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Archives for March 2011

Who says a good thing has to end?

love and smiles heart shaped candyphoto credit: Ella Marie

Good Morning Ladies! Happy Thursday, I’m so happy to have all of you here today. I am hoping we have some new friends mixed into our group who have not completed the 31 day challenge, I know that writing a blog, running a family, keeping a job and keeping up with the 31 day challenge is more like a marathon and a few ladies fell off the bandwagon just because of “life” so I welcome back everyone!!

Hmm, I just realized that we never had an official graduation of some kind… Maybe we ought to do that somehow, I’ll put my thinking cap on but in the mean time I did want to share with you that I have Renee from Studio Bold who redesigned the SITS site working on a “grad” button for all of us to shine on our sites. When she is done I will let all of you know for sure and I will have it “premier” on the SITS Forum.

It is my hope here to review our key days in the program, what worked, find out what didn’t work so well for some and great for others and just help each other build our sites to be the best they can be.

OK then here is how we are going to continue this party:

1. First grab your e-copy of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and your morning java and we are ready to rock and roll!

2. Every Thursday I will post a discussion based on one of the 31 Days. This is where all of you come in today, I need to hear from YOU! What days are key to YOU? What days would YOU like to review? And I will be mixing in some new things that I have picked up from the ProBloggers site for our alums.*As always I will try and keep it educational to help all of us mixed in with a little humor, because ya gotta smile!

3. Share the cute little button below on your challenge posts and also to put on your sidebars to show you are “continuing the challenge”

What I’m asking of each of you:

Please come! You have no idea how much I have enjoyed “meeting” this group we formed there are some real warm women here with great stories to tell. And as I said back in February at the beginning of the challenge; “You can come dressed as you are; pj’s, slippers, curlers, sweats… bring coffee, tea or vodka if that’s your early morning thing… however, just please continue to come or I will get a complex and will start to cry and well we don’t want that to happen now, do we?”

I’m pretty sure most of you are but for those new ladies, please follow me on Twitter as I will be putting updates and little inspirations there for the group. I have set up a new my tutorial on how to set one up, I will be doing a follow up this week on how to actually use it once you set it up.

• Re-Read the daily lesson in the e-book and take the time to check out as many links that he has included as possible. *this is where I got caught up in time! Darren said 15 minutes.. i say phewey on that!

• Come here and post the answer the questions each Thursday and leave a link to your post that day. • As in the forum if you would visit the lady who posts right before you and leave her some comment love that would be great! *we had some fabulous commenting going back and forth and I would love to keep that going.

• Spread the Word! Invite your friends and followers to join in the challenge! You can grab our new button below to share on your blog!

href=”http://www.im-stillstanding.com/”> src=”http://i193.photobucket.com/albums/z104/danielle982/2011/shelleybutton.png”/>

 

How will this party continue to help you?

As in the original challenge you will gain some new knowledge from the Zen master (aka Mr. ProBlogger-Darren Rowse) and will spend time with some wonderful and fun women just like yourself who each have things we can learn from.

I will be posting a monthly wrap up if you miss anything along the way… And speaking of missing anything… I posted all 31 day’s challenges yesterday, sooo if you missed a day you just have to hop back there and it will give you each day. And to keep the party festive I will continue with the Giveaways in my monthly wrap up.

I’m so excited to be continuing this with all of you. And I thank all of you for “keepin” the faith in me! *cheers!

Questions:

1. I know a lot of you kept stats during the month and I’d love to know the changes you had over the five weeks.

2. What improved the most?

3. What weeks did you find the most challenging? 4. What weeks would you like to review? Please be sure to leave a link to your latest post so that others can visit and comment today.

31 days to build a better blog and then some…

For all of the ladies who have followed along in the Winter ProBlogger 31 day challenge I have the links to each day for you to review. If you are new to this challenge welcome, it is a wonderful program written by the Zen Master ProBlogger Darren Rowse designed to help YOU build a better blog. And who doesn’t want to have a great blog that encourages readers to come back for more and more? You can pick up his workbook and join in the fun!

Day One: Write and Elevator Speech

Day Two: Write a list post

Day Three: Promote a blog post

Day Four: Analyze a top blog in your niche

Day Five: Email a blog reader

Day Six: 27 Must read tips and tutorials

Day Seven: Write a link post

Day Eight: Interlink your old posts

Day Nine: Join a forum and start participating

Day Ten: Set up alerts to monitor what is happening in your niche

Day Eleven: Come up with 10 post ideas

Day Twelve: Develop an editorial calendar for your blog

Day Thirteen: Take a trip to the mall

Day Fourteen: Update a key page on your blog

Day Fifteen: Find a blog buddy

Day Sixteen: Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems

Day Seventeen: Watch a first time reader use your blog

Day Eighteen: Create a sneeze page

Day Nineteen: Write and opinion post for your blog

Day Twenty: Leave comments on other blogs

Day Twenty-one: Breathe life into an old post

Day Twenty-two: Pay special attention to a reader

Day Twenty-three: Call your readers to action

Day Twenty-four: How to use a magazine to improve your blog

Day Twenty-five: Ask a question: 10 reasons why questions work and 12 tips on how to ask them

Day Twenty-six: Improve another blog

Day Twenty-seven: Hunt for dead links

Day Twenty-eight: Write a review post

Day Twenty-nine: Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online

Day Thirty: 17 statistics to monitor on your blog

Day Thirty-one: Plan the next steps for your blog

Are YOU up for the challenge? If you are stop back tomorrow to see what I have in store for YOU!

The first time

 

hadley first wheelchair 1997There are certain moments in a mother’s life that you will always remember, their first word, their first step, the first time they actually made it to the potty, their first date, their first kiss, their first “A”, the first team they “made” their first best friend, their first college acceptance letter… and in my case

The first wheel chair…

Hadley had been 5 years old and I had been carting her around in a stroller since birth, she was small, and it was easy to flip it open and put her in it, it was safe, she was happy… and I didn’t have to “think” about the inevitable…

And then the day came…

I knew it was coming… I couldn’t keep her in a stroller forever…

Although she was a small little girl I knew it was “time”…

No matter how easy a stroller was for me to throw in the back of my Volvo…

It was time…

And so we had her measured…

Even had her name monogrammed on it in purple… with purple sides… for our little girl…

Our little girl whose legs would never support her for long…

Our little girl whose legs get tired step after step…

Our little girl who just couldn’t stand on her own…

It was time…

When we put her in the wheelchair for the first time…

She was happy…

She tried to move it with her right hand and went in circles…

She smiled…

Me… not so much…

But I knew…

It was time…

Shelley vs the kitchen sink diy style

Last week I started something new for my “wellness makeover,” I’m now going “green” with my cleaning, and creating a new section called Green Living. It began when my new friend Carla who I met during the Winter ProBlogger 31dbbb challenge asked me to join her “greener cleaning mom’s kitchen challenge” just in time for spring cleaning. For years I have worried a little about all of the chemicals in cleaners as I have rubbed and scrubbed with numerous cleansers and worried about the fumes for me and also for my family especially little Hadley with her medical conditions. Thanks to Carla I am learning I don’t have to sacrifice health for a clean home. Nontoxic DIY cleaners deliver considerable power at minimal cost too which is a “good thing.”

So I thought why not?

Greener Cleaning Moms

This week’s challenge was to clean your kitchen sink. Now you have to know I clean my kitchen sink about 4 times a day, unless it is a lazy Sunday and you know the stuff just piles up until good old Monday!- Um, don’t you do that too?

When I went to take the photo’s of my sink I did notice some black around the drain and between the sink and the granite at the top so those were really going to be the areas I worked on the most.

What did I use to clean the kitchen sink:
OK Carla recommended cleaning with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part Baking Soda to make a paste but we were out of white vinegar so I thought about the great smell of lemons and knew they make great sponges sometimes and leave the disposal smelling great so I used the baking soda and water to make a little paste and scrubbed with my lemon.

Baking soda: (aka sodium bicarbonate) A deodorizer and gentle scrub; softens hard water, removes acidic stains, and polishes shiny surfaces like stainless steel without scratching.

Lemon: A deodorizer, stain remover, and grease cutter; acts as a mild bleach when exposed to sunlight.

So with a little elbow grease here are the before…


during…


and after photo’s…


Next time I will have to try the vinegar/baking soda mixture and see if there is a difference… but loved the lemony smell from the disposal, and no waste or trash! OK now just waiting on this week’s challenge… How about you, want to join?

What do you use to clean your sink with?

Top 10 reasons why Ina wouldn’t make “time” for a terminally ill child

make a wish
photo credit: Ree

Ina, Ina, Ina (also known to many as The Barefoot Contessa)I am so disappointed in you! I have followed you for years, watched your show, made your food, remade your food to make it “healthy” and just smiled when I heard your little tune on TV, but come on now…. Please tell me you didn’t actually turn down a 6 year old “make a wish” child, three years in a row, whose wish was to cook a meal with you? Wow, I actually had thought about writing to you about being on your show and cooking but now I know I have no shot!

So here are my top 10 reasons why perhaps you wouldn’t make “time” for a terminally ill child coming from a mom of a special needs child who understands just how important it is to make these kids with daily challenges smile:

1. You were out getting a “new” blue shirt…

2. You just didn’t have the time because I understand how important it is to run to the “market” for fresh cheese every day!

3. You were busy getting ready for Jeffrey to come home and eat your delicious meal you spent hours making, (which is why you are to busy to see sick children)

4. Or perhaps you were busy having lunch with your editors coming up with a new cookbook to quickly follow up your last one.

5. Or perhaps you were to busy working on making a new prepackaged food (um do you actually do this?)

6. Oh, I get it, you have to actually bid at an auction to “have lunch” with Ina then she isn’t to busy for you…

7. You just don’t have the time because when you aren’t cooking you are lurking in your herb garden.

8. Of course you spend hours cleaning that perfect white kitchen you spend all day in.

9. You were coming up with a new recipe for your new cookbook, something cold and blue… o wait that isn’t a food, it’s just you!

10. For someone who is concerned about getting down to the “basics” what about basic compassion for those less fortunate then yourself?

That’s it, my little list and I know that celebrities get hit up all the time for things like this and I know they have challenging calendars, we all do! But if it weren’t for the everyday people to put these people where they are today in this case TV and buying cookbooks, then where would they be? I’m just sayin’…

A shell with life

snail in the grass
photo credit: Krondol

Dear Shelley,

It’s time… time to take back your “life.” I know you have been a prisoner in your own mind for a few months now and it’s time to give the gatekeeper the key and move back into the real world…

For the past 7 months I have been keeping myself “safe” in my little computer office, writing which is a good thing but staying out of civilization, um not so good, not driving, not so good, not exercising, really not good at all… it’s time…

Panic has been my nemesis for a while now… You know I have suffered from panic and anxiety for most of my adult life and this time you know let it really get the best of me and almost became agoraphobic. I recently learned that Paula Deen began her biz because she felt like she couldn’t leave her home… so here’s hoping something wonderful will come out of my “confinement.”

I have been working with a doctor for the past few weeks on getting me back in the car which I really need to do, so much of my life revolves around getting out and around.

That’s it, just wanted to let you know… I’m ready… to come out of my shell and let my face hit the sun again… Oh glorious day!

How about you? Have you ever suffered from panic or anxiety?

Day 31 – Plan the Next Steps for Your Blog

Well this is it; Day 31! As I said on Friday I can’t believe that the challenge is over I have really enjoyed the program myself as well as leading all of you. I am excited to review and get all of my notes in order and put all of these challenges into place. I will be making the move from blogger to wordpress with a new design very soon and feel that this challenge helped me bloom.

I’d like to thank each of you for taking the time to do the challenge these past 6 weeks with me. It was a bit of a challenge at times for me doing it and leading it but like all of you I kept on moving. I’d like to thank you all for your support. A big shout out to Francesca for getting each day’s challenge to “sticky” on the Forum and a thank you to all of the SITS girls for the $100 Gift Card Giveaway.*

Don’t forget that I will be running a review for the challenge on Thursdays starting 3/31 on my site and hope you will continue to work with me as we improve our sites together.

Wishing you all well and hope to see you in blogosphere!

Shelley @shelleyellen

Some Important Info:

If you want to be an affiliate for the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” ebook check out the 31DBBB Affiliate Page.

If you’re not finished with 31DBBB, I will be putting up a review of the challenge on my site this week and you are welcome to join in our review group on Thursdays beginning 3/31 for weekly reviews and challenges.

In celebration of those who completed 31DBBB, I will be coming up with a badge and will Tweet everyone when I get that back from the designer this week.

Key Concepts:

Successful bloggers often set aside time to think strategically about their blogs every now and again.

Figure out the things you feel are most important in blogging and develop a plan for next month by specifying tasks you want to achieve each day.

Sample Plan:

Six posts a week (Sundays are a day off from posting)

Each post day having its own type of post

Time on Sundays for determining the specifics of each post (topics, titles etc.)

An administration task each Monday

Promotional activities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays

A day for readers (Fridays) for emailing, answering questions etc.)

Stats analysis on the last day of the month

Brainstorming on the first day of the month

You still have to keep up with daily tasks like comment moderation

Don’t bite of more than you can chew, or you may get blogger burnout

BIG recommendation: Look back over the last 31 days of tasks and identify which ones you might want to perform regularly on your blog.

Questions:

1. What tasks will you continue to perform regularly on your blog?

2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned throughout 31DBBB?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 20 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Let’s just say “Ta-Ta” for now

luggage
photo credit: Brett Wagner

I’m so glad we had this time together…*tugging on ear! For 30 days now I have been leading the ProBlogger Winter 31day Challenge to build a better blog. It has been a wonderful program and I have met so many new bloggy buddies with so many great stories to share.

I have spent the week reviewing a lot of my own posts which is why I have been mia on posting but just wanted to get this little ditty up and say “thank you” to everyone who has followed along.

We have spoken about it in brief but I am excited to announce that every Thursday I will be continuing the 31 Day Challenge and reviewing key days and working on new challenges by the Zen Master- ProBlogger. He sure has a lot of great information.

I know a lot of our group slowed up or even stopped so it is my hope that with the Thursday 31 Day Review Group it will also give everyone the opportunity to catch up at their own pace and leave questions for our group.

This whole challenge really got my brain moving and I am now ready to make the big leap from Blogger to WordPress and am working on doing that, so look for a new and improved site from me in the near future. Uhhh, I really feel like I’m moving, packing, reviewing, cleaning blah blah blah but it’s time to get up off the keyboard and move literally, so I’m not saying “good bye” *tear tear, just ta ta for now! See you next Thursday for the kick off of Shelley’s 31dbbb Review!!

If you are hear from SITS you have until next Friday March 25th to complete the challenge and if you do you can enter the SITS $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, all you need to do is leave me your email address and let me know what day you completed the project and what the best thing you are taking away from the challenge is. No email, No entrance…The winner will be picked on Sunday March 27, 2011via random dot com and will be notified via email.

Update: The winner of the $100 Amazon Gift card from The SITS Girls is:

1st MamasMonologues@yahoo.com

Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 13:18:52US/Eastern Time The winner was drawn from a list of 21 entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. You will find the permanent record of the drawing here:

http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=5551

Day 30: 17 Statistics To Monitor On Your Blog

Wow, it is hard to believe we are only 1 day away from the end of the 31DBBB Challenge! This has been an amazing month; I hope that everyone has had as much fun as I have. After this month, I’m feeling a clear direction and feel like I have more of a plan for my blog – it’s pretty amazing although lots of work and going back through all of my posts. And I’m getting ready for a whole new redo now! (I feel like I’m moving and starting the packing. Uhhh but it’s a good thing!)

I’ve also loved getting to know some of you and your blogs, don’t forget that we will be continuing our challenge on my site and reviewing some of the key days and moving forward with new challenges every Thursday so please don’t be a stranger and stop on by, I will continue to help everyone build better blogs through our Zen Master Problogger and will try to keep everyone inspired and have a giveaway for the group here and there!

The task for Day 30 is to spend time looking at your blog’s statistics to see what you can learn from it. There is a LOT of information in the e-book, but I’ll try to pull out some key points.

Key Takeaways:

• If you haven’t done so already, install tracking on your blog. WordPress has built in tracking, and blogger now shows stats on the site as well as Google Analytics which is also a popular way to follow your numbers.

• A few of the statistics Darren highlights are Overall Visitors, Most Popular Posts, Referral Stats, Bounce Rates, Daily/Weekly Trends, and Exit Pages.

• Don’t become a stats addict! Darren has a huge blog, and he glances at stats a couple of times a day but puts aside only an hour or two a month to go deeper into the numbers.

• Remember that blogs take time to build, and consider setting exponential goals instead of numerical ones – for example, doubling your subscribers or growing by a percentage each month.

This particular exercise tends to become more and more useful over time. Problogger recommends using this as a part of your regular blogging routine.

Questions:

1) Did you track your statistics this month? What did you see?

2) Which statistics do you feel tell you the most about your blog or readers?

But we still have one more day left… so no tears right now please, I have to go get ready for the gym…

The linky love throughout this month has been very good and I loved how it followed over to Twitter. (ps I’m going to continue with my Twitter Tutorials too). So as usual please leave your linky love and make sure I have your email address in this comment if you want to continue on and review with me.

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 35 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 29: Develop a Plan to Boost Your Blog’s Profile and Readership Online

Wow, two more days left, I’m a little sad! Actually a lot sad, I really have enjoyed our time together. We’ve been building our blog’s profile all along whether we realize it or not. Commenting on other blogs, discussing issues on forums, Tweeting, responding to emails, you name it! Any way in which you interact publicly or privately with your blog readers is a small step in the larger goal of building your blog’s profile.

Key points:

Set an amount of time per day or week to build your blog’s profile. (Don’t ignore your blog to do this!)

Take 10-15 minutes to describe your desired reader.

Ask yourself, “Where are my potential readers gathering online?” Flickr, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Blogs, Forums?

What opportunities do you have to build your presence on these sites? Guest posts, leaving useful comments, signatures, advertising?

Questions:

1.) How does the way you build your blog’s profile change after reading this task?

2.) Give us an example from your strategy! For one site: how much time will you spend there? What are you going to do? When’s the site most active?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 25 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!