Thursday, April 30, 2009

One more day to enter our contest to win $40!

Thanks to all the peeps who have email their contest posts to us! We love receiving all your notes and creative thoughts!
Remember all contest entries need to be received by 9am (CST), Friday, May 1st. We'll draw three random winners Friday morning!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hand Picked Pumpkin has just joined Twitter. Tweet with us @handpickedpmkn

Hand Picked Pumpkin is holding it's first contest!

What you’ll win: A $40 Hand Picked Pumpkin gift card.
How to win: Tell us about your favorite and most used article of baby clothing. Post a comment on your Facebook page, Blog or Twitter along with a reference or link to our contest. Then email us at with your entry or link to your entry.
Contest Rules: Three winners will be chosen at random on Friday, May 1st. We will use all posts and suggestions to determine our next signature style.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
- Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If you host a Hand Picked Pumpkin Trunk Show in May or June and buy one custom style, you will receive a second coordinating style for free!*

Hand pick the perfect summer outfit for your little one in the comfort of your own home!

Contact us today to book your show by phone, 708-524-1812 or email,

Trunk shows are available nationwide.
*this offer can not be combined with any other promotions and only applys when hosting a home trunk show

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Packing an eco-friendly lunch

I've spent more time thinking about how best to pack a Zero Waste lunch everyday.
Besides purchasing some small reusable food-storage containers I could also teach my kids to bring the zip lock bags home and we could wash and reuse them. I found this plastic bag dryer at Gaiam that looks like a good investment.
We currently wash and reuse a handful of our plastic zip lock bags but honestly have a hard time figuring out how to dry them in our small kitchen with limited counter top space. Having yet to figure out a good drying system, deters the effort. This compact inexpensive device made from sustainably harvested birch and ash woods looks like a great solution for $20.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back from vacation refreshed and reframed

I am back in Chicago after a four day retreat to California. I left on a good note, happy with life and work and excited to relax and soak up some sun. I packed Yvon Chouinard's (founder and owner of Patagonia) let my people go surfing, the education of a reluctant businessman for the plane. I checked it out of the library a bit on a whim, perhaps attempting to feel like I was getting some work done while on vacation. I'm bit compulsive like that. It is hard for me to completely relax.
I can't quite put into words how blissful I found this book. It is the inspiring story of true value-based man and his company. I hung on every page of this two hundred and sixty page autobiography filled with inspiring quotes and photography. Even took notes! I left town wondering about more trivial things like, if I should be on Twitter and have returned refocused on Hand Picked Pumpkin's original business plan: to provide a high-quality, creative and out of the box product, to be a valued-based company that enriches lives and leaves the world a better place.
On the surface, I would not label myself a lazy person. But after reading Chouinard's story, and examining my choices- both personal and professional- I know I can do so much more to improve the quality of life for future generations, be it taking conscious steps regarding the environment, education, nutrition or the built-environment.
For example, as I was packing my children's lunches this morning, each item in its own quart size zip lock bag which will be tossed in the garbage at school, it occurs to be I could simply stock up on a few small pieces of Tupperware which can be returned, washed and reused. One step, but if made by more, very significant.
I'm challenging myself and my company to be more conscious, and I challenge you to do the same.
"We are the people we have been waiting for." - Navajo Medicine Man

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apricot Honey Bran Cakes from Chef Stephanie Ito

We are hosting Easter Brunch on Sunday so I was super elated to read personal Chef Stephanie Ito's best thing I made this month would fit in perfectly with our menu. Here's what Stephanie has to say about her yummy Apricot Honey Bran Cakes:

Breakfast is without a doubt my favorite meal of the day, and I am always on the hunt for new brunch recipes. I especially love muffins and other baked goods for breakfast. I don’t think it’s really breakfast unless there is a bite of something sweet. (Even if that “something sweet” is a banana cut up on my cereal, which is my typical weekday breakfast.) On the weekends I often splurge on something slightly more decadent than my regular Flax Plus cereal.

These little cakes, baked in individual ramekins, are a delicious sweet treat for brunch, but they also contain lots of fruit in the form of dried apricots (feel free to substitute your favorite dried fruit – I have also used dried cherries with great results) as well as fiber from the oat bran, and a healthy 8 grams of protein. I like to serve them with scrambled eggs or yogurt and fruit. I think they are the best of both worlds – just like all the foods I try to bring to my clients – tasty, sweet, and moist while still providing vitamins and minerals essential to feeling good and staying healthy.

They only take 10 or 15 minutes to put together and another 15 to bake, so they can be ready and on the table quickly, just like muffins. But since they are baked individually they have a more elegant feel to them and I love feeling like I have a whole little cake to myself. These would be the perfect treat for an Easter brunch or Mother’s Day (of course someone other than the mother being honored needs to be in charge of making them!) or any of the other spring holidays coming up.

They keep for several days covered with plastic wrap either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I think they’re especially good leftover if you zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to warm them up again.

I hope you enjoy the spring treat! Happy eating!

Apricot Honey Bran Cakes
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 ½ cups diced dried apricots (about 7 ounces)
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup apricot nectar
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 1/3 ounces)
3/4 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan; place over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until apricots are plump. Remove from heat; cool.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, bran, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture.
Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through egg white) in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Gently fold in apricot mixture.
Spoon 1/2 cup batter into each of 7 (6-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our April Pumpkin of the Month

Here's Anna Sophia, our newest Pumpkin of the Month! Her mom Lisa included this note:
"The quality is great through multiple washings – the colors are still super bright and the fabric is soft but still sturdy. And for not having any snaps or closures, its still very easy to get on and off, which I definitely appreciate with a wiggly little one. Thanks for making a great product and I’ll definitely be buying another outfit for her – and more as gifts!"
Congratulations Anna Sophia and Lisa on receiving a $50 hpp gift certificate!