“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.”
- Francis Bacon

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A little bag of goodies for Pink Saturday!

This week I am featuring a blog that I consider to be a "two-fer". This lady's cornerstone blog, Loveleigh Treasures, is a feast for the eyes. Around every corner and on every page there is something pretty or sweet or interesting.

Of course, she features oodles of pink - I adore - and has a kind, loving relationship with her furry companions - a trait I admire. This week she is bringing us a little pink Christmas, another of my passions, so please be sure to stop by her place and tell her that Mimi sent you

But, if that wasn't enough for her to do and adequate room for her to spread her charm and creativity, there is another blog of this sweet lady's to check out and to explore - Autumn's Loveleigh Occasions.

Go there now and take a peek, but be sure to bookmark this blog. It is loaded with fall/autumn ideas and goodies and treats for the eye. You can get lost in her links to fun blog trinkets and the creative and inspiring links and "loveleighs".

 
If you don't have the time to explore today (who does on a Saturday, especially if the sun is out), take not of their whereabouts because you are going to want to go back to visit...often.


Now, if that wasn't enough fun for you, I'd like to share a stool that my grandsons used to stand on to be tall enough to brush their little toofies at the bathroom sink when here at Mimi's for a sleepover. I ♥ this little goodie of mine like the dickens and although it isn't used much any longer because boys do tend to grow taller, it holds many sweet moments in time for me. Happily, my little men still don't consider themselves to be too old for a sleepover (last one was yesterday), so we will still build on the memories but they no longer need the extra boost just before bedtime.

Before the weekend is gone, be sure to drop by Beverly's HOW SWEET THE SOUND for oodles of links to some of the most beautiful blogs on the web that are featuring some of the most luscious pink goodies in celebration of Pink Saturday this week. It will be time well spent!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

♥Wee, little punkin's add a whimsical touch to your fall window boxes♥



The first pumpkin is fun. The second was even better. By the third, there was some serious laughter, and we’re supposed to be grown-ups. Carving these irresistible wee punkins' is a super-simple, quick, entertaining project, regardless of your age. Try grouping your pumpkins in a window box, terra-cotta pot, or other container. Add some flowers and foliage to the mix, and you’ll have a ball. They are also adorable lining your walk way for guests as they arrive for your All Hallow's Eve festivities.

Pumpkin Pedestals
Make several of these holders for each window box or container. Before adding the pumpkins, fill your container with colorful autumn favorites such as mums, marigolds, black-eyed Susans, and ivy. Vary the heights of the holders for a spooky display.

Measure and saw the dowel to the desired length. When pushed into the soil, the top of the dowel should be just above the tops of all plants.

Hammer one twist nail through the center of a can lid. Now, flip it over (so the nail sticks up to hold the pumpkin in place), and use two twist nails to fasten the lid to one end of the dowel. Spray-paint the holder black, and push it into the soil of the window box or other container.

Face the Pumpkin
You’ve probably carved pumpkins before but maybe not one this tiny. Here is what I learned.  Place the pumpkin on a firm surface, and remove the top with a sharp paring knife.

Scoop out the innards with a teaspoon.

You can use a knife to cut the face, but small canapƩ cutters make it much easier to create lots of great shapes.* Fashion your faces. Then, press each pumpkin onto the twist nail on each stand. Add a tea light candle inside, light it, and put the lid on at an angle to allow heat to escape while keeping the light contained. Remember to check on them often; candles must be used with care.

*I used my heart, star and moon cutters to add a little whimsy. I also had a dog and a cat that looked adorable!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ghouls n' ghosts 'n witches, oh my! Halloween Poppycock, YUM! YUM! YUM!


This is so colorful and so darling and so fun to make and to give to friends, family and any little ghoul or ghost that happens to knock at your door. Everyone is going to love this, I promise. Generally when I make this close to a holiday, I use the M&Ms that are specially colored for that season because Christmas and Easter and St. Patrick's Day all deserve a lil' something special!

Ingredients

* Vegetable cooking spray
* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 6 cups (12-ounces) mini marshmallows
* 6 fun-size caramel peanut chocolate bars (such as Snickers), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
* 3 (3-inch) chocolate chip cookies, crumbled
* 1/3 cup chopped salted almonds, pecans or peanuts
* 1/2 cup orange and black chocolate candies (such as M&Ms)

Directions

Spray the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable cooking spray, and lightly spray a baking sheet. Set aside.

In a 3 quart or larger, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and popcorn over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and shake gently. Cook until all the kernels have popped, about 3 minutes. Place the popcorn in the prepared bowl.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. Using a spatula, sprayed with cooking spray, stir until the popcorn is coated. Spread the mixture over the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the chocolate bar pieces, cookies, almonds and chocolate candies. Using a spatula, gently press the toppings into the popcorn. Allow the mixture to dry for 1 hour.

Break into 2-inch pieces and store airtight in a plastic container. For gift giving, place in small plastic bags and seal with curled holiday ribbons!


Monday, October 05, 2009

BLOGGING ETHICS: FTC: Bloggers Must Disclose Payments For Reviews -- Or Pay Big

My question: Is there an ethics problem with blogging about something you received for free but tell folks that you think you just died and went to heaven because it is so good and wonderful and make the reader believe you purchased it and are blogging about its virtues "just because"?

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren't typical.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. The guides are not binding law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could result in various sanctions including a lawsuit.

Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products. Previously, companies had just included disclaimers when results were out of the ordinary – such as a large weight loss – noting that the experience was not typical for all customers.

Testimonial advertisements can be effective for consumers since they show others talking about their experiences, giving hope to the consumer that they'll have that experience too. But they are misleading to consumers if they don't disclose what they should truly expect to experience, the commission said.

For bloggers, the FTC stopped short of specifying how they must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be "clear and conspicuous," no matter what form it will take.

Bloggers have long praised or panned products and services online. But what some consumers might not know is that many companies pay reviewers for their write-ups or give them free products such as toys or computers or trips to Disneyland. In contrast, at traditional journalism outlets, products borrowed for reviews generally have to be returned.

Before the FTC gave notice last November it was going to regulate such endorsements, blogs varied in the level of disclosures about these potential conflicts of interest.
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The FTC's proposal made many bloggers anxious. They said the scrutiny would make them nervous about posting even innocent comments.

To placate such fears, Cleland said the FTC will more likely go after an advertiser instead of a blogger for violations. The exception would be a blogger who runs a "substantial" operation that violates FTC rules and already received a warning, he said.

Existing FTC rules already banned deceptive and unfair business practices. The final guidelines aim to clarify the law for the vast world of blogging. Not since 1980 had the commission revised its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials.

Jack Gillis, a spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America, thinks the FTC doesn't go far enough to protect consumers from unethical bloggers.

"Consumers are increasingly dependent on the Internet for purchase information," he said. "There's tremendous opportunity to steer consumers to the wrong direction."

The consumer advocacy group said lack of disclosure is a big problem in blogs. To mainly crack down on companies that give out freebies or pay bloggers won't always solve the problem. By going after bloggers as well, "you put far more pressure on them to behave properly," Gillis said.

Cleland said a blogger who receives a freebie without the advertiser knowing would not violate FTC guidelines. For example, someone who gets a free bag of dog food as part of a promotion from a pet shop wouldn't violate FTC guidelines if he writes about the product on his blog.

Blogger Linsey Krolik said she's always disclosed any freebies she's received on products she writes about, but has stepped up her efforts since last fall. She said she adds a notice at the end of a post, "very clear in italics or bold or something – this is the deal. It's not kind of buried."

As for testimonials, the new guidelines amount to changing the rules in the middle of the game, said Daniel Fabricant, interim executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, a trade group for nutritional supplements and natural products manufacturers and retailers.

He said the new rules probably won't change ads for his members, but it will leave them wondering what the FTC considers "typical" results. He said the FTC needs to define what those are.

"I don't think they've done that," he said. "The results you see in clinics are going to be in some degree different from what you see in the consumer."

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/ftc-bloggers-must-disclos_n_309819.html

Report: FTC to go after blogger freebies


The Federal Trade Commission is planning to crack down on bloggers who review or promote products while earning freebies or payments, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

This would, for the first time, bring bloggers under FTC guidelines that ban deceptive or unfair business practices.

"New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers--as well as the companies that compensate them--for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest," the article explained.

The rules could be quite strict, even extending to the practice of affiliate links--for example, a music blogger who links to a song on Amazon MP3 or iTunes that earns an affiliate commission in the process.

The practice of free products for bloggers, most of whom are not bound by ethical guidelines that journalists have historically followed, has been making headlines for some time now. Microsoft, for example, created a wave of bad press a few years ago when it gave free Acer laptops preloaded with Windows Vista to several dozen bloggers.

Some companies have sprung up around the whole notion of blogger compensation and giveaways. The AP article mentions some of the marketing companies that have made a business out of offering bloggers incentives--free trips, products, gift certificates, or outright payments--for coverage. One of them, Izea, has been generating controversy in the tech press since it started PayPerPost.

Izea says that it requires bloggers to disclose what they've gotten paid for or what they've received for free. But with the proposed FTC guidelines, if a blogger fails to disclose a freebie or payment, both Izea and the blogger could be held responsible. The FTC could also take issue with the fact that for at least one promotion, Izea has said it avoided including bloggers who would be likely to give the company negative press.

Izea CEO Ted Murphy wrote in a blog post Monday that the company supports stricter FTC regulations for bloggers.

"The companies that should be worried about these changes are those that have no standards and no way to enforce disclosure," Murphy wrote. "We have invested millions of dollars creating systems that allow us to automate transactions and verify standardized disclosure."

But some bloggers, the AP article mentioned, are concerned that the FTC's efforts could go too far, possibly generating probes into posts that were written without any compensation, and possibly leading bloggers to post with more restraint. And some believe it would be better if bloggers created their own standards based on niche and industry.

Then there's this: does the FTC realize just how many small-time bloggers are out there? Championing business ethics is a worthy goal, but, um, good luck getting much done when there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there and new ones popping up more or less daily. Ever heard of the expression "herding cats?" This post was updated at 11:37 a.m. PT with comment from Izea.


♥FREE AKC Breed Specific Dog PUMPKIN STENCILS♥

If you love dogs - heck, even if you don't love 'em, all you have to do is like 'em and you will have fun! The Better Homes and Gardens web site has the sweetest download-able stencils to carve breed specific pumpkins! How cute is that!



There are several breeds available, a link to a contest and also an LOL spot where the losers/out-takes get their 15 minutes of fame! You can also (they thought of everything) carve your own virtual pumpkin and send it to friends. I know where I'm going tomorrow - gotta get me some punkin's☺



You are gonna ♥ this little video!