Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Soap Cutting Tool

So I finally designed my own soap recipe, and made it a few days ago.
It is 100% Vegan, (of course) saponified canola, vegetable, palm, coconut, castor, beeswax, lemon essential oil and eycalyptus. It smells great, and has a really nice texture already.
We took it out of the mold and cut it today in what was a stroke of genius by my husband.
 He made a handheld garrote type cutting tool with wire and a loop at either end to hold onto.  We slid the soap out of the mold (pvc pipe) one bar size at a time and used the edge of the PVC pipe to mark a clean straight line to cut through. It worked great! And the soap turned out beautifully, I can't wait to make more!
Here it is fresh out of the mold, ready to cure! Next time I make soap (which should be within the week) I'll take pictures of the tool in use, it was a really awesome idea!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yuck be Gone for your Picky Eater (free label and tips to use it)

Another post for your picky eater :)
(click to enlarge)

Several years ago someone said to me: "To get kids to eat foods deemed "yucky" just add a little corn syrup".... a lightbulb flashed over my head and I came up with this label. I don't necessarily agree with using corn syrup, you could use Molasses, Honey, Stevia, Coconut Sprinkles etc. (be creative!) Just replace the label with this one or one like it.
 You can use my label or have fun and make your own!

I know the label turned up small here, it reads:
Directions: Add one tsp. to any "yucky" food to instantly make it "yummy"
Yuck-be-Gone uses a unique and highly complicated brain stimuli formula involving years of scientific research that is sure to make moms say "yay" and kids say "yum!"

 I wouldn't use it on food you know your child wont like, I used this with my picky eater who would NOT eat pasta of any kind. These are fairly kid friendly foods, so I knew it wasn't the actual taste holding him back. Now spagetti and mac and cheese are among his all time favs! Worked like a charm.

 It's a good tool, but its all in the delivery.
 I made a trip to the grocery store alone and made the label switcharoo before I took the groceries in, if your kids are like my kids, they like to see what "goodies" mom got while shopping, and you can let them "discover" the bottle/package amongst the groceries, this way they don't automatically think you're trying to con them (which you are, but they dont need to know that... just yet anyhow)

Kids like to see words like "Guaranteed!" If you have a very skeptical child you might explain that it's sort of like the tooth fairy it only works if you belive in it. You definately don't want to cheapen the value of a guarantee to them, so if you're not sure if they'll go for it, leave out words that insinuate a sure thing and leave it up to them to decide, kids respond well to packaging and often decide whether they will like a food item based on the package alone (the cereal companies know this!) so make sure its visually stimulating to them. If they decide that it'll work, it WILL! Guaranteed ;)

You know your child better than anyone else does, so you will have to think of how to "market" the product to them for the greatest success.

Anyone else have any tricks or tips to get kids to "try it"?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dinner Table Harmony, Recipe Included

Also known as: How to appease the picky eater in your family without eating the same three meals all month.
Heres a few of my tactics:

First off, let them help! when kids get to help make the meal, they have a sense of pride in what they made and may be more inclined to try it. Even the smallest of munchkins can "help".

For helpers under 2 years old, let them:
  • Help by banging on a pot with a wooden spoon nearby, but out of the way of harmful areas such as the oven. They really think they're helping and it keeps them busy while you cook, so long as it doesn't drive you up a wall! For me, it was music to my ears, my dinnertime serenade! 
For older helpers, let them:
  •  Help measure and pour
  • Set the table (plastic if necessary)
  • Pick the beverages of the night
  • Decide what utensils and flatware will be necessary (you may need to subtly suggest that forks may not be the first choice to go with the soup, but that they would work really well for for the lasagna)
  • Make name tags and decide who will sit where
Never let your children help with tasks that could be dangerous, such as using the stove, oven, knives or other sharp or dangerous kitchen props, theres so many other jobs they can do, theres really no reason to take risk.

So, tonight we had Mexican food, my picky eater loves "burritos": refried beans, ground beef and cheese, sometimes I can sneak in some taco seasoning when he's not looking, thats it, no frills, no sour cream, no lettuce, no nothing.
Now, I'm sure for some it seems outlandish to make two seperate dinners, hear me out. If the dinners are of the same genre with mostly the same ingredients, it's actually really simple, why not appease the picky every once in a while? They really appreciate it and you can enjoy a peaceful dinner experience.

 My half and half ground beef Empinada*/Burritos
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned
  • 1 can refried beans**
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-1 green onion chopped very small (depending on how picky your eaters are)
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cumin (personally I like less)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or more if you really like it!)
  • 3 Tbsp Salsa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • shredded cheese
  • tortillas
Oven 425 F

Brown your ground beef with the garlic and green onion. This should be mild enough to please most picky eaters. I like to strain my ground beef or take a paper towel and dab off any excess fat/oil, not necessary, just a little added tip for a healthier way to eat beef. Take half of the beef out of the pan and put it into a medium sized bowl (approximate is fine, its not rocket science)
Add your beans to the half of the beef you left in the pan and let it simmer on low with a lid on (maybe add a half cup or so of water to keep it nice and moist).
Take the other half of your ground beef and add the cream cheese, cumin, cilantro and salsa. mix mix mix.
Unroll your piecrust, pour your bowl of groundbeef mix onto one half of the piecrust, making sure to keep it off the edges by about a half inch and only on one half of the circle. Spread it out nice and even. Fold the other half of the piecrust over on top of the mixture, kinda like making a quesadilla, only with a piecrust instead of tortilla.
Remember those edges you left plain? Take a basting brush or a spoon or whatever you got and get them damp with water, between the top and bottom, thats gonna help it seal together, kinda like licking an envelope, only not so gross... Squish your edges lightly together, you can add a decorative edge with a fork if you're feeling fancy (I usually don't).
Baste the top of your pastry with the egg, just lightly, this helps it brown nicely. (before I had a basting brush I just used a fork to spread it around, it doesnt need to be fancy)
Cut a couple venty holes in the top, (so it doesn't explode) and pop it in the oven (425 F) for 15-18 minutes.
Make sure to check on your beans and beef cooking on the stove, those are to wrap in tortillas for your picky eaters. Add a little more water if necessary to keep it a texture your little ones will find palatable.
(Slice the empinada just like you would a pizza, or a half or a pizza in this case)

*Better yet cook up your own beans, take a can of your favorite beans and fry them up with a touch of olive oil and some water, onion, garlic, taco seasoning... (pick your poison)
 **Try the word "Meatpie" if empinada seems to exotic or daunting for your little one.

I like to add a salad as a side, both my eaters love salad and I've learned I can sneak in fresh spinach and neither of them ever notice the difference! (or my husband for that matter!)

So heres the choice: eat the burritos, you know you love them or try the empinada, doesn't it smell great?
Don't want to try it? no sweat, they're getting very similar nutrition either way.
Kids love being able to make choices in their lives, no matter how small. Praise your picky eater if they do decide to try the new dish, whether or not they like it. At my house? My picky eater opted to stick with the comfort food, but thats okay, he did enjoy the smell of the empinadas, and thats a start!

So long as I can keep them eating moderately well, I try not to stress over dinner time. Dinner should be about family and spending time together, not bickering over whats on the menu.

I hope this makes for a harmonious evening for you and your family as it did for mine!

(pic incomming!)

Anyone else have ideas for easing picky eaters into new foods?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Traffic can be a good thing

Who knew!

Ok so, I'm trying to maneuver and figure out this whole web thing right?  I started out with just my Etsy and figured out how to register it with google, and I was successful! Woot, good job me! Google search "mylittleniche" and I am the second thing to pop up! If you search it with spaces.... cause, lets face it, who would search it without (besides me) I'm somewhere on the second page I think.

Anyhow, so I got to thinking, hey that wasn't so hard, I'm totally figurin' this out, I'm on a roll! Soooo, what did I do? I got in over my head of course! So now here I am with my very own blog, I just got finished creating my own Twitter account (I know right!) Yesterday I made a facebook fan page, earlier this week I set up a website! I made a google accout, picasa, flickr... and registered most of them with google! and you thought I wasn't computer savvy! ;)
I'm by no means an expert, but if you are interested in any of the tips I've figured out along the way, drop me a comment and I'll get you all the information I can!

So, anyhow, to preserve my sanity (brain overload!) here are my links:


whew... I'm a little overwhelmed to be honest!
whats next? Etsy facebook App... and I'm waiting on a confirmation of my membership at a site to help promote my etsy shop called we love etsy

And of course, with all this web time, I haven't had any time to actually make very many items to put up on my Etsy that I'm working so hard to get traffic for!
Oh the irony.

UPDATE: I must have done something right, the google gods have smiled upon me! Google search "My Little Niche" I am NUMBER 1!!!! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Christmas in July?

It seems like every year the stores bring out the Christmas stuff earlier and earlier! Yes, please remind me before Halloween is even over that I REALLY need to start my Christmas shopping! Soooo to keep in accordance with the trend... I decided to start making some of my own Christmas fares available!

 I've been hard at work on LOTS of new goodies for Christmas! Keep an eye out for them at my shop: www.mylittleniche.etsy.com

What am I most excited about you ask?? Gingerbread houses! AHH! so cute you'll want to eat them! but you can't, theyre for keeps, no sugar to spoil or go to your thighs ;) perfect for my little elves and wooden dolls to "play in" fun stuff!

My very first Blog... sort of

okay okay I admit... yesterday I started a blog on another site, but then I caught wind that blogspot is the place to be ;)  so here I am! Not quite a blog virgin, but for all intents and purposes I'd still call this my first REAL blog ;)

Soqoo Link Exchange