Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning and Growing: Blogger Conference Essentials

If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you may notice it has changed through its 5 years.  I started this blog without a clue of what a blog really was or how to maintain it.  I have been lucky to meet some awesome people along the way which have given me guidance and advice.  I have also attended a few blogger conferences where a wealth of knowledge and information has been shared by top bloggers.  The world of blogging is always evolving and changing, blogging is so much more than just an expression of what you love. Blogging is an extension of yourself and a snap shot of who you are.  This week I am heading to another conference by Latina Bloggers Connect, We All Grow Summit as a volunteer. I am better at helping others and being a cheerleader of sorts than putting myself out there. My many years in education have taught me I am good at encouraging and helping others. 

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Since day one of blogging I haven’t always been comfortable making it all about me and sort of showing off what I can do.  It’s really not my style to “brag” or be the center of attention, which seems to be what blogging has become.  This week I am going to learn how to be the blogger who helps, empowers and encourages.  The previous “look at me” path of blogging hasn't worked as well, maybe because it wasn't my genuine self. A common theme at blogger conferences is how you can help solve a problem for you readers.  Why do readers come to your blog and how are they benefiting from it.   These are all questions I have yet to truly answer or solve about my blog.  I am working on better expressing of myself and what I have to offer, and help you the readers.    With that being said, look out for my post coming soon about We All Grow Summit and make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram for pics and tweets from the conference.

Here is my essentials list to survive any conference.

1.       Smartphone:  If you have an iPhone or other android smartphone, its really all you need. You have a camera, a phone and internet all in one device. I don’t’ think you need to lug around your laptop/iPad or big DSLR at a conference.  They are too heavy to carry around all day from session to session and honestly you won’t have time to “blog” while at the conference.  I find it best to take it all in and just enjoy and learn from the conference.  You will have plenty time to work on your blog or anything else when you get home or back to the hotel room.

2.       Portable charger:  Seems like everywhere you  go nowadays there are outlets or areas to charger you phone.  Surely a blogging conference will have them too!  Not necessarily, just in case I suggest taking your own charger.  If there is a charging station available, everyone will be using it and you may not be able to get your phone plugged in.  Having a portable charger is not only a safer bet to always been charged up but also makes you will be mobile and not stuck at the charging station.

3.       Notepad/Pen:  I always like to carry a small note pad and pen with me at all times.  Sometimes it just easier to write it down, so you won’t forget someone’s name or great info you just heard.  You may meet someone really import and need to take their info or give them your info.  Yeah I know that’s what business cards are for, but what if you or they ran out!  Good old pen and paper are great options.

4.       Hand Sanitizer/Wipes:  This is another thing I always carry with me, you can never been too clean…right? You will probably be shaking lots of hands, meeting new people.  Also you may not always be able to wash your hands or may need to wipe down a table or area you are using.  Call me paranoid but I rather be prepared than not.  Germs are every where! LOL

5.       Scarf/Pashmina or Cardigan:    You never know when the weather can change and you will need it.  When you are at a conference you may be going from cold to warm rooms.  Carrying a scarf, shawl or cardigan will help.  These items are usually small enough you can shove in your purse or tote when not in use.  I tend to get cold in A/C so having one of these items always helps and you won’t have to leave the room if you get too chilly.

6.       Comfy Shoes:  I know these sounds like a no brainer, but seriously wear comfy shoes!  I see lots of women at conference wearing really high heels and by mid-day they are dying in pain.  Girl I know you want to look hot in those stilettos, but not a good idea for a conference.  Save the heels for the after party or cocktail hour, most conference have some sort of event.

7.       Business Cards:  This is also a no brainer thing to always carry with you at a conference.  You are there to network and meet new people to potentially collaborate and work with, give them your biz card.  Here’s my pro tip, if you run out or didn't have time to get biz cards done…take a picture of your business card on your cell phone.  You can email, text or tweet your biz card to any you meet who really wants it!

8.       Snacks/Water:  Another thing I like to bring with me to a conference is a snack and water.  Usually food and water is provided at conferences, but you may need a snack in between the day.  I find that all the running around at conferences makes me hungry; you may not be able to wait until the scheduled lunch or dinner.  Also water is key to have, it may or may not be provided or you may not always have access to water.  Best to have a bottle with you at all times just in case. You may also want to throw in some mints or gum in your bag, helps avoid having dry mouth and bad breath.  You will talking to many people and want to make sure you have fresh breath!

9.       Any Medications Needed:  If you take any medications make sure to put them in your bag. Even if its your daily vitamins, I always like to carry aspirin/ibuprofen as well in case of a headache or any other aliment.  You don’t want to get sick in the middle of conference and be caught with no relief!

10.   A Smile:  This may sound a little cheesy, but a smile can go a long way. I've met some really cool people at conferences and struck conversation with them all because of a smile.  I find it odd when people who don’t smile; it’s a sign of happiness or enjoyment. You should be happy and having fun at conferences, a smile will attract more people to you.  Ultimately you are there to learn, grow and build your blog; a smile can help you meet the right people to achieve your goals. ​

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Put it all in a stylish tote, messenger or backpack and you are ready for the conference. You can obviously add more to this list, but these are my must have essentials for any one at any kind of conference. Sometimes I really feel less is more, the less you carry the more you will enjoy the conference.  Make sure you are following me on twitter and instagram to see all the happenings from We All Grow!  

What are you essentials to always carry when attending a conference?  Leave me a comment with your must have essentials below.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Plus Size Universe: Gingham Shirtdress

Being plus size isn't an excuse not to wear a certain style or trend you like.  I have learned there is always an alternative you can find in any size and budget. Years ago I use to post on the blog a feature called Plus Size Universe, where I basically find styles in my size (plus size) as an alternative to straight size fashion. I think its time to bring Plus Size Universe back, not only will it feature styles in plus sizes, but at budget friendly prices.  There is so many choices now in plus size fashion, you don't have sacrifice style because of your size or budget.  You can look fabulous no matter what size you wear or how much money you have. 

I was flipping through my fave magazines current issue, and saw this gingham shirt-dress.  Lucky magazine is calling gingham the print of the season, with spring just around the corner I am ready to show off my legs and toes.  I immediately loved this look, shirt dresses are a favorite of mine, they can be very flattery and versatile.  I love the classy look of the dress, but with the black and white print its an instant update in style. Adding a few pops of color with this years color of the year (Marsala) platform sandals and orange bag makes it more modern.  

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+Size Universe: Dress - eShakti, Shoes - Forever21, Bag - LastCall 

Here is my plus size version of the outfit seen in Lucky Magazine.  As you can see from the total the Lucky version is a whopping $3165 for the entire look. Who has that kinda money to spend on one outfit.  I certainly don't want to spend my whole paycheck on this outfit.  Well no need to worry I found an alternative outfit for any size and budget.  A online retailer called eShakit has this gingham shirtdress for only $60!  One thing I love about eShakti is you can customize your dress, making it shorter or longer and also with the length of the sleeves.  They also carry sizes from XS to 6X so they have something for every shape. I also found an additional gingham dress for those who want a fashion bargain for only $30 here. Platform sandals are from Forever21 and will be cute with jeans as well as this outfit.  Satchel adds a freshness with a bright orange and can also be paired with jeans and other outfits. As you can see the total for my version is only $160. Not only can every one find this outfit in their size, but it also fits everyone's budget!  

Hope you enjoy my Plus Size Universe feature.  Want me to find a plus size version of an outfit for you? Email me and I can help you find your plus size universe.   Leave me your comments with your thoughts on this outfit.  Also follow me on Instagram for more of my style finds. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CSF Travels: Why I Left My Heart In Boston

Traveling is one of life's greatest pleasures, and we should all be doing way more of it. Don't you agree? I've always had dreams of traveling and exploring the world, getting lost in a country and learning from the locals.  I've done a bit of traveling in my time, but have much more to do.  In the past few years I've visited and fell in love with some of the greatest cities in the US. I've gone to the east coast, mid-west and of course explored more of my beloved west coast.  Every new city is an adventure and I appreciate the beauty of nature more and more with every single trip.  My latest trip was just a few months ago to Boston. My girlfriends and I have decided to do a "girls getaway" every 2 years.  The first was in 2012 to New York City, which for some reason I did not blog about.  NYC has always been on the must-see list of cities.  I really liked NYC and enjoyed all the energy the city has, the lights, the people and the buildings are all inspiring. It was all spectacular and more than I ever dreamed it would be. 

Boston is also on the must-see list, and it was the destination for our girls getaway in 2014. Boston thus far has been my favorite of all the cities. Boston took my heart away, it was more beautiful than I expected and I fell in love!  I had a wonderful time in Boston and can't wait to return, it's such a magical town with a great vibe, there is so much history, culture and amazing food!  I won't make this a long boring love letter to Boston, but I'll share with you my fave things in pictures.  I only spent 3 days in Boston, but that was enough for me to fall in love and become my favorite east coast city so far.  

Here are my favorites places and things about Boston:

Architecture/Buildings:  Boston is the where are founding fathers created the United States of America we now know and love.  The whole city is a history lesson with so many iconic and historical buildings. The city is full of old brick buildings, which feel like you are walking back in time.  It was all so beautiful and a great contrast with all the other modern buildings in the city. Boston is a great balance of the old and new world, the preservation of the old history along side a new modern city. Walking down the cobble stone narrow streets of Boston felt like I was in a movie.  The city has breathtaking views which can best be enjoyed strolling the streets of Boston. 

boston, mass, new england, old state house, faneuill hall, quincy market, trinity church,

FOOD!:  I don't blog about my love of food as much as I would like, but you will probably see more food related post coming soon.  The food in Boston was amazingly delicious, I ate the best seafood of my life. Boston is well known for its calm chowder and lobster.  Let me tell you the city did not disappoint me with its seafood offerings.  Every place we ate was fresh, very affordable and accessible.  It was easy to enjoy a cup of chowder or fresh lobster roll any where in town, as most local places served them.  Quincy Market is a must, for every foodie. It's a food hall with every type of food you can imagine and it's all delicious. Even the pubs like the famous Cheers, have great food and of course awesome pints of beer.  When in Boston you also have to make time to visit Mike's Pastry, home of the best cannoli, biscotti and cookies in town. It won't cost you a fortune to enjoy a good meal in Boston. 

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Getting Around:  This may sound like a weird thing to like about a city, but coming from one of the worlds largest cities with the worst traffic like LA, getting around town is important to me.  Boston has a really great transit system better known as the T, which is basically the subway/train system.  We mostly got around town via a trolley, which the city is full of Trolley companies catering to the tourist. You can hop on and off at various stops or land marks around town.  Its a great way to see the city and navigate with a guide giving you info of the city a long the way. You can easily take a bus, a cab, a trolley or a even party bus and horse drawn carriage any where in the city, best way around is to walk to soak it all in.  Boston is really a walkable city, especially if you follow the Freedom Trail.  Boston is much smaller than most major metropolitan cities like LA and NYC, with in a few city blocks you can see and do so much.  We even took a train to Salem and visited with our favorite historical witches.  It was so easy and affordable getting around Boston, we went every where we wanted and needed to with in minutes, even the ride to the airport was quick and painless. 

duck tour, trolley, the T, train, party bus, freedom trail, transportatin

These are just 3 of major things I loved about Boston, the list can go on for much longer.  I'll let you discover Boston on your own, which I highly recommend you do visit if you haven't already.  There is so much more of Boston I want to explore and will go back soon with my love, so he too can fall in love with the Boston. 

What's your favorite city you have visited? Please share in the comments so I can add it to my wanderlust list of places to travel.

Hope you enjoy my CSF travel post and will be doing more this year.  You can also follow me on Instagram and use the hashtag #csftrvls to see more of my Boston pics and other trips I have taken. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Get Your Gal Pals Together for #GalentinesDay

Happy Galentines Day!  What a great way to celebrate and show your love and appreciate for your gal pals, your chicas, your home girls and girl friends or friends in general.  If you never heard of "Galentines Day" then you don't know what you are missing out on. In season two of the sitcom Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope played by Amy Poehler celebrates "Galentines Day" on February 13 the day before Valentines Day. Its basically a day you spend with your girl friends, and leave your husbands, boy friends or partners behind to celebrate your lady friends.  Sounds cool doesn't it!   

I use to do this with my lady friends back in college, we didn't call it "Galentines" but it was pretty much the same concept. Most of us were single and didn't have dates for Valentines, so one day we said "screw it" why do we have to feel bad or lonely on this one day.  Why can't we show our love for our friends, so we did!  My friends and I would get dolled up and go out for dinner and drinks and would buy little gifts and cards for each other.   Even when one of us got a boyfriend (which was not me) we still celebrated together, the boyfriend was included since he had become a friend before he was a boyfriend.   We found a way to not hate Valentines Day and feel sorry for our selves.  Why should we feel sad, when we have the love of our friends and we were all happy for each other no matter our relationship status.  

Galetine's is about loving, empowering and uplifting each other. As woman we need to do more self-love and love our fellow females. This year I am doing a virtual "Galentines Day" celebration with my blogger friends from the #UntamedStyle group.  I found my tribe of fabulous, fashion loving, feminist babes.  These are my Galentines this year, and I celebrate them with love, respect and admiration for the beautiful, smart and strong women they all are! 

Michelle from Glitter in the Dirt

Aarti from Curves Becomes Her

Margot from Margot Meanie

Vanessa from Sweet Leigh

Zadry from Curves a la Mode

Here are my top ways to celebrate "Galetines Day" with your bestest gals.

1) Mani/Pedi Time: Go get manis and pedis with your girl friends and pick out nail polish for each other.

2) Wine Tasting: Go wine tasting, cuz who doesn't love wine. You can make it even more fun by playing a game.  Every time any one of the girls mentions their husband/boyfriends make the chug a glass of wine. Who knows this may work or not, but won't it be fun to try?

3) Bowling Party: Another fun activity is to go bowling, give each other funny names and create teams, see what team wins. The winning team will have to buy the other team dinner or drinks.  

4) Brunch:  My friends and I would often make brunch for each other, which always included omelettes and blueberry pancakes. Yum, what better way to show you Luv your gals than make them brunch! 

5) Shopping!:  My personal favorite thing to do with my girls. Go shopping for outfits to wear on your "Galentines Date".   Try clothes on and help each other pick outfits, but be honest if your friends outfit looks crappy, tell her.  Don't you want your friends to look hot!

Do  you celebrate "Galentine's Day"?  Leave me a comment and tell me what awesome things you do with your gals! 

Make sure you go check out my gal pals "Galentine's" post as well.  It's all about ladies celebrating ladies, today I celebrate the #UntamedStyle ladies!  

Friday, February 6, 2015

What Your Man Really Wants for Valentines Day

Valentine's is soon approaching and you either it hate or love it. It seems like V Day is all about the woman and everything focuses around her.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the extra love and attention I get on this day, although we should be getting it everyday!   What about our men, they seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Valentines.   The dudes are always being pressured and stress out about getting us the perfect gift.  I find it some what selfish that not more attention is given to the men, don't they deserve some loving too!  So I did my own V Day poll on Facebook and asked the dudes what they think.

Questions asked to the dudes: 
Do you like it when your wife/girlfriend/partner gives you a Valentines Day gift? 

If yes, what would you like to receive as a gift?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Best Dollar Store Beauty Products To Buy

The New Year is a great time to renew our bodies, health and even beauty routines, but sometimes those things take some money.  I don’t know about you all but after the holidays my wallet is feeling a little lighter and thinner.   So many new things I want to try that claim to work wonders for my skin, hair and body, but those will have to wait.  As soon the tax refund check comes in you know I will be splurging on some fancy lotions and potions to beautify myself.  Until then, I still need to keep up with general hygiene and maintenance of my appearance.  You know as woman we need lots of things to keep us looking good.  I can’t go without certain items, but my pocket says otherwise.  What’s a girl to do!  

The 99 cent – Dollar Store to the rescue.  I have to admit for a while the snob in me didn't want to even consider buying any beauty related products at the dollar store.  Then my rational and budget savvy side took over.   The other day I made a stop at the local 99 cent only store to pick some other items and decided to glance at the beauty isle.   I was amazed and delighted with the offerings for a mere $1.00!  The usual suspect filled the shelves, those cheap imitation items that look similar to name brands, but right alongside those items were in fact the real name brand items we love.  Some items were disguised as the cheap stuff from china, but after carefully reading the label, I discovered the gold.  

Here are the best beauty products to buy at the 99 cent store. These items may not be available at all 99 cent stores, but these are the things I bought at my local store in Southern California.

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1) Suave Waterless Foam Shampoo (aka dry shampoo): Suave is not considered a luxe brand, but I have been using for years and love it.  It's already a budget item ranging from $2-$4 so why you find it for $1 makes that much better. From the reviews I've read it's suppose to be great for curls, double win for me! 

2) Just Clean Skin Make Up Remover Cleansing Clothes (wipes): This brand was not familiar to me, but I found out it's made and manufactured by Nice Pak.  Nice Pak is the original creator of the wet napkin famously found at KFC and other fast food places.  They are made in the USA, the cloths are thick and quite larger with just the right amount of moisture and pleasant scent.  You get 30 wipes for $1.00 which is amazing since I was used to buying other brands at $4 - $5 and only get 20 to 25 per pack.  These make up remover clothes are a great buy I am defiantly stocking up! 

3) Via Natural Moisturizing Oils for Hair, Scalp and Body: This is another brand I was not familiar with but after doing some research online, seems to be quite popular with natural hair bloggers. Via Natural oils are great for your hair and for only $1.00 I couldn't resist trying them out.  The cold winter months the have left me with an itchy and flaky scalp, yeah it's something I am proud to admit but it happens. I read online that Tea Tree oil is a great way to combat and cure itchy scalp. I bought it and been using for a week now, adding it to my shampoo and directly to my scalp.  They had other varieties of oils as well like olive oil and argon.  Going back to buy more and using for my hair and body.  

4) Crest and Colgate Toothpaste: Toothpaste is something we all need and buy, and have our faves. The Crest vs. Colgate debate reminds of Pepsi vs. Coke, most people love one brand over the other and are loyal to that brand.  So whether you love Crest or Colgate you can get various varieties of each for just $1.00 and not the little travel sizes, but full tubes.  Why spend more money on toothpaste when you get it all at the dollar store!!

5) Pure Silk Shave Cream: When I first started shaving my legs I only used soap.  As I got older and discovered shave cream for women, there was no turning back.  The 99 cent sort has Pure Silk shave cream in several scents and for differs skin types.  Average cost of Pure Silk at the drug store is about $3, I would also stock on this because the summer months call for beautiful smooth legs.

6) Secret Deodorant:  Secret is one of my fave deodorants, I have tried many other brands and always seem to go back to the classic.  Secret just seems to work best for me, the 99 cent store had the 1.7 oz in two scents baby power and shower fresh. 

Let's recap if you bought all these items at other stores you would probably be spending any where from $15 - $18 vs $6 (plus tax) the 99 cent store.   Now go quickly to your nearest 99 cent sore and stock up cuz you know these items are limited and will sell out.  Happy Bargain Shopping! 
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