Friday, March 16, 2012

TxSC Day 3 + SXSW

Sunday morning Husband and I decided to see what food we could score. We ended up at the Today Show's Munchie Mobile. I wanted to try the Papaquiles, but they were running out of most things before I got to the front of the line. I ended up with the Today Tots and Husband had Le'Today Toast. The food wasn't that good and the portions were tiny, but they had been serving a constant line for four hours, so...
Although we wanted to go some other places, my knee was still hurting and I knew I was walking much slower than usual, so I headed for the Blanton to listen to the TxSC Social Media Symposium panels.
outfit- dress: Modcloth | cardigan: gift from mother-in-law |
 shoes: A'gaci


Since I was not walking well, I stayed in the main auditorium and listened to all the panels conducted in there.
Indiana of Adored Austin introducing Kendi

Keynote Speech: Kendi Everyday
Her speech really hit home for me. I spend a lot of time looking at people's blogs going "I wish I was as pretty as her", "I wish I could take and edit photos that well", etc. Kendi spoke about how everything put online is put through a filter by the author. We "see someone's best and think it's their always" but really you are just seeing a small fraction of their life and they may only be sharing the best bits. Even some of you may be thinking that I get to do a lot of cool things here in Austin (and I do, I'm not discounting that), but most days I sit around in my underwear after work watching tv and eating junk food. A quote she said resonated with a lot of the audience (at least I think so by the number of times it was retweeted!), "Comparison is the thief of joy". And it is true. There will always be someone better than you at something, often most things! She encouraged us to "let your blog be what drives your purpose - not your purpose." Be excited about what you are doing! How can your online presence enhance your offline relationships? 

 Panel One: Think Local, Go National 
panelists: Camille of Camille Styles, Jessie of Style and Pepper, Matt of Launch 787 and Austin Fashion Week, Charmie of Rae Cosmetics  |  moderator: Tolly of Austin Eavesdropper
 I have been on Launch 787's email list for quite a while and am familiar with Austin Fashion Week and Rae Cosmetics. Husband is a regular reader of Austin Eavesdropper. I had not heard of the first two panelists, but each person up there had somehow found a way to make their local sites appeal to a national level or brought national brands to the local level. An overrunning theme in this panel was also about creating original content. Original content is what will attract readers and keep them around. Find your niche!

Panel Two: Amped Up Writing
panelists: Ann of Cult of Pretty, Caroline of Lucky Magazine, Jessica of Refinery29  | Moderator: Pam of Over 50 Feeling 40
This panel discussed a lot about finding your purpose and your voice. What is the purpose of your blog? Who are you writing for? What is going to set you apart? 
I think that I tend to be really wordy and tend to make short stories long instead of long stories short. I have to think about how I can edit myself, not necessarily from over-sharing, but just being more concise in what I want to say. 


Panel Three: Blogging Lessons Learned
panelists: Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky, Jen of Jen Loves Kev, Kyla of Blue Collar Catwalk, J of J's Everyday Fashion   |  Moderator: Molly of Smart, Pretty, and Awkward
I felt like this panel discussed things that were discussed last year, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing since there were so many new people in attendance. They talked about things they will share online, things they won't share, hateful comments they have received and what they do about them, etc.  I didn't really take any notes during this panel. Sorry!



Panel Four: Blog Balance: Why Your Blog is not Your Life
panelists: Diya of In Her Stilletos, Julie of Orchid Grey, Kristina of Pretty Shiny Sparkly, Veronica of Tick Tock Vintage  | Moderator: Macala of FashionablyMarketing.me
The main thought I walked away from this panel with was "holy crap! Where does Diya find the time to do the things she does?!"
All of the panelists have successful blogs, yet they have not chosen to be a full-time blogger. They talked about their reasoning for it whether it was the need of a consistent paycheck or the love of their day job. They talked about benefits of being just a part time blogger, but also some of the drawbacks (like having to turn down a trip to Barcelona!!!). The girls definitely put a lot of work and love into their blogs, but the blogs are not their whole lives. I fall more into this category. Even if I was good enough to make money off a personal blog, I do not think I'd give up my day job. This is more of a hobby and an outlet for me.


Capstone Panel:  Be Extraordinary, Dream Big
panelists: Jean of Neiman Marcus, Naomi of Teen Vogue, Amber of rewardStyle   | Moderator: Tara of Buyosphere
All of these woman have jobs that I'm sure all of the attendees would love to have. They each started off talking about their background and their road to what they do now. I think a good message from this panel was, yes, you should dream big! BUT once you know your dream, you have to put in the work to make it happen. None of these women had their current jobs just handed to them right off the bat. They put in years of hard work and worked their way up to their dream job. They also discussed the changing landscape of media - how print is dying out - and how brands are changing to to keep up. 


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While I was at the conference, husband was at home following Twitter and #sxsw. He found out that one of my favorite people - Kristen Schaal - was in town and would be performing at Esther's Follies Sunday evening along with several other cast members of Bob's Burgers. I love Kristen Schaal in Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, and I've started to get into Bob's Burgers, but it took me a few episodes to make my mind up about it. 
Originally Husband and one of my brothers tried to go to the 8pm show, but that didn't give me enough time to get home, eat, and get downtown with my aching knee. They called me from the line when it started to let in and said that they were definitely letting in non-SXSW badge holders, so they thought we should try for the 10:30pm show in the hopes it would not be full either. (I think Husband must have known how upset I was that I couldn't be there). So I broke down and paid for downtown SXSW parking and stood in line for an hour to get in to the late show. 

Totally worth it. 
Eugene Mirman, who I saw last year at the IFC House, started off. I like that he often has visuals of funny things he finds or does on the internet. 
Dan Mintz and Larry Murphy were both funny, but I was there for Kristen. 
She did not disappoint. It was funny because she kept looking at one side of the audience and making faces or winking, and both Husband and Brother thought she was looking in their direction. I think maybe the whole group of people in that area thought the same thing.
The funniest part was when she decided to do a live action version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl in honor of his birthday. 


With hilarious results that included a dance with the devil that I'm not sure was in the original...
 
The comedy was a great end to a long, but fun, weekend.

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - TxSC Day 2

Even though I have to work all SXSW week and put up with horrible traffic, it is still one of my favorite times in Austin.

I decided that Saturday was the day to finally wear my Valentine's Day present from husband.
"Ooh, did he get you jewelry??" you might ask.
No.
"Did he get you clothes?"
Nope.

He got me this awesome Haters Gonna Hate tattoo from Tattly!
And I love it. I have been surprised, though, but how many people do not know the meme! Maybe I spend way too much of my time online...

Anyway, Saturday morning started off with a photography workshop by Kev of Jen Loves Kev. I now have a Canon 50mm lens on my wishlist.
Next was the TxSC Mentoring Breakfast with breakfast tacos from Cantina Laredo. The vegetarian tacos went quick; I just barely got one!
I got to speak to some great people including Macala of Fashionably Marketing.Me who had great insight into the legal implications of blogging and re-posting content on things like Pinterest. I also spoke with Kendi Everyday, Smart Pretty Awkward, Tick Tock Vintage, and Turi from Modcloth.

Destrehan's Daughter snapped this picture of me.
After the mentoring breakfast a group of girls were going to go thrifting at Savers. There was only room for 100 people on the bus, and I figured I could go to Savers anytime since it is about 5 minutes away from me. Instead, Husband called to say he was riding into town to score some free noms, so I met up with him.
First we got sandwiches from Short Bus Subs. They had won Fan Favorite at the first Gypsy Picnic. I had "The Cheerleader" and it was soooo good. I think I have a new weakness. Next we got empanadas from Mmmpanadas. Unfortunately they were out of the mushroom and spinach, and the only veggie option they had was soy chorizo. I took one bite and handed it to Husband. I'm vegetarian only because I do not like the taste or texture of most meats, and this was too close to ground meat for me to like it.
After lunch I went home and chilled for a little bit. Around 3pm I knew the TxSC girls would be boutique crawling along 2nd St, so I decided to ride my bike over. Big mistake. About 10 minutes after I got downtown a heavy downpour began. After seeing some shops, visiting my friend Anne Marie while she made custom mini wallets at Plain Ivey Jane, and slowly sipping a chai latte, I decided I couldn't waste anymore time and needed to return home to wait for my sister to arrive. I had convinced Husband to let me borrow his iPad for the afternoon, and before he left for work he looked me in the eyes and said "take. care. of. it."
So... I ended up riding home with the ipad wrapped in a plastic bag, stuck in my handbag, stuffed in a drawstring bag that I wore over my chest, and I poked head and arm holes in a black garbage bag that I put over my torso and rode my bike home with my umbrella handle squeezed between my head and shoulder keeping it over me. I think I was probably the most ridiculous sight in Austin that you could have seen that day.

Sister arrived shortly after and we got ready for the TxSC Posh Party sponsored by Poshmark. Last fall I had the bad habit of buying pretty dresses that were too fancy for anything I do on a regular basis. Luckily, the instructions were to dress to impress, so I put on my Under Cloud Cover Dress from Modcloth. When I originally received it in the mail, Husband asked me why I bought a wedding dress. :-/
But I love it!
The Post Party was loads of fun. We were the first to try out the Airstream Photobooth which was a lot of fun. We thought it took a picture, though, before it actually had, so it caught us in the process of removing our props.





My sister and I each won an item from Francesca's. I got a cute black and white handbag. We also got to spin the Lulu*s prize wheel. Sister got a sexy dress, and I have a $10 giftcard to spend with them!

Best dressed of the night, in my opinion, was Jennifer from If I Must Say So. The moment I saw her dress I ran over to her going "oh my gosh! oh my gosh!"
Cat Dress!
I am starting to collect my own number of clothing items with cats on them, but nothing as pretty as hers. She paired it with a black belt to give it a great, 1950's shape.

Austin fashion photographer Peter Tung was on-hand to take photos of the attendees in a balloon filled photobooth.
photo credit Peter Tung

You can view all the fashionable ladies and gorgeous photography here

At some point during the day I injured my knee, so we took leave of the party about halfway through. I think Sister may be inspired to start her own blog, especially after meeting one of her blogging heroes, Kendi Everyday.

Friday, March 9, 2012

TxSC 2012 - Day 1

As much as I have been wishing and hoping and thinking and praying for rain (and am happy deep down that we are getting some), it really would make things easier if it waiting another 10 days.
My plans for riding my bike all around like last year went down the drain upon seeing the weather forecast for this weekend. Cold and wet.
After work today, I went to Target on a mission - I needed rain boots. Twenty-five years old and I have never owned rain boots. My first two months in Wales were the wettest of the last 10 years, but I never had rain boots. Texas Style Council weekend and South by Southwest week - I NEED rain boots!
Unfortunately it appeared many other people had the same idea, because their supplies were depleted. I had a choice between bright red or zebra print - both $32.99. I had a $25 gift card from my birthday and didn't really want to spend more than that. But this was a necessity. I went wandering around looking looking for a poncho as well, which I didn't find, but I did come across "garden boots" in their outdoor section that were almost the same as the rain boots but only $17.99! Score!
Not the coolest shoes ever, but I needed them for practical reasons rather than fun. 
I went home, got changed, put on the wellies, a coat, and threw my handbag in a big plastic trash bag before braving the torrential downpour flooding the downtown area. 
I actually did pretty good with staying dry for the walk to the Texas Style Council headquarters.
I missed the happy hour kick-off due to work, but arrived at a good time for the clothing swap sponsored by Swap and Lulu*s. Everyone was to bring 2 items to hang up and then you could take two items.
As I was putting my items on hangers I was near one of the clothes racks and there was a girl near me who I was like "oh, I'm sorry, am I in your way trying to get to the rack?" and she said, "no, I want that yellow dress you have and I'm waiting for you to put it on the rack" hahaha. I was like "why wait for it to go on the rack? Here!"
goodbye, yellow dress!
I don't know if she ended up taking it or not, but I hope whoever ends up with it is happy!
I didn't end up with anything from any of the other attendees, but I did get an awesome shirt courtesy of Lulu*s, who had set up a rack of awesome items. I originally tried on a super cute romper, but it didn't fit me and I don't see it on their website :(
Nonetheless, they had all sorts of great colorblocking pieces in bright colors. Perfect for getting into the Spring mood, even if it is raining all weekend.
new shirt

I saw several of the blogging all stars and one girl who was wearing a dress that I own that I had considered wearing tonight. Oops! Glad I went with something else!

Sorry there are no pics from the event right now, but I didn't want to bring my camera out in the rain. I've got a busy weekend ahead and hopefully more things to share!

Let's go fly a kite...and other clichés

Ok, so maybe just one, but what else could I title a post about the Zilker Kite Festival??
After 20 some odd years in Austin, I finally got to experience the Kite Festival. I never went as a child, and my first couple years back in Austin I worked jobs that had me work on Sundays.
But not this year!

It was the perfect day for it - clear skies, warm but not too hot, and a wind around 8-10mph. Perfect.
Husband and I rode our bikes and stopped at Juiceland on the way for breakfast smoothies.

the kite I primarily flew
On the one hand it would make my morning commute more of a nightmare, but riding bikes with Barton Springs Rd. closed around Zilker made me wish it was always like that.
I was originally going just to sit in the park and watch, but we met up with some friends who had brought several kites with them.
Full disclosure: this was my first time to ever fly a kite! I think I had tried to once before, but it never really got off the ground.

It was so much fun to just enjoy the outdoors and see people spend time together. Most of the little kids enjoyed climbing the big rocks at Zilker rather than kite flying, especially my friends' little boy who kept asking husband to climb the rocks with him.
One of my favorite kites I saw
Husband joked that next year he is going to make a kite to look like Leonardo daVinci's flying machine. I think it would be pretty awesome if he could pull it off. 
If you are inspired to go next year, I suggest arriving early. Traffic gets pretty bad later in the day and lines get long for food/kites/drinks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lights and Music

If you go near the Long Center anytime over the next few days, you will notice a huge line and oddly shaped tents.
Tents that have appeared all over the world.
When you finally get to the front of the line you are asked to remove your shoes. Then you are taken into a room in the first tent and are told that this is a piece of art. That it is a peaceful place. That you may want to sit or lie down. That you are going to experience color and music. Parents are told to stay with their children. Children are told to keep quiet so everyone can experience the calm.
Then a flap is opened and you are allowed 20 minutes to experience the luminarium created by the Architects of Air.


We had fun walking around exploring the different rooms. They only let around 40 people in at a time, which was a good number. We did have to dodge children at some points, but there were moments of peace when you would be the only one in an area for a few seconds.
After taking it all in, we had fun experimenting with shutter speeds on the camera.
Then we experimented with moving the camera while the shutter was going. I was really surprised by some of the photos we ended up with.
a rose of light
The project is up through January 20th and admission is from 10am-5pm. It is $8 per person. Go early and be prepared to stand in line (though maybe not as much now that kids will be back in school). We tried to go yesterday around noon but the wait was 3 hours long. This morning we got there half an hour before it opened and had about 50 people ahead of us. We got into the tents around 10:15am.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When nothing happens

I wish I had a cool reason why I haven't written anything here in months.
Like, if I had run away to some exotic foreign country.
Or if I was too busy helping other and doing good.
But the real reason is just that I have been working - 60 hour weeks for Oct/Nov - and spending my free time not doing much of anything.
And I'm sure no one wants to hear about what I watched on Netflix last night or what flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream I just ate an entire container of to myself.
I'm in a funk and haven't really taken any photos of anything in a long time.
Except mine and my parents' cats.


All of this to say I'm still here and will try to write more... once I do more write-worthy things.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Las Vegas

When my in-laws were here a couple of weeks ago, we all took a trip to Las Vegas. Even though I have traveled extensively through Europe, I have barely been anywhere in the US.

The views from the plane were amazing. The furthest west I had been before this was maybe 2 hours outside of Austin. I had never seen deserts before, nor canyons like what we could see from the windows.
I think the majority of pictures from this trip were shot from the plane.
Of course we had to get a picture in front of the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. It is a bit of a walk, though, from the main part of the Strip. Luckily mid-September wasn't terribly hot, but I was starting to wonder if it was worth it about halfway there.
Although tour buses were bringing people by the dozens, everyone was surprisingly polite and queued up so each person could take a picture without other people in the way. 

The first night we walked up and down the Strip watching the different free shows outside the casinos - the fountains at the Bellagio, the volcano eruption at the Mirage, and the Sirens at Treasure Island.

Although my plan was to stuff myself silly with food, it didn't take much before I was sick of eating. The first buffet we hit was at the Paris casino, but I barely managed some soup, bread, and crepes. I think if I ever go back to Vegas, I would stay at the Paris. I really liked the feel of the place. Of course everything on the Strip is so manufactured and fake, but if you squint hard enough, it could look like you were on a Parisian street on the inside.
Husband and I made it back there the following night because we had wanted to go out at least one evening and visit a club. We saw The Chateau advertising that Rupert Grint would be there for his "birthday party", so we thought "why not?".
Inside the club was really crowded, but their outdoor gardens were really nice, and provided a great view of the city. We were also right across the street from the Bellagio and could watch the fountains going off every 15 minutes.
Here is my one stalker photo of him. He came a couple hours after it opened and mostly just stayed at his VIP area. 
On the Sunday we were there we mostly just walked around more of the casinos. At the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace there is a little show about the Fall of Atlantis and behind it is an aquarium. I liked the stingrays because it always looked like they were smiling for the camera.
In the evening we got to see a Cirque du Soleil show - Mystére. I had never seen one before, and it was amazing! There is a show coming to Austin early next year, and I'm debating whether to get tickets.

I think three days was enough of a visit to see everything. We did so much walking that I don't think I could have bared any more
On the way back to Austin we had a stopover in Salt Lake City. I found it funny that they put black squares (typically reserved for dirty magazines) in front of ones such as Maxim and Cosmo.
The city looked nice, though. It was surrounded by mountains, and the pictures around the airport made me want to go back and visit some of the state parks.