Thursday, April 28, 2016

Daily and Weekly Tasks list for the Happy Planner side bar
Before I started using the Happy Planner from MAMBI, I was using a free printable from the Internet to manage household chores, daily tasks, meal planning, and To Do lists. I looked into the option of printing it and having it bound but the cost of doing so was just as much or more, than buying a planner on sale. I was honestly torn though because I really liked the layout of the daily tasks and weekly chores. For awhile I searched for something to replicate it but found that to be an annoying and futile search. So...I made my own.

Then I posted to Instagram and Facebook and it seems like I'm not the only one who likes this format. And since so many people have shared their work for free with me (and countless others), it seemed only right to Pay It Forward. On that note, I'm not a graphic design professional (unfortunately). It's not my profession and I do not own professional software, so if things don't work perfectly for you then I do apologize.

I changed the lists to match the planner days of the week which run from Monday-Sunday instead of Sunday-Saturday as they were previously. It was driving me crazy!

Each picture is linked to a PDF that on my printer prints such that it is exactly the size of the Happy Planner side bar in the weekly spread if you trim it really, really close to the dotted border. The other option is to right click on the picture, save as image, then put it into a Word Document - which is how I created the PDF. I was able to fit four lists per page using narrow half-inch margins.
I posted the blank option with roomier lines in case you would like to write in them after printing. The partially filled option has narrower lines since you do not need to write in as much information. The PDFs do not have "fillable" blanks because I do not have that capability with my free Adobe software. (If there's a way to create such a function with the free software please let me know.) However, inside the PDF you should be able to use the Add Text function to type directly onto either version. 

If the lists work well for you, let me know and I will add more colors as the months go on and I get bored.

Now, just because I'm not currently running a professional design business does not mean my items aren't copyrighted. And I hate to have to address this problem but when I was running an Etsy shop...I saw it all too often. Please don't swipe these and hold them out as your own, charge other people for them, or steal them for your website or blog. It's rude, unnecessary, and illegal. I got my inspiration from another free printable but it is not the same content, layout, or design. Basically only the idea of filing in the bubbles for each day is the same.

Hope these work out well for you all!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dollar Shave Club Review

Years ago, I stopped paying "pink tax" and couponers were raging about how there are always coupons to get free (or nearly free) razors. And let me tell you...there's a reason those razors are free. My choices seemed to be "high priced, decent quality" or "low priced, low quality" razors. Neither option was really appealing, so I streeeeeetched my razor blades as long as I could and streeeeeetched out how long I went between shaves too. BUT...that's not comfortable on so many levels. AND...I live in Texas now, where the shaving season is much, much longer than when we lived in Iowa. was time to figure out something better.

I started to give Dollar Shave Club a shot when they first came out but didn't. I didn't really believe the razors would be any better. Then a couple months ago my dear husband had to start shaving daily again and signed himself up. He chose their cheapest level, the Humble Twin, because he has always preferred the two blade razors. He gave it a good review, along with the shave butter. I looked at his razor (that blue handle in the picture below). I was skeptical. It sure didn't look like it could navigate ankles and knees and pits...

So I did what I always do...I googled for reviews. Reviews from women. There weren't many and among the few I found many were just an unboxing. I don't care about what comes in the box, how fun the little paper pamphlet is, or how clever the marketing slogans are - how does it work? Does it shave well? Which razor did you choose? And how does the razor hold up? Is it really necessary to change it every. single. week. like DSC recommends? But I did find a few reviews that were positive so I decided to give DSC a shot, then add my experience should any other women want to try it too.

  • Which razor? I chose the 4X. It seemed to be what was recommended "for your lover" (seriously DSC?) and what other women had selected. It was also the most comparable to my preferred razors of the past. I do like it better than my husband's Humble Twin. The handle has more weight to it and it flexes better.
  • Does it shave well? Yes. And about a million times better than the cheapo razors (which had a similar cost even with a coupon). No multiple swipes or nicks or clogged razor.
  • How does it hold up? I have used the same blade every 2-3 days for almost 2 weeks and it's probably time to change out. I could probably change it sooner or keep pushing it for another week without major discomfort. I figure that after a few every other month deliveries I will be stocked up for awhile and can discontinue my plan for awhile.
  • What about that shave butter? I really, really did not want to like it. It's pricey when you're talking about using enough to shave your legs. Personally though I can't use shaving cream - not the cheap stuff, not the "pink tax" stuff, none of it - it gives me a rash every time. So I tried the butter on one leg and compared it to conditioner on the other leg. The butter worked better, period. Easier glide, less clogging, fewer left behind hairs, it did its job well and didn't give me a rash. The fact that I like the shave butter (but not its cost) is making me looking also at Harry's since their prices are comparable once you add in the shave butter but their razors are (supposedly) better quality than DSC. You can expect a Harry's review post in the future.
Anything else you want to know? Comment and ask me.
*Full Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way for my post, however I do include a referral link in this post.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Planner Newbie - The Happy Planner from MAMBI 2016-2017

After finishing graduate school, my husband and I changing jobs a couple of times, living in four different houses in less than two years, and moving to a new state...we may finally be settling down. We are all very grateful for the changes, but even more grateful for some stability. Somewhere in all those changes my brain has become rather glitchy - if I don't write it down then I won't remember it. Recently I realized that even though I was recording things, I was doing so in four or five different places so it wasn't uncommon for me to lose the grocery list or miss a reminder about an appointment or forget where I put that note. So I went searching for a planner, a real, tangible, write-it-down with a pencil, planner - and I found out that things have changed drastically since I last used one, about a decade ago. There are so many options and so many PRETTY options!

I won't say how much time and energy went into the hunt for the "perfect" planner, but in the end - I didn't get it right. I wanted one planner to do EVERYTHING I needed and really - that wasn't necessary nor feasible. I first bought a personal size Color Crush from Webster's Pages hoping that I could use it for both money management (envelope budget system) and household planning, but the reality for me was that the weekly pages just weren't big enough for household planning. They'll hold a few appointments or a shopping list but not full checklist of chores and tasks and appointments and reminders that I need in order to stay on top of things. So I decided to split the job of household management between the Color Crush and this little beauty that I came across at Michael's - the Happy Planner in Fresh Floral from MAMBI. 

Isn't she pretty? There are 10 style options of the Classic Planner 
if all the flowers aren't your style and specific Student and Teacher editions. 

And look how cute - there are even hearts on the discs! 

 So why did I chose the Happy Planner over, say, Erin Condren or Plum Papers?
  • Local availability - The line is carried at both Hobby Lobby and Michael's - which means I totally used coupons to make the purchase. (Because I'm frugal and I want to stretch my pennies.)
  • Easily customized - Both with extension packs and Internet printables. Almost every brand has extensions and printables available online but I don't want to have to rely on printing things (my printer isn't very reliable) nor wait for things to ship (because I'm impatient like that). Also, the disc bound system makes extras easy to add/move/remove.
  • Undated Calendar Extension pack - The available 6 month undated extension pack meant I could start using it right away and keep using it until 2017, for the same price as a 12 month planner bought online that didn't start until July.  And the pack came with sticker pages to help date those suckers so I didn't have to go hunting for stamps or buying more pieces to make them work.
  • Fitness, Household, and Recipe options - When time and budget allow I think these extension will be fun and useful.
  • Layout - It isn't drastically different than the competition but the weekly spreads were set up in a way so that I can plan household in the side bar, homeschool in the mornings, and everything else in the afternoon/evening blocks.
  • Design - The aesthetics appealed to me. If I'm looking at this thing everyday then it's about both form and function. I'm honestly not going to use it as much if it's clunky and ugly.
So what's it look like inside? Check it out.
The sweet and a bit "girlie", but it made me smile. 

My favorite part - the weekly spreads.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

I just made a whole chicken in the slow cooker for the first time and it was the best chicken I have ever made, ever.  So moist and so easy.  I normally brine a chicken for 24 hours before roasting it in the oven and it still isn't as moist as it was when made in the slow cooker.  If you like a crispy skin on your chicken though, you won't get it in the slow cooker.  My family usually just removes the skin so it wasn't a big deal to us.
Forgive the bad picture. I wasn't planning to blog it until it came out so yummy!
First, before you doing anything with the chicken or spices, grab some foil and roll 4 balls of foil to put under the chicken.  She shows you how over at No. 2 Pencil and trust me, she's right.  I chose not to follow her recipe because she used a pre-mixed spice blend.  I have found that the spice blends at the store are often not friendly to the Elimination Diet restrictions and I prefer to balance spices myself.

Spice Blend - Mix together in a small bowl.

2 t. salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion flakes
2 t. black pepper
1 t. red chili flakes

1 whole chicken, 3.5-4.5 lbs.
3-4 T. EVOO or butter
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic

After mixing the spices, grab your chicken.  Don't rinse it.  If your chicken came with the neck, I recommend placing it on the bottom of the cooker next to the foil balls for later use in making stock. Place chicken in slow cooker atop foil balls.

Rub the chicken with oil or butter. (I use EVOO.) Then rub the chicken with spices both on top and under the skin for extra flavor.  Chop the yellow onion into 4-5 wedges.  Roughly chop the garlic cloves.  Place onion wedges and chopped garlic into the bird's cavity.

Cook the chicken on low for 4-5 hours.  (Time and temperature will vary by cooker type.)  Use a meat thermometer to check if chicken is done.

What I Learned Week 1

Reflection.  It's a good thing, necessary for growth, both personal and professional.  It's an indispensable tool for teachers of all types.  It comes naturally to me but I don't always remember to write it down, which isn't helpful.  This past week was our first week of homeschool for the 2015-2016 school year and I have learned (or was reminded) of SO many lessons from my children.

What Did I Learn?
  • Spreadsheets are Helpful but Simple is Best - I had a huge spreadsheet for Week 1.  I mean HUGE, about three times what is shown below.  I had it divided up by day and subject, including page numbers and references.  It was super organized.  Did I use it?  Some, but I kept simplifying it to a little daily checklist.  
  • Calendar Time is almost useless as long as it remains in their room (with all their toys nearby). Do the routine and picture books but notebooking is pointless.
  • Quiet Boxes - It's pointless to plan what goes in them ahead of time.  
  • Reading - Picture book reading works best as part of Calendar Time; Read Aloud time works best during afternoon snack time.
  • Phonics - It either clicks for my girl or it doesn't.  If it doesn't then there's no use dwelling on it.  It will frustrate us both.  Keep practicing reading skills and eventually it will just click.
  • Handwriting - My girl needs practice, practice, practice until all those old bad habits from public school are gone. My boy isn't ready - color and trace, color and trace.
  • Fridays are for review.  No one feels like sitting and concentrating on something new by that point in the week.
  • Feedback from the kids - Craft projects. More music time. Don't leave Science until last.

What Did We Do?

Week 1
Field Trips
Beach; Six Flags; Library
Bible Verse, 100 Days, Letter, Number, Pledge, Weather
Hot air : the (mostly) true story of the first hot-air balloon ride Marjorie Priceman.
How do hot air balloons work? Buffy Silverman.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
The Cheese by Margie Palatini
A Year of Playing Skillfully
Sensory Box
Sand & Seashells
Phonics - CH/SH; Phonics Review; Phonics Review; Writing - All About Me; Sight Words - First Grade
Singapore Math - Go Fish, War card games
Bible Sketchbook - God made Heavens & Earth, Eve and the Serpent, Rules - Fruit of the Tree
Music & Art
Combined with Science and Writing
Combined with Calendar time