Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Making of a Latte

In the cool months of winter nothing says warm and cozy to me like a latte. Once upon a time the latte was something I treated myself to from a coffee shop but recently has become my go to favourite hot, frothy drink that I indulge in at home, generally once a day!  Making a latte at home is actually pretty simple and can be done without an espresso machine.

When my husband and I were on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago I got hooked on the cappuccino’s there. They are similar to lattes, I’ll explain.

A latte is a hot coffee drink that is made with espresso, steamed milk and  milk foam.

A cappuccino is similar to a latte except that is uses a higher volume of foamed milk to steamed milk.

A Cafe au lait  is generally made with warm steamed milk added to regular coffee (some coffee shops will use espresso) and this drink has no foam.

Creamy Latte Coffee Poster
Creamy Latte Coffee Poster
  
Coffee Mug with Fun Saying T-shirts
Coffee Mug T-shirts
  
Stacking Coffee Cups Postage Stamp
Stacking Coffee Cups Postage Stamp
  

When we got home from our Italy trip I tried the cappuccino’s from some of the local coffee shops here but found them to be too strong for my liking. Then I tried the latte’s and found them much smoother and enjoyable. 

If you order an espresso at a coffee shop it will likely be much stronger because of the machine they use to produce it. The espresso machine takes water that is nearly boiling and then creates a lot of pressure in order to produce a strong beverage.  My at home version is not as strong but it comes out just the strength that I like.

I brew good quality ground espresso  that I grind using my coffee grinder.  While the espresso is brewing I plug in my Starbucks milk frother to which I add low fat milk to. Then it’s just hit the power button and you can watch the milk begin to froth.  I get my latte mug ready and pour the hot brewed espresso about 3/4 full. Then it’s time to pour in some of the milk from the frother and spoon the milk froth it’s created onto to the top to cover the surface. I love the mounds of frothy milk and the fact that it keeps the espresso warm too!  Sprinkle on a little cinnamon if you like, I do that sometimes but generally I like it plain.

Espresso has a lot less caffeine than a cup of regular coffee. Although there is some debate about it, many say it depends on your mug size, the brew time, type of grind, temperature and so on. Anyways I say, drink it if you like it just don’t go over board!  That’s it, a simple but cozy drink perfect for a cold day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

7 Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business

We’ll the New Year is here and perhaps you’ve been doing some thinking about what 2015 has in store for you and your business.  Perhaps you’ve had some time to do a year in review and assess what worked and what fell short for your particular business. Did you reach your goals, and if not what could you have done differently to make that happen.

Now is the time to set new goals and define your marketing strategy for the new year. As I’ve been thinking about mine I thought I”d share some interesting marketing tips with you!

1) Businesses that blog more than a dozen times in a month are known to get higher traffic than those only blogging once a week or less. Blogging is not always easy to be regular at but it seems it is worth the effort . ( I better get my act together)

2)Most people respond better to watching a short video clip rather than reading text. Videos are known to keep people engaged longer.

3) The average blog post should be between 1500 and 2000 words to get a high page rank. This can be challenging but if you can make it happen with out word stuffing you will reap the benefits.

4) Pictures are truly worth a thousand words. People retain what they see far better and longer compared to what they read.

poster success

imagine poster

5) Think like your prospective customers. The more you know your customer the better prepared and effective you will be at reaching them. Knowing who you are trying to reach is half the battle.

6) From design to completed product or service be sure it is tailored to your customers needs. Ask your self some basic questions and be sure you are promoting your business products and services in a manner that customers respond too!

7) Whether your business is online or a brick and mortar store presentation and first impressions matter. Be sure your site or shop is neat and presents well. If you’re not sure ask some networking friends or respected business colleagues for their opinion. Try to listen without feeling judged, remember you asked!

I hope this gives you some things to think about as you begin 2015 and I wish you all my readers much success in your business endeavours.

Cartoon Hedgehog on Small Pattern Pair Of Fuzzy Slippers
Cartoon Hedgehogs Fuzzy Slippers
 
Pink and Black Leopard Print Pair Of Fuzzy Slippers
Pink and Black Leopard Print Fuzzy Slippers
Slippers
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Repurposing Decor Items

It’s know secret that I love to have sparkle and bling in my Christmas decorations. I love to change my color scheme at Christmas time too! The last couple of years I’ve  kept the main colors gold and purple and this year I added in some white for a pretty accent as well.  Instead of buying new things to add to my decor this season I decided to get extra creative and repurpose some things that I already had. One thing I love are pretty cake plates and cake stands as they raise things up a level and co-ordinate into many table-scapes and decor settings. You can showcase a special ornament or fill them up with lots of pretty coloured Christmas balls. Basically what ever you like! It’s a great way to get extra use out things that you already have, who doesn’t want to save money at this time of year!

I gathered up some candle holders in different sizes and shapes and got out some of my plates and bowls in various shapes and sizes. I purchased some ‘Gorilla glue’ and went about creating some original cake stands by gluing plates on top of candle holders. It was super easy, the only cost was the glue and I have a pretty collection of stands now to use in my decor. I used white plates with gold edging and a glass bowl so that these can be used year round too, not just at Christmas time!

Here are the stands that I created!

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IMG_2145

IMG_2144IMG_2143

Here you can see how I used them, some are just positioned for the picture not actually where I have them set up in my home but you get the idea. Well I hope this inspired you and you are able to create some unique pieces for your home as well!

My shop has been very busy this month and I have lots of new products to design. Here are a few of the newer items that I’ve been designing this month. You can visit my shop here  Designs by Shell

Snowman with Christmas Trees Pack Of Gift Tags
Snowman with Christmas Trees Pack Of Gift Tags
 
Birch Trees with Falling Snow Pack Of Gift Tags
Birch Trees with Falling Snow Pack Of Gift Tags
 
New Home Address Personalized Address Labels
New Home Address Personalized Address Labels
 
Weight Lifting Snowman Pack Of Gift Tags
Weight Lifting Snowman Pack Of Gift Tags
 
Bowling Snowman with Saying T-shirts
Bowling Snowman with Saying T-shirts
 
Martial Arts Snowman Ornament
Martial Arts Snowman Ornament
 

Friday, November 28, 2014

On-line Shopping or In-Store

With the popularity of on-line shopping exploding these days do you find yourself taking advantage of it or do you prefer the in-store shopping experience. There are so many advantages of shopping on-line starting with you can shop whenever you choose be it in your pajama’s if the mood hits.

This year I have done more on-line shopping than the previous year! Some because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in-store and some for the uniqueness of the gifts that I wanted to give. I’m not too big on crowds and long line-ups at the check outs so to be able to do some of my shopping from home takes a lot of the stress out of it.

Here are some more great reasons you might find yourself doing your holiday shopping from home.

1. Save time and gas. Driving and idling in traffic is costing you money. Too many trips to the mall and it adds up!

2. Pay conveniently and safely with Paypal. Set up a free account and Paypal will be the go between when you make payments so the merchants can’t see your information.

3. Many on-line shops offer great sales and on-line coupons too! No paper clipping here!

4.Skip the crowds and the long lines. Time is valuable and nobody wants to waste it.

5. On-line stores can offer a much broader variety of merchandise as it doesn’t take up shelf space as it does in brick and mortar stores. Find a unique gift for someone.

6. The hours are endless, the internet never closes! Shop whenever it is convenient for you.

7. Many businesses will ship directly to the recipients of your gift and will add a gift enclosure card for you as well. Save postal costs this way!

Today being Black Friday Zazzle is offering up to 65% off a variety of gift items, apparel, paper products and more until tonight. Use Code: ZAZBLACKDEAL

Snowflake Design New Address Round Stickers
Snowflake Design New Address Round Stickers by
 
Birch Trees Snow Scene Greeting Card
Birch Trees Snow Scene Greeting Card
 
Birch Trees with Falling Snow Christmas Tree Ornaments
Birch Trees with Falling Snow Christmas Tree Ornaments
 
Sparkly Purple Christmas Packages Christmas Tree Ornaments
Sparkly Purple Christmas Packages Christmas Tree Ornaments
 
Purple Sparkly Christmas Decorations Greeting Card
Purple Sparkly Christmas Decorations Greeting Card
 
Blue Stripes Swivel USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Blue Stripes Swivel USB 2.0 Flash Drive
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering brings about many benefits not only to those being helped but also to the volunteer. I have been involved in volunteer positions consistently through out the years serving in a number of different capacities. Most of the volunteer opportunities that I have served at in the past have been through church. Recently I decided I’d like to give more of my time and help people in the community. I now volunteer one morning a week at a food bank in my area. I find it a different and enriching experience each time I go!

Some of the benefits of volunteering are:

- the connections you make with other individuals, meeting people from all different walks of life and expanding your network!

- volunteering gives you a greater sense of community and helps you really see how blessed you are

- as you volunteer, you meet new people and develop better social skills as well as increasing your self-confidence and self esteem

- helping those in need gives you a better attitude all around which carries over to your everyday life, motivation is good!

- if your volunteer position involves lifting, sorting, a lot of moving around you’ll also benefit physically from it as well, (not so much sitting at the computer or on your couch)

- develop new skills or discover something you are good at and enjoy doing

- volunteering can also benefit your career as you grow and utilize skills that you use. Perhaps you problem solve, are great at organization or a super team player these will all benefit you in the long run

So I hope this sheds a little light on volunteering and spurs you on to volunteer in your community. Helping others always brings blessings and makes you feel good!  Especially during the holiday season when people feel extra pressure to spend more money. Many folks are just trying to feed their families and buy the necessities of life. A little help can go a long way to bring some cheer to a family in need!

Starfish and Ocean Change of Address Square Sticker
Starfish and Ocean Change of Address Sticker
  
Smiling Snowman Christmas Ornaments
Smiling Snowman Christmas Ornaments
  
Turquoise Blossoms Small Gift Bag
Turquoise Blossoms Gift Bag
  
Tall Castles and Buildings Silhouettes Nite Lites
Tall Castles and Buildings Silhouettes Nite Lites
View another
 
  Cozy House Christmas Greetings 2 Pound Dark Chocolate Bar Box
Cozy House Christmas Greetings 2 Pound Dark Chocolate Bar Box
 

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preparing for the Busy Shopping Season

You’ve probably heard it said, don’t miss the window of opportunity! if you’re just working steady but haven’t started getting your marketing strategy together for the busy holiday season  you just might miss the boat! I’m sure you know that the stores in the malls are already starting to pull out there seasonal and promotional items, holiday and Christmas displays are already popping up in many stores. Big box stores already have Christmas trees and many holiday themed items on their shelves. When people see these it starts the ball rolling and many purchase gifts earlier than expected.  Personally I feel it is way to early for me to see Christmas items in the stores but as an online small business owner I understand that one has to get on board and be preparing our stores and websites for those early shoppers. People are starting their shopping earlier and earlier every year.  Research shows more and more people are shopping online and this is a trend that surely will only increase with the convenience of shopping from the comfort of one’s home! 

Have a plan, this is so important here. Take a look at your inventory and assess what you need to bring in to your store. What are the trends and items that will attract customers to your store front. What will be your big holiday sellers this year? Is there something particular that you want to feature? With millions of online businesses the competition is fierce and just thinking that the customers will come and buy from you without you putting in some big marketing efforts is pretty silly.

If you had your online store last year, review what items sold well for you and what items didn’t move at all. Decide on what new items to add to your inventory and which ones to promote. Use all available social media platforms that you are active in. Just do it subtly, nobody wants to just see a big push of your items, add something of value when you can. Perhaps offer a sale coupon or a contest.

When using Twitter to market your products remember to include appropriate hash tags, like #holidayspecials, #holidaydeals, #blackfriday, etc. This will help when people are searching for shopping deals. If you use Pinterest regularly be sure to create holiday boards that feature your products. Create unique boards like Christmas decor, holiday t-shirts, Christmas kitchen accessories, you get the idea. Also include prices, Pinterest lets you add this! Well I hope this has given you some incentive to get going on your holiday marketing strategy! Don’t leave it too late or you seriously might miss your window of opportunity. The shopper’s will buy elsewhere and you don’t want to miss out on the sales!

Juggling Snowmen Round Pouf
Juggling Snowmen Round Pouf
 
Weight Lifting Snowman Small Christmas Stocking
Weight Lifting Snowman Small Christmas Stocking
 
All is Calm, All is Bright Gold Plated Banner Ornament
All is Calm, All is Bright Gold Plated Banner Ornament
 
Christmas Decorations 2 Pound Dark Chocolate Bar Box
Christmas Decorations 2 Pound Dark Chocolate Bar Box
 
Pretty Packages Stickers
Pretty Packages Sticker Gift Labels
 
Smiley Snowman in a Pink Hat Tag For Bags
Smiley Snowman Luggage Tag For Bags
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall is Upon Us

The nights are getting cooler, the sun is going down earlier and earlier and it’s definitely getting darker too!  A sure sign that we are sliding into the fall months. I like to think of fall as a time of new beginnings. One reason would be the start of a new school year for many, whether it is elementary, high school or University.

Another reason is because this is the time the leaves begin to change to brilliant colors of orange, red and yellow and nature is so beautiful and appealing during this season. Going for interesting hikes and walks with my husband in the cooler temperatures and crisp air is one of my favourite weekend things to do in early fall.

September can also be a time of rethinking routines and goal setting for many. Perhaps reading this will inspire you to sign up for a new class, try a new hiking trail, change up your routine at the gym, start that business you’ve been thinking about, whatever it is I hope you do something new and see great progress this month.

I’ve been working hard on my websites, there is always so much to do with designing, marketing and finding new ways to get my designs and sites seen.  Stop by my store or visit one of my websites, you can find them in the side bar of my blog. You’ll find lots of new items and ideas! 

Zoo Animals with Vines Pillow
Zoo Animals Pillow
 
Love Seashell Design Walnut Cribbage Board
Love Seashell Design Walnut Cribbage Board
 
Cartoon Dog with Paw Prints Wrapping Paper
Cartoon Dog with Paw Prints Wrapping Paper
 
Cartoon Dog Birthday Party Invitation
Cartoon Dog Birthday Party Invitation
 
Dental Design Tooth and Brush Luggage Tags
Dental Design Tooth and Brush Luggage Tag
 
Green Plaid with Chocolate Brown Business Card Template
Green Plaid with Chocolate Brown Business Card Template