How I plan my week

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How I functionally plan my week in The Happy Planner

As you may know, today is the first day in the new 2016-2017 Happy Planners.  In honor of today I wanted to share a little bit about how  use my Happy Planner to organize and plan my week.  I know I have posted on this topic before, but today I want to focus on the parts of the week planner that i use and how.  This post will be about what works for me; of course everyone’s life is different so my system may not work for you, but it might give you ideas and insight into how to make your planner work for you. Please not that although this post in similar to a “plan with me,” I will be focusing on my general layout/planing system instead of the creative process of putting together an appealing layout.

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First of all this planner has a Monday start. Because of this I sit down before the start of the week and start thinking about the week ahead.  I prefer to do this on Sunday, but it could happen any day Friday-Sunday that I have the time.  First I speak with my husband and jot down his schedule for the week as well as any engagements he has or has roped me into.  Because he works in entertainment his schedule is not fixed. I like to know his additional plans for the week as well so that I can plan means or plan my own events.   Now that I have an idea of the general make up of the week I can sit down with the week view of my planner.



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The first thing I do with my weekly view is my decorating.  As you my have noticed from my spreads, I tend to keep my weekly layouts simple with lots of white space.  Today I went a little wild and downloaded a free printable weekly kit from My Planner Life.  I stumbled upon her blog last week and it is awesome!  She also includes free Silhouette files so you can print and cut her stickers.  I chose this kit for the week of June 27-July 3rd.

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When I place my stickers I am already thinking about where and how I want things.  I keep the same basic setup each week so it is relatively easy.  The top section of each day is my to do list.  This is where I jot down tasks as they come to me.  I refer to this section the most and I like it to be simple and readable. This is also where I place functional icon stickers like yoga, trash, and others.

In the middle section of each day I have a place for my dinner plan, my  husband’s work schedule, and any other events or important things going on that day.  I also mark holidays, important work meetings, and other events in this space.  If you have kids this is a great place to record their events, playdates, or school functions. Or, if you’re in school jot down your own school events.  I write down all or most of my meals at the beginning of the week.  After they have been decided on I look through my fridge and pantry and add any grocery items that I need to my grocery app, AnyList.  This app shares my list with my husband so that we can both add to the list as well as see it when we are in the store.  I am notorious for writing a great shopping list only to leave it at home or end up shopping before I was planning on it.

Note on work meetings: I have a separate daily planner for work, however I have been leaving it at work at night so I don;t look at it before I leave the house.  If I have something for work that I need to remember before I leave the house I add in in my personal planner.  All other work events and notes are in my work planner.

The third section of each day is where I do my blog planning.  I like to write down the posts that need to go up along with reminders to do social media.  I also jot down any blog related to-dos in that section as they come to me.

I tend to switch up what I use the sidebar for.  This month I am tracking my spending.  This way I can go back and see if there are any areas in my life where I need to cut back.  In the past I have used this area for a grocery/shopping list, packing list, or just general notes.  See what works for you.


Although I like to decorate my planner I always try to keep the focus on functionality first. This means a neat organized layout with space to write down everything I need in a clear and logical fashion.  With the start of this new planner I am working to dedicate myself to really following through with my plans.  To do this I am making it a habit to look at my planner first thing when I get up as well as right before bed.  This way I can ensure I am reviewing the day and preparing for whatever I will need.

Like this planner?  Get your own here.

Want free planner printables?  Check our my archives here.

 

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!

 

Travel planner inserts

 

 

Free travel information planner inserts for personal sized planners.  Print and cut these inserts for your next vacation!A month ago my husband and I traveled to Maryland to attend his high school reunion and do a little visiting and sight seeing.  Because we were flying and short of space, I left my regular planner at home but opted to bring my small Kate Spade personal planner.  I have been using this planner off and on for travel, events, and note keeping.  After the trip, I noticed for for travel there are a few main topics I wanted to keep notes on. Because of this, I made this set of inserts specifically for traveling.  These are not dated sheets and are instead notes sheets/prompts that can be used to ensure that when you are traveling you are bringing all the important information with you.

 

Please read:
If you choose to use these inserts please be aware of your own personal security. Keep the planner on your person at all times and carry it safely in your bag. Travel information is sensitive and should be treated as such. 

 

Click here for the PDF: travel Inserts

To use these inserts please print the PDF file at 100%.  I printed on regular computer paper, however if you want something thinker you might enjoy this 24 lb. paper.

Need a punch? I love this Rapesco punch because it works for both personal sized planners and a5.

 

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.Anyways, enough talk, here is the printable.  Enjoy!

Free printable summer planner stickers

 

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Free Printable Planner Stickers with Silhouette file! (1)

With summer here I wanted to put together  new sticker set for my new Happy Planner. These stickers are similar to my spring set, but still awesome. I hope you enjoy using them in your planner. They are designed to fit in the Happy Planner as well as the Erin Condren planner and will work in many others.

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.

 

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Click the image below to be taken to the full size image.  Print and cut.

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!

 

Six tips for saving money at Michaels

If you’re anything like me, then you love craft stores. I am there all the time for planner supplies, personal craft supplies, work supplies, and sometimes just to get some inspiration.  However, if you’ve ever been in Michael’s then you know you can easily drop a pretty penny there. I am going to share with you here some of my tips for saving cash at Michael’s.

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1 Download the app:
The first thing you need to do to start saving at Michaels is to download their app.  The app is free and available for Andriod and iOS devices. With the app you have access to store locations, coupons, and sales flyers at the tip of your fingers.

2. Check the ad:
Michaels have items on sale all the time.  These sales very from 25%-60% off and BOGO Free and BOGO 1/2 off of items.  You may sporadically see B2Get1 Free and other sales throughout the store.  Most (But not all) coupons are for regular priced items.  If you plan to use a coupon you need to check if an item is on sale before you attempt to use the coupon.

2. Check your coupons:
Generally if you have the app all available coupons will show up there.  Of course you could have special coupon from an event, email, or other source. Michaels regularly puts out a 40% off one regular priced item coupon.  This can be found in the app, ad, or on a receipt from a prior purchase.  This coupon can be used over and over again, but is limited to once per day.  Because there is a Michael’s near my workplace, if I need more than one item I just go back the next day or have my husband go with me and buy it.  Be sure to check the wording on the coupon.  Some coupons only apply to one item, some coupons only apply to regular-priced items.  The wording matters.  Many items are regularly excluded from coupons.  These items (currently) include Silhouette, Circuit, Polaroid, and other brands as well as everyday value products and others.  Check out the entire policy here.  Keep in mind these are just the general exclusions, check the fine print on your coupon to see what exclusions apply.

3. Subscribe to emails:
New email subscribers receive a 20% off their entire purchase coupon.  This AWESOME coupon includes sale items. I suggest waiting until the items are want are on sale and then subscribing to the email list to get a coupon to use on top of the sale price.  Example:  Project Life albums are on sale 40% off.  You purchase on that is regularly priced $21.99.  With the sale is it $13.19 and then when you use the 20% off coupon it will come to $10.55.  That is half off.  Awesome!

4. Pay with gift cards:
Still want to save?  Pay with a discounted gift card.  Whenever I make a major purchase I check Raise for discounted gift cards to the store I am interested in.  Right now they have discounted cards up to 21% off.  Click here to get $5 off your first gift card.

5. Use competitor coupons:
Michaels, along with other craft stores, accept competitors coupons.  This means if you have a coupon to Jo-Anns for 60% off a regular priced coupon you can use it at Michaels.  Big Deal, I know.  They currently accept coupons from AC Moore, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts, Ben Franklin, and Hobby Lobby.

6. Be aware of sale cycles:
Just like at the grocery store, product lines and categories that go on sale do so on a regular basis.  As I already mentioned, I know that Project Life items regularly go 40% off every few weeks.  This means that instead of wasting my 40% off on one item coupon on an album, I’ll wait for it to be on sale and then use an email coupon or another coupon that includes sale items. Of course some items, like adhesives, never go on sale, so using that 40% off one item coupon on that would be a smart idea.

Have another tip? Share it below!

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page.

The move part 2: Preparing your home for sale

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One of the major aspects of our move is getting our house ready to put on the market.  We met with our realtor and went over a few simple things we could do to get ready.

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1. Remove the clutter
My husband and I are both big collectors. We have stuff.  We love our stuff and love having it in our home, however our prospective buyers  may not love the Pyrex, Lego, and Robots we adore.  Because of this we removed these personal touches to make our home look as clean and hotel like as possible.  We also went through and cleaned up any piles of random stuff sitting around.  This included old cards on the entertainment center, knickknacks, and family photos on the walls.

 

2. Really remove the clutter
We rented a storage unit on a month by month basis to store our belongings.  Interested in free moving labels? Check out this post. This way the stuff really was gone which made our house look larger which was great.  Look into specials at companies in your area.  Many offer a discount up to a free first month.  This is great if you only plan on staying a few months! (Tip: Select a drive up unit, its worth it.)

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3. Refresh
We really wanted to give our bathrooms and master suite a spa like feel.  To achieve this we bought new towels, bath mats, and a shower curtain to freshen up the rooms. We generally prefer to keep our bedroom fairly dark, but for the sale we opened up the room, removing the blackout curtains, and opening the roman shades. Just like in the other rooms, we really cleaned out the clutter putting it away in storage.

 

4. Open the closets
Just like the rest of the house, your closets will look larger with less stuff.  We are selling our home in the summer so we placed our winter clothing along with special occasion clothing in storage to open up closet space.  Closets, especially large master closets, are a selling point in homes.  Make sure all walk in closets are  sparsely filled and welcoming so that potential buyers can walk in and imagine their stuff in their without feeling crowded out by yours.

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5. Clear the kitchen
You’ve seen kitchens in magazines, they have wide open counters with only a coffee maker or less on them.  When staging your home to sell remove as much as possible from the counter.  We went ahead and stored some of the extra dishes in our cabinet which allowed us a cabinet to use for all those things we like to keep on the counter.  This way we had access to them, but the house was ready to show at a moments notice. Don’t forget to remove artwork and magnets from the fridge.

 

6. Remove pets
Once you are into the part of the sale where you are showing the home any animals need to be removed.  For us this was the hardest part.  Ask friends and family if they are able to watch your pets in their home as you want to remove any pet hair and scent from yours.  TIP: Even if you don’t notice a pet smell in your home, others may.  As a truthful friend without pets if they notice anything when they walk in.  After we removed our pets we deep cleaned the area of the home where the spent the most time and where we stored the cat litter boxes.

 

I know this all sounds overwhelming when you read it all at once, but take it a day at a time and work on one area a day.  This helps to divide the workload and give daily jobs and goals.

Summer Dinner Ideas

delicious summer recipes to try

With summer nearing I am thinking more and more of light, airy, tropical meals. The type of meals that, even if they are warm, are refreshing on a warm summer day.  Here are a few I’ve gathered that I’d like to try this summer.

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Fajita Chicken Kebab– I love making Fajitas year round, but these look super simple and can be made o the grill, perfect for keeping the heat out of the house.

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Springtime Veggie Pasta Primavera– This pasta dish looks like a perfect pot luck side.  Nice and light for a warm day.

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Corn, Avocado, & Black Bean Summer Salad– This is basically all of my favorite things in a salad. I am already thinking I need to make some next week.  This can be eaten alone or with chips.

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Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos–  Fish tacos have been one of my go to restaurant dishes for a few years now.  They are something I love, but am usually too lazy to make.  I think I am going to suck it up and try these out this summer, what do I have to lose?

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Strawberry Bacon Blue Cheese Salad– Light, healthy, and full of nutrients, this salad is the perfect fun summer salad.  It freaking has bacon!

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Grilled Coconut Lime Shrimp in Foil– Remember hobo dinners?  These sound like a perfect summery version.  Perfect for cookouts, camping, or other outdoor events.  Make them ahead and toss them on the coals!

 

Have you tried any variations of these? What did you think?  Have a favorite summer recipe of your own? Be sure to share it with me below!

What I read: May 2016

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This year is my second year participating in the Goodreads reading challenge.  I love using the site to make a goal and then see and follow my progress.  They keep me on track and let me know when I am ahead and behind in my goals.  My goal for 2016 is to read 50 full-length books.

 

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As I transitioned into new employment I have been listening to a lot of audio books this last month.  This allows me to be use my commute time as reading time.  With this I was able to get a few books read in May, but not as many as I would have liked to.  Below is the list of books I read along with short reviews.

The War that Saved my Life– Kimberly Brubaker Bradley:  This children’s book (middle grades) is a great piece  historical fiction on World War II.  The story follows a brother and sister from London and their experience being evacuated to the countryside to escape bombing.  The main character Ava, was born with a club foot.  The author did a great job giving readers an understanding of how life was like for a child born with this defect and how her mother dealt with it.  Although this book was written for children is is a deep read and a tear jerker for adults.


Lucky You– Carl Hiaasen:  I love this author; his books are hilarious but also a great reminder of the environmental issues that Florida has, and continues to deal with on a daily basis.  Lucky You is about greedy lotto winners who were not content with  a 14 million dollar win and instead do whatever it take to try and get the rest of the winnings.  I love Hiaasen for vacation reads as they are not too deep and always good for some laughs.

 


Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: David Sedaris- This is the first book by Sedaris that I have read, but I enjoyed it.  His books are collections of essays about his life and experiences.  They are laugh out loud funny and great to read or listen to in short bursts.  I listened to this on audio and it is narrated by the author which is always fun.

After You: Jojo Moyes- No I haven’t seen the movie for Me Before You yet,  ( My husband would go with me if I asked, but I know he doesn’t want to.) Anyways, I did get a chance to listen to After You which was a great way to continue the Story of Luisa after Me Before You, especially if you have interest in, or are dealing with loss of a loved one.

 

I have several half finished books to report on next month.  Keep your eyes out for a long list!

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page.

Happy Planner date stickers + Bonus

free printable date stickers for the happy planner  Use these blank stickers to change the date on your planner. Works for Erin Condren as well!  Silhouette file included.

 

Hey guys, I was putting together a spread in my Happy Planner when I realized that I needed an additional weekly spread. I had put one together months in advance for a blog post and later realized it was not going to work for my personal needs that week.  My solution? To grab a week from later in the planner when I will have moved on to my new planner.  The problem of course was that this week was already dated with incorrect dates for what I needed.  To fix this I went ahead and made this cute little semi-circle stickers that you can place over the dates so you can make your own.  I did not date them so you can use them whenever you want.  As a bonus I included some of my favorite planner stickers, I hope you like them!

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Anyways, below is a printable PDF of the page. Print at 100%

Planner Date Stickers

Need a punch?  Buy the MAMBI one here, or get  this one off amazon for only $19 and free prime shipping.
Need a planner?  Try this undated version so you can begin it whenever you’d like!
The new Happy Planners are out!  This one starts in July.
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.

 

Like this printable?  If you use it tag me in a photo on Instagram! @_amberdowns.

 

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

May favorites 

 

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Hey everyone. I’m just here to share my favorite things from May. Enjoy!

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App:
Genius Scan– I discovered this little app at work last week when I mentioned to a patron that he might want to scan a document and email it instead of faxing. Then patron then mentioned that he uses this app and so I tried it out and I love it. I do have a scanner at home, but this was super simple. All I had to do was take a photo of the document and then it coverts it to PDF which I can email to myself or anyone. I used the app on my iPhone 6s, but it also work for Android. I’d suggest using the app on a later model phone as it will need a decent camera to function. Did I mention? Its my favorite price, free!


Beauty:
I am currently loving L’oreal True Match Naturale Powder Mineral Foundation I purchased this item several months ago and then stuck it in my cabinet and forgot about it. Well a few weeks ago, after being fed up with a few other products, I whipped this out and promptly fell in love. I am a full coverage gal, and haven’t tried something as simple as a mineral powder foundation in several years. I used Bare Minerals in the past, but hadn’t in forever. Anyways, I think this product is better. Like with any other drugstore beauty product, I ditched the brush and use my Real Techniques buffing brush for application. I have been using this brush for liquid foundation as well and I love it. The powder goes on smooth and covers very well. The product is buildable and I usually place two coats on my more difficult areas such as my chin and under eyes. I think my favorite prat of this product is that is light and breathable. As someone who is familiar with full coverage foundations, I am also familiar with the weight of them. This powder is so nice and light I forget I am wearing it, which is awesome. The best part? It is only $14ish and available all over.


Misc:
After my recent transfer to a new library I started noticing my eyes were twitching occasionally.  I looked into it and it turns out this is often caused by too much screen time with the wrong lighting, something I totally am dealing with at this new library.  To combat this issue it was suggested I try computer glasses.  After looking into this and making sure it wasn’t just  scam, I ordered a pair off Amazon.  The ones I ordered are not the top of the line glasses, but a god pair to try out the idea for $10.  So far I do notice it helping, I am also trying to cut back a little on screen time when I can.

Food:
While at the Orlando Fringe Festival this year I purchased this amazing BBQ Sundae.  I had one last year and they are amazing.  I wish I knew the name of the food truck vendor, but just trust me, its great.  They layer your choice of BBQ meat with beans, slaw, and a pickle and top it with a roll. A great, portable, meal for $10.


Fashion:
I know I’ve already mentioned in on the blog, but I’ve been living in the linen dress from Old Navy. I don’t shop there often, but when I do stop in I often find something I like. Check for sales, I was able to snag it for half off!

 

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

Visit to NC

A few weekends ago I was able to take the time to fly up and see my sister and her family in North Carolina.  Her, her husband, and their 10 month old son live in a cute little community just north of Charlotte.  I try to get up there at least twice a year now that my nephew is around.  We enjoying spending time hanging out around the house and going on little adventures.

We are very fortunate to have access to a small airport serviced by Aligent Airlines close to her home.  This makes it super easy for her to drop me off and pick me up from the airport, especially with the baby. I also love that the flights are super affordable!

This trip we went on a few adventures. My sister Andrea and I took the time to visit a local brewery near here.  We visited Lake Norman Brewing Company on a Saturday and enjoyed a flight and purchased a growler to take home.  This is a super small brewery/tap room and they had this cute map on the wall where you can mark where you were from.  I was the first one to mark my hometown!


 Sunday we took the trek into Charlotte with my sister and nephew and finally got to visit the Olde Meck Brewery. The oldest brewery in the area, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is the disney world of breweries.  This family friendly brewery is a great place to spend a few hours one afternoon.  They offer tours, a restaurant, food trucks, a huge biergarten, live music, and banquet rental space.  Although we missed the tour, we loved visiting the facility and seeing the selections and mood.



If you are ever in the area, wether you enjoy craft beer or not, I suggest you stop in and check out this facility.  (Also we love NoDa Brewing located in Charlotte.)

On the last day of my trip, we had the chance to visit the local library for storytime with my nephew Levi.  Although he is still a little young for the program, we had a great time listening to the stories and singing the songs.  Levi loved seeing and exploring the other babies and toddlers in the class.  We also enjoyed exploring the library itself and checking out what they offer.

Overall this was a great little trip and I look forward to getting up there again in the fall to visit.