Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Free Stanford classes...um, yes please!

I heard Stanford was offering free classes online and find it hard to pass up the chance to learn something valuable (for free).  Thinking about signing up for this one:

Technology Entrepreneurship Part 1

They have other classes, check them out if you have the time.  This kind of class would normally cost thousands especially at Stanford. 

Happy New Year 2013!!!

Almost every year (for at least the last 10), my new year resolution has been the same - lose weight, make more money and save more money. 

This year I plan on being less hard on myself and doing my best to do as much as i can (give more, be more, exercise more, love more, live more, appreciate more).  What is your New Year resolution?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Today was so beautiful and we spent our Christmas in Santa Cruz just the 4 of us.  My older sons are in LA but I was with them both over the last few days.  

I'm so thankful for everything this year and really want to make an effort to focus on giving during the holidays so the little ones understand the real meaning of the season (not just getting gifts).  A little hard to explain to a 3 and 6-year old but we are sure trying.  

Since we did our family Christmas in LA on Monday, today I made chili in the crockpot.  Threw it all together this morning and it came out pretty darn good if i don't say so myself.  I didn't add any chile peppers on purpose hoping the kids would eat it but it was a bit too spicy for the littles so my attempt to make my life easy with the slow cooker was a bit derailed.  I ended up making coconut chicken for them anyway :)

Speaks Family Christmas Chili
(serves 8-10)

1-lb hot ground sausage
1-lb stew meat
1-lb hamburger meat 80/20 is fine
1 slice uncooked bacon (just saved a piece from breakfast that i didn't cook)

2 cans chili beans
2 cans (10 oz) cans of Rotel Diced tomatoes & Green Chiles
2 cans of kidney beans
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 red bell pepper chopped 
1 giant yellow onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1/2-1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream for garnish

Brown all meat (except bacon) with olive oil in a pan with garlic and throw in crock pot.  Add everything else into crock pot including one slice raw bacon.  You can add more raw bacon...i could only save one piece from breakfast without a riot.  Don't add cheese until about an hour before it's done cooking.  Cook on low 5+ hours.  Add cheese about an hour before serving.  Serve with sour cream and a wedge of lemon if too spicy.

*Also, can probably cut one of the pounds of meat if you are making this for less people.  We have a ton left and it filled my giant crock pot.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tweets the new online currency?

I received an email from a rather smart marketing company (to remain anonymous) offering me 5 free infographic templates.  I thought, why not and went to download them.  Usually when you go to download content (if it's any good) you are asked for your information.  The purpose being that they are trading the content for your information because it is worth it for them to supply you with content if they are able to get you into their funnel, be able to nurture you and eventually convert you into a customer.  Today, when i went to click the "Download" button, i noticed another button next to it that said "Pay with a tweet".  This, my friend, is pure genius.  This way, the marketer captures your info and gets you to help them build their brand on social media networks.  There is also the option to put a mention on LinkedIn or fb.  I'm more than willing to "pay" for content I'm interested in with a quick tweet or fb mention.  This company captured a new way to capitalize on social media, referral marketing and capture their customer in the process. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving, 2013

We hosted Thanksgiving this year and had my mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law join us.  It was small and almost perfect.  I say "almost" perfect because my eldest son couldn't make it and stayed back in LA to work (and have Thanksgiving with the other side of his family). 

The next day my cousin stopped by with her family and the kids had a blast playing with them.  Charlotte had a ton of fun with her girl cousin dressing up in different outfits.  My favorite is her as "Alice" from Alice in Wonderland.

I'm so overwhelmed with thanks for all I have almost daily but it's always good to dedicate a day, weekend or an entire month to reminding yourself how fortunate you are.  I have so much to be thankful for and I'm most thankful for my family and that we are all healthy.

Our dinner table (and it was gorgeous weather!):

Charlotte in one of her many costumes the next day:


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Scroogled? really?

Google released a formal statement in response to the Microsoft Scroogled campaign,
Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise; competition in the wearables space really is heating up.”

Yesterday Microsoft released it's "Scroogled" campaign which is a merchandise line that say's "Scroogled" and "Stay Calm while we steal your data".  They even launched a website.

I'll be the first to admit that i was immediately put off by the Microsoft smear campaign against Google.  As i usually would be when a company puts a large amount of time and effort into smearing a competitor. 
Let's look at the facts on Google, who's motto by the way is "don't be evil":

Google was founded in 1997 with the mission of organizing the world's information.  Since 1997, besides being the world's top search engine, Google has established itself as the #1 Employer and has single handedly changed the way we shop, communicate, purchase, collect information, read and basically expanded the amount of information we can find with a click .  When they could've just stayed focused on their core business and what makes them money, they launched Google Grants, Google scholarships and Google.org (to develop technology to help address global challenges) with the commitment that technology can help make the world a better place.  

Oh, and let's not forget all the conveniences most of us take for granted:  Google Maps giving us the ability to have satellite views and directions, Google Earth to take us to anywhere virtually on earth that we want to go, Google Finance to help us manage our finances, Google Calendar to help us manage our time, Google Wallet so we don''t have to carry cash if we don't need to, Google translate to help translate any language in the world, Google Apps for education. 
oh and... gmail, gmaps, zeitgist, Search appliance, Google Shopping, gbooks, gblog, gAnalytics, Gtrends...the list goes on (I'm sure i could find a bunch more).

But, let's forget little ole us for a second and move back to the bigger picture Google is working on.  Besides grant programs, countless scholarships and an amazing culture they have built for employees, Google has a renewable energy project with the initiative to create renewable resources.  Besides decking out their own offices with Solar panels with the mission of being 100% operating on renewable energy, they have committed over $1 billion to renewable energy projects with the mission of creating a clean future environment for our world.  They started project Loon http://www.google.com/loon/ which is designed to give parts of the world that don't have it, internet access.  They also developed Crisis response to help connect people in other countries with loved ones in the wake of a disaster.

And, don't even get me started on how they treat their employees!  Ranked the #1 employer by Fortune year after year, Google creates a culture that ignites passion and promotes collaboration and productivity amongst it's employees.  Besides all the amazing perks Googlers receive (and i think if i listed them, this would be an enormous post), employees are given one week off a year as a global week of service to give back to the community.  They give 30,000 employees a week off to give back to their community! 

As far as additional ways they help us, it was just announced today that they've come to our rescue by helping us preserve our online reputations in an effort to make evil websites that blackmail people non-relevant in the search engines.  I don't know about you but my online rep is important! 

Okay, let's get back to the IBM "Scroogled" thing.  So, basically IBM is claiming that we are getting screwed by google.   Microsoft released a full line of anti-google periphenilia  saying Google steals your data and takes your keywords to learn your shopping habits and market back to you based on your interest. 

When it comes to the security of our information, Google is the only company that has a transparency site which shows the number of requests it gets from the government for consumer info.  Microsoft of course has no such thing so who knows what they do with our info.

When i looked up Microsoft charity contributions and how they have contributed to changing our world for a better place, they have raised 1b in 30 years for charity..which is awesome but that's all i found.   Oh and i found the site where i can buy anti-google stuff.

I guess the bottom line is that you need more than a catchy name and slogan to discredit a company that works hard to live up to their "don't be evil" motto. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Low Carb Chicken Taquitos

The other day I was on a mission to find a really good chicken taquito recipe.  I found that there was a "Baked Creamy Chicken Taquito" recipe slowly but surely making it's way across the internet on various blogger sites.  

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

(may want to double this recipe)
1/2 cup (4 oz) cream cheese (light works fine in this recipe)
1/3 cup green salsa
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup grated Pepperjack cheese
About 20 (6 inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and Pepperjack cheese and combine well.
Place 2-3 Tablespoons of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges and roll it up as tight as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet.
Lay all of the filled taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle some salt on top.
Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.
We love to dip these in a "salsa ranch" dip (we just mix together equal parts salsa and ranch dressing)

recipe courtesy of: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/09/baked-creamy-chicken-taquitos.html 

I made half of them with uncooked tortillas (after heating them up in a pan) and the other half low carb tortillas. 

After rolling them and baking them, the regular tortillas tasted way better so the next time I made the chicken taquito filling, I just heated up the low carb tortillas and made soft tacos. 

The low carb ones are the darker ones on the r/h side.  I warmed up both the uncooked and the low carb tortilla's prior to rolling them/baking them so the tortillas were easier to work with. 

I'm definitely going to experiment with other low carb tortillas and see if i can find one that bakes up well.  These came out to hard and flavorless.  The ones with regular tortilla were a big hit with my teenager and my 5 year old.

The filling filling is really good and i'm now on a mission to make a low carb version.  For now, I'll be eating low carb tacos :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2013 Came and Flew

So, it's been a while since I posted.  I've been busier than ever and have so much to update but will keep this as short as possible and will start with the biggest update (for us at least). 

We relocated to Northern California about 20-months ago for my husband's work.  We were excited about the move because the school district is so much better than LAUSD and it was time for a change for us.  We started out in San Jose and as much as we tried, couldn't like it.  It just didn't feel like us.  We have since moved to Santa Cruz and LOVE it.  We are right by the beach and since we moved here in May we spent the summer at the beach.  Not a day passed that we didn't walk along the beach or take the kids down to the beach.  It was amazing.  We love everything about the city of Santa Cruz.  It's such a great, little sleepy beach town.  Everyone here has been so nice to us and it's just a really laid back atmosphere which is probably what we needed most.  The downsize to living here is that we both have to commute to work but we still feel it's well worth it.  We go to sleep listening to the waves crashing and wake up to see the sunrise over the ocean - doesn't get much better than that.  It's starting to get cold here now which is like 60 degrees (cold to us!). 

The other downside besides the commute is our family and friends are 6 hours away.  We talk on facebook, texting and calls but it's just not the same.  We've had most of them come up and visit by now which was nice.  We are so busy with work/kids that the year flew by and here I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the holidays again! 

I'll update you on our job situation - another exciting thing to post about.
  For now, I'll leave you with a picture of my view :)