New Mexico has launched a new $2 million campaign to bring visitors to the state. Using the slogan “New Mexico True” it aims to draw in visitors seeking adventure activities. However, there has been some criticism that the as primarily focus is on the northern part of the state where the more popular Albuquerque and Santa Fe are located.

What about Las Cruces?

As the second largest city in the state, Las Cruces is a vibrant home to more than 23,000 New Mexico State University students and is an agricultural center for the production of pecans and chile peppers. It is located in Doña Ana County, just about an hour from El Paso International Airport.
Agriculture aside, there are several things to do in Las Cruces, especially for outdoorsy types.

Hiking abounds with several locations around the city serving as starting points for afternoon treks. Dripping Springs has an easy trail perfect for families and a few interesting sites including historical structures dating back to the early 1900s. Aguirre Springs is another trail that starts out with a spectacular, curvy drive through the Organ Mountains and offers several shaded picnic areas. Camping is also allowed here. Both provide vast vistas of New Mexico landscape.

If more interested in “the local scene” then visit the award-winning farmers market, located on the newly renovated Main Street. Las Cruces Farmers Market draws in over 100 vendors each week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Crafts, plants, jewelry, and national curiosities such as petrified wood are some of the items available for sale. A local favorite is Osito’s Raspberry Habanero Biscochitos, a sweet shortbread cookie sprinkled with sugar that packs a surprising heat. (They are seriously good – but not for the faint of heart. A few East Coast family members got a little teary eyed when the heat was released.) Look for the Osito’s food truck on Saturdays. The Farmer Market is open Wednesdays & Saturdays, 8 AM -12:30 PM during the summer and 9 AM – 1:30 PM during the winter.

Though not as sweet, but easily as pleasing is a trip to the White Sands National Monument. Located 52 miles east of Las Cruces, just on the other side of the Organ Mountains, White Sands is a break-taking natural wonder. With 275 miles of desert covered in gypsum dunes, it is home to guided moon-lit tours, camp grounds, a balloon festival, a film festival, and a favorite in winter for those missing snow: sledding. Sleds are, surprisingly, available for rent or purchase in the gift shop for sleigh-riding down the dunes.

If visiting New Mexico, Las Cruces has unique sites and delectable local cuisine that will please any party.

Where to Stay

There are several options for lodging in Las Cruces with many of the national chains. However, Hotel Encanto is one that provides a little more of the local culture. Decorated in a Spanish Mission-style, the lobby is decked out in cool Mexican tile and chunky wooden furniture. It is centrally located with easy access to popular destinations. When booking, ask for a room facing the city for nice view of Mesilla Valley at night (Ok, just look past the mall – the lights are just beyond it and are quite pretty). The hotel is located at 705 South Telshor Boulevard in Las Cruces.

Where to Eat

Paisano Café, located in Mesilla, serves up creative Latin-inspired dishes unlike anywhere else in town. Try the Mole Verde o Pipian, a toasted pumpkin seed and tomatillo mole sauce with a hint of hoja santa (root beer plant) or the Caper Tequila Lime Shrimp Fettuccine. Though they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is worth visiting for dinner to try one of the best tomatillo salsas available anywhere. The Paisano Café is located at 1740 Calle de Mercado in Mesilla.

A Few Other Fun Things to Do

If three things aren’t enough to whet your appetite, here are a few others:

  • Visit historic Mesilla for shopping and adobe architecture
  • Go for dinner at Double Eagle and ask them to tell you the history of the supposedly haunted building
  • Watch the sunset along the Las Cruces Dam (there is no water, just a ridge that offers an excellent walk transversing town – and if you need motivation, there is a Starbucks on either end.)
  • Visit for the Day of the Dead Festival, The Whole Enchilada Festival, or Salsa Festival
  • Get a guided tour of the Farm & Ranch Museum to learn about New Mexico’s farming, ranching and rural life

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When planning a trip to Belize, most people are faced with a tough decision. Do they head to the beach and linger by the water for the week, or do they trek to the jungle for adventure-filled days? However, there is another solution that offers equal parts sand and stone (for the Mayan ruins). For the indecisive, this is the ideal scenario.

The Sand and Stone package is jointly offered by Victoria House, located on the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye, and Ka’ana Boutique Resort (a Small Luxury Hotels of the World), nestled in the jungle of San Ignacio, just a few miles from the Guatemala border.

For those who want the adventure part of the trip first so second half is about relaxation, then Ka’ana provides pick-up service from Belize International Airport. The adventure begins with a two-hour drive with the driver pointing out the small villages of Spanish Lookout, Georgeville, and Teakeattle, while sharing the history of Belize, which has an eclectic mix of Mayan, Mestizo, Garifuna, Mennonites, and Chinese populations.

Excursions to the impressive Mayan ruins of Caracol (full day trip) or Xunantunich (1/2 day trip) are easily arranged by the front desk. For the true adventure seeking, caving, cave tubing, and zip-lining are all available.

When enough heart-pumping activity has been had, a quick 15-minute flight from Belize City will take you to Ambergris Caye, where Victoria House is located on a stretch of white powder beach, diligently raked each morning by the grounds crew.  Swaying in a hammock, shaded by palm trees, with a drink in hand is the quintessential afternoon here, though many come to snorkel or scuba at the famous Blue Hole.

This tiny country has something for everyone, and the Sand and Stone package offers a perfect taste. As they like to say, “You better Belize it!

It seems like the topic of balancing family and work (especially from the prospective of successful females entrepreneurs) is coming up more and more. Today, Inc ran this article by HappyFamily CEO Shazi Visram on the work/life balancing act. I like her used of mathematical equations to showcase the challenge here. It really does come down to this: your family and children aren’t going away so how are you going to balance everything?

I like Shazi’s advice:

1. ask for help

2. schedule one hour a week for myself

3. prioritize

Not living anywhere remotely near friends or family, “Asking For Help” was the one I had the most trouble with after first becoming a mother. I often have to rely on help from “strangers” or paid help. While there have been some great people that have come into our lives (and some questionable ones), it is also an adjustment in our family budget, having to account for a babysitter each and every time we need someone to watch our son.

For #2 – I actually have a folder on my iPhone I’ve named “Sanity.” It consists of two icons: Starbucks and a Fitness app. These are two things that keep me a calm, functioning human being. So, if I don’t get to get my latte (which, for me means a chance to escape from my home office for a little while and see other human beings face-to-face for a while), and I don’t get to go to Pilates and move around after sitting in an office chair for hours on end, then it is just not working for me. I make it a point to get to my Pilates class at least twice a week, and can occasionally squeeze in a third class.

Prioritize – this is essential. And becoming a parent, you find that some decisions are made for you, like having to reschedule a work call because your child gets sick. But, since time is a precious resource, it should be help onto closely – and this can be a good thing especially in the marketing services business, because maybe that means that maybe you only take on the projects that are the best fit for you, or that you have the most interest in. I like to prioritize by making a list for what needs to get done today and I use a whiteboard to schedule the bigger picture of what needs to happen over the course of a week or longer.

There are a number of things I could add but here’s a quick list – because time’s ticking and I do need to move on 🙂

  1. Learn to say no – this is one I have a hard time with, but it is a huge time-saver. Maybe now is not the right time to join so-and-so committee, or attend this-or-that event. Saying “No” frees up a lot of time and you’ll realize how much of a time-suck low-value things are.
  2. Get organized, and if its not in your nature, get the help of a professional organizer at least once – having systems in place of where you keep documents, files, recipients, contracts, forms, bank statements, important documents, etc. will save hours of searching for when you need to find that one thing. And it keeps the papers off your desk so you can have a clear place to focus on your work.
  3. Make time to laugh a few minutes a day – whether its a quick text message or email or Facebook post between siblings, friends, etc. – it helps break up the day and keep your non-work, non-kids relationships strong.

And now, back to work!

Reinventing oneself is a funny thing. There are so many reasons why reinvention takes place, regardless of whether it is personal or business. Sometimes it is out of necessity – a brand’s sales get stale because the competition is more exciting. Sometimes it is opportunistic, like a move to a new city where you know no one. The need to reinvent can even come out of boredom, like having the same hairdo for 15 years. It is just time for a change. (Yes, I recently cut bangs for the first time since 1998…)

So, when I was redesigning the Sinuate Media website, I decided to play around with some new logo concepts to see if it was time for our logo to push the limits and add some vigor to this reinvigoration. Plus, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Photoshop recently doing logo design for clients and have started to get some ideas going for myself. It is a great feeling when you get the design right and all the pieces come together harmoniously.

Here is what I came up with:

Sinuate Media’s Current Logo – In use since 2008. Designed by a design shop in Pennsylvania. The tagline “Organic Marketing” is too hard to read when 300 pixels wide or smaller, so it is often used without the tagline at all. The font of “Sinuate” was supposed to be organic in nature while “Media” font was supposed to represent our connection to technology.

Concept 1 – A complete departure. Experimenting with a new color scheme. No tagline in this version. I not really a fan of square logos since they tend to fit poorly into web design (though great for social media profiles). I like fonts a lot here and the colorful pinwheel.

Concept 2 – Straight and to the point. The simplest concept. Softer edges, easier to read than our current logo. Font seems Web 2.0-ish.

Concept 3 – Drops “Media”. A bit of a snoozefest.

Concept 4 – Same font as #2. Simple yet incorporating our tagline, a leaf icon, and the green/blue color scheme.

Whether or not any of these concepts will be chosen as the new face of Sinuate Media, it is good to take into account every once in a while how your brand stands up to the changing times. It doesn’t matter if you are your own brand or if you are talking about a brand in the traditional sense.

Change can be difficult and we get complacent with routine. But just because those pair of old, holey sweat pants are comfortable, doesn’t mean the rest of the world wants to see you wearing them to the grocery store. The same goes for outdated logos, websites, business cards, and other branding pieces.

Technology, especially in the web / internet / social media space changes at a rapid pace and it is important to review of your branding (especially digital branding) once a year to see if any updates, upgrades, or other necessary “ups” are needed.

For the better half of the last 15 months, balancing babies and business has been at the forefront of my mind. When I started my digital marketing business, Sinuate Media, at 24 years old, I have to admit that babies were a little on my mind. At the time, I thought it would be easier to run my own business so that when the day came that I had children, I would be the master of my own schedule and be able to gracefully juggle the two.

So, fast forward 5 years (almost to the exact day incorporated my business), I had my first baby. And, I felt like my master plan was in serious jeopardy.

Taking care of a baby was hard, but nothing prepared me for how difficult it was to take care of a baby at the same time as a business. Added to the effort, it wasn’t just business as usual. I was on overdrive trying to heal the wounds the recession left on the business and sustain a cross-country move at the same time.

And while all signs were pointing to this being a fruitless effort, I had to carry on. I hate quitting. Sometimes to a fault.

I went to an all-girls high school where we were fiercely encouraged to succeed. We were even given many tools to do so–leadership, a spirit of giving back to the community, and enough leash to explore your interests. But never once did we ever have the conversation about how to continue to succeed in business after the babies arrive. It was a conversation that I sorely wished I had had with someone–anyone.

At many points, I questioned, how can a women who owns a small business, have a family and still grow that small business into a large, successful business. And then I read articles like this one on, and I can see a game plan unfold. It’s a fuzzy image, but those types of articles are encouraging.

Yesterday, while in Barnes & Noble, I was paging through a book about women achieving success in their careers, and just as I was about to put the book down, I came across a quote in the chapter about Motherhood that I found amusing:

“Show me a women who doesn’t feel guilt and I’ll show you a man.”

Upon which, I shared it with my husband who informed me that he does feel guilt about working too long and not being able to spend more time with our son. Point taken. So, the gist is that even if you find a good balance between work and time for your kids, there is still this underlying feeling that the amount of time spent with either is never enough.

Finding the right balance is going to be a messy experience that is going to take a lot of times to get right. Just like potty training.