Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sugar-and-Spice Cake - Desserts - Christmas Holiday Recipes - Photos -

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  • Prep: 1 hr.; Bake: 22 min.; Cool: 1 hr., 5 min.; Freeze: 1 hr.
    Yield: Makes 12 servings


    • 1  (18.25-oz.) package white cake mix
    • 1  (16-oz.) container sour cream
    • 1/4  cup  butter, melted
    • 2  large eggs
    • 2  teaspoons  apple pie spice
    • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
    • 1/2  teaspoon  almond extract (optional)
    • Vanilla Buttercream
    • Garnishes: sparkling sugar, clear edible glitter, rosemary sprigs, pecan halves, cranberries


    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat together first 6 ingredients and, if desired, almond extract at low speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes or until batter is smooth, stopping to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl as needed. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.
    2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour). Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze 1 hour or up to 1 month.
    3. Spread Vanilla Buttercream between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.
    Note: For testing purposes only, we used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake Premium Cake Mix.
    Sugar-and-Spice Cake - Desserts - Christmas Holiday Recipes - Photos -

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Discontinued Items--Going to be gone soon!!!


    There are the items that are going to be gone very soon!  Order now if you want any of these things!!

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Very Merry Markdowns!

    Hello Friends!

    The holidays are all about celebrating, and believe me — there's so much to celebrate this month at Willow House!

    Whether you're shopping for friends, family or teachers, give the gift of simply good design. With our Very Merry Markdown Sale, you can save BIG on your favorite items! And don't forget discounts--up to 70% off--at my online Outlet!

    Speaking of my online Outlet, did you know that when you share my outlet with your friends, you can store up credits to spend in January? Best of all, your credits will DOUBLE in January? That's right! Book a January double rewards party with me and when your friends buy from my online outlet or from our December sales flyer, you can bank those sales to get double the rewards in January!  This sale is just like our old Southern Living at HOME sales, but now, you, your friends & family have the option to order directly online for delivery to your door.

    To top it off, did you know we have a new customer special? You now name your own! When your order reaches $39.96, you can choose almost any item in our catalog under $40 and get it at half price. Sale and outlet orders count!  Just go to my website at: and click on the big SHOP ONLINE button. After you place your order, it will ask your host--that's me. Just type in Sue Inge. (Or if YOU want to receive the host rewards to bank for January, let me know!)

    If you're looking for Christmas bargains, shop online with me. Avoid the mall, and let me help you shop from your seat, not your feet!

    Merry Christmas!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Need ideas for left over turkey??? Savory Hand Pies!!!

    Savory Hand Pies
    Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Amy Burke

    • Made with leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy. Add leftover chopped herbs for extra flavor.

    Total: 48 minutes
    Yield: Makes 18 pies


    • 1  cup  finely chopped roasted turkey
    • 3/4  cup  mashed potatoes
    • 1/2  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2  cup  cut green beans, cooked
    • 1  carrot, grated
    • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 1/2  (14.1-oz.) packages refrigerated piecrusts
    • 1  large egg, beaten
    • Poppy seeds (optional)
    • Turkey gravy, warmed


    1. Stir together first 6 ingredients. Season with desired amount of salt and pepper.
    2. Preheat oven to 400°. Unroll each piecrust. Lightly roll each into a 12-inch circle. Cut each piecrust into 6 circles using a 4-inch round cutter. Place about 3 Tbsp. turkey mixture just below center of each dough circle. Fold dough over filling, pressing and folding edges to seal.
    3. Arrange pies on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with egg, and, if desired, sprinkle with poppy seeds.
    4. Bake at 400° for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with warm gravy.
    Note: Unbaked pies can be frozen up to 1 month. Bake frozen pies 30 to 32 minutes or until golden brown.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Christmas Bargains!!!

    Hello Friends!

    The debut of my online shopping site was a hit last month! Did you
    know that you can now get sale prices similar to our summer and
    December sales via my new online outlet--any day of any month?

    It's just like our old Southern Living at HOME sales, but now, you can
    order directly online for delivery to your door from over 75 product
    specials along with items in our current catalog. Best of all, we have
    weekly, even daily specials that change at least every Monday to keep
    you coming back! So bookmark my website and visit me for our weekly
    and daily deals!

    Just go to to enter my online store. After you
    place your order, it will ask your host--that's me. Just type in
    "Susan Inge". (YOU can receive host rewards with an online party,
    too. Just ask me about it. I'll set you up.)

    Another great addition: our customer specials! You now name your own!
    When your order reaches $39.96, you can choose almost any item in our
    catalog under $40 and get it at half price. So you can receive an item
    out of the current catalog for half price just from placing an outlet
    order of over $39.96!

    If you're looking for Christmas bargains, shop online with me or book
    a home, catalog, or online party. Let me help you shop from your seat,
    not your feet!

    All the best!

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Who is making the Pea Salad???

    This is a favorite recipe of our family's...we make it for lots of different occasions.   It works great for any kind of get together, and it actually is a very pretty salad to make!   You can make it the day before and it tastes even better!   I think it looks best in some type of glass container so you can see the different ingredients thru the sides!   This covered compote from Willow House is the perfect dish for this salad! It is only $12.96 right now in the outlet!  What a bargain, and just in time for the holidays!!!   Here is the recipe!

    It's really called Vegetable Salad, but we call it Pea Salad:

    3 cups torn romaine
    3 cups torn leaf lettuce
    1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss Cheese (6 oz.)
    4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
    1/2 pound bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled (or use the bacon pieces from the store)
    1 ten-ounce package of frozen peas, thawed
    3/4 cup mayo or salad dressing ( I use light mayo)
    2 tablespoons sliced green onion with tops

    Place romaine in the bottom of dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar

    Top with 1 cup of cheese.  Layer eggs atop cheese, standing some slices on edge if desired.  Sprinkle generously with salt.  (The eggs look prettiest when standing on edge thru the glass container).

    Next, layer in order half the bacon, the leaf lettuce, and the peas.   Spread mayo over the top-sealing to the edge of the bowl.   Garnish with remaining cheese, remaining bacon, and green onion.

    Cover and chill over night.   Serves 10-12 servings.

    Do not substitute any of the lettuces or it will not taste right~ Enjoy!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Don't you just love when holiday shopping is made EASY???

    I do~!   Each year I have so many people to buy for and it is hard to come up with the perfect gift.   I try to give everyone something that they will love, something that they know I hand picked just for them.   While gift cards are an easy way to send someone something nice, sometimes I feel like I am taking the lazy way out, and not giving someone something that I really thought about.  "I was shopping the other day and this CHILI'S gift card just reminded me of you!!!"   Nope, not special.  But being a busy full-time mom, wife and being on a budget, this time of year can get really stressful.  I also need to ship most of my presents, which can get so costly.  Sometimes the shipping is more money than the actual gift!   Not to mention having to stand in lines at the post office with a whiney child at my leg, asking how much longer this is gonna take??   SO, imagine my total excitement when I saw what Willow House has come up with!!!!

    Now I can buy Willow House Magazine Gift cards for all of my family and friends!!!!   And what a SUPER Teacher gift!!!!   Plus your gift recipient receives a free cooler tote bag with every order, so it is like giving 2 gifts in one!   SWEET!!!!    All they have to do is go to to reedem their gift card for a magazine and choose from one of 17 great titles! 
    Coastal Living
    Entertainment Weekly
    Food & Wine
    GOLF Magazine
    People StyleWatch
    Real Simple with Family Issue
    Southern Living
    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated KIDS
    This Old House
    Travel + Leisure

    There are even great magazine options for men and kids!!!   I feel soooo relieved!!  I feel refreshed!   I feel happy!!!   Gift giving this year is going to be so easy!!!

    And this bonus tote?   You can pack juice boxes, lunches, whatever, and they stay cold because it is insulated (while being totally cute!!!)
    Perftect for the beach or the park!  Or sneak your own snacks into the movies!!!

    Easy as 1-2-3~ be done with your holiday shopping early this year!!!!

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Are you a Dummy, Mommy?

    How do you explain the books "Such and Such for Dummies" to a 7 year old who knows it isn't nice to call someone a dummy?   I got the book "Blogging for Dummies" at the library to try to stretch my new blogging legs and learn just what the heck it is all about, and how to get people to follow mine.  My son just didn't get the humor in the title.  (Altho I have a sneaking suspicion that he likes the permission to call me a Blog Dummy and get away with it!)   Kids take things so literally.  I can't wait til he is a little older and we can share some good old fashioned sarcasm and laugh together!   A friend of mine told me that kids that are extremely silly and goofy are just stretching THEIR humorous legs and learning to have a good sense of humor.  Thank goodness if this is really true, as both of my boys feel the need to "get the sillies out" on a regular basis.   My 7 year old son thinks that making a part of your body sound like a rude bodily function is the best way to get a few good laughs, especially at the grocery store, at a restaurant or anywhere where it is pretty much completely socially unacceptable.  I have to tell myself that this is all shaping his good sense of humor and that he will be entertaining me for years to come!

    Speaking of entertaining and decorating, I am loving my new Willow House items that I have purchased recently!  My house is looking so good, thanks to the new touches Willow House has given me!  I got a few nice mirrors from the NEW OUTLET, and I am thrilled!!!   Check them out!!
    Venetian Mirror

    Wall Sconces

    Flower Market Door Bucket
    Acanthus Wall Flourishes
    At this rate I will not make any profit, but that is ok because I truly love the beautiful products in my home...
    and now that we can shop online, it is just going to become easier and easier to order anything I want!!!

    And now if I can just figure out the blog thing!!  :)

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Order Willow House in your PJs

    Ordering products from the internet is my favorite way to shop!  I think it is so much easier than going to store because I can look at many many different stores and items just by clicking around!  I can look for diamonds, curtains, boots and halloween costumes all in a 10 minute span of time and don't even have to leave my comfy, cushy chair!!!  I am pretty lazy that way!!!  Cool drink in hand and laptop on my is my way to spend hours and hours!   It saves me from going store to store looking for something too, which saves gas, time and ultimately money--who doesn't want to save on all of those things these days? 

    Willow House online ordering will be great for not only our wonderful customers, but it will also be great for the consultants!  We will no longer have to wait for a party to order something!  And I can't wait to see the outlet merchandise!!!!   It all starts get ready to start clicking!!!!   You can go to  and start shopping today!!! 

    Do this....

    And you will have more time for this:

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Home Business Meets Online Shopping!!

    Susan Inge

    The perfect marriage of the Willow House home based party business meets shopping online!!! What does this mean to you?
    Easy, Easy, Easy!!!
    You will now be able to shop in the convenience of your own home for all of our beautiful products! Decorating or re-decorating your house has never been easier! You can choose from MODERN HUES, or EASY ELEGANCE or NATURAL HABITAT--what is your favorite decorating style??

                                                             Modern Hues:

      COLOR-This fresh color palette features blue and green hues accented by soft neutrals.
      TEXTURE- Shiny and matte finishes, and accents add playful interest
      STYLE- The secret to style is the delicate mixing of traditional pieces with modern accents.

                                                                 Easy Elegance:

      COLOR-Classic becomes contemporary when neutral grays and browns are accentuated with
       jewel tones like rich greens and purples
      TEXTURE-Neutral backgrounds allow for subtle texture combinations to stand out and add interest.
      STYLE-The secret to the standout style is incorporating repetition, grouping similar items together.

                                                                  Natural Habitat:

      COLOR:  Spice up your neutral casual palette with warm and rustic brown and rust tones. 
      TEXTURE:  Rustic elements can add a casual touch to more refined items.
      STYLE:  Keep your natural habitat look unified by sticking to the color palette while mixing and matching
                eclectic pieces in coordinating color hues.  This is a more casual style.

     Simple, easy design! You can combine the styles also to bring a little bit of each into your living areas!
    Willow House will still be the big home business that it always has been too! Would you like to earn extra income while sharing in the excitement of all the programs that Willow House has to offer? Click on the "contact me" button and find out how you can become a consultant and join the fun today!!! You can join with a low-investment starter kit!
    The holidays are upon us, what better time to get out there and ENJOY all that life has to offer--YOU DESERVE IT!!!
    Thank You for stopping by!!
    Hope to see you soon at a party or online shopping!!

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    101 Uses for Willow House Shop N Go Totes

    101 Uses for Shop and Go Totes!

    Check out Page 54/55 in our catalog

    1. Add a small umbrella, raincoat, hat and colorful set of galoshes to the bag to make a Rainy Day Kit for your kids. They’ll love the fun kit, and you’ll have everything corralled to make getting out the door easier.
    2. Stash yarn for knitting or crochet in the bags.
    3. Pack treats or classroom supplies in the bag so your child can deliver them and then easily store the bag in a book bag on the way home.
    4. Hang on the back of a stroller to hold your purse or other bags while you shop.
    5. Hang on the back of a chair to collect plastic bags as you unpack groceries.
    6. Store your hammock in a bag between uses.
    7. Hang the bag on a clothesline to collect clothespins between uses.
    8. Create a Pedicure Tote: Pack flip flops, nail color, your own clean utensils and a magazine for the salon.
    9. Make a cleaning kit with wipes, cleansers and microfiber cloths that are easy to transport from room to room.
    10. Use as laundry bags in a child’s room.
    11. Add Shop and Go Totes to hooks in a child’s room to store toys. Stuffed animals look especially cute peeking out the top!
    12. Package your gift in a reusable tote instead of an expensive and disposable gift bag – tie the handles together with a coordinating ribbon to make it extra special.
    13. Give yourself an extra hand toting your things from car to house.
    14. Give a tote (or three!) as a hostess gift – fold them tiny and tie a note around the outside with a pretty ribbon. We like, “Thanks for all your hard work – let me give you a hand with your errands! I find these reusable bags super handy, and I hope you will too!”
    15. Give kids a fun way to help pick up their messes – hand them a tote and watch them get to work filling it with toys!
    16. Use a bag to separate smelly clothes after a trip to the gym.
    17. Create a Chip-and-Dip Tote for a quick picnic by adding a bag of chips and sealed container of dip to your bag and heading to the park with your kids.
    18. Use as library bags – give one to each family member and let them fill ‘em up!
    19. Use a tote to keep dirty clothes separate in your suitcase.
    20. Use as beach bags.
    21. Help separate laundry – use one for whites, one for colors, one for hand-wash.
    22. Ditch the heavy luggage and pack your totes for a weekend trip.
    23. Take on a fruit-picking excursion and fill with apples or peaches.
    24. Keep one in your purse so you’re ready for emergencies.
    25. Totes take up almost no room in a suitcase, so add them in case you need more carryon space on your return trip.
    26. Use your tote to stash an emergency blanket in the car in case of engine trouble during winter.
    27. Keep a Just In Case bag full of adult and child rain gear like ponchos and umbrellas for use while traveling.
    28. Wrap a flat bag around a small gift and tie it off with a bow – the wrapping becomes a bonus gift!
    29. Store several together in your glove compartment so you never forget to bring bags while shopping.
    30. Save money at national chains like Whole Foods, Target and Publix by bringing your own bag – ask local stores if they give discounts as well.
    31. Add to a child’s book bag to tote extra books or homework that overload their main bag.
    32. Pack your child’s lunch in a tote bag.
    33. Let your cheerleader use a bag as a pompon tote.
    34. Add to mudroom hooks so every family member has a quick tote handy for last-minute needs.
    35. Use totes to sort recycling so it’s ready to carry to curb or recycling center.
    36. Carry produce home from the farmer’s market.
    37. Ramble in the woods and bring home pretty pinecones and branches for decorating.
    38. Add a bag with a flashlight and first aid kit to your teen’s car for emergencies.
    39. Tote a bottle of wine and a baguette for a quick romantic picnic.
    40. Pack a picnic in your bags – don’t forget to add a blanket!
    41. Pop tote into a diaper bag for extra storage.
    42. Add a blanket and tote in the car so it’s ready for a quick trip to the park.
    43. Create a kids’ carry-on full of toys, books and games for short (or long) trips.
    44. Use as decorative storage for plastic bags that you plan to reuse or recycle.
    45. Separate gym clothes and accessories into bags dedicated to specific sports – store your Pilates clothes separately from your running clothes.
    46. Create a Going to Grandma’s Kit by adding a blanket, pajamas and a stuffed animal to a tote.
    47. Use as a damp swimsuit bag (bag is not water-tight).
    48. On Sundays, bring a bag of flip flops so everyone can get more comfortable right after church.
    49. Give every bridesmaid a Bridesmaid’s Bag with essentials they may forget on the big day – add a magazine, lip gloss, deodorant and safety pins.
    50. Monogram each bag to make them special and personal.
    51. These totes make perfect stocking stuffers – save space by folding them up and snapping together, or take up space by unrolling each bag and stuffing it in like tissue paper.
    52. Prepare for the worst – add bottled water, flashlights, a radio and extra batteries and hang in your basement as a storm kit.
    53. Babysitters, create a “Kid Kit” and bring the bag filled with coloring books, Play Dough and other fun toys.
    54. Create extra storage in a dorm room by hanging bags from hooks on the walls.
    55. Parents, fill a tote with items your child will enjoy playing with at Grandma’s house so they’re not bored (and therefore unruly) during visits.
    56. Give a set of totes to a teacher as an appreciation gift.
    57. Distribute favors at birthday parties in a tote for each child – they’ll be easy to bring home and parents will love you!
    58. Pack a tote for your child with a pillow, games, pajamas and a favorite stuffed animal for sleepovers.
    59. Use as a Shoe Bag to protect your clothes in a suitcase.
    60. Sit on one at a picnic or sporting event to protect your clothes.
    61. Deconstruct the bag and sew back together as a child’s art smock.
    62. Use as a carryall for paint supplies – fits pans, brushes and stir sticks.
    63. Fill with diapers and burp cloths and give as a baby gift.
    64. Fill with fun snacks and give as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.
    65. Pop in a blanket and water bottle and tote to an outdoor festival.
    66. Keep sports uniforms and supplies together so they’re easier to grab at practice time.
    67. Make kids Afterschool Kits with their favorite game, books, a movie and a special treat.
    68. Use your bag as an office tote to transport files, clipboards, notebooks and other office supplies.
    69. Design Consultants, carry your Willow House Starter Kit items to and from your party in the totes.
    70. Design Consultants, use bags to deliver Willow House products to customers.
    71. Sort magazines into To Read and To Recycle bags.
    72. Use a tote by the door as a catchall for incoming mail.
    73. Pack your child’s items for daycare.
    74. Use as an umbrella bag to prevent drips in your purse (totes are not watertight).
    75. Hang a tote from a bedpost or doorknob to create impromptu extra space.
    76. When knitting or crocheting at a coffee shop, hang bag from chair, put yarn skein inside bag, and feed yarn out through handles to keep your yarn clean of debris when knitting outside the home.
    77. Use as a Lesson Bag for your kids – add karate clothes, Girl Scout uniform, swimsuit and towel, etc.
    78. Keep yoga supplies together – corral towel, water bottle, mat or extra towel in the tote.
    79. Caddy cables and extra cords from rarely used chargers and electronics in the bag.
    80. Bring to a stadium game, concert or circus so you can easily carry home souvenirs.
    81. Give to college students as a way to carry books to class.
    82. Take on a trip to Washington, D.C., where you have to pay extra for any bags you use.
    83. Use a tote to bring your vegetable harvest in from your backyard garden.
    84. Carry boxes of donuts to work and give to coworkers.
    85. Add to a care package as a useful surprise.
    86. Create an extra “glove compartment” complete with maps, insurance information and a first aid kit.
    87. Give each child an individual bag with a trip journal, markers and a disposable camera so they can record family memories in a personal way.
    88. Use as laundry bags for individual rooms – collect towels in the kitchen and washcloths in the bath
    89. Caddy foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper by adding them to the tote and hanging from a pantry door.
    90. Use as a towel tote at the beach – pack several towels in one bag.
    91. Keep by the sewing machine to collect fabric scraps.
    92. Corral several bags of fast food when bringing food home to the family.
    93. Add a bag to the pocket of your jacket or large winter coat. When you get warmer later in the afternoon or while shopping, stash your jacket in the bag so it’s easy to carry.
    94. Corral Wii supplies or Rock Band equipment in the totes.
    95. Keep a tote in your purse to carry home all the family’s “doggie bags” after family dinner at a restaurant.
    96. Pack a change of clothes in your tote for a quick change before after-work activities.
    97. Store potatoes in your cool, dark pantry by adding them to a tote and hanging from a sturdy hook.
    98. Practice living the good life like French people do – carry a baguette, newspaper and fresh vegetables home from the market.
    99. Reinforce plastic bags on rainy days to prevent accidents from broken handles or soggy bags.
    100. Store toilet paper in the bathroom.
    101. Finally, pack your totes for their primary use – shopping! Grab Shop and Go Totes to make each shopping trip a little more fun!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    The Flux Capacitor!

    It is hard to believe that it is the 25th anniversary of the movie Back to the Future!   That was such a weird, yet successful movie at the popular it yeilded 2 sequels.   I think just the concept of being able to travel back in time and hang out with your parents when they were your age, or time travel at all, was mindblowing and awesome at the same time.  Not to mention the way cool Delorian that looked sooo futuristic at the time, it blew us away with the flapping doors and metallic body color!   I always thought Michael J. Fox was a cutie too.  Amazing that he hasn't aged much since that movie!   He still looks the same now as he did back then!!!

    It got me thinking, if my younger self met my older self today would I think I was cool?   Probably not.  I didn't think many people in their 40s were cool when I was a teenager.  They were all in the category of my parents.  OLD.   There were adults that I thought were slightly hipper than my parents but still not on the level of cool.  I wonder what would happen if my younger self and my older self sat down for lunch or for a few drinks...what kind of conversation would we have?   Sometimes I think I was more sure of myself when I was younger.  I felt passion for causes, I stood up for things I believed in, I rebelled against my parents when I was sure I was right about something.  I defended people they didn't trust or like.  I threw fits and flew off the handle when I felt like things were too much to handle.  I cried a lot more.  I was extremely emotional, and loyal to my friends.  I was territorial over things I loved.    As an adult, some of that fire in me has fizzled, because society doesn't look kindly on a 42 year old woman freaking out and having emotional outbursts over things she believes in.   It isn't as easy to be as passionate about things you believe in without all kinds of people who don't agree with what you say judging you for those thoughts.  You also have to consider your spouse and your children when you make comments, you no longer can make statements based totally on you anymore.  So you tend to hide feelings and thoughts to remain politically correct or even sane for that matter!   You can no longer advertise with as much freedom your beliefs as you used to as a younger person.  

    I also wonder what I would think of the younger me if I were to meet my younger self now as an adult.   Would I hire me to babysit my kids?   Would I laugh at the things that I believe in and brush me off as a silly kid who has miles to go before really understanding the ways of the world?   Or would I be envious of all those years ahead to make new choices, take new roads, create my future?   What kind of advice would I want to give me?   Would I want to try to keep myself from making all the mistakes I made, or would I let me make them because without them I wouldn't have learned the life lessons I have learned?   It all comes down to living with regrets or not living with regrets.  It is an interesting thing to think about, that is for sure!!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010


    Willow House has extended the double hostess credits for September after such a successful month in August!   My mother-in-law had a party and she earned almost $200 in free products and got to pick one item at 70% off and 2 products at 50% off!   She ended up with so much credit that she bought my sister-in-law and I each birthday and Christmas presents!   I can't wait to see what September brings...I really need to book 4 parties this month, so luckily with a little free time on my hands now that my kids are back in school, hopefully I can accomplish this goal!   I am going to have to step out of my comfort zone and see if I can get more customers outside of my circle of friends!   I think I have tapped them out!  LOL...I need to host my own party this month so I can take advantage of the double hostess credits myself!   There are so many t

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    A Diamond in the Rough

    While lying awake in bed last night (I am a severe insomniac) I was thinking of all the things I really love.  Other than the obvious being my friends and family, I was thinking of things that make me happy and what I want to do when I finally grow up!   I was trying to figure out if selling Willow House was a good fit for me.  I have never really been good in sales.  I am a more behind-the-scenes kind of gal.  For instance,  I love diamonds (what girl doesn't??), but I really love diamonds under a microscope, looking at the essence of the diamond, the color of it, the inclusions (imperfections), the qualities that make that diamond what it is.  I also love colored stones--there are so many interesting stones out there besides the run of the mill rubies, sapphires and emeralds.  Stones in all colors of the rainbow interest me. The deep navy blue of a London Blue topaz, the many shades of purple of a tanzanite, the uniqueness of a tri-colored tourmaline... And I love estate jewelry, old pieces created for someone long ago, those that surely have a wonderful, romantic or sentimental story behind them.  The mass marketed jewelry in the mall stores don't really interest me, even though some of it is beautiful.  It doesn't evoke any feelings in me, or make my heart go pitty-pat.   When I lived in Hawaii just out of college I worked in an upscale jewelry store.  Little did I know how much that little store would change the way I looked at jewelry and the enormous amounts of knowledge I would take away with me from working there.  I could have cared less about my commission, or if I sold anything, but boy did I care about the new parcel of loose stones we got in that day!   I couldn't wait to get my hands on them, or my tweezers on them, and check them out, magnify them, look at them under different kinds of light, and see how much fire they had!  That was what took my breath away!  Needless to say I never earned much money working there, but I earned-big time!-an education on diamonds that would rivial the Gemological Institute of America!   You see, the owner, Michael, had such passion for what he did, for what his product was, for a making sure he only sold the top quality stones, and for educating his employees (actually mentoring his employees to LOVE gemstones) so we knew all the ins and outs of what we were selling to the public.  He wanted his customers to buy something they would be proud of for generations to come.   After leaving Hawaii and my job at that store, I never found anyone or any place jewelry-wise that could compare to Michael and his gems.  I tried to work at a store when I moved to FL and to me the passion wasn't there.  It was boring, run of the mill stuff that wasn't special, and that job never held the same interest for me.   I worked in the inventory dept to get away from the sales part of it, thinking I would get back to that same excitement I used to feel when new items would come in, but it wasn't the same.  I think it was because my boss didn't really care if a beautiful piece came in.  If I tried to show him the beauty of something, he would brush me away and ask if I priced it high enough.  He only cared about the money that went into his pocket.  He didn't care about the happiness of his employees or his customers, all he cared about was his profit margins.  I must say it was night and day for me.   I realized that if you don't care about what you are selling and you don't care about your customers, there is no way it can fill you up with any kind of satisfaction or excitement!   Then I thought about Willow House, and how much I love their products and I thought, it would be the right fit for me if I can draw up that passion I have for the other things that I love (decorating and home decor)  and pass that along to my customers then it would be the right job for me.  I need to stop thinking of it as just being a sales job, and more of what I am bringing to the customers homes and to their lives.  To help them surround themselves with things they love and a home that can bring them joy and peace when they are in their home.   Ok, so that is now my focus and my goal!   Lets see if I can do well at it!

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    I Dreamed a Dream

    Fall has always been my favorite season.  Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Fall was such a beautiful time of the year color-wise and weather-wise.   The oppressive heat and humidity of summer started to give way to the crisp evenings and cooler days.   The days would start getting shorter, the leaves would change into gorgeous hues of red, orange and yellows.   We had lush woods behind our house that would turn, and our birdfeeders were flocked by bright red cardinals.  It was a time of change: new school year, new teachers, pep rallys, and the excitement of all the new school activities ahead.   I can still hear the marching band and cheers at the Friday evening football games.   Shorts and T-shirts were put away for jackets, jeans and soft,warm sweatshirts.  Everything was familiar, safe and comforting.  The song "I Dreamed a Dream" reminds me of how I felt back then..

    I dreamed a dream in time gone by

    When hope was high

    And life worth living

    I dreamed that love would never die

    I dreamed that God would be forgiving

    Then I was young and unafraid

    And dreams were made and used and wasted

    There was no ransom to be paid

    No song unsung, no wine untasted...

     Fall also meant the holidays were all around the corner, the excitment of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were near!  When my mother would be getting decorations out, we would be planning parties, getting together with friends.  I always knew that fun family times were ahead, the love of friends and those near and dear gathering for good food and good fun.

    Alot of those warm fuzzy feelings of fall changed for me in August 1989 when I was 20 years old.   That was the Fall I went away to college for RUSH week for our sorority.  I was beginning my junior year, full of unbridled enthusiasm, happy to be back with my friends on the beautiful Butler University campus, ready for parties and dances.  I was only back a few days when I got the phone call that my mom was in the hospital and I needed to come back home.  It was serious this time.   She had been ill for a few years but I had no idea she was ill enough to go down that road we were about to travel.  A few of my best friends drove me back home, a 4 hour trip, sweet enough to know I shouldn't drive and be alone.  That was the weekend the rug was forever pulled out from under life as I knew it would be changed and no longer the same.   My mom passed away that weekend, as I was by her side...her life just slowly leaving her body as I sat there.  All of a sudden I went from being her child, still a kid, to having to be a grown up.  Suddenly I was alone, I had my father and brother but we were all grieving our own private loss and we couldn't understand what the other was going thru.  We lived our own hell.  I went back to school, and struggled the rest of that fall...the holidays came and went with little meaning.  There was no joy that Fall. 

    That was over 20 years ago, but the Fall always brings those days back to the front burner of my mind.  Even though Fall is still my favorite season, I have had to overcome what I used to think of Fall and change it to something different.  I moved to a state where Fall barely exists for one thing, not on purpose, but strange how that has turned out!   Then in the Fall of 2003 I received one of life's most beautiful gifts, my first son Evan was born the same week my mom died all those years ago.  A new beginning for me!   A new reason to celebrate the Fall and embrace it.  A new reason to feel excitement and joy at the season before us!  I have begun embracing Fall again, welcoming it again and found the precious gifts I used to when I was younger in the season again.   Life has a way of coming full circle.  I don't believe in coincidences.  So this year I look forward to the Fall, the newness of a new school year, new teachers, new school, new experiences and new memories with my family and friends.  And this year, I WELCOME it!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    The UPS and DOWNS

    We had a plaque hanging up in my house when I was growing up that said "Blessed are those that expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed".    I read that thing every single time I walked by it, but I don't think those words every were absorbed into my brain.   I think I looked more at the cute puppy on the plaque than at the words.  Because I still expect everything, and tend to be disappointed a lot.   I kind of wish I would just live my life by those words tho.  I do believe them.   But believing and really leading your life by something can be two totally different things!  By the same token, our parents told us to REACH FOR THE STARS!   And YOU CAN BE ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO!   Why you can be president someday!   Really?   Me?  Doubtful-- with all the skeletons I have in my closet!  :)    So isn't that kind of the opposite of the plaque?   DON'T expect nothing,  EXPECT EVERYTHING!    Which is it?  Be blessed and not disappointed, or believe that you will get everything you want and then be extremely disappointed when life doesn't always give you lemonade?

    I think it must be a happy medium between the two.   Try hard and you just might get what you want.   But you have to try, and not just give up and say "What the heck, I figured it wouldn't turn out alright anyway."   Having your own business can be tough.  It is tempting to just throw in the towel when you get frustrated.   When you try and try and nothing happens.   Doors are slammed in your face, sometimes literally!    How do you continually dust yourself off and get right back out there in the game?

    When I was in the real estate business I learned to accept downs as well as ups just being a part of the business.  So many deals would go sour that you really could NEVER count your chickens before they were hatched--or bought a BMW because you had a big commission check coming at the end of the month when that house finally closed!   One false move and BAM!   The deal is over, done, kaput...and your BMW is sitting there shining in your driveway but you can't afford the gas to put in it.   Real Estate was full of heartache.  But it taught me to concentrate on the positive things, and to keep moving on, even when you felt like giving up.   Move ahead, try again, keep going.   Try a different bank, a different house, a different appraiser.   Don't stop marching.  Keep on truckin'!!   And that is what I have to do!!!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Keeping it SIMPLE

    I am kind of a wing-it kind of gal..have trouble planning things out too well ahead of time, and kind of like flying by the seat of my pants!   Funny that I should give birth to a child who is the complete opposite, and couldn't be more "by the book" if he lived in a library.   You can imagine the clashes that go on between us on a daily basis:  Me: "It's ok, just erase it or squeeze the word in above it"...Him: "I caaaaaaaan't!   Then it won't look right!!!!"   or Me: "We have to leave in a few minutes"...Him "When?"   Me: "I don't know, around 9am"  Him"  Ok, its 9:00 am right now, lets go (backpack on already)  Me: "Ok, I have to run upstairs, change, go to the bathroom, get your brother dressed, let the dog out..."  Him" BUT you said we would leave at 9:00, it is 9:00 now, if we don't go RIGHT NOW we will be late!!!"   I don't know where this child's worry of being late ever came from, as I am SO not worried about being late, I mean I try not to be late, but if I am a few minutes late I don't worry about it.   I don't think the sky is going to come tumbling down.   I think some day he is going to have an ulcer from all his worrying about being late!   Not me, tho, I am laid-back, casual Sue...

    Which is why when I read "Keep it Simple" for party presentations, I thought "That is totally up my alley, if anyone can do simple it is me!"   This month with the really great hostess rewards, 2 of my family and friends have asked to host a party for me.   They both get to choose what they want out of the catalog and get 70% off an item or more--depending on how much $$ they generate in sales at their party!   And they get double the hostess Dollars which is free product based on their party sales too!   So it is a GREAT time for them to want to host a party and show all of their friends the fabulous new Willow House products!   Since I joined, I have only hosted my own parties, I haven't been "the consultant" and someone else "the host".   So I am kind of nervous to do these parties for the first time.  I have to be the expert!  But not really, because the products will sell themselves.  So I am keeping busy writing out some cheat sheets for my product info, and a few ideas on how to get the party invitees excited and just to HAVE FUN!

    Being a host is really easy, because all you have to do is have something SWEET, something SALTY and something to don't have to spend a ton of money on an elaborate spread of food for the guests.  After all, we want the people to spend more time looking at the catalogs and discussing their own design ideas for the products and just enjoying the company of the other women at the party!   The simplier, the better!   The object, after all, is to MAKE money, not spend a ton of money on your party!   The easier your party looks, the more likely someone in the crowd is gonna think, Wow, I can do this too!  

    So hopefully my wing-it-ness will get me thru and we will have some great parties in the next few weeks!!

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    SAHM starting new adventure!!

    I am a stay at home mom of 2 boys-one in 2nd grade, and one in preschool, and live in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.  I recently signed up to become a Design Consultant for a great company called Willow House (formerly Southern Living at Home).  Well, here at Willow House- we have gone through a transformation- we have a wonderful new company that not only has a new coat of paint, but has a new way of doing business that will set us apart in direct sales. I mention this to you, because if you or someone you know is wanting something more in your life- whether you want to decorate your home at a discount, you want to earn extra income to support your family budget or you want to build a flexible home based business - you truly can transform your life with Willow House.

    I have never been more excited than I am right now about our business! Our new business model combines 3 businesses into one. We take what is great about our parties, combine that with a rich social media community and ecommerce business that is going to give us explosive growth!

    In addition to sharing our products and ideas at parties, we’ve recently become able to sell online so guests can shop between parties. And we’re not finished innovating — late this year, we will launch a new media-rich community. And, early next year, we’ll reveal a whole new way to shop online with an expanding collection of enhanced eBoutiques.

    So stay posted and I will offer design ideas, exciting information about Willow House and some details of my life trying to juggle starting up a new business and being the CEO of my very hectic household!!