Friday, June 9, 2017

Impressions of Ikea Columbus Haul

Impressions of Ikea Columbus Haul


via IFTTT

Monday, May 29, 2017

Can you really make a latte out of this stuff? International Delights One Touch Latte Review

Happy Memorial Day.
Ready Whip or Not
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
Yes, I am working but not for long.  I am enjoying the day while trying not to ball out my nephew for not helping me with this Origami 6-Shelf thing. I originally set it up…. Two years ago.  I want him to switch it from one wall to another, which is on the same wall as my computer desk.  When you are single good help is hard to find.  He has promised to move this thing now going on 8 months (for a year actually), and now I have a deadline.  Columbus finally has an IKEA, and guess who is getting her Alex Drawers, her Kallax, and some storage containers? ME, that’s who.  The moving of the shelf takes about 10-minutes, tops, and I need to finish this organizational job, so, I can get on with my life.
Well, such as life.
Coffee drinker 101, keep me away from Starbucks
I have a perfectly good Keurig coffee maker, mini-sized, as in big enough to hold a mug.  I love my little machine, and I actually downsized from the 10-cup machine.  It is only me, single in the house, and I had a kid, there is no way on this earth she would be drinking this stuff….at least not yet, LOL.
I also love Starbucks, and I am constantly reloading the gift card.  I have $4.50 left on this round.  I often think about how much I spend on a cup of coffee, latte, or Frap, and when I really think about it, most of us who drink Starbucks (Dunkin Donuts, Tim Horton’s Cup O’ Joe…Et. all), could really feed a small country with our coffee drinking, would you agree?  Thus, the reason for me buying the Keurig. So, I started wanting to learn how to deconstruct the coffee making process the Starbucks’ way.  I cannot say I have it down to a science, but it at least makes tummy and brain happy.  This is when I saw this International Delight commercial for making your own lattes at home. 
Apparently, they have been thinking about this too, or this would not have made it out of the gate.  So, I am going to compare the traditional way with the cheat method, and then the Latte mixture.
Traditional method does not work for me.
Before I got my first Keurig, I had a Delonghi coffee system (not the original name, but I will go with that).  It had on it a place where you can make regular coffee filter coffee, and fancy coffee (espressos, lattes, Macchiatos), you name it.  To do that, you had the frothing stick, which in the 2 years I had it, I could not work this monstrosity of a machine.  It was something that you put the milk in the cup, use this stick, to which steam came out to froth the milk, and you are supposed to end up with form. Not for me.  It tasted horrible, and I hated it.  This was the reason for me to start going to Starbucks.  They were pros at this task.  When I got the first Keurig, I poured in the milk and called it a latte. 
When I got the second one (a year before they came out with Keurig 2.0), I started using a method called, “Buy a can of Ready Whip and let it melt on top of coffee”.  SUCCESS!!! I can now call myself a barista. If I want mocha, buy a can of chocolate Ready Whip, and I am in chocolate heaven.
Why are you trying to ruin it for me?
Apparently, International Delights must have been monitoring this ready whip stuff because two months ago, they came out with something called, “Latte in a can”, or One Touch Latte, So, last week, I bought a can. It costs me $3.79 at Market District, which is a high-end Giant Eagle. In fact, they do not want to be in the same league as Giant Eagle.  Since this was a work-related buy, meaning that I bought it for the purpose of writing this review, I should get back the amount for a refund.  Also, to give a little warning that this is not a sponsored review.  I bought it on my own, thus I did not get a free can.
What does this remind me of?
When you first look at the can with a photo of a glass mug on it, the first thought that came to mind as I picked it up was Ready Whip.  In fact, the can is a cross between a can of Cheese Whiz and a can of Ready Whip.  It is in a 12 oz. can.  The instructions on the can say:
·         Leave room for froth.  This means do not fill the cup all the way to the top. My suggestion is not put as much sugar in your coffee.  This stuff is super sweet.  Not recommended for diabetics or sugar sensitive people.
·         Shake it.  Duh, otherwise, you would get milk (lot cheaper).
·         Press and hold about 5-7 inches from the cup.  I also suggest you do not wear your nice clothes for this as it can get quite messy.
·         Enjoy. 
Taste.
It tastes good.  Does it remind me of that little coffee shop that starts with an “S”, cost a lot of bucks for me to get a reloadable gift card, only for me to have change left on it?  Nope, it does not even come close. 
Other thoughts that are colliding in my head over this product….
·         Save your money.  You can do better with a can of Ready Whip. 
·         For the calorie counters out there…. 25 per 2 Tbsp or 120 per latte (1/7 of the can).  I am trying to figure out which one is it.  It is not your daily source of Calcium (0%), Vitamin D (0%), or Iron (0%). 
·         Again, not for Diabetics and sugar sensitive people (17g of added sugar).
·         I got the Mocha, and there is also a Vanilla and Carmel Flavor as well. 
Overall thoughts:
I will admit saying I was excited about trying this, being a coffee drinker, but it quickly fizzled the moment of usage.  I keep talking about Ready Whip, which was meant for desserts, but I use it for my coffee when I want a latte.  In comparison to One Touch Latte, I can see the application.  I also see One Touch Latte being used like Ready Whip.
It also depends on what you like.  When I was little, you had coffee or you had tea in America.  Lattes and expressos are European delicacies brought from the old country, Italians who wanted a little bit of “home” in a new world that the rest of us adapted to.  Like sushi, I am glad it is here, but have to ask Starbucks why is it so expensive?  One Phrase:  Supply and Demand.
Takeaway Moment: 

There are none for today, except to the writers, you can do reviews without demanding pay in your post.  Is it worth doing reviews?  You bet, especially if you are doing a little PR work for a new client.  Point the client to your reviews so they can get a little sample of your work.  If the client likes the review structure and that is what they are looking for, they will hire you.  In turn, it means work.   

June 2, 2017 Update:  WTF?  The stupid canister clogged on me.  For $3.79, this thing is not allowed to clog.  So, my overall impression of this product is like I said before: Get a can of Ready Whip.  It is cheaper, and even if it clogs up, you feel better throwing away the can.  Bye-bye glorified can of whip topping.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Scheduling 2.0


Lately, I had a lot of things on my mind, so I had to take a break.  Not too much of a break because I am loving the page views I have been receiving, but enough to get myself back on track.
I have started some posts to put up this week, but they have been pulled back to next week. I have not been mindful to myself, but thankfully, my family nor my church has not asked me to do too many things.  The reason I said this is as of this morning, my left ankle has been acting up, which mean one thing:  I am having a slight flare-up of gout, and I do not want to slow down my intake of seafood.  The other things that have been slowly flaring up are my shoulders and my eczema, which is concentrated on my face and chest (started to say the other thing in the chest area, but I remember about my G-rating on this blog, LOL). Except for the worry that I may not have enough money to finish paying for my trip in September, working on my YouTube Channel, and working on my friendship swap (my third scrapbook/mixed media swap with this woman), this has been a laid back week.
Well, enough about me, how has your week been going? 
Topic of Scheduling: What is it?
Today, since I mentioned my schedule or the sort of lack of a viable one, I thought I would post about making a schedule.  Not only a schedule that works for your writing but a schedule that contains everything you do in your life.  Let me first say to those who are new to scheduling, it is another way of planning.  In this case, you are planning out your day, week, month, or year. (Trust me, I know people like that). I have mentioned in many, many blog posts, and now some videos, planning is a way of knowing what you need to do, and want to do.  Planning keeps you sane, it keeps you on track, and it keeps you from duplicating tasks.  When you were in school, it was called a syllabus. Another name is called a “To Do List”.  Rather you call it a planning guide, syllabus, To Do List, Honey Do List, or scheduling, it is all the same, which again, it is a list of things that need to be done.
How to make a schedule?
Making a schedule is not hard to do, but for some reason, this is something that most people struggle with, myself included.   Even as a single person, with no kids, and not currently dating, it is a struggle.  Why?  Because I have so many facets of my life that I have to place into motion, such as time with the family (both biological and church family), church services, regularly scheduled meetings to attend, blog posting, videotaping, writing assignments that I suddenly feel that I need to do, and handmade projects that need to be made.  Oh, let’s don’t forget things, such as doctor and dental appointments, hair appointments (getting your hair twisted is an all-day appointment, even when you have 3 African braiders in your head at all times), pedicures, grocery shopping, and spring cleaning and decluttering (in the process now).  The list goes on and one.  You wonder if I will have time for baby when I adopt. Sleep, yes sleeping and pooping (OK, TMI)
To do that, you have to first prioritize.  Yes, that nasty little word called prioritizing.  What is important to you, may not be as important or more important to another person, so you have to place, in order, the things that need to be done.  Let look at my list:
·         Family time (D)
·         Worship services (W)
·         Meetings for church (M)
·         Meetings for business (AN)
·         Blog writing, editing, and posting (x3 W)
·         Video filming, editing, and posting (x2 W)
·         Freelance writing assignments (AN)
·         Handmade product creation, pricing, and placement (W, Q)
·         Doctor and dental appointments (Every 3 months, 6 months, A)
·         Hair and feet appointments (Every 2-3 months)
·         Personal and grocery shopping (AN, 2 weeks)
·         Spring cleaning and decluttering (Q)
·         Technology stuff (M)
The symbols are
·         A=Annually
·         AN=As Needed
·         D=Daily
·         M=Monthly
·         X#=Number of times during the week, month, or year.  The word Every in front shows importance for me.
·         Q=Quarterly
This is my breakdown of the overall schedule.  Note that I have not put any times on the scheduling part.  This when I do my calendar.  More on that part in a moment.
This is how I do my scheduling.  I write it on a big sticky note, handwritten, nothing fancy.  I usually will plan out my week on Sunday night (Sunday to Saturday scheduling).  So tomorrow, I will sit down at my desk, and look at my calendar, and plan out my week.  This process will take about 15 minutes to an hour, depending on what I have.  At the end of the month, I will throw in what I have to pay in bills, so it takes longer (towards the hour mark), and the rest of the month is usually towards the 15-minute mark.  So, if you are wondering how I throw in bill paying time.  There you have it.  I usually do not schedule in a separate bill paying time because I pay online, and it is like an internet session for me (before social media time).  I go to my credit card and utility sites, my banking, and Paypal in one session, jump back and forth between screens and in 15 minutes, I am done.
Next level:  Calendar
My Erin Condren Calendar
(c) 2017 Photo by P Lynne Designs
(c) 2017 Erin Condren 
Once I have all of that stuff straighten out, for the most part, I turn to my calendar.  I have 5 calendars:  Two paper planners (personal and business), My Ipad, and My smartphone (no the smartphone and the Ipad are not talking to each other (IOS and Android).  They do not play nice with each other, when you are on the family plan with your parents, and having an Ipad and an Iphone is not in the plans when your 21-year old nephew has one. So, until then, I have to deal with devices that do not talk with each other.  I mentioned a 5th calendar, that would be my desktop, I nicknamed, Della because she is a Dell computer. (Get it, Della). OK, so I have a quirk. My car is Baby J, the desktop computer is Della, Smartphone is Sammy (for Samsung phone), Ipad is Izzy, and my Cricut Explore is named Carmen.
Sorry, for going off track, where was I?  Oh, yes, my calendars.
A view of how I schedule through EC
(c) 2017  Photo by P.Lynne Designs
(c) 2017 Erin Condren 
Like I mention, I have two Erin Condren Calendars.  I love this brand because it is the first calendar that allows my style of recording things.  I have looked at others, but I am happy with the EC.  They offer three styles and I love the horizontal style, which allows me to write as much detail as I care to.  I place the topics of the blog post or video titles in there under the date.  That way, if I feel like I am repeating, I can turn to the month that I thought I wrote it, and decide on a different topic if I need to.  I can write down detailed things I need for appointments, meetings, and even directions.  EC has a dashboard which I use both as a white board and a place to put sticky notes.  My only wish is those planner creators who design stickers for the EC planner would have more horizontal formats.  
When it is time to make my schedule, I turn to that week to see if I have any meetings, appointments, and so forth.  I even record what I spend, and how much I have to spend.  Sammy, Izzy, and Della are online backups to my EC calendars, and I can enter in dates on these devices when I do not have the paper planner with me.
Is this a foolproof system?
No system is completely foolproof.  You have to put it in action to see if it works for you. Feel free to tweak any scheduling system that does not work for you.  Also, one tip:  no system is going to work if you do not use it.  If you keep putting it off and do the same things you have been doing, it is not going to work.  For me, a system will or will not work if you do not use it for at least 3 months.  3 months is plenty of time to tweak along the way.
So, give it a try.  You may need to tweak it to your style of doing things, but if it does not give you the satisfaction of a foolproof system, try another system.  I will tell you what does work for me, scheduling apps.  To me, they are so limited, especially the free systems.  The way they work and the way I work did not meet my needs, especially the last one.  Who knows, you may find an app that works for you.

Have a good evening

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Video is definitely a MUST When Selling Craft Items

(Warning:  Some of the links below may contain affiliate information.  I may receive a commission for that link. For a full explanation, please see my disclosure page. Thank you.)

Ok, you must be wondering what am I up to now?  Let me set the scene…
I need to pay for the last bit of my September cruise to the islands (The Caribbean that is).  Now I know what you are thinking and I will not address that AT this time.  Maybe when I share one of my personal journal moments one day but not right now.  Besides, by the time I get at least a temp job (which is what I am looking for when I say I want to work with clients anyway), it is time to make my last payment on June 1st.  What must a girl do to get her hands on some cash besides begging the financial gods (AKA banks, credit unions, and those check cashing places), relatives, or going to the local casino?  How about getting rid of some stuff you are no longer using?  AKA giving them a good home.  
So, I started with my Longaberger business and the art of getting rid of every basket, pottery, or wrought iron piece that I do not like, or no longer can house in my 2-bed condo.  Besides that, I can also use the leftover money to buy the baskets and pottery that I DO want, but was not able to get, even with my discount as a consultant.  Did I tell you that I am sort of not making much success with it?  I will tell you why in another post.
Next, I decided that I need to get rid of some of the craft items, especially the ones I bought while working at Archiver’s when it was a brick and mortar store.  When you are a scrapbooker and card maker AND you work in the place where your loves are (meaning scrapbook supplies), AND you get a discount, you sort of becoming a hoarder.  Not the kind of hoarder on a show like Extreme Hoarding, or whatever that show on A&E is called, but you know what I mean.  So, I found some ribbon, which I do not use anymore.  I graduated to washi tape.  Same difference.  I put it on a destash craft group on Facebook.  No bites as of yet.  Next, I found clear rubber stamps that I am not using.  I still use them, but I want new ones to go with my Tim Holtz distress inks and my Stampin Up ink, as well as my Mementos black ink.  I did not want to put up another post on the same Facebook group, so I tried video.  Guess what?  It worked.  In 7 hours, I was preparing my little package to send off to my buyer.   I now have $14.00 going towards my cruise.  Yay!
What does this have to do with writing?
It has everything to do with writing and you do not have to use videos to only sell products.  In fact, you can use videos in any type of how to post you place on your blog.
I follow a You Tubber named Jennifer, and she has a vlog called Pretty NeatLiving.  She is a lifestyle vlogger, but she also has a blog by the same name.  The way she uses the blog/vlog method is simple, she repeats everything she said on her vlog in written form.  Hey, everything cannot be done in vlog form.  The reason is perhaps there is a giveaway form a person needs to fill out and she needs to count that.  She also has sponsors, who may not want her to have more than one way to get their campaign message out.  The finally way could be that she is using the oldest method of getting her message out, which is some people learn by reading, some learn by doing, and some people learn by listening. It is the most effective way of getting your brand across.  I am also learning that as well.
Another You Tubber I follow is named Tmika, who is ScrapDaWorld.  She is a crafter like me, but she also uses the blog/vlog method.  This is how she uses it.   She runs crafting swaps throughout the year.  I am preparing to create a flip book for her swap this month.  Tmika announces the swap on YouTube, including showing the sample project and how the project should be made.  Next, she will repeat those instructions in her blog, post the link to the video, a thumbnail photo of video, and finally a picture of the project. Tmika also goes a step further by posting all of this through her social media. 
I am working out my kinks on how my videos are posted on this blog and my other blog, P. Lynne Designs.  Currently, I am using IFTTT program (which stand for If this that that) which allows me to post my videos on this blog, but some videos are not related, like my recent Dollar Tree Haul video or Selling my clear stamps video.  I need to check to see if they did a post on P. Lynne Designs blog because that is where they belong.  I am not an expert on how I figured how to link it to a WordPress blog, but for a blog in Blogger, it is easy. 
My Takeaway for you:
If you are interested in enhancing your writing (no matter what niche (subject) you write about), my suggestion is to eventually have a blog/vlog combination going.  It does not cost much to start a YouTube channel if you do not have one.  Vimeo is also a good platform to have a channel.  You can also start your blog first, and then have a video channel.  You do not need a camera to get started, use your phone.  You do need a tripod for your phone. Especially if you do not want to hold your phone.  Down the road, when your finances are freed up, get you a camera with great quality.  You can also invest in a voice over microphone. Again, that is in the future.
If you are uncomfortable being in front of the camera, try talking while being behind the camera, or do try a short 2-3-minute video in front of the camera.  This is how I got started. How about, “just do it” as the old Nike commercial used to say.  I always say, try it once, and if you hate it, skip it for a while.  Videos are not for everyone, but I do encourage you to at least try it.
If you do try it, your last piece is to invest in a good editing software.  I am currently not editing because I do not have the software I was using.  I am getting ready to try a software by Adobe Premiere Pro.  There is also a good one by Apple called Final Cut Pro.  You can use it for both Mac and PC as well.  (Note: Neither of these software links I receive a commission on.  They are simple the editing software that I like). If you hate looking at yourself while editing, hire someone to do it for you, but eventually, you will have to do your own editing.

I do hope you do try this combo for your writing and gaining traffic.  You may get offers for a collaboration or even a job offer.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What is it that Parents Want us Kids to know? Words to Live by Before Graduation.

(c) Clipartfest.com

On today’s What’s up Wednesday, I decided to take a question I answered in Quora again.  I had answered one a few months ago, and this question is something that every child and young adult should learn about (ages 0-17; 18-25). 
Why?  Because I feel that today’s young people have no idea what is expected of them.  I will post my answer from Quora and because this is a blog post, I will explain a little further what was meant by my answer.  (Note:  I also decided that now is the time to address this year’s graduation class of 2017.  Congratulations, everyone.)
  1. To listen and make a decision based on what you were taught by your parents. This is a given, after all, these are the people who are raising or who have raised you.  This leads up to and including:
  2. To have a voice and to stand up for your beliefs, but also understand the other person’s side as well. In other words, have compassion.  You can always try to have a person believe what you believe in, but they also reason why their values (that’s the term I am looking for) is the way they are. (By the way, always have a good reason why your belief is your belief - do not leave a person hanging.)
  3. To be self-sufficient
  4. To be honest. 
  5. To learn something new and different.
  6. To learn that the world does not owe you a thing in life.
  7. To care for someone other than yourself.
  8. To learn that everything is not about you and what you want.
  9. To learn that you cannot get what you want all the time.
  10. To forgive and forget ... But that does not mean you have to be around that person.   Negative people can bring a person down.  If someone keeps doing the same thing over and over again, maybe it is about time you part ways.  Still, love them, but apart from them.
  11. Learn to be happy and to make your own happiness.  Do not depend on a person to give you the happiness you need in life.  People will always disappoint you if you look at it that way.  Once you find it, never let anyone take your joy. 
  12. To dream and not be lead by someone’s expectations of you.  Also on that note, never let someone take your dreams.  If you have a dream of owning a potato chip factory, learn what it takes to own one, and work towards that goal.  Never give up on a dream.
  13. To pray to God or whoever you see as a higher power other than yourself.  It is good to have a spiritual practice of some kind.  I read inspirational passages that contain scriptures from the bible.  If I do not understand it, I turn in my bible to get a better understanding of that passage.  I question every scripture I read on the internet with my actual page turning bible.  Also, praying helps bring clarity to that chaos.  I also turn to my pastor for a better understanding of that passage.  Find like-minded people to help you understand helps too.
  14. That no matter what, we will always love you for being you. Do not change a thing.  Children, in general, need to know that they are loved no matter what mistakes they make in life.  They are learning how to be adults, while we, as adults are learning how to best guide them.   
  15. To know how to read and do math well.  When you know how to read well, you can read contracts, understand a bill, even understand the new rules to Candy Crush.  Math skills allow you to know when your payment on a job is wrong (see negotiation skills), how much medicine to take, or how to follow a simple recipe (yeah, I know millennials don’t cook, but work with me for a minute-See #2).  
  16. Do not rely on technology. At the moment you need it, it will fail on you.  I love my computer, phone, and tablet as much as the next person, but I found out that I do not know how to spell as well as I used to.  Why?  Because I rely on spell check on MS Word, Grammarly for my grammar correction, and a calculator to double check my math.  I know these things, but what happens when the lights go out, the gadgets need charging or Windows 10 decides it needs to update, which is every other week.  There is always pen and paper.
  17. Learn how to do math the old-school way.
  18. Learn the basics of your language and while you are at it, learn a new one. be proficient in both.  Both #17 and 18 goes back to #16 and technology.  In fact, numbers 15-19 go hand and hand.
  19. Learn to negotiate, the right way. Weigh all your options before giving your final answer to something that will affect the rest of your life.
  20. To treat everyone with respect and the same will be returned.
  21. Patience
  22. And finally, to smile and to speak when spoken to.
I am not a parent yet, but these are the things I want my nephews and niece to know in life.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Goodbye, Disney

(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
May contain Affiliate Links

Some good news and some bad news.  Bad news first.  I decided that this is the last time I am going to post any Disney type blog posts on My Ambiance Life.  I love writing about Disney, showing you the answers to the questions posted on Quora, and so forth, but I must keep within the niche of the blog itself, and is the art of writing.  I know, I know, this is also a subject I am passionate about, but how is it teaching you about writing, how to write in the areas I love, which is general writing and so forth if I always talk about Disney.  I may revisit the subject from time to time, but I must lay off the Disney for a while in this blog.
The good news is I will be starting a blog that allows me to spread my wings, but not in the way I did with Traveling to the Mouse’s House was and should have been.  The reason behind me shutting down that blog was I needed to regroup and rethink how a girl from Ohio can talk about Disney Parks (especially Disney World) without being a member of the Disney Vacation Club.   In a word, I cannot.  I must start over again, and it has to be in this new blog.  (changed the name again back to I do not have a title again, so, it is unnamed--- again, ugh).
In honor of this being my last posted Disney-themed blog post, I am posting two more answers from Quora.  On talks about my favorite thing in Disney World, and the other talks about affordability.  When you read it, there is a hint on how I am structuring my book, which will reference these two answers, plus others I can pull from the site I personally answered.  So here is my first answer to “What is my favorite thing about Disney World.
What is your Favorite Thing about Disney World?
You are right. There is so much to see and do, and I cannot pinpoint one thing that is my absolute favorite thing at Disney World.
My favorite park is the Magic Kingdom. This is classic Disney at its finest without it being at Disneyland.  The Magic Kingdom was modeled after Disneyland with a few extras that make it the Magic Kingdom.  This is my childhood.  Almost all of the classic rides are here. Sadly, Snow White’s Adventures is no longer at the Magic Kingdom, but I cannot wait to ride the Mine Train ride the next time I visit.  It’s a Small World is different than the Disneyland version, but I love it just the same.
My favorite ride outside the parks is the Monorail.  It is iconic, and even though it does not go to all the parks, I love that you can stop at the resorts, look around, and hop back on.  Free ride, LOL.
Favorite eat-in.  I like Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  Ohana means “family”, and they treat you like family.  The food is plentiful, and they have something for the children to do.  Did I mention the food is delicious?
My favorite time of the year is in December.  Yeah, it is crowded but so worth it.  You get to see the parks all decorated, and there is plenty to do at the resorts during that time, as well as the rest of the year.
Out of all the favorite things that I mention and did not mention, I guess my absolutely favorite thing I like about Disney World is the smiles on me and my family’s faces when we first arrive at each park.  Those smiles say, “We made it, we are going to have fun, and we don’t want to leave.”
I want to set up this next one.  I had a little problem with this person’s question.  Since Disney has so many parks within both Disney World and Disneyland, as well as beyond the United States, I assume the questioner was at least American (could have been Canadian,but who knows), I had to ask if they were meaning the one in Florida (Walt Disney World Resorts) or the one in California (Disneyland Resorts).  Not only that, I gave the person the best way to save for a trip that is affordable for them.  I hope they took the hint.
What is the most affordable way to see all of the Disney Parks?

Hmmm, is this a Disney World or Disneyland question? 
The reason why I ask, is the question was listed under “Disneyland”.  Disneyland has 2 parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and Disney World have 4 parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), a shopping area (Disney Springs), and 2 water parks (Tycoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach).
With that being said, the first I always say is plan your budget and research.  Your affordability is not my affordability, if that makes perfect sense.  You know off the top of your head the Disney is expensive.  We all know that, so do it this way:
1.      Research.  Yes, do your homework if you know nothing about Disney, except how expensive it is.  As you are writing down the information (cut and paste) you need to help you make a decision (a word processing program helps me to research everything, it is your written record), do this first research as though you have all the money in the world.   Ask yourself as you research where you want to sleep, what activities you want to do in the parks, money’s no object. It may not work in the long run, but this is not your final decision.  Set the information you collected to the side
2.      Plan your budget.  This is your “real” money.   This is the money you will use when visiting the parks, and you do not want to run out.  Know what you need for food, lodging, transportation, souvenirs, and extra things in the parks that do not include the price of admission.  Set aside
3.      Research part 2.  Pick up your list of things you want to do (your dream list), and start researching for affordability (your budget).  You will find that you may not be able to afford Mickey’s Scary Halloween party, but you can afford a character meet and greet at the Grand Floridian Resort.  It is all about researching and replacing something that can be expensive with something more affordable and achieving the same results.  This includes your time.  You may not have a week to do all the things you want to do while at the parks, but you may find that going to 2 parks instead of all 7 at Disney World, or 1 park instead of 2 at Disneyland can satisfy you.
Once you do all of that, pick a date, call general reservations to book your stay (or an outside hotel/resort), and start saving.  Good luck.
(c) 2016 P. Lynne Designs

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Where do I fit in, Disney?

I was looking at the history of the Disney Channel.  Why?  This is where curiosity hits the cat and hits the cat hard.  Here are a couple of facts:
·         The Disney Channel first started in 1977, according to Wikipedia, my favorite site for facts.  There was a problem, Disney decided to focus all of their energy on Epcot, which opened in 1982.  So, they tabled the idea of starting the channel.
·         The Disney Channel started as a premium channel on April 18, 1983, and it was on from 7:00 am to 1:00 am.  Its first show was called Good Morning, Mickey. (Humm, that name sounds familiar, and Disney did not own ABC at the time)
·         At the time of its debut, Disney had no princesses of color at all.  Princess and the Frog did not debut until December 11, 2009.  Moana was so last year, and the Disney Channel’s first Hispanic Princess was July 22, 2016, on Disney Junior, NOT the Disney Channel. 
Sometimes, I wonder as a Disney fan if I really like the company, who does not treat my people with fairness in terms of roles in the movies, both animated and live.
This has been a fight for all people (not only African Americans) for years when it comes to movie roles that represent how we really live, and not for the stereotypical roles as seen in the news and other parts of the country, and the world. 
Let’s face it, when movie productions want a gang, they hire African American and Hispanic males to fill in the void.  Poverty, same thing.  When the movies call for someone rich, A white person is hired.   When they hire an African American to play a rich person, that role has to be married to a white person.  Asians get the treatment of owning a restaurant, nail salon or doing martial arts. 
Often times when a casting manager hired a person in a lead role, who is the total opposite of what they think the movie audience wants to see, there are often bad ratings.  This is in both the movies and television.
Getting back to Disney.  When Tiana, Disney’s first African American Princess, who actually marries into royalty, not royalty from birth, shows up at the parks, I was ecstatic.  I could not wait to see her every time I go to Disney.  She, after all, represented that little girl inside of me, who used to put a long towel on my head after a bath, and parade around the bathroom like I was royalty.   Then I found out that Princess Tiana will only be around the parks for special occasions I wanted to know why.  What if I and my family show up on a day when there is nothing special going on in the parks?  Who is my niece of 8 years old going to see when we get to the parks?  So, I started watching YouTube videos and researching all things, Princess Tiana.  After all, I wanted my niece to be happy to see someone special who was dark-skinned like her. Boy, I could never have been so wrong in my life.
I was not looking at why I and my family is going to Disney in the first place.  We were going there to bond.  I am busy, my parents are busy, my sister is busy, and my brother is busy.  We all lead separate lives and this was a trip that may be a trip where all of us are together doing something special.  This not supposed to be a trip where I am finding someone that looks like me.  That is what family reunions are all about.  Disney is about having fun, riding the rides, eating the expensive food (I did not say that Disney is cheap), and bonding with your family and your favorite childhood memory. 
So, what if we do not find Princess Tiana or any other character that is supposed to look like me and my family.  I am supposed to look like me. I am supposed to represent me and my character.  When they see me, they are not supposed to see some animated princess in a flowy dress.  Disney is supposed to see a paying customer who is happy that she spent her hard-earned money with them. 
At the end of the day, Disney is a company, a business, and an entity who is supposed to turn happiness into profits on their end.  If I am not happy, is Disney going to make sure that they take care of what I need in order for me and my family to return for another vacation?  You bet.  It says so in each Cast Member’s contract.  If enough customers are not satisfied, that person is fired, and Disney will not see a profit.  If there are not enough profits to earn, then shareholders will turn on them.  If shareholders turn on them, Bob Igor will not have a company to run, and Disney will be out of business.  I believe this is one of the reasons why Macy’s, Sears, HHGregg, K-Mart, The Limited, Payless Shoes, and countless others are closing stores, whole companies going out of business, and liquidating for the bankruptcy courts.
If there is something I want to you to take away from this post is this:  everything is not about race.  At least it shouldn’t.  I want what is fair and just for all, but it is also up to all of us to get Disney and the other studios to continually see that characters do not come in one race of color, and to stop stereo typecasting.  Gangs and drug dealers in real life come in different races.  Same with drug addicts, prostitutes, the rich, the poor, the working class, the dancer, the evangelist, and the priest.   We all have different roles that make up this world.  It is about time the movies, plays, and television programs show it. 

Movie and television companies alike, stop holding back roles for certain people.  If they meet at least the basic requirements (age range, gender, and height) and have the basic knowledge of the type of role they would be playing, give them a chance.  Do not turn them down because they are a certain color or race.  It is discriminating.  Who knows, maybe you will spark the best actor/actress you have seen in a while, and you may have launched someone’s career.  Everyone deserves a chance, and I deserve to see someone who represents me.  So, where do I fit in, Disney?  I think I fit in fine where I sit.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Am I that boring?

May contain Affiliate links

A view of  a single tower may be boring but offering
your opinions should not, and you can get paid for it
(c) 2017 P. Lynne Designs 
Today, actually yesterday, I was looking at some Haro assignments.  In case you are not familiar with this website, the purpose of the website, according to them is actually Haro stands for Help a Reporter Out.  Reporters, of course, have assignments, and instead of them going around looking for people to comment on their articles, they actually sign up to temporary hire people like me to give their opinion on a topic.  New drinking game, everyone who reads this, takes a drink of their favorite beverage when you read the word “actually”-JK.
So, for example, if a reporter is looking for people who actually (take a drink) decorated with some of Nate Berkus' products, he may request a short review of the products and be as descriptive as possible.  The best answer will win a shout out on his article.  From all the answer that reporter gets, say, 100 people, he may pick 5 people out of that 100.  Of course, the reporter by law has to notify you that he is using your information.   Once he uses that information, you get paid. There are several sites on the internet like that.  I am subscribed to Haro, as well as guest blogging opportunities, and a couple other sites in that category.
The questions are all the same and I sometimes wonder if my life, as I know it, is that boring.  So far, I have not answer one single question, except Quora.  There is one catch with this site, you do not get paid for your opinion.  I will talk more about this site in a moment.
How to use Haro, Quora, and other sites like these?
If you are a least curious about these writing sites, I can answer that.  First of all, you have to sign up for an account.  Most of these sites are free to sign-up.  Once you get the approval to become a member, you can dive right in to find your assignment.  Don’t forget to fill out the rest of your account, which allows you to fine tune things like, what is your writing style, what topics do you write about, and some may even have you take a little test to make sure that English is your native language, or you speak it well enough to pass the test.  You may also have to tell them a little bit about yourself.  In that section, do not write a whole book, but write enough to make you at least appear to be human.  Also, if you want to receive these assignments on a regular basis, give them a valid email address.
Pay me NOW!
Payment depends on the type of service you signed up for.  For Haro, it is up to the amount that a reporter wants to pay you.  For other sites, it depends on the people who run the website.  Usually, a person gets paid through Paypal or through a direct deposit into their bank account.  I prefer Paypal. Why?  For protection reasons, and less likely for a company to have your banking information.  As I mentioned earlier Quora does not pay people to answer questions and I am not sure if they will ever pay for an opinion.
OK, that sounds good, but how does this help me as a writer?
One word, exposure.  The more you write, the better you become.  I do not suggest that this is a permanent thing you do.  After all, you have things to do, people to see, and mouths to feed.  This is not the ticket to the holy grail of writing.  This is a stepping stone in your writing career.  When I mention earlier if my life is boring, it is not boring at all.  I may not have interesting to say to that reporter on that site, but I have answered thousands of questions on Quora on my experiences with Disney, YouTube, writing blogs, writing journals, even being an aunt, not having children of my own.  The problem I have with Quora is the paying part.  My answers are now too valuable to not get paid for it, at least in a gift card or two.  When I first got started with the site, it was the thing to do to get my feet wet and to see if I want to make it as a writer.  Remember, I earned a degree in marketing, and I wanted to be an actress and preschool teacher.  I do papercrafts and graphic design as well. The writing was the furthest thing from my mind when I first started in this industry.  I only started because I was writing in my own journal and this industry can be relaxing.  Don’t you think so?
You are still putting your work out there for someone, in some company to see it.  Maybe you are not looking for a job in the industry, but it could happen.  Someone in that same company could see a writing piece you wrote for some small-town newsletter and say, “I want this person as my next employee. They could make a great asset to my company.
It is all about the delivery, my friend, you never know.  It is the same with anything you do on the Interwebs, as I like to call the internet.  You do not have to write, this happens to be a writing blog.  At the moment, you may not be able to demand your own price for your work.  This is where the word “freelance” comes in.
Payment part 2
Once you are recognized for that work, you can demand that price, but I have read in some articles not to work by the hour.  I have tested this theory myself and I have to agree with it.  When you start naming your price, quote per piece/ article.  Here is why.
Let start with my handmade work that I do.  If I work on a scrapbook album and give the quote of $50/hour and I work 40 hours on the book (which is roughly a week), it would cost the customer $2,000 for the scrapbook.  Most people would not be able to afford this book.  On top of that, I have not figured in the materials used in the book. I usually spend about $80-$100 on supplies alone because I do not want to run out, or in case the paper I select or what the client selects is discontinued.  The same goes with writing.  If a client hires me to write 10 articles, and I work that same $50/hour for 40 hours, the client may not be able to afford me either.
However, I can put a set price on a scrapbook, and my books run about $200 per book and higher, I can throw in the cost of supplies, and I can work as many hours as I can.  I can charge $7-$10 per page, depending on the size of each page and the album.  So, a typical 20-page, 12 x 12 scrapbook album at $10 + the cost of an album may run about $210, and it also depends on how much the other materials cost, so about $310. It may take me 3 hours, or the full 40, but I have a set price.  Writing prices can be set by the word count.  A 1,500-word article would run about $750 (1,500 x $.50/word =$750).  Please do not be ashamed of naming your price, but also be prepare to hear the word, “negotiate”.  If they want you bad enough, the client will pay that price.  If not, you can always turn them down as well.
Also by the hour limits you a well.  Another term for “price by product” is “price by project”.  This is where you could turn that $750 quote into, “I will do 5 articles for $750”, but the bottom line is to have a repeat customer. ($750/5 = $150 for each article)
Whatever you do to get to the end goal of having a sustainable income, remember to start out with these smaller stepping stone that is the start of your writing career.
am I that boring?  I don’t think so.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Announcement: Traveling Plans

Getting away from it all without tearing your hair out
(c) 2016 P.Lynne Designs
Warning:  it may contain affiliate links

It has now come to my attention that you cannot go on the annual family vacation because someone decided that they needed to do everything on their vacation.  This option usually costs an arm, a leg, their home, and their first-born child.  Aww, the sacrifices we make as a family these days to make vacation living a fun adventure.
I am here to tell you that you do not have to do that type of sacrifice.  Not at all, my friend. I want to tell you a little secret.
BUT FIRST ….
A little announcement ….
I started this project when I had 5 blogs and on the verge of creating what is now forming into P. Lynne Designs. I had to quit because I was burning out.  I have been inching to get back to it, and that announcement is I am going to re-write my Disney Vacation book.  You never saw it because of that burnout.  I was adding too much, and I will be starting over again from the very beginning.  I never truly planned out this book, and that is the second reason why I quit writing it.  I never really planned on how much I was going to write.  I can discuss all of that later.  For right now, I want to get back started.  
OK, enough of that, back to the secret that is a vacation…
The secret to a good vacation is planning.  Notice I did not say the perfect vacation.  If you are a Christian, you know that only God is perfect.  Planning helps out a lot.  Planning keeps you sane and focused of the task at hand, and the plan is to have fun.  Planning for a vacation also helps you:
  • ·         Know how much money to spend
  • ·         What places in that area you want to see
  • ·         Where you want to eat

And so on ….
Here are the areas you need to concentrate when planning
  • 1.      Where do you want to go?
  • 2.      Time off (both parents and children)
  • 3.      Budget.
  • 4.      Where you are going to live for the next few days
  • 5.      Eating
  • 6.      Activities
  • 7.      Transportation
  • 8.      Packing

Now I could go on about this, but for now, I will make it brief.
The first part is where.  I will use Disney Parks as an example.  Let’s go with that for now.  You have dreamed of Disney, your family loves Disney. 
There are 6 different regions that hold a Disney Park Resort:  2 in the United States, 1 in Japan, 2 in China, and 1 in France. So, which one do you and your family want to visit?
For most people, it is obvious, go to the one in your country.  This is a little bit tricky if you live in either the United States or China, where there are two sets of resort parks to choose from.  Well, technically 3 if you are also close to Tokyo Disney.  OK, you decided to go to Disney World. 
Time Off
Once you decided where to go, the next question is when are you going?  This depends on your job and your children’s schedule.  The job is a no brainer.  If you are new in your position or company, wait a year before going.  Why?  Consider this:  There are people who have been there longer than you and have more experience than you.  Your company may operate on the “Low man on the totem pole” method (AKA Seniority) or the “earned time off” Method (AKA PTO).  In either case, it is best to wait a year to ask for any time off, so skip the vacation.  If you have been there for a while, you know by now when you can ask for time off, and when you cannot.  The tricky part is when you have kids in school.
School systems have gotten smarter since my last day in the 12th grade.  I might say “dumber” since my last day, depending on where you live, and how much the school is willing to turn you into children services for a 5-day vacation to the “Mouse’s Florida Home”. As an aunt of 5 (3 of which are currently school-age children, 1 grown, and a great-nephew of age 2), I am in constant watch of the changes within the Columbus and Dayton Ohio school systems.   They are not as bad as some of these school districts across the U.S. and in other countries.  One school system in the UK can impose a fine on a parent if you pull your child out of school for anything but an illness.  Another school district in Oklahoma, U.S. can turn a parent into children services if a child has several unexcused absences (equal to that of a week-long vacation).  If this sounds like your school system, my suggestion is to do the typical Summer Vacation/Spring Break/Winter Break routine.  It works out in the end and no one gets arrested, fined, or working out visitation rights with children services.  Apparently, schools do not see an educational value in Disney.   
What is your budget? 
You can decide what your budget is this way:  What is your income and how much you are willing to save.  Disney has several options to work with every type of budget.  Figure how much you are willing to spend on transportation, living arrangements, food, and activities.  One website mentions a method called “Pre-trip costs”.  They also said to allow for spurges, such as foods you never tried before, activities you never done before (I am thinking about trying a zipline course on my cruise in September, even though I am afraid of heights, LOL), and so on.  If you allow these things, you feel less guilty when you overspend because it is already figured in the budget.
How are you getting there?
 Plane, car, train, or bus.  Teleportation is not yet available, and it probably will not be available in my lifetime, although I am not sure I want my atoms scattered throughout the cosmos for two seconds (thinking Star Trek thoughts, LOL).  Anyway, since the last one is not available, you have to do a bit of snooping around for this part of your planning.  What is the best price?  How much will it cost you to get there and around?  Again, it should be in the budget part of your planning.  For example, from where I live, I can fly for 4 hours at the current rate of $484 (April 19, 2017) and returning April 25, 2017, which is the typical Disney Trip.  (there is also a cheap trip of $107 I found in Google search).  I can drive, which using my car (a 2008 Dodge Caliber), I need to get an oil change (it is screeching that right now), and gas is now $2.13 at the station where I live and in Orlando, Florida, it is $2.10 ($.03 difference, wow).  My car is a gas guzzler, so I might opt for renting one.  The average cost of an SUV per day is $44 (for now).  Trains run about $1,200 for the round trip, and buses run about $141 for the trip to Orlando from where I live.  Let’s rent a car.
Now where are you going to stay?  Disney World has two options:  On-site, Off-site.   This is the typical case for most theme parks today.  The advantage between the two is when you stay on-site, there are a lot of things to do outside of the actual park itself, many of the amenities are free.  Your transportation is free, activities are free at the resort (some, not all).  The problem with Disney is there are so many resorts (which there are 23 of them), and they are divided between value, moderate, and deluxe.  If you are the type of family that does not have that much money in the budget, always on the go, and you use the rooms as a stopping and sleeping point, maybe it is best to have a value resort.  Deluxe resorts are high-end resorts and close the parks.  Some may have eat-in kitchens, and you have lots of money to blow (splurge on). 
Off-site (or Off property) are your Hotel 6, Holiday Inn Express, Sheraton, or even there are some places where you can rent a home for a week (Airbnb is considered).  These places are your home.  You do not have housekeeping to come and make your bed, make cute little animals.  It is like you are living in your own home.   Some properties even have their own pool at each home.  You do need to leave the place where you found it.  I have a link to the advantages and disadvantages of staying off and on site above.

I am going to stop there because this post is growing as I type.  I know I have a lot of Disney World references in this post, and this is not sponsored by them at all.  As I have explained many times that I am still a big kid at heart, and I love Disney.  Your favorite vacation spot may be a cruise, Las Vegas, Spain, Italy, or even Africa.  It may be a quiet romantic getaway for 2 without the kids, or girl friend’s “get away from it all trip.”  Whatever the trip, the budget, and the time spend away from “normal life”, make it a good one by planning, budgeting, and “enjoying the moments” while there.  The world is not going to cave in a week, and you deserve it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter Everyone. We All have given birth to a Baby Giraffe. Life is Back to Normal

Happy Resurrection Sunday to all my Christian readers.  Happy Easter to everyone else. 
Fresh Flowers (c) 2015
P.Lynne Designs
I normally do not write anything on a Sunday.  Sunday for me is a day of rest, going to church, and being with friends and family.  I am going to be honest about the reason behind writing in this moment. (Grammarly is going to have a field day with that last sentence.  I do not care at the moment, LOL)
Ladies, do you feel like you have just given birth to a 6-foot baby?  I do, and I will tell you why.  In case you have been living under a rock since February, April the giraffe finally had her baby.  It is a boy, and all the world can now say, “Awww, isn’t him cute”.  (Yes Grammarly, I meant to say that.  It is not proper English, but I meant it-It’s called baby talk). 
There have been plenty of, “when is she having that thing?” “I could have given birth to 4 kids by now.”  We were pacing more than Oliver, the father of said baby boy giraffe.  We were giving tips on how April should have her baby, April baby showers (after all, what would you get a giraffe who has everything), and tips on feeding.  
Folks, I have some news that will startle anyone …. wait for it…. still waiting?  It’s going to be good… Still waiting ….
ANIMALS THINK DIFFERENTLY THEN HUMANS!!!!
There I said it.  Think of it this way, you would not want someone to come into your home, be on baby watch, tell you how to have a baby, and then tell you how to take care of it.  Would you?  Animals are on that natural rhythm cycle that only God has given them.  God knew when this baby was to be born.  Yes, it is fascinating to watch.  I was watching myself for a while.  At the times I was watching, April was pacing back and forth.  Was she in pain?  You bet she was, and she said it through body language.  Oliver, the father was pacing back and forth, like human males do when they want to know what is going on with their child.  The difference between a human birth and a giraffe birth is a human female carry the baby for 9 months.  Giraffes, on the other hand, carries their baby for 15 MONTHS!!! Ladies, how would you like to be pregnant for that long?   My tummy hurts as I write this. Those of you who had kids, can you see yourself carrying a baby for that long?  I asked my mom two seconds ago, and all I heard at the other end of the phone were crickets, LOL. I can only imagine the look on her face when I asked that question.  So relax now, Oh wary one, you can go back to normal life as you know it to be.   
Easter Frantic-How not to take a picture and how to make a basket.
I already have it posted on Instagram, but this is what My Easter Saturday looked like….
Easter Saturday with the kids
(c) P.Lynne Designs

I decided about 20 years ago to make Easter baskets for the kids.  I started first with my baby sister and my oldest nephew (who are now 29 and 21), then it went to the niece and nephews from there.  I love doing it, but you will never see this practice in my shop, P. Lynne Designs, at least not yet.  It is worth every penny that I spend, and I love doing it.   I have scaled down the production, but for my sister and nephew, I had candy, something specific to them personally, and a stuffed animal.   This year, for the niece and nephews, no stuffed animal was included, something specific to their personally, a fire truck for the boys, and the girl got a mermaid doll and some candy.  We did not dye eggs this year.  This is the reason why I decided to make Easter baskets:
Have you seen the price of an Easter baskets lately?  No, seriously, you can pay a credit card bill for the month for the amount you pay for this stuff.  This year, everyone’s stuff came from Dollar Tree.  This is not a sponsored post, but man, I could kiss the person behind the “everything’s is $1” concept.  In recent years, I would go to Target and go for it, and I will admit that next year’s baskets will contain part Dollar Tree/part Target items (The Target Dollar spot is really legit).   
·        
Sorry for being a little with this picture...
(c) P.Lynne Designs
Get a basket, any basket (one was a Longaberger basket, one was a baseball fabric basket, and two pail buckets)
·         Go to the party store and get PAPER filler for grass, none of that plastic mess.  
o   Plop at the bottom of the basket. 
·         Fill with candy, a few eggs (make sure you boil and dye first), a couple toys they like (please do not put a whole basketball in there)
o   If they are older (pre-teen, teen, or adult), put something age appropriate for them.
·         Wrapping is optional (this is not a Christmas or birthday present), and let them enjoy. 
The best part is if you are a grandparent or aunt or uncle, you do not have to see them on a sugar high, send them home with parents.  Your job is done.

So, Happy Easter, everyone, you gave birth to a baby RAFFY, and you children are on a chocolate Easter Bunny sugar high.   You survived shopping for new Easter clothes (I will tell you about my bad Easter Dress hunting later), and now you can rest and enjoy your dinner that took only 14 hours to cook, but hey, it is all worth the effort, isn’t it?