Sandstorm Blog

Karen
Lisa and Janna at the Sandstorm holiday party

Who doesn't love a good tradition? For Sandstorm, one of our favorite traditions is gathering at Café Ba Ba Reeba for the holiday party. Way back in the early days of our Chicago marketing firm, the holiday party was just a table of four out in the dining room. Now we pack 25 people into a private room where we get to laugh as loud as we want. And believe me...we laugh loud.

After passing our favorite tapas plates around the table, we exchanged dirty santa gifts. Among the many gifts there was a vintage fondue pot, a pop culture history book, a mustache cookie tray, fancy salt and pepper shakers and a book of Elvis paper cut-outs. And as if the holiday party itself weren't amazing enough, we didn't come into the office until 1:00 PM the next day. AND it was pajama day. Do you see why we love the holidays?

Check out the pictures of the holiday party below, and see more on our Facebook!

Our interactive design agency

Chicago marketing firm Sandstorm Design

Chicago marketing firm Sandstorm Design

View all of Sandstorm's holiday party photos on Facebook. Learn more about our Chicago web design, interactive and marketing firm.

This blog was posted by Karen on December 20, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Chicago Marketing Firm, Sandstorm, decorates for the holidays

Someone should have told us our new office had elves. Had we known, maybe we would have moved in a long time ago! As of today, when stepping off the elevator you're greeted with a colorful, sparkling, blinking display of holiday spirit bursting from the Sandstorm Design office.

Chicago Marketing Company Sandstorm

Okay, so maybe it wasn't elves. Maybe a few of the Sandstorm staff came into the office unenviably early to set up the surprise. Either way, our Chicago marketing firm now has quite the magical, merry vibe. There's a cozy fireplace next to the tree, candy cane poles, a light-up Santa Claus and garland galore. See for yourself in the pictures below:

 

Chicago Web Design Firm Sandstorm

Chicago Marketing Firm Sandstorm

What can I say, this is our favorite season. From all of us at Sandstorm, Happy Holidays!

See more pictures on Sandstorm's Facebook page—and don't forget to like us!

This blog was posted by Karen on December 1, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Chicago Marketing Firm Welcomes Production Manager

We are excited to welcome Will Biby to Sandstorm Design as our Production Manager! He is the new face of Sandstorm Design, literally. Will’s desk is the reception area, the first thing you see when entering our new office. He comes from a varied and creative administrative background. Will is supporting every facet of our marketing firm, from usability testing to assisting our Drupal development team. His can-do attitude comes from his experience in education and improvisation (He’s currently studying at iO Chicago and The Second City).

We’re so excited to work with you. Welcome, Will!

This blog was posted by Karen on November 11, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Realtor University - Example of a Drupal web site

REALTOR® University and the National Association of REALTORS® partnered with Sandstorm's Drupal development team to build their first ever master's degree program. The web site was developed through a combination of marketing messaging, copywriting, tagline development, user interface design and implementation of the Drupal 7 CMS. Featured on the homepage are rotating graphics emphasizing the core advantages the university offers. We are so excited to announce this launch!

This blog was posted by Karen on October 20, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Chicago marketing firm Sandstorm Design just moved

Following a year of exceptional growth, Sandstorm Design is excited to announce its move! Don’t worry, we’re still in Chicago—just a couple blocks north of our old address. In the heart of the Ravenswood Corridor, this architecturally inspired space is perfectly suited for the strategy and execution of Drupal web sites, interactive web applications and creative marketing campaigns.

With this relocation, we have expanded space for collaboration and day-to-day activity. This includes an on-site usability lab, ideal for conducting formal and informal usability studies. Our “zen room” is the ideal place to find inner peace.  The new office is distinctly Sandstorm with our giant swirl logo painted at the entrance (It’s 8-foot by 11-foot!), and 4700 feet of exposed ceiling pipe was hand-painted Sandstorm blue to give some added color to this former warehouse space. To see more about this exciting development, check out the Sandstorm Photostream. We even tallied all the numbers from the move, and put together this infographic.

Be sure to update your records, CRM system, and iPhones. Our marketing firm is now located at 4619 N. Ravenswood Suite 300, Chicago, Illinois 60640. Our phone number is the same, 773-348-4200, but all extensions have shifted with an upgrade to a new Shoretel phone system. 

This blog was posted by Karen on October 17, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
This blog was posted by Karen on October 5, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Drupal 7 developer - Andy Cullen

We are thrilled to welcome Andy Cullen, Senior Web Developer, to Sandstorm Design! The newest addition to our technology and usability team, this Chicagoland native specializes in backend development. Andy speaks a number of languages including PHP, SQL, and ActionScript. And much to our delight, he is also an experienced Drupal 7 developer. Andy is a fan of all things Apple, but his hobbies are far from any computer screen.

He mixes up his seasons with outdoorsy activities and sports. Spring brings baseball and football takes over in fall. He’s gone fly fishing in Wyoming, and snowboarding and whitewater rafting in Colorado. Welcome, Andy. We’re so excited to work with you!

 

This blog was posted by Karen on September 9, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen
Chicago marketing firm Sandstorm Design featured in 2011 Inc. 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies

Hooray! We are in the top 350 for companies in marketing and interactive on the 2011 Inc. 500|5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country! “It’s a really exciting time for Sandstorm,” said Sandy Marsico, our marketing firm's Principal, as I snapped a photo of her with the package Inc. Magazine sent us. “I am so proud of our team’s relentless dedication to our clients and the exceptional work they produce.” Inc. Magazine releases the 500|5000 list each year to celebrate the companies who are thriving in their industries. The Inc. 500|5000 site has the full list, along with features, graphics and multimedia.

Be sure to check out the Sandstorm Design Inc. 500|5000 profile. “We’re honored to be a part of such an inspiring and aspiring group of companies,” said Marsico. Everyone at Sandstorm is enthusiastically looking forward to continued growth. Learn more about Sandstorm Design and our unique blend of marketing strategy, web design and usability services.

This blog was posted by Karen on August 23, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

Karen

Another year, another guac off, and another amazing slew of recipes! This year we had eggs, asparagus, radishes and more snuck into the guacamole for that extra-special kick. But it was our User Experience Architect Alma Meshes who took home the gold with her amazing recipe for chocolate avocado truffles with chives, pink peppercorns and a cinnamon crisp. Yummy!

There is now discussion as to whether we need to rethink the rules (since chocolate truffles don't fit under the "guac" category) which currently state that the base ingredient should be avocados. Our Interactive Designer Zak Orner says changing the rules would stifle creativity, and after all, we are a creative firm! Watch video of the fun below:

Chocolate Avocado Truffles with Chives, Pink Peppercorns and a Cinnamon Crisp

Chocolate Truffle

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large very ripe avocados, peeled and pit removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups Hershey's baking cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Decorations

  • Hershey’s Special Dark baking cocoa (unsweetened)
  • Hershey’s Milk chocolate icing (melted)
  • Fresh chives Pink peppercorns Cinnamon Crisp (Store bought crescent rolls, rolled flat and covered in butter and cinnamon sugar. Follow baking directions on the package, cool and cut into small triangles)
  • Small paper cups (optional)

Directions

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together vanilla extract, baking cocoa and powdered sugar.
  • In a medium sized sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.
  • In a food processor, mix melted butter and avocado together until smooth and there are no chunks of avocado left.
  • Return butter and avocado mixture to sauce pan and slowly incorporate vanilla, cocoa and sugar mixture.
  • Place truffle batter in the freezer for 2 – 4 hours or until set enough to roll into balls.
  • Using a melon baller, small ice cream scoop or your hands, roll out balls approximately 3/4” in size. Immediately roll truffle in Hershey’s Special Dark baking cocoa. Place into individual paper cups. (This keeps storage container from getting chocolate all over it!) Return to freezer or refrigerator if the truffle batter gets too soft to form balls.
  • To decorate, use melted chocolate icing as “glue” to hold 2 small chive pieces and 1 peppercorn in place. Place one cinnamon crisp per truffle in the paper cups.
  • Refrigerate until ready to enjoy!

At Sandstorm Design, we know our way around an avocado, but we're also pretty good with the web too! Find out how we can help you with our unique blend of strategy, marketing, web design and usability services.

This blog was posted by Karen on August 16, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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Karen
Crain's BtoB

2011 has been an award-winning year for Sandstorm Design! Earlier this year we were recognized by BtoB Magazine as a Top B2B Interactive Agency. Today, we've been recognized again—This time as a top Chicago Web Developer for 2011 by Crain's Chicago Business. Not only does this mean we're in the printed newspaper, but we'll also be included in the Book of Lists for 2011. Our developers work closely with the design team to create powerful results. And when it comes to content management systems, our Drupal 7 developers build robust and flexible web sites customized to your needs. We love the work we do, and are so honored to be included as a top Chicago Web Development firm!

This blog was posted by Karen on July 18, 2011.
Karen Boehl

About the Author

Karen Boehl

Karen does a little bit of everything – webmaster, social media manager and search engine optimizer. She can most often be found on Twitter, in the Usability Lab, or happily buried in the Drupal admin menu.

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