What's in your sidebar?

I have gone through so many itterations of my blog(s) and I am always wondering what the heck I am doing.   Sometimes you just have to stop and look at things objectively.

What is the purpose of your blog?
A big question, trust me, but once you know what you're doing, it will make your life much easier.  So think about what you want to share with people? Are you working your way through a life event (preparing for a wedding, moving, or a new job)? Sharing your knowledge in a particular area (what's your niche?).

Once you've decided the purpose of you blog, it helps you focus and understand "your brand".

Now on to your sidebar.  What do you share?
  • Profile pic.  People want to to know who they're connecting with.
  • About you.  Keep it short, this is a quick look at you, your elevator pitch.  Keep the long story of you to a tab.
  • Social Media links. Yes you have reserved your brand name on all social media sites, but do you consistently post on all of them (and if you do I want to know YOUR secret!)?  Connect only the accounts where you are most active.  Think Twitter, Facebook, Google+.
  • Email address.  Don't make people work for it.  If they want to connect with you make it easy.  Sure they could go the extra step to CONTACT ME form, but this way is more personal.  Don't forget to use caution at how you post it.  Use text instead of symbols.  youraddress [AT] gmail [DOT] com.
  • Call to action.  What do you want from people?  Do you want followers (RSS or a subscribe option), to give stuff a away (a must have "How to Tweet" handout) or even a newsletter subscription.
I'm still working on mine.

Kale and Red Lentil Soup

The beginning of the year brings me a cold and achy feelings, as well as a craving for soup.  I've had some dry red lentils in the cupboard for quite some time now, and I just need to get rid of them.  With all this crazy talk about healthy living that the new year brings, as well as an unhealthy obsession with kale, I thought I would kill a few birds with one recipe.  Having no patience and 

I wanted soup right away and didn't want to wait 24 hours to soak the beans, so I tried to a quick soak:

Quick soak dry beans:
Place beans in a large pot and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water.
Bring to a boil then boil briskly for 2 to 3 minutes.
Cover and set aside off of the heat for 1 hour; drain well.

But if you have more patience or a bit more of a planner (I promise to get better this year) than me:
Regular soak dry beans:
Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water.
Set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain well.
If your kitchen is warm, place the beans in the refrigerator to avoid fermentation.

Now on to the recipe.


1 cup chopped carrots 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup french green lentils, rinsed
28 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 cups chopped kale
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy pot, add carrots and onion. Add a pinch of salt.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until desired tenderness (I don't like mushy carrots).
Add tomatoes, lentils, 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth.
Add thyme and rosemary.
Bring to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer.
Cook until lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add more water if neccessary.
When lentil are tender, add the kale and cook until tender.

Stay hungry!

Making you happy?

In some crazy attempt to organize my life earlier this year, I started looking at other blogs and newsletters for this magical message that would help clear up all my woes.  Unfortunately, all it has done is clog up my inbox with over 100 unread emails.  They go unread as I WANT to read them, because I know in there is some nugget of information that will help solve all my problems.  I slowly sift through them, in the wee hours of the morning when my brain wakes me up.  Usually 4AM.  Why am I telling you this?  I'm not sure, if only to help clear my plate by having a blog post for this week, or fulfilling my need to write (and procrastinate).  But in the end, I have found that articles like this are written because someone else is feeling them too.  

When I saw the title "4 ways to find your happy" come across my inbox I thought my search was over (cue cheesy 80s music).  When I open this email and click on the link, utter bliss will befall me.  Of course you know what comes next.  Sheer disappointment.  Not because it did not tell me how to find happiness, but because of what it was asking me to do.

I am in serious trouble here.  What do I value?  What kind of question is that?  Everything!  Right?  Everything is important.  But the more I thought about it, the more I didn't know.  I don't know.  I am stumped and now I will never be happy.  These newsletters are supposed to help me find clarity.  So if clarity is being dropped in a mud puddle, I am there.  What does that mean?? What is important to me? Write my first thoughts and hold on to them? WHAT?  My first thoughts are fear and confusion and I am trying to let those go!  I DON'T KNOW.  Panic and despair has now filled my day, and it's only 4:10 AM. 

I read on.  Next was Live by your values.  Ok, I have values I thought.  But as I am writing this blog post, I am ever more confused:  "Your list could include activities like working out, sticking to a budget, having coffee with a friend...".  I was thinking more of values you know "Important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable."  Coffee with friends would not fit my definition.  How will I ever be happy?  Grab some coffee?  If that's the case, Starbucks here I come! 

By 5AM any hope of my finding happiness have been reinforced.  Especially by the last point.  "Helping Others Helps."  I enjoy helping others.  I love helping others.  But then as I continue to read, I wonder if my helping others is as selfless as the post implies.  I begin to look at the places I want to volunteer, the people I help.  Am I being selfless?  Do I have another agenda by providing this assistance?  I didn't think so.  I help others because I genuinely think I can help them.  I enjoy it.  But am I doing myself a disservice by helping others so much and neglecting my own dream projects, am I hiding from my dreams, my happiness?

The last slide provide me a glimmer of hope.  "Look at the Big Picture."  Whatever little setback you have today, there is always tomorrow.

As much as I don't want to be zen (that's a whole other issue);
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. (21)”  
Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

sometimes you have to be.  So don't be too hard on yourself for what you didn't do, you can't get that moment back.  Look at today and how you can be better.

See a moment of happiness!

Curried Chick peas

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas, drained
1 (20 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbsp curry powder 

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. 
Cook the onion and garlic in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until softened (3-5 minutes).
Add the chick peas, tomato sauce, water and curry powder to the pot and stir until well mixed.
Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat.
Stir and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency (about 20 minutes total). 
Stir the pot every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning and sticking to the bottom.

Stay hungry my friend.

For DIY social management

Social Media is an incredible beast that we all try to manage.  Some can handle it, or hire people (like me) to help.  But here's some notes if you want to take a stab at it.

Social Media Management Cheat Sheet
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Responding Etiquette on G+

Google hangouts is a wonderful sharing tool from Google+.  You can share all with 1-10 people on Google+ Hangouts and keep it private, or schedule a Google+ Hangout on Air (HOA) and share your video with the internet and save it for posterity on your YouTube Channel.
Now with the way Google+ works, every time there is a HOA it shows up on the events page.  You can scroll through Events and see watch what people are talking about live.  

If you receive an invitation to an event, there is no need to respond via comment.  If you're excited and want to express joy in the event great, but it is not necessary.  There are option boxes YES, MAYBE or NO.  That's fine, pick one for the sake of the of the host, that way they'll know if they can start the event if you're not there.  Remember, it's ok to say no.  Think of it as a party invite that you need to RSVP to.  And if you you repeatedly get invited and you're no longer interested, just send the host an PRIVATE message and ask to be taken off their list, that way they can focus on other people who are interested and want to participate.  

BUT by the same token, if you're just going to watch the event (meaning event is Public) there is NO NEED to answer.  The host is not expecting you.  Yes it would be great if you watched, but if you don't, there is NO NEED to answer.  Just keep scrolling until you find something that you do want to watch.  It's like watching TV, you don't hit the NO button every time you change channel, you just hit the arrow key.  It's hard to put yourself out there like these people are doing, no need making the moderator even more self conscious.


Writing in the car and Post-it notes

Day 11

Get out of the house!

Day 10


Day 9