I know, we’re already almost a week in to 2014 and I’m going way back to 2013 and talking about it, again! Sheesh! But, bear with me as I had to give it one last little nod. I’ve officially deemed 2013 “The Year That Threw Me For a Loop!” In the best of ways, and the worst of ways, mind you. 2013 will always be remembered, in my mind, as a turning point for Studio DIY (huge, huge! overwhelming growth) and as the year we got engaged! Unfortunately, 2013 also brought about some medical challenges for both my family, and that “overwhelming” growth? Yeah, that meant many sleepless nights and our apartment looking like a party war zone 24-7. I’ll touch a bit on everything in this post, while sharing the tippy top posts of 2013 (You guys love balloons!), some hilarious (or terrifying?) behind the scenes shots, and a little bit about what I’ve got cookin’ for 2014, too!
Most Popular Posts of 2013!
(Says Pinterest + Google Analytics, unscientifically combined to make this list! And there are six because I love all six and didn’t want to pick just five.)
Ornament Balloon Photo by Mary Costa Photography, All Other Photos by Studio DIY
1. Giant Crepe Paper Roses: I was asked to make these for a Martha Stewart and Jurlique collaboration and decided, on a whim, to share my results here. And BAM! You guys lost your minds, pinned the heck out of them, and they became my most popular post of the year.
2. Confetti Dipped Balloons: I posted this project after my site had been down for a few days thanks to a server crash. I scheduled the post, then went into a day of meetings on a business trip to SLC. By the time I had a chance to check in that evening, they had already been pinned 16,000 times and you guys were going confetti balloon CRAZY! Now they’ve been pinned over 63,000 times, coming in just short of the roses.
3. Balloon Surprise Box: I’ll always remember this post as the first post of mine featured on Buzzfeed. It exploded my traffic and I got so excited! I also think it is the best idea EVER (Sorry, does that sound self centered? I just really want to receive a box of balloons some day.), so I have a few ideas up my sleeve this year for re-inventing it.
4. Conversation Heart Cakes: I think conversation heart crafts are my most fave (Can’t wait to get some of ’em going for Valentine’s Day!), and apparently you like your conversation hearts in cake form. I knew I liked you guys.
5. DIY Giant Ornament Balloons: Goodness! Despite being posted less than a month ago, this clocked in as my 5th most trafficked project of the year! Cracks me up considering how spontaneous this whole project was, sneaking it in after our big Martha party. But man, I do love these so.
6. Donut Balloons: 2013 was also the year of the donut. I think I’ve determined that you guys are the most vocal about the donut projects. The numbers may say that you like confetti balloons and roses, but the tweets, comments and re-grams say WE LOVE DONUTS. Don’t worry, donuts aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So we can all continue this love affair together. I won’t play favorites, but I’m totally playing favorites, and saying that this was probably my most favorite project of the year. (Don’t tell the other ones!)
Perhaps I should just become a balloon blog, eh? Ha! I wouldn’t complain about that.
When you take 8 zillion photos of yourself and balloons outdoors, amongst the general public and all the elements, there’s bound to be a few winning outtakes. I actually get a lot of questions like “Do you really stand outside wearing a giant cake costume?” Yep. “Do people give you weird looks?” Yep. Though, I live in LA, where people photographing, modeling and doing other, shall we say, “bizarre” things on the street is quite normal. Here’s a few of the real star outtakes. Now I’ll just hope these don’t start circulating Pinterest, especially the one right below… where I look like a flower-crown-holding mobster.
I feel like I should be in an alley way, facing off with some other crown-yielding mobster with this face.
Cropped that car right outta this one! This is a wall we often shoot in front of, and Jeff stands in the middle of the street to get the shot, dependent on me to warn him of oncoming traffic. It’s a hazardous job, folks. Luckily it’s a pretty high priority of mine to keep him alive.
That time a donut balloon made a run for it.
There was no stopping it. While I DO NOT support letting balloons loose for environmental reasons, I couldn’t help but laugh about what the people who saw this floating around LA thought. It’s not every day that you see a donut soaring through the sky.
As recently evidenced on Instagram… I like to dance. And I do so between shots. Or, during shots, in this case. Pineapples were another big theme this year and I had SO MUCH FUN creating a bunch of pineapple DIYs. They may stick around for 2014 too.
Behind the Scenes
Everything on this blog always looks pretty put together. I try really hard to style and take the perfect shot. But what you don’t see is the pure INSANITY behind the camera. I wanted to keep it real here today, so I’m showing it all! Now run, screaming, away from the computer because the pure MESS that is behind the camera is hurting your eyes! Don’t worry, it hurts mine too. And this isn’t even the worst of it. But that’s what we call life folks, and it explains one of the 2014 plans I’ll discuss below.
How many Studio DIY projects can you spy in this picture? I spy five.
I was recruited to help with a photo background for an international store opening. When you must make a 5′ x 8′ background, there’s only one place for it to go… on your curtain rod.
Sometimes I get so crazed that I don’t clean up one project before starting another. (Ok, all the time.) This was the end of my honeycomb backdrop, and my test run for my giant balloon 2014. (p.s. Do you like how the donut and heart piñatas have photo bombed three photos already?)
Another example of not cleaning up before starting a new project. Leftover confetti wands from this shoot, peonies from this one and a whole lot of sprinkles thrown in there too!
Sometimes you hand off the cake for your shoot to the photo studio rep and he slams it in a too-small fridge. Then Leah comes to your rescue and fixes it right up. Bet ya couldn’t tell it was once smooshed, eh?
And Just a Few More Things
I’ve already gushed and gushed about how thankful I am for how much love you have all shown Studio DIY in 2013, so I won’t bore you with my sappy “I LOVE YOU GUYS!” talk any longer. But there is one thing I wanted to address, a not-as-fun theme that seemed to stick around for 2013. As Studio DIY started getting featured on bigger sites, and pinned by the biggest of pinners, the nasty comments came out. It happens to everyone, and that’s why they tell you not to read the comments. But I’m glad I did, because I saw a bunch of readers stick up for me and well, shoot. You guys rock. So I figured I should share a little something with you so you know just how much you’re sticking up for!
What are these comments you ask? Well, they’re about my weight. If you haven’t noticed, yes, I am very skinny. I know it, and apparently the world knows it too! I’ve been accused of not eating, having an eating disorder, and even photoshopping my body because “nobody’s legs really look like that.” Welp, none of the above are true dudes! And here’s why. (And I’m sharing this because I want to, because I want to be open and honest with you guys, not because I feel I need to prove anything to these anonymous Internet trolls!) Ready? When I was 13, I was diagnosed with a rare form (for children) of stomach cancer. It eventually led to a total gastrectomy. For those of you that don’t speak doctor, that means I don’t have a stomach. At all. Think of it like extreme gastric bypass surgery, but not for weight reasons. I am happy to report that I am 11 years and counting cancer free now, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lingering effects from my major surgery. Essentially, it’s near impossible for me to gain a significant amount of weight. I can only eat a very small amount at a time, and my body doesn’t absorb nutrients like a normal body does. I have very weird sensitivities to bizarre foods (So, if you’re ever with me at a conference or somewhere where I don’t get to screen the food and you wonder why I’m not eating. It’s probably because I can’t eat one of the ingredients on the plate, not because I don’t eat at all!) So, other than if I’m lucky enough to ever be pregnant, I’ll probably always be around this weight. If you’ve wondered how my Instagram is filled with donuts and macarons and how I remain so skinny, I guess you can say that’s just the one “perk” of this whole ordeal. Though I also suffer from frequent episodes of nausea and pain too, so.. you win some you lose some! Honestly, I feel extra extra lucky that you guys have supported Studio DIY and allowed me to be self-employed because it means if I’m having a bad day, I can grab my laptop and work from the couch. Having a limited number of “sick days” at a 9-5 job just wouldn’t work for me and I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with that.
And for those of you that have been following my recent medical battles, they are indirectly related to lasting effects from my big surgery. In October, I was hospitalized for severe anemia. That’s because my body can’t absorb iron! Luckily, we’ve got that under control now with IV iron treatments that I’ll get every few months for the rest of my life. (Hey, it could be worse!) They discovered the anemia when I went to the ER with severe chest pains after a rough plane flight. Turns out I also had a minor pneumothorax (aka a collapsed lung), something tall and very skinny people are prone to. After a relapse of that in November, they decided to do surgery in hopes of preventing future problems and that is why I was in the hospital again over Christmas. I’m out of the hospital now and healing slowly, but it didn’t stop me from dancing this weekend!
Phew! Are you still here? I promise the parties and confetti will return real soon. But I thought, after all of your well wishes while I was in the hospital, and after you fought back against the trolls of the Internet accusing me of things that just weren’t true, that you all deserved a little background! Quite frankly, I also have my whole cancer story to thank for this career of mine. It was when I was out of school for nearly a year, stuck at home and BORED, that I picked up a sketch book and started getting in to design, realizing my longtime passion for crafting and creating could actually make me money some day. Everything happens for a reason right?
And on to 2014!
Photo by Mary Costa Photography
Now that THAT is out of the way, let’s talk about 2014, shall we!? If one thing is for sure, I never really know what a year will bring. But I can tell you a few things I’m thinking about and working on!
1. Our Wedding!! Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a wedding blog. But! I am going to share a bit about our wedding plans here, maybe once a month or so. Look out for the first installment soon!
2. New Series! Remember that time, way back when, that I got your opinions on some new series ideas? And then I didn’t do anything with them. Yeah, me too. Well, 2014 is the year! I’m hoping to get a DIY date night series going, a cake decorating series going and a few other things too. WOOHOO!
3. A Real Life Studio! As evidenced above, Studio DIY needs a space of it’s own. A tiny one bedroom apartment can only take so many giant piñatas! So in 2014 I’m taking the steps to get the space I need, whether it’s a separate studio, or a separate workspace in a new home.
4. Sponsors! I was lucky to work with so many AMAZING sponsors in 2013, and I plan to continue working with sponsors who fit the Studio DIY brand. I really, truly enjoy working with these brands because they help me bring content that I love to life! It goes without saying that every brand I work with is one I love, and every sponsored post I do is something I would post whether I was paid for it or not! I already told you about my exciting partnership with Balloon Time (Did you know that all came to be because of a Twitter conversation!? Social media RULES!), I have two pretty ridiculously amazing (secret-for-now) projects in the works, and I have my sights set on some other great partners too!
5. Conferences + The Like! It’s about time I officially say it, but I will no longer be attending Alt Summit this year. SAD!!!! Because of my lung surgery, I’m not allowed to fly or go to high altitudes for a bit, and that kind of knocks SLC right out, doesn’t it!? But! I will be speaking (My first speaking gig!) at Craftcation in April which I’m really excited about!
And that officially ends my longest post of all time. From here on out we’ll go back to our typical photo:word ratio! Ha! Thanks for sticking with me, for supporting Studio DIY, and for (hopefully) being PSYCHED about 2014! If you have any questions for me about anything I discussed here, ask away in the comments below! I’m an open book: medical, behind the scenes, 2014 plans. Ask away!