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Monday, April 14, 2014

Becoming Food Consious

Okay, don't go crazy off the deep end, either way, for this post... I just want to get some thoughts out while I'm in this 'grey space' about this issue.



I almost always avoid organic foods, because our budget just doesn't let us even consider anything more than the 'cheapest' items on the shelf.
I don't read ingredients, and my family eats all kinds of processed foods, meaning a good part of our groceries come from the middle of the store.
"From scratch" in this house means it's not a freezer meal - canned and boxed ingredients are totally part of the recipe.
Fast food is food for us. We eat fast food as a family 2-4 times a week. Yes, this includes McDonald's.

That being said, I've recently begun to stop ignoring things like MSG. Don't get me wrong - I don't order food with 'no MSG', but I've begun to let my brain process things, question things, and rationalize through them. It doesn't hurt that my husband, though he isn't SUPER healthy himself, mentally balances his nutrients through the day, exercises almost every day, and was a Chemistry major at Georgia Tech before he switched to Computing...

These are some thoughts that have begun to pass through my brain recently. Some are prompted by family and friends 'stubborn healthy choices', and others are from me realizing what I truly want my kids to consume - not that it's a new revelation, but it's sort of realizing that the 'food pyramid' that I learned growing up is pretty far away from my 'I don't care, as long as they eat' attitude.

  • MSG, from my simple understanding, is like sprinkling addiction and tastiness on otherwise likely terrible and unhealthy food. You wonder why Chinese buffets at the mall food court give you samples? It's because there's MSG on that piece of sesame or teriyaki chicken that grabs your mouth like a fish hook and then you want to buy THEIR food. And not just a reasonable portion... it tastes so good, you'll likely eat all the pounds of food they price out as an average meal.
  • 'Crack fries' as I call them... I asked hubby the other day while we were eating dinner at McD's if they taste good because they add something like MSG. He said no, (?!?!) going on to explain they probably don't even bother with the extra effort. They just add meat juice to the fries, so the fats and proteins make you think they are more 'food' than they really are. (He reads a lot more than I do... and this came from an article about vegans suing McDs over the fries, supposedly from potatoes, not being vegan, which is misleading)
  • French fries, in general, at any restaurant - I've noticed my children will eat NOTHING BUT the fries from their meal if they get the choice at the beginning. I've begun, about 4 months ago, restricting the fries until after they eat everything else. Usually, now, they fill up and don't think twice about the possibility of fries. OR I just don't order fries at all. And this awareness crosses over to other people dining with us. I know that, if ANYONE at the table orders fries, I can just forgo the attempt at them eating healthier choices. That is, unless there is an option for zucchini fries or fried green beans that I can pass off as 'french fries'. I know it's not the same as straight veggies, but it's got to be better, right?
  • I am a 'to each his own' kind of person, and I understand dietary choices and restrictions can be because of medical reasons. Gluten free isn't a big deal for us, at the moment, but I've noticed a common correlation between GF lifestyles and gallbladder. A couple of my friends who found gluten-free to be better for their bodies, didn't have these issues after having their gallbladder removed. But, then again, the removal of a gall bladder can also cause your system to go hay-wire. So it's not a given, but it's definitely something to consider if you still have your gallbladder and choose to eat gluten free for medical reasons. But for now, gluten stays in our diet, but it is something I think about...
  • Although it's not the healthiest choice I can make, but a better choice within my budget, in the last year we've started doing our grocery shopping at Aldi. They have produce, organic and otherwise. Though it's not a full selection at the peak of ripeness, it's usually what's in season, and the best prices. But for a few cheap avocados, I can wait a couple of days to make guacamole from scratch. And yes, I mean from scratch this time. Aldi lets us bring home more produce than processed foods at a price we can afford. I gave up couponing when we switched (because Aldi doesn't accept coupons), but it's typically coming out even for our everyday stuff.
Well, there you have it. My mindset on nutrition isn't black and white anymore, nor is it totally ignorant by choice. I'm conflicted. I don't have the convictions or the budget to go crazy health nut on things... plus I'm lazy, just being honest. But there is some serious debate in my head when I'm making food choices for my family now.

Just don't be surprised if I just need some 'crack fries' one day.
Yes, it will still happen, for now.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tech Tips for your CDM Business


I became a Tupperware Consultant in late spring 2013, and I quickly realized all the benefits of being tech-savvy in this industry.

Our world has become very technologically integrated. Most Americans have a camera phone or a Smartphone, and Social Media participation is becoming a significantly more common. It is beneficial to have apps and websites that help you quickly and easily share your business with the world.

Converting File Types:

When Customer Direct Marketing (or CDM) companies distribute sales fliers to consultants, they are either in PDF or image (PNG or JPG) file format. Sometimes, you might find it difficult to share these files in the original format, so converting it to a more usable format is very helpful. The website I use for this most often is www.zamzar.com. It is a free site service, with a paid upgrade option. The free option is simple.


You upload the original file you wish to convert, enter the file type you are converting to, and click 'Convert'. The site will upload your file, convert it, and then email you in a couple of minutes with a temporary link where you can download your converted file. The site will store your converted file for 24 hours. Zamzar's paid option will store your converted files for a greater period of time, but I just simply go through the free process to save myself the cost.

You can convert to and from many different file types on this site, not just PDF and image files. Check it out!


Making Your Own Infographics:

One of the fastest ways to get a potential customer's attention online is with a photo. Scrolling through text can be visually boring, so when an image appears in someones inbox or news feed, it's more appealing to the online user.

An "infographic" is information that is stored in or on a photo (or 'graphic'). These can be used to educate people, advertise, or simply be a humorous joke. You may have seen funny eCards or memes that make it across the internet. Now you can make your own to advertise sales and connect with your customers!

The quick app for making infographics that I use is PhotoGrid. It can be downloaded FREE for Android or iPhone.
PhotoGrid allows you to combine multiple photos, and add text and clip art to enhance the photo. 
Here's a couple of online tutorials showing you different aspects of the app, but the best way to learn is to play around and make your own infographic!



And here are some of the ones I've created in the past!


 An additional tip to allow you to do even more with your PhotoGrid app is to learn how to take a screenshot on your phone. It is a function that allows you to take a quick photo of whatever you are looking at on your screen at the time. This allows you to open up the sales brochure, flip to a page or a product, and take a picture of that item, for example if you wanted to feature a particular product. Since the 'screenshot' feature can vary for each device (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), to find out how to take a 'screenshot' on your device, just search on Google! On my Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, I just hold the home key and power key at the same time, and it takes the screenshot.


Social Media:

Social Media sites are the up and coming way to communicate and stay in touch with friends and acquaintances. You may even have a Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account for your personal use. For your business, social media sites can be a great strength, but they can also be a great weakness if they are not used properly.


Research different types of social media sites. Find out what sites your customers are already using - that's a good bet that other potential customers are using the same site! Make sure to look, in depth, at how each site differs, and learn what the potential uses are for your business.

Facebook is one of the most common Social Media sites for the United States today. Facebook really makes it easy to separate your personal and business sites, by allowing you to create a 'page' for your business. This 'page' allows you to share photos and posts, and connect with your customers that 'like' your page. Your posts will show up in those peoples' news feeds, where they read about what is going on in their friends lives and the communities that share their interests.


  • Engage your customers by posting regularly. Organization tips, recipes, and photos of you using your products are great ways to do that with your Tupperware business, in addition to the sales and party reminders. Facebook will show posts that have a lot of activity more often than those with just one or two likes.
  • Pages can also create events. This allows you to safely disconnect your hosts' information from your personal Facebook Profile, yet still make the party 'digital' and connect through the Facebook Event.
  • Add the link to your Facebook Business Page on your business cards. There are plenty of customers that might rather connect with you this way, rather than phone or email since they're already online regularly.
  • Be sure to check your page regularly. There is an admin section at the top that allows you to see notifications and messages. These are separate from your personal notifications and messages, so remember you're representing your business.
  • Facebook has advertising options, including promoting specific posts that you want to have seen by more users. This is a hit or a miss, depending on when you post and how it reaches. Some consultants have found it beneficial, only spending $10 or so and getting 10 or more new likes, resulting in new customers and more sales. Some consultants will pour $100 or more into various posts and get no result. Just keep in mind that this is an unconventional advertising method for us, so use it sparingly, and knowing it could equally be a great help or a big flop.
  • Keep your private life private. Don't air your dirty laundry. Well, unless your husband leaves your Chef Series knives in the bottom of the sink, dirty. That is okay. But your customers don't need to know when your kids are sick, when you get in a fight with a friend, etc. Remember, you are *always* your business owner. There is never a time when you 'clock out' and go home. Your customers can reach you any time, so be careful what you post.
  • To continue reaching out to your friends and family, you can share the posts you make on your Facebook Page, on your personal page. It allows you to filter what posts you share - maybe all those tips and tricks would overwhelm and turn off your friends? Only share the sales and 'last call' reminder posts. Find what works for you!
Reaching out to customers in this digital age can be challenging, but I hope these few tidbits help! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

WHY Pickles and Ice Cream??

Our announcement photo -
taking advantage of 'Snow Jam 2014'
So I have some exciting news - we're expecting another baby dork this fall. This will be #3, and our last child, as per our 'plans'.

I'm about 5-6 weeks along now. I'll know more when I go to the doctor this week - my plans to go this last week kinda got snowed on...



So to sum things up, I'm:
exhausted
parched
nauseous
sore
nauseous
achy
starving
tired
nauseous
weak
hungry
nauseous
thirsty
nauseous
and craving random things all at once.

No, not pickles and ice cream. Not every pregnant woman craves pickles and ice cream. And not every pregnancy for the same woman has the same symptoms and cravings.

It's not very common to want or crave things you don't really like normally just because you're pregnant. I'm not a pickle person. I don't care if it is on ice cream, or beer battered and fried, I don't like them. They're slimy and stinky and the smell lingers for HOURS, no matter how many baby wipes you use or whether you bathe the children that seem to have showered in pickles... Yeah. I don't really like pickles.

A side story on pickles - Sunday night, when we decided to take our at-home pregnancy test, I ran to Kroger to buy them, and the guy in front of me dropped a jar of pickles in the checkout lane. It was cool, accidents happen, especially since he's a disabled veteran in a wheelchair. I laughed it off, but I kinda took it as a sign that this test was going to be positive. And it was.
Not really me, but almost. Red hair...
You can tell because I would NEVER
eat cherries!

Anyway. I like ice cream. I always have. My first pregnancy, with my Munchkin, I drank TONS of milk and chased prettymuch every meal with some sort of ice cream. Yes this seems to be a little much... it was. But it was glorious and I had practically NO heartburn the entire pregnancy. Dairy is great like that, and I can't stand the chalky-ness of Tums, so ice cream it was! I also tended to overcorrect my cravings from sweet to salty and back extremely during that pregnancy too. Not sure what it was, but she was a healthy, happy baby at 6.5 lbs and I had no Gestational Diabetes... so I guess I didn't hit the spoon too hard.



Pregnancy #2 was a little different. I had a 1 year old Munchkin to keep up with and I was a stay at home mom. We slept in late, and I would get up and tend to her and forget to take my prenatal vitamins almost every day. Seriously, I didn't even make it through one 90 ct bottle the entire pregnancy... that's less than 90 pills used over 40 weeks (280 days). Yes. I was a bad Mommy. BUT it made me regain faith in my body's ability to compensate for needs. I craved 'healthy' foods during that pregnancy. I wanted Greek Gyro Wraps, salads especially wedge salads with bleu cheese dressing (I know the whole pasteurized cheese rule, but I'm MADE of cheese... and I followed all the REST of the rules about raw/undercooked meats and mercury in seafoods and all the restricted meds, so give me my cheese!). My most frequent craving? You know that salad they give you before they light the grill on fire and burn your eyebrows off at the expensive Hibachi restaurants? So there's this salad dressing that they put on the simple lettuce and carrot shaving salad and they DON'T sell it in stores. Believe me, I tried 4 different ginger dressings (that weren't cheap, either) and they were SO not the same AT ALL.


OMG I craved that salad like it was the end of the world!! BUT you can walk into the restaurant and order a batch of that dressing to go. It's not cheap - a pint was about $12 at my Hibachi place, Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse in Douglasville, GA. And for a pregnant woman, that pint was about two bags of salad... that lasted me about 6 hours. I could eat salad for every meal of every day for over half of my pregnancy and I wouldn't have gotten enough. I guess I got just the right balance of nutrients through my minimal prenatal vitamins and meals because our Rugrat was a bouncing baby boy at 6.5ish lbs too! 


This time around, I'm only 5-6 weeks along, meaning I've been 'pregnant' and having symptoms for about 3-4 weeks now. My cravings haven't been super strong, but, combined with our family getting over a stomach virus, I want egg rolls. All day today, I've wanted egg rolls. And pound cake.
 


Now, before you noobs go crazy thinking I mean egg rolls with a side of pound cake, I don't. I just mean that I know my mind says egg rolls would be really tasty right now. And pound cake would be equally tasty. And since neither of them are logical, and I'm pregnant anyway, why are you going to make me choose? I mean, it's not like I'll actually be able to eat as much pound cake and egg rolls as I'm asking for, because A that's just silly and B I'll be nauseous by bite #4, but if you get it for me, I'll be grateful. Even if they sit in my fridge for a week and eventually get fed to the dogs.

Because it's what I want right now... that's why.

And as I'm posting this, egg rolls are making their way to my house. Because nobody delivers pound cake...


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Doctor Who Party

Whew! It's been a whirlwind last few weeks. I've been ridiculously busy with life, and on top of everything else, trying to throw together an amazing viewing party for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special... on the cheap.

I've made a few trips to some thrift stores, had to finally actually change the toner cartridge in my b/w printer (I kept shaking it as long as possible), and I'm really proud of what I was able to pull together.

I have so many pics in this post, including how-to's and pictures from the actual party. Take a look at all the awesome crafting I've been able to get done, and I'll try and estimate costs as best I can - when you're get into a crafting groove, sometimes you forget to jot down the wax pen price before you wipe it off the whatever you bought a the thrift store for an unbeatable price!

8  kvbmbmb5888iiiiiiiiioooooooooooo < Munchkin hijacked my blog post while I was away from the computer for a second. Minimal damage, thankfully.



Sharpie mug - I researched many online tutorials and decided permanent was best. I picked up an enamel pen and clear spray enamel sealer for under $8 total, and I did 4 mugs, this Dalek mug included, plus I have more pen and sealer left for Christmas crafting!

This WAS a rustic French countryside wine box. I didn't take a before picture, and I didn't realize until it was TARDIS blue! I think it looks MUCH better. Also not pictured: Inside the top, I painted, "Hello, Sweetie!" because that's totally what you say when you need, and find, a bottle of wine.

Sonic Screwdriver earrings. I decided to do these with only days before the party. I wish I had found more accurate cylindrical beads, but these were actually a pretty big hit. I did one green bead and one blue bead per set, so each person had a 10th and 11th SS.

I apologize for the HUGE amount of pictures with each of these crafts - I wanted to make sure to photograph them step-by-step. The first three are Mod Podge Photo to Wood, Dalek Pinata made from scratch, and one of my all time favorite crafts (I did one for both the Mario and Zelda rooms) - the themed clock. I made a Cyberman clock for the Doctor Who party. 


Next, we have a super easy and cheap Doctor Who themed paper garland, 10th and 11th Doctor window silhouettes on the cheap, etched custom designs on glassware, and a TARDIS dress out of a less-than-$6 find at the thrift store!




More decor... The front door, and do you see the TARDIS in each of the paintings on the mantle?

Our potluck feast of Dalektible yummies!


Broken Pieces of TARDIS (Blue Chips), Bowties Are Cool Pasta Salad, Muddy Flying Saucers (Gluten Free PB cookies), Demon's Run Deviled Eggs  v


^ Dalek ships, Beheaded Sontarans, Custard (in the pitcher) and Fish Fingers 
Miniature Angel Cakes,          "Righty" heart-shaped Oreo cake,                Scotch Eggs (Paleo friendly)
Slitheen Eggs,                                            Bowties,                            Cassandra Pizza Pie




Intensely watching the Anniverary special!! More people arrived after I snapped these pics. :)

... And then there's the "Ace the Dalek" pinata beatdown.  >:D


The disembodied Dalek pinata ^, and the cheater >
[Cheater = hubby who knew how I assembled the Dalek pinata with duct tape, and decided to spare everyone hours of beating it with a bat... so he found an axe and prettymuch took it out with one fine swoop. The proof is in the video!]

Me in my TARDIS dress and my wonderful friend, Beth, as Captain Jack

Photobomb!                  And Jeff felt naked without a fez... so we found him one!


Some bowtie-wearing awesome friends enjoying the party comfortably!


THIS was amazing. I thought of it last minute and it was a hit! There were people who refused to go to the bathroom once they found out it was in there... WIN! And seriously cheap!

My kiddos arrived late to the party, but they had fun playing with a couple of sonic screwdrivers. Their shirts are painted on, and red satin ribbon sewn on for the bowtie and suspenders. Yes, the back of the suspenders is sewn on, not embroidered.


One happy, distracted family!






We pulled out Pictionary after a while!


Now, if you're a true Whovian, and you'd like to make some of these yourself, say, for the upcoming Christmas Special that airs just shy of a month from now... well, you're in luck! I've included some of the printables that may make your decorating easier! If you do use these for your party, send me the pictures - I'd love to see them!

Bad Wolf Door Banner - Print as a 3x3 banner, and it will print on 3 pages, 6 will be blank.
Notice for Bad Wolf TARDIS - prints on one page as an 8x10




Weeping Angel for the back of a door: Print each half as a 4x4 banner. It is about 30" wide & 60" tall.

Some of the images I used for etching.



The two printables for the garland. I printed the TARDIS one on blue construction paper, and the "Doctor Who" oval one on plain white printer paper, both 8x10 sheets.