New Orleans, Louisiana | Geaux Wild Planner Conference

Monday, May 30, 2016

I finally visited New Orleans, Louisiana for the first time with my family. It only took 24 years, but I'm SO glad I finally got the chance to go.

So, why wait any longer to talk about what I did there?

Cafe Du Monde

In a matter of hours after we got off the plane, we ventured out into the rainy New Orleans night and visited the original Cafe du Monde. The original location is open 24/7, so we were sitting under the covered porch at midnight. What a way to start our trip!

This place is a must-visit, no matter how long or short your stay in NOLA. Chickory coffee is out of this world, and the Beignets even more so.

World War II Museum | French Quarter | Garden District

In the preceding days (between our sessions at Geaux Wild; more on that later), we visited several places within New Orleans.

The first I want to mention is the World War II museum. When they say that it's the #3 best museum in the country, and #1 in the city, they're not kidding. Now, I wouldn't recommend that you bring little, little kids to this museum - simply because of the fact that they show every single thing that happened during WWII, and it can get very intense at times - but it is absolutely worth visiting.

Now, I want to mention the French Quarter. My favorite parts were Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral.

Finally, before we left for home, we made a quick stop through the Garden District. Mom knew of a house with wrought-iron fences that bore a cornstalk motif - aptly named the Cornstalk Mansion. This mansion was home to a former governor of New Orleans, and its tenants were also corn merchants.

Geaux Wild Planner Conference

The reason why we went to New Orleans was not only to sightsee, but also to attend the first ever GO Wild Planner Conference - aptly titled "Geaux Wild" for the location this year - where so much excitement awaited my mom and I.

SO much happened, so I'm just going to list the highlights here:

  • We heard great speakers, including Day Designer founder Whitney English and keynote speaker Erin Condren!
  • We received a lot of wonderful swag, and I'm so grateful for the generosity of all the Etsy sellers and the ladies who spoke at Geaux Wild, along with the convention's coordinators and staff. You guys rock!
  • The decor was absolutely fantastic; they went all out on the purple, gold, and green throughout the convention center, no-holds-barred.
  • The events were so fun! My favorite part (besides hearing Erin Condren's keynote speech) was the Planjama Party, where we got to decorate a whole blacklit wall and also preview the newest Erin Condren planners (which I am SO pumped about).

Overall, the trip was a BLAST. Not only can I not wait for GO Wild 2017, but also for the next time I get to visit New Orleans!

Complement, not Compete

Saturday, May 28, 2016

When I was in New Orleans last weekend at the Geaux Wild Planner Conference (post on that coming Monday!), and I had the privilege of hearing Erin Condren speak, she brought up an excellent point:

She brought this up as she was talking about how her daughter had been struggling in school with mean girls, and yes, I agree that we all need to complement instead of compete with each other (especially us women of all ages).

Can we apply this to our faith, though?

Yes. yes we can.

1 Thessalonians 5:11a states: "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (NIV). Paul was writing specifically to the church in Thessalonica, and he was likely addressing their specific needs (the rest of the verse goes on to say "just as in fact you are doing," which could imply that they were already good encouragers, and Paul could just be giving them a pat on the back and urging them to continue). What if we took that advice, along with making every effort to encourage every time we even thought about competing with someone?

Sure, there are people in our lives who seem so cool. Either they're superstars at their job, or they are great with household management, or they have the relationship or marriage of their dreams, and the list goes on. What we don't realize is that the people we think are so cool are far from perfect. Though the people we see as "cool" on the outside may appear that way, the appearance usually varies from what's underneath.

So, don't bring anyone down. Don't belittle someone. Likewise, don't make anyone feel inferior. Instead, encourage everyone. Help them when they need it. In turn, you both will be blessed, and you could potentially gain a fabulous friendship that you wouldn't have otherwise had.

Plus, you have no idea how much a complement can mean to someone.

Complement instead of compete, y'all. You'll be glad you did.

How I Edit My Instagram Photos [2016 Edition]

Monday, May 16, 2016

I use Instagram. A lot. So much so that I've even written an article on it for work, and - as of writing this post - I've posted 1,958 pictures onto my account, going back as far as my sophomore year of college.

Now, I've talked about Instagram posting before, but the apps I use now have changed quite a bit since then.

(Disclaimer: I'm using an iPhone to do these edits, but the apps I'm using are also available on other platforms; just click the links to check them out. :] )

For our example today, I'm going to edit a picture of one of my adorable dogs, Azalea.

This is Azalea. She's my baby diva princess, and I wouldn't have it any other way. :) It's rare to get her to look at the camera straight-on. Lol.

Step 1: A Color Story

If I only edit with one app, it's "A Color Story." I love it because of how easy it is to achieve the look I want, which usually consists of brightened colors and heightened contrast. I especially love the way this kind of style looks in travel photography.

My go-to filter is "Disco Ball" under the "Good Vibes" set. I'll also use "Lipstick" and "Palm Springs", and sometimes "Laura" if I want it in black and white. Then, I'll turn it up or down as needed to enhance the photo. Occasionally, I'll use the Color Fog or Light Leak feature to add a fun little something extra to the photo.

And that's usually all I do! I do this to pictures of landscapes, objects, people, and selfies.

But if I want to add something else, I enlist the help of a second app...

[Optional] Step 2: Over or A Beautiful Mess

Occasionally, I'll add text to a photo. When I add text, it's usually an overlay, because I've always loved the idea of a "handwritten" note or phrase or typography on an otherwise blank canvas. I usually add text to food photos or landscapes (like out plane windows). 

Left: edited with A Beautiful Mess; Right: edited with Over

To Collage or Not to Collage?

For my collages, I usually use Moldiv, but there are SO many apps out there to choose from to make them (across different types of phones, too!).

How do you like to edit your photos for Instagram? Please let me know in the comments! :)

Pentatonix World Tour! [And The Preceding Adventures]

Friday, May 13, 2016

This past Tuesday was AWESOME, to say the least.

Dear reader, let me tell you how it went down.

Otaku Ramen

My girls and I decided to go get dinner at Otaku Ramen in downtown Nashville. I fell in love with ramen shops during my visits to Los Angeles, and when Otaku Ramen opened its full-service restaurant near me, I was so thrilled, and I couldn't wait to share it with the girls.

I'm happy to report that our ramen adventure was a resounding success!

To finish our food adventure off before the concert, we went to Barista Parlor Golden Sound. (Always an excellent, one of my friends hadn't been there before, so we had to get coffee to go before we went to the arena.)

The Concert!

We literally walked into the arena as soon as the first opening act (AJ Lehrman) came on, so the following pictures were taken before and after the second opening act, Us the Duo (who were AWESOME...don't be surprised if you see a song by them in a "Mondays are for Music" post at some point).

Then, Pentatonix came out on stage...and the crowd went wild.

It was probably one of the smaller concerts I'd been to in recent years, but it was SO much fun. You could tell that they were having an absolute blast, and all of the songs were fantastic live.

My favorite songs they sang were: "Na Na Na", "Can't Sleep Love", Kevin's cello-boxing (beatboxing + cello = magic), "Papaoutai/Radioactive/Say Something", "Daft Punk", "Aha!", and "Light in the Hallway", which was sung mic-less (and it gave me chills in the best way).

Overall, Pentatonix was amazing. I'd see them in concert again for sure.

Have you been to any concerts recently, or any that you're looking forward to? Let me know in the comments! :)

Mondays are for Music: Spring Favorites 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

It's been awhile since I've done a "Mondays are for Music" post.

Let's fix that. ;)

Over the past few months, I've discovered some really great new stuff. Some has been brand new, while others have been from old favorites. But regardless of where they came from and when, I've been happily playing these around the house, while working, or in my car whenever I can.

So, without further ado, here are my current top songs of the season:

What have your favorite songs been lately? Let me know down in the comments. :)

How I Use a Day Designer for Work

Monday, May 2, 2016

I'm a big proponent of lists, y'all. Ever since I was in school, when we were required to carry little tiny notebooks to write our homework in, I've used lists to keep track of major tasks I've had to do.

Now that I've been in the working world for some time now, I appreciate a good list. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of tasks I have to do during a work day, like editing, writing...stuff like that.

Enter the Day Designer.

How exactly do I use it? Well, for starters, I use it specifically on each day that I'm working. When I sit down and work from home or in the office, I crack open this bad boy and start making lists.

I don't make super-stringent, plan-by-the-minute lists, mind you, but I do like to organize what needs to be done and when I'm doing those things so I can keep track and make sure that those things actually get done.

So, that means that on the right side, where there are check-boxes for to-do's and other such things, I write down stuff that I can do today. The nice thing about the daily layout of the Day Designer is that I can focus specifically on today. That helps with lowering that overwhelming feeling of having so many tasks to do in a given week. Then, once I sit down to work, I can outline my day on the left side where the hours are noted.

Additional sections I use often are the "Top 3" section at the top-left corner of the page, the "Due" section at the top-right, and the "Daily Gratitude" section at the bottom-right (for praises and answered prayers and other little happy things).

Also, I color-code my tasks. (Pictured here: pink is for work, turquoise is for article-writing) The pens I use with my Day Designer that I've been capital-"O" OBSESSED with are the PaperMate InkJoy gel pens.

How do you like to manage your tasks? What works best for you? I'd love to know, so feel free to drop a line in the comments! :)

Quick disclaimer before I sign off: I am not sponsored by Day Designer or Paper Mate. I just wanted to share the things I've been loving with you. :)