Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

When a conference is called a celebration you know there is something else going on.  I was fortunate enough to go to Disney Social Media Moms last year, and this year I went again, but this time to Disneyland in California.  And, since the celebration coordinated perfectly with my daughters’ spring break and Passover we decided to make it a real family trip and stay in Los Angeles to have our seder with all of our family that lives there.  It was Kismet.

I love Disneyland.  I love its charm, its uncomplicated, easy to cover size, and most of all its history.  I believe you can feel Walt Disney’s optimism and desire to build something really special when you’re there.  I hadn’t been to Disneyland since my daughters were 4 years old (8 years ago!)

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And I’m happy to say, my daughters still loved it, even as jaded tweens.

 

One of the things I love about this conference is that they don’t tell you the full agenda and all of the surprises that are in store while you’re there.  And, they include so many different facets of Disney – so there are always unexpected and interesting people and initiatives worth learning about.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from this year’s Celebration:

1.  Cars Land is spectacular.  No, really.  Ever wonder what it would be like to step inside an animated film?  Well, this is pretty much as close as you will ever come.  I recommend going at night when the full neon glory of Cars Land is lit up and you can be immersed in the 1950’s vibe.  The Radiator Springs ride is crazy fun – and the backdrop landscape of Route 66 is genius.

Route 66 Neon

 

2.  It’s not the size of the castle that matters…

3. It’s the character of the princess

One of the movies I am most excited about this year is Maleficent – and we got an extra dose of maniacal fabulosity at the celebration – and an extra dose of sweet from Sleeping Beauty herself, Elle Fanning.  She is as adorable as she looks…

Elle-Fanning blows out bday cake

photo by Josh Hallett

There is also royalty of a different kind – a CEO who built a business from scratch and is now using her success for empowering students and teachers.

photo by Josh Hallett

photo by Josh Hallett

That’s Chief Exec Bear, Maxine Clark, founder of Build a Bear Workshop, who spoke to us about teachers – good and bad – and the impact they have on children’s lives.  Hearing from incredibly successful women entrepreneurs is always inspiring, but there’s an even stronger impact when it’s someone like Maxine Clark who is also honest and supportive of other women entrepreneurs.  And I love that she started Build a Bear with an underlying belief that every child should be able to buy a basic bear and fill it with love.

4.  There is magic, everywhere you look.

 Like this unexpected surprise in the headboard at the Disneyland Resort

5. Everyone is creative

When you spend time with the people at Disney you quickly come to realize how incredibly talented everyone who works at Disney is, and how diverse those talents are. But, more importantly is this belief that every cast member has a creative spark that can be brought out.

One of my favorite videos to illustrate that is this one of the janitorial team making art with water:

These things are why this is not a conference, but a celebration.  A celebration of magic, family and inspiration with a big dose of serious fun.  And most importantly for those of us that write, or film, or share our stories, is this quote from Walt Disney…

 

 

Inside the KidzVuz Holiday House Party (Video)

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

100 mom and dad bloggers from all over the Northeast  – and their awesome kids, about 140 of them! – came ready to party with KidzVuz in NYC on November 24th, 2013.  We had amazing large sponsors like Homewood Suites by Hilton, Dermalogica, Samsung, Nintendo, Hasbro, Spinmaster and Audible.com along with smaller NY based brands we love like Downtown Bookworks, IScream NY,  Battery Pop, Green Mustache, Fairway Market and Chloe’s Soft Fruit.  Plus incredible non-profits like The Broadway League, ESRB and The Lamp NYC.

With hands-on activities throughout the room, and video stations where kids could talk about the fantastic products and sponsors that they really loved, the KidzVuz Holiday House Party kicked off the holiday season with joy, fun and plenty of candy to go around!

Watch the video and you’ll instantly see why KidzVuz is the only company that truly brings kids, families and awesome brands and experiences together in a really engaging and unique way!

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.

The Digital Family Summit: A Weekend Devoted to Tech, Video, Social Media for Tweens and Teens!

At KidzVuz we believe that technology is not the enemy, and that our kids need the right tools and knowledge to become creative, responsible digital citizens.  That’s why we are so excited to be part of the first ever Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia from June 29th-July 1st.  The Digital Family Summit is an interactive, hands-on conference for teen and tween digital media creators and their families.  If you or your kid is interested in blogging, entrepreneurship, creating videos, games or animations this conference will help build skills and make connections that will take him or her to the next level.

We also believe that the Digital Family Summit is the perfect way to kick off your family’s summer so that your kids can apply the amazing skills they learn over the weekend all summer long, and have a technological leg up starting the new school year.  Plus, we hope that your kids will take this new-found video making and editing savvy and become a member of KidzVuz.com where they can safely create and share their videos with other like-minded kids from all over the country!  We will certainly be looking for future star reviewers in this fabulous crowd.

Now the fun part.  You can get a 25% discount on a family pass right now using code KIDZVUZ at checkout.  Even more exciting, we are giving away a Digital Family Summit Family Pass for you and your kids to attend!  Just click on over to KidzVuz Parents Blog and enter to win!

Cooking with Marco Canora – Now That’s a Tupperware Party!

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This is a guest post by the fabulous Shari Brooks of MyJudytheFoodie.com.  Be sure to check out her site for recipes, musings and wonderful reflections on following in her mother’s culinary  footsteps. (And it’s a good thing she went in my place because I couldn’t have stayed and watched rabbit being prepped and cooked.  But, I do love Tupperware!)

Last week Tupperware and renowned chef Marco Canora hosted a private Tupperware product and cooking demonstration in the newly renovated Tasting Table Test Kitchen in Soho. I not only got a sneak peek at the latest sleek line of Tupperware products but, had the rare opportunity to get up-close-and-personal to watch Chef Marco recreate some of his celebrated soulful dishes.

The unique event, very appropriately titled, Cooking with Confidence, echoed so many of the approaches and attitudes that I have just begun to embrace in my kitchen.  Primarily, that cooking food at home every day doesn’t have to be laden with stress. And, that fancy equipment and utensils aren’t what’s required to cook great meals.  It’s about having the right essential tools and the courage to experiment that eventually allows us to gain cooking confidence and to feel comfortable and excel in our own kitchens!

As I walked into the chic room, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Gorgeous, yet practical, Tupperware items were displayed on the shelves.  Glasses and pitchers with sleek vibrant colors lined the tables alongside a new line of easy-to-use cooking products. It’s a complete departure from those tried and true milky white plastic containers synonymous with the iconic Tupperware brand!  Even this past weekend, when I was home for the holidays, my mom’s kitchen cabinets are still bursting with myriad Tupperware relics from the 1970’s and 80’s – it’s as if they’ve been frozen in time since the house was full of young kids and home-cooked meals (30 years ago.)

Chef Marco admitted he was a little skittish doing a “Tupperware Party.”  He was worried the products weren’t going to work, like a lot of those “gimmicks” we see on late night TV.   But, after putting the new Tupperware line of pots and knives and appliances to the test, he not only uses them in his own kitchen, but also in his restaurants.   And, selfishly, these products are practical.  They’re small enough to store in any cupboard, drawer, or pantry of any New York City apartment.

With Chef Marco as our guide, we got the opportunity to experiment with the products too. The easy pull chord of the Tupperware Chop n ‘Prep Chef made it fun to do some seriously quick chopping to make Gremolata (which I now know is a chopped herb condiment typically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley). The Quick Chef  helped us mince the veggies so small without pureeing them.  With all of my past kitchen blender blunders, it was refreshing to use an appliance where I felt totally in control.  The veggies didn’t turn to mush or get watery.

In the test kitchen we watched the chef skillfully work with rabbit using the new Tupperware Boning Knife.  Besides being very thin, it’s the extra 2” on the blade Chef Marco believes “makes all the difference in the world.”  The knife is more pliable and bendable when working with tough meats.

He placed the beautifully sculpted rabbit pieces in the new Tupperware pots which are very large and provide a nice amount of surface area to contain all the heat.  Chef Marco believes many people stuff lots of food into small pans which significantly offsets the cooking balance.  I had no idea that foods need to have ample room to extract their liquids quickly in order to achieve the desired flavor.

We sampled amazing pieces of sautéed chicken cooked to peak perfection on the Tupperware Griddle Pan.  As the chef says, “griddle pans aren’t just for pancakes anymore.”  There’s no risk of burning yourself with this pan since the handles stay cool over the stove and they’re positioned very high.   In addition, the wide surface area of the pan makes it ideal for sautéing.

However, we had the most fun using the Tupperware Whip n Prep.  We were challenged to make fresh whipped cream for the awesome arrangement of freshly sliced fruit before us.  We effortlessly spun the handle around the top and two whisks moved in unison, easily converting the cream to the most perfectly, frothy whipped cream in a record time, without electricity.  I could just imagine my kids fighting over who could use the Whip n Prep first.  It wasn’t a chore, it was actually fun.  While whipping we began rattling off all the other possible uses for the Whip n Prep (which are endless):  pancake batter, egg whites, homemade mayonnaise, sauces, emulsified vinaigrette (to name a few).

The afternoon was so inspiring on many fronts.  From the valuable culinary insights and afternoon of cooking confidence delivered directly from Chef Marco Canora, to the earth-friendly, fun, and easy-to-use Tupperware products, everyone seemed energized to roll up their sleeves and get cooking.

In fact, later at home, my kids used the Chop ‘N Prep to cut up apples and pears, proclaiming it’s “way better than Spin Art.”

Now, that’s cooking with confidence….

The Month In Review: Is it February Already?

My blog has become a neglected child as the new year blew in and with it a flurry of activity for KidzVuz.com.  Trying to find balance between my various online and offline endeavors has not been easy – and I won’t even talk about work/life balance because I’ve already referred to my blog as one of my children.  Never a good sign.

So, while I vow to myself not to forget the reason I did all this to begin with – to write – I figured I’d do a totally cheating thing to do and catch up with the Top 5 Awesome Moments and Events I Forgot to Write About In January:

1.  KidzVuz.com was named one of Cool Mom Tech’s Top 15 Coolest Websites of 2011!  We were pretty excited to be chosen alongside Pinterest and the Amazon Android Marketplace.  Now we’ve got even more to live up to this year.

2. CES 2012! Gadgets and gizmos galore of course, like the fabulously curvy and light Sony S Tablet and the Live Streaming enabled new Sony BloggieLive .  I was lucky enough to be given both to try out and will be reporting back in the month ahead.  To get a better idea of all the great new techie products we saw at CES check out these TWO Blogging Angels Podcasts taped live at CES!

High Atop CES With Ben Rudolph (recorded in the Microsoft Booth)

CES Wrap-Up with TechMama (that’s Beth Blecherman to you Luddites!)

3. CES Press.  Nancy Friedman and I had two great interviews while at CES for KidzVuz.  One aired live and hasn’t been reposted yet so stay tuned.  The other was on the Pulse Network with Butch Stearns and you can watch it here.

4. Also at CES I spoke on a panel about mom bloggers and brands during the Living in Digital Times Summit with Beth Blecherman of TechMamas and Cool Mom Tech and Stacy DeBroff of Mom Central.  The panel was moderated by Lori Schwartz of McCann Worldwide and included a really interesting presentation about mom influencers across all spheres.  I hope to publish the report when it becomes available next month.  Basically, it showed how incredibly influential moms are to each other – whether on the playground or online, and how that translates into all sorts of magic (or tragedy) for brands.  Good stuff.

5. Finally we’ve been planning our first event of the year, co-hosting the grand opening party for 50 mom bloggers and their families to celebrate the opening of the new J&R Jr. store in downtown Manhattan.  I am so incredibly excited to be working with J&R since I basically grew up in the music store.  Seriously.  But that will be its own post coming soon.

And that’s what you missed last month on Beccarama.com.

Onward!

Creating a Magically Priceless Holiday Season in NYC

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It goes without saying that I love raising my kids in NYC.  One of things I love the most is the incredible opportunities that are available to us just by living here.  We’ve gone behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera (this actually fulfilled one of MY biggest wishes), been to the Origami Tree Lighting at the American Museum of Natural History, skated in Central Park and watched the giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons get inflated a block from their school. I’m always looking for the unique and special experiences that will be memorable and make my girls fully appreciate where they live.

This year I’ve discovered the Mastercard Priceless NY events to add to my must do holiday list.  I had the seriously fun pleasure of going to FAO Schwarz at 7:00 am – BEFORE it opened – to tour the store, get a first-hand look at all of the hottest new toys this season (many of which are featured in the KidzVuz Tween Gift Guide) and finally stock up on an awesome bag of candy!!  I didn’t take my daughters since they had to be at school – but really, being an adult at an empty FAO Schwarz was plenty fantastic.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and FAO was one of those magical places – like the Met, Lincoln Center and Broadway – that was reserved for a very special occasion, or a visiting relative.  I am so happy that they did not close it and have maintained much of what makes it magical.

While this event was great, even better is that I have now learned about all of the incredible Mastercard Priceless NY events and I’m hooked.  The NY Botanical Gardens Train Show before it opens to the public?  Yes.  A day spent with New Yorker cartoonists?  Definitely.  And there are so many more.  I’ve become addicted to the site actually – checking off all of the experiences I want to do and trying to figure out how to make them all work in our holiday calendar!  I think living in NYC is priceless – but it’s easy to lose sight of it sometimes.  So, I’m loving a site that helps me remember why I choose to raise my kids here and help us take full advantage of all there is to enjoy!

Check out the unique offerings at Mastercard.com (they’re doing London and Toronto too – so if you live there check those out!)

I received a gift card and a whole lotta candy at the FAO Schwarz event but it in no way influenced this post (except for the sugar rush, which contributed to the rambling)