The Great Vaporwave

Musical Waves – A E S T H E T I C S of Internet Culture

Musical Waves


the  a e s t h e t i c s  of Internet Culture

The Great Vaporwave

The internet has brought us many interesting things since its creation. Not only has its existence made all our education and technological advancements possible, it has also brought together cultures from all over the world. It has helped to make more accessible the knowledge and innovations we as a society have created. Indeed, it has changed the way we as a collective view the world in which we live.

From all these advancements and inter-connectedness, a new and unique culture has formed. This “internet culture” has spawned new ways in which we share and listen to music, as well as the kinds of music that are available to us. As such, obscure and unique music has now been widely spread out that was previously unknown, and the assault on mainstream, corporate media flourishes.


Floral Shoppe Vaporwave

A couple of years ago I discovered the now-infamous form of “internet music” called Vaporwave. You may have heard of it way before then, but I’m not exactly always up-to-date on the latest pop culture trends. Nonetheless, I found it to be a fascinatingly distorted, yet ironically nostalgic, dream-like representation of what we millennials often refer to as
postmodern a e s t h e t i c .

Though Vaporwave as a music genre certainly still has a large cult following, for the rest of us it has been largely reduced to memedom. Even still, an ever-widening array of micro-genre “wave” music has emerged onto the scene since. 

Here are a few of my favorites…

🎶 Chillwave/Low-fi 🎶

Chillwave takes from the relaxed atmosphere of Vaporwave and incorporates a more urban feel. With its trippy beats, smoothe transitions, and dreamy vibe, it is definitely the kind of music to make you want to just sit back and… chill. Here’s a mix I’ve enjoyed before on a Saturday afternoon around the house.

🎶 Glitch/Cyberpunk 🎶

Cyberpunk is, in my opinion, the edgy cousin of Chillwave. Its dark, otherworldly vibe transports you to a futuristic digital plane. If machines could dream, Cyberpunk would be the soundtrack playing in the background. Check out this mix.

🎶 Synthwave 🎶

Here we start getting back into that dreamy aesthetic again, but this time it’s a more futuristic feel that’s oldly reminiscent of bright 80s synth pop (hence the name). Here’s a cool mix I like.

🎶 Retrowave/Chiptune 🎶

This is a fun one! Do you ever reminisce over those iconic Gameboy or Sega Genesis sounds? Or the whirring of VHS tapes? There’s a whole micro-genre devoted to you! Enjoy the sounds of your youth with the following Chiptunes mix.

🎶 City Pop 🎶

Ah, a personal favorite. Though I discovered this gem of a genre through the previous musical explorations, City Pop is really in its own category. What is now called “City Pop” is actually music created in late 70’s and 80’s Japan. Such amazing artists would fall into obscurity outside of Japan until within the last decade, where the younger generations would re-discover them.

There is a rich and robust library online filled with oddly nostalgic tracks that have been brought back to life. Below, I’ve created a playlist of my own of some of my favorites for you to enjoy. The songs are set to play in order automatically, but you can skip around to various tracks if you like. Go ahead, try it!

I hope you enjoyed this musical journey through internet music culture. Do you know of any micro-genre music I didn’t cover here? Tell me about it in the comments! The world of online music is always growing.

m u s i c   i s   l i f e

✨ BONUS ✨

Here’s a special bonus “wave” track you might also enjoy if you’re a Zelda fan, like me! Want to chat about gaming and cool memes with me? Have a biz or blog, or want to start one? Join me over on Patreon!

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Habitica - a productivity app for gamers

Productivity for Gamers

Habitica - a productivity app for gamers

So us gamers, geeks and otakus have been given a bad reputation. That we spend all our free time involving ourselves in our passion of choice and never get anything accomplished IRL. For some that may be the case. For the rest of us, we often leave people scratching their heads. They wonder what exactly we’ve accomplished with our time while we boast of all our in-game wins, or how many completed manga are sitting on our shelves. Well now we can give PROOF of our productivity!

What if I told you there was a game that helped you increase productivity, yes really, which rewarded you with loot and XP, and even punished you for skipping out on stuff? What if I told you that game was on iOS, Android and PC? That game is Habitica.

Habitica logo

Habitica is a productivity app that is literally made for gamers and geeks! No boring interfaces here! This app is rich with vibrant colors, 8-bit avatars and items, and many guilds and parties to choose from where you can fight bosses (by completing tasks you set in your habits and to-dos lists). You even have an inventory, can change your avatar’s appearance with stat-boosting items, get drops from completing quests, and can get mounts! Pretty awesome.

Because this game hits that “reward center” of the brain, just like regular games, it can keep you focused and goal-oriented while you level-up your life. I’ve been using this game for a while now, and I’ve become much more active in completing daily tasks, as well as in keeping up with reminders and building better, healthier habits. When I wake up I actually look forward to getting my check-in bonus, and throughout the day I’m excited to check off things on my lists, to see what stuff I might collect. It’s also fun to interact with my guilds (chat groups based on various themes).

HabiticaQuest
example of leveling up
example of in-game stats

It’s definitely become a positive part of my day, and has increased my productivity. Mater of fact, it helped me stay focused on completing this very post!

Get the app and try it for yourself!

Speaking of productivity and fun, I’ve got a treat to share with you! If you haven’t seen my MomoCon 2018 video, I went to this year’s event and saw so many awesome artists and vendors! One of them was GinGee Girls Art. They make amazing, engraved drinkware in all kinds of designs of geeky awesomeness!

I purchased the WoW Alliance beer stein (#forthealliance!) and RWBY coffee mug below and love them so much!! They make me look forward to that first cup of coffee of the day, and a nice cold drink at night, adding another level of productivity to my day.

Looky!  ^v^

GinGee Girls awesome drinkware

Go check them out on Facebook and Instagram! They have a huge library of designs to choose from. And if there’s something specific you want that they don’t already make, they are totally happy to create something custom for you. Just ask them, they’re super cool!

Do you already use Habitica? Tell me about it below! Already have an engraved glass or mug from GinGee Girls? Show it off and share where you heard about them!

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drowning in the sea of depression

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone – My Thoughts on Depression

 Depression.

Anxiety.

Two very dark and complex entities. They keep you from enjoying life, friends and loved ones, and all the things you used to do. Whisper lies in your mind that you’re worthless, unwanted, stupid. They destroy relationships, dreams, and all that you hold dear. They create doubt in your own abilities and cause you to ultimately withdraw from the world.

In time they turn you into a lifeless shell whose only desire is to drown in the comforts of your pillow. To hope you never again have to wake up to face the cold reality of your cold and confusing world. To escape… by whatever means necessary…

This has been my reality for the last several years. It’s the reason I haven’t kept up with this blog very well, and why my business isn’t successful yet. I’ve dealt with emotional abuse, loss of employment, loss of love, stress overload, financial strain, caregiver burnout, death of a parent, and feeling like a failure at life.

All the years of mental and physical exhaustion, unfortunate circumstances and loneliness have taken their toll on my psyche.

Depression and Anxiety became overbearing and cruel roommates in my brain, inflicting immense pain on my heart and deep wounds on my soul. Forcing me to shut down my senses just to survive. This is what Depression and Anxiety do.

For those who don’t truly understand this misery, hearing things like “stay positive” and “it’ll get better soon” does not lessen the pain. There is no simple solution, and you don’t know what will make you feel better. You feel like a burden on everyone. Eventually, you stop answering friends’ messages and make excuses to get out of socializing, isolating yourself even more.

For me, the recurring and vivid nightmares of watching myself wither away into nothingness mirrored my waking life. But I kept trudging along day after day, drowning myself in work or responsibilities to keep the thoughts and feelings at bay. On the weekends I’d lay in bed drained of all energy and motivation, my pillow as my only comfort.

I alienated friends and loved ones, missed out on opportunities, and gave up on my business and the hobbies that I had been so passionate about. I even neglected my health. The emotional torment, the guilt, the feelings of worthlessness were so deep I could no longer fake happiness. It was much easier to just shut myself in.

When you’re so low that you can no longer see meaning to anything, nothing matters anymore. It seems like nothing can pull you out of your despair.

But there is light ahead…light in darkness

Throughout these last few years I’ve been researching depression and anxiety to try to overcome them and I’ve learned quite a lot about my unwelcomed roommates. I’ve identified their weaknesses, and am climbing my way out of the dark abyss of my mind that they created.

But this is not to say that I may ever be totally free of my mental roommates. Though I will still slip and fall, I’m learning how to gain my footing again, and keep climbing up. They may always be there trying to drag me down, but I don’t have to stay down for long.

If you are currently stranded in a dark place of your own, here are some things that can help. It is a collection of my own insights as well as from others I’ve reached out to.

1) Get help

Don’t suffer within your own emotional abyss alone. Please seek help. Don’t believe the lies your depression and anxiety are telling you. People around you actually do care and want to help. They just might not know how. Talk to someone. Let them know what’s going on with you. If nothing else, it will help getting your thoughts and fears out of your brain. It can be tough to find solutions when all you can see are walls closing in on darkness.

If like me, your friends are limited and you cannot afford therapy, there are online groups dedicated to mental health. Get involved in one or several of them. One app I’ve tried is 7 Cups. There are “listeners” available to help you, and the site offers affordable therapy options. It helps knowing you can reach someone anytime day or night, from all across the globe who have been where you are. You are not alone.

2) Meditate

When your mind is drowned out by negative thoughts and irrational fears, it can be difficult to be calm. But believe me, if you can find even 5 minutes of calm, it’s worth it. Meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting lotus style on the ground attempting to attain enlightenment like in the movies. You are simply clearing negative thoughts and fears by focusing your brain on something peaceful for a short time span. Kind of like giving your brain a mini vacation.

There are apps designed to help you set aside small amounts of time to do just this, such as Calm and Headspace. They even explain how to stop the racing thoughts so that it’s possible to get your mind into a calmer state. Over time, this can lead to improved health and brain function, as the stress response begins to ease up.

3) Change your circumstances

If you are in an abusive or toxic situation, a job that drags you down, or simply in a place that brings bad memories, do whatever you can to change it. It’s unhealthy to stay where you are. Reach out to friends, organizations, co-workers, authorities, whoever you have to for help.

4) Be kind to yourself

You may not feel like putting in the effort, or you may even feel like you don’t deserve it. But you do deserve it. Do something new you’ve always wanted to do. Buy yourself something nice that fits your budget. Indulge in a new flavor of tea or coffee. Get a haircut. Color your hair purple if you want! Give yourself a rest day where you aren’t obligated to do anything but lay in bed if you want, without judgement. Your body probably could use the rest, honestly. And be sure to eat as healthy as you can.

5) Take care of your health

When you are dealing with depression you often will ignore your health. It can be worse if you already suffer from illnesses or disabilities. Make sure you keep up with your doctor visits, and let them know of your depression or anxiety. It’s well-documented that people who suffer from long-term illness or disability have greater chances of developing major depression. Be aware, and make any allowances or alterations for better quality of life. Go easy on yourself; you’re doing great!

6) Get organized

Believe it or not, cleanliness and organization can make a big improvement in your depression and anxiety. When you wake up and the room or house is chaotic, it makes you feel chaotic, which can trigger your symptoms even worse. Keeping your space clean and organized will do wonders for your mood, and help clear your mind. Easier said than done, I know. But try to motivate yourself just a little bit by knowing that it could help you feel better overall.

Start small, and just clear away trash and wash the dirty dishes. Do your laundry. Next, go through that pile of junk mail on your desk or clear out some of your inbox. Take a rest after that, and allow yourself to feel good about taking that step. Next time, try organizing your shelves. Small improvements over time will help you to get back to a normal living space that you can feel more comfortable in.

7) Make a game out of it

Similar to #6 above, try creating a to-do list and reward system for yourself. This one really helps me, as being able to check off something on a list gives me a small sense of accomplishment. It triggers the reward system in the brain and can help jumpstart a positive outlook. Start by making a list of small tasks you need to get done. This can be cleaning to-dos, or other tasks to help such as making time to exercise (another mood booster). Next, assign a reward that you will allow yourself once the task is done. For better results, make sure the task isn’t too heavy, and that the reward is good for you. When you do the task and check it off, you get the assigned reward!

8) Music therapy

Music is powerful. It can transform the way you feel in both positive and negative ways. When you’re feeling down it’s ok to immerse yourself in sad or angry music. But if you want to try a change of mood, change the station! Music that is more upbeat or complex can help you lift your emotional state, even if only temporarily, so that you can get going with your day.

You don’t have to suffer alone. Please get help if you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety. It’s not a sign of weakness to lean on others. It takes incredible courage to speak up. Don’t believe the lies your mental roommates feed you; people do want to help you. They might not really know how, but they can be there for you and help support you on your way to climbing out of your abyss, onto higher ground.

Do you have other ways to cope with depression and anxiety? What has worked for you? Please share in the comments!

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Windows 10, iPhone, Cats

Windows 10, iPhone SE, and Cats!

Windows 10, iPhone, Cats
image courtesy of neowin.net


As you may know if you have a PC, use a PC, know someone who uses a PC, or have been anywhere that modern human civilisation exists within the past year, Windows 10 is here. You may also know that the Window of opportunity (pun very much intended) to get your FREE upgrade is closing next month. So I did what most people do whenever an OS upgrade comes out – I waited.


Part of this was because I knew that any fresh program update has its fair share of bugs. I’ve always heard it’s usually better to wait for the update to the update, or even the update to the update to the update. You know, for safe measure. But the biggest reason I waited so long to upgrade was because Windows 10 was reportedly not compatible with my aging graphics card…until now.


This week I received the pop-up notice, that same annoying notice everyone’s been complaining about, that Windows 10 was now magically compatible…… and that the automatic upgrade was scheduled for three days out. Wait. Automatic?? I mean, sure I could cancel, but then I’d miss out on my free upgrade. Not cool, Microsoft, NOT COOL!


I backed up all my files, and prepared myself for a night of waiting for downloads and installs, and massive frustration. But surprisingly the whole process was very smoothe aside from a very long download time (though admittedly my connection was slow). And once fully installed, and all the privacy-invading features and add-on programs turned off, I wasted no time customizing all the features and turning everything I could purple. ^-^


I’ve heard that a lot of people have had trouble with the upgrade, but I’ve not had any trouble so far. Perhaps that’s due in part because I waited so long, and perhaps because I disabled many of the extra add-ons and features. But so far, aside from a little navigation training, I’m liking the experience. Windows 10 is also said to come with a more robust anti-virus program than in previous versions, but I chose to get third-party anti-virus software  anyway. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I went with Avast.


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iPhone SE promoAnd on the polar opposite side of the tech world, I recently parted ways with my beloved Android platform, that I’ve been with for many years, and crossed over to the dark side. Yep, I bought an iPhone SE. Waaaat, they had cookies! Really really awesome cookies.


I thought the decision over for many months before I even looked at the specs for current iPhone offerings. I’ve been a diehard Android fan for a long time, but as a designer and artist (when I’m not overly stressed to the point of exhaustion, and art block sets in – more on that in another post), it’s really frustrating to see all the awesome design/art apps and tools go straight to iPhone/iPad first. It usually takes a while before they’re available on the Android market, if at all. And even then, they might be buggy or missing elements featured in the iPhone/iPad version. Some games never see an Android build either. Not to mention, most of the really great songs I like come out on iTunes first, and may not ever get released (officially) elsewhere. Very annoying.


The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus were the models I was most interested in, but they were simply out of my measly budget, even on a payment plan. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were slightly cheaper but had only 8MP cameras (and A8 chips), compared to the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and iPhone SE, which all feature 12MP cameras. The front-facing camera is only 1.2MP, but you may notice I don’t take many selfies anyway…


The iPhone SE screen is a bit smaller than my trusty ol’ Droid Ultra, but the overall quality and pixel density is higher. The processor is faster too, using the same A9 chip featured in the 6S and 6S Plus. I also opted for the 64GB version, which is a HUGE improvement over my old 16GB Droid Ultra. Now I have more room for all those songs and apps I could never get until now! And I still managed to stay within my budget. Good deal!


I do already miss some features Android had that aren’t present on the iPhone, such as Active Display, a Back button, and the ability to overlay running apps together, but overall I’m happy with the switch so far. Another perk is that finding cases and covers will be much easier now since the iPhone SE is the same size and body style as previous models. Most decals and cases are made for the standard iPhone size, as opposed to Android phones which come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Speaking of decals and cases, I’m opening a new shop on Red Bubble. More on that soon!


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CATS!!!

Kawaii Kitty logoIf you’ve known me for any length of time you’ll know how much I love cats. You might also know about my new shop dedicated to all things kitty and kawaii. It’s been difficult getting things off the ground this year with all my personal struggles. But when you’re passionate about something, you continue to work hard to help it grow and blossom into something awesomely wonderful.


There are many great things in the works for my new shop, as well as other projects I’ve been working on. I recently added a special section to my newsletter for my Kawaii Kitty shop! Here I’ll be sharing exclusive info and special sales coming up. But I’m also starting up this month a “Kawaii Kitty Game of the Month” feature!


Here I’ll recommend a kitty-themed mobile game that I’ll be playing that month. Everyone is encouraged to play along and share their experiences on social media, so there will be links to download each game. The following month’s MEWS-letter (I couldn’t help myself!) will have my thoughts on the game, complete with a 5-paw rating system. (Such kawaii-ness!!) If you’re not already subscribed, you can do so here, or click the cute button on the sidebar. Can’t wait to see you there!


Sakura Natsu ConIn addition to creating new kawaii products for my shop, coming up in August I’ll be involved in the super awesome Sakura Natsu Convention here in the States. I’m so excited and honored to be a part of it! Check out their Tumblr and Instagram for all the details and cool stuff going on. They even have a super kawaii mascot!


The event is free to get in, but if you would like to donate monies to help make this the most awesome Japanese arts and anime convention ever, you can help support their work through their donations page too.

The founders of this festival have done an amazing job of organizing everything, and I’m really touched by their love for, and commitment to the Japanese arts and anime communities. I hope to see this one around for many decades to come. Definitely attend if you can!!


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Have you upgraded your PC to Windows 10? What was your experience like? Are you an Android-to-iPhone convert too? Lemme here about it! You can comment below, or connect with me on Twitter. Would love to hear from you!
 
 
Stay kawaii!  =^-^=
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Holiday memories and game reviews

Holiday Time…And Such

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
 

Wow. I can’t believe 2015 is already almost over! As with 2014, this year has been quite a struggle. But there have been many positive events. You might already know my brain is constantly developing ideas, and I’m happy to say I’m closing out 2015 in a better position to make the magic happen!

Since I’ve been absent for so long, let me tell you a little about my year, both the bad and the good. If you read my holiday post from last year, you’ll know my mother has been ill. This year, her health declined further, and she’s currently facing a life-altering decision. Also carrying on from last year are my financial worries, some mental and emotional strain, and a bit of melancholie hanging over me from being apart from friends and loved ones. And for the majority of this year I was still living in the same difficult situation. BUT! Unlike the previous few years, this year has brought some major changes for the better. I really feel like I can move forward and heal from the past.

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So what have I been doing all year? Well, perhaps the biggest news is that… I MOVED!! I won’t go into too much detail here, but let’s just say it was a most welcomed event! I’ve also been involved in a few artistic endeavors, such as the designs I created for a cool new board game, and an awesome Dr. Who themed wedding invitation designed for a close friend. I did manage to work on a few personal art pieces, as well as a couple blog posts, but none are finished. As I said, this year has been tough, and unfortunately art blocks and depression are part of that. Hopefully the artworks will be finished soon, though, as I’m feeling a bit better now.

There’s more! You may already know about my stationery shop Moxie Makery. This year I merged the shop with my existing Imaginate Designs shop, so all my handmade creations are now in one place. And more creations are in the works! If you’re signed up for my newsletter, you’ll get news soon about a few other projects in development…

Finally, I got to participate in an a Christmas Sock Exchange hosted by the awesome Kim Wedlock! It was a random match-up exchange. I was picked out of a hat to send gifts to her, while another cool blog by the name of Paper Lilly Leaf was randomly picked to give to me. You can check out Kim’s post to see what I sent her. Here’s what I got:

  • * awesome handmade Christmas card!
  • * cute Santa comfy socks (that all the following goodies were tucked inside of)
  • * Fanta Orange Lip Smackers chapstick
  • * Haribo Starmix gummies (sooo good!!)
  • * Blooming Gorgeous brand bath fizzies and hand lotion (smells lovely!)
  • * adorable little plush snowman!!
  • * mini candy canes!
  • * tiny woodcut reindeer decorations… such a nice touch!

 

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So, lots of positive experiences this year, despite all the downsides. Looking back, this year feels almost like a beginning in a strange way. A new start. Like I’ve begun tearing down walls that kept me from reaching my goals and dreams. I’m thankful to have had the opportunities given to me this year. Most of all, I’m thankful to have amazing friends and loved ones in my life, no matter where they are. They have helped me maintain a bit of sanity during the tough times, and shared in my joy in good times. I only hope I’ve been even half as much of a blessing to each of them as they have been to me.

I hope you and your family have a safe and wonderful holiday, and a happy new year. Looking forward to new opportunities and happiness in 2016!!

 

^-^~
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WinterGreeting.png

Happy Holidays, my friends!!

 

Wow, Christmas is already here again! This has been an…interesting year, to say the least. Now it’s time for celebrating with friends and family, and being thankful for what, and who we have in our lives. For those of you who have been with me throughout my first year of newsletters (yes, I have a newsletter!), you’ll know that I’ve featured a number of wonderfully talented artists and crafters from Etsy and beyond. I am thankful to each and every one of them for allowing me to share their amazing work with you, my lovely readers, and for just being awesome in general!

 

 

In case you’ve missed a few, or all of them, here they are again, listed by month, as well as links to the original newsletters they were featured in:

 

January (1st edition) – PendantLab

February newsletter – Deep Midnight Perfumes

March newsletter – Candy Mountain Photos

April newsletter – Angelyques & Japanese: The Game

September newsletter – Valentina Lisitsa & The Piano Guys

October newsletter – This Halloween treasury:

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I wish all of these amazing and talented artists a very merry Christmas and happy Holidays, and that they continue to be successful in the coming year!!

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I have to say, I intended to have this post up long before now. In fact, I wanted to do a “12 Days of Christmas” special for my newsletter subscribers…but that didn’t happen. I’ve just had so much going on lately that this simply was not possible. This year has been full of surprises, and not necessarily the nice ones.  I lost my job in May. My mother was hospitalized through much of this year and has been in very poor health. My car broke down and I didn’t have the funds to get it repaired, and still don’t. My living arrangements haven’t changed, and are still very difficult to deal with. And on top of it all, I’ve lost my financial independence. Certainly NOT the good year I had hoped for.

Still, there have been many things to be thankful for. My new Etsy shop, Moxie Makery, is still around, and has provided me with enough income this year to scrape by. My close friends are still there for me, even if they are now long-distance, and I’ve made many new online friends all around the world. Thanks to this, I’ve been able to improve my Japanese language skills…a little. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, being out of work has enabled me to take care of my mother, who needs much help due to her illness. She’s also been kind enough to allow me the use of her car when I need transportation! And although my life is a bit chaotic right now, I’m still relatively healthy…if not a few pounds heavier thanks to all the Holiday festivities. Speaking of which, I think it’s about time to really put Geek Fit out there, and in a big way!

I also started my own Patreon page where people can help directly support and influence my work, and also get really cool perks and exclusive stuff! Next year I plan to grow my new YouTube channel as well. I currently only have one poorly-edited video (hey, it’s my first one so don’t judge!), but you can get an idea of what my channel will be about, at least. It’s a start! I really want to build up these networks and get closer to my online friends and supporters. More recently, I’ve been involved in a few artistic opportunities that hopefully will advance my digital art and graphic design career! I’ll be sharing the work I’ve been doing on these projects publicly once the work is finished…because, you know, it’s top-secret and all that.

Let’s not forget about my Etsy shop! My sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled brain has been coming up with all kinds of new ideas lately for new items to sell in my Etsy shop for 2015, as well as new designs and artwork pieces to work on. If I can keep up this creative firestorm then I think next year will be full of surprises…of the awesome kind!

And so, as this year comes to a close, and we’re all celebrating the warmth and magic of the season, I want to finish out this post by wishing all of you a very merry Christmas and happy Holidays, for those of you who celebrate, and to thank you so much for all your love and support. See you next year!!

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BONUS!! Enjoy this sweet, wintery story — a free game by Simogo!

 

The Sensational December Machine by Simogo

 

 
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Mystery subscription box review

How Mysterious is Your Mailbox?

Mystery subscription box review

Who wouldn’t like getting a mystery box full of unknown items you may or may not need or want? I know I would! We’ve all heard about these “subscription boxes.” Basically, you pay a fee every month (or so, depending on the service) and get a themed package delivered to your door full of awesome surprise goodies. But do you know just how many different companies exist?! Loads!!


I did a little research…ok, a lot of research…and found a ton of these mystery box services. There are quite literally 100s of services out there to choose from! So, for this post I have rounded out some of the most interesting ones out there…that are actually affordable (seriously, some of the boxes I found were over $50-$200 a month!!). Here they are, broken down into categories just for you!

Anime and Kawaii
As a fan of anime and Kawaii culture, of course I’d have several listed in this category! First up, there’s Betoyo Bento. Betoyo Bento offers the very best of anime and kawaii goodies, all packed into one cute box. The box itself even comes wrapped in a pretty red ribbon! This box is good for both guys and girls who are into anime.
 
Next, there’s Kawaii Box. This one is like Betoyo Box, except it’s geared more for girls, and is only about all things “cute.” Expect to find many chibi figurines and kitties!
 
Then, there’s Kawaii Monthly. You might think, “what’s the difference between this and the aforementioned Kawaii Box?” Well, this one is also aimed at girls and packed with all things “cute,” but it also includes all sorts of Japanese foods and beauty products.
 
The final box in this category is Q Box. Q Box is another girlie mystery box, but this one has not only really nice beauty products, but also jewelry and various everyday useful items from Japan and South Korea.
 
I actually was really interested in both Q Box and Betoyo Bento, as they seemed to include a wider variety of items relevant to my own tastes. But, to each their own. That’s the great thing about all these services – you can choose the service that gives you what you really want! It’s also worth mentioning that the awesome online anime streaming site Crunchyroll offers their own mystery anime DVDs box from time to time, and so does Tokyo Otaku Mode, an otaku’s virtual paradise. Check them out!
Food themed boxes
Alright all you foodies, here are some of the best mystery boxes just for you! We have Try the World, which offers a neatly packed box of food items from a different country selected every two months. You can enjoy the unique foods each country has to offer, and learn a bit about the culture there.
 
Next is Japan Crate. This one looks totally amazing! You can choose from three box sizes, and each will contain only the best of Japanese snacks and sweets. A great compliment to one of the Anime/Kawaii boxes above!
 
Then there’s A Kitchen Box, which was cool before you knew about it. This box contains a hipster-worthy collection of foods, recipes, and kitchen items to inspire your culinary efforts. They even include ultra-hip music downloads from obscure artists…you know, totally non-mainstream.
 
Graze offers a collection of healthy snacks. From what I could tell they send a small selection wholesome snack foods from eco-conscious brands. And it’s all under $10!
 
Finally, we have Bulu Box, another healthy snack box. This service offers you healthy, weight-conscious snacks and supplements to aid you on your quest to be (and stay) fit and healthy. They even have an app for that!
Gaming and Geekery boxes
Now this is perhaps my favorite category here, as you all know what a geeky nerd I am! We’ll start with Loot Crate. It’s one of the most widely-known geeky subscription boxes out there, and for good reason! You get a variety of geeky, nerdy stuff, with a different themed box each month.
*UPDATE: Loot Crate now has themed boxes!! Go check ’em out!*
 
Another cool service is Nerd Block. Same type of stuff, but Nerd Block offers you a few choices of themed boxes such as Horror or Arcade, and even a Jr. Box for the little nerds in your family!
 
There’s also 1up Box. This is a relatively new service, from what I understand, but they are no less awesome! Their September 2014 box featured a T-shirt I REALLY would have loved to have!!
 
Fan of comics and such? Look no further than Comic Bento! Comic Bento sends you a box jam-packed full of comics and graphic novels from big name brands, and some lesser-known-but-still-awesome ones, for your reading pleasure.
 
BoxyChan is another mystery box, but this one’s unique in that you can actually choose fandom-specific themes. They currently have over 15 box fandoms to choose from, such as anime, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, and even Final Fantasy. FINAL FANTASY!!!
 
For gamers, there’s also Indie Box. Indie Box sends you full (NOT demo) collector’s edition games and other related collectable items which may even include the game’s original soundtrack. Yes, I said FULL GAMES!!
 
Do you play Magic: The Gathering? Then you need this next box! Monthly Magic Box gives players all the gear they need to be awesome.  Each month you’ll get booster packs, game gear, and collector cards, as well as other random Magic: The Gathering items…maybe even a T-shirt.
Not only am I a geeky nerd who likes anime, but I’m also a graphic designer. So, this next category is dedicated to all us creatives!
 
Whimsey Box was the first arts and crafts box I came across, and I think you guys will love it. Each month they pick a project, and send out all the materials you need to create it. You can also buy supplies for other projects on their site.
 
Art Snacks is next. And no, it’s not a box of foods in artsy-looking packaging (although, their logo makes me want a soft pretzel for some reason…). This box contains a selection of professional grade artist tools and supplies. If you’ve ever seen some of these items in a store and wanted to try them out, here’s your chance!
 
I love the name of this next one: Craft What?!? Not only do they donate a portion of the sales to charities, which is really cool, but the site also states these crafts are good for “ages 3 to 300!” Apparently they have traveled back 300 years to bring some 18th century geezer back with them just to test out this theory. Now that’s dedication!
 
Lastly, we have Pigment + Palette. This one is essentially the same concept as Art Snacks, but Pigment + Palette features a special artist every month for you to learn about and admire. It’s so amazing that they do this! If you’re an artists who would like to be featured, they have a contact form where you can apply.
random stuff boxes

Finally, here are some mystery subscription boxes that don’t exactly fit in the above categories, but are equally awesome. Birch Box is filled with personal care products tailored to your preferences. They have one for men and one for women.

Fresh Neck: it’s like Netflix for ties! (Seriously, that’s on their site.) If you guys (and girls!) like to wear sleek, stylish neckties and other accessories, and like to keep it “fresh,” this one’s perfect!

Another style I’ve been into lately is the Steampunk genre. Needless to say I was excited when I found that the people at Clockwork Couture have a Steampunk subscription box!! (Bonus props if you recognize one of their female models – if so, tell me in the comments!)

Want to travel to France? French Box can help you experience all the beauty and sophistication that France has to offer, without the hassle of the airport…or TSA. The French Box site is so pretty, too! The packaging of this box is gorgeous, as I’ve read and seen from other reviewers, which adds that bit of “wow!” to the whole experience. I would definitely love to try this one!

Another one for the ladies, Ipsy gives you a selection of makeup and personal care products, usually full-size, to try out from a wide variety of professional makeup brands. Fun fact: founder and spokeswoman for Ipsy Michelle Phan has her own makeup line, and did a really awesome Hatsune Miku makeup tutorial!

*If you like cosplay like I do, also check out some of her other anime-inspired tutorials.*

And finally, one for the guys: Manpacks (not THAT man pack! Get your mind out of the gutter!). This box o’ man stuff provides all the essentials a guy needs, without the hassle of shopping. Set your preferences. Create your quarterly shipment. Done. Now you have time to go do more important manly things.

So there you have it, 26 awesome mystery subscription boxes to try out. Most of these also include free USA shipping, too! Now, I’ve not had the pleasure of trying any of these subscription boxes out, but I would love to have the opportunity to. If I am ever able to try any of these out you can be sure I’ll do a special unboxing video for you guys on my new YouTube channel!  In the meantime, if you have tried any of these services, or know of other awesome services not on this list, tell me about your experiences in the comments below!

*UPDATE: since creating this post I’ve had the amazing opportunity to try out Japan Crate! And as promised, I made an unboxing video I think you’re gonna love. Also, it’s my first ever YouTube video, and I had a lot of fun making it. Hope you enjoy it! If you do, please leave a like and comment, and subscribe so I can make more content!*

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Deep Midnight Musings

Deep Midnight Musings

Deep Midnight Musings

As a member of the Etsy community I have met some really fascinating artisans who’s work is truly unique and inspiring.  Or just really awesome!  Earlier this year I happened upon a unique perfume oils shop who’s beautiful product imagery and engaging product descriptions absolutely blew me away.  I had to try these perfumes out for myself!  The name?  Deep Midnight perfumes.


After sampling several scents I can now say without a doubt that the quality is amazing, and I encourage everyone I can to purchase their perfumes from this, and ONLY this shop.  There are many that I like, and many more that I’d like to try, but here are my two most favorites so far, with partial descriptions taken from the listings themselves. 

 
  • Shangri-la: “the mythical kingdom hidden deep in the Himalayas, was the idyllic utopia sought after by Eastern and Western explorers alike. It was hidden valley of breathtaking beauty and regal temples, a people rooted in simplicity and meditative ritual… truly an exotic earthy paradise sought after in dream after dream.”
  •  Twilight Nightingale: “Elven Maiden Lúthien was called Tinúviel by her love Beren, and in the Elven tongue it’s meaning is “nightingale” or “daughter of twilight.” Lúthien’s hair was as dark twilight, and her song which was as beautiful as the lark’s, could release the cold hold of winter and bring about the flowers of spring.”

Every one of these perfume listings has an intriguing, well-thought-out description just like these, based on folklore, historical events, or pure inspired fantasy.  Just beautiful! Cat, fine artisan and owner of this lovely perfumery, was kind enough to let me pick her brain, and to share what inspires her. The following is an interview with Cat…

Q. What inspired you to venture into perfumery? What made you decide to create a business from it

I began creating scents for myself and family and friends in 1996 mostly because commercial sprays and perfumes from department stores would trigger my asthma and I still wanted to smell nice. I always loved perfume oils and soaps my mom bought me as a teen. In 2003, I began selling a line of soaps, lip balms, and perfume oils locally in artist co-ops. When I discovered etsy, it was just a natural progression to move on to internet selling. It began as a side business while I worked in Eastern medicine, shiatsu therapy and acupuncture, but now it is my main business.

Q. How do you begin the process of designing a new perfume?

Usually I start with letting my mind wander about and I think…”could I create a perfume that smells like this, or takes a person to this place and time?” A lot of different genres inspire me and I like to tell stories and write poetry and photograph people so it all comes together. I start by testing out my “recipes” or ideas for bases and build on that and work on a scent anywhere from four weeks to a year depending on what I want to achieve and how fussy I get with myself and the feedback I get from my local testers.

Q. How would your describe your own personal style?

Well, I am an eclectic mix for sure. I love dark and gothic styles, romantic -Victorian -bohemian soul sort of styles, earthy and eco-friendly styles, and easy, clean and casual styles. You can see all those vibes reflected in my wardrobe, jewelry, home design, and also what I wear as scents. So I really have a strange aesthetic. I like being a little odd though; it keeps people wondering about you 😉

Q. Your photography creates a beautiful visual for each of the perfumes it represents. How do you choose the imagery?

If it’s a person I use, I have a large number of friends who larp and attend Cons so I can pick a face or person to “represent” my scent. Sometime to me it’s a place or simply items that reflect what I want to convey about the scent. I enjoy using artwork too from artists I know.

Q. Different scents can bring one back to another time in one’s life, for many reasons. Is there a particular scent of your own creation that brings back good memories for you?

I think Tenebrae is the one that brings me back to a very special experience as described in my listing for it. I worked on that scent for over 18 months…for me personally; I wanted to achieve it to relive that experience. When I finally finished it and it was the way I wanted it be as a perfume, I actually broke down and cried. I do have a lot of special ones I have worked on for myself and then shared in my shop, but Tenebrae brings back a very strong memory.

Q. I understand you attend / are a vendor at a lot of conventions. What is the best experience you’ve ever had?

The best time was at TeslaCON I would have to say. Amazing costumes and fun events and I met a lot of wonderful people!

Q. Any current favorite books, music, TV shows?

I read a lot to wind down at night, mostly fantasy or non-fiction history. Music wise, I love Irish music, Nordic music, classical, alt/goth and classic rock. I usually work to classical music as it soothes me as I fill orders and create. I like alpha waves! TV….well, I mostly binge watch on Netflix when I have time or watch PBS online. I love all the typical supernatural, fantasy shows out there. I like Netflix original series too. And I love BBC shows.

Q. What do you geek out over?

Lord of the Rings and anything Tolkien or fantasy. Rocks and minerals…since I was a kid; I love collecting them and studying them. And I go crazy if I can find really good history books on Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Great Britain. I have college degree in Anthropology, History, Legal Studies and Chinese Medicine. I try to keep up on the latest good nonfiction in all areas (well except legal).

Q. What hobbies do you enjoy?

I love jewelry crafting, reading, drawing, writing poetry and short stories, cooking, photography, the outdoors and spending time with my family and fur babies. Quite a few other things too. I like to be busy.

Q. If you could travel anywhere this very moment where would you go?

In real life, Scotland. In my fantasy life…back to the Shire of course!

As you can see, Cat is pretty awesome.  And to all you guys, she makes scents for you, too!  In fact, my brother’s current favorite is Pendragon.  Believe me, he wears it often!  Cat has also just released her 2014 Fall/Halloween scents.  As with all her other scents and listings, the photos and descriptions are wonderful and quite imaginative.  I especially love the descriptions for Faerie Feast and Drunken Pumpkin.  You can actually purchase the whole 2014 Fall/Halloween collection sampler here.  There’s definitely something for all tastes.

Follow Cat on these social networks:

Special thanks to Cat for allowing me to share this interview with you.  I really enjoyed it, and look forward to purchasing more beautifully crafted scents for my collection!  Have you purchased scents from Deep Midnight Perfumes?  Will you in the future?  Tell me about it in the comments!

** All photos and descriptions used by permission. **
The product descriptions, product names, notated photographic images, logos, banners and product/label designs are the intellectual property of “Deep Midnight Perfumes” and may not be reproduced in any way without written consent.

Copyright 2010-present Deep Midnight Perfumes All Rights Reserved.

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LetYourTrueSelfShine.png

Let Your True Self Shine

 

So, I wanted to share with you an uplifting message I came across today.  For those of you who are struggling with feelings of self-doubt, a seeming inability to rise above the deep, dark waters of harsh criticism or even rejection, you are not alone.  Many of us allow ourselves to be pulled into these depths without realizing we have a unique purpose that may not be in line with “normal” ways of thinking.  For some of us, the effects can be seriously damaging, causing us to bury our imaginative spirit, never to find our own voice.  I have experienced this personally, but I’ll leave that for another post.  Let’s be clear: it is NEVER ok to put someone down for being who they are.

 

Now, as a fellow creative/geeky-nerd I’ve had my fair share of raised eyebrows, criticisms, and downright rejections.  I’ve learned to take advice from the criticisms from those who actually care and use it to become a better person, and to ignore all the haters.  But it wasn’t always that way.  And I still struggle with feelings of self-doubt and ineptitude.  Thinking I’m just not good enough, or that I’m too…odd.  I think for all us creative people it kinda goes with the territory.  And that’s OK!  Even though it’s tough to go through, if you can take the positive from it you can build yourself back up and create something truly extraordinary.  So what’s the uplifting message I mentioned, you ask?

 

One word: Miku!  Yep, the adorable, blue-haired Vocaloid singer we all know and love.  Today I came across a new song featuring the digital diva herself, created by the totally awesome Japanese group Supercell.  This song called “Odds and Ends” was written by the group’s founder Ryo, and is said to be a personal account of his experiences with being ostracized for his own interests and passions, and how he found his voice.

 

To me, the song and video are a message of hope and encouragement.  In the video, a robot is shown sifting through piles of junk, which we can think of here as bits of negativity, and through hard work and determination, despite setbacks, ends up creating Miku, which we can think of as the positive outcome of our determination to keep going.  It shows that we can create something real and beautiful out of the junk pile, and that this creation can help us to see the beauty in ourselves again.

 

So what you can take away from this post is, no matter what people do or say, or how many times you fail at something, keep believing in yourself. Your inner light will shine through to the world.  Have you ever been criticized or outcast for your quirks or passions?  How did you overcome your hardships to find your own voice?  What did the song and music video mean to you?  Tell me below!

 

There are many English translations for this song available, but this one probably best captures the feel of the lyrics.  Go check them out and sing along!

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roche2k-small.png

Life Just Smacked Me in the Face!

First, let me just preface this blog post by saying that I have always been a believer of things happening for a reason. There are no real coincides. If you think there are, it’s only because you haven’t yet learned the reason behind them. With that off my chest, let’s move on. Shall we?


To really understand just how hard said face was smacked, I’ll have to go back in time. And no, I didn’t steal the Tardis. A few years ago, 2011 to be exact, I had just completed my internship for my chosen field, Graphic Design, but had not found work. Well, three unemployed months and a mostly-used credit card limit later I was finally hired by an awesome website designer, and could resume supporting myself with actual income. Sweet! I enjoyed working for “Ms. Moxie”.  We had so much fun, and the creativity that worked its way out onto the screens and in print was amazing! We were a team, and I felt like I was on the right track. But then, in 2012 I had to relocate due to financial troubles.


Until then I had been making it on my own: renting my own place, paying my own bills, and enjoying my time out with friends. However, as I had been forced to move into someone else’s house, I had to adjust my living habits and schedules. And the adjustments were NOT easy!! The living arrangements themselves were hard enough to deal with. But traveling over an hour to my job, driving an old car that was moodier than me on my worst PMS days, made things very difficult. Not to mention all the fuel I used!! I began to feel trapped.

2013 was merely a continuation of my troubles. My boss went through a troubling time of her own, and decided to have me work from home. “Great!” I thought. I could save the nearly $400 a month I’d been spending on gas. However, my saved gas money somehow ended up getting forked over for other expenses. I also saw my mother’s health declining. The stress of my living situation, my job, my finances, and now my mother’s poor health was really beginning to take its toll.


Now, as you may have read, I was all excited about 2014. And the first few months really showed some promise! If you’ve read up on my Moxie Makery post you’ll know that I now own a second Etsy shop, and you know how I acquired it. I was also contacted by three super awesome ladies about a totally amazing opportunity! That stupid Saturn Transit was finally beginning to reveal its rewards. But life was about to throw another curve ball.


My mother was hospitalized at the end of April, and again mid-May. It was during her second week-long stay in the hospital that I lost my job. As great a team as my boss and I were, we had been dealing with an unusually dry season. The business just wasn’t there. As is that weren’t bad enough, my boss then went through a tragic family situation. We tried a few weeks of reduced hours in the hopes that business would pick up. It didn’t, and my boss finally had to make the heart-wrenching decision to let me go. That’s just a downside of having your own business; there are no guarantees.


But I still had my new shop, right? Of course! I thought, “sales are still up, so I’ll just put in applications for jobs, and in the meantime my shop will supply me with enough funds to keep going.” But then, my shop sales started to dwindle, as the summer months aren’t exactly the best time of year for stationery supplies. As I said, when owning your own business, there are no guarantees.


Unfortunately my mother ended up back in the hospital AGAIN, having had a total of four surgeries for the same issue! And this is where I am now: no job, little to no shop sales in either store, a mother in poor health, and still living in a difficult situation. Oh yeah, and I’m still trying to pay off that credit card from 2011. Face thoroughly smacked.

However, I believe there is something to be gained from all this hardship. Remember what I said in the beginning? That everything happens for a reason? Well, here are my thoughts. My forced move may have been the beginning of a huge life lesson. I’ve had to learn to adapt to difficult situations, learn a new way of thinking, and, most (nerve-wracking) of all, I’ve had to learn the fine art of Patience. Damn you, Saturn Transit!

image of space
“Roche Limit” by Digital Blasphemy

I can now see the links between events. Maybe I had to lose my job so that I could take care of my mother in her time of need. Maybe I was blessed with the Moxie Makery shop in order to survive this time financially and to aid in my future business success. Maybe I had to work from home so that my car wouldn’t break down sooner from all the traveling, and so my money could be freed up for the other expenses. Maybe I crossed paths with my now-former boss so that I could learn how to manage a freelance graphic/web design business, and to eventually acquire the Etsy shop I’m depending on now. And maybe, just maybe I was planted in the living situation I’m in now in order to help the people I’m living with. And there may be many more lessons I’ve yet to learn. It’s all connected.

So, my final thought is that, no matter how difficult your situation is, no matter how much you want to just give up, remember that everything happens for a reason, and that the reason is to help you grow emotionally and/or spiritually. There is always a light in there somewhere to help you find your way, an inspiration to keep you motivated, if you just look for the positive. Change your way of thinking then you will find those links, and find your path.

So, have you ever been in difficult situations where you were able to find your way out? If so, let’s talk in the comments below! I’d love to hear about how you did it. Maybe your story can be my inspiration!

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