Small Wins Equal Big Change

So if you remember, a couple of weeks ago, I posted about how much I love the service Betterment. Last week I decided to activate my Acorns account. It is still early to compare the two, but I am impressed by both of them. Mainly it is because once I set it up, I basically didn’t have to do anything other than sit back and relax.

The concept being used here is similar to Shawn Achor’s 20 Second principle from the Happiness Advantage. In this principle, you are setting things up in advance that will help to make good habits easier. The idea is that if you have to exert more than 20 seconds of energy to do something, you won’t do it. So make it easier on yourself to get started by using automation. In my above example, I have automated building a nest egg through the two micro investing services. Both invest my funds for me and rebalance when needed. I have Betterment set up to deposit every payday. My acorns account monitors my credit cards and bank account to deposit the rounded up change from all my transactions and invest every $5 it collects. This past week, it deposited over $12 from the rounded up change on my purchases. By not having to think about it, I am able to build a good savings habit to help protect my finances for those rainy days.

Another way to save money is using grocery lists when shopping. This is another way that I automate things to make it easier. I have an Amazon Alexa Dot right in my kitchen. When we are either out of something or running low, I just tell Alexa to add it to the grocery list. Then when I am in the store, I just pull up my list. This helps to curb the impulse buy instinct when you can’t remember what you need from the store. I keep saying that I wish I had an Alexa for my car so I could add things while driving, and I just found out that my husband’s car has Alexa built into it…hmmm…the possibilities.

The 20 second principle can also be applied to your time management. I plan out my work outfits the night before by using Alexa to check the weather for the next day. Then I pull the items I plan on wearing and hang them on my mirror. This way I am not rushing in the morning to find something to wear. In the morning, I set a timer on Alexa so I know when I need to start hustling with my hair or makeup. This gives me time to make my lunch and my coffee…again, ways to save some cash.

So what can you do to help build happy healthy habits to keep you on track? Have you used the 20 second principle?


Hack your Kitchen: Cooking Bacon

My family loves bacon, but I don’t love frying it. Honestly, I need to stay far far away from a frying pan for my own safety as well for the safety of others. So I was so thankful to find this hack on how to cook it not only because it avoids the frying pan, but also because I can cook more and faster. The trick is to use your oven instead of the stovetop.


  • Baking sheet
  • Tongs
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper towels
  • Plate
  • Knife


  • Bacon


  1. Preheat your oven to 410.
  2. Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Next, layer your bacon strips on top of the aluminum. I like to cut my slab of bacon in half because it makes the strips more manageable.
  4. Place in oven for ten minutes. Depending on how crispy you like your bacon, you might need to add some more minutes, but be careful not to burn. I like my bacon extra crispy, so usually add three more minutes. My husband and son prefer theirs at the ten minute mark. –I am out numbered!
  5. Using tongs, transfer your bacon to a paper towel layered plate and cover with more paper. This will help soak up the grease.
  6. Enjoy!

Happiness and Cake

Did you know that March 20th is the International Day of Happiness? What makes it even doubly happy for me is that I will be defending my dissertation proposal. So fingers crossed!

Maybe because Happiness Day falls in March, but many refer to the month as Mindful March or Happiness Month. So for this month, I will be talking a lot about happiness. Happiness and creativity often go hand in hand. Last night was my first night without any homework, dissertation work, group work, or class meetings for a couple of weeks now…yes, it has been rough so far which is why this site has been empty of any updates. However, I left work in an awesome mood and I had energy last night, so I decided to put some everyday creativity to work. I baked!

Okay, so it might not look like much, but this Pineapple Upside Down Cake was the first one I ever tried to make and it was so yummy. I brought some with me to work today for lunch and it was even better the next day. I can’t wait until dinner tonight because I can have some more for dessert. Yum!

If you would like to make your own, here is what I did:


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can pineapple rings (keep the juice!)
  • 1 can pitted cherries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs



  1. Pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. Drain your pineapple juice from the can into a measuring cup. You should get about 1 cup, but if not, add enough water to equal 1 cup.
  3. Dump your pineapple juice, oil, and eggs in the mixer. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add your cake mix, mix on medium speed for about 2min. Set Aside.
  5. Take your 13×9 pan and coat the bottom with the melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the butter evenly over the pan.
  7. Place your pineapple rings evenly over the bottom of the pan, on top of the butter/brown sugar combo.
  8. Place your cherries in any open spaces left on the bottom of your pan.
  9. Next, dump your cake batter evenly on top of the fruit.
  10. Bake for 45-50 min. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. If the toothpick, when poked in the middle, does not come out clean, put your cake in the oven for a few more minutes. Be careful not to burn the cake!
  11. Take out of the oven and let cool.
  12. Take a spatula and loosen the edges of the cake from the pan.
  13. Place parchment paper on top of the cake with a baking sheet on top of that and flip your cake pan so the cake is now upside down on the baking sheet.
  14. Enjoy!

Seriously, how can you not be happy when you have such a sweet dessert as a treat?

Investing with Betterment

I will start off by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I am a user of this service and like it so much, I thought I would tell you all about it.

Back in June, our family experienced some setbacks with my husband spending some time in and out of the hospital. This was not something new as he had been experiencing health problems for a long time, but could never really get some answers. This time was different because it was so severe. He started seeing specialists and finally got answers and we are working on this being our new reality, but one of the side effects of his health issues is that he experiences a lot of ” brain fog”. One of the shockers was to discover that he thought he had paid bills in June only to discover that for whatever reason, ever single one of our household bills with the exception of the rent had not been paid. So I ended up taking over the bills.

One of the things that had interested me for a while was micro-investing. However, we always held off with the thought of “let’s pay off the credit cards first.” Which meant it never happened. So one of the things I set up when I took over the bills was to research the different micro-investing services. I liked what people were saying about the service Betterment. So I thought I would try it out and see how it worked.

I started off with one account and $20. Within a matter of weeks, I had already gained more in my account than my son’s savings account had earned in three years with 10x that deposited. This looked like a good sign. So I deposited $50 and things were still looking good. So I set up a joint account with my husband that would have $20 automatically taken out every payday. I figured this was a good place to start because $20 is not large enough that we would drastically miss it. My plan was that as I rebuilt our finances and got everything back on track, I would adjust the deposits to be higher. Last week, I adjusted my account to start taking $50 out of each paycheck. I am projected to have over $1200 in my account at the end of the year and almost $90k in 30 years. Which is a nice emergency fund or even holiday money. Though my plan is not to touch it for a couple of years to start building up a nice nest egg.

Since I started investing back in September, I have deposited over $300 and made about $7. While this may not seem like a lot, it is more than I would have earned from depositing the same money in the bank and it is not money I am really missing since I have been taking a little out at a time. What is nice about using the Betterment service is that I can cancel deposits before they are made, withdrawal money when needed, and they will automatically adjust my investments if it seems like they are no longer working for me.

Now there is risk involved with investing. The market could have some bad days which means your investment could drop. I have had that happen, but it did not reach the point where it touched any of my initial deposits. So it did not make me nervous. Then about two weeks ago, the market started drastically dropping. It started dropping to the point that I lost all my gained interest and it started to dip into the investment deposits. That made me really nervous and I was considering cancelling my upcoming deposit until things got better. My husband actually encouraged me to hold steady and I am happy to say that things are already bouncing back. In a span of three days last week, we made back about $5 in what had been lost. So if you plan to use one of these services, be patient and hold steady.

What is also nice about Betterment is that it is based on goals. You set what your goal is for investing (like a nest egg, paying off college, house, etc); you set the risk you want to take on your investments; and you set the amount you want your goal to be and in what timeframe. The service will tell you recommendations based on the info you provide. For example, if you want to reach a goal of $15,000 in 3 years, it might recommend making a $100 deposit every week depending on the risk you set. Investments are a mix of stocks and bonds. Bonds are better for the long term investments. When the market started dropping, I admit that I did adjust my allocations to be more conservative than they previously were set at.

Betterment is not a free service and there can be tax implications depending on what you invest and withdrawal. So far, it has only cost me $.10 to use the service. They also have programs where you can refer a friend and gain free management. For example, if your friend signs up, you get one month free management and they get three months free management. Refer three friends and you get free management for the year. Not a bad offer!

You do have the option to have automatic “smart” withdrawals taken out of your bank account. These are deposits to betterment that use an algorithm to decide the amount based on your spending patterns. Right now, I don’t think my spending patterns are stable enough to turn it on, but it is a neat feature. It makes it easy to save when you don’t have to think about it. For right now, I will keep up with my investing for the next year. Perhaps next year, I will post an update on how it is doing. For now though, I am happy.

Does anyone have a favorite tip that they use for saving money or a service you recommend for investing? Share it as a comment!

Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment



Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.


This is what mine looks like:


I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:


There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.



Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.


I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…


Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?