Friday, August 29, 2008

Susie's Homemade spider cake

For today's food for thought friday I'd like to introduce you to Susie's Homemade, a wonderful and fairly new food-related (and garden- and entertaining-related) blog. Though Susie's blogs is heavy on cake decorating, which is my favorite part, she also blogs about gardening, simple suppers, and her entries in Iron Cupcake bake-offs. I had no idea those even existed!

This past week Susie's Homemade featured a spooky and totally yummy spider cake complete with a few eight-legged creatures. It's the perfect cake for those of us with children whose birthdays fall in October (ask me about the guts-filled spider cake I made a few years back...). Along with Susie's Homemade blog, check out Susie's Homemade chocolates on Etsy. Your mouth will water just looking at the pictures of her Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Dough Balls. I just might have to order a few for my birthday in September! --Emily

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

special gymnastic demonstration by Paulette Huntinova (a.k.a. Paul Hunt)

Though the 2008 Summer Olympics officially ended Sunday night I could not wait until 2012 to share with you a special gymnastics demonstration performed by the famous (at least by YouTube standards) Paulette Huntinova. Though this beam routine originally took place in 1988 it is still generating smiles--and a few laughs--20 years later. Enjoy the video; it's wonderful web wednesday! --Emily

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the Love Your Shape Workout

Usually Tuesday are reserved for fashion trend tuesday but blogging about fashion is outside my comfort zone so I'll leave that to LeShan. When she's not posting about the latest style trends I've decided to dedicate Tuesdays to health and fitness, designating it take it off tuesday. (And no, I'm not referring to those new pole dancing fitness classes.)

I enjoy working out and reading health and fitness magazines, so when I stumble across something that sparks my interest I'm going to share it with you. You can read about healthy eating or a new, great ab exercise on Tuesday and then reward yourself for doing all those crunches by making one of our yummy food for thought friday recipes! It's all about rewarding yourself, right?

For our first take it off tuesday I found this great article from Fitness magazine, The Love Your Shape Workout. The article talks about how to "get your best body -- at any size" with a customized cardio and sculpting plan. Here is an excerpt:

This plan tackles your entire package, using the latest thinking from trainers who recognize that when it comes to workouts, one size does not fit all. 'By building up weaker or less developed parts of your body, you'll maximize your natural shape,' says Laura Mak, owner of Mak Attack Fitness in Marina del Rey, California.
To begin you find a body shape that most likely resembles your own: pear, apple or chili pepper (what? no chocolate bar?). Though all three body types follow a similar basic strength workout, each one completes a different number of sets and reps. Throw in a little cardio and you have a new fitness workout tailored just for you!

If even if you're already in great shape sometimes it's nice to change things up a bit. Often you'll discover muscles you never knew you had and your metabolism will get a jump start in the meantime. Of course we should all love our shape no matter how toned it is, but if you're looking to add a little definition to those pear-like curves, read The Love Your Shape Workout from Fitness magazine. Fresh fruit (i.e. a healthy body) is always in season! --Emily

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ladies Who Launch, an invaluable resource for women entrepreneurs

The About Us page of Ladies Who Launch reads:

There are close to 11 million women entrepreneurs in America. Women are launching businesses at twice the rate of men, and they are doing it primarily for lifestyle reasons–they want more freedom, flexibility, and control over their lives. More than ever, women are going out on their own and defining success on their own terms. And where is the place women go to find opportunities and resources when they decide to launch? The multiplatform lifestyle company Ladies Who Launch, THE source for entrepreneurial-minded women who want to live their dreams and love their lives.
I couldn't have described Ladies Who Launch nearly as well so I didn't even try! The site is a truly wonderful resource for women business owners with articles, tools, documents, how-to's, featured "ladies" and even "launchscopes" (business-related horoscopes). I've enjoyed reading about Meredith Vieira (Meredith Vieira Dishes on Leadership, Family, and Her Career Blasts and Blunders) and Jen Groover, the woman behind the Butler Bag and other ventures. (Who knew she found her inspiration from her diswasher?)

Ladies Who Launch even offers regional incubators, groups consisting of "resourceful, inspiring women who each help one another take their projects, businesses, or ideas to a new place." Members meet with their group, complete "homework" and find an "uncommon bond that exists between women traveling down their own path." They say too much information can be a bad thing but not in the case of Ladies Who Launch. The site is a definite "do not miss" mompreneur monday resource. --Emily

Friday, August 22, 2008

olive medly pinwheels & orange-cranberry cake

Today's food for thought friday recipes come from the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens. They caught my eye while browsing the magazine at the gym, and not just because I was hungry. Both recipes look like perfect dishes for entertaining and both seem fairly simple to prepare. I haven't had a chance to try them yet so if you're able to do so soon, please let us know what you thought! (And thanks, LeShan, for the BH&G subscription!)

Olive Medley Pinwheels
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 10-inch flour tortillas
8 large basil leaves
1/2 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, well-drained and cut in strips

In medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in olives, lemon peel, garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; set aside.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread olive mixture on each tortilla; arrange basil leaves and sweet pepper strips along center. Roll tortillas parallel with sweet pepper strips. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. To serve, trim off ends of each roll; cut rolls in 1/2-inch slices.

Orange-Cranberry Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
2 T sugar
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan; set aside. In bowl stir together flour, oats, baking powder, soda and salt. In large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar; beat until combined. Add eggs; beat until well combined. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.

Toss cranberries with 2 T sugar; fold into batter with orange peel. Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on rack. Prepare Orange Glaze; spoon over cooled cake. Let stand until glaze is set.

Orange Glaze
In small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel. Add 2 to 3 tsp orange juice to make drizzling consistency.
"The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star." -- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tag a Towel helps bring order to your bathroom

No matter how hard I try or how threatening clever I am, the bathroom my girls share is a disaster. The counter is strewn with toothbrushes, combs and mismatched earrings and the floor is an impressionistic pattern of shirts, pants and bath towels. The girls have become better at keeping the counters clean--the mirror is a hopeless cause at this point--but the floor is another story. When asked to clean up I often hear "but I didn't use that towel" or "I already picked up my towel" (funny how the towel rack is empty no matter the claim). If you hear similar excuses then today's that's hot! thursday is for you.

Tag a Towel is a simple yet effective way to bring a little calm to your bathroom towel chaos. The fashionable magnetic tags snap onto a towel's edge. Everyone has a distinct tag so there's no confusion when it comes to whose towel is whose--and no more lame excuses. Plus Tag a Towel helps prevent the spread of germs because you can keep track of which towel was used to wipe down your snot-covered toddler (dang that preschool!) . Your laundry pile might also feel the effects as family members reuse their own towels rather than pulling a new one from the cupboard after every shower.

Designed by a mom--the best products often are--Tag a Towel is an ingenious way to battle bath towel confusion. Heck, anything that makes it easier for my girls to keep their bathroom clean (and mom's sanity intact) is a must-have product in my book! The site is fairly new so you'll want to sign up for Tag a Towel's newsletter to be notified when they're available. I'm going to be first in line! --Emily

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

an awesome blog for do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement

After spending over two years finishing our basement my husband and I can count ourselves among the growing number of do-it-yourselfers. Though we don't care to repeat the adventure any time soon it was a fantastic learning experience. (For example we learned it's not always a good thing if employees at Home Depot know you by your first name.)

If you're into DIY home improvement or would like to get your husband started on a few projects around the home then you need to add Charles and Hudson to your required DIY reading list. The popular do-it-yourself site was started in 2005 by Timothy Dahl, a man whose "early experience with Lincoln Logs and Erector sets have laid a great foundation, not to mention his background at This Old House, Elle Decor, Metropolitan Home, and HOME websites." The site is a fabulous resource featuring the latest tools, techniques, and designs related to home renovation and remodeling.

Recent posts include 8 Tips for Preventing Electrical Fires (always a good thing), Top 5 Home Repair Rip-Offs (make sure that chimney sweep is certified), and The Trouble with Cockroaches (um, they exist?). You can search the site for tips, tricks, products and how-to's or browse by categories. A wealth of DIY info is at your fingertips! As for me, if it takes more effort than replacing a light fixture my fingertips would be searching the online yellow pages for a general contractor... --Emily

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chapter One Organics, fashion with a fresh start

Here is another attempt at a fashion trend tuesday without LeShan. I know, I know, they're a lot less exciting but I do my best! Today I'm featuring a company I reviewed on Monday's Daily Dish, Chapter One Organics.

Jennifer Murphy, a mom and entrepreneur, designs "fun, modern, and organic baby and toddler clothes from sustainable materials," and by providing customers with fashionable, sustainable clothing her company is also creating green jobs for women facing various employment barriers. Murphy is essentially giving both your little ones and women in need a fresh start.

Going green is always in fashion and Chapter One Organics does it beautifully. The clothing line offers tops and bottoms, dresses, rompers, bibs and blankets in super soft organic cotton (made in the USA, fair labor, fair wage). My little L received the Groovy Pink Dress and it's by far one of the softest, grooviest dresses in her closet. I also love the Earthluxe Eggplant Top & Bottoms and Alphabet Soup Romper.

Along with designing sustainable clothing Murphy has also written a book called The Green Eaters. The book portrays five farm animal friends who dream of a better life outside of Dreary Day factory farm. The animals are granted a fresh start when they move to an organic farm. The Green Eaters is a simple yet engaging way for children to learn a little more about organic living, so pick up a copy for your little ones. --Emily

Monday, August 18, 2008

using eBay to drive traffic to your website

One night my husband told me a coworker mentioned a way to use eBay to drive traffic to a website. After failed attempts to connect with this coworker to talk more about it I decided to try and Google my way to an answer.

Come to find out quite a few articles and blog posts have covered this unique--and affordable--method for increasing traffic to your site. I've read through quite a few and here are my three favorites so far. Keep in mind I haven't read them all!

Here is a YouTube video, "Using eBay to Drive Traffic," showing you how to drive traffic to your site solely using the About Me page. It has both dos and don'ts and I found it easy to follow and especially helpful for people who learn more by watching than by reading. I believe it even showed some great ways to spruce up your About Me page.

I'm currently in the process of setting up an eBay account for our business and will let you know how it goes! And feel free to do your own research. If you come across a fabulous and informative article, please include it in a comment below. Or if you've used this method or know of another one just as effective we'd love to hear about it!

While looking for more info on using eBay for traffic generation I found a ton of other articles and YouTube videos covering other ways to increase your site's traffic, so perhaps we'll feature a few others in a future mompreneur monday. Have a great week! --Emily

Friday, August 15, 2008

enchilada-style burritos and yummy fruit cones

Okay, so burritos and fruit cones don't really have a common theme for today's food for thought friday, but they are both pretty easy and definitely tasty, so we'll go with that! I'm making these burritos for my brother-in-law's birthday this Sunday and serving with a side of cornbread and salad--if we feel we need something healthy. No fruit cones for dessert--it's a birthday dinner so cake and ice cream are in order. With summer almost over you'll definitely want to try the cones before they're replaced with hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Zanny's Enchilada-Style Burritos
2-4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 (8 oz) package Zatarain's New Orleans Style Dirty Rice Mix
1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
10 burrito style tortillas
2 (10 oz) cans mild enchilada sauce
1 small can diced olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice using directions on back of box (minus the meat). Add shredded chicken to rice. Note: this recipe makes a lot of filling so use what you'd like and freeze the rest.

In a 9x13" pan pour a small layer of enchilada sauce. Put 1/2 cup rice mixture and 2 T cheese in the tortilla and roll burrito style. Repeat using all the tortillas. Arrange in pan and top with remaining sauce, cheese and sliced olives. Cover with foil and bake 25-30 minutes. Top with sour cream (optional).

Optional additions (included in mix): canned green chilies, black beans, refried beans, tomatoes (optional)

Fruit Cone Cups
1 large banana, peeled
4 wafer cones
4 T strawberry yogurt
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup each blueberries and cantaloupe slices (or mango)
1 kiwi peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp honey
Whip cream

Cut four one-inch pieces of banana and place in bottom of each cone. Drizzle each with about one tablespoon of yogurt. Dice remainder of banana and place in bowl with remaining ingredients and toss. Fill cones with fruit and squirt a little whip cream on top with a blueberry and enjoy!
An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh. --Will Rogers

Thursday, August 14, 2008

add a momAgenda planner to your school supplies list

I have been a fan of momAgenda's Desktop Planner since I first reviewed it on Boutique Cafe's Daily Dish in January 2007, and my back-to-school shopping wouldn't be complete without the new 2008-2009 Desktop Planner in their new leopard print. It's a definite fit for today's that's hot! thursday.

momAgenda's Desktop Planner is definitely the cat's meow, and that has less to do with its sassy leopard print and more to do with it's month- and week-at-a-glance pages, spaces for Mom and up to four kids, and a handy little spot at the bottom to plan the week's dinners. The days have enough space to keep Mom as organized as the kids; I can figure out the best time to hit the grocery store whether it's between the orthodontist and piano lessons or a playdate and preschool carpool duty. Plus my kids will only get pancakes once a week if I plan carefully.

The Desktop Planner also offers Mom more than a simple address book. You've got pages full of favorite websites, space for notes on books, movies, music and fashion, vacation and party planning pages. Plus the momEssentials pamphlet (included) comes with space for addresses, medical info, birthdays, websites and passwords. It's the ultimate tool for keeping you and the rest of the family organized and it ought to be on the top of your back-to-school list.

I just discovered momAgenda's chore chart and I'm thinking that needs to be checked off my list as well. I use their babysitter's notepad on a weekly basis (okay, maybe not weekly but I do require a date night at least bi-weekly!) and am thinking their clipboards are too cute to pass up! Make the transition from summer vacation to daily homework a little easier and pick up a Desktop Planner for yourself. You deserve something new for back to school too! --Emily

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

please pass the ketchup packet!

I'm not even sure how to introduce today's featured site for wonderful web wednesday. Perhaps it needs no introduction, so here goes! You must visit the Condiment Packet Gallery for what is quite possibly the largest collection of condiment packets the world has ever seen, or as the site says "an archive of flexible portion control condiment packets."

From Arby's famous sauce (packet #20) to Miele Praconi honey (packet #616...I think it's in Italian) you'll recognize a few favorites and discover toppings you never knew existed in packet form, or never even knew existed for that matter! Check out the Cheetos Chester ketchup and Disney's Minnie mustard packet. The gallery is up to a total of 724 packets so far.

The collection includes chili and soy sauces, salad dressings and vinegar. Who knew we were missing out on so many mini-me's of the condiment world! Sadly I didn't see a single chocolate sauce packet. Guess I'll have to continue chugging it straight from the bottle. --Emily

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

sweet deals for your back-to-school shopping

fashion trend tuesday is already half over but it's never too late to list some great sales going on for your back-to-school shopping. This is by no means a complete list so if you know of some other online and/or offline stores with some sweet sales please leave a comment with the details. Everyone can benefit from saving a little money on school clothes so we can spend a little more on school supplies (No. 2 pencils, anyone?).

  • GAP's fall jeans event is going on right now; 25% off jeans in stores and online for 6 days only (ends August 17)
  • Old Navy's Stuff 'n' Save is going on through August 21st. This 20%-off event is for Old Navy, GAP and Banana Republic cardholders only, but the perks of having a GAP or Old Navy card are SO worth it! There is a special code to shop online (STUFFSAVE). If you want to shop in stores you'll need the Stuff 'n' Save bag, which cardholders receive in the mail. (I've already got mine!)
  • Aeropostale's tops for girls and boys are all 50% off and jeans are $20 off!
  • Gymboree is boasting tons of new markdowns with savings up to 40% off.
  • Express has their jeans buy one, get one half off.
  • Crazy 8 (owned by Gymboree) always has great prices and tees, polos, skirts and denim. If you haven't visited, check it out today!
  • Carter's is having a 50% off storewide sale in stores only. Yes, Carter's caters to younger children but preschoolers should get to start school in style too!
  • Bluefly is having their semi-annual Blue Sale, their biggest sale of the season. Not familiar with Bluefly? They have designer clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories at wonderfully discounted prices (Prada, Gucci, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Free People and Theory to name a few)
  • Even has some great prices on designer clothing and accessories, plus with $2.95 flat-rate shipping you can afford to shop online.
  • Let's not forget Famous Footwear's half price sale. Buy one pair, get the second half off plus free ground shipping!

Yes, this is just a partial list. Be sure and check your newspaper, especially on Sundays, for special sales and extra savings at stores like Macy's, Nordstrom, Mervyn's and Target. Happy shopping! --Emily

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Mogul Mom talks about 'How to License a Product'

I hope you don't mind when mompreneur monday features articles from the Startup Princess website. I promise I'm not lazy (unless it's Sunday afternoon); it's more that I find the articles on extremely useful to mompreneurs and women business owners, so why not pass them along?

Today I'm highlighting "How to License a Product," an article written by Heather Allard, The Mogul Mom. (When not writing for Heather offer coaching for moms like us to help get our products developed, distributed and licensed.) The article is short and sweet and chock full of great info on licensing. I was hooked after this statement: "It is a near-impossible juggling act trying to grow a business and a family at the same time–something or someone, always gets the shaft." Sound familiar?

I found "How to License a Product" an easy read for those unfamiliar with the process (that would be me) and a great starting point for learning more. Along with a brief intro on how licensing works Heather lists a a couple juvenile products companies currently accepting submissions and then gives five steps for how to go about pitching your product for a licensing deal. (The most important is probably step no. 1: Do your homework!) If you have a product that would be a good fit for a licensing deal, I encourage you to read Heather's article.

If you're serious about moving forward with licensing, consider getting in touch with this "Mogul Mom." With her wisdom and experience she is a valuable resource for mompreneurs. Just read her About page; Heather definitely "[knows] firsthand what it means to be a woman, a mother and a business owner all at once." --Emily

Friday, August 8, 2008

my two favorite (and super easy) "green" salads

And by green I mean pistachio pudding and Granny Smith apples. No lettuce in these salads and I highly recommend avoiding the nutritional facts. They aren't the healthiest of side dishes but they are super easy, really yummy and a big hit at summer parties. It's food for thought friday and you still time to fit a few more in before schools starts, so get tossin'!

Mom's Pistachio Salad
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 (3 oz) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 to 1 (10.5 oz) package miniature marshmallows

In a large bowl combine the pineapple and dry pistachio pudding mix. Fold in thawed whipped topping and marshmallows until well blended. Chill in the refrigerator and serve.

Snickers Salad
6 Granny Smith apples
6 regular-size Snickers bars
1 (12 oz) container whipped topping, thawed

Core and dice apples. Cut Snickers bars into bite-size pieces. Toss apples and Snickers together in a large bowl and fold in whipped topping. Chill in the refrigerator and serve.

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie." --Jim Davis

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wheely Bug, another foot-powered favorite

Last week on that's hot! thursday I posted about the LIKEaBIKE, a foot-powered bike that is G's current chosen mode of transportation...outdoors. When it comes to going from living room to kitchen he prefers his Wheely Bug, which I reviewed in January 2007.

At the time of the review George was almost 1 1/2 and not quite old enough to fully enjoy all the Wheely Bug had to offer, but he has more than made up for it in the past year. G and his cushy bug on wheels has logged more miles from the front door to kitchen sink than last year's NASCAR winner. He used to simply roll forward and backward but his skills have recently improved to include twisting, turning and even sliding sideways (I think the official term is "coasting").

Yes, the sound of wheels on tile gets old rather quickly but the sight of him going back and forth on that thing makes me smile. That boy is now an expert at dodging obstacles (i.e. his little sister) and can stop his Wheely Bug on a dime. If he runs into the kitchen cupboards Mom gives both him and the Wheely Bug a timeout and then she shows G exactly where he's chipped the paint off the cabinets...again.

The Wheely Bug has won the "Best Australian Toy ITSA Quality Toy Awards for five out of the past seven years along with numerous other prestigious toy awards. It encourages gross motor skills "while having heaps of fun" and the designs are perfect for girls and boys. I love that it's easy to clean, nicely padded, and is surprisingly light. And its rollers, or casters if you want to get scientific, are multi-directional so this little bug goes every which way (kind of like the real thing). You can view photos of three Wheely Bug designs (bee, cow, ladybug) and read detailed information here. These little bugs even come in two sizes, small (ages 1.5+) and large (ages 3+).

Though our Wheely Bug is kept indoors it could easily handle some light outdoor use. At under $80 it makes the perfect birthday gift. Just make sure you have a good stretch of solid flooring and earplugs. --Emily

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

discover your child's language acquisition skills with a simple "quiz"

The Savvy Source, one of the most informative websites about preschools in the country, recently partnered with a gold standard non-profit with rock solid expertise in early childhood education to create a diagnostic tool for parents to discover where their children (between the ages of 2 and 6) are developmentally.

Based on results of this quiz, parents receive a customized list of recommend books, toys and free activities developmentally appropriate for their child.
LeapFrog, one of my favorite educational toy companies, is sponsoring the widget that starts you on your way to learning your child's language acquisition skills. You can find the widget by scrolling down and checking out the right-hand side of our blog.

Savvy "loves the tool (as a company full of moms of young kids) because in the process of taking the quiz, parents become better parents and begin to understand what the different stages of growth are for their toddlers and preschoolers." I always enjoy learning a little more about where my children are when it comes to language skills. Just because I understand what my 2-year-old is saying doesn't mean everyone else does! --Emily

new boutiques carry our line!

If you subscribe to our newsletter then you may have already heard about the new boutiques carrying georgie tees, but in case you haven't we wanted to use wonderful web wednesday to feature these fab boutiques. Hey, it's our blog so we're allowed to toot our own horn (or tuba or megaphone) once in a while! We would love it if you'd take a minute or two and browse the boutiques listed below. We think they're all a great fit for georgie tees and even though we think our tees are the coolest things they carry, they do have a lot of other really cool stuff for mom and baby. Feel free to click on through!

Bella Jade specializes in designer children's clothing, chic furniture, baby gear, nursery bedding and wonderful gifts for mom. Love those metallic Mary Janes! (coming soon!)

Fashionistots (don't you just love the name!) brings you the latest in hip clothing and accessories for babies and toddlers. Have you ever seen anything like their eco-friendly yet oh-so-stylish baby bottles?

Madre Gear has a wonderful selection of clothing, accessories and skin care for Mom along with everything you need for life at home and on the go with baby in tow (rhyme not intentional). I think I'm going to purchase the Mama Mio Boob Tube. Heaven knows I need it after nursing four kids. Heck, I think I'm smaller now than I was before I hit puberty!

I love the women's boutique at The luxurious robes and personalized jewelry remind Mom to take some time out for herself. Don't miss the children's boutique and unique home furnishings.

Speaking of shopping Great Inspirational Quotes has a great list of shopping-related quotes. Here are my top three favorites in no particular order:
  1. "I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet." -- Carrie from Sex and the City
  2. "Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase. -- Erma Bombeck
  3. "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping. -- Bo Derek
And yes, shopping is definitely my preferred form of therapy. --Emily

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bandelle -- jewelry that's all about you

Because LeShan is taking a much-deserved vacation from blogging our fashion trend tuesdays have been few and far between. I've hesitated to post on Tuesdays for fear I will disappoint our readers with my limited fashion knowledge. Fortunately today's fashion-related site pretty much speaks for itself so I think I'm safe!

A Facebook friend recently posted about Bandelle, a site that lets you design your own custom jewelry. I'm not talking about a simple crystal bracelet you personalize with initial beads. Bandelle's design studio offers a beautiful selection of gemstones, Swarovski crystals, crystalline pearls, and chains. Simply pick a necklace style and then customize it by changing the color of the pearls, crystals, beads or chain. Once your happy with your design, click to add it to your jewelry box and you're ready to customize the next piece. (And I guarantee you'll want to customize more than's that fun!)

The site offers necklaces and earrings for any occasion (bracelets coming soon), whether it be your bridal photos or girls' night out. My personal favorites are the Briana necklace and Sasha earrings, just in case anyone's doing some early birthday shopping. Prices range from $20 to $86 and all items arrive in a black & white vintage-inspired box.

My favorite part about being a custom jewelry designer is knowing the piece I design in Bandelle's design studio will truly be one of a kind. Sadly I can't say that about my favorite necklace from Aeropostale! --Emily

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gourmet Momma's Tuscan Tomato Soup

I have to give credit where credit is due, and an abundance is due when it comes to Gourmet Momma's recipe for Tuscan Tomato Soup in the 15 minute meals category. I have made this twice in one week and both times have had little to show for it...because the pan has been licked clean, even by my three-year-old! It's the perfect recipe for today's food for thought friday.

This Tuscan Tomato Soup is super quick, super easy, and it's one of those where you can easily buy double the ingredients so you can make it last-minute without an extra trip to the grocery store. (You will need that extra trip if you want to serve it with a side of fresh French bread, but that's worth it!) The first time I made it I served it with a multigrain, brown-in-the-oven baguette. The second time we paired it with grilled cheese sandwiches made with a fresh loaf of French bread. (Note: Wal-Mart's French bread is the BEST for this sandwich!)

One fun thing you can do is take one of those small medicine droppers (if you have kids then you have quite a few of those) and add a fancy drizzle of heavy cream just before serving. I used fresh basil the first time and freeze dried basil the second (just discovered this awesome product). Both were wonderful! You're definitely going to want to add this recipe to the front of the soup category in your recipe box, and if you haven't added Gourmet Momma to your blog reader, do so now. Her 3 ingredient meals are pretty awesome too!

Tuscan Tomato Soup
1 jar (24 to 26 oz) marinara sauce
1 can (19 oz) cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red peppers (I used half a 12-oz jar)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 3⁄4 cups chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional (This is not in the original recipe but I like my soups on the creamier side. It probably changes the WW point value, so beware!)
1⁄4 cup thin strips fresh basil leaves (or freeze dried basil)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put sauce, beans, peppers, oil and garlic in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan along with the broth and cream. (After I poured the tomato mixture into the pan, I added the chicken broth to the blender first and hit the button for a few seconds. Then I poured the broth into the pan. It was a great way to make sure I got all that yummy tomato mixture from the inside of my blender into the soup!)

Stirring often, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in basil and spoon into bowls (or spoon into bowls and then drizzle with heavy cream and top with basil). Grind pepper on top.

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients." --Julia Child, 1912-2004