WE'VE MOVED!! You can now find us at Sunshine and Spoons!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One of My Favorite Meals

I've always been a fan of breakfast for supper (or dinner, or whatever you call it)  Working at two different bed and breakfasts over a period of 10 years and being a cook at the second, I've had many opportunities to try out new breakfast foods.  Here's one of my favorite breakfast-for-supper meals.  The omelet is a recipe from the first B&B I worked at and the potatoes are a recipe I made almost every morning at the second B&B.

First, cut up into chunks one red potato for each person who will be dining with you for this fine gourmet meal.  Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with water; bring to a boil.  While the potatoes are boiling, brown sausage or bacon in a frying pan.

When the meat is done, move it to a covered plate in the microwave or oven to keep warm.  Do not drain or rinse the frying pan.  When potatoes are soft, but before they're mushy (because otherwise, you end up with fried mashed potatoes, which albeit is kinda' good, it isn't what we're going for here), drain the water off and dump the potatoes in the same frying pan you used to fry the meat.  Add a few tablespoons of oil and liberally season.  My favorite seasoning on potatoes is Canadian Steak Seasoning which I buy at Sam's Club.  You could also use any variety of spices such as garlic, onion, seasoning salt, etc.  Just season those babies with whatever strikes your fancy.

Fry the potatoes on medium to high heat, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan and turning the potatoes with a metal spatula.  Don't do this too often as it makes the potatoes fall apart and not brown as well. 

 Now it's time to start working on the omelets.  This recipe will make 6-8 omelets depending on how much filling you put in each one.  I usually make 4 and throw the extra filling in with the potatoes.  

 Mix 1 block of cream cheese with a 12-15 oz tub of ricotta cheese.  Or if you're like me and realize after the store has closed, that the tub of ricotta cheese in your fridge is actually leftover watermelon from a week ago, you can go upstairs to your neighbor, borrow a cup of cottage cheese, and mash it with a fork until it's almost the same consistency as ricotta cheese.  You may need to microwave the mixture so it combines well.  Add some spices.  I use parsley, basil, onion, and garlic powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk 2-3 eggs for each omelet you plan on making.  Pour enough egg mixture into a well-greased frying pan (preferably non-stick!) to cover the bottom well.  If you make it too thin, it won't fold without tearing.  As it cooks, tilt the pan to ensure that the eggs cook evenly.  When the eggs are done, spoon some of the ricotta/cream cheese mixture down the center of the omelet.  We're cheese addicts at my house so I tend to go overboard here.

Using a spatula, loosen the edges of the omelet and carefully fold each side over to the center.  If you mess up and it tears, don't worry.  I know from experience that it will still taste just as good. 

Let the omelet sit for 3-5 minutes to heat the filling completely.  When it's done, use your spatula to slide the omelet out of the pan right onto a plate.  Dish up the potatoes and sausage (or bacon) and enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A is for Apple, B is for Brainiac

Dearest Hubby recently informed me that, now that Little Man is 15 months old, I should be actively teaching him to talk.  To which I delicately snorted (and perhaps guffawed raucously) at and asked him what exactly he thought I was doing all day, every day. 

Do you want to know how I teach my kids to talk?  Not by strapping them into the high chair or booster seat and forcing them to do flashcards for 2.5 hours a day or by investing in the latest Rosetta Stone series.  I talk to them.  Constantly.  I tell them what we're doing, what we will be doing, point out shapes, colors, numbers, tell them what the name of different things are, etc.  I would imagine that most mothers employ this time-tested method.  Sometimes, I have to tell myself to back off a little and let the poor child absorb the 84 facts I've just crammed into his little brain in the last 6 minutes.  Sometimes, I find myself talking to an empty cart at the grocery store.

Look at these pretty marshmallows!  There's pink, and green, and.....oh shoot.  I left the kids with my sister today."  *Notes funny looks from fellow shoppers and exits quickly*

Let's face it.  Young children learn the best by watching their parents, exploring the world around them, and just being kids.  A child learns something from everything they do, whether it be eating sand from the sandbox ("This just doesn't taste as good as I thought it would.  It has an interesting texture, but the flavor isn't quite right.  Why is Mommy running over here with a panicked look on her face?") to playing with blocks and cooking utensils (preferably not knives).  Which is why I believe in giving my kids educational or role playing toys to explore.  I'm not a big fan of the push-a-button-and-the-toy-plays-for-you toys, which is why I became a consultant for Discovery Toys.

While I've been typing up this blog post, Little Man has learned that if he digs in the garbage can and smears the remainder of a can of tomato paste all over himself, the garbage can, and the kitchen floor, Mommy will throw oyster crackers on the floor (hey, it's recently vacuumed!) to distract him so she can get a little work done. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fast. Easy. Delicioso.

I made one of my favorite snacks today and thought I'd share it with you.  I'm not one to spend a lot of time in the kitchen unless I'm trying to figure out what sounds good as a snack right now.  I tend to feel ill when I see a recipe with a long list of ingredients and have to fight the urge to throw up if some of those ingredients have weird names that I've never heard of.  The following recipe has made it to my hall-of-fame cookbook so you know it's about as easy as recipes come.

1 cup of vegetable or olive oil (Yeah, I know...your arteries are shivering just thinking about that much oil.   That's why I usually substitute for olive oil.  It makes me feel like I'm being healthy)
2 packets of powdered ranch (the original recipe called for 1.  I happen to really like ranch dressing)
1 tablespoon of dill (same rule from the ranch applies here)
2 packages of oyster crackers.

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's a Losing Battle

I gotta be honest with you.  My absolute least favorite job when it comes to parenting is feeding my kids.  I downright hate it.  And yet, 4 times a day, I subject myself to this stick-my-head-in-a-blender type of chore.  Somedays, I only do it to avoid being turned in for child abuse.  Seriously, there are some meals where I think there's actually MORE food on the kids' plates when they're done "eating" then when they started.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that both my kids had issues with breastfeeding.  With the help of a nipple shield and some supplementing with formula, we stuck it out for a full year with Princess.  Little Man only lasted about 3 months before a series of problems (including, but not limited to: constant screaming-mostly from him, a bad case of mastitis, a lack of weight gain, and a 2 1/2 year old big sister who quickly figured out that Mommy was tied down to a chair 90% of the time and couldn't stop her from dumping out every bottle of shampoo in the bathroom).  If only that were the end of my kids' eating issues.  *insert wistful sigh here*

At the tender age of 2 1/2, Princess was diagnosed with allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts and promptly put on a strict diet.  She doesn't have the carry-an-epipen-with-you-at-all-costs type of allergies.  Her allergies cause her asthma to act up considerably.  This created quite the dilemma.  What do you feed a kid who can't eat anything?  FYI, specialty allergy-free foods are EXPENSIVE.

Little Man ate like a pro until he turned one.  Then everything went to you-know-where in a handbasket.  I decided to make a list of all the foods Little Man will currently acccept as edible the other day.  It took me all of two minutes.  Here's the long list:
Pizza (the only form of bread, cheese, or tomatoes he will deign to look upon)
Chicken nuggets
Chicken breast (sometimes)
Fish sticks
French fries
Blueberries (now and then)
Veggie straws
Veggie crackers
French toast sticks
Ice cream
Hot dogs
Potatoes (when the stars are aligned)
Baked beans

It's not that I don't offer (or try to force feed) him other foods such as green beans and hamburger.  He just flat-out refuses to eat them.  The kid has only gained 2 pounds, 6 ounces in the last 6 months which is cause for concern from his pediatrician.  He dropped from a healthy 43% for weight on the growth charts to a skinny 5%  in less than a year.  At his last checkup, the doctor ordered blood tests to find out why he is not gaining weight (I got to help hold my screaming baby on a table while 2 nurses filled 3 vials with his blood.  Yay.)  Everything came back normal except for the test for allergens.  Whoopie.  Another child with food allergies.

So here's my dilemma.  At this point, I have one child who CAN'T eat anything and I have another who WON'T eat anything.  Mealtimes at my house have turned into a battle zone which the kids invariably win, leaving poor mommy laying dazed on the kitchen floor covered in "icky" veggies.  This daily war has me tempted to ask the pediatrician to put an IV in each of the kids so they can skip the whole torturous experience of a meal.

Anyways, it's almost lunchtime at my house.  Time to suit up for battle.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

WAHM-Part 3

The children's boutique world can be pretty competitive.  I've found a few other boutique owners who were willing to share tips on how they built their business, and I greatly appreciated their time and help.  It can be hard when you're just starting out.  When I opened my boutique, I thought, "This won't be too hard, you just make stuff and sell it."  Wrong.  There is SO much more to running your own business than just the products.

Where to sell/ market:

I started out selling on a fan page on Facebook.  I've seen some pages that have a zillion random photo albums which can really confuse people.  This will deter customers from browsing, which is not what you want.  Treat the photo albums like a catalog.  Put each type of product in an album and make sure to go through the albums periodically to "clean them up."

I recommend going to "edit page" and working your way down the list on the left hand side.  Fill in as much information as you can.  Be sure to choose a username (ex: www.facebook.com/annaliesbabyboutique) to make it easier to direct people to your page.

Keep your eyes open for giveaways that you can enter one of your products in.  Generally speaking, people will have to like your fan page to enter to win so it's a good way to get your numbers and traffic up on your page. 

The good thing about using Facebook is that it's easy to network.  The bad thing is that people can't search for the type of products you sell on Facebook.  They basically have to stumble on your page.  However, it is definitely a good marketing tool and a great way to interact with your customers.  There are a multitude of free promotional pages on Facebook that you can utilize to get your name out.  Here's some of the ones I use.  Make sure you read each page's rules before advertising.  Some of these pages also have websites you can register on.
USA Proud Shoutouts
The Craft Show
Trendy Links
The WAHM Hub
Handmade Show and Tell
Made in the USA-A Boutique Collection
Top Mom Shoppes
WAHM Pages
Hot Mama Network
Mama Made USA-Products made by WAHM's
Mommy Link-Promote Your Page
The Mom Shoppe

Facebook rules state that you can't actually sell on Facebook, but can direct customers to an outside site to purchase from which is why I also started a site on ecrater.  Ecrater is free, and anyone can sell whatever they like on the site.  It's easy to set up and use.  The only downside to it is that not many people have heard of it, so your traffic may not be very high. 

Set up a twitter account for your business and link it to your facebook fan page so your activity on your page will be sent out as tweets.

Most people have heard of Etsy which means that there's a lot of traffic on the site.  Everything you need to know about making your shop on Etsy successful can be found here.

Start a blog to help advertise your business.  I use blogger for mine.  This is also essential if you plan to have any giveaways on your Facebook page as there are some strict rules about giveaways and promotions on Facebook.  If you're caught breaking the rules, Facebook will close your page down.  NOT a good thing to have to rebuild from the ground up!  Here's a link to the current Facebook rules

How to Sell/Market:

  • Use models whenever you can.  There are a ton of boutique modeling sites on Facebook that connect boutiques with models. One of my favorites are Little Diamond Models
  • If you can't get a model, invest in a good mannequin.  These can be found on Ebay for reasonable prices.
  • Take pictures using natural light-NO fluorescent!
  • Take pictures against a plain white background or a natural setting.  Outdoors is the best, but you can also create a "photo studio" indoors with a white sheet and natural lighting.  
  • Use a photo editing software such as picmonkey to edit pictures and add watermarks.
  • Show as much detail as you can.  Get closeups and faraway shots.  Try all different angles.  If you haven't already, invest in a decent digital camera so you can take a ton of shots and then choose the best ones.
Choose your products
  • Be unique, think outside the box.  If you make the same thing as everyone else does, what's going to bring the customers to you versus someone else?
  • Find what you're good at and specialize in it.  I tested a lot of products before realizing that my niche is boutique style children's clothing and accessories.  Don't spread yourself too thin, some people told me that they were overwhelmed with all the selection I had at first.  Also, the more variety of products you have, the more stock you're going to have to have on hand which means more money up front and overall.
  • Brand yourself.  Get business cards, address labels, etc.  At Vistaprint, you can get business cards, t-shirts, address labels, bags, banners, car magnets etc. for the price of shipping as long as you watch for their specials.  Get labels or hang tags for your products so people will know where they bought them from and come back for more.  Labels also make merchandise look more professional.
Marketing and Advertising
  •  Find your target market (my target market is moms with kids ages NB-8 years)
  • Set your pricing to reflect your target market.  Don't underprice as people will undervalue your work and won't buy from you.  Don't overprice as obviously this will also deter customers.  Do a google or etsy search on the type of product you're trying to price to see what others are charging for it.  My rule of thumb is to not be the lowest or the highest priced.  Don't forget to take into account the cost of your materials and time.  For more information on pricing, go here.
  • Always keep business cards in your purse to hand out to people.  When I go out, I sometimes put my kids in clothing I've made and then when people compliment their outfits, I hand them a business card (or to up the cute factor, have your kids hand them out :)  Hand out business cards everywhere you go, put several in packages you're shipping, if you do craft shows, hand them out to everyone who stops by your table. 
  • Advertise at daycares, homeschool coops, mom forums (on many of them, you can add a "signature" which will automatically be added with your post.  Use your website as your signature), review blogs, parenting groups, facebook, twitter, etsy teams, etc. 
Packaging and Shipping
  • Be sure your packaging looks professional.  Wrap your products neatly in tissue paper, add a handwritten note to thank the customer for their order, etc.  People remember the little details.  
  • For more information on how to ship your products, go here.  
Keeping Records 
  •  Save all of your receipts for supplies, keep track of mileage to the post office, stores, etc.  Ask your tax preparer for advice on what you can and can't write off as a business expense on your taxes.
  • Keep records of your orders in the order they're received so you don't forget anything.  This will also serve as a record of your income.  I use googledocs so I can access the records from any computer and don't have to worry about files getting deleted on my computer.
Other helpful links:
How to Create a QR Code
How to Schedule Posts On Facebook
How to Make Your Blog Post "Pinnable"

If you have any questions, you can email me at annaliesbabyboutique@yahoo.com.

Thanks so much for visiting Supermommy!...Or Not.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook"!  


Monday, August 8, 2011

Winners of the Giveaway!

Using random.org, I drew the winners of the prizes in my 1 Year Anniversary Giveaway at Annalie's Baby Boutique
All the winners have been notified through email and given the contact info for claiming their prize.

Here's a list of the winners:
Sharon Lang Smith- $5 Gift Certificate from Lilac Joy Designs      
Carla DeMarco-$10 off order from The Ruffled Edge             
Brenda Taylor Laznovsky-Football Hat from Brookota Designs            
Samantha Gormam-Two Snack Bags from Baby Bug Boutique 
Tami Vollenweider-3T Halloween Dress from Michelle's Handmade Boutique        Paula Brown-Flower Clip from Tutu Cute by Jill           
Tracy Jason Chris-Morroccan Nights bandana dress from Sweetie Marie Designs     
Natasha Bjugan-Mini photo session from Grape Soda Photography      
Mandy Hatch Agnello-My Little Pony headband and flower from Annalie's Baby Boutique         
Nicole May Cogger-Floral canvas tote bag from Annalie's Baby Boutique            
Diana Bradford Hatch-Kids Playing Style 2 T-shirt dress from Annalie's Baby Boutique              
Jessica Slone-$10 Gift Certificate from Annalie's Baby Boutique          
Lottie Essig-Floral Style 2 T-shirt dress from Annalie's Baby Boutique             
Dawn Smisek-Fairies canvas tote bag from Annalie's Baby Boutique           
Elizabeth Quezada-Pumpkin Hat from Nanna's Threads 

Congratulations to all the winners and a big thanks to everyone else who entered!  I would especially like to thank my wonderful sponsors who provided some of the prizes!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why Didn't Someone Think of This Sooner?!?

While shopping at Wal-mart yesterday, I saw these diapers:
 Like most kids, mine have, at times, rebelled against laying down to get a diaper changed and I have had to change diapers while the child was standing up.  WHY DIDN'T ANYONE THINK OF THESE DIAPERS EARLIER?!?!?  What a great idea for the wriggly little one who can't be bothered with laying down for a few minutes to get his or her diaper changed! 

What is a product you wish someone would invent to make a mom's job a little easier?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...