413c820bb21cd09a23535c140057f83729ced692af2597b84f .post-body img { max-width:1000px; height:auto; } Friday We're In Love Google

Friday, December 09, 2016

Easy, Unique, and Fully Customizable Holiday Cards in a Hurry!


You know that family picture that just brings a smile to you face every time you look at it? You can be having the roughest day, even with a family member (ahem, toddler), and that picture puts an instant smile on your face and reminds you how much you love those people you share a residence with! I hoarded our favorite picture from our anniversary photo shoot because it just was so special, and when Thanksgiving came I decided it was time to share it. Around the same time I started thinking about holiday cards and even though it's a few months old and my baby is a lot bigger, I just knew it was the one I wanted to share to convey my love and feelings during the holiday season.

I wish I was a better designer, better at crafts, and DIYs were more my forte, but I am one that usually needs to outsource and my hopes for one-of-kind items don't always come to fruition. I'm good at having visions and hopes, and I feel like my career has helped me to recognize good design, but it's still something I leave to the professionals. So this year when I had that unique silhouette image with coloring that's different than your traditional holiday card, I knew I needed to turn to a place with really amazing designs to do the image and my photographer justice!

Last year we teamed up with Minted for holiday cards, and I'm so happy that we did again this year! Their unique offerings and gorgeous glitter foil was just the perfect thing to showcase my favorite image from 2016 in a Christmas greeting card.


They have the coolest tool on their website where you can upload the image you're thinking of using and you can preview every design with your image in it while browsing. I mean we're talking time saver of the year, and they literally have thousands of choices and color combinations to create your perfect card. This unique webtool made my former web development project manager geek out big time, it is honestly one of the greatest things I've ever seen on a website!

And on top of that, once you've made your perfect card there's so many options to really make your cards stand out as something unique and beautiful while saving you time and hassle! I love that you can get postage that's customized and matches your cards. You can even put on image of your own on there if you want to! I was a sucker for glitter foil this year, which barely won out of rose gold foil, and it just accented the darker image so well.

As someone with terrible hand-writing, I love that I can get printed addresses for free, with my return address beautifully printed to look like writing too. And once again, it matches the theme of my card for an overall really unique and really pretty way to send a modern greeting card.

So even someone like me with a vision of what they want, and even on those years I'm without a vision, Minted has so many amazing designs and high quality paper options to choose from that they can I find my perfect card in no time! And speaking of no time, from start to finish it was only about five days to get our cards without any express selections. They even have an awesome selection of New Year's cards if you want to go that route! And cards are 10%-15% right now, depending how many you order, so you can get cheap holiday cards that look amazing without compromising quality! So if you're on the fence and realizing you may need your cards quickly, I can't recommend Minted enough! 
Family photo by Anne Marie Turley, If you still need family photos and you're in Phoenix I'd so check her out! She always exceeds our expectations and comes up with creative poses like new favorite picture that always blow us away!

*We received product in exchange for this post, but our love of their cards and my obsession with their website is all my own!  
*This post contains affiliate links 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

One Meal Now, One Meal Later: Healthy Crock Pot Enchilada Soup


I love good food that's at least mostly from scratch, but I hate spending all my time in the kitchen. I started trying freezer meals when I had my first child, and found some are amazing time savers, and some, well, taste like the freezer. 
In the One Meal Now, one Meal Later series I share my tried-and-true freezer meals that taste as good the second time around as they do the first! 


This one is such a winner! When you find something that's a clean eat and diet-friendly that tastes amazing and freezes incredibly well, you're almost tempted to freeze three bags of the stuff! I love enchilada soup, I love slow cooker enchilada soup, but I hate using the ultra-processed enchilada sauce you typically find in a can, and only do so when I'm really short on time or it is the only option. This recipes completely cuts it out and gives a healthy version of this favorite!

SLOW COOKER ENCHILADA SOUP


 INGREDIENTS:

1small onion diced
3 tsp minced garlic (I love the stuff from the bottle)
1 lb chicken breasts
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 cups frozen corn
t tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (8 oz ) can tomato sauce
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large or 2 small chipotle peppers from a can of chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1 TBSP adobo sauce from chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

Place diced onion, garlic, and chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker. Add beans, diced tomatoes, corn, salt, cumin, oregano, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth. Stir until combined. Add the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and cilantro to the top and prepare for cooking.

Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours, or high heat 2-3 hours.

Remove the two chipotle peppers and discard. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Then dump the shredded chicken back into the soup.

If you're looking to make it less of a clean eat and more tasty, add sour cream and stir in for a creamier soup. You'll definitely want tortilla chips too. It's also great with cheddar cheese, cilantro, and avocado.

*Adapted from Skinny Taste

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Personal Development and Goal Setting

Sometimes my project manager brain is a curse, and sometimes a blessing, but either way, I tend to think about life and projects two-three months out and I'm always planning for the future. It's been great for date nights, for owning a business, and for the major client websites I used to manage. Some may call me crazy here, but my brain is already in January thinking of New Year's Resolutions and goals for 2017 personally and professionally. 

It's amazing when you work for yourself how you don't always prioritize learning and personal development. I always feel like I could use more professional development and personal enrichment in my life, and that's something I'm going to add to my 2017 goals list. I spent lots of dedicated time in Corporate America in HR trainings, and maybe it's time as an entrepreneur I start scheduling more trainings and reminders to dedicate some time to my own development just like my former employers did. So I'm committing myself here, and I hope to share how it's going each month, but here's some ways I plan to increase my professional development in 2017: 

1. Attend Conferences. I try to go to one a year, but this year I am already registered for three, and even speaking at two, but I may even shoot for a third. I love meeting others in person, and I love industry specific events. I'm going to try to go to one at least quarterly if possible! 

2. Host Local Meetups. I've done the Arizona Blogger Meetup Group and I've been part of the Say Hi Society Board locally, but I know I could be more proactive planning more events large and small to meet other like-minded business owners. 

3. Stay on Top of Updates and Read Information on Changes: In social media and Internet in general there's always changes. I think a lot complain and get upset, and unfortunately that doesn't do much. Reading the latest Google update is really important, as is any other platform I or my readers interact with. I'm going to be better about learning and reading all the information I can in the beginning of the changes. 

4. Register for More Online Webinars. I love traditional classroom settings, but at this point in my life that isn't very feasible, however, an online class that I can watch during nap time or during nanny time is very doable! I've found some through professional software I use (like Tailwind and Rakuten), and some I've sought out through online classrooms. 

I am loving free enrichment classes from universities. If you're looking for a great one, you should try this one offered from Concordia University Wisconsin's 100% online one-year Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership and Administration (OLA) program. It helps you define your space, which means it helps you realize how you come to a point in your life where you deem yourself successful and you discover your personal place- professionally or personally. The point is the grow, connect, and encourage personal development, and know yourself better and what strategic steps it takes to succeed. It's free, delivered to your inbox, and takes about 1 week and 3-4 hours to complete. There's essays and videos to watch, interactive polls, and download journals to guide you there. It kind of focuses on my favorite part of my MBA, personal growth and leadership potential, and acts as an alternative to an MBA. 

If you're interested you can sign up here. Or learn more about OLA here


I'm excited for 2017, and I'm excited to start with plans and goals, particularly to make sure I'm always growing and improving!

Okay other small business owner and bloggers, I'd love to hear your thoughts, how do you tackle professional development? What do you do to keep yourself sharp in your field or industry?





Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Making Date Night Happen: Finding the Perfect Childcare


Before we had Mack I thought dating would look the same; we'd still go out every Friday night, and we'd just hire a babysitter every Friday on constant payroll from our home budget. We do still date every week, but I've been completely shocked how scheduling life with a baby can be so tricky! Sometimes the baby needs us on Friday, like two weeks ago when he came down with a stomach bug and we couldn't leave the poor vomiting child with someone else. Sometimes Saturday is best, and sometimes we even have to shoot for a weeknight. It's a little harder to predict our date nights, but that doesn't stop us from trying and planning!

However, we have hit another barrier we didn't anticipate, and that's finding a sitter. When it comes to your most precious cargo in the entire world, it's pretty tough to find people you trust to leave your baby with.

We have a few teens we can hire that we've met at church, but you'd be amazed how quickly their calendars fill up, how often there's something at school that takes all of them at once, or how many times you realize your date may go later than teens are comfortable staying up for. We've found ourselves more often than we ever imagined pretty desperate for a good sitter, and one we can trust. Right about the height of our predicament constantly looking for someone outside of our small pool, the owner of a really amazing company reached out and asked if I'd like to meet for lunch to talk about her business and see if there was any kind of partnership we could do.

Enter Daniela, the owner of Ready Nanny, and truly one of the most special people I've ever met! Daniela has been a nanny, run nanny services, and done nanny placement most of her life. She has a really amazing gift with children, and she believes in getting to know clients on a personal level. She started Ready Nanny because she was so aware of the struggle so many parents have to find the right childcare for their family. That may mean a nanny that's bilingual, that may mean someone more affordable, that may mean someone who can also help with housework- each family has different needs and she's so sensitive to the idea that the right person is crucial for families, and the right family for nannies!

She honestly recruits THE BEST people to be a part of her company (so if you're reading this thinking you're pretty special in childcare, this may be awesome for you too). We're talking CPR certified and experienced, people who truly adore children, and people who I joked with Jacob, are more qualified to be around our child than we are!

I've been in so many situations where I really could have used Ready Nanny had I known about them earlier! Like when I went back to work after having a baby and was so afraid to leave my little infant. I lucked out with a family member, but had I not I don't even know what I would have done! I'm also a business owner who works from home several hours a week, and I need a nanny to be around just part-time at set times so I can get some work done with my busy toddler! We've cancelled at least one trip due to childcare issues, realizing we couldn't find a sitter on location, or we didn't have anyone we could leave the baby behind with. But clearly as date night bloggers who need constant sitters, we're always on the hunt for good people who we trust to leave our most prized possession with! Ready Nanny helps provide some of the best nannies who love picking up some evening hours to families who need a sitter they can trust, and that's exactly what most families need! And I love that they do it with an up-front finder fee and then let the family pay the nanny directly. No expensive long-term percent fees. It really is the best situation for all parties!

We were asked to try the service for free in exchange for an honest review, and you guys, I can't tell you enough how amazing this was! We had a few of THE BEST nannies/sitters. Our little man was in the best hands with each of the sitters we had the opportunity to try! I mean learning and song time, outdoor play, no tv/movie time like we prefer, bilingual exposure (we're trying to teach Mack some Spanish so he doesn't look at us the way he did when we went to Spain and he knew his parents were speaking in a way he'd never heard), and our house was picked up and cleaner than we left it each time. Not to mention the perfect communication with a text to let me know how much he ate and when he went to bed, so I didn't have to stress!

I think best of all is we found someone who works with our time and our needs, and someone our child adores. We believe dating is so crucial to relationships, and I'm so grateful for a company that also believes in strong happy families and provides people who can help parents with their needs!

If you've been on the hunt for a nanny, a resort-style nanny for a trip, or a babysitter you know you can count on, you really should check out Ready Nanny- they are making grandiose dates a reality for us again!

Photos by: Photography-Hill
*We received babysitting services and finding services in exchange for an honest opinion and post

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