Friday, January 29, 2016

Straight from the Freezer - Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

There is something to be said for having food in your freezer so you can easily pull meals together.  I love to stock my freezer with pre-cooked beans (I cook dry beans weekly), and frozen vegetables.



I have found that the ability to pull items straight from the freezer helps me get a healthy meal on the table in no time!



Now, obviously, putting together freezer meals would save me a couple of extra steps on the day of the meal, however, I never seem to have a good block of time to put freezer meals together.



Often I will double a recipe, and throw a second meal in the freezer for later.  This most often happens when I make casseroles or macaroni and cheese.



One recipe I keep coming back to, however, is a pot pie.  This is a simple recipe to keep on hand for dinner.  Most often, I will make a vegetable pot pie.  We tend to not have a lot of meat in the house, which is a definite grocery savings.  However, around Thanksgiving I cook a second turkey.  The purpose for this is so that I can make a lot of turkey stock, have turkey soup, and put fully cooked turkey in the freezer for later.



Now, typically I will put together turkey pot pie in a ziploc bag, all ready to go, so all I would need to do is defrost the bag, and then stick it in a pie crust.  However, this past Thanksgiving I had a bit of an issue with the turkey stock that I made - as in the bowl broke and it leaked all over my fridge - and instead threw just the turkey breast in the freezer.



Last week I was looking for an easy meal, and remembered that I still had the turkey breast in the freezer, so I decided to make a turkey pot pie.  This was one altered by my kids.  They asked for green beans and peas to be the vegetables, so that is all that is in there, you could easily decrease the frozen veggies and put in a potato if you want!




Turkey Pot Pie

2 pie crusts
2 cups cubed turkey breast (can also use chicken)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen peas
Gravy
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock
  • 1/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Saute the onion in a 4 quart sauce pan in a little olive oil and salt over medium high heat until browned, remove and set aside.
Put the butter in the pot to melt over medium heat, when the butter is melted add the flour and use a whisk to mix it for 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock and poultry seasoning and whisk until thickened.
Add turkey, onion and frozen veggies.
Stir until combined.
Roll out one pie crust into a 9" pie plate.
Put the mixture into the pie plate.
Put the second pie crust over the mixture and cut some vent holes in the top.
Put in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees for about 35 minutes longer.
Pie is done when the top crust is browned and the gravy is bubbling a bit.

To make this easy meal complete, I served it on paper plates - because that was the kind of day this was.

You may want to place a cookie sheet under the pie, sometimes mine boil over, sometimes they do not.  It seems to change every time I make something that will bubble in the oven!



If you take the turkey out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge, this meal will come together in about 10 minutes, and then the baking time.  It is something my whole family loves, and I love that they are getting a lot of green veggies into their little bodies.

Do you have an easy, straight from the freezer meal?  I would love to hear it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

knitting and reading

I am happy to report that I have finished my one knitting project for the month!  It isn't the scarf that I started at the beginning of the month, it is the neck warmer/cowl that I started last week.


It may be a big surprise to most of you, but this only took me about two hours of knitting.  Obviously, it was not a large piece, or difficult, but the fact that I completed a project in two days time, at only two sittings, awesome!



I am also still knitting my scarf, and I am still enjoying the knitting and the pattern.  I forgot how long it takes to knit a scarf, but it is fun to sit and knit a few rows here and there, and I am definitely making progress.

My other crafting goal for the month is to make one other craft, whether it is something that I knit or sew or color, but I haven't started a second project yet...and we obviously only have a few days left in January (how did that happen?!), so I will have to think about that through this week and see if I can complete my crafting goal for this month or not!

As far as reading goes, last week I mentioned that I was going to start Girl Meets God and Spark Joy.  However, I didn't start either of those!  Instead I finished reading Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker, and then started reading The Choice by Nicholas Sparks since the movie is coming out soon.  I have a feeling I will be crying at the end, just like all the other Nicholas Sparks books!  

What are you working on this week?  Do you like to see movies after reading a book or before?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Family Management - How to get everyone on the Same Page

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

Family Management.  What do you think of when you hear that?  For a long time I thought of it as a one person job, mine.  I am a mom, and so I believed that it was my job to manage my family.  It was my responsibility to make sure that everyone does their part during the day, that we get to all of our appointments *mostly* on time, and that the house is *relatively* clean.

That is a lot of work for one person.

Over the years I have come to realize that instead of me managing my family, we need to all be on the same page; my husband, my children, and myself.


A couple years ago, I felt like my children were too small to be of much help when it came to family management.  But, now that Emma and Jack are a bit older at 7 and 5, they can be involved a lot more in the day to day management of the home.  Of course I still have a toddler underfoot, but for some reason it seems much more manageable than when Emma was that age, and Jack.  Maybe because Emma and Jack are older now, maybe because I have been through toddler-hood twice and know what to expect, maybe I am more relaxed; whatever it is, I am more prepared this time around.

Family, and home, management, it seems, falls on the mother’s shoulders.  And while I embrace that role, I want to make sure that I incorporate the rest of my family as well. 

Before we get to the how, let us address the why. 


Honestly, I get tired of telling everyone what to do.  Going over schedules, making sure we are on time, getting the house clean, school, all of it can be a bit overwhelming.  I have come to realize that it is not helping my family for me to tell them what to do.  I need to show them how to take responsibility for themselves, and their schedule.  Of course, that is more for my children than my husband…for the most part!

After I mentioned our busy schedule last week, I had some questions on how I organized everything.  I know that everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you.  But, when I was putting together my home management system, I researched like crazy and tried many ideas in order to come up with what I currently have.

I absolutely love organizing, and I especially love checklists.  Imagine my delight when my children decided that they equally loved checklists?!  No, seriously, I was incredibly happy that they wanted to follow a checklist.  That gives me such a relief.  If it is written down, and they can check a box, they do it.


I started out my new checklist idea when we started school last August.  The kids helped me make checklists for their school.  We didn’t use them over the past 2 months because we were on our long homeschool break (and then sick), but the kids found them a couple weeks ago, and they have been excited to use them everyday.

Knowing how they love checklists, I decided to look for a good chore chart for them. 

I always loved chore charts growing up.  I didn’t actually like the chores that went along with the chore charts, but I loved the chart itself. 


I looked but had trouble finding exactly what I wanted.  A lot of the pre-printed and magnetic chore charts had tons of stuff that I didn’t need, and they were missing some items that I wanted on the list.  I was incredibly happy when I found these custom checklist pages from the *ErinCondren website. 


What appealed to me about these specific checklist pages was that I could have them pre-printed with the tasks I felt were important, while it allowed for extra space below if there were other items I would need to include for the week.  I also like that the checklist pages are Monday-Sunday.  When I went to order them in December, they had disappeared from the website and when I talked to customer service they weren’t sure when or if they would have them in stock again.  However, I happened to check again two weeks ago, and there they were!  In stock!  Yay!

This will be the first week that we are using the individual checklists, but Emma and Jack are so excited about it.  I know it seems strange, but they have actually been talking about how they are going to start their checklists today, all weekend long.


The other part of getting everyone on the same page as far as family management goes, is a calendar. 

Now, I have said before, I love planners.  I may actually have too many calendars, but it keeps me on task, and so I will continue on with it.  I also have my home management binder, which has had a monthly calendar in it in the past in order to keep my husband up to date on all the appointments, sports practices, and other life events.


However, I realize that it is very unlikely that my husband is going to look in the home management binder to see what is on the calendar.  I don’t think he is the home management binder type…

I typically have a wall calendar, but I don’t necessarily put all of our info on it, because the boxes aren’t really large enough to fit everything in.


I was excited to find this calendar on Amazon.  It was exactly what I was looking for; a vertical calendar that has a place for everyone’s names.  It actually has space for 6 people, but since there are only 5 in my family currently, I am planning on using the last column for meal planning.  It also has a “things to do” list and a shopping list, each is perforated and can be detached from the calendar.  While I generally have a pad of paper that I make all of my grocery lists on, this list on the calendar will come in handy for my husband to write what he needs, or if someone randomly tells me something on the fly I can write it down here and then transfer it to my master list for whenever I run errands.

I am pretty excited about this new family management center.  Of course it isn’t the entire management system that I use, but it is what will connect the rest of the family to what we have going on.


Do your kids like checklists?  How do you manage everyone’s schedules?

*If you sign up for an account at ErinCondren.com through my link you will receive a $10 off coupon code e-mailed to you for you to use on your first purchase.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker - Review

I finally finished Jen Hatmaker's new book For the Love.  It was awesome!  I love how down to earth Jen is in her writing.  I love her passion and conviction, it is refreshing and encouraging.




From the Publisher:


The popular writer, blogger, and television personality reveals with humor and style how Jesus' extravagant grace is the key to dealing with life's biggest challenge: people.
The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning first with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, live for, go to church with, don't like, don't understand, fear, struggle with, compare ourselves to, and judge. People are the best and worst thing about the human life.
Jen Hatmaker knows this all too well, and so she reveals how to practice kindness, grace, truthfulness, vision, and love to ourselves and those around us. By doing this, For the Love leads our generation to reimagine Jesus' grace as a way of life, and it does it in a funny yet profound manner that Christian readers will love. Along the way, Hatmaker shows readers how to reclaim their prophetic voices and become Good News again to a hurting, polarized world.
When I first picked up For the Love, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I try not to read too much about books before I read books.  I like to experience the whole book without preconceived notions.  That may not have served me well in this case!

I think that I was expecting a long memoir, instead what I found were short stories and encouraging words aimed at moms and women.  I enjoyed all the writings in this book, although I wasn't entirely sure what the purpose was through the majority of the book.  I think I was mainly expecting it to be similar to the previous books of hers that I had read - 7 and Interrupted.  It was completely different than what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

At the end of the book when she started writing as if twitter and hashtags were around back in the 80's and 90's, I laughed out loud and renewed my love for hair bands.  

Overall, it was a great book that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for encouragement in their daily life and walk with God.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in return for my review.  The opinions are all my own.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Smart Ways to Melt the Winter Blues!

I am a member of the U.S. Cellular #BetterMoments Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular, but all opinions are my own!

Mother Nature has reared her ugly head this weekend on the East Coast!  How many of you are dealing with a lot of snow this weekend?  Somehow, living in Maine, the storm missed us.  Now, don’t think that we are in the clear snow-wise this winter, I am sure there will be many storms coming up that will bury us. 


Finding ways to make it through the “winter blues” are always at the forefront of my mind!  I am happy to partner with U.S. Cellular this month as we explore some *smart* ways to fight the winter blues.  I love my iPhone 6 and am happy that there are so many apps that can occupy my time when I am snowed in.  I am also happy that there are some great apps for my kids to use, when they are unable to get outside, but have already played with every toy we own in the house and need a bit of a mental break as well.  Don’t forget to check out the free parent/child agreement that helps set parameters for your child and cell phone usage.


There are so many apps out there that you can use, whether it is for a game (a recent U.S. Cellular survey showed that 61% of us use our phones to play games) or to learn something new.  Here are some of my favorites:

Classic Games – Monopoly, The Game of Life, and Yahtzee




Brain-stimulating – Elevate, Fit Brains Trainer

If you can’t be out in the snow – Make a Snowman, and Snowman Maker Plus

I know that once the snow stops, the cleanup begins, but we all need a break from all that snow, and playing a few games is never a bad thing!


Are you digging out this weekend?  Did the snow miss you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

knitting and reading

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting this blog!

On Monday I talked a little bit about trying to get into a good winter rhythm.  I am always trying to adjust our daily rhythm throughout the year.  I want the kids to be enjoying their day, and I want to have margin for what I feel I need to accomplish in the day as well.


I have this need for more seasonal living.  I want to fully enjoy each month of the year, even the bitter cold winter months, where I feel like I can’t leave the house.  So I pulled out an old book that I love – The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule. 


I have been making good progress on my scarf, but with my goal of making more in 2016, I realized I needed a faster project if I am to finish my one finished knit item for January.  I decided on the Wavy Wintery Weather Cowl in The Rhythm of Family.


It is a really pretty pattern, and is knitting up quite quickly.  This is not one of those big, double wrap type cowls.  It is more of an actual neck warmer that you can wear outside to play in the snow.  I am planning on giving this to Emma.

I finished The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a few days ago, and plan to dive fully into de-cluttering today.  It was an interesting book that is for sure.


If you saw my last PopSugar Must Have unboxing video, you will know that I received the follow up to Marie Kondo’s book, called Spark Joy.  I’m looking forward to reading that! 


The next book on my list, however, is Girl Meets God.  I mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but haven’t started it yet.  It looks really interesting though.

I will be finishing up the cowl this morning, and then hopefully figure out what my other craft for the month will be, we are definitely getting down to the wire!


What are you working on this week?  Any new books that have made your book list recently?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

To Be In the House or Out of the House - That is the Question!

Emma and Jack are both playing basketball this year.  It is Jack’s first year playing a sport; he seems to like it OK, but not as much as Emma.  Emma loves to play sports.  I think it is more because she loves the social time with her friends, but she also enjoys running around as well.


Emma started playing sports when she was 5.  I remember thinking that it seemed so early to start the kids in extracurricular activities, but when I showed up to that first soccer game early on Saturday morning, I realized we were actually a couple years late to the game – kids start soccer at 3 around here.

Since that year, Emma has played soccer, basketball, and field hockey.  She has enjoyed them all.  But, this is the first season where we have had two kids in sports at the same time.


It is challenging.  Emma has practice during the week, and then games on Saturdays, while Jack has his practices on Sundays.  Add in church and co-op, library trips and regular errands, and we have a lot going on outside of the home, and especially on the weekends when our whole family has the opportunity to be together.

As homeschoolers, I often hear about socialization, although I do not think that my kids have trouble making friends or being in social situations; I do still feel that pull to overcompensate because my kids are not in a school all day with their peers.

Several years ago I found the blog FIMBY.  It was a breath of fresh air; a homeschool family that loved spending time together out in nature.  It was something I wanted for my own family, but was unsure how to start with a newborn Jack and a 2 year old Emma.  They were hikers, and backpackers, and we were not even close to being in a spot where we felt like we could do that, but it was something to aspire to.

Fast forward several years, and instead of being out in nature on the weekends, we are at sports games and practices.  Now, that isn’t a bad thing, it is a different thing.


In the back of my mind, however, I see how difficult it is to keep us all together.  We can’t have family dinner every night because Matt is rushing off to practice with Emma.  I have missed some of Emma’s basketball games because Lucy was sick.  I don’t like that.  I want our family to have that together time, and sometimes I feel like we are going in so many different directions, it is hard to regroup.

Is this normal?  Is this how families typically are when they have multiple kids in multiple activities?


We have narrowed it down to one activity per child per season, for the most part.  There was the season of the Christmas play at church that Emma was also a part of, and took her and Matt away every Friday night from September through the weekend before Christmas. 

Now, I am not saying that what we do is right or wrong.  It just feels different to me as the kids get older.  Perhaps I am just trying to hold onto my little ones as long as possible.

What is the answer though?  I certainly do not know!  I sometimes wonder if having our kids in sports and other extracurricular activities at such a young age is really needed.  The kids have fun, which I like, but I don’t like the busyness of it all.

Why am I thinking about this right now?  Well I recently re-read a post on Fimby that reminded me of what my intent was when the kids were smaller.  It is a post about choosing a family activity instead of team sports or other activities that would take the kids out of the home.  It is a really great read, with a lot of good information to ponder, and lays out most of my thoughts in a much better way than I have here.


What are your thoughts?  Do your kids participate in a lot of extracurricular activities?  Is it stressful for you, or are you able to easily go with the flow?  I could use some tips!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Rhythm - Why We Need One and How to Create It

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

I had this ideal thought of January.  As soon as January arrives, I will be back into a winter rhythm.  I will have the kids back into a school routine, and we will all be able to slow down.

I’m sure that you realize this is not what happened at all.  Instead, we dealt with sickness the first two weeks in January, our return to homeschooling has been incredibly slow, and we have been go-go-going every weekend since Thanksgiving.

I realize that having two kids in sports that have practices and games on different days throughout the week might have something to do with this.


January is becoming a month that is not slow and drawn out, instead it is moving faster than I anticipate, and all of the change that I want to take place during this month is not completed on my time line.

My word of the year is action but I don’t feel as though I have had time to put any of the intentions I have into practice.

That is where creating a winter rhythm comes in.

I realized that our day to day needs a re-boot.  The kids school schedule needs to be adjusted.  We need to have defined blocks of time for quiet time, for rest, for reading, for play, for chores.

Why am I hesitating?  Well, I want everything in order and perfect before we can put our perfect rhythm into practice, of course!

Obviously, that is not realistic.  So let us move on to plan B.

We need to have a daily rhythm, if only to give my kids an idea of “what comes next.”  And to save me from constantly answering at what time they can do x, y, and z.

I often need to remind myself that my kids are 7, 5, and 1.  This means that my rhythm needs to be fluid, and able to change.  I would love to be able to have our schedule down to the minute – I love to plan, however, in my experience, that does not work for my kids.  No matter how hard I tried getting my kids on a regular schedule, it never stuck.  So I moved towards a rhythm, but that rhythm is adjusted seasonally depending on what is going on in our home.

This winter I plan to do a whole-house purge – it is part of the “organize my life” theme I am following this year.  I want my kids to participate in this, and that causes some changes to our rhythm.

I mentioned back in August that as soon as we started school, Lucy decided she did not want to take a morning nap anymore.  It has been a daily guessing game to figure out when she will go down for a nap.  But, for the past couple of weeks she has been pretty consistent (which of course means now it will change!) with an afternoon nap most days. 

With all the busyness, and the jumbled baby nap times, plus trying to do the whole house purge while homeschooling, well you can see that we need a new rhythm.

But how can we get there?

First I had to evaluate what I am truly trying to accomplish during this season. 

When I look at all that I want to do with my kids and school, it is overwhelming, to me and to them.  There are days that my daughter most definitely does not want to do school, and wants to play all day.  Trying to find a balance between what I think she needs to accomplish while still allowing her the freedom to be seven is quite the challenge.

I can easily identify with the “school at home” crowd, with charts and desks and a school room all set up – I loved setting up my desk and “playing school” when I was young.  But, at the same time I can also identify with unschoolers, letting my kids follow their interests.  That is quite the predicament, and quite the span of educational philosophies to meld together.

When I see these homeschooling needs, along with my own desire to de-clutter and organize my house, I can see that our rhythm is going to be a little different than what is considered normal, and that is ok, because it is only a seasonal rhythm!

Once I evaluate my needs and my kids’ needs during this season I am able to make some changes in our rhythm, and understand what comes next.

My plan for this season is block scheduling, and attempting to fit our “school” time in while the baby is napping, whenever that may be.  There will be more audiobooks, and science videos.  More playing outside since we have a lot of snow, and a lot of family de-cluttering.

This week will be a lot of de-cluttering of the kitchen – it definitely needs a complete reorganization.  Also, I am going to see if the afternoon nap continues for Lucy, if it does, we may be able to dig into the rhythm I have in my head.  I also have some new to-do charts from *Erin Condren coming in the mail this week for the kids which I hope will work for our rhythm, and giving the kids an idea of what comes next in our day.  Although we don’t hold to specific times for doing activities, there is a general progression of items that the kids like to check off.

My true desire for this season is to hold on and enjoy the ride, and then to look forward to a *hopefully* quiet spring with less running around.


Do you feel a change in rhythm as the seasons change?  What are your strategies for making it through a busy season?

*If you sign up for an account through this link, you will receive a $10 off your first purchase code e-mailed to you.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Soup is the Recipe for a Cold Day

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting this blog!

I love soup in the winter.  I think there is something so comforting about curling up with a hot bowl of soup and some homemade bread, especially on a very cold day. 


We had such a mild November and December, I wasn’t really in the mood for soup all that much, which is funny because I usually will make a big pot of soup every week.  However, winter has definitely arrived, and it is COLD!

January is always a slim month when it comes to groceries for us.  We spend a lot of money around Christmas, for a big Christmas Eve party, then Christmas Day and even New Year’s.  But, once January comes along, we need to back off on the expenses, and one place that we are able to cut back is groceries.


Soup is an inexpensive and healthy option after all of the indulgence of the holidays.  And it is something that I want to get back in the habit of making weekly.

I rarely ever will follow a recipe for soup.  Instead I will throw a bunch of ingredients together and call it good.  Once in a while I come up with a soup my family really enjoys.  That was the case this week.


I ended up making a vegetable soup on Sunday, and my husband asked me to make it again on Tuesday, so obviously it was good!

Vegetable Soup

1 32oz box of chicken broth (I use Pacific Organic)
1 sweet onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz frozen green beans
8 oz fresh spinach
½ tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 TBSP coconut oil (or whatever oil you have on hand)

  • Put onions, garlic and carrots into the pot and sprinkle with half of the salt and all the red pepper flakes, sauté on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.  
  • Add sweet potatoes, stir for 1 minute then add chicken broth.  
  • Turn heat down and simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, green beans, and spinach and the rest of the salt.  
  • Simmer another 10 minutes.  
  • Serve with a little bit of shredded parmesan cheese and your favorite crusty bread.


I split this up into a bunch of Ziploc containers for lunches this week.

Do you have a favorite soup recipe?  Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

knitting and reading

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting this site!

I have been thinking about my knitting and reading goals a lot the past couple of weeks.  I am really pleased with my "make more" monthly goal, although I already feel like I am behind!


Last week I said that I was planning on knitting one item and making another something - whether that is a sewing project, needlework, even coloring in one of those adult coloring books.  My priority is to complete two projects.

I don't have a list of projects that I plan to make, instead focusing on what I am working on right now.  Right now, it is a scarf using the lovely yarn I received from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.


I haven't had an enormous amount of time to work on it, but I have made some progress and I am pleased with how it is turning out.  Perhaps I should take the advice of one of my readers last week and make it into a cowl by sewing up the end!  That would certainly make it a faster project.  It is a fun pattern though, and I am enjoying knitting a few rows here and there.

My book this week - well this is one that seemed to be all over the place last year.  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I am almost done with it.  I have to say it is a very quick read, which is nice.  Although some of what she says makes no sense to me (saying thank you to my clothes before getting rid of them), it is definitely motivational.  It has sparked a new resolve in me to purge my house.

I talked about doing a whole house purge in my post Welcome to a Brand New Year of Loving Life, so I was already planning to purge my home.  But, this book has made me reconsider some of the items that I already had put out of my head as definite keepers.  I really would like to evaluate all the items in my home to find out if they spark joy, or if they really do not need to be kept.  Everything from old wedding invitations to text books that we really do not need to keep, to old notebooks that I have half filled out with lists and other random information.

I'm definitely excited!  Now, to convince my kids to join me, that will be the next step!

What are you working on this week?  Do you have a favorite organizing book?

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Changing Landscape of Marketing - Influencer Marketing for Dummies

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your support of this blog!

Marketing.  What does that word bring to mind for you?  Is it spreads in magazines or newspapers?  Commercials that interrupt your favorite show?  Or  the much more enjoyable Super Bowl commercials, perhaps?

What about Influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the art and science of engaging people who are influential online to share brand messaging with their audiences in the form of sponsored content.

As a blogger, Influencer Marketing is something I know well from the influencer side, but not so much from the business perspective.


I was happy to have the opportunity to read the new book Influencer Marketing for Dummies by Kristy Sammis, Cat Lincoln and Stefania Pomponi.

As a blogger I am constantly trying to figure out what a brand is looking for when wanting to partner for different types of campaigns.  Are they looking strictly at numbers?  Are they more concerned about community when sharing their product? 

This book lays it all out for you.  It shows how brands are able to utilize the changing landscape of marketing.

As a consumer, I know that I am always looking for what type of online presence a brand has.  I will spend time researching online, reading reviews, looking at ratings – but they often are on blogs, or on social media, and not directly from the brand.  Seeing an ad on TV or in a magazine doesn’t typically elicit the same emotion as hearing the personal story of someone using a product.

Reading through this book, I am able to see how important an online presence is for a brand.  It is also nice to see how it works from the other side. 

Influencer Marketing for Dummies is a great reference manual.  It lays out every facet of influencer marketing, from the types of influencers, to what makes up a great campaign, to choosing a hashtag for your campaign.

I think this book is great for small business owners, and people trying to build a brand with the help of social media, as well as non-traditional forms of marketing.  Also, if you are a blogger who is looking at the why behind campaigns, and how a company thinks when they go into a social media campaign, this book is a wonderful reference!

Do you think of yourself as an influencer? 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Personal Reflection on my Word of the Year

Upstream Field Guide

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We are officially ending the first full week of 2016.  It seems a little surreal to me.  I’m not sure why.  I think the fact that up until Wednesday my kids had been giving me a run for my money in the sickness department may have had something to do with it!  Add in the start of homeschool after our very long homeschooling break and it ended up being a busy week!


I haven’t had nearly the time I expected to sit down and work on my goals.  You know what though?  That is OK.  2016 is a full year, and just because I can cram my goal making into a week doesn’t mean that I necessarily should.

I read a great post by Jeff Goins today called The Slow Start Solution to Conquering New Year’s Resolutions.  It was just what I needed to read.

I love setting goals, it is a highlight for me, and while I talk about my big yearly goals in January, I tend to sit down and think about goals at the beginning of each new season.

Think.

That is the key word, think.  I love to think about goals.  I love to think about how I want my life to be, I love to dream.  It is something I can easily spend hours on.  In fact, I think so much that I often sabotage myself.

While thinking up goals is important, not having the action steps to complete those goals is essentially failure.

Last year, my word of the year was intentional.  It was a perfect word for the year I had in mind.  After having a new baby at the end of 2014, I needed to be intentional about spending time with my  older kids, about getting myself healthy again, to figuring out homeschooling with two kids and a baby.

I spent a lot of time getting to know myself.  I took Tsh Oxenreider’s awesome Paddling Upstream course.  I wanted to dig deep, to really know why and how I tick.  I was being intentional with my time, with figuring out life.  It was quite life changing actually, to know why I do certain things, why I think a certain way.  If you haven't taken this e-course, I definitely recommend it.  And January is a perfect time to start!

It was a year of a lot of introspection.

Then I started thinking about my word for this year.  After such a great 2015, how could I make 2016 even better?  Not to say that 2015 was without challenges, obviously there were challenges.

This brings me to my word of the year for 2016 – Action.

After I chose that word, I went to search on my friend Google to see what I could come up with.  One of the first quotes that I saw:

Action always beats intention.

It is interesting that that quote was the first one that popped out at me.

I have written before that I love to take my time with goals.  Even at the beginning of this post I talked about my love for thinking.  But, no matter how intentional I was this last year, I realized that I needed to be the one to also take action.

When I think about my life, I know that if I don’t work on certain things, they will not get done.  I do not have a magic cleaning fairy at my home that will keep everything in order (if you do, could you please loan her to me for a couple of days?!).  If I don’t schedule time for self-care, I don’t take care of myself.

Picking action as my word of the year could be a recipe for disaster.  I have so many things running through my head that I want to change, I always do.  But, narrowing those things down and making them into concrete goals with action steps is going to be a priority for me this year.

My first action of 2016 will be to finish writing out my goals for the year.  I have already shared a few home goals that I have, as well as some crafting goals as well.  I am still working on my book list for 2016, and my personal goals.  I hope to share those soon.

Overall, I think that action is a perfect word to go with my theme of the year – organize my life.  Clearly that theme will take a lot of action on my part, and I hope that you are going to jump in with me and enjoy the ride.


Do you pick a guiding word for the year?  Are you slow to set goals for the year, or were you finished on December 31st?