Affordable Smartphone Service with Unlimited Plans

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop and post about finding affordable smartphone service with unlimited plans  has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client. My husband has a cell phone through his employer, but they aren’t allowed to use the phones for personal calls or texts.  This is understandable, but also frustrating.  If he’s running really late and out in the field, he’s not able to call and say, “hey! I’m running late!” and he also can’t check emails in the event I’ve sent him something time sensitive.  I think the worst part for him (first world problems…) is that he can’t send or receive pictures of the kids at all.  Or pictures of anything, really.

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We’ve wanted to do a smartphone for my husband for a while now- it just makes sense with him on the road all the time for work- he’s all over Connecticut and frequently in Massachusetts. We’ve held off a long time because we simply didn’t want to pay for already expensive cellular service plus an additional $30 a month for data with a 2 year contract commitment. It’s not a need and not something we were willing to do. So we’ve been looking around and waiting and researching for plans that have NO commitment, no contract, and offer affordable smartphone service. I think we have found that in the Walmart Family Mobile plans.

With the Walmart Family Mobile program, consumers like us who aren’t looking-or willing- to pay high prices for a contracted amount of time can find devices AND plans that are affordable. Several devices are on rollback right now (including the Concord that we received for this review, priced down to $79.88 from $99.88 and the MyTouch device which is $129.88 from $149.88). I’m not telling you about the devices to recommend them or not- I’m trying to just show that there are affordable options for the Family Mobile plan that are out there. There’s several different phones available through this program which is brought to you by T-Mobile. You can also bring your own phone to the plan and just get the activation kit with a SIM card- just be sure your phone is a GSM phone so it’ll be compatible.

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Here’s what got us so excited to give the Family Mobile unlimited plans a go- there are plan rollbacks that are available: $39.88 for unlimited talk, text and web and $29.88 for unlimited talk and text (great for new users and kids). Remember, NO contract. The $39.88 is less than we were paying when I was with a contract service for my phone and zero texts, zero web. Just phone. Basic phone. This is a whole lot more without a commitment. Good grief, am I making us sound like we’re commitment-phobic? I mean, obviously we aren’t since we got married but if you didn’t know better…you might think we are.  The activation kit is just $25.

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We have started our Family Mobile journey and will be updating in a month or so with what we think of the phone and service.  Stay tuned…

Visit Walmart Family Mobile for online account management and information.

Ch
#FamilyMobileSaves #CBias #Shopeck out my whole shopping experience to get the Walmart Family Mobile activation kit at our local Walmart store!

Vino2Go™ Wine Sippy Cups

The Vino2Go™ wine sippy cups I received for review from TheProductFarm.com are perfect for two of my favorite things, wine and being outdoors.  This BPA-free, durable drink-ware has a familiar wine glass shape making it a convenient and easy to use product. I received one 8 0z. Vino2Go with a verde green lid and one one 12 oz Vino2Go XL with an ice clear lid.  These cups make a great gift and every time we go camping I get comments on them.

Vino2go Vino2goXL wine sippy cups

The Vino2Go holds 8 oz of your favorite wine or other drink in a BPA free plastic.  I love that the cup is insulated so my whites don’t get too warm on a summer day and the top keeps out any bugs or dirt.  Overall, the Vino2Go is functional and fun.  They offer the lids in at least 13 colors to match any color themed party.

The Vino2Go XL comes in the same great variety of lid covers and holds 12oz of wine or an entire bottle of beer.  Yup, my husband figured that out really quickly!  The first XL we received did have a breach between to the 2 layers and TheProductFarm.com was very quick to replace the cup.  Great customer service goes a long way in my book.

Vino2go XL beer and wine sippy cup

We have used our Vino2Go wine sippy cups in the house, on the deck and while camping.  Their next trip will be to the beach.  Sunsets, sand and wine sippy cups!  What a great combination.

Where will you use your Vino2Go wine sippy cups?

I received products to facilitate this review, all opinions are my own.

Hands Free Cordless Phone from VTech #VTechConnect #ad

I received a hands free cordless phone to review  from VTech and She Speaks.  Opinions are my own. While I love my iPhone, I don’t always have a strong signal here at home.  That presents a problem if I’m trying to move around and be productive while on the phone.  Also, I don’t know about you but phones next to my ear and cheek make me all hot and sweaty.  I hate it.  I’ve long wanted (secretly) to have a way to be able to use my cell for calls at home without having to actually touch the iPhone at all. With  VTech’s Connect to Cell™ phone- 2 Handset Connect to Cell™ Answering System with Cordless Headset I can finally be sweat-free and talk anywhere in the house- even the basement!!

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Typically, by the time I hit stair 3 to get into the basement, I’m getting static.  By stair 7?  No one can hear me talking (I can normally still hear others talking).  The problem isn’t what I hear but what others do not here- specifically- ME, when I’m downstairs.  If they ask a question before I get back to the third step heading back up, they think I’m not listening.  It’s super annoying.  With this hands free cordless phone system, I leave my cell where IT has great reception and pop the headset on- I’ve got that great reception all over my house, to the end of my driveaway and all the way to my garden.  I’m a little nervous to push it past the garden area but we do have a fairly big yard and I don’t know that I’d expect any phone to reach over an acre using bluetooth!

This phone comes with some great features- like you can opt to use the ear hooks with the cordless headset or you can hook it up to a head band (my choice).  I hate ear hooks. Maybe I haven’t found the right ones but none seem to work for me.  I love the head band because it feels more secure and the padding on the ear piece is much softer and more comfortable for me to wear.  You can also program this device to have your iPhone’s ringtone so you know when the call is coming to that phone as opposed to your land line (if you have one).  A bonus for people like me who set phones down everywhere is that the cordless headset charges right with the phone- so as long as I keep making a point of putting the headset to charge when we leave the house, I can find it with ease and also find it charged.

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How many times have you wanted to make a call from your cell and realized that the battery is almost dead- so you can either wait on the call or be stuck to the wall where it’s charging.  Neither option is very appealing to me- with this hands free cordless phone system, you can charge your phone by the base of your system and chat away while the phone charges- and you can wander about to get what you need done!

Other features:

  • Download Phonebook From Cell: Store 2000 records from up to two different cell phones; no need to input names and numbers into your cordless phone system.
  • Virtual Multi-Line Operation: Pair up to two cellular lines and one landline with your cordless system. Then, enjoy the freedom to make and receive calls on all three lines—all at once.
  • Make and receive landline and cellular calls: Connect to BLUETOOTH®-enabled cellular phones to make and receive cellular calls with the ease and comfort of a home phone system.

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I love this system- once I took the time to read the instructions through, I got things working smoothly in no time (I may or may not be a direction skipper). Setting up the bluetooth feature took mere seconds.  This hands free cordless phone set retails for about $99.95.  I’m signing off so I can go make more calls.  It’s like I have my own phone for the first time ever!!

Children’s Book about Divorce: This Love is Forever

Mavis Cohen sent me a copy of her children’s book about divorce called This Love is Forever for review.  Opinions are my (daughter’s) own. Mavis Prall Cohen wrote This Love is Forever when her daughter Lizzie was three years old and asked, “Why are we divorced?” Mavis wanted to give Lizzie an answer she could understand, and that would also reassure her she would always be loved. As a child of divorce herself, Mavis felt she knew what Lizzie needed to hear, and Mavis wanted to create lasting messages that Lizzie could revisit as often as she liked. Mavis also found that the positive messages helped her, as a mom, stay focused on what matters most during times of turmoil: her child’s well-being.

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The illustrations in this book were done by Lizzie Prall- who was one year old in 2000 when her parents split up, and at age three began asking her mother why the split had happened. Lizzie took comfort in the words her mother wrote for her, and years later when Mavis asked her to illustrate the book so that other families could benefit from its message, Lizzie agreed. Lizzie does not consider herself an expert artist, but the drawings are her vision of the words on the page. She is hoping this book will help other kids like her whose parents go through divorce.

This is what my turning-8-year-old-today has to say about this book:

So it explains about divorce and how some families stay together forever and some families get divorced.  But the most important thing about the book is that both the mom and the dad who got divorced both love the kid.  It’s lucky she has two houses but it’s not lucky her parents live apart. My friend has her dad in another town and her mom lives in our town and I think she should read this book so she knows other families are divorced too.  Once your parents are apart there’s nothing that can put them back together again and they can’t get fixed.  It has nothing to do with the child or children.  She doesn’t get to see her mom all the time since the divorce, and she can’t see her dad all the time.

My daughter’s favorite page and illustration, as well as mine, is the one pictured below- we both love the message the image sends, but also the verbiage on the page.  Talking about the best part of the marriage not only being present inside the child, but also how both parents still love that part of the marriage so much.  It really just embodies the message Ms. Cohen was trying to convey, in my opinion.

childrens-book-about-divorce-this-love-is-foreverIf you or someone you love is going through a divorce, I absolutely recommend that you share this book with them. It’s simple, it’s sweet, but it also conveys a message that I think children living through a divorce need to hear and hear often: the divorce had nothing to do with the children, and the love the parents have for the children doesn’t change at all because of the divorce. This is my favorite children’s book about divorce I’ve seen.

This Love is Forever is available on Amazon.com.

 

Magic Jinn Interactive Guessing Game #Giveaway

We received a MAGIC JINN interactive guessing game for review. We’re spending hours each day at the swim and tennis club we joined- the kids are in lessons but not always at the same time.  I like to have a bag of tricks, so to speak, with me, so that if there’s down time, the kids have something kind of quiet to do so they can chill for a bit.  I like the things in that bag of tricks to be light and portable, since I’m already lugging a huge cooler bag full of snacks, lunch and drinks to keep 3 busy kids fed and hydrated!!  The Magic Jinn game is perfect all around- it’s small, it’s lightweight, and definitely something the kids can wind down and play to get a little bit of quiet in their busy day.  ALL of the kids are loving this, and I am bound and determined that I will stump the Magic Jinn sooner or later.

My oldest did a video demo for Magic Jinn.  Watch and see if she stumps him or not.

 

Jinn has a funny voice- it took me a few moments to get used to it, the kids just think it’s funny how he sounds.  He also exaggerates some sounds more than others which does sound funny to all of us! A press of his nose gets things started- and just so you know, if his nose is pressed while in the bag of tricks…or any other bag…he’ll start chatting away whether you are playing or not….for a minute or so until he “realizes” you aren’t there to play. Then he’ll shut off.

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Age: 6+; Players: 1+; Available: Summer 2013; Approximate Retail Price: $19.99

Think of an animal and leave the rest up to MAGIC JINN! Be amazed as MAGIC JINN guesses your thoughts in this new interactive guessing game. Listen to a series of questions from MAGIC JINN to which you answer yes, no, I don’t know, or maybe. You may think you can stump MAGIC JINN, but he will magically try to guess the animal you are thinking of with his questions! MAGIC JINN is also available in an additional category of Food and Drink. Each sold separately. (Requires 3 AAA batteries – not included)

One reader will win a Magic Jinn interactive guessing game  toy of their own!

Rethink varicose veins #rethinkvaricose (Giveaway)

This is a sponsored post about varicose veins on behalf of The Motherhood.

More than 30 million Americans suffer from venous disease, including varicose veins and a more serious form of venous disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), yet only 1.9 million seek treatment each year. If left untreated, varicose veins can progress to become CVI with symptoms that worsen over time.

Rethink Varicose Veins is an educational campaign designed to encourage these 30 million Americans with venous disease to learn more about their conditions, obtain proper diagnosis and seeking treatment.

I have to tell you right now that until very recently, I thought that spider veins were the same as varicose veins. I was wrong.  If you have spider veins, you should seek professional advice, but they are indeed different from varicose veins- which is what we’re talking about today.

Varicose veins are not a cosmetic issue….they are a medical condition.  They can progress into Chronic Venous Insufficiency, which is even more painful than the varicose veins themselves can be.  (Like the varicose veins alone weren’t enough!?)  Thankfully, we live in a time when modern medicine has minimally invasive treatment options that can help to keep varicose veins from progressing into CVI.

Just because your Grandmother had varicose veins DOES mean you can get them- these can be a family trait passed down (yay! jackpot?) and the closer you get to Grandma’s age, the more the chance you will have those varicose veins.  (My grandmother didn’t share any venous genes with me.  Instead I got her saggy eyelid disease (which some medical professionals call dermatochalasis).  Just because I haven’t gotten the veins doesn’t mean I haven’t been given other special gifts from my family tree.  Summer Sanders, Olympic medalist, isn’t even immune to this condition.  She got her veins from her mom.

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Gentlemen, you aren’t off the hook.  You are not immune to this condition, although apparently, you probably won’t seek treatment until things have progressed further than the ladies.  (I also didn’t realize men could get in on this action.  I really didn’t.  But the more I learn, the more I pay attention to things, and even just this weekend at my kids’ swim meet with about 100? families, I saw 3 middle aged men who had visible varicose veins on their legs.  I’d never have noticed before, but that’s how things go with me. I’m oblivious until I’m aware, and then I notice it everywhere).  This is further evidence that I would be the worst guy ever- given how society seems to want tough men who don’t need to talk to their doctor about things- I’d be in there at vein sighting #1 and asking for treatment and diagnosis.  Probably carrying on to no end.

There is good news, my friends. I’m not just bringing gloom and doom to your day.  Varicose veins and CVI are medical conditions and as such, most insurance will cover treatment!  Compression stockings be damned!  (They aren’t an actual treatment for these conditions, so if you think calling the doctor means you’ll just be told to wear those lovely  stockings, don’t worry too much.  Compression stockings can help with symptom relief so you may not want to rule them out).  Really, our friend Sam went through a series of treatment procedures for her varicose veins last fall and she’s feeling SO much better and experiencing such a change in how she’s feeling.

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The Connection Between Varicose Veins + CVI

  • Varicose veins are one of the first signs of CVI

  • If left untreated, CVI can progress to worsening stages over time

  • Common CVI symptoms include:

    • Pain, aching, heaviness

    • Swelling of the legs

    • Restlessness and fatigue of the legs

    • Skin damage

    • Ulcers

Who’s At Risk?

  • Pregnancy

  • Prolonged Standing

  • Excess Weight

  • Age (50+)

  • Family History

  • Women are 2-to-3 times more likely than men to develop varicose veins, primarily due to pregnancy

Sponsored by Covidien, Rethink Varicose Veins wants to encourage  those with varicose veins or symptoms of CVI to learn more, get screened and find out about the treatment options available.

I encourage you to take advantage of the self-assessment to find out if you should visit a vein specialist for screening and treatment. Besides, doing the assessment lets you enter to win a spa trip for you and a guest (and why yes, I’d love to be your guest!)

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10 lucky readers will win a music download from Rethink Varicose Veins!  The giveaway is open worldwide and will be open until August 5, 2013.  Good luck!

Sparkle on every day with Glaceau fruitwater #sparklingtruth #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me about getting your sparkle on every day on behalf of Glaceau fruitwater®.  Sometimes, life throws us curveballs.  With 3 kids close in age, we have a lot of curveballs.  Like having to tell one of my kids- not for the first time- Please don’t lick the lobster tanks.  How do I get my sparkle on in that situation? I simply laugh and tell the folks around me who are laughing that we’re just building immunity one lick at a time.  What else can you do?

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Sometimes I think my kids maybe take the love yourself a little far.  A little.  Like loving themselves so much they tell the world all about themselves.  Without clothes on .  How do you sparkle then?  You laugh!  And laugh.  All while handing your child some clothes to cover up with.  You also learn to keep underpants in your car at all times for the kids…you never know when it will become apparent they are not wearing underpants yet again.

So far this summer, I’ve not spent much time at home at all.  Housework? Ha!  Well planned meals?  Not likely.  Actually, I did have some plans for meals.  Each time, we’ve had either a heat wave (and when there’s heatwave, my main sparkle is the glisten of the sweat on my brow since we have no central air) and on those days….we do take out or have sandwiches for dinner.

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This summer, instead of housework and meal plans…I’m spending time unplugged and enjoying my friends and my family. I’m moving, far more than normal, just by going back and forth getting kids where they need to be.  I’m playing, swimming and DOING the things that kids- and obviously, we parents- need to be doing in summer.  I’m eating and drinking healthier- without access to coffee all morning, I’m drinking more water and less caffeine.  I’m getting my sparkle on in the tiniest ways and feeling happier than I have in months.  It isn’t really much but the little things are all helping me get my sparkle on.  I get 40 minutes a day with each of my kids that I haven’t had in a really long time- that’s been pretty awesome.  Playing games, doing nails, playing foosball.  All of it keeps my sparkle on!

fruitwater-image-various-flavors

Thanks to Glaceau fruitwater, I’m also enjoying a calorie-free summer….with fun flavors like lemon-lime + other natural flavors, orange mango + other natural flavors, strawberry kiwi + other natural flavors.  No matter how hot and crabby I get, sipping  a fruitwater helps me feel like I’m treating myself, and helps me get my sparkle on again.

Glaceau fruitwater® is a great tasting, naturally flavored sparkling water beverage that contains no juice.

Now that you’ve read about my “sparkling truth”, it’s time to share yours! A sparkling truth is a moment when you sparkle through unexpected challenges, brushing yourself off in a bubbly style. How do you sparkle on when life throws you a curve ball? Leave a comment on this post or jump in the conversation on social media by tagging your amplification with the hashtag, #sparklingtruth.

Visit http://fruitwater.com for more information and to help you discover your favorite sparkling truths.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Glaceau fruitwater®.

Food Should Taste Good Chips

We buy Food Should Taste Good chips as a treat.  We don’t eat a lot of chips so when we do we want them to be great.  Food Should Taste Good sent me a sampling of their chips made with real ingredients.  The chips did not last long in this house.  The multigrain chips are my favorite and the Olive chips surprised me, they are really good.  Both sweet potato varieties got devoured by my husband and son.

Food Should Taste Good Chips

About FSTG

Founder Pete Lescoe created Food Should Taste Good, Inc in 2006 with the goal of making a unique new snack with great taste, real ingredients, and sophisticated flavor – the qualities he is most passionate about in food.

With a name that speaks for itself, Food Should Taste Good® chips are made from high quality ingredients. All chip varieties are gluten free, cholesterol free, have zero grams trans fats. They are also certified Kosher.  Plus, many varieties are certified vegan.

Food Should Taste Good® chips are available nationally at conventional grocers and natural food markets you can also buy them online at http://foodshouldtastegood.elsstore.com/.

Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato ChipsFood Should Taste Good has 16 varieties of Tortilla chips including; Blue Chip, Chocolate, Jalapeno, Kimchi and Lime.  The tortilla chips are crisp and hold up very well to dips and salsas.  They also carry four varieties of kettle chips; Barbeque Sweet Potato, Original Sweet Potato, Salt & Pepper Sweet Potato, and Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato.

Food Should Taste Good Chips

So, head on out and grab a few bags of Food Should Taste Good chips.

What flavor are you going to try?

Food Should Taste Good sent me product to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own.

Family Movie Nights & Summer Viewing with #NetflixFamilies #ad

This is a sponsored post about family movie nights written by me on behalf of Netflix. We aren’t big TV watchers during the summer months.  We spend most of our time outdoors.  But we do still like to have our family movie nights, no matter what time of year it is.  Netflix is usually where we head first to find a movie that matches our interests and that can be appropriate for all of us to watch.  We frequently struggle with finding a movie that will keep us all interested and entertained.  Since joining Netflix, and especially since we’ve discovered the Netflix Family page, we’ve had a far easier time choosing what movies we watch.  The kids love “Neck flicks” as they call it, because they can so easily find what they like to watch even if they can’t read all of the words in the title.  They are also miraculously able to find something to watch that all three can agree upon.  Well, sometimes. Tracking Pixel

Just this morning I had a lot of house stuff to do, things I’ve been neglecting because we’ve been summering it up and not home and inside to do the house stuff.  I came upstairs from doing laundry to find all three on the couch together, picking a show to watch on Netflix.  Sweet, right?  I had 45 minutes of peace and quiet to get some cleaning and organizing done with kids not getting into shenanigans. Worth it, and thank you Netflix!

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There is a  new Netflix.com/Families page which is available for both members and non-members- for those of you who haven’t (yet) joined, this is a great chance to see all that Netflix has to offer.  There are several categories on the Families page but our favorites?  Family Movie Night and TV for Curious Kids.  If you aren’t already a member, this is a really, really affordable way to access tons of movies, shows and documentaries without spending a lot (membership is $7.99 a month) and I’m finding that the more we explore Netflix, the more we like it.  We’re finding shows that we’d maybe not have watched because of what pops up on our Netflix pages!

netflix family movie night recommendations

 

netflix family recommendation

We don’t just enjoy family movie nights with Netflix Family of course- my littlest one split her little chin open a few weeks ago and we had a few visits to two different emergency rooms, and 2 additional doctor’s appointments.  That meant lots of waiting time, and especially with the first ER visit, we weren’t prepared- thankfully, I had my phone, and we have the Netflix app.  My little one was able to watch My Little Pony and parts of the Care Bears Movie which helped to calm her and keep her from touching her injured chin. The hospital does offer TV in the ER rooms but in the first, we weren’t able to find the remote to turn it on, and the second time, it was evening and past the time when little kids’ programming would be on.

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Netflix.com/Families is a new destination designed to meet your family’s summertime entertainment needs. On Netflix.com/Families, parents can find lists of movies and TV shows for all kinds of special summer moments. Visit www.Netflix.com/Families for more information on the best ways to stream as well as videos from families using Netflix.

What are your favorite family movies? Shows? I love recommendations!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Netflix.

My first blogging conference was a blast #blogherfood #afmpitcrew #iloveavocados

Last month I attended the BlogHer Food Conference in Austin Texas.  I’ve not been to a blogging conference before- I did get one day squeezed in last summer in NYC at BlogHer but honestly, there wasn’t much “conference” in my day and it was such a blur I don’t remember.  This year, Avocados from Mexico asked me to be part of their Pit Crew Team and were nice enough to fly me down the day before the conference started, and home the day after it ended so that I could enjoy the full experience of the conference.

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The BlogHer Food conference was held at the Austin Hilton, a quick (and hot!) ride from the airport.  Great accommodations, friendly, helpful staff and really nice sheets (I have this thing about hotel sheets and I love them).  Of course, I didn’t get to spend much time in my room but that’s ok.  The time I did spend, I was able to get some sound sleep (no noise from adjoining rooms), enjoy the views of Austin at night (so pretty) and even make myself some coffee in the morning while getting ready.  Definitely recommend visiting them!

I was really excited about the conference because I got to see a blogging friend I’ve met a few times on trips, and also meet several bloggers I’ve been friends with online for a while but since we live all over, never met in person before! It was awesome. I also met some of the PR folks I’ve worked with in different ways over the years…as well as many new ones.  This was a really nicely sized conference so I was able to visit booths and actually have meaningful conversations with people and chat with them about their brands, their products, and get to know them a bit in person.  Of course, being a food blogging conference, there were also many delightfully delicious snacks, beverages and goodies to sample at almost every booth and- well, if you go to a food blogging conference, wear loose fitting pants.

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Not the best quality photo but we were having oh so much fun!!

While in Austin, I got to enjoy some amazing Italian food at The Backspace with Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods- we actually got to meet and chat with Michael and his mom, who create each recipe for their brand themselves.  It’s a very family oriented business and they are really quite dedicated to what their product is and how they produce it.

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I should also mention here, since the above photo was taken with my iPhone, that two of the sessions I attended at BlogHer Food were about mobile photography and also editing with a smartphone.  The above photo was taken with my iPhone 5 and edited with the Snapseed app (avail. at the app store).  Not too shabby for a mobile phone pic, right?  In all seriousness, learning more about mobile photography and how it can really work and be used as a real tool for photography was really interesting and I loved learning more about it.

Brew Over Ice with Keurig- this was a booth I visited time and time again.  We’ve loved our Keurig for a while now, but it never even occurred to me that I could put ice in a cup and have fresh brewed lemonade, iced tea, iced coffee, energy drinks and more…it’s marvelous.  Plus, they gave out bendy straws with the cups….which had lids.  I was carrying many things and this was helpful to clumsy me.  I can’t even explain how I have brewed over ice since June.  Nor can I admit to you how many packages of the Snapple Lemon Iced Tea K-cups I’ve purchased.

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(Food) Photography- learned a whole lot about food photography, photography editing, and mobile photograph and editing.  I can’t believe I’m admitting this but I had the Snapseed app for almost 2 full years and kind of hated it, and then sat in a session where they showed us step by step what they did to edit a few photos on a screen and oh my gosh.  What a whole new world! I’m loving Snapseed.  (There really are a lot of great apps out there to help you edit photos on the go with your phone or tablet if you aren’t able to sit down and access your full editing software….and if you don’t have the budget for a fancy camera or fancy editing software, this is a really affordable alternative).

Parties- Apparently, blogging conferences include many parties.  Fun parties.  Parties in different places- I think I got to visit at least 10 different restaurants in Austin- something I’d never have done otherwise- and walking from location to location gave us a chance to really see how vibrant and fun the city is- always moving, and music everywhere you turn.  I’ve never been to Texas before, so every single part of this trip was new, fun and exciting to me.

Food- Big name brands, smaller brands, vegan, gourmet, mainstream, all kinds of brands and products were represented at BlogHer Food.  You will not walk far at a conference like this without some tempting food morsels calling out to you.  From basic to gourmet and everything in between,  we were able to sample things like Lentil Burritos (with bacon), Greek Yogurt Dips, Breakfast Sandwiches, Parfait desserts, main dishes, side dishes, hors d’oeuvres and more.

Live music is everywhere in Austin.  You can literally walk up and down a street and hear about 10 genres of live music playing.  For this not-very-well-traveled girl from Connecticut, this was just really awesome and so enjoyable.  I wish I’d gotten a photo of a guy we saw playing drums on 5 gallon buckets- it was amazing.  Just a ton of fun. I could spend a few weeks just wandering around enjoying the sights and eats of this city!

I also got to sit in on a session about blogger-brand-pr relationships which was just a really great conversation for ALL sides to have.  I think for those of us who are a blogger, a brand who works with bloggers, or a pr rep working with bloggers, it’s a good idea to hear the perspective from the others’ sides, and not just that of our peers.  I think we all often forget  in this day and age of email and digital media that there are actual people on the other end of the communication- people who may have some amazing ideas and suggestions to offer.

BlogHer Food is also where I took the #bingiton challenge and, I won’t lie, shockingly preferred Bing OVER Google 4/5 times…. and started my journey of breaking up with Google for my search engine.  If you hear me tell you to “Just Bing It,” now you know why. (If you take it, I’m curious to know what your result is- so please drop a note and let me know!)

I got to experience so many wonderful sights, sounds, dishes and interact with some amazing people thanks to my sponsor, Avocados from Mexico- and also got some ideas on different ways to incorporate avocado into my own dishes here at home- one particular recipe is coming next week, so be on the lookout!

Have you attended any blogging conferences? Which ones? How was your experience?