martha stewart

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!

I am a Blogher Newbie

Why Being  Blogher Newbie is a Good Thing

Not only a Blogher Newbie, but a blogging conference newbie (I have a feeling that this conference is so large that  it wouldn’t matter). I am very lucky to have landed in a group of generous, sharing bloggers in the Boston Parent Bloggers.  This incredibly supportive group is kind and helps with anything from favorite plug-ins to how to manage the behemoth* (the second definition) that is Blogher ’12 with their sage advice and kind, calming words.

I did spend a bit of time trying to find clothes that make me look like a slightly nicer version of my usual self (really, you should see how I go out to walk the dog). I tend to over-pack anyway, so imagine how I pack if I am trying to look nice. I am also traveling with neighbor and blogging friend, and consummate under-packer (it is a skill), Pragmatic Mom. It is actually primarily her fault that I even have a blog. Ask her, she will verify this.

I also chose this week to tweak my header image, tagline and title. Sure, good timing. I also played (mostly nicely) with plug-ins, and considered a new theme (wisely I am holding off). I also cleaned the house, co-hosted a party (actually we called it MINoBBot – Mothers In Need of a Bracing Beverage or Two), had two lovely house guests,  cleaned most of the house and, of course, the usual other stuff I do, including a lovely Blogger Luncheon at MGHfC (Mass General Hospital for Children). There I learned about the wonderful facility and staff ( fantastic, dedicated staff, knowledgeable and caring) and met a fellow Martha fan (who agreed to sit with me during Friday’s lunch – Martha is our Keynote Speaker)! ! The always fantastic Katie Couric is the Keynote Speaker for Saturday. We are so lucky to have such an incredible roster of speakers (I can’t even begin to name all the speakers for the break-out sessions) and, not to put him last, and with all due respect, President Obama is speaking via satellite on Thursday. Wow.

Do I sound overwhelmed? I am, a little. I love visiting NYC and the energy and inspiration I get from visiting this dynamic city. I have read the twitter streams, the facebook updates, the emails, the invitations, the non-invitations, the sponsor updates, read the blog posts and I have chosen my sessions although did not know you had to sign up for Geek Bar until it was booked up and am shut out. Oh, well. I will get my geek on, anyway, I always do.

fenway park, sharon schindler photography, capability mom blog
Photo credit: Sharon Schindler

I am excited to meet new people, connect with virtual friends in real life, learn as much as I can to continue to improve (in SEO, writing skills, blog design, making a media kit, (the list goes on), get inspired and share it all here.

For the next few days, instead of driving carpool and making lunches, I will step out of my normal routine and I will be at Blogher ’12 – tweeting, sharing on Facebook and hunching over my iPad with the cool stylus I found at Blik (a favorite art store) and connecting with a bunch of people who probably care more about my header saga than my family does (the glazed looks were the giveaway).

Conversation with teen child after I showed her the crayon/stylus. “Aren’t I cool?” I believe I asked, knowing I had a cool item in hand.

” Mom, you have cool things” was the response. Noted.

This is what I look like at a cool place. There will be more pics of me at another cool place- Blogher ’12!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Behemoth be·he·moth/biˈhēməTH/ Noun:

1. A huge or monstrous creature.

2. Something enormous, esp. a big and powerful organization.

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

 

 

 

You are looking for good gift ideas…here is the best one yet – Christmas in the City

Christmas In The CityChristmas in the City is going on now – Sunday, December 18. You can still make a donation here.

Today I started to read the Globe as I do each morning, and was brought up short. Brian McGrory’s column on Christmas In The City made me fly into action mode (those who know me knows that means to stand back). Here I am, writing about great gifts to buy for your father or father-in-law (admittedly, no small feat) and there is something much more pressing at hand. Go read about it here, I will wait.

You’re back? Good. All money raised goes to the event which is a winter wonderland for homeless children and their families and it is run entirely by volunteers. This is an amazing undertaking that should have huge corporate sponsors. Target? Martha Stewart? Macy’s?

So,Dad/Papa,  you are buying a toy for a homeless child for Christmas. You are welcome. I know you don’t really need a putter or another scarf or something gadget-y. You are all set. So I am taking what I would have spent on your gift  (Mom’s too) and spending it here at Christmas In The City. I’ll make you a certificate.

You want to help, too?

There are several ways to donate toys, online or at one of our drop-off locations.

To purchase toys online, click here to view Christmas in the City’s Wishlist at Amazon.com
Purchases on our Amazon wishlist will automatically be shipped to our headquarters.

Click here to view Christmas in the City’s official Suggested Toy List for 2011

If you would like to personally drop off your gift, please visit one of our drop-off locations:

Headquarters
Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy
45 Franklin Street
Boston
617-542-6611

Seaport Hotel – free valet service
Seaport District

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Braintree
25 Braintree Hill Office Park
Braintree
781-848-7300

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Needham
150 A Street
Needham
781-444-1644

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Watertown
311 Arsenal  Street
Watertown
617-924-5100

Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy Cohasset/Scituate
828 Chief Justice Cushing Highway
Cohasset
781-383-8001

Stevie’s Eatery – Marlborough
222 L. East Main Street
Post Road Plaza
508-460-3352

 

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