Organizing for Blogher

Are You Going To Blogher This Year?

Blogher is a conference for bloggers.  This year it is being held in New York City.  It tends to be a conference in it’s own league for bloggers.  It is big and busy and oodles of Brands show up.


Why are all the Brands (Companies) there?  They realize the value of the blogger and they want awesome bloggers to try, review, experience and hopefully write about their product or service.

Blogher has been known not only for it’s awesome classes to help bloggers learn more about bloggers, but also for many Brand events and parties which also yield  swag.  Not just a little swag…. but a whole LOT of swag.  Why is this important?  Because it brings on an entirely different slant when you are packing for a trip there vs packing for a return trip home.  Does everyone like this component to this conference? Of course not, many people wish that they did away with all the swag (and maybe one year they will).  Like it or not, if you are a blogger, and you attend events, you will be handed bags full of swag. (If you choose not to accept them, that is your decision). You need to prepare ahead of time on how you will get it home. If you are flying or taking a bus or driving in a car full of other bloggers, and you want to keep most of the swag, I can guarantee you will not have enough room.

Planning ahead will help.

Make a packing list

Being prepared ahead of time, makes packing a simple process.  I prepare mine on excel.  Think through all the items you will need.  I also like to make a selection of items that go in my backpack or purse when I fly or travel.  It’s easy to forget things like clearing out your purse of any items you can’t take onto a plane, like nail clippers or mace.

blogher packing list

Charge Electronics Before You Leave

Because we are all involved in social media, we have a lot of electronics we deal with. Phones, laptops, ipads, cameras and video recorders. Of course all of these items need to have chargers and or batteries.  I always make sure to charge everything before I leave home, so that I will be able to work on my flight or bus ride.

Be sure to write down all the devices you will need, including chargers, connectors and download cords.  I suggest bringing an extension cord and power strip if you want to use your laptop or ipad on the go.

Label all your cords & connectors!

Gather Your Business Necessities

blogher packing

Bring your business cards, and plenty of them!
I also suggest either having all of your events and conference pass, hotel confirmation, flight confirmation printed out for safety. I keep them in a sleeve for easy access. I know that most of you keep them on your phones, and that might be enough for you. But consider if your phone was lost, broken or the connection lost. What would you need to have (confirmation wise) that you would not be able to access?    I print mine out and keep them in a folder in my backpack.   I also have a calendar of all the places I’m supposed to be and when I’m supposed to be there.




Decide what your travel regulations are for the size and weight of your suitcase.  Most airlines charge for your bags and if you go over their weight limit then you pay a premium on top of your normal fee.

Since I’m taking the Megabus to NYC from PA for the first time, I’m learning their regulations are even tighter.  There is a 50 pound weight limit and size limit.  If your bag weighs too much or is too big, it isn’t as easy as paying more to take it – they simply won’t let you even ride the bus! You will be booted!  I also can probably take my backpack on the bus, but I can’t carry my backpack and a purse.


Plan your outfits to reuse as many clothing items as you can (without being all stinky and dirty of course). Jackets, skirts, pants and shoes.  Check into laundry facilities or service at your hotel before you leave to see if this is an option to reuse some of your items that need laundered first.

Be sure to roll as many items as you can to fit down along the edges.  This can be a real space saver.

I pack my heaviest bulkiest items on the bottom and then work and fit in the smaller items.

If you think you will not have enough room for some swag to take home, you might want to consider throwing in a roll of packing tape and maybe a broken down box, and sharpie marker. It will come in handy in order to mail items home. It will also give you a limit on what you can mail home.

Once you have prepared yourself completely, you can relax and enjoy Blogher with all your social media friends!


This post is also posted on the Collective Bias blog.    I am attending Blogher12 as an employee of Collective Bias and also as a blogger.

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Black Raspberry Jam

July 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Food

Making Black Raspberry Jam

We decided to try making black raspberry jam from the fresh black raspberries that we pick at the farm.  Each year at the farm we get black raspberries this time of year.  We had a bumper crop this year.  Alex is picking some. As you can see, there are a lot that aren’t ready yet. The red ones will be turning black by next weekend. But there were still plenty to pick this weekend.

black raspberries

We had the kids helping along with one of Elise’s friends.  I didn’t pick many, I took pictures though! lol

picking black raspberry

All of us got a little scratched up trying to get through the thick brush and thorns.  Dave was blazing a path with a machete, so that helped.

picking berries

picking berries

Look at how big some of them are. But not all of them were that big.

black raspberries

We ended up with 21 cups of berries!

black raspberries

We have never canned anything, but decided we wanted to try.  We bought a canning book and canning jars, a basic kit that has the tongs to get the jars in and out of the boiling water. That is a must in my book.

I washed all of them first.

canning jars

As we prepared the black raspberry jam we heated up the jars in the hot water bath so that the jars didn’t break when we  poured in the jam.

canning jars

Black Raspberry Jam Recipe (as per the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving)

9 cups of crushed black raspberries (we started out with 9 cups of berries, but once we mashed them we had to add about 3 more cups!)
6 cups of sugar
Add the berries and sugar to a large pot.  Bring to a boil slowly.  Stir the whole time, dissolving all the sugar.
Cook rapidly to the gelling point (we had to look up what a gelling point was – it’s kind of hard to explain so you might want to look it up, but you use a spoon and the jelly, jam will break away from the spoon in a sheet or a flake.
Stir frequently as it thickens and then remove from heat.
Skim foam if necessary (it was necessary for us)
Pour the jam into the jars (we used the funnel and a ladle) and leave 1/4 inch of room from the top.
Put on the lid and then place into boiling water for 15 minutes. Be sure there is 1-2 inches of water above the top of the jars at all times.

Dave had the kids both helping.


We mashed the berries and that is when we discovered that we need a lot more berries than we thought. We started out figuring out 9 cups of berries, not 9 cups of crushed berries.  It took about 12 cups of berries to equal 9 cups of crushed berries. Just so you know.


Looks yummy doesn’t it?

black raspberry

Once it was ready we put it into the jars.


Once we filled the jars, we put them into the boiling water bath for 15 minutes.


black raspberry

We got five 4 oz jars and 4 pints.

black raspberry jam

Love the little 4 oz jars for gifts. They are just so cute! We’ve given all those away already.

black raspberry

The black raspberry jam came out really good.  I might suggest adding a little bit of pectin next time to thicken it up just a bit more. It’s a little on the runny side, in my book. My Dad didn’t think so at all though, so maybe it is a matter of preference.

We had a great time picking the berries and making the jam. The kids were really proud that they got to pick the black raspberries and then make jam from them!


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Downtown Disney

Shop Downtown Disney!

Downtown Disney is nice because you don’t have to pay to go in.  Parking is free, entrance is free, it’s just a nice place to be able to shop and take pictures and eat!

downtown disney

The Lego store there is the coolest one I’ve ever been to.  The Lego sculptures are amazing, like the dragon in the water.  Elise had never seen anything like them.

downtown disney

We went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner.  It was around 3:30pm, so you could consider it either a late lunch or early dinner. We got a seat (which I was thrilled but surprised at, even at 3:30pm).  What a cool experience for a child (and adult!)

rainforest cafe

rainforest cafe

We did some pin trading with the Disney employees.  Did you know that the employees who have pins on a vest or lanyard will trade you any authentic Disney pin for free?  You decided which one of theirs you want and you can pick any of your pins to trade back. It is so cool, you ask one and a couple others in the area will come up and show you their pins.  Elise and I both had fun doing that.  One of the things I did on another trip was to buy some of the “surprise” dollar bag of pins at the counter and use those to trade with. This time I had ordered some trading pins off the internet for Elise to have fun with.

We had some Ghirardelli  ice Cream after dinner. Yum!

We did some shopping in one of the Disney stores and bought the boys a couple pins for their lanyards since they weren’t with us.

There is a new T-Rex restaurant that looked cool. We didn’t go in, but by the looks of the line, it looked popular.

Downtown disney

We had a lovely evening at Downtown Disney. This is an easy must do on any day of your trip. I’m glad we did go in the afternoon rather than in the evening, because a storm let loose right as we were leaving.



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5 SEO tips

SEO tips

Does the term SEO make you crazy? You hear one thing at one conference or from one source and something completely different from someone else. I have been to many conferences and I’ve heard a LOT of contradictions.

It always seem totally over whelming to me to think about going through my zillion of blog post and changing things.  I am far from an expert, so there may be things you disagree with on this post.  Feel free to let me know, I’m always learning.

I did want to share a few tips I’ve learned from an SEO plugin (I guess) on my wordpress site.  I have been trying to understand the whole “No Follow” bit and I’m not totally there, but realize I have to go back through all my posts and make my links no follow links.  (ewwww.. )

But as I’ve been going through (only about 65 posts so far) and making these adjustments, I’ve noticed that my Alexa score has been decreasing again.  It has been gradually going up the last couple months and the only thing I’ve changed in the last few days are these SEO tips I’m going to share.

When I go into my dashboard of my WP site and click on “All Posts”, I get a list of all my blogs.  They now either have a Gray, red, yellow or green dot after them.   This post has a red dot.  One of the things I had been messing up was that awhile back I was told to use all of my “Tags” as Keywords. I’ve been copying and pasting my entire list of tags to the keyword spot forever.  I now know that it wants just one keyword.



1) Keyword

  • Use in the title of your post
  • Use in the first paragraph of your blog post
  • Use it several times throughout the post
  • Use it in at least some of your descriptions/alt tags on your images.
  • If you adjust your title of your posts, then make sure you also adjust your url (permalink)
You can see the WordPress SEO by Yoast that is now on my blog.  Under the Focus keyword it will be red (if you haven’t done it right) or green if you have adjusted correctly.




2) Meta Description

I’ve never added a meta description before because I know that it will pick up your first sentence and use it.  But the SEO seems to like it, so I’ve been adding one now.  (I don’t know if it really is necessary or not)

seo tips


3) No Follow Links

Make out going links “no follow” links.  I wish I could tell you all the “ins and outs” of this, but I can’t.  Here is a post that Jerra from Collective Bias did on No Follow links that may help.

Add    rel=”nofollow”  right before the word “Target” in the outgoing link.   Here is an example:   The above link that I just added for “No Follow Links is this (although I didn’t finish the link out, because I didn’t want to make it a no follow since this is your example. lol

<a title=”No Follow Links” href=”” target=”_blank”>…..

I am going to put the  rel=”nofollow”  right after the  ” and before the word target … so it will look like this:

<a title=”No Follow Links” href=””rel=”nofollow”  target=”_blank”>…..


4) Length of your Blog Post

Your post need to be over the 300 word count.  This post is already 561 on the word count, so I’m fine.

word count

5) Outbound Links

Try to have at least one outbound link. I have one in this post and you can see that listed in the line items this guide gives you.   Here is what I’m being told about this blog post.


Once you have finished your post, you should have a green dot by it… like this post.

blog post


I know there is a ton more things that you can do for SEO, but I wanted to give you just a few to help with your blog post.

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Universal Studios

July 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Attractions to See, Blog, Explore Florida, Travel

Who doesn’t love Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida?

universal studios

Our last day of vacation and we had our day planned for Universal Studios.  The weather was great, a little cooler with a nice breeze.  We went to the ET ride first. The ET ride was so fun. Riding our “bikes” on a chase and then we took off flying. lol… so fun.

universal studios

universal studios

We had to stop by the Barney display.

universal studios

We talked about going into Men in Black, but the line was too long, so we walked on by.   We did go into the Twister show.  It was strange seeing all the special effects they used to make you feel like you were in a real twister.

Onward to Island of Adventure.  I think we had a little more fun over there than we did at Universal Studios.

island of adventure

We made our way around most of the park because we wanted to see the Harry Potter castle.

cat in the hat

We bought Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3 T-shirts for the triplets…. how fun.  Everything in the Cat in the Hat area was so cute and fun.

island of adventure

We went on to The Lost Continent area…. a really neat looking area.

universal studios

We got to the Harry Potter Hogwarts. I thought we could tour through it. There was some kind of simulator ride inside. I often don’t do so well with those because I get motion sickness… so what do I let Elise talk me into instead?….

harry potter

A roller coaster! LOL  Now does that make any sense?  It was out near Hogwarts.  I think Elise had a fun time on it…. I survived it. lol

There were several things about Universal Studios that I really liked.  Parking was in a parking garage.  It was nice to come back to my car and not have it be SO hot inside.   They also seemed to be better at trying to help you stay cool while you waited in lines. There were more fans and covered waiting areas, that we experienced.  It wasn’t nearly so crowded either…. all of what made the day seem much nicer.

We had a one day 2 park pass that was complimentary thanks to Universal Studios.  The opinions and pictures were all my own.

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Mesothelioma – A Guest Blog

July 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Health & Safety

Heather Von St James is sharing her journey with cancer today. She found out she had Mesothelioma soon after giving birth to her daughter.  For those who know me, you know I have a great fear of cancer, after my Mom died from melanoma (skin cancer). So when Heather wrote and asked if she could share with my readers, her story… I was more than happy to have her share her story.

Mesothelioma – The Importance of Support During Cancer

by Heather Von St James


August 4, 2005 was one of the happiest days of my life. That was the date that my husband and I welcomed our little bundle of joy, Lily, into the world. My pregnancy was smooth, and I was amazed by how much love I felt for my little girl as soon as she was born. My husband and I were not the only ones who immediately fell in love with Lily. Our family members and friends rejoiced with us, and they were there to support us through the exhaustion of caring for a newborn.

I never would have guessed how much I would need to rely on the kindness of others later in that year. I returned to work when Lily was about a month old and I began to realize that I was not feeling right. I could not shake the feeling of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, and I became short of breath while performing normal tasks. When the sickness did not go away, I decided to visit my doctor. He ordered numerous tests to try to determine what was wrong.

On November 21, 2005, my world was turned upside down. On that day, my doctor informed me that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I did not really know anything about this disease, but it is a form of cancer normally caused by asbestos exposure. I found out that I had come into contact with asbestos when I was young, and this exposure had now come back to drastically affect my life.

When I heard the word “cancer,” all I could think about was my baby girl. She was only three and a half months old, and the doctor told me I had a life expectancy of only 15 more months without treatment. I gritted my teeth and determined to fight this cancer with everything that I had.

My husband and I decided that I should seek treatment with a mesothelioma specialist in Boston. During this time, my parents took Lily to live with them in South Dakota. Being across the country from my growing daughter is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to endure. I was forced to watch her grow through pictures instead of experiencing her milestones for myself.

On February 2, 2006, my doctor performed anextrapleural pneumonectomy. The surgery removed my entire left lung and all of the surrounding tissue, and the recovery was painful. After over two months of recovery, I also underwent radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

There were times when I was not sure if I would make it, but I am proud to say that I am now free from cancer. I cannot take all the credit for this victory because I had help from countless people along the way.

During my cancer journey, I found out that I had a wonderful support system in my life. It is comforting to know that there are people who will do anything to help you when you cannot help yourself. Now that I am on the other side of cancer, I am determined to do what I can to provide support to other mesothelioma sufferers.

Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others. Check out more of her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog


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Time Management

Clutter Messes with Your Time Management

Does Clutter Make me Late? You would be surprised at home you manage your time can be influenced by clutter around your house.

cluttered office


Clutter can make you late!

“What, do you mean by that?” you may say. But clutter and time management can go hand in hand as a problem.
“Where are my keys? I know I just laid them here, maybe they are under this stack of mail.” “I just need to grab that report for the meeting, but where is it?” “Mom, where did my red jacket go? I’m going to be late for school!”
Do any of these sound like your house?
When you have extra clutter sitting around choking up the “clean, clear, calm” space, then you also have clutter sitting in your head…choking up the “clean, clear and calm” space in your brain. When you do not have a clear brain to think with, you are going to have too many thoughts…too many things jumbled in your head and lose track not only of what needs to be done, but in what time frame it needs to be done in. Simply put, Too much stuff in your house + Too much stuff in your head = Being Late.
Being late out the door, being late to pick up the kids, being late with reports due, being late paying bills, being late to the meeting – sound familiar?

So what do you do? Clearing out the clutter from your home will result in clearing out the clutter from your head which will in turn help you to focus and plan your day more productively which will then lead to being on time.
Sounds simple doesn’t it….NOT!

How Do I Clear out the Clutter?

Use your 5 signs to designate your piles to sort.

sorting guidelines



Get white trash bags for your donate and black for trash (so you don’t mix them out when you take them out of your house.
I prefer clear plastic storage bins for long term storage.
Make sure you have some form of labels to label your bins.
Give yourself 2 hours of time if you are able. Do not think you will get an entire room done, just start out with a smaller goal.

Pick up each item, look at it fast and think:
1) Do I use this?
2) Do I need this?
3) Do I like this?
4) What is the worse thing that can happen if I don’t have this?
Don’t spend more than about 5-10 sec. on each item, otherwise memories start popping in and you “personalize” that item. You want to keep it “depersonalized”, otherwise it can be too hard to get rid of.

Time Management

Break down your day into 15 minute increments.
For instance: If you have to be at the school by 3:00 to pick up the kids, but you need to go to the bank and grocery store first then plan it this way:
3:00 – Be at School
2:45 – Leave for school. (It takes 10 min. to get there from school – but use 15)
1:45 – Be at grocery to do the shopping.
1:30 – Leave from bank to go to grocery. (It only takes 8 min. to get there, use 15)
1:15 – Leave for bank. (It only takes 10 min. but use 15)
So to get to the school by 3:00, you need to leave the house by 1:15. You will have an extra 17 minutes to play with if there is traffic, or if the grocery store is crowded. If you end up being early, just keep a book you are reading or a steno pad in your car to make a “to do” list.
Now make sure that 15 minutes before you get ready to leave the house you get your keys, grocery list, banking items ready and have stopped by the bathroom.
So if you need to, set your timer on your stove for 1:00. Once you get in the habit of using 15 minute increments to plan things out, it will become easy and natural and you won’t have to worry about being late.
Because your clutter is now cleaned up off that kitchen counter, you can find those keys and bank book and grocery list and you can get out the door on time!
Time management is much easily accomplished when you do not have clutter blocking your path!

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