Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thrive Blog Conference Recap


This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Thrive Blog Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.  This was the very first year of this conference, but you certainly couldn't tell - Whitney and Bree did an amazing job organizing it!  Everything was perfect from the speakers to the venue, the food to the decor.  This weekend was just what I needed to get re-energized about the blogosphere. 



Here I am {below} telling an epic story, no doubt, with the other Houston Moms Blog contributors who were in attendance. 



Amy - Michelle - Me - Mandy




The first speaker was Ashley Lemieux of The Shine Project. I was not familiar with her blog or company until hearing her speak, but wow was she inspiring!  I immediately went to her table afterwards and purchased a few pieces of jewelry handmade by high school students working to raise money for college. 





Next up was Audra Kurtz to speak to the group about vlogging.  She has only been at it for a few years and has over 59k followers - many of her vlogs have gone viral.


I was so thrilled to hear Caroline Harper Knapp speak about building your brand.  She is the huge blogger behind Caroline in the City and now House of Harper who I've followed for awhile.  She is so beautiful and had great advice on building your brand...even if that means a rebuild.  And small world, I learned she is from the same small town of Corsicana that my husband is from!


Next up was a very delicious lunch {carb heaven} sponsored by Noodles & Company.




The session I was most looking forward to was about creating compelling content by Fancy Ashley.  Not only because I love her blog and how she has formed her brand, but I think our blog content is the #1 key to anything else: sponsors, increasing readers, etc.

She did not disappoint.  She was funny, sweet and had great advice. 



Next up was a panel about monetizing moderated by Megan Owen with Megan Silianoff and Sarah Skaggs.  I follow each of their blogs and loved what they had to say.

My biggest takeaway from this panel was that I {as a smaller blog} need to quit worrying about how to make money on my blog {at this time} and just focus on creating great content and growing my readership.  Great advice Megan...thank you!






I attended an awesome breakout session by Rachel Matthews about DIY and Food Photography.  Although I typically don't photograph either one of those, the tips can be applied to anything - candid shots and beauty products {more up my alley}!  

The last session by Kristyn Merkley was amazing too.  I took away some great tips on keeping myself organized.  

And finally, one of the highlights for me was meeting Fancy Ashley.  I loved hearing her speak and I loved being able to chat with her afterwards.  She is just as nice as you would imagine and even more beautiful in person.  


One of my biggest takeaways from the conference is that if I want to be serious about blogging I really need to up my photography game.  I think it was Fancy Ashley who said that your beautiful images will get people to your blog; your words will keep them there.

I've been too intimated to start the process of buying a "fancy camera" and learning how to use it, but I think it's time.  Well, as soon as I have the money!  I'm not trying to become a professional photographer of anything - just have better images to tell my stories.  I was thrilled to meet Jenny Collier who gave me and Mandy some great tips on how the heck to get started. 

All of these beautiful images are by Meg Cady Scholz.  She is an incredible photographer, but I was so floored at how quickly she put the images up for us to use for our recaps and the fact that she tried to include every single attendee in her shots.  Thank you Meg!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baby Shower Planning Tips

Happy Monday!  Is there really such a thing?  I'm trying to make my Monday happy for several reasons:

1.)  The Bachelor "Women Tell All" is tonight and is going to be so, so good
2.)  I'm rocking my comfy blardigan in the office today
3.)  After attending the Thrive Blog conference this weekend my wheels are turning and my head is spinning, but in a really good way.  I have lots of ideas to improve this little blog of mine and met some really great people!

Today I'm over at Houston Moms Blog sharing some tips for Throwing a Baby Shower.  Although some of it is focused on showers in Houston, most of the tips can be applied anywhere.  I hope you will stop by and leave a comment...either about baby showers or what you are doing to make your Monday suck a little less. 


Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday :: Beauty Haul

What a long week this has been!  My weeks are crazy enough just going to work everyday, but this week in particular has been hard because we've been juggling Jason's school and tutoring schedule in the evenings with some things I've had in the evenings too.  Wednesday night we were double-booked and had to get childcare which I hate doing on weeknights since Jack is already away from us during the day and last night I didn't get home until after 11:30...whoa!  That's life though and we all are surviving.

Despite being tired and feeling guilty for my lack of time at home, I'm still super excited to attend the Thrive Blog Conference tomorrow.  I originally planned to attend the Friday evening portion and even had a hotel room at the conference hotel, but I decided to do a little compromise and spend Friday evening at home wit my family.  I will be cursing this decision come Saturday morning when I'm leaving my house super early.  

Today I wanted to share a few beauty products that I've recently added to my collection!  What's more fun than beauty products on a Friday???

  

ONE

The item that I actually on my Sephora shopping list was the Nars Audacious Lipstick in Michiyo.  Although pricey, I've hearrd nothing but good things about this line of lipstick.  I saw someone with similar coloring to me wearing this shade on Instagram  so I wanted to give it a shot - plus I thought it might work for my upcoming HMB photoshoot. 

This lipstick is beautiful.  It's very creamy, feels great and the color payoff is amazing.  It doesn't dry out even after hours of wear!  I will say that once you put it on, it's on for awhile so I hope you like it.  I sampled it last night around 8pm and it was still somewhat on the next morning - and that was after washing my face and scrubbing.  I finally got the rest off using eye makeup remover. 

TWO

The next two items were not on my radar until I read about them on Shay's blog earlier this week

I picked up the Dr. Dennis Gross Glow Pads at Sephora (the regular version, not extra strength).  I have only used them once so far, but I'm really happy with this purchase.  I put this on at night before going to bed {just a tip...if you have white pillowcases, lay a towel down before going to sleep}.  So happy I remembered to do that!

Anyway, the next day you could definitely see a difference!  I felt a little orange with a few streaks on my neck, however I used a little face scrub in the shower and the streaks were gone.  Once I had my makeup on, I was very pleased with the results.  I will probably only apply this once a week so I don't become an oompa loompa.  

THREE

I also wanted to try the DryBar's Triple Sec since I read it triples as a volumizer, texturizer and dry shampoo.  Yes, yes, and yes!  The smell is amazing and it delivers as promised.  Love this stuff and am a convert!

FOUR

While I was in the DryBar section of Sephora, I noticed that had a huge shower cap so I picked this up too on a whim.  I was in major need of a new shower cap as mine is a few years old and starting to get funky despite washing it often.  I guess it had seen too many dirty hair days.  I haven't used this item yet, but it looks awesome after pulling it out of the box.  This does have mixed reviews online so I will report back after I've used it for a few weeks.

FIVE

Last, I picked up the Laura Mercier eyelash curler the last time I was at Nordstrom because of a great recommendation from Ashley.  I actually haven't even tried this one yet, but I will let you know what I think, most likely via Instagram.

I hope you have a great weekend!  I'm sure I will be posting pictures like crazy tomorrow at the conference on Instagram {@ChelseaPurifoy}

xoxo


--
Linking up:


Momfessionals

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weight Watchers Wednesday :: Raw Cacao Brownie


Happy Wednesday!  I wanted to share a yummy recipe for all of you fellow chocoholics.  It's not low calorie, but is "clean" and in moderation is a great chocolate treat after a strict diet day.  This was actually one of the desserts during my three day juice cleanse.

This recipe makes 2-4 servings.  Don't eat the whole thing and think you are doing good - ha!  But, it's actually very rich so one serving is all you want.  Last time I made this I got three servings out of it. 

Raw Cacao Brownie
Recipe via Define Foods


Ingredients:
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup dates, pitted
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tsp pure maple syrup
pinch Celtic sea salt

Directions:

1.  Place the nuts in a mini food processor and blend until finely ground.  I don't own a food processor (gasp) but my blender worked great.

2.  Add the cacao powder and sea salt and pulse to combine.  Add the dates one at a time (I added them altogether), followed by the maple.  Process until the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers and the dates are well processed.  The mix should appear to be "cake-like" crumbs.

3.  Press the mixture into a small bowl or pan and press down firmly with your hands.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.  

Okay, so not the prettiest, but it's good!
 Hope you are having a great week!  Be sure and leave and comment or linkup and let me know some of your successes!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Weekend Recap :: Our Nanny's Wedding

Back in January we loaded up for Galveston, TX for Jack's nanny's wedding!  Galveston is only about 1.5 hours away, but we decided to make a weekend of it just for fun.  It helps that Jason's company has a hotel there!

We left with plenty of time to arrive early since Jack has the important job of being the ringbearer...and we had the rings!  I was terrified we would be late.  But of course all went smoothly.  Jack napped in the car and we had about an hour to kill.  There was a McDonalds right down the street from the chapel and on the beach so we pulled in the parking lot, grabbed some fries and a coffee for me and let Jack feed the seagulls.  He loved it...and it gave me a chance to take a selfie.  I've come to realize that selfies are the only way to get a pic of myself these days!


When we got to the chapel we were able to get Jack dressed in the bride's room before the bride arrived.  It was hilarious because as soon as his suit was on, he wouldn't stop admiring himself in the mirror.  Precious!  He practiced holding his ring pillow and was ecstatic when "Nana" arrived.  So much so that he didn't want to leave the bride's room to let her get ready. 




We mixed and mingled before the ceremony.  Everyone wanted to meet "Captain Cutie" as his nanny calls Jack.




Finally, it was the big moment.  Jack walked down the aisle like a champ (with a little assist from me) and then threw the pillow at the groom when he got to the end of the aisle.  Maybe someone was a little jealous of the groom.  Unfortunately, we had to walk out of the ceremony because as soon as Nana walked in Jack just wanted her to hold him.  His nanny is so sweet I think she even considered it for a minute and then realized she needed to be focusing on her groom! 

Luckily we brought Mickey with us so Jack was happy and we were able to watch the vows from the back of the chapel. 


The rest of the afternoon was wonderful.  I can't believe what an angel Jack was {the iPad certainly helped}.  He lasted through pictures, a venue change, sitting at the restaurant for an extended period and an entire meal.  By 5:00 he was pretty much done, but wow, were we proud of him. 



We headed to the hotel that was just a block from the reception and immediately got in our comfies.  We stayed at the Tremont House and it was AMAZING.  It is located on the Strand and I would definitely want to stay again. 

The original plan was to rest and then go to dinner, but I was so comfortable in our room (and in my jammies) that I was thrilled when Jason said he was fine with just ordering in.  And that we did!  We ordered wine, dinner AND dessert.  Jack was in heaven playing in the room and bouncing on the beds.  What is it about hotel beds that is so fun to bounce on?



After putting Jack to sleep we rented Night Crawler with Jake Gyllenhal and then went to sleep ourselves! 

Jack woke up EARLY on Sunday, probably just scared of waking up in a new place.  He wouldn't go back to sleep, but we still lounged around for a while sipping coffee and ordering breakfast.  We were in no hurry to race off.  After breakfast Jack and I walked around the hotel with Yuly before she left on her honeymoon - they were going on a cruise out of Galveston later that day and her hubby had to drive back to Houston quickly to get their passports they forgot!  We were happy to keep her company, but Jack was so sad to say goodbye.  And no, we did not plan to dress the same!


That evening once we were back in Houston we attended Jack's preschool's open house.  He won't start until August, but we wanted him to start becoming familiar with the space.  It was wonderful to meet his teacher and talk to other parents.

Weekend Recap :: Getaway to Frederiscksburg, TX

Jason and I decided this past Christmas that instead of gifts for each other we would do a long weekend getaway to Fredericksburg - our first trip away without Jack.  We really wanted to do Vegas again, but decided that Fredericksburg was a good way to ease into things.  I felt better knowing I could hop in the car and head home at any moment just in case.

We left the Thursday morning before Valentine's Day for the Hill Country.  Fredericksburg is between San Antonio and Austin and is the cutest little town in Texas known for their wineries, Main Street shopping, Bed & Breakfasts and lavender.  We've been there together several times and I've visited a few other times once on a girls trip and another time for work.

We rolled into town on Thursday around 2:30 and immediately checked into our really cute cabin {Town Creek Log Cabin}.  Jason researched a ton of houses managed by All Seasons Bed and Breakfast and this was his favorite because of it's privacy and rustic feel.  It was really nice, spacious, had a gorgeous porch and view and was just a short walk from Main Street.  And they had a huge apple pastry waiting for us when we arrived!  They sure do know the way to my heart. 





We went into town to get a quick snack (by snack I mean a huge tray of chips and dips) and walk through some shops before dinner.  I love Circle E Candles that are made in Fredericksburg and we also found a few things for Jack at a cute toyshop.




We headed back to the house to get ready for dinner and have a glass of wine on the porch.  For dinner we headed to our favorite restaurant, Cabernet Grill.  It really is the best.  We both had steak and salad.  We also splurged on the most amazing three cheese grits I've ever had!  We also got dessert to go - yum!

I'm so mad that we did not get a picture together that night since we were all dressed up.  We were in our own little world that night, being childless, and just focused on each other.  There are worse things that can happen :)

We slept in as late as we could (8:30) on Friday, and lazed around the house enjoying our coffee and breakfast before getting ready and heading to Hondo's for an early lunch.   I wanted a hearty lunch since we planned on hitting the wineries so we both splurged on burgers and fries - the best I've had in years.




Then it was off to the wineries!  We hit Four Point Cellars first - a new one we hadn't been to before.  Loved the space and we got lucky in that it was not very busy.  I found a rose I loved and another white wine I liked.  We just did a tasting and then headed to the next stop...


Grape Creek - Jason's favorite.  This one was a lot busier, but we still got excellent attention and enjoyed the tasting.  Jason found several wines he loved and onto the next stop...

Torre di Pietra - we actually didn't do any tastings at this one, although we have in the past.  I'm just in love with a lemon artichoke spread that I buy every time we are in Fredericksburg.  Since it is right next door to Grape Creek, we ran in and sure enough they had it!  Needless to say, I stocked up.


Our last winery of the day was Becker Vineyards.  I love this one because aside from wine, they have amazing lavender products and a great patio.  Their bar was crazy so we did not do a tasting at this one.  We just purchased some lavender stuff and had a glass of wine and cheese on the patio.

After a little break we headed to Luckenbach to enjoy some more outdoor time.  It was packed that day because Dale Watson was playing that evening.  It was fun people watching though!  And rooster watching too.


Since we had already had a full day we headed back to the house to rest before dinner.  We had dinner reservations at 7pm at a place we've been dying to try (August E's), but totally woke up from our naps later than we planned.  We could have made it happen, but neither one of us felt like getting all dressed up again as we did the night before.  We cancelled the reservation, went one block up for some pizza and great people watching and then ended the night at the cabin watching Dateline and an early bedtime.  That is just so us and I love it!


The next morning I slept in until 9 - heaven!  We slowly got ready and checked out before heading to breakfast at Sunset Grill.  This one we learned about through good reviews on Yelp and once we arrived it was clearly the place to be.  Although the service was a little slow since they were so busy it was worth it because the food and coffee were both amazing.

Before heading out of town we ran into a few more shops that we didn't want to miss.  Since it was Valentine's Day we decided to get each other little gifts at the shops - a new pocket knife for Jason and some new Kendra for me!

Then we hit the road for home!  Anxious to get back to Jack, but sad to get back to work and the real world.  We had an amazing getaway trip and it was so needed to spend some alone time with my husband.  Plus we can home with lots of great loot...Merry Christmas to us!


And just for fun, if you are planning a trip to Fredericksburg, you can read more about my past trips there:

Couples Trip 2011
Girls Trip 2011
 

Site Design by Fabulous K