Feliz Navidad con @MiCricket

It's a Twitter Party... I mean FIESTA!! Cricket Logo

We’re having a fiesta/party sponsored by Cricket Wireless! The pan dulce is on the trays... the sweet tamales are out of the oven... and the rompope is being poured! Que falta? What’s missing?

YOU!

Join me and other Latinas on Twitter next Tuesday, December 13 for the #CricketContigo Fiesta de Navidad / Christmas Twitter Party to talk about family, staying connected during the holidays and @MiCricket, a leading wireless provider that gives its customers great service and perks like:

  • Global Local Number that allows Cricket customer’s to set up a local number in more than 40 different countries, including the United States and Mexico, so that those calling you are charged for a local call NOT long distance!
  • 2 new international rate plans, a Mexico rate plan and a global rate plan. Both plans include unlimited local talk and US long distance, domestic and global messaging AND mobile web.

We’ll be tweeting in English and Spanish so feel free to tweet in whatever language you feel comfortable in! So for my Spanish speaking sweeties ---> ¡Vamos a estar twiteando en Inglés y Español, así que usa el idioma en el que te sientas mas cómodo!

Follow the Hostesses!

Follow the lovely host and co-hosts of the #CricketContigo Fiesta de Navidad Twitter Party below:

Pre-Tweet and Win!

Anyone who tweets this post from now until the #CricketContigo Fiesta de Navidad / Christmas Twitter Party will be eligible to win a $100 American Express gift card. Winner announced during the party.

RSVP HERE!

Disclosure: This is a paid campaign created in collaboration with Stiletto Media and Cricket Wireless.

Burgers and Beaujolais

My litmus test when buying a new top or heels is "can I wear this with jeans?" I have a similar test for my red wines. "Will this taste good with a burger?" Yes, dear readers, I am quite the snooty sommelier!

Last night, I hosted a WineTwits live tasting event: Burgers with a Side of Beaujolais.

Hosts throughout the country were sent three George Duboeuf wines to sample with friends at our own cookouts. We were also sent three different burger recipes to taste with each wine. We were given the option of making all three burgers or just our own. For the sake of keeping things simple, we stuck to our favorite burger blend. When time permits, I'll be going back to try the rest of the recipes. (All recipes below).

During our eating and tasting, my guests and I shared our thoughts on the wines on Twitter with our followers. We followed the other tasters' comments from across the country on Twitter, too. You can see more comments than the ones here by doing a search on Twitter using the hashtag, #GDandBurgers.

The first wine was a Beaujolais-Villages (suggested burger: Angus Burger). I enjoyed the light, berry/cherry flavor of the BV. It had just a hint of spiciness keeping it from being too sweet.

The next wine was the Julienas Chateau de Capitans (suggested burger: Turkey Sliders w/Sun Dried Tomato Basil). This wine was darker, a deep reddish purple with a thicker consistency. Sniffing this wine, you could almost smell the oak barrels. While sipping, I had a random thought: "I bet this would taste good with chocolate!" We set our burgers aside for a moment and broke out a few pieces of chocolate. Yep! It definitely was a good mix.

Our final wine was the Brouilly (suggested burger: Portabella Mushroom). This wine was a deep, dark, almost black purple. I had to inhale pretty deeply before I smelled the black licorice. The taste was dry, smooth, mellow. Just as with the aroma, the taste eluded me at first, until I caught it at the back of my throat. This one definitely tasted great with my burger, but I probably wouldn't drink it alone.

My guests enjoyed the burger mix I put together, so I thought I'd share it here. I don't have exact measurements. I'm a season-to-taste kind of cook, so my "recipe" is just parts. You decide how much of each tastes good to you.

Mix the following ingredients together:

  • Ground Beef
  • McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Bread Crumbs
  • 1 egg

Don't be shy on the seasoning and sauce. I know I told you I don't measure, but I'm going to say 1/3 cup of each of those to 2 lbs. of beef.

Here are the Burger recipes for the party (with exact measurements) created by Chef Bob Waggoner of PBS' Ucook with ChefBob.

All recipes serve 2.

ANGUS BURGER

Ingredients:

  • 2 regular sesame buns
  • Angus ground beef - 16 oz
  • Red heirloom tomato - 4 slices
  • Vidalia onion - 4 slices
  • Smoked bacon
  • Fresh rosemary - 1 tablespoon
  • Peeled shallots - 3 diced thinly
  • Butter lettuce - 1/2 a small head
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground white pepper to taste
  • Aged white cheddar cheese - 2 oz - diced

Directions:

In a small saute pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Add shallots and cook for 3 more minutes on low. Add the chopped rosemary and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from pan and let sit at room temperature.

Form 4 thin patties of beef approximately 4 oz each. Then place bacon, shallot and rosemary mix on top of 2 of the patties. Add diced cheddar, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Cover with other parry. Pinch the sides together to form one big burger. Salt and pepper the top of the patty.

Grill. When burgers are almost done, grill buns.

On the bottom bun, place the burger, Vidalia onion rings, tomato rounds, and lettuce.

TURKEY BURGER SLIDERS w/ SUN DRIED TOMATO & BASIL

Ingredients:

  • Ground Turkey meat (15% fat) - 1/2 lb.
  • Sun Dried tomato - 2 oz
  • Shallots - 3 each - thinly sliced
  • Medium sized garlic cloves - 3 each - thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil - 8 large leaves - roughly chopped
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Water - 1 1/2 cups
  • Baby Arugula - 1/2 cup
  • Red Onion - 4 slices
  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • Mini Pita Pockets - 4 - split in half
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground White Pepper to taste
Directions:
In a 10 inch saute pan, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sundried tomato. Add 1 tsp of salt, 3 cranks of fresh ground white pepper, and 1 1/2 cups of water and let simmer until all water is evaporated. Add copped basil, remove from pan and set aside. Leave at room temperature.
Form 4 small patties using 1/2 lb. of turkey meat. Salt and pepper both sides. Gently grill for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes per side, depending on temperature of your grill. Grill the red onion slices at the same time. Just befoe the burgers are done, lightly grill the pita pocket that you have split in half. When the burge is cooked, place a small amount of arugula in the bottom of the pita. Top with a turkey patty and arrange your slider with the grilled red onions and the sun dried tomato basil mixture.

GRILLED PORTABELLA BURGER

Ingredients:

  • 2 large portabella mushrooms - stems removed, gills scraped
  • Fresh thyme - 2 tsp
  • Green onions - 4 each
  • Yellow tomato - 4 slices
  • Large eggplant - 4 round slices
  • 2 Kaiser rolls
  • Beaujolais wine - 4 tbsp
  • Olive oil - 4 tbsp
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground white pepper to taste
Directions:
Gently drizzle the olive oil over the sliced tomatoes, eggplant, and green onions. Salt and pepper all. Gently grill and set aside - 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Salt and pepper portabella mushroom. With a small paring knife, make checkerboard cuts gong halfway into the mushroom. Drizzle 2 tbsp each of Beaujolais onto each mushroom and let it seep in for 2 min. Add a tiny bit of olive oil on the mushrooms and grill for 2 1/2 minutes on each side.
Once pulled from grill, sprinkle with fresh thyme. Gently grill Kaiser Roll. Stack portabella mushroom, tomato, green onions, and eggplant on the Kaiser Roll.

Cheers!

No One Can Hear You Scream OR Thank God for Twitter and Facebook

I lost my voice. If you know me, you know that's like my personal hell. I talk all the time. From the minute I wake up, I'm processing stuff. And if anyone is near me, I'll process all over them. I'll talk about the strange dreams I had about broken windows and people trying to get into my house. I'll talk about all the things I need to do that day. I go down to the water for some quiet time, talking all the way. I'll sit quietly for a moment... aaahhhh... then I'm back to walking and talking, and processing all over again.

But not today. Today, it's all quiet, all day.  I sit here, mute, unable to use my voice, with just a cowbell to ring for help. It's so frustrating that all I want to do is scream... BUT. I. CAN'T!

Do you know what that feels like?

It feels a whole lot like this:

[caption id="attachment_906" align="aligncenter" width="237" caption="Edvard Munch "The Scream""][/caption]

Thank God, I have Twitter. And Facebook. And, on ocassion, the spinning circles of Google Plus. On days like today, when I can't chew people's ears off, I'm on-line in a somewhat more, how you say, obsessive/compulsive manner. I suppose my timing couldn't be more perfect. See, tonight, I'm doing something I don't do very often. I'm going to be part of, not one, but TWO chats!

The Children's Place Million Fan Party

As The Children’s Place closes in on their 1 Millionth Facebook fan, they want to celebrate the milestone with their fans by throwing a party with some of Hollywood’s hottest moms (including Denise Richards!) and a handful of fashion writers from mom and kid friendly online destinations.

And also some crazy bloggers.

If you aren’t a fan of The Children’s Place on Facebook yet, become one now, and party with us tonight. The more the merrier! From 9pm-10pm EST, we’re inviting fans to join us for a Facebook Fiesta live chat hosted on The Children’s Place Facebook page where our celebrity mom and fashion editor co-hosts will chat with all our fans in an open forum about all things fashion, family and fun in the summer months.

You can join the chat on the Million Fan Party tab!

Burgers with a Side of Beaujolais

This one is going to be lots of fun!

3 Burgers, 3 Ways, 3 Wines... one perfect summer night!

My friends at WineTwits are hosting a live event tonight. Several of us were sent wines to taste at home with friends along with three burger recipes to pair them with. Follow along with us on Twitter using the party hashtag, #GDandBurgers. And if you have any special burger toppings or suggestions, share with the partiers!

While I'm insanely frustrated with not being able to speak, I'm so glad I can still chat with all my friends on-line.

See you tonight!

The People's Rules of Blogging

Sometimes, I get really irritated. Things that set me off are kind of random. Having to repeat myself. People cutting in line. Teachers sending my genius kids home with ridiculous amounts of homework. Some random stranger telling me to be fair. Why would I get upset about fairness?

This is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Last week, I was tweeted at by a local store owner. I'm assuming she found me by way of the opening of the new Whole Foods in Encinitas. I was so excited about that gem of a store opening, I couldn't keep my mouth shut! I had also tweeted around the same time that an H&M was opening up in Carlsbad. I was thrilled that our remote part of San Diego was finally getting some downtown amenities.

So in the middle of my elation, this random boutique owner pops in and pokes a big shiny pin into my high flying balloon.

There was no "Hello, neighbor!" No "I've been following you and I think you're awesome/beautiful/amazing/hilarious." No "Hey, Sugar... I'd like to invite you in..." Nope. Just something to the effect of, "Hey, since you wrote about H&M, it's only fair to write about my shop." At first, I thought, when did I write the H&M post? Was I drinking? Medicated? Both? After I remembered that I had not written about the store, but merely shared it in a tweet or two, I replied to this person saying just that. I tried to move on, but I just sat there, growing more and more irritated. I was rather stunned that someone would tell me what I should write on my own blog in the name of fairness. So I did what I usually do when someone irritates me like that.

I went off on Twitter about it.

I'm sure she thinks I'm a complete ass now, but you know what? I don't care! And as interesting as her store sounds, I'll never go in there now. She made a horrible first impression on me by approaching me like that. All I can picture now is a spoiled little Nellie Olsen pitching a fit. After cleansing my soul on Twitter, I felt a twinge of regret. I thought I might have been too harsh about the situation... but I wasn't really. I was being honest. And you know what else? I was right! It's MY blog. I don't HAVE to be fair! I have the freedom to write whatever. I. want. Just like Shop Girl gets to choose what she sells in her store. That's not fair or unfair.

It's just life!

There are so many unspoken rules that people want to impose on us everyday. They're not laws, so much as they are just things that everybody does in order to fit in and get along. Most social mores are innocuous. Sometimes, they're just plain silly. But other times, they begin to impinge on our rights to be ourselves. I guess... no, I know that's why I went off on Shop Girl. I get really rashy when other people's shoulds start to take over my thoughts and words and I find myself doing or saying things in order to avoid offending anyone, even perfect strangers.

A question came up in a Facebook group that I'm a member of. A new blogger wanted to know how to keep up on blogging. She wanted to know if any of us had schedules and how to follow them. Before anyone popped up with a strict editorial schedule idea, I shared that I follow the old non-rule of "Write when you have something to say." Others had some more defined answers for her, but really, there wasn't a lot of shoulding. We're a pretty awesome group like that. One recommendation, however was to read Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. When I saw that comment, the rebel in me was all, RULES? I BREAK RULES FOR BREAKFAST!!

But then I had the pleasure of hanging out with co-author, C.C. Chapman.

On the first night of our Forward with Ford event, we were talking about all of this. He emphatically agreed with my "when you have something to say" non-rule. But we also talked about how we do seem to have quite a bit of somethings to say, and that maybe organizing those random thoughts somehow was a good idea. We left the conference with a copy of Content Rules as a gift from the very generous Scott Monty. Ignoring the rebellious teen inside my head, I decided to read the book on the flight home.

In Chapter 11, I found a list of blogging guidelines that are very hard to argue about:

1. Define your purpose. 2. Set a reliable schedule. 3. Mix it up! 4. Move beyond the written word. 5. Size matters. (hehehe... sorry... twelve inside...) 6. Learn how to write killer headlines. 7. Design is important. 8. Create momentum. 9. Consider comment moderation. (YES!) 10. Categorize and tag everything. 11. Write the way you speak. (Yes, yes, YESSSSS!!!) 12. Don't overthink. (or, as your old buddy Shoog would say, "Don't overnoodle it.")

In the book, the authors expand on these guidelines (not rules) one at a time. Note that number two says to set a "reliable" schedule. What does that mean? Ann and C.C. say, "That's entirely up to you and your ambition and calendar, but at least twice a week is optimal." How long should those posts be? The authors suggest, "Long enough to say what you need to say, but not too long... You want to make them long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting."

Content Rules goes into podcasting, vlogging, and other media. They give great advice for webinars and ebooks, as well. The book is written in a way that's easy to read, as though you are being coached by a friend who's been there and succeeded. Reading through the book, I never found a khaki colored chapter called People's Rules of Blogging for Awesome Comrades.

Barring content like threats to government officials or defaming innocent people, we can pretty much write whatever we want. You don't HAVE to write about a store you've never been to just because some harpy Shop Girl thinks you need to be fair. It's your blog. Don't let anybody ever tell you what to write there!

*deep breath*

Anyway... go buy the book. It's pretty awesome. Although my copy is cooler than the copy you'll have. My copy is signed by C.C. Or as I like to call him...

"Chippy."

Looking Forward with Ford

I'm at Ford corporate headquarters in Dearborn right now. I'm being overwhelmed with information, but it's all good stuff. There are nearly 200 writers here learning about how Ford is using future trends to shape their cars and the way they do business. Among the trends we're covering are Youth Influence, Aging Population, and Emerging Technologies. Last night, we were treated to the words of Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, Brink, and Outliers. I don't think I can express to you how very incredibly geeked out I was to meet him! Seeeeee...

Malcolm talked about a paradigm shift that occurred in the 70s that has created circumstances that we are all experiencing today. Later that night, over drinks with the other social media folks here, we talked about what he had to say and all agreed that we were all nodding our heads about what he was saying. What was he saying? I'll have that up later this week. If you're not already subscribed to my feed or signed up to get my posts via email, please do so. I wouldn't want you to miss what he had to say. It's important.

In one of the sessions this morning, we discussed Millenials and what they are expecting from companies. Funny, but I identified with so much of what they want. Is it because I have children that age? Is it because I live in California where that sort of thinking has been around for a while? I'm not sure. I just remember nodding my head at all the talk of simplifying life, to the point of changing the idea of car ownership. I'm still Gen X enough to want my own car, but for the next generation of drivers, sharing is becoming more acceptable. My daughter in San Francisco is a member of the Zip Car service. Whenever she needs a car, it's there. But the rest of the time, she's on her bike, taking the Muni, or walking. She avoids a large car payment, monthly parking fees, and maintenance costs. Of course that's all built into the Zip service, but not to the extent that a car owner realizes those costs.

We also talked about people returning to urban living. This is a big one for me. I would LOVE to live where I can work and play and take an elevator downstairs to the market. If you go to the cool new neighborhoods in San Diego's downtown area, you'll find blocks and blocks of really beautiful buildings, hip and modern, rising to the sky. On the ground floors are cafes, markets, stores, and offices. The area, once semi-abandoned, is becoming a place that people are not just going to for work or a night out at the newest restaurant, but also a place to call home. Why are we feeling more comfortable about living in denser environments? According to sociologists and trend analysts, we're becoming more tolerant because of our global neighborhood: the internet.

That takes me to all the emerging technologies. Oh wow... I don't think I'll ever want to leave my car. And the safety presentation was another great session filled with information on how Ford is working to keep drivers and passengers safer. There's a lot to share, including a video on booster seats for kids that parents will want to see. Too much to add into this post. But I'll save that for tomorrow... after we go see an actual crash test!

There's a lot going on in the world right now. So many shifts and changes. It's great to see an "old" company like Ford be so active about the future of not only their own brand and business, but the lives of their drivers now and into the future.

~~~

You can follow the conversation on Twitter: #FordTrends