Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011

Fun With Music and Videos

About ten years ago, I came across this motivational site while looking for something to help motivate my students to achieve more, to give their 250% all the time. I lost track of the site when I had my computer stolen about 4 years ago. Recently, I was working on my dance ministry blog and was moved to look for this site again...and I found it.

I want to share one of the most beautiful messages given to me.

How do you make your customers know that you appreciate them?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011

Social Media Thursday
 During the month of November, I participated in a campaign sponsored by American Express called “Small Business Saturday”. It occurred on the Saturday after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday. It was a push to draw the consumer to invest some of their holiday spending in small businesses. Part of the campaign included $100 (one hundred dollars) of Facebook Advertising. For FREE. I applied and my little ad was accepted and then, quite honestly, I forgot about that part of the push. I put up information on my Facebook fan page, business page and my personal page. Tweeted about Small Business Saturday and placed signage about it in my booth during the Christmas Wonderfest in Detroit.
I have had an increase in sales (slight, but still even one new sale is better than no sales, right?), but I still didn’t make any connections to AmEx and their campaign. Yesterday I received the following email (excerpted here) :

We are happy to report that with your $100 in free Facebook advertising, your campaign reached 134,036* potential customers. (*Reach is defined by the number of unique impressions delivered within your geo-targeted area.)
To keep the momentum going, American Express OPEN offers a variety of helpful resources on OPEN Forum®, including social media tips and tools for businesses like yours. It is all part of our ongoing commitment to the success of small, locally owned businesses.

Wow!!! The ad ran on Facebook for approximately 15 days (I got in on the deal late) which meant I was able to spend more per day than I ever would be able to afford (almost $7 per day)on a regular basis. At the same time, Facebook offered a 50% match of AmEx’s $100.00, again FREE, so that meant I was virtually spending $10.00 per day in Facebook Ads- YOWZA! 

Of course, I am, indeed, a small business and so obviously could not keep those ads running. I cancelled my ads, but I have had an increase in my Facebook fans and more specifically, a request from an international company to possibly market one of my products!!! Double YOWZA!!

Check out the open forum and think about saving some of your advertising dollars for one or two times a year to invest in Facebook Ads. You never know how the results will pay out in the end!
See you tomorrow ^_^

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011

Anything Can Happen Wednesday
My children get out of school for the holiday break this coming Friday, December 16th. Two weeks ago, I was feeling a tad bit overwhelmed and more than ready for them to be home (three less “things” to have to prepare every day), but now that it’s almost time….AAAGGGGGHHHHH!
It’s actually more planning to have them home during the school hours than at school. I totally forgot about preparing lunches and planning activities (no way are they vegging in front of the tv with video games for two weeks) and sharing my daily routine with theirs. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with my boys (my daughter can’t come home for the holidays, she just got a new job), I just have to have a game plan that will hold the interests of a 15-, 13- and 6 year old boy. 

Lunch Plans
My sons love hanging out in the kitchen, sometimes with me, sometimes not. Lunch plans look like this:
Sat, Dec 17 – Homemade Burgers and Fresh Cut Fries
Sun, Dec 18
Mom & Son Day – Mom’s Ramen Noodles
Mon, Dec 19 –
Sub Sandwiches
Tues, Dec 20 –
Mom & Son Day
Tuna Salad
Wed, Dec 21 –
Middle Son’s Birthday – Meatloaf/Mashed Potato “Cupcakes”
Thurs, Dec 22 – Spaghetti-Os and Mondo Salad
Fri, Dec 23 –
Mom & Son Day –
Mug o’ Tomato & Grilled Cheese Soup
Sat, Dec 24 –
Brunch: Pancakes, Bacon, Sausage & Eggs
Sun, Dec 25 –
Leftovers All Day
Mon, Dec 26 –International Week – Sushi, Tempura Shrimp, Rice Noodles
Tues, Dec 27 – International Week –
Grape Leaves, Hummus & Chicken Shwarma
Wed, Dec 28 –
International Week –
Bratwurst & Sauerkraut, Potato Pancakes
Thurs, Dec 29 – International Week –
Polynesian Chicken Skewers
Fri, Dec 30 –
Boys’ Day In The Kitchen – Make Your Own Pizzas
Sat, Dec 31 –
Ramen Noodles (Eating feast with family tonight)
Sun, Jan 1 –
Day At The Movies – Hot Dogs, Potato Chips & Milk Shakes
Mon, Jan 2 –
Fish and Chips

Sat, Dec 17
Put up Christmas Tree, decorate the house (tree, lights, bulbs and garland inside & out)
Mon, Dec 19
Mom’s Date with Son #1 – Window Shopping at the mall (Must check out the new high school fashions while allowing him to flirt with girls as if I don’t notice ^_^)
Tues, Dec 20
Gift making day – (Make presents, bake goodies, wrap it all up for gifting)
Wed, Dec 21
Middle Son Birthday Celebration/Kick’s TaeKwonDo Holiday Party (older boys are Black Belts)
Thur, Dec 22
Mom’s Date with Son #2 – Lunch Date @ Buffalo Wild Wings (who can eat the hottest wing sauce challenge – he usually wins)
Fri, Dec 23
Great American Wii Decathalon! (Just Dance, Wii Sports, Wii Games – May the best mom win – hee hee)
Sat, Dec 24
Christmas Eve at the Grandparents House (A family tradition!)
Sun, Dec 25
Boys visit with Dads (my time to recover from the late Xmas eve celebration)
Mon, Dec 26
Veg out in front of the TV all day – Movie Marathons
Tues, Dec 27
Prep Day for Back to School (Laundry, School Work, Clean Back Packs, etc)
Thur, Dec 29
Shopping for Pizza fixings
Fri, Dec 30
Mom’s Date with Son #3 – Play Date @ Arcade (bells and whistles for 6 year olds)
Sat, Dec 31
Prep for Mondo Dinner with Family for New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Sun, Jan 1
Let’s Go To The Movies (Boys watch the games, Gals go to the movies)

So what are your plans for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011

I was all set to talk about the fabulous three shows I just completed back to back, when I changed my focus on how I wanted to cover those shows - not as a vendor, but as part of the management team.

I'm not sure how many of you are into the art/craft show scene. It's a wonderful way to interface with the public and come away from the virtual office and "hawk your wares". You also get the chance to talk, face to face, with fellow vendors/artists, trade ideas and even, sometimes, products. Many of these shows are produced by local development authorities, community programs, civic centers, arts organizations. Some are produced by companies that specifically look to create these type of events. I am part of one of those type of companies.

As an event coordinator, your staff's job is two-fold. One part is to get the show up and running, keep it running and then take it all apart afterwards. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? It's not. The other part is to keep the vendors and artist happy during the set-up, run and tear down of their individual booths. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? It's not.

Let's say you have decided to do an outdoor spring event over a three day weekend. You apply, get accepted (Yea!) and receive all your important documents in the mail - load in schedule, parking passes, booth sign, name badges, show hours, pertinent phone numbers, etc. According to the schedule, you may arrive as early as 11:00am to start setting up your tent. You arrive at 11:30am, running behind because you forgot to pick up receipt books and had to stop by the Five and Dime (yes, I said it!) to pick up a few. You stop by the check in desk, and are greeted by a smiling individual who welcomes you to the show, hands you a few last minute instructions and points you in the direction of your booth. Off you go. On the way, you pass two people carting around a wagon full of extension cords and carrying a ladder. They smile and greet you. There is another person distributing trash cans throughout the site. Another smile, perhaps a wave instead of the verbal hello. You note that you are near a food trailer, (great no long walks for food), and next to an artist who's work compliments yours wonderfully (mmm, maybe some display collaboration or vendor to vendor trading). Happy? Good.

Let's cut back to those smiling, greeting and waving people. They have been on site since 6:00am. They have marked out the booth spaces, accepted deliveries of equipment (generators for the electricity, barricades to close the streets, port-a-potties, tents, tables, and chairs, oh my! They have collated paperwork, reviewed site plans, directed traffic, answered questions (where do I catch the bus, what's going on here, how long is this going to be here, why is that tent set up outside my store, are you all supposed to be here, I forgot my tent, do you have an extra one, can someone help me unload my car, can you ask the driver of that van to move so I can drive up to my booth, on and on and on). These same people are there when you can't get your electric outlet to work, when the booth across from you needs a potty break, when your neighbor needs trash bags. They are emptying garbage cans, directing customer traffic, finding lost children, removing unauthorized vendors from the site and more. At the end of the day, there they are, helping to close artist and vendor tents, cleaning up the site, powering down generators, directing walking and driving traffic for vendors who just have to get the car onsite to take some things home for the night. When you leave, they're still there. When you arrive the next morning, there they are already, smiling and greeting you.

I'm not rambling, I promise. I say all this to say, consider the background folks when you do or decide to do your next event. When something isn't quite the way you expected, don't bite off the head of the first event person you see - explain your issue and listen to the answers and/or reasons why things are the way they are. Also, don't expect instantaneous results. Remember that you are not the only person in the show.

For any weekend show, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday hours, you can bet the show crew has put in at least 40 hours of work that weekend, per person.That's a week's worth of hours in three days.Not to mention what has occurred prior to the event.

As you prepare for your 2012 show season, I just want you to be aware of the other side of the picture. I'll be touching on various aspects in Tuesday's Getting To Know Who posts. I'll include "Show Do's and Don'ts", "Being Prepared", "What To Do When There's Weather", "Finding Accommodations When Staying Out Of Town" and other show type topics.

See you tomorrow for Wednesday's Anything Can Happen Day!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011

I'm baaaaccccckkkkkk! I've been out of the office for what seems like FOREVER, but I'm back with an adorable little video from Pixar Films because its...
Fun with Music and Video Mondays!!

I hope you enjoyed this one! See you tomorrow with updates on why I've been away so long!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Time, November 2011

So here I was, on a blogging roll when this fabulous 10 day show popped up on my calendar of events. Ten days?!?! Low booth fees?!?! How could I not be there? Aahhhh, but how do I communicate this information to my local customers at the last minute? How do I tell my online customers that I'm having a sale to commemorate this awesome event? I could try phone calls or individual emails, but where does that fit into the production schedule?

Let me let you in on a secret, I recently discovered to handle this. Okay, not so recently discovered, at least not in the big scheme of things. I know you've seen those signs everywhere saying "TEXT _______ to _______ and receive ________". I know I have. I get text coupons from Cold Stone Creamery and Payless Shoe Source just for sending a code text to some random code. Great for big business, but what about us little guys (and gals) who want to do the same thing? Enter the WWW (world wide web, for you non computer geeks)!

I started researching services and found some serious information out there. Customer service runs the full gamut from basic "you-run-the-whole-thing" to ultra supreme "just-tell-us-and-we'll-make-it-happen-for-you". One of the companies I checked out is Textingly. Textingly is a online based text message software. It's like having instant messenger with all your customers at one time. Customers can respond to you and you get real feedback in real time. You manage the messages from your computer. Better yet, you can try the service for free....yes, that what I said, FREE.
Soooo, now you've seen the video, your interest is peaked and you're wondering what to do's easy. Try it out, click the link on my sidebar or the one right here and see for yourself how you can utilize the service. Me? I'm trying it out for my holiday specials, so if you want to find out what they are, email/convo me your cell phone number and you can get a second hand look at how it works. Don't worry, you can always opt out and never hear from me again, but what fun would that be (tee hee)?

Okay, so that's it for today's Fun with Music and Video. I know it's not Monday, but I promise I'll be back in full swing on Tuesday!

Happy Holidays and remember, we can celebrate Thanksgiving everyday of our lives by appreciating all the people and things we have around us.

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

Fun With Music and Video Monday

This week's video is a mini tutorial on miniature paper roses. I was looking for some cool ideas for my Valentine's Day gift boxes and came across this wonderful little idea. She makes it look all so easy. I can't wait to try them out. I'll be posting the trials next Monday for your critiques.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

Friday is Talent Round-Up Day!

So let me introduce you to one of the men inside one of my favorite Etsy teams - the Promotional Frenzy Team. I first came across Martin while looking for balloon pictures for a treasury and I found this:
So I was pleasantly surprised when a few weeks later, I saw that Martin was a new member of the PFTeam.

Martin's shop is called GraphMagics. A cool shop full of acrylic and metal necklaces, brooches, pins and earrings in funky shapes, many of which evoke memories from my growing up years.

As a graphic design student Martin started experimenting design with different tools and materials. But he's not a limited artist. Not only does he play the guitar (music is one of his passions), he has been learning contact juggling and uses it to relax in his free time.

Hailing from the beautiful Buenos Aires, Martin has also been learning how to work with epoxy resin and polyester resin in many different ways. According to him, "This became more than a hobby, almost an obsession with shapes, colors, light, perfect roundness of my resin pieces. I dedicated a lot of time to it. I love spending all the afternoon paper-sanding and polishing pieces if they look perfect at night. Currently I am working on metal most of my time in my home studio."

Martin wants to share his creations and hopes people like it and get inspired by them. So I was inspired to put Martin to the ABC test. I asked him to choose several random letters from the alphabet and use them to describe himself (yes, a short version of the The ABCs of Me). Here's what he came up with (in random order):

M - Musician, J - Juggler, I - Independent, G - Graphic Designer, S - Skater,
G - Guitarrist, R - Resin Crafter, A - Artistic, D - Drummer, T - Twenty Three Years Old,
D - Dog Lover, S - Shower Singer, M - Metal Crafter

 He forgot one...F - Fantastic!!

Take a moment and drop by GraphMagics. I think you'll like (read LOVE) what you find there!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Social Media Thursday

These awesome images are from my Pinterest "Breathless" board.

What makes you speechless...takes the breath from you simply because it's beautiful, fantastical, inspiring....What makes your mouth drop open and your eyes open wide, like you did when you were a small child seeing holiday lights for the first time.....What makes you reach out, unconsciously, and hold his/her hand, so that you know someone special is sharing a special moment with you....What makes you....Breathless?

Pinterest is a great place to indulge your ultimate wish list. Go shopping, find a new book, read a blog, try something new, find a recipe...whatever. It's all there waiting to be pinned!

November 16, 2011

It's Wednesday! It's Wednesday! That means it's
Anything Can Happen Day!

 So what’s going to happen today? Hmm, I think it’s going to be about…


What is clean eating? Well, it’s not making sure your hands are washed before you eat, although that is important as well. Clean eating is about eating foods as close to their natural state as possible (known as “whole foods”). So basically, we’re talking fresh, fresh, fresh. Fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. No box ‘mac and cheese’, canned/tinned ‘beef stew’, real butter, not margarine. Clean eating is a Way of Eating, not a “DIET” like say Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach or Dukkan. In fact (or at least my experienced opinion) the best approach to South Beach and Dukkan is to eat whole foods or eat cleanly while applying their eating plans to your weight loss goal. 

According to, there are five steps to Clean Eating --

Step 1
"Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose fresh, unprocessed foods over canned or processed products. Clean eating enthusiasts believe that we were meant to survive on fresh fruits and vegetables and that processing them reduces their nutritional value and fiber content and adds salt, fat, sugar and chemicals. Choose fruit instead of fruit juice and if you must pick a processed vegetable, frozen is always better than canned."

 Step 2
Balance protein and complex carbohydrates. Incorporate whole grains like brown rice or millet over processed grains. Eat lean meats, and choose organic or grass fed meats when possible as these foods are usually clean of pesticides, hormones and additives. Grill, broil or steam your meats rather than frying.
Step 3
Avoid sodas and high calorie, sugary drinks. Follow the tenant of clean eating that aims to remove added sugars from the diet. Choose water or tea for your beverages, or juice your own fruits and vegetables and enjoy them without added sugars or preservatives.
 Step 4
Trade bad fats for good fats. One of the most important aspects of clean eating is removing saturated fats from the diet. Lower your saturated fat intake by avoiding fast food, choosing lean cuts of meat and getting your fat calories from foods like nuts and fatty fish.
 Step 5
Eat several small meals to keep blood sugar stable and to avoid overeating. Choose snacks like nuts, low-fat or fat free dairy and fruits and vegetables. Note that some people who live a clean eating lifestyle don't eat dairy products while others adapt clean eating to a vegetarian lifestyle.
The photos included here are from Clean Eating Magazine's "Comfort Foods 2011" Special Issue. "With 101 nourishing, never-before-seen recipes, this book is your answer to the winter blues! Features include comforting 15-minute meals, simple slow-cooker recipes, revamped cheese classics and soups, stews & chilies."And they're so tasty, too!
 While we haven't made the total switch to clean eating, my little family is probably at 65% Clean. As the boys learn to prepare meals on the stove and in the oven, I add about 2% a month. Of course, with all things healthy, it can be expensive to eat clean. Clean Eating Magazine has loads of helpful items to make things easier to achieve your goals. Each issue (and available online for free) are shopping lists for the recipes in each issue and each issue includes a set of budget menus and a shopping lists for those as well!

Ain't life grand!?! Are you eating clean?

Resources for this information:,