Business Launch: Learnt Creations

Fern is launching her new business, Learnt Creations!

Fern is launching her new business, Learnt Creations!

For today’s business post, I want to spotlight one I’ve been working with for a number of months now. I am exciting to announce that Learnt Creations is up and running!

Fern is a lady I’ve been working with for nearly a year now to get her business ready. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last several months, from getting inventory organized to having products stocked and ready for sale. After much discussion, we decided to begin online- good news for those of you not local!

Fern sells crafting products that she creates herself. Her inventory is always growing, so keep a close watch on her Facebook page as new products are added! “Like” the page for extra deals and discounts, some of which only apply to fans!

For The Sake of One

Most people would agree that they’d like to make a difference. This world is full of so much degradation, it’s hard to find the good things. Evil is rampant and people are hurt every day.

We all want change.

City Lights

City Lights (Photo credit: Ghassan Tabet)

But with six billion people in this world (and quickly growing), we start thinking there’s no way.

There’s no way that I can change the world. There’s no way that people will listen to me. There’s no way I can make a difference…

It goes on, these thoughts in our minds.

There’s no way I can save a life. There’s no way I can do anything of significance. There’s no way anyone will notice.

You’re looking at the big picture, at the six billion. Of course there’s no way you’ll reach them all, or even half.

But how about a hundred? Fifty? Twenty? …. Even just one.

Reach out to the life standing next to you, the soul that you see every day. Look beyond yourself and see people- people who are hurting, who have griefs and sorrows mingled with dreams and joys. People who have memories and hopes, regrets and wishes.

Reach out to them. Learn their stories. Make a difference in just one life. And it will grow… one by one, that’s where it starts. And by changing just one, you have changed the world. The world is better for the sake of just one.

Change one life.

Think Outside the Jar: Nutrition outside of baby food

Homemade Baby Food - Carrots

Homemade Baby Food – Carrots (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)

 

We know that baby food isn’t always the best option for your baby. But sometimes, you just can’t help it. It’s what’s available. You work with what you got, right? (especially if there’s a lot of it, and especially if it’s free!) Last week, I discussed some options you can do to make baby food more nutritious.

 

Now, let’s take a look at alternatives. Baby food does its job, but you don’t want to be using it all the time. With that in mind, let’s explore other options baby can have.

 

Pre-made

 

Half of the convenience of baby food is in the fact that it’s already prepared, right? No cooking, no heating up- just pop the lid and serve. Did you know you can do the same thing with homemade food?

 

Freeze it

 

A lot of foods freeze really well. When you make up a batch of food, set some aside into containers to freeze. Make sure you leave room for liquids to expand! This works great for meals with a lot of leftovers. Recently, I made a large pot of soup and had plenty leftover. I poured some of it into empty baby food jars and stuck them in the freezer, so they’d be handy later!

 

Pre-prepared

 

Most foods will keep well in the fridge for at least a few days, sometimes even up to a week. Pre-make certain foods and just keep it in the fridge, ready to pull out when needed. Most of the time, you won’t even need to reheat them, so whatever is left uneaten can simply go back in the fridge! My 8-month-old daughter LOVES eggs. I often cook up to four or five eggs at a time. I scramble them as if for scrambled eggs, pour into the pan, and let sit for several minutes, until nearly cooked through. Do NOT stir! After a few minutes, I flip it to cook the other side. When done, I let it cool and then serve small portions to her. The eggs are healthy for her growing body, and the “pancake” style makes it easy for her to pick up the pieces. The leftovers I’ll put in the fridge to pull out later and serve cold.

 

Snack foods

 

If you have the time, you can also make up certain snack foods for your little one. The idea is to make foods that the baby can pick up and feed herself. Crackers, cookies, and other such things make great foods. For babies under a year old, consider using coconut or some other flour other than wheat. Some research shows that babies are unable to fully digest grains before one year old, and some experts recommend up to two years. If all you have is wheat flour, then try and at least limit your baby’s grain intake.

 

Fruits are also a great food. Your baby can have most fruits, barring allergies. Some, like apples, may need to be cooked first in order to soften. Keep bananas and avocado on hand to give your baby a healthy, nutritious snack!

 

I understand there’s a LOT more that can be said about this issue, but I didn’t want to go on too long! What foods do YOU give to your baby? Are there any suggestions you’d like to add?

 

Weekly Challenge: Start Something

Dream girl

Dream girl (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

 

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

 

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

 

Today’s challenge: Start Something

 

Anything. It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to mean much. The point is, it means something to YOU. You’re doing something.

 

Always wanted to start a business? Start collecting inventory. Start researching, planning. It may be a few years before you can start the business itself, but at least when you do, you’ll be prepared.

 

Want to start a cause? Start small. Do a fundraiser and collect donations for cancer patients. Join marathons and a relay for life. Volunteer at another organization to gain experience and knowledge.

 

Want to go to school? Start researching now on whatever your major is. Read all you can on the topic. Think of it as your prerequisites. Study, read, prepare.

 

We all have a “someday” dream. We think, “Someday I’ll…” Fill the blank with anything. Start a business, take that trip, do some activity.

 

Problem is, someday dreams tend to stay someday dreams. They’re too huge, too far away. They’re out of reach. We tell ourselves that “Someday…” but then wake up to find that someday has already gone. While you were dreaming about that day, life had flown by.

 

Missed opportunities. Life is full of them. Many of these have to do with our someday dreams. Too busy looking at the far-off dream, we miss the chance of its beginnings.

 

Start by doing something small. Maybe one day, you’ll find yourself doing more. Maybe, just maybe, your dream will be within reach.

 

Nutritional Baby Food

Baby Food

Baby Food (Photo credit: Cascadian Farm)

Most any natural foods/whole foods/healthy living blog will tell you to never, ever, under-no-circumstances, use baby food. They instead offer a few options for making your own (suggestions which are often minimal at best, for a mother with no idea where to begin).

But… what if you’re on WIC? Not using baby food means there’s a LOT of food being wasted. 19 jars of baby food is a LOT- and that’s only one check! All total, I receive up to 95 jars a month for my seven-month-old. At the end of the month when pickings are low and your EBT card doesn’t refill for another week (or two), those 95 jars of food can make a difference for your growing, hungry (starving!) baby.

As a mother, reading about all the evils of processed food, including baby food, can make you depressed. It’s tough enough trying to feed your family on good, wholesome nutrition. But what about your baby, so fragile and easily susceptible to the dangers lurking in those tiny jars?

And yet… there’s nothing else to eat. It sounds all good to feed the baby the same meals that you eat- but that isn’t always practical. Moms skip meals a whole lot more than babies do. And what if dinner is just enough for hubby and yourself?

I know. I’ve faced this. I’ve literally cried as I fed my baby that disgusting, processed foods that have little to no nutritional value, and whose preparation methods are highly questionable. But through that experience, I’ve found at least a few tips that might help you to maximize your food budget (Seriously- who doesn’t want free food?) and still provide good nutrition. It isn’t perfect, but few systems are, especially when you’re living on WIC. That said- here goes…

Spice it up! 

Baby food with spices

Baby food with spices

Baby food makes for a picky eater. The foods are bland; unflavored and unseasoned, they do nothing to tickle your baby’s palate. So the baby gets used to the lack of flavor, and begins to refuse delicious, home-cooked meals. To combat this, add your own seasonings to the jars. Use moderation, since it IS a small jar. Add spices just as you would to your own food. Bear in mind that some spices, like garlic, may cause an upset tummy if using too much. This will help your baby’s taste buds to get used to good, flavorful foods!

Avoid GMO’s and the Dirty Dozen

GMO foods are those that have been genetically modified to withstand lethal doses of pesticides. The problems that go into this are for a post in itself, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that you don’t want your children eating them, if at all possible! Avoid corn and other likely GMO foods.

The other problem with conventional foods is pesticides. Although they are approved as safe by the FDA, it’s still not something you want to be putting in your body, and especially not in your kids’ bodies. Make a note of which foods are less likely to have higher doses of pesticides, and focus mainly on those.

Supplement

Baby food doesn’t have to make up the entirety of your baby’s diet. In fact, it would be good that it doesn’t, if possible. Make sure your baby is getting other good foods, too. There are two ways you can do that:

Mix baby food with “real” food.

This works great for leftovers, or even dinner. Mix a jar of baby food with, say, mashed potatoes, or gravy, and you’ve got a yummy and nutritious meal for baby! Another option I would often do is mixing baby cereal with bone broth. While the cereal isn’t ideal because of the grains, the broth will still provide some great nutrition.

Just real food

If you have it, use real food for your baby. While it may not always be practical, there are some things that you can give to your baby. This includes foods you have handy already as well as mealtime foods. Besides meals, you can also do veggies, fruits, and other foods like yogurt and cottage cheese, which are also good probiotics. Some will need preparation, such as cooking, while others can be given to them straight.

This section requires a post by itself, so I’ll just leave it at that. We all want real nutrition from real food. But sometimes, it just isn’t an option for all of us. Fortunately, you CAN feed your infant baby food and still give them good nutrition!

Working from Home

telecommuting

telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

This blog isn’t all about business. In fact, that’s not even the main focus of it. It’s about living better- better health, better finances, better spirits, better living. Business comes in as part of that, because we all would like “just a little bit more money,” and so I want to help point the way.

But not all of us are cut out for business. Not everyone wants to own or run a business. So how can earn a little extra income without running a business?

There are many ways you can earn a little extra at home. Some are more obscure than others, and a lot have misconceptions surrounding them. So starting this week, once a month I’ll post a new “Work at home” tip. These are specifically geared for those who want to work from home, but earning just enough to supplement their income, rather than a business to replace it.

Specifically, these ideas will be done with moms in mind- those who stay at home with their children and don’t have a lot of time to invest in a new business, or may not even want to. Ready- set- go!

Today’s tip- Use what you know

I’ll get more detailed into this in a later post, but for starts I just wanted to do a broad coverage. Many times, working from home just requires using skills you already have. Are you good at cleaning? Try and see if you can find domestic cleaning jobs, perhaps on Craigslist. Writing? There are a host of freelancing websites out there- some are better than others, so be careful what you sign up for. Are you good with kids, or do you have in-depth knowledge on a certain academic subject? Perhaps babysitting or tutoring is the job for you.

We all have varied skills. Some of us are more knowledgeable on some subjects than others. But we all have ways we can apply that knowledge to the benefit of our family.

Example: my husband is a certified computer nerd. He loves nothing more than to take apart a computer just to see how it works. So when I got to talking with an acquaintance who mentioned some computer problems she was having, I mentioned my husband. Usually, he can figure out a problem, and can pretty well fix anything, especially if it’s a virus. Well, as it turned out, we weren’t able to fix the computer- the motherboard was shot. But, she later gave us her daughter’s computer to fix, which had a virus. We were able to fix that computer- and unexpectedly, got paid for it!

That’s just a simple example. There are countless others I could give. The point is, be open to opportunities, even with strangers. You never know where something might come up! Examine your knowledge and skills, and see what use you can make of them.

Weekly Challenge: Status Quo

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Status Quo

I’ve mentioned before about my upbringing. About growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. Foreclosures, food stamps, government welfare, constantly moving- it was all the norm for me. I was the outsider in school; as I got older, I remained the one that nobody noticed. That girl over there, not saying anything? Her? What’s her name again? Yeah, that was me.

I grew up feeling like one of the “little people.” Politics? Way beyond me. Not necessarily being rich, but at least the opportunity to go shopping once in a while? Too far out of reach.

I grew up feeling like nothing would ever change. I would always be on the lower end of the spectrum, always be on government welfare, always separate from the “cool” crowd.

It’s time for change. The status quo is a prison, a chain that binds your hands and feet so you are unable to move forward.

It’s time to break those chains. It’s time to step up, to move out, to make a difference.

Because you can make a difference. You can change the world.

Making a difference has nothing to do with circumstances. It has nothing to do with our place in life, how much money we have, or our social status. It is simply stepping out.

Today, you can make a difference. You can make change. It begins with yourself.

Change the status quo.

 

Store-hopping deals

Daoxiao mian / Knife-cut Chinese noodle (刀削麵) ...

Daoxiao mian / Knife-cut Chinese noodle (刀削麵) Specialty store (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, we stopped at Safeway to grab something for dinner, having not had time to fix anything before leaving for church. My husband wanted pizza (his favorite), but knew that it would be hard on the stomach that late at night, so opted for a salad instead. I ran in to get the fixings, and was able to pick up a large container of fresh salad for just $5! Even better, it was organic! I was surprised to learn that the organic salad was the same price as the regular- making it affordable.

Of course, I snatched up that deal, but it got me to thinking. I grew up shopping different stores. In an effort to maximize our limited food budget, my mother would shop around at various locations- meats here, produce here, and hey, this store now has apples on sale!

When I married, I continued that tradition… for a time. Now, with a 7-month-old in tow, it makes it a little difficult. Getting to one store, getting her out of the carseat, going through the store while murmuring a prayer that she doesn’t fuss, getting out to the car, loading her back in the carseat, loading the groceries, going to the next store, repeat. It’s a lot. And as I don’t care for going to a lot of stores and getting in and out in the first place, it gets even more tiring.

So I stopped doing it. I limited my shopping to just two stores- Walmart and a local specialty store that I knew had good products. But at that dinner rush trip, I learned that I could better maximize my food budget if I expanded more.

Every store has its advantages. Learn what each store has in stock and what their prices are. Like I did, you may find that buying quality products at one store is impossible, but at another, it becomes affordable.

If necessary, keep a journal of the stores you visit, what products they carry, and especially the prices (and I’ll get more into pricing in another post). Use a paper and pencil notebook, an app on your phone, or whatever else works for you. Keep an eye out for sales- sometimes, the “good” stuff is on sale, so watch out for it!

While you’re at it for store-hopping, don’t neglect those specialty stores! Many of them have great foods at great prices. While some are overpriced, others may have even better prices than “regular” stores. Also, you are more likely to find fresh, less processed foods at specialty stores, and in bulk, too. I can get 20lbs of dry beans for only $10 from my local Mexican market- I’m lucky to even find that much at a Walmart, much less for the price!

Shop wisely. Use your town to its fullest. Find which stores offer which products at the best prices. Use specialty markets. Keep an eye out for sales. And good luck on healthy living!

P.S. If you’re on food stamps or otherwise have a limited budget, chances are you could use some more money. (who doesn’t?) Watch on Saturdays for tips on building your own business (with as little investment as possible), working from home, and earning a little extra cash on the side. If you’d like some personal tips for you, leave a comment and I’ll get back with you!

ROI or ROUS’s?? -Focusing on priorities

Ok, Ok, so I know I promised a post on shoutouts. BUT- I went to write it up… and totally lost what I was going to say (have you ever had one of those days?). Whatever brilliant idea I had about those shoutouts- well, it’s out the window now. I could only come up with a minimum of two paragraphs about the subject.

So, I’m moving on. Maybe one day, I’ll return to the subject. I’m sure you’ll be holding your breath in anticipation, right? ;)

So, for today- you ever hear about ROI? No? Good, you’ve come to the right place. And no, it isn’t about rodents of unusual size, or any kind of rodent for that matter! (for those Princess Bride fans out there- you know who you are!)

ROI is a marketing term, meaning “Return Over Investment.” It’s basically the amount you’re getting in return, versus what you invest. Typically, it refers to marketing, but I make an application to other areas of business, as well.

Weekly, I meet with someone whom I am helping get her business started. We’ve had to discuss this topic many times, and so I’m bringing it to you. In starting a business, there’s so much going on and so much to do. Certain business genres have even more- such as a crafting business, where the owner creates all the products.

With so much going on, it’s easy to get distracted from your focus. It’s easy to get off into side trails and lose sight of the main focus of your business. That’s where you need to look at ROI.

Business involves so many things, especially starting out. You’re working on getting set up, while at the same time trying to get the word out. Sometimes, it isn’t easy trying to decide which of the items loudly clamoring for attention need your attention the most.

ROI helps to bring things into focus. When organizing your tasks for the day, look at your ROI. Which activities will be most beneficial today?  If you are creating a product, focus on the ones you know. I ran into this recently with Fern, the lady I mentioned. There is always the temptation to experiment, to bring in something new. Be careful not to become too distracted with that, however. Before you bring in something new, work on solidifying what you’ve already got. Take a hard look at your products and decide which one will give you the most return versus the time and money you’re investing.

Sometimes it isn’t a product at all. There are legal steps that need your attention as well. You need to file that report, but you also need to write that employee handbook. Both are good to have, but both may not be necessary. Do you have employees already? Not planning to hire for a while? Then focus on the file.

Starting a business is tough. It’s also crazy busy. But if you focus on prioritizing your tasks and putting the emphasis on those which are most necessary or have the highest return, it can become easier to manage.

Good luck on starting your journey!