Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sedona climb: North Wilson Mountain #123

north wilson mountain #123
This is a challenging hike, 9 miles round trip. It starts at a different trailhead than the Wilson Mountain #10 hike, but you end up on the same mountain. I started at the Encinoso Picnic Area trailhead at 10:15 am on 4/6/2014. Since my altimeter app decided to croak, I have to rely on google search, starting elevation 4750'. Here we go, starting the climb up:
north wilson mountain hike
And up. Getting some final views of Oak Creek.
north wilson mountain hike
Entering the Red Rock Secret Moutain Wilderness. Sssh. It's a secret:

north wilson mountain hike
Hit the First Bench at 11:37:
north wilson mountain first bench
Hit the fork in the road by the big fallen tree (one of thousands) at 12:16. I went right today:
wilson mountain fork
Dead trees everywhere to hurdle on this stretch of the trail. Bad place for a vampire:
wilson mountain trees
Victory! Hit the overlook at 12:54 for views aplenty. Google said the elevation here is 6970':
wilson mountain views
wilson mountain views
 wilson mountain views
Now for a nice leisurely stroll down the mountain:
wilson mountain views
 wilson mountain views
And this guy:
Got back to my car at 3:15 pm, so the round trip time was 5 hours. I did lollygag at the top for about 20 mins. and spent another 15 mins. giving trail directions to 3 different couples. If you've ever done this hike or have any questions about it, leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dead hard drive & $300 data recovery

I've been lugging around an IDE WD 250GB hard drive that I've not been able to access for about 5 years. I finally decided it was time to salvage or toss. I did a quick google search and found a place close-ish to me in Scottsdale, AZ called Secure Data Recovery Services. After a few emails back and forth, the estimate was $500-$1800, not including the price of a new drive to transfer to, which was $79.


Back to google, there's a Staples in Sedona, so I stopped in to see what they could do. Rates on the site were $249. The tech plugged in my drive and placed his ear on it, could not hear anything (that's the diagnosis process? was he the hard drive listener?). He proclaimed it dead and said he can send it off to the data recovery center and the price would be $999, not including the price of a new drive for transferred data.


Back to google, found a place called $300 data recovery. Checked the online (just Google & Facebook) reviews, looked good, so I filled out a ticket on 4/2 and shipped my drive to Studio City, CA on 4/3 with the understanding that if they cannot recover the data, there is no charge.

They received my drive on Saturday, 4/5 and sent me a ticket with the policies and expectations, if they can retrieve the data, the charge will be $300 and they will move the data to a 500GB portable backup drive I'm buying for $89.99. Sounds good.

On Monday, 4/7, they emailed me an update saying they can recover the data, they are doing it now and transferring it to my new portable backup drive. And would I like to review this list of recovered files they have so kindly attached to this email? You bet I would.

I scanned the list and actually got tears in my eyes as I saw they recovered some pictures of my dad who has been gone for 13 years. And baby pictures of my nieces and nephew. And my sisters graduation pictures and my other sisters and my brothers wedding pictures and so much more. So when they sent me a bill for $399 for the service & the drive, I paid it immediately and felt like that was the best money I have ever spent on anything.

Today, on 4/10/2014, only 7 days after I shipped them the drive, I am looking at all the recovered pictures and files on my new Seagate 500GB portable drive. I am absolutely astonished by the speed and professionalism that I've encountered during this entire experience. All my data, pictures, videos, music, backups, is all there.

Lessons learned:

1. Reliably back up your data. I will use the new hard drive I just bought for backup, but will look at cloud options too. The problem with the 1st drive was when the external power supply failed, I had no way to get the data off the drive quickly, so I put it off.

2. If you ever do need data recovered, immediately go to:

hard drive data recovery


Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm never vacuuming again. Thanks Neato!

neato vacuum
I recently got tired of vacuuming. I thought to myself "is there some kind of service or machine that can do this for me?". So I went to the most logical place to find anything, Amazon. I searched for robot vacuum and was directed to this page:

Hmmm, $353.57. Well, it would save me time (cha-ching) and save me from hiring a cleaning company (cha-ching), so really that price was not all that bad. An hour reading reviews and 1-click later and the Neato was on its way to me (CHA-CHING).

A few days later (love you Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping), unboxed my new toy and charged it up for 24 hours.

So for the first run they recommend you follow it around and remove obstacles, cords or anything that could jam up any normal vacuum. I hit the big orange clean button twice and followed it around like an amazed acolyte, clearing obstacles and marveling at something other than me doing the vacuuming in my house.

It is a vacuum cleaner, so it is as loud as a vacuum cleaner. No problem for me as I now run it before I leave the house. The first time I emptied the bin and cleaned, I almost choked/sneezed/puked at the amount of dust and debris it picked up. I immediately ran it again, same result. The poor little thing needed to charge up another 24 hours before running it again. Which I did, much less debris, thankfully. I was shocked at how dusty my house is. No wonder my eyes itch so bad sometimes.

Went back to Amazon and bought a couple more filters in case I break the one I received.

About the filter, the instructions say to tap away the dust then if you need to, vacuum it out. To avoid having to use another vacuum (kinda defeats the purpose of the Neato), I just keep an old toothbrush by my trash can and brush out the dust from the filter. Since I bought some extra filters, every week I'll pop one into the dishwasher and rotate them weekly. And it's very polite, asking nicely to replace the dust bin when you take it out for cleaning:

neato polite
I must say this unit does a great job of cleaning the house. It gets under the bed and couch, around the corners, all the edges. I have tiles floors and carpet and it cleans both. I like it so much I've gave away my big clunky vacuum. I bought a small, cordless vacuum for baseboards, corners and the car, so if I need a handheld crevice or brush tool, I have it.

I've taken to running it daily. And am still surprised by how much dust is picked up. Seriously, who knew. I can say my eyes don't itch as much and less sneezing.

So, if you are wondering whether or not to buy this, DO IT! It will save you time, which is our most valuable asset, and free it up to do the things you really want to do. Which for me, means more hiking and exploring.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

*CLOSED* Spring Blue Electric Tart & Oil Warmer Giveaway! Ends 4/6


I'm giving away a Spring Blue Electric Tart & Oil Warmer with a Soy Bar set! Just enter your info in the rafflecopter entry form below and you can enter 5 ways, follow me on Twitter, like the Somethin' Special Facebook page, comment on this blog post, tweet about the giveaway or subscribe to my mailing list. Or do all 5! Just log into the entry form using your Facebook login or simply enter your name and email address to choose your entry options.

*NOTE* If you do post a comment, it won't show up right away, I need to approve them first, so please only post it once!!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sedona climb: Wilson Mountain #10 launch from Midgley Bridge

wilson mountain trail sedona
This is a challenging hike, 10 miles round trip, elevation gain of 2431'. Which naturally makes it one of my favorites. I started at the trailhead right by Midgley Bridge at 10:00 am on 3/15/2014. Beginning elevation 4439'.
wilson mountain trail sedona
 Doesn't look that far, does it?
wilson mountain trail sedona
Gorgeous views on the way up.
wilson mountain trail sedona
Hit the first bench at 11:40 am, elevation 6172'.
wilson mountain bench
Love getting my first views of the San Francisco Peaks. And my energy boosting Cliff Shot Bloks, a must for replenishing all those lost electrolytes.
san francisco peaks
A few trail hurdles upon reaching the top.
wilson mountain trail
The trail goes left to the Sedona overlook or right to the Wilson Canyon overlook (did that last time), going left. Hit it at 12:19 pm, elevation 6850'.
wilson mountain overlook
Was pretty much alone today, passed a couple hiking up, but haven't seen anyone else. Felt like queen of the mountain.
wilson mountain trail
Coming up to the Sedona overlook at 12:35 pm, elevation 6870'. Success!
wilson mountain overlook sedona
Now my reward, beautiful views forever.
wilson mountain overlook sedona

wilson mountain overlook sedona
Got back to my car at 2:37 pm, so the round trip time was 4 hours and 37 minutes. If you've ever done this hike or have any questions about it, leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

wilson mountain overlook sedona

wilson mountain overlook sedona

san francisco peaks

Friday, March 14, 2014

Facebook Likes Experiment

I got it into my head that I wanted 10,000 Facebook likes. I envisioned being the queen of Facebook marketing with social klout in all things bath and body.

So I got to work. I do what I do, which is look around for people who are doing it well and get their advice.

Just a quick back track to why I focused on Facebook. After running last years Google Analytics number, I found Facebook to be my #3 referrer after google organic and direct entry. So focusing on increasing that number seemed to be the next logical step.

First I went to Facebook Ads Manager and Facebook asked me if I would like to run a campaign to get more likes (well, they've been asking for years) and I finally said yes please, I certainly would. I'm ready. Dazzle me with your can't miss, killer likes campaign and I will give you money.

facebook likes ad
Here's what they suggested I use, so I did a sponsored story, desktop newsfeed, desktop right hand side and mobile. I chose parameters based on age, likes, etc. Here's the results screen shots:

facebook likes campaign 1

I ran it on a Sunday & Monday (don't know why, just had the time), spent $16.42 to get 52 likes. So I paid .32 cents per like. Is that a good price? Is it worth it? I have absolutely no idea. But I do know to get to 10,000 likes, I need about 7,600 more, so that will cost me $2432. Yikes.

So onward. I listened to this Ryan Skelly podcast courtesy of Micheal O'Neal at

Decided I did in fact want to become a Facebook Ninja instead of a Facebook social klout queen, so I joined the Area 51 Facebook Marketing Group:
Was sent this video:

Took notes, started watching right side ads to get ideas for graphics and text. If something looked interesting, I'd use the snipping tool to capture the image and study it.
facebook right side ads
Then I created 4 ads to split test (felt like a fancy marketing ninja just typing that), all right hand side ads. I made sure they all had borders and chose my parameters. I chose to run it right before a big sale I had planned, started 2/28, ended 3/6:
facebook likes campaign 2
Lo and behold little girl holding nose outperformed all the others, much to my surprise. Thanks little girl. So a couple days into the campaign, I did some further tweaking, I suspended the low performing ads, kept the little girl, added Canada and few "stock" photo ads that Facebook kindly offered me for free. And I played with different border colors for the little girl:
facebook likes campaign 3
Little girl rocks it again! So when this second campaign ended, I spent $90.79 for 251 likes. That would be .36 cents per like.

So what does this mean? How can I tell if it's a success or not? That depends on my goals, do I want higher sales? Yes, that would be nice. How do I measure it?

For the sale before this one, I received 22 Facebook referrals. For the sale post-Facebook likes campaign, I received 42 Facebook referrals. And the sales totals were 30% higher than the last sale. So I spent $107.21 for both Facebook campaigns and got an additional $501.49 in sales. Everything else pretty much remained the same as far as emails sent via iContact, Tweets and Facebook posts.

So moving forward, it looks like Facebook likes do directly increase my sales numbers, for now. I will continue to run likes campaigns and monitor, test and tweak.

I hope sharing this process with everyone will help you figure out how to use Facebook in your marketing mix. If you have any questions, suggestions, tips, please comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

Facebook Marketing Ninja-in-training, I'm thinking maybe a soft, taupe colored belt for now

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Epson Workforce WP-4020 wireless color inkjet printer review

My little workhorse, my Epson Workforce 30 was getting ready to give it up. It had served me well for years, so it was time to shop for a new printer.

After much research, I chose the Epson WorkForce WF-7010 from Best Buy. Ordered it up on-line and UPS showed up with a HUGE box. Wow, it's big. I fired it up, installed the ink, added some paper and nothing. It wouldn't recognize the paper as loaded, so it wouldn't test print. I reloaded the paper in all the trays, then just one at a time, no good.

Emailed Epson, got the general walk through that the manual gave me, still no luck (yes, I actually read the manuals). Called Epson, same story, no help whatsoever, no reason why it's doing this, they said return it to Best Buy. Called Best Buy to see if they could help, nope, just bring it in. Boxed up this monster, loaded it in my car and drove to Flagstaff to return it, in a torrential downpour. Aggravating.

Back to square one.

This time went to Amazon, shopped around, researched, and picked up the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4020 Wireless Color Inkjet Printer with the SquareTrade 2-year Office Protection Plan.

This is a great little printer. I've had it since September and never had to buy an ink cartridge and my ink levels are great as of today (2/3/2014):

epson ink levels

And I use it daily to print my product labels, so it's not a light use printer. I love that it's wireless and that it worked the first time I hooked it up and every day since. The print quality is great. No problems at all.

Another key point is the price of the ink jet cartridges. We all know from the past that the "free" printer you got with your PC purchase carries a $40 per cartridge price tag which needs to be replaced monthly. The ink for this printer is $38.49 for the black and $28.49 for each of the colors, magenta, cyan & yellow. Since it looks like I'll only need a couple per year, it's a deal and a half.

Do you own this printer or have a killer printer you just love? Tell me about in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 latest obsession...

favorite podcasts

Since I dumped my TV and got rid of the mindless daily chatter of the news channels, I've discovered a new obsession...podcasts.

It all started with Adam Carolla. His hilarious and free daily podcasts are entertaining, current and funny. He just blurts out what he's thinking and it's like listening to a smart, funny curmudgeon that's up on current events. Here's how to find him:

Adam Carolla web site
Adam Carolla Twitter
Adam Carolla Facebook
Adam Carolla iTunes

I still needed a couple more hours to occupy my mind while making up my scented goodies. So I searched around for something to educate my brain, not just entertain it. I got both with John Lee Dumas. His daily, yes, 7 days a week, podcast is loaded with business gems that has me scrambling for a pen and notepad every time I listen. Thankfully he has detailed show notes so I can always reference them if I can't jot down a resource. His interview style is very conversational and he has the top players in the entrepreneur field spilling their secrets. I see great things in store for him and anyone who listens to his daily podcast.

Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas
EOF Twitter
EOF Facebook
EOF iTunes

I always wanted to connect with other successful business owners that had a location independent life plan. Basically, people who ran a business that can be run from anywhere in the world, like myself. Although I don't live out of a suitcase, yet, I do move to a new city every year (full disclosure, just started it this year though, except for 6 months in Southern California in 2010-2011) and I love it so far. I came across Natalie Sisson founder of The Suitcase Entrepreneur and devoured her podcasts. And I just love her accent. She posts a new one every other Monday, here's the details:

Suitcase Entrepreneur with Natalie Sisson
Natalies Twitter
Natalies Facebook
Suitcase Entrepreneur on iTunes

Another gem just uncovered is the Solopreneur Hour with Michael O'Neal. His podcasts run about an hour, or over if he and his guest (aka co-host) are on a roll. His conversational style is interesting and funny and he does definitely hone in on the nuts and bolts, ups and downs, of the journeys of each of his co-hosts. I love his tag line: "Job security for the unemployable".

The Solopreneur Hour
Michaels Twitter
Michaels Facebook
The Solopreneur Hour on iTunes

And no podcast top list would be complete without Pat Flynns Smart Passive Income. I found Pat about a year ago and was dazzled by his honest, open style of teaching the every day person on how to start and grow a successful online business. There was none of the usual promises and guarantees if you'll just send over $29.95 to blah blah blah. From his daily blog to his completely transparent monthly income reports and podcasts, his site is a bona fide treasure trove of information that would make Smaug green with envy in his Lonely Mountain lair.

Smart Passive Income
Pats Twitter
Pats Facebook
Smart Passive Income on iTunes

Fun fact, 4 out of these 5 podcasters live in Southern California. If you're location independent, wouldn't you? (and yes, I'll be moving there from Sedona, AZ in June 2014)

Do you listen to these podcasts? If so, what do you like about them? If not, what podcasts do you enjoy? Please feel free to comment below, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Monday, January 20, 2014

*CLOSED* Valentines Day Giveaway! FIVE Massage oil gift set 4 packs! Ends 2/2/14

massage oil gift set

I'm giving away FIVE of the Massage oil 4 pack gift set! Just enter your info in the rafflecopter entry form below and you can enter 5 ways, follow me on Twitter, like the Somethin' Special Facebook page, comment on this blog post, tweet about the giveaway or subscribe to my mailing list. Or do all 5! Just log into the entry form using your Facebook login or simply enter your name and email address to choose your entry options.

*NOTE* If you do post a comment, it won't show up right away, I need to approve them first, so please only post it once!!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway