What I read: November 2016

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November was a busy reading month for me. With a couple holidays in the month and lots of driving  I had time to complete several books. I also met my Goodreads goal for the year this month.

15181417_10105835031971002_995180526767701722_nIn 2016 I challenged myself to read 50 books. I am happy to say that by the end of the month I was at 53.  :)

Anyways I was able to read three non-fiction this month which is about on par. I like to alternate fiction and non-fiction to kinda keep things fun and informative.  I am working on a non-fiction now so that will help even things out.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This was a fun young adult book that takes place during the holiday season in New York City. If you enjoy light teen romances and John Green style characters then you will enjoy this book. I am a huge John Levithan fan so I knew this would be a fun way to kickstart the holiday season. I also have The Twelve Days of Lily and Dash to read next month. (yay!)


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret) has been pretty popular as of late.  I had never read her, but figured i’d give her a try with her newest novel.  I enjoyed the sense of mystery in this novel as well as how real the characters felt.  I am looking forward to reading some of her other titles to see if the are also this good.  Bonus: The author is Australian and this title takes place in Sydney which was a fun almost cultural experience.


All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I know, I know, I know. I am the LAST person to finally finish this book. I started it all the way back in September! I love how this book took the lives of two people during World War II and shares how their lives intertwine.  It is a long book, but if you have the time I strongly recommend you read it, if anything just for the social aspect of knowing the story. I know some people said it was the best book they have ever read, and while I cannot go that far, I do feel that it is a solid read and a modern classic.


The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This book came to me as a recommendation from a colleague and I am glad I gave it a read.  Although it was not my favorite this month it was a great bit of insight into a sport I knew nothing about.  Wether you enjoy crew or not this book will be informative as well as insightful into the collegiate system, the 1930’s and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.


Buffering by Hannah Hart

Have you ever watched My Drunk Kitchen on YouTube? If so you are probably familiar With Hannah. Buffering is her autobiography about her life so far. Hannah grew up in poverty with a mother who struggled with mental illness. The book explains how she recovered from her childhood, made it into college, understood her sexuality, and created My Drunk Kitchen. I love how open and honest Hannah is about her struggles with family and mental illness and how life isn’t always fun.

Paris for one by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One is a short story about a girl who plans an trip to Paris for her and her boyfriend and surprise, he doesn’t go.  (I’m sure you didn’t see that coming.) Anyways, she decides to live life on the edge an enjoy the trip herself and ends up meeting a  great French man in the city. Looking for something you can start and finish on a flight? This is the perfect length.  Many copies of this title include other short stories however I did not read those this time around.


#Girlboss by Sophia Amrouso

As someone who considers herself a girl boss it was surprising that it took me this long to read this book.  I guess it is because i never shopped her store, NastyGal so i wasn’t a fan or anything. One thing I will say about this book is that is is more of a memoir then tips on being a great power female.  However, sofia has a great rags to riches story that is quite inspiring, so read it for that. I enjoyed learning about her time selling on eBay as I was doing a bit of selling back in the lat 00s as well.  Anyways, read it if you enjoy her company or want to hear about its origins.

Well, that is is for November. Look for a best of 2016/gift ideas post coming up in the near future.  Have a great week! -Amber Downs

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

E.L.F. Cosmetics

Some of the items mentioned in this post were provided free of charge for the purpose of reviewing. All opinions are my own. Links are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission from all clicks. This does not affect your price. 

 

Have you tried E.L.F. cosmetics?  If you’ve been in target you may have seen them on a back wall in  the beauty section or more recently at CVS. For a long time I lumped them in with other budget cosmetics brands; something too cheaply made for anyone over the age of 13 to use. Then, about three years ago a friend turned me onto their eyebrow wax and I was hooked.  At this point I have tried a number of their cosmetics and have been impressed with the quality of the items for the price.  Yes, they are not high end products, but they really do get the job done for what you’re paying.  Today I am going to share a few of my favorites that I feel work almost as good as, or as good as their expensive counterparts


Lip Exfoliator: This is great for winter or lovers of long wear lip products.  It has a great texture and leaves my lips super soft.  Use it once a week for best results. This product is only $3.  CRAZY

Primer: Some people love primer and others could care less. I am one of those that love it and can’t live without it. If you’ve never used a primer this is a great one to to try out. It really makes my foundation application smooth and “flawless.”  I had been using Smashbox, but with the E.L.F. product for only $6 why not?

Setting Spray: I have a problem with my foundation lasting the entire day so I use a setting spray to extend my wear. I use this spray to set my makeup to give me a full day.

Eyebrow wax: If you haven’t tried eyebrow wax yet, you need to do it.  The best budget pick is this $3 e.l.f. palette. It is not as intense as   but for most users it is just fine a a fraction of the price.

 

I hope you check out these suggestions, I really do believe that e.l.f. puts out quality products for the price. You may have never heard of them as they don’t spend a ton on advertising or celebrity spokespersons but they do make every penny count.

 

Have you tried e.l.f.?  What is your favorite product? Share below or tag me on insta and twitter.  I’m @_amberdowns

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Black Friday deals

I wanted to jump on the blog this morning and share a few cute things I found on sale online. Each year I do more and more of my shopping online and I am always looking for new stores or sites to shop.  Here are a few adorable options for yourself or a loved one.

 

 

This Kate Spade “Go Bananas” bag is perfect and a great deal.
I love this Epicurious 11 piece copper colored cookware set.  Its the kind of thing I’d want to keep out and display my kitchen.  Perfect for a friend in a new home or family member who needs a replacement set.
I am LOVING this trench coat from Banana Republic. It is over 50% off!

These Star Wars flannel sheets come in Twin and Full and two prints.
This Faux mohair throw from Pottery Barn is half off.
I love this little tent for toddlers and kids. It is the perfect place for imagination as well as somewhere to hide the toys when guests come over.
This razor comes with a bluetooth speaker. Perfect for the bathroom!
These Kate Spade mixing bowls are too hip to skip.
I feel like every home needs one cast iron skillet. Grab this one for a friend.
Anyways, these are just a few of my favorites that I am seeing today.  Keep an eye out for other great gifts. Next week I will be sharing guy gifts. They are always the worst to buy for in my world.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

AmberDowns.net gift guide: Gifts for the Happy Planner lover

 

Holiday gift idea for the Happy Planner lover in your home.  Great Christmas gifts for planner lovers

Do you have a loved one who is Happy Planner obsessed? Chances are, if you’re here you do.  Today I am sharing a list of items that your planner girl might enjoy.  I know I’d love to receive any of these. *hint hint* to the hubs if you’re reading this. 😛 

Now, on to the gifts! I have shared items that are available  on Amazon to expedite the process as most of us already have an Amazon account.

 


Punch– If she is new to the Happy Planner system she might not yet have a punch. These are AWESOME and great for adding extra pages to her planner. It is my #1 accessory.

 

Is her planner getting tight on those rings? grab these expander rings.

Does she love embellishments and stickers? This two pack sticker set will last her a long time.

Do you think she might want to cut her own stickers? Consider a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. This machine is perfect for making stickers, vinyl decals, cards, and about 1,00 other uses. ( I use mine all the time.)

 


This Home Planner expansion pack is full of goodies.

Does she have fitness goals for the new year? If so get her a Fitness planner expansion pack to make those goals a reality. Or go big time and get her a complete fitness planner.

 

Lastly, ever great planner girl needs washi tape! Grab some here!

 

I hope these gift suggestions give you a place to start. Have a question? Contact me on Facebook or leave a comment below.

Don’t forget to remind her to stop by Amberdowns.net to grab free printables and planner ideas!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

Happy Planner Gift Printable 

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Hey everyone, I wanted to jump in and remind you that I have a free printable planner insert for planning out gifts. I made it last year, but it still works great.   I loved using this to keep track of who I have purchased for and who I still need to get a gift for. Also, I alway think of great gift ideas and then forget them.  With this insert I just write it down and then it’s done.

 

Click the link below to access the file and then print at 100%. Cut along the lines to size it down for your planner. (FYI the lines are set to be a little bigger than a regular page, feel free to cut down a little smaller depending on how your printer prints the page.

PDF Gift Planner Insert

Enjoy!

 

Need a punch? I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out! Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper? I buy this one from Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget? Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more? Check out my archive of free printables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

 

What I read: October 2016

I know I am late getting this post out but I still wanted to share my reads from October. I had a fun mix of fiction and non-fiction and even a young adult title in there.  Share what you read in the comments below or friend me on Goodreads to we can keep up with great books.

Grace Not Perfection, by Emily Ley

I had been anticipating this book for MONTHS before its release. I have been a big Emily Ley fan for some time and loved the idea of hearing about how she manages her life. I did a full review of this title here.

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I received an ARC (early readers copy) of this title at the American Library Association conference back in June and finally got around to reading it in October. When it comes to young adult books, there are many I love and many I pass on. In her second book, Yoon is working hard to perfect her skill in really getting teens. One of the reasons I do love YA novels is the way everything is so important to the characters. This resonates so much with my own adolescent experience. This leads to a great emotional read that really connects with the reader. Check it out!


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanith

I have been hearing about this title for some time now and I finally go around to reading it. This is a short book about the author and his life. Diagnosed with a terminal illness In the last year of his MD Paul decides to write about his experience. This book really will give you a new look at life.

 


The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

This is another new book that takes place both in present day and pre-wWWII Germany and Cuba. If you enjoy this social history of this time you will enjoy this story.


My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

This is another novel by the author of “A Man Named Ove.” This is an interesting story from the perspective of the granddaughter of a recently deceased woman.  The daughter learns about her mother, grandmother, and neighbors through the adventures that the death of her grandmother led to.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

AmberDowns.net gift guide- Gifts for the girl boss

Check out this list of great gift ideas for the girl boss in your life. If she loves her planner, Kate Spade and coffee, these are the gifts for her.

I know it is early, but it really is time to start thinking about holiday gifts. I like to have everything done by early December that way I can sit back, sip some cocoa, and enjoy the holiday season without stressing about gifts. Below are some of my favorites this year for the Girl Boss in your life.  These are perfect for the young professional who loves her job, fashion, and a great cup of coffee.

Enjoy!

 

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I love this mug from Ashley Brooke Designs. Perfect for early mornings in the office.

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This bag is perfect for carrying everything to and from work while still looking awesome.

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These Lilly Pulitzer pens are sure to brighten the room.

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I love these desk accessories, so cute!

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They Day Designer is the perfect planner for the busy #girlboss.

 

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These folders are perfect for any lady with a fancy office.

And of course, we would be remiss to not mention this great book in our list.

 

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

Weekly planning with my spouse

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One of the aspects of my planer experience that I get asked about often is how I incorporate my spouse into the planning process. Because we both have work schedules that vary and evenings activities to be aware of, I find that it is critical for my husband and I to get together before the week begins to sit down and line up our schedules. We write down each other’s work schedules, activities, events, and plan out meals. We also make it a priority to carve out time to spend together.

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Generally at the beginning of each month we mark our days off in our personal planners on the monthly pages. This way I can plan ahead for parties and events even if we haven’t gotten to that week. Generally these are just little tick marks or X’s to mark the days.  With this, if a friend asks if we can get together on a Friday at then end of the month I can quickly get a tentative answer. (I would then confirm this with my husband and then add to both of our planners.)

 

Around the middle of the month we glance at the following month to see if there are any days we need to request off in advance. We can then get this information to his boss for his schedule and I can work it into mine.

Alright, on to the week at hand.

When it comes down to the week ahead, first we confirm shift times. We should know the days that both of us work, but we both sometimes have different hours or evening work commitments. We record these as well and if we have holidays of other weird days. In my planner I just write down my husband’s initials next to his work schedule. Generally, I do not write down my schedule because I know it. I do write down if I have an important meeting, something that I need to bring in from home, or an unusual schedule change.. This way I see it before I go in to work.

Next we see if we want to add any plans to the week. A date night? Game night with friends? Trip to the beach? Now that we have out week put together we can see what time we have together and how we want to use it.

After we have our days down we pick meals. Generally, before we sit down I have a list of the meals that I plan to make and then we can write down which days we will have what. Due to our evening events we do not have dinner together at home every night, but we do like to have a plan for the nights we are home.  In the morning when I get up I check the evening’s meal plan and take out whatever is needed for that dinner. This is not a strict plan, but instead a guideline so that we don’t get home hungry with nothing thawed out. We do not write down lunch plans but do prep meals ahead for the week. Often these are just leftovers.

At this point we have a pretty solid plan for the week. I then take this information and fill in my personal tasks around our plans. I schedule my office hours for blogging and household tasks. One way to set yourself up for failure is to give yourself a massive to do list on a day you are booked for 15 hours. It’s just not possible and will leave you upset and defeated. Place those tasks on a shorter day or, better yet, spread them out over the week.

Lastly, I want to leave you with the reminder that this is all flexible. The plans we make change often, and we just have to roll with the punches. Having a basic idea for the week really helps me keep everything in sight, but you know what, some plans are meant to be broken.

My planner: Enjoy the Little Things Happy Planner

Charlie’s planner: An undated kit similar to this one.

We use the Happy Planner punch to add pages and notes to our planners.

Charlie’s stickers are all made by me using my Silhouette Cameo and sticker paper.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

The Happy Planner- This is your year- planner review and flip through

I wasn’t going to do a full review on this planner but I had a few people request that I do a flip through of this one so I figured I’d post some actual decent photos here.

The planner I purchased was This is Your Year. This is a 12 month dated planner going from January 2017 to December 2017. The planner retails for $24.99 and is is set to be released in Micheal’s stores in the end of October and on the Me and my Big Ideas website on the 31st of October.

What drew me to this planner was the neutral colors.  I love that there are not colors to work with so I can make the weeks my own without having to work with a pre-assigned color. The current planner I am using. (review here) has colored weekends and date stamps which are nice, but kind of dictate the colors used on the page.

Below I am going to post photos of the pages, dividers, and monthly spreads to give you an idea of the setup of this planner.   Keep in mind that it is only one of several that are being released at this time.

Along with the items The Happy Planner is releasing deluxe covers, snap in covers, deco pens, and other accessories with even more items, including new sticker books to be released in December.

 

It is a great time to be a Happy Planner!

Have you purchased this planner?  What do you think? Is it worth it?

Need a punch?  I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out!  Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper?  I buy this one from  Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget?  Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more?  Check out my archive of free printables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

Chicago Cubs World Series free planner printable 

Like this post?  “Like” us on Facebook for updates on new posts!img_5322

If you hadn’t heard, the Chicago Cubs have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1945. WOW. Anyways, to commerteate the event I threw together these planner stickers to celebrate the victory and track the games.These stickers will work in the Happy Planner, Erin Condren Planner, and the new Recollections planners from Michaels.

This printable is designed for sticker paper you can print onto regular paper as well. As always, I have provided this printable in both PDF form as well as a Silhouette file for those with Silhouette machines.  Silhouette owners- download the file and open it with the silhouette software.  The cut lines will be ready to go.  Be sure to check your blade settings! Download the Silhouette file HERE.

(Note: I am having issues with my current host for Silhouette files. If the link doe not work please email me at amberdownsblog@gmail.com  and I will send yo the file or create your own cut file form the image below. If you have a better host please send the info my way!

Click the image below to be taken to the full size image.  Print and cut.
Ps- This file will only be available for a week so download today!

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Need a punch?  I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out!  Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper?  I buy this one from  Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget?  Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more?  Check out my archive of free printables.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!