capability mom

Post BlogHer Post

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Well, I am back from a whirlwind weekend away at the blogging conference that is BlogHer and I haven’t written until now. It takes a lot of work to step out of our lives for even a little while, and while it is easier for me than for a mom with young ones, it was still challenging. I had (first time) sleep away camp to prep for (she packed herself while I was away – well, with help from Dad) and only forgot one thing which I actually had in the car. By the seat of my pants, I tell you.

Here is the thing, I started this post days ago and have hesitated to hit publish because I wasn’t expressing the over-riding feeling I have had from BlogHer. Gratitude. Exhaustion and Gratitude.

Sometimes I have a gratitude problem. It is true. Many of us do. It is easy to criticize, to correct, to suggest ways to improve on something (and I have plenty of suggestions for the organizers, if they care to ask), but here is the main takeaway:

I am lucky that I could go – it is an expensive trip and lucky that my family is supportive.

I learned things (about blogs, social media, conferences, expectations, how to present myself, how to give an elevator pitch).

I met interesting, kind and generous people willing to share their knowledge and experience at the sessions, on the expo floor, in a cab, in a restaurant. Everywhere.

I got to travel in a Blogher Bound bus (Thank you, McDonald’s) to an exciting place that I love and don’t get to often enough.

I won prizes. What? Prizes, you say? Yes. Prizes. Like what? Let me say that as a Blogher newbie, I didn’t even know there would be prizes. I had heard about the swag but really had no idea that it was anything and certainly not why I went.

But, what did I win? A $100 Best Buy gift certificate. I was walking down from the suites on the 42nd floor (TMobile, Hershey’s) because the elevators were so very busy when I got the call and I didn’t realize the expo floor was closing. By the time I got there, the super nice rep from Best Buy was alone in the almost empty hall waiting for me to claim my prize. So nice! Above and beyond, Best Buy! Thank you!

I also won a folding bicycle (a very sweet ride from Gotham Bike) from the lovely people at Advil for taking part in their scavenger hunt. It is really cool and I can’t wait for it to get here! I’ll take my own pictures when it arrives, and I think it has already been claimed by my children.

I got a ride with McDonald’s on their bus bound for BlogHer and learned more about them, and that was really nice. Thank you, McDonald’s.

More, yes, there is more. A $25 Pet Smart Gift card, and some Lysol products. bags, pens, notepads and zip drives. Am I done? Kind of. The stuff wasn’t why I went to Blogher but it’s what I tally when I get back. That and the stack of business cards I am still puzzling over (I did not write on them as I was advised to do. Next time I will).

I met people from Newton, Needham, Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, California and Canada. I enjoyed every conversation and meeting. I had two breakfasts on Friday, the one for newbies and one with McDonald’s. Here is a link to Honest and Truly blog and a transcript of the Question & Answer session at breakfast. I got a recharge massage at TMobile (their tech stuff is awesome).

I went to Getting Gorgeous, had my hair straightened (thank you, GG and CVS, and I love my Extracare card) and it held up in the humidity, and have some more great stuff there. Okay, I’ll share! Super cute dark wash boot leg jeans from Coldwater Creek that make me look smaller than I am, a pair of gorgeous shoes from Naturalizer, and a gift card from Diet Pepsi! There is more but I think that may be another post.

So…Blogher in NYC. Huge. Overwhelming. Loud. Crowded. Busy. Both the city and the conference, so imagine them combined. I like the chaos for a while (as the oldest of five, it is my natural state of being) but then I need a break which I took in the form of a run through Central Park on Saturday morning.central park imagine strwaberry fields nyc manhattan capability mom blog

It was wonderful to connect with bloggers from Boston Parent Bloggers some I met for the first time on the BlogHer Bound bus. We had plenty of laughs (especially at the rest area where seven other buses stopped at the same time, yes, I said seven) and we got to know a little bit about each other, and found out we shared some connections other than blogging (even though that would have been enough). I had a Martha’s Vineyard connection with one super nice, grounded blogger and learned about more about Kegels than I ever thought I would know), talked to another BPB Blogger who is running the Falmouth Road Race to benefit the Melanoma Foundation of New England (something I am into, too) and I met someone who is funnier than I am (it is rare because I think I’m really funny – ask my family).

Once we got there, it was super crowded and chaotic. The elevators were jammed and it didn’t help that FFaNY was in the building (all the rooms on our floor were shoe showrooms except for ours and one across the hall). What a confluence that could have been. Women with sore feet and 14 stories above people selling shoes. Next time, FFaNY, bring shoes to sell. Seriously. Twitter was full of people looking for other shoes because they only packed cute heels.

But I digress. The conference proper is kind of hard to tease out of the side events. While it was great to meet so many people with a shared interest in blogging, writing and playing nicely with social media, it it does seem like it should be easier to find and schedule things.

One of the sessions was so overcrowded (so great that so many people wanted to learn about turning posts into published essays) that I stood against a wall trying to find enough air to breathe, never mind trying to take notes. I think PhD in Parenting was there,too, but couldn’t confirm. That was my main celebrity sighting* and I’m not even sure it was her. I may have been lightheaded from lack of air.

As always, NYC is a great destination and there could never be enough city love time. I wish that some events were “off campus”, as in not in the Hilton (as nice as it is). It is a shame to not explore such a fabulous city.

Pragmatic Mom and I found a great local restaurant (Thank you, Hilton concierge) and had a wonderful dinner where we met some lovely shoe people from FFaNY. We may even have a shoe giveaway with them – Stay tuned!

Best things about BlogHer? The people, the sessions (although they need a better system), the location (more recess time needed if you are in the city), and the sponsors are interesting and varied, which is always good. I saw Advil, Clorox, Lysol, CVS, Verizon, Best Buy, Disney Jr, Poise, Dannon, Samsung and so many more. I’ll go into it later or this will be the longest post ever.

I liked connecting with people, brands, bloggers, seeing new things, learning something new (so like Martha), trying something new, and sharing it all. Did I love every minute? No, I am no Pollyanna. Some things were size and location related, some easy fixes, some more complicated. If you really want to know, comment below! I promise to share and even over share!

*Correction – I did get to see Jeannie Mai, host of The Style Network’s “How Do I Look?” She looked great. I was in a button down and a pencil skirt. Ehh.

Lest this post makes it sound like I was careening hither and yon getting swag, I was not. I went through the Expo Hall and stopped at booths where I engaged in a dialogue with brand representatives and happened to get lucky. I found great new finds and will write about them when I sort through the bag of note and paper…too much paper!

May Day…as in the first of May, not Mayday as in help…

although some days I do need an assist, this is about the celebration of May Day. No, not all the political worker stuff but the pagan celebration – that’s more my thing.

Photo: Wendell T. Webber

A friend is putting together a May Day Breakfast for our walking group tomorrow and I am making blueberry muffins from the Flour cookbook. No, they won’t be as good as Joanne Chang’s – no matter how closely I follow the recipe – that woman is magic – but I did a trial run yesterday with blackberries and the muffins were delicious (if I do say so myself) and I can make the batter today and bake tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know how they come out -I used fresh blackberries but wanted wild blueberries so I bought frozen packages at Trader Joe’s.

Here is the recipe – and yes, I did not have creme fraiche on hand yesterday and used Greek yogurt (is Joanne Chang reading this and freaking out? Sorry! Now I have three containers of creme fraiche in the house and ready to bake it the way you intended it!)

Blueberry Muffins

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (it calls for kosher – use it if you have it)

2 eggs plus 1 yolk

1 1/4 sticks butter, melted (I melted in in microwave and let cool slightly before mixing with the other ingredients)

1 cup milk (okay, I had 1% but bought whole for next batch)

1 cup creme fraiche (no idea yet how many containers this will be – bought three – thought two would be slightly under – yes, I do not do conversions so I have no idea and evidently guessing is risky in baking).

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup frozen raspberries (I used a handful of blackberries – some people in my family like their muffins berry-freeGreat recipe for picky eaters.)

1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and then add the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and fold gently using a spatula.

Fold in the berries gently. The batter is a little lumpy but don’t worry.

Spoon into the muffin tin to fill the cups.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the muffin tops are golden brown and let cool for 20 minutes before removing the muffins from the pans.

Now I am off to make a Martha Stewart craft for May Day. You probably have everything already, too. Paper, ribbon and flowers from your garden. I have left over paper from a project, ribbon that I am compelled to save (Every holiday my mom calls out, “Save the ribbon!” Now I have to. It’s that ingrained now.) There are some decorative scissors somewhere in the house but don’t stress that detail. You aren’t really Martha, after all.

 

Photo: Wendell T. Webber

Flower Cones by Martha Stewart

 

 

 

Dennis Lehane, Mitchell Zuckoff and a room of 250 women…

Mostly women, anyway. It’s true…there were a few men but mostly women as usual. A room full of book loving, library supporting women. Everyone was in spring finery but with a touch of wool – it is New England, after all.


It was the 28th annual Book and Author luncheon – yesterday. It was, as always, one of my favorite events. Both Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff were personable, engaging and funny. Mitchell Zuckoff gave a slide presentation (he even brought his own A/V equipment – got to love that) which had us on the edge of our seats which was a precarious place to be because we were also laughing so hard – Caution!  Falling library ladies!

Not to be outdone, Dennis Lehane took the stage and charmed the room as well. He is a consummate storyteller and shared how he became one (with a special shout out to libraries) as well as some great stories. What a treat! With books for sale from New England Mobile Book Fair, a nicely presented lunch, (the chicken was good, the salmon looked okay but I heard the veggie plate needs work) and the authors generously staying to sign every last copy, it was a lovely day. The staff of The Newton Marriott is always wonderful and it has been newly renovated and looks fresh and bright.

Put it on your calendar for next year – This is a not to be missed event!mitchell zuckoff, dennis leahane and a room full of 250 women

It’s the 28th Annual Friends of the Newton Free Library Book and Author Luncheon at the newly renovated Boston-Newton Marriott Hotel. Both Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff will speak (a definite treat) and sign books after lunch (which is always delicious), really. So don’t say you weren’t invited. It evens ends at 2:45 so Moms can make pick up at school. Grab your book group and join us – it is a really nice event.

The Friends of the Newton Free Library invite you to attend

The 28th Annual

Book and Author Luncheon

 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cash Bar 11:00 am

Luncheon 12:00 pm

Speakers and Book Signing will follow the luncheon

Newton Marriott Hotel Ballroom

2345 Commonwealth Avenue

Newton, MA

 

The Friends of the Library are proud to present Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff at the 28th Book and Author Luncheon.

Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. Since his first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award, he has published eight more novels with William Morrow & Co. that have been translated into more than 30 languages and become international bestsellers: Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile. Morrow also published Coronado, a collection of five stories and the play, “Coronado” which has received stage productions in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Genoa, Italy. Three of his novels – Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone and Shutter Island – have been adapted into award-winning films.

Mr. Lehane and his wife, Angie, divide their time between the West Coast of Florida and Boston.


Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. He is the author of Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II. Published in April 2011, the book spent more than two months on The New York Times’ bestseller list and was named one of the Best Books of 2011 by Amazon.com, Salon.com, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, Entertainment Weekly, Apple’s iBookstore, Kirkus Reviews and others.

His previous books are: Robert Altman: The Oral Biography; Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, and Choosing Naia: A Family’s Journey. He is co-author of Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders. His magazine work has appeared in The New Yorker, Fortune, and other national and regional publications.

Zuckoff is a former special projects reporter for The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. He received the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Livingston Award for International Reporting, the Heywood Broun Award, and the Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award, among other national honors. He has won the 2012 Winship/PEN New England Award for Nonfiction

He received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri, where he was an O.O. McIntyre Fellow, and was a Batten Fellow at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. A native of New York, he lives in Newton, Mass., with his wife, Boston Globe photographer Suzanne Kreiter, and their two daughters.

Contact Us: bookandauthor@newtonfreelibrary.net | (617) 213 – 0428

 

iUpdated Post – 5/12/12

Really Easy Last Minute Gifts (that don’t look like it) – Day 12 and best cookies on the planet

You are stuck for some last minute gifts and your present cabinet is looking pretty bare. What do you do? Bake. Really there are some really nice simple (and quick) recipes. Grab some sweet paper or containers at Target, The Paper Source, Christmas Tree Shops…where ever you can find it.

I head over to Martha Stewart or to Smitten Kitchen or The Whisk Kid for fail-proof recipes. I also like to give tea with my cookies – you can keep it casual but nice, too.

Recently I got distracted and instead of writing made-over my linen closet the Martha way and put together a car caddy – yes, a car caddy. Then in a very un-Martha-like way, the water I had in my caddy leaked all over my carefully prepared perfect tote. Yes, I dried it all out and re-assembled it and it is a little less precious now. Sort of like me.

Here are some of my favorites from Martha, and yes, if it is okay to mention this… she follows me on Twitter! Yes, she does! I was so thrilled when I found out (I told only about sixty million people but was afraid that if I wrote about it she may unfollow me and what then? Sigh, I will have a Martha-less Twitter-stream) and she tweets herself in case you don’t easy candy recipes and stocking stuffers from Martha Stewart on capability mom think so – go here…@MarthaStewart on Twitter. Why does Martha Stewart care what I tweet? Maybe she doesn’t but I wrote about The Whisk Kid who she had on her Color Show last year (of course, Martha probably found her first but I wrote about her first – whee!) Martha should stay tuned for my sister’s handmade wrapping paper – Yes, where is that paper, K?

Candy Recipes from Martha Stewart

Here are paper cones with gingerbread caramels (For an unMartha-like cheat: you can make the cones – any paper will do – and put in store bought sweets). Honestly, none of the recipes are hard. Peppermint bark is a three ingredient sweet that even the busiest mom or most nervous baker (no baking – just melting and cooling required!)

We all know a real-life Martha – you know, the one who is always put together and who hosts a cookie swap effortlessly while also chairing the PTO fundraiser and bakes dreamy home-made confections that make you weep, or, at the very least, not want to share what she bakes? No? You always share? That’s nice…Well, we all have our Martha moments but some have it more than others.

A friend, who we will call KB (she was a ballet dancer and is lovely, graceful, willow-y and she bakes like a dream) gave me this recipe after the following exchange was repeated to her (laughingly, by me).

Me to then 7 year old daughter, “Honey, Let’s go bake cookies together because your mom makes the best cookies on the planet”

7 year old daughter to me, having just recently tasted the cookies from the recipe below, said quite seriously, “No, Mom, KB makes the best cookies on the planet.”

Here you go – You will thank me later!

KB’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies heretofore known as The Best Cookies on the Planet

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz, bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz
Photo Credit - David Lebovitz

Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth (you can also put in glass microwave safe bowl and start with one minute in the microwave – increase time by 30 seconds intervals until melted). Remove from over water, cool to lukewarm.

Stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. Beat eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla in large bowl until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. (Note: Start beating eggs AFTER chocolate is melted because it takes about 16-20 minutes for chocolate to cool to lukewarm). Fold in melted chocolate. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions.

Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about one hour. Can be made one day ahead. cover, chill.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets. Shape dough by scant 2 tablespoonfuls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack and cookies are just firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

I have loved working with Pragmatic Mom on these posts – go see her last minute gift ideas here. Her make your own labels are as beautiful and easy to do as promised! Incredible! She is always fun and has great ideas, in fact, it was her idea to do this together which is really a Christmas present to me because she has a ton of daily readers and she shared my stuff with them – so nice – in real life and in virtual world. Thank, Pragmatic Mom – I look forward to more co-posting (like co-hosting but better) with you again soon!

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags


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