Just Heather
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Julie and I at BowlHer

Last weekend was my first experience with a BlogHer conference, and I don’t know why. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years—way before it was cool. (Is it cool, yet? I never know these things.) Of course, by the time I decided to join the party it was completely sold out. I’ve been on the wait list for months. Enter LobbyCon—a segment of the event sponsored by PepsiCo that allowed those of us who couldn’t get in to be a part of it anyway. My pass included live video of the keynotes, the expo floor and cocktail parties. Not to mention all the after hours events!

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Beautiful Shannon makes a paper bag look good!

My goal for the weekend was meeting people—people I’ve “known” for years, people I’ve admired from afar and people I didn’t know existed until I saw their lovely faces at BlogHer. I was also there in connection with my new business. I met frugal bloggers who I’d love to connect to the network, mommy bloggers who could use it and companies who appreciate what we offer to their consumers. I met people I could relate to and people I couldn’t. I met people I’m looking forward to calling my friends. I also met celebrities—including a few celebrity-in-my-head bloggers.

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None you can eat burgers!

Mir was gracious, witty and an absolute pleasure to finally meet. She is exactly as I always knew her to be. After all, she’s been sharing her life with me for more than 5 years. I also met Chris who amazes with her calm throughout the chaos, both in the family stories she shares and while squished into a suite with 100 crazy ladies eating cheeseburgers. I can’t believe in our 30 minute conversation, it never occurred to me to take a picture of or with Mir, but I did snag this fun pic of Chris with her tray of nothing-we-can-eat. All 3 of us are gluten free, which I find interesting since that isn’t how I discovered them online. See how much I have in common with celebrities? I’m kind of a big deal.

Tim Gunn says I make it work!

Tim Gunn says I'm really making it work!

I also met Carson Kressley and Tim Gunn (who wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had imagined before I left). One of my greatest BlogHer moments was when MFJ got Carson Kressley to say biatch (very loudly). Tim Gunn told me that I’m really making it work, though we all know it had nothing to do with fashion. He fascinated me with his interest in what each of us do. He asked each person about their blog and then listened with (apparent) genuine interest. I shared my new venture and he stopped in his tracks (as he was signing an 8×10 photo) and said, “Inexpensively?! You really are making it work!” Does that count as a celebrity endorsement?

Speaking of endorsements, I’m fascinated with the swag controversy. I went in assuming there would be swag because I’m not a total conference virgin. I truly didn’t expect quite so much, but I didn’t see the major issue that was discussed all yesterday. Perhaps that was because I didn’t attend the full conference. I missed out on the swag suites and the private invitations. I also skipped out on the whole waiting in line thing so I’m not sure what it was about. I did see people leaving parties with their swag bags only minutes after arriving. Tacky.

Jenny (Three Kid Circus) & Jane (Mamacita)

Jenny (Three Kid Circus) & Jane (Mamacita)

Of course, I came home with my fair share of stuff. I won’t have to buy deodorant for a very, very long time. I was so excited to find Dove giving away my very pricey clinical protection that the sweet rep told me to take as much as I wanted. I told her not to say things like that or I’d have to go get my suitcase. Seriously, though, there was stuff aplenty and I’m not sure any of it was worth all the chaos. What I have to wonder about, though, is if giving it all away accomplished the company’s goals. Handing me a bag of things as I arrive at a party that I may or may not look at later doesn’t build relationships. There were some who got it way right.

The companies that spent time with us—talking over lunch about our lives (not just their products), striking up conversations in the elevator or stopping you at a cocktail party to say hello because they remembered you from the day before. I missed the sponsored lunches, as it was not included in my pass, but I hear Clorox Green Works did an excellent job with that. I enjoyed chatting with Chris from General Motors, whom I met first in the elevator. His cohort, Annalisa, was an absolute joy (not to mention another gluten free freak like me!). The Eucerin team spent the weekend building a presence; I never tried the aging machine as I’m a bit frightened to see myself at 72, but I feel like I know who I’m buying from the next time I need skin care product.

Angie at CheeseburgHer

Angie/Roomie at CheeseburgHer

Getting to know people is what the weekend was all about for me. I’m already looking forward to the local friends I get to meet at Blog Indiana next month. I also already have my ticket for BlogHer 2010—I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Of course, NYC is on the hubby’s 40×40 list so I bought him a ticket too. I’ll miss out on the roommate-girlfriend time, for sure, but I think it’s a fair exchange.

See you in New York City, lovely ladies!

I am the mother of 3 girls. When I first heard I was having a girl, I didn’t envision pink ribbons and curls. I’m more the purple streaks and funky hats type of girl, myself. I never quite felt like I fit or really knew where to belong. Growing up, I was always told that if I wanted to support my expensive taste I would need to marry a doctor or lawyer. No one ever told me I could be one. I was determined to empower my girls to be whoever they wanted to be. I think we all strive to do just a little bit better than the generation before us. For me, that meant giving my children choices I never had myself. While I have fond memories of Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kids and Strawberry Shortcake, I didn’t want to streamline my own daughter into any specific stereotypes.

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Stacia - my official preteen

I made an extra effort to buy our oldest daughter Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels and boy dolls to balance out the Disney princess, Barbie dolls and fancy hairpieces everyone else threw her direction. Stacia didn’t turn out to be a tomboy, but she isn’t a girly girl either. She landed somewhere in the middle. Mission accomplished. Stacia has a style all her own—a little funky, sometimes wannabe punk with interests ranging from baking to motocross. Her latest fashion craze was mismatched holiday socks (but only if the holiday wasn’t any time soon). She reminds me a lot of myself, actually—which is probably why it’s a struggle to get along.

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Brenia at Scout camp

My 2nd daughter came along and had all the same choices. Her life included attending her older sister’s soccer games and a ride-on motorcycle mixed with frilly clothes and a dress-up trunk. She couldn’t have cared less about trucks and hasn’t voluntarily worn a pair of pants in 4 years. Brenia announced at age 2 that she absolutely must have dresses because “princesses do not wear pants” and no amount of Aladdin-viewing would change her mind. This is the child who randomly appears in our scrapbooks wearing fairy wings or giant faux pearls and wears a skirt to go camping.

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Lorelai at Touch-A-Truck

On the other hand, our youngest is the son we never had. Except, remember I have 3 girls? She has always been fascinated with trains and trucks. I can bribe her at the grocery store with a $.97 Hot Wheels car and have perfect behavior (sometimes). Her fashion phases run to colors. One year, she would only wear green. It didn’t matter what it was so long as it had green on it. However, a tomboy she is not. Her color of choice this year? Pink—in every shade imaginable. She enjoys frilly dresses. She loves princess movies. Lorelai will don a tiara and heels to ride her Thomas the Tank Engine around the house.
Snakehead Ed

Snakehead Ed


I think the choices they’ve been given have left them free to become who they are. Each of my girls comes with a style all her own. They have personalities that run the spectrum. Their interests are varied and plentiful. All three of them are just as happy with snakes as kittens. These girls enjoy trucks as much as ballet and often dig in the dirt with their fresh manicures. Our summer of fun has included all of those, so far.

Touch-A-Truck

Touch-A-Truck


The event that best showcased the lack of gender lines in our house was Touch-A-Truck. We went specifically for my two biggest truck fans—Lorelai and my nephew—but Brenia had just as much fun. Of course, the highlight for her was running into a school friend. Lorelai loved it all and buckled herself into each of the drivers’ seats. Levi’s favorite part was touching a “big wheel,” followed closely by the “firefrucks” and “woo-woos” (otherwise known as police vehicles) both featured in my new favorite home video:


I have been blogging for several years. The blog world has grown and changed around me. My reasons for blogging and what I’ve taken from it has also changed over the years. When I first started, it was a medium for adult conversation. Over time, it became a journal of sorts for my girls. Along the way, I found a few Hoosier bloggers and began to take my blog connections offline. When I relaunched this blog a few months ago, it was with my professional image in the back of my mind.

My professional self launched a new business earlier this week. While FeedIndy was all me, Inexpensively connects a network of frugal bloggers. When bloggers contact me in hopes of joining the network, the interview process includes reading their blog and following them on Twitter for several weeks. Yes, that’s right, I read blogs as my job! This also means that blog conventions become real and actual business conferences.

I’m attending BlogHer ’09 next week (well, it’s LobbyCon because I didn’t get my tickets ordered on time!). I’m looking forward to actually meeting some of the bloggers I’ve “known” for years. I’m also terrified of meeting people. I’m stressing over what to wear, who I’ll meet (Tim Gunn—ack!) and how I’ll remain standing on heels all day long. That’s my irrational, paranoid side. The rest of me is just plain excited. Just a few weeks after BlogHer, I’m attending a local conference. I’m even more nervous about this one.

At BlogIndiana, I have a real opportunity to make connections with fellow Hoosiers. I’m also speaking at BlogIndiana—I’ll be on the Foodie Panel for Saturday’s Social Media Summit. I’ll probably be the pickiest eater on the panel, but it’s exciting to be able to share the concept of doing whatever you do, inexpensively. People mistakenly assume you can only save money at the grocery store if you buy junk, but it just isn’t true. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the panel, but I’m still a bit worried about being the least foodie person in the room.

I’m less worried about my shoes for Blog Indiana, though. I don’t think it will be quite the focus.

Update: I am now on two panels for Blog Indiana. They have added a Mommy Blogger panel that has me very excited! In honor of the addition to Saturday’s Social Media Summit, I have a special coupon code for you! Enter momblogsrock at the checkout to save 20% off your ticket purchase.

Blog Indiana 2009 countdown!

When I included this on my 40×40 list, it was just a pipe dream—a vague “wouldn’t it be cool if I could help more people” kind of thing. The problem is that I can’t do it alone. The best part of what I do is being local. I can bring people the best deals and tips because I shop in their stores, dine in their towns and entertain my family in their favorite spots. If I were to simply go national by seeking out deals all over the country, I would lose that community feel that makes my site real and relevant.

Along came inexpensively” target=”_blank”>Twitter, and I began to notice followers from all over the country. I discovered that my site was already somewhat relevant to people outside of Indiana. The tips and advice I share, in addition to the grocery lists and local deals, help people live inexpensively in all aspects of their lives. I had the idea of using that niche to launch a national site in the back of my mind for months, along with a variety of related projects. One of those projects was a Facebook application—a fun way to track grocery savings and compete against your friends. We were getting close to launching it when I blurted out how much better it would be if the app were sponsored by a national site instead of just FeedIndy.

The Facebook project was immediately shelved and we set about brainstorming ways to recreate FeedIndy on a national level. I already knew I wouldn’t be doing grocery lists for other states. I also knew that I didn’t want it to be a simple link exchange. It needed to be more. It needed to be something very new—a network of people just like me who could provide deals, tips and grocery store lists that are real and relevant in their own, local communities. The next step was a domain name. FeedIndy was obviously out, but my weekly tips on saving in other areas had become such a focus that any version of Feed the World also didn’t fit.

Thus, Inexpensively was born. Our goal is to provide a whole lifestyle concept for savings. We compile weekly lists for grocery store deals, suggest ideas on living your life for less, offer tips on finding the best savings and encourage our community to be charitable even on a budget.  We connect a network of individuals from around the country to provide families with the most up to date and accurate savings tools in their own communities.  In short, we encourage families to maximize their budgets so they can use some of their savings to help improve their neighborhood.

And, that, my friends, is the official mission statement. We launch today in 4 states—California, Georgia, Tennessee and, of course, Indiana. I have partnered with The Sassy Saver, Savings with Sadie, Luv2BFrugal and IN Good Cents to expand our reach and bring that personal touch I was looking for to the grocery lists we provide each week. We are also in the process of adding 2 more states and hope to continue expansion throughout the year. In addition to providing deals for other locations, it brings new opportunities for savings as our contributing partners come with their own talents, interests and expertise.

I am excited to announce my new business venture, after months of hard work (mostly by him). Plus, I get to cross off another 40×40 item!

2009-06-206_595For Christmas last year, we received a membership to the Children’s Museum. I was very excited as we had actually never taken the children. I am such a horrible mother. Indianapolis is actually home to the number one children’s museum in the country. We have been several times now that we are members, and we will never be without a membership again.

Their current feature is The Power of Children. We’ve been through the exhibit twice and I hadn’t even seen a third of it. It looked incredibly fascinating and powerful (thus, the name). However, it’s not so much for children. My girls just couldn’t care at all. I joked that I wanted to visit the museum one day without them so we could finally spend some time with the things we enjoy. Our next date, C=Children’s Museum, was born.
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We dropped the kidlets with MFJ and headed downtown. With the construction they still have going on at the museum, we ended up in the basement to start. We bypassed the dinosaurs—been there, done that. On our way up to The Power of Children, we stumbled on the 2nd reason for our no kids allowed trip, The Clone Wars exhibit. I’m sure Lorelai will love it, but she wouldn’t be as interested in the details and we would have missed a lot chasing her down in a dash towards the train exhibit.

The Power of Children exhibit was definitely worth the trip. We sat through all 3 presentations and while I’m not sure Spencer was all that into it, I thoroughly enjoyed them all. The Diary of Anne Frank is the only assigned book from junior high that I actually read cover to cover. Clearly, we learned no lessons as the hatred and racism continued in our country. The story of Ruby Bridges fascinates me. I just can’t get over how recently it was. I would love to think we’re beyond that, but 50 years later I still see it regularly. Ryan White’s story was familiar. I was young so I think I remember the movie about his story more than the actual news. I grew up here in Indiana, though, so it was a pretty big deal.

2009-06-203Our next stop was for the geeks in us (okay, mostly him). The games through the years exhibit is fun even with the whole family, but we never get to play when the girls are around. Someone is always taking over my joystick and losing my last life. It was a bit crowded so I still haven’t had the opportunity to play Giant Connect 4, but beating Spencer at Pac-Man was worth it. Since we were already there, I insisted that we ride the carousel. Without children to wrangle, I was able to read all the cute tidbits on the history of the carousel. It’s amazing how educational even the fun & games exhibit can be, but we really had a lot of fun being kids.

We capped off our date with a few minutes of relaxation in the basement. Of course, remember we’re at the children’s museum so that isn’t even remotely dirty! They have this rotating couch-like thing that looks up at the bottom of the Fireworks of Glass sculpture pictured above, which, by the way, was apparently created by a pirate. See? Educational.

My first giveaway was a lot of fun, and really great practice. I have several giveaways lined up for a launch party we’re planning after my new website is up and running. Thank you to everyone who participated. I really enjoyed hearing about all the simple ways you save the planet.

I am once again inspired to line-dry my clothing. We’ll see how far that gets me in actually starting. Our washing machine is upstairs—perfect for grabbing clothes out of the bedroom where the hampers belong, but not so great for hauling clothes down the stairs and outside to dry. Of course, we currently have a full hamper of dirty clothes in the dining room. (Don’t ask. It’s just easier that way.)

Now, without further ado, the winners are………

smart-mama-blog-giveaway-winnerAngie from Just Like the Number and Kristen from Sticky But Sweet. I know they will both put it to great use. I’m hoping the win helps boost Kristen’s spirits and the book makes her see that she is a great mama after her ordeal last week.

Thanks for playing everyone!