#outaboutNC Special Discount to the Carolina Artisan Craft Market in Raleigh, N.C. Plus Ticket Giveaway

I've got a treat for you this Halloween. It's not candy, but for art lovers, it is even better.  Spend a weekend shopping for handmade, one-of-a-kind craft representing more than 110 artists from across the country.

Carolina Artisan Craft Market
Hosted by the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild
Friday, November 6 – Sunday, November 8
at The Raleigh Convention Center, Exhibit Hall B

SAVE $2 on single day tickets to the Carolina Artisan Craft Market, Nov. 6-8, 2015 with Discount Code: Take2
Advance Purchase Tickets Only

Purchase today - CarolinaArtisanCraft.com.

The annual Market features the best of fine craft including pottery, sculpture, wearable and decorative fiber, glass, jewelry, metal work, furniture, leather, photography, printmaking and mixed media. While you shop, enjoy live music, artist demonstrations and, of course, a fabulous group of fine craft artists all in one place.

I'm giving away two sets of tickets for my #OutaboutNC and HinesSightBlog Community.

You can enter for those free tickets in the rafflecopter.  A winner will be announced Tuesday night and your tickets will be at Will Call beginning Friday. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Periscope Spa Chat with the Umstead Hotel and Spa on Fall and Winter Spa/Skin Tips

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, North Carolina’s premier Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond retreat, has revealed a newly conceived menu at The Umstead Spa with a strong focus on whole body benefits and seasonal inspiration. Body treatments are now offered in 80 and 100-minute increments, affording guests more time to maximize the healing properties of each therapy. Seasonal treatments are another fresh addition; a selection of five autumn services debut with the menu refresh.

I sat down with Carolyn Doe, the spa director, to talk about what is best for winter skin during a live Periscope broadcast. When you start chatting on Periscope, the chats can get long so let me summarize three things that you must know now.

Bergamot is the essential oil in the spotlight at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C this fall and winter. You can purchase bergamot to use in your home for spa treatments at home.

  • Bergamot is one of the essential oils that the Umstead Spa is featuring this month. Carolyn says this has a lemon/citrus fragrance and is perfect for relaxation. She says it has proven benefits to help one become calmer. Yes, we know the holiday season can cause us all to be anxious and stressed.  Bergamot is found in Earl Grey Tea, and they will be offering a great luxury pedicure which will be combined with a cup of tea. That's sounds like a spa treatment meant for me. 
  • The Red Island Ritual is Carolyn's favorite spa treatment. This is a body treatment that enhances body exfoliation with orange and apricot fruit seeds, essential oils, spice and nourishing oil. It follows up with a relaxing body treatment with warm exotic essential oils that gets rid of tension and stress. 
  • Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize. It's the best thing to do during the winter. 

Here are the new menu items at The Umstead Hotel and Spa.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. is a beautiful place to relax. The HinesSightBlog has the latest scoop on the spa menu.

·       The Piedmont Experience (available as of Nov. 1), designed to increase blood and lymph circulation through acupressure and a rocking rhythm technique. It includes a warm herbal compression ball infused with herbs and spices that relieve the body of toxins and tension. Guests are encouraged to take the ball as a complement to an at-home bath soak. (80 minutes, $205)

·       Bergamot Aromatherapy Massage, which heralds the relaxing aroma of Bergamot to ease the mind, while light broad strokes of a Swedish massage relax the muscles. (80 minutes, $165)

·       Monarch Ritual, a warm cocooning wrap that banishes stress and leaves skin supple. A moisturizing body milk application thereafter hydrates and softens skin. (80 minutes, $165)

·       De La Terre Autumn Skin Care Package, an organic skincare experience ideal for the autumn season. Guests will be left refreshed and renewed following their De La Terre Organic Facial, with a De La Terre Natural Skin Purification System of products to bring home for maintenance. (50 minutes, $205)

·       The Bergamot and Grey Luxury Pedicure, includes a luxurious soak, exfoliation and massage with bergamot aromas to ease tension and reduce inflammation. The service concludes with nail care and a Morgan Taylor color application while guests enjoy a cup of soothing Earl Grey tea. (75 minutes, $85)

New additions to The Umstead Spa’s permanent menu include:
·       The Emerald Experience, inspired by the detoxifying properties of North Carolina’s most precious gemstone, considered the purest crystal of the green ray. It is centered on balancing and purifying guests, beginning with a dry brushing treatment to start the detoxification process. Next, guests soak in a chromo therapy tub of warm water blended with mineral salts and herbs, offering relaxation for both body and mind. A calming Swedish massage with warm massage oil, followed by a detoxifying juice beverage, completes the experience. (100 minutes, $275)

·       Facial enhancements such as LED Light Therapy ($35) and Microcurrent Therapy ($45 face; $60 face and neck).

·       Pure Manicure (30 minutes, $35) and Pure Pedicure (40 minutes, $45), both designed to quickly trim and shape nails for a fresh, clean look.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. is a beautiful place to relax. The HinesSightBlog has the latest scoop on the spa menu.

Time-tested favorites remain on the menu, including The Umstead Spa’s Valmont Facial and Jurlique Brightening Vitamin C Facial, the Red Island Ritual exfoliation treatment and the Walk in the Woods four-hour escape experience.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C. is a beautiful place to relax. The HinesSightBlog has the latest scoop on the spa menu.

About The Umstead Hotel and Spa
The Umstead Hotel and Spa is a singular, sophisticated triumph in North Carolina’s northeastern Piedmont region, an area rich in beauty and rooted in innovation. The state’s most highly rated hotel, it boasts stunning interiors punctuated with privately curated fine art, 150 spacious guest rooms, and suites, world-class cuisine, a stimulating spa, gracious staff, and a serene woodland setting. The Umstead is a recipient of both the AAA Five Diamond award and Forbes Five Star rating.  You may enjoy these past posts on the Umstead Hotel and Spa.

Instagram Travel: A look at the Umstead Hotel and Spa 
Luxury Hotel Secrets: White Hot Chocolate at Home from The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Spring Clean Your Skin With This DIY Facial Tip from The Umstead Spa in Cary, N.C
Luxury Spa Secrets: DIY Beer Body Scrub 
Where to Stay for 36 Hours in Raleigh, N.C. 


If you love hotels, be sure to subscribe to my hotel newsletter or if you are only interested in North Carolina hotels and travel, sign up for the #OutaboutNC newsletter. Be sure to follow me on Periscope.


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Personal: What Keeps Bloggers Motivated to Blog

I've been participating in Blog Clarity's Periscope with Purpose Challenge this October. Melissa Culbertson, the awesome blogger behind Blog Clarity, is a fellow North Carolina Blogger Network Member. This is my first month ever using Periscope. I will admit that it does take a little while to get used to it because it's not live TV where you just talk, but it's also a tool to communicate with your online audience at the same time. Viewers can interact with you by giving you hearts, and commenting as you talk.  You have to really put yourself out there,  be willing to be real with your audience, make mistakes, and just keep on going.

Periscope with Purpose: What Keeps Bloggers Motivated to Blog

When I'm on Periscope in my home office, I always turn off my location for safety reasons, and it does reduce the number of random/non-followers in your scopes.  Our challenge over the weekend was to reveal what motivates us in some way. I chose the topic of what motivates me to continue blogging and my reason may surprise you. Check out the video below. It's a quick video and is less than 3 minutes which I think it an ideal time length with a scope for replay viewers. However, if you have people interacting you in scopes then they can get long-winded because it's just fun to talk, or at least I think so.  I do plan to host a weekly chat with my readers/viewers and I've got to decide the best time to host that. Any suggestions?

My answer to what motivates me to continue blogging is on Periscope. 

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

At Small Victories Sunday Linkup, we celebrate all the good ideas our bloggers have to offer. Our co-hosts have been busy commenting, sharing and inviting the best bloggers to participate in our linkup.

This linkup is designed to share your BEST posts to inspire our fast growing community of readers. Share with us anything that will help others live a happier and healthier life. Sunday is the perfect day to reflect and celebrate the week that passed and look forward to the week ahead.

Ways You Can Follow Your Hosts:
Your Small Victories Sunday Linkup Hosts: Mom's Small Victories, Sunshine & Sippy Cups, The Mad Mommy, Frugal & Coupon Crazy, GeminiRed Creations, Keystrokes by Kimberly, Tidbits of Experience, Hines-Sight Blog, Simply Save, All Inspired Mom, Oh my Heartsie Girl, O Taste and See, Shandra White Harris & One Hoolie Mama! Tanya M from Mom's Small Victories (books, food, chronic illness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Meagan from Sunshine and Sippy Cups (lifestyle) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Echo from The Mad Mommy (family/parenting, humor)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Gail from Frugal & Coupon Crazy (saving money) | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google + 

Heather from GeminiRed Creations (crafts, handmade, small business) | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google +

Kimberly from Keystrokes by Kimberly (lifestyle, travel, entertainment) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Crystal from Tidbits of Experience (family, entertainment, books) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Leigh from Hines-Sight Blog (lifestyle, food, travel) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Heather from Simply Save (saving money, DIY, crafts) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Tiffani from All Inspired Mom (family, crafts, planning)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Karren from Oh My Heartsie Girl (food, crafts/DIY, blogging tips)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Danita from O Taste and See Blog (food) |Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google +

Shandra from With Heart Wide Open (life, faith, family)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Suzanna from One Hoolie Mama (family, recipes, fitness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Featured Blogger

Each week, I like to feature at least one blogger that caught my attention this week.  

Pili, of the blog, My Sweet Things, impressed me with her storage pantry jars. I told her in my comment that she should sell them. 

Cute  DIY Pantry Storage Jars from My  Sweetest Things /Small Victories Link Up Feature

 Now It's Your Turn to Share Your Favorite Posts and Small Victories!

Mom's Small Victories
* Follow your hosts.
* Grab the Small Victories Sunday button and place it in your sidebar or the post you are linking up. * Share up to 3 of your favorite blog posts you want to share. Enter your link below and let’s celebrate our small victories together! Please refrain from linking up posts with mature themes like erotica, new adult or offensive language. * Please comment on the 2 posts ahead of you for every link you enter. This linkup only works if we support one another, your visits are crucial to fellow participants. * By linking up, you are giving the hosts permission to share your post and post images on their social media pages and our Featured Blogger collage. * By linking up, you are giving the hosts permission to email you notifications when the linkup is open. Your email addresses are not shared and you can unsubscribe to emails at any time. * Stop by our Small Victories Sunday Linkup Board on Pinterest and like and repin the posts to your boards. * Spread the word! The more you share about the linky, the more visitors you will get to your content too. Please use the #SmallVictoriesSundaylinkup hashtag so we can find your posts and share them too!
Be sure to follow our Small Victories Sunday Linkup Board and repin these great ideas to your Pinterest account!


#OutaboutNC: Discover North Carolina's Outer Banks

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Discover the Outer Banks
by #outaboutNC community contributor Karen Dawkins 

I moved to North Carolina in 2001, and somehow never made it to the Outer Banks. So, when Leigh asked if I could go there in her place on a sponsored media trip, I hesitated about 3 seconds before saying yes! (You know, I didn’t want to seem too eager.)

To be honest, my image of the Outer Banks was rather “Nights in Rodanthe” lots of sand dunes and remoteness, without much more. I know it’s a popular vacation destination, but I never considered it for my active family. I was so wrong!

If you’re like me, unaware of all that the Outer Banks has to offer, this article is for you. If you’re an Outer Banks expert, I think I might still surprise you with some things to do. Either way, read on — and please, let me know what you think.

Attractions on the Outer Banks

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands on the northeastern edge of North Carolina, truly has it all. The area has seen 500 years of history, from early colonial settlers to pirates and WWII. Atlantic waves make for great surfing, and the quieter waters of the sound side offer other water sports options.

1.    Artistic pursuits. Bring out your inner artist with a class at Studio 12, or shop one of the many independent art shops along the Outer Banks. Studio 12 offers to paint your own ceramics and glass making classes, as well as art for sale. Sun and sea inspire works in soothing blues and greens and bright designs reminiscent of the sun’s rays dancing on the waves. Pick up a piece of jewelry, wood pieces, painting or ceramics to remember your vacation.
2.    Active adventures. Try your hand at kiteboarding, SUP (stand up paddleboarding), surfing and kayaking. REAL Watersports, near Rodanthe, offers classes for beginners and rental equipment packages for those who need it. Other active adventures along the Outer Banks include fishing charters, off-roading in 4X4 vehicles (with permit), and hiking and biking the many trails here. Families traveling with younger kids might appreciate the offerings in Nags Head — especially with all the indoor opportunities to escape a rainy day!
3.    Historic tours. Before the Coast Guard, Life-Saving Stations along the Outer Banks rescued sailors who wrecked. The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, in Rodanthe — an easy drive from north or south — tells the story of these heroes. Chicamocomico has a well-deserved 5-star TripAdvisor rating — it was a highlight of my trip.
4.    Nature tours. The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Rodanthe, gives visitors an up-close look at birds, turtles and other animals indigenous to the area. During turtle nesting season, guests can cross the dunes to see where the nests are and learn about their plight for survival. The beach here is great for shelling, too, especially after storms.
5.    Lighthouse tours. Four active lighthouses still warn boaters of the dangers along the shores of the Outer Banks. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla is the northernmost lighthouse on the Outer Banks. Bodie Island Lighthouse is located at the north end of the Oregon Inlet. Visitors can climb it, weather permitting, between April and October. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton is the most well-known of the Outer Banks lighthouses. It is open to the public, weather permitting, from April to Columbus Day. Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse in Manteo is easily accessible and has a maritime history museum onsite.

Lodging on the Outer Banks

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

I was surprised to learn that the Outer Banks offers a variety of lodging choices, not just beach houses. Luxury inns, such as the Inn on Pamlico Sound in Buxton and the Sanderling Resort in Duck, cater to guests who want a high-end experience. More traditional hotel options can be found at the Breakwater Inn in Hatteras or at chain hotels closer to Nags Head. Throughout the Outer Banks, Bed and Breakfast lodging is available. Of course, beach houses — whether high-end mega-houses with all the bells and whistles or small cottages providing the necessary basics — are available from Corolla to Ocracoke.

To select the perfect lodging for your getaway, consider:

1.    The type of “home” you want — standalone vacation home or hotel with daily maid service.
2.    The length of travel — most beach houses expect a full week rental. Other lodging is available for shorter stays.
3.    The activities you want to do — stay nearby! Highway 12 is the main thoroughfare from north to south. If you choose lodging far from the activities you want, you’ll spend a lot of time in traffic! 

Dining on the Outer Banks

I knew flavorful, local seafood places would be plentiful at the Outer Banks, but the region offers a variety of restaurants to suit any palate and budget. Some places worth considering are:

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Karen learns how the "apple uglie" is made. 

1.    Orange Blossom Bakery in Buxton, open mornings, is home to the world famous “apple uglie,” an enormous apple fritter easily shared by 3 or 4, is a great place to get breakfast and cup of coffee.
2.    Diamond Shoals, also in Buxton, is a local restaurant with a great reputation. The servers are knowledgeable about each dish and make recommendations you can trust. Expect a wait, especially for breakfast and dinner.
3.    The chef at Breakwater Restaurant on the sound side of Hatteras, with great sunset views, will cook your fresh-caught seafood if you bring it in. Dessert here is incredible — we debated the whole trip whether the peanut butter-chocolate pie or the key lime pie was best. You can’t go wrong!
4.    All along the Outer Banks, specialty restaurants offer guests a memorable dining experience. Two standouts are the Cafe Pamlico in Buxton and Kimball’s Kitchen in Duck. Cafe Pamlico grows much of its produce on site and creates a menu to feature it. With indoor and outdoor dining, the restaurant creates an intimate, cozy atmosphere. Kimball’s Kitchen has a great menu. Insider tip: Get the Kimballs Kitchen brussels sprouts, even if you don’t normally like them. This is the most popular dish on the menu. You know they’re good when you tell your husband about them two days later!

Tips for traveling to the Outer Banks

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Peak season at the Outer Banks runs from June through September. April, May, and October are also popular months, but slightly less expensive. Visitors to the Outer Banks between November and March will find the greatest bargains — but many restaurants and activities are closed during this time.

Choose lodging where you want to be. Since Highway 12 is a two-lane road through much of the Outer Banks, traffic can get heavy.

Consider Manteo if you’re not a “beach bum.” While Roanoke Island and Manteo do not have the beaches, they are an easy drive away. Manteo is a larger town, so dining and shopping options are more plentiful and convenient. The area is also home to many museums, theatrical performances, and festivals.

No matter where you decide to stay in the Outer Banks, wake up early one day to catch a sunrise. Get dinner at restaurant overlooking the sound to enjoy the sunset. Walk the beach and gather seashells. “Nights in Rodanthe” captured it well, but seeing the nature in real life is so much better.

So, how did I do? Did I surprise you with all there is to do at the Outer Banks? Experts, did I leave out anything major that you consider a “must see”? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Family Adventure #outaboutnc guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks

Want to  Go:
Visit The Outer Banks Visitor's Website to get started.

About the author: Karen Dawkins is the creator and editor of Family Travels on a Budget, a site she started in 2012 to show families that careful planning and budgeting can make any vacation dream come true. She has also been featured in print and writes for a number of websites. She and her family reside in Clayton, a suburb of Raleigh, “close to everywhere on the east coast!” You can connect with her on Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook.

#outaboutnc Family Adventure Guide to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

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#OutaboutNC Guest Post: Wrightsville Beach Gets Honor for its Surfing Roots

Wrightsville Beach Recognized as Pioneer in East Coast Surfing
Highway marker to commemorate the origin of surfing in North Carolina over a century ago

Previously dubbed one of the top surfing towns in the world by National GeographicWrightsville Beach will soon be recognized as a “Pioneer in East Coast” surfing and the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina. To commemorate this historic milestone, a highway marker will soon be unveiled honoring the island’s surfing heritage since 1909. Read on to find out more about the history of surfing at Wrightsville Beach and how the coastal town has transformed itself into one of the most popular surfing hubs in the world today.

Long before Wrightsville Beach became known as a premier destination for watersports, Burke Haywood Bridgers first brought the sport to the island in 1909. A resident of Wrightsville Beach, Bridgers introduced his beloved pastime to the community after reading a magazine article about people practicing the sport in Hawaii. He began to build surfboards, organize surfers and promote surfing activities – founding the earliest verifiable surfing movement and community in North Carolina more than a century ago. This was also one the earliest appearances of surfboards in the Atlantic Ocean.

To commemorate Bridgers’ achievements and the role of Wrightsville Beach and North Carolina in the sport of surfing, the state is creating a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker that will be installed and unveiled October 18, 2015. The marker will highlight the active and walkable town of Wrightsville Beach as the “Pioneer in East Coast Surfing” and will stand at the intersection of Waynick Boulevard and Bridgers Street.

Present Day
As soon as you cross over the Intracoastal Waterway into Wrightsville Beach, there’s immediately a feeling of being in a surf town: vehicles and cyclists can be seen toting surfboards, people can be seen surfing and paddleboarding along the various waterways, while others frequently pop into one of the many surf shops for the latest surf styles and gear.

Today, it’s not uncommon to see surfers – both amateurs and experts – catching endless waves along the Wrightsville Beach coast. True to its island living vibe, Wrightsville Beach is very welcoming of anyone interested in trying a new watersport for the first time. With plenty of places to rent top-of-the-line equipment and take lessons with certified instructors, Wrightsville Beach prides itself on making its active lifestyle accessible to everyone. There’s even several surf camps available on the island that offer weekly instruction for all ages including kids, teens and adults.

Wrightsville Beach hosts major surfing events throughout the year, providing a great way for visitors and locals alike to experience and get involved in the exciting sport. Annual events include the O’Neill/Sweetwater Pro-Am Surf Fest, one of the largest surfing contests on the East Coast attracting surfers from around the world, and the Wrightsville Beach Wahine Classic, an all-female surf competition for all levels of competitors. Also, in 2014, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History added the Wrightsville Beach Waterman Hall of Fame as a permanent exhibit. Inductees of this prestigious group represent individuals who have made a positive impact to the island’s ever-growing watersport culture.

Story by: Wilmington and Beaches CVB, #OutaboutNC Contributor

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to learn about where to stay in North Carolina, and other hot rates and specials. We have one just for hotels and one specifically for North Carolina travel. You can sign up on my sidebar. 


Personal: I'm Done Chasing Perfect

I put on my pink rain boots during Hurricane Joaquin and got out of hibernation in my home (now that my children are in school, I'm becoming quite a hermit in my home because I love being home alone with no noise or distractions. Nothing pleases me more in my life right now than to be in my home) to attend a great conference in Raleigh sponsored by Vend Raleigh.

Motivational speaker and author, Lara Casey, was inspiring with her keynote address. VendRaleigh always puts on a good conference. She told us that we had to stop chasing perfection or it would run us into the ground. Her story is real. It hit home.

Lately, I've been beaten down. I'm tired.

Tired of what? You ask.

Well, I think the answer is simple after I heard her speak. I need to now refocus and reenergize. Isn't fall a time for renewal? Or is that spring? Regardless, the time is right now to make these changes.

I've tried to be a good parent. I've tried to be a good manager of our home. I've tried to be a good wife. I've tried to be a business owner who owns a blog. I've tried hard to be successful in everything that I do, but yet it, all of it has left me feeling exhausted and exasperated. Some may even say I am downright crabby, at times.  

Why? Because after hearing Lara speak at the #2015Illuminate conference, I realize I have been chasing the idea of being able to do it all. I haven't been growing my business instead, I've been spreading myself too thin. 

Being a stay-at-home parent has its own challenges, but owning and publishing a blog has a lot more behind the scenes to it than just writing a story and hitting publish. It's these behind the scenes things that are extremely important to the success of a blog that have run me into the ground.

It's the technical things like "alt-tags", "SEO',  and the need to do always do something different for impact such as change your  "share-a-holic" button so that your twitter handle can be seen if someone shares a post.  

There is always something new to read and learn. Managing social media for a blog can be a full-time, draining, "suck the life" out of you job, and it's a vicious cycle where you feel like you are on a hamster wheel.

If you devote too much time to these tasks then you have no time to write content for the blog.  As you try to manage your children and your household, a week goes by and you still have no new content.

Honestly, time goes by so quickly and you feel as if you have accomplished nothing in a day, or at least, that is how I feel. My to-do list gets longer, and the pitches for stories increase daily.  And there is one more important detail we must not forget. No one is paying me to write unless I have a sponsor or an advertiser. As bloggers, we are self-published. We don't get a salary to taste that new pink cocktail at 5 pm after a business day like someone who may work for a magazine. 

There is also a good chance that I would have to pay a sitter to even attend so now we're spending our money to go an event to taste that pretty new pink cocktail. I just can't do it all, and I just can't do it all and not make some type of profit. I don't think they teach you to work for free all the time in MBA school. I do not have my MBA, but thanks to VendRaleigh speaker, Belinda Briggs, it was affirmed to me that every smart business person needs to price for profit. 

I love the community that I have built around HinesSightBlog and OutaboutNC. I love talking to each of you on the social media platforms, but it is time for me to get back to finding my "why" and "purpose" for doing this blog. This blog is an extension of me and who I am. You either like what I talk about or you don't. I can't work like a dog to bring you to this space. And this blog will either grow on its own or not, but I can't drive myself into the ground trying to build it. People have to come because they want to be there.

As the founder of the #OutaboutNC community, I've now teamed up with the NC Blogger Network to develop and manage new blogger campaigns in N.C.  I am Campaign and Tourism Development Director. I will continue to be on social media, but I'm stopping my version of  "chasing perfect" today.

 I'm going to go back to the written words I said when I published my very first blog post.

"Some people may exercise, or eat a whole box of cookies to de-stress  Well, I'm going to write. I'll probably eat some cookies and exercise, too, but being able to write my thoughts and experiences help melt my tension away.  I don't care if I'm writing for my own entertainment and I'm the only reader.  I'm going to fantasize and pretend there are millions!!!  My goal is to write and share"

In the past four years, I was able to get beyond one reader, but I've spent so much time trying to market a blog that I've had no time to write.

As I approach my five-year-anniversary, I realize things have got to change. My purpose now is to nurture what we all have in common. I'm starting two newsletters, and instead of spending hours trying to pin posts, eight hours editing photo images, or beating Facebook insights, I'm going to focus on what I think I do personally do best. Storytelling, finding hotels, and finding good hotel packages where your money goes farther both in and outside of North Carolina.  It will be a very short newsletter with suggestions. Nothing fancy. Nothing wordy, but just straight good recommendations. Each newsletter technically has two audiences, and you can sign up on my sidebar to receive them. They will not be regular, maybe once a month in the beginning so don't worry about a lot of spam.

Newsletter One: HinesSight Hot Hotel Picks. This newsletter is for my travelers, and for people who want to know where to stay. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I am going to tell you where to stay in London, Greece, Asheville, Charlotte, Nashville, Richmond...you get the idea.

Newsletter Two: OutaboutNC. This newsletter will feature photos from our community and will focus on hospitality and tourism in North Carolina only.

Newsletter Three: Beauty and Healthy Living; This is for my lifestyle readers  and it will include Beautycounter specials, Young Living specials, recipes, tips and more.

Lara is right. Once you find out your "why am I doing this?" then you are living your life with purpose. When you "Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live On Purpose", the title of Lara's new book, you feel relieved, happy, and peaceful. 

I had lunch with this guy yesterday. My family is a priority. I wrote this to my personal facebook friends.

 I forgot how delightful my child is when he is just alone with no sibling and me. Great lunch at Cameron Village after his doctor's appointment and now back to school. Kids really do need time alone with their parent. I forget that way too often. I can always count on this one for a good lunch. He is just more expensive. No kids meal for him. He just devoured a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant. He told me he loved croissants and I told him we could soon fly to Paris...direct. Two peas in a pod conspire to spend Will Hines money in Paris.

I see a hotel post in Paris post coming up....

If you already subscribe to my posts, that won't change. I'm not going to stop blogging. I'll be here, but I'm finished with all the behind the scenes hoopla that goes along with it. You'll get every recipe, story or whatever is in the feed that publishes.  You will see that subscription under "Want my post by email." These new newsletters will not be information on this blog. You can sign up for those below.

Thanks. 2016 is going to be fun. I can't wait to start looking at hotels again. Hallelujah!

And P.S.  I did not edit or alt tag a single photo or prepare them for Pinterest or make a pinnable graphic in this post because I'm just done "chasing perfect" and just don't feel like doing SEO right now. OK?  Those who blog will certainly understand. I'm now taking that extra hour and exercising.

I may now find some time to read Lara's book.

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Seven Essential Oil Recipes to Diffuse to Replace Candles

I used to like to burn scented candles in the fall and winter. There is something about this time of year that makes me want to hibernate inside my home and take in pleasant aromas of nutmeg and pumpkin, Since I now own a diffuser, I rarely use candles now. Instead, I'm using my diffuser several times a day. The fresh scents in my home are now coming from essential oils. Here are seven great fall diffuser recipes I have discovered.

Bring Fall Into Your Home with these Diffuser Recipes

Seven fall diffuser recipes that give you the aroma of autumn and Thanksgiving with scents like Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Cider, and even fresh forest. Just a couple of drops of essential oils are needed. Let your home awaken your senses this fall without the fear of any toxins and allergens.

Essential oils have been a staple in high-end spas for years, and the use of essential oils have been very common in holistic family circles for quite a long time because of the oils therapeutic benefits to support overall wellness and health.  In today's world, the phrases "environmental-friendly, non-toxic and natural" are now huge buzz words for the mainstream population, including me.  We've been educated. We've read the research. We listened. Now, we are making changes in our lifestyle. I buy produce now from farmers via a local delivery service. I care about what I breathe and put into my body, and I care about what I give my children to put in their bodies. I care a lot more about them than me, honestly.

Young Living Essential Oils recently received a Better Business Bureau's A+ rating for its business practice, and I've been pleased with their seed to seal quality on the products I use regularly.

And yes, you can use essential oils that you buy at Whole Foods for these same recipes. It's just important that you know you are buying 100 percent therapeutic grade essential oils when you purchase so ask the clerk. Of course, I would love it if you purchased from me.  You can either do it at regular Young Living retail prices or at a basic membership price, which is always 24 percent off of retail prices. If you already own a diffuser or are only interested in wellness supplements then a basic membership for $45 may be the most economical. Once you are a member, there are no yearly renewals like at clubs like with BJs or Sam's Club. Members always receive 24 percent off prices, and there is a great Essential Rewards program where you earn free products back.

Enjoy Life Oils  with YL Member 2481355.

If you do not have a diffuser in your home or own any essential oils then I recommend the Premium Starter Kit with a diffuser and eleven oils, including the popular Thieves, Lemon, Lavender, Frankincense, Peppermint, Purification, RC, DiGize, PanAway, Copaiba, and Stress Away. 
($170 cost for $300 worth of products)  as the most economical way to get started as a member.

Seven fall diffuser recipes that give you the aroma of autumn and Thanksgiving with scents like Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Cider, and even fresh forest. Just a couple of drops of essential oils are needed. Let your home awaken your senses this fall without the fear of any toxins and allergens.

Once you order the starter kit then also order the Christmas Spirit essential oil at the same time. As
a thank you for ordering from me, I will send you a bottle of Clove Essential Oil as my gift to you.

Seven fall diffuser recipes that give you the aroma of autumn and Thanksgiving with scents like Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Cider, and even fresh forest. Just a couple of drops of essential oils are needed. Let your home awaken your senses this fall without the fear of any toxins and allergens.

 You will then be able to make the Thanksgiving Diffuser Recipe in time for the holiday. This offer is good until October 31, 2015.  It can take several weeks before a starter kit arrives after ordering so don't delay. 

EnjoyLifeOils.com has a great member Facebook page, and it's a great way to connect and learn about products.

Small Victories Sunday Linkup 


 At Small Victories Sunday Linkup, we celebrate all the good ideas our bloggers have to offer. Our co-hosts have been busy commenting, sharing and inviting the best bloggers to participate in our linkup.

This linkup is designed to share your BEST posts to inspire our fast growing community of readers. Share with us anything that will help others live a happier and healthier life. Sunday is the perfect day to reflect and celebrate the week that passed and look forward to the week ahead.

Ways You Can Follow Your Hosts:
Your Small Victories Sunday Linkup Hosts: Mom's Small Victories, Sunshine & Sippy Cups, The Mad Mommy, Frugal & Coupon Crazy, GeminiRed Creations, Keystrokes by Kimberly, Tidbits of Experience, Hines-Sight Blog, Simply Save, All Inspired Mom, Oh my Heartsie Girl, O Taste and See, Shandra White Harris & One Hoolie Mama! Tanya M from Mom's Small Victories (books, food, chronic illness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Meagan from Sunshine and Sippy Cups (lifestyle) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Echo from The Mad Mommy (family/parenting, humor)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Gail from Frugal & Coupon Crazy (saving money) | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google + 

Heather from GeminiRed Creations (crafts, handmade, small business) | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google +

Kimberly from Keystrokes by Kimberly (lifestyle, travel, entertainment) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Crystal from Tidbits of Experience (family, entertainment, books) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Leigh from Hines-Sight Blog (lifestyle, food, travel) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google + 

Heather from Simply Save (saving money, DIY, crafts) | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +

Tiffani from All Inspired Mom (family, crafts, planning)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Karren from Oh My Heartsie Girl (food, crafts/DIY, blogging tips)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Danita from O Taste and See Blog (food) |Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Google +

Shandra from With Heart Wide Open (life, faith, family)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Suzanna from One Hoolie Mama (family, recipes, fitness)| Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Featured Bloggers

Be sure to check out Mom's Small Victories to see the most popular posts from our linkup, but you all know I like to pick out a few posts that caught my eye. 

Last week, I ate in a the Raleigh French restaurant, Coquette, and the person I was with ordered mussels. I'm not sure I know how to eat a mussel much less cook one. As a result, this post from Adrenne of Reviews, Chews, and How-tos on How to Prepare Mussels interested me. She makes cooking them seem very easy. 

How to Prepare Mussels

Jenna of 24 Cottonwood Lane makes me want to get out the flour and Greek yogurt with Lemon Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins. 

Lemon Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

Be sure to check out the  Small Victories link up weekly.

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