Conversation Heart Door Hanger

 

Valentine Door Hanger

Sometimes I just need to paint something, glue something, and make something cute, ya know? Life can get so hectic but there is something about taking 30 minutes (or less) and doing a craft  project that calms me down. So every once in a while I will stop what I’m doing and pull out some supplies and see what happens.

That’s the story behind this quick, easy and totally cute Valentine’s Day craft – a “conversation heart” door hanger that is perfect for any door or small wall space in your home. Paint the hearts any color you like, write a few sayings, glue on some ribbon and voila! Instant gratification.

And then you can resume your busy schedule.

Valentine Craft Supplies

Supplies

3 Wooden hearts from the craft store (4″ across)

1 Spool of red & white polka dot ribbon (1.5″ wide)

Acrylic craft paint (I used yellow, pink and lavender)

Foam paint brushes

Red paint pen

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Sand paper or sanding block

 

Directions

1. Lightly sand each wooden heart with the sanding block or sand paper. Just enough to smooth out any rough edges. Remove any dust with a barely damp paper towel.

2. Paint each heart a different color. Apply at least 2 coats for complete coverage, allowing to dry between coats.

3. When the paint is completely dry, write conversation heart sayings on each heart with the red paint pen. (You could use a red Sharpie marker if you don’t have a paint pen.) For inspiration on what to say, click here for a recap of the newest sayings from the maker of the Sweethearts candy.

4. Lay out the hearts, spacing them evenly apart. Measure a length of ribbon – you want it long enough to fit all the hearts plus at least 6 inches above and below the hearts.

5. Glue the hearts in place with hot glue. (Use more than you think you need.)

6. Fold down the top inch of the ribbon and secure with a dot of hot glue (you want a double thickness of ribbon to be tied into the bow).  Measure another length of ribbon to create a bow – about 2 yards if you want the streamers to be as long as middle ribbon. Use this ribbon to tie a bow around the top of the ribbon with the hearts, making sure the knot is nice and tight.

7. Cut the bottom edge of the ribbons in an inverse “V” shape if desired. Hang the doorhanger from the knot in the bow from a nail or hook.

 

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How to Write Thank You’s That Create Raving Fans

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A note from Deanne: I’m delighted to have my friend and colleague Dawn Mena contribute her brilliance and guidance in a guest post, just in time for writing those seasonal thank-you notes and client letters. Be sure to read all the way to the end to get your free gift from Dawn–a valuable resource that makes writing thank you notes easy and FUN.

When it comes to building a company on the principles of gratitude and positivity, nothing is as easy or as powerful as taking the time to say “thank you.” Surprisingly, a good bit of gratitude goes a long with toward more than just making someone’s day, it can also be the spark that ignites business growth by creating raving fans who appreciate you right back – and keep coming back for more.

According to social media expert and author of the book “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuk once said that we need to treat each customer as though he or she were the most important customer in the world. I couldn’t agree more. And I’d add beyond customer people like mentors, colleagues, vendors, joint venture partners, newsletters subscribers, baristas, and anyone else who affects your day, your life, and your business. Since Day 1 of running my own business, I’ve made it a practice to send a variety of Thank You’s to people who make a positive impression in my life. Customers – yes. But also all the other people I’ve just mentioned and more.

How can you harness the power of appreciation? It all starts with what you say (or write) when you take the time to thank someone. And the format, or place, you send your thanks you. Cards are great, I love ‘em, but a surprise thank you in a different format can have as much impact as well.

Here are 5 unique ways you can thank those special people in your life, and a little help for brainstorming the perfect content to spread those warm, happy feelings during this season, and all year round.

#1 The Top Fan Thank You

Make a list of your Top Fans. You know, the ones that have been with you from Day 1. They’ve cheered you on, participated in your programs, given you valuable and honest feedback and support. They are the bee’s knees. Send them a personal email. And with that email, a special gift, something that took a little time or effort and they would really appreciate. As an example, I recently sent a “love” letter to one of my biggest fans. And as I knew she was starting an online business of her own, and using social media, I took some time to select something awesome she said in her online content and create a unique graphic image that featured her quote, name and website. All of this was done in less than 30 minutes (both email writing and image creation). And I used Canva to get the job done for free. (check out my user guide for Canva, it rocks!)

#2 The Unexpected Thank You

Thank someone who won’t expect it. Out of the blue. For no specific reason. Use email, or do it publicly using social media. Keep it simple, sweet, and include a silly token such as a cute photo, quote, or link to a happy, inspirational video. Put a smile on their face and a spring in their step.

#3 The Pre-Thank You

Thank new fans or followers BEFORE they buy or sign up. When a new potential customer first signs up for your newsletter list, follows you on social media, or sends you a simple inquiry, NOW is the time to let them know how grateful you are. Where’s the best place to do this? A “welcome” email. I see so many people use template messages in these that are super boring and robot-like. Take the opportunity to make strong first impression by using their first name in the greeting, telling them how grateful you are that they took a chance on you, and then send them a little hank you gift such as access to something secret, a download, a tip about a cool free graphic design site, etc. Or offer a free phone call, invite to your next gathering, or whatever else you think they would appreciate.

#4 The Old School Thank You

There’s nothing quite like a handwritten letter. Think about your best clients of all time, mentors such as business or life coaches, colleagues that cheer you on, or your biggest fans on social media. Take a minute to find out their snail mail address and send them a hand-written note. WRITING TIP: Be specific about what you’re thanking them for. Not just “thanks for helping” but “thanks for taking the time to sit down over PSL’s and brainstorm out what I needed to add to my new program. Oh, and the scone was great too!” Make them personal, original and to-the-point and you’ll really make their day.

#5 The Secret Handshake Thank You

Next time you attend a business networking meeting or any other live event, take the opportunity to sneak a thank you gift or card to someone who deserves it. Maybe it’s the leader of a networking group that has transformed your business. Or a women who took the time to make you feel comfortable at your first meeting. Someone who sent a lucrative referral your way.  A mentor, an inspiration, or maybe they just made you laugh. Write up a card, include a small gift such as a gift card, invitation, sticker, candy, etc. Slide it into their bag so they find it later. Smoothly hand it to them as you’re leaving the event. Make it low-key so they don’t feel on-the-spot or obligated – just appreciated.

If you struggle with what to write, I’ve rounded up some writing prompts for everything from fun to professional to heartfelt thank you’s that will spark your imagination and help you get started. Just click the graphic below to check it out and get started.

Bottom line, gratitude is super valuable in itself just for the joy it brings to everyone involved. But it can also help you to create a strong and growing business by creating unbreakable bonds between you and your audience – and inspiring them to return to you again and again because you make them feel special. And really isn’t that what we all want?

About the Author: Dawn Mena works with people who struggle with what to write for their blogs, newsletters, and anything to do with their business. She shows them how to get the results they are looking for by applying simple strategy principles, along with a lot of personality, to inspire audiences and keeps them coming back for more. Learn more at www.dawnmena.com.

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5 Ways Gratitude Brings Balance and Grace to Your Life

If you’ve ever told yourself anything like, “I need to exercise more” or “I wish I could stop the negative chatter in my head” but you’ve never quite accomplished either, have I got a smart and simple solution for you! Gratitude.

Yep, scientists have proven that gratitude can have measurable effects on our overall wellbeing and very specific benefits to our physical and mental health.

This is the perfect time to start (or refresh) a habit of gratitude: a daily practice of words and deeds that generate a sense of goodness our lives. With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of weeks away, giving thanks is naturally on our minds. But more than that, the holiday season is for many of us a stressful, non-stop time, while others may experience bouts of seasonal depression or anxiety.

Gratitude to the rescue!

Research proves that professing and feeling gratitude improves one’s emotional state, life experiences, health and relationships. The word comes from the Latin gratia (grace, favor, goodwill). So practicing gratitude literally brings grace into our lives. It helps us connect to something outside of ourselves—whether it’s other people, nature, or a higher power.

Without going all science-y on you, here are five surprising benefits that gratitude brings to your life and your health.

 1. Grateful people exercise more, have fewer aches and pains and generally feel healthier than other people.

In a study by noted gratitude expert Dr. Robert A. Emmons, participants were asked to write just a few sentences a week about things they were grateful for. Another group wrote about things that annoyed or irritated them, and a third group wrote about events in their life (not specifically positive or negative). Participants that focused on gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives compared to the group that focused on irritations.

 2. Practicing gratitude can decrease a range of negative feelings, from regret and resentment to envy and frustration.

 3. You’ll sleep better. Spending just 15 minutes a night before bedtime writing in a gratitude journal was shown to improve sleep in a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. It makes sense if that’s the last thing your brain is thinking about, instead of a news program of the latest doomsday headlines, sports, or a movie.

 4. Gratitude can reduce aggression and increases empathy and compassion, according to a study by the University of Kentucky in 2012. Those who ranked higher on gratitude scales exhibited greater sensitivity and empathy toward others, even when given negative feedback, as well as a reduced desire to seek revenge.

 5. Gratitude can actually boost your immune system! By promoting feelings of optimism, being thankful stimulates the production of red blood cells which in turns boosts our immunity to disease.

All of these benefits are great, but like any practice the question is, how do you start and more importantly, stick with it? The good news is, there are a lot of simple and practical ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life and routine. What’s important is the intention to feel gratitude for someone or something, and to express it in some way.

One of the easiest ways is to cultivate a habit of writing a thank-you note a week to someone who has done you a good turn or provided a great service. My friend Dawn Mena has five ways to write thank you’s that will create raving fans. What a great start!

For more ways to experience the everyday grace of gratitude, I’ve put together 20 simple ways to practice gratitude. It’s surprisingly easy to make thankfulness a part of your daily life and routine and reap all those benefits!

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Why not just try and see what happens when you experience and express gratitude? What have you got to lose?

I’d love to hear your results and what effects you see in your life and wellbeing with a gratitude practice. Share your experiences on the Facebook page—and thank you in advance!

Featured image (c) 2013 Shay Cochrane

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Out of the Basket Easter Ideas

Here’s a complete list of the products shown on Wake Up with the CW on March 24, 2016.

FOR KIDS

This basket is full of fun and flavorful (and healthier) alternatives to chocolate rabbits and sugary marshmallow chicks.

AquaballAquaballs

  • Sugar-free, naturally flavored water
  • A healthy alternative to sugary sodas and drinks
  • Available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape,
  • Features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Marvel Avengers, and Disney Classic Characters.
  • ($1-$1.19/bottle)

Bauli Chocolate Mini CroissantsChoc

  • Looking to fill Easter baskets with something other than candy?
  • 50 calories a pop, they’re the perfect, guilt-free basket filler
  • Made in a REAL oven with no preservatives and naturally leavened dough
  • Available at select retailers for $1.99/2.64 oz bag (6 mini croissants per bag).

 

 

Viki’s GranolaVikis Granola

  • Replace the sugary treats that often come in Easter baskets with delicious snacks kids will love
  • Great tasting, GLUTEN-FREE, and made with 100% ALL NATURAL ingredients
  • Available in Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, (NEW!) Banana Walnut & (NEW!) Apple Cinnamon.
  • Available at retailers nationwide and online at VikisFoods.com

Welch’s® Fruit SnacksWelchs

  • Perfect for Easter Baskets and stuffing eggs.
  • Custom Easter-themed graphics with fun shapes which include a Chick, Egg, Flower and Bunny
  • Every pack is made with REAL Fruit, is Fat Free, Gluten Free, and contains No Preservatives

 

 

FOR THE FOODIE

This basket is perfect for the foodie in your life who loves to cook and enjoys delicious foods.

Veestro Veestro

  • Tired of cooking or love to cook, but don’t have the time with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life and events?
  • All-natural, preservative-free food, packed with nutrients and high in protein and fiber.
  • Virtually no prep time! Meals are fully cooked, ready to heat-and-eat when you are, shipped frozen, and able to last in your freezer for up to 8 weeks.
  • Visit Veestro.com for more info

T-fal OptiCook Non-Stick Skillet Tfal pan

  • Foodies love this non-stick fry pan by T-fal
  • With Thermospot technology, your meal will be cooked to perfection every time
  • The Thermospot indicates when the pan is perfectly preheated to seal in flavor and prevents burning
  • T-fal’s Non-Stick skillet makes the cleanup even easier, to ensure more time spent with your friends and family!
  • To learn more, visit tfalusa.com

Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli Explore pasta

  • Perfect for the pasta-lover in your life!
  • Healthy alternative to white pasta with a soft, supple texture and mild taste
  • In just one serving, Chickpea Fusilli has:
    • 11 grams of protein
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 15% of your daily recommended iron intake
  • Vegan, certified gluten-free, non-GMO, made with organic ingredients
  • Available at supermarkets nationwide for $4.99

Omega – Fresh Juice and Healthful Recipes CookbookOmega Juices

  • Carefully handpicked and arranged
  • Comes with a remarkable assortment of recipes
  • Make a variety of fresh fruit juices, vegetable and green drinks, a medley of smoothie sorbets, creamy nut milks and nut butters, dips and purees, and many more practical and delicious recipes.
  • $14.99 at http://www.omegajuicers.com/books/a-juice-boost-274.html

 

 

FOR THE ADULT

Make sure to spoil your loved ones with an Easter basket full of relaxing and rejuvenating products.  

Coyuchi  Women’s Sateen Terry Robe Coyuchi Robe

  • Perfect addition for a relaxing Easter morning
  • Available in Alpine White and Pale Gray
  • Robe lined with velvety micro terry, it’s soft, absorbent and cozy
  • Retails for $128; Coyuchi can be found at fine retailers across the US and Canada, as well as available for purchase online at coyuchi.com

 

Hotel Collection Ultimate Micro Cotton Bath Towels Macys Towels

  • Add these high-quality, ring spun cotton towels for the ultimate spa basket
  • Durable and ultra-absorbent
  • Extra-soft and plush feel
  • Available exclusively at Macy’s; $31 per bath towel

 

 

Santa Margherita Prosecco SuperioreSanta M Prosecco

  • Celebrate Easter with Santa Margherita’s Prosecco Superiore
  • Perfect base for a variety of bubbly cocktails at your Easter brunch such as mimosas or bellinis.
  • Additional brand varietals include Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and Chianti Classico Riserva ($17.99-26.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Merle Norman Revitalizing Bubbly MaskMN Mask

  • With soft towels at your feet, a warm robe wrapped around your body and a glass of wine in hand, be sure to treat yourself even more with this sensational mask
  • Brightening bubbles recharge skin and take dull to dazzling with this new multi-sensory formula that transforms from a gel to a foam while on the face.
  • $30; Merle Norman Studios MerleNorman.com

 

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