Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Using Pictobrowser

I just posted a piece on Uptake about a recent visit to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Thanks to a nifty piece of software, I was able to include a great photo slide show through my Flickr feed.

Pictobrowser is a quick and easy tool that takes a set from your Flickr stream and makes it into a nifty slide show, with hardly any fuss.

Of course, I was having trouble with Wordpress playing nicely with Pictobrowser, and fortunately, there was a solution, in the form of a quick fix from Kumara Sastry. Installing the plugin fixed and following the instructions fixed the problem immediately (Wordpress apparently blocks objects and iframes). Now all is good and I am looking forward to posting lots more photo essays!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ideas from BlogHer08 - it's about time!

As I think about getting Kitchen Gadget Girl up and running, and driving traffic and readers to the site, I uncovered a host of ideas from BlogHer that I had not processed. I share them here, mostly to keep track for myself, but just in case they might be useful to someone else.

One of the speakers I heard that weekend was Anne-Marie Nichols. Her Write Spot blog shows bloggers how to promote your site through social networking. Since that is pretty much the game now, her tips and tricks are useful. I enjoyed her recent article on joining a Blog Network, and she wrote up her suggestions from BlogHer.

At the same session, I listened to Gwen Bell, who summed up her talk here. The main takeaway for me was to check out Kirtsy, and start my own Flickr photostream.

From the writing session, Amy Gahran of Contentious provided these tips:
  • Clarify my goal in writing
  • Who is my core community (picture a real person when writing)
  • Make points, set content, have a call to action/next steps
  • Keep it to 250 words
  • Remove flab
She also suggested checking out Lijit, Wordtracker.com, and co.mments.com.

Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes had tons of great ideas for building traffic. The first one I implemented was the Blogger Blog List for UpTake. In the case of UpTake, it allowed me to build an RSS feed of the travel bloggers that I read a lot. I have not figured out the best way to use it on Kitchen Gadget Girl yet.

She also suggested connecting with other bloggers at the same stage of life. In the technology front, Elise suggested checking out Google Share, Picassa, Fireworks, iPhoto, Picnik, Browsershots.org, Sitemeter, and Google Alerts (to keep track of your content).

And finally, at the FAQs for Beginning Bloggers session, I picked up these hints:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Photo tips for Flickr

I love using Flickr - I mostly use it to make photos ready for my blogs. My food blog, Kitchen Gadget Girl, uses lots of photos, so this morning, I ran out of room on my free Flickr account. Fortunately, I remembered how to make my photos smaller by exporting them out of iPhoto. Once I did that, I was able to upload everything I needed. Here is what I did:

1. In iPhoto, select the photos I want to upload (I do this by putting 3 stars next to the ones I like)
2. Click on File -> Export
3. Select File Export, then Scale Images. I used 1024 for the width, and it automatically figured out the height. I keep the filename, but I created a new folder on my desktop to store all the smaller photos in. Click on Export.
4. Open up Flickr Uploadr, drag and drop the now-small photos into the window, click Upload.

And there you have it. The picture above is Little A helping me can tomatoes yesterday!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Money does grow on trees...

at least, that is what my kids think!

The Big Guy is actually pretty good with money management. In January, we decided to give him an allowance, and after figuring out that a weekly plan would not work for us (who ever has $1 bills in their wallet) we came up with a monthly payout. The first of each month, he gets his allowance and promptly organizes it into his Learning Cents Bank - 55% in spend, 30% in save and 15% in give.

For the money that he saves, we deposit it regularly into a bank account, and my husband and I match the savings 1:1. So, if he deposits $20, we deposit $20 into his account. Nice.

Same thing for the giving, although we have yet to actually give any money. This will be my next project, putting together some options that we can talk about as a family. High on the Big Guy's list now is his school library and Ronald MacDonald House.

Now, we also implemented an allowance plan for Little A at the same time, however, she is less quick to catch on to the plan. Although, after a recent trip to the Apple Store, she now has her heart set on a new iPod Nano, and seems to get that she needs to save her $199 to buy one.

Several times this year, we have caught her in her room with her bank, giving out money to whatever friend was over playing. As a result, we keep her bank in our room and bring it out on allowance day.

Both kids are allowed to buy what they would like with their spend money, but we do try to point out that they have many options. The Big Guy is currently obsessed with Pokemon, and spends most of his allowance on the trading cards - once he reaches 800 cards, I have told him that he cannot spend anymore money on Pokemon. He seems cool with that, and is already talking about saving up for something big.

Our goal in giving our kids money was to teach them how to manage it. When I was growing up, I did not have the same education, and money in my house was a bad thing, a scarce thing, a not-talked-about thing, and it was rare for me to have my own money and make my own decisions.

I would like my kids to understand the importance of saving and giving, and being able to make sound decisions about money. I want to encourage them to make smart choices when it comes to spending their money, and want them to think beyond the short term. Just like their mother, hah!

Thanks to superdumb supervillain for reminding me about the Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast about money management and children, in conjunction with the financial literacy partnership between Consumer Action and Capital One, highlighting the new Moneywi$e eLearning Tool.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering September 11th

The internet is full of beautifully written tributes to 9/11, some are here, here and here. But this afternoon, as I stopped by our local fire station to take this picture, I tried to explain to my kids what happened on 9/11/01.

Both kids talked about it in class today, talked about the Twin Towers and the disaster. I am not sure how many details they heard, but for some reason, tonight I felt as though I could share more information about the awfulness of the day with my two kids.

My daughter wanted to know how it happened. I explained about the airplanes, the really bad men, the towers falling. Why did they do that, she wanted to know. Because they want to hurt the United States.

My son wanted to know what happened to the bad men. I explained they died in the plane crash. I also tried to explain the incredible bravery of the women and men on United Airlines flight 93, the passengers who thwarted the terrorists attempts to crash the plane which was headed for San Francisco.

This particular element still makes me choke up - I can imagine the passengers, frightened out of their minds, thinking about their loved ones at home, determined to stop what is clearly happening before their eyes. I think of their sacrifice, my heart hurts.

After 7 years, I still don't know what to make of this tragedy. I ache thinking about 9/10/01 and how everything was so much simpler that day, just the day before. My son, 13 months old at the time, will never know a time in which this tragedy did not exist. My daughter will always know about the bad people in the world who took over planes on 9/11 and crashed them into buildings.

I have run out of words to describe how I feel. It is still heartbreaking.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Alaska for photo Friday

My friend Debbie at DeliciousBaby started Photo Fridays. She is looking for bloggers to post a fun travel photo on Friday, then share the photo. Here is my submission for today, a photo from our recent trip to Talkeetna, Alaska.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Is it so hard to believe

that my name is Gudrun? This weekend I received an email from someone I met at BlogHer, and she addressed it thusly:

Hi Gudrun (eek - I don't know your real name)

Really? The fact that my name is in my email and on my business cards is not enough to make it real? Gudrun is a real name. Honestly.

My favorite - when I am signing up for something, or buying something, and they ask for my name, and I tell them Gudrun, they write it down, then ask for my first name. Huh? Better yet, a nurse at the blood drive asked my name, then wanted to know who would name me something like that. Really. Hurtful.

Please, people, get a little educated.

Better yet, I will tell you what you need to know:

From my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: Gud-run, the wife of Sigurd and later Atli in Norse mythology.

Gudrun appears as a main character in Nibelungenleid (Norse mythology), Volsungsaga (Icelandic), and Laxdaelasaga (Icelandic). Also, Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence and a Wagnerian opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Here is the Wikipedia page all about Gudrun. Oh, and in case you did not know, Gudrun is a feminine name.

Yeah, so it is not that popular here in the good 'ole U.S.A., but Gudrun is very popular in the Nordic Countries and Germany. There is a chocolate named Gudrun, a fancy clothes designer GudrunGudrun and other folks from the blogger world.

Believe me, when I was a kid, I hated my name. It was hard for most people to pronounce, no one could spell it correctly, sometimes they thought I was a boy, and it was generally just a pain. And I can promise you that I spend an inordinate amount of time with my kids teaching them the importance of spelling someone's name correctly.

Nowadays, I take pride in my name, happy that I can be a one-name wonder, like Madonna or Cher. I mean really, how many Gudruns do you know?

P.S. I am trying to collect a running list of Gudruns in the blogosphere, the G-List. Comment if you would like to be added.....