Archive | May, 2011

Things I’m Looking Forward to Doing in France

30 May

Note: This post was written two weeks prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a month long journey through Israel and France. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

I’m almost on my way to France! Here are a few things I’m looking forward to doing while I’m there:

1. Trying my first French macaron.

2. Seeing the Eiffel Tower.

3. Going to Versailles.

Have you ever been to France? What was your favorite part? Any suggestions on where I should go?

Bisous,

Rachel


Tx SCC Part 6: Creating a Blogging Community

26 May

Note: This post was written several days prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a month long journey through Israel and France. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

This is my sixth and final post in a series of blogging lessons I learned from the fantastic Texas Style Council Conference I attended in Austin during SXSW and my spring break. Check out the Archives to read parts one, two, three, four, and five.

The fifth and last (but certainly not least) conversation panel at the first annual Texas Style Council Conference was led by Indiana from Adored Austin and included many suggestions for finding new readers and cultivating your community into an active audience. The panel was made up of Dave from Etsy, Kendi from Kendi Everyday, and Susan from ModCloth. I learned so much from these amazing guests and I’m so excited to share their ideas with you!

1. Network on related websites. Pretty self-explanatory on that one. If you don’t have an account on Independent Fashion Bloggers, get one now. You can click on it under my pretty picture on the right sidebar. Create a polyvore account, interact with users on fashism, chictopia, and any other site with a common audience to what you write about. If you’re a food blogger, interact with members of recipe sharing websites. Chances are, if there’s a website you like, other people who might enjoy your blog probably like that website too. So, reach out to them and invite them to check you (ahem, err, your blog) out! You’ll probably like them, and they’ll probably like you too… win win :)

2. Talk to your audience, ask questions, and seek advice. I don’t really feel any need to elaborate on this important idea. In the words of a famous company, just do it!

3. Reply promptly to comments and facilitate the dialogue and discussion. Again, self-explanatory.

4. Dave from Etsy contributed the principle that economically challenging times bring about in increase in global creativity. Be original. Do something unique. BE CREATIVE. Show people how they can borrow your ideas and it will better their lives; either by saving them time or money, or better yet doing both of those things and bringing them joy simultaneously. Even if you write a high fashion blog, you are most likely aware that the majority of your readers cannot afford the styles you feature. Instead, your goal is probably to provide them with the haute couture information in order to inspire them to adopt their own take on the trend. This goes along with another point of Dave’s…

5. Use physical resources sparingly, but use your e-sources to the max. Take advantage of what is free. And then, share it with your audience. They’ll like that, and appreciate it, I promise. And afterwards, they’ll return the favor. Yay good karma wheel.

Well, I guess that’s about it for creating a better blog. What did you think of these ideas? What online communities do you utilize to network for your blog? How are you being creative in response to the decline in the economy? What e-sources do you use on a regular basis and what else would you like to share with our audience? Discuss discuss discuss! Let’s all help each other out by contributing your own useful tips.

Bisous,
Rachel

Words of Inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson

24 May

Note: This post was written several days prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a month long journey through Israel and France. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

~Robert Louis Stevenson

I thought this one was especially fitting and wonderful as I travel through Israel with my boyfriend, 2 of my roommates, several sorority sisters, and other classmates. Let me know what you’re up to this week!

Bisous,

Rachel

Tx SCC Part 5: Blogging with Authenticity

20 May

Note: This post was written several days prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a 24 hour month long journey through Israel and France. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

This is the fifth post in my on-going series on the lessons I learned from seasoned blogging pros at the Texas Style Council Conference in Austin over spring break. Check the Archives for parts one, two, three, and four.

Panel 4 was all about how to build an audience through writing authentically. Communicating my personal voice is something I feel like I struggle with on just about every post, so I was particularly interested to hear what the panelists had to say. The bloggers consisted of Jen from Jen Loves Kev, Indiana from Adored Austin, and James from Bleubird Vintage. The discussion was moderated by Kristina from Pretty Shiny Sparkly. Here are the main ideas I took away from the wonderful conversation!

1. Write like you speak. Okay, easier said than done. But for the most part, when you read (or write) a blog, you want to feel like you’re talking or listening to your best friend. It should be easy to imagine the author speaking the text to you. This strategy creates a sense of ease and comfort between the audience and the blogger. This familiarity is key to maintaining an audience, and keeping people genuinely interested in your life. I definitely struggle with this. Although I am a creative writing minor, I find it difficult to break out of the constraints of formal, educational writing which has been drilled in to me, and instead write as I think. I’m trying to improve. Hopefully the creative writing classes will help (heck, a college education has to be useful for something, right?)

2. Write about your life honestly, but don’t be a Debbie Downer. There is a difference between lifestyle blogging, and diary-like online journals, and you need to be aware of where to draw that line. Sure, this blog discusses things I do in my life, but you don’t know everything. Basically the gist of this topic was what do you choose to share with your audience and what needs to stay private. Everyone’s line is going to be different, but it’s an important thing to know about yourself. Clearly take safety into consideration (don’t post your address, sensitive personal information, etc.) But beyond that, it’s up to you. Chances are that people read your blog to brighten their day, as an escape from the monotony of real life. They don’t want to read about your dirty laundry. Is it okay to say you had a bad day? Sure. Absolutely. Doesn’t everyone? But no one wants to come back and read day after day about how your life truly sucks. (Because it probably doesn’t. And if it does, maybe you should figure out why and do something about it.)

How do you write in stream of consciousness? Do you find it difficult, or does it come naturally to you? Where do you draw the line on what’s too personal to share with your audience? What do you and don’t you write about?

Bisous,
Rachel

Words of Inspiration from Lillian Smith

18 May

Note: This post was written several days prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a month long journey through Israel and France. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.  ~Lillian Smith

How I Plan to Blog While Abroad

16 May

Note: This post was written several days prior and scheduled to post today. As you read this, I’m currently on a 24 hour (ish) journey from Austin, Texas, to Tel Aviv, Israel, via Chicago and New Jersey. Please leave some comment love and let me know you stopped by… although unfortunately I won’t be able to catch up on your blogs or respond until I return to the United States. Wish me luck, I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!


As I prepare for my two week school trip to Israel and my week long trip to France to visit family, one thing that’s been on my mind a lot is how I’m going to continue blogging from the other side of the world. This task would be relatively simple if I could depend on a) my laptop, and b) reliable internet, but alas, neither of these things are accompanying me to the Middle East. As a result, I’m not planning on doing any “live” blogging until I return from my trip. If I see an internet cafe or by some miracle stay in a location with access to a computer, I will definitely be popping in to give you an update, but I can’t promise anything. And especially not on any regular time table.

Some bloggers invite their blogfriends to do guest posts while they’re away. I think this is a really cool idea, and I would love for you guys to write some posts here, but with finals and rehearsals and things being generally very hectic these last few weeks, I simply couldn’t get organized enough to round everyone up and get the posts worked out. Therefore, I’ve written a couple of cool posts (well, they’re interesting to me, anyway, hopefully you’ll agree) and scheduled them to publish throughout my time abroad. Check back Wednesday for the first one.

In the meantime, explore around, read something fun, leave a little note below to let me know you were here. I’m so excited for this trip and can’t wait to catch up on all your sweet notes and blog posts when I return.

Bisous,

Rachel

5 Things You’ll Forget to Pack

13 May

As you can probably tell, this week has a bit of a travel theme. On Monday I’ll be headed on a school trip to Israel for 2 weeks, followed by a week long visit to France to visit family. Now, I’m going to tell you about the 5 things you absolutely must have when in a foreign  country. Let me know if I’m missing something, I only have 2 more days to stuff everything I own into one bag under 50 pounds!

1. A long skirt and a cardigan. Churches and religious sites throughout Europe (especially France and Italy) and The Middle East often require women to have their knees and shoulders covered to enter. However, I usually trek around during the day in shorts and a tank top. Keeping these items in my day pack allows me to throw them on when necessary, and remove them when I’m in metropolitan areas. Bonus: fancy restaurants and hotel dining rooms are always cold, good thing you brought a cardigan.

Calypso for Target skirt, $34.99

2. A set of sturdy adapter plugs. Many countries each use a different type of voltage, and in most places in Europe they’re on direct current. (Us Americans are on alternating current.) So don’t plug your curling iron directly into the wall socket or you’ll short a circuit and cause a black out throughout the entire hostel. (I may or may not know this fact from experience. Shhhhhh!) TJ Maxx, Steinmart, or Marshalls, especially, has stuff like this really cheap.

Adapter plug set, $29.99

3. Photo copies of your passport, itinerary, ticket receipts, maps, and other important documents. Losing your passport is not something you want to have happen. But, in a worst case scenario, you’ll be glad you put a copy in your carry on, your checked bag, and gave a copy to your travel buddy to hang on to. Make your way to the nearest relevant embassy and they’ll help you out as best they can. (Thankfully I would like to say I’ve never personally experienced this scenario. But I do always travel with copies.)

Make copies!

4. A travel diary and a pen. You’ll definitely want to remember that amazing coffee shop with the best iced coffee, or patisserie with delicious macarons. You’ll also want to remember the metro shortcut a passerby told you about, and that one day when your favorite museum is free. These are all instances when having a travel diary comes in handy. Make sure to write down where you went, when, the people you met, where you ate, shops and other nearby points of interest, special purchases, and where you stayed. You’ll love looking back on this in the future, and it’ll probably even help you out on trips to come! Bonus tip: Some have special folders and pockets inside for storing tickets, receipts, and other memories :)

Barnes and Noble, $12.99

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One Month, Four Pair: Shoes You Need Abroad

11 May

I’m still rapidly running around the city of Austin like a crazy person trying to do last minute packing before I leave for a 2 week school trip to Israel followed by a trip to France to visit family on Monday. One issue I’m having is that I need to fit everything I need for 4 weeks into one 50lb bag. And for this fashionista, that means weeding out the shoes. After much debate and deliberation, here are what I’ve determined are the four must-have pairs of shoes when traveling aboard for a month or so.

1. The athletic/hiking shoe. For outdoor adventures, nature hikes, other general athletic activities.

2. The everyday walking shoe. For shopping, metropolitan areas, riding the metro, museums and such.

or

3. The evening shoe. For nice dinners, the theater, opera, or night life/clubs.

or

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Tips for International Travel

9 May

I’m so excited that a week from tomorrow I’ll be venturing to Israel for 2 weeks on a school trip and then to France for a week to visit family. I love traveling, and truly enjoy the journey to my destination almost as much as the vacation. Having traveled internationally quite a bit, I thought I’d share a few ideas for how to be comfortable while spending 12+ hours on a plane. I’ll be spending all week purchasing some other travel essentials which of course I’ll share, but in the meantime I’d love to hear what your must-have items are, I’m always looking for new tips!

1. Sleeping mask. The person next to you will watch movies the whole time, and the person on your other side is going to keep their reading light on. If you’re like me and can’t sleep with lights around, you won’t care how dorky you look with this thing on. (Bonus: If you’re planning to rough it at a hostel, most of the windows have more of a sheet covering them than actual draperies… you’ll be glad not to be awoken when the sun rises at 4:30am.)

Product Image pb Pink Eye Mask

Target, $7.99

2. Travel pillow. You’ll be thrilled you have this not only for the plane, but also for long bus rides. Plus, many hostels and cheaper hotels just provide you with one pillow… and chances are you might not want your head right on top of it. This special pillow I learned about from my boyfriend, it folds in like…. literally a trillion different ways- perfect for wrapping around your neck, behind your back, or under your head.

The Total Pillow, $14.95

3. Noise-cancelling headphones. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for great silencing headphones. In fact, the majority of people can barely tell the difference between the $50 and $100 models. This Sony set I bought for my introductory film making class, and they’re fantastic. They’re super lightweight, and even fold up to the size of your palm. They’re great for watching movies on the plane, or just silencing noise from the street once in your hotel.

Product Image Sony Noise Cancelling Over-the-Ear Headphones (MDRNC7BLK) with Carrying Case - Black

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones from Target, $49.99

4. Fuzzy socks. Typically when traveling domestically on planes I like to wear leggings and boots. However, I won’t be needing heavy footwear in the middle east during June, so I’d rather wear flip flops, which are much more convenient when going through the complex and lengthy security screenings in Israel. That being said, planes are always freezing, so I like to stash a pair of fuzzy socks in my backpack. They feel like wearing your favorite slippers, which can help you feel cozy and comfy while trying to fall asleep on those long flights.

Old Navy, $5

5. A colorful passport cover. Although most customs screeners will want you to take it off before they actually stamp your passport, keeping a cover on it in the interim will help protect it from damage. Also, a colorful cover (mine is hot pink) makes it easy to locate your passport in the chaos of a large travel bag, and find it quickly. The people behind you in the extraordinarily long customs line will be grateful. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and other similar places are great stores to find items like this for under $10.

Overstock.com, $13.99

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Home Today!!

6 May

Not much to say today, as I write this I’m rapidly packing up the last of my room and filling two suitcases with everything I might possibly need for Austin, Israel, and Paris! More details to come :) Get excited.

Bisous,

Rachel

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