Feature

The East Bay Blogosphere

From a family that plays together to complaining about Rhode Island, the East Bay has a blogger for everything.

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Four local bloggers dish on their passions, and why they continue to share them.

The East Bay Blogosphere: Playing All the Way

Nicole Estrella maps out how to play for families

This article is part of our East Bay Bloggers series. Where bloggers dish on their passions, and why they continue to share them.

The Blog: Playing All The Way
Creator: Nicole Estrella
About: Affordable and fun family adventures
Based In: Rehoboth

Nicole, the creator of the family adventure blog Playing All The Way, firmly believes that families that play together stay together. For the mother of three, play is central to how she and her husband raise their family. Growing up for her was chaotic. She felt unsafe, which meant that play was out of the question. She yearned for a family that made memories together through shared experiences.

Nicole promised herself that when she had her own family, she would provide them with what she did not have. However, she didn’t expect to be raising a family on very little money. Regardless of having to run an extremely tight financial ship, she set out to accomplish her goals. Nicole started by researching local attractions – like parks, zoos and museums – that had grant funding. Eventually, she found a way to access almost everything at no cost. “Before I created the website I was just sharing what I loved to do on Facebook,” Nicole says. “I was making memories with my kids and sharing it. I guess it inspired people.”

In 2013 she created Playing All The Way as a way to share the many resources available throughout the community that she discovered. “I have a passion to foster happy and healthy families,” says Nicole. “I posted how to play for free. I wanted a site where people could possibly change their lives and their families.”

At this point she’s done almost everything locally at little to no cost: Battleship Cove, Herreshoff Seamanship Program, Audubon Society of RI Environmental Education Center, Blithewold Mansion, Coggeshall Farm, Newport Skating Center and Newport International Polo. As her kids have gotten older, their adventures are more extreme and have moved beyond the East Bay. They’ve found deals and worked with agencies to go to Six Flags, Disney World, Boston Harbor Cruises and Ramblewild.

In addition to sharing resources with families, she’s also been able to start a small non-profit called Play It Forward. Play It Forward sends one low income family per month to play at one of the fun attractions that she has promoted. “I’ve had people say ‘because of your blog I was able to take my family to this zoo.’ That makes me happy,” she says. “If the blog creates one happy memory for one child I have succeeded. Every kid deserves a childhood.” 

The East Bay Blogosphere: Mom Generations

These East Bayers give perspectives on motherhood from three different women

This article is part of our East Bay Bloggers series. Where bloggers dish on their passions, and why they continue to share them.

The Blog: Mom Generations
Creators: Jane Govednik, Audrey McClelland and Sharon Couto
About: Motherhood across generations
Based In: Bristol

The mommy blogosphere is saturated. There are blogs written by stay-at-home moms, working moms, single moms, two-mommy households. What is rare, however, is a mom blog that crosses generations. Mom Generations does just that with two sisters, Jane Govednik and Audrey McClelland, and their mother, Sharon Couto.

By the time Audrey was pregnant with her third child in early 2007, she had started following mom blogs. Audrey, Jane and Sharon thought it would be a great time to start a blog together – Pink & Blues – with Sharon being the grandmother voice, Audrey the newish mom voice, and Jane the dog mom/aunt voice. “I've always loved the camaraderie in the mom world,” Jane says. “Many moms just want to share the highs and lows of motherhood with each other. They want to ask questions, vent, laugh and cry together on this journey no one can really prepare you for.”

In 2008 they shifted the focus of their blog and renamed it Mom Generations. It’s evolved to include conversations about food, fashion, recipes, husbands, housekeeping and work outside the home. It continues to evolve as well. For example, Audrey, has gone on to become a go-to mom for major companies who want to connect with moms through fashion and household products. Also, Sharon’s discovered a cache of other blogging grandmothers and has made lifelong friends. In 2008 she started running, something she had never done before, and shared her experiences. She dubbed it “a senior citizen’s leap of faith into this new arena.” Since the start of that journey, she’s run dozens of races. Another piece of the blog that Sharon never anticipated is writing about caregiving for her 91-year-old mom (who now lives nearby at an assisted living facility in Bristol).

The blog has allowed them to connect with other moms locally, some of whom blog themselves, and others who just like to follow and share with other local moms. That allowed them to form an extension of the blog, Rhody Mamas, which is a Facebook group where they share local events, deals, discounts and promos.

“Readers have experienced weddings, babies, pets coming into families, and the sadness of people and pets passing. Readers have come to know our personalities,” explains Sharon. “Audrey is Audrey, Jane is Jane and I am me: Three women with the extraordinary tie of love, but each with distinct personalities and a great well of respect and love for each other, too.” 

The East Bay Blogosphere: RIprobz

These bloggers are the things we love to complain about in Rhode Island

This article is part of our East Bay Bloggers series. Where bloggers dish on their passions, and why they continue to share them.

The Blog: RIprobz
Creators: Erin Meehan and Russell Chiulli
About: All the beloved quirks of Little Rhody
Based In: Barrington

Is there really another state more proud of its quirks than RI? We get our hot wieners all the way and our iced coffee year round. Our mouths water at the sight of coffee milk and Del’s on a hot day. It was only a matter of time until someone used the right platform to share all that is right in RI with the world. Enter Twitter account RIprobz, started by Erin Meehan and Russell Chiulli. In just over five years they’ve amassed a following of over 88,000 people – a number that continues to grow.

When Erin was away at college in Williamsport, PA in 2011, she was the only Rhode Islander on campus. She had to constantly explain words like “wicked,” why she called a shopping cart a carriage (because that’s what it’s called) or why she had a bottle of coffee syrup in her room. Her response? The Twitter account called RIprobz that she started with her boyfriend Russell. It calls out, highlights and pokes fun at all things Little Rhody. Things like, “Is it possible to have a construction project in RI that doesn’t fall behind schedule and go over budget???? #No #RIprobz” or “Rhode Islanders stop at the sign of the lemon instead of at actual stop signs. #RIprobz” and “Damn it’s cold! *orders iced coffee anyway* #RIprobz.”

RIprobz captures the essence of what it is to be a Rhode Islander. She thinks their Twitter feed has done so well because of that authenticity. “We thought that it would be a great idea to share our thoughts about Rhode Island with not only Rhode Islanders but with whoever wanted to learn more about our little state,” she says. “We hope to show people that even if you come from small towns, you can create something that will influence the masses and hopefully make them laugh. It’s okay to poke fun at your own state.”

She never thought it would catch on like it has, and is surprised at the success. The account has helped them connect with their community. Their followers share ideas with them, and let her know about events in the area that make sense for them to get involved in. The account has also connected them far beyond the East Bay because models, professional athletes and local and national celebrities who understand what it’s like to grow up in Rhode Island follow and interact with them. She understands that you can take the person out of Rhode Island, but you can’t ever take the Rhode Island out of the person.

The East Bay Blogosphere: Newport Stylephile

Andrea McHugh shows your best way to stay stylish in Newport

This article is part of our East Bay Bloggers series. Where bloggers dish on their passions, and why they continue to share them.

The Blog: Newport Stylephile
Creator: Andrea McHugh
About: Living your best Newport life
Based In: Newport

Like many folks who visit Newport, Andrea felt and immediate connection with the City by the Sea. Back in 2001 she was visiting from Washington DC with her then boyfriend, now husband, for his grandmother’s 80th birthday. Unexpectedly they made Newport their home six months later, and she fell in love with everything that embodied the Newport lifestyle: swimming for hours at Second Beach, sipping a sunset cocktail, riding a scooter along Ocean Drive, supporting community programs and nonprofits, sailing on a 12-meter yacht that won the America’s Cup and, of course, dressing in the Newport style. 

Andrea was so enamored with the style that she launched Newport Stylephile in 2009. It’s a lifestyle blog covering everything from where to shop and what’s on trend to where to sip on that sunset cocktail (or how to make that cocktail at home). It’s her way of connecting with the many people who can’t get enough of that Newport vibe.

She’s also regularly contributed to this very magazine, its sister publications and The Rhode Show since starting her blog. On air she showcases many of her finds from local shops like current looks and trends. Andrea makes attaining the Newport look easy breezy. “It’s crisp white pants paired with a French boat neck top boasting navy nautical stripes,” she says. “It’s sipping a Dark n’ Stormy on a hot summer day overlooking the sea… It’s embracing the salt water spray that dots your ensemble  from an afternoon sail spent perched on the bow of a boat and asking, ‘Is there anywhere else in the world I’d rather be?’ (The answer, of course, is no.)”