Travel Tuesday : Staying Connected in the Magic Kingdom

Mobilizing the Magic

So excited about this news!

Protect Your Tech While Traveling

DigitalTravelSafetyInfographic_Final

Tips below!
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Bloggers! On a boat!

Disclosure: I get to go on this cruise for free thanks to Madame Deals and Sea Dog! Thanks!

Sea Dog Fireworks Cruise

In just 16 days I will be taking off for the fair city of Chicago. There I will be eating, drinking, getting my blog on, and hanging out with my friends that live in the computer. And what better way to do that than on a boat?
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Setup Summer : Get the Car Summer Ready!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. Part of this content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and FRAM. I was free to write what I wanted and all opinions are my own.

Today is three weeks until summer for us! As you can probably guess, I am basing summer on the date my kids start their break from the regular school year. Even though they have summer school (free in our school district for all kids), the end of the school year means summer is officially here.

To us, summer equals road trips. We go to see family in Texas and Oklahoma; we spend the weekends driving to Missouri sites; we drive all around our city during the day. With my kids’ allergies, it’s important to me that our car be healthy of an environment as possible. I can’t control what affects them all the time, but I can control what affects them in the car (especially on those ten hour trips!)
FRAM Fresh Breeze Air Cabin Filters
Read on for my experience with changing the filter!
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What to Pack for a Blog Conference

Blogging conferences are some of the most fun you can have in a couple of short days. But man those days are packed. So you need to be prepared! After over twenty blog conferences, I consider myself a packing pro. This list will help you tackle your fears and prepare you to wow the crowds, hit the ground running, or at least keep you from dissolving into tears as you pack.

What To Pack For A Blog Conference Like BlogHer Blissdom TypeA
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Dream Trips: From Iceland to St. Louis, Glaciers to Gorillas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This week my prompt as part of the HTC TroopOneX was to write about dream trips. Well the prompt might have been dream “trip” but who could have just one? Not me and the husband who love travel like a fat kids loves cake (to quote 50 Cent.) We have a list of TEN dream trips we would like to take.

And this past summer we crossed one off the list: Iceland!
Look how happy we were to be there!

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You may have noticed that I haven’t written about or shared pictures of Iceland. Partly because I had some internet drama happen right around then but mainly because, OMG ICELAND. It’s an impossible country to put into words.

But this post isn’t about Iceland.
It’s about another dream trip. To St. Louis.
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Travel Tuesday : Traveling With Rosacea

In previous blog posts, I have talked about my struggle with Rosacea. It’s not all bad though; I
was able to attend the BlogHer conference with my ticket sponsored by RosaceaFacts.com. So
something good came out of all the flushing!

However, I was nervous about the trip and about our trip to Iceland.
Some of the biggest triggers of rosacea are seasonal weather conditions, emotional
stress, exercise, alcohol consumption and spicy foods.

Let’s see, I usually am known to consume a drink or two at BlogHer parties and though the
conference is awesome, it is amazingly stressful too. One moment I am happy and can’t get
enough but the next I am exhausted and just want to be left alone.

And then there’s the whole trip, going from humid New York to well, Iceland. Hello weather change!
Add in hiking and all the lamb stew and remoulade laden hot dogs (seriously, Iceland is known
for them, look it up) and well I was afraid I would look like a big tomato in all of those scenic
glacier shots.

Fortunately there are preventative steps. As they say, the best defense is a good offense.

It’s an extra step but I always take care to do the following:

1. Pack my skin care with me in my carry on. I decant mine into smaller TSA approved
bottles. I don’t want to risk trying something new.
2. Be extra vigilant with sun protection. I always bring my natural sunscreen stick with me every where.
3. Keep up with my routine, even though I just want to sink into bed. Consistency is so
important!

For more information about rosacea, visit www.rosaceafacts.com.

Disclosure: I am a RosaceaFacts Ambassador, sponsored by Galderma Laboratories, L.P. I was provided with a free BlogHer conference pass, in exchange for my efforts in spreading the word about Rosacea awareness.

Travel Tuesday : Toyota and Audubon Ask Drivers to Exit the Highway This Summer


(Photo from ShanaMama)

Do you family road trips include any of the following:

  • Visiting a snake farm in Texas?
  • Checking out the “Love Motel for Insects” in New York?
  • Viewing the Corn Palace in South Dakota?

No? Well you’re missing out on the many curiosities and unique scenery our country has to offer. And it’s not all about the man made stuff. Taking the scenic road means seeing natural wonders that will knock your socks off.

Toyota and the National Audubon Society are teaming up this summer to ask Americans to Exit the Highway and pledge to spend more time taking scenic roads. Highlighting nearly 100 nature destinations in more than 60 cities, the campaign is also rewarding nature seekers.

For every initial pledge and for every photo of a nature stop shared online at ExitTheHighway.com, participants are entered to win a Toyota Prius V! That’s what I am talking about.

The website also offers road trip itineraries inspiration for a day outdoors or an unexpected stop on your next road trip. You can map an itinerary to suit their travel plans or use them as inspiration for some family fun. Not near a highlighted city or region? You can suggest your own local nature spots to the Exit the Highway community by uploading a photo of your favorite nature location at ExitTheHighway.com.

To start your own adventure, take the pledge at ExitTheHighway.com, or Causes.com/Toyota. In addition to taking the pledge, the Exit the Highway website also allows you to:

  • Earn bonus entries into the Toyota Prius v sweepstakes by sharing photos tagged with #exitthehighway via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts or manually uploading photos at ExitTheHighway.com.
  • Explore nearly 100 nature destinations (70 of which are free to the public) along with a link to details and hours of operation.
  • See itineraries that utilize Google Maps for point-to-point directions.
  • Recommend favorite nature stops in your area to other nature seekers.
  • Get personal recommendations from local leaders with a passion for caring for the environment.

Did I convince you? Will you be taking the road less taken this summer?

 



Disclosure: I am part of the Toyota Women Influence Network. I have not been compensated for this post. Opinions are my own.

Happy Labor Day!

The girls are finally at the point where we have stopped making up silly explanations and are instead explaining things as plainly as possible. Wikipedia describes Labor Day as “a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (September 5 in 2011) that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.” We described it to the girls, as a day off from jobs. As they get older, we will go more into the history behind the day. We both love history and I hope to instill that love in them too.

As a goodbye to summer, we took a mini break and drive to Kansas City Saturday so we could use my media passes to Schlitterbahn KC. The park is still under construction but I imagine next summer it is going to rival the original one. They have the relaxation/thrill balance down pat. We spent most of our time in the kid areas splashing and sitting on lawn chairs eating snacks (you can bring your own in, major bonus!)

The girls did go down the lazy river with us a few times and then we braved the Torrent river which adds in curves and waves. Calamity Jane wanted to brave the Storm Blaster uphill water coaster but her dad vetoed due to the line. We felt secure taking them out with us since Schlitterbahn provides free usage of life jackets and there are plenty of eagle eyed life guards.

Even our first car sick incident on the way to the hotel couldn’t spoil the day. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and doing absurdly expensive hotel laundry. Then we split up, my husband out to the Yard House to drink beer and watch football, the girls to bed, me to the couch to read. Props to Comfort Suites: the extra room gave us enough space to spread out and the half wall between the areas was enough to make the girls actually go to sleep.

Vacation Day Two

The next day we opted for some frugal family fun. A trip to the Nelson-Atkins museum and lunch at Winstead’s. Admission to the museum is free, we parked on the street for free, and lunch was only $23 for the four of us including shakes. Our Winstead’s strategy includes burgers and onion rings (two orders, they are too good to share) for the adults and one kids meal for the twins with the shake split between them (they will put it into two cups for you.)

 

This was our first foray into an art museum since they have been out of the stroller.

A few tips for visiting museums with kids:

1) Split your visit! We did the sculpture garden first, went for lunch (Winstead’s is a nice walk), and came back for the art. And don’t do too much. We skipped the antiquities and older paintings in favor of the modern art wing. now we have a reason to come back.
2) Explain why they can’t touch the art (and keep them within grabbing distance.) Instead of just saying, “don’t touch” we explained that the oils on our fingers could damage the art and that the sculptures were delicate. We hovered just to be sure though.
3) Let them be kids. It’s a museum not a library. We used our inside voices but we also didn’t shush them when they got excited about the art and let them get close to it.
4) Take home a cheap souvenir. We told the girls to pick some favorite pieces and then we went to the museum store and got postcards of the prints and of the museum for them to keep. Postcards are awesome kid souvenirs.

Parent tip: if you have a smart phone, snap pictures of your kids looking at the art and caption what they were doing or ask them what they think the art is.

BlogHer BootCamp : Top Ten Fashion Tips

On the Sundays leading up to BlogHer 2011, I am posting a series of top ten tips that will make your BlogHer experience a little better (I hope!). Last Sunday I tackled packing so it seems appropriate to follow it with one on fashion. Especially since judging from the tweets, clothing seems to give people some of the biggest anxiety. This list will help you tackle your fears and prepare you to wow the crowds or at least keep you from dissolving into tears as you pack.

 

Top Ten BlogHer Conference Packing Tips

 

1. Be Comfortable: When planning what to wear, think about what you feel most comfortable in and then pack that. No, I am not advising you to pack the sweats and tee you wear around the house. But when picking out what to wear maybe you pack an elevated version. During the day a nice pair of jeans and a fancy tshirt with a nice blazer or sweater work just as well as slacks and a blouse.  Candice over at Fashionably Organized wrote a fantastic post with suggestions on how to step your favorites up a notch.

2.Shop Your Closet: The impulse is to run out and buy new clothes, but shop your closet first. Remember all those clothes you never get a chance to wear. Now’s the time to pull out shirts that are too nice for finger painting and those cool heels and favorite dress moldering in the back of your closet. We all have those items we bought just because, give them a chance to shine.

3. Comfortable Shoes: Just yesterday, I was lusting over some killer flower print stilletos at Marshall’s. They were only $17 and I knew they would look kick ass with about every night time outfit I was planning. But I didn’t get them. Why? Because I knew they would be killing my feet within thirty minutes of wearing them. It bears repeating again and again: your feet are going to hurt from all the walking and dancing. Wear shoes that are comfortable. Tom’s, Easy Spirit, and Keen all get high marks from BlogHer fans for being comfortable but also looking good. And if you didn’t listen to my advice, head over to the expo and stop by the Dr. Scholl’s booth. Their products are awesome for tired, achy feet.

4. Pack Transition Clothing: My friend Claire of Fashion Friday fame advises packing outfits that can transition from day to night with a change of shoes and accessories. One of the most versatile items, in my opinion, is a nice pair of jeans. They work well for day with a blazer or sweater, add heels and flashy accessories for the parties. To keep those transition items fresh hang them in your bathroom during a shower and pack some shout wipes.

5.  Acessorize!: In my normal life, I wear my hair in a ponytail and my only jewelry is a simple wedding band. At BlogHer, I am rocking a peacock feather headband and chained necklaces. Accessories not only dress up your outfit but they give you a chance to get fancy without spending a fortune. And at several of the parties, nothing is outlandish. I wore a BabyPop superhero mask to Sparkecorn last year and fit right in.

6. Prepare for the Paparazzi: So the women of BlogHer aren’t tabloid stars yet, even if we totally should be. But with thousands of bloggers in attendance, there will be more flashes going off than at a movie premiere. Angry Julie suggests double checking to make sure you’re camera ready or at least embaressment proof. Wear a black or nude bra under that black top, consider investing in some Spanx panties, etc.

7. Bring a Cover Up: Thrifty Jinxy advises packing a shawl or other cover up that works with all your outfits. The conference rooms get chilly so plan ahead. I am bringing a lightweight black cardigan that works well with my daytime outfits that I can also throw over my party dresses so I don’t look super boobalicious while walking around the Gaslamp district. Another of my all time favorite cover ups is a dark jean jacket. It looks good with everything (except dark jeans!)

8. Think Portable: You will be on the go all day so pack a few items that will keep you looking and feeling good. CiaoMom recommends throwing some roll up flats like the ones from Kushy Foot in your bag. I plan to carry either the roll up flats I got at last year’s Nikon party or a pair of silver flip flops. I also carry a tiny emergency bag with lipstick, oil blotting sheets, pain medication, Emergen-C, pepto, breath mints, and a tiny tube of mascara.

9. Plan Ahead: Before you buy anything new, pack, or start to panic. Sit down and plan out what you will need. Make a list of needed outfits plus other items like underwear and pjs. This will help you be realistic about what you really need. After I know my needs, I like to make a polyvore board to visualize the outfits I need. Want to see an example? Here’s my TypeA Conference set. Morgan over at The Little Hen House just put up a great day by day set of suggested choices.

10. Be Confident: The biggest piece of advice I can give is be comfortable with who you are. There will be some amazingly dressed people there and there will be some women who wear shorts and tees. Know where you fall on the spectrum and be satisfied with that. Don’t change who you are because you think have to to fit in. And that goes doubly for weight. There’s nothing wrong with trying to lose a little weight before the conference, I did last year so my clothes would be less tight, but don’t drive yourself crazy trying to do it. You look great just the way you are and I can’t wait to meet you not matter what you are wearing!

 

Have a specific fashion question? Want to know what to wear to a party or event? have more advice? Let me know in the comments and I will post about it on Friday along with my Polyvore sets for BlogHer.