Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

I've Moved [For the Last Time]

I made the big move to WordPress! Come on over and see me.
How easy is this URL?!?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Live Before Your Very Eyes!

I finally recorded a VLOG! Honestly it's more of a screen test. I really wanted to see how it worked and looked.

Two things you will immediately notice:
1. That it was obviously nap time and I was speaking with a nap time voice.
2. I am obviously used to teaching ninth graders with my expressions. =)

Regardless of reviews I am definitely doing this again!

A big thank you to the fabulous MARIA for helping me get this thing uploaded. You better go check her out as soon as you leave here. 

Gotta love that freeze frame:


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yes, I'm 5'11

Another Crazy Five Question Friday

1. Did you have a favorite blanket or toy as a kid? If so, do you still have it?

This is a pretty embarrassing story. I had a nice fluffy eyelet baby blanket that was barely ever used. I remember just draping it over the corner of my bed. When I got toward the end of high school or starting college I began sleeping with it because it would roll up perfectly into whatever I needed it to be at home or traveling. Eventually, it got to where I couldn't sleep without it. 

On a beach trip to Destin my last semester of college in 2007 I went with some friends to a corporate party. When we left the next day and were about 20 minutes down the road I realized that I had left it.

Since the rooms were in a friend's name I had to give them the last name Carter and since my friend other friend Chrissy made the call to housekeeping, I had to go to the concierge and pick up a children's blanket for "Chrissy Carter." When the manager brought it to me he said, "I hope the little one wasn't too upset." I simply replied, "Oh, she'll be ok now." 

Interestingly enough one of the guys that went with us that weekend was a friend of my husband's (whom I hadn't yet met), so when we began dating a month or so later…guess what the first story he heard about me was? He should've known then… =)

Thought I would throw a pic in from that trip.

Ironically, a year and a half later I was back at the same resort for a writing conference when I left it AGAIN. I wasn't so lucky that time, and I haven't seen it since. It was probably for the best since I was 23 at the time.

2. Do you dream in color?

Yes, I do. About 80% of the time I know that I am dreaming, as well, so if I think something is going to be painful I usually wake myself up; and about 20% of the time I do not want them to end, especially the ones when I am in a tropical or resort-like location, which isn't that rare.

3. How tall are you? Do you wish you were shorter or taller?

I am 5'11. I DO NOT wish I were taller, nor have I ever. I have been the "tallest" since kindergarten. Not only was I always the tallest at school, I was always the youngest because I have a September birthday. This did not stop me from wearing 3 in. heels when I first started teaching either. 

Some of my wonderful juniors with me in 2007.

When I was younger it sucked, but when I got into college and would go out, it was always "Who's your tall friend?" or as I was apparently referred to by the boys where I taught "Amazon Warrior Princess." Hmm, yeah. A junior boy whom I had previously taught waited at my classroom door every morning for the month before the sweetheart dance, expecting me to say yes as his date. Seriously?! Thank you, Deborah LaFave for making that appear attainable. Later on in the year I heard that this student told an entire class, "I would like to climb her like a mountain. " Let's just say that it came in handy that my husband, then boyfriend, was their football coach. =)

4. If you could have anyone's (celeb or other) voice as the guide on your GPS, who would it be?

Oh my, this is tough, and I am the one who sent it in to Mama M.! I love Jenna Lamia's voice; she read the part of Skeeter on the audio recording of The Help. I know that there is another voice that I cannot think of! Ugh! 

5. Do you return your shopping cart to the corral or leave it wherever in the parking lot?

I pretty much always return it. When I do not it's because it is dark, late, and not very smart to walk all the way across the parking lot by myself. I actually did this last night because I had to go to the generally weird, creepy Wal-Mart at 10:30 p.m.


P.S. I posted a sort of Clif's Notes on the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge Day 6 with SITS yesterday, if you want some tips for a better blog.
Check it out!

Smart and Trendy Moms

New Friend Fridays

I Violated One of the Cardinal Rules of Blogging

Apparently I violated one of the cardinal rules of blogging:

Funny thing is that when I did it, I actually felt that it was something that I maybe shouldn't do it.

Next time I will go with my gut.

I learned an infinite amount of bloggy info. from Saturday's homework assignment, and, yes, I know it is now Wedneday. If you are participating in the SITS Problogger Challenge, you know what I mean.

If you are not following along in the challenge it's never too late. Plus,  today is your lucky day because I am giving you the Clif's Notes on day six of thirty-one! 

This lesson is henceforth divided into three sections: Posts, Comments, and Sharing

{ Posts & Posting }

In sharing, I am going to do this section opposite of the traditional good news/bad news form by spreading the good news first. Well, it's good news for me. I hope it is for you, too!
  • Don't run any ads! [I don't!]
  • Coin a term. [Done! hilasterous]
  • "I hate AdSense on blogs." [Agreed. But I understand if you don't.]
  • Don't use lines and lines of text. [No problem here, too lazy.]
  • Don't clutter your website with badges. [I created the Blogellas tab for this very reason.]
  • Share link love and expect some back. [One of my favorite things to do, especially with my grammar blog.]
I did something right!

…and I absolutely love this line from Seth Godin:

"Digest the good ideas of other people all day every day."

~ Lessons Learned ~

1. One of my favorite probloggers Seth Godin says, "Write short, pithy posts," and Chris Brogan, one my new favorite blog masterminds, says, "Brevity rules."

I completely agree! The first blog I ever read is still one of my favorites, and she writes these best short posts on Texas Word Tangle. Rhea posts short, maybe not even full paragraphs at times, posts that may simply share an event or ask a question. Plus, I found SITS through Rhea's blog back in January!

2. Seth also says to "be snarky." I love to say, read, and type this word, and ironically this is how I am IRL; however, in the bloggy world I do not like to be snarky. If I cannot encourage someone or be positive in a comment, I do not like to at all. I hear about blog drama and virtual cat fights all the time, and I do not wish to understand it.

3. "Share your expertise generously; people will recognize it and count on you for it." This is what I am hoping to do with my transplant experience. I wish that patients and their friends and family would read my transplant experience and feel more comforted in knowing what to expect. I should go back and expand more on how I was actually feeling and acting on the specific days that were posted pre-transplant that my MIL wrote for me. I am also planning on posting on a more consistent basis on my grammar blog.

4. "Don't just post." Ask a question and spark a discussion.

{ Proof It! Preaching to the Choir }

5. "With the advent of feeds, once you publish there is no going back." AMEN! I am going to start waiting an hour after I spew it out then hit publish because I make about 5 changes on average every time after I publish. A lot of the time I even add pictures and more content.

Take a close look! 
{Credit: Our sweet baby cousin Ezra}

{ Get Your Grammar Together }

6.  Let me make something very clear: I do not believe in strictly adhering to the crazy, at times non-sensical rules of English grammar on a blog. Most of us blog to get something off of our chests and who gives a crap if there is a comma splice or run on sentence!!! I do, however, believe in making it readable. I should not have flashbacks to ninth grade love notes that I used to take up when reading the blog of an adult. I once graded the paper of an eleventh grade honors student who ended every single sentence with an exclamation point.

"Write exceptionally well," says Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. 

Look at the tables below. Do you see a pattern here???

This is why I like the idea of my grammar blog. There are writers out there who want to improve their writing, and I have the emails and DMs to prove it.

{ Have a an Irresistable Hook: Yep, That's Not Going to Happen Everyday Around Here }

7. Darren Rowse, the creator of the 31 Days to a Better Blog experience himself, has four key ingredients to a good title. How important is a good title? Well, we have been hearing since, what… 3rd grade maybe, that the title and first line are your hook? You need an "attention grabber."  Same is true x's ten in the bloggy world.
- Simplify -
- Communicate -
- Key Words -
- Grab Attention -

Something like this should do...
This is actually a book of the best NYP headlines. =)

Here is a link to a more detailed list of Darren's four tips for titles, and here is another good link: "How to Write Headlines That Work."

{ We Love to Post a Pic }

8. Get your pics above the fold! In other words, get them above that first scroll. If a reader has to scroll before seeing any images, chances are that they won't.

9. Flickr…oh how I have wondered about Flickr. I usually get my images from We♥It, iStock, or Google Images, but randomly grabbing some images from wherever you like can have consequences, apparently. Skellie from Skelliewag explains how Flickr and the various image licenses work. I still have more research to do on this. I noticed early on that iPhoto on my laptop had a direct upload link to Flickr, but I had been with Photobucket for about six years now and have to do a little more research before migrating.

{ Digg, Digging, Dugg }

10. Digg, Digg, Digg!!! I am currently in the process of adding these buttons to my blog. It is also recommended that you do not post "share links" on every single post, that way when those buttons are there, your reader is more likely to notice them and be inclined to share.

I completely agree. I am so used to seeing these buttons on some blogs that I do not even pay them any mind sometimes. Well, that and I didn't know how to use them, with the exception of Facebook and Twitter or via email.

Besides, do I seriously want someone to Digg my post for the Valentine's Day Photobooth Saturday or  my husband's random notes?

{ Domains for $10 - C'mon! }

11. "Keep your URL short." Done. I got tired of sounding out my own even if I did think it was cute. Quit using the address. FYI: GoDaddy is running a sale on domain names. This is where I got all of mine. Even if you don't want to use it now, go ahead and reserve so that you don't get stuck with a .net, .info, or .org. There are many other domain purchase options. I just happened to be really impressed with GoDaddy's customer service when they called to check on things and make sure that I wasn't paying for something I wasn't using, like my Wordpress hosting, and promptly offering a refund!

{ Google's Secret Recipe }

12. "Grow your Google authority." I do not deny that I would love for my blog to pop up every time someone searched for transplant but the truth is I am not writing to please the machine. Besides it has become apparent that no one really knows the magic formula for getting your page to pop up as a top result; it's sort of like the New York Times Bestsellers list.

This web illustrates how that authority is most likely determined.

13. There is an article about bad business ideas that I am not talking about because it has several annoying typos, like I often do, so it was hard for me to take it as an authority. Although, I do believe it wasn't meant to be taken seriously anyway. I am not going to be snarky about it, even if Seth Godin tells me to be snarky about it. =)

{ Umm…what? } 

14. Now, Daniel Scocco from Daily Blogging Tips says to use CSS over HTML. Guess I better get out my HTML, XHTML, & CSS for Dummies and look at the difference. Yes, I do actually own it. While I am at it I guess I better learn what what ALT + Title attributes are since I should be using them as well. Then I will do a little Googling about Javascript links since I am supposed to "avoid" them.

{ Ok, I Know How to Do That }

15. Include functional links in your footer, since there is were readers typically go on regular websites for contact, about, etc.

{ Oil is to Water as _____________ is to Blogging }

16. Don't put your name in that blank just yet! I loved the material by Chris Brogan. He gave some great tips that I actually didn't make me feel like a blogging dumba***s* liked the sound of.

One of the first things he mentions is using analogies and stories to get your material across. I love analogies, and I always forget to use them; but think about it. Do you not pretty much always understand something better when someone uses an analogy? I quickly added that to my "DUH LIST," and here is the rest of it via Chris's advice.


1. "Make the main point in the first paragraph."

2. "You don't have to write in complete sentences, but use them sparingly. Like this. Like a condiment. Keep paragraphs small."

3. "Don't "blurt" the post automatically. Not every post is worth Twitter."

4. "Look at Google Trends to see what folks are writing about." He also mentioned looking at ALLTOP for topics, which I did. Love it.

5. Open with a question. I always encourage my students to find a better hook that a question, and now I am being told the opposite. Nice.

6. "Use an editorial calendar & get on a regular posting schedule." A while back a fella blogger ( I say fella because I feel like fellow is a masculine term.) posted about editorial calendars or wrote about them or something, and now I have lost the link. 

7. "Use the word you are thinking about, not a fancier more polite word." WOW. That's hard to tell an English major who is constantly searching for the perfect word.

8. Here's a direct quote from Chris, "And never never never (raise your hand and repeat this with me) “I” (state your name) “solemnly swear never never never never ever to post another ‘I’m sorry I haven’t blogged lately’ posts ever again. Ever.” ...Oops.

9. "At least post once a week." Need help? Here is a link to 100 of Chris's blogging topics. I also have Jump Start: 510 Great Ideas for Your Blog from Cynthia @ A Shimmy in My Spirit it has a nice aesthetic. I have it printed out on cardstock in a binder.

10. "Add your URL to your email signature."

{ Comments & Commenting }

All of the following quotes came from master blogger and marketing extraordinary Seth Godin. =)

1. "Answer your email." If a reader takes time to write an email to me, it will not go unanswered. As much as I would like to think that I am too busy or popular to respond to a personal email, that is delusional.

2. "Include comments so that your blog becomes a virtual water cooler." I would love to do this. At one point I did have Intense Debate installed so that I could comment and respond publicly to every single comment. However, it erased all of the comments that were posted before I installed it then took all of the ones posted via ID with when it poofed, so now I just play it safe until I move to WordPress hopefully sometime in the fall, after I learn more about it at BBC. ;)

3. "Don't send the same email to a large number of people. Do not be tempted to copy & paste or mail merge." Ugh! I would never.  I would only do that with wedding thank you notes. I hope this includes Twitter DMs because they are the DEVIL, and I am sick of them. If that hurts your feelings, I am really sorry, but now you know. Go fix it.

4. "Don't mush the salutation together with the rest of the note."


Dear Bethany, I am glad that you are passing on all of these blogging pointers.

"That's not personal - it's lazy merging."
(Besides being just completely wrong.) 

One day I will share with you the various ways that Hubs's ninth grade summer school students addressed envelopes for him one summer. EEK!

And my two favorite points of all:

5. "Don't mark your email *urgent*. - Urgent to you is not urgent to me." 

6. "Don't lie in the subject line; you're not clever enough to be cute. Just be honest."

{ Social Media & Sharing }

1. "Use to tag your posts". (I need a for Dummies book.) I hope they make a Social Media for Dummies book.

2. "Encourage readers to Digg your posts," and use Furl (now Diigo) and Reddit. 

3. Still wondering if, Technorati, Digg, Reddit, Furl (now Diigo), StumbleUpon, Tweetmeme, etc. are a good idea for getting your content out there? Look at these graphics.

I found Dan Zarella's website in researching social media numbers.
You will find it super helpful and interesting if you are interested in stepping things up.

Just for laughs...

To my fellow 31DBBBs, 

That wraps up my work for days 6 - 8. I did days 7 - 8 without even realizing it! 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mission: List

Ibegan writing this post while I was waiting on my clinic appointment, since I was about an hour early. I then proceeded to delete it when I was having my laptop checked out at the Apple store. Grr. I was in the "zone," too: great little lines of bloggy bits and now…moving on. 

I have been reading the copy of Eat, Pray, Love that has been on my bookshelf for over a year, and now that the movie is coming out I want to tackle it. Except it's not a tackle. I am enjoying every second of it right now! I was not ready for her to leave Italy! That first portion of the book, telling of her time in Italy, made me so dang hungry. I settled for some La Madeleine and a stroll through my favorite store in all of New Orleans, a paperie named Scriptura. That little store just lights up my life and drives me to buy paper that I do not even need. I did however need something from there today: thank you notes for Finn. Plus, I picked up a little something for our friend Scarlett who is always there to help out Finn when something comes up.
She is marrying one of  Zac's buddies in April, and we are SUPER excited for them. She is also Finn's favorite babysitter. =) 

Moving on to today's Better Blogger Challenge…

We are asked to create a list in our post today. For some reason, this sent me into a state of panic. I have always used lists to organize things now and I ALWAYS used lists or outlines to study in college. I have no clue why it would, since one of my most popular posts ever have been lists like this and the one I am posting below. I am reposting this one below since it was on my other blog that I have somewhat abandoned and not too many folks saw, and the ones who did sent me lots-o-feedback. It is a list of low sugar or low fat substitutes that are helpful with the diet that I have also abandoned, but was somewhat reprimanded for at clinic today. I suppose that it is time to get back on the wagon.


Originally posted 2/12/10...
I am a deep-fried, strongly-seasoned, southern girl, so when I heard that I would have to adhere to a heart-healthy diet I thought that in itself would be enough to give me a heart attack. However, after losing over thirty pounds while in the hospital on a low to no sodium diet I learned to get used to it, and the weight loss was worth it. One of the first things I learned was, "where salt goes, water goes." So greatly reducing the sodium in your diet really knock of the pounds, and you really don't have to work to hard at it. 

With all of the material I was given by the hospital dietician and a little internet research, I soon learned that I had been eating a whole day's worth of sodium or more in one meal! It's no wonder they took ten pounds of fluid off of me the first 24 hours I was there! I love love love food, and there is nothing that I can think of off of the top of my head that I absolutely will not eat. So obviously cutting back is very difficult for me. I am very lucky in that my weight and figure directly correlates with my food intake, but I just love it too much. MY weight has fluctuated up and down by thirty pounds at least three times the past seven years. 

Before I get too sidetracked, let me get on with what I want to share with you in today's post. I have discovered a few things that have given "cutting back" a little flavor. All the items below are little things that make a big difference. I have found all of them at the local grocery store as well as Target and Wal-Mart. Each photo is linked to that company's website where you can look at nutritional info. and most them have some great recipes and other resources, too!

These are delish! I know it is hard to believe, but if I had not baked them, I would have never known the difference! They are so very fudgy, if that is a word. I baked mine in an 8 x 8 pan, but if you like them thicker than 1" use a mediumer pan.

I was introduced to this right out out of the hospital, and it saved my sweet tooth. Yumyumyum! This Peanut Butter Fudge is great, but they have a Butter Pecan that is out of this world. Portion control is this the key here since I struggle to keep from eating the whole tub. 

I was never a big yogurt fan, but this stuff is addictive! It's the ones with the commercial that talks about "Boston Creme Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, etc." it is sooo good. I have tried all of them; I think. There are probably about 10-15 "dessert" flavors. I do not recommend the chocolate
mousse or cinnamon roll...I almost gagged. However, the cherry cobbler and strawberry shortcake are to die for! My husband even agrees: there's your proof!

If you like chocolate milk, this is a decent substitute. I would be willing to bet that the Hershey's Syrup: Lite is better, and it actually has less sodium than this one.

I love butter and jelly on toast for breakfast, and these are great substitutes for the sugar-laden originals. They a slight hint of tartness to them due to obvious lack of sugar, but I like it. There are Sugar Free varieties and Low Sugar varieties; I didn't notice the difference until after I saw the label.

Now for the second part of my favorite breakfast habit: butter. This butter is soft, tasty, and most important of all SPREADABLE. I had tried the Smart Balance before and it was like wax. This seems just as good as Country Crock!

I know I didn't have much to say about their butter, but their mayo rocks! Once again, if I didn't scoop it out of the jar myself, I wouldn't have known that it wasn't Hellman's or Kraft. Plus, it has Omega-3s. Thanks, babe, for finding this one! My hubby does the grocery shopping, since he does all of the cooking. Trust me, this hasn't been easy for him either. They make a great cooking spray, too.

I never in a MILLION YEARS thought that I would use these! Just the thought of them made me gag, until one day my hubby made me an omelette with them and I later saw the carton next to the stove. I couldn't believe how good they were. The carton does say, "99% real eggs" I suppose. I like using them better than real eggs now. They are just easier to cook, clean up, and no scrambling involved, unless you add other stuff in like I do. 

The dietician at Ochsner told me about this stuff to use as a salt substitute. Let me just go ahead and admit this: there is no  substitute for salt: sorry, there just isn't. But, this comes pretty darn close. It has a distinct flavor, so use it sparingly. I once put too much on my eggs and nearly gagged. It helps give a little flavor to your dishes where Mrs. Dash may fail.

This probably one the most commonly known diet keys: substitute sour cream with plain yogurt. I do this with eggs, salsa, and other dip-type snack foods. Love it! I haven't gotten to the point where I can just eat it with a spoon yet, though.

I eat the croissant variety of these. You can definitely tell
that they are not McDonald's, but they are filling and tasty substitutes. Jimmy also makes good, tasty, juicy turkey sausage that I had for breakfast this morning.