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Monthly Archives: February 2011

New Discoveries

So as I delved into our new book assigned in my Social Media class, I began to think about just how much I’ve learned in the mere five classes that have been held so far this semester. It boggled my mind as I perused my notes and the things we’ve covered. It was exciting to think about, but also totally overwhelming! And cracking open Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail has just perpetuated my amazement of how expansive everything is becoming because of the Internet. And I mean EXPANSIVE!

The Long Tail is defined and coined by Chris Anderson as “the concept of using the efficient economics of online retail to aggregate a large inventory of relatively low sellers.” (Although he does note that the actual concept was created by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.) This concept, as outlined in Anderson’s intro (quoted here) and in the first few chapters of his book helped define a concept to me that I had never actually realized was a concept. It got me thinking about some of the obscure style-related Web sites that I use on a daily basis and how their success and popularity could really only be possible through this “Long Tail” theory. One site in particular, Aprizi, seemed to correlate directly to the words I was reading in Anderson’s book. Aprizi prizes itself on a concept concocted by its founders as a “Pandora for shopping” so to speak. Their  site stemmed from the idea that there really wasn’t a venue for independent/emerging designers on the Internet that made it easy to search for items (and tally your favorites) in one place. In reading their Mission Statement, you clearly see a connection between The Long Tail concept and Aprizi’s online retail concept.

Our professor asked us to think about how we’ll be utilizing social media tools within our blog. I plan to use Aprizi (though it’s not a traditional tool like Facebook) to share with my readers (all four of you!) the things I’m coveting from Aprizi. I hope to give these designers more coverage and to help perpetuate Aprizi’s concept to other fashionistas who haven’t discovered its fabulousity yet!

Click here to see my first set of “Likes” on the Web site. I’ve made my list of things I like public so everyone can see!

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Cupcake Confessions

Most of the people reading this blog (that’s right, all three of you gals…plus my Mom) already know that I have a supreme obsession with those little confections known as mini-cakes (as I like to think of them): i.e. CUPCAKES. When I try to think back to when this obsession really ignited, I like to think that it was before cupcakes were cool and trendy. And most likely it was, but I can’t pinpoint an exact memory of the first time I consumed (and fawned over) a cupcake.

This post is actually in response to a blogger who inspired me (from my Social Media class at Georgetown): abbybakes. Her blog is great  (for many reasons of course, but I personally enjoy reading her down to earth voice and relate-able cooking tidbits…I also love her whimsical design!) and I wanted to give her both some “blog love” and also thank her for motivating me to do a post about something sweet. This week she posted about Bisquick Peanut Butter cookies and I discovered that we both covet baked goods that are a bit undercooked…giving it that soft and gooey texture of scrumptiousness.

SO. Here’s my thing with cupcakes: I have an unruly desire to try out every cupcake shop known to (wo)man wherever I’m visiting. I like to compare and contrast my experiences in different cities. Novel? Not so much. But I was reminded of how much fun I have doing it when I decided on a whim to stop at Carytown Cupcakes on my way out of town from Richmond (where my parents live) back to D.C. yesterday afternoon…

Feliz's reaction to the cupcake box: a nap.

Girlscout-inspired Samoa and Red Velvet

My review of their cupcakes: The Red Velvet was just okay. I thought it was a bit dry and out of all the Red Velvets I’ve tasted, this wouldn’t rank at the top, though I did think the frosting was quite nice! The Girlscout-inspired Samoa was delectable and I consumed it for breakfast this morning. I. Really. Couldn’t. Help. It. It had a toasted coconut and chocolate drizzled top and a caramel filled center. I found this cake to be a bit more moist than the Red Velvet.

Here are some photos of other cupcakes I’ve sampled over the years…

Lavender Moon Cupcakery in Old Town Alexandria, VA

One of the first places I checked out when I moved into my new neighborhood a few weeks ago. On my first visit I purchased a Red Velvet cupcake (not pictured here, sadly…I think I must’ve eaten it before I remembered to take a photo!). It was definitely the best Red Velvet cupcake I’ve had. The woman who served it to me told me that the owner of the bakery uses all natural ingredients and has been working for years to perfect the recipe. Most people use food coloring to get their red velvet cupcakes a bright shade of red, but this was a deeper shade (sans dye) and it was incredibly moist.

An assortment of cupcakes from Lavender Moon

My favorite (the one that’s cut in half) was a Blood Orange Creamsicle cupcake. In a close second is the one right behind it which was a Mexican Chocolate Pudding cupcake. It had hints of cinnamon and a chocolate-filled center. The other two were S’Mores and their signature Flourless Chocolate cupcake. I’ve come to realize after being in denial for a while now I really do prefer non-chocolate-based cupcakes. I’m not sure why, as they’re certainly yummy, but I think they’re a bit too rich for me. The Flourless Chocolate cupcake was quite amazing though and I can see why it is one of their bestsellers.

Clarabelle's Cupcakes in Miami, FL.

I bought a Dealtificate coupon in order to sample these very special (and kosher!) cupcakes. I bought a variety for several celebrations including Tiramisu, Cookies and Cream, S’Mores, and a bunch of Red Velvet, Vanilla and Chocolate mini-cupcakes…

Cupcakes from Stella's Sweet Shoppe in Miami, FL

These were the most beautifully presented cupcakes…on a bed of marshmallows! A chic and wonderful surprise for me from my birthday twin/cupcake partner in crime, Miss Eimear Lambe, who lives in London but coordinated to have them baked and delivered to my birthday party!

A Publix birthday cake made out of...CUPCAKES.

My 27th birthday (in 2009) was made all the more special by my co-workers at the time, who, knowing my affinity for those adorable mini-cakes, decided to have Publix (the supermarket) create a cake comprised of cupcakes. It was, well, amazing! And for those of you who don’t know, Publix has a wonderful bakery and I, for one, love their frosting!

I’m always looking for new places to try, so if you have a suggestion for me, let me know! It doesn’t have to be in D.C. — I like to keep a running list of places to go!

Here’s hoping abbybakes can inspire me to actually start baking my mini-cakes instead of mostly purchasing them 🙂

It’s like this or like that

This week our professor in Social Media asked us to discuss how we plan to let our personality shine through in our own blog while still remaining focused on our blog topic of choice. This, for me, is not a challenge. I think that my personality shines through in each of my postings and has since I created Feliz Is Her Name in July 2010. The one or two girlfriends I have who DO read my blog have told me so, even in personifying Feliz 🙂 Because I tend to write about style or things that inspire me, I don’t find it difficult to make my postings relate-able and fun. The fact that I started this blog before it was an essential part of my grade for a graduate course just reinforces that! **

To be honest, the easiest part of blogging that I have found so far IS the actual composition of my posts. I have a MUCH harder time with the technical aspects of blogging and often find myself overwhelmed when I sit down to jazz up my blog with bells and whistles (that are, in reality, just regular stuff I should have on my blog if I want to make it successful). I know WordPress is supposed to be extremely easy (or so everyone says!), but I find all of the categories and options on my Dashboard to be totally overwhelming. I have no idea what Akismet means or what Extras I’m supposed to add. Am I alone on this? I’ll follow everything we discuss in class, take notes, Google “how to do X, Y or Z” and STILL find myself perplexed.  This has been very frustrating!

But what has been amazing to me is how in the book we’re been reading for class, Say Everything, the author (Scott Rosenberg) manages to make the world of blogging (and its evolution/revolution) accessible and fairly easy to understand. I have found it fascinating how much of an impact a blog and its followers has been able to make, especially in the political arena. I’m still dumbfounded as to how an individual with a single voice attains so many followers! (This may seem naïve, but seriously, it still shocks me!)

The part of the book that made the most impact on me came with the idea that in the early 2000s bloggers in fact were catching and divulging breaking stories before the mainstream press. Rosenberg stated: “Whatever the cause, the slow uptake…reinforced the feeling among many bloggers that the mainstream press was missing major stories right under its collective nose.” This particular concept got me thinking and when I found a story on ABCnews.com about how the White House is handling social media versus traditional media coverage of the President, it just reinforced the idea that the mainstream press continues to lose steam. (As a traditionally-trained journalist, I’m not sure how that makes me feel! But more on that later…) Here’s a link to the story.

**One thing I DO find challenging though (as I’ve discovered over the past few weeks) is that I’m having a hard time tying the topics we’re covering in class and in our reading into my own desire to focus on style and things that inspire me. I will need to work harder to figure out how to do so in a graceful manner, because as of now, it seems that I am only able to blog about one or the other!

Channeling your heart

So, even though we’ve moved on to our Week 4 reading assignment, a quote from The Cluetrain Manifesto’s Chapter Three (from Week 3) has really stayed with me:

“People channel from their hearts directly to their words. That’s voice. It comes of focus, attention, caring, connection, and honesty of purpose. It is not commercially motivated, isn’t talk with a vested interest…The human voice reaches directly into our beings and touches our spirits.” -Rick Levine

This particular quote resonated with me because I realized how Levine’s definition of voice is so incredibly relevant to blogging. In MPPR850 this week, we were asked to think about how we listen and identify the online sites and communities that are most important to us…and which blogs we choose to read have a steady influence on our own opinions and musings. I began to think about how in identifying the bloggers whom we most enjoy following, it’s really their voice that we are first drawn to. We (usually) don’t know these bloggers, but there is something about their voice that we identify with and feel comforted by. You know immediately upon reading a blog if you like the person’s “voice” and their manner of speaking and sharing information. Beautiful Web design, Widgets galore, and fancy bells and whistles are enticing, but if you don’t vibe with the person’s thoughts/rants/reflections/inspirations, the blog simply won’t “do it” for you, no matter how pretty the page is or how many followers the blogger has. Now, perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but blogging has come such a long from the 90s and I find it fascinating how many blogs we have to choose from now and how there really is something for everyone. Truly! It’s exciting to think about how many blogs out there I have yet to discover…kindred voices waiting to be heard!

I do have a confession to make, though. While I do have my own blog and I’m constantly inspired by readings others’ (especially with the push of taking this class!), I don’t consistently follow a ton of blogs. It’s something I hope to accomplish over the next few months — making it a habit with the help of RSS 🙂 Now that I’m in a new city with so much to explore, I believe reading blogs will be a useful tool for me to utilize as I make D.C. my own!

Here are a few style blogs I happen to adore:

Cupcakes and Cashmere

The Coveteur

The Purse Blog

The Glamourai

My Manifesto

To give you a little background on my blog: You should know that I started it over the summer at the urging of close friends who encouraged me (for several years) to start a style blog. I finally did create one (after some technical difficulties on Tumblr), but have not been consistent in my postings for oh so very many reasons.

INSERT MY MEGA LIFE CHANGE HERE:

Feliz's attempt to help pack boxes...

So I’m now living in D.C., having officially moved here on Saturday (to an actual apartment, that is) to attend grad school at Georgetown. I’m taking a class on Social Media and it’s part of our classwork to keep up a blog throughout the semester. Since I haven’t been doing feliz is her name justice, I figured I’d keep the same blog name and see how it evolves over the next few months through my studies.

I had initially intended for my blog to be strictly about fashion, how it inspires me and its impact on my daily life; however, as I started blogging over the summer, I realized that there were lots of things that make an impact on my daily life that I wanted to share — so I decided to stretch my material. Feliz (my dog, and the inspiration for my blog name) is someone who brings me joy on a daily basis AND is a topic of conversation that I never grow weary of. Ever. So, with that said, I’d like to continue blogging about the things I find joyous or interesting or odd or creepy or fantastic or thought-provoking — all part of my daily education as a human being. Here I go!

“But, of course, the best of the people in PR are not PR Types at all.” -Doc Searls & David Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto


I had a particularly strong reaction to the first reading assignment we had for class. Our professor asked us to read chapters three and four of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. Not sure what I’d discover, I sat down at my computer and started to read. So while I’m obviously not going to summarize the reading (because hello, you can read the entire book online for free!) I would like to mention the section of the reading that resonated the most with me. In Chapter 4, there is a section entitled “Private Relations.” I almost fell off my chair when I started reading it because it is the exact sentiment I have always felt about PR. My thinking goes like this: I started out as a reporter in my formative (writing) years post-college. I have always felt a sort of calling to writing  and have taken pride in the process of producing a strong story. Once I began to establish myself in South Florida, I became bombarded with publicists left and right who were peddling their product to me, incessantly. I grew a strong distaste for their approach to “reaching” me and it left a negative impression on me. My older sister just happens to be a well-seasoned publicist, of course. And when I shared with her my thoughts on the dealings I continually had with public relations people she seemed surprised by my reaction. We’ve had an ongoing dialogue for several years and there actually came a point in my career when I was offered a PR Manager position with a non-profit I was already working for as a writer. The job was pretty amazing on several levels, so I accepted the position. I vowed I would never, ever be the type of publicist that I abhorred working with. Being in-house for a ballet company was definitely different than had I been working for a boutique firm. I was truly passionate about our dancers (and their stories) so it didn’t feel like selling to me. Additionally, my “product” basically sold itself. But, I am still wary of taking on the title of publicist in my future. I feel that there is something car salesman-like about the way PR people deal with media. I know it isn’t fair to generalize, but my five years working as a journalist in Miami gave me a lot of perspective on how I want to be perceived when I delve further into PR and Corporate Communications, which is a natural progression for me career-wise (more on that later). The final paragraph in this section inspired me and reminded me that there is a way to distinguish myself in the public relations realm…

What are your thoughts on the people you’ve encountered in public relations? Have they struck you to be similar to how the authors in The Cluetrain Manifesto summed them up?