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“I Posted a New Photo to Facebook” Pet Peve (Uggg)

Facebook TwitterIf I’m on Twitter, I want to read something, In fact, I want to read something interesting.

If you want me to visit your business on another social media website, for example let’s say Facebook. Then send me there via an interesting thought and a picture. Entice me, encourage me to visit your other post.

I realize the Facebook link shrinks the 140 characters but if the most interesting thing you have to say is…

I Just Posted a New Photo to Facebook …

I’m probably not going to visit. I’m most certainly not going to fave or retweet it. What’s the problem with sharing the picture on Twitter? You’ve got my attention, why risk losing it?

Think about it for a second, you are on Twitter to grow your local business.  To communicate directly with your customers. To increase the number of customers (and potential customers) who are following you. You have a limited amount of  real estate (140 characters) to promote your business, and instead you’re promoting Facebook?

I realize most likely, you want customers to visit your Facebook page because there you can offer more information. You may have a page (or pages) set up specifically geared to offering valuable information to your customers, freebies, coupons. It’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and for customers to like/share your pages. You can manage lists and campaigns, the possibilities are endless.

BUT…right now we’re talking about you having somebody’s attention on Twitter…

Your Twitter goal may in fact be solely to direct customers to your local business Facebook page(s). You still have to offer something of interest or value. Think of the 140 characters as a headline. An interesting headline will get the click, will get favorited and will get retweeted. A powerful headline & picture; even better!

I know it’s tempting and a real time saver to use an ap that updates all of your social media accounts when you make a new post.  That unfortunately leads to boring and unpopular  Tweets like “I Posted a New Photo to Facebook fb.meblahblahblah”

I’ve taken the time to visit you on Twitter, please give me a little time in return by sharing your interesting Tweets.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I’m heading over to Tweet something (ILoveCowichanca) that will hopefully entice my Twitter friends into reading this blog post.  Have a super day!

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please 🙂

Support Local Business

Local Business Please Support Local Business

I absolutely love how Buy Local is on the tip of more and more tongues these days, especially for those of us from smaller communities.

Support Local Business Merit Furniture Duncan BCToday when I was out and about in Downtown Duncan I popped into Merit Furniture to look at sofas. Our current couch celebrated its 10th birthday recently. Though it has served us well, the time for a new one is most definitely on the horizon.

I remember we bought the couch when we first arrived in the Cowichan Valley.  The one I bought was a little more expensive than the others. The sales person pointed out that it was made in BC and that this particular company made great quality furniture. She was right. It’s been through A LOT. Not a single spring is broken and the frame is as good as new.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a couch last nearly that long…even before kids.

When we were just about done, Roger mentioned how he has started bringing in some locally handmade (in Duncan!) accent pieces. He showed us a gorgeous corner hutch and some tables.

While he was showing my husband and I the furniture, another customer in the store overheard and joined us. We started talking about how important it is to Buy Local.

Then it hit me. This wasn’t just a case of us as shoppers buying local, but an ideal example of one local business supporting another local business. Kudos to Merit Furniture in Duncan!

As consumers more and more of us are doing our “Buy Local” part.

As a local business owner, are you doing your part? Whenever possible please support other local businesses. Sell locally grown or manufactured products. For whatever services your business needs hire someone local, be it an accountant, web designer, carpet or window cleaner etc.

Support Your Neighbours Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! Pretty please 🙂

My Buy Local Market Adventure

One of my recent buy local adventures was a tad chilly, a bit rainy and a whole lot of fun.  I finally made it to the Downtown Duncan Farmer’s Market.

Which meant of course. the first thing I had to do was grab a coffee. Truth be told,  it’s the first thing I do regardless of the weather; ALWAYS.

Can’t remember if I had the Dragon’s Tooth blend, the Bulldog Bite or maybe it was the South Seas Serenade, but the coffee really hit the spot. I didn’t catch his name, but the conversation sure was lively.  The product motto is a pretty good indicator of his personality… “Beans so Fresh They Ought to be Slapped.”

Misty Ridge Organic Coffee Buy Local
Misty Ridge Organic Coffee

Great coffee, great conversation and some useful advice ” Warm your mug with hot water just prior to pouring your coffee into it and your coffee will stay hot longer”.

Raw Vegan Organic Dark Cacao
100% Handmade Raw Dark Cacao

While I was enjoying my coffee the stand right across from me caught my attention.

RAWkolates, hmm had no idea what it meant, but the display looked interesting and I was pretty sure I saw some samples.  I poked around for a minute or two while Vida (she introduced herself soon after) finished up with some customers.

Vida quite patiently (I say patiently because I asked a lot of questions) explained what RAWkolates are and that she makes them all by hand.

RAWkolates are handmade raw vegan fair trade organic dark cacao bars & squares. Her treats contain absolutely no refined sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no sulphites, no GMOs nor wax.

I was a bit hesitant when she offered me a sample, but I have to admit it was a really good. Just the right amount of sweet.  Vida is a Holistic Nutritionist &  Raw Food Chef who lives in  Nanaimo.  She is Island born and raised.  She grows her own food, creates in the kitchen and even builds her own furniture from recycled wood pallets.

RAWkolates are also available in Duncan at Chari-Teas

Just two vendors into my buy local Saturday adventure and it was pretty clear.  People who sell at the market are extremely passionate about what they do and they have some pretty interesting stories to share.

Ummm, that and judging by the number of questions I ask it’s going to take me way more than just one Saturday to get through the entire market.


Vegetable Appetizer Recipes

Veggie Recipes

Recipes Using Frozen Artichokes

As fresh garden veggies become a thing of the past (well a past season that is) it’s time to start being creative with frozen vegetables. They can be a great off-season alternative to fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables are available all year round. We don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy garden fresh taste. But… Quality is really important.  Try choosing vegetables that have been frozen within an hour or two of being picked (with no additives). Check for local farm produce that is also available frozen.


 Here are a two nummy artichoke appetizer recipes.

Marinated Artichokes and Shrimp Recipe

Cook the artichokes 1/2 minute less than package directs. Drain well and chill. Beat the egg yolk in a bowl; add the oils, mustard and vinegar, beating steadily. Mix in the scallions and parsley, and then the shrimp and artichokes. Marinate in the refrigerator 4 hours, basting occasionally. Serves 6.


Artichokes a la greque Recipe

Let the artichokes thaw sufficiently to separate. In a saucepan, combine the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook over low heat 25 minutes. Add the artichokes; cook 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Pour into a dish (not metal), cool, then refrigerate until needed. The artichokes will keep about 2 weeks. Serves 4-6.


  Serve With Main CourseSauteed Artichoke Hearts

Partially defrost the artichokes. Mix together the flour, salt and pepper. Lightly roll each artichoke in the mix­ture. Heat the oil in a skillet; sauté the artichokes until browned. Serves 3-4.

Vegetable Combination

Recipe Artichauts a la Mirielle

Heat the oil in a deep skillet; sauté the onions 10 min­utes, shaking the pan frequently. Add the artichoke hearts, broth, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 6-8.

Easy Frozen Vegetable Recipes

Dry the artichokes on paper towels. Heat the oil in a skillet; lightly brown the artichokes in it. Add the garlic, peas, lettuce, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat 10 minutes, adding a very little water if necessary to keep from burning. Serves 8-10.

 

Artichokes for Sale at Market at Campo De' Fiori
Artichokes for Sale at Market at Campo De’ Fiori

Click here for some Frozen Broccoli Recipes

Broccoli Sicilian Style or with Lemon Butter Sauce Recipes

How to get kids to eat their broccoli. This first one is an incredibly easy way to add some flavor to your “green trees” as my daughter likes to call them…

broccoli with lemon butter sauce

Cook the broccoli 1 minute less than package directs; drain.

Heat together the butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper; pour over the broccoli and sprinkle with the egg yolk.

Serves 4-6.


 Broccoli Sicilian Style

1 large bunch broccoli, or 2 packages frozen  

1 teaspoon salt

Broccoli, Sicilian Style

Wash the fresh broccoli thoroughly.

Remove the coarse leaves and tough lower portions of the stalks.

Split lengthwise. Place in a skillet with the salt and boiling water to a depth of ½-inch.

Bring to a boil and cook over low heat 5 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and keep hot.

Cook frozen broccoli 1 minute less than package directs; drain and keep hot.

Prepare the sauce while the vegetable is cooking.

Heat the oil in a saucepan; sauté the onions and garlic 5 min­utes.

Blend in the flour and pepper.

Gradually add the broth, stirring steadily to the boiling point; cook over low heat 5 minutes.

Mix in the cheese until melted, then stir in the anchovies and olives.

Pour over the broccoli. Serves 4-6.


 Baskets of Fruits and Vegetables

Baskets of Fruits and Vegetables

 

 

Buy Local; Get a Dose of Enthusiasm For Free

Scott's Toys & Hobbies
Scott’s Toys & Hobbies Station Street Duncan BC

Enthusiasm; that’s the word I’ve been looking for! When you go into a small local business and are greeted by an owner, you’re greeted with enthusiasm. When they talk about their service or product it’s with passion and with knowledge. They care and also know what they’re talking about.

It isn’t so much about making a sale, or getting you to buy local. It’s about sharing knowledge of a passion that they have built a business around. The sale is a natural result of that interaction.

The foundation of that business is something they are keen to talk about and love to teach others about. Chances are if you’re at that store in the first place, it’s a shared interest.

Small business owners are genuinely happy to see you, and after a return visit or two more than likely will greet you by name.

I’m not sure about you, but nothing makes me feel more welcome and appreciated than when I’m greeted by name and with an authentic smile. I’m a social person, and I like to chat. I absolutely enjoy when shopping includes a visit.

For example the other day, I dropped by Scott’s Toys and Hobbies to pick up some of my favorite oil pastels and was hoping to visit with the owner (Diane).

She is a wealth of knowledge, about her products and her town. It’s a chance to do some shopping, and to catch up on the latest happenings in Downtown Duncan. As luck would have it, she was in and so I enjoyed my shopping experience that bit more.

On the flip side…if you work in (or own) a small local business, please remember the person standing in front of you has chosen to visit your establishment. More than likely over a big box store with bigger selection possibly lower prices.

The reason they are in your store most likely is for the overall customer experience. Ensure you deliver, give them that extra dose of enthusiasm for free and they will be back to buy local again and again.


New Pastels from Scott's Toys & Hobbies I Buy Local
Love my new oil pastels

Scott’s Toys & Hobbies just one of my many favorite places to buy local www.scottstoysandhobbies.ca

Rainy Day Flashback to a Sunny Ride Over the Malahat

Today we had a rainy day ride over the Malahat; polar opposite of our last trip to Victoria. Ok so it wasn’t quite six hours or July like the song says but it was a nice trip on a beautiful day.

Unlike today, not an enjoyable ride and what a muddy mess they’ve got going on up there. Kind of sad to see all the trees that are gone. Not sure what is being done but it sure looks like a massive (or multiple) project.

Anyway, just thought I’d share a flashback video to the sunny ride over the Malahat…

 

 

Buy Local Twitter Ambassador

Over the last five years I’ve become more aware of why it’s important to “buy local”. I’ve been doing my best to be supportive of businesses owned and operated in the Cowichan Valley, especially in Downtown Duncan.

Besides the obvious…I started to buy local more often myself, I decided another way I could support Cowichan Valley businesses is by becoming somewhat of a buy local Twitter ambassador.

Now, I say “attempting” because it’s been way more difficult than I expected.

Buy Local Twitter Ambassador Spell Check
Apparently re-tweet is causing some verb confusion 🙂

What I expected was, to log in to my Twitter account (@ilovecowichanca) find all of my favorite Downtown Duncan businesses and follow them. Plan was to keep it honest. I would favorite and re-tweet interesting stuff. I would tweet about each and every excellent experience I have as a customer. I would tweet about my favorite purchases.

What I didn’t expect was….

  • to find as few twitter accounts as I did
  • the low number of acknowledgements I received after following
  • so little overall tweeting activity

I don’t think some small businesses realize how powerful a punch the right kind of tweet packs. Nor how many of their customers (plus, potential customers) are right there, ready willing and able to interact with them. They don’t yet see the value in having a Twitter account; the reach potential.

Buy Local Twitter Ambassador Thank you
Always say thanks to people who follow you on twitter

For those that do have a Twitter account, please understand that proper etiquette (manners) still apply in the virtual world. If someone calls or walks into your place of business you don’t just ignore them. You acknowledge their visit and you thank them.

The same goes for Twitter. If you have an account and someone follows you, acknowledge that they followed you by (at the very least) tweeting a thank you. There is a very good chance that the person who followed you is a customer.

You’ve taken the time to set up a Twitter account for your business, don’t have it just sit there dormant. Very little or no activity whatsoever is probably worse than not having an account. You don’t have to dedicate a whole bunch of time but pencil it in.

It’s only 140 characters for goodness sake!

Tweet something of interest (relevant to your niche) at least once per day. Not just a sales pitch in each tweet but something of value. Thank new followers every day.

If you’re stuck for something to say thank specific twitterers (wow that one is most definitely not ok with spell check ) for retweeting and/or favoriting your tweets.

A follower (someone who is interested in your business) is giving you permission to share information with them, don’t pass up the opportunity…and while you’re at it  do yourself a favor, consider following them back.

Support Your Neighbors Your Friends Your Community…Buy Local! (pretty please:)

 

The Orange Pumpkin Sea

Two things occurred to me recently.  I realized something that I particularly love about fall are pumpkin patches.

I remember the first time (and the times after that) looking down from behind the tractor at tiny, big, huge round and not so round orange balls in wonder.  Until I went on my daughter’s field trip, I guess I didn’t know they grew that way.  I probably never gave it much thought.

My husband and I were driving the other day and there they were.  Fields; row after row, a sea of orange. lt never ceases to amaze me.  It never gets old.

Speaking of old brings me to the second thing…my babies are all grown up. This is the first year that neither of my girls went on a school trip to pick their own pumpkin(s).  It’s also been a while since we went schlepping through the mud at McNab’s Corn Maze.

* Black Kitten on a Pumpkin from AllPosters

Did you know….

Pumpkin is a word with a fascinating history. The original Greek word for this vegetable actually means mellow, or sun-ripened, as most pumpkins grow into full maturity with plenty of sunshine. The original Greek word was modified by the French into pompion, and sub­sequently became “punkin”; ultimately it reached its final form as “pumpkin.”

In England, the word “pumpkin” is sometimes used to mean a large squash. The English marrow, or vege­table marrow, however, is not a pumpkin, but a long, narrow squash.

As if all of this were not confusing enough, the Algon­quin word “squash” actually means green or un­ripe. Contrast this meaning with the Greek word for pumpkin—mellow, or sun-ripened.

All this talk about pumpkins makes me think about yummy Pumpkin Cream Pie (click for the recipe).

 

Eggplant Caviar Recipe

Eggplant Caviar Ingredients
Eggplant Caviar Ingredients

If you’re looking to impress company with a delicious vegetable appetizer, how does Eggplant Caviar sound? Fancy right? It’s a much easier recipe than the name implies.

Wash and dry the eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 400° oven for around 45 minutes, or until the skin is browned and split. Turn several times.

Peel the eggplant, then chop with the onion until very fine. Sea­son with the salt and pepper; beat in the olive oil. Mix in the lemon juice and parsley.

Taste for seasoning. Serve with buttered pumpernickel (find fresh bread or recipe ingredients at the Duncan Farmer’s Market).

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Frame It All - Simple Modular Gardens