Favorite Things: Mixing It Up

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Favorite Things: Mixing It Up

Oprah has lots of favorite things and likes to talk about them regularly. Obviously I’m not famous but I thought I might share a few things over the next few weeks that I find invaluable.

Every year during the holiday season we attend many events with our families and church. All of these events include food and I inevitably take the same thing – peanut butter balls (also known as buckeyes but this Indiana girl REFUSES to call them that). I’ve made them since I was a little girl sneaking them from my grandma and they are still just as well loved now as they were then.

That being said, one of my favorite things is something that makes preparing the hundreds of candies I prepare each year just a little bit easier.

My KitchenAid mixer.

20131208-230945.jpg I’ve had this mixer since my family all decided to pitch in and get it for my birthday about 12 years ago. It was been well used and well loved. I’m able to whip up a double batch of the peanut butter filling in just a few minutes and just add the ingredients while the mixer does the work. Using a hand mixer would require a smaller batch and much more elbow grease to combine the thick filling. No thank you.

I’ve had many small appliances and gadgets that have worn out or lost their usefulness but my kitchen would be bare without this one.

Breaking Down the Job Hunt

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Breaking Down the Job Hunt

The featured pic is a screen shot of an actual email I got today regarding a position I presumably should apply for. I can’t imagine how this job search company put anything I have ever completed together and came out with a truck driving position but it gave me a good laugh this morning.

I’ve spent the better part of the last two years job searching. I lost my previous position doing medical transcription for a hospital due to outsourcing in November 2011. I was lucky in that I was already in school for a whole new career. Also, I was able to draw unemployment benefits but for most of the time I was on unemployment, I had to job search.

I was blessed to find a medical billing position a little less than a year after becoming unemployed because a friend and former colleague recommended me to the owner. It was a perfect position to work part-time while still in school and I was grateful for the opportunity.

A few months before graduating it became time to update my résumé, polish my cover letter, and rev up the job search again. For about 6 months I scanned ads, got email updates, and stalked the websites of potential employers. My full-time job was finding a full-time job and it’s not an easy one. About six months in to my search, again I was lucky and blessed enough to have people connected to a position recommend me and now I’m in a place I love.

So, here are my thoughts on job searching. They are in no particular order.

1. Have multiple people read your résumé. You know what your résumé says. Or at least you know what it should say. When you read something for too long it’s easy to see what you believe it says and not what it really says. Having multiple fresh sets of eyes will help you catch minor grammar, spelling, or formatting errors that you’re just missing. You don’t want to be out of the running due to something easily fixed.

2. Your cover letter isn’t about repeating your résumé. Your cover letter is a chance to stand out and show why you are interested in the position and why you think you would be a good candidate. Use it as a tool to grab attention (as long as it’s been carefully edited as well!).

3. Network like crazy. Did anybody notice the pattern of how I obtained my most recent two positions? People I worked with and went to school with knew of positions and advocated for me. They knew I was looking for a job and were happy to recommend me. Going to the people you know who work where you want to work can be a major advantage. New hires are a crap shoot but to have someone who already works at a company be able to say that the shoot isn’t quite so blind is a good thing for you and for the company. Take advantage of your connections and make your job search, hopefully, a little but easier.

4. It’s not personal. Every rejection feels like a personal affront but it’s not. It’s business and, more than likely, it’s not about you. There are so many factors that go in to the hiring process and many of them have nothing to do with you. There may be 100 applicants for 1 position. You may get an interview, which means you may have been in the top 10, but you still don’t get the job. Why not? Who knows. It could be because the person who was hired had a connection (see #3) or had a skill set they decided would be more beneficial or who knows why. But it’s more than likely not about you, it’s about them and it’s business. Don’t let the process beat you down personally, it’s just not personal.

So those are the basics. Sometimes I had to REALLY remind myself of #4 and I’ve had more people than I can count read and edit my résumé/cover letter. Good luck to each and every person out there job searching now!

Money Saving Monday: Free E-Book

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Money Saving Monday: Free E-Book

I love to save money. But really, who doesn’t? One of my current favorite money savers are free e-books for my Kindle.

I can’t begin to imagine how many interpretations I have seen or read of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Heck, one of my November posts talked about watching Scrooged, which is one more retelling of this story.

Last year I watched Disney’s A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey for the first time. I enjoyed it thoroughly and highly recommend it but it’s definitely for slightly older kids than mine. It is quite frightening in some of the scenes but beautifully done. I was taken with the language and became curious as to the original story.

Given that A Christmas Carol is now public domain, I was able to download it for free on my Kindle (which I HIGHLY recommend!). The movie was so very much pulled from the book and I couldn’t get enough. I read it in just a few days, which wasn’t that difficult given how short it was.

It’s that time of year again so I decided to go back to this story. If you have the chance to read this before Christmas, I don’t think you’ll regret it. Not only is it a classic story but you can get it for free, and who doesn’t need something for free this time of year?

Simply Thankful Sunday – Winter Edition

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Here in the Indiana area we got hit with some ice and snow on Friday. Of course the kiddos were super excited about their snow day and getting to enjoy all the fabulousness that is playing in the first snow of the year. So thankful for their enthusiasm!

20131208-204324.jpgOn a different note, I was also thankful for anti-lock brakes and the two new front tires I got in May. They made traveling in less than desirable conditions with precious cargo a little bit easier.

30 Days

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I tried my hardest to participate fully in NaBloPoMo but of course I missed a day and definitely phoned in more than one picture post. I do feel like it was a great reminder to put my blog closer to the top of my priority list and if for nothing else than that, I’m glad I made the effort.

Over the last 30 days I have seen the regular posts on Facebook documenting something my friends were thankful for each day. I didn’t participate but now I would like to take the time to fill in my 30 days of thankfulness.

1. The Lord. I would not be who I am without my service for the Lord.
2. Gabe. He is truly my other half and makes me better than anything I would be without him.
3. Aiden and Olivia. I would normally list them separately, as they are so individual, but they made me a mother and fill the piece in my heart so completely that I never knew was empty before they came along.
4. My grandma. She is truly the only mother I have ever known and taught me what it is to love and nurture a family. I am thankful she is healthy and happy and enjoys my children so fully.
5. My aunts. Without my mom in my life I could have had something missing but there never was because of my aunts. Linda and Cheryl brought more love to me and my brother than one person ever could and spoil my children beyond belief. They love it!! :-)
6. My in-laws. There are a million horror stories out there about terrible in-laws and I’m glad to say I don’t have that. I have in-laws who treat me like their own and have given me the chance to have the sisters I never got to have growing up.
7. Friends. There aren’t words enough to say what my friends mean to me. I have friends who I’ve known for YEARS (I’m looking at you Brandi!), friends who I feel like I’ve known for years (Kimmie!), long distance friends I’ve never met in real life (Jenn and Dawn!), and nursing friends who walked with me through our battle and came out on the other side (too many of you crazies to list!). Each and every one of them has meant something important to me and filled a place in my life that would have been harder and emptier without them.
8. My career. I worked so very hard to earn my career and become a nurse. It means something to me that I can say that I’m an RN.
9. My job. Yes, it’s different than a career. I love my job. I just became full-time this week and could not be happier. In this economy a job is not guaranteed, even with an education, and I feel immensely blessed to have mine.
10. Our home. It is our sanctuary from the world and I am glad for it every day. I love coming home and relaxing at the end of the day and having a little private place that is just ours.

Ok, those were all serious things, now for the silly.

11. Coffee. I LOVE COFFEE. It makes me happy and it tastes like heaven and it is my friend.
12. Chocolate. Right up there with coffee.
13. Purses. I love a beautiful handbag. I love new ones and old ones. I love when the seasons change and it’s time to bring out a different purse.
14. Shoes. Gabe doesn’t like it (there’s just too many of them!) but I love shoes. The more the better and multiple pairs for every occasion. Love. Them.
15. Shopping. Even when I don’t buy anything I love to look and try things on and consider the possibilities.
16. Books. Finding an adventure in the written word is a gift.
17. Movies. My imagination can only go so far and seeing the creations that come alive on the big screen is more than my tiny brain could ever come up with.
18. Technology. I love computers and tablets and phones. Pretty much anything with fancy lights and whistles gets my attention. I think I get that from my dad, I still remember the first dial-up modem he brought home.
19. Dogs. Specifically our dogs. I love animals and our dogs are big sweeties.
20. Good pens. I have worked in offices for so long that good pens mean a LOT to me. Mine are pink so that they stand out and I can nab them if someone else picks them up.
21. Holidays. Whether it be Thanksgiving or Halloween or Labor Day, I love taking time and slowing down and recognizing different moments in life.
22. My car. Long story short, our car died and we had no idea what we were going to do. Our car came at just the right time and at just the right cost.
23. Gabe’s truck. Yep, they’re separate because they were two separate blessings. Gabe now has an extended can and it makes it so much easier with the kiddos.
24. Naps. Enough said.
25. Slippers. When you’re on your feet a lot during the day, having soft fuzzy slippers waiting at home is fabulous.
26. Christmas lights. It’s that time of the year and I’m like a kid when it comes to driving around to see them.
27. Music. I love almost all genres and can sing along to almost anything. Cranking up the sound in my car and shouting out lyrics is a huge stress reliever.
28. Breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day!
29. Restaurants. As much as I love to cook, having it brought to me is something to be thankful for.
30. Pictures. If you can’t tell from this space, I take a lot of pictures. I have a strong need to document and capture moments.

So there you have it. The month of November is done but I have no intention of abandoning this space in December. We shall see!