Posts Tagged ‘PR Trips’

Behind the Scenes with Aldi Supermarket

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This past week I got the unique opportunity to step behind the scenes and find out more about Aldi Supermarket and the products that they offer their customer. As a longtime fan of the grocery retailer, I could not wait to see how this company operated and, frankly, how in the world they can offer food for such a low price.

During the trip I got to do a wine and cheese tasting, got a grocery store tour to learn more about how their stores were set up, and then I got to participate in a blind taste-testing of the products to see how they compared with other national brands.  There was truly not a single element of this trip that I was not fascinated with.

The first question on everyone’s mind was how do they get their prices so low?

This is an answer that we were told would take years to explain, but the main points all pointed to simple cost-cutting measures, employee training that goes beyond other grocery stores,  a limited selection of items, smart store design, and in-house private labels. The savings are in the big things like having baking items on pallets and dairy items on rolling carts so the employees don’t need to stock shelves and then are reflected in the smaller things like the quarter deposit for your cart and bagging those groceries yourself.

All of these little and big things translate into great prices for their customers.

If you have ever stood in a line at Aldi, one thing you will see is that these cashiers work at lightning speed and can wait on customers quicker than any other store I have ever been to. You may not know it, but Aldi offers smart packaging that can speed up your wait time at their store. In this picture is a single bag of chips, simply held at all different angles. Practically every corner of their bags and boxes have a UPC code that can make scanning your items that much faster.  Go ahead and take a peek in your pantry at your Aldi items and you will see it too. It is one of those things that you may have never noticed, but translates into saving time for you.

The typical Aldi store only has between 6-8 employees and it is common for their employees to celebrate 15, 20, or 25 years of service. They pay their employees significantly higher than the national average and with 20 hours a week, they give their employees full health insurance benefits. Employees go through extensive training and they do everything from putting out the new pallets of food to ringing up the customers to tidying the store. It is this efficiency and the smaller pay rolls that translate into big savings for their customers.

Perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was discovering the amazing wine selection that Aldi offers. I admitted that I walked by the wine section of the store because the low prices on the bottles made me question the quality of the wine. I will never look at their wine section the same again after their wine tasting.  Don’t believe me? Aldi has received many awards and accolades for their wines.

Here are just a few of the accolades that Aldi has received. Did I mention these bottles are all under $6?

Wine Spectator

Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc
Best Values Award
Received 85 points

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
Received 85 points

Beverage Testing Institute

Landshut (Germany) Riesling Mosel 2010
2010 World Value Wine Challenge- Top 10 White Wine $8 and Under Exceptional Value
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010
World Value Wine Challenge- Top Dessert Wine $8 and Under Best Value German Dessert Wine
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

Of those wines that I sampled, I fell in love with the Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti, the Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009, and the Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010.  Most of the bottles were $4.99, which make them quite affordable both for entertaining and for giving around the holiday season.

We paired these wines with some of Aldi’s cheese offerings which included a delicious goat cheese, a Havarti cheese, and Brie cheese. All of the cheeses were equally delicious and I am looking forward to offering these with these wines around the holidays.

I am a longtime customer and super fan of the products that Aldi offers, but the blind taste test that I participated in surprised even a super fan like me.  Aldi is challenging shoppers to switch from national brands to their private label Aldi brand for the holidays, to save their families up to fifty percent on their shopping.

We sampled many items from their holiday line and compared them to the national brands. Even though I love Aldi, I can be a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain foods like high quality cheeses and meats.

When we taste tested Tyson chicken versus Aldi chicken, I truly loved the Aldi brand better. I knew the meat that I had tasted must have been the Tyson meat, but I was dead wrong. It goes to show that sometimes we are just conditioned to believe one brand is better than the other.

Another surprise was the difference between Mrs. Smith’s apple pie versus the Aldi Belmont Deep Dish Apple Pie.  The Aldi pie is pictured on the right and you can tell just by looking at the bottom of the crust that the pie cooked and browned more evenly.  The difference in the taste was significant and the price was 28% lower.

Even being the Aldi fan girl that I am,  I came away feeling validated that the choice that I had made to shop at the store, out of necessity due to the financial strain we had been under, for our family was a good one.  The cost-cutting measures of the store do not cost-cut on the bottom line of the quality of the items in the store. In fact, the company does their best to offer a better product that the name brand.  After doing this blind taste-testing, I believe they have exceeded the standard.

If you haven’t checked out the store before, you really are missing out on so much.  I can feed my family of four for $220 for three weeks by shopping there. I do not clip coupons. I do 95% of my shopping at this store. I am rarely disappointed in the quality. If I ever was disappointed though, they offer a double guarantee and I could bring the item back for a refund and get it replaced. I don’t know very many places that offer that to their customers.

If you want to learn more about shopping at the store, I have several resources that you can check out on the site:

Aldi Supermarket

Aldi Menu Planner

Aldi Fall/Winter Menu Planner

The Aldi Queen Blog

If I was a fan girl of Aldi before, this trip took it to another level for me. I can confidently say that this store is THE place for families on a budget.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s talk! Have you shopped at Aldi Supermarket before? Did anything surprise you about the behind the scenes look? What is your favorite item to buy at the store? Please share!

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An Orlando Treasure: GatorLand

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Ethan and I had a fantastic time in Orlando and I am looking forward to sharing about some of the attractions that we visited and ways you can save on enjoying many things in Orlando while you are there. We truly enjoyed our visit to Orlando and the experiences and memories we created together were just priceless.

To start this series, I wanted to share with you my absolute favorite place that we visited and some ideas for ways that you can save on your ticket to this attraction and many others that you might be visiting. You might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t Disney that holds a special place in my heart. In fact, it wasn’t anything that I thought would be that exciting, but I was quickly proven wrong by an amazing little theme park called, “GatorLand.”

GatorLand definitely is not a new attraction to Orlando residents, but we had never heard of it before and my little guy was so excited to see a few Florida gators for himself. GatorLand might sound  like a quaint touristy spot to visit, but it is, in fact, a 110-acre theme park and a nature conservatory for the city of Orlando.

When I say theme park though,  it isn’t the kind of theme park that you might think of when heading to Orlando. They have no big relationships with corporate companies, real animals (not mechanical ones) are located there, real people are guiding you and sharing about the animals, and kids are gobbling up every minute of these beautiful animals and their stories.

Upon entering, we were introduced to the four very rare white alligators that are currently residing in the White Alligator Swamp. These are not Albino alligators, but a very rare breed that actually have blue eyes and the white pigmentation to their skin. It is thought that there are only a dozen of their kind in the world, and four of them have happily made their home there. Technically, they are named leucistic (loo-SIS-tic), which is basically a genetic defect which produces their white pigment and the bright blue eyes that make them so unique.

While there were many alligators there, there were perhaps a few hundred more birds that are located on the property. They had everything from herons, to wood storks, to vultures that were happily residing near the alligators that were lazily swimming in the water. Our tour guide informed us that the birds love to make their nests and be near the alligators because the alligators protect them (and their eggs) from other predators. The alligators have no interest in bothering the birds and the birds know that they can make a home there.

The spot is a hot one for photographers and people come from all over the world to photograph the birds there. Photographers can buy a  pass and come in the early morning hours to sneak a peek at the birds. It was quite unbelievable all of the varieties of birds that were on the property. It would be a great place to bring a trusty bird guide and discover birds with your children!

Kids can get a closer look at the alligators in their “Gator Wrestlin’ ” arena. No worries, there was no wrestling other than the wrestling required to get the animal out of the water and give kids the opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures. They offer survival tips on what to do if you are ever in the path of a gator and share facts about what makes alligators so unique. Stunts, like the ones pictured above, showcase the strength of the alligator’s jaw.

For an additional $5, they offer the chance to pose with a real alligator, in the arena, which my son was very eager to do. The extra five dollars goes towards the care and food for the animals. This was all done under the watchful care of their trainers.

If your children love the creepy crawlers, then they won’t want to miss the Up Close Encounters Show. You never know what kind of animal you might be introduced to next as they unveil a variety of different snakes and spiders from behind the crated boxes. Volunteers are brought up from the audience for the great unveiling which the kids will definitely get a kick out of… especially if their mom is the one that gets selected!

There is so much more to do that we didn’t even get a chance to see while we visited. They offer a train ride around the property, a water park that the kids can play in to keep cool, and you can even sit down and have lunch or a latte there.

The price of admission is as follows:

Adult- $22.99 (if purchased online, $19.99)

Child- $14.99 (if purchased online, $11.99)

To save a little more on your visit to GatorLand, head over to print out a free 2010 Orlando Magicard which provides year-round savings at more than 75 area establishments including attractions, accommodations, restaurants, dinner theaters, ground transportation, golf courses, and cultural arts.

The Orlando Magicard is free and can be downloaded at, requested for mail delivery by calling 1-800-551-0181, or picked up at The Official Visitors Center in Orlando. The 2010 version of the card provides expanded offers including theme park deals and other significant savings options such as free nights plus additional free amenities at area accommodations; buy one ticket, get one free offers at attractions; or straight discounts up to 50% off.

If you use the Orlando Magicard at GatorLand, you can score a free train ride for each paid admission.

As a parting gift, on our way out each child got to hold a baby alligator.  The kids were so excited and were all amazed at just how tiny these alligators start out.

I was so taken into the moment that I even took the opportunity to hold the baby alligator myself. If you know me at all, you know that this is so not like me. I will say that my son couldn’t have been more proud of his mommy and I am so proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone a little!

We would like to thank GatorLand for giving us the opportunity to explore and learn more about what they offer and to experience a place in Orlando that we would have never known about. It is a hidden gem that I highly recommend if you are ever in the Orlando area.

Disclaimer: We were invited by the Orland/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau for an all-expenses paid trip to experience Orlando and share with our readers about our experience. All-expenses paid means that our travel, hotel stay, visits to area attractions, and food were covered by the company. We will receive no other additional compensation for the project and are asked for our honest opinions without any further obligation. To find out more about how things work here at MomAdvice, please feel free to visit our official Disclaimer page!

Do you have any hidden gems that you have found in your state or in another that you highly recommend visiting for a family vacation? Please feel free to share cool things about your own town or links to past entries on great places to travel!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Movie Review

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I had the unique experience of attending a fantastic movie premiere of a great family film that I know you are going to want to see! I was given the opportunity to have a round table discussion with the stars and directors of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” and earned a small place of honor on the red carpet to interview and photograph the stars.

Sony hosted a wonderful event for bloggers to learn more about their products and offer in-depth photography tutorials from the amazing Me Ra Koh. For someone who is still figuring out the world of photography, I was more than willing to participate in such a fun event. We got to take our cameras out on the Sony Studio Lot and even gained a little behind-the-scenes access on sets that were being built for future movies.

All that being said, I really want to focus on what a wonderful movie this was for children and adults alike.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is about an aspiring inventor, Flint Lockwood, who is the socially awkward genius behind some pretty bizarre contraptions. His inventions include everything from a pair of spray-on shoes to a monkey thought translator. Flint is determined though to create something that will make people happy.

When Flint’s latest machine, designed to turn water into food, accidentally destroys the town square and rockets up into the clouds, he thinks his inventing career is over. Until something amazing happens… cheeseburgers begin raining from the sky.

Unfortunately, the people in the town become increasingly more greedy and the mayor decides to change what the town was once famous for (sardines) to a town that is famous for raining food. The greed and demands from the people force the machine to begin making more and more food and the town is threatened to become buried in a food avalanche. To save his town and reputation, Flint has to figure out a way to stop it and save them from certain disaster.

The movie is a delight for the eyes and will make you hungry just watching it. The animation is superb and food highlights include the raining cheeseburgers and a fantastic animation sequence with orange Jell-O. In other words, be sure to have lots of popcorn to feed your children or suffer through the whining for food through the entire show!

Anna Faris
Mr. T
Neil Patrick Harris

The film features the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, and Will Forte. The film is written for the screen and directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller.

The directors were fantastic and truly kid’s at heart. Sitting down with them and hearing the excitement in their voices was contagious. It was truly a delight to see the pride that they felt about this project and see their favorite childhood book in animation form.

What Parents Need to Know:

- The character of Sam Sparks will be a winner for your daughters. Sam Sparks, played by Anna Faris, is the local weather girl who is hiding just how intelligent she is. This movie will show your little girls that it is totally cool to embrace your inner geek and that you should never hide how smart you are for anyone.

- There are no death scenes. Many children’s movies have death scenes which frighten my small children. The mother is in a scene in the beginning of the movie and then it is later said that she has passed away, but no heart wrenching scenes that you wish had to fast forward through. Of course, no death is ideal, but Flint’s sequence with his mother is an important one and shapes the character of Flint.

- This movie is timeless. The directors purposefully decided to create a movie that could be enjoyed years and years down the road so they omitted pop culture and anything that would not be enjoyed for years to come.

- Your whole family will love this movie. I appreciated the funny sense of humor and comedic timing in the scenes. I know that my hubby will appreciate the fantastic graphics that can truly be appreciated with those 3-D glasses, and I know my kids will love just how cool it is to be smart!

Catch this flick with your entire family when it premieres on September 18th! In the meantime, be watching for some great reviews and information from the other participants at this event:

Alli Worthington @ Blissfully Domestic (Represented by Cassie Boorn)
Beth Blecherman @ Techmamas
Darcy Cruwys @ Mommy Pie
Karen Bodkin @ Karen Sugarpants
Kimberley Blaine @ The Go-To Mom
Kristina Sauerwein @ MOMformation
Melinda Roberts @ The Mommy Blog
Monica Villa @ The Online Mom

I give this two mommy thumbs up for fun entertainment and a thoughtful discussion about how cool it is to be smart and believing in yourself!

HOT TIP: Get a FREE movie ticket to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs when you purchase any Spot Shot product! Great deal, there’s even a $1 printable coupon you can use on your purcha
se. (Courtesy of Heather at Freebies 4 Mom!

(Disclosure- My travel and airfare were covered by the Sony team. To read more about how things are handled by, be sure to read our full disclosure.)

The Campbell’s Blogger Event

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I wanted to share with you a little bit about my quick trip out to Philadelphia. It was for the very first (and hopefully not the last) Campbell’s Blogger Event. It was such an honor to be invited and help pave the way into the world of social media and blogging with their company.

I was in truly the best company, surrounded among some of the best women in the blogging business., Stacy Debroff, Elizabeth Edwards, Anne-Marie Nichols, Elizabeth Thielke, Liz Thompson, Christine Young, Dawn Meehan, Carmen Staicer, Deb Steenhagen, MJ Tam

I felt so lucky to have been invited and looked forward to my time in Philadelphia with the Campbell Soup Company. One of the best PR agencies in the world, in my humble opinion, Weber Shandwick, arranged our event and did an excellent job of fielding our calls as poor weather and flight cancellations from many of us made it difficult to get to our destination. We all arrived safe and sound though and settled into our wonderful accommodations for the night, to begin our day with Campbell’s in the morning.

When we arrived we hung out in the lobby and got a kick out of what was sitting behind the receptionist. Hot water, juice, and tomato soup. Everything you might need while waiting in the reception area at the Campbell Soup Company!

We filed in for a breakfast with some of the wonderful people behind the company. One of the highlights for me was listening to Pat Montgomery, in charge of the Global Nutrition, share not only about their products, but also opening it up to us for discussion about our concerns about their products and how they could help us make the dinner hour easier. Many of the moms in our group shared their difficulties with all gathering around the dinner table, others had children suffering from severe food allergies, and other moms were looking for the best bang for their buck. I bet you can guess which category I fell under? Nothing was off limits and the time that they spent with us… invaluable and never rushed.

These were some of the images that they had gathered from moms when explaining how they felt about making dinners. The time bomb, no answers for dinners, complete chaos, and the feelings of being cornered were all voiced by the moms they surveyed. We all laughed, but agreed that dinner can often be a challenge for our families.

After our discussion, we got the opportunity to see how time intensive it can be to make chicken noodle soup from scratch and why they developed their product. Chef Tom Helsel, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and the American Culinary Institute, has been with Campbell’s for 10 years and shared his expertise on making the soup. One of my favorite tips that he shared was to parcook the noodles before making soup. It will help so that the noodles do not absorb the liquid from your soup, leaving the broth in the soup instead of in the noodles. He says that you can take it a step further, and parcook the noodles in chicken stock to help develop your soup flavor even more. The recommendation was for five minutes of parcooking and then rinsing them with cold water.

Next, we were guided through a taste test of their soups. They put out two soups- one that was low sodium
and one that was not. We were challenged to take their taste test and see if we could figure out which variety was which. I love salt and I add a ridiculous amount of salt to everything that I eat. I didn’t want to tell anyone that I had an unfair advantage, but couldn’t wait to show off how knowledgeable I was. I was floored when I was completely wrong on both. While the company would not reveal their secrets, they were very proud to have matched the taste so successfully.

After the soup taste testing and a fabulous lunch and more great discussion on how Campbell’s could provide great meal solutions for moms, we were taken on another fun tasting and got to try out the V8 V-Fusion Juice. They were all really yummy, but I navigated towards the more traditional Strawberry Banana & Peach Mango flavors. What can I say except that I am a total traditionalist!

We then got a chance to try making smoothies out of a variety of fruit, V8 juices, and nonfat yogurts. They were so delicious and I really enjoyed trying all of the juices. You can try them too and use a coupon at for a $1 off of the purchase price.

We slipped back to our rooms to get ready for a fun dinner out where I had some of the best gnocchi I have ever tasted in my life and discovered that they make varieties of white Bordeaux wines, which I had not known. The dinner was delicious and I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world to boot.

Christine at From Dates to Diapers!

Dawn from Because I Said So!

Liz from This Full House!

Yes, it was another wonderful trip that I am so thankful I got the chance to be a part of. These trips feel like winning the lottery to me and I am always appreciative to get a turn to share my feedback with companies, particularly on food products. Thank you to the Campbell’s team for greeting us with open arms and making us feel right at home in your kitchen. Another big thank you to Weber Shandwick for making all of these arrangements and bringing bloggers and companies together in a very authentic way.

Suave Glamour Reel Moments Event: Premiere Night

Friday, October 17th, 2008

My last full day in L.A. was when all of the real excitement started happening. We began the day with a beautiful brunch at our hotel, the Sofitel, and what a brunch it was! Trays and trays of food- eggs, hash browns, fruit platters, croissants, egg sandwiches, yogurt with berries… it was beautiful.

This brunch was a chance to listen to a panel of the wonderful people who made the Glamour Reel Moments experience possible. Included on the panel were Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith (a first-time director); producer, Francesca Silverstri; Glamour Associate Publisher & Glamour Reel Moments Executive Producer, Leslie Russo; and Glamour Reel Moments directing alum & moderator, Andrea Buchanan. Thoughtfully, Michelle from Scribbit, used her Flip Camera to record the entire event so you can read exactly what was shared on this panel.

At the end, as we were leaving, I noticed that Kirsten was also heading out and in my nicest voice, asked if she would mind having her photo taken with me. Happily, she obliged and Michelle also felt brave enough to ask too- so here’s our moment. Notice how teeny she is? Finally someone who I can see eye to eye with!

A group of us (Liz, Beth, Michelle, & Dawn) all decided to hit the road and squeeze in some site-seeing. Beth, from Role Mommy, caught all of the moments on her Flip Camera so you can view her funny video here. At least, I thought it was pretty darn funny, but it might be one of those things that you just had to be there!

We headed back to the Chinese Theater for the gals that hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see it. I was so glad we went back because we were able to see everything that we hadn’t gotten to see before because it had been blocked off for a premiere.
Another Camp Baby reunion- two in one week! My new BFF’s- Liz, from This Full House, & Dawn, from Because I Said So.

Next we hiked it up to the Hollywood sign. When in my life will I ever get to do this again? I was loving the view, even though I am a little afraid of heights.

Liz enjoyed the view from very far, far away! Michelle, on the other hand, was tap dancing dangerously close to the edge giving us all heart attacks.

Next we dipped our toes into the freezing cold water of Santa Monica Beach. It was so beautiful there and I spent most of the time with my camera out taking tons of pictures. After that, we headed over to the pier and ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp before busting our tails to get back to our car, cutting our time way too short to get ready. We literally got back about a half hour before the cocktail hour so my look had to be pulled together quickly. I am pretty slow when I get ready so this was a stretch, but I wouldn’t have changed anything about it.

Here is what my dress looked look- I just love this dress! I scored this dress through my wonderful & sweet friend, Kathy Friend, who writes over at Fashion Questions & Answers. She let me model in a premiere for a local boutique that opened in South Bend, Flourish Boutique. They gave each of us a gift card for modeling and I used mine to buy this little
number. Kathy also loaned me some killer shoes so I would look even more stylish for my big night! Now that is a TRUE friend!

I headed down for the cocktail hour that was sponsored by Suave before we headed out. They thoughtfully made sure that we ate plenty since they knew it would be a long night for us!
We received our invitations and headed over to the Director’s Guild Theater! I think I was shaking when we walked in.

Here was our big moment walking down the red carpet! Doesn’t everyone look stunning? We were all so nervous and excited as we got our photo taken. (Photo Credit: Lester Cohen/Wireimage for Glamour)

Our view after our moment looked like this. Most of the celebrities walked by us though to enter the theater and that is where we got to see everyone- Matthew Perry, Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, the entire Arquette family, Kirsten Dunst, and so many more celebrities. I so desperately wanted to ask for an autograph or just talk to them, but just stood in awe at what an amazing opportunity this was.

Then we headed into the theater to catch all the movies. You can watch them all on the Reel Moments website. All of the films were really great, but my favorite though had to be Streak, directed by Demi Moore!

The car came to get us and then we headed over to Chateau Marmont for the after party. There I bumped into Matthew Perry a couple of times, murmured a gracious, “You did a great job!” to any celebrity who turned in my direction and enjoyed circling the place a few times to make sure we saw everyone.

At the stroke of midnight, our car came to pick us up and we headed back to the hotel. As we waited for our elevator, it opened and one of the Jonas Brothers came out of it. It is as though our brains couldn’t process it and as the door shut, Liz said she should go back down and see if she could get an autograph for her daughter.

I headed to my room to pack and the next morning made the long flight back to Indiana. I returned to pouring rain and realized that my cell phone was stolen from my carry-on luggage. The laundry lay waiting for me, the fridge was empty, the library books were overdue, and the diapers would need changing again.

My husband & children were snuggled up with me in the morning and Emily kept stroking my face, as though she couldn’t believe I was there. The kids kissed and hugged me and my husband kept saying how glad he was to have me home.

That is when I knew that I was right where I belonged!

Thank you again to the entire Suave Team for making me feel so at home in California! It was an opportunity of a lifetime & I will never forget a moment of it!

Suave Glamour Reel Moments Event: Days 1 & 2

Friday, October 17th, 2008

When I am normally invited to PR trips, it is usually packed with information and meetings about the brand and what it is or is not doing for our family. There are discussions, speakers, noteworthy & (at times) tiring days filled with focus groups, but the Suave sponsored mommy event was NOTHING like any of that! Perhaps it was because they had so many moms within their company letting them know that all they would want to do if they had a few days away from the kids would be pampered and have time to themselves to explore the city. Other than a short little informal chat before getting my hair styled, you would have just thought the gals from the company were some wonderful friends who had great connections.

The company hooked us up with car service from our homes to the airports. They had to use a different car service than normal because apparently there are not a lot of great car services in the middle of nowhere Indiana. Imagine my embarrassment, when a fancy sedan pulls up and a man gets out dressed to the nines with a handlebar mustache to take me to the airport. In an ironic twist, the whole neighborhood apparently was outside for the event and the faces on my neighbors was the exact face I would have been making.

It was a long day of flying, but the car service & an amazing Suave representative met me at the LAX airport to greet me and get me settled at my hotel. As we pulled up to the hotel…NO WORDS! Swanky and right across the street from the Beverly Center, the beautiful Sofitel. French & chic!

I checked in and tucked into my room was a beautiful basket with the most thoughtful inclusions. There were snacks, water, spa slippers, tons of really great Suave products, movies that included each of the directors from the movie event in some way, a map of the city, a listing of great places to visit, a pink Flip camera, and even a card with their contact information that we could tuck in our wallet. What a greeting! There was so much thought put into all of the things we would need including spending money for lunches & incidentals while we were sightseeing.

I didn’t sleep the first night with excitement and the time change so I stuffed my silly with the ridiculously overpriced room service and anticipated the morning.

I started the morning out with coffee with Liz & Michelle. Unfortunately, they had to head to their salon appointment and I didn’t know anyone else to hook up with yet so I spent the day alone until my salon appointment. I headed over to the Beverly Hills Center though to do a little window shopping, which was great!

As if my husband was not a good sport enough, he thoughtfully included a t-shirt for me that he won through a contest. My shirt, although backwards in the picture, says Los Angeles because he said he wanted me to look just like a celebrity.
Nothing says celebrity though like a big ol’ scarf in the middle of the blazing heat. This addition is a $5.80 steal at Forever 21. Who says Indiana girls have zero style? The only thing I forgot in my packing were my favorite sunglasses because that would have certainly helped to complete the look. Off to the Beverly Hills Center I went…

Obviously, there was a lot of WINDOW shopping going on, but I browsed around the same affordable stores that we had at home until Liz & Michelle were done with their appointment. We got together to head over to the Chinese theater and eat a little lunch.

We couldn’t really see anything because the theater was blocked off for the Max Payne movie event, but we still enjoyed walking around aimlessly and chatting. All of our chatting was mostly geared towards learning more about each of our blogs, how we were doing with our businesses, and more talking on blogging shop. It was so great to enjoy all that sunshine and have such great conversations.

I then went to get my manicure, pedicure, and have my hair done by stylist to the stars, Luke O’Connor, at Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills. Luke was the nicest guy in the world and agreed that I had a good length and cut, but he just made my hair do exactly what it was supposed to. He said to use very little products and recommended a line of Suave products that would be best for me. Suave took all the pictures though so when I get those, I will be sure to post my transformaton photos when I get them.

Off to dinner! We went to the very chic & famous, Club Nobu I had never eaten sushi before, which is why this first course floored me. Isn’t it supposed to be all rolled up and disguised with rice and seaweed? I made a pact to myself that I was going to try everything and I did. Every. Single. Dish. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but still preferred the rolls and cooked dishes more. We dined family-style and I swear there were sixteen courses so we practically rolled out of there after all of that good food.

Luke O’Connor himself dined with us! As you can see, he definitely improved my look a bit! He gave me a little swing to my hair that I certainly could not have achieved on my own. Here’s hoping my stylist here will be able to keep up my Los Angeles style.

Tomorrow I will share more about our last and most exciting day!

In the meantime, check out all of the bloggers amazing sites. I think I made some of the best friends of my life- I feel so darn blessed!!
Beth Feldman

Dawn Meehan

Michelle Mitchell

Liz Thompson

Lianne Farbes

Cindy Bokma

Nadine Haobsh