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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hp-measureOne 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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2017 reading goals

December 30
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For the last two years I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. In this challenge you give yourself a goal of how many books you’d like to read over the year and then you add them to the site when you’ve read them. I love that it keeps track of how you are doing and lets you know if you are ahead or behind in your reading.

For 2016 I challenged myself to read 50 books. FYI: I count YA and adult books, not kids books. I do not count picture books or small children’s books. I actually met my goal by the beginning of December and as of writing this (December 30th) I have read 58 books!

When I select my books i try to read across a variety of genres as well as both fiction and non-fiction. This year I want to make a better focus of adding in classics as well. I have been saying this for some time, but haven’t really acted on it. This year I am going to be writing down the titles in my planner and making a chart to count how many of each I read; fiction, non-fiction, and classics.

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This sheet was made from a simple sheet of Mambi classic size planner graph paper.  You can use whatever paper fits in your planner, or use an extra notes page. Also, several months ago I made a reading log insert for the Happy Planner so that could be used as well.

 

My reading goals for 2017 will be to red 60 books, 12 of which are classics and at least 12 non-fiction titles as well.  I plan to continue to focus on adult fiction titles as they are popular with my patrons at the library and give me titles to refer them too. I also want to continue to explore books that may not be fun but will help with gaining a better understanding of the world around us and our community. Although I have, and will continue, to enjoy fiction, I think its important to also read for information and social education, now more than ever.

 

I hope this post has inspired you to set a reading goal for 2017. A goal can be anything, even five or ten books, we all start somewhere! If you do set a goal let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow on Instagram to get updates on what I am reading.

 

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.

My 2017 planner setup

December 28
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For 2017 I am starting a new planner from Me and My Big Ideas. I will again be using their Happy Planner in what is now called the Classic size. (Happy Planners also come in Big and Mini as well.)   Mine is called “This is Your Year.


I have been using Happy Planners for a year and a half now and I love how simple yet functional they are. I love that these planners use the ARC page system so pages can be added, removed, and made with ease. I own a punch which allows me to add whatever I’d like to my planner which makes holding lists, saving, invitations, and other important notes super easy.


One of the first things I do when starting a new planner is to go through my old planner month by month and add any reoccurring events to the new planner. Birthdays and Anniversaries don’t change  so you know when they will be.  I add items on sticky notes so that I can add it how I want when we get to that month, but the basic information is there so it is not forgotten.


My planner uses a vertical setup and each day has three boxes. I use the top box for my to dos, so this list is added to daily and as the week progresses. Some days will have many tasks, while others will only have a few, it really depends on what else I have going on.  What I love about this as opposed to an ongoing list, is that I can say “Hey, I need to do ___” and then look at my week and see where I will have the time to accomplish this task and put it on that day.  I find a major problem for those just starting out with planners is that they over schedule to dos which just leads up being upset over not accomplishing goals.

The second box is for scheduling. Here I mark my husband’s schedule for the week, any changes or unusual aspects of my own schedule, and our dinners for the week.  I incorporate meal planning into m weekly planning so that I know what I am doing when I go to the grocery store and we actually have something thawed and ready to go each day.  We don’t get home from work until 6pm and want to eat by 7pm so having a plan really helps make this happen successfully.

The third box in my planner is used for fun extras such as a short list, motivational stickers, or event information.  If we have a party or other social gathering I’d jot the details down here so that we know what is happening and when.  This area is also great for fitness tracking, food tracking, or information regarding school for yourself or children.  In the past I have used this section for planning out my blog postings however I now use Horizontal Happy Planner pages for that.  (more on that later)

 

When starting a new planner I like to add some of my favorite inserts so I am prepared and ready to go.

I add:
A few daily sheets
Lined paper for misc notes
Contacts sheet
Goal planning sheet


I also fill out the front page and make sure to add a phone number and email address in case the planner is lost.

 

Pages you may also consider:

Emergency contact information
Medical conditions/ medications
Clothing sizes for family members

Keep in mind that if your planner is lost, all information will be available to the finder. With this in mind, you may want to add a few items about your children and their school/teachers, however adding this information in a more secretive way that would not be obvious to a predator. Consider adding the teacher’s phone numbers or info as contacts without mention of the grade/school they teach at. Make these choices as your own discretion.

 

So this is the main planner I will be using for 2017 at home. Next week I will be sharing a little bit about my work planner and  I use it to organize my day, schedule employees, and keep on task at work.

 

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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DIY coasters from ceramic tiles

December 23
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diy-coasters-from-ceramic-tile

 

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.

 

Hot Cocoa Station

December 19
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Over the last couple of years it has become a trend to have a cute little coffee station in your home. A little more than just the pot and a sugar bowl. I created one of these cute little stations in our new home and then  when the holidays hit this year I noticed everyone was converting these to hot cocoa stations.  Well, you guessed it, I joined the band wagon.  Living in Florida we don’t consume tons of cocoa, but we were holding a party so I figured it would be a fun addition and a great alcoholic choice for our guests. Because we have a Keurig I decided the easiest thing to do would be to get the cocoa K-cups that way guests to make cups as they please.  They are more expensive, buy we’re paying for convince here. We also set the station up with a jar of mini marshmallows and candy canes for stirring. As you can see from the photo I keep my coffee K-cups in a drawer under the brewer so  I added a vintage strainer for the cocoa k-cups as a way to highlight them.  . On my coffee/cocoa cart I keep a stack of all-season mugs and a tray of additional mugs below.  If you were expecting a large group you could also purchase disposable cups.

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I did not do another other decorating of this space as I plan to keep it up after Christmas and therefore want it to be just a seasonal station but a cute print or framed art would look great about this area or even a little banner.

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My cart is a vintage Cosco cart which is in dire need of refinishing. The mustache mugs (similar) were a gift from my sister a few years ago. Because this is also a coffee station I have sugar and my homemade coffee creamer available as well.  The mugs on the tray are part of a dish ware set by Oneida which is no longer available. A similar set is available at Kohls.

 

Do you have a coffee or cocoa station in your home? How do you set it up for the holidays?

 

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.