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2019 Planner Lineup

December 28
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And now, the post you’ve all been waiting for…  (Ok, maybe three of you.) My 2019 planner lineup. Each year I like to sit down and reevaluate what I am using to ensure I am both getting the most bang for my buck as well as using products that really do help me. I don’t want to find myself wasting time trying to use more planners than I need or creating more work for myself. Here is what I came up with for this year:

 

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At home I will be using my DIY Happy Planner. I created this planner for myself when I didn’t love the other Happy Planner options. Read more about it here. I use this planner for all things home such as meal planning, activities, to-dos, my husband’s schedule and more.  This planner spends most of its time on my desk and is a daily reference and a great help through the week.

 

At work I use a Agendio planner housed in a Kikki binder. I love Agendio because they are completely customizable. Add whatever you want and have the planner start whenever you want. I created this custom planner to fit my needs with lots of space for notes and even an area to write down things for at home.  Read more about my experience with Agendio here.

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I keep my work planner at work to help separate my time and I love how this allows me to utilize two different planner styles. For many people one planner is enough, and I have done that in the past, however I really enjoy the work/home separation. For those of you who are self employed or work from home one planner might be enough for you.

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This year I will be using a digital calendar to help keep organized. I don’t like carrying a physical planner everywhere, but I do want to know important dates at a moment’s notice. I have started using Google Calendar which integrates perfectly for home, work, my iPhone, and Apple Watch.  This really helps when I want to jot down a date for a future event or appointment on the go. I have already utilized it a few times and was glad to have access to both my future plans as well as a place to add events. Keep an eye out for future posts about how I integrate this calendar into my planning system.

 

As I have mentioned here and there, I have started using PowerSheets by Lara Casey for goal planning. This is my first year using this system and I will share here about my experiences.  Although this is not as much of a “planner” I wanted to include it here as part of my lineup as it is a resource I will be using regularly.

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I know this is a lot of “stuff.” For most of you, one planner is enough but I feel that this setup really ends up being easier for me than one. Look at your life and see what you feel is good for you, everyone is different and needs really do vary. I know some people use even more planners based on their lives and howe they separate things. My goal is always to be as organized and efficient as possible and if additional planners make you less productive then it is time to find another system.

 

See how I use these this year b y following along on Instagram.

 

 

2019 Planner Guide

December 23
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Still looking for a planner for 2019? I’ve got you covered. Even though it is last minute, there are still tons of great planners out there, and even if you receive it after January 1st, it is fine, you can start planning any day.

First you need to decide what kind of planner you need. Most of my readers are interested in weekly and daily planners. Read a little bit about each of these here and then decide on what you feel is best for you.

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Weekly:

Weekly planners are great for people who like to plan out their week, see the entire week in one view, and mostly use their planner to to record appointments, events, meals, and some tasks. There is not a lot of space for notes, but you might not need notes in your planner. Like stickers? These planners are easy to decorate and super cute. See below for my favorite options for 2019.

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Daily:

Daily planners are great if you need a lot of space to write. Most daily planners have a section for your daily schedule to write down meetings and appointments as well as a section for notes or a long to-do list. One of the downsides of this planner format is that you don’t get to see the entire week in one view. Although you can for sure decorate a daily planner, most users are more focused on their to do list than stickers.

 

Have you decided on which one you need? Here are a few of my favorites for each:

 

Weekly:

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The Happy Planner is one of my favorite budget-friendly weekly planners. Grab one for 2019 here. One thing I love about this planner is that it uses the disc system so you can add, remove, and move pages at will. To see how I use mine click here.

Looking for something with a coil? The Erin Condren Life Planner is for you. This classic weekly planner is sturdy, bright, and super popular. Although these are a little more spending, you can get $10 off yours here.

Looking for something ASAP? I have created a list of weekly planners available on Amazon with two-day prime shipping. This list includes Moleskin and other brands. I have not used these planners, but they have good reviews.

 

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Daily:

One of my favorite daily planners come from Day Designer. These daily planners are coil-bound and super elegant. (Especially the marbled cover!) Their flagship line includes planners that will last the year and look great on your desk.

Looking for something a little more simple? Check out a Simplified flagship planner by Emily Ley. These planners are similar to the Day Designer but a little more simple and in some more fun prints. They also sell weekly planners that are bound like a book.

I am currently using a daily planner from Agendio. These planners are fully customizable so you can select when it begins and what sections are included. You can even add dates to a calendar so they are printed on the planner itself.  See more about mine here. Oh, and did I mention they can be bound, coiled, or sold as inserts? WIN

NOTE: These three brands sell weekly planners as well, so if you’re looking for a great week, check them out as well.

 

So I hope this little roundup has been helpful. If you have more questions or what to show off your choice, tag me in a photo on Instagram! I’m @amberdownsblog

 

Note: Affiliate links are in use on the post. I may receive a small commission for purchases made. This does not affect your price or my opinion of these items. 

 

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Powersheets by Lara Casey

December 10
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I have been aware of Lara Casey and her Powersheets for a few years now and have eyed them every year as they are released but I never bit the bullet and bought them. This year I Finally changed that.

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Powersheets are designed to help you realize your goals and then make them happen. Lara (Author of Make it Happen and Cultivate) guides you through a workbook that gets you to dig deep into your needs and desires. Once you have gone down to the core of your goals she then provides steps to guide you into creating action steps for getting these things from goals to action to done.

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Although the Powersheets look like a planner, they are really more of a guide and accessory to your planner. With weekly, monthly, and quarterly checkins to help you see where you are and gauge progres. I store my Powersheets on my desk within easy sight so that I access them regularly.

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Every Sunday I sit down and plan out the next week. This is a time where I go over schedules, meal plans, goals, and tasks. I will add time with my Powersheets to this weekly meeting with myself to check in on where I am at with my goals.

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I have not yet gone over the preliminary sheets in my Powersheets as I am waiting until mid-December, but I plan to take some time, grab some coffee, and really sit down and connect with myself and find my real goals and intentions. I will share again here about it once I find my goals. I may not share all of them as they will be personal, but I plan to share some as well as more about this process.  I truly hope that this investment helps me find the best in myself and to get the most of of my next year.

Powersheets are on sale now for 2019. Join me in making this the best year yet by being intentional with our goals.

Have you used Powersheets? What did you think of them?

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Please note: Affiliate links are in use on this page. If you purchase powersheets I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay and this helps fund running this site.  Thanks!

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My favorite gifts on Amazon

November 28
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I love Amazon for gifting. I always wait to grab something at the last minute, so with two-day shipping I can get gifts just in the nick of time. Today I am sharing a few of my giftable favorites from Amazon that are perfect for your or a loved one.  Click the link to be directed to my Amazon page where you can see m favorites and what I like about each item.

 

Happy Gifting!

 


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Find these items, as well as my other Amazon favorites here.

 

 

Amazon.con Holiday gift ideas

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Holiday Home Tour 2018

November 25
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Well Thanksgiving is finally over so it is time to decorate for the holidays. I shared about how I decorated my home in 2016, but I wanted to share more about my style and system here again for 2018. My husband and I both love holiday decorating and it is for sure a family affair for us, but we have also been taking the time in recent years to focus on how to decorate and make our home festive without too much effort, space, or time.  In this tour I’ll share tips on how to decorate in a way that is simple and enjoyable without being a burden or making your home look cluttered.

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I love having the Christmas tree in front of a window facing the street. Growing up, we did not have a front window that worked for a tree and I always loved driving by homes with visible trees. Before we even made an offer on our home I knew where our tree would go and we use that spot every year. The tree is at the corner of two windows so it has lots of street visibility to spread lots of holiday cheer. If you don’t have a spot  by the window, no need to fear, it is just something I have always enjoyed. Of course, if you are in the market for a new home, do consider tree placement if that is important to you. Not having a great place for a tree can be super annoying as it leads to the tree aways being in the way and that can start to take some of the joy out of the season.

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We decorate our tree with family ornaments and some fillers. I know trendy trees are always in, but I am not in the market to spend money on pieces that hold not sentimental value and that I will discard after only a few years. This Library of Congress ornament was purchased after we were engaged in their lobby. It is for sure one of my favorites.

If you don’t have family ornaments yet consider asking parents or grandparents if they have some they could hand down to you. We love buying ornaments while traveling  and now have special decorations commemorating our engagement, anniversary, and other special events. This makes our decorating time extra special as we get to reminisce on these events in our lives while we decorate. Oh, and yes, our tree skirt is just an old tablecloth. If you need a skirt check your linen closet. No need to spend money on a fancy one, you probably have something that can be used and then put back. One less thing to store!

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Our decorating tradition is after Thanksgiving, once the guests have left, we have a few drinks and put up the tree. This is special to both of us and something we always do together. As I mentioned before, it is a time to remember the past, celebrate our time together, and get excited for the season ahead of us. Charlie always plays his christmas playlist, and when it is cool enough out we light the fireplace. Afterwards you can usually find us cuddled on the sofa in our holiday pajamas. This is truly one of my favorite parts of the season.

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This year I did go a little further and purchased a small flocked tree for our bedroom. I wanted to add a little bit of holiday twinkle to that space, and this tree was perfect. I added some inexpensive decorations from Amazon and the Dollar Tree and I love how it turned out. Will I keep this tree next year? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will only put it up if I have the time, energy, and space. When decorating becomes work then it is just not worth it.

 

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We have some household decorations which we put out here and there throughout the house. Some of these are heirloom pieces like Charlie’s nutcrackers and some are fun finds. I always like to take a moment when deciding what to put out to think about items that match the feel of the space and are not to distracting. Although I enjoy decor, in the end I still want out home to have a cohesive, relaxing feel. Our goal is for decor to be an accent and not an intrusion. If decorations are to loud we move them or rehome them. Heirloom decorations can be held on to for future use but not put out if needed. I also like to remember that we don’t have to keep everything. Just because a former coworker in 2007 gave us an item does not mean it needs to be on your tree or in your home. Feel free to take a photo and then donate it for someone else to enjoy. (This is totally one of the Marie Kondo tips I love.)

My grandmother gifted her Christmas Village one year. I was so excited to put it up the following year, but it was so much stuff that it ended up being so much work for me. There was so much stuff to go through that it was just overwhelming. I ended up getting rid of most of the “stuff” and just kept the main kit. My grandmother had wanted to get rid of the village, and nobody else wanted it, so I was not offending anyone by cutting dow the collection some. Now I have a nice, easy to store set that I can use or hold on to. We did not put it out this year, but I do intend to keep it for future use.

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When decorating shelves I love to add just a few holiday elements to our usual decor. This add color and a pop without removing all my things. I did this with our coffee bar shelf (below) as well as in our dining room (above).

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Any nicknacks that I replace with holiday decor are placed in one of our decoration tubs. This way when we go to put everything away we will find our other things.  Speaking of storage, when we put everything aways for the season I like to take a few minute to divide the “holiday stuff” by type so that next year I can easily find what I need. I have a tub for main tree ornaments, gifting supplies, home decor, party supplies, and extras. This way I can go in and find what I need without opening everything.

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We do decorate the exterior of our home each year. We just add a simple strand of white LED c9 lights which give our home a classic look. Our personal rule for this, like everything else, is that it only goes up if we have the time and energy. Right now all our decorating work fits in to one day and we enjoy it. Take down is just as easy. I never want to add so much “stuff” that it takes days to remove. It is just not worth it to me.

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How do you handle decorating for the holidays? Do you go all out or keep it simple?

 

My 2019 Planner plan

November 14
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I was in Joann’s the other day and I wandered over to glance at the Happy Planner products. While I was there, it dawned on me that we have just under two months until 2019 and I have not yet bought a new planner. I know it seems like I have tons of time, but in the planner world you usually have your pick by fall as many sell out.

So in store I looked through the planners available and realized I was not really happy with any of them. I liked the “Super Mom” planner, but as I am not a mother I did not really feel that planner was right for me. I also gravitate towards plain, neutral colors. Although I enjoy adding color, I prefer for it to be on my terms not the planner itself.

I left the store empty handed and then turned to Instagram to ask for help. Several followers recommended this extension pack which has the same layout as the Super Mom planner but without the mom stuff. I was hesitant at first about it because it is undated and still has a lot of color, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it.

My plan it to use this as a base and create a fully custom 2019 planner for myself. I will be sharing here on the blog about the building process, so you can see what I am adding and why. I’d like this planner to be part planner/part brain dump/ part file folder for all the important aspects of my home life. I plan to use Happy Planner products alongside items from Etsy and maybe some products I make myself. We’ll see!

So far I have grabbed the extension pack, metal discs, and some plain sheets of paper. Keep an eye out for updates and more about my new planner system.

Fall Old Navy Favorites

November 4
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I have been loving all the long, cozy sweaters I’ve seen this fall. My only problem is that realistically I won’t get to use them much. As a resident of Florida we don’t get a ton of cool weather and most of the sweaters I’ve seen were a little pricy. I love that these Old Navy options are affordable and adorable.

This one is the thickest of the group. Although it is not scratchy to me, it is the roughest of the bunch. I love the look this gives. I have a feeling I’ll wear this one the most due to the more moderate length.

This long duster sweater is to die for. It is super soft and has great pockets. I sized up one size in this one just to have a little more room for whatever I wear under it.

This one will probably be the most useful of the three. It is thinner so I can wear it on warmer days. I love the detail on the back too! (I grabbed the dress too but in this color)

I also found these joggers that are adorable. I will wear these as around the house pants and pajama pants.

While your shopping the sale be sure to check out the holiday pajamas. I didn’t buy any this year, but they are great for families. Last year my husband and I both got these in men’s sizes and we wear them together all the time. BONUS: They have pockets! Ok, now I’ve convinced myself to go buy some again.

Are you picking up anything from Old Navy during this sale? Let me know!

Friday Faves: Conair Steamer

October 26
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Confession: I hate ironing my clothes. Like, I rarely do it and I avoid clothing that needs ironing. I am lazy and it is just not my thing. This has been an issue for years.

Enter the  Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Steamer.

I had heard a few bloggers talking about hand steamers, but honestly I really knew nothing about them. I knew about the big professional grade steamers that took up tons of space and cost hundreds of dollars, but that was never on my horizon as an option.  When I started to look into hand held options I realized that there were tons of great products that I could use all over the house to press and refresh fabrics without getting out the ironing board. I bought the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Steamer because I wanted a powerful option that would work on heavy home fabrics like curtains along with clothing.

I’ve been using this steamer for a few weeks now and I am in love with the results. I recently steamed the new curtains I bought as well as my outfits for the week. I love how put together I look and how easy this is to use. I can pull it out and use it before work it is so fast.

Now to hit the husband’s side of the closet….

Friday Faves: Ninja Coffee Bar

September 21
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I shared this earlier this week on Instagram, but I finally got a new pod-free coffee maker.  I’ve been trying to cut back on disposable single-use products and my k-cups were on that list. I wanted to replace my Keurig with something that was easy to use, looked nice, and was of a decent quality. My coffee bar is located in the middle of of kitchen and dining room, so it needed to be something that fit with the space. I asked on Instagram and was suggested the Ninja Coffee Bar. This coffee maker is a drip machine, but is designed for easy single serve use just like a Keurig.  Just what I needed!

I love that I can brew directly into my mug, or make a big batch if I have guests. I am the only coffee drinker in my home and I only brew what I am going to drink right now, so I did not need a carafe or warmer plate.

I like to make my morning coffee as I am heading out the door so I usually turn the machine on while I am getting ready so it can heat up. Then, as I am grabbing my things I brew the cup. Although not as fast as the Keurig, I can totally wait like 2 minutes for coffee.  I then just toss the grinds in my kitchen compost, rinse the filter, and go out the door.

This week I’ve been using some whole coffee beans from Lucky’s Market. When I like to use whole bean coffee the the best flavor and just grind it up in my blinkone coffee grinder. This grinder is great for this machine as well as any other coffee maker or press.

I love the brew options. You can select your size as well as brew type. This weekend I am going to try out the specialty brews which are like espresso shots for your favorite beverages.

The machine also comes with a frother for those special drinks. It works great and won’t break like many of the cheap flimsy ones.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this cup of coffee. What’s your favorite coffee drink? I want to know so I can try and make it!

Note: this is not a sponsored post. I purchased this coffee maker myself. Affiliate links are in use which help support the upkeep of this site without costing you anything.

Travel Tuesday- Dollar Tree travel favorites

September 18
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I generally don’t like buying special travel products, but there are always a few things you need special. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to find many of those at the Dollar Tree. Today I’m sharing my favorite Dollar Tree travel finds. Enjoy!

One of my favorite things to grab are these travel bottles. I hate buying travel sized products as they are so expensive for what they are. This three pack of bottles is a steal for $1. I use them for shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and body wash.

We don’t take many medications but I do like to take some ibuprofen and allergy medicine with me when we travel. I bought this pack and just mix the pills together in one little tub. I also keep one of these in my bag all the time and one in my husband’s car so he always has them. These could also be used for small earrings.

I ran across these the other day and I fell in love. I have been working to reduce my disposable products around the house and one of the items I have cut out is face wipes. I didn’t use the wipes often, but I loved them for travel. While in the health and beauty isle I found these face cleansing cloths and they are perfect for home and travel. Use them with a regular face wash or just with some Micellar water for quick and easy cleansing.  I hand wash in the sink after each use and then toss in the wash with towels.

As I mentioned already, I don’t like to buy travel size products. My one exception to this rule is toothpaste. Grab one and an extra toothbrush so you don’t have to worry about remembering yours.

So that’s it. Like I said, I don’t buy a lot of special travel stuff, but these items all work super well for me. Do you have any awesome travel size items or Dollar Tree favorites?