Good & Lovely March Review

I received my monthly Good & Lovely box this month and I’m excited to share what’s inside. I really loved this box and the variety was amazing. Inside I found:

  • An aromatherapy shower tablet
  • Lavender body and hand lotion
  • Gourmet chocolate covered pretzels
  • Three bags of chamomile citrus tea
  • Topical cream for menstrual cramps
  • Stress reducing foot cream

In case you missed last month’s Good & Lovely review, it’s a monthly based subscription service ($13.99/month) that sends you a box like this the day you start your period! Plus, one dollar of every months subscription goes to provide feminine care to women in need. I’ve been able to chat with the awesome people over at Good & Lovely and am so happy to be supporting them. If you want, you can sign up here and customize your box even more. I think a box like this would be such a fun gift to give (what a surprise for any woman in your life). Be sure to comment if you end up subscribing!

In Between Seasons

It’s that weird time when the weather could be cold one day…warm the next. We had such a mild winter that obviously it hasn’t been that cold out but the temps seem to be ranging between 40-60 degrees. I thought I’d share some of my favorite “in-between” season items right now. Honestly–I’m kind of on a shopping break–but making boards like these are fun and is sort of a substitute for shopping.

  1. Paul & Joe Sister Tristana wool-blend A-line skirt ($160) for those warm days.
  2. Piano Man Umbrella ($30) for the rainy days.
  3. Boden Rainyday Mac ($178) so you don’t get that outfit wet.
  4. Mobile phone case and Wallet ($12) because I hate lugging around a huge purse in the rain.
  5. Chanel Particuliere #505 Nail Le Vernis ($30) is not too dark, not too light.
  6. Lush’s R&B (out of stock…sad) but supposedly it’s amazing for frizzy hair like mine.
  7. Donna Wilson’s Rainy Day large throw ($285) to cuddle.
  8. Bodum Bistro Mug ($15) is the perfect clear mug. Tea or coffee for you?
  9. Andrew Bird’s new album Break It Yourself has been on repeat lately. So light and beautiful.

What are your favorite things about this in-between weather? Any fun items or accessories you like to break out when spring is just around the corner?

Also, congrats to Kate for winning my Shamrock Shake giveaway! Kate, I’ll get your information from you later today!

Glasgow1

CITY GUIDE: Glasgow

Today’s CITY GUIDE is brought to you by Emma Boyd of Glasgow, Scotland! Enjoy!

Thanks to it’s prettier sister Edinburgh, Glasgow doesn’t often get the first look on a trip to Scotland, but make time to spend a few days in the city and I promise you a world of delight!

While we don’t have castles to roam, our streets do have plenty to occupy your days. Start out in the city centre with a walk along Buchanan Street, our main shopping district. It’s got everything for high street brands to upmarket boutiques, with plenty of refreshment stops along the way. Head to the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) to see a real Glasgow institution – the statue of the Duke of Wellington out front is rarely without his traffic cone hat.

Take the Underground out to the West End for the afternoon, where you’ll find a plethora of coffeehouses, delis, and second hand bookstores. Ruthven Lane may look like any other alley, but down it’s narrow street you’ll find some of the best second hand stores the city has to offer.

Take a break for a coffee at Cafezique… and make sure you try the brownies! Other great coffee spots include Epicures, Avenue G, and Big Mouth Coffee. The sticky toffee cake at Big Mouth should come with a warning label: addictive! Now that you’re feeling refreshed, enjoy a walk through the Botanical Gardens and along the River Clyde – the city’s best kept secret.

If nightlife is your thing, Ashton Lane has plenty to choose from. It’s bars & restaurants are busy all nights of the week thanks to the student and young professional population. Brel does a great selection of beers, or try the Ubiquitious Chip for something a little more upmarket. Catching one of the latest films at the Grovesner Cinema is a great way to the end the day, not least of which because of the comfortable sofas and licensed bar.

Our streets may have less tourists than others, but the people who call this city home love it and are always happy to point you in the right direction!

A big thanks to Emma of Emma Boyd Photography for sharing her favorite Glasgow spots and photos. You can follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook!

Featured image by euphbass.

Here We Go: Linking

The topic today is: LINKING. As a blogger, I’m constantly linking. Sometimes I’m referencing a business, providing the source of an image, or just sharing additional information. Sadly, I still come across blogs that are linking incorrectly. (Yes-there’s a method. Well, MY method.) It’s like this:

1. When you use a photo in your post, you need to make sure you share the source correctly. Do not write “source” or “via” and link the source that way. Take time to give proper credit! Write out “Image found on Allison Lehman’s Flickr.” (Haha…like my awesome visual below?)

2. Link to the ACTUAL blog post or page. Not just the main domain name.The difference isn’t necessarily for crediting correctly but it saves so much more time for your readers to either learn more about the topic or to find out more information on the image. For example, let’s say in my post I tell you, “Click here to see more photos that I snapped on my film camera–including the photo from up above!” If you really do click that link, it takes you to my blog. NOW YOU HAVE TO FIND IT. Muah hahaha. Really, what I should have done was point you to this post.

3. Honestly? I don’t think linking to Pinterest or Tumblr is acceptable. If you can’t take the time to dig around OR if the source is that lost…you shouldn’t be posting the photo. It really irks me when I click on a source link and it takes me to a non-linked pin. Those sites, while very easy to share, can often lose sight of giving credit where credit is due.

4. Lastly, don’t include your blog URL in the comment box when commenting on other peoples’ blogs. It’s kind of tacky and unnecessary, really! Most blogs allow you to sign in and comment by providing your email/account/URL and that should be enough. Be a part of a blog’s community to share, learn and meet new people. You don’t need to be that person that’s handing out their business cards before you can even shake their hand. Plus, it can often push you into the spam catcher.

Now that you’ve heard from me, I thought I’d share some thoughts from some other amazing bloggers:

Giving credit where credit is due has proven to be a very touchy subject as of late. With a world of Pinterest, ffffound and Tumblr, it’s more important than ever to link to the original source of an image or site on your blog. Our fields of sharing are blurred and if links get broken, we lose the credit to the creator. I was really guilty of not following my own advice when I first started blogging, but now I try to link appropriately to the original artist, source or site in a blog post, which means sometimes I go 3-4 clicks through to find an artist’s site. It takes a little extra sleuthing, but it’s worth finding and posting the right content in the end. -Sharon McMullen

I like links. I’ve been chasing them around the web for years, always curious about where they’re going to take me next. I think properly linking information, especially in blogging, is the same as citing your work in a paper. It gives credit to your sources, and provides the reader with more information to follow should they wish to continue learning more about a topic. – Jim Viola

Including proper credit within my blog posts is a big priority for me. I decided awhile ago that if I can’t find the original source, I won’t use it. The reverse image search on Google often unearths the original source, but not always. In that case, I just don’t use the photo. But really, with the exception of properly credited features, I rarely use other people’s images. I love blogs with original photography and want my blog to stand out from the rest. Plus it means I’m photographing more of my own life, which is always a good thing! -Kara Haupt

What are your thoughts on linking? Do you see “bad linking” happening a lot? How do you prevent it and/or stop it? I’d love your thoughts and feedback! Feel free to leave any ideas for future “HERE WE GO” posts!

Makeup Splurge

About a month ago, I tweeted to Leigh Ann (a freelance makeup artist), “Hey you. I need help finding the perfect lip shade(s) and a brand. Can you assist? Do you do this kind of thing? ;)” She promptly responded and we set a date to meet at Nordstrom during my lunch hour. An hour later, I was walking out with lots of fun makeup and a new, bright shade of nail polish. It honestly was the best thing I could have done. Leigh Ann, who is amazing at what she does, sat me down and showed me various different “looks.” An every day look, a fun summery look, and a look for when I go out at night. Obviously I couldn’t buy everything but I did choose the makeup pictured above. The photo of me was taken on my iPhone right after she did my makeup. My makeup used to NEVER look that good. I always hated my lip gloss (it never stayed on), my eyeliner always creased and I wasn’t using the best shade of blush.

I would highly recommend snagging a professional makeup artist and having them give you a mini lesson if you feel a bit uninspired by your current makeup collection. I really love the quality of Bobbi Brown’s line, the simplicity of the branding and it’s seriously so affordable. What are you wearing lately? Any new, fun shades? Anything that you SWEAR by? I’m always up for recommendations + a little incentive to go into a Sephora or Nordstrom!

Rich Lip Color in Guava | Eyeshadows in Bone and Rose Gold | Sheer Color Lip Glass in Citrus | Lip Gloss in Rosy | Butter London’s Jaffa

Giveaway + Charity Spotlight

Did you know that this month Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio is celebrating their 30th anniversary of serving children and families in need? In celebration, McDonald’s restaurants in Central Ohio are introducing a one-of-a-kind, limited-edition, vintage-inspired t-shirt that pays homage to the iconic, limited-time Shamrock Shake – now available in restaurants across Central Ohio! – and raises funds for the local Ronald McDonald House, a home away from home for families with seriously ill children. Proceeds from the sale of each t-shirt, as well as $0.25 from each Shamrock Shake sold in Central Ohio, will benefit the local Ronald McDonald House.

In partnership with Skreened, the t-shirts will be sold here, with prices starting at $21. Thirty percent of the cost of each shirt will benefit RMHC of Central Ohio.

Obviously, I want you to order a shirt and help support this amazing charity BUT I also have a shirt to giveaway! It will be anAmerican Apparel Unisex Fitted Tee.

In order to enter, you must follow Columbus McDonald’s Twitter here and then tweet or post this little blurb on Facebook. Come back here and comment after you’ve done both. (You can comment twice if you post both on Twitter AND Facebook):

I just entered a giveaway on Show + Tell (http://bit.ly/y0wuXs) to win one of these Shamrock Shake t-shirts! http://skreened.com/ronaldmcdonaldhouse

The goal is to sell these shirts because all proceeds go towards my local Ronald McDonald House. If you don’t buy a shirt, at least order a Shamrock Shake. Who doesn’t love shakes? You don’t need to be living in Ohio to enter! The giveaway runs until Thursday (11:59pm). Winner will be announced on Friday.

#PHONEPHOTO WINNER!

Thank you to all who participated in the #phonephoto challenge in February! It was a really fun month and one of my favorite challenges so far. I loved seeing how the colors seemed to pop up in all of your lives. I’m happy to announce that SUE won with her set from Week 1 (WHITE)! Congrats, Sue! I’ll be contacting you via email to get your address. Heather, your lovely judge, said it was so difficult to choose a winner. We were both so amazed at how talented you all are.

As for fun stats and facts, I’ve created a little infographic below. Unfortunately, not everyone who participated filled out my mini-questionnaire so I could only pull data from those that responded!

More fun facts (I was tired so I didn’t put these in the infographic):

  • Those that submitted photos hold very fun jobs! An architect, a project development manager, 5 designers, a production assistant, 2 paralegals, a flight attendant, a marketing events coordinator, an IT consultant, a student, someone in the non profit sector, and another in the food industry! See, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to participate!
  • NO ONE said that Week 4 (YELLOW) was their favorite.
  • Most people discovered the challenge or my blog through another website or through Twitter!

Again, thanks for all who participated and supported/commented each week. I’ll be taking a break in March but I’ll be hosting another photo challenge in April. Let’s just say it will DEFINITELY force you out of your comfort zone if you really choose to take the challenge.

Austin

CITY GUIDE: Austin

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Jeanine Donofrio of Austin, Texas!

Welcome to Austin. A city full of creative kinds, techie types, students and entrepreneurs to name a few. When I first moved here 9 years ago it was a hippie college town, and a LOT has changed and continues to change at rapid pace. (ie. we have a W Hotel now – crazy). But I won’t be taking you to any chain places. The heart of Austin is in it’s homegrown businesses.

There’s exactly one “tourist” attraction you probably won’t want to miss. It’s ok if you do miss it, but ever since this painted “Greetings from Austin” wall was featured in an Anthropologie catalog, there’s been a constant amount of people blocking traffic to take photos of their friends or family members in front of this sign. The locals that live on this block (ie, me), will make fun of you while you do or just be angry that you’re standing in the middle of the road with a camera.

But now for the real tour… If you fly in at night, you must stop at Justine’s (photo above from their website) for a late-night bite and a cocktail. Five minutes from the airport down a dark road, you’ll come across this neon sign. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but walk in (or on a nice night, sit outside), and you’ll be transported to turn-of-the-century Paris. The food is great, drinks are too, but the draw is the ambience and the lively crowd. They’re open until 1:30am, the perfect stop after a late flight. Tip: don’t try to go on a Friday or Saturday night at dinnertime, you will wait 2 hours).

The place to stay is Hotel San Jose which is in the heart of the South Congress neighborhood. They have fun things like polaroid cameras and typewriters you can borrow if you feel like getting creative. If you don’t stay here, be sure to have a drink one night in their pool-side courtyard. This is not your regular hotel bar – it’s a chill patio that will be full of locals from the neighborhood.

Or if budget is no object, stay at Hotel St. Cecelia (photo on the right, above from their website), the uber chic design hotel a few blocks away. Everyone famous who comes through town stays here. Or if you don’t have a trust fund, at least go visit and ask the polite girl at the front desk for a tour of the suites. Each suite has completely different (and stunning) vintage decor. Tip: go on a Sunday afternoon when most of the weekend guests have checked out and you can see the most rooms.

Right next to Hotel San Jose is Jo’s coffee. The vote’s still out for who has the best coffee in town, but park yourself at Jo’s anytime during the weekend (on a nice day) for the best people watching. Stop here before or after your stroll up and down South Congress (not-to-miss shopping on this street: Uncommon Objects, By George, and Stag). If you’re at Jo’s in the morning, skip the muffins and get a breakfast taco. The one quintessentially Austin food is the breakfast taco. You’ll have to get in the car, but the best ones (and best lunch tacos too) are at Taco Deli. Other notable breakfast tacos are served at Torchy’s and Taco Xpress.

On Sundays (weather permitting), head to East Austin to the HOPE Farmers Market. With hours from 11-3, it’s the non-traditional farmers market that was created especially for non-early-riser-artist-types. There aren’t a whole lot of vegetable stands here, but visit the gallery to see The HOPE Farmers Market Poster Series, sample a tasting of Kombucha teas, listen to some live music, and have a vegan doughnut at the Red Rabbit vegan doughnut stand. Get the one with mexican chocolate frosting.

For a night out, skip 6th street (the side west of the highway), and head to Rainey Street. It’s a tucked away little street with a handful of old Victorian houses that have been renovated into really eclectic bars. Bar hop from the Clive Bar (photo above from their website) to Icenhauer’s, and to Lustre Pearl.

Now that Paul is about to win Top Chef, you will have a hard time getting a table at Uchiko, but head to his food truck(s), East Side King(s) for his famous asian street food, at a tenth of the price. There are 3 of these and they’re all parked outside of bars along East 6th street. People really love the one at the Liberty bar, but my favorite is the Japanese one that’s outside the Grackle. Get the Nasu Ssam, which is grilled sweet-miso eggplant wrapped in romaine leaves. Or the Yakitori if you’re a meat eater. But, really, everything is good here. Everything.

Other food trucks you may want to hit during your visit are: The Peached Tortilla for a pad thai taco, Lulu B’s for a lemongrass tofu bahn-mi, Mighty Cone for good stuff that’s fried and served in paper cones, and Hey Cupcake for a really big, well… cupcake.

A big thanks to Jeanine for sharing her favorite Austin spots. Be sure to check out her AMAZING blog Love & Lemons. And follow her on Twitter!

Featured image by StuSeeger.

Here We Go: Blog Comments

I get a lot of questions from friends, readers, and people on Twitter about blogging. I try to answer them all through email or give them a quick explanation but I feel like I never get to really address some of the issues or questions. This new series titled, HERE WE GO, will be a way for me to dive into some of these issues in greater detail (while also getting some feedback and advice from other amazing bloggers who have much more experience than I do!) I don’t have all the answers so I hope that this series facilitates conversation and that I learn just as much as you. Speaking of conversation…

Today’s blogging issue is centered around comments. I received the following Tweet the other day:

I’m not a beginner [blogger] but even still it seems getting people to interact (comment) is something lots have trouble with.

This is something that I still wonder about. How do you get people to comment? I don’t think I realized how awesome blog comments are until I started blogging regularly. Even when I was sporadically blogging, I wasn’t making an effort to comment on other peoples’ blogs. I was taking more of the “watching from afar” approach. I honestly didn’t see an increase in blog comments until I started hosting photo challenges. I really do believe that once I started using this blog to foster a community, it gave people the opportunity to say something. Before, I would often re-blog fun images or share fun things that I had found on the internet. I’m sure some readers enjoyed glancing at my post but would about that really prompts someone to take the time to comment? I came up with a few things that I do weekly in order to stay involved in the blogging community (which I think greatly affects others’ willingness to stay active in your blog):

  • What makes you comment on a post? Starting thinking about this when you’re scheduling or posting onto your own blog.
  • Actively comment on the blogs that you read! If a blog does a good job of creating a community, other commenters will probably read yours and will click over.
  • Take a look back on your last 15 posts. Which posts got the most comments? Figure out why. Was it the topic? The time it was posted? Did you tweet about it a lot?
  • Link in your posts (give people credit!) I can see when someone links to my blog and I always like to check it out and say thanks.
  • Is it EASY for people to comment on your blog? Don’t make them jump through hoops.

I’ve gathered some other thoughts about comments from three amazing bloggers. Here’s what they have to say:

Engagement and interaction are extremely challenging to achieve if you’re not approaching your audience in the right way. The key to triggering a response, no matter if it’s in the comments section of your blog or anywhere else in social media, is to create with your community in mind from start to finish, speaking with them and not at them. The more conversational, whether opinions are asked, questions are posed, or it’s just an all-around attention-grabbing topic, the more likely you’ll have a reader chime in with their two cents and be a more engaged reader.

– Amy of Savvy Sexy Social

One of the best things about blogging is being able to receive comments.  It lets us know that people took the time to read a post and it also helps to create a community on your website.  Interaction with readers is always a welcome thing! Something to keep in mind, the number of comments a post on your blog receives doesn’t necessarily indicate how popular your blog is or how many readers you have.
Today, as bloggers, we have access to a whole host of social media outlets in addition to our blogs, and this plays a huge role in creating interaction with blog readers. My food blog has been up and running for almost four years now and the majority of my posts don’t generate a high comment amount. Most of my blog readers choose to interact with me via Twitter. I always make sure to link to my most recent post on Twitter and that generates the most feedback.  My readers enjoy commenting and chatting with me on Twitter verses leaving a comment on my blog.
And this is okay! As bloggers, one of our goals is to generate interaction with our readers.  It doesn’t matter if that comes in the form of Twitter replies or a Facebook comment because the outcome is the same.  Your readers are taking the time to chat with you and respond to something you wrote.  Goal achieved! Don’t get bummed out or disappointed if a post you wrote doesn’t result in a lot of comments.  If five people chatted with you on Twitter or Facebook about that post, that’s the same as five comments on your blog.  You’re chatting with your readers, that is success!
- Andrea of Food Embrace
Be a real person. There are 3 zillion companies and bloggers and spammers who are doing all the “professional” things necessary to steal your readers. Let them know that you’re a human being. Have a voice. Say something. You’re a real person talking to real people. Act like it.
I hope this first HERE WE GO post sparks conversation (no pun intended)! Feel free to Tweet, message or comment below with other blogging discussions that you’d like to see here weekly. I’m aiming at every Wednesday so I’m all ears!

#phonephoto Week 4: Yellow

I can’t believe the #phonephoto challenge is over already! Can you? It seriously feels like I was just compiling all my ideas for this photo challenge. This week’s theme (YELLOW) was a bit more difficult for me. I ended up going with different light sources in my apartment. I’m constantly saying, “The light in here is so yellow!” I absolutely am smitten with Kate and Ballookey’s sets this week. Which ones do you love? Which week seemed the easiest/hardest?

I’m going to be sending Heather (your lovely judge) all the sets in a gallery tonight and she’ll be picking the winner. I will announce who won on Friday morning! Thank you to everyone who participated and commented this month. I’ll be including a fun little infographic on Friday as well. You can also catch up on Week 1 (white), Week 2 (red), and Week 3 (grey)!

If you’re interested, I’ll be participating in the March Photo a Day Challenge on Instagram (my username is ‘alliepal’). Even if you aren’t on Instagram, you can follow my feed here.