VIDEO: ‘Reels on Wheels’ Premiere

In my last blog post,

I introduced you to my life-long friend, comic book artist, illustrator, and author and all-around awesome human being, Justin Castaneda. One of the reasons we’re such great friends is that we enjoy watching Hollywood blockbuster movies and talking about them.

So we came up with the idea of Reels on Wheels,

a YouTube road show where we talk movie expectations on our way to see it and review the movie on our ride back. Here’s the deal: Justin and I approach our reviews as fans. We ain’t no professional film critics, boo! We’re just your average, nerdy Hollywood film-gobbling movie viewer.

We started with the movie that officially started the 2016 summer movie season*: ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’

At the time of filming this, we had not yet solidified our rating system, but as of writing this blog post, we now have one: Reels -OR- Wheels? Reels: Go see it! Wheels: [tires screeching and peeling away] Save yourself and don’t see it.

Having been out for over a week now, the ‘Batman v Superman’ is divisive.

If you haven’t seen it already, should you go see it? Should you save your cizzash?

Justin and I weigh in here, but let me know what you thought of the movie by commenting below! And don’t forget to subscribe to Justin’s YouTube channel to keep up with future episodes of Reels on Wheels.

Our next movie? Captain America: Civil War, which hits theaters May 6.

*The summer movie season starts earlier and earlier every few years. We have May-premiering ‘Spider-Man’ in 2002 to thank for starting that trend.

VIDEO: Creatives in a Cafe Getting Coffee with Justin Castaneda

Every once in a while, I go on a POWER LUNCH with Justin Castaneda. Who is this person? Ohhh he’s none other than an illustrator genius, comic artist, author, and most importantly, amazing, life-long friend. And what’s a power lunch? Well, both being independent creatives, Justin and I know it’s important to step outside of the ever-so-cozy and sometimes-isolating box that is the home office. Our favorite place to catch up and share our creative process is Creative Cakes in Tinley Park. In the video above, Justin and I share our creative processes and laughs.

You also get to see a terrible, terrible sketch for one of my t-shirt designs for Snort Monster. (I hope my drawing teachers aren’t watching…!) Enjoy, and be sure to subscribe to Justin’s YouTube channel to get more of his creative process, hyperlapse sketches of his famous #cardBOREDsketches, and keep up with his comic con adventures.

I Need Your Help: Kickstart Justin’s ‘Heart’

Happy post-Easter Monday, everyone! I hope you’ve recovered from chocolate bunny ‘n’ brunch hangovers.

Please take a look at my dear friend’s guest post today, below. He’s got a Kickstarter project, and he needs OUR help!

I’ve talked about him before here because he both an AMAZING person and illustrator.

I’m talking, of course, about author of the When I Was Little book series, Justin Castaneda.


Hi friends!

My name is Justin Castaneda and I am the creator of the When I Was Little picture book series. Aireen and I have been long time friends. She is quite the inspiration when it comes to anything creative. I can only TRY and emulate the kind of kick work ethic she has. She was kind enough to have me do a guest post because I have a new book project I am raising funds for thru Kickstarter.Ā 

The way Kickstarter works is it funds creativity. It accepts donations to help creative people get their passion projects made. Artists, writers, and filmmakers can set up a Kickstarter campaign and by supporting them and their work, you get rewarded!

For instance when you donate to my project, you can receive a signed copy, sketch cards, digital prints, buttons, custom art and a lot more.Ā 

So the name of my new book is called, Heart.

Heart is a story about love and acceptance.

It’s been an idea birthed through the struggles I had growing up trying to find where I fit in. I had difficulty making friends and I thought for the longest time it’s because of who I was as a person.

I thought if I changed who I was I would find my place. It wasn’t until much later when I learned all that was non-sense and the most important thing I could ever do was: To Be Myself.Ā 

It’s a bit more expensive to release a hardcover children’s book than I had anticipated. I didn’t want to cop out into doing it as a softcover, it’s not meant to be that way.

With the help of some fellow creatives that gave me an extra push, I started this Kickstarter campaign:

I hope you can help support the book and the message this book gives.Ā 

I thank you for your time and consideration and thanks again to Aireen for letting me post on her website!


Thank you, Justin, for your kind words. I can’t tell you how awesome Justin is, guys.

Justin’s story is one that I would love to share with my future kids.

When they share with me their struggles of fitting in or they tell me of bullies that make fun of a certain quirk they have, I will share the lesson in this beautiful, hardcover book and tell them, “Once you’re okay with being yourself, you will find your place.”

With the prevalence of bullies and the ever-increasing difficulties kids are having these days with being comfortable with truly being themselves, we need this book for our kids more than ever.

Justin’s Kickstarter ends SUNDAY, APRIL 22 and will NOT be funded if he does not reach his $3500 goal by then. Bummer, right?

If you believe in creativity, and if you believe in dreams, and if you believe in paying it forward, give a little bit today. Don’t be embarrassed if you can only give a little bit, because as they say, every little bit helps.

Thanks so much in advance!

‘Back to the Future’ Poster & Cupcakes

The BEST GIFT EVER for a ‘Back to the Future’ and cupcake fan: a custom illustrated poster featuring Marty, Doc, and Einstein as cupcakes.

But wait…

…ALSO having those cupcakes exist in real life. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!! (Report: They. Are. Orgasmically delicious!)

I could not contain my giggling and jumping.

My deepest thanks to talented illustrator and dearest friend Justin Castaneda and his wonderful girlfriend Nicole for blowing my mind, making me cry, and making my heart and tummy happy. šŸ˜€

Good Monday to you! No doubt your weekends have been filled with holiday parties. My hubby and I enjoyed our first one of the season this weekend, and our party favor was a delightful and playful holiday card by illustrator and author Justin Castaneda of the ‘When I Was Little’ children’s book series. His card features his beautiful lady Nicole and himself in the middle of a nippy photo op with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-donned snowman. I felt warmth and a childlike happiness as I held the card in my hands. Thank you, Justin and Nicole! For more work by Justin, visit

When I Was Little

How would you like to have a one of a kind illustration that reflects one of your favorite childhood memories? I know you can do it for you: uber-talented illustrator Justin Castaneda.

To my absolute delight, I received my print from him in the mail, and I just could not stop smiling. I am absolutely honored to be the first one to receive his new When You Were Little Signature Print.

Check it out:

To get it, I did three things:

1.) provided Justin with a fond childhood memory

2.) provided Justin with a couple of reference photos (a picture of me as lil girl and a picture of my beloved dachshund, Max)

3.) squealed in delight as I opened up the package to see my print

Here’s the story that accompanied my request:


I have to say, I’ve been very lucky to have so many childhood memories that it’s a challenge to choose just one. However, one particular memory that keeps coming to mind (and one that would be fun to illustrate, me-thinks), is a fond/funny memory involving my precious Max. Max was so awesome. He had such a warm heart and amazing, soulful eyes. He had a soft and somewhat sad quality about him. It was just so common for all of us to say, “Oh, poor Max!”

That lil dude would just get the short end of the stick sometimes. He had a big sister who was alpha dog, he fell down a lot, and he was always in the background. It was easier for people to pay attention to everything else besides Max, since he was so gentle and quiet. He was kind of Charlie Brown type character. šŸ™‚ Despite Max’s difficulties, we had recently come to call him The Tank, simply because anything that happened to him, he would just bounce back! Little did I know just how literally he would do so. ^_^

When I was about 10 and C.J. was 7, he and I shared a room. We had fun bunk beds! The bunk bed setup was the kind where the top one was set up one way, and then the bottom bed was set up perpendicular to the bottom bed. Does that make sense? Welp, Ceej slept on the top bed, and I slept on the bottom.

At this time, we had two doggies: a Boston terrier named Alex and yes… our black and tan long-haired dachshund – Max. Well, Ceej and I would take turns cuddling with each pup every night. On this particular morning, Max had nuzzled with C.J. the night before. I woke up to find Max peering down at me from the bunk bed above.

We always let the doggies out once we woke up since a long night of sleep can certainly create an urge for pottying, so I knew I had to take Max out soon. I sensed that C.J. was still asleep, so it would be up to me to take the puppies outside.

After yawning and wiping the sleep from my eyes, I said, “Hi Max!” He wriggled in excitement. Well, at first, I thought it was excitement.

After a bit, I noticed that Max was extra wriggly and excited. I sensed his heightened urgency to relieve himself, so I quickly started to make my way out of bed to lift him up from the top bunk.

Before I could even reach for him, WHOOOOOOOSH! Max jumped from the top bunk!

The rest happened in slow motion as I watched in horror: he hit the bottom bed, bounced high off of that, flipped into the air, arced over to the floor, and then finally landed, quite miraculously, on his feet!

Can you believe it?? I stood in delirious amazement and relief as he hit the ground. I rushed over to him to examine him, but he was all ready to trot forward to make his way downstairs so he could relieve his lil bladder.



To get your own personalized print, check out Justin’s website below:

or email him at