Am I a Funny Girl?

Life is a beautiful mess, if you know where to look

cbias disclosure#SweepTheMess #CollectiveBias

Find the beauty in the mess #SweeptheMess #ad

Can I tell you secret? I’m kind of a terrible housekeeper. I try, mostly, but never seem to get quite caught up. There are pretty much always dishes in the sink, junk mail on the counter, and toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.

Because Jamie and I both have travel and commutes for work, we don’t spend a whole lot of time at home, and the time we do spend? There are other things we’d rather be doing than chores.

It can be easy to stress about the mess sometimes. I will watch things slowly pile up on the coffee table, and it can be a source of stress for me. Here’s what I mean:

Coffee Table Mess #SweeptheMess #ad

Tissues, water cup, a book, tax paperwork, phone, keys, sunglasses… just a pile of STUFF. But a simple change of perspective allows me to see the beauty in this scene. Do you see it?

Coffee Table Results #SweeptheMess #ad

Max and Jamie are having this moment together, instead of cleaning. Will Max remember the pile of stuff on the coffee table? I doubt it. Will he remember reading with his Daddy? For sure.

Sometimes, finding the beauty just takes a change in perspective.

Nine times out of ten, when I go to set the table for dinner or breakfast, this is the scene on the table. Detritus from doing homework after school, miscellaneous scratch paper, colored pencils and markers. Some have rolled off the table and into the floor, and they are *everywhere*

Drawing Supplies Mess #SweeptheMess #ad

But it’s because I have a little boy who can’t get enough drawing, and he loves sharing his creations with me. The mess that’s made in the process? Worth it.

Drawing Supplies Result #SweeptheMess #ad

This is a dramatic re-enactment, but it’s something that totally happened… I was in my room getting ready in the morning, and I came out to the kitchen to see this:

Cheerios Mess #SweeptheMess #ad

An almost full box of Cheerios spread across the kitchen floor. It’s easy to freak out about it, to rumble and grumble and let this wreck the start of my day. But instead, I tried to find the beauty in the cereal spread across the lino. And you know what? I found it. We are raising a smart, independent little boy. In an effort to help me and Jamie out, Max had tried to make his own breakfast. Because we have been doing a good job, Max thought this was a task he could do on his own. Unfortunately, gravity won over, the box was freshly opened, and the mess was made. But it’s because Max had taken initiative and tried to do something on his own. I’d call that a win.

Cherios Cleanup #SweeptheMess #ad

O-Cedar wants to help you find the beauty in life’s messes, too, because even the worst of the messes can bring beauty. Check out this video to see what I mean:

O-Cedar Angler Broom #SweeptheMess #ad

We love our O-Cedar Angler Broom, and we can rely on it to help us clean up those messes that life throws our way. Want to win your own broom AND up to $500 in Visa gift cards? Enter below!

And tell me: How do you remind yourself to look for the beauty?

O-Cedar “A Beautiful Mess” Giveaway

10 podcasts to download today (other than Serial)

10 favorite podcasts to downloadLike basically everyone else in my Facebook feed, I got hooked on Serial last fall, and that addiction series opened up to me the wide and wonderful world of podcasting. Since Sarah Koenig stepped away from the case of Hae and Adnan, I went searching for new things to listen to on my commute. I’ve historically listened to music, but realized that podcasts are a great change of pace AND I actually learn stuff sometimes!

My dad’s a big audiobook listener, and he has recommended many of them to me. I’ve never been able to listen to them, though… I just have trouble tracking the story and the characters when I’m only listening. I find that listening to podcasts has helped me develop that skill (Is it a skill?) and I have gone from 10 minute anecdote-based shows to longer ones. I’m anxiously awaiting the next series of Serial, but until then, here’s what I’m listening to. (All of the show names are linked to the iTunes listing for the show; sorry Android people)

CriminalCriminal: I randomly came across this true crime podcast a few weeks ago, and quickly ran through all of the available episodes. They basically cover all sorts of crime stories; from a 9 year old who was convicted of murder back in the 1800s, to a woman who works as a volunteer “exit guide” for people who have terminal illnesses and choose to end their lives. There’s the Oakland man who put a Buddha on the median in front of his house in an effort to stop people from dumping trash there, and has now seen an 80% reduction in crime in his neighborhood. Just all sorts of interesting stories with the common thread of crime.

StartUpStartUp: I started listening to StartUp because, as a tech startup employee myself, these things are interesting to me. Alex Blumberg, a former NPR producer, has struck out on his own to start his own podcasting company, and he takes you along on the ride of building a startup from the ground up. From terrible first pitch meetings, to launching their first show other than their own, it’s really interesting to hear a founder’s perspective on the whole process. I am looking forward to season 2, which is tagging along with a different startup… Alex is a white dude with lots of connections from his previous work; he funded WAY fast compared to the real world, so it will be interesting to see how next season’s company works out.

Reply AllReply All: Speaking of StartUp, this was their first show to air. And it’s fabulous. It’s kind of a pop culture slash history lesson, but focused on the internet. Where it’s been, where it’s going. From JenniCam livestreaming her dorm room in the 90s, to weird and random apps (ever wanted a stranger to deliver a message, in person, to a friend or loved one?), to confronting online trolls and SWATTING and doxxing. I’ve really enjoyed listening, and I highly recommend it if you are proud of your geek streak and can re-enact the sounds of a modem connecting at 24.4

UpvotedUpvoted: This is basically the Reddit podcast. They pull stories from the archives, or more recent than that, and share more about it, or the backstory to the users involved. There are amazing stories of Redditors who joined before going to prison, and now work for the company. The Reddit Secret Santa, and Reddit’s Redditgifts.com site that now runs that and other themed gift exchanges, and what happens when a Redditor announces to a bodybuilding forum (r/swoleacceptance) that he is transgender and will be transitioning to female. (Spoiler alert: Happy ending in progress) I don’t think you *have to* be a Redditor to enjoy these human interest stories, but it probably helps.

Savage LovecastSavage Lovecast: The “Savage Love” advice column was one of my favorite parts of reading SF Weekly when I was college. Free paper, broke college student, I devoured that stuff. Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better” movement, doles out relationship and life advice that you may or may not want to hear. Some of his opinions may be unpopular, but he also backs them up with really logical reasons. I find it really interesting to hear from such a huge variety of people, because I think that any time I can hear from people who have a different perspetive or experience than me, it will only help me learn.

Nerdette:Nerdette Their tagline is “Because we’re all a little nerdy about something” Hosted by two women, Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda, they describe it as “a safe space for nerding out about all the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL.” Sometimes it’s guests or authors, and I really love is their Unsung Women of Science series, as well as the weekly call-in “Nerd Confessions” They assign weekly homework, which will only make you a better person and nerd, and assignments and other info can be found on their website.

And now we get to the NPR portion of our programming… I don’t/didn’t set out to download All The NPR Podcasts, it just happened that way. I actually had been listening to even more than these, but I found myself letting them slip by without listening, but these ones are my can’t miss.

This American LifeThis American Life: Basically the 500 lb gorilla of NPR, right? Ira Glass and his stories. If you’ve never listened to This American Life, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and download. Every single one is fabulous. Stories about everything, with short collections tied together by a general theme. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll press pause while you’re listening on the train because people are looking at you and your reactions.

InvisibiliaInvisibilia: This was the first show I picked up post-Serial. I think they advertised on Serial a lot? Anyway, it’s a look at the invisible forces that impact our lives. People who lack the ability to have fear, and how fear impacts our lives in both good and bad ways, how we categorize and sort things we encounter, and how those things affect every aspect of our minds, or entanglement, which is a crazy theory about people interacting at a molecular level. Good stuff here.

Ask Me AnotherAsk Me Another: TRIVIA! I don’t know that I’ll ever actually make it on Jeopardy, so I might realign my sights to get on Ask Me Another instead. Silly games, with song parodies or word play, and prizes like having a celebrity record your voicemail message, or awesome Ask Me Another t-shirts, it’s not a high stakes game, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.

Pop Culture HHPop Culture Happy Hour: And last but not least, it’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is basically a talk show with a variety of subjects… around the release of Selma, for example, they discussed the use of artistic license in historical films. There was an interesting discussion recently about the importance of anniversaries in pop culture, about how celebrating the anniversaries of album and film releases may or may not lessen the importance of milestones. Some compelling talk around what could be a pretty foofoo subject.

So tell me, what podcasts are playing in your ears these days?

5 unexpected ways to reduce your environmental impact

cbias disclosure#BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

Five unexpected ways that your family can reduce your environmental impact.

We try as hard as we can to “live green” around here. Being from California, a lot of it is second nature for us, like turning the water off when you’re brushing your teeth, or separating our recycling and having a compost bin on the kitchen counter. Just because there are some things we do without thinking, that certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t do things to reduce our impact even further.

Of course, there are the obvious things, like taking shorter showers, turning the lights off when you leave the room, and recycling your glass, plastic and paper items. But what about some things that might not be quite so obvious? I’ve got a few ideas for you, and would love to hear what else you might do.

Buy in bulk and keep in smaller containersBuy in Bulk #BringingInnovation #ad

I don’t know about you, but I was always brought up to think of warehouse shopping as a money-saving endeavor, more than an environmental one, but there are things that can greatly reduce waste when you buy them in bulk. We buy white rice 25 lbs at a time, and keep it in a big bucket in the garage. (A clean bucket purchased just for this purpose; you can get bucket and lid for less than $10 at your local hardware store)

We use a big glass jar to keep rice close at hand and to free up space in the pantry. Instead of buying 25 1-lb bags of rice, we purchase one big bag, keeping about 20 bags worth of trash out of the landfill. Some other things we buy in bulk and store include coffee beans (we grind fresh every morning), flour, and sugar.

Shop thrift and consignment shopsShop consignment #BringingInnovation #ad

This is another one that is obviously about saving money too, but many people forget the environmental impacts of clothing. I love shopping consignment, because it allows me to find high-quality pieces at great prices, without adding more new stuff into the cycle. I spent less than $50 for the three dresses shown above; if I’d bought them at retail, they would have easily gone for about $100 each. Good for the wallet AND the planet? I’m in.

Buy used when possible for other things, tooCast Iron Pans #BringingInnovation #ad

Like clothing, buying other things used is also a way to help conserve. There are *some* things I don’t buy used; I’m certainly not going to buy used undergarments, and generally avoid buying things that can be worn out. Like I wouldn’t buy a used blender, because I have no way of knowing how much the motor has been used.

One thing though, that is actually improved by buying used is cast iron cookware. Jamie loves to find rusted old pieces at the flea market and then recondition and restore them. Old cast iron is amazing, and can actually cost a bit more than buying new. But it’s worth it. An old pan, with a generation’s worth of seasoning on it is a valuable addition to any cook’s collection.

Buy Energizer EcoAdvanced batteriesEnergizer Eco Packaging #BringingInnovation #ad

While batteries aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think about “environmentally conscious,” Energizer’s brand new Eco Advanced batteries are making them a whole lot friendlier. The EcoAdvanced batteries actually use old recycled batteries for some of the materials, AND they are Energizer’s longest-lasting alkaline battery ever. Available in AA and AAA sizes, these batteries will hold their power for up to 12 years in storage, so don’t be afraid to stock up!Energizer Eco instore #BringingInnovation #ad

I picked up my EcoAdvanced at Walmart, where I found them right at the checkout stand, making them easy to grab as I prepared to pay. It’s like having a source of guilt-free energy, knowing that they used old batteries to make these new ones. As parents, we go through many, many AA batteries around here; my computer mouse uses one, but Max’s variety of toys can go through nearly a dozen batteries a month. That’s an awful lot of batteries! While I’m on the subject of repurposing old things, the last thing on my list is…

Repurpose old/damaged textilesUpcycled Pillow #BringingInnovation #ad

How cute is this throw pillow? It’s a case of something being worth more than the sum of its parts, right? I had an old sweater that had a big stain on the sleeve, and an ugly throw pillow that I was tired of looking at. Using the torso part of the sweater, I easily recovered the old pillow with this fun new look, giving me a cute and cozy new pillow for the living room!

If I really wanted to go hard core, I probably could have turned the sleeves into legwarmers or something, but I didn’t want to get carried away. ;) I’ve also seen t-shirt collections turned into quilts and stuffed animals, if you have pieces that have sentimental value but you want something to do with them other than just leaving them in the bottom drawer.

So tell me, what do YOU do to help reduce your impact?

And as long as you’re here, why not enter the GuiltFreeEnergy giveaway? You could win up to $1000 in gift cards!

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

Hawaiian Sweet Bread

hawaiian sweet bread
This is one of my favorite kinds of bread, especially as toast with homemade jam on top! It’s also delicious as french toast.
I use my bread machine to prep the dough, and then bake in the oven so I get a more traditional loaf shape than I get out of my machine.
It also works well to just pile the dough onto parchment paper and bake it as a freeform loaf.
It’s delicious no matter what shape it is!
hawaiian sweet bread loaf in pan

Hawaiian Sweet Bread
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 6 cups bread flour
Instructions
  1. Place all liquid ingredients into bread maker pan
  2. Stir to combine
  3. Add flour on top of liquid, place pan in bread maker
  4. Follow machine directions to add yeast
  5. I only use the machine to make the dough; I finish it in the oven.
  6. This recipe makes 2 loves, so it won't fit in the maker for baking.
  7. Split dough and put into 2 greased pans.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, until lightly browned and it sounds hollow when thumped
  9. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack.
  10. Enjoy!

hawaiian sweet bread texture

Stress relief tips for busy moms #StressLess2BmyBest

Stress Relief Tips for Busy Moms There are things I don’t have to tell you: We’re busy people these days. It doesn’t matter if you work at home or in an office, wrangle kids all day, or wrangle puppies. Heck, I’m pretty sure even independently wealthy socialites with house staffs are busy. With busy-ness comes stress. Even if you love every activity you’re involved in, every job you’re doing, these are things that can and will cause stress in your life and body, and sometimes you just need a little help keeping it all in check. I’ve compiled a little list of some habits I’ve developed to help me manage that everyday build-up of stress, so I’m sharing them with you today. Feel free to use them as a jumping off point for figuring out some of your own management tricks! Have something I missed? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

1. Read a book or magazine

And by “a book” I mean a paper thing, with pages and a spine and ink on those pages. How much time do you spend squinting at a computer or phone screen? As someone who works in social media for both my fulltime (day) job and as a blogger, it’s an awful lot of time. Looking at a screen for long periods of time can cause headaches, eye fatigue, neck strain and more. I try to remedy this by reading books. Not on my phone or ereader, but actual paper ones. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do very little reading tucked into a chair like the photo below. I’m too busy for that kind of dedicated reading time. :) But I *do* have a 45 minute train ride into San Francisco on my office work days. That’s 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to read. And it’s lovely. Getting lost in a book is always good, but doing it with the “old fashioned” kind of book with pages and that luscious paper smell is even better. Rescue stress relief - Reading

2. Take a few minutes for desk yoga

I’m incredibly lucky because my work actually brings in a yoga teacher every so often to lead us through some desk yoga exercises. Taking even fiv minutes out of your day to focus, stretch, and breathe can help you have a better outlook on your day and help keep stress from completely wrecking your body. Here’s a really easy set to do that isn’t going to draw attention to what you’re doing, if you’re self-conscious about yoga-ing in the office, and I love how it feels. First, make sure you’re sitting up straight with both feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be a little higher than your hip bones, and you should feel the bones in your butt holding you up (NOT your tailbone) Sit up straight and breathe; in through your nose, out through your mouth. Now place your fingertips on the vertical plane of your desk, and push the palm of your hand forward. You should feel a nice stretch in your wrist and fingers. You can also go through and stretch each finger individually. While you do this, also pay attention to your feet and your breathing. This especially feels great if you have a lot of mouse-use in your job.

3. Get a good night’s sleep

It’s hard to accomplish much of anything if you don’t have a good foundation to build on, and for your brain and body, that foundation is made of sleep. I know parents often deal with interrupted sleep time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help make your sleep the best possible. For me, falling asleep is the biggest challenge; I’m normally OK once I *fall* asleep, it’s just getting there that’s hard. I often drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed, to help me relax. I also really like using homeopathic products, like RESCUE Sleep Liquid Melts. Add in a comfy pillow and some cozy PJs, and I’m out like a light for the night. Rescue Stress Relief - Sleep

4. Coloring

Did you love coloring when you were a kid? I did. I would color for HOURS. I remember saving my money to go to the drugstore and I bought a huge 24×36 poster of a teddy bear village in a tree, and the whole thing had to be colored in. Well, I’ve recently rediscovered that love of coloring. It’s basically a form of meditation, especially if you choose a repeating pattern to color. I also love that this is something Max and I can do together; he’s been obsessed with tracing lately, so he’ll sit and trace, while I color, and we’ll talk about what’s going on at school and work. (His asking me about work is basically 1. Have we gotten any good new snacks lately? 2. When’s the next office party he can go to so he can eat said snacks?)Rescue Stress Relief - Coloring I’ve made a Pinterest board for you, so you can grab some free printable coloring pages for yourself! There are lots of books on Amazon (Search “mandala coloring” or “advanced coloring book”) Follow Lizz from AmIaFunnyGirl.com’s board Coloring for Stress Relief on Pinterest.whitebox

5. Listen to some music

You might be expecting soothing yoga-esque melodies like this, right? And those are lovely, when you’re doing yoga, or maybe as background when you’re reading/napping. My preferred “relaxing” music is stuff that makes me really happy.

I’m currently obsessed with this Have a Great Day! playlist, curated by Spotify. It perks me up and puts a bounce in my step when I’m walking. (So the music is tip 5a. 5b is to take a walk. Get outside! Enjoy the fresh air!) It’s hard not to let go of what’s bugging you when you’re singing along with The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar” or Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”

I would love to hear your favorite stress relief tunes, so please let me know in the comments!

 6. Homeopathic remedies

I really like using homeopathic options whenever I can, and a recent discovery for me is the awesome collection of RESCUE products. Made from a combination of floral extracts, just like they’ve been making since 1930, RESCUE products are made with Rock Rose for confidence & composure, Impatiens for patience & tolerance, Clematis for focus & motivation, Star of Bethlehem for comfort & reassurance, Cherry Plum for self-control & stability.

I keep the Pastilles in my backpack so they’re available on the go, and the Sleep Liquid Melts are at home for those nights when I am  just too restless to fall asleep. The ingredients in the the Sleep Liquid Melts are designed to help calm repetitive thoughts so you fall asleep naturally and wake refreshed.

Want to learn more about RESCUE? Get a BOGO coupon and sign up for their newsletter right here. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rescue Stress Relief - Products

What are some of your tricks to beat everyday stress?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Rocket engines, smoke, and fire FTW! #NASASocial

My blog, and the accompanying social media, has brought me some incredible experiences in my life. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve visited, things I’ve experienced that I never even thought of doing, I have done.

Live jazz at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, a sister bonding trip to Beaches in Turks & Caicos, driving up the southern California coast to go “glamping” with friends, standing on-stage for a pop punk concert at the Vans Warped Tour. Things I never knew I’d want to do until I was presented the opportunity.

Well this afternoon, I embark on what might be the craziest of these adventures yet. I’m boarding a plane to Salt Lake City, from where I’ll head to Promontory, Utah to witness this:

Photo credit: ATK
The first qualification motor for NASA’s Space Launch System’s booster is installed in ATK’s test stand in Utah and is ready for a March 11 static-fire test. Photo credit: ATK

What?!?!?

I have been invited to join NASA and ATK to see the test firing for the largest, most powerful booster ever built for the Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket in development to enable missions farther into space than ever before.

I will have NASA Social Credentials, and will be live tweeting/Instagramming/Facebooking the whole experience. Of course, it’ll all get a rundown on the blog after I get home, but be sure to follow along later this week to see stuff as it’s happening!

Follow me on Twitter (@Lizz_Porter) and Instagram (@Lizz_Porter) to see everything I post, and follow the #NASASocial and #SLSFiredUp hashtags to see posts from the other 39 social media folks I’ll be touring with.

I would also suggest you follow @NASASocial, @NASA_SLS, and @ATK on Twitter, NASA on Facebook, and on Google+.

3… 2… 1… Let’s go!