I think this is probably the hardest post I've ever written. I'm overwhelmed by the past few incredible days I've had and it's hard to sum up an amazing experience in just a few words!
If you recall, awhile back I was notified by Country Living that my blog had been nominated and chosen as a finalist in the 2012 Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards. I was so honored and excited but never dreamed I would actually be chosen as a winner. When I was notified last month that I was selected as the judges' pick for the best lifestyle blog, I could truly hardly believe it. I'm pretty sure there was some jumping around followed by, "Oh my goodness, what am I going to DO?"
I've never been away from Rosetta longer than just a few hours, so the thought of leaving my girls for a few days was terrifying. But I am so thankful for my mom, who reassured me that this was a once in a lifetime experience and she would take care of the girls and they would be just fine. The amazing part? She was right... they had a fabulous time with my parents and my husband and I had an absolutely amazing time visiting New York City just the two us.
I took so many pictures of our time there, but I think I'm going to start with the awards and work my way back in another blog post!
Country Living is located in the Hearst Tower in Manhattan. It's a gorgeous building 46 stories high and was the first "green" building in the city.
First on our agenda for the day was a tour of the Country Living offices. As we stepped off the elevator, I could hardly believe I was there. Oh yes, there were many butterflies in my stomach!
I didn't realize until recently that Good Housekeeping is a sister company to Country Living. (We actually got to tour the Good Houskeeping Research Institute, which was fascinating... I'll share it in another post!)
After the tour, we got to meet with Rust-Oleum, the sponsor of the awards. I'm so anxious to try out some of their products I learned about.
Then it was time to head up to the 44th floor, where the award luncheon was being held. Isn't it just beautiful? Country Living put so much effort into this lunch... they were all warm, welcoming and gracious. I was so honored to be there.
The guests began trickling in. It was definitely a surreal moment.
Here is a picture of the amazing view of Central Park and the city from the 44th floor.
The photographer was sweet enough to offer to take a photo of my husband, Justus, and I. I am so glad he was there with me!
Funny side note here. Prior to the event, I took a trip to our nearest shopping mall to try and find the "perfect" outfit. Shopping for clothes for myself is not something I particularly enjoy, so after two hours of nothing, I was about ready to give up (especially since my husband and girls were following me around). That's when my hubby came to my rescue and suggested that maybe I would just be comfortable being "myself". Which meant I went to a Country Living event wearing my Justin cowboy boots and a dress from Target!
Here is a photo of the winners... it was so wonderful to meet them! (From left to right: KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms, Katrina of Made by Katrina, Stephen and Michelle of Gourmandistan and myself)
I love this picture of us laughing with the judges (Jodi Kahn, Cooper Boone and Brent Ridge) before taking a series of more "serious" shots.
A final group shot of us with the lovely ladies from Rust-Oleum.
The tables were set so beautifully... the flower arrangements were stunning.
The seating was assigned, which I imagine was not an easy thing. One of my favorite things about the lunch was visiting with everyone at our table... every one of them were so sweet and a real pleasure to meet. (I wish I had thought to take a photo...)
The awards ceremony began with an introduction by Kassie Means, the publisher. (Unfortunately, Sarah Gray Miller was not able to attend.) Later, with dessert, Cooper Boone handed out our blue ribbons and also said some wonderful things about each of our blogs. I wish I could remember word-for-word what was said, but it was absolutely touching.
Oh, the food! It was incredible. This was the main course, which was every bit as delicious as it looks!
And finally, a last picture of Cooper Boone and I, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to.
It was an amazing day and I'm so glad I can share it with you!
I would not have been there if it was not for those who believed in my blog. I started my blog at a time when I needed a little outlet... it reminded me of my many blessings at a time I needed the reminder. I had no idea of all that would come from sharing a few things on my mind or something we had going on that day. Since then I've been inspired, I've made some wonderful friendships, I've discovered a love of photography, and I still enjoy writing as much today as I did in the beginning.
Thank you, friends, for reading and always for your sweet encouragement. And thank you, Country Living, for a truly amazing day and experience. It was such an honor!