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Social Media Marketing World 2014 – who’s with me?

(Links in this post are affiliate links.)

I went to Social Media Marketing World last year and really enjoyed it. Learned a lot and met some great people. And guess what? I finally decided to do it again this year.

Why? Lots of networking opportunities. You meet new people and get to talk shop as much as you want with people who understand what you do. But don’t approach it from a “What can you do for me?” attitude. Just treat everyone with respect and realize that person you meet now could send you business or answer a question or just become a really awesome friend.

It’s in San Diego. Need I say more? Yeah, I live here and I love it. You will, too.

There’s not a ton of time left, so go get your ticket while you can. Buy before Friday and you’ll get $100 off the price of your ticket. What are you waiting for? See you there!

Can’t make it in person? Save $250 on a virtual ticket before Friday as well!

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Um, thanks for the warning, HealthNet?

Over six months ago, HealthNet lost some hard drives. Well, IBM lost them, but they were HealthNet drives. As in, physically cannot find them, not “lost” as in crashed. And guess what? They had personal info on them! And guess what else? I JUST GOT A LETTER FROM THEM.

HealthNet was notified in January of a potential problem, yet I didn’t get a letter until early August (dated late July, though). Do you know how much damage someone could cause in six months? Yeah.

So while I’m grateful they have set me up with two years of free identity protection, it’s entirely possible that any damage that could be done already has been done.

Now tell me, why in the world do companies wait so long to send out notices?

PS) Stuff like this is why I haven’t written a BlogHer recap, although the rest of the internet apparently has. It’s coming. I think.

More Thanksgiving – Cranberry-Lime Salsa

One more bonus recipe for you – and it’s one of my favorites. Hubby makes it nearly every year and it’s perfect on the turkey, or on leftover turkey sandwiches. Cranberries with just a hint of heat. Divine. Yes, it has salsa in the title. And yes, we found it originally in a California cookbook, of course. It’s worth trying and super-easy to make. And when you take the seeds out of the pepper, it’s not that hot. Leave the seeds in if you want some extra heat. Try this and you’ll never go back to canned cranberry jelly.

Cranberry-Lime Salsa

12 oz. bag fresh cranberries
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. lime juice
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
3 scallions (green onions), chopped finely
1 jalapeño, seeded & minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Take a medium saucepan and add your cranberries and some cold water – enough to cover. Bring it to a boil & cook for a couple of minutes — just until the cranberries begin to pop. Drain.

2. Grab a large bowl and combine the lime juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Then stir in the cranberries and the rest of your ingredients. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Flavor is best when you let it stand at least 30 minutes before serving. Better yet, make it the night before and put it in the fridge to let the flavors meld even more. You can serve it cool or room temp – depends on your preference.

A stress-free Thanksgiving

Maybe Thanksgiving can’t be totally stress-free if you’re cooking for a large group, or even just your family. But you can take steps to reduce your stress. Choose simple side dishes that are flavorful, but not time-intensive. Use a crockpot. Or two. Or even have your guests bring several sides while you concentrate on the turkey and gravy.

Last year, I made dinner for us, the daughter and her boyfriend, and the bro- and sis-in-law. That’s not a large group for most people, but it’s about the max we can fit in our small place. And with a small kitchen, large meals aren’t easy. But it can be done.

The rolls I love to make (Pioneer Woman’s No Knead Dinner Rolls) can be started a day or two ahead of time and stored in the fridge. My candied sweet potatoes can be partially done the day before and refrigerated until you’re ready to pop them in the oven. And you can cook your dressing and green bean casserole in crock pots. Just get things ready early, pop them in the crockpot, and you’ve got two side dishes with minimal fuss.

Speaking of dressing, my mom usually makes hers from scratch using stale bread and homemade cornbread. It’s really good. And I need to learn how to make it. But to shorten things, I use a box of stuffing. Yes, I do. But to make it more my own, I sauté an onion and some celery and add it to the mix. I also add dried sage (I really like a lot of sage in my dressing). Add those things, and use chicken broth for your liquid and it’ll taste just as good as homemade!

Here are a couple of recipes for some tasty side dishes that aren’t too hard to make. I really like the carrots, while the entire family just LOVES the sweet potatoes. I believe I originally found these recipes in my Better Homes and Gardens CookBook. I have a newer edition (the pink plaid one), but I actually prefer the recipes in the much older edition my mom gave me. I need to put it in another binder, though, as it’s falling apart. There are some seriously good recipes in there (the cinnamon rolls are amazing) and it’s a great reference. I’m constantly looking up cook times for meat and veggies – it has several references based on the type of cooking you’ll be doing.

On to the recipes!

Candied Sweet Potatoes

4 med sweet potatoes (~2 lbs)
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c tiny marshmallows
(you could also use chopped nuts, but we all prefer the marshmallows – it really makes the dish, trust me)

1. Peel your sweet potatoes and then cut into 1 1/2″ chunks. Cook them in just enough boiling water to cover until tender – about 10-12 mins or so. Drain. (You just barely want them tender, or they’ll overcook later.)

2. Transfer to 2-qt baking dish. Add melted butter & brown sugar, stir to combine.

** Now, you can stop here if you’re doing prep the day before. Just cover and chill up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to start again, uncover and bake as directed in step 3. Don’t forget to let it come to room temp before putting it in the oven. Cold dish + hot oven = broken dish & a big mess. **

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 mins or until potatoes are glazed, stirring gently twice during baking. Then sprinkle on the marshmallows and bake an additional 5 mins more.

Brown Sugar-Glazed Carrots

1 lb. med carrots peeled (baby carrots will also work just fine)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Cut carrots in half, cross- and length-wise.

2. In med. saucepan, cook carrots covered in a small amount of boiling salted water for approx. 8-10 mins or until crisp-tender. Drain and remove from pan. (You definitely want the carrots on the crisp side so they don’t get mushy.)

3. In same pan, combine butter, brown sugar, and salt (a dash). Cook and stir over medium heat until combined, then add carrots. Cook uncovered, about 2 mins, until glazed. Stir frequently. Then season to taste w/black pepper.

There you go – a couple of my Thanksgiving standbys. If you want the green bean casserole recipe, it’s always on the side of the french-fried onions can. And yes, I do make it every year. Total comfort food for us.

What’s YOUR favorite side dish for Thanksgiving?  

Comment replies – quick question

So, one really quick question for you all. I tend to reply to comments here on the site so others can see them, too, rather than replying via email. (Although sometimes I’ll copy the response into an email as well.)

What’s your preference – a reply here, or directly to you via email? Do you care?

Climb every mountain

Today we finally got something off of the to do list. LAUNDRY. I’ve been complaining for weeks that we have a mountain of laundry to do. And that I really wanted to get it done before the baby gets here. Because once the baby arrives, we won’t have time to do it and there’s nothing worse than coming back from a trip and having a ton of chores staring you in the face.

So we took the morning, went to a big laundromat (found on Yelp & it was perfect for our needs), …. and spent about $40. Give or take. BUT, they had huge washers. Seven-load washers, in fact. (However, I never get how they figure that, because I’m pretty sure it’s not seven loads of a top-loader machine.) And five-load washers. And so on. And? Over 30 dryers. Of which we used FOURTEEN. I kid you not. Of course, we split up some of the wash loads to have things dry quicker.

Our laundry filled up the back of the Odyssey. No joke. FIVE Ikea bags crammed full, plus several trash bags. But by going to the laundromat, we got it done in less than three hours. And the boy was entertained almost the entire time. Bonus!

It is such a relief to have all that done. Now, we need to get the mountain of dishes done in the next eight days. It could go either way.

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Deadlines ahoy, mate

I’m bumping up against several deadlines, so it’s going to be another short one. Busily writing resumes for clients, editing to complete, some web content to finish and regular work. And they’re all due early this week.

Plus there are doctor appointments for me, a hearing test for the boy, and OH, the VAN IS HERE (and it’s dark red, like the pic – squee!).

So yeah. Lots going on. I’m hoping to have more time to expound later this week. Plus, I need to write a Thanksgiving post — all about the food, baby! Maybe even with a couple of recipe standbys thrown in. I know you can’t wait!

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Dare I?

It’s NaBloPoMo again. Which means you try to post every day for the entire month of November.

I have a baby on the way. THIS MONTH. Dare I try to post every day? Or is that just crazy talk?

Probably crazy. But I need the motivation so maybe I’ll at least give it a shot.

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Sometimes I miss this

Stories like this make me miss writing for Simply Dumb (snarking about the strange and stupid things that hit the news). Although, maybe this one is just too darn easy:

Man hits license center after taking driver’s test

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Back to School shopping with purpose

I went back to school shopping. Here’s my Whrrl check-in about the experience. What I loved? Shopping with donating part of the supplies to a child in need. My choice? Promises 2 Kids, a local organization that helps prevent abuse and neglect. They’re currently doing a back to school drive and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

More check-ins at Wal-Mart
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Disclosure: I received a shopping stipend via Collective Bias and DaySpring. Opinions expressed herein are my own. But I really love the new DaySpring BTS line and really wish they’d had these items when I was in school. I would have used them and enjoyed it. I might even go back and get a couple for myself.

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