BlogHer 2009: Connections

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I went to BlogHer with basically only one expectation: to have a great time. And I most certainly did. It was busy, loud, hectic, crazy and fun. There are so many bloggers I love and admire and I was hoping to get the chance to tell them so in person. I was fortunate that I met many of the people I wanted to meet, and others I was hoping to meet. I'm not a shy person by nature but there were a few times I backed away from introducing myself, and now that I'm home I'm kicking myself for not putting my big girl panties on.

It was important to me to make connections. To put names with faces and meet the person behind the avatar. Every one of these business cards is someone I looked in the eye, shook hands with and/or hugged. It's a good mix of bloggers, brands and PR people.

Some are people I've already met and got to reunite with. Some are people I already follow on Twitter. Some live on the west coast, a few are even in my neighborhood. All are people I'm pleased took the time to meet me, no matter how briefly.

And then, there was the unexpected connection. In all honesty, I didn't think I'd
get to meet Bossy. Not because I was afraid she wouldn't speak to me, but because I thought for sure I'd never get within five feet of her because of the crowd of admirers. Thankfully this was not the case (with Bossy or anyone else).

We first bonded on the dance floor at the MamaPop party. The DJ was on fire and when the unmistakable opening beat of Genius of Love by the Tom Tom Club came out of the speakers, we jumped into each others' arms like sorority girls. "I LOVE this song!!!"

And for the rest of the weekend, it was game ON. We went to the CheeseburgHer party, where apparently I was proposed to (the details are a little Mango Smirnoff-ed) and then out to the Hunt Club with people we met in the lobby over board games.

(I forget what this shot was called but it was nah.sty!)

And then there was Sunday. Both our planes left late in the evening so we spent the day walking the city. We walked, and talked (I. could. not. shut. up!) and ate and took pictures. I cried a little talking about Tyler. I want to tell you all about it because it was SO awesome. But then, I don't want to tell you because it was SO awesome that once I put it out there, it won't be mine anymore. Suffice it to say, it is one of the highlights of BlogHer. Thank you Bossy, for spending the day with me, for listening, indulging a childhood memory and being a friend.

I will share that a man was crossing the street in the opposite direction as us. He changed direction and followed us, offering this commentary:

"I'll be 56 years old this year and I've had the privilege of gazing on millions of beautiful women in my lifetime. You [me] are in the top 50 and you [Bossy] are definitely in the top 10."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Getting To Know YOU

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One thing I've learned lately that was reinforced at BlogHer is that I need to get to know you better. I can tell when you've been here. I can tell that more people are coming by lately (which I love, thank you!) but that's not enough.

I created a short survey and I'd be most appreciative if you'd take a few minutes to respond. It's only 10 questions and it's anonymous, so you can say mean things and I won't be able to retaliate. I wish I had a cool prize to offer everyone who chooses to participate, but I only have my sincere thanks.
Click Here to take survey
(image from here)

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm in Boston. It's been a long time since I was here last (college, I think) and I forgot how awesome this city is. After I got my luggage, I decided to skip the cab ride to the hotel and take the T. We have public transportation in California but not like this. The T is what our transit system aspires to be.

I took the blue line to the green line and got off in Copley Square, less than a block from my hotel. Coming up out of the subway was like entering another time. The architecture makes me want to cry. There's a photo op around every corner. I could have walked around the square for at least an hour and sampled the cheeses, breads and fruits from the Farmer's Market.

After dinner at the Cottonwood Cafe a few us went for drinks at the Rattlesnake's rooftop bar. Which was filled with college kids. Rarw! Right now I'm in the hotel bar with Mindi (@MindiCherry), trying to decompress a little (meaning having a cocktail) and wondering what's in store for us tomorrow at the TJ Maxx/Marshalls corporate offices.

I'm so glad I've been able to take these trips and I owe many people HUGE thanks for making it possible. I miss Phil and Tyler, but you know who I missed even more? Me.

BlogHer 2009 Recap: Conflicted

Monday, July 27, 2009

*I started writing this at BlogHer

Being at BlogHer is just what I needed. Blogging is getting a little harder and more time consuming for me as I try to expand what I'm doing online into my offline life and start the beginning of a business. I needed an injection of creativity, a boost in confidence and something to light a fire in blogging belly and I definitely got it at BlogHer.

But, I'm a little conflicted. I'm getting a lot out of the sessions (especially Marketing to Women of Color). And many of the sponsors present are brands and products I identify with and support. However, it also seemed that many were there just to reach "a room full of women." Sugar Jones summed up my feelings really well with a Tweet she sent out during the Friday morning opening remarks. The BlogHer founders were going over the major event sponsors and Sugar tweeted:

Listening to the sponsor list and wondering if marketers know that we're more than lipstick and vacuums."

Amen, sister.

While I applaud the companies at BlogHer for being a part of such a great event and wanting to connect with bloggers in a social media setting, it would have been nice to see a bridge between our online lives and home lives that could benefit us far longer than a sample of laundry soap.

After the opening remarks I met Sheryl and Kim-Marie (@LuxuryTravelMom and @MktgMvn) and we had a short conversation about this. I told them about Sugar's Tweet and we agreed how great it would be to have a really powerful speaker who could motivate us as women, or sessions that could help those of us who need to re-enter the workforce, go back to school or figure out how to send our kids to college. (Now that I'm home I'll add to that become better writers, finding our voice and how to be consistent with it once we do.)

I met up with Sugar and told her I had a post forming and she echoed another sentiment I was feeling in that when things in our offline lives are in balance, our online lives will be too and our blogs will reflect that.

I was hesitant to post this because I'm still on sugh a high and I don't want this to seem like a knock against the BlogHer team, any of the participating sponsors, people who had sponsors or a rant about the swag* because it's absolutely not. The many things I LOVED about BlogHer, like the chance to meet my idols face to face, learn something new, share my opinion and make new friends, far outweigh the few I didn't and I will post about them too.

I know sponsors are necessary to make a conference (especially one on this scale) possible and affordable for its attendees. I also know so many people could not have attended BlogHer without their sponsors (myself included). There weren't any sponsors there who didn't fit, and, after all, we're their target market. Hence my conflicted nature. It just seems there could be more balance between the marketing, products and life outside of social media. (I tried to link to comments on Mom 101's post but am too lame to figure out how. Read the post and look for squaregirl's and Jozet's comments. Loved 'em.)

*But to the people who walked into a party, took the swag, walked out and told those of us who were on the way in that the swag wasn't worth it? Or those who outright stole swag? Or tackled people to get swag? Or Tweeted how awful a company was because you didn't get swag? Or who took sponsor MONEY to hand out swag but DIDN'T? Shame the fuck on you!

BlogHer 2009: I'm here!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I haven't been to Chicago since Phil graduated from boot camp at Great Lakes. I forgot how totally cool this city is! I have tried not to overwhelm the blog with BlogHer talk, partially because I didn't want to set my expectations too high. I'm looking forward to the sessions, meeting new people and re-connecting with friends I haven't seen in awhile.

The energy in the hotel is amazing. The number of laptops rivals any electronics store, the WiFi signal is strong and I'm already coveting these really cute bags I see people with! I'll try not to overwhelm you with all the activities. I remember last year how much it sucked to be on the other side of the screen. ;D

Wordless Wednesday: Some Things Never Change

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For more Wordless Wednesday visit:5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell

Getting Ready for BlogHer with Foot Petals {+Giveaway}

Sunday, July 19, 2009

*Giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Tanya and Ginny!*

*I've extended the entry period for this contest. Between BlogHer and the trip to Boston, I was not able to promote it as it deserved*

I'm not really sure when my love affair with high heels began. It could have been an unconscious response to being the shortest person in my family, a nudge from the universe (who knew I'd end up marrying someone over six feet tall) or a typical girl thing.

When I was in junior high, one of my mom's friends gave me a pair of heels that she had to wear in a wedding. Today, I'd think they were ugly as sin, but back then, I was happy to have them. Mom wouldn't let me wear them to school. She thought they were too high. So, I did what any other girl would have done and snuck them to school in my HUGE purse (it was ridiculously large). Whatever the reasons, I've always gravitated toward them and now have a closet full of stilettos and wedges.

I tried to pinpoint when I first started using Foot Petals in my shoes but it's been to long. I think the first pair I used them in is my Nina satin heels I bought more than ten years ago for a wedding. They're a product I believe in, and there's real science behind them. The company founder, Tina Aldatz, burned her feet on hot coals when she was a child. Her feet have been overly sensitive and prone to blistering ever since. She received certification as a pedorthist (fancy term for a person who is trained to fit and modify shoes to medical guidelines) after leaving BCBG and a brief time at an internet start up.

Once I knew I would be going to BlogHer, I asked a friend for some tips and she said, "wear comfortable shoes." That negates about half my closet! I took a chance, wrote to Foot Petals explaining that I didn't want to sacrifice cuteness for comfort and asked if they would be willing to help. And yeah for me! they said yes. Every pair of shoes I take to BlogHer (last count: seven) will have at least one Foot Petals product in it. I'll also be taking product with me to bestow upon anyone who looks to be in need. Kind of like a Guardian Angel but for feet.

And because I love you, I have two Foot Petals kits to give away. Two winners will receive one Stiletto Stylist Kit. The kit includes Killer Kushions, Heavenly Heels, Strappy Strips, Sole Stopperz, Tip Toes and Haute Heels.

If you don't win, you can purchase your own products at a 15% discount with code MELBLOGHER. Free shipping on all US orders over $20.

To enter:
1. Visit Foot Petals and do any of the following:
-Look through their collection
-Read through any of Tina's Tips on proper fit (lot's of good info!)
-Watch the video of Tina on HSN demonstrating the difference between Foot Petals and other shoe inserts (fast forward to 3:20)
-Tell me your worst blister or shoe pain story

2. Leave a comment on this post with your favorite product, tip or any other observation from the site. Is there a product you'd like to see? (enter me! and I want to win! aren't gonna cut it) This is required.

3. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

4. Because of BlogHer I will leave this contest open for awhile. Comments will close on Monday, August 3rd Monday, August 10th at 11:59pm CA time.

5. I will use to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and in a "Winners" post. (US only, I'm sorry!)

6. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free Twitter account.

7. You do not have to follow me or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry method. Here is the URL to this post:

Thank you to foot Petals for outfitting me for BlogHer! Good luck!

Traveling With A Laptop

Friday, July 17, 2009

My dad works for the TSA in Los Angeles out of LAX. When we bought my laptop Wednesday, he was telling us stories about how many laptops are lost and stolen in the airport. I asked him what steps I can take to help keep my laptop secure when I'm traveling to BlogHer. I told him I was going to purchase LoJack and he kinda talked me out of it.

He said his office has tested the LoJack system on laptops, cell phones and other electronics and it doesn't work. Actually, he said the system itself works, but only if the item with LoJack is outside. Once it enters a building, the GPS is useless. In his words, "I have LoJack on my car, but if it gets stolen and put on an 18-wheeler, it's gone." He also said if the thief takes the car into a parking structure the LoJack isn't really helpful.

So, I called Absolute Software and asked that question. The LoJack for cars is a GPS based system, but for laptops, it's software and internet based. The software works once a person reports their laptop as stolen AND the laptop connects to the internet. Once the computer is on the internet, the software allows the trace to start.

The company gets the IP address, they call the internet service provider to get the physical address, give the physical address to the police who then obtain a search warrant. That's a lot of steps! But, it seems like a good back up and it's definitely better than nothing. The service is pretty affordable so I might do it anyway.

Basically, common sense is the best way to safeguard your stuff. I have my business card taped to the bottom of my laptop with neon orange duct tape. I have the laptop serial number stored in my iPod touch and I bought a
laptop sleeve from Amazon, which hopefully meets the TSA's Checkpoint Friendly guidelines.

Please keep your eyes peeled and (double and triple) check your bags in the airport. Let's all come home with the same amount of stuff we left with!

Laptop images from here and here.

Guess What I Got?!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm so excited!!!!!

Wordless Wednesday: When Strawberries Are 77 Cents

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For more Wordless Wednesday visit 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell

Oh. My. God! Isn't it Beautiful!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kevin made this pendant (and several others) just for me. I love it!

Carolina Pad: School Supplies for Grown Ups {+Giveaway}

Sunday, July 12, 2009

**Contest is closed and the winner has been notified. Thank you for entering!**

My brother would tell you that I'm way more nerd than cool (he'd say I'm not cool at all). I always enjoyed school and looked forward to the end of summer vacation. I loved all the back to school shopping, especially for school supplies. The supply list was gospel, not a guideline. I remember the year I asked my mom for a Trapper Keeper and she said no because it was more expensive than the other binders. I was so sad.

I've always been a sucker for notebooks and folders. If it has multiple tabs, folds out like an accordion, has a place for pens, metal rings that snap shut, pretty covers or an elastic band to keep it closed? I. Want. It. And if it all matches? Swoon. Opening the email from Carolina Pad was like my birthday and back to school rolled into one. Would I like a selection of things with tabs, accordions, cool covers, snappy rings and elastic bands to review? Hell yes I would!

I got two boxes of products. Everything is so cute and pretty I don't know which to use first. I'll definitely be taking some of the set with me to BlogHer to keep track of my itineraries, invitations and Excel spreadsheets (oh, hush, my anal tendencies should come as no surprise by now).

Would you like to have an accordioned snappy set of your very own? Great! Because I have one to give away. Carolina Pad is giving one winner their choice of either the Eye Candy

or Simply Chic design (a $150 value).

Did you know that the Carolina Pad company began in 1945 selling school supplies out of the back of a truck? And that they donate regularly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society? And they have an entire product line made with environmentally friendly products? Me neither. But now that I do I like them even more now. They are having a design contest right now. All you creative types can submit a notebook cover for the Studio C line.

How do you win? Easy:

1. Visit Carolina Pad Leave and look at their collections. Come back here and leave comment on this post with your favorite style - ('enter me!' and 'I want to win!' aren't gonna cut it) required.

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. Comments will close on Sunday, July 19th at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and in a "Winners" post.

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free
Twitter account.

6. You do not have to follow or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry. Here is the URL to this post:

Thank you to Carolina Pad for the pretty supplies! Good luck!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Scene: The family decides to take a late afternoon visit to the pool. The mother, who prefers to jacuzzi, notices an unusually high amount of debris floating on the surface. Father and son dive into the pool. Mother grabs the pool skimmer-cleaning thingy.

Son: "What is Mommy doing?"

Father: "She's cleaning the leaves and stuff out of the jacuzzi."

Son: "Why?"

Father: "Mommy works here now."

Son: "Yay! Mommy found a new job!"

They Had Me at Eat

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bathing Suit Shopping Could Be So Much Better...

Monday, July 6, 2009

...with Mimosas and babysitting. Am I right? How lovely to be greeted at the fitting room with a champagne flute and someone to entertain your child.

The suit I bought last year is holding up OK but I knew it wouldn't make it through this summer. Our vacation has been scrapped and I'm embracing my neighborhood pool so new suits were definitely in order.

I was able to get three designer suits and I'm happy with what I found. I don't know why I'm more embarrassed to show pictures of me in a bathing suit than I was to be naked but I am. No comments from the peanut gallery!

These bottoms are mine. The top is Kenneth Cole and was only $5! Is it too maternity-ish?

I didn't think this suit was going to fit. But I couldn't leave it on the rack. Not my favorite color. I wish it helped the girls a little more but for $15 I can live with a little droopage.

I don't normally wear bikinis because of the whole muffin top, slow metabolism, mid-thirties thing* but I like this one. The fact that it's Tommy Bahama, was originally $116 and I got it for $25 made me like it even better! (I tried to soft focus my tummy and sharpen my bewbs to distract you from the stretch marks. Did it work?)

What about you? Have you had any luck with swimsuits this season? Where did you find them?

*Dear Picnik, please develop a stretch mark removal tool, thanks!

Thank you to Marshall's and TJ Maxx for helping me with my Swimsuit Spendervention!

Fair Food Has No Calories, Right?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"I don't just like chocolate covered bacon, I LOVE it!"
-Tyler, age 6

My first Deep Fried Snickers (heaven on a stick!)

Not pictured: hamburger, french fries, corn dogs, gelato, beef jerky, granola bars and chocolate chip cookies.
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