Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

Blogger Interview: Stacey Lane

I’m back with another interview, this time with a fellow Austin local who I actually got to meet with in person! Meet Stacey Lane, a card maker, blogger and YouTuber with dreams of taking her business full-time.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, what did you do in school, how did you get into card making?

I grew up in Northern Vermont, but I’ve lived all over the United States. We just moved to Austin from the Seattle area and are loving all the sunshine so far!

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do in college. I landed on graphic and web design, since I’d had an interest in that when I was younger. Some time after I graduated with a 2 year degree, I took a job with Microsoft and worked on the X-Box One console for a year. It was pretty rad.

I got into card making right around the time my contract with Microsoft was coming to a close. At the time, Microsoft required their contractors to take a 100 day unpaid leave of absence. I needed something to do to occupy my time, so I decided one day that I just wanted to make my own Christmas cards. The rest was history.

Tell me about Stampin’ Up and how you got involved as a demonstrator.

Stampin’ Up is brilliant. Before I found Stampin’ Up, my shopping trips would be tedious because I’d always try to find paper that matched a ribbon I liked. And then I wanted some sort of accessory to match that. And, of course, it had to match my ink. Colors are very hard to match! One of my favorite things about Stampin’ Up is that everything matches. It’s taken the stress out of designing, which is wonderful.

I knew that I needed a way to get a break on the costs because craft supplies add up quickly. Enter the demonstrator opportunity. Demonstrators never pay full price for their crafting supplies! I really found success when I started to blog my creations. Before I knew it, I wasn’t spending any money on my craft supplies anymore!

My hobby now pays for itself entirely, which is amazing, and even earns me some extra cash on the side. When the time is right, I plan to take my business full time.

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When and why did you decide to start your own blog and YouTube channel?

I started my blog a couple of months after I joined Stampin’ Up. I decided I needed my blog for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, I wanted to grow my email list. As a business owner, your email list is the most important asset you have.

The second reason I started my blog was to document all the cool stuff I was making. I wanted a place I could come back to for inspiration and say “yeah, I remember when I made that card! What a great layout! Maybe I should recreate that card with some new products.”

My YouTube channel was birthed from my love of video production. In high school, I took multiple video classes and always wanted to do something with it. My love for crafting gave me something that I could teach, and now that’s part of how I use my YouTube channel.

In a nutshell, why should someone read your blog or watch your YouTube videos?

I make videos and blog to encourage and educate others about how easy it can be to get into card making and scrapbooking. So many times people are intimidated because they believe you need to be really artistic to make something beautiful. But it’s not true! What makes something beautiful is the thought that was put into it. When I make things, I make them from the heart and I teach you to make them from the heart. And that’s what my blog and YouTube channel is all about.

I also offer classes in the Hutto/Pflugerville area for those of you who want to get your hands inky!

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far?

Great questions! A couple of things come to mind. First, I’m proud to have been chosen as a display stamper for Stampin’ Up’s semi-annual demonstrator-only event called OnStage. It’s a high honor and one that not many people get to do and I’m so blessed to have been chosen twice in the last year.

Another thing I’ve accomplished this year is that I held a seminar on how to blog. I turned my love of WordPress into an opportunity to teach non-technical people how to begin blogging as well as how to develop a content and marketing plan. It was a humbling experience but also taught me a lot about who I am. I’m currently developing a curriculum for my website to help teach people how easy it is to begin blogging!

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What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I have recently applied to the Artisan Design Team, which is similar to a display stamper, except it’s a heavier commitment. Artisan Design Team members are sent a free box of products every month and agree to blog about those products. It’s a 12 month commitment and I’ve wanted to apply for years and never had the courage to do it until this year!

Another goal that I want to accomplish is to earn an Incentive Trip, which is an all expenses paid vacation. I have friends across the US that have earned this trip multiple times and I’m so very close to being able to earn it for myself.

But my ultimate goal would be to leave my day job and work my business full time.

Growing up, were you always artistic? What were some of your hobbies in high school and college?

I think, in a way, I was. I remember doing all sorts of crafts as a youngster. I did cross stitch, latch hook rugs, glass etching. I remember one year my mother and I made decorative oil infused bottles for everyone we knew.

My biggest hobby in high school was web design. I created websites for my favorite bands. I created a website that had all my friends names on it (of course, that one never made it live because I knew better than to put personal info on the Internet).

In college, I discovered scrapbooking. That’s where my love of paper crafting began. But, being a college student, I didn’t have the funds to really sustain my hobby for long. Fun fact: I remember thinking that rubber stamps were awesome, but some of them were like $20 each! I thought to myself “well there’s one hobby I’ll never get into.” Never say never….

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What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

There are so many! For starters, my husband. This man has sacrificed his career to raise our children and I’m so grateful that he has taken the time to do that. We are first time home owners and I’m also grateful for that. Owning your own home is an experience everyone should go through. It’s so liberating!

I’m also grateful for Stampin’ Up. I have met so many wonderful people through Stampin’ Up, and forged many friendships with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them!

Before I started this crazy adventure, I really struggled with self doubt. My upline, Jennifer, kept telling me that I had a talent and could turn my love of paper crafting into a business. For months, I totally didn’t believe her. And then, all of a sudden, I realized that she was right! She believed in me before I believed in myself. I’ve learned so much from her.

Where and who do you draw inspiration from?

My favorite sources of inspiration are the ones that make me feel like I can take on the world. A few months ago, I subscribed to The Middle Finger Project, and the emails that Ash sends are incredibly amazing. They really make you think about who you are and who you can become by shifting the way you think of yourself.

I also draw my inspiration from YouTube and Pinterest, just like a lot of crafty people! Sometimes I’ll just put YouTube on and leave it for hours. It’ll inevitably end up on something like clay modeling, which is really neat, and I’ll be glued to my screen soaking up all sorts of information about a craft that I don’t really know how to do.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Start with WordPress, but not the free version. Purchase hosting and set up your blog on your own. My top recommendation for WordPress hosting is WP Engine, located right here in Austin. You really get what you pay for. And, for the sake of transparency, I do work for WP Engine…

My second piece of advice is to immediately start building your email list. Create an email editorial calendar and send emails at least weekly to your customer base. You may think they don’t want to hear from you that frequently, but here’s the thing: they sign up for your emails for a reason!

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I can remember things really easily, especially numbers. For example, I remember both my current and very first credit card number from over 15 years ago. All 16 digits, the security code and expiration dates… and I can rattle them off in a moments notice.

But it’s not only numbers! I can recite all 50 states in alphabetic order, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. And, speaking of alphabet, I can say the alphabet backwards in 4 seconds. Because why the heck not?

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I hope you enjoyed this interview with Stacey! Be sure to check out her blog and YouTube channel, and if you are a fellow Texan, sign up for a class or two. You never know, you could become the next Stampin’ Up demonstrator! You can also find Stacey on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Austin Adventures: Weird Homes Tour

Austin Adventures: Weird Homes Tour

This weekend I did my part to help Keep Austin Weird by participating in the Weird Homes Tour. The tour is a self-paced, self-driving tour where you drive to different areas of Austin and walk through unique homes. The houses were all “weird” in different ways, some incorporating artistic elements, others showcasing more interesting architecture.

I got a lot of photos during my tour, and thought it would be fun to share them with you all, along with my thoughts on each of the homes. I’ve put them in order of least favorite to favorite, but overall enjoyed walking through each and every house!

Riggins’ Cabinet of Curiosities

The first house we visited was actually used as the home of a main character on a famous TV show. Let me know if you can guess which one in the comments! Hint: the name of the house gives it away if you’ve seen the show. (If you are absolutely stuck, click here for the answer.)

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The reason this house was my least favorite was because it seemed a bit cluttered and didn’t have a clear theme, or as many artistic elements as the others. On the other hand, there was a lot to look at and people who know a lot about history might have liked it more than I did. The owner of the house mentioned she had many knick knacks from past decades, and a history buff could have spent more time looking around and finding interesting things in that house.

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The Torres Temple

This next home was really clean and simple, unlike the previous one. The reason it comes in second to last place is because I didn’t feel it had enough “weird.” While the Cabinet of Curiosities was basically overflowing with weird, the Torres Temple left me wondering what was so weird about it.

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The unique element that it did have was the different color themes in each room, which were meant to represent “Feng Shui elements and chakra colors to envelop and energetically transform the observer who is entering into this world.” I liked the idea of this, but didn’t really notice much of an energy to each room. Maybe it was just over my head, and a more astute observer or open-minded individual would have loved it.

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Indra’s Awarehouse

This house immediately peaked my interest more than the previous two, and not just because of the on point pun in the name (it was an old warehouse, now used as a hostel for the creatively-minded). Artists, dancers, musicians (including Kendrick Lamar according to a man we talked to who lived there) all gather here to perform together and spread good vibes.

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I really liked all of the artistic touches, from the chalk paintings out front to the paintings on the wall of the bedroom, and the various art pieces hanging around the warehouse.  The only reason this was not higher on my list was because it felt more like an art gallery or some kind of studio as opposed to a “real house”, and I was more wowed by a couple of the traditional homes that still managed to be “weird.”

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Florence’s Comfort House

Coming in second place, this home really did have an element of comfort, with plenty of hippie vibes. I would say this house was the most iconically Austin, from the bejeweled guitars to the messages about peace. It also was the only house where the backyard was the main attraction instead of the inside of the house, which made it stand out from the rest.

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This was also the only home that seemed to be geared both towards adults and children, with much of the backyard comprised of things you might find on a playground. As it turns out, Florence uses her home to help children in the community “make the best of their lives both during their youth and beyond.”

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Under The Sea House

And finally, my choice for first place goes to Under The Sea! I had high hopes for this one just by looking at the name (I’m a Pisces after all), and it did not disappoint. I thought this one did the best job of being weird, while still having cohesiveness and artistic elements without being too cluttered. My favorite part was the garden in the backyard, which had this awesome fence painted with sea creatures (including mermaids).

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The inside of the house was just as whimsical. I loved all of the details in the dining area, from the colorful teacups to the tiled wall and the peacock-patterned lamp. The kitchen counter was also really cool, with lots of beads and photo cutouts under the surface.

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The final detail I wanted to mention was the bathroom, which had an awesome color-changing sink, which lit up and changed colors from green to pink.

Read more about Under The Sea.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of some of Austin’s weirdest homes. Based on these photos and my descriptions, which one do you think your favorite would be? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to check out the Weird Homes Tour on Twitter and Facebook, and look through the hashtag #WeirdHomes on Twitter and Instagram to see more awesome photos from the events in Austin, Houston and New Orleans.

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

Table Talk Tuesday With Imelda Green

I can’t believe this is already my fourth Table Talk Tuesday interview. I’ve been having so much fun getting to know other bloggers through this blog series! Hopefully you all are enjoying reading these conversations so far.

For today’s interview, I’m very excited to introduce Imelda. I was immediately enchanted by her blog, which features her creative handmade products, as well as step-by-step guides to creating your own masterpieces. She is definitely an inspiration to me, and I’m sure many others, when it comes to following your passions.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into the interview so you can see what I mean:

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Can you tell me the story of how you decided to start your blog, and what your blogging journey has been like so far?

I was nearing the end of my engineering studies when it finally dawned on me that this was not my path in life and that if I wanted to pursue a creative career. Without disrespect for theoretical knowledge, I think that art and design is a profession that you master mainly by doing instead of pouring over books. So I decided that starting a blog about my creative journey would motivate me to do regular work. And so it has, for over a year.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog?

Know your passion. Blogging takes a lot of time and hard work but that all feels like a game when you write about something you are really fascinated with. If you blog about a topic you only choose for market (or whatever other) reasons, you will lose interest in the end.

You mention on the About section of your blog that blogging helped you not fall into the trap of laziness, because it pushed you to keep creating things. What are some other ways you stay productive and motivated?

The beauty of the creative field is that there are many different aspects of the work I do, so I don’t have to be productive in the same field all the time. Fed up with writing blog posts? No problem, time to illustrate! Been painting for days on end? It’s okay, I can spend my energy on building a community around my blog. But I also allow myself to be unproductive at times, those are the moments when I re-charge my batteries, which is crucial when you are a creative. 

You also talked how you realized during your time at university that you didn’t want to spend all of your life doing architecture/engineering, when your true passions were in design and beauty. What made you finally decide to pursue your passions? 

I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it. For the moment I am doing engineering as well as designing, which is demanding but I find I’m really lucky because I have a comfortable job, which I am choosing to do as well as a designing career, which comes naturally, and which I will eventually do full-time. So I guess I never made a very conscious decision to pursue my passion, I just acted on the natural impulse. 

“I think that creativity is something that bursts out of you; it finds its way to the surface, unless you repress it.”

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

That is definitely a hard one, as I have a very long gratitude list and I don’t normally rank them, but here it goes: I am incredibly grateful to my grandmother for introducing art to me from a very early age, to my blogger friends who keep encouraging me even when blogging seems pointless and to Mr Mozart for his genius music, which cheers me up in every situation.

What is one of your favorite inspirational quotes?

There is a quote above my desk that I learned from Thomas Frank’s youtube channel: “’I don’t feel like it’ is a matter of choice”. It is very tempting – especially in the creative field – to only do work when you ‘feel inspired’. But inspiration is something you can actually control and the difference between amateur and professional artists is that professionals don’t wait for the perfect moment, they do it anyway. It might not be perfect, but a first draft is always better than an empty piece of paper.

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Uh, that’s another difficult one, I have so many. I’m really thankful for all the things I learned about running an online business from Melyssa Griffin, she is amazing, and I always find artistic motivation when I watch the youtube channel of Holly Exley.   

What is the best advice you have ever received from someone?

Better done than perfect. I have seen/heard this advice so many times and I honestly think that perfectionism sabotages our actions just too many times. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better with time. And better and better…

What is your greatest achievement so far in life, and what is one thing you still hope to accomplish?

I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field. I am hoping to continue this journey until I can run my business full time.    

“I’m really proud of getting over the world constantly telling me I am not good enough and following my own path in the artistic field.”

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, which would you choose?

Well, I would definitely be grateful for the ability to teleport. Travelling can sometimes be stressful in a big city, especially when it’s cold and dark outside (hello February :). I also have some good friends abroad whom I’d love to see more often at slightly less expense.

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I just loved everything Imelda had t0 say about creativity and how she got to where she is today. My favorite part about these interviews is hearing everyone’s stories. Please be sure to check out Imelda’s blog and follow her on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imeldagreens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imeldagreens/

Pinterest: https://hu.pinterest.com/imeldagreens/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/imeldagreens

Tumblr: http://imeldagreens.tumblr.com

Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

 

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Hi everyone! I’ve been wanting to write a blog about long distance relationships for months now, and this finally felt like the right time to talk about it. After about nine months of long distance, my boyfriend Brian and I are finally going to be living in the same city again in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more excited!

A little background on our relationship for those that are curious: Brian and I went to the same college and were friends for years before we became boyfriend/girlfriend in December, 2014. We had an awesome five months together, and then I graduated in May and decided to move back home. Brian still had another semester of college, so this put us in a long distance relationship for about nine months. Which brings us to today. Brian just got a job in Austin and will be moving here in a few weeks!

Long distance has been very difficult at times, but although I couldn’t be happier that it is ending, I do feel like I learned a lot from the experience. I also think that it made our relationship stronger in a way, because it forced us to learn to have good communication and to never take time together for granted. Because of this, I thought I would share some advice about long distance relationships (LDRs) that will hopefully be interesting or helpful to some of you.

Commitment

Before even considering an LDR, you and your partner need to really think about whether or not it is worth it. The level of commitment the two of you have for one another is one of the most important indicators as to whether an LDR will work out. You need to make sure you care about this person enough to want to end up in the same place eventually. Brian and I avoided the topic of whether or not we would stay together after I graduated for as long as we could, until we finally went ahead and discussed it. We both agreed that an LDR would only be worth it if we were both equally committed to ending up in the same city as soon as possible. We determined that we were, and from there all we had to do was plan to make the long distance as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Communication 

Communication really is the key to a happy relationship, and it becomes even more important in LDRs. Because you can’t see each other frequently in person, being able to still feel connected emotionally can be difficult, and becomes even more difficult if the lines of communication are not strong. For my boyfriend and I, different avenues of communication really helped. Although we texted throughout the day like most couples, we also sprinkled in extra modes of communication such as emails, phone calls, Skype calls (almost every night), Facebook messages and even the occasional letter in the mail. This variety adds excitement and creativity to the relationship. Which brings me to my next piece of advice…

Creativity

Although LDRs are very difficult and may seem impossible at times, there are certain perks. They allow you to utilize different communication styles such as the ones I mentioned above. They also allow you and your partner to use your creativity a bit. Brian came up with lots of fun ideas for how to make our time apart more bearable. On Skype calls we often play a game of Hangman, and make up words and phrases that have to do with our relationship. He also created a crossword puzzle for me, and all of the words had to do with the two of us. Another fun idea he had was to create a Spotify playlist which included all of the songs that have had an impact on his life, from his childhood to present. I loved all of these ideas, and I really think that they allowed us to stay connected in a unique way. When I was missing him I could turn on the playlist, or take a look at the crossword puzzle he made, and it was sure to put a smile on my face!

Compassion

Lastly, I want to talk about the importance of compassion. Understanding your significant other’s needs and feelings is very important. If they seem extra stressed or irritable one day, it is likely not your fault and may very well be stemming from the fact that they miss you and wish that you could be together in person. Listen intently when your partner talks to you, and make sure you are giving them everything they need emotionally to be able to continue with the relationship. They may need you to communicate better, or open up more about your feelings for them, or even try your hand at being creative. If there is not a good foundation of compassion in the relationship, I don’t think it will stand a chance.

 

Well, there you go! Those are my top four categories that I think are important to remember in long distance relationships. I’d love to hear your opinions, advice or personal stories about long distance relationships or just relationships in general, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Book Review: Yes Please

Book Review: Yes Please

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“I think we should stop asking people in their 20s what they ‘want to do’ and start asking them what they don’t want to do. Instead of asking students to ‘declare their major’ we should ask students to ‘list what they will do anything to avoid.’ It just makes a lot more sense.”

Hey everyone! Today’s blog post is a book review of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. If I wasn’t already, I can now say in full confidence that I am a huge fan of Amy. And by huge fan I mean I want to become her best friend and am plotting a way to make that happen ASAP. (Please leave suggestions for how to make this happen in the comments). In order to avoid writing an entire book of my own, I have chosen three specific parts or passages to tell you all about. Hope you enjoy!

Amy begins the book by explaining how difficult it is to write a book. The first sentence of the book is: “I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect.” I loved this quote because I thought it captured the essence of what a lot of celebrities seem to lack: authenticity. Many celebrity authors make it look easy, as if they just sat down one day and hammered out the entire book while sipping on a cocktail and staring at the sunset rising over a beach. But not Amy. She flat out tells us it was hard, she wanted to give up many times, and she frequently hit road blocks. I think this first chapter really sets the scene for the book and tells the reader that what they are about to read contains 0% B.S.

One of my favorite parts is when Amy explains the difference between career and creativity, using the metaphors of a bad boyfriend and a good boyfriend, respectively. She says that you should practice the art of ambivalence when it comes to your career, and let go of wanting it so bad. “Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you’re around.” In contrast, she says that creativity is: “…connected to your passions, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love.” I really liked this analogy because, as you may have seen in my last blog post, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to find the “perfect job.” And thanks to Amy, I have come to realize that your career is not the most important thing in life, and it will never make you truly happy the way creativity will.

The final part that I want to talk about is towards the end of the book, when Amy describes her theory about time travel. And no, it has nothing to do with Back to the Future. She believes that you can travel in time with people, places and things. You can achieve this by living in the moment and paying attention to the little things in life. She goes on to tell three stories, each one corresponding to one of the three types of time travel. She writes about a piano that was at her grandparent’s house growing up, and how it now sits in her home and is played by her two boys, reminding her of her grandparents and allowing her to travel back to the times that she played it in her grandparent’s house as a child. I loved this concept and I think that it is something we should all take the time to think about. Slow down and appreciate each moment of each day, because you never know what could end up being a precious memory when you’re older.

I know that wasn’t exactly a clear recounting of what the book was about or what to expect from it, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my favorite parts. And who knows, maybe I sparked your interest enough to get you to go out and buy the book! I promise you won’t be disappointed.