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Dec 26, 2012

My Current iPhone Homescreen - Version #1

Phones are an important part of our life in this day and age because they basically store our lives and businesses.  That's why I think it's important to share & find new apps that may improve our productivity, organization or lives.  Every so often I am going to write about new apps that I love or share my current iPhone home screen.  Why am I going to do that?  Because I love apps and download quite a few to test out.  

Above is my current iPhone home screen -- I'm OCD about this screen.  I want to make sure that everything on my home screen I need or use and definitely want it to look organized and neat.  Why do I have only three rows of apps when my iPhone holds 5 rows?  Basically because I want it to look clean and streamlined.  I only want what I use every single day on my home screen and that's what's there.

Sparrow Mail - I never liked the look or feel of iPhone's native mail app so I went searching for a new app.  Sparrow may cost $2.99 but it's an amazing app for mail.  You can add multiple e-mail accounts and it looks clean and is extremely easy to organize your mail.  I'm actually obsessed with this app right now.

Chrome - I'm a loyal Chrome user on my PC & Mac so it's only fair that I use Chrome on my iPhone & iPad as well!  I absolutely love how fast chrome loads versus Safari and love how bookmarks & recently viewed pages stay on the home screen of the app as well.  It's great!

Camera + - I use my phone as a camera multiple times a day, it's one of my favorite things to do with my phone.  Camera + actually takes than the native app and I love the zoom & grid features. 

Google - Anyone who knows me knows that Google is one of my favorite things.  I am constantly Googling random facts or things I need to know about.  Instead of constantly opening Google up in my browser, it's only fair that I have the app for easy access. 

TD Bank - Easy access to my checking and savings account & account balance. 

Week Cal - I just like this app better than the native Calendar app.  I think it has a better interface and easily switches between work, personal and other calendars I may have.  It just has a more clean interface to the app and calendar. 

Pocket - Pocket is one of those apps that I can't live without.  I can easily send websites and blogs directly to Pocket to read later on.  It's similar to Instapaper and was formerly called Read it Later.  This is an app I definitely recommend to everyone.  

Reeder - BEST RSS reader.  I love it!  (I don't love the way my unread count continuously goes up though! LOL I subscribe to too many blogs!)  It's feature heavy and allows you to mark all read/unread, keep favorites and edit your subscriptions right from the app.

AnyList - I have to be honest, I use other "list" apps too but AnyList is one that I can't seem to part with.  I'm not 100% in love with it but I don't hate it either.  I love the fact that the "banner" tells you how many tasks you still have to get done.  It's helpful because the annoying number of undone tasks continuously has me looking at it to see what I can get done to make that number go down or away. lol

Evernote - I just recently fell in love with Evernote but seem to use it quite a bit.  I use it in conjunction with Pocket and Reeder.  If there's something I want to save to use later I will use Evernote to index it so it is easier to pull back up later.  This app is so feature packed and has so many advantages...

SongPop - Love Love Love this game. Enough said. 

Dialvetica - Has definitely replaced my native "phone" app.  Firstly, I don't use my phone too much for actual calls and talking so I don't need to constantly use the "phone/contacts".  However when I do need to make a call Dialvetica knows who I call the most and lists them first with all of their contact information.  This way it is extremely easy and quick for me to pull up one of those contacts to call, e-mail or text.

TweetBot - I used to use the regular Twitter app just until a few days ago.  I'm currently testing this app out because I wanted a change of pace.  I'll probably know within a week or so if this app is a keeper for Twitter...I use it quite a bit so I need something that I actually like!

The other pages have:  

2nd Page:
  • IM+ for cross platform instant messaging.  
  • AT&T Navigator for GPS -- I love this app even though it costs me monthly.
  • Calculator because I'm # challenged.
  • Farenheit since I always want to know the temp and love how it shows it in a flag on the front of the icon.
  • App Store just because I'm such an app addict.
  • Optimum is my cable provider and I love that I can watch TV from the app, manage my DVR and use my phone as a remote via WiFi.
  • Capture as a video recording program.
  • Settings since I use settings quite a bit.
The third page has all of my folders which I name with verbs instead of other titles.  I use titles such as "work", "photograph", "listen", "watch", "shop", "organize", etc...  I feel it makes me more productive for some reason!  I also have a folder for apps that I am currently testing and a folder for the native iPhone apps that I barely ever use. :)  

I love that my phone is organized, it makes me feel like I have at least one thing under control in my life.  

How do you organize your phone? What are some of your favorite apps?

Dec 25, 2012

Santa was good to my girls this year.

When I left my house to go to see Les Mis last night it was snowing like crazy.  As much as I hate snow I was extremely excited since it was Christmas Eve.  There's just something about snow on Christmas Eve/Christmas that makes it really feel like the Holidays.  I was hoping the snow would stick a little, enough for us to have a white Christmas but by the time I got out of the movie theater the snow had turned into rain.  

The girls were sleeping on the couch when I got home so I carried them each to my bed.  Alayna was perfectly fine and still asleep when I put her in her bed but Olivia was scolding hot.  I had a feeling that she had a pretty high fever so I put her in bed and got a thermometer.  Turns out I was right, she had a 102 temperature and refused to take Tylenol for me until I dissolved the meltaway on a spoon for her.  She went back to sleep and woke up again 10 minutes later crying that she didn't feel good... That went on for about 2 hours.  Finally at 5:30 AM she was asleep soundly, her fever seemed to be down a little bit and I was able to make sure that Santa put the presents under the tree.  

Olivia and Alayna woke up about an hour later and shook me awake to open presents.  Keep in mind, I only had an hours worth of sleep and was falling asleep while the presents were being opened.  However I stayed awake enough to take a few pictures of my girls opening presents.

They made out like little bandits! They got a Fisher Price Serving Surprises Table, pretend food, Alayna got a guitar & Olivia got a keyboard, Journey Girl dolls, Play Doh, games, craft sets, dollhouse furniture and so many more goodies that we can't wait to play with together!  After opening presents Olivia asked if she could go back to bed and not play with her toys until later; that's when I really knew she was sick.  She usually wants to rip open everything and play with it right then and there.  

After presents we prepared for my uncle and grandma to come, just our usual small family get together, for dinner.  We had a great Christmas despite Olivia being sick.  I still have no idea where we are going to stick all of these new toys but we now have an excuse to put together the second bookcase that we've had in a box for about 4 months! :)  I hope everyone had a great Christmas! 

Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone!

'twas the night before Christmas and all through our house,
Cookies were baking the scent was so grand,
Kiddies all dressed in their PJs by the tree,
Ready for later that night & Santa Claus to land.

Merry Christmas to all our readers! Dinner is done, the alarm for the cookies just sounded, we are off to put the cookies and carrots on a plate with a nice glass of milk for Santa and Reindeer! My little elves will be off to bed soon, anxious for Santa's arrival tonight! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve with their families!

From our family to yours. :)

Pre-Christmas Adventures with our Family!

Due to my new job (that I have been at for almost 3 months now!) and my mom, kids and I being sick, we were pretty late on doing everything Christmas this year.  I didn't get to do my Black Friday haul but still got my shopping done by budgeting $100 every week for my kids, family and friends presents.  I think I did pretty well with what I had and have no complaints at all.  Our tree (shown above!) was put up the weekend after Thanksgiving but we did not get around to decorating the tree or the house until just two weeks ago.  We went a little overboard this year getting decorations done...I mean putting a Christmas toilet seat topper on the toilet and a Christmas rug in the bathroom. 

Next came Olivia's 5th Birthday & Party on Dec. 21, 2012.  I couldn't believe my little princess turned 5, it was so hard to accept that she was another year older because she is my little baby! (And she will ALWAYS be!)  We had her party at Michaels Arts & Crafts with just a few of her friends from Pre-School.  The party went over extremely well, even though we only had 3 other girls aside from my two!  Olivia had so much fun and couldn't stop talking about her big girl party!  We all made foam Gingerbread Houses in honor of Christmas, which was right around the corner!  I also took some time out of my morning to make Snowman cupcakes for her party, which turned out adorable!

We didn't get to see Santa until yesterday, the day before Christmas Eve and boy was there a line.  We waited for about an hour and 45 minutes to see Santa at the mall, but that hour and 45 minutes was so worth it when my girls got up to see him!  They told him what they wanted for Christmas and Olivia got to tell Santa that her birthday had been just a few days before.  She was super excited when Santa said, "Happy Birthday!" to her.  The picture came out great and I also snapped one really quickly on my phone as well! 

After meeting Santa we ran over to mail our letters at Macys.  This was especially important to Alayna since every letter that's "mailed" is a donation to the Make A Wish foundation.  Alayna has a best friend that has been in the hospital in Philadelphia for almost an entire year.  He needs a heart and kidney transplant and so far has had no luck, but he is part of the Make A Wish foundation and that cause has become very dear to my 7 year old's heart because of her best friend.  

So today I got a bit of last minute wrapping in when the kids were still asleep and I am in between doing some cooking for tomorrow and getting ready to bake cookies for Santa.  Tonight I'm going to be seeing Les Miserables with one of my friends at the movies so I want to make sure I get everything done with my girls and get them into bed before I leave!  Santa will be here before we know it and I'm sure he'll leave lots of presents for my girls -- they've been good this year. (We won't talk about the times they weren't!)

Merry Christmas Eve to all of you!  

Dec 20, 2012

Mommy Gone Crazy -- Where's my sanity?

This is my day after I leave work today.  

I usually work until 4pm with my day job and get home by 4:30pm, I work about 30-35 minutes away from where I live.  Today I have absolutely no free time at all today, not even after 11:30 when I finally get home from finishing shopping.  

A few weeks ago I found out that I have a leak in my air valve on my front passenger side tire and it keeps losing air. I finally just put electrical tape around the air valve, it did help, but when it rains it looses it's sticky and it starts losing air more rapidly again.  The only time I can get to the dealer is on Saturdays and they have no time until after Christmas to see me.  Finally, I called Firestone and asked if they can do anything for me.  Thankfully they said that they can replace the air valve for me instead of the whole sensor -- but my air pressure light will still be on my dashboard.  Who cares about the damn light, I just don't want to have to constantly fill my damn tire with air every other day!  I set up an appointment at 4:40pm for that, directly after I get home.  

Yesterday my oldest, Alayna, woke up with a fever, horrible cough and very scratchy throat.  I figured it was just a 24 hour thing and gave her Tylenol while she stayed home from school.  Optimism is definitely my thing because I thought she would be better this morning.  WRONG!  She still had a fever this morning and felt even worse so I kept her home again and made a doctors appointment for her at 5:15 today.  Now I have to run home from Firestone after that is done, get Alayna, my mom and Olivia and go to the doctors office.  Why do I have to bring them all with me?  I have a job interview at 5:45 with H&R Block.

For the past 7 years I have worked seasonally at H&R Block as a receptionist and this year will probably be no different.  Yes, I do have a day job but unfortunately I need a second job to help catch up on the bills we were late on when I was unemployed.  I figure that this seasonal job (jan-april) will help with paying those bills down so we are current on all of our bills.  Right now we don't have too much leeway with money after paying bills and I wish we had some extra. So basically I have to leave my mom and the girls at the pediatrician's office while I run to the interview and then pick them back up.

After that (bored yet?) I have to finish Christmas shopping, I'm going out with one of my friends for a few hours of sanity tonight and then come home and make:
  • 18 Christmas bags for Alayna's class
  • 22 Christmas bags for Olivia's class
  • 22 Birthday/Christmas cupcakes for Olivia's birthday tomorrow. (Class)
  • 15 Birthday/Minnie Mouse cupcakes for Olivia's birthday party tomorrow night
  • 15 Goody bags for Olivia's birthday party tomorrow night
I also have to prep her Birthday activity for her party since we are having a bunch of 4-5 year old making foam gingerbread houses at the party.  I'm going to be up until probably 3 am doing all of this and I don't know how I'm going to do it.  Nobody better bother me tomorrow, I'm sleeping for as long as I can before I have to do a million more things....

Dec 19, 2012

My Experience with Being an Adoptee.

Twenty-Seven years ago I was adopted at just a month and 2 days old.  My mom has always told me the story of how she got the phone call from Pat, her case worker, and how I was brought home on a very rainy April 19, 1985.  I have been asked so many questions in my lifetime about being an adopee, from those who are curious about the whole situation.  Because of that, I thought that I would address them here for anyone who is also curious.

"Can I ask an adoptee questions?"
It depends on the person and how open they are about being adopted.  I always welcome questions from others and never felt shame about being adopted.  I actually feel incredibly special because I had two mothers who loved me enough to give me a great life that I may not have otherwise had.  I love to educate others on what it's like to be an adoptee.

Different Types of Adoptions
It seems as though some people don't know there are different types of adoptions.  My adoption was a closed adoption, meaning that my parents had absolutely no contact with my biological parents and didn't even know who they were.  All my mom knew was the very vague and small amount of information she received from the adoption agency.  She also receive some "Non Identifying Information" which is a small document with basic health and general information about my biological family.  

There are also open adoptions which became more of the norm in the 1990's.  This means that the adoptive and biological parents know each other and are allowed to share information about the child.  They are even able to get together with the child a few times per year, based on the legal agreement with the adoptive family.   I think this is a great option since the adoptees get to know about their biological family, why they were adopted and have access to all of their health information.

"Do you know your real parents?"
My "real parents" are the parents that adopted me.  Giving birth to a child makes you a mother and a father, yes, but not a "mom" and a "dad".  The love, nurturing and caring though the years makes real parents.  That is something that birth parents cannot do no matter how much they love their biological child.  

"Do you ever want to meet your biological parents?"
I met my biological mom and siblings back in 2003.  The adoption agency who placed me assisted in the search but I also hired a private investigator who specialized in adoption reunions to find another adopted sister.

All my life I had dreamed about how my reunion would be and when it finally happened, it was nothing like what I imagined.  I felt very let down and actually did regret the reunion for a few months.  I felt like the imagining was better than the actual outcome.  My biological mom was very quiet and never said that she loved or missed me, which is what I wanted her to say.  Now, almost 10 years later, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet her.  My biological mother and grandmother passed away in May and June of this past year and even though I never got a chance to know them too well and ask questions that I still had, I am grateful for the times I had with them.  I will always admire my biological mother for having the strength to give me a better life.

"Do you ever wish your biological parents would have kept you?"
While I do wonder what it would have been like to stay in that family, no.  I don't wish they would have kept me at all actually.  Meeting them and hearing how tough their lives were made me feel more thankful for what I actually had growing up.  I am thankful to my (adoptive) mother for giving me everything that my biological family wouldn't have been able to give me.

"Why were you given up for adoption when other siblings weren't?"
Believe it or not I have been asked this quite a few times.  I have a 32 year old brother and a 30 year old sister that my biological mom kept.  My other sister is 29 and I am 27.  My biological mother placed me and my older 29 year old sister.  Why?  Thankfully when I found out I had siblings I also found my non identifying information that explained to me what happened.  My birth parents were unmarried and my birthmom decided to try to parent the two older siblings.  When my sister and I were born, unfortunately, she didn't have the means to take care of all of us.  She decided to give my sister and I a better life.  The one thing I have never been clarified on is why they separated my older sister and I.  Both my mom and her mom said they signed papers saying that they are willing to accept other siblings from the same birthmom but my sister's mother never got a call about me.  That's the one question I have that has gone unanswered for years.

Dec 18, 2012

What's with the Elf on the Shelf craziness?

My 7 year old came home from school one afternoon and asked me if I could buy an “Elf on the Shelf” elf.  I was actually surprised she even knew what it was since she is one of the most selectively deaf children on the face of the planet – but anyhow…  I thought about it for a few minutes, knowing how much parents rave about the tradition, but dismissed it.  Why?  I can barely remember to grab my laptop bag when I’m off to work in the morning.  There are days I completely forget about activities and constantly have to use a “reminders” app on my phone to remind myself of anything.  How was I going to remember to move a little elf around every single day?  My dismissal wasn't due to lack of creativity – I could definitely think of creative places to put the elf, I just didn't have the time…or the memory.  (I suffer from a very bad case of CRS – Can’t remember shit.)

Long story short, I felt like a horrible mother for not wanting to start this tradition.  Especially since we had an elf for our decor (somewhere) that looked almost exactly like Elf on the Shelf that we used to have up when I was a child. (Saving me $30…)  I felt like maybe I was the only mother in the entire modern world who did not have an Elf on the Shelf tradition to carry on with my children every year.  Well, yesterday I got an e-mail about a blog by a mom named Jen from the blog “People I Want to Punch in the Throat” and I was rolling on the floor hysterically laughing.  Though she has an Elf on the Shelf, this mom suffers from CRS as well and makes me feel so much better about my reasons not to have one at this point.

Next year I may break down and use our elf or buy a new Elf on the Shelf for my girls.  Unfortunately, it’s too late to start it now, but it might be fun.  Maybe I’ll make a New Year’s Resolution to actually exercise my brain, even though it would be hard! (I’ve been forgetful all my life and becoming a mommy just made it worse.)  It would be a cute tradition to start with my girls that they could carry on when they get older and maybe this little damn elf WILL keep my kids in check. (Lord knows they need it!)  I love to jump on those damn bandwagons, why not the Elf on the Shelf one as well!

Do you and your family have an Elf on the Shelf?  Do you get super creative or slack off and forget to move him?  

Dec 7, 2012

What do you think about getting a child a computer?

My oldest daughter just turned 7 in October and for over two years she has been heavily into computers.  At age 5 she asked me to show her how to use the computer to play games and I obliged.  After all, this is the age of technology and I feel the more kids understand it the better off they are.  

For the past two years she has had 30 minutes a day after school to use my computer and play the games she wants to play, which I have absolutely no problem with.  However, this year she asked me if Santa could bring her a laptop just for herself.  After thinking about it and deciding that I could splurge on a small Netbook for my daughter, I set off to look for the perfect laptop for a 7 year old that will last, be easy for her to use and something that can grow with her.

I am on various discussion boards aimed at moms and asked around to see if anyone knew of laptops that would be perfect for my little girl.  I got some great ideas but also a lot of people who told me, basically, that I am spoiling her and handing everything to her on a silver platter.  Then I also got the parents who decided upon themselves, without knowing me, that I’m not watching what my daughter is doing on the computer and I have to be careful.  First of all, I may be 27 years old but I know how to parent thank-you-very-much.  I am 100% aware of what my daughter does on the computer and implement the correct parental controls so she does not see things she shouldn’t see.  I feel very confident that my daughter knows what is right and what is wrong but I also watch what she is doing when she is on the computer.  

Kids in our school district began using computers in Pre-School and it continues all the way up to 8th grade.  Both of my daughters have computer classes to learn the important skills that will be needed in the future.  Computer skills are absolutely vital these days because of the wealth of information that they can learn from websites.  I grew up learning how to use a computer and now have a day job working all day on a computer, I know the importance of learning the skills and using the computer.  I am a very technologically savvy mom and want my kids to do the same.  I’m not trying to spoil them, I want them to learn to be independent, gain computer skills and be able to look something up when they have a question.  I believe it is important for them to learn problem solving skills via the internet and I will always push that.  Of course, I will also always monitor them to make sure that they are making the correct decisions online and will take appropriate action if any of my rules are broken.  

What do you think about getting a 7 or 8 year old a laptop?

Dec 6, 2012

Do Cell Phones Change the Way You Live Your Life?

Do you change your plans according to how much battery power you have left on your phone?

I heard this topic on the radio this morning as I was driving to work and thought it was a great topic to write about.  Before I listened to this banter this morning I never realized how much my phone and it’s battery controls my life and the life of others around me.  I never actually thought that others got just as frantic when their battery percentage was low or when their phone died and they were unable to communicate with others.

Before cell phones we made plans, got to where we had to go on time and had no interruptions as we hung out with friends, our families, went to the movies, etc...  In the age of iPhones, Blackberries and Droids, it seems like our life is primarily controlled by a small electronic communication device -- aka: Cell Phone.  This device is our lifeline and as funny as it sounds, our phones are pretty much permanently attached to our hands or our ears.  We might not realize it, but our phones are growing more and more important to us everyday that we use them.  When was the last time you went out for the night and did not touch your cell phone?  Probably never.  We rely so much on our phones to check up on others, allow others to check up on us and communicate via text message to the point that we start to seem rude to the people who we are with.  Our lives, our businesses and our schedules are all controlled by that phone.

I couldn’t believe how true they were on the radio this morning.  I was able to relate to every word they said about the topic.  

Postponing leaving for work or an event because your battery is low?  I’ve done that.  
Carrying your wall charger around with you wherever you go? Yep, it’s always in my bag.
Cutting time with friends or family short because your battery is low? Definitely.
Asking to borrow someone’s phone in order to let friends/family know your phone died? I’ve asked more than once.
Panicking when your phone battery dies? All the time. I fear that happening.

Sad?  Very.  I can’t believe how dependent we have become on our cell phones.  It’s crazy how much power that little device has over us.  Who else thinks they need a cell phone intervention?

Please comment and let me know, does this happen to you?  Do you let your phone battery dictate when you leave for something or how early you go home?

Nov 9, 2012

Halloween and Hurricane Sandy

Monday October 29th was a scary day for most of the east coast, especially for those in New York and New Jersey.  Like most people, I thought the news stations were over hyping this hurricane.  I was sure the storm was going to be a mild one with just some rain and maybe higher than normal wind.  Boy was I wrong.  Monday morning came with high winds early in the day and some rain.  By the late afternoon the winds were starting to shake our windows and make us worry about the large tree in our yard.  We all kept our eyes glued to the TV to stay updated on the hurricanes progress.  When we saw what was going non down the Jersey Shore, we knew we had to be prepared for the worst.

Nov 7, 2012

Stop Calling Me!

I don't know where these people get my cell phone number.  For the past few months I have been getting calls from foreigners that want to "give me a loan".  They're always from the most absurdly named "loan" companies too.  The one today was "Loan For You" (Or maybe even "Loan 4 U. lol)  The funny part is?  I never applied for a loan and I wouldn't apply for a loan because I know my credit is challenged at this point in time.  I also know that these people are complete scam artists.

Oct 4, 2012

Why Should You Tweet if You Don't Have Many Followers?

This was also posted on my business blog but I thought it may be helpful to some mom bloggers just starting up as well.  That's why I posted it here for mom bloggers to read as well. :)

Social Media is a new term to some businesses and bloggers who have not fully grasped the incredible potential of networking through Twitter, Facebook, etc...  Due to the fact that it's unfamiliar to some companies, they may not feel comfortable using the networks since they may have little or no followers.  However everyone has to start somewhere, even if it's at the bottom.  While it may feel uncomfortable tweeting or posting to a small (or no) audience, it's extremely worthwhile and the best way to grow your brand awareness on these websites.

Remember when you started your business?  Did you have a large client or customer base at that time?  The answer for most of you is probably, "No."  Every business has to start from the bottom whether it is creating and starting your business from the bottom or trying a new media strategy.  Just because you have no followers when you start doesn't mean that you can't grow that base.  Social Media is actually one of the best ways to promote your business for free.  (I know that grabbed your attention!)
The two main reasons to create and use Social Media accounts would be:
  • To raise your follower/fan count.
  • To promote your blog or business to raise brand awareness.
Participation is key in networking and creating important connections.  Once you start your Twitter account, go ahead and do a search of an important keyword relating to your business.  Once you do that search you will see a number of tweets from others that contain the keyword you searched for.  Take a look through their tweets and see if any would relate to your business.  Do you have a solution to a question they are asking?  Do you have an idea that may assist them?  Are they a business that is similar to yours or an individual interested in the subject matter of your business?  Go ahead and follow them.  It would also be beneficial to reply to their tweet with a general comment about what they have to say or answering their question with your expertise.  When they see you followed them or replied to them, they will in turn follow you and most likely reply to what you had to say.  There, you had your first "twitter-sation." (My own word, thank you very much!)
Tip:  When you tweet others or reply to their tweets, provide value in what you have to say.  Throw something in there that will make them want to click on your Twitter profile and read about you. (And your business.)
Others will begin to find you from their searches and from re-tweets from other Twitter users.  That is why it is important to tweet (periodically) about your business or plug your latest blog post; when someone finds it interesting they will re-tweet you for others to see.  While it's important to plug your latest blog post or your business, do not do it regularly.  If you make too many posts advertising your business, your followers will think that you are tweeting solely to get them to see your page.  That may be the case, but you have to build a relationship with your followers first.  Let them see there is a person behind the Twitter name and let them get to know you and your business through tweets, re-tweets and replies.  You will want to connect with them on a more personal level and try to relate to them in some way, shape or form.  Remember, interaction is key in tweeting.

Tweeting very regularly will help to build up your "twitter personality", brand and credibility.  Especially if you engage your followers by commenting or asking an open ended question and if you post interesting information that may be beneficial to them.  If you do not have the time to tweet regularly it may be useful for you to use a program that will schedule your tweets. (My favorite program for this is Tweet Deck.)  You can also delegate Social Media tasks and tweets to a Virtual Assistant/Social Media Coordinator.  They will be able to take that uncomfortable task of starting a Twitter out of your hands and take care of that for you with their expertise.

Remember -- you should not tweet just for followers.  Tweet for yourself and your business, the followers will come to you.  Even though this all seems so cliche, it is all about the quality of your followers and the engagement between both parties.  It is not about the quantity of followers you have.

Oct 3, 2012

Guess what I did today?

Let's be honest here -- I have the iPhone 4 and got it for Christmas two years ago.  It's old, it's "outdated" according to Apple and Technology standards and my phone is frankly a piece of shit.  There are times I feel like my phone is nothing more than a paper weight and there are times I'm absolutely in love with my phone.  We have a very very strange love/hate relationship. As much as I love my iPhone 4 (and the 20 cases I have for it.  I'm not kidding.) I can't go on the way this relationship is going.  I told my phone earlier that I had to break up with it and used the familiar line, "It's not you, it's me."  

I ordered the iPhone 5.  I know, I know, I always say that I won't order a new Apple product until I'm sure the glitches are worked out of it but the damn thing kept calling my name.  I think it's fate that we are meant to be together.  Unfortunately, I have to wait 14-21 days for my new boyfriend to arrive, but I know we will be very happy together. (At least I hope.)  I can't wait to get this thing into my hands to see if it actually works faster on the 4G network and I'm also ecstatic that I got it in white.  I've always wanted a white iPhone but for some reason always went with the more common black color.  I'm being a rebel.

Now, I'm a self-admitted iPhone case addict.  I've never seen an iPhone case that I didn't like and didn't buy.  The pinks and sparkles and pretty pictures (oh my!) always got me and I was never able to resist a shiny new iPhone case.  I'm a little sad that I'm going to have to get all new cases and some of my favorite ones won't work with the new iPhone but I'm sure I will quickly get over that disappointment when I get my new toy into my hands. lol I'll have to sell or give my beloved iPhone 4 cases to someone who will love them like I loved them.  (I sound crazy, don't I?)

Does anyone else have the iPhone 5 yet?

Oct 2, 2012

Can Your Blog Lead to Job Opportunities?

I have heard various chatter and questions about this topic.  Many people are wondering, Can blogging lead to actual job opportunities?  The simple answer to this is "Yes".   Your blog is a very powerful extension of you and can be seen by potential or current employers whether or not you notify them of the fact that you have a blog.  The internet is a very public domain and anyone can find out just about anything they want to know about you; especially employers that you are working with or may work with in the future.  Just a simple search of your name can give them a pretty good picture of who you are outside of work and that can reflect on what happens inside of work.  

There are many people who feel like their privacy is violated by employers reading their blog and those people are usually the ones who have reasons to fear anyone in real life finding their blog or internet presence.  In all honesty, if you don't want your blog or internet presence to reflect badly on you, do not do anything to harbor that fear.  Be careful of what you post.  Do not write about drinking every weekend, do not write negative things about a co-worker or boss, do not write about how much you hate your blog...  All of those things have the potential of reflecting back on you by an employer or potential employer.  Now that we covered what not to do, let's cover everyone's question.  How can blogging lead to job opportunities?

Oct 1, 2012

PR Companies: How to Pitch to a Mom Blogger

Like most mom bloggers, I receive quite a few pitches via e-mail every single week.  As a mom blogger with a day job and two small childrern, I can't respond to every single pitch I receive and I do feel bad about that.  Instead, I respond to the ones that make sense to me, are correctly written and ones that fit in with my blog and demographic.  Correctly written? You may be saying... Yes, correctly written!  You wouldn't believe how many pitches I get that go directly to the trash bin in my e-mail.  These are just generically written e-mails with no real mention of myself or my blog.  So, how do you correctly write a pitch for a mommy blogger?  Take note of these simple tips below.

Sep 29, 2012

We are Going to Have a New Look Soon!

I've been too busy lately and haven't had too much time to upkeep this blog properly.  Since May I have been really promoting and working on my Virtual Assisting & Social Media Consulting business, being a mom, looking for a full time job and trying to upkeep my home.  It's hard being a single mom and trying to do it all, but I've been overworking myself trying to get it all done.  I absolutely love this blog and love the mommy blogger "blogosphere" and do not want to neglect it anymore.  This is how I escape from my home and am able to communicate with other moms;  I love it with all my heart.  

Sep 14, 2012

Ubokia Marketplace

There are plenty of people fed up with some other online auction/selling sites for their stupid quotas to some sellers, favoring other sellers and allowing those who illegally sell merchandise to keep on doing their business.  Honestly, as a single mother who likes to sell on those sites, I was feeling pretty hopeless that I wouldn't be able to sell my unwanted items anymore.  However, I heard about Ubokia which is an online marketplace that you're allowed to post what you're looking for and what you have for sale.  Ubokia also uses UTrust verification to weed out the crazies from the true sellers, you don't have to worry about illegal action going on here!

Ubokia has been around since 2011 but is now quickly rising to the top of the online ecommerce marketplace due to mom bloggers who believe in their business because of their privacy, security and how they connect like-minded consumers. Ubokia is quickly rising past their competition of EBay and Craigslist, which is an incredible feat for the company!

The best part? Ubokia allows you to add their "Marketplace" to your site, meaning you can make some extra cash!  (What mom can't use extra cash these days?!)  So go ahead and dabble with Ubokia right now! It's free, safe and a great way to find and sell things!

Sep 7, 2012

Back to School! :)

Now that my kids are going back to school it will be a lot easier for me to blog.  This summer has been so hectic with going on trips, trying to find work for me and making the decision for me to go back to school.  Yes, I actually made the decision to go back to college!  Technically, I'm going to college but not going going to college. lol  I'm going to school online and majoring in Business Management with a specialization in Internet Marketing.  As much as I love art and absolutely loved going to go to art school, I made the decision that art is just too much for me to major in.  There's long projects and a lot of long hours that I just can't handle with two kids and there isn't much I can do with a 2D Fine Arts degree anyway.  It was a hard decision to major in Business Management but I feel it will actually be worth it for me.

Aug 31, 2012

Surviving Vacations with your Little Ones

Since we are on a budget we couldn't do too much this summer but we did go on one trip with my beautiful girls.  We decided to go to a waterpark down the Jersey shore.  It was a small waterpark but so much fun for the kids.  Now that the girls are older and very into vacations, I was only half prepared for the fun ("fun") we had.  Since this experience, I now know more and would like to share my lessons that I have learned.

Pack Snacks and Activities - Even though our drive wasn't too long (only and hour and a half) I had some activities packed to keep the kids busy during the drive.  One thing I've learned is that kids are impatient and the words "Are we there yet?" after the first two times get quite annoying.  I brought along my iPad with plenty of games for my kids and also through my daughter's iPod in there as well. (Along with a pair of ear buds.  As much as I love Angry Birds, the music can grind on your nerves!)  

Apr 11, 2012

Writing Successful Blog Posts & Articles; Beginners Tips

Many freelance writers and bloggers start off worrying what to write about and how to write it well.  They may write an article or blog post and hesitate about pressing the "send" or "publish" button and making it final for others to read.  That feeling is completely normal, worrying that your writing isn't up to par for being published. You may wonder if others will be receptive to what you have written.  Especially to a new writer who wants to impress an audience, this feeling can be so overwhelming and can cloud the real vision of their writing.

Honestly, without strong content, a blog or article is nothing.  Content is what engages people, what keeps them coming back and what keeps them on a blog or website for a good amount of time.  (In more technical words, it reduces your bounce rate.)  To write well, follow these simple steps.

Apr 10, 2012

A post for National Sibling Day: Adoption and Finding who you really are.

I don't really remember the exact age I found out I was adopted, I just always knew and grew up learning all about adoption and knowing that I had two families who loved me very much.  Since I was born in 1985, my records were sealed and it was a completely closed & private adoption.  The only information I had was the small amount of non identifying information that Catholic Charities had given my parents at the time of my placement.  

All my life I was brought up as an only child and wondering if I had any siblings that I could have grown up with or known.  Even though I was extremely happy with my family and even though I was so thankful that my birth mother decided to give me a better life, I always wondered what could have been if she had chosen a different path and kept me.  I think that's a completely normal thought and feeling for all adoptees who don't know where they came from.  It's just a piece of the puzzle that most people want to know.

From Blogger to Business. Writing a PR Pitch to Companies.

The most frequent question on bloggers' minds is, "How other bloggers get products to review & giveaway?"

While it might seem exciting to get something for free to review, it's also a lot of hard work to write the review and please the company.  It's not getting something for nothing, like many think.  It's getting a product to review to give the company publicity and writing an efficient review to go along with it.  Basically, the free product is getting paid for the review & real estate on your blog.

Let the company know why you are unique and what you can specifically do for them.  When pitching a company it's imperative to include this information so you can hook the company into reading the rest of your pitch.  Explain to them why you are unique and why they should choose you and your blog for their PR needs.

Apr 9, 2012

Misconceptions & Myths about Work At Home Moms

Work At Home Moms or WAHMs make up a large portion of mothers in this day and age.  While there are many different reasons a woman would choose to be a WAHM, being home with her children and/or saving on childcare is one of the main reasons.  Childhood goes by so quickly and many women want to be able to enjoy every single minute and milestone of their child's life.  However, there are some large misconceptions and myths about Work At Home Moms, as there may be for other career paths/choices.

1. Work At Home Moms just sell for a living.

While there may be many WAHMs that do sell various products or services for a living (Avon, Mary Kay, Insurance, etc...) there are many women who do not.  The majority of Work at Home Moms have their own businesses and are working on developing their brand and business.  Women are brave & brilliant and most have the motivation, determination and drive to jump in with both feet to kick start their business and build it to success.

Apr 5, 2012

Product Review vs Promotion

Let's start with  the question so many people have, "Why are companies willing to send bloggers free products to review?"  Simple!  Sending bloggers an item for review is a very dirt cheap way of getting items promoted.  Companies hope that people who read the blogs the item is posted on will visit their site and buy the featured product, or even other products.  Occasionally, to certain companies, it doesn't matter the blog has 100, 200 or 20,000 readers; any exposure is good exposure and any hits the site might get was worth the small amount of money the company lost while sending that free product.  In reality, if a company was to contact a larger media outlet for promotion, they would have to shell out a free product and a good amount of money to be mentioned at all.  Companies find advertising with bloggers to be a steal.

Apr 4, 2012

Starting a New Job vs. New Girl in Class

Starting a new office job is like walking in as the "new girl" in the middle of the school year.  You want to look your best and dress to impress everyone, but you also are very nervous and don't know if you'll be able to make friends.  Maybe adults don't have "cliques", is what I was trying to remind myself, but I wouldn't know until I actually got there and found out.

Thankfully, as I walked into the old warehouse converted to office building and into my "department", everyone seemed very kind and nice.  My boss introduced me to everyone and explained to me that I was in charge of contacting for the Boston and Houston divisions of our company, yay me.  She then asked me to sit in on my other co-workers calls, just to see what I would have to be doing, no problem!  It actually seems pretty easy, important and yet still a little fun.  My job is a lot of hard work, which actually will make the day go quickly once I finally start doing all of my actual duties next week.

Since I've never had an actual office job before, only retail, getting my desk was very exciting.  It's a fairly decent sized cubicle, but I've never had a place of my own before.  I was really excited to get it decorated a bit to make it more "mine".  Of course, I couldn't go all out and use an incredible amount of pink, but I could still find a way to make my mark on my cubicle. Simplistic, girly and yet me!  That would be my challenge!

Mar 31, 2012

I never thought I'd say this sucks!

I know, I know...most people who know me very well probably had dropped jaws when they read the title up there, but it's true.  I'm starting to despise shopping! (Well, ok...I'm lying...only clothes shopping.)  Shopping for myself for everyday casual wear is so completely different, but when you're shopping for clothes for work, it gets frustrating. 

Let's start from the very very beginning of today

When I heard both my girls were going to my ex's house for the weekend, I was so happy. LOL! I love my kids, please don't get me wrong, but my two girls fight like crazy constantly and there's never a clean room or peaceful moment in the house.  As they left, I took my mom with me and we decided to go out for a little bit.

I work right off the New Jersey Turnpike about maybe 50 feet from the Holland Tunnel.  It's very easy to get to my office by going down the NJ Turnpike, but in the morning when I leave (8:30) there's A LOT of Holland Tunnel traffic that I just can't get past.  So, my mom decided to take a ride with me to my office but showing me a local way to get there instead of going down the Turnpike everyday.  So we took a ride there and I have to say....DUH! The freaking way she showed me to go is just plain common sense that I should have realized.  I felt like an idiot, actually. (Which happens often, it's not a new feeling for me.)

After taking that ride, we decided to stop at TJ Maxx. My mom wanted to see if she could get a dress for my birthmother's wedding, Alayna needed something nice for picture day on Wednesday and I wanted to look for some desk accessories for work and for some shirts for work.  I found some beautiful shirts that I absolutely loved, but when I tried them on everything was either too short, too fitted, too ugly on me or just made cheaply.  Out of 14 shirts I tried on, I walked out with two.  I hate when that happens.  I also didn't get any desk accessories; they hardly had anything. :(

So now I'm headed out to see a local town show that my best friend is a stage manager for.  Maybe at least I'll have some fun tonight, since my shopping day sucked.  Ha. At least I'm still childless for another day!

Mar 27, 2012

Life....And everything else

Life has been so complicated lately, it's so hard to get motivated to do anything.  Being unemployed for as long as I have been is just frustrating.  It's scary when you're on minimal unemployment, a freelance writer and work is not steady enough to have an income coming in every single week like clockwork.  Sometimes you never know where your next meal will come from or when you'll be able to buy the kids new clothes that actually fit them correctly.  That's pretty much been my life since I got laid off in October.  Frustration, fear, anger with myself and my previous employer; just plain being unmotivated to do much.  (And my house shows that.)

I'm happy to say that I do have a new job, which I start on Friday.  I'm going to be working as a sales rep for a document storage company.  It pays hourly plus commission and has a great benefits/vacation plan.  I'll be working full time, in an office and I feel I'll have a much more positive outlook on life in general.  I'm very excited and can't wait until I start getting paychecks again.  I won't feel like such a failure to my kids and my family.

Since I got the new job, I splurged on getting a haircut and highlights.  My stylist, who I've gone to for 15 years, was so happy that I was starting a new job, he said he was going to do the best style and color job that he has ever done.  I'm very happy with the outcome and can't wait to show it off even more.   I feel like the cut of my hair makes me look a little more sophisticated & smart and since my hair is so thick it's a large weight off my shoulders. (Literally!)  It's quite a bit of work since my stylist says I need to come in twice a month for a glaze, since the highlights are red, but he's willing to work with me and reduce the price or do one for free.  So, I'm not complaining too much. :)

I can't wait to blog here full time again.  My mom actually brought up my lack of blogging today and I really do miss it.  Since I'm more upbeat and happy about my new job and life in general, I have the motivation to post more often.

Talk to you all very soon!

Mar 2, 2012

Long Time No Post

I wish I could say that I've been busy, but that's not even the reason I haven't posted lately. On top of sending out a crazy amount of resumes hoping to get a full or part time job, I've also been working on my virtual assistant business site, hoping to gain clients and driving my mom and kids around. I have also been dealing with a battle with identity theft and the IRS. (I'll explain what's going on in a future post.).

As of this time, I don't have a full time or even a part time job, but I have been getting some prospects from my virtual assistant business of some clients that may want to sign on with me for some temporary work. While its not a job that will pay a lot, it's something to contribute to the support of my family for now. I just feel like I need to do something with my time...I can't just sit around anymore, it's being too unproductive.

On top of that, I've been doing decent at my jewelry business. My Etsy business is really taking off and though I've only had 18 sales in 4 months, it's still great progress. I do what I can!

That said, I am going to start posting more. I just haven't had the motivation lately...

Sorry for neglecting all of you, and I promise that won't happen again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Jan 30, 2012

Low Carb Recipe: Cheese Crisps (Imitation Cheese Nips)

When I was on Atkins back in 2003/2004, I lost a lot of weight and had almost no cravings.  I also learned tons of different recipes and snack ideas, this was one of them!  I used to be a member of an Atkins Diet Bulletin Board and found this awesome recipe for imitation cheese nips!  They definitely do taste like them too!

  • 1 cup hard hand grated cheese. This would be parmesan, asiago, swiss, cheddar, etc...

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
* If you use cheddar and other firm but not hard cheeses will work with this recipe, but it won't get as crisp and as crunchy as Parm or Asiago or other hard cheeses.  The oil will separate from the cheddar and you'll have to pat it off before you eat it.
  • (Optional)  You can toss your grated cheese with any seasoning you'd like, or you can just leave the cheese the way it is.  It depends what your favorite flavor is.
  • You can either pile the cheese (2-3 tsp) on parchment paper making little towers or you can spread the cheese the whole size of the baking sheet, making one flat cheese sheet! You will slice these later.
  • Bake 5 to 6 minutes until they are a light golden brown (they will be a little darker at the edges). It happens fast, so watch carefully.

Jan 28, 2012

Saturday Randomness: My diet, Shop and More!

This is just a crapload of random all in one post. :)  I didn't want to make more than one post today -- completely lazy! :)  So let's start diet!  I'm doing so well.  I'm going on week three right now and I've lost a little over 15lbs.  I got to the place where I don't even crave any junk food that's bad for me and that's just perfectly fine with me!  I'm trying my best to get to my goal weight and I feel that with this diet it will happen.  I have the willpower and motivation this time around. Go me!  I feel positive, optimistic and just happy with my results so far.  The bad part is, I haven't had time (or money) to sign up for a gym, so exercising isn't in my plan right now.  I've been searching around for maybe a small piece of exercise equipment to put in the basement near my art studio; that's been a major fail.  Besides, I remember what happened when I bought an elliptical a few years ago.  I thought it was "small" because it said so on the site I bought it from.  Well, this thing ended up being a freaking monster and it took me forever to sell the damn thing. There are times where I regret selling it, but this thing couldn't budge from our living room with just my mom and I carrying it.  

Jan 27, 2012

Gems The Word: Xpress Yourself Collection & Some beautiful new items!

I've been working so hard on my Gems The Word shop as well as our brand new website!  We now have!  Today, I unveiled my Xpress Yourself collection, that I absolutely love.  Each pendant is hand drawn and placed securely in an antique vintage style frame pendant.  It's laminated and has a PVC photo covering on the frame as well.  This is so durable and so adorable! :)  Here is what I posted!

For a limited amount of time, you can get 10% off your entire purchase with Gems The Word -- Just use code THANKYOU

Jan 24, 2012

Sponsored Post: Kevin Frank and Real Estate in Vancouver

Property for Sale Vancouver

In a time when buying and selling homes is extremely difficult, Kevin Frank is here to help you out completely and ease your mind. Kevin is your go to guy on the West Side of Vancouver, which is a beautiful area! One of the great things is that he lives in the area that he works in and shows homes in, so he knows the ins, outs and great places around this area.  You definitely do want a Realtor who is extremely knowledgeable about the area and who can give you an honest opinion about the area in which you're going to be living.

Kevin is approved by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and has a great track record helping families and first time home buyers find their homes.  He has been in the industry for 10 years and is a very seasoned and successful Realtor.  An important quality in a Realtor is that they love what they do and are passionate about their job.  Frank does love what his career is and he enjoys helping people find their homes and loves to assist them in such an important decision and investment in their lives and futures.

Are you looking to sell your home but not sure how to go about it? Are you anxious about selling your home and need some guidance?  Kevin can definitely do that!  He has a special section on his site just for those selling their homes.  He has many educational articles on the process, how to list and how to stage your home for showings.  The peace of mind and guidance that his site can give to you is incredible, and that's important to someone who is anxious about putting their home on the market.  

If you are looking to buy or sell your home in the West Side of Vancouver, Canada -- Contact Kevin Frank and he will be happy to give you all the assistance you would need!

Property for sale Vancouver

DISCLAIMER:  This is a sponsored post and these are solely my opinions and not opinions persuaded by Kevin Frank.  I was compensated for this post.

Sponsored Post: Accessories Loft Review

Accessories Loft is an accessory lover's heaven!  They have some absolutely beautiful brooches, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and so much more that are fashionable and stylish.  One of my favorite items is the beautiful Classic Rose Brooch/Hair Piece!  This is such a beautiful piece and is also so functional, being a brooch and a hair piece in one!   Another favorite is the Bird and Butterfly necklace.  I love the brass look and the very modern look that's slightly edgy.  It's a piece that would look good with multiple outfits!


One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a ring... Accessories Loft has some great rings on their site such as this beautiful and unique Angel Wings Ring and the Double Ended Ring.  Both of those rings have such a unique look, I've never seen anything like it before.

So definitely check out Accessories Loft

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  All opinions in this post are mine and mine alone, not the opinions persuaded by Accessories Loft.  I was compensated for this post.