Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Date Night Challenge: Julia Child's Boef a la Mode

My husband and I love to cook and the one cookbook we did not have on our shelf was one from the plucky Julia Child.

My date night challenge was to cook my first Julia Child recipe - and considering I am not one for boiling crustaceans alive, or boning a duck . . . I chose her Boef a la Mode. Simple right? *aaaant Wrong. It would take time and patience.

This bad boy needed to marinate for 24 hours and there was a lot of prep that went into this recipe.

I did what any servant-less American cook would do . . .  I put on Julie and Julia and started chopping, measuring and trimming.

The one challenge was finding a wine that we both would agree on (my husband is a bourbon man) and still stay within our budget.

I found a Chateau la Pierriere 2010, which is a Cotes de Bordeaux appellation. This appellation was launched back in '08 and includes the four existing appellations Premières Côtes de Blaye, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Francs. (source)

Truth be told is was one we should have kept on the rack for a while, but after allowing it to breathe a bit, it was a nice compliment to the flood of flavor the Boef a la Mode offered.

The wine I chose to cook with (a favorite sulfite free wine) is Pacific Redwood - This allowed me to be sneeze free during our meal due to the 5 cups of wine called for in the recipe and I love that this is a wine my husband and I can enjoy together.

After waiting the 24 hours and turning the beef in the marinade it was finally time to cook!

While the marinade was reducing by half, I had time to set our table and light candles throughout the house. There is something that is so comforting in candlelight and a home cooked meal. It strips away the technology tensions and offers an oasis in flavor and family that no website or social network could bring.

With the smell of the browned beef wafting out of the kitchen and filling the house with what I can only describe as a smell I have not experienced since visiting my Grandmother nearly 20 years ago . . . I thought about how rare the act of cooking meals like this are for most people. I mean really, who has time to spend a few hours in the kitchen after a full day at work and wait 24 hours for something to marinade? Most people I know regularly eat food that is fast, now and done. . . not necessarily because they want to but because that is all they have time for. Sadly we tend to view eating as a chore instead of something to be savored.

That is why this 'date night challenge' was so important to me. I wanted for us to slow down, for me to understand the valued place the kitchen is as a team - the care and patience that goes into preparing meals and bring us, as a couple and a family, back to the dinner table.

Now is this particular meal one we would have regularly? No. But it is one I would make at least once a quarter and with great joy.

The details in making date night special for us are simple ones. . . from the flowers that come from our back yard to the indulgence in fresh fruit and stinky cheese. (The stinkier the better!) As Jonathan Smith says it's the "surprise joy" that makes the moment one you will treasure.

What made our date night complete was the music by the band The Ball and Chain that was sent to us by a twitter friend @doorhardwarelux. A surprise joy of true musical talent from a husband and wife team!

So what did I take away from my 'date night challenge'?

Not only did I learn to cook and amazing meal by Julia Child (thank you dear husband for all of your help!) but I learned what it means to slow down and enjoy the act of creating a memorable meal.

More importantly I learned to appreciate how friendship can travel miles and be part of a special celebration and how it is the small, kind acts that are the glue that holds relationships together.

If you want to try this recipe you can find it here. Be sure to let me know how your 'date night challenge' goes!


Check out the amazing husband and wife that is The Ball and Chain - pretty sure you will enjoy them as much as we have!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Leverage to Make Things Happen

The leverage to make things happen starts in your own mind.

Now some may say, "If I only had Widget X, everything would go this way, the way I hope it will go, but probably won't."

Instead learning from actions and leveraging the lessons that ultimately keep us moving forward to think and grow in new ways, we can get stuck in a never ending cycle of "I need _____ in order to ______."

We are faced each day with thousands of opportunities and these split second decisions that we can leverage to reach our goals are often over looked or put on hold because we are waiting on something.

When we stand at the cross roads of 'This Way' or 'That Way' without making a decision, without leaping . . .  we ultimately build road blocks that keep our goals just out of reach.

Thinking differently and taking action is a daily commitment.

Breaking our mind free from hyper critical reactions, unrealistic expectations, unnecessary grudges, negative self speak, vague communication, snap judgements and having an overall Eeyore attitude is a life long challenge.

Understand that your personal commitment to any given goal or task will determine the outcome . .  . good or bad.

The leverage to make things happen (or not) is in every action, every word and every gesture we make.


"The Road Not Taken"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Over-communicated : How We Are Sharing More Than We Think

What was one of the first things you did this morning when you woke up?

If you answered checking and updating your social networks - you are not alone. In the last few years social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest (just to name a few) have made it easy to share nearly everything you do, what products you like or don't like, places you go and non profits you support. There really is very little about our personal and professional lives that we can't share online.

We have become the over-communicated society. 

And that is exactly what advertisers want to hear. As consumers, the information we share online, willingly, is gold for those companies who are listening - even more valuable is the data that we don't know we are sharing as an example, when we casually accept User Terms. Seriously, when was the last time you read EVERY page of User Terms of Agreement before clicking accept? Yeah, I didn't think so.

According to the Borrell report, 2012 will see online advertising grow by 18% with a whopping 88% of all local online advertising being viewed on mobile devices. This information is great - but what is disturbing to me is the one thing left out of this data - the amount of private information collected on consumers.

Let's take, for example, Facebook and the text messages of smart phone users who downloaded their app that they admit to (and they now deny) reading. No, I am not kidding.

There is big business in spying on our online activity.

The smart phone we are love to take with us everywhere and use share everything we do (well we think almost everything) is in fact selling us out. Imagine the millions of spying smart phones. All of those apps that you think you can't live without are only fronts to data mining - which is BIG business. Who knew! I don't know about you, but I think it's time to weed out some of the hundreds of apps I've downloaded and never use that may be more interested in me than I am in them. 

It seems as though we the consumer are willingly, offering up a very personal look into our everyday lives. Even understanding the potential for snooping and doing our best to try to prevent it we can still unknowingly be communicating information. If you've been keeping up on the news, you may remember learning that Facebook users were unaware that their web adventures were being tracked online, even after "logging out". More recently Facebook's frictionless sharing, is causing a stir because though it is different from Beacon, it is still up to you to turn the "social" sharing action off.

This is a perfect example of how, in our excitement to share our message, update, picture or latest location - we are indeed sharing more than we think. As RT rightly points out "even the most stringent regulation will not save users who voluntarily sign up to give away their most private data."


A book that is now on my must read list :  The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow

From Mr. Turow's interview with NPR he shares :

In the future, Turow says, you might be placed into "reputation silos" by advertisers, who will then market products to you accordingly.

"It has a lot of ramifications of how we see ourselves and how we see other people," he says. "... And this is part of another issue we have to think about, which is information respect. Companies that don't respect our information and where it comes from are not respecting us, and I think moving into this new world, we have to have a situation where human beings define their own ability to be themselves."


What are your concerns about privacy and the internet?

How can we participate in social media and still protect our online privacy?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Power of Words : How Quotes Keep us Inspired, Motivated and Focused

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic As many of you know - I love quotes. Heck, I even come up with some good ones myself.

My love of quotes came from my dad who used to find quotes in newspapers and mail them to me when ever he was on the road. After he passed, my mom would send them to me. Even my favorite tea has quotes on the tag!

It seems that quotes find a way of instantly connecting us when we share them.

We all have our favorite collection of words that we know, no matter what, they will inspire us, motivate us and remind us of the direction we should be facing. When we share our favorite quotes we also share the power that they hold for us.

This quote was given to me years ago by a woman I met when I lived in New York. I see it everyday and everyday I not only think of her - I think of Helen Keller and what they both taught me about the power of words. 


What is your favorite quote?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From 6 to 16

I've been writing this post for months now - never quite sure when it would be finished, but knowing that I had to write it.

Recently I read a tweet by Lucretia Pruitt that shared Margaret Cho's eloquent rant to Karl Lagerfeld. I agree with Lucretia that Margaret's message should be to the whole industry.

To get you up to speed -  Karl is in hot water because of his ugly comment regarding the phenomenal Grammy Winning singer Adele being "a little bit fat."

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Adele backstage at the 54th annual Grammy Awards

I can't tell you how amazing it was to read Margaret Cho's article . . . she was saying everything I have felt about an industry that convinces women they are not beautiful unless they are a size 0. And Adele's response to his cutting remarks was spot on.

Why is it that some people insist on making a woman's dress size relevant to her accomplishments? 

Some of you may be wondering why I am so passionate about this . . . well, this should help you understand a bit more. . .

Most of my life I have been tall and lanky. At 5'10" I have spent most of my life at about 130-135lbs. And full disclosure - I have more bins of clothes in my attic that are a size 6 than any other size. Call me crazy - but I'm with Margaret - I just cant get rid of them. I am still thinking that one day I'll fit into my favorite Calvin Klein suit or slip on that silk Ralph Lauren gown again.

Some people have suggested that I just go out and buy new "favorite" pieces - and to that I say - you obviously have not tried to find anything for a younger woman in a size 16.

Me at Size 6
You see, it wasn't until I quit smoking nearly 3 years ago that I started to gain weight. Add to that getting married, starting a new business, a few family health scares and deaths and, well . . . let's just say I did not make much time for me.

Thankfully I have a husband who tells me everyday how beautiful I am.

But to be realistic about the obstacles I have to overcome to believe him - as a woman I am conditioned at a young age that I am never good enough as I am.

My hair needs more bounce, my freckles need to be covered up, my skin tone needs evened out, my teeth aren't straight enough . . . I could keep going.

The fashion industry and magazines constantly tell me that I should be thin and young looking for as long as I can pay a doctor to cut, snip, inject and enlarge or starve myself into a designer suit.

For the love of all things sane . . . teenagers and young women that barely eat - are trotted down runways and used by design houses to convince 30+ year old women they need to buy their products.

The next time you go to a grocery store, take a minute to look at the rag mags on the end caps and tell me if you met ANY of those people in person that they would look the way they are 'packaged' to sell a fake ideal. (Some of you may remember the Ralph Lauren model, Filippa Hamilton used in this horribly photoshopped ad that got fired for being too fat at 120lbs. You heard me. 120lbs.)

Me at a size 16
Hell, gain a little weight and the first thing people say is "When are you due" (yes that happened to me.) And no a half hearted apology won't cut it.

So, like Adele, I have no time for people who are so consumed by mean vanity that they use weight gain to try and embarrass people publicly. Petty remarks tell more about the person who says them than the person they are trying to hurt. 

Will I ever be a size 6 again? Maybe, Maybe not . . . but I can guarantee you that my happiness is not dependent on my dress size and neither is my success.

As I am discovering and growing into my authentic self, I see that the people I surround myself with love me just the way I am - whether I am a 6 or a 16.


Thank you Margaret for taking the time to share your frustration and outrage with a clenched jaw and justified disgust.

Thank you Adele for being a role model for all women who fight every day to maintain a positive self image and for standing up to the people who try to politely destroy it. Your beauty and strength is just what this world needs.

Thank you Lucretia for sharing the post and pointing out that we do indeed have an industry of "not good enough" that should be ignored.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe: Pinterest Inspired Breakfast Bites

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I love getting creative with breakfast. But I don't always have time to go full on Julia Child - This recipe is a fast fun alternative to your regular breakfast biscuits!

Normally my husband would insist on making the biscuit dough but typically Sundays are my day to cook & I chose to take the short cut with canned biscuits on this one.

I was inspired by this pin on pinterest for taco cupcakes and wanted to try it with breakfasty ingredients. 

Safe to say that this recipe will be one I use at least twice a month if not more. I could even see altering this recipe with home made dough and smaller cup cake trays for party size spicy sausage bites!

You can keep these tasty treats in the refrigerator for those mornings when you may not have time to fix breakfast or even freeze them & microwave them later. But fresh is best in my book!


Makes : 10 Breakfast bites

Time : 30 Minutes start to finish

Ingredients : 

One can (10) biscuits
1/3 brick of Neese's Sausage (Regular)
4 eggs
2 tbs water
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheese (up to you)
1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Tomato Powder
1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Cantanzaro Herbs (Salt-Free)

Directions :

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease cupcake tray and set aside.

Over medium high heat tear apart sausage into small pieces and fry until browned. Once cooked add 1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Cantanzaro Herbs (Salt-Free) and set aside.

In small mixing bowl whisk 4 eggs, 2 tbs of water, 1/2 tbs Savory Spice Shop Tomato Powder and 1/4 cup sour cream until smooth and frothy.

By hand, take each biscuit and pat thin. Lay into cupcake tin and gently press to mold into shape. Be mindful of the air bubbles!

Spoon in sausage into bottom of each cup.

Add egg mixture with small ladle being careful not to over fill!

Top off with cheese. 

Bake :

Place cupcake tray on a large cookie sheet (trust me on this one, I nearly set off every smoke detector in the house!) 

Bake for 11-15 minutes in the center of the oven. You may need to add a few more minutes until browned on top and the egg is cooked through.

Just be careful not to burn them!


What are some of your favorite, fast breakfast recipes?

Have you been inspired to create something fun by something yummy you saw on pinterest?

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Gift of a Smile

This morning I was thinking about how grateful I am every time I see a family or friend smile.

Smiling is the barometer of our inner happiness. Now we all have seen the plastic "I'm only doing this because I have to" smiles that hang on faces like a bad Halloween mask. How do those make you feel? Not so good right?

It's just a fact that you just can't fake the warmth that a genuine smile brings.

 Is it easy to smile every day? Hell no. Sometimes it's easier to put on the bad Halloween mask of a fake smile and hope for the best. But if you can see and feel that smile mask when others wear it - they can see yours too.

Today I decided to give my self a gift. . . I wrote down a few things that make me smile to keep with me. The idea is that when I want to smile the least - I can look at this piece of paper and bring my focus back to a more positive place - one of gratitude and true inner happiness.

Now is smiling going to solve the worlds problems? Probably not, but it sure would be nice if more people gave it a try.


Here is a great list of why we all should be smiling more! : Top 10 Reasons to Smile

What makes you smile?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Refresh and Renew : Brand Inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens

I received my second issue of my new subscription to Better Homes and Gardens yesterday and as I sat down this morning to explore and be inspired, I was struck by the mantra "Refresh & Renew".

It seemed timely and relevant for me - not only for my future home projects that the writers, photographers, producers & stylists have inspired - but also because of the focus of my last few presentations on personal professional branding as well as blog posts on some do's & don'ts.

Is it possible to inspire people to refresh & renew their brand the same way BHG inspires me to refresh & renew my home?

That is a challenge I'd like to take up. I want to share those personal professional brands that inspire me, and make me want to sit down at my kitchen table and sketch out what I want my personal professional brand to be.

Who inspires you?

Have you started to refresh & renew your personal brand? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Twitter: What's in a Name?

What's your twitter name? Mine is @dhatfield.

This past weekend I had the honor or presenting with Linkedin pro @RRWade to the Triad Association of Black Journalists to discuss personal professional branding for journalists on the campus of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.  We even had @frugalista share a tweet chat with us to share how she transitioned out of debt and into a brand she built while a journalist for the Miami Herald.

During my presentation, I mentioned that while building your personal professional brand it's important to use the name that the public knows you by, when you purchase your domain name for your website, when you create/change your twitter handle, grab your custom URL on Facebook or Linkedin or any other social site for that matter. Consistency is key and creating a personal brand should be approached with careful planning and attention to detail.

As John Robinson pointed out during my presentation via a tweet to Sheeka Strickland of Fox 8 News (she was @fox8sheeka then @sheekaStricklan and now @Sheeka_S) and , it's not a good idea to misspell your twitter name. And I agree 100%. When building a personal professional brand use your full name - spelled correctly - and only your name when ever possible. But there is often a frustrating catch to that very sound advice . . .

Many people may not know that twitter has a limit of 15 characters for your user name. I was faced with the same dilemma as Sheeka Strickland and many other people with long names who wanted to use their real name to build a personal brand but didn't have enough room!

Let's say that instead of being Jane Smith where @janesmith and  /janesmith usernames and custom URL's come easy to you, consider your challenge if you are are Janet Smithsonian, and while trying to create your twitter handle you notice that your name is cut off to @janetsmithsonia . . . what to do?

Whether you are a journalist, anchor or professional looking for a job - when building a personal professional brand - having a twitter handle that reflects your real name is best, but be aware that you will be faced with some tough decisions if your name is already taken or too long for Twitter and you may have to get creative.

Say your name has already been taken online . . . as an example if @tiffjonesjourno was interested in changing/creating her professional twitter profile name - Naturally I would first think to recommend @tiffanyjones, @tiffanysjones or @tiffany_jones , hell even @thetiffanyjones but sadly ALL of those are already taken. Can you see the challenge Tiffany faced when she created her account on July 29, 2009? Finding a real name combination that still let's people know its really you, that's memorable and represents your personal professional brand is at times a huge challenge. What Tiffany faced is a perfect example of how building a personal professional brand may not be as easy as it looks and that it will take time and some decision making while creating and building brand consistency.

Remember that you may not be able to use your full name every where online. So before making any changes spend some time planning out your online identity and ask your peers/mentors if what you have chosen best represents your personal professional brand.

Way back when I was setting up my twitter account, my name was cut off and I had to decide quickly what I was going to do with @daniellehatfiel. Do I go with @danielleh or @hatfieldd, it was so frustrating to only be short one letter!! That's the rub with folks who have long names, we have to decide between our first or last and at times a mix of both. (and pray they aren't taken already!)

I ended up going with @dhatfield as my user name and thankfully my whole name fit in the 20 character limit for my real name.

One piece of advice for those of you considering changing your twitter handle or creating a new personal professional brand account, carefully think about your decision. If you are a journalist, having a twitter handle with your station id or newspaper name in your handle is fine - but to be clear that is NOT your personal professional brand. You are you and will always be you. . . you may not work for the same station or newspaper for the rest of your career.

My husband @brandonpierce also has a great piece of advice to add too - don't change your avatar and twitter name (if you decide to change it) all at once . . . the folks that know and love your tweets may not know who the heck you are! 

Before you change anything you may want to send out a tweet with your old twitter handle and new avatar (once you have confirmed your desired username is available) of your new name online. Then make the switch. 

If you do decide to chance your user name - set up and save a twitter search for your old twitter user name and keep an eye on those who may mention you. You don't want to miss out on any tweets!

Here are some great articles about building your personal brand: 

HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on Twitter

The Brand Called You | Fast Company

7 Steps For Building Your Personal Brand Online - Investopedia.com

Eight Steps to Building Your Personal Brand | Monster

90 Tiny Tips to Build Your Personal Brand | OnlineMBA

Building your personal brand and profile

Professional Branding: Building Your Personal Brand


Do you have a long name that didn't fit in the 15 character Twitter limit? 

How did you come up with handle for your personal professional brand?

Are you using your full name when you can across the web to help build your personal professional brand? 

Do you know someone who is doing it well? Share it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bringing Home Bricolage

Anne Willson 
It feels like it's been ages since Bricolage, a Greensboro community arts space offering re-purposed materials for local artists and arts workshops by local artists closed it's doors after just 2 years.

From Wikipedia :: The term “bricolage” is borrowed from the French word bricolage, from the verb bricoler, the core meaning in French being, "fiddle, tinker" and, by extension, "to make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)". A person who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur.

I am a bricoleur. And even though Bricolage is closed :: and I will not be able to pop in to see Anne Willson's smiling face . . . what she taught me will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Anne had a vision. She offered our community an eco and people friendly environment to explore creativity.

John Skau's Wood Strips
In her own words "The mission of Bricolage is to inspire and support creativity in the Piedmont Triad. We achieve this by providing low-cost re-purposed materials, workshops, affordable space for creative activities, and projects that generate the production of new art works by community members. Our programs support residents of all ages and skill levels to experience creativity so as to strengthen the individuals and their communities, and to help sustain our local cultural resources."

Helping the community.

I had the honor to work with Anne on John Skau’s Wood: A Point of Departure.

John Skau, a respected world renowned local artist passed away in October of 2007, leaving behind a shop full of materials he would have used to create his amazing works. John’s wife, Judy West, donated much of the wood to Bricolage - with the hopes of literally weaving John’s wood into the community. Anne, Lynne and Myself worked together with over 20+ local artists to honor John's memory. We were his weavers. We were Bricoleurs.

So when I went shopping at Bricolage for the last time. . .

I wanted to bring Bricolage home. I wanted to surround my self with things that would remind me of the friendships I gained, the lessons in giving I learned . . . and the motto that Anne had on display in the window that gave me, and probably many others, that boost that we needed every single visit . . .

"What would you do if you knew you would never fail?"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Success Habits : 7 Ways to Reach Your Goals

:: The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit.

He must be quick to break those habits that can break him - and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires. - J. Paul Getty

I found this quote as I was reading Jack Canfield's book The Success Principles. . . It was interesting to learn that 90% of our behavior is habitual. 90 percent!

"What ever habits you currently have established are producing your current level of results." 

This is such a simple idea. How many of us have areas in our lives that could use more productive habits? I think the most intimidating thing when recognizing something needs changing is knowing what to do next. There is no manual for our specific needs, wants or dreams and how to achieve them . . . or is there?

If you want to be a chef - where do you start? In the kitchen right? You buy recipe books and spend your free time buying the tools. You start baking, cooking and learning how to become a gourmet chef until you can produce a 5 course meal for 6 people in your sleep.

Regardless of where you need more productive habits - I think the success habits you are searching for can be found when you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, from short term to larger long term goals, and consistently performing the actions necessary to reach them.

"Success is a matter of understanding and religiously practicing specific, simple habits that always lead to success." - Robert J. Ringer, Author of Million Dollar Habits 

One great take away from my reading of Principle 34 . . . "Good or bad, habits always deliver results." How true!

Below are 7 ways I have helped myself reach my goals. I sure hope they help inspire you!

Success Habits : 7 Ways to Reach Your Goals

  1. Start with identifying the most important specific things you are doing that need improvement. 
  2. Go through your list and come up with at least 3 alternative actions for each item that could help you change the bad habits.
  3. On note cards (or on the note pad on your phone), write out each specific thing that needs improvement with the alternative actions. Each day review these actions - over breakfast, waiting in line at the grocer, Lunch . . . when ever you have time to review them. Knowing where you can improve and learning an alternative response that then becomes a success habit takes time.
  4. Have 100% commitment to your goals. Stand firm and don't give in. . . you are the most persuasive person when you don't want to do something, are too tired, or don't have enough time. Stick with it. Results take time. 
  5. Stay motivated. Read books & blogs by people that inspire you. Subscribe to magazines, take classes, reach out to and find a mentor. Go through your social networks and create the environment you need to achieve your goals. That means unfriending or friending, unfollowing or following until you have the right balance for each social network you use on a daily basis. Each network is a unique environment. Because so many use social sites on a daily basis - making your online experience one that will help you stay motivated, positive and on task is up to you!
  6. Drink plenty of water. I know some of you are asking - "What the hell does this have to do with success habits?" Well, let me tell you. Water plays a vital role in healthy brain function. So put down that soda, tea or coffee and make a commitment to drink half your body weight in ounces daily.  How can you develop your new success habits if you can't focus?
  7. Review your results regularly. If you start to see that your new success habits are producing the results you had hoped for *woo hoo! Congratulations! It's time for you to add a new goal to your list. If not, it's time to review your alternate actions that you came up with (# 2) and hit reset. Just because you didn't see the results you wanted with one action - it doesn't mean that the situation is hopeless and success can't be yours. 
In an article published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in July of 2009, researchers stated that "The time it took participants to reach 95% of their asymptote of automaticity ranged from 18 to 254 days; indicating considerable variation in how long it takes people to reach their limit of automaticity and highlighting that it can take a very long time."  So if you want to banish bad habits - be patient and stay committed!

I have to say that Jack Canfield has some amazing FREE resources over at The Success Principles to get you started on your new success habits! 


Share the success habits you have developed!

How do you stay motivated to reach your goals on a daily basis?

Friday, January 6, 2012

DIY : Farmers Market Shopping Bag

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I love finding new ways to create unique, one of a kind, items.

When at the store a few months back I noticed this clothesline and thought it would make a great shopping bag - specifically a farmers market bag. . . something that would give under the weight of fresh veggies and clean up easily with a quick rinse and a shake.

The biggest challenge was unwinding the cords. I can tell you now that I had to employ the help of my husband and even with his help I admit to creating a few new curse words over the 4 days it took to unravel enough line to finish the bag. . . but it was *completely worth it!

I did not write down my stitches as I went - but here is the general idea that can get you started making your own farmers market shopping bag. . . and when you finish it - be sure to share it with me! I would love to see your variation of this idea!

Before you get started here is a great glossary of crocheting/knitting terms from the folks over at Lion Brand that will help you. (I am by no means an expert at the whole directions bit)

:: Materials :: 

8-10 3 ply 50ft poly clothesline (each unwound)
N (9.00MM) Crochet hook
a patient helper

:: Directions ::

Start by chaining 8 and connecting with a sl stitch.

Rd 1 : 12-15 single st all the way around, connect with a sl stich and ch 2

Rd  2 : Continue single st. around oval - adding 2 sc in each 3 sc on ends to build up oval shape.

Rd 3 - 15 Continue to increase by adding 2 sc on ends until oval base is large enough size. It is up to you on how large you make this bag.

To start building sides : Double Crochet once around base once. (see image to the left) Connect with a sl. stitch.

Rd 15 - ? Continue around with one single crochet connecting with a sl stitch and chaining two to start next row. Double Crochet each round connecting with a sl. stitch and chaining two to start next row until depth of bag is reached.

I sized down as I neared the top and final rows to give the bag a more tapered look by decreasing a few stitches midway up the bag height.

Handles :: I crocheted a "mini scarf" and stitched on the handles vs. crocheting them on. You can do this by chaining 5 and double crocheting back and forth until you have the right length for your bag.

Here is a great tutorial on how to make a double crochet ::


What items have you made using unusual or re-purposed items?

Do you shop your local farmers market? If so do you have special bag you use to shop?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So You Just Joined a Linkedin Group : Top 5 Tips for New Members

More than 100 million professionals are using Linkedin with the leading industry of being high tech with 11,611K users.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a new user, learning how to make the most out of Linkedin groups can be a sticky wicket.

Most groups have rules that group owners and managers use to help make each members experience rewarding. As with any Linkedin group, there will be those that behave badly and make it difficult and sometimes damn near impossible for serious professionals to enjoy and participate in group discussion because of shameless self promotion and spammy "marketing" tactics. Don't give up on a group because of bad behavior by a few. Learn how to flag posts as promotion or jobs and more on to contributing valuable content. Remember to reach out to group owners or managers for help or to report repeat offenders that make your experience unrewarding. A group gets better when every member holds each other accountable to the group rules and behaves in a professional and considerate way.

How do I know this?

For nearly 3 years I have been a Managing Partner and Event Coordinator for a local Professional networking group that has grown from 300 members on Linkedin to over 3000 since I first came on board. Among other events, I have organized close to 20 monthly educational luncheons that brings a wide range of area professionals together to learn from community leaders both online and off. 100% of my time is donated to this cause and to helping my community.

Has it been easy? Hell no. No one likes the hall monitor, especially the kids acting up or slacking off. Have I made mistakes - you betcha! Both at a member of groups and as a manager. We are all learning and growing in the online social space. Don't be too hard on yourself. Ask questions, reach out, own your mistakes and keep contributing valuable content.

The most successful groups that I am a member of (besides the one I mentioned) are the ones where everyone of the group managers are engaged with the online community through posting regular discussions, helping flag and moderate discussions as well as participating in member discussions by leaving comments. Establishing and maintaining an enjoyable and engaging group is hard work and the greatest success comes when all managers and members are on board and involved regularly.

I have learned so much since joining Linkedin and have had my ups and downs with managing groups. Has it been worth it to help connect the community and rebuild our local economy? YES! And I am incredibly grateful to those who stand beside me, work with me and who are truly committed to helping our community.

As you read over these 5 tips I hope that they help you!

Top 5 Tips for New Members of any Linkedin Group

  • Know the Group Rules 
When joining any group on Linkedin take the time to review the group rules the managers have established. If there are any doubts about a post you want to make - reach out to the group manager/owner and ask! They are there to help you get the most out of your membership! If the group have just joined has rules look for the Group rules link in the upper right of your group's page.

  • Review Past Discussions / Follow New Ones
When you first join a group, take some time to review past and follow current discussions to see what members are discussing and sharing. This will help you get a better feel of whether this is the right group for you and whether or not to post your first discussion.

  • Post Relevant Discussions
I recommend no more that one discussion post per week to each group you are a member of.  Now many may disagree if the group is more active and everyone has their own ratio of discussions read to discussions posted. Ultimately the decision is yours, but I encourage you not to dominate any group with your posts. Be fair to other members who may have something to contribute!

If you have a great topic that will drive and active discussion than you can consider Posting the Same Discussion to Multiple Groups.

At a loss on what to post? Here are Six Ways to Ignite a LinkedIn Discussion.
    • Receive Weekly Email Digests of Group Activity
    Consider setting your email digest updates to once a week (your email in box would blow up if you set it for every new discussion posted for every group you joined!).

    Set aside at least an hour a week to participate in and post relevant discussions, make new connections and reach out to those who have helped you with information or links. Here are 5 Simple Ways to make the Most of your Time on LinkedIn™

      “I promise to create thought leadership content that lives up to its name, and not simply babble on about nothing. No one likes or respects social spam!"
      • Don't Spam

      This is a great post by Neal Schaffer that covers LinkedIn Group Etiquette and will help you understand the rules? Ultimately, when I say don't spam that means don't harvest group members emails and send them all your email newsletter. Big no no. Learn how to use LinkedIn Mail without being spammy. 

      Don't shamelessly self promote. Some groups have sub groups set up where members can post upcoming events, industry specific interests as well as jobs. It's important to understand where to add your voice and more important not to come off as pushy with a hard sales pitch with every single post.

      Need some help? Here are 5 Best Practices to Making Quality LinkedIn Connections

        Learn more about Linkedin Groups from this great video. . .


        Why do you join Linkedin Groups?

        When you join a group do you research the group rules before posting?

        Are you a group manager? What are some tips that you can share that you use to make your group experience better?

        How do you encourage members to adhere to group rules?

        Tuesday, January 3, 2012

        Facebook : How Better Homes and Gardens is Using the Social Giant to Give Readers What They Want

        Just this past week I received my first issue of Better Homes and Gardens (one of my Mother's favorite magazines). I don't subscribe to many magazines as I read nearly everything online these days. I have my favorites though - Dwell, Fortune, Modern Painters and now Better Homes and Gardens.

        My subscription to BHG was a Christmas present to myself - I wanted to have a reminder of my mother, and everything she taught me, to arrive at my doorstep and ask me to sit down for a cup of coffee so that we could catch up.

        As I sat down with the January issue, I have to admit I was more than impressed with the fact that right there, next to the note from Editor in Chief Gayle Goodson Butler, was something I did not expect to see from a shelter mag. . . a poll from their Facebook 'fans' that drove the feature story! They asked "What's your organizing problem area?" Not surprising that 62% answered paperwork.

        With so many magazines that have downsized or folded over the last few years - it is refreshing to see BHG adopting and using social media to add value to their monthly print edition and in the process drawing in a whole new generation of readers and subscribers like myself.

        I like the fact that BHG readers have a voice in what shows up in their mail box.  .  . I think my mom would like it too. :)


        What magazines do you subscribe to?

        How are they using social media to engage readers?

        Monday, January 2, 2012

        Social Media Police: Behaving Badly on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Blogs

        You, yes you!


        I am an interweb agent.

        I'm here to protect you. Just stay calm and put your keyboard where I can see it.

        Don't try to esc. - If I don't help you . . . someone else will. 

        Do I have your attention?


        There was a tip that you have been behaving badly on the internet and I need to ask you a few questions . . .

        Do you currently or have you ever spammed pages or people with your push marketing message? 

        Are you sharing too much information about your friends and family's private lives? What about information about your children? 

        Do you post comments on friends walls that really should be made private? Trust me a little Facebook Wall etiquette goes a long way.

        How about those unflattering pictures of family/friends that you don't care for? Hhhhm? That's what I thought.

        Have you ever checked in at your child's School? Home? Work? How about a friends house with out them knowing about it? . . . . better watch that! It's dangerous out there and there are plenty of thieves that are paying attention to your "look at me" addiction. 

        Are you a hashtag hijacker? We have received complaints from area residents that you are flooding their towns hashtag with garbage 24/7 and making any real posts relating to the community virtually inaccessible!

        Oh, and even if you only hijack any hashtag once . . . it's still not cool.

        Are you harvesting people's email from Linkedin groups and sending out your email newsletter? How about anyone who gives you a business card? Yeah, that's not cool. Better read up on the Can-Spam act before you send out any more of those emails.

        Du u tlk lk ths on fb & twttr? For the love of all things Merriam-Webster - stop. Text speak is murdering your brand.


        If you have done any or all of these . . . don't feel bad. You aren't alone. There are plenty of us out here that have made mistakes (myself included) and thankfully many more who help us see the error of our ways and get us on track!

        We do this for the betterment of the community and quite frankly everyone is kinda tired of seeing you make an ass out of yourself. Trust me, I've made an ass of myself plenty on my path of learning. Understand that we are here to help.

        What was that? I'm sorry I must have mis heard you . . . F*off you say?Your "grass roots" marketing is working just fine? Umm okay buh bye!

        For those of  you who appreciate it when someone goes out of their way to help you without trying to sell you something. . . who believe in helping each other and paying it forward. . .   Keep reading!

        I will outline common online offenses and give you helpful links that will (hopefully) change your online habits. Sad to say that you are a danger to your friends and followers and more importantly your brand so listen up!

        Regardless of whether you end up with a warning or if it's your 1st offense . . . heck, even the repeat offenders out there will end up walking with a sentence of educational links for each infraction.

        Facebook :: Profiles are for People - Pages are for Businesses

        :: I can understand that this whole technology thing has your head spinning . . . and trust me, I know that everyone is doing everything they can to survive this economy - especially if you own your own business.

        Trying to navigate Facebook even as a heavy user is confusing as hell. But no fear! There are friends and family ready to help guide you in the right direction . . . and when all else fails - google it.

        Your Sentence ::

        A Beginner's Guide To Facebook: Learn The Basics Of Facebook 

        Facebook for Business

        Facebook 101 Business Guide | Social Media Examiner

        1st offender :: I'm going to have to write you a citation. You heard right. This is the second "profile" you have set up for your business instead of a "page".

        And after I shared links to facebook that help guide you how to set up a page too.

        I sent those links to facebook terms of use and how to create a facebook page for business because I wanted to help.

        Too many of businesses have been closing and I would hate to see one more . . but I just can't "friend" a business. It's rewarding your bad behavior and goes against everything I teach others.

        Oh, and thanks for the foul language in your message. Was that *really necessary for someone YOU tried to friend twice with a personal profile for your business?  . . .  Just curious if you treat everyone that tries to help you (and not try to sell you anything) that way.

        Oh and by the way . . . you (or your social media 'guru') have completely destroyed any desire I had of hiring you to scrub my toilet. :P

        Your Sentence ::

        Businesses do not make good Facebook friends.: The Social Path 

        Your Facebook "Friend Requests": Bad for Business... Annoying to Me!

        Repeat offender :: No one "likes" it when your company likes and comments on every post in a 3 county area just so you can 'get in front of' your target market. I don't care how you try to justify it - everyone knows you reek of disrespect and use shady "Spam King" tactics. Stop it.

        Oh, and the fake user profile you set up to also promote your company with comments promoting your business as a "satisfied customer" on other business pages . . . slimy. Let me introduce you to Erika so she can bitch slap your ass.

        Your Sentence ::

        Facebook Fan Pages for business vs. Personal Profiles for individuals

        How to Create A Facebook Page

        Facebook | Create a Page

        Linkedin :: Groups Etiquette

        :: No worries if you just joined the group - moderators generally cut you some slack when they know you are the new kid on the block. But it IS your responsibility to know what group you are joining and explore the readily available information on the group profile page. Questions? Just ask the owner of the group or a group manager(s). They are always ready to help.

        Your Sentence ::

        What is LinkedIn? - LinkedIn Learning Center

        Groups - LinkedIn Learning Center

        100+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn « Linked Intelligence

        1st offender :: You KNOW You've Been Bad Don't You?

        Yes, yes I hear it all the time . . . "everyone else is doing it so why can't I?" Well, just because someone else pukes their spam message all over the discussion board doesn't mean you should too. Buck up and carefully consider if that self promotional "discussion" or comment is really adding value to the group.

        Oh and your buddy there in the back seat. . . yeah, I'm talkin' to you. You know the only time I EVER see you in these parts is when you have something to promote or sell. I don't recall ever seeing you participate in an actual discussion or come to an event and by the way - isn't that an out of state license you have? Yeah, thought so.

        Understand the perils of self promotion.

        Your Sentence ::

        Groups - LinkedIn Learning Center

        25 LinkedIn Etiquette Tips to Ponder

        LinkedIn Group Etiquette: What are the Rules?

        Promoting Your Business Without Spamming LinkedIn Groups

        Repeat offender :: When you join groups just to harvest email addresses for your email newsletter, post self promotional discussions ad nauseum or gather your pitchfork and townspeople to post disrespectful comments on a discussion board just because you got called out for your bad behavior in a group . . . well, lets just say YOU are the reason most people think that Linkedin is the Myspace of the business world. Etiquette is more than what fork you use. . . it's being respectful of group moderators and the posting guidelines unique to each Linkedin Group.

        Your Sentence ::

        How to tell if you're a comments troll - CNN

        What constitutes Spam in your opinion | LinkedIn Answers | LinkedIn

        How To Fail At Using LinkedIn | A LinkedIn Spam Email Diagnosed 

        Linkedin group managers are not online 24/7. They rely on other group members to flag those who are not playing by the group's rules. In order to make the most of Linkedin Groups that are created to truly connect those who have joined - it takes all members (and managers) contributing valuable content, helping enforce the group's rules such as flagging posts that are self promotional or spammy and engaging with those who take the time to start real discussion. 

        Blah Blah Blogs :: Blog Vomit vs. Real Interaction

        Warning ::
        Are you just getting your feet wet with blogging? It's kind of tricky getting into the rhythm of posting, promoting and commenting on your own and other blogs.

        Best advice is reading those who are doing it well and emulate the things that make them a success . . . like posting on a regular basis, responding to blog comments, and leaving meaningful comments on others blogs.

        Your Sentence ::

        How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners

        Starting Your First Blog? 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers

        40 Ways to Deliver Killer Blog Content

        Geek to Live: Lifehacker's guide to weblog comments

        1st offender :: So you think you're clever?

        Leaving a blog comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the blog post but some how leads you to leave a link back to your website . . . yeah. That is just not cool. Clever blog comment spam is still spam. 

        Oh and if you never talk to the person via other social sites but decide to leave a self promotional comment on a highly trafficked blog post they have written . . . that is opportunistic and a big no-no.

        Your Sentence ::

        5 Spam Tactics Good People Use to Kill Business Efforts 
        4 Easy Things You Can Do to Help Others Fight Spam

        Understand The Reasons Why You Should Not Submit Spam Comments To Other Niche Blogs


        Repeat Offender :: You know who you are . . .  

        -you do key word searches and just because I mention any Apple product in my post you decide to post a comment that lets me know I can get a free ipad with a suspect link. 

        -you are a troll and post meaningless drivel in hopes of starting an emotional fire so you can sit back and roast your little ego marshmallows. Bravo. 

        -you add links to your own site via a comment to artificially boost your search engine rankings . . . real clever.  

        Your Sentence ::  

        The Bitch Slap: Are You Contributing? | Erika Napoletano is Redhead Writing

        Blog Etiquette or Blogtiquette — Tip Junkie

        The Trouble with Trolls | Market My Novel

        If you have a blog, you understand how important it is to have real people leave engaging comments. This is a great post about The War Against Blog Comment Spam And How To Gain The Upper Hand.

        Twitter :: In or Out of My Nest  

        Dealing with Twitter offenses are quite simple on my tree limb. . . there are no 3 strikes rule here buddy when it comes to spammy behavior. 

        Typically the first major offense gets you blocked and reported for spam if I have any question about the safety of my nest. 

        You know the ones I'm talking about . . . "hey, if you love FarmVille you should check this out :-) (insert phishing link here)" I don't need to learn how to make 10,000 dollars a month from twitter, nor do I care if I just won a free widget. . . or if you think your company has the best widget with a 'We are giving away a new iPad click here' link. NO Thank you! 

        And while we are on the subject . . . sending me an unsolicited @reply to pimp your product/service/brand or a Dumb Auto DM to tell me how be a social media douchebag like you - will bring you front and center to Judge, Jury and Executioner.    

        Anything else you can do on twitter pales in comparison to outright twitter spam and trolls . . .  

        Twitter Rehab ::

        Mashable Twitter Guidebook

        Twitter Help Center | The Twitter Rules

        Twitter 101 for Business — A Special Guide 

        Top 10 Twitter Blunders - MarketingProfessor.com 

        No, I Will Not Help Your Business Spam People on Twitter

        NOTE :: Now there are plenty of other social networks I have left out. I chose the ones I encounter the most but would *love to hear about your pet peeves on other sites (so when I go there I don't make an ass of myself!)


        I am taking my cue from @redheadwriting today . . . I’m unfiltered and unashamed.

        Am I perfect - no.

        Do I claim to be - no.

        Do I try to help people - yes.

        Do I have more to learn - you betcha. 


        Thanks to *everyone who inspired me to write this post.  

        Regardless of whether you like what I have written or not, the truth is - we are all learning and growing in the social space. 

        For the record - I am not an expert. . . I am always flattered when others refer to me as one but the truth is - I just spend more time reading about my particular areas of interest - from hand made crafts, web design, cooking, to social marketing and am excited to share what I learn! 

        I am and will always be a student and will do my best to stay up to date on information that is interesting to me and share something valuable everyday.  

        We get better by helping each other when we can, and hopefully adding a little humor to the mix.  Learning the true value of social media will be different for everyone.
        I am still learning where to add my voice and when to listen.

        Want to plead your case? 

        Offer helpful advice or a link to a great article that helped you? 

        Want to share a social media pet peeve?  

        Leave a comment!