Thursday, September 26, 2013

FL Blog Con 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013
What a whirlwind of a day! This year, the Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference was held at the perfect location, Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Last year I worked for the venue (my museum!) and this year even though they changed locations, I knew I wanted to be involved in any way that I could! I volunteered my time to the event planner, Bess Auer. I started the day with some last minute tasks and then manned the registration table. It was great because I got to greet bloggers whose names I recognized like Milynn and Nicole, and meet new blogger friends like Diana
The conference had a fabulous group of sponsors including Bahama Breeze, Ford, and Barnies Coffee to name a few. After picking up lanyards and name tags at the registration desk, attendees were able to take their seats and grab a coffee, or head to the recharge lounge for a little breakfast by Florida Dairy.
The recharge lounge was equipped with furniture to relax on, a yogurt bar by Florida Dairy, a portrait area by MacBeth Photography, and a masseuse as well! 
Lunch was sponsored by Bahama Breeze, just like last year. This year the lunch area was in Full Sail's back lot which looked like building store fronts from a city. It was the perfect back drop for an afternoon break. 
Not only did Bahama Breeze supply salad, shrimp grits, and green beans, but they were giving out their latest cocktail called the Curly Tail which made with rum. Being in the sun, it was the perfect refreshment with lunch.
I buddied up with Milynn of Love and Whimsy. We attended some breakout sessions together, and some we split up to see on our own. The first session that I attended was Blogging 101 which was a very beginner course, but I really wanted to see Bess Auer speak being that she planned this event. Next session Milynn and I attended together called How Bloggers Make Money with Jeanette of J's Everyday Fashion blog. She was so very informative and covered all of the bases of making money through blogging. Although monetizing my blog isn't something I'm interested in right now,  it was a great class to attend. Jeanette was one of the bloggers that was on the planning team for Fl Blog Con!
Among the other sessions included a session about Taking My Blog Full-Time with Julie of The Little Kitchen. She was the sweetest and was so lovable! She was so easy to relate to and had great story about her journey. My favorite session by far was Transparency Through Blogging with Adam Avitable, which was about being vulnerable and honest through your blog. Some of my favorite blogs are written by the most honest and relative writers. He had great tips on how to be honest and open and being that he is a comedian, made a serious topic extremely enjoyable (and memorable with some graphic photos!). And as you can see, we took advantage of every opportunity to try out Google Glass! There were 5 Google Glass explorers attending the conference so we had to have a photo together exploring "through Glass".
At the after party was sponsored by Sysco foods and served by a caterer I work with all the time, Arthurs Catering. There was a delicious combination of antipasto platters of meat and cheese (my favorite!) and a pasta station. Attendees were greeted by the local folk band Mud Flappers which was lovely. I always enjoy live music and to have a little concert at the end of the day kept our tired minds and bodies energetic.
Gigi's cupcakes provided mini cupcakes with great flavors! My favorite was the smores and the double chocolate. There was also a wedding cake flavor, a pumpkin cake, and a salted caramel chocolate which sounded great in theory, but definitely did not live up to the other amazing flavors. 
There was also a photobooth with a great assortment of props and I even caught Bess and her family and friends snap a pic. The Ford After Party was a great time to mingle with some bloggers that I hadn't had a chance to meet with yet. In the beginning of the day I was a little timid to swap business cards, but after taking a cue from Milynn, it became easier and easier. By the end of the day it was second nature to swap cards with fellow bloggers that we chatted with.
It was a fun, informative, and exhausting day. There was enough going on to keep interested through out the day without getting bored. Each session was quick and full of information, keeping us from getting too stir crazy. In the end, I am amazed with the amazing quantity and quality of sponsors that participated in this event. It was better than last year and I can only imagine that it will continue to improve even next year!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AFR Tour 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
One event that I've been looking forward to all summer is AFR Furniture Rental's annual decor showcase. AFR hosts a networking event for the event industry every year to show off their latest beautiful furniture. Years ago, they actually held the event at our museum, and last year they themed it apocalyptic and chaotic.
This year AFR held their event at the Church Street Exchange building in downtown Orlando which has gorgeous architecture inside and out. The building is three floors of awesome, with brass embellishes throughout. All of the touches built in must have inspired the theme for this year which was slightly steampunk and old-timey.
At the front stairs, a woman dressed as a lamp greeted you with impact. It seemed at every corner of the building there was a food station set up including Puff N Stuff, John Michael Catering, and Millenia Catering. Not only was the food to theme with mini burgers, tiny beers, chicken and waffle cones, but the presentation was themed as well. Wizard Connection had a conveyor belt of trays with Puff N Stuffs little burger platters on them. At the top of the conveyor belt was gears which paired perfectly with the rest of the decor and added an unexpected touch.
In one of the rooms there were games like an old time arcade. There was also a room of four different decor set ups of different themes. The first one was by Showworks and was rustic and luscious. I adored the farm table and metal chair combo with exposed lightbulb chandelier above. The second decor set up was by Greenery Productions and was so colorful and exotic, looking straight of out Morocco. The other was by Kirby rental and was a safari scene, and the last was by Exhilarate Events and was an outdoor lounge scene. Attendees got to vote for their favorite and the winner was the Showworks decor, which was my favorite as well.
A pretty cool thing that happened is that I won the Instagram contest from AFR! I'm not sure yet what I won, but I am super excited to have had the shout out on their Facebook page. I can honestly say that their event is always easy to photograph because it is designed and styled so well. Feel free to search other photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #AFRtour. 
AFRs furniture displayed throughout the space made for a wonderful evening of mingling and eating. Nearly our entire events department attended together, including my boss, my coworkers, and our interns. We made a night of it by grabbing a drink together downtown before the event. It was the perfect opportunity to do some socializing and team building with our new interns. If only every semester could start with an event like this to attend together! Be sure to keep an eye out for our office event blog with a post of our favorite part of the evening from each of us!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Thursday, September 19, 2013
For Labor Day weekend we went to visit our grandparents and my aunt, uncle, and cousins in South Florida. We drove on a Friday after work and the weather was gorgeous even on just the highway. Towards the south, there are a few sections of wide open fields to admire during the drive. We even caught sight of a cloud with a rainbow reflecting in it. 
One of the evenings we visited my aunt's parent's house and there was a lovely get-together going on. There were plenty of help-yourself drinks on the kitchen counter-tops and the dining room was filled with the uproar of great conversation. The house echoed like a Gatsby party and it was so easy to show up late, pour a glass of red wine, and join in on the conversation. 
We lunched and dined with each set of grandparents, and started each day with my cousins. They are two little girls that like insects just as much as we do. When ever we visit them, they are so excited to spend each day with us that their laughter at 7:00 am is our alarm clock. We spend time drawing with them, playing games with them, and laughing with them. 
Labor Day itself was quite eventful. We got pulled over for parking in a private lot, and luckily we were let off with just a warning. At some point on the highway, I heard the roar of what sounded like a motorcycle coming and going. Turns out, it was my tire shredding and losing air, thudding while it deflated. We pulled off onto an exit and S showed me how to change out a tire for the spare! Oddly enough, weeks later the tire on the other side shredded as well. Luckily both times I had a guy around to change it for me! 
That was our latest trip, and the next trip on our radar is our trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil in February. We have our tickets and the next planning step is to apply for our Visas to Brazil and rent an apartment in Buenos Aires. We are about 4 months out and I really need to start doing more research! We know areas in Buenos Aires that we want to stay in and we'll be staying with my grandparents farm in Brazil with a day trip to Uruguay in between, so we have a very rough itinerary at this point. Time to get the travel-bug in me out of bed to get this trip planned. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Tuesday, September 17, 2013
So much of my life lately has been go-go-going and flying by. I've been enjoying weeknights curled up watching movies on our [new!] TV, eating "brunch" in the afternoon on the patio or by the window, and reading in the living room while S plays the mandolin. Recently our hand-me-down TV stopped working and while at first we thought it was no big deal, we later saw it as an opportunity to upgrade to a widescreen/flatscreen/HDMI TV. The HDMI is the most important part because now we can hook our laptops up to it which means more movies and more video games! With fall coming up, I'm sure this won't be a problem because it is about to get beautiful outside and we won't want to spend time in front of the TV.
I met a really wonderful photographer recently, Adrienne at Clearly in Focus at a wedding I worked. Her team was a pleasure to work with and really sweet. So sweet that I got the sweetest thank you card and Starbucks gift card in the mail a few days later to have a coffee on her. I love meeting the best in the business. Not only is working events my favorite thing, I also love meeting and getting to know so many wonderful vendors in this industry. It's like my co-worker pool grows bigger and bigger because we all work together all the time. 
This week I'm looking forward to a networking event that I look forward to every year. AFR is a event furniture rental company and each year they pick an upcoming venue and deck it out with all of their gorgeous furniture for a night of mingling and entertaining. Event vendors all over Orlando pitch in for this event, like our dance floor company, Letz Dance on It donates their dance floors, and caterers serve food to the theme. This year the theme is a bit western and old-timey and it will be in an old building downtown. I cannot wait to see what the caterers and design companies come up with! 
Last year the theme was apocalyptic and the invitation was a survival kit with first aid, aspirin, and even "liquid courage" which was a little bottle of vodka. Event venues are turned into gorgeous rooms with more lighting than I've ever seen at an event. Big City Catering last year served food in little packages as if they were rationed from the World Health Organization. Such great theming last year so you can see why I'm excited for this year! 
This weekend we revamped a wall in our living room to change things up a bit, we replenished some our of balcony plants, and we made delicious meals from the farmers market inspired by cooking shows we watch. I am hoping that the weekend ahead is some of the same, plus some good outdoor time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Until Next Time, Austin

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This is my very last Austin, TX post recapping with a little film I put together of clips I managed to grab. I didn't film too much on this trip because as much as I snapped quick photos, I really tried to enjoy the adventures of a new city and the company of one of my closest friends. Most of the footage is from our cover shoot day because I really adored working with my friend on her magazine and seeing of little of her day-to-day life. 
I love that me and my closest girl friends are becoming older, we are working 40 hours a week, we are understanding of each other's busy schedules, and we can learn from each other with our experience in our careers. We all used to go to school together to learn and now we are getting wise from our careers and teaching each other the ways of growing up. We used to pass notes back and forth behind our desks, now we are typing emails to keep in touch while multitasking at our desks. I love the group of girls that I've come to know and I adore how different each one is, and how inspiring they all are at the same time. I am so proud and happy for my friends like Jordan in Austin who is working in her major and living life in a city she loves. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Last Lunch In Austin, At Whole Foods

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
After my time spent playing assistant to my friend, we spent our last lunch together at the beloved flagship Whole Foods in Austin. During our entire trip, we visited the store three times and each time there were new things to discover. Being a town full of graphic designers, Whole Foods definitely has great branding design going on. 
Having had Torchy's Tacos, we skipped the Whole Foods taqueria, and instead opted for a pressed sandwich. My friend suggested the crusty baguette with fig jam, brie, and turkey. It was absolutely delicious, a combination I will surely try at home. We paired it with Topo Chico with lime, a sparkling water staple in Austin. 
Now that I've fully caught up on all there is to note from my Austin trip, I can catch you up on my time back home. We have slowly been getting back into our routine including eating healthier, making juices, cleaning our home, and all that comes with being an adult. This past weekend I had events to volunteer,attend, and work from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday was an event called Silence 101 in honor of John Cage's birthday at an art gallery, part of Accidental Music Festival, an event I volunteer for. On Friday, my coworker and I attended an networking event for the event industry, called Coming Out for the Wedding Alliance. It's an organization that supports same-sex equality and marriage for all couples. It was a really lovely event with some amazing vendors involved including John Michael Catering, Lee Forrest Floral Design, and Orlando Wedding and Party Rental! It was great to mingle with some of our favorite vendors. 
Other things to note include the start of the semester. This is the first semester that I don't have to return to college! I still know the school schedule because of my coworkers, but it's strange to not have to worry about essays and quizzes. It's a nice relief. With the start of the semester comes our group of new interns. We've been busy at work training them and getting them adjusted to our office work and working events. At home, we're starting yoga class tomorrow and getting back into our routine. Looking forward to a normal week and a relaxing weekend over here.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Assistant To An Editor For A Day

Thursday, September 05, 2013
Of course, we had to visit the "I love you so much" graffiti on the side of Jo's Coffee Shop on South Congress. This is my friend that we went to visit. She used to live in Orlando with us until she graduated with a journalism degree and moved to Austin, TX. She is the main reason we planned a trip to her new city! 
One of the mornings, we walked up and down South Congress from our friends house, peeking into the shops and grabbing last minute souvenirs for friends and family. By noon, all of the walking got us hungry so we stopped for lunch at Snack Bar. We had heard good things about it, and the retro sign definitely enticed us. We split a tender and juicy burger, as well as black bean dip, and sauteed brussel sprouts. So yummy and even with sharing, so filling. Paired with a pomegranate and lime mimosa, it was a great meal to start the day.
To walk off lunch, we walked to Elizabeth Street to try the doughnuts of Gourdoughs, a food trailer. There's nothing too special about this food trailer, except the fact that they make doughnuts, and pile a bunch of treats on top! I ordered a key lime pie doughnut which was tart, just like I like it, but also super sweet. S ordered a banana pudding doughnut and that was the superior choice. It was not too sweet and topped with Nilla wafers, a cookie I used to love as a kid. On top of lunch, we could barely take more than three bites out of these massive doughnuts.
The next day, I tagged along with my friend to do a cover shoot for her magazine, Naturally Fit. The issue she was working on was the September issue which is out now and you should definitely check it out! You can see the photos in that article which were done by John Conroy
It was pretty cool to meet the models at Rae Cosmetics, where they got their makeup done with work-out friendly cosmetics, then see them on set at Vuka. Vuka is an event venue and coworking co-op in one. The space was really cool and was a great place for graphic designers, writers, etc to work in an environment that they can focus in. 
What was really awesome was seeing how a professional photographer shoots on set. It was neat to see the kind of equipment John brought, how he scoped out the place before the models arrived, and even how he looked for light. So many things go into making a professional photo, more than just happenstance. 
It was really fun to just play assistant and get to see what my friend does on a monthly basis for the cover shoots. Being that she is the editor in chief for a magazine that has been around for over a year now, she gets her hands in every aspect of the issues from layout to article writing to pitching article ideas. She's onsite for the photo shoots and even location scouting for the next one. She has so much in her job description and it was great to get to see her in action of just one of her responsibilities. 
The models that were on the cover of the September issue of Naturally Fit are a yoga power couple and they even teach weekly classes at Vuka. It was the perfect place for them to shoot the cover with a great little oasis in the back of the venue. There were huge trees shading the tables and chairs as well as hammocks for relaxing.
Vuka is definitely a cool space and a great addition to the Austin community. I do wish that Orlando could have a space like this with so many things in one. We have a couple of event spaces similar such as Urban Rethink and a coffee shop co-working space like Downtown Credo. However, Orlando is behind the ball on a lot of trends and I don't think a place like Vuka would be successful just yet in central Florida. Our one event space that functions much like Vuka, announced recently that they will be closing their doors.
This space was definitely a gem in Austin. As much as I wish Orlando had as many neat places like Austin does, I'm okay that it doesn't because we don't plan on being here forever. In a few years, we'll think about moving to a bigger city and I'm excited to explore places like Vuka in other cities. Until then, happy weekend!

Monday, September 02, 2013

A Massage Parlor/Brothel Turned Speak Easy

Monday, September 02, 2013
One of the best evenings of the trip was Sunday because of the dining and drinking experience. We started the evening with reservations at the massage parlor/brothel turned speak easy at 6:45 pm. The reservations are for two hours and there are even house rules like no phone calls or rowdy and loud guests. After making our reservation we were given instructions on how to enter the nondescript bar that has no signage or store front. We were to walk to the address and we would know the correct door by the one red light bulb above the door way. Once there, we buzzed "Harry Craddock" among the other names on the call box. Harry Craddock is one of the most famous mixologists during the prohibition when speakeasies were in full swing. When the door swung open, the greeter repeated our friends name to us confirming that we were the reservation. The way he so casually said her name, like as if expecting a dinner date over to his house, made us feel like rock stars.
The greeter led us to the back of the bar, past the black vinyl diner booths, past the petit bar, and to enclosed rooms that once functioned as massage rooms. We picked a room large enough to seat the five of us which included S and I, our friend, our friend's roommate, and our friend's brother. Our room included a curtain in case we wanted privacy, and was equipped with a light switch connected to a red light bulb outside of the room. This was to signify when we were ready to order a round of drinks. It was a nice touch that paralleled the red light bulb outside, and made a nice balance of privacy and service. 
The plan was to each pick something different so that we could all experience a variety of the many interesting drinks. For tiny glasses, each drink packed a kick and was not shy with the alcohol. Although the drinks were decently strong, none of them were too overwhelming and had good balance of flavors.
One of the lures of this place is that many of the drinks were made table side. The mixologists rolled a bar cart down the hallway and made some of the cocktails right next to us. Of course, for the first round we were all in awe and were quiet during this sort-of performance. After he lit our friend's drink on fire, we were content with the show.
I could go on about all the different drinks we had but some to note were a whiskey and red wine cocktail that I had to try since one of my favorite bars back home in Orlando does something very similar. I could be biased, but I think I prefer the one back home. My second cocktail for the night was a dry gin martini, which I have never ordered before, but I thought it appropriate considering Harry Craddock popularized the drink. S ordered one drink that was made with egg whites which was trendy in the twenties. For me, I'm normally so adventurous but I don't think I can wrap my head around drinking frothy egg whites and alcohol at the same time. S, however, enjoyed himself. 
The atmosphere of this bar is the kind that I seek for my go-to places. It was quiet, chill, had an interesting menu, and had a bit of an interactive show which our generation loves. It's a place that I wish I had back in Orlando because I would visit monthly. We joked that it was a great place to bring a first date because of how impressive it is. 
We ended our night at the Salty Sow with dinner reservations after our two hour soiree at the bar. I read some great reviews about this restaurant and was looking forward to the menu. For drinks I had a jasmine tea and whiskey cocktail while our new friend ordered a very "Austin" drink made of Deep Eddy's vodka, grapefruit, and Topo Chico. Deep Eddy's is a vodka company based in Austin and Topo Chico is a seltzer that the area adores, something we don't have in Florida! We started our meal off with roasted bone marrow and chimichurri for the table, which was delicious. Bone marrow is one of my favorite foods because of the flavor. It reminds me a bit of oxtail, because it has that rich and buttery quality.  Kind of sweet, kind of minerally, and all kinds of fantastic. For my meal, all I wanted was the cheese and meat plate to sample and try all little bits. The proscuitto was banging, salty and soft, so good. My favorite, however, was the chicken liver mousse, another favorite food of mine. These tastes on some thin, crusty baguette slices and I was set. Our friend ordered the slow-cooked beef shoulder and it was phenomenal. It was served in a medium sized pot with potatoes and an egg. It was a contender for my "last meal" - that's how delicious it was.
There you have it, a recap of my favorite night and experience in Austin, TX. This was truly the epitome of what I was looking for when planning my visit. But don't worry, there are still plenty of fun things that I did with my friend that I will share too! I hope everyone is having a great start to their week and happy labor day!
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