weekly snippets 17

weekly snippets 17

I can’t believe we’re already 17 weeks into 2016. (You see, what would have made sense was to say it last week because then it would have been 2 16s, but that would have been too perfect.) It’s been a weird week. I’ve done some city hopping, traveling, visiting, and last minute decision making. Is this what people do when they don’t have to travel for work? Fascinating.

Oh! And heads up. I changed my personal instagram handle to @mschrystinanoel and my blog instagram handle to @chrystinanoel so that it matches all the other blog accounts I have. That said the @chrystinanoel internet link isn’t working right now so I’ve got to figure out what’s wrong…

Without further ado, 10 things that happened in the past week –

  1. I had gotten to 13 days behind on podcasts. Now I’m 20 days behind on podcasts again. How does this always happen?
  2. I went to a men’s fashion party hosted by Sabir of Men’s Style Pro at SuitSupply in the city. I got my hair blown out beforehand so I could feel fashion blogger level swanky.
  3. I went to my cousin’s daughter’s baptism on Saturday. I’ve now seen my family 3 times in a little over a month. I got some good photos and I can’t wait to edit them when I get back home to my desktop. (I’ve learned it’s far too difficult to do on this laptop without a full version of Photoshop.)
  4. I visited Newport, RI for the first time in my adult life. It was super pretty. (See above.)
  5. My dad’s older brother passed away last week, so I attended his funeral. I’m not a great funeral attender because I talk too loud and cry too much. Seeing his side of the family was good though because it doesn’t happen very often. My cousin (once-removed) read an essay he wrote when he was 10 about why he wanted to be Grandpa Lou for a week. Then we went out for Mexican food for dinner.
  6. My blog post brainstorming has been greart. I still need more time to actually write them. I did make a first draft of a media kit though, so at least I’m making progress.
  7. I got to visit one of my best friends from high school, Courtney. I’ve realized recently that I have very few conversations with people these days that don’t have an objective so it was good to just have some real conversation.
  8. This isn’t new, but I don’t know that I’ve ever shared it on the blog. If you ask me what kind of food I’m craving there’s an 80% chance that it’s any kind of asian and a 20% that it’s Italian.
  9. I used a spiralizer to make zoodles for the first time ever last night. I was mesmerized.
  10. I think I’ve averaged 5 cups/types of tea per day for the past three days. Bubble tea, thai tea, chai tea, rooibos tea, the Aveda tea. All the tea.

As for this weekend, I’m going to Westerly, RI for a little bit and looking forward to getting back in front of my desktop computer to get some stuff done on Sunday. At least I’m not traveling for work again next week. Maybe I’ll be caught up on podcasts and well-rested after that. Or maybe not.

podcasts I’m loving right now

10 Podcasts To Listen To

Let’s talk about podcasts! I know everybody was doing these posts a long time ago, but (a) I finally feel really solid on my podcast came, (b) I feel like there are still some people who are asking me what I’m listening to these days, and (c) iTunes doesn’t like to let me leave podcasts reviews apparently.

When I got my new phone I actually never put any music on it, all I do now is listen to podcasts. That’s it. On the plane. In the car. While cooking dinner. While walking to work. While making greeting cards. In the shower. You name it. So long as I’m not in front of my computer, I’m probably listening to a podcast. (I’ve found there’s still a place in my heart for television, so Netflix is always going to trump if I’m sitting in front of a computer. Also, I can’t multitask at work unless I’m doing something incredibly mindless.)

Dear anybody who hosts one of these podcasts, I’d love to buy you dinner sometime. Let me know if you’re ever in Philadelphia.

The Lively Show

The host: Jess Lively (@jessclively)

What it’s about: “The Lively show is a weekly podcast designed to add a little extra intention to your everyday.”

Who should listen: Listen to this podcast if you like to actively think about how to make yourself a better person. Better could be healthier, it could be calmer, it could be more adventurous. If you like actively thinking about where you are vs. where you want to be and how to get there, this podcast is for you.

Why listen: She’s a great interviewer, she brings on people with a huge variety of stories, and you’ll always end feeling a little more inspired.

My ramblings: I’m pretty bummed out about the fact that I wasn’t a huge Jess Lively podcast listener before I saw her speak at Texas Style Council in 2015, because I could have said something useful to her like. I really love what you’re doing! or You’re an awesome interviewer! or I really hope to take your Life with Intention class one day! But instead I stood there awkwardly while trying to make sure the microphone didn’t lose power.

Breakfast for Dinner

The hosts: Nicole (@nicolahearts) and Dago (@tehdago), @bfd_podcast

What it’s about: “Breakfast for Dinner is a podcast started up by a guy and gal in love with breakfast, culture, politics, music, fashion, and sports — not in that order.”

Who should listen: Anybody who appreciates pop culture, anybody who feels a little bit behind on politics and wants to know more (it would probably help if you lean a little bit left on the scale, and support feminism), and is looking for a few more friends in their life.

Why listen: It gives you a chance to take a look at what’s happening in the world from a different life. You’ll discover some great new music (all genres). Also, you seriously will gain two+ new friends. Just tweet at them and they will respond. You don’t actually have to watch any award shows or The Bachelor, you can just listen to them talk about it (and their recaps are way better).

My ramblings: I’m not sure saying this is one of my favorite podcasts because this is the only one I’ve ever been on on, it’s because Nicole and Dago are cool people. Also, when Dago said that he didn’t really like pasta, that’s what inspired by manicotti party in Austin. They’re just cool. And Nicole writes a cool blog called Writes Like a Girl.

Being Boss

The hosts: Kathleen Shannon (@andkathleen) & Emily Thompson (@emilym_thompson), (@beingbossclub)

What it’s about: “A podcast for creative entrepreneurs… Get your business together. Get yourself into what you do and see it through. Being boss is hard. Blending work and life is messy. Making a dream job of your own isn’t easy. But getting paid for it, becoming known for it, and finding purpose in it, is so doable – if you do the work.”

Who should listen: Bloggers and creative entrepreneurs

Why listen: They’re real. They’re sassy. They interview some really cool people. They’re building an incredibly fun online community and they host in real life events (ladies, if you’re reading this I’d love for you to have one more this year). And you can definitely learn a lot from them. There’s even supposedly a drinking game for this podcast, specifically every time Emily says “A-men”. It’s pretty wonderful.

My ramblings: Alright, I’m about to admit this to the world. Every time I listen to this podcast I think Emily is a brunette and she’s not. Also, Kathleen’s old hairdo makes me want dreads. Badly. In my next career maybe.

Elise Gets Crafty

The host: Elise Blaha Cripe (@eliseblaha)

What it’s about: “Small business knowledge & thoughts on goal-setting, motivation and creativity.”

Who should listen: Bloggers and creative entrepreneurs

Why listen: Elise keeps it real. She never admits to have all the answers. She just likes making a plan and getting stuff done. She’s going to inspire you to take it one step at a time to build something really cool and figure out what you really love to do.

My ramblings: Elise is one of my favorite bloggers of all-time, maybe my favorite. I’ve been following her story since 2011. (Here’s her business story.) She just gets shit done. It’s my favorite part about her. She gets an idea and she does it. She also makes stuff, always has a goal, and has a project she’s working towards. My kind of girl.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The hosts: Gretchen Rubin (@gretchenrubin) & Elizabeth Craft (@elizabethcraft)

What it’s about: “Gretchen Rubin is HAPPIER, and she wants you to be happier toohe #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully.”

Who should listen: Anybody who liked the books The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, or Better Than Before. If you like to think about how you can change your day-to-day activities to be happier, this is the podcast for you.

Why listen: I love listening to Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about happiness, happiness stumbling blocks, and little things to try at home to improve your general well-being. Gretchen always has a super logical approach to things and Elizabeth is never afraid to admit when she just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her upholder older sister. They’re a great team.

My ramblings: I really loved The Happiness Project and plan on reading it again soon. (Maybe even starting my own happiness project?) She takes such a logical and practical look at a topic that’s so abstract, she breaks everything down into bite sized chunks of information (like the 10 secrets of adulthood), and she always has research to support her theories.

Eliza Starting at 16

The host: Eliza Rubin, Gretchen’s daughter

What it’s about: “Sixteen-year-old girl in New York City, here to explain the world of teenagers.”

Who should listen: Anybody who remembers what it was like to be in high school, anybody who finds themselves still watching television shows about people in high school, or anybody who’s looking to hear what living on the Upper East side is actually like at 16. (As opposed to just watching Gossip Girl…)

Why listen: They’re less than 20 minute episodes where she talks about what she’s stressed about, what she’s obsessed with right now, what she’s over, and more. It reminds me of my high school days. That said, it’s always interesting to see how life in Manhattan is significantly different than my childhood in Connecticut was. Oh, and it’s fun to get to know both mother and daughter through two separate podcasts.

My ramblings: If you know anything about me it’s that I continue to watch shows on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. This is like that, but way more real. I also feel like I was just 16 yesterday, so I feel right there with her a bunch of the time. That said, I’m also incredibly grateful that I’m no longer a junior in high school, man that year was tough. (You’re almost done though, Eliza!)

Awesome Etiquette

The hosts: Lizzie Post (@lizzieapost) and Daniel Post Senning (@daniel_post)

What it’s about: “[Lizzie and Dan] of the Emily Post Institute answer your questions about etiquette in the 21st century. Awesome Etiquette guides listeners through everything from traditional etiquette quandaries to newly emerging issues in the modern world.”

Who should listen: Anybody who enjoyed reading the advice columns in the newspaper, but felt that they were a little outdated.

Why listen: They bring a very modern day approach to etiquette without feeling stuffy at all. They provide scripts for how to deal with awkward situations which is always super useful.

My ramblings: I was introduced to this podcast by Carly (The College Prepster). After we did our blogging panel together she informed me this was one I might like, and she was right! I also really love the fact that they both talk like normal human beings. As a consultant who sometimes deals with too much consultant BS language in my day-to-day I was worried that a podcast about etiquette was going to be too… formal. And they’re not. They’re very real. And the podcast is broken up into nice little bite-sized pieces of useful everyday information. They also recently did an entire section on gym etiquette which is one of the things that makes me feel most awkward in life.

Smart Passive Income + Ask Pat

The host: Pat Flynn (@patflynn)

What they’re about: Smart Passive Income (SPI) is about “smart ways to live a passive income lifestyle on the internet.” Ask Pat is “a brand new, DAILY podcast. Each episode features an actual question submitted from someone like you… it’s time to learn together about online business, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, audience buidling, passive income, blogging, list building, virtual assistants, startups, search engine optimization, email marketing and so much more.”

Who should listen: Entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs

Why listen: Because sometimes it’s fascinating to realize just how much money you can make on the internet if you put your mind to it. Pat his built such a strong network and community and it’s really fun to just listen to him have “how they did it” conversations with some of his closest friends. He’s also a great interviewer and isn’t afraid to ask hard quesitons. And Ask Pat is a great add-on podcast because it gives Pat a chance to get real with his audience and explain how he would do things if he were in other people’s situations right now.

My ramblings: Pat Flynn is slowly building an empire of really nice, genuine, motivated people. It’s really cool to feel like you’re a part of it.

The Shepod

The hosts: Rachael King (@rachaelgking) & Sara Tenenbein (@saratenenbein), (@theshepod)

What it’s about: “Join aspiring Golden Girls Rachel & Sara Renenbein every Sunday for brunch and girl talk with a side of snark. Pop culture & puppies & prosecco, oh my!”

Who should listen: People who like shooting the shit and who miss the 90s. Or just people who really love talking about food.

Why listen: It really does just feel like two friends hanging out, talking about their weeks, and getting real. They say stuff that sometimes people only think. And they always pull in as many 90s references as they can.

My ramblings: Sara (Cake Over Steak) told me about this podcast. I always listen to this when I don’t have access to my phone and I wish I was able to tweet at them more while I was listening. Also, I really love the fact that Rachael & Sara are so supportive of each other on the podcast. If somebody gets embarassed about something, the other always says something to the equivalent of “no, no, you do you, you’re totally right” – and that kind of camraderie is nice to hear. Also, their 90s references are seriously the best. This podcast is the one that makes me most want to start my own podcast.

Also. I feel the need to mention that I got some great podcast advice from Miranda at The Good Groupie. I told her that I just couldn’t get into Gilmore Guys because I didn’t like the fact that their episodes were double the length of a Gilmore Girls episode. Her advice? Go back and listen to all of the “Gilmore Gabs” because those are the interviews with the cast and crew of the show and it’s going to get you even more excited for the return of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

And that’s it. This is why I’m always behind on listening to podcasts because there are just too many that need to get listened to and I’m adding new ones all the time. That said, I highly recommend checking out any of the ones above that sounded interesting. And if you happen to host one of the shows above, I really wasn’t kidding about buying you dinner. K thanks.

What podcasts are you listening to these days?

5 things I learned from planning a blog conference

The Blog Connect Sponsors - photo by Tim Becker

photo by Tim Becker

Holy crap, we had a blog conference. If you haven’t heard yet, PHLBloggers planned its first blog conference two weekends ago, The Blog Connect. Our team was comprised of three people: me (the conference mastermind, a name given to me, not chosen), Sarah from smoorelovin’ (the conference creative director), and Melissa from Skinny Affair (the conference sponsorship coordinator). The best team a girl could ask for when planning a blog conference. I started to think about the idea of hosting a conference last year around October and actually put it into action in December. Once we decided on a headcount goal and venue everything else started falling into place. I remember the moment when I realized that no matter what happened next and what planning did or didn’t happen that we were still having a blog conference. That was very cool.

People keep asking how I think it went. The answer? I thought it went really well. Logistically it went off almost without a hitch (a small microphone situation happened, but after that we were home free), almost everyone knew the conference hashtag before they showed up, and when surveyed everyone said they had enough food and beverage throughout the day (which as an Italian is kind of a big deal in my life).

That’s not to say that there’s not already a huge list of things that we want to change for next year. Actually, we were saying it while we were planning this year. Next year we’re aiming for 100-120 people (this year it was 50); we’d love to have a keynote speaker; we’re considering hosting a party the night before the conference; and we’re already brainstorming the best way to keep all the emails, sponsorships, and other details organized (hint: it’s not all in the same email chain).

4.16.16_PHL_CROWD SHOTS_19

photo by Tim Becker

Everything about planning a blog conference was a learning experience. From beginning to end. I’ve planned 50+ person events before, but they’ve been 4 hours, not 8 hours; I’venever needed to set up a speaker line-up before; and I’ve never has to coordinate multiple vendors before. And I’ve definitely never had a creative director. It was always amazing to me how I would have this very basic vision for something in my head and the next thing I knew everything would arrive in my inbox in tropical colors with innovative execution ideas behind it. It was so fun to watch Sarah’s creative vision for the conference come to fruition. The girl knows her shit.

The Blog Connect Crowd - photo by Julia Dent

photo by Julia Dent

Here are my four biggest key takeaways from planning my first (of hopefully many) conferences:

The conference line-up should look like the group of attendees you’re trying to attract.

We’re about to get real. This was a big one for me. I’ve never needed to prepare a speaker line-up before, so I did it the most efficient way I knew how. I emailed our entire PHLBloggers mailing list and said “hey! I’m planning a conference, who wants to speak at it?!” Well, everyone who volunteered to speak was white. At the time I didn’t think twice about it, especially because it was a pretty fantastic lineup. I said yes to almost every person who volunteered. I figured this was the most fair way to do it.

Well, this line-up caused some not so good feelings outside of the PHLBloggers community. The actual worst part of the whole thing was that nobody was asking me about how the speaker line-up was chosen, they were asking the other PHLBloggers members who had no idea how it had happened, they only knew that I probably had the best intentions.

So then I/we ended up stuck in a conundrum. Do you change the great speaker line-up that volunteered and already committed? That didn’t seem like the right way to go. We ended up changing the overall conference schedule a bit and decided to offer a few more openings to speakers. This time only women of color applied. Our line-up coincidentally ended up balancing itself out, but that doesn’t change the overall message of this lesson.

This is me admitting my own ignorance to all of you. At first I didn’t really understand why the entirely white line-up was a problem. I asked a very diverse mailing list if they wanted to speak; the whole group had the same opportunity. It wasn’t until I started looking at other conferences that I realized what the problem was. If I looked at a conference and the line-up was all women of color, I automatically assumed that my presence wasn’t wanted at that specific conference. All of a sudden it made sense, embarrassingly much so.

And let me pause to say that I really enjoyed all of our speakers this year. They were amazing. They had great content to share, people left feeling inspired, and they all had a fun story to tell. That is not, and was never the problem.

It’s never that I wanted only white people to come to the conference, I just assumed that everybody would automatically know that they were welcome because that’s how PHLBloggers works. But if you don’t know our group, and have never met our people, that may not have been overwhelmingly clear.

What’s going to happen next year? Well, this year I set the entire speaker line-up before the conference was even announced because I wanted to make sure that somebody would want to speak at this conference. Next year we’re going to be opening up speaker applications. If you felt there was a perspective missing from the conference, whether that’s a difference is race, gender, or age, I would love for you to apply to speak, because I would love to hear what you have to say. And so would the rest of our group. And when we go to choose the line-up we’re going to choose the best people for the job, and I guarantee you that the best people for the job are all going to bring their own diversity to the table.

Alright, onto the other things I learned now.

The Blog Connect Workshops - photo by Julia Dent

photo by Julia Dent

When you’re planning a blog conference you’re not attending the conference.

This was something I realized about a week before the event. I realized that I was planning a blog conference, not attending a blog conference. I didn’t expect there to be a chair for me, I didn’t think I would have a bunch of notes on what the speakers said, and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to meet anybody new. My purpose at this blog conference was to make sure that everything happened when it was supposed to, that everyone felt prepared to do what they needed to do, and to make sure that all of the people had access to the building at all the right times. And that’s how it happened. I barely sat in a chair (by the end of the event I had my shoes off, prom-style though), I have no notes from the conference, and I didn’t meet anybody. That said, I was so glad to know that somebody had logistics on their mind all day.

It’s not possible to plan one of these alone.

It’s just not. I don’t know what I would have done without Melissa and Sarah. Melissa did all the sponsorship outreach and coordinated all of the deliveries of swag bag and giveaway items. Sarah designed everything that had our logo on it – from the logo itself, to the website, to the conference brochures. I literally couldn’t have done it without these ladies. We’re trying to figure out what other roles we want to bring into the team for next year, because we’re sure that as it continues to get bigger we’re going to need even more hands on deck.

It’s not over when it’s over.

So you do all this planning to make sure that the day of the event goes correctly. You get the design stuff down, you drop off everything that you need, you execute the day – and then you’re flipping exhausted when you go home. What you want to do is crash on the couch immediately, but what actually happens is that you need to send out follow-up emails, thank you notes, and sponsorship statistics, which I’m super excited to do all of. And you need to write down what went well and what you would change for next year right after it happens, because it’s going to become a blur very quickly. All that said, next year I might take the week after the conference off of work.

The Blog Connect Panel - photo by Tim Becker

photo by Tim Becker

I love nice people.

This isn’t something that I learned, this conference just reitterated it. The speakers, panelists, and workshoppers were all fantastic. I emailed Schmear It to see if they would give us breakfast for the conference on a whim one evening before I even had any conference material written up yet. And you know what? They said yes. They looked at our PHLBloggers conference, knew it was going to be something special, and said yes right off the bat. I met the General Manager of Snap Kitchen in Philadelphia at a Casino Night event in the city. My friend had mentioned the blog conference to her and the GM within the first 5 minutes of meeting me said, yeah, I’d love to talk about that opportunity with you. My accountant, Tamara from Creative Business Accounting & Tax Service, heard about the conference and immediately wanted to donate to the cause. They sponsored our swag bags (the literal bags) with a donation. At this point I time I hadn’t even considered that businesses would want to sponsor our event that didn’t have a product to sell. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor as she offered. The Saxbys team was SUPER on board from the second it started and were incredibly helpful before and during the event. I couldn’t have asked for a better venue for our first conference. The Philadelphia Brewing Company folks also immediately said yes and reminded us that they make both beer and cider, so we got to work with Commonwealth Ciders as well. And then I emailed Sarah from XO Sarah who I’ve taken classes with before (and had lunch with in San Diego!) to see if she wanted to get in on the fun and she gave copy of her e-book, Double Your Blog Traffic in 90 Days or Less, to everyone at the conference. Pure awesomeness. It was just cool watching all of these things come together. It felt really good. And it made me really flipping happy.

Please note that I didn’t work directly with most of the swag bag or giveaway speakers, that was all Melissa’s jam.

I definitely learned so much more from planning this conference. So many things that are captured in my “Blog Connect Master Plan” document that has been a living document for the last 4 months. Melissa, Sarah, and I are sitting down next week to do our overview and recap of the event and I can’t wait to get all of our ideas for next year in the same place. Thanks again to everybody who came out to the event, I can’t wait to make it even bigger and better next year.

weekly snippets 16

weekly snippets 16

Oh my goodness. All the tired. Want to know how you can tell? Because this is the first blog post that I’ve managed to get out this week. I have so many ideas! I just need time to write them. But until then I will just keep telling you things that have been happening in my life. And this week I’m going to try not to make it completely about food.

  1. I spent Friday running errands for The Blog Connect. This included hitting up the Philadelphia Brewing Company, Acme, my accountant’s office, Sarah’s house, Saxbys, the Cherry Hill mall, the Moorestown mall, the Promenade in Marlton, and the Christmas Tree Shoppe.
  2. THE BLOG CONNECT HAPPENED ON SATURDAY. I’m most proud of the Instagram hashtag. I will be posting next week about what I learned from hosting my first conference and we will be posting the recap on the PHLBloggers blog (which doesn’t exist yet).
  3. Sunday I got to show JC from Sweet Love and Ginger around Philadelphia, which was a lot of fun.
  4. Sunday afternoon (after JC left) I treated myself to seeing the orchestra. The Philly Pops played Broadway showtunes and it was wonderful. Yes, I sang Broadway songs the rest of the night.
  5. Then I made this Broadway playlist on Spotify.
  6. On Monday I got to drive from Denver to Salida, Colorado (+3 hours). It was a really pretty drive and I listened to podcasts the whole way.
  7. I decided the only acceptable lunch on Monday was a breakfast burrito. My team went out to find one with me.
  8. I made it to Elevation Beer Co. this week. Their quadruple belgian was pretty delicious.
  9. I listened to “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled 10 times on the drive to the airport yesterday. I still don’t know any of the words.
  10. I made it to Cardio Pop again tonight. My goal is to get in shape enough that I can enjoy doing the dance moves.

And that’s it. (My mother says that all the time.) Hope y’all had wonderful weeks. I’m hoping to blog three whole times next week. No promises though.