The only reason why I survived 4 days without my family (and my little nursling in particular) would be because for the whole 4 days I was surrounded by friends.
Not only had I brought along friends with me (I was traveling with 5 IRL friends into NYC) I was also meeting some online friends who I basically talk to every day via chat and Facebook, many of them being fellow Noise Girls! Being able to put a face to the screen name, or a body to the head, was an awesome thing.
Not only did I realize how true these ladies were to their online personalities, I realized how much I wished we lived closer!!
I'm no stranger to being part of an online community. I mean... I met the ladies in the picture below online while we were planning our weddings! And being able to head out in NYC together to explore, celebrate, and mingle was just an amazing experience all around. The best part? I wasn't the only one leaving the kids and husband for the first time! My friends "got it" and understood my mix of emotions.
I was able to keep myself busy enough with friends everywhere that the pain of being away from my family lessened to a soft dull ache. Then... there was the fun and entertainment of NYC!
My friends and I didn't leave the fun for the conference... we took our excitement out into NYC. While we traveled from one event to another we found ourselves in some fun... and strange... situations. As we headed back to the hotel from the Hasbro party we ran into the naked cowboy.
And just so you know... this is not the original...
Just about every time we headed out of the house we passed Radio City Music Hall. A few lucky ladies even got to workout with the Rockettes one morning!
And not only did we get to see this historic building, we saw more including the MoMA, the Empire State Building, Time Square (where we saw the naked cowboy), Rockerfeller Plaza, 5th Avenue (and all the high end stores... even saw a half naked model in the door of the Abercrombie store), St. Patricks Cathedral and many, many more.
I found myself with some downtime one day so I called up Melissa of My PB&J and we headed over to Central Park. You know... just to say we were there. We enjoyed the scenery and the statues. I was set on getting a hot dog but completely forgot once I saw the mini amusement park right in front of us.
If we had more time I would have loved to go to the zoo! But I have to save a few things to do when I bring the family back soon. We are definitely coming back.
The lunchtime keynote speakers at BlogHer this year definitely drew crowds. Friday we were greeted with Melissa's hero, Martha Stewart. She talked about everything from her new line at Staples to motherhood to doing it all.
The next day we got to hear from Katie Couric. She was so real and inspiring! From losing her husband to colon cancer to broadcasting to creating her now show set to air September 10th. I am definitely interested in watching her show... and I don't do daytime TV!
She seemed so open to speaking with my fellow bloggers and really getting an idea of what we wanted to hear. She welcomed us to all send her our blog sites and our suggestions for topics for her show. To be honest, I kinda loved her a bit more than Martha! And I really didn't know her well before the interview.
I'll still go to Martha for crafting and food advice...
On the last day of my trip I found myself without plans after brunch. So I texted Natalie of Make Today Great and she gave me her coordinates. I simply jumped in a cab, gave the driver the address, and hoped we didn't get lost.
After a brief moment of panic I realized exactly where Natalie was taking me. And I'm so glad she did! She was up above me at Highline Park.
I hadn't even heard of the park until I was there. And I found out that Highline Park was just as popular as the Empire State Building for places to see in NYC. It's basically a park built on top of railroad tracks suspended up in the air. Truly an amazing site.
We walked from our starting point to the beginning of the park and were able to read about the history behind the park as well as the plans for the park's future. I cannot wait to get back and see all of the changes they plan on making.
I was so lucky to have the amazing outfits I did for BlogHer'12! Not only did I feel fabulous in everything I brought, I even got to show it off a bit on the streets of NYC. The first night we hit the town I dressed up in my gorgeous Yala Designs Izzy dress. I paired it with a lacy undershirt and a black belt and my Twisted Orchid bag.
This isn't a great shot of the whole outfit but I tried! And instead of wearing my awesome block scarf (because it was so darn humid!) I tied it around my purse handle to make the whole outfit come together. I was quite proud of myself for that.
The next night I was able to wear a dress that always makes me feel sexy. Even when I'm walking around with this hot mama below (Mariah of FormulaMom). And no, Mariah, you do NOT look like a hobo ;) I'm in my awesome Kiyonna Scalloped Boudoir Laced Dress from Sonsi. If you haven't already checked out what they have to offer, you need to!
BTW... side note... Mariah is totally my new BFF online and IRL. She's the other half of Mommy Mishaps and the amazing mastermind behind the Noise Girls. Don't know where I'd be without her cracking the whip!
I am quite tempted to convince her to move to San Diego and be my next door neighbor. Because, you know, houses are super cheap here and there are teaching jobs everywhere! Haha... Maybe we'll have to move to Houston.
The last day I walked around NYC in this awesome Coco Bean dress from Shabby Apple. And I felt fabulous! Not only did I walk around. I did a walking tour with StumbleUpon.
Now normally I'd throw on a t-shirt, a pair of jeans or shorts, and some flip flops for any touristy stuff but I packed these clothes and they were going to be worn. Even if it was over 15+ blocks while checking out the sites. A girl has to do what a girl has to do...
After the walking tour and brunch I headed out to Chelsea to meet up with Natalie and then later Tessa and her friend. As we were walking around the streets looking for a great place for lunch Tessa (of Grin & Share It Photography) stopped and proclaimed that she needed to grab an NYC family and drag them over to this spot to take photos of them.
So I kindly offered to model off a bit in hopes that I'd get one decent picture of at least one of my outfits that weekend. Good thing she knows a thing or two about lighting and positioning, right? Being a professional photographer and all...
I don't know if I was quite ready for the food experience I was going to have in NYC. I planned on walking a heck of a lot so that I wouldn't have to worry about calorie counting or points. And with 20,000 steps walked each day I think I earned every single bite I had!
The first night my dear roomie, Kerri of The Maven of Social Media, had a plate of food from the Halal cart around the corner from our hotel. Seriously best falafel I've ever had! And the rice... so yum! I wish we had these carts here in San Diego. The world would be a better place.
One of the many indulgences I had besides the food carts were the sweets offered at the various events we attended. The best? This amazing chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and salted caramel drizzle from the Big Toy Book's Sweet Suite.
And the sweet didn't stop there! There were chocolate covered strawberries, adorable cake pops provided by audible.com, and some yummy froyo from Pinkberry. Top it all off with a delicious glass of riesling and I was one happy girl.
Not to mention I was able to chat with multiple toy brands that would make my children very happy and my night was made. The most memorable? Actually being able to talk to reps from Hexbug! You don't know how obsessed my little boy is with these bugs. 40 nanos and countless other bugs complete with a huge habitat to play with them all. He's going to go crazy when he sees the new Hexbug Warriors!
One of the most talked about nights of the trip had to be Sparklecorn. And yes... that unicorn is food. It's a cake! That people (including Mariah of FormulaMom) actually ate. Sparklecorn is famous for its awesome unicorn cakes. And the fact that it's an awesome good time. This year did not disappoint.
But I have to say that it wasn't just for the unicorn. It might have also been because I was there with the Noise Girls and our awesome shirts from Togs n Things, our tutus, and our Lee jeans! I am just so sad that we didn't get an awesome picture of our jeans... only this semi blurry shot of Mariah and I at the party... and maybe a blurry elevator shot beforehand.
During the last day and my walk along Highline Park, Natalie and I passed quite a few food vendors. There were two in particular that we just couldn't pass up. We indulged in some amazing cucumber lime popcicles from the La Newyorkina's popsicle cart and these delicious ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery.
I had the Thai Fighter, a chocolate-chili ice cream sandwiched between two delicious butter cookies. And Natalie enjoyed an Elvis banana ice cream and peanut butter cookies. Yum! If you're in NYC, track down the melt cart! Yes, we totally had two desserts before lunch...
Once we met up with Tessa and her friend we headed to lunch (while stopping for our mini photo shoot). We first walked into a cute cafe type restaurant but quickly stepped out since there was a wait and we were on a time crunch.
We headed across the street to another restaurant and I'm so happy we did! We ended up at Dos Caminos and I literally had the best meal of the week there! After the pizza, the sandwiches, the food trucks and stands, and other yummy goodies we had at each party that's a very large statement.
But these... these enchiladas right here? Best. enchiladas. ever! And I live in San Diego! Half covered in salsa verde and half covered in mole. Heaven on a plate. The sangria I ordered helped wash it all down perfectly. And if I'm ever in NYC again (which I plan to be) I'll be going out of my way to go to the restaurant again. Even if they do serve a lousy side of beans and rice that the whole table has to share!
My adventures? Amazing. Friends? Even better. What I took home is so much more than what I learned at the few sessions I attended. I learned that sometimes it's ok to get out on my own. Experience new things and make new friends. But I think I already knew that...
Also... spending $1K+ on a conference to only attend a few sessions is totally worth it. Because the networking and socializing before and after those sessions is priceless. And the total girls weekend it turns into is just icing on the cake!