Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I need the Hoover Stick Vacuum

MomDot's America's Next Top Blogger is down to the final three, and today's challenge is to beg, grovel, whine--whatever it takes--to fabulous, wonderful Toni from The Mud Bug. The winner receives not only Toni's undying devotion (okay, that wasn't part of the rules but it sounds pretty good!) but the new Hoover Stick Vacuum. Here is my entry, and if you know my kids you know this video only scrapes the surface of the need for this vacuum in my home!

A few notes for you, Toni, since I didn't have time to edit this into the video:

George's preschool friends (unbeknownst to them) are helping me with this competition. They performed these special circus numbers this morning just for you!

  • In the first song they're telling you how many days a week I'll use this vacuum (it's more like hourly rather than daily).
  • In the second song they're telling me to NEVER GIVE UP!
  • In the third song George is jumping for joy that I found you and The Mud Bug!
  • In the fourth George is literally jumping through hoops to help his mom win this competition!
  • And the last part shows how my fate hangs in the "balance" depending on your decision.
The rest of the video is pretty self-explanatory! Don't let the 9-minute length scare you. I promise it will fly by--my kids are hilarious and they don't even try! Enjoy! --Emily



P.S. Pick me! Pick me!

Follow that blog: The Mud Bug

We have a full that's hot! thursday for you today with another post (and one soon to follow with the best entry for the latest ANTB HOH competition!). Along with making friends with some fabulous new women I've been introduced to some new blogs like Life Starring Ellie and Eve, which I featured yesterday. Today I have another fab blog for you: The Mud Bug.

The Mud Bug
, named after Toni's little boy, features a variety of topics, reviews, giveaways along with parenting advice, recipes and fun insights into the author's family life. With five children I'm amazed at what she accomplishes with her blog! How does she find the time to do it all?!?! Here's a bit about Toni from Toni herself:

As for me, I love to laugh, play with my children and read (although not much time lately for this). I am a very giving person. To me, blogging is relaxing. I get excited when writing a blog post, review, etc. because I know that I am able to give to my readers.

Show this babe of a blogger some comment love by visiting her site, subscribing to her newsletter and/or her RSS feed and returning here to let us know you did.

Though you should do it out of the goodness of your heart, we'll sweeten the suggestion by offering a special code for
30% off
at georgietees.com to everyone who comments below!


Now hurry! Go follow The Mud Bug blog! --Emily

MomDot's "31 Bloggers in 31 Days" blog party!

What's hot this that's hot! thursday? A huge blog party from MomDot. MomDot knows how to throw a party and their upcoming one for May is going to be HUGE! Trisha, MomDot's resident blogging femme fatale, is turning 31 and to celebrate the big 3-1, 31 bloggers are hosting 31 giveaways. That's one giveaway a day for every one of Trisha's 31 years. And the grand prize is this ginormous, fabulous swingset:

For more details on 31 Bloggers in 31 Days you can check out the blog party post here. You can also show Trisha some birthday love by snagging one of the banners and posting it on your site or blog. By the way, the main banner featured in the blog party post (pictured here in this post) is one I created for America's Next Top Blogger. Of course it's my personal favorite but I will let you decide which one to post on your site without the fear of eviction.

So join in the fun, make some new blogging friends and enter for your chance to win some fabulous prizes. What I want to know is, who gets to give Trisha her 31 spankings?!?! Guess we should leave that to her husband... Party on! --Emily

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Follow that blog: Life Starring Ellie and Eve

Sorry for not posting yesterday but I'm still recovering from an exhausting week. I have that exhausting-week hangover and it's not going anywhere anytime soon! But for today's wonderful web wednesday I did want to feature a fun blog I discovered while participating in MomDot's America's Next Top Blogger (just one of the perks of being part of a virtual reality show).

Life Starring Ellie and Eve is written by Victoria Arya, a fierce online competitor multitasking stay-at-home mom who can be found in numerous places in the blogosphere. You'll have to read her professional bio--I lost track of all the blogs for which she writes!

Life Starring Ellie and Eve features reviews of fun, cool and trendy gear for babies, kids and moms. It also features glimpses into Victoria's life chasing after her two little girls. As her headers says, she's "one cool momma with a lot to say." Life Starring Ellie and Eve has fabulous giveaways, resources for moms and other fun features. It's a lot to take in but totally worth it!

You can never have enough review-filled, giveaways-galore, total-mom-humor blogs on your RSS feed so add Life Starring Ellie and Eve if it's not there already! --Emily

Monday, April 27, 2009

Add a nav bar to your Blogger blog!

Thanks to BlogCoach, a super fabulous resource for bloggers, I now have a sweet little nav bar at the top of this blog. Just look up--you can see for yourself! I discovered how to do create this Blogger hack from a recent post under BlogCoach's "Grow Your Blog" tools.

The post refers to Beautiful Beta's "Adding a menubar to your blog." The hack requires a little copying and pasting but it's not too difficult. NOTE: I did have to go in and define a couple variables in my template's HTML. If you receive an error message that reads something like "headerTextColor not defined" or "headerCornersColor" not defined, try pasting the following just below /* Variable definitions toward the top of your HTML:

<variable default="#fff" description="Header Corners Color" name="headerCornersColor" type="color" value="#ffcc66">
<variable default="#666" description="Header Text Color" name="headerTextColor" type="color" value="#666666">

You can change the default and value colors to whatever you'd like using Webmonkey's Color Charts for your hex code.

BlogCoach also gives a few helpful tips for changing the look of your nav bar (e.g. left versus right align and spacing). You won't see the nav bar until you go back into your Layout &gt; Page Elements view and edit it by adding a few links. Once you have a link or two you can preview your blog and see if you like it. I found adding a space and the "|" after each link broke it up a bit and added a nice touch, but feel free to be creative!

Remember to download a copy of your template to your desktop before proceeding with any changes. That way if you get in too deep or mess up the CSS you can at least revert to your original template. Murphy's Law says if you don't save it, you'll need it! Have fun! --Emily

Do you have any other widgets or hacks you've incorporated in your blog?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Everybody loves a crisp dollar bill!

In the ongoing saga that is my ANTB life, we have a quirky-yet-fun HOH challenge this weekend. The latest from Trisha and America's Next Top Blogger is to give a crisp $1 bill to whomever needs/deserves/wants it the most!

In this economy, who doesn't need a little extra spending money? With your new dollar bill you could buy a pack of gum (to help you keep your mouth shut when a new bailout bill is passed), a McDouble (the best way to drown economic sorrow is with grease and fat) or even a your own set of play dollar bills (so you can fake being rich). The possibilities are endless!

Kim from What's That Smell? has already left her story and it could be hard to beat, but I know our freshly baked readers have just as much, if not more, imagination that that! The ANTB competition will be over soon and I'm jonesing for the win, so help me out by leaving a comment telling Trisha why YOU deserve her crisp $1 bill. If you win she'll send you her dollar--just don't spend it all in one place.

Remember to say Emily sent you--if you win, I win--and comment before Monday morning! And life this competition is really all about being the last blogger standing! --Emily

The Pioneer Woman & creamed spinach

The Pioneer Woman, where have you been all my life?!?! I recently discovered this blog and it quickly and swiftly moved into my top ten faves. This woman (aka Ree Drummond) is amazing! She's so good at so many things you almost want to hate her...but you can't, especially when you catch a glimpse of her, her family and her life on the ranch.

If you haven't yet found her blog, don't waste another minute--visit it immediately
(after reading this post of course)! You will laugh, you will wonder, you will find a renewed desire to entertain and enjoy life.

One of my favorite sections of the site is The Pioneer Woman Cooks. (Okay, all sections are my favorite sections but it's food for thought friday so we'll stay focused!) This part of the site features fabulous recipes and photos with step-by-step instructions that even the most inexperienced cook can follow.

And how do I know her recipes are good? Not because of the hundreds of comments each one receives, no; rather it's because her recipe "Creamed Spinach to Die For" actually made me crave cooked spinach! I don't do cooked spinach but I'm thinking of braving it and all because of The Pioneer Woman. And the photos? Beautiful and no less than 30 for just this one recipe!

I was going to re-post the recipe here but I would in no way do it justice without posting all 30-something photos. You'll have to visit The Pioneer Woman Cooks and read it in all its creamy green glory for yourself. While there spend some time drooling over her other recipes and non-food-related musings. You won't be alone. Judging by the over 15,000 comments her recent KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer giveaway received, she's pretty popular on and off the ranch! --Emily

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Anne Taintor is my kind of humor!

It's been a while since I've done a that's hot! thursday post but my recent Daily Dish review on Anne Taintor's vintage-style, humor-infused products gave me the perfect excuse to do another one. Haven't heard of Anne Taintor? Then let me fill you in! Below is my review of what will soon be your go-to gift for female family members and friends alike. Say hello to Anne Taintor!

Anne TaintorTo be honest I wouldn't know if it's actually better than Prozac since I've never taken the stuff. Apparently I should be on it or something similar since Utah is the nation's top offender when it comes to prescription medication abuse...but I digress as I usually do. My point is, if you're an overworked, overstressed, over-housewifed, under- appreciated or occasionally disenchanted woman (or all of the above) then you'll totally get--and love--the Anne Taintor humor. And yes, this laughter is better than any medicine!

Anne Taintor "is the Original Vintage Humor Company"--and I believe it! The products feature a collage with a Taintorette (based on old black-and-white vintage photos of women) and a smart and sassy (and sometimes naught) phrase. I received one of their eco-friendly shopper bags (not yet on the site) and a note set. The shopper's tagline? "The secret ingredient was resentment." The punchline on the note set? "Stop me before I volunteer again." Now THAT one is one of my favorites--and I'm sure you're smiling by now too!

Anne TaintorThe Anne Taintor product line includes everything from compact cases, luggage tags and pill boxes to notepads, sticky notes and file folders like the one I have on my desk: "The day was in dire need of a Ctrl+Alt+Delete." If you want to laugh for ten minutes straight, pick up an Anne Taintor catalog. I kid you not, I read that thing like it was a Far Side book! And every time I laughed out loud I'd have to tell my husband the latest Taintorette who had me doubled over. (I think he tuned me out after the fifth TV interruption but I kept on reading!)

One of my favorite features on the Anne Taintor site is "Find Your Favorite Taintorette." It's an easy way to see which products are available in your favorite laugh-out-loud sayings. Pretty much every Taintorette has a special place in my heart (I swear I could be BFFs with most of them) but here are my top five:

  • "I believe we have an opportunity to make some extremely poor choices"
  • "Together, we will own your grandparents"
  • "If by 'happy' you mean trapped with no means of escape...? Then yes, I'm happy"
  • "Male refrigerator blindness claims another victim"
  • "Damn straight I keep score"

Anne TaintorAnd those are only five out of about 100 different Taintorettes! What a really love about Anne Taintor is the universal humor. I'm sure you can relate to at least a dozen Taintorettes and know sisters, moms and girlfriends that can relate to another dozen or so. With so many products from which to choose, you have a gift perfect for every woman on your list! Mother's Day is just around the corner, and nothing says motherhood like a "Remember sweetheart... Mommy loves you, but she doesn't have to like you" magnet! --Emily

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

O Easter tree, O Easter tree!

Service is always important and especially so in an economic time like ours. There is no better way to forget yourself, your worries and your pity party than by serving others. And in today's world of "entitled" children, there's no better time for teaching our families the importance of service. It is an easy and wonderful way to remind them what's really important is not what you have but what you can give.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of Mom It Forward's service projects. On March 28, 2009 Mom It Forward joined with Make and Takes to host a family-friendly service project benefiting The Christmas Box House in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Christmas Box House provides "greatly enhanced services to abused and neglected children and reflects a statewide model for delivery of best practice assessment and treatment services to victims of child abuse."

Inside the home is a large Christmas tree, which groups and individuals newly
decorate each month. We had the month of April so a group of moms and children arrived on Saturday morning ready to craft! Marie from Make and Takes came with an arsenal of craft supplies provided by Provo Craft. We created tissue-paper chicks, paper Easter eggs, wooden Easter ornaments, tissue-paper flowers, styrofoam bunnies and various springtime pipe-cleaner designs.

Once our crafters were done crafting we carried the decorations to the tree and all the children helped
strategically place them on the branches. (Okay, not so strategically but the effect was no less stunning!) The tree went from forlorn to fantastic in record time and the effect was very refreshing. Our kids gave that tree the Easter-y pick-me-up it needed!

After all our hard work glueing, taping, twisting and coloring we enjoyed the most decadent, scrumptious mini cupcakes from Cupcake Chic. I think I sampled all four flavors; my favorite were the ones that tasted like orange rolls--to die for! (A big thank-you to Cupcake Chick for donating the goodies...they were a huge hit!)

We had a really enjoyable time getting together with old friends, making new ones and thinking about someone other than ourselves for once. We are already looking forward to the next Mom It Forward service project. Until then we'll enjoy watching the slideshow from this one! --Emily

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

HELP! Vote Victoria and AJ ASAP! (8am central)

Looks like those long legs in the Britney Spears photo got me in trouble with the latest America's Next Top Blogger challenge winner, Miss Blondie. I am now on the block and up for eviction. Please DON'T vote for me since you're voting for who will be EVICTED, but please do vote for Victoria and AJ. They definitely need to go! Victoria saved me once, I saved her once...all's fair in love and America's Next Top Blogger!

Please go here to vote: Eviction Voting

Remember to vote for VICTORIA and AJ!

Voting ends 8am central time (6am Pacific; 9am Eastern) so you night owls better get voting! I'm not ready to leave just yet. I still have some challenge wins in me! Thanks! --Emily

Britney Spears before & after

Actually, it's more like "Britney Spears before and after...four kids, a haircut and no Photoshop." The latest veto challenge from MomDot's America's Next Top Blogger fits right in with a fashion trend Tuesday:

As MomDot is a major Brit Brit fan, we want you to dress up like Britney Spears…You can be the bald one, the Baby one more Time, the Circus Britney…whatever you want.

I'll take Britney picture submissions till 10am central time via my EMAIL and then let the site VOTE who makes the best Britney as the winner. So get creative…hold signs, get your kids involved (maybe your DH is K-Fed?), and come up with your most creative Britney you can muster.
So which Britney did I channel? The only one I felt comfortable enough posting for the virtual world to see!

A few disclaimers about the photo:
  • It was after 1:00 a.m. in the morning when I decided to actually participate in this challenge.
  • I have lots of young Facebook "friends" and had to keep it PG rated.
  • Being that it was after 1:00 a.m., everyone was asleep so my "photographer" was a self-timer on the camera, which sat on the piano bench aimed at our living room couch.
  • I don't have long, blonde hair or a long, blonde wig (though my DH might like that...hmmm...may have to look into purchasing one)
  • My false eyelashes kept falling off...self-adhesive? Whatever!
  • Three words: no professional makeup artist.
  • The batteries in the camera were dead (DorĂ©, I totally feel your ANTB pain!), every set I tried from each of the remotes was dead; I finally found one set of charged batteries after a dozen "you've got to be freakin' kidding me's."
  • I have birthed four children and am most likely twice Britney's age when she took her photo.

That being said, here is the final photo I submitted to the challenge. (It looked a lot better at 3:00 a.m.) By the time I had it cropped and played around with some effects (in a program I am
still learning) it was 3:00 a.m. I sent Trisha the photo and got ready for bed only to remain awake for at least another half an hour. DH was up around 6:00 a.m. for work. Needless to say if I took that photo this morning the bags under my eyes would match the heavy black eyeliner on my lids! But hey, I did it!

Click here to view all the Britney Spears look-alike photos from the challenge. It's definitely worth your time...you'll be ROTFL, promise! --Emily


Monday, April 20, 2009

Startup Princess: 22 Free Things to Manage Life & Business

StartupPrincess.com is a wealth of information for mompreneurs. If you haven't yet discovered this site it's about time you did! I've featured past articles from featured women business owners and like today, I'll be featuring many more. Had I attended the recent Startup Princess Academy Conference at Disneyland I would have had a lot of wonderful things to share with you, but alas, it wasn't in the cards!

At least I have some past information-packed posts to share with you here on our mompreneur mondays, and today's is a fabulous one: "22 Free Things to Manage Your Business & Your Life" from The Mogul Mom.

As mom entrepreneurs, we’re a tenacious bunch who isn’t likely to give up that easily. We’re going to keep building our businesses, even if we have pinch pennies, go at a slower pace and do much of the work ourselves.
This comprehensive list features everything from BoutiqueUp! Daily (I'm a subscriber!) to Twitter (you can follow me at emihill) to Photobucket (I have two accounts!) to Whole Foods--yes, even Whole Foods! And those are only 4 out of 22 resources she shares with readers. For the full list you'll want to read her post on StartupPrincess.com.

Do you have any "free things" you use to help manage your life and business? If so we'd love for you to share them with our readers. We can all use budget-friendly resources in today's economy! --Emily

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eat at Costa Vida and support a worthy cause

My friend Jyl from Mom It Forward needs your help spreading the word about tomorrow's fundraiser. We're planning to be there and have already told friends and family about it. We'd love it if you'd now do the same. Here are the details:

Meet with Friends & Family & the Social Media Scene in Provo for a Great Cause Saturday, April 18

Mom It Forward, in partnership with 12 for 12K, is kicking off 6-weeks of fundraising for moms and by moms (March 31 through May 12) and we need your help!

On Saturday, April 18, events will be taking place all over the US, Canada and Australia with one event taking place right here in Utah.

The goal is to raise funds and awareness for a Utah-based charity—Yehu Microfinance, BasaBody, and Coast Coconut Farms to
empower poor, rural entrepreneurs in Kenya to help lift themselves out of poverty through enhanced accessibility to sustainable financial services, business opportunities, and skills training. Mom It Forward's goal is to raise $50,000 and we'd like to raise $2,500 at our Provo event to contribute toward that goal!

*
Date: Saturday, April 18

*
Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

*
Place: Costa Vida/Fat Cats Provo

*
Activities: Dinner, Bowling, Games, Raffle


What is the Charity?

Yehu Microfinance, BasaBody, and Coast Coconut Farms work together to achieve this mission. How? First, women secure micro loans from Yehu Microfinance. Next, they purchase a franchise from Coast Coconut Farms, which gives them the materials, skills/business training, and opportunity to run a coconut oil extraction business right from their village. Then, Coast Coconut Farms makes regular village runs to purchase the coconut oil and processes it in its plant. Finally, Coast Coconut Farms exports the oil to the U.S. where volunteers there use the oil to create and sell bath, body, and cooking products—part of the Basa Body and Coast Coconut Farms product lines—returning the proceeds right back to Africa to help more and more women.

For questions, to learn more about the charity or to donate to the event please contact momitforward@gmail.com.

Can't Make the Party? You Can Still Participate in the Fun!

Take the attached coupon with you to any Utah Costa Vida
location on Saturday, April 18 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 20% of your proceeds will go to charity. (Click here to see locations.)

Cheat Day Cafe: Oreo Cookies and Cream Frosting

I've stumbled across a wonderful food-related blog, and you're going to wish you'd stumbled across it sooner after you check out today's recipe. Don't worry, I'll be featuring a few more Cheat Day Cafe recipes here on food for thought friday. They're just too good not to share! Take today's recipe for Oreo Cookies and Cream Frosting...I think I'll be whipping some of this up this weekend. Whether or not it ends up on top of a cake before inside my stomach has yet to be determined!

Oreo Cookies and Cream Frosting
1 large package cookies and cream instant Jell-O pudding mix
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 c cold skim milk
1 (8 oz.) container Fat Free Cool Whip

Combine the pudding, powdered sugar and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat for about one minute until well blended. Fold in Cool Whip and spread on cooled cake. Keep refrigerated.
It looks like she took a few Oreos and crumbled them on top before serving (and maybe even mixed a few into the frosting). Yum! Not sure how many Oreos I'd have for decoration since it's always the "one cookie for the dessert, two cookies for me" rule when I bake!

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." ~Dave Barry

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Vote for me by 7pm central!

Okay, the latest HOH ("head of household") competition is up and Trisha is making us call in all our favors from Facebook friends and Twitter followers alike! In this challenge the ANTB competitor with the most votes by 7pm central time wins (opposite from the typical "most votes gets evicted" thing) and will get to immediately boot anyone they choose from the list without anybody else voting. It's one vote and that one vote decides.

I have yet to win an HOH challenge since I'm usually doing something unimportant like bathing kids, feeding the family or showering (okay, I guess showering isn't all that important unless it's been a few days). But I would absolutely love to win for once!

No need to register or sign up for an account of any sort. Just click the link below, select Emily from Georgie Tees and hit "VOTE." That's it! It will only take you a few seconds to show your love and support...or at least a friendly nod in my direction. And here's an added bonus: If I win I'll create a special discount code for use at georgie tees!


I must warn you, this may not be the last time I enlist your help, but MomDot's America's Next Top Blogger competition will be over in a few days so there is an end in sight! Love you all! --Emily

What not to wear and how to wear it all!

Or how to throw on layers and layers of clothes in record time to compete in the latest veto competition for MomDot's America's Next Top Blogger. I think my husband had more fun watching me take off the clothing though he did crack a smile watching me put everything on while my two youngest offered their "help" and ran around me in circles!

The challenge? To video ourselves putting on the following list of items and have the fastest time doing so:

  • 6 shirts
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of shoes/heels
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 jackets/coats
  • At least 3 accessories (hat, scarf, gloves, etc)
I only did one trial run--after two run-throughs I had worked up enough sweat for another shower! Madison was my videographer, George and Livi were wardrobe and Robert Schneider ("Boom Boom" from Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine) provided the fun background music. Here's my video, and though I didn't win (just couldn't beat that Dore--she had me by about 20 seconds) I had a really great time!



To watch all five videos (the winning one is Dore, fourth one down), click here. By the way, don't you think this is a perfect that's hot! thursday post? Nothing like watching five women getting dressed from start to finish!) --Emily

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Like, totally!

Okay, I am so totally, like la-ame! Oh my gosh! I lay my, like, totally styled head down on my way comfy pillow and two most excellent dreamy hours later I find out I’ve totally, like, missed another MomDot “America’s (totally gnarly) Next Top Blogger” competition! Gag me with a virtual spoon! The competition is over but the challenge was so totally killer I wanted to, like, totally participate so it didn’t look sketchy.

Christy was the winner…again…and while that’s totally killer I’m thinking what-ever! One of these days I will totally win because not winning is so totally, like, bogus! Of course I’ve been bugging over this way crazy totally virtual contest since it started and I’m like, “No freakin’ way! Are these radical women (hey, they may be, like, my competitors but they’re still pretty gnarly) like, totally glued to their computers?!?!” I am so having a cow over missing the competitions, but I’m totally thinking it’s, like, totally radical I have yet to be on the chopping block. That chopping block thing is so totally bogus! Fer sure!

Oh my gosh! But what is totally to the max cool is we girls now have our very own, totally awesome hashtag on Twitter. If you’re a totally rad Twitterer and so, like, totally into tweeting then you have to follow us. Just search for #antb. If you’re don’t you’re, like, totally one of those losers I would never let my blonde-haired-blue-eyed head think twice about. Gag me with that same virtual spoon again! What-EVER! --Emily

Photo by martha madness, shared via Flickr.

A post late and a veto short...

So I'm a competitor in MomDot's "American's Next Top Blogger" online virtual reality show and I've already missed the first two competitions. That's what happens when you step away from the computer to do silly things like feed your family, attend a community class and then spend some quality time watching a TiVo'd Medium with your DH. *sigh*

But even though I missed out on the golden power of Veto competition (you can see the winners' post here), I had to throw this in just for fun. (You'll want to read the competition post and my comment about this blog post so you're up to speed with these phot
os...LOL)



(Isn't it crazy how much we look alike?!?! LOL) Hey, it's all about going for the win, right? And I'm all about scoring points wherever I can get them! Plus, when it's past midnight and you've only had 5 hours of sleep and no caffeine, strange things are bound to happen late at night. 'Til tomorrow's competition--if I haven't yet been voted off the "show"... --Emily

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kandee the make-up artist: a treat for makeup junkies everywhere!

I may not be a makeup junkie like my good friend Becky (she needs a separate carry-on for her makeup bag) but I do love learning about the latest trends when it comes to skin care and makeup application.

I recently stumbled upon Kandee Johnson and her blog, kandee the make-up artist, from Tammy over at A Mom in Red High Heels. She featured one of her past YouTube videos in a post around Valentine's Day and I've been a subscriber to Kandee's blog ever since. She features everything from how to create specific looks (all natural, 80's glam rock, Audrey Hepburn, Angelina Jolie...the list goes on) and her favorite skin care products (St. Tropez Everyday Face self tanner is one of them) to her top choices in makeup lines and colors and even how to design your own off-the-shoulder t-shirt. She'll even let you see what's inside her purse!

I love her latest how-to video, "Teeth so white you gotta wear shades..." It gives a surprisingly simple technique for whitening your teeth without those annoying strips (I can never remember to wear mine more than a couple days) or paying the high price of custom trays from your dentist. I'm not going to spoil the fun--you'll have to watch and learn for yourself!

When it comes to makeup application some of us have two left hands. Kandee can give you a few tips and tricks to fix that problem all while helping you get a dazzling white smile! --Emily

Monday, April 13, 2009

A BlogCoach How-to on Giveaways

With an increase in blogging comes an increase in giveaways. It use to be you had to go to a company's site, opt in to their email newsletter or enter some form of personal information and then wait to hear if you'd won. (I'm still waiting.) Now you can't throw a virtual stone without hitting a giveaway. You can even find sites like Prizey that are virtual clearinghouses for the latest and greatest giveaways.

Don't get me wrong, it's a truly wonderful phenomenon! I've actually scored a pair of Alias Premium Denim jeans and a $35 gift certificate to Cinnamon Sticks. Before those wins I could count myself among those who honestly say, "I never win anything!" Blog giveaways have changed my life (and upped my jean count--hooray!).

If you're a blogger and looking to drive more traffic to your site, a giveaway is a great way to do so. But how do you join the giveaway scene and host a successful giveaway? BlogCoach's recent post "How to Host Effective Blog Giveaways" is a quick-start how-to for getting into the giveaway game. The post highlights four main points for making sure your giveaway is a success:

  • Find great items to give away
  • Streamline giveaway admin (who knew you could use Google Docs to make your giveaway life easier?)
  • Maximize the benefit to your sponsor (this one is super important)
  • Prevent and eliminate duplicate entries
Angie goes into detail for each of these four points and even "seasoned" giveaway bloggers like myself (you've entered at least one or two Daily Dish giveaways by now, right?!?!) will learn something new. And if you'd like some additional reading (and prefer to learn from someone else's experience), check out BlogCoach's popular post, "Blog Giveaway Gone Wrong."

It's a crazy, giveaway world whether you're entering or hosting. Good luck! --Emily

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy spring break to me!

Happy spring break to me!
Happy spring break to me!
Happy spring break to me-e...happy spring break to me!

We're heading down to St. George this afternoon so I'm taking the rest of the week off to enjoy some quality time with my kids. (I'm talking after the four-hour drive filled with crushed Goldfish crackers, spilled French fries and numerous potty stops.) Though the forecast shows some showers, at least it will be a good ten degrees warmer
down there. Plus, St. George has an In-N-Out Burger. You better believe I'm doing the Double-Double animal style with a side of animal style fries and chocolate shake. You only live once!

By the way, for those who don't know what "animal style" is or have never heard of In-N-Out's not-so-secret menu, here you go!

Happy spring break to all of you as well! --Emily

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Snickerdoodles...don't do it!

Today's take it off tuesday post is a simple piece of advice:

If your 11-year-old daughter asks to make snickerdoodles and you allow her to do so (being the good mother you are and wanting to encourage her pastry-chef dream), you will end up eating at least half the batch and gaining two pounds in 48 hours. So don't let her anywhere near the kitchen!

(And if she accidentally adds 1/2 cup of baking soda instead of 1/2 teaspoon, don't let her start a new batch. Rather, let her make the mistake. Then you won't eat half the batch of cookies and the scale won't need to be recalibrated yet again...) --Emily

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fashion Incubator: "A licensing deal gone wrong"

Though LeShan and I have never pursued the avenue of licensing I have heard the word many times in our industry. Being that we've never looked into this area of business I am very unfamiliar with the ins and outs of licensing, its advantages and disadvantages. And while I'm sure licensing has its many benefits, I found this recent article on Fashion Incubator a real eye-opener.

In "A licensing deal gone wrong," Fashion Incubator's Kathleen Fasanella details the true story of one couple's nightmarish experience pursuing a licensing deal for their product.

I know that in spite of my many warnings to the contrary, a lot of people are hot for licensing deals. In that vein, I found a cautionary tale in the form of a series of blog posts which provides a detailed description of a licensing deal gone wrong. I decided to feature it with the hope of preventing something similar from happening to any of you.

The story of Ed and Rebecca definitely serves as a warning for many of us, whether we're in the confectionery business, apparel business or any industry for that matter. Their story almost reads like a Grisham novel, and you'll want to read the entire thing from start to not-so-happy ending. I found Rebecca's comments enough "inspiration" to not make the same mistakes, and Kathleen's follow-up at the end of the post is full of important insight and sound advice.
I can’t speak to the confectionery industry but in apparel and with seasonal product changes, you shouldn’t borrow money against your house to do it. Proceeds from one season should feed the next cycle of development and production. I don’t mean to imply you should have the expectation of breaking even to include paying yourself a salary at the outset but having a cushion can mitigate a term of discomfort.

I think those are wise words especially in today's economy. Another good point she makes: ask yourself if your product is viable. Of course as Kathleen states, "Sometimes you just can’t know if a product has appeal until it’s launched and marketed." Unfortunately this is often all too true!

If you've ever entertained the idea of licensing your product or someone else's product, "A licensing deal gone wrong" will give you a lot to think about and reason to do a bit more research into the subject before you dive in head first. --Emily

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mark Anthony's Mexican Food: Smother it, please!

I'm kind of liking this "feature a local business on food for thought friday" thing because it means I went out to eat (i.e. I didn't have to cook) and hopefully had some really tasty food. So far I'm two for two when it comes to featured restaurants.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Blue Lemon Bistro, a new restaurant in Highland that offers a wonderful and flavorful twist on healthy food. (I am going back tonight for a meet-up with my Twitter gals.) Today I bring you Mark Anthony's Mexican Food, a little restaurant hidden in a Herriman strip mall. But don't let the strip-mall facade fool you; this little Mexican place may be small on size but it is big on flavor--especially if your order is smothered in their famous homemade chile verde!

I was introduced to Mark Anthony's Mexican Food (not to be confused with Mark Anthony's Italian Food up the road 0wned by the same guy) by my sister and brother-in-law. We stopped in last Saturday with my parents to see if it lived up its "hole-in-the-wall Mexican" reputation. (That's a compliment, promise! If you ask most people, hole-in-the-wall restaurants are hidden treasures and the very best kind!)

When I saw something about Mark Anthony's famous homemade chile verde I asked if it really were famous. Instead of simply answering "yes," they gave me a small sample. Within about 1 1/2 seconds I could taste why it was famous: spicy but not too spicy, a rich, almost smoky flavor
and meat that was so tender it melted in my mouth.

I of course ordered the Smothered Chile Verde Burrito combination plate, which came with beans and rice. I didn't have to wait long for my order to arrive, which was a good thing because that sample of their chile verde had me craving more...and I was hungry! The rice was awesome and the beans taste as well, though I wish I had the option of black beans (my fave). My mom loved her cheese enchiladas, which arrived topped with lettuce and cheese. (The lettuce was a new thing for her, though I think she enjoyed it.) I can't remember what everyone else ordered; I do know it was pretty quiet while we a
te because it was that good!

If you know me, you know I have to finish off a meal with something sweet so I ordered the fried ice cream. I was told their vanilla ice cream is made fresh daily so it will have the best and richest flavor. The verdict? Overall this dessert was really, really good. The ice cream was scrumptious and the "fried" coating perfect--not too heavy, not too light with a nice flavor. It was drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce and served with ship cream.

What didn't work for me? They ran out of whip cream just after they started putting it on, so it arrived in a less-than-glamorous state, and the larger styrofoam cup they served it in only dwarfed the already single-scoop portion size. If it had been about $3, I might not have minded, but at $5 it was a big price to pay for such a small dessert, even if the ice cream were homemade.

BUT Mark Anthony's salsa made up for the fried ice cream disappointment. I bought some chips and salsa to go since my dear husband wasn't feeling well and was left (intentionally) at home. We broke open the salsa the next day and it was quite possibly some of the best salsa I've had in a really long time. Everything was super fresh, super crisp (I hate soggy salsa) and the ingredients were in just the right proportion. I'm no chef so I couldn't tell you everything that was in it, and of course I forgot to take a picture (I'll leave food photography to my friend Quinn over at Limelight Food Photography), but I'm pretty sure it had onion, tomato, cilantro, some green pepper and of course lots of other salsa-y ingredients. It wasn't runny but more like a good pico de gallo, which is another fave.

The menu also includes breakfast burritos, nachos, tacos (ground or shredded beef, carne asada, carnitas and fish), enchiladas, chimichangas, and a children's menu. I felt $1.29 was a bit much for things like extra cheese and sour cream, but the rest of the prices (fried ice cream aside) were very reasonable.

My mouth is watering just telling you about my recent experience at Mark Anthony's Mexican Food. I'm jonesing for some more--it's a good thing I'm heading to my sister's tomorrow. I'll be picking up some chips & salsa and maybe even a chile verde burrito to go! Wish I had a website for you but they don't seem to have one. Here's the info in case you're in the area. If you're over at The District in South Jordan, it's worth the drive! --Emily

Mark Anthony's Mexican Food
5530 West 13400 South
Herriman, UT
801.253.6823

P.S. They cater!

Photo 1 by marzbars, shared via Flickr.
Photo 2 by ajc3, shared via Flickr.
Photo 3 by erin.kkr, shared via
Flickr.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

aden + anais: winter sale & giveaway!

Normally you wouldn't think "winter sale" in April, but if you live in Utah you can pretty much have a winter sale any month from October through May. (In fact, it's snowing as I write this post.) But aden + anais' winter sale has nothing to do with what month it is but more with what products the sale features: Winter Warmth Swaddles and Dream Blankets. And a sale on baby blankets is definitely worthy of a that's hot! thursday post.

aden + anais is known for award-winning swaddling blankets made with super soft cotton muslin. Muslin "is a unique cotton fabric first introduced into England in the late 17th century." This fabric has a soft, light weave that enables an even airflow, which means your baby’s body temperature can adjust naturally. No chance of overheating or discomfort, yet the soft cotton muslin still ensures warmth for your little one.

aden + anais’ line of muslin swaddling wraps and blankets includes designs for boys, girls and a handful of unisex designs. You’ll find zoo animals and camo along with flowers and polka dots. Right now their 2-Pack of Winter Warmth Swaddles (scroll down; they are the last six products on the page) are on sale for $29.95 and the Dream Blankets are on sale for $39.95.

To receive the discount, visit adenandanais.com and enter promo code "wintersale" when checking out.

*** GIVEAWAY! aden + anais is giving one of our freshly baked readers their fabulous Lime-Brown Winter Warmth 2-packs (a $50 retail value)! Please leave a comment on this post and include a valid email address for our drawing. For 5 extra entries, mention this giveaway on your blog. To be eligible for the extra 5 entries, leave a comment below with a link to your post. The deadline for this giveaway is April 8th, 2009 (midnight). Good luck! --Emily

* The winner of our giveaway was chosen using Random.org, and the winner is Vicki! Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why laundry sometimes takes twice as long to fold

I find I'm rather enjoying digressing from the typical posting schedule. Today would normally be a wonderful web wednesday but instead I give you a glimpse of daily life in the Hill home. (You'll probably get a few more glimpses here and there--it's just too much fun!)

I rarely have anything to smile about when it comes to doing laundry. It's right up there with scrubbing toilets, but I had to chuckle yesterday when my two youngest decided to lend a hand folding their clothes. Yes, the video is two and a half minutes long, but it's a great song! Anyone else have fabulous helpers in their midst? --Emily