Posted tagged ‘cost-effective’

No meat to start my week

September 6, 2010

Once the a new season starts, I like to look at it as a fresh start and make new season resolutions for myself. For a number of reasons, I’ve decided to implement “Meatless Mondays” into my cuisine lifestyle. And, because I’m writing a post about it, I’ll be more likely to take it seriously.

Meatless Mondays are a great way to save money, save calories and explore new culinary options. I know I’m among many who buy the exact same sandwich everytime they go to say, Jimmy Johns, but by branching out and actually TRYING the vegetarian options, you’ll find that they’re not all that bad. I’ve learned you don’t have to be a sprout-loving animal rights hippy to enjoy meatless foods.

In honor of my meat-free Monday declaration, here’s a link to 14 easy vegetarian recipes from the Hopeless Cook including the ALT (avocado, lettuce and tomato) sandwich, tomato soup and my personal favorite caprese salad.

I’m not promising anything drastic, but I am proud of myself for making this commitment. Does anyone participate in Meatless Mondays? Anyone have any favorite veggie recipes to share? Any encouragement? I’m gonna need it!

*Photo credit:


10 fool-proof gifts for women (under $25)

July 28, 2010

I’m coming up on several female birthdays in my life and I felt necessary to write this post to help out clueless buyers and steer them away from the typical thoughtless soap and body lotions in a horrific mixture of berry-floral-patchouli scent. Some guys (and girls) need some help, here’s what I suggest:

1. A bottle of wine
As long as they’re of age, you can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of wine for a birthday present or to give to the host of a party. Bonus points if you know your girl’s favorite type/brand.

2. A good book
If you know this girl even a little bit, you could probably take a good guess at what she likes to read. Best-sellers lists and classic fiction novels offer safe reading choices.

3. Magazine subscription
I love getting this gift and it’s so easy! Buying a year-long subscription to a popular magazine is a “treat” women LOVE, but often don’t feel they need.

4. DVDs from the sale bin
Pick out 2-3 DVDs from the huge sale bins at Walmart or Target that usually go for $5 each. If you look hard enough, you can find some cinema gold in there.

5. Starbucks gift card
Again, this is an indulgence women often feel they don’t need, but would absolutely love to receive. Try something great when you bought the card? Write a beverage suggestion on the gift card for an added treat.

6. The gift of life (flowers, herb garden pots)
Ok, maybe it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but I always love getting flowers. If your girl’s not a flower girl, a nice alternative is a potted green plant that she can set in her window and that will last a lot longer.

7. Personalized stationery or notebooks
If your girl works in an office or with clients like I do, she sends hand-written thank you notes. Personalized letterheads and envelopes are available for cheap on homemade sites like etsy or you can get crafty and make your own monograms using a rubber stamp.

8. Movie gift cards
Even if your girl doesn’t frequent the movies often, this is a great way for her to enjoy herself with the guest of her choice. Individual movie theater cards are available as well as generic version from fandango.

9. Lottery tickets
Who wouldn’t want the chance to win the big bucks? So she doesn’t win? Who cares. She probably still had fun scratching off the ticket in anticipation and dreaming about how she would spend the money.

10. Homemade dish
If all else fails or you’re completely broke, make her some homemade baked goods or meal. Don’t worry if your skills are less than stellar, she’ll appreciate the effort and that it came from the heart.

What did I miss? Ladies, what do you like to get for a birthday or holiday?

Crowdsourcing has my mark

June 29, 2010

Image Source: Tangentism

Very recently, the project of developing a 12-page brochure for work was ever-so-lightly placed on my workload dinner plate. Working at an agency, I managed hundreds of design projects, however, it’s a teeny bit different at a small tech company – your million dollar budget and design team is missing. Not only did I have to produce 12 pages worth of content, but also create 6 professionally-designed spreads on a one-time graphic design pre-req class education on a limited budget? One might think impossible.

What’s is this? Crowdsourcing, you say? Sure, I’ll try it.

Basically, I typed up a detailed PDG (ad speak for project brief) and posted it to 99designs, including my $600 “prize” of how much I wanted to spend. The whole process took me about 20 minutes.

Time well spent…

I was blown away by the amount of talent I had access to. I received about 10 submissions from 10 different designers. I was able to cut designs right away that had completely missed the mark, or offer suggestions to the designs that were oh so close to what I had envisioned.

The final design that “won” exceeded my expectations on all accounts. Not only was his work phenomenal, he was very understanding with my multiple rounds of changes and nit-picking of his work. And (maybe the best part) he was Australian, which made him that much more fun to communicate with. It’s hard to get angry at messages in your inbox as you’re walking out the door when the subject line is “Good Morning, Love!”

I absolutely still see the need for design agencies and will continue to use them for large projects, however, this brochure would have easily cost me upwards of $2,000 and a month’s time if I would have gone down that road, and I wouldn’t have been able to have such a wide range of options.

I’ve also heard that Elance and Crowdspring are other good resources to use.

I absolutely recommend trying out crowdsourcing for your design projects.

What do you think? Have you used crowdsourcing before?

5 Questions Your Boss Will Ask You About Social Media

April 30, 2009

Suggest adding social media to your marketing budget and here are 5 questions you are bound to get from your boss:

1. What’s so special about it?

What’s so special about quarter-page B&W newspaper ads that are almost always printed blurry? Whether we like it or not, newspapers are a dying medium and everything’s going digital. Reach these online markets in the best way possible. Social media is a way to market in a smart, direct and personal way that has been producing increasingly effective results at a staggering rate. Do the research, you’ll be surprised.

2. Isn’t it expensive?

Social media is one of the least expensive tools you can use in the marketing industry. Most sites are free or have minimal costs for upgrades or optimal accounts. Even if you’re in the mindset of time=money, you’ll still be getting your dollar’s worth. 

3. Who is going to manage it?

Large and small companies alike are joining the social media revolution by using their own marketing team or advertising agency to run their social marketing executions. Depending on what your goals are, it is very possible to start implementing a program with a single social marketing employee aka me.

4. How does it produce results?

Like I mentioned earlier, the stats are there. Social media can generate higher sales simply by creating brand awareness and communicating services and promotions to a specific or general audience. The good news is that social media is continuing to grow and it’s not just for college students anymore- I was on the bus yesterday into downtown Chicago and overheard two Golden Girl-aged women have a conversation about who they’re following on Twitter.

5. When can we start?

Here’s where you can say: Right away! Try not to be surprised when a raise comes your way for suggesting such a great idea.

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