Tag Archives: artist

Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

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Making It In Music: From Covering Songs To Writing Them

If you love to play music, you probably started out playing covers of songs, whether you took part in lessons or got into the world of musicianship on a self-taught basis. Of course, if you find yourself wanting something more and you’re ready to start creating original tracks, then it can be hard to take the plunge in terms of putting pen to paper. While there are no ‘rules’ in terms of writing music, as creativity can’t be forced, there are ways in which you can hone in on your talents and start to create something original. Here are some pieces of advice to help you make a mark in the music world as a songwriter rather than a cover artist:

Understand the recording and production process:

When it comes to creating your own songs, writing something with a catchy melody and meaningful lyrics is only one part of the equation. In fact, being a musician with a beautiful singing voice and instrumental talent who performs well is also only a small part of the equation. You need to understand the recording and production process involved with creating music if you want your original tracks to really make their mark on listeners, and this involves more than simply turning on a mic and pressing ‘record’.

You need to ensure that the quality of the instruments being used and everything involved with the song has been honed to perfection, as it’s easy to capture every sound in a live environment, but not quite so much in a recorded environment. You might want to look into sites such as Box Tiger Music for help with choosing guitars or pianos based on reviews. It’s important that you strive to sound as good, if not better, than the top musicians in the industry before you’re anywhere near that status. That’s how you make it.

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He’s a babe! Shwing!

Jam:

Perhaps you understand the technicalities of music, but you just don’t feel creative or professional. While many big labels in the industry are full of songwriters and producers who have spent years learning how to create hit songs through observing what works, many musicians with a deep passion for the art of creating music want to ‘make it’ in a more organic way. If you’re much the same, then writing a catchy song which starts to turn heads and brings you attention in the music industry shouldn’t ever become a mechanical process. Instead of thinking about the simplistic chord progressions behind the biggest hits in history, you should just start jamming and see what happens.

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We all have the power to be creative. Whether you’re in a band or operating on a solo basis, just hit ‘record’, start messing around with your guitar, piano, voice, or whichever instrument you play, and see what happens. When you listen back to your five or ten minute jamming session later, you’ll likely hate a lot of it. However, there’s every chance that you’ll hear a gem in the form of a musical nugget which will really inspire you to form a fully-fledged song out of what was originally nothing more than a small riff or chord progression. Play around and see what happens, super star!

Featured Image By: Pexels

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Becoming An Audiophile Without Breaking The Bank

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Becoming An Audiophile Without Breaking The Bank

If you’re a music lover, then a pair of headphones and a cheap mini speaker in the corner of the room isn’t enough for you. An audiophile wants real quality. In the past, that might have been super expensive, between all of the hardware and the music collection your heart desires. Nowadays, however, it doesn’t have to have anywhere near that kind of impact on your wallet. Here, we’ll look at how you can tune into your inner music lover for a lot less.

Go Digital: You no longer have to fuss about setting up a huge system including a CD player, all of the connectors, and loads of speakers. Nowadays, you only need the power of your digital devices like your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and the right musical devices to connect to it. To that end, you want to look at high-quality Bluetooth speakers from places like Speaker Digital. Not only are Bluetooth speakers easily connected to all of those digital devices, but they require minimal wiring so you can transport that music setup of yours around the home for when you want to jam to your favorite tunes in a different setting. Some of the best Bluetooth speakers are backward compatible, too. So if you do have a vinyl player or CD system you want to hook up, you’re perfectly welcome to.

Get Smart With Your Placement: You don’t have to go buy hundreds of speakers to get the best room-filling sound, either. One can be enough. It’s all about where you place it and how you equalize it. This might require a bit of testing, but if you’re diligent, you can find the right setting. Just make sure that your speaker is placed in the best position in the room, where it’s not being cut off by corners of bookshelves or furniture. You want the sound to have as clear of a path of travel as possible. To make sure you’re calibrated to all of the highs and lows of the music so that nothing overlaps or drowns out the other parts of your music, it’s a good idea to use a bit of classical music as you equalize. Most famous pieces are diverse enough to give you an idea of how clear you can hear the individual parts of the music.

Stream, Don’t Buy: If you haven’t started using digital streaming methods of listening to music now, then you truly are missing out. Services like Spotify can offer you a library of thousands of your favorite songs. Nowadays, there’s a diverse market of different streaming services, so it’s true that you might not find some of your favorites all together on any one service. But if you don’t mind mixing and matching, it’s way cheaper than collecting CDs and even digital albums. You might want to spend a bit to get the ads out of the way, but that’s a small price to pay in comparison to purchasing every CD that you want to own.

Between cutting down on those once monumental hardware costs to getting all of your favorite tracks for less, it’s significantly easier to get your perfect audio setup. Just keep in mind the rules of speaker placement for the best possible quality with no distortion or blockages.

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Must-Have Tools For The Serious DIY Lover

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DIY enthusiasts can be found all over. Some people start doing DIY out of necessity but soon find that they love it. Others try their hand at some tasks because they think it will be fun and they discover that it is. Some people do a bit of casual DIY, but a few can get really into it. Serious DIYers will start with fixing a few things but will soon find themselves coming up with their own projects that they carry out. They will happily invent something to make or improve upon if they get to do some DIY. These people need to make sure they have the right tools. They need something a little more powerful than the standard items to make sure that they are making the most of their DIY. Like some of these, for example:

Power Sanders: Any DIY enthusiast worth their salt who likes to work with wood needs to have a power sander. Sure, using sandpaper is excellent for finishing something off, but you don’t want to do everything by hand when you have a huge project to tackle. If you want to take on a big project, you’ll need something more powerful to help you out. Sanding will help to prepare a surface or finish it off at the end of a project. There are different types of sanders to consider, though, so it’s important to get the right one. They include belt, disk, pad and random orbit sanders.

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 Handy is dandy!

Impact Drivers: If you’re a fan of DIY, you’re likely to have a power drill or screwdriver. However, if you’re serious about DIY, you should consider getting an impact driver. An impact driver is like a power screwdriver but with much more weight behind it. It has more force behind it, allowing you to drive a screw further into any surface. You can find out more about impact drivers on any good DIY or product review website.

Angle Grinders: Angle grinders are excellent because they will do several jobs at once. They can cut, sand, grind, and polish materials. If you’re a DIY enthusiast with a limited amount of space, this is the one tool that you should consider investing in. It’s one of the most recommended tools to have in your DIY kit so you might want to choose it over some other options. They don’t need to be expensive and you can find them at different price points from excellent brands.

Nailers: It may seem like a simple tool, but a nail gun should be in any DIY lover’s tool arsenal. Who wants to waste time with a hammer, pounding nails into various materials and surfaces? A nailer takes the pain out of the job, making putting in multiple nails quick and easy. It might be a relatively simple tool, but it can be one of the best for a dedicated DIY enthusiast. It can help out tremendously with tasks both big and small.

Anyone who loves DIY should make sure that they have the best tools for carrying out their work. If you take it seriously, your tools should be serious, too!

Easy Peasy Craft Tips For The Non-Crafty Gal

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Easy Peasy Craft Tips For The Non-Crafty Gal

In the world of Pinterest and DIY projects, you might just feel like the worst arts and crafter on the planet. But, fear not! Here are some fab tips to get yourself crafting in no time:

Easy Peasy Craft Tips For The Non-Crafty Gal:

Sometimes it seems as though the whole world has gone craft mad! Ever since the emergence of Etsy and other handmade marketplaces, people have jumped on board the craft wagon. But what if you’re not crafty or artsy? The simple answer is, you don’t have to be. If you fancy flexing your creative muscle, there’s a project for everyone.

Start Small: Like most things, it’s a good idea to start small. Find a simple project like an adult coloring book and go from there. Find a coloring book that you like and enjoy the simple pleasures of coloring in. And if coloring doesn’t appeal, find something that does. Try photography or give sewing a try. Look online for simple projects that are easy to complete but will make a big impact.

Find The Right Tools: In order to be creative, you need the right tools. They don’t have to be anything fancy. For some people, a pen or pencil is enough. Don’t go mad in the early stages. Take time to explore what you enjoy, then build up your tools slowly. It’s worth checking out online reviews and blogs to see what other people are using. Craft supplies are expensive so it makes sense to do your research.

Once you’ve found a craft you really like, it might be time to invest in the right tools. It may not be necessary to have something with all of the bells and whistles in the early stages. But as you become more experienced, you can save to add more to your craft cupboard. For example, a basic sewing machine may be sufficient for your early requirements. But as you begin to experiment, you may decide to add other accessories, such as a Singer walking foot, etc.

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The Fear: One of the greatest obstacles to creativity is the fear of the blank page. This is a combination of feeling overwhelmed and fear of failure. A common symptom is buying lots of beautiful notebooks but never using them. It’s that fear of making a mistake or messing up the page. The simple answer to this is that there are no rules when it comes to crafts. If you make a mess or a mistake, no problem. Just paint over it or start again. Some people bend their books or make a few ink blots on the cover to get past this initial fear.

Find What You Love: Finding a craft that you would like to invest your time in can be easier said than done. Look around, read blogs, and check out Pinterest pages. Find something that appeals to you and have a go. Don’t get stuck on one idea or technique. Experiment and keep on going. Strive to learn and discover as much as you can.

But a word of warning. Crafting is addictive. Prepare to spend evenings and weekends trying out new ideas and shopping for new tools. Expect to become a regular on craft forums and share your ideas on social media. And make sure to clear out some space in your home! Every closet, shelf, and spare room will soon be home to fabric samples, paints, glitter, and glue.

What is a DIY project that you are most proud of? (I welded a table in high school that I still have and I LOVE that thing!) What are some of your tips to struggling crafters? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image By: Pixabay

John Patrick Halling

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John Patrick Halling

Hellooo everyone and welcome to a very special article on lifewithlilred about an extremely talented artist that I had the pleasure of getting to know, Kent, Ohio blues musician, John Patrick Halling. I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with John Patrick about his most recent tour, his performance style, and some of the corniest jokes you’ll ever hear in your life.

Those who frequent my page will know that I have literally no talent for music. I can’t sing, I can’t play any instruments other than three songs on the guitar, and I also have cried during every concert I’ve ever attended – but that’s neither here nor there. What I’m getting at is that I LOVE talking with musicians because they are skilled at something that I wish I could do. John Patrick was no exception. He was humble and genuine with the quick wit of a seasoned performer. Take a look at part of the interview conducted by yours truly and listen along to the songs we discuss on his website.

Our chat began with some rapid fire questions about John’s most recent two month musical excursion, his Boy in the Water US tour, so let’s get to it:

  • Lil Red: What was your favorite place you traveled to?
  • John Patrick Halling: Well I’m from Kansas City, so playing there was a lot of fun. I loved Asheville, North Carolina which was a cool little hippie city, and Boulder, Colorado too.
  • LR: What was your favorite tourist activity you did?
  • JPH: I liked trying all of the different foods and craft beers, sight seeing, and hiking! I hiked ten to twelve national parks. For two weeks of my travels I hiked from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon.
  • LR: Favorite restaurant?
  • JPH: Oh, what was it’s name? The Mellow Mushroom. It was in the south. It was wood fired pizzas, there was a lot of vegan and vegetarian options, and a bunch of stuff on the walls…Not in the TGIFridays or Applebee’s way, in the cool way. The Mexican food in New Mexico and Arizona was also out of this world. (So jealous, mama loves Mexican food!)
  • LR: Favorite venue?
  • JPH: It was called the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, West Virginia. This place was cool because it had a hostel built into the venue where the performers could stay as well as a crowd that was pretty much built in too from all of the tourists and locals.
  • LR: Where would you like to go again?
  • JPH: Everywhere! Wyoming was beautiful and it was filled with the nicest people – they were exactly how you would picture people from Wyoming to be, in the best way possible. I am bummed that I didn’t make it out west, though.
  • LR: How many shows did you play?
  • JPH: Around thirty…I played to a few empty coffee shops. I also performed at open mics and found a few good places on the streets where I would set up shop and play. Pearl Street in Boulder was great for that and so was San Antonio and Asheville.
  • LR: How many miles did you travel?
  • JPH: I traveled 12,000 miles in two months. But 2,000 of those miles was probably me driving around not knowing where I was going. My GPS system broke down halfway through the trip so I had to buy a road map, which was actually hard to find. I had to map out my routes and rough it and if all else failed, I still had my phone! Being on the road is a glamorous thing.

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^^^ Pictured above: John striking a pose in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming as well as a scenic pic he snapped while driving into Kansas City.

After having a spitfire session about the Boy in the Water tour, John and I moved on to discussing his music, his style, and his future plans for his career. Please don’t think that I use the word spitfire lightly, either. All of the questions above were asked and answered in a little over five minutes. Everyone tells me that I’m a very fast talker and I met my match with John Patrick! Turn his music up and let’s move on:

  • LR: Where did the title for your album Boy in the Water come from? Are you part merman?
  • JPH: Well now the secrets out! I tried a lot of different titles but they were all basic and boring. My cousins and I are big fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and in one of the opening scenes Elizabeth is standing on a boat and she sees Will Turner flailing in the ocean and she says “there’s a boy in the water”. So the album title is a tip of my cap to my family as well as whatever metaphorical symbolism it might mean.
  • LR: What was the first song you learned on the guitar?
  • JPH: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and some Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Since we’re sitting in a Starbucks, I like my coffee how I like my Eric Clapton greatest hits albums, with a little bit of Cream in it!
  • LR: I was a fan of your Hawthorne Heights reference in “If I Would’ve Known”, who are some of your musical influences?
  • JPH: Everything. Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Hendrix. I grew up on 90’s country. I had a Rasta phase in high school where I listened to a lot of Bob Marley. I had my punk phase where I played a bunch of Blink, Simple Plan, and Green Day.
  • LR: Your lyrics are very poetic, have you always liked to write or was that a talent you didn’t know you had?
  • JPH: A little bit of both. I loved history and English classes which involved a lot of writing. I was also always a performer because I’m the middle child who was always striving for attention! I was very into theater in high school and played in quite a few different bands so I think all of these things helped develop my writing style.
  • LR: I thought it was interesting how in “Siren Song” you portrayed the devil as a woman. Is that based on a particular situation?
  • JPH: Kind of, but it also goes back to mythology in general when mermaids would sing their siren songs to tempt men. Women have always been men’s number one vice, asides from beer and cigarettes. But I also feel like I lose myself in relationships very easily. I try to change myself for the person and make myself into what they want me to be instead of finding someone who accepts me for my vices…If that makes sense.
  • LR: It makes perfect sense. Because I have a lot of fashion bloggers tuning in, how would you describe your look when you’re playing a show?
  • JPH: I wear whatever doesn’t smell. No, I’m a big hat guy, I have three or four wide brimmed Brixtons and Stetsons that I love. I also wear a lot of boots. You’ll never see me in shorts though, I’m always in jeans…I woke up like this.
  • LR: You should be a comedian if your music career falls through.
  • JPH: I actually love telling jokes on stage. Why does Peter Pan always fly? Because he never lands. That joke never gets old. It’s got a good hook to it.
  • LR: So where do you see John Patrick Halling one year from now?
  • JPH: Hopefully on the road again. I’d like to start recording a new album in January or February and be out on another tour by August. I have about ten to fifteen songs to narrow down so I’m still deciding on if it will be an album or an EP.
  • LR: And finally, does the drinking ever end in downtown Kent?
  • JPH: Not when you’re drinking with your friends!

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^^^ Pictured above: Sporting a signature hat in Asheville, North Carolina and a view of the picturesque Arches National Park in Utah. (Can we just talk about how the sky in both pictures looks like something out of a story book? So amazing.)

Are you a fan of John Patrick Halling? You can reach out to him by:

  • Liking his page on Facebook
  • Following him on Twitter
  • Following him on Instagram
  • Emailing him at: johnpatrickhalling@yahoo.com

You can also listen to the album Boy in the Water on all of the following mediums:

I really can’t begin to tell you guys how much I enjoyed my time with the fantastic John Patrick Halling. The pleasure was truly all mine and I can’t wait to see him perform in the near future! Do you have any questions for John Patrick? What is your favorite song off of his album Boy in the Water? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Man Crush Monday: Unknown Edition

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Man Crush Monday: Unknown Edition

Hellloooo everyone and welcome to the newest edition of Man Crush Monday or lack thereof because I don’t have one! After countless weeks of swooning over a handsome male celebrity each Monday, I’ve finally run out. The well has run dry and I can no longer think of a #MCM for the week…and #WCW for that matter. So now I need your help! Who are some of your #MCMs? What male actor, musician, artist, or model do you have the hots for right now? I wanna hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Nelson Morris: For The Sake Of Art

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Nelson Morris: For The Sake Of Art

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special article on lifewithlilred. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Nelson Morris, a teacher, an artist, and now a new friend. Nelson recently had a part of his work entitled the “1000 Faces Project” featured at the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival and it is currently being displayed at the Waterloo Sculpture Garden and let me tell you, those who can make it out are in for a treat. Learning the intricacies of Nelson’s artwork was such a joy and I know I shouldn’t be saying this but I’m going to anyways…I have never been so excited to work with someone. Take a look at the interview conducted by yours truly as well as some photos of Nelson’s creations:

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  • Lil Red: So the first thing everyone is obviously going to want to know about is your latest creative endeavor, the “1000 Faces Project”, so tell me more.
  • Nelson: Of course. It started when I was a student teacher in Middlefield, Ohio. My art students never wanted to do portraits, which I think comes from the social anxiety a student can often feel from the fear of making a mistake. I fought tooth and nail with them about it and one day I set up a still life of a plaster cast and the kids drew it. Something in them clicked, similar to the light bulb moment that I had during a trip to New York City to help a fellow artist. I saw so many people and all I wanted to do was draw all of their faces. This project is about diversity and the subtle facial differences that make us unique. What makes us the same? What makes us different? I wanted to find out, so I began making casts.
  • LR: Approximately how many faces have you cast?
  • N: So far I have 165.
  • LR: And you think you’re going to get to 1000?
  • N: Yes, I really do. At the Ingenuity exhibit I was set up on stage casting audience members. I casted thirty faces there and got a great response so hopefully I can keep that momentum going.
  • LR: Has it been difficult finding people willing to sit for you to get their faces cast?
  • N: Yes! The casting part is easy, it’s finding people that’s the hardest. I can transport an 1800 pound statue on my own and it’s horrible but finding people is much harder.
  • LR: How have you been finding people to plaster?
  • N: First I started by reaching out to my friends on Facebook but then I quickly ran out. I then started adding all of the people on the “people you may know” section – I sent a friend request to anyone who looked sane! That’s how I got in touch with you!
  • LR: I’m glad I look sane to you! But I do the exact same thing when I want more views on my site – a friend on Facebook is a potential viewer.
  • N: I’ve met some great people from it, too. One time I got to cast a group of fifteen people in the basement of the Fastlane bowling alley in Barberton after it closed thanks to finding the owner on Facebook.
  • LR: I didn’t even know bowling alleys had basements! What are some of the most memorable moments from all of the people you’ve casted?
  • N: I’ve had some creepy ones, that’s for sure – but I’ve also had a lot of really fun ones too…Except for the first cast that I ever did, which was on my own face. As an artist, you always experiment on yourself first, so I was home alone at my parent’s house and I stood in front of a mirror and started to cover my face in plaster. I had straws in my nose, walrus-style, so I could breathe and after about three layers of plaster I covered my eyes and did the rest by touch. This was in June and I had hay fever at the time and the straws stuck up my nose kept on bumping and tickling me and before I knew it, I felt a huge sneeze coming on. I tried to pry the cast off but it was stuck on there pretty good and for a split second I thought to myself, “great, this is how I’m going to die – with a plaster face mask on”. But I got the cast off and I survived! However, the plaster that I used originally was very rough and gritty and when I pulled the mask off some chunks of plaster got into my eyes…I spent forty-five minutes in the shower trying to wash it all out.
  • LR: The things people do for their craft. Can you tell me more about the process of creating a plaster face cast?
  • N: Well, the process was a bit messy to start because I’ve only plastered bodies, never a face. I used to use about six layers of gauze impregnated with plaster but now I’ve got it down to only one to two layers. Like I said, making the casts is the easiest part now. All you do is dip the gauze in water, squeegee it off, and slap it on the face. I’ve got the process down from a half hour to ten or fifteen minutes flat.
  • LR: What do you think the finished product is going to be like once you’ve finally cast 1000 faces?
  • N: It changes all the time. I think very architecturally though so the idea right now is to have the faces lined up next to each other, kind of like in the old underground catacombs. When they’re lined up next to each other is when you can truly compare and contrast them. I also want to incorporate audio into the project. I take recordings of the voices of everyone who I’ve plastered and I would like to make it so if you touch one of the faces you can hear the voice of the model.
  • LR: Wait what? How do you plan on doing that?
  • N: I know it sounds crazy but stay with me! I’ve played with this idea before with a life sized terracotta statue. The sound chip was solar powered so when the sun lined up just right the statue of the woman would begin to sing. But that was just for one statue – I had no idea how I would do it with hundreds of face casts. I started to ask around for help and the head engineer of 107.9 (a Cleveland radio station) told me about a processing board that might make the idea possible. I happened to find a hobby group dedicated to working on the processing boards in Akron and I emailed a member with the subject “For The Sake Of Art”. He replied and has been helping me with creating the codes and wiring to give the plaster masks voices.
  • LR: I’m so excited to see the “1000 Faces Project” in all of its concrete and audio glory. So, if you could say one thing to a young Nelson before he had a beard, what would it be?
  • N: Everything’s gonna turn out alright.

Pretty cool, huh? Not only is Nelson an artist extraordinaire, but he also teaches pre-k through 8th grade. How he has time to breathe is beyond me! He told me a great story about how on the first day of one of his classes he presented the students with a basket of one hundred pencils and a pair of bolt cutters. He cut off the eraser to every pencil because his students don’t use erasers in his classes so that they can learn how to fix their problems on their own. This goes along hand in hand with the mantra he tells his students daily: “Making a mistake isn’t a problem when you’re creating art work. You have to learn from your mistakes and adapt from them”.

Nelson is a self funded artist who creates customized pieces and will be selling replicas of the tiles seen in the pictures featured on this post. If you are interested in any of his art work old and new or have ideas for a custom piece, you can contact him at:

If you live in the Akron/Cleveland, Ohio area and are interested in having Nelson cast your face he now offers free house casting parties. If you can get five people to attend, he will come to you. But if you get ten or more people to come to the party, all of the guests will receive a free record of their face which will look something like this:

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I want to thank Nelson so much for sitting down with me for a chat because it was seriously an  honor. If you have any questions for my new friend you can reach him through any of the mediums I posted above or leave me a comment to relay to him. Would you get your face plastered for the 1000 Faces Project? What do you think Nelson’s finished product is going to end up looking like? We wanna hear from all of you, so leave us a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah