Sunday, June 29, 2014

What's In Your Bag?, Episode 3

Kerri is a very sweet Mommy of three that I met in a Facebook group for planner addicts, such as myself. She sells Origami Owl, which is an adorable way to express yourself with jewelry without a huge price tag! I received one from my mother-in-law for Christmas, and I wear it tons! Check out her site! :) Kerri's husband works long hours, as he is in his LAST year of residency! There's no better person to show off how to stay organized on the go than Kerri! I hope you enjoy, and a very special thanks to Kerri for sharing how she keeps it all together! 

1. The bag: my amazing leather Whipping Post tote. This bag holds everything I need for 3 kids, planner items, and wallet (I have 2 in diapers!).

2. What's in my bag: 
- My Erin Condren
- Louis Vuitton Cluth (carry hair elastics, hand sanitizer and lip gloss)
- My Origami Owl yellow cosmetic pouch (Carries lotion and sunscreen)
- My hot pink Origami Owl business card holder
- Diapers, wipes, change of clothes for each kids
- Briber tools (M&Ms & stickers)
- My In A Pikle (A Mommy Must-Have!)
- Quick snacks squeeze pouches
- Sunglasses
- Sophie, the Teething Giraffe
- Lovie Blanket for my baby

3. I'm obsessed with my Orla Kiely (cosmetic organizer), and I use it to house all my planner goodies! Below shows the inside, which is filled with EC stickers, Post-Its (another must have on the go), pens, labels, and travel washi tape that I wrapped around business cards.

4. My gorgeous EC planner & Nate Berkus pouch (also pictured with the Orla Kiely). I use my planner to balance schedules and crazy family life with 3 babies: Bills, To-Dos, my Origami Owl business (mostly tax info). I love washi tape & stickers.

5. A closer look at the planner! (How sweet is this picture of her 3 kiddos?!)

6. A Monthly View of My EC Planner. I finally came up with a monthly view I enjoy! Just a touch of washi, my husband's schedule, birthdays, and small dot stickers mark when a bill is due. 

Thank you Kerri for taking some time to share how you keep it all together on-the-go! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A "Pinteresting" Life: Behavior Chart

J and I have really been struggling to find a consistent means of handling T when he becomes cranky, defiant, etc.  We have tried essentially everything in our arsenal with some limited success.  Enter Pinterest. I had suggested a behavior chart a while ago when I stumbled across an adorable Super Hero-themed behavior chart. J had originally vetoed the idea.  Then we found out that T has a behavior chart at home with his mom. Once we found that out, J was on board with doing a chart of our own for T at our house! While the one I found was originally designed for a classroom, it essentially met our needs for a behavior chart at home (with some minor DIY and tweaking involved, of course!). Here is my inspiration (How adorable, right?!):
T is obsessed with super heroes, so what better way to mark how well (or not so well) he has done that day?! So where to start?! I swung by my local Michael's (Don't worry - I paid cash with the recent card breach that occurred with this company!) and picked up some supplies:
1. Paper. Rather than use 7 colors, I used 6 (Sorry, Indigo - you've been voted off the island).
2. Ribbon. I needed some way to connect each individual piece of paper together. Closer inspection of the original picture revealed it was held together with 1.5-2 inch wide ribbon.
3. Stickers: My handwriting is cute and all, but I wanted some uniformity with all the different "levels."

My supplies that I had to purchase!
I spent several days drawing these little super heroes and cutting them out. I even drew a little T for the green sheet of paper, where he will start off each day. Here are some of the little super heroes I drew.
Then I laid out each piece of paper in the order I wanted to have them hanging (purple on top all the way down to red on the bottom). I cut out the individual sticker letters and laid them out in the general spacing pattern that I wanted to follow, choosing which hero I wanted on each level. I put Batman and Superman on the "Super T" paper (purple) since those are his 2 favorites. It let me play with the spacing of the letters and figure out which super heroes would work and be most visible on each color! Here is the Green Lantern on "Warning!":
Once I had each pice laid out like I wanted, I stuck the stickers down and used rubber cement to glue down the super heroes. Once everything had been stuck down and/or glued down, I wrote a Reward at the top of each page and a Punishment at the bottom of each page, giving T motivation to work hard to improve his behavior, but providing punishment should his behavior warrant it.  It also gives him a visual of how his behavior has been that day (and what he has lost by being ugly). This is how all the pages look once put together:
It's coming together so nicely! I was so excited! Then I laid out the 1.5" wide ribbon to see about how long I would need for my ribbon to be to connect all of them together on one piece.
I then flipped all the pages over, lined them up like I wanted and used hot glue to attach the ribbon to the back of the pages.
Once that was done (and I had let it cool and dry for a few minutes), I used a piece of skinnier ribbon to form a loop at the top. This way we can hang it up in an area that T can see frequently throughout the day. We also wanted to hang it low enough that he could (for the most part) move the clothespin up or down. Once I got the loop of ribbon situation where I wanted it, I doused it in hot glue.
We then hung it up in our downstairs hallway where T runs through frequently, giving it high visibility. This is our final product, and I couldn't be happier! I say it's "our" product as J did hammering the nail into the wall!
Some rewards we discussed (and some of which we used): earning TV time, one additional TV show, earn a toy back (that he lost as punishment), an extra cookie/dessert item after dinner, come out of his room (he has to earn this by apologizing), extra bedtime story..
Some punishments we discussed: 5 minutes in time out, time alone in his room, lose a toy he is playing with, lose TV privileges for the day, go to bed early...

Hopefully this will help you design your own behavior chart! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A "Pinteresting" Life: Making Space

T's room in its most recent state is an atrosity, monstrosity, get it. I am almost embarrassed to even post a picture, but I feel a before and after is a must in this case.  I cringe every time I walk by. It's disorganized, constantly cluttered, and there's very little floor room for him to play in, which means my living room floor is constantly cluttered with matchbox cars and legos (which do NOT feel good when stepped on).

Cue Pinterest. I found an adorable picture on Pinterest not too long ago and got inspired. As you can see from T's before picture he has the staples to making this set up work, particularly the bed (kind of a staple) and the cube shelves. Now, I know the title of the blog this photo was taken from was "Decorating Ideas for a 3-year-old Girl's Room," BUT I am only using it for layout inspiration. And this layout is kind of the bomb.
My Inspiration:
So I started by decluttering the room. Literally, I emptied out all the toys into the very tiny space that is our upstairs hallway. I would highly recommend warning your spouse if you do this. I didn't think to mention anything to J, and he about killed himself trying to navigate the mess that was me tossing toys into the hall. Whoops. Once that was done, I moved the biggest piece of furniture first. In this case, that was the bed...and I totally should've asked for some help. And maybe made the bed up first (minus the pillows). With some struggling, I got the bed into the corner of the room and made back up.  I then moved the tiny bedside table out of the way and replaced it with the 3x2 cube shelves.

Once I got the spacing like I wanted it, I put the table lamp onto the shelves to get it out of the hallway and out of the way! I then shifted the 3x3 cube shelving unit so that it was centered under the "You are my Sunshine" canvas. This has a particularly special meaning to us as it was the first song that J would sing to sing T to sleep. 

Once the shelves were set up, I sorted through the toys and formed 3 piles: organize, give away, throw away. Throw away toys were generally happy meal toys from various fast food restaurants that T never plays with. I then took the toys in the "Organize" pile and started to organize them into bins. The toys that had smaller pieces were placed in a little Thirty-One bag to keep them from being lost in the organizing chaos. Matchbox cars were tossed into an old-school metal lunch box with T's name on it (Bought from Sarah + Abraham).

After getting the furniture situated like I wanted it, I was able to add in the toys and books that J and I agreed we would keep for T. After the toys were put away, we were able to lay down an adorable rug that was given to T by J's mom, which is a little town where T can drive all his cars around! Adorable! And plenty of room for little T to play with his "Basketball Arcade" now, too!

J and I are so happy with how little T's room turned out once it was re-arranged! There is plenty of room for him to play on his town rug or open up the tee-pee tent my mom made him for Christmas - without the need to clutter my living room floor with toys, tents, and rugs. I love how we didn't have to change out or buy new furniture to make plenty of room for T to play! It's so uplifting that we were able to make space (well, more space) for T without having to spend any money. Here's a quick comparison of the before and after set-up (Sorry some of the pictures are a little dark!).
Before (*Cringe!*) 
After (YAY!).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marinated Chicken

J and I have recently fallen in love with a new Lawry's marinade: Herb and Garlic.  It's amazing, to put it quite simply. If you want to plan ahead, take a gallon size freezer plastic bag, toss your chicken breasts, thighs, etc. in and drown it in marinade! If you are scrambling to get something put together for dinner, then just slather the marinade on the chicken as you grill it! Totally just as delicious! Can you tell by now that I love items and recipes that provide options?!

J and I prefer to marinate the chicken overnight at minimum, sometimes even marinating the chicken for 48 hours (even better for those of you that plan way ahead!). So, here's how we do it.  Thaw out one pack of chicken breasts (3-4 breasts), thighs, etc. Once thawed out, go ahead and toss the chicken into a plastic bag.  I use a gallon-sized freezer bag.  Drown it in the marinade. I mark the time that I put everything in the bag so that the chicken can marinate for at least 22-24 hours. Pop it in the fridge for the night/following day (or 2 days as we do sometimes!). Make sure to lay it flat on the fridge shelf so that the chicken is not getting marinated unevenly! If you remember, flip over the following morning to make sure that every part of the chicken gets equal cover time!
Once the chicken has marinated for long enough, we grill it (best way to cook it, in my opinion). J loves to grill so that there is a bit of char on the meat. At first, I was a little turned off by it because I thought he was intentionally burning the meat.  Then I realized, he's just adding a little extra crisp and flavor, and I came to love it.  I mean, how good does this look?:
The best part of this marinade is that the chicken will go with essentially anything.  We ate it with spinach ravioli and marinara sauce (Check it out here!) a few weeks ago.  Tonight, we experimented and ate it with coleslaw - a summer staple for us. It was equally as amazing! Of course, I ate my signature dessert as a side, but who's keep track right?! ;)
Want to spice this recipe up? Why not toss some shrimp into the marinade bag, as well?! Quarter some red potatoes, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and rosemary and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (Depends on how crispy you like your taters!). Now that's a meal!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Favorite Remedy

Let me just start by saying that I have had the worst sore throat for weeks now (Underlying story: I have horrible allergies and refuse to admit it or treat it, so I suffer from stuffy nose and sore throat quite a bit!). There isn't much that really truly soothes my throat and helps me feel better.  I was cleaning my cabinets out the other day and rediscovered my stash of Yogi green tea. I know, I know. It's kind of silly. And it has recently become "the rage." So I jumped on the bandwagon in P.A. school and fell in love?! Meh - sue me. Anyways, I recently have rediscovered my love of this little green packet:

My favorite part is the fact that at the end of the string, there's this adorable, uplifting quote. I mean, how can this not brighten your day?!

I generally use honey to sweeten it just because honey does have some natural soothing properties that help my throat feel better. I am obsessed with my Hamilton Beach hot pot. Don't have one?! You should totally check it out! If allergies are a common problem for you, maybe you should invest in some Yogi green tea (and a hot pot!). If allergies aren't something you deal with (you lucky Northerner, you!), then maybe grab some for the next time you have a cold! That way, you don't even have to head to the store when you don't feel good! And side note: how cute is this little (well, big) mug?! I got it from the sweetest lady at church!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thai Curry Anything

J and I made this together when we first started dating.  It was actually the first thing we made together (Cue chorus of Awwwws). We probably make this every other week because it is SO good and so full of color (natural color!).  I absolutely hate zucchini, but I will eat it in this recipe! J originally got the recipe when he was in grad school. The best part is, you can use any source of protein (think: chickpeas, tofu, etc.) and any veggies you want! The options are endless. You can literally throw in anything (Hence, us calling it "Thai Curry Anything.") I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

1 pound of smoked sausage, cut into thin slices
3-4 cups of chopped veggies (we do 1.5 cups of red/yellow peppers, and 1.5 cups of zucchini, all diced)
1 can coconut milk (not refrigerated - you can find cans or cartons at your local supermarket!)
1 Tbsp of cooking oil
Curry Paste (we use green or yellow as it's less spicy)

1. In large pan on medium high heat, add one tablespoon of cooking oil.
2. Add sausage and stir fry for a minute or two.
3. Add in vegetables and cook for a minute or two.
4. Add curry paste, stir and cook for another minute.
5. Shake coconut milk well before opening, then add to veggies, meat and curry.
6. Add a half of cup of water or so and stir well to distribute curry paste evenly.
7. Simmer for a few minutes heated through (or until meat is thoroughly cooked).
8. Serve with cooked rice!

Enjoy! How delicious does THIS look?!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Don't Forget Dad!

Today is Father's Day. Yay! I am glad that the Daddies that do right by their families have a day to be celebrated! While it is one of those holidays that occurs during a time when it's easy to forget things (summertime is busy in my house!), try to do at least a little something for those dads in your life! It doesn't even have to be a big gift - just a card that says "thanks for all you do" goes a long way. I plan way ahead. Like, I wait until the Monday after Father's Day and purchase cards on clearance for the following year. This way, I have cards all stocked up without having to take the ridiculously high prices of cards (and fight the crowds, too!). Check out your local Dollar Stores, too. A lot of times, they have 2 cards for $1 after the holiday is over!

We are on a fairly tight budget this year, but I wanted to do something super special (but small and inexpensive) for J. What I try to do when I pick out smaller (but more meaningful) gifts is narrow down specific interests, hobbies, and likes.  J loves to cook (particularly grill). He loves what we call "Man Stores" (Home Depot, Lowes). He loves board games. He loves science fiction shows (enter Dr. Who). So, with that in mind, I began to troll some stores about a month ago.  What I ended up with was this: a grilling cookbook (with tips, stories, and recipes galore) and a Dr. Who magnet, along with the card.

Total, I spent about $10 and some change on Father's Day this year for J. Not a huge chunk of change, but enough to say "Here's something I think you will like. I picked it out just for you."  Other options I came up with (that could apply to all Dads) were:

A nice bottle of wine/new 6-pack of beer:  Not all Dads like alcohol, and I'm not saying it's the perfect gift for everyone.  However, J and my dad have become very interested in broadening their horizons in both wine and beer.  They have been really experimenting with craft beers and exotic wines, but some of these come with a $15-20 price tag.

Time: As simple as it sounds, time can be an incredible gift! It can be time by himself, wandering aisles of Lowe's or Home Depot without trying to keep up with kids, tell you just 5 more minutes, or being asked "Can I go potty" for the millionth time. It could also be quality time with just you (or you and the kids) doing what the he loves to do.  J loves to play board games (and between you and me - I loathe them!), so I promised him an hour of board games tonight after dinner.  While the number of games he owns that I can play (or understand how to play) is limited, it gives him an additional gift of my time doing something that he enjoys.

Small paraphernalia items: magnets, stickers (that can be made into magnets), pens, etc.  I got Josh this magnet (pictured below) for about $3. Super simple, small, and probably unnoticeable to others, but it's something that J will look at and smile because I took the time to think of him and find something that he loves.

Acts of Kindness: You know that to-do list (or honey-do list) you gave him months ago that he hasn't even started to look at? Maybe knock a couple of those items off the list for him! I've been complaining for months that I wanted to personalize our patio a little more. While I didn't do it for Father's Day, I went ahead and did it myself a few weeks ago (Check it out here!). One less thing for J to worry about in the future. Actually, now I think he enjoys sitting outside more (with a glass of wine or a beer) than if he had done it himself!  Also, I hate cleaning the kitchen after meals, but today, I cleaned the kitchen after lunch and dinner.  So simple, right?! But J knows how much I dislike that chore, so he appreciated the effort I made to do something to help him out (despite the fact I would rather clean a bathroom than clean a kitchen).

Small Treats: Maybe your hubby or Dad loves Starbuck's. Or maybe they love a local brewery. Or maybe they even love a local park that charges a small fee for admission. A $5-10 gift card (or I.O.U.) will never be frowned upon or scowled at. It doesn't mean you have to go big, just go thoughtful!

Massage: Whether you have skilled hands or not, your hubby will certainly appreciate a back or neck massage! Something like that can be very personal and a great way to spend a few extra minutes to say "thanks for all that you do!"

I would highly recommend (if you haven't already done this) that you both read the book "The Five Love Languages." It makes your relationship stronger and gift-giving easier! If you know your spouse's love language is quality time, then get him some quality time for his special day! It simplifies your understanding of each other, as well as the gift giving process! Hopefully, while you have another year to plan, this will give you some good, inexpensive gift ideas for next year (or maybe even for Dad or hubby's birthday!).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

DIY Page Tabs

All right, before we get started, I need to throw out a little disclaimer. I did not create these tabs myself. An incredible artsy lady on etsy did.  Her shop is MissTiina, and it is really cool! All of her stuff is digital, so you can download it as soon as you buy it!  I have been eyeing the letters and months tabs for forever now, so I finally broke down and bought them.  You'll see why in a minute!

J and I have had this Erin Condren address book for forever.  We got it when we were trying to keep track of addresses for our Christmas cards (and now our wedding invitations!).  I love it, but to me, it is so hard to find what letter I want quickly - no tabs. (Insert hashtag firstworldproblems here!).  And THEN Erin Condren has to go out and release a *new* address book with tabs.... *Sigh* Talk about a bummer!  I adore this cover, but I can no longer find it amongst her new address book covers.  So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place - buy a new address book and combine the two by uncoiling, utilizing the cover I like, and recoiling OR make due with what I have and find a way to make it more what I want. Either way, it's a DIY project (and you know that means another blog post!).
PS - How cute is she?! Love EC products!
SO - I made up my mind and decided to stick with what I had. I had been eyeing some of the tabs in MissTiina's store and decided to take the plunge! I bought the months and alphabet tabs for $2! That's what I call a bargain! I printed them out on fairly heavy paper - not so thick it was cardstock, but not the cheapo printer/copier paper either.
My well-loved Erin Condren address book, and her new tabs!
Once I had them printed out, I hauled my paper cutter out of the office supplies stack, and proceeded to cut them into their individual pieces. Once that was done, I took a pair of scissors and did the fine-tuning trims.
Want your own handy-dandy paper cutter?
Check it out here on Amazon!

Once these were all trimmed and ready, I hauled out my packing tape (yes, you read that correctly - packing tape!).  I told you this was "DIY!"  I made sure to pull and cut a piece that would fit the tab inside of it (like this):  

Once I got it on the packing tape, I cut the packing tape so that it was even with the top and bottom of the tab.  I left a little bit of excess on either side where it would tape down to the address book page!  Once this process was complete, I would start sticking the tabs on the appropriate letters! I lined up the top of the tab with the top of the letter block on the edge of the page.  Once it was lined up *just* like I like it, I folded the tab over and stuck it down to the other side.  I made sure to rub on the packing tape just a bit on each side to make sure that it stuck down!

Repeat this process 13 times for these tabs, as they have 2 letters apiece.  I love how mine turned out! 
I did apply washi tape to the edges of all the pages at a prior date!

I am that much more excited to use it! I love how colorful the tabs are, which tie in perfectly with how colorful Erin Condren's products are! I hope you have as much fun as I did being crafty, handy, and making something your own! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What's In Your Bag?, Episode 2

Torri and I met through a group of ladies obsessed with organizing, planners, and purses.  As a sales rep for Jewell, she always has so many neat products that allow her to keep her purses SO organized! The products she utilizes and sells are so neat! Torri has chosen to show us several different Jewell products that she uses on a regular basis to keep it together!

Just one favorite bag?! How can a girl pick just one favorite? Well, of course, I have multiple favorites that I carry depending on what I am doing that particular day (going to work, shopping, or a date with the hubby!). All of my favorite handbags hold BOTH of my Gillios, too! Luckily, I have found a brand that allows me to change handbags so easily and keep them organized!  Jewell handbags and accessories have changed my life and my purse! You can imagine my excitement when both of my Gillio planners fit into one bag!! 

Speaking of Gillio's, I don't know how I ever survived without them! I carry two planners in my bag(s): a Medium Compagna and a Pocket Mia Cara! I use my Compagna for my month and daily views.  A note section is there for anything I need to jot down and refer to quickly.  I also have grocery list printouts that I use, so I can start my list as I think of things!  I have a section for "to-do" lists and section for contacts.

I have finally found Planner Peace with Piaric inserts (you can find her on Facebook!). The quality of the paper is fabulous, but what I like most is that I get the best of all planner worlds. I have a place to write down the flow for each day and sections broken into priority, routine, to do, coming up & notes.  My very favorite part of my two Gillio's is the amazing back pocket that I can fit fold full size sheets of paper in half! For me, that was a huge selling point and justification on spending that much money on a Gillio - or two! 

I use my Pocket Mia Cara for managing my checking accounts. I own 2 businesses so between those accounts and my personal accounts, it can be a bit overwhelming.  I use "account register" pages from the PolkaDotPosiePrint on etsy and cut them down to fit in my pocket! Primarily, that is what I use my Pocket Mia Cara for.  It was much better than carrying around 5 checkbook registers - and much cuter, too!

Below you will see pictures of my favorite bags. Happy Day! For the sake of boring you, I've narrowed down my favorites to 4 bags.
Style Icon 

Foolproof Fashionista

Diamond District

Style Setter

Now let me share with you what Jewell is. My Jewell Handbags allow me to customize the inside of my purses to fit my needs and lifestyle (with the patent-pending pockets and fashion organizers).  I love that my handbag gives back to women! 10% of every purchase goes to non-profit groups that empower women and girls.  I love that my handbag provides me the opportunity to own my own boutique business where I can achieve my "Why" in life.  Wow! Can you believe a handbag can do all that?! Now you see why I can't just pick one handbag, right? And you guessed it! I clearly can't pick just one Gillio either! 

If you like what you see and/or want to organize your life and handbag, I would love to help you make it happen! Check out my website: all of my information is found there. I would love to help you in any way that I can!

Happy organizing and planning!