Thursday, February 28, 2008

girl power!

I wasn't always a big fan of female singers. In high school my musical world consisted of bands like The Cure, REM, Erasure, Midnight Oil, INXS, Jesus Jones, Jane's Addiction, and countless one-hit wonders. The only female voice I can remember listening to was Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Over the past few years I've seen my taste in female singers grow (or is that mature?) and now my collection consists of some wonderfully talented voices with songs that help center me after a very long day. For thankful thursday I wanted to share with you those female artists for whom I'm most thankful!

  • Sara McLachlan--I don't think there's a CD I don't like by her!
  • Dido--Love her last two CDs and it looks like a new CD is coming out soon--yay! One of my fave songs is "Sand in My Shoes."
  • Natalie Merchant--good ol' 10,000 Maniacs; love "These Are the Days."
  • Norah Jones--Though her first CD is my favorite ("Come Away With Me" is one of my all-time favorite songs) her second one is pretty darn good too.
  • Sara Bereilles--They might overplay "Love Song" but the rest of the CD is worth a listen. My other favorite is "Fairytale."
  • Colbie Caillet--I'm sure you've heard "Bubbly" and "Realize" on the radio. I still don't get tired of these songs and Coco is a great CD.

Though my current CD collection is still male dominated (REM's coming out with a new CD in April!), it's a woman's voice that reminds me I too am a wonderful and talented woman. But aren't we all? --Emily

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

blog, momma, blog!

For wonderful web wednesday I'm happy to highlight a few great blog directories/sites out there catering to women and mom bloggers. We women need to stick together and support each other and these resources are a great way to do so!

  • BlogHer--BlogHer's mission is to "create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment." BlogHer has an extensive advertising network and provides a fantastic community for its bloggers via annual conferences and a fabulous web network.
  • BlogsByWomen--BlogsByWomen is a directory of women bloggers where each blog is approved by hand to keep low-quality blogs, splogs and "those stinky boys out." The site currently has 5,490 blogs listed and because blogs are approved by hand you've got one of the highest quality directories around. Search engines and searchers (aka people) consider BlogsByWomen an authority site. Its Google pagerank is 5!
  • Crazy Hip Blog Mamas--Crazy Hip Blog Mamas started as a webring back in 2003 and is now a great resource for moms. Connect with "other crazy, hip blog mamas dealing with raising kids and exploiting their journey on the internet." The site has recipes, product reviews, projects and activities for kids, and member-written articles. Crazy Hip Blog Mamas is a lot of fun!
  • is "all about the blog." Features include a weekly contest roundup, groovy mom blogger profile, and my favorite, Friday's fabulous freebies.
If you know of a helpful resource for women bloggers please share! --Emily

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 and give you the skinny on designer jeans

I may not know much about the world of fashion but I do know quite a bit about jeans. I love jeans, I live in jeans, and I own a lot of jeans. Casual day? Faded GAP Long and Lean jeans and a favorite t-shirt. Night on the town? Esprit or Hudson straight-leg jeans and heels. I don't own too many high-end designer brands for budget reasons (Rock & Republic on ebay are a still a bit pricey) but I still like to dream and I still want to know what's hot. Today's fashion trend tuesday is all about the denim.

If you want to keep up on the latest denim styles and trends then head on over to, a "daily journal of designer denim and well dressed individuals." You'll find the latest styles from your favorite designer brands, celeb photos, and denim news. The site is actually powered by, the largest online community dedicated to authentic premium denim. claims to "have a bunch of eagle eyed pros who can spot a fake pair of jeans from a mile away." Now that would be helpful if you've got your eyes on an claimed-to-be-authentic pair on ebay or some other site. HonestForum also has its honestmall, which has a 99.98% "authentic" success rate after over 10k transactions. What I really love about HonestForum is if members find someone (ebay seller, store, etc.) selling non-authentic denim they will call them on it publicly. (Note: keeping tabs on ebay sellers and stores doesn't mean they don't want you to buy/sell via ebay; they just want you to do it safely.)

And if you need a better excuse for spending the bucks on designer denim than just making your butt look good, HonestForum donates about 11% of its revenue to charity and helps sponsor charitable projects. The site has even launched a non-profit, So if you need a daily denim fix then check out and They're about as addicting as that high you feel when you win those True Religion or Antik Denim jeans on ebay! --Emily

Monday, February 25, 2008

keep you and your business organized

Saying life is crazy when you're both mom and business owner is putting it mildly. Returning emails, throwing together cold lunch, checking voicemail, picking up carpool, and posting on your company (or family) blog is a lot to tackle, and that's just in the hours before kids go to school! As a mompreneur a little organization can go a long way, and here are two of my favorite products for keeping me, my business, and my family organized.

For my business I love using QuickBooks Pro. QuickBooks does a great job keeping track of customers, inventory, vendors, income, expenses, and every other little or not-so-little thing you need to keep track of in business. At first we relied solely on Excel spreadsheet, and as much as I love Excel it just couldn't keep up. We didn't have a lot of money even for what some might consider a small purchase like QuickBooks (I found the best price at Costco), but it has more than paid for itself. Even if you don't have an inventory-based business QuickBooks can do a lot for you. You can create custom invoices, packing slips and sales receipts, manage your bank accounts, and print out pretty handy reports come tax time. It really has been a lifesaver!

For my family and myself I love momAgenda's line of planners or notepads. I actually posted about their Kitchen Folio back in October. momAgenda has this awesome Desktop Planner with a cool week-at-a-view format with space for Mom (that's you) and four children. I find this super handy for keeping track of everyone's playdates, music lessons, and school projects, and because I don't need the fourth child space yet, I use that for my to-do list. I also love the space at the bottom for meal planning. Knowing what I'm fixing for dinner cuts down on the amount of corn dogs my family consumes!

momAgenda also has this great Family Planner, an oversized magnetic notepad that hangs conveniently on the fridge so everyone can see what's on the schedule for the week. Plus you can leave this at home when you're away at a tradeshow or weekend getaway with your girlfriends (your family might just survive without you if you've got every minute planned out). I'm a big fan of their Desk Pads as well, which help you with everything from your grocery list to you babysitter to permission slips for school. I've seen other companies who offer planners and notepads but momAgenda is by far my favorite!

Though I am a far cry from those Franklin Covey college days--man, I was organized then!--I still manage to keep it all together, at least most of the time. (We won't talk about the moments when I totally lose's not pretty...) But I definitely couldn't do it without a little help, and with my QuickBooks, momAgenda Desktop Planner, and a steady supply of Diet Coke I'm almost as organized as Martha! --Emily

Thursday, February 21, 2008

easy chicken soup

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire

This Chicken and White Bean Soup I found on is easy, tasty and pretty to look at. To make it, start with the easy Chicken Soup Base and add from there.

Easy Chicken Soup Base

2 qts chicken broth
1 qt water
1 store bought rotisserie chicken
3 Tb vegetable oil
1 large onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2 large celery stalks chopped
1 tsp thyme

Add broth and water to a large pot. Add bones and skin from chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 mins. Strain broth into large bowl. Saute vegetables with oil and thyme in the large pot. Add the broth to the vegetables and continue to simmer.

Chicken and White Bean Soup

1 Chicken Soup Base
2 16oz cans of white beans drained (personally like to use just one can)
1 C small pasta
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp fresh rosmary minced
1/2 C fresh parsley chopped
Meat from rotisserie chicken pieced into bite size
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt or to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

Add all of the ingredients to the Chicken Soup Base and bring to a boil, then simmer till the pasta is done (note: cook the pasta just till it is Al dente as it will continue to cook after you take it off the heat). Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. --LeShan

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

get in the groove!

Who doesn't love music?! It's for everyone, young and old. There is music to suit anyone's taste or preference. This thankful thursday is all about the music we love and why we love it. Music can lift or create a mood, it can make us fall in love, create atmosphere, or make us want to get our groove on (interpret as you wish). Just this morning as I put in a CD to bring the chaos from my kids down a notch, they got a little frustrated when one of them asked, "Where's the loud? It's not getting loud." Give thanks for music by putting in one of your favorite artists and let the music move you!

Here's what's in my CD player:

Paul Potts- My daughter listens to this every night.
Loreena McKennitt- All of her albums are great.

Madonna- Confessions on the Dance Floor, great dancing music.
The Killers- All of the albums are "killer" but my favorite is Sawdust.

Oldies but Goodies:


...and since it's still the month of LOVE, enjoy this from the Beatles. All we truly need is love!--LeShan

i'm mad for MadHaiku

For wonderful web wednesday we're going to dabble in a bit of poetry. Now, if you aren't a big poetry fan this site just might turn you into one, or at least a fan of the haiku. What is a haiku? I was going to give you Wikipedia's definition but it was way too in-depth. Here's a simpler one from

A major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.
I remember learning to write haiku back in junior high and enjoying this form of poetry almost as much as writing limericks. Well, MadHaiku, whose tagline is "I write the crap so you don't have to," is a fun romp in the haiku world. MadHaiku's author writes about everything from the upcoming election to chance encounters in the subway and even shows his ability to write haiku using refrigerator magnets. His haiku, which doesn't necessarily follow the 5-7-5 rule, is interspersed with random prose, including a fun take on his handshake with Barak Obama. Note: I'd rate the site PG-13 for some language thrown in here and there.

About the author? All I know is what I've learned from his site:

get drunk.
i write haiku.
you call this blogging?

I don't think MadHaiku's author was drunk for every haiku but I'm pretty sure he was for many of them and it makes for some fun reading! --Emily

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the laughs will go on...with georgie tees!

Sometimes for fashion trend tuesday we like to toot our own horn, or rather share with you a site or blog that toots it for us! (The truth? LeShan isn't feeling well and so our fashion trend expert isn't able to give you her typical insight and wisdom; you've just got lame ol' me today!) But still, this is a fabulous review and a really fun blog to boot, so fashion trend tuesday isn't a total loss!

Andrea Yanke, an expectant mother-to-be, reviewed our "oh, baby!" maternity tee on her blog,
The Laughs Will Go On:

I got a bunch of comments in church on my 'Oh, Baby!' shirt the other day though! Yeah...unique, non-Walmart brand clothing draws more attention than I thought. I also love that their maternity tee's (all of their stuff actually!) is 100% cotton! Yay! Cotton rocks. :) Really it does. It's soft, and never EVER EVER itchy. So I'd say the 100% cotton is a big bonus - especially for maternity tees cuz lots of them have a certain percent of spandex or something in there to give them more stretch. But this one still has stretch...I'm not having twins (boo hoo!!) so I think I'll make do without the extra stretch this time around! At least I sure hope so! haha. ;)

Georgie Tees also has some of the CUTEST baby clothing. If only I had twins I think I would get all of their twin onesie sets - they are just adorable!
If you read the rest of our review on The Laughs Will Go On you'll get a special code for 20% off your georgie tees purchase! And if you haven't visited our site lately you'll find a few styles are currently 50% off--that's some very fashionable savings! --Emily

Monday, February 18, 2008

Woman Owned helps you fake it 'til you make it

For today's mompreneur monday I’m going to share a little secret with you: even though it's been over two years since we officially launched our business, LeShan and I still find the learning curve pretty steep. We may look like we have it all together but don’t let our well-designed website, fun product line, and knack for writing great copy fool you. Every day is a new learning experience and I swear every day I search the web for an answer to another business-related question. A while ago I was searching for help on business plans and stumbled upon a site all mompreneurs should bookmark: Woman Owned.

Woman Owned was formed in 1998 and provides a wealth of useful information, tools, and advice for women business owners. Whether you're looking to start a business and need a small business loan or grow your business and need a good business plan, Woman Owned puts articles and resources at your fingertips. From press releases to meta tags to the various types of funding (do you know the ins and outs of angel investors?), Woman Owned has the info you need. The site also features an online search engine of women business owners from every type of industry and from almost every country around the world. Now I call that networking!

I have yet to fully explore Woman Owned, but I’m definitely going to make time to do so. And until we know it all, we’ll just keep
fakin’ it (something we're really good at!). --Emily

Friday, February 15, 2008

never too late for truffles!

It's the day after Valentine's but that doesn't mean it's too late for super sweet confections. Today is a great day to test out a new recipe you might want to use next year, and I've got the perfect one! In fact, I stumbled across it on only a few minutes ago and knew I had to share it with you. I'm almost tempted to make it tonight! I've altered the recipe to reflect suggestions I read from the recipe's reviews. To view the original truffle recipe, click here.

Easy Decadent Truffles
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls.

Notes: Roll truffles in ground walnuts (or any ground nuts), cocoa, coconut, confectioners' sugar, candy sprinkles, etc. To flavor truffles with liqueurs or other flavorings, omit vanilla. Divide truffle mixture into thirds. Add 1 tablespoon liqueur (almond, coffee, orange) to each mixture; mix well.

If you're Valentine's Day was anything like mine (found out it was a partial snow day AFTER I'd taken the kids to school; had 6 inches of snow to shovel; got 5 hours of sleep the night before; helped with a class Valentine's party ("helped" meaning kept my 2-year-old from eating all the conversation hearts); took kids to swim practice; picked up Papa Murphy's heart-shaped pizza for dinner; and wrapped up the evening by practicing spelling and vocabulary for Friday tests) then you've got a great excuse to celebrate Valentine's Day twice. These decadent truffles would be a great way to do so!

To wrap up food for thought friday here's a Valentine-friendly quote from Trey Parker and Matt Stone:

Love isn't a decision. It's a feeling. If we could decide who we loved, it would be much simpler, but much less magical.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the light:night that just keeps shining

My two-year-old recently started requesting his door left open and the hall light on. When we turn the hall light off, if he's not totally and completely asleep he immediately says, "Stop turn de light!" (His version of "Don't turn off the light!") He then bursts into tears. For some strange reason I didn't cave when my two older girls requested a night light, but I seem to have a soft spot for my only boy. Sigh...he is pretty dang cute.

So back to the night light. I do try to conserve energy and am big into turning off unnecessary lights, but without something stronger than those turquoise-glowing LEDs we've got scattered around the house, that hall light remained on. But thanks to a product I reviewed a while back on Boutique Cafe the hall light is off and my boy is sleeping soundly. It's called the light:night from emphasis products and either the red or green one (depends on which one is charged) is a shining star in my son's existence.

To read why this little light is important enough for a thankful thursday post you can read the full light:night Daily Dish review. If you have a child who doesn't do dark at bedtime and a product that sheds a little light on the problem, you'd be thankful too! --Emily

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

protect Yellowstone's--and America's--wild bison

I often wonder what we would do without the internet. We use it for recipes, research, entertainment, journaling, and shopping to name a few. The internet is also a powerful tool for spreading information, and so I'm kicking off wonderful web wednesday a little early with a call to action. Through the SheFinds Yahoo! group I found out about Yellowstone's slaughter of America's wild buffalo.

A press release from the Buffalo Field Campaign states: Yellowstone National Park officials sent 37 wild American bison to slaughter this morning, without testing them for exposure to brucellosis, the supposed reason for these actions. What really hit me was the word "without." Brucellosis in livestock can cause high incidences of abortions, weak offspring, arthritic joints, and retention of after-birth, and if spread to humans can lead to inconstant fevers, sweating, weakness, anemia, headaches, depression and muscular and bodily pain. For this reason I can see how infected buffalo may be killed if exposed to prevent the disease spreading to other bison and humans, but to slaughter 37 bison without having them tested is sick and wrong.

The release goes on to state: Cattle interests claim bison capture and slaughter is necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis from wild bison to cattle. Brucellosis is a livestock disease introduced to native wildlife in the early 20th century. However, there has never been a documented case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle. Preventative measures are helpful and necessary in some situations but when talking about America's last wild, genetically intact population of bison (less then 4,600), "preventative" is just another word for "needless slaughter." I looked around a bit before posting to see if there were another side to this story but I couldn't find one. If you have information you can share, please comment on this post and fill us in on what you know.

Answer the call to action and use the power of the internet to spread the word via newsgroups, newsletters, blog postings, however and wherever you can. For more information visit Buffalo Field Campaign's website or simply search Google for the latest news on Yellowstone's slaughter of wild buffalo. --Emily

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's Hot For Tots features georgie tees!

There comes a time when it is simply undeniable that life imitates art. Never has this been so true than with Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece of Mona Lisa. When he was painting the iconic femme fatale, do you think that he knew he was depicting the way we regard motherhood? Some days it is with a half-smile but everyday being a mom brings about love, fascination and wonder!

And so begins What's Hot For Tots' review of our "mama lisa" tee from our new artistic line. I thought it fitting to highlight this fashionable new tee and its fabulous review for fashion trend tuesday. Why is it a fashion trend? Because we custom designed our "mama lisa" tee so it would have a style that makes it perfect for moms-to-be and moms-who-are.
Cut longer than most maternity tees yet with a slim silhouette, and then made from the softest pima cotton with the perfect amount of stretch, our "mama lisa" tee flatters most every figure. I'll tell you a secret: It won't be the only tee in our artistic line for long!

What's Hot For Tots goes on to say: Never before {and never again} has an ordinary painting evoked such a complex and dynamic arrays of emotions... And when art imitates your life, wear your passion close to your chest... or rather on your chest with your Mama Lisa t-shirt from Georgie Tees!

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. We'd love for you to read the full What's Hot For Tots review, as it's one of the best we've heard! And after you're done browse their "celeb's faves" for more fashionable products reviewed by the What's Hot For Tots Team. --Emily

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mom 4 Life's Heather Ledeboer helps explain the cost of mom-made items

For mompreneur monday I want to highlight a blog post Heather Ledeboer from Mom 4 Life wrote last week. "Why do some mom-made items cost so much?" provides much-needed insight to help customers understand a little more as to why prices are often higher for mom-made items than what you'll find in big box stores.

If you are like me you are a bargain shopper. You love to find good deals and save money. But if you are like me you also prefer to support the little guy (or in my case mom) rather than the big box stores whenever possible. This concept can be great in theory, but at times it seems that the two don't always work well together. Do you ever wonder why mom made items sometimes seem to cost so much? ... Here is my crash course on mommy business 101 that will attempt to answer this question.
Heather goes on to talk about everything from start-up costs and materials to growing a business and selling through retailers. If you've ever questioned the pricing of mom-made items or products from a mom-owned business, then "Why do some mom-made items cost so much?" is a must-read article. You can read the full article on the Mom 4 Life blog, Sharing the Journey. --Emily

Friday, February 8, 2008

i scream, u scream! part 2

I wanted to continue with LeShan's ice cream theme from yesterday by following it with some fun ice-cream-related recipes. Even though it's cold enough for our ice cream to stay frozen out on the back porch, that doesn't mean it's too cold to enjoy it!

Decadent Hot Fudge Sauce
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (double if you want it extra chocolaty or throw in a handful of semisweet chocolate chips)
3 cups white sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine butter, cocoa, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Carefully pour hot mixture into a blender and blend for 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.

Caramel Pecan Sundae Topping
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
16 large marshmallows
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 dash salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, marshmallows, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in evaporated milk, pecans and vanilla; mix well. Serve immediately.

Scrumptious Strawberry Sauce
1 pint strawberries, cleaned and stemmed
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut about 1/3 of the strawberries in half. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine strawberries, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In a blender, puree about 1/3 of sauce, then add the puree to remaining sauce. Store in refrigerator.
Let's polish off our food for thought friday with these wise words from Mark Twain:
Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like
and let the food fight it out inside.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

i scream, u scream!

This thankful thursday is about ice cream, what's not to like about it?! It's the way it looks, tastes, feels, smells, it's all scrumptious. I know chocolate is the usual drug of choice when dealing with a hectic day, but having some chocolate dipped in sugar and cream is like doubling the dose. I know I'm not the only who feels the same way, considering all the many different products out there that have to do with the creamy, cold stuff! Here are some of my most favorite ice cream products. If this doesn't leave you craving your own scoop, or two, or maybe the entire carton, well you're probably lactose intolerant.

This delicious Ice Cream Lip Balm comes in it's own cute carry case with a pack of four, or can be bought individually. But if you want to purchase some of these "calorie-free" Ice Cream Lip balms you will have to locate your nearest Billionaire Boys Club or Ice Cream store.

Trying to be earth friendly? Try out Organic Ben and Jerry's. Good for the earth, good for your body!

And of course, my personal favorite ice cream product. This adorable georgie tees "i scream" onesie set, describes all little girls who are sugar and's a girl thing.--LeShan

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

For wonderful web wednesday I want to highlight "The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard." If I try to tell you about "The Story of Stuff" in my own words I wouldn't do it justice, so here's a synopsis from the site:

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. ... The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
The video is only 20-minutes long but I guarantee it will be the best 20 minutes of your week and quite possibly your life. The ideas of perceived obsolescence and planned obsolescence will definitely change your thinking about the "stuff" you buy.

How often do I perceive my "wants" as "needs?" Do I need a new cellphone just because it plays MP3's or does my old cellphone work just fine? What kind of footprint am I leaving on the environment with the types of products I buy? Am I doing all I can to reduce, reuse and recycle? Our family no longer buys bottled water by the case, so that's a start! Watch "The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard" and prepare for a serious paradigm shift. --Emily

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

hey, baby, what's your sign?

As much as we think georgie tees has the cutest infant tees around, we know we're not the only ones with something fun to say. Check out the latest bodysuits from GAP. With signs from the Zodiac tailored for infants and charming descriptions, it's astrology meets long-sleeve, 100%-cotton infant bodysuits. Too bad you only really need one.

At least the ol' "hey, baby, what's your sign" line can finally be put to good use! For today's fashion trend tuesday check out GAP's entire line of Zodiac-inspired bodysuits for baby. --Emily

Monday, February 4, 2008

and SEO was its name-o

Whether you have a blog or business, if you're online then you've probably heard or seen the term "SEO." SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is essential in driving traffic to your site. Wikipedia has a great definition of SEO:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via 'natural' ('organic' or 'algorithmic') search results for targeted keywords. ...SEO efforts may involve a site's coding, presentation, and structure. ...Other, more noticeable efforts may include adding unique content to a site, ensuring that content is easily indexed by search engine robots, and making the site more appealing to users.
Basically (and I mean basically--I'm still trying to grasp the concept) SEO is getting your site as high up as possible in the search results so you get lots of new traffic and visitors. Many companies offer SEO services...for a fee. So what do the rest of us do who are into saving money (which, sorry to say, often means spending time)? We read as much as we can about it so we can do it ourselves. Here are a couple great articles and resources on Search Engine Optimization that will hopefully help you understand the ins and outs of SEO and what you can do to help your site makes its way up the search results page.
I'm off to do some more reading and some more optimizing! If you know of any great sites or resources, or even companies you've worked with who've impressed you, please share. We're all in this together! --Emily

Friday, February 1, 2008

smoky corn chowder (goes healthy)

I found the following recipe for Smoky Corn Chowder in a recent issue of Real Simple and just had to try it. We had it tonight and it was a big hit, plus it was really easy! I altered it a bit, part by choice and part by accident, and the altered version was not only healthier but also totally delicious. Here's the original Smoky Corn Chowder recipe with my changes.

Smoky Corn Chowder
8 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used turkey bacon, which I don't love on its own but it was great in this recipe!)
1 large sweet onion, chopped (I used about 1/2 to 2/3 of an onion since my family's not big on onions)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 10-ounce packages frozen corn (I had a 32-oz. bag so I used 5 cups)
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half (Forgot to pick this up at the store so I used 1 cup skim milk and 1 T melted salted butter; added a little more milk towards the end as the soup thickened a bit)
Kosher salt and pepper
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings and return the pot to medium heat. (Okay, the turkey bacon left little to no drippings so I used 2 T canola oil.) Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn, broth, and half-and-half (or skim milk and butter) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. (Be careful or the lid may pop off and create a huge mess down the sides of the blender, on the counter, and on your recipe book...) Return to the pot, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stir to combine, and heat through.

Divide the soup among individual bowls and top with the scallions and reserved bacon. Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Served with a side of whole-grain French bread, this was the perfect meal to warm us up on a wintry day. With more snow around the corner I'll leave you with this food for thought by Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me.