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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

georgie tees BFCM sale!

Today's that's hot! thursday is short and sweet. First, Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you're enjoying the smell of roasted turkey already and wearing your elastic-waist pants.

Second, here's our contribution to the Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM) craziness... we have a special BFCM code for the biggest discount ever offered and here are the details:

Use code HOLIDAY08* in the Comments section when checking out at georgietees.com and receive

25% off and
$5 Priority Mail shipping!
Plus, spend $50 and receive a free gift with purchase!


This offer is good Friday, November 28th through Monday, December 1st (midnight) and is only good while supplies last. We're just trying to do our part to help boost the economy! --Emily

* Discount reflected once order is processed. Offer good on in-stock items only and while supplies last. Additional charge for Express Mail shipping.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

let the shopping begin!

Or rather, let it begin Thursday evening at midnight! The day after Thanksgiving, more commonly known as Black Friday, is the day my sister gets up at 4am to hit the stores. The earliest I have set my alarm is 6am--nothing has even been important enough to get up before then! The Monday following Black Friday has unofficially (maybe officially by now!) been named Cyber Monday. It is quite possibly the biggest online shopping day of the year and shoppers will find deals and steals at numerous online retailers.

We've put together this post linking you to a few sites listing the latest and greatest online coupon codes for your Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping experince!

*NOTE: Check freshly baked tomorrow for our fantastic promotion (25% off and $5 Priority Mail shipping, anyone?), complete with special coupon code, good from November 28 through December 1, 2008 midnight. It's the best deal we've ever offered our customers, so don't miss out!

  • ShoppingByMail.com: This blog has a great Black Friday Roundup post. I love that they offer a little more detail than just a promo code and percentage--and the list is quite extensive!
  • BlackFriday.info: The site name tells it all; it is "the official site for all of the 2008 Black Friday ads." As it gets closer to Black Friday, 2008, the site will have sale information along with Black Friday ad scans.
  • CyberMonday.com: Another one where the name is rather fitting! CyberMonday.com brings you special offers from hundreds of merchants during the holidays and throughout the year. On Cyber Monday the site will have hourly specials and exclusives from numerous online retailers. You can get sneak peeks of the hourly deals by signing up for email alerts.
  • Moms Buzz: Though I don't have a specific link for you right now, I do know Moms Buzz will be doing a Cyber Monday post listing special deals from a wonderful selection of stores and boutiques, many of which won't be listed on sites like BlackFriday.info and CyberMonday.com.
  • Black Friday 2008: Black Friday ads by store; features online and offline specials.
  • MomFinds.com: Scroll down for their Black Friday Shopping Tips post. Great info and links to other sites with steals and deals.

I'm sure there are more blogs and sites out there interested in bringing you great deals so if you know of one or two, please comment and include a link so other online shoppers can do their part to boost the economy. ;) Happy shopping! --Emily

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

georgie tees listed on MomDot!

We are big fans of MomDot so we were super excited to hear georgie tees is now listed on their Pregnancy & Baby page! Yay!

MomDot is a mom blog listing site that is run by mommy bloggers Trisha, Alicia, and Bridgette. They run weekly contests, reviews on awesome (and not-so-awesome) products for family and kids, and anecdotes about their lives. More importantly they feature bloggers and mom boutiques, giving them an avenue to get their name out there and assisting in Google links. (We'll take all the help we can get!) At MomDot you can list your blog for free and talk to them about doing an interview about you.

We've featured MomDot a few times on our blog. You can read our original MomDot post and our posts about their Blog Party and Christmas of Dreams contest. At MomDot it's blogging--and partying--24/7! --Emily

Reteez: fashion-forward recycling

I don't usually attempt a fashion trend tuesday; writing fashion posts is definitely not my forte. But when I heard about ReTeez from a recent HARO query I just had to share their line of upcycled t-shirt totes with you. ReTeez has done a fabulous job turning yesterday's t-shirts into today's totes. It's fashion with an eco-friendly twist!

Just how does ReTeez make their
one-of-a-kind totes and accessories? They purchase vintage t-shirts from secondhand shops all over North America and receive donations from "eco-minded individuals who are happy to see their beloved used T shirt get a new home and a new life!" ReTeez also gets their hands on retailers' cast-offs, returns, seconds, irregulars and overstocked t-shirts. And rescuing these tees means a really cool product line and a great alternative to landfill.

Their most popular product is the ReTeez Vintage T-shirt Tote. Each one is original and handmade. The totes are washed with eco-friendly detergent, reinforced with interfacing, lined with recycled fabric and even includes an inner pocket. Because they're truly one of a kind, if you see one you like you better buy it before it's gone!

I also love their Lunch Totes, also known as "A Better Lunch Tote." These lunch totes are "better" than that brown bag you've been using because they're upcycled, eco-friendly, reversible and machine washable. Try throwing your brown bag in the washing machine and see what happens. And machine washing is a better alternative to scrubbing those vinyl-lined lunch boxes your kids have been using!

ReTeez adds new Vintage T-Shirt Totes and Lunch Bags weekly, so if nothing strikes your fancy this visit make sure you check back the following week. I don't think the problem will be finding something you like; I think it will be trying to decide just which one to get. Good luck with that! --Emily

Monday, November 24, 2008

PitchEngine: social media releases at their best

When I first learned of PitchEngine--again, another great find via Twitter--I knew it was a cool PR concept but I didn't fully understand it. I had a couple questions. One, what exactly is social media; and two, what makes PitchEngine so nifty? Today's mompreneur monday will hopefully answer those questions and introduce you to the PitchEngine phenomenon.

Wikipedia defines social media as "primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information. ... The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction ... depends on the varied perspectives and 'building' of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences." The term "social media" is exactly what it says--media shared via social groups and networks. (Wikipedia actually has quite an in-depth page on social media and it's worth a few minutes of your time to learn more about the ins and outs of this fairly new type of media.) Now for question two... why all the hype about PitchEngine?

PitchEngine is an online tool that helps PR professionals, brands and agencies to share digital, social media releases with media contacts for free. Their PitchEngine SMR (social media release) eliminates the need for those often time-consuming (often left out) extras like email attachments, Word docs, and image CDs. And because PitchEngine believes "the conversation is as important as the message," they're committed to connecting PR and media in innovative ways.

The result? The social media world is abuzz with the PitchEngine phenomenon. And how could it not be? PitchEngine has made it super simple to create and share your company's press releases with your media contacts...for FREE! There are only three steps to the process:

  1. Create: Create your account, upload logos, boilerplates and contact info.
  2. Build: Build a media release by adding images, video and networking links.
  3. Share: Share your SMR with your media contacts for free!

Want to see how it all works? PitchEngine has a great video tutorial to help you get SMR feet wet--and I promise you're going to want to get them wet. If you want to get the word out about new products, new distributors or any other newsworthy item, PitchEngine has offered you a fantastic--and affordable--way to do it.

Social media isn't going away any time soon and it's sure to give traditional media a run for its money. When it does you can bet PitchEngine will be keeping pace. --Emily

Friday, November 21, 2008

roasted cranberry chicken & pumpkin sandwich cake

A good friend of mine gave me a subscription to Better Homes & Gardens for my birthday and I am loving the yummy recipes I find inside each month. I had to share two of my latest favorites, their Roasted Cranberry Chicken and Pumpkin Sandwich Cake. Both are perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday. Let me know what you think!

Roasted Cranberry Chicken
8 small chicken thighs (2 to 2-1/4 lb.), skinned
3/4 c low-calorie cranberry juice
3/4 c fresh cranberries
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tsp packed brown sugar
Fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat extra-large ovenproof skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper on chicken. In hot skillet cook chicken meaty sides down for 5 minutes, turning once until well-browned on both sides. Transfer skillet to oven. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink (180 degrees).

Meanwhile, in saucepan combine juice, berries, thyme sprigs, brown sugar and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to boiling. Simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly thickened. Discard thyme sprigs. Serve chicken with sauce and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Makes 4 servings.


Pumpkin Sandwich Cake
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 of an 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 Recipe Chocolate Cream Icing, below
Pumpkin pie spice

Chocolate Cream Icing
1/2 c whipping cream
1 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed paper; lightly flour pans. In bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a second bowl beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Spread cake batter in prepared pans. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near centers come out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove and cool thoroughly.

For filling, in a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream to soft peaks; set aside. In a second mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth; beat in powdered sugar. Fold in whipped cream. To assemble, place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over bottom cake layer. Top with second cake layer. Refrigerate while preparing Chocolate Cream Icing.

To make icing bring whipping cream just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate pieces in medium bowl (do not stir). Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool 15 minutes.

If Chocolate Cream icing is too thin, cover and chill 30 minutes until of spreading consistency. Too thick, add a teaspoon of milk or cream. Spread over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice. Chill cake at least 1 hour before serving. Store cake, loosely covered, in refrigerator. Makes 8 servings.
"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." ~Johannes A. Gaertner

Thursday, November 20, 2008

excellent Etsy find: milk lush


Today's excellent Etsy find is more of a super scrumptious Etsy find. milk lush has some of the most luscious baby quilts and play pads I have ever seen.

Want to spoil your little one this holiday season? Shop milk lush. This mom-owned business is based in British Columbia, Canada and is one mom's answer to the growing dem
and for non-toxic baby accessories. All milk lush products are hand-made in Canada using non-toxic materials sourced from distributors who sustain environmentally conscious manufacturing processes.

milk lush’s most popular and well-known product is myPad, a phthalate-free play mat. This "play n splat" mat is double sided, washable, wipeable, waterproof and perfectly sized at 27"x27". It's perfect for home and travel; simply roll it up and go!

I'm thinking the signature everyday blanket, myQuilt, is just as cool as the myPad. It is triple layered with one side a collection of gorge
ous fabrics, the middle lined with batting and the back made with super soft chocolate brown minky. At approximately 23"x32" and with stroller/baby carrier tabs at the top, you've got hands-free bundling no matter where you are!

I ask you, how can it not be an excellent Etsy find with a name like milk lush? Every baby deserves to be spoiled, so spoil away, but hurry because shipping takes a week!

* Special offer: Buy 2 items, save 20%! (Just convo milk lush before purchase).

RetailMeNot.com: coupons, coupons and more coupons!

Though I'm not a frequent coupon user I am a frequent coupon code user. Yes, there's a difference...at least to me. Coupons are those little things you have to clip from the newspaper ads whereas coupon codes you can simply enter in a tiny little box at checkout. (Can you tell I do most of my shopping online?!?)

Today's that's hot! thursday is brought to you by my good friend Jen, who just introduced me to RetailMeNot.com. This site has coupon codes for more than 20,000 stores--yes, 20,000! You can search RetailMeNot.com by a store's website address or keyword. Or just browse the homepage for the most popular stores and coupon codes. The process is pretty simple but if you're a bit wary of using RetailMeNot.com, they have a nice little video tutorial you can watch.


I thought I was a pro when it came to using online coupon codes but apparently I have much to learn. That's okay; when it comes to online shopping I'm happy to practice until I'm perfect! --Emily

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

do you believe in Santa Claus?

It really is a wonderful web wednesday because without the web I may never have heard about Macy's "Yes, Virginia Letter" campaign to raise $1 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I found out about Macy's wonderful holiday fundraising from one of my favorite blogs, A Mom in Red High Heels. She posted about the Santa letters on Tuesday and when it showed up in my blog reader I just had to click!

On the Yes, Virginia Letter page you can read Virginia's original letter to the editor and the editor's reply--one of my all-time favorite responses to one of the most important questions ever asked! You can also hear what the stars have to say about the spirit of Christmas and the belief in Santa Claus. But the real reason for the season can be found in Macy's efforts--and yours--to raise $1 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

How cam you help? All you need to do is write your own letter addressed to Santa Claus, place a stamp on it and take it to the special Santa letterbox located inside all Macy's stores. For every letter dropped in the letterbox, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Believe Meter (pictured above) will measure just how much we truly believe in the spirit of the holiday season. It will move based on the amount of letters received and any events where the holiday spirit has shined brightly.

Don't worry about your family's letters making it to the North Pole--Macy’s will mail them for you. If you're looking for something fun and meaningful to do with your children this holiday season, get together, write a few letters and help grant a wish. It's just one way to help remember the true reason for the season. --Emily

holiday dieting? really?

Apparently you can diet during the holidays, although it's probably more correct to say "keep from gaining 20 pounds" rather than "diet." What's the secret other than avoiding that fourth helping of buttery mashed potatoes and third slice of pumpkin pie? For take it off tuesday I bring you this great article from WebMD with some helpful hints for handling those holiday temptations--and I'm not talking about post-Thanksgiving-Day sales.

In "Top 10 Holiday Diet Tips of All Time," WebMD consulted diet gurus across the country and consolidated their advice into a list of 10 recommendations for keeping off those unwanted (are they ever wanted?!?!) extra pounds that tend to creep up on our thighs starting October 21st and ending January 2nd. Here's the list in short form. You'll definitely want to read the entire article for the "why" behind each one of these tips.

  1. Trim back the trimmings. (Seconds on the salad not the stuffing.)
  2. Wear snug clothes and keep one hand busy. (Does playing Wii count?)
  3. Chew gum. (I use this trick at night when I get the late-night munchies.)
  4. Be a food snob. (But what if I really like Grandma's homemade rolls?)
  5. No skipping meals. (Like that's an option!)
  6. Check it out. (Sipping and socializing--totally doable!)
  7. Add fun and games. (Okay, playing Wii does count if it's Wii Fit!)
  8. Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages. (As long as I have a Diet Coke in hand, I'm good to go.)
  9. Skip the appetizers. (La la la...not listening to this one...la la la.)
  10. Limit the variety. (Variety is the spice of life but it could also sabotage your diet.)

These tips seem to be pretty common sense; it's following them that's the hard part. As I get older I'm learning I gain weight more easily and have to work twice a hard to lose it, so there's some serious incentive to avoiding even a second helping of stuffing!

Do you have any tips or tricks to help you survive the non-stop holiday buffet? We'd love to hear them!

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 17, 2008

win a Singer Curvy!

Some of you may not know but I also write for Polliwogged.com, which is part of the ZRecs network. Polliwogged is a blog geared towards expectant and new parents and is chock full of product reviews, how-tos, fabulous deals and now a holiday gift guide!

Check out Polliwogged's 2008 Holiday Gift Guide, which offers you a list of our favorite gifts for babies and new parents this holiday season. Read the full post and get some great gift ideas for babies, moms, and dads. Plus you can find out how to win one of two Singer Curvy sewing machines! (It's not that hard to enter, promise!)

So visit Polliwogged, get inspired for your holiday shopping and enter the Singer Curvy giveaway. It could very well be a very merry Christmas this year! --Emily

women and SBA loans: an insider's perspective

Though the article I'm referencing was originally posted in May, I still felt it a timely piece for today's mompreneur monday. Many of us women business owners worry about finances, and when things get tight we wonder what the best option is for our business: bootstrap, find an investor or partner, or apply for loan. And lately we wonder this a lot...

If you're as unfamiliar with the world of SBA loans as I am, welcome to Women and SBA Loans 101. Weekend Entrepreneur, a blog tied to Entrepreneur.com, interviewed Sue Malone, President of Strategies for Small Business. Malone is a champion of the small business and has funded 22,000 of them:

I understand women and their needs, and that is why I am the largest SBA provider to women in the nation, including all of the lending programs by SBA–24 percent of all SBA loans are to women.

In "An Insider Talks about Women and SBA Loans" Malone gives her thoughts on:
  • the current trend away from traditional financing through local banks
  • the amount generally financed, fees and interest rates
  • biggest challenges that entrepreneurs have when it comes to getting a loan
  • the types of business they can and cannot fund
  • her mantra, recent breakthrough and even her role model

Weekend Entrepreneur's interview with Malone is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of SBA loans, and you might find you like it enough to go waist deep in some new financing for your company. SBA loans aren't for everyone, but if you read this article at least you'll know if one might be right for you.

You can read
"An Insider Talks about Women and SBA Loans" on the Weekend Entrepreneur blog. If any of you have insight/advice/experience with SBA loans, please share. Many of us would love to learn more. Or tell us what works for you in keeping your business in business. We'd love to know! --Emily

Thursday, November 13, 2008

cranberry glazed pork loin & creamy slow-cooker chicken

A couple months ago I finally reconnected with a good friend of mine from my college days. Melissa, a true southern girl, often wowed us all with her fabulous cooking--I think that was the first time I'd seen someone under the age of 35 cook a roast. (She also wowed us by never going anywhere without makeup, including the grocery store on a Saturday morning, but that's another story...)

Tru
e to her chef-like qualities Melissa recently posted a tempting recipe using pork loin and a slow cooker. I am always on the lookout for both a good pork loin recipe and a good slow-cooker recipe, and I think her Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin may be the easiest, yummiest sounding one I've seen (and hope to soon taste). I also had to include another recipe from her blog, her Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken. If you're a crockpot lover then dig in because you're going to love today's food for thought friday recipes!

Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin
1 pork loin
1 onion, sliced
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

Season and brown one pork loin on all sides. (Melissa suggests using garlic powder, salt, and pepper.) Layer slices of onion in the bottom of a large slow cooker, place pork loin on top of onions and sprinkle dry onion soup mix over pork loin. Distribute whole berry cranberry sauce over soup mix and loin. Pour in about ½ can of water. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and reduce to LOW for 4 more hours.


Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken
2 1/2 lbs chicken (use either bone-in or boneless)
2 tsp seasoned salt
2 T olive oil
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz.) package reduced fat cream or Neufchatel cheese
1/2 c dry white wine (or apple juice)
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
1 (8 oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms

Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Cook chicken, in batches, in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or just until browned. Transfer chicken to a 5-qt. slow cooker, reserving drippings in skillet.

Add soup, cream cheese, white wine, and Italian dressing mix to hot drippings in skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly , 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.

Arrange mushrooms over chicken in slow cooker. Spoon soup mixture over mushrooms. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours. Stir well before serving.

Note: The recipe says that you can make this ahead and freeze it. Just prepare it as directed and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and let cool completely. Freeze up to one month. Thaw in refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. To reheat, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." ~Harriet Van Horne

excellent Etsy find: bexcaliber


Someday I will dust off my sewing machine, pull out the beautiful fabric I've purchased here and there and actually do something with it all...someday.... Until that day arrives I will look to Etsy shops like bexcaliber to fill my home with beautiful furnishings.

A throw pillow can change the entire look of a room and today's excellent Etsy find can make it change for the better. bexcaliber has some of the most beautiful pillow covers I have ever seen and her prices are very affordable. From the Red and Brown Chenille Floral cover to the seasonal and oh-so-fun Merry Christmas Tree cover. Some of my other favorites are the Black Embroidered Flowers on Grey Linen and Chocolate Lollipop.

When your living room is in need of a facelift, throw a couple pillows covered in a bexcaliber design on the couch and see what happens. I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with the result, and think of all the Etsy shopping you can do with the money you saved by not buying a whole new couch! --Emily

MomDot's "Christmas of Dreams" giveaway!

Today's that's hot! thursday is all about MomDot's super hot Christmas of Dreams giveaway! georgie tees is one of a very cool list of companies sponsoring the giveaway, which includes over $1,000 in prizes. (We're giving away a tee of the winner's choice!) On November 28th MomDot will be drawing the name of one winner, who will win prizes from each sponsor on the list. With all those prizes how could it not be a Christmas of Dreams?

To be eligible you need to submit your entry no later than November 26th. Don't confuse the Christmas of Dreams giveaway with MomDot's blog party, which you can read more about here.) Here are the requirements for entering the giveaway:

  • You MUST be a blogger. MomDot is all about supporting mom bloggers and what better way to do so then to do a ginormous giveaway!
  • You must post about the Christmas of Dreams on your blog and include all the sponsor links and link back to MomDot. (It's all about the linky love, baby!) When you post, pick your top five favorite sponsors and tell the world--and MomDot--your favorite things from those sponsors' sites.
  • Add a MomDot banner or link to your blogroll.
  • Answer the question: "Why does your family deserve a Christmas of Dreams?" You can answer as creatively as you'd like (post a comment, vlog, YouTube video, etc.)
That list is nothing when you compare it to the prize value of the giveaway, so hurry and get your entry in before the deadline. This year dream of more than a white Christmas, dream of MomDot's Christmas of Dreams giveaway. Good luck! --Emily

MomDot Blog Party!

If you've never participated in a blog party, here's an awesome chance to do so! MomDot is hosting a blog party from November 12th through November 27th and you're invited! Here's the scoop:

Every day during the blog party MomDot will have a holiday question for you to answer. Post your answer on your blog and then come sign the "linky" for that day's post. MomDot will have a separate post for each day so make sure you sign in on the same question whose answer you blogged.

After posting your answer visit other "linkies" and leave those bloggers a comment. The goal of a blog party is to meet other bloggers, introduce yourself and leave a comment. They will do the same in return. But a little online socializing isn't all there is to it. It wouldn't be a blog party without some prizes, and a georgie tee (winner's choice) is one of them! (We are also sponsoring MomDot's Christmas of Dreams giveaway...read more about that here.)

For the full details on how to party with fellow MomDot bloggers you'll want to read the entire Blog Party post. As incentive to join in the fun I just had to include the impressive list of sponsors:

SuperHero set with Gloves, Uncommonly Cute shirt “Elmo is my Homeboy”, La belle Toile Painting, Gift Card to Hippos Toes, Lollipop Book Club, Silly Monkeez Initial Shirt, Cookies for Santa Plate by LA Plates, Two Week Taster by Glow Mama, Nursing Cover by Natity Design, Koshas Belt (in Zebra), This and That by Randi, Baby Bump Shirt, JAS Creations Earrings, Grow up Chair by Mutsy, My Bag by Kushies, Shirt of Choice by Appledonia, Shirt of Choice from Huddy Buddy, Wine Travel bag by Bottle Wise, Sassy Baby, The Soda Club, amy Michelle Bags, Ju Ju Be Diaper bag by Lets go Strolling ($150), Nursing cover by Cutie Covers, Labels by Haute Mammas, Purse by MimsiBags, Tee of choice by Georgie Tees, Snuggle Blankee by Organic Blankees, Snuggler by ShishuStyle, Didj Gaming System by Leapfrog, Flying Colors Baby

You'll be in good company at this blog party, so don't miss out on the online event of the season! --Emily

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Project Playlist: the social media experiment

Have you ever stumbled upon a website that had a customized playlist of music (like the one you're listening to right now), or have you ever wished there were a way to listen to music outside your current collection--and do so legally? Playlist.com is the latest and greatest in the world of online music...and it's all legal.

Playlist.com is a lot like Google but strictly for music. Just like you search for sites, images and media on Google, you can use Playlist.com to find and listen to music legally online. But it's not just about you and your music. Playlist.com has a social aspect to it as well.

Once you create a playlist you can share it with friends, browse others' playlists and even post your playlist on your website. How is this legal? Playlist.com prohibits the uploading or downloading of songs to or from their site and does not actually host music files. The site only helps you find the files and listen to them. Your playlist on Playlist.com is simply a collection of hyperlinks pointing to music files located on websites throughout the Internet. Playlist.com's player allows you to stream the data in those music files.

Playlist.com isn't just about streaming music. The site also does what it can to support artists. If you find a song you like, you can legally--and easily--purchase it. (The site links principally to iTunes.) Playlist has a great video tutorial that tells exactly what Playlist.com all about. You can also read more about the company here.

I decided to have a go at creating my own playlist. I didn't have a lot of time (nap time is short around here) but here are ten songs I searched for and added...and I could have spent all day doing it so be forewarned. Playlist.com is addictive! Now it's your turn to create and share! --Emily


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FRS: it's all about healthy energy

It's another late night and I'm totally exhausted. Maybe that's why FRS popped into mind when thinking about a post for take it off tuesday. And because I'm so terribly tired I'm going to refer to the review I did on FRS for Boutique Cafe rather than writing a post completely from scratch. I just don't have it in me tonight, but this is a really great product for the energy-starved.

Here are the highlights from "FRS gives you energy without the post-energy crash:"

  • The FRS (Free Radical Scavenger) formula was created in 1997 after 7 years of research into the benefits of plant-based antioxidants on human health.
  • FRS Healthy Energy combines quercetin, which is a natural, powerful antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables, with 7 essential vitamins. “Quercetin helps extend your body’s natural energy and fight fatigue caused by oxidants that build up in your body from daily activity, exercise and stress.”
  • One can of FRS Healthy Energy has the same amount of flavonoid antioxidants as 3 servings of blueberries, 8 servings of red onions or 10 servings of raspberries.
  • FRS Healthy Energy comes in four different variations: cans, concentrate, powdered drink mix and soft chews. (The Low Cal Orange and Peach Mango concentrates are my favorites and though I didn’t have scientific research to back it up, I felt like I got the quickest energy boost from the concentrate.)
  • FRS can also enhance your focus and alertness and support overall weight management. My favorite use for FRS was to take it about 30 minutes before a workout so I not only had the energy to get on the treadmill but had the energy to exercise just a little harder (so I could have an extra Dove chocolate or two later).
  • Lance Armstrong recently joined FRS’ Board of Directors and chose FRS as the exclusive beverage he represents worldwide.

If you’re tired of the lows that come after the Diet-Coke-and-Halloween-candy high then you might want to learn a bit more about FRS Healthy Energy. It’s a tasty way to get your “daily allowance of enhanced mental focus, increased performance and the energy to keep you going”…and we could all use some of that! –Emily

Sunday, November 9, 2008

StartupPrincess: How to Get Media Coverage for Your Product

I promise I really do find some of these great mompreneur monday resources on my own, but when StartupPrincess has a great article, which they often do, I have to share. I have found their posts, interviews and articles informative, insightful and important for my business. (Ah, the power of alliteration!)

Take the article, "How to Get Media Coverage for Your Product" from Margie Zable Fisher of Zable Fisher Public Relations. Did you know there are only three steps in this process?

1. Have a great product.
2. Find the right media contact and make a great pitch.
3. Follow up.

Sounds easy but it's so much more involved than that. Take the first step--do you really and
truly have a great product? And if you do, can you sell it? That last question brings me back to the StartupPrincess TouchPoint conference I attended and the epiphany I had when I learned the importance of an elevator pitch, even if I weren't looking for outside funding.

Finding the right media contact isn't easy either. How do you sort through the lists and lists of contacts, from print media to online media? And making a great pitch is all about that 30-second elevator pitch...but tailored to your audience.

You'd think following up would be a no-brainer, but I know too many people who fail to do so. That's one thing I try to be good about, and though I've had the occasional contact not ever reply to my inquiries as to whether or not they received our product sample (not
going there in this post), following up has definitely paid off for our little company.

And that's just my take on the article. I didn't even begin to cover the nitty gritty on how to accomplish each step. If you want that you'll have to read the full article by Fisher on StartupPrincess. And then print it out and have it handy so you can reference it every time you make a pitch or plan a new product launch. Those three steps could be your guide for success. --Emily

Friday, November 7, 2008

chicken focaccia sandwiches and roasted red pepper & tomato soup

I love, love, LOVE soup and a sandwich for lunch. One of my favorite lunches is Paradise Bakery's vegetarian sandwich and a side of their Fire Roast Garlic Tomato soup. And just typing that makes me start craving it!

If you like a tasty, slightly gourmet sandwich and side of soup then you'll enjoy today's food for thought friday. I have a wonderful chicken focaccia sandwich recipe (super easy too!) and I'll fill you in on one of the yummiest, organic, off-the-shelf soups
out there.

Chicken Focaccia Sandwich
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
ground black pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T mayonnaise
2 tsp prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 c baby spinach leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced
8 slices garlic and rosemary focaccia bread

Sprinkle pepper on one side of each chicken cutlet. Heat oil in a large skillet; brown garlic in oil, then add chicken, pepper-side-down. Saute chicken until cooked through and juices run clear, about 12 to 15 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, mustard and rosemary. (If you don't have fresh rosemary it's still good!) Mix together and spread mixture on 4 slices focaccia bread. Place 1 chicken cutlet on each of these slices, then top with 1/4 cup spinach leaves, a couple slices of tomato, and another bread slice. Note: I found that with thicker foccacia, slicing it in half height-wise is the best way to go. Otherwise the sandwich is mostly bread!

For an even more gourmet sandwich, serve it with homemade focaccia bread (recipe below). I did and it was soooo yummy!


Emily's Favorite Focaccia
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 T active dry yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 T vegetable oil
1 c water
2 T olive oil
1 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 c mozzarella

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm. (Option: To do the dough in your bread machine, add the ingredients in the order listed by your machine and set on the dough cycle. It will rise longer than the recipe calls for but still turns out great! Follow the rest of the recipe to bake it.)

The soup I wanted to mention is our new favorite find from Costco. It's their Organic Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup from Pacific Natural Foods. It comes in a case of 6 cartons for I believe under $12. You can heat it on the stovetop or in the microwave. It was a wonderful flavor, is totally organic and fairly low calorie. Top with a few croutons and a drizzle of cream and your soup is as gourmet as your chicken sandwich!

"Avoid fruits and nuts. You are what you eat." --Jim Davis

Thursday, November 6, 2008

See Kai Run helps you "share a pair" for the holidays

What's hot? See Kai Run children's shoes (and their new Smaller line...see full "When 'smaller' is better" review on BoutiqueCafe.com).

What's hotter than that? Helping See Kai Run donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

See Kai Run, a company that designs he perfect first shoe for new walkers, has just kicked off its Share a Pair for the holiday season. For every pair of shoes sold at SeeKaiRun.com starting November 1st and ending December 31st, See Kai Run will match the sale with a donation to Soles4Souls. (Soles4Souls is an international charity dedicated to providing footwear to disadvantaged people around the world.)

Share a Pair is part of See Kai Run’s ongoing campaign to share its shoes with children who need them most. To date, See Kai Run has shared over 24,000 shoes with children in need.

Though I don't often need a good excuse to buy cute new shoes for my babies, it helps to have one if only to somewhat appease the guilt of satisfying wants rather than needs. See Kai Run's Share a Pair is definitely a cause worthy of my support...and yours! --Emily