Thursday, June 28, 2012

Desigual and Hookerfeathers

These pictures were taken a few weeks back, which is why they don't show my rainbow hair quite yet! I will post about it! I just want to get some good pictures of it first. =)

I actually got this skirt in Rome, when I was there training for my previous job (yeah, the international training was pretty sweet). That is where I discovered Desigual - awesome brand that unfortunately is not available in my area. I randomly come across it occasionally at little boutiques when I travel.

I wish the images captured the skirt's design a bit better. Desigual clothing (at least the ones I have seen and am drawn to) are all about prints in various inks (including metallic), embroidered designs, patches with intentionally visible stitching, and overall randomness. And yet it manages to look cool, not chaotic. I personally love it.

I also love my gorgeous Hookerfeathers necklace by Natalia Fabia. And yeah, that really is the name of her jewelry store! Heh. Natalia is an amazing artist.

Photography by Jacob
Shirt - Express
Skirt - Desigual
Necklace - Hookerfeathers

Oh, and last time I visited the Desigual website (a while ago), it was not set up for direct online purchases. Looks like now it is. This means trouble for my bank account!

P.S. In anticipation of a busy week, I scheduled this post ahead of time. You will definitely hear more about yesterday's photo shoot soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Greek Gods Yogurt Review: Epic Deliciousness

This post could also be called "Breakfast for Night Owls Working Day Jobs." Yeah, that's me. I (should) wake up at 6am and leave for work at 7am to arrive by 8am. I am also, definitely, a night owl. If left to my own devices, I will almost always go to bed around 2am or later. Thus, 6am is painfully early for me, and the last thing I want to do is scramble around to find a decent breakfast.

Previously, I "solved" this problem by simply not eating breakfast. Unfortunately, this generally left me starving at 10am, or just snacking all morning. It is hard to think and work effectively when all you want to do is eat something. I also find that by skipping breakfast, I end up eating a lot more food throughout the day. I had to think of some options.

Yes, there are bagels. Occasionally, not a problem. Every day? No thanks - for one, I would get sick of them in about a week. And of course, I would prefer not to have a carbo-loaded breakfast every day. Then there are bars - quick, easy, and convenient. But bars for breakfast never really appealed to me - they seem more like afternoon snack food. I suppose in the end, the biggest problem is that I really just don't like breakfast unless it's a fancy omelet or french toast.

That is, I didn't like any simple breakfast items until I tried that Starbucks Greek yogurt and honey with granola parfait. Wow. Realistically though, I did not want to spend $3.45 and a trip to Starbucks (there goes time I could spend sleeping instead) every morning. I started trying out different brands of Greek (and Greek-style) yogurt from the grocery store. Some had unpleasant textures - others had a strange taste. Trust me, I tried everything else available (Oikos, Fage, Chobani, etc.), and even tossed some of them partway through. That's saying something since I really hate to waste food. I was not impressed... until I tried Greek Gods yogurt.

Well, I should have known. With a name that epic, how could it disappoint? I tried the honey flavor at first and loved it, but decided to try the other flavors available as well. Here are the results.

Price: More expensive than most yogurts (I have seen price ranging from $1.50 - $2) but less expensive than some traditional Greek yogurts. I generally stock up for a week or two when they go on sale.

Flavor: Honey and Vanilla Cinnamon Orange are excellent, but the Pomegranate was inedible, in my opinion. Honestly, the Pomegranate yogurt was a sickly pinkish (with a grey tinge, if that is possible) color that really did not appeal to me. The taste was not pleasant either. Other flavors (Fig, Plain) were not available at my local store.

Health Benefits: Greek Gods yogurt (which is labeled as "Greek-style yogurt" rather than just "Greek yogurt") has slightly less health benefits than the more traditional strained Greek yogurts such as Fage. There are still plenty of benefits, as with any yogurt. Personally, the "Greek-style" yogurt is fine with me as I am more concerned with the texture than how "authentic" it is.

Suggestions: As mentioned earlier, I get bored easily with breakfast items. I like to vary this up by mixing in small cut-up strawberry pieces and/or granola (certain cereals like honey-bunches of oats work for this too). Obviously, this would be overkill for the honey yogurt, but you could add a bit of honey to the vanilla or other flavors.

Bonus: Greek Gods was founded a group of friends in Seattle! Extra love.

Have you tried Greek Gods yogurt? What do you think?

P.S. Today is photoshoot day! You'll hear plenty more about that later, of course. =)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthday Wish List

Next month, I turn 25. Since my birthday is coming up and I am seeing so many amazing indie products everywhere, I couldn't resist sharing my birthday wish list with you!

1.) Any of these awesome t-shirts by New Breed Girl. I love so many of their designs but that "Friends Float Together" one cracks me up every time!

2.) Adorable felted wool barrel cactus from Good Natured by Dani. This would further declare my love for cacti. Plus, I really want more cacti but am out of space on the windowsill... so hey - how about one that doesn't need actual sun? Perfect for Seattle! Hah. She also has some adorable felted animals in her shop that I am eyeing!

3.) Happy fairy tale fawn by Wonder Forest, available at Shanalogic. I have the magical unicorn but I've wanted a deer too for quite a while now. The pink heart patch and bow detail are my favorite.

4.) Detailed anatomical heart necklace by Lost Apostle, available at Shanalogic

5.) Morbidly cute sticky bunny and summer buck from Cherry Box Studios. I already own the berrycorn and he wants a friend! It's gotta be boring just hanging out on the wall by yourself all day long.

6.) Super pink valentine wood art block ACEO collection by Hannah Lynn. I love wood art blocks... and Hannah's art!

7.) The entire Locketship dinosauria collection. Well, pretty much everything except the brontosaurus ring, since I already bought that at Unique LA.

8.) Sweet blue frosted sugar cookie brooch by Twinkie Chan! I have one of her crocheted cupcake scarves, and I get compliments whenever I wear it out. I need something for summer!

9.) Polka-dotted flirty sweetheart apron by CreativeChics. Alright, I don't bake much (except for vegetables), but this might be incentive to start.

10.) Rebellious spiked patent red leather pumps by VileBroccoliFur. Too bad they don't come in my size! I would kick some serious ass with these.
[EDIT: Chase and Poco of VBF informed me that they can make the shoes in different sizes, so contact them if interested!]

11.) Colorful carnival princess sundress by CrudeThings. Actually, I put in the original custom request for a skirt in this color/pattern scheme (for my upcoming photoshoot), and Lana was sweet enough to make one for me super fast! SO I already have a skirt in this color/style. But I still want this dress. Ridiculous of me, I know... but look how fun it is!

12.) Whimsical pastel ferris wheel wood-mounted print by Everyday is a Holiday. Told you I love wood-mounted prints. Mostly because I hate getting things framed. I definitely need some of Jenny's artwork! By the way, she also has the coolest blog, if you didn't know about it already. =)

13.) Summery cherry popper pin-up dress by Lace Affair. Maybe by July it will finally be nice enough here to wear some summer dresses.

14.) Hilarious punk rocktopus by Jayne Danger, available at Shanalogic. My pink octopus plushie (from the same artist) needs company!

15.) Incredible snake hoop earrings or wrap ring by Anomaly Jewelry, available at Shanalogic.

Yeah, lots of things from Shanalogic on my wish list. That's because Shana has awesome taste! And yes, since this is a wish post, I scheduled it for 11:11. =) It's my favorite time to post!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seaworld, Part 2

More pictures (and a very short video) from our SeaWorld trip last month. You can see part 1 here.

As part of admission to SeaWorld, we had free access to various scheduled shows around the park. The comedy show was incredible, featuring two very well-trained sea lions named Clyde and Seamore, a seal, and an otter. We really enjoyed the show.

Check out the talented sea lion!

Of course, they had a dolphin show! Dolphins are one of my favorite animals, and I "hung out with a dolphin" during a Caribbean cruise two winters ago. They're so fun and playful. While the dolphins in the show were impressive, Jacob and I wished it had been a little more about the animals and less about the acrobatics, which dragged the show out a bit.

They did some pretty cool tricks!

Dolphins swimming together in a pod. =)

Between the shows, we ran over to catch the Shipwreck Rapids raft ride. We got completely soaked! As in... we looked like we had just been dunked. Of course, it didn't help that they have little "pay to shoot" water gun stations along the ride, and some evil spectators decided to help spray us!

So many Shamus!

They were quite talented as well. Jacob observed that while the trainers got in the water at the dolphin show, they most certainly did not at the killer whale show. Probably a very wise move.

Show-off! =)

If you are ever in the area and have a full day free, I would recommend visiting SeaWorld! Here are my tips:
- As discussed in part 1, buy tickets online, ahead of time, or through the multi-park pass deals. Substantial savings ($20+ per ticket).
- Make sure to allot at least six hours if you want to see everything. More if you plan to take breaks and/or eat at the park. It is a big place.
- Mark all of the shows and events you don't want to miss right at the start - a lot of the events only occur once or twice a day and you don't want to miss them! We made it to all of the ones we wanted to see.
- Wear good shoes. Again - big place. Lots of walking.

Jacob got me a plushie Shamu there, and I bought myself an adorable "melt hearts, not ice caps" penguin t-shirt at the gift shop. Too cute!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

LA: Tarina Tarantino, Tokidoki, and So So Happy

After Unique LA, I insisted we stop by a few shops on Melrose before heading down to Carlsbad. Wish I had thought to look up the Betsey Johnson store there - well, at least we went to the San Diego store later.

First up: Tarina Tarantino!

If you somehow haven't heard of her, Tarina is a jewelry designer known for her bright, sparkly jewelry and her signature fuschia hair. As I expected, her store was adorable and so colorful! Yeah, that's me in the mirrors taking pictures. =)

Someday I will decorate at least one room in the house like her store is decorated. Pretty pastels and tons of colors!

We had to stop by Tokidoki, of course! Check out that sweet scene on the store window. I have Kaiju and Mooka in plushie version.

Skateboard wall. My friend Zoe and I were talking about how we both love decorative skateboards. Someday... Nope, not cool enough to actually use them functionally, but Tokidoki board always look awesome.

Awesome backdrop! They let me be weird and take a picture with the graphics wall, although it turned out to be hazardous. See that door on the wall right behind me? Yeah, it definitely opened (outward) while I was standing right there...

Later, we tried to go to the My Little Pony show at the Toy Art Gallery. It just wasn't meant to be. First, our GPS misled us - I swear, iPhones get me lost in foreign cities. As in... nowhere near the destination. Eventually we found it, but the lines were insanely long. Around two corners as far as we could see. So... I stopped by to take a picture with the So So Happy wall of a nearby shop and called it a day.

I did get a few items at the Tokidoki store. Truffle! Easter cactus bunny. Yeah that's right - Simone Legno of Tokidoki makes cactus animals! This was even before my love for cacti began. Totally meant to be. And I couldn't resist getting a few pins! The stickers were free with my purchase. =) I don't know about you, but I love getting stickers. Never grew out of it, I suppose. The stickers arrive with online orders but I wasn't sure about store purchases - pleasant surprise!

All in all, a fun day in LA! I wish we had more time there, though. I really wanted to try the macaron ice cream sandwiches at Milk, and go to a lot more stores like Japan LA.

Next time, I suppose!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Artist of the Month: Hannah Lynn, June 2012

I am very excited to introduce Hannah Lynn, our very first Artist of the Month! I plan to feature one carefully selected artist or shop owner each month as part of my goal to promote members of the indie/handmade community that I believe in. Hannah Lynn is one of my all-time favorite artists, for so many reasons: her colorful artwork, affordable products, genuine enthusiasm, dedication, excellent customer service, and warm personality, to name a few. She kindly agreed to my interview request, and I guarantee you will love her and her work.

Thank you for joining us today, Hannah! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me! I am a self-represented Fantasy/Character style artist who works out of her home studio in the small town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. I have been connecting with people online through sites like Etsy, eBay, and Facebook, and also in-person at shows for about 6 years professionally. My artwork can be found on a variety of licensed products like cross-stitch, stamps, jewelry, and more, while direct items like original paintings and artist prints can be found in personal collections all over the world!

Did you always know you were going to be a professional artist?
Actually, not at all. When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher. I loved art, but growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, we didn’t have the opportunities that the internet provided for today’s businesses. My stepfather was a starving artist with an AA in Graphics Art who never made anything substantial on his artwork, despite being extremely talented (again, lack of connections because the internet wasn’t around!), so the career wasn’t looking like a viable path. We were very poor growing up, and more than anything I wanted to help people and be financially stable, so I assumed art would be a hobby for me and worked hard on my studies.

I had a passion to do something that really made a difference in other people’s lives, and school was just as easy as artwork was for me. I applied to UC Davis for their pre-med program and was accepted, but circumstances changed and I ended up putting school off for a while and jumped into the workforce. I started working at a coffee shop at age 17 in Sacramento, California, and became the store manager 18 months later, at age 19. I also married my husband at that time; we celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary just last month. I didn’t do much with my artwork for almost 10 years in between. I enrolled in online school a year after I had my first child, specializing in business but having every intention of going into Education Administration, then one day…

Were there any experiences in your life that shaped or inspired your artwork?
I had an idea. I always had ideas, constantly. I have always been a business girl at heart, knocking on doors selling my handmade bookmarks as early as third grade, and getting my first paid commission in seventh grade from my Science teacher! I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler and an infant, in full-time online school. I decided I really needed something for me; a hobby. I realized that I used to LOVE to draw and color, so I went to the store and got some cheap colored pencils and cardstock just to play with, since I didn’t have any adult art materials in the house. I had this idea to take pictures of my adorable babies, cut them out, add hand-drawn fairy wings to them, and put them in shadow boxes. I thought it sounded fun and wondered if other people would buy them for their own children, so I popped up my computer and started searching around to see if anyone else was already doing it and see if it was a viable business option.

While searching online, I found these little miniature pieces of art on eBay. They were only 2.5”x3.5”, the size of a baseball card, and people were cramming as much detail on those little cards to make it look like a huge painting! Some of them were selling for as high as $100 to $300 apiece, while others were selling at a penny or 99 cents. For me, I thought it would be a perfect hobby, because I was still in school with 2 very young children, and the cards were very small which made them easy to create, list, sell, and ship. I sold a lot of my first cards for 99 cents, made from cheap pencils on cardstock, and they were completely random subjects like animals and seasonal stuff. One month later, after doing some research, I realized that mermaids and fairies were continually selling well. So I tried that, and immediately I was so busy I couldn’t paint fast enough to keep up with the demand!

Is there anyone in your life who influences your art?
My children help me to tune into that child-like nature that brings me back to when I was child, drawing, coloring, and dreaming the day away. I just love Disney movies, fairy-tales, and heart-warming movies!

Who are your favorite artists?
I like anything and everything! I love folk art, traditional artworks, cartoon style, and fantasy art. Most of the artists that I admire actually went to school for it and hold a degree, and you can see it in their finished works. Meredith Dillman, Sheila Wolk, and Dominic Philibert are a few that pop into my head in that group. I also absolutely adore Jessica Galbreth’s new line of Vintage Angels, and Jasmine Becket-Griffith has been an inspiration to me in that she has a large focus on the face, like I do, which is actually quite rare. I thought I was weird for only wanting to do faces! Hehe. Outside of that genre, I have always adored Wyland for the intense colors that I seem to gravitate towards. I am not much of an art buff, surprisingly, so I won’t pretend that I know too much about it; I’m just like anyone else…I like what I like!

One thing that drew me to your work was the diverse range of hair colors the girls in your pieces sport. Have you ever dyed your hair a crazy color?
Haha, no! My hair was blonde when I was younger. I went darker for a good decade, then blonde again. One thing that I definitely took away from my stepfather, the artist, was that there are no rules in art. Grass doesn’t have to be green, the sky doesn’t have to be blue, and hair doesn’t have to be blonde or brown!

What do you like about where you live?
Growing up in Sacramento, California, Idaho is a very serious contrast! There are plenty of things that I miss about my home state, but I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I really like nature and outdoors and that is really big here, and the cost of living allows me to afford a much nicer lifestyle (allowing me to stay home with my children and operate on one income while I build my business). The people are wonderful; the sense of community is strong and people are polite, kind, respectful, and open. Things are still simple here, there is very little traffic, laws are mainly suggestions, and lines are almost non-existent….even at the DMV! It is small town with all the big-city amenities. It is a great environment for my family and I love it outside of the very long winters!

What do you like to do when you are not working?
Um, I work a lot! But I am also a mom, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, sister, etc…so I like to spend time with my family doing things like shopping, riding the 4-wheelers up in the mountains, camping, watching movies, gardening, going for walks, going to my girls’ soccer games, and taking them to the park and zoo. I spend most of my “spare” personal time watching a little bit of TV with my husband, talking with friends, or reading, but mostly I use my spare personal time to work because I love my job! I also used to sing on the music team at church, which I loved, but I ended up having to give that up for time reasons. Now I just sing in my studio while I work!

I am amazed by how often you release new pieces, considering all of the projects you are involved in as well as responsibilities outside of work. Any tips you would offer someone struggling with balance and time management?
Balance is something that every person, self-employed or not, strives for. I have noticed it comes more abundantly with age; things just seem easier to manage as you get better at focusing on balance. Being well organized can manifest time that disorganized people just don’t have. Wasting time digging through paperwork or trying to find children’s shoes, for example, are things that eat up valuable time! Dedicate as long as it takes… a weekend, or a good, solid week, to get everything organized, and find a place for everything. Then it is much easier to keep it that way. Plus, I think people discount the “mind” de-clutter that takes place when everything in your surroundings has a place. When you are organized, well-rested, and healthy, there is a very natural flow and sense of clarity, which fosters efficiency.

I eat well, take breaks, and sleep as much as my body needs. I sometimes exercise, and even though I work from home, I do my hair and make-up every day before I go down to work in my studio. I take really good care of myself, because if I don’t feel good about myself, I am of no use to my family or my business. I take time off when I feel I really need it, and push myself when I feel like I am capable of accomplishing a little more. There are times when I have deadlines that I really have to push hard, but I have always been a hard worker and hard work doesn’t scare me. I don’t paint nearly as often as I should, but in the fall I plan to hire an assistant, which will grant me more time to paint. I can’t claim to have the perfect Zen balance, but for the most part I feel like I keep things under control!

What do you enjoy most about being an independent artist/self-employed?
The freedom to choose what I do with my time and the ability to take good care of myself. If I don’t feel like working because the weather is nice outside, I can call up a friend and go out to lunch or switch something in my schedule and take the girls to the zoo. That also means making up for it later, sometimes working until 10 at night and later, but that doesn’t bother me at all!

What challenges do you face or things do you dislike about self employment? 
The uncertainty, the never-ending list of things that I could be doing to get ahead, and the up and down sales. It’s a constant game of sacrifice and balance; there’s no way of knowing for sure what lies ahead, but you still have to make decisions and take action based on experience and educated projections. It takes years to really build something that offers some sort of predictability.

What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
If you don’t love it, you will quit, period. You have to be really invested emotionally and earn an intrinsic sort of paycheck in order to keep going when you want to quit, which will be at least once, if not twice, each day, because the challenges are monumental. There is nothing more challenging or frustrating in this world than working harder than you have ever worked before, giving all of yourself to a big dream, and draining your account instead of getting a paycheck, while watching other people (appear to) live comfortably, take vacations, and buy new clothes. Working for someone else and having a steady, reliable paycheck sounds like a more efficient and effective use of time and energy when it comes to earning money, because it is. Making a paycheck at all can be a majorly elusive after replenishing supplies and paying fees. But, if you can make it through the period of sacrifice, you can be financially successful and live your dream. You just always have to have the end in mind, and have a good support system. You can quit all you want, just as long as you start back up the next day! Treat your business like a business, and do your best to set a schedule if you find you are working too much or too little.

Are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
Yes – my Trading Card Project! I have been building my portfolio for about 4 years now, and the mini ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions & Originals) have always been a popular seller for me in both the original form and in prints. I am now getting ready to release 50 of my most popular artworks in professional trading card form, double-sided, with UV coating, complete with a short-story caption, character stats, and original artwork stats, all created and written by me!

(Note from Kelsea: I pre-ordered my trading cards and just got them in the mail yesterday. They are so gorgeous! I love reading their little stories. They will be available to order again after Comic-Con.)

Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
The next show that I have coming up is Comic-Con International in San Diego, July 12-15, which is just a few weeks away! All the tickets have been sold for the event, so if anyone already has tickets, please come see me at table A-10 in the Exhibitor Area! I will also be at the Sidewalk Art Festival in Idaho Falls on July 28-29, and the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho, on September 1-8.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Hannah!

You can find Hannah and her work in these places:

I have ordered a lot of pieces from Hannah! They always arrive lightning fast, well packaged, and even more gorgeous in person. She posts fun deals, giveaways, and "in-progress" artwork photos frequently, so be sure to “like” her facebook page if you are interested in her work!

As a little side note, the Pink Wonderland launch photoshoot idea was generated and evolved through discussion between me and my friend Zoe. However, after the shoot, I realized how the theme was actually quite similar to my favorite Hannah Lynn piece, Birthday Girl, which I have had up in my craft studio for nearly a year now. So either that theme just really speaks to me personally, or glancing at it while in my studio somehow influenced my subconscious decision to select that photoshoot theme. Intentional or not, I find the similarities pretty cool!
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