Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sick of the Snow

Just last week I was complaining about how we hadn't had any snow all winter. We made halfway through February before the flakes began to fall, and fall they did. Since our snow/ice storm last Tuesday, it seems like the faucets are on full-blast.  
 
Yesterday it snowed all day long. The meteorologists swore it would be "on and off" light flurries all day. As it (usually) turns out, they were completely wrong.. it kept snowing, and snowing hard until about 5:00 last night. I'm talking Little House on the Prairie type snow. Unfortunately we didn't seem to accumulate much considering how long the snow was coming down, but apparently we're in for a much larger round of snow starting tonight -- the reports I've heard are calling for anywhere from 1-7 inches total in the Raleigh area. Good grief. Now that's what I call a snow storm.
 
While I enjoy a snow day as much as the next person, I tend to get pretty bored when I don't have anything to do and am cooped up in the house all day long. The only things that keep me entertained are a good book, a great show I can binge on (it figures the third season of House of Cards won't get released until Friday, when we'll probably all be back at work), and eating. And let's be honest.. mindless eating is bad news bears for anyone involved. We got sent home early from work yesterday due to the snow, and I ended up cooking a bunch of rice, brownies, having myself a little "soup taste test", and scrambling up the last of my eggs. Where did my self control go? I probably lost it when I did that five-day fast last month. Now I'm all about storing up for winter. Speaking of gaining weight (UGH), the diet resumes next week.. after the snow has melted.  
 
All I know is that I'm ready for SPRING. Lately I've been doing a lot of online shopping (fine, I've been doing a lot of online shopping always) and have bought some new sandals, dresses, and the cutest baby blue spring purse. I guess that's my way of dealing with the winter blues (which I didn't even have until the weather reared its ugly head). Which reminds me, I need to find a nice big pot of spring-time flowers for my kitchen table, seeing as how my Poinsettas have finally died. Instead of letting a ground hog tell us when winter's over, maybe we should just let the warmer weather arrive once the Poinsettas have all kicked the bucket. Actually, that might be a bad idea, because those damn flowers last forever. Okay, enough with the rambling. I'm off to get some work done in the event that I don't make it into the office tomorrow. *fingers crossed* 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pup Portraits

Yesterday, while I was snowed in at my parents' house (as they have a grand time vacationing in Wyoming), I was totally and utterly bored. So I figured I would try to get some good pictures of the dogs (both my dogs as well as my parents' two dogs). And I must say, some of them turned out better than I had expected.
 
This one was my absolute favorite, of Beau and Scout.

And then my mom's dog, Bee.

But we can't forget Ellie, who is camera-shy.

Scout was more interested in what Beau was doing here.

Scout, once again, with a short attention span.

Beau, photobombing Bee's snow picture.

And trying to figure out why he wasn't invited to be in this picture of Ellie.

Ellie Mae Moore, in action!

Scout, watching a squirrel in the neighbor's yard.

Bee, trying to figure out what he was supposed to be doing outside..

Beau, not enjoying the strange cold white stuff covering the ground.

Wait, you said I can have a cookie?

I had to sleep on a bed piled with dogs. (Well, they slept, and I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable.)

Scout discovered the delight of pillows.

And Beau got in trouble for dozing off in Mom's favorite chair.
 
I really need to find a new hobby.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Well, it finally happened. At last we got snow in North Carolina this season! Unfortunately, the ice sort of prevailed over the snow itself, which wasn't very apparent until I had to walk up my parents' road to get to my car and go to work this morning. (I'm dog-sitting for my parents while they're in Wyoming.)
 

Here you can see my parents' neighbor walking up to the top of the street, briefcase in hand. We have to park our cars at the top of the street since it's nearly impossible to get a car up this road after it's been snowing. I was cracking up watching this guy try and walk up the hill. But don't you worry.. karma got me back for it later on that morning.

Karma got its kicks in with my parents' side porch. Although it looks innocent enough, the entire thing is a frozen slanted block of ice. Once step out the door and gravity took me soaring to the bottom. Now I know not to laugh at others in these conditions.
 

The long, slanted hill that is my parents' neighborhood.

From the top, as you can see, things are beginning to melt. As you make your way down the hill, however, the shade prevents any ice or snow from melting off the road. In other words, it's an accident waiting to happen. It figures that the snow would hold off until my parents are on vacation and I'm left to deal with this mess.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Most Important Characteristics of Great Employees

Yesterday, at the RWPA meeting, we had a panel of guest speakers to answer questions from some of the students currently enrolled in the paralegal certification course. Seeing as how I was the one in charge of choosing and arranging for the speakers, I must say I think I did a superb job in the choices I made. And the most important question that was asked -- concerning the traits that employers look for in their employees -- generated several fantastic answers. In fact, the responses were so great I knew I had to write them down somewhere so that I have the ability to go back and remember what was said. Basically, all five speakers agreed on four fundamental traits that good employees possess: a teamwork mentality, accountability, self-initiative, and adaptability.

The teamwork mentality is pretty cut and dry. In order to make things work in the workplace, you must be willing to work with, support, and embrace a team-driven attitude. If one person has too much work, and another has none at all, it is essential to know that you can count on one another to even things out and help the process along for the betterment of the whole department. Mentoring programs are of the utmost importance, but if there isn't a mentor program available for your specific position, you must be in charge of your own mentoring. Find someone who is willing to help you, and make sure you're willing to help anyone else. Working together in an office setting (especially in the legal field) is of the utmost importance.

Accountability is another big one. If you make a mistake, you must be willing to own up to it. As someone put it yesterday, mistakes are signs of an attempt to get things done. Since we're all human, we're all destined to make mistakes, and that's perfectly fine. The important part is that we must be willing to admit when we mess up, and we much take an approach to solve any mistakes we make. If we're not willing to point out our own flaws and the small (or large) things that we have done wrong, the problem becomes that much bigger, and the ending will never be a pleasant one.

One of the main points my boss brought up (as he was one of the panel speakers yesterday) is that it is so important for employees to take the initiative to be one step ahead in the game. Don't just do what is asked for you, always go the extra mile and think ahead to what will need to be done next. An employee who sits around waiting to be told what to do is of very little value in the workplace. If we want to show our employers our true value, we must show them how driven we are and how we can see a project through to its end instead of sitting around waiting to be asked to perform one task at a time.

Adaptability is such a core trait that we all must embrace not only in our careers, but in our personal lives as well. Change is inevitable. The job you are hired to do will almost assuredly NOT be the same job you will end up doing somewhere down the road. The ability to take change and accept it is something that will keep you on your toes and will show your employers that you are in it for the long-haul. If you're able to adapt to different environments, different situations, different duties, and different co-workers, you will be better off in the long run.

Of course, there are many characteristics that make up the employees that employers treasure the most, but these four seemed to be the most essential to all the departments that were present at yesterday's meeting. Although some of these traits are ones that must be learned, those of us in the work place must strike a balance and be able to hold ourselves to the standard that employers have for us. This list might sound simple, but it's the foundation for a successful career.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Paleo Breakfast Muffins

Not only are these muffins Paleo-friendly, they're quite low carb. As in, fewer than one carb each. Yep, you heard me right. Meat and eggs have absolutely no carbs in them, so I figure they're the healthiest go-to for breakfast. But who has time to cook up a big breakfast of eggs and bacon and sausage every morning? If only there were a way to eat these foods and still not be late for work. (Okay, fine, I'll probably be late for work regardless.)
 
A couple of days ago I decided to throw together one of my kitchen experiments. I browned some ground beef and diced pancetta and mixed in some scrambled eggs to start. Then, I divided up the mixture into some well-greased muffin tins before adding a mixture of 2 parts egg, one part heavy cream. I folded up six slices of cooked bacon and added them to about half of the muffin cups. Since this was purely an experiment, I managed to create different consistencies of all the ingredients to see which ones worked out best. If you want, you can always add cheese, but my goal here was to keep the carb count as low as possible. I baked the muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, and they came out rather well. After letting them cool, I stored them in the fridge in a Tupperware container and have been popping them in the microwave every morning for about two minutes. The ones with the bacon have been my favorites so far (go figure), but they all turned out really well and are quite filling. I do believe I'll be doing this again for a week's worth of breakfasts.