Archives for June 2017

BlogHer 2017 Recap

Last weekend, I attended the mother of all blogging conferences: BlogHer 2017. Lucky for me, it was being held in Orlando, just a little over an hour away from me. I have always wanted to attend this conference, but plane tickets plus conference pass plus hotel was just not in the cards, so I was pumped when some of those things ended up being taken care of!

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I arrived on Thursday to the beautiful Hilton Bonnet Creek. I LOVE this hotel yall. It was my 3rd time staying here, and it was just as beautiful as ever.

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I had the opportunity to have snacks and drinks with some blogger friends and some of the marketing team at Bonnet Creek, and it was a great way to kick off the weekend!

Thursday afternoon was registration, and my roommates arrived just in time. We heard Chelsea Clinton speak, then got checked in. 

With 2500+ bloggers trying to check in, the line was super long so we waited awhile before doing so. I went to the expo by myself after this, and compare it to the first day of a runDisney expo–a little crazy!

Then it was time for the Princess Cruise event. They are rolling out new technology similar to a Disney Magic Band but way prettier and more advanced. You can tap a screen and it will tell you how to get to the pool with the fastest route considering traffic flow on the ship.

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I was pretty wiped out after that since I still had my cold, so I went to bed. The next morning we were up bright and early for the 7:30 newbie breakfast we had registered for. Imagine our surprise when we got downstairs and the line was well over 100 people long. We waited a few minutes then were told the breakfast was full to capacity and we would have to go to regular breakfast. Huh? We REGISTERED for this…why were they not checking names?! I was really irritated by this and it sadly wouldn’t be the last time this happened to people over the weekend. We got breakfast and headed in to the breakfast keynote, which was WAY more political than I was anticipating at a blog conference.

We then had our first breakout session, then lunch, then another breakout session. But let me backup. I was eating lunch with a Disney friend of mine, and he asked me if I wanted to meet Serena…Well, duh! So I ran off after him to the backstage area where we hung out for a few minutes before she took the stage. It was amazing! I was slightly starstruck and on a high the rest of the afternoon.

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I ran over to another special event with HP, and then back for the afternoon session. The session rooms were super crowded as they did not have enough chairs so I had to sit on the floor. Not a huge deal, but just thought planning would have been better for the amount of people there.

After this, we were on our own for dinner. There was an event that night my roommates and I decided to skip, and instead we ubered to Disney Springs for dinner and drinks and had a blast.

My food was very good and I will definitely be back again.

We had a happy hour I was invited to that we attended next, so we ubered to a different hotel for it and met some more great people, and had yummy drinks and snacks.

We were all tired after that so we got in our PJ’s, made some drinks and watched TV in bed. Adulting is hard.

The next morning we had to pack up all of our stuff since we were checking out of the hotel, so we brought it all to our cars before breakfast. We ate, had another keynote (Gabby Reece and Laurie Hernandez!) and then I had another special event called “speed dating”. I had 90 seconds to talk with 6 brands and see if they wanted to work with me. It was super nerve wracking but also fun.

I went back into the expo after that was over because I had some time before lunch. I grabbed a mashtini from Bob Evans (yum!) and met with a couple more brands.

After lunch I had a meeting with another brand, so I missed part of the keynote but came back to see Carla Hall and Cat Cora speak.

Then we went to our last session which was by far my favorite. I am implementing things I learned as we speak, and can’t wait to do more! I decided to not stay for the closing party so I could get back to Tampa and help my husband with Emma Kate, but I was also too worn out to stay up late then drive home.

I had a blast getting to know my roommates more and also meeting other bloggers and brands. That in itself was worth it to me.

So to recap BlogHer:

Things I loved: Meeting new bloggers, hanging out with my roommates, meeting with brands, a couple of the sessions and special events. The host hotel was amazing.

Things that were just OK: variety of food. At breakfast there was no protein which made me sad. Some of the sessions didn’t have space/seating and were more surface level teaching than I would have liked.

Things I didn’t like: Being turned away for an event I registered for. This happened again later in the weekend for a special movie screening some people attended as well. Way way way too much political talk. And it was very obviously one sided. Was not a fan. Teach me about blogging! teach me about networking!

Would I attend again. It depends. If it was in an easy to get to location and my friends were going as well as great brands/sponsors, I would go again. I would just skip some of the keynotes and things I know that I’m not going to be a fan of hearing.

If you have any questions let me know, I would be happy to try and answer.

 

Tampa Tuesdays: Social Media Day

Happy Tampa Tuesday! This Tuesday is especially great because I am going to be talking about something I love: social media.

Every year Tampa celebrates social media day with a big party on June 30th. Since I am new to Tampa, this is my first year to participate but I can’t wait to join in the festivities. I will be caravaning with other bloggers in a group sponsored by Reeves VW during the day stopping at different locations, and then meeting up with everyone for the party that night. If you live in Tampa and are involved in social media, come join in the fun! Here are some of the details:

Hashtag: #SMDayTampa

Order your tickets: HERE

The party kicks off at Ferg’s Live at 6:00 with donations going to the Gasparilla Music Festival.

There will be food, drinks, and a raffle! We will also be hanging out with some of the amazing sponsors. I am already loving my blogger swag! (I have already eaten the popcorn!)

  

Be sure to follow along on Instagram with me @HeathersLG during the day/caravan and that evening. I will be posting pics and videos via Instagram stories the whole time. I hope you will consider joining us at Ferg’s Live on the 30th!

 

5 Things Friday XXVIII

Happy Friday! It’s very happy for me indeed because I am in Orlando at Hilton Bonnet Creek at BlogHer! (well I guess that is actually #1 on my 5 things Friday list!) I am having a blast here with SO MANY BLOGGERS. It’s a little overwhelming but also fun. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HeathersLG for updates and Instagram stories.

2.) This Thursday I will be at the Port of Tampa for a press event with Carnival Cruise Lines as they have a special bon voyage celebration to mark a special occasion: the Carnival Paradise will be sailing to Havana, Cuba! They will also be creating the largest Cuban sandwich at sea. Here is a flashback to when I was on the Carnival Liberty with the largest cheeseburger at sea!

3.) The following day, the 30th, I will be a part of the blogger caravan for social media day Tampa! I’m so excited! We will be driving around town in VW beetles before the main event that night. More on this in a post next week so stay tuned!

4.) My mom and dad finally moved down here and are in their rental house while their new home is being built. It’s so weird having them “local” (well, 45 minutes away), but it’s great having their help so I am able to do some of these events/more often. We have never had my parents local (I haven’t lived near them since high school!) so this has been nice so far!

5.) We are in the middle of potty training with Emma Kate, and she is doing great! We aren’t “there” yet as we have to remind her a lot, but it’s nice to make progress. We want to be able to take her on a Disney cruise but you can’t go in the pool with swim diapers so it has spurred me on to get things moving. If you have any great tips (especially for getting her to do #2) let me hear em!

That’s it for this week! be sure to tune in to all the BlogHer17 fun buy following along with the #BlogHer17 hashtag.

QOTD: Have you sailed with Carnival before? What is your favorite ship? Any potty training tips? 

Tampa Tuesdays: New Menu Items at Hard Rock’s Council Oak

We were provided with a free meal to sample Council Oak’s new menu items as well as gift bags. However, all opinions are my own. 

On Bobby’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, we were invited to taste test some of the new menu items at Hard Rock Tampa’s Council Oak restaurant.

I had never had food from Council Oak, but heard so many good things that I couldn’t wait to try it out!

They had a huge buffet of items to sample set out for us, as well as five new cocktails that were being added to their menu. I don’t have photos of every menu item, but wanted to share some of our favorites from the night with you. Bobby loves seafood, so he was all over the calamari and lobster.

 

He also said the jumbo soft shell crab was excellent.

My favorite? By far, the ribeye. It was so tender and super juicy. I may or may not have had around six pieces of it! Normally I like my meat a little more cooked than this, but it tasted just right and had wonderful flavor. Highly recommended!

I think Bobby’s favorite dish of the night was the yellowtail snapper. He went back for more several times, and said it was one of the best he has ever had.

For appetizers, I really enjoyed the cobb salad, which is saying a lot considering I don’t eat a lot of salad. It had the perfect amount of crunch and great flavor without being too overwhelming.

The highlight of the night were the cocktails. We tried four out of the five. They are listed on the menu board in the second picture below, in order from left to right. The rose mojito on the left was very cool because it had a big “ball” ice cube in it with a small rose frozen in the middle. So unique! It had a light refreshing flavor I really enjoyed. My favorite drink was the pillow talk (third from the left). If you like sweeter drinks, this one is for you. Bobby liked the margarita best. It isn’t like your typical margarita, as it had a little bit of a spicy flavor to it instead of sweet. The raspberry drink was also good, but not as good to me as the pillow talk.

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We finished off the night with a delicious baked Alaska dessert which was phenomenal. You can check out all the offerings and more photos on the Hard Rock blog.

Overall we had a great night listening to music, eating, and hanging out with friends, and it just happened to be on Bobby’s birthday, so huge plus there. The Hard Rock did an excellent job coming up with this menu for Council Oak, and I think anyone who tries it out will be very pleased. Be sure to make your dinner reservations soon so you don’t miss out on these menu items!

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QOTD: What is your favorite summer alcoholic drink? Have you been to Council Oak? 

5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disclosure: I attended an expenses paid media trip with Walt Disney World. All opinions are my own.

When you stay on Disney property, you have so many choices on where to rest your head at night. That’s one thing I love about Disney—there is something for everyone. There is also something for every price range, which makes my heart happy because as if having a child wasn’t expensive enough, now I have to take her to Disney? HA! I’m getting off track. I had the privilege of touring Disney’s Art of Animation resort a few weeks ago on a press trip, and I kept saying to myself over and over “Emma Kate (my two year old) would LOVE this!” That being said, I wanted to give you five reasons to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with your family on your next vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.) Price: Art of Animation is considered a value resort by Disney categories, but it is what is called a “value plus” resort as it seems a bit of a step up from the other values in several ways (some which are bullet points in this post!) The grounds are spacious and beautiful with great Disney detail I have come to know and love, there are interior hallways, a great gift shop, food court, and more.

You can stay in a “family suite” (I know, the word suite makes me think of thousands of dollars a night!) for a decent price for a larger family. You still get all the perks of staying onsite like access to the Disney bus system, free magic bands, and access to daily extra magic hours, but for a fraction of the cost of some of the deluxe resorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Space options: Family suites were designed with larger families in mind that can’t fit in a regular value resort room (which sleeps 4). These babies sleep six, and there are three themes: Cars, Finding Nemo, and the Lion King. I’m fairly certain my two year old would flip out over any of these themes! There is a bedroom/bath combo with a queen bed, as well as a living room with fold out sofa bed, a table that turns into a bed, a kitchenette, and a second bathroom (HUGE plus!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Great food court: If I’m being honest, the food courts at the other value resorts don’t thrill me. However the food court at Art of Animation (called Landscape of Flavors), has taken things up a notch with delicious options like gelato, create your own pasta bowl, and many others. Not to mention it’s really beautiful inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Great pools: At value resorts, pools are pretty basic, but not here! Not only are there multiple ones to choose from, but the Finding Nemo pool has a splash pad area, and you can even hear music underwater! Be sure to stop by the bar, adorably named the drop off, for your favorite adult beverage to sip poolside, or grab a first come first serve cabana at the Cozy Cone Cars themed pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.) Life Size characters: Every little kid (ok and big kid, too) loves life sized Disney characters. Thankfully, there is no shortage of them at Art of Animation! Each themed area is scattered with your favorites like Mufasa, Tow Mater, and Prince Eric. (PS: there are standard sized resort rooms in the Little Mermaid section if you don’t want to stay in a family suite).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No matter your reason for staying, there is a lot to do and see at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Be sure to take a look at the options there on your next Disney vacation!

QOTD: Have you stayed at Art of Animation? What is your favorite Disney resort?

FRiYay Lessons with Disney Junior

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney Junior, however all opinions are my own.

In case you are new to my blog, I think it’s important for you to know that Disney is a HUGE part of our household. We live in Tampa, so fortunately we get to visit Disney World a lot. However, during times we can’t visit, we do the next best thing, which is watch Disney Junior show on TV! More specifically, we are loving the FRiYAY all NEW episodes that come on every Friday morning on Disney Channel!

Right now Emma Kate is really into Mickey and the Roadster Racers. She has always been a fan of the mouse, and I think her competitive nature is starting to come out (just like mom and dad!) so she really likes the racing aspect of the show. Me? I’m more of a princess girl but I know we have plenty of time for that!

Since my husband and I are both competitive and (admittedly) like to win, we connect with Mickey and the gang and their racing ways. It’s a fun show for both boys and girls who love Disney! We decided it would be fun to have some racing and games of our own at home, and thought up some fun outdoor activities for Emma Kate. However, daily rain in the forecast changed our plans so we had to get creative with indoor games. Fortunately it didn’t matter to Emma Kate, and she had a blast!

First we played a game to see who could throw the most balls into the basket.

 

Then we decided to see who could build the tallest tower out of blocks.

Lastly, we played a racing game, which was Emma Kate’s favorite. I gave her and her daddy a school bus and told them they had to push their bus down the hall and see who could get theirs to go the furthest.

 

She kept wanting to play again and again, and kept saying “I win” or “I lost”, so we explained to her that winning isn’t everything, that it’s about having fun, too and being with people you care about, just like in Mickey and the Roadster Racers when Goofy got to compete against his movie hero but ended up losing the competition. However, Goofy ends up gaining respect form the other racers and even the sponsor who has a special surprise for Goofy.

Want to know how you can watch these new episodes with your family? There are two places to look! First of all, The Disney Channel:  During the morning block (usually 6-10am), Disney Junior shows will air first on Disney Channel.  Usually new episodes will air here FIRST so tune in to catch the premiere! Check out the schedule below:

FRiYAY, 6/16 – Mickey and the Roadster Racers @ 8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 6/23 – Puppy Dog Pals @ 9a
FRiYAY, 6/30 – Sofia the First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor
FRiYAY, 7/7 – Back to back Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/14– Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey & The Roadster Racers and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/21 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Sofia The First and Elena of Avalor

FRiYAY, 7/28- Mickey & The Roadster Racers @8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY,  8/4 – Sofia the First @ 9am
FRiYAY, 8/11 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey and the Roadster Racers  and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 8/18 – Sofia The First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor

I hope you tune in on FRiYAY mornings on Disney Channel this summer and can catch the premiers of some of these great shows!

QOTD: In what ways do you teach your kids that winning isn’t everything? What is your favorite Disney Junior show?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.

Creating a Social Media Content Calendar + New E-Course News

I spend a lot of time on social media, talking about social media, and researching social media. A lot of people spend mindless hours each day copying and pasting, retweeting in real time, etc. Instead of doing this, I spend a larger chunk of time once a month (or week in some client cases) planning out a content calendar for my own blog and for my clients. That way I only have to do a little maintenance here and there throughout the month. Let’s take a look at my process:

content calendar

The first thing you need to do is get a calendar template. You can use a Google calendar, a free template in Microsoft word, whatever you like the most (heck, pen and paper is fine, too…well, I would use pencil because you will probably end up erasing things).

Once you have your template, it’s time to fill it out…But with what? This is where the researching comes in handy, but don’t worry, once you have done it a few times you will get a lot faster and will be able to skip most of this part. When I first started managing social for my clients, I had to learn about their niche or brand. So let’s say you are doing social media for a clothing boutique. You will need to research…

1.) The best hashtags to use (which periodically changes)

2.) Their competitors (see what is working for them and what’s not)

3.) The clothes they sell (who is the demographic? Are there certain brands or types that are selling better? What words and phrases would appeal to this demographic?)

4.) Which platforms you are using and what times of day perform better on each? (it may take a little trial and error for this one).

This front end research will make your scheduling and posting go much quicker later on down the road.

Ok, so you have your calendar and you have done your research, now you need to decide what types of posts you will be posting on your/your clients pages. These categories will help mix things up so your page isn’t just images or just text or just product information. For instance, some categories for a clothing store could be:

-product photos

-sale information

-videos

-question and answer

-FAQ

-news from the industry

-other people’s content you share/repost/retweet

-repurpose old content <—yes this is ok to do!

Be sure to mix things up! These categories will help you greatly when it comes to plugging in information into your scheduling tool. Like I said, you will get faster and faster each time!

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The next piece is to actually come up with the content, which should be easy since you already have your categories and have done your research. This piece may involve creating graphics, finding relevant content to link to, coming up with news or product info, taking pictures or videos, etc. Once you have your content figured out (I personally like to create one long word document with all of my social posts for a client), it’s time to plug it into your scheduling tool.

I personally use Sprout Social. It’s not cheap, but it makes my life easier and my work more efficient so I don’t mind the price. Then it’s just a matter of copying and pasting my posts into the scheduler and picking the times. I then transfer everything into the calendar so I can send it to my client (**Some clients require the exact links and words I am using, others are fine with just knowing what topic I am posting about on what channel/what day.)

GUESS WHAT? I am working on an e-course for those looking into becoming a social media manager as a full time gig or side hustle. I’m SUPER excited to share all I have learned with you, and help you get your first clients and start making money from home! My course isn’t quite ready yet, but you can sign up here to be notified when it is, and also get a FREE printable, a social media manger checklist printable. Just go here to sign up and download!

QOTD: have you ever thought about making money from home with a side hustle?

5 Things Friday XXVI

Hola! Happy Friday my friends. It’s literally been raining here for a week, so I think I may need an ark before long to get outside of my neighborhood! I hope you are having better weather than us, and I hope you had a good week! The past couple of weeks here have been super busy with events and such, so I thought I would do a 5 Things Friday event recap of all the fun I have been having.

1.) Biggest Cheeseburger at sea with Carnival: Recently I had the opportunity to board the Carnival Liberty for a fun press event where we witnessed the largest cheeseburger at sea, and even got to flip our own burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint. It was a blast!

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This burger had fifty pounds of toppings and 50 pounds of flour to make the bun. So crazy! 2017-05-25_10-54-12_513

2.) Food and Wine Conference Fun: At the end of May I spoke on a panel at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando. I love having so many conferences “close to home!” Anyway, it was great getting to meet some more local bloggers and make new friends, as well as learn new things. I also love speaking so that was fun, too! I did lots of stories and social media posts so hopefully you followed along.

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3.) Tampa Margarita Festival: I was invited to the Tampa Margarita Festival, and Bobby and I (who both love margaritas) used it as a fun date night. It was hot outside but everyone seemed to be having a great time. We didn’t stick around for the concert (Barenaked Ladies) because we had to go pick up Emma Kate, but we really love having fun local things to do on the weekends!

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4.) Tijuana Flats new summer menu: I had never even heard of this place until we moved here, but it is becoming one of my favorites. They have a great menu, and Bobby and I were invited to try out some of their new summer offerings last week, and everything was delicious! My favorites were the Bangin chicken tostadas and the the lime steak street tacos. Be sure to stop by your local restaurant and check out the new items!

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5.) BlogHer is quickly approaching: I have always wanted to go to BlogHer, and thanks to it being close by and to their generosity, I was able to make it happen this year. I am rooming with two friends from Tampa, and it just so happens to be at one of my favorite resorts, Hilton Bonnet Creek! The conference is June 22-24, so be sure to follow along then because of course I will be updating you all as I go!

QOTD: How is the weather where you are? Have you tried any new restaurants lately?

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Disclosure: I was hosted by Wyndham for my stay in their resort. However, all opinions are my own.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Bobby and I decided we wanted to take Emma Kate to her very first water park in Orlando. When Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive invited us to stay as their guests, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

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The best thing about this resort is that you can stay where you play. It is the official resort of I-Drive 360, and there is so much to see and do, many things within walking distance (Like the Orlando eye). It’s also only twelve miles from the airport, so you are literally close to everything. The resort also offers a complimentary shuttle to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld.

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I loved all the greenery and tropical plants surrounding the walkways and the pool areas. There are also plenty of dining options including a bar in the lobby and at the pool. The resort is also home to Gatorville, he poolside grill and bar.

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The rooms all have pillowtop mattresses, 40” flat screen tv’s and mini refrigerators. We were in a king room/family suite that included a separate area with bunk beds and another TV for the kids.

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I really love the idea of the bunk beds, I just wish there was a door or partition to close off this area from the rest of the room. Emma Kate LOVED the bunks though and hung out on the top one all evening.

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Another thing I liked is there is complimentary wifi at the resort. I was given a password upon check in and logging on was super easy.

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Also, there are TWO outdoor pools as well as a heated spa, and a renovated fitness center. The lounge chairs at the pool looked so nice and relaxing!

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This resort also boasts over 60,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two grand ballrooms, and a catering team ready to meet your wedding, party, or business needs.

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I wish we had more time to explore the area, as there were so many things within walking distance we could have done! There is the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, the 7D Dark ride adventure, and great restaurants and shopping like Tervis, Buffalo Wild Wings, and the Sugar Factory.

Probably the best thing about this resort is the price. Rates start at just $79 per night, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway, girls weekend, or business trip.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed here? What do you look for in a resort?

New Mizuno Wave Sky


Disclosure: This post about the new Wave Sky is sponsored by Mizuno through Fitfluential. All opinions are my own.

If you have been reading my blog lately, you know I have been struggling with a quad/knee injury that sidelined me for around 8-9 weeks. Not running was no fun, but I knew I needed to be extra careful when I did come back to the sport. When I was asked to try out the new Mizuno Wave Sky, I was pumped as the timing was when I was coming back from my injury, and I couldn’t help but think maybe some new shoes would help my knee to not hurt.

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Well, I was absolutely right. Not only has my knee not hurt running in these new shoes, but I feel like I am running on a springboard. There is just something about running in new shoes that makes me run taller and faster. However, after five runs in the Wave Sky, that feeling has not gone away with the cloudwave technology in these shoes.

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This is a neutral shoe, but it has plenty of cushioning, and as someone who prefers a wider toe box, I am happy to same my toes have not gone numb like that have in other shoes. I also really like the new thicker premium sock liner for a better, more comfortable fit.

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This shoe comes in three great combos for the women, and you can check them out here. I have a feeling I will wear these out really quickly and will need a new pair, I’m digging the pink and want to get those next time!

QOTD: What do you look for in a new shoe? Have you tried Mizuno running shoes before? What is your favorite color combo on the new wave sky?