Tried and true simple weeknight meals

March 31
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30 minute or less! Tried and true easy weeknight meals. I have tried and loved all of these super simple recipes. 30 minutes or less and slow cooker options. AmberDowns.net

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been going through a huge cooking slump.  I am sick of the meals we make but am not interested in learning fancy new meals.  A few months ago I had an inspired week and tried out some simple new recipes and loved them.  Have I gone back and made them again?  No, because I am not smart sometimes.  Anyways, I wanted to share them here as tested and approved simple meals and maybe remind myself about them so that I can try them again next week.  Wish me luck, won’t you?

 

Anyways, without further ado, here are 5 simple meals that are perfect for weeknights.  They do not require special ingredients and, with the exception of the crock pot meals, can be make in 30 minutes or less.  Myself (and sometimes my husband) enjoyed each of these meals and I am looking forward to making them all again.

 

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Crockpot Enchilada Quinoa

This simple meal has become one of go to ideas for dinners and lunches.  Because this is a casserole  type dish it freezes super easy.  I grab a container of it out of the freezer, grab some sour cream, and am ready for lunch at work.  Bonus:  Check pinterest for a enchilada sauce recipe, its super easy!  Don’t have time for the crockpot? Do it in a rice cooker(this is my method) or cook the quinoa on the stove and then bake for 30 minutes in the oven.

 

 

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15 Minute Lo-Mein

This is seriously the easiest, healthiest recipe ever. I grabbed whatever veggies I had in the house and threw them in.  Super fresh and you can make it a different meal every time by switching up the vegetables.

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Honey Lemon Chicken and Pasta

I love how impressive this meal looks.  Fresh lemon and herbs?  It looks like it took all day but really I was done in less than 30 minutes.  I enjoyed it with angel hair pasta and my husband preferred rice.  If you reheat the leftovers in the microwave at work be prepared for questions from staff who are following their nose.

 

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Four Ingredient Baked Pork Chops

I made this recipe with thin pork loin and it was delish.  I love sliced pork loin for a super quick meal, but I am always looking for a new way to prepare it.  This was moist and hearty.  Pair it with peas and applesauce for a trip down memory lane.

 

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Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken

Crock pot meal?  Count me in.  This was another simple fresh meal that I will be making again and again.  THe fruit  give it a fresh and fancy taste and the crock pot makes it a winner.

 

 

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More free printable planner stickers

March 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 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 planner stickers with silhouette cut file.  Free pink stickers perfect for your Erin Condren or Happy Planner.  Print and cut these stickers and enjoy!  AmberDowns.net

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a sticker set. I’ve been busy with work and didn’t really have any inspiration. I finally put one together and I reallly like it. This set was supposed to be more work related, but then I started making generic stickers as well, so it could go either way. Anyways, here you go

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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.

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

work stickers final

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.

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Planner punches

March 25
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Don’t forget to like AmberDowns.net on Facebook to receive updates on new posts and free printables.

 

Hey friends, I wanted to take a quick second to talk about planner punches and adding items to your planner.  Do you have a punch that you use to add pages to your planner?  I have recently purchased both the MAMBI Happy Planner punch for my Happy Planner as well as this Rapeco punch that I use for both my personal size planner AND my new a5 planner.  At first I was hesitant about both these purchases, but after I bit the bullet and purchased them I realized that they are totally an asset and work every penny.  With these punches I am able to add all sorts of personal documents to my planner.  For work, I have added our staff schedule, contact information and emergency procedures so that I always have all of that with me.  For my personal planner I have added note pages, free printables from Wendaful.

I purchased the Racepco punch from Amazon and the Happy Planner punch from Michaels.

Here are a few of my free printables that use a punch-
Reading log printable
Menu printable
Contacts printable
Goal planning printable

So, do you have a punch?  What do you do with it?  Have you used any of my printables?  I want to see!  Tag me in Instagram photos (@_amberdowns) or comment here!

 

 

February Faves

March 23
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I haven’t done a favorites post in a few months, but I wanted to share a few things that I have been enjoying.

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Spin Pins
Have you seen these yet? I heard about this a little over a year ago and they are totally a game changer for us long haired girls.  If you’ve ever struggled with getting all of your hair into a bun then you will love these.  The claim is that one spin pin holds as much as 10 bobby pins.  Is this true? I don’t know, but I can put up all of my hair with just 2 Spin Pins.  (One if I am desperate.)  Grab a set and go for it.  TIP: You can find these for a a lot less around the internet, but just make sure they have the rounded tips or else they won’t glide into your hair as well.

Motivational water bottle
As part of my new years goals I’ve been focusing on drinking more water. I always thought that the water bottles with the times on it were gimmicky until I got this one and realized it awesome.  What better feeling than to be three hours ahead of yourself in drinking water! It really is great motivation, and its cute.  The bottle actually comes with a diffuser so if you don’t love water you can add fruit.  Personally, I prefer my water plain to I just took the middle part out.  What I really love though is that this is just a nice simple bottle. Its not fancy, it seals tight, and it is easy to drink from.  Overall, it can’t be beat for $9.

 

Wendaful.com planner inserts
Looking for free printable planner inserts? Check out Wendaful! My current favorite is their 2016 year at a glance. I have this in my personal planner and my a5 planner.

 

Mini Discs
If you’re a Happy Planner user then you might be aware of the new mini discs released by Me & My Big Ideas.  These little discs mean that you can turn anything into a small disc bound notebook.  Last week I shared a menu and recipe cards printable that I the used the mini discs to hold together.  These are great for mini planers, extension packs, and kids.

 

 

So those are a few of my current favorites.  What are yours?

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Webster’s Color Crush planner review

March 21
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Hey everyone, I am here with another planner review.  As you may have heard, Jo-Anns craft stores have recently started selling the Color Crush planners by Webster’s pages.  These planners come in personal and A5 size ans figured this would be the perfect time to grab an A5 planner to try it out.  This planner retails for $54.99 in store, but i had  a 60% off coupon so I got a great deal. Keep in mind this is what the TEAL planner looks like inside.  The dividers on the other planners may differ slightly, I have not had to chance to check.

Hello, Friends! Have you spotted us in your local @joann_stores yet?!! If you do we would love to see pics! You can hashtag #webstersinjoanns ✨and we will choose some WINNERS from the hashtag folder to GIVEAWAY some Websters Goodies! So join us and let's post some pics! 😘😘We can't wait to see! #webstersinjoanns #webstersinjoanns #webstersinjoanns #planner #planners #plannerlove #plannersuppies #plannergoodies #planneraccessories #planneraddict #plannernerds #plannergeeks #plannerjunkie #cuteplanner #plannerobsessed #plannercommunity #stationery #stationeryaddict #plannerdecoration #planwithme #plannerspread #plannerista #plannergirl #planningtime #colorcrush #colorcrushplanners #websterspages #colorcrushnaturals #love

A photo posted by Webster's Pages (@websterspages) on

Here is what the display should look like in the store.

My store had the planners in stock but hadn’t yet brought them out to the floor.  My amazing husband was able to flag down a sales associate and get them to bring us a planner from the back.  I went with the teal color but I like the pink and stripes as well.

When you see the planner on the shelf you will notice that it comes in a removable plastic jacket with “Hello!” in gold foil.   This is to protect the planner from the elements of the store and shipping.  From what I have seen, if you purchase this item from somewhere other than Jo-Anns the planner will come in a nice box.

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 (FYI:  If you want to zoom in on an image click it and it will open up larger.)

Like many A5 and other ringed planners this planner has a snap closure.

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When you open the planner you will notice that there are lots of pockets on the left.  These are deep and look like they’d be great for stickers, notepads, and other smaller items.  They can also hold business cards but they may fall down in the pocket because of the depth.  The bottom pocket has a clear window and would be a great place to hold personal info or cards.  It is also deep but obviously more visible. (Seen below with a standard size business card in the pocket.)

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The rings on this planner are a sturdy 1.5 in set.  They meet standard A5 size which will allow us to interchange the inserts with other brands.  (Hello Day Designer Daily inserts!) I like that these rings are large enough to hold all that I need in a daily work planner.  (Basically, alot)

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One of the reasons I jumped on purchasing this planner was that it came with so many cute dividers and inserts.  On of those is the first sheet which says “Be Happy Be Bright Be you.”  What a great daily reminder when you open your planner.

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The next page is a piece of heavy card stock with a spot to place contact information on the back.  Always something important to have in your planner.

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Alright, now we have made it to the tabs.  Like I said, this planner comes with tons of cute extras and these tabs are one of them.  The dividers are labeled; I will give you a list of the tabs and then explain what in in each section:

Write it down
Memory Keeping
Lists to Love
Staying Inspired
Calendar

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Write it down
This section is just for note paper.  The planner came with six sheets of super cute lined paper.

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Memory Keeping
This section appears to be for journaling and such. It comes with six sheets titled “A week in the life” with a space for sketches, quotes and memories on the back.

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Lists to love
This section comes with six multi use pages.  The front of the pages are for “Plans & do!”  A place to list goals and plans and give them a due date.  This is great for keeping yourself on track.  The back of these sheets are menus.  The menu pages have a small spot for meals for each day and repeats for five weeks.  These would be great for planning dinners for a month but are too small to fill out all meals for five weeks.  An alternate use of this page would be to list breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for one week.  There is also a shopping list feature at the bottom of the page.

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Staying Inspired
This section is filled with 2 copies of 3 double sided sheets with inspirational prints on them.  These are cute but I am not 100% sure of their use.

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Calendar
Here we go, this is the mother load. This planner comes with both dated weekly and monthly inserts.  First it has simple monthly calendars with tabs for each month and notes page. The tab is attached to the dated calendar sheet. The moth view runs Sunday-Saturday and the calendar squares are lightly lined which is great when you have a lot to fill in.  These are especially helpful for me at work when I need to fill in events, staff leave,  and meetings on my monthly view.

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After that we get into the week view for the calendar.  The planner came with weekly sheets for October 2015- December 2016.  These dated weekly sheets are divided into eight sections in a horizontal fashion with the first section being notes.  The week runs Monday-Sunday and both Saturday and Sunday get a full section.  I love how minimalistic these weekly sheets are, giving the user the ability to add what they want and not have to worry about extra fluff they don’t need.  Holidays are not marked in either the monthly or weekly view.

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The back of the planer has another clear sheet and a nice little “Right Now” insert that can be used to hold your place.  The back cover has a deep pocket which would be great for a notepad.

 

Final thoughts:

Overall I think this is a great A5 planner for those on a budget but I can see where the binder might not last forever. Attached to the snap comes a little key chain piece and on mine you could see where the pleather was already wearing.  Because this is not real leather I am not sure how long it will last when used daily. Also the stitching feels like it could be a little stronger. Of course, if you don’t feel like spending a lot of money and want to try an A5 or you keep your planner nicely on your desk then they would be perfect.  I am going to look for some A5 daily dated inserts to use with this in July when my current work planner is finished.  Overall I think this is a great, affordable planner and a great way to get into using a binder planner system.  I am super glad that Webster’s was able to team up with Jo-Anns to sell this product locally.

 

 

 

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Menu planner and recipe cards printable for the Happy Planner

March 19
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Psst: Don’t forget to follow on Facebook to get updates on new posts and free printables!

Free happy planner menu printable and recipe cards. Print and punch with the MAMBI punch. Menu and meal planning for the Happy Planner

Hey guys, I am here today with another requested item, a weekly menu and recipe cards.  I made the menu as something that could be added to the middle of a week in a planner so you can see the week and the menu.  I also made some cute recipe cards that you can punch and then add to a week.  You could also make a little book with the mini rings.  I left the sheet fairly plain so you can decorate it as you see fit.  I am going to make a full sheet menu in the future, I just haven’t gotten there yet.

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Click here for the free printable PDF file!

These files are in PDF format. Print at full size on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. I suggest using something a little heavier than copy paper as it is thin and will show through. I like this cardstock. Cut out along the gray lines to get the correct page size and then punch and add to your planner!

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After I made these cards I went ahead and made a mini recipe book using the cards and a set of mini discs.  The discs were purchased at my local Michael’s store and are great for little projects like this.  I made a cover for the little book using leftover scrapbook paper.  I am going to decorate the cover, I just haven’t decided what I want to do with it yet.

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Need a punch? I have this one and love it!

Need a planner? Try out the 2016-2017 Happy Planner!

Not sure what to print on?  I recommend cardstock.

Looking for free printable planner stickers?  Click here to see my archive of planner printables!

 

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.

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Tips for better mornings

March 18
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Tips to have the most productive mornings.  Use your planner, create healthy habits and get stuff done!

 

I am a weird  mix of a morning person who loves being productive in the morning and a person who hits snooze ten times.  Because of this, I have some trouble starting the day, but when I am successful it is very rewarding.  Over the years I have put together some tips for really making the most of mornings. These are all tips that work for me.  Try them, they may work for you, they may not. For context,  I have fairly regular 8-5 job and my husband generally leaves for work before me.  We have no children.

 

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Although I often wake up naturally before my alarm clock I have found that I am a sucker for the snooze button.  Lay in bed reading instagram instead of getting up?  Sounds great!  To  curb this bad habit I charge and store my phone on my dresser instead of my night stand.  It is still there and I can get it if it rings in the night, but I will not be awoken by other unnecessary alerts or messages.  When I put my phone away I am done for the night. When the alarm goes off in the morning I must walk across the room to get it and then I am up for good.  I still needed a clock for my bedside table to check the time at night and in the morning so i grabbed this little one from amazon.

 

 

I am a very boring person.  I eat the same thing for lunch for a week.  I prep lunches for myself and my husband Sunday evenings.  I whip up a batch of chili, a casserole, or pasta dish and then divide it into containers for the week.  In the morning we just have to reach into the fridge and grab something.  Easy.  While you may not want to prep the entire week of meals in one day or may not enjoy eating the same thing, consider having everything for lunches ready before you go to bed.  This way you will have a (hopefully) healthy meal and will have a great lunch hour.  Not having to stress about prepping a lunch really helps relives the stress of mornings.

 

If getting dressed is complicated for you consider planning ahead.  I know the idea of picking all your outfits on Sunday sounds silly, but it helps.  Consider it a loose plan.  You don’t have to wear the pink top with the tan pants on Tuesday, but you can.  Oh, Monday morning and that pink top is calling to you?  Wear  it today and wear the gray dress you had planned for Monday on Tuesday.   It is just nice to wake up Monday morning to five put together outfits ready to go.  (Be sure to check if they need ironed!)

Is part of your hair regimen difficult in the morning?  See what you can do differently.  As a long haired girl I found that washing and drying in the evening made my mornings better.  One less thing to worry about.  Of course, this is different for each person.  Many beauty bloggers swear by silk pillowcases to keep frizz away.  (I Have not yet tried this trick)   

 

One of my biggest problems is making sure I eat something in the morning.  I can get up as early as possible but I will still forget to eat until its too late.  To combat this I keep grab and go items in my fridge and these can be a quick breakfast.

 

I recommend putting together a checklist of the things that you want to ensure are done before bed and then the things that need to happen in the morning before you leave.  But putting this information onto paper you have somewhere to refer to when you’re not sure what you should be doing along with a way to iron out the keys to the best morning that works for you. Below are my lists for before bed and the morning.

My before bed checklist:
lunch prepared
hair washed
bag packed
snacks out
coffee ready to brew
dishes done
alarm set and phone away from the bed

Morning checklist:
up
check phone/news/messages
coffee and smoothies
take care of cays
shower if needed
hair, makeup, clothing
eat
brush teeth and final restroom stop

Although these are just general statements they give insight into how I run my morning. Am I perfect? No. In fact my alarm didn’t go off just the other day and I was in a complete rush and late for work. Luckily I had planned ahead and had clothing, food, and coffee waiting for me when I finally woke up.

Reading Log free printable

March 14
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I recently joined a new online book group and one of the discussions was how you keep track of your reading.  While I love Goodreads, I also love having a paper record of my books in my planner.  I created these files to share the logs with my readers.  I couldn’t decide on the best color so I made them in pink, purple, and teal.

 

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These files are in PDF format.  Print at full size on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper.  I suggest using something a little heavier than copy paper as it is thin and will show through. I like this cardstock. Cut out along the gray lines to get the correct page size and then punch and add to your planner!

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!

Not sure what all this about a Happy Planner is?  Click here for my full review of the planner.

Reading log PINK

Reading log PURPLE

Reading log TEAL

Looking for your next read? Check here and here for my recommendations.

Free reading log printable for the Happy Planner . Perfect for book clubs!

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.

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Spending printable for the Happy Planner

March 13
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Free Happy Planner spending printable. Print this out and put it in your Happy Planner with the a punch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week I asked Instagram what they wanted to see as far as free printables to add with the new MAMBI punch.  A follower requested a spending printable, so here it is! I made this printable in two colors.

These files are in PDF format.  Print at full size on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper.  I suggest using something a little heavier than copy paper as it is thin and will show through. I like this cardstock. Cut out along the gray lines to get the correct page size and then punch and add to your planner.

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!

 

Here we go:

Spending PINK

spending BLUE

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.

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Steps and meal tracker free printable

March 9
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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. All printables are free.

Steps and Mealsfree planner printables

As I mentioned at the beginning of the year I mentioned that one of my goals was to focus on my health.  One of the ways I am doing that is by using an activity tracker.  I use the jawbone up2 to track my sleep, walking, and activities.  I am a very goal oriented person so when I see that I am aiming for 10,00 steps a day this is great encouragement to do what  I can to make this happen.  Because this statistic is a part of my goals for a healthy lifestyle I decided to make planner stickers to track my steps.  These cute little stickers track steps per a day and are great at monitoring over a longer period of time.

Along with walking more, I am trying to plan and think about my meals.  I already plan dinners for the week, but I want to try to keep my other meals healthy also.  I made these meal tracker stickers as a way to keep myself accountable regarding my food choices.  I like to hid bad choices but when everything must be written down I will think twice before something I don’t want to be reminded of for the rest of the week.

 

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


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.

Steps and Food printable (PDF)

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.

RELATED POSTS