Friday, October 30, 2009

Food Friday: Pumpkin Apple Butter

This recipe came from my son's preschool newsletter. It is easy to make and delicious on a fall day. I'm sure you could can this, but I chose not to as I'm not as much of a pumpkin fan after the new year and this is good for up to 2 months. My tastes seem to change with the weather.

Pumpkin Apple Butter

1 can 15 oz pumpkin
1 cup apple, peeled and grated
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine pumpkin, apple, apple juice, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with biscuits, breads, corn muffins or hot cereal. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 3 cups.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Direct Selling to Post Later

Just an FYI to those looking for the next post in the direct selling series - it will be posted this weekend or early next week. I've been dealing with a sick child and have not had time to edit the post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Body After Baby: Week 5


Last week was a pretty good week for me on the Body After Baby Challenge over at Mama Notes. I did all 50 of my sit ups everyday except one and on that day I only managed 25. I'm happy to say, I also lost another pound. That makes three pounds since the challenge started. We are half way through and I would like to lose a few more pounds so I need to keep it up this week. There is no specific challenge this week but my goal is to keep up with the eating and exercise. Does chasing a preschooler count for exercise? Actually, we've had several rainy days lately and have been stuck inside so I've been challenging him to races around the couch and down the hall. It gives us both much needed exercise and quality time together.

Tightwad Tuesday: Gift Baskets

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would bring back this post regarding gift baskets. They are a frugal way to provide a great gift for someone. Here are a few more ideas:

For her.
Gather all of the random lotion, perfume, shampoo, coffee, tea etc samples that are hanging out around your house. Add in an inexpensive bottle of nail polish and treat someone to a great girls night in.

For him. Back to the samples - gather some of the food samples add in a gift card for a movie rental and you have a great guys night in.

New business: If you have a friend who is hanging out their shingle, give them a starter basket full of office supplies. By watching deals at Staples, Office Max, and other office supply stores you can pick up inexpensive office supplies for next to nothing. Feel free to add in some of your coupons to those stores too. I like to house all of this in a nice trash can or desk organizer.

Children's Place Coupon

Click here to receive a 15% off coupon to the Children's Place. When I was there last week they had some great markdowns, along with the new Christmas line that just came out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Organization 101: Children's Artwork

Now that I have entered the world of a child in school, I'm starting to see how my child's artwork could easily take over my house. I'm trying to reign it in though by only saving a few items. Each day, when he comes home from preschool, I pull out all of the papers from his backpack. If something is special to him, we hang it on the fridge. The rest we save until daddy gets home to see it. Then, if it is not important to him, it goes into the recycling bin (this usually happens after he goes to bed as he would pull it out if he noticed it in there). We rotate out the pictures on the fridge often as to keep it from getting cluttered.

My plan for the special papers is to have two plastic tubs. One will be to store everything from this year that is keepsake worthy. At the end of the year, I will go through it and weed it out to a more manageable size. The second tub is to keep what I weed out. My plan is to add to that second tub each year for several years and reuse the first tub each year to store a year's worth of work. Growing up, we each had a special drawer to keep our artwork in. Once the drawer became full, we had to weed it out. This one drawer lasted us from preschool to high school so I know it can be done.

How do you keep up with all of the paper and artwork from school? Feel free to leave a comment and let my readers know so we can all keep up with the endless paper coming through our doors.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Food Friday: Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This recipe is originally from Kraft. I like it because the chicken does not have to be cooked ahead of time and it uses pantry staples. My picky husband will even eat it as long as I don't cook it very often.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Stove Top stuffing for chicken
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes with liquid in medium bowl. Add garlic, stuffing mix and water; stir just until stuffing mix is moistened. Set aside.

Place chicken in 13x9" baking dish; sprinkle with basil and cheese. Top with stuffing mixture.

Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Direct Selling: Pick a Company

The first step on your journey through direct selling is to pick a company. For those of you who read my story last week, you will know that the company picked me. It isn't always that way so here are a few things to think about when deciding which company you want to work for:

A product you like: When you like the product and believe in the company, it truly will not feel like you are working. I'm not a fan of anything related to sales as I greatly dislike being pushy but I've found Tupperware sells itself mostly because I believe in the product. Think about products you like or genres that interest you and go from there.

Competition: I have nothing against Mary Kay (in fact, I own several of their products) but in my area, their sales force seems to be saturated. Keep this in mind as you don't want to be competing with too many of your colleagues. It does help to have some sales force in your area as you learn from each other, but if the market is too saturated, check out another company.

Start up costs: Every company is different as to start up costs so investigate this when looking at a company. With Tupperware, you can start with as little as $79.99. The kit comes with many of the most wanted items too so it is a great value. Some companies require you to keep an inventory and that start up cost can be high so keep that in mind.
Contract details: Explore the fine print and talk to someone who is currently selling for this company to see what it takes to remain a member of the sales force. Some companies have high quotas while others are low. With Tupperware, your only commitment is to hold one party and sell $450, preferrably within the first 30 days. After that, you are free to quit. To remain active, you need to sell $250 every 4 months. That is a pretty low amount compared to some companies.

Discounts: Since you will be selling a product you like, check out what your discount is. You are in this to make money but you will want to buy some of the product for yourself too. Tupperware has a standard discount of 25% with samples being 35%. The best part is this is 25% off sale prices too. Bonuses are also available almost weekly so it is easy to earn free or deeply discounted product. These make great gifts or can add to your start up kit for demonstrating.

Profit Potential: Of course, your first thought on all of this was probably "how much am I going to make". Yes, this is important, but do not pick a company solely on this as there is so much more to the equation than just money. Most direct selling companies pay you a comission of 10-50%. Check out what the average party amount is and how much work is actually involved to get a good look at your profit potential.

Stay tuned as I continue this series in the weeks to come. Again, if you have any questions about direct selling or Tupperware, please leave a comment or email me so I can address them in this series.

Body After Baby: Week 4


This is week 4 of Mama Notes Body After Baby challenge. Last week's challenge was to eat better. I did really good until I went out of town. I actually planned to continue eating great then too but random circumstances kept me from it. For one, we planned on a great dinner at an Italian place Saturday night and when we arrived the wait was about an hour. I was not waiting around with a baby for an hour. We then went to a few other places nearby and they all had a long wait too so we wound up at the only place quick that was nearby and by then, I didn't care what I ate as long as it was food. On the positive side, I did a ton of walking while my husband was in his conference so I think I worked off a lot of the junk I ate. We were in Kansas City and I did The Legends and Crown Center twice each.

Since this challenge began, I've lost 2 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like a lot but I had plateaued for the 3 weeks before so I'm excited to finally see the scale moving again.

This week's challenge is sit ups. I don't think that will be a problem as I can do that while hanging out with my kids. I may wind up with a child jumping all over me, but that is ok.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Organizing 101: The To Do List

First of all, sorry I did not get Food Friday up on Friday. I went out of town with my husband and the baby (the older one stayed with grandparents) and planned on blogging while hanging out in the room. We were there for my husband to attend a conference and I knew I had a lot of dead time. Turns out, it was $10 a day for internet access!!! Everything was expensive at the hotel and it quickly reminded me why I'm not a fan of the higher class hotels - give me a Comfort Inn or Holiday Inn Express any day and I'm much happier. At least the room was nice.

Now, on to the weekly organization tip. If you are like most people, your to do list is much longer than you can ever accomplish. Back when I had my first child, I read a book (sorry, I can't remember the name of the book) that said to pick your hot button item of the day and do everything in your power to accomplish that one item. This is the one thing you have to get done or something that will make you feel like you accomplished something. Then, prioritize everything else on your list and see what truly needs to be done. Many times, several items on the list can actually wait a few days and by taking them off, you can remove some of the stress from your life.

The idea behind the hot button item is that you accomplish something important each day and you have that sense of finishing a task. As a mom of young children, some days, my hot button item is as simple as getting the dishwasher unloaded. Other days, it is getting a project completed, paying the bills, etc. I do feel good though when I get something marked off my to do list each day. It feels like a bonus when I get a few more items marked off as the day goes on. I try my best to get my hot button item finished early on so as the day goes on, the craziness of life does not get keep me from accomplishing something.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tupperware: My Story

Starting next week, I am going to do a short series on direct selling as a way to earn some extra money. Before I get into the details though, I thought I would share why I chose Tupperware.

I am coming up on my one year anniversary of selling Tupperware - I started on Halloween 2008, but let me back up a few years first. Several months before I became pregnant with my first son, I ran into a Tupperware consultant. I've always appreciated the quality of this company and hadn't been to a party in years so I decided to have one . The consultant knew I liked the product
(I'm what we call at Tupperholic) and tried to talk me into selling it then. I thought about it but found out shortly after the party that I was pregnant. I figured that wasn't a great time to start something new though so I moved on. Fast forward to last fall. I'm invited to a Tupperware party and it is with the consultant who held my party three years previous.

She immediately remembered me and started in again about selling it. First of all, I was impressed she remembered me. I did not sign up that night, but the idea kept creeping into the back of my mind. See, we were nearing the one year mark of my husband's job being cut back. I had worked every odd job I could find and was tired of working so hard simply to pay the bills. There was nothing left for just me. I decided to give Tupperware a try but the profits had to be kept for fun money. I could use it for shopping, eating out, entertainment, etc as long as it was something I wanted to do (for me or my family) and not a bill. I treated it like a hobby. I figured there was little to lose because the kit was under $100, included a ton of product that I wanted, and my only commitment was to hold one party.

I'm not pushy and sales are not my strong point but I've found Tupperware sells itself and I think part of that is due to the fact that I love the product. I've had a blast meeting new people and making a little cash at the same time. As many of you know, I lost my part time job at the end of May. At that time, I decided I was doing well enough in Tupperware that I could turn it into my job. I no longer treat this as a hobby, rather a job, but I still keep a small amount of profit for entertainment purposes. I love selling Tupperware much more than sitting at a desk all day and if I put a little effort into it, I can make much more than my day job.

I never set out to find a direct selling company, rather it found me, but I'm glad I made that leap of faith. The funny part about the whole ordeal is that I found out two weeks after I signed up that I was pregnant again. I actually had a party scheduled at my house for the day I had our second child (he was a month early). We laugh that he is a Tupperbaby.

As I mentioned before, direct selling is a great way to make some extra cash for Christmas. If you have any questions about direct selling or Tupperware, please let me know so that I can work them into the series.

Body After Baby: Week 3


I've survived the first two weeks of this eight week challenge that Mama Notes is hosting. Last week we were supposed to track our walking. I said I would find time to walk 3 days for 30 minutes. I wound up walking one day for 45 minutes and one for an hour so I kind of kept my promise - I got the time in, just not the days. The 45 minute walk was with my 3 year old and it was a huge workout. I'm not a runner, but he wanted to race almost the whole time. I'm not sure I've mentioned it before, but we think he is going to be a cross country runner. At age two, he was already able to run a mile!

This week's challenge is to eat healthy meals. I fell off the bandwagon on that last week so this is a great challenge to get me going this week. If you will remember, my husband was working insane hours last week. Due to this and a very cranky 3 year old, I never found time to go to the grocery store. He picked up milk one day on the way home from work but that was it. I had a few frozen veggies in my freezer and a few still left in my garden, but that was all the produce we had since I never made it to the store. By the end of the week, I was missing my produce. I made it to the store on Monday though so I'm stocked up again with lots of fruits and veggies and I have a meal plan in place.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Organizing 101: Mail

Mail can easily take over your house if you are not careful. The best tip I have ever heard is to open your mail over a trash can. I open my mail into 3 piles: trash, recycling, needs further action. Since I'm opening the mail directly over the trash can, the first pile is already taken care of. I then put the items that can be recycled into my recycling bag. Finally, anything that needs further action goes into a file sitting near the trash can. Every few days I sit down and go through that file and take action on as much as possible. Ideally I would take care of things as soon as I opened it but with two kids, that isn't always possible. The idea is to handle mail as few times as possible and get rid of the junk as soon as you can so that it does not get mixed into the important papers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

How To Earn Extra Income Through Direct Sales Series

I've had several readers ask me questions related to my Tupperware business so I thought I would start a short series on direct sales. Direct sales businesses are a wonderful way to earn some extra income for the upcoming holidays and still allow you to stay home with kids during the day. The series will kick off next week when I share my story and why I chose Tupperware.

In the meantime, if you have any questions you would like addressed regarding direct sales or Tupperware, please leave me a comment or email me and I will do my best to address them.

Ecostore USA winner

Congratulations to rubynreba who won the Ecostore USA giveaway. I've sent her an email and she has 48 hours to claim her prize.

Food Friday: Oatmeal Scotties

I discovered this recipe years ago when it was published in our local newspaper. While cleaning out a file area this week, I came across it again. I'm hoping to make some of these soon because they are delicious.

Oatmeal Scotties

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
11 oz butterscotch flavored morsels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Once these are well combined, gradually beat in the flour mixture; then stir in the oats and morsels.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. Bake 7-8 minutes, then remove cookies from baking sheet and place, separated, on a platter and allow to cool.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Body After Baby Challenge: Week Two


This week is the second week of the Body After Baby Challenge from Mama Notes. Last week's challenge was to drink more water. I did good and upped my water intake for the week. I didn't do as well as I hoped in the Diet Coke area but I did decrease it so that counts, right? I've tried to limit myself to one serving per day and I even went two days without one.

This week's challenge is to walk. I love to walk but it will definitely be a challenge this week. I cannot take walks with my preschooler because he runs off and he can climb out of a stroller so that idea is out too. I have a treadmill but he likes to walk on that too which is dangerous. My husband normally watches the kids so I can walk or we go as a family so one can watch the baby and the other can chase the preschooler. Unfortunately, he is working at least 60 hours this week so there is little time for his help. I am committed to losing the weight though so I will try to get in at least 30 minutes 3 days this week. I know it isn't much, but I'm being realistic. I will report back next week on how I did. It really does help that all of my readers are keeping me accountable!

Tightwad Tuesday: Preschool Activities

As my long time readers know, I have an extremely active preschooler. I have to constantly plan projects and outings for him to keep him from running around like crazy and getting in trouble. He began preschool a little over a month ago so I've been trying to find projects that correlate with what he is learning in school. I've found some great online resources with printable crafts and coloring pages. For most, you only need markers or crayons, glue, scissors and possibly some construction paper. There are some more elaborate activities on some of these sites, but I find the simple ones are pretty fun to put together.

First School Offers crafts and activities by theme. This makes it easy to work on a theme for a week at a time because there are usually many ideas for each theme.

Enchanted Learning Offers a several things for K-3 also but has some good printables and games for the younger crowd too.

Free Kid Crafts Written from the heart of a mother, includes some recipes too.

DLTK I've used this site for years to find good Bible crafts for when I was teaching Sunday School and VBS. They have more than just biblical crafts though and you can even search through their craft pages by materials needed.

If you have any great sites you use, feel free to leave a comment - I'm always looking for new ways to entertain my oldest child.

Also, today is the last day to enter my Ecostore USA giveaway. Click on the link and head on over to enter before it is too late.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Organization 101: Plan Ahead

I hear people complain all the time about how hard it is to get ready and out the door each a morning with children. I agree, it is not easy, but if you plan ahead, it can be easier. On days we know we need to someowhere by a certain time, we do as much prep work as possible the night before. I lay out the clothes for everyone. Pack diaper bags, backpacks, etc. Set out the breakfast dishes. Find any coats or jackets if necessary. Then, I set everything I can inside the car so I'm not frantically trying to grab it on the way out the door. The days I plan ahead, life runs much smoother. The days I try to wing it, I'm a mess by the time we get out the door.

My organizing challenge for you this week is to plan ahead and see what a difference it can make in your morning.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Food Friday to return next week

Sorry for the delay in posting Food Friday - it has been one of those weeks. I had a great line up of posts for this week but finding time to write them has been a challenge. I will be back next week with the organizing tips, Food Friday, and more.

In the meantime, please sign up for the Ecostore USA I posted earlier this week.

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