I’m Head Over Heels In Love…

…with my new Yonanas machine!

I’m really not the sort of person who gets passionate about appliances. I own lots of kitchen gadgets, and never before have any of them caused my heart to flutter like this. I own a Cusinart ICE 30 ice cream machine, a Braun food processor (no relation!), a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, a Pampered Chef chopping gizmo, a Vidalia Chop Wizard, and a few others. They’re all quite nice, but I’ve never felt any PASSION towards a kitchen appliance until I got this Yonanas a week ago. (I might actually really *like* the Vidalia Chop Wizard, instead of plain liking it, if the surface was big enough to chop a whole onion or tomato without quartering my veggies in advance.)

Yonanas is a ridiculous name for a product, but it’s catchy; I’ll grant them that. However, true love has never been hindered by a silly name. (Try saying ‘Romeo’ fast 10 times…)

In case you’re wondering who or what a Yonanas is, allow me to explain:

A Yononas is a small (about half the size of a blender), muscular, handsome machine that takes frozen fruits and turns them into virtual ice cream. Which means that I can *think* that I’m enjoying an extra-large bowl of ice cream, whilst the truth of the matter is that I’m consuming two bananas plus several strawberries.

The ingredients must be frozen for the Yonana to work optimally. All I need to do is peel 2 bananas (with dark spots on the skins, for maximum sweetness), and freeze them in a plastic bag. Six hours later (or the next day, or next week – when the mood strikes), I thaw those bananas for about ten minutes and insert them in the Yonanas’ chute. What emerges is pure magic: Soft, silky, luscious, creamy Yonana, which looks and tastes virtually like soft-serve ice cream, and yet is made from bananas alone.

I like to add frozen strawberries and mango chunks to my Yonana for additional variety. There are recipes for tropical ice cream, peanut butter ice cream, and many more that I intend to try out shortly.

For a truly sinful experience, I added a few squares of dark chocolate to my Yonana. It was so wickedly delicious that my very picky 10-year-old son loved it! (This is the very same child who only eats raw carrots and apples, of all the wonderful fruits and vegetables to be found on Planet Earth. He tasted a grape once, after I spent hours begging, and refuses to taste blueberries and strawberries.)

You can watch this Home Shopping Network video of the Yonanas in action here. The lady in the red sweater does seem to be madly in love with Yonanas too, so I see that I may have some competition here…

The other night, I read an interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. I am still debating whether or not to order his book. From the interview, I gather that between 92 and 97% of the foods that I eat are bad for my arteries. Adopting his nutrition guidelines would definitely be a radical change in my life, and I’m unsure if I’m willing to own a book whose presence mocks me three meals a day, day after day. For some illogical, American reason, I am more comfortable with the idea of worrying about Heart Disease when it strikes in middle-age, rather than right now when I can take the steps necessary to fend off this killer of 1/3 of the American population.

While I click to add the book to my Amazon order, and then click to delete it from my cart, over and over again, I know that regardless of whether I make big changes in my diet or not, Yonanas are definitely a treat that would make Dr. Esselstyn proud. Yonanas are made of 100% pure, fresh-frozen fruits. There are no additives (assuming I leave out the chocolate most of the time!), no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no oils, and no artificial colors or flavors.

For under $50 (current Amazon price, subject to change at any time), plus the cost of fresh produce, I can enjoy heavenly healthy ice cream at any time! To me, that has got to be the most exciting news in the food industry since sliced bread. Trust me, I’m a bread making girl. And when you have to slice your own bread, the crumbs abound – so sliced bread truly was a wonderful invention. And Yonanas top that!

One more exciting tip: I put some Yonana into ice pop molds, so that I could grab a treat on-the-go! Although making a Yonana from scratch takes just about 2 minutes, sometimes there are no extra minutes to spare. Bonus: My kids will eat Yonana ice pops, even the one child who refused to taste the Yonana in its glorious soft-serve texture! What could be better than giving my children nature’s healthy goodness in Yonana-frozen form?

Did I mention that the Yonanas machine is super easy to clean, and simple to operate? And it doesn’t snore or hog the blanket – ever. See for yourself here.

I was actually shocked when my very intelligent friend Abby (not her real name) told me, “Ellen, I went to your site but I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to do!”

Yikes! Perhaps I haven’t made it clear enough, so allow me to simplify the purpose of HelpEllen.com:

Before you do your shopping, visit HelpEllen.com. Then click through to Amazon.com or any other merchant and do your Internet shopping.

That’s all!

Let me know if you have any further questions!

Case Study Update June 20, 2012

Firstly, another site that I am building using this exact same process (URL to be revealed in a few weeks!) is starting to get exponential traffic growth from Google! So, that’s an exciting thing to watch happen to a brand new website!

What have I done for this Case Study Site?

Yesterday I ordered an $18 package of backlinks to point at the home page. I bought the Bronze+ package for $90, which allows me to use it for 5 different pages. I used the other 4 packages for older pages on other sites, and one package (worth $18) on this Case Study site.  I chose this package over many others in the classified section of TrafficPlanet.com because Cedric demonstrated good customer service skills throughout his thread.

It will take 15-20 days for all these links to be built, and in the interim I plan to add more content to the site and polish up the existing content.

I also sent back a list of small revisions to LogoNerds, because I needed some changes made to the character mascot for this site. The mascot is absolutely adorable, and I believe that it will lend its charm and likeability to the site’s visitors.

Traffic thus far: 0
Income thus far: $0

June 21st Update:

Today I started editing one of the reviews that I had outsourced.  I see that this is going to take me quite a while.  Now that I’m delving into all the features and buttons and levers this product has, I think I probably should have written the reviews myself.  It’s going to take me a few hours to understand all of this well enough to coherently edit this article.  On the other hand, my writer did explain the product very well.   However, I have a very different style (she is more clinical, and I’m more friendly), so I need to practically re-write every sentence!

The good news is that editing these reviews will put me in a better position to write more product reviews for this category of products, as well as informational articles about this niche.

I also spent some time on istockphoto.com hunting down the perfect image to be used as the background.  I think I found it; I just have to sleep on it to make sure that I still like it in the morning!

My belief is that a websites “look and feel” is very important to keeping visitors on your page, and building trust with those visitors.  My aim with this site is to create a warm, professional place where people can feel at home and trust what’s written on this site.

One of the most common questions that new affiliate marketers ask me is, “Would you please show me a few examples of affiliate sites?”

Many affiliate marketers protect their niches with the same zeal as their social security number. I don’t mind sharing some of my affiliate sites, as long as I’m certain that the site cannot be cloned and passed off as the original. I can that once I have a substantial amount of steady traffic to the site from Google. Therefore, I won’t reveal the niche or URL toady; you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks until I feel confident enough in my new site to do that. However, I’ll reveal everything else in this case study.

At the beginning of June, I did some keyword research about this niche using the Google Keyword Tool. Although I own Market Samurai, it crashed several months ago, and I haven’t yet gotten around to downloading their new version! I spent about an hour with Google’s keyword tool and googling several keywords, after which I decided that this is a niche worth pursuing.

On June 6th, I bought a domain name from GoDaddy and hosting from Hostgator.

I hired a writer I met on a forum to write reviews of the five most popular products in this niche, plus a comparison chart that would compare all of the features on each product. She sent me the reviews, but the chart that she sent me had only one column — instead of five! I have not been able to reach her since then, and I paid her before studying the chart! Oh well, sometimes you do get burned outsourcing things. As I study these reviews further, I can see that I will need to do A LOT of editing. It looks like she got the technical aspects of the product right, but the tone is reminiscent of an instruction manual. I’ll have to divide long blocks of text into bullet points, add personality, and change the entire tone of the articles to be more friendly and less clinical.

On June 11, I ordered a logo, or rather a mascot, from logonerds.com. (Search the Warrior Forum for their coupon code to save 50%!) I am pretty happy with their work, but I still need to send them a request for a revision.

Today, June 18th, I posted all five of these review articles on a WordPress site.

I pinged each article using my ping.fm account.

Then I submitted the URL of each of the five posts, plus the home page, to SocialADR, where I have a $15/month account to submit links that will be bookmarked on social bookmarking sites.

Now, I’m going to figure out precisely what kind of changes I want done to my logo, and send Logo Nerds detailed instructions so that we don’t go back and forth with a zillion revisions.

The other thing I intend to do tonight is install a few basic plugins such as Akismet, Google sitemaps, and a handful of others. Then I need to clean up the header, footer, and sidebar from the default manner in which they are currently displayed.

Traffic, as of today: None.

baby socks

I’m EXTRAORDINARILY grateful to many people. These are people who have a thoughtful spirit, a kind heart, and a magnanimous character. Genuinely selfless people who benevolently remember to click over to HelpEllen.com whenever they need to purchase an item on Amazon.com. Amazon sells products like granola bars, engagement rings, ice cream maker machines, auto accessories, and so much more!

There is no way that I can know who these people are, so I’ll just identify a few of them based on their purchases:

Thank you to the purchaser of these adorable bumblebee baby socks.

Thank you to the purchaser of this outrageously fun water slide!

Thank you to the purchaser of this gel mousepad with wrist rest and nonskid base.

Thank you to the purchaser of this black ink cartridge.

Thank you to the purchaser of this 6″ Kindle e-Reader with E Ink Display.

Thank you to the HUNDREDS of other purchasers, too numerous to mention!

I’m grateful to all of you for your consideration in clicking to Amazon from HelpEllen – THANK YOU!

$400 of Educational Products for Just $17!

How would you like to get over $400 of educational materials for just $17?  If you act fast, you can!

As we gear up for the 2012 Online Parenting Retreat in July (look out for details soon!), I’m clearing through my digital archives, and announcing the biggest sale ever!

One day only:  Expires 6/6/12  (Yes, that’s 1.5 days if you’re counting:) )

I’ve bundled my most popular digital products together and am selling them for an ultra-low price. (You won’t believe this deal!)
With this bundle you get…

1. Animal School video (English and Spanish versions): Great for staff development days, open house, PTA meetings and more.

2. Animal School workshop presentation guide: Present the Animal School video & lesson to your staff, parents and co-workers.

3. Peer Pressure eBook: Get the lowdown on peer pressure and how to help your child manage it in a positive way.

4. Creating Hours eBook and Audio Book: Create more time in your day without making major changes. Tips book gives you more hours every day.

5. From Awkward Solitude To Blessed Friendship eBook: Learn how to empower your child to overcome social challenges so they can make friends and improve their social skills.

6. Parenting Retreat: 30 hours of practical parenting advice, training and more from expert coaches, counselors and educators from our 2010 Online Parenting Retreat.

7. Connection Parenting Workshop: Audio – over five hours of practical tips from Ellen Braun’s 2010 workshop to improve your emotional connection with your child – at every age and stage.

8. Educational Wisdom Movie: Breathtaking educational images and famous quotes about the wisdom of education, this movie is perfect for conferences, waiting rooms, PTA’s, and more.

9. What a Teacher Makes Movie: An insightful story about the awesome power a teacher has to touch young lives. A lovely story presentation for teachers and school staff. Plus a ‘Talking Points’ worksheet accompaniment.

Everything is downloadable – no shipping required – so you get it all instantly!

To buy all of this separately, it would cost you over $400 but for ONE WEEK ONLY, I’m giving it to you for $17! No need to rub your eyes or clean your monitor screen, you read that right.

From now through June 6, 2012, you can buy this entire package for $17 by clicking the link below.

http://bit.ly/hJR1Vd

While I’m rebuilding my office, you can be using these resources to help yourself, your classroom, your staff and others raise happy, healthy, responsible children.

Here’s that buy link again.

http://bit.ly/hJR1Vd

To raising emotionally healthy children!

Ellen

Everyone around me seems to be thrilled that it’s summertime!

Is there anyone else on this planet who prefers the winter season over summer?

Summer is really nice, and I appreciate the great outdoors and nice weather…. however, I prefer the routine of the wintertime. You may think that I’m insane, so allow me to share my perspective:

I like the routine of each week’s schedule being a virtual copy of the week before. I like that I’m generally home after 7pm. I like being home in general. My home is where my heart is, and I love hanging out in my humble abode.

In this season (think, May-October), I feel like I’m always on the go. The kids have sports leagues, trips, and more. At 8pm, since it’s still light outside, I’m still doing errands. I’m forever packing and traveling – for a day trip, for a short overnight trip, for a weekend in NY, etc. It’s all wonderful, yet, I prefer the routine of the winter. Perhaps I’m just a real homebody at heart?

Maybe it’s the heat? As the temperature climbs above 80 degrees, the heat slows me down and impairs my level of productivity. In the winter, it’s easy to throw on a wool sweater or do jumping jacks in order to combat the cold weather. However, there isn’t much to do — beyond downing gallons of ice water — to cool down under the fiery sun at my son’s baseball game in a treeless field.

There’s one part of summer that I absolutely adore: Picking fruits and vegetables.

It is impossible for me to describe how much I relish harvesting bright red strawberries, climbing tall ladders to fill my bucket with scrumptious cherries, or crouching under the blazing sun to gather a crate of delicious peas! I’m anxiously awaiting our annual trip to Baughers, where we can spend the day picking our own produce — and nibbling on those luscious berries as we fill our buckets.  Aahhh… I can almost smell the fresh scent of strawberries permeating the air as I type these words!

Watching tiny seedlings grow to towering heights bursting with garden-fresh tomatoes, makes the heat and unpredictability of the summertime totally worthwhile!

There’s nothing more therapeutic than watching a tiny seed burst through the hard earth and blossom into edible fruits.

The message of bountiful crops that emerge from a microscopic seed touches my soul:  We can all grow to tremendous heights, no matter how small we may feel today.

If a 2-millimeter-sized seed in May can yield bucketfuls of delicious tomato in August, then I am capable of making a real difference in the world — even if I’ve hardly begun to explore my potential!

Which leads me to realize: Both summer and winter have their inherent appeals, and different aspects of each season appeal to me at different times. In conclusion: I’d do well to appreciate what I like about wintertime in February, and be thankful for the bounty that summertime brings forth in July!

(Note to self: Appreciate the beauty to be found in each season of life.)

Scroll down to check out these photos from our garden where my sons harvest the very first cherry tomato and Mr. Cucumber (named by my 7-year-old!) from our backyard vegetable patch.

I come from a world of arranged dates.  This is vastly different from the world of arranged marriages where boys and girls are told whom to marry.  In my world, a matchmaker suggests a nice young man to a fine young lady — and then they decide whether or not they’d like to go on a date.  The matchmaker’s job is to arrange that first date, and then the couple makes their own decision as to whether they’d like to continue dating.

Back to my story.  Setting:  Autumn of 1997

At the ripe old age of nineteen-and-a-half, my parents and I decided that the time was right to begin dating for the purpose of marriage.  That’s the way it’s done in my Orthodox Jewish community, and that’s the way the vast majority of my friends began their journey to marriage and beyond.

I waited at the phone for weeks, willing it to ring with a suggested suitor for me to date.  (I didn’t actually wait at the phone; I had a job in graphic design, but I sometimes felt like I was doing nothing but waiting at the phone!)

Mrs. K from down the blocks suggested her friend’s son, and I finally had my first date.  It took me less than 5 minutes to realize that this guy was not destined to be my husband, however, I politely sat through the 2-hour date in the lobby of a nice hotel as we made small talk.

Fast-forward a few months.  The phone rang occasionally, and I went out on more dates — some good, some less-than-good.  Yet none of these fine gentlemen appeared to be the Prince Charming for whom I was waiting.   I could not quite verbalize exactly what sort of gentleman I was looking for, but I know that when he rode up my driveway on his white horse, I’d know that he was the one!

Little did I know just how true my vision would be.  (As long as I can substitute “1986 Toyota Corolla” for “white horse”.)

Allow me to introduce my 10-year-old cousin, Brocha Becker.   Brocha’s mother, had bought her a new dress.  But this was not just any new dress:  This dress was so special that it must be reserved for a wedding.  “But when am I going to go to a wedding?”  Brocha wondered.

My aunt wisely replied, “When your cousin Chaya gets married.”

Note:  My aunt was referring to me.  Chaya is my Hebrew name.  Ellen is my English name, and easier to pronounce.  I respond to either one, plus ‘Late for Breakfast’ and others — which shall remain private for now.

Lacking the patience to wait for me to get married, Brocha took matters into her own hands.  The very day she asked her classmate, Chana Braun, “Please tell me about your older brother”.

At my wedding in 1998, the videographer interviewed my cousin Brocha and my sister–in-law Chana.  I’ll step aside now so that you can hear the story in their own words:

And then we all lived happily ever after! Seriously — here’s a photo of my family at my all-grown-up sister-in-law Chana’s wedding several years ago:

Can Anyone Be Funny?

The idea popped into my mind without warning: It all started when my friend-and-frequent-amazon-shopper-Dina asked me, “So, Ellen, what happened to your HelpEllen blog? Have you petered out already?”

Her question struck a raw nerve because I pride myself on being a ‘finisher’ — not just a ‘starter’. And I started to rack my brain, searching for ideas about ‘what to blog about on HelpEllen?’

Then I saw a Facebook post by Sharon of the beautiful Fasion-Isha blog, where she put up a GORGEOUS new header and offered her services for any Facebook page in need of a header! I couldn’t pass up this chance to take advantage of her talents, and I hired her to design my then-empty HelpEllen Facebook page.

Now Dina’s question about petering out, and Sharon’s lovely new HelpEllen header were BOTH burning a hole in my mind! What should I blog about on HelpEllen?

Originally, I had planned to blog about various interesting purchases that people make on Amazon.com. And while I still see value there, it just didn’t inspire me enough to update the blog on a regular basis. (Translation: A little-bit-boooooriiiiiing.)

That’s when the idea popped into my mind:

A FUNNY BLOG!

You’ll be the judge as to how funny this blog will be. In fact, being that I’m less than fully confident in my own funnyness, I ordered this book: The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not. It was the subtitle that really grabbed me, ‘How to be funny even if you’re not’ — so I figured that since I’m not COMPLETELY UN-FUNNY now, the book will raise my funny quotient exponentially!

(Beware: Don’t drink and read HelpEllen.com simultaneously, or your keyboard may be splattered by your coffee.)

I’m still waiting for my ‘The Comic Toolbox’ book to arrive in the mail. And, to tell the truth, I have a few funny ideas for blog posts even though the book has not yet arrived! Check back soon:)

And MORE Thank You’s!

It’s another beautiful day (yes, I did some work at the lake again!), and it’s once again time to thank several thoughtful Amazon shoppers who clicked through a HelpEllen link. Thank you!

Who knew that Amazon sold such BEAUTIFUL area rugs? This gorgeous rug has a 3-dimensional flower design, and is just stunning! It’s also available in a wide variety of colors: Black, taupe, green, red, light blue, terra, and tan. What a stunning work of art to round out a nice cozy living room – I almost wish that I had bare wood in my living room so that I could get this lovely rug! Made of 100% wool, this rug looks like it’s about to sprout!

Thank you to the buyer of the rug; enjoy it!

We all need SOCKS, although I have never thought about ordering my family’s socks on Amazon – hey, why not?

Thank you to the buyer of these socks; where them in good health!

Did you ever hear that one only needs 2 things, duct tape and WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, use the duct tape. It it doesn’t move and it should, use the WD-40.

And Elmer’s glue definitely has it’s place on the list of life’s necessities. Thank you to the kind person who purchased this glue yesterday!

Hey! Have you purchased anything on Amazon lately? Remember HelpEllen.com next time you’d like to make a purchase – thank you!

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