Monday, November 30, 2015

Gift Guide : the Girly Girl

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend, ate way too much turkey, and enjoyed your loved ones. It was a little strange to spend the day without my family, but I was thankful to have friends to celebrate with and then actually did get to see some family on Friday for the day.

With Thanksgiving coming and going it is now officially Christmas season! When I was little we would always put our tree up Thanksgiving night so in my mind that'll always be the official kickoff. With that said, I'm feeling way less shameful to be sharing today's gift guide than my first one. Today's gift guide is for the girly girl, to me that means lots of pink and gold.

The great thing about these gifts is that most come in other colors. So maybe the girly girl in your life is more about the yellow than the pink; you've got her covered.

PS: That watch is only $125 and those sunglasses are $12!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Feeling the Forest for the Trees

Life is funny. You can be so totally happy, yet things still aren't perfect. And then other times everything can be perfect, yet you still aren't happy. Thankfully I'm currently experiencing that first feeling.

This is the second Monday in a row that my post idea just didn't work and I was left trying to put something together at the last minute. I hate not keeping to my 3 times a week posting schedule so starting the week off without a post just kills my blogging vibe. I brainstorm all the time for post ideas and mentally plan them out sometimes weeks in advance but usually only sit down to write them the night before

I've been wanting popcorn for the past few days, but by the time I get home I'm so tired I just want to sleep. Last night I finally had time to make my popcorn. I burned the bag. Actually calling it burnt is an understatement. The bag was so black I'm a little surprised it didn't catch fire.

I don't have a car here in Colorado. There isn't employee parking at work and honestly I'd be too nervous to drive in snow. So I use the bus, which is actually not bad. The stops are really convenient and they have free wifi. What isn't great is that I can only go places depending on the schedule. So Saturday I was gone for 11 hours and all I did was go to work and back home. Needless to say by the time I walked back in my door I was exhausted.

But you know what? I'm the happiest I've been in years. Even with all these little things that just can't go right I'm okay. I guess you could say I'm feeling the forest for the trees, or however that saying goes. And at the end of the day that's all that really matters.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Guest Post : What my Sorority Experience Taught Me

I'm so excited to share my last guest post of the month with y'all! I seriously could not have made it through this hectic month without the help of these fabulous ladies. I seriously love guest posts, so if you're ever interested in collaborating just let me know! When Megan told me what she was going to share with y'all today I was too excited because it's an idea I've wanted to share but could never find the words to express exactly how I felt. But she totally hit the nail on the head and said exactly what I couldn't.

Hey there! My name is Megan and I blog over at Chasing Pradas and PR about navigating this wild ride ride we call "adulthood" while hustling after your career dreams and enjoying the occasional glass of wine. I'm ecstatic to be sharing something with Hillary's readers that we both have in common, but don't talk about much on our blogs - being proud sorority women.

+ I was always wearing my letters, and I could never take them off. From the moment I joined, I began representing my organization and what others thought of my sorority would be a direct reflection of my actions. The same goes for your career. It's heavy, but your choices matter. 

+ The relationships I made in and out of my own house were invaluable. When you spend time cultivating relationships with your chapter's alumnae or getting to know leaders from other houses, you build a contact list that you can utilize once you graduate. 

+ No matter who you are, you can inspire change. From the time my pledge class joined my sorority to when I graduated, the campus' perception of my chapter shifted. We were passionate about changing the tune about our sorority on campus and making positive progress. It goes to show that David always wins against Goliath! 

+ I learned that not everyone is going to like me, and that's okay. My chapter had close to 200 members and I would be lying if I said that every single one of them was someone I considered to be my best friend or that there weren't girls whom I disliked. In every facet of our lives there are going to people we don't mesh with, my sorority experience prepared me for collaborating with more of them in the future. 

+ The true value of friendship. Until I walked through the doors of that Southern sorority house, I had truly never known the meaning of friendship. 

Want more Megan? 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Out West Wednesday : Things that surprised me about Colorado

For those of you new around here, I've been living in Colorado for about 2 and a half weeks now. And if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you know I absolutely love it here! There have been a few things though that weren't exactly like I was expecting.

1. Everyone is so nice - Maybe because I haven't had the best experiences with people from Colorado, or maybe because I'm Southern and think we own the manners game, but I really didn't expect everyone to be so nice. I now realize that was really dumb on my part because this entire area relies on tourism so obviously people would be hospitable. I seriously haven't met a single person that wasn't willing to help give directions or share advice on a place to go or simply offer a warm hello.

2. It's not as cold as I expected - Don't get me wrong, it's cold. But when I think of these temperatures I just always imagined they'd be colder. I think it's partially a mental thing, I know it has to be cold for snow and I need snow for my job. I think it's also partially thanks to my super warm Patagonia jacket haha.

3. Everyone smokes - Okay so maybe not everyone, but it certainly seems that way. As a nonsmoker this has been one of the strangest things to me. Sometimes you'll walk in somewhere and there will be an overwhelming smell of weed, which is just so bizarre. People talk about being 4/20 friendly like it's no big deal. I know it's legal in Colorado, but it's still so strange to me how chill everyone is about it.

4. Altitude isn't difficult to adjust to - Maybe I've just been very very lucky but I seriously haven't felt the altitude. I'm careful to drink tons of water so I really think that's why I haven't had problems. I'm not running around so maybe once I start skiing (wish me luck!) it'll be different. It's kinda funny because I was convinced that I could never live in high altitudes and here I am 8150 feet in the air.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Gift Guide : Hostess

I'm a little ashamed that Thanksgiving is still over a week away and I'm already doing a gift guide, but my original post idea didn't work out so here we are. I've titled this gift guide for the hostess, but these are also great gifts for someone who has just moved into a new place like me.

Those coasters are number one on my wish list. I've been in love since the first time I saw them. They come in a bunch of colors so you'll be able to find something to fit the rest of your decor. A Gray Malin would be the ultimate gift. These pieces aren't cheap, but truly make a statement. If I remember correctly he had a good Black Friday sale last year on his website, so if you want one of these beauties keep your eye on the website.

This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on one of these links I will receive a small payment in exchange for sending you to a website where the product can be purchased. If you prefer not to click on a link for this reason and still want to know more about a product please feel free to email me. All opinions are my own.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

10 Favorite Things in Colorado : Guest Post

I'm so excited to share another guest post with y'all today! I first connected with Sarah Elizabeth because she's a sorority sister from another chapter, which is such a cool example of how Greek Life is bigger than just your chapter. Sarah is a newly wed, but before that she lived in Colorado! I can't wait to check a few of these things off my list over the next 6 months.

Good Morning friends of Hillary!

My name is Sarah Elizabeth and I'm guest posting today while Hillary moves and gets settled into her new adventure in Colorado!

I just moved away from Colorado at the end of March, so I thought I would share with Hillary (and you!) my 10 favorite things to do in Colorado!

1. Living in Colorado, you become a fan of the Broncos, the Rockies, the Nuggets & the Avalanche because it's way more fun to live somewhere when these teams are doing well & it's a way of bonding with everyone you meet! I highly recommend attending a game for whichever sport is in season - I've been to a game for each team except the Nuggets & they've all been so much fun!

2. Visit the Air Force Academy! Your campus and the visitor center, do some hiking and catch a sporting event if you're in town. There is a large Air Force population in Colorado Springs with several military bases and many retirees, so the spirit at these games is contagious and the pride is from families and individuals that served with the Air Force for years if not several generations.

3. Hike the Incline in Manitou Springs and then spend time in Manitou Springs & Old Colorado City. The Incline is HARD but so worth it! Manitou is full of colorful people & th celebrate every holiday with fun traditions - like coffin races.

4. Explore Garden of the Gods. I adore Garden of the Gods - it's beautiful! Every Easter there is a nondenominational sunrise service in the park and my brother took his senior prom pictures there. It's great for shirt hikes, there are people on horseback every time I've been, races are always running through the park and they have a great visitor center. As a kid, I attended a summer camp in Garden of the Gods where we went mud sliding - it was a blast!

5. Take the COG railway to the top of Pikes Peak. The COG is a guided tour up and back down Pikes Peak - the inspiration point for America the Beautiful. At the top, there are tasty donuts to try and I know many friends and even my dad who have hiked up the peak. Living in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is your center for directions and the first day you see her covered in snow for the season is magical!

6. Visit Santa at the North Pole. No matter the time of year, Santa is there for you to visit in his log cabin. If you have kids or are a kid at heart, the North Pole is a fun place to spend the day!

7. Take a tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory in Boulder. I love tea and so this tour is right up my alley. The tour is free and you can have as many free tea samples as your taste buds desire - and no matter the time of year, they have your favorite holiday teas in their store.

8. Spend the day in Old Town Fort Collins. Fort Collins is one of my favorite Colorado towns along with Buena Vista & Colorado Springs. Supposedly, Main Street USA at Disney is based around Old Town FoCo - how cool is that?! There is great shopping, delicious dining and always a fun event going on!

9. Tour New Belgium brewery. This tour is SO much fun - there's even a slide at the end. Bonus if you can tour the brewery in conjunction with Tour de Fat - a costumed bike ride through Fort Collins.

10. Drive into the mountains when the Aspens change color in September. This is magical! The leaves are golden against the light trunks and Aspens leaves are always shaking. This is quintessential Colorado in the autumn and something I missed this year.

Those are my 10 recommendations for people visiting or living in Colorado. There is nothing quite like that Rocky Mountain high and I hope Hillary falls in love with Colorado the way that I did growing up there. What would be your recommendations for visiting Colorado?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Out West Wednesday : FAQs

Since announcing my big news last week I've received nothing but support from everyone and honestly that means the world to me. Picking up and moving to a new town is always a little scary no matter how many times you've been the "new girl" in your life, but with every kind message I'm filled with more excitement and confidence that I've made the right choice.

I thought it'd be fun to start a new series here called Out West Wednesday, where I'll be talking about my life in Colorado. Being a 'lifestyle blogger" means I can write about my life any day, but I like the idea of keeping those Colorado specific posts to a certain day. Sharing my blog with friends and family is something I plan to do soon and I think it'll make it easiest for those just wanting to read life updates this way.

Today I thought I'd do a little FAQs post. Announcing that you're moving across the country understandably comes with a lot of questions from everyone and these are some of the most common ones I'm asked by everyone.

1. Are you serious?
yes, I am. I'll be living in Avon, Colorado for at least the next 6 months; I've only been here a little over a week but I can already tell this is going to be really good for me. I was so miserable where I was, and honestly had been for a while, so I'm ready for this adventure.

2. Have you ever been to Colorado?
Nope. This is my first time in Colorado or living in the mountains. It's actually only the second time I've been west of Louisiana. It's a little funny because I always said I could never live in Denver because of the altitude, so instead I moved to someplace approximately 2000 feet higher.

3. Why Vail?
Why not Vail? Long term I really want to work within luxury tourism and hospitality so Vail makes sense. I've never lived in the mountains so it just seems like a set of experiences and a new way of life that will benefit me long term. I never thought I'd want to live in a city smaller than my hometown, but it reminds me a lot of Oxford in that most everyone is here for the same reason and that reason bonds everyone together. And we all know how much I loved living in Oxford for four years.

4. Do you know anyone there?
yes, and no. I know my roommate, who I met on Craigslist. And I also know Ashliegh from blogging. But there are so many young people here that I know I'll make friends easily. Plus I've found that my story really isn't that different for most people here. Almost everyone I've met has a degree in something that after working in for a while realized wasn't their passion and made the move out here.

5. So is this forever?
Honestly I don't know. My job is guaranteed until ski season ends in April, but the hotel I'll be working at is open year round, so there's always the option of applying to stay longer. Plus they're owned by a larger company who owns a bunch of other resorts. In the next few years I think I'd like to work with marketing or special events at a resort before eventually becoming a freelance travel writer, but who knows what the future holds. All I know for sure is that I have a 6 month lease so I won't really start to think about what's next until January.

Have any other questions about my big adventure? Leave me a comment and I'll answer them in a future post!

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Guest Post: 10 ways to make your blog a welcoming space

I'm very excited to share a guest post with y'all today from Anne. When I decided to move to Colorado I knew it'd mean really great content for this space. With so many new experiences I know I'm going to be inspired to share so much here. But I also knew that keeping to my posting schedule would be very difficult at first. I put out the call for guest bloggers willing to help me out, and I'm so thankful Anne reached out and agreed to share this post with my readers today! It's full of so much great advice that I know I personally plan to implement here.

Hi there Salsa readers! My name is Anne and I am the blogger behind Love the Here and Now. When I heard that Hillary was in need of some guest bloggers I hopped at the chance. Getting to know others and helping other bloggers out is a great way to make your blogging experience that much better.
The blogging community is a wonderful thing. Together we share our stories, encourage each other, and support each other. We want our blogs to be spaces that we not only love but ones that encourage others to come back and feel a sense of community. This got me to thinking. How can I make my blog a space where readers want to return to and at the same time, how can I make readers feel welcomed and valued? Today I thought I would share with you 10 ways to make your blog a welcoming space.

10 Ways to Make Your Blog a Welcoming Space

1. Aesthetics

Your blog design says a lot about you and your taste and it's the first impression your readers receive. It is and should be a reflection of your personality. Having said that though, you do not want your design to distract your readers from the content. Too many colors, too many fonts, type that is too light to read can all lead to a negative impression. If you are one that loves bold and bright colors perhaps think about choosing 2-3 and using them in your graphics. Try to keep your fonts in graphics to 2-3 as well. As for the body of your posts, use a font that is easy to read and dark enough for readers to see without squinting.

2. Introduce Yourself!

Most blogs have a photo of the blogger but I have come across a few that do not even list the bloggers name. In cases like that, I find myself scrolling down to the end of the post hoping to find a post signature or hitting their About page. Perhaps it's just me, but I like to know who the blogger is behind the blog. Let your readers know who you are and you can even go a step further and give a short little intro of what you and your blog are about. I recently updated my intro picture so upon landing on my blog new readers have a feel for what Love the Here and Now is all about.
Intro Picture

3. Update Your About Page

Your About page may one of the first places a new reader ventures to. Let your readers know more about you. I love finding bloggers that I can relate to and often find that I can see what I have in common with bloggers through their About pages.

4. Make Navigation Easy

When I get to a new blog I like to see that everything is laid out nicely. I love being able to navigate easily throughout a blogger's pages. Many blog designs and themes come with the option to customize the site's navigation.
Navigation bar
Using a static navigation bar (one that stays at the top of the page as you scroll through the web page insures that your readers can quickly navigate from one page to another, no matter where they are on your blog.
Static Navigation Bar
Having categories on your blog is key. It lets your readers know what you often blog about. A search bar is also a must. It will save your readers from having to scroll through post after post trying to find a post that they want to reread.

5. Popular Posts

Having your top or popular posts readily available showcases you and your blog. Take advantage of this and share the posts that drove the most traffic to your site. Perhaps you would rather ignore the stats and just share the posts that mean the most to you. Either way is fine but dedicate a spot where readers can keep reading.

6. Link to Posts Within Your Posts

You want your readers to stay on your blog. Make it easier for them to do so by linking to other posts of yours. By doing this you will keep your readers engaged and present. Another great option is to add related posts to your blog's footer. If a reader enjoys a post of yours and sees that there are other similar posts readily available with a click of the mouse they may click through the suggested posts and stay on your blog a bit longer.

7. Reply to Comments!

When a reader takes the time to comment on your blog it only seems fair that you reply and it shows them that you appreciate the time they took to comment. When I first started blogging on the Blogger platform I used their commenting system. A reader would comment and I would email them a reply. I have since added Disqus to my site and have never regretted that decision. I love Disqus for the sheer fact that it allows not only myself to respond to a comment but anyone can join in on a conversation. It's a great way to encourage a sense of community and discussion. Responding to comments via email limits the conversation to two people only. Why not encourage others to chime in and share their thoughts?

8. Branding

Your brand allows your readers to recognize you and your blog. Incorporating your header or elements of your header (fonts or colors) across your social media platforms will help you stand out to your readers. Your branding will help readers easily recognize you and your blog. If done well and properly across the board your blog's brand will readily come to mind. This is something that I am just starting to work on myself. I use the same font (if applicable) and the same color throughout social media.
My Twitter header: Twitter Header   My Facebook Header: Facebook Header My Pinterest account: Pinterest Account  

9. Add Widgets to Your Blog

Adding a Pinterest and Instagram widget to your blog gives readers a deeper sense of what you are about. To me, Instagram is a glimpse into one's daily life. Why not showcase that on your blog and give your readers a better sense of the blogger behind the blog? Adding Pinterest to your blog's sidebar is also a great way to share interests of yours. Let your readers see your latest pins and perhaps they will follow you and it will be another way to engage your readers. Perhaps you share some common interests.

10. Content

Tips 1-9 won't mean much unless you keep providing your readers with content that engages them and interests them. Not every post will be everyone's cup of tea and that's ok. I blog because I want to share my thoughts, opinions, and views. Perhaps you may not agree with a blogger on everything but if done well, it will engage your readers and create a respectful discussion. Cassie did that beautifully with this post. Your content should be authentic and genuine and shared because it is something you believe in, not because of numbers and stats only. If it's not heartfelt and something that you enjoy sharing it will come across to your readers.

How do you engage readers on your blog? Any tips to share on how to make your blog a welcoming space?


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Monday, November 2, 2015

one way ticket

I left on a one way ticket to Denver this morning. Yes, you read that correctly; I Hillary Elizabeth Goodfellow am moving to Colorado. By the time this posts I'll be sitting in Dallas Love waiting for my connecting flight, and hopefully not having a panic attack. I don't do impulsive. I don't do outside my comfort zone. I don't do adventure. Except this time I am.

For the next 6 months I will be working in Vail for a ski resort. I'm very excited for this epic adventure, and I think it's exactly the change I need desperately in my life right now. Be sure to follow me on snapchat (hill_goodfellow)Instagram and twitter so you don't miss any of the excitement! And if anyone has any tips on life in the mountains please send them my way!

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