Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lessons Learned This Weekend

In the Kitchen

You can cook by candlelight as long as the stove, oven and refrigerator aren't on the mysterious circuit that blew in the middle of making dinner and refuses to come back on.

Two trays of lasagna are put together. One is in the oven, the other is waiting its turn. I'm patting myself on the back for making a dish ahead of time for the week--and there's even another one to go in the freezer for next week or the week after.

(I wouldn't normally show you a photo so blurry, but I was taking it by candlelight and my tripod was in the car. You can see my dilemma.)

So I'll remember later, one box of noodles is enough for two trays. You need two large containers of ricotta, one and half large bottles of sauce (come on, I didn't have any lights in my kitchen!) or three regular sized bottles, two pounds of ground meat and one package of mild italian sausage and one HUGE bag of shredded mozarella.

There are so many incredible websites out there with recipes that could keep me cooking for the rest of my life. This site was one I found this week. I'm gonna try the bread pudding from this post first.


Shooting babies is hard.

Even a giant picture window and turning all the lights on in the room aren't going to give you the light you need to shoot without a flash (and a bunch of post-processing) on a rainy day.

My friend was so kind to allow me to practice on her gorgeous six month old yesterday. Little Faye has this incredible red, curly hair and the chubbiest cheeks.

You can get enough light to shoot outside on a rainy day as long as you have covered place to shoot.

Can you believe the eyes on this one?

And him? The youngest of four and a personality to make sure he doesn't go unnoticed.

Another terrific friend threatened me if I didn't come shoot her kids was willing to let me take some shots of her kids so I could do some portfolio building.


There might be a link between perfectionism and shame. I don't know what it is yet, but I've downloaded I Thought it was Just Me because of the cool read along project the author set up on her blog.

I've long known that I've missed out on exciting adventures in my life because I was too afraid of failure. When I noticed that same trait emerging in one of my sons recently I wanted to find out how to beat back the beast. I so want for my boys to live lives filled with adventure.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maybe You Haven't Seen Me

Conventional wisdom among blogging gurus is the key to a successful blog is finding your niche and concentrating on that.

What if you don't have a niche? Would I have more readers if I did? Am I writing for readers? Is this blog about me or you the reader?

When I talk to people about social media I too stress the importance of putting out information that is not about you, but about them. Now I'd argue that can be done in different ways. What I mean when I say it is don't just tweet links back to your blog or RT what others have said (though RTs are a sign of good citizenship), but take part in a conversation--or start one.

The emphasis here is on the social part of media.

Social, to me, is about community and conversation and sharing of ideas. It's about having a discussion rather than spamming each other so that neither of us hears what the other is saying. I'd argue that our world would be a much better place if this happened more often.

So what does this have to do with what I put out on my blog?

Well I clearly don't have a niche. I write about my kids (but not only them), I share some of my photographs (but I'm not a photo blogger), there is the infrequent insertion of politics (I live in DC after all), when a cool offer comes along I like to share that too (but you're not coming here for coupon codes). And then there are the days I tell you a little something about me (but do you really know who I am?). I like to make you laugh. I feel like I owe you that--or at least a grin--for lending me your eyes, but I'm no Jenny.

So who am I here? Why am I here? Why do I put out my words for all the world to see, and why do I like it when people are compelled to add their thoughts to my own?

I think I like to know that I'm not the only one. Sure I'd love to be an original, but I like to know too that my life resonates with yours.

That's the "social" in social media to me.

I've been subscribing to new blogs left and right lately. I'm adding disparate sites that speak to me, to who I am right now. I've subscribed to Scientific American, m. writes, design crush, zen habits and the fat girl's guide just to name a few.

Pretty varied that group--sort of like my posts.

I want you to see me. I want to be honest here. And if I admit something that to me seems ugly, I'd like people to be attracted to my writing. But with interests as varied as mine, how do I find a niche?

There are personal questions I'm asking myself these days. It may be the impending big birthday. I feel like I'm on the cusp of change. I'm going to be taking you along with me as these questions flesh out. I hope you find something in my words that speak to you. And I hope you'll add your own to them--even if it seems I'm all over the place.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All Fired Up!

The great thing about the blog medium is you can post immediate responses to breaking news or events.

Sometimes providing an immediate response is not the best idea.

If I were to publish a post tonight about The White House and moms and about using new media tools to create the appearance of concern about the opinions of a particular segment of society--a segment that makes the majority of family financial decisions in this country, a segment that is disproportionately effected by the global economic crisis--but follow-up with partial actions and behind schedule, I would not be diplomatic.

And if I've learned anything in my 16 years in DC, it's that diplomacy is appreciated by those in power.

So tonight I will go to sleep and let my blood cool down. Tomorrow however...

Monday, October 12, 2009

DC Acronyms Attack--FDA, TSA, CFPA

If you live in the DC area long enough, you get used to the myriad of government acronyms. I have friends who work for the CIA, DEA, ICE, BATF, IRS, DOT, OMB, FEC, DOJ and a host of others.

I learned about yet another new acronym today. Emily and Cooper over at The Motherhood pointed me to a recent announcement by the White House calling for Congress to form the CFPA or the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. You can read more about it here and here.

The White House, in an effort to expand online engagement, is reaching out to a variety of online communities--including mom bloggers--to take our questions about financial regulatory reform.

FINALLY, someone who wants to talk to me as a mom blogger about something besides diapers! And its The White House no less! I couldn't be happier that our elected officials are beginning to understand the role of mothers (all parents, really) as financial decision makers and the effect stable markets have on our day to day life.

Upon Emily and Cooper's encouragement, I submitted the following questions.

1. What effect will the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) have on current regulatory agencies? Will regulators and rules be consolidated under this new umbrella? Which agencies in particular will be moved? How long will it take to streamline the process? How will overlapping regulations or loopholes be closed if contradictions exist?

2. Which, if any, provisions will be put in place under this new agency to protect those Americans who practice fiscal responsibility? In other words, which specific provisions will be put in place to make it more lucrative for financial institutions to conduct honest business with financially responsible clients rather than what they can stand to gain by exploiting those who are in desperate financial situations?

Tomorrow, the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer, a mom of three herself, will answer our questions directly by video.

I wonder if mine will make the cut. You know I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Eco Wo-Man! Eco Wo-Man!

I'm hoping you sang the title of this post to the Wonder Woman theme song. Go ahead. Go back and do it. I'll wait.

There's a lot of introspection going down for me these days.

In addition to attending this amazing workshop, I enrolled myself in Mondo Beyondo for this month's session.

I've cracked open The Artist's Way and while I haven't started on the morning pages yet, I'm seriously considering them. (If I tell you that the book has been sitting on my shelf for the last 15 years, the fact that I'm considering doing them will all of the sudden seem like a giant leap forward.)

Last weekend I spent time in the desert with these incredible women participating in the Brand About Town Advisory Board retreat.

The scenery brought me to tears.

We hiked.

We talked.

We laughed.

And despite this photo, we quite noticeably ignored technology without any prior agreement.

The desert is quiet to a girl like me who lives so close to the city. I returned a bit tired, but emotionally renewed. (Christine does a very good job of explaining much of it, but I'm pretty sure I've also discovered some primordial Jim Morrison need for a regular peyote-induced dance in the desert.*)

This is all a long-winded way of getting around to the point that now that I'm looking all inward and thinking about doing morning pages and stuff, I'm clearly becoming more green.

Case in point. I haven't quite reached the Diva Cup stage, but this morning I remembered to recycle an empty tampon box.

Mamma Loves the earth and the earth loves me.

*Mamma Loves, nor Brand About Town, endorse the use of peyote. Reference to peyote above does not represent actual usage of peyote, but is used solely for comic effect--unless of course you have some peyote and want to go to the desert with me to dance. Be prepared however to listen to a LOT of 70's disco's just about the best music for dancing when you're high on peyote. Not that I've ever done that. As far as you know.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Want to Get Your Small Business up on Social Media?

It seems like many people I run across in the social media world are thinking about starting up small businesses or have already started one.

As you probably know, I've been an editor with Kirtsy for some time so I'm pretty excited to be involved in this new project.

Kirtsy is bringing a lot of us together in October and November to get our hands on small business… and give practical advice, instruction, and application to rock out some of our favorite free online and social media solutions.

Theyʼre joining up with the cool, smart people at Microsoft Office Live to do 100 Hands On Small
sessions in October and November.

100 sessions! 100 FREE sessions.

You heard it here (you can thank me later). Seriously. Weʼre talking 100 fun, practical gatherings of goodness to show you and yours a few new easy things to take up online.

Itʼs true. Women (and hey the brothers are invited too) across the country will be coming together this Fall for the October and November Hands On Small Business (#HOSB) series — all brought to you in by the Politics, World and Business section of Kirtsy and the very good people of Microsoft Office Live.

All of the 100 gatherings will be held October 5– November 22 in 20 areas across the country including:


Each session will be hosted and led by Kirtsy editors, Kirtsy founders and Kirtsy friends, who just want to get together to show you some new (and maybe not so new) cool things that will help make your online life easier, smarter and definitely more interesting.

So if theyʼre coming to a city near you, please plan to join in on the fun! And bring your laptop if you have one!

Not in your city? Well, darn. You have two options:

1. Let them know where your city is, and theyʼll try to put it on the list for the next round of fun.

2. Get yourself to one of these cities on the scheduled dates. Go ahead. Plan a field trip.

You can find out all the info you need to know at the Hands On Small Business site. You can find out all about the awesome instructors (yep that's me all the way down under DC). The excellent variety of dates.

So get ready, and get set to go save your spot in your favorite site.

Feel free too to pass this info on to others you think might be interested. No need to be a blogger or even have any social media experience. This is truly a 101 course.

And tell me what you think about it--that is unless you come to my sessions and you think I suck. Cause then...well let's just say we're working with a fragile ego here people.