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Friday, November 6, 2015

14 Budget friendly things to do with your significant other over the Christmas holidays

There is something especially romantic about the idea of spending the holidays with a significant other; dressing for parties, exchanging of gifts, kissing under the mistletoe, and cuddling under the Christmas tree watching classic holiday movies. 

Unfortunately Christmas can get quite expensive for most so I thought i would give you some budget friendly holiday date ideas. 

1.)Make a Gingerbread House - There is something magical about building Gingerbread Houses. Getting icing all over and eating candy, having a fun little competition about who built it better and laughing over collapsing gingerbread pieces. 

2.)Take a Tour of Christmas Lights- Enjoy your neighbourhood decor and feel festive looking at all the magical lights.

3.)Attend or Throw an Ugly Sweater Party- Nothing better then a soiree with your best ugliest christmas attire. 

4.)Bake Cookies- Spend an afternoon baking cookies together and eating cookie dough. Try out new recipes and have a good laugh over your man not knowing how to bake. 

5.)Kiss Under a Mistletoe- With all the hustle & bustle of the holidays don't forget the romance in your relationship. Kiss under a mistletoe, hold hands, and remember to tell them that you care. 

6.)Have a Christmas Movie Marathon- There is nothing better then snuggling up by the fireplace, under the tree watching holiday classics with the one you love. Get in the holiday spirit together & drink some hot cocoa. 

7.)Go to a Christmas Market- Find a Christmas market or a Christmas farmers market and browse the Christmas handmade gifts. 

8.)Have a Game Night- Get out the board games and play like the old days. you can even spice it up with a strip version. 

9.)See a Comedy Show- Comedy Shows do a ton of Christmas shows around the holiday. Grab your love, go to a show and have a laugh. 

10.)Go Skating- Dressing warm, drinking hot cocoa and holding on to your man as you skate around the rink. Blissful! 

11.)Star Gaze- Go find some stars and gaze while cuddling each other to keep warm. 

12.)Play in the Snow- Find some snow, build a snowman or go tobogganing, after your done you can have a warm bubble bath or shower together to warm up. 

13.)Go see a Holiday Play- Find a Holiday play going on in your area and get in the Christmas mood 

14.)Grab Hot Cocoa and Go for a Long Walk Together- Enjoying nature during the holiday season with your loved one is awesome. It keeps you grounded, reminds you to slow down and enjoy the little things and be grateful for our beautiful earth.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

25 Date Idea's this Fall

1.) Get lost in a corn maze
2.) Escape rooms
3.) Visit a haunted house
4.) Have a board game night
5.) Go ice skating
6.) Make a bonfire & snuggle up with blankets

7.) Make Gingerbread houses
8.) Have a marathon of your fav TV series
9.) Go bowling
10.) Take dancing lessons
11.) Explore farmers markets
12.) Go to a pumpkin patch
13.) Go to a sporting event
14.) Mini Golf
15.) Go to an art gallery
16.) Visit a local aquarium

17.) Go on a scavenger hunt with hot chocolates
18.) Take a road trip
19.) Call in sick and spend the whole day watching old classic movies
20.) Go play at a park
21.) Take a day off of technology and just spend the entire day with each other
22.) Sign up for a race & train together
23.) Go for a picnic on the countryside
24.) Play a sport together
25.) Carve some pumpkins together

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

5 things holding you back from a life you love

1.) FEAR - Turn your fear into faith.
I know so many people who live a mediocre life because they are afraid.

2.) Turn envy into Admiration
Kurt Cobain once said "Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are". You are the exact person you are suppose to be so let that shine. Don't waste time envying anyone else. Take that time and use it to create the best version of yourself.

3.) Turn away toxic friendships
Knowing when people don't add value to your life & knowing to turn them away. I truly believe you are the company you keep.

4.) The difference between cocky & confidence
Cocky is an act... its you acting like you are better then you actually are because somewhere inside you have something eating at you telling you that you aren't good enough.
Confidence is truth... it's knowing & feeling that you are right where you are suppose to be in your life.

5.) Build your brand (Don't be lazy)
Knowing your niche and creating a brand for you is key to soo many opportunities yet to come. Don't be lazy. JUST DO IT!

Friday, June 12, 2015

My 5 top favorite things to do when visiting Paris

One common question I’m always asked is what do I recommend doing in Paris, so here are my five top favorite things to do when visiting the City of Light.
1.) Climb the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is almost guaranteed to be on everyone's must see list and no wonder, she is THE icon of the city. But the time waiting in line to go up the elevator as well as being crammed in can be a real turn off. That is why my favorite way to see the tower is by climbing the stairs. Before you pass out just thinking about, know that you can go at your own pace and there are platforms where you can stop to catch your breath while taking in the view of cityscape and seeing the intricate ironwork up close. Not only is the wait time significantly less, the ticket price is cheaper and you get an unique experience.
2.) View Paris at night from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. I like to recommend viewing the city by day from the Eiffel Tower and by night from the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Nothing shows the beauty of Haussman's design better than seeing it from the top of the Arc de Triomphe with the streets all a glow. If timed correctly, you might even see the Eiffel Tower twinkle. Be sure to get to the Arc de Triomphe by using the underground walkway. Don't even try to cross the roundabout on foot!

3.) Explore the covered passages of the Grands Boulevard. Simply hidden gems on the right bank of the city and perfect to explore when the inevitable Paris rains occur. These covered passages dating from the mid 19th century allow you to go from one street to another protected from the weather but also house bistros and unique shops. I recommend SmarterParis’s excellent guide to discovering six of the passages. It takes about 3-4 hours.

4.) Shakespeare and Company. If you are visiting Notre Dame, then you must take a few minutes to pop over to the left bank and visit the famous English language bookstore located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie. This little bookstore is so charming and oozing with literary history you’ll feel like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face as you climb the bookstore ladder looking for that hardbound book from Victor Hugo. There is even a resident cat who is likely sleeping in the corner of one of the rooms upstairs. Be sure to purchase a book and have them stamp the first page.

5.) Mass at Notre Dame. Speaking of Notre Dame, attending a Mass at one of the most famous cathedrals is like no other experience. The sound of the organ and the choir filling the cavernous nave is...well...actually words can’t describe it. A program to follow along during the service is available in many languages. Since I am not Catholic, I sit in the back of the nave and simply observe. Be sure to check the official Notre Dame Cathedral website for Mass times.                           

I hope you add one or all of these to your Paris itinerary!
Bises (kisses),
Out Guest Blogger is Kimberly DeCamp of The Paris Itinerary - Half Tourist. Half Traveler. 100% Passionate about Paris  theparisitinerary.com
Bonjour mes amis! Hello friends! My name is Kimberly DeCamp and I’m the creative force behind The Paris Itinerary, a travel blog focused on Paris. Paris is my passion and my travel philosophy is that is okay to be tourist. I personally love to visit the tourist spots of Paris but I like doing so in non touristy ways. I love providing travel tips, suggestions and inspiration to help you plan your Paris itinerary.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How To Grow Your Twitter Followers By 50% In Two Months

How To Grow Your Twitter Followers By 50% In Two Months
I’m just going to get straight into it. Over the past two months, I’ve increased my Twitter following by nearly 50%. I’ve not studied Twitter.  The truth is I just spend a lot of time on it. But there’s a tool that not many people use, which has been my secret weapon alongside my strategy.
Twitter Analytics.
Now please don’t get scared because I’ve said the ‘A’ word. Trust me when I say that analytics aren’t as scary as they’re made out to be. Sure content and engagement are more important. But there are some things you need to know that only your analytics can tell you. Even for social media platforms, like Twitter.
So let’s create a scenario. Say you’re one of three groups of people:
·         You’re not using Twitter, but you really want to – you’re just not sure how to use it properly
·         You’ve started using Twitter recently because you’ve heard how great it is, but you’re not sure how to use it to your advantage
·         You’ve been on Twitter for ages. But you’re still not entirely sure how to create a successful strategy for it. When I say strategy, I mean a plan for how to use it effectively.
Since keeping a close eye on my analytics and trying to implement strategies based on what I find, I’ve increased my followers by nearly 50% in the last two months. This is the quickest my following has ever grown. Now, I know it’s not all about followers. But interaction and engagement have also increased, plus the amount of retweets and mentions I’ve received. How have I done this? And more importantly, I hear you ask, how do you do it?
Twitter Analytics. Today I’m here to talk to you about its benefits and how you can use this tool to improve your Twitter presence. What’s even better is that I’ve created an exclusive freebie just for you who read this post, which you can find out about at the end. So let’s get started!

Step One – Install Twitter Analytics
This should be simple enough. Just link up your Twitter account to https://analytics.twitter.com and your unique data should soon start appearing.
Step Two – Let’s Look At Your Dashboard
I really love the layout of the Twitter analytics dashboard. Notice how there’s a snapshot of your header image right at the top? The data shown is based over each month. So the best time to check your analytics properly would be at the end of each month, as you can get a full review.
Your dashboard picks out the most important information. At the top, you’ll see something like this:
It shows your summary over a 28 day period. Here, you can see the following:
  • Your amount of tweets
  • Tweet impressions (how viewed your tweets are)
  • Profile Visits
  • Mentions
  • Your followers
If the percentage or number next to your data is in green, then it’s gone up. If it’s in red, it’s gone down.
Why Is This Important?
For bloggers, entrepreneurs and business owners on Twitter, two things are really important to us – mentions and followers. So these first, basic stats are great to keep a check of to ensure you are on track with your strategy.

Step Three – Tweet Highlights
The next section showcases your tweet highlights of the month. The more you scroll down, the more results you get from previous months. This is something you’ll want to look at later on when I reveal your freebie!
So let’s go through these briefly.
  • Top Tweet – this is what it says on the tin. The best tweet that you’ve posted so far in terms of impressions, mentions, favourites and retweets etc.
  • Top mention – a tweet that generated the most engagement for you that month, in terms of replies, favourites and retweets.
  • Top media tweet - a tweet with a photo or video that achieved the highest number of impressions.
  • Top follower – an account with the highest follower count that followed you in that month.

Why Is This Important?
This gives you really great detail as to how your account is performing, how far you’ve progressed and whether your Twitter strategy is working. But why is it helpful? Making a note of your top tweets allows you to cater your future content towards what people already like.
Two of my top tweets during May have been sharing blog posts from two different bloggers. Part of my new strategy was to promote others content more than my own. These results show that this is working, and that I should continue with this part of my strategy.
Homework: How can your top tweets relate to your strategy? Are the results surprising? See if they align with the content you publish most on Twitter.

Step Four – Let’s Analyse Your Tweets
On your dashboard next to the home button, you’ll see a tab called “Tweets”. This graph shows you how many impressions your tweets earned over a 28 day period. Impressions basically mean how viewed your tweets are. Take mine for example:
This means that over the past 28 days, tweets to my Twitter followers have generated nearly 40,000 impressions.

Why Is This Important?
Focusing on the bigger picture overall is much more beneficial than instant gratification.

Step Five – What About Your Followers?
On your Twitter Analytics homepage, go to the ‘Followers’ tab. You’ll see a graph like this.

This shows you how your following has grown over a period of time. So before I implemented my strategies, my following was increasing at a slow rate. But when I started implementing strategies? Well, the graph speaks for itself.
This is how you can keep track of your social media efforts.
Underneath that graph, you’ll also see the top interests of your followers. This means you can tweet about content that you know they’ll love. For instance, the top interest of my followers is fashion. There are pros and cons to this. I used to post outfits of the week on my blog back in the day, before it changed direction. So it makes sense that this is the top interest of my followers. However, my challenge now is to attract followers with new interests; so hopefully the top interest of my followers will soon be “social media” or “blogging” or something similar.
Why Is This Important?
It lets you identify who is in your tribe and who you are attracting. This is especially important for when you know you have a very clear purpose and direction with your blog. If you’re a fitness blogger and the top interest of your followers is fitness, you’re onto a winner. But if you’re a fitness blogger and the top interest of your followers is shopping, you might need to change your strategy.

What Next?
I know you’re probably thinking, well this all sounds great, Holly. But how am I supposed to keep track of everything?
With the freebie I’ve created for you of course!
If you go over to my site right now, you’ll have exclusive access to the free worksheet download that comes with this post. With this, you’ll be able to put everything into action that we’ve just talked about plus keep track of how it’s going.
You can only get this freebie through this blog post. All you need to do is go to the bottom of the top blog post about this freebie, put your email address in and hey presto, the freebie is yours!

Ultimately, Twitter is what you make of it. But you’ll definitely see results if you start keeping an eye on your Twitter Analytics.

Holly is founder and editor of A Branch of Holly. She thrives off teaching and helping people build an online presence through understanding social media and other digital tricks. She offers real life advice that gets results and knows what you need to do to succeed for you. She currently works full-time as a Digital Marketing Executive, but is in the process of creating her own business where she will teach people about using social media and online strategies to enhance their presence. Most days, you can find her cuddling her kitty with a good cup of tea nearby. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

5 steps to building a strong personal brand with Magnolia House Creative

5 steps to building a strong personal brand

In the digital age, every individual needs to become their own brand manager. Whether you own a small business or are looking to advance your career, a killer resume is no longer enough to beat out the competition. While you may not need a professionally designed logo as a company would, there are still several branding steps we recommend for individuals and companies alike.

1.    Define your goals, style and values. Before you start working on your brand, you need to decide on your ultimate goals. How do you want to be known? What are your career or business goals? What’s important to you? While this workbook is primarily intended for businesses, individuals may find some of the exercises in our Authentic Brand Challenge (magnoliahousecreative.com/brand) helpful.
2.    Invest in professional photography. Schedule a session with a local photographer so that you’ll have a source of high-quality, on brand images. Let your long-term goals inform your outfit and setting choices, but choose a few of each for maximum versatility. Express the personality, style and values you identified in the first step.
3.    Develop a tagline. Give yourself a short tagline (one sentence, 10-12 words) describing who you are and what you do. Focus on verbs (what you do, how you help), rather than nouns (your position title or awards you’ve won). Test out a few and see how they resonate with people who know you well.
4.    Brand your social media profiles. When it comes to social media, consistency is key. Use the professional photos you invested in the second step to put together a professional, on brand image. Use the same profile picture and tagline across all platforms. Check each of your accounts, and remove any images or posts that are off-brand for you. It’s advisable to focus your marketing and growth efforts on just one or two profiles, but make sure the others are in good enough condition that you wouldn’t be embarrassed if a potential client or employer were to visit.

5.    Add an email signature. Put together a professional-looking email signature with your contact information, tagline, social media profiles, blog and, if appropriate, a photo. If an email of your happens to get forwarded, you’ll be making a great first impression! 

Irene Farrimond is a brand stylist and designer based in Lubbock, Texas. She believes in well kerned typography, perfectly curated color and a healthy dose of irreverence. Get to know her better at magnoliahousecreative.com

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How to Live your best life with Penelope Sloan

The saying “Old habits die hard” is not just a saying – it’s a fact. We literally engrain habits in our neuro-pathways, so changing them takes a lot of work. But it is possible, with the right process, support and tools. Most (New Years) Resolutions revolve around creating new (and good) habits and breaking old (bad) ones.
When it comes to making resolutions, most of have great intentions. But simply stating what you want to more of, or less of, or achieve doesn’t usually cut it. Maybe you make a list. Maybe you tell a loved one. Maybe you keep them to yourself. And usually, you forget about them until you’re thinking “Crap, I suck, I’m still fat / unhealthy / unorganized etc.” And that’s no way to live!
I personally think making new years resolutions is great, but only when done properly.
How can we change and improve habits to create healthy, success breeding rituals?
First, we need to make a choice. Then, we need to make a commitment. We also need to find strength. And finally, we need reminders – and rewards!
So what can we do to make them really happen?
In this series of posts, I will outline resolutions we can all relate to, and you can use them as an inspirational guide to help you with your personal resolutions. Most will tie into things you can do in or to your home to help support your mission, from an interior design and lifestyle design perspective.
The overall theme is “creating new rituals at home to improve your life.”
I will cover organization, health, spiritually, community and money in an ongoing series that will all include idea, tips, tricks, hacks and home décor ideas to help you make your home work for you.
 I’m also going to ask you some questions, because when it comes to your life, you are the only one who can answer and make the right, custom-tailored plan to live the best life you can this year, and forever onwards.
So let’s get started!
 What is a ritual?
A ritual is something you do repeatedly that gives you some sort of benefit. Creating rituals allows you to achieve things faster and more easily.
Questions to ask your self prior to starting any ritual:
“Quality questions create a quality life.” ~Tony Robbins

What are the top 5 things you struggle with, that eat your time and energy and cause you pain? This is a good way to target priorities and start to build rituals to eliminate the bad stuff and welcome the good.
 What do you need to motivate yourself?
Sometimes investing in a new pair of runners is all we need to motivate ourself to go running. Feeling good at home and having the right set up, organization or tools works the same way.
What can you do at home to prepare yourself for success?Making a list of things that will help you will allow you to laser focus and break down the steps. Maybe it means making more space, which means donating items you don’t use i.e. step one: purge; step two: clean; step three: implement new set up.

What will you stop or change to make time to make room for this new ritual?If you want to meditate more, maybe you will stop hitting snooze and instead hit play on a guided meditation. Maybe you will set up a cozy corner to sit in while you meditate. Perhaps you will even fill the kettle and leave a tea bag waiting in your mug so you can enjoy tea after your 10 – 20 minute meditation session.
 Why is this new ritual so important and how will it improve your life?
Defining what difference these new habits or rituals will make is key to making it stick as a decision. Recently I went on a cleanse, which I knew would be hard, but I knew if I didn’t do it, my health would continue to suffer. Each time I looked at something I couldn’t have, I would say to myself “It’s ok, I can’t have it now, but later, when I am healthy and my body can digest that properly I will be able to.”
What will happen if you don’t create this ritual and stick to it?
If you’re trying to quit something, like smoking, you know that NOT quitting means comprising your health, which means stress on your family, and probably less time with them since you are cutting your life short. It sounds harsh, but if you smoke, your going to die sooner then if you don’t. if that doesn’t motivate you, then you need to figure out why before you start any of the above.
Think deeply about this question. Use the answers as your WHY.
What will the consequences be? Compromised physical or mental health? Less time with your family? Maybe less money and less freedom to enjoy hobbies. Use these as reminders when you feel weak. Make a list of the opposites – like MORE MONEY, MORE FUN, MORE ADVENTURE. You can even print them out and put them on your fridge, tape them to your mirror, or get fancy and frame them somewhere you will see them everyday.
To help yourself, create a mantra, reminder and reward for each new ritual.
To help yourself, create a mantra, reminder and reward for each new ritual.
To help yourself, create a mantra, reminder and reward for each new ritual.
This is hanging in my studio. It’s a reminder that I want a Beyonce aka QueenBey Bawwwdy.
Work It Honey means work out! It’s directly in front of my desk so every time I see it, I have challenged myself to do at least 60 seconds of plank, sit ups, push ups ect.
Mantra and Visual in one :) My goal is to do at least 20 mins a day, spread out how ever it happens though out the day (maybe a 4 x 5 mins, 2 x 10 or 20 x 1min) for a month. My aim is to engrain doing easy and quick exercises all the time, where ever I am to maintain this sexy body of mine.
My Reward: Improved Strength and a more toned body…which means being able to rock all the cute crop tops I own, without hesitation.
Here are the topics I will cover in this series:
Ritual Creation: Cooking More At Home – Coming Soon!
Ritual Creation: A Ritual for Every Room
Ritual Creation: Health and Fitness
Ritual Creation: Spirituality and Mental Health
Ritual Creation: Quality time with friends and family
I aim to publish a new part every month.
Do you have any at home rituals or ideas to share? Send me a message on facebook please!

Many Blessings, 

Penelope Sloan

Penelope is a multi-diciplinary Design Entrepreneur from Vancouver BC. She leads Penelope Sloan Design, a creative design and consulting company that offers Interior Design for both commercial and residential projects, as well as Graphic Design and Business Identity / Branding. Aside from offering creative services, Penelope also makes candles, greeting cards and will soon launch a line of home decor products. Visit her studio boutique located within the Onlok Art Gallery and Studios at 1636 Venables, Vancouver (by appointment) and connect with her on Instagram @penelopesloandesign and facebook.com/penelopesloandesign to see what she is up to!