Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Eve Tradition

There's absolutely no doubt that we will have a White Christmas. After staying up late wrapping all munchkin's presents & a couple for hubby, we woke up to yet another fresh dusting of snow. 

Every year my munchkin gets more & more into the tradition of the holidays & I try to think of ways to make lasting memories.  Last year we made the Rolo pretzel cookies - far too many of them. I was still eating them a week later.

I also started the making cookies for Santa & leaving carrots for his reindeer tradition & it was a huge hit. Of course I had to munch some of the cookies & the carrots to make it believable & by the surprised look on his face it knew it was very convincing.

So this morning the first thing munchkin wanted to do was to make cookies for Santa. So I cleaned up the kitchen & we started baking. Now I have to admit I totally cheat & buy the package cookie mix - what can I say? My sister-in-law T is the reigning queen of cookie making in our family & I'll never try to "out do" her, so I keep it simple.  I just added my own butter & egg & off we went.

We made a batch to be frosted
& then decided that decorating, then baking was the yummier way to go so we made pan 
 after pan,
 after pan,
 until we were finally done.
Thankfully mommy's tester approved!

Whatever the tradition on Christmas Eve morning is in your home, I hope it's always fun & memorable. Sending wishes of love, peace & hope to all of you - from our home to yours.

~Merry Christmas 2010 & 
Have A Happy & Healthy New Year 2011~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Holiday Wish for this Wordless Wednesday

Were only days away from another Christmas celebration.

Where did the year go?
So many blessings. So many wishes that have been granted.

So much time to think about those who continue to struggle.
So many people who may spend the holidays alone.

My prayers go out to those who have far less than we.
That they be blessed with hope & some peace of mind.
To endure another second, another minute, another day 
- one day at a time.

My Holiday Wish? 

To those that have the means 
to help someone less fortunate 
- please raise a hand.

Not just now - during the holidays, 
but throughout the coming year.

Take those opportunities to give something back.

Because tomorrow isn't guaranteed 
& you never know when you might need 
someone to return the favor.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not so Delicious After All

I hadn't paid much attention to Social Bookmarking Services in the past, but that all changed on Friday. Social Bookmarking been around for several years, however I've been very happy with the "old fashioned" & private way of just creating folders of bookmarks on my PC. I haven't seen a need to make my library of web resources public. But there are many people that do & rely on this resource which can be readily retrieved from anywhere ~ especially when you're on the go.

But seriously hard core Delicious users are suddenly shopping the competition & rushing to move their libraries of data to a more reliable source.

Competitor Diigo is already capitalizing on the rumors of the future of Delicious being in flux:

 Just in case you're not familiar, here's a quick & dirty download on some of the Diigo features including:
  • "My library" for doing web research, sharing on-line content & collaboration
  •  The ability to annotate w/highlighting, highlight & clip images, and even a "post-it notes" tool
  •  Use of a cloud online archive so you don't have to worry about web pages or .pdfs not being there when you use traditional bookmarks to find them again
  • Ability to download content for off-line browsing
  • Means to organize data w/multiple tags or lists which you can elect to share with others
  • Multiple back-ups of your online library
  • "My Network" - the means to create personal learning networks
  • Option of establishing group collaborative repository networks
  • Accessibility via mobile with ease
Instapaper is also a more simple option, without all the bells & whistles of a Delicious, Evernote or Diigo. According to the site FAQ, "Instapaper isn’t optimized for keeping track of thousands of pages. This isn’t the right tool to collect, categorize, tag, filter, and search the contents of every web page you’ve ever found."

Evernote is a recommended Delicious alternative as well for capturing organizing & finding saved items you're looking for fast. With this service it's not quite as easy as downloading a toolbar, you're downloading a desktop client application.

My question is does it make sense to have all your treasured bookmarks in one basket? Redundancy may be the sensible answer - although it's time consuming, it may be better than stressing about the what if scenarios of the future. It would be nice if someone could come up with a self hosted alternative that allowed you to back-up your library to your own personal cloud - perhaps even to the same place that you store your personal files like MozyHome.

In a volatile economy, especially one where in the same week Yahoo announced 600 layoffs, nothing is certain & no product is guaranteed to last forever.  Instead of sweating the possibility of being a victim of circumstance - get your disaster recovery plan in place & stay proactive with your options.  You'll be glad you did.

More posts inspired by Delicious Paranoia:

Web Uproar As Yahoo Shuts Down Delicious

Delicious is Dead. Now What?

17 Reasons Users Should Head to Diigo

10 Alternatives to Delicious

Yahoo Claims It’s Not Killing Delicious

What's next for Delicious?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy: Inner Struggles

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Season of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is the time of year that gets most people thinking about everything good that has come their way in the months past. For me the quickly approaching year-end truly solidifies thoughts about where I've been, where I'm headed & all that I'm thankful for.

We live in a time where so much that many of us take for granted & think of as necessities are pure pipe dreams for others.  Just read the headlines from the past week & you'll see that you never know what tomorrow will bring or how much you could literally lose in an instant.
  • A man's home burned down in the city next door from ours & he perished along with it.
  • A driver racing to flee the police crashes into another vehicle, taking the life of a Mother & her two children.
  • A soon-to-be-homeless 50+ long term unemployed 99er writes a suicide note after being on the brink of despair & hopelessness, not knowing what to do next or where to go.
  • A woman contemplates placing her kids in foster care so that they don't run the risk of being homeless along with her, seeing no other options or saving grace.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. After a lifetime of taking the ability to quickly find good jobs & maintain them for many years with great pay, bonuses, benefits & good opportunities for advancement, I found myself & a number of close co-workers suddenly displaced. There was no advance knowledge of exactly how far the economy would slide clues that this would not be a short-term situation.  Days turned into weeks, then months, then a year & several months of unemployment & no real "good news" coming from hiring circles in the industries I knew so well.  

"An overnight sprinkling of snow - our doubts, chased away by morning as faith climbs even wintry skies." - Modern haiku from Paris, France

Thank God for severance, savings, then unemployment checks, not to mention realigned priorities and expectations forever changed.  Twitter & Linked In has kept me in touch with people experiencing similar challenges, including some tweeps which I've yet to meet IRL, but certainly plan to. There are those I follow on Twitter because of their intelligent thoughts, positive messages & magnetic personalities. Others I look forward to reading in my timeline because they resemble who & what I am very proud to be - a working mother.

We all get excited for the holidays & do what we can to make memories & long standing traditions for our families.  We adopt families & play Santa, buying them gifts.  We contribute to gift causes through our churches, or bring food so that the homeless can be fed.

"Eternal goodness, you want me to gaze into you and see that you love me.  You love me freely, and you want me to love and serve my neighbors with the same love, offering them my prayers and my possessions, as far as in me lies..." 
- St Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380), Italy

I'm thankful that contract work can turn into full time work - as so many others are still looking for something - any type of work to help them get back on their feet. I am fortunate.

I'm grateful for discounts offered to alumni that put me over the edge & gave me the justification to spend money on continuing education, so that I can continue to work towards bigger & better career goals. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know the people in my class - some employed but the majority still are not. All are very intelligent, highly educated individuals that deserve some peace of mind & the means to be able to support their families. 

One in particular is soon to be a 99er & hasn't has a single face-to-face interview in almost 2 years & is terrified of what tomorrow won't bring. He desperately just wants to work - he'd move his family anywhere in the country to do it. Every week we have tried to encourage him not to lose hope.

I'm thankful to have a supportive husband, extended family & good friends, who had faith & said prayers that kept me from giving up.  I'm grateful for my child's unconditional love & the fact that he's resilient & at his tender age, never really knew all that he missed out on while I was out of work.  

Things could ALWAYS be so much worse & the light at the end of the tunnel, though it still seems far away at times - it still burns bright.

We've all been guilty of "doing our part" when the decorations are up & the holiday music plays, & then we quickly become self absorbed in our own personal goals & resolutions for the new year. My holiday wish for you is to find a way to extend yourself - volunteer, well into 2011 & be a champion for a worthy cause. You truly can extend this season of gratitude & keep others hopeful in the process.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Fun is the Mother of all Inventions

Who says you need a monster snow blower
to get the job done clearing the snow from the driveway & sidewalk?

All you need is a little imagination & the desire to have a little fun & you've got a Munchkin & Daddy-powered snow plow. 
What could be better?