Molded Crayons Tutorial

On with the tutorial:

  • Crayons (or broken up crayon pieces)
  • a pot with water, empty cans
  • a mixing spoon that you don’t mind tossing after
  • your molds, and wax paper (or newspaper not pictured)

Remove all the paper from the crayons, and sort into like colored piles

On with the tutorial

Toss one color into one of your cans, note that since I only had 1 black and 1 brown I just put them into the blue can. When melted it just deepens the color.

Put the can into the water and bring it to a boil. You are just using your pot like a double boiler. I usually do more than 1 can at a time, but wanted to focus on one just to show you.

Molded Crayons Tutorial

While the crayons are melting down place your wax paper down and put your mold on top. I use a cookie sheet under neath just because I tend to be very messy.

After the crayons are all melted down, just pour them into the mold, and stick it into the fridge to harden quickly. As you will notice, one of the molds is only partially filled I will just fill it with the next color, or layer it with several colors and have a really fun and funky crayon.

Molded Crayons Tutorial

Here is the 4 finished crayons, that I let set in the fridge. When they were hard, I just popped them out of the mold. It is no work at all!

So there you go!

Easy Peasy! The hardest part is removing the labels from some of the crayons. Some slide right off, but some are more work. I had my 2 year old and 4 year old boys help me to take the papers off and we made fairly quick work of it.

BEN HARPER, THE BAY, AND THE IMPRINT OF BROWNIE’S BLUES

“I’ve been coming to Oakland for years. I used to come up here quite often to listen to the blues legend Brownie McGhee. We used to sit in his garage and eat candy. And talk—and talk some shit, really.”

So spoke Southern California-raised singer, songwriter, and slide guitar sorcerer Ben Harper when he last passed through The Town, playing The Fox Theater shortly after it reopened in 2009. Harper was back in the area last month, albeit in the North and South Bay, playing consecutive sold-out solo concerts, at Weill Hall on the campus of Sonoma State University and at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

For the uninitiated, Ben Harper is a successful recording artist and touring musician who has crafted an expansive and eclectic career spanning two decades and countless genres. His music is born of and indebted to a blues-folk fusion, but runs the gamut from soul to gospel, rock to reggae, country to funk, with jazz and hip-hop principles never too far. In the late ’90s and early 2000s he quickly became a star overseas, headlining European festivals for audiences upwards of 25,000, but back home—as was the case with many black artists before him—his following was a fraction of the size. Nonetheless, his prolific creative output and his willingness to stretch out in new directions, while still staying reverent to his roots, kept his U.S. fan base strong, if smaller in stature than that of many other countries. It also hasn’t hurt that his live shows are long, raucous, spiritual affairs that foster a genuine connection with his audience, and feature the frequent special guest, dynamic covers, and incendiary reimaginings of his already vast catalogue.

BEN HARPER, THE BAY, AND THE IMPRINT OF BROWNIE’S BLUESDuring 2012’s string of solo shows on the east coast (which concluded with his first headlining gig at New York City’s Carnegie Hall), Harper thrilled followers and casual fans alike with several extended, as-yet-unreleased lap slide guitar compositions, a couple ukulele adaptations of old classics, and the premier of a medley of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man and Pearl Jam’s Indifference on the vibraphone. The following year’s west-coast version of the tour (featuring a stop at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco) peaked when Memphis-reared, Chicago-fortified blues harmonica king Charlie Musselwhite joined him on stage to play a few scorching cuts from their new collaborative record.

Suffice it to say, as concertgoers entered the recently built Weill Hall—a gorgeous building modeled after the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home at Tanglewood , featuring a wall that opens up onto a landscaped lawn—the air was abuzz. With the crowd welcoming him in rousing applause, Harper took his seat below a replica marquee of his family’s famed music store and launched into a brand new, Delta blues dirge entitled Call It What It Is (Murder), in which he decried the recent police killings of unarmed black men, invoking the names and stolen lives of Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, and Michael Brown. Over a brooding slide riff that deftly conjured the slave songs of the American South, Harper intoned bleakly and deliberately: “They shot him in the back / ’Cause it’s a crime to be black / So don’t act surprised / When it gets vandalized / Call it what it is / Call it what it is / Call it what it is / Murder!” The tune not only summoned up images of the ongoing protests in Fergusson, Missouri, but also called to mind past instances in which Harper’s music similarly denounced flagrant purveyors of racist violence, be it the LAPD in the time of Rodney King or the Bush administration during and after Katrina.

After that tone-setting opener, which it’s safe to say floored quite a few, Harper moved into more familiar terrain, playing decade-old crowd-pleasers Better Way and Diamonds On The Inside, the former performed with a looped tabla sample and his signature teardrop-shaped Weissenborn—a fretless, hollow-bodied lap slide guitar built largely of Hawaiian Koa wood back in the 1910s and ’20s. He then dipped back even further, giving renewed life to songs such as Please Me Like You Want To and Excuse Me Mr., both from his second album, 1995’s Fight For Your Mind. His poignant lyrics were sung in the understated hushed tones he grew known for over his first few years as a touring artist as well as in the more far-reaching falsetto he sharpened after getting a few albums under his belt. His ability to intimately grapple with his past, oppression, love lost, and self-conception, kept his audience enraptured.

But it wasn’t all stark and solemn. Harper frequently joked with the crowd between songs, poking particular fun at his status as an anomaly in the music business, mostly on the basis of his non-linear body of work. He mentioned that Pharrell had called and asked for his hat back, then put things in their proper historical context: “In all fairness, I’ve been wearing Borsalinos since…” After playing an unadorned version of With My Own Two Hands, a song celebrating individual people’s capacity to effect change, which first appeared on record as a more elaborate roots reggae number, he mentioned the flak he gets about it from “pessimists.” And without missing a beat: “They can kiss my ass every day—morning, noon, and night! I wouldn’t sing it if I didn’t believe it.”

Harper proved slightly less talkative the following evening, performing at Mountain Winery’s stunning outdoor amphitheater in Saratoga shortly after the sun went down. He opened the gathering with four songs he hadn’t included the night before, among them the infrequently played By My Side and There Will Be A Light, evidence of his commitment to keeping each concert a fresh experience. And while the set ambled about a bit less cohesively than that from the Sonoma State gig, it benefited not only from the surreal, serene environs of a castle-resembling venue on a South Bay mountaintop at summer’s end, but also from the guest appearance of Harper’s mother. She came out, as she had the night prior, to play a few of the new tracks from their parent-child project Childhood Home. The song Farmer’s Daughter seemed to spark the audience’s greatest emotion, with its tale of modern agricultural exploitation backed by banjo and Dobro: “We can’t plant /And we can’t grow / We can’t reap / And we can’t sow / Don’t own the seed / Can’t plant our rows / It all belongs to Monsanto”).

A further highlight was Harper’s crowd-thrilling cover of Prince’s Purple Rain, sung with minimalist, at times percussive-style playing of the Weissenborn, and segued into unexpectedly from another rarity of his early recording career, the somber Give A Man A Home.

Harper also praised The Bay at length, comparing Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz to France, where he saw his quickest, and arguably greatest, popularity as an artist. He named Northern California “a home for the music I make” and “the first place that spoke English” to accept him, allowing the belief that “America might just understand what I’m doing.” This love affair with The Bay has been well-documented, as he’s often discussed the area’s support, and reminisced on early, decisive experiences here, be it during well-over-capacity shows at The Warfield in San Francisco, historic gigs at The Greek in Berkeley with guests like Santana and Maceo Parker sitting in, or an unforgettably elegant couple of nights at The Paramount in Oakland.

As I drove back up the 880 to The Town beneath a glowing half-moon, my mind wandered towards Harper’s 2009 mention of his tutelage under the aforementioned bluesman Brownie McGhee 20 years ago. What sorts of candy did the two of them crunch on? What kind of shit did they talk? And could the aging McGhee, a towering figure of Appalachian music turned Oakland transplant and local hero, have ever imagined his then-unknown pupil building on the history lessons imparted in that garage to carve out a genre-defying niche just as he himself had years earlier?

BEN HARPER, THE BAY, AND THE IMPRINT OF BROWNIE’S BLUESFor fans of Ben Harper, his formative experiences learning at the feet of blues and roots greats is the stuff of legend. Taj Mahal, a frequent visitor to The Folk Music Center in Claremont, California, founded by Harper’s maternal grandparents in the 1950s and kept in the family ever since, gave him his first touring gig in 1993. That same year, John Lee Hooker got hold of a promo copy of Harper’s first full-length album, Welcome To The Cruel World, and invited the newbie to fill an opening act slot for a handful of shows he was playing at The Sweetwater Saloon in Mill Valley. It’s there that the two laid the foundation for a mentor-mentee relationship that would last the remaining decade of Hooker’s life. It’s also where Harper first met Musselwhite, with whom he would collaborate on a long-discussed, generations-bridging album a decade-and-a-half down the line (last year’s Get Up!, released on the renowned Stax label, which nabbed the Grammy for best blues record of 2013).

All the same, Harper’s mention of an informal apprenticeship with Brownie McGhee—who’s credited with exposing the finger-picking Piedmont blues guitar style of the Carolinas to an international audience during the form’s 1960s revival—was a biographical nugget about which even the most ardent of Harper fans were likely unaware. McGhee moved to Oakland in 1974, living in what he called “The House That Blues Built,” at 43rd and MLK, which garnered official landmark status from the city shortly after his passing in the mid ’90s, and which some sources actually suggest McGhee constructed himself.

While McGhee was most celebrated for championing a highly syncopated acoustic guitar aesthetic that predated the Chicago electric blues boom, he also experimented broadly with his sound, cutting a number of R&B-sowing “jump” records with “his Jook House Rockers” in the late 1940s and ’50s, which prominently featured up-tempo piano and saxophone playing. And while “East Coast Piedmont blues is decidedly an African American art form”—to quote a research project at UNC Ashville influenced by Samuel Charters’ 1977 text Sweet As The Showers Of The Rain—an amalgamation of influence is undeniable, including “ragtime, country string bands, [and] traveling medicine shows … blend[ing] both black and white, rural and urban elements.” This willingness and ability to traverse styles no doubt influenced Harper as he studied with McGhee in that old North Oakland garage.

It speaks, as so many stories do, to The Town’s, and The Bay Area’s, significant, if consistently under-recognized, role in the lives and careers of some of the nation’s most intriguing musicians. As if on cue, a few weeks after the Sonoma and Saratoga shows, Harper officially announced he’d be reconvening his band of 15 years, The Innocent Criminals, following a half-decade hiatus, and kicking things off with a four-night run at The Fillmore next March. Why? Harper said, “It felt like the right place for us to set sail.”

The Zero Moment Of Truth And Why Marketers Must Win It

There’s a fascinating just-released e-book called Winning The Zero Moment Of Truth. Written by Jim Lecinski, Google’s Managing Director of US Sales & Service and Chief ZMOT Evangelist, the book speaks to the “moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world”… at least according to Google.The Zero Moment Of Truth And Why Marketers Must Win It

Now truth be told, the Zero Moment of Truth has a lot to do with the time one searches on the Internet for a given product, service, ware, etc BEFORE making a purchase. And what browser do most people use when making said search? Google. So what ad-words, keywords, etc should marketers purchase and/or patronize? Google’s.

But be that as it may the book does reveal some very interesting insights re: the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT.

First, however, it’s important to go back in time just a tad to 2005. That’s when the Wall Street Journal ran a story that focused on the critical importance of the seven seconds after a shopper first encounters a store shelf full of various groceries, toiletries, whatever. Procter & Gamble called that moment the First Moment of Truth, or FMOT. P&G placed so much emphasis on this, they created a brand new position called the Director of FMOT.

And in a book published that same year, the CEO of Procter & Gamble astutely noted:

“The best brands consistently win two moments of truth. The first moment occurs at the store shelf, when a consumer decides whether to buy one brand or another. The second occurs at home, when she uses the brand — and is delighted, or isn’t.”

Back when the CEO wrote this the model looked like this:

Stimulus. Dad is watching a football game and sees an ad for digital cameras. He thinks, “That looks good.”

The Zero Moment Of Truth And Why Marketers Must Win ItShelf. He goes to his favorite electronics store, where he sees a terrific stand- up display for that same digital camera. The packaging is great. A young sales guy answers all his questions. He buys the camera.

Experience. Dad gets home and the camera records beautiful pictures of his kids, just as advertised. A happy ending.

Now of course times have changed… dramatically. Now after the Stimulus comes the Search where good old Dad pulls out his laptop or smartphone or tablet and searches his little heart out trying to find all he can about digital cameras. He goes on Twitter and Facebook and asks friends and anyone else for recommendations re: digital cameras.

So now the model looks like this:

How prevalent is the ZMOT?

Consider…

The Zero Moment Of Truth And Why Marketers Must Win ItIn a study commissioned by Google, Shopper Sciences surveyed 5,000 shoppers and asked them how many sources of information do they use before making a decision? The survey revealed that the average shopper uses 10.4 sources of information, ranging from TV commercials and magazine articles, to recommendations from friends and family, to websites, ratings to blogs.

The 10.4 number is very signficant when considering just a year earlier the average shopper used only 5.3 sources of information to make a decision.

What this means is consumers, shoppers, people have a plethora of information sources at their disposal and they are using them.

70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase
79% of consumers now say they use a smart- phone to help with shopping
83% of moms say they do online research after seeing TV commercials for products that interest them

There is a whole lot more to glean and learn from Winning The Zero Moment Of Truth and I recommend you take the time to peruse it for sure.

I want to leave you with a quote from the e-book from Matt Moog Founder and CEO ViewPoints Network:

“We’re about to see a merging of all the moments of truth. You’ll be looking at a product on the shelf and using your cell phone to find information and read reviews and then maybe you decide it’s really cool, so you ‘like’ it for your friends, all within a minute. A consumer journey that once covered days, weeks or months just happened in a matter of seconds.”

Spicy Review – Tabasco Original Red

Living in a household full of testosterone most of my meals must satisfy cravings and taste buds of three hungry men.

Two of them live for spicy food and the youngest one is getting trained so one of the main staples in our pantry is ALWAYS TABASCO® Original Red
Few years ago I used to buy Tabasco Original Red in a regular bottle, but as the boys were growing up and developing love for spicy food our small bottle was replaced by the biggest size we can possibly buy.Spicy Review – Tabasco Original Red

Honestly, crises in our house mean that we are out of Tabasco sauce.

My family puts Tabasco Original red on pretty much everything. They put it in their soup especially my homemade chicken noodle . They put it their chili and stews. On top of burgers and even eggs.

Recently they started putting it on their pepperoni pizza and spicy tacos (as if that needs more heat).

I am not a big spicy food eater, but I do love a little kick on my plate now and then.

I tried many hot sauces over the years. Each of them adds a certain flavor to the food, but Tabasco Original Red does not. It enhances flavor of your food without adding additional flavor. It’s almost like it gives a little shock or a wake up call to your taste buds so you can truly enjoy your meal.

Super Bowl is right around the corner and I imagine my living room will be filled with screaming men and boys devouring lots of spicy food. The guest of honor will be Tabasco Original Red sauce and they will be putting in on everything.

Of course I will be in charge of the refreshments so this year I decided to get some ideas from Tabasco Game-Day Party Menu

If you are looking for a great ideas and recipes to spice up your Super Bowl party check them out.

Spicy Review – Tabasco Original RedWhile you are browsing their page why not check out Pizza Perfected and see how simple hot sauce can liven up your ordinary pizza

I am off to buy another jumbo bottle of Tabasco Original Red to prevent crises in my house, but before I go…

Did You Know?

Original Red was the first sauce introduced by the McIlhenny family back in 1868 and continues to be their most popular sauce of 6 total sauces?

TABASCO® Original Red is made of simple combination of salt, red pepper, and vinegar and is perfected in a 3-year aging process that produces a hot sauce with the uncanny ability to bring the most out of your food?

More Marketers Using Social Media As A Marketing Tool

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 59% of American Internet users say they use at least one (1) social networking site (SNS). And apparently marketers are taking note as more and more companies, both here and abroad, are using social media to acquire new customers.

marketing

Everyone knows social media with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube leading the way, have become a part of our lives, for better or worse. I surely don’t need to start throwing numbers around. You know the facts, you’ve seen the numbers, you’ve heard the buzz… social media is here to stay and marketers are taking notice… as you will see from the chart below

As per the article in e Marketer… A survey conducted by Regus, an office services firm, revealed that on average 47% of businesses worldwide successfully used social networks for customer acquisition in 2011, which was an average increase of 17.5% over 2010. In the US, the increase was even greater as businesses saw an increase of nearly 23% over 2010.

The other interesting finding that came out of the survey was the fact that in developed countries/markets such as the US, China, Japan and the UK, social networking sites had a significant impact on customer acquisitions as companies that used SNS saw an increase in revenue over the previous year when compared to those companies that did NOT utilize social media marketing.

Of course it all comes down to what a given company/advertiser wants out of social media marketing.

Do they just want a presence?

Do they also want to use it as a revenue-generating tool?

What are the goals of the company when it comes to social media marketing?

As I’ve said a thousand times, and will keep saying until I die, social media marketing when used in conjunction with other marketing/advertising mediums can be a very effective tool. However it cannot nor ever will be the panacea that cures all your marketing ails all by itself.

Obama Snubs Iraqi Prime Minister at G7, ISIS Then Taunts

At the recent G7 summit President Obama publicly snubbed the Iraqi prime minister as he leaned over to try and speak with him:

Obama Snubs Iraqi Prime Minister at G7, ISIS Then Taunts

Not long after, the terrorist group ISIS mocked:

ISIS snub iraqi leader

ISIS snub 2

Obama Snubs Iraqi Prime Minister at G7, ISIS Then TauntsISIS recently took over the Iraqi town of Ramadi as the government withdrew its forces. ISIS is not only sucking up resources, money, arms, but according the The Independent, enough radioactive material to create a dirty bomb.

What Obama, as the Commander-In-Chief, did to the Iraqi people not only sends the wrong message to our friends and enemies but also creates a dangerous situation for Americans and this nation.

Barack Obama is a disgrace.

Safety in Pool Rules

Pool rules are nothing to take lightly. They’re posted for a reason–to keep everyone safe while swimming. And everyone, in this case, means everyone. Pool safety is not just for children or weak swimmers. The rules apply to adults and experienced swimmers as well.

Warning

Significance
Pool safety is crucial to preventing accidental drownings. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3,600 people drowned in 2005. More than 25 percent were children under the age of 14.

poolComponents
Pool safety has two major components: ensuring the safety of the pool area itself and monitoring the swimmers who are using it. Protective devices such as drain covers, locked fences and powered pool covers can help, as can lifeguard certification and CPR training.

Basic Rules
Common pool rules include proper swim attire and supervision of children. Other rules forbid roughhousing and diving (other than in pools designed specifically for diving.) Public pools commonly forbid the use of alcohol and the presence of glass containers near the pool area.

poolConsiderations
Much pool safety focuses on children, but it is important for adults as well. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, younger people in general have better self-reported swimming ability than older people.

Warning
Strong swimmers are safer in a pool, but no one should ever swim alone. Though swimming often is part of recreation and vacation, alcohol and swimming do not mix; alcohol affects balance and response time.