Coffee With A Side of Bloggy Boot Camp

Blog Conference, take two!

Remember when I went to Blissdom last year? Well, since they moved it all the way out to Texas this year, I was stuck looking for another {closer} conference to at which to hone my blogging skills.  Enter, Bloggy Boot Camp Blog Conference, put on by the SITS Girls in Charlotte, NC.

Bloggy Boot Camp

When I first arrived at the Doubletree in Charlotte, I just took a minute {or an hour} to appreciate.  In general.  I appreciate my husband for being Mr. Mom this weekend.  I appreciate the not-as-long-as-I-thought-it’d-be drive from Charleston, in which I listened to anything but Raffi.  I appreciated my humungous hotel room and the ability to pee by myself.  And I appreciated the SITS girls for giving me an excuse to hang out with 100 of my newest Bloggy Boot Camp friends.

Friday night, there was a cocktail hour sponsored by Collective Bias. Now, if you know me at all, you know that walking into a room full of women I don’t know is, well…pretty much my worst nightmare.  But {after a big gulp of wine}, I got up the courage to introduce myself to a few of the ladies, and we ended up having a fabulous time getting to know each other!  We even drove into the town for some late night snacks and cocktails!

Saturday morning started AWESOME.  And that would be because of our Keurig Brew Over Ice sponsor.  They had this amazing iced coffee set-up and provided all the mid-morning caffeine I could drink (including a few non-coffee drinks like Snapple flavors!).  It was delish.  And it gave me {many} chances to pee all by myself.Brew Over Ice Display at Bloggy Boot CampAnd I just may have to get one of these puppies since they sent us home with reusable Keurig mugs and K-cups!Brew Over Ice station at Bloggy Boot CampAnd because of the coffee, I did actually learn a lot at Bloggy Boot Camp.  Tiffany Romero, one of the SITS girls, was our host….or should I say MC?  She cracked us all up while inspiring us to be creative, original, and ambitious.  All while literally spewing out inspirational quotes left and right.  Here are a few of my favorites!  Feel free to pin!Inspirational Blogging Quotes from Palmettos and PigtailsInspirational Blogging Quotes from Palmettos and PigtailsInspirational Blogging Quotes from Palmettos and PigtailsThere were also workshops on blog design, SEO, Google+, Social Media, and taking photos.  It was exactly what I needed….a little bit of the basics regarding everything technical.  I HIGHLY recommend this conference for newbie bloggers, or for any ‘ole blogger who doesn’t know her SEO from her meta data {I know what both of those things are now!!!}.

And we learned not to even bother using grainy cell phone photos on blog posts…terrible for SEO and pinnability. {is that a word?}

Ooops.Bloggy Boot Camp Cocktail DressI remember being so stressed about what I should wear to Blissdom…it was my first conference and I had no idea what to expect from the 400 odd women there.  Bloggy Boot Camp was different.  There were only about 100 people there, and all of them were relatively new to the field…and extremely approachable.  I didn’t even blink about attire….I didn’t even pack any extra in-case-that-shirt-wasn’t-cool-enough clothes.

Maybe I’m growing as a person and a {semi} confident blogger?

Either way, I made some great friends this weekend.  I had a ton in common with these girls…and because they were all bitty-blogs too, we were ALL looking for some new networking and friends.  In fact, I learned that close-knit groups of bloggers are called Tribes. Bloggy Boot Camp CharlotteDo you think all Tribes are a goofy as we are?

Collective Bias had us stretching awkwardly at Bloggy Boot Camp

Laurel from heartofwander.com and I hung out most of the weekend. Future Tribe member perhaps? :)

Who snuck that terrible awkward picture on my blog??!?!?! Collective Bias had us taking photos of “awkward” stretches with their pillow.  And apparently I was the most awkward stretcher at the conference, because I won a $200 gift card for my pose!  I think that deserves a badge for my sidebar, what do you think?

Palmettos and Pigtails

Jon Acuff Taught My Kid To Roll Over

That’s right.  And I’m not just saying that because I am a huge fan, and practically best friends with the man (now that I heard him speak at Blissdom ’12)!  See?

But because it’s true!  Here’s what happened:

I’m not sure how many of you have ever had a 6 month old, but they can be quite demanding.  For example, my 6 month old does not particularly like to be put down.  She does like to play on her mat, but requires entertainment from:

A) a three-year old dancing and singing “Rhinestone Cowboy” to her,
B) a black lab walking just far away as to not get her ears pulled but close enough to repeatedly smack said baby in the head with her tail (therefore making the baby laugh), or
C) a mommy (also known as “Sucker” or “Pushover”) who will sit next to her on the blanket and make funny faces and silly noises every time the baby even thinks about fussing
 

Not that am that kind of mommy, but I just happened to be on the floor next to Amelia today while she was playing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, she has rolled over before.  Mostly.  Mostly on the changing table, to reach baby powder, hairclips or dirty diapers.  Really in order to reach anything she is not supposed to have while I am up to my elbows in…..Well, y’all know what happens on a changing table.

Anyway, today, she seemed relatively content to play by herself, with only the occasional fish face from me.  So I decided to get in some light reading.  Now, I have been a fan from afar of Jon’s for a while.  I was familiar with his name and work through Dave Ramsey, who we are BIG fans of, in this house.  So I was thrilled when I realized that Jon was going to be the keynote speaker at Blissdom.  I had heard his first book was really funny, but I had no idea until I was nearly peeing my pants at his anecdotes on stage last week.  But through the humor, he had a great message about not letting the technology and social media take precedence over the important things in your life.  And, he had some great catch phrases, which I immediately tweeted as I heard them.  But for those who don’t tweet, here’s a summary of some of the things he said:

“Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”  (Comes in handy late at night when I am comparing my little ‘ole blog to the statistics and followers of some of the more well-known bloggers out there….who have been doing it for years!!)

“Listen to the little things that make big stories.” (Paying attention and appreciating details)

“Document this moment!  Because this moment didn’t happen unless you tweeted or blogged it!” (Sarcastically referring to our use of social media for every.little.aspect.of.our.lives.)

A blog that’s “90% perfect and shared with your readers is better than one that’s 100% perfect and stuck on your laptop.”  (don’t worry what others think…just share)

And finally, “Let me be your kid, not your content!” (On the importance of enjoying moments with your kids without worrying about blog content to go along with it, picture composition or the right wording for the tweet that may accompany the moment.  Just step back and enjoy it!).

I enjoyed his thoughts so much, I picked up a copy of Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like, at Blissdom.  My buddy Jon even signed it for me! =)  Not only is it hilarious and completely true, but I love the format of it.  It’s a great read for busy moms like me because the chapters and paragraphs are short and succinct, which allows me to read a page at a time throughout the day, without losing track of what Jon is talking about!

So, I was sitting on the blanket with Amelia next to me, and the book in one hand, trying to get a chapter in.  Next thing I know, Amelia is reaching at about 75% for THE BOOK!  So, naturally, I move it away from her.  (Get your own book, kid!)  But yet, she rolls a little more….gaining momentum and reaching for the book.  So I gave in and held it just out of her reach, and she completely rolled over to get it!  So I let her have it for a minute and she goes to town licking it and smashing it into her face!!!  She loved it!  And so that was her motivation for the next 10 minutes as she rolled over 6 more times for that book!

See the book in the left hand corner?  Yeah, so does Amelia!

Now she is serious!

I finally gave in and let her “read” it.  Notice my rockin’ free shoes?  Courtesy of Famous Footwear!

So, it’s official.  My baby can roll over.  Thanks Jon!

P.S. The plug for Famous Footwear is all mine!  I got those shoes as SWAG from the Blissdom ’12 Conference.  I love ‘em, and just wanted to share that fact with y’all!  I was not paid for any of my comments.

SWAG Rocks

I just needed to give a shout out to the Bliss Chicks who put on Blissdom 2012. I was so smitten when I arrived at registration only to receive a cute canvas tote (Courtesy of OWN network) full of SWAG. And folks, we aren’t talkin’ no keychains here.
20120225-223432.jpg

And by the end of the weekend, I had also aquired this:
20120225-223444.jpg
Did you see the shoes? Cute huh? And comfortable too! Who gives away free sneakers anyway?!?!?! (Uh…Famous Footwear does!)

Not to mention that I happened to stop by the Famous Footwear booth again at the last minute (to get yet another cup of their yummalicious White Mocha from their barista), and what do you know….they were trying to get rid of sneakers! So I got a second pair. I’m tucking those bad boys away for a rainy day. Or a giveaway…..Stay tuned….

20120225-223744.jpg

Starstruck at Blissdom

So, here I was….surrounded by 700 of my closest online friends, feeling utterly alone. I mean, its intimidating to be in a crowd of creative, inspirational, beautiful women who have eloquent words, stunning photographs and a gazillion followers. Each.

20120225-205626.jpg
And P.S. This is a terrible photo I took on the first night of Blissdom…..I kind of snuck it at the welcoming cocktail party. You know, casually holding up the camera….a quick snapshot where you hope no one sees you and thinks you are such a dork for taking that obvious crowd picture while you are supposed to be mingling at the party….and then casually slinging the camera over your shoulder to give off the impression that you didn’t even really mean to take said picture. And then you remember that this is a blogging conference and EVERYONE is taking photos and you are not alone…or a dork.

That picture is not good for many reasons, but the biggest thing about it is that it only shows about 1/20th of the amount of people at the conference. I arrived early to the cocktail party and had I waited another 20 minutes, it would have been a much more crowded photo!

Ok, back to my insecurities about being surrounded by awesome bloggers. For those of you who don’t blog, you may not realize that there are celebrities within the blogging community as well. You probably have never heard of them, but then again…maybe you have! I mean, several of my personal idols now have shows or are involved with HGTV, FoodNetwork, Dave Ramsey, and The Nate Berkus Show. Amongst Others. So, I was thrilled to get to meet (and get photography tips from) the oh so entertaining Me Ra Koh, who is the photographer for the Nate Berkus Show. And then there was the keynote speaker who started the whole conference out….you may have heard of him (Jon Acuff) or his books (“Stuff Christians Like” or the new one”Quitter”). He was hilarious and oh-so generous by giving us all signed copies of his book.

20120225-224700.jpg
And then there are the not-so universally known Blogebrities. My own personal one was Edie from Life in Grace….one of the very first blogs I ever followed, and who is a personal inspiration of mine. I actually met her yesterday, and hugged her neck….and I’ll totally blame it on the pink eye, but tears came a little. Read her blog and feel renewed. Read her friend (The Nester)’s post, about what happened to Eddie and you will feel so blessed and so inspired by Edie’s faith. And I got to finally meet her!! (*tiny little squeal!*)

But, I have to admit that I was completely in awe of what the Bliss Chicks arranged for our evening entertainment. Not only did we have several personalized video messages from Oprah, Zac Efron, and Paula Deen, we also had a song written just for us by Jewel (I think it will be officially released to the public soon…it’s called “Hope”). AND. We got performances and meet and greets with Nathan Pacheco, (a very handsome guy who happens to be a famous opera singer too!), The Lorax, Joe Jonas, and Rascal Flatts!!!

20120225-220956.jpg
I got to meet all of the above. And as much as I’d like to say I was cool as a cucumber around the celebrities. I was not. My new friend Megan and I were giggling like schoolgirls over Joe Jonas (even though neither of us knew of any songs he sang….or if he was even of legal age to giggle over), and completely dumbstruck when getting photos with Rascal Flatts (although I did manage to sneak in a hug and thank them for “Broken Road”….our wedding song!). The Lorax, however, I felt completely comfortable around. Hmmm.

20120225-214608.jpg

20120225-221247.jpg

A quick view of Opryland

So we all know I struggle to be social. Well, only in big group situations where I don’t initially know anyone. Well, that struggle is magnified when you have pink eye. I wish I thought to bring a baseball cap. Or, I wish I wore glasses. Or, if I’m wishing things here…..I wish I didn’t have pink eye! I know, you are probably tired of hearing about it. But here’s the thing….this is the first time I have been away from my girls EVER and don’t have a house to clean or errands to run. So, all those things that took my mind off of my monster eyes earlier this week? GONE. It’s the only thing I can think about. And you, my friend, are the only one I have to complain about it to!! =)

20120223-111757.jpg
And this is when it was kind of looking good last night! My other eye is red now too…so at least I’m symmetrical now!

So, I thought room service looked a little pricey, so I went on a hunt through the hotel for some breakfast. Decided I wasn’t really all that hungry, so I opted for an oatmeal, smoothie and a coffee from one of the coffee shops. $17!!! Shoulda stayed in bed and ordered in!!

20120223-113331.jpg
Since I was out and about, I decided to take a walk around the hotel and get my lay of the land. From what I gather, there are 4 main areas of the hotel, indoors. The Cascades garden has a pathway and some waterfalls, along with a couple of restaurants.

20120223-113537.jpg

20120223-114215.jpg
Then there is the conference center (which I’ll be spending most of time time in, but didn’t take an pictures of), which has about a million different rooms, lounges and ballrooms. The Gardens atrium also has paths and ponds and such, and is what I have to walk through to get to my hotel room.

20120223-114013.jpg

20120223-114050.jpg

20120223-114145.jpg
And then there is my favorite (and biggest) area of the hotel, The Delta Atrium. Hotel rooms flank the Delta, looking like apartment balconies. A domed ceiling lets in natural light.

20120223-115014.jpg

20120223-115041.jpg
In the center of the atrium is what’s called The Delta Shops…a little island town of shops surrounded by a lagoon that has gondola rides and waterfalls.

20120223-115329.jpg

20120223-115410.jpg

20120223-115434.jpg

20120223-115453.jpg

20120223-115507.jpg

20120223-115834.jpg

20120223-115902.jpg
It’s such a huge hotel, I’m thinking I may not even need to hit the gym while I’m here….I can just throw on my Shape-Ups and walk the place! And now I’m off to registration and to check out the Handmade Marketplace….hopefully I can do some Christmas shopping!

20120223-120146.jpg

BlissDom ’12 Icebreaker

Creative Kristi Designs

As you may know, next week I’ll be headed to my very first blogging conference in Nashville, TN. Since I’m a newbie at all this, Kristi over at Creative Kristi was nice enough to create an icebreaker for all of us to start to getting to know each other. So, for those who already know me, feel free to add flattering comments that will only enhance my personality =) And for those of you who don’t know me personally, here’s a little sneak peek!

Actually, for as excited I am about the conference, I’m probably equally nervous. You see, I’m not a “crowd person.” I am so pumped about learning more about the blogging community, and networking with the wonderful ladies who I’ve gotten to know through their blogs. I feel like I should be surrounded by friends…yet in actuality, I don’t know any of these women. My greatest fear is to walk into a room of beautiful, creative women who all of who know each other and know what to expect from the conference…..and I’ll sit there all by myself. Which would be something I’d do. Don’t get me wrong, I am not really a shy person. I’d totally talk to the ladies who sit at my table, and make awkward comments and small talk to the lady next to me in the line for the bathroom. But I’m totally going to have to step out of my comfort zone and really push myself to be the one to initiate such conversation, or (Heaven forbid), walk up to someone out of the blue.

Sooooo….the biggest favor you can do for me? Walk up to me instead! Introduce yourself and I’d be happy to talk to you! Here are some things about me…

-I am a former special ed teacher, a former wedding planner and a current stay-at-home mom trying to find her niche in blogging

-I love to take pictures (mostly of my kids), but don’t really know how to work my camera. So I’m really looking forward to the Photography Track: It’s in the Details: Mastering the Angles and Composition….hopefully I’ll figure out a little bit more how to use it!

-I’ve got two little girls, Jayna just turned 3 and Amelia is just about 6 months. They are the lights of my life.

-I’m a little OCD (or “quirky” as some’d say). Not about clutter or dustbunnies….neither of which I particularly like but seem to love hanging out in my house….but about little things like doors being cracked (“eeep!), underwear being folded in my drawer (“ack!”), oor sharing toothpaste (“eeeew!”). Just little things.

-I, (like so many others) am a teensy bit obsessed with Pinterest. I love it….and love finding all of the creations and crafts that others have been nice enough to think of for me. Now, I just need an extra hour or five a day to do all those wonderful things!!

-I also recently learned how to sew, so a lot of my blogs are tutorials of me bumbling my way through various patterns.

-I like to read smutty magazines, play with my new iPad, drink Cherry Coke and anything coffee related that has a little frou frou in the name (aka mocha, cappuccino, latte, etc.), eat cake pops, get pedicures, stress out over crossword puzzles, sleeeeeeeep, live vicariously through the Real Housewives (just kiddding…sorta), and try out new recipes. I also volunteer with a lot with a local charity that helps families of kids with cancer, and help out at my church.

Well, I hate to think that I’m such a simpleton, but I think that about wraps me up! I can’t express enough how excited I am for next week. The conference is at the Opryland Hotel….which, judging by their website-looks flipping AMAZING! I’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures for you! Also, they are having a Handmade Marketplace on Thursday morning, which hopefully will satisfy a lot of my Christmas shopping….and then there’s the night-time lineup. In addition to screenings of Oprah’s new show and a celebration of The Lorax, I do believe there will be a little group called Rascal Flatts there! And for those of you who are or who have teens…Joe Jonas will also be there! (I’m excited for him too, as I have heard about him, but don’t know anything about him or his music). Also a bunch of other speakers and entertainment on the BlissDom website, but to be honest, I’m not sure who any of them are. But I’m sure it will be awesome, no matter what!

In other news….I have joined the world of Twitter. I still don’t really get it, but my fabulous Martha is walking me through it! So come “follow” me @PalmsandPigs and leave me some love! Have a great weekend!