Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Real Life vs. Reel Life

“This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.” 


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Mornings be like...

Over the weekend a former (?) “mommy blogger” wrote what she’d I’m sure like to think is a scathing piece about the mommy blogging industry and the lack of authenticity. It was more than ironic coming from someone whos’ most recent blog and Instagram posts were of the sponsored variety. That of course got the blogging comminuyt as a whole talking about authenticity and what it really means. Some people thought her argument had merit (I sort of side eye those people because what are you if not authentic, in your writing?) and while there ARE bloggers out there who are just shilling whatever for a check, that’s on them. For some reason this woman felt compelled to come down on a whole niche of an industry because of …… well we don’t know really. Let’s chalk it up to Mercury retrograde shall we? However, it got everyone talking among themselves and in various groups about who is really real and who is not.
And while some people claim extreme levels of authenticity one has to wonder, are they REALLY? I mean, if you have team that helps you pull off all of your fabulous content? Say it! Own it! Simply state, I have a photographer who takes my photos but I edit them, and someone else helps me w/ flatlays and other static content for sponsored Social Media and then I have a videographer and friend who’s a stylist and pulls things on occasion etc….
THAT is being authentic. There are so many out there “doin’ it for the ‘gram” that it can be hard to discern what’s real and what’s not.  We live in a world saturated w/ celebs doin the most and even people we used to know Facebook flexin’ just because they can. I even had friends I don’t see regularly question how much time / money I spend shopping simply because they saw me post photos of something I loved or maybe tried on and said I wanted. News flash people, I don’t BUY ALL THE THINGS every time. We’d be homeless and broke if I did.

C2C_sweetpea_mamalife


After that, I made it a point to keep things “one hunnid” in my social media life.
But at the same time I had to laugh, my home girl and I have been talking about this very thing for over a year – people are going to get tired of the cookie-cutter, everything is great and life is fine posts. And even the ones where everything isn’t “great!” but the photo is still beautiful, and filtered with perfectly ‘staged’ clutter.  That’s how people show they’re “authentic” these days. Sure you might get a bare faced selfie every now and again but please believe they are in the best lighting and that’s 1 of at least 100 shots taken.  But practice what you preach right?




please note my dirty bathroom mirror and child in pajama top & sweats.

So, do I show the really REAL side of me on social media? I’d like to think so. Do I tell EVERYTHING? No. Absolutely not. Everything is not for everybody. But do I share when I’m having a shitty day? Yup. Am I honest about my kitchen successes and fails? For sure.  I own the days I’m in workout gear all day, and haven’t worked not nary a muscle other than my Twitter fingers. I share when my kids are off the chain and we haven’t had a date night in months. Because that’s real life.

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Doesn't get more "authentic" than this. Mid rap, no cares.

After we got back the photos from Mom 2.0 Summit, I cringed a bit as I saw how REAL I got on the dance floor, but then I shrugged it off. That’s me. If you follow my SnapChat you know I am all about the car dance and this was just next level captured in hi-res. And that got me thinking about Domain.ME ( a domain name provider that allows anyone (personal and/or business) to create a unique, safe identity online with a domain ending in .ME. ) and how to really brand oneself in an authentic manner, that is the way to go to create a site that is truly a direct representation of .ME . Literally. They also helped me to create a media kit that was creative, distinct and allowed me to fully represent what Carpools to Cocktails is all about. 

_amber_carpools2cocktails_california_love



I am a hot mess on a good day and whatever is beyond that on my worst. From Carpools to Cocktails is actually what my day to day life is and I make it a point to be as true to that always, in all ways.  I hope that if we've ever met ( or do meet) y'all feel like you have sense of who I am and what I'm about. 

How do you stay to true to who you REALLY are while still giving the world your "best"? 

Are you are your true authentic self online or do you only share the good? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Runnin Through The Ritz With My Woes







Whew, y'all, I am not ashamed to admit I am whipped.
I am still recovering from Mom 2.o as well as some kind of sinus infection situation for the last few days. I've gotten my email life together but I am so behind over here. As always, that makes me feel like a "bad blogger". 
Which is lame because, even though I may not always be writing over here, I'm all over social media and can also be found writing on MODE a couple times a month too. 


As always, the conference was well done and gave me all the feels and inspiration. I basically walked away with my tribe feeling like I have (even more) fire in my finger tips and we are about to set the world ablaze. If you've seen Mommyfriend and I's FB Live show, you know we touched a bit on how great it is to be able to go to this event once a year. To step away from the computer, out of our homes and get to know the people behind the keyboard that we fall in love with over and over again. 

carpools_to_cocktails_champagne


Mom 2 is amazing. Not just because of the quality of the conference. The keynotes and panels are always cutting edge and helpful. The marketplace is packed with brands eager to work with women in the parenting space and the location is always breathtaking. This year it was at The Ritz Carlton in Dana Point and even though it was overcast, the view could not be beat. I'm from California and grew up by the beach and it still stuns me every time. 
No, Mom 2 is special because of the people. The connections I've made and friendships that have blossomed because of it have been invaluable. I really can't put a price / feeling on what it means to me.  
Once a year I get to go be a hot mess with my girlfriends and colleagues. We're able to squeeze each other in person instead of just virtually. 


We congratulate and celebrate wins as well as work through losses. These women support me throughout the year so to be able to be with them for 2 days uninterupted (no kids) is akin to heaven. 
A lot of these women I met at the tail end of last year's conference and then became friends with on Facebook (so you know it's real) and it was magic. The connections I made have been invaluable. For real. We talk a lot about ROI in my house (D is in banking) and hands down Mom 2 is a great return on my investment. I made my money back from last year's conference tenfold so there's that. But it's not just about the cost. Well at least not for me anyway. But the really the relationships I get out of it. That's a whole other post but really, again, it's magic. 

momspark_carpools2cocktails

So there we were, squealing,hugging and crying happy tears as we caught up with our friends we only see once a year. Some of them are even local within the state but it's still hard for us to get our shit together at the same time and meet up. It was a grand reunion and it all went by so fast. As much as we also want to lock ourselves away in a room and just laugh together, we're also there to take care of business. So in between meetings with brands and marketers we snagged a few moments of magic in the hallways. 

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It was more than a pleasure to catch up with my blogging boo's. It had been far too long since we'd last been in each other's presence. 

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To cap things off, there are the IRIS Awards, in which we are able to nominate our peers in various categories throughout the parenting blogging space. There is a red carpet situation and I don't know how to behave.

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It's a glorious night and we laugh and cry and celebrate each other........and then the music comes on, the heels come off and we. get. down.
Well, at least I do.
It's no secret I love to dance so I make it a point to boogie with my boo's before we pack up and head back home to our families.
I'm #blessed to be able to be in a room with these women and call them friends. 


mom2_bloggerboos_blackgirls




We've got one night only. So we make it count. 


california_love_mom2





You can check out more of my post-awards shenanigans over on the Facebook page.


How do you celebrate or spend time with your friends? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Sweet Pea's Teenage Dream




Not too long ago my oldest entered the world of teendom. And while we held out on the full blown "oh WOW she's a TEENager" type stuff for awhile, it's officially official as Sweet Pea recently turned 14. 
Fourteen. I can't even believe it. D and I asked what she wanted to do for her birthday and her main request was to have a sleepover with her friends.
Oh yay. 




I mean, sure we had the space for 9 or so girls but did we really want to do this? I mean, I am a sleepover professional. I KNOW how it goes down. But, I also want my kid to feel comfortable in her house w/ her homegirls so yeah, I let it happen.
Being the somewhat apathetic teenager she is, getting her to pin down a theme or idea behind the sleepover was harder than I thought. Because I cruise Pinterest often I'm constantly seeing party ideas but she's not about that life yet so my struggle was real. Add to that teenage sass and well, yeah. 


However, we did agree that she just wanted it to be chill and settled on a pizza+ popcorn bar + movie night "theme" and purple + blue color scheme. We had fun shopping for all the toppings they could add to their popcorn. 

movienight_toppings
While I have memories of certain friends mothers making pancakes for us the next day, I am not about that life so we decided milk+ cereal + donuts would be the move for the morning.


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Basically I hopped them up on sugar and sent them home. As any good sleepover mama would do.   




I also made them drop their phones in a basket when they first got there to encourage them to interact in real time and make sure they weren't engaged in random online activity. Once upon a time I was a tween / teenager and went to my share of sleepovers, I know how it goes down and I am not trying to get a phone call from anyone's mother about questionable photos posted while at my home. No thanks. Also, I'd rather them actually engage with one another instead of sharing jokes, photos from their phones and not interacting. 



Although, they were NOT excited about an evening without their phones, all the parents were thrilled with the idea. And it turned out to be awesome. They actually talked to each other and told stories and watched ridiculous movies. 




I pretty much left them alone except to check-in every so often and make sure they weren't ruining my rug and snag some pizza. And of course, I had to snag a donut in the morning for my coffee. 
I posted a bit of the evening on my SnapChat ( you can always find me there for behind the scenes of C2C) And had several friends check-in the next morning to see if I survived and got any sleep. The truth, is not really, but the girls had a blast and Sweet Pea got to be with her people in her element and that made my heart happy. 

What do you to celebrate birthdays? What was your most memorable birthday to date? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Outdoor Inspiration

If you're playing along at home an follow me elsewhere, you already know that we moved recently and have been slowly but surely turning this new space into a home of our own. After all the boxes are unpacked my next project will be the outdoor space.
It's different than any space we've ever had. While it's about the same size as our last location, it's laid out differently and has way more grass and space for a plant bed / herb garden so that's really cool. I've been saying for years I want to grow an herb garden w/ Sweet Pea and Baby Ninja but we just barely got the grass growing at the last place so it's been a slooooow, process getting me to the garden stage. I have delusions of grandeur but I'm hoping this new space will take me beyond inspiration and straight into action. 

At some point in the last two years we bought a blow up pool but never had enough grass (or time) to get it set up and utilize it. This summer though, it's going down. I'm pretty excited. I get to set up my outdoor " bar" and have some fun ideas for decor and toys.  We're pretty laid back people and want the overall vibe of our house to be welcoming and chill. That extends to the backyard as well. 


Outdoor Inspiration



Outdoor yard decor / Wood patio umbrella / LA SIESTA outdoor hammock / Pedestal side table / Sunnylife battery operated fairy light / Outdoor garden decor / IKEA ARHOLMA Sofa combination, brown, beige / IKEA ÄPPLARÖ Gateleg table, brown / show more, Marimekko, brand shop : Target / SOMMAR 2016 / SOLVINDEN / SOLVINDEN / SOLVINDEN / SOLVINDEN / SOLVINDEN


I'm a beach girl so I love the cool blue hues and it looks like IKEA is feeling my vibe as well because their summer collection is just screaming for me to play around with it. I'd love to do some sort of sofa type seating, whether that's a pallet type thing or an actual all weather patio set. Add in a rug to make it more of a living space as well as curtains for privacy and sun protection, some fun string lights (the flamingos, I die) for atmosphere and you have a kick-ass lounge space. Obviously a fire pit is in order because S'MORES post swim in a So Cal summer is like a right of passage. I don't want my kids to miss out on that. We'd also love to add in an outdoor dining table and bold umbrella. Paired with maybe some brightly colored mis-matched thrifted chairs and other random accessories and I think our backyard will be the place to be. 


If you've been following this blog for some time you know this isn't my first trip into the world of "OMG I WANT/NEED THAT FOR MY YARD" and then never doing anything. However - this time, THIS TIME, I am vowing no clothes or frivolous buys until my yard is set. I have a feeling it's going to be a LONG hot summer out here and as much time as we can spend outdoors the better. Also,  


I have visions of enjoying my coffee out on the patio while the kids play, laptop in front of me on an ottoman, cup of coffee and a magazine next to me, the breeze blowing the curtains ever so gently, and perhaps a candle in a hurricane vase and just yeah.....can you see it? Cuz I can, come on summer!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

7 Uncommon Gifts I'd Love to Get & Gift


It's no secret I'm low-key obsessed with online shopping and as a self-proclaimed shopping ninja I am perpetually looking for new places to score unique goods. I love the idea of artisan style pieces that are unique and have a story behind them while also being extremely cool. At least in my opinion.
And while shoes and books are what I love, it's not always what I want to get. Those are more things I want to buy for myself. But a dope gift from a friend? That's kind of my jam. So when I stumbled across UnCommon Goods, a Brooklyn based business, and I was both pissed and pleased. Pissed because how the hell have I been missing out on this site for so long? 
I mean, they have a mixtape pillow and a taco kit for cryin' out loud!  A taco kit + storage. Y'all. Again, HOW HAVE I MISSED THIS???



uncommon_goods_collage

Shop the set below:

Bar tool / Drinkware / Indoor outdoor throw pillow / One11 Imports DIY Cinema Lightbox / Taco Serving Kit and Storage Box | taco holders, serving kit |... / Milkshake Diagram Glasses - Set of 4 | milkshake recipe |... / Smoothie Dice | Handmade kitchen decor, wooden smoothie dice, smoothie...



So after getting lost in the site for several hours I decided to make a quick list of things I might like to have or gift for housewarmings, birthdays, heck, mother's day is right around the corner and it seems there's always a reason to gift someone with something right? Naturally I made a list cuz I'm visual and hella organized like that. Really, I just don't want to forget what I saw and where so it's best to do it this way don't ya think? I will Pin the crap out of everything (and I have) but rather than dig through all of those......I digress.


And then I did some further digging and found out a little more about the UnCommon Goods brand and how they operate by pairing with designers, artists and creators by giving them a platform to showcase their wares. About one-third of which are made of recycled material and now turned into quality goods. I can get down with that cause.  They've even made it super easy to find stuff for EVERYONE at any price point. Add to that I can order it from my living room? 

I'm a total convert. 

What's your favorite uncommon gift to give? 




*I was compensated for this post but all opinions and ideas wherein are my own. 

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