The Best Kind of Mail

I love getting goodies in the mail, don’t you? I’ve been saving up all these wonderful items I’ve purchased over the past 6 months to share with you here on the blog. I also love supporting small businesses, and most of these fun things are from small shops or companies.

Hubby & I just started taking a finance class (Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, whoo hoo!) and with that and the holidays right around the corner, I won’t be shopping much at all in the coming months. But at least I have my goodies to tide me over. So here… check ‘em out!

I adore these stamps I ordered from Elise Joy’s first pop-up stamp shop back in April. Perfect for Project Life, envelopes, whatever. And isn’t the way she packaged her stamps so cute? Love all the washi tape. I’ve been saving these stamps to use for my Project Life albums and I can’t wait to incorporate them now that I’ve been scrapbooking again. Elise just expanded her stamp line and has even more cute stamps in her new stamp shop!

Also in April, I purchased some washi tape on Etsy from PrettyTape (top) and WashiWishes (bottom). Perhaps Elise is part of the reason I recently became obsessed with washi tape! It’s just so darn versatile. I’ve used it in my planner to highlight events and in a couple scrapbook layouts. I totally designed the digital washi tape on my blog around the time I ordered these pretty rolls of tape. Oh, and again… the packing is just too cute!

This past May, I purchased this beautiful chevron set from Goodnight Moon on Etsy:

I met Amber from Goodnight Moon several months ago at the Milblogging conference in Arlington. I thought she looked familiar because it’s been a few years now that I’ve read her blog, but I didn’t know it was her for sure until I saw the adorable bag she carried with her. I recognized it from her shop. And after the conference, I selected a couple items for myself in my favorite color combo (red, white, and black). But Amber also sent an extra item she made, and I just adore it!

Let’s just discuss how pretty this packaging is from Capturing Couture. I love how they wrapped it up like a little present! I also love the camera strap I ordered. It is SO nice. I purchased the “Summer Biss” camera strap from the Bohemian Collection. It’s beautiful, such nice quality, and has a really comfortable strap. My camera needed a little pizazz, and this did the trick! I so recommend this to anyone and everyone.

Last but not least (and I will be totally devoting a separate post for this)… my Erin Condren Life Planner in viva españa – mod floral. I ordered this back in July, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Like, obsessed. So much so that it needs its own show-and-tell. I love that it’s customized with my name! And the EC customer service is excellent. But, again… the packaging is just swoon-worthy. Printed boxes? Color-coordinated stickers? This designers says: it’s to die for.

And yes, I love packaging. In fact, I was a packaging designer for a couple years at one point. I love the way things get wrapped, packaged, shipped, you name it. I also love mail. Mail is great, but pretty mail is even better. Something I try to keep in mind even when mailing out plain ol’ greeting cards.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

I wish I had found a clever way to ask my bridesmaids to be in my wedding party, but I was too impatient and excited, and I called each of them as soon as I decided on it. The only exception was my maid-of-honor— I sent her a bouquet of white roses while she was at work, and the card read, “Will you be my maid-of-honor?”

Imagine my delight when I received this adorable package in the mail from my recently engaged girlfriend, Megan.

Talk about a way to “pop the question!” Megan is so creative and crafty, and she sent these cute little bottles of bubbly to her bridesmaids with a handmade card that read, “Will you be my…” on the outside, and a heartfelt note on the inside. It got me thinking back to when Megs and I were younger, and how long I’ve known her. We met back in the 5th or 6th grade, when my family moved to the town where I would finish elementary, middle, & high school. It was kind of an instant bond. We both shared so many similar interests, like craft projects and baking… and many of the same values, like friendship and honesty.

So let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

There was once a time when Meg and I thought we were going to be fashion designers. We even made these horrible matching shiny satin polyester shirts that had purple fronts and black backs… we spent hours on the sewing matching perfecting them. When they were done, we named our fashion company “megandani,” pronounced mee-ghan-dahn-ee, for you simple folk. Obviously.

Oh, and then I scrapbooked it, as I did many of the older memories below.

Meg was always so thoughtful. One year, she & another close friend baked me this birthday cake before school, and surprised me at home!

Yes, I know I was so skinny then. Let’s call it a goal and move on.

Megs and I are great travel companions. Even in high school, we went cross country to visit her family in California together during our spring break. We spent more of our time there taking photos and shopping for Birkenstocks.

Even with all the wonderful childhood memories we shared, we were pretty excited to graduate high school and move onto college, though.

Especially me! Oh dear.

We may have also been in a pageant of sorts… the sort of which neither of us won, but still had tons of fun participating in together. Didyaknow? It was totally televised and I never in my life watched it.

But you know, then college happened and we grew up. Which brings us to the last 5 years or so. We’ve watched our friends get married, and Megs was even a bridesmaid in my wedding last year.

I’m so excited to be part of Megan’s special day next May. I adore weddings, I adore this girl, and I can’t wait to share it all here! I really wish I had been blogging more during my other BFF’s weddings last year. I think I will have to go back down memory lane to take a few trips with Nikki and Felice, and share their wedding details as well! 

For now though… gotta love the cute way Meg asked!


Sooo… as it turns out, I’ve made a mess of my RSS feeds. I guess I had one when I started with Blogger, then I got a new one when I moved it to a .com, then I thought I had one when I moved to WordPress, but somehow I ended up with two more.

Do you use an RSS reader (like Google Reader) to keep up with the blogs you read? If you do… and mine is one of the blogs you follow… please update your feeds to this RSS:

As of right now, I have all these feeds with different “followers” or subscribers in all different places. Talk about a mess! The correct feed has the fewest subscribers… we’re talking close to 200 followers versus 6.


All of the above are going kaput. Or… they’re staying there, but they won’t be updated. I totally recommend checking out your own RSS feeds too! #ineverknew

Why is RSS so confusing?!

BlogHer’12: Part II

Now that I’ve filled you in on the first impressions of a BlogHer newbie, I’d like to share what I learned at each of the 6 sessions I attended over the 2 days of the conference. Believe it or not, I’m going to have to do a Part III next to share all the keynote speakers, parties, and fun NYC things we did! Information overload? I think so!

The sessions at BlogHer were really good. Though I didn’t know any of the panel speakers, I came away with a new appreciation for women bloggers as a whole, especially those who are influential in some way or another.

These are the sessions I attended. They were broken down into several different paths: The Personal, The Political, The Professional, The Technical, The Visual, and Room of Your Own.

It was recommended at the Newbie Breakfast that we choose at least one session out of our comfort zone. For me, that was “Erotica Out in the Open.” And no, I won’t be blogging anything erotica anytime soon, but please read on for more details about my thoughts on that sesh.

I’m just going to share a couple notes and quotes I took from each session. Oh, and I’m giving each session a rating out of 5 stars, so look for that below too. Here we go!

The Personal: Blogging for the Love of It
Panelists: Bon Stewart at Crib Chronicles, Dorothy Snarker at Dorothy Surrenders, & Alexandra Rosas at Good Day, Regular People
My rating: ★★★★

•“If I were a doctor, every prescription I wrote would say, ‘start a blog.’” Alexandra Rosas
• Look 2 steps ahead of where you are now and envision where you want to go with your blog. Recognizing when you’re not getting what you need out of blogging is a pivotal point. Bon Stewart
• Questions to think about: What validates you? What constrains you? Bon Stewart
Alexandra Rosas asks her husband & kids first before posting about them, and she only ever makes fun of herself.
Dorothy Snarker blogs under a pseudonym. Being anonymous gave her the freedom to build her identity from the ground up.
• There is a big difference between being an anonymous blogger or a pseudonymous blogger.
• Can you be a little bit anonymous? Or is that like being a little bit pregnant?
• How we choose to connect our personal and professional self is a conversation that is coming to everyone. Bon Stewart
• Be aware that your online identity is an extension of your offline identity. Where are they different? How do they intersect? Bon Stewart
• “If anyone is going to judge me, let them judge me and get it over with.” Alexandra Rosas
• Make the decision to tell the truth through your blogging.
• We life in a culture that values & validates economy. There is economic & social capital. When blogging for the love of it and not making money, you earn social capital. Bon Stewart
• Don’t look outside for someone to tell you you’re good. If you keep looking out there for numbers to tell you you’re good, you’re never going to think much of yourself. Alexandra Rosas
• “No matter what your opinion, as soon as you have one someone will dislike it.” Dorothy Snarker 

My overall takeaway from this session was that it’s okay to be yourself. Blogging can be healthy, therapeutic, and a wonderful way to get to know yourself and be comfortable sharing that with others. 

The Personal: Blogging the Fine Line Between Your Identity & the Issues 
Panelists: Deb Rox at Deb on the Rocks, Faiqa Khan at Native Born, & Kelly Wickham at Mocha Momma
My rating: ★★★

• “Hot” issues: The things you aren’t supposed to talk about at dinner parties (religion, gender, race, etc.) Faiqa Khan
• “When are we going to stop pretending people don’t exist? It robs them of their humanity.” Faiqa Khan
• Speaking about issues should be a conversation, not one-sided. Kelly Wickham
• Visibility creates comfort and connection. Deb Rox
• Being awkward and uncomfortable isn’t a bad thing. We’ve become a society that only wants comfort. Sometimes you have to put yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation so you can grow. Faiqa Khan
• There are parts of stories that we own and parts of stories that we don’t own, and we need to be cognizant of that. Faiqa Khan
• You don’t have to publish everything you write. It’s okay to write it out, let it sit overnight, and then decide to publish it. Kelly Wickham 

I walked away from this session feeling empowered about things I didn’t even know I cared about, haha. Like— “hot” issues, and why it’s important to voice my thoughts on them. Clearly, I’m not a political blogger… but I do care about things going on in the world. I’ve done this in the past with posts about OPSEC and 9-11, and I think I’ll try to do that more.

Room of Your Own: Table for One
Panelists: Cari Bee at Busy Bee Blogger, Karen Malone Wright at The Not Mom, Kim Trimble at Live from the 205, and Robin Mills at Bella Venta
My rating: ★★

• As single/childless bloggers, we are not a brand’s one-night-stand. Robin Mills
• Our income is more disposable than bloggers with children so we can spend more money on product and/or advertising. • We don’t have kids, but we still love Disney movies. Plus, we have Platinum credit cards. • 1 in 5 women in America will not or do not have children. Karen Malone Wright 
• Your blog can have a business plan like any other business.
• Check out Single Edition Media, Social Course, and Savvy Auntie for advertising opportunities.
• Know your blog, understand your audience, and be prepared to fight for it. Robin Mills
• Be prepared to use unorthodox methods to get sponsors. Karen Malone Wright
• You have to be proactive. Make a list of your dream team celebs and brands. Robin Mills
• DINKS: Double Income No Kids, PANK: Professional Aunt No Kids

Okay, so while this session was interesting, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I felt that most of it was geared toward advertising, which I’m not interested in at this time. For anyone wanting to monetize, it would have been a kick-ass session. I will say that I didn’t realize that single bloggers get the shaft when it comes to deals with PR companies and advertisers.

The Personal: Erotica Out in the Open
Panelists: Twanna Hines at Funky Brown Chick, Arielle Loren at Corset Magazine, Lauren Fleming @ Queerie Bradshaw, & Sienna Jae Fein at Dating Senior Men
My rating: ★★★★

• Write about what you know. Your audience will appreciate it. Sienna Jae Fein
• “Sex is something that happens to you, not something you do. We tend to speak about it passively.” Why? Sienna Jae Fein 
• Writing as if no one will ever read what you write might make you more emotionally honest. Twanna Hines
• Blogging implies an audience. If you are writing for yourself, that’s a diary. Think of your audience. Sienna Jae Fein
• When dealing with haters… life is full of them and it comes with the package.
• For more on this session, check out this blogger who live blogged the whole thing! This was the session I took that was “out of my comfort zone.” I’m so glad I went to it! The panelists were hilarious and cool. The room was laughing so hard throughout the session that people came in from other sessions to see what the fuss was all about. They gave away sex books and vibrators to people that asked questions or contributed… I was not one of these people. I must say though… this is the most you’ll probably every see or read the words “erotic” and “sex” on my blog… despite what the name Hard Corps Love might be mistaken for!

The Professional: Protecting Your Blogging Rights, Respecting Those of Others
Panelists: Lisen Stromberg at PrismWork, Liza Barry-Kessler at Liza Barry-Kessler, Lindsay LaVine at Ehilarity, Divya Jayachandran at Heavy Browsing
My rating: ★★★

• Purchase your domain name so no one else can take it.
• If someone is impersonating you, go to to find out who it is and to send a cease & desist letter, if necessary. Lindsay LaVine
• Set up reminders for auto-renewal so you’ll never lose your domain name.
• Trademark: source of goods (i.e. logo), copyright: protects what you create (i.e. book). Divya Jayachandran,
• You are protected by common law rights the minute you start using your logo. Use the trademark™ symbol now, and the registered ® symbol after it’s registered. Divya Jayachandran
• Use Pinterest at your own risk. Lindsay LaVine
• Focus on websites that encourage pinning and always credit the original source.
The Style Confessions has an excellent copyright page.
• Put a copyright or disclaimer on each blog page or individual post.
Creative Commons encourages sharing with lawyer terms.
• Recipes are explicitly excluded from copyright laws. They must have “substantial literary expression” to be copyrightable.
• Defamation: public declaration that damages someone’s character. Lindsay LaVine
• FTC Guidelines prevent against deceptive advertising.
• Compensation = disclosure. You must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure when being compensated for anything you blog about, whether you are paid with money or product.
• Use a hashtag like #paidad or other on Twitter for disclosure.
• Imputed income: know that freebies can be taxed.

Check out the slideshow with all the links to resources provided from this panel here. Also, I found a great recap here with additional notes. Lot of info in this panel. My fave was learning that I can use a TM symbol, and that such a thing exists as common law rights. Who knew?

The Professional: How to Price & Value Your Services
Panelists: Monica Barnett at Blueprint for Style, Amy Bradley-Hole at Freaky Perfect, Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco at Latina Lifestyle Bloggers, & Cecily Kellogg at Uppercase Woman
My rating: ★★★

• PR is not where the money is. Marketing is.
• Earned media is when someone asks you to do a review. Paid media is advertising.
• Until you can speak the language of ROI, there is no money in it. Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco
• Try Alexa and Quantcast to find out your numbers. Pay attention to your demographic, not just analytics. Amy Bradley-Hole
• Use Klout and Kred, depending on your industry. This is what advertisers are looking for. Know your numbers before you call.
• Take screenshots or copy/paste when others buy a product you’ve talked about or endorsed.
• Get or make a media kit, pronto!
• Track your Twitter analytics on Tweetreach or Hashtracking.
• End your post with a question to get engagement. Cecily Kellogg
• To make money, show that you are an influencer in your area. Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco
• Pay attention to your audience. Also pay attention to your competition.
• Be familiar with the term “added value” and let brands know about it.
• If you want attention, be worth it, stand out from the crowd, own it, and sell it. Amy Bradley-Hole
• Know yourself, your focus, what your audience wants to read, and what sets you apart from the others. • Sometimes the prestige is worth more than the pay.
• Price it so that it hurts a little. Monica Barnett
• Another great recap from another blogger found here.

This was another panel that was totally not what I expected. I was thinking, “Oh cool, I’ll learn how to price my freelance design work.” Um, no. Not so much. It was basically just how much to price for ads on your blog. Again… not my cup of tea. But I am already on Klout and Kred, if any of you are interested!