Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Asian shop full of claw games

Being Asian, we like to go eat dumplings or dim sum every now and then and go shopping at the Asian grocery stores. We tried out a new-to-us dumpling restaurant a couple days ago and went shopping to see what cute things we could find. We went into the store right next door the restaurant we were at and besides lots of so-cute Hello Kitty things, lots of cute stationery things and other Asian things, a good third of the shop was wall-to-wall arcade claw games - all the same outside but the toys on the inside were super cute. The picture above only shows a few of the games, but there were about 20 or so of these 'games' with the claw that comes down and you have to grab the prize. I thought it was pretty cool! Below is a collage of some of the toys inside the games. There was a picture posted on the Hello Kitty game - some guy spent $28 (in quarters!) to win one. 

Eye-popping email blasts

It's been awhile since I've felt like I had anything worthy to blog about - my friend mentioned that I hadn't been posting and that made me think about things that I should be blogging about so I've posted a few posts already this week - yay me!

So...I like to get email blasts that have eye-popping visuals - images that are well-designed that sell product/s. I'm on Sephora's email list and I have to say that they do an amazing job at making their products shine in each and every email they do. While not everyone can afford to have professional product shots of their merchandise, there are things that you can do to create your own email eye-candy.

Many times you can find product pictures on the manufacturer's websites and sometimes they even will provide downloads of their products for their distributors and retailers to use. Take advantage! Your graphic designer can take those images and collage them together. Then, come up with just a few phrases that are calls-to-action and you got yourself a visual email blast. If you can't get images online, and have to take photos, you should invest in a camera that will take good pictures. Part of making that happen means familiarizing yourself with some basic photo-taking techniques. (In a future post I'll share some sites and tutorials on this topic.) Then, if you don't know how to use Photoshop or an image-editing program, find yourself a graphic designer who does (or contact me!) who you can work with to put together your graphics. You really will feel more confident about your products and selling them knowing that you have a pro on your team to help with marketing like this.

If you are going to do the email blasts regularly (and it's good practice to do so) then come up with a header design that will be consistent with each blast. You can change the colors and even the style of the collage/image and as long as you have use the same header you will be branding yourself or your company each time you send out your blasts.

If you want to start collecting inspiration from sites that do a good job with their marketing, start with signing up for email newsletters from companies/websites that you personally shop. Fashion and beauty industry sites are inherently good ones to follow. Study the emails when they come to you and save the ones you like. You can give them to your graphic designer as inspiration and reference, or use it yourself if you DIY.

I enjoy comments - let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Temecula Street Painting Festival

2010-06-27 13
Originally uploaded by creativewitch
We went to the street painting festival which is held each summer in Old Town Temecula. We saw lots of amazing and fantastic entries of street painting (done with pastel chalks). This is one of the entries we liked. There were portraits, cartoons, realistic photo-like 'paintings' and the artists ranged from teenagers and up. It was a fun day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chicken Lo Mein

Noodle dishes are a hit around our house anytime. Here's a recipe for Lo Mein (soft noodles versus 'Chow Mein' which is usually the fried noodles, but a lot of times people use the terms interchangeably). Instead of cutting the chicken in 1/2 inch pieces, my mom taught me a different way - you shred cut the chicken. Take a chicken breast (best if it's slightly frozen, or not all the way thawed out), slice it in about 1/4 slices, then slice those slices in strips. My mom, who was the most amazing cook ever, also taught me the trick with the cornstarch and soy sauce (step 1 in the recipe). I also add salt and pepper in that step. You'll find that the cornstarch and seasoning marinade will make the chicken just amazingly tender and velvety.

Another tip - if you have an Asian grocery store near you, stop there to buy bulk garlic. Many times they will have packages of pre-peeled fresh garlic cloves that are ready to use. Very convenient and also a lot cheaper than at the regular grocery store. (Herbs such as basil (Thai) and mint are also a lot cheaper at the Asian store!)

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. fresh or dry lo mein noodles
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups packed spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Mix cornstarch and soy sauce in a bowl. Add chicken; marinate for 5 minutes.
2. Boil the noodles in a large pot of salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes for fresh, 10 to 15 minutes for dried. Drain and transfer to a bowl filled with ice water. (It helps prevent the noodles from getting soft and sticky.) When theyre cold, drain and toss them with 1 Tbs. canola oil.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2-1/2 Tbsp. oil on high in a large pan. Stir-fry chicken until almost cooked through, about 6 minutes; remove. Add 1/2 Tbsp. more oil to pan; stir-fry ginger, scallion whites, and garlic until oil is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the noodles, chicken, and spinach and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallion greens if your child likes them.
From's article, Lunch Around the World Chicken Chow Mein