November 27th, 2011

Moving CaraRolinson.com

Hello readers! I am posting here for one of the last times. I wanted to let you know during the course of this past semester, I have taken the leap from this URL, www.thisiswhereicomeupwithsomethingwitty.com, to www.CaraRolinson.com. I have exported all of my content to the new site and will be redirecting this url to the new site in a few months. Please be sure to change your RSS readers or bookmarks.

Thank you,

Cara

add to kirtsy
August 22nd, 2011

{Review} Marble Jar App

It’s that time of the year, BACK TO SCHOOL time! Parents across the land are cheering as our children (and sometimes ourselves) head back into the school year. The end of summer does bring a lot of new to the table for a lot of us though. New teachers, new bus stops, new chores and new schedules. To help with some of these new transitions I would like to introduce you to an app for your iPad or iPhone that can help keep your family on top of their good deeds and chores while helping you keep track of it all. Introducing the Marble Jar app created by winwinapps.

 

I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of The Marble Jar app this summer at Type-A-Parent Conference in June (yes I realize that was nearly 3 months ago! Blogging has taken a backseat to summer fun this year.) Anna Palmer, Marble Jar creator, was a treat to meet! She is in love with her app and really showed everyone her passion for children and positive reinforcement which the Marble Jar app really helps with.

We have been using the Marble Jar app for a few weeks now in our home with Andy, our more difficult child. He responds really well with positive reinforcement, the more the better. He often gives us trouble at meal time we created a jar just for him to help him with meals. He gets a marble for lunch and dinner if he makes it through those meals with little to no issues.  His goal for that jar is he gets an afternoon alone with me at a location of his choice. He can choose the park, the mall play area, a visit to the balls at Ikea, whatever he wants. It seems to work most of the time. The key is to keep up with it and remember to do it. I will admit that I sometimes forget to do this however he is usually quick to remind me.

I have also set up a jar for Max to use too. When he gets mad it usually results in him hitting his brother. We have started to reward him when he avoids hitting. It has decreased his physical response.  He too gets to have a day with just me and he gets to choose where we go. I think we are all looking forward to special time together.

Setting up jars and goals is quite easy and the functionality of the app, choosing a jar and a marble is easy too. In fact, once I log into the secure app, my kids can find their jars and get their own marbles!

I have a treat for you this week ONLY, you can download this app 100% free! Be sure to follow Marble Jar on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Back To School season to all of you! Look for more updates VERY soon!

 

***I was asked to Anna to review this app, I was not compensated to do so but I did received my copy of the app for free and all opinions above are of course my own. ***

 

add to kirtsy
June 17th, 2011

{Review} Traveling With an iGo

Today’s post is a guest post written by my husband, Chris Rolinson. He can be found writing on his blog from time to time and also here. He’s a seasoned traveler and is admittedly hard on his technology. He pushes their limits daily (we both do really). So keep that in mind when reading his review of the iGo.

 


Traveling With an iGo

By Christopher Rolinson

I’ve taken the iGo Charge Anywhere device on the road to put it through it’s paces as a supplemental power device for my telephone and iPad.

First stop, the Slovak Republic. Here the power grid is based on a 220 volt standard. I charged the iGo device before I left the United States. While on a train, I used the device to extend the battery life of my iPad. The iGo did not charge the iPad (the manufacturer said it wouldn’t) but it did make extra juice available to power the iPad. It extended the battery life for nearly two hours. This was only possible when the iPad was fully charged. The iPad still consumed it’s own battery, so when it was close to being drained the iGo did not help to keep the power on for the iPad. It seems that the iPad has to have considerable power on it’s own before the supplement would work. The iGo charged just fine on the European power grid through a 220 volt conversion device. I had no issues charging the iGo where ever I was in eastern Europe.

Next stop Philadelphia for a photography conference. While in the city I did not stay at the hotel where the conference was. I chose to stay at a hostel to save on expenses. Leaving my phone and iPad to charge was not a possibility, I had to keep my gear with me at all times. I used two iGo’s to keep my phone going through the conference. During the weekend the phone was used as a wifi hotspot, for twitter and Facebook access. The phone was put to heavy use. With two iGo’s and three batteries I made it the entire weekend without plugging the phone into the wall.

The iGo acts as a great supplemental power device for a phone but failed to be a problem solver for powering the iPad. The newer iGo models make this possible. Overall, I am satisfied with the device despite it’s output limitations. It does fill a very specific need for me while traveling.

add to kirtsy
May 24th, 2011

Facebook: Differences between Groups and Pages

Should I use a Facebook Group or Page?

Do you host Home Parties, are you in Direct Sales or are you an independent contractor? Have you considered making a Facebook profile for your business? Here are some tips and suggestions on how to use Facebook to grow your business.

 

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are meant for gathering groups of friends or family for information sharing. For example, if you’re planning a vacation with extended family and need to discuss details or would like to keep in touch afterwards by sharing photos, a group would be a great place to do that. Or if you are part of a knitting group or a book club, a Facebook Group would be a good place to gather group members to discuss projects or what book to read next. Heck it’s even a place where you could have a virtual real-time book discussion. You would be on your own for the wine though! (since we all know that book club is really about the wine!)

Groups offer the ability to communicate with friends, family and even those who are not on Facebook by setting up a designated group email. Events can be created for group members only. One negative aspect of groups is when you add friends you are not inviting them to join but instead you are placing them into the group without their consent. Most Facebook users prefer to make the decision to join a group or page themselves and it can be viewed as a turn-off if they are automatically added to a group especially if the group is for a business.

Facebook Groups do not offer profile details like a page does. They lack an Info page where the group owner can share business details like a website or any contact information. It does offer the ability to create documents within the group. Documents can be edited by all group members and could be a running list of places to visit while on vacation or books to read or patterns to knit with the group.

 

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages are where professional brands and businesses host their Facebook communities. This is a good place for the small business owner to promote their business. Pages offer quite a few marketing tools for small businesses including an information page where the business details can be shared, found and easily updated. Perspective clients need to be able to contact you as the business owner to inquire about your products or plan a party. This is where the Info page is imperative.

Pages also are searchable where groups are not. If you have a friend who is searching for your businesses contact information via a Google or Yahoo search, when they search for your business name your Facebook page will be near the top of a search because it’s a Page. As a business owner you can also post on Facebook as your business, you can cross network your business with your business networks by connecting your page with other business pages.

As a page administrator you can invite your friends and family to “like” your business, they will then have the choice to follow that page or not. Choice is ALWAYS a good thing.

If you are looking for further information about how to use Facebook to grow your business you can find me most days via Twitter, Facebook or at CaraRolinson@gmail.com!

 

 

 

 

 

add to kirtsy
May 9th, 2011

Healthy Choice Meals {Review}

Do you eat frozen meals in the name of saving time? Have you ever tried any Healthy Choice meals? If not, you just might want to. I was recently contacted by Healthy Choice and TheMotherhood.com to review Healthy Choice meals and yes, I was compensated for my time but like usual my opinions and views of the products I’ll review below are 100% my own and let’s just say, I was NOT disappointed.

Healthy Choice suggested I try any two meals for review, I decided on Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers for both options, the first flavor was Chicken Pesto Classico and the second was Chicken Margherita.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both came in a two part bowl system, on top was a small strainer with pasta, fresh veggies, chicken and herbs. below the strainer was another bowl with the sauce. on top of it all was a self venting semi-sealed plastic cover. Each meal cooked in the microwave for 4 minutes. The top part, steamed the bottom part warmed and once complete you mix the two, let cool and enjoy.

Both meals had chicken, veggies and pasta, and in each of them I could taste each ingredient separately. The chicken tasted like chicken, the squash tasted like squash and the pasta tasted like pasta.  The sauce was just that, sauce! Everything had it’s own separate flavors but once tossed it all was quite yummy! Lots of flavor, lots of texture and healthy!!! Healthy is a big deal with frozen foods, it seems most frozen meals like this are not of the healthy food group… However, these really have some merit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each counted for 6 point on the Weight Watchers diet scale. The Chicken Pesto Classico had 8g fat, 530g sodium, 38g total carbs and 20g protein. The Chicken Margherita had 8g fat, 500g sodium, 42g total carbs and 21g protein. For frozen meals with pasta in them I felt this was competitive, the sodium is a bit high but again it’s a frozen meal so that is par for the course.

The portions were on the smaller size to what we might be used to but again, these are healthy partially due to portion size. The portion is what our portions SHOULD be verses the HUGE 1/4 lb double burger from your local fast food place. Healthy Choice meals are a much healthier option. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, which puts them at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

Each day I ate one of these, I sat down to lunch thinking I’ll need a piece of fruit to go with this or a small salad, but by the time I was finished. I decided against it.  Both meals satisfied me and that was impressive. The best part? Wow, they were GOOD! The Chicken Margherita had LOTS of flavor, I tend to love garlic and this did not disappoint! There were at least 4-5 whole peices of roasted garlic in this meal which added quite a bit of flavor to this dish, not overpowering in the least bit though. The tomatoes were sweet and flavorful as was the chicken! I was not disappointed!

In our home we do our best to teach our children by example about healthy living and food is a HUGE part of that. We eat mostly whole foods, we grow as much as we can in the warmer months and we cook from scratch most every night and on those days when we might be pinched for time we always offer fast but healthy options.  I would 100% offer one of these meals as part of my small children’s meal along side a salad and additional veggies or a starch. I know they would be happy with the flavors and textures.  As Americans look for ways to make simple, positive changes to their diets, incorporating a ready-to-eat, pre-portioned healthy option, such as Healthy Choice, is a simple way to be more health conscious, lose weight and improve quality of life.

Healthy Choice has nearly 70 varieties for fewer than 400 calories that provide positive nutrients such as whole grains, fiber, protein and antioxidants. For more information visit www.healthychoice.com.

 

 

add to kirtsy
May 2nd, 2011

Social Media & Breaking News

Late last night I received a text message from my dad informing me that the President was planning to speak at 10:30 pm…. on a Sunday night. The first thing I did was stop my DVR (yes, I was watching Celebrity Apprentice) and tuned the TV to CNN. The second thing I did was fire up Facebook.  By the tone of the broadcasters on CNN, I could tell this was something big but I wasn’t sure what it could possibly be.

I Facebooked the following  just after 10 pm:

“If you are watching reality tv, you might want to tune into the national news… Just sayin’ ”

I then fired up the Twitter. And let’s just say, Twitter was a BLAZE! I follow a few key journalists and I specifically was watching their streams for updates, the rumors started and very quickly were confirmed. In ALL cases, Twitter was where I saw the story unfold first and with each Twitter update the television news networks were quick to follow with the same updates. Wow, it was exciting, wow, it was emotional and wow, it was impressive. The Social Media is a viable source for breaking news and it’s so exciting to be part of it.

I had observed there were hashtags being used but they weren’t necessary because nearly EVERY SINGLE UPDATE in my stream was about the same topic, except a few. Those few tweets that were not about the unfolding events were obviously scheduled tweets. Some were from bloggers whose blogging networks had auto tweeted their most recent blog post, some were from organizations and were scheduled updates about their weekly events and others were scheduled updates from BRANDS about their current promotions. My next thought was to my clients and how they would need to function in their social space within the next 24 hours.

Sunday night, these automated tweets and Facebook updates were few and far between but when they were posted, they sure stuck out like a sore thumb. I observed.

This morning, I again tuned into both Facebook and Twitter to see how the conversation was going. There was still quite a lot of updates about the events from Sunday night. Mostly remnants of updates from those who just woken up to the news and some from news organizations and their reporters who were still reporting updates as new details were being released. Then there were the auto tweets from bloggers and brands again, they were out of place and read like misfit tweets.  The rest of the conversation was about how the masses turned to social networks for news and conversation surrounding the announcements Sunday night.

The wave was slowing down, the conversation was still elevated but it was by no means back to normal and I was figuring out how to direct my clients for the day. So I kept up the observation.

A few tweets from a few heavy social media users suggested they felt brands should not engage at this time and that promotional updates sounded strange and were uncool Monday morning. These opinions argued the conversation should not be one that brands indulge in.

 

Breaking News & Best Practices: Brands and Their Social Networks

How should brands react to politically charged events like this? Should they lay low, should they join the conversation? Timing is key with most everything  just like with press release launches and political announcements….  I’m pretty sure a brand’s message would be 100% lost during a time like this. There have been big social media “events” in the past but I’m quite certain none have been this big. Social media is so new that we are all still learning how to react during events like this. This is something that should be discussed in terms of “Best Practices” for corporate social media use.

I contacted one client who I had plans with to launch a new promotion today. We discussed three options, one, I could launch it after updating in a very vague manner about the brand stance surrounding the events, I suggested something like “We are thankful for those who support our country and we continue to support them during this time of transition.”  Second, we could bypass this tweet and go directly into the promotion.  Third, we could wait.

I was still wary, I had the feeling that there was still a lot of static and that it wasn’t the right time for brands to join the conversation, not yet. Around 11:30 EST I started to see a few brands begin their day via social. They seemed hesitant and not fully engaged. Topics were light and they weren’t asking for their social communities to engage like usual.

As of 3 pm today, the conversation is still not where it usually is for a Monday.  It’s still off and almost like a slow news day when ironically that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

In the end we decided to launch the promotion but we delayed it by a few hours. I was comfortable with this and so was the client. By the time their message was out there the awkwardness had died down.

Did you observe how social media users reacted to updates? Share your thoughts on how you would like to see brands conducting themselves during and directly following major world events like this.

 

 

add to kirtsy
April 25th, 2011

From the Authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect {Guest Post}

As promised, this week I’m featuring a post written by the authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect, a book I’m currently reading and really honestly enjoying. Becky and Hollee are lucky too because I haven’t read an entire book for myself in over 4 years. That last book was surely a book about pregnancy and since then I’ve read snippets of this and that but nothing has really jumped out at me like their new book. Now that I am more than four and a half years into this parenting gig, I figured it was time to read for ME again!

I too will be writing my own review of the book once I’m finished reading it, so be on the look out for that. If you are currently looking for something new to read you can find Good Enough Is the New Perfect on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/newperfect

 


Strength in Numbers: Finding the New Perfect Through Teamwork

By Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple

Authors, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood

Important lesson of the New Perfect: When we team up and support each other, we’re often stronger than the sum of our parts.

But, of course, we must be willing to ask for help — and to ignore the voices that tell us that we must do everything ourselves. This is a secret that we heard repeatedly from the most successful working moms we interviewed for Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, April 2011).

Our data showed us this, too: The women who were happiest and most satisfied were the same ones who were most willing to delegate responsibility and say “no.”

Teamwork is a big part of success.

Case in point: Becky once found herself on the winning team in a trivia contest despite not knowing most of the answers. Sure, she knew which country manufactures a car called the “Holden” — but only because she’d once dented a car of that very make while attempting to parallel park in the suburbs of Sydney.  In fact, although all her teammates were quite knowledgeable in many areas, most, like Becky, knew only a few answers off the tops of their heads. Their real power came from pooling their knowledge and brainstorming. In the “foodie” category, for instance, most team members could list three of the four ingredients in pesto — but when they compared lists, they had the entire recipe.

As co-authors, we experience the power of partnership regularly when one of us writes and the other edits and the end result winds up being better than what either of us would have done alone. We often feel the force of collaborative potential when we see savvy women gathering in one place, and the flow of ideas is so great that we can barely write fast enough to record every bit of inspiration. This happened at the roundtable discussion we conducted for Good Enough Is the New Perfect, the transcript of which is included at the back of the book. Ideas build and grow when we share — and, yes, even when we disagree — and we all wind up with more.

Often, we are tempted to do things on our own because it seems like less of a hassle or because we’re reluctant to compromise. Or, sometimes, because we just don’t want to ask for help.  “I’ll just take care of it myself,” can be a dangerous phrase. Martyrdom rarely works out well in the end.

The New Perfect is a path paved by our willingness to work together and ask for help; simply put, there’s strength in numbers. After all — how often do any of us have all the answers on our own?

 

 

Becky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in  Modern Motherhood, is available at http://amzn.to/newperfect . They blog about parenting and  work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

 

 

 

 

 

(photo credit: Judy Haverfield Beaupre)

 

add to kirtsy
April 18th, 2011

I’m here, are you?

*knock knock* Ahem, is this thing on? Wow… it’s been a while hasn’t it? No excuses here, just the reality that work sometimes overshadows fun. I blog for fun, and yes while I do use this space for work from time to time too, It also is something that for me, slides down the priority list.

A quick recap, let’s give it one word, WORK. Work has been BUSY, no CRAZY!! So no complaining here, no excuses like I said above, I’m just plain too busy to blog these days. However, I HAVE been thinking about it a lot and I’m trying to figure out who I want to be here and how I want to share things with my readers (those of you still around anyways). The next step for me is to execute those plans and thoughts soon!

In the meantime, I’ve got some fun posts planned and in the hopper including a guest post by two new co-authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, a book for modern moms that is BRAND spanking new and is currently REALLY hitting home with me. I will also be sharing my own thoughts on this book once I finish reading it, I’m about half way through thanks to a WONDERFUL weekend away with some of my “knitting…” girls this past weekend complete with sleeping in, fresh HOT coffee, fantastic meals and time to cook them without anyone nagging for a snack and a HOT TUB! Pure Bliss I tell you!

I encourage you to check out the blog for Good Enough Is the New Perfect for some real down and dirty and quite encouraging views and stories about how modern mothers like us are making our way!

add to kirtsy
February 16th, 2011

A Few New Features

I just wanted to point out a few new features here.  You can now subscribe to this blog any old way your heart desires!

Do you want my posts to show up in your email? You’ll find a handy little email subscription box there to the right, it’s powered by Feedburner. You know I don’t post daily so this won’t spam your inbox all the time it will just send out one email when there is new content here.

You’ll also find Google Friend Connect which adds my blog to your Google Reader RSS feed and NetworkedBlogs too which is a fantastic way to network your blog via Facebook.

Another new feature you’ll see over there is my brand new Facebook Page! My blog posts will be posted there and I will also share links from other blogs I read including recipes, household tips and tricks, social media and technology news.

I added these new ways for you to keep tabs on my blog so that you can follow along the way YOU want to follow.  Don’t feel like you need to subscribe to all of these feeds, just pick the one that suits you best!

add to kirtsy
February 14th, 2011

My Top 10 FREE Musical iPad Apps

I’ve created a list of my top 10 free musical iPad apps. I use these with my 3 and 4 1/2 year old kids. We all enjoy the musical interaction and I enjoy teaching them about new and unique instruments.

photo.JPG

Instruments Free is a great app for exploration. My kids both like to get all the instruments going at once.

iGuitar Free is an acoustic guitar app in full iPad glory, it gives you access to the frets and it sounds and looks very realistic.

Virtuoso is a classic piano app with lots of settings and Xylophone! HD is exactly that, a xylophone. Percussive is similar with more features and looks realistic.

Bongos is well, bongos! Barrel Tones is a full drum set and offers some fun settings, you can drum along with three types of music or without. Again, this is fun for the whole family.

The next two apps are both really interesting. Soundrop is just plain fun and is really quite relaxing to play with. Grab a pair of headphones and check it out. Harmonizer is also pretty cool. It measures musical pitch and that alone is fun to play with.

Simple Music teaches about how chords work and uses a piano as the teaching tool.

We have a lot of fun playing with these apps with our young children and they in turn are not only having fun but they are learning too.

Do you have any favorite apps that both you and your kids enjoy?

add to kirtsy