Category Archives: Latest News

Announcing My Brand Ambassadorship with Citrus Magic

Hi bloggy friends! Today, I’m beyond thrilled to announce that I’m the newest brand ambassador for Citrus Magic. Yep, they’re the awesome people behind those air fresheners, odor eliminators and candles you have likely seen at the grocery store. I can’t wait to share more about this company with my friends and followers.

There will be some sweet giveaways, Twitter chats and more very soon. I’ll tell you all about it in the coming days. But, for now, I just wanted to tell you guys the news and express my gratitude and excitement to be working with such an amazing group of people. Have a great weekend bloggy friends, and I’ll post more shortly. Xoxo!

PSA! Throw Away That Old Makeup


Think about this, even though it may gross you out when you do – how long has your makeup been sitting in your makeup bag or box? If you’re like most women, you probably have no clue.

Well, that makeup might be older than it should be, and it could be time to throw that crap out. How long can you keep your makeup?

  • Mascara only lasts about three months
  • Pencil eyeliner lasts for roughly two years, but liquid/gel eyeliner only lasts three months
  • Lip gloss should really be tossed after about 18 months
  • Lipstick and lip liner is only good about a year
  • Blush, eye shadow and bronzers that are powder can last up to two years, but creamed stuff? That should go after a year
  • Oil-free foundation and concealers – toss after a year

Another way to know it’s time to get rid of your makeup is if you have recently had any kind of infections, if it smells funny or looks different, or if it suddenly feels weird on your skin.

Is it time for you to toss some of your makeup? Not doing so could lead your skin to become irritated, or worse infected. It could also just look cakey or not cover your face very well.

Going forward you may want to add a label to your new makeup to know how old it is. You can add a little piece of painters tape or a sticker to the bottom of your make up containers, and mark with a Sharpie the date you opened them. This can help you determine whether or not it’s time to let it go.

Source for image above


Thirsty Thursdays – Summer Spiked PJ with Touch Vodka

Touch Vodka did send me a few bottles of their vodka for the purposes of review. While the vodka was free, this did not affect my review. All opinions are my own.

Summer is here, and with it, refreshing drinks are all the rage. Today I thought I’d share a yummy one that just tastes like summer in a glass. Perfect for those hot days by the pool! Or, ya know, on the patio after a rough day’s work. This is the Summer Spiked PJ and it’s damn tasty! Enjoy!!

Summer Spiked PJ



Super simple, super refreshing – I’ll have another please! Stay tuned for additional drink recipes with Touch Vodka 🙂

Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 
Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Bloggy Friends Spotlight – Angel Strunk

Hi guys! I’m so insanely excited because today’s Bloggy Friend Spotlight is on a blogger I’ve never met in real life. Ya know, one of my favorite things about being a blogger is virtually meeting people from all over the world. It’s one of the coolest things about my job – I never know who I’ll interact with, or become friends with.

Now, I have to tell you, I started these Bloggy Friends Spotlights hoping to meet and connect with other bloggers. I know there are sooooooooooooo many blogs out there, and I just get such an amazing kick out of learning what people are up to. Some blogs I’ve read have moved me to tears, some of made me laugh, some have simply taught me something or inspired me… But what’s the one thing they all have in common? They teach me things and entertain me.

Today’s bloggy friend is no different. Angel Strunk is the brains and beauty behind the amazing blog Next Level Blogging. You guys, her blog is pretty frikkin awesome. Each post is crafted to teach you how to take your blog to the…you guessed it…to the next level! Okay…enough already, let’s dive in!

Check out Angel’s deets:

Name: Angel Strunk

Your blog: Next Level Blogging

Can you tell me about your blog? I help bloggers make their blog’s success inevitable by providing tips and resources that will increase followers, post shares, and email subscribers. I also help bloggers find a way to monetize, and teach them the marketing strategies needed to turn their passion for blogging into profit. I am hosting a launch party on April 1st, which is when my blogger community will go live, and members will work cooperatively to promote each other’s posts, collaborate on posts, and exchange guest posts, along with so many other features! Next Level Blogging focuses on the power of generosity, and how success is inevitable when helping each other. I’m also giving away some great prizes 🙂

Do you post on WordPress, Blogger or Something else? WordPress

What’s your niche? Blog Tips & Marketing Strategies

Is your blog making you money? I have not implemented pricing yet, but is currently earning me play money, by way of affiliate links. (side note from Famous Ashley Grant – since doing this questionnaire, Angel’s site does have pricing and services listed on the site, and some pretty sweet courses mentioned too. Check out her site for details on all the awesomeness she offers!)

How did you get started? I have always wanted to run my own business, and had spent over a decade helping other small businesses become successful. “Someday” had been in my vocabulary all of those years, but I never took action, because I thought I would need thousands of dollars to start my own business. I was searching Pinterest for tattoo ideas, and came across a blogger’s income report. After reading that, and several similar posts by other bloggers, I knew I had found my calling, and my path to financial freedom. I was broke, so I scoured the internet for deals on a custom domain and webhosting, and started The Curvy Ginger with less than $2. I signed up with a few affiliate networks, and made over $500 in my first month of blogging. I spent countless hours, and many sleepless nights learning everything I could about blogging and how to promote it, and my sales and marketing experience was finally paying off. It wasn’t long before I knew that I should start helping other bloggers learn how to do the same thing, in February of 2017, Next Level Blogging was born!

What are your must have tools to run your blog?  Laptop, Smartphone, Canva, ConvertKit, and my blogger tribe!!

What advice would you give to someone just starting their blog? Spend a few bucks and get a custom domain and webhosting! That should be step number one.

Where can we find you on social?

If you had it to do over, is there anything you would have done differently? I wish I would have started communicating with other bloggers from the beginning. It has made such a difference in getting my posts and website noticed. So much, in fact, that engaging with other bloggers is going to be one of the core principles of success promoted by Next Level Blogging.

Who do you consider your bloggy mentors? Addi Ganley and Melyssa Griffin

When you have a blogging question, where is the first place you go for the answer?
Facebook groups for bloggers. I belong to several, and there are so many talented bloggers sharing their expertise.

What are your plans for the future of your blog? I plan to make Next Level Blogging my main source of income, and hope to make it a recognized and recommended resource for bloggers, especially those just getting started.

Is there anything you would like to add that you think people should know? I really do want to help bloggers reach their goals and be able to give up their day jobs to become career bloggers! I am one of the nicest people you will ever get to know, and I thrive on lifting people up. I love feedback from bloggers that find my posts useful, so please, send those emails! I’m a sucker for flattery 🙂

How awesome is Angel? I think she’s pretty darn awesome, and I personally just signed up for her email newsletter where she is sending free blogging tips and tools to your inbox!

Now, I want to hear from you! Do you have a blogging tip or strategy you’d like to share that can help us all take things to the next level? Leave a comment below and tell me about it.

Also – Did you miss the last Bloggy Friends Spotlight on Stephanie Fields? If so, I forgive you because you can still check it out HERE!

Don’t forget – I’d love to profile you too, so if you wanna be in on this -fill out the form here!

Stay tuned for our next Bloggy Friends Spotlight! Until next time, may your page views be high, and your blogs be monetized. Big virtual hugs Bloggy Friends 😀



Red White and Blue Fruity Mocktail

This red, white and blue fruit mocktail is a snap to put together. It’s a layered drink that is made possible by…SCIENCE!

The way this layered drink is created is by pouring the liquid that has the most sugar in it first, then the second most sugar and finally the least amount of sugar at the end. Apparently mine would have appeared more layered so you could distinctly see the red, white and blue layers if I had poured the liquids in over the back of a spoon, but I was thirsty and impatient!

I used a fruit punch, tonic water, and a calorie free blue raspberry punch to create this drink. At least the ice adds in the “white” I suppose. And, it looks patriotic enough for me to happily serve it as a quick drink for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day festivities.

If you wanted to make this drink a cocktail instead of a mocktail, all you would need to do is add liquor to each layer – for example

  1. pour 1/4 cup of fruit punch into a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1 tablespoon of vodka. Then, shake what your momma gave ya!
  2. carefully strain and pour the first liquid into a cup filled with ice. I used 8 oz party cups.
  3. pour 1/4 cup of tonic water into a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1 tablespoon of vodka. Then, shake it like a salt shaker!
  4. carefully strain and pour the second liquid into the cup. Again, this is probably better to do over the back of a spoon so you get more of a layered effect than I did.
  5. finally pour 1/4 cup of calorie free blue raspberry punch into a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1 tablespoon of vodka. You guessed it, shake it like a Polaroid picture!
  6. again, carefully strain and pour the final liquid on top. I used 8 oz party cups.

Have you ever made layered drinks? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Bloggy Friends Spotlight – Stephanie Fields

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a long ASH time since I’ve posted one of these. The last one was nearly a month ago! YIPE!!! Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, a blogging conference – yep – all these things were happening on Sundays. Note to self – schedule ahead of time. LOL

Also – starting next week these posts will be moving to Saturday because I’m going to be reviving a series I LOVED last year, but that I cut for a while. Long story, but the important thing is Superman Sundays and Wonderwoman Wednesdays will be back in full force starting next week!!! So, now that all of that stuffs is out of the way….let’s get to today’s Bloggy Friend Spotlight – Stephanie FIELDS – this is the first blogger I’m spotlighting that had a name change in the time it took me to get this post up on the blog because she got married!!! Congratulations on your nuptials once more bloggy friend!!! Wishing you an eternity of wedded bliss.

Check out her deets:

Name: Stephanie Fields

Your blog: Orangespoken

Can you tell me about your blog? Orangespoken is where I write stories of life, love, food and fitness!

Do you post on WordPress, Blogger or Something else? WordPress

What’s your niche? Lifestyle

Is your blog making you money? No. But occasionally I will review products, experiences, etc.

How did you get started? I started my blog as a way to share my recipes that I was creating almost 10 years ago!

What are your must have tools to run your blog?  Laptop, iPhone, MiFi, & social media!

What advice would you give to someone just starting their blog? To write as if no one was reading. That is how you find your true, authentic self. And to be brave! Someone will benefit from your content. So be brave enough to put yourself out there!

Where can we find you on social?

If you had it to do over, is there anything you would have done differently? I wouldn’t change a thing. Over these years my blog has evolved , grown, and even changed names multiple times. With each new identity, A new layer has been added making my blog richer, honest, and more personal.

Who do you consider your bloggy mentors? The first blog that I ever started reading was by Molly Wizenberg (and still remains my favorite blogger of all time). I also consider Ellie, from a blog mentor and favorite daily read.

When you have a blogging question, where is the first place you go for the answer?
I go to the Google! 😉

What are your plans for the future of your blog? I definitely plan to keep writing at Orangespoken but I also have some projects on the side my most important being a book I’ve been writing for the past couple of years. The book is on coping with, accepting, and joyfully moving forward with life after the death of my mother. I hope to finish this within the next year or two!

Is there anything you would like to add that you think people should know? I always like my blog readers and Internet friends to know that what you read in my posts, and in my social media statuses is a direct representation of who I am in real life. I think that’s one of my most treasured attributes I keep in my pocket.

How awesome is Stephanie? I think she’s pretty darn awesome, and I personally can’t wait to read her book when it’s completed!

Now, I want to hear from you! Do you have a book that you’re working on? Leave a comment below and tell me about it.

Also – Did you miss the last Bloggy Friends Spotlight on Angelina Allerton? If so, I forgive you because you can still check it out HERE!

Don’t forget – I’d love to profile you too, so if you wanna be in on this -fill out the form here!

Stay tuned for our next Bloggy Friends Spotlight! Until next time, may your page views be high, and your blogs be monetized. Big virtual hugs Bloggy Friends 😀






Where the Cool Foodies Go – My 2017 Food Wine Conference Recap #FWCon

Although I did receive a complimentary ticket because I was a speaker, and I was a brand ambassador, all opinions below are my own.

My third year attending Food Wine Conference was eventful, exciting, emotional and educational. Alliteration aside, I’m so grateful to have had the experiences I did at the 2017 event held at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. This year’s conference was my most fun yet.

Not only was I a speaker on a panel the last day of the conference, but I stepped out of my comfort zone a little and participated in the recipe contests, forced myself to really try and learn something new, and promised myself that no matter what I would stay as positive and open-minded as possible from beginning to end. All of this resulted in one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve had so far as a blogger. Here’s a recap of all that went down… Okay fine – here’s the Reader’s Digest version because to go into too much detail would take entirely too much typing, and I know you’re busy like me and you want the golden nuggets so you can get back to beating that level of Candy Crush or whatever it was you were doing 😉

Day 1

On the first day, I arrived about an hour early. I checked in, grabbed my Food Wine Conference credentials and swag bag, and proceeded to reunite with as many bloggy friends as possible. Shortly after the conference actually began with the CK Mondavi and Family Welcome Reception

They revealed their new labels, and I sampled a delicious glass of their Pinot Grigio before switching to water and Sprite for the rest of the evening.  I snapped some silly photos at the Photo Booth Fun with Florida Dairy Farmers, and then headed into the Cookbook Exchange room where I stuffed my face with latkes and salmon slathered in Intensity Academy’s  yummy Everything Sauce.

Next up was the Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek – in my opinion this year’s taste was the best one yet. Look at some of the delicious stuff I got to try:

Strawberry Shortcakes with Beignets instead of Shortcake (ohmigosh good!)

Andouille spoon bread with fried oyster and sweet corn gravy as well as a beef tenderloin baguette served medium-rare with wild mushroom relish

Caprese salad on a stick

Florida Goat Cheese salad with pickled beets, citrus, pecans and palm sugar vinaigrette

And the second most yummy item after the beignet shortcake was the Fried Lasagna. I ate it so fast, I didn’t get any decent images of it, but luckily my bloggy friend Caitlyn snapped a great shot here:

Fried Lasagna. Can I just eat this for the remainder of the weekend?! #FWCon #livesweatsleep

A post shared by Caitlyn | live.sweat.sleep (@livesweatsleep) on

Day 2

The day began too early for me, lol. However, when it’s conference weekend you put on your big girl panties and get to work! The day started with a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Rosen Shingle Creek’s Cafe Osceola. This was the first of many eats for the day. There’s no going hungry at Food Wine Con!!!

Next up was the welcoming remarks and The State of Sunday Supper Movement with Family Foodie herself, Isabel Laessig. And right after that Ina Pinkey presented her documentary about her time running and closing a successful restaurant.

After that Dianne Jacob spilled the beans on how to get into the 1% of Accepted Book Proposals, and then it was time for eat number 2.

During our first break Duda Farm Fresh Foods gave all of us a smoothie bowl with celery, spinach, ginger, arugula and mint. What’s funny is that most of the bloggers around me, upon reading the ingredients were visibly quite nervous to try this dish. But you know what? As far as a I could tell everyone, including me, loved it. I couldn’t believe how well these ingredients came together. Here’s the bowl:

After break we jumped write into another keynote with Amanda Rettke of where she spoke about Building a powerful Social Media Presence. Dude, this chick has a reach of 28 MILLION on Facebook at the time of this writing. She knows her stuffs ya’ll! In fact, just since hearing her talk, a few of my bloggy friends have been implementing the wisdom she was throwing down with awesome results. I need to work more on my own implementations STAT!

The next chat before lunch was about Enjoying your work more – Five Easy Tricks to Time Management with Denise Vivaldo. This girl cracks me up!!! LOVE listening to her talk. And because we weren’t all still full from breakfast and break, it was lunch time!

My photos of lunch didn’t do it justice, so here’s one Food Wine Conference shared:

The lunch we had was a build your own taco bar with Mann’s Fresh Vegetables. It was so yummy!!! I piled my plate as a taco salad with all the things.

Once lunch was over we headed back to the main room for a keynote with Peter Horst called A Window to the Chief Marketing Officer’s Soul: how to powerfully engage your brand. Then, believe it or not, it was time for ANOTHER eat!!!

Duda Farm Fresh Foods gave us all celery packs with an option of peanut butter or ranch. I ran to the restroom and all the ranch was gone. Those suckers went fast! But, the peanut butter was still pretty good.

Next was a panel featuring, Janice Mondavi, Debbie Lyons-Blythe, Gina Nucci, Kara Sanders and Lance Ham where they chatted on doing your work with passion. I then slipped out of the room missing the Roots & Boots presentation because I wanted to take a nap before dinner.  Needless to say my plans were thwarted by a networking opportunity, but it was a great experience.

Before I knew it it was time for dinner! The main dinner of the Food Wine Conference is always quite the affair, and this year was no exception. We were treated to yummy eats by Certified Angus Beef and the meal was paired with CK Mondavi wines. Again, my photos didn’t do the dinner justice, so here’s one from bloggy friends Christie Campbell:

Dinner ended and we were directed to the after party hosted by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association – The Strawberry Jam. I was a proud ambassador for the brand, so I got a kick out of taking loads of pictures at the party.

The party them was 50s sock hop, and it was loads of fun. We were treated to Strawberry mocktails and cocktails, cupcakes, candies, and heaps of 50s music. Here are some of the photos of the event:

Although the party wrapped later on, I left early to try to get a good night’s sleep for Sunday where I would speak at a blogging conference for the first time! WOOHOO!

Day 3

I overslept when I hit snooze. Whoops! Luckily, I made it in time to hear most of the breakfast keynote speech by the stunning and super fun Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe. I just love her!!! She spoke on “5 Social Media Strategies to Design Your Personal Brand”

Then, we broke off into different sessions. Some folks left for the Food Service Social Media Bootcamp while others hung out with Florida Dairy Farmers to learn about The Power of Dairy. Next, it was time for breakout sessions where you could go into different classrooms to learn the topic that spoke most to you.

For session 1 I went to the Turning Your Blog or Website Into a Business panel featuring Marisa Langford, April Erhard, Jorge Bravo and Heather Montgomery

For session 2 I took the class on Everything you want to know about Facebook Live!

Next was the InstaFood workshop where we learned quick food styling, photography and video tips from food content creators to help us create posts your customers will happily give their “heart” to.

After that we had lunch and the now famous Hashed Competition. For lunch we indulged in a baked potato bar. Soooo yummy. I covered mine with bacon bits, butter, steak and I don’t even recall what else. But trust me, it was good!

During the Hashed competition each table was turned into a team competing for the win. We had to take ingredients on the table and create a cocktail. Although we didn’t win, our team had loads of fun. Here’s what we came up with:


Finally it was time for my panel to speak. The panel I came up with was Using your Blogging Skills to Get Paid. The idea for it came from the fact that so many bloggy friends of mine are getting frustrated with the monetization thing, and wishing they could make more money to keep blogging. So, I along with my bloggy friends Caitlyn Connolly, Tracy Shaw and Lori Moreno shared how we make money because we’re bloggers, but necessarily directly from our blogs.

I must say, it was pretty cool speaking at a conference! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am excited to share that I’ll be speaking at another one in September. More details on that soon. By the end of my talk the entire weekend caught up with me, but unfortunately I couldn’t stick around to relax. I had to immediately rush home to take care of some ghostwriting work which meant that my panel was the end of my Food Wine Con fun…

All in all, the entire weekend was a remarkable experience. I loved so much of it, and can’t believe it’s already over. If you’re a blogger that does anything with food and/or wine, I highly recommend you consider attending next year.

Thank you to all of the sponsors who made this weekend possible. Thank you Isabel for believing in me enough to trust me to run a panel. I’m just so overwhelmed with gratitude right now, and can’t wait to see where my blogging career takes me next!





Bloggy Friends Chime In – 30 Conference MUST Haves

It’s Blog Conference Season, and that means lots of packing and traveling. I’m going to Food Wine Conference, BlogHer17 and FL Blog Conference, so I asked my fellow bloggy friends to chime in on their MUST haves to survive and thrive at a blogging conference. Below is what they had to say.

1. Business Cards. One of the bloggers took this a step further and said you should bring business cards with your photo on it. I personally don’t have my photo on my cards, but I can certainly appreciate the appeal

2. Comfortable shoes. Another blogger said sneakers. I often wear sneakers for the bulk of the conference and flat dress shoes for the after parties.

3. Battery packs – hell yeah! You can’t always get to an outlet, so having back up batteries is a great way to keep your phone working in the meantime.

4. Cardigan/sweater – ohmigosh yes! Even in Florida when it’s 90 degrees, you bring a sweater because of how frequently conference rooms are FREEZING!!! BRRRR!!!

5. Phone charger – yep, for when you finally CAN plug it in!

6. Pen and pad of paper or notebook. I personally love Caitlyn Connolly’s method of note taking at conferences – she takes notes in the front of her notebook, and makes to-do lists based on aha moments at the conference in the back of the book. How cool is that? I totally have started using that idea for classes and seminars I attend.

One blogger suggested using notebooks with a hardcover back so that you can keep taking notes even while standing up. This is a great idea because some sessions get so full you won’t be able to sit to take notes!

7. Courage – YES! Some people are massive introverts, and talking to strangers all day can be hard. But, bloggy friends, you’ve got this! We’re all here to work together towards the common goal of boosting our personal brands.

8. A sense of humor – a few bloggers offered this as a must have and I whole-heartedly agree. In fact, you should have a sense of humor with EVERYTHING you attend. It’s like Van Wilder said, “You shouldn’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.”

9. A willingness to learn – I confess I struggle with this one sometimes. I have a bad habit of feeling like I’ve heard many lessons before. However, I’m going to try to take in the lessons anyway at this year’s conferences because as Marie Forleo says, just because you have heard it all before doesn’t mean you’re implementing anything. And, you might hear it a different way this time that makes the knowledge-bombs finally click!

10. Your brand pitch perfected – I loved this answer! As we meet with new brands and potential clients, we must be able to spill our pitch at a moment’s notice. It could be the difference between walking away from a conference with an additional client, or walking away empty handed.

11. Slippers for the hotel room after walking on your feet all day long – Um, yes! I’ve been known to tote fuzzy socks too!

12. Your phone – Definitely. How are you going to be live on social and keep up with the picture taking without your pocket computer? Don’t you know how much sponsors LOVE when we Tweet, Instagram and Facebook live and tag them?

13. Freedom to be me – Absolutely. You have to bring the internal sense of freedom to be yourself. No one can give you permission to do that, and if you fake being something else, people will see right through it. Besides, if people don’t like you for you, that’s alright. Many conferences attract a WIDE variety of bloggers. This means that SOMEONE there will be your perfect bloggy friend. I promise.

14) A pair of slippers that fits in your bag – Yep! I love this too. I’ve seen more and more women toting foldable shoes in their purses at conferences when the “sensible shoes” and high heels become too much to wear!

15) A list of companies you want to connect with. This is GOLD! I love this answer because it gives you a game plan of attack in the craziness of a conference. Most conferences list their sponsors ahead of time, so this arms you with the knowledge you need of who will be on site that you might be able to chat up and/or work for or partner with.

16) Backpack to hold stuff – Yep, I’ve been known to carry a backpack in lieu of a purse many times for the sake of saving my back and shoulders. Though these days, I roll around a collapsible cart so that I don’t have to carry anything at all.

17) Water and your own refillable water bottle – Sadly, water sitting around in conference rooms can get pretty gross. And then, we drink it. That’s why I agree 110% with this conference must have.

18) Gum/mints – fresh breath and less likelihood that you’ll cough in the middle of a session – I’d call this conference must have a win-win!

19) Focus on why you are there and the goals for the conference – I love that my bloggy friends included so many mindset must haves in this list. Don’t you?

20) Wall charger and a long charging cable – it’s no secret that large conferences mean long distances between seats and wall outlets. Longer cords might help you sit while charging.

21) Positive attitude, a smile and confidence – Yes, yes and yes!

22) One blogger said she brings gifts for her acquaintances – I have personally done this at a conference before. It’s a fabulous way to connect/reconnect with bloggy friends or to show someone you’ve never met before that you care.

23) Travel-sized wipes – Yep, and I’ll add to this hand sanitizer.

24) A lumi light for better selfies – I don’t think I’d call this a must have, but if you have the money for this, more power to you! Then again, fashion bloggers – I would EXPECT them to have these!!

25) Business casual clothes – you have to be comfortable at a conference. Don’t dress up too much.

26) MacBook Air/ipad/tablet – enough said

27) Business purse

28) My own coffee or tea – LOVE! Call us snobby if you like, but it’s better to bring the things you want to drink, than overpay for hotel beverages!

29) Snacks like trail mix or granola bars – agreed. Sometimes there’s no good snacks to choose from, or worse – no snacks at all!

30) An extension cord and power strip – I like the idea of a power strip so much, I might add it to my packing list going forward!

Now, I want to hear from you. Do you agree with my bloggy friends? Did we miss anything? What are YOUR conference MUST HAVES? Leave a comment below, and tell me about it.

HUGE thanks to the following bloggers who helped make this post possible:

Michelle Snow of
Tracy Shaw of
Amy Freeman Courage of
Kristin Alongi of
Pickett Krayniy of
Tiffany Haywood of
Danay Escanaverino of
Marian Kicklighter of
Edith Tapia of
Maggie Lamarre of
Krayl Funch of
Tia Smith of
Denise Mestanza-Taylor of
Andrea Wolloff of
Heather Bridges Montgomery of
Caitlyn Connolly of
Liza Tolisano Ford of
Erica Acevedo of
Cricket Plunkett of
Caroline Williams of
Betty Ann Besa-Quirino of
Betsy Cohen of
Nancie McDermott of
Bess Auer of
Emerald Barnes of


#B4MH May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Bloggers for Mental Health Awareness

On December 27, 2016 my father died by his own hand. There is no doubt in my mind he suffered from mental illness. But, because of the stigma that clouds the minds of so many even today, he feared seeking help for this illness because he worried what other people would think of him. He was a very proud man, and he couldn’t cope with the idea that folks would “talk” if they learned he went to a mental health professional to get help.

I don’t talk much publicly about the sadness that plagued me before I left home. I rarely discuss how terrified I was of my father, or that I feared from the age of 9 he would take his own life. And, even writing this post, I know there are some people that will be annoyed, bothered, and/or possibly pissed off at me for writing about this. I can’t care about that anymore though. Why? Because the stigma associated with mental health and discussing mental health issues is BULLSHIT! And, by speaking up, perhaps things can change.

If my father had not been so damn afraid of how people would view him, I think he could have relinquished his pride just enough to seek help. I think my life and the lives of my other family members could have been better, more peaceful. And yes, I think he might be alive today.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

There Is No Shame In Seeking Help

I am in therapy. I see a therapist once a week, and I have since January of this year. Before my father’s death, I saw one online because I just needed an unbiased person to listen to me, and help me cope with issues I was dealing with. I’m not ashamed of this. I understand the importance of working through my crap so that I don’t go down the deep dark path of depression that ultimately lead to my father killing himself.

Please know that NO – I do not have suicidal ideation, but I did have a dark period where I thought about it. No, I do NOT condone what my father did, but as much as it hurts me, I understand it. I can see how a person can go down the rabbit hole of sadness, and get down so deep that they can’t see the light anymore. I can actually understand how easy it might have been to go to such a dark place that you feel the only way out is death.

And, that’s why I want to shout from the rooftops that the second you feel yourself going into a place of despair -CALL SOMEONE! GET HELP! YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO FACE PAIN ALONE!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

You may be wondering, why speak up now? Because I didn’t have the courage to before. I too was wrapped up in the fear of what others would say. My dad’s death jolted me, and made me see so clearly how different things could have been. I wish I could go back and tell him I was seeing a therapist, and that I was working with people that were helping me so that maybe he would feel he had permission to as well.

I wish I hadn’t bought into the stigma of working with mental health professionals meaning you were crazy when I was a child. Looking back I can see several moments where I could have stood up and said something if I hadn’t been so scared. But, I can’t go back. What’s done is done.

I couldn’t save my father’s life. Perhaps in all honesty, even if I HAD spoken up,  I never could have saved his life. But either way, now that my mouth is open, I’ll never stop myself from saying this again – If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental illness, even if you just suspect it – INTERVENE! DO SOMETHING! SAY SOMETHING! GET HELP!

Resources for Mental Health Assistance

Here in Tampa, if you are in crisis, you can call 2-1-1 to be directly connected to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.  If you’re outside of Tampa Bay, 2-1-1 will still connect you to someone local who can help. As per United Way’s website “2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need.” You can also check out as a starting point for additional or other help.

Above is the last family photo of me, my sister, my mom and my dad as far as I know. This was their 30th wedding anniversary. I threw a surprise party for them. What people don’t see in the photo is that there was a lot of sadness, anger and heartbreak behind the smiles in this image. In fact, most people have no idea when others are in pain.

We put on brave faces and go into the world harboring our pain, suffering in silence. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to have help for our mental struggles. We don’t have to face the sadness alone. Again, I implore you – If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental illness, even if you just suspect it – INTERVENE! DO SOMETHING! SAY SOMETHING! GET HELP!

This post was written as part of Bloggers for Mental Health Awareness. Brittany from Clumps of Mascara got a bunch of us bloggers together and inspired us to take a stand and help normalize mental health concerns, illnesses, and discussion.

Please, please, pleeeeease keep spreading the word. Share this post with the hashtags #BloggersForMentalHealth or #B4MH to help spread the message anywhere and everywhere across the net. By speaking up and making it “okay” to talk about, perhaps we can save lives, and make countless others a little easier.


The Fastest Way to Make a CUTE Dry Erase Board

This homemade gift was Pinspired! It’s a homemade dry erase board. All I did was get 5X7 frames from the Dollar Tree and then added a piece of lined notebook paper and a hot glued flower off a $1 bouquet from Wal-Mart. To complete the gift give the recipient a black dry erase marker! Simple and cute!

Would this not make an adorable addition to your gift for Mother’s Day? You could make a DIY basket filled with awesome homemade goodies