Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 tips on how to get Twitter responses from celebrities and big companies

I've been on Twitter since 2009, but only recently became super-active on it. You can follow me @angelacruz! :) It's amazing how the social media network gives you instant access to well-known celebrities and large-scale companies/organizations that otherwise you would have to jump through a bunch of red tape to contact. Even if you were to reach them the "old-fashioned way" through a personal letter, it could take weeks or even months to hear back from them, if they were to respond. Nowadays, you have a direct outlet to reach them on a public social media forum.

Here are 5 tips on how to get responses, whether it be a RT ("retweet"), a personal response ("reply"), or even just a star ("favorite"):

Tip #1. Get creative with photos. Whether it's a selfie of you holding a photo of your favorite celeb with a thumbs-up, or maybe you tweet a photo of a company's product shown in an interesting way (see below)-- you're more likely to get noticed in the online crowd.

Tip #2. Endorsements, AKA declarations of love confined to 140 characters, can motivate responses. Below is another response from smart USA, after I shared this Palm Beach Post article that talked about how much I love my car. It makes the company or celebrity look good, so they are more likely to RT or favorite, or reply like smart USA.

Tip #3. Use hashtags as short endorsements. It's a spin-off of tip #2, but hashtags are quickie ways to let a brand or a celeb know you love them-- and if you use a hashtag that's trending, it can gain you more followers, more favorites, and more RTs, which can put your particular tweet on a company or celeb's radar, increasing your chances of a response.

Tip #4. Tweet @ the celeb or brand, and also tweet @ another user, perhaps a well-known one. Good Twitter users retweet and tweet @ other Tweeters, and you are forming connections that, again, can lead to RTs and replies from your main prey... uh, I mean, the big-name company or celebrity you were hoping to reach.

Tip #5. My favorite tip: BE SINCERE! I adore Good Morning America contributor Tory Johnson's book, The Shift, and I let her know that in a couple of tweets that she retweeted and personally responded to:

I honestly didn't tweet her just to get a response, but it was really rewarding to get that little acknowledgement of a personal reply and two RTs from her. 

Tip #6. (Little extra freebie) Don't expect to hear back, but be pleasantly surprised if you do. I've tweeted The Today Show, JLo and Harry Connick, Jr. Still waiting to hear back from them. ;)

Seriously, though, Twitter accounts with tons of followers are far less likely to notice your tweet. Be strategic when you post-- I tweeted Tory Johnson about how much I love her book, and it comes out on paperback in a week. Good promotion for her to time RTs from fans, although I prefer to think she really was touched by my honest admiration. :)

Don't spam, don't be a cray super fan and DO have fun tweeting at your favorite Tweeters. That's the whole point!

Hopefully these tips can get your creative juices flowing, and you can get a response from your favorite celebrity or company! Have you ever been retweeted before like that? Let me know in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading, and good luck,

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to eat crawfish in 5 steps (for you Floridians), and where to snorkel in Palm Beach County (for all the rest of you)

Mudbugs, crayfish, freshwater lobsters, CRAWFISH-- whatever you call 'em, they're DELICIOUS! Might I interest you in these crustaceans resembling small lobsters, which are a Cajun delicacy? 


Living in Louisiana, crawfish boils are a regular part of life. You look forward to crawfish season, which typically runs from March through June. Anytime outside of that is messing with nature... but we had to get some today right before the Cajun Fest at Johnny Longboats on Singer Island at the City Beach boardwalk. My husband Nathan and I haven't had ANY crawfish this year, so we had to take advantage of this opportunity! I admit that they were a bit bland and of course they were super-expensive (we each paid $12.95 for only ONE POUND), but keep in mind this is Florida and shipping food from far away is not cheap.

To get down to the nitty-gritty, here are some tips on easily peeling a crawfish. They only *look* complicated to eat!

Step #1. Choose how many pounds you want. I always feel like it's hard to get full on crawfish, so make sure you have some potatoes and corn in those trays, y'all hear me?! For a real meal, 5 pounds is the minimum. These one-pound trays were somewhat of a tease for us...

Note my husband's Louisiana State University shirt... we represent the Bayou State!

Step #2. Grasp the crawfish tail with your dominant hand and the head with your other hand, then pinch both and pull apart. Sometimes it helps to twist them a bit. They should separate easily.

Step #2.5. OPTIONAL -- you can suck the crawfish head! But I just eat the tail meat, so no instructions for that here, LOL!

Step #3. Remove the tail meat from the shell by peeling off the top part from the underside section, one segment at a time. 

Step #4. When you have enough segments removed, you can grasp the tail and firmly, yet gently so it doesn't tear in half, pull the tail out of the shell.

Step #5. Dunk that bad boy in some butter, or just eat it straight! ENJOY YOUR CRAWFISH!!!

All your efforts have paid off!
If you have a different method of consuming crawfish, lemme know in the comment section below.  :)

We enjoyed our lunch after a fun snorkel at the Blue Heron Bridge at Phil Foster Park on Singer Island with my coworker Dale and her husband Alex (short for Alejandro, cool name). They had not snorkeled there before, so it was fun to introduce them to the glorious underwater world at the famous bridge. That's always where we recommend serious snorkelers and divers to go!

The bad news was that we were ALL stung by jellies, although thankfully nothing intolerable. There were a million-bazillion tiny jellies, and also at least a couple dozen huge monster jellies.

No matter, I put together this fun CruzTube video for you, and I hope you enjoy it. I mentioned in this previous blog post that my used-from-Amazon hot pink underwater camera had broken, and I really missed it today. I filmed and took photos with my Nikon Coolpix, but that camera is not really meant to be underwater. I use a cheap $20 plastic housing case for it, which causes the underwater images to be blurry. 

Still, just like I say "bland crawfish is better than no crawfish," I also say "blurry underwater images are better than no underwater images." I can even extend it to "snorkeling with a jellyfish infestation is better than no snorkeling," although that may not be true if I were to suffer a terrible run-in with a bad mama-jama jelly.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Photo blog of Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

I've been curious about the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens for a long time, ever since I interviewed a lady in this old report at the park near the entrance. I saw here in the Palm Beach Post that its limited-time-only exhibit, "Samurai Culture: Treasures of South Florida Collection," would be ending on Sunday. So my husband Nathan and I ventured out to Delray Beach on my lunch-break today. The only downside was that I couldn't take photos of the samurai exhibit, it wasn't allowed... but it was cool to see, let me reassure you. :) 

Instead of writing a lot here, I just want to post these photos and link you here to the garden map, because it's interesting! It was really HOT and I kind of rushed through it a bit since I was so busy and had to get back to work... but we did enjoy ourselves. :)
Two necessities -- a map and cold water
The "Ancient Gate," or "Kodai-mon" made out of Japanese cypress is inspired by entrances of large mansions of high-ranking samurai during the Edo Period (1600-1868)
Love the Bamboo Grove
So much green-- it was really restful and beautiful
Karesansui Late Rock Garden
 Nelson Family Memorial Garden
Morikami Memorial, which are traditional gravestones for George Sujaki Morikami, the park's namesake. The marker beside it is in memory of Jo Sakai and Mitsusaburo Oki, founders of the Yamato Colony, Florida's first Japanese colony. I never realized the major street in Boca Raton, Yamato Road, had this rich history...<--click  to read.
Bonsai garden...
Koi pond and waterfall...
The below photos are of the previous Morikami museum, and they show Japanese culture/life:
 Showing mass transit in Japan
 Typical school
 Are you a Japanese student?
Sample Japanese kitchen-- note the noodles!
 Filipinos have rice cookers, too ;) 
Sliding doors
Someone should tell Nathan the sign says "Not a working toilet"
 Rocky Point
Tea house and traditional tea garden

The museum hosts an upcoming Sushi & Stroll event coming up on September 12, 2014... think you'll go? Let me know if you are interested in Japanese culture in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,