Monday, March 31, 2008
The show was, for lack of a better expression, LAME, but it got me thinking about why I had chosen to become a stay at home mom. I remember when I had Joshua 5 weeks prematurely, and recognizing how fragile this 5 pound baby was. I knew I could never let anyone else take care of him, and I quit my job the following week. I never regretted that decision, and would love to see more moms in this role. (In fact most of my friends are stay at home moms, which I think is a good sign of changes to come.)
This particular episode featured a mom who felt like she had missed her calling in the fashion industry, so they hooked her up with an internship with a company and hid this secret from her family for dramatic effect. By the magic of television, or maybe just because she was talented, she ended up getting a job offer from this fashion design firm. What would she do!? Drum roll please....she took the job and, of course, the whole family went balistically happy for her (but not until the editing made it look like they would be very unhappy for her, you tricky, tricky editors you).
I wanted her to turn the job down though.
After all, she cried when they showed her video of her kids at home while she was away. She said it was so much more peaceful at home, than the stress of the work place. (and for you stay at home moms out there...you know how peaceful it can be, right?!?!)
Being a stay at home mom is by far the best job I have ever had. I would make the same choices again and again with no qualms. Make no mistake, this is also the hardest, most thankless job I've had with much more contact to bodily fluids than I'd ever expected, but nothing is better than being the one person your kids know they can rely on no matter what, whenever they feel like they need it.
I started DipSticks to keep my creative juices alive, as well as to hopefully bring in some extra cash to the household to afford better things for the boys, like good schools, organic food, and a comfortable environment. I'm watching them now as I type this, and the sheer joy of seeing them laugh and play while I work can't be described.
Yes, there's always that flip side where they scream and cry, but oddly enough those memories fade away and only the good memories stay to remind you of what miracles they are.
So, no fashion job or otherwise for this stay at home mom. I'm sticking with my kids, and trying to create a company that can be scheduled around them. Hopefully I'll leave something behind that they can be proud of, but more than that I hope they always remember that feeling of mommy's arms when they needed to cuddle, or my voice when I played hide and seek with them, or the smell of fresh baked cookies on demand.
Who knows, maybe they'll bring their kids to work at DipSticks someday. Wouldn't that be cool?
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
One day, I thought, hey why am I buying 12 of these jugs at a time from Tractor Supply when I could get them directly from Anderson and save a ton of money?
So, I made one call before Christmas got sent to voicemail, no call back. 3 more calls since Christmas and still no answer. I even spoke directly to a person once, who said she'd send an email to her sales staff and cc the Regional manager to make sure I got a call....uh, still waiting.
Today, I noticed that I was getting low on pretzels again, so I called the manager at Tractor Supply and told her I was getting nowhere with Anderson, so she kindly gave me their contact information.
I placed a call to a guy in New York, meanwhile my oldest son who is not feeling well, is following me around asking about some car game that I have no knowledge of. Mike answers the phone, and I begin to tell him who I am and what I want. Joshua yells loudly that he wants to go down to the basement to find this car game. I said "shhhhh, I'm on the phone". This means, "Please yell louder" in five year old language apparently.
Finally, Mike is done telling me that he can't help and to call another guy named Dave at some other number. Joshua has the basement door open and Jacob is heading down to the mold infested dungeon just as I hang the phone up. He has a block in his hand and tells me it belongs to the car game. This finally triggers a tiny notch in my brain known as "Random knowledge only a mom could possess."
While I'm dialing this Dave's phone number, I carry several birthday bags and two Easter baskets down to the basement and put them away. Upon getting his voice mail, I begin to leave a message while I'm carrying a large plastic car up from basement, that hasn't been used in 2 years.
"Yippee! That's it! That's the car game," exclaims Joshua, just as I'm finishing my message for Don.
Maybe that's why no one will call me back?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Put the following 3 items into a blender or food processor:
2 T of freshly squeezed lemon juice (or less depending on your taste buds)
1 t Sea Salt
Pour this oil in a slow stream through the top of the blender/processor until it's all incorporated.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Have you been eating too many delicious DipSticks Gourmet Pretzels? :)
Years ago I attended, and then worked for, a nutritional counseling company called MPS Weight Loss and Wellness. It was a fascinating, new concept of eating whole foods, mostly whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies etc. No preservatives and all that good stuff. It worked big time! I lost lots of weight and kept it off for a long time. I gained a lot back with child number one, but was able to lose it once I started following the basic concepts again, and have maintained a consistent diet of these types of food until recently. (my candida battle doesn't allow many foods that were allowed on the MPS plan)
One term we used that I believe may have been one of the best things to come from that class was the notion of a "cheat day."
All too often we start a diet and end it in a few days or weeks (or in my case, hours) because we can't bare the idea of "never" being able to eat food X again.
So, with the cheat day concept it works like this:
As you crave specific foods, write them down prominently somewhere so that you can see it.
I put it on my refrigerator. I write things like Taco Bell, Lemon Meringue Pie, pizza, whatever I happen to crave at any given moment. Some weeks the list is a mile long, other weeks it's only a few items.
The act of writing this down does two things. It takes the immediate action of wanting (craving) something, and putting a time line on it. It makes you feel good knowing that you will definitely get that food again, just not until Saturday, or whatever day you have determined your cheat day to be. (it really helps to plan the cheat day around a special event like weddings, or holidays too)
And, most importantly, once you actually get to the cheat day, you will find that you only eat one or two things off of that long list. Thus, saving you tons of calories and regret. It works liked magic, and I suggest giving it a try for a few weeks.
You'll be surprised how easily you manage what you thought was too difficult to concur.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
And, we're also thinking up a fun idea for Heart Disease awareness. February is Heart awareness month, and red is the color usually associated with the disease. So, we're taking that idea a step further and creating a pretzel called "The Ticker". Top heart healthy foods, such as almonds and flax seed will be mingling with our caramel, and then we plan to add some cayenne pepper in the end for that little "kick start your heart" feeling. It will be milk chocolate with a red chocolate ribbon on top.
Cancer and heart disease are two issues that affect myself and millions of people across the world on a daily basis.
At DipSticks, we are trying something new. I introduced the Jubilee! pretzel about two years ago in an effort to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer.
30% of the profits of this pretzel go towards cancer research, and we are proud to be the only pretzel company to create a unique gifting option for this cause. Not only are the proceeds going towards breast cancer research, but the pretzel itself is rolled in cherries and dipped in dark chocolate (both very high in antioxidants, which have been proven cancer fighters). Each pretzel is also drizzled with a cute pink chocolate ribbon.
We don't want to stop here. Two other pretzels are in the works for charitable causes. The "Nana Jean" is a tribute to a dear friends mother who passed away from colon cancer way before her time. We're leaning towards a white chocolate pretzel with blueberries, flax seed, and a blue chocolate ribbon, indicative of colon cancer awareness.
Do you have any other ideas for charitable pretzels? Send them our way, or leave a comment.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I took this picture of the Dinosaur cake to prove I had done it, just in case it came out so well you wouldn't know the difference. :)
And here is the final cake we like to call "Dino Island". I used two 9 x 13 sheet cake pans for the bottom, base part of the cake.
The frosting on the dinosaur as well as the border is a buttercream that I think is a fairly traditional recipe made with butter flavored crisco, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, but I do add almond extract. I think it gives it a bit of a richer taste.
I also purchased these chocolate rocks and pebbles from Country Kitchen, and they fit perfectly with the whole theme.
I printed out a sign that said "Happy 5th Birthday Joshua", and cut it out in the shape of a flag and glued it to a bamboo stick. We used this instead of writing his name on the cake with icing.
And in non cake related news, Joshua received his first ever bike (with training wheels of course), with matching safety gear.
This one was for Joshua's 4th birthday. He was (and still is) very into the Geotrax trains, and we had gotten him a big set for his birthday. So, I placed some pieces from his old set onto the cake and just piped around everything to look like grass.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
It was a bizarre and emotional weekend, to say the least.
It began on Friday with the funeral for my cousin's baby. I recommend to everyone--never, ever go to a funeral for a baby. It was the most heart wrenching experience at a funeral that I have ever had, and not one that I will forget any time soon.
Then, on Saturday we had the birthday party for my now 5 year old son, Joshua. He had a blast helping me with the cake, and once his cousins came for the party, he couldn't stop smiling. I will post pictures soon of the cake. I think it turned out very well, considering this is my 6th cake without any formal training. But formal training would be fun.
Then, Sunday came and it was Easter. The egg hunting and easter basket discoveries lit the boys' faces with joy, and gave me a fresh sense of, well, rebirth.
Sadness aside, we all ebb and flow with the ways of the world, and some days are spectacular, and some days leave a bit to be desired. But life is a miracle, one that should be treated carefully and fully appreciated. Don't leave any stone unturned...you never know what you might find.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I'm a stress eater. I always suspected it. But it wasn't until about six months ago that I had no doubt left. A series of traumatic events (4 ER trips: 3 for kids, 1 for dog) happened all within weeks of each other. I preceded to gain 25 pounds in 2 months. If you would've shown me a carrot during that time, I would have beaten you with it until you were orange. I'm serious.
So when I got a phone call yesterday informing me that my cousin's infant daughter had passed away suddenly, it wasn't a shock that I almost immediately thought of food. (right after i bawled my eyes out, hugged my own kids a trillion times until they screamed for me to stop, and mourned for my cousin and his family, of course.)
I couldn't stop thinking of food of any kind. Starbucks...those damn cupcakes I made...frickin' organic Bunny Grahams for god's sake.
But how do you process this kind of grief? When another cousin of mine died almost a year ago today, I knew immediately how to feel. But this is on a different level. A level I'm not sure I want to process yet.
It sort of came to me that I think the reason I'm thinking (obsessing) about food so much, is because if I don't think about IT, I think about the loss my cousin is going through. I think about what I would do/feel if I lost a child so young, or at any age for that matter.
I'd rather stick my head in the sand and not feel anything, thank you very much. I'll have plenty of emotions on Friday at the funeral.
Life doesn't wait for you to get your stress-eating plan ready. Moments like this happen when they happen, and I can't stop them.
I don't know if I'm strong enough to get through this, but no matter my struggle with food, it's nothing compared to what my cousin and his family will struggle with for years.
So what if I eat a non candida friendly food while I'm dealing with this emotional overload?
I'll get over it and move on. That's more than I can say for my cousin.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
While they were baking I made dinosaurs
out of chocolate and a dinosaur mold.
They turned out pretty cute I think, but the true test is when I drop them off at school tomorrow. The teachers may think they're a little messy though...oops. Oh well. If you don't want a mess, don't tell me to bring cupcakes, right?
I can't eat one until Saturday because that's my cheat day (i'm on a diet, okay!) But my husband and the boys thought they were yummm-ola.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
So, I need to get my butt in gear. I am huge and tired and SO not bikini ready. I am probably about 45-50 pounds over weight right now and I feel like I'm 60 years old.
I am very tired and feel quite cumbersome. I can't really bend over effortlessly or go upstairs very easily, and with my family history of severe obesity, it's an issue that needs nipped in the bud (butt) now.
This isn't exactly a diet, as much as it is going to have to be a lifestyle. But, I am going to begin a candida diet that I've done in the past with great success.
I've lost weight with other healthy food programs, but have never felt as energetic and healthy (even my skin and hair was glowing!) than when I'm eating the candida way.
Unfortunately, this diet ain't an easy one. Pretty much anything I use to eat is a no no. No white flour or sugar, no sweeteners of any kind actually, including natural sweeteners like honey and agave, and of course artificial sweeteners are off the list. I can have stevia and do use an english toffee version that seems to help in emergencies. I can't have vinegar (which makes ketchup, mayo and mustard out) and no wheat, or other grains for the first 4 weeks and most fruit is limited for a few weeks too (candida feeds on sugar, so all sugars are a risk), also, no alcohol, no dairy, no peanuts, no caffeine, no mushrooms and no smoked meats.
Gone are my cheetos and lemon meringue pies/cheesecakes, and no more taco bell or starbucks for me for awhile. But, if all goes well, I'll be exchanging these fatty foods and my fatty butt for better health and tons more energy to keep up with these active kids and my fast growing business.
I'll try to post menu ideas and recipes as well as my progress as often as I can.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section, or email me directly!
Monday, March 17, 2008
We introduced you to the Caramel Apple (see new photos on the left), and then the Dippity Do Dahs, now we're launching a few new ideas.
Chocolate covered caramel marshmallows! We take jumbo marshmallows-the freshest we can find-drench them with our
Also, around Christmas time we started making some fantastic gourmet chocolate pretzel bark, too. We've taken traditional bark up a notch and added some DipStick touches to it.
We also have the traditional milk chocolate with toffee, white chocolate with peppermint, and dark chocolate with mint oreos and andes mints. Each of our barks though have a unique, salty twist (pardon the pun) with the addition of crunched up pretzels.
It's very exciting to now have a whole "line" of products. And with the addition of the new color coded hang tags, we hope to make ourselves a little more competitive, which should get us in the door of some larger chain stores.
It's time to have fun with pretzels!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
me: THIS is my full time job. (pointing to the massive trays of pretzels I've been laboring over all weekend)
mom: They have a great pension.
me: Yeah. I'd hate my life and kill myself, but at least I'd have a great pension.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I apologize in advance...
Friday, March 14, 2008
But, as is typical in this house when the words "plan" or "think" are uttered, my children laugh in my face.
I woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m. to Joshua complaining of a stomach ache. He tossed and turned for about thirty minutes, and then said he had to go to the doctor. Well, since the last two times he said this we ended up in the ER, I took this very seriously. So, we went downstairs and I gave him something for his upset tummy. Luckily he felt better in about ten minutes...I on the other hand, was tired. He was jumping around like it was a snow day. I was tired.
Once kid number 2 woke up, it was all down hill from there. Trying to rest while the kids are awake is like trying to....do something really hard, that's not possible even remotely. (see, i'm too tired to even think up analogies)
I did get some color samples printed. I think I've narrowed down those, which will then be utilized in the hang tags, as well as any other print material and the website, once I get around to revamping those.
I got the laundry started and this blog post typed. A shower may be in the future, but I won't hold my breath.
Sometimes self-motivation is hard. Almost as hard as trying to nap while the kids are awake.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
This will hopefully widen our customer base and attract people we normally wouldn't have access to.
Check out IndulgeinChocolate.com and Chocolate.com
Regardless of your stance on that oh so controversial topic, it's darn cold. I'm tired of it. NO, really, I'm tired. I'm fatigued from gathering snow boots and winter jackets and mittens and hats and scarves, and putting them all on, taking them off, putting them back on, taking them back off, putting them away, getting them back out...endlessly.
I'm tired of the grey, lifeless scenery that I witness day in and day out. It's exhausting and depressing, and I can only save myself by thinking spring.
Here are a few photos to warm you up. Drink some hot cocoa, and hope to god this Global Warming/Absolutely nothing to do with Global Warming thing will equally bless us with a long, hot summer too.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I dipped some jumbo marshmallows into caramel, and then sat them on some crunched up pretzels, and dipped them in milk, dark and white chocolates. I just ate a white one, and yum.
I think these will be a big hit! They look ridiculously cute in their bag, and the new hang tags/ribbon combo is coming along smashingly.
I can't wait to post a photo of them...
I totally understand that perhaps costs are up, and the oil industry is suffering and whatever else they want the media to report, but someone PLEASE tell me why Exxon then reports a $40 Billion profit? That's billion with a B.
I'm pretty sure I didn't report a profit of any kind last year thanks to these gas prices.
As a business owner, I am affected greatly by this increase. My UPS prices go up, the price of all my grocery items, especially anything with sugar (and HELLO! all my stuff has sugar in it) has gone way up.
I don't want to increase my product, so I'm absorbing a lot of this increase. I'm driving less, and not warming my car up as long. But it seems the less we use gas, the higher the prices get.
I just hope I can afford the gas to get me to the polls in November.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Here's what the item is: I usually have tons of random food particles in my chocolate after a long day of dipping. Nuts, m&ms, corn flakes...lots of things will fall off the pretzels and make their way into the bowl. I always strain each batch of chocolate and dump the miscellaneous findings onto waxed paper. Once this sets up, I either eat it or throw it out...usually the former.
These little blobs of goodness, are so tasty, why not share them with the world! But what fun name can we call them?
I put a poll on the right side column...can you vote on these names and help me develop this fun goodie? Thanks a bunch!!! (free samples to anyone who votes!)
For two years we have been accommodating local companies by handling their client birthday gifts. Give us your birthday list, and we'll make sure a fresh batch of DipSticks are delivered to their door (office or home) on or as near as possible to their birthday.
Eliminate the stress of remembering a birthday, while sending them a truly one of a kind gift.
Our pretzels come in several gift box sizes to fit all your needs.
Custom orders and quantity discounts available...
Saturday, March 8, 2008
The pretzels themselves don't necessarily have expensive ingredients in them, so why do I charge $3.50 for the small 2 ounce pretzel, and $7.00 for the 4 ouncer? Well, time is money. And I spend a great deal of time on these.
Most people don't realize that the 50 cent candy bar, or the chocolate covered pretzels that are 3 for $1 that they're buying in the store are mass produced. They churn out millions of these per hour on a huge, ridiculously expensive conveyer belt based machine. In a lot of cases, no hands ever touch these candy items. No personal attention is ever given to them, they are just products to be manufactured for the masses, in turn for huge profits.
DipSticks, however, is very hands on. We hand apply every label (or hopefully soon, every hang tag), we hand dip the pretzels into caramel, hand dip said pretzels into random tasty ingredients, and then...you saw this coming....hand dip them into chocolate, sprinkle cute toppings on by hand, and drizzle adorable, artsy fartsy little chocolate swirls on each one. Then, once these hand dipped pretzels have set, we place each one in a cellophane bag, by hand. Then, each bag is sealed and trimmed by a machine....that we use our hands to operate (you thought you had me on that one didn't you?). And finally, each one of these babies are hand tied with raffia.
So, you see, lots and lots of time, and personal attention are given to each and every one of our items. We don't want to scare people off with our pricing, but we also don't want to make these for free. We hope people appreciate the very hand made nature of our products, and that we put love and care into each one. A trend does seem to be appearing that indicates consumers are appreciating, not only hand made items, but local items as well. I hope that trend remains, because I for one love a unique hand made item and would pick it before any mass produced candy bar any day.
While our pretzel pricing is pretty much set, our Caramel Apple pricing is still a little up in the air.
In comparison, DeBrands charges $20-$25 for their caramel apples. Mrs. Prindable charges $20-$26 per apple, while Amy's Candy Kitchen sells her apples in the range of $12 for a simple apple up to $16 for more decadent ones. Each of these apples weigh the same as ours, some are more decorative, some are less.
We are thinking of charging $12-$15 for our Caramel Apples. They weigh 1 pound, 2 ounces, are completely rolled in ingredients, and completely drenched in chocolate. (some of the above mentioned apples aren't completely covered in chocolate).
Does this price seem fair? We can make 200 pretzels in the same amount of time it takes to make 30 apples, just to give you a reference. (with that calculation, technically the apples should be $20)
Our Dippity Do Dahs are sold 4 to a package. We're leaning towards charging $2.50 for this, even though the total weight is 2 ounces, which is what the $3.50 single pretzel weighs. These take less time though, and are using leftover pretzels, so we can justify the lower price.
Keep in mind, too, that when selling these items wholesale, our clients want to charge double. So, when deciding the price for our items, we also have to take into account that we'll get half that for wholesale orders. We make far less per pretzel, but it is usually made up in the quantity.
Pricing isn't easy. You don't want to overprice, but you obviously have to make some kind of profit, or you'll never grow. We don't want to price ourselves out of business, especially since we're still very unknown and have lots of opportunity to grow.
A delicate job, but a necessary one that hopefully we will succeed at, without alienating ourselves.
What do you think? How does the quality of a hand made item rank in your buying lifestyle? Do you have recommendations or other pricing strategies? Let me know in the comment section!
Friday, March 7, 2008
I have chosen to be a stay at home mom. I've chosen to run a business from home. So, any lack of me time, is therefore, chosen by me.
But on the flip side, I can also choose to have me time anytime I want. That said, I am now going to put all the millions of tiny little things, plus a few big things, aside so that I can read this great book "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle before the library comes to my home personally and asks for it back.
Brewing my tea as I type this, I am anticipating this moment and hope it lasts longer than 5 minutes. But even if it doesn't, it will be 5 minutes that I chose to stop and smell the flowers...or in this case, an old book used by hundreds of people before me. Doesn't have quite the same ring, but you get the idea...
Thursday, March 6, 2008
And, if you can't tell by the title of this post, these new concoctions will be called "Dippity Do Dahs"
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Wake up, get the cartoons on for the boys. Find sippy cups and food so they don't starve. (what? I'm a good mom!) Oh, and the dog needs food too, as I can tell by the death stare that I'm getting.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Only buyers are invited to attend, and thousands show up to see what's new and exciting that they just have to order for their store or business.
For about two years I've been on the fence about being an exhibitor. It's not cheap. To rent a booth is expensive enough, but then you have decorations and travel costs, not to mention lodging and food for two days.
I was uncomfortable about spending that much, but more than that, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle all the orders. (such a horrible problem to have, I know)
To take some of the enigma out of this event, my husband/business partner and I traveled to Chicago on the coldest day of the year in January to see what all the fuss was about.
We spent a few hours just rambling around isles. We took some photos of booth decor ideas, and talked with a few business owners. After it was all said and done, we felt ready to tackle this.
So, for my next "hold your nose and jump" moment we are gathering ideas and moxie and headin' for the Chicago Mart in July. The very worst that could happen is I come back empty handed with a big chunk of change missing from my bank account, but the best thing is that I leave with tons of orders, a bunch of new clients, hopefully some friends or mentors, and most importantly the feeling of knowing I did it.
I'll keep you posted on the details involved with getting prepared for this event. Should be a fun ride...
Monday, March 3, 2008
I was fine with that fact until one of my customers asked if I made caramel apples. Uhh. Ummm. Wellll. I just don't know? Do I? Can I? But, what about the pretzel?
So, into the kitchen I went with my trusty chocolate, caramel, bowls and spoons. All familiar to me by now, but what's this? An apple? How can I work this into my line of pretzels and not feel like I'm cheating on them?
I started the caramel dipping process similarly to how I dip my pretzels, then rolled the apple into some pecans and shortbread, just like I'd do with my pretzels. Then it dawned on me, "Why can't I put pretzels on the apple?" So, I crunched up some pretzels, and plopped that big gooey caramel apple down in a pile of them and hoped for the best.
Top Photo: For Valentine's Day a dark chocolate with dried cherries called Sweet Valentine
Bottom Photo: This is the packaging for the caramel apples, for now. I'm thinking of using a clear box with a hole on top too. And maybe switching to a red ribbon with gold.
The result? A big hit! The apples looked beautiful, and you get just a hint of that salty taste from the pretzels on the bottom. They work great to keep the apple flat too, and keep the pretzel component a main part of my product line. Now what else can I fit pretzels into?
Note: My caramel apples are currently available at Plumtickled Junction in Dunfee (on the whitley/allen county line road between Bass Road and 14)
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Take any of our pretzels (I prefer Mint Cookie) and mix it with any ice cream flavor (I prefer cookies and cream) and add a bit of milk, blend and VOILA! You have a yummy, chunky, one of a kind DipStick Milkshake.
The texture is unique, with bits of salty pretzels, but that's what I liked about it. It was more filling than a typical milkshake, and the combinations are endless.
Try our Gone Bananas with Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey or an English Toffee pretzel with Starbucks Java Chip.
Be creative and let me know what you end up with...