Saturday, February 28, 2009

Diva Doggie Goodness from Dirty Dog Organics!

Back at the holidays I did a lot of shopping with Indie businesses and then shared my favorites here. It was pretty easy to talk about what I liked when I was shopping for friends or family, but shopping for pampered pooches is a little more complicated. I love dogs, but don't have one of my own yet, so I had to choose some special friends to help me. I wanted to make sure these Diva Dogs had enough time to really try out the products and give their "paws up" before sharing them with you. I'm so happy to say that Dirty Dog Organics was a howling success with my furry friends!

Each of my friends received a Dirty Dog Organics Gift Pack which included Pet Wash and Fur Freshener. Dirty Dog Organics are manufactured and distributed by The Grapeseed Co. in Santa Barbara, California. Their pet products are 100% paraben and sulfate free, with soothing essential oils and lots of organic ingredients that are pH balanced to condition, cleanse, and combat dander. Add in recyclable packaging and what's not to love? I couldn't wait to see what my friends would think!

My parents' Westie is a retired show dog (CH Camrick's Lady Mairghread). Maggie may look fancy, but her favorite pastime is digging and getting muddy, and sometimes she even smells a little (*gasp*)--"doggy". Enter Dirty Dog Organics Pet Wash. "The pet wash smells wonderful and left her coat very nice," Lynne says. To combat that "doggy odor" (or DO, as Dirty Dog Organics calls it), they tried the Fur Freshener. "Between baths we find that a small spray of Fur Freshener, combed through her coat, keeps her smelling sweet enough to sleep on our bed at night." (Are you surprised that this pup doesn't sleep on the floor?)

My other canine assistant was my best friend Joanne's Aussie. Piper is a Princess: she is a bit aloof, and very selective when bestowing doggy kisses. Though baths are not her favorite, she was gracious enough to allow Joanne to bathe her with Dirty Dog Organics Pet Wash.

Joanne says, "I loved the smell of the Dirty Dog Pet Wash. It really was great! Piper tends to get itchy skin (as we all do) during dry weather and this really didn't bother her. It also made her coat very shiny and gorgeous!" Joanne also found that the Fur Freshener works well between washes. "The first time I used it, I sprayed a bit too much--a few sprays are all you need to leave a really nice fragrance." Princess Piper seems to enjoy the extra attention she gets when she's all prettied up with Dirty Dog products (and she'll probably even let Joanne use them again!).

Check out Dirty Dog Organics if you have a Pampered Pooch who deserves natural and organic products with refreshing essential oils and earth-friendly packaging!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back on Track

I am usually a pretty focused person. Frankly, I have to be: I have two kids in elementary school and along with the responsibilities of my home and family, I run a small business. On most days, every minute counts. There isn't a lot of down time.

Last Sunday as I was doing my usual planning for the week, the lights went out. While I was working, a blizzard was dumping about a foot of new snow (some places here in Maine got two feet). Bedtime comes early in a house with no power: no computer or television distractions, and there's only so long you can read by flashlight!

Monday arrived and the snow continued. The kids had a snow day, my husband's company was closed because of the power outage, and without web access or lighting at home, my own business couldn't really do business. So we shoveled, built a fire, cooked on the wood stove. Kids played in the snow. We played board games, worked on puzzles, had conversations. Really spent time together. It was like our summer camping trips, minus the s'mores. For people who spend a great deal of time "plugged in," it was a welcome change.

But when I was ready to get back to my work week, all of my plans went out the window. For two days we had intermittent power and internet access; I spent that time moving one step forward and two back. Though I think I'm back on track today, I surely won't be completing my list this week. I apologize to those of you who have been so patient with my inconsistent communications, and I "plan" that next week we'll be back to normal.

Do you find it as frustrating when you can't make your plans a reality? How do you deal with it? I have to admit that I did learn something from having to let go of some of the things I wanted to accomplish. Realizing how much I rely on my computer and email to function really reminded me how little time I spend unplugged—and how relaxing it is (in small doses). I think maybe I'll turn off the power next weekend for an hour or two (don't tell anyone!). Maybe I'll even pick up some marshmallows for those s'mores.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Frugal Weddings

Economic reality crashes dream weddings

If that's not a depressing headline, I don't know what is. But the article itself is pretty upbeat, offering stories of how brides can "embrace their inner tightwad" to save on their big day. Think ebay for wedding gowns, paring down your guest list, and staying in the U.S. for your honeymoon.

Brides are also thinking about their guests by making sure that there's a range of prices in registry items. Some are doing honeymoon registries instead. With this year's average wedding cost expected to be nearly 30% lower than 2007's average, lots of couples are making changes to lower their budgets.

When Suze Orman appeared on Oprah last fall to give viewers a "reality check" about finances, one couple was watching and took her advice to heart. Bill and Kerry decided not to take a honeymoon at all based on Orman's advice. Orman's response: "So here we have a couple that's getting married and they're doing it the right way...doing what matters versus doing something they can't afford. I love that."

What do you think? Have you changed your plans based on layoffs or other effects of the recession? Please share your comments below! And please stay tuned as we share more do-it-yourself tips and articles about how to save money on your wedding!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cracking the Code

As I sit here suffering with my first cold in about two years, I read this headline:
Scientists crack genetic code of common cold: Researchers move a step closer to finding a remedy that actually works.

Apart from washing your hands, avoiding people who have colds, or wearing a surgical mask, there isn't a lot you can do now to prevent getting colds. Even knowing the genome of the common cold doesn't mean that there will be any quick cure...vaccines and medications take years to develop, and with viruses that have so many strains, one vaccine probably wouldn't be enough. But I still find this good news.

Figuring out how the viruses are related may help scientists find the common weaknesses that will lead to research in developing new drugs. My grandkids may grow up in a world without the common cold...the way my kids will never know chicken pox or measles. That's pretty amazing. In the meantime, excuse me while I go get a juice refill. (Hope your February is healthier than mine!)

Monday, February 09, 2009

New Design

The new design is finally up and running! I'm still fine-tuning things and will be making more changes to our products in the coming weeks, but the biggest part of the redesign is done. I'd love to know what you think of it! Please feel free to leave your comments below!

Friday, February 06, 2009

It doesn't hurt to ask

I'll admit, I've always had a hard time asking for help. I'm not sure if it's just stubborn independence, or (as some have told me) some kind of pride, but I feel that I have to try to do things on my own. It's good to work hard, but I started to realize that doing it all myself really limits what I can accomplish. I can't possibly have all the answers, right?

I started my year off by doing something completely against my nature, and that was asking for help with my business. I hired a business consultant because I needed help with my focus and direction. I had questions and didn't have a clue where to start. I hired Donna Maria Coles Johnson, the head of Indie Beauty Network and an expert on balancing entrepreneurship with home life. This was the best hour I've spent on my business this year, providing me with a plan that I can implement in the coming months. If I'd tried to come up with these answers on my own, I'd still be floundering. What a great reminder of how much you gain by asking for help!

A friend of mine is having financial problems and recently turned to me for help. We looked over her bills, pulled her credit report, and found some things that she could change. One of her credit cards had been increasing their interest rate to an astronomical level, resulting in a minimum payment that was quickly surpassing her budget. She had contacted them about lowering the rate with no success, and felt discouraged about asking again. I encouraged her to keep trying, and earlier this week we called again. We explained her situation and asked for the representative's help in coming up with a solution. Without any question, they lowered her interest rate by more than 40%, which will amount to thousands of dollars in savings. Another reminder of what can happen when you ask for help! (Check your credit card statements immediately and talk with them about lowering your rate, too--this was incredibly easy and makes such a difference!)

I've been reading so many sad stories lately about families who lose their jobs or homes and then take drastic action because they don't know what to do or where to turn. Why is it so hard for people to find the help they need--or to ask for it when it is available? What do you think? Do you have a hard time asking for help, too? What happens when you do ask for help? Please share your comments below!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Valentine Goodies

While of course I'm hoping you'll find something sweet in our own Valentine goodies, I've seen a few other sweet things lately I'd love to share. The coolest thing about them is that they're right here in Maine!

If your heart is set on chocolate this Valentine's Day, Simply Divine Brownies are a...well, divine choice. You must taste them to believe just how decadent these brownies are. With flavors like whoopie pie, caramel, and chocolate peanut butter, there is something over-the-top fantastic for every chocoholic you know.

Another chocolate choice from Maine is Wilbur's of Maine; make sure to click on their Valentine page to see chocolate dipped strawberries, truffles, or their Valentine assortments. (And check out their other chocolates...they even make chocolate lobsters!)

If you prefer real lobster to the chocolate variety, I can't think of a better way to impress your sweetie than to serve fresh Maine lobster! And of course the place to go for fresh Maine lobster is Hancock Gourmet Lobster. Their Lobster for Two will give you lots of mouthwatering menu ideas!

The bonus with these companies is how wonderful they are! Read about the business mentoring Wilbur's have done with Simply Divine in this recent article. Cal Hancock, the creator of Hancock Gourmet Lobster, has worked within the local community of Cundy's Harbor to maintain the working waterfront. (And she's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet!) Of course their products are all terrific, too, so hurry up and order some Valentine Goodies from Maine!


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