Lavender Linen Spray

Home should be a safe haven – your sleeping area, especially.  My office is in my bedroom as well as my alter, my piano, tons of books and, of course, the bed.  I spend a lot of time in this room and I really like to keep it comfortable and inviting. If I’m going to spend so much time in a place, I want to enjoy it. One of the things I enjoy most is a bed dressed with clean, warm sheets, just out of the dryer.  I have a bit of a ritual (I like rituals) for sheet day and I thought I’d share it with you.

I strip the sheets and pillow cases off the bed and start them in the wash.  I then throw all the pillows in the dryer – since they can’t be washed, but still get dust and animal hair and human stuffs on them – I put them in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. When I pull them out, I spray lavender linen spray on them, as well as the mattress and mattress pad. When the sheets come out of the dryer, I do the same with them after putting them on the bed.  Usually, I then slide into bed, even if it’s not bedtime for a few minutes just to enjoy the warm sheets and smell of lavender.  It’s a very comforting, self nurturing thing to do and I recommend it, highly!

Linen sprays can be quite expensive, but not if you make them yourself!  Here’s my recipe -

  • 8-10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 tsp. witch hazel
  • 1 cup distilled water

Mix the ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle (available at craft stores, even some markets)

You could do this with any essential oil that you enjoy the scent of. Makes a great gift, too!

Opus Domini Mobile Pro for iPad and iPhone

I have spent so much money and so much time downloading goal and time planning apps.  You don’t even want to know how much. So, the other day when I saw this article, by the lovely Britt, that mentioned Opus Domini Mobile Pro and how close it came to the Franklin Covey planning system, I knew I had to try it.  You see, I love Franklin Covey.  The system literally changed my life. I purchased my first FC yearly planner in, I think, 2000.  I worked through all the exercises and I completely fell in love with that way of planning.  It just made sense.  Something clicked and I was able to figure out how I was blocking myself from achieving the things I really wanted.  Heck, I was better able to figure out what it was I wanted in the first place. I became a huge Covey geek and religiously followed the planning methods, quadrant theories and read all the books. I even bought the software to design and print your own forms on their specialty papers with the rounded corners so that everything matched.  I had a raspberry colored binder and even an engraved plaque for the front in case someone couldn’t figure out that the pink, geeky, very thick binder belonged to me.

When I first started to go digital, my first smart phone was a Palm.  A Treo, I believe.  I bought the FC software for desktop and the Palm and I loved it.  The planning became so second nature that I didn’t even have to buy the kits anymore.  I tweaked and adjusted everything to really fit my needs and I even started to teach other people how to do it.  (There are pages of posts that mention Franklin Covey and goal planning on ColorMePink!).

When I started using iPhone, I started searching for Franklin Covey apps and I was really disappointed at how there really weren’t any.  Maybe the company is going more towards a corporate training business model, but I really think they dropped the ball on the iPhone planning market.  Reading reviews in the iTunes store, there seem to be many people who agree with me.

In giving you all this information, it’s my hope that you’ll see just how much time went into finding an app like this.

Without even thinking about it, I downloaded the Opus Domini app. For $5.99 it was a no-brainer. Opening it for the first time was a little like coming home, if you’ll indulge my drama for a bit.

The first screen is your daily page.  Whether they be scheduled appointments and tasks, or a general list of the things you’d like to accomplish for the day, you can structure them however you like. You can even rate them according to quadrant and importance (here’s a link with a quick explanation if you’re not familiar with that), the other side of the page is for note taking, etc – I use that space for not only notes, but to record my list of gratitude for the day (five things I’m grateful for each day). Above is a weather widget, which you can turn off if you don’t like it and an inspirational quote (I love quotes). The tasks have lots of options for recurring, priority, etc.

The next tab is for Master Tasks:  Things that I have on my plate right now that I need to make sure I work on.

Next tab is Compass:  I don’t have this filled out in this screen shot because I tend to get very personal and brutally honest with this and clearly, I already share too much.  In a nut shell, there are four areas of your life that you need to focus on to get into, or maintain balance.  They are: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual.  It’s so easy to let one or more of these slip, but for me, when I am paying attention to all four, I’m much better balanced, happier, on track, etc.  Running a business, being a mom and wife, whole food advocacy, meal planning, blogging, homeschooling, friendships, creative pursuits – it’s hard to keep them all in balance.  I find that the compass idea helps me tremendously.

Goals: Tangible, real, goals. I love that I can list these and then use the slider to track the progress. Looking at this, I can see how far I’ve come and how close I am to releasing my book. I can keep track of where we are in the kitchen remodel and I can gently remind myself that I’m trying to get healthier.  I like to chunk the really tough goals into smaller pieces so that I’m not overwhelmed.

Mission, Vision and Values: To me, this is the core of the planning system. Again, I started to get really personal, so I’m just sharing a portion.  My mission statement (which needs updating) will go under “Mission”, my “Vision” are the things I have my sights set on. And my “Values” are the things that are important to me.  The most effective way I’ve found to do this is by writing a clarifying statement for each value (again FC’s idea, not mine).  For example:  “Honesty: I am impeccable with my word, honoring my commitments, yet telling the truth in a way that is never mean.”  Doing it that way really hones in on what the definition of each value really is to me. It helps me to get real with myself and sometimes things that were valuable to me in the past, are not valuable now.  Writing out that clarifying statement helps me to determine what it is that I want to be, not what I think others want me to be or what I’m supposed to be.  Make sense?

So, there it is.  I give this app 4.5 stars.  It’s not perfect, but it’s damn close. There are no syncing capabilities, I’m using this on my iPad and it would be lovely for it sync to the phone, but they promise them in the near future and the only other thing I would add is a “Have, Do, Be” checklist.  I find that to be so helpful and I have one in Evernote, but it would be nice to have it all within this app.

Great job Piso13!

Disclosure: I love the app.  No one gave me anything to say this.

QR Codes – Should You Have One?

The short answer?  Why not? These little black and white graphics have been popping up everywhere and more and more people seem to be interested, so if you’ve got something interesting to embed in one, I say go ahead.

But what are they?
QR stands for “Quick Response” and they are a black and white, two dimensional graphic that you scan with your smart phone that has all kinds of information embedded in it.  It could be a coupon, contact information, a URL, a location using Google Maps (very cool!) or any other data.

How do I scan them?
First you’ll need a reader app. I use QR Reader for iPhone.  There’s a free version, but if you hate the ads, you can upgrade to no ads, for 99 cents.
Visit the app store for your particular smart phone and search for QR Reader and choose whichever one appeals to you.  Once you have your app installed, simply open it when you find a code you’d like to scan, place it over the image and your camera will automatically scan from within the app.  If you’d like to try it now, here’s a QR Code that I generated.  It’s my contact information that will go directly into your phone book and a memo that tells you about a secret code for a major discount on my services.

Do I need one?
Again, why not?  There very easy, free to do and they might come in handy.  My favorite place so far to create them is Delivr – again… Free, easy and I like that they have the contact information option. You just fill out the information, click “generate” and you’ve got the code to embed into any page.

One Last Thing
Make sure you’ve got interesting data to embed.  Whether it’s a coupon code, or promotional text, or whatever, make sure that your data is interesting, otherwise people are just going to get mad that you wasted their time.

Lots of camera phones are also able to read these. Here’s a comprehensive list and instructions for lots of phones.

Need more help with this?  Want to track it? Then, please consider contacting me for a quote.  I’d love to work with you!

What Are You Saying?

In this time of social media, your website, tweets, Facebook updates and every other bit of social media that you participate in paint a picture for your prospective and current clients. Are you taking that seriously? Does your website reflect the image that you want to put in the public eye? I’d like to suggest that you really take a look at your collective representation and decide if you’re putting your best face forward.

I know it’s very popular lately to hire someone to do your tweeting and update your Facebook page, but I would suggest that you pay very close attention to what they’re saying. Remember, they’re speaking for you. As far as your clients are concerned that’s your voice. I see so many businesses tweeting nothing but links to their website and poorly constructed filler messages with little content, misspelled words and grammar that would make your 7th grade English teacher cringe. Self promotion isn’t a bad thing, but unless you’re a very sought after brand, you’re going to need compelling content to get noticed.  Not everyone is literally inclined and that’s OK. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. If you’re paying someone to be your voice, make sure that it’s a voice you’re proud of – and if you can’t afford to hire someone and you’re not inclined to do it, find someone in your organization who is and make it worth their while to be an effective voice for you.

With a little bit of effort and some observation you can enormously improve your online identity. Don’t let someone else cause you lost opportunities because of these mistakes.

Three New (to Me) Plugins for WordPress

I just finished up a client’s site and did some reorganization of some of my own sites. Along the way, I discovered some really cool plugins and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Popularity Contest – This is a really intricate plugin. What I love about it is that you have all the collected information in the dashboard, but it also comes with all the code that you need in order to display this information on your blog if you choose to. By post, category, archive, etc. You can put the code outside the loop in the sidebar, or footer, or wherever and you don’t have to be really code savvy to do it. Keep track of the popularity of your posts, and/or show it off! Very well done.

No Self Pings – Some people really like that internal links show up in your pings, and some people don’t. I’m of the don’t variety. Sometimes I might link to something strategically for search engine optimization, or whatever and I don’t always want that displayed. Also, if no one else is linking to the post it sort of looks sad to me. I turn ping notifications off because of it. With this plug-in, you don’t have to worry about it. I like that a lot. I just turned ping notifications back on and I’ll keep you posted.

Widget Context – This one is my favorite right now. It allows you to choose what pages certain widgets show up on. I don’t have a lot of use for it on ColorMePink, but I’ve already used it on a couple of client sites and I know that there’s a certain advertising program that won’t allow you to have their add content on your review pages, this makes it super easy to just remove it. You can control widget appearance by URL, category, page, word count, archive, etc. Sometimes something comes along that is so perfect, so useful and so simple that you have to marvel that it was never thought of before.

Six of My Favorite WordPress Plug Ins

Every so often I go through my plugins, upgrading, activating, deactiving, deleting. . . While I was doing it today, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites. Most of them are pretty well known, but I thought I’d share anyway, just in case you might have missed one. I have to tell you it took me forever to narrow it down this far and as always, I do reserve the right to change my mind.

I tried to skip the really obvious ones, but I couldn’t completely as you’ll see below. So, here they are in no particular order, my current favorite WordPress Plug Ins.

  1. Send It Really easy, yet robust newsletter subscription plug in. Yes, it’s in Italian, but there are English instructions too. I love this one!
  2. WP Greet Box – Let’s you show a different welcome message to your visitor, depending upon the referring URL. Very Cusomizable. Change multiple messages, placement, etc. Very easy to use.
  3. Post Ideas – Some people keep them as drafts, but that seems messy to me some how, I much prefer this plug in that lets you jot down any ideas, relevant links, keywords, etc., till you’re ready. Ranks by priority too.
  4. Blog Icons – Makes it ridiculously easy to add favicon and icons for Ipod/Itouch icons to your blog
  5. Follow My Links – Prevents WordPress from automatically adding a “rel=nofollow” attribute. Show your commenters Linky Love, which leads us to: Edit! The gracious author of this plugin was kind enough to stop by and explain that this does not pertain to comments left by readers, only the “authorial comments (i.e., comments made by the post author)”. I took it to mean the author of the comments, because I don’t actually read documentation, I skim it and then just keep pressing buttons till it either works, or I break it completely. You can see his whole comment below.
  6. Comment Luv – Everyone is already using this right? It goes without saying, right?

So tell me, what are your current favorites? Anything you think I absolutely have to know about? I’m all ears eyes. :wassat:

Some of my (Current) Favorite Plug Ins

I’ve been having an awful lot of fun this week setting up a couple of blogs for clients, friends and family. Of course I’m always tweaking this one, as I’m sure you may have noticed, but it’s always interesting to start with a blank canvas and build according to the writer’s unique needs and desires. I thought I’d share with you some of the things that I found, some great old stand-bys, and where and how to implement them. We’re WordPress Centric ’round here, so if that’s not your flavor, you might want to skip this.

First I thought that I would try the plug in that’s gotten so much buzz lately; the Google Analyticator. I came to Google Analytics a little late in the game as I’ve been using Sitemeter for so long that I didn’t really see the need to change. Wrong. Google Analytics is so much more powerful with so many different ways of looking at your traffic and your readers. The Analyticator makes it very easy to install your code to each page, but there are also some other features making it really useful, like putting the code in your footer with the click of a button for faster load times, tracking your adsense information etc. Useful stuff!

404 Notifier: A great one for anyone, but especially if you’ve had your site for a long time and there have been several incarnations of it, there are most definitely old links to pages that no longer exist from other blogs, forums, etc. With 404 Notifier, every time someone gets a 404 error from your site, you’re notified (by email or RSS feed) of the page they were looking for and you can then either modify your 404 page to send the visitor elsewhere in your site or simply create another file of that name. Very cool.

Blog Icons might be my favorite one this week – because I’m insane for customized icons. This one lets you easily add your customized Apple iPod Touch / iPhone icon, favicon and feed image to your blog. Go ahead and look, take your iphone and visit colormepink.com – click on the “+” and choose “Add to Home Screen”. Now you have my pretty butterfly icon right there, easy access!

Post Ideas: This is great. Instead of the 300 drafts I would sometimes wind up with, Post Ideas keeps your ideas, target tags and links you want to reference. When you’re ready to write the actual post, click “Write This” and it converts your idea into a New Post and deletes it from Post Ideas. I added a link to this page of my admin panel on my Iphone as well, so I can jot this information down when I’m out of the house. Note: This is compatible with WP 2.7.1 the link is under “Tools” instead of “Manage”.

The last one I’ll talk about today is Podcasting, another one by the developer behind Google Analyticator. Of course you can use it for podcasting, but I needed a way to take a client’s audio file from their commercial and add it to their website for easy listening. This was a simple, elegant way to do it. The best part is, it was so easy to teach the client how to do this for themselves. Yay!

I can’t say enough about WordPress and the community of talented developers working on a never ending stream of great plugins and themes.