Today Show Momtrepreneurs!

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I was so excited for my appearance on the Today Show this morning to talk about one of my favorite subjects…momtrepreneurs! We had the opportunity to chat with three awesome guests who balance family with business (and somehow make it all look easy!) These three women are so inspiring. Find out more about them and watch our fun interview below. Stay tuned for more Moonfrye “momtreprenuer” spotlights coming soon, and please share your Momtrepreneur story with us in the comments.

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Julie Cole is a mother of six–and a co-founding vice president of multi-million dollar company Mabel’s Labels. Talk about a balancing act! After Julie’s oldest child was diagnosed with autism, she put her legal career on hold to create a business that would let her spend more time at home and allow a better work/life balance. Mabel’s Labels started with an investment of just $2,375 each from four founders, all of whom were moms. In the early days, Julie would work until 3AM in her sister’s basement making labels, and then get up with her children at 6AM. Julie credits social media for providing a “vast, varied sisterhood” that offers emotional and practical support for working moms.

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Gay Wheeler-Smith is the CEO of G&K Sweet Foods,  a New York-based company that manufactures and sells “legacy ‘licious” desserts, including their legendary gourmet sweet potato pies and chocolate chip cookies. Growing up, Gay’s sweetest childhood memories were in warm kitchens where laughter, wisdom, and secret family recipes were shared around the table. After learning to bake the traditional Southern recipes herself at a young age, Gay dreamed of sharing her favorite homestyle desserts with the rest of the world. Gay started her MWBE (Minority Women’s Business Enterprise) with her friend Kecia Palmer-Cousins. Gay’s daughter was a sophomore in high school and Kecia’s two sons were just toddlers. Juggling motherhood, a fledgling business and full time jobs is no easy task, but Gay’s company continues to expand and flourish, with merchants selling their products throughout Westchester County and a flourishing online business. 

Kecia Palmer-Cousins is the Chief Operating Office (COO) of G&K Sweet Foods. She is a partner of G&K Sweet Foods, LLC, a New York LLC and NYC & NYS Certified MWBE (Minority Women’s Business Enterprise) food company, specializing in the commercial manufacturing of fully baked, frozen small and large sweet potato pies for the wholesale and retail markets. Kecia inherited her entrepreneurial spirit from her mother, father, uncles and cousins who have owned a variety of small, family owned businesses, from fish markets/restaurants, daycare centers and moving/ construction businesses. Kecia is married to her best friend and husband Kevin Cousins. She is also the daughter-in-law of the Honorable NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Images courtesy of TODAY.

To Host a Leprechaun

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Elbow deep in soapy sippy cups, I chatted with Riley as she worked on her latest masterpiece.  She has a lot to discuss after school, although none of it ever has much to do with school.

We covered creating a new cookie recipe (no pressure), Mimi’s favorite fruits, and why her daddy owns so many shirts that appear to be “exactly the same!”  And then she shifted to holidays.  She likes to celebrate every holiday, big and small.  To that end, she’s always keeping a running tally in her of what comes next.

“What IS a leprechaun anyway, Mommy?”

Born into a family with Irish American roots, I’ve heard tales of Ireland for as long as I can remember.  Nana, of course, always told the best stories.  Settling in with her black coffee and unfiltered cigarette, she regaled us with stories of Pa and the cousins back in Ireland.  She spoke in great detail, describing each moment – each memory – with care.  Huddled around the dining room table crunching on toast buttered to perfection, we hung on every word.  We were raised to believe that it was out history too, because it was.

And yet, a simple question about a mythical Irish creature left me stumped.  How is it possible that I’ve lived 38 years of stories and jokes about the Irish, and yet I really don’t know what a leprechaun is?

Have leprechauns gained notoriety in recent years and I simply missed the boat?  How is that I was sent to school each March 17th dressed in head to toe green with a giant “Kiss me, I’m Irish” button on my shirt but I can’t think of a single thing to say in response to my curious daughter?

“Are they like elves?”

She broke my silent trip down memory lane with a follow up question.  This kid needed and answer.

“You know what?  I’m not really sure how to explain leprechauns, so let’s look it up and we’ll learn about them together.”

As it turns out, leprechauns are actually fairies.  I know – Riley couldn’t believe it either.  Members of the infamous “tinker” family, they are known to be excellent cobblers who earn their gold by making and fixing shoes.  They live deep in the forest in Ireland, preferring to stay out of the way.  They often live in hollowed out trees or logs and go to great lengths to stay out of sight when humans are near.  But they are curious little fellows, and they wonder about us just as we wonder about them.

Here’s the interesting thing:  Leprechauns have a reputation for being tricky, and sometimes they are even described as mean, but they’re not.  Sure, they love to play practical jokes, but they are actually friendly little creatures.  They just don’t like it when humans try to trick them into giving up their pot of gold.

Legend has it that if you happen to encounter a leprechaun, you should hold his gaze and never look away.  When you hold his gaze he has to tell you the location of his gold, but if you look away – even for a second, he will disappear.

But legend also has it that if a leprechaun happens upon a friendly family, he might stay a while.  He is likely to fix a few broken things and might even leave some new shoes for the family.  As long as he knows that you won’t trick him, he will happily blend into the family for a while.

So how do you host a leprechaun?  You begin by making him a cozy place to stay…

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You will need:

  • A small box
  • Green construction paper
  • Green tissue paper
  • Shamrock stickers
  • Flower stickers (leprechauns love flowers, they are even known to eat them)
  • Any other decorations you might see fit
  • Glue
  • Scissors

1. Cut a small door and perhaps a window in your leprechaun house before you begin decorating – leprechauns like to roam around as they wish.  They do not like to be trapped!

2. Cover your house with green construction paper – leprechauns are known to favor green because it helps them blend in among the trees and grass to hide from curious humans.

3. Decorate with shamrocks, flowers, and anything else that you think a leprechaun might find appealing.

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Leend has it that the best way to show a leprechaun that you have a leprechaun-friendly home is to leave out a small bowl of warm milk by the front door before you go to bed.  Leprechauns love warm milk and will make themselves at home if they encounter this friendly gesture.  They also enjoy a diet of fruit and nuts, so you might leave a few snacks as well.

You aren’t likely to see your leprechaun friend, but you will know he was there.  He will probably fix something around the house and he might even leave a coin or another small treat as a token of his appreciation.

For the Love of Books

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Without a doubt, my daughter’s favorite thing to do is read books. While I’d like to take all of the credit for her love of reading I know several things play a part. Being a high school teacher, I’m well aware of both the importance of reading and the growing disdain for books. More often than not, when a student doesn’t like to read, it’s because they never read at home. Literacy is such an important part of life and it’s important to begin teaching these skills at an early age.  Here are a few ways to help your child fall in love with books…

Read to them every single day. Hands down, this is the key to becoming a book lover. When kids have regular access and exposure to books, they are bound to be a reader for life.

Let them see you reading. We all know we should practice what we preach. If we want reading to be a priority in our child’s life, we have to make it a priority in ours. Whether you are reading a novel or a cookbook, point it out to your kiddo.

Take them to the library. It’s pretty hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store when you visit the library. With aisles and aisle of books, your child will be sure to find something he loves. Check with your local library for information about special programs and reading times.

Talk about books. This is something that is great for developing critical thinking skills. Ask your child about the book you last read while you’re in the car or eating dinner. See if they can remember what the book was about, what happened to the main character, etc.

Use books for other things. Sometimes, when we are playing with a book, we’re not actually reading it. Instead, we’re pointing things out, counting, and playing I Spy. “Addie, can you find the clouds?” “How many sheep are on this page?” What color is her shirt?” Etc.

Get into it. The more fun and crazy you are as a reader, the more your kiddo will like reading. Practice reading in different voices, add sound effects, sing part of the book instead, use props to tell the story, turn it into a performance!