Friday, December 31, 2010

the Year in Review

Wow! What a year! Where has the time gone? I really can't believe that 2010 is over. I decided to do a year in review just because it seemed to be the thing to do in blog land:o) As I started looking at what all we had accomplished as a family, I realized that we have been busy making this house a home. We have really made this place our own and finally feel at home and not just living in a house

I am sharing links of each of my favorite projects for the year of 2010.

So here goes......













And there you have it. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been fun. I do plan on making some changes for this blog for the following year. Stayed tuned to see what happens. 
I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and please be safe.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Everywhere...

 This was our house Christmas morning. I have never seen a White Christmas in the deep south before(been here almost 10 years)...and it was GREAT! The only problem was that we didn't get to enjoy it for very long because we had to make our way to my parents' house before the snow got too bad.
 Isn't it beautiful?
 This is the view off the side of our house. Before too long, that area behind the trees will be filled with houses. For now, we can still enjoy the view:o)
The snow is melting now, and I am in the process of breaking down all the Christmas decorations. I am really not into it, but I reeeeeeally want it all down....can I hire one of you to come do it for me:o)
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. We surely did!!
Hoping to get my craft on here in the next few house is starting to look NEKKED!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our favorite Docs things - 2010 Year in Review

[Cross-posted from the Google Docs Blog]

We’ve been keeping busy this year with over 85 new enhancements to Google Docs and Google Sites, making it possible for you to work, communicate and collaborate entirely in the cloud. We wanted to take a moment to share a few of the most exciting enhancements from 2010 that are making it easier for you to go “100% web.”

In addition to some of the most requested favorite features like mobile editing, OCR, advanced sorting rules and a more consistent look, here are more of our team’s favorite things from this last year:
We look forward to bringing you more improvements next year. Let us know what is at the top of your Google Docs and Sites wish list in the comments.

On behalf of the entire the Google Docs and Google Sites teams, happy holidays! We’ll see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Enhance your productivity with more applications for Google Apps

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Last month we launched an improvement that makes more than 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. Since the launch, we’ve featured posts from product teams across Google to showcase how you can benefit from the new services.

Our colleagues working on Google Reader, Google Alerts, Google News, and Google Finance described how their products give you new ways to discover content on the web. The Blogger and YouTube teams shared how their services can be used to connect with your customers and communicate information about your products and brand. We also featured posts from the Google Analytics, Google Website Optimizer, Google Custom Search, and Google Translator Toolkit teams to highligh tools that help your company build and optimize your web property. Posts from Google AdWords and Google Places showed how you can make it easier for potential customers to discover your business when they are searching online, and a post from Google Checkout described how you can let visitors purchase products from your site once they arrive. And if your business isn’t built around an online transaction model, the Google AdSense and DoubleClick for Publishers teams outlined tools that you can use to efficiently monetize traffic to your website. We also featured posts on Picasa Web Albums and Google SketchUp & 3D Warehouse that highlighted use cases for sharing and editing photos and 3D images at your organization. Finally, posts from Google Voice and Google Chrome Sync featured products that leverage the power of the web to allow you to work seamlessly across multiple devices, so you’re not tied to your desk phone or desktop PC to be productive.

This series has highlighted a few ways that you can use these additional Google applications, and we’re confident that you will discover many new and interesting use cases that fit your business. You can explore even more exciting Google services now available with your Google Apps account at

All of these new services can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at[] (replace [] with your actual domain name). Your domain administrator can grant different groups of users access to different sets of applications, so your company can get up and running today with more than 60 productivity-boosting applications matched to those users that will benefit from them most.

Note: Some products may not be available in all areas.

Tips for creating a free business listing in Google Places: business types

Are you curious about what kind of businesses are eligible to appear in the free listings that appear on Google and Google Maps? In this second post in our blog series about how to create a clear and effective business listing via Google Places, we’ll help you to determine if Google Places is right for your business.

Business types and models that work with Google Places

Google Places is meant to facilitate customer interaction with brick-and-mortar businesses and service providers. Therefore, the business owner or employee who is officially authorized to represent their particular business location must have a physical address in order to comply with our quality guidelines.

Having a physical address means that your business has a specific location (typically including a street name and a street number), can be visited by potential customers or business partners, and has a specific phone number at that location where you can be reached during operating hours. Including your physical address in your free business listing helps customers figure out where they can find you.

Examples of business listings displayed on Google Maps

Businesses that aren’t right for Google Places

Here are a few examples of business types that are not currently eligible to use Google Places:
  • Web shops that operate exclusively online and have no office for visitor traffic or direct client interaction
  • Businesses without actual physical locations (your living room, the airfield where you offer paragliding lessons, nor the river where your rafting tours start do not qualify as business locations)
  • Companies with non-permanent locations like a farmers market stall, a mobile hot dog vendor, or a one-time concert event at a local cafĂ©
  • Real estate companies that don’t have a central office and are trying to advertise individual apartments where no one can be reached in person or by phone
For operations like these, rather than appearing in Google and Google Maps search results associated with a physical location, other online tools might better fit your needs. One option is to advertise and generate awareness about your business activities through Google AdWords. This cost-effective program enables you to get the word out about your business, website or event via online ad campaigns, and does not require you to have a brick-and-mortar business address.

How to create a free listing if you’re eligible

If you’re a business with a physical office location that is open to customers and staffed both in person and via phone during regular business hours, we encourage you to create a free listing by signing in to Google Places here. For example, a real estate company with a corporate office can add the services it offers, the apartments it sells, and so on in the description field of the listing.

Be careful to create just one listing per physical location and to create listings only at places where your business is actually located. For example, if you run a DJ service and your office is at 41 Broadway in New York, you should only add that location in Google Places, even if you also DJ at 32 Main Street and at 14 Smith Street.

How to indicate service areas

For businesses that have one physical location but also offer their services elsewhere - such as the aforementioned businesses as well as locksmiths, translation services, delivery pizzerias, cleaning services and the like - you can use the Service Areas feature in your Google Places account. Marking a service area enables you to show your potential customers the range of places where you work.

Businesses that require travel to meet customers can define a radius around their main location or select specific areas they serve. If your main location is your home address and only used to receive business-related mail and phone calls, you can also hide that address and only show the service area in which you operate. This might be the case for babysitters, DJs, household services or IT repair services. Detailed instructions about how to set up this feature can be found in our help center.

Taxi and courier companies are particularly good examples for the use of the Service Areas feature. They offer a service that is location-independent and therefore shouldn't be associated with fixed locations on Google Maps. Even if you can find taxis often in front of train stations or airports, these are not locations owned by the business. The service area feature allows taxis to indicate the area in which they operate. If the taxis are coordinated over a dispatch centre, that can be listed as one physical location, otherwise the address should be hidden.

How to verify a listing

In order for your free business listing to appear on Google and Google Maps, you must verify your business via Google Places. This simple process includes providing a verification code by mail, automated call or text message. The phone number used for this process will be shown in your listing, so be sure that the number directs calls to your business.

We hope this information helps to explain our Google Places quality guidelines around setting up a free business listing. If you have any further questions about the types of businesses that are eligible for inclusion in Google Places, please visit our Google Places help forum.

Posted by Lina Paczensky, Local Search Quality

Monday, December 20, 2010

Display advertising helps one small business minimize India’s education gap

Dinesh Mehta and Rajat Verma had always been aware of inequities in India’s educational system. As the gap widened, Mehta and Verma wondered how they could use technology to provide higher quality education to more people. In 2006, they founded to provide technology enabled educational and training solutions for a wider population.

TopChalks works with some of India’s best instructors to develop and produce educational content for digital platforms. ‘With TopChalks content, students have the option to study online, with CDs, through handheld devices or on digital broadcast platforms such as digital cable TV,’ says Director of Products and Engineering Vishal Chadhuary.

TopChalks ambassador Javgal Srinath (Indian Cricketer)

Since TopChalks seeks to democratize education largely via digital content, Chadhaury turned to the Google Display Network to market the educational experience. ‘Our products are very unique in nature,’ says Chadhuary. ‘Once we show potential customers what we are offering, they better understand our products. All our ads have a demo button which leads to an actual product demo.’

To ensure he’s seeing positive results from his display ads, Chadhuary pays close attention to the performance of the ads across the Display Network. ‘We keep a close eye on which sites to exclude or add as managed placements,’ says Chadhuary. ‘When we see a site with a stronger clickthrough rate, for example, we might add this site as a managed placement.’

Chadhuary also monitors the effectiveness of his display ads by testing multiple formats for each ad. He then tracks the clickthrough rate of each ad and either pauses the poorer performing ads or edits them to mimic the well performing ads.

TopChalks ambassador Javgal Srinath (Indian Cricketer)

Chadhuary’s diligence with the Google Display Network proves that small businesses can use display advertising to generate new business. ‘Now we get well over half of our leads from ads on the Google Display Network,’ says Chadhuary. ‘There are numerous education websites with great content and millions of users. Showing relevant ads there generates good quality leads for us.’

Mehta, Verma, and Chadhuary’s vision to impact India’s education is spreading with rapid success. With the help of display ads, they are able to clearly communicate and actually show customers what they can achieve with TopChalk’s help. ‘With India growing at a rate that it is, we believe that such growth cannot be sustained and will not be meaningful unless we think out of the box and educate the masses,’ says Chadhuary. ‘Every person in the company is driven by this vision.’

Posted by Julian Sonego, Marketing Manager, Google Display Network

Some Teachers' Gifts and A Weekend Holiday Tour

What a whirlwind weekend we had! I hope that you all had a great one. I'm sure several of you were attending last minute holiday parties and finishing your shopping. I FINALLY got my shopping done. Now, all we have to do this week is sit back and relax. The hubs is off work for the next two weeks. Life is grand:o)
Here's a quick overview of the gifts that I gave E's teachers at preschool.

I started with these fleece blankets from Walmart. They were $3 for the set. Not bad, eh?
Since they were already rolled up, I tied a ribbon around each of the blankets.

 I also found these mugs at Walmart. They were $2 a piece.
 I cut out some vinyl with my Cricut and applied it to each of the mugs. I love the first one...the initials are "M.E." How funny! Inside of the mugs I put a pack of hot cocoa, red crinkle filler and dipped white chocolate marshmallows. 
 I got these acrylic trays from my neighbor. She has started a little vinyl applique side business. She had a few extras left over, so I bought them off of her. I love these trays. I think they turned out so pretty!
 I also added peppermint cupcake jars in with the other goodies. Let me just say that those were DIVINE! They were so delicious. These gifts were such a huge hit with all the teachers. They were so excited.
 In other news....we had our 2nd annual Holiday Walk in the neighborhood this past weekend. There were 8 houses on the tour and ours was on it. I have pics to share of our house. Some will be repeats from an earlier post...please humor me:o)
For the previous post (and better shots of my living room tree) go Here
Our Master Bedroom:
just a little side note...I am fully aware NOW that almost all of our trees are frustrating!!:o)

 Dining Room

 Love these napkin rings from Pottery Barn!!!

 E's Room

 Space themed tree...I was a little disappointed in this tree. After Christmas I am going on a hunt for 2 white trees. One for the Hubs' office and one for E's room. All the ornaments on this tree are dark and they blend in with the green of the tree. Maybe I'll do silver in here...we'll see:o)
 SR's room.
Living Room

 Can you see the curtains in the kitchen window? No sew curtains using a canvas drop cloth. I'll do another post on those soon.
 Here's an updated shot of the Menu Board with the new wall color behind it. It stands out so much better now.
 Our appetizers that we served. 
 These little cookies were so yummy. Turtles I believe is what the kids are calling them these days. Pretzels, rolos and a nut of your choice(I used almonds). Super easy. You can find the recipe here
 Our upstairs guest room
 Bonus room (1/2 of it at least).I had another shot, but it was so fuzzy:(
 These little goody bags were the favors that we handed out to our guests. Head over to Cookies and Cups for this great party mix!
Our house tour was AWESOME! There were so many nice neighbors that were going on and on about how much they loved the house and how it was decorated. Even the men were talking about how much they loved it. Made me feel proud:o) The hubs even paid me a high compliment..He told me that sometimes he forgets how talented I really am. That really made me feel nice:o) Anyway, this is it for me for this week. We will be maxin' and relaxin' until after Christmas. I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Participating in these parties:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Now available with Google Apps: Google Chrome Sync

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor’s note: We recently launched an improvement that makes over 60 additional Google services available to Google Apps users. This series showcases what’s new and how your organization can benefit.

Welcome to Google Chrome Sync
These days, we spend more and more time working in a web browser, in fact, the number of hours the average American spends online has grown by over 120% in the last 5 years.* Much of the information we consume is delivered through the web, and tools like Google Apps make it easier than ever for workers to collaborate and create using nothing but the web. This shift of data and applications to the cloud makes us less dependent on the specific hardware device that we use to get our work done.

You may use a desktop or laptop PC or Linux box at your desk, then a netbook or maybe even a pilot program Chrome OS notebook when you’re on the go, and then perhaps work from a personal computer when you need to send a quick email from home. Traditionally, your experience has been different on each of these devices depending on how the browser is configured. Now, recently added integration with Google Apps lets you unify your browsing experience across the different devices you use to get your work done, just like millions of Chrome users already do with Google Chrome Sync.

Google Chrome is a modern web browser that was built with today’s web in mind, with a focus on speed, security, and simplicity, and it’s used by more than 120 million people worldwide. One of the features of Chrome that makes it so simple and easy to use is the ability to synchronize your bookmarks, extensions, apps, theme and browser preferences with a Google account, so they are always available in the browser, no matter where you are signed in. Google Apps users now have access to this functionality, allowing you to make these components of your browsing experience available across any device you use to access the Chrome browser.

With Chrome Sync, many of the inefficiencies that result when you switch from one device to another are eliminated. When you bookmark a news article relevant to your business on your desktop PC as you're running out the door to catch a flight, that bookmark will be there when you connect to WiFi as you’re waiting at the airport. The Google Mail Checker extension you discovered last week was synced to your laptop so you notice the email that comes in at the last minute before you close your laptop for take-off. And when the passenger in the seat next to you spills coffee on your keyboard in the middle of the flight, you’re secure in the knowledge that Chrome on your new laptop will have all of the personalization you added on your old one.

Now that Google Chrome is ready for business, Chrome and Chrome Sync combined with Google Apps make a powerful combination for workers leveraging the power of the cloud to be productive no matter where they are and what device they are using.

Learn more and get started
Google Chrome Sync can be enabled by your domain administrator from the Google Apps Control Panel at[] (replace [] with your actual domain name). If your organization isn’t using Google Apps yet, you can learn more and sign up today at

You can find more information about using Chrome in your organization on our Chrome for Business webpage or take a look at a product overview.

Note: Google Chrome Sync may not be available in all areas.
* Forreseter Research, 2010