DIY decorative paper clips

February 29
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small comission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site.

DIY decorative paper clips for your notebook, planner, paper,s work, binder and other needs. Make these cute clips and binder clips with hot glue gold paperclips, and paper crafting embellishments.

If you’ve been on Instagram or Etsy then I’m sure you’ve seen the super cute paper clips that everyone seems to have.  They are adorable, but they can get pricy.  I decided I wanted to have some cute clips that I could make myself.  I went to Michael’s and looked around my home and came up with the supplies.  My biggest cost was the gold paper clips which were $4.99 at Michael’s. Luckily I did have a coupon so I paid less.  Anyways, these are a great way to add some fun to your planner, desk, homework, or job.


Supplies needed:

Hot glue gun or other strong glue.  (e6000 is great also.)
Cute paper clipsbinder clips
Bows/paper/embellishments to glue on
Nail polish (If doing the binder clips)

I started with the bows as these are my favorite.  I purchased my red bows at micheals after chrisrtmas on clearance.  THe gold and black bows were from Hobby Lobby.  I was able to get them half off during a week where they did half off all house brand papercrafting.  (yay!)

When I do the bows I like to place the clip under a support that hold its parallel so that bow stays on nicely instead of being at a weird angle.  My bows had double sided tape on the back.  I removed the tape and the added some hot glue.  I set the paper clip in the glue and then added more glue.  This afixes the clip flriminy onto the bow.  If you wanted to be really fancy you could add glitter to the back but I am not fancy nor did I want the mess.  I let these dry while moving on to the next clips


My next clips were these cute cupcakes.  These were found in the scrapbooking embellishments area at Michaels. I decided I wanted the cupcakes that were the same size and shape to be used together as a double sided clip so I started there.

These had larger adhesive areas for scrapbooking and I didn’t want them to stick to my planner pages so first I covered both sticky sides with hot glue.  I then added in the clip and glued some more.  Because these were fairly flat I didn’t need to use a spacer.

Next I did the single cupcake, careful to cover all of the sticky back to protect my paper.

I had this little bag of cute die cuts and I waned to use one of them as a clip.  I found this cute mustache and thought it would be perfect.  For this I used a slightly smaller clip.

Lastly I wanted to spruce up my gold clamps from Hobby Lobby.

For these I just grabbed some cute nail polish and went to town.  I painted one side and then let it dry before going on to the other.


Don’t they look so cute?


2016-2017 Happy Planner Review

February 27

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So my lovely husband was able to get me one of the new 2016-2017 happy planners at Hobby Lobby Yesterday so I figured I’d go ahead and do a little review.  When I was doing the research to see which one to buy I had a hard time figuring out what each one looked like on the inside.

 The planner that we decided to go with was this one called ” Enjoy the Little Things” which I feel is an important thing to remember and one that I sometimes forget. This planner was made by Me & By Big Ideas along with Sugar & Type. I love that the cover is nice and simple and it comes with the gold rings which my last Happy Planner has as well.

 The interior of the cover has a bold black and white stripes and of course the front page where you can put your contact information in case the planner gets lost.


 A new addition this year is a 2 page spread of all the 2016-2017 dates.  This is totally helpful in event planning and a great addition without taking too much space.

 This planner has a Currently page for each month were you can add in important information as well as a little bit about your life that month for memory keeping.  My current Happy Planner is “Every Day is a Gift’ and focuses more on upcoming events rather memories from the month.  The entire Happy Planner line is designed to be a planner but also has a heavy focus on memory keeping and this is evident in these pages.  Across from the Currently page, each month has a card stock page with an inspirational quote or print and a think laminated tab.  (Laminated tabs were introduced soon after the first Happy Planners came out.) Sadly I got first one before the switch and man, let me tell you, the lamination is going to come in handy.

 Sadly MAMBI did not fix one my biggest gripes with pervious planners.  In the monthly view the planners have a Sunday start to the week (like a regular calendar.) However, in the weekly view the week start with Monday.  This is difficult and annoying for many of us, especially for my husband who’s workweek is Sunday-Saturday. (Yes he has a Happy Planner, more on that in a upcoming post.)  I also run into problems in transferring information as they don’t line up.  But anyways, as before the weekends are highlighted on the month view and there is lots of space to fill in events.  I do love that both Saturday and Sunday get their own box. In my Kate Spade Wellesley planner they share a box which is annoying.

  Ok, on to the week view where we have my favorite change.  No more Morning, Afternoon, and Evening boxes!  Now I know that MAMBI came out with undated planners without the dates back around Christmas but I didn’t get one because I am lazy and would have screwed up the date placement. I am so glad MAMBI listened to this and got rid of the boxes.  I had been using stickers to relabel the titles but then I got lazy again (big surprise) and started just knowing what the boxes were without the stickers.  Now that they are gone we’re good to go.  This planner features black lines between the boxes. Other planners in this line have thicker pastel boxes.  I opted for the simple black.  Also, in this planner the dates are in pastel semi circles on top. Others have brighter colors, again this was a personal choice.

In this planner each month has one color for the accents.  It is used as the weekend color in the monthly spread and as the dates and weekend color in the weekly view.  In this planner the designers made some color choices that I don’t love, but will be able to deal with. For example, December 2017 is pink.  Pink?  Yes.  Luckily I will probably be on to another planner by then, but still!

Overall I am happy with the planner purchase and look forward to using it come July. Have you purchased a new Happy Planner?  Do you plan to?  I wanna know!  Let me know in the comments or tag me on instagram!  @_amberdowns

IInterested in teh Botanical Gardens planner?  Check out a review at Kell of a Good Time.

Wanna see my original review of the Happy Planner? Click here.

Want a free printable address book sheet for your happy planner? Click here.

What about a goal planning worksheet?  Click here.

Need stickers for your planner?  See my freebies here.


Spring DIY round up

February 26
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SIX Super Simple DIYs for Spring

Spring is in the air, or at least it feels like it here in Florida.  I love to get a little crafty in the spring and put together some simple decor for my home.  I am not the most skilled crafter, and really anything more that some glueing can be problematic so I am sharing super simple ideas in the hopes that I can make one of them myself successfully.  Click through to the creator to find the instructions.  Enjoy!


Recycled Bunny Vase by Weekend Craft


Five Minute Umbrella Wreath by One Good Thing


Mini Frames Spring by  A Diamond in the Stuff


Easter Chicks by Myrtle and Eunice


Spring Mason Jars by I Heart Naptime


DIY Printable letter banner by Shanty to Chic


Did you make one of these crafts?  Show me!  Comment below or tag me on Instagram  @_amberdowns.



Favorite drug store beauty products of 2015

February 24
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item from a link on this page I may receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay. 

My 6 favorite drugstore products of 2015- Why I love these frugal/ budget friendly beauty, hair, and skin products that you can purchase anywhere.


I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few of my favorite drugstore products of 2015.  I love to use drug store products, but hate buying them and finding that are not as good as advertised.  Below are a few products that i feel are as good as high end items at a fraction of the cost.

CoverGirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor (On sale at Amazon for only $6.99 with $2 off coupon!)
I have a huge problem with lipstick wearing off.  I have tried practically every brand and within an hour its gone.  I ran across this in CVS one day and grabbed it on a whim.  Well turns out its amazing.  Yes, it is a liquid product which is a little more drying, but it comes with a super cool clear coat that locks in moisture and provides shine.  I have tried other high end brands of liquid lipstick since this product and although they work, this one is just as good and half the cost.


Maybelline Baby Skin Instand Pore Eraser  $4.49 on amazon
I started using primers about a year and a half ago and let me tell you, they are amazing.  Now, you will notice this produce is not advertised as an primer, but it is.  I had been pretty loyal to Smashbox, but $36  was starting to get a little pricy so I tried this.  It’s basically the same thing and makes my makeup application dreamy.  (Yes, dreamy.)  Even if you’ve never used a primer before, for $5 this is worth a shot.  (Trust me!)

L’oreal SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray

Ok, this product is awesome, but it might just over do it on claims. I discovered this on sale at Target last year and have been in love ever since.  I use it on wet hair before blow drying to reduce frizz and leave a silky smooth texture.  I also use it before using a flat iron and it really helps reduce the crazy bulky feeling of my hair.  I love that it doubles as a heat protectant spray, so that is on less item to buy.  As a resident of Florida I deal with gross frizzy hair all the time and this really helps combat the issue.  I also use it before curling for a little protection.  Does it last three days?  Maybe in the winter, but lets not get too crazy.  Besides, for $5 what more could you ask for?

Herbal Essences NAKED Dry Shampoo

This product is from the naked line that Herbal Essences came out with.  It claims 0% paraben and colorant; It also comes in a pretty matte can. I am a dry shampoo lover; as an owner of colored red hair I avoid shampooing whenever possible.  I have trained my hair to go at least 2 days between washing, but sometimes it gets a little oily by the 3rd day.  This is where the dry shampoo comes in.  I have tried every drugstore dry shampoo and it wasn’t until this product that I found my favorite.  This dry shampoo, unlike other brands, goes on clear and does not leave an icky white residue.  Perfect for those of us with darker hair and roots, and those who don’t want any more gray then necessary.  I spray this onto  my roots area, let it sit for a few minutes then brush out and style as usual.  Viola! Another day without washing my hair.

Sally Hensen Complete Salon Manicure

This nail polish has been around for a few years now but I continue to enjoy it.  At $7.99 a bottle it is one of the more expensive drug store polishes but its worth it.  I have the biggest problem with nail polish chipping and wearing off too fast.  This polish, along with a good bottom and top coat really do last and make painting your nails worth the time.  This polish goes on sale all the time so keep an eye out.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 for Normal to Dry Skin

This is my current go to morning moisturizer.  This product delivers the moisture my normal to dry skin needs as well as provides a great layer of sun protection.  (Super important!)  I love that it is in a bottle with a pump instead of a a tub as this keeps the bacteria and germs from my fingers out of the rest of the product..

Have you used these products?  What do you think?  Do you have some favorite drugstore beauty products? Share them in the comments!



Spring planner stickers

February 22
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Planner stickers pink and teal Amber Downs (1)

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I wanted to add some fun planner stickers for spring. Ok, spring and some food.  Who doesn’t need taco stickers, am I right?  Anyways, these will work with any planner, but the  pink and turquoise  flags are designed for the Happy Planner and Erin Condren planners.

As always, I have included the high resolution image file to print and cut out by hand as well as a Silhouette file for those with a Silhouette cutting machine.  Click HERE for the Silhouette file.


Click the image below for the full size printable.

Planner stickers pink and teal Amber Downs


Thanks!  If you use these stickers share a photo on Instagram and tag me! @_amberdowns.




9 deals at Ikea you need to know about

February 20
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The 9 deals at Ikea you need to know about. Hacks, products, and the best deals for your budget.
KOPPLA – 2 pack extension cord $5.99

I am always looking for another one of these.  2 for six bucks?  Great to grab just in case.

NACKTEN Bathmat $2.99

This simple mat is great to have as a spare. Grab two at that price

NACKTEN Shower Curtain $1.99

I know they sell shower curtains at the dollar tree, but have you used them?  They are too thin.  For two bucks you can get something decent that is totally disposable.  Perfect for a drop cloth, craft, or something you can toss if it gets dirty.


 ALKALISK Alkaline Batteries 10 pack  $1.99

Ten batteries for two dollars.  Do I need to say anything more?  Perfect for flashlights and toys.


 RAJTAN Spice Jar four pack $3.49

Although one of the more expensive items on my list, these jars are super cute and great for crafting, storage, gifting, and other uses.  Less than a buck each.


 PROPPMATT Chopping board $6.99

Again not the cheapest item on the list, but this is a great deal for a cutting board if you need one.  I doubt you’ll find a wooden board for less.


 TOKIG Salad Spinner $3.99

I love this supper simple, super cheap spinner.  When not spinning, this is great for popcorn bowl.


TRYGG Serving Bowl  $2.49

An Ikea staple, this large bowl is a must have item for entertaining.  A trifle would look great in this.

SMACKER Flatware Tray $.99

This lovely tray is a steal at a dollar.  An easy update for your kitchen that could also be used in a bathroom or office.


Want more Ikea info?  Check out my Ikea tips post here.


Kate Spade Wellesley planner review

February 17

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Kate Spade Wellesley Planner Review - Check out this great 6 ring personal size planner similar to Fiilofax a6 , kikki k, and others.

I was wandering through the Kate Spade outlet the other day and ran across the coveted Kate Spade Wellesley planner.  This item has been super hot for some time now with planner lovers and I had been searching for one a few months ago but gave up.  The store was having a big 60% off sale so went ahead and grabbed one.  They had them in pink and black.  I went with black to match my other Kate Spade items.  I prefer to purchase higher end items in neutral colors and then accessorize with more inexpensive items in popular colors for the season.

For those who are not familiar with this item, it is an outlet only product and is the same size as a Filofax personal or a6 planner, which is a medium with Kikki-K.  This is the perfect purse sized product and can even be used as a wallet if the owner wanted it.  Because it is an outlet item, it is not sold online and can be quite difficult to get ahold of.  My store said they were always getting calls from girls looking for it and when they are in stock they fly off the shelves. This is my first planner of this size (The Target Dollar Spot planner is slightly larger.)

Alright, on to the review!

The planner (on the left) compared to the wallet from the same line.


This planner has a pebbled leather cover, similar to the wallet I own as well as several other items available from Kate Spade. As mentioned, when I went to the store they had it in pink and black.  Previously it was available in black, rose gold,pink, and red. From doing some research on the product I have gathered that they seem to make a few changes here and there and then re-release the item here and there. The planners sold over the summer have a tan interior with pink fabric but the item I purchased had a black interior.  I would have loved the tan as is matches my wallet, but hey, you get what you get.


The zipper on this planner is well made and ready to deal with daily use.  It is the same zipper as my wallet which I have had for almost two years and is still going strong.  Inside the front cover you will notice 8 pockets for cards as well as a slot on each side for a slim notebook or papers.


The rings on this planner are gold and use the 6 ring system.  This is great for purchasing inserts from other companies. Although I am new to the ringed system,  I think that these rings will hold up well to use.



The  planner came with a weekly insert set for 2016.  This included monthly sheets and a week on 2 pages spreads. It also came with inserts for contacts, birthdays, restaurants and to dos. The months and sections do not come with dividers so you may want to purchase or make your own. ( I made my own using this punch from Amazon.)


The interior back cover has a pen loop and one pocket. This pocket is good for larger papers but isn’t as secure as the others.  I will use this area to hold coupons and the like.


Overall I really like this planner. You can see the quality in the planer and I feel like this item would hold up well over years of use. My only complaint is that it doesn’t lie flat. This may change after extended use, but I’m not sure. It is still fine, just not the same as a large planner that lies well on your desk.

Once I get this planner all worked out and set up for myself I put together another post on how I have set up and use this planner.

Do you have this planner?  What do you think of it? Are you considering purchasing one? Let me know below!



Planner stickers for families

February 16

School planner icons for families- Free printable planner stickers with silhouette file. Print and cut these stickers about school, field trips, doctor's appointments and more. Free from

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Hey guys, I put together some planner stickers for families.  These stickers focus on kids in school and some of the activities that surround that.  Also, note the super cute pink planners! I couldn’t help myself!  I will be releasing more of those in different colors in the near future.

This printable is designed for sticker paper you can print onto regular paper as well. As always, I have provided this printable in both image 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.

Click the image for a full size file.Family icons 2016


The 8 best Ikea tips and tricks

February 11

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The 8 BEST IKEA tips and tricks for a fun, quick trip.  Ikea hacks for the family, how to save money at Ikea.

Everyone, I mean everyone loves Ikea, and it’s not just the cheap furniture that we love. Its everything.  The food, the displays, the odds and ends, the new ideas, and of course how little we paid for it all. However, if there is one thing that everyone hates about Ikea, it is getting in and out without spending the entire day.  We’ve all done it, walked in for a pillowcase and ended up spending three hours and $250.  Today I want to share my secrets for getting in, out, and on with life.

exit1. Enter through the exit.

I know this agains the “rules,”  but entering through the exit means you can skip the displays out front and you will end up choosing a better parking spot for when you want to leave.


2. Check out the As-Is room first.

The as-is section of Ikea really is a gold mine of opportunity. Last year, when the husband and I went to purchase new desks were were upset to find that what we had wanted was not in stock anymore. We had picked out alternate options but were a little disappointed.  Right as we were about to check out we stepped into the as-is are and found two even better desk tops for a fraction of the cost.  We ended up only spending $35 when we had gone in planning to spend at least $80 on them.

Think outside the box when you are in this room.  Although an item may not be in perfect shape for its intended use it still could be great for something else.  Also, a good cleaning and a coat of paint go a long way. Don’t forget to check again before you leave in case there are new items.

asis sale

3. Check for an as-is sale

Often times there will be an additional sale on the as-is items.  See which category is on sale and save even more in the as-is area.


3. Skip the display area.

Know what you want when you go in and just skip the tempting  display room.  Chances are you’ve already seen the item in in action and know what you want.  Not sure where it’s located?  Look it up on your phone ahead of time.  The ikea website has all of the items and the furniture location information as well as the probability that it will be in stock.

4.  Know your measurements

Know the measurements of the areas that you are looking for furniture for.  Write these down or put them in your phone.  You may want to also take photos of the area or room so that you can try to visualize the piece in your home.


5. Skip the weekend!

I know we love to go to Ikea on Saturday morning but you know the place is packed.  Consider working out a way to go in the week, even in the evening. (Preferably Monday- Thursday)  Of course, you may have to wait until the weekend to build your purchases but you will actually have all weekend.


6. Bring the right vehicle.  Don’t suddenly decide to buy a new dresser when you’ve driven to Ikea in a Prius with two car seats.  Think you need a bigger vehicle?  Ask a friend to trade for a day or consider a quick Uhaul rental.  If your vehicle sports a hitch you could rent a trailer for a little as $20 a day.download7. Join IKEA Family before you go to the store.

Ikea Family is a free store membership that allows you to receive discounts on selected products, more free time in the kids area, a free cup of coffee, and other benefits throughout the year.  Register at home and have them text you your card number so you don’t have to waste time signing up at the kiosk.


8. Kids eat free Tuesdays

Have to bring the kids with you?  They eat free every Tuesday at the restaurant.  (Up to two kids per paying adult meal.)  Also, there is alway free baby food with adult meal purchase. If you all have to be there you might as well eat.


I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Have another one?  Add it in the comments!   Also, don’t forget, a lot of Ikea items are on Amazon. Sometimes, especially if you have Amazon Prime, it may be quicker and easier to just order items there.  Keep in mind these are all sold via 3rd party resellers.

Enjoy your trip!


Target Dollar Spot planner review

February 8

Target Dollar Spor planner review. This budget planner is a great start to monthly and weekly planning. It has a ringed binder similar to filofax, kate spade, kikki k, and others.

If you’ve been to target lately then you know about the wonderful section known as the Dollar Spot, or more recently, Spot’s Playground. This glorious part of the store is where you can snag super cute goodies for one, three, and sometimes five dollars.  The contents change seasonally, and lately they have had tons of cute paper goodies.  After the removal of the Christmas products, the stores started carrying calendars and planners for the new year.  Lovers of adorable office supplies and planners were enamored with these items and I was too.  I purchased the three ring binder and inserts to test out. The binder was $3.00 and the inserts pack (Monthly and weekly undated with dividers) were $3.00 as well.

Are these not the cutest ever?

Shown here with my custom dashboard and stickies

I made this into a blog planner where I can write down my to dos, planned posts, contacts, and other information; so that it is all in one place.

These are the weekly inserts

Overall for $6.00 this is a great basic planner.  The paper quality isn’t amazing, but I don’t think it can be for $3.00.  I find using pencil is best to avoid bleed-through.  My binder does not like to stay closed when I have it set on a table; I am not sure if this is an issue with all of them or just mine.  Of course this item does not have pockets or pen loops, but I don’t think anyone expected it to.

 The inserts in this binder are half sheet inserts with three rings.  This means that you can easily print out your own inserts at home, but the binder would not work with purchased A5 or A6 inserts.

I created my own notes paper for this planner to do with as a please. I’ll add this as a free printable in the near future.

Overall I think this is a great planner for people like me who are considering a ringed planner. I think my next purchase will be a a5 planner but I wanted to make sure I would like the rings. (They can be hard for lefties like myself.) I also think this would be a great choice for kids as teens.
Do you have this planner or one of their other planners and calendars?  What do you think of it?