Over The Top Mommy

Lifestyle

Celebrate Mother’s Day in Style at Simon Mall’s Indulge in Orange County

Simon Malls is inviting moms to sit back, relax and enjoy an evening that focuses on style and more at The Shops at Mission Viejo, all in celebration of Mother’s Day. Indulge, a stylish treat for mothers, is presented by Diet Coke and will take place on Thursday, May 8 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Center Court. 

This event will provide moms with a much-needed opportunity to treat themselves to a night out and celebrate motherhood through a fun, fashionable shopping experience. Event attendees of Indulge can do MUCH more than just shop for spring style must-haves. Moms and their friends can experience fashion tips and style consultations from retailers like Old Navy and Fossil. There will also be beauty services available, including a complimentary mini facial from Origins, delicious refreshments and drinks, plus special event giveaways from Harlequin® books and retailer offers throughout the mall. 
Additional Indulge offerings include: 
     *Mini-Style Makeover Giveaway: During the first 30 minutes of the event, three lucky attendees will be selected to experience a free mini-fashion makeover. Tiffany Borland of fashion blog Tuolomee and Style Setter for the center will surprise women at random with the chance to shop for a new look, receive expert style advice and reveal their new ensemble at the end of the event. 
     *Mixology Stations: Mixologists will shake up appealing drink combinations for moms to sample and explain how to replicate recipes at home. Bacardi will be sampling their Grey Goose Le Melon Vodka brand. 
     *Food Sampling: Moms can try samples from some of the area’s best restaurants and hear about the latest food trends. Muscle Beach will be treating all moms to a free 16 ounce lemonade, while Ruby’s Diner will serve French fries and Cajun French fry samples. Williams-Sonoma will also host a risotto demonstration at their cooktop. 
     *Stylish sounds: Enjoy sounds by local musical performers, including a steel drum band from Brad Winchell of Sounds of Paradise. The mall’s atmosphere will be transformed into a chic, lively entertainment event venue. 
     *Diet Coke Sampling: Enjoy a refreshing ice cold Diet Coke. 
     *Chic-est Mom Photo Op: Moms can walk the red carpet and strike a pose as they remember the night with a fun photo op and share their experience via social media (#indulgeatsimon). 
     *Pampering Stations: Moms can indulge in pampering stations including mini eye facials and hand massages from Origins and a braid station from Toni & Guy, with a complimentary eyelash application in-store. 
     *Swag Bags: Swag bags containing retailer offers and discounts will be given to the first 600 shoppers on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Simon Malls’ Indulge events are free & open to women of all ages. 
For more information, visit Simon.com
Visit The Shops at Mission Viejo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShopsAtMissionViejo, Twitter at https://twitter.com/ShopsMV or Instagram at http://instagram.com/ShopsMV/.

The Time Farrell’s SAVED My Daughter’s Birthday Party AND My Sanity

Here’s the back story: 
In case you didn’t know or hadn’t guessed, I’m the kind of mom who LOVES to throw a house party every year for my daughter’s birthday! I love to plan all of the details, far in advance, utilize Pinterest a ton throughout the entire planning period, seek out unique things to incorporate into the party and find vendors who are amazing but haven’t been very well known (yet). From the invitations to the coordinating printables to the custom cookies and the favors, I love all of it! 
I don’t know what happened this year? I started out with a fun theme in mind for Emily’s 9th birthday, even had a few amazing ideas in my “party notebook”  during the first few months of planning. What happened after that was just a series of hurdles followed by some awful events. The week prior to Emi’s birthday was the MOST challenging for me! Some of the obstacles I attempted to overcome included: a water leak in our ceiling, construction of that area, a majorly unexpected auto repair, a district walk through at my workplace, a heat wave paired with Santa Ana winds, a lady who was coming to do a little spa for the girls backing out, my inability to book someone new to come and do the party and probably the worst thing…..my daughter learning 3 days before her party that the cheer program she’d been in for almost 4 years, with the same coaches, was going to cease to exist as she’d known it! Yep, I had to inform her as I picked her up from school that day and then rush her to try out someplace new with some of her friends, all of which had bloodshot red eyes from crying! I cannot describe how horrible it felt to watch her become uncontrollably emotional and pretty much cry her little eyes out for the two days leading up to her party! 
Needless to say, by Thursday, I knew I had to make a Plan B for WHAT I was going to do to modify this party I was having the next day, with 13 little girls, since I’d had ZERO time to get things ready while dealing with all of the previous. 

Friday, May 2nd

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and sat straight up in bed, suddenly wide awake. It was the day of Emily’s party. A thought came to mind…Farrell’s! We are HUGE Farrell’s lovers and there’s one very close to our home inside The Shops at Mission Viejo. I went online just to look at the kids menu and saw that there was any area to make a reservation online. I assumed it would only take a reservation for small parties but sure enough, when I entered my date, time and number in our party (13 kids and 3 adults) it took my reservation! I think I let out a big sigh of relief at that point. I think I knew right then, at 4 a.m., that everything was going to be OK.

I remember taking a picture of my laptop screen after I made my online reservation at 4 a.m. because I so overjoyed!

We’ve been to Farrell’s a couple of different times over the past few months, including the amazing grand opening at their newest Buena Park location AND Barbie’s birthday celebration at The Shops at Mission Viejo. I don’t think it’s possible to visit a Farrell’s without having an amazing time! Each of their locations exudes a crazy amount of positive energy and the food and nostalgia are something extra special for me that remind me of my own childhood .
I actually called Farrell’s around 10 a.m. that morning, just to double check with the manager on duty that they’d gotten my online reservation and that it was going to work out for a party our size.  I spoke with “Steven”  and he was so helpful on the phone and he confirmed that he did have my reservation. He asked me a few questions about our party and we decided together that our party would best be seated up front, in the area closest to the ice cream bar. It’s the location where you get the most drum action and that’s a biggie, right? Steven then reviewed the staff scheduled to work that evening and let me know that he’d be having “Michael” as our server, reassuring me that we’d be in good hands. This literally brightened up my day and I hung up smiling.
When I picked up Emily from school that day and told her about the slight change in our party plans, she had a huge smile on her face! She thinks she’s this big Farrell’s VIP because she’s hung with the best of the Farrell’s peeps at some of their different locations! In her world, this party would just be one more event that she could add to her Farrell’s repertoire!
Upon our arrival, it was such a pleasure to meet the manager on duty, Steven. He greeted us at the front desk and made Emily feel special, mentioning that he already knew it was her birthday and giving her a special birthday sticker to wear! He had mustache stickers and menus for all of the girls to color and led us to our table, which was already set up. Steven was so considerate that he even sat the 3 adults at our own table, separate from the table of 13 screaming girls! It was like the reverse of having “a kids table”!

Our server, Michael, came right over to the girls’ table and was ready to get the party started! He was so patient with all of them. I don’t know HOW he had the patience to deal with the craziness of 13 screaming 9 year olds but I can confirm that the guy was like an instant hit with the girls! (obviously)

I can’t even say enough good things about our server, Michael!

I need to point out something else that amazed me about our server…his knowledge of the Farrell’s menu. I’m not talking about their regular menu…I mean the fact that when we informed him about one of the girls who is “gluten-free”, he turned to us and said, “you don’t have to worry, I have A LOT of knowledge about this and I will take care of her!” He then went and grabbed one of their gluten-free menus and helped her with her special order. I think that was the point he definitely won the 2 moms over in our party! (Farrell’s also offers a “nut allergy” and “egg allergy” menu for guests)

Farrell’s has a gluten free menu!
They also have “nut allergy” and “egg allergy” items!

Michael kept the Shirley Temples and strawberry lemonades flowing at the girls’ table! I must’ve apologized to him about 100 times for all of the screaming and craziness coming from their table and he just kept telling me NOT to apologize and let me know that he works with kids like this every day and enjoys it! Ha! And here I was thinking I was the crazy one!

As if the girls weren’t already excited just to be hanging out, 
they let out some extra noise when dinner arrived table side. 
The Kids Mac and Cheese seemed to be a big hit at our table!
I ordered the Grown Up Grilled Cheese!

Dinner was a success and we ready to move onto the best part of all! The girls knew what would come next…a special birthday sundae, a special birthday song and a whole lotta drum….. all in honor of Emily’s 9th birthday! 

The singing hadn’t even started and she was already blushing!
This video can give you a good idea of what it’s like to celebrate your birthday at Farrell’s! (I think Emi was trying to hide) 
And then they all dug into their own kid sundaes! Mmm!
The kids sundaes are a good size and so yummy!

By this point I was so relieved and so pleased at how everything had worked out. It wasn’t just a birthday meal out but a total celebration and all because of everything that Farrell’s has to offer in its dining experience. I just have to say “Thank you, Farrell’s!” not only for saving my daughter’s birthday party this year, but for also saving my sanity! We will be back soon! 

The girls had so much fun at Emily’s birthday celebration at Farrell’s!
For more information about Farrell’s and to check out their regular menu, as well as information about parties, click here.

 

 

Who’s Joining the Nerd HQ Army with Me…and Zachary Levi?!!

If you haven’t heard of Nerd HQ, it’s not too late to jump onboard and pretend like you already knew about it! I promise that’s ok! It’s exactly what I did! It involves Zachary Levi…you know, “Chuck”? Or for all of you Disney friends, need I say any more than the words “Flynn Rider“? #swoon

Hold on….here come’s the smolder!

Seriously though….Nerd HQ is a this amazing & FREE event that takes place in San Diego, over the duration of the Comic Con weekend, but is in no way affiliated with Comic Con. It was designed to afford fans the opportunity to interact in a relaxed and fun setting with some of their favorite celebrities, some of which also appear at Comic Con. The 4 day event includes celebrity panels, photo opps and signings, video gaming, technology and some pretty crazy dance parties! (from what I hear) Although the event, itself, is free, Zachary and his company, The Nerd Machine, are actually raising money at the event for Operation Smile, since he’s an ambassador for the organization. (OMG he’s cute, nice, talented AND enjoys helping others?) 
Check out the following clip which features Zachary Levi, himself, as he explains Nerd HQ in guy lingo…short, sweet & to the point! 

Just watch this, Ok? 
Seriously, how down to earth is he? He says it like it is and you can just tell his heart is in this! Why WOULDN’T you want to help him out? 
A few weeks ago, some of my social media girlfriends had the opportunity to meet Zachary, have lunch with him and chat about his Indiegogo campaign and they said he’s exactly how he appears on the video, just a super nice guy who truly wants to produce a great event for the fans. He’s beyond sincere, which is why I joined Nerd HQ and contributed too! Even donating $5 will help! 
I think you need to go do what I did and “Get Your Nerd On!” What are you waiting for? 

My Fabulous Night Out at Elements Massage Costa Mesa

When I received an exclusive invitation to attend the 1-year Anniversary for Elements Massage Costa Mesa, I jumped at the chance to spend a night getting pampered with some of my social media friends. 

Erina Buckley, owner of Elements Massage Costa Mesa, and her wonderful staff!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

Upon arrival, I was checked in and immediately scheduled for a complimentary mini massage, which is one of the services they offer as part of their Wellness Program. You can count me “in” for anything that involves the word massage! Not only was I entered into a drawing for some fabulous prizes, but I was also one of the first 20 guests to check in, and therefore got one of the amazing swag bags filled with goodies inside from Philosophie, AlternaVites, LeBrisa, Violet Love, and COCOMOCORN! 

Raffle prizes were provided by Elements Massage, SkinAgain, Dermasuri, Pursecase, Violet Love, and Clean Cocktails!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

I was excited to meet up with my friend, Alma and also have the opportunity to mingle with some others who I also consider to be fabulous social media superstars. 

+CidStyleFile+FieldTripMom & I representing the SoCal Lady Bloggers!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)
Hanging out with some fun ladies!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

It was fun to see that Michelle from The Suitcase Studio! She just happens to be one of my favorite photographers and was there to capture this fun event with her magical camera! 

Michelle is so tolerant of my “selfie with friends” policy, too! Aren’t we cute?

At the reception, in the lobby of the spa, there were some amazing cocktails being served by Clean Cocktails and a delicious, healthy snack being provided by My Fit Foods. LeBrisa Designs was also there displaying some of their latest pieces, which we had fun trying on. The ambiance was just so relaxing and inviting, which is what I like about this location. 

Samantha from Clean Cocktails serving up some deliciousness!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

Healthy AND delicious!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)
Just some of the beautiful pieces by LeBrisa
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

It was inspiring to listen to Erina Buckley speak about how she came to be the owner of this Elements Massage location, just a little over a year ago, after first being an Elements Massage client, herself. She told the story of how she exited the corporate world to do something she felt far more passionate about and how she wanted to do something that has a positive influence on others in their journey for overall wellness. 

Erina Buckley, the owner of Elements Massage Costa Mesa. Such a fabulous and passionate female entrepreneur!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)

I love the idea behind the concept of this spa. What they refer to as the Elements Way is something they created to help individuals achieve overall health and well-being through relaxation and rejuvenation. They use a holistic approach and strive to deliver a personalized program for each individual, connecting health and massage. It’s a truly unique program that you won’t find at other spas or massage places. 
When it was my turn for a “mini massage” I followed the masseuse back to one of the rooms, where he proceeded to ask me some questions about the areas I thought needed most attention and what type of pressure I preferred. He also asked if I got massages often and when the last time I got a massage was? At that point, I think you could hear crickets in the room, as I truly couldn’t remember! I explained to him that I’m a mom and I don’t have very much time for myself, especially not for things like this. He then gave me some very important advice and explained the importance of taking time out for myself, in order to do something to make ME feel better. He said that my excuse of “being a mom and not having time for myself to do these types of things” was even MORE of a reason why I needed to do so! It felt like I’d melted into the table after my 15 minute mini-massage! I think I’m going to take his advice and get back into Elements Massage Costa Mesa for a full massage right away! That 15 minutes felt like a paradise vacation, so I can only imagine what a full hour will be like! 

A post-mini massage group selfie! We sure do all look relaxed! Thank you Elements Massage Costa Mesa!

In honor of their 1 year anniversary, Elements Costa Mesa is offering a special month-long promotion. You can book two 55-minute massages at $69 for each appointment, regularly $99, between now and May 31, 2014 and receive a complimentary upgrade to an 80-minute massage during your second appointment. This is a total of $100 in savings! Mention the promotion “Anniversary” when booking, to redeem this special offer. Both services must be redeemed by May 31, 2014. 
Elements Massage Costa Mesa is located at 2701 S. Harbor Blvd, Suite E-3 in the Mesa Verde Center. To book your appointment call 714.850.0500.

It’s amazing how easy it is for me to drink water when it looks like this!
(photo by The Suitcase Studio)
So, can YOU remember when the last time was that you did something for yourself? 
If not, then you really should change that!

 

Our Perfect Day at the Irvine Park Railroad’s Eggstravaganza

We had so much fun spending an afternoon at the Irvine Park’s Easter Eggstravaganza, which is located inside of Irvine Regional Park. 

In addition to the beautiful natural scenery, it’s all decorated for Easter too! Everywhere you turn, there are adorable children, dressed up in their best spring outfits. It’s the perfect setting and occasion to photograph some precious moments, that’s for sure!

The Eggstravaganza features so many different activities to choose from that we weren’t sure where to start. 
The activities include: 
     *Easter egg hunts
     *Photos with the Easter Bunny
     *Train rides
     *Hay rides
     *Cookie decorating
     *Face painting
     *A bunny bounce house
     *Various picture stands for photo opportunities
     *Carnival games

So, we basically decided to do them all! 

I loved how organized the Easter egg hunt was. We first obtained a wristband for the age-appropriate time for Emi. They created very fair rules for the children, first sitting them all down together, to explain the rules for the hunt, discussing how many eggs they could “find” and take home in their baskets, as well as other candy they might find on the ground. The kids were so excited to get started and sprinted at the cue to begin. 

Although we remembered to bring our own basket, they do have baskets for sale there, as well. 

Emi was mesmerized by how much candy there was in the egg hunt area, in addition to the eggs! 
After the egg hunt, we strolled over to visit the Easter Bunny. He was extremely interactive with the Emily, first playing peek-a-boo with her, which helped make her unafraid to sit with him. That’s something that might be a relief for parents with hesitant children. 

Pictures like this, melt my heart!

Apparently visiting the Easter Bunny makes you hungry, so we stopped by the snack shack for some freshly popped popcorn, before heading on over to the face painting area!

The artists in the face painting booth that would create each child’s ideal design for them. Emi let her artist know that she preferred more of an arm design, as opposed to having her face painted. 

She loved her “tattoo” so much, that I think she hid from the water in the shower hitting that arm for as long as she could! 

I loved all of the different photo opportunities there were throughout the area. Emi tried to convinced me to get in this one, but I let her do the honors! 

I love this one! My little chick!

I was most startled by this one..it shows how tall Emi is getting! She’s only 8! Wow! 

Next, we hopped aboard the train, which for me, is the best part of the entire thing. There’s just something about trains that reminds me of childhood! Emi chose to sit directly behind the engineer! We took the token “train selfie” as we relaxed on the long ride.

For our finale, we visited the cookie decorating booth, where Emi got her very own sugar cookie to decorate with colored frostings and sprinkles. What more could a kid ask for? 

It was such a fun afternoon. 
Head on over before the fun ends on April 19th! 



Irvine Park Railroad Easter Eggstravaganza 2014 & Giveaway

If you have ever been to Irvine Regional Park, you know how much amazing family fun it has to offer! Among some of the activities you can do are hiking, biking ( they even have bike rentals), rent paddle boats, pony rides, visit the Orange County Zoo, and even have a picnic!  If you’ve never been, you need to take your family there right away! 
One of our favorite things to do in the park is to ride the Irvine Park Railroad. In past years, we’ve gone in December for the Irvine Park Railroad’s Santa Train and festivities! 
This year we’re excited to visit for it’s annual Easter Eggstravaganza, which begins on Saturday, March 29th and runs through Saturday, April 19th! Children and adults can ride the train through beautiful Irvine Regional Park. Children, ages 2 through 12 years old, also have the opportunity to participate in an Easter egg hunt, hunting for eggs that are each filled with either candy or a prize.  
You can purchase tickets for your child(ren) to participate in the Easter egg hunts, which begin at 10:00 AM daily. Tickets will be exchanged for a wristband which will indicate a specific time for the egg hunt they’ll be participating in. Don’t forget to bring an Easter basket for each child who is participating in the Easter egg hunt. Irvine Park Railroad will also offer Easter baskets for purchase. Tickets must be purchased on the day of the event, in order to receive a wristband for the Easter egg hunt. Please visit http://www.irvineparkrailroad.com for complete details on the Easter egg hunts, including times and costs.

During the Easter Eggstravaganza, children can meet the Easter Bunny at a cost of $10.00 per family or group. This cost includes a picture that will be taken by Irvine Park Railroad staff and available for pickup shortly after the picture is taken.

There will be other activities to enjoy during the Easter Eggstravaganza including hay rides, a moon bounce, Easter cookie decorating, carnival games, face painting, picture stands and a lot more. Please visit http://www.irvineparkrailroad.com for full details including costs.

Irvine Park Railroad’s other annual events include the Anniversary Celebration, Pumpkin Patch, and Christmas Train.

Become a fan of Irvine Park Railroad on Facebook, follow us onInstagram (Irvine Park Railroad), view pictures on Flickr, and follow our tweets on twitter (@IrvineParkRR).
While at Irvine Regional Park, be sure and visit the parks other activities including Wheel Fun Rentals® at Irvine Park bike and paddle boat rentals, pony rides and the Orange County Zoo.

The park entrance fee – charged by the County of Orange – is $3.00 per vehicle on weekdays and $5.00 per vehicle on weekends.
Irvine Park Railroad opens daily at 10:00 AM. The cost for train tickets is $5.00 per person; children younger than 12 months ride free. Irvine Park Railroad is located at 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869.

We can’t wait to go to the Easter Eggstravaganza 2014! 
Emi already has her outfit and her Easter basket ready to go! 
Now for the giveaway….you can enter to win 6 tickets (which can be used to ride the train OR participate in Easter Eggstravaganza activities) and 1 Wheel Fun Rentals at Irvine Park surrey rental (excludes double surrey)! Enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter below! 
Good luck to everyone! 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway open to U.S. Residence. No purchase necessary to enter. All fans have an equal chance to win, however, you must enter to win. A winner will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter and notified via email. No cash value. Winner will have 36 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected the same way. Several different ways to earn entries. Not liable for unclaimed prizes or fulfillment. Sponsor has the right to refuse filling prize for duplicate winners from other blogs. Winner’s tickets will be mailed directly to home (or mailing address) and will not be available for will call at this event. 

photos courtesy of Irvine Park Railroad

Christmas Eve Morning at The Disneyland Resort With Our Elf on the Shelf!

What do you do when it’s Christmas Eve day, you don’t have to be at dinner until 6:30 p.m. and you still haven’t had a chance to take your daughter to see Santa yet? You head straight to The Disneyland Resort, that’s what you do! What a beautiful, sunny, Southern California morning it was, too! There aren’t too many places you can be where you actually NEED to wear sunblock on December 24th!

Emily & I decided to visit Disney’s California Adventure first! There was NO LINE to see Santa over at Elias & Company! We walked right in and Santa immediately struck up a conversation with Emily. As you can tell by this photo, she was mesmerized by him.

I’m pretty sure she’s asking him for the Frozen castle here.
I love everything about the setup of this Santa location. It’s just so old fashioned and Christmas-y and if it hadn’t been so blazing hot, I would’ve put Emi in her actual Christmas dress for the photo. Regardless, I think we got some beautiful pictures to add to her memory book.

Santa also had an absolutely beautiful elf named “Tinsel” that was helping him and passing out candy canes to the guests as they exited from sitting for their photo. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of Emi with her also.

Seriously though, how adorable is this elf?

Emi and I also had another mission on our visit….we had to bring her Elves on the Shelf with us! Yep, they had written her a note, asking if she could take them to Disneyland! They told her that Santa had given special permission for Mommy to touch the elves to move them and take them to Disneyland. We just hadn’t had much time during December to visit the parks and since the elves were returning to The North Pole that evening, this was our LAST chance. The tricky part about this was that 1)only Mommy could touch the elves, because children DON’T touch the Elf on the Shelf and 2)We needed to be careful as NOT to spoil any magic for other children at The Resort. I carried the elves in our backpack and we took them out for a few photo opportunities. There was one incident when two small children spotted them and were trying to tell their mom they had seen them, so we just sat back and pretended not to notice the elves and then as soon as the children were long gone, we grabbed the elves, stuffed them BACK into our backpack and ran! It was pretty funny to have elf shenanigans going on!

Our elves INSISTED on wearing these buttons!
There are always a lot of “good parts” about each trip to the parks but on this particular day, Emi was REALLY excited about getting to ride in the front of Monorail Blue….WITH her elves! Since there weren’t any other children up there with us (who might’ve gotten freaked out), we could have the elves out of the backpack!
Patiently awaiting the front spot on Monorail Blue!
This is Disney Magic at work!
CM Manuel even let the elves help navigate, once we started moving and had to sit down!

It was such a great Christmas Eve morning at The Disneyland Resort! We are so blessed to be able to just run over to the parks for a few hours and be able to do something like this! Happy Holidays!

My First Blogger Conference: Blended

It’s almost a month later and I still smile when I think about how much fun I had at the Blended Conference. Blended was a one day event held in Tempe, Arizona at the Double Tree by Hilton. It’s a beautiful property to stay at and when you check-in you’re always greeted with a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie! (They were so generous that we got a cookie when we checkout out, too!) In the case of Blended attendees checking in, each one of us was also given one of these adorable Shamrock Farms coolers, which were filled with goodies for our hotel room. There was a bottle of half & half, some milk, 3 flavored sour creams and chips to dip them in! Shamrock Farms was one of the generous sponsors of the conference!

Blended was my first blogger conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to attending. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was excited to meet both of the SUPER ladies responsible for the great conference, mainly because they’re both named Wendy also! I just KNEW we were meant to meet! I was also excited to hear all of the guest speakers’ presentations! Normally, I’m not a shy person but I would say I was bit intimidated going in, just because I’m so new to the blogging world. Although I’ve been a blog reader for years, I hadn’t actually sat down to blog on my own until this past summer. I brought my best outfit, a pad of paper for note taking and a stack of my pretty new business cards that were designed by Tania Fischer Designs. (And seriously, my cards turned out SOOO cute! You’ll see them in this picture amongst some my new blogger friends’ cards that I got at the conference)

It was great to connect with some of the other ladies at the informal meet up on Friday night in the hotel bar. It’s always exciting to meet some of the bloggers in person that you’ve only communicated with online. It was even more exciting to chit chat while we enjoyed some Fairytale Brownies (another one of the conference sponsors) that were in a giant basket on the table! What a great conference sponsor to have! Mmmm!

On the morning of the conference, while I was getting ready, I may or may not have had a solo dance party in my room!  I’m not used to having a big giant room all to myself where I can make as much noise as I want! With my coffee in hand, I dressed in my signature color, pink, and headed over the conference room. It was just the best day! I learned so much from each of the amazing guest speakers, (click here to see the list of talented ladies who presented), talked with some of the conference sponsors that were actually present in the back of the room, ate tons of yummy food, and met so many other bloggers like myself. I also appreciated the break-out groups that were led by Wendy Wright of  Choosing Love and Arizona Moms Network  and Wendy Bevill O’Neal of Around My Family Table,  because you could basically ask them ANY question you might’ve had about the blogging world. As if all of that wasn’t enough, they then held a raffle for  some awesome prizes, including each of the centerpieces in the room.  I actually won one of the centerpieces which had been provided by Fry’s Food Stores! My daughter was ECSTATIC when I brought it home!

At the end of our day, we were each given two huge bags filled with even more swag that had been provided by the sponsors! (Click here for a list of ALL of the Blended Conference sponsors)

These are just some of the business cards I collected!
Two fun peeps I met that day: Heather from Brie Brie Blooms & Laura from Pink Cake Plate
And after the conference, we kept the party going over at Joe’s Crab Shack! As you can see, Laura & I are NOT afraid to wear a bib!
The entire event was just an amazing experience and I cannot wait to go back next year!

So….the word on the street is that next year’s Blended will be a 2-day event! I’m crossing my fingers that it is! To sign up to receive information about next year’s event, click here. I hope to meet you there!

Sometimes Instagram is MORE Than Just Pictures

I love Instagram. I love posting pics, I love interacting with others, and I love seeing the variety of pictures that people share. I love seeing pictures of families and fitness and crafts people have made and DISNEY and recipes….etc. Every once in a great while there are pictures that you scroll by and then scroll back to….sometimes several times. You don’t necessarily know the person but then suddenly you almost feel like you want to know them or at least more about them. Today I felt that way about a picture I came across. I have been following this adorable young girl (I’m guessing she’s in her 20s) for just a short while. She is in the fight of her life because she’s battling breast cancer! I don’t know her real name, I don’t know where she lives, I post supportive comments, but the fact that she’s on Instagram, not only sharing pictures of everything she’s going through, but also her thoughts about the cancer is both brave and extremely enlightening for the rest of the world to see! Today I started crying though when I read what she posted with her picture. It was a letter, actually it seemed more like a total PLEA to her cancer. I cried when I read it and then I commented something on her picture and then I read it again.

Here’s the picture she posted: 
Here’s what she wrote: 
“What’s on my mind this morning: my eyelashes. Cancer you’ve taken my hair, my boobs, my periods, you can take my eyebrows, my toenails, whatever, just please don’t take my eyelashes. Pretty please. I’ll buy you some ice cream or a cold pop. But ain’t nobody got time for that, leave the eyelashes. Thank you! Sincerely yours: The girl who’s going to kick your ass!”

I’ve been thinking about it all day. I feel like I want to know her name. I feel like I want to know her. I know I can’t help her much, but even if I can just encourage her and pray for her, I know it’s something. Some people think it’s silly to exert any of your energy on complete strangers. I don’t. Some people don’t quite get the power of social media and how it connects strangers sometimes. I’m guessing that the positive support she gets from her Instagram followers actually helps her get through some tough times, like her rounds of chemo.

Luckily, I am a great investigator and I was able to find her and ask for her permission to share. If you’d like to follow this sweet, adorable chick too, just go and look up @screamqueen13 on Instagram!