Friday, February 27, 2009

TodaysMama: slow cookers make a comeback

I love my slow cooker, though I don't tell it that often enough. Actually, I don' t use it often enough. Every time I throw something in the slow cooker or try out a new recipe I think to myself, "Why don't I do this more often?" Usually the answer is because I don't think about putting something in there until 4:28pm, and by then it's way too late!

For today's food for thought friday I love this recent feature on TodaysMama, which highlights some Every Day with Rachael Ray recipes perfect for your slow cooker. The article has three tempting recipes: Turkey Meatballs in Paprika Tom
ato Sauce (don't try plating your dish on its side like the photo), Chianti-Braised Short Ribs and Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder. The one that tempts me the most is the turkey meatball one, so I've included it below. Enjoy!

Turkey Meatballs in Paprika Tomato Sauce
Photo by Sang An/Every Day with Rachael Ray
Serves: 6
Prep: 30 Min
Slow-Cook: 6 HR

Serve with spaghetti.

3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
One 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 T paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 c unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground dark meat turkey

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, 7 minutes. Transfer 1 1/3 cups of the onion mixture to a large bowl; let cool. Reserve the skillet.

Using a food processor, puree the tomatoes and roasted peppers. Add the puree to the skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the paprika and season with salt and pepper; transfer to a large slow cooker, cover and set to low temperature.
Whisk the breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into the remaining onion mixture. Mix in the turkey. Form 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Add the meatballs to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours.

Spaghetti

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook 1 pound of spaghetti until al dente. Drain, return to the pot and toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper.
"Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner." ~Sophia Loren

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The elemental side of social media

If you do the Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Digg or Twitter thing (or anything similar to those popular sites/applications) then you're involved in social media. What is social media? According to Wikipedia social media are "Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio." That pretty much means most everyone online these days is involved in social media in some form or another.

People can get pretty serious about this whole social media thing. Me? I try not to underestimate its power but I do tend to take it a little more lightly than others. I focus on the "social" aspect of social media rather than its far-reaching effects. For those like myself who look on the "light" side of social media you have to check out eyecube's "The Periodic Table of Social Media Elements." Even if you know nothing about this medium you'll still be able to appreciate the ingenuity behind this unique periodic table. It has just enough humor to make you laugh out loud and yet is nerdy enough to appeal to even the most technical of social media experts.

If you want to understand just what each element means you'll have to read the entire post. Rick, the post's author, provides a key for every element and shaded area on the table. My favorite are the elements that make up the
list of social media practices. I guarantee you'll be familiar with and have done at least half the practices on that list!

Though I would never have the time, energy or brainpower to create an original periodic table I am really glad some guy named Rick did or I might never have suffered from high-school chemistry flashbacks with a social media twist. I can think of no better way to spend a
that's hot! thursday! --Emily

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

EcoStiletto shows that "green" is the new black

Though I still have a long way to go I am trying to go green wherever and whenever I can. Yes, I have room for improvement (more like a 4-bedroom house) but every little bit helps and that's what I'm banking on. I'll be the first to admit my preconception about "going green" is probably not a fair one (cleaning products that don't really clean, an unsightly mini composter on my kitchen counter), but it is slowly changing as I come across more and more companies that are making going green a fashionable endeavor. Yes, "green" is slowly becoming the new black and sites like EcoStiletto are leading the movement.

EcoStiletto is an eco-friendly site geared toward women...but it's not
about vegan heels. Their tagline reads: "Stiletto-size your carbon footprint and change the world, one small step at a time." Some of you may not know what the term "carbon footprint" means. Here's what CarbonFootprint.com says:

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc.
Basically it's the effect your activities have on the environment. Going green is all about shrinking your carbon footprint and having as little negative effect on your surroundings as possible--at least that's my understanding.

But back to EcoStiletto. The site is all about changing your Ugg-boot-size carbon footprint to one that is either nonexistent or at the very least the tiniest of Manolo stilettos. The site features eco-friendly choices in a variety of areas including fashion, beauty, parenting and even entertainment. I love this quote from their About Us page:
We're not about guilt, we're about information. We're not about forcing you to change, we're about giving you alternatives. Because everyone wants to make a difference, but no one wants to give up the little things that we love. Making a difference doesn't have to mean making a huge change in your lifestyle. Sometimes it just means considering the alternatives.
Now that's sounds like change I can handle! Some of EcoStiletto's recent posts include Canopy Verde's eco-friendly bags, organic chocolate (I knew I loved this site!) and cool recycled toddler shoes from Pedoodles. One of my most favorite things is their Big List of Things That Suck, which highlights from A to Z things that are so not "green" (e.g., animal testing, BPAs, phthalates, and VOCs).

"EcoStiletto is for the woman who wants to do the right thing and still look good doing it." That quote comes courtesy of Kelly Rutherford from Gossip Girl. (I'm not into Gossip Girl but from what I gather, if Kelly endorses something it's worth taking note.) With EcoStiletto, going green has never looked so good! --Emily

Monday, February 23, 2009

This maven helps moms realize their entrepreneurial potential

Many of us (yes, I'm talking about me) wouldn't be where we are in our business without the help of fellow mompreneurs. One woman "helping moms get down to business" is Jill Salzman, a.k.a. The Momtrepreneur Maven.

Jill's first startup company was a lemonade stand at age six. Since then she's started various media companies including two magazines and music media company Paperwork Media. That was all before Jill's "biggest professional achievement to date: giving birth to a bab
y girl." Not surprisingly it wasn't long (only two months) before she started her next business, The Bumble Brand. That in turn led to the creation of other successful ventures. During this time of motherhood and mompreneurship Jill discovered many moms who had fabulous ideas of their own but didn't have the resources (time, help, experience) to launch their businesses.

That is when Jill became The Momtrepreneur Maven, a mom business owner with a mission of "helping other Mommies realize their full potential." Her blog features posts about successful mompreneur-owned businesses and all kinds of wonderful business-related advice. But it's not all work and no play; she also features recipes, craft ideas and a variety of less-business-more-mom posts.

But Jill doesn't just write about what you can do to get your business off the ground. She also wants to help! She offers one-on-one consulting, publicity and promotional services, product research, help with branding and social media and even a "Momtrepreneur Motivation Pacakge," which includes "legal logistics, business basics, web appearance, blogging, graphic design, photography and other aspects that every business needs." Now THAT is the mother of all mompreneur consulting services!


Some of The Momtrepreneur Maven is still a work in progress, but overall it's a very impressive site considering it's only been up and running since December 2008. Of course, having learned more about Jill, I'm not surprised. I can't wait to see what this maven does in the mompreneur world! --Emily

Friday, February 20, 2009

"The Fab Fifteen for Foodies" is one tasty post!

You will see me featuring posts from MomDot quite often. It's one of my favorite blogs and it always has great posts. For quite a few weeks now my food for thought friday posts have been actual recipes. It's about time I offered a side dish dedicated to some yummy food-related sites. Fortunately MomDot has already done a great job compiling a list of tasty sites, most of which I'd never heard about before. Nothing whets the appetite like discovering an array of new recipes!

In "The Fab Fifteen for Foodies" Victoria (from Life Starring Ellie and Eve) has compiled a list of fifteen fantastic foodie sites: "If you didn’t know, I love food…but since I am not a cook, the closest to gourmet we are going to have in my house are the pictures I can pull up on the Internet. So, who’s hungry?" (That would be me raising my hand in response to Victoria's question...)

It is totally worth your time to check out all fifteen sites. They are all very different, and we all know variety is the spice of life! Here are my favorites from the list:

  • A Year of Crockpotting--Yes, a crockpot recipe for every day of the year! (And no, I didn't know "crockpotting" was a word!)
  • Chocolate and Zucchini--Okay, I admit it. The main reason I love this site is its name. Chocolate zucchini brownies are one of my favorite desserts!
  • Lunch in a Box--Right now my kids' lunches are more "hot lunch from the cafeteria" rather than homemade, but I've always been intrigued by bentos and this site is a great resource.
Of course there are twelve others on the list, so visit them and see if any of them tempt your tastebuds. I'll get back to posting recipes next week. I have a few you just have to try! --Emily

"Most vegetables are something God invented to let women get even with their children. A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something brussels sprouts never do." ~P.J. O'Rourke

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Never Grew Up Birthday Bash--giveaways galore!

I only recently discovered I Never Grew Up--how did I go this long without subscribing to this fabulous blog? I met Vanessa when I participated in a focus group for Today's Mama; everyone there had asked if I'd seen her blog. I knew I was missing out if it were that popular! If you haven't heard about it then you've been missing out as well.

Vanessa, who was a nanny in Boston and Salt Lake for seven years before having her own children, started I Never Grew Up "to assist parents in everyday life." I feel having been a nanny and now a mom she is more than qualified to offer help with home education, finding--and buying--the best children's products and books, and spending time in nature. (I am determined to make it to one of her Nature Day outings!) She also blogs about healthy eating and being eco-friendly. Yes, it's a very well rounded blog!

This week she is celebrating I Never Grew Up's one-year birthday with a HUGE birthday bash! She has 10 fabulous giveaways right now on her blog, each and every one a must-have item. Me, I'm going for the Hoover Stick Vacuum!

You can see the full list of giveaways in her "Let the party begin!" post and enter as many as you'd like. Subscribe to her newsletter and you'll get 5 more entries; blog about it and you'll 10 more! Even if you don't win you'll have found a wonderful new blog and a lot of great tips and tricks for motherhood. So head over to I Never Grew Up and join the party! --Emily

More boutiques & more press--we're feelin' the love!

Even though Valentine's Day has come and gone (and so has the chocolate), we are still feeling the love here at georgie tees. We've added a few new online boutiques to our list of locations and had some great press. We kind of think all this love makes for a great that's hot! thursday post so check out the new boutiques and latest press coverage below. And if you don't think it's a great that's hot! thursday post, we have our fingers are in our ears while loudly saying "la la la la la la la" (i.e., we're not listening).

















"Can you imagine being pregnant when maternity clothes consisted of bows, giant polka dots and oh....the mumu dress?! GAH! Thankfully, maternity clothes have come a long way since then, and georgie tees makes maternity clothing hip with their cheeky t-shirts."


"georgie tees specializes in 'freshly baked style for bellies and babies,' which translates to
super cute maternity and infant t-shirts, and is owned by friends Emily & LeShan."


"Tired of the same uninteresting tee shirts? Are your maternity clothes giving you the blues?
Add some humor to your wardrobe and your baby’s too with numerous entertaining fashion and selection from georgie tees. ..."


EA: "What has been the greatest success you’ve had so far in your business?"
Emily: "For us it is when we hear
complete strangers comment on our tees–or complete strangers wearing our tees!"

To view our entire list of locations you can visit our locations page on our website. For past press coverage or to view our press kit (it still needs a little updating so give us a few days), visit our press page. Thanks for letting us toot our own horn once again. We promise not to do it too often! --Emily

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's all this about Facebook being forever?

Thank heavens for Twitter for without it I might miss a lot of things (haiku via a tweet is the best!). For example, I had no inkling of the recent uproar caused by Facebook's change in its membership policy. Heck, I didn't even know Facebook changed its policy! But apparently the company has and the new policy basically states they have a right to whatever you post, upload, write, do on Facebook indefinitely even if you deactivate the account. You read that right, indefinitely. (Sometimes it's not a wonderful web wednesday, is it?)

In FOXNews.com's recent article "Facebook Membership May Be Forever," they highlight the disturbing part of the new policy:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."

And yes, you read that right too. Apparently Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted his defense of the change on his blog earlier this week and while it makes sense...I guess...it still makes many Facebook users a tad uneasy. The article goes on to talk more about what the new terms mean and a bit more about Zuckerberg's defense.

Another really great article is InternetNews' "Facebook Must Rethink TOS Stance" in which it brings in a few experts to discuss the issues related to the change in policy.
"As I read it, the TOS gives them the right to do whatever they want to with user's content," social media consultant Paul Gillin told InternetNews.com.

"This is like Google saying, 'Anything you post to Blogger belongs to us'. If Google or Wordpress did that, there'd be a massive revolt," said Gillin, who writes the weekly Paul Gillin's Social Media Report newsletter. "Facebook has got to change this."

Momlogic had something to say as well in its post "Does Facebook Own You...and Your Kids?" Sometimes the comments are even more interesting than the post itself! It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Never underestimate the power of Facebook users, Twitterers and bloggers!

What are your thoughts on Facebook's new policy? Did you know about it? Will you pull your remove your account? Or do you even care? --Emily

Photo by Carlo Nicora, shared via Flickr.

***UPDATE***

Apparently Zuckerberg has been made well aware of the dislike for his new membership policy. When I logged on to Facebook this morning this was at the top of the page:
Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Someone's listening somewhere. It will be interesting to see how the new new policy will read. Let's hope they do a better job the second time around!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Saving money is more stylish than ever!

In today's economy it's all about saving money. Fortunately I've never been a full-price shopper so buying things on sale, and especially clearance, comes naturally. Sometimes it takes a bit of patience while you wait for that must-have sweater to go on sale. And once in a while I experience the pain of disappointment when the skirt I want is sold out by the time I am ready to buy it. But I get over it quickly as I look for the next great deal. That's not to say you shouldn't pay full price for a high-quality wardrobe staple (or a fabulous and comfy pair of heels), but most of the time paying full price is just plain silly.

Fortunately for us a lot of retailers are cutting prices more often and by a higher percentage as they too feel the crunch of the economy. I swear Old Navy, Gap, Gymboree, Esprit, The Children's Place and many others are sending me more emails than ever about special sales and markdowns. Anyone else noticing their Inbox filling up rather quickly? In the spirit of saving and on this
fashion trend tuesday, I thought I'd share my recent budget-friendly purchases. (Just don't tell my husband; he doesn't know about all of these...yet.)

Victoria's Secret Hooded Pajama set (Not exactly what my husband had in mind and for some reason it doesn't look that sexy on a normal person like me...)

$19.99 regularly $39.50






Victoria's Secret Empire-Waist Wool Coat (This isn't the exact coat; perhaps they've already sold out. Mine is a similar style but hip length.)

$99 regulary $148 (mine was $65 regularly about $125)






New James Jeans via ebay (I love ebay for designer denim. Just make sure you go by measurements--waist, rise, inseam--and not size!)

$19.98
regularly $100+


Anthropologie Frosted Sigh Blouse (I justified this purchase because I had a $20 gift card--thanks, Bri!)

$59.95 regularly $118

Have you found any great deals in the past few weeks? Do you have any favorite websites and/or blogs you watch for upcoming deals and specials? We'd love to know! --Emily

Monday, February 16, 2009

Missed BlissDom 09? Here's a great recap!

When I first heard about BlissDom 09 I felt like I didn't really need to go since blogging wasn't my main focus. Though I write for Boutique Cafe and Polliwogged, I am just one of a few contributing writers. And freshly baked is simply an extension of georgie tees. But the closer it got to BlissDom '09 and the more I saw my Twitter friends tweeting about it, the more I wished I had heard about it sooner, made the effort to find a few babysitters, booked a flight and attended one of the best women's blogging/networking/socializing conferences ever. I have already put BlissDom '10 on my list of must-do things for next year!

For those of us who didn't attend, today's mompreneur monday features a fantastic post from BlogCoach highlighting Ten Take-Away Tips from BlissDom 09. (The post makes me feel like I kind of had my own personal note-taker at the conference.) It's a wonderful wrap-up of what I'm sure was an information-packed (and party-packed) event. Though you really must read all ten tips, here are my three favorites:

  • Community isn't just a bonus aspect of blogging; it is CENTRAL to blogging.
  • Carrying an "idea book" allows you to jot down post ideas before you forget them.
  • It's completely okay not to post every day.
I especially love that last one. Bloggers, including myself, often feel a great amount of pressure to post every day, but sometimes life happens and blog posts don't happen. I know I've been there and felt guilty all day for not posting. I will no longer do so!

If you want to read more about BlissDom '09 and all the fabulous information gained by attendees, just do a search and you'll find a plethora of posts about the conference. BlissDom '09 has come and gone but it's not too early to look ahead to next year. Hope to see you there! --Emily

Friday, February 13, 2009

orange blueberry scones & creamy chicken noodle soup

Okay, so those two recipes aren't meant to be served together but I'm posting both of them on today's food for thought friday anyway because I tried each one for the first time this past week and loved them. If I didn't post them today I'd totally forget about them and you'd miss out on two very yummy recipes!

The orange blueberry scones were originally lemon blueberry but I only had oranges on hand so I improvised. (I found this recipe when looking for some way to use up the Costco-size bag of dried blueberries no one was eating.) I think the result was even better than expected! They were tasty served with scrambled eggs and bacon. (I love the large Costco bag of precooked bacon pieces. Just whisk your eggs with some milk then throw in the bacon and some pepper. Scramble and voila! Breakfast is served!)

The creamy chicken noodle soup is my good friend Kim's sister's recipe. It was a hit with the family and made a TON. The original recipe did not have the basil and oregano but it needed a little something for flavor. The added spices were perfect! Also, on the roux I used the soup base/broth to thin the roux rather than milk before adding it back into the pot. I also suggest cooking the noodles even more firm than al dente so they don't get too soggy in the soup. That or wait until the very last minute to add them. Lastly, I found my crock pot was too small f
or the soup so I transferred it to a large pot on the stove when it came time to add the cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk. Just FYI!

Orange Blueberry Scones
3 c self-rising flour (see recipe below)
1/2 c plus 1 1/2 T sugar
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 c dried wild blueberries (about 10 ounces)
1 c plus 1 T buttermilk
1 1/2 T finely grated orange peel

Self-rising flour
3 c flour
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 T salt

Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk self-rising flour and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl. Using fingertips, rub in chilled butter until pieces are size of small peas. Add dried wild blueberries and toss to coat.

Mix 1 cup buttermilk and finely grated lemon peel in glass measuring cup. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until dough begins to form (some of flour will not be incorporated). Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and gather together. Knead dough briefly, about 5 turns. Divide dough in half. Form each dough half into ball and flatten into 1-inch-thick disk. Cut each disk into 6 wedges.

Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until scones are golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.


Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
3 frozen chicken breasts (a great way to use your Costco chicken!)
3 14-oz. cans chicken broth
2 c carrots, sliced
2 c celery, chopped
1/2 an onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can evaporated milk
4 c cooked egg noodles (add last)
1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
Milk to thin to desired consistency

Using a large crock pot put chicken breasts and chicken broth in crock pot. Heat on high until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken and cut into cubes. Put chicken back in crock pot and add carrots, celery and onion. Cook on high until veggies are tender. Add cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk; cook on low until ready to serve. On the stove top, make a roux with butter, flour and milk (or soup base). Add this to the crock pot mixture. Cook noodles separately. Add to crock pot 30 minutes before serving (or wait a little longer than that!).
"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." ~Harriet van Horne

Thursday, February 12, 2009

my interview on Ecopreneur Avenue

A little while ago we featured Tees for Change on one of our fashion trend tuesdays. Andreea Ayers, the founder of Tees for Change, discovered our little post, discovered our tees and then asked us for an interview. We couldn't have been more flattered! We love her company and her new blog Ecopreneur Avenue.

Ecopreneur Avenue is a way for Andreea to "share her experience of being an eco-entrepreneur and a mom-entrepreneur." The blog provides business resources, interviews, product reviews and a wealth of info for entrepreneurs. We were really excited to see my interview on such an awesome site! I was asked questions about why we started the business, the challenges of owning a business, what advice we have for other entrepreneurs and what a typical day is like for me ("typical"...now that's funny!).

I'd love for you to check out Ecopreneur Avenue, and not just to read the interview. The site really is a wonderful one and provides a great resource for mompreneurs. She even has links to DIY PR resources--when you're an entrepreneur on a budget, it's all about DIY! I am not surprised Andreea has done such a fantastic job with it; she's doing a fabulous job with Tees for Change! --Emily

excellent Etsy find: HELICOPTER studios

I am so glad I subscribe to Cool Mom Picks' daily feed or I might not have discovered today's excellent Etsy find. Cool Mom Picks recently featured HELICOPTER studios and the shop's wonderful line of toys disguised as works of art.

The woman behind HELICOPTER studios is Shannon Duffy, who like many Etsy designers, created the first Discovery Tote for her family. I'm sure once others saw the fabulous totes word quickly spread and the result is her cute Etsy shop. Each wonderfully imaginative tote is one of a kind. They are hand stitched with different scenes and include pieces that actually move so children can let their imagination run wild. Now that's my kind of toy!

One of my favorite totes is the Fishing Tote. The fuchsia pom pom trim is to die for! The tote opens to a fuchsia polkadot fabric and three little fish. The fish are magnetic and can be picked up with the magnetic fishing pole. Everything folds up flat in the handy tote. Genius! I'm loving the idea of taking this on a road trip so I don't have to hear Animal Crossing music for hours on end.

My other favorite Discovery Totes from HELICOPTER studios are the Cars, Nest and A Day at the Beach totes. In fact, I love them all! Good luck deciding just which one to buy! --Emily

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make and Takes: cute blog, cute crafts & great ideas!

It's wonderful web wednesday and I have a wonderful blog for you. Make and Takes, a blog with "ideas & crafty tidbits for home, family & fun," is full of so many fun ideas and crafts you'll have to schedule them on the calendar to make sure you do them all!

I was lucky enough to meet Marie, the woman behind the blog, at a focus group for Today's Mama back in January. She has just as much energy in person as her blog gives off virtually! Marie is a stay-at-home mom with a teaching degree in Early Childhood & Elementary Education. She taught four years of kindergarten, and though she misses the classroom she now brings the fun and learning into her home. Her children serve has guinea pigs for a lot of her projects so you're sure to see them in many of her posts. Check out her picture--what a cute family!

I haven't been a Make and Takes subscriber for long but I am loving it so far. Take Marie's Scrabble tile pendant tutorial. I've always loved those tiles on Etsy and after reading her how-to I'm thinking even I, the non-crafty one, could make a few as gifts. I've also heard about turning your broken crayons into super cool "new" crayons. She has a post on that as well but now you can watch step-by-step how to make your own set of recycled chunky crayons. But it's not all paper and glue. Marie also features some great recipes on her blog, like this recent one for rosemary peasant bread.

I know, I know, you're thinking you already subscribe to a few too many blogs but do they tell you how to make semi-homemade donuts or the most darling and easy baby burp cloths? I didn't think so. If I'm recommending a crafty how-to site, you better believe it's a good one! --Emily

Photos from the Make and Takes website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

why 13 is your lucky number

Today your lucky number is 13. You can go ahead and change it tomorrow but for take it off tuesday, stick with 13. Why? Because that is the number of things you probably never knew about your weight. In a recent Reader's Digest article appropriately titled "13 Things You Never Knew About Your Weight" (see how well that fits into today's subject?) Joanne Chen throws out some pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises about the ins and outs of weight loss and fitness. The article is worth a full read but for those wrapping up their 10-minute coffee hot chocolate break, here's the Cliff's Notes version:

  1. Yes, genetics have something to do with it. (Ever heard of the fat gene?)
  2. It's all in the number--and size--of fat cells. (Some people even have twice as many!)
  3. Rev up your metabolism! (Yes, you can change it.)
  4. Stress = weight gain. (For me it's a more complicated equation: stress = chocolate + bread - fruits - veggies - sleep = weight gain.)
  5. Too much weight gain during pregnancy doesn't help. (Try telling that to a woman craving a Big Mac--who the heck cares?)
  6. Sleep has something to do with it. (Sleep, what's that?)
  7. Your spouse has something to do with it as well. (For better or for worse...)
  8. A virus can do more than cause unwanted phlegm.
  9. Dessert and dopamine. (Need I say more?)
  10. Tainted taste buds, who knew?
  11. Antioxidants are your friends. (Just say "no" to free radicals!)
  12. Moderation, not deprivation, is the key. (From Atkins to South Beach, diet gurus agree.)
  13. Size might not matter. (When it comes to being physically fit, of course.)
Though the list was long I highly doubt you were bored while reading it. When you read "13 Things You Never Knew About Your Weight," you'll feel the same way. Though I already knew 5 of the 13, I learned a lot about the remaining 8. If you have any other items to add to the list, we'd love to hear about it! --Emily

Monday, February 9, 2009

mom blogs can make money? really?!?

According to"Mom Blogs and Making Money," a recent post by Trisha from MomDot, yes they can, which is great news for a lot of blogging moms. On one hand you have the moms who've been blogging for a while, still waiting for their first AdSense payment. On the other you have moms toying with the idea of starting a blog, wondering if it could really pay for their child's college tuition. (By the way, unless you're super famous that probably won't happen.)

But blogger beware. Starting or even continuing to blog with the sole purpose of making money is quite possibly
the biggest mistake you can make:

If you totally encompass your blog with making money, when your adsense rolls in to be about 1 penny a month, you’re going to cry yourself to sleep at night. That leads to poor morale and you will quit before you started. Right? Right.

The article goes on to talk about
three very important steps a mom blogger must take in order to achieve achieve a measure of financial success with her blog:
  1. Have a goal
  2. Build good content, build a following and market your blog
  3. Market yourself, not your blog
The first step sounds simple, but it's not as simple as it looks. What really is your goal? What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? And steps two and three require a lot of work on your part. Fortunately Trisha goes into detail about the different ways you can market your blog and get the word out about you and your content. "Mom Blogs and Making Money" is a must-read for all bloggers regardless if you have offspring or not. I'd even suggest reading through it two or three times. I've read through it once and still have much to learn from Trisha's post.

"Mom Blogs and Making Money" is a wonderful guide even if you've been blogging for years. It's also a great action plan and source of hope for those of us still wondering if our writing will ever do more than take up space on a page! --Emily

Friday, February 6, 2009

my love affair with chocolate

Do I have a love affair with chocolate? Yes. Yes, I do. And I was able to write about it for Mom It Forward. It's not often you are asked to tell the world about a love affair so I took full advantage of the opportunity. Once it was out there I felt like the giant weight of secrecy had been lifted from my shoulders. Whew! No more hiding secret stashes of Oreos and dark chocolate in the topmost cupboard.

If you'd like a fun little read for today I would love you to check out my guest post, "Do you have a love affair with chocolate?" on Mom It Forward. Feel free to comment on it as well; admitting you have an addiction is the first step in recovery... --Emily

P.S. Don't go looking for my secret stash--I've moved it since I posted the article.

Photo by Coolmitch, shared via Flickr.

lemon cookies, blackberry cobbler and zucchini brownies

Today's food for thought friday post is the last in the bake-off series. I think that makes about 5 or so posts with three recipes each for a grand total of around 15 tasty recipes from the women in my neighborhood. Have you tried one yet? I hope so! If not, today's lemon cookie recipe is super easy so you have no excuse not to try it. If you don't have lemon cake mix and frosting on hand you better stock up--these cookies are tasty! The blackberry cobbler is perfect paired with vanilla bean ice cream, and I've probably posted my zucchini brownie recipe before but it's so totally worth posting again. Happy baking!

Easy Lemon Cookies
1 pkg. lemon cake mix
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 container lemon frosting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. In large bowl mix cake mix, oil and eggs until dough forms. On cookie sheet drop dough by teaspoonfuls. Bake about 8 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool completely. Frost with lemon frosting. Makes about 4 dozen. (I told you it was easy!)


Wintertime Blackberry Cobbler
Butter
2 c plus 2 T Bisquick
1 1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c milk
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 (16-oz) pkg. frozen blackberries, thawed
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9" square baking pan with butter and set aside. Place 2 c Bisquick, 1/2 c sugar, egg, milk, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork until blended. Set aside.

Place the blackberries with their juice, the remaining Bisquick and all but a heaping tablespoon of the sugar in a large mixing bowl and sir to combine. Spoon the berry mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Spoon the cobbler topping over the berries in dollops. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the cobbler.

Bake the cobbler until the filling is bubbling and the topping has browned, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream. 8-9 servings.


Zucchini Brownies
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 c shredded zucchini
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Frosting
6 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c margarine
2 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven or until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares. (Note: these are so good you might eat the whole pan, but at least you'll be getting your daily dose of veggies!)
"I don't cry over spilt milk, but a fallen scoop of ice cream is enough to ruin my whole day. ~The Quote Garden

Thursday, February 5, 2009

from prom date to exhibiting artist

When an old (okay, we're not that old...yet) high school friend turns out to be a fantastically amazing artist, I find that the perfect subject for a that's hot! thursday post. Though I was looking far from hot in our prom picture David Lindsay looked rather dapper in his tux...and we did have a really fun time. Over sixteen years later we have reconnected via Facebook, and after a couple wall posts I discovered my good friend now has exhibits from Oregon to Italy.

When I first browsed some of his work online I was left speechless--and that's happens only rarely. I wish I could speak intelligently about his artwork and exhibitions but art was never one of my strong subjects. (Actually, it was never really a subject at all.) For those who know a bit about it, here is David's take on his work:

My work focuses on the interaction between images of the human form and the structured, three-dimensional surfaces upon which the figures are depicted. ... This visual relationship speaks of the push and pull between perception/identity of the individual perceived. Creating this type of metaphorical relationship allows me to explore ideas about how we depict and perceive ourselves within a vast, complexly structured society.
I would love to say more about his work but I could never do it justice; you'll just have to see it for yourself. --Emily

excellent Etsy find: LeatherPrince Shop

It's been a while since my last excellent Etsy find. To tell you the truth I just plum forget about it come Wednesday night. My brain checks out for the weekend by then and it's all downhill from there. But I'm determined to get back into the habit and I have a great Etsy shop for you today.

LeatherPrince Shop offers the cutest hand-cut and hand-stitched designs by Beon and Candy, a husband and wife team. Beon, from Singapore, and Candy, from Taiwan, love working with colorful leather and enjoy making items together. (I wish I could learn how to work well alongside my husband, but that's another post.)

Most of their collection is made up of key chains though they do offer a few purses, iPod (LOVE the Taka Ninja in red) holders and coin pouches. Of the 118 key chains your bound to find one or two (or five) that strike your fancy. I'm lovin' Fiona the Owl and Ronnie the Raccoon and their juicy red apple key chain would make a wonderful end-of-the-school-year teacher gift. And they take custom orders, so if you'd prefer a hot pink ninja you need only ask! --Emily

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

love and chocolate

I am really trying hard to get a new post up every weekday but some days you're going to have to settle for a lame post like this one or no post at all. That's just how life works around here. I would love to have a bit more time to treat you to a true wonderful web wednesday post but instead I am spending the rest of my evening writing my guest post for Mom It Forward. The title? "Do you have a love affair with chocolate?" Writing a wonderful web wednesday post or writing about chocolate? wonderful web wednesday or chocolate? Not the hardest decision I've ever made!

I believe the post will go live this Friday while the Mom It Forward women are attending BlissDom. (Wish I were going but my husband still doesn't get this whole social media/networking thing and I doubt he'd like me heading back east for a women-only blogging-related conference.) I'll be sure and link to it if it does. The Diet Coke and chocolate are kicking in so I'm off and writing! Have a great Wednesday--and may it be filled with lots and lots of chocolate! --Emily

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

cheeky & swank: the perfect combination

I much prefer doing a take it off tuesday than a fashion trend tuesday. Exercise and fitness is much more my thing than the latest styles and trends but since my brownie, bread and Oreo diet isn't having the desired effects I'm not feeling the fitness thing this week. What I am feeling is super cute styles for parents and baby, and that's what Cheeky & Swank is all about!

Cheeky & Swank, a company "for cheeky kids & swank parents," has something for everyone, from bibs and burp cloths for baby to stylish tees and bags for moms and dads. One of my favorite items is their Magna-Bib. Kind of sounds like a superhero, doesn't it? And it just might be with its high-temperature, special magnets hidden in the neck. The magnetic closure means no scratchy Velcro and no snagged tights coming out of washer or dryer. Velcro is probably my least favorite. The tie-on bib is a step above because it stays secure but it can be quite the battle trying to tie it on a very hungry, very squirmy baby. I love the idea of a bib with a magnetic closure. Thank you, Cheeky & Swank!

Beyond bibs the company also has a beautiful collection of blankets, burp cloths and slings. And let's not forget about those swank parents! I absolutely love their Blushing Bird and Madame Butterfly tees for Mom and Owl messenger bag. Their tees for Dad are pretty cool too (the V-Dub long-sleeve is my fave). Oh, and I forgot to mention their cute line of apparel for kids. I just might have to purchase the Miss Peacock smocked top for my little girl. So sweet!

In our house being cheeky will either get you in trouble (those over the age of 8) or make Mom & Dad laugh (those under the age of 4). And style has nothing to do with it. If you're looking for that perfect combination you'll want to check out Cheeky & Swank. They've got it down perfectly! --Emily