Martha Stewart proves that no one can talk sh*t about bloggers – except other bloggers

Martha Stewart at BlogHer 2012  photo credit: BlogHer

Martha Stewart at BlogHer 2012
photo credit: BlogHer

Yesterday a Bloomberg News video with Martha Stewart made the rounds on Facebook and ignited a frenzy of indignation from the women’s blogging world.   In the interview, Martha disparages bloggers by saying they are “not experts,” that they don’t fully test recipes, that many just repost other people’s work.  Here’s a sample of the conversation that exploded on Facebook yesterday. (Shown with permission from an expert in many things, Amy Oztan)

So, here’s the deal.

Martha is totally right.

And she didn’t say anything that bloggers haven’t said amongst ourselves every time we get together.  I had this conversation over and over again at BlogHer this year.

Are there amazing bloggers who are absolutely experts in their fields?  YES.

Are there bloggers that are full of it, steal other people’s work, put up anything any PR person sends them, are completely based on smoke and mirrors and everyone wonders why any brands work with them?  HELL YES.

Now aside from the fact that you can tell the Martha Stewart interview was edited down to just these perfect controversial sound bites – I’d love to see the context of Martha’s discussion of bloggers – there also has to be a reality check in the blogging world.  Not everything is cause for outrage.   And sometimes the very media outlet that puts out the video and calls it

Martha Stewart Speaks Out: Bloggers Are Not Experts

needs to be called out for playing this game in the first place.  This is 30 seconds out of who knows how many minutes of footage.  I’m guessing at least a half an hour.  And they got exactly the reaction they wanted – all of the bloggers making this video go viral.

Martha Stewart should know better than to ever say what she said, even just from a savvy PR point of view.  But, she is someone who truly knows the media landscape.  She knows that blogging and the content machine have changed the way people get and want their information.  As Cecily Kellogg points out over at Babble, Martha Stewart’s company has taken a major hit, as have all large publishing companies, as they try to evolve in the changing digital media world. But that doesn’t mean she’s wrong about how many bloggers operate – or large online platforms – Babble, Baby Center and even the New York Times have certainly had their share of plagiarism scandals.

So let’s take a step back and get real.  Martha Stewart certainly doesn’t need me to defend her, but we also don’t need to be piling on one of the most successful female entrepreneurs – someone who elevated the crafting, food, and style niches to begin with, and proved there was a business model there – just to make bloggers feel justified about what they do.

If you’re an expert, prove it by turning out great, original content, and hopefully you will be able to make a living doing what you love.  And I bet if Martha asked you to contribute to her Pinterest Boards you’d do it in a heartbeat – because nothing proves you’re an expert more than the seal of approval from an indisputable expert in your field.

Star Wars is for Girls

I saw Star Wars about 22 times the summer it came out when I was 5.  I wore my hair like Princess Leia before there was anything called Cosplay.   I’ve written about all of this before.  But last weekend I went with a young KidzVuz reporter (and her mom!) to New York Comic Con where she interviewed Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe.

Ashley is best known in the Sci-Fi world as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.   But she is also an awesome fangirl promoter and supporter who saw the need for girl fan merchandise and so she built Her Universe.

I first met Ashley at Disney Social Media Moms Conference – and immediately loved everything she was about.

I will let her tell you why she started Her Universe, and you can see some of the cool merchandise yourself!  But, if you have a fangirl in your life (or if you are one, since she’s got loads of grown up merch too) be sure to head over to HerUniverse.com and pick up something great.  Don’t be afraid to let that geek flag fly.

KidzVuz in the News – on E! News, Fox NY and going viral!

fox ny set

What makes a video go viral?

My husband described it as lightening in a bottle – and I think that’s true to a degree.  It is rare, and it has an element of impossibility.  This past week we watched our first honest to goodness viral video happen at KidzVuz.

We’ve had videos get tens of thousands of views, we have one video that consistently gets 1000+ views a week and we have no idea why – but this week GlitterGirl, one of our KidzVuz star reporters, interviewed Ryan Reynolds on the red carpet of the Turbo premiere, and this video had the secret sauce.

People Magazine, Pop Sugar, ABC News, and E!online were among the 25 news outlets that picked up the video.  Then E! News played it on air as one  their best of the weekend videos.

Here’s the E! News clip of the video:

She’s adorable.  He’s got fatherhood talk swirling around him.  The question was different and adorable.  Is that what made it a viral video hit?  I don’t know.  And anyone that tells you they can make a guaranteed viral video is lying.

But I can tell you that what makes this, and all of our KidzVuz videos special is that they are the definition of authenticity. And that can make all the difference.

GlitterGirl joined me on Fox NY Good Day Street Talk last week too.  We talked about internet safety, parenting and how she ended up on the red carpet!

(and no, she is NOT my daughter!)

Tiger Eyes the Movie: Meeting Judy Blume, again, 30 years later

tiger eyes movie poster

Judy Blume is easily the first author I remember LOVING.  I was probably around seven when I read my first Judy Blume book. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and quickly headed to Barnes and Noble for more.  I had to read EVERYTHING she wrote.  Like most girls of my generation (that would be X) Judy Blume helped define our childhood and adolescence.

Deenie, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Blubber and of course, Forever.  These books taught you something about being a girl – what might happen, what may have happened, what you hope didn’t happen – all of it perfectly written in exactly the right voice.

When I was 10 I waited for two hours with one of my best friends at the original Barnes and Noble in Manhattan to meet Judy Blume and get the first copy of Tiger Eyes.  That autographed copy of Tiger Eyes is one of the very few books that has moved with me from home to home – surviving over 30 years and 5 moves.  Like many of Judy’s (she told me to call her that!) books Tiger Eyes is about a strong, young girl named Davey on the verge of womanhood.  In Tiger Eyes she is also displaced, confused, and recovering from the sudden, violent death of her father.  It’s a much more mature book – not quite Forever, but definitely more hardened and sad than Margaret.

The film is very loyal to book,  beautifully shot and the lead actress, Willa Holland, is extraordinary.  I highly recommend it not just for Gen X women who grew up with Judy Blume, but also for older tween and teen girls.  It’s amazing to see how much Twilight and The Hunger Games follow in the footsteps of the Judy Blume tradition of smart, capable – slightly wounded, girls like Davey in Tiger Eyes.  It’s not action packed or fully of vampires and love triangles, but it has at its core those paradoxical feelings of adolescent sadness/joy, fear/courage, ignorance/wisdom that universally resonate at that age – particularly with girls.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a screening of the new film version of Tiger Eyes – and Judy Blume was there to take questions and sign books!

judy blume and lawrence blume

I was thrilled to dig out my copy of  Tiger Eyes from 1982.  Judy was shocked and touched to see her autograph from way back then  - she called over everyone to see it, and then signed the book anew here in 2013.

It was an awesome moment.  And I can tell you that there were many, many women in attendance that day who brought their original copies of Forever, Tiger Eyes and the other faves – tattered, battered and well-loved – for Judy to sign as well.

You can check out the main Tiger Eyes page to see if the film is coming to a theater near you, but it is also On Demand, and online on the usual outlets.

A Very Chocolatey Halloween with Jacques Torres

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This week we were seriously delighted to go to Jacques Torres in Tribeca and create chocolate Halloween confections with Jacques and his amazing team.  If you follow me on twitter you already know that I documented my first Wicked Hot Chocolate of the season on the first chilly day in October.

I love Jacques Torres chocolates, so when he opened a store near my daughters’ school it was a mixed blessing – for my dark chocolate tooth.  I sort of hid how awesome it was from my daughters, because the last thing I need are girls who love lobster AND high quality chocolate.  If a 50 cent Kit Kat makes them happy who am I to tell them otherwise?

But, I was super excited to bring my girls to have this incredible experience of both meeting Jacques and getting to work with his delicious chocolate to create really fabulous Halloween chocolate treats.  I had no idea how awesome it was going to be, but it was one of the experiences that surpassed my expectations.

First, the girls were given chef hats and smocks and I was given a hair net (this is why there are no pictures of me!)  Then they were led into the back of the store to the actual chocolate factory.  Vats of chocolate were stirring, racks of finished products were stacked to the ceiling, and the tables were laid out with jars of candy, sheets of molds, containers of fruits.

colored chocolate for decorating

All the fixings for candy chocolate making

They immediately dove in and started making Halloween lollipops and giant tombstones.  After filling in the details with colored chocolate they used a huge pastry bag full of dark, milk or white chocolate to fill the molds to the top, and then they were whisked off to the refrigerators to set.

Filling the tombstone mold

That would have been fabulous enough, but then wax lined baking sheets appeared with huge dollops of chocolate waiting to be decorated and candy covered.

Then, a giant Jack o’lantern (Jacques o’lantern) puzzle mold.  And finally, the huge haunted house molds.   Before I knew it my girls had created 40 pieces of chocolate Halloween goodness.  40!!!

Entire Halloween chocolate creation haul!

On top of all that, Jacques Torres couldn’t have been more wonderful with the kids.  He obviously loves what he does, and loves sharing it.  His team was incredibly gracious, patient and encouraging even though they were over run with sugared up kids (and parents.)   They even packaged everything up professionally to take home.

40 chocolate Halloween creations!

And now, I think that little Jacques Torres store near my daughters’ school will never be just my place ever again.  Also, I’m totally ordering the chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving!

Get ready for Thanksgiving next!

Once Princess Leia, Always Princess Leia

Wordless Wednesday was never this geeky.  I know.  When my husband saw this he said, “Truly there are no words.”  Actually, he said, ” That is the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen.”   I’m OK with that.  I spent all of kindergarten with my hair in two side buns.  I saw Star Wars 26 times in the summer of 1977 – and the first time it was with my dad in Times Square at the old Astor Plaza Theater. I was 5.

And so yesterday when I was at the holiday showcase event for Xbox360 Kinect and R2D2 was there – for real people – I could not resist taking advantage of having a hooded sweater coat with me and posing like this.  What you can’t tell from the picture is that when I did that the prerecorded message of Princess Leia saying, “Help me Obi-Wan you’re my only hope,” played from deep inside that lovable droid.  Now I don’t feel so bad that I missed all the fun at Comic Con last week.

Thank you GayNycDad for taking the pic!!

What’s for Dinner? Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge

This is a guest post written by Shari Brooks of My Judy the Foodie.  Since I’m a vegetarian (or pescetarian really), and swamped with preparations for the KidzVuz redesign launch in two weeks,  I sent my fellow blogger and fab writer Shari Brooks to cover the Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge for Beccarama.  And I love Hellmann’s – no other mayo tastes right to me – so I was thrilled that she agreed to go and write about it here and on her own blog.  YUM!

Yesterday morning I took part in the Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge.  I was right at home as My Judy the Foodie uses mayonnaise in many of Judy’s celebrated recipes, most importantly the critically acclaimed Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney which boasts some nice heaping spoonfuls of the mayo-ey goodness!

So, what happens at a Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge you rightfully ask?  Well, Hellmann’s Parmesan-Crusted Chicken is one of the most downloaded recipes from the Hellmann’s website.  Our friends at Hellmann’s are on a mission to see if any other mayonnaise-based chicken dishes can compete with the long-time chick champ. The Hellmann’s Chicken Challenge gives everyone a chance to vote. Each week, two other Hellmann’s® chicken recipes will challenge Parmesan Crusted Chicken for your vote.  You can even vote as many times as you’d like for a chance to win prizes.

At the first-ever event, which streamed live on Hellmann’s Facebook page, three well-known hosts took to the kitchen to cook their favorite chicken recipes, taste test the audience with samples of each, and have the audience vote for our fave.   I have to say that each recipe, while different from one another, is very simple to make.  The prep time is minimal and the flavor is bountiful.  That’s one of the many benefits of cooking with mayonnaise, it helps preserve the rich chicken flavor without the use of salt and pepper or keeping on the skin.

Ok.  Enter Mark Conseulos, celebrated actor, producer, dad-of-three.  While an avid griller, he admitted he’s never cooked chicken indoors!  He also mentioned one of the many challenges parents face at mealtime: picky eaters!  It’s important to change up our children’s meals to give them variety.  Naturally, he prepared and cooked the reigning recipe: Parmesan-Crusted Chicken.   There is no degree of difficulty in the meal prep.  It’s too easy to pass up! There are only four (4) ingredients to the recipe and chances are, you have all of them in your pantry and fridge right now:  Parmesan cheese, Italian-flavored bread crumbs, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and chicken (breasts or cutlets).  For someone who’s never cooked inside, Mark seemed at ease and quite honestly, surprised by the recipe’s simplicity, let alone, taste.  Not to mention the entire audience seemed to ooh and ah when we were served our bite-sized samples.  We guesstimated that we could eat at least 5-6 of the sample pieces without feeling guilty.

Next up in the kitchen, Tim Love, celebrated Fort Worth, Texas chef, author and lover of all foods-foods-with-a-kick.  Tim challenged the Parmesan Chicken with a Chipotle Lime Chicken.  He enjoys this recipe and is a proponent of involving family in meal prep citing there are always teachable moments and it keeps kids vested in their meals (I’ve recently learned this too). Since this recipe calls for chipotles (smoked jalepenos) and Tim grows them his backyard garden, the kids get to witness farm-to-table in action.   As samples were being passed,  there’s no doubt in my mind that the crowd still longed for the juicy parmesan version (can you tell where I cast my vote)?

Last up, Sissy Biggers, the nationally-recognized television host and lifestyle expert, full of inspiring advice on a variety of topics. Sissy’s also a momma to two grown girls so she feels like she’s been on the front line in the kitchen and knows how challenging it can be for busy moms to break find the time and patience to break meal monotony.  However, when a recipe calls for only four (4) ingredients and one is Hellmann’s, it’s guaranteed to be bursting with taste. She defends that the BBQ Cheddar Crusted Chicken appeals to the kids because of the clever combination of the sweet BBQ flavor and the sharp cheddar flavor.  And of course the mayonnaise helps seal in that great taste.

Besides getting an awesome swag bag (MyJudytheFoodie loves any free/practical cooking-related baubles), and a signed cookbook from Tim, the event certainly accomplished its mission. I walked back into my apartment no longer a frustrated meal-challenged mom but rather, a mom-on-a–chicken-mission. I whipped up some Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breasts in under 20 minutes flat. No joke.  The kids gave the new tasty meal a very rare two thumbs up approval rating.

We were all happy to have a new dish added to our dinner rotation!