I’m still alive, don’t worry.

July 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Keepin' Up Appearances | 1 Comment
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I just got back from a wonderful trip to Panama City Beach! It was my first time to Florida and I definitely had a good time.

I got home to find out I had won several giveaways, and as soon as I receive them I will present reviews for you 🙂 I can’t wait to build up my readership enough to offer my own contests! Help me present ways for you to win! Follow me on Twitter and subcribe to receive the latest updates!

Short post, I know… but I wanted to update you instead of leaving you in silence!

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10 Easy Ways To Show Kindness

July 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Posted in The World Around Us | Leave a comment
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Have you ever noticed how the smallest thing can brighten up someone’s day? (or completely darken it?!) I’m challenging you to do each of the following ten things in the next week, all with the intention of serving others and turning their days around.

1. Give a sincere compliment to someone you just don’t get along with.

Whether it’s a customer at your job, or your mother-in-law, find something (a cute necklace, new hairstyle, pretty smile, good taste in books…ha) nice to say to them. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll warm up to you with one simple sentence.

2. Be courteous.

If you’re approaching a busy red light and someone needs to turn past you into a shopping center/etc, stop early so they aren’t blocked by traffic. You’re not going to get anywhere anyway- why not just let them go? (as I write this I wish the people who share my commuter route would take heart… alas)

3. Hold your tongue.

When you’re in a ridiculous customer-service situation- from Burger King to Comcast- remember that the person you’re speaking with may represent the company, but he is not responsible for their wrongdoings. Speak calmly and nicely, even if this is the third day the mistake has happened. Being a jerk is not going to get the problem solved faster, and is just going to make the employee stressed out over something he didn’t do. (of course if the guy acts ridiculous then you’re excused and may show your rage ;O )

4. Speak praise.

If your hair stylist/photographer/waiter/llama salesperson does a good job, tell them. But tell their boss too. Too often, it seems, do we keep out mouths closed about good service- only to jump to complain about bad service. A simple call or email to the district manager or owner can help a struggling employee out- all while placing them higher up on their boss’ totem pole.

5. Send a real greeting card.

I’m honestly surprised Hallmark is still in business- no one ever takes the time to actually write a letter, seal an envelope, and stick it in the mailbox. I love actual cards and letters and it makes me sad that no one ever sends them anymore 😦 So send a card to someone- whether it’s to thank them, wish them a happy anniversary, or just say hi!

6. Listen for someone to share a need- and then fill that void.

Maybe your aunt is wishing for a date night but can’t afford a babysitter- or maybe someone is just struggling and could use an encouraging talk over dinner. People are always hurting- you just have to listen and be willing to help.

7. Help the underdog.

As an example, two young kids were running a lemonade stand on my street corner last week. It was hot and there obviously wasn’t much business. If I had just stopped and bought a cup of lemonade, imagine the happiness that would have resulted from 50 cents.

8. Leave no mess behind.

When you try clothing on, place it neatly on the hanger and zip it back up. Then hand it back to your sales associate with a big thank you and a smile- when I worked in retail this never happened and we were stuck cleaning up the huge messes shoppers left behind.

9. Sacrifice some time to help others.

From visiting a sick neighbor to feeding the homeless, each small act helps to change the world and make us a more selfless person.

10. Most importantly, show kindness to those you love.

This is the hardest, because you have to get creative and come up with a new way!

Take the challenge and post your success stories below 🙂 I’ll feature a chosen commenter and their blog in one of my future posts!

Coming soon: 10 Easy Ways to Show Kindness with Technology. Subscribe for all the latest news!

Walmart + Freebies = Bliss

July 17, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Freebies | Leave a comment
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Heinz Ketchup (one bottle) + Gatorade (one bottle) + Twix candy (3 bars) + iPod Touch case (set of three) = $2.71

Yes, I’m that good. Wondering how I worked that one out? You see, I’m a self-described freebie fiend. I’m constantly searching to find new discounts, coupons, and samples to request. You would be surprised to find out how many businesses have adopted online networking, and are using it to promote their services while offering specials to fans and followers.

These businesses are the reason I was able to march right into Wal-Mart and come out with a bunch of random items- all for nearly nothing. There had been promotions by Heinz and MnM’s that provided me with free coupons for their products. In support of Men’s Health Month, Gatorade mailed me a coupon for a free 20 oz bottle as well. Now, as far as the iPod case, it was full-price- but a nice graduation gift card took care of it!

Want to take advantage of companies’ promotions? Here’s a few simple tips:

1. Add a step to your daily routine. Pick a few of the best freebie blogs, and visit them frequently to increase your chances. Many promotions are only available on specific dates or until coupons run out- so make sure you check often!

My two picks:

Freebies For Mom. Not a mom? That’s ok… I’m not either! Blogger Heather has  turned a small website into a national phenomenon (which has even been featured on national tv). She is my top choice for information regarding freebies, sweepstakes, coupons, and blog giveaways.

Equally as informative, however, is Goob at Hey, It’s Free! He focuses solely on freebies and tends to find those off the beaten path.

Between these two blogs, you’ll be well informed about freebies!

2. Take advantage of social networking sites. Twitter and Facebook are loaded with corporate accounts, and many profiles are trying to lure you in with freebies! When you have a few moments, search Facebook for groups with your city’s name- then join all of the restaurant groups that catch your eye! (I’ve even gotten some free meals from Facebook-only local promotions!)

3. Keep an eye out in your community. From the grocery store to the hair salon, many businesses offer free trials, coupons, and also giveaways for their new products. Every once in a while I like to walk around the department store cosmetic counters- they often have many drawings, and most people don’t even notice the entry boxes! Obviously, the less-known a freebie is, the better chance you have of obtaining it.

Just for kicks, here’s a couple of my favorite freebies to date:

1. Protection for every OMG moment. This Degree deodorant sample is literally the size of my thumb. You might call that stingy, but I’ve made it super useful by carrying it in my purse for those literal OMG moments. Running out the door, 15 minutes late- thank you, Degree.

2. Moooooo. Featured in my previous post, Moo prints business cards (among other things), and is such a hands-on, customer-oriented business that I just love working with them. They offer a 10-pack sample of business cards, and you can find my readers-only discount code right here.

3. Flash-frozen. Once I actually received a packet of soup mix (meat included) that supposedly has a shelf-life of 30+ years. Yikes! I guess companies are still cashing in on that Y2K madness. (No, I haven’t tried it yet… slightly afraid to if I’m perfectly honest!)

Time for some reader-interaction! Post about a freebie you’ve received- whether it’s your most used, funniest, or if it was just plain useless! I’ll pick a few comments to feature in an upcoming post- and I’ll shout-out about your websites =)

What’s more important… really?

July 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Posted in The World Around Us | 2 Comments
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I’m a fan of the Commercial Appeal Facebook page, and I follow it on Twitter as well. While sometimes slightly biased, CA usually does a good job of presenting local and national news in a prompt, professional, and concise way.

I was (not so) surprised to read today about the closing of Family Services of the Mid-South. What has served as a major counseling and crisis help center since 1893 has now shut its doors due to lack of funding.

While not surprised, because it’s quite obvious people are a. more selfish/stingy than ever before with money, and b. the city of Memphis has never had its financial priorities straight, this news saddens me.

Drug crises. Child abuse. Domestic and sexual violence. Suicide. These are just some of the crucial life events that Family Services assisted to prevent, and also (sadly more often) deal with the aftermath.

  • Every 5 seconds someone is sexually assaulted
  • Over 12 million American adult women have been victims of forcible rape.
  • In 2006 alone, Memphis city police reported 5,898 cases of assault.
  • Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 people a year.
  • While many people will simply blame the city, our incompetent mayor, and the “selfish rich,” I have to wonder about the rest of us. We have houses, don’t we? And food? I don’t mean to get on a rant about giving away all that we have, but there comes a point where we really have to evaluate how attached we are to our possessions. Check this out: As of last Thursday, the city of Los Angeles had already collected about $17,000 from ordinary citizens to help deter the cost of Michael Jackson’s memorial service (which cost roughly a million dollars, by the way). And in 2006, nearly 82 million dollars were spent on cigarettes.

    …Some of you are feeling pretty good right now. After all, you don’t care about Michael Jackson and you’ve never smoked in your life. Need I point out the hundreds of dollars each person spends MONTHLY on items they don’t really need? Movies/fast food/the 60th pair of shoes/STARBUCKS? We all waste money.

    Don’t get me wrong. We all have the right to spend our money as we please. But when one of the few places in Memphis for abuse and rape victims to safely escape to is closed because no one cares enough to forgo one cappuchino a week, it’s time to rethink how much of an impact we’re truly having on the world.

    Please consider donating your time or your money to one of Memphis’ non-profits. Why take the time to complain about our city’s downfall and crime statistics if you’re not even willing to roll up your sleeves and help clean up?

    Do something to help your community? Please comment and share your story!

    Moo Cards Review & Special Offer!

    July 15, 2009 at 11:10 am | Posted in Contests/Giveaways | 1 Comment
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    Sadly enough, I have not yet purchased business cards for Picturesque Memphis. I know, I know, it’s the most important way to spread the word. I know.

    I guess the biggest problem for me is that I’m in love with cards that are simply perfect.

    Moo is one of the most respected printers for custom business cards, minicards, postcards, and more. They offer unique personalization and you can upload a different image for each of your business cards. This is especially helpful to photographers- talking to a future bride? Give her a card with your wedding photography. Run into a senior? You have a card for him, too.

    Moo offers a free 10-card sample kit that is mailed to your home free of charge. I ordered mine several weeks ago and was truly impressed:

    DSC_0384

    DSC_0385

    (Colors are a bit off because I took these last minute :p)

    So what are you waiting for? Order yours today? But it gets better! =) Moo has graciously offered College Chick’s readers free shipping on their first purchases, through August 31st! So order your free cards, marvel at their brillance, then order anything from Moo and get free shipping =)

    Use this code: HP58EM

    Please share this post with any friends who own their own businesses or might be in need for custom printing! Don’t forget to subscribe for email updates!

    I love giveaways!

    July 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Posted in Contests/Giveaways | 1 Comment
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    Close friends know that I really do have “good luck.” Not that I truly believe in luck, but the point is that I usually have a very good chance of being picked for freebies or having my name drawn in a giveaway. I have no idea why- but I have been blessed with many cool, useful things through blog/Twitter/Facebook/local giveaways!

    I’d like to highlight two websites that were kind enough this week to award me gift cards that are going to be very useful!

    Bongga (rhymes with “congga”): a Filipino expression meaning glamorous, outrageous, fabulous. There’s a Bongga Mom — part Bette Midler, part Nicole Kidman, part Martha Stewart — in every mom. Me? A Bongga Mom? With 3 kids, no money, and last year’s jeans, I’m still working on it.

    Bonggamom is filled with giveaways, contests, photos, and cute posts about her and her children’s daily fun.

    She awarded me with a $50 gift certificate to Tiny Prints, which is one of the most adorable online print boutiques I have yet to come across. I’m looking forward to ordering some cards- I’m just having a hard time deciding which ones to choose!

    • Photofocus (with Scott Bourne)

    Photofocus is a one-stop online media site for serious amateur and emerging professional photographers interested in learning more about photography. The bulk of its blog posts are tips, tricks, news and reviews, aided by interviews with prominent photographers, educational screencasts and a very active community of engaged readers who regularly comment.

    What I appreciate the most, however, is Scott’s daily Twitter updates. He frequently hosts random (and I mean random) giveaways and posts helpful photographic resources. And the best part? All you have to do to be eligible for giveaways is follow him on Twitter! (Hey… while you’re at it, follow me too!)
    I got a tweet text today that let me know I had won a $100 gift certificate to White House Custom Color! WHCC is one of my favorite image labs and I’m looking forward to purchasing a few gallery samples for my portrait business, Picturesque Memphis.

    Combine these wins with a $100 gift card to anywhere in the Carriage Crossing Shopping Center, and I’ve had a pretty good week! =)

    Want to win prizes of your own? Subscribe, and you’ll be the first to know about new contests!

    Hello… again

    July 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Posted in Keepin' Up Appearances | Leave a comment
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    So, it didn’t take long for me to realize that keeping a blog updated is hard work! I mean, I guess I could just post the minimum… random links, the story of my life- but if you, my readers, are going to keep coming back, I obviously need to post updates that captivate, inform, or entertain you!

    Here’s just a few of my updates to this blog:

    1. Email updates! Subscribe to receive my new blog posts directly in yoour inbox. This is the best way to stay informed about upcoming events and giveaways!

    2. Photo of the week! You may not know this, but I have a portrait photography business, Picturesque Memphis. At least once a week I’ll post an interesting photo from one of my sessions or just a random one from around the city.

    3. Giveaways! I’m working with several boutiques and businesses to provide readers with unique ways to win free prizes! Once again, the best way to hear about these (before deadlines pass) is by subscribing.

    There’s many more ideas that I have, including reviews of local and online businesses, bands, boutiques, and more. If you would like to be featured on College Chick, please contact me at clarissa (at) digitaldeacons (dot) com. =)

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