DIY coasters from ceramic tiles

February 21
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While prepping for our holiday party we knew that we would want to have a favor to give our guests when they left the party. We wanted the favor to be a custom item related to the party, but also inexpensive and useful. We landed on this coasters made from the same design we used for our party invites.

I had tried making these coasters before but was not 100% successful as the Mod Podge didn’t seem to fully set the design. I ended up with a coaster that got sticky and stuck to my cup when met with condensation.  Not good! Especially if we had tile floors!

 

Anyways, my lovely husband looked into it and decided that if we used a shellac then we might get a better result.  We tried this out and were super happy with the results. The final product will need several coats, but it is an easy process.

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Supplies:
Ceramic tiles
Mod Podge 
Scrapbook paper or printouts
Shellac 
Brush (Just about anything will do)
Felt feet (Amazon seems to have the best deal.)
Newspaper
Well ventilated space

 

Note: Purchase your tiles at a local home improvement store. Amazon will try and change you like $1 each when they are $.10 each at Home Depot or Lowes.

Start but cutting out 4 in squares of whatever paper you want to use to cover your coasters. If you have extra scrapbook paper on hand this is a great time to put some cute pages to use. We have also had luck with printed pages from both our inkjet printer and laser printers.

Once you’ve got your squares ready to go place them on your tiles to make sure you are happy with them.  Good?  Good.

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Lay out your newspaper (Or don’t if you’re brave like me) in your ventilated space and place your tiles on the sheets.  Using your brush spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the tile and then place your paper on the tile. Adjust the paper so it lines up as you want it and then cover with another thin layer of Mod Podge.

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Let this sit for a few hours. When dry it will be time to begin the Shellac process.  We did 4  coats on our coasters.  We did one coat in the morning and another in the evening.

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For the party favors we added g sprinkle of glitter half way through. If you are brave enough to have glitter in your home feel free to try this too. I am not that brave, but luckily the husband is.  Go him!

Alright. Once you have enough coats you can add the felt feet to the four corners of your coaster. After that you’re done.  I like to let them rest a day or two just so that the shellac can cure completely.

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Need an easy gift? Make a set of four and put them in a cute box or tie them up with a ribbon. Done!

 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I gathered inspiration for this post from The Cottage Mama.

 

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. Enjoy!- Amber D.

 

Valentine’s Day ideas

February 12
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Image from @shaycochrane

It’s Feburary, so you know what that means, Valentine’s Day. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the holiday. Not because I don’t love love, but because I hate the expectations and ridiculousness that over commercialization of the holiday has brought.  I love the idea of celebrating love; reminding your special person that you love them; even little gifts or trinkets. I just don’t think we should expect our SO to take us to a fancy meal or buy candy that nobody actually likes.

 

Today I wanted to share a few ideas and things my husband and I have done to share the day without getting caught up in hype.

 

  1. Prepare a new meal at home- Use this as an excuse for you or your SO to try out a new meal from a cooking show or pinterest. Splurge a little on nice ingredients and a bottle of wine and call it a night. No crowed restaurants and you don’t have to worry about having that extra glass of wine as you are already home!
  2. Get dressed up and go out for fast food- We did this on our wedding. We stopped by Tijuana Flats in our full wedding gear to grab a meal before the after party. We had a blast and enjoyed our tacos and the price tag.
  3.  Due to his line of work, my husband often works the evening of Valentine’s Day (to be honest, I always try to get him to work.) Last year I contacted one of his coworkers and gave her a little goodie bag of treats/gifts for him which she delivered to his work area. He loved being surprised by these little goodies when he arrived at work that evening.
  4. Have a pajama night- Buy junk food, snacks, and your favorite drinks and spend the evening on the sofa watching your favorite movies and eating junk. There really is nothing better than enjoying a movie and junk food with your favorite person.
  5. Exchange children’s valentines- Pick up a box at the store and give your favorite’s to your SO. Bonus- use a marker to edit your favorites. *wink wink*

 

Do you have any great alternate Valentine’s Day ideas? Share them in the comments

 

 

What I read- January 2017

February 8
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If you read my post from last month then you know I have some new reading goals for 2017 as well as a new way to visually track my reading.  I have been using Goodreads for a few years now, but I wanted a way to see the number and types of books I am reading in my planner.

This year my goal is to read 65 books with at least 12 of them non-fiction and 12 books that could be considered classics.  Here is how I am doing this month:

 

Here is the list of what I read:

The Husband’s Secret– Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty has been super popular as of late for good reason.  In December I read her newest, Truly, Madly, Guilty and realized she is a great writer. She is able to weave a tale that includes, life, love, suspense, and really lets you feel the characters.  This book is another great display of her work. I actually got my mother a copy of this book for Christmas and when I visited her last week she was about 3/4th of the way through it. She loved it too and totally involved in the characters and what was going to happen next. I can’t wait to read more of her books.

The Case Against Sugar– Gary Taubes

This was one of my non-fiction picks for the month and it is a good one. I have been meaning to read Why we Get Fat, also by Taubes, but hadn’t had the chance. This new book came out in December and is the first book I’ve seen that really explains the history of sugar over the last few hundred years which really puts our current consumption into perspective. If you have any interest in nutrition or the history of food as it relates to diet then this book is for you.

Hillbilly Elegy– J.D. Vance

After Trump was elected the New York Times came out with a reading list that was meant to help the other half understand why small town and southern American voted the way they did.  As a person from the south I did not find this book to be too eye opening, but it was a great read and helped me to better understand my own life and how I got to where I am.  If you are looking for information about the south and how it became what it is today I strongly suggest White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg which is a much more scientific look at the subject.

Small Great Things– Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of those authors that has been around for awhile but I haven’t sat down and read anything by. Small Great Things, her newest title about a black female nurse from conneticut who gets caught up in a murder case due to racism both overt and subtle. This book is a real tear jerker, but also a great insight into life for so many blacks in America.

 

Night– Elie Wiesel

This was my choice for a classic title this month. Night in a 1958 autobiography about the author’s time in Nazi death camps where he lost is entire family. Although a short read, Elie does a great job expanding on his story and sharing what it really felt like to live in is world. A great topical read in today’s world. 
Well that’s it.  What did you read last month? Share  below! 

Winter beauty faves

January 31
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Winter Beauty Favorites

 

Hey friends, I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a few of my favorite products for winter.  Now yes, I know it does not feel like winter AT ALL in Florida this year, but I did spend some time in Chicago this year and have fell in love with a few new things that were perfect for dry damaged skin and hair.

 

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Ponds Dry Skin Cream– I actually bought this accidentally thinking that it was cold cream but was pleasently surpirsed by what it was.  Although not what I was shopping for, this lotion is like an intensive night cream that is so rich and luxurious feeling you’d think you’d spent ten times as much.  Because there is no SPF in this product I only use it in the evenings.  Looking for my favorite daytime moisturizer? Check out CeraVe AM lotion with SPF 30. Perfect for year round use.

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Carmex– This is of course the best lip product for dry lips. Try one with SPF to combat that winter sun.

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Nivea hand cream tins– I have several of these little tins. One at my desk, one in my bag, and one in my nightstand. The cream is a thick hand cream, not a lotion and really moisturizes my hands on the spot.  Bonus: The tins are super cute and yes, the lids do stay on tight.

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NARS Hilighting Blush- When my skin is super dry and lacking color I like to grab a nice hi lighter to bring it back to life. This one from NARS is perfect.  I always prefer a power to a liquid product in this department.

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Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick– When I’m dealing with dry winter lips I switch from my holy grail Kat Von D Liquid Lip to a product that is more moisturizing and covers the problem more. This Tarte Lip butter totally does the job.

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Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque– Hair a dry mess? Try this mask from Nexxus.

What I keep in my work bag

January 13
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What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

Although I sometimes wish I was a full time blogger, I do in fact have a “read job.” I am a the head of the reference department at a decent sized public library. I love my job, and I enjoy going to work every day, but it always seems like I forget to bring something.

Because of this, I put together a little work essentials kit.  This kit stays at work and contains all those little things you just might need during the course of a day or would just make the day go that much better.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

My kit contains
Face palette
Lipstick
Chapstick
Hair ties
Bobby pins (These are my favorite brand)
Deodorant
Tampons (or pads)
Panty liners
Hand cream
OTC pain medication

You may also want-
Pads
Rubbing alchohol
First aid supplies
Makeup

I also try to keep a few snacks in my desk to munch on when my blood sugar gets low or in case I forgot to bring something.

What is great about these little kits is that fit nicely into a desk drawer or a locker so you can leave it at work and have a little more peace of mind knowing it is there. Of course none of the items mentioned are required and your kit should only contain items that you would need within your work day. Don’t waste your time, money, and space, filling it with anything you might need, its not worth it. Just stick with the essentials that you’ve found yourself needing in the past.

As far as bags are concerned, check around your home and see what you have. I used  a freebie from an Victoria’s Secret order but anything will work as long as it fits in your locker or desk.  No locker or desk? This could also be kept in the car as an all around emergency kit, just make sure the lipstick doesn’t melt.

 

 

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. Enjoy!- Amber D.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

New blog design

January 8
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Hey everyone, I wanted to post a little update about the changes around here.  I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes and have finally published the changes.  It is not anything too major, just the formatting and look of the blog. I have made some changes to the sidebar as well.  If you notice anything that seems off or did not transfer correctly please let me know.  My hope is that this new design will be a little more pleasing on the eyes and easier to use.  If you have any questions please let me know!

 

 

Have a great week!

What I read- December 2016

January 5
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copy-of-weekly-planning-spouse-2Another month has past and I read a few more books.  December was a slow month book wise as I do most of my reading via audiobooks during my commute. In December I took a week off to visit Chicago and had several days off for the holidays.


White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

If you’ve ever wanted to dig deeper into the story of class relations in the US then this book is for you. As the title suggests, it goes all the way back to colonial times to explain where, how, and why the class division between whites came about. Although this book is quite deep and long I felt that it was a great piece to really get to understand our world, especially after the most recent election.

 


The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I love David Levithan so when this book came out I knew it would be a perfect Christmas read. This is a sequel to Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. Looking for something cute, christmasy with some romance? These are for you.

 

The Whistler by John Grisham

When I was in college I read The Pelican Brief.  Then I read every other John Grisham book I could get my hands on. One of the few super popular authors that I enjoy, Grisham does a great job of writing an exciting book with a great story, mystery, and not too much mushy stuff. This newest title takes place in my home state of Florida which was fun as well.  Check it out if you’re a fan.


Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

After hearing of the passing of Carrie Fisher on December 27th I grabbed this on audiobook. This latest book which just came out back in November came about after she found her old diaries from when she was filming A New Hope. She shares many of her entries as well s finally comes out with the details about her affair with Harrison Ford. It was bittersweet to listen to the audiobook as she narrates a large portion of the book; however it was a great way to remember her. A must read (or listen) for the female Star Wars fan.

 

And that was December. I am actually surprised I was able to finish this many titles but am happy it happened. Check out this post about my reading goals for 2017.

 

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. Enjoy!- Amber D.

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Happy Planner dimensions

January 3
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One of the most common things I see searched for in regards to the Happy Planner is the dimensions of the boxes. Several people have posted online and shared about one size planner or another, but I wanted to go ahead and share the dimensions of all three sizes of the Happy Planner for both the weekly and  monthly spreads.  Now it is all in one happy little place.

 

I measured my planners and because I am lazy sometimes, I just wrote the dimensions on them. Feel free to print, save, or use my images but please credit me if you share them anywhere.

Mini:

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Daily boxes are 3.8″ wide and 1.5″ tall.

The pages are 7’x4.55″

 

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The monthly boxes in the mini are 1″ wide and 1.25″ tall.

 

Classic:

 

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Boxes in the weekly view of the classic planner are 1.5″ by2.5″

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Boxes on the monthly spread are 1.58″ x 1.58″

The classic size horizontal planner has the same monthly page but this is the weekly page. (I only did one side as the other uses the same dimensions.

Big:

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Boxes on the weekly spread are 3.25″x1.9″

 

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Boxes on the big monthly spread are 1.88″x1.88″

I hope this information helps, I know the images are not the best, and I will hopefully be replacing them soon, but it is a starting pint.

 

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!

 

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2017 word for the year: THRIVE

January 1
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thrive

In 2016 my word of the year was Leap. Last year I challenged myself to “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.”  (Thanks Ms. Frizzle) In 2016 I did make leaps in several area of my life; I started a new job, we purchased a new home, met great people, and I furthered this little blog into something pretty cool.

This year I am focusing on taking what I have done, my relationships, and myself and growing them to be the best they can. I want these, and all, areas of my life to thrive.

From Marian-Webster’s Dictionary

thrive

verb
  1. (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.
    “the new baby thrived”
prosper; flourish.
“education groups thrive on organization”

These are the areas I am focusing on:

What I have done:
My blog is going well, my (new) job is going well, and my new home is finally in some type of order. This year I want to take the time to make these the best that they can be, instead of just getting by,. I want to make great blog posts and provide awesome content. I want to be a great supervisor and librarian in my job. I want to make changes to my home that make it the best it can be. I want these areas in my life to flourish.

My relationships:
My husband and I have been married two years as of December. I of course love him to death but I know that if we do not take the time to focus on and nurture our relationship that we could lose it. The same goes for relationships with family and friends. It is so easy to just ignore these people when life gets rough, but instead I want to nurture these relationships as well and take the time to meet new people and grow my circle of friends.

Myself:
Self-care is important. As I get older I do feel that I am getting better and better at it, but there is still so  much room to improve. I will be turning 30 in July and it is time I really start taking my physical and mental health seriously. I eat fairly well and am good about drinking water, but I need to start getting to bed at a decent hour. This year I want to focus on getting into bed early  so that I am not dead tired when I get home from work. When I get home from work tired the whole evening snowballs: I am too sleepy to cook so we eat junk, I don’t complete the tasks I have planned, and I don’t get to spend quality time with my spouse because I am half asleep on the sofa all night.

I know that these are harder to measure goals and I am ok with that.  Instead of changing habits I want to shift my lifestyle into one that really produces the best in these areas.

 

Do  you do a word of the year? Share it with us or post it on instagram and tag me! I’m @_amberdowns.

Recollections 2017 zip planner review

December 30
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Have you seen the new planner stuff Michaels has released this December? THERE IS SO MUCH AWESOME STUFF.  Seriously, so much. The company has released tons of planners, inserts, and stickers under its private label, Recollections.  Some of the hottest new items are the dated zip up planners.  Most of the December released items are undated, which is great for a crafty person w ho wants to add all the dates, but just doesn’t work for me. I am too afraid of making a mistake and somehow missing a meeting because I dated my planner wrong and thought the 5th was a Tuesday instead of a Monday.

 

Anyways, there are 10 versions of these cute little planners. I got the simple floral one as a gift for a family member but wanted to share it here first with my readers. (SHH)

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What I found most interesting when I first opened this planner was that it was not a traditional Personal or A5 size. These new planners inserts are the height of an A5 planner but the width of the personal size planner. This makes buying inserts interesting.  What is good is the ring size matches up with A5 items so you can use the same punch. Michaels does sell a set of additional inserts for this planner size. They are super cute and are for goal tracking, fitness, television, and other fun activities. They also sell cute dividers and folders for this planner.  I have not currently seen any dated yearly insert packs for this page size, but all of the zip planners come with 2017 inserts so they don’t really need more now.  Also, if you have any other personal size inserts they will fit in this planner. They are not as tall, but will fit the rings as well.

 

FYI:  A5  pages are 5.8″ x 8.3″ and personal size pages are 3.54″ x 7.5.” The inserts that come with this planner are 7.25″ x 3.54″.

 

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My personal size Kate Spade planner with the zip planner inserts. They fit the rings but not the binder.

 

So although these are a unique size, they are super versatile and the binder can hold several different types of inserts.

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The Kate Spade and Recollections planners size by side. (Yes, I totally have lipstick on my planner)

 

 

Anyways, on to the money shots…

 

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Is this title page not beautiful?

 

If you look closely you will see that there is a disclaimer on the bottom saying the company is not liable for any inaccuracies. Have you ever seen that on a planner? I don’t know that I have but it makes sense. A little CYA.

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One of the things I love about this planner is that every month has a goals page and a reflection page. This really helps to keep on track and ensure we fulfill our goals. As far as paper quality goes I would say that these are fine. They are not the thickest pages ever, but plenty good enough.

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Of course next comes the monthly calendar. I wish Saturdays and Sundays had their own spots, but I totally understand why they don’t on this planner.

 

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Each week has a nice and simple weekly view. There is room for goals as well as extra notes. The week starts with Monday and Saturday and Sunday have their own spots.

 

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Remember the reflection pages i mentioned? Yes, the reflection pages in the Recollections planner. This is what they look like. A great way to jump start each new month. Oh, and every month has its own cute divider but I am not going to show you all of them. Gotta have some secrets. :)

This planner can be purchased at Michaels both in store and online. They retail for $29.99 but can easily be purchased for less with a sale or coupon. We currently do not know if this is a one time product or if they will return to the shelves after they are sold out.

Anyways. I hoe you enjoyed this quick little review. If you have any questions feel free to ask them here or, for a faster answer, ask me on Facebook.

 

review of the 2017 recollections zip planners at michaels. This is a great weekly planner similar to a5 or personal size.

review of the 2017 recollections zip planners at michaels. This is a great weekly planner similar to a5 or personal size.

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