Saturday, October 31, 2015

Product Review

-- Product Review -- 

Did You Know?

-       Dehydration affects our moods and 
ability to withstand stress, and worsens depression.

-       94% of asthma and allergy symptoms are relieved 
by drinking a large amount of water. 

I am a big fan of stainless steel and particularly enjoy using stainless steel water bottles. These reusable bottles eliminate the need to rush out for a disposable plastic bottle of refreshment when you are experiencing thirst - saving money and reducing your impact on the Earth. This one cleans up so easily in the dishwasher, won’t stain, won’t break or crack and is, therefore, great for the environment. When Ray (the sales consultant for connected with me about this review project, I was excited to accept.

The product arrived in a 13” long and roughly 3” square white cardboard box; the round 750 ml. metal bottle is about 9” tall and a little less than 3” wide. It came with 2 different styles of tops. Upon receipt, my husband Dave commented about the information on the box re: water (see some excerpts of that in the Did You Know section above)

Dave really liked having the the logo “Enjoy Wellness” printed on the bottle, but he didn’t appreciate the bottle being printed with “Made in China”… that kind of took away from the look of the bottle and was an unpleasant reminder that the bottle was not made in North America. The company does state, however, that the manufacturer that they use is based in China, but it keeps US standards in their manufacturing practices… which is encouraging. 

Dave loved the stainless steel hoop on the bamboo screwtop cap – he thought that one (of the two caps included) was “classy” looking. The bamboo lid should be hand washed, however, and oil the bamboo occasionally to keep it looking new. The black plastic cap was quite nice too – it has a pop top and it is easy to pop open, easy to drink from, has a good flow without dripping. I thought the 25 oz. bottle was a bit long, but Dave likes it that way – he felt it would be great for cycling in particular. The bottle fits all our RV trailer and Jeep drink cup holders.

Stainless steel is corrosion free, BPA, lead and toxin free and will not transfer flavors, smells or stains from one cleaning to another. It is eco-friendly, recyclable and dishwasher safe. The bottle caps unscrew to reveal a large mouth or pouring spout that allows for inclusion of ice or thicker drinks like smoothies.

Before using, it is recommended that consumers wash the bottle and rinse well. While that is draining in the dish rack rub two or 3 drops of cooking oil onto the bamboo cap making sure to cover the edges of the bamboo – do this once per month. 

The company (based in Texas, USA) offers a none-year manufacturer’s warranty, and suggest that this bottle should last a lifetime or longer. When I visited their website, however (see above for address) I did find that the site was low quality and didn’t have much information on it. Therefore I cannot tell you more about their social or environmental responsibility, charitable actions, availability to consumers, volunteer policies and activities, in-house purchasing or "green" policies.

While this doesn’t seem to be listed on for Canadians, you can find this product on where it has a retail list price of $24.95 (US), but is currently on sale for $13.95 (US) – as of the writing of this review. 

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 


Friday, October 30, 2015

quote of the day

-- Quote of the Day -- 

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

~ John Wooden

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Effectiveness of 'Your-Call-To-Action'

 -- Effectiveness of 'Your-Call-To-Action' -- 
 * Written by Wayne Elsey - author of the book, "The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready" available on Amazon.

Recently I have been sketching out and writing my next book about effective marketing for nonprofit and social enterprise organizations. One of the elements that I think is important, but is oftentimes missed is the "call to action" (CTA). It's common best practice to have call to action buttons on your website and to engage your supporters to take some, well, action.

Once you have your website all set up and designed, it's important to remember that the work is not done. You need to see how your pages are performing. You want to know how your CTA buttons and links are working. When people visit your site, are they subscribing to your newsletter? Are they making a donation? Are they contacting you? If they're not, you have a problem and you need to tweak what you're doing because you're not engaging visitors enough to have them want to get actively involved with your nonprofit or social enterprise.

As I have been taking a look at nonprofit websites and social media pages, such as Facebook, one glaring issue I have found is CTA buttons and links essentially being lost. I am a big believer in the less is more approach on design. There seems to be a tendency to have that "Donate Now", "Join Us", or "Volunteer" surrounded by a lot of text with minimal pictures or contrast. What happens in this scenario is that the button is glossed over or lost to the eye. It doesn't stand out.

If, however, a button is clear, colorful, not surrounded and lost in the design, it is easy for someone taking a look at your site to find and click it. That's what you want.

Did you know that the most visited page of a website is the "About Us" page? As you do your analysis you will probably see that it's also true for your organization. But, there will be other pages that will outperform. When you are developing or enhancing your website, you want to make sure you have a call to action button or link on every page of your site. Again, you're looking for individuals to become actively engaged with you and convert themselves from just someone passing by to being involved. In order to increase your chances of this occurring, you need to provide them with the opportunity, on every page, to take some form of action.

Some organizations have multiple CTA's on a single page. This is actually okay, so long as you don't over do it, the buttons align to the messaging of the overall page and you have the CTA you want as your priority to stand out from the rest. So, for instance, if you have a "Donate Now" button on your page, but also a "Download Now" or a "Register Now" button, you want to differentiate the color of your donation button. You want that button to be more prominent and stand out above your other CTA's.

There was a time when websites were updated every once in a while. Those days are over. You need to be monitoring performance and see what works and what doesn't work. There's too much noise out on the Internet competing with your organization. Every other nonprofit wants your donors, and they're figuring out ways to continually engage and have supporters coming back often to their websites. So, updating your pictures, your blog and look are important. You need not update the entire site often, but you should get in the habit of changing pictures and content regularly. With that, A/B test your CTA buttons. How are they performing on each page? How are they performing on the top of the page as opposed to the middle? How are they performing using one color or text versus another? Use what is working best for your CTAs and improve the under performers.

Finally, one of the most important things you need to remember is that you always have to think about your audience. What information and calls to action would they like to see and share? In the work I do, I am always reminding my team about "people first". For nonprofits, you want to think about what your donors and activists want to see, read and share and need. You want to be in their shoes when you are creating CTAs that will prompt them to get involved and participate. Only with this in mind can you create effective calls to action that will actually convert visitors.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

book review

-- Product Review -- 

While I rarely do book reviews anymore (I was a professional book reviewer for 7-8 years, reviewing an average of 500 books a year in many genres from young children to novels and non-fiction), I could not resist MX Publishing’s invitation to review 5 different books in the Sherlock Holmes genre.

I received:

Sherlock Homes – Tangled Skeins; Stories From The Notebooks

Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman

No Better Place: Arthur Conan Doyle, Windlesham and Communication with the Other Side

The Final Problem – A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel

These books were delivered to my doorstep August 11th or so in an appropriate sized cardboard shipping box, with no additional or unnecessary packaging -which is great for the environment.

I have been reviewing each book separately and have hyperlinked the titles of the books I’ve already completed in the list above. The last book I will review in this list is: Sherlock Homes And The Sword of Osman written by Tim Symonds.


This novel has Sherlock and John traveling abroad to represent the crown’s interest by wooing, protecting and detecting for someone they don’t particularly like. While the theme of the missing royal sword and betrayal where you least expect it, the author interwove an early 19th century Ottoman Empire royalty romance that will leave some readers (like this one) shaking their heads. Yet despite all this, I found myself wanting more… the story-line seemed disjointed somehow, combined with the author’s overly descriptive writing style – it certainly left a taste of yearning that one feels with unfinished work. I’m sure other readers will salivate over the scene descriptions; this is truly only my personal opinion. That aside, I did truly enjoy the relationship Tim created between the lead characters – watching them interact, finding humor in surprising places and “hearing” John Watson’s voice in my head as he narrated the story. 

The book made me very curious about the Ottoman Empire so I looked it up online to find that there are many similarities between the historical facts and buildings, and Tim’s story. He obviously did immense research for this book and he pays tribute to some of the real people that once existed in the Notes From The Author section near the end of the book. You’ll also find a glossary of some of the lingo used in this book via the Lexicon section at the end of the book. 

The author, Tim Symonds, was born in London although he spent some of his life in Canada, the US and Africa as well. He holds a degree in Political Science and is a Fellow with the Royal Geographical Society (people considered to be achievers are awarded this honor). 

This paperback is about 230 pages, weighs roughly 12.6 oz. and measures approximately 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches. You can find it on - $14.95 (US) for the paperback and $7.69 (US) for the e-book. Alternatively visit where you can purchase the e-book for $9.99 (CDN) and the paperback book for $19.87

2 (CDN). 

The publisher - MX Publishing - is the world’s largest specialist Sherlock Holmes publisher, with over a hundred and fifty titles and eighty authors creating the latest in Sherlock Holmes fiction and non-fiction. MX Publishing also has one of the largest communities of Holmes fans on Facebook with regular contributions from dozens of authors. Interestingly, MX titles are licensed around the world including Japan, China, India, Russia, Italy, Spain, and Poland – and many of their books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. The company itself is based in London, UK. Sadly, I could not find any information about the publishing company regarding environmental responsibility, in-house purchasing, or printing policies (i.e. SFI certified paper, veggie inks, acid/bleach free paper, etc.). However they do support social causes – for instance they have a group of authors who are donating the royalties to the restoration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former home, Undershaw. The building was in terrible disrepair and was saved from destruction by the Undershaw Preservation Trust (patron Mark Gatiss; Today the building has been bought by Stepping Stones (a school for children with learning difficulties) and is being lovingly restored to its former glory. Steve Emez, MX’x Managing Director, also is very involved with charitable causes and has done many awareness campaigns via his skills with swimming. Find out more about this company via:

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quote of the day

-- Quote of the Day -- 

"Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity."

 ~ Joseph Addison

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 

Monday, October 26, 2015

social beer, saving lives

-- Social Beer -- 

 * Today's article was written by Dawn Davies, who invites anyone interested in social businesses and charitable causes to visit:

Two Fingers is a social enterprise with a twist - it's a beer brewing company who donate all of their profits to charity. The company was created in 2012, when its seven founders had a vision for a beer that contributed and benefitted mankind.

They launched their beer brewing company to help join the fight against the most common cancer for men, prostate cancer. On their website, they say that 1 in 8 men in the UK will get prostate cancer, with the cancer killing one man each hour approximately. The charity they support is called Prostate Cancer UK, which is the leading UK charity for men with prostate problems. Two Fingers helps by both promoting the cause, and by donating all profits (after they pay bills, and reinvest in the business) to the charity.

This is the first social enterprise we've come across that deals with alcohol, and is therefore definitely one of the most unusual! However, it's great coming across somewhere different to the norm, which really shows that there are many ways to help out in your local community, or for the greater good in the UK. Plus, some methods are clearly really unique!
As well as helping out by donating their profits for and raising awareness towards Prostate Cancer UK, they ensure that their beer is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans, and promote safe drinking in all of their campaigns, which is an important part of their charitable social enterprise. It can be tricky to get the balance between promoting their beer brewing social enterprise, and not promoting dangerous drinking, but Two Fingers manage to achieve this.

Two Fingers Brewing Co. have currently been supported as a social enterprise in many ways, including most recently having been awarded as the UK's most inspirational social enterprise in a competition launched by US alcohol-brand Chivas Regal whiskey. They bill themselves as a "beer that saves lives".

Do you have a passion that you could make the most of, in order to help out with a social or charitable cause? You can help out in your local community in any way, even in businesses you might not have thought of before!

What are your thoughts bout this social enterprise brewing company? Do you think the fact that all of their profits go to charity makes them a valuable social business? Also - if you had the choice, would you feel more inclined to drink a social beer, over regular choices?

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Product Review

-- Product Review -- 

The Head Master company (located in Washington, USA) has designed a luxury shower-head that offers 6 different spray selections to choose from, and has a lovely chrome finish, a swivel base and quality brass joints. The product arrived in a 4.5” square white cardboard box (recyclable) and the head was protected in a foam envelope – sadly we are not able to recycle the foam locally. 

To ensure an easy installation experience the company also included a small amount of teflon tape, a very thoughtful inclusion. Once installed (and that was really very easy to install) we fully appreciated the beautiful design, and how easy it will be to clean.

As a conscious consumer, I really appreciated the fact that this item will help with our water conservation efforts through the low-flow restrictor and high-pressure rainfall style, resulting in energy efficiency through less use of hot water (2.5 GPM flow at 80 PSI). There is apparently a removable low flow restrictor inside the shower-head but I didn’t see anywhere as to how one removes it if they don’t want it – I do however want it so that isn’t an issue for me. 

The self-cleaning silicone rubberized jets prevent mineral buildup. And it is so easy to switch from your choice of 6 adjustable flow rate (saturating – for rinsing thick hair, saturating and massage, massage, bubbling, saturating and bubbling, water saving).

This product weights about 7 ounces, and is 4.5” x 4.5” x 3.9” in size. Round shape, chrome with rubber water jets – the rubber jets don’t stick out too much like some shower-heads have and those ones are hard to clean without eventually knocking out the rubber jets. This one won’t do that.

The company offers a “limited lifetime warranty” and a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. I looked both on and on the company website for more information on these offers but could not find anything. Nor was there any information in or on the packaging the shower-head arrived in. 

The company apparently offers a little e-book with each shower-head purchase as well, but they didn’t send me that to review. has a list price of $59.99 (US) but is currently (as of the writing of this article) on sale for $24.99 (US). It is not yet available to Canadians on 

* I could not find any conscious consumer information on the website for the company - therefore I cannot tell you more about their social or environmental responsibility, charitable actions, volunteer policies and activities, in-house purchasing or "green" policies.

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Quote of the day

-- Quote of the Day -- 

"No doubt the phenomena of cloud-formation are designed primarily to water the earth; to gather together the moisture from the salt sea, and form dark, unwholesome fens; to purify them by the mysterious alchemy of the sky; to carry them onward by sweeping storm or by gentle zephyr, and let them descend gently in the mist, or steadily in the rain, which will waken sleeping seeds, and revive drooping vegetation". 

~ Alfred Rowland

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: