The Healthy Living Summit 2013

Hiya folks! Well, I’m back from Minneapolis with a belly full of delicious food and a brain full of blogging inspiration. Ahhh, just like old times!

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There was a lot of picture-taking (photobooths FTW!), a lot of hugs of friends I haven’t seen since, well, last year’s HLS, and lots of delicious food. I actually made the conscious choice to leave my big DSLR at home this time, since in past years I’ve had such a focus on taking pictures, editing them, and posting blog posts DURING the conference. And since I wanted to be able to really enjoy the summit (and the folks I was summiting with!), I opted for the good ol’ iPhone instead.

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I still think we ended up with some pretty cute pics, don’t you? 😉

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Lauren, who I’ve missed SO much since she moved from this area out to Colorado earlier this year, and Cassie, who I CANNOT BELIEVE I HADN’T PHYSICALLY MET BEFORE SINCE WE ARE LIKE SISTERS OMG TRUTHFACT, stuck together for much of the conference, getting to meet and mingle with so many of our fellow bloggers as we did.

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Photo thanks to Mindy

I’m sure many of you have already gone through dozens of HLS recaps, so I’ll keep this one brief. There was an awesome dinner the first night at Town Hall Brewery the first night that Casey put together, followed by the traditional cocktail party, and then Saturday kicked off with the sessions!

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For those of you who weren’t able to attend, or who missed the presentation by Cassie, Lauren, and me, please feel free to check out the slides and recaps of the presentation. Here are a bunch of links for ya:

The most beautiful slides in the world, by none other than the amazing Cassie Johnston

Lauren’s Presentation Recap

Sam’s liveblog of the session

Cassie’s HLS Recap

I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have on utilizing your personal blog to help transform your career path! (Feel free to check out the hashtag #HLS13BlogtoJob to see what other kinds of questions we’ve already had, too!)

So as I mentioned before, I also participated in a book club centered around my very own bookchild, TERRA! It was awesome getting to discuss the book in person with so many people who’d read it (and enjoyed it, or so they said ;)) and I totally felt like pretty baller when I was signing copies, hehehe.

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Photo thanks to Alicia

It was an awesome weekend, over ENTIRELY too soon, but thankfully I have eighty zillion various food samples and products to keep the memories alive… until I eat them all. Sidebar: Have you guys tried the Salt & Vinegar Blue Diamond Almonds yet?! CRAAAAACK ALMONDS!!! THEY ARE SO GOOD.

Thanks for another great weekend, HLS!

#HLS13

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to sunny (?) Minneapolis for the 2013 Healthy Living Summit! This year marks my third year at the Summit, and my second year speaking.

Some of you might remember that last year I gave a presentation on Blog Photography 101, and this year I’m teaming up with my gals Lauren from Me and the Mountains and Cassie from Back to Her Roots for a panel on how blogging has helped lead to our dream jobs (without having to blog full time AS our jobs).

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I’m super excited, not only for the panel, but getting to reunite with Lauren, who moved from this area a few months ago, and to finally MEET Cassie, who I feel like I’ve already known forever. Cassie designed an absolutely epic presentation and I know it’ll be amazing.

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(I mean, seriously, it is the most beautiful set of slides I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you SEE why I asked her to design my book cover now? :D)

Here’s the official blurb for our panel in case you’re interested in exactly what we’ll be speaking about:

From Blog to Job: Utilizing Your Personal Blog to Elevate Your Career

Unfortunately, it is a small (itty bitty, teeny weeny) percentage of us that will be able to turn our blogs into a full-time career on their own. But that doesn’t mean that blogging can’t help lead to great things for our careers! Join Cassie from Back to her Roots and Lauren from Me and the Mountains for a panel led by Gretchen of Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen, on the ways that blogging has helped these different women find their dream jobs.

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In addition to leading the panel, I’ll also be front and center at the HLB Book Club meeting which is on… my book, TERRA! Yay! Hopefully this will be the final push I need to finish out Book 2! Hehe.

If you’re at HLS this year, PLEASE make sure to say hi! I like to think I’m fairly easy to spot now that my hair is purple. Purple and pink. Kekeke.

HLS 2012: Part 2

Hoo boy, I tell you, I am not having an easy time readjusting from the weekend. It took me not one, not two, but three separate tries to put my shirt on correctly this morning (first time: backwards, second time: arm through neckhole, in case you were wondering). So I guess that means I should jump right into Part 2 of my weekend recap, huh?

Picking up right where we left off, it’s now an HLS tradition to officially kick things off with a cocktail party Friday night. Because we knew that there were only going to be light appetizers at the party, the roomies (Anne, Theodora, Ashley, plus Tina) and I wanted to make sure we got some actual sustenance beforehand. We were a little crunched for time because the photowalk took longer than planned (whoops), so we decided just to get our nom on at the hotel restaurant: Zephyr on the Charles.

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The menu was very tantalizing, and we were given a 10% discount because of HLS, so it ended up being a great choice! Before we could get into ordering, however, we had to take advantage of the deliciously even lighting that our patio seating allowed us. Vanity photoshoot? Yes please.

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I love dining with other bloggers. Makes me feel so much less self-conscious about my food paparazzi ways.

As expected with people who have a lot of the same interests food-wise, all of us ended up ordering one of two things. I got the lobster cobb salad (as did Anne and Tina), and Theodora and Ashley (who were set to run 15 miles in the morning as part of their marathon training) got a rigatoni dish with chicken and vegetables.

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But first, the bread! We housed the pretzel roll. It. Was. Awesome.

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Aaaaaalmost as awesome as my lobster cobb salad. With huge chunks of lobster, bacon, egg, tomatoes, super ripe avocado, and a heaping amount of GOAT CHEESE, it was seriously amazing. It came with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette on the side. Nom-tastic, for reals.

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After we wrapped up dinner, it was time for the cocktail party! The fabulous Elizabeth was the planner of this event. It was held in a little tented area off of one of the meeting rooms, and it looked fantastic.

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There were a few little apps and whatnot: a cheese plate, a veggie plate, and a dessert table.

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I was so glad that we got a real meal beforehand, but I was also glad that I saved room for dessert! I tried one of each type of mini-whoopie pie: chocolate, red velvet, and lemon poppyseed. The lemon was my favorite — there’s just something about that flavor combination I really love. It’s my favorite kind of muffin, too!

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The most fun part of the cocktail party (last year’s too!) is the photobooth that we have set up. What can I say? You have to know that getting a bunch of women together who already have a penchant for posting photos of themselves on the internet is going to result in some serious goobering-up in front of the photobooth cam. Check out some of these beauties:


From Elizabeth’s blog

We didn’t end up staying until the very end since we were so tired (not that I really had an excuse since *I* wasn’t set to run 15 miles in the morning, but still). But before I officially went up to hit the hay, Mal came to pick Tina up since she wasn’t attending the conference the next day and…

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I got to meet Murphy!

He was such an adorable little munchkin. He has SO much personality! It made me wish that I had Daxter with me so he and Murphy could instantly become bestest best friends. Oh well, maybe next time. 😉

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I hightailed it back to the room after that to put up my feet (which were more sore than I like to admit) and start mentally preparing myself for the day to come… which included my photography presentation! Ahhh!

Saturday: We had a breakfast which was sponsored by Wild Harvest and was actually AWESOME. Instead of cereal, oatmeal, and fruit, which I was expecting based on last year, they had a full-service breakfast which featured the winning recipe of the contest they held prior to the conference. I was too nervous for my presentation so I forgot to bring my camera down, but rest assured it was awesome.

After breakfast, most people headed off to the CrossFit session (which, as I mentioned, I had to unfortunately miss out on), while I went and prepped for my presentation. Before I knew it, 10:45 had rolled around and I was off!


Picture from Courtney

I actually think my presentation ended up going really well. It FLEW by, of course, and I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the clock on my computer and had already been talking for 25 minutes, but it also went smoothly. People had a lot of questions, as expected, so I was glad I left enough time for them to be asked. If you’re interested, here is a link to the slides from my presentation.

If there’s enough interest, I’d also be happy to go through a post (or a series of posts) on what I talked about – photography basics and how to up the ante in terms of your blog’s photos. Just let me know!

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As mentioned, my session flew by (as did the following one I attended, which was a panel on working with brands that featured my roomies, hosted by Lauren of Say What You Need to Say. Then, before I knew it, it was time for lunch! I was RAVENOUS (must have been all that nervous energy), so again I am glad to say that the hotel did not disappoint food-wise.

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They had a make-your-own salad that you could top with goat cheese, almonds, and dried blueberries, a delicious tomato and avocado salad, a vegan lentil chili (which was spicy and delicious – I had seconds!), and this roasted chicken which was actually fantastic. I always expect conference chicken to be dry and flavorless, and this was anything but. They also had a vegetable soup which was good, albeit a little salty.

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The one part of lunch I did not particularly enjoy was the dessert. They served us yogurt parfaits at breakfast, so I was pretty much expecting this to be more of the same. When I dug in expecting yogurt, however, I was met with a flavor that was more like cottage cheese or ricotta. Now, I normally LOVE cottage cheese (and ricotta, frankly!), and most of my tablemates seemed to really enjoy the dish. I just couldn’t get over the texture though (maybe because I had gone in expecting yogurt?) and ended up just picking the fruit and glazed walnuts off the top. Oh well, at least it photographed beautifully!

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The rest of the day was spent going in and out of additional sessions, snacking on Driscoll’s berries, and bumming around with the roomies. We were all really glad that our presentations had been back-to-back and before lunch so we could enjoy the rest of the day together. Before we knew it, Meghann, Julie, and Heather were going through the closing remarks!

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Eventually we made our way down to Meghann’s room where a bunch of the girls were meeting before heading out to a Chobani dinner (like the one I got to attend back in May).


Photo from Theodora

Meghann was already deep in post-conference relief mode, hehe:

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Since I wouldn’t be attending the dinner, I ventured out with Chase and Michelle to take in just a little bit more of Boston while I still could. We grabbed the hotel shuttle out to Harvard Square and ended up having dinner at a cute little Irish pub called Tommy Doyle’s.

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I got a Magic Hat beer and decided to keep my lobster craving satisfied for the second night in a row:

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Talk about a great value! For $12 I got TWO lobster rolls stuffed to the brim with meaty goodness. I ended up eating one whole roll and then just picking the lobster out of the other. Mm-mmm.

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I was also pleasantly surprised to see a Bon Chon Chicken joint right in the middle of everything. You guys know how I feel about the deliciousness that is Bon Chon. Harvardians (is that a thing?), if you haven’t tried their magical crack chicken yet, go! Quickly!

Aaaaaand, that about wraps it up! I caught a super early flight back to DC Sunday morning with Chase, realized quickly that I had also caught a cold, but didn’t really care. I have another great HLS weekend under my belt, and can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

HLS 2012: Part 1

Hey girl hey.

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So, I’m back from Boston and the 2012 Healthy Living Summit, and it (of course) a total blast. Because I was a speaker at this year’s summit, I was admittedly more nervous than excited about it, but now I don’t really know why that was the case. It was just as much fun as I expected it to be!

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Heather, Elizabeth, and Meghann – three of the wunderbar organizers of HLS!

I met a ton of new (and new-ish, since I kind of already knew them from their blogs) people, got to speak on a topic that I am supremely passionate about, and FINALLY had a reason to wear my peacock dress. Win-win-win.

I flew into Boston around noon, and quickly made my way over from the US Airways terminal to the Jet Blue terminal to meet Anne, who was landing about 40 minutes after me. We cabbed to the hotel – the Hyatt Regency Cambrige – together!

Sidenote: Boston Logan is a fairly confusing airport! I had to take a legit bus to get from one terminal to the other. Inter-airport shuttles: they are the future. Embrace the future, Boston. I mean, c’mon, what is this, DCA? Hehe.

Anne and I got to the hotel, said our hellos to a few people that we knew, then grabbed our flippin’ sweet swag bags and went up to our room. As was to be expected, the haul was pretty epic this year:

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Also as was to be expected, I definitely could NOT fit all that jank in my carry-on for the flight back. So I ended up having to sadly ditch and give away a few of my bigger and liquidier totally free items. I know, my life is so hard.

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I can’t lie, the thing I’m most excited about (other than the multiple coupons I snagged for Almond Breeze and Laughing Cow cheese) are the Reebok sneakers that we all got. They’re the minimized, super-light style which I’ve never gotten to try out before. I think they’re actually specifically targeted for CrossFit use, but we all know how much CrossFit I’ve done (er, bagel). But who knows? Maybe this will inspire me to take the plunge and see what CF is really all about (since I sadly had to miss out on the CF session at the summit Saturday AM!)

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One of our sponsors was Happy Family, which is a natural baby food company that’s looking to expand their product line. If you think that the fact that it’s baby food stopped me from taste-testing my “Happy Tot” pouch that I got, however, you would be sadly mistaken. It tasted like… sweet potato applesauce. Yep.

Anne and I hung around in our room for a little bit, while we waited for our other roomies (Ashley and Theodora) to arrive. Tina also joined us for a little while, since she wasn’t attending the summit but was going to the cocktail party with us that night.

Before I could get to say too long of a hello to my friends, however, I had to gear up for the photowalk that I was heading up with Holly!

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We went on (what was supposed to be) a 2.5 mile walk from the hotel to Fenway park. We passed by Boston University directly on the path there, too. Of course, because it’s me, the part of the group that had (much to their chagrin) stuck with me ended up taking a little longer to get back. Some people might call it getting lost, I like to say it was extending the adventure, hahaha. I think we must have walked at least 4 miles in total that afternoon. Oops?

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Oh well, at least I got some banging pictures out of it! Plus, I can say that I’ve been to Fenway now! Not that I care especially about baseball either way, but I just feel like Fenway Park is kind of a big deal.

Photo overload starting in 3… 2… 1…

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Boston is a really beautiful city, I’m actually kind of sad that both times that I’ve been there this year (for Reach the Beach and then for this) I haven’t gotten to see much of the city. Oh well, guess this just means I’ll have to come back and tour it for real. What a shame. 😛

The rest of the first day of HLS included dinner with my roomies at the surprisingly delicious and well-valued hotel restaurant as well as the traditional Friday night cocktail party! I won’t get too far into either today since A) I took like 5 pictures the entire second day of the conference so I need to stretch them out (good thing I was giving a presentation on photography, huh? Ahaha), and B) this post has already been a little too picturetastic. Here’s a group shot of us from dinner that I pilfered from Tina, though, so you can see our pretty dresses. Kekeke.

We got to have a bit of a mini-RTB reunion at the cocktail party (since both Elizabeth and Bridget were there too!) and thus pretty much commandeered the photobooth for a large part of the night, just to sum it up. But fear not, I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the conference, including a link to the slides from my presentation in case you were interested in viewing them.

Things are definitely getting back to normal QUICKLY around here. I got sick with all the traveling and whatnot for the conference, not that that’s particularly surprising, and I think Daxter may have been just a little miffed that I left for the weekend: he left me a whole boatload of “presents” on my bathroom floor in the middle of the night last night.

Ah well, c’est la vie. At least I get to relive the weekend through these posts, eh?

Have a great Monday!

And We’re Off!

Ahoy-hoy!

As you read this I may already be on my way up to Boston for the 2012 Healthy Living Summit! Last year I was fortunate enough to attend HLS in Philadelphia, and I had an amazing time. Check out my recap posts of last year’s summit here and here!

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Check out the hair I was rocking last year! Bahaha.

Anne, Theodora, Ashley, and I are recreating our bangin’ room from last year tonight, and I cannot wait to see these girls again (okay, granted, I saw Anne like two weeks ago, but not withstanding… ;))

Without question, getting to go hang out IN PERSON with people that I spend time with every day online is definitely the best part of any blog conference. It often feels like people have this perception of bloggers as being these socially-inept nerds (well, perhaps this is not totally UNtrue in my case), but the truth is that I’ve formed some absolutely incredible friendships with people that I might never, ever have gotten to meet otherwise!

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So yes, the social aspect is hands-down my #1 favorite part about these gatherings. Coming in as a close second this year, however, is the fact that I’ll be one of the presenters! Yep, I’m giving a presentation on how to spruce up your blog photography and finally stop using the “Auto” mode on that expensive camera you have.

I’m really excited about speaking about this, because I whole-heartedly believe that having crisp, clean photos on your blog doesn’t need to be this huge production. I feel like there’s a misconception out there: either you can have great photos that you put in hours of time setting up and editing OR you can have mediocre photos that are quick and easy. Not true! While I may not have THE most stunning pictures on the entire interwebs here, I often receive compliments on my blog’s photography (when I’m not being lazy and just using my iPhone, that is), and I literally put ZERO time into props, composition, and the like.

In my presentation I’ll be going over all the basic photog concepts (aperture, ISO, stability) as well as some of my personal tips to make the most of whatever camera you’re working with. In that light, I do include pointers for making the most of your point & shoot cameras and camera-phones as well (although admittedly, the majority of my presentation is geared toward DSLR users). I’m set to start at 10:45 AM on Saturday so if you’ll be at HLS, make sure you stop in! Even if you won’t be there, you can still follow along with attendee’s thoughts in real time by tracking the #HLSblogphotog hashtag on Twitter.

I’m also heading up a photowalk this afternoon at 4 PM with Holly from The Healthy Everythingtarian. Anyone who’s interested in getting some photos in of the beautiful area surrounding our Cambridge Hotel should definitely come out! Holly is a really fantastic photographer, and I’ll be there to give hands-on camera advice as well. It should just be a really nice way to start before the evening cocktail party.

So there you have it! This summit is about to go DOWN. I seriously hope I haven’t forgotten anything. Packing for this thing is a nightmare — laptops and cameras and workout gear, oh my!

Oh, and for reference’ sake, if you’re at the Summit right now and checking out this blog for the first time, I am no longer pulling off the sassy blonde pixie cut. This is what I actually look like presently:

Though perhaps slightly less glamorous-looking on an everyday basis. Ah well.

And awaaaaaaaaaay we go!