Monthly Archives: January 2011

January 31, 2011

Karla's Korner: Soup

I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy! AMEE

Sitting alone in my kitchen with a fresh bowl of homemade vegetable soup and a handful of buttered saltine crackers, my eyes filled with tears. Now, there were onions and black pepper in my soup, but that was not the reason for the tears. It was the memories that flooded my mind as I sat there enjoying the fruits of my labor, or in this case, the vegetables of my labor.
As far back as I can remember, one of my most favorite meals was homemade soup. My momma would drag out the pressure cooker fill it with water and plop in a bunch of soup bones and the process would begin. Back in “the day” pressure cookers were not digital with timers like the ones available today. My mommas pressure cooker was that beautiful golden color of that era and the lid on it must have weighed at least ten pounds. Sitting a top of that big ol’ lid was a little jiggly thing that bobbled back and forth as the pressure inside the pot increased. After the meat was cooked she would carefully adjust it to allow the steam from the inside of the cooker release slowly. If it didn’t release slowly she would have a big mess to clean up. And once in a while she would have a mess to clean up. Once the meat was cooked, she would add lots of vegetables and let the soupy concoction simmer on the stove for the rest of the day. The result was a wonderful soup that would fill us up on a cold winter’s day.
Sitting there eating my soup and crackers my mind not only drifted back to my own mom, but to my grandparents. My Grandma and Pap were two of the most wonderful people I have ever known. They were hard working, honest people who never asked for anything and worked hard for everything they had. My Pap worked at a local car dealership detailing cars and Grandma worked in a blue jeans factory as an inspector. While they loved me more than I could ever put into words, they never spoiled me (or the other eight grandchildren). It wasn’t their way. And as an adult, I am so thankful they did not lavish us with gifts and material things. When I was nine years old, my grandparents purchased their very first home. That was 1976. They purchased a dining room table, chairs, china hutch and china for their new home. I remember going to see their purchase and hearing my grandma say to me “Karla Anne, when I am dead this is yours”. Now I was nine and the thought of my grandma leaving this earth would have never crossed my mind. However, she was a realist and she wanted to make sure that I knew that her treasured furniture would someday be mine and that everyone knew it. I am sitting at her dining table as I write this.
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January 30, 2011

Ask A Blogger: How do you build an Audience?

Ask A Blogger

Okay, so you have a blog.  You have a button and the code to post so others can promote you.  How do you get people to your site now that you have decorated it with great screen shots?  You head to your newly created Twitter page and think of something good to say.  Except, you only have two followers and your mom has no idea how to log into the twitter account you created for her and the other follower doesn’t speak the same language.

The key is to think of something others want to hear or learn about. You need to define who you are and what your audience is looking to gain from coming to your site. You have to come up with a plan for engaging your audience. The best thing you can do is be true to yourself.

It is very difficult to put yourself out there and have opinions. A blog is not for the faint of heart. I have received ugly comments among the positive comments. The point I always remember is there is more good than bad and if we can help one person make a difference in their life, then we have done our job.

I have really learned a lot about social media in the last couple of months and have put forth a tremendous amount of effort to build my audience.  It is something I am devoting an hour or more to each day.

Here are the top 3 ways I have built my audience:

1) Get a Twitter account, Facebook account, and Google Friend Connect account.  These are the most common social media channels to follow and be followed.  Add plugins to your site to feed your blog directly to these sites. I encourage you to do more then send your site to these media options.  Engage your readers/ followers by sharing more than just the latest deal.

Madame Deals-



When you gain a new follower, respond to their comments. It is important to build relationships.  After all, you are engaging in “social” media.

2) Participate in blog hops. I do one Facebook hop, one Twitter hop, one Stumble hop, and a random hop each week. Here is a list of hops to attend. You can add yours if I am missing it.

3) Design a contest that your readers will enjoy. Madame Deals is the home of  We Love Coupons But We Hate Cutting Them Contest and the We Got It and You Want It Contest where we gather all the items we got for free and add them to the contest daily.

4) Link up your contest to other sites. You can steer their traffic to your site and hopefully you have the content to keep the new visitors interested. I put together a list of giveaways here. This is a super way to gain exposure.

January 29, 2011

Ask A Blogger: How do you get your contest noticed

I have ten tips to get your event the recognition it deserves. If you want to receive prizes from companies then you have to know how to promote them. I only take products to review and giveaway that I believe my fan base will find interesting. If you take on to many items it will backfire one you. You can’t focus on your contest if you have to many unless you have a strategy or if that is the focus of your site.

1) Promote it prior to starting the contest. Get your fans excited.

2) Make sure you have a nice image of the prize a picture is worth a thousand words or several votes in this case.

3) Trade contest shout out with other sites and bloggers.

4) Create easy to use entry form. I love google docs or rafflecopters.

5) Create easy to enter contests. You need to keep it simple or you will NOT have people that enter. I use the same rules for most of my contest so my readers know what to do.

6) Link up your contests to other giveaway link ups. I have nice list here Madame Deals Giveaway Page.

7) Create a contest page on your site and direct all your traffic there. This will encourage your fans to enter multiple contests. Madame Deals contest page is a great example for you to follow.

8) Place your giveaways in a widget or a slider on your page to encourage people to enter.

9) Use your contest to drive traffic to your other contest. I always give extra entries for entering my other contests. I always make sure to say what I am giving away. You need to be specific and use words that encourage people to want that prize.

10) I use my social media to spread the word. I plan my event around high traffic times and I send out tweets and facebook posts. If it is a product I reviewed I post the image on pinterest and then link the review post to my contest. Ask your fans to share your contests and increase your reach quickly.



January 26, 2011

Asian Chicken Soup

Asian Chicken Soup

Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Servings: Yield Serves 4 | Difficulty: Easy

3 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
1 garlic clove, slivered
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
4 ounces soba noodles or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), cut into bite-size strips
1 cup snow peas, sliced 1/2 inch on the diagonal
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse salt

In a large saucepan, bring broth, ginger, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles, lower heat, and simmer until noodles are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add chicken, bell pepper, and snow peas; cook until chicken is opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Add lime juice, scallions, and salt to taste. Serve.


In our top pick for lightest chicken dish, there’s no fat needed: Chicken poaches in broth with ginger, garlic, pepper flakes, veggies, and soba noodles.

Source: Martha Stewart

January 24, 2011

Karla's Korner

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Lessons learned from a little boy…

As I sit down to write this I am sitting in a classroom with ten of the most beautiful children all nestled in their blankies sleeping soundly. The shades are down and there is sweet music playing to the crashing of ocean waves in the background. Ahh, this is the good life. When I tell people that I am a preschool teacher and that I teach ten three year old children every day I receive all kinds of comments. Most of those comments have to do with the fact that I must be a bit “off my rocker” to want to have such a job. Maybe I am, but if I am, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Every year in August, I open my classroom door to a brand new group of three year olds. Some of those students have never been in a classroom. Some have never been away from mommy and daddy. Some may be only children and have not really played or associated with other children on a regular basis. Some have older siblings or brand new babies in the house. Every year I meet and greet anywhere between 15 and 20 brand new faces and welcome them into my life. And every year, I am blessed beyond words.
January 19, 2011

Working Mom What's for Dinner: Potato Bar

I try every week to add a new meal to our menu. The best part of my quest is I use items that I bought on sale so these meals are yummy and affordable… and oh, yes they can be completed in 30 minutes or less!


The bake potato bar:

I bought a huge bag of potatoes for $1.. So I decided to make a potato bar.

Here are my sides:



Sour Cream





I just bake the potatoes and the kids fill them to eat them up.