Ericka

Ericka is a Kansas City, African-American blogger. Her favorite things are: tacos, watching "The Big Bang Theory," and spending time with her family.

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The Best Natural Products For My Face, Skin, and Hair

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Today I’m sharing with you the best natural products for my face, skin, and hair. It seems like when I turned 30 my entire body started going out of wack. I gained weight, my hair started to change, my skin started to break out and dry patches started popping up on my body.

I went natural with my hair about two and a half years ago and was using a variety of products to tame it. As I started to stick with more homemade and organic products I slowly decided to use only real natural products on my hair.

Last summer when I went to New York my face broke out from a product I used and I cold turkey went all natural on my entire body. My products are fairly inexpensive and last a long time.

My favorite natural products for my face are:

Raw Black Soap:

Although black soap is very drying I like how it helps cleanse the impurities in my skin.  I use a very small amount of black soap each wash and gently wash my face with it. After I wash my face I splash my face with cold water to retain moisture. (note: I only wash my face with black soap every other day or every two days). I purchase my black soap from a local company called Bon Pour Moi I love their products and everything is fresh.

Aloe Vera Gel *(Updated)*:

For some reason my skin has been extremely dry. Lately I’ve been applying Lily of The Desert Aloe Vera Gel on my skin as a toner and immediately follow-up with the Rosehip Seed Oil. It has made my face less dry combining the two, and my face seems clearer. Note* I keep it stored in the refrigerator.

Rosehip Seed Oil:

I moisturize my face with Rosehip Seed Oil. After I wash my face I take a small amount of Rosehip Seed Oil and gently rub it into my face and neck. Rosehip Seed Oil is full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are known to correct dark spots, hydrate skin, and it helps reduce scars and fine lines. Note* I keep it stored in the refrigerator.

Clay Facial:

Once a week (or every other week) I use a clay facial mask. These masks help rid my skin of impurities, help keep my skin soft, and helps boost circulation.

Raw Honey:

At least once a week I wash my face with raw honey. I usually wash with water only in-between my black soap washes, but sometimes I use the raw honey. Raw honey works greatly on my skin because the sugars in the honey act as a natural humectant and emollient that increase the water content and reduce dryness in my skin.

Oil Cleanse:

Whenever my skin is feeling extremely dry I “oil wash” my face. I make a mixture of castor oil, grapeseed oil, and sweet almond oil, and rub it onto my face. Then I wet a white washcloth with the hottest water I can stand, wring it out and gently remove the oil from my face.

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My favorite natural products for my skin are:

Sappo Hill Oatmeal Bar:

I LOVE the Sappo Hill Oatmeal Soap Bar. The soap bar provides a gentle exfoliation to my skin every time I use it. It cleanses my skin and it smells delicious (they have an unscented bar). It’s paraben free, phthalate free, sls-free, detergent-free, vegan, and it’s cruelty-free.

Raw Black Soap:

About once or twice a week, I’ll cleanse my body with Black Soap to get rid of the impurities.

Homemade Body Oil:

I made a body oil to use on my body after taking a bath or shower. While my body is still damp I rub the oil into my skin. I made the oil using olive oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, Vitamin E, sweet almond oil, and a few drops of lemongrass (I love the citrus scent).

Body Butter:

When the weather is colder and my skin is dryer than normal I use a body butter by Bon Pour Moi, there are a variety of body butters to choose from, but I always get the unscented kind. It feels like silk on my skin. I only have to use a small amount and it moisturizes my entire body.

African Net Bath Sponge *(Updated)*:

I absolutely love this sponge! It works up a lather quickly without using a lot of product, and I’m able to throughly clean my back with the sponge. You can find it at most International Markets, or African shops.

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My favorite natural products for my hair are:

It took a long time to finally find natural products that really work well on my hair. When I first went natural I went through the stage of being a product junkie, but nothing ever seemed to work for me. After much research and trial and error, I finally found a regimen that works for me.

Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap Bar:

This olive oil soap bar can be used for your entire body but I use it as a shampoo. It has a decent lather and my hair doesn’t feel squeaky and depleted afterward. Every week I wash my hair and it feels clean and moisturized each time I wash.

Bentonite Clay:

I make a hair mask monthly to help remove toxins and impurities. It also leaves my hair clean and shiny. I mix the clay with apple cider vinegar and rub it through my hair. I put on a shower cap and let it sit awhile. Then I rinse it out and wash like normal. (make sure you don’t use metal bowls or utensils when working with Bentonite Clay).

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar:

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar can be used to clarify your hair. I also use it to mix in my monthly clay hair mask.

Grapeseed Oil/ Jojoba Oil:

I mix grapeseed oil and jojoba oil to use in my hair after washing. After I wash my hair, I finger detangle and use water as a conditioner followed by the oil mixture. Then I twist my hair and let it air dry.

Shea Butter:

I use shea butter on my hair when I need a heavier hold or my hair feels extra dry. Sometimes I whip it up to make it softer.

I hope that this post can help you out when choosing your own natural products. It has been a journey, but I’m finally satisfied.

I’ve always been very low maintenance but now that all of the products that I use on my skin and hair are natural, I feel a lot better.  Now I just have to find some really great natural makeup products and my all natural transition will be complete.

What are some of your favorite natural products?

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Tips For Visiting The Statue of Liberty

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This past summer I got to cross visiting the Statue of Liberty off of my “Bucket List.” Growing up, I’ve always wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty. So, when I found myself in New York I knew I had to take a trip to see it.

I was at a blogging conference and already told myself that I was going to see the Statue of Liberty before leaving New York. That was my number one thing to do while there. I asked a few of the other bloggers were they interested in going and no one was, so I got a Lyft and headed to Battery Park.

Everything didn’t go as planned so I decided to share some tips to help you plan your visit to Lady Liberty:

Tips for Visiting The Statue of Liberty

1. Plan Ahead

This is a biggie! I strongly recommend that you plan your trip in advance. If you secure your reservation in advance you’ll be able to select your desired level of access and eliminate the need to wait in line to purchase tickets.

The day I went was super packed and I had to wait in a long line to get my ticket, plus they sold out of tickets to go inside of the statue so I only was able to visit the ground level.

2. Figure Out The Ticket Types Available

There are a variety of ticket types to consider when planning your trip to the Statue of Liberty. Some of those tickets include.

Grounds Only: This ticket is one of the most available tickets. Because advanced reservations are required to visit the crown and pedestal, Grounds Only tickets are the only tickets you’re able to purchase when reservations are full.

Pedestal Ticket: Pedestal tickets allow you to access the inside of the pedestal, museum, and the Fort Wood level. A limited number of Pedestal tickets are available each morning at the ticket office locations, but leftover reservations are often distributed before the first ferry departure.

Crown Ticket: Crown tickets allow you to access the crown, the pedestal, the museum, and the Fort Wood level. Crown tickets are limited and advanced reservations are required. If you want to visit the crown I suggest reserving as soon as possible because some people reserve them up to six months in advance.

All tickets include the ferry ride to the islands. The ferry takes about 15 minutes each way so make sure you allot plenty of time to visit The Statue of Liberty Island and Ellis Island. You can find more information and purchase tickets here.

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3. What To Pack

When visiting the Statue of Liberty I suggest bringing a lightweight jacket, sunglasses, and sun hat (if you sit outdoors) during the summer. You have to take a cruise to get to the islands and the breeze from the water is cold (well, at least, to me it is). I suggest a sun hat if you’re sensitive to the sun because it’s a possibility you’ll be sitting outside with the sun beaming on your head for at least 15-30 minutes.

I also suggest packing a bottle of water and a few snacks if you don’t plan on spending any extra money. Each island has a cafe and food carts to purchase snacks from, but they are overpriced in my opinion.

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4. Pack Lightly

When you visit the Statue of Liberty, before you board the ferry you have to go through a metal detector. The lighter you pack the quicker you’re able to get through to the other side. Plus the museums don’t allow you to bring backpacks or huge bags inside. (more details here)

I had my big purse with me and when I put my bag on the belt to go through the metal detectors someone stole one of my lenses. So I highly recommend packing light, keep everything with you, and watch your stuff closely when walking through the detectors.

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5. Have Fun!

The Statue of Liberty is beautiful! When you plan your trip allot time to just chill and enjoy the sight. I couldn’t believe I was standing at the foot of the statue I’ve always wanted to visit.

I took tons of photos and lounged around, I also got some ice cream and took pictures of people who asked me to take a picture of them with their phone.

There are a lot of places to take pictures and enjoy the view. Right across the water is the view of the Freedom Tower.

If you’re ever in New York this is a must see adventure!

Oh, one last thing, if you need a ride you can get a $50 credit for signing up with Lyft, and it should make your ride FREE, heck multiple free rides.

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This post is not sponsored. All photography was taken by me and cannot be duplicated, reproduced, or used without permission.

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Rose Colored Things I Like




I know I’m super late getting into this whole “femininity” thing, but lately I’ve been feeling really girly. I actively want to dress better and look nice all of the time. No more waking up throwing on yoga pants and leaving the house. After watching the entire season of Fuller House in two nights and seeing DJ’s style, I was like I need to get it together. I want to wear cute jeans, booties, tops (yes, tops, not sweatshirts, or tees), dresses, and skirts. I want to be immersed in learning how to wear makeup and have tons of cute accessories. Ya’ll one day I tried to make my eyebrows “on fleek” and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty, lol.

The issue is… I have NO style, for the most part, well at least I don’t think so. I know there are some things that I like, but I’m not able to look at an item and mix & match and make multiple outfits with the same items, etc. I just don’t have an eye for it.

One thing that I’m really loving lately, though, is the color Rose. I love, love, love it. It’s so pretty and feminine and makes me smile (seriously). It’s soft, but not too soft and I’m pretty sure it’s a staple item (I’m learning about those), well a least in my wardrobe it will be. I came up with a list of my favorite rose colored items. I hope that you enjoy these items. It was hard to narrow them down to just nine, but I didn’t want to have you clicked through thirty items, lol.

One of my favorite items that I’ve been using since I was a teen is the Bigelow Rose Salve, omg, it smells so good, and keeps my lips soft.

Why hello there mirrored iphone 6 plus case
Burberry Lip Definer
Rouge Pur Couture Satin Radiance Lipstick
Dior Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer/0.33 oz.
Michael Kors Large Hoop Earrings
C.O. BIGELOW Rose Salve Lip Balm
Bobbi Brown Women’s Blush – Rose-Colorless
Linda Farrow Aviator-Style Rose Gold-Plated Mirrored Sunglasses
Kate Spade New York Gramercy Bracelet Watch

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12 MUST Take Day Trips From Phoenix, Arizona

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Arizona is often described as a land of contrasts because of its changing scenery and activities. You can swim and play tennis in the morning in Phoenix, then spend the afternoon fishing, hiking or sightseeing in the cool pines of the White Mountains. In March, you can even snow ski in Flagstaff in the morning then don shorts for a spring training game in Phoenix the same evening.

With its central location, Greater Phoenix is ideally positioned for day trips around the state. The following driving tours are easily accessible from the heart of the city. Here are 12 day trips you MUST take from Phoenix, Arizona:

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Grand Canyon

One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon offers spectacular vistas of canyon walls that have been sculpted from the earth over the millennia by the mighty Colorado River. The shifting sun creates a palette of constantly changing colors, from deep russet to pale pink, from washed granite to golden brown. The South Rim is open year-round.

Experience it through nature walks and mule rides into the Canyon, or by driving around its scenic edge. The North Rim is open from mid-May through October, depending on weather conditions, and lodging is available.

The Grand Canyon is a 3½-hour drive from Phoenix. Take Interstate 17 north from Phoenix to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff take Route 180 northwest to the Canyon.

Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon

The cultural community of Sedona is a mecca for art lovers and collectors. Surrounded by the towering red sandstone cliffs of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona’s deep red-rock buttes provide a beautiful backdrop to boutiques and art galleries selling authentic Native American and Southwestern arts and crafts. Visit Tlaquepaque (pronounced Tah-la-key-pock-ee), a shopping village named after asmall Mexican town that was once that country’s leading producer of crafts and glassware. While in Sedona, explore the area via an airplane or helicopter tour, a hot-air balloon ride or a jeep tour.

Sedona is a 2-hour drive from Phoenix. Take Interstate 17 north from Phoenix to Junction  179 Exit for Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon and enjoy the pure, breathtaking beauty of the Oak Creek Canyon area.

Prescott

Prescott, founded after the discovery of gold in 1863, was the first permanent capital of the Arizona Territory. While in Prescott, stop at the Sharlot Hall Museum complex. See the first territorial governor’s mansion, the historic 1857 John C. Fremont House and the restored 100-year-old Bashford House. Yavapai County Courthouse is a must-see attraction in Prescott. The courthouse is located in the charming town square and conveniently surrounded with antique shops, restaurants and hotels. But, the most famous section of the square is Whiskey Row, located on Montezuma Street. Whiskey Row got its nickname during the mining days when nothing but saloons occupied the street.

The fastest route to Prescott from Phoenix is north on the Black Canyon Freeway (Interstate 17) to Cordes Junction, then northwest on State Route 69. Prescott is approximately a two-hour drive from Phoenix.

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Flagstaff

Flagstaff is home of Northern Arizona University and located 146 miles north of Phoenix on Interstate 17. A visit to the Lowell Observatory atop Mars Hill, where the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930, is recommended. The Museum of Northern Arizona features an extensive exhibit of Native American art. Snow skiers will find great conditions at Arizona Snowbowl, located in the majestic San Francisco Peaks. For some unique hiking try Lava River Tube, a short three-fourths mile underground cave. Bring your own flashlights and have fun exploring.

Flagstaff is just 2 ½ hours from Phoenix.

White Mountains

Arizona’s White Mountains, located in the eastern part of the state, offer a variety of attractions in a climate 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix. With an elevation of 9,000 feet, summer activities include golfing, camping, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and just relaxing. In winter, the White Mountains become just that— white. Sunrise Ski Resort offers outstanding ski runs and other winter sports opportunities, including snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross country skiing. Much of the White Mountains area is on Native American land, including the Hon-Dah Casino. Rodeos, cultural festivals and parades are common events in the White Mountains region.

The White Mountains area is a four-hour drive from Phoenix with a wide range of accommodations available.

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Apache Trail

This world-famous trail was used by Apache Indians as a short-cut through the mountains to reach early Salt River settlers. The trail twists through the back of the Superstition Mountains from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake and the town of Globe. The majority of the trail is unpaved but can be easily driven by most vehicles. The trail features volcanic debris, cliff-sided canyons, sparkling lakes, towering saguaro cacti and a vast array of wildflowers. The mountains are generally uninhabited, so take along plenty of water. The ghost town of Goldfield, the Old Western town of Tortilla Flat (population 6), the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, Tonto National Monument and Weavers Needle Lookout are a few interesting points along the trail. Other scenic stops include The Lost Dutchman State Park (perhaps you can find the legendary lost gold mine) and Roosevelt Dam.

The Apache Trail is a four-hour round trip from Phoenix. Directions: Leave Phoenix via U.S. 60 to the Apache Trail. Turn left on Arizona Highway 88 to the Apache Trail. After passing Roosevelt Dam and Tonto National Monument, make the return loop to Phoenix via U.S. 60.

Mogollon Rim

This magnificent geological fault, named after Jean Ignacio Flores Mogollon, governor of Mexico (1712-1715), is referred to locally as the “rim.” The dramatic face of the rim is a multi-colored wall of rock, dotted by pine, manzanita and shrub oak. This giant wall of rock jutted upward a mile above sea level when the earth’s surface shifted thousands of years ago. The rim was made famous by author Zane Grey who hunted and fished in this beautiful area. It served as inspiration for many of his novels.

From Phoenix the rim is a two-hour drive. Take Highway 87 northeast of Phoenix to Payson. Just beyond Payson, turn right on Highway 260. Continue 31 miles past Tonto Creek (a great place to picnic) to the Woods Canyon Lake exit. Turn left at the sign and you’ll be on the Old Rim Road. The road becomes an unpaved forest highway and frequently winds within a few feet of the fault line, providing a breathtaking view of the rim.

Lake Powell

Located 282 miles from Phoenix (about a five-hour drive) is Lake Powell. While a bit farther from Phoenix than some destinations, the drive to Lake Powell is well worth the time. The lake is 186 miles long and claims 1,960 miles of shoreline, more than the entire Pacific Coast of the United States. The lake is held back by Glen Canyon Dam, which has enough concrete to build a four-lane highway from Phoenix to Chicago. Water sports of all kinds are popular on the lake— fishing, water skiing, boating, swimming, etc.

Although Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas provide outstanding accommodations with spectacular lake views, adventurous types may opt for a houseboat rental. Houseboats range from 36-foot vessels with basic amenities to 56-foot crafts with everything you’d find at a resort hotel.

Lake Powell is one of the most-popular attractions in the National Park Service system, attracting 3.5 million visitors a year.

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Montezuma Castle and Well

This impressive ancient Native American cliff dwelling is nestled high above Beaver Creek and is more than six centuries old. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, for whom the castle is named, never saw the famous structure. The Sinaguas, Pueblo Indians who moved into Greater Phoenix during the 12th century, built the dwelling from limestone and adobe. When white settlers saw it years later, they concluded only Aztecs could have designed the castle and named it accordingly. The structure was built on a steep cliff to protect the Native Americans’ property rights. About seven miles northeast of the castle on the Park Service Road is Montezuma Well, a limestone sink hole with a natural spring used by Native Americans for irrigation. The well still provides nearby Beaver Creek with a daily water supply of more than a million gallons. The well is 55 feet deep and 368 feet wide. From the parking lot at the well, follow the trail to the surrounding plateaus– the result of volcanic lava flows.

To get to Montezuma Castle, take Interstate 17 north to the Montezuma Castle turnoff just past Verde Valley. This is a three-hour round-trip.

Tucson

Just 111 miles south of Phoenix, amid rolling foothill terrain, is Tucson, affectionately known as the “Old Pueblo.” Where Pima Indians, Spanish conquistadors and adventurous Mexican settlers once lived, stands a culturally rich city that celebrates its past with colorful festivals and fiestas. Among the intriguing excursions enticing visitors are a drive to Sabino Canyon and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. South of Tucson is the San Xavier del Bac Mission, the “White Dove of the Desert.” Built almost 300 years ago by Spanish missionaries, the statuesque white church is still used as a spiritual center for the Papago Indians.

Visitors are welcome to explore this remarkable blend of architectural styles that is considered one of the finest Spanish colonial structures in the United States. Tucson is two hours south of Phoenix on Interstate 10.

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Bisbee

3 ½ hours south of Phoenix is the small town of Bisbee. Formerly the largest city between San Francisco and St. Louis in the early 1900s, Bisbee was home to one of the most profitable mines. Travelers from all over come to Bisbee to savor its unique charm… an uncommon blend of creativity, friendliness, style, romance and adventure— all wrapped in the splendor of the Old West. Stop by one of Bisbee’s museums such as the Museum of the Bizarre or the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. If you are looking for an exciting and heart racing tour, try a ghost tour through some of Bisbee’s most haunted buildings and allies.

Tombstone

Tombstone was a mining boomtown in the 1880s. The town was named by Ed Schieffelin when his friends told him he would find his tombstone instead of his fortune. The mine was only open for seven years before water levels forced the mine to close. Even though the mine was not open long the town still remains, complete with historical buildings and artifacts from the late 1800s. There are a number of gunfight shows in town and stagecoach and wagon tours, as well as a wealth of unique shops.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Travel down to Kartchner Caverns State Park and enjoy a memorable cave tour. The cave was only discovered in 1974 by two young spelunkers at the base of the Whetstone Mountains. The cave features one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites, the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall, and the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk. There is something for children of all ages to do. The Cave is open year round for tours.

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Go Blog Social Recap

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This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first Go Blog Social conference, thanks to my incredible sponsor Acorn Influence.

I’ll be honest, I had never considered going to the conference. I thought it wasn’t anything I was interested in. My entire perspective changed when I received an email from Acorn Influence stating they were interested in sponsoring 10 bloggers to attend the conference. I thought about it and quickly responded (I mean, who turns down a chance to get free education about a topic they care about, hence, blogging…).

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My first thought upon entering The Gallery Event Space (where the event was held), was wow, this set up is amazing. I’ve been to three different events at The Gallery Event Space and each time the space looks drastically different. This time it was bright, and airy, and full of cute boutique tables.

I had breakfast and networked with the other bloggers while waiting for the conference to start. I was excited to see one of my favorite blogging buddies Jacob at the conference and took a seat next to him.

The first session was a photography workshop by Allison Corrin, where she explained how to use your DSLR properly. The second session was Business & Legal Basics with KC Fashion Week, where we gained a wealth of knowledge about how to start your business, the forms to fill out, sample contracts, and more.

The third session was “From Blog to Biz with Fashion Column Twins.” The twins started off as bloggers and eventually branched off and created their own apparel line “localE.” (pictured below). OMG, the shirts are sooo cute! I can’t wait to purchase one.

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The beautiful flower arrangements on the tables were from “The Bloom Academy.” The Bloom Academy had a station set up where attendees were able to create floral crowns (check out the one I created at the bottom of the post). The Bloom Academy also has various workshops throughout the year to help you create arrangements, floral crowns, and more. They sell out quickly so you have to sign up asap. I can’t wait until the next class.

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Some of the vendors at the event were:

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Hand & Land

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My Fete Box

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Leigh & Marie

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The Bloom Academy

Lunch was hosted by The Gallery Event Space. After lunch we learned a plethora of SEO Tips & Tricks from Kelly Rivard, Hallmark’s SEO Strategist.

Acorn Influence spoke about Influencer Campaigns and gave insight on what networks are looking for when they select bloggers for the network and the process they go through when choosing bloggers for campaigns .

The Keynote speaker was Jade Roper from The Bachelor. I’ve never watched the show but she seems like a nice and fun person. She spoke on Social Influence and shared various ways her and her husband get paid from their social media influence.

My Take 

A lot of information presented at the conference I already knew, but there was a lot of information I didn’t know (especially from the legal side of things). I thought each session was well prepared. The staff put a lot of thought and preparation into this conference. It was excellent! I’m so glad that I got the chance to go. I left feeling very inspired to go after the things I want in life.

If you are just starting off blogging then I highly recommend this conference. Plus everything was just so cute, I mean, what other conference would you be able to make cute floral crowns? lol. The conference is affordable and you learn a lot of information.

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The gift bags were so cute and had items from, Curio Press, SkinnyPop, Minted, Bootights, iBlog magazine, Kendra Scott, Squarehue, Indie Olive, Go Big Workshops, Ocean & Sea, and Kevin Murphy.

Are you planning on attending any blog conferences this year?

My next one is BlogHer16 in Los Angeles, August 4-6.

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