Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

written by Georgia Schumacher 24 November 2014

Thankgiving turkeyIf it’s your turn to host the big Thanksgiving dinner, there's no need for hectic last minute scrambling for the right decor or to break the bank as you create the perfect holiday meal.

Anyway, isn't the holiday really all about spending time with the people you care about and being grateful for what you have? Whatever you do (or don't do) beyond those two simple acts is entirely fine!

Table settings

Don’t have enough place settings for everyone? It’s perfectly fine to mix and match dishes. If you have them, choose ones that have the same color scheme or a similar style. If you're set on having matching dishes, consider asking friends or neighbors who are going out of town to borrow their dishes. Many stores also sell high-quality plastic plates which look nice and reduce the amount of cleanup you have to do after your guests leave. Who even notices the plates when they're gobbling down a delicious meal anyway?

Decor

Let's start this by saying a spread of your favorite dishes surrounded by the smiling faces of your friends and family might be all the decor you need. It's simple, practical, and visually appealing. If you like having more on table though, use as many items as possible from what you already own. Consider arranging flowers, pine cones, acorns, and/or branches from outside in a vase to create a festive fall look in the dining room. Or, if you want to purchase a few items for decor for this year and future Thanksgivings, check out thrift shops or your local hobby and craft stores, which often have items on sale and coupons available online or in flyers.

Meal Planning

Keep the food you serve on the simple side, since fewer ingredients means a cheaper bill. The turkey is the star of the show! Use boxed stuffing mix and frozen vegetables for side dishes. Other ideas to save money on food include:

Plan ahead. Look for deals on turkeys between different supermarkets.

Use coupons. Many common side dishes and ingredients like green beans, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie filling go on sale just before the holiday.

Make it potluck. Have the desserts or side dishes be potluck style where everyone (or at least those who live nearby) brings something. Most people are more than willing to contribute a dish!

Keep it simple. If it’s a small gathering, consider purchasing a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.

Hosting a Thanksgiving feast doesn’t need to cost a fortune. By planning ahead, you can create a scrumptious meal that's long on entertainment but short on expenses.

Related Post: 7 Foods We're Craving This Fall

3 Photography Blogs for You to Follow

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 November 2014

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First Years' Focus and Fire

http://firstyearsfocusandfire.blogspot.com/

Melanie Fiander is a senior full-time faculty member at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division, where she teaches photography and time-based media. Her blog, First Years’ Focus and Fire, is intended to supplement what students can learn in the first few years of their diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree program. She typically publishes three posts per week:

Make it Mondays, with tutorials, advice for class, photographers tips, and more
Website Wednesdays, which highlights a variety of educational and inspirational sites
Pho-Tog Fridays, which can introduce you to new and talented photographers

The Blog of Professor Phillips

http://professorphillips.blogspot.com/

Stephen John Phillips is a faculty member teaching photography at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division as well as a freelance photo illustrator. He has been teaching and taking photographs for over 30 years. His blog is intended for those students who have graduated recently as well as those nearing graduation, with the goal of helping these individuals prepare to enter photography careers.

To name just a few, his clients have included:

• The Baltimore Sun
• Crown Random House
• The Discovery Channel Magazine
• Marvel Comics
• The Maryland Ballet
• Simpson Racing (NASCAR)
• World Wildlife Fund

Student Ambassador's Blog

http://pspnmentor.blogspot.com/

The Photography Students Professional Network regularly selects current students to write for this blog as Student Ambassadors. The posts on this blog include helpful advice on coursework, photography projects, online communication, and more! Every day of the week typically has an assigned ambassador, so readers get to hear from a variety of people with diverse opinions and interests!

Check out these blogs or explore our programs in the area of photography today!

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any website linked to this website/newsletter. The links are provided for your information and convenience only. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division does not endorse, support or sponsor the content of any linked websites. If you access or use any third party Web sites linked to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division’s website, you do so at your own risk. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division makes no representation or warranty that any other Web site is free from viruses, worms or other software that may have a destructive nature.

Where Wearable Tech Meets Fashion

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 November 2014

Wearable techTechnology and fashion are both huge industries, and designers from each sector are coming together to spark a revolution in the way we use technology. Wearable technology could change the lives of fashion-conscious people for the better, whether it's T-shirts that monitor your health or jewelry that lets you know when you have messages or calls waiting.

Wearable Tech at New York Fashion Week

Although wearable gadgets were once clunky and inelegant, the latest generation of wearable tech aims to look beautiful and perform flawlessly. In fact, wearable technology has so convincingly crossed over into fashion that several high-tech accessories were featured during the 2014 New York Fashion Week.

Designer Rebecca Minkoff was one of the big stars of Fashion Week, with her high-tech jewelry that delivers some real functionality, as well as beautiful design. For the fashionista who doesn’t want to take time out from socializing to reach into her bag and check her mobile phone, there's a gold bracelet that connects with the phone using Bluetooth and subtly delivers a notification whenever a call or text comes in.

Ralph Lauren smart T-shirts were also featured at New York Fashion Week. These biometric wearables use silver-coated threads to conduct electrical signals through the shirt, allowing them to measure your heart and respiration rates, as well as your movements as you walk, run or play sports.

Fitness-Tracking Fashion

Many fitness-related wearable gadgets, such as the Fitbit Flex, are already very popular among runners and sportspeople. Fitbit Flex is a wristband that monitors the steps you take and the calories you burn, and watches over you while you sleep to assess the quality of your nighttime rest. Their most well-known wristband looks very technological, with its bright colors and light-up display. However, with the right design input from fashion houses, fitness-tracking wearable tech could deliver the same functionality in a much more subtle and fashion-conscious way. With its line of Tory Burch bracelets and pendants, FitBit may already be leading the industry in that arena.

With fashion designers taking on the challenge of incorporating wearable tech into their existing lines, there's the potential for wearables to develop into clothes that look and feel as good as the tech that powers them functions.

3 Design Elements You Can’t Afford to Ignore in Testing

written by Georgia Schumacher 13 November 2014

Do your web design choices compel users to take further action or cause them to swiftly click away? Once you have great written content, your design must be carefully crafted. Sometimes, A/B testing will reveal the most effective design, while other times, asking directly for feedback offers a wealth of information. Here are just a few graphic design and web elements that should be tested.

1. CTA Position

The call-to-action, or CTA, tells the user what you want him to do next. Maybe you want him to sign up for a webinar, or perhaps the CTA will help a user navigate to a video. The CTA is usually a clickable button that should be placed near the top of the page. Users may scroll down to the bottom of the screen, but only if your content and design compel them to read that far. In many cases, placing the CTA at the top of the screen where the user can't miss it is the best choice. Remember that web users read in an F-shaped pattern. Testing CTA position lets you see where it is most likely to be clicked.

CTA buttons2. CTA Color

The color of your CTA button is another important element of any interactive design. Some colors will jump out from the page better than others, and, when your background is white, many options exist. The color of the CTA should stand out on your design -- but not like a sore thumb. Finding the right CTA color can be a fine line; it should typically be consistent with the overall design scheme, but the CTA may be ignored if it blends in with the background or neighboring design elements. The only way to know what CTA colors work best is testing!

3. Photo Selection

A powerful image may keep people on a web page or email screen and increase user engagement. Using images of real customers, versus stock photography, generally adds more value to the design. However, product photos may also be more appropriate in certain situations. The placement and size of the photo will also affect its impact. Users may ignore an image placed off to the side without a clear relationship to the text. Knowing which image will connect best with the end user may be a bit of a guessing game. Testing enables designers to determine which photos elicit the best response from users.

Testing Methods

TestingOne popular means of testing your web or interactive design is A/B testing. When utilizing this method, you will create two versions of your email, landing page, website, or other design to implement simultaneously. In most cases, each version is exactly the same, minus one difference--that could be copy, CTA color, CTA position, or any other element you are testing. Sometimes, you may need to test two entirely different designs, but when you begin changing multiple pieces on your design it becomes hard to know to which design elements you can attribute success. Whichever version produces the most interactions can be used moving forward--and you can always continue testing other elements over time. Remember, testing your web design stands to greatly increase the success of your efforts. Don't be afraid to learn by trial and error!

Learn more about web design best practices in our Web Design & Interactive Media Programs.

A Thank You to Veterans

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 November 2014

US flag

This Veterans Day, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division extends our gratitude to all those who have served in the U.S. military—including our many brave military students, faculty, and staff—for their courage, commitment, and patriotism. We remember and honor these individuals for the numerous ways they have made our world a better place throughout history.

Today and every day, our faculty and staff are committed to supporting each of our military-affiliated students as they prepare to pursue rewarding creative careers. Last month, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division was honored to be named a 2015 Military Friendly® School, and we remain dedicated to offering flexible degree programs, scholarship opportunities, academic support, and transfer of credit policies that can help make education more affordable and attainable for all students.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, military students are encouraged to join our chapter of the Student Veterans of America in Connections (under the Organizations tab), a network where peers can provide academic and personal support, share helpful information, and discuss a wide range of topics and common interests. We also encourage military students to explore the resources and organizations available via the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thank you again for the sacrifices you have made and all that you have done for this country!