Creative Courses for a Spring Refresh

April 10, 2015

Lately I’ve been inspired to take some online classes to improve my skills and learn new ones. Eventually I’d like to offer an e-course or e-book of my own, but until then I want to share the ones I’ve come across that I know you would love. As a bonus, Craftsy is offering 50% off their popular classes today through Sunday! Without further ado, here are my picks:

Crafting and DIY:

  • Craftsy – Jewelry & Paper Crafts // Several courses in this category on scrapbooking and jewelry making techniques. I want to take Cardmaking Essentials so I can stop running to the store every time I need to send a card!
  • Craftsy – Photography & Art // A variety of courses teaching drawing and photo editing techniques, depending on your skill level. Personally, I’d like to learn about painting Pet Portraits!
  • Brit + Co – Hand-lettering Basics // Crash course in hand-lettering with Danielle ($19.99) – I want to learn how the pros do their lettering, definitely taking this one.
  • Brit + Co – Sewing 101 // A 1 hour sewing class with Roxy ($19.99), this is your chance to stop talking about it and finally learn the basics.

Web Design:

  • Make WP Work – WordPress, Simplified // e-book by Lisa at Elembee ($20); Lisa also has a course called Code Create Now. Registration is now closed but you can sign up for an email reminder when the next course opens up.
  • Don’t Fear the Internet – Basic HTML & CSS for Non-Web Designers // A free resource for designers who want to learn more about web, by Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer
  • Codecademy – Make a Website // One of their many free courses to teach you how to code!


  • Braid Creative – Shape Up Your Content // This is their current course open for registration. Also see their future courses, all targeted to creative entrepreneurs
  • Marketing for Creatives // An e-book by April at Blacksburg Belle to help you market your creative products
  • Design Is A Job // e-book by Mike Monteiro, teaches designers how to be better at business

You can probably tell I’ll be brushing up on my web design skills and working on my business in the coming months. There’s so much available to learn online, you just have to pick one and dive in!

Your turn: What skills are you wanting to learn this spring? Please recommend any creative courses that we should know about!

{Photo via Death to Stock}

*Some links in this post contain affiliate links, meaning that I may receive a commission if make a purchase through one of these links.*


My Favorite Places and Things to Do in Jacksonville

March 16, 2015

Before Will and I moved to Tennessee, I made a list of my favorite places and things we did in Jacksonville. We lived in the beaches area for a year and a half and made a lot of great memories with family and friends there. Whether you are a new resident or just visiting, there’s something for everyone on this list.


  • TacoLu // Tacos are a must, try the Grilled Mahi and the Bangin’ Shrimp tacos
  • Zeta Brewing Co. // Great beer, food and atmosphere near the beach
  • The Brix Taphouse // Good spot for nightlife with live music or a DJ most weekends
  • Milano’s on Kernan // This was right around the corner from our condo, go on Thursday for $1 Pizza Night and try the Long Island Iced Tea – the strongest we’ve ever had!
  • Safe Harbor Seafood Market and Restaurant // Mayport is where the best seafood in town is caught and you can go right to the source by shopping and eating at Safe Harbor. Sit inside or outside with an incredible view of the water.
  • Bold Bean Coffee Roasters // I usually went to Starbucks to work, but I found this local coffee brewer in Ponte Vedra before moving and loved it – great coffee served in ceramic mugs and nice atmosphere
  • MOJO Kitchen // Great local BBQ and live music
  • Shim Sham Room // A speakeasy style cocktail lounge in Jacksonville Beach
  • Culhane’s Irish Pub // We were addicted to the chicken tenders here – so crispy!


  • Beaches Town Center // I love this whole street for their unique shops and galleries
  • Bluetique North Florida // This is a curated boutique by Goodwill, great spot to shop for quality secondhand clothing and accessories, including many new items
  • Beaches Green Market // This farm market is every Saturday in the beaches area – purchase local honey, maple syrup, fruits and veggies, seafood, and Kenyan grown coffee
  • St. John’s Town Center
  • Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach // So many cute local shops and restaurants on Centre Street, including antiques, upscale clothing, candy makers, etc – it’s so worth the drive!


  • North Beaches Art Walk // This art walk was the first event I ever attended at the beaches and I loved walking around shopping local arts and crafts
  • Jacksonville Downtown Art Walk // Much like above, but downtown with live music too
  • Driftwood Jacksonville Beach // A family friend co-owns this shop, full of unique coastal finds from Florida artists
  • One Spark Festival // This festival started in Jacksonville and is now known as “The World’s Largest Crowdfunding Festival” for all types of projects, including the arts


  • Atlantic Beach // Our favorite spot to hang on the beach and bring our dog. Dogs are allowed on this beach all day, unlike Jax Beach (which is before 8am, after 5pm)
  • The Golf Club of Amelia Island // This was about 40 minutes from where we lived, but it’s a scenic drive once you get off the highway and the course is beautiful
  • TPC Sawgrass // Will golfed here with his work buddies and it was his favorite of all the courses in town – it’s a pro course so it makes sense! He also went with his sister to The Players Championship tournament
  • Adventure Landing // We went here for the put-put golf and arcade games, but it is mainly a water park in the summer and they have ice skating in winter. Live alligators hang out near the entrance (it’s a fenced-in habitat, of course!)


  • Hawthorn Salon // the coolest salon in town, I just love their branding and decorations. I highly recommend Corrine and Chelsea for cut and color
  • Baptist Primary Care // Dr. Michael Kring took care of me when I broke my toes – he asked about my exercise habits and made sure I knew what I could still do with my injury. Being healthy starts with exercise, so I appreciated his holistic views on medicine.
  • A1A Family Eyecare



Your turn: Have you been to Jacksonville and have a favorite spot I didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!


New City, New Life

March 13, 2015

Since writing about freelancing and career doubt, I started working full time for Dagher Printing. It was a great experience and I learned so much about the print industry and strengthened my skills as a graphic designer. While there, we won an American Graphic Design Award from GDUSA magazine on an octagon-shaped brochure I designed. I now understand the things that usually held me back from using a local printer, like what kind of paper stock to use and how to prepare files for die cutting and special inks. I am armed with knowledge that will help in my business and career in the future.

After a little over a year in Jacksonville it was time for us to move on again. I enjoyed our time in Jax and will truly miss being near the ocean and our family. However, it’s very important to me that we stay close to our parents and our new home is a lot closer to both sides, mine and Will’s.

We are now in the Music City, Nashville!

We’ve been here for only 2 weeks and I’m already seeing signs that we made the right choice. I feel more motivated to pursue my passions, even while searching for a full-time position. I’m starting to check more things off my 101 in 1001 list: Just last week I had the opportunity to be an extra on ABC’s “Nashville” and met some great new friends! Will loves sports and we have enjoyed going to the Predators hockey games and the SEC basketball tournament. We are attending church at Covenant Presbyterian and have found our lives enriched by the messages we hear each week. We’ve been so blessed during this short time and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.

(Photo via Tracy Guarino)


Interview with Etsy Conversations Podcast

April 14, 2014

I had the pleasure of doing a second interview on the Etsy Conversations Podcast last week, this time with new host Ijeoma! She has done a wonderful job growing the podcast and I had so much fun talking with her about running an Etsy business. Head over to this post to listen.

If you haven’t heard of the podcast before, check out the other episodes too. It’s so inspiring to listen to interviews with fellow Etsy shop owners! They are always looking for new guests to have on the show. Apply here if you’re interested.


Top 10 Books I Want to Read in 2014

January 27, 2014

As of this month, I have already read 2 books this year! I read a lot of ebooks through my library and they tend to be randomly available. As a result, I usually end up with 3 books at a time that expire after 14 days. Then there are the printed books I check out at the library and on my shelves at home, so I have ADD associated with finishing them all. This year I want to finish the books I’ve started as well as read the ones that have been at the top of my list for a while. Here’s my top 10 list for this year, 5 to finish and 5 to read.

Books to Finish:

  1. The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy
  2. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls by L. J. Smith
  3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  4. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2) by James Dashner
  5. The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

Books to Read:

  1. Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher
  4. The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
  5. The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine

I added a spot in the sidebar featuring the books I’m currently reading so you can follow along if you like. I’m unsure if I will start doing book reviews again – I’m more interested in reading as much as possible than writing about what I have read. You can find my past book reviews here. I’m very active on Goodreads, so you can always check my bookshelf to see what else I have read.

If you see any books on my lists that you really want my opinion on, leave a comment or shoot me an email. I may even decide to write a post in response to your questions!


Freelance Lifestyle Journey

January 15, 2014

In the last four months of 2013, I had the opportunity to start my freelance lifestyle. I was a nanny to my sweet nephew Wyatt, I became the print designer for Creative Types and designed an alumni publication for Mount Notre Dame. I started to see a lot of growth in the client side of my business, however I soon realized I had lost sight of why I wanted to start a business in the first place. I had ignored my goals with the hurry do-it-now demands on my time from others. I realize this is part of the job, but I was approaching new work with the wrong mindset. I learned a lot about time management and self-discipline, yet something was missing. Then I visited my website and discovered that I hadn’t updated since October… meaning I updated my blog more when I was a full-time employee!

Personal and family priorities have also come into play that seem more important than being my own boss. These are things that make me willing to go back to an office where I am guaranteed a paycheck every week. It is tempting to me for many reasons. It seems I could reach financial goals faster with a combination of the two – plus I would have to focus and be picky about what projects to take on. As Jon Acuff puts it in Quitter, I would get my “NOs” back, so I could focus on what I truly want my business to be. Also, I’m in a new city where I know few people other than family. The number one way I met people in Cincinnati was through my jobs and my husband’s job. I miss my Ohio friends dearly, and I want to find my people in Jax. There are some great companies here, and I feel a pull to try working for one of them. I have to remind myself that by working as a freelancer, I can pursue contract positions with them and still have some flexibility.

I’m getting mixed opinions from the people around me. Some don’t understand what I’m doing and encourage me to look for a full-time job. Others are adamant that I keep working hard on my business and it will pay off big in the long run. My own opinion changes from day to day. Among the confusing feedback, I do know one thing: I need to be more mindful about what I take on, most importantly giving myself time to grow the parts of my business I’ve been neglecting. I love working from home, but I need to be more proactive with my time. I want to focus on client work in the mornings and use the afternoon to do internal business work, personal projects, read business books, or create handmade products for my shop. If I have a slow or busy day, I can switch it up. That’s the beauty of working on my business full-time, and it would be hard to give that up.

Thoughts? Are some goals worth temporarily sacrificing your dream, or do you believe in pursuing the freelance life for as long as possible?


101 Goals in 1001 Days

October 21, 2013

I started keeping a life list as a teenager, after reading an article in Seventeen about Mandy Moore’s “60 Things I Want to Do Before I’m 30.” I’ve always been a dreamer with big, sometimes unattainable goals, but these kept me going when I was bored with small town life. Now I’m 25, and I still keep a list, though my interests have changed from “Get a spot on the cheerleading squad” and “Become a movie actress” to owning a business and getting out of debt. The monster dream goals are still there, just different. I’ve found I don’t make much progress without accountability and deadlines, so when I read Patti Murphy’s 101 Things in 1001 Days, I was inspired to create my own and share it with you!

Finish date: Friday, July 8, 2016

I figured that date out here.

  1. Write a list of 101 things
  2. Inspire someone else to write their own list – let me know if you do!
  3. Share on my blog 20 of the 101 things accomplished
  4. Sell my work in a retail store
  5. Have my art displayed in a public place of business
  6. Try 10 new restaurants // Bento Cafe, Cantina Laredo (Nov 2013), Secret Garden Cafe, zetaDaruma (Dec 2013), Copper, The Blind Rabbit, The Verandah (Jan 2014), Safe Harbor, MOJO Kitchen (Mar 2014)
  7. Get involved with the Pi Beta Phi alum club in Jacksonville // Christmas brunch (Dec 2013)
  8. Attend an Alabama Football Game Watch Party
  9. Go to a Zumba Class
  10. Design and order new business cards
  11. Plan a trip to Europe
  12. Collaborate with a brand I love // Started working for Dave Ramsey’s Live Events team (2015)
  13. Audition for an acting role // Cast as Extra on ABC’s “Nashville!” (S3:E19 & S4:E4)
  14. Find a church we love in Jacksonville
  15. Explore our new city of Jacksonville
  16. Run a 5K race each year // The Color Run Cincinnati (2013)
  17. Create a series of paintings
  18. Set up a weekly workout schedule
  19. Organize my digital photos
  20. Organize my iTunes music
  21. Complete Baby Step 2 of the Total Money Makeover, a.k.a. pay off our loans
  22. Learn to play 5 songs on my guitar
  23. Make and list 100 items in my Etsy store // currently 12
  24. List more items in my shop on Society6 
  25. Participate in The Sketchbook Project
  26. Create our wedding photo book with Blurb
  27. Take a surfing lesson
  28. Enter the Minted Design Challenge // decided this is not something I want to do, see for my reasoning. 
  29. Learn basic sewing tricks
  30. Take a Spanish course // Beginner course on
  31. Finish a painting
  32. Illustrate a children’s book
  33. Take a tennis lesson
  34. Swim with dolphins
  35. Write an article for a magazine
  36. Go white water rafting
  37. Eat macarons
  38. Attend a Dance Trance class
  39. Take a ballroom dance class
  40. Set up and decorate our new condo in Jacksonville
  41. Attend 5 craft shows as a vendor
  42. Launch a collaborative series on my blog
  43. Attend a blogging conference // Business Boutique Nashville 2015 (not blogging, but it definitely counts!)
  44. Attend Pi Beta Phi Convention in Chicago // missed 2015, couldn’t afford! Adding to next list for 2017
  45. Connect with other bloggers in my area
  46. Visit 3 new states in the US // North Carolina (2014), Texas (2016)
  47. Visit 10 new cities // Toronto and Niagara Falls, Canada (July 2014); Gainesville, FL; Charlotte, NC (2014), Dallas, TX (2016)
  48. Get professional photography done for my business
  49. Have a friend or professional take a portrait for my website
  50. Learn to take better photos
  51. Ride a hot air balloon
  52. Do yoga on the beach
  53. Start my newsletter
  54. Hire an intern or employee
  55. Have my studio or apartment published on a major blog or online magazine
  56. Publish an E-Book
  57. Visit a bar featured on Bar Rescue
  58. Make a media kit for my blog
  59. Visit 3 local breweries // Seven Bridges, Zeta Brewing Co (Jacksonville 2014),
  60. Go to a music festival
  61. Purchase a new desk(s) // Goodwill find for $20!
  62. Be able to do 40 push-ups without stopping
  63. Make 5 DIY items from Pinterest
  64. Make 10 recipes from Pinterest // 1. Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings 2. Easy Chicken Santa Fe 3. Orange Chicken Stirfry 4. Cheesy Sausage Tortellini 5. Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken (didn’t like) 6. Spinach and Artichoke Melts 7. Rolled Banana Snacks
  65. Collaborate with another blogger
  66. Take trapeze lessons
  67. Start Baby Step 3 of the Total Money Makeover (a.k.a. 3-6 months of emergency savings)
  68. Create a series of paintings
  69. Open a retirement account (Roth IRA or 401K)
  70. See Cirque du Soleil
  71. Buy nice beach flip-flops // early birthday gift! (April 2014)
  72. Buy and maintain live indoor plants
  73. Attend a show at fashion week
  74. Take a self defense class
  75. Take a course to improve my business
  76. Read 10 non-fiction books // Creative, Inc, The FabYOUList, The $1000 Challenge, Getting Things Done, The Renaissance Soul, #GIRLBOSS, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters, Heaven is for Real (2014), Lean In, The Money Answer Book (2015)
  77. Read 10 fiction books // Legends (2013), 13 Alabama Ghosts & Jeffrey, Alice in Tumblr-land, The Girl Who Was on Fire, Shadow Souls, Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth, Divergent, The Tail of Emily Windsnap (2014)
  78. Volunteer at an animal shelter
  79. Raise money for MDA
  80. Build a second website for a personal project // She Rates Fitness
  81. Finish a scrapbook
  82. Finish one journal or sketchbook
  83. Attend an AIGA event // Mentor Match May 2015
  84. Take outfit photos and post them on the blog
  85. Decorate and furnish our guest room / office
  86. Decorate and furnish my new workspace
  87. Buy and install curtain rods 
  88. Buy new coffee table and end tables
  89. Bake cupcakes
  90. Host a dinner party
  91. Create an organizing solution for the new pantry
  92. Save money to buy a house // Spring Hill, TN (May 2016)
  93. Plan and decorate a party for a client
  94. Design a full website for a client
  95. Design a wedding stationery suite for a client
  96. Establish a relationship with a local printer // Dagher Printing (Mar 2014)
  97. Work outside whenever possible // When I was freelancing in Jacksonville; my fave spots were the local beach Starbucks and the tiki hut picnic table at our condo.
  98. Create DIY projects for my home and take photos of the progress
  99. This one is a *Secret // Can’t tell, this goes with secret below : )
  100. This one is also a **Secret
  101. Put $10 in savings for each goal accomplished

A Woodland Baby Brunch

September 30, 2013

A few months ago in April, my sisters- and mother-in-law and I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law Cheryl at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After many months of planning, we were very pleased with how well the decorations came together. As I mentioned before, Cheryl decorated the nursery with woodland animals, oranges and blues, so we planned the party around her theme. Ashley and Laura put together centerpieces, shower games and prizes, and I made designs for the invitations, cupcake toppers, and bookmark favors. My mother-in-law, Kathy did a wonderful job planning the brunch (location, food, sending out invites), baking cupcakes, making twig vases, and buying lots of stuffed animals for decorations and toys for baby Wyatt. Everything turned out so perfect!

An invitation and bookmark are shown in the first photo – Cheryl picked a bible verse to include on the bookmark to make it extra special. Keep scrolling for more details from the brunch and to see my favorite photos that Laura took of the event!

Baby Shower Invitation
Baby Shower Cupcakes

My cupcake toppers look so cute with the polka dot cupcake liners and blue, white, and orange icing. The cupcakes were really yummy too!


The stuffed animals on the mantle were great for decoration and also look great in baby’s nursery after the party. Laura made the cutest signs for the Baby Animal Name Game and felt diapers for the Poopy Diaper Game at each place setting.


Aren’t these centerpieces amazing!? The tree slabs for each table were hand-cut by Ashley and her dad! On top of the tree slabs are the twig vases my mother-in-law made (inspired by this DIY) with an arrangement of orange tulips and two cute owl candles from West Elm.

Baby Shower - Happy Parents

Here are the happy parents, Cheryl and Brandon, enjoying time with family and opening fun gifts for their little one! We are thrilled for them and excited about the first nephew/grandchild in our immediate family!

All event photography by Laura D’Alesio. Woodland clipart by Design Scraps on Etsy.


Goodbye Cincinnati, Hello Jacksonville

September 26, 2013

To explain my long absence here lately, we are now residents of Jacksonville, Florida! I had big plans for posts in August and September, assuming I would have plenty of time for my business plus everything that comes with moving across the country. I couldn’t be more wrong! Between visiting friends and family, scheduling movers, and packing up everything we own, not much happened on the business side of things. I basically left my job at the beginning of August to have a month to prepare to move. It took most of September to get settled in, but I’m starting to get back into a routine.

We are super excited to be in Florida, but also sad to leave behind so many wonderful friends and places in Ohio. I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite things that we did while we lived there, an Ohio bucket list for you!


  • See the Cincinnati Reds play at Great American Ballpark
  • Go outdoor ice skating in Fountain Square
  • Experience the sights and shop international groceries at Jungle Jim’s – my grandmother would spend 3 hours here every time she came to visit, no lie!
  • Spend a Saturday at Findlay Market – Dojo Gelato, I’m thinking of you!
  • Have dinner at ThreeSixty, a revolving restaurant with amazing views from the riverfront of Cincinnati.
  • Try local Ohio BBQ (Montgomery Inn BBQ and City BBQ)
  • Volunteer and shop at Crafty Supermarket
  • Have some coneys or even a 3-way at Skyline Chili
  • Go bar hopping at Mt. Adams (my favorites – The Blind Lemon, Monk’s Cove, and Longworth’s) and go up to the monastery for an incredible view of the city and Ohio/Kentucky border.
  • See the shark-rays at Cincinnati Aquarium
  • Have a Lager or Dunkel at the Hofbrauhaus and enjoy some German culture, including a live accordion player. (I just discovered that my maiden name, Hagerman means “North German,” so of course I love this place.)
  • Attend an outdoor concert at Riverbend (Incubus, Bush, Dave Matthews Band)
  • Attend a match at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament
  • See a show at the Aronoff (Beauty + the Beast, Seinfeld)


  • Go on the Candelight Tour of renovated historic homes in the Oregon District
  • Take your pet to Oak Grove Dog Park – we took Cody here all the time, it’s free with separate areas for large and small dogs.
  • Attend the Celtic Festival live music, including Gaelic Storm who performed in the third class party scene on Titanic.
  • Browse great works of art at The Dayton Art Institute and enroll your child in Summer Art Camp, which I attended in grade school.
  • Attend a Dayton Fliers basketball game and/or the NCAA First Four at the UD Arena
  • Go to Elsa’s for authentic Mexican food and the Bad Juan, the strongest margarita ever (they make you stop drinking after two)
  • Have dinner in the Oregon District (Thai 9)
  • Take advantage of Restaurant Week to get discounts on fine dining (El Meson, Figlio)
  • See a show at the Schuster Center (The Lion King)
  • Attend a Dayton Dragons game – they are minor league, but tickets usually sell out!
  • Go to the Ohio Renaissance Festival to shop local artists, see plays acted out in mud, and attend a live jousting match!
  • Attend an outdoor concert at JD Legends and get your redneck on, a.k.a. great people watching, tiki bar, and a party in the sand (Badfish, Justin Moore, Aaron Lewis, Charlie Daniels Band)
  • Buy local and organic food straight from the farmers at 2nd Street Market

If you happen to visit Cincinnati or Dayton yourself, you have my recommendations! There are tons of great things to do in these two cities that I didn’t mention but I had to stop at some point. If you have any must dos to add to my list, please share them in the comments!

Photo by Steven Weis.