On My Mind~Texas Blogger Slumber Party

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I loved slumber parties growing up. As an adult, they just don’t happen too often (if at all). I’ve definitely made it a point to keep connections with my gal pals over the years, and more recently, I’ve focused quite a bit on the friends I’ve met through blogging. You see, us bloggers are a unique group. It’s such a new concept/business, most people outside of the blog world don’t realize how much it really is a business, how we need to strategize, and talk through what we are doing with others who have similar goals. I’ve been to 6 or so blog conferences in the past 2.5 years, and besides learning some great tips from speakers, I have found that the best part of those events are the connections made, and the friendships established. Though I run my own business, and do most things on my own (with assistants that I’ve now hired) I consider those blogging friends as business colleagues, that became some of my dearest friends. I will talk, text, instant message, email multiple blog friends every single day. Last year, one of those friends decided we needed a get together outside of a conference, and she organized a trip. I was all ready to go, and on the morning I was supposed to fly out, I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to stay home. That’s never happened before or since, and I don’t necessarily know a concrete reason why I needed to stay, but I listened to that still small voice whispering, and I’m grateful I did. Since then, I knew I wanted to organize a similar get together at my home, and have been planning it out in my head all year, though they didn’t know. I kept going back and forth in my head if I could pull it off, and finally during a frustrating week in July, I just shot off an email to some friends (all in other states) and threw out a date. I know that the stars have to all align for people, and I get that! People couldn’t come for various reason, but I am so grateful that 4 of my very favorites were able to make it.  It’s tricky to bring people together and it’s tricky to not be able to include everyone that I love. I literally talk to these girls the most, so it just made sense.

Welcome to Texas sign

Let me introduce you…

Jen flew in from Las Vegas and blogs at Eighteen25, Landee flew in from Denver and blogs at LandeeLu, Kelli flew in from the greater Phoenix area and blogs at Lolly Jane, and Aly flew in from Salt Lake City and blogs at Entirely Eventful Day. I can’t express how much it meant to me that they’d sacrifice a weekend to some spend with me!
friends

I’d known Jen, Kelli, and Landee since my first blog conference 2.5 years ago, but got to know Aly better at 2 different conferences since then that they weren’t at. I kinda forgot that they didn’t know each other! No one would have known that they just met this weekend, they became tight friends, and they can say for the rest of their lives, that I brought them together.

I decided that what we mostly wanted to do was sit and talk. So I planned to have meals brought into my home, 1) So I didn’t have to cook/prep and 2) because it was a more relaxed environment.  I rallied a handful of my local friends to help me out, and it was one of the BEST decisions!! I was able to enjoy without having to worry about that at all. Giving a slight shout out to my local friends: Alysha, Caroline, Juliet, Marissa, and Tracy who prepped, cooked, baked, chopped, delivered, shopped, or picked up food for us. It was also fun to introduce my blogging friends to my “friends in real life” as I like to call them. Of course they know that I am available for favors for them on call!

I was also able to secure a sponsored dinner by my favorite local restaurant, Hopdoddy, dessert from the Austin food truck, Churro Co., delicious chocolates by the local Lamme’s candy, and World Market for a bevy of fabulous snacks and drinks we enjoyed while chilling in my living room.

Here is our food consumption in no particular order.

Party Food

World Market gifted us these gold leaf necklaces, which I ADORE!

world market gold leaf necklace

Bottom row is some of the meals prepared by my local friends.

I was also delighted that two of my closest local blogger friends were able to join us for some of the festivities. There are a good handful of other locals, but I wanted it to be an intimate group so it could be one big discussion instead of a party with lots of little discussions. I didn’t want to miss ONE THING!

Locally, We’ve got Jamie from C.R.A.F.T. and Lorie from Be Different, Act Normal.

My neighbor Marissa brought us a delicious Mexican meal, and I got this fun pic of she and I with the “crew” in the background about to feast

mexican food

I didn’t even want to run to the bathroom to tinkle b/c I didn’t want to miss one moment with them! I had to force myself eventually!

chatting with friends

We spent 24 hours locked into my house, up all night talking. Not just about blogging and how to make our website better, but about our families. I’d met Kelli’s family before (in Arizona), but none of the others. We got off on too many tangents of tragic deaths we’ve heard about in life, talked religion (those that flew in share my faith), and covered just about every topic one might think up, even You Tube sensations. I did make a list of conversation questions just in case, but we didn’t really need those. Though I did pull them out from time to time to ask things like, “what’s your favorite tv show.” They made fun of me that I enjoy the Kardashians.

I was happy before my family left (they went to a cabin for the weekend), they all got to meet each other. My husband saw the belly laughs and the non stop talk, and had a glimpse into why I love these girls so much.

When we finally got dressed on Saturday night, we headed to downtown Austin to Hopdoddy’s. I got in touch with them ahead of time, and they agreed to sponsor our meal. I was so excited to find out that they are opening a location in Denver near Landee and in Phoenix near Kelli.

Part of the experience at Hopdoddy’s is waiting in line outside. It’s quite the popular joint, and allowed us to look through the menu and chat. My friends weren’t used to the humidity, and it had been EXTRA humid around here because of rain. Here is some fun we had there, bloggers gotta take pictures of everything, in case we need to share it on social media.

Hopboddy Burger Bar

We were brought out one of every kind of shake, and we had our own spoons that we passed around the table: red velvet, nutella pretzel, salted caramel, white chocolate raspberry, special kind of chocolate, vanilla, and oreo. They were SO delicious, and I’m not even a big shake lover. White chocolate raspberry and  nutella pretzel were my favorites, oh, and salted caramel…and red velvet.

Austin Texas

 

Hopdoddy Burgers

We walked by the famous “I love you so much” corner, and there were lots of teens taking pictures, so I snapped a group selfie with my phone as we walked by.

What do to in Austin

It’s one of my faves from the weekend (even though I’ve got a weird smirk goin’ on).  These girls just make me smile.

Before Jamie had to leave, we snapped this

Austin Skyline

I was excited to take the girls to see the largest population of urban dwelling bats, because it’s an Austin “thing!” But we waited an hour on Congress bridge, and when they finally came out, it was too dark to really see. It was supposed to look like this:

Austin Urban Bat Colony

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I know it sounds weird (and creepy) but it’s a really cool site, and part of what keeps Austin Weird.

#batfail

We went for our second dessert to the Churro Co. truck.  Besides delectable churro treats, they had different flavored toppings such as blackberry sauce (that’s what I got), apple pie, and s’mores. They are coming out with pumpkin soon!

churros truck in austin

My poor friends were melting, so we didn’t stay too long, but we did get to chat with the owner and chef, and hear all about how they got started. Kelli from Lolly Jane was giving them all sorts of free marketing advice, too. She’s savvy, that girl.

churros

We got back to my house at about 11pm, and though we stayed up til 3am the night before, we beat that time and finally went to bed the next day at 5:30 am. We said that we stayed up all night, then took a morning nap. Not a shortage of conversation for this group. Here is one from the wee hours of the morning, we got so slap happy laughing, it seemed as though we were drunk…though there was no alcohol on site.

balcony chat

We had a morning devotional since we couldn’t make it to church. I read, and we discussed the talk by Bonnie Oscarson on how Women Need Women. How we need to judge less, compare less, that we are all doing the best we can, and we need to support one another.  I shared this quote on Instagram, If there are barriers, it is because we ourselves have created them. We must stop concentrating on our differences and look for what we have in common; then we can begin to realize our greatest potential and achieve the greatest good in this world.” Read it all HERE.

As the time kept ticking closer to 2pm, when we had to leave, we kept counting down, trying to optimize that time with good conversation. Then as we got ready, Jen mimicked what I told them my oldest son does on Sunday mornings with the mad dash to get ready for church, “30 minutes….15 minutes…5 minutes…” as I quickly slap on some make up and frantically run out the door.

I had several runs to the airport on Sunday, first dropping Jen off. I was glad I had an extra day with her before everyone else came. She can be more quiet, but oh how I love her heart. I was sad her sisters Jodie and Jamie couldn’t come (as well as Kelli’s twin, Kristi). They are my extended sisterhood.

airport run

They all disapproved of me in this picture, as I was driving. But it was on the toll road where there were hardly any other cars. Then we got into stories of people dying while being distracted. We like to torture ourselves. We sniffed as we dropped Jen off, the beginning of the end.

We had two hours in between the next drop off, so we saw a few murals in Austin. We were pretending we were fashion bloggers, how is our posing?

Austin Murals

 

Greetings from Austin

We all had on our My Sister’s Tee inspirational shirts, courtesy of Aly, the owner. Love LOVE Love those shirts, check them out on the link!

south congress in Austin

Aly stayed one more night, and I ran her to the airport early Monday morning. Early. It was an amazing weekend, so grateful for good women in my life. If you aren’t familiar with my blogging friends, click on their links and get to know them! I am sure that you will love them and their blogs, just like me!

Eighteen25  LandeeLu  Lolly Jane  Entirely Eventful Day.  C.R.A.F.T.  Be Different, Act Normal

Here are posts from my past blog conferences:

SNAP 2012 // EVO 2012// SNAP 2013 // BlogHer Food 2013 // Haven 2013 //Build Your Blog 2014 with Aly //Blissdom 2013 with Jamie

For those of you to get to the bottom of reading all this, I’ve got some extra Lamme’s candies I’d love to ship out to 3 people. Leave a comment telling me your thoughts on the blogging world, or your favorite blogger, or what you think about blogging as a business.

 

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Comments

  1. This is pretty much the best blog post I have ever seen. EVER! Loved every second. Can’t wait til next time! XOXO

  2. Raelene+Hill says:

    Love hearing about your weekend adventure. Slumber parties ARE the best! I love that you have such great friends near and far who love you! WOW! So much fun! LOVE IT! I am now starving for the variety of fun food you posted. Alas, not such a variety here:( I’ll have to fix my comfort food standby – cheese quesadilla. Thank goodness for imported flour tortillas:)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Glad you enjoy the read, mom, you and dad may be the only one who reads through my novels! I just can’t leave out details, more for my own record, as much as telling others. Glad you got your imported tortillas!

  3. Wow! What a great, fun way to get together with you “business colleagues”!

  4. I forgot to add in that I love the blogging world! I love learning new things and being inspired by uplifting words and real-life experiences. It helps keep everything in perspective and also makes like enjoyable. Wonderful ideas too, come from all the great blogs out there.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I agree! Thanks for sharing that, I have always loved reading about others lives…the highs and lows and how they decorate their homes and feed their families!

  5. That looks like such a fun weekend! I think I may be in need of a girls weekend.

    I am so intrigued by the blog world. It seems so interesting to me. I guess that I enjoy it because I really like people and hearing of their stories. And I would say that the blogs I follow (not too many) are strictly because there is a genuine person on the other end that has a gift of storytelling. Thanks for sharing all that you do!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Nicole, I love hearing from you, and love to hear that you enjoy reading stories, because with Pinterest taking over, it seems people don’t follow blogs anymore for the story, but Pinterest for the ideas. I love storytelling, too, it’s why I tell so many stories!! THanks for continuing to hang around!!

  6. Looks like so much fun!
    My goal is to get to a conference someday. I am dying to know some other bloggers “in real life”!!
    I want so much to be able to sit down and converse with people who understand this blogging thing, and to work together to come up with new ideas and things to try!

  7. So happy you wrote out all the details, was so sad Kristi missed the laughter,
    convo’s and bonding. Love you big, thanks for an incredible weekend.

    Ps: still can’t believe you like Kardashians, lol!!

    XOXOX

  8. That looks like you guys had such an awesome weekend. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years but I’m not really dedicated with it, but seeing how close you guys have all become because of blogging makes me want to blog more and try harder with it. And as far as fave bloggers – you are on my list of daily must reads 🙂 and so are the girls from Eighteen25.

  9. What an amazing post about friendship and blogging. I only hope to one day have a successful blog like all you ladies have!Love that you have found women who not only share your faith but your passion. This was a good reminder that women always need to step back and refresh with others in order to better serve thier famalies. We have to take a little time to ourselves 🙂

  10. I loved reading through this! It was like re-living it all over again which was awesome! You are a fantastic hostess & I loved seeing your home, meeting your family and eating myself silly! Getting together with fellow bloggers/like-minded people is so refreshing and rejuvinating! Thanks for putting this all together & opening your home! Love ya & miss ya like crazy!

  11. wow! how fun! sounds awesome.

  12. Oh my goodness, how fun! I definitely agree that blogging relationships are like none other and it’s so great that you got to host your bloggy friends and have a bit of time all to yourselves. Conferences can get overwhelming and you just run out of time. 🙂

  13. So much fun! I agree, small gatherings are exactly what we need! It’s so hard getting one date to work!

  14. Where did the cute texas sandwich cutter come from? I have a feeling my kids would love that…it is so cute!

  15. My favorite picture is the fashion blogger poses!! Nailed it!! Seriously laughed out loud at that one.
    So glad that you had a wonderful time. You sure know how to be a great hostess.

  16. This is amazing! So much Austin LOVE! It looks like everyone had a great time!

  17. I love your stories and DETAILS! This post made me happy 🙂 And you are an amazing hostess and friend and organizer! Thank you for incliding me 🙂 xo

  18. Looks like you gals had a blast! It’s so great to make connections in the crazy blogging world….and have some much-needed ‘girl time’ 😀 Glad you got to have a fabulous weekend with your girls!

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