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Frozen Crock Pot Meals & Labels

Charlie Grace is set to arrive in 8 short weeks, and we still have a TON to do to prep. We haven't even started working on the nursery. That's a big problem considering we moved into this house and gutted it completely, so the room set to be a nursery has gross peeling (red!) paint and sub floors. Up until this point it's been used as storage and we've KIND OF started cleaning it out, but it still has all that random crap you have no clue what to do with and every time I walk in there to try and make progress, I just turn around and walk back out. [Update! The Nursery is now COMPLETE! Check it out here!!]

Is anybody as overwhelmed by this site as I am? SHOO! I knew I needed to do SOMETHING productive to prepare for this baby, so I decided to get my Betty Crocker on and prep some meals for once this little girl arrives. I knew that if I didn't have a plan of some sort, we'd be living off of eggs and frozen pizza for weeks. :)

So. I did a bunch of pinning and found some recipes that sounds simple yet delicious. :)

Even if you're not pregnant, I highly recommend taking some time to prep some crock pot meals. Having meals prepared would be especially awesome around those busy times of year like the beginning of the school year, holidays, or when the kids' sports schedules are a bit out of control!

I had so much fun making these cards. Each one has basic instructions for cooking, ideas for serving, and a sweet little encouraging note or scripture verse for an added boost in the midst of whatever chaos is ensuing for that day.

Several of the labels are duplicated because I knew we'd like to have more than one of that particular meal on stand by. I also changed some of the recipes just slightly to suit my own preferences, so don't be afraid to make them your own! Below is the list of the recipes I chose, with hyperlinks to the original blog posts. You can get the labels here. [Update: I've been adding my "star rating" to each dish so you know what I think of it! Rating is out of 5 stars].

Asian Wings [3 stars]
Paleo Chili [4 stars]
Italian Sausage [1 star]
Taco Meat: [5 stars]
Just prep with your favorite recipe & freeze!
Spaghetti Sauce: 
Just brown ground beef with onions and/or spices and add your favorite jars of sauce!

I pinned several other ideas, but these are the ones that were most appealing to me. If you'd like to check out my board with other crock pot ideas, you can see it here.

A few tips on prepping freezer meals:
- Consider double bagging, especially if you're using cheap bags!
- Use a straw to suck the air out of the bag & make it air tight
- Use packing tape to attach labels
- Mark the bags with dates & use within 6 months
- Pre-cook bacon

What do you think? Find anything useful? If you use my labels, or are inspired at all by this post, I'd love to see it! Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram and let me know how it goes!

Getting in Go Mode

Last week started the #TPTSellerCallenge & it really was the motivation I needed to get my act together! I’ve been spending a ton of time researching, planning, dreaming, & working to take my TPT business to the next level.

This past year, I’ve seen growth in my sales, which has been super encouraging and affirming. However, I haven’t put nearly enough work into my store or business so I’m confident that if I can stay in GO MODE, that I can see even better growth this year!

Today I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve learned and the changes I’ve made this week. I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself for the effort thus far! And since putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard?) is such an important part of my reflection process, I decided that I might as well go ahead and share this past week's checklist with you! Of course, these tasks are new this week, so there’s no proof of their success YET, but I have faith ;)

Devising a Plan
1. Business planner sheets: I first got the idea from Krista Wallden, but apparently it's a big deal thing that I've totally missed the boat on for two years. SO! It's time for me to have one. I've been perusing them on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers and even had a couple of awesome ladies on Facebook send me theirs to check out. I decided that for now I would make my own. This one is a test run. As I use it and work through this month, I've been making notes on additions to make to this one, or what to look for if I decided to use/purchase someone else's. You can get this one here.

2. Setting Goals: Week 2 of the TPT Seller Challenge was #DareToDream. I started with this little ditty and a blog post that really got me thinking. I now have a long list of goals including specific goals for income, blogging, organizing myself, updating my store and platforms, completing products, planning giveaways, and more! A "goals sheet" (or cheesy dream board) is also on the list of goals.
3. Using Google Drive instead of a bunch of papers. I tend to have lists and notes everywhere. So, I've started a few documents on my Drive (which I'm addicted to) so that I can keep a running list of blog ideas (and even start drafts for them), product goals, etc. That way I have everything in one place while I figure out what I'm doing about a business planner. 

4. Peruse My Store and list improvements needed to products, descriptions, etc. I'm not going to lie: It's incredibly overwhelming to look at my store and see what a hot mess it is. The to do list there will take me a year to complete. Just off the top of my head I need: updated looks in most of my products, to design a cohesive TOU & credits page for each of the products, to update all of my product descriptions to include links to similar products, to add common core standards, to remember to update my featured products (yes - I had St. Patrick's day stuff up until yesterday), and SO. MUCH. MORE. That'll be fun...

Getting my Instagram on 5. Set up & Start Posting: I started my Instagram Page last week & so far I. LOVE. IT. It's my favorite social media platform, HANDS DOWN.

6. Follow & Comment: My first step in my new IG world was to make some friends in the neighborhood! So I have been searching by hashtags and checking out what's happening with the peeps on the block. I have been intentional about liking and commenting on several posts so that my new friends know I'm there. :)

7. Start a List of Hashtags: I've definitely learned that hashtagging is where it's at. I love this part because I'M A HASHTAG NERD (hence the blog name). The tricky part is keeping up with all of them! If I switch between my #TeacherMom and personal IG, I lose the hashtags that have been stored in my phone. Therefore, I've started a list of hashtags to help me remember ones I could be using. This is key, guys. Use the right hashtags and PEOPLE WILL FIND YOU! :)

8. Instagram Webinar: Today I attended Hilary Rushford's webinar on how to double your instagram following. It was very informative! I learned about branding & marketing myself, making my images more appealing for followers, and so much more! If you're interested in this free webinar, you can sign up here. I'm not sure how long she's offering this, so hurry over! :)
9. Widget on My Blog: See the Instagram image slide show in the upper right, there? Added that this week. Whatdya think? If you want one, you can grab it here.  

10. Canva: Oh Canva. My new BFF. No more spending hours trying to access my inner graphic designer. I'm pretty sure she's not there. Instead, one of my new FB friends introduced me to THIS MOST FABULOUS EVER WEBSITE that basically creates professional looking images FOR YOU. What more do you need in life? This was my first try ever and I was hecka excited that it took me less than 10 minutes (and that included registering for the sight and playing around a bit).

11. Takeoff: I did a little bit of research (and by that I mean I asked once on FB and then read this article) and decided to try Takeoff. It's an app for scheduling Instagram posts! LOVE! Similar to Tailwind, you can either choose a specific time to post your photo, or you can let Takeoff alert you when its a statistically beneficial time to post. The one downside is that Takeoff can't actually post for you - it just alerts you that it's time to post. BUT if you plan in advance you already know your photo, caption, hashtags, etc. You just have to hit go!

Add caption

Upping My Pinterest Game
12. Tailwind: How did EVERYONE know about Tailwind except me?! I've been told so many times how important Pinterest is, but I've had no idea how to make the most of it! Tailwind is the answer to that. I'm so excited to see how this plays out. Even my husband was impressed by the tutorial and features. 

13. Commit to Learning More: I signed up for this webinar in July that I'm super excited about! My husband also sent me this link with a bunch of webinars I'm hoping to catch up on! This morning I did some reading over coffee... I'm thinking AM coffee and some webinars/youtube could be a good little tradition!

14. Add A Pin It Hover Button: There are several ways for readers to pin straight from your blog, but why not make it a little bit easier? I added these this cute little heart button for readers to pin my blog photos straight to their boards. Interested in learning more about this? I used her tutorial. Wanna see how it works? Hover over the photo below and click on the heart to pin this post to your own Pinterest board! (This doesn't work on mobile).

Updating the Blog
15. New Social Media Buttons: Since I added Instagram to my repertoire, I decided I would need a button too. I'm having a biiiiit of an issue with the install process, but no worries! It's coming soon! I also added this handy dandy bloglovin' box! HOW DID I NOT HAVE AN OPTION TO FOLLOW ME BEFORE?! That's bad blogging right there. I also signed up for Bloglovin'. Welcome to the 21st century, Denise.

16. Nix that Obnoxious FB Popup: Once upon a time I thought it was a good idea to have one of those FB widgets that pop up and want you to like their page before you continue to the blog. No offense if you have one... to each their own. But I've officially decided to spare my readers (pretending like I have any) that extra step.

17. New TPT Widget: Over there. To the right. See how you can see my products? How shmancy am I?! That was a new addition. To get one, go to your TPT Dashboard, and under "Marketing & Promotions" click the link that says, "Download a Widget for Your Blog." Easy peasy.

Networking 18. Joined Several Facebook Pages: I went through and looked for Facebook pages that I could learn from and connect with other teachers. To me this is particularly important becuase I'm a SAHM/WAHM and no longer in a community of teachers on a daily basis. I joined four or five, but my favorite right now is TPT Social Media Strategies.

19. Perused Blogs and Instagram Pages: What better way to learn & be inspired than by other teachers? I mean, that's LITERALLY what they're there for, right? So I've spent lots of time looking at blogs and Instagram pages, checking out what they're doing well, what they're posting about, what I like about their style, etc. It's been very motivating! We have some ROCKSTAR teachers out there!

20. Ask Questions Galore: I have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. I feel like I've been overloading the Facebook groups. But I'm getting great answers!! I've learned so much and MOST of the inspiration from this post has come from Facebook in some way!

And that's my list! What about you? What are you doing to get your business going?! I love the community of teachers we have here, connected through TPT. How awesome is that? I'd love to hear what you're doing to get into "Go Mode!" Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram, or just comment below!

Playroom Labels Freebie

I like organization. A. LOT. But it's an, "Oooh! Let's make super cute labels, buy a bunch of bins and spend 5 hours organizing but then never ever bother to keep up with the system" kind of love. It's the thought that counts, right?

We've been working on renovating and finishing the playroom for over a year. I'm almost ready for my playroom reveal, so stay tuned! However, this little project was so much fun, and I had so many compliments, that I thought I would share the love & fun.

 For now, I've only got 6 bins that we use in our playroom. But I plan to keep adding them as the toy collection grows. I didn't know how it would go over, but Beckett (19 months) likes putting things away where they go, so as of now, we haven't had a problem keeping the toys separated!

I love these bins from Walmart. They fit PERFECTLY into the Cube Shelves from Target. We just put the lids in storage and voila! I like that they are sturdy plastic instead of the traditional fabric cubes that are made for these. We also have a larger, matching bin we use as a toy box. [PS. I looked EVERYWHERE online to link these bins for you, but this weird site is the only place online that even acknowledged the little scan numer. It's a conspiracy.]

To prep these labels, I simply printed them out on computer paper, laminated them with my at home laminator, and used modge podge to glue them directly to the plastic bin. I love how secure they seem to be. We've had them on for about a month with no problems.

What do you think? Can you make use of my little project? If you like these labels, you can grab them here. Make sure to share your finished project & tag me on Facebook or Instagram!

Daring to Dream

This week is Week 2 of the #TPTSellerChallenge and I am so thrilled and grateful to be a part of it! This week the challenge is to blog about our DREAMS for TPT. This is such a neat challenge because it encouraged me to really sit down and think about what I want out of my TPT business. I knew instantly that my dreams would revolve around my family.

My dream has always been to be a Stay at Home Mommy. When Brian and I first got married, we buckled down and focused on paying off our mountain of debt. Thanks to Dave Ramsey, we are able to be 100% debt free (with the exception of our house), so when I got pregnant, we felt comfortable with me quitting my job & staying home with Beckett.  It's been two years since I left the classroom for good. Beckett is now 19 months old, Charlie Grace will be here in August, and I'm ready to focus on TPT and make it work for my family & my dreams!

My dreams:

Find balance: being a full time SAHM is very rewarding, but finding a balance between enjoying this time with my kiddos, keeping up with wife & mom duties, and making the most of TPT is a challenging one. I tend to either let TPT fall to the wayside and ROCK the rest, or spend endless hours on TPT and neglect my kiddo and home. I'd like to figure out a way to balance them all!

PAY THE MORTGAGE: I'd like to generate enough income to make a significant contribution to our family, like paying the mortgage!

TRAVEL THE WORLD: Before I got married and had kids, travel was my number 1 expense & priority. I've been to Austria, Africa, a few islands in the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, and LOTS of places state side. I would like to be able to continue traveling internationally, and take my family (or at least my husband) with me! Next on my list is Southeast Asia. 

FOSTER KIDS: Fostering kids has always been a dream. One day, my kids will all be in school. However, I would like to continue to stay home full time and spend my energy running a loving home, including welcoming & embracing foster kiddos. 

build a full-time business:I love TPT. I love seeing progress and having something to be proud of (outside of my family). I love seeing my hard work make a difference in teachers' classrooms and in our family income. I would like to build this business to more of a "full time" job than a side project I work on when I have time.