A FitBit of Encouragement

15 Sep

Last year I was excited when I lost 30 pounds when I went a very restrictive diet. The problem with dieting like that is that you don’t learn how to really eat and exercise, so it comes as no surprise that I have gained all of that weight back. My diet is much better than it had been in the past, but I had gotten lazy. I haven’t been to the gym very much lately and found that I needed something to get me encourage me to get up and move. So I purchased the FitBit One.
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Target and Neimans must be Crazy

30 Nov
Neiman Marcus Target Collection

Click to view the collection

I was excited when I first heard about the Neimans and Target collaboration. I was thinking that it was going to be as exciting as the Missoni collection that debuted last fall and crashed their website. The Missoni line featured their signature style but at high end Target prices. Most pieces were under $40 and looked great. Of course there was some wacky things like a $400 bike, but most things were budget friendly and totally usable.

The Neiman Marcus collection at Target will be officially available for sale Saturday, December 1, 2012. It has been hyped up a lot, even creating spots on my favorite TV show Revenge. The main marketing message is that you can get items from these exclusive Neiman designers at Target. Maybe this is great for people that don’t live within a decent area of a Neimans, but considering there’s one within 20 minutes of me, its not that much of a draw.

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I made it, so it’s my recipe

19 Nov

I swear my grandma Vi was the queen of “Almost Homemade.” I didn’t even realize that  a lot of the thing that she cooked wasn’t homemade, because she always said that it was. As the holiday’s come around, I’m really starting to miss hanging around my grandmother’s kitchen table as we “almost” make a dinner/dessert for everyone.

Her favorite dishes to pull off as homemade were cakes and pies. She would get a box cake mix. Throw in a stick of butter, an extra egg and some vanilla extract. If she was trying to make a pound cake, she’d add a box of instant pudding. Or if she put some canned icing in the microwave, it became “her” glaze.

The berry cobbler. I think I was about 12 when I remember what she actually did with this cobbler to make it “homemade.” I may have seen her do this in the past, but this was the first time I really noticed what she was doing. She bought a Marie Callender’s Berry Cobbler. She let the pie unthaw on the counter. She then carefully removed the top crust of the pie. Sliced up some butter and added some sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Put the crust back on with an egg wash. After baking, she proudly told everyone she made the pie from “scratch.”

I really miss baking with my grandmother. I know she’d be proud of me and how far I’ve come along in baking. My first time I baked cookies for Christmas, they were as hard as rocks. When I asked her what I did wrong, she promptly said, “you have to use real butter baby. That margarine just don’t work for cooking.”

When ever I find myself reaching for a box of cake mix or brownies, I make sure to add a little something to make it mine. As Grandma Vi said, “if it came out of my oven, it was homemade.”

So You Think You’re an Event Planner

16 Oct

Having worked in Public Relations for over seven years, I’ve realized that PR burn out happens to many of us. When you decide to work in public relations, you are first excited by the thought of glamorous parties, meeting people and the late nights. What no one tells you about are the long days that you have to put in to have a successful event.

When freelancing or working in a small company/department, there are less people to delegate responsibilities to, and you the workload gets crazy before the event. I recently found myself running around Detroit’s City Hall in order to get tent and food permits, changing tents last minute because the tent people did the walk through the day before the event (that was a little my fault), managing RSVP’s and reaching out to the media.

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Time (line) is Almost Here

12 Mar

Many people are dreading the timeline feature on Facebook, but most marketers are looking forward to its roll out. There isn’t much longer to wait, timelines will be activated for all Facebook brand pages on March 30, 2012. So ready or not, it’s coming to your page. How will this affect your company’s page and how will this be different from the current brand pages? Be ready for the timeline activation so that it will truly represent your brand. In fact, Facebook is giving you the opportunity to play with your timeline and view it before you publish it live.

I believe that the Facebook Timeline may be a social media marketers dream. The timeline feature allows brands to highlight important moments in the company history. Pictures will also be much more prominent on the pages. Since Facebook has more pictures uploaded to its site than any other website, this is a great way to feature images with the brand.

Here are some tips and tricks so that your brand page is ready for March 30th:

  • Choose your cover photo and logo – Gone are the long images that you could use for a profile image. With timeline you can really brand yourself and show off at the same time. However, there are some rules with the cover photo:
    • The cover photo is large and will stretch across the page. It’s best to size your cover photo to 851 px by 315 px.  Anything smaller will be stretched.
    • It’s best to use your logo as the profile image. The size for the profile picture is 125 x 125 pixels.
    • Facebook wants the cover photo to be visual and does not want you to include the following
      • Calls to action, for example “Get it Now” or “Tell Your Friends”
      • You can’t ask users to Like or Share your page
      • No contact information, including your website, phone number, email or twitter handle, all of this information can be included on your “About” page
      • Prices or purchasing information such as “40% off” or “Download it on thiswebsite.com”
      • You can not encourage other users to download your cover photo
      • Photo cannot infringe on copyrights, it is best to use an image that represents your company and a photo that is owned by your organization
  • Wall is Home – When Timeline is activated on your page, the default landing page will be your wall. This is why your cover photo is important, this will be the first thing your fans see. 
    • Fans posts are no longer prominent. If you have one of those fans that constantly posting on your wall and pushing your brand posts down, this is perfect. Now all posts by others are featured in one box on the right hand side.
    • Keep important information at the top of your page by pinning it to the top of your page. The post will stay at the top of the page for seven days or until you remove it. You can also re-pin the post to the top after seven days. To pin the post, go all the way to the right of the post where is says “Edit or Remove” and select “Pin to Top.”
    • Highlighting a post, the start located next to “Edit or Remove” is best for pictures. The highlighted post will spread across the entire page and appear more prominently that other posts.
    • Frea
  • Tabs are gone – All of your Apps that you have featured on the left side of your page will now be located under your cover photo.
    • Only four applications can be featured at a time and one of those will be your photos. So really there are only three apps that you can choose to be shown at all times. Choose the apps/pages that you most want your fans to visit.
    • There is a more button that will feature all of your applications and there is the ability to rearrange the apps.
    • Events, notes and number of likes are some of the apps that can be featured. Decide if you use these features most often or if you use other applications. For example, feature events if you host a lot of events.
    • All of your apps from your current page will be in your app toolbar.
  • Mark your timeline– This may be one of the best features of the new roll out.
    • Under status update, select “Milestone” and type in the date, notes and and a picture or video.
    • Mark all of the important dates in your brands history, from launch/opening to new developments and any other milestones you would like to be featured.
    • Milestone events will be located on the timeline on the right side of the page. The milestone will appear when someone clicks on the year of that event. Now your fans will be able to see the history of your brand.

There are many more features for the new Facebook timeline, but this should be a great way to get you prepared before your page is automatically switched over.

Links to check out:

Birthday Freebies!

30 Jul

When you’re young, you look forward to your birthday. Having a birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese or the skating rink. Even a backyard party with all your friends and family with some cake and ice cream. It seems like the mound of presents just keeps growing as every new guest comes enters. And you wait patiently until you can rip off the wrapping paper with fury. You don’t often know which gift came from whom, but at that age, who cares?

Well once you get older, you realized that you no longer get gifts from everyone. That the day you were born isn’t that important to everyone. Your birthday is just another day. Often you have to remind people that your big day is coming up.

But guess who doesn’t forget my birthday? All the stores and restaurants that I frequent! As my birthday approaches I get excited for the emails and cards from different places offering me freebies. So if you still want to feel like a kid opening up a ton of presents, be sure to sign up for these birthday clubs:

  • Cold Stone Creamery – They email you a coupon for one free small ice cream
  • Red Robin – Emails you a coupon for a free burger of your choice
  • Hungry Howies – sent an email for a free medium pizza with a $5 purchase
  • Victoria’s Secret – They send a card that varies each year. Last year I got a free lip gloss, this year $10 off any purchase
  • JC Penny – Mailed a certificate for $15 off any purchase $15 or more
  • Biggby Coffee – Mails a postcard for a free coffee of you choice
  • Boston Market – emailed a coupon for a free dessert with any individual meal purchase
  • Benihana – Join “The Chef’s Table” and receive a Benihana Birthday Dinner certificate worth $30 to use during the month of your birthday.
  • Bob’s Big Boy – Get a free hot fudge ice cream on your birthday.
  • Famous Daves BBQ – Free food coupon via email on your birthday when you join the Famous Dave’s P.I.G. Club (could be free cake, an appetizer, or some ribs!).
  • TGI Friday’s – Receive a coupon for a free appetizer to use on your birthday

Remember, for most of these offers you will need a valid email address and printer to print out the coupons. Also a lot of these coupons have just a two week time frame in which to use them. Some give you until the end of the month. I see my birthday week as a week I really don’t have to cook anymore. But It may be loaded with a lot of calories.

I suggest using Yahoo mail. They have a great system with disposable email addresses, where you can set up to 50 different email addresses. That way I have all of these places going to one folder and email account. All of these companies will send you emails at least monthly or for other promotional items. But you can also set up email addresses for other newsletters that you get. And at anytime if you start getting too much spam, you can delete the email account, without affecting your main account or other disposable email addresses you have created. Just remember to send you coupons to an account that you will check.

It’s Almost Here…My Birthday

30 Jul

Ugh, I’m turning 30 in just one week. I’m trying to think of it in a positive manner. As Jay-Z said “30 is the new 20”. Plus I figure I start saying I’m 30 now, it won’t be so bad when the big day arrives next week.

But wouldn’t it be great if everything you’ve learned by 30, you had known when you were 20. What I’ve learned about friends, family, relationships, careers, finances would have been wonderful to know 10 years ago. I believe I would have been much better off. I think most of would have. However as one of my favorite quotes says:

“Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.”  ~Rita Mae Brown

I probably would have made changes in what I’ve done with my career. I was in school for several years as I worked full time as a secretary. I wish I would have just went to school full time and finished my degree sooner. Most likely I would have progressed much further in my career by this age.

I definaltely would not have been so inpatient or unforgiving of family or friends. It’s taken these years for me to realize to stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t hold grudges, because that person may not be here tomorrow. And it’s hard to apologize once they’re gone. I’ve also learned how to let go of the toxic people in my life and to keep the positive people in my inner circle.

I can say that I wouldn’t have wasted some valuable years on relationships that really weren’t going anywhere, or with that loser guy. Now as I have watched so many of my friends getting married or having kids, I wonder if it will happen for me. But then I know people that have waited until well into their 30’s to get married or have kids, and it seems as though are some of the most stable relationships.

I know I should have invested more money in my retirement account, because there will no money left in social security when I retire. I also wish I wouldn’t have taken out so many student loans, or gotten so many credit cards when I first got to college. I only wish that in lower income school districts that they would have spent time to discuss credit and finances. It seems like the population that could use the education the most on finances, are the people that get ignored.

But every up and down has been a learning experience, and from those I have grown. Now all I can do is try to give others advice on the things I have learned. But as I talk to my teenage brothers and cousins, I often feel I’m being ignored. I guess everyone has to learn from their own mistakes. But I know I would have appreciated someone teaching me a thing or two.