Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Smocked Magnolias

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses:
Smocked Magnolias

In our continued effort to introduce you to facebook boutiques offering great service for great goodies, we have selected Smocked Magnolias as our November Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses.

Smocked Magnolias is doing its part to carry on the tradition of Deep South style with your favorite smocked brands. During their facebook sales, you can find smocked, appliqu├ęd, and monogrammable clothing to fit your babies from the time they’re born right up through size 8 years. Check out their auctions on Sundays and Wednesdays at 8:30 CST, and let them know you are a first time customer for a 20% discount of the first full price item you order.

Be sure to "like" Smocked Magnolias on Facebook for auctions and all the latest information.



Facebook Auction Times: Sundays & Wednesdays at 8:30 CST

Brands Carried: Claire & Charlie, LeZaMe, Anavini, Mom & Me, Petit Ami, Petit Bebe, LaJenns, Remember Nguyen, Sage & Lilly, Banana Split, Bailey Boys, Amanda Remembered, Cukees, Vive la Vete, and more.

Lessons in Photography: What to Wear

We recently asked for topic suggestions for our blog, and a big issue we heard was "What should my family wear for professional pictures?" As someone who recently struggled through the entire process, I knew I was not the person to answer. Instead, we enlisted the help of one of our active Smocking Hot Mamas who happens to be a professional photographer: Jenna Daniel.  This is what she had to say on the topic:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately, but sadly many of them have not been working out. So, instead of a yummy meal, I'm going to give you another yummy seasonal dessert: pumpkin cheesecake.

Crust:
Box of Graham Cracker Crumbs
- Make crust in 9 inch spring form pan according to box directions.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.

Filling:
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbs. vanilla extract (or cognac if you are so inclined)
1 15-oz. can 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 8-oz. bricks of cream cheese at room temperature
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs

- Preheat your oven to 325.
- Beat cream cheese with mixer.
- Add brown sugar then beat until light and fluffy,
- Add eggs.
- Add pumpkin.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Mix well - batter will be a thick and creamy soup.
- Add flour and pumpkin spice, and mix to combine.
- Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust. Fill no higher than the top of your crust. There will be more filling than fits in the 9 inch cheesecake. I put the extra in greased (with Bakers' Joy) small Pyrex bowls and bake on a cookie sheet along with the cheesecake. If you are as impatient as I am, you can have this as a snack with ice cream while you wait on the actual cheesecake to set. This extra also comes in handy if you are taking the cheesecake to an event. You can enjoy a sampling and still have an uncut dessert to take.
- Cook the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it looks set (mostly firm but jiggles a little in the middle if you lightly shake it). Turn the oven off, crack the door 4-5 inches, and cook another 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool for about 30 minutes then move to the refrigerator. Allow to chill, then serve.

It is yum with some whipped cream topping!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Baked Penne

Baked Penne

We seem to eat a ton of chicken at our house (chicken spaghetti, chicken Mexican casserole, pollo loco - see a theme?!), but I do try to add in other meats when I can find one to suit my picky husband. He actually liked this one, and Avery LOVED it. This one makes a lot though, so be prepared. We had one fixing of this for two dinners and one lunch before it was gone.


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Lean Hamburger Meat (or Italian Sausage)
  • 1 24 oz Jar Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 10 oz Tub "Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb Cooking Creme"
  • 1 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Box Cooked Penne Pasta


Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Brown meat.
  • Stir in spaghetti sauce, 3/4 c. cooking cream, 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese and cook 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Add cooked pasta, mix lightly.
  • Pour into casserole dish (this will make 2 9x9 dishes), top with remaining cream and cheese.
  • Cover with foil.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Uncover. Cook 5 minutes.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Buyer Beware (What to Do If Your Item Is Not as Described)

One of our goals at Smocking Hot Mamas is to keep our members informed about how to buy and sell on facebook. This includes what to do if you either do not receive your item at all or your item is not as described. As we have discussed on the page, paypal charges a percentage fee out of every invoice or payment request ($0.30 plus 2.9%). This fee goes toward protecting YOU. You have 45 days from invoice to file a claim with paypal, and, if paypal determines you have been taken advantage of, they will issue a refund to make things right. HOWEVER, there is NO paypal protection when you gift money. ONLY GIFT MONEY TO PEOPLE YOU ACTUALLY KNOW. This does not mean people you have seen frequently around facebook. Not only is it risky for a buyer to gift money without refund protection, there have also been cases where sellers are taken advantage of. If you accept payment through gift and then ship the item, a scammer can then claim that the payment was unauthorized or fraud. Paypal will return the money to the buyer, and you will be without your item as well. This is why do not allow gifting or gift requests on SHM.

To ensure that you are being protected by paypal, follow these steps:
  • NEVER gift money or request a gift of money.
  • Make sure there is a proper description of the item given. This makes filing a claim much easier when the item is not as described.
  • Take a screen shot of the purchase if you can. It makes keeping up with items and their representations easier.
  • Keep a list of all your purchases with the following information: item description, item price, facebook account name/link to account, paypal invoice information (person's email or name and invoice number), and relevant dates.
  • Keep an eye out for your 45 day window. If it is getting close, go ahead and file.

So those are some basic tips to make sure you are within the protection window, but what should you do if there is actually a problem? First, contact the seller. You can do this through facebook or email, but if that is not working (some people do not know to check their "other" folder and others don't check their paypal email anymore), you can file a claim with paypal. This is the first step before filing a dispute. This allows you to get communication on the record for paypal as well. Try to work it out. Honest mistakes happen. Children hide packages that mamas think have been placed in the mail, and sometimes people miss stains. Give the seller a chance to work out the problems. If that doesn't work, escalate to a dispute with paypal. Please remember the 45 day rule!!

Pay special attention to the red boxes and notes that have been added to simplify the process.

Used with permission.


How to Open a PayPal Claim:

Step 1:
Go to www.paypal.com and log-in.


Step 2:
Click on the "Resolution Center" icon in the toolbar under My Account.




Step 3:
Click on the Dispute a Transaction button located below the Report a Problem Section.





Step 4:
Click on the type of problem you are having. In this case I have chosen to select an Item Not Received Dispute and click Continue.

Step 5:
Click on the Find a Transaction button. It should open another window. DO NOT TYPE ANYTHING IN THE BOX TO THE LEFT OF IT.


Step 6:
Find your transaction in the window that has popped up. Once you find the transaction in question, click on the Transaction ID. I have shown the area i would have clicked by putting a red box around the Transaction ID.

Step 7:
After clicking on the Transaction ID, the pop up window should close and insert the Transaction ID like the picture below.



Step 8:
At this screen you should select the reason for filing your dispute. If you have not received the item then select the first option. Otherwise it should be the one below it.

Step 9:
Next, you should select the category that this dispute falls under. Please note that the picture below shows the drop down box extended. After you select the category, you need to give ALL the details about the transaction including any conversations between you and the seller. This is the most important part of the dispute. The more facts and details you supply, the better your chances of winning.




Step 10:

You have now filed a dispute.

How to Escalate or Add to a Dispute:

Step 1:
Log into www.paypal.com

Step 2:
Under the resolution center box on the right, click on Open Disputes & Claims link.


Step 3:
Find your Dispute and click on View.


Step 4:
From here you can post more info about the case if needed. Use this area to communicate with the seller. If you feel you have come to an agreement or want to escalate the case, use the links below the post message box.



Good luck! Hopefully this is something that you do not have to use often if ever, but we wanted to have the resource available to you if needed.




**All information posted above is meant to be informative. Neither SHM nor Resell Buyers Beware is responsible for the accuracy of this information. We do not work for paypal. This is merely a compilation of personal experiences.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How Smocking Hot Mamas Works


How Smocking Hot Mamas Works

Smocking Hot Mamas is an online resale site where mamas can post their gently used smocked and boutique children's clothing. It is not a consignment business. We do not get any portion of the price of items. Anyone may list or shop, and this post is intended to explain the nuances of how to do that. 
The first thing is to generally familiarize yourself with the rules. This page only allows specifically listed brands to be posted for sale. We occasionally add new brands, but until then we ask that you respect the list when posting.

Also, we recommend checking out this buyer beware group to keep informed about who to avoid in the resale world. We do our best to keep confirmed scammers and bad sellers off the page, but we can't always get them all, especially if we don't know about them. They are also a great asset to help walk you through what to do if something does go wrong. Check out our blog post on what to do if your item is not as described for more information on that process as well.
 
To Buy: 
To shop, either click "posts by others" in the middle of the wall or click on the photo tab on the top left above the wall.  From your app, click "CLICK HERE."  You may then have to click again to expand the text, but a link will be provided for how to shop from your phone. You can also find this information here or the direct link to the wall here.  We recommend saving this link to your favorites in your phone web browser.

 When you want to buy simply post "sold" and your PayPal email address. Please pay invoices in a reasonable amount of time (as soon as possible, but no more than 24 hours unless prior arrangements have been made with the seller). If you have questions, feel free to ask the seller. It is wise to say "hold" then ask your question so that a seller knows you are serious about buying if the item meets your needs. However, a hold will only last a reasonable time after the question is answered, so don't forget to check back as Facebook is terrible about giving notifications these days. You can also check your activity log on the top right of your profile if you are on timeline. Feel free to leave post "backup sold" and your email address in case the original sale falls through. It is best to leave your PayPal email with a backup in case you don't get notifications. 

If your item is received not as described or it doesn't come at all, you have 45 days to file a complaint and claim with PayPal for a refund. Check out the blog post linked above for details on that process.

To Sell:
First, please check the rules and approved brands list to be sure your item may be listed. Then, on the top left of the SHM wall, you can post to our wall. Click "photo / video," upload the photo, add a description, and hit "post." Do not tag our page or share your item from your wall to ours. Only post directly to the wall on the page. Your description should include all the information a potential buyer needs to post "sold" -- this means brand, size, condition, and price. Please be specific with any defects. It is also wise to include measurements or if something is true to size, runs big, runs small, etc. Items must adhere to the rules listed in the "about" link under our profile picture. This includes, but is not limited to, only listing items on the approved brands list, no stock photos, and not posting an item more than once a week to be fair to all our users.  

When you price your items, we prefer that you list the price including shipping. If it does not include shipping, be sure to clearly state that. When pricing, consider the retail value of the item, it's quality, condition, and age. Also remember that PayPal charges a small fee for every interaction.

Please check your listings at least once a day for questions or "solds." Save a link to your favorites or in a word document, share it to your page, but do not rely on notifications from Facebook (as they rarely work with non friends lately) or searching the album.  You CAN check your activity log on the top right of your profile if you are on timeline, but depending on how much activity you have, the activity log may not go as far back as you would like.
 
Please post from a computer or the web browser on your mobile device as pictures from the app often do not "stick" to the wall and when they do, they often have increased privacy settings preventing comments.  
 
 
Please remember to delete your paid listings. This can be done from both a computer (When your cursor is over your photo, a menu will appear on the bottom right. Click options and then remove photo.) or your web browser on your mobile device (Underneath the photo it should say edit photo and also give you the option from there to remove.).

 
It is also helpful to check your "other" folder of your inbox periodically to make sure you haven't had a potential buyer message you. If you click on messages in the menu on the left of your facebook screen, you should see inbox and other. Non-friend messages go in the other folder.  Be sure your facebook settings allow nonfriends to message you at all or you could be missing out on sales.

To get payment, log into PayPal. At the top you should see "request money." Click that then "create invoice." Simply fill in the blanks and include the description of your item on the invoice.

If you list in more than one location, please write "cross posted" and use the time stamp to sell to the first person to post. 


You should also take care to update shipping information in paypal even if you do not ship through paypal (which we suggest as it is cheaper and easier for both buyer and seller).  After the invoice is paid, it will give you the option to print shipping label to the right of the buyer's name. You can click the drop down there, and then you can make it as shipped. The buyer will get an email saying their item shipped, and it can save everyone the hassle a paypal complaint.


Our Group:
 A bit ago, facebook decided to make some changes that complicated resale shopping on pages. It has subsequently fixed many of those issues, so we returned to the page, but we keep the group just in case there is another issue. We also use the group for our themed events. We do not allow posting in the group outside the specified time for the event. Facebook requires that members to groups be approved, so be sure to request to join in plenty of time before the event if you don't want to risk missing part of the event.

Unlike on the page, we allow any boutique brand or boutique quality custom to be listed in the group as long as they meet the theme of the event. For example, we recently had a Smocked Savings event. Anything under $20 shipped could be posted. We have had team spirit nights, holiday events, knits events, and more, so keep an eye out on the page for announcements of what is coming up next.  We usually post for theme suggestions when we are preparing for a sale, and then we generally have a poll with the top suggestions, so you can help choose what the next sale will be.

Things do work a little differently in the group though. For example, items MUST be placed in albums. When items are posted onto the wall and not an album (like on the page), photos must be deleted one by one, which is very time consuming. Also, because so many items are being posted in a short span of time, it is easier to shop from the albums. To post into the albums, simply go to "photos," click on the album you want you item to go into, then click "add photos" on the top right. The "add photos" option will only be available during the hours we allow posting for the theme events. From your web browser (not your app), you can go to the "photos" section, and on the top it will give you the option to add photos. Outside of designated times for listings, we shut down posting in the group, so we only have to maintain the page. After you post, you should comment with the description in the first comment so that the photo will be seen on the wall, not just the album.

Also, groups give notifications of all kinds of things, so most people elect to turn them off. To turn those off, click on "notifications" on the upper right hand side, and click "off." You can also do this from your mobile app in the "info" section of the group; just go to "edit notification settings."

Because groups bump posts with the most recent comments to the top, we ask that you only comment on your own photo to answer a question, inform of invoice status, reduce price, or to provide some other necessary information to give other items a fair chance of being seen. Once new posting is closed, we will post and often allow you to comment "still available" once you have deleted your paid listings. However, please wait until then. 

We ask that people promptly pay during group events. Payment should always occur within 24 hours, but in the group, we ask that you pay as soon as possible bc albums are deleted within 24 hours, and we don't want sellers to miss their backups. 

In the group, you can click on the hourglass in the top right hand corner and search the wall for user names, item descriptions, or any key word. This is helpful finding your own listings or if you want to search a size or theme. 
 
 
We "pin" a rules and instructions post at the top of the group prior to the start of the sale. It will always have the details of the theme as well as helpful hints and the most up-to-date information on the group sales as possible. Be sure you read that prior to the sale.

If you have questions, please message the admins with the message feature on our page. Thanks and smock on :)

Pollo Loco

This recipe isn't one of our "quick and easy" meals, but it is this mama's personal favorite. It is starting to cool off some most places, so grilling isn't always the most practical, but if you are still rocking 80 degree days like us, you may want to try this one out. 


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle Lawry's Baja Chipotle marinade (this is buy one get one free this week at Publix)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long grain rice (not instant)
1 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp taco seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 container Gordos Cheese Dip (or other white Mexican queso as Gordos has gotten harder to find)



Pour Baja Chipotle Marinade over chicken and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I do not recommend overnight, but you may like the extra flavor). Grill chicken until done (165 degrees).

While the chicken is grilling, prepare the rice. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. While rice is cooking, sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Stir in onion flakes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. If you are in a time crunch, the seasoned Mexican rice by Taco Bell (with the taco seasoning in the grocery store) has a similar taste, and you just pop it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Heat cheese dip according to package directions.

Place 1/4 of the rice on a plate, top with grilled chicken. Pour 2-3 Tbsp cheese dip over chicken and rice.



Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses: Itty Biddy


Spotlight on Smocking Hot Businesses
Itty Biddy


In our continued effort to answer the "What are the best places to shop on Facebook" question, we would like to introduce you to Itty Biddy.

Itty Biddy may be a new face in the online bidding world, but they don't fail to bring top of the line children's clothing brands to satisfy mommy indulgences at mommy budgets. Their low prices make those adorable boutique brand outfits seem even more wonderful on your Itty Biddy. Be sure to check out their auctions on Monday and Wednesday nights at 8pm cst and keep an eye out for their surprise sales, which will be announced on their page. They don't make you hang around for the next auction if you miss a sale either. Simply email their customer service at info@ittybiddyauctions.com to check availability of previously auctioned items. 

Be sure to "like" Itty Biddy on Facebook for auctions and all the latest information.

Auction Times: Monday and Wednesday Nights 8pm cst surprise sales

Brands Carried:  Anavini, Claire and Charlie, Vive le fete, Banana Split, Zuccini, Posh Originals, Pink Chicken, Petit Ami, Le Za Me, Sam and Sydney, Silly Goose, Secret Wishes

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's Your Smocked Philosophy

What is Your Smocked Philosophy? 

Here at Smocking Hot Mamas we have three primary admin and one deleting admin who helps us out. You see us frequently on the page, keeping things working smoothly and also in the group during our themed any boutique brand events, but we figured we should let you know a little bit more about each of us.

Most of you know me as Avery Grace, and I am one of the orginal three Smocking Hot Mamas admin. I have spent the last few years chasing my husband and the United States Army, but last month we settled down (for the moment) and moved back to sweet home Alabama (ROLL TIDE).  For now, I am a stay at home mom to two year old Avery, but soon I will be putting my law degree to work again. And this, well, this is my "hobby." 

I often ask myself a very important question. "Do I have a smocked addiction?" Ask my husband and the answer will unequivocally be YES!! But after joining this closet world, I have realized I definitely have a mild case of that particular disease. My real life friends tease me about my over shopping habits, and my closet friends tease me about how little I buy. This definitely makes me the moderate shopper of our Smocking Hot Mamas admin. I prefer to fill Avery's closet with pieces I really love rather than anything I see that happens to be cute. There are a LOT of cute outfits out there (and let's face it, what wouldn't look cute on my kid?!), but how many smocks and boutique items does my sweet girl really need? Do I have items I regret not grabbing something? Sure, but I always find something I like better, and that makes it alright! In this world, there is always something new and exciting waiting around the corner to buy. Especially on SHM - you never know what you might find. 

What I have really become addicted to is the community we have made in this shopping world. I've made some great friends that are more than closet friends. They are on my real Facebook account, my email inbox, and in my iPhone history. I have even met up with a couple for play dates. I talk to these people daily. And nothing is off limits. They have offered advice, listened to me whine after a hard day, joked, helped me find ISOs and the perfect birthday dress out of their stashes. I feel the highs and lows of those friendships like I do with my in real life friendships.  Whether you are new to the Facebook world or have been around for years, I hope you can enjoy this community as much as I have.  It isn't perfect, but there is so much out there to make it worth it.

So tell me - where do you fall? Smocking Moderate, Bubble Hoarder, somewhere in between? 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Bars



Instead of our normal weekly meals, we figured we would add in a fall treat. We have been munching on these this weekend, and they are YUM!



Pumpkin Bars
Mix Together:
2 c. sugar
2 c. All purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 T. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. salt

Add and mix well: 
1c. canola oil
1 small can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
4 eggs

Spray your Pampered Chef Bar Pan (or another 10 1/2" x 15 1/2" pan)with cooking spray (ideally Baker's Joy).  Pour batter in the pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. (The bar pan usually takes the longer time.)  Do not over bake.  Let cool.


Frosting:

Mix the following well:
1 stick of butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. powdered sugar

Frost when completely cool. 

Enjoy ;)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Mexican Chicken Casserole

1 Package Taco Seasoning
1 Can Cream of Chicken (fat free)
1 Can Cream of Mushroom (fat free)
1 Can Water
1 1/2 Cup Uncooked Rice (not instant)
1 Pound Frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts (cut into thin strips)
1 Can Rotel
Shredded Cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

Mix water, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and taco seasoning then pour into bottom of 9 x 13 dish. Spread rice over mixture - careful not to get too close to the edges so that it will cook properly. Spread FROZEN chicken over that and top with Rotel.

Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 1 hour and 40 minutes on 350.  Do a little shopping on Smocking Hot Mamas.

Remove foil. Cover with thin but even layer of cheddar cheese. Place back in over until cheese is melted.

Enjoy....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scrub a Dub Dub

Scrub a Dub Dub
Laundry Tips


We all love to dress our children in beautiful clothing, but, if you are like me, you don't want those beautiful clothes to keep your kids from being kids. You want them to play and enjoy. However, if your child is like mine, that means getting MESSY. And while they may only wear an outfit once because of overshopping, you don't want that $70+ outfit to only be worn once ever - you want to resell it - on Smocking Hot Mamas.  So here are some tips to help you do that:


1) Wash promptly. Most of us have enough cute clothes for our kiddos that we don't need to wash often. And no rush to wash the normal wear clothes. But for stains - wash quickly for best results. 

2) Use the right detergent. Some suggest Woolite. It keeps clothes from fading. It is more expensive, but for the occasional load of boutique clothes, especially those knits, it may be worth it for you.

3) Treat the stain. Everyone has their own techniques for stain removal, but here are a few of ours. I had tried every spray or gel I could think of on who knows what kind of food stain on a white dress of Avery's. Total resale value killer. A friend suggested a mix of oxiclean powder and oxiclean gel or spray. Mix it into a paste on the stain, rub with a soft tooth brush, and let sit a little while (but not long enough to dry - this was white, so it wasn't a bit deal, but it might bleach colors if you leave it too long). Then rinse thoroughly. I didn't have a spare toothbrush but with a little time and rubbing it in with my finger SUCCESS! Outfit saved. Don't try this on colored smocking though - those threads are more likely to fade.  A similar option is to soak the outfit in a combination of warm water and a scoop of oxiclean. Dissolve and soak. 

Another miracle worker is Grandma's Stain Remover. It can be found at Hobby Lobby in the fabric section, CVS, and random other places along the way. Earlier this year, I received a Shrimp and Grits sample swim suit that appeared to have red sharpie across the top. Mama was NOT happy. But I had recently purchased some Grandma's after having heard fabulous things. I begrudgingly took the tag off, scrubbed scrubbed scrubbed with my finger and the Grandma's and threw it in the wash.  It came out almost completely the first wash. It does seem to work best on untreated stains, so keep this in mind. 

Other suggestions: Q tips and bleach for small stains on white smock plate can work wonders. Many have had success with placing lemon juice or vinegar on a stain and letting it sit in the sun - but not too long or you may bleach your outfit out. Resolve dual chamber has been known to work wonders on chocolate (again, don't leave it on too long - a few minutes should do the trick). Others swear by "Awesome" from the dollar tree. 

For ink, fold up a paper towel and place it behind the stain, so it doesn't bleed through. Saturate with rubbing alcohol (or aerosol hair spray will do the same bc of the alcohol). Blot with another paper towel. Repeat as needed. Wash as normal. 

4) Hang your items to dry. The heat is just not their friend (unless you are trying to size down an outfit). While some of your smocks can handle a tumble on low, your knits will suffer dearly for it.