Kristine Cook Designs...color blocking at its best!

One of my absolute favourite dresses from all of the pieces that Kristine Cook Designs created for me this year fro BlogHer'13 was my color block dress.

I went to her with the idea of using some of the really trendy Pantone colors of 2013, Mykonos Blue and Emerald, to do a funky color block dress.

This is what she created

I absolutely love how it accentuated my tiny little waist and how Kristine tied everything together with the wide stretchy black belt, which mirrored the styling of the hem, sleeves and neck.

When we got to the hemline, I actually asked Kristine to raise it a little...then a little more. I feel so stinking sexy and this dress really made me embrace my new body shape and every curve that I have.

On the back is an exposed zipper, and I think it adds such a funky flair to the already striking design!

How do you rock the color blocking trend?


Fly DIY Party at BlogHer13

Squee!!! The big day is here!! The day that Shannon and I have been planning for the past few months, many of which have been in secret!

It's FLY DIY Party Day at the Sheraton in Chicago!!

What can attendees expect? Well, aside from yummy food and delicious drinks, our party goers can expect a spacious suit with three different DIY stations where Bloggers can get hands on and take something home

First, there's a DIY wine glass station where you can decorate your own polycarbonate wine glass using glass markers, stencils and paints!

Second, there will be a business card holder DIY station with loads of DecoArt projects to test and try! These fabric business card holders have been handmade by Vanessa of Baily Belle exclusively for the #FlyDIY party!

Third, there's a collaborative mural station where bloggers can draw, paint, write notes of inspiration. This mural will be donated to a charity in Chicago as our way of saying thank you for hosting all of us for the weekend!

Come and join us after the Voices of the Year Reception from 9pm-12am and get crafty with your bad self!


Taking in the Sights of Chicago

Just a little shout out today. I'm actually in Chicago soaking up the city and enjoying some downtime before BlogHer really gets going tomorrow afternoon.

What am I excited to see in Chicago?

Cloud Gate aka The Bean, Millennium Park

Nichola Bridgeway

The Art Institute of Chicago

Navy Pier

And yes, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be going on those swings! See you Monday!


BlogHer13 Anticipation: Ode to my Roomie

It wouldn't be a summer without BlogHer and getting to see my bloggy-bff, Shannon from Baby Shmizz.

We had an absolutely blast last year in NYC and I am OVER THE MOON filled with excitement that I get to see her...tomorrow!!

My how a year has changed us both. Our friendship has grown and grown, our hair has gotten shorter, our businesses have grown and we've made sure to stay in touch about life events.

I still remember the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. I sat feeling helpless in Southwestern Ontario while my friend and her family were in the thick of it in Boston. I remember frantically texting her to make sure that she Mike and Jack were okay and breathed such a sigh of relief upon hearing that they were allright.

I am also very fortunate to have been able to plan the DIY Party with her for the BlogHer13 Official Party Plan over the past few months. From the moment that we got the email, to a frantic call to her on her cell phone {with LOTS of squealing}, to secret Pinterest boards and cross-continent craft sessions via text...planning this event has been amazing! I am so excxited to have it all come together in Chicago at the end of the week!

Friends like Shannon don't come around often and I am so thankful that she is one of mine!


BlogHer13 Anticipation

To say that I am excited is a complete understatement.


All of the above! And what is even more amazing is to have been spending the last few months with Shannon planning our DIY Party for Friday night at the Sheraton.

Our DIY Suite is going to be overflowing with creativity, color, fun finger foods and we are truly hoping that attendees leave with a sense of inspiration.

One element that Shannon and I were really excited about is the mural station.

Stencils, paints, markers and canvas. Bloggers will be able to draw and write inspirational messages on one huge mural, which will then be donated to a local charity.

Last year, Shannon and I left NYC thinking we should have done more to say thank you then came up with the mural concept as a way for BlogHer attendees to say thank you to the host city. We can leave a positive imprint, we can inspire and we can create. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to come together as a community, so why not!?


Fashionista Friday: Kristine Cook Designs custom maxi dress

A few months ago, I asked London, Ontario fashion designer Kristine Cook if she could design and create for me a maxi dress that would be flowing....flattering...and in my proportions.

You see, I am 5'2" which means that a lot of those cute maxi dresses out there on the market just do not fit and are always hit my body at the wrong spot.

What she designed was amazing, and I am thrilled to show it to you today.

From the first sketch, to the completion of the dress, I was in love. It fit, it flowed and it was flattering.

This is going to be my day look for the Saturday at BlogHer'13. It's so super comfy, yet incredibly girly and I really feel as though it showcases who I am as an artist, a blogger and a woman all in one piece. Paired with silver and white gladiator sandals, my aluminum Ron Ostlund Jr. hammered cuff bracelet and a sparkly silver boho headband from Alice in Bloom and it is absolutely perfect!

How do you wear your maxi dress?


10 Days until Fly DIY!

Ten days. TEN! To say that we are jumping out of our skin would be the understatement of the year.

Checking off our to-do list with such joy...

Decor and DIY projects
Food and drink selections
Organizing the make-and-take stations

It may only be three categories, but holy moly! Each has a drop down list of projects and details. We want to make this party as perfect as possible for you all!

Have you grabbed the button for your blog yet?

If you've grabbed the button and are super pumped like we are, let me know in the comments so we can be on the look out for ya!


The Finishing Touches; Making your marketing materials pop!

With just a week and a half to BlogHer'13, I wanted to talk about the finishing touches that TPH Canada has helped me with for the conference; my marketing materials.

Your marketing materials, no matter what printed format you choose, say a lot about you as a person and you as a business. Yes, blogging is a business. Do you show who you truly are, or just give out the contact information and hope that is enough?

When I talked to the lovely Britt at TPH, we both agreed on one thing: these promotional cards needed to be amazing.

And they are

They are completely reflective of the blog, and of me as an artist. They have beautiful photos a consistent message and they arrived within just TWO DAYS of placing my official order with The Printing House.

What I love most is that when I showed the layouts to my team at TPH, they gave me glowing feedback. When you see "these look so awesome!" from our printer, you know you've done a great job, and have really captured the essence of who you are on a printed card.

I cannot wait to hand these out at the conference!!

What do your business cards, flyers, and postcards say about who you are as the face of your brand?

Disclaimer: The Printing House has provided me with business cards and postcards, in return for blogging about their products and services. All views and opinions expressed are my own.


Tips for BlogHer13 Attendees

There seem to be a tonne of posts going around about how to prepare for BlogHer13 in Chicago, including but not limited to...

What to pack
How to create your bio or media card
What companies to reach out to for sponsorship
How to conduct yourself
What parties are the best
How to get invited to private parties

And so on, and so forth. While I could certainly touch on each of those subjects and shed some light on them from someone who has found that attending BlogHer in NYC opened a tonne of doors for, I only have one tip for you.

Be you.

Sweet and simple. Be who you are. If you are a fashion and trend blogger, be that person. If you are a foodie, be that person.

Embody your blog.

For me, that means being on trend, having confidence and letting my funky, artsy attitude shine. It means custom clothes, it means heels, it means big curls...funky accessories...even a hand painted dress.

But, that's me. Certainly, the same wouldn't necessarily work for {just an example} a travel blogger who blogs specifically about the Mediterranean {unless that were their style, and then, all means!}

I guess what I mean to say is just be who you are, and know that people will love you. People will be intrigued by your authenticity and will genuinely want to get to know who you are. Sure, it's overwhelming and for a first-timer even a little scary, but I promise you that it will be a much more enjoyable experience when you let down your guard, let go of the fear, and are true to yourself and your blog.

See you in a few weeks!


Creating a Gorgeous Food Table for the Fly DIY Party at BlogHer'13

As you all know, Shizz and I go a little overboard when we are planning our parties {bridal showers and birthday parties}, so when it came down to selecting appetizers and signature drinks for the Fly DIY Party at BlogHer'13, we knew that it had to be outstanding.

Appetizers by the Sheraton Chicago will be fabulous. The selections on both their hot and cold menus are incredible, and we cannot wait to taste their creations! The food table will be adorned with custom made white painters pallettes, an amazing handmade backdrop, and food label cards on tiny little easels. Shizz has really taken this project and run with it, and we are thrilled with how everything is turning out with it!

The backdrop? Oh....I'm getting a little old school with my crafts

Picture a rainbow of paper chains! I'm really excited about this project and think that it is going to be one of the elements that pushes the party overboard.

We wanted the food table to be beautiful, but also to be something that our attendees will be able to recreate themselves. {ps: Scan the QR Codes at the party for tutorials on all of the projects!}.

Creating this party, for us, was about creating an inspiring atmosphere and representing the DIY community to the best of our ability. We will be keeping certain elements under wraps, but you can be rest assured that the space will be inviting, bright, cheery, and inspiring!


We've got Fly DIY, do you?

Shannon and I are busily prepping decor, finalizing budgets and selecting food for the Fly DIY Party at BlogHer13.

We've come up with two make-and-take stations and one collaborative project that we are both really excited about.

Last year, we went back to Boston and London and started talking about how as a blogging community, we swoop in on the host city, take in the experience, then go on our merry way. What do we leave behind? What is our mark?

When we first out our party plan together, we knew that we wanted to be able to do something to give back to the host city. What we came up with is a collaborative mural station where bloggers can write inspirational messages, draw pictures and leave their mark on a roll of canvas. The mural will be donated to local day care centre or Early Intervention program.

We really hope that you will join us in creating this mural. We will have supplies a plenty from fabric markers to acrylic paint writers, so make sure you come with your creativity on your sleeve and your imagination coming through your fingertips!


Come Follow me on BlogLovin!

So in just about a month, Google Reader and GFC will be no more. If you don't subscribe to receive my blog posts by RSS (over there on the right) you're going to miss out on some really amazing projects over the summer, not to mention all of the craziness surrounding my trip to #BlogHer13!

Another great way to stay up to date the inspired happenings here on Sweet Stella's is to follow me on BlogLovin!

BlocLovin' makes it crazy easy to read all of your favourite blogs, all in one place. An email gets sent to you at the end of every day with all of the current blog posts from that day. it's a great way to keep your reader organized, and I really love waking up to it in my inbox.

Another awesome thing? You can search the top blogs in whatever industry and genre you are looking for, and when you find a blog you love, BlogLovin' suggests similar blogs to broaden your horizons!

Don't miss any of the great moments that are scheduled over the next few months!


Pretty Fly for a DIY

So you may have read over on the BlogHer official Conference Page that there was a pretty awesome announcement yesterday.

Yep! You read that right. Ms. Shizz and I are hosting one of the official BlogHer parties this year, and we couldn't be more thrilled!

We have been incredibly busy over the past few months pulling decor, food, drink, and project ideas together to bring you a really interactive and fun environment. Over the net few weeks, we will reveal a little here and there, talking about the projects themselves and giving a few sneak peeks.

Stay tuned and start thinking about rainbows!


Be Memorable with your Marketing Materials

In this months branding exercise, I wanted to talk about being memorable with your marketing material.

TPH Canada has amazing options to ensure that you leave the right impression when you hand over your precious printed marketing materials.

Last summer when I was going to BlogHer in New York City, I wanted to have postcard sized promo cards with a bio on the back, photos of my work and a photo of myself so that when I reached out to bloggers and companies that I had met, they remembered who I was.

Think about what the recipient of your card will see first. For mine, it was the beautiful and intense colors and I received so many amazing compliments about how the colors seemed to jump off the postcard, and make my marketing materials memorable.

It also helps to have a professional photographer working with you on your headshots so that you are presenting your best self. Sure, we can get some great photos with our iPhones and a good timer on our cameras, but only a professional photographer knows the most flattering angles and lighting to ensure that you are presenting your best visual self.

Dress the part! Are you a mom blogger? Crafter? Travel blogger? Get your hair done, spruce up your makeup and have an eyecatching photo of yourself on your card. So many people at BlogHer thought the photo of me standing in a field, covered in paint, was such a true representation of who I am - a messy artist.
Once all of these elements came together and were printed, I was amazed how it all looked. TPH Canada did a phenomenal job at making all of the elements that make me a blogger and artist some together under one brand, on a very beautiful and memorable card.

Think outside the box. What makes you different? How can TPH Canada show off who you are as a person and writer?

Maybe it is a folded business card with a photo and bio on the inside. Perhaps a trifold brochure with social media stats would fit the bill when it comes to networking with companies. Or maybe even a video card that showcases one of your awesome DIY tutorials or vlogs, reserved for only the companies and bloggers that you really, truly want to work with in the near future.

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated by Hanlon Lain Photography for this post, but do receive my promotional materials as a form of sponsorship from The Printing House.


Fashionista Friday: Beach Bags by Tina Dean Designs

Yes...I'm dreaming of days at the beach this week. Baby Shmizz and I are so fortunate to have Tina Dean Designs working on some amazing handbags for us for BlogHer13 this year, and I am really excited about my custom unlined tote bag, with braided rope like handles.

I had a very abstract idea when I talked to Tina about needing a tote bag that I could toss my stuff in, but also use for trips to the beach, for my art supplies and quick shopping trips to the grocery store.

As always, she didn't disappoint and took my abstract vision to the next level. Tina knows that I have a special place in my heart for all things nautical, and wanted to be sure to incorporate that into my tote bag. The handles with the knots are perfect and I absolutely love how she created them {yes....she made the handles from scratch!}

I am really excited about this bag for BlogHer13 and cannot wait to show it off in person! An ecofriendly handbag for every day!

Disclaimer: I received this tote bag as compensation for helping promoted Tina Dean Designs' wonderful line of upcycled and ecofriendly handbags. All views and opinions expressed are my own.


$5 Find Friday: Chic iPhone Charger

Okay, so this find is actually $ you can get two!

iPhone charger sticker by Fashionallble on Etsy
I think that it is just adorable, and what a better way to claim your iPhone charger when you're going away for the weekend with the girls, and you want to make sure that you go home with the right device! I'm definitely going to have to scoop up one or two for my trip to BlogHer in Chicago.

Oh and here's a tip from me to you; a little "hey how are ya!?" gift to some bloggers that you've longed to meet is never a bad idea! Last year, I made some cute pendants, rings and other baubles for my roomies and ladies that I had scheduled some coffee dates with. Make yourself memorable!


Fashionista Friday: Tina Dean Designs

Taking a note out of the Pantone 2013 Spring Fashion Trend book, and incorporating some of the hottest colors of the season into her designs, Tina Dean Designs is getting you on trend this season with fashionable ecochic accessories.

Poppy Red
African Violet
Tender Shoots

All colors that breathe life into your accessories arsenal, and ones that you won't want to miss out on.

The Poppy Red clutch features three black clay buttons that have a subtle gold fleck to them. Perfect for party hopping, a date night out, or just to add a splash of one of the prettiest tones of Spring 2013 into your wardrobe.

These handbags are like no other - expertly handmade by textile artist Tina Allen in her home studio. The Tender Shoots clutch features two hand painted sculpted clay buttons {by yours truly}, making each one completely different from the next!

Using delicate African violet purple bags, Tina created this clutch by upcycling plastic bags into a material known as plarn. Once it was crocheted into the perfect form, she finished off the closure with a hand painted violet and plum button. Absolutely beautiful, and it would look stunning at Easter brunch!

Pantone 2013 Spring Trending colors are setting the stage for some amazing designs at Tina Dean Designs. Bring ecochic into your fashionista wardrobe with TDD!


Introducing my BlogHer'13 Team!

It seems like just yesterday that I was packing my bags and boarding the plane for New York City to attend BlogHer'12. In reality, it was just over two months ago and I have learned so very much from going to the largest international blogging conference out there.

I'm already lining up sponsors for BlogHer'13 in Chicago, and am so happy to announce that TPH Canada, Tina Dean Designs, Kristine Cook Designs and Amber Bryce Luxe Bohemian are back on board with me!

Kristine Cook Designs created three stunning outfits for me for BlogHer'12, and I am thrilled to get the chance to showcase Kristine's ready-to-wear line in Chicago. Having seen her design book over dinner a few weeks ago, I know that they will be pieces that will be flattering on every body type and make you feel like you want to get out of your pj's in the morning. Kristine's work is amazing and she pays particular attention to detail with ruffles, buttons and other feminine touches that make her work one of a kind and truly unique.

Working with Tina Dean Designs this past year has been a dream come true. Tina has been working hard to become an expert in textile design, and boy does it show!  I'm really excited to be able to showcase Tina's amazing eco-chic designs in Chicago, and she's even collaborating with Kristine to make sure that my look is coordinated head-to-toe; amazing, eh?! I see some fabulous fused clutches in my future, and you can bet your bottom dollar that my messenger bag will make a reprise as my carry-on and Expo Hall bag!
Remember those incredible media cards that TPH printed for me a few months ago? Remember how they were absolutely incredible to work with, offered eco-options and funky shapes of business cards? Well they're joining up with me for my media cards that I'll be handing out to brands and bloggers in Chicago! Their printing services are absolutely amazing; high quality, digital printing at its finest. I cannot wait to share more information about this fantastic brand with you in monthly features!

I felt every bit the belle of the ball at BlogHer with my sparkly earrings, bracelet and amazing long necklace from Amber Bryce Luxe Bohemian, so I was thrilled when Amber emailed me to express interest in styling my accessories for BlogHer'13. Amber's designs are truly inspired and she uses only the best raw materials, from recycled metals to big sparkly druzies. I cannot wait to share Amber's new work with you and talk about the inspiration behind her designs.

More sponsors will be announced as the month's unfold, but I just could not wait to share this news with you all!