It's Tuesday: Lazy Tacos And Getting Rid Of Paper

Mishing and mashing is what this is going to be, because I just don't have it in me to make a thematic post. I have three or four incredible well thought out and written posts, all of which are ¾'s of the way completed, which means they'll never see the light of day. In lieu of writing yet another one of those, I'm doing this post. Enjoy.

I made the tastiest whole chicken the other day, and I don't think I told anybody about it except one friend and it was just too easy and yummy not to share here. 

Whole Chicken in Crock Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used a blend of chili powder instead of paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (I was out of thyme, I have no idea how, but I was, so I used some oregano, I think)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper (I used a blend of chili powder instead of cayenne)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken

Directions

  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  4. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
  5. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Don’t forget to make your homemade stock with the leftover bones ! (I fucked up this part, because, well, I did. Shh…don't tell. I'll get it right next time.)

I used this recipe, with some modifications, because rules are hard. Anyway, once the chicken was done, it fell right off the bones as promised. I served it with spanish rice, beans, and tortillas. It was so moist and delicious. To die for yummy. The kids loved it, too. So easy.

I have been playing with some new apps you might enjoy. One is called Typic. It allows you to add typography to photos. It includes a few in-app filters, as well, and exports photos to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or your phone's camera. Here are samples of a couple of shots I've created. 

Drive

Autumn #typic

Kind of fun, right?

The next apps are actually my secret to a paper-reduced world. I've used them for a while, but they keep improving, and I don't know what I'd do without them. I am severely paper-averse. I hate filing. I hate managing paper. I hate trying to search through the mountains of paper produced by a large family. Our answer is making sure as much of our paper as possible is converted to searchable PDFs and, unless we absolutely need to keep a hard copy, it's shredded/tossed. Better yet, it never becomes a piece of paper. How do we do it? 

First, we use an app called SignEasy (available for iPhone and Android). This allows us to sign and fill out any forms or paper we receive without having to print them out. I know, crazy. SignEasy is my BFF. Once I have signed the forms, I convert them to a PDF or JPG, save them to DropBox or another service of my choice, email them, "fax" them, or print them wirelessly to my Epson printer (God forbid). If it's a document that doesn't arrive in an online format (like something the kids bring home from school or a something received via snail mail, I simply take a photo to "scan" it using an app called TurboScan. TurboScan and SignEasy work well together, and both communicate with DropBox and email. I can literally fill out contracts, sign them, and return them without touching a pen, paper, fax, or envelope. Plus, they're legible. Bonus!

Alrighty, that's all the wisdom and beauty I have to impart on you today, kids. Go stick some words on your pictures and sign some stuff with your phone. Maybe toss a chicken in the crockpot. Until we meet again.

 

 

There's A Cougar In My Car: Meet NavaHo

I get bored with the usual GPS systems. They have that robotic voice or a boring set of voices to choose from. They get bossy. I talk back. They keep telling me what to do. I keep talking back.

Have I mentioned I don't take direction well?

Yeah, so anyway…my GPS is an app, which makes it oh so handy for things like walking around in unfamiliar cities or driving in rental cars because I always have my phone with me. Super convenient.

It's also convenient because adding little features like a new voice are cheap and quick.

This week, I got to exploring to see what was available for NavaHo (I call her NavaHo. It's her pet name. She likes it. Don't judge.) and stumbled upon THE BEST VOICE EVER for a GPS.

It's called The Cougar. Yeah, not the cat. It's a sultry woman giving directions in a semi-southern drawl and it is so damn fun and funny that the boyfriend and I have taken to going off course on purpose just to hear what she'll say.

The only thing that could make it better is if it made the phone vibrate. Dudes must be driving around with perma-wood if they've got this installed. Nice job, MotionX, y'all nailed it on this one.

Finding My Soul In My Surroundings: Pictures From My Week

The drive to the ranch:

Puffs

My dinner date Saturday night:

My dinner date has some serious baby blues.

The hills:

Spring in the hills

The oak tree I can't stop photographing:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5217/5501345714_10bc17942f_m.jpg

Waiting for my latte:

Latte line

The hay barn at the ranch:

Hay barn

Curious to see what discoveries this week will bring.

I've always seen my surroundings as photographs, but the idea of carrying a camera everywhere felt awkward to me. That's what I love about my iPhone. I always have a camera with me, and it's incredibly unobtrusive. Plus, it takes a decent picture for being a phone. The apps for editing photos are so good, I rarely edit anything after uploading it to my computer. It's all done on my phone.

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What do polka dots sound like? Not Webvan or iguanas.

This one time at band camp…woops! Wrong story! My bad. Let me try that again.

Friday, the family went on a little field trip to The Tech Museum, which I reviewed in full-color detail here. It was most awesome. I do so love it there.

One of the most fabuloso stoner toys educational interactive music exhibits they have is a wall of musical buttons they call Wikisonic. The purpose of the exhibit is to “demonstrate the fundamentals of harmonics and chord structure by allowing visitors to experiment with note intervals in familiar musical melodies.”

Or, if you’re my daughter, it’s to find out what polka dots sound like. Because who hasn’t pondered that question, hello?

Oh, and her brother threw a couple things together, too.

Keep in mind, we are many things in this family, but musically trained we ain’t, (unless you count the hours we’ve put into Rock Band).

Here’s his first piece:

And here’s his second composition:

Again, same genetic material. I swear. No milk man involved. Although we did get Webvan deliveries. Oh, how I miss Webvan, but not for the sex, only for the deliveries. Not the baby deliveries, the food deliveries. God, you guys are disturbed. Those green and yellow bins, with their perfectly interlocking flaps. I still have some stashed away in the attic. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure they’re filled with outgrown baby clothes. Weird.

Oh, hey. Good news. First submissions have come in for the poster child/adult/pet/rodent/animal for FACE of the HUMORLESS. Soon we’ll be able to find a CURE. I just know it. So, when I say submissions, what I mean is a bunch of submissions from one entrant. Rather than subject you to all that humorlessness (it would shut the internet down, y’all), I’m gonna wait for some more submissions to come in and then post them for a vote. So, get those pics in. My email is available under the Contact header at the top of the page.

Remember, reptiles are eligible, too. I have seen some downright dour iguanas. And you’ll never catch one in a comedy club, unless he’s the janitor.

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The Changes in Iran

Neda's photo - June 20 Iran election protest i...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

I haven’t talked about politics here in a long while, but I wanted to take a moment to give you all a link to a great resource for information about what’s happening in Iran right now. It’s some of the best coverage available, both from the people on the ground, and from professional journalists.

Andrew Sullivan The Daily Dish at The Atlantic

Truly amazing footage, commentary from journalists, bloggers, raw feeds from Twitter interspersed with articles about the events as they unfold. It’s written in a blog/diary format. So, it’s easy to find the most current information. Text that highlighted in green signifies tweets written by Iranians.

I urge you to utilize this is a resource for your information gathering. I don’t necessarily recommend watching all of the videos or images of the violence unless you feel you need that information to understand the situation.

I do not know all of the most effective ways to support the Iranians, but I do not the kind of support I am able to provide, which is the dissemination of information. That is what I am trying to do here with the link to Andrew Sullivan’s work at The Atlantic. Hopefully, from that point, you’ll be able to figure out what you feel called to do to help our fellow humans on this planet.

Please share any ideas or suggestions you have in the comments section. I’m always looking for new resources I can pass along to my readers.

 

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Finds: Mint-Chocolate Chip Flower Pin and Other Goodies

I’m trying out a new feature on my blog. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

In the sidebar of CalifmomReviews I feature my online finds. These range from fashion to tech gadgets. I may be the only one who thinks they’re cool, but maybe not.

Therefore, I’ve decided to share a few of them here. I’ll be posting a few in this post, but will probably just post a few each week, as I stumble upon them.

I’d love to have your feedback.

I switched our family off of the plastic goods awhile ago, and we no longer have babies in the house, but this thinkbaby set was just too cool to pass up. If you know someone expecting, or have little ones yourself, this would be a great feeding set.

These Alpaca Celestial Scarf sets are so fun. I love the shape of the hats. Not your average beanie. I mean, I’m all for looking like a pinhead in the name of warmth…but you know. The circles, so cool. Makes me think of squid tentacles. In a good way. I love me some sea creatures.

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I Pinky Promise

I promise, cross my heart, hope to come down with salmonella (really, I might stand a chance of fitting back into the clothes on the OTHER side of my closet), that I have not forgotten about you, my loyal readers reader.

Yes, you.

I know how you get when I take an extended time out. So, I’m here to reassure you that…well…I’m here, just not here, more like here.

Truth be told, I ran away from home needed a change of scenery, sold the kids to a band of gypsies took the kids to their grandparents, gave away the pets secured the pet/house sitter, and split town with some guy named Stan in a big rig flew down to San Diego with Hubs.

Hubs has a conference, I tagged along. Toughest decision I had to make all day was paint my toenails and raid the honor bar or go to the pool.

I’m also doing a little work while I’m here of the consulting variety. Some social media stuff. It’s so fun though, it hardly feels like work. It also involves only adults, which is a smidge different than most of my days.

I leave you with some pictures of our digs here at Hotel Solamar. We stayed here for M & A’s wedding, and I love this place. So glad Hubs’ company decided to put them up here for the week. 

Rooftop at Hotel Solamar

The ChessFather

Lamp Envy

All of this to let you know that I’m feeling much better, mentally AND physically. Looks like you’re stuck with me.

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Fame Online

I love finding out my favorite authors, musicians, or other 'celebrities' have an online presence, especially when it's in their own voice. It's rare, but so enjoyable when you can develop a social connection to people whose work you admire. It's also nice to find out they're human. I mean, you know they are, but it's nice just the same.

Twitter has been one place I've enjoyed finding some of my favorite celebs. I'm not going to give out their @names because it feels a little stalkerish, even more so than me stalking them twitter, but I will totally tell you that Dave Matthews, Lance Armstrong, John Hodgman, and Adam Savage are the real deal.

On Facebook, I even found John Elder Robison, Augusten Burroughs' brother, and the author of "Look Me In The Eye," a must read for anyone who's dealing with Asperger's. He also has a personal blog, which is fabulous, and totally him.

By putting themselves 'out there' with the rest of us, using social media like the rest of us, not just as a publicity tool, it lets me know what kind of people they are.

Real.

And I like that.

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I Got My Xmas Wish, Too

no original descriptionImage via WikipediaI got what I wanted for Christmas yesterday--a hysterectomy. But, this wasn't just any hysterectomy. I had a da Vinci Robotic laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH), because I'm all about the cool gadgets and technology.

The upside to this method is that it's a robotic-assisted laparoscopic procedure. It also meant that I got to keep my cervix and ovaries, have just 5 small incisions in my abdomen, and come home today after just one night in the hospital. It probably helped that I had a great surgeon and hospital staff, too.

The surgery was supposed to start at 10am, but was delayed until 1pm. It ended up taking just over 3 hours to complete, with a portion of that time spent waiting for my bladder and kidneys to start functioning again. Then, I was off to recovery for an hour or so, before heading up to my room.

The hospital had these cool new beds that auto-level with your every move. I also had mechanical leg warmers (not their technical name) that massaged by legs to help with circulation.

Pretty cool, huh? Now, I'm still very sore, thankful for Percocet, and leaving Hubs in charge this Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus is out of commission for the next 2 weeks.

Time for a nap. Happy Holidays to you all!

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Ultra Flippin' Fabulous

I found out that there really is a Santa Claus, and her name is Geekmommy. She hosted a little contest over at her place for a Flip Ultra Video Cam.

I entered, because why wouldn't you? Unless you already have one, I guess, but I don't. Quite frankly, I'm also a little tired of trying to film Bug's football practices and games in 2 second increments on my regular camera. It eats up all my card space, and generally looks like I shot the footage on a still camera.

Check out Geekmommy's announcement, kids, and get ready for some flippin' fun*, because you'll be watching a whole lot more video on califmom in the months to come!

Winner Flip Cam Contest on 12seconds.tv

*Did you catch The Funny right there? Let me help you. It was a play on words. See, the camera is a Flip Ultra, and I used the word "flippin'" to describe it. That's funny. If you don't think that's funny, you need a flippin' vacation. Better yet, join me on mine where I'll be shooting my beach time with my Flip Ultra. Oh, yeah!

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Something New

I've decided to try using an offline editing tool for writing my blog posts. After careful review (done by someone else, Thank GOD), I'm trying out Windows Live Writer.

This is the crap that happens when you are a night owl. While the rest of the family is snoring away, you spend too much time screwing around with your blog.

Next thing you know, you've tweaked a few things here and there, adjusted some column widths, changed a color or two. Then, WHAM-O! It looks like a whole new blog. 

I'm certain this is my new version of rearranging the furniture--something I used to do regularly, but haven't done in months.

Check out the new tweaks, see what you think. If you don't like it, stick around. It's sure to change.

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PSA: Disability-Related Grants & Funding

DisabilityInfo.gov: Technology: Grants & Funding

Grants and funding for a variety of purposes related to assistive and adaptive technology exist for both public and private, nonprofit and for-profit entities. Technology is just one avenue for increasing diversity in places of public accommodation: child care centers, private schools, parks, zoos, libraries, museums, restaurants, hotels, etc.

Link: DisabilityInfo.gov: Technology: Grants & Funding.

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Big Brother's In The House

Nablo0608120x90

I am amassing a long list of failed parental control software programs. We have a hodgepodge of products we've been using for a while, but I long for something comprehensive, web-based, and less frustrating for protecting my independent and tech-savvy kids.

What I'm looking for is the tech equivalent of a bike helmet. These are kids who've already been online for years. At 10 and 11 years old, they are more comfortable online than most adults and probably more cautious. When they were first starting out, we did a TON of talking about safety, signed a contract, and trust them to share their online activities with us, which they do. They even enjoy ratting each other out, as most siblings do. But, we're not stupid.

Back in the day, we (the elders) looked up "dirty" words in the library's copy of the Oxford Dictionary or the appropriate volume of the encyclopedia. Occasionally, we scored a copy of National Geographic or, if you were really lucky, a porno mag. The upside to that process of satisfying our curiosity was that the information available to us was finite, and mostly educational. Someone, somewhere, had deemed it worthy of printing on paper. They'd spent some money on it. A librarian, or someone's parent, had purchased it. Let's just say it made for a small pool in which we swam.

Now, take that natural curiosity to the Internets, and it's a Whole New World. Try a Google search for "naked people." (Or don't, really.) If you do, I promise you'll learn some things. Things you did not want to know. Images you did not want to see. You will grab for the nearest utensil and begin poking your eyes, but it won't help. Bathing in bleach will not turn back the clock. You will never go back to your life as a simply gutter-minded adult who thought s/he knew a little somethin' somethin'.

In order to manage the natural curiosity of tweens and teens, I've stocked the bookshelves and magazine racks in our home with the requisite titles on puberty, sexuality, and the like. We've jury-rigged some software on the family computer, and I continue to test products looking for that elusive software that will Do It All.

This month I'm demo-ing Sentry Parental Controls. So far, it looks promising.

I like that it's partially web-based, emails me reports of security breaches, and allows me to send good old-fashioned system messages to their computer from my laptop (or another online machine). I can even have chats with them via the software. Best of all, I can watch live screen shots of that computer's desktop, see what software Peanut is running, or watch Bug play online.

Hubby doesn't like that it's web-based and provides live screen shots as it makes him nervous about the overall security of that computer -- accessing it from the web, through the firewall. So, more research is necessary.

I also like the price for the version we're trying out, Sentry Parental Controls Total Family Protection (2.99/mo.), and the fact that I don't have to pay extra for upgrades.

Lest you think I'm sneaky and spying on my kids, I'm not. They know all about the software and have even enjoyed seeing the live screen shots and chatting with me (except when I'm asking them to do something). I think that being in their generation, and being in a family of tech savvy people, they even feel a little freer knowing that there's a bit of a safety net. They, and we, know it's not foolproof, but neither is that bike helmet. Falls happen. At least we're adding a little cushion.

Now, if only they paid me to write this...back to selling books on half.com.

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Gin and Joost

Somewhere, someone has a voodoo doll with pins in its eyebrows and neck, a feather down its throat and duct tape over the mouth.  Wherever you are, whomever you are, please, as the doll's human counterpart, I'm asking you to set her free. 

For the first time ever, I was given a prescription for Tamiflu.  Never read the side effects.  Life has side effects.  This flu is a side effect of living.  Now, if the codeine cough syrup actual had a primary effect on my cough, I'd be thrilled.  Instead, I'm on bag #3 of cough drops, liter #2 of hot herbal tea, and still have a constant, nagging, tickle and hack happening.

Oh, did I mention I also have no voice.  Well, no audible voice.  Not just a scratchy, this-is-Brenda-Vaccaro-for-Playtex-Tampons voice, but none.  The kids were very excited by this, initially.  They celebrated by yelling at each other like Felix and Oscar this morning, then carried on again this evening. 

As the sun descended, Bug became less enamored with the Voiceless Mother.  He is the only one who comes when I ring the giant dinner bell he brought me to keep beside my bed.  He was like Jeeves the first few hours.  But, by this evening, he was pleading, "Can anyone else answer the bell around here?"  I'm considering sticking with the mutism for a bit after I'm well. Of course, by midnight I'll be making promises to God that I'll speak loud and clear if  He'll just stop this annoying cough and excruciating headache.  Amen.

The highlight of today was that I got my beta account for Joost.  For the first time in a LONG number of years, I feel I might actually be ahead of my time and a little too-cool-for-school. Joost is everything TV should be.  It's why some people don't have cable/satellite, why they don't watch network TV, why traditional providers offer things like PPV and On Demand.  I haven't played with it too much yet, but plan to when my head stops throbbing.  Right now, audio is my enemy.  But, when that codeine kicks in, who knows.  I might Joost some White Stripes.  Okay, I'm teasing.  I already Joosted Jack & Meg.  How could I pass that up?  I just turned it down low and it was only an interview.  Maybe I'll Joost some National Geographic or Yoga with Rodney Yee for now.

Sorry for the lack of links to those last few random references, I'm too damn tired to google & paste for y'all. 

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