Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Presents for All



A Valentine’s Day gift isn’t any good unless it’s unique and from the heart…but it’s even better if it is also an inexpensive gift. And to accomplish that, all you have to do is make your Valentine a basket! It’s heartfelt, it’s special, and if you do it right, it won’t cost you too much at all.

The special thing about the gift basket is that it is personalized to the person you are giving it to. All you have to do is listen, and you’ll make them the perfect valentine present.

Where do you get the supplies? Surprisingly, thrift stores like Goodwill have a huge selection of baskets for about a dollar a piece that you can use. Just remember to keep in mind your contents when picking it out. As for the filler and basket bag or shrink wrap, any dollar store should have that for you. Don’t get conned into paying too much at a craft or party supply store!

You could even make your entire super special basket out of one simple trip to the dollar store! Got a candy junkie friend? Just get 15 different candy boxes, and you’re set! Got someone who needs to relax? Go to the bath and body section and pick out a bunch of relaxing scented soaps and body washes – file0001509359493 (2)they don’t need to be from the expensive boutique at the mall! Movie junkie Valentine? Just get them a double feature DVD with popcorn bowls and popcorn, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic movie night theme. The basket is special not because of the price, but because it was truly well-thought out and customized to your Valentine. What about a child who is a lover of crafts? Put crayons, construction paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, scissors, and stickers in a basket, and you’ve probably even saved their mother’s life as well by keeping the craft lover busy and happy.

If you have a whole group in mind to be your Valentine, obviously Costco is your best bet. You could do an Italian-themed array of baskets by buying their bulk pasta, pasta sauce, parmesan, dried salami, pizzelles, biscotti, etc. Most of the stuff there is individually wrapped in bulk anyway. You can make a cheese lover very happy by scouting out the cheese section there, or even at any local grocery store. Or, put together a basket full of individually-wrapped healthy snacks for the whole office for Valentine’s day (That way, you please everybody – many people are still trying to hang on to that New Year’s Resolution of losing weight or getting healthy, or it’s simply their actual life style on a regular basis). Don’t forget about the wine lovers! Partner their favorite bottle with some cheese and crackers, and they are going to have one good night whether they have a Valentine or not!

You see, companies that sell gift baskets as a product either surcharge for the packaging, or they are able to do it at a reasonable price because they can buy bulk. Well, like I already said, you can do that at Costco, or even call in a favor from a friend who maybe works in a business where they are able to get even better bulk pricing for products by a supplier. Either way, the key is to make it personal, and not spend too much on your Valentine’s Day gift if you don’t have to!

Perfect Gift Basket Resources – on a budget!



A gift isn’t is extra special when it’s unique and from the heart…but it’s even better if it is also within your budget. And to accomplish that, all you have to do is make your loved ones a basket yourself! It’s heartfelt, it’s special, and if you do it right, it won’t cost you too much at all.

The special thing about the gift basket is that it is personalized to the person you are giving it to. All you have to do is listen, and you’ll make them the perfect present.

Where do you get the supplies? Surprisingly, thrift stores like Goodwill have a huge selection of baskets for about a dollar a piece that you can use. And a lot of people don’t know this, but thrift stores actually carry a ton of unused, new, originally-packaged items that either stores with a surplus donate, or that people never ever used and donated them because that is simply the easiest thing to do. Just remember to keep in mind your theme when picking items out (I got REALLY carried away last time I went and forgot the logistics of also having my three kids with me to bring back to the car – the Goodwill attendant was very nice to help me carry the awesome brand new items I scored for really cheap). As for the filler and basket bag or shrink wrap, any dollar store should have that for you. Don’t get conned into paying too much at a craft or party supply store!

You could even make your entire super special basket out of one simple trip to the dollar store! Got a candy junkie friend? Just get 15 different candy boxes, and you’re set! Got someone who needs to relax? Go to the bath and body section and pick out a bunch of relaxing scented soaps and body washes – file0001509359493 (2)they don’t need to be from the expensive boutique at the mall! Movie junkie? Just get them a double feature DVD with popcorn bowls and popcorn, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic movie night theme. The basket is special not because of the price, but because it was truly well-thought out and customized to your beloved receiver. What about a child who is a lover of crafts? Put crayons, construction paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, scissors, and stickers in a basket, and you’ve probably even saved their mother’s life as well by keeping the craft lover busy and happy.

If you have a whole group in mind, obviously Costco is your best bet. You could do an Italian-themed array of baskets by buying their bulk pasta, pasta sauce, parmesan, dried salami, pizzelles, biscotti, olives, seasoned artichokes, you name it. Most of the stuff at Costco is individually wrapped in bulk anyway. You can make a cheese lover very happy by scouting out the cheese section there, or even at any local grocery store. Or, put together a basket full of individually-wrapped healthy snacks for the whole office. Don’t forget about the wine lovers! Partner their favorite bottle with some cheese and crackers, and they are going to have one good night! Organizing a benefit and need to put together baskets? Go to Costco, and you can get some of their high-quality name-brand stuff at a great price.

You see, companies that sell gift baskets as a product either surcharge for the packaging, or they are able to do it at a reasonable price because they can buy bulk. Well, like I already said, you can do that at Costco, or even call in a favor from a friend who maybe works in a business where they are able to get even better bulk pricing for products by a supplier. Either way, the key is to make it personal, and not spend too much on your awesome personalized gift basket if you don’t have to!

Simple Pasta Primavera



We were asked to type up our favorite summer recipes for my son’s kindergarden glass, so I figured I would share it with you all! Hopefully it’ll bring a warm breeze to your heart, as you think of hotter days! ; – )

Simple Pasta Primavera

This recipe is a perfect, quick, meal solution with most of your food groups!

Prep time: About 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • One box of (8 servings) Barilla Penne Pasta
  • One pint of grape tomatoes
  • 8 oz container of mozzarella bites
  • 2 oz of grated fresh basil
  • 8 oz of grilled chicken cubes OR 6 oz of tuna (Optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Add salt to water
  3. Mix in salt
  4. Add pasta box to water and cook 7-9 minutes so it is to “Al Dente” firmness
  5. While pasta is cooking, put olive oil, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and/or optional protein source of chicken or tuna into large pasta serving bowl.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, drain pasta (DO NOT RINSE).
  7. (Optional step) If you like extra moisture to your pasta, place a clean, small bowl underneath your strainer to catch some of the clean, boiled water. Add about 3 oz of the water to the pasta mixture to add moisture.
  8. Let pasta cool in strainer for about 3 minutes (Not too long, or it will stick).
  9. Place pasta in bowl wit hthe rest of the ingredients and toss!
  10. Voila, you’ve got your quick and simple Pasta Primavera.


Shoot tons of birds with one Stone – Thriving in Business by Simply Living Your Life

This is simply what moms already do best – multitasking. Then take the ordinary mommy multitasking, and add one of those ACME rocket backpacks, and you’ve got the formula for what I’m talking about (No coyotes were injured during the writing of this article). And you can only learn the best by watching the best, and these sweet skills are completely derived from watching fellow super mommies.

Let me start with an example I thought of while watching horrible television (And incentive I give myself to make myself fold laundry). Have you ever wondered how the heck those real housewives get their hubbies to go to every social event with them with a big smile on their face (And not kicking and screaming and pouting)? It’s not simply because their wives are gorgeous, or rich, and it’s not just to show off for television. It’s because they’re thriving in business while simply living their life. They’re spending time with their wives, and making their wives happy, while networking to meet potential clients for their businesses. They may be plastic surgeons, real estate agents, actors, musicians, accountants, whatever: by simply going on date night with their wives, they may be attending that one event where they meet that one person that kicks their career into gear (I’m feeling inspired by one of the Steve Harris Webinars my brother Michel Sauret suggested that I watch).

And that’s what I try to do every single day with this blog, my day job at Bruster’s, my start-up business, Popinvasion, and play cafe’ business venture. Bust most importantly, as moms, we strive to succeed in all of that while spending as much quality time with our family and friends and kids as possible.

I’ll give you an example. Currently, I am passionate about promoting my brother, Michel Sauret. You’ll see by visiting his website that he is a successful author. Well, I thought to myself: how can I find time to do that without taking away time away from anything else. And that’s when it popped, that in conjunction with promoting Michel, I could also promote Bruster’s. Why not start contacting media, colleges, libraries, community centers and say “Hey, we’d love to host a free workshop and forum on the stigmas of self publishing. And I’ll tell you what: we’ll even bring dessert.” That way, I was able to spend my work hours promoting the Bruster’s brand, while promoting my brother’s book through organizing the book signings and workshops. And during those events, Bruster’s gets to recruit staff, advertise catering, give our free samples, and meet other successful people to help and learn from. Another example of that is a book signing we have coming up at Bruster’s for Michel. I need to organize events to bring crowds to our store anyway, so why not promote my brother at the same time.

Then that’s where the idea of Popinvasion developed. I say developed because it’s been a project of my husband’s for years, which has just been needing for the right niche. So it came that Popinvasion would not only be a media company that it originally was going to be, but why not also offer my public relations and marketing skills as services as well. So then now you see we offer media services for families and for businesses, too. An with that, I was able to start spending more quality time with my husband, promote my brother’s book (Amidst Traffic), and also promote Bruster’s. We’re able with Popinvasion take product images for Bruster’s, make videos for Bruster’s, and design ads and coupons for Bruster’s, while building our portfolio for others to see and hire us as well. And it works backwards for Popinvasion, too. While promoting my brother’s book by organizing events, I’m able to promote Popinvasion by simply putting on the ad pieces, that the events are produced by Popinvasion (And they get a direct sample of our work by simply viewing our flyer, or reading our Facebook posts, etc).

And then out comes my play cafe’ business venture that I’ve been working on for about a year. With Bruster’s, I am so blessed and so lucky to be able to bring my kids to work with me a few hours each day, and also to bring a lot of my work home. So obviously that’s connecting family time with work time. Well obviously I can’t possibly do that without caffeine. I love coffee, and most of all, I love play cafes. Well I know how to run a business; I know what kids love; And I know no matter what I do, I want and need to involve my kids. And thus, the project of opening a play cafe’ adjacent to Bruster’s. Bruster’s does well when it’s warm, play cafe’s do well when the weather is terrible outside. Put them next to each other, and bring foot traffic to both locations year-round. And obviously, it’s still a business plan that includes my kids and my husband, and my extended family (I’ve learned that employing family and working side by side with family is the best way to a successfull business. They have your best interest at heart, and you have theirs at heart. My twin brother Marco is absolutely vital in running Bruster’s, since he shares the same passion for its success. When we are short-staffed, other family members step in to help). And while I build all the graphic design and ads and business plans and budgets for the cafe’, I am also adding to the portfolio for Popinvasion, and learning more and more about business to make Bruster’s successfull as well.

But my favorite part about this, is the feet in the street local store marketing that has to be done for Bruster’s. Our captive audience seems to mostly be made up of families and the elderly. Well various times during the week, I schedule a time where my kids and I go to one fun place – whether it’s the library play space, a museum, the zoo, an indoor playground, I always, always, always bring coupons, flyers and samples that will please the staff and clientele, and usually the managers of owners of the establishment are more than happy to receive them. Even when I have to take the kids to the doctor’s office, or even at my own doctor’s office; I always bring them cake sample, coupons, and flyers about our free family events. And often times we even get treated with better customer service just for bringing those items because who doesn’t love a surprise snack or awesome coupon for some of the best ice cream around?

And heck many times, I invite friends and family to join me on these outings because then we get to spend quality time with them, have some fun play dates, and then they themselves often will want to help promote your projects. For example, my sister and I very often promote her place of work, Winchester Thurston, while promoting Bruster’s. And it was her initiative! Very often we sell ice cream at Winchester Thurston to raise funds for their events, or we host field trips for her school to educate her students on small businesses, and this summer, Winchester Thurston will be holding a summer camp at Bruster’s.

Now also take a look at this article that you are reading right now. During this article, I was able to update the blog, promote my brother, promote Popinvasion, and promote Bruster’s. And hopefully, I was able to give you some ideas of how you can connect things in your life to shoot multiple birds with one stone. Not just two birds, but multiple!

Also the key is obviously accepting help. Often as moms we’re hard on ourselves and try to do it all alone, and then we’re stressed, and tired, and let’s be honest very whiny. You gotta let go, and let God – first of all. And also, let the people that God brings into your lives, help you when they offer. Be watchful of the skills others obtain and see how you can help each other by bartering skills.

The thing that I do struggle with, though, I have to admit is housework. You want to know how I shoot THAT bird? I successfully multitask avoiding the chaos of my home by constantly keeping my family busy outside of the home with family outings,  play dates and work. ; – )


Happy Baby Company – Your Cloth Diaper Sidekick


So you’re thinking of taking the step towards welcoming cloth diapering into your life? Such a step may seem overwhelming, but with the right resources, you can totally do it. I myself am slowly but surely venturing back into it, and for my refresher information, I consulted my local cloth diaper guru, Happy Baby Company And lucky for you, they ship nation-wide. They’re a great source for decently-priced goods, and their website is chalk-full of information regarding the science of cloth diapering. They’ve also got some other great baby toys, baby wellness products and gifts.

The biggest key to getting comfortable with cloth diapering is choosing the right kind. There are so many different options, Happy Baby Company will be the first to tell you to try each one a bit until you find the perfect fit. If you commit to one type right away and are uncomfortable with it, you may be ruining cloth diapering for yourself for good. Well the Happy Baby Company website has a great program that allows you to rent and try out cloth diapers for a $1 a day.

Once you find the right fit, you can purchase your own cloth diapers through Happy Baby Company‘s very wide selection. And if you do end up purchasing diapers and are unhappy with a brand and have multiples that you haven’t used, Happy Baby Company keeps a history of your purchases, and as long as your item hasn’t been used or washed, you can exchange it with something you are happier with. And since their website offers free shipping for orders over $35, there’s no risk in buying a few of the same type of diaper and returning what doesn’t work out.


And if you live locally and find the initial cost of building your cloth diaper collection a bit more than you can handle, you can take advantage of their used cloth diaper program. Local patrons can also schedule for Happy Baby Company’s cloth diaper orientation classes.

The website also features more information on cloth diapers such as how to wash them, how much you’ll be saving throughout the lifetime of your cloth diaper usage, and how you are improving the health of your baby and the environment.

So if you were teetering back and forth between cloth and disposable and needed the extra kick, here it is. And if you are a cloth diaper guru yourself, then support a small business with your art of cloth diapering. Not to mention this fun fact: you’ll be buying from a husband-wife duo who run their business while taking their kids to work with them! And here’s another AWESOME incentive to give them a try: Like their Facebook page, AND my Facebook page, and write on BOTH walls about what Happy Baby Company product you’d LOVE to have! Each entry will be entered in a drawing to win a $25 Happy Baby Company gift card! Winner will be drawn on March 15th! So get to it!