Christmas Tree Skirt Project


After a week of working all evening every evening, the Christmas Tree Skirt Project is finally complete!  Being a new home owner and moving from a tiny apartment, Christmas decorating is starting from scratch and I don’t have much “scratch” to work with.

I found this post by Sugarbee Crafts on Pinterest. Julia has put together a great tutorial on how to make this skirt. I purchased 2 yards of 72″ white felt from for $11.96 and the biggest bottle of Fabri-Tac they had at Joann Fabrics for $16.99 (but I had a coupon).  Silver beads came from Michael’s and the only other things needed were needle, thread, scissors, rotary cutter, mat and a pin.

Aside from what Julia describes in the tutorial, here are some short cuts I discovered by the time I was done:

1. Use a long pin to hold the petals together prior to stitching them.


2. Stitch through 3 times. Try to hit each side and down the middle.

3. Don’t pull stitches too tight, you will want the flower to open to be round. You can see below especially on the top flower, how pulling the stitches too tightly distorted how the flowers came out.


4. There’s no need to knot the thread if you’re careful.  This will also help the temptation to stitch too tightly.  The sides will be glued together using Fabri-Tac, just be sure to cover the thread ends with glue. I used dark thread for picture purposes and you can see here, what I mentioned in #3 about wanting room for the flower to fan out to a circle.  Additionally, I used enough thread to be able to do several flowers before having to re-thread the needle.  I’m a bit lazy and eager to get projects done!


5. Fabri-Tac was kind of expensive but it works AWESOMELY!

6. Velcro is another idea for holding the back side together if you don’t want to mess with buttons, etc.

7. Using the rotary cutter to cut out the petals was soooo much faster and less painful than scissors. I’m pretty sure I used close to 250 petals between the two sizes of flowers.

Now I can’t wait until December 2nd when we go pick up our tree from Eatontown Lions Club at Monmouth Mall!!  I’m going to try to post up the Christmas crafty things I do this year for the holidays.  Let’s see how that works out…

If you want to see some of the things I plan to work on, visit the ‘Patterns and Projects‘ board I’m creating on Pinterest.  You can also follow me on Twitter.


The Fence and The Foot



This fence runs the length of what used to be, pre-Sandy, the Long Branch Boardwalk. It annoys me because it stands in the way of me and the beach. I have to trek to Pier Village usually to find the closest beach access.  Unless of course somewhere along the way there’s a gap in the fence that I can squeeze through. I would never move it myself…but…. if a space was already there it’s far too tempting to resist. Plus I love jumping off the sea wall into the sand.

I forgot to set my alarm this morning so I woke up late. I didn’t make it to the beach before the sun peeked over the horizon but I was pretty close. I’m really sick and tired of having Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot.  I’ve not run since Tuesday and it’s making me crazy. Big plans for snowboarding at Hunter Mountain this weekend and I was hoping it would be better by now. Just like the fence, I’m not letting the pain stand in my way.

Hopefully next week I’ll be back to running with a little luck and some runspiration. I have to give the shuffle in my iPhone props for putting together a pretty sassy three songs in a row that kept me moving on my way today.

Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters -~- MoneyGrabber – Fitz and the Tantrums ~-~ Nicotine and Gravy – Beck

sunrise 2.15.13Here is the sunrise on February 15, 2013. TGIF.



Some days I wake up and just don’t feel like running. It’s easy to make excuses to stay in bed and not go outside into the cold. I’ve been trying to rationalize getting up and at it instead.

Living .2 miles away from the beach in Long Branch, New Jersey goes a long way in helping shake the sleep and laziness off. Seeing the sunrise has become a little bit like my religion. Not a terribly religious person by nature, watching the day begin from its onset is simply amazing. Not every day is blessed with a splendid sunrise. On days when it’s clear enough out, there’s no reason to miss it. There may not be one tomorrow or for several days.

Accomplishing a run of however many miles, feeling grateful for and happy with my place in the world along with seeing my fellow Long Branchers all before 7:00am can’t be beat. I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging so I’m going to try starting with runspiration posts.

Today’s runspiration began like this:
My foot hurts, I don’t want to run or get up.
The sky is clear.
I can see dawn colors.
Lets walk to the beach.
The fence will be in the way.
Then walk to Pier Village.
Walking will take too long.
Ok let’s just run.

There always seems to be a song that comes on during my time out and it strikes me as timely. Today’s run song of the day: Dave Matthews – Oh

Seeing the surfers out at dawn made me add learning to surf to the summer, or post snowboarding, “to do” list.

Finally Caught Lightning in a Bottle

For as long as I’ve had a camera and as much as thunderstorms scare me, I’ve always wanted to be able to catch a picture of a lightning bolt. The opportunity finally arose on Saturday evening July, 7, 2012 when I worked a beach graduation/birthday party in Allenhurst, NJ with The Windmill. The storm blew in early and after it was over the party went off without a hitch.

The pictures below were captured with my iPhone 4GS and are completely unedited. I’m going to have fun playing with them in Instagram (follow me at byouchah or see them in my Twitter feed @byouchah) but wanted to post them here in their virgin state.

I looked out from the tent we were working under to see the sky looking like this after hearing from @nynjpaweather on Twitter that a dangerous line of thunderstorms was heading our way. (They tease me that I’m “Doppler Radar” when storms are coming and @nynjpaweather now 4 for 4 when we’re going to get hit. If you’re on Twitter, Steven DiMartino’s weather advice is a must follow.) I have seen a lot of thunderstorms in my day, but never a leading edge like this. I have no idea if they always look like this but as cool as it appears, it scared the crap out of me.

I had to catch a picture of just the sky. The striations of blue and gray were so stark, especially that light blue line. A mattress made out of the lower part does look better than memory foam however.

This is one of my favorites. Seeing the sky look like that gave me an alien invasion/Ghostbusters feeling. The Super Creeps.

Dark clouds heading overhead and towards the ocean.

The “Thunderstorm Men” were the last ones to head for cover. Us girls, we scattered like chickens to get under the cabanas for cover.

There it is. In all its glory. My first ever lightning picture. Lightning in a bottle… or an iPhone so to speak. I was so scared by the lightning I shook the phone. The lightning was so bright it overexposed the picture. I do believe I actually yelled out “I got it!” in excitement. This one, for all intents and purposes might be the coolest one because it looks like the lightning is going right into the umbrella. I’m not sure if 1. the lightning is actually split at the top or 2. I shook the phone scared again and the double bolt is a result of that. For a second lightning picture capture, I’m not complaining. I was amazed I was able to get a third picture and again how much the light overexposed the shot. I’m no photographer so I’m not even sure that’s the right terminology. The bright spot starts all the way at the top of the clouds. I landed this final one. Again the light overexposed it and I caught a lady walking by but just by simply cropping it, see below. At this point it was assumed that I was watching the Doppler to determine when we could get back to work and not taking pictures with glee. This is what the storm looked like out at sea. We must have been right on the edge. Asbury Park must have had quite the light show last night as it seemed they were completely surrounded. We didn’t see much rain from it, just a great show displaying Mother Nature’s power.Finally home here is the aftermath of working all night on the beach. Sand in the sneakers and a good time had by all.  You have to love the Jersey Shore.You can follow my newly created Weather Board on Pinterest where I’ll keep adding new weather pictures as I am able to capture them.

Complete the Social Circle: Taking Your Online Networking Offline

From my appearance on Rockstar Podcast

I had the opportunity to take my online social networks offline and connect with some new and old friends offline. A friend I met through Twitter gave a presentation on using social media for the DJ business at the Crowne Plaza in Edison tonight.  If you aren’t already familiar with Lorenzo Araneo or @screaminlunatic on Twitter you should be and this is a recommendation to follow what he does on the social platforms.

Social media can be an overwhelming marketing effort to add into your already busy marketing mix, but it is a necessary element to your overall brand, be it personal or business. If done correctly and seen as a complement to your offline marketing, the rewards are limitless. Personally, I enjoy connecting with people both on and offline and tonight’s event was a perfect opportunity to marry the two.

I knew Lorenzo would be there, obviously and other friends including Craig Caruso of Caruso Apps and Tony Neto from SCE Event Group were also in attendance. It’s been awhile since I had been able to catch any face-time with all of them so I decided to go. As the social media champion for my hotel, it also gave me an opportunity to get Sheraton Eatontown out and seen in the wedding market.

Unbeknownst to me I would also meet Greg from Ambient DJ’s and Adam Skuba from Skuba Entertainment.  Greg and I have conversed through Twitter and the Sheraton account before and we were able to take the online connection and meet like old friends. These are the types of opportunities I most enjoy. Seeing connections come full circle.

A few takeaways I’d like to share from Lorenzo’s presentation tonight are:

1. Your social sites should be driving traffic to your biggest sales tool besides yourself and that is your website. Don’t reverse it by driving people to your Facebook page first. What if Facebook goes away in a few years? Websites will pass the test of time while social sites will continue to evolve and there is always potential for the new “next best thing”.

2. Evaluate the time you are spending on social platforms and stick to the 80% business. Resist the urge to check the “red flags” on your personal  accounts. While on your business pages use your time to connect, like and interact with affiliate businesses that can help drive a potential customer to you in the form of referrals. This is networking my friends.

3. This one is a gem. allows you to set up alerts sent to your email whenever any business you set them up for posts on Facebook. This has value for accounts you want to stay up to date with and also allow you to spy on your competition and see what they are putting out there. Alerts can also be added by URL so it’s possible to include other platforms like Twitter or blogs.

4. Twitter is not about what people are having for lunch – Facebook actually is. (This one made me laugh and it’s because I SO agree!) Twitter is made most useful when listening, make that the goal. Use and use it a lot. Think of it as the Google of conversation.  Do a Twitter search for your top keyword and see what comes up.  How you can interact with customers as a person? Don’t be robotic.

5. Speaking of which, people are emotional by nature.  Tap into that. Empathy is your biggest ally here. Don’t go for the hard sell. Be empathetic, be real and the rest will naturally come.

6. This one also made me laugh: Don’t charge 2012 rates and offer 2006 services. Get in it, get on it.

7. A lot of uncertainty surrounds Google+, embrace it today for it could be the Twitter or Facebook of tomorrow.

8. Have a fundamental understanding of why you are present in the online social space. Without the why you can’t have goals. Without goals it’s awfully difficult to be successful or at the very least measure your success.

9. Do pro bono work for segments that hold a special spot in your heart. Lorenzo chooses seniors and Vets. Yours are something that means something to you. Don’t shout about it, just do it well and the rewards, besides warming your heart will come.

10. Finally use platforms like LinkedIn and Quora to answer questions and build yourself up as a topic expert. Becoming an information resource has social proof and is so valuable to both your personal and professional branding.

Relationships take work. Nothing happens overnight and nothing of value comes without effort put into it. Open yourself to the ability to network in the online space and you open so many more opportunities to connect with people. Fostering these relationships and being easy to know in the on and offline space will open up your world. I’d love to hear about your successes in the social space both on and offline below. Comment away and thank you for reading.

New Jersey Half Marathon Song Mix Crowd Source

I have decidedly eclectic taste in music. It spans everything from classical to rap and only rejects country. I’m running the Long Branch Half Marathon part of The New Jersey Marathon this coming Sunday and my current music mix is nothing better than an annoying mess. It needs to be redone but I need and would love your help.

The songs I love to hear aren’t always the “best running songs” but ones that have a funny memory, a good story or even a good beat. Here’s a list of some of my keepers but would love your input in the comments on your favorite songs and why I should add them to the mix. Your choices will help fuel my two (hopefully a teensy bit less) hours pounding the pavement Sunday.

Battleflag – Lofidelity Allstars

Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta – Geto Boys

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – ColdPlay

Float On -Modest Mouse

Ho Hey – The Lumineers

Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced – Drop Kick Murphys

Marchin On – One Republic

Mind on the Road – Rev Run

Money Grabber – Fitz & The Tantrums

Move Along – All American Rejects

Never Win – Fischerspooner

Paper Planes – from Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack

Paradise – Coldplay

Possum Kingdom – Toadies

Promise – Eve 6

Run – Snow Patrol

The Second Coming – Juelz Santana

Shake It Out – Florence & the Machines

Song 2 – Blur

Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope

Why I Am – Dave Matthews

Earlier excellent input from the Twitter includes: @StevenDiMartino “Gonna Fly Now” and @AnthonySinagoga Foster The People “Call It What You Want” – Thank You!!

I have my bib number 17295, I’ve trained and raised money to Kick Cancer Overboard.  All that’s left to do is the tunes and finish the race in under 2 hours.

Mophie and the Power of a Great Customer Experience

I set this blog up many moons ago and have yet to write a post using it, until now.  As you may or may not know, I am a big fan of the Twitter and now I’m a huge fan of Mophie as a company. I’ll tell you why but here’s a  little background first.

I started using Twitter as a rabid New York Mets fan wanting more; the most up to date information about my favorite team. In 2009 I moved to New Jersey knowing no one. Twitter has been an amazing networking tool personally and professionally. If you care  to read my random ramblings you can follow me here. I was using Twitter from my phone before I even had a smart phone. The iPhone really hooked me into using it and I loved my 3Gs but was always a little sad I bought it a few months before the 4 was released.

I purchased an iPhone 4s the second I was able to. Yes, I set my alarm for some ridiculous hour like 3am EST on a work day. Bleary eyed awake, to be one of the first to pre-order it and (not to bash) AT&T’s site was not able to handle the traffic or they just weren’t ready.  At a more reasonable hour I was able to place my order and at the same time I ordered a new Otterbox to protect said purchase. The wait was on, two weeks to go. I love my job and my coworkers, being at work with them is fun. The day of expected arrival I told them I wouldn’t be in until it arrived since the email said I’d have to sign. I worked from home on my laptop and there’s a lot to be missed about coworkers when you’re home alone. Around 1pm I heard the rumble diesel and the UPS man arrived.In the rain, I met him on the front porch…. I didn’t have to sign anything (what?!) and I had my new phone woo hoo!

What was unwoohoo – I am a ginormous klutz and was terrified of taking the phone out of the box without a suitable case to protect it. It sat perfectly wrapped in its arrival gear on my desk at work for 5 hours. I Tweeted it, Facebooked it  and had a new phone I couldn’t use because I was too scared to break it by opening the box. Upon leaving work, I decided to visit the AT&T store in the Monmouth Mall down the road.

Now on to the real point of this post. Mophie.

What I neglected to mention earlier was that Otterbox emailed me saying my case was backordered and wouldn’t arrive for another week after the phone did. Boo.

Upon arrival at the AT&T store there was a tremendous wait and many angry people who weren’t as lucky to receive new iPhones from the UPS man in the rain. This gave me plenty of time to game plan (and feel uncomfortable amongst all of the confrontation). In addition to a case, I also needed screen protectors as any self-knowing klutz understands.

When my turn came up I gave the poor sales fellow a knowing “I know you’ve been through the ringer” look and told him what I was looking for. Knowing and explaining an Otterbox was on the way and that I already had a car charger and only one car, I asked if I could I substitute the charger for a case upgrade to the mophie juice pack air case? The answer was “Sure!  I can also take some money off of the package”.  SCORE!

I picked out a white one to compliment my new white “still in the box iPhone”. I let the sales guy take it out of the box, being clearly more qualified than I and he put it in the case. It was and is comfortable to hold and not heavy. It will definitely protect your phone. I dropped it in the driveway, as expected, the next day. No damages, none at all. There were several other people I knew who had purchased new iPhones at the same time and I told them all about how much I loved the mophie, “you can never have too much battery power, especially when you need it.”

So let’s fast forward through the boring (since I’ve probably bored you already) October to late January. There were a few more errors in iPhone placement along the way, admittedly and sadly. Mophie held up and my iPhone is as safe as it was in the box. One day a few weeks ago I needed the extra juice. It was early morning and I was afraid it would die before the alarm went off. I flicked the switch to green right after flicking snooze. The case got really hot in my hand. I flung the phone out of it so it wouldn’t get damaged. I thought, “I’m sleepy, maybe it was a dream”. I put it back in mophie and tried again. Hot. That’s it, I took iPhone out and immediately put it into the Otterbox that sat in its box since it arrived. A nice, actually wonderful device for protection but doesn’t offer the battery. I’m waiting for a hybrid by the way.

Onward through the day and into work, I casually tweeted about my mophie being broken.  Mophie pays attention and uses social media the way it should be for business and most specifically customer service.

What this says about mophie? They care.

I followed the link to their warranty site which was super easy to fill out and submit. Within minutes I had an email back from a representative, a real person named Jeremy Baumann. The same Jeremy was signed at the bottom of every email I received. A real person stayed with me through my entire customer experience with mophie. I didn’t have a need to reply or have a conversation. The idea that a real person cared (or even seemed to) about what I was going through and took expedient steps to better it was all I could ask for.

Not long after I filled out the warranty info the first email arrived explaining that they would review my claim and get back in touch with me. Less than 24 hours later I had another email confirming the case was still under warranty, included a shipping label and instructions to send my busted mophie case back. I mailed it, at no cost to me on Saturday, January 27th. Today on February 6th I have a brand new one. In between, I had emails from Jeremy stating that 1. damaged case had been received, 2.  passed warranty and 3. finally a shipping notice with tracking information.

This all being said… all I have done since receiving the tweet with the warranty information on January 26th is tell everyone who asks why I have a different case or anything about my iPhone is about how awesome my experience has been with mophie as a customer. Upon opening the package, it was a brand new case, brand new. A seal was on the box and a new charger was even in there. I was impressed to say the least.

I will always tell anyone who asks about my experience with mophie and encourage them to buy a case. Heck, I just spent two hours blogging about it. (Try and find a tweet from January 26th and see how long it takes you!) Imagine if mophie wasn’t so nice or helpful?  I could say something here. It’s my first post, who would  see it?  Or I could say nothing at all and move along to the next product.