Tea Swap Link Up

If you like tea, you have picked the right day to read my blog. Today I will be posting about the yummy teas I received from Jenn over at Optimization, Actually. Earlier in the month I decided to host a Summer Tea Swap. The Winter Tea Swap went so well it sounded like a great idea to introduce some great teas that could be enjoyed in the summer.

Without further adieu, here is what I received!

1. Starbucks Iced coffee: It's not tea but that's okay in my book! I can't wait to try this out. Hopefully this weekend :)

2. Dandelion Tea: I have heard good things about dandelion tea. Maybe it will help this bloat I've got going on lately!

3. Tulsi Jasmine Green Tea: This stuff smells so good! I think I have found my new favorite go to tea!

4. Twinnings Chai: I have had this tea in the past and it is a good one. So glad to have more of this in my life!

5. Tazo Ice Passion Sweetened Tea: I haven't tried this yet but I am a fan of the passion tea when I go to Starbucks so if it's anything like that I will like this.

6. Harris Green Tea: Gotta love the green tea. Some people don't like the taste but I think its pretty calming and has just enough flavor.

7. Kirkland Green Tea: This looks interesting. I can't wait to try this and give a formal report!

Thank you so much Jenn for the awesome teas. I love trying new things and these are all certainly right up my alley! I am planning my 2nd annual Winter Tea Swap this November so keep an eye out for that!

I have opened a link up for all participants to link up what they got! I am also okay with anyone linking up their favorite teas! Recommendations are always welcome!

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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 3

Day 3 (Check out Day 1 and Day 2)

I didn't feel as tired today when I woke up. I was however supposed to go do some early yoga and that didn't happen. I also decided missing breakfast wasn't the end of the world and I didn't have as big of an interest to that morning keynote, so I went in a little later. It was Saturday so there was no rush hour to worry about. I arrived at around 10:15 with just enough time to get me to a session I was interested in attending; You As a Brand: Brands on Bloggers.

This was an interesting panel. So much insight was given on what brands are looking for and what they avoid. I learned a lot about what I should be doing moving forward to help me connect with brands better. Very informative and glad I attended.

I had a lunch time private event with Good Health. I was really excited about this one because I am all about living a healthier life these days and any tips I can get works for me. I sat with some pretty great ladies and we laughed together as we all attempted some yoga in the crowded room. Lunch was pretty yummy and we sat and learned some food tips.

After lunch I headed to another session that was set up once again as a round table discussion. Building a Media Kit with Erin Baynham was one of the top sessions on my list to attend. It was apparently on top of lots of peoples lists because it was PACKED! I was lucky to have a seat close to Erin so I heard everything clearly but others got frustrated and I think next year this type of session needs to be in a bigger setting. I took a lot out of this session with all of the amazing ladies who spoke up and gave insight. I don't currently have a media kit but am working on one this week. I am excited to see what I can come up with and where it can take me. Do you have a media kit?

I ended my conference experience with one last visit to the Expo. In case you are wondering what the Expo is, it is a huge hall where all of the sponsors are set up ready to meet you. You have opportunities to hand out business cards, mingle with fellow bloggers, and sample new products. This is where most of your swag comes from. It can be really overwhelming.

Just a peak at some of the swag I went home with

I unfortunately did not attend the closing party. I really had every intention of doing so but had some insecurities about getting back to my cousins safely at that hour of the night. I ended up heading home and spending more time with my cousin and organizing everything for my trip home. I had a great experience and can't wait to attend more conferences in the future.

Stop back tomorrow to see some of my conference must haves when attending for the first time. These tips could also be helpful for your 100th conference.  I hope you enjoyed the journey with me this week. Now I want to hear about your experiences with conferences. Tell me all about your experiences in the comments!

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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 2

Day 2 (Check out Day 1!)

Tired does not even begin to describe how I felt when I woke up. I sluggishly made my way to the city and barely made it to breakfast and the morning Keynote. The keynote was amazing with Anna Maria Chavez, Soledad O'Brien and Samantha Skey. I felt so moved and inspired by these ladies stories. I left the keynote feeling pumped as I headed to a private event with Sears Connection. This was a panel of ladies talking about all the new technology Sears has to offer as well as how we can use it in our everyday lives. One of the panelists was Randi Zuckerberg. She had so many great ideas about keeping families grounded in this techno world we live in. We all received a little goody bag along with Randi's book Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives. Looking forward to reading that!

After that amazing panel I ran to lunch where Gwyneth Paltrow was speaking. She spoke about Goop, parenting, her divorce, and dealing with criticism of being in the spotlight. She spoke so candidly and open. I really felt like she was just another blogger/business woman trying to make it in this crazy world. She laughed, she cried, and she inspired. Such a great person to bring into a conference for blogging. 

I felt like she had some pretty good advice on how to deal with life in the spotlight. Even as bloggers we may not be huge celebrities, but we are putting ourselves out there for criticism. Some days it is harder than others to deal with the real dangers that come along with public writing. I have said this before and I will say it again, not everyone will like you or your writing. Gwyneth spoke about how she deals with these issues and how they made her really look at herself. Some of the negativity that comes out of the criticism helps to shape yourself and work on things that may be your own insecurities. 

I left lunch feeling a lot better about some of the stuff going on in my life. It was a great way to remind myself to keep moving even in difficult times. I moved on to my first session since coming to the conference. I attended Humor Writing in 140 Characters and Beyond with Sarah Maizes. This was meant to be a round table discussion but quickly became pretty crowded where it became very hard to hear. I took a little out of this session, but I wish it would have been a little better organized.

Conference OOTD Day 2

After the session there was an Expo break. I used this time to visit with any of the vendors I hadn't already talked to. I had an opportunity to meet country music artist Billy Currington courtesy of Best Buy Wedding Registries.  I also sampled some Coca Cola Life. Tasted yummy to me! Quenched my thirst and got me ready for the Voices of the Year (VOTY) ceremony. It was so inspiring to see what people have been doing this year in the blogging community. They have been inspiring and helping people understand some tough times. Such an amazing ceremony. 

Immediately after the ceremony there was a champagne reception. I was starting to get tired and wanted to spend some time with my cousin, so I decided to head out a little early. I was smart today and did not get to much swag so the trip back to Penn Station went smoother. I was able to take the subway. Much quicker and cheaper than the cab ride. Unfortunately like I mentioned in yesterdays post, you must come prepared for everything. This includes all trains being temporarily suspended due to "police activity" at one of the stations you needed to pass through to get home. 

My idea of getting home earlier to my cousin was delayed and of course this was during rush hour on a Friday when EVERYONE wanted to just get home. It was hot, people were angry, and that just leads to chaos no matter how you look at it. Finally we learned 2 trains had side swiped eachother on the westbound tracks (I was headed eastbound) causing damage and derailment. After a good hour or so they opened the eastbound tracks allowing me and the hundreds of others to finally head home. Saying the train was crowded was an understatement! 

Day 2 Lessons Learned + Tips 
  • Go to bed at a normal time! Being exhausted especially when traveling is never fun.
  • Pack a water bottle. I was pretty thirsty at times and when the train was delayed and the stations were scorching hot, water would of been a good idea to have.
  • Don't forget your comfy shoes. I left with just my sandals and at times my feet were very angry at me!
  • Check news alerts before heading anywhere. I could of stayed at the conference enjoying some champagne while the train situation sorted itself out. 
I  hope you enjoyed Day 2! If you didn't see Day 1 you can recap that here---> Day 1! Also don't forget to come back tomorrow for Day 3!    

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BlogHer Conference Recap - Day 1

What happens when you decide you MUST go to a blogging conference 3 weeks before it happens? Well if you're like me you read every article and post you can find about the previous conferences as well as the one coming up. I jam packed myself with so much information about the BlogHer conferences it's no wonder people start to get anxious. I felt their pain.

When I decided to make the trip to NYC to attend, I also knew I was going to be traveling alone. No big deal right? I read all over the place that even if you attend alone, you will still feel super welcome and everyone is really friendly. I decided it would be okay and I would make due. To make that traveling alone thing even trickier I decided I needed to also save some money so I opted to stay with family on Long Island (about a 50 minute train ride to the city). This did not help my anxiety when it came to meeting new people.

Follow along with me this week as I recap my first ever blogger conference. I will be talking about my experience and offer up tips for newcomers. Everyone has a different experience so I hope one of you can relate to mine. 

Day 1

It was about 12:30pm when I arrived via a Coach bus into New York City. It was hot, sticky, and I had been awake since 5:30am with no coffee. Scary thought, I know. I was meeting my cousin whom I would be staying with for the time I was spending in NYC. Stepping out into the sunlight after emerging from Port Authority showed me the first lesson I learned about attending a conference and NOT staying at the hotel it was being offered at; if you bring bags, you kind of have to carry them with you from that point forward. Thankfully the Hilton where the conference was being held allowed me to "check my bags" for the day. Amen to the Hilton!

I was what I felt like a thousand pounds lighter and starving for lunch. We decided to head out in search of sustenance. Which actually meant I was in search for wine of course. We settled on the Olive Garden in Times Square. They had this pretty amazing deal on a wine flight for $9.00. For Manhattan that is pretty darn cheap. I also figured it would be a good idea to actually eat something so the endless salad and breadsticks sounded like a plan. It was nice to feel full and a little less sweaty. Going back out into the world seemed hard at this point though.

Lunch! I mean my drinks? ;)
We headed off to find the Coffee Bean cause when in Manhattan you can't pass up one of those yummy blended drinks they made. We strolled in during "happy hour" and got our drinks for half off. Not to shabby. It was nearing 4:30 and I still needed to officially check in and meet up a group of ladies for a drink. We headed to the hotel and I realized I really needed to change.

The current condition of my "travel" clothes (capri's and a t-shirt) were wrinkles and sweaty. Not exactly the first impression I wanted to make. Fast forward to me in the lobby bathroom changing my clothes and freshening up. I felt better and was ready to mingle. My cousin joined me for a bit and then headed off to meet up with a friend. I befriended a few ladies and we headed into the Expo together. The Expo was crawling with bloggers and brands. So much to do in so little time! I made my way from booth to booth, eventually losing my new conference buddies (not on purpose!).

I quickly caught on to the fact that I was going to be leaving with quite the swag and not much room for it. Oops! I wandered around a few times trying to avoid more swag that I didn't need and grabbed a glass of wine. There were wine and drink stations set up all through out the 2 floors. I had my picture taken with some sponsors and all in all had a fun experience. I briefly stopped up at the Multi-Culti party before exhaustion completely took over and I needed to call it a night.

My cousin was still in the city so after accessing the swag situation I decided there was no way to walk the 20 blocks to Penn Station or even try to get on a subway so I hailed a cab. After a pretty frightening cab ride I was reunited with K and on the train to Long Island. Whew! What a crazy first day!

Day 1 Lessons Learned + Tips!
  • Stay at the hotel the conference is being held at. This will save you lots of frustration.
  • Pack comfy shoes and be prepared to walk A LOT. 
  • Sunscreen! Needless to say I had a little redness after day 1's adventures.
  • Wear really good deodorant if you won't have time to shower. 
  • Be patient. Things can change quickly in a large city. Be prepared for anything.

I hope you enjoyed day 1! Please come back tomorrow for day 2 and more tips! Follow along all week as I talk about all things conference related!

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Back to reality

Happy Wednesday! I am still a little conference drunk after my first ever experience with BlogHer 2015! That being said, I have not yet written about my experience as I am still riding the wave and coming back to reality. Here on this space I don't like to write out blogs for weeks and just post them conveniently most of the time. I like to come and sit down and really write what's speaking to me. So bare with me as I recover.

Today I am checking in to let you all know I am still recharging and catching up with all the emails, notes, and contacts from the past 6 days. I have not forgotten you and I will be back here next week with my experiences at the conference, what I learned, and what I want to do next to connect with you!

I want to thank BlogHer, all the brand sponsors, keynote speakers, and fabulous bloggers who made the experience possible! Thank you all!

I'll leave you with this little gem:

Make it a great day! :)

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Let's Get This Conference Started!

Hello Listers! <--- Is that a thing? Happy Friday! I am currently hanging out at BlogHer 2015 in New York City! Where my conference goers at? For any of you who are unfamiliar with what BlogHer 2015 is, it is an enormous 2.5 day conference that brings bloggers and brands together. It gives bloggers an opportunity to mingle with fellow bloggers, build relationships with brands, learn new things, and have a good time!

After the week I've had I needed this. I arrived in NYC yesterday afternoon where I met up with my cousin for the day. We had lunch and then hung out with some fellow conference goers. The official kick off of the conference started last night at 6pm with The Expo followed by various parties. SO. MUCH. SWAG.

The next 2 days are jam packed with speakers, sessions, parties, and special events. I am hoping to learn some great new things to share with all of you here on the blog, as well as things I can apply to make this blog better.  I have a couple of opportunities to meet up with some brands while I am here and I am looking forward to building relationships for possible partnerships. Really excited about that!

Anyone else at the conference? If you're here, say hello! I want to meet you all :)

Have a great weekend folks! I'll be back Monday with more on how the full experience went. (Okay don't hold me to Monday as I may be sleep deprived, but I will get it out next week!)

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First Impressions: BlogHer 2015

I'm not sure if you heard the news, but... I'M GOING TO BLOGHER 2015! This will be my first time attending and my first blogging conference ever. With that being said, I am beyond excited and beyond nervous all at the same time. I put "attend a blog conference" on my bucket list for 2015 so I am beyond thrilled that I am crossing that off. Now onto more important things.. Because I have never attended any conference I do not have any advice or tips from experience, so I decided to put together my own "first impression" tips and advice from all that I have learned so far.

Conference: BlogHer 2015: Experts Among Us
When: July 16-18
Where: New York City (NYC)
Subject: Tips and Tricks from a Newbie: Comedy Style
*This list is meant to be funny and is not intended to offend anyone. I believe laughing through life can be the best medicine and at a time of being anxious or nervous, this is how I get myself though.

1. First and foremost make sure to pack wine. Lot's of it. If you are not a wine drinker, replace wine with your favorite alcoholic beverage. Consumption can not be avoided.

2. Pack as many people as you can into a hotel room. This will save you money and the hassle of lodging in NYC. It may also cause you extreme anxiety and turn you into an alcoholic as all potential roomies promise lots of wine. (See you will make lots of friends if you follow my first tip!)

3. Bring the largest suitcase and/or bags you own but leave them empty. You must save room for all of the free stuff you will get thrown at you from all the sponsors.

4. As far as the "what to wear" question has to go, make sure you just be yourself girlfriend (Or boyfriend)! But, make sure you read all of the outfit tips. You know.. so you make sure you are in "code" and are "in the know".

5. Make sure to stay connected (to the WiFi that is) at all times. Who are we bloggers fooling? We can't live without our screens and wifi. We must be able to Instagram, Periscope, and Tweet about everything we are doing.

6. Make a plan. There are about 70 million things to do (Okay I exaggerated a little) and it seems impossible to do everything. Between keynotes, sessions, invites, and parties, there is something for everyone, but don't plan on attending everything. That just leads to Stresstown, USA.

7. Meet new people! I hear the hallways are a great place to do this, as this is where the real parties happen. You know with the wine and lots of giggling. This again keeps you in the cool kids club because once again if you followed my first tip, you will be famous already :)

8. Bring business cards. Whether you hand draw your own or spend a small fortune on some professional ones, make sure to proof read them before ordering them/handing them out. The genius I am got so excited when making mine, I put the wrong Twitter handle. Yes folks, I will be advertising someone else's Twitter. (Who am I  kidding, I placed stickers over that mistake with the correct info. So fancy, I know!)

Well there you have it fellow conference goers. That is what I have learned so far in the amazing journey leading up to BlogHer 2015. Truth be told, if you are going.. the best advice I can give as far as someone who has never gone before is, just have fun. Make the conference about learning, socializing, and networking.  This is my plan. I am in introvert to the max but I am going to put myself out there and let the good times roll. I am so excited to meet all the fabulous bloggers, speakers, and sponsors who will all come together to make one heck of a conference.

If you are going, please reach out! I would love to meet you! I promised myself I would come home with a new tribe and friends for life. If you are on that same mission, get in touch! We can do it together! These are the events I am planning to attend:

I'm going to the Voices of the Year Reception at #BlogHer15!I'm going to the Evening at the Expo at #BlogHer15!I'm going to the Multi-Culti Party at #BlogHer15!

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Freedom of creation

When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I always wanted to have a respectful blog where you wouldn't have to shield people away from it. I rarely if ever use swear words, I don't attack people or post controversial topics, and I always get permission before writing about anyone when it comes to using their full names, ages, or photos.

This is a space where I write about my life, my journey, and tips and tricks along the way. I enjoy sharing the things I've learned and experienced with all of you. Sometimes that is going to include a small glimpse into those not so great moments. While I rarely write about negative topics on this blog, as a human being there will be days when I just want to vent about something in my life.

I have never intentionally sat down and wrote a blog that would hurt or upset someone. That is not what this space is all about. I also understand that putting yourself out there for the world to read may cause some unwanted attention at times. Not everyone is going to like you or the things you choose to write about. I am okay with that. You should be too.

Have enough respect to walk away from something you do not like or take a moment to send an e-mail to discuss the issue you have with something I have posted here. Lashing out and and being cruel is never the answer. Almost all conflict in given time can be resolved in an adult manner without trying to hurt the other party. 

Lessons are learned, people move on, and content is created.

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The weekend before our move into the new house, I surprised R with a weekend getaway. It was also his Birthday so that was part of the inspiration to where we went. I knew the next few weeks would be crazy (and they are!), so getting away for a few days was just what the doctor ordered. I searched the internet high and low for cabin rentals that wouldn't break the bank. I never took into consideration that R's birthday fell over Father's Day weekend. That made it a bit more tricky.

I searched places like Groupon and Livingsocial hoping to find a deal. All I really knew about what I was looking for was, R wanted to go camping and I wanted to go glamping so we had to meet somewhere in the middle. This is when I came across a cute little property 2 hours north of us called Wellnes:ste (Pronounced wellness stay). It was located on a river with 4 cabins. It looked perfect for what I was envisioning for our weekend away.

I immediately inquired about the Leopold Cabin, which I received a response from Jessica that it was booked for the weekend already.. booo. She also suggested another cabin, Thoreau that was available. I accepted and we were booked for 2 nights! I was so excited I could barely keep it a secret from R. One thing I had to plan for was food. Shopping secretly here and there was fun. The cabin did not have running water, so I didn't want to make anything that was to messy.

2 days before check in, I received an email that Leopold Cabin was now available, and wondered if we wanted to move in that cabin. I decided to stick with Thoreau and I was glad I did. We arrived on the property just before 8pm on a Friday night. It was beautiful and really set back from the road. The cabin was super cute and Jessica and her family were really welcoming. We enjoyed some lounging outside by the river before we settled in for the night in our loft bed.

We explored the property and did some hiking. We also explored the neighboring towns and visited a fort in Rome. We had a really amazing time and I would go back again in a heartbeat. The property is pet friendly and has so much to offer. 2 of the 4 cabins do not have bathrooms. We stayed in one of those. The bathroom is a full bathroom with shower that is attached to the main house. You share it with the other cabin without the bathroom. We lucked out, as no one was in the other cabin, so we had it all to ourselves.

All in all it was a great trip, and I see myself going back in the future!

Our Cabin


Guard chicken?


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America's Party Dress

I don't know about all of you, but I had a pretty amazing 4th of July weekend. We caught a bunch of sweet spots to watch fireworks and went to the most American place we could think of to celebrate Independence Day: A winery called Americana Vineyards! We have been to the winery in the past so we knew we would love the wine. The winery was hosting an all day bash complete with live music, BBQ, beer, fireworks, and of course wine. It was a win-win.

I couldn't wait to celebrate, and when we celebrate we have to play the part. I wanted to be patriotic so I was even more stoked to debut my beautiful custom dress from eShakti. With its bright red with navy accents and a white cardigan, I was all set to go. The dress fit like a glove, and I felt confident and comfortable my whole night out. Being a shorty, it can sometimes be hard to find the perfect clothing, especially when it comes to dresses.

Nothing can beat being patriotic like the good ol red, white, and blue, good friends, wine, and fireworks! I hope you all had a fantastic one too!

Gorgeous fireworks at Americana Vineyards
eShakti custom dress

My eyes are closed but this is my favorite photo from the shoot
No night is complete without that grainy cellphone picture!

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Happy 4th!

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July Goals

Whew we made it! Summer is into full swing and with 4th of July this weekend we can sure look forward to more cookouts, fireworks, bonfires, and drinks on the patio with good friends and family. July is also the month I am getting my butt back into gear. I am finally at a place where I can sit down again and plan out my ideas and plans for the summer both on this blog and in my everyday life.

You may recall my June goals/Happiness Project theme was balance and getting back on track. I revisited things I worked on earlier in the year to touch up some of those skills and practices. It is so important to check in from time to time, and I felt the mid-year point was best for me. I am happy to report that I am working out more, spending more time with friends, and taking some moments for me. These these were so essential for me to feel like a person again, rather than a crazed work horse.

Because a lot of the hard stuff seems to have settled down, I am setting July's theme as Fun. I am going to reconnect with all the things I enjoy. One of those things will certainly be this blog. I enjoy coming here and writing for all of you. I am also attending lots of events with friends this month. All happy things like weddings and parties.

So here are the goals I want to really hit:

  • Laugh often. Whether it be with friends, family, coworkers, or to myself. I am going to keep the good times rolling.
  • Read more. I am pulling out that summer reading list and getting to work. I have about 5 books I absolutely want to get done this month, so cheers to that! What are you reading?
  • Photography: I got a fancy new camera to play with for Christmas and have hardly pulled it out. I love capturing beautiful moments in life, so it's time. No more excuses! Bonus for the blog because the photos will look SO much better!
  • Hiking: Getting my fitness on while seeing some beautiful scenery can never go wrong. I am going to get out there, clear my head, burn some calories, and take photos. Sounds like a dream for me!
  •  Blogging: This month I am going to my first blogging conference. BlogHer15. I am so excited for this. I can't wait to learn new ways to grow this space and connect with new bloggers. Anyone else planning on going? If you are lets plan a get together!
  •  Get involved: I have been wanting to get more involved with my local community. I was on my way to getting there back in May when all kinds of crazy happened and I kind of backed off. July is going to be the month I start getting more involved with local events, hoping to build new relationships!
So there you have it. July may be busy, but it's going to be a fun busy! I cannot wait to see what kind of doors open this month. I am putting myself out there and that alone is huge for me. I want to collaborate. I want to start new projects. I want to grow both on this blog and in my personal life. Who's with me? We can do this together!

Have an amazing 4th of July weekend if you are on holiday! If you aren't I hope it goes great for you anyway!

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Dear July

Well hello there July. Nice to see you. Hoping you have better plans for me then June had. I don't think I could handle another gut wrenching month where there were surprises around every corner. I mean a girl loves her surprises but you've got to leave some room for routine. Am I right?

 You've already proven to be useful with finally finding my planner that has been missing for 8 weeks. What else can you pull out of your hat?
Perhaps some sunshine, as June drenched us up here in the northeast.

That goes to say if you can follow through on the sunshine and no rain, we should have great firework weather. I feel like you kind of screwed us over the last few years with just enough rain to get the fireworks cancelled.

One more request and I promise we will be friends again, make sure nothing gets in the way of my first ever blogging conference at BlogHer15 in NYC. Looking foward to going and meeting some great new peeps.

Thanks for understanding July.

Blogger who just wants to be able to take photos of the darn foreworks without rain.

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