Twice Baked Potatoes

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Instead of getting tired of eating leftovers, change them into a freezer meal!

I ended up with lots of baked potatoes after a church lunch.  I like eating baked potatoes with melted butter, or with bacon and cheddar.  But I wanted to make something a bit more special.  Something that I didn’t have to eat right away.

Freezer meals are completely prepared dinners that you simply thaw and serve later.  Watch this video to learn how to change baked potatoes into fancy Twice Baked Potatoes for your freezer!

What would you put in your twice baked potatoes?

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Restaurant #1: A Pleasant Surprise

lentil soup at restaurant #1

We don’t have a map or a chart or a plan yet.  How will we dine at every restaurant in our town?

Although I am a planner, it was dinnertime and we decided to just jump into our cuisine quest at a nearby restaurant we had never tried before.

Tucked in a strip mall between a UPS store and vitamin market, this “Indian & Nepalese Food” restaurant used to be a Hawaiian shaved ice counter.  So, that is what we expected, just with more curry.

We can still get delicious Hawaiian shaved ice, but we have to drive a lot further.

We can still get delicious Hawaiian shaved ice, but we have to drive a lot further.

I did not expect this new restaurant to have a fancy interior, with intimate lighting and red and gold accents.  I did not expect cloth napkins.  I did not expect the place to be triple the size of the previous shaved ice restaurant.

Lentil soup for everyone.

Lentil soup for everyone.

Homestyle Nepalese entrees.  Classic Indian dishes.  Great service.  Delicious, if a bit spicy, food.  Large quantities.

I should have written down what these dishes are called.  Chicken with vegetables in a sauce. Served with naan bread or steamed rice.  Yummy!

I should have written down what these dishes are called.  Chicken with vegetables in a sauce. Served with naan bread or steamed rice.  Yummy!

The best part, live performances!

The best part, live performances!

two forks up

Would we return?  Two forks up!

Are there any restaurants in your town that have been completely transformed (for the better, or for the worse)?

Do It Yourself with Animoto

Do what yourself?

Create professional video for your business advertising needs!

Animoto is a subscription site that has hundreds of templates for use in communicating through video.  

Follow along while I create a 60 second video for a leadership class outing.

As a first step, decide, "What kind of video do you want to create? Slideshow Video or Marketing Video?"

I chose Marketing.

Choose from a pre-built storyboard.  Animoto has the storyboard templates in categories.  The broad categories are "Popular", "Attract an audience", "Share a product or service", and "Tell your company's story."  I chose the last one.

Under "Tell your company's story" there are 10 more subcategories:  School Newsletter, Behind the Scenes, About Us, Product Story, Milestone Celebration, Non-profit Campaign, Social Fundraising Ad, Business Story, Company Overview, Agent Testimonial.

I chose School Newsletter.  Watch the sample storyboard:

The School Newsletter is a 20 second storyboard with three photos, two videos, text, royalty-free music, and no voiceover.

  1. Opening photo with text
  2. Video with text
  3. Split screen photo with text
  4. Photo with text
  5. Text
  6. Video with text
  7. Closing text

It's pretty good, isn't it?!

My goal is to create a 60 second video about a field trip day for my chamber of commerce leadership class.  We visited four businesses in our town.  The video will be shown in class on a large TV.

Let's start modifying.  I'll work my way down the menu on the left side column.

Media

I upload 13 photos and 4 videos.  That is too many photos for a 60 second video about 4 businesses, but it is easier to play with my options with every good picture already uploaded.

Ratio

I can easily make a 1:1 Facebook video, and I may do that later.  But since the video will be shown in class on a large TV, I will choose 16:9.

Design

Here I can change the text box color and background color and font.  The chamber of commerce has set colors for their marketing.  I'm not doing this to market for them, but since it is a chamber activity, I will change the colors to their colors.  Easy!

Filters

Black & white, cool, warm, denim, fade, darken.  I don't use any of these filters.

Music

Animoto has over 2000 royalty-free songs for you to choose from.  I will do this at the end.

Add a Block

It is easy to add a new block for my content:  photo, text, video, collage, or logo.

It takes me about 1 hour to play around and get my video the way I want it.  The music that Animoto automatically put in place is fine, so I keep it.

Here is my final video!

Who's on First?

At a recent weekly business meeting the speaker was explaining the confusing alphabet soup that is Medicare plans.  

Although I am not close to qualifying for Medicare, I listened politely, because that's what we do.

After one particularly convoluted explanation, someone in the audience muttered, "Who's on first?"

Who’s on first?

We all laughed.

Then I started wondering.... Does the younger generation get that reference?

It comes from a 1930 comedy routine in which Bud Abbott tells Lou Costello about a baseball team.  You have to watch it to understand.

"I don't know... Third Base!"

Funny!

  • The point is that Medicare is as confusing as Abbott and Costello.
  • The point is, do younger people know about this old black and white comedy routine?

Here's an updated version from 2012.

"Who? What? Yes?"

Funny!

Square Video Wins at Facebook

What shape of video should I use to advertise on Facebook?

The wise people at Buffer Social did research, and found that square videos outperformed landscape videos in engagement, views, and reach. 

For a video girl, this is hard to take.  I want widescreen!

Fortunately, widescreen is still good on YouTube.

For best engagement, here is what Facebook likes - square video.

But please, don't shoot video on your cell phone in portrait, like this!  It looks terrible, and cuts the action off!  It's bad enough the camera runs all over the place to begin with.  Let the audience see what is going on!

The Restaurant Rut

The Cuisine Quest begins......

sweet tomatoes souplantation salads soups bakery

My husband and I are in a restaurant rut.  We are trapped in a if/then feedback loop.

  • If we want tacos, then we go to Rubios Fish Tacos.
  • If we want salad, then we go to Souplantation.
  • If we want a burger, then we go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

We do have our favorite independent restaurants.  But they are also part of the rut.

It’s time to make a change!

But how?  What will keep us from falling back into old habits?

We will eat once at every single restaurant in town!

city limits sign

Our suburban city is 9 square miles of rolling hills, population 57,100.  Two interstate freeway traverse the city, with one high school, one large shopping mall, many strip malls, an older revitalized downtown, 12 parks, a civic center, and an active parks and rec program.

How do we find all the restaurants in our town?  Our town borders other towns seamlessly, so that most residents don’t know where one city ends and the next one starts.

yellow pages logo

In the old days, I would have simply looked in the restaurant section of the Yellow Pages.  Every restaurant would have been listed by city.  Easy!  But what about now?

Restaurants are businesses.  So, each would have a business license on file with the city.  According to our city website, I could get a list of all the restaurants with business licence for 50 cents each.  So, if there are 100 restaurants, that would cost me $50.  No, thank you!

typical city hall building
google maps logo

Google Maps has a search function.  I type in my city, then click NEARBY, then Restaurants.  It gives me 20 restaurants at a time, with a short description, and pins them on the map.  Total number of restaurants – 141!  But wait; some of those are nearby, and not in my town. I’ll have to cross check with the actual address.  Very tedious.

It turns out that the Yellow Pages has developed a partnership with Yelp, the online crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses.  In the search boxes, I can only find restaurants near my city, not only in my city.  But with Yelp, the address is in the search results, so I can easily pick out the correct restaurants.  At the top right, Yelp writes “Showing 1-10 of 1458”.  There cannot possibly be 1458 restaurants in my city! Or even near my city.

How do we refine our restaurant list?

yelp logo
mcdonald's logo

A lot of chain restaurants are on the Google Maps and Yelp list.  For our quest, we will ignore chain restaurants.  But when is a restaurant a chain?  Here is a good discussion about what makes a restaurant a chain.  For our purposes, if there are 5 or more of the same restaurant, we will not count it.

What about bars and pubs?  I’m not interested in hanging out at some dingy bar that happens to serve tater tots.  Not that there are any dingy bars in my town.  But, just in case, we will not include anyplace that is only over 21.

cocktails sign in neon
starbucks logo

And coffee shops?  I would not count Starbucks as a restaurant, but we have several independent coffee shops with breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.  If the coffee shop has made to order items, not just reheat the stuff in the display case, then we will count it.

How do we rate the restaurants we visit?

We are going to be simple here.  Would we return?  Forks up, or forks down.

How do we keep track of the restaurants we have visited, and have yet to visit?

We are map people.  We are chart and list lovers.  Stay tuned for details on how we corral that Yelp and Google Maps list into something manageable.

Any advice?

cute girls whispering secrets

Chemistry is Hard

Learn Something New with online video courses!  Share Your Passion by creating online video courses!

Passing chemistry is possible, but it is not easy!

  • You take notes in class.
  • You do the homework.
  • You ask questions.
  • You go to your professor's office hours.

It simply takes lots of time working many chemistry problems.  Here is a sample video tutorial.  Use this to help you with your next dimensional anaylysis problem.

How Often Should I Post Video on my Facebook Business Page?

facebook video image

How often should I post new video on my Facebook business page?

The bloggers say it depends.  On audience preferences, audience demographics, the size of your following, the type of your business.

The bloggers say to look at your data, look at your demographic.

The bloggers say to look at a business similar to yours, and to copy them. 

Let’s try that.

The directions by Sophia Dagnon in agora pulse are for your own business.  But let’s extend that to a type of business for which you don’t have Facebook Insights access.

Take Payment Processing.  Put Payment Processing Business in the search bar, and click Pages.  You want the business page to see how often they post video.  I’m comparing local companies, so I click that Category to the left.

screenshot of facebook search results payment processing business

How are they listed?  Who is listed first?  We won’t delve into the ever-changing mysteries of Facebook ranking here.

screenshot facebook search results

We have a range of number of likes, and star rating.  For brevity, let’s look at the first four on the ranking.

Total-Apps Advanced Payment Processing Solutions hasn’t posted anything for over 30 days for their 2K followers. Five videos, the most recent posted over 1 year ago.

Processing Point Inc hasn’t posted anything for over 3 months for their 311 followers.  No videos.

Elite Payment Processing hasn’t posted anything for over 2 months for their 1.5K followers.  No videos.

Central Payment Processing hasn’t posted anything for over 2 months for their 74 followers.  No videos.

Limited Conclusion:  Payment Processing businesses are not using video at all.

If you are a payment processor, should you invest in video for Facebook?

Yes.  The people who like these business pages are people who use their services already.  You want to drive new business to your company.  Invest in quality video, pay to boost it, and you will get people talking and sharing your video. 

We are still left with our first question:  How often should I post new video on my Facebook page?

Once a week.  We will have to do what the bloggers say, and rely on data.  Post one video, and see how many views and shares and likes and subscribers you get.  Next week, post another video and check results.  Third week, repost the first video.  By the fourth week, you will know if once a week works, or if it is annoying.  By the fourth week, you will know if any sales have happened, and can adjust accordingly.

Is that too much?  Is that overwhelming?  Then just post one quality video, and pay to boost the same video once a month.

Sometimes we just have to get our toes wet before jumping in.  Do one video.  Put one video out.  Don't worry if it isn't perfect.  If we wait for everything to be perfect, nothing will ever get done. 

If we wait for everything to be perfect, nothing will ever get done.
— Tonya Lehman, @JoyLabLearning