Q: How long have you been writing this blog?

I founded Chic Steals in January 2008. You can read more about the history of this blog and my affinity for DIY here on my About page.

Q: What camera do you use for your photos?

Usually I use my Canon EOS 6D, though occasionally for event photos I’ll use a Nikon COOLPIX P310 because it’s light and easy to carry.

Q: What are your favorite lenses?

I get a lot of use out of my 50mm f/1.4 and my 24-105mm f/4 L zoom lens – though my Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Lens is hands-down my absolute fave for DIY tutorials and detailed close-ups! If you’re just starting out with DSLR photography, I’d recommend the 50mm f/1.4fsince it is affordable and you can get a variety of photos with it.

Q: Who takes your photos?

I do. In the past I have asked other people to take them (like my son or photographer friend Brooke Morse) but now 99% of the photos on the blog are taken by me with my camera on a tripod and the EOS Remote App on my iPhone (I don’t know how I survived without it). I’ll include the photo credit for photos taken by other people.

Q: What do you use to edit your photos?

I’ve been using Photoshop since 1998 back when it was Photoshop 2…so I’m pretty comfortable in it.

Q: Who designed your blog? What is it hosted on?

My blog is hosted on Bluehost on the WordPress.org CMS on a shared CDN. The theme is a template that I’ve hacked, tweaked, and made a child theme for in order to change many of the display functions. I highly recommend Bluehost hosting with WordPress – they’re the best! (Plus you have complete control over every element on your site…and I’m a total control freak so it’s perfect for me 😉 )

Q: Who designed your logo?

Me! I design logos for people in my spare time. Need a custom logo? Let me know and I’ll help you out!

Q: How did you learn about blogging?

By doing it! Everything I know, I taught myself over the years. I started on Blogspot, then self-hosted Blogger, then WordPress.com, and now self-hosted WordPress. I had been creating websites in Microsoft FrontPage and HTML back in 2002 onwards, but didn’t learn about CSS, PHP, and XML until I began blogging in 2007. From there I learned about writing for content, conversion metrics, social media marketing, SEO…pretty much everything I now do for pay!


Q: Where do you live?

In a lavender-grey house just south of Portland, OR. Though I’m in a suburb, it’s technically still the Portland Metro area.

Q: There are a lot of pictures of you on your blog with a garden in the background. Is that yours?

Yes, it’s the garden behind my house. It was what made me choose this house, and I’ve worked over the years to add many cool things to it. I have a pear tree, plum tree, sour cherry tree, dwarf pixie crunch apple tree, strawberries, mammoth red raspberries, a blueberry, and a goji berry bush. I also added Blue Lady blue roses, Queen of Night black tulips, and Sorbet Peonies. I love blue and black flowers best (as well as unusual specimen and green flowers) and have a Pinterest board filled with gardening ideas for rare and bizarre flower.

Q: Where are you from?

Born in rural Northwestern New Jersey and lived there 12 years. My parents are actually both Australian and I was the first of my family born in the U.S.

Q: Do you have any siblings?

One younger brother who is a Professor of Mathematics and is always off on some math conference expounding new theorems and the like.

Q: How many different places have you lived?

Califon [New Jersey], Yokohama, Tokyo, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Middlebury [Vermont], Honolulu, and now Portland, Oregon.

Q: Do you speak any other languages?

Yes, Japanese. My family moved to Japan when I was 11 due to my father’s job as a research chemist. I lived in Japan 6 years and have been speaking, reading, and writing the language for over 25 years now. I’ve worked as a translator and simultaneous interpretor in the past. If you’re particularly curious and want to hear me speak Japanese, I put up a YouTube video years ago of me speaking it to my son.

Q: How old is your son?

He was born in 2005 in Honolulu. I raised him only speaking Japanese in the beginning since that was the language in our household. Even though he heard English from birth outside of the home, he did not begin speaking it until around age 5.

Q: What do you do for your day job?

Many, many things. Right now I do social media marketing, online marketing, and SEO implementation, working part-time for high-end commercial photography and videography studio Studio 3, Inc. I also produce and edit online branded videos with my media production company Uncommon Era. And I consult for individuals and small businesses wanting to create or expand an online presence, re-designing their websites, doing troubleshooting, creating tailored solutions that fit their businesses. Pretty much, if it’s online – I do it!!

//  ADVICE & HOW-TO  //

Q: I’m thinking of starting a blog. Any advice?

There is so much great advice out there! Once wonderful resource is Portland Bloggers (a group I volunteer with) – and they have extensive articles about blogging how-to and tips and tricks. I also like Wonder Forest for her info.

Q: How do I…DIY this?

Send me an email…or leave a link in a comment…and I’ll check it out and help!

Q: What sewing machine do you have?

Both my sewing machine and 4-thread serger are old Kenmore 385 models. If you’re looking for a good starter machine, I’d recommend the Singer 2259 Tradition 19-Stitch Sewing Machine and the Brother 1034D Serger if you want to get into serging for that professional, finished look. Buy a refurbished or floor model machine direct from a sewing center if you want an even better-quality machine at a steep discount!

Q: What sewing tools are must-haves if I want to make my own clothing?

I share a blog post about the Must-Have Tools for Sewing DIY’s here that hopefully will get you started. Also see: Must-Have Tools for Embellishing DIY’s and Must-Have Tools for Jewelry DIY’ing.


*I don’t drink alcohol. Period. I loathe the taste of it, and am a total teetotaler.

*I also don’t drink coffee or caffeinated drinks or soda. Water all the way, baby!

*I taught myself to play the guitar when I was 13, and then the bass shortly thereafter. I used to play bass in a death metal band in high school (LOL) and then a pop band in college.

*I have a B.A. in Film/Video and also 2 Certificates in Animation. After college in the U.S. I went to animation school in Tokyo and learned hand-drawn 2D Japanese animation techniques from the source.

*When I was around 19 in 1998 I was very into nail art and was thinking about going for a technician’s license. (I was into 3D acrylic sculpture and embeds.) It was yet another hobby of mine that never reached fruition!

*I’m kind of addicted to Vosges chocolates, salt, cheeses, and peanut butter anything.

*I love cats – grew up with the same 2 kitties who were with me for 21 years. At some point in my life I will return to total crazy cat lady-ness!

*I have a photographic memory and can recall dates, numbers, photographs, and paragraphs of text that I’ve only seen once to a high degree of accuracy.

*I LOVE making jewelry! I’m often wearing jewelry I’ve made in outfit posts on this blog.

*Favorite magazines: Lucky Magazine, Marie Claire, and Vivi – these are where I get the bulk of my ideas for DIY’s.

Have a question I haven’t answered above? Give me a holla at carlyjcais AT chic-steals.com – I’d love to hear from you!