Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Box Battle: October 2014

Okay so I'm a little behind on posting this, but here's the haul I got from my October subscription boxes. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a very cat-centric month! As of right now, the monthly contenders are BirchboxOlive BoxLoot CrateBox of Happies, and Ipsy.

Click for larger 


OliveBox: It's like the know me... a feline-themed box? Yes, please! This box included some kitty wrapping paper, which I will definitely use cause I love gift wrap. The card is cute, but what I really love are the little wooden cat clothespins. I've got them pinned up in my office.

Birchbox: So the leave-in conditioner is nice, because sometimes I don't always condition, but the smell... I'm pretty sure I had a scented My Little Pony that smelled like that. The Suki exfoliating foam cleanser I might use (translate as "lazy") and the Tocca hand cream smells nice. But I do like the Lumesh lip gloss — it's a pretty color and its tiny size is perfect for keeping in one of my clutch purses. Lastly, the sampler Coastal Scents eye shadow is a nice neutral palette. I also realized that all of these things are perfect travel size, so a few of them came to Baltimore with me.

Ipsy: Love the pouch this month; cute color and definitely one that I could use as a little clutch. The lipstick is a nice neutral shade, though it's matte which I'm not a huge fan of. The mascara is okay, but it isn't waterproof. Another hand creme for this month, but I like this Figs & Rouge one better than the Tocca in Birchbox because it's a fun fruity smell. The items I've gotten the most use out of this month are the H2Glo Highlighter cream and the Skyn Iceland face cleansing cloths. Definitely another strong month for Ipsy.

LootCrate: This month's theme was "Fear." Inside were a variety of Walking Dead items and some zombie bite tattoos, a book on How To Survive a Sharknado (and other unnatural disasters), and a sledgesaw hammer pen (which I gave to my husband). But the shining star in the crate was the kitten skull t-shirt. Loved it! My only qualm was that I really wished it glowed in the dark.

Box of Happies: Not necessarily one of the happiest boxes I've received so far. There was a handmade key fob, and honestly I didn't even know what it was or what its purpose was. The Dancin' Goat facial care sample pack is not really my cup of tea (as we've discovered with Birchbox), and some of it smelled a little funky. I did, however, enjoy the jewelry this month. While the Someday Soon peach-colored flower earrings are something I could easily make myself, the gold earrings and tassel necklace are a nice little addition to my collection and something I will definitely wear.


So I temporarily subscribed to because I wanted to see what sort of goodies I could get for the kitties. Needless to say, fun ensued. The October box contained a couple of different cat treats and catnip toys, and, most importantly, AN INFLATABLE UNICORN HORN.

I had barely even opened the box before they were all over it. Catnip-scented tissue paper is the next big thing, apparently.

First we tried the treats (and by we, I mean them). All 3 were a fan of the Feline Harvest Dental Treats, but the girls were not fond of the Cloud 9 ones. But Boo-bear had no problem consuming all of them (which he then promptly threw up, so, that was nice).

Next came the catnip toys. I love how each of my feline companions has a different reaction to catnip. Kiki (the gray) is a licker, while Monkey (tortoiseshell) and Boo-Bear (fattie) like to lick and rub their faces in it.

Ugh, so far away...
Just can't...
Got it!

Finally, came the unicorn horn. I gotta tell you... it took me FOREVER to blow that little thing up. It kept deflating as soon as I let go to put the stopper in it. Like, 10 minutes of frustrated horn blowing went by and then my husband comes in and 5 seconds later.... done. Whatever. Anyway, as you can tell by the expressions below, the cats absolutely loved their fabulous new horn.

And the gold star goes to...

MeowBox. I gotta give it to them just because it allowed me some amusement with my cats. Ispy also came through really well and OliveBox made me do a little happy dance. Overall, I was very happy with my October goodies.

And so were the cats.

Plus-sized kitty problems.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Box Battle: September 2014

Okay, so I sort of have this addiction to subscription boxes... an illness for which there is no cure. There are tons of box review sites out there reviewing individual boxes each month, or comparing one box to another. Instead, I'm going to present my monthly haul in more of a battle royale style... because all of these box subcsciptions are ultimately competing for the same thing...


Or, more specifically, my continued commitment to maintaining my subscription.

One box has already bit the dust (sorry, Dottie Box... you just weren't doin' it for me).

So, each month, I will (try to) post a photo of all the stuff I got and tell you which box gets the gold star for the month. As of right now, the monthly contenders are Birchbox, Olive Box, Loot Crate, Box of Happies, and Ipsy.

Now onto September...

Click for larger (sorry about the crappy photo...)


Birchbox: It seems like all I get from Birch is sunscreen and hair products... Neither of which I use with any regularity. I did use the shampoo and conditioner this morning though. It was ok... nothing I was excited about. Also in the box was a Pixie lip balm which was alright. The item I actually liked the most was the Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy perfume sample.

Olive Box: The cards were cute, but I really liked the the set of Rifle Paper Co. journals. The little "You Are Loved" stickers got some use... gave out a few to co-workers and hid one in my husbands' ipad case.

Loot Crate: Okay... I knew they were doing a "Galactic" sci-fi theme, and then I learned that there would be an Alien item... and I got REALLY excited. However, I was very disappointed when my Alien item turned out to be a Dallas action figure. LAME. The tribble and Mal vinyl were a saving grace however. The Pop Rocks didn't even last 2 minutes.

Box of Happies: Eh... this month was okay. The silver necklace was cute, but the earrings aren't really my style. The ring I could have made myself. Bottle opener key chain probably won't use. Cupcake flags... eh, I'll find something to use them on at some point.

Ipsy: Loved the makeup bag (think I'll add a short black chain and turn it into a clutch). The double-end eyeshadow brush was really great, and I loved the purple eyeshadow. Lip gloss not usually a color that I wear, but I like that it's neutral. Brown eyeliner pencil is a plus. There was some hair treatment stuff too, but I gave that away.


Occasionally I might get my hands on an extra box. This month we were sent a Bark Box at Orlando Magazine for review. It was their June or July box, but it was still fun to see what was in it. The shining star in this box was that pink squid. I fought off all the other staff to keep it. No, I didn't give it to my dog... are you kidding? LOOK AT IT! It now has a place on my office bookshelf next to my sperm whale bookends.

And the gold star goes to...

Ipsy. But barely. Honestly, if Loot Crate hadn't been such a disappointment Alien-wise, it would have gone to them. It was almost kind of a draw. But Loot doesn't have much to worry about. They've more or less gotten the gold star for the last 2 months. But congratulations Ipsy... you've earned my continued subscription.

Till next month, friends...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Making Orlando Magazine: Best of Orlando 2014

Cover for Best of Orlando 2014
Making the Best of Orlando issue was probably one of the most extensive projects I have worked on to date. A lot of planning, prep and design work went into bringing this issue to life. It's a process that actually starts WAY in advance (and I'm talking around, oh, February or so when voting begins). Once votes are tallied, we have to start thinking about the issue, the theme, and how we're going to approach the visuals...

Some time back, our former Creative Director, Jenifer Kresge, and I began brainstorming about the theme. We were both inspired by a Best-Of issue from Hour magazine involving a very elaborate circus concept, and loved how the photography and theme was carried throughout. Knowing we wanted to do something more colorful and conceptual than our Best Of from last year, we began researching possibilities. But, where in Orlando could we find an appropriate venue, let alone the variety of performers and types of acts that were needed? I immediately thought of Treasure Tavern.

Treasure Tavern is a variety dinner show with a pirate/vaudeville-ish theme that's located adjacent to the Pirate Dinner Adventure on I-Drive. The show includes everything from acrobats to magicians, poodle performers and more. They rotate their acts every so often, so you'll get to see something new each time. I had the pleasure of seeing the show some time ago (thanks, Groupon) and I remembered that they not only had a great stage setting but a colorful, diverse cast and props as well.

Treasure Tavern were more than receptive to being featured and open to just about anything we wanted to do. They invited a few of us down to see the current show so we could get a better feel of what they could offer in terms of performers and set. Needless to say, I took a LOT of notes that night and had a ton of ideas by the time the show was over.

I sat down for some creative brainstorming with the Editor and Photographer and we determined what types of shots we wanted to do. The Best-Of list is comprised of several master categories and a slew of award categories, so we tried to theme most of the shots based on those list items. Our goal was to have at least 1-2 shots encompassing each master category, and if there was time and room on the page, secondary shots as well.

Click here to see a PDF of the schedule.
With a general shot list in mind, I began drafting the schedule and call sheet. Let me just say that this was one of the most complex schedules that I have had to put together in a long time. I haven't had to organize anything this complicated since my film school days at Valencia. The day had to be pretty planned out so that certain cast members were able to be released when we were done with them. Each shot also had to have detailed listings of props, set dress, and so forth. It's good to have a least some sort of visual in mind, including what orientation you want the scene shot in, but it's important to remember that not everything is going to go as planned. No matter how well-planned the schedule and shots are, there is always going to be some improvising the day of.

Opening spread featuring the entire cast
The day of the shoot went extremely well. We were a bit delayed getting started, but that sort of thing should always be expected. The entire Treasure Tavern cast and corporate employees were extremely accommodating (lunch was AMAZING... best photo shoot lunch I have ever had). Todd Feren, the production manager who also plays Robb, had lots of great ideas and it was a very enjoyable, collaborative experience. We even had time to take lots of fun, secondary shots, which ended up being much needed in the layout. Again, those weren't planned, and it's the type of collaboration and improvisation that just naturally happens on a shoot. Overall, it was one of the most fun shoots that I have been on (and a record-breaking day for "that's what she said" jokes).

For the design of the issue, I was really inspired by some old vaudeville playbills that I saw on Pinterest. I used an aged paper background to give it a slight vintage look, accompanied by tall, skinny type, accented with red banners. For the photos, we didn't have to do a ton of editing; I mainly just darkened the stage so the scuff marks weren't so prominent. The photographer always does some minor edits and fixes before they are delivered to art.

I had wanted to do something different with the text, rather than the typical list approach. It was definitely one of the more ambitious layouts that I've done; each award was in its own text container and had to be manipulated independently of the others. On one hand, it made edits easy, but just getting everything to fit in the first place felt like it took FOREVER. Overall it took me about 3 full days, give or take. I would have loved to have spent more time customizing and texturizing the type, but I quite literally ran out of time. Deadlines, ya know?

You can see the full feature in my Behance portfolio. Be sure to pick up a copy on newsstands at most Publix's and Barnes & Nobel's between now and the end of August. You can also download the complete digital issue for only $.99, viewable on desktop and mobile devices.

And check out our quickie promo video below, shot by our photography intern, Danielle Tauffer, and edited by former Orlando magazine intern and Valencia alum, Fred Mullins.