Tuesday, February 26, 2013

REVIEW: Songza

Have you heard of Songza? I recently discovered this website (they also have an iPhone app) and it's pretty amazing. Basically it knows what day/time it is and recommends playlists for you based on what you might be doing. Monday night? Maybe you need an instrumental playlist with no lyrics to help you study? Friday night? Maybe you need an update dance playlist? You can also search by "popular playlists", artist name, etc. I mainly use it for when I'm studying, for background lyric-less music, but you can also find many Pandora-like playlists on here as well. Anyway, I've been meaning to give a shout-out to this app for awhile, so hope you find it useful!

First I picked "Working (No Lyrics)".

Next I picked "Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals".

Then I started playing the playlist! If the one you first try isn't your cup of tea, they also list similar playlists to choose from, or you can choose any playlist that you may have saved another time you were listening!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What I've Watched #6

I was just realizing the other day that it's been awhile since I've reviewed any tv shows/ movies! I do watch things pretty often, if only to relax after a long day's work in the graphics lab. Time to actually review said movies... well, that's a little harder to come by!

Premium Rush

Speaking of New York City, Premium Rush definitely makes you feel like you are right in the middle of Manhattan. It follows a day in the life of a New York bike messenger (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who's been given a package to deliver that a mysterious stranger would do anything to get back from him. It's definitely an edge-of-your-seat kind of movie and has absolutely beautiful street views of the city. I loved the storyline and the characters and would definitely watch this one again. The one word of warning I would give is the high level of swearing in this movie.

I give it 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Reality of Love movie

Reality of Love

Reality of Love was an very interesting movie that I'm surprised I hadn't heard of before. It is apparently an ABC Family production, so you know it's got to be very clean (and it was). It follows the life cycle of a reality show (which looks very similar to The Bachelor) where 15 girls are in the running to marry a famous actor (played by Jason Priestly). He's interested in one of the girls in particular (played by Emma Caulfield), but falling in love proves more difficult than just picking a girl in a reality show contest! This movie also stars Bradley Cooper as the actor's best friend and manager. Overall I loved the storyline and characters and would definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a sweet, romantic movie.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

Believe it or not, I have never watched The Vampire Diaries before this month. I mean, I've definitely heard of this show, but for some reason I missed starting it when it first aired and just have never had time to try to get caught up. I recently noticed it was on Netflix streaming, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about!

Basically, it has a Dawson's Creek meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer feeling to it. Which... is right up my alley! I'm about halfway through the first season now (watching is slower than I'd like to be watching it, but I'm in school most of my life these days!), and I am definitely curious to see what happens next. I recommend this for anyone looking for an intelligent, mysterious storyline in a high school setting. It's very clean with only marginal violence (an occasional vampire gets stabbed with a wooden stake now and then) and has a very interesting story arch that makes you want to keep watching episode after episode! (In fact, if you know you only have a limited time to watch, I'd recommend turning it off before an episode ends, as nearly all the episodes end on a cliffhanger!)

I give it 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

REVIEW: iPhone Sleep Apps

I tried an experiment last night with an iPhone app called Sleep 101. It's supposed to be able to tell you how well you're sleeping based on the movement you make during the night. It also has an alarm clock that can wake you up w/in twenty minutes of your alarm by figuring out when you're in the lightest sleep and waking you then.

I'm not entirely sure how well it worked, since it reported that I had 99% efficiency in sleeping last night and I happen to know that I woke up at least 3 times and actually got out of bed once. Not sure how efficient that is. Lol. Still, I thought it was an interesting concept for an app. You put it on the corner of your bed and it uses the gyroscope in the phone to sense movement in the mattress so it can tell how restless you are. It figures if you haven't moved in 5 minutes that you're probably asleep.

Tonight I'm going to try the Sleep Cycle app. It promises to be a little more accurate in the monitoring, and also has a graph for when you're (supposedly) in deep sleep, REM sleep, etc. I've always been curious to know my sleep cycle, so this well be pretty interesting if it's at all accurate. It works much the same way as the Sleep 101 app (placing it on your mattress while you sleep), but I like the aspect that it also records your sleep stages.

Another cool thing about this second app is that it has a "sleep aid" feature where it plays nature sounds until it knows you're asleep. That's an interesting aspect to this, as I've tried mp3's of nature sounds before, but then it's like... do I leave it playing all night or just try to remember to turn it off before I've completely fallen asleep? Or if you use the iPod snooze feature (which turns off the iPod after a certain amount of time), it always seems to turn off before I'm actually asleep. I'll be curious to see if having a "smart" sleep sound will be more relaxing since I won't have it in the back of my mind that I need to stay awake long enough to turn it off. Lol.

So anyway, I'll definitely report back to let you know what I think after using this one! Have you ever used either of these apps (or a similar one)? What did you think? Did it help you sleep?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reasons Why I (Think I Would) Love New York City

Okay just to clarify... I've never actually been to New York, but... based on extensive research (via YouTube, Google Maps street view, and all of the many, many movies and shows that have been filmed there), I just feel like New York and I would agree with each other.

1. New York seems like a rather personable, friendly town.

And by that I mean, strangers walking down the street would actually stop to help you if you needed it. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the vibe I get.

2. New York seems to have a very creative, anything-is-possible spirit.

I don't know if this is because of the pulse and noise of the city or just because creative people tend to move there, but it seems like there'd be a mindset there of creativity and trying new things.

3. New York seems very grounded / here and now / tangible / touchable.

Not sure the word I'm looking for there. Basically I mean that it isn't one of those places that you only ever see from the safety of your car (I'm looking at you, Los Angeles!). It's the type of place that you actually physically see, smell, and touch. You walk the pavement, you get yourself from point A to point B by your own blood, sweat, and tears. There's a tactile presence to places like this that make you feel like you're a part of the city yourself.

4. New York has rhythms and traditions.

Okay technically every town has these, but due to the tactile nature of how people live there, it feels like a place where people know about (and actually attend) the summer movie night in the park, for example, or notice when the Christmas lights go up around town, etc. Those are things that are easy to miss when you're living in the typical suburban bubble (where your day consists of moving from house to car to work to car to house again).

5. New York seems more "green" than most places I've lived.

Which I realize is a strange thing to say about a "concrete jungle", but what I mean is that because you walk everywhere... there's no gas to buy, no exhaust fumes to contribute to the world. You're typically living in a very compact apartment, so less waste that way. Groceries, laundry, churches, basically anything you need to do in a normal week... they're all within walking distance. That is definitely not something I can say about my current town.

6. New York is a place where you already are where you need to be.

Meaning that you don't have a 4-hour roundtrip to get to the airport, a music concert, or a street vendor. You just are there already. There's no commute time to get to the city because you're already there. Which yes, I realize is true of most cities, but still... it's cool. I don't like the feeling of having to take half my day just to get to something (considering that where I live now is 2 hours away from the nearest metropolis). When I lived in Portland, that was one of the things I think I loved most. You were just there, ready to participate in whatever needed participating in. Ready to experience the big and little things of the city. That's a phenomenon that's hard to experience unless you live somewhere.


Anyway, all this to say that even though I've never been there, I feel a kindred spirit with New York. I could totally be wrong about what it's like to live there, but hopefully it's just as wonderful as it portrays itself to be! Those of you who do live there... am I even close to describing it's true vibe? I know every city has it's own personality, and it's hard to describe a personality for a place I've never been, but... this is one of the most well-documented cities in the world, so I feel like I have a pretty good idea. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Pastel Exercise

Last week we were given a phrase (randomly drawn out of a hat) and were asked to illustrate it in pastels. We were not allowed to use any words in our drawing, and the goal was that 90% of the people who looked at it would be able to get the impression of the meaning of the phrase (if not the exact phrase).

So... here's my pastel composition. I may have to tweak it some more today when we turn it in (our teacher is notorious for saying, "That's great... now just change this and this and this and this..."). Lol.

So the bigger question is... was I successful? Can you tell what this is supposed to be saying?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You know you want to sponsor me!

Just thought I'd share that I have sponsor spots available again! I did the swapping thing for awhile, but that gets very complicated very quickly, so decided to go back to straight up sponsoring. I love posting things for you, but time is money, so I wanted to give you an opportunity to support me in my creative endeavors!

If you're a creative blog or small business, I'd love to help spread the word about you! All sponsor ads are $10 a month and rotate for maximum exposure. I don't like to spam my readers with a million giveaways and "Meet the Sponsor" posts, but if you'd like to write a guest post, that could probably be arranged. ;)

My audience tends to be...
Female, 20s & 30s, typically creative students, entrepreneurs, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends.

I tend to blog...
Several times a week. Now that I'm in school again, it tends to be less than before, but I do have loyal readers who would love to click on your blog ad!

I like to write about...
Whatever strikes my fancy that day... which usually ends up being something about photography, knitting, blogging, small business tips, or playing The Sims 3. Lol. Nice and eclectic, don't you think?

What you need to do...
If any of this resonates with you, you'll probably make a great sponsor! I can't wait to meet you! Check out my advertising options page to start sponsoring Living the Creative Life!

Monday, February 18, 2013

More Blogging Tips

I recently went on a blog subscribing spree and I discovered something new that REALLY ANNOYS ME on a blog: centering all the text in every post. Just... no... don't do it. Please.

Maybe I wouldn't have noticed it before studying graphic design, but now I know that centering your entire article is a HUGE NO-NO mainly because it taxes your eyes/brain to constantly start a new line in a different place. Your eyes are less stressed if they always know where the new line of text is supposed to begin. Trust me on this.

Centering has it's place... mainly on very formal publications with very little writing on them (say... on a wedding invitation). But on a blog article... this is where you want to left-align everything. Not justified, not right-aligned, not centered... left-aligned. (Justified doesn't really get used much as it causes weird spacing between words, and right-aligned is best used in small chunks for a specific purpose since it also has the problem of not starting lines in the same place).


Another tip I wanted to share has more to do with the pressure some bloggers feel to be the perfect blogger. Please don't worry about this! You're more interesting as you, not as "the perfect blogger". Don't worry if you can't post every day or if you can't seem to "find your niche". I figure my niche is ME so I'll blog about whatever I want to blog about it. Lol.

I am constantly seeing bloggers post about feeling burned out or like they aren't doing it right. I think if blogging is causing that much stress, it's time to re-think how you're doing things! It's much more important that you enjoy your blog than that you grow it quickly. Growth is nice, yes, but if you end up hating your blog or feeling obligated to post... you might as well just go to work. Blogging is supposed to be fun, people!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sometimes it's good to scare yourself.

found via: Running on Happiness Blog

There's definitely some truth to this saying. I mean... if you knew you could accomplish your dreams, they wouldn't really be that scary. But if your dreams are big and huge and you have to move out of your comfort zone to accomplish them... that's scary. And let's face it, if your dreams scare you, that probably means they're worth pursuing! (Although if your gut's telling you you shouldn't pursue something... that's probably not fear... that's just wisdom. Listen to your gut.)

But seriously... if your "dreams" are not scaring you... dream bigger. I dream of being a graphic designer living in New York City. That's scary! I have no idea if I can actually do that. But... it's something I want to shoot for, and I'll never know if I could do it if I don't even try, right? I could aim for something easier like... being a designer while living in Portland. I know I can do that. I've lived there before. I know tons of people there. Yes, I'd be happy there, but it wouldn't really be a stretch to accomplish. That's what I'm talking about with a dream that doesn't scare you. Dare to dream bigger than what would be easier to do! You just might be amazed with what you end up accomplishing!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Graphite Leaves

In going through my iPhone to find photos of past projects that I'd forgotten to tell you about, I found a photo of a graphite (pencil) rendering I did of leaves last term. I'm pretty sure I forgot to tell you about this, so wanted to share it now!

This particular assignment was stuffed into finals week last term so was done VERY QUICKLY (like in about 4 hours). Normally I would allow at least 20 or 30 hours for something this detailed, but due to being assigned very close to our due date (giving only about a week's notice) and also having a million other projects due also in that same week, this ended up being a one afternoon project. Despite doing it so quickly though, I was amazed how just remembering to leave highlights and add shadows really made it feel real much more than I would've thought it would've. That's definitely one thing I'm learning in this illustration class... don't forget the highlights and shadows! Those are what give the subject definition and depth!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Bazaar

I unfortunately did not actually sell anything at the bazaar this past weekend. :( It was still a fun experience though, and I might do it again someday. I think if I do do it again, I might try to find a more "cute" product that give people an emotional reaction that they just have to buy! Or I just might stick with Etsy...

Anyway, here's my table. ;)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pastel Ribbons

We've been working on pastels this past week in my Illustration class. It's super messy and super fun! I feel like I'm a child playing in finger paints. Lol. It basically is like chalk, and you layer on the colors and then blend it with my fingers.

We did several practice pieces, and then did this one based on the same ribbon I did in our technical pen project and our graphite pencil project. It's actually kind of like revisiting an old friend because I know this ribbon so well now! I understand where the shadows are, where the highlights are, which sections are trickier to render so they come across well. I never would've thought drawing/painting the same ribbon over and over and over would be interesting, but it actually is!

And I just realized I never showed you my final stippled ribbon. I'm not even sure I blogged about it, to be honest. Lol. The only photo of it is of when it's about 95% done, so I'll be sure and update you when I get a full picture taken!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Simpler Blog Design

You know you're a graphic designer when you can't seem to go a month without giving yourself a new blog design! Lol. Check out my new look!

Besides moving my header to the left column, I also simplified my navigation system (putting most of the relevant links on my About Me page) and added links for my design services and portfolio! If you were looking for a blog makeover of your own... I'm open for business! (hint... hint...) ;-D

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ink Wash

Lest you think that all I do with my days is play The Sims or knit hats... here is a look at one of my current school projects. We're learning how to do ink wash!

It's very similar to watercolor. Basically we dropped different quantities of drawing ink into water to create different darknesses of wash. Then we trace a pencil outline of our composition onto a coldpress board, and fill in the values with the ink wash! It can be a messy process, but overall not as hard as I thought it would be.

Here are some of my practice boards. I'm working on the final composition now and should have it done this coming week!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My First Bazaar

Next weekend I'm doing my first bazaar! My mom and aunt have done them for years, but stopped before I even started with my Etsy shop. This year I had been toying with the idea of doing a bazaar myself, but so many have a rather large entry cost just to set up a table! I finally found one with a low entry cost, so decided to take the jump! :)

knit beanies - counting inventory

Today I spent HOURS organizing and labeling my inventory. Really, I only have about 100 items, so I'm surprised it took so long. Glad I didn't leave it to the last minute!! ;P

I was toying with the idea of putting my shop on "vacation mode" while I am doing the bazaar, but then realized that... hello... I have an iPhone. I can just hop onto my phone and deactivate anything that sells in person (or grab something off my bazaar table if it sells online). How spoiled we are in this era of mobile computing? Lol. Hopefully I'll have a profitable time selling next week! It's all day Saturday... I can't wait!

knit beanies
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