Do You Know How Much Steel is Your Vehicle? #SteelMatters

Ever had your perspective changed? This year I attended the Canadian International Auto Show with the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). It was fabulous to walk the floor of the show with the team and learn the steel stories of each car. I also learned more about the economical use of high-strength steel in making the vehicles we drive safer.

 

As we walked the floors, I started asking more questions about safety, steel intensity, and cost. Did you know that steel leads the way in performance because of its superior strength, weight, durability and repairability? Think of your wallet, the steel content of your car could save you dollars.

 

Here is an interesting fact. The cost of ownership (that includes the purchase price of your vehicle, the insurance and repair costs) are lower for steel-intensive vehicles. Owning a steel-intensive vehicle is simply a smart choice. Steel is two to three times less expensive than aluminum. Want to know more interesting facts visit DriveUsingSteel.

 

Care about greenhouse gasses? Steel has the lowest production phase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to alternative materials. Living with a daughter who is always reminding me about being eco-friendly steel wins again.

 

Think of safety. Would you rather drive something that was made of the same material used in bridges or the same material used in pop cans? Just something to think about. There is a time and place for everything and when it comes to vehicle production, steel definitely has its place. It also has its place in helping save money and as the mom with common sense, it’s sensible.

 

Let’s get to some of the interesting steel stories I learned while at the Canadian International Auto Show.

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Let’s start with the car that won the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Canadian Car of the Year, the Volkswagen Golf (Alltrack). The stamped steel body and chassis boats a large percentage of high-strength, hot formed steel.  The winner of the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the year, the Subaru Forester is also steel intensive.

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Now let’s talk about another vehicle in the Volkswagen line the VW Tiguan. It has a rigid laser-seam-welded body shell, crash-optimized, energy-absorbing front end, and heat-formed steel center pillars.

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Want to know which car is 100 percent steel? The Chevrolet Traverse is! How is that for steel intensity! It positions high strength steel in the correct locations of the vehicle and optimizes the door weights through higher-strength steel reinforcements and lighter steels for skins and cosmetic areas.

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The Kia Stinger had a cool reveal and with 55 percent high strength steel, it is definitely steel intensive.  I love the reveal of this car. It was fun to watch.

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The sweet Chrysler Pacifica has a body structure that is made of 72 percent high-strength steel. I rather loved some of the features on this 7 seater.

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The All-Electric Bolt EV, winner of the Motortrend Car of the Year and the North American Car of the Year, is also very steel intensive. Do not let its small size fool you. I loved the lines on this car!

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Even my beloved Ford Mustang which is all new this year is very steel intensive.  There is extensive use of advanced technologies and materials including high-strength steels.

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Some of the other things I enjoyed at this year’s Auto show included the array of concept cars. From the Aston Martin AM-RB001 Hypercar to the Lincoln Navigator Concept to the Cadillac Escala Concept there was lots to see. Another thing I cannot wait to explore when I go back is the number of VR activities and contests to enter. Make sure you check them all out.

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SMDI is even hosting their own giveaway. While at the Canadian International Auto Show, follow @DriveUsingSteel and share with them your favourite car from the show using the hashtag #SteelMatters and you will be entered to win a drone.

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You can also win right here on my blog. I am giving away 4 Guest Passes to the Canadian International Auto Show. Simply leave a comment on this post and on Tuesday February 24th I will give them away! Let me know what you are most interested in seeing at the show when you comment.

 

*This post has been sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute. If you want to know more about the fabulous advancements in steel do check out DriveUsingSteel.com.

5 Budget Friendly Date Night Ideas

budget friendly date ideas

Remember when you first met your sweetheart and started dating? You probably looked forward to going out on date night. Making plans and going out was so easy. Just find something fun to do and do it. There are many budget-friendly date night ideas.

Life can get busy and distract you.  You may have started feeling a little disconnected from each other. Some quality time, just the two of you is exactly what you need to reconnect. And make even more great memories together!

It’s time to enjoy date night again. Whether it’s a special occasion or just an average night, hire a babysitter or drop the kids off with friends or family and get out for a kid-free night.

Your date doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some great ideas for an inexpensive budget friendly afternoon or evening out:

1. Star Gazing

Star gazing is a perfect cheap date. Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine, head out to an open field where you can clearly see the stars, and lie back on a blanket to marvel at the universe together. This is a great way to reconnect and just spend some time talking to each other.

2. Groupon and Living Social deals.

You can find many great deals for date night adventures on Groupon and Living Social. You can score discounts on weekend getaways, restaurants, wine tastings and more. The deals are typically a 30-60% discount, and you can find deals for things you would not have done otherwise because of the cost. Here in Toronto I have loved using these to get a great night out.

3. Museums.

Many museums and other tourist attractions are free. Some offer special events or exhibits. Usually, we tend not to be “tourists” in the city we live, but that means we’re missing out on the history and fun of our local area. Find a great museum exhibit or site to take in for the evening. Check the museum schedule, they often include a time when they are free to the public.

Here in Toronto, you can take advantage of the Sun Life Financial Museum and Art Pass that is available at the Toronto Library.

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4. Rent Bicycles.

If you don’t have a bike, look for someplace that offers bike rentals then head out to the nature trails or parks in your area. This is a great way to see your community in a new way. Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon in the sun. Or go for night ride and enjoy some star gazing.

5. Go for a walk downtown.

A weekend night is the perfect time to just walk and window shop. There is so much to see and people watching is always fun. Get creative and make up stories about the interesting people you see while grabbing dessert in your favorite cafe. You’ll share a lot of laughs and enjoy some quality time together.

Spending quality time with your sweetheart doesn’t have to be expensive. What other ideas can you think of to enjoy date night on a budget?

finding humour

Finding Humour in Life Lessons – One Day at a Time

Being a single parent isn’t always easy. As parents, we try to do our best with what life throws us. We don’t always know when or how to begin conversations with our children. Looking at finding humour in life lessons? That is exactly what you get with the new Netflix Original series One Day at a Time.

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Finding Humour in Life Lessons

Families will always argue or fight over certain issues, not everyone has the same opinion. We fight and we make up, it is what helps keep families strong. We agree to disagree. When finding the humour in life lessons through the eyes of a TV Show, it helps us understand the individuality of ourselves and of our children and gives us the strength to get through. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and find humour in our lives, we don’t learn a thing.

The show covers REAL issues that many families will experience. As a single mother, I sometimes struggle with raising my daughter. We pull together, we talk and we learn from each other in the changing times. Remember to spend time together and have fun.

Finding Humour in Life lessons

As a fan of the original show from the 70’s, I couldn’t wait to view the new version. While slightly different than the original series, it has the same all around theme. A single mom and her children and the granddmother, surviving life the best they can, dealing with everyday issues. Oh yes, we can’t forget the lovable handyman Schneider.

Check it out on Netflix and fall in love with this funny family.

I have been a proud member of the #streamteam since it was created and as always my opinions are my own and I have been a loyal Netflixer for years (long before the #streamteam was formed).

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The Netflix Binge Watchers Routine

It’s early December and life is super busy, well at least for me it is. Between working for a toy company and being a blogger, life has gotten busy! When I get some down time like I did this weekend I find myself being a binge watcher. I love chilling with some popcorn and hot chocolate and relaxing with some Netflix.

I tend to be like many Canadians a binge watcher, then I have to wait for the next season’s shows. Did you know there are more than 30 million Netflix members?

Now when it comes to what to watch-I have some favorites. When I am not binging on a serious I am just like many Netflixers I will stop and take in a movie and depending on what I have been watching. Call it the two step or a Netflix sandwich. You start with a series, then watch a movie and then I am back watching another series. Over the past few months I have watched a few series. My daughter and I even binged on one together.

So What Series have I watched:

  • Fuller House (Season 2 is now available)
  • The Crown
  • Breaking Bad (with my daughter)
  • Heartland (my sister’s favorite)
  • Grace and Frankie
  • The 100
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Suits
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Now according to statistics, if you watch Gilmore Girls you might like a movie like Mean Girls. By the way, have you watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Yet? If definitely leaves you in suspense!

After Breaking Bad, we did watch The Do Over.

There is an actual chart of the best movies to watch in between series..me after watching a drama I often switch things up with a comedy, or a movie I can watch with Rachel.

After watching Orange is the New Black, we watched Disney. Sometimes you need to chill.

So would you say you are a binge watcher? If so do you watch movies in between you favorite shows.

*I have been a proud member of the #streamteam since it was created and as always my opinions are my own and I have been a loyal Netflixer for years (long before the #streamteam was formed).

 

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Shop and Support GEN1 with the Canadian’s Women Foundation #WinCA

Last month I was at the National Women’s Show and stopped by the Canadian Women’s Foundation booth. It was great to speak with an organization that invests in women and girls. They were getting excited as they partnered with Winners and Homesense to raise funds to support GEN1. What is GEN1?

The Canadian Women’s Foundation has a dream, a dream to create the first generation of Canadian girls to experience real gender equity. Did you know even here in Canada we have issues with gender equality? Seriously,  many women are still earning less than men for the same jobs, and that needs to change as does violence against women.

To get there, they empower girls. How? A full 100% of the net profits from Shop for GEN 1 goes to the Foundations programs, that is over 450 programs and shelters, breaking the cycle of violence and empowering our young girls. Great cause right!

Now this holiday season, you can help.

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Visit your local Winners or HomeSense and shop. It’s the holiday time, and we are all celebrating with families and friends. So get your party on for a good cause. From party horns, hats, napkins and paper plates to gift bags and wine boxes there is something for everyone whether you are host or guest. Think all the funds go to such a great cause.

Now, here is some good news.

I am giving away one of every the entire line away here on my blog to one winner. To enter just fill out the rafflecopter and tell me how you are celebrating the holiday season.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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A Day at the National Women’s Show in Toronto

Every year I love attending the National Women’s Show in Toronto. Saturday was no different. With over 500 booths, lots of on stage speakers, shows, and entertainment there was lots to keep my friend Tammy and I busy and smiling!  We had a great time at the show.

We started the day browsing the booths. There were some great brands there. Lots to explore and so many new brands to try. I was very thankful for my swag bag full of goodies to try. Samples are always a great way to learn about new favourite brands. As you walk through the show there are so many samples. So many new things to learn about, see and explore and it is always a great place to start your Christmas shopping.

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Ran into my friend Heny We met Sam Dhutia the CEO of Sweets Canada gourmet chocolate bars which is a division of QFoods Canada. My girlfriend and I had a great time thrying to  choose from including their popular “Edible Flower” Chocolates, and of course their Fruit Covered Chocolate.  I came home with some Qbites. The taste and packaging is sure to impress even the most “sophisticated” chocolate connoisseur. I know I enjoyed them as I watched the election results.

First up on the main stage was since I am a single lady had to watch Laura Bilotta the CEO of Single in the City matchmaking as she reenacted the the classic tv show The Dating Game. I remember that show from when I was a kid. It was fun to watch and the bachelor ended up picking bachelorette number 3. I got a chance to talk to the bachelor when I ran into him later and we talked about his choice and the other 2. It was fun to hear his thinking behind his choice.

Here is a short video of part of the show.

 

After The Dating Game, my friend Tammy and I explored some more booths. One of the booths I stopped by was the DermVisage booth. Since I am starting to get older, skin care is starting to matter to me. I spoke with Ursula who spoke to me about DermVisage anti aging skin care products and the science of anti-aging skin care. She even did a skin analysis on me.

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What were the results? I have dry skin and it gets drier in the winter. Ursula talked to me about the DermVisage products and how they could help me. DermVisage products brighten the skin, reduce dark spots and even out the skin tone leaving the skin feeling smoother, hydrated and brighter. I have been trying the sample pack that Ursula sent me home with this week and it is making a difference.

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After the skin analysis, we hung out in the culinary and wine areas. We took in a great cooking tutorial from the Chicken Farmers of Canada and then it was time for wine! We tried out a new gin, some joiy, a slushie and some wine. All of it was good. While we were hanging out in the wine area we ran into some sexy firefighters who were there promoting their 2017 Toronto Firefighters Calendar. We even got out pictures taken with them. If you like hot men and women you may want to purchase a calendar. The proceeds go to support the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

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Then it was time to head over to the Main Stage where we took in a fashion show with NARCES. There were lots of great evening fashions. Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed the show.

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Next up was Fashion on Fire with the Toronto Firefighters. They were showing off fashions from Banana Republic. Lets just say these men were hot. They can rescue me anytime. Actually as they engaged the audience I even got bit of a lap dance from Mr December. Too bad there are no photos of that! My girlfriend Tammy did get a great short video though of the end of the show.

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After the firefighters, we cooled off and browsed a few more vendors and then it was time to head home.

 

 

 

teal pumpkin project

How to Have an Allergy Friendly Halloween with the Teal Pumpkin Project

teal pumpkin project

My teen has a food allergy. She has a few, so we are always mindful of food allergies. It seems many kids these days do, so how do we have an allergy friendly Halloween? Back in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project began to raise awareness and promote the inclusion of all kids in the Halloween fun. If you have a Teal Pumpkin in front of your house, kids know you have allergy friendly treats.

We participated last year by making sure our candy treats included allergy friendly ones and even had stickers for the kids with severe allergies. There are lots of things you can be picking up as you get ready for Halloween.

There are lots of nut-free food options ( Nuts are a big allergy for many kids).  T Starbursts, Ring Pops, Chips, Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, plain chocolate bars, gold fish crackers, Mike and Ikes and lollipops were just a few of the options I saw while out shopping at Walmart this morning.

To be able to include kids with severe allergies or weird ones like my teen. One of her allergies is mint. Who is allergic to mint? This year we found temporary tattoos at Dollarama. Some of the other items you may think of might be: plastic spiders, Halloween pencils, marbles, bouncing balls, stickers, McDonalds Restaurant coupons, mini notepads, glow in the dark sticks or playdough. I am sure you can think of-of more to add to this list.

Over the years my teen has brought home quite the haul, and I have always admired parents that try to include everyone. One year when she was about five there was one house that gave away small stuffed animals, another house on the same street had a hot chocolate stand instead of treats because the kids might be getting thirsty. They also had water bottles or soda for those who wanted a choice. Another year our neighbour was a dentist so of course, they handed out small toys.  You can simply think outside the box so everyone can be included.

Let me know if you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project

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winter prep

Join Us for the #CanadasGarage Winter Prep Twitter Party

It snowed today here in Toronto, which reminded me if I was still living in rural Nova Scotia like I used too I would be getting my car ready for winter.  When I lived outside of Truro, I was twenty minutes from town and worked at the local mall so my car had to be in great shape all the time. I learned with that car how important winter prep was! I even took an auto care course so I could take care of some of the basics myself.  I also learned to count on my local Canadian Tire store for whatever we needed when it came to getting my car winter ready.

 

When it comes to car care and getting a vehicle ready for winter I encourage a visit to Canadian Tire, they have everything you will need. As I type this a good friend is getting his car ready for winter. It is at the garage getting the winter tires put on. Oils and fluids will be checked and winter wiper blades will be put on the car.  Safety and visibility are two things you want all winter long!

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Have you ever wanted to get in the car without brushing off all that snow? One of the things I know after driving those mountain roads is it is so important to have a car emergency kit, to have a great snow brush  and always have your fluids topped up.  You can get all of those looked after at Canadian Tire.

Another thing I relied on were my winter tires. They saved me more than once on black ice. There were many late nights on the mountain that I was very thankful for my snow tires. Do you have all seasonal tires or do you switch your tires? Even living here in the city, snow tires come in handy. Did you know that Canadian Tire even has a price match guarantee on tires, with that you will also get an additional 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire Money?

The other thing about winter that I used to hate, how long it would take to get the car warm. These days you can even remotely start your car so it is nice and toasty before you even have to take a seat.

Check out Canadian Tire Automotive  to see all the ways you can prep your car for winter or perhaps you want to winterize your own ride, they can help you do that as well.

Also, play for a chance to win $50,000 with Reflex Ice.  There are over 1000 instant prizes and a $10,000 travel voucher to be won.

Twitter Party Alert

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This Wednesday, November 2nd  join us for the  #CanadasGarage Winter Prep Twitter Party at 7pm EST

Hosted by @CanadianTire.

There is NO RSVP and there is over $1,000 in prizing to be won!

Hope I see you there!

 

halloween-past

Get Halloween Costume Inspired with Netflix

Can you believe Halloween night will be here quickly? Are you still looking for some DIY costume inspiration? While watching Netflix this weekend my teen and I were inspired by several of the characters we have watched over the past few weeks. We reflected on some of our past costume choices and thought about next week. There are several Netflix-inspired Halloween costumes you can make on a budget and there are some great shows to watch on Netflix to get you in the Halloween mood.

In the past Rachel has gone as Blue from Blues Clues, Cinderella, a hippie, a bat princess, a pirate, madman inspired and most importantly she has always had fun creating her costume. Do your kids help create their costumes?

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There are several Netflix-inspired Halloween costumes you can make on a budget and there are some great shows to watch on Netflix to get you in the Halloween mood.

For Families, there is the Stream and Scream Guide

Right now on Netflix there is lots to watch to get you inspired as you think about what you want to be this year for Halloween.

 

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Frights and Delights
1. Stranger Things
2. DreamWorks Spooky Stories 1 & 2
3. Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall In Love
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Ghostly Good Times
1. Casper’s Scare School
2. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
3. Ghostbusters 2
4. The Little Ghost

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The Dark Arts
1. Alvin and the Chipmunks meet Wolfman
2. Scooby Doo Zombie Island
3. Goosebumps
4. Monster High: Haunted

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Vampire Bites
1. Hotel Transylvania 2
2. Vampire Diaries
3. School For Little Vampires
4. Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire

 

Netflix Inspired DIY Halloween Costumes

For the Kids

 

For the Adults:

Have a favorite character from a Netflix series

  • How about going as Kimmy Schmidt? All you need is a backpack, a map of NewYork, sunglasses and you are set to go.
  • You could follow my daughter and get Mad Man inspired and you may even have what you need right in your closet.
  • Love Orange is the New Black, don an orange jumpsuit and pretend you are an inmate or you could go as a guard or even the warden.
  • Down a tiara and ball gown and go inspired by the new Netflix Drama The Crown.
  • You could get inspired by the new show Stranger Things as well.

 

 

digital animation

Top School For the Creative Student: CMU’s Creature & Character Design Program

 

Ever wonder how they create the makeup effects and creature characters in some of your favourite shows and games? There are schools that teach digital makeup effects and creature and character design. My teen has loved taking arts courses in high school and because of the Dual Credit program offered between a number of the colleges here in the city, she has even had the opportunity to take some digital animation courses.  Now she is considering CMU College of Makeup Art & Design, here in Toronto, which has several creative courses and has recently added a Digital Makeup Effects Artists program specializing in Creature and Character Design.

Do you have a creative kid like mine? How are you steering them as they make their college choices? I know for us, my teen is trying to decide between her love of art and her love of science. She is exploring classes and clubs that allow her to explore before she settles on a career path.  We have been looking at several options.

If you do have a creative teen like mine, you may want to look at all CMU offers. They can definitely help steer them in the right direction if this something they are considering career wise.

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The Digital Makeup Effects Artist program at CMU is an intense, condensed course that packs much into 17 weeks.  This course pairs traditional character and creature design with their digital counterparts so students get hands on experience in both elements.  The courses included in the program: life drawing, figurative sculpting, photo shop, digital and practical sculpting, as well as career planning help prepare the students for real world job opportunities.

The Curriculum includes:

  • 2 weeks of Digital Sculpting in Photoshop:   A basic knowledge of Photoshop technical theory, tools, palettes and painting will be introduced followed by advanced techniques. Image manipulation, special effects, photo retouching, restoration, colour correction and painting texture maps for 3D work will be thoroughly explored in preparation for environment and character concepts.
  • 1 week of Life Drawing: Students learn to draw the human form through observation. There is a focus on human anatomy, musculature, and fine details. All of this helps the student to use these skills in a 3D environment.
  • 1 week of Figurative Sculpting: The course introduces the student to the basic skills needed to develop concepts in 3D. This course will provide knowledge of process and representational form, demonstrations and practice in armature building, basic and advanced anatomy, musculature and fine detailing, which will lead to a study of a the human skull and figure. These studies will then be transformed into a creature head and figure sculpture.
  • 6 weeks of Digital Character DesignZBrush: This course gives the student critical skills needed to be a 3D Character and Creature Designer. Students use Zbrush software and learn about 3D workflows, 3D painting, 3D anatomy studies, and 3D concept creation. Students will progress to design and create high-resolution 3D characters, creatures and environments. Students also get to learn the 3D scanning and printing processes and the technical training needed to complete this work.
  • 6 weeks of Practical Creature Design: This course allows students to create an advanced sculpted character. This course is ideal for artists interested in working in a special makeup effects lab building projects for a film or television production, animation studio, museum or entertainment venue, to name a few. By the end of the course every student will have created a creature.
  • 1 week of Career Planning: This course combines all the students have learned and prepares them for the workforce. Students learn how to create their online portfolio, a CV/Resume, and a personalized career toolkit.

 

Once all the coursework is done, students receive a diploma in Digital Makeup Effects Artistry for Creature Character Design. For more information on the course get more information from the CMU website.