Happy New Year + New January Wallpaper!

Hey, friends! I’m aliiiive!

2014 was an interesting year, and at the same time, I didn’t really talk much about it. It’s always challenging to find the right balance between recording/reflecting on your life and actually living it, and this past year I obviously spent much more time doing the latter. As much as I advocate for living in the present moment and not overthinking things too much (despite what my Twitter bio might say), there’s also something nice about sharing parts of your life with others. So, with that said, you’ll be seeing more of me around the ol’ Interwebs in 2015. Hurray!

First off, I’m excited to restart my monthly wallpaper series! I really enjoyed doing making them in 2013 and was happy to see them all over my friends’ devices. Here’s the brand spankin’ new wallpaper for January, sized for computers, tablets and mobile phones:

January wallpapers for desktop, tablet and mobile by Dara Skolnick


Desktop (2560 x 1440) • Tablet (2048 x 2048) • Mobile (640 x 1136)

Now that you have a shiny new wallpaper for the shiny new year (too cheesy? too bad), here a few highlights from this past year:

  1. This was my first full calendar year being self-employed! I kind of forget what having a “real” job is like, and I’m pretty okay with that.

    I spent approximately a zillion hours here.

    I spent approximately a zillion hours here.

  2. I finally took a real vacation. I somehow forgot to do this in 2013, which was silly because overworking yourself ad infinitum is a good idea for precisely no one. This past June, I spent a little over a week in Italy — home of amazing art, architecture, gelato, and, surprisingly, delicious gluten-free food.

    Street art in Italy

    Italy is known for its fine art, but did you know that it’s also full of great street art?

  3. I gave a talk at a conference for the first time. This past November I spoke at WordCamp Toronto about levelling up your WordPress development workflow and it went really well. I can’t wait to speak again some time!

    Here’s what some nice people had to say at the time:

    Speaking of which, if there’s a WordCamp coming up in your area, you should totally go — in my slightly biased opinion, it’s totally worth it.

Now, all that’s not to say that 2014 was the perfect year — after all, life is life and not-so-great things happen. That being said, on balance, things are pretty, pretty, pretty good.

I hope you’ve all had a great year and I wish you all the best for this upcoming one!

Balcony squirrel = the best

Friends, this week has been crazy, to put it mildly, and I’ve spent a lot of it watching all sorts of terrible news coming in.

I thought I’d lighten my own mood, and maybe others’, by posting this video I took recently out on my balcony. Balcony Squirrel is hilariously vocal and delights me to no end.

Have a lovely weekend!

Some thoughts on bubbles


We’re all living in bubbles.

A lesson I’ve learned over and over again, both in business and in life, is that most people really don’t care about the things that I do.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget this. When you hang out mostly with your peers (‘hang out’, in this case, meaning anything from the media you consume to the people you spend time with to the hobbies you pursue and the causes you get involved with), it’s so easy, not to mention satisfying, to get lost in talking shop.

For example…

  • As designers, we take it for granted that bad kerning and Comic Sans are sinful and that colour and type convey meaning.
  • As developers, we take it for granted that IE<9 is The Worst, web standards are important, and that code should be semantic and reusable as possible.
  • As privileged people, we take it for granted that self-improvement and following our dreams are among the most pressing needs in our lives.

When you’re active in any community, it’s really important to keep in mind that you’re in a bubble and that most of the world doesn’t think like you and doesn’t care about the details that you find really fascinating.

Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s really fun being in a bubble of peers! It’s nice and comfy in that place where most people will agree with your opinions and share your grievances. There’s a lot to be learned from people similar to you, and surrounding yourself with peers can really deepen your knowledge on a given subject.

But for a lot of us, a large part of our audience exists far outside our bubbles. Or maybe they share a bubble or two with us, but certainly not all of them. For business owners especially, people come to us because we have an expertise that they don’t. If people cared about the details that we did, they most likely wouldn’t need our services.

Reminding myself that I’m living inside a few bubbles of my own helps me better communicate the value of what I do to other people. Trust me, I’ve been in conversations where I see people’s eyes glazing over as I talk about my work. Tragic! But, really, if that’s happening, it’s partially my fault. The world belongs to those who know how to frame the importance of their offerings to people both inside and outside of their niche, and not necessarily to those who are the best at their craft. No, the world’s sadly not purely a meritocracy, but when you get communication and skill together… then the magic really happens.


Hellooo, world!

Good morning, friends!

Today is officially ‘new everything day’. New business, new website, new (old) blog, new logo… phew! Let me just repeat that for emphasis: my business is now OPEN! I’m now a tiny business owner (take that in whatever way you want — my business is tiny and I’m pretty small in stature as well), a full-time freelancer, a solo-preneur, and/or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days.

Everyone is pretty excited around here:




Well... almost everyone.

Well… almost everyone.

Confession time: I actually started last Monday, not today, but I wanted to take it all in for a bit before going public. And so I did. Now that I’m my own boss, I does what I wants.

Anyway! Let me walk you through all the shiny new things around here:

New (old) blog!

If any of you are here because you’re subscribed to my blog Reverie Time, you might notice that you’re in a different place. As promised, I amalgamated my blog with my portfolio site, and if I did everything right, you should have been seamlessly redirected. If you’re seeing this in an RSS reader, check out the new place!

One of the features of my new blog is that each post has a customizable header, where I can choose to change up the colours or background on a per-post basis. I think it gives my blog a slightly more editorial feel. Fun!

If you’re wondering why I said that this is a new (old) blog and not just a new blog, I actually used to blog in this very spot years before I started Reverie Time, and now I’m back here because having two sites was more of a pain than I thought it would be. The nice thing about the Internet is that these decisions are fairly easily reversible! I left all of my old posts up, so if you’re bored, you can see some gems from 5 years ago like a review of Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie or a very deep post about my very favourite ghost.

New website!

For the past four months (!) or so, I’ve spent most of my spare time working on this website (that is, the time that wasn’t already taken up by working a full-time job and doing client work). The site that was up prior to this one had been around for over two years, and it was both outdated and a little ineffective. It had worked great as a portfolio for traditional job hunting, but it wasn’t very useful for or aimed at new visitors or potential clients. Also, the design aesthetic was a bit outdated and didn’t feel like me anymore.

Here's the old site, in case you've already forgotten. Or never saw it in the first place. Either way.

Here’s the old site, in case you’ve already forgotten. Or never saw it in the first place. Either way.

So, it was definitely time for an upgrade. I’m going to write a couple of follow-up posts about the design and development process that I went through to get to this final(ish) state, because I always like reading about other people’s processes, and by that logic, there are likely some people out there who are curious about mine.

New availability! (Or, a little shameless plug)

The crappy thing about the best freelancers is that they’re always booked up months and months in advance because they’re so awesome — and rightly so. Because I’m just starting out, I’m in the unique position of being pretty great and not being booked ’til the end of time. Huzzah! I’m pretty busy this month and am already starting to put some projects in my calendar for April, but I have availability coming up soon. So, if you wanna work with a web designer and you want to do so sooner than later, now’s the perfect time to grab me! My new services page is a good place to start if you’re wondering what exactly it is that I do.

Thanks for reading, and have a super lovely week!


Hello, my lovely, neglected readers!

Nah, this post isn’t about Mr. Bowie, despite the title. And this isn’t even the right album anyway. Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. ;D

You may have noticed that things are a bit quiet around here. Big changes are happening around these parts, and I’ve inadvertently left you in the dark for much too long.

Here’s a brief overview of what’s been eating my time and thoughts for the last few weeks and making me run around like a headless chicken:

Thing 1: I quit my dream job to work for myself

Whoa! This is the big one, and it’s only just finally sunk into my brain as something that’s really happening.

About a month ago, I made one of the hardest choices, if not the hardest choice, of my entire career when I decided to leave my awesome job as a front end developer at Jet Cooper to start my own tiny business and work for myself full time. When I say I left my dream job, I mean it. I’m a huge fan of the company and every single one of my coworkers, and I learned a shitload (pretty sure that’s the scientific term) about being a great front-end developer over the past year and a bit.

So then, you might be wondering, why did I decide to leave?

The first answer is because running my own solo business is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and this feels like exactly the right time to give it 100% of my attention and effort. I’m really excited to jump into figuring out exactly the kind of work makes me tick, the type of clients I like working with, and the values and principles that will inform my decisions. I’m also super excited to be taking on more design and strategy work in addition to front-end development, because despite really loving The Codes, I’m not the kind of person who ultimately enjoys being a hyper-specialist. I know, I know, there’s that common wisdom that people who spread themselves too thin end up not truly being good at any of the things they do, but I think that the “too thin” threshold varies wildly from person to person, and I’m pretty confident that I’m nowhere near that line.

The second answer is simply that I need to take better care of myself than I am right now. It’s not glamorous, but it’s true. Being chronically exhausted and unwell is, unsurprisingly, not super fun (o rly?), and I’m of the firm belief that people do their best work when they’re happy and healthy. So, time to make that shiz a top priority.

Thing 2: Oops, I took on too much work already

So, I decided to work for myself because I want some freedom, control, and flexibility in terms of how much I work and what kind of work I do, so I can prioritize my wellbeing… right? Well, somehow, I kind of forgot about that and have booked myself solid for the past few weeks (while still working full time, I might add), AND going forward into March when I’ll be starting on my own full-time. Oops? Admittedly, it’s a pretty good problem to have (hey, people like me! they really like me!), but it means that blogging has totally taken a back seat. And that’s too bad, because I like writing here. So, I’ll be sorting out my schedule soon and making sure I set aside time for writing. Speaking of which…

Thing 3: Adios, Reverie Time!

Don’t worry, I’m not shutting my blog down. I am, however, going to be amalgamating it with my main portfolio site, because it’s way easier to maintain and promote one site, one name, and one brand instead of two. The good news is that if you’re subscribed to this site, you won’t have to do anything when I change over to the new location, ’cause I’ll use my mad skillz and redirect you without you even knowing it. Magic!

In conclusion…

Stay tuned, because I’ll be back in action soon with lots of new, shiny blog posts (and, of course, March’s wallpaper). Thanks for your patience with my silence, and for following along!