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As the child of two educators who both ran successful side businesses, I know how important it is to leverage your skills and strengths on your terms and schedule.

You may not know that I seriously started pursuing my teaching certificate. After graduating with a journalism degree and a business minor and working in the journalism field for several years, I started the process of obtaining my post-Bach certification in elementary education.

Before I completed my student teaching, I was offered the job of my dreams combining my journalism degree and education classwork at an education-related non-profit. I love what I do.

I also love helping educators supplement their income with side businesses. After years of consulting one on one, I developed an ecourse to be able to reach more educators who want to grow their business.

This course will give educators (and anyone else interested in marketing a side business!) the confidence to apply their current skills and convert classroom teaching experience (which is really selling when it comes down to it) into growing a business.

Most marketing information and courses are aimed at people who have a different skill set than educators and more time on their hands. Everything in this ecourse can be done after school hours or on the weekends, which is exactly when you will be working to grow your business any way!

Over five lessons you will learn the basics of marketing your product or service including homework assignments to move you along in the process.

You can check out the ecourse here. If you’d like to register to take the course, email me at aurora@jacreativegroup.com for a $5 off code!

Toddler Valentines finished

I love parties. I love hanging out with A in her classroom. I love seeing her interact with her friends. But I don’t love the idea of toddlers exchanging Valentines. I think it’s a bit early to start this merry-go-round, but I also don’t want A to be the only one not participating or feel left out because her mother was being a grinch. I was just going to do the regular plain cardboard Valentines but then another mom and I talked about how the toddlers are likely to just eat the cardboard. Then I overheard another mom talking about the Pinterest inspired Valentines she was making for the class. I decided to try to find a happy medium.

Luckily, this Valentine “craft” looks fun, is toddler appropriate and does not take hours or actual creativity.  Since I couldn’t find the goldfish bowl-shaped bags the original poster references, I just used snack bags.

Toddler Valentine Kit

In less than 10 minutes, I printed the template, cut them out and added the goldfish. I’ll bring the rest for snack during the party.

Here’s hoping this didn’t set an unattainable president for the rest of Miss A’s time in school!

Toddler Fish Bowl Valentines

Toddler approved Chicken Parm
Miss A is continuing to learn to use toddler forks and spoons and loves practicing. She also loves Italian inspired dishes and eating dinner with us. That means J and I are regularly trying to come up with dinner recipes that work for all three of us. We had success once with this pork dish (probably because it contained A’s beloved apples), but not with much else since. On a whim, I whipped together this baked chicken and orzo dish. She couldn’t get enough and kept asking for more!

Ingredients:

  • Frozen chicken breast (we use at least two to feed the three of us)
  • Olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • Your favorite marinara sauce (we usually use Bertolli Marinara and Burgundy wine or Lucky’s Market Roasted Garlic)
  • Mozzarella slices (at least three)
  • Orzo pasta

Directions:
Yes, yes you can bake from frozen! I was thrilled to discover this after reading the back of the bag of frozen chicken. First, preheat the over to 350 degrees. Then put the olive oil in the bottom of the pan. We’ve used everything from a pie plate to a baking dish. What you use doesn’t matter as much as making sure the bottom is mostly coated in olive oil. Put the chicken breasts on top of the oil and add pasta sauce.

Toddler approved Chicken Parm pre-bake
Bake for at least 45 to 50 minutes. Check for done-ness by cutting the largest chicken breast to see if it is still pink. If it is, put it back in the over for 10-15 minute minutes and check again. Since we baked from frozen, it usually takes about an hour of total baking. Since the chicken in topped with sauce and resting on olive oil, we haven’t had any issues with drying it out even the one time I accidentally cooked it for almost an hour and a half. When there’s about 15 minutes left in baking, cook the orzo per the package directions. We also like sauce, so we heat up about a cup and a half of the remaining pasta sauce in a sauce pot on the stovetop.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and place mozzarella slices on top. It should melt. Serve over top the orzo and sauce with your favorite vegetable. Miss A is partial to peas.

My opinion:
Truthfully, it’s a bit bland for our palates, but a little salt and pepper after go a long way. As A gets better at chewing and using utensils, we will season and then brown the chicken before baking. This dish is super easy and very simple to get going before we pick Miss A up in the evening from school.

Roast Pork Chops With Apples
Now that Miss A has started eating more and more table food and declared her toddler independence, we have started looking for recipes that will feed her and us for dinner. Many are just misses, but this one from the Baby Center was a hit with everyone. That said, being a “hit” with a one-year-old A means most of it didn’t get thrown to the floor.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 apples, such as Granny Smith, McIntosh, or your favorite variety, peeled, cored and thickly (the key word is thick!) sliced
4 pork chops, about 1/2-inch thick, boneless or bone-in
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apple cider without preservative

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I boiled the apple cider to reduce it a bit. Grease the bottom of a medium-size roasting pan or an ovenproof skillet (like our favorite cast iron skillet!) with the olive oil.

Arrange the apples on the bottom of the pan, layered as needed.

apple layer

Place the pork chops on top.
add Pork
Then sprinkle with the sage, salt and pepper and pour the cider on top.
Add apple cider
Bake for 20 minutes (we baked for 25). Preheat the broiler and place under the broiler for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through and the apples are tender, basting the meat once or twice.

My opinion:
We didn’t actually baste the meat once or twice as the directions indicate and it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Since we were eating this as a family, I didn’t “season with authority” (as J is so fond of saying!), but we were able to add seasoning at the table for our liking. All in all we would eat this again.

Bibimbap

We’ve tried a number of bibimbap recipes and this one from My Korean Kitchen is hands down our favorite. It’s easy enough for a weeknight meal and can be loaded with a ton of veggies. Plus it makes more than enough for lunch the next day! We had to make a few tweaks because we had trouble finding all of the ingredients regularly, but even with the modifications, this dish is filling and delicious!

Ingredients:
Meat and meat sauce
1 pound ground beef (we like 80/20 for this – you need the fat!)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar – (we went with the original recommendation of brown sugar and decided dark brown sugar tastes best!)
1/4 tsp minced garlic

Vegetables and other
Couple of handfuls spinach (we use one handful per person)
Bag of bean sprouts (f you can find them. If not, don’t go with canned, it isn’t worth it!)
1 package shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3 small carrots
2 peppers (we use a mix of red and green or whatever we have on hand)
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (1/4 tsp each will be used when cooking shiitake mushroom and carrots) (You can also use Kosher)
3 to 4 serving portions of steamed rice
3 or 4 eggs (depending on the serving portion)
Some cooking oil to cook the meat, mushroom, carrots and eggs (We use sesame oil)

Bibimbap sauce
The original recipe suggested this sauce might be only enough for 3 servings if you like eating it spicy and it holds true!
2 Tbsp gochujang (in a pinch we’ve used Sriracha sauce, not the same
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sugar (we use brown again here)
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp vinegar (I’m partial to for this!)
1 tsp minced garlic

Directions:
For meat, mix the ground beef with the meat sauce ingredients. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes while you are working on the other ingredients. We usually make the meat mixture first and let it sit while we chop the veggies. Then chop the veggies into julienned strips. We usually combine the carrots, peppers and onion but leave the spinach and mushrooms to their own pans. Mix the Bibimbap sauce ingredients in a bowl. Add some sesame oil and 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt in a pan and cook the carrots, peppers and onion on medium-high to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or longer if you liked them more caramelized. Remove the carrots, peppers and onion from the pan and place on a plate. Add some more sesame oil, another dash of salt and a bit of garlic and sautee the spinach and mushrooms. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the pan and add to the plate with the other veggies. In the same pan, add some more sesame and cook the meat on medium-high to high heat. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes to thoroughly cook it. When the moisture has evaporated and the meat is starting to brown, remove from heat and drain. In another pan (trust me on this one do not try to reuse the same pan you sauteed the mean in!) make fried eggs. (As the original recipe stats and is spot on: “While sunny side up is common, you can make them per your preference.”) Ladle the rice into bowls and add the vegetables, meat and egg. Cover with the sauce!

My opinion:
I’ve eaten this dish three days in a row and I’m still not sick of it!

About Aurora

My father named me after Sleeping Beauty. The princess theme stuck. Unfortunately, the only castle I can claim is the one in Disney Land. These are the musings of a princess without minions, knights or fairy tales. I have to do my own bidding.

The views in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or clients.

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