My Secret Elf On The Shelf Addiction. Help, I Have A Problem

Hey Everyone,

Yes, it’s been like 35 years since I have written a blog post. Ok, not 35 years, but way too many months. If you follow my other social media channels, then you know that I post to them, and my YouTube channel almost daily. I really want to challenge myself to get back into blogging, because there is something about the written word that just reaches people and clarifies my soul like no Instagram post ever can.

I was posting my Elf on the Shelf ideas to my personal Facebook account, when a friend of mine (thanks Tracy) suggested that I should blog these ideas, because she had not seen anything like them before. If I may be so bold, she even used the word ‘Innovative’. 🙂

Anywho, it must be fate or something, because I have really been itching to blog lately, so here we go.

Let me start off by saying that up until about 2 weeks ago, I was (everybody hold onto their seats) genuinely irritated when I heard people talking about the whole Elf on the Shelf thing. Why? Simple. I am a bad person :-). Alright, no, that’s not true. It’s because I really didn’t understand what it was, and I kind of thought it was a little creepy.

Two weeks ago, as I was picking up my son from day care, he showed me his Elf at school, and asked when ours was going to arrive. Never one to take the last open seat on a bandwagon, I said, “Um, I will have to text Santa and find out.” After the kids went to bed that night, I looked up the general idea of the Elf kind of policing children for Santa, and by extension for me, and thought, “Yeah, I’ll give that a spin.” Oh, don’t judge, you know how this ends…with me spending $30 on a somewhat creepy little elf like millions of other parents.

I went to Walmart, then Target, to try to purchase this little North Pole Narc, and they genuinely laughed at me. They were like, “those things have BEEN sold out.” Ok, well, excuse me for not knowing that the freakin’ Elf was #trending. 🙂

Moving on. In comes my personal favy favorton Amazon.com. With the click of a button, my own little personal Elf was on it’s way from the North Pole…Ok, yes, I know it’s from the Birmingham, Alabama Amazon fulfillment center, but go with me here. We are dealing in suspended reality.

He arrives. The kids go through a slew of names from Stinky and Jingles, to Flake and finally circle the wagons back around to Chippy. Yeah, super original, I know. 🙂 Cut them a break, what they lacked in originality for naming our Elf, they make up for in creative ways to destroy their bedrooms, so I guess it all evens out.

The first night, I read them the story, and explained the rules, at which time I was promptly informed that, “Everybody knows that stuff mommy.” Oh, my bad for missing Elf 101 at the local community college. Geez, where’s the magic anymore?

After I put the kids to bed, I had two choices; 1. Hit up Pinterest for ideas. 2. Search my own brain for crazy stuff and see what falls out. Of course, you know I chose option 2, because I feel like I need to make everything in my life vastly more difficult than it actually needs to be :-).

The first night, I wasn’t feeling that adventurous yet, so I stuck him in the cookie display, and positioned him like he was holding a cookie and got stuck in there.

Night 1: Chippy Got Caught With More Than Just His Hand In The Cookie Jar.

Originality Score: I don’t really know, but I am assuming it’s somewhere near a 1, on a 1 to 10, 10 high scale.

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Elf In A Cookie Jar

The kids freaked out. They loved it. They were yelling at him about stealing their cookies, and laughing that he got caught. They of course overlooked the most obvious question…How Did That Elf Escape From His Packaging Without Mommy Touching Him? Ah, the magic that is Elf. 🙂

Night 2: Elves Need To Netflix and Chill Too

Originality Score: I think I was probably tickling like a 3 here, maybe.

Night two. I am starting to feel a little more like I can actually do this. I was studying while sitting on the couch, and I thought, man, I would really just love to Netflix and Chill right now. Then it hit me, Elves work hard too. Those little guys deserve to kick it on the couch in their fat pants too, and so this next idea was born. I staged him with an empty soda, and a half eaten popcorn bucket. I crushed up some Oreos and Cheese balls and sprinkled them around him. I added a remote for good measure, on account of it being somewhat difficult to Netflix and Chill without Netflix. Sure, he could have watched it on his iPad, but we decided to go old school, and use a real TV.

 

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This Elf Needs To Netflix and Chill

The kids were sold! This one really made them think this little guy was for real. The crumbs were the real hero of this set up, or as I like to call them, The Elf Question Closer. There was no doubt left for the kids, this little dude was up and about in our house while they were asleep. They said, “he must have been so tired from flying to the North Pole and back.” Yup, mommy win!

Night 3. Elf with OCD

Originality Score: I feel like this one pushed me over a solid 5. If not, please allow me to exist in my own delusion. Thank you very much. Hey, not everyone’s work is appreciated during their lifetime, ok?

So the kids had gone to bed. I was sooo tired that night. I was unplugging the Christmas Tree, you know, because I don’t want to burn my house down and all. Yes, I have a real tree…GASP! I digress. I accidentally knocked a candy cane off of the tree, (clutz) and it hit me like a 2 x 4 between the eyes. Let’s get Chippy to try to fix the broken candy canes. Oh yeah baby, it’s show time.

I go into the garage and grab every kind of glue that I can find; Elmer’s glue, glue gun, Shoe Goo, Gem Tac, yup that’s it. I fooled you with that last statement, huh? I made it sound like it would be like 20 different kinds of glue. Seriously, I was just using a little puffery. Maybe you should lower your standards a little. Who the heck has 20 different kinds of glue?

Aluminum foil in hand, I set Chippy up on the back of the glue gun and touched the gun to the cane. Of course, I had to break a few more candy canes to really sell it, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Whack! Sorry little candy canes, it’s all for the cause.

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Elf with OCD Fixing Candy

The kids were particularly fond of this one. They said, “Man, Santa must really get angry when the Elves break candy canes, huh?” I’m thinking, “You better hope so, or our little elf Chippy has a wicked bad case of OCD. Let it go Chippy, it’s a candy cane. You can buy a whole box for a dollar at Walmart.”

Night 4. Time to Get Shredded Little Dude

Originality Score: I am definitely somewhere near a 6 or 7, but not yet at Innovative.

Ok Elf, If you’re going to stay, then you gotta stop eating that garbage and get fit! We don’t play around about fitness in this house, and I think that Chippy the Elf was feeling like he may have overdone it on his cheat meal of Oreos and Cheeseballs. As I was getting my own gym bag packed for the next day, I thought that maybe Chippy could get in on my bodybuilding action.

He really went ham and decided to lift 200 marshpounds, but hey, Go Big or Go Back to the North Pole, right? I set him up with my Beats headphones, some BCAA powder and a polka dot straw with two large marshmallows. Side note; it is super frustrating when you are trying to complete your evil Elf plan and you can not find the Sharpie, again! Why kids? Why must you constantly take Mommy’s one marker, when you have an entire basket of crayons and markers? Ugggghhh. I showed them. I went into my daughter’s room and took one of her markers to finish this set up. Nanny, nanny boo boo. My marker! 🙂

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Elf Getting Shredded

The kids literally dragged me out of bed at 5:10 in the morning to show me that Chippy was messing around with my gym stuff. Some parents have golf clubs, dishes, or electronics that you don’t touch. I have BCAA’s, protein bars, and Beats headphones that are punishable by death. 🙂

They said, “Oh Mommy, since Chippy has your headphones, I guess you can’t go to the gym today.” My face went blank. How had I not considered this outcome? Don’t freak out. I’m freaking out. I calmly said, “It’s cool, mommy has another set of headphones in my gym bag, so I’ll just use those.” Translation, once you are buckled into the car, I will say that I forgot my lip gloss and make a mad dash to separate Chippy from MY headphones. Bad elf!

Last Night. Night 5: Twisted Elf With Weight Issues

Originality Score: This is the one that pushes me over a 9, and may even qualify as Innovative. Hey, relax, I said may.

Alright, as you can clearly see if you have read the post to this part, I may be a little too invested in this Elf situation. Pump your brakes their Judgemental Jenny, you may want to find a mirror, because you’re the one who read all of this. We may just be in this Elf thing together. 🙂

All of that said, when you are this far down the rabbit hole, who knows what you will find, so of course, I keep digging.

I have to attend an event next week, and I have to wear a dress that is very elegant, but in no way forgiving. Though I work out like a crazy person and am super careful what I eat, I think this dress is going to give me nightmares. I keep trying it on thinking that it will fit differently next week, and yet, same result. Hey Oreos and Red Wine, you’re up. I quit :-).

I decided to make the Elf the living embodiment of my struggle. I went to my daughter’s room to pull a dress off of one of her Barbies to complete the look. Sidebar for a second: Remember when dolls had dresses that came off? I had to go through 5 dolls to find one where the top of the dress wasn’t permanently affixed to her body. Who are we kidding here? What Barbie wants to wear the same dress, day in and day out. Who is making these dolls?????

Alas, I found one. My victim was to be none other than, Cinderalla. Naked doll in hand, I tossed her back in the bin and went looking for her shoes. Why can’t those things be glued on? Oh, there you are shoe, in the VERY LAST bin that I looked in. The Barbie Gods are against me, but I will prevail!

I grabbed my scale, an empty wine bottle (give me a break, who doesn’t keep empty wine bottles lying around their house), some Oreos, the shoes, and a tissue. I propped Chippy up, with his butt not able to fit in the dress. Let’s overlook for a moment that he was even trying to put a dress on in the first place :-).

He clearly tried to fit into the dress, which he could not (no comment), probably because of his Oreo and Cheeseball binge from the night before. Sure, blame it on the water weight Chippy. We feel you. He weighed himself, saw the nasty cold hard number staring back at him from the scale, and decided to cry himself to sleep after drinking wine and eating more Oreos. Yeah Chippy, that’s the way to solve that problem. You show those Oreos who’s boss!

#elfontheshelf, #elf, #elfontheshelf2015, #ideas,

Elf With Weight Issues

I snapped the picture of Chippy with the wine bottle for you guys, but I don’t think leaving that out for the littles would have won me the Mother of the Year award, so I did the responsible thing. I pitched it into the trash can with reckless abandon and almost woke up the kids. Way to go Mom!

The kids were laughing so hard at this in the morning. They were like, “Oh Chippy, you can’t fit it the dress because you ate too many Oreos little buddy.” I wasn’t sure that they would understand the set up, but they totally did.

Again, I was really not thinking ahead on this one, because I left him in the middle of the kitchen. Elf:2 Mom: 0. Now I have to tap dance around this Calorie Crime Scene until the kids go to bed tonight.

If you want to know what other crazy ideas that I come up with, I put these pictures on a Pinterest Board for you. I will add a new one each morning. I don’t promise that they will all be ‘innovative’, but I may have 4 or 5 more slam dunks rattling around up there.

I just wanted to say another thank you to Tracy for taking the time to not just click like, but to encourage me to get blogging again. I forgot how much fun this is. I am usually sitting here laughing while I am writing, and hope it brings a smile to your day.

Gratefully,

Raphaela

 

How To Set Up Your Business For Less Than $10…Seriously!

Hello Everyone,

I finally began shooting this series on Monday. This is honestly the most rewarding thing that I have done in a really long time. Thanks to my business now being run functionally by Amazon, I am free to share all that I have learned over the last 20 years with anyone who is interested. I have had to bootstrap everything in both my personal and professional life, so trust me, I get being on a budget.

I completely understand what it feels like to have a dream, and no way, or no help towards reaching it. This is my way of giving back. I am not selling anything, just providing information for people that need it. If you know someone who you think could benefit from this series, please recommend it to them.

This series will walk you through the step by step (literally) instructions for how to set up your business. The first 3-part video discussed how to come up with and choose your business name, make sure that no one else is using it, and see what others think about your name. The second 3-part video discusses how to set up your blog, domain name, and matching email address yourself. I have already filmed a few videos about how to sell on Amazon, and I will expand on this going forward at the end of this series. Tomorrow, I will be talking about how to secure all of your social media names, link everything up, design your own logo, print your marketing materials, and help your customers find you.

You do NOT need to hire anyone to do any of this for you. If you have been wanting to set up your business, or want to ‘polish’ your brand, then these videos are going to provide you with some very valuable content. Please click subscribe when you are there so that you will be notified when I upload new videos in this series, as I do not regularly post them to my blog.

I am so excited to be filming these, and I hope you find them a valuable nudge towards your dreams.

Gratefully,

Raphaela

 

Choosing Your Blog or Business Name: Why I Am Changing Mine

Run, To, The, Bikini

Was RunToTheBikini.Com. Now It’s RaphaelaLaurean.com

Ok, so, I finally did it. Did what you ask? Simple. I decided to simplify my life and change the name of my blog. I chose the name Run To The Bikini when I started this blog last year. I did so as a way to document my progress towards my bikini bodybuilding goals. However, over the course of the last year, I have also decided that I have a lot more to share than just that.

I frequently found myself wanting to share things, and then trying to massage the subject matter so that it fit onto my blog, formerly known as ‘Run To The Bikini’. I still really love that name and the concept, but for me, it was and is just too narrow of a topic to continue to be interesting to me, much less my readers. I know that this is going to sound crazy, but I literally spent months agonizing over the decision about which ‘identity’ to write my ideas under. If you have ever tried to pick a business name, then you know what I am talking about. I thank God for flash cards, or I would have to start donating to Green Peace to apologize for the amount of paper that I would have used sorting this out.

There are so many areas of my life where I want to share what I have learned, but I also have a very strong business rule about not casting the net too wide (aka, being really good at what you do, and not trying to cover everything). But that’s when it hit me. I am not writing this blog as a business. I am writing it for me, and for you, and for whatever comes of it down the road, so I should just be me. So, that’s why I am changing my blog name to http://www.raphaelalaurean.com.

Pros: 

Reason # 1: It’s Just Plain Easier

Easy to find me and all of my other social media profiles, because it’s all the same name. I will list the links at the bottom of this page, as an example of what I am talking about, and as a guide for you to follow when setting up your own ‘identity’. If you type my name into Google (the people who really run the world ), you will find my youtube channel, blog, twitter account, etc.

Reason # 2: Sky’s the Limit.

I can write about pretty much anything now. I mean, I have it organized now so that the reader can find what they are interested in, but it gives me the freedom to share all of the areas of my life, not just one. This is something that I am really going to enjoy. A perfect example is this very post. I could never have done this post on my former blog. Well, I could have, no internet police would have come for me, but it may have caused Botox inducing wrinkles on my face (and I promised myself that I would wait until 40 🙂 ), because I would have felt anxiety about the fact that it didn’t belong on that kind of a blog, or that I was not providing my readers with the content that they were looking for.

Reason # 3″ Consistency is Key.

I am far more likely to post regularly because I don’t have to try to ‘package’ the information a certain way to fit the blog topic. I read a really important article on this, and I wish I could remember where so that I could give them credit. Basically, the writer said that your audience is smart enough to figure out how to read the information that they want, and ignore the other stuff, so long as you organize it properly. Shout out to you, whoever wrote that article….what what..you Rock!

Cons:

Reason # 1: 30 Seconds To Get Their Attention

I have to be so lovable and interesting that people will read my blog, because I have no catchy phrase or brand to hook them with. For example, if your into fitness, and you land upon a blog that called ‘Run to the Bikini’, you are far more likely to keep reading, then if you land on one called ‘Raphaela Laurean’. WTH is Raphaela Laurean, right? Anywho, once I let go of that fear, it didn’t really matter to me. I am not trying to take over the world with my blog, just share my life. There are some that will find that interesting, and there are some that will say, um, no thanks. I am ok with either.

Reason # 2: Lack of Anonymity

I will say that I have been the kind of person that has really gone out of my way to preserve and protect my anonymity pretty much my whole life. I was raised in business that you must keep your business and personal life separate to maintain some status quo. I think that I really believed that for a very long time, because I think that it was true up until a few years ago.

Today’s consumers want to know more about who they are doing business with. It wasn’t always that way. People used to associate big brands and corporations with credibility and trust. Enter Twitter, Facebook and the like, and now customers want a more personal connection with the people and companies that they let into their lives.

I am just at a point in my life where I don’t want to be the magician behind the curtain anymore, and me writing this blog is sort of my way of removing that thought process from my life. I want people to know who I am now. I want them to see who is running the company that they choose to spend their money with, and how hard I work for them. I also want them to know that I am a real person, just like them, with a family, hopes, dreams, etc.

Reason # 3: Ability to Grow

For me, I love the thought that I can develop and grow with my blog, and that my readers will enjoy that. If I had chosen RunToTheBikini, and then decided to give up bikini bodybuilding, I would have lost a lot of readers in that transition. This way, my readers will read my blog because they want to see what I am up to, not just to look at one subject. I hope that makes sense.

 

Small Business Tip Summary

So, as you can see, there are pros and cons, big surprise, not! What am I really saying here? I suppose if I had to summarize from a business perspective, I would say it like this;

Niche Topic: Examples; Weight Loss for Women Who Just Gave Birth, Golfing for Divorced Guys over 40, Raising Triplets on Less Than 36K Per Year

If you are writing with one specific topic that you think that you can find enough about to consistently engage your readers and yourself, then go with that. It will be very easy to monetize (aka…make money with) because the subject matter will be so narrow that you could become a very credible source for that subject.  People would trust your product recommendations (please keep it real people, don’t do sponsored reviews for crap products). You could evaluate all of the events in your niche topic, associations, trade shows, new product releases, best places to buy, etc. If you love one subject like that, then get in there and get to work.

Lifestlye Versus Topic Blogging; ABeautifulMess.comIGoByKatie.com,

These blogs, as well as my own, are more of a candid look at the lives of these people, which can not be compartmentalized so easily. If you visit their blog, what you are sticking around for is them, sort of a blog celebrity reality show. They will tell all and you can read what you want and ignore the rest. These kinds of blogs can also be monetized as they grow, if you are interested in that. You can do exactly the same thing as the niche blog, but you just have to be very careful to organize everything really well, because your readers are busy, and they want what they want. It’s your job to make sure that they don’t have to search for it for very long.

As promised-

Disclaimer: This is not a shameless plug, it is meant for you to see how nice, clean, and easy it would be for your followers if you did something like this for your business.

♥ MY VLOG CHANNEL
http://www.youtube.com/raphaelalaurean
♥ TWITTER!
http://twitter.com/raphaelalaurean
♥ FACEBOOK
http://www.facebook.com/raphaelalaurean
♥ PINTEREST

♥ INSTAGRAM
http://instagram.com/raphaelalaurean
♥ BLOG
http://www.raphaelalaurean.com
♥ EMAIL
info@raphaelalaurean.com

I hope you found this helpful. If you take one lesson from this post, it should be that you should just get started. You can change on the fly, so just stop stressing out about it and start writing. More often than not, this will be the true test of how you decide what your blog will really be about.

Gratefully,

Raphaela Laurean