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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Digital Picture System

I get a lot of people asking me how I organize and store my pictures so I'm sharing my SYSTEM with you.

1.  Periodically I will remove my SD card from my camera and insert it into my laptop.  I choose to move my picture this way because I think it is easier than using the cable and software provided by my camera company.

2.  On my computer I create a folder titled with the year, for example 2010, and I create a new folder for each year.

3.  I then create a folder for each event, always titling it with first the month and year and then a description.  For example, 03-10 Spring Break.  This ensures that my pictures will for the most part be in chronological order.  

4.  I move the pictures off the card onto my laptop one event at a time.  I simply go to the directory that shows what's on the card and select the pictures I want to move.  Then I drag and drop those pictures into the new folder I just created for them.

5.  I only print pictures when I am ready to scrapbook them and then I only print a very manageable number of pictures.  No reason to print 2 years at once since I can't possibly get to them all in a reasonable time.

6.  Each year in January or February I take all of the pictures in the previous year folder and copy them onto a CD.  Only once has an entire year not fit on a CD (but we took 3 big vacations that year).  I just did a disc 1 and disc 2.

7.  If I accidentally print more pictures that I end up needing to scrapbook I file those chronologically into a photo file box.  These can come in handy when they need a quick picture for a school project.  I also store my CDs with pictures on them in the same box.  However, it isn't a bad idea to keep back up CDs off the premise, in case of fire, like at your office or your mom's house.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kansas City Radio Show for Women

I'm excited to share with my readers a new radio show for women that is starting this week in KC.  But never fear, if you don't live in KC you can listen online.

The show is called The Perk and it is a weekly one hour radio show with 4 women moderating discussion about topics important to women.  I for one am super excited to tune in for their first show, Thursday, February 2nd at 3:00 p.m. on 1510AM.  However, since I'm a working mom, I may have to listen to the podcast later in the evening.

One of the ladies, Kelli,  is a very old, dear friend of mine.  She is a sorority sister (Chi Omega) and we were roommates in college.  She is an amazing person, a working mom, a lawyer, active in her community, a great friend!  

I hope you'll tune in and if you do, come back here and comment and let me know your thoughts.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Keeping Calendars Straight

We have a very full schedule to juggle, as I'm sure you do too.  I work full time which involves some travel.  My kids are both very active in school and sports.  So I have set up a system that seems to be pretty full proof regarding keeping us on track and where we need to be when we need to be there.

1.  Keep one calendar ONLY!   This is the cardinal rule.  Do not have one calendar for your family, one calendar for work, one calendar for your personal stuff.  This is just asking for chaos.  One calendar ensures that if you are scheduling a dentist appointment for your daughter you can see that you have a work commitment at the same time, meaning you can't take her.

2.  Electronic is best.  I say this for several reasons.  First an electronic calendar (i.e. Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar) can be easily edited without leaving a mess behind.  Second, there is infinite space for notes, addresses, multiple appointments at the same time.  Third, it will make it much easier to sync with your family.  And last, with smartphones, iPhones, Blackberries, etc., it is easy to carry this calendar with you at all times.

3.  Make meetings with your spouse.  If you are using an electronic calendar set up everything as a meeting and "invite" your spouse.  Have him do the same thing.  This way you both have the same calendar.  I don't invite him to things that occur within my normal work hours but I do send him travel arrangements.  When you accept a meeting invite you have the choice to make your time free or "pencil it in" on your calendar meaning that a dentist appointment for your daughter that your husband is handling the transportation on will not make you look unavailable for work meetings.  This has been a lifesaver for us! 

4.  Make up a Week at a Glance chart.  I made a chart a few years ago called "Sloan Family Week at a Glance."  It is very basic in design -- just seven columns for each day of the week that runs Monday - Sunday.  I laminated it so I can write on and rinse off each week.  Sunday evening I sit down with my Blackberry and I write down everything we have going on and it gets taped on the front of the refrigerator.  This is great for everyone, including the kids, to see what is going on.  It also helps with meal planning, if one night is jam packed with everyone going every different way, its probably a good night for crockpot chili or leftovers. 

So that is how I manage the very busy calendars of four very active people in my house.  If you haven't used Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook, play around with them.  I'm not terribly familiar with the Google one but that is what my husband uses and it syncs to his Sprint EVO.  I use Outlook which I LOVE!  Each morning when I get to work I also print off just that one day and carry it with me.  One other perk to going electronic is you can schedule YEARS in advance if you want to.  And yes, sometimes I will know a year or more in advance of something that needs to go on the calendar.  If you use paper you can't write it down until you buy that year's planner. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.  I'm turning 39 years old and to tell you the truth I'm really conflicted about it.  Not for the reasons you might think.  I don't worry that I'm getting old, I don't feel like 40 is breathing down my neck.  In fact I feel anxious for 40.  I'm kind of ready to move on from my 30s and yet I have another year left.

My 20's were so exciting, something new every year.  Graduated from college at 21, married Jeff at 22, bought our first home at 23, had Haley at 24, had Olivia at 27, bought our current home at 28, at 29 Haley started Kindergarten and we made some terrific new friends.  There was always something big to look forward to.

My 30's have been the maintenance years.  We've raised our little girls into young ladies.  We redone (and redone) the house.  We started a business and sold that business.  I've nurtured my career, my children, my home, my friendships, I buried my dad.  I guess I'm ready to jump into the next phase of my life. 

I know my 40's will more closely resemble my 20's in the fact that there will be MANY changes!  Both of my girls will graduate from high school and college during my 40's.  They could both get married too!  Haley could even have a baby if she follows in my footsteps!  Heck, she'll be 27 when I turn 50 so I guess she could have 2!  Jeff and I will get to rediscover ourselves as a couple vs just as parents.  With the new job I started last fall I see a lot of opportunities for the next 10 years career-wise.  I see lots of travel in my 40s (not that the 30s were lacking in travel :-). 

So here I am, on the brink of a new decade.  I hope to use this year wisely.  To get myself more physically fit.  To become more financially disciplined so I can pay for the 40s (college and weddings don't come cheap!)  To help my husband find a career he can love and develop in the next 10 years as well. 

So tonight as I celebrate my 39th birthday I'll actually be celebrating the end of an era and the transition to a new one!  40 here I come!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Bean Chicken Chili

I love my soup recipes in the winter but we have had all the family favorites in the past few weeks -- potato, chicken enchilada, tortellini, chicken tortilla, etc. so it was time to come up with something new.  I love creating a new recipe, I love the creative process so I decided to take a stab at a green chicken chili.  It was a hit with the family (except Haley who isn't a fan of beans.)

Three Bean Chicken Chili

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, pounded thin and then cubed
2 T. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (I actually grate mine on a microplane)
3 T. flour
2 cans chicken broth
1 can green chilies
1 can salsa verde (green salsa - found in a pop top can in the mexican aisle, think it is about a 5 oz. can)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in heavy bottom stock pot over high heat.  Sprinkle the cubed chicken with salt and pepper.  Add to hot oil and saute for 3 minutes or until no longer visibly pink on the outside.  Remove chicken to plate. Reduce heat to med-high and add chopped peppers and onions to the stock pot (add a little more oil if necessary) and cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Add chicken back in and toss with garlic and flour.  Cook 1-2 minutes to remove raw flour taste.  Stir in chicken broth, beans, green chilies, salsa verde and oregano.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  During last 5 minutes add cilantro.  Serve with chopped green onions on top.

This does have some heat, it isn't burn your mouth spicy but there is a little back of the throat burn.  If you want to tone down the heat just use one jalapeno or skip them altogether.  We like a little heat so it was perfect for us.

I served this with a loaf of beer bread that I had added green chilies and cheddar cheese to.  It was perfect with it. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To Resolve or Not to Resolve? Part 1

This time of year there is a lot of chatter going on about New Year's Resolutions.  I'll be honest and say I never proclaim New Years Resolutions.  Now on the other hand my birthday is coming up and I usually do make birthday resolutions -- privately, to myself.  Usually they revolve around being more fit -- more physically fit, more financially fit and more spiritually fit.  Over the years I've found some resources that I think help with these resolutions so I thought I'd share them with my readers.

SparkPeople -- Who are these people and why do they spark?  Well, actually sparkpeople - one word - is a great website.  The interesting story behind it is that this guy (the SparkGuy) owned an on line bidding sight which he sold to Ebay making himself a small fortune.  He wanted to do something for society so www.sparkpeople.com was born.  IT IS FREE!!!  And it is great.  It is chock full of recipes, articles, work out routines and again -- all FREE.  It also has tracking for food intake and exercise.  Sounds a lot like Weight Watchers online?  It is but its FREE!

So to start you set up your profile and state your goals -- is it to lose 30 pounds in a year?  30 pounds in a month?  It will tell you if your goal is realistic.  It will then ask you questions about your activity levels and lifestyle.  Then it gives you a range for each day for intake in calories, protein, carbs and fat.  It will also tell you exactly what to eat if you want it to or you can just log your food and it tallies as it goes and lets you know how you are doing in each of those areas. 

For exercise, again it will tell you exactly what exercises to do or just give you a calorie burn guideline and let you track your own. 

You also have the ability to interact with other sparkers via community boards.  You earn sparkpoints for tracking food, doing exercise, reading articles, etc.  The sparkpoints translate into spark trophies and you can use them to buy spark goodies for your online friends.  Okay, so this may be more than you are looking for in a weight loss website but they have data to show the more involved you are the better you will do. 

When I first discovered Sparkpeople in 2008 I lost about 35 pounds in 4 months.  I know I need to get back on it seriously and that is one of my birthday resolutions this year.  In the past couple of years several of the People Magazine "I Lost Half My Body" people were using SparkPeople. 

So whether your goal is to lose weight or just eat better and exercise more or just to be a more fit person all around or just to maintain the fitness you have, check it out.  I think you'll find something of value there!


By the way, there is an iPhone app for this that I hear is pretty great but I don't have an iPhone so I can't speak to it specifically.  And they also have Sparkteens.com for the younger set that is focused more on just healthy habits and less on weight loss.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Top Books of 2011

I read 37 books in 2011.  I know this because I use www.goodreads.com to track my reading.  For 2012 my goal is to read 50 books.  According to goodreads I’ve already read two since I finished Fly Away Home on the 1st of January (and I actually did read a whole book in one day on January 2nd)  so basically I’m off to a good start.  If you are a goodreads “friend” of mine you will see that my choice of books is very eclectic, really all over the place.  So as I was looking through my choices for last year it got me thinking “What if I could only recommend 10% of these to a friend? Which would they be?”  That would be 3.7 books, I’ll round up to 4 to make it even.  I have to warn you that one of my standards of a good book is that it move me in some way – it can move me to tears or to laughter so some of these will have you laughing out loud and some will have you bawling into your paper back!

  1. Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern Day Slave, an International Art Dealer and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall – this is non-fiction, a memoir of this gentlemen who befriend a black, homeless
  2. Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office: A Memoir by Jennifer Lancaster – this is the first in a series by this lady and while the series gets pretty old pretty fast the first few – and most specifically this one, the first one – literally had me laughing out loud on airplanes and other public spaces.
  3. I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb – the story of identical twins, one is a paranoid schizophrenic.  It is so well written however it is rather long, almost 900 pages, and very heavy to carry around so this would be a great one to load on your iPad or Kindle.
  4. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe – okay so really this one was hard for me to pick.  I kind of wanted to make #4 Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum but those are all really heavy and dark and while very good reads I wanted to give you something that was just plain fun!  This book is exactly that.  And if you are my age, or within 5 year give or take (that would be 34 – 44 years old) you will really appreciate all the stories he has to tell!

So that is it.  My top 10% of books from last year.  I hope you’ll pick up one or two (or maybe even all four!)  This year if I make my goal to 50 books I’ll give you 5 for 2013! 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spicy Corn Casserole

Tonight I tried another new idea I've been toying with in my mind for some time.  I have had recipes similar to this in the past but they always contained too much butter and didn't have enough flavor for me.  I think this is a great recipe, with less fat and calories and more zip.

16 oz bag frozen corn
8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
3 T. butter, softened
1 can chopped green chilies
4-5 pickled jalapeno slices, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients.  Pour into a 8x8 greased glass baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Yum!  Spicy and creamy and good!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti

I really love to cook meals for my family.  We eat a sit down meal together 4-5 times per week.  While I do struggle with the "what do I cook tonight" quandary every once in a while what really stumps me is SIDE DISHES!  For some reason the only thing I can think of is potatoes -- mashed or baked.  We usually have a salad or roasted vegetable like broccoli or asparagus but the starches perplex me.  So this week I'm trying several new side dishes.  Tonight it was Lemon Garlic Spaghetti and it was a HIT!

4 oz. spaghetti
1 lemon
4 cloves garlic
2 T. olive oil
fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, salt generously and boil spaghetti for 9 minutes.

While the water/spaghetti is boiling put oil into a large saucepan over medium low heat, add minced garlic.  Stir occasionally, keeping temperature low -- you don't want to brown or burn the garlic.  When the pasta has just a couple of minutes left, zest the lemon into the garlic and oil.  Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan, tossing with the lemon-garlic oil.  Add the juice of half the lemon and some salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a serving dish and toss with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

This was a great, light side dish.  I served it with a chicken recipe I found on Pinterest.  I hope you enjoy it.  Tomorrow night I'm making a spicy corn casserole.