It was risky using black paint for such a small space but because there is so much light, it works. 

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I post a collection of things I find darling. 

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I just joined Thrive Market and I can get high quality pantry foods for a big discount, with a yearly membership price. They deliver to your home and no need to run to specialty markets to find that one weird ingredient! Join here

+ this is an older post but I've been going back to it every now and then. It's a wonderful read, especially for baby loss mothers. 

+ Sequins For The Soul 

+ Emoji stickers!

+ The Lob vs Long Hair

+ How To Make Aloe Water

+ Benefits of Lemon Water

+ So You Took A Really Long Blogging Break, Now What?

+  Friday night pizza night 

Happy Friday! 

February 2015 Favorites

Let’s take a look back at favorites for February

Favorite Instagram account is fieldguided. I try to only mention accounts people have never heard of, but even if half of the readers of this blog already follow, it’s worth mentioning to those that are not familiar with Anabela’s dreamy feed. I love it because there is pink, lots of cats, bath bombs, and such a magical feed. Plus Anabela is just an all around wonderful person to follow. 

Favorite music is Colleen Green. This is one of the reasons I love subscribing to Rdio- it recommends new music for me, and knows me so well. I don’t like automatically jumping to comparisons for an artist but I can’t help but think of Best Coast and the Ramones when I listen to CG. It just came out last Tuesday, but I can’t help already making it a favorite. It’s a fun, pop, mix with a little grunge. The first song reminds me of Hole but as I kept listening, I couldn’t help but tap and sing along with her catchy chorus’. 

Favorite purchase was my Inkwell Planner. After I saw Ashley TIA’s video on it, I ordered one and I love it. It changed my life seems very dramatic but I can’t leave that part out. It really has changed my quality of life. My favorite part besides the organization is the pages, pages, pages of notes. There is so much writing and so many blank pages, I’m able to do a little scrapbooking with it. I don’t want to go to much into why I love it here but I plan to blog about it in more detail. It definitely deserves it’s own highlighted post. 

Favorite (unexpected) book is Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book of the month, but it’s my a book I didn’t think I’d like at first. I was ready to put it down after a few pages, but as a personal challenge, I decided to keep reading. Someone recommend this book to me after I told them I liked Harry Potter. It’s a book about a perfect prom queen high schooler, Harper Price, who’s life goal is Cotillion and other “southern belle” events. She ends up in a strange situation where she becomes an wizard assassin. Weird, right? I don’t want to give anything away but while the whole story seems so ridiculous, but the writer makes it work. It’s fantasy meets sci fi meets chick lit meets YA. I told you it was unexpected!

Here's to March 2015! 

Book Review; To All The Boys I've Loved Before

I had surgery a few days ago and the best thing about recovery was discovering writer Jenny Han. To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a YA book and while it has a girl on the cover that I'm assuming is a portrayal of Lara Jean, the book, to me, is about the Song family. Lara Jean's mom dies at a young age and she is left with her dad, and her sisters Margot and Kitty. Lara Jean writes anti-love letters to the crushes she's had in the past, almost like a diary and she shares her deepest feelings about them, knowing the letters won't ever be read. She keeps them in a vintage hat box her mother gave her. The book follows the teenage drama when the letters are mailed out one day. I won't share spoilers about what happens with the letters, but the way Lara Jean deals with it is both charming and annoying. I wanted to shake my fist at her for her poor choices throughout the book but at the same time I remember being a teenager once and thinking with my feelings. She's also sweet, funny and for dealing with the death of her mom, LJ has a good head on her after she catches it from spinning. The relationship between the siblings develop even though Margot is gone half the book from a trip overseas. I've read so many YA books about girls swooning over boys and this book has the same narrative but a twist. Lara Jean realizes she doesn't need any boy, but as long as she has her family, she'll be fine. It's cute, it's fun, and I loved it. You can buy the book on Amazon or go to the library and check it out for free! 

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Grief Is A Mix Playlist: Review of Love Is A Mix Tape

Ok, so I’ll admit i bought Rob Shefflield'sLove is a Mix Tape because of the cover. It wasn’t the most mature decision, but one of my best decisions when it comes to judging books by it’s cover. At the time I got this book, I was reading a ton of YA and since I thought it was a YA book about break ups, little did I realize then, it was recommended in a cluster of grief books I was also reading. This book surprised me. Not just because it’s about grief, but because it’s an awesome book about grief. Yes, awesome and grief in the same sentence. Very few times do I read a book that feels like I’m having a conversation with the author, and this time it felt like Shefflied was telling me about Renee, his wife that passed, the music they loved and shared and the music that got him through his pain. Halfway through the book it gets a little unexpectedly heavy but I loved it. I mean, it’s about a sad topic, and no matter how cool Rob is, no one can make grief cool. 

When I used to blog on Live Journal and use MySpace, they were riddled with music lyrics. Most of the time terrible, vague, passive aggressive (oh to be emotionally immature again), and angry. Just like it helped me in those times, music helped me outrageously in my grief and Love is a Mix Tape reminded me of this. I found myself highlighting so much of the book. 

"You lose a certain kind of innocence when you experience this type of kindness. You lose your right to be a jaded cynic. You can no longer go back through the looking glass and pretend not to know what you know about kindness. It’s a defeat, in a way."- Rob Sheffield

When Max died, I felt so unworthy of people’s kindness. I still do. I felt undeserving of even a text, tweet, an email. My mind can’t process this many people being kind, and after so long, it is defeat. I stopped denying myself of this type of love, even if it’s from a complete stranger. My heart opened, it allowed me to heal, and even to this day, not one single comment, in any form of medium shared, goes unnoticed. It goes straight to the heart. 

“When we die, we will turn into songs, and we will hear each other and remember each other."- Rob Sheffield

 When I think of old friends, I think of songs we listened to for hours in our rooms, driving, going to shows, and even when those songs annoyed me, those songs represent a moment with that person. I always wonder what song I’ll have with someone, but when i think about Max, I thought of Oceans- it was the first song that played when we turned on the car to head home after we left the hospital. We were in disbelief and out of habit, I plugged my phone in and Rdio played. I also remember the drive to the hospital. We played Lorde’s Heroine album, on repeat. It just came out a few days before and I remember we were so excited to meet our baby. I also remember my labor playlist. It took me months before I could listen to Birdy and Jonsi. These artists are complete strangers, but I felt like they delivered a baby with me (creepy but there's sentiment to it). Allison Weiss and Young and Free got me through 2014 and I’ll never forget the moments I felt OKAY for the first time while listening to them. 

This book is therapeutic, just like music itself. Music has the power to heal, lift and drag your spirit and there is a certain power I found in myself in choosing what to listen to. It’s only a click away but it can enhance my mood, break my heart, or feed or deplete my energy levels. 

“Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of a life.”- Rob Sheffeild

Introduction: Allison Lehman of Death to Stock Photo

I use stock photos on the blog regularly. I don't have the means (time, money, equipment) to go out and shoot as much as I'd like. The problem I had was lifestyle stock photography was generic and it didn't fit my aesthetic. I need just one photo to represent what I'm writing, and even then it was hard to find ONE. Until a year ago. Allie Lehman, a fellow blogger, launched Death To Stock Photo with David Sherry. They're both successful in what they do- designers, writers, photographers and now business partners. They had the genius idea to share their elegant photography with comrades in the design industry. They're fastidious with the photos they choose, and it's one of the fastest (and most beautiful) growing companies I've seen this year. Allie is a boss lady and I wanted to pick her brain on DTSP. 

+ Why did you and David want to start DTSP?

We both love to collaborate and we always have a million ideas (hint: we're even thinking of starting a second business together). We had a lot of extra photos sitting around in our Dropbox and figured we could start distributing these photos to our friends who design, develop and blog. It grew from there!

+ What are the benefits of having a premium account over the free account?

The premium account costs $10/month. You have access to all our old photo packs that were emailed out since we first launched. Right now, if you sign up for the free photo subscription, we email 10 free photos at the beginning of each month but you wouldn't get access to past packs.

We also include an extra pack of 20 photos if you're a premium member. A percentage of your membership fee also goes towards funding an artist/photographer of our choice. It's our way of giving back...and letting you give back!

+ What is your most popular download?

Pretty much any photo of coffee gets downloaded and used more than anything else.

+ You just launched a new program to sponsor photographers for DTSP. Tell me about that.

Yes that's my favorite part! We were already doing this well before we made it official. We love helping out others and removing those creative barriers. We would meet photographers who wanted to take that dream trip or buy a camera to help grow their business and we could financially support them. In February, we decided to announce it officially. Now it all goes full circle so if you're a premium member...you get photos from those you're supporting.

+ Lots of bloggers and companies use DTSP. When did you know you were getting big? What’s been the biggest company that used your work? 

I think the moment I finally felt like we were growing was when I saw that Pinterest and Mediafire were using our photography in their emails and on their homepage. Donald Miller has used one of our funded photographers' photos on a book cover. Fast Company, Medium and Entrepreneur use them too. It's fun to see business or professional email accounts signing up for our services.


When Allie isn't busy running Death to Stock Photo with David, she runs a design company, The Wonder Jam, with her husband Adam. Read her blog, her tweets and follow her insta's. Thanks for your time, Allie! 

Undone

I know I'm the epitome of what a fashion blogger shouldn't be in this post- chubby, with undone messy hair, but mostly recycling the same accessories over and over. If it works for multiple wears, I'm more likely to purchase it. When I don't feel well, I've learned it takes just as long to put on a t shirt and leggings as it does a cute dress. It sets the tone for my day and I instantly feel better. You don't have to go get your hair done, buy an expensive outfit, just put on what you love, but go a little out of your comfort zone. I've been trying this for a few weeks and while sometimes it's a task, at the end of the day, I never regret getting myself ready. 

The usual suspects- Dress, Lucie Lu from Gwynnie Bee, J.crew calf flats secondhand, Bon Look glasses, and Harvey's Bow bag

Gadchick Do It Yourself: Self-Publishing

So…here you are. You’ve taken that big step. You’ve written a book. We’ll assume at this point you’ve done all the necessary celebrating: you recorded your webcast of viciously marking through that line on your bucket list, poured out a bottle of champagne (or at least sparkling white wine) with your loved ones and kissed your dog for the first time since you started working on that monstrosity.

So…now what?

Many people think that the writing is the hardest part, but that is often not the case. Think of all the books you’ve ever hated and let it sink in: those are published pieces. Those made it through editors, agents, printers, just to name a few sets of eyes that looked over them. And despite how terrible they may have been, thanks to the work of design and marketing, they made their way into thousands of homes, hands and bookshelves.

Turning water into wine is easy. Getting everyone to drink it? That’s the hard part.

Now, there are a few questions you should ask yourself: 

·      Do I want an agent? Do I want someone to tell me what’s wrong with my book and take a cut of my profits once they start rolling in?

·      Am I in a place financially where I am looking for one large income (the fabled, glorious advance, whispered about in shadowy corners) rather than small royalties over time?

·      Should I look for someone else to do the nasty work of publicizing and marketing for me so I can focus on my Craft?

·      Do I find the rags-to-riches stories of Stephen King, JK Rowling and John Grisham appealing?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” there’s nothing wrong with that. You want to do traditional publishing, so go ahead and stop reading here. Grab a copy of the Writer’s Market off Amazon and get cracking.

But if, instead, you are interested in maintaining creative and financial control of your work, making more money per copy and starting a personal, involved campaign of your own…self-publishing may be right for you.

Now, my goal in this article is not to lie to you. Self-publishing is hard work. Even though there’s no one there to tell you to change your piece because of this or that, there’s also…well, there’s no one there to tell you to change your piece because of this or that. There’s also no one there to hold your hand or lay it all out for you. That’s why the core of self-publishing is going with your gut and making educated, thoughtful decisions on what you’re doing.

Here are a few how-to tips to help you get started.

1.     Know Your Stuff: nowadays, self-publishing is a new, popular way for artists to share their work with the world. People have done it well, others have done it poorly. Look at as many examples as you can of both worlds. Do what works. Avoid what doesn’t. Also, learn all those words of the trade: copyright, ISBN, retail price. Get comfortable with understanding what these mean.

2.     Avengers, Assemble: get a group of five people whose opinions you value and who will be honest with you no matter what. Offer to buy them dinner or babysit their kids or make them a mixtape. In return? Ask them to read your manuscript. Give them a realistic amount of time. Then, compile their notes on everything and go through your manuscript five times. Then again, reading it out loud. Doubt it’s perfect? Do it again. This step is a must; you will never catch everything on your own. Trust me.

3.     Weigh the Options: there are many services available for self-publishing your book, including Lightning Source, Createspace, Lulu, and other, smaller publishers. The ones I’ve named are print-on-demand services, which are the least costly and most convenient way of selling your book and getting convenient payment for earnings. If interested, you can find countless independent publishers who can be paid for a run of copies, but these are usually quite expensive and end up with you getting 1,000 copies of a book. Do you have space for that? Because I don’t. Read the agreements and compare the services that each company can provide. Which leads to the next point…

4.     Avoid Packages with Publishers: it sounds nice, right? “Pay x amount and we’ll do all the work you didn’t want someone else to do.” By figuring out a budget and putting out feelers for other creative-types, you can do anything that these packages can for a fraction of the price. Book covers don’t have to look brilliant, but if you want a really great one, find a graphic designer and offer to reformat their resume. You can write, they can design… it’s Let’s Make a Deal, indie-style.

5.     Social Media – It’s What’s For Dinner: Twitter, Google+, Facebook, GoodReads, Tumblr…it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the immense yogibogeybox that is Internet communication with would-be fans. Determine early on what you are comfortable using and which you think would speak more to your audience. Going for the geeks? Twitter and Wordpress. YA crowd? Tumblr. Friends, family and writers you’ve connected with personally? Facebook. 

6.     Time Management – It’s a Good Thing: planning book tours, creating ads, putting together press releases for local papers…it is so damn easy to find yourself only doing these things forever (author’s note: you will be doing these things yourself, you know). Because you’ve got to make that book sell, right? Well, right, but you also need to keep writing. Put together a calendar and commit to it. Allow yourself only a certain percentage of your day (no more than 50% total, I recommend) for marketing. The rest of it? Work on that sequel or prequel or not-at-all-quel. Because once all those people read your book, do you know what their next question will be?

“When is the next one coming out?”


Katie Pugh is a writer and a contributor to Gadchick. Her book Cape and Dagger is available on Amazon and her new book Pickled Miracles is out now. She also blogs on Bomehian on Rye and tweets. Thank you, Katie!