Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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15 Hot DIY Projects To Try This Summer

Posted: 14 May 2014 09:31 AM PDT

If you’re on a budget (which most of us are) DIY is definitely the way to go. Our community has created 15 awesome DIY projects for you to try yourself. Got your own idea? Create a DIY How-To using our How-To lens format or use our traditional style format.

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DIY Garden of Sunflowers

1. DIY Garden of Sunflowers

Hello readers? Are you interested in creating your very own DIY Garden of Sunflowers? You have come to the right place to learn how easy and rewarding it can be to grow your own sunflower garden from seeds. This year, as Spring had sprung in Jacksonville,…

How I Made my Retro-Style Bulletin Board for my Craft Room

2. How I Made my Retro-Style Bulletin Board for my Craft Room

We recently moved and for the first time – ever – I have a craft room/office of my very own. Sound the horns, raise the roof and celebrate along with me! Sorry, I digress. One thing I knew I wanted was a ‘command center’, if you will. This includ…

Easiest way to dig up grass

3. Easiest way to dig up grass

Digging out your lawn is a tough job, but I’ve discovered there are ways to make it somewhat easier. Right now I’m nearly finished removing all the grass in the backyard, almost 2,000 square feet, to make way for new landscaping. And I’m doi…

Smelly Sink: How to Clean a Stinky Drain

4. Smelly Sink: How to Clean a Stinky Drain

The sinks in your home handle a lot of jobs and sometimes what goes down there can leave a bit of a smelly residue as it goes down. Perhaps a little something is left lying in the elbow of the sink’s drain and the air wafting upwards is a little less…

How to Install Roll Out Under Sink Organizer

5. How to Install Roll Out Under Sink Organizer

The first thing I had to do was to measure the opening and the depth of the cavity where I was going to place it. Organizers do come in different sizes, so you want to make sure that you buy one that fits your space. The second thing I had to do is to chec…

Do the Dishes Yourself & Dump the Dishwasher

6. Do the Dishes Yourself & Dump the Dishwasher

Which is better – the dishwasher or hand washing? I’ve read lots of debates online about this. Most people, it seems, want to justify the dishwasher. Mostly, people hate doing the dishes. Save power, water and time I just don’t get it. I’ve…

How to Make a Hula Hoop

7. How to Make a Hula Hoop

It’s no secret I’m a hooper, meaning I do tricks with a hula hoop. Now, you don’t need to be able to do fancy throws and twirls to hoop. Waist hooping is fun on its own and is great exercise! There are many places online you can purchase a h…

DIY Mini Record Stand

8. DIY Mini Record Stand

Don’t know what to do with your old 45 rpm records; well make something special with them like this little mini record stand. You can use this stand anywhere in your home. Use it for displaying a knick knack on it or use it at your desk. Ideas are end…

Build your own portable agility jump

9. Build your own portable agility jump

For those of us who compete in agility, finding places to practice can be challenging. And getting our dogs/partners accustomed to different places and surfaces is beneficial – especially various places where we can do agility. We designed a portable, go-…

How to Build a Tomato Tree Plant like Disneyworld's Epcot Ride "Living with the Land."

10. How to Build a Tomato Tree Plant like Disneyworld’s Epcot Ride “Living with the Land.”

This is an ongoing tutorial on building a tomato tree planter, just like the one at ‘Living with the Land’ at Disneyworld’s EPCOT. I decided to build this planter for a few reasons, chief of which is that I do not have much area to garden wi…

How To Remove Bathtub Caulking

11. How To Remove Bathtub Caulking

What is bathtub caulking? And why do I need it? Bathtub caulking is the seal between the wall and the bathtub, and you need it so water doesn’t get behind the tub wall or leak into the walls causing damage. Our bathtub caulking began to show signs of…

DIY: Build Your Own Sandbox With Benches For Your Kids

12. DIY: Build Your Own Sandbox With Benches For Your Kids

Tired of your kids playing in the dirt? Or maybe your kids love the beach. Bring it home with this easy solution. Hours of fun right in the backyard. You’ll never have to worry about the neighborhood cats thinking this is their own personal litter box…

How To Make a Lamp from an Oatmeal Container

13. How To Make a Lamp from an Oatmeal Container

Make Your Own Lamp! It’s so easy to make a customized lamp that fits with your colors and decor. I have spent hours, days and even weeks looking for just the right lamp, the right size and color. Then one day, while I was shopping for a lamp, I saw a…

How to Redo a Vintage Buffet

14. How to Redo a Vintage Buffet

DIY? Absolutely, yes YOU can! :) If you are fortunate enough to discover an old buffet piece in a thrift shop or garage sale perhaps and the price is affordable to your budget, don’t hesitate to pick it up. These vintage treasures can be an invaluable…

Get Blocky with a Minecraft style Gold Sword

15. Get Blocky with a Minecraft style Gold Sword

Here is my biggest DIY challenge! My good friend I met here at Squidoo told me his daughter loves Minecraft the video game. I wanted to make her some things for her birthday and Christmas. She requested the Minecraft Gold Sword. There are no patterns to ma…

Lens of the Day: DIY Garden of Sunflowers

Posted: 14 May 2014 05:42 AM PDT

sunflowersWhat can you do with a packet of sunflower seeds?

If you’re like me, you’ll plant them all and get one measly plant started. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s early enough in the season. I can plant more.

If you’re like the author of today’s Lens of the Day, you’ll sow them and then reap the rewards in so many different ways that include a special project and a little business on the side.

Intrigued? Go read DIY Garden of Sunflowers by JaguarJulie now to learn all about it.

Authenticity Matters: 3 Tips for More Genuine Writing

Posted: 13 May 2014 01:33 PM PDT

6896999591_ffa595dda0_oAs the web matures, readers are beginning to expect a greater level of quality in the content that they find online. Search engines are adapting to this shift too: Google’s latest “Hummingbird” algorithm places priority on the “why” of a search rather than the “what”. Gone are the un-glory days of  ”articles” (I use that term loosely) stuffed to the brim with keywords and SEO “optimization”. On the new web, succesful content is personal, engaging and real.

As a lens master, your goal is to write content for your lenses that shares your real experiences and knowledge about the world.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with three tips that you can use to improve your writing and shake the bad habits of inauthentic, generic writing.


1. Be yourself and write like yourself

When you’re writing, it’s very easy to inadvertently copy the tone and style of other writers. I am especially guilty of this  - the subconscious mind has a powerful ability to shape and alter the way you use language and I find that many of us are natural mimics. When you’re writing your very first drafts, I encourage you to let your thoughts flow naturally. I find that dictation lets me be more spontaneous and creative than typing or writing with a pen or pencil. You can record using a smartphone’s “Notes” features, software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, a hand-held tape recorder or if you are using OS X “Mavericks”, the built-in dictation feature.

When it’s time to check your first draft, look at the writing with a critical eye. Are you copying something you’ve read before? Does your writing sound like the copy from a print advertisement or the voiceover on a TV commercial? If it does, rewrite it as if you are speaking to a friend or family member. Readers are looking for intimacy and authenticity, not fluff and spin.

2. Ask for help and critique from others

It’s very difficult to judge the impressions our writing gives. Our perception of the quality and clarity of our writing will always be colored by our own expectations and beliefs about our abilities. As I mentioned in the introduction we want to write content that’s written from a real, honest place. One of the best ways to judge the genuineness of your content is the critique and commentary of others – it’s not important that the person know you in real life and you may find it valuable to source critiques from people who don’t know you.  Be sure to ask them what impression they get from what you’ve written – does it sound like the work of a real person or a team of copyeditors?

3. Tell me how you really feel

As far as I know, search engines are not yet at the level of being able to gauge the emotional content of a piece of writing, but people are very sensitive to these aspects of the written word. It’s always a good idea to choose subjects that bring you real, honest joy, excitement or even frustration. Choosing topics that really grab you will result writing that’s dynamic, passionate and exciting to read.

Your readers will be looking for clues that help them assess your authority and knowledge but  they will also be able to pick up on your emotional response to the topic that you’ve chosen.

When we write with authenticity, we share our feelings both directly through the words that we choose and indirectly through our phrasing, sentence structure and grammatical quirks. Many of us are accustomed to writing in a formal, essay style that deliberately conceals the author’s thoughts and feelings. I urge you to shake this habit, after all, if your readers wanted Wikipedia, that’s where they’d be.

If you feel your content lacks in authenticity or isn’t as genuine as it could be, try revising it to share more of your feelings and thoughts about the topic. Don’t pack your writing full of idle musing just for the sake of it. Instead, think of the emotional content as a rich spice and insert it sparingly.

I hope these three tips help you to create more authentic, genuine and “real” content. You can use these concepts in new writing as well as old  - revise your lenses often as your skills improve and you will see your audience grow and your body of work will better show your abilities as a content creator.

In closing, I’ll leave you with my latest mantra: “If Content is King, Authenticity is Queen.” 

Photo Credit: poshdee via Compfight cc

How do you keep authenticity when you write?  As a reader, what makes content come across as genuine? Let us know what’s working for you in the comments below.

Interview with Celia Rivenbark: Rude Bitches Make Me Tired

Posted: 13 May 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 12.11.36 PMYou always know where you stand with North Carolina-based syndicated humor columnist and essayist Celia Rivenbark. She doesn't suffer fools gladly, or, um, at all. She always has a unique and pretty clear-eyed, if somewhat excitable, take on modern parenting (mother to the teen-aged Sophie, often called Princess in her writing) and family life.

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