Sunday, October 31, 2010

Social Media "experts"

It seems like there are quite a few social media "experts" out there. Wow! That is impressive seeing that social media (as we know it today) has only been around for a few years and has only within the last 2 - 3 years experienced the explosive growth that now makes it such a hot topic. Apparently this growth is also giving birth to experts at every turn. Thank GOD we now have someone to turn to for advice.

On the serious side, there actually are individuals and firms that are more knowledgeable than the average Joe-Schmoo about social media. They DO understand strategy, statistics, monitoring, analysis, ROI, etc.; they generally know what works, what doesn't and can offer useful advice.

I was able to meet with a PR firm that specialized in Social Media only for a project I am working on for my day job. (Many PR firms are branching out to include Social Media strategy in their service offering, but there now are also PR firms dedicated to Social Media alone cropping up). To be honest I was not expecting much from the firm but was very pleasantly suprised - they were knowlegeable, understood the different aspects of what social media is and what a company would be looking for in executing a social media strategy, from risks and challenges to benefits and growth. Their client list was impressive for such a young organization (young both in the estimatged age of the staff - 20's - and in how long the firm had been in existence).

There are a few people on the net and/or twitter who I would also consider experts in the field of social media. These individuals usually have a large following, post useful content on various sites with tips that work, and are considered by others to be experts in social media. These people will be quoted in articles, speaking at conferences and posting frequent, reputable content to their twitter accounts, facebook pages, blogs or other. These people are for real.....

Then there are the other ones. These are the people on twitter who will post about helping you get "10,000 followers", yet they themselves only have 99. These same people will post about the millions of dollars you can make on twitter and how successful it has been for them. If you look closely though, you will notice that their account is less than a week old.

Many of these are also the same people who will open 50 twitter accounts. You can tell it is the same person based off of the timing of the account being opened, avatar, username or tweets - all of the sudden you will have 50 new followers but it is very obviously one individual. It is a PITA to remove and block these spammers one by one (Does anyone know a better way?). I am not sure what they are hoping to accomplish other than aggrevating and wasting my time, spamming me with porn or get rich schemes and uneffectively telling me how to become Queen of social media universe.

10 years ago we had never even heard of Facebook or YouTube. Now many of us are tweeting, blogging and posting FB updates from our smart phones, netbooks, ipads. It will be interesting to see the direction Social Media takes over the next decade. Of course that will probably also mean more experts, but by then, maybe there will be some credence to most of these claims vs a small percentage of such. Until then I will visit the sites / blogs of others whose opinion I DO value.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How do you use quality time with your child?

As busy parents, the quantity of time for our generation has decreased significantly from earlier generations where the traditional structure was a working father and stay-at-home mom. Many families still fall under the “traditional” structure but sometimes it is the dad who is the homemaker and the mom who works outside the home. More often, it is common for households have a single parent or two working parents. Blended families are also now very common; often that means the child is splitting time between two homes, reducing the time spent with either parent. Regardless of the makeup of an individual family, our lives are busier than ever.

As part of the Cherrios Blogger's Circle, I was one of the bloggers tasked with the challenge of answering. “How do you use quality time with your child to ensure the best nourishment for body and mind.”

As a mom who works outside the home, quality time with my kids is limited - is crucial to try to make the most of the time that I have with my children. Work and school, coupled with everyday responsibilities, leaves free time at a minimum. After cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, errands, homework and after-school activities, there is only so much time left for anything, much less anything fun.

When my children were little, it was actually more difficult to get quality time. You would think it would be easier since I spent so much time with them and we seemed to have more time at home, but most of this time was spent caring for the kids in addition to all the other normal responsibilities. Now that the girls are older, it is easier for me to incorporate quality time into our daily routine. I still care for them of course, but because they are no longer babies / toddlers, they are much more self-sufficient.

My husband is the more "active" parent, meaning that he usually cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes. He is the one that does more of the traditional fun activities…. taking the girls swimming, on a bike ride, to the park or just out and about. I, on the other hand, am a homebody. I also take them out to the pool or for a walk, but more often we enjoy our down time at home. We do many activities around the house. Although many of these activities are fun ones such as arts and crafts, watching a movie or baking, other activities, primarily chores, are not.

In addition to personal care, decision making, problem solving, ethics, manners, etc., it is my priority to also teach the girls life skills. Whether it is buying, unloading and putting away the groceries, cleaning up, separating laundry, mailing a letter, making a bed, separating trash from recycling, writing a check or setting the table, each chore is an opportunity to teach. Of course the girls don’t always appreciate the value of what they are being taught :) So how do I turn “chores” into quality time? I try and make the activities AND chores fun for both kids and parents.

One to two nights a week is "fast food night" or "eat and run" - not by choice, but by necessity. On the nights were we actually DO have time to eat at home, we try to make a home cooked meal. One thing my girls LOVE helping with and I love having them help is baking and cooking. Last night we made a pot roast – together we peeled potatoes, cut carrots, celery and onions, and seasoned the roast. Some of the potatoes were diced, others were slices and a couple were whole. Tonight we made Asian Stir fry. I showed Miss E. how to steam raw shrimp. Earlier I had taught Miss N. the difference between chopping, mincing and cutting in julienne style; she immediately was testing out her new skills on the veggies at hand while preparing dinner. In addition to learning about the important skills of food preparation and cooking, they are also learning about creativity, nutrition and eating a balanced meal.

Afterward, when we are eating at the table, we usually relax and discuss the day, or play dinner games. The girls love playing “What am I” or “The Name Game”. I am actually planning to invest in one of the table conversational dinner card games to mix it up and keep things interesting. Afterward we cleanup and then have another hour or two - baths, TV or games, then bed.

Obviously this cannot be done for ALL chores, but by turning some of our tasks into quality time, I am able to capture a few more moments with my kids, while simultaneously taking the opportunity to teach. These moments with my children will result in both skills that they can carry into adulthood and life long memories of growing up in our home.

I would love to hear your experiences or ideas on how you spend quality time with your children. What tips to you have to share? What worked and what didn’t? How do you find balance? It is important to find what is successful for your family – what works wonderfully for a neighbor, friend or family member may not do well for you. Determine what both you and your kids love doing and somehow incorporate that into your chores, your weekly routine or your planned one-on-one time. And then plan to have some fun!

This post was done in partnership with General Mills and MyBlogspark. I did not receive any form of compensation for this post. For more information on this blog and my posting practices, please refer to the disclosure policy at the bottom of this page.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Family Dinner - Review and Giveaway

I have posted on more than one occasion how much I love my vintage (1960's) "Betty Crocker Cookbook", I have a couple others that I use - "Fix it and Forget About It" is another favorite. I really did not think that I would need - or love- another cookbook but I now do.

I recently had the opportunity to review THE FAMILY DINNER by Laurie David, Kirstin Uhrenholdt.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cookbook. It really is much more than a cookbook - With chapters dedicated to topics such as green living, incorporating more meatless meals into your life, dinner conversation starters, kid friendly recipes, etc, this is more like an activity book, lifestyle guide and cookbook rolled into one. I am not the only one that loves this book - on "The Family Dinner" is currently has a 5 star rating by consumer reviewers.

I found the book very informative and entertaining overall. I intently read the information on green living. I learned why it is better to use recycled foil, and what is a great alternative to plastic wrap for storing leftovers. I learned some more reasons why meatless meals contribute to a greener planet. (Ironically the author referenced "Eating Animals", another book I recently reviewed.).

The book included poems, games and various recipes. I would consider most of the recipes gourmet, but not SO gourmet that you would be afraid to attempt to bake or cook what was being featured. Most of the ingredients There is even a section on dinner for divorced families and how the author made it work for her in a unique way. * In reading about the author Laurie, I was surprised that Larry, her ex who was featured in the book in the divorced dinner section, is actually Larry David, actor and co-creator of the Seinfeld TV series. She is also famous in her own right - as environmental activist.

I especially liked learning about Danish culture(guessing Kirstin here) - something that I honestly do not know much about. The only thing I did not like about the book was there was a large bit dedicated to the Jewish Shabbat (and guessing Laurie here) but not too much about other cultures. I was not opposed to the Shabbat feature - quite the opposite. I cannot wait to try some of the recipes! I would have just loved to see what other cultures do for the weekly family meal or how they celebrate holidays with food such as Christmas, Diwali, Eid, Kwanzaa, Bodhi, Hanukka, Winter Solistice, etc. I really feel that with all of the other content the book contained, this could have easily been incorporated. Considering though that the authors come from Danish and Jewish heritages though, it makes sense that these were central.

Overall this book is a HUGE winner. I actually tried one of the recipes that was for the kids but looked so good I went ahead and tried myself. I made the peanut sauce which could be used over pasta. In keeping them with the book, I went vegetarian on this dish. I simply prepared the sauce, boiled the pasta, chopped vegetables and coated with the peanut sauce. It was absolutely delectable and delicious! I could not believe I made it or that it was that simple.

If you are looking for something that will truly be a family heirloom for the recipient (or yourself), this is the perfect gift.I actually keep it on my dinner table. When I sit down for lunch or a drink, I read a new section or re-read one that I previously enjoyed.

One very, very lucky reader will win a fabulous copy of The Family Dinner (if you do not win, you can always buy the book!)

1) you must be a follower of this blog and 2) share something you learned about this book or the author

Extra entries - Post a separate comment for each entry:
- (1) Follow me in twitter @misaacmom and tweet this giveaway
- (1) share this on facebook
- (5) blog about this giveaway

* You must be a follower of this blog in order to be eligible to win
* Winner will be selected via or randomizer
* Winner will be contacted via email
* Winner must respond to email notification within 2 business days or another winner will be selected.
* Email address must be posted in your blogger profile OR you must post it with your entry.
* Only residents of the US are eligible to win
* Winner is responsible for taxes
* No P.O. Boxes
* Hachette responsible for prize fulfillment
* You must be 18 years old and above
* Ends 11/15/2010

I received a copy of The Family Dinner for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information on this blog and on my posting practices, please refer to the disclosure policy at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busy weekend

Yesterday we had scouts and shopping - today my other daughter had scouts (an all day event), while Miss N., her playmate and I went to help a friend prepare her house for selling. I cannot believe it is Sunday evening! How do the weekends go by so fast? Back to work tomorrow and another week full of chauffering the kiddos all over town :)

Because we were so busy, I am literally exhausted this evening. If I go to bed too early I will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. Too tired to share much more but I will be posting giveaway winners soon - INCLUDING the winner of the emom rerewards bedroom suite! Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

KT Tunstall - New Album and New Tour (10/10/10)

T Tunstall's third album, Tiger Suit, is in stores!   KT Tunstall is a Scottish-born singer and songwriter.  The first time I heard her music was on American Idol when a contestant performed one of her songs "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree".  She became an overnight sensation after millions of Americans were exposed to her music.

Her new album has more depth and is a little edgier / more serious than the first which was lighter,  full of positive and poetic fun and whimsy.

"Fade Like A Shadow, her first single is already a Top 20 hit at radio. Check out the video here.

Get your copy here!

For the latest news, tour dates and more, check out KT's websiteFacebook and Twitter


KT is hitting the road in November playing 17 US and Canadian cities. Tickets are on sale now. 

Oct 31      Crystal Ballroom                Portland, OR
Nov 1       Commodore Ballroom       Vancouver, BC
Nov 2       The Showbox SODO        Seattle, WA 
Nov 4       Knitting Factory                 Spokane, WA
Nov 5       Knitting Factory                 Boise, ID 
Nov 7       Knitting Factory                 Reno, NV 
Nov 8      Warfield Theatre                 San Francisco, CA 
Nov 11     The Music Box                  Los Angeles, CA 
Nov 12     House of Blues                  San Diego, CA 
Nov 16     Ogden Theatre                  Denver, CO 
Nov 18     Epic                                  Minneapolis, MN
Nov 19     The Vogue                        Indianapolis, IN 
Nov 21     Vic Theatre                       Chicago, IL 
Nov 22     The Crofoot                      Detroit, MI 
Nov 23     Phoenix Theatre                Toronto, ON
Nov 25     Club Soda                        Montreal, QU 
Nov 26     The Trocadero                 Philadelphia, PA 
Nov 27     9:30 Club                        Washington, DC 
Nov 29     House of Blues                 Boston, MA
Dec 1       Terminal 5                        New York, NY 

This post was done in partnership with One2One Network.  I received a cd for review purposes.  I did not receive any compensation for this post.  For more information on this blog and my posting practices, please refer to the disclosure policy at the bottom of this page.   

Saturday, October 09, 2010

New Bikes! (10/09/2010)

Early x-mas gifts for the girls from their Nana!

Home Organization and CSN - (10/09/10)

Even though my closet is HUGE, it was very cluttered and in dire need of some organizational assistance. See the "BEFORE" picture posted to the left.  The picture shows about 1/3 of the length.  See?  clutter and disorganization.... 

Through my status as a CSN preferred blogger, I was able to purchase items of my choice to review.   CSN offers a wide variety of home storage solutions!  I decided to splurge on items for my closet and fell in love with the "Honey Can Do" product line.  The CSN gift certificate covered have of the purchase price (I paid the remainder).   Most of the items were on sale and because I spent over $70,  I was able to get free shipping under a current promotion.  I am so thrilled! 

The "Honey Can Do" products are both practical, durable, and affordable.  The items I ended up purchasing were as follows:

Honey Can Do Eight Shelf Organizer and Two Drawers in White- This was used to store my PJs.  I do not have enough room in my dresser so I kept my pajamas in my closet folded up in two piles.  They are now sorted, organized and within reach.  This unit is also available without the drawers (Honey Can Do Eight Shelf Hanging Organizer in White ).  The second unit was used to store my husbands work shirts.

Honey Can Do Two Tier Expandable Shoe Rack in White - This item was the one that made the biggest difference.  I was able to store all of my shoes so that they were both visible and easily accessible.  The unit provided a highly efficient use of space.  Another huge plus was the easy assembly - it took less than 10 minutes for both items. 

I used two racks which were stacked.  Gone were the stacks of shoe boxes!  I have so many shoes (who knew?) that I did need to use full width.  If you need to store as many shoes as I did (about 24 pairs, I recommend using 3 racks as the width will be less and there will be more support in the middle.  For 20 normal pairs of shoes or up to 24 pairs of lightweight shoes, 2 racks should be fine.

Honey Can Do Ten Shelf Hanging Shoe Organizer in White - Meant for shoe storage but this was actually used to organize my collection of scarves, which were previously hiding in a basket.  I can now accessorize my scarves with outfits much more effectively!

Honey Can Do 24 Pocket Over the Door Shoe Organizer in White - I ended up not needing this so Miss E. excitedly grabbed this and claimed it as her own.  She can use it for shoes, small stuffed animals (Beanie Babies, Webkinz, or YooHoos),  art supplies, Nintendo games, etc.  She can even use it for what it is intended for - shoes!

Within 3 hours I had my closet fully organized.  I found shoes that I forgot I owned, had my PJs folded and separated, and cleared out space for more storage .  I even freed up some space on my husbands side of the closet.  Only one box is visible in the picture, but I have about 10 cardboard boxes holding gifts on the upper shelf.  I still plan to buy some storage containers to switch out.  I will also try and figure out what to store the bags of handbags/purses, but I am otherwise done!  For $100 I was able to give my closet a total face-lift.  

The picture quality is not great but you can see the results below


CSN stores provided me with a gift certificate to purchase items for review purposes. Half of the purchase was covered with this gift certificate. I was not required to write a positive review. For more information on this blog and on my posting practices, please refer to the disclosure policy below.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Baby Shower Brownies (10/07/10)

We hosted a dual baby shower for two co-workers who are both expecting in November- one is expecting a girl and the other is expecting a boy.  I was a co-host of the shower.  We had a wide array of desserts - 2 cakes, cheesecake, and brownies.  

Here is a batch of brownies I created using techniques I learned at Baking with Betty that was tweaked with a few additions of my own.  (These are also the same type of brownies the girls and I made after I returned from the Baking with Betty event so it is an activity your children could help with)

Baby Shower Brownies:
I used two different batches of brownies:

I baked both in 8 x 8 pans according to the instructions on the package.  Once baked, I let the brownies cool to room temperature;  Once cooled I sliced into rectangles and stuck in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour (until slightly frozen).

When I removed the brownies from the freezer and I immediately removed these from the pan one by one.  While still cool and hardened, I then inserted a craft stick into each brownie.   On each craft stick, I had hot glued a bow (pink and blue!). 

Once all of the brownie-sticks were assembled I prepared the melted chocolate using 2 bowls of white and milk chocolate; each bowl was melted in the microwave for 1 minute.  Once melted, I stirred up the chocolate to smooth it out and prepared to dip the brownies. 

For the toppings I used sprinkles, coconut or crushed pecan.  Decorating was easy!....  Dip the top of each brownie into the melted milk or white chocolate and then dip into the topping of my choice immediately following. 

I let the brownies "dry" out on a sheet of waxed paper.  Once the chocolate had hardened, I  transferred each individual brownie-stick into a cupcake wrapper.   The completed cakes were layered on a platter and wrapped up nicely in order to keep fresh for serving the next day.

Creating and hot gluing the bows took a while but the the actual baking and brownie assembly did not take long at all - no more than an hour.  These were a HUGE hit!  

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Trick or Treak with Tiny Prints! (10/02/2010)

I grew up trick or treating - My kids love it too.  Down here in the South, a lot of people don't celebrate Halloween, but we do!  To us it is just a fun holiday for the kids - a chance to dress up, get outside and meet others and, best of all, get candy!  I normally only buy candy at holidays so this is a special treat :) 

Looking for something different?  How can you celebrate your frightening love of Halloween?  Share it with others!  Party away or just send a note.   Join Monday's Tiny Prints Twitter party to find out more :)

Tiny Prints provides simple, modern and unique stationery from photo cards to personalized greeting cards to thank you cards and business cards. Offering exclusive designs from the nation's top designers, easy card personalization, a powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality, their designs have been lauded by numerous television networks, publications and celebrities. With Tiny Prints by your side the Holidays will be a cinch! They offer adorable Halloween Cards, Thanksgiving Cards, Christmas Cards, Hannukah Cards, and even New Years Cards. All fully customizable and personalizable.

This post was done in Partnership Global Influence.  I did not receive any form of monetary compensation for this post but will have my name entered in a drawing as a thank you for sharing this information with my readers.

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