Posts Tagged ‘diana orgain’

Mystery novels featuring new mothers

Bundle of TroubleLook what I found at Type A Mom!  Bundle of Trouble, by Diana Orgain, is a mystery novel featuring a brand-new mom trying to balance her own interests and goals with the chaos of new motherhood.  The book was light but engaging, and every detail rang absolutely true with this mom of two – work-life balance isn’t easy, and this book sure tells the truth about how difficult it can be to care for a newborn and strike out on your own to create a job that gives you the work-life balance you need.

I bought the book myself, at the conference market, and received no compensation for this post.

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Blogher Swag

After all the swag kerfluffle, I felt terrible about accepting ANY swag from the BlogHer conference. Which is patently ridiculous, because, er, they GAVE it to me, and wanted me to write about it. So here’s my swag roundup, and a giveaway at the end of the post. Don’t forget the Zula Patrol giveaway that ends September 9 — and I’ll be posting more of these products as giveaways over the next few weeks.

The sponsors I was most impressed with: Pepsi, Blue Avocado, Land’s End, PBS Kids, Intelius, and Lush. Details below.

Pepsi. Pepsi sponsored the BlogHer conference in a major way, and used the scheduled snack breaks to introduce us to new products. I really appreciated the soda in the afternoons — and the Trop 50 in the mornings was so ubiquitous that I tried it. And then I tried it again. And again. And when I got home, I found coupons for free product in my swag bag, and my family tried it. Long story short? Pepsi converted us, from a family who wouldn’t touch a “lite” juice drink, to a family who will grab it on-the-go as a lighter alternative to juice or soda when we’re in the car. A success.

Blue Avocado. Blue Avocado, “a women-owned/women-powered business” provided the BlogHer swag bags and had a lovely booth at the conference. It was unfortunate that it was in the back corner, behind the giant Pepsi booth, because this is the kind of business that I love to see at BlogHer. Woman-owned, woman-powered, green, products with a mission that serve the greater good. Blue Avocado bags are swingy, cute, stylish and handy — so they’ll actually serve their purpose of taking plastic bags out of your cart and off the street. They also provided a 40% off coupon, but it expired quickly so I didn’t use it.

Green works. I love green products, and I was eager to check them out. I believe there was a coupon but I can’t find it now. The cool thing about this company’s literature is that it was small (one postcard, and one full-size sheet), to the point, and had a secret power. The postcard was decorated with a grass trim embedded with wildflower seeds. Directions on the card mean that I kept the card, for experiment with the kids, and it kept the brand on my mind for longer.

Ragu. Yes, lunch was over-the-top, but it sure made an impression. Free coupons for pasta sauce (no other purchase required) helped, and made a LOT more sense than offering product on-site. A set of recipe cards was nice, but there was a lot of extra paper waste involved. The zip drive could have easily held them all.

Tmobile, Kodak, and Michelin, who gave away flash drives with promotional material pre-loaded and lots of empty space. BIG bonus points to the companies who ponied up for 2G drives, which will be used and reused for years to come. I was so delighted with these — and so were the friends in my Mom’s Club who I shared them with. Poof. Instant word-of-mouth publicity, good karma, and staying power. Michelin also gave out coupons for $60 back on the purchase of 4 new tires, but that’s not exactly an impulse purchase, so I doubt I’ll use it.

Land’s End. We all know Land’s End, right? Quality, dependable clothes that don’t wear out quickly? Land’s End did this meeting right. Although they weren’t official sponsors of the conference (boo, hiss), they did appear at multiple events, give away generous swag, and do it in a way that motivated additional sales. Inside the backpack that was one of the top gift suite items was a $10 gift card and a coupon for free shipping, no minimum required. I didn’t need anything at the time, but I just was thinking about a winter coat — and went to the catalog, found a cute one, and ordered it, happy that I could get it for even less than their normal prices. Land’s End made me happy at the conference and made me go to their website and order months later.

Kiwi. The Zespri Kiwifruit exhibit started out as something that looked really out of place, but it quickly became popular as bloggers rummaged through the conference hotel in search of real fruit. One of my favorite memories is sitting in the hotel room at midnight with TechSavvyMama and Stimey, scooping golden kiwifruit out of the skin with spoons. Mmmm. And yes, I’ve been to the store for kiwifruit since, where it certainly wasn’t on my list before.

Dove. Dove sponsored the Mamapop party, which I arrived at late in the evening after Blogalicious. The women there were friendly and outgoing, and offered me a sample, with a flash drive attached. Did I need a sample of deoderant? No. Do I like my current brand, that I’ve used since college? Yes. And yet, I took it, in part because of the flash drive that I could share with my friends later. The product, however, was so yummy that I’ve used it daily since the conference and will buy it again. It’s a cream deodorant, which I’ve never used before, called Dove Clinical Protection, and it has a pleasing light fragrance that isn’t too much. Bonus points for the visibly smooth promises, although I don’t know if it actually would reduce the appearance of hair under my arms because I have none. 🙂

Izze. Izze is a Pepsi brand but had their own little mini-setup where we could sample their 5 sparkling juice flavors. As a non-drinker, I love a little fizzy drink, and the samples were both refreshing and compelling. I might buy this — although I think I would have been much more likely to with a starter coupon, as the drinks are like $6 for six bottles. Interestingly, they’re on twitter.

Sittercity.com sponsored the Mommy Needs a Cocktail party thrown by my friend Kristen, and provided sitters for several of my mommy-friends in Chicago. I would have never considered a local sitter before, but they had good experiences, so this may be an option that I’d recommend for professional conferences, where onsite childcare is nearly always a problem. Sittercity.com impressed me simply with their information; I think their only swag was a reusable bag.

One Hope wine gives 50% of their profits to designated charities. Proceeds from the chardonnay fight breast cancer. Proceeds from the chablis fight autism. This California company offered samples at an offsite party, and gave away full bottles to attendees.

Hasbro Play-doh, which had a table at their booth to sit down and talk to people. Very cool. And didn’t we all take a small can of play-doh, even though we know exactly what it does? Big plus on the goodwill side of the house. Their “recipe card” was darling, and reminded me of their presence weeks later.

Wal-Mart. Yes, the demonstrations were great, but I’m not really a foodie. I am a cookie-ee, though, and having the girl-scout-taste-alikes out for sampling during the conference was a major WIN for the company. The Great Value cookies were DELICIOUS, and I’ve already made special trips to Wal-Mart (where I don’t usually shop; I’m more of a Target mom) just for the peanut-butter and chocolate cookies. I’ll send the Girl Scouts a check.

Latitude and Build-a-Bear shared a suite with Land’s End, Grippies iron-on no-slip adhesives, a puppy DVD and several other really nice products. I gave away my latitude level to someone who didn’t have one, but boy, was it sweet. The neatest part about it was the attached key-hole locators that make hanging pictures a SNAP. Totally awesome, and I will look for them at Target the next time I need tools — or a gift for a friend. One thing they missed? They have a “follow us on Twitter” tag on the promotional page, but no twitter handle. It made me less likely to follow them, even though it’s probably “latitude.” Build-a-bear gave away incredibly cuddly full size bears. Impressive, but since they didn’t come with any promotional material or coupons, they didn’t stick in my mind, and I gave the bear away without a thought.

Big kudos to the Pearl of Wisdom campaign to prevent cervical cancer. I love, love, love that you distributed two pages of information and a card with a button. I wear the button on my bag.

Gap gave away the softest. t-shirts. ever. It doesn’t hurt that they say “Born to Blog” (KUDOS to them for knowing their audience), but the shirts are so darn soft that they’re heaven — not hell — on my scars. I’m heading back to Gap, PURELY because of this exposure. This is one of my new favorites.

Smartycard reached me because I know and am impressed with a blogger that they sponsor. Because they sponsor TechSavvyMama, I stopped and read their information about the online play system for 7-12 year olds, even though I don’t have a child that age.

PBS kids didn’t have to impress me. We’re fans of their quality educational tv already, as you probably are too. But they did impress me, because of the knowledge at their booth. I had a great experience talking with Jenine and (oh, dear, I’ve forgotten her name, all these weeks later). We talked about the educational underpinnings of SuperWhy and some of the other shows — and I found out that we can find out more at PBSParents. I adored the booklights they gave out promoting their new Booklights campaign. I appreciated the bookfinder bookmark (with recommendations of great books by age), and I was stunned and thrilled to win the PBS Booklights giveaway! Thanks, PBS kids!

Sprout, of course, is one of our favorites. They brought along Wiggles singalong CDs, which I’m frankly afraid to open, as promo, because the Wiggles are moving to Sprout! We love, love, love Sprout and PBS kids in this house, and don’t watch anything else with the kids (except Science Channel. Because we’re us.). I kept the Wiggles sticker page and the Martha Speaks sticker. Again, because I’m a big fan. (And a bit of a dork.)(My kid was so happy, though. I just gave him the sticker, and he said, “I will go put it on right now!”)

JCaroline Creative, a mom-owned business that really impressed me. JCaroline makes quality, attractive, and fun products, and she even passed out hand made key chain fobs, which I love, love, love. I’m not usually in the market for that kind of thing, but I totally have been back to the JCaroline web site, and recommend her crafts!

Aurora totally impressed me with their in-suite photo editing demonstration in the Shutter Sisters suite. You can do absolutely astounding photo editing with this software. I’m keeping the promotional cards even though the coupon expired (five weeks later — that was enough time; I just didn’t get around to it.) The ShutterSisters themselves did awesome work on their promotional materials — I cannot wait to see their Picture Hope book. Snapfish gave out 50 free prints, which was nice. ColorIncorporated gave away a 50/20% gift card, which was an attempt to bring you back over and over, but it really just looked confusing, so I know several of us who weren’t too excited about using that coupon. Also, I have no idea when it expires. Leapfrog had a 20% off coupon in our swag bags to go with the free Spiderman Tag book. Awesome swag — but with an expiration date just a few days after the conference, I didn’t use it and didn’t order an additional book. Method. The coupon, good for any one Method product, will convince me to try it even though I never have before. Bonus points for a long-term expiration date.

LUSH, a sponsor of the FABULOUS Blogalicious party, was all new to me, and boy, was it LUSH and delicious. They gave away full-size samples, but I don’t remember which, because I bought several myself! And I NEVER buy cosmetics. Win.

A Diana Orgain bookmark made it into my bag of things to keep — she has just published her first thriller, called Bundle of Trouble. The teaser intrigued me, even though this is not my genre: “First-time mom Kate Connolly may have found the perfect work-from-home Mommy job: Private investigator. After all, the hours are flexible, she can bring the baby along on stake-outs, and if you’re going to be up all night anyway, you might as well solve some crimes.” Dude. I am SO buying this book. And all it took was a bookmark.

Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife, by Nava Atlas, was a fun surprise in my bag, but not an all-time favorite. I gave it away to my Moms club, along with tchoctkes from Microsoft (a purse hanger? Really?), a Bing t-shirt (the sizes were WAY off, making it useless), the Real Pork Bloggers (cute idea, nice booth, not something I’m interested in), the Strawberry Shortcake doll (um, pink), and various bits and pieces.

The incredible: Intelius set up a table in the hallway one day, offering temporary passes to their new Neighborhood Watch program, which tracks se*x offenders in your neighborhood, a people lookup pass, and a babysitter check. I haven’t tried any of them yet, and I may give one or more away, but I’m very intrigued by the technology. Bonus points for twitter presence.

All in all, I was impressed with most brands at BlogHer. The very few who behaved badly (Alice and Go-girl, for their overeager marketers who interrupted my conversation) overshadowed the good in the immediate aftermath,but they shouldn’t. Although I don’t write a marketing blog or an all-purpose review blog, I enjoyed learning about these brands, and learning a bit about what works for marketers — and what doesn’t.

The giveaway: Leave a comment to win a Tag storybook: The Amazing Spiderman from Leapfrog. Tag reader not included, and the age range on this is 5-7. It’s a real comic, not watered down, which is interesting for this technology. Want to see it for yourself? Leave a comment — I’ll pick a winner September 14!