Tuesday, December 30, 2008

stop digging through your jewelry!

For Christmas I received the most perfect pair of earrings from my good friend LeShan. She knows me so well! (I hope you bought a pair for yourself, babe!) The good news is I absolutely love them. The bad news is they're going to get lost amidst the ocean of earrings that is my jewelry box. Even though I've separated the dangly earrings from the posts it takes me a good five minutes to find a matching pair. The same goes for finding my favorite bracelet, and we won't even talk about the tangled mess that is my necklace collection.

That's why today's fashion trend tuesday features a simple yet stylish organizer for your jewelry--or at least for your favorites. The Petite Magnolia Jewelry Tree from Wrapables.com displays your necklaces and earrings on its branches. Plus it's much more decor friendly than using tiny picture nails in your closet to hang your necklaces! Standing 11 inches high, the Petite Magnolia Jewelry Tree comes in both silver and red, and right now it's on sale for 50% off! Let the post-Christmas shopping continue! (You'll need to shop for some new earrings and a bracelet or two, too...) --Emily

Monday, December 29, 2008

Boutique Up! Daily: the dos and don'ts of pitching to retailers

I love Boutique Up! Daily (BUD for short), and if you aren't a subscriber you really ought to be, especially if you are a business owner looking to place product or a retailer looking to add product. We posted about BUD back in September ("do you BUD?"), so if you're not familiar with it, read up!

For today's mompreneur monday feature I wanted to highlight this great little post from Boutique Up! Daily, which I think all women business owners will find helpful. In "What Retailers Want When You Pitch" Lisa gives readers a little taste of what will soon be a full article on a very important subject: pitching your product to retailers. Lisa spoke with several retailers about the did and didn't like when being pitched new products and the result is this post, a short yet very sweet list of do's and don'ts for us business owners.

What to do? Arrive prepared with line sheets, photos and pricing in hand. What not to do? Act like you have no competition or actually be unaware of your competition. And that is just a taste of the great advice in this post. I can't wait to see the full article in January! You won't want to miss it so be sure and subscribe to Boutique Up! Daily before then! --Emily

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve enchilada soup & layered overnight salad

If you've been a freshly baked reader since last Christmas, then you might remember the new tradition our family started in 2007: soup in bread bowls with salad for Christmas Eve dinner. We did it again this year and it was a big hit, partly due to last year's favorites (Creamy Chicken & Rice soup and Tomato Basil soup) and partly due to two newcomers, Zesty Chicken Enchilada soup and a tasty Layered Overnight Salad (thanks, Ashley!).

Here are the new recipes to add to your soup and salad collections. For last year's recipe, you can read the o
riginal post here. Soup's on!

Zesty Enchilada Soup
1 envelope chicken fajita seasoning mix
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c butter
1/3 c flour
2 (14-oz) cans chicken broth
1/2 c canned diced tomatoes with chilies
1 c cubed processed cheese (Velveeta)
1 1/2 c (6-oz) shredded Monterey Jack (or Colby Jack) cheese
1 1/2 c half-and-half
Guacamole
Sour cream
1/2 c shredded cheese
Tortilla chips

Prepare fajita mix according to package directions; add chicken and marinate as directed. In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil until juices run clear; set aside.

In a large saucepan saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Add the tomatoes, processed cheese and 1 cup shredded cheese. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in half-and-half and chicken. Heat through. Garnished with guacamole, cheddar cheese and remaining Monterey Jack. Add tortilla chips and serve.


Layered Overnight Salad
Cut full head of lettuce into bite-sized pieces
1 c chopped celery
1 c (or 1 lg.) green pepper
1/2 c green onions, chopped
1 pkg frozen green peas, do not cook
1 can sliced water chestnuts or sliced radishes
Cheddar cheese, grated
Chopped cooked bacon
Hard cooked eggs (2 or 3)

Use a 9x13-inch pan. Place ingredients in layers as listed. Cover with a little more lettuce. Then spread dressing (recipe below) over the salad and seal edges so it completely covers the salad. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped cooked bacon and chopped hard-cooked eggs. NOTE: My sister-in-law served this in a trifle bowl and it looked beautiful!

Dressing
2 c mayonnaise
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoning salt

Place ingredients in small bowl and mix until well combined.
"Soup is cuisine's kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o'clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour." ~Louis P. De Gouy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

two kick-in-the-pants treadmill workouts

When the weather outside is frightful, my workout moves from the gym to the basement, which is where we have our treadmill. I don't do cold and I don't do icy roads. Actually, the basement has been my gym away from gym for a while now. With two little ones at home and a mom who prefers the midnight hours to the crack-of-dawn hours, working out at home has been a good fit.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the gym and the weight machines and actually getting out of my house to exercise, but all in good time (i.e. when colds no longer abound in the gym daycare). I've actually used our treadmill enough to warrant one visit by a repairman and I fear a second one here soon. Though I don't have a specific treadmill workout, I do try to vary my routine so I keep my body guessing. One day it's run/walk intervals, another it's hills and another it's distance. At least it's not boring. (America's Next Top Model on the flat-screen helps too.)

It's been a while since our last take it off tuesday so I thought I'd share a few intense treadmill workouts from Fitness magazine so you too can shake up your routine a bit. And if you have more dust than sweat on your treadmill, this is a great excuse to power it up!


If you don't own a treadmill but are interested in buying one, Treadmill Shopping Tips from Fitness magazine is a great place to start. I also love the sites Treadmill Doctor and Treadmill Ratings and Reviews. We actually bought ours off the local classifieds, which is a great place to shop. Most treadmills end up being used as a clothes drying rack rather than an exercise machine so they still have a lot of life left in them! --Emily

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Created by Mom, the must-shop chic boutique!

Many mompreneurs are always on the lookout for the right boutique to carry their line and CreatedByMom.com Chic Boutique is one of them. What's really great about CreatedByMom.com is that it was started by a mompreneur just like you! Her idea was to design a boutique to "support moms everywhere, creating what they love and succeeding, selling their products in a mom-friendly environment."

I don't know of too many boutiques started by a mom and showcasing only mom-designed products. Mom 4 Life is the only other one I can think of, so CreatedByMom.com is in good company! I love the story behind the site:

CreatedByMom.com began with the perfect recipe of 50% inspiration & 50% desperation. After watching many friends make fabulous products & then start their own businesses Quinn Curtis had a brilliant idea: open an online store that makes it easier for moms to sell & buy each other's products, making a one-stop shop for consumers to also support moms & their creations.

So you're in good company when it comes to selling your items on CreatedByMom.com. It's kind of nice to know the owner can totally relate! The boutique features
gifts for everyone, from baby to mom and dad and even decor for your home. Standard shipping is included in the price. One really nifty thing about this boutique is the Mom-Vendor Discount. Vendors on CreatedByMom.com receive 20% off any other boutique item. How cool is that!

Whether you're looking for the perfect place to feature your products or the best place to shop mom-designed products, CreatedByMom.com Chic Boutique is the place. --Emily

Friday, December 19, 2008

recipes for the ever popular neighbor plate

Many of you have already baked up a storm and passed out treat-filled goody plates to your neighbors. Today's food for thought friday is for the rest of you who have yet to turn on the Kitchen-Aid (myself included). I have a few tasty-yet-easy recipes perfect for those festive plates. And if you aren't into the plate thing, check out the recipe for banana nut bread baked in a jar. Tie on a little raffia and your gift is ready to go!

Easy Oreo Truffles from Little Window Shoppe
Note: You'll want to check out the original recipe by clicking on the link above. She's posted step-by-step photos--always helpful!)
1 package Oreo cookies
1 bag of chocolate chips
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

Grind up the package of Oreos in your blender or food processor. Recerve 1 cup of the ground-up Oreos. To the remaining Oreos, add the cream cheese and combine well. Form the mixture into one-inch balls.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double broiler or carefully in the microwave. Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and coat well, then place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Take the remaining 1 cup of ground up Oreos and sprinkle over the truffles. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets (about 20 minutes).


Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies
1 1/4 c butter or margarine, softened
3/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 c Holiday M&M'S

Preheat oven to 375°= degrees. In large bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt; blend into creamed mixture. Stir in the M&M's. Drop by rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; transfer and cool completely on wire racks.


Original Rice Krispie Treats
Note: You can make these festive by using green frosting to make leaves and red hots for berries.

3 T butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 c mini marshmallows
6 c Rice Krispies

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies and stir until well coated. Using a buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press mixture into 9x13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into squares.


Mom's Famous Texas Sheet Cake
Note: If you don't have buttermilk you can substitute regular milk.

2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 c sugar
1 cube margarine
1 c water
4 T cocoa
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, salt and sugar together. Bring margarine, water, and cocoa to a boil and pour into the flour mixture. In another bowl mix the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and buttermilk and add to the other ingredients. Bake in a greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes.

Icing
Start the last five minutes of baking.

1 cube margarine
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 T milk
1/2 c nuts (optional)

In a medium saucepan melt margarine and cocoa (do not boil). Take off heat and whisk in powdered sugar gradually. Add vanilla, milk, and nuts. Ice cake while hot.


Banana Nut Bread in a Jar
2/3 c shortening
2 2/3 c white sugar
4 eggs
2 c mashed bananas
2/3 c water
3 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2/3 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease insides of 8 (1 pint) straight sided, wide-mouth canning jars. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, bananas, and water. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Add to banana mixture. Stir in nuts.

Pour mixture into greased wide-mouth pint jars, filling half full of batter. Do NOT put lids on jars for baking. Be careful to keep the rims clean, wiping off any batter that gets on the rims. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. While baking, sterilize the lids and rings in boiling water.

As soon as bread is done, remove from oven one at a time, wipe rims of jars and put on lid and ring. Jars will seal as cakes cool. Place the jars on the counter and listen for them to "ping" as they seal. If you miss the "ping" wait until they are completely cool and press on the top of the lid. If it doesn't move at all, it's sealed.

Jars should be eaten immediately or kept sealed in refrigerator for up to a week.
"While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many." ~Lady Bird Johnson

Thursday, December 18, 2008

excellent Etsy find: JeniLuScraps

This past week I've done a lot of shopping on Etsy. It's the perfect place for unique gifts and I've found something for everyone, including my oldest daughter's good friend. (I doubt she reads this blog so I won't be spoiling the surprise.) I wanted something fun yet affordable and different than the typical American Girl body product, and I found it at JeniLuScraps.

JeniLuScraps is owned by a mother/daughter team "who have found pure joy in creating anything and everything, and strengthening the bond between us in the process." I'm all for anything that strengthens the mother/daughter bond! Their shop is where I found the cute Mini One-snap Wallet for my daughter's friend. The wallet is perfect for lunch money and student ID and has a key ring so she can attach it to her backpack. I also love their Rags to Bags collection featuring one-of-a-kind fabrics combinations; what a great way to reuse fabric! And their Flaunt Your Photo frames are fabulous!

JeniLuScraps always has new things so you'll want to check in every now and then. If you see something you like but wish it were a little different, the mother/daughter team welcomes the challenge! Their shipping was super fast so you just might be able to still order and receive your item before Christmas. Those wallets make great friend gifts! --Emily

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

pediped & Make-A-Wish; you can make it happen

Learning how you can support a cause is always a great way to spend a wonderful web wednesday so that's what we're going to do right now.

pediped Footwear, one of my most favorite children's footwear companies, has always b
een committed to giving back to the community. Even in this depressing and sometimes scary economy, pediped is making a very rare offer on its website. (Rare because this is only the second time the company has made such an offer.)

From December 17th through the 31st, pediped is reducing the price of select footwear and will donate 50 percent of the sales from these shoes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Angela Edgeworth, pediped's president:

We believe in the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the good work it does with children. We are blessed with healthy children and feel compelled to make a difference in these children's lives. We initially pledged $50,000, but thanks to the generosity of our consumers, we are confident we can double that. We've reduced the price of our shoes, something we never do, as a way to give back to our consumers while benefiting this worthy charity. We hope everyone shares in the spirit of giving this season. Goodness knows people need it now more than ever. We should be thankful every day for what we have.

This is the first time pediped has partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and through its fundraising efforts the company has already raised over $87,000, enough to grant the wishes of 12 children with life-threatening medical conditions. You can view some of the granted wishes and keep up to date on pediped's goal by visiting the Make-A-Wish page on their website.

This special online fundraising event is good only through the end of December. You can learn more about this fundraiser and view the select footwear at pediped.com. Trust me, you'll want to do some shopping. Not only will it support a very worthy cause but you'll be dressing your child in some of the most stylish, child-friendly, even podiatrist-recommended footwear around. Can you tell I'm one of their biggest fans? (You can see for yourself by searching "pediped" on BoutiqueCafe.com.) --Emily

One More Story, pleeeease!

"Just one more book, Mom. Just this many." This is where my toddler holds up four fingers to show he wants me to read just one more book to him before bedtime. But it seems we find little time during the day to read books and so I love the idea behind the new site, One More Story.

One More Story
features an online library of children's books, from classic to contemporary. A child can use the mouse to click on the green button under a book's cover. When the book opens he can see the illustrations and listen as a professional narrator reads the story aloud. A text box highlights the words being read so beginning readers can follow along. One More Story's books even have original music for each book! The library includes books from ten different publishers and even has a few Caldecott Medal winners among the shelves.

One More Story also offers an "I Can Read It" mode for early readers. With the simple click of a button the sound is muted and your little reader can read the book on his own. If he doesn't recognize a word, he can click on it and the narrator will speak the word aloud. That is super cool!

Feel free to take a tour of the site before subscribing. A one-year subscription to One More Story is $44. That's less than $4 a month for a library consisting of just over 100 books! I'm all about books being a great gift for the holidays. What about a year's worth of books for the same price as that new video game? Sounds like a better deal to me! --Emily

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mini Social: designer duds for mom & baby up to 60% off

These days a lot more people are finding they have champagne tastes on beer budgets, especially when it comes to clothing. In a recent fashion trend tuessday post I featured Mockstar Baby, a site offering a daily steal on hip and edgy clothing for little ones. Today I have another one for you, The Mini Social.

Two fashion-forward moms are behind The Mini Social so you know it's going to be stylish yet simple and tailored toward moms like us. The Mini Social is an invitation-only site that features the latest designer clothing and accessories for mom and baby at up to 60% off. The site "hosts" two or more designer "socials" a week; I've already stopped by for the baby star social, while umi, Kayce Hughes and Nest Organics are going on right now. Think of it as your online exclusive sample sale!

The Mini Social isn't just about great deals on the hottest styles. A portion of the proceeds are donated to several charities, including the United States Fund for UNICEF and Shoe4Africa. I love it when my shopping does someone else some good!

See for yourself what The Mini Social is all about by signing up and visiting the latest designer socials. Refer a friend and receive a $10 credit when she places her first order! --Emily

Monday, December 15, 2008

help save small business!

"Ball of confusion, oh yeah; that's what the world is today, hey..." Those are the lyrics (originally sung by The Temptations) that come to mind when reading about the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, or CPSIA for short. I've tried reading the info on the CPSIA website but my brain quickly becomes its own ball of confusion. What does it all mean for small business who manufacture/design/create products geared toward children age 12 and under? Will they (us included) go bankrupt because we can't afford third-party testing of our products to certify they do not contain lead or phthalates?


We are still doing our research but we have done enough to know reform is necessary to keep thousands of small business from closing their doors. "The CPSIA: Good in Theory, Hurting Small, Favorite Green Businesses in Practice" from The Smart Mama is a great post outlining
the impact of the CPSIA on small and not-so-small business. It gives a better picture about what types of products/business are affected and the types of testing involved. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:
On August 14, 2008, President Bush signed into law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). It was drafted as a toy safety law in response, at least in part, to the numerous recalls in 2007 for lead in children's toys and jewelry. It was also drafted in response to the tragic death of a 4 year old after ingesting a charm that was almost pure lead.

It was designed to be a toy safety law, but its reach is much, much broader. And, like all broadly written, reactionary laws, it has very significant, it appears largely unforeseen consequences. Like perhaps putting out of business thousands of small manufacturers of children's products, including some of my favorites - the small manufacturers of reusable cloth diapers, natural wood toys, handcrafted costumes, and innovative children's products.
She promises to have another post on the phthalate portion of the CPSIA next, and we'll be on the lookout for it.

Another site serving as a clearinghouse for info is NationalBankruptcyDay.com: "February 10, 2009 untold numbers of children's products manufacturers and retailers will be closing their doors." Sounds like a national bankruptcy day to me. This site has the most recent info and FAQs on the new legislation with links to how you can get involved, from forums to writing the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and your legislator.

Z Recommends, one of my most favorite sites for children's product reviews, safety information and pretty much everything a parent needs to know, just posted "Five steps you can take to save natural/handmade companies from the CPSC and CPSIA":
Livelihoods, work-at-home arrangements, and the availability of handmade and natural products for our children are at stake. Here are five things you can do today to help force Congress to address the mess they've made before the law goes into effect on February 10, 2009.

The steps are fairly straightforward and require only a small amount of time. You might think the new CPSIA doesn't affect you, but even if you don't design and sell children's products, you probably buy them. With the way the CPSIA is now, you will have far less products from which to choose and the ones left on the shelves may carry a price tag no one can afford.

LeShan and I are still learning the ins and outs of the CPSIA but you can bet we're doing our part to make reform happen. Because if it stays as is, you will no longer see georgie tees cute infant onesies and tees online or in boutiques... --Emily

Friday, December 12, 2008

Monkey-Toes on Oprah...and your little one's toes!

I love it when a mom-owned business receives good press and in the case of Monkey-Toes, it's really, really, really awesome press. (All mom-owned businesses should be so lucky!)

A while back Oprah interviewed Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Telluride. This was actually one of the few episodes of Oprah I saw this year and somehow I missed the fact that in the first part of the interview, Oprah noticed Monkey-Toes' Little Lady Mary Janes in the mudroom of Tom and Katie's home. She even picked them up and commented about how cute they were. Now THAT is great press!

And if the first time around wasn't sweet enough, the interview is airing again so those of us who missed Suri's sweet little ladybug Monkey-Toes can keep our eyes peeled for Oprah's ooohs and aaahs this time around. Want to catch Oprah's interview with Tom and Katie? Click here for local listings.

Jenny Ford, the mom behind Monkey-Toes, had a little help from another mompreneur, Katja Presnal from Ladybug Landings. Katja had put together a basket full of unique gift items for the Cruise/Holmes family and Monkey-Toes' Little Lady ladybug shoes appeared on Oprah a few months later. Since then her shoes have been seen on other celebrity children including Tori Spelling’s son Liam. As a side note, you really should subscribe to Katja's blog, Ladybug Landings. She has so much info on PR and marketing, your head will spin...but in a good way!

I love this post on Classy Mommy about Monkey-Toes on Oprah. It features a great Q&A with Katja about the experience.

To celebrate a second round of great press Monkey-Toes is offering our readers $5 off so you can get your own pair of Monkey-Toes just in time for the holidays. Simply use code "OSURI08" (without the quotes) when checking out at Monkey-Toes.com.

Now all LeShan and I need to do besides watch Oprah tomorrow is figure out how to get someone like Minnie Driver's son Henry to wear our "i wasn't born yesterday shirt" while his mom is interviewed by Oprah...and his shirt is in full view! --Emily

3D Christmas tree cookes & easy gingerbread men

It's time to pass around the neighbor plates filled with all things tempting, tasty and totally yummy. We usually do an assortment of treats like Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate crinkles and peanut butter cookies with a few Hershey's Kisses sprinkled around the plate for good measure, but this year I think we might try these really fun, though a bit time consuming, 3D Christmas tree cookies my hubby found on Instructables, a really cool site we first blogged about back in April.

If you're looking for something just as cute (maybe not quite as cool) but a little easier, then try the gingerbread cookie recipe we found on Allrecipes.com and tried this week in the Hill test kitchen. It uses butters
cotch pudding instead of molasses and was easy enough for the kids to do. We never did get around to frosting them--we ate them way too quickly for that!

3D Christmas Tree Cookies


Nifty 3D Christmas Tree Cookies, great to eat or give! - More DIY How To Projects


Easy Gingerbread Men

1 (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 c butter
1/2 c packed brow
n sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl cream together the butterscotch pudding mix, butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out about 1/8-inch thick and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Frost and decorate!

"A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand." ~Anonymous

Thursday, December 11, 2008

excellent Etsy find: Imogen's Garden

Today's excellent Etsy find is a mom-owned boutique full of "fresh" items for your little one. From soft little dolls and sweet custom swing tops to fabulous felt play food to shark-filled soap, Imogen's Garden is a shop full of treasures.

The woman behind Imogen's Garden is a mother of four who understands "how difficult it can be to find quality children's clothing upon which both mother and child can agree." Comfort is always top on her list when it comes to her children's clothing and each style has been "tested" by either on
e of her own children or godchildren. If it doesn't pass the test, she doesn't sell it. I love that!

My favorites are the swing tops for girls and wide-leg pants for boys. Her appliqued tees are pretty cute too, and of course the dolls are simply irresistible! As with most excellent Etsy finds, good luck choosing just one thing to buy! --Emily

Blue Q: white elephant gifts, anyone?

December is quite possibly the busiest month when it comes to exchanging white elephant gifts. (If you don't know what a white elephant gift is, Wikipedia has you covered.) One of the best white elephant's I've ever seen was a gift box full of classic 80's earrings, from bright yellow plastic hoops to disco-ball-size fuschia discs. But what do you do when you don't have an old wedding gift on hand or a stash of 8-track tapes? Why, Blue Q of course!

Blue Q has offered the "very best quality" in gifts that are "life-improving, joy-bringing, mind-altering, universally praised since 1988." Their very first item--the gift that started it all--was the Flat Cat, a 14.5" x 11" die-cut cardboard with stand-up easel. Touted as the perfect pet and effective at scaring mice, Flat Cat should give you a pretty good idea of the types of items you'll find on Blue Q's site.

From the Instant Rehab Breath Spray to their very own Mullet Body/Car Wash (yes, body and car wash) Blue Q has the perfect something for every white elephant gift exchange you'll attend this season. And after the holidays you can shop Blue Q for a unique, unforgettable wedding shower (love the Dream Wedding Tin Bank) or 40th birthday gift (try the Mental Case Mid-Life Crisis Soap).

Though you'll find a lot of fun products on Blue Q, a few of their products are PG-13 and definitely not for 13-year-old eyes (some might not even be for legal-drinking-age eyes). If you're worried, steer clear of the Gum under Sweet Shop, some of their Stickers and their Festive Holiday Coasters (not so festive).

If you can avoid some of the more tasteless items you'll find a great selection of "treasures" for your holiday gifting. And their About Us page is rather entertaining. I think more companies should take such a lighthearted and fun approach to business. Of course it suits Blue Q perfectly! Happy white elephant hunting! --Emily

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ponoko: make. share. sell. buy.

I have discovered--and ordered--many treasures on Etsy. It is one of my favorite places to shop for unique gifts and there's nothing like supporting the independent artist or budding mompreneur. That's why I'm anxious to try out Ponoko, an Etsy-like site that offers you more than a place to buy and sell unique handmade items.

With Ponoko you can "...shop for and make things that are completely original, and do this in the greenest way possible." I really can't do the site justice by trying to explain it myself--I'm just learning all about the Ponoko pos
sibilities! But here's a little insight from Ponoko's About Us page:

Ponoko manages every detail for you to buy, make and sell stuff. This service includes a marketplace for shoppers to find the most original designer crafted goods, match making between shoppers and designers to get exactly what you want, a personal online factory for you to 'click to make' whatever you can draw, and a personal online shop to show, share or sell your stuff.
Whew! It sounds like Etsy on steroids...but really cool, really individualized steroids!

The buying side seems pretty straightforward. It's the making and selling that intrigues me. You can upload your own designs for products, choose the materials and Ponoko will provide you with an instant online price. Simply pay for your product and it's shipped to your door. How cool is that?!?! And the selling sides seems pretty nifty too (copyrighting, pricing, showrooms, oh my!) You can read more about the ins and outs on Ponoko's About Us page.

I do think they need a little better way to find products once you click on Shop. Though you can search by designer, by tag or by keyword, I would have liked a list of categories better than the few at the very bottom of the page. I was a bit overwhelmed with the randomness of the products as I browsed them page by page. It made me miss Etsy's nicely organized navigation.

Ponoko
has already received quite a lot of buzz from some serious sources, including The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wired.

Whether you're looking to buy something designed just for you or create your own artistic piece, Ponoko offers you an easy way to get (or make) just what you want. Oh, and did I mention Ponoko has no setup fees, monthly fees, listing or sales fees, no minimum orders and no inventory? "Simply click to design, make, sell and deliver your creativity to the world, at your own speed." Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? --Emily

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tees for Change: inspiring, organic, & eco-friendly

I. Love. T-shirts. And that's probably the understatement of the year. My favorite outfit is a comfy pair of jeans and a super comfy tee, except in winter when it's a comfy pair of jeans and one comfy tee layered over another. I love it when I find a new line of tees like the PeaceLoveMom tees I reviewed on Boutique Cafe a few weeks ago.

Today's fashion trend tuesday features Tees for Change, a company I heard about only last week but wish I'd heard about sooner. Their line of eco-friendly t-shirts are not only super comfortable but stylishly simple and foster positive thinking with statements like "chase dreams," "practice kindness" and "live passionately." For babies my favorite is "dream big." They offer five different styles, from organic cotton fine jersey tees to bamboo raglan sleeves. All are super comfy and their styles appear to have a really flattering fit.

The tees from Tees for Change are all fair trade and made under sweatshop-free conditions from 100% organic cotton in the U.S. or 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton in Turkey. Just as cool as their eco-friendly fabrics is their commitment to giving back. Tees for Change has partnered with Trees for the Future and plants a tree for every tee purchased. (Trees for the Future plants trees in Asia, Latin America and Africa.)

With inspiring messages and an inspiring story, how can you not want your own Tees for Change t-shirt? I'd have purchased one by now but I'm having a hard time deciding which inspiring message is my favorite. Good thing I have a few pairs of comfy jeans just in case I need to buy more than one!

Right now Tees for Change is offering customers a free organic cotton tank with a purchase of $50 or more and they have $4.95 flat-rate shipping! Tees for Change make a great gift for friends and family, and you'll be giving back to the environment too. 'Tis the season to give, so give some 100% organic inspiration! --Emily

Monday, December 8, 2008

Peekaboo Picks & Mom Central feature georgie tees!

Because we're the ones writing the posts on this blog we feel it's okay to toot our own horn once in a while, and today's mompreneur monday is one of those whiles. Last week georgie tees was featured on two fabulous sites, Peekaboo Picks and Mom Central, and we couldn't be more excited!

Peekaboo Picks was the first to feature us this holiday season (that's us on the homepage just under Baby Capes, a fabulous company whose owner is a new-found friend). Our favorite part of the review, which you can read in its entirety here, is this little blurb:

When Noah got his shirt in the mail (Sharp Shooter) after I unwrapped it from all the pretty tissue (I always know it’s going to be good when the wrapping is almost as pretty as the inside contents) I immediately put it on him. It is so soft, and also so well made. Plus, the best part is he looks darn cute in it and it sums him up perfectly!
A big shout-out to LeShan--she handles all the fabulous packaging and we're always receiving wonderful feedback from happy customers about how beautiful the wrapping is on our tees.

Our "sharp shooter" tee is one of our popular sellers for boys and looks great layered with a long-sleeve tee or under a button-down shirt.

The second site to feature georgie tees last week was Mom Central, and we were more than pleased to learn we were part of their 2008 Holiday Gift Guide! Under Baby & Toddler, Mom Central says our tees "make one adorable statement whether they are on you or your baby." Our favorite part of the full review, which we truly hope you'll read, is the last part:
All of the clothes make perfect gifts (who doesn’t want to give a present that displays both their good taste and sense of humor), but you’ll probably want some for yourself as well.
Nothing like a few good reviews to to bring a little holiday cheer to a couple mompreneurs feeling a little frazzled this season! --Emily

Friday, December 5, 2008

tasty make-ahead breakfast casserole

Because I have our church holiday breakfast on my mind (34 hours and counting until it's over), today's food for thought friday recipe is one we're having people bring to the party. It is a very simple make-ahead dish, perfect for the crazy holiday season. My family loved it so much I think we'll serve it Christmas morning! (You can also make and bake it the same day...I know because I had to do so to test the recipe before passing it out to those who signed up!)

Thank you, Su
zanne, my awesome co-chair, for tweaking this so it fits in a 9"x13" pan. I couldn't have pulled off this party without you! Muah!

Suzanne's Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole
8 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
2 1/4 c milk
1 tsp dry mustard
6 slices of bread, cubed
1 lb cubed cooked ham or sausage
2 c. grated sharp or medium cheddar cheese

Lightly grease a 9"x13" pan.Combine the eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Layer cubed bread in pan followed by ham and cheese. Pour egg mixture over layers. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Wish I had more yummy goodness to offer you all but I'm sapped. Full day tomorrow tying up last-minute party details and then setting up at 9pm. Wish me luck!
"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --Lewis Carroll

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Project Angel Food: celeb-signed Trina bags on eBay

Though it's almost 3:00 p.m. MST it's not too late to post a very hot that's hot! thursday so listen up (or read through...).

This year at Divine Design, the West Coast's premiere fashion and home shopping event, 100% of proceeds from sales will directly benefit Project Angel Food, an organization whose mission is to "nourish the body and spirit of men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses."

At the event, leading designers donate fabulous fashions, furniture, beauty and gift items that are sold 50%-90% off retail. Trina, a line of luxury cosmetic bags, is donating close to $20,000 worth of product for the event but will also be raising additional money for Project Angel Food in a
special auction on eBay starting December 5th. These auctions feature Trina bags signed by an impressive list of celebrities!

I absolutely love Trina--I was lucky enough to review Trina's Weekender bag on Boutique Cafe's Daily Dish. If you're looking for a new cosmetic bag or travel case, read my review.--you'll fall in love too! And if a higher retail price makes you hesitant about purchasing one, the following eBay auctions give you the perfect opportunity to own one at less than retail (unless of course the bidding gets out of control...a great thing for Project Angel Food, a not-so-great thing for you).

Here are the don't-miss eBay auctions of
celebrity-signed Trina bags:


The auctions
end December 13th so add them to your "watch" list. Just don't go watching the one signed by cast members from Ugly Betty...that one is SO mine!

If you have a blog or other website where you can post updates, please pass the word along. The auctions are for a very worthy cause. You'll be supporting Project Angel Food and crossing off an item on someone's wish list. I love win-win situations! --Emily

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BeyondMotherhood taps into an untapped workforce

BeyondMotherhood needs no introduction except this: it is a site similar to Monster.com except it connects employers with a powerful yet still crazily untapped workforce, MOMS. As wonderful as it is to be a mom, for some of us that just isn't enough. We can literally feel our brain cells slowly shrinking and are looking to do something more than carpool, pack lunches and change diapers. We want adult interaction beyond playgroups and a little extra spending money for lunch dates and shopping.

Moms are a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight. Whether your education comes from school or real life or both, BeyondMotherhood wants to match you with an employer. I love this description from the site's About Us page:

Why have we resigned ourselves that we have to make a choice? Why must we be either a 'Stay at Home Mom' or a 'Working Mom?' Why can't we have and be both? Why can't we have it all? We at beyondmotherhood.com believe you can.

Whether you're looking for a job that will get you out of house for a few hours a week or for a job that could become a stepping stone to help you land a full time position in the future --- you'll find the opportunities here at Beyondmotherhood.com.

Before creating an account you can search the jobs posted on BeyondMotherhood. Search by category, date added, keyword or hours required. I did an open search and although only a handful of results showed up, BeyondMotherhood has just as much potential as you do, so check back often! Who knows? You may be the CEO of a company along with your family! --Emily

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mashable: 5 Must Have Tools for Web Working Moms

This week on freshly baked the posts may be short and sweet. It is the week before our church Christmas party, for which I am co-chair, and it is also the week to get Christmas decorations up in our home, put a bunch of stuff for sale on ebay and the local classifieds (love dejunking the toy room and my clothes closet) along with managing day-to-day georgie tees, Boutique Cafe, and Polliwogged stuff. I'm a mompreneur--I have a right to feel overwhelmed once in a while and this is the week!

For today's mompreneur monday post I am pointing you in the direction of a very useful article from Mashable written by Jessica Smith, Chief Mom Advisor of MomForce.com and Chief Mom Officer for Wishpot.com. (She also chronicles her experiences as a mom and virtual executive at JessicaKnows.com-- talk about a multitasking mompreneur!)

In "5 Must Have Tools for Web Working Moms" Jessica shares with us her top five
favorite productivity and communication tools. Among the list are Twitter and Facebook, two of my favorite communication-related sites. Another favorite tool is Remember the Milk, a site which I'll be featuring in a post on freshly baked very soon. It is super cool!

Be sure to read the comments on this post along with the article; you'll find some great tools suggested by fellow women business owners. You may have to try a few sites and/or apps before discovering what works best for you, but it will be time will spent. Just think of all the time--and headaches--it will save you down the road! I wonder if there's a site that can serves as co-chair for Saturday's Christmas party so I don't have to worry about it... --Emily

Friday, November 28, 2008

tasty baked potato soup & light wheat rolls

After a long day (or morning) of shopping you'll want to end the day with some yummy comfort food. Today's food for thought friday features a baked potato soup recipe I made on Monday--it was super tasty--and a yummy recipe for homemade wheat rolls.

Baked Potato Soup
2 T butter
1 c finely chopped onion
4 T flour
3 (14.5-oz) can
s chicken broth
4 large or 8 medium baking potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried basil
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 tsp garlic salt
2 c half & half

Garnishes
Grated cheese, sour cream, green onions, crumbled bacon

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often. Gradually add chicken broth. Add potatoes, salt, white and black pepper, basil, Tabasco and garlic salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in half & half; heat through. Serve with garnishes. Serves about 8.


Light Wheat Rolls
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 c warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 c white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, be
aten
2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix sugar, salt, 1/4 cup melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Stir in all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough, cover and let rise in warm place until doubled again, about 30 minutes. Grease 2 dozen muffin cups. Punch down dough and divide into two equal portions. Roll each into a 6x14 inch rectangle, and cut rectangle into twelve 7x1 inch strips. Roll strips up into spirals and place into muffin cups. Brush tops with melted butter. Let rise uncovered in a warm place 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush again with melted butter.
"Shopping is better than sex. If you're not satisfied after shopping you can make an exchange for something you really like." ~Adrienne Gusoff