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Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

It’s been two weeks since Blogalicious in San Antonio, TX and I’m still feeling inspired and excited.

My Blogalicious journey started earlier than the conference. I was asked by the Blogalicious team to create an eguide for my millennial peers. From there, How to be Great at Social Media for Millennials was born!

I wrote an eguide!

Many of my girlfriends have asked me how to successfully build influence online and this eguide is my very detailed and fun answer to help take them to the next level. More on what you will learn from the guide and how to save money on it after my recap!

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From L-R: Photo 1: Opening day: Stacy Ferguson, the Chief Curator for Blogalicious welcomes us all to San Antonio! Photo 2: Opening Keynote Speaker: Derreck Kayongo inspired us with his story. He’s a visionary and the founder of the Global Soap Project. He even got us on our feet to sing a song in Swahili. It was a really beautiful moment. Photo 3: Comedian Aida Rodriguez from “Last Comic Standing” made us laugh the night away, literally, with her stories about being a woman of color on a majority male field and throughout her personal life.

After Aida, we had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of Beyond the Lights at AMC Riverwalk.

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Theater selfie ;)

I talked about how great the movie was in my last post!

Day 2 started with a wonderful workout sponsored by Coca Cola!

A photo posted by thegreatdanaj (@thegreatdanaj) on

I really enjoyed this time. I love working out in the morning and it gave me life to last the rest of the day after the late night at the movies! Our coaches were friendly, but they didn’t take it easy on us! We did bootcamp, Zumba and ended things with a deep stretch! I stayed hydrated with Dasani and we also had an assortment of Vitamin Water flavors to choose from. This was one of my favorite parts of the conference!

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From L-R: Photo 1: Warming up for a great workout with Zumba. Photo 2: An excellent panel on branding from Domain.Me happened on Day 3. The panel featured Danika Kombol, Shenee Howard and Jeanette Kaplum. They offered valuable insight on building a personal brand. It really motivated me to focus on finding my authentic voice online n 2015. Photo 3: A great break out session at the B-Link bar with Beatrice Clay on creating sweeter DIY posts. I discovered new ways to leverage Instagram photos and how to create great DIY photos for Pinterest.

The weekend was pretty jam packed with learning, networking and discovery. I met so many wonderful people. Most importantly, I was inspired by the theme encouraging us all to be great. From the speakers, I learned that all of us face resistance when it comes to becoming our best selves. After I left the conference, I promised myself that I would get out of my own way and start doing all the things that truly scare me. It made me want to dig deeper to really discover my passion and what drives me.

Oh, about my eguide How to be Great at Social Media for Millennials.

I’m beyond excited to share some things I’ve learned on the journey here getting my blog started. I outline:

– How to work with brands

– How to build your influence

– How to measure your influence

– New and emerging platforms you should consider

For all of my millennial peers out there who are interested in pushing themselves to the next level of greatness, the Blogalicious team has given me a coupon code for all of you to check out my new eguide How to be Great at Social Media for MillennialsUse the code: EGUIDEDANA to get 10% off when you get ready to buy. The great news is – it’s priced for all of us balling on a budget plus the code will help you save even more!
Let me know what you think after you check it out. I wrote this for you guys and I’d love your feedback: email dana {at} thegreatdanaj.com comment or tweet!

 

Have you been to any really inspiring events lately? What did you learn from them?

Posted by & filed under Reviews.

Last week, during the first night of Blogalicious, we had the opportunity to see the new movie Beyond the Lights followed by a Q&A session with writer and director Gina Prince-Bythewood. I heard about the movie from a commercial and the previews had me convinced that it piqued my interest. The movie comes out today! Here are four reasons you need to check it out:

 4. The cast – The movie features a great cast! From Nate Parker to Danny Glover and Minnie Driver. This was my first time seeing a movie with the lead actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She’s gorgeous and a great actress and singer. I even rented Belle from Redbox one night this week and she was great in that too (hooray for text marketing campaigns that push for mid-week movie nights ;)). Plus there are cameos from Big Sean, Emelie Sande, Lily Allen, Deborah Lee (BET President), Don Lemon and Rocsi. I’m sure there are more that I missed.

3. Gina Prince-Bythewood – She’s the writer/director behind the classic Love & Basketball. Plus, she also directed the film adaptation of The Secret Life of Bees. I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I truly believe she was able to capture the essence of a beautiful story of sisterhood on screen. Hearing the story of how this movie came together made it even more special to me. It was a struggle and she kept it real with us about the realities of making a love story with a predominately black cast. She told us that there’s an assault on black love in media. That statement felt so real to me. I’ve seen so many romcoms that feature predominately white casts. I can appreciate any film out there that does a great job telling a story, but I truly appreciate when films feature diversity in a positive way.

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Gina Prince-Bythewood telling us about the process of getting a film made. I never realized how difficult it is from start to finish. The creative writing process, turning writing into a script, followed by casting plus the campaign to get funding. It’s a journey! She was passionate and believed in the film and that’s what kept her going.

2. The music - Writer, producer, and artist, The Dream was involved in putting together the music for this film. I am a big fan of The Dream’s first solo album. I will never forget jamming out to the songs on Love/Hate. I’m also a fan of his songs written for other artists including Rhianna’s Umbrella, Nivea’s Complicated, Beyonce’s Single Ladies and 1+1. The music is a huge part of this movie and it added value to the story.

1. It’s not a sappy love story - For me, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good old fashioned love story.I really appreciate how in line this movie was with reality. It’s a story about the realities behind the scene of the music industry and it’s the story of two people with real problems getting together and trying to make it work. Together they bring out the best in each other. It’s in line with reality.

If you’re headed out on date night, girl’s night or even a solo matinee (often my favorite type of movie going), go see this movie!

Come back and let me know how much you liked it ;) Take a look at the preview here before you go.

Have a great one y’all!

Posted by & filed under Life & More.

Sorry for the unintended hiatus! Life got the best of me for a bit.

I’m back on schedule now. I am still doing well with making all of my own meals during the week. I’ve been having fun trying out new recipes. I’m also back on my workout schedule. Over the past few weeks, I’ve figured out that doing morning workouts helps me stay focused throughout the day! This week:

Sunday - AM: 30 minute walk

Monday - PM: Trying a new trainer

Tuesday - Rest – might be sore from new trainer

Wednesday - AM: Spin class

Thursday - Kettletoning

Friday - AM: 30 minutes cardio PM: Halloween – I got a fabulous costume that I can’t wait to share.

Saturday - Body  Works + Abs w/ Workout Halloween wear (fun, fun, fun)

 

Over the weekend, I had Delicata squash and Kabocha Squash. Both turned out fantastic. Here’s the Kabocha:

A photo posted by thegreatdanaj (@thegreatdanaj) on

I’m going to share all of my favorite fall recipes soon. I have been spending way more time on Snapchat and Vine lately. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had insomnia. Vine is fun to watch during those waking hours. With Snapchat, I made my very first story over the weekend. It’s a great way to give people insight into what you are doing throughout the day. If you are using either site, let’s connect! I have the same username on both: search thegreatdanaj on Snapchat, and Vine.

Are you using Snapchat and Vine?

Any big plans for Halloween?

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

Plants have always been a fixture in my bedroom. I always believed that they make things a little bit brighter and help me breathe a little bit easier. I didn’t know that flowers had similar benefits when you have them in your home. Makes sense why people are always giving flowers in the midst of hospital visits and baby births. The benefits exceed just appearances. Indoor flowers are linked to wellbeing. Plus, the smell of floral scents is linked to helping us feel less anxious. Here’s a great article about the mental health benefits of flowers from Huffington Post.

Have you ever heard of The Bouqs? I learned more about them during BlogHer this summer. The Bouqs make it easy to order flowers online. They make it happen in three easy steps. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to order flowers through other websites but the process is lengthy, annoying and tedious. I end up quitting before I get to the end. Check out all of the bouq love on Twitter.

I received my first bouq for review and it brightened up my place for 2.5 weeks :) The bouq arrives in a box with easy unwrapping and care details.

 

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My bouq ended up fitting into two vases. I used a mason jar for the second vase and kept one on top of the fridge and the other on the bar.

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I’d love to budget in a bouq once a month or so. I enjoyed just looking at them every day. It was calming. They were so beautiful. This month, The Bouqs has a few great autumn and National Breast Cancer Awareness month themed specials. Purchasing one of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Power of Hope bouqs gives 5% of the purchase to Susan G. Komen LA County.

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I was given a bouq at a discounted price for review purposes. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are all my own.

 

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

This has been a whirlwind of a week.

Just yesterday, I won a ticket to Blogalicious in San Antonio! I have a friend there, so I’m hoping to make it a mini girls vacay. I’m beyond excited! I also just found out I’ll be going to see Outkast this weekend. Fun, fun, fun ;)

And tonight…..

Scandal is back!

I’m glad that we will finally lean where Oivia Pope went. Have you seen the Where on Earth is Olivia Pope game? It took me back to the days when I used to watch Where in The World is Carmen San Diego? It’s on the Scandal official Tumblr page. You have to move the wine glass to wherever you think Olivia Pope went.

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Play the game on the official Tumblr here.

Personally, I picked Maldives. Honestly though, I think Olivia Pope won’t be going very far…if she actually went anywhere.

Where do you think that Olivia Pope went?

Any fun plans for the weekend?

 

Posted by & filed under Reviews.

I started taking a new multivitamin after coming home from BlogHer in July. It’s the Kind Organics Women’s Once Daily created by Garden of Life. I’ve read about Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet in the past. In fact, I have her book The Kind Diet. I was excited to test out the vitamins because I’ve heard about them via Twitter. I often switch out my multivitamins, but I’d like to stick with this one for a while.

KindOrganics.thegreatdanaj

I take mine once a day every morning. A few great things about the multivitamin:

– It has 100% of the recommended daily amounts of 15 important vitamins and minerals. I usually take the multivitamin in the morning when I get up or just before breakfast. I have noticed that my hair is getting thicker and the curl pattern is growing in more defined. My coworker also takes the vitamin and has noticed hair growth too.

– Certified vegan, USDA Organic, Non- GMO Project Verified and gluten free

– Great levels of B vitamins for skin and nails (my skin is looking great)

– Tablet is easy to swallow with no after taste

– 60 tablets are a plus for me. You take one a day, so essentially one bottle lasts for about two months. At a price point of $35 per bottle, that’s $17.50/month and a great price in comparison to other vitamins with much less to offer. Some multivitamins ask too much in my opinion. I don’t want to take 3 of them a day at all! I’ve found some great coupons and also recommend subscribing to the email list for offers and following on social media.

More details about this vitamin and other Garden of Life products here. Do you take a multivitamin? What kind of benefits do you see?

 

*I was given a bottle of Garden of Life Kind Organics Women’s Once Daily to try. As always, all opinions are my own.

Posted by & filed under Life & More.

TGIF!

It’s been a long week. I’m thankful that the finish line is so close. I don’t have big plans for the weekend, and I’m okay with that.

This week, I tried turkey meatballs and veggies over Quest Nutrition spinach fettuccine.

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I found out about Quest Nutrition on YouTube. Then when I went to FitBloggin’ in June, I got to learn even more about them. I’ll definitely be purchasing the spinach fettuccine for future meals. They were super easy to make!

I bought a desk!


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I had to buy a hammer to put it together, but hopefully, it’s ready for use. I really wanted a designated place to sit my laptop and do work. Writing, planning, budgeting, etc. Doing it on the sofa wasn’t very productive because sofas are for “relaxing”. Now all I need is a chair and I’m good to go!

I enjoyed reading this article by Paul C. Brunson on the 9 Biggest Problems with Dating. I had a first date over the weekend. It was a learning experience. I always tell people that my dating life is like a comedy show. Like In Living Color. Have to make the most of it right?

Did you hear about the Digorno tweet on the domestic violence hashtag #WhyIStayed? As a social media manager, it’s important to not only monitor trends, but to know and understand the trend. I hope the person handling it doesn’t get into too much trouble and will think twice about future “trend hopping”.

I loved the NIssan #RoyalBaby tweet. Simple, but effective.

What’s on your mind this week?

Posted by & filed under Books.

A few years ago, I was in a tough spot.

I was in between jobs, steadily interviewing and going through a cycle of rejection and frustration.

Often times, I’d be on an interview with one company while receiving rejection letters from other companies all in the same day. It was a humbling time. What really helped me make it through that period was sticking to a solid schedule filled with exercise, reading (mostly memoirs), networking, mid day movie matinees, and interviewing. I went on so many interviews. I can’t even remember them all. I know that I went through all of this, but lately, I was reminded of that period.

I started getting alerts on my phone from Tumblr. Honestly, I love Tumblr as a platform, however, I’m not incredibly active on there. I kept getting these alerts on my phone about a quote being reblogged. One that I posted a while back by Kelly Cutrone after reading her book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.

 

KellyCutrone.thegreatdanaj

 

As soon as I saw the quote, I remembered that period of struggle. I remembered receiving those rejection emails, while on the phone interviewing for other positions. Feeling confused and frustrated about where I was in life, feeling doubtful about my career standing. I learned so much during that period about being patient, and resilient. Was it a tough time? Absolutely, but from that period came lessons that I needed to learn. I just wanted to share this for anyone as motivation this morning. It’s hard to see outside of the season your in. We’ve all been there.

But things get better.

What season are you in? What’s preventing you from living your best life?

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy these gorgeous flowers for the last week.

 

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Expect a full review on my experience with The Bouqs soon here on the blog.

I have been focused on making my new place feel like home. I know it’s not the things that make a home, but more about the people and experiences. So far, I’ve had a few visitors over for dinner. My goal is to have one guest per week to try out some of my meals. I’m also slowly but surely adding little bits of decor.

I set a goal to eat in every meal of the week and take my lunch daily. I allow myself one lunch and one dinner “out” per week. That’s it. This really helps me stay on top of my spending on food and I have been able to try new dishes and entertain guests ;).

My plan is always to hit the grocery store on Sunday, then make all of the food after that. SO far, this plan hasn’t gone as expected. Usually, after hitting 1-3 grocery stores to get everything on my list, I’m hungry, tired and ready for a nap. This week I went Monday since it was a holiday. This worked out fine, but instead of cooking while it was 95 degrees out, I decided to hit the pool. So yeah, meals didn’t get made.
I’m not sure if my plan is too solid or if I need to think things through on Friday or Saturday and hit the grocery store right after church Sunday, have break time for lunch, then make everything. Perhaps I’m overthinking things…I will give myself credit for the fact that this “plan” has gone really well and I have in fact eaten what I make with the exception of two meals a week ovevr the last three weeks. I’ve made it work. **Pats self on the back**

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This week’s list

Here are a few tips that have helped me stick to it over these last few weeks:

1. Fit Men Cook – I saw this video where he talks about how to make your food budget happen. He explains the importance of selecting quality proteins first then everything else after that. This was so helpful for me because I usually spend the most money on the “fluff” as opposed to buying quality proteins.
2. Pinterest – This Monday, before my grocery trip, I took inventory of what I already had and also the pins on my board of recipes that I wanted to try. By doing this, I realized that I had a surplus of qunioa and I planned a few meals around that
3. Invite a friend – By inviting a friend/guy to impress ;) over for dinner helps me get feedback on my cooking in addition to preventing me from getting bored with leftovers.
4. Experiment – By the end of the week, I’m drained from everything. So the meals need to be easy to make and simple. Last week, I got creative with the ingredients that I had left.
5. Be flexible – Of course, schedules are not permanent. I’ve had to adapt or move things around. That’s life. As long as I have my plan set prior to the week, it helps me remain flexible throughout.

I definitely plan on improving my process. I want to reduce my spend as soon as I have all of the essential kitchen items. I also plan on creating a list of staple products and an inventory. Seems like so much, but I’ll get there. I’m working on my fall bucket list too.

Do you meal plan? What works best for you?

 

Posted by & filed under Food.

Last week, I had the opportunity to try new menu items at Olive Garden. I haven’t been there in forever, so I was excited to attend. I’m so glad that I saved room at lunch because we were treated to eleven new menu items.

OGTastes.TheGreatDanaJ

 

Row 1: Crispy Risotto Bites, Artichoke Fritta, Poenta Shrimp alla Greco,

Row 2: Lasagna Fresca, Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich, Pappardelle Pescatore

Row 3: Bucatini with Diavolo Sauce and Sausage Meatballs, Chichek Abruzzi*, Vanila Panna Cotta with Strawberries

(* – Lighter Italian Fare menu item)

Everything was delicious. On my next trip, I would definitely love to try the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberries. It’s a light dessert with loads of flavor. The Chicken Abruzzi and chicken meatballs were excellent and light as well. I am not the biggest fan of heavy menu items at all, so the items that had lots of flavor without the heavy sauces stood out most for me.

I saved my favorite two items for last ;)

OGTastes.TheGreatDanaJ

The Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper adds a topper to your traditional Olive Garden salad. I always enjoy Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks during my trips. The addition of roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and kale really take the salad up a notch. I love how there wasn’t too much dressing so that I could really taste and enjoy the flavors. I would order this on another trip.

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My absolute favorite entree was the Garlic Rosemary Chicken. I loved the rich rosemary flavor. The raw spinach and mashed potatoes were a perfect compliment. This dish is on the lighter fare menu too so it’s under 575 calories!

I’m getting full again just looking through all of these photos ;) Will have to go back for date night or girl’s night soon!

Have you been to Olive Garden lately? Have you tried any of these menu items?

If you’d like to see what others thought of the menu items. Check out my Storify below!

*I was invited to attend a media dinner with food and drinks provided by Olive Garden. As usual, all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own!