Archive | March 2013

Technologically Challenged!

By Ruth Topper

Do you have any idea what it is like to be a non-techie in an ever expanding technological world?  I have first-hand knowledge on this subject!  I experience frustration on a near daily basis due to my lack of skills in the high tech arena.  There are times when it is embarrassing because I just don’t know how to do things that it seems like everyone else can do.  My kids roll their eyes at me & make fun of my “inabilities.” I try to explain to them that I made it successfully through my college years without much technology (an electric typewriter with a correction tape was high tech then) and I was 32 years old before I had my first cell phone.  Somehow this just doesn’t mean much to them!

So – I thought I would share with you a few of my challenges.  Hopefully, I am not alone…

Which one of these remotes do I start with???

Three remotes? Where do I begin?

1.  Television – Yes, I do know how to turn on all of the TV’s in my house and can even change the channels.  However – if my kids happen to have been playing video games on the x-box and didn’t return to the “TV” viewing mode – I am lost.  Which one of the 3 remotes in that room do I even start with?  How do I get the TV to a place where I can watch a favorite TV show?

I’m sure many of you have “On Demand” like we do.  This is where you can watch a television show from a few days ago or last week that you missed.  Guess what – if I miss “Survivor” this week – I’m not watching it – unless someone else in my house wants to catch-up too.  I have no idea where you go or what you do to access the “On Demand” feature.

Likewise – if you came to my house today with your favorite movie on a DVD I would have no idea how to get the TV set up to watch it.  I could get the DVD into the player – but which one of those remotes do I use?  Good or bad – every DVD I have seen in the past 10 years has been one that my kids or husband wants to see too – so there has been no need to learn how to perform this function!

Does your "Smart" phone make you feel "smart?"

Does your “Smart” phone make you feel “smart”?

2.  Smart Phones – I do have a “smart phone.”  Too bad it doesn’t make me feel very smart on many days. We upgraded our phones when it was time for our “plan” to be renewed last summer.  Of course it was the 14 year old who was pushing for her own iphone.   In a few days I had all the basics down – how to make a call, accept a call and text.  After that, we had a definite slow down!  I watch people around me using their phones to reply to their e-mail, “googling” a topic that we are discussing to get more information, getting directions, utilizing “apps” for their weight control or to see how far, how fast & how long it took them on their recent run, taking pictures and then immediately uploading them to Facebook, etc.  I am jealous of their technological abilities.  Friends tell me that they just start “playing around” with the options on their phones & figure things out.  If I started doing this – I would end up changing the language to Japanese and would really be in trouble!

Feeling it... as I approach the finish line of a mini-tri.  My "no-frills" watch helps me keep track of my time.

Feeling it… as I approach the finish line of a mini-tri. My “no-frills” watch helps me keep track of my time.

3.  Digital Watches – I mentioned above that friends I know have “apps” on their phones to help measure how far they have gone on a run, etc.  A year or so ago I invested in a digital watch just to be able to have the length of time of my run. (I don’t necessarily need all that other “stuff” and knew that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use it anyway).  This watch has multiple functions such as a stop watch, split timing, and an alarm that would go off without fail at 1:25 a.m. every morning.  I know this because for the life of me I never could figure out how to turn the alarm off and if I forgot to leave the watch downstairs it would wake me (and my happy husband) up every night!  And …… since I couldn’t figure out how to change the time on the watch – for ½ of the year after Daylight Savings Time would begin I would need to remember that my watch was 1 hour off the actual time – until the clocks would change again!

So what does this all mean for me?  It means that I dream of being a “techie.”   I would love to have all the latest gadgets & be proficient at using them.  I would love to be the person that people brought their tech issues to & I could magically fix them.  Somehow I’m not seeing this dream anywhere in my immediate future.  However, I think that there are ways that I could improve my technological skill set.

What tips or suggestions do you have to help me get started?  Are you already a “techie” or do you have a dream, like me?

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Oatmeal: It’s What’s for Breakfast

By Mary Ann Filler

My Breakfast This Morning!

My breakfast this morning! There’s nothing like the warmth of home-cooked oatmeal to start the day!

If you love oatmeal but for convenience sake find yourself grabbing the pre-made packets with the high amounts of salt, sugar and who knows what else, this post is for you!

If you want to lower your cholesterol, boost your immune system, protect your heart, stabilize your blood sugar, lower your risk of diabetes, prevent cancer, or want a gluten-friendly/free meal this post may also be for you!

One of my highest priorities as a mother of two teens and a tween is to provide them with healthy meals. For several months, my oldest son has been reporting to school daily by 6 a.m. for early morning workouts with the baseball team.  I really wanted him to have a healthy breakfast before heading out the door in the wee hours of the morning.  However, waking up at 5 a.m. to prepare him breakfast was not too appealing.  Oatmeal made the night before in the crock pot was a perfect solution.

Apparently, crock pot oatmeal recipes are quite popular these days, but my recipe is one that I have developed over time.  I just love waking to the aroma of baked apples and cinnamon and a hot, healthy breakfast that takes no time at all to scoop in to individual bowls.   Of course you can add the fruit, cinnamon and nuts or a splash of cold milk after the cooking cycle or not at all.  You may even allow the “kiddos” to top the oatmeal as they wish.

MA’s Crockpot Oatmeal

Place the following ingredients in a slow cooker, stir and cook on low 6-8 hours.  As long as you have enough liquid in the crock pot you may vary the cooking time.  Also, I’ve noticed other crock pot oatmeal recipes recommending that the crock pot be greased prior to adding the ingredients.  I personally have not done that, and have not had issues with clean up.  If you typically prepare the surface of your crock pot to avoid sticking use butter or coconut oil for a healthy “lube  job.”

  1. 2-2.5 Cups of Liquid such as Water, Cow’s Milk, Almond Milk or Coconut Milk (I use Almond Milk)
  2. 2-3 Tbsp. of a sweetener such as Sugar, Brown Sugar, Honey, Maple Sugar (I use either Raw Honey or Maple Sugar)
  3. 1 Tbsp. of Butter…the REAL stuff!
  4. Pinch of Salt
  5. .5 to 1 tsp. Cinnamon (or more)
  6. 1 Cup Oatmeal (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats)
  7. Fruit such as Apples (1-2), Bananas (1-2), Raisins or Dried Cranberries (a sprinkling to taste)
  8.  Chopped Nuts such as Almonds, Pecans or Walnuts (the amount here is a personal preference…1-2 Tbsp or more is a good start)

Other add-in/topping ideas may include but certainly are not limited to:  nut butters, cocoa powder, coconut, chia seeds, ground flax meal or seeds, blueberries, peaches and chocolate chips!  Isn’t this exciting, folks!  You can top your oatmeal just as you would your ice cream!

IMG_0213Or… Let Your Refrigerator Do the Work:

In the last couple of months I was introduced to a new “make the night before” oatmeal recipe.  Believe it or not, this oatmeal is made in the refrigerator!  The basic premise is to place all ingredients in a jar or bowl, stir and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, you may eat the oatmeal hot or cold.  If you find yourself unable to eat breakfast prior to leaving the house in the morning, this is a great take along meal idea.

Here is the link to help you begin discovering the world of refrigerator oatmeal!  Who knew?!?

Click here for “Smart Sweet:  Chia, Choco and Banana Overnight Oats.”   Ladies, if you love chocolate…try the recipe!!

For more info on the health benefits of oatmeal, check out this link to Mother Earth Living.

Have you experimented with any of these alternative ways of preparing oatmeal?  We would love feedback!

Marissa Mayer: Feminist Failure?

By Karen Hendricks

Photo Credit: Peter Kramer, Associated Press

Photo Credit: Peter Kramer, Associated Press

My head is spinning from the Marissa Mayer news coverage this week. To those moms who don’t have time to follow the news, I apologize. I’m a news junkie. But I know there are days when it’s hard enough to remember what month it is, let alone find the time to keep up with daily current events. However, in this case you really ought to know what’s going on because there’s a ripple effect touching women everywhere.

So here’s the play-by-play:

  • Marissa Mayer is the CEO of Yahoo who made headlines for announcing her pregnancy the same day she was appointed as CEO in July 2012. (A new female icon is born!)
  • A long-time Google executive, Mayer created anticipation and excitement at Yahoo! Could she turn around the struggling company? (A female CEO who is not only smart-as-a-whip but beautiful and pregnant… awesome!)
  • Leading up to the birth of her son on September 30, Mayer said she would take as little maternity time as possible, only two weeks. (Hmmm… Superwoman? She’ll change her tune once she gives birth!)
  • But return to work in two weeks, she did, with a nursery installed next door to her office for her son, to boot. (Very cool, however this is not something the average working mom can relate to… <understatement>)
  • Then the mother firework of all ear-popping, sky-blasting pyrotechnics: A week ago today, a memo circulated at Yahoo, ordering all employees who worked from home to either quit or begin working in the office full-time by June. (Hello? Does Mayer not understand feminist loyalty and her leadership role as a female CEO?)

There are a multitude of angles to this story, and I’ve compiled a bunch of them from this week’s tops news coverage:

Is Mayer out of touch?

“Many women were appalled at the Yahoo news, noting that Mayer, with her penthouse atop the San Francisco Four Seasons, her Oscar de la Rentas and her $117 million five-year contract, seems oblivious to the fact that for many of her less-privileged sisters with young children, telecommuting is a lifeline to a manageable life,” writes News York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd. She continues, “The dictatorial decree to work ‘side by side’ had some dubbing Mayer not ‘the Steinem of Silicon Valley’ but ‘the Stalin of Silicon Valley.’”

Is Mayer courageous?

Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson quotes a source familiar with the situation at Yahoo as saying, “Yahoo has a huge number of people of who work remotely – people who just never come in.  Many of these people ‘weren’t productive.’… Mayer saw another side-benefit to making this move. She knows that some remote workers won’t want to start coming into the office and so they will quit. That helps Yahoo, which needs to cut costs. It’s a layoff that’s not a layoff… ‘She’s turned out to have a lot of courage. She’s dealing with problems no one wanted to deal with before (according to the source).’”

Off with her head!

“But there really isn’t anything more annoying than an extraordinarily lucky genius with movie star looks and a $127 million contract acting as if what’s easy for her should be easy for everybody else,” writes Margery Eagen in the Boston Herald. She continues, “She’s a mega-celebrity, superstar CEO with a tin ear and a preachy mouth. In a few short months, she’s gone from 21st cent­ury role model to Marie Antoinette.”

Would it have been different coming from a male CEO?

Sheelah Kohlhatkar of Bloomberg Businessweek summarizes, “No one knows whether the decision to require all Yahoo employees to work in an office will prove to be positive or negative for the company; it may be personally disastrous for some of the individuals affected and the best thing that ever happened to others. But if one of the hundreds of men running American companies had made a similar move, it’s unlikely that anyone would have even noticed.”

O, the irony!

Similarly, The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus writes, “How ironic that a technology company, dedicated to enabling connectivity, would enforce such a retrograde, back-to-the-assembly-line edict. It reflect a bricks-and-mortar mindset in an increasingly cyber world. How depressing that this edict comes from a female CEO, albeit a seemingly bionic one. You have to wonder whether this is Mayer demonstrating that she is as tough — or as boneheaded — as any guy.”

A step backwards despite advances in technology?

Gender issues aside, Max Nisen of Business Insider also mentions the growing trend of telecommuting: “What’s pretty clear from details that have emerged is that Yahoo did an exceptionally bad job at managing its remote workers. People who worked from home were apparently unproductive and so disconnected from the company that people forgot that they worked at Yahoo at all… But rather than try to deal with those issues, Yahoo’s chosen just to end remote work completely. That’s understandable. Mayer’s trying to clean house and completely change a company that’s had several CEOs in quick succession. But she may have created a long-term problem. Advances in technology, changes in preferences, and an increasingly globalized workforce mean that the trend towards remote workers and fewer offices will only grow in the future.”

Ok – your turn… What do you think? Was Mayer’s announcement a good business decision? Is she insulting women with her actions? Did she do long-term damage to those who telecommute? Ultimately, is she a role model?