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Archives for October 2011

Pick up that magazine

Magazines

Let’s use the pile of magazine I have in my family room, or your family room to come up with some great bloggy ideas! I am all for finding inspiration all around, even where you least expect it. So today, I am going to make it my business to go through the serious pile I have stacking up and look for some great ideas.

What you need:

Magazines

Sticky pads

Pens or pencils

Open mind!

60 minutes, I’m even timing it!

 

Analyze a magazine with the intention of helping your blog:

I imagine if you are like me a lot of the magazines that you subscribe to are of topics you cover on your blog, for me food, healthy food, wellness, and design, and all of these are on my site.

The Cover– What is it telling you? Short words? Ideas for lists? Giveaways if that is your thing? Take a good look at the headline; what inspired you about this topic to pick up this magazine if you just purchased it?

In the sheets– What colors are being used? What is the chic new type-face? Is there something there that you might incorporate into your site?

The Stories– Nine times out of ten I will find something in a magazine that I “rip out” and put in my “idea folder” be it a title that inspires me, or content that reminds me of a story that I’d like to share with my readers. Read with an open mind…

Niche Ideas-Is there a story that relates to your niche that inspires you to write a post? Is there a new statistic or information that your audience would appreciate if you chose to share it in a post?

It’s all about the interaction– Take a look at how companies interact with their customers; how do they run giveaways or promotions? I know you are thinking “hmm I’m not Pillsbury” but sometimes it is not about the money that the companies spend rather the viral marketing which costs little more than your time.

Our weekly exercis

Go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for an hour, set the timer if you must.

Bring a few magazines with you and your sticky pads and pen or pencil to make notes.

Quickly skim the magazine from front to back cover.

Notice what “jumps out at you”

Now start over, upon returning to the beginning make a note of what were the things that “jumped out at you.”

Now go back one more time and this time take your time to think about the following:

  • What drew your attention on the front cover? What techniques did they use to capture your attention in various places?
  • What are the headlines saying? Are they affective? Did they make you want to jump and look for the article?
  • How is their use of photos?
  • How is the magazine formatted?
  • What it the magazines “call to action?”
  • Can you learn from their ads?
  • Who would read this magazine?
  • What do you like about the magazine? What don’t you like about the magazine? Is there something you can use on your site from this magazine?
  • Use your sticky pad to write ideas for posts and “rip” out the pages for the idea folder.

For this week’s lesson:

I would like you to take the hour to review a magazine and go through the above questions. Then either write a post that was inspired by a topic in the magazine, the headline, a photo, or something that “jumped off the pages” at you.

Come back and link up and take a few moments to review a few of the others posts in the group.

10 Helpful Uses of Peppermint

peppermint collage

photo credit: Michaelwhay,  EtsyEtsyDrSwan

  1. Start your day off with a zip in your step and add a few drops of peppermint oil to your shower floor, this is sure to pick you up and open your eyes!
  2. Add 12 drops of peppermint oil per 1 ounce of skin care oil and massage aching muscles.
  3. Add a little boggie to your step and add 2 drops on the bottom of your socks while dressing.
  4. For those sleepy mornings, diffuse while driving to remain alert.
  5. For extra production at work diffuse at your desk and work work work!
  6. Need an extra “moment” to boost yourself-inhale and breathe 5 times. Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 8.
  7. Peppermint, when applied topically, has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison ivy, or poison oak.
  8. Looking to freshen your bathroom? Mix 6 drops per 1 oz of water and spritz for a minty freshness.
  9. To bring energy to your yoga work out mix 6 drops per 1ounce of water to your yoga mat.
  10. Always great for a quick pick up in tea, and has been known to help memory and irritable bowel syndrome.

I am really hard on my feet and I go barefoot as shoe of choice so every now and then a foot scrub is just what my achy feet need! Not only is peppermint is considered an invigorating scent in aromatherapy but in a foot scrub and it exfoliates dead skin  nourishing the skin and creating a refreshing tingle. Peppermint also has mild antiseptic, antifungal and deodorizing which is on a “good thing” list for the feet!

Ingredients:

1c Epsom salt

½ c baking soda

½ c dried peppermint leaves

Peppermint essential oil

Unscented liquid castile soap

 

Directions:

Combine the Epsom salt, baking soda and peppermint leaves in the large bowl. Mix the ingredients together with your hands.

Use plastic gloves to keep the essential oil fragrance off of your hands.

Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil.

Mix it into the bowl and test the scent. If you want a stronger scent, add 10 more drops and mix again.

Continue adding oil, mixing and testing until you reach the desired scent.

Pour enough liquid castile soap into the bowl to make a thick paste.

Transfer the paste to an air-tight plastic container. Store the foot scrub in a cool, dry place.

 

What do you use peppermint for? Love to know if it is something not on the list!

If you liked this post and want to find out more on other herbs and aromatherapy check out 12 uses for calming with lavender

 

A New York Kind of Breakfast

sunday morning breakfastWhen I was young we would have bagels and lox on many Sunday mornings. I can remember waking up with what I will call a “New York kinda breakfast” smell. There is nothing like the combination of soft cream cheese, smokey fish and the crisp crunch of red onions and cucumbers all wrapped up into one big bite.

Since I began my wellness journey I try and serve pumpernickel bread for those who don’t want to eat bagels which you might not realize but are the equivalent to 4 pieces of bread, however I do have friends who still can’t give them up and pull out all the doughy centers and fill with the “fix-ins”. For me it’s all about the flavor of the pumpernickel with the fish and crunch of veggies!

Last fall Sarah and I had a chance to visit the wonderful “fishary” called Russ & Daughters in New York city. And Ohh my you can not image how wonderful their lox is. It tastes so silky and fresh, I have never had such wonderful lox-it is most definitely a must try!

russ and daughters fishary

Shelley’s New York Kind of Breakfast:

2 pieces of pumpernickel bread (try and get the small 3-4″ squares)

a smidgen of whipped cream cheese *which in Shelley talk equates about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese on each piece of pumpernickel

2 ounces of thin sliced lox, go for the Nova

4 slices of cucumber

1/2 tomato either chopped or sliced

2 slices of red onion

Just layer it all up and enjoy, sometimes if I am having guests I will add chopped chives to the cream cheese.

*Eating Well Tip: Did you know that whipped cream cheese has the same calories per tablespoon as reduced-fat cream cheese because it is air whipped, making it less dense?

Hello it’s Me!

3D character rolling e-mail sign.

Blogging is all about connecting with people. Bloggers write for business or pleasure, either publicly or anonymously, (which I do understand because I wrote anonymously for a year), but at some point you need to let people know how to contact you. After a while someone is going to want to get in touch with you to ask about some kind of opportunity be it advertising, a PR agent, or someone in the media who read your post and wants to follow up for a piece they are working on. And the way to do this on your site is to make sure you have a Contact page. I believe this has to be the second most important page on your site followed up right behind your About Me page.

A lot of time readers want to get in touch with you and offer a little more than a note in the comment box and they would rather send you an email. To be a better blogger you need to keep the lines of communication open with your readers, and you want to make this as easy as possible for them.

I can’t tell you how many people I have personally tried to get in touch with after reading a post and spent up to 5 minutes looking for a way to contact someone to no avail, and I believe this is frustrating! And I don’t think you want to frustrate people who could potentially be contacting you for some kind of business, do you?

I just went through a complete re-design of my site and this summer spent a great deal of time on various pages and this was one of the pages that as simple as it seems I made sure I  included. It has my email, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Digg as well as a link to my other site that I Co-Founded with my daughter Sarah  The DC Ladies. I left off my phone number because that is just “me” but to many others this is important and the place to be. I also made sure that at the top of my home page all of my social media icons are just a click away. (But this does not replace a Contact Page)

If you have a Contact form on your page, please do not let that be the only means that someone can get in touch with you, again that pushes the frustration button and seems impersonal, add all of your information.

As an experiment and task for the day take a look at your site and see how easy is it for someone to get your contact information so they can get in touch? If nothing else, email please!

If you have a Contact Page, test it! Make sure all of your links work and take you where you want them to go.

Now, Can I contact you? Let’s link up our Contact Page in the McLinky below! Please take a moment to stop by and visit the lovely blogger before you and leave some love for them too!

You and About(dot)me

Last week in my ProBlogger review group we worked on crafting a well written About Me Page. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the importance of this as I feel you can pop over to that post. However, if you are not a member of our group (You can always join every Thursday) and you blog you should understand that your About Me page is the most important page on your site. It should be a banner page that describes who you are and makes people want to return to your site weekly, if not daily!

I am all about organization… I have been dubbed the organization queen in my home as well as many an office, so with that and my love for social media I am thrilled to share with you a site which will helps condense your social media presence all in one place! I’d like to introduce you to about.me

about.me’s  little video on Vimeo

 

What is about.me?

about.me is a free easy-to-use custom online website that works a bit like a digital-age business card that organizes web content which includes everything that is about… YOU! The custom profile offers a snapshot bio plus links visitors to your website, blog, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, google+ and anywhere else you can link to that you deem important to… YOU! And the site gives basic analytics like visitors’ time on site and Klout to boot!

One of the best things about the site, aside from the fact that it’s free, is that it allows you select your own URL, preferably with your name in it. Your page’s URL, for example, could be about.me/Yourfirstnamelastname. That tiny link can be used below your signature in emails, on a resume. You can find my snazzy page,  go on look me up!

shelley's about.me page

Should I make an about.me Page?

If you have a blog, a twitter, or two, a facebook fan page or two, a Linkedin, flickr, etc then the answer is YES! I don’t know about you but when I started my blog in 2009 I had that and my facebook, which was quickly followed up with twitter, another site, another twitter and 2 facebook fan pages, google+, and a linkedin. Wouldn’t it be easy to keep all of that information together on one clean page?

Let’s do this!

The whole process took me about an hour to create. Make sure you have a good short biography written; perhaps your elevator speech! Make sure you know what you want the page to say about you before you start out. Take a few minutes to think about it and review some of the great profiles in their directory.

Signing up is a snap, enter your email address, and of course come up with a password and then come up with your URL. Now it is time to create your profile…

A picture is worth a thousand words

This is definitely one site where this holds true, considering it is a huge splash page. With that said, do you have a photograph that “defines” you? The biography area does allow you the option to include a thumbnail image of yourself and also provides a limited selection of basic backgrounds to choose from should you not use a photograph.

After you have come up with your background continue to the right and follow each tab. Biography will be next; this is where you enter your “elevator speech” followed by the next two tabs which lets you play with the colors and fonts and then the final tab labeled services which will link each of your on-line presences. After you have created your biography square decide where you want to drop it on your page. Ta-dah you are all done!

After your page has been up for a bit you can check your stats from the dashboard.

It really is simple as one, two three… Take the few minutes and set one up, I promise you will be happy you did. I’d love to have you leave your link and share yours with me.

 

Things I’ve Never Done

as you all may or may not know I had a pretty “big” birthday this summer, gulp…

I’m fifty… that is right five ohhhh

And I have never:

  • Set foot in Italy… yet…
  • Sang Karaoke in public
  • Eaten sushi

 

chicago bean photo credit: Dr. Bacchus

  • Been to Chicago
  • Rode a rollercoaster
  • Had a drawing hang in a museum
  • Seen Gone With the Wind
  • Run in a marathon

red motorcyclephoto credit: Maurice

  • Rode on a motorcycle
  • Broke a bone
  • Given birth the good ole fashion way
  • Met my celebrity crush
  • Danced until dawn
  • Watched the Sopranos
  • Been on a train across the country

 

montana lake photo credit: mtgriz65

  • Been to Montana
  • Been skiing
  • Been a math-whiz
  • Kissed someone just “because”…
  • Swam with the dolphins

ryan seacrest

photo credit: hollywoodmomblog

There is a time to be proud

 

sarah and hadley collage

My girls…

One who is special with a heart of gold…

One with special needs who will make your heart melt…

One who goes into things with an open heart…

One who tries with all of her heart…

One who trained to run her first 5K…

One who works hard just to walk everyday…

One who wants all that the world has to offer…

One who is happy with a hug and a kiss…

No matter what…

There isn’t a day…

When I am not proud of both of my girls!

Tomato Mozzarella ala Shelley

tomato mozzarellaI love love love tomato mozzarella salad! There aren’t to many things that taste as “fresh” to me as this.

Shelley’s Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes approximately 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 T canola oil or olive oil

6 T balsamic vinegar

2 T chopped shallots

2 T Dijon mustard

½ t minced fresh garlic

Pinch of black pepper

Splash or two of rice vinegar

Instructions:

In a small bowl whisk together the above dressing ingredients and set aside.

In another small bowl add 8-ounces of part-skim mozzarella cheese balls, that have been cut in halves.

Add to it 1 8-ounce container of cherry tomatoes also that have been cut in halves.

And add ½ cup of lightly packed fresh basil leaves that have been cut in pieces.

Toss with the tomato and mozzarella with the vinaigrette.

I enjoy this salad many ways, sometimes with lettuce and grilled chicken, sometimes as a side dish with salmon, or some days just by itself. Do you have a favorite version?

Baby it’s YOU!

me cufflinks
photo credit: Etsy

First I have to say “hi!” And let you all know I am so happy that you are here to review ProBlogger’s lessons that we worked on in both his books 31 Days to build a Better Blog and The First Week of Blogging I think there is so much that we can learn and take this one step further with each of the lessons.

So, let’s start at the beginning. Why did you start your blog? Was it to raise awareness of something you feel passionate about, or about your business or your hobbies, or children? We all have our own reasons for wanting to share our “stories” with the world. And one of the most important pieces on our site is about each of us- Who are you?

This is an important piece of information and EVERY blog should have one! Your About Me page should be one of your best written pieces. It is a page that a lot of first time readers might check out after enjoying a first post as well as those wanting to know if they should invest time in building a relationship with you: potential partners, advertisers, collaborators, journalists, and people in the PR industry that we all hope “discover” us. It should be written in the same tone that you carry on through your site, are you funny, informative, controversial, or write from the heart. I know a lot of you are thinking “I already have an about me page” but this is a page that evolves as your story evolves, this page should be reviewed and kept current.

Here are a few ideas that you should include in a great About you page.

  1. Your elevator speech– This is your chance to shine in one or two lines and it is important that people can walk away and remember who you are after that brief description.
  2. A Picture is worth a thousand words-so the song goes, but it is true, people like to see “who” it is that is writing. Also make it a picture with some kind of personality.
  3. Who are you and what are you selling?– You want to be as clear as possible why you are writing this. Sharing your beliefs on your About Me page can both inspire readers and gain their trust.
  4. Toot your own horn– Do you have a few posts you are proud of, highlight them here. This is the place to really try and reel them in and have them want to read more and more.
  5. And following up on horn tooting-do you have any testimonials from others that you’d like to share?
  6. Make it personal-don’t forget people love to hear “the story” as I said we all have a reason for starting our blogs so this is the place to open your front door and say “come on in” and let me share my story with you. However, remember this is not the place to write the whole long story of your life, make it brief and understandable.
  7. Make it about THEM-  Everyone likes to feel wanted
  8. Make sure they know how to “keep in touch”.-Leave links to just about every way you want to be contacted and make sure you add a subscribe via RSS somewhere to the page.

Share your reworked About Me page with us!  We’d love to see what’s happening on your blog.  Just leave a link to your page below. I will be tweeting out the URLs this week on Twitter using the hashtag #shelleypbreview
 

Oprah still can teach you something about yourself

forgive

Yesterday morning a new bloggy buddy of mine who I had the pleasure of traipsing around San Diego with at blogher, tweeted me that she was on the train heading for the windy city of Chicago. I thought “hmmm wonder what she is heading there for and I think I even asked while getting caught up in our “how are you, miss you kind of conversations.” And in the midst of all the pleasantries somehow the name Oprah came out… and silly me I didn’t put two and two together until um 9:45PM EST… When I thought maybe I should hit Oprah on the computer and low and behold came across Oprah’s Life Class… *where my friend was taping the show!

Now, a little background on my “Oprah” relationship. I love Oprah, well maybe not “love” but I certainly do admire her, she is a real person who shares her real life vulnerabilities to the world publicly… On the personal side… My husband got the “call” from Oprah’s right hand woman Heather Aldridge, and yes, he “missed” the call because he was in the bathroom. The bathroom! Can you imagine? He tried to call Heather back, but when you get that call… if you miss that call…. That is it…. We know she has a “file” on our family… but… we missed “that” shot… however… it doesn’t mean maybe someday we won’t get another… I hope, said with fingers crossed.

Anyhow, back to Oprah and what she is doing now and how it has once again touched my little life… Life Class… She is hosting shows on various “life lessons” and last night’s…

Forgiveness

Um, once again that fairy in the sky, somehow hit me through my friend and I tuned in… Boy was this show right up my alley with where I am now with my anxiety and panicking… Just yesterday while working with my doctor we came up with the “where” my anxiety comes from… Trust… lack of trust…*which is a whole different post However, I wanted to share some very powerful statements that came out of last night’s lesson on anger and forgiveness..

“Forgiveness is accepting that it has happened, not accepting that it was ok for it to happen”…

“Releasing anger allows beauty to come back into your life.”

“If you allow the past to define your present, you never get to live the life you were meant to live.” 

“Forgiveness is letting go so that the PAST does not hold you hostage.

Control is the #1 human addiction.

I thought the end of this show was so inspirational and hit me so hard I stayed up until 11pm EST to watch the repeat of the show. You can find Oprah’s Life class online and you can even join in if you would like. I am just happy to have caught this to end my day with finally a “smile!”

How about you, forgiveness, how do you feel? Has it affected your life?