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Monday, February 10, 2014

Caz and Craig: travel bloggers and parents

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Caz and Craig are a happily married couple from Australia with two beautiful kids. But they have a secret: they are full time travelers! Armed with a mission to show you that “travel doesn’t have to stop after kids”, the two are the visionaries behind the travel blog, YTravelBlog where they share secrets on how to live your travel dreams. They used to collect travel magazines, rip out photos, and glue them onto big pieces of cardboard to find inspiration. But now, read how they use Pinterest to dream, plan and jump into the unknown.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. How did you meet and get bit with the traveling bug? Were you both adventurous from the start?

We both grew up in the same small town on the east coast of Australia, but didn’t really know each other until our early twenties. Caz moved to London for 2 years straight after graduating from University and put her teaching degree to good use. During that time she traveled the UK, Europe and Asia before returning home to Oz, but still had very itchy feet.

It was then that we both got to know each other. Craig shared Caz’s passion for travel and his big dreams of also living overseas and traveling the world. We got married, and 3 days after our wedding took off on a 5-year honeymoon, which involved working holidays living in Bangkok teaching English, a year living in Dublin, and 4 years living in Raleigh, North Carolina. We traveled extensively in the UK, Asia, Africa and the USA.

We are now both full-time on our travel blog, having turned our passion for travel into a full-time lifestyle. It’s a dream come true. Caz left her teaching career and Craig left the construction industry. We’re currently on a 1 year road trip around Australia with our two kids, blogging and pinning as we go. So we are full-time bloggers, parents and travelers and time management is definitely tough, with no two days the same. But, we are living our passion and spending quality time with our kids so the benefits far outweigh the struggles.

How did the blog come about?

After living and traveling the world for 8+ years we’ve always been a part of the travel community, and we love sharing tips and stories with other travelers. Plus Caz has always loved writing in her journal and Craig taking photos, so starting a travel blog was a natural progression. And we needed to find a way to feed our travel addiction, to have time-freedom and be able to live where we want, when we want. So becoming location independent has always been a huge desire.

Our blog is 3.5 years old now and we are grateful for the lifestyle it has enabled us to live, the people we have been able to connect with around the world, and the brands we have been able to partner with on campaigns.

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How do you plan your trips, especially now with kids? Are your trips less adventurous and more laid back now?

Our list of places we want to see is endless, and continues to grow. But sometimes we enjoy going back to familiar places as well. As for traveling with kids, we say this all the time to others, travel doesn’t have to stop after having kids! Whilst our style of travel has evolved over the years now that we have a 6 and 2 year old, and we don’t move as fast as we did, traveling as a family and creating lifelong memories together is so important to us.

We love the outdoors, as do our kids, and we still get out in nature and go hiking and bike riding and being adventurous. Whilst we do visit “attractions for kids” and try to find the balance between adult activities for us, we’re not the type to hang out in aquariums, museums and playgrounds, preferring to get out there and explore and meet the people and eat the local food.

Travel with kids needn’t be a hassle and it can be one of the best experiences you have as a family. It’s just about paying attention to their needs and finding plenty of rest time and having enough activities for them to do along the way. Bored and overtired children become cranky and frustrated kids in a hurry—parents moods soon follow!

Our top 3 tips for travel with kids would be:

1. Slow Down - spend more time in fewer places. Plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt if solo or as a couple.

2. Determine Your Preferences - sit down with your whole family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love.

3. Stay in Apartments or Vacation Rentals - most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. With an apartment you get more space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms. These facilities can make your trip so much more enjoyable.

How do your kids like traveling?

They didn’t have a choice, they chose us, lol. But seriously, they love it. They are both adventurous by spirit, social and have come to understand the benefits of travel and the memories created far outweigh any hassles.

We stumbled upon your Bucket list board with 4.2 million followers! How have you used Pinterest to find inspiration and come across new experiences?

Our bucket list board is easily our biggest and it’s mostly for travel inspiration, those dream destinations we ALL want to visit. This board is not just for us as the curators, but for all our followers to get inspired to live their travel dreams. “A pictures tells a thousand words” as they say, and there is no better way to inspire a trip and stir emotion than through travel photos.

Before Pinterest, we used to collect travel magazines and rip out photos to pin to a cork board. Or we glued photos on a big piece of cardboard and called it our travel bucket list board or vision board. Now we use Pinterest.

Follow Caz and Craig @yTravelBlog’s board Bucket List on Pinterest.

What we love about Pinterest, and what separates it from say Facebook and Instagram, is that things stay where we put them and are easy to find again, for us and others. So we LOVE using Pinterest for travel planning and sharing. There are essentially 4 phases of travel: Dream, Plan, Experience, Share. And Pinterest lends itself perfectly to all phases. By creating our boards into topics, and then pinning photos and blog posts to those boards, we can easily organize and categorize our travel planning and travel tips.

We’re currently pinning our way around Australia on a one year road trip using our Australia travel board and the cool new feature “Place Pins”, which helps people to locate a destination and plan their own travels. This is a great tool for sharing your trip afterwards, by highlighting points of discovery such as places you eat, where you stayed, things you saw, which your followers can then benefit from. We’ve also created a Sydney place pins board sharing our insider tips on things to see, do, eat, stay in Sydney.

Besides clicking on the travel category, we also use the “Search bar” to research new places, pins and boards. But our favourite way to find the best photos is to use the “Related Pins” function where you see other images from the same destination or topic as the original photo you clicked on, simply by scrolling down.

We recently published an in-depth blog post on How to Use Pinterest for Traveling Planning that outlines how we get the most out of Pinterest.

Pinterest has become a HUGE part of our business. Alone it brings in over 120,000 unique visitors per month to our blog. We also get many emails from people who say they discovered us on Pinterest so it’s been a great way to build our audience and bring new eyeballs to our site. And with new features coming out on Pinterest, the future is exciting and we’re just getting started.

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Browsing your blog, it seems like you’ve got the earth covered! What’s next?

We’re 4 months into our year long road trip around Australia. After that we have plans to road trip the USA for at least one year, and finally hit Europe for about 4-6 months. Our youngest daughter will be 5 years old by then so we hope to finally settle down somewhere, put the kids back into traditional school, and take shorter regional trips.

Let the adventures continue!

Thanks Caz and Craig for bringing us into your adventures with the family. If you want to see where they’re currently in the world, visit their blog and Pinterest boards!

Read "Caz and Craig: travel bloggers and parents"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Paul O’Connor: Comic book blogger

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According to Paul O’Connor, when a story is told visually with words and pictures, it engages your senses by harnessing the power of your imagination in a way only a few novels and films can match. This experience is what led Paul to dive deep into the world of comic books and become the mastermind behind the successful blog, Longbox Graveyard. But now, with decades of new and old content, characters and stories, how does Paul store, discover, and bring these senses to life? The answer is Pinterest.

Can you give us a background? How did you get introduced to comics and then pursue it as a serious hobby?

As noted in my very first entry on my blog, Longbox Graveyard, the “Golden Age” of everything is “twelve”. I first discovered comics when I was twelve, and the hobby took deep root right from the beginning. I drifted in and out of comics several times in the years that followed, only to return more committed than ever before, founding my blog to chronicle my attempt to pare down my comics “accumulation” into a “collection,” while also coming to terms with how comics have changed in the four decades since I plucked my first funnybook off the rack.

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What excites you about comic books?

There’s so much nostalgia now - revisiting comics from my youth, remembering what they were like the first time around, reflecting on who I was then and how much of me is still that little kid from the 1970s. But I’ve also developed a healthy appreciation for the form in its own right. When a story is told visually, with words and pictures playing together in proper measure, a comic can deliver a tale in a way few other forms can match. Comics don’t tell internal stories so well as novels, and they don’t tell external stories as well as film — but they are very good at telling fantastic, visual stories that engage the senses by harnessing the power of your imagination to create sounds, voices, and the passage of time in very personal ways that film cannot match. The best comics provide the immediacy of film with the deep character development of novels — those are the comics that excite me the most.

Was there a moment, or maybe a specific comic, that was the catalyst for the blog?

For the blog, specifically, the catalyst was sitting in a movie theater next to my twelve year old, seeing the first Thor movie, and having him turn to me and say, “Do you have any Thor comics, dad?” And the answer was that I had hundreds of them, but with no easy way of finding them or sharing them with my son, because my collection was scattered all over the garage in a kind of graveyard of comic book long boxes. With that realization, my blog was born, to keep me on track as I brought order to my collection; it has since grown to become a more general comics blog, but still focuses on the comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that I most enjoyed as a youth.

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We’ve been browsing through your boards, learning about various protagonists, antagonists, and even new characters we’ve never heard about such as your “Malibu characters” boards! How do you use Pinterest?

I started off using Pinterest to warehouse images that I needed for Longbox Graveyard — as a visual pinboard, it’s superior to sorting through lists of file names on a computer. That “Malibu Comics” board results from putting together a retrospective panel on Malibu Comics a couple years ago for San Diego Comic-Con. Likewise, many of my Pinterest boards grew out of articles originally published at Longbox Graveyard, but while a board might be colonized by Steve Ditko Spider-Man images captured for a specific blog, over time the board will grow into its own thing as I pin similar images during my daily trips around the web.

Are there any new characters, comics, or anything unknown in the comic book world you’ve uncovered or discovered via Pinterest?

Collecting images for Pinterest has brought some new-to-me artists to my attention. I’ve come to appreciate both Bruce Timm (who has his own board at my Pinterest page) and Des Taylor — they come to comics from the pinup and animation traditions, which are fields I don’t know very well. I love how their work is at the same time modern and nostalgic, with cheesecake elements that don’t feel exploitative. I’ve also come to a renewed appreciation for comics artist Steve Rude while assembling my boards — I find myself collecting his images more and more — and may not have realized how much I like him if not for Pinterest!

We caught your “Bad guys” boards with a variety of eclectic artwork. How does art play in terms of your comic experience, especially via Pinterest?

I’m more interested in characters and narrative than art for its own sake, which is why many of my Pinterest boards show full comics pages or panel sequences rather than pin-ups or covers. That “Bad Guys” board, in particular, is kind of a catch-all board for images that don’t have a home on a character-specific board just yet (which accounts for the eclectic nature of the art on display). When I notice that board has a dozen or so images of a specific comics bad guy, I’ll split them off into their own board, such as my “Galactus” and “Red Skull” boards.

Follow Longbox Graveyard’s board Bad Guys on Pinterest.

This is probably a very hard question, but is there a comic or character that is at the top of your favorite list, and why?

That is hard to narrow down. There are my sentimental favorites from childhood, like Captain America, and slightly more contemporary comics runs, like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, that spring to mind. Every comic that I’ve reviewed gets a letter grade at Longbox Graveyard, but I don’t review everything I read — there are several current comics that I enjoy, but I leave those to other sites. If I had to go to a desert island with the work of only one creator, I could happily read Will Eisner’s The Spirit for the rest of my days, but I don’t expect The Spirt himself would crack my Top Twenty comics heroes. There are books I like for the characters, books I like for style and craft, books I like for nostalgia, and everything in between.

For a comic book novice, where would you advise one to start?

For a true novice there’s still no better point-of-entry than a good comics shop. Unfortunately, a good comics shop can be hard to find. If you walk into a shop and it feels like some dank cave, or a boy’s club, or someone’s bedroom, then don’t waste your time. But if its a vibrant shop with clean fixtures and recent stock, and a friendly staff that listens to you before making recommendations, then you’ve struck gold — they are absolutely worth your business. My only advice (with any shop) is for new readers to visit on weekends, rather than mid-week when the regular customers come in to pick up their new comics, as those are peak hours for comics shops and you may be lost in the shuffle. The other things new readers should keep in mind is that superhero comics, for the most part, aren’t terribly similar to their big-screen counterparts save in the broadest outline, so someone enjoying Christian Bale as Batman may be adrift when they walk into the store and see a dozen different Batman titles on the rack. Again, this is a place where a good shop can steer you in the right direction and keep an open mind as you explore this art form. I’d any new reader a dollar that they’re going to end up liking something they’d never considered when they walked through the shop door.

Thank you Paul for taking us on a behind the scenes look into the comic book world. If you want to see more amazing comics, characters, and stories, visit Paul’s blog and Pinterest boards!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Dave & Deb: Award Winning Adventure Couple

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16 years ago, newly married couple Dave and Deb had big aspirations to become musicians. Little did they know their paths would drastically change with careers in the Toronto film business working on Hollywood blockbusters. But even with long days on set, they would find themselves daydreaming about exotic lands and escaping the cold. And then it happened. They both signed up for the Tour d’Afrique, the worlds longest cycling race in 2008, which was enough to spark a travel blog, The Planet D, and ignite a flame to leave it all behind to travel full time. See how the two use Pinterest today for inspiration and sharing adventures from around the world!

Let’s go back in time - how did you two meet? Can you give us a quick background, especially what led you two from music to film to your current career as travel experts?

Dave and I met at a very young age in college. It was 1991 and we were watching a band at a local bar. My house mate pointed out that Dave was wearing the same cowboy boots as me and we instantly connected. From that night on we were inseparable. We’ve always been spontaneous and impulsive and after we graduated from college we moved to Vancouver, BC to pursue careers in music. The film business was just starting to boom there, with TV series like X-Files and movies like Jumanji filming in the city, so we thought we’d give the film business a try. It was a great time to break in to the business as it was so busy. We ended up working in the film industry for over a decade and had great success in the business. Dave worked on feature films as a Rigging Gaffer (a key position in the lighting department) and I worked in television as a Make-Up Artist. Being freelance gave us a lot of freedom to travel. We would take months at a time to explore the world between movies and eventually we found that we felt more comfortable on the road than at home. We started to yearn for our next adventure. People started to relate to our travels more than our careers and we started thinking of ourselves as travellers more than movie people. We wanted to add “Adventurer” on to our business cards.

In 2004 we went on an extended trip through South East Asia and decided that we had to figure out a way to make travel a full time part of our lives. We brainstormed ideas and looked in to all kinds of options. We took up scuba diving to become Dive Masters, we thought about opening a bar in Belize, and we even considered leading cycling tours. None of those options panned out. A few years later, it was unbearable. We were still splitting our time between working and traveling, when we saw an ad for the World’s longest cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town. That was it! We decided to pitch a TV show. We’d be an adventure couple going around the world taking on crazy adventures and share our training, frustrations and shenanigans with our audience; and we’d start with this adventure.

Obviously the TV show didn’t pan out. But because we had to start a blog for the cycling race, our blog took off. We already had 8 years of travel under our belt by then, so when our TV show failed, we decided to keep the blog running and write about our travel experiences so far. People seemed to like what we had to say, because soon we developed a following and a year after returning from Africa, we took off again to Asia to pursue our dream of becoming travel bloggers.

Was there a pivotal moment where or when you guys decided to stop, switch gears, and explore the earth full time?

There was definitely a pivotal moment that made us switch gears. It was December 31, 2006. We had already been to about 40 countries and had been spending our winters traveling, while working the rest of the year to save for our travels. We knew that we couldn’t keep this up for the rest of our lives. We didn’t want to wait for retirement to finally be able to live our dreams. That night we were really depressed. We didn’t go out for New Years, but instead stayed home feeling sorry for ourselves. We ended up catching a profile on an ultra marathon runner named Ray Zahab on TV and he inspired us to do something about our situation. We made a New Year’s toast that by this time next year we’d quit our jobs in TV and film once and for all, and begin a new chapter in our lives. We didn’t know how we were going to it yet, but life has a strange way of working out. It was two weeks later that we saw the ad for a cycling race through Africa and we found our purpose. The next year, we were on our way to Africa to begin the race in Cairo and we’ve never looked back.

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What is the best thing about traveling together?

The best thing about traveling together is being together. During our time in the movies, we lived very separate lives. We’d work 16 hour days and be too exhausted on weekends to have quality time with each other. I think we gravitated to travel at that time because it was the one time in our lives we could be completely together with no distractions.

We caught your 12,000 Mile Car Rally Adventure Boards with all the amazing place pins from your experience going from England to Mongolia. How do you two use Pinterest?

We have always been avid Pinterest users for inspiration. Our travel blog is very visual, and photographs have always inspired our trips. When we see a picture of a beautiful destination or a unique landmark or monument, we are excited to learn more and add it to our list. Pinterest is the perfect platform for dreaming. We search for destinations that we are interested in traveling to for ideas of what to see and what to photograph. We spend time browsing our feed to find new places that we never even thought of before to add to our list of future travels.

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It’s also been really handy when planning road trips. We can use the search function to browse destinations and make a list of where we plan to stop. When we first heard about Pinterest we were very excited because we could now share our favorite photos directly from our blog with our followers on Pinterest. We know that photography is a great way to entice people to want to find out more, so we definitely have been using Pinterest in our business to drive traffic to our website. Our website is very much about inspiration and letting people dream, so Pinterest and ThePlanetD go hand in hand.

The place pins have really made us excited about Pinterest because we feel that we can share itineraries with our followers of epic overland trips that we have done. When we tell people we cycled the continent of Africa they think, wow that’s cool, but it’s difficult to visualize. When we can show them our entire route on a map with photos to go with it, they can really get an idea of what the journey was like. Place pins give you the scope of a destination and sense of place.

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Has there been anything unique you’ve discovered or stumbled upon using Pinterest?

We find something new every day. It was Pinterest that inspired us to take a detour to photograph Antelope Canyon in Arizona. When we saw those colorful visuals of red and orange rocks with vivid yellow sunshine bursting through from above, we knew we had to go there. We love seeing colour on Pinterest, when we see rich, vibrant colours pop off the page, it definitely catches our attention.

Thank you Dave and Deb for a behind the scenes look into your travel itineraries and adventures. If you want to check out where they are in the world, what’s next on their agendas, or some great travel tips and advice, visit their blog and Pinterest boards!

Read "Dave & Deb: Award Winning Adventure Couple"

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ted Hope: Storyteller and Film-Producer

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Ted Hope is a storyteller. And he’s gotten good at it. In fact, his stories have been nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize three times. From Producing feature films (21 Grams, American Splendor, The Savages) to Business Ventures (CEO of Fandor), Ted is a natural idea machine. But how does Ted discover, manage, and share all of his curiosity? The answer is Pinterest.

Can you tell us a brief background and how you got started in the film industry as a Producer?

I was always one of the kids in the neighborhood or school who made something happen – be it a pick up game of ball or a prank or a show. My original plan had been to change the world and I first thought politics was the way to do that, but I did not have the patience for it. I moved to NYC and attended NYU Film School the year that the Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, and Jim Jarmusch’s first films were all released – and I knew that was the sort of films I wanted to help make and get appreciated. I worked on a bunch of low budget horror films initially though, working my way up the crew ladder, and at night my friends and I would talk about how to apply those production methods to movies we cared about. From my political days, I knew how to organize folks, and when my apartment building went co-op I organized the tenants to hold out until we got enough money to pay off my student loans & give me enough that allowed me to work cheap on a movie or two. I had the good fortune to meet both the director Hal Hartley (who I went on to produce) and the producer/writer James Schamus (who became my business partner) early on.

You’ve probably read quite a few words on page. What makes your heart beat when you read a script?

Primarily, I want something that is original and ambitious, grounded in emotional truth. I like the experiment over the proof – in that I like to see risks taken and limits pushed. You can tell when the writer is turned on by what they have put on the page, knowing that they have displayed something dangerous. It doesn’t have to “work”, as I have confidence that I can help make that happen. I don’t want the author to play it safe.

How do you stumble upon new creative ideas personally or for your next projects?

I keep myself open to awe, wonder, and mystery. I think about the people, ideas, and things that I love. I find delight in what is very different from me. Curiosity is a muscle and there is nothing better that the wealth of people, stories, images, and films to spark it. I am drawn to the noble failure because when we stumble in execution we are showing others a path to some new place.

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Where do you think story and audiences are heading thanks to new studios and distribution players trying to retain audiences with streaming, episodic content?

When a storytelling platform aims to serve everyone or make the most amount of money possible, I think they make certain sacrifices to do so – and we will suffer for that. Serialized content only recently has elevated itself out of the realm of a cheap drug, and the cliffhanger (bridge between episodes) is the lowest fix. Movies, like some images, have an incredible power to create a shared emotional response amongst strangers from diverse backgrounds. If we can bridge the gap from the emotional power stories generate to the engagement with a community, we can spur people onto incredible impact. Audiences are demanding a greater return on the investment of their engagement (ROIE) and are not content to just passively consume. We want to build new worlds with the things that capture our fascination – and Pinterest does this very well, and I plan to build further upon it on how we interact with film on Fandor.

You’ve worked with a scope of people in a variety of different areas, domestically and internationally. What can you say about the global film community?

Our differences bring us together. I was very fortunate to have one of my early productions be Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet. The film connected with audiences worldwide. Whether people were Chinese, gay, or not, they connected to it deeply. I saw that the more specific we can be, the more universal a work becomes. If we want to grow vibrantly, change, and innovate – we need to bust out of our silos and echo chambers. We’d be fools not to look for ideas and connections from places as far away from ourselves as possible. I just recently became CEO of Fandor, which is a new streaming subscription service for both fans and makers of the widest variety of cinema. Global film culture is under threat. We can not just let those that have the most money and influence be what is available. I am voting with my all my labor, ideas, love, and a great deal of my time and money for a world of diverse and ambitious cinema.

We noticed you’re an active Pinner, especially with various Filmmaking 101 and Film School boards. Do you use Pinterest for educating filmmakers?

My boards are mostly for the film community and not myself. They are collections of things that I admire, have been inspired by, or want to return to – things that have helped me or I think will help others. I try to use my entire collection to give someone a clear idea of who I am and what matters to me. Like me, the boards are constantly evolving and shifting. I think we are all pressed for time these days and when you are a creative person, it is your obligation to be able to give people a quick snapshot of who your really are. My Pinterest boards are a step behind the curtain for anyone who wants a peak.

Recently I have been most excited by the collection of boards I created that are all dubbed “Film School”. I break them down into separate categories like “Film School: Producing” or Film School: Directing” and pin articles that pertain to that subject. Of course, I include a good amount of what I write personally. I tend to visit the homepage of the ones I follow for a quick dip into beauty or inspiration. After I pin something and get the link that connects me to someone who has also pinned that article, I then wade a little deeper into their pool to see what kind of collector they are.

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You probably get hit up constantly for advice. If you can sum up a few words of wisdom for new storytellers looking to follow in your footsteps, what would it be?

Remain in love, work that love, and grow it exponentially. You are a hunter, gatherer, and mad scientist unearthing truth, beauty, and wonder. You are not alone but part of something far greater than you will ever be, and you will be more impactful as the team player than as the hero. Make both for the moment and for all eternity. Think big picture and end game, taking the steps to appreciate the process and the result. Build precise complexity and simple chaos constantly. Take gigantic risks and succeed in your failure most gloriously. Enjoy both the fragility and the permanence, strengthening each.

Thank you Ted for your insight into the film world. If you want to keep up with Ted and sneak a peek into his mind, his new projects, and a glimpse into the entertainment community, check out his Pinterest boards, his blog, Twitter feed, and new role at Fandor.

Read "Ted Hope: Storyteller and Film-Producer"

Monday, January 13, 2014

Matt Long: Adventurer and Travel Guru

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Matt Long may seem like a regular guy with a house in the suburbs and three dogs. But there’s something else on his agenda: he has traded a cubicle lifestyle and put aside his Gen-X career to turn his passion into a new life path with travel. Today, he is the mastermind behind the popular travel blog, Landlopers, where he explores the ends of the earth, using Pinterest for inspiration and putting ideas together for his next big trips!

Hi Matt, first off, how did you catch the traveling bug and realize you wanted to get out of the cubicle and see the world?

I’ve always been fascinated with new places and cultures. Even as a little kid I had posters of Scotland and Morocco when my friends had Madonna and Prince. In college and grad school I got my degrees in International Relations and had every intention of finding a job that would allow me to travel. Until I didn’t. I found a job as a lobbyist in Washington, DC instead and stayed there for years because it was safe and comfortable. Sure my partner and I traveled on vacations but it wasn’t enough and I knew it. One long weekend in March 2010 I sat down and started LandLopers. I didn’t really even know what a blog was, but I knew I needed a travel-related outlet of some sort. I knew I wanted to share my experiences and help others travel better. One thing led to another and last year I left my office job and started life as a full-time travel blogger. I still have a pretty normal life, house in the ‘burbs, three dogs and so forth which allows me to continue writing - not as someone who gave it all up to travel the world, but as a normal person who has made travel a big part of their life.

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Why should people travel?

The act of travel itself, no matter where you go, is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Through travel we’re happier, healthier people; travel is inherently a selfish activity and it’s important to use it as a vehicle for personal growth. It’s impossible not to learn something new on a trip, to meet new people and understand their lives a little bit better. Travel doesn’t have to be far in order to be beneficial. Any time we take time off from work, leave home and see something new and different, that’s when we’re at our best.

Which part of the globe is next on your list and how did you select it? Is it highly researched or spontaneous? Adventure vs. leisure? Do you have criteria?

I love exploring any new place I haven’t visited before. I have an insatiable wanderlust and just love being on the road. That being said most of my travels are planned pretty far ahead. I’ve done a couple of last minute trips, but not many. My style of travel is luxury adventure, which means I love getting out and being active, but I prefer nicer hotels and a certain level of service. It also means I look for unique experiences, like a trip to Antarctica or an African safari.

I’m leaving very soon for a trip to Australia to explore Western and South Australia. I’ve never been to these states and I can’t wait to see for myself what makes them so much fun to visit. Later this Spring I have plans to visit a lot of Europe including France, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany and Malta.

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Is there a place you’ll never go? If yes, why?

I don’t believe that ‘dangerous travel’ is responsible, although many engage in it. By that I mean traveling to war-torn or otherwise very dangerous places for the fun of it. There are thrill seekers out there who want travel bragging rights, but I personally believe it’s irresponsible. It’s a very big world and I’d rather first visit areas where I’m not under threat of injury or kidnapping.

We stumbled upon your “Dream Trips I want to take” board! How do you use Pinterest for stumbling on a new place or experience?

For me photography and imagery is a big part of the travel experience, both before and after the trip. Over the years my photos have done more to share new destinations with people than anything else. I love using Pinterest as an easy way to share these travel moments and to hopefully encourage others to get out there and explore the world.

I love looking through the boards when I’m planning a trip, to see what activities or unique areas I should visit. It’s many times easier to plan using images than anything else, especially if time is a concern.

Follow Matt Long’s board Dream Trips I Want To Take on Pinterest.

You have a lot of advice about travel on your website, but if you can sum up words of wisdom in a sentence of two for a person looking to leave on a jet plane immediately, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid. Fear keeps us back from so much in our lives and until we’re willing to face our fears of the unknown, we will be held back. Traveling gives us so much more than we put into it, you just have to be brave enough to take that first step.

Thank you Matt for giving us an insight on how to experience the world! To learn more about Matt, read about his awesome travel tips and even plan your next trip, visit his blog and Pinterest boards on Pinterest!

Read " Matt Long: Adventurer and Travel Guru"

Monday, January 6, 2014

Zabie: Healer and Trauma Sensitive Yoga Instructor

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How does one heal from trauma? Meet Zabie Khorakiwala, a survivor of sexual violence who has found answers and transformed herself, her students, and those around her through the spiritual art of Yoga. Dedicated to helping others, she founded the program, Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga. Read how Zabie uses Pinterest to find inspiration for therapy to implement in her classroom.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what motivated you to get started in this profession?

My name is Zabie Khorakiwala and I manage the University of California, Irvine’s violence prevention programs. Additionally I am a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher and I teach yoga as healing classes to survivors of sexual violence on campus and in the community.

As a survivor of sexual violence during my senior year in college, I learned firsthand that the journey to heal is a lifelong process. There is no set guidebook or format that tells you how to heal nor is there one specific approach that works for every survivor. We all have our own unique path after experiencing this type of trauma. I quickly learned that my path led me straight to my yoga mat. Because yoga played such a pivotal role in my healing journey, I made a commitment to myself that I would share this gift with others.

How did you get introduced to Yoga?

Given my type-A and very task-oriented, solution-focused personality, I plunged myself into a frantic search to find ways to heal from the trauma. The only thing I really knew was that I needed something tangible. I needed something that allowed me to connect to every sense in my body, something that allowed me to manage the feelings of trauma I felt boiling up through my body with no accessible outlet. I needed a tool that allowed me to feel like I was actually regaining power and control of MY body. I tried to pursue talk therapy but it didn’t feel authentic for me. I constantly felt triggered and re-traumatized by having to share my story over and over again. What I needed was an opportunity to process the trauma nonverbally. I needed to manage the sensations of my limbs, the pain I experienced in in my heart and through every part of my body that at one point felt completely damaged and broken.

Enter: yoga.

Yoga was introduced to me by two of my dear friends Gil and Tonya, and it literally saved my life.

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How do you use Yoga to help you and your students?

The most crucial way that yoga helps the survivors I teach is that it is trauma-informed in nature. After my 200-hour teacher training at Core Power Yoga, I attended a trauma-sensitive yoga training hosted at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health facilitated by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., David Emerson and Jenn Turner. In trauma-sensitive yoga classes, each posture that I cue is an invitation. Survivors are invited to take a personal exploration of the postures and move their body in ways that feel comfortable for them. Additionally there are no physical assists in trauma-sensitive yoga. Placing your hands on a survivor can be incredibly triggering and takes away from the practice being their own. The entire practice creates a safe, supportive, and non- judgmental experience where survivors can cultivate strength and flexibility without force and develop a friendly relationship with their body (Emerson and Turner, 2012).

I also take into account the specific symptoms that survivors often times experience and develop carefully crafted sequences and choose postures to support their healing. For example, survivors experiences a range of symptoms including: dis-regulated breathing, flashbacks, uptight body posture, GI issues, chronic sleep problems, disassociation, difficulty with relationships and intimacy, and depression. Having a thorough understanding of the needs of working with this population allows me to be more present in the yoga room and facilitates my ability to be thorough in the development of yoga sequences.

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How does Yoga help in the healing process? Are there any standout moments for you or your students?

Yoga provides a safe and accessible way for survivors to explore their healing internally and uncovers layers of pain to get to the core of who they have always been. It offers them a beautiful form of expression that moves beyond trying to find the words to articulate how they feel. These inward experiences of healing on the yoga mat can elicit positive outcomes and tangible skills that survivors may have been working on for years in cognitive therapy to achieve. Past participants have shared that they were empowered to report to the police what had happened to them because they felt strong and stable in their bodies, others were able to be intimate again with a partner because they felt they could assertively communicate their boundaries, and one participant in particular took complete control of her binge eating because she realized that she did not need to have control in an unhealthy way.

Survivors have also shared that the yoga as healing program increased their confidence and self-esteem, helped them learn how to trust themselves and others, allowed them to develop a strong sense of community, helped them incorporate self-care strategies, and empowered them to seek other resources.

We noticed your Namaste board. Can you tell us a bit about how you use Pinterest?

Pinterest is an amazing way to gain inspiration for classes I teach as well as for the various activities involved in the 8- week yoga as healing series. Pinterest allows me to collect inspirational quotes and readings that I can utilize in various themed classes around safety, mindfulness, acceptance, etc. Pinterest also supports my preparation for classes as I get ideas for new postures and sequences to incorporate each week.

I love my Namaste board! It is a space where I collect inspiration for sequences and quotes, as well as get news ideas for the weekly activities I facilitate. In addition to yoga, we also offer art therapy, self-care workshops, journaling, meditation, and a healing drum circle as a part of the curriculum for the 8-week series. Pinterest is my go to place to help me incorporate fresh new ideas into class. Additionally, the Namaste board is a place where I collect ideas for supplies I can utilize on a limited budget! One example you may notice on the board are safety jars and stones with words written on them. For our themed class on safety, I give each participant a mason jar and ask them to take the jar home and decorate it with items that make them feel happy and safe. In every class they receive an intention rock and they are invited to write down their intention for class. Their safety jar is where they collect their intention rocks and it becomes a physical representation of all of the work they have put into their healing process. The participants love having a tangible item that represents their courage, strength, dedication, and resilience.

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What is a piece of advice you can give to people looking to heal, for therapy, or simply for answers?

“Energy held in immobility can be transformed…contrary to popular belief, trauma can be healed. Not only can it be healed, but in many cases it can be healed without long hours of therapy; without the painful reliving of memories, and without a continuing reliance on medication.” -Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger

This is one of my favorite quotes because it helps people recognize that there are other ways to heal outside of standard practices of talk therapy and medication. For anyone out there who has been searching for something deeper or feeling at a loss for where to go next in their healing process, my advice would be to connect with a trauma-sensitive yoga practitioner. There are so many practitioners offering holistic healing options and they would be happy to connect with you if you would like to ask questions or learn more. The Breathe Network is an incredible organization that connects survivors to healing arts practitioners who offer services on a sliding scale. Survivors can search by modality or location.

I am also happy to connect with anyone who is interested in learning more via e-mail at zkhoraki@gmail.com or by visiting Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga

Do you have any new years resolutions or practices you’re looking forward to implement or achieve this new year?

A few projects on the horizon include a book I am co-authoring on survivor-centered yoga with my inspiring friend Alexis Marbach who is also a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher in the Boston area. Additionally I will be offering trainings for yoga teachers who are interested in teaching from a trauma-informed perspective and working with survivors.

As far as resolutions and practices, my goal is to trust in this process and help others believe that we all are truly capable of anything we have ever dreamed for ourselves.

Thank you Zabie for sharing such a personal story and journey with us. To learn more about Zabie, her teachings, or to see what inspires her, visit her Facebook page and Pinterest boards on Pinterest!

Read "Zabie: Healer and Trauma Sensitive Yoga Instructor"

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jordan & Jocelyn: Authors of This Girl Walks Into A Bar

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Meet Jordan and Jocelyn, two sisters who are tantalizing taste buds around the world as authors, designers, and mixologists with their book This Girl Walks Into a Bar: A Women’s Guide to Professional Bartending and Home Mixology. We took some time to peak behind the bar and get quick tips, personal stories and ideas on what to put in your cup to keep you warm this holiday season and New Years Eve!

Hi Jordan and Jocelyn. To start, tell us a bit about yourselves and how you two got started?

My sister and I have always dreamed of running a company together. The dream began as kids when we played “office” in the car during a cross-country family trip from San Diego to Montreal. As adults, after we both settled in Los Angeles, it was just a matter of time before we’d find something to collaborate on.

When Jordan started writing the book, This Girl Walks Into a Bar: A Women’s Guide to Professional Bartending and Home Mixology, we decided that with my professional graphic design background, it would be the perfect opportunity to join forces. That led to the launch of our company, and cocktail and mixology lifestyle blog. I design and help edit the books, maintain our site’s brand image and create all artwork for our website and product lines. Jordan blogs daily for us, and contributes her expertise to various sites including Answers.com, and BevMo!’s Thirsty Times. We launched our recipe app Drink It! for ipads this year, and continue to add content regularly. We’re also currently in the final phase for our next book This Girl Minds Her P’s & Q’s: A Handbook for Etiquette in the Home, Restaurant, and Bar.

What was the inspiration behind your books?

Our first book, This Girl Walks Into a Bar: A Women’s Guide to Professional Bartending and Home Mixology arose from Jordan’s experience as a bartender. Customers were fascinated with what went on behind the bar, and how she got into bartending. Because there was a limited female voice in bartending and mixology at the time, writing a book that included tips of the trade, insider information, and personal stories seemed to fill a void. We were overwhelmed by the many cocktail recipe books already on shelves that included hundreds of recipes, so we included just the 100 most popular cocktails, and set them up as flashcards so you can quiz yourself to learn the basics.

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How has it been working together with each other as siblings?

We are best friends, and both bring two different skills to the table, so our working dynamic is balanced. Fortunately we are not competitive (with each other anyway…) and both are driven at similar levels, so the partnership works well!

What are some of your favorite drinks?

For New Years Eve:

Poinsettia Champagne Cocktail

Lillet Blanc Cocktails

In general:

Margaritas (how to video)

Pomegranate Tequila Cocktail

Bloody Mary

We caught your holiday cocktail boards! Any recommendations for new holiday drinks to try this season?

One of our recent posts on our blog was a recipe for mulled wine. Although this is not an original recipe, it’s something you have to try and is perfect for the holidays, especially served warm. For something original and new, the Peppermint Patty cocktail is delicious and festive for entertaining.

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How do you two use Pinterest?

We each have our own personal Pinterest boards that we use for interior design, fashion, and art inspiration. But our This Girl Walks Into A Bar Pinterest boards are where we collect mixology inspiration (for visuals and for consumption), keep track of what’s on-trend in the cocktail world, connect with people who are interested in mixology, and gather ideas for product and blog posts. It brings me joy to curate boards, and I’m selective with the quality of photography I pin, and how the content relates to other items on a board.

What final advice do you have for people getting into mixology?

Don’t take mixing drinks too seriously. There is a wave of mixology snobs out there right now, and we don’t buy into that. Keep it simple! Use what’s currently in your cupboard to start, and purchase basic spirits and bar tools. Trial and error is the best way to teach yourself how to mix or create a cocktail. I learn something new every day from my sister, and it’s through her experimentation (good and bad) that unique and delicious recipes are created.

Thanks so much for sharing the This Girl Walks Into a Bar story with us! To see information about This Girl Walks Into a Bar, you can check out their website and boards on Pinterest.

Read "Jordan & Jocelyn: Authors of This Girl Walks Into A Bar"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pinterview with Papilles et Pupilles and Do It Yvette

Meet the ladies from Papilles et Pupilles and Do It Yvette, talented French bloggers who have a passion for making and cooking beautiful things. Read on for their tips and Pinterest inspirations.

Can you tell us a little about yourselves?

Papilles et Pupilles: My name is Anne and I live in Bordeaux in the southwest of France. I am married and have two children. I’ve been a food blogger for 9 years now and it’s now my full-time job. I share my recipes and tips on my blog and social networks. I try to answer the famous question: what’s for dinner tonight? :)

Outside of cooking, I love to travel and discover new people and new cultures.

Do It Yvette: We are 3 craft and DIY bloggers: Amélie, Laetitia and Marjorie. We first met online via our blogs and social media channels, and then quickly met in real life. Since the very beginning, we felt like we needed to work together on DIY projects, so that’s how Do It Yvette was born!

We first published a DIY book featuring craft projects inspired by our blogs and then quickly things got bigger. We started selling DIY kits, hosting craft workshops, and this year we launched a collective blog on graphic and web design to share all our tips on how to build and brand a successful blog.

Today, Do It Yvette promotes a do it yourself lifestyle, and gives people the keys to create things by themselves. For our next steps, we want to host training sessions on web design and blogging, and keep on working on other projects. We have so many ideas and never enough time to execute them!

What are your favorite cooking or crafting supplies?

Papilles et Pupilles: I can’t cook without good knives, and I must say that I also love my Kitchenaid. However, if I had to choose only one, I would say my Microplane grater. My best buy!

Do It Yvette: Since we like so many different aspects of craft, we love to mix materials and try new techniques. What’s great about DIY is the fact that you can improvise with really anything you find in your everyday life (like paper), but also build ambitious projects with materials such as gold leaves, leather or more advance skills like woodworking. We are truly passionate about craft and always feel the need to try new tools. If we were to put together all our crafting tools and materials, we could easily open a small DIY shop!

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Photo by Benoit Guenot

As creators in DIY and food, how has Pinterest been useful to you?

Papilles et Pupilles: Pinterest inspires me in many ways. First of all, it gives me inspiration to create new recipes. I like to look at Pins and discover new flavors and ingredients. It’s like an addiction. You start, and a few hours later, you’re still there! It also gives me inspiration for food styling. I discover new trends and it’s really fun.

Do It Yvette: Pinterest has really changed the way we gather inspiration. We used to save interesting links in our bookmarks or save images on our hard drive. It was messy and often we weren’t able to remember the source or even where we saved that image! Now with Pinterest, we can definitely be more efficient in our way to sort inspirational images. It’s easy and fun, but it’s also a new approach in finding inspiration. We discover amazing new blogs and artists from Pins all around the world.

When we work on a new project, we now naturally go on Pinterest to find inspiration. The quality of content is much better than looking with a regular browser. And of course, Pinterest is a great promotional tool for our blog and business!

Tell us about one of your favorite boards and why it inspires you!

Papilles et Pupilles: Well except for recipes, it may be my board about Bordeaux, the city where I live. I never get tired of sharing beautiful images of Bordeaux (the city, the vineyards etc.) It’s a pleasure to share them with Pinners from all over the world.

Do It Yvette: Because winter is coming, we like our DIY inspiration and tutorials board filled with natural materials. It seems appropriate!

Everyday, you inspire those around you to create beautiful projects or cook delicious meals. What’s one Pinterest tip you could share?

Papilles et Pupilles: Pay attention to what kind of boards you want to create, like architecture, seasons, colors, ingredients or meals. Create your boards then then go, go, go and enjoy!

Do It Yvette: The best advice we could give on how to use Pinterest is to, well use it! Start creating some boards and fill them with Pins. You’ll then discover new Pins to add to your boards. Be curious! Take a look at other boards and Pinners to follow, then little by little, people will start following you back.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! To see more from Papilles et Pupilles, come see her blog and boards. To see more from Do It Yvette, you can visit their blog and boards.

Français

Rencontre avec les filles de Papilles et Pupilles et Do It Yvette, talentueuses blogueuses françaises passionnées de cuisine et de création DIY. Découvrez leurs conseils et leurs sources d’inspirations sur Pinterest.

Pour commencer, parlez-nous un peu de vous !

Papilles et Pupilles: Je m’appelle Anne, j’habite Bordeaux dans le Sud ouest de la France, je suis mariée et j’ai deux enfants. Je suis blogueuse culinaire depuis 9 ans et c’est devenu mon travail à temps plein. Je partage mes recettes et mes astuces sur mon blog et les réseaux sociaux et j’essaie de répondre pour vous à la célèbre question : Mais qu’est ce qu’on mange ce soir. En dehors de la cuisine, j’adore voyager, faire des rencontres et découvrir de nouvelles cultures.

Do It Yvette: Nous sommes 3 bloggueuses passionnées de création et de DIY: Amélie, Laetitia et Marjorie. Le courant est très vite passé entre nous, que ce soit “virtuellement” ou dans la vraie vie, et nous avons eu envie de travailler ensemble sur des projets autour du DIY: c’est ainsi que Do It Yvette est né ! Au départ nous voulions juste regrouper nos tutoriaux de blog dans un vrai livre papier et de fil en aiguille, nous avons vendus des kits créatifs, animé des ateliers, et lancé un blog autour de la création numérique, pour distiller de bonnes astuces qu’on nous réclamait souvent. Aujourd’hui Do It Yvette est une association, à travers laquelle nous essayons de promouvoir le Do It Yourself, et de donner aux gens les moyens de créer par eux-mêmes. Prochaine étape ? Des formations que nous souhaitons mettre en place l’année prochaine, tout en continuant à développer d’autres projets. Nous avons beaucoup d’idées, mais malheureusement pas assez de temps !

Quelles sont les matières ou ingrédients que vous préférez pour créer ou cuisiner ?

Papilles et Pupilles: Je ne sais pas cuisiner sans de bons couteaux et je dois dire que j’adore aussi mon Kitchenaid. Toutefois, si je ne devais en choisir qu’un, je dirai ma râpe Microplane, mon meilleur achat.

Do It Yvette: En bonnes touche-à-tout, on adore mélanger les matières et essayer de nouvelles techniques. Ce qui est génial avec le DIY, c’est qu’on peut aussi bien improviser avec ce que l’on a sous la main, et donc des matériaux de tous les jours, comme le papier, mais aussi se lancer dans des projets plus ambitieux, avec des matières plus nobles telles que la feuille d’or, le cuir, ou des techniques plus avancées, pour le travail du bois par exemple. Et puis, comme c’est notre passion, on se laisse facilement tenter par un nouvel outil… si l’on devait rassembler toutes nos fournitures créatives, à nous trois nous aurions probablement de quoi ouvrir une petite échoppe !

En tant que créateurs dans l’univers du DIY et de la cuisine, en quoi Pinterest vous a été utile ?

Papilles et Pupilles: Pinterest m’inspire de plusieurs façons. D’abord cela me donne de l’inspiration pour créer de nouvelles recettes. J’aime voyager d’épingles and épingles pour découvrir de nouvelles saveurs, de nouveaux ingrédients. C’est comme une addiction. Vous commencez et quelques heures plus tard vous y êtes encore  ! Ensuite, cela me donne aussi de l’inspiration pour le stylisme culinaire. Je découvre de nouvelles tendances et c’est vraiment fun.

Do It Yvette: Pinterest a vraiment changé notre façon de nous inspirer au quotidien. Avant, nous conservions des liens dans nos bookmarks, des images dans des dossiers, dont on oubliait la source ou l’existence ou qu’il nous était impossible de retrouver ! Aujourd’hui, Pinterest nous permet d’avoir toutes nos inspirations sous la main, de les organiser, de les consulter régulièrement et avec plaisir. Mais c’est également une nouvelle source d’inspiration puisqu’on découvre régulièrement de nouveaux blogs et artistes du monde entier à travers les épingles.

Et lorsqu’on travaille sur un nouveau projet, on a désormais le réflexe pinterest: le contenu est plus qualitatif est ciblé qu’en cherchant avec un moteur de recherche.Enfin, on se rend compte que beaucoup de visites sur nos blogs respectifs viennent de Pinterest, c’est donc également un excellent outil de promotion !

Parlez-nous de l’un de vos tableaux préférés, pourquoi vous inspire-t-il ?

Papilles et Pupilles: Eh bien, excepté les recettes, peut être mon tableau sur Bordeaux, la ville où j’habite. J’adore partager de belles images de Bordeaux que ce soit la ville ou le vignoble. C’est un plaisir de partager avec les autres épingleurs du monde entier.

Do It Yvette: En ce moment avec l’arrivée de l’hiver, nous avons envie de choses très douces et végétales. Des projets DIY avec des matières naturelles semblent donc parfaits pour cette période de l’année !

Tous les jours vous inspirez les personnes autour de vous et les poussez à réaliser des projets ou à cuisiner de nouvelles recettes. Quel est le conseil que vous leur donneriez pour bien utiliser Pinterest ?

Papilles et Pupilles: Je conseillerai de faire attention aux tableaux que vous allez créer, à l’architecture : saisons, couleurs, ingrédients, repas ? Je pense que c’est plus facile à concevoir au début qu’après. Ensuite, foncez, épinglez et faites vous plaisir. !

Do It Yvette: Le meilleur conseil que l’on pourrait donner pour bien utiliser Pinterest est de… l’utiliser, justement ! Qui suivre, quels tableaux créer, comment les organiser… il ne faut pas se poser trop de questions, créez quelques tableaux et commencez à épingler ! Au fur et à mesure, l’organisation va s’imposer d’elle-même, et vous commencerez à prendre plaisir à trouver de nouveaux thèmes, reclasser vos épingles. Soyez curieux, consultez et suivez les boards suggérés par Pinterest à chaque épingle, pour enrichir votre compte, et vous verrez que d’autres personnes commenceront à vous suivre !

Un grand merci d’avoir partagé votre histoire avec nous ! Pour en savoir davantage sur Papilles et Pupilles, visitez son blog et jetez un oeil à ses tableaux. Pour en savoir davantage sur Do It Yvette, visitez leur blog et jetez un oeil à leurs tableaux.

Read "Pinterview with Papilles et Pupilles and Do It Yvette"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pinterview with the Little Free Library

Tomorrow is National Book Lovers Day—a day to celebrate reading and literature across the U.S. We took some time to pinterview Little Free Library, an organization focused on promoting literacy by building free book exchanges worldwide. Whether you’re looking for a new read or finishing off that paperback or hardcover, we hope you’ll be inspired to visit a little library near you.

To start, tell us about Little Free Library.

Little Free Library was started by Todd Bol of Hudson, WI and Rick Brooks of Madison, WI. Todd actually built the first Little Free Library in 2009 in memory of his mother who was a teacher. He did not mean to start a worldwide movement, but when he saw how his neighbors and community reacted to the Library, he knew he had a big idea on his hands. So he called up a longtime friend and associate, Rick Brooks, and together they started building and promoting Little Free Libraries. By 2012 there were about 400 Little Free Libraries, mainly in the U.S., and Little Free Library received its 501(c)(3) non-profit status in May of 2012. By May of 2013 there were over 7,000 Little Free Libraries around the world and that number continues to grow rapidly. For more background information, check out the About Us page of our website.

What are some of the most creative libraries you’ve seen?

We try to post the most creative and unique Little Free Libraries to Pinterest on a regular basis! There are Little Free Libraries shaped like rocket ships, barns, owls, robots and there are several that have geocaches hidden inside. There is an interactive Little Free Library in Cudahy, WI that is linked up to a phone application that allows people to hold their phone up to the Library and watch a video of how it was created. We just ran across this magnificent creation last week! We are continually amazed by the creativity of the Little Free Library community.

Any favorite reads at the moment? Top 5 favorite books?

Asking us to choose a favorite book is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child! But, in the interest of being a good sport, we really like Books In A Box: Lutie Stearns and the Traveling Libraries of Wisconsin by Stuart Stotts. We also like Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. We have thousands of other favorites, of course. :)

Tell us about your What Are You Reading? board—there are so many good books!

The What Are You Reading Board? is just a fun way to share good books. Lots of public libraries, publishing houses, authors and book-related organizations share their favorites on that board, so we thought it was a great resource for our Stewards and Fans.

Are there other libraries on Pinterest that you are inspired by?

We think the Kansas City Public Library is just beautiful as well as the Seattle Public Library. Also, we know this isn’t technically a real library, but the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast holds a special place in our hearts.

We’re so inspired by Little Free Library. How does one get started?

We are so honored by the worldwide, overwhelmingly enthusiastic response that Little Free Libraries have received. We encourage anyone and everyone to participate by going to our website: littefreelibrary.org. There is oodles of information about how to get started, photo galleries, Library models that you can purchase, tips for builders and much more. We have already reached 52 countries and we hope to one day see Little Free Libraries in every country around the world!

Thanks so much for sharing the Little Free Library story with us! To see information about the Little Free Library, you can check out their website and boards on Pinterest.

Read "Pinterview with the Little Free Library"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kirk & Eva Jorgensen: Founders of Sycamore Street Press

Kirk and Eva Jorgensen are the owners of Sycamore Street Press. Founded straight out of school and as a side business, their paper goods company has evolved into a full-time family business with stores around the world carrying their carefully crafted products. Read about how the pair got started and why they think traditional letterpress prints are still cherished by people today.

To start, can you tell us a little about yourselves?

Eva: I was born in Redondo Beach, California, and grew up as the bossy oldest child in a family of four. I now live in a small mountain town in Utah with my husband, Kirk, and our two children. (Still bossy. Working on it.) I have an MFA in Printmaking, I speak French, and I love to draw. In other words, I had no marketable skills, so upon graduation in 2007, I started a paper goods company called Sycamore Street Press. Kirk joined my little side business in 2009, and now it’s become the full-time family business. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do something I love with someone I love.

A few things I dislike: Strawberry milk, mustaches, and bookkeeping.

A few things I like: Fresh strawberries with cream, Belle & Sebastian, and Saturday field trips with Kirk and our kids.

Kirk: I was born in Groton, CT while my Dad was attending the Coast Guard Academy. I grew up listening to his stories of sailing and traveling all over the world. I have 5 brothers and sisters and we are all very close due to the frequent moves the CG required us to do. I have a MA in Slavic Linguistics and am a massive soccer fan.

A few things I dislike: Celery / hot weather

A few things I like: Scandinavian design / old punk music / traveling

How did you get drawn to letterpress and how did this interest evolve into Sycamore Street Press?

Eva: I studied art in college, and thought I would be focusing on painting. But when I got into the printshop — with its music blasting, presses clinking, and people busy and moving about, I fell in love with the community aspect of it. I also loved how printmaking seemed to walk a line between the graphic and fine arts. I honed in on letterpress because it personified this so well — having once been almost exclusively used for commercial print jobs like books and newspapers, and then being revived as an art form in universities and studios across the country.

You produce prints using a vintage, 1930s Vandercook #3 letterpress. Can you describe the process of printing on a half-ton machine?

Kirk: It’s a very labor-intensive and hands-on printing technique. Everything on our Vandercook is operated and powered by hand. From arranging the plates on the base to distributing ink, it requires the operator to be very detailed orientated. Because of this I feel strongly connected with this press and any new sounds or strange movements are immediately alarming. 

David Wolske, a printmaking professor, said that printmaking is problem solving. Almost every card or print I’ve printed on our press has required some extra tooling/make-ready/attention in order for everything to look and feel just right. That being said, once the registration is on and the ink is just right and the process is flowing, it’s a great feeling to feed a tall stack of paper and have the final product.

From the recycled paper to the inks you use, it’s clear the materials and craft of printing is very important to Sycamore Street Press: What do you think makes a letterpress piece so special or what is most rewarding to you about this process?

Kirk: People are appreciating letterpress more because it is has a real personal touch. Every print we pull on the press is going to be slightly different. There’s also the “old-world” charm of revitalizing and reinventing a trade that had so much cultural relevance.

Your Pinterest account has 70 boards! Which ones are your favorite and why?

Eva: That’s like being asked which one of my children is my favorite, ha ha. WANDERLUST is always a favorite, because I have a constant, nagging desire to explore, LIVING because I’ve been obsessed with interiors ever since I was a kid, and ROOFTOPS because I find them completely magical.

Besides the love for the technique of printing, what else is involved in your artistic process?

Eva: I’m always gathering inspiration — from books, travel, the online design world, nature, my children, movies, etc… It can often feel like I have to keep going fast, fast, fast in order to keep up, but it’s actually the way to get stuck in a rut. It helps me to slow down sometimes. Taking walks, having long open conversations with the Sycamore team, prayer and meditation… these kinds of things open up my way of thinking and lead to the most creative ideas — whether these ideas are for specific designs or for the direction of our company.

Finally, you have a board called CREATIVE BIZ, do you have any advice you’d offer to folks who want to start their own creative business?

Eva: Don’t get so caught up in the busy day to day that you forget the bigger picture. At least a couple of times a year, put aside some serious time to read, think, ask the tough questions, etc… We forgot to do this for a couple of years (!) and our business got into a rut. We were working hard that entire time, but forgetting to think critically and adapt to the changing times. Once we realized what was going on, we ended up making some dramatic but much needed changes. It’s been exciting since then… but I can’t help but wonder where we’d be if we’d hadn’t lost sight of the bigger picture in the first place. No use getting caught up in “what-if’s” though… always moving forward!

Thanks so much for sharing the Sycamore Street Press story with us! To see more great prints and products from Sycamore Street Press, you can check out their website, blog and boards on Pinterest.

Read "Kirk & Eva Jorgensen: Founders of Sycamore Street Press"