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“Deep” Takeaways from BlogHer ’14

Squishy potties are a win!

Marketing folks, listen up. If ever you have the opportunity to share your product with a convention center teeming with 2,000 women (many of whom are likely mothers), hand out squishy potties. Perhaps even if you’re not a toilet paper company, like AngelSoft here. Two of these suckers made for the best present-brought-home-from-a-trip ever for the boys.


AngelSoft squishy potties from BlogHer ’14

They went bananas over them all morning, pretending to poop in and shove a squishy, Lysol-branded bus in them. At one point, the two potties became confused: whose was whose? Oliver immediately freaked out and started crying Alice-(in Wonderland)-when-she’s-big tears; giant, sloshing droplets over the unknown. Jack chose one, Oliver freaked out again, now because of certainty that in fact that one was his, and ultimately I hid them behind my back and made them choose hands. I deigned to write a “J” on the one Jack picked so as to avoid this lunacy later -squishy potties, y’all- but Ol insisted I still had it wrong.

Bleary-eyed husband, in a stroke of parental genius, took both potties, pretended to ably rub the offending “J” off of “Oliver’s” potty, hand the same unmarked one back to Ol, “write” a “second” J atop Jack’s and appease Oliver. Good god.

Anyway, long story short marketers, squishy potties are beloved. And if you don’t believe me, check the BlogHer ’14 attendees feed on Facebook.

Panties and refrigerators are confusing!

Now, Samsung, on the other hand surely wishes it had a do-over. Ooo-eee on this typo in a refrigerator pamphlet given out to many of those 2,000 women. CoolSelect Panties, eh? Fantastic! Just what I want in my sleek new fridge. Doesn’t your heart break a little for the person in charge of editing this thing; you know he/she had seen it a million times and just ran right over the missing “r.” #whenspellcheckdoesnthelpyou


oops, Samsung

Breath spray that makes you want to barf is NOT a win!

Lastly, and this only has to do with BlogHer in the since that I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t think I might need breath spray in the middle of the day out there, I must steer you away from this horrible product: Hello supermint breath spray. I tried it twice, and both attempts made me think I was surely going to throw up in my own mouth. Just a little, but that is certainly not what you want in a breath-enhancing product, you know? I got it at CVS. Please don’t do this to yourself, people.


revolting breath spray

My husband will not be giving the children vegetables

That’s really all there is to this last point.


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Dearest Readers,

Happy Monday! As was the case last July after BlogHer ’13, I’m home now (from BlogHer ’14) full of inspiration and empowered enthusiasm. For a long while, I’ve been musing about an Em-i-lis redesign; same content, same feel, but upgraded and updated.

I know I want a better recipe management system so that recipes can be posted in multiple categories (ex: salads and mains…) as well as a way to better highlight photographs. What I’d like to know, before embarking on this exciting yet time-consuming project, is what you’d like. What do you enjoy and wish to remain the same? What could be better? A reader recently told me she found it hard to search for recipes, so I’ve updated the search so that you can search by post OR recipe. Great suggestion, and I was grateful. So, let me know. What would make your reading experience better? Easier? How does the site transition to your mobile devices?

Quite a few of you seem to prefer contacting me directly (versus leaving comments). Of course that is great, and if you’d like to shoot me an email or DM via Twitter or Facebook, feel free. Otherwise, please leave any and all of your ideas in the comment section here.

Many thanks!! Em-i-lis



Shut the front door, y’all! The Painted Reed is on my first flight back home. Isn’t that insane? Now Betsy, where are you?


Overwhelmingly inspired by the tidal wave o’ information that rushed over me yesterday during Day 1 of BlogHer ’14, I fell into a fast, deep sleep when my head touched down on the landing strip of Comfy Hotel Bed (CHB in airport parlance) last night. Actually, there was an interlude at The Grill which included an attempted dinner with my own bad self, a too-pungent crab cake and a guy who sat down at my table with no invitation beyond a single onion ring dropping from a butter knife hilt. Really, dude? But I digress.

I awoke this morning with no idea where I was or what day it was but with the definite feeling that I best get up and get ready because exciting shit was coming down the pike towards me. In the shower I realized that the exciting s&*# was Day 2 of BlogHer ’14, and damn was I excited. I dried my hair, untucked my t-shirt just so (cuz I’m fashionable, y’all), deftly applied some mascara to my lashes (read: I only had to Q-tip undereye smear once) and 85 Band-Aids to my bulbous toes and headed off to get a extremely large, multishot latte before hightailing it to the conference.

Coffee in hand, I exited Bijan and immediately spied -despite not having my glasses! In admiration we can see!- Elisa Camahort Page, one of the BlogHer founders and generally impressive woman. Before I could check myself, I hauled ass over to her and started babbling, quite possibly incoherently, with appreciation and enthusiasm. It’s possible I said something like, “I feel like I’m meeting a celebrity!” or an equally lame, especially for not-yet-8am, greeting. She could not have been more gracious and proceeded to walkwith me to the convention center, chatting gamely all the while. Bless your heart, Elisa; I both thank you and apologize. I was Leaning In!?

Once inside, I confessed my behavior to a new friend and ate entirely too many scrambled eggs before again hearing from incredible speakers (Barb Dybwad!) and voluntarily walking into a firing squad of awesome knowledge dispersal.

  • Arianna Huffington! My reaction, in addition to, I love you, AHuff and Go Girl: “Her belief that ‘We have a much better understanding of the state of our smart phones than the state of our beings.” is too often true.” and we do need to “stop glamorizing being busy” and instead rage against the fact that “Being tired has become the new normal.”

    Arianna schools guy

  • WordPress Best Practices! My reaction: “Shit, why did I study religion in college?????!!! I need to code, y’all, and I don’t even know what CSS stands for.”
  • Kerry Washington! My reaction: “She is gorgeous and sincerely places her palms together when she thanks someone. She’s like a yogic supermodel of awesomeness.”


  • Morra Aarons-Mele! My reaction: “YES!! to ‘I am done with begging and I am done with fluff.” as she spoke about women in politics and beyond whilst being pregnant.”

And on and inspirationally on…

As I looked around, and tried to introduce myself and be present in somewhat less overt ways than racing up to Elisa Camahort Page on a San Jose street arse-early in the morning, I found myself … racing the eff up to Elan Morgan to freaking stalker-approach yet another super impressive woman and ask for her damn card while saying something burbly about how great she was in the panel.

My new friend, privy to the morning stalker admission and witness to this evening one, made me feel tons better by asking if I’d snap a picture of her with one of her inspirations (Katherine Stone), and I started to remember and really believe the messages we’ve been hearing for the past 24 hours: Be Bold; We’re Your Tribe; Lean on Us Because We’re Here; and If You See a Hole, Fill It.

As if we’re a bunch of Lady Nikes, let’s Just do it!

So, thank you Elisa and Elan and Kim and Thien-Kim and Rita and Julie and Jory and Lisa and Feminista and Barb, Tig, Arianna, A’Driane, Richelle, Kara, Melissa, Jenny, Kristen, Amy B in absentia, and on and woman-on, thank you. Over and out, BlogHer ’14.


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You know what’s unfortunate? The French word for shower: douche. I mean, isn’t that such a Romance language #fail? French is am incredibly melodic tongue. Even though I can neither speak it -despite years of study- nor understand it, hearing it roll forth rapidement makes me want to take a roll in the hay.

Except when I get into a warm bath and see Gel Douche scrawled across my lovely bottle of fancy-schmantz body wash. I do not, then, want to slather my body in it. Which is a bummer, because how often do I have the opportunity for a proper bath during which interruption by small children who wish to cast their eyes upon mom “nibbles” is impossible? Rarely.

Anyway, today, Day 1 of, was an exceedingly full and enriching one at BlogHer ’14. I returned to my hotel room a full twelve hours after leaving it and did so exhausted in the tremendous way one is after learning, processing and interacting much.

My two primary take-aways from the impressive array of bloggers, editors, grammaticians, authors, comedians, businesswomen and one man from which I heard are thus.

1. We are all struggling with something, simply trying to be both authentic and heard AND (I’m sorry Rita Arens and Arnebya Herdon but I cannot bring myself to use the Oxford comma) realize our truest selves.

In light of that effort,

2) We must be bold. We must be brave. We must believe in ourselves and our truths. We must honor those and seek support in doing so. Down with the naysayers, up with the hands that lift.

From today:

“I’m not for everyone, and that’s good.” – Jenny Lawson, The Blogess

“Be who you are without apology.” and “When you are yourself, you give others the space to be themselves.” – Anita Jackson, MomsRising

“By sharing truths, we say how things could be.” – Deb Rox, Deb On the Rox

“Food is history, chemistry, biology and culture. It loves and heals, gives and sustains life.” – Elise Bauer
“Listen up, bloggers. Nobody cares what you had for lunch today.” – Food & Wine, 2006
“You just don’t get it. At all.” – Elise Bauer

“The more I blogged, the more I became familiar with ME.” – Alexandra Rosas, Good Day, Regular People


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Away I went

I feel like I left home eons ago (cab did pick me up at 4:15am so I am going on many an hour now), but I am thrilled to be in San Jose for BlogHer ’14. My hotel room is so large, so clean, so quiet, so pretty. I even have a vanity with a mirror and sweet little bench where I can sit and style.my.hair. Can you hear my smile? And check my view- palm trees, the pool, and though you can’t much see them, the mountains in the distance.


view from my room

I just FaceTimed with the boys and found that Oliver had “accidentally” locked himself in my bathroom for a full five minutes and did “feel very scared.” Jack added, “He was crying his lungs out!!!!” Let it be known that just last week I told Oliver not to lock himself in there because if something happened, I would not be able to get to him as there is only one door and it’s a one-way lock. I’m so happy for further evidence that the boys take in, trust and heed my advice.

Not. I mean, he did sing this song of his own authoring just a few days ago. Ol “doesn’t know anything”

Anyway, Tom got home and helped the sitter free Oliver if I understood the story. He was fine when we talked, and both boys were lolling about on my bed, dirty as get out and showing me their bottoms. Did I mention that I’m going to enjoy this lovely hotel for the next three nights?

This afternoon, I attended a Merck-sponsored presentation on their ten-year/$500 million commitment to ending maternal mortality worldwide: Merck for Mothers.

Three tragic and sobering statistics amongst many:

  • Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications experienced during pregnancy and/or childbirth;
  • In America, the death rate from pregnancy- and/or childbirth-related complications has nearly doubled in the past two decades;
  • The U.S. falls behind 63 other countries in maternal mortality rankings. Our global rank is WORSE than 63 other countries, putting us in the top echelon among developed nations. Not a point of pride!

Here in the U.S., three leading causes of maternal death are preeclampsia, pulmonary embolism and postpartum hemorrhage. Most of these deaths are preventable, and Merck is working to make sure we count maternal deaths in a systematic way (not current practice), create clear treatment protocols for emergent women (in the way all ERs are trained to treat heart attacks) bleeding, convulsing and dying of clots, track data to better understand the rise in maternal deaths, become better able to help women at a community level so that a last-gasp trip to the ER isn’t the only option and scale best practices for greater impact.

Dr. Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers, is a seriously impressive and impassioned woman/physician/force of nature. I think the program is in excellent hands.


Em, Dr. Agrawal, two BlogHer women at Merck for Mothers presentation


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