Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 Disney Social Media Moms "On the Road" Celebration #DisneySMMoms

    When I walked into the conference room for the Disney Social Media Mom's "On the Road" Celebration in Seattle and saw George sitting on my table, I exclaimed excitedly,  "2319!"
   Surprised at myself, I clamped my lips together and thought, "Did I just say that out loud??"  After a quick glance around, I didn't think anyone noticed that I had just invoked the Monsters, Inc. code for human contamination on the Scare Floor, but if they had, I decided I would have just pretended to have been talking to my baby.  Babies who can't talk yet are great for that sort of thing.
 George, with his monster-contaminating human child's sock on his back, was my table captain for my first time attending the much buzzed about Disney Social Media Moms "On the Road" Celebration.
  Often referred to as #DisneySMMoms, Disney Social Media Moms Team is powered by Disney Media/PR.  This "On the Road" half-day conference that I attended is an offshoot of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration that Disney hosts for about 150 mom/dad bloggers and their families for the purpose of familiarizing bloggers with the magic of Disney Parks.  Usually held at Walt Disney World, in 2014 the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration will be held in Anaheim at Disneyland.  These conferences are a way for Disney and the blogging community of moms to network, educate and inspire each other.  Whoever dreamed this idea up deserves a raise!
  The Disney Social Media Moms "On the Road" Celebration began with lining up for registration, which was a chance for me to begin meeting other bloggers, like Shannon from, Mindy from The Inquisitive Mom, Catherine from Thinking Outside the Sandbox and Sarah from Gazing In.  It was so fun to talk with them about our kids (I think there were 14 kids between us!), strollers and about our respective journeys to get to the conference.
Stopped for the obligatory photo by the signage...

 After my "2319" moment at the table with George, I regrouped and decided to mingle.  I met Connie from Modern Mama and Kristina of Swank Mama, two really nice, upbeat ladies.  Blogging and photography were the hot topics respectively when I met Lori of The Write Mama and Keryn Means from Walking on Travels.  Lots of smiles and shared excitement in the room as we drifted back to our tables once the food began arriving:

  In addition to talking about Disney, my tablemates and I talked about Big Brother, the Kardashians,  babies, blogging and more Disney.  I sat with Shannon from, Jordan Nugent, who works in PR, Robin of Thrive Advertising and Jenni Hogan, Host of The Next Big Thing with Jenni Hogan. 
  After breakfast, the conference program began.  I had hoped that my baby boy would fall asleep for this portion of the morning, and he's just that he then woke up when I tried to put him into his stroller to sleep, so....Back into the baby sling he went and on with the show I went :)  I pretty much held him the whole time, but he is so sweet, I didn't mind. 
  Michele Himmelberg of Disneyland greeted us with opening remarks and shared some of her personal journey as a mom working in sports media.  It was cool to learn she is a founding member of the Association for Women in Sports Media. My mom was a pioneer for women in the construction business when I was a kid, so I have a lot of respect for women that blaze the trail for the rest of us.
  Next we heard from Erin Glover, who has what might be one of the coolest jobs ever, writing for the Disney Parks Blog.  She shared news with us about what's happening at Disney Parks as part of Disney's Monstrous Summer Celebration theme for all the promotions and activities this year at Disney Parks as well as Disney online.  As an aside: there is a clever Monsters University website, as well as a special game where you can become an honorary Monsters U student and enter for a chance to win a family vacation to the Disney Park of your choice.
  The keynote speaker for our day in Seattle was Mindee Doney, creator of Boogie Wipes and the force behind Get Your Own Juicebox, a site which is about empowering and encouraging women to be actively engaged moms and individuals.  Check out my twitter feed for my coverage of her talk and of the whole conference.  Mindee's talk was so good, it's all over the twitterverse and blogosphere! You can also search the hashtag #DisneySMMoms on twitter to see what was presented at the conference. 
My view in the conference room:
  Next we listened to a panel of Mom Entrepreneurs as they spoke about their experiences as small business owners as well as their encouragements for us to keep at our dreams.  We heard from:
Suzanne Hansen of Baby Sleep Coaching
Kathy Nelson of OvalEye 
Christi Sandvik of kris&kate
Sari Crevin of Booginhead
  The last speaker of the day was Michelle Stepney, who is the PR Content Director on the Disney Parks Blog.  She also does media training for Disney Parks, so she gave us a mini-presentation on how, as bloggers, to work with the media.  It was great- it left me wanting to learn more!
   I have to mention a few more new blogger friends I made at the conference: Shari Lynne from Faith Filled Food for Moms, Mindy from Momma Mindy, Eryn from (coming in July 2013) and Jenny from Jenny on the Spot.  Talented ladies, each one!
  During the conference there were breaks for prize giveaways. 
  I won makeup from Disney's new makeup line, Beautifully Disney.  I'll try it all out and write a review soon!   Below are photos of my prize as well as the items we each received as an attendee gift.  Mindee Doney gave out some grape-scented Boogie Wipes during her talk as a "nice to tweet you" gift for those she chatted with via twitter ahead of the conference.  I love those wipes.  Thanks so much Disney and Mindee Doney!


  It was fun to see how thrilled the prize winners were.  I think there was excitement not just to have something special to bring home to the kids, but also excitement for us adults personally because that Disney excitement is a deep emotional well to draw from.  Once it gets inside you as a kid it is there to stay as you grow into an adult.  You can't help but find that it inspires you again and again.

  To say I had a great time would be an understatement.  I learned some new things and made new connections with my peers in the blogging community.  I'm so glad that Disney took the show "On the Road!"

Free-form Berry Tart Recipe

I looked in my fridge and saw a lot of berries that needed to be eaten and decided to take action!  This was a fun recipe to make with my kids, and it really lends itself to any customizations you'd like:  try it with apple slices, nectarines....whatever type of fresh fruit you'd like on top!
Presenting my Free-form Berry Tart
(recipe at the bottom)
It's a really simple dessert...
Starting with a shortbread-inspired pie crust, I rolled it out and laid it onto a foil-covered baking sheet and spread onto the crust a cinnamon-cream cheese filling: 

Cover with mixed fresh berries:

Pick up the edge of the crust and fold it onto the fruit:

Bake at 375 for about an hour:


Free-form Berry Tart
Shortbread Pie Crust:

2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1T shortening
1T sugar
1/4 t salt

Mix everything except water together with a pastry cutter of two forks.  Once you have a crumbly mixture, add water and finish the mixing with your hand.  Place between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll out.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:

1 package room-temp cream cheese
1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2 T cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1 T vanilla

Mixed Berries:

1 pound strawberries
1/2 pound blueberries
1/2 pound raspberries

Monday, June 24, 2013

Citrus Salmon Recipe

This is my favorite way to prepare salmon.  Tasty, moist and super simple, too.  Just thinly slice an orange (or two) and cover the salmon.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Makeup for Summer - 3 Favorites

1.  Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Gel Shadow
  Apply with your finger tips for buildable color that lasts without creasing or fading. 

2. Dior Diorskin Sculpt Foundation
 This foundation provides great coverage but is lightweight and natural looking.  Put it on in the AM and it holds up all day while it works to smooth your fine lines. 

3. Bobbi Brown Lip Color
I first bought Sandwash Pink after seeing it on Kate Middleton when she married Prince WIlliam and have since also bought Desert Rose, Pink and Hollywood Red.  This lipstick lasts forever without feeling dry and the texture and color stay true the whole time it's on.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Palak Paneer Recipe

I like paneer cheese as much as my kids, but to me it's not complete unless there is some palaak to go with it.  Palak is a tasty pureed spinach dish that is also nice with rice and any kind of chicken.  (You'll find the recipe at the end of this post. )   
First, I heat up 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a really big frying pan.  Then I toss in 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and let them toast up a bit. 
Then add 2 tablespoons of garam masala (a blend of several spices used frequently in Indian foods) and let it cook for a minute while adding a small chopped up white onion.

Next, I add two16 ounce cans of petite diced tomatoes, including the juice from the can. 

I always add the spinach in two batches because it's so voluminous until it cooks down.
Batch 1:
Batch 2:

Keep stirring until it's all nice and soft:

Next everything goes into the food processor until nicely pureed.  Taste and add more garam masala now, if you like.
Palak Recipe:
1 tsp cumin seeds
2T garam masala
1 small onion chopped
2 cans (16 oz) petite diced tomatoes
 1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Candy's Paneer Recipe

If there's one thing my kindergartner loves, it's paneer.  She likes it for dinner and in her lunch at school.  It has a subtle buttery taste and goes with many different Indian dishes as well as being nice to eat on its own.
I first made this soft Indian cheese while my husband was away in southern India on business a few years ago.  I thought it would be fun to make dinner for the kids with the same foods that Daddy was eating in India as a way for them to connect with him while he was gone.  I hoped that they would be open to trying something different, and as it turned out, they all really liked it.  The runaway favorite since that was dinner has been paneer. 
Here's last night's dinner.  Tandoori chicken, basmati rice and palaak paneer (spinach with paneer):
The recipes and steps for the tandoori chicken and the palaak paneer will follow in the next few days, but today let's start with just the paneer.  It's the simplest recipe to remember.  It's just a gallon of whole milk and a quart of buttermilk!  You will also need cheesecloth:

First pour the milk into a big pot and start it heating.  Open the buttermilk and have it on standby to pour into the milk once it has gotten hot and almost boiling:

Meanwhile prepare the cheesecloth.  Cut a generous length of it:

You need enough cheesecloth to drape over a colander like this:

Put the colander into the kitchen sink and then it should be time to add the buttermilk to the pot.  Stir over medium heat until the liquid has separated and you can see curds:
Pour the contents of the pot into the waiting colander, but go slow at first to be sure the cheesecloth doesn't fold down over itself. 
If you lift the edges of the cheesecloth it will help the liquid to leave a little faster:
Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and tie it up.  This next part is my favorite. Tie the bundle onto the kitchen faucet and let it continue to drain for about 30 minutes.  I think I like this step because seeing the homemade cheese tied up there gives me a sense of accomplishment at making something so tasty and new out of an ordinary gallon of milk. It's hard to explain.
Next untie the paneer and unwrap it:

It needs to go into a container that will shape it into a brick that you can later cut.  I like this container with a lock-on lid:
In goes the cheese...

On goes the lid...

Put it in the fridge for a few hours at least, if not overnight, and then it's ready to slice up.  Eat it as-is, or fry it a bit.

Up next will be the palaak recipe.  Have a great day!

Monday, June 10, 2013

To Do Lists

I have to have a to do list.  If I don't, things get missed. 
Most of my to do lists are created at 10:30 at night, when I was almost asleep and suddenly remembered something I needed to do.  Suddenly wide awake, I grab my cell phone and send myself an email to use as my to do list. 
I've tried carrying around a little planner but I forget to write in it as things come up, or I set it down on my desk and forget to take it with me when I leave the house.  At least with sending myself an email it will be there on my cell phone to remind me, since I never forget my iphone.