Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Honeysuckle

I can taste that honeysuckle
And it’s still so sweet
When it grows wild
On the banks down at old Camp Creek
And it calls to me like a warm wind blowin’

—-Little Big Town, Boondocks

Honeysuckle 005   Honeysuckle 022Smellin’ the honeysuckle lately. Though I cannot share the sweet scent, I can share an image or two.

The lyrics from Little Big Town’s Boondocks says it all.

The Dos and Don’ts of Pinterest

pintrest

Everyone loves Pinterest. OK, well, not everyone, but a lot of folks sure do — myself included. The appeal varies from person to person. Some may like the photos, others may like the user-friendly interface, and for some it could simply be the ability to share. For everything we love about Pinterest, there are a few things we can do to make it better.
Recently, some co-workers and I hosted a baby shower for a colleague. The shower went great; there was too much food and plenty of laughter — just what a baby shower is supposed to have, right? Right. It was great and went off without a hitch, including the diaper tree I made for the shower. (Yay me!)
Before the shower ever started (think weeks in advance) I was searching Pinterest for baby shower ideas, themes, and décor. There was one irritating thing that kept popping up: the links from pins weren’t working. UGH! That got me thinking what other issues are out there? So I complied a list of Dos and Don’ts for Pinterest.
We will start with the fun stuff.
DO: Create specific boards. Trust me on this one. If you create a generic “Food” board as I did, you will quickly find out it’s too general and crowded. If you are searching through your one food board for a dessert it may take longer than you thought to find it, if at all. But if you have a “Dessert” board it will be — in theory — much easier to find. Get detailed with it if you want! If your food board is covered up in chicken recipes, create a new board – call it Chicken Recipes – and move all these recipes into one board. These are your boards. Do what makes sense to you so that you can quickly reference any pin.
DO: Create visually appealing photos. If you are into this kind of thing keep reading. (If not, skip this one and move to the next.) The attraction to Pinterest, for me and many others, is the photos. I hate dill pickles, but create a great visually appealing photo of pickles (as seen here) and I’ll pin it! Seriously. Keep the photo clean. Don’t clutter it up with stuff. Make it your own. This is your Pinterest board; it should be a reflection of your personality.
DO: Give credit where credit is due. If you didn’t create the art (photo, drawing, illustration) for your pin, please give credit to the person who did. If it’s a recipe you tried from someone else, create a link to the original recipe in your blog post (here is an example). If you are simply re-pinning, make sure the link works and create a pin from the URL directly. You can also give credit in the description.
DO: Interact. Comment. Like. Pin. If it’s worth re-pinning, you can like it too. Commenting helps others determine if it’s worth a pin. I found an exercise that works the inner thighs (I checked to make sure the linked worked first) pinned it and tried the move a few nights later. I commented on how difficult the moves were, but that over time I could see where the benefits would outweigh the pain. Comments like that help others determine if it’s worth trying. It also shows activity which usually means it’s a good link.
DO: Follow. Following boards are the whole point of Pinterest. Following moves and inspires others. If you find you are re-pinning a lot of stuff from one person or company click on the profile and see what else they are up to. If you find a fashionista that’s a great cook, but aren’t too crazy about her (or his) fashion choices you can simply follow the food boards. You are not obligated to follow one person or company’s entire profile. There are several food companies in which I only follow a few of their boards. But if you love all of the ideas and pins from your bestie, please by all means follow all! There are options within Pinterest. (I’ve also found, especially on company profiles, that if you follow them, they will follow you!)
DO: Pin from the URL (the address in the toolbar on the top of your page). If you happen to run across a handy-dandy blog post on a DIY fruit and veggie cleaner (here) make sure that the entire URL is inside the pin. Otherwise you may lose the link to the post. I discovered this very error in my own blog and Pinterest pages while I was cleaning things up prior to this post. Some blogs offer a Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and, etc. button(s). Watch those buttons! All it does (as I discovered) is provide a link to the site and not the actual content (like a post or particular photo). See the difference in the these two links?
www.hannahandharley.wordpress.com This is just a link to the blog in general.
https://hannahandharley.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-movie-list/ This is a specific link to a post from April about my favorite movies. See the difference?
Now on to the not so fun stuff.
DON’T: Take credit for artwork you didn’t do. Really. It’s not cool and could get you kicked off Pinterest. This applies to anything on the Internet. If you didn’t create it, generate it, or write it, it’s not yours. Period. (There’s also something called copyright laws and if you disregard them and get Pinterest in trouble, guess what? You are liable for Pinterest’s legal fees as well as your own. Seriously. It’s in the terms and conditions.)
DON’T: Repin a broken link! One extra step or click will tell you very quickly if that link will work or not. There’s nothing more annoying than clicking on “How to make a diaper tree” photo (for the fifth time) only to find the link is broken or it’s just a photo with no instructions. Or worse: clicking on a Pinterest link titled “How to keep your Pinterest page up to date” and having an error message pop up on you that the link is no longer available. (Yes, that really happened!)
DON’T: Only hock products. Huh? I’m mainly speaking to businesses on Pinterest, but it applies to everyone. It’s really annoying to search for “baby shower games” only to be taken directly to an Amazon page to purchase a baby shower game book. If I wanted to purchase a baby shower game book, I’d go to Amazon myself. Trust me, if your product is worthy of purchasing it will sell itself with gentle and subtle blog posts and re-pins within Pinterest. That’s not to say that I’m totally against selling stuff. I’m not. I’m saying if you want me to purchase your baby shower game book create a blog providing me with ideas and some décor suggestions that match the games and then give me the link to the Amazon page (or etsy or the web site directly) somewhere within the blog. Pinterest is about presentation as much as anything. Present your product to me or show me how it can make me better. I will determine if your product is worthy of purchase. Don’t force it on it me with a link. You will lose if you do that. (Just this week Pinterest update its site specifically for businesses that intend to sell on the site. Check out their blog for more details.)
DON’T: Be rude or lewd. Pinterest is meant to be fun. It’s not a place to spew hatred, vulgarity, or toxicity. Don’t do it. It’s not cool.
DON’T: Post every pin or re-pin to other social media sites. Notice a keyword in that sentence: every. I’m a big fan of Pinterest, but I don’t want to see everything you pin in my Facebook news feed. That’s a good way to get unfriended, my friend. If you want to share a pin from a recipe you tried on Facebook, cool! I’ll take a look at it. If you want to share an epic fail from Pinterest, go for it! I do not want to see everything you pinned in your “Get my Healthy On” board over the course of a Monday night. The same thing applies to your tweets in my Facebook news feed. I don’t want to know your opinion on how well Jacoby Jones performed on Dancing with the Stars last night. Ask yourself “is this something I’d want to see in my news feed?” before you start updating your status and pinning simultaneously.
These are just suggestions. Most people follow these guidelines on a regular basis. It’s those few people (those annoying few) who tend to muck it up for everyone else.  If you have your suggestions that I’ve left please feel free to let me know. Happy pinning!

The Oklahoma City Tornado

When a tornado strikes you can only hope everyone finds safety and shelter. Yesterday, this was not so. Sadly there was loss of life. Tragic.

In the midwest to the southeast parts of the country tornadoes are a part of life, much like earthquakes in California and blizzards in the northeast. It’s never easy to watch the damage mother nature can create.

There are a few tips you can follow that may help during a tornado. It should be noted there is no guarantee that by following these tips you will be unharmed as tornadoes are naturally unpredictable and freak accidents do occur.

Tornado Safety Tips:

  • If you are in a building with a basement get to it! Avoid windows or doors with windows and get under a sturdy table. If that’s not available use a mattress or sleeping bag. Protect yourself from anything that could potentially fall through the floor above you.
  • If there’s no basement available like in an office building or one level home. Get to the center of the building away from doors and windows. Try to protect yourself from flying debris with a sleeping bag, a mattress, or even a couch cushion.
  • If you are in a multilevel home or office building get to the lowest level possible. If you can’t get to the lowest level get away from the doors and windows. Try to get into the most interior part of the building you can get to and lay face down or crouch down as best as you can and protect the back of your head with you hands.
  • If you are in a mobile home, get out! Even if its anchored to the ground get out! Find shelter or safety in a permanent building near the mobile home. If there isn’t a building available find low lying land, get face down or crouch down and protect as much of your body as you can.  The chances of surviving a tornado are reduced dramatically when in a mobile home.
  • This last tip may be tricky. If you are in vehicle and can see the tornado from a distance you might be able to avoid it or even outrun it. (Though that’s not recommended.) NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recommends the following: “If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible.” They also say “If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.” As a Southerner, I’ve always been told to get out of the car, get away from the car, and jump in a ditch! Here in Arkansas ditches are plentiful. If you can’t find a ditch get low and protect yourself as much as you can.

You can find the NOAA tornado safety tips web page here.

In the past decade or so, Arkansas has had it’s share of tornado outbreaks. These followings tips are based off of my experience(s) and a few close calls. Here’s hoping I don’t have to follow my own tips.

Hannah and Harley’s Safety Tips:

If you have pet(s) like a dog or cat, make sure they have a collar with a tag with your household contact information on it. Harley doesn’t wear his collar inside the house normally, but when bad weather is on the way his collar and thundershirt go on! I hope no one has to follow this tip, but just in case your four-legged family member gets away from the group during a storm the collar will help bring em home.
With today’s technology we know in advance when the weather will get tough. Use that knowledge to prepare.

  • Charge phones (If you have a land line, don’t assume it will still work when the power goes out. Even most land line phones are powered electronically now.)
  • Check batteries in the battery powered radio (If there’s extras let the kiddos have a battery operated toy. There’s always potential for the power to go out even in a thunderstorm. This will give them something to do while you focus on other things like the family’s safety.)
  • Put the kiddos’ bike helmets in the safe spot along with vital medication like inhalers or insulin. You might even consider a blanket and/or pillow.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows where the safe spot is at in the house. Harley may not know a lot of things, but he knows it’s not play time when the collar and thundershirt go on him and the clock radio (with battery back up) goes to our safe spot.

If you don’t have a radio get one! It’s doesn’t have to be a fancy high tech weather radio a clock radio or shower radio will work just as well. Make sure that there’s the ability to run it via battery before you purchase it though. For all of our technology and abilities, it is useless with out the electrical power needed to run it. That’s the beauty of radio: when the power goes out, they are still on!

Hopefully no one will have to follow any of these tips. Knowledge is power and when the power goes out, knowledge and preparation just might save your life.

If you are interested and willing, if you’d like to help those affected by Monday’s disaster in Oklahoma City, OK. Click here. This will take you to the American Red Cross donation site.

The Cleaning Stuff

fruit 2

More and more it seems as if there too many chemicals out there that are doing more harm than good. At least that’s the impression I’m getting. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too crazy about harsh chemicals on my fruit and veggies so I decided to wash my healthy treats with a simple cleanser.

It’s a simple recipe: only three ingredients and is below. I’ve only had the fruit for a little more than a week after I washed it so I’ve not really been able to tell a difference in anything, but it did come recommended from several friends. I’m using it on my fruits and veggies and I will update later after I’ve used it several times to let you know more.

The Cleaning Stuff:

  • one cup of vinegar (I used white)
  • one cup of lemon juice (I used two of those plastic lemons)
  • one cup of water

I’m sure this is very familiar to those who make their own cleaning solutions for products at home. I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have or a variation of this concoction that works better for you. Enjoy and please let me know what you think if you try this one!

UPDATE: May 21, 2013: The fruit still tastes great and fresh and is still going strong.