Best of 2016!



With 2016 coming to an end, I did a look back to see what my most popular videos made in 2016 were.  Interestingly enough, 8 out of my top 10 viewed videos this year were videos made in 2013-2015.  The top being my Meal Prep/Freezer Meals video from 2015.  This year had so many great moments, and I am so happy I was able to share them all with you!

#10... Weekly Vlog #6
The Weekly Vlog was a new addition to my channel this year, and I am so happy I took the risk to try it.  I love vlogging a bit of each day, and then sharing it with you on Monday mornings.  The weekly vlogs will all be back in 2017, starting Monday January 2nd @7am EST.

#9... Weekly Vlog #3



#8... I Am Never This Productive
This particular DITL did very well.  I am guessing it is because the title is attracting.  Click Bait is something I avoid, however having an enticing title always helps videos keep a lasting impression.



#7... Breakfast Freezer Meals
From any feedback I get, recipe videos/cooking videos are something viewers are REALLY interested in.  I enjoy making them, but they take a TON of work.  Also I always get negative feedback about not having precise measuring or instructions.  That's just not my style of cooking and I always warn people of that at the start of cooking videos.



#6... Time Management For A Stay At Home Mom
Sharing tips I've learned along the way is something I LOVE doing.  Connecting with other moms like me is one of the best parts of doing Youtube.  This video was also a collab with Cas, one of my favorite Youtubers.



#5... Making Hard Decisions
Let me tell you.... opening up and really sharing emotional things is not easy.  Especially online where you are open to criticism, and you never know who is watching.  This year I made a really hard decision to leave a GREAT work from home opportunity to focus my time back on family.  It was not easy.  When I say it was a great work from home position, I mean PERFECT.  It turned out to be the right decision, and my family is better for it.



#4... A5 VS Personal Planner | Which is Better
Planner videos are always a big hit.  The foundation of my channel started with planner videos back in 2013, (A look back at my planner from 2012) planner videos are still a favorite for me as well!



#3... How To Meal Plan | Strategies and Tips
This may be one of my favorite videos of this year.  It was one that was on my "to film" list for months.  I felt so accomplished when it posted.



#2... How To Prep Freezer Meals | With Easy Recipes
The thing that sticks out for me is the thumbnail photos from this video.  Photographing food is not easy!  Creating a thumbnail that will attract people to click to see more is very important when going through the upload process on Youtube.  I love the entire process of Youtube from brainstorming the idea, to filming, editing, adding music, doing the description, creating a thumbnail, promoting on social media, I really do LOVE IT!



#1... Planner Set-Up 2016
It's funny that I am starting 2017 back in the planner I started 2016 in.  I LOVE showing you all what works for me, what doesn't, and all the in between of my planner process.


There it is my top 10 of 2016!  Let me know in the comments below which was your favorite video of the year!

I also recently did a video on my Top 10 Favorite Youtubers and IG accounts!


I got the idea for this post from Diana, be sure to check out her top ten post as well!

Wishing you all the best in 2017...

Kids Gift Guide 2016


Shopping for Holiday presents for kids should be stress free and fun.  Today I am sharing the TOP 10 non electronic toys, games and books that we love to give as gifts, and some of my favorites the kids have received as well.

1. LandEnd Tote Bags - These are a great practical gift that can be used for years!

2. Kids Sleeping Bags - A fun, excited, unique option that my kids love getting in the past.
3. Board Games - We give board games every year.  This year my kids have asked for Splendor, Blokus, and other board games they can all play together.

4. Art Sets - This is a great gift if you are afraid you are going to duplicate something a child already has.  You can't have enough art supplies!

5. Books - In my opinion you can never go wrong with the gift of books.  Here are some series books my kids are loving! Harry Potter , Wimpy Kid , Critter Club , Amelia Bedelia , Big Book of Why
6. Scooter - My kids LOVE their scooters and it is a big ticket item for a low ticket price!  We are actually buying our kids new ones this year.  One in PINK for Lilly, and once in BLUE for Matthew.
7. Science kits (soaps): http://amzn.to/2guBEQF
Science Kit (chemistry): http://amzn.to/2g52p98
8. Train Sets - We started buying pieced of the Thomas The Train Wooden Railway back in 2009 when Matthew was only 2.  We have quite the assortment now, because each holiday we were able to add it it! My current favorite set is the Thomas The Train (Santa's Workshop).
9. Legos - A classic gift that never seems to go out of style.  All 3 of my kids, different ages and gender, LOVE playing Legos!  

10.  Gift Cards - I am a huge fan of giving tweens / teens what they want..... MONEY!  If the form of cash or gift cards, you cannot go wrong, and they can then enjoy their time picking something they want.

If you would like to see more you can watch the video below!



 **This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you so much for your support.  By ordering through the link it in no way affects the pricing of your products.**

Boxed Unboxing and Review



I have been a "Big Box" store shopper for years.  I think you can get great deals, and buying in bulk for a large family is always a good thing.

Boxed is an online alternative for a busy on the go mom.  This exclusively online store offers what those big box mad houses offer plus so much more.  In the video below the kids and I share our first Boxed unboxing for you, but I wanted to go a bit more in depth of what I love about this online store.

NO MEMBERSHIP FEE!  While I feel like the fee to the major box box stores isn't terrible, nothing is better than free! Not only is there no membership fee, but your first box ships free, and any order over $75 after your first ships free as well!  You can also snag $15 off your first order of $60 or more by going through the following link: https://www.boxed.com/invite/72YPC

Ease of shopping.  Especially with the holiday season approach..... trust me I can tell you horror stories of the Costco parking lot the week of Thanksgiving, you can order from an app on your PHONE and products are delivered to your door so quick!  I mean.... ordering from my pjs, sign me up!

Earn cash rewards, you can earn 1% cash back on all purchases!

One thing I really love about this, while I live in a metro suburb and have access to pretty much any store imaginable, I can't imagine what it would have been like having this back where I grew up.  I had never stepped foot in a Costco, or even heard of it, until moving to DC.  If you live in a rural area, you can have the opportunity to take advantage of big box store perks without having to drive for hours!

So I say give it a try, I will definitely be placing another order!



{This post is sponsored by boxed, however all opinions are my own, and I genuinely cannot wait to place another order on my own!  Affiliate Links have been used in this post}

Lily Jade McKenna Review and Giveaway

As my kids get older, there are some phases that I thought would never come to an end arrive.  One of those is carrying a diaper bag.  Think about it.  I have been carrying a diaper bag every day for over NINE years.  since I was 20 years old.

I have gone through numerous bags, but one of my favorites was my Lily Jade Caroline Diaper Bag.  The leather on Lily Jade bags is just incredible.

When asked if I would review a bag, I immediately wanted to show how I now need to carry much less and the McKenna bag is a great fit for my current lifestyle.

To see what's in the bag, and to see the perfect accessory to go with the bag, watch the video below.





Now onto the fun part!  Thanks to Lily Jade, I get to give one of you a $250 shop credit to use at Lily Jade.  Enter Below and GOOD LUCK!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freezer Breakfast Meals


Anyone else ALWAYS in a rush in the mornings?  I am not a breakfast person AT ALL, but my husband is.  Instead of having to wake up early to get him a meal and out the door, I take one afternoon to prep and make breakfasts ahead of time, and he is good to go!  Below are 4 recipes for breakfast options that freeze well.


Breakfast Pizza

What you'll need:
2 pkg crescent roll
1 lb mild sausage, browned and drained or ham cubes or bacon pieces
8 eggs, beaten
3/4 of a bag of southern style hash browns
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350. Take a pizza pan with at least a 1" lip and spray it with Pam. Roll out crescent rolls in the bottom of the pan and up along the sides.
2. Add the hash browns and the bacon/sausage/ham
3. Then pour in beaten eggs
4. And top with cheese!
5. Cover and Bake at 350 for 50 mins or until done :)
6. Once fully cooled, cut into slices and wrap to freeze. We also just have this in the fridge to heat up throughout the week for breakfast.

Egg Muffin Sandwiches

What you'll need:
6 pork sausage patties
8 large eggs
6 slices of you favorite Cheese
6 English muffins, halved

Directions:

1. Fully cook the sausage patties.  In a 9x13 inch pan, spray bottom and sides with pam.  Place beaten eggs in pan and cook in a 350 degree oven until full hardened and cooked through (I think like 15 minutes)  once cooled, cut out circles of eggs with a glass cup - see video to see my method.

2. To assemble muffins: Place 1 egg patty on the bottom of a English muffin then top with cooked sausage patty and slice of cheese.  I then wrap these in plastic wrap and then foil to freeze in a freezer Ziplock.

Breakfast Burritos
What you'll need:
1 bag of shredded hash browns
ground sausage / or bacon piece
6-7 large eggs beaten
Burrito Shells
2 Cups Shredded Cheese

Directions:
1.  Fully cook sausage and remove from skillet.  Then cook your frozen shredded hash browns. 
2. After cooked through, add in your beaten egg to scramble into the hash browns.
3.  Incorporate the cooked sausage.  Cook until the eggs are scrambled.  Mix in shredded cheese.
4.  Spoon mixture onto a burrito shell and wrap.  


Breakfast Bowls

What you'll need:
3 lbs. roasted potatoes (I use leftovers from a dinner the night before)
8 large eggs (scrambled)
7 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheese 
1 jar of sausage gravy
Directions:
1.  To build your breakfast bowls, add in leftover roasted potatoes to the bottom of a single serve container.
2.  Layer with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and shredded cheese.





To see the whole process of making these meals, watch below!







What's In My Baseball Bag


As a baseball mom of a son who plays on a rec team as well as a travel team, and has a daughter in ball, we are at the fields almost daily.  Some days it's a quick BP, others it's a full tournament day from sun up to long after the lights come on in the evening.  My organization skills come in extremely handy.  I not only organize my van (HERE), but also my bag.  I having a separate bag that is always packed and fully stocked with the essentials makes getting out the door so much easier.  So today I am sharing what's inside, and some tips for what works for me. To see my full video you can watch at the bottom of this post!


1.  For me a backpack is the way to go.  Trying to carry a bag, cooler, chair, and occasionally a screaming toddler takes both hands.  While a backpack isn't the most fashionable, it is the most functional.


2.  Using the compartments within the bag to organize items makes them easier to find.  Also using pouches to corral items helps keep your bag tidy. 


My essentials pouch is known as the "Marry Poppins" bag.  I try to have anything and everything anyone would need.  A few items in this pouch include: pens, pencils, scissors, eye drops, baby powder, stapler, tape, childrens medicine, hot hands, quarters, tweezers, tissues, chap stick, Aleve.


Snack.  Snacks are by far one of my go to items at the field.  I use small snack size baggies to portion out pretzels and crackers.  I try to stay away from things that will crush or melt.  Candy.... it keeps toddlers happy.  I purchase sour patch kids in bulk and then separate them into baggies.  That way if there is no snack bar, there is still candy.  Lollypops and ring pops are another favorite.


As a coaches wife, I am responsible for a lot of paperwork, order forms, scorebooks.  I keep this all in my back pack as well.  

In addition to my bag that I carry with me, I also keep my van fully stocked with essentials.  I usually take a bag with extra clothing, and a full first aid kit as well.  My cooler keeps fruit, fresh snacks, drinks, and cooling towels when the weather is hot.  

All the gear is my husband and son's responsibility.  :)

What are some must have items in your bag?  I would love you to leave me a comment letting me know below!







5 Tips For Organizing A Closet



1. PURGE Often.  There is no way around it, getting rid of things you do not wear, need, or like is the biggest step to an organized space.  Especially with clothing, taking the time to sort through makes a huge difference.

2.  Built in's make a huge difference.  Our current closet was completely custom from the previous owners.  It was such an easy process moving our things in.  In our old house my husband built the custom shelving in the boys room.  It was so inexpensive, but made them sharing a room (and closet) so much easier. ( you can see how HERE)

{ A look at the closet plans and finished product}

3.  Sometimes "hacks" aren't worth it.  There are SO many fancy Pinterest photos and blog posts with the latest way to hack an organized life.  Some are incredible, but others just create more chaos in a space and add clutter.  That is why in our closets you won't normally see those things.

4.  When organizing your spouses things, don't try to overstep.  Just think if your husband were to walk into your closet space and start telling you how to change it or what's wrong with it.  I don't think it would go over too well!  Although your solutions may be better, letting your spouse control his space is important.

5.  Functional doesn't always mean pretty.  I don't know about you, but I am over picture perfect rooms being shown in magazines and blogs.  IT ISN'T REAL LIFE.   Please remember this when organizing a space.  Find ways that make your life easier.  Even if they aren't the most pretty, or photo worthy, THEY WORK.  That is the point to organizing something.  FUNCTION.

Whether you have a small closet or large, there is ALWAY a way to get it organized.  Below are both videos.  The organization of my small closet in our old home, and the new closet in our current home.






When having a platform scares the crap out of you…..

Here I am 9 years into blogging and almost 3 years into my YouTube journey.   Over those years I have consistently reached more and more people.  While a number is just that…. a number, the people behind that number I think about often.  Over 30,000 of you on Youtube and 25,000 between Instagram and Facebook have decided that what I have to share and contribute is worth you taking a bit of your day to read or watch.  And that, well thinking about that is what started my pull back.  I am sure most of you are busy people.  Mostly moms, and a lot of you have young children like me.  That 5 minutes of reading what I have to say started to scare me. That is valuable time you are spending on....me.  It wasn’t that I was oversharing, or being to personal.  It wasn’t even those annoying “haters” who just have to comment about our food, or my messy house, or how I care for my children.  what scares me is the fact that your time is precious to you, or at least it should be….. and you are deciding to spend it with me.  

  Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that.  I wish we could all be BFF’s and go to lunch and chat for hours…. but my thought immediately goes to being transparent while still protecting my personal space and family.  I want you to see that our life isn’t perfect.  I want to share about our hard times and the fact that I DO NOT have it all together. 
 
But that is HARD.  

Being judged is HARD
 
Admitting your house is a disaster is HARD.  

Telling thousands of people who most likely started following you because of your organized, put together life intrigued them is the HARDEST

 The fact is, I have changed.  My homework station is non-exsistent, my closets are a mess, my routines are all over the place, my meals are out of a box, my life is chaos…. 

A happy, amazing, wonderful, full of energy chaos.  

Seeing the transition start to happen wasn’t easy for me.  Seeing it play out on camera was even harder…. But you know what,  It’s our story…. it’s my story.  As a woman, mother and housewife.  

So I will continue to share it.

The truth is, our family is happier than ever. Our schedules may be busy, but we get to spend so much time with the people we love.  We are on the go which means most nights dinner is not something I have been slaving over for hours.  Our life used to be so routine, so.....bland.  Is bland bad, no not at all.  When our children were little bland worked, bland is what kept me sane.  It is so true that there are seasons to life and right now our just is extra spicy :)  

How will I continue to share?  That I am still trying to figure out.  I pulled back because I was afraid I was portraying myself as a supermom when that is far from what I feel like.  I felt..... FAKE.  My real life friends see my messy house, heck their kids help make the mess...lol.  They see my toddler throw a fit over cookies.  They see me choose going out over cooking for my family.  The see me.  The real me, and I don't think it's fair to not share that with all of you.  I am not ashamed of it in real life, so why would I be ashamed of my laundry piles and messy van online?