Terra Verde Online

The Simple Life. The Good Life.


February 22, 2014
by Angie

‘Aloe, there

Now that I’ve gone natural, I’m never going back.

I’ve tried everything, but I have some sensitivities, so it all made me look like I had pink eye. I vowed to be the plain girl. After all, the alternative was to be “the girl with the red eyes.”

I don’t relish the Yoda look, so I went Plain Jane.

I discovered Clinique and liked it alright. At least, it was makeup that I could wear! I used it for a while, but I didn’t like the fact that they are hypoallergenic, but still chemical laden like all the other brands.

And then my research kind of bowled me over. I knew that makeup contained all kinds of nastiness, but had chosen to ignore it. Upon learning that what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your blood stream, I consulted Dr. Google. Every brand I looked up had formaldehyde, sulphur, petroleum, and animal guts. (I’m serious… poop, eyeballs, the whole enchilada.) I’m not a vegan. I enjoy bacon and I wear leather. But I draw the line at animal guts on my face.

And the mascara? Tar and shoe polish. Still serious.

One of my friends introduced me to L’Bri at a very opportune time. I was looking to replace my Clinique with something natural. Not because it’s a bad product, because it’s not, but because they don’t make any claims about being natural, which incites a little bit of fear that they, too, might contain all kinds of things that I would rather not know about.

L’Bri is remarkably aloe-based rather than water or mineral oil based. It doesn’t conceal flaws; it revitalizes, detoxes, and repairs your skin instead. I’m able to wear it, and it smooths my skin out. I have chronically puffy eyes, which are turning into crow’s feet at an indelibly young age. ;-) The eye gel, which is also aloe based, is producing better results than anything I’ve ever tried. It’s like a facelift in a bottle!

I may be biased, considering that it’s one of the only things that I can use, but it’s produced some amazing results.

With that in mind, I decided to become a consultant. I get a nice discount, and my family and friends get a life changing product. We are a crows-feetless family! ;-)

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February 19, 2014
by Angie

Apparently, I am not a sales person.

So, today, I’m having a day that is a bit disheartening. I’ve had a week that has had the momentum of an aerobics class—I am smart, I am sexy, I am confident, I can do anything. I had a bit of a reality dose last night that is making me reevaluate some things.

OK, I’ll say it.

I am not a salesperson.

I hate selling.

I wish I were good at selling.

I can rock some marketing, but sales is different. Sales is face to face.

But if someone says to me, “I just don’t have the money, I can’t afford it, I’ll get evicted if I don’t get a handle on my money, and on top of that, my dog died,” I pretty much just melt. And sometimes give them whatever I was trying to sell.

On the one hand, I know that being faithful to the sales process does yield results, that I have to get through so many “no” answers to uncover the “yes” answers, but on the other, I also feel like I don’t want to be that horribly annoying, nails on a chalkboard, run when you see them Mary Kay type of person. (And no, I don’t sell Mary Kay- I find Mary Kay consultants to be some of the most annoying people ever, though. No offense if you are one. I blame the way you’re trained… but hey, apparently, it works.)

So here I go to pick up my momentum again. I am going to rock this thing. And YouTube some training videos. Hopefully I can learn how to sell without chasing all my friends away.

Those of you who are able to do that, even if you sell Mary Kay, my hat is off to you!

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February 18, 2014
by Angie

Shop Local

Why are small businesses such a big deal? I’ve always had a huge penchant for things that are handmade, locally crafted, or a little more “raw” or “green.” I love me some hand-woven baskets, hand-thrown pottery, Amish or Shaker wood furniture, and farmer’s markets. There’s just something about them that makes me feel like this is real life, not some fake plastic mirage of real life.

I know that no matter what I do, my kid is going to accumulate a fair number of cheap plastic noisy toys, but my goal is to get him hooked on real things, like books, puzzles, toys made of natural materials, and games.

(ETA: even though I’m all about a flea market, thrift store, farmer’s market, and arts and crafts fair, I do love some mall shopping, franchised coffee shops, and larger service providers. There’s a time and place for everything, I guess!)

There is something to be said for developing skill, as opposed to just finding ways to pass the time.

On the one hand, bigger businesses have a necessary time and place. I’m not against big businesses, when operating ethically, and I don’t think that we should never buy an item if it is mass produced.

But at the same time, there are so many people seeking to create their own opportunities, to be financially independent, to not spin their wheels in a thankless job. They want to work hard and get ahead by creating their own path. In lieu of that, it’s really important to support the little guy, to invest money into people who are growing the local economy.

Often, it’s a higher quality product and/or a better price. It’s environmentally friendly, because the transportation and packaging are often infinitely less than something that was made overseas. It helps keep the charm and personality of your own community, rather than shopping at a cookie cutter copy of the same business in another town. It often has better customer service—no overseas call centers, no putting you in the back of the line with a pre-recorded message of “appreciation.”

Small business is the life blood of America. Without farmers, repair men, shop owners, craftsmen, and independent service providers/ consultants, we’d be stuck in a very impersonal, mass produced world. IMO, it’s a pretty big deal.

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February 11, 2014
by Angie

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is just one of those things for me. I set this blog aside when I started my Master’s Degree because I thought that I shouldn’t do anything that detracted from my studies. I’ve since had a baby, built a business, and did everything except blog.

Juggling is life. Clearing clutter from your schedule just makes room for more clutter. Instead of elimination, it’s time for careful selection of the “clutter” that is most valuable.

I realized that I shouldn’t drop things so I can focus more. I need to develop the skill of focusing, or the time I drop will get filled up with other things. Multitasking is a super important skill that I sorely lack.

I can join the ranks of the overwhelmed, or I can learn to juggle.

So here I am, juggling.

I’m not sure what happened in between putting this blog aside for my Master’s Degree (which I’m still working on) and now. A combination of laziness and crippling fear sent this blog into the dismal fog where forgotten blogs go, and I’m grasping to get it back. Fear of opening up to the online world, fear of not saying anything people are interested in reading, and fear of wasting my time.

The next step is to hold firm. I am here, today, pulling this blog out of the abyss, but it will go right back if I don’t hang on to it.

So, hello again, blogosphere. Hopefully we’ll be lifelong friends, and I’ll try to not ditch you again.

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April 1, 2012
by Angie

Spring Cleaning Series

Last year during spring cleaning, I documented the whole process and shared my progress with you. I probably won’t document it this year, but I thought you might like to learn from my mad skillz.

Actually, in all honesty, I’m hoping someone will e-mail me and tell me how to make this whole ordeal easier. :-)

Here’s my annual process:

Spring Cleaning Day #1: A Smashing Success

Spring Cleaning Day #2: Happiness Is…

Spring Cleaning Day #3: Just Keep Swimming

Spring Cleaning Day #4: I see the Light

Spring Cleaning Day #5: The Finish Line

Spring Cleaning: The Ultimate Checklist

I hope you will benefit from this. Happy Spring Cleaning!

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Book 2

March 1, 2012
by Angie

10 Ideas for Would-Be Authors

I’ve always wanted to write a book and get it published. There is something about the world of authors that just draws me in. I love literature and reading, and certain names (Wordsworth, Austen, Poe, Thackeray, Alcott, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Whitman to name a few) that really make me want to just curl up with a quilt, a cat, a cup of tea, and an old book.

One time, I heard someone say in reference to e-readers that “if it doesn’t have yellowed corners and smell funky, it’s not really reading.” I have to agree; there is something very sentimental and nostalgic about holding an actual, honest-to-God book.

Honestly, I am a frustrated writer myself. I have lots of unfinished manuscripts, thanks to writer’s block.

And writer’s block.

And writer’s block.

And writer’s block.

They are a combination of things that I think no one except myself will like, humorous anecdotes that sort of end in an abysmal void (I’m not entirely sure what the original point was), and some personal memoirs that I am a little scared to publish.

That being said, I’m learning about this writing thing as I go along. Right along with you. Here is some advice that I’ve learned (or someone else is trying to teach me) at the moment.

  1. Read to write. Readers are not always writers, but seldom are writers non-readers. Find a genre that fascinates you and get buried in it.
  2. Start small. Small can mean a blog, a self-published newsletter, or a column in your neighborhood post.
  3. Read On Writing Well—The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Knowlton Zinsser.
  4. Read The Elements of Style by EB White.
  5. Write in the shortest form possible. I love flowery language and big words like trepidations. Don’t be like me, saying trepidations when nervous will do.
  6. Read How to Get Happily Published- A Complete and Candid Guide by Judith Appelbaum
  7. Subscribe to Writer’s Digest magazine.
  8. Don’t write for prestige. Remember that most authors (think Whitman, Dickinson, and Austen) didn’t receive a lot of recognition for their work. Some authors never receive recognition in their lifetimes. You might not reap the fruits right away, so just write from what you know, from what is inside you.
  9. Get better. Once you have been published, continually work on refining your skills and your craft. Just because you are published does not make you good.
  10. “Search your own life for the story only you can tell. The best thing about writing from life is that you can be sure of using original material. And no research is needed beyond the time you spend looking deep inside your own heart.” -Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
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March 1, 2012
by Angie

12 Ways to Unleash the Power of… Vinegar?

It’s good for the environment. It’s non-toxic. It’s natural. And it’s powerful.

It’s vinegar, and it is good for way more than enhancing your fish and chips. Here’s a list of ways you can unleash this natural-but-powerful chemical in your house.

1) Pour vinegar in a spray bottle and scrub your shower with it. It’s a natural mold killer!

2) Mix it with linseed oil and polish your furniture with vinegar.

3) Clean your glasses with a drop of vinegar to avoid smears.

4) Soak propane lantern wicks in vinegar. Dry before lighting them. The wick will burn longer.

5) Dissolve salt in vinegar to remove tea and coffee stains from your dishes.

6) Marinate your meat in it. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to your regular marinade to tenderize the meat and kill any bacteria.

7) Spray it on your sidewalk cracks to kill weeds.

8) Water your flowers with it if your tap water is hard. Add 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of tap water.

9) Perk up your cut flowers by adding a drop of vinegar to the water.

10) Mix apple cider vinegar with water and honey to cure a sore throat.

11) Soak your feet in it to cure athlete’s foot.

12) Scrub your scalp with white distilled vinegar to get rid of dandruff. Then follow with your normal shampoo.

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March 1, 2012
by Angie

Festive Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s nearly tradition for me to buy cans of pumpkin on the first day of October. That’s when I begin to cook with pumpkin. In October, it begins with bread and rolls. The closer we get to the winter holidays, it transforms into pies and other treats.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 15 oz. Pumpkin Puree
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 c. Oil
  • 2/3 c. Water
  • 3 c. Sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. Ginger

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans. Mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until blended. Separately whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mix. Pour into pans. Bake 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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This is my favorite website for advice related to cooking as well as cookware and other kitchen essentials. And recipes galore, too!

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March 1, 2012
by Angie
1 Comment

5 Free Marketing Ideas

In my opinion, marketing is one of the most important success factors in growing your business.

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.

Marketing is the way you talk about your business, the way others talk about your business, and the way people get to know your business. It is really important that you learn how to promote your business. If nobody knows that your business exists, how will you gain new customers?

I collect “bad marketing” stories and tuck them away in my brain. One of my favorites was a company I came into contact with at a trade show. This company was selling luxury cruises, and the representative was very well spoken and enthusiastic. However, there was a major flaw in the presentation. Apparently, they ran out of brochures prior to the trade show. I think the original brochure was a high resolution, high quality graphic showing a caribbean beach. However, instead of ordering more brochures, they xeroxed 100 copies of their last brochure in black and white. What I saw (when I squinted) was a splotchy and speckled black and white blob that presumably represented an ideal vacation.

And it was copied crooked.

My first thought was, “if your ship is built with the same quality as your brochure, you couldn’t pay me to take a cruise on it!”

Talk about a Titanic mistake!

Sorry. Bad joke.

Marketing can make it or break it. However, marketing is also expensive. Renting a billboard or taking out a high quality ad can cost you a small fortune. Especially as a start up, you don’t need to buy these things at first. Here are five ways to market your business without breaking the bank:

  1. Think in terms of buzz. How can you get people to talk about your product and share it with others? Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are examples of viral marketing.
  2. Collect contact information (with permission) and send out postcards and e-mails.
  3. Give away free samples of your product. Make sure your website URL is printed on it!
  4. Get to know reporters at your local newspaper.
  5. Write a press release and submit it to newspapers and magazines.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to get the word out about your business. Get creative and innovative, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Below is a link to Moo, one of my favorite online printers. They have cute mini-business cards and creative ideas for marketing pieces! Of course, they have all the standard stuff, too. Check it out!Business Cards, MiniCards, Postcards and more

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Flatnose Shark

March 1, 2012
by Angie

Like a Sea of Sharks: How to Handle Business Competition

One of the things that overwhelmed me when I was doing marketing consulting was the competition. It was like swimming in a sea of sharks.

They would either push their business onto you, or they would be friendly. (Then you would find out that they were stealing your customers behind a friendly facade.)

Don’t get me wrong; I had some amazing business relationships with people who handled their businesses ethically. They were polite, professional, classy, and respected the perimiters.

But the sharks were really hard to deal with. Partially because it was hard to tell the difference sometimes.

And the way you treat your competitors affects your business reputation. Many businesses have good, professional relationships with competitors. Treating your competitors with fairness and respect will help you develop a positive reputation and earn respect.

Competitors don’t have to cut each other down. Here are some things to do that will help you build successful business relationships with other people in your industry:

  1. Congratulate them when they achieve something.
  2. Build Strategic Alliances with businesses who have proven that you can trust them.
  3. If you are selling out the wazoo (or if a customer asks for something that you don’t offer), send business to your competitor.
  4. Don’t be a shark, but also don’t be the little fish that gets eaten. Never ‘bite’ a competitor or succumb to unethical or shady business practices. At the same time, don’t let others do the same to you.

Business competition can actually be a very healthy thing. Challenge each other to be better, treat each other with fairness, and the market can accommodate both of you.

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March 1, 2012
by Angie

Reorganizing my Linen Closet

My linen closet was in dire need of help.

So much so that I won’t even show you the ‘before’ pictures.

I spent only about 30 minutes re-folding what had come unfolded, sorting and categorizing the items according to how we use them.

And this is what I came up with:

1) Top shelf: extra blankets

2) Middle shelf: sheet sets (left), towels (right)

3) Bottom shelf: place mats, table cloths, and shower curtains (left), dish towels and hand towels (right)

<insert Hallelujah chorus here>


PS- I organized my sheets by inserting the whole folded set into one of the pillowcases. No more searching for that missing last piece!

PPS- Do you think I have enough dish towels and hand towels?

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March 1, 2012
by Angie

Sandra’s Twice Baked Potatoes

My friend Sandra gave me the recipe for these wonderful twice baked potatoes. Besides the fact that I am a potato fiend, this dish is amazing! They are also easy to make for just one person. Instant willpower to not have seconds!


  • 4 large potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour. Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins. (Tip: leave a small crust of baked potato in the skin. This will help the potato retain its shape and serve as an edible, self-made bowl.) Add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup grated cheese to the potato flesh in a separate bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese and bacon. Bake for another 15 minutes.

    Variations to the filling:

    • add a spoonful of cream cheese before mixing
    • add sauteed onions
    • add steamed broccoli chunks
    • Top with bacon bits and chives

    It’s a great life!

    This is my favorite website for advice related to cooking as well as cookware and other kitchen essentials. And recipes galore, too!

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    Christmas Card blue 11-24-10 amb

    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Snowman Christmas Card Templates

    Someone at work asked me if I would do her a favor and design “a fat snowman with character” in my free time. I created some postcards, Christmas cards, and some other stuff for her to use. I had fun designing her project; it’s relaxing.

    However, that leads me to a confession: I’m not really “into” snowmen. I don’t decorate with them, and I don’t really like cheesy “snowmen melt your heart” sentiments at Christmas. In fact, my sister in law and I joke about snowmen every year and try to find the cheesiest, silliest snowmen ornaments to laugh at in the stores on Black Friday.

    I feel liberated after confessing my feelings about snowmen.

    But if you do like snowmen, Moo, PrintingForLess, or VistaPrint would happily print these cards out for you. Or, you can print them out yourself. The dimensions are 3.5 x 5″, so you can either print them as postcards or on the front of a folded Christmas card. Or, if you want to see more Christmas Card templates, let me know what you’d like to see! You can leave a comment below. I’ll post your requested designs for download.

    Click here to download the PDF version for printing: Christmas Card blue 11-24-10 amb

    Click here to download the PDF version for printing: Christmas Card blue 2 11-24-10 amb

    Click here to download the PDF version for printing: Christmas Card trees 11-24-10 amb

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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Good Read: Shabby Chic Home by Rachael Ashwell

     When I was about 15 or so, my mom and dad went to a window gallery so they could order replacement windows for our house. For whatever reason, I went with them and sat in the waiting area while they looked at windows. The Shabby Chic Home was in the obligatory book and magazine collection, so I spent the entire time drooling over it. I have always loved vintage things, even when I was a kid, so this book was a real find. If you liked Domino, you will love this book.

    And as soon as I had a way to make purchases online (i.e. my first debit card), I ordered this book from Amazon.com.

    This is a perfect read for a cup of coffee or tea. And a whole new collection of fresh inspirations for your home!

    Rachael Ashwell pretty much has my dream job. (And obviously, my dream house, too!) She draws floor plans, collects and repurposes vintage pieces, designs fabric based on vintage styles, and grows herb and cutting gardens. This spread is some of her finds and mock ups.

    What would a decorating book be without a before and after? Honestly I didn’t think the “before” was too bad. But the “after” really blows it away!

    This page was my dream cottage. She refinished the wood floors and painted everything white! I think this house should be on a little European island. Or on the coast of Maine.

    And of course, the cutting garden. Notice all the vintage vases the plants are in? I feel almost as if Rachael Ashwell really knows me, and she wrote this book just for me. (Obviously, though, she has no idea who I am.)

    This is the back yard of The Shabby Chic Home. I would love to spend the weekend there.

    Forget the weekend.

    How about the rest of my life?

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    spray bottle

    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    4 Life Saving Cleaning Tips

    One of my biggest pet peeves is keeping up with my house. With two full time jobs, two dogs, one cat, and an older home, I throw my hands up when I see that something needs to be cleaned again. And it seems that I just cleaned it the last time I had two seconds to spend in my house at a time.

    It’s true that regular upkeep prevents a lot of problems later down the road. I have decided to tackle it one step at a time. Today I’ll concentrate on keeping up with all of my regular tasks. Once those are mindless habits, I’ll work on the bigger stuff. (Washing windows and blinds, polishing wood floors, etc.)

    And then there are those wonderful role models those annoying super women who seemed to have a clean house full of furniture they upholstered themselves, a pantry full of vegetables that they grew and canned themselves, and twelve children. How do they do it? With my current lifestyle, that seems impossible.

    I’ll bet those super women learned one trick at a time, too.

    There are a few things that we can do to get this down faster. You’d better believe that I’ll be trying these things along with you.

    1. Clutter should have its own designated area. There is no way to get around it, but there is a way to manage it. Your organization system should be intuitive to you. Your neighbor’s organization system is not your organization system. (Unless you happen to share a brain.) Find or create a system that works smashingly for you.
    2. Choose natural cleaning products. You can make some of them yourself. A lot of chemical cleaners will keep your house perfectly sterilized for a total of twelve seconds. The natural products continue to work after you are done cleaning. Also, the natural cleaners are less likely to aggravate allergies. They are also non-toxic if your kid or dog happens to get a hold of them.
    3. Clean your house every day. Make the bed every morning, run the vacuum and do laundry every day, swish the inside of the toilet bowl with cleaner, and wash the dishes after each meal. When you keep up with it, each task only takes you 30 seconds. When you do your regular cleaning on Saturday, it won’t take nearly as much time.
    4. If you need it, ask for help. You can always swap services with a friend (I’ll bring you dinner if you watch my kids while I clean), or hire it out. There’s no shame in that if you need it! Poor college students and high school students will be more affordable than a professional cleaning service. And you are also helping them out at the same time!


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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Simple Scone Variations

    This is the all-inclusive, all-in-one-pack. You can create literally hundreds of different kinds of scones as long as you adhere to the basic ingredients!

    These scones are very versatile. Using this basic recipe, you can your embellishment of choice.

    My favorite embellishments and variations include:

    • 1 c. Blueberries
    • 1 c.Raisins
    • 1 c. of a combination of oatmeal, cinnamon, and brown sugar
    • A dash of poppy seeds with lemon flavoring
    • 1 c. Chocolate chips (dark, milk, white, or a combination)
    • 1 c. Cranberries (dried or fresh)
    • 1 c.  Crushed walnuts
    • 1 c. Dried cherries
    • 1 c. Crushed peppermint, which is great for the holidays
    • A dash of pumpkin pie spice (also great for the holidays)
    • 1 c. Diced apples with a dash of apple pie spice
    • A dash of dill and italian spices

    (Side bar: did you know that pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice are basically the same thing? They both have cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The only difference is that pumpkin pie spice contains ginger and occasionally cloves. Apple pie spice does not.)

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 1 c. Sour Cream
    • 1 t. Baking Soda
    • 3 c. Flour
    • 1 c. Sugar
    • 1 T. Baking Powder
    • 1 t. Salt
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 T. Milk

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix sour cream and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter. If you want to add raisins or another flavor or embellishment, add it at this point. Stir in sour cream mixture. Knead. Roll into round disk 1″ thick. Cut into 8 triangles with a pizza cutter. Place on baking sheet. In small cup, beat egg and milk. Brush tops with egg mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes.

    This is my favorite website for advice related to cooking as well as cookware and other kitchen essentials. And recipes galore, too!

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    Julie and Julia

    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Julie & Julia

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking, original ...
    Image via Wikipedia

    I first saw this film in the theater while traveling to Washington, DC. I knew I would enjoy it- who with estrogen doesn’t enjoy Nora Ephron movies?

    It awakened in me a new love of cooking, food, and Julia Child. I decided then and there to start cooking, and cooking well. (I’m still working on the second part. However, I did learn from this movie that everything is improved with butter. So true. I just wonder why Julia Child didn’t weigh 300 lbs.)

    As for Julia Child, Meryl Streep played an uncanny likeness. I didn’t know much about Julia’s personal life, only her television reputation and crazy, high pitched voice. I have since learned that not everything in the movie is accurate, but I still enjoyed it at any rate.

    I enjoyed the artistic parallel- Julia Child’s project of publishing a cookbook that would teach “servantless American cooks the art of French cooking” paralleled with Julie Powell’s project of cooking through the entire cookbook in one year and documenting it online.

    I was disappointed in the end, however, when Julie never gets to meet Julia. I was hoping for at least a glimpse or a brief meeting somewhere. I read online afterwards that Julia Child thought that Julie Powell’s approach to the project was disrespectful. Oh, well.

    Julia is, I discovered, an amazing woman. She was a good cook, yes, but not the best cook. I think she was made famous by her determination, her vivacity, her tenaciousness, and her dedication to her love of cooking.

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    Image used courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Creme Brulee

    Any recipe that includes French words intimidate me. (After all, wasn’t that Julia Child’s entire business model, to help us understand the Art of French Cooking?)

    Creme Brulee is no exception.

     Me and my inner Chef Boyardee tremble at the recipe terminology, afraid that I will instead serve some kind of disgusting sweetened scrambled egg concoction.

    Well, I surprised myself today by making a Creme Brulee that everyone (myself included) actually liked. And I didn’t use any canned or instant ingredients!

    (Side bar: writing the word “creme” so many times is making me want to spell everything like that. As in “grene benes.”)

    I’m here to tell you: if I can make Creme Brulee, you can as well!

    Here’s what you will need:

    • 6 egg yolks (I used Pampered Chef’s egg separator.)
    • 6 T. White Sugar
    • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
    • 2 1/2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
    • 2 T. Brown Sugar

    Preheat oven to 300. Beat egg yolks, white sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Pour whipping cream into a sauce pan and stir until it almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven 30 min. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to broil. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over brulee. Place under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 min. (Watch it constantly to make sure that the brulee doesn’t burn.) Refrigerate again until chilled.

    PS- the only chance I had to snap a picture of it happened to be just before I put the brown sugar on top.

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    This is my favorite website for advice related to cooking as well as cookware and other kitchen essentials. And recipes galore, too!

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    work out

    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Thinking Well

    Why is it that no matter who I talk to, the conversation turns to our health and well-being? Whether it be a new medication, a new diet, a new exercise routine, or (heaven forbid) a new health problem, it seems that our conversations 9 times out of 10 turns in that direction.

    Why do people (including myself) focus on aches and pains?

    Maybe it is time to start thinking about myself in terms of wellness instead of sickness. Thinking well is emotional intelligence.

    But that is another discussion for another day.

    I have found that “thinking well” improves my life in many areas. It improves my posture, my ability to relax, and my emotional health. (If you think about it, your emotional health directly affects your physical health. Anxiety and depression can have physical implications.)

    One of my favorite activities for thinking well is focusing on your breathing. When you go to bed at night, breathe deeply several times in a row. Allow your body to completely relax as you drift off into sleep. I have found that the increased oxygen makes me feel better and less stressed all around, and it makes the following day much more pleasant.

    Another thing you can try is to do something positive every time you are tempted to start focusing on an ailment. (Ice cream could be counter-productive here.) Call a friend, walk your dog, put on a funny movie. Anything that can turn your achy breaky heart into something enjoyable will benefit you immensely in the long run.

    The third thing that you can try is affirmations or journaling. Affirmations are basically saying statements out loud to yourself that affirm the quality of your life, your health, your well-being, and your relationships. (However, I’m not really into the “I am invincible and powerful” kinds of affirmations. You have to be realistic but positive at the same time.)

    There are many books and resources about emotional intelligence, but the gist of affirmations is this: acknowledging value out loud, whether it be about yourself or someone else, builds confidence and helps you let go of negativity. This is really important when it comes to your physical health. Negativity and anxiety can cause many ailments, and letting go of those can increase your vitality exponentially.

    Fourth, exercise. I always feel amazing after having my blood and endorphins pumping through my body. I feel more flexible, muscular, and have a renewed sense of energy. You can’t go wrong with exercise! Our bodies were designed to move it, move it!

    It goes without saying that if you have an illness, you need to have a healthcare professional evaluate you and provide medical advice. I definitely do not recommend substituting affirmations for medication, treatment, or chemotherapy! However, for people with common aches and pains, back aches, headaches, and things of that nature, thinking positive can prevent the implications from being more severe.

    Finally, let yourself feel good about being kind to your own body! It’s a good life.


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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    How to Market Your Business Virally

    Viral marketing sounds like some kind of disease or bad computer hack.

    It is neither, and the results are a whole lot more positive than either of those things.

    A simple example of a typical, non-viral marketing piece is an advertisement. 100 people might see your ad in the newspaper. If you’re lucky, 15 or 20 of them will respond to it. And then, if you want to get more customers, you need to place another ad. The idea is, the more you market, the more familiar people become with your product, and your return rate will go up.

    Well, with viral marketing, you want to show the customers something that they will start talking about. The first example of viral marketing is coupons. 100 people might see your coupon. 15 or 20 will clip it and buy the product. Another 12 might clip it and give it to someone. (“I know you have a puppy, so this dog food coupon might come in handy.”

    That is what Viral Marketing is. You share something that has your company name on it with 100 people. 15 or 20 might share it, and their friends might share it, and their friends, and so on. You reach past that initial 100 people and shout the message through the buzz you created. Your customers and prospective customers are talking about it, and it is spreading like a virus.

    In the Dot Com era, things have gone electronic. Facebook and Twitter are social marketing platforms. The idea is, companies collect information about you and show you products and services that appeal to people like you. And if someone uploads a funny YouTube video that has a sponsor or product, all you have to do is click “share” in order to spread the word. Of course, most people who use Facebook and Twitter do it so they can talk to their friends and play games. But every time you post something on facebook- a link, a video, a picture- you are advertising for someone.

    So, is anyone besides you talking about your business? How can you create buzz? Infect everyone with the virus, and soon people will be visiting your business when they’ve caught the fever.

    Below is a link to Moo, one of my favorite online printers. They have cute mini-business cards and creative ideas for marketing pieces! Of course, they have all the standard stuff, too. Check it out!Business Cards, MiniCards, Postcards and more

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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    The 8 Types of Intelligent People

    Truth be told, I’m not a great test taker. In fact, I think I walk to the beat of a different drum when it comes to grades. A lot of people study to get a grade; I study to learn. Hopefully my grades reflect that. But if they don’t, it doesn’t make me stupid. It just means that I learn differently than other people.

    I’ve always had good enough grades that no one ever tested me for learning disabilities. But the grade isn’t the end in itself for me; I’m not big on the percentages, GPAs, and letter grades. In fact, I think it’s really annoying that they try to quantify a variety of different people’s abilities using the same standards. I’ve always sensed that I view learning and school differently than everyone else does, and that’s ok.

    Traditional intelligence theories state that intelligent people are capable of solving problems, using logic, and thinking critically. These are the building blocks of both intelligence and creativity.

    However, these intelligent people use a variety of methods to solve problems, use logic, and think critically. No one really does this the same way.

    And that is the fundamental flaw in our assessment process today. We are looking at a room full of students who learn in their individual ways and testing them in the same way. So really, what we are testing is not the student’s knowledge of the subject, but their ability to learn in the way they’ve been trained.

    So there is good news for people who have been made to feel stupid in school. If you are frustrated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dumb. It just might mean, however, that you have a different kind of intelligence than the one that is being tested on you. You can have any combination of the types of intelligence listed below; you don’t have to fit into one category neatly. (Although some people really, really do excel at just one!)

    Here’s a crash course in all the different ways that a person can be intelligent:

    1) Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence. People with this type of intelligence have amazing mastery of language and words, both spoken and written. They tell jokes, like trivia, and are great conversationalists. People with verbal-linguistic intelligence are storytellers, politicians, writers, editors, teachers, and journalists. The defining trait of people with this type of intelligence is this: they think in words rather than pictures, feelings, or emotions. Verbal-linguistic intelligence is one of my strengths. But as most people do, I have a combination of the following intelligences.

    2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence. This has to do with the way a person perceives the world. They think in pictures. People with this type of intelligence draw and design things, daydream, and have strong opinions about colors and textures that match and those that don’t. People with Visual-Spatial Intelligence are interior designers, fashion designers, and inventors. They are good at picturing a map of their community or how much furniture will fit inside a room. (These are two things that I am terrible at. However, I love drawing and art, so I do have a certain amount of this type of intelligence.)

    3) Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence. People with this type of intelligence are musically very perceptive, discerning, and expressive. They have no trouble in composing music, and often are performers. These types of people notice non-verbal communication better than most; they hear body language and expression louder than the words. Many times, children who make lots of noise and “tap” out tunes with their fingers or pencils to study are intelligent in this way, but they are viewed as being a troublemaker because they don’t appear to be listening, even when they actually are.

    4) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence. People with this type of intelligence solve problems with ideas and concepts. Accountants, payroll administrators, CPAs, scientists, computer programmers, and engineers must have a high degree of logical-mathematical intelligence. They recognize abstract patterns, enjoy brain teasers and puzzles, and enjoy strategy games. My dad and my brother are both very highly intelligent in this area. In fact, sometimes I think that logic and math comes so naturally to dad that he doesn’t know how to break it down for those of us who are dummies in this area. This is a very common tendency for people who are high Logical-Mathematical performers.

    5) Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. These people use their entire bodies to communicate ideas and feelings. These people are often actors, athletes, and dancers. They process knowledge through bodily sensations, such as moving, tapping, twitching, or fidgeting. These people have a constant need to touch everything. They enjoy role playing, creativity, and often demonstrate rather than explain their ideas. They read body language and gestures more than words, and wait until they have seen someone else do something before they try it on their own. Like the Musical-Rhythmic learners, they can’t sit still and have a constant need to interact with the subject rather than listen to it.

    6) Interpersonal Intelligence. These people are good at judging other people’s moods, motives and motivations, and feelings. They are relatable and cooperative, but are reserved when they sense that they are being treated with arms-length kindness. People with Interpersonal Intelligence are highly emotionally intelligent, empathetic, have lots of friends, understand different points of view, and are great at resolving conflict.

    7) Intrapersonal Ingelligence. These people know themselves intimately. They are adaptable, they know their limits, and are very self disciplined. Intrapersonal students are great at being homeschooled or tutored because they are very self motivated. They learn independently and at their own pace. They like being alone, are self-reflective, and are highly in tune with their inner feelings, values, and beliefs. Although they are self paced, they are usually very creative, intuitive, and don’t need external incentives and rewards to complete a task.

    8) Naturalist Intelligence. These people are very aware of their environments and are highly in tune with life on all levels. They relate any given subject to examples of plants, animals, growth, and nature. Naturalist Intelligence pinpoints the interrelationships between living things and natural elements. They are archaologists, animal trainers, veterinarians, biologists, zoologists, and environmentalists. Students with Naturalist Intelligence love being outdoors and internally translate everything into examples in their environment in order to process the deeper concept.

    So if you’re feeling discouraged about your own mental abilities and intellect, maybe you’re holding yourself up to the wrong standard of measurement. Capitalize on your strengths, because intelligence doesn’t look the same in every person.

    And in the end, it’s not about assessing what you know. (Or what anyone else knows that you know.)

    It’s what you are capable of knowing, becoming a lifelong lover of learning, and contributing your strengths to this big old world we live in.

    *Disclaimer: I wrote this article based on my own experiences and research in the area of emotional intelligence. I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional of any kind; DO NOT use this article in place of professional advice.

    Get the book: Click Here to read about the book, “Emotional Intelligence for Dummies.” I highly recommend it as a practical resource!

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    pasta- bow tie

    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Couponing 101

    Recently I have begun to clip coupons. I used to think that clipping coupons was for poor people and that I didn’t need to.

    (Would someone please smack me?)

    Boy, was I wrong. People at any income level should clip coupons. Right now it’s saving me an average of $200 a month.

    And $200 is a lot of shoes.

    My favorite resources are Kroger.com, Coupons.com, and CVS deals.

    I have a little system going here. I clip coupons from my favorite coupon websites and then use as much as I can at CVS. CVS gives you uber cash back on select items (Sometimes as much as $10!) and 2% back on everything you spend out of pocket. (Out of pocket is sometimes called OOP by die-hard couponers). Whatever I can’t use at CVS, I then take to Kroger. At Kroger, they will let me use my paper coupon, an electronic coupon, and the store deal all at the same time. And sometimes they will even double my coupon at the register!

    For example: I just bought 2 containers of Spic N’ Span. They were usually $4 each, but on that day they were on sale for $3 each. I used my $1 paper coupon and a $1 electronic coupon that I downloaded onto my Kroger Plus Card at Kroger.com. So essentially what would have been an $8 transaction was now $4. That is essentially like getting one of my Spic N’ Span containers for free!

    If you do it that way, you will save tons of money. And that is what I call a good way to save money on groceries.

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    March 1, 2012
    by Angie

    Wild Rice & Ham Casserole

    A few months ago, I found a recipe online that looked good. It had some creative ingredients, so I was intrigued. So I made it for dinner.

    And it. was. terrible.

    It was so terrible that it left an awful aftertaste in your mouth until you brushed your teeth. My husband swears that it was the recipe’s fault, not mine.

    Good man.

    But I am that crazy person who just can’t chalk it up to a bad recipe. I have to get it right. So I made it again, this time modifying it to my own tastes and experimenting as I cooked.

    It is risky, but I did it. And dinner tonight (my modified rendition of that terrible, awful, no good, very bad dish) was really, really good. Superb.

    I’m not bragging. I just want to let you in on this little experimenting session.

    If you want to make Wild Rice & Ham Casserole (the good version), here’s what you will need:

    • 6 oz. Instant Wild Rice
    • 10 oz. Frozen Cut Broccoli
    • 2 c. Ham, cut into tiny pieces. (I used thin deli meat, but you could also use diced ham.)
    • 10.75 oz. Cream of Mushroom Soup
    • 1 package Shredded Cheddar Cheese

    Preheat oven to 350. Prepare rice. Spread into the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Defrost broccoli. Layer broccoli over rice. Sprinkle ham over the broccoli, covering evenly. Spread cream of mushroom soup over the ham. Cover with a handful of cheese. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Add the rest of the cheese before serving.

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