You never know who you will meet on a cruise.

I recently wrote about our family cruise to Alaska.   It was an amazing experience to share the breathtaking sites and sounds of Alaska with the loves of my life- my husband, daughter and son.

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We are what people may call a “social” family.   We make friends of strangers easily.  And when it comes to long cruises – we make lots of friends.  So, it will come to no surprise that we met some very interesting people with extraordinary stories aboard our ship. And, they were our amazing Princess Cruise ship staff.

About our cruise staff

The one thing I must admit is that the Princess Cruise line is staffed with some of the friendliest people I have ever met. From across the globe their hardworking employees make the guests feel special and interfacing with them on a daily basis is a pleasure.

So, please allow me to give a few shout-outs to some of the outstanding staff that made our journey through Alaska phenomena.

Cheers to the Recreation Crew!

From fun games of bingo to trivia and even playing with potential Iditerod sled dogs, Clair, Gambal and Monica were amazing.  Claire hailed from England and Monica from South America.  Despite being onboard for extended periods of time and far from home their exuberance and  humor kept us laughing all cruise long. Plus who doesn’t like a balloon drop during the last night event!

 

And, the waitstaff deserves kudos, too!

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Our steward, Luis was as kind as you could be. And, the waitstaff was attentive and experienced with fine-dining practices. But, it was the two friends and waiters from the Island Princess Explorer’s Lounge that caught our attention thanks to their unending smiles.  One who I will call “H’ is a body double for John Legend. (Judge for yourself in the photo.). His friend is up and coming musical talent, Sabikey.  You can listen to his reggae soul beats at  Soundcloud here. 

 

He also has a video with a sample of his latest track.  I am pretty sure Sabikey has the kind of  talent that will get noticed – and soon. There is bound to be an agent or music promoter who is a passenger on one of the cruise trips!

 

Lastly, there has to be made mention of the Princess Cruise ship’s captain and his crew that kept us on course and safe. At no time did we feel that the security measures were lax. In fact, we found that they were quite vigilant with personal safety and also health of the passengers.  I loved that they requested hand washing before each meal and also provided tons of antibacterial soap and reminders that if you were at all sick to report it to the medical staff.

Thanks, Princess Cruises and The Travel Store for our fun on the Alaskan seas!

Read previous blogs about Alaska:

Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

Hello Alaska! (Part 3 of “How we made a loser year end like a winner with trips to Hawaii and Alaska”)

 

p.s. I am not a brand ambassador of Princess Cruises or anyone mentioned in this blog. I simply am a happy traveler who likes to write!

 

Gifts with Heart ❤️

2017 has seen more than its’ share of tragedy.  Mother Nature was angry this year – very, very, very angry. Our world experienced  multiple devastating earthquakes, hurricanes that tore apart whole islands and deadly fires that also ravaged homes and businesses.  Then there was the broken hearts caused by recent acts of violence and rage – Las Vegas, Barcelona, London, throughout Africa and the mid-east and of course, New York City.

Despite the tragedy and profound sense of losses, we can still hope and seek a silver lining this holiday season by giving from the heart to heal hearts.

I have compiled a list of organizations or companies that want to help the greater good by doing good.  Please consider their efforts when you are gifting others’ during the holidays or just “any day”.

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One Hope Wines. Annually this company features worthwhile organizations that deserve our love. Whether to help fight against breast cancer or drive attention about Autism, this company always is about the giving through gifts.  Discover their lovely gift bags here that nourish the soul.

This year the grape crops of Northern California were nearly obliterated due to numerous fires of unprecedented magnitude.  One Hope has pledged to help the farmers and wineries and sent a note from their CEO with their vow for assistance.

Read about the ONE HOPE wine GoFund Me campaign

 

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BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL RESCUE

The statistics are staggering as to how many animals are destroyed annually. That is a polite way to say killed.  That’s right – thousands upon thousands of dogs, cats, bunnies, etc. are euthanized because of bad luck.  They were throw-aways. BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL RESCUE works tirelessly to save animal lives and educate humans.

Adopt a pet either for “real” or  sponsor a pet virtually here.

Sponsoring a pet is the perfect gift to give someone who is allergic or unable to care for a furry family member due to living circumstances.  Last year I adopted a dog and horse to gift someone!

 

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Sponsor a Classroom!

Organizations are abundant to help teachers get the essentials (and occasional perks) funded for their classroom.  Don’t believe that school districts in 2017 are flush with money to help our student’s learn. Many have shoes-string budgets and can hardly cover the basics, like textbooks or science equipment.  I would love to think that we don’t need a bake sale each time our students need uniforms or basic science equipment. But, that is the reality.

Here are some alternate ways to help without having to crack an egg for cookie-dough.

Click on the links below to learn more about each organization.

Donors Choose – Help a specific teacher / classroom request

Adopt a Classroom (including a special section for Hurricane Relief)

Go Fund Me Educational Campaigns

 

SHP-Magnet-2_largeSANDY HOOK PROMISE – KEEPING OUR CHIlDREN SAFE

Last but not least,  one of my favorite charities is the SANDY HOOK PROMISE foundation.  They do AMAZING work – year ’round. Their goal – to stop senseless violence, especially from guns,  and increase tolerance and compassion in this world.

Their store has items that would make groovy gifts! Shop here

Watch their powerful array of videos here.

 

 

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In closing, please the gift of sharing and caring this holiday season.  Imagine the impact your $5, $25 or more donation could have on your community and other communities’ around the world.

Thank you.

 

LouiseSattler.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Your First Blog

You have heard about “blogging” and maybe even attempted to start your own without any guidance. Yet if your experience is like many people I know, before you knew it frustration settled in and you gave up!  No need to give up entirely – let me help  by offering you a step by step “short- course” on writing your first blog posts!

Step 1: Use a solid blogging platform.  Whether it be WordPress (my first choice), Google Blogger or even Linkedin – find a place to express your thoughts.

Step 2- For newbies write an outline. Simple paper and pen will be your first “tools” to use.  Write a series of topics that you are passionate about on the top of the paper. Love dogs?  Great! What do you love about dogs?  Perhaps you want to blog about adopting from a shelter or rescue and the experience you had adding a puppy to your family via a local animal shelter?

Once you have settled on a topic then start writing down your primary thoughts. Let’s use the adoption of a dog as basis for our “model blog template”.  I would perhaps write the following as my outline for my blog:

1- You always wanted to adopt a dog, but waited until the time was right as a dog is part of your family for many years.

2. The problems with overpopulation in shelters of unwanted dogs. (I would add an link of some evidence citing this fact, maybe from a reputable source such as the ASPCA.org)

3. Add your own research on finding a family friendly breed and/or how to integrate a new dog in to your family home. (Use a different source than the ASPCA.org -so it doesn’t look like you just read on kind of website. Remember do not plagiarize. QUOTE any and all  facts that are directly copied.  Give credit to all sources.)

4. Description of your search for the dog and how you finally found “Fluffy”.

5. A bit about “Fluffy” and his / her backstory. (Fluffy was abandoned, given up by owners, sickly, cute as pie, etc.)

6. Now be sure to add some links such as from more dog friendly sites about their advice on adopting a dog from a shelter.  OR perhaps a personal story about growing up with a pet.

7. Lastly, close the blog with last thoughts, pearls of wisdom and of course, an update on how Fluffy and the family are doing.

Side note: Check out my own dog-adoption story here (and a template for writing, too!)

Back to my steps...

Step 3: When you have completed the actual  writing of your article be sure to include the following components for finalizing your blog:

>ADD photos or images (such as an infographic). Use great apps such as Pic Collage or website like RELAY to give your post a visual boost!  Important: Put your name on the photo that is YOURS.  Be sure to give credit where it is due. DO NOT just “lift” photos from a Google Search in to your blog.  Trust me – Getty Images will know that you did that. They are notorious on seeking out people who post their images and “fining” them a ridiculous amount of money.  I like to use budget friendly photo sites such as Graphic Leftovers.

My Story on Red Keyboard Button.
An image can be a powerful addition to the written word in your blog.

USE the spell and grammar check available on your blog platform. Write like an adult not like a third grader.  And please, be positive – not negative in your first blogs.  If you want to be controversial that is fine. But, hone your blogging skills first.

>Add CATEGORY and TAGS to your post. Categories should be the general gist, such as Dogs or Dog Adoption. Tags should be sub-categories to get peoples attention like: Dog Adoption, Adopt Don’t Shop, (the breed) like German Shepherd, Mixed Breed dogs, Family dog, etc. Both help with optimization of people finding your post in an online search.

>Check it for SEO readability if you have an SEO package added to your blog.

Be sure to SHARE it on popular social media sites such as TWITTER, FACEBOOK, TUMBLR or LINKEDIN.  Use a hashtag such as #DogRescue #DogAdoption #GermanShepherdMix

Do not panic if you feel that it wasn’t well received.  Thousands or even millions of blogs are written each week so there are some that gain traction and others that … well… go unnoticed.

There are a zillion more things I can tell you about writing a blog. But, I fear that may overwhelm blogging newbies and scare you from even trying! So, with that – enjoy the process and remember – write what interests YOU!

 

Should I write the post or not?

Recently, I have become a bit agitated by events going on around me.  Our political arena seems to be topsy-turvy.  Some people in my sphere are not making the best of choices and seem to be posting their very strong opinions  and photos carelessly and without regard to whether or not they are experts in a field or being sensitive to the feelings of others.  Some things are just not making sense.

I have started and stopped a variety of blog posts on these various situations and keep deleting them.  I have wanted to yell via my Twitter feed – “Stop posting negative political posts!”  Or… “That is online bullying!”  Or…” You are NOT an expert in this field – don’t make blanket statements about medical treatments that are standard and customary!”

That begs the question – should you post or blog everything you want to say or not? 

I decided to NOT post for now all the random and intense thoughts that are flowing through my brain.  For one, the post would actually be an e-book. Instead I will just give resources on what is considered standard practice or words of wisdom for bloggers and those in social media.

For those who feel they need to post without a filter I suggest reading about possible repercussions to ones’ career in this New York Times article. Rafael Gomez, the author, makes a good point when he queries about whether a person would post a photo that they used in social media on the wall of their office cubicle?  If the answer is – NO – then you should proceed with caution about what you upload on your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook stream.  (And note, this is especially the case of college students who think the photo of them on Spring Break is funny – but prospective employers may not share their sense of humor.)

Don’t think that your rant about the President, key officials or even your boss will go unnoticed?  Your negative post could result in loss of job, a trip to the police station or a visit from an agency with three letters in their acronym.  Your comment will and should be taken seriously.  So that purported innocent comment that you will back-pedal about by saying, “I was only kidding” – can potentially be THE mistake of your life.  Read more here. 

 If you are not a physician, lawyer, accountant, etc. then you shouldn’t be dispelling advice.  Sure, you can tell your opinion, but I would steer clear of giving hard and fast professional advice. And this is why – social media litigation is becoming a business.  Yes, what is said, posted, tweeted, pinned, etc. on social media has become a legal entity of its’ own.  So, for those who are stepping out of your profession and stepping in to one that you don’t have certification/ licensure – be ready – as you are setting yourself up for potentially a lot of “woe”. New technology means new laws.  Read more about liability and social media here.

I will conclude by saying – just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it needs to leave your head. Be smart. Be safe. Be kind.

Thanks!

~Louise

 

I am breaking blogging rules today

Yes, I am breaking blogging rules for this last post of 2015.  I haven’t researched a topic or written 300-750 words with great SEO. No polls. No great Vlog or photo essay.  I am not going to write a passionate essay nor offer ways to practice #SocialGood.

Simply,  I just want to take a moment to wish all who read Where Learning Meets Laughter an AMAZING 2016!  May your year fulfill your dreams and wishes.

xo,

Louise

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Which blog posts were the most popular and favorite of 2015?

Today a question by a blogger was posed on WORDPRESS“What was your favorite post that you wrote in 2015?”  That is a tricky question.  The posts I enjoyed writing or felt had the most “impact” were within the “social good or philanthropy”.  But, interestingly the post that had the most direct readership (from WordPress directly vs. a “third party”) was a fashion blog – a topic I rarely discuss.

So – which blogs made the list with readers and which were my favorites here on Where Learning Meets Laughter? 

WORDPRESS READERS FAVORITES:

Most popular:  A Perfect Fit Every Time – Meet Fitlogic! #Giveaway

Lesson learned here:  a giveaway helps a blog to be read

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Close “runner- ups”: 

Multiethnic Arms Raised Holding ADHD

A Letter to Teachers with Students who have ADD/ ADHD also was very well received.  (and similar blogs about learning disabilities were nearly as popular.) I also must admit these blogs were on my “favorite” list, too!

 

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES

Dear Burlington Times was written in March 2015 as a response to a published letter to the editor titled: “Signing Specialists are a Distraction”, by  a Mr. Muccolini. Apparently their reader had taken issue with sign language interpreters who help convey information during public and media events, but “distract” hearing people.  (Sigh) After Mr. Mussolini authored his letter to the editor my Signing Families inbox was beyond full with requests to “do something” – so I did.

My response was passionate and very well received.  Sadly, Mr. Mussolini or the paper issued a response to my letter to the editor. At least I had the gumption to “do something” – social good triumphed!

 

YouTubers with hearts of gold and mad social media skills!

When you get to spend time at a Vanity Fair event with iJustine, Tyler Oakley and Joey Garceffa it is a day like no other! These YouTube sensations taught me a lot about social media from the eyes of millennials.  Have to admit I bow with respect to all as they are accomplished authors on top of having loyal fans and profitable YouTube channels.  It was a pleasure to meet them during OSCARS 2015 (actually, I had met Justine prior, but we didn’t have a chance to really connect until last February.) Here is my blog about this fun and funny experience! 

 

#SocialGood

When I get an opportunity to promote a #SocialGood cause or company that is dedicated to helping others, it makes my heart sing. Here is a list of many of the social good blogs I penned from 2015.  Please take a minute to get to know  these fabulous people dedicated to helping others in our communities and worldwide.

#SocialGood blogs

 

Thanks for reading any or all of my random musings on WHERE LEARNING MEETS LAUGHTER!

And, please share with me your favorite blog posts (here or elsewhere!)

 

 

 

 

 

BLOGS WORTH READING

Blog, spelled with dice letters

Do you read blogs to be inspired?  Perhaps to find some humor in life? Or maybe to add to your personal learning?

Which blogs do I read faithfully? Loads!  I could write a list that would take FOREVER to read.. but for now I will limit this list to some of my fun “must reads” !

 

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HouseofSquirrels.com

Welcome to the House of Squirrels  where Kitchen, Bella, Style and Doctor Squirrel bring a touch of France and Lifestyle to your home! Follow the adventures of these women as they travel all over the world.  Take for example this quest for the best burger!  Only to find it in Paris .  Enjoy the musings of all the Squirrels on  TWITTER.

If you are a #FOODIE and LOVE to follow shows like TOP CHEF or anything on the FOOD NETWORK then you will adore Margaret McSweeney of Kitchen Chat!  Her blog is one cooking video or chef interview after another!  This week alone Margaret attended a food bloggers convention where she met the one and only Robin Leach (champagne wishes and caviar dreams).  Margaret posts daily via TWITTER and is a #MustFollow!

Photo property of Margaret McSweeney KitchenChat.info
Photo property of Margaret McSweeney KitchenChat.info

HEALTHGIST  is a solid blog by Dr. Bola and Dr. Carol with one goal – keeping women healthy! A wonderful dose of health news is delivered to the inbox of those who subscribe.  Also, their blog has GREAT information for preventative health care! And… (yes. there is more) the toolkit is chocked full of quizzes that can determine if you need to check in with your physician for some ‘additional diagnostics”.

 

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My friend, Tommy Geraci, writes one of the most comprehensive blogs about television and film.  Teeco71.com  is for the person who LOVES to follow entertainment news! He also will be helping out with projects in the entertainment genre, particularly EYECON (stay tuned for his big announcements via his blog). TWEET  with Tommy for all the latest news.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the blogs of my colleagues ( in addition to Bola and Margaret) from the 411 VOICES INFLUENTIAL NETWORK.  See our media packet for all the members and their blog links.

Love to read BLOGS – May I recommend hopping over to TRIBERR!

Do you want our readers to check out YOUR blog? Feel free to list it in the comment section. 

Honoring our Veterans – Part 2

Earlier this week I posted a pictorial blog of our recent trip to the monuments in Washington DC.  Most of the memorials we visited were  tributes to those who have served in combat.

After posting this blog I recalled that I had caught a group of World War II veterans on an honor flight to commemorate Veteran’s Day  at the World War II Memorial.  I happened upon this group in November of 2010  arriving at BWI airport when I was awaiting a departing flight at the same gate.

I know the footage is shaky and also not professional.  But, this is what happens when organic moments are caught on simple FlipCams!

There are many more videos, like this one, on YouTube.  Simply use the search words – Veterans returning home

Feel free to post links as comments to your “coming home” videos.  And as always, respectful comments welcome.

 

Vintage + Contemporary = Steampunk!

DSC_0325  If you had asked me four months ago to describe Steampunk I would have answered with a blank stare. I had NO idea that this was an art form let alone one that is quite unique, intriguing and most of all taking the design world by storm!

In essence, Steampunk is the melding of vintage objects with a contemporary flair.  How can I best explain Steampunk – well think of taking your grandmother’s glass trinkets and placing it with your father’s baseball. Glue them together and add a bunch more interesting novelty pieces. Hard to visualize this as art? I had a difficult time wrapping my head around this, too. To get some clarity I did some homework and found myself  spending a bit of time with someone who could answer a whole bunch of questions about Steampunk – Beverly Holman, a longtime resident of Hermosa Beach, CA.

First lesson I learned – 80 is the new 50! Despite being a senior citizen she is no way near retiring, as she has jumped in with both feet and wizardry hands to create the most funky of designs!  Imagine placing an eyeball and a license plate on to an old camera. Strange grouping you may think? Well look below and see how this odd matching of objects becomes a work of art!

I had an opportunity to interview Beverly  and found out that after many years in behind a desk she longed for her first love – art! Without much ado, once retiring she decided turn back time and go back to her artistic roots. She decided to start by seeking out various retro and antique items that could be repurposed.  (Her house is stacked with bins that hold the most fascinating collection of objects!).  Once she has mapped out a general idea she assembles items that she believes will carry out a chosen theme – then she sits down and starts to create! Hours and days later  a new Steampunk design is born!

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Here is where I get sad – I see these wonderful creations and then reflect back to the many times I threw out little objects thinking they were were worthless. Who would want that odd monopoly piece or glass figurine from a five and dime store?  Beverly does!

And in case you are wondering Steampunk is a legitimate art form.  Some find a more goth following with their talents while others lean to the more Victorian and vintage aspects of Steampunk.  There are magazines such as Just Steampunk! that dedicates many pages to artists (Beverly will be in their upcoming issue.)

So if you are sporting an AARP card and wondering what to do in the next chapter of your life – consider your more creative side! Nothing keeps a brain and body fresher than setting goals and using your innate talents!  And, if you are interested in learning more about Steampunk or wish to have a great conversation with a fascinating woman please check out Beverly’s website!  I am glad I did!

Below are some photos I took of just a few of the dozens of creations that Beverly has made. Many of her designs are available on ETSY and in California shops – a list is on her website with links.

Enjoy and note – I truly love Steampunk and was fascinated by the art form. This is NOT a sponsored post.

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Why Instagram is a GREAT Choice for Engagement

Why Instagram is a GREAT Choice for Engagement
 
I started to be a shutterbug in 1967 – the year my parents took us to Disneyland.  I must have snapped every photo on my roll of 24 within minutes of arriving to the gates where Mickey Mouse stood!  Since then I have snapped THOUSANDS of photos including countless pics of places I have visited.  Which is why when Instagram,  a photo driven social media site that depends on engagement,  became all the rage and I quickly became – “an early adopter”.

SNAP – UPLOAD – HASHTAG

Instagram is a virtual photo album that you share with your friends and family. It also enables you to engage an audience by using a common entity known as the hashtag #.  The pros of Instagram are that you can use endless hashtags which helps like – minded people find you and your product or service. You can instantaneously share your image on to TUMBLER, FACEBOOK and TWITTER, as well. Your photo of your trip to Italy can be a useful tool for those wishing to learn about places to visit and was found simply because you uploaded a photo of Venice and tagged it #Italy #Travel #Venice.
 The cons of Instagram is that it is best used as an app and not very computer friendly.  Another con is that you cannot really comment effectively.  A big ‘ol heart for “ I love it” usually is all one can say.  Those who like to read comments are best to post on FACEBOOK.
Caution for those who think that Instagram is about snap- upload- hashtag and SELL you are WRONG.  Instagram engages an audience and may entice them to seek out more information but the company frowns heavily on direct sales and will “ding” you if you repeatedly try. So don’t add any pricing or personal contact information on any of your posts!
Lastly…Want to have a lot of people enjoy and remark on your Instagram photo? Simply do a group selfie with half a dozen celebrities at the OSCARS! Just ask ELLEN!
Enjoy!