Getaway :: Astoria & Long Beach

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Warning: extremely long and photo-filled post ahead :)

A few weekends ago we took a quick trip to Long Beach, WA and the weather on the coast was amazing!  The forecast said mostly cloudy which I was fine with since that meant we wouldn’t have to worry about Koko getting heatstroke when we had to leave her in the car, but it actually turned out to be pretty sunny and not too winy or cold.  It wasn’t shorts weather, but it was certainly enjoyable.

Long Beach is a little over two hours away from Portland and has been on my radar for a while now.  I knew Cape Disappointment State Park and a couple of lighthouses were up there, and I kept seeing Living Social deals for the newly renovated and eco-conscious Adrift Hotel and their [pickled fish] restaurant.  Recently a couple of local blogging friends also posted about Long Beach and Adrift – Lindsay & Suzannah – so we finally went to check it out for ourselves.

Stopping in Astoria on the way was a must, and my Instagram friend Jonena (we still haven’t met in real life yet!) lives there so I asked her where we should eat and she suggested Blue Scorcher Bakery & Café.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

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It’s actually a worker-owned cooperative and they’re all about local, organic, and in season which is really cool, and I’d say it shined through in the bright and fresh flavors of their food.  There’s free wi-fi, a very eclectic magazine selection, a children’s play area, and I heard something about gluten-free Fridays if you’re interested in that.

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That photo is a very small part of their bakery case!

We ordered some lunch, including sweets and coffee which were meant to be dessert, but I dug into mine right away.  I had a Cardamom Almond Roll + Americano, and Mr. Won’t Run had the Ginger Tea Cake + Honey Cardamom Latte.  I’m not typically a fan of cardamom, but I think that’s because I’ve never had it done right, but Blue Scorcher does it right for sure!  You could absolutely smell and taste it but it wasn’t overpowering.  And that Ginger Tea Cake was like the most amazing gingersnap cookie you’ve ever eaten but in cake form.  De-freakin-licious!

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(Can we just pause and talk about natural light for a moment?  I’ve always heard that taking pictures in natural light is the best, and we were sitting next to a window in early afternoon so natural light was abundant, and I am officially a fan.  This photo (and all others) were just from my iPhone, but seeing how things come out in natural light makes me want to figure out my “real” camera!  Okay, back to the post… )

Mr. Won’t Run ordered the special on the board which was Grilled Polenta with a Spanish red sauce and sauté of Tuscan kale and pinenuts – he really enjoyed it and said it had great flavor.  I ordered the 3 Egg Scramble with pesto and goat cheese on a bed of greens with toast and jam – when you eat at a bakery you order the toast, it was obviously amazing.  The eggs were perfect too, cooked to that still-wet-but-not-gross-and-runny stage and the pesto and goat cheese combo was fantastic.  We left very satisfied and will definitely be back!

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(Again with the natural light!  I know these pictures aren’t gallery worthy, but the difference with natural light just blows me away!)

Even though we’d technically had dessert already, we also had to check out another recommendation from Jonena which was Frite & Scoop – french fries and ice cream!!!

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It was nearby so we walked to the cute little shop specializing in French-custard style ice cream made with local ingredients – yum!  There is seating inside or outside under cover with a view of the water, or just grab your scoops and walk around the city which is what we did.  I got Espresso Cardamom (made with Stumptown Hairbender), and he got the Hokey Pokey as an ice cream sandwich (sweet cream custard with house-made honeycomb candy).

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Since their ice cream is made fresh daily, they post the current flavors on Facebook, but I’m warning you, don’t look unless you’re ready to drive to Astoria right this minute – so much good stuff!  Authentic Belgian Frites will be added to the menu in the next month or so and I think it’s a genius combination, just like dipping french fries in your milk shake!  You do that too, right?

After ice cream it was over the bridge to WA, and thanks to some bridge construction we were stopped for a few minutes so I snapped a pic from the Oregon side.

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Cape Disappointment State Park was up next since it was on the way to the hotel.  Neither of us had been there before so we found the little parking lot and took the short trail up to Fort Canby and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center:

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The view wasn’t too terrible:

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Looking left you can see the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse:

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And then we hiked over to the lighthouse which was a bit of a surprise.  I didn’t do much research before going so I wasn’t wearing appropriate foot ware for hiking but thankfully the trail was pretty clear and it hadn’t been raining so it wasn’t muddy, and the last half is paved which was nice.  It’s 0.5 miles from the parking lot to the lighthouse but we were already up the hill and there’s a trail (towards the left in that Fort Canby photo above) that meets up with the one you would take from the parking lot, but it’s was short so I think 0.5 miles from Fort Canby would be an accurate estimate too.  It’s not long, and the trail is pretty easy.

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On the way there’s the ominously-named Dead Man’s Cove Overlook:

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Which was quite beautiful:

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There is beach access further down the trail, although I’m not sure if it’s official access or just rule-breakers blazing their own trail, but we kept heading to the lighthouse.  Here’s a view from the other side of the cove:

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This is also right next to the US Coast Guard station which I thought was cool since my Dad and Uncles were in the Coast Guard, and at least one of them was stationed right around here for a while:

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Next up was the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, built in 1856, and apparently it is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast:

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From the lighthouse, looking to the right at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center:

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And this is a silly gif that Picasa automatically made for me when I uploaded my photos.  Mr. Won’t Run was taking the picture and he took a ton, of course not telling me when he was taking them so I was channeling my inner Vanna White while I waited for him to say “okay, smile” (he never did), and this is the magic that happened.  You’re welcome.

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The it was off to find the hotel which was a piece of cake thanks to a nice big Adrift Hotel sign on the main road telling you where to turn.  This picture is taken from the beach side, not the road as you drive in.  The top right part of the building painted green is the [pickled fish] restaurant which we didn’t get to eat at but we hear it’s really good.

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Check-in was a breeze and he gal at the counter was very helpful, explained everything they had to offer and tipped us off that the restaurant was booking up quick so if we wanted dinner we should make a reservation ASAP.  We tried, but they were already full!  Somehow when we booked this getaway we sort of forgot it was Easter weekend so I think a lot of people got away to the coast for the holiday because this place was hoppin’!

We were in a “West Queen” which is on the 2nd floor (pet-friendly rooms are on the 1st and 2nd floor) facing south in their west building and had “a view of the expansive dunes and pines leading south to North Head with just a slight view of the ocean”.  It came with a queen bed, a small table + two chairs, mini fridge, 28″ LCD TV,  DVD player, and the bathroom had a tub/shower.  The view when we walked in was the sink area which leads to the bedroom and a nice big window.  The shower and toilet are to the right with a door but the sink is in the common area which was nice, and they have a recycling bin in the room which was handy, as well as recycling bins next to the garbage down by the lobby.  Yay recycling!

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We had a partial view of the ocean but you had to look hard right to see it which was fine with us for this trip.  If we’d been staying a few days and planned to spend more time hanging out in the room, then being ocean front would be nice, but since it was just one night and we knew we’d be out and about, the partial view was fine.  They do have rooms in the other building that I believe have full ocean views from the higher floors.

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For being a more basic/minimalist/industrial hotel, the room is quite comfortable and has everything you need.  My favorite part of the room was probably that box fan!  We’ve gotten used to sleeping with a fan on at night for white noise and air flow, so now when we travel it’s hard to sleep without it.  Well, it’s hard for ME to sleep, Mr. Won’t Run could sleep through anything.  Not sure why the bed looks so lumpy, it was a comfortable memory foam mattress.

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They also offer fun packages you can add on like the bonfire one where you get everything needed to make a bonfire on the beach + fixins for s’mores + a bottle of wine.  How fun does that sound?!!  We almost did it but then were so full from dinner we decided we’d try it next time.  They also have bikes that are free to use, you just have to sign up for them, we’ll also be doing that next time.

We decided to take a walk on the beach before dinner and to wear Koko out a little bit.  I think we succeeded.

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Since we missed [pickled fish] for dinner, we asked the gal at the desk what they would recommend and we ended up at The Shelburne Inn which was the cutest hotel and restaurant right off the main road.

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I’m trying to broaden my wine horizons so I got the Trio of Half Glass Northwest Wines.  All three were fine but nothing blew my socks off.  Apparently I still like the super sweet white ones the best.

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Mr. Won’t Run got Pan Fried Oysters of course, he loves those things:

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The Daily Focaccia was outstanding, that night it had tomato, greens (obviously), and house-cured chorizo (maybe chorizo, I can’t remember exactly, it was a house-cured meat of some kind), and some olive oil on the side for drizzling.

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I ordered the Wild Chinook Salmon with Local Garden Veggies and Fettuccini, and Mr. Won’t Run got the Shelburne Beef Wellington with Deliciosa Mushroom Duxelle, both were delicious.

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And then… yes, more food… if there’s crème brulee or lava cake, we will eat it.

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After sleeping that off we took a little beach walk the next morning and since [pickled fish] wasn’t quite open yet we headed to Laurie’s Homestead Breakfast House.  A little “interesting” from the outside, but charming inside and great diner food!  Yes, there is a real Laurie, and if you go you’ll probably see her there!  I also loved the picture of the praying man on the back wall.  We had that picture in our house when I was growing up and there’s just something about it, it’s peaceful maybe, and now it reminds me of home.

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How cute are the mismatched mugs, I love that!  We always have to try the biscuits and gravy at a breakfast place so we got the half order and could have shared it between four people.  Be warned, it’s a lot of food, but all delicious!

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Nothing left to do after that but head home with super full bellies.

And if you’re still reading, yes, Mr. Won’t Run did order a side of bacon for Koko.

Details all in one spot:

Blue Scorcher – Cafe Menu
7 days a week, 7am – 4pm
1493 Duane St.
Astoria, OR  97103
503-338-7473

Adrift Hotel and Spa – Rooms
Current room rates appear to be $108-$202
409 Sid Snyder Dr.
Long Beach, WA  98631
360-642-2311

We didn’t eat at [pickled fish] but here’s the menu if you’re interested.
7 days a week, 9am-12pm (Breakfast), 3pm-5pm (Bar & Provisions), 5pm-9pm (Dinner), 9pm-Close (Late Nite Menu)
360-642-2344

The Shelburne Inn – RoomsRestaurant
Current room rates appear to be $149-$199
4415 Pacific Way
Seaview, WA  98644
360-642-2442

Laurie’s Homestead Breakfast House – TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoonYelp
7 days a week, 6:30am – 1pm (unconfirmed)
4214 Pacific Way
Seaview, WA  98644
360-642-7171

 

Vacation Interruptus – New England in the Fall
(or not)

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Vacation Interruptus… you know, that thing where you spend eight months saving and researching and planning an 11 day New England in the Fall vacation but then cancel it 30 hours before you’re supposed to leave.

Yeah, that.  I don’t recommend it.

We’re supposed to be in Boston right now enjoying our last day of road-tripping around New England, but we’re not.  Well, actually we’d be at the airport getting ready to leave, but we never left Portland.  Why not?  Because we’re responsible adults thinking about our long-term future.

Booooriiiiiiing.

You see, Mr. Won’t Run is self-employed.  He’s one of those techy computer guys, very good at what he does (I don’t understand most of it), and a new client approached him with a big job that he needed done ASAP.  Turns out he was willing to pay the cancelling-our-vacation-for-you rate and we couldn’t turn it down.

Not that money is everything, but this client means guaranteed future work and when you’re self-employed you just can’t say no to jobs like that.  We discussed it and both agreed it was the right decision, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been a little mopey ever since.  After spending so much time researching and planning, it was a painful choice.

Yes, I do realize that in the grand scheme of life it’s not that big of a deal, and lots of people are having to make choices way more painful than cancelling a vacation, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s disappointing for us.

We’ve been married just over 9 years and have never taken a real vacation just the two of us, it’s always just been road-trips to WA or CA to see family, and even our honeymoon was just a few days at the Oregon Coast which was nice but low-key.  I think we were both looking forward to a change of pace and scenery and a fun new adventure together.

When we first started planning, I subscribed to a bunch of different sites for email updates and started following a bunch of Instagram accounts, but I’ve had to unfollow because they’re posting terrible crap like this:

 

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Awful, right?  Totally disgusting.

I still took a few days off work to wallow and I wound up cleaning, purging, and organizing our little apartment.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed by junk so it felt good to get some Fall cleaning done and it helped take my mind off the things we would have been doing on vacation.  That’s the problem with having it all planned out, I knew exactly what we would have been doing each day.  Thankfully today is the day we were coming back so I won’t be able to torture myself with vacation-imagination any longer.

So where does that leave us?

Well, we’d still like to take a big vacation, and we still have the majority of our vacation fund, so we’re thinking we might reschedule New England for Fall of 2015, or we might just keep saving and do something bigger out of the country like Australia or New Zealand.  If you’ve been to either of those places, please hit me with your travel advice!

Or who knows, we might blow it on a new treadmill and a Sleep Number bed.  You can hit me with your advice on those as well.

Have you ever had to cancel a vacation at the last minute?

C A T C H . U P .

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Do you have a blog?  And a day job?  Do you ever write blog posts in your head while at that day job and then get home and the last thing you want to do is turn on the computer and write that blog post?  No?  Uh, me neither.

So, let’s see, what’s been happening the last nine weeks…

F E B R U A R Y

  • I had an amazing dinner at Cocotte for a blogger event thanks to Heather Jones.  I got to hang out with Brandie, Fabi, and Marisa while eating some seriously good food.  I need to take Mr. Won’t Run there for date night sometime, and I suggest you check it out too!

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M A R C H

  • I met up with the Ladies Who Brunch to discuss The Snow Child and Little Bee.  While I didn’t love either of those books, I am absolutely loving this fun little book club!  It’s getting me back into reading (and out of my usual YA Vampire genre), I get to eat B R U N C H, and I hang out with people I really like.  WinWinWin.  This meet-up took place at Maurice – “A Modern Pastry Luncheonette bound by old world charm” – and I had the most amazing rosemary currant scone with candied kumquat jam.  They had me at rosemary!

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  • Mr. Won’t Run wanted to get lunch at Double Dragon one Sunday afternoon, and it was just as good as last time!  We drove down Division to see what else there was and ended up stopping at Salt & Straw (because ice cream on a cold and rainy day in March makes total sense in Portland).  We walked right by Roman Candle Baking Co. which we still need to try, and it’s right next to Ava Gene’s.  I told Mr. Won’t Run that we should try Ava Gene’s sometime because Portland Monthly voted it the restaurant of the year and it was on all of the top new restaurant lists (Portland Monthly, Willamette Week, Bon Appetit, Eater PDX).

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  • I had my 7 year anniversary at the day job – almost 7 1/2 years if you count the time as a temp – it’s the longest I’ve ever been at one place!  I guess that’s what happens when you’re an adult.  I am very thankful for it, but it’s not my passion, so hopefully the doula career can take over in the next couple of years.
  • 3/6 Apparently Mr. Won’t Run couldn’t get Ava Gene’s out of his head because just four days after we walked by it, we had to go for dinner.  It was a Thursday and the earliest reservation I could get was 9:15pm!  We LOVED all the food, and we sat at the kitchen bar so we got to watch the food being made which was fun!

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  • We took an impromptu trip to Cannon Beach for the weekend and stayed at Tolovana Inn which we really enjoyed.  The room was more like an apartment, it had a separate bedroom, full kitchen, and dining/living areas.  We grabbed dinner at Mo’s the first night since it was right next door (and since Tolovana Inn gives you coupons for free chowder and drinks).  The next day we walked around town eating all the things!  We would definitely recommend Tolovana Inn, The Lazy Susan Cafe, Ecola Seafoods, Chocolate Cafe, Cannon Beach Bakery, Cannon Beach Distillery, and Crepe Neptune!  We would NOT recommend Warren House Pub, although that is based only on the lack of customer service – we were never acknowledged by wait staff that walked by multiple times so we left.  I’ve heard the food is pretty good, but I’m not sure how they expect to get new people to try the food if they don’t even acknowledge them.  We’ve both worked in food service and sales so we are extremely critical of customer service!

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The Veronica Mars Movie premiered on 3/14!  Did you watch the show when it was on?  It was only one for 3 seasons before it was cancelled WAY TOO SOON!!!  The fans have held out hope the last seven years that somehow, someway, Veronica Mars would live again, and thanks to their Kickstarter campaign, we made it happen.  I am proud to say that I donated to get the movie made, and I loved every single second of it.  There is also a book that just came out and it picks up where the movie leaves off.  The genius creator, Rob Thomas, has said that there will be more books, and that any future movies will pick up wherever the books are at, so everything is on the same timeline.  I love how much the Veronica Mars creators and cast are just as in love with it as the fans are.

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  • Missed a meeting of Ladies Who Brunch at Meriwether’s because of stupid cramps.  Am I allowed to talk about cramps or is that TMI?  Do people still say TMI?  We had read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, all about women in today’s business world and how a lot of them are sabotaging their potential success in ways that a man wouldn’t, and they most likely don’t even realize they’re doing it.  I definitely related to a few of the examples, and I would totally recommend the book.

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Photo from Rachel’s Instagram!

  • Mr. Won’t Run turned 38!  He wasn’t feeling well so we didn’t really celebrate, just picked up some Thai food.  I didn’t even bake him a cake.  I know, I’m an amazing wife, huh?  The thing is, he’s not even a cake fan.  Maybe I’ll make him a belated key lime pie.  You know, now that it’s almost May.

A P R I L

  • Took a quick trip to Tucson to visit family on my Mom’s side.  I was born in Tucson and lived there until I was 8 and still have a lot of family there.  My Mom and Stepdad both work at a school so they get Spring Break and they haven’t been to Tucson in ages so they decided it was time and I joined them for a few days.  I got to meet up with my friend Becky which was great!  She’s been through a lot since the last time we were together and I hated not being close enough to hang out with her so it was great to spend some time together and catch up.  She’s been staying at a farm type of place, and there are a bunch of animals, including A BABY GOAT!  NAMED JOY!!  Cutest thing ever!  If you stop petting her she’ll do what a dog or cat does and paw (hoof?) at you!  When in Arizona… snakes, prickly pear margaritas, and coffee by the pool!

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  • While in Tucson I missed another meeting of Ladies Who Brunch, this time at Tasty & Alder to discuss Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I still plan to read this book as soon as my library hold comes in, all the ladies loved it, but apparently I’ll need to be prepared with tissues nearby for an ugly cry sesh of grand proportions.  I was so sad to miss Tasty & Alder, it’s been on my to-eat list for forever and everyone seems to love it!

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Photo from Lindsay’s Instagram!

  • Thankfully there was another Ladies Who Brunch meeting in April that I could make it to, we went to Kern’s Kitchen and discussed Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  When I say “discussed” in regards to these book club meetings, I mean for about the first five minutes, then we just chat and catch up.  The book might come up again here and there, and while we all enjoy the reading, I think it’s really just an excuse to get together, and I’m totally okay with that!

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Aaaaaaand, I think that brings us current!

See you in another nine weeks.

Build Your Blog Conference 2013 – Part 2 of 2

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(And now let’s get on with Part 2, the recap of Saturday, conference day, YAY!  If you missed part 1, click here to see how the story started.)

After deciding I was good with only 20 business cards I headed to bed and got about four hours of sleep.  If anyone is keeping track, I’d only slept about four hours the night before as well so I was feeling a little tired.  I think the only thing that got me out of bed was excitement that the Build Your Blog Conference was finally here!!!

It was a beautiful morning and I found my way to the conference center which was just a mile or so down the road.

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I met up with Julie, Holly, and Lori from the night before which was great.  Seriously, if you can connect with some people before the actual conference, it makes walking into that huge room by yourself so much easier!  I’m very thankful the Six Sisters organized he meet-up the night before.

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McDonalds was one of the Sponsors and they were handing out smoothies that morning which I was very thankful for.  We also got a swag bag when we checked in so we checked all that out before things got started.  Swag bags are definitely fun!

It’s a chance for Sponsors to get their info to you in the way of free gifts, samples, brochures, coupon codes, etc.  The gals had some other goodies in there for us too like water, a granola bar, and some colored gel pens.  Oh, and a huge bar of chocolate!  The snacks were much appreciated since I hadn’t brought any with me – another thing I should remember for next year along with my business cards!

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Emily Benson from The Benson Street, a crafty DIY blog, also sat with us and she was so cute!  Check out the fun stick candy she handed out with her business cards… “Stick” with me and friends we’ll be… how adorable is that!  And memorable too which is a great thing when networking with SO many people, you want to try to stand out in some way if possible.

My way was being the girl who forgot her business cards, haha!

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The Six Sisters had the awesome idea to set up a business card table where you could leave a stack of yours and then take one of everyone else’s, they even had a metal ring and a hole punch so you could keep them all together.  Since I didn’t have cards to contribute I felt bad taking the ones that were there, so I didn’t.

While I love the general idea I decided that I’d rather collect cards from people I actually met, that way I’d have a connection to those cards instead of just a huge pile that I didn’t associate with any faces.  That’s just my personal preference, but I would love if they came out with a list of all the attendees so I could check out their blogs at some point.

I saved my 20 business cards to hand out to Sponsors I spoke with, but I was prepared with some post-it-notes (hmm, that sounds familiar), so I could still swap info with people.  And I was hoping that Will Run for Pasta was a fun enough name that people would remember it if they were really interested, you know?

Then it was time to get started!  Camille from Six Sisters gave a little welcome speech and introduced Brooke Walker (she’s the one to the left of the podium taking a picture of the crowd, haha).

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And then it was Brooke’s turn and her speech was so inspiring!

It was all about the difference between a Blogger and an Influencer, and asking “which one are you?”, and she shared six ways to be an Influencer:

  • Find a focus
  • Add your voice
  • Ask interesting questions
  • Play up the positive
  • Balance the bucket (based on this children’s book)
  • Leave a lasting impact

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Next up were two sessions of classes and for each session there were three we could choose from.  The first one I went to was Blog Design 101 which was done by Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama and Ashton from Something Swanky.  They both had great ideas and tips, and they both have great sites you should check out – Linsay offers Blogger blog design through her design site Happy Potamus and Ashton has a bunch of PicMonkey tutorials and also a great post on the 10 things she learned at BYBC which was also her first in-person blogging conference as well.

Then it was back to the big room for the Food Blogger Forum featuring Laura from Real Mom Kitchen, Erica from Favorite Family Recipes, Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod, Nikki from Chef in Training, and Amanda from Kevin and Amanda.

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I am not a food blogger at all but there was no way I was missing this forum!  I have been reading Maria and Amanda for forever and the idea that I could meet them in person was just too much to handle.  They were actually in Oregon last year and were posting photos of where they were at in Portland on Instagram, usually eating lots of cupcakes, and I seriously thought about “accidentally” running into them but that felt too stalker-ish, haha!

I was actually surprised that this session wasn’t packed out, but I was more thankful because that meant I got to meet my favorite bloggers and actually chat with them for more than 10 seconds.  Maria and Amanda are both just as sweet in person as you’d imagine them to be, and I know they’re just regular people like me, but I was definitely a little starstruck.

I posted this on Instagram – and seriously said a little thank you prayer that it turned out so well because it’s going on my fridge, haha!

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Then it was time for lunch where I got some pictures with other bloggers I had been wanting to meet as well… here I am with Emily from Sweet Bella Roos and Ashton from Something Swanky – both from Online BlogCon.

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Also from Online Blog Con, but before that we “met” through Red Faced Runners, is Sarah from Food, Fun, and Life in Waukesha.  It was so fun to meet her in person after liking and commenting on all or our Red Faced Runner check-ins on Instagram!

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I actually met everyone on my Online BlogCon list but didn’t get pictures with any other ones because I felt like a dork asking, no idea why though!  So, I also met:

I had to go hunt some of them down because I was determined to meet them all, and by the afternoon I was feeling a little more comfortable going up to people and just introducing myself.  I was still out of my comfort zone but I knew I’d regret not making it happen so I just did the ol’ “fake it until you make it” routine.  And you know what?  It works!

Unrelated to Online BlogCon, I also met Kelly from Dixie Dollar Deals (no picture, but she’s the one to blame for the umbrella shoes you saw in yesterday’s post – Old Navy clearance), and Carrian from Oh Sweet Basil.

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Not my best angle as the photo taker was sitting down and we were standing, but that’s okay.  Carrian was so sweet!  I almost didn’t approach her but like I said, I was getting brave by the afternoon and I just went up to her and said something like “you have no idea who I am but I just had to say hi and tell you I made your Maui Baby Nachos for Super Bowl Sunday and they were so good”.  She asked what my blog was and when I told her she said something like “I do know you, I see you on Twitter”.  Ahh Twitter, I love you!!

During lunch the Sponsors each spoke for a few minutes on their company, what they do/offer, and how they hope to work with Bloggers.  I connected with three Sponsors that have products right up my alley and am looking forward to possibly working with them in the future  – Bona Dea (a fertility and uterine health supplement), doTerra (essential oils), and Bosch Mixers (kitchen appliances).

As for the afternoon, there was again two sessions and three classes to choose from for each session.  I would up staying in the big room and going to How to Make Money Blogging and The Next Level: Tips for Seasoned Bloggers.  Not that I’m a seasoned Blogger yet but I figured I should plan ahead, right?  And both of those classes were done by the father of the Six Sisters who now works for his six daughters – how cool is that?!  He brings a lot of info to the business end of blogging and I hope he speaks again next year too!

After the final sessions there were giveaways announced, most Sponsors had drawings you could enter for free product, and then Camille gave a closing thank you speech and that was that.  I stuck around for a casual information class on doTerra and then it was back to my hotel for some much needed sleep.

I stopped at Chick-fiil-A to grab some dinner since we don’t have any of those in Oregon and I always hear how good it is.  I wasn’t trying to make a political statement either way, I just wanted some nuggets and it was practically right next to the hotel.  It was tasty!

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After eating on the hotel bed (and somehow NOT getting any sauce on the white bedspread!), I went through and organized the stuff from my swag bag and got as packed as I could since I had to leave early to get to the airport.

I got to bed around 10pm and then woke up around 12:30 and was so thirsty I thought I was going to die!! <—a little dramatic maybe.  I finished the water bottle I had which wasn’t enough so I grabbed a couple dollars and found the vending machine by the elevator.

It wouldn’t take my dollars.

So, I ventured down to the lobby desk in my pink pajama pants, black jacket, and umbrella flats to ask for quarters.  I figured the lobby would be empty at that time but nope, it was as packed as I’d ever seen it.  Got some quarters, took them back to the vending machine and it took them!

But it wouldn’t give me anything for them and it wouldn’t give them back to me.

So, back to the lobby I went, explained my situation to the nice guy – “I just want some water” – he gave me a $3.00 bottle of water and we called it even.

Grabbed some ice on the way back to my room, drank half the bottle, and went back to bed.

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Well, I tried to go back to bed.  I couldn’t sleep even though I was so darn tired I wanted to cry.

I finally fell asleep around 4am and then my alarm went off at 6am.

If you’re counting, that’s 12 hours of sleep the last three nights!

I made it to the airport, returned the rental car, got checked in and grabbed some breakfast on my way to the gate – somewhat healthy to offset the Chick-fil-A.

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My flight got into Portland around 10:30am and the same friend who dropped me off also picked me up and took me home – I seriously owe her something for doing that, it may have been no big deal to her but it was a big deal to me and I am so thankful for her!

The first thing I did after getting home was get back in my car and go pick this cutie up from PetSmart where she had been staying since Thursday.

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You’d think I would have gone straight to bed after that but my mom and step-dad were in town from Seattle visiting some friends in Beaverton so they came out to see me and we had a late lunch and then went down to Woodburn for some outlet shopping.

And then I came home and went to bed.

Despite the lack of sleep, this trip was so much fun and I have already purchased my conference ticket for Build Your Blog Conference 2014!  I am thankful though that I have almost a year to save and budget since airfare, hotel, car, and food (and pet boarding) can really add up!

Every penny was worth it though!  I feel like this was a great conference for a newbie blogger and a great conference for a conference newbie and I’m both of those!  It was certainly out of my comfort zone and travelling alone was an adventure but knowing what I know now I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

If you have the chance to go next year I highly recommend it, and you have almost a year to get ready for it, so start planning now and we can meet up in Utah in February!

I’m excited to implement the things I have learned and to compare where my blog is today vs where it will hopefully be by February.  I’m feeling inspired but also overwhelmed and it will be a slow process I’m sure but I really do want this to be a fun blog where I can share info people need and want, and get to know my readers better.

If you want to follow along, feel free to join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and now BlogLovin’ to see what’s up!  <– yep, shameless social media plug 😀

Have you been to a blogging conference?  Which one?  Would you recommend it?

Build Your Blog Conference 2013 – Part 1 of 2

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(I know this post is longer than usual, it’s so detailed mainly because I don’t want to forget all that happened!  I also have friends who have been wanting to hear about it so I went for the play-by-play.  This is the recap of Friday, the travelling and meet-up day before the conference.  If you want to skip to Part 2, click here.)

Let’s talk BYBC, baby!

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Like I mentioned the other day, the Build Your Blog Conference was my first in-person blog conference experience and I loved every second of it!

Like I also mentioned about Online BlogCon, I have no idea how it was that I found out about BYBC, I honestly just can’t remember.  I do know that I found out about them around the same time, and actually found BYBC first.

It was put on by the gals from Six Sisters’ Stuff and was held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Mr. Won’t Run and I had chatted about him coming with me and we’d make it a long weekend and explore the area but he wound up with a work trip that same weekend, so it didn’t work out but my fingers are crossed for next year!

Right after we found out he couldn’t come, Brenna from Life After Laundry emailed and asked if I wanted to room together and I said of course, I had actually been thinking of emailing her the same question!  Brenna had won a conference ticket through the Six Sisters’ Stuff blog which is how I originally “met” her.  We started chatting, and when I checked out her blog and saw that she was a Christian and a Dave Ramsey fan I knew we’d get along great and she ended up doing Online BlogCon too.

Unfortunately, life happened, as it tends to do, and Brenna wasn’t able to go to BYBC :(

Because she is so sweet, she inquired and got approval to give me her conference ticket which worked out perfectly since I had procrastinated and hadn’t bought mine yet.  I love her for that but I know how much she wanted to go and that it was a hard decision for her to make.  I was really looking forward to meeting her in person and hopefully we can meet up at next year’s conference, if not before then somehow!

With Brenna not able to go, and with Mr. Won’t Run having a work trip of his own, this meant I would be travelling by myself.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.

For some reason the part I was most nervous about was driving myself to the airport and figuring out where to park and then how the heck to get to the terminals from there, all at 6:30am or earlier.  My dear friend and co-worker heard that and offered to take me and pick me up which was a huge blessing.  Although we were so busy chatting we missed our exit and crossed over the Columbia into Washington, haha!  It didn’t’ help that it was foggy and our landmark (the huge IKEA sign) was obscured.

She chauffeurs to the airport a lot so she dropped me off in the arrival lanes because she knew where the Starbucks was at!  Like I said, huge blessing!

I grabbed coffee and a bagel, headed upstairs to the Southwest area, and sat down to have my breakfast and watch the people checking in.  I flew once last February and before that I don’t even know how long it had been so I was a bit out of practice and unsure of the procedures so I figured I’d sit and watch and learn while I ate.  And people would think I was just hanging out, not observing first so I didn’t look stupid.  It was easy enough with those fancy computer check-in screens and then I was off to security.

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Going through security always makes me nervous.  Not that I have anything to hide or am trying to sneak anything onboard, it’s just so stressful!  Making sure I have all my identification handy, then grabbing those bins to put my coat, shoes, and laptop bag in.  Heaving my carryon up there too.  Oh wait, take out my Ziploc bag of liquids so I don’t hold up the line.  Oh wait, take off my belt.  Then you get through and it’s a mad dash to get yourself re-dressed as you move along the belt with your things as more items are coming through.  It’s as stressful as bagging your own groceries at WinCo!

I found my gate, had a short wait, and then we were in the air.  The flight was uneventful, the most exciting part being descending out of the clouds in Salt Lake City to see everything covered in snow!  It was so pretty but made me nervous about driving since I was renting a car.

When I got off the plane I just went with the flow, following the mass of people and then looked for signs to Transportation/Rental Cars.  I was pretty sure I had everyone fooled and that it looked like I knew exactly where I was going, like I’d been through the SLC airport a hundred times before.

I made it to the Enterprise counter, got situated in my Hyundai Accent, and got on my way.  Thankfully the roads were totally clear of snow but I still almost drove off the road looking at the scenery.  The snow covered mountains, the sunshine, and the clear blue skies were breathtaking.  And I don’t say that in a cheesy way, it was seriously beautiful.

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I made the 20 minute drive down to Sandy and found my hotel without getting lost.  It probably helped that I Google Mapped my route a million times before leaving and brought a printed copy with me.  I will say that Utah drivers seem to be speeders!

I got to the hotel a few hours before check-in and the room wasn’t quite ready yet so I asked the gal if she had any lunch recommendations and I also posted the question on Twitter.  I was told that Café Rio was a local favorite and that I had to get the pulled pork salad so that’s what I did.  I guess it’s a chain in a bunch of states but not in Oregon so it was new to me.  I mapped it on my phone, found it easily enough, and had the hugest and yummiest pulled pork salad ever:

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I decided to eat there (by myself!!) since I had some time to kill and this was my lovely snowy mountain view:

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On the way back to the hotel I decided to go find the Paradise Bakery that attendees were meeting up at that evening so that I would know exactly where it was in relation to the hotel.  Thankfully it was really close and there was a Target across the street which would come in handy later that night but I didn’t know it yet.

Speaking of Target, this is the view when you walk out of the store:

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I got back to the hotel, checked-in, and had a few hours to kill before the meet-up at 6pm so I got on my laptop to watch some videos.  I knew that the Six Sisters had done segments on the local KSL Studio 5 lifestyle show so I found those and decided to watch so I could get to know them a little better.  And, the female host of that show, Brooke Walker, was going to be the keynote speaker at the conference so it was great to see her in action as well.

At this point I was starting to feel really great about myself.  I had just travelled by air and car by myself without incident.  I had found my way around a town I’d never been to without getting the slightest bit lost.  I was like an actual, real adult living life in the actual, real world, and I was owning it!

And then it dawned on me.

The one and only thing I forgot to pack.

The thing that was still sitting on the kitchen counter.

My business cards.

So much for being a responsible adult.  Seriously, Sarah?!!  The one thing you forgot which is the most important thing to have at a conference for networking.  Come on!!

I played it cool though, couldn’t do much about it at that point since I had to head out to the meet-up.  I decided I’d just hit up Target on the way back to the hotel for some craft paper and a paper cutter and I’d use the hotel’s business center to do some printing and it would all be fine.

So off to the meet-up I went!

I’m terrible at social networking things like this.  I’m just not a jump-in and introduce myself type of person.  I was completely out of my element and just kind of standing around like a dork.

Before leaving for BYBC I posted on the Online BlogCon Facebook group to make sure I knew who else was going to I could be sure to meet them, and I was so relieved when I saw Julie from Confessions of a Cooking Diva walk in!  I went right up to her and we found a table and started chatting.  She had met Holly from Happy Food Healthy Life before, another OBC attendee, so she joined us when she got there, and so did Lori from Lori’s Culinary Creations.

The four of us had similar feelings about this type of social situation so we stuck together at our table and would chat with people that stopped by and we’d exchange business cards.  Except for me, of course.

After hours and hours of chatting and meeting new people, my cheeks were hurting from all the smiling and laughing, and I still had to hit up Target and work on my cards.  I don’t remember what time it was exactly but I’m pretty sure it was after 10pm.  I got back to the hotel, worked up the cards how I wanted them (or close enough anyways) and used the business center to print them out on colorful cardstock.  By this time it was even later and I was fading fast from only four hours of sleep the night before.

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I got about 20 cards cut out before I couldn’t see straight anymore and decided that if people wanted to remember me they would.

So, off to bed I went for another four hours of sleep before the big day!

Aaaand I’m tired of typing now.  I’m also sure you’re tired of reading (if you still are), so I’ll have the conference day recap for you tomorrow.

If your eyes haven’t given out yet.