5 tips for keeping sane during busy life events 

Sorry if I’ve been AWOL lately; we are almost to the closing date on our house and we’ve been out of town for a few days. Anyways, I wanted to share with you a few tips for dealing with an extremely stressful week.

 

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1. Write it all down

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We all have different ways of doing things, however, I think we can all agree that it is hard to keep juggling multiple to dos and errands in our heads  for days.  Once I have two or more things to remember I go ahead and write them down.  When I am dealing with a particularly busy time I keep a running  list of to dos.  These are things as simple as “take a shower” and and as complex as “pack the house for the move.” (More on complex list items later.)

Once all the items are on the list you can free yourself from the worry of remembering it all. For me this is extremely therapeutic and actually puts me mentally into a place where I can start to focus on the things on the list.

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Note- If you have an especially large item on our list go ahead and pull it into another column on your paper and make another list where you can write down all the tasks associated with completing that list item.

I use my Happy Planner weekly pages to keep track of regular weeks. When I am dealing with super busy days I add in plain planner paper and use these sheets for to do lists and other info.

2. Find what clears your head

Once you have everything down on paper you will helpfully already be feeling much better. If not, consider doing something that helps you clear your head and puts you into a productive mood.

For me this is cleaning my office. When my office is clean I can really put the pedal to the metal and get work down. Cleaning also triggers a productivity area of my brain and once I get going I can get a lot done. 

Maybe sitting down and reading, exercise,  or taking a shower gets you ready to get into the zone.  Experiment and see what works best for you and can be completed in a short amount of time. (30 minutes or less is ideal.)

3. Prioritize

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Once you have your list and you’ve cleared your head you are ready to get to work. But where to start? This is where prioritization steps in.  Grab a pen and look at your lists (and sublists) and find the 3-5 more time sensitive tasks. These are the items you need done first and foremost. I suggest not picking more than what you can do that day, but other than that how many you choose is up to you. Mark these items with the letter A to the left of the item. This is our first group.

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Next mark items that need to get done, but can wait for the A’s to finish. Mark items that need to happen but are not on a big time crunch or as important with a C.   You now have your three priority groups.

Within your A’s you may want to star the first one or two tasks to denote that these are the most important and must be done first. Generally with the B’s and C’s you will not need to order the tasks.  Also be aware that you are welcome to have four groups (A-D if you feel it works best for you.)  The rule of thumb for these groups is that all the A’s must be completed before you can move on to the B’s and so on. Sometimes I add a fun task to the C’s to help motivate myself to push through my tasks and get there.

4. Allow for “me time”

Remember that when you are going 110 miles per hour that you need to take a break and rest.  Set aside time each day to relax a little. Everyone needs a break and when life speeds up just taking an hour to sit down and relax can sometimes make it all ok.  Consider asking yourself to call it quits an hour before bedtime so that you can sit and read a book or spend quality time with a family member.  Have a glass or wine or enjoy a treat.  We may have a lot going on right now, but giving the body a break and allowing for a little enjoyment will really go far in promoting a positive mental state.

My husband and I have been busy preparing for the move this week. We’ve set a rule that we quit our tasks by 9:30pm so that we can sit down and watch a show and enjoy each others company before we go to bed.  Even though we will not spend a lot of time together, this little bit of quality time really helps center me for the next day.

5. Do what you can

This is something that I cannot stress enough. I feel that I am always reminding stressed out colleagues, family and friends that we can only do what we can do.  We are not super-humans nor should we be. We are just regular people who can only meet human expectations.  You know you best therefore you know when you have too much on your plate. Know that you can say no when others ask you to take on additional tasks. Explain that you have too many other tasks and that you would not be able to do the task to the level that it needs to be done. I know this is very hard to do, but others will appreciate your honesty.

If you cannot decline additional tasks be aware that you can cut some from your list. If baking that homemade cake for a friend’s birthday means you only will get three hours of sleep, then skip it and pick one up at the grocery store. Those who really care about you would rather you be present and rested than up all night with a beautiful cake.

In college I had a roommate who would say yes to everything. She was always willing to help pick up shifts at work, drive friends to the airport, bake treats for parties, and partake in social gatherings with friends.  Often times when we had planned to hang out she was just so exhausted that she was miserable and barely staying awake. I would basically back out myself so that she would just stay home and rest. She was trying to do it all which led to doing everything poorly. Whenever I see someone trying to do it all I remind them of my roommate who just needed to take a nap.
What I want to get across to you with this last point is that you don’t need the weight of the world on your shoulders and if it is, find ways to lessen it. Ask another parent to help with the classroom project, step down from a volunteer position.

Anyways, I hope that these tips can help you when you are struggling with too many tasks and are stressed out about your workload.  If you even only use one of these tips I would consider it a success.

What I read- July 2016

What I read July 2016With the preparations for the sale of our home, July as been quite a busy month.  However I was able to enjoy a couple of audiobooks both at home and during my commute.  I listened to all of these titles on audiobook except for Razor Girl as I read an eGalley.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love audiobooks?  Well, I do.

 

 

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

My first Jasper Fforde book was Shades of Grey and I LOVED it.  As soon as I started gushing about how great that book was a dear friend of mine told me I had to read the Thursday Next series.  Well it may have taken me a year, but I finally started it and I love it.  The series mixes sci-fi, literature, and police work in a way I would have never imagined.  If you love classic literature you will thoroughly enjoy this series.  I can’t wait to read the next one, there are five total in the series. Already hooked? You can buy them all as one ebook here.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I read a man called Ove on a whim when I saw it on the best sellers list.  I didn’t do a lot of research into the book before reading it, but I knew it was about an older man who had lost his wife as well as the will to carry on.  The book turned out to be an adorable tale of  stubborn Swedish man who find friendship and community and regains a reason, and people, to live for.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

I am going to be honest with you, I do not consider myself a Stephen King reader.  I don’t do scary and creepy, so the only book by him that I had read prior to Mr. Mercedes was 11/22/63 (which I LOVED).  I had seen End of Watch on the new book shelf at the library and I thought it looked interesting and not scary.  I picked it up but saw that it was the third in a trilogy so naturally I had to start with the first. Mr. Mercedes is a suspense  novel centered around a retired cop and the case that he never solved.  This is not a whodunnit mystery, instead it is a race against the clock to prevent any other horrible events from happening.  This was a great listen and keep my interest to the point where my phone battery died because I listen for so long.

Razor Girl by Carl

I am a big Carl Hiassen fan.  I love that his books are funny, Florida-centric, wacky, and edgy.  They are my favorites for beach vacations and long weekends when I want an escape and nothing too deep.  I was fortunate to receive an early release copy of this title from NetGalley to review here on my blog.   This title follows Andrew Yancy who we last met in Bad Money. Yancy is a bit of a loose cannon but he is nothing compared the characters we meet in this book. Grab a copy for your next road trip or weekend staycation.


The Girls by Emma Cline

My last read (listen?) for July was The Girls. I had heard a lot of pre-pub buzz for this title in the library world so when I saw it available as an audiobook I figured I’d jump in and give it a listen so I’d know what all hoopla was about.

The book alternates between present day and the summer of 1967.  The story surrounds a 14 year old girl who is bored with her well off California life and befriends a group of girls who live life on the edge with a Charles Manson-like character.  Although the story is an interesting look into life at that time, and life in a cult-esque group, Sadly, I found the book to be lacking in many areas.  The story followed the Charles Mason cult very closely, yet was a totally different story and the characters lacked any dimension.  The main character Evie,  seems to be trying to find herself, but never comes to any conclusions about herself or the world around in and instead we are left with many opens ends and no real answers.  Of course this all is just my opinion and i know a lot of readers really did enjoy this story.

 

 

So these were my reads for July. Although I enjoyed most of these titles I think I want to try and read some non-fiction next month. Have a suggestion?  Share below!

If you’ve been following my recent posts then you know I purchased the new rose gold happy planner(review here)  at Hobby Lobby.  I purchased this item with the intention of making it into a blog planner to help me keep myself on track with posts, social media, and misc tasks related to the care and upkeep of this blog.  Anyways, what I was really excited about with this planner was the opportunity to combine it with my regular Happy Planner and then only have one to keep track of.  Anyways, this is how I did it.

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After looking at the planners I figured out how I would go about this task .

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I would place the entire month from one planner in front of the entire month from another planner.  I chose to keep with my Sugar and Spice Happy Planner and insert months from the rose gold planner into it.  For starters I just inserted August, September and October. I do not have expander rings in this planner so I do not want it to get too chubby.  If it does get too big I will remove the end of the year from it as it is a 18 month planner which is quite long.

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All I did was grab the entire month from the tab until the “currently” page for the next month from the 2nd planner and then I inserted it right before the same month in the new planner.  Super easy and just too minutes!

 

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Here is August from the rose gold planner about to be inserted into my home planner.

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Here you can see first page that I inserted.  For August I inserted the sheets one by one, but after that I just pulled them out by month.

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I really think I am going to enjoy the doubled planner.  I have been trying to focus on having all the information that I need on me at all times and with this I only have one planner to grab to work on my home and blog duties both at home and away.  I plan to bring this planner with me to work so that on my lunch break I can make calls or work on blog tasks without having to rack my brain to remember what I am supposed to do.

 

Of course, as soon as I finished this project I realized that I wanted to have both planners in the rose gold planner instead, but hey, I can work on that another day.

 

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!

July Favorites

Well everyone, its official.  JULY is OVER. Crazy, I know.  Anyways, here are a few of my favorite things from July.  I hope that you enjoy some of them.

March Favorites (4)

 

Infused water
If you follow me in Instagram you may have noticed that I have been drinking and posting TONS of infused waters. My husband actually got me started on them and I love how much water I’ve been drinking lately. It is really working.  (Check out next week for my post with infused water tips and tricks.

 

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Happy Endings
This is a super cute TV show that we stumbled upon earlier this month. Our favorite character? Coach from New Girl as Brad Williams. This is one of those perfect cute little sitcoms to watch when you need to get your brain off of the crazy stuff on Stranger Times.

 

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Librivox
As you know, I am a HUGE audiobook fan and of course, also cheap.  I get most of my audiobooks for free from my library with Overdrive, but of course not everything is available.  Recently I was introduced to Librivox which is a website and app that provides free public domain audiobooks.  These books are narrated by volunteers all over the internet and although all are not awesome, many are.  Anyways, download the app, download  a few books, give it a try, or at least keep it on your phone for a rainy day.

 

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Five Tribes

Now to get a little nerdy.  We love playing board games around here and this is our newest favorite. Its fun, but has a large learning curve.  If you love intense strategy board games than I suggest you check this one out, just watch some youtube videos to get a hang of the rules first.

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Pinterest
With the closing of our next home next month I have been spending way too much time on Pinterest exploring new ideas and DIY projects.  Need some inspiration? Follow me there. (While you are here, check out my post on my recent Pinterest faves for the new house.)

Ideas for the new house

Fun Diy Projects for the patio and garage

So as you may fave gathered, we are moving soon and we are finally to the place where I can start to get excited.  Although I don’t see any issues coming up before closing, you never know. Although I am holding off making big purchases for the home, I am starting to allow myself to daydream about new DIY projects for this house.  I figured I would share some of my favorite idea from Pinterest here.

The house has a lovely patio and pool and I want to focus most of my attention there in the beginning.  We have a plastic patio set that I spray painted but I want to get something new (or repurposed) for the new house.  I was about to purchase one when I realized we have a perfectly good extra table and chairs that we don’t need.  I am thinking that we should paint it white and it would look great in the patio, at least for a few years.

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I heart nap time- Painted table

Or maybe I could spray paint the set?

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In my own style- spray painted wood chairs

My husband recently got a nice saw and so I am thinking a few wood projects might be fun.  This little bottle opener seems perfect and useful!

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Shanty 2 chic- DIY bottle opener

 

And how cute is the grill tools holder?

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Lilluna- Grill tools set

This bench looks like an awesome project but we’d better get some easier stuff under our belts first.

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Ana White- storage bench

And lastly, how awesome is this upcycled file cabinet? I have an extra in my office and this would be perfect for our gardening tools. (I  would have never believed I’d be the person with so many gardening tools that I needed a special holder for them all.)

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Tttreasure blog- File cabinet into garage storage

Which project is your favorite? Have you done any of them?  If so share below! I will be sure to update with what I have done and how it went once we are settled!

Planner review- Rose gold 2016-2017 Happy Planner

If you’ve been following the Happy Planner community then I am sure you are aware that the new Rose Gold horizontal planner has been hitting stores.  This planner is a limited edition item that will only be available at Hobby Lobby and only for a short run.  I was able to pick one up after stalking my store for a week or so.  😉

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I was really excited to get my hands on this planner because I want to try out the Happy Planner take on the horizontal layout.  This is a layout I had been using for years before, but then switched to vertical as it is very poplar for weekly planners such as the regular Happy Planner and Erin Condren planners.

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Anyways, continue on for photos, my thoughts on the planner, and what I plan to do with it.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE that the monthly spreads are so clean.  I have never been a fan of the shaded weekends because not everyone has regular weekends.  I love how clean and sleek the month looks.

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The weekly spreads are nice and simple and vary very little from month to month.  Each month does get one color which is seen on the month at the top of the page, the bottom right corner and the month tab.  This is just enough to give something to coordinate with, but not overtake the month.  Again the weekends are white and clean with plenty of space for writing.

 

Along with other firsts, this is also the first Happy Planner with lined pages.  Because of this I totally feel like I could cram more notes and to dos into this planner than a regular Happy Planner.  I also feel like each day gets more space especially when you notice that the notes area has been moved to below Sunday.

 

Overall I love this weekly view but will have to use it for a few weeks to get the best feel for it.

 

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I LOVE the  foil accents in this planner.  I am seriously going to have to consider framing some of this.  Isn’t this just perfect?

 

My plans for this planner?  I am going to try to combine it with my other Happy Planner for combined work/home/blog planning.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

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!

My experience with Blue Apron

A few weeks ago my husband and I went ahead and tried out Blue Apron meals.  We have been very busy with the buying and selling of our home and figured it would make eating somewhat healthier and homemade a little easier.  We signed up online and were given the option to pick out meals.

My Blue Apron Experience

Because it is just the two of us we went with the three meals for two people box. The meals are $9.99 each so it comes to $59.94 for the box and shipping is free.

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We went online and selected our meals from the six choices. The way Blue apron is set up, you get to pick your meals but not all meal combinations are available. This may be  a cost issue as not all meals cost the same and some ingredients cost more than others.  The three meals we selected were Butter Brown Gnocchi, Sweet Chili Chicken, and  Spiced Shrimp Pearl Couscous.

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Our box was shipped via FedEx one day from New Jersey to our home in Florida.  The box  is designed to be able to sit outdoors in the elements until the evening of the delivery day.  I was home from work that day so I was able to bring it inside and put the items away fairly quickly, but I am sure it would have been fine for  a few more hours.IMG_6054

The box was packed with a thickly insulated inner liner which acted like a cooler for the contents.  The fresh vegetables and other items were on the top of the box and perishables such as meats were on the bottom of the box under a sheet of cardboard and between two layers of ice packs.

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I went ahead and pulled all the items out and stored them.

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All three meals were able to be cooked in a half hour or less and we enjoyed all three of them.  I love that we got to try gnocchi; I had never cooked this before and I doubt I would have tried it if it were not for Blue Apron.  The recipes were all easy to follow and steps were explained.

One thing that I was a little disappointed by was the lack of full nutritional information on the meals.  When you select your meal you shown the calorie count per serving, however no other nutritional information is shared.  We were able to look at the ingredients for the meals to decide if they would fit our needs, but knowing the full nutritional information would be very useful.

Have you tried Blue Apron?  What did you think?

Note:  This is NOT a sponsored post.  I purchased the box on my own and am not being compensated for this post in any way.  All ideas and opinions are my own.

 

The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

Form a solid relationship with your realtor

We were very lucky with our first home purchase in that we were able to team up with a super awesome realtor who understood us, our needs, and our personality.  If you don’t mesh and the realtor does not understand your needs it will be very difficult them to help you find your home.  When building that relationship be sure that you both are able to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

Know your price range

Before even starting the home search most realtors will require you to get a pre-approval from your lender to ensure you are ready and able to purchase a home in your price range.  Remember that just because you are approved for a loan of a certain amount does not mean that you can actually afford that home.  Keep in mind that as a homeowner you will incur many more expenses that you may have not needed to worry about as a renter. (Repairs, replacement appliances, maintenance, ect.) Purchasing a condo or townhouse? Don’t forget to factor the HOA fees.

Know your community

Once you’ve decided you want to buy a house the next thing you need to decide is where.  Use sites like Realtor.com or Truilla.com to get an idea of what houses go for in the areas you are interested in.  Be  very clear with your realtor about the areas

Know what you want

So you know what you have to spend and the area you are interested in; now its time to decide what you need.  Generally speaking, its not financially wise to purchase a home if you plan on moving in two or three years; so when you put together your requirements think about the future.  Decide how many bedrooms and living areas you need as well as if you need a garage, yard, pool, patio, ect.

Know what you can live without

Depending on your area of the county and your price range you may have to make some sacrifices.  Maybe to get the three bedroom home you want you may have to settle for only a one car garage or a house without a patio.  Sit down and discuss what items are very important and what is non-essential. This also means be realistic; you can’t get everything on a shoestring budget, but you can get something.

Once you start the search be diligent with reviewing homes regularly

Right now we are in a seller’s market. Homes are going fast (Mine sold in hours.) and you don’t want to fall in love with a home but wait too long to put in an offer and lose it. Keep up to date with new homes in the MLS that meet your needs and plan to see new homes regularly.  Once you start looking at homes be ready to put an offer in the moment you find one you love. Even after you’ve put in an offer (before it is accepted), keep an eye our for your next option.

Have a plan for your offer

When you find the perfect home and decide to make an offer, time is of the essence.  Have documents from your lender ready as well as easy access to however much you plan to put down as earnest money.  This is money towards closing costs that the buyer puts down when they sign the contact.  This money is generally held in escrow and most often can be returned to the buyer if the deal falls through. Know any contingencies you must place on the offer as well as how long of a closing period you need.

 

After that its a waiting game!  Check back next week for my post on sealing the deal and getting your next home under contract.   Follow up Facebook for updates on new posts!

 

Happy Planner box kit (Summer 2016) review

Hey everyone, I just got my hands on one of the new planner box kits by Me and My Big Ideas, the creators of the Happy Planner.  This summer they released several kits for teachers, students, fitness lovers, and everyone else. The student planner kits are dated, however the rest are undated which means they can be used right away or stored for future use.  Perfect for gifting! These kits are currently available at Michael’s stores and the mambi shop.  They retail for $34.99

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The planner I chose is titled “Best Year Ever” and includes monthly and weekly spreads for twelve months.  It also includes stickers for date labels as well as month labels.  An added bonus are decorative and motivational stickers, sticky notes, and magnetic bookmarks.

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The monthly layout for this planner is fairly simple, each month has a color and so the weekends in the monthly view and the sections in the weekly view with both carry through this color.  The color of the month can also be found in little embellishments throughout the month as well as the divider.

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One of the things I love about this planner is the “Currently page” This is the page at the beginning of the month where you can document current events, favorites, goals, birthdays, and other important notes.  This is a great page to work on as you start to form your month, as well as one to look at at the end of the month to see how you have progressed.

 

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Oh, and this title page is just adorable, isn’t it?

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Have you purchased one of these kits?  What do you think of it?  Share below!

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!

Happy Planner house hunting free printable

Don’t forget to follow on Facebook for updates and new printables!

Home Search Planner Printable (4)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Happy Planner, and one of the things I love the most about it is how customizable it is. With the use of a punch I can put just about anything in my planner.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are currently in the process of selling out current home and purchasing another.  We received the good news the other day that our house in under contact so we the hunt for a new home has begun! I put together these simple little printables to help us narrow down our choices and make the best selection.

This file is  in PDF format.  Print at 100% on an 8.5x11in sheet of paper and then cut down to Happy Planner size. (7in x 9.25 in)I suggest using something a little heavier than copy paper as it is thin and will show through. I like this cardstock. After you’ve cut down the sheet punch it and add it to you’re planner.

Need a punch?  Get one here!

The new Happy Planners are out!  This one runs through December 2017.

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Here we go:

Download the PDF file here!

Like this insert?  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.