Monkey's Lunch Turtle Bay
This is by far my favorite vacation drink. It’s refreshing and tastes like a treat at the same time.

Here’s the original from our trip to Oahu in 2011:
Monkey's LunchTurns out I had been using too much Baileys and too much Kahlua in my homemade version. Opps! Thankfully, Turtle Bay released the official recipe here.

Ingredients (for one drink! Double or triple or quadruple as you see fit!):

  • One Banana
  • 1.5 ounces Baileys
  • 1.5 ounces Kahlua
  • Ice (about 1 to 1.5 cups)
  • Chocolate Syrup

Add the first three ingredients to a blender. Blend. Then add ice and blend until smooth. Add chocolate syrup to the bottom and sides of the glass. Pour into your favorite glass (I’m partial to oversized wine glasses). Or add a straw and your favorite garnish and enjoy!

Dessert drink

My opinion:
This is my favorite summer dessert drink. I love taking it to parties! Of note, only three servings fit into an empty Kahlua bottle.

I used to love clothes. I used to go to NYC and try on a million outfits and find a thousand I loved. But then I moved to the middle of Missouri. As my trips east diminished so did my wardrobe.

Then for the last year I’ve only bought maternity clothes, which are super comfortable, but not so awesome when you’re not growing a baby anymore.

So I thought I would try the usual places for casual, yet work appropriate clothes: Old Navy, Macy’s, New York and Company, Express, Limited and Target. That excusrion is when I realized: I actually hate shopping for clothes.

Like really hate. Since I’m under 5’5″ most of the clothes available to me in my small midwestern town are what I like to call Old Lady petite or Juniors. I’m way too old for bedazzled butt jeans and crop tops and way to young for pastel jogging suits. Blech.

Enter what I hope to be a solution:

After filling out a style profile:

Then creating a Pinterst board and providing feedback such as: My workplace is casual and we can wear jeans every day. I love bold solid colors! I avoid prints, button up blouses, crew necks and scoop necks. I look best in jewel tones. I already have a lot of blue in my wardrobe. My first box is being curated right now. 

I promise to post reviews (and what I keep!) from my first box!
When I first started in social media and spent a lot more time watching and listening than posting on Twitter several more experienced users of the medium reached out to me and encouraged me to ask questions. They encouraged me to learn more about how to use the social space and spent a lot of time answering questions. One of those people was Chris Ehrlich. Chris Ehrlich NewsSpark He was brimming with knowledge and ideas and genuinely happy to help. Which is why I’m thrilled to be able to repay his kindness.

Ehrlich founded NewsSpark a social content hub. He is also opening the private beta of the NewsSpark digital PR and marketing channel to readers of Dispatches from the Castle.

Readers can access the private beta hub and “stake claims to their industry categories” via my referral link, keeping  “AuroraMeyer” in the referrer field.

Readers can also use the hub’s invite-a-friend feature to invite others into the private beta.

Here’s more about the NewsSpark concept
Original content
NewsSpark is a digital hub where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. The hub is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles.

Creators can publish original news, blogs, updates, photos, videos and audio (soon) on every topic — or Sparks. The hub also features catalogs of content creators, brands and groups.

The freemium model NewsSpark is planning to implement paid features, such as branded Content Galleries.

“Looking at the marketplace, we believe we’re the first digital channel dedicated to publishing and consuming original content,” said Ehrlich. “Some may argue the claim, but the hub’s makeup and utility are clearly distinct when compared to other digital channels.”

NewsSpark plans to exit its private beta and launch later this month.

Initial partners
After testing the hub with family and friends, NewsSpark has set up member benefit and/or content partnerships with several organizations during its private beta: the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, or WMPRSA; stock video production company Uberstock; early stage venture capital fund Start Garden; and Michigan State University Spartan Innovations, the university’s startup innovation division.

“We’re just getting started,” Ehrlich said. “We’ll be forming partnerships on an ongoing basis.”

User-rated content
Sparks can be published by “anyone with great original content,” Ehrlich said.

Creators increase or decrease a Spark’s stoke count — and hub-wide rank — when they “stoke it,” “douse it” or mark it as a “firestarter.”

The hub of user-ranked content is organized by a set of filters and designed to be “a meritocracy and front-line source for anyone who consumes digital content,” Ehrlich said.

“Right now, the community is in its infancy,” Ehrlich said. “It will naturally grow as we grow.”


Content marketing problems
NewsSpark is designed to be an “open and organized hub where creators can complete their content marketing cycles,” Ehrlich said.

“The hub lets their content burn and work for them in ways it can’t at other digital channels,” he said.

Ehrlich explained that “almost immediately after it’s posted,” original content “functionally disappears” from other digital channels, where he said content is an ad unit, fleeting, disorganized, unfindable, isolated or in a closed network.

“There’s all this great content being created that gets lost online — as a fleeting mention, one-time broadcast or on a virtual island,” Ehrlich said. “We wanted to create a hub where original content can be planted, judged on its merit and work as an ongoing catalyst for creators — in real-time and long-term.”

The hub is also a platform for creators to package, consolidate and digitally present their complete range of content to their audiences in a professional-grade user interface, such as a plug-and-play social Content Gallery, newsroom or web presence.

“A brand’s content is diluted when it’s only fragmented across channels — and never unified in a single user experience for ongoing discovery,” Ehrlich said.

Sparks flying
The hub is designed to potentially increase multiple near- and long-term content marketing metrics: brand awareness, SEO and social search, audience, engagement, web traffic, coverage by bloggers and media outlets, inbound leads and sales.

“We’re simply engineered from the onset to deliver returns to creators who market their content,” Ehrlich said.

The hub is also designed to deliver cost and staff savings on managing and sharing digital content.

“Trying to manage and use de-centralized content is hugely inefficient for teams,” Ehrlich said. “And when they turn to platforms to package and centralize the content, they often run into technical or pricing obstacles.”

Bigger picture
NewsSpark will donate 5% of its income to The NewsSpark R. D.  Ehrlich Communications Scholarship at colleges across the country, beginning with UCLA and Denison University.

About NewsSpark
NewsSpark™ is the social content hub™ where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. NewsSpark is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles.

IMG_7159This is a dish my friend Chris introduced me to. It’s one of those church potluck dishes that the recipe is occasionally hard to track down. It’s simple, delicious and looks far more involved than it really is.

1 pre-packaged Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 container of Cool Whip
1 package of cherry Kool-Aid (store brand is fine!)

Mix the Sweetened Condensed Milk and Cool Whip together in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer (this makes it easier). The stir in the Kool Aid. Top the pie crust and chill for at least an hour. Longer is better.

My opinion:
A few bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate chips help to cut the sweetness of the dessert, but if you like sweet desserts, this is perfect for you!

When A was a little over two months old, I posted this:
My child is not a dollThat sparked quite the conversation on Facebook. At the time, she was not at all interested in onesies. She fought J and I each time we tried to put one on her. Then after watching me pull a blown out onesie off over her feet, J discovered that we could also put the onesies on that way too. Let that sink in for a minute, because it was LIFE CHANGING for us. From then on we could dress her in onesies and she wouldn’t scream.

My daughter is not a doll

Fast forward four more months and A is now super mobile (rolling and army crawling and pulling herself to standing) J and I are even more aware of what we dress her in. If you haven’t read this post from Willow Mom, please do. It sums up how we feel in the most articulate way.

You won’t be seeing A in super frilly dresses, except for the occasional church outfit, like this one for Easter. She wore it for all of two hours and had three blow outs.
Frilly Dress

We, like Willow Mom, will follow this advice from The Bump and dress our daughter in outfits she can move in and that won’t be ruined if she has a blow out. As we are also nearing the summer months, we will be opting for outfits of breathable material that won’t stick to her. We will also be dressing her in ways that protect her skin. The carseat gets just as hot as a regular car seats and we don’t want her to get burned because she wore a backless sundress.

Which brings me to the most important part of this post: I am SO TIRED of clothing companies creating baby clothes for girls that inhibit movement, are pink-ified and glittery. It’s like the designers have never met a baby before. If it looks like it would get stuck on a slide or hurt to lay on, I walk right past it. If it’s covered in glitter that will only get in her eyes, I won’t even consider dressing her in it. I want her to know there are more colors than pink. And if she doesn’t want to like pink, she doesn’t have to. My favorite color is blue.

I rarely buy new items for A. We’ve been blessed with lots of hand me downs from friends who have littles bigger than A. That includes boy clothes. Actually, most of the outfits she seems happiest in are boy clothes and pants. (Since most “girl” pants have that stupid ruffle butt.) She does have a few “dresses” that she likes, but if she has a blow out the entire outfit has to change. So we reserve those for special occasions and rarely wear them to school.

With A dressed most often in boy clothes, we are always getting the question of whether she’s a boy or a girl. This doesn’t bother us in any way, but it does make other people uncomfortable. So I’ve developed a trick. When someone continuously refers to A as a girl, I find a way to add in something like, “silly girl! Where did your headband (or hair bow) go!” Most often, that does the trick.

It’s interesting to me how not knowing if she’s a boy or a girl by looking at her makes people uncomfortable. Then we some people find out she is a girl, they get irritated that we didn’t dress her to be easily identifiable as a girl. I’ve talked to moms of boys and somehow they don’t encounter the same thing. I’m sure there’s a psychology experiment to be done about this.

Where's your headband?

Now, don’t get me started on older ladies (and younger ones!) accosting me in the grocery store…

About Aurora

My father named me after Sleeping Beauty. The princess theme stuck. Unfortunately, the only castle I can claim is the one in Disney Land. These are the musings of a princess without minions, knights or fairy tales. I have to do my own bidding.

The views in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or clients.

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