Travel Diaries: My Summer in San Francisco

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In case you didn’t notice from seeing my adorable two year old in the photo above I spent my summer in San Francisco. Every since I can remembered I’d dreamed of going to California and this summer I had the opportunity to do just that.

Now this trip was not for play but for business. I applied for an internship at my dream Public Relations agency and after months of an extremely competitive application process and three phone interviews I found myself on a plane to San Francisco.

Due to the cost of living in San Francisco as compared to Arkansas my husband and son did not spend the entire summer with me (that’s another story for another time). It was very hard on me emotionally, as I had never been away from my baby boy. However, my husband was brave enough to drive all the way from Arkansas to San Francisco and stay with me for a week. I thought I’d share some of the places we visited.

Golden Gate Bridge

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This one I’m sure you were probably expecting being that it’s one of the most visited places in the country but seriously you have to go. There are several places in the city you can go to if you want a great view. My husband actually found this tiny park area not far from North Beach. This spot was on all of our bucket lists.

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Giants Stadium

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I am by no means a sports fan but everyone should have an experience like the one I had at the Giants stadium. Even if you aren’t into baseball the food is delicious (garlic fries are a must) and they have tons of places to take awesome photos as you can see in the picture above. They also have a beer garden, Coca-cola slide and Trolley.

I went during the dog days of summer and got to see a ton of ADORABLE dogs dressed (and painted) in the giants gear and colors. Cutest thing you’ll ever see! So if you go make sure to go in June when all the four-legged fans are there. (Here is a link if you want to see some of the dogs from this past summer).

Ghirardelli Square

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If you have a sweet tooth like I do then you must go to Ghirardelli Square and get a sundae. The Ghirardelli shop also offers tons of chocolates and other sweets and views of the bay. My two year old definitely enjoyed this stop.

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Because I spent a great majority of time working I didn’t get to go to a few of the places on this list but my husband and son did some exploring of their own. Below are a few of their favorite stops.

Coit Tower

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This beauty is located in Telegraph hill (just a few blocks away from my job so I saw it everyday but never actually climbed the stairs to the top LOL). This was one of the first stops my husband and son took since it was so close to the office. The tower offers great views of the city.

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Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharfs

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Definitely the most “Touristy” thing on this list. You can find tons of restaurants, museums and attractions here and it’s always full of life. My husband and son took a cable car down to Fishermans Wharf. If you like seafood you are in for a treat, if not there are a number of other options from street cars to In n Out burger (you must try their vanilla malt!). You can also find a ton of seals hanging out in this area.

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So while my son and husband were out having all of the fun I was in the office.

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*I will be sharing my internship experience in a later post*

Regardless of whether I was in the office or exploring the city it’s amazing to be able to share these experiences and continue to stay optimistic about where life will take me next. It was easy to fall in love with San Francisco and their are still a ton of great places  I didn’t get to visit, which is the best excuse to go back and I definitely plan to.

Until my next adventure, ciao!

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Spring Break for Millennial Parents: Kid-Friendly Vacation in Destin, Florida!

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So as a young college student and mommy spring break is a little different for me than it is for many of my peers. I decided to share my family-friendly spring break trip with you guys!

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My family and I spent our Spring Break in Destin, Florida! It’s absolutely gorgeous with bright white sand beaches and gorgeous blue water. It’s also a good combination of college spring breakers and family so for me it was perfect to experience a little bit of both!

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We spent a lot of time at the beach but we also stayed in a gorgeous resort, Destin West beach and bay in Okaloosa Island between Fort Walton and Destin Florida.

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The resort has two sides, the bay side (pictured above) or the gulf side (a view of the beach). It had a bridge over the overpass that allowed guest to walk from one side to the other. I actually preferred the bay side (it was more affordable) because it has several pools, a hot tub and a lazy river. Many of the college students chose to stay on this side so it was buzzing with people. It’s also pretty easy to get to the bridge and walk across to the gulf side to visit the beach.

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Destin was really easy to get around and had lots of areas for walking and activities that both children and adults could enjoy. We visited Harbourwalk village near the Emerald Grande hotel while we were there. destin13

The village has tons of shops, drinks (for both adults and children), Ice cream (even alcoholic ice-cream because apparently thats a thing), Henna tattoo, water sports rentals, you name it! It’s a really nice space to walk with children because it’s separated away from the main roads but also not too close to the water so my little man was free to roam around. I actually stopped to get dippin dots and a henna tattoo here. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and there were people from all over! I’d definitely suggest visiting.

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My husband actually ended up renting a kayak for an hour to take our little man out into the bay (the gulf had a strong current but in the summer you can venture out there as well). Our little boy was much too active so they didn’t stay too long for fear of flipping over, but you can also rent boats which may be a better option for those of you with young children. You can even take them out to Crab Island, a cool restaurant in the middle of the bay!

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If you like sweets you may want to stop by some local grocery stores for fresh fruits (like we did) but one of my favorite places was Destination Little Donuts in Destin. They made all sorts of specialty donuts with various toppings, all very aesthetically pleasing and delicious!

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We actually stopped by twice because I couldn’t get enough of the Oreo Cheesecake and Cookie Dough (pictured above). They were also really informative and friendly so I’d suggest stopping by if you have a sweet tooth like I do! There were also a lot of great restaurants along the beach. Most of them served seafood, which I actually dislike, but there were a wide variety of options within Destin. We ate at Floyds on our first day and had gorgeous view of the beach while we ate.

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We also visited Fudpuckers, a really interesting restaurant that serves pretty good seafood but also hosts a number of live alligators. You can purchase bait to feed them and even get a picture with a baby gator (their mouths are taped for the photo). My little man was much too excited so we had to take him away for a minute, he kept pulling the alligators feet (not a good idea). We also got the chance to see a rare albino alligator. Pretty cool!

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Of course much of our vacation was spent on the beach. We just couldn’t get over how stunning they were!

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We even got shot by a photographer for a local newspaper!

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All in all it was a pretty fun and relaxing spring break and I’d definitely suggest visiting, whether you’re a student, single, or mother of two! We are already planning our next trip back!

meee

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Recognizing PR excellence: Bronze Anvil Award & The Creatives Behind It

By: Raneisha Stassin
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We often see public relations campaigns in action but rarely see the creatives behind them. The Bronze Anvil Awards gives us a chance to recognize those behind the media magic and they definitely deserve to be celebrated.

One particular winning campaign that stuck out to me was Ketchum’s #PrettyGreat Travel Hacks campaign they created for the Embassy Suites/Hilton. The campaign involved creating an online community where parents could find and share travel hacks or tips that would make traveling with kids easier and more enjoyable.

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I really admired their approach to this campaign and the pr tactics they used to create a fun yet informative strategy. They created an online community that could easily be integrated across other platforms such as Pinterest and Twitter with the hashtags #PrettyGreat #TravelHacks. Pinterest in particular is a great site for moms, travelers and those with wanderlust spirits. I felt their use of these sites along with the online community on the Embassy Suites website really showed their understanding of their audience. They understood that if their content was easy to share and could be found in sites already used by this demographic that their client would get the attention they were seeking. It also allowed the audience to be engaged and actively involved therefore content would continue to be created and shared.

Other tactics I found admirable was their use of research. They didn’t forget the basics and stuck to the R.A.C.E (Research, Action, Communication and Evaluation) model while simultaneously letting their creative juices flow. The Embassy Suites held a family travel study to collect information that would allow them to understand the needs of their demographic and aligned their strategies with those needs. After research they provided family-specific training to staff members and added family-focused amenities.

Their use of online influencers as a tactic proved to be successful as well. Several online mom and travel bloggers mentioned the Embassy Suites and the travel hacks while encouraging other traveling parents to actively participate.

As a millennial and young mom with a wanderlust spirit myself, I found this campaign pulled me in the second I discovered it. As an aspiring public relations professional I can not neglect to recognize the hard work that must have been put in to create such a successful campaign.

Ketchum ended up winning the Bronze Anvil Award for 2016 for this particular campaign and numerous others. You can check it out here.

This post was not sponsored and was created for my Comm 283-PR Tactics course.
All opinions are my own.

Kid friendly places to visit in Dallas | Our mini vacation

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So we decided to take a spontaneous one day trip to Dallas, Texas with our little one. I decided it’d be great to share some of the great activities available in the city for those with children.

For those who do not know I have a one year old (going on two) toddler who is VERY active. Traveling can be fun but equally as stressful when you have a little one. Hopefully this list will help you enjoy your time in Dallas if your traveling through with your little one(s).

Fair Park

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This stunning gem is a lovely place to let your little one run around and has incredible scenery. It’s located at the Texas state fairgrounds (too bad we didn’t visit during the fair) and it has tons of room to let little ones run around.

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What’s great about Fair Park are the museums and exhibits located there. I suggest visiting:

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

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Texas Discovery Gardens and Butterfly House

(click the names to be linked to the websites)

The Children’s Aquarium was amazing! My little one was so excited and loved seeing all the cool sea creatures.

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The aquarium was great because it was at a low enough eye level that the kids could explore by themselves and though the aquarium wasn’t very big they had a good variety of fish and sea creatures.

They also had an area for children to touch sting rays (don’t worry their tails were clipped down they couldn’t sting if they tried).

It was incredible. I think my husband may have enjoyed that part more than any of us. It was also my first time seeing sharks up close which was interesting.

*visit the website linked above for price info*

I also really enjoyed the Texas Discovery Gardens, we went at noon when they do a very educational and fun butterfly release in the butterfly garden.

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It was a gorgeous garden and I enjoyed how educational it was. It’s always great to find fun ways to learn and teach the little ones. We all left knowing something we didn’t know before we came. It was fun to watch all the beautiful butterflys fly around.

They also had insects and snakes as well. Don’t worry only the butterflys are released.

This museum is only a few steps away from the aquarium and its nice to just be able to walk through the park while visiting other exhibits, gives the little ones a chance to run and because it’s all gravel you don’t have to worry as much about cars. The kids are free to run to their hearts content.

It was also very easy to find bathrooms which is always a bonus.

Dallas Heritage Village

We were able to step back in time for a bit at this cute little village in the city. Also lots of space for the little one to run but also a great learning experience for older kids as well.

There were tons of buildings built back in the 1800’s, several were built by slaves. It’s important for my son to know his roots though he may still be very young it was a nice place to walk through and my husband and I enjoyed it.

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The village usually has village people dressed as they would be back in that era, I suggest coming on a nicer (warmer) day and maybe later in the afternoon. We arrived pretty early so there weren’t many village people to give us a tour and it was pretty self-guided. We still enjoyed it anyway.

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Vitruvian Park

If visiting during the holidays this park has some of the most stunning holiday lights I’ve seen. We took an evening stroll here to let the little one get his last bit of energy out before returning to our hotel room. It was stunning and relaxing and we all enjoyed it.

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Heard Natural Science Museum

The next on my list was about 20 minutes outside of the city of Dallas but worth the drive. If you have a little one who just LOVES dinosaurs like ours this is the perfect place. It’s filled with fossils, crystals and features exhibits with live wildlife and a LIVE dinosaur exhibit.

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My little one was a little anxious around the “live” dinosaurs but it wasn’t too bad. It was actually pretty funny. He kept squinting his eyes and frowning at the dinosaurs as if to try and intimidate them.

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It was easy to lose track of time at this place. It’s great because the little one was able to get his energy out and enjoy himself but so were we. We were pretty tuckered out at this point in the trip and by this point you will probably need some food so here is a short list of places we visited to dine.

Dine in

Dream Cafe

Truck Yard

(better to go during the day)

Fast Food

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In and Out

We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Suites near Downtown Dallas and enjoyed complimentary breakfast there. This is a great way to save a little extra money. The room we had was amazing, the view was great, the breakfast was good and the customer service was exceptional. Would recommend.

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All in all it was a great mini-vacation. I hope you get a chance to visit these places if you  ever find yourself passing through Dallas.

    Happy New Years Eve Everyone

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New Year, New Opportunities

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HELLO cliche blog post!

I can’t believe it’s almost 2017. 2016 flew by but so many things good and bad have happened. Though that’s interesting and all that’s not what I want to talk about, I want to focus on what’s next.

I always see the new year as a perfect opportunity to start fresh and while I believe you can do that anytime, there is something about the calendar changing that motivates me to really push myself to make positive changes.

This next year here are a few things I hope to see happen in my life:

Good Health

I know I know I sound like a fortune cookie but this is something I’ve actually struggled with. All of 2016 I’ve felt sluggish, fatigued and recently I have even suffered hair loss.

This next year my first goal is to successfully change my diet making sure I have all the vitamins and nutrients I need and also address any underlying or chronic health issues I have. This begins with finding the right doctor but also taking better care of myself.

This also includes mental health which brings me to my next goal.

Better Self Esteem

In the new year I hope to spend more time focusing on the things I love about myself. I’ve realized I spend a great majority of my time focusing on the things I dislike about myself, some of which I can do very little to change.

I hope as I get healthier I will also become more secure with who I am. I want to be more vocal about intrusive thoughts and body image issues and hopefully not only help myself heal but also help others who may be struggling as well.

   Career Opportunities

Next year is my last year of college and I will (hopefully) finally graduate with my bachelors degree. I want this new year to be a year of opportunities. I don’t know where I will end up but I love writing and I whether or not I get accepted for a job that allows me to do that, I still plan to write.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do was write a book and/or book series and It’s something I plan to start in the new year.

I also plan to purchase my own domain and design my website. I hope to increase my design skills maybe even get certified in various software tools.

I am excited to see what opportunities arise next year but I know none of it will come without hard work.

Travel

This is what I’m most looking forward to in the new year. My husband and I have come to a place where we are both mentally exhausted in the current town we live in and we are ready for a change.

We want to raise our little boy in a place that is diverse, open-minded and lively and sadly we currently don’t live in a place with those qualities.

It’s been particularly hard on my husband whose family and friends are on the other side of the world in Europe. We hope next year we have the chance to visit but we also have big hopes of moving west to California. Wish us luck!

I know none of these things will come easy and I’m determined to work hard to make these goals a reality but it’s exciting to take time to list the things I hope to see happen. I would love to hear what you guys have planned for the new year.

Feel free to share in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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