Monthly Archives: December 2012

Get Clued In’s Year in Review- 2012

Well, 2012 has certainly been a roller coaster for our family. It was a good blogging year but I honestly have had a rough 2012 and am looking forward to 2013, hoping some of that bad karma from 2012 is gone for good! Wishing you a very happy 2013 as well, and thanks for following along.

This year’s review of Get Clued In is not as diverse or uplifting as the 2011 Top 10 and Year in Review and honestly, is a more mixed bag. Just like the personal roller coaster year our family had, so are the posts.

Here goes:

10. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – a gem of a movie (now on DVD) – as far as movies and movie reviews for the year, this one has special place in my heart. I loved, loved (did I mention LOVED) this movie. It’s a must see for 2012 or any year and remember as Sonny said in the movie, “everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.”

9. They really CAN see you- dangers of Group MMS messaging texts– Wow! Did I learn a lot this year about the dangers of group MMS messaging. I learned how to change the settings which can prevent a lot of heart ache later. Also, this one post did get a lot of traffic this year so I am glad the word is getting out. Get smarter than your “smart” phone. Note: Ironically, as I wrote this Year in Review, someone decided to send me a Group MMS and now I am getting texts from people I do not know. I guess keep passing the message on please.

8. Disneyworld on a Dime? Ahhh, Forget about it!– How could I not share a fabulous trip to Disneyworld we had and the opportunities to share tips. Sure, you can’t do Disney on a Dime but you can do it with some tips. It was a fun trip to Florida for my brother’s wedding and Disneyworld BUT we did manage to bring home the plague– not even kidding. So perhaps you can read the plague post after you read about all the fun we had at Disneyworld.

7. Our School-Moon Trip: get Clued In Heads West to California– Before our daughter started Kindergarten, we took a family trip to California- we had a blast! We saw the Bay Area, San Francisco, and San Jose, and got to hang out on the Beach at Monterey Bay/Carmel. We saw family and friends, and really enjoyed San Francisco.

6. New York, New York! We took a trip for Thanksgiving week to New York. The excuse was a wedding for a relative, but we capitalized and saw New York City, and enjoyed some amazing pizza, pretzels, and felafel. I think I gained 5 lbs on this trip from the wedding food, and all the other libations. Wow! Great trip with the kids and we saw a lot of both sides of our families. Great reunion, and a great time!

5. In an Instant– As I said earlier, this year marked the first time for us, on my side of the family that there were some health issues for both my mom and dad. Postings 4 and 2 below relate to all of this too. It was truly eye opening for all of us on many fronts. First, on the health care front in America – truly scary how bad it could have been without good health insurance but second, and more importantly, it made my brother and I realize that life is fragile. We all realized that the time we have on this earth is limited with friends, family, and loved ones so make it all count.

4. With Mom on Mother’s Day– This year, because of the health issues of my dad and then even my mom, was a bit unusual and instead of spending mother’s day with my kiddos, I got to spend it with my mom. I was there to help after my dad’s heart attack but getting that opportunity to spend time with her was just unique and there is nothing like being with mom.

3. Milestones & Memories- First Day of Kindergarten– This one is near and dear to my heart because all milestones are. Our eldest started Kindergarten. What a journey she has ahead and I guess us too!

2. Because of the Sacrifices they made – As you know this was a rocky year for our family, specifically my parents both had health issues and I thought this post was heartfelt and even reading it now, gives me goose pimples as the tears roll down my cheeks. My favorite quote from the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green holds true as I think about the time we all have with each other on this planet especially our kids and parents: “there are two people in the world who want you more than anything. They will do their best, they’ll make mistakes, and you only get them for a short time, but they will love you more than you can ever imagine.”

AND FINALLY…. (drumroll please)

1. Decision 2012: Why Social Issues Matter – What would 2012 be without a political post or two. So, of course, I’d be remiss to not talk about how President Obama won this election despite all that is going on with the economy. It was a rough campaign and very ugly, and some of the posts I wrote before define it all but in the end, social issues do matter. Here are some other posts on the heated and historical election year: Why do you Vote? and my post after seeing President Obama for the first time ever: Politics 101

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New York, New York!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

No, I am not talking about the casino and hotel in Vegas. I am talking the real deal- NEW YORK CITY- the big apple, shining bright lights in Times Square, Broadway, pizza, pretzels, and the whole shebang. We got to visit New York City for Thanksgiving week this year and 1/2 block from our hotel, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade passed us by.

My husband’s cousin was getting married so we had an excuse to enjoy the city a bit, and spend Turkey day with both sides of both of our families- how extremely unique and cool! If 2012 was about anything, it was family and politics but not mixed up together. Ha! We had a really fun time.

We flew in and out of LaGuardia Airport. I have to say, the airport is perfectly sized and what airport don’t I love that has a Dunkin Donuts inside. I mean come on! We did not do the hop on and hop off. Even though the weather was perfect, with the girls, busing around New York was not our idea of fun. Instead, we walked – and we walked… and we walked. Alot! We took strollers for the girls because hubby and I can walk, and walk, and walk but they can’t walk that much.

For the first part of our trip, we stayed smack dab in the middle of Times Square area, at the Sheraton New York Hotel- really a gem of a hotel. I have to say, and I have written reviews at TripAdvisor and Yelp about the customer service, it was an amazing stay! We were treated like royalty and we had no complaints. I had plenty of other complaints like how rude the Budget Rental Car people were – the one in midtown, 49th Street- DO NOT RENT FROM THEM, but other than that and being taken for some money by a luggage porter, all in all, New York was not so bad. And, despite being denied giant soft drinks by the mayor, the people were not irritable or rude. Oh wait… back to the hotel. If you are starwood preferred, see about getting the suites especially if you are a family traveling together, and club level. Can I just say, wow! Their club level food and drink was amazing, and it is open 24 hours for guests and Club-level members. Breakfast was included at the club level, and appetizers for happy hour. The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers was a great deal for us and I would highly recommend it to you.

Another great thing about this hotel was that we walked 1/2 block to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. We got a good breakfast at the hotel, and then caught an hour of the parade and with kids, if they need to go potty, staying right near by was awesome. It was great and the people all around us at the parade were very nice and let the kids move up towards the barricades to see it. It’s no Mardi Gras but wow! What an experience.

We really enjoyed sightseeing and had great weather for a few days while we were walking around so that helped. We saw the Statue of Liberty and we did (since the monuments and a lot of subway stops were closed down near the water) the Staten Island Ferry which the girls enjoyed and it’s free. You get a great view of lady Liberty. The Ellis and Liberty Island boats have limited hours until they can do some repairs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It may all be open again though. Oh, and the 9/11 Memorial had limited hours and closed exhibits too so check before you venture there. Although, now it may all be operating just fine. We got a good deal from a street vendor near the Empire State Building and avoided all the long lines to go up. What a neat view from atop and with the weather being so perfect, it was actually hot. If you can take the stairs to the final levels instead of the elevator. The elevator lines are always so busy because able-bodied people do not want to take stairs, something I never understand. Obviously, with strollers, it was not possible. We hit FAO Schwarz but after our experience there (kids going nuts), we avoided the giant Toys R Us on Times Square. We would have done this store on the way out (Thanksgiving day) but it was a zoo trying to leave the city after the Macy’s parade. There are M&M and Hershey stores in Times Square too!

Times Square is insane- it reminds me of the Las Vegas strip on steroids. It is very intense and the people are multiplied by 10. Watch where you go and don’t get run over and you know it’s bad traffic, when you can get out of the car, go buy a hot dog and pretzel and return to the car and it’s only moved a few inches. Love it or hate it… New York is not a place to have a car. So, let’s talk about renting a car if you are going to drive into New Jersey, Philadelphia, etc. The best way, of course, is the train. Even the trains were malfunctioning, etc. for Thanksgiving but if you can’t train it to other places, rent a car but my recommendation: Rent it from LGA (La Guardia airport) and not in the city. It is a nightmare to get out of the city and the people are rude especially the Budget Rent-a-Car experience I had, so if you can go to the airport. The thing is, the Midtown locations of all rental car companies get their cars from LGA so avoid the middle man or in my case, two angry women – one Hispanic, one Black made to work on Thanksgiving day. They were rather angry and power-wielding, making people wait, and negotiating prices for higher range vehicles. It was like a bad Seinfeld episode. “They know how to take the reservation, they just don’t know how to hold it.” It’s actually price gauging and quite illegal. I have reported them to the BBB but Budget Corporate actually refunded me the price difference I had to “negotiate” for a larger vehicle just so I could get the heck out of there when they did not have my mid-size car. Let this be a warning to you to try to rent out of the city because the worst part was the traffic to get out – took us 30 minutes to drive 2 miles.

We traveled to New Jersey, Philadelphia to see family and the wedding was in New Rochelle. What a cute town! We really enjoyed New Rochelle but were shocked to see people staying at our hotel who were still, three weeks later, not able to return home due to damage from the Hurricane. Wow! There are two hotels in New Rochelle: Marriott Residence Inn and the Radisson. The Radisson is rated higher but we had a swell time staying at the Marriott and there is free hot breakfast included. The beds could be more comfortable but it was fine overall. New Rochelle is a very cute, quaint town and walking around is fun. We had amazing pizza in New York, just about every night (HA), and in New Rochelle, the pizza was more authentic NY than we had had anywhere else. Great places to eat in this little town. And the Fountainhead, where the wedding was held- Wow! I can honestly the venue, the wedding itself, and all the pre-wedding activities – simply awesome!

All in all, great trip and the kiddos had a blast but they were exhausted and so were we. New York was wonderful and best of all, we saw both sides of our families whilst there, and really had a great experience in the city as well.

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How much is too much social media? This is my story & New Year’s Resolution

I have written about social media as being overwhelming for me. I recently decided that it was time to cut back on social media- way way back.  Blogging? No… heavens no!  Writing is a hobby and I really enjoy blogging and writing but I have made a firm decision based on a myriad of factors, to ween off of facebook, twitter, and even deleted my LinkedIn account.  It was time.  It is not like I am always on it but then when friends and family notice and say “Your head is always down,” you start to wonder how much social media is too much? And yes, sadly this includes E-mail and all forms of social media.

This degree should vary from person to person.  If you are checking facebook and E-mails in the middle of the night, chances are, you are an addict.  When you are posting pictures constantly or updates constantly, you may have a problem.  I love keeping in touch with friends and plan on doing so still but my goal in the first few weeks is facebook twice a week only.  Twitter updates? Not sure on this one since blogging activities are posted there but probably the same rule. I really got over-friend managing social media sites and with the recent privacy issues on facebook, twitter and the like, I am just deciding to start cut some aspects of social media out.  If I can reach the point where I can control it, I may not deactivate my account.  But honestly, I want to live with my head up and not down in a phone.  My eye sight is suffering too because of my back lit Iphone, so it was time.

These days social media is also a place of political postings, often ugly to one side or the other, and I have been guilty of this too.  Twitter and facebook have actually made me angry and by blood pressure shoot up, and worse: I have lost friends over trivial things and miscommunications.  Tone is so tough through social media and E-mail.  I really do not want to have a forum with people I like where arguments ensue.  So, this is another reason to cut back as well.  Plus, does everyone really need to know everything in my life?  Nah…. from time to time, it will be nice to catch up with those I want to catch up with, but hourly has proven to be way too much for me with all the other responsibilities I have in this short day.

I recently had to hide my Iphone or rather, had my kids hide it so if I could not find it, I could not look at it.  It helped a lot. How much do you think is too much?  How do you find that balance? 

So, here goes nothing…. my New Year’s Resolution: to reduce the amount of time I spend on social media outlets.  I will still write and I love writing.  Look for my Blog Top 10 list soon and I will be on E-mail to stay in touch and conduct business but other than that, My resolution is:  Go from “too much” to “just right”… to maybe someday, NONE at all.

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Easy Vegetable Pulao (Rice) or Biryani Dish

Rice Dish ready to eat- in a serving bowl

Pulao or Biryani are terms for an Indian rice dish.  In Punjab, Biryani is prepared differently than where my parents are from: Gujarat, where we call it Pulao.  All in all, rice dishes are central to Indian diets and any variations are fine.  I did not bake mine but one optional variation is to bake it after it cooks on the stove top.  The other option is to cook it in a skillet with no pre-cooking of rice or veggies.  Any variation is fine.

The one we made today was stove top and cooked separately before mixing.  Honestly, it turned out very good so I wanted to share the recipe here, and add in some variations to try as well.  Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment and definitely suggest alternatives if you try something different.

The starting point for my recipe today was a good recipe I found at this website: http://www.archanaskitchen.com/indian-recipes/rice/118-hyderabadi-vegetable-biriyani

Again, it was only a starting point because I tend to do my own thing and I don’t add a lot of the ingredients discussed above.  Ingredients:  Basmati Rice (1 cup), ginger (hubby hates it so I put very little finely cut and sauteed), Onion (I use very little b/c I do not like them but the flavor is priceless), Garlic (2 cloves), Parsley or Cilantro (for garnish) Carrots, Peas & green beans (I use a bag of frozen veggies), 1 potato (thinly sliced and diced), 5 small cauliflower florets, Spinach – fresh leafy (about 10-15 leaves), fresh Tomatoes (1-2), Olive Oil (that’s right folks, I use olive oil not ghee), Clove (about 2-3), Cinnamon sticks (1 large or 2 smaller sticks), turmeric (pinch), Mustard Seed (about 10 or so), red cayenne paper (depends on how spicy you like it- I put a teaspoon), Garam Masala (1 tsp- small), salt & pepper to taste.  OPTIONAL VARIATION:  You can use a pre-mixed Biryani Spice Mix from the Indian store instead of combining all the separate spices/ingredients above.  MORE VARIATIONS: You can add in green chili paste, “imlee” paste (For a darker color), and/or fresh green chiles.  We do not like it too spicy so we keep ours mild.

First, go ahead and wash and rinse 1 cup of the Basmati rice and boil it for about 4 minutes in olive oil and salt.  Keep it crunchy.  OPTIONAL VARIATION:  You can cook the basmati rice in veggie broth to give your Pulao or Biryani some flavor but not necessary if you have all the spices above.  Set the semi-cooked rice aside and off the heat to prevent overcooking.

Now, chop all veggies you’d like in your vegetarian Pulao or Biryani (except the Spinach – do not boil this yet), and boil them to where they are not soft or cooked but al dente (so to speak).

All is mixed and ready to simmer

Third, go ahead and start your skillet or large enough stove top pan with a tablespoon of olive oil/corn oil etc… while on medium to low heat, add in onions, garlic cloves (minced or crushed or however you like it), with tomato paste, or tomatoes (I used 2 fresh tomatoes- chopped), cinnamon sticks, mustard seeds, turmeric, and garam masala.  Try to brown the onions slightly and then throw in the semi-cooked veggies first with warm/boiling water; let it simmer with the spice mix for 2 mins or so on medium heat.  Then, add in the semi-cooked rice.  Make sure all your ingredients are in now… add the Spinach in last with any remaining salt, pepper, or spices.  You can add the parsley or cilantro at this time too. Stir it all up, and let it simmer at MEDIUM TO LOW heat, covered for about 15 minutes.  A lid with a small hole in it is the best for rice but it is fine to be covered too.

Vegetable Pulao or Biryani

Check to see if the water is gone- all water should be gone and not visible.  It should look like a rice dish. Remove from heat, garnish further if you need and then serve.  You can see the finished the dish to the left here.  Another VARIATION:  You can not cook the rice or veggies at all and then put it all together as described above but then you will need more water.  If you pre-cooked, use less water.  I felt I used too much water and took too long.  If you are going to bake it after this, put it in a dish and bake further for crispier texture.

Enjoy- you can garnish with yogurt, or raita and add mixed pickle to taste as well.

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Treat Cards to the Rescue- Giveaway & More

My favorite Holiday Card

From the same great people who brought us TinyPrints, Shutterfly, and Wedding Paper Divas, comes…. Treat!  Treat is a website where you can make, personalize, and send (yes, they mail it for you) a greeting card from your home, office, etc., and seamlessly send it anywhere around the world.  With a few clicks, you can rest easy about that birthday you forgot, or that special occasion, and they have a holiday card section too!   You can send New Year’s cards, Hanukkah, Christmas, and yes, they have Diwali cards too.  Yes folks, Treat has a card for just about any occasion or holiday you can think of. Please note: Order your Christmas cards by December 18 if you want them to arrive in time for Christmas.

My favorite card- Diwali

Check out this “Treat Cards to the Rescue” video on Treat and head on over to Treat to check out their card possibilities and pricing and don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win 10 free cards to try out Treat.

Sample Treat Birthday Card- just for fun!

 

 

 

If you would like to try to win 10 cards first, please enter the giveaway below and follow the guidelines for mandatory entry all the way to optional ones.  In the meantime, Happy Holidays and don’t forget to check out Treat!

GIVEAWAY:  Runs Dec 8-Dec 15; Winner Announced Dec 15.  

If you win, please create an account on Treat.com prior to December 16, because the way to get your 10 free cards is through your account information – your account will be credited with 10 free cards.

(1) Mandatory Entry (limit 1 entry per person):  Leave a comment and include what your favorite design is from the Holiday collection or any other collection on Treat.

(2) Optional Entries (leave a separate comment for each one you do – tweet limited to one per day, and all others limited to ONCE for each one during entire contest period):

(a) Tweet the following (Limit: once per day) and then leave in a comment the link to your tweet and your twitter handle.  Treat Cards to the Rescue! Check out Treat.com and enter giveaway to win 10 free cards: http://wp.me/p1dnfM-Q1 via @getcluedin

(b) Do the following – leave a separate comment for each one done:

Follow @getcluedin on twitter (note: you will request to Follow @getcluedin and I will confirm because @getcluedin is protected on twitter)

Like Get Clued In’s page on facebook

Subscribe to Get Clued In! (this blog) via one OR MORE of the methods listed: RSS, Emails, or through Networked blogs on facebook (If you do more than one, you get ONE comment PER METHOD – that is up to 3 COMMENTS for this option)

Promote this post in some other way- linkedin, pinterest, etc. (Leave a comment for each promotion, and put the link in the comment).  Once per social media method used- leave a comment. 

(c) Do any of the following for TreatCards and indicate in the comments (1 entry per item done – leave a separate comment for each): 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TreatCards

Twitter: http://twitter.com/treatcards

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/treatcards/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/117542183382899885395/

Contest will run from posting through December 15, 2012 10 am Mountain Standard Time- Winner Selected and Chosen using “And the Winner Is” plug-in and announced here and notified via Email.  You need a Treat Account for the credits to be applied.

And the winner in….. (used the plug in AND THE WINNER IS)

Your Winner

(confirmed)

Author: Cara Scott (Email removed for privacy)
Website: http://www.lakewoodco.macaronikid.com
Comment: permalink
I love the Very Merry Christmas cards, in fact I really like a lot of them, they are all so fun and festive!!

Disclaimer: Get Clued In was paid 10 free cards for this posting by Treat through Global Influence’s campaign.  All opinions contained here in are Get Clued In’s and not Global Influence or Treat’s.  Get Clued In’s general and specific disclaimers apply in addition to the above and Get Clued In is not responsible for contents on third party sites like Global Influence or Treat, or any of its affiliate companies.

 

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