No scare don’t care… our top 10 Halloween traditions

Happy Halloween! In our opinion, today is the most fun day of the year (and obviously the scariest). We’ve rounded up 10 of the top Halloween traditions for you… so we hope you’re ready to get spooked.

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Image Source: 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8. | 9. | 10. )

Read Christine by Stephen King
There’s a ton of Halloween-ready lore out there, and Stephen King is its master. While Christine might be considered tame by some (or, okay, most), this tale of a car that comes to life and kills everyone in its wake is still pretty terrifying. (And now we have absolutely no desire to ever name our cars again.)

Eat Halloween Themed Treats
Type “Halloween food” into Pinterest and you’ll have your pick of scary goodness to choose from. We had a tough time deciding on our favorite treat, but we ended up going with Boo Sushi… because how on earth are you going to be able to come up with something more creative than sushi rolls topped with body parts?

Download The Zombie Me App
Especially suited to those who love The Walking Dead, but come on… anyone can have a little (too much) fun turning their normal, everyday pictures into scary zombified creatures. It’s pretty much the best reason to take a selfie today.

Watch Scary Horror Movies
Whether you hide under a blanket on the couch or brave the theater, there is absolutely no better time to watch a scary movie than on Halloween night. There are a few new releases to choose from this year, but we’re going with Annabelle… because there’s really nothing more frightening than a doll connected to the supernatural. (And while this movie has been banned in parts of France, we’re not too scared to watch it. We think.)

Watch Campy Horror Movies
If you’re in the mood to laugh more than scream this Halloween, you HAVE to watch Hocus Pocus. The cult classic stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy as three witches who come back from the dead to terrorize a small, sleepy town. While you probably won’t be too scared by this movie, it’s still definitely a must see.

Do The “Thriller” Dance
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is at the top of every Halloween music playlist, and for good reason. The music video is one of the best of all time, in large part to the infamous dance sequence. Get ready to bust a move.

Carve A Pumpkin
What would Halloween be without pumpkin carving? It’s the best way to show off your artistic skills (or, okay, how all you can do is cut triangles for eyes). Be sure to scoop out the seeds and roast them, too (we recommend doing so with a bit of garlic olive oil and a pinch of sea salt).

Go On A Hayride
Bundle up, drink some cider and grab your friends for a hayride on a crisp fall night. Bonus points if it’s through a haunted graveyard.

Wear A Costume
This one might be obvious, but we’re including it anyway… because Halloween just isn’t Halloween without a costume. Think beyond the typical cat, witch or ghost this year by dressing up like your favorite celebrities.

Visit A Haunted House
This is hands down one of our favorite annual traditions. Getting spooked is, yes, scary… but isn’t that the point? Just be sure you’re ready to scream.

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Wear America x Wit & Whistle

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Please introduce yourself, your business name, and where you’re from.
I’m Amanda Wright, the girl behind Wit & Whistle. I design and illustrate witty greeting cards and whistle-worthy paper goods. My husband and I live in a quirky 1970s A-frame house in Cary, North Carolina with two dogs, three chickens, and an absurd quantity of houseplants.

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You have been painting since you were a child, what sparked this interest at such a young age?
I’ve been at it so long that I can’t even remember what first motivated me to start creating. I believe my urge to create is a God-given gift, so it was natural for me to start making art as early as I could. I’m sure I was hooked from the moment I experienced the intoxicating aroma of my first box of crayons.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by my love of drawing and my desire to indulge in light-hearted creativity. My goal for Wit & Whistle has always been to create a line of products that are both funny and beautiful. I leave plenty of room for frivolity in my designs, because creating is so much more enjoyable if you don’t take yourself too seriously. I want my work to feel like play!

What does the day in the life of Amanda Wright entail?
After breakfast I make a cup of tea and head to my studio. I have a short commute, just a walk down the stairs to the basement. In the morning I ship orders, reply to emails, send invoices, and reorder supplies—all the necessary but boring stuff. I try to reserve my afternoons and evenings for creative things like working on new designs, taking photos, brainstorming, and writing blog posts.

What was the first product you started selling?
I first tried to sell sets of block-printed snowflake cards around the holidays back in 2008. I painstakingly hand-printed each card in metallic silver ink. They were lovely, but no one bought a single one! So, I went back to my sketchbook and came up with a few witty Valentine’s Day cards. I had more success (and much more fun) when I started incorporating my sense of humor into my work.

Educate us on your design process and making methods, what it’s like and why do you love it?
My design process involves spending a lot of quality time with my sketchbook. I usually curl up on the couch with my dogs while I draw. Once I finish a pen and ink illustration for a new product, I scan it into my computer to make layout adjustments and add color. I love all the little imperfections in my work that make it obvious each one of my designs was drawn by hand.

witandwhistle_process1Amanda’s sketches coming to life! Jotter above and Spiral Notebook below.

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If you had one product to describe as your signature item, which would it be and why?
My “uterus” birthday card is my signature item. Slightly inappropriate greeting cards have always been my best sellers, and that particular card has been around almost since Wit & Whistle began. I think it’s the perfect blend of funny and awkward while still being pretty—just the way I like it.

We love your humorous approach on your cards and prints, do you consider yourself a ‘jokester’?
I don’t think of myself as a jokester, I just have a strange sense of humor. In the real world my “humorous approach” is usually just me saying weird things and getting strange looks from my friends, hah.

Describe your decorating style inside your home.
I like calming, neutral colors with interesting textures like metallic gold, exposed brick, and rustic wood. I prefer bright spaces with lots of natural light and a mix of old vintage finds with newer pieces. I have a weakness for anything mid-century modern. Above all, a house isn’t a home unless it’s brimming with houseplants. If I could live in a greenhouse I would be happy!

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My coffee table is my favorite handmade possession. My dad, mom, sister and I spent a day piecing together the herringbone tabletop from reclaimed barn wood. We finished it off with hairpin legs and carved our names on the bottom. It’s gorgeous, and whenever I look at it reminds me of how awesome my family is. I even wrote a blog post about it!

Tell us something surprising about you that no one would guess!
Running Wit & Whistle is my dream job, but if I had to change careers I’d love to own a small zoo. For now I’ll just have to focus my zoo-keeping energy on my dogs and chickens.

What is the best advice you would give to designers starting their own business?
Whether you feel ready or not, just jump in. If I waited to start my business until I had everything figured out, Wit & Whistle wouldn’t exist. The most important (and most difficult) thing is to take that first step and get going. Just worry about one day at a time, and figure out the rest as you go along. Baby steps!

Check out Wit & Whistle on ae.com, and tell us which jotter or notebook is your favorite in the comments below!

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Wear America x Pommes Frites Candle Co.

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Introduce yourself, your business name and where you are from.
My name is Kristen and I’m half owner of Pommes Frites Candle Co. I grew up in Northern Virginia, but I currently live in downtown Los Angeles. By the way… our business name, Pommes Frites may translate to belgian fries, but it’s actually just a goofy play on my last name (Pumphrey). That’s what happens when you start a business at age 22!

You made your first candle at the age of 12, what inspired you to do that?
My sister brought a candle-making kit home from Michael’s craft store, to make and sell candles for a home economics fair. In true little sister, “me too!!” style, I learned to make candles and continued to make them for easy gifts throughout high school. When I started my business after college, it was a no-brainer to make candles again, I already had the tools!

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Tom and Kristen in their studio 

What does the day in the life of Kristen Pumphrey entail?
During the week I usually work from 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. or so. Work usually entails emailing with the shops that stock us (both independent boutiques and our national brands), developing new scents, making sure all the orders are heading out and receiving supplies. I usually take time each day to post on our instagram (@pfcandleco), play with our dog (an Italian greyhound named Max), and go for an iced coffee. Weekends, I love to explore our neighborhood in DTLA, or get away from it all on a quick camping trip.

Your candles smell amazing, what inspires your scents and how do you know which scents to combine?
Thank you! There’s two ways we go about picking scents: brainstorming sessions and direct inspiration. We do a scent brainstorming session once or twice a month, where we will pull out all the oils we have on hand, dip blotting strips, and just start smelling combinations together. A little bit of this, add some of that, mix the oils together. Then the whole team will stop what they’re doing and smell the results. For direct inspiration, we may think something like “we want to create a scent inspired by Big Sur” and we will take a trip to that location and smell everything we can, just taking it all in, and taking notes. This usually gives us a base to start with, a few notes that were prominent to us, then we will take that inspiration to our brainstorming sessions for further development.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Travel and nature are huge inspirations, visiting national parks, camping, or even visiting a nearby botanical garden. We want to produce scents that invoke feeling or meaning and that also smell really, really good.

Can you share the making of a soy candle with us?

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Our soy candles are poured in small batches, but we work from a larger batch to get there. We will melt anywhere from 50-150 lbs. of soy wax at a time. Once the soy wax is melted and has come up to temperature, we add fragrance oil into our giant wax melters.

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From there, the wax is poured off into metal pitchers, allowed to cool, and then poured in into pre-wicked jars in batches of 8-9 (or 12-16 for the mini size). We use the same method I used when I started making candles, just with fancier equipment and on a much larger scale.

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candles cooling

What inspired the packaging for PF candles?
My design skills are pretty limited, having never taken a class in graphic design, but I wanted to make something that felt authentic to me. I loved interchangeable stamps and used them in packaging across the board (when our company used to make more than just candles), so one day, after feeling frustrated with designing on the computer, I went back to basics and just started hand stamping our labels. I wanted the candles to be simple enough that they can exist in your space every day without being too fussy, toeing the line between rustic and clean design.

What is the one scent that we will always find burning in your home?
It depends on the room! For our living room, I like Neroli & Eucalyptus and Summer Breeze. Sweet Grapefruit is always either uncapped or burning in the bathroom. When I’m at work, I like to burn Campfire on my desk.

Have you ever mixed a scent that made you say ‘what was I thinking’?
Absolutely! Luckily with our brainstorming session, it usually doesn’t get past the initial phase. There have been a few combinations that I’ve smelled and said “NOPE!”. My biggest no-no when it comes to a scent is if it gives me or any of our crew here a headache then it gets eliminated from the list. We work hard to make sure our candles can be enjoyed by even those with fragrance sensitivities.

Besides candle-making, what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Camping, bike riding, tending to my ever growing plant collection. And as I said before, traveling and experiencing new places. We try to take a weekend trip at least once a month. We live and work in the heart of downtown LA, so escaping from city life is awesome.

Describe your personal style.
Mostly utilitarian with a little bit of California hippie thrown in. My job is always hands on. You can find me unloading a pallet or unpacking wax or mixing fragrances, so I tend to wear things I don’t mind getting messy. In the summer I wear simple cotton dresses and Vans sneakers. In the winter, I’m all about jeans (including AEO jeggings!) and a simple tee shirt. I usually always wear little stacking rings and copper or bronze skinny cuff bracelets. But my favorite thing to wear, hands down, is a poncho. I can’t wear them at work,just not practical enough, but on a camping trip I usually don’t change out of one. I have this awesome one my dad gave to me when I was a kid; it’s from Argentina. It’s one of those things I didn’t appreciate until I was older.

Tell us something surprising about you that no one would guess!
I may be a candle maker, but I actually studied to become an actor. I did 4 years of rigorous training at NYU’s Tisch School, and right before graduating, I realized it wasn’t the right choice as a career for me. I got involved in the DIY community, and haven’t looked back since. In school, they constantly told us that you have to make your own work – sometimes there wouldn’t be somebody who would want to give it to you or take a chance on you. It was a really important lesson to learn – and one I clearly applied when starting PF.

Anything else you would like to share?
We’re so happy to be able to partner with AEO for their Wear America initiative! It’s awesome to us that the candles that are handmade in our studio by our crew of six can be enjoyed by a wider audience, and that handmade on a larger scale is possible!

What is your favorite scent from PF Candle Co?  Tell us in the comments below!

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AEO Associate Interview: Kai G.

At AEO, we have some pretty talented and amazing associates working behind the scenes to deliver the best  product to date. Senior Fabric Development Manager, Kai Gomes-Brown is no exception to this rule. Get to learn all about Kai and her daily responsibilities at AEO.

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Meet Kai, Senior Fabric Development Manager for AEO and aerie Knits.

Name:  Kai Gomes-Brown

Occupation:  Senior Fabric Development Manager – for AEO and aerie Knits

AEO:  Where are you from?
Kai: 
I’m originally from Fairfield, CT but I consider Queens my home!  I’ve lived in NYC for 20 years!

AEO:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do….
Kai:
  Growing up I always loved fashion!   My love for fashion began in the late 80’s when I started watching Style with Elsa Klensch, (a television show about fashion and design from around the world that aired from 1980 to 2001) with my parents on Saturday mornings.  I would watch the show to see designer runway shows presented during New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks.  I learned a lot about high fashion and the designers that created the collections.  In high school my favorite elective course was Home Economics where I learned to sew and then I attended F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) where I studied Merchandising.  I’ve worked in fashion since graduation for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. As a Fabric Developer it’s very important to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends in fabrics and silhouette so I am able to work with designers and fabric suppliers to interpret those trends into fabrics that are in line with the American Eagle Outfitter’s and aerie aesthetics and price structure.  Unfortunately, Style with Elsa Klensch is no longer on television but there are a number of resources like blogs and magazines that I use and are available to everyone to research the latest and upcoming fashion trends!

AEO:  What kind of projects do you find yourself working on from day to day?
Kai:  As I mentioned one of the most significant aspects of being a Fabric Developer is to research in order to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends. I work on weekly trend recap reports and competitive analysis reports to share with our designers and fabric suppliers.  Another important function of my day to day responsibilities is to maintain the fabric library that houses numerous types of knit fabrics including: jerseys, ribs, laces, waffles, jacquards and many more.  When a designer is in need of a fabric they can search the library to find a fabric that suits their needs.

AEO:  What do you love most about working with clothing?
Kai:  I love that what you wear is an expression of who you are. It’s really important to me that I develop fabrics that are great quality and on-trend so our customer feels confident when they wear our clothes.

AEO:  We’ve been hearing a lot about plush fabric. Tell us more!
Kai: I’m really excited about Plush!  This fabric is the softest fabric ever!  It’s super cozy and luxe but completely versatile to wear for both day and night!

AEO:  What differentiates plush fabric from other fabrics used in graphic t-shirts and tanks?
Kai:  The biggest difference is that Plush is a rib that is specially treated to get the cozy, plush surface whereas most (but not all) of the fabrics used for graphics, tanks and tees are jerseys with smooth surfaces.

AEO:  What are a few different ways that you can wear this plush fabric?
Kai:  Plush can pretty much be styled with anything!  A pair of AE distressed Hi-Rise Jeggings with AEO Buckle Strap Booties, a Sky High Suspender Skirt with AEO High Top sneakers or a pair of aerie printed Leggings with Riding Boots.  The styling combinations are endless!

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Introducing, Plush Fabric.

Shop the look:
Vintage Plush Heart Graphic T-Shirt
Ruffle Hem Skort
Shimmery Slip On Sneaker

AEO:  What are your top three items for this upcoming season?
Kai:  I can’t name just three!  My top four “most favorite, I can’t wait for fall” items are:  the AEO Sky-Hi Jegging and Vegan Leather Moto Jacket, aerie’s Skinny Jogger and of course, the Plush Long Sleeve T-Shirt!

AEO:  What’s your personal style like?
Kai:  I would describe my personal style as being relaxed, chic and edgy.  I get a lot of inspiration from runway shows and high end designers. I try to interpret that aesthetic into my look but within my budget through-my hair styles, clothing and accessories.  Some of my favorite places to shop are AEO, asos, Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, Barney’s and Alchemist in Miami.

AEO:  Where do you draw your daily inspiration from?
Kai:  Blogs, magazines, fashion trend services and people watching!  Some of my daily blog reads include:   Stylesnooperdan, MajaWyh, TheyAllHateUs, WhoWhatWear and YahooStyle.  My favorite magazines are V, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Jalouse and Elle Decor.

AEO:  What is your favorite city that you’ve either traveled to or what to travel to?
Kai
:  My most favorite city that I’ve traveled to so far is Barcelona and I hope to visit Paris in the very near future.

Have you worn our new plush fabric yet? If so, tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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10 questions with Jon Contino: The graphic designer behind our new Live Your Life Fragrances

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Describe yourself to us in five words?
Passionate. Loyal. Determined. Respectful. Intense.

Where are you from and what led you to where you are today?
I grew up in Long Island just a few miles from New York City in a creative, supportive family. I spent my teens and early twenties playing drums in various hardcore and metal bands, and that’s actually where I got my start doing professional design work. I was constantly working on band merchandise, flyers, record layouts and stuff like that. It wasn’t long before I started working with local businesses as well. In 2005 I opened a design studio called Onetwentysix and eventually that led to starting my first menswear brand, CXXVI, with my longtime friend Matt Gorton. Once CXXVI was rolling, I went back to freelancing and eventually transformed that business into what Jon Contino Studio is today.

You designed our packaging for our new Men’s and Women’s Live Your Life fragrances. What inspired your designs?
The inspiration came from the American culture that most people don’t think about. Stuff that we might take for granted. I felt that American Eagle Outfitters needed some nods to its heritage, but in a unique way. I wanted to focus on the time we spend as kids getting into trouble: running around the neighborhood with friends, getting lost in the woods, making fires on the beach. Whatever we used to occupy our time with in between the world of carelessness and responsibility. I wanted to capture the raw energy of growing up in a culture that’s relatively new in the history of the world. It’s unique to America, and it represents a lot of what American Eagle Outfitters is about.

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Can you share some sketches with us?

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Where is your studio and what are three things we will always find in your workspace?
My studio was in Brooklyn for years until very recently. My wife and I moved about an hour north of Manhattan to the Hudson Valley, where I now run my studio full time. It’s great because in between projects, phone calls, emails and all that stuff, I can take some time and go outside with my daughter and play with her without having to worry about busy streets or whatever else comes with living in a busy city. Actually, my daughter is a good example of something you’ll always find in my studio. Anyone that’s ever gotten on a phone call with me can tell you they hear her in the background most of the time. In terms of working material, you’ll always find pencils, pens and paper. I always design everything by hand, on paper. It’s how I feel most comfortable working. If you want to get into atmospheric stuff, there’s always some kind of Apple technology around me, antique signs and books and lots of family heirlooms.

What is your favorite project you have worked on to date?
That’s such a tough question. Working with different industries means that I have a favorite in each field and can’t truly compare one as better than the other. If I had to call out a project that turned my life upside down though, I think I could pick one. Growing up in the world of New York Hardcore, my favorite band was always a band from Brooklyn called Indecision. To this day, those albums are still my favorite of all time. A couple years ago they were doing a reunion show and asked me to design a shirt for them. It was amazing to have my favorite band reach out to me and tell me they were fans of my work. Still sits with me as one of the coolest moments of my career.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you cook for them?
Well, I’m not much of a cook… anyone in my family could tell you that. If I had to pick someone though, I think it might be Benjamin Franklin for a lot of reasons. Instead of cooking, though, I’d take him to one of my favorite bagel shops in the Bronx and tell him to get a toasted egg bagel with vegetable cream cheese with a slice of tomato and an Arizona iced tea. It’s a tradition my wife and I have been doing for years and it’s probably the meal I look most forward to eating.

Number one on your bucket list?
The fact that I can design for a living, and do cool stuff on top of that, is pretty much my one and only selfish goal for my life. I’m a family guy at heart, so everything else would be things like having more kids, seeing them grow up… stuff like that.

It’s Friday night in NYC, where can we find you?
Having a 19-month-old daughter usually means I’m in bed by 10pm on Friday nights, but if I actually had the chance to be out and not be exhausted, then I’d probably want to spend it sitting on a stoop somewhere with friends laughing and joking about random nonsense. Life gets so busy, it’s nice just to goof around once in a while.

Go to ae.com and style a head to toe outfit for yourself.

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Shop #AEOStyle Jon’s style: Quilted Bomber Jacket, Plaid Button Down Shirt, Slim Straight Khaki, Speckled Sock, Clarks Originals Desert Boot

Check out the super cool designs of the men’s and women’s fragrance bottles for these amazing new scents on ae.com and tell us what you think in the comments below.

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7 things we love…

Welcome to this week’s edition of 7 Things We Love! Get inspired by all the things inspiring US right now, from what we’re reading and eating to what we’re wearing and listening to. Let us know what you think about our picks in the comments—and give us yours, too!

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Image Source: 1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. |

WHAT WE’RE WEARING: THE AEO SWING TANK DRESS
We’re all about easy, effortless dressing—especially when we can take a piece from boho to moto with a few simple accessories or the addition of a leather biker jacket. And this dress is one that lets us do it all. We love the bold stripes and the swingy silhouette, especially since it’s forgiving—which means we can eat all the cookies we want…

WHAT WE’RE EATING: GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
…Which leads us right to our next love. These. Cookies. Are. Everything. Now that it’s officially fall, we’re craving all things pumpkin—and these are a great way to satisfy our sweet tooth while still, shockingly, not being too unhealthy. Pumpkin’s full of good-for-you stuff like beta-carotine and fiber, but don’t let that fool you—these taste delicious.

WHAT WE’RE READING: FANGIRL BY RAINBOW ROWELL
Now that we’ve read (and are still obsessing over) Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, we’ve been devouring everything else she’s written. Fangirl is written in a similar style but this time follows Cath (short for Cather), a college freshman who writes widely followed fan fiction, has an identical twin and, in short, is struggling to figure out who she really is in the world. While the passages of Cath’s fan fiction seem a bit extraneous (and, if we’re being honest, we ended up skimming them), the story in between is sweet, honest and funny.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING: GONE GIRL
We’re pretty sure we don’t need to give you a synopsis of one of the most widely hyped, must-see movies of the year. So we’ll just say that we’re going to be first in line to see it. It stars Ben Affleck as the protagonist/antagonist and promises to be just as thrilling and captivating as the book (that pretty much never leaves the bestseller list).

WHAT WE’RE DOWNLOADING: THE PARTYPARTY APP
Not only is this app one of the easiest to use EVER, but it’s SO. MUCH. FUN. You can select 4, 9, 16 or literally infinity photos to upload from your camera roll and put into a slideshow that’s shareable on Instagram, Facebook and even your blog. (Definitely good news for Blogger users.) You can add filters, you can add different frames, you can control the slideshow speed. Basically, it’s a party in your pocket.

WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO: ELEVATE BY ST. LUCIA
Want a unique throwback sound with a modern feel… that almost sounds like you’re listening to Phil Collins and Genesis, but in a totally new way? This feel-good song will make you dance in your seat and will put the biggest smile on your face. Guaranteed.

WHERE WE’RE GOING: THE HUDSON VALLEY
Want a really great view of fall foliage? The Hudson Valley is where it’s at. A drive through upstate New York is breathtakingly beautiful in the fall thanks to the leaves changing colors on the trees. There’s a ton to do here, from a visit to the little town of Nyack (filled with cute boutiques and restaurants) to the Mohonk Mountain House, where you can go hiking or visit the spa. There are farmer’s markets and places to go apple picking scattered all over the area, too.

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