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. 
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.


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.