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2013 with the Beez Family

2013 with the Beez Family

As much as I whine and moan and complain, I have to admit that 2013 was a pretty stellar year.  If 2014 is half as good as 2013 was, I’ll be in great shape.  Some highlights:

In January I went to trial college at the University of Virginia. It was an intense program, and you have to be a special kind of crazy to use up precious non-billable weekday time on an intense trial course, but it was so worth it.  January also brought a very fun Restaurant Week Food Blogger’s Dinner,, a sweet, relaxing and inspirational Women’s Retreat with Temple Sinai, and a rockin’ evening of raising funds for Haitian Families First followed by an amazing Grace Potter & the Nocturnals concert.

In February we toured a local winery, I discovered the blissful wonder of Bluebird Kitchen’s Chicken Salad Sandwich, and got to try my hand at glassblowing.

In March, we flew to California to celebrate the 80th birthday of a very special little lady– my Grandma! It was also a special opportunity to spend time with my Grandpa, who had been battling cancer for a few years, and ultimately passed away in September.  Grandma’s birthday party was a surprise, and it was so wonderful to see her so happy and celebrate together.

Happy family

Baby Beez and papa

March was full of trial preparation (followed by 2 trials, both of which resulted in wins for my clients!).  I also published an article in the Legal Intelligencer, and published a total of 5 articles in legal publications in 2013.  We also went to a bunch of theater performances in March, including the SWAN Day celebration, celebrating women in arts.  Sandy and I were interviewed as part of SWAN Day, and even inspired a songwriter to write a song about the wonders and terrors of the first day of school. (For the record, Sandy and I met on the first day of law school. Christine and I also met on the first day of college. It seems I have a thing with meeting a friend on the first day and deciding they are my FRIEND FOREVER!)

April was still trial time, but I did sneak out for an evening with the Wallflowers and Eric Clapton.

In May, Me, Mr. Beez, Sandy & Elena and Erin & Chooch all descended upon the Neville Rollerdrome to tear it UP on wheels, and let’s not forget the fun we had at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival,  Junior League’s Touch a Truck and KENNYWOOD!  That month, my brother and his family also went through the horror of their home burning down.  Friends and family stepped up to help them like you would not believe, even my blog readers (who have never met my brother or his family) were sending them gift cards and supplies in support. The event was terrible, but the help they received was so heartwarming.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

June brought an unbelievably fun trip to Austin, TX, in which I attended BlogHer Food and ATE ALL THE FOODS IN TEXAS. I also spent a weekend in the Laurel Highlands hiking beautiful trails and indulging in spa treatments (and sipping a cocktail or two) at the Bar Association’s annual Bench Bar conference.

July brought lots and lots of travel. We took a big family cruise through the Caribbean, and I was even nice to everyone (most of the time), and at the end of the month, I spent a weekend in Bucks County at the hands-down best foodie event ever– the Big Summer Potluck.

In August, my mom and I traveled to Prague together, and she loved it just as much as I thought she would. We enjoyed the beautiful architecture, saw lots of neat theater performances, and had tons of delicious treats. Also in August, we had the opportunity to see the blooming corpse flower, Romero, at Phipps Conservatory. It was stinky, but amazing.

September brought the sadness of my Grandpa’s passing, and I traveled to California for his memorial service in October. September was also Baby Beez’s 3rd birthday, which we celebrated with a little outing on the Gateway Clipper, and I took a few moments to think about what a special girl she is and will become.

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In October I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh for the first time, and loved hanging out with fellow blog/social media nerds in Pittsburgh. I also enjoyed lovely Halloween-themed outings with Baby Beez and our friends to Trax Farms and ZooBoo at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We also did a day-long LOTR movie marathon. I expected it to be fun, but we had SUCH a blast. I can’t wait for our next movie marathon (and I *just* got myself the Harry Potter 8 movie set…)

Despite being undertrained, I powered through the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler in November. It was hard, but I felt good and strong too. I’m already signed up for another 10 miler next spring.  November also brought Baby Beez’s transition into a big girl bed and her decision to ditch diapers. And of course I can’t forget that the PA Conference for Women was also in November, absolutely overflowing with high-achieving career women, sharing their insight and inspiring me to work hard and achieve big.

And now we are in December, bringing this year to a close.  In December I was thrilled by the announcement that I was promoted to Senior Attorney with Clark Hill Thorp Reed (yes, even with lots of fun events going on, I’m also billing a whole lot of hours. The short answer: I have a very complicated calendar).  I also was thrilled to take a Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class with my friend Christine. We also had a fun visit from Mama Nay Nay and Poppy Sam, where Baby Beez got to spend lots of quality time with them.

And here we are, wrapping up 2013. Boy was this a busy year. I knew we had tons of adventures, but it didn’t strike me just how much we were zooming hither and yon until I put it all together in one post.  In 2014 we plan to slow it down.  We’ll be doing considerably less traveling, and do plan to take advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Pittsburgh and neighboring towns.  As Baby Beez gets bigger (and tirelessly reminds everyone who will listen that she is BIG, and not a BABY) she becomes progressively more opinionated about activities, and it’s more fun to do things together with her that she really enjoys.  And I’ll tell you this, she loves going to the movies, and so do Mr. Beez and I, so there are probably plenty of cinema visits in store for 2014.

Here’s

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Good Morning

Hello. It is Saturday Morning. Well, afternoon technically. It’s 12:05. So far I have survived Baby Beez’ ballet class, got a little coffee, and got a little work done. None of this has been easy. Baby Beez is in the “Fighting about Every Darn Thing” phase which involves a lot of screaming and flailing. Plus she’s aggressively cuddly, meaning that she throws elbows and knees in a crazed race to climb into and monopolize my lap. That makes it very hard for me to any work. I got so unbelievably frustrated and irritated that I was yelling too, and had to hide up in the bedroom to get my work done.

I hate being so angry in response to her WANTING to be close to me. I know that the time for her cuddles is limited. And I never want her to feel like I am pushing her aside to get work done. But sometimes I just need a darn hour to revise a Complaint, and she just needs to WAIT one darn hour (watch Tangled again for goodness sake!) and she’ll get all the cuddles she wants. I am thankful for Mr. Beez running interference today. I try to be patient. But try is not always the same as succeed. And when I don’t do as well as I would wish, I’m glad he is there to help out.

So the remainder of today involves holiday parties and writing briefs. I have two very big filings at the end of the year, which is unusual because December is usually a slow month for litigation. Truth be told, I would rather work hard and bank the hours now, and have a little more room to breathe in the warmer months. Winter is not my thing and I don’t mind spending the hours in the warm indoors takin’ care of business.

I’ve been looking forward to the release of the BlogHer Food agenda, ever since BlogHer announced that the conference will take place in Miami this year.  It was released earlier this week, and after much thinking and talking with Mr. Beez and thinking some more, I have decided I am not going to go this year.  This year’s conference has a much more commercial focus than last year. Most of the sessions are tailored towards brand/blogger relations, and people who want to turn their food blogging into a career, whether through a book or company or what have you.  It focuses a lot more on the cooking side of food blogging, and has nothing on the restaurant/food enthusiast side of blogging.  This is not a criticism in the least. The conference provides a totally valuable forum for a huge number of people. It’s just not the right emphasis or approach for my interests, so I decided that my time would be better spent just picking my own weekend to visit Miami at another time. I was considering buying my ticket earlier, but now I’m glad that I held off, because I think the event would not be the right fit for me. Big Summer Potluck is still TOTALLY in the cards, and now that I see that Big Traveling Potluck is only a bit of a drive from my Mom’s house, that too is a possibility….gotta choose FAST though, because tickets go on sale Monday!

During the last few weeks I have gone a little crazy with Amazon purchases (lots of sales!), so I’ve got the following books locked and loaded: The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt). And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini), Burial Rites (Hannah Kent), Orange is the New Black (Piper Kerman), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), Books 2-5 of the Song of Ice And Fire (aka Game of Thrones) (George R.R. Martin). I am also 2% into Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace), but I can only hope to get that read by the end of my life, forget the end of this year.
What do yinz guys have on your nightstands?

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#BlogHer vs. #BlogHerFood — A Comparison

Having now attended both BlogHer and BlogHer Food, I can tell you that these are very different conferences, meeting very different needs, and appropriate for very different audiences.  BlogHer in general is often perceived as a mommyblogger organization, but having spent some time with these women at these events, the demographics are far broader than just that.  I attended BlogHer first and liked the excitement of attending a blogging conference, but in many ways it was not the right conference for me.  I’m still coasting on the excitement from my love of BlogHer Food. 


"Speed dating" networking at BlogHer 2012, look at me in right there in the middle!

“Speed dating” networking at BlogHer 2012, look at me in right there in the middle!


So what are these conferences all about:

BlogHer:

“Best Fit” demographic: This is an excellent conference to attend if you are interested in working with brands and learning the ropes for monetizing your blog.  The focus is very general, so there are bloggers on all kinds of topics.  There are lots and lots of brands there eager to connect with bloggers, and lots and lots of mommybloggers.  If you fit into this demographic, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to meet others who are like-minded and have similar priorities.  This was actually something very frustrating to me, because I am very career focused, and to be blunt I felt like a total fish out of water in this regard. 

Networking:  There are thousands of people there, and not shortage of networking opportunities.  They range from big-name bloggers to people who are interested in blogging but haven’t started the process yet.  People are generally friendly, and although it may seem like everyone knows everyone else, there are tons of newbies.  I did find it hard to strike up conversations at times because I didn’t know where to start.  The subject matter of the conference is so general, that it’s hard to tell if you have anything in common with the person you’re chatting with.  I did find that “So, what do you blog about?” was an easy go-to line for chatting.  I love that there was a “speed dating” session during the first breakfast, because that was an easy way for someone with shy tendencies (see: me) to connect quickly with a lot of people, whom I could follow up with later in the conference.

Sessions:  Sessions are large and fill up quickly.  Since this is a bigger conference, there are often bigger name speakers.  You’ll do well if you have a flexible attitude– have an idea of what sessions you’d like to attend, but be ready to go to another session or skip out and wander around the expo if it runs out of seats.  BlogHer also offers smaller workshops on the nuts & bolts of blogging (how to use wordpress, grammar reviews, etc.) and if you are interested, you should sign up when they begin accepting enrollment online. These only seat like 14 attendees each.

Parties:  There are lots of parties, both conference hosted and sponsor hosted.  If you work with brands, and particularly if you have established the commercial side of your blog, you’ll be wined and dined and have a great time.  For people like me who specifically do not work with brands (due to the nature of my day job), this will probably make you feel left out to see lots of cool stuff coming up on your twitter feed that you weren’t invited to.

BlogHer Food:

“Best Fit” Demographic:  Attendees seemed to be a little more experienced, and although the conference has a food theme, there are many, many variations on this theme.  Many of the attendees have day jobs outside of their blogs.  Maybe it was just the sessions I attended, but the attendees I met seemed to be more focused on improving their content than on monetization/brand relationships.  Sure, monetization/brand relationships were big themes at the conference, but it didn’t seem to be the over-arching primary focus.

Networking:  I liked that we had a common thread as a jump-off point for conversation– food.  The conference is smaller so the crowd is not as overwhelming, but it is still a fairly big crowd.  I really wish they would do the speed dating during breakfast like they did at BlogHer. 

Sessions:  There was plenty of space at the sessions, no one got shut out (even from the limited seating skills workshops).  The quality of the content was amazing.  I heard some grumblings about some of the brand relations sessions being too basic for their expectations, but on the whole I  thought the content was accessible for all levels.

Parties:  There were Friday evening excursions to Austin food destinations, which was ideal because how could you have a food conference in an amazing food city, without going out and HAVING the food? There was also one big closing party, but I didn’t spend much time there.  Yes, there were sponsor-hosted events, but not nearly as many of them, so I didn’t feel as left out.  It is definitely worth mentioning that the conference organizers were very cognizant of food allergies & limitations, and there were gluten free, vegan and other options available at all meals.  Also the conference food on the whole was unusually high quality.

I may or may not attend BlogHer in future years, it’s a toss-up for me.  I really loved BlogHer Food and definitely plan to attend again in the future. I admit- my attitude had a lot to do with the difference in my perspective. I entered BlogHer much more high strung and stressed than I entered BlogHer Food, which resulted in me having a more fun and laid-back time at BlogHer Food.  This is a valuable lesson for me for any conference: take things as they come, roll with the punches, and enjoy the present.

Have you attended either or both of these conferences? What were your thoughts? Which did you prefer? Would you return?

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Pinning It: Reflections on Getting 2 Years of Content Up on Pinterest

Pinning It: Reflections on Getting 2 Years of Content Up on Pinterest

My biggest takeaway from BlogHer Food was that I should use Pinterest as a traffic-driver to this blog. I was mortified that I never thought of this before. I’ve always approached Pinterest as a consumer– lazily browsing through Nordstrom or Anthropologie or what have you and pinning all the adorable clothes I wanted to buy.  It appears I was serving those vendors’ ends, but failed to grasp how Pinterest could work for me. Now I get it. Duh. 

I spent the last few evenings combing through back posts and pinning interesting visuals to Pinterest, which provided a thought-provoking opportunity to review how this blog has evolved over the last two years.  I’ve been blogging for over nine years, but only for two of them on this site.  I always assumed that I had continuity in style, and it was fascinating to see that was not the case.

My approach has changed from one of storytelling to one more similar of traditional reviews.  I truly like the storytelling approach better, and believe it is much more engaging.  This change is a function of time.  As life has become more rushed, I have fallen into a trap of formulaic writing.  That’s not to say readers hate the review approach– probably as a function of Pittsburgh pride, I get a ton of feedback and engagement from my usual “here’s what I ate in Pittsburgh today!” posts.  I do not at all intend to abandon my posts about restaurants, but I’d like to work back in the direction of incorporating some sort of story into my review, if only for the purpose of improving the quality of the content.

There was also a marked change, around the time of BlogHer last year, when I made a point to use (to the extent feasible) all original photos.  My photography skills need a little work, but I feel a lot more confident using my own photos as pins, and even more happy when someone else enjoys them by liking or repinning them.  It’s always nice to get a nod in social media, but it is even more satisfying when it is in response to something you entirely created.

I was also pleased to see that there was some high-quality writing buried in this blog’s early posts.  Looking back at those posts, I remembered how proud I was of particular pieces, and sad that they didn’t get as many views as I would like, because the site was still seeking its footing. 

Right now I’m buzzing with energy from the BlogHer conference and from my reflections on combing through my blog history.  I’ve got big upcoming plans, including (1) Retro posts, i.e. re-posting some of those old, high quality posts, (2) Engagement with other bloggers, I’ve been meaning to set up an interview feature for ages, but haven’t gotten to it, and (3) reading that iPhoneography book so I can step up my photo skills.

Have you ever done a retrospective of your blog? What did you find that pleased or surprised you?