Q&A with Harrison Tarabella

One of the best parts of my Samford experience has been all the creative people I’ve met during my four years here. One such example is Harrison Tarabella: a talented visual artist who got his initial training from professional National Geographic photographer. I sat down with Harrison to talk about where his passion comes from, his favorite experiences thus far and what’s next for him.

Answers have been edited for content and clarity.

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5 ways to procrastinate productively

We live in trying times. It seems that there is constantly so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. In a world where deadlines reign supreme and productivity is held in a place of honor, “procrastination” is shunned like a bad word. But, fret not! It is possible to put off doing that overwhelming task and still be productive. Cross something off of your to-do list with these great ways to procrastinate productively.

  1. Get organized. Take a moment to tidy everything up. Throw away the 45 coffee cups you’ve collected on your desk. Wash the dishes you’ve been pretending not to notice in the sink. Cleaning your home or workspace is a perfectly productive way to procrastinate; yes, you still haven’t finished that report your boss wants on her desk Monday morning, but at least you vacuumed. Besides, being surrounded by clutter hinders productivity, so clearing out all of that old junk might be the perfect way to get your mind ready to work.
  2. Feed your brain. If cleaning up didn’t do it for you, treating yourself to some brain food might help get your mind going. Start reading that book that has been collecting dust on your bookshelf. Learn a couple of new words in English … or maybe in Spanish. If you can’t force yourself to be productive, at least you can make yourself smarter.
  3. While you’re at it, feed your body, too. Let’s face it: You can’t work well on an empty stomach. When was the last time you ate something that was green? And, no, those St. Patrick’s Day-themed cupcakes don’t count. Consider preparing a healthy meal or snack to fill your belly before getting to work.
  4. Catch up on events in the world around you. Have you been ignoring everything going on in the world? Now is the time to catch up on all the current events you’ve been neglecting. Spend a couple of minutes reading or watching the news.
  5. Take time to focus on self-care. In this stressful, work-oriented world, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Don’t doubt the importance of maintaining good mental health when it comes to working. Self-care and self-love are important for productivity and an overall better quality of life. So, spend a little quality time with the most important person in your life: yourself! Treat yourself to a hot bath or curl up on the couch in your coziest pajamas and watch that episode of Game of Thrones you can’t believe you missed. Perhaps you could even go for a run to clear your mind or meditate to center yourself. Yes, you have work to do, but you know that you’ll get it done eventually. As much stuff as you have on your to-do list, you deserve a little break!

Keeping the Creativity

Madison Whitehead, founder of Keeping the Creativity

Have you ever felt like your creative freedom is stifled by your work environment? That you have no time for creativity in your work because you are constantly managing and maintaining your business?

One emerging business owner successfully crafted a solution.

Madison Whiteneck is the mastermind behind Keeping the Creativity, a business that manages busy work for companies so business owners can get work on what matters. They can get back to creativity.

Whiteneck graduated from Samford University in 2016 with a degree in journalism and mass communication and has turned her combined passions for creativity and organization into a business.

Her vision is to provide local creatives with services such as social media, product launch, inbox management and large-scale writing pieces.   She achieves this through virtual assistant services, or management of the “little things,” which normally occupy the visionary’s brainpower and time.

Keeping the Creativity also provides freelance services including InDesign work and editing. The services range from daily assistance to passion projects.

When Whiteneck is not busy planning her own life, she is at work planning the lives of others.  Her new website launched this month, and her network of creatives continues to grow.

In Whiteneck’s business venture, it pays to be creative. Here is a conversation with Whiteneck about how her ambitious idea helped launch Keeping the Creativity.


Where did the idea for Keeping the Creativity originate?

Keeping the Creativity originally started out as a blog. My 9 to 5 job right out of college was pretty limiting to my personal creativity and I wanted to “keep the creativity” alive, so I started blogging. I wrote about everything from DIY’s to local coffee shops and my latest favorite outfits. I offered freelance services at the time so I started to feature more of my projects on my website as well. When I left my first career job, interest in my blog turned business grew a lot so I started taking on full time clients and more freelance projects.  


What is the most challenging part of starting your own business?

Finding and landing new and exciting clients. Having a local creative network has helped me a ton in gaining projects that I am excited to work on, but I always want to keep extending that network as much as possible. It takes a lot of work to reach out to others and turn it into business. Most of the time when I reach out to other creative, it just starts as a mutual interest in a project or idea and then it turns into a collaboration or working together, which I love.


 What is a valuable lesson you have learned since starting Keeping the Creativity?

Don’t let other people’s negative opinions discredit your hard work. I have put in a lot of time and effort into building my business and I understand there can be a lot of competition out there, but I have to just be myself and do the best with what I’ve got.


What is your advice to someone dreaming up a large-scale business idea?

Take a serious look at the time you can devote to your idea. Also, look at your finances because you have to invest a lot in the beginning. This past year, I invested almost half of what I made into my business, but it has paid off. In the first two months of 2017, my income has already equaled all of what I made last year with Keeping the Creativity.


What is your vision for the future of Keeping the Creativity?

I would love to work with more creatives to help them execute their big brand ideas. It would be great if Keeping the Creativity could evolve into a creative consulting agency. Who knows?! I am keeping the door open on those aspects for the future.

There’s No Place Like Homewood

Have you ever heard of some of the suburbs of Birmingham and wanted to visit, but weren’t sure what to do there? We here at The Local will take time over the next four weeks to take you to the most popular neighborhoods of Birmingham and highlight the best things to do there.

Homewood is a thriving suburb south of Birmingham that balances the world of commercial retail and local joints, making this city a unique place to spend the day touring.

When you first arrive in Homewood, shop around and get something to eat on the iconic 18th Street in downtown Homewood. The strip of diverse stores and restaurants will bring the small-town feeling to life as you pop in and out of the locally run shops.

18th Street in downtown Homewood.

Next, drive less than a mile over to Do It Yourself Crafts to immerse yourself in a creative and relaxing environment. From making pottery and painting to glass fusing and decorating ornaments, there are a wide variety of crafts you and your friends can make together. Classes are offered throughout the week and spaces are available for parties and group events.

Urban Air is the next stop, especially if you have kids with you. Let them get all their energy out at the indoor trampoline park as they jump on wall-to-wall trampolines, dunk

Homewood antique store in the Edgewood neighborhood.

basketballs in super tall baskets, play dodgeball and flip into the huge foam pits. The family-friendly trampoline park hosts birthday parties for all ages.


When it’s time for dinner, the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood will satisfy your hunger. With all types of cuisines, it’ll be hard to choose what to eat.

Once you’ve finished up your meal (and ice cream from the local creamery) stroll down to Homewood Park, where you can play ball or watch the sunset.


Homewood Park

Let us know how your day in Homewood was in the comments below.


Christmas Time is Here: How to get in the spirit


  • Christmas Tree

Whether it’s tall or short, nothing makes a home more in the Christmas spirit than a Christmas-lighted tree. Inexpensive, artificial trees are found cheap at Big Lots or Ollies stores. Small trees can be found for cheap at Salvation army!

  • Garland and Christmas Lights

Many dorm rooms or apartments may already have Christmas lights hanging. What better way than to make the space feel more Christmas-like and the wrap garland around the lights!

  • Hot cocoa in a Christmas mug

Nothing may feel more like Christmas than ending a long day on a chilly night with a cup of hot cocoa in your favorite Christmas mug!

  • Peppermint candles  

They may not be allowed in the dorms, but fill your home with Christmas air this holiday season!

  • Spotify Christmas playlist

Nothing brings more cheer than filling your rooms with Christmas music for all to hear!

  • Christmas movie night

Gather your friends and enjoy a cozy favorite Christmas movie!

ALL things FALL

As fall approaches, it is always so exciting to embrace all things orange and cinnamon. Today we have compiled a few different resources to get you ready to take on fall in full swing! We have included a few Do-it-Yourself projects to decorate for fall as well as some free fall prints that you can hang up!

 G O L D   S P R A Y   P A I N T…. is your best friend!

leavesGold spray paint can make anything look cute! It also can live on into the Christmas and New Year’s seasons! Find a few things that you can add a touch of gold spray paint to. Our favorites were edging a few pumpkins, pine cones, and leaves! You can purchase pumpkins or you can just go for a walk and collect leaves and pine cones and minimize your cost to just the spray paint!


After collecting what you desire to spray paint, head outside with a few paper towels and tape them to the areas that you do not want spray-painted and have a few cute pieces for decor!


P I N E C O N E G A R L A N D ….scented!

Step 1. Gather about 12 pinecones

Step 2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

Step 3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the pinecones on top.

Step 4. Place in the oven for about an hour and then let them cool.

Step 5. Hot glue the ends of the pinecones to a blank inch piece of burlap- then hang!



Step 1. Find a twig outside and cut the branches to a size that fits the items you want to hang.

Step 2. Tie a string to both ends and hang with a thumbtack or nail. Place items on the branches!













PUMPKIN WATERCOLOR http://www.ishouldbemoppingthefloor.com/2014/09/free-fall-watercolor-printable.html

5 DIY Halloween Costumes

Still don’t know what you’re going to be for Halloween this year? Need a last-minute costume? Here are five “Do-It-Yourself” costume ideas that are easy to make and will save you money.


Materials Needed: white sheet and scissors

Directions: Have an extra sheet lying around the house? Go with a Halloween favorite, a ghost! This is great for a last-minute costume. Just two holes in the sheet for visibility.


Clothing Needed: boots, jeans, and flannel top (optional: Western hat or vest)

Directions: Try sorting through your closet to find articles of clothing you already own that can be mixed and matched, or ask a neighbor or friend what they have readily available to borrow.

Rosie the Riveter

Clothing Needed: red bandana, denim top, red lipstick, and jeans

Directions: Like the Western costume, this can be easily assembled from daily clothing. Look up photos online to try to match the hairstyle of the 1940s icon. Make sure to roll up your sleeves!


Materials Needed: 50 purple or green balloons, purple/green shirt, green felt, 100 small safety pins, (optional: brown hat)

Directions: First, cut a piece of green felt in the shape of a leaf to pin on the collar of your shirt. Use the safety pins to secure the leaf to the top of your shirt (should be near the shoulder). Next, blow up balloons and pin them to your shirt. Make sure to put the pins through the ends of the balloons, careful not to pop them. The balloons should be placed like a grape bunch, so less at the bottom and more at the top.


Materials Needed: Clear umbrella, ribbon/streamers, black and white construction paper, scissors, glow sticks (22”), and tacky/super glue

Directions: Cut out two large circles from the white construction paper and two smaller circles from the black construction paper. Glue these onto the umbrella for the jellyfish’s eyes. Super glue the glow sticks to the umbrella, lining the metal supports, so that the costume will glow at night. Attach the ribbon or streamers from the bottom of the umbrella and decorate as you wish.