Recipe: Mango Salsa

Yes, you can buy this stuff in the store... but honestly... why!?! You can make it at home and know that there are no artificial anythings in it. You could even go completely organic if you want! BUT, the best part is being able to brag... "Yah, I made this!" Okay, not really the best part, but it's definitely something to take a little pride in for sure!


 It's sweet, it's spicy, it's healthy, and it's delicious. Need I say more?!?! 

• 1 Mango (be sure it's a nice ripe one -- red and yellow and orange in color -- slightly tender to the touch, like a peach) 
• 1 red onion
•  frozen corn
• 1 medium jalapeno
• cilantro
• a couple ripe tomatoes (depends on how tomato-y you like your salsa)

1. Peel and dice your mango. This can be a little tricky if you've never done it before. After peeling mine I sliced it up like an apple avoiding the core of the mango. It has really tough fibers running through most of the center... you don't want those in your salsa.

2. Dice enough red onion to make about 1/4 of a cup. Like with all of the ingredients if you like more or less of something in your salsa you can adjust the measurements.

3. Add 1/2 cup of frozen corn. It keeps the salsa nice and cool if you are eating it right away. You could also roast some corn and add that instead of frozen... yummy!

4. Dice your tomatoes. I like to slice mine then remove the seeds, then dice it. I am NOT a fan of seeds in my salsa.

5. Add 1/2 tsp of cilantro. You can use fresh, or freeze dried. I personally used the freeze dried. It is easy to store, easy to measure out and use, and we don't go through enough cilantro to buy the bunch from the grocery store.

6. Dice your jalapeno. I can't stress this enough, but ALWAYS WEAR FOOD SAFE GLOVES WHEN CUTTING A JALAPENO. I learned my lesson. Once was all it took. Several years ago I sliced a jalapeno ungloved (not a word, I know), washed my hands thoroughly, and later in the day rubbed my eye. Ya... it wasn't fun! So, from now on I wear gloves and I always slice it last!

7. Mix everything up and enjoy. I find that it tastes even better after being in the fridge overnight. All of the flavors marry together and it is sheer perfection.

My 6 year old (who doesn't like salsa) loved this because it is sweet.... but sneaky me... still has all the regular salsa players in it. So, stock up on some tortilla chips, and invite some friends over!!

Etsy Seller Series: Shipping Supplies and Postage

Today in my Etsy Seller Series I am going to share all about shipping information.
I have had my Etsy shop since February 2012 and believe me when I say that I have learned a lot in that time!!

Shipping Supplies

One of the best investments you can make in starting your small business (or hopefully a big business) -- in my opinion -- is in shipping supplies. You spend a little extra money buying in bulk quantities and you end up saving TONS of money down the road!

When I first started out in my little shop I was using shipping supplies that I had purchased from Target, Wal-Mart, or Staples. As my sales increased I realized that while convenient… it wasn’t really cost effective. I was paying almost the same price for my shipping supplies that I was for the actual postage to ship my items. Ya… seriously!!

 I finally learned the ins and outs of the Post Office {which I will share a little later} and wised up to better shipping supply options. My all time favorite place to purchase shipping supplies is U-Line. You will pay a little more for shipping, but your order gets delivered usually the next day, and you get a lot of BANG for you BUCK!

 I purchase most of my packaging supplies from U-Line. The packing tape is a great deal, but I only purchased the refills from them here. You can buy the actual tape dispenser as well, but I simply used one that I had bought from Target. The rolls were the same size {be sure to measure yours} so I did not need to purchase another one. 

Another great thing to buy from U-Line is poly bags. There are a bazillion different kinds {zip-top, gusseted, writable, self-sealing, etc} so you are sure to find what you are looking for. If you are selling supplies or items that need to be bagged it's a great source. I highly recommend using poly bags for two reasons
     1. It helps to protect your items in shipping in case your envelope or box were to get wet or damaged.
     2. It just looks nice and professional!

 As far as supplies to ship your items in you have several options. Here are the ones that I use most often.
     • Tear Proof Mailers: These come is varied sizes so be sure to take into account the size of items that you are most likely to be shipping. I generally choose envelopes that are slightly larger than my items and sometimes longer. Then they can accommodate a better range of products and you can always fold down the envelope as you seal for a more snug fit.
Flat Rate USPS Shipping Envelopes/Boxes: If you are shipping small things that tend to weigh a lot… these are absolutely the way to go! They come in different sizes and have different postage amounts. The ones most commonly used are the small flat rate envelopes and boxes. They are $5.25 to ship and you can fill them with as much as you can. They cannot weight more than 4 lbs if you ship them internationally. You can also order them for free on the USPS website and your mail carrier will deliver them to you free of charge. I tend to order 50-100 at a time. It can take a couple of weeks for them to arrive so be sure to plan accordingly. **The regular (letter size) flat rate envelopes are available at your local Post Office as well. However, if you are looking for the larger (legal size) flat rate envelopes they are available ONLY through the USPS website.  


When it comes to postage here is what you really need to know: 

 • Anything 13oz or under can ship USPS first class. This includes small packages (no larger than 13” on         one side), envelopes, bubble mailers, etc.. 

 • Anything over 13 oz has to be shipped Priority Mail. 

 • All flat rate envelopes are Priority Mail. 

 • The only way to guarantee delivery by a specific date is to ship via Priority Mail because it is guaranteed to arrive in 2-3 business days in the US. 

• Priority Mail come with a tracking number. 

 • First class mail CANNOT be tracked. You can purchase a delivery confirmation number, but that only tells you when it has been delivered, not where it is along the route. 

• Any packages shipping internationally HAVE TO be shipped with a customs form. If you mail a regular envelope you can ship it without a customs form. 

• International pricing changes a lot. If you are going to be shipping a lot internationally you are best off going to your local Post Office to find out what the current limitations are.

Once you have your products packaged you can address them and head out to the Post Office …. OR … you can print your own postage from home. Amazing, right? You used to only be able to print postage on the USPS website… and even then you COULD NOT print shipping for packages being sent via first class. Then you could print shipping directly from Paypal. That was great, except for the customers that didn’t purchase with Paypal.

 The great thing about selling on Etsy is that they now offer the option of printing your postage directly from them. What does that mean? Well, for starters you get a slightly better shipping rate. All packages also come with free tracking numbers. The postage cost is added to your Etsy bill making it easy to keep track of shipping costs. You can view the tracking numbers, order numbers, and the cost of shipping all in one place and easily click on the receipt number to view the order. Talk about easy, peasy!!

 If you choose to print your own postage you need to invest in a postage scale. I used rewards money from Staples {that I got for recycling ink cartridges} to purchase mine a couple years ago. I don’t need anything fancy. My scale only weighs up to 5 lbs which is plenty for me.

If you plan on shipping heavy items be sure to invest in a scale that will meet your needs.

Depending on the volume of orders you are shipping you can also purchase a postage label printer. Etsy has hooked up with DYMO to offer a printer at a discounted rate. BUT, you have to purchase the refill label paper rolls, and to me that's just an added expense. Instead, I opt to print them at home using my regular printer and simply cut them out and tape them on my packages. It's easy, cheap, and I don't have to find space in my office for the label printer.

PLUS, you can go to the USPS website and schedule a pick up at your house by your mail carrier. Really. You click on a couple things, choose a date for your packages to be picked up, and as long as you have at least one Priority Mail item you can have your mail carrier pick it up at your door, at your mailbox, on your porch, or directly from you. When you request the pick up, the website give you pick up options to choose from. It is so easy! There is no need to even go to the Post Office! For me, with three little ones at home, that's a definite bonus!!

As I have said in previous posts from this series, presentation IS everything. You want to make your customers feel special. That's what keeps them coming back. Packaging is one piece of that puzzle. Once a customer places their order you are responsible for filling that order on time, and in a fashion that they will feel like it's Christmas when they receive your package in the mail. You know how it is... you've probably received packages that made you feel all warm and fuzzy and those that just didn't. Which place are you more likely to give repeat business to, or to recommend to your friends!?!

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about shipping supplies or postage. I'm not an expert, but I am definitely here to help!

* * * * * * * * 

Check out the other posts from this series: 
Etsy Seller Series: Getting Started 
Etsy Seller Series: Setting Up Shop Part 1 (Your Public Profile) 
Etsy Seller Series: Setting Up Shop Part 2 (Info and Appearance)
Etsy Seller Series: Payment Options

Etsy Seller Series: Payment Options

If you have been following along with this series you have already seen the previous posts on:

Today I am talking about your payment options. 

It has become so easy to shop on Etsy now that it is no wonder it has become so popular!! As far as checkout payment options go you can choose to accept any or all of the following: paypal, credit card, check, money order, or other. 

These options are pretty straight forward. If you choose to accept paypal {which you should absolutley do BTW} be sure to enter your paypal email address so you can receive payment. 

Etsy started offering credit cards (direct checkout) as a payment option several months ago. I was able to take part in a trial service they offered to "test" out the new credit card option. Now that they have it fully implemented I LOVE it. I would say more than half of the orders I receive are paid with a credit card. Once you select the box to accept credit card payments you will be prompted to link a bank account to Etsy. If you aren't automatically directed to do so, click on "Shop Payment Account" on the left side of your screen:

From there you can manage and view the deposits to your account as well as the outstanding balance you have to be deposited. When you first start using direct checkout (accepting credit cards) there is a waiting period of about a week for your funds to be deposited. Once your account has been verified, your deposits will become available next business day. 

Deposits are made on Mondays, but you can request an earlier deposit by visiting this page and clicking on the "schedule earlier deposit" button. Then you funds will automatically be deposited the same business day for today only. All new funds will be deposited on Monday. You can continue daily to request an earlier deposit if you need to, or you can just let your funds be automatically deposited on Monday. That is your personal preference. In order to have an earlier deposit just be sure to change the schedule date. 

When using Paypal, your funds are deposited with each transaction making it available right away. 

Both Paypal and Direct Checkout have fees associated with using them... nothing is free, right!?! The direct checkout screen (found under Shop Payment Account) shows a breakdown of the fees you are charged for each transaction. With Paypal you have to do some hunting to find those fees... 

Using personal check or money order is also a payment option. I actually do not accept this form of payment, but that is just my preference. If you are looking to avoid any kind of fees associated with payment these are the way to go. The downside? You have to wait for a while to receive the payment. It is all dependent on how quickly your customer gets it in the mail to you. It is definitely a viable option. You will need to weigh the pros and cons for your personal business. 

I hope that helps!!! Let me know if you have any questions about setting up the payment options for your shop! I am always happy to help!! 

Summer Series: Creating a Plant Journal

My oldest only has 3 days left of school and I have been trying to come up with some ideas to keep my three little ones busy this summer!! Seriously... they are hard enough to keep entertained and happy during the school year when they are gone half the day.... how are we supposed to do it when they are home all day?!?!? I'm mostly kidding... but you know what I mean, right? 

One idea I haven't completely finished formulating yet is to have a theme day each day of the week. 

For example:
Monday - Reading Day:
Go to the library and read some new stories. Create our own story books.
Tuesday - Water Day:
Play outside water games or visit the local park with a splash pad.
Wednesday - Math Day:
Play math games and do puzzles. Try new recipes (measuring everything of course).
Thursday - Science Day:
 Do fun science experiments, learn about animals, take a road trip to the zoo, go bird or bug watching, etc.
Friday - Fun Day:
(not that the others aren't fun!!) A day for play dates, video games, amusement parks, etc.
{Somewhere in there I have to fit in all the dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, cooking, and everything else... hahaha!}

During the summer I will be posting some of the fun themed activities that we are doing so you can join in the fun too!!! I'm calling it my Summer Series -- though technically you could do these things anytime!

As part of my brainstorming I came up with this fun plant journal. Each week on our science day we are going to check on some daisy seeds that we have planted in germinating boxes. Right now they sit in the playroom. 

Here is what the journal page looks like: 

I planted the seeds this morning in germination boxes (purchased at Target). We will begin the journal today by taping one of the extra seeds (or maybe a couple) inside the box on the journal paper. Then each week on science day we will check on our seeds. My 6 year old can draw a picture and write a sentence or two about how it looks. 

My 4 year old gets a different page to use for his journal. A bigger box for a picture and only two lines where he can write a word (or a couple) to describe what he sees. 

This is a great way to keep the kids in learning mode. They can practice handwriting, spelling, patience, and have fun with the coloring. It also encourages vocabulary development as they compose sentences. We can also study the stages of plants as they grow and talk about the different parts of the plant as it emerges from the soil. The littler kids can work on writing their numbers as they write the week number on the top of the page. 

I also created a simple cover for their journals. They can choose to decorate their cover or leave it as is.

Our journal will be complete the week our plants get planted in the yard. I figure it will last through most of the summer. Then the kids will have a fun book that they have created all about the plants they watched grow. Now I just have to hope my seeds work. I am NOT known to have a green thumb... or even a green pinky toe!! 

Feel free to download your own pages and create a plant journal for your own kids!! 

Have a great summer!!!