Category Archives: MODERN FL MOM

Are Blog Retreats & Conferences Worth It for a Hyperlocal Blogger?

I’m not made of money. I know– I’m sure it’s an absolute shocker coming from a fellow Boca Raton resident. Especially with our town’s stellar reputation for financial success… 😉 But as a small business owner and mom of one, money tends to walk out the door quickly these days. Even though I 100% believe in investing in myself and my business, I have to be rather choosy about what events and conferences I attend on behalf of Modern Boca Mom. After all, I’m “just” a hyperlocal blogger.

A hyperlocal blogger with Palm Beach style… 😉

If you’re not familiar with the blogging world (and I certainly don’t expect you to be), there are tons of blog conference options out there for you to learn, grow and connect with potential sponsors. If you’re a blogger with a large or growing national audience, it definitely makes sense to find a conference or two in your niche (parenting, lifestyle, health, design, the list goes on…) to become more visible in your industry and increase your bottom line.

Carnival Paradise

But they cost money. And for me, my hyperlocal blogger audience is primarily Palm Beach and north Broward County moms. Some dads too. 🙂 I’m reaching about 30,000 parents per month. Meanwhile, some of my national counterparts are up in the 100k range (and bravo to them)! So, when I was invited to attend the recent Permission to Hustle Retreat aboard the Carnival Paradise, I had to pause and think about it. Because I have been to some conferences where unfortunately, there was zero ROI.

  1. Would I meet bloggers who would elevate me personally and professionally?
  2. Could I learn valuable strategies for my blog that I could apply locally?
  3. Would my blogging flame get re-ignited so I could hit the ground running in Q4?

Even though I wasn’t totally sure when I sent my conference fee in, the answer to all of the above ended up being a resounding YES.

Audrey & Vera, our PTH Retreat hosts and organizers

Permission to Hustle (or PTH) started out as a Facebook Group founded by two amazing influencers that I actually knew from my NYC PR days: Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeney. They are some of the blogging OG’s. Audrey and Vera have put lifestyle and mom blogging on the map and I (and many others) really look up to them. Their PTH Facebook group has grown and become an active resource for professional ladies in all different industries looking for support, a sounding board or sometimes, good ol’ fashion validation. It’s great!

This year, they wanted to take PTH on the road. That’s how the Permission to Hustle Retreat was born! With their cruising partner Carnival, 40 bloggers were able to deep dive into topics in a casual (but fun!), no pressure setting. I learned about Pinterest, SEO, pitching, affiliate marketing and social media. AND, I really asked the questions that matter to a hyperlocal blogger like me. I got answers! It was great and I can’t recommend this retreat enough.

Not to mention, we had a little fun with Carnival along the way…

The Carnival Paradise left from Tampa,FL and had a Western Caribbean itinerary stopping in Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

I managed to check off a few bucket list items on this trip:
  • Carnival invited our group to swim with the stingrays in Grand Cayman. It was my first time to the island AND swimming with these amazing creatures! We rode on this gorgeous catamaran to/from and enjoyed the gorgeous water. I was definitely nervous at first, but these creatures are absolutely amazing! So gentle and used to human life visiting them (and feeding them) each day.
Sunglasses gifted by Foster Grant
Photo credit: April Erhard
  • I visited Chichen Itza in Mexico! This marvelous piece of ancient Mayan architecture has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I loved every minute of this excursion (which I paid for myself). It was top notch. We had a fabulous tour guide and rode in a Mercedes Sprinter Van to/from the archaeological site. It was a bit of a journey from Cozumel, but I wouldn’t have spent my day any other way!

Not to mention, we enjoyed some of the Carnival Paradise’s on-board amenities:
  • The gym- I know, working out on “vacation”! But I was there to work. Plus, the views were great and the equipment/space was top notch. I read my book and got some cardio in at the same time!
  • The pool deck- need I say more? There’s even a Serenity Adult Only retreat, so you can spend some quiet time away from the kids on ship. Plus #cocktails.

  • Speaking of kids…I didn’t bring my family on this trip, but I think #dailybocaavery would definitely have enjoyed it because of the water slide…and Seuss at Sea! Kids are invited to enjoy an extra-special experience on the Carnival Paradise as the fantastical world of Dr. Seuss comes to life around them. There’s a special on-board character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, character breakfast featuring their favorite Dr. Seuss friends and more. We caught them setting up for it after dinner one night!

I came away from the 2018 Permission to Hustle Retreat renewed and ready to work. And, I’m so happy I can lean on my fellow attendees going forward. I think there was a special bonding that took place and this hyperlocal blogger can’t wait for the next one!


Revel in the St. Patrick’s Day Spirit with The Fresh Market

It’s that time of year again, to don the green attire and celebrate the luck of the Irish with a wee bit of tasty fun! To help its guests get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, The Fresh Market will offer samplings of Irish soda bread, Kerrygold Cheese, pretzels and more through March 17th!

For those looking to create a hearty Irish meal at home, The Fresh Market suggests its Irish Cottage Pie recipe. Traditionally topped with a thick layer of creamy mashed potatoes, the specialty grocer’s delicious recipe saves a few steps by topping the comforting casserole with thinly sliced potatoes and shredded cheese.

Fresh Market Irish Cottage Pie

Continue reading Revel in the St. Patrick’s Day Spirit with The Fresh Market

MOMpreneur Monday: April Golightly

MOMpreneur: n. defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.

Welcome to our latest installment of MOMpreneur Monday, highlighting Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow Mommas.

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

Today’s featured Modern Boca MOMpreneur is...April Castoro Erhard, founder of April Golightly in Boca Raton!

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom


Tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to start April Golightly

I practiced law for 5 years before leaving to work full-time on April Golightly. During my time working as an attorney, I craved a creative outlet where I could write about the things I was passionate about. Blogging was something that I started with pure passion and it was something fun to work on after being in court all day and spending late nights and weekends at the office. I never dreamed that it would become a full-time business with employees and huge brand contracts!

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

My last year practicing law was spent working part-time at home while I was pregnant with my daughter. I tried to quit my job, but my boss would not let me leave when I told him I was quitting to work on my blog. He kept me on part-time from home until my daughter was born. When my daughter was born, I became a full-time stay at home mom and blogger.

Luckily, my little daughter was a great napper! It gave me time to work on the blog while she took her 4 naps per day. My husband handled the evening feedings and bedtime, so I could work during that time too. It was a team effort and the blog would not be where it is today without my husband’s support.

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

What challenges have you faced since starting April Golightly?

April Golightly, as a business, started with a help of a friend and mentor who explained the business of blogging to me over lunch. I had known her for years while I was studying in Miami and found out she had quit her job to blog full-time. This blew my mind and I had to know more. I took her to lunch and she sent me home with a gameplan. That advice helped me make April Golightly into the thriving business it is today.

The one piece of advice that I wish I had taken right away was switching from a Fashion to Lifestyle blog. It took me several years to make this change. As much as I love fashion, it was challenging writing about only one topic.

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

What is truly unique about your blog and business?

I feel that April Golightly is a unique blog because it brings women everyday luxury that they crave. You can be an awesome mom to your kids, cook dinner and look fabulous at the same time. If I can do it, so can you. I want to give women the confidence to wear what they want, be a good mom, and live the luxurious life that we all dreamed we would. I feel like a lot of moms surrender their lives to their children (my mom was like that), letting life’s little luxuries go– beauty, fashion, travel and great food.

The lifestyle of April Golightly gives you permission to be a good mom and still enjoy the good things in life.

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

Why should MBMoms become your readers?

I adore Modern Boca Mom as a person and as a website and truly am a Modern Boca Mom! We live in Boca Raton and love it so much. Living in Boca helps make everyday luxury easy and we have so many great restaurants, hotels, spas, and the shopping is, of course, the best!

Also, the moms here are so sweet and welcoming that I want to get to know all of them! If more Modern Boca Moms became my readers, we would get to run into each other frequently around town. How cool would that be?

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

What new and exciting things are coming up for April Golightly?

This year, I’m working on producing more videos. I shot 5 videos over the holidays and will be rolling them out over the next few weeks. We are going to be focusing on creating easy-to-make recipes with detailed instructions, so you cannot mess it up!

Here is a tasty Buffalo Chicken Taco Recipe.  We are really working on easy recipes that can be made in one pot or pan, so you don’t have a ton of clean up. This means more time for fun things like spending time with family, makeup and fashion!

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

What do you love about living and working in South Florida?

South Florida is such a lovely place to live. It is fantastic being minutes from the best grocery stores and Town Center Mall. Dangerous, but fantastic for a shopper like me. 🙂 I have to mention the perfect weather and the expertly manicured landscaping. It makes me smile every day! The people here in Boca are so nice and they have embraced us. My daughter and I have a ton of friends and love spending time with family.


Follow April Golightly:

Website-April Golightly

Facebook-April Golightly

Instagram-April Golightly

Twitter-April Golightly

Pinterest-April Golightly


SUBSCRIBE to Modern Boca Mom here!

April Golightly on Modern Boca Mom

Hallmark Signature Cards for this Holiday Season & Beyond #NoOrdinaryCard

When I received samples of Hallmark Signature Cards this holiday season, I was so excited to see what the company, who is well known for exceptional quality and design, would bring to support their mission of #NoOrdinaryCard. 

Hallmark Signature Cards

I was blown away and impressed by the Hallmark Signature Cards to say the least!

Far from the ordinary card, these cards displayed traditional themes, original design and exquisite quality.

Hallmark Signature Cards

The varying colors and design elements draw you in and heartfelt notes give you the feeling of home and comfort within a card.

I would gladly give any of these Hallmark Signature Cards to my special someone and people in my life. From an elegant green jeweled design that would be perfect for my sweet grandma to the festive red bells that would bring a smile to my aunt’s face. These cards are #NoOrdinaryCard that everyone should be gifting this year.

Hallmark Signature Cards

These cards would be hands down the most memorable for you and your family. And, if you are in a pinch, you could grab one to dress up that last minute gift card and it would make a truly special gift!

Hallmark Signature Cards

To see more Hallmark Signature Cards, or to find out how to purchase them near you, go to: http://greetings.hallmark.com/holiday

Hallmark Signature Cards

Wishing the Happiest of Holidays (and card giving) to you and yours,
Shelby of The Sweet Hot Mess

Hosted: This post was hosted by Hallmark and Hallmark Signature Cards. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the host. Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information and details. I was given complimentary card samples for consideration in this review, but that does not impact my views or opinions.