Blogger Takeover: Planning in the Travel Journal with @adventures.in.nonsense

 Caroline is a twenty-something adventurer whose passion for blogging is matched only by her love of musical theatre, reading, traveling and cooking! When not off exploring, she can be found researching her next adventure! Follow her journey on her blog.

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How To Host A Planner Meet-Up

Erin Condren Rose Gold Custom PlannerHave you ever wanted to plan your own meet-up for local bloggers or fellow planners in your area?

We attended a Southern California planner meet up to connect in person with the incredible individuals we so often speak with online. You may have seen the hashtag #plannerfriendsmakethebestfriends on Instagram, and it’s true! This community is simply filled with organized and stylized people.

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Breast Cancer Awareness: Pink Lotus Foundation & Erin Condren

Sam-headshot-1-copy1 Beloved EC employee and breast cancer survivor Sam Kuhr took part in the Malibu Triathlon as a member of team TBG,  a group of survivors, family members and supporters,  lead by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Tiffany Grunwald, and included Dr. Kristi Funk of the Pink Lotus Foundation. To honor her courage & support this wonderful foundation, Erin Condren is proudly donating 50% of all proceeds of our signature lotus design sold in October. Read more of Sam’s triathlon tale and how you can show your support, too!

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So… I have just competed in the 2016 Malibu Triathlon. I was asked to be part of a relay team by my fantastic reconstructive surgeon, who has sponsored Team TBG for the past 6 years.  Each year her office has dedicating this event to the strong women that their practice has been privileged to care for – all breast cancer survivors. These survivors inspire others with their courage, perseverance, and ability to remain positive as their bodies heal. (Yes, my doctors are angels sent from heaven!)  As I cycled through the rolling hills of Malibu for 25 miles last Sunday, I had plenty of time to reflect on the past 16 months.  I couldn’t help but think about how competing in the triathlon was an analogy for my cancer diagnosis and treatment.   Let me share why.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first couple of weeks were filled with anxiety, fear of the unknown, and apprehension.  Similarly, when I agreed to be the bike “leg” of our relay team, and was standing waiting for my swimmer to arrive and pass over the electronic chip that measured our time, I was filled with that same anxiety and fear of the unknown.  In fact, when I told my husband that I was biking in the triathlon, his response was, “really?… but you’re not a biker!” You see I’m not… in fact I didn’t even have a bike growing up as a child, but I was assigned this leg of the relay, and rather than try to switch to be a runner where I’d be most comfortable, I just decided to dig deep and figure out how to do it.

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Finally my swimmer finished the mile swim and passed over the chip.  I had my helmet on and was ready to race.  My heart was pumping and, as this was my first triathlon, I didn’t know what to expect. For some reason I was able to put all my anxiety behind me and just start pedaling through the sea of bikers and make my way to the beautiful course along the Pacific.  It was almost instinctual.  It was that same feeling I had when I finalized my treatment plan to attack my cancer. I had chosen my amazing team of doctors after rounds of questions, interviews, and research, and scheduled my double mastectomy. Both times, I didn’t know what to expect… yet I was able to just get going and instinctively move through the process.

At first, I was very hesitant to shift gears. I didn’t really want to pass people, and my stomach was swirling with the ‘what-if’s’.  What if I couldn’t finish the race?  What if I got a flat and couldn’t fix it? What if I fell and twisted my ankle? I mean how embarrassing would that be!?!  Those same feelings were racing around my head as I began preparing for my big surgery.  I had a happy smile on the outside, but inside I was apprehensive, running all of the ‘what if’ scenarios.  Are my will and living trust current?  Did I pay all of the bills?  Do the boys have enough underwear?  What if I die on the table? Do I have enough food for them to eat for a month?  Should I write letters for their wedding days in case something goes horribly wrong? What if they find something else? You wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff that popped into my head.

After the first few rolling hills, at about mile 6, I realized that this was actually not too hard. I began to settle comfortably into the ride, and I realized that I totally had this.  In fact, I began to shift gears, and suddenly it was ME saying ‘on your left’… and passing people!    Same as the first big surgery… I’m not going to lie… it was a monster… but after the first few days, and I began to settle into my new normal, I also realized that I totally had this.  My boys were fine, my friends were bringing food every day, and I was starting to heal.  Yay!

There were a couple of really big hills that caused me to shift gears a little higher and were a bit of a challenge, but again… I knew that I had this and I was cruising along the course. Before I knew it, I was at the halfway point and turning the hairpin bend to ride home. I had that same feeling after my third surgery.  I totally had this, I was recovering as quickly as I could each time, our family was in this bizarre cancer rhythm now, and I had my eye on the finish line.

The last 5 miles were challenging with lots of hills, but I realized that I was overtaking a LOT of people… even those spandex wearing, fierce looking, seasoned cyclists riding funny looking aerodynamic bikes.   My inside voice was saying, “On your left beefcake… let this Warrior Goddess through to pedal off into the sunset… watch and learn!”  And when I reached the finish line, I felt so strong, proud, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.  Similarly when I was entering my fifth and final surgery of 2015, instead of feeling weak and frail, I felt stronger than ever.  I knew what to expect and what I needed to do to reach the finish line.  And I could almost taste it.

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My experience with Team TBG was incredible, emotional, and life-changing.  We had all been through so much physically and emotionally in the doctor’s office and on the racecourse, and the gratitude and connection we all felt was overwhelming. We shared this incredible energy and experience to raise awareness and funds for three breast cancer foundations. Our 23 teams of cancer survivors, family members, and my incredible doctors, Dr. Kristi Funk and Dr. Tiffany Grunwald all crushed it together!

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Erin Condren has always supported breast cancer awareness.  She is proud to support the Pink Lotus Foundation, and is donating 50% of the purchase price of a Pink Lotus collection item in our signature designs back to the Pink Lotus Foundation.

XOXO

Samantha Kuhr

 

Geaux Wild Conference in NOLA!

When I was first approached to keynote the inaugural Geaux Wild conference in New Orleans, I was SO excited. One of our company initiatives this year is to get out and meet as many of our fabulous fans as possible, so this made for an easy decision in sponsoring the conference, and bringing our fab marketing team on the road for the party!

We all met at LAX, and of course we won the most stylish luggage at the airport award. We’re asked quite often if we are going to carry luggage again, and we may…. we just have a few other exciting projects to conquer before revisiting that realm.

We landed in New Orleans and embraced the humidity as we drove to the hotel. We could not have prepared for our arrival in our wildest dreams. The hotel lobby was filled with hundreds of attendees who welcomed us with so much joy. These amazing women all use their planners to manage their lives in a different way, and it was incredible to hear the different stories of how we help them stay organized.  After a few selfies and hugs, we headed to our rooms.

That night we headed out to Peche for an amazing seafood dinner and cocktails. We enjoyed Bourbon Street, O’Brien’s, and we were even caught in a flash storm.  We seriously were soaked to the bones, and arrived back at the hotel like drowned rats! The lobby was again filled with amazing fans that wanted to meet us all, and we were happy to hug, chat, and take ‘mascara running down our faces’ selfies with them.

Geaux Wild day 1, was incredible. We were blown away with the professionalism of the conference, the charge of energy in a room of 450 smart women, and we realized that we had found our people! Planner Nerds Unite! We enjoyed the day listening to the various speakers, meeting so many of our customers and fans in person (beats email communication any day), and answering questions about our products.

Friday evening was very special. A handful of girls that we have worked with for years were also attending the conference. We knew we had to do something special to show our appreciation of their hard work, and to finally get to know them, outside of an email inbox. We planned an intimate dinner at Emeril’s and together, we all celebrated our journey, made personal connections, and toasted to future endeavors. It was a very special evening. I even shared my engagement story to #foxyhilary (I saw online somewhere that he had his own hashtag… ha!), we lamented the challenges that we’ve faced as a growing business, and shared a ‘Cheers!’ tradition (we’ll save that for another blog post!) and we ate, drank, celebrated, and gave party favors to all!

Saturday was also fantastic. This was the day of my keynote speech and I was blown away by the support and warmth I felt from the room of over 400 like-minded, beautiful, strong women. Also, shoutout to Jen Dufore who spoke before me, your speech was AMAZING! It was such an inspiring afternoon, and the party was just getting started.

We were still on a high from the keynote, but had a lot of work to do to prepare for the grand finale…. PlanJama! We set up a lounge to view the new LifePlanner™ collection, blew up massive balloons, added our products to the tables, and set up a meet and greet area. We headed out for a quick dinner and then raced back to our rooms to put on our matching mid-century circle PJ’s that were made especially for this event!

We arrived at Planjama and the party was in full swing. We spent the night dancing, mingling, taking selfies, and greeting all of the attendees. It was SO much fun and I can officially say – all parties should require pajamas.

We were a little slow getting up on Sunday… we packed, ate one last amazing New Orleans meal (obvi), grabbed beignets from Café Du Monde, and headed to the airport.

Thank you so much to the Geaux Wild organizers for having us and making us feel so welcome. We were truly touched to meet each and every attendee at the conference, and we’re looking forward to taking our party on the road again soon!

Let’s Party: Au Fudge Press Event

You don’t need to ask me twice to throw a party… so when my team came up with the brilliant idea to host a press event showcasing our new LifePlanner™, I was immediately sold. We reserved a serene space at the amazing new restaurant, Au Fudge in West Hollywood and began the party prep. We knew there had to be food, flowers and FUN, and so there was just that. Mixed summertime blooms in bright corals, pinks and yellows brought the LifePlanner™ party to life one pop of color at a time.

As the intimate group of influencers started to trickle in, the room began to beam with excitement and chatter of which layout each attendee had chosen. We pre-printed each gal’s book to ensure she was ready to rock her new LifePlanner™ look upon arrival.

We even set up a DIY decorating desk for attendee’s to stage a snapchat or start filling out their new book!

Planning is hard work, so we made sure all attendees we’re fueled up for a long day of chatting and planning with light bites and sweet treats. Mini waffles and tea sandwiches made for a delightfully delicious afternoon.

All that was left was for our guests to go home and start planning. It was such a pleasant afternoon showcasing our new LifePlanner™ collection and getting to know a few of the gals we work with and appreciate so dearly. We can definitely say the event was a success and we can’t wait for the next!

Are you interested in working with us? Please email our team at social.media@erincondren.com!

Sk8 for the Schools Fundraiser

Sam KuhrMy dear friend and beloved EC employee, Sam, has always illustrated the highest form of bravery and strength . This year, on the first anniversary of her kicking cancer’s butt, Sam brought the Hermosa Beach community together to raise awareness to the fight against breast cancer and coincidentally to celebrate her one year being cancer free. Along side her beautiful family and a generous group of skateboarders dressed in pink, the community came together and demonstrated what fundraising is all about.  Read on for her account of the day!

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April 29th was our 10th annual Sk8 for the Schools. My son, Sebastian “Seabass,” started the fundraiser as a way to giveback to the schools and raise money for the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation. He overheard my husband and I discussing the funding crisis at his small school as a Kindergartner, and decided he’d do fancy tricks on his skateboard and ask for donations to help raise money.

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Each year we host this fundraiser building awareness for the cause, and raising money for our community schools. Last year, Sk8 for the Schools raised more than $8,000 and has raised over $35,000 to date. This year, Seabass has a new school. He’s grown out of the Hermosa Beach City School District and attends high school at Loyola High School. He passed the torch to his younger brother, Julian, a fifth grader at Hermosa Valley. Julian has grown up watching his brother skate, has helped with the event over the years, and is now ready to keep the family tradition alive. If the truth be told, he’s hoping to raise more money than his brother.

Last year the event took on an extra special meaning, as I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer during a routine mammogram. Ironically the date of our event was scheduled for the exact same day as my double mastectomy. We quickly held the event 5 days before my surgery, and the event took on a pink hue, to bring awareness to breast cancer. We wanted to encourage all women to conduct self checks and schedule their regular mammograms. The boys skated in pink, we served pink lemonade, and the whole community showed up in pink to support our family, and this annual community event.

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This year the boys again skated in pink to celebrate my one year anniversary of being CANCER FREE, and again to remind people to schedule their regular check ups. The event is open to all kids who want to skate with my boys. They help train little ones and perform skate tricks with the bigger, more advanced kids. It’s all about getting together as a community, to celebrate the youth in Hermosa Beach, and support the local schools. We have raised over $35,000 for our local schools, and we have no plans to stop this annual event.

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My husband and I feel that community service with our children is important for so many reasons. It feels good for starters. The satisfaction and pride that comes from hosting this event year after year, cannot be taught in a classroom, and we hope to foster a civic responsibility in our boys for years to come. I encourage everyone to do something for others this summer. You don’t have to host an annual fundraiser to give back… but you could help out at a hospital, pick up litter at a park, make treats for a local senior home or donate some old toys to a shelter, to name a few. To quote the great Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

xo,

Samantha Kuhr

We Love Teachers: Teach For America Partnership!

I truly have the utmost respect for Teachers. As I’ve mentioned, both my parents were educators and have been the most incredible role models to me and THOUSANDS of students they have influenced over the decades they spent in the classroom. It’s one of the toughest jobs and also one of the most important careers since they are shaping our youth around the world. Teachers are typically challenged with over crowded classrooms and limited resources, yet they somehow find the energy and passion to approach each day with a positive attitude that will inspire children in their formative years. Creating an inspirational Lesson Planner has been a dream of mine for many years. I was thrilled to collaborate with focus groups on this project and I’m extremely proud of how the planner continues to evolve year after year.

Last year I was feeling very “Oprah-like” as we surprised many schools with Teacher’s Lesson Planners for their entire staff! Teachers give so much of themselves day after day to our youth, it felt good to give something in return. Teachers4 This year we are taking our philanthropic efforts one step further. Teach For America is an organization that I have admired for many years and we’ve been determined to find a way to collaborate and help with their efforts nationwide. TFA is on a mission to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence. This is a tough challenge with obstacles such as racism, outdated policies, lack of resources, and much more. To make things right we must come together as students, teachers, principals, activists, social entrepreneurs, politicians, and all others to disrupt the causes of injustice and create solutions.

I am proud to say that EC can help with this mission by donating $1 from every single Teacher’s Lesson Planner sold to Teach For America in support of their work with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty.

You can help us give back to our nation’s highest-need kids in classrooms across the country by spreading the word to all the teachers you know! To learn more about Teach For America, visit their website: www.teachforamerica.org.

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Teach For America

25 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10004

$1 of the purchase price from the sale of each Teacher Lesson Planner sold in the continental United States will be contributed to TEACH FOR AMERICA. This contribution is not tax deductible by purchasers. The promotion shall last until 5/31/2016.

 

Putting the FUN in Fundraising: Hearts of Hermosa 2016

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With more cuts in state funding of public schools, it’s becoming more and more challenging to get the support we need to get the education our kids deserve. Years ago, our precious school had to cut our our music program and we fight each year to save our library and other valuable assets that can’t survive without the funds we raise in our community.

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Our largest fundraiser of the year is called HEARTS OF HERMOSA and we literally pop a (huge) tent in a parking lot in the heart of Hermosa Beach.

The committee of volunteers is incredible, and the key is making it FUN so others want to get involved! We have to learn how to get creative on a budget so here are some tips to help YOU put the FUN into your fundraising!

Without a big budget for beautiful blooms, choose simple florals that make a big impact. The cascading green Amaranthus was the perfect compliment to the large Hydrangeas and made it easy for a team of volunteers to arrange at all the sponsored tables. Call on local businesses to fill a “swag bag.” Promotional giveaways are great marketing for many small town shops and everyone loves to leave with a party favor!

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Don’t leave out the crafty moms!  This hand-painted broom started at $50 and really complemented my evening’s look!

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Create unique and one-of-a-kind auction items that people will want to fight for! We have each classroom create a special project for the silent auction and I am always blown away by the creativity! Precious photos and wall art always seem to get the highest bids.

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Don’t forget to call on your local photographer to provide a photo booth!

Create a committee to solicit donations from your favorite companies all over the country! It is tax deductible for their business and it will hopefully bring more eyeballs to their products and websites.

As a business owner and donor myself, it feels good to give back! We get hundreds of requests each month for donations and just couldn’t keep up with the inquiries. Soooo, we are automating this process through the website and hope to be set up soon to send an EC Donation Kit to support your cause later this year!

Tips + Tricks for Spring Break Travel

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Spring is here and so is SPRING BREAK! Whether you’re traveling with your kids, creating your own “spring break” or jetting off for a quick weekend getaway, make sure to make the most of your packing with my tried and true travel tips and tricks! The best part is you probably have these already at home.

  • My favorite tip has to be using good old Press ‘N’ Seal wrap to store jewelry. This ensures that it doesn’t snag on clothes, tangle with other jewelry or get all messed up during your travels!

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  • Another favorite trick is to store bobby pins in an old mint tin, like a tic tac box. If you’re anything like me, your bobby pins just happen to disappear no matter where you store them. This ensures they are contained and easily dispensed. (Plus if you have young kids, it keeps them out of harm’s way.)
  • Another genius (if I do say so myself) tip is to store liquid toiletries in contact lens cases. If you’re flying, then you know how limited you are when it comes to packing toiletries. Skip the large lotion and just squirt out a small amount to take with you in the easy & portable contact lens case.
  •   An easy and compartmentalized way to store earrings is in a pill box! You can coordinate your jewelry for each day of your trip as well as guarantee you won’t lose a back in your loose bag.
  •  Always pack extra ziplock bags for last minute storage for wet bathing suits, dirty clothes or whatever you don’t want mixing with your other luggage! This way you can stay in the pool until the very last minute!
  • Speaking of packing last minute…if you’re using any hot hair tools, don’t wait for them to cool, simply pack an oven mitt and easily slide your hot iron into the oven mitt so you can get on the road.
  •  And of course, don’t forget your NEW TakeNote™ Journal for note taking on-the-go and recording all the amazing things you encounter on your travels!

Watch the video below for my entire list of packing tips, from an interview I did on Fox 11 last year!

Happy Travels!