Some months ago, I shared my excitement over having been selected as a finalist for Country Living's first-ever blogger awards. I wasn't really sure when the final winners were going to be announced, so after a week went by (and the butterflies finally subsided), I kind of placed the whole thing on the "Wouldn't That Be Awesome?" shelf in my mind, right between a lifetime supply of salted caramel gelato and finding out unicorns are real.
Then, the day of my birthday, as the hubs and I were on our way to lunch during our getaway to Hot Springs, I checked my email and saw the subject line: "Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards." I felt the air in my lungs dissipate as I opened it, and all I read was "Congratulations!" before I started squealing. And the hubs, being my best bud and just flat-out knowing me so well, said, "You got the award?!" Needless to say it was a memorable birthday. :)
Since then I've been keeping the news as quiet as I could, as the magazine politely asked if we would postpone announcing anything before they had the chance. So for a little over a month I've been sitting on this, and yesterday was such a relief getting to share the joy of it with the other winners, as well as meeting the judges and some amazingly hospitable staff from Country Living. And when I say hospitable, I mean above and beyond. Yes, I know it sounds like a PR plug since they just granted me an award, but I say this genuinely; I was very impressed with their thoughtfulness and effort.
They flew me in to New York on Wednesday morning, where a car sporting a sign with my name (that's right) picked me up. The driver then dropped me off in Mid-Manhattan at the Dream Hotel, which is right near the Theater District (Broadway is literally around the corner). And when I checked in, I got a sweet surprise...
Two ridiculously delicious cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery along with a note from Christine Rannazzisi, the associate publisher of marketing and the one who conceived of the awards. I'm going to let you in on my less-glamorous side and tell you that the chocolate cupcake didn't last more than five minutes thanks to a really early flight, no breakfast and a rumbling stomach. I really did mean to wait for the hubs to arrive before I demolished it...honest. :)
Then yesterday afternoon, all the winners were invited to a luncheon and awards ceremony at the Hearst Tower (every journalism girl's dream!). The building is truly amazing. You walk in through the shell of the original Hearst building, then you get inside and see the new tower that they built in the middle of the old...
|The upstairs lobby. The brown part is the old building.|
|Love the mixture of modern & vintage.|
After checking in, the hubs and I hopped into the elevator, where this little welcome popped up...
We exited... (yes, there is even a photo for that...)
And we were greeted by Anna Ballard, who was so sweet. She made sure to introduce all the bloggers to each other and help facilitate conversation, which is great for me because I get super shy in crowds where I don't know anyone...so don't ever put me in front of a microphone. I mean it...okay?
We were served champagne and got to mix and mingle for a while. The view from the 44th floor was amazing...
Then we sat down to an amazing lunch, of which I snapped zero photos (sorry), but the hubs got one of the table...
Then it was time for the awards! Sarah Gray Miller got up and said a few words, then passed the presentation over to Cooper Boone, one of the judges and such a warm (and hilarious) guy. He called us up one at a time and said a few words about our blog, gave us big ol' bear hug and then we got these adorable blue ribbons in a cloche (is it bad that I'm super excited about the cloche?).
|Yikes! Sun was shining right on me...I mean, I'm pale, but not that pale.|
After that it was more mingling and photos...
|Me in front of the PR background.|
|Me with Sarah Gray Miller (eek!).|
|And all the winners!.|
I think all of us relished the opportunity to talk with Sarah, who told us we should go to the Good Housekeeping offices to check out the test kitchens/rooms and this really neat timeline where they talk about some important moments in the magazine's history through actual objects (think old products, cookbooks, etc.). Mehdi Ziani, coordinator extraordinaire who managed to get us all to New York and/or the luncheon in a seamless fashion, took us down there and then gave us a little tour of the CL office (thank you Mehdi!).
Sarah also mentioned that she loves to thrift, so I asked her for some recommendations since the hubs and I are extending our stay until Sunday. I went to a couple after the luncheon (I even navigated the subway on my own...certainly a milestone in my life, right?) and bought one thing to bring home as a token of this trip. But photos of all that, and the Good Housekeeping tour, will just have to wait until I post next week about the rest of our time in New York!
Until then, congratulations to my fellow winners. Be sure and hop over to their blogs and see what these amazing ladies are up to:
Rachel over at Always a Project
Wendy over at The Shabby Nest
Sydney over at Crepes of Wrath
Linda over at Garden Betty
Aimee over at Crafty Farm Girl
Melissa over at Tilly's Nest
And thank you to the judges and the CL staff for your time and effort in bringing these awards together. It was a special day. :)