BConnected Blogging Conference

A week ago I went to the BConnected Conference in Ottawa in search of inspiration with regards to blogging. I had been last year shortly after starting this blog and was very impressed with the content and relevance of all the speakers.

I didn’t go empty handed to the conference. I had been commissioned to custom make earrings and necklaces for the organizer, Lyne Proulx, and donated jewellery for door prizes.

bconnected conf jewellery

The atmosphere at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Gatineau-Ottawa was lovely and the food was delicious!

bconnected conf 1 food

My Top Ten take-homes from the BConnected Conference:

1. Chantal Bechervaise: “How to Make Yourself More Pinteresting” Convert your PINTEREST account to a Business account to enable verification of your website and to access analytics.

2. Dino Dogan: “Breaking into Media”. Simplify your message. Pare your message down to it’s bare essential so it becomes uniquely yours. Go on a relevant show with a specific message and a product to sell. (ie. book)

Dino Dogan wants to see you on TV!
Dino Dogan wants to see you on TV!

3. Elaine Lindsay “Google+ Hangouts on Air are the hottest ticket around” Hangout on Air videos are FREE and can be reused as content for your website or blog. Host your own TV show!

4. Vanessa Chiasson “So You Want to be a Travel Blogger?” Advice for better blogging: Create a provocative title. Explore storytelling. Add history/context if relevant. Vary your adjectives. Organize with subheadings. Post great photos.

Turnipseed Travel talks Travel Blogging
Turnipseed Travel talks Travel Blogging

5. Jennifer Pinarski “SEO from Start to Finish” Sign up for Google Adwords and Alerts. Optimize and republish old blog posts. Optimize your images (title, alt and description tags). Follow trending topics.

6. Tammy Plunkett “The Care and Feeding of Bloggers” 4 Keys to Optimum Health: Mind, Body (water, sleep, nutrition, exercise), Relationships (community) and Purpose. Take stretching breaks every 1/2 hour (set timer). Put self care on your to-do list.

7. Panel discussion: “Rules of Engagement: Bloggers, Brands and Sponsorships” Be your brand. Be professional. Engage with brands. Don’t be afraid to ask. You are never too new or small. Have a search bar on your website so brands can check your content.

Rules of Engagement for Bloggers and Brands.
Rules of Engagement for Bloggers and Brands.

8. Tony Perez “Navigating the Online Security Landscape” Use different passwords for every platform. Perform all software updates. Remove old plug-ins. Be mindful of external links on your blog (your blog can be at risk).

9. Julie Harrison: “Does Grammar Matter” Don’t use semi-colons! Proofread. Read your post out loud. Triple check headlines. Triple check apostrophes. When in doubt, look it up.

10. David Bird “Google Analytics: Uncovering your Blog’s Secrets” Acquisition, Behaviour, Conversion. Set up GOALS in Google Analytics. Track terms people search for on your site.

Start by StARTing TIP: Get on the mailing list for the BConnected Conference or a similar conference in your region. These conference are inspirational and fun and a great investment in your personal and business growth!

Coconut Oil to the Rescue!

coconut oil

Coconut oil came to my rescue this week!

I have suffered from cankers for as long as I can remember. I have tried everything from Kanka® to natural toothpaste to eliminating fruit and acidic food. When Googling coconut oil this week I discovered that it is effective for treating cankers. In fact, there are hundreds of uses for coconut oil.

Top 5 Uses for Coconut Oil

1. CANKERS AND MOUTH SORES
Melt a small amount of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for about 5 minutes. Repeat a few times a day as needed.

exfoliant

2. NATURAL EXFOLIANT
I created a lovely mixture that I have been using on my face each morning. I gently massage it onto my skin while the shower is steamy. I massage it for a few minutes then thoroughly rinse it off. Not only has it eased away the dry skin, but it moisturizes at the same time and smells heavenly!
Here is my recipe:

Exfoliant
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon medium to fine ground organic coffee

3. MOISTURIZER AND SKIN CARE

I work with my hands and am constantly washing them. I cannot stand the perfumes and chemicals that are in most hand creams. I discovered that coconut oil makes a perfect moisturizer. I apply it generously before bed and wake up with silky smooth hands! It is also great as a lip balm and as a massage oil!

4. HEALTH BENEFITS

At my Focus 5 Mastermind group today my friend Nathalie was explaining that she uses coconut oil as often as possible for its antioxidant properties. She spreads it on toast instead of butter and even dissolves it in her morning coffee! Coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation. It can also aid in constipation.

5. VEGAN BUTTER ALTERNATIVE FOR BAKING

Coconut oil is a fantastic alternative to butter for people who cannot tolerate dairy. I made some amazing vegan Nanaimo bars with coconut oil in the filling and icing. (see recipe in another blog post). It can be used instead of oil to sauté vegetables and can be used to grease pans for baking.

Start by StARTing tip: Clear your cupboards of those products that are full of chemicals and fragrances and consider using coconut oil for a multitude of functions. It is economical, ecological and effective!

Eat Real Food Online Health Summit

health summit cover

I am delighted to have re-connected with an old school-mate from elementary/high school. Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and has created a most inspiring on-line summit to spread the word about the importance of nutrition and health. The Eat Real Food Online Health Summit runs from April 20-26, 2015. It is FREE during the week and videos can be watched for 24 hours after release:

https://www.deliciousalternatives.com/eat-real-food-health-summit/?ref=51

The Eat Real Food Health Summit Logo 1

There is an incredible line-up of health professionals speaking about all kinds of topics including how to avoid or reverse illness.
Learn from top medical specialists, nutritionists and health foodies why it’s so important to eat real food.
Explore how functional medicine combines the best of traditional and alternative therapies to heal the body.
Learn time-saving tips on how to shop for and cook with healthy whole foods.
View entertaining and informative cooking demos with nutrition experts.
Hear stories about people who’ve healed their bodies from debilitating conditions by eating real food.
Topics include fertility, pregnancy, children’s behavioural and health issues, diabetes, chronic illness, cancer, M.S., weight-loss and much more.
If you miss the summit be sure to purchase the package for unlimited access.

https://www.deliciousalternatives.com/eat-real-food-health-summit/order/?ref=51

Start by StARTing Tip: Entrepreneurs and artists you will be much more creative and productive when you take control of your health and fuel your body with real food and nutrition. Check out the summit for great ideas on how to begin to be the best YOU possible!

10 Tips for Creating a YouTube Video Challenge

day 1 spring diy challenge

I am very excited to announce my very first YouTube challenge. I have created the 7 Days of Spring DIY Challenge to share some fun craft ideas and engage my viewers to make and share images of their creations. Viewers are invited to share photos of their projects on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter with the hashtag #7springdiy. I also created a Facebook Group for the challenge: https://www.facebook.com/groups/371944229663362/?fref=ts

Day 1 starts today, April 1, 2015. Here is my first video:

The process of creating the challenge has been challenging! I had a lot of ideas for projects, but narrowed it down to 7 that would be do-able with easily accessible materials.

I was originally inspired to create the challenge by YouTube’s Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga Challenge:

I am hoping that I will have a lot of engagement with viewers. I am moving in the direction of creating a new website that involves teaching, motivating & inspiring. This has been a great first experience in adding a new dynamic to my DIY videos and encouraging interaction with viewers.

10 Tips for Creating a YouTube Video Challenge:

1. Take your time to consider which projects/challenges are appropriate. Research and development is key.
2. Keep it simple. My challenge was going to be longer, but I narrowed it down to 7 days. Start small…it can be a 3-5 day challenge, just get STARTED!
3. Film a close-up of the creation of the project (I used my iPod) then film an intro with you holding the finished project. People like to see who you are and make a personal connection.
4. Create a cover image with text that will be used at the beginning of the video and as the video’s thumbnail when editing in Video Manager (you need to verify your Youtube account to be able to change the thumbnail). Make sure the cover image of all the videos in the challenge have a similar look including the name of the challenge and possibly your key hashtag for the challenge.
5. Create a SEO rich title, description and strategic tags for each video.
6. Create all your videos before you launch your challenge and keep them on “Private” until you are ready to launch. Make each video “Public” day by day.
7. Create buzz on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by announcing the challenge is “coming soon”
8. Create a public Facebook Group for the challenge. Invite friends to join and share.
9. Launch your challenge by making the first video “Public”. Share on Facebook, Pinterest. Twitter and Google+. Add a 15 second video clip on Instagram. Be sure to mention your strategic hashtag whenever you post your challenge on social media. (My hashtag for the 7 Days of Spring DIY Challenge is #7springdiy )
10. Write a blog post about your challenge and share on social media.

Start by StARTing Tip.
Create a YouTube account, if you don’t already have one, and consider creating a video challenge. It can be in any subject area; DIY, cooking, exercise, self-improvement, business, public speaking…the sky is the limit.
Keep it simple and have fun with it…you never know how it will go unless you try!

Breaking up with Sugar!

I have known about the evils of sugar for a very long time. Despite the knowledge, the addiction has been pervasive for as long as I can remember. Sugar was generally banned in our household growing up. We were allowed a “Friday night treat” which consisted of a soft drink (pop). That was about it. I would binge on Frosted Flakes when I went to my friend Sharon’s house and devour bowls of Beeferoni and white bread (also unheard of at my house).

I remember secretly buying and making Jello and hiding it in our cold storage. It went mouldy before it actually set because I didn’t take the time to read the instructions properly! My sisters and I would go to the corner store and buy candy with our allowance (I made 25 cents a week for making the salad each night). When my mom did make Nanaimo bars for special occasions (her trademark sweet), I would binge and eat 7 at a time!

When I had my first job in Toronto (after 4 years as a starving student in Guelph) the stress of having a horrible boss was relieved by nights out binging on sugar. I gained 25 pounds in a short time, which is a lot considering my tiny frame.

After a year of the big city lifestyle I quit my job and moved to Montreal to become a ‘starving artist’. Of course I couldn’t afford to eat out as I did before. My diet completely changed and I become hyper aware of my food intake. I don’t even remember if it was because of a desire to lose weight or a control issue, but I began writing down every ounce of food that I would eat during the day. This obsession lasted two years. I became alarmingly thin, but my boyfriend liked slim women, so he never expressed concerns.

When I would visit my family in Ottawa, my mother and my sister would tell me how great I looked (having lost all my Toronto weight). When I look at photos of that time, I looked emaciated and anorexic.

I stopped having my period for several years and even thought I was pregnant at one point! Finally, as I became successful with my work and happier in my life, my obsession diminished and I stopped focusing on what I was eating. I allowed myself to eat regularly, but continued to have an addiction to sugar. I believed I had a sweet tooth. I had a reputation amongst my friends for having a sweet tooth.

In the last year I have been dabbling with healthier options. I have met a lot of women through my network that promote healthy eating and lifestyle. I have been exploring and experimenting with healthy recipes. I gradually started filling my cupboards with wholesome foods and eliminating the processed and sugary foods.

I now have a totally different view of food. When I go to Tim Hortons and look under the counter NOTHING appeals to me. It doesn’t even look like food anymore. It may be age (I’ll be 50 this year) or having educated myself about healthy alternatives, but I am very GRATEFUL for my new mentality.

image2

Magic Mix
1 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup ground hemp seeds
1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground chia seeds
2 Tablespoons raw Maca powder
2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Pancakes instructions:
Combine:
1/2 cup Magic Mix
1 egg OR 1 TBS chia seeds with (for vegan alternative)
1/3 to 1/2 cup almond milk
Whisk until combined. Allow to sit a few minutes to thicken. Melt neutral tasting coconut oil in a pan. Add scoop of mix and cook on both sides until brown and cooked through. Serve with sliced bananas and fresh or frozen berries and maple syrup.

I’m inspired by many vegan Instagram users that post photos of their healthy breakfast bowls!

image1

I’m loving my naturopath friend Sue-Anne Hickey’s new cookbook featuring this zucchini crust pizza:

http://www.health-and-natural-healing.com/super-healthy-recipes.html

image1

When I do have a sweet craving, I avoid processed sugar and opt for maple syrup, honey or agave:

I LOVE the Oh She Glows vegan cookbook given to me by my friend Stella:

http://ohsheglows.com/the-book/

image3

I recently have taken a couple healthy cooking classes at Provigo in Pierrefonds. Check out their website for courses in your region: http://www.ecoleculinairepc.ca/

image3

Start by StARTing Tip:
STOP telling yourself that you have a sweet tooth and START exploring some healthier options. There are tons of online resources to find healthy recipes, cooking classes, on-line tutorials on Youtube, etc. Follow some healthy lifestyle gurus on social media and fill your newsfeed with healthy options!

Marketing on a Shoestring

ben franklin fail quote

Yesterday I attended the Women’s Entrepreneurial Exchange (We2) luncheon “Marketing on a Shoestring” with expert George Kiorpelidis of Small Business Marketing Formula in Montreal.

George’s presentation was clear and to the point. He highlighted the three reasons that clients will approach you with their business. Customers will go to you if they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you.

GEORGE’S TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL MARKETING
1. Put ORIGINAL material on your blog and Twitter.
2. Tell YOUR story.
3. Do what you do well…A LOT.
4. Build your reputation.
5. Build credibility.
6. Blog consistently.
7. Create a following.
8. Create landing pages that link to your website for every event.
9. Create an opt-in form on your website and on landing pages.
10. Use ATTRACTION marketing (pull vs. push).
11. Craft your elevator speech highlighting 3 main points to express ‘What’s in it for them’ (W.I.F.T.)
12. Be interactive on Linked In.
13. Be interactive on social media and blogs. Comment on others’ posts so people with seek you out and be “pulled” to your landing page.
14. Give relevant information and solutions to people’s problems. (without asking for something in return).

Connect with George Kiorpelidis on LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgekiorpelidis

And check out his website: http://www.smallbusinessmarketingformula.com/

George recommended reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. (click image below to view and/or purchase on Kindle).

jab

Check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s website:

https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/how-to-market-a-small-business-1012855314.html

and subscribe to Gary Vaynerchuk on YouTube for more inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/user/GaryVaynerchuk/videos

For tips on creating landing pages:
http://thelandingpagecourse.com/landing-page-101-intro/

For tips on creating Opt-in forms on your website/landing pages:
https://expresspigeon.com/blog/2014/02/24/16-opt-in-tricks-to-grow-your-email-list/

Start by StARTing TIP:
Grab a copy of the book Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook with one click on Kindle. (Click above image to purchase). This book will inspire you to stop ‘pushing’ with regards to sales and start ‘pulling’ or attracting customers to you.

The Power of Networking

high five

“Networking is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.” (Dictionary.com)

I have been a proud member of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Exchange (We2) networking group for many years.

http://we2network.com/

“The WE² system is more than just a business card grab, it’s a community of like-minded women – entrepreneurial, professional, creative, intelligent, supportive & compassionate – who gather to share our experience & strengths.” (from the website)

I have learned most of what I know about social media and marketing thanks to the presentations I have attended at We2 networking events and at workshops by fellow members. My profile photo is thanks to a fellow member Wanda Malfara. http://www.wandamalfara.com/

wanda profile pic 2 black and white

Getting up at 7am to attend meetings is not always easy, but I always leave with a sense of accomplishment and inspiration. We2 also holds valuable lunch-time talks and specialty workshops. Most events are open to non-members. Meetings are a great way to get known and to get to know fellow entrepreneurs and inspiration seekers!

Recently I joined the We2 program Focus5™. “This group is a mix of a mastermind program and a business-building road map, taking us from dream to implementation and action – designed to give us the accountability we need, with a fresh and honest look at our businesses.” (from the website) I have often heard of the benefits of joining a mastermind group and I am quickly discovering the power of the group!

A few tips about networking that I learned from the incredible Sarena Miller, founder of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Exchange and creator of Focus5™:

1. Show up.
2. Make eye contact.
3. Smile and have fun.
4. Give first.
5. Support fellow members for gifts and services.
6. Listen.
7. Connect and be a connector.
8. Be positive.
9. Have 2-way conversations.
10. Follow up.
11. Be polite; ask permission to put people on mailing lists.
12. Come prepared. Be aware of how you can HELP people & add VALUE.

…and a few Don’ts
1. Do not pre-judge
2. Do not complain.
3. Do not assume.
4. Do not pounce.
5. Do not hog the conversation.
6. Do not send unsolicited emails after a meeting.
7. Do not be in Sales mode.

More articles on the benefit of networking:

#12 Don’t be a card spammer…
http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/07/22/17-tips-to-survive-your-next-networking-event/

#8 is my favourite…
http://amazingbusiness.com/top-9-benefits-of-business-networking/

#5 SMILE…
http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223468

Start by StARTing Tip: Seek out local networking groups and attend meetings as a guest to find a group that is right for you.

In Support of Local Musicians

I have a confession to make. I am a total GROUPIE. I have a huge admiration for musicians. I often go out to live shows. I love to meet the performers and promote their work.

caleb

I met Caleb Taylor at a local co-operative café a few years ago. Sadly, the Cabaret des Bons Voisins closed it’s doors after three years of hosting live shows and art events. Luckily, I stayed in touch with a quite a few of the musicians that performed there.

Caleb Taylor is a self taught musician/singer/songwriter out of Reading, England. His soulful style, his faith and passion for music is very evident through his work. He currently lives with his wife and young son in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

We had invited Caleb to play several times at my friend’s gallery in Pointe Claire. He was a huge success for a second year in a row at the Viva Vida Art Gallery’s vernissage of ARTiculation. The theme of this year’s exhibition was “What’s Love Got To Do With It”.

Check out Caleb Taylor’s performance here:

You can check out Caleb’s music on his website:
http://calebtaylormusic.com/

and purchase his CD on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/battle-of-life/id565835153?uo=4

For more information about the Viva Vida Art Gallery and to get on their mailing list for art and live music events and art classes/workshops on the West Island of Montreal check out their website:

http://vivavidaartgallery.com

Start by StARTing TIP: Support local musicians and artists. Check local listings for live performances of music, spoken word, and art openings. Don’t hesitate to purchase CD’s (have them signed by the musician) in person or on iTunes. I never regret spending money on Art or Music. New clothes will go out of style, but music and art are timeless and will inspire for a lifetime and beyond.

Laughter Therapy

It’s been an emotional week and I was due for some laughter therapy.

tim hortins trail mix

I love my trips downtown on the bus. There is a freedom about not having the car and wandering from place to play.It is Roll-up-the-rim-to-win time of year at Tim Hortons, so I began my journey with a dark roast and a bag of trail mix purchased at the pharmacy. My tastes are a changin’ and I am no longer tempted by the sweet treats under the counter at the donut shop.

still alice

I have been wanting to see the film “Still Alice” and included the Cinema du Parc in my itinerary.
I enjoyed the film. It was very moving, beautiful and thought provoking.

crudessence

Afterwards, I wandered down to Crudessence. It is a fantastic raw cuisine restaurant located near the Musee des Beaux Arts. I indulged in a tasty zucchini lasagne with Macadamia nut ‘ricotta’ and Kale caesar salad. The chai latte with cashew milk was delicious.

pam wener

After supper I wandered down to the Comedy Nest at the Forum. A Facebook friend, Pam Wener, was performing at Newbie Tuesday. She is a stress management educator and a laughter therapist. You can check out her website here:

http://www.pamwener.com/

Here’s a little clip on YouTube:

Start by StARTing Tip: Take yourself on a field trip one day. I love going to films, galleries and events on my own. I thrive on the adventure and discovery. Take photos, notes, write in a journal. Savour the experience and be INSPIRED!