[Photos] Good Times, Great Food in Seattle

The Palace Ballroom

Last week I visited Seattle on a press trip with Microsoft (which means they paid for everything and fed us very, very well).  The purpose of the trip was to learn about Windows 8 and Office 365. Although I am a hardcore digital maven I admit I didn’t take to the changes to Windows very well. I shunned them, in fact. I absolutely didn’t want to learn anything new and furthermore I just didn’t have the time to do so.

That said, I am here to tell you Windows 8 really changed my life. Everything is so seamless, connected, and very functional. My apps and Windows Phone sync beautifully so when I take a photo with my phone it automatically goes to my Skydrive account like magic! I remember when people used to caution us about the cloud. Now, I can’t think of living without it, frankly.

As someone who takes a lot of photos and has collected a ton of them on my desktop in various folders I can tell you having your photos stored in the cloud on Skydrive is one of the best things that has happened to my digital career. It has just made everything easier – simple as that.

Here are some photos I took with my camera at Tom Douglas’ The Palace Ballroom and  Tavolata and then uploaded to my Skydrive account. I love that all of my photos will now be in one place that I can access at any time, anywhere!


Copyright: Microsoft

The Palace Ballroom

The Palace Ballroom




[Photos] Seattle’s Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market Collage

This week I have been in Seattle for a Windows 8 and Office 365 press trip. I have been working with Microsoft for nearly three years and have loved every minute of learning new tech tips and tricks. It’s been such fun and really a privilege!

Yesterday, the Microsoft team gave us some downtime to explore Seattle’s Pike Place Market and try out some Windows 8 photo apps like Fotor and Memorylage. I made the collage above using Memorylage. I love it!

Also, as an aside, I took all of these photos on a Samsung Windows Phone and downloaded all of them seamlessly to my Skydrive account. I have to say,  I am mesmerized by how easy it is to use Windows 8 and Office 365. In all honesty I hadn’t used either of them before this week because I thought the changes were just too daunting to take on. Now, that I have had hands-on instruction I am really excited to start incorporating this new tech ecosystem into my lifestyle.

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Why I Am Loving Every Moment of the Time Cover Debate

On Monday during an interview with Billboard about moms and radio listening habits the reporter asked me why I started blogging and my answer was clear and concise: In 2004 I wanted to be a part of the robust, smart conversations women were having online.

That was true then and it is still true now.

I started blogging eight years ago because I was reading really smart mothers who blogged about everything from their families and children to work-life balance and, yes, the mommy wars. In those days it seems like a mommy wars controversy erupted weekly and lit up the blogosphere. I wanted to be a part of that conversation and started my first blog. That blog is long gone, but I used to write about my daughters and family life. I also blogged about breastfeeding for Mothering magazine and motherhood for Literary Mama. As my daughters have grown older I write about other things now like the mom blogging industry and pressing global issues. As I have watched the mom blogging community form and shape itself over the years I am proud that mothers are still voicing their opinions about major issues of the day like the provocative Time magazine cover that hit the Web yesterday.

As the cover gained traction within the mom blogging community I followed links to fantastic moms’ posts about the Time cover and the mommy wars like Fact: Mommy Wars Do Not Exist by Susan of 5 Minutes for Mom and Where is the Mommy War for the Motherless Child? by Kristen of Rage Against the Minivan, I am Mom Enough by Kelly of Mocha Momma and It’s Time to Stop Fighting the Mommy Wars by Katherine of  Postpartum Progress. I followed the barrage of tweets and the slew of status update opinions on Facebook and smiled. This morning I read Ciaran’s post Are Mom Bloggers a Bunch of Boobs? It’s really deep and worth a read or two. In fact, I’m going to have to give it a re-read!

These posts and others reminded me of the good ol’ days when we used to blog heavily and freely about key issues that shape our society and motherhood. We wrote from a variety of perspectives and opinions – some popular, others not – and together it was this swelling cacophony of good writing.

I’m really happy that cacophony is still here and banging loudly throughout the mom blogging community!

What Going to Kenya With ONE.org Means to Me #OneMoms

One Mamas

Lindsay Maines, Cooper Munroe, Karen Walrond (left to right) at the "Why Bother" Vaccines Press Conference at the National Press Club

Ever since I started my online journey eight years ago I have always wanted to help other mothers in any way I can from sharing blogging advice to setting up paid campaigns for bloggers to recommending bloggers to brands that aren’t a great fit for me. My greatest intention has always been to help. That’s why I couldn’t have been happier to partner with ONE.org earlier this year as a part of the One Mom Advisory Council. Now I am able to help mothers on a global scale. This is unbelievable.

If you haven’t heard about ONE it is an advocacy organization that was co-founded by Bono, Bob Geldoff  and others and seeks to eradicate extreme poverty and preventable disease in Africa. What I find most compelling about ONE is they don’t want your money;  the simply want your voice.

ONE has over two million members who advocate on behalf of the word’s poor. ONE does extraordinary work and has for years from working on maternal and child health and education to HIV/AIDS and agriculture. What’s so compelling to me about ONE’s work is they believe in sharing the improvements people who live in extreme poverty are experiencing through their Living Proof series. It shows the world that the aid (less than 1% of the US budget) that is going to Africa is actually working. Now, as a member of the ONE Mom Advisory Council I will be headed to Kenya in July to see for myself how US Aid is working for African communities in need.

I, along with other members of the ONE Mom Advisory Council, will be reporting from the ground about our discoveries in Kenya. We will be reporting live in some instances, tweeting, and posting on our blogs as well as on the One Moms page. This team of moms is so different that our coverage will be unique in scope but very comprehensive in nature.

Here is the list of the ONE Moms:

Jennifer James of MomBloggersClub.com @mombloggersclub
Lindsay Maines of RockandRollMama.com @rockandrollmama
Emily McKhann of The Motherhood.com @emilymckhann; @themotherhood
Elisa Morgan of FullFill.org @FullFillmag
Cooper Munroe of TheMotherhood.com @coopermunroe @themotherhood
Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.com @chookooloonks
Shayne Moore for GlobalSoccerMom.com @GlobalSoccerMom
Rachel Fox,ONE Congressional District Leaders, @rachelonefox
Jyl Johnson Pattee of MomItForward.com @jylmomIF @momitforward

How to Ensure Your Blog Stays Relevant, Or How Not to Go Down the Tubes Like the Flip Camera

As you’ve probably heard Cisco bid adieu to the Flip video camera last week. I can remember a few years ago when every mom blogger was given a Flip. At every turn I was given one — at events, at conferences, in the mail. It was crazy! In fact, I had so many that I just started giving them away. Every time I received one, I gave it away.

What happened to the Flip, you ask?

It became irrelevant. Quickly! Who needs another device (no matter how small) when your smart phone can do everything for you?

It’s just like when brands entered the mom blogging scene a few years ago. Some bloggers adapted to it and are still around today. Believe me, many more fell by the wayside because they didn’t want to or couldn’t figure out how to incorporate brands into a blog about their everyday life.

Staying relevant is always a chore. How do you keep your blog from going the way of the Flip video camera?

1) Stay up on the tech trends. Go mobile! Don’t get lazy about keeping your blog technologically up-to-date. Adding plugins to your posts is a definite must! It is extremely easy to do on WordPress. And you can easily grab code from sites like Add This and Share This to add to your blog’s code if you use another blogging platform.

You can also get a free Android app (and potentially an Apple app if you have enough traffic) for your blog at Notice Software. It’s completely free. I’m working with them now to create a monster app for Mom Bloggers Club and Mom Blog magazine. And I just read in the New York Times that you will soon be able to make your blog “swipable” through new software called OnSwipe. Keep an eye out for it and sign up for the beta preview. OnSwipe will be available for all WordPress blogs in the very near future, which for all of you WordPress junkies is fabulous news.

2. Keep you content relevant. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and blog about the mundane. Much of what personal blogging is is about the mundane, but make sure you are feeding your readers content they can’t get anywhere else. That means put a unique or creative spin to your posts. And by all means make sure your content is consistent. Nothing fuels irrelevance more than gaps in your post schedule. I have learned that the hard way!

3. Be aware of changes around you. Climbing into your own self-centered tunnel and not noticing what is happening around you in the blogging and social media space is one thing that will drive you into irrelevance quickly. Be observant. There’s a difference between being a follower of the latest craze and noticing what’s going on. Learn to be discerning about what you think will stick and will make a difference in your world. There are tons of new social media services and apps that pop up every week, but will you use them? That’s the ultimate question you have to ask of yourself.

4. Innovate. Be a Thought Leader. Being a thought leader doesn’t mean being a perpetual griper. Stand up for new ideas, push the envelope, and try new things. Package yourself into one simple and easy personal brand that people remember and relate to.

The final way to remain relevant is to deliver stellar content to your readers that compels them to come back to your blog and share their content with their readers.

Think Like a Content Creator, Not Just a Mom Blogger

Last weekend I traveled down to Atlanta to speak about blog monetization at Lavish, a fabulous conference for lifestyle bloggers. At Lavish, one thing I learned is many lifestyle bloggers have not monetized their blogs the way mom bloggers have, so it was refreshing to discuss a topic that is very relevant to a brand-new audience.

One of the points I made during my Lavish session was to change the way you think about the work you do as a blogger. That is, instead of seeing yourself as a mere blogger, think of yourself as a content creator. There is a difference.

I have heard it time and again that those who create quality content and entertainment will be the ones who succeed in blogging and in all other media businesses. That’s why Oprah makes more money than the people who pay her. Isn’t that a brilliant point? I heard that on ESPN Radio last week of all places when they were talking  about something other than sports.

Thinking differently about the work you do will definitely change the way you write and the goals you set for yourself. It wasn’t until I saw myself as a businesswoman that my eyes finally opened to the possibilities for my sites. If you really want to set yourself apart from other bloggers in your niche, you have to rework how you perceive the content you create every day.

Considering yourself a mere blogger may imply you have no real strategy or direction to your content; that you latch onto every opportunity that comes your way. As a content creator you strategize about the editorial direction of your blog, are deliberate and thoughtful about the posts you write and are serious about the frequency in which you publish new content.

Stellar content creators pride themselves in writing posts in a new and unique way every day instead of churning out trite content. Content creators plan and organize their writing. Content creators present their work in a way that is pleasing not only to the eye of their readers, but also to their imagination and intelligence. They tell a story with their writing even when the topic is mundane.

Look at it this way:  Your blog is quite akin to being a small media company whose reputation and profits rely solely on the quality of your work, including your content and the way you present it just like Oprah.com or CNN.com. That’s why I am thrilled with the prospects and possibilities of Mom Blog magazine. With a team of amazing writers and a cartoonist I am awed by the content they provide every day.

In 2011 concentrate on thinking like a content creator and see what happens. Let me know how it turns out!

The First Week of Mom Blog Magazine

As many of you know Mom Blog magazine relaunched last Wednesday. So far, it’s been a wonderful relaunch even if one piece in particular really stirred the pot in the blogosphere.

Our only anonymous writer’s piece, Why PR People Get Paid and You Don’t, hit the community hard. If there is one thing I know for sure it’s this: no matter where you stand in the debate, a conversation was started through “Sarah’s” piece. Now, let’s see where this conversation goes.

Christy Matte wrote a rebuttal piece, Blogger – PR Tango: It Takes Two, because columnists for the same publication can and will disagree sometimes.

Our apps, gadget, and tech editors, Robyn Wright, Michele McGraw, Kris Cain, and Leticia Barr, are amazing. Don’t miss their fabulous content.

Our social media editor, Rebecca Levey, talks about using social media tools to become a better blogger in How to be the Belle of the Ball and our books editor, Busy Mom, reviewed Unmarketing in a way that you can actually get through. And, finally, our comic strip creator, Am Derosa, threw a little humor in the mix in her first comic for Mom Blog magazine.

And there are even more columnists who still have yet to be published. Stay tuned!

As the founder and publisher of Mom Blog magazine I am extremely proud of our first week. A member of our team has been asked to speak at a national conference that’s not in the mom space and we’ve partnered with CBS’s The Talk (www.thetalk.com) to give away $1300 in electronics for the holidays.

I can’t wait to see how next week unfolds. Whatever happens, don’t miss any of it! Add us to your reader,  follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

See you there!