June 27, 2016

Overcoming the Narcissist

We are not here to fix anyone. We cannot fix anyone. Everyone is responsible for and capable of fixing themselves, but only if they so choose to.  -Alex Myles, The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist
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This is something I don't even feel comfortable talking about sometimes but I hope that in explaining my story, others in similar situations will see the light. Recently, a friend of mine and I were discussing past relationships we were in and how we couldn't believe how blinded we were. We've all met a couple like this. You want so badly to tell them they are in a toxic relationship but you know it will do no good.

I've been there. I've been that girl with the guy who is controlling, manipulative, and makes you feel worthless. He (or she) is "The Narcissist": someone who is preying on a person who just wants to be loved and love others. Someone who sympathizes with the "damaged" narcissist.

Elephant Journal's The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist had really struck a cord with me the first time I read it. It describes the dynamic as a give & take...which I feel is completely accurate.

In my experience, I gave the relationship everything. Two and a half years of travelling, crying, and doing everything I could to make it work. To prove myself. The fact that I thought I had to prove myself says it right there. I felt like I wasn't worthy of his love. And he made me feel that way, but consistently listening to me say "I love you.." never to hear it back. To tell me not to say that to him. Not to hold his hand. Not to try to cuddle. Two years. Two years of not understanding how you can be with someone and claim they are so special to you, yet refuse to say "that's my girlfriend." Two years. Two years of driving two hours every other weekend just to spend one night with him. Two years of feeling like I had to be someone I'm not. This hard, hyper-sexual person. Someone I was uncomfortable being. Someone I didn't like seeing in the mirror.

To cope, I partied. I drank a lot and dated because "two can play that game. I'm not your girlfriend so why should I act like it, right?" I met some great guys, too...who I proceeded to completely screw over and hurt because I couldn't let go of the narcissist. Because deep down I'd keep telling myself, "he loves me, he just doesn't know it yet." In the meantime, I wanted to be around anyone who made me feel worth it. Someone who made me feel pretty and special. And I met those people sometimes. But it didn't matter. Anytime my narcissist got wind of it, he'd come back around to crap all over it. And I let him. Because I thought that meant he cared and loved me. I let him make me believe life was like some movie. The twisted guy is saved by the girl.

I distanced myself from friends, family, co-workers. I didn't want to hear what they had to tell me about my relationship. The worst part is they really tried to be happy for me. They wanted to see it succeed for my sake, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen.

I felt guilty. I hated who I had become and it was my own fault. I was angry. For letting someone take control of my life. For hurting people around me. I knew I was never going to have another functional relationship until I could get rid of the toxic narcissist. It wasn't until I was driving home from his house for the last time. During my two hour ride home at night on a Sunday, I saw a shooting star. And without thinking, I wished that I'd never see him again. And then I cried. I cried for the next hour home. That was my ah ha moment. I came home, called him and told him we needed to take some time apart. Something that is virtually impossible to do when the narcissist is fighting for the control he is losing. The phone calls and text messages were non-stop for the next two weeks.

It wasn't until I started hanging out with my now husband, who was an old friend, when I really had enough. Tim told me he had met a girl from the same area as the narcissist. She had slept with him...recently. I felt stupid. Ashamed. Embarrassed. I was done. Took every measure I could. Broke it off with him. Blocked him on all social media. Changed my phone number. If he could contact me, he could control me. And I had to prevent that until I was strong enough to fight back and say no. And I did get stronger. Strong enough that when he showed up at my house a month later to tell me how much he loved me and "needed me" I stood up for myself. I told him to go home. Life was not a movie. This is not the part where the guy who screwed up gets the girl. This was the part where he went home and laid in the bed he had made for himself. And I've never felt more proud of myself that I did in that moment.


I am not writing this to blame him for hurting me. I'm not writing to shame anyone or play the victim. I am just as much as fault for my dysfunctional relationship and the actions that I didn't take. I should have been more aware of who I was becoming. I should have never tried to change myself for someone else. I'm writing this because if you are someone in a situation like this or know someone else who is, please understand. They are not naive, or stupid. They are someone with a huge heart who just wants to be loved. They are someone who just wants to feel like they are worth it. That they deserve a happy and healthy relationship. So tell them you love them. Tell them you are here for them no matter what. Let them talk without judgement. Let them cry, without the "I told you so". Because that's what they are looking for. And as soon as someone sees the light, they can build themselves up to be free of that pain. I did, and ended up marrying the person who helped me see the light.

Thank you for letting me share this. I know it's a bit dark, but I just feel like there are a lot more people in these situations than you think. We use social media as a veil to what our lives are really like. I wanted to be honest and open, so again..thank you.   

June 24, 2016

Home Renos: Before Part 1

So just over a year ago, my husband and I scored a huge deal on our first home. It was an older bugalow house, two bedrooms, one bath and a huge partially finished attic. Score right? Well...we've come to find that owning a home is a LOT of work and a ton of money. My first thought when we moved in was that the house hadn't been taken care of. The previous owners were just careless and didn't give the house the TLC it deserved. We were fortunate enough to find a short sale home with beautiful hardwood floors (or at least in most of the house) and a kitchen with serious potential.

I grew up in a house that had very little clutter. And being raised that way, I've become the same. I need the most simplistic spaces with as little clutter as possible. However, realistically that's not my life. Our house is a MESS! There...I said it. You will not be seeing beautiful HGTV Fixer Upper reno pics. You are about to see our honest home. The one that most people won't show guests. But I want to share it with you. Our home has so much character and deserves a huge face lift. We intend to make it our first and forever home, but it's a long journey. Here is our plan for attack.

the walls.
This house was a serious snooze when we moved in. Everything was a solid colored off white (but slightly yellowed from discoloration) wall. It was sad and looked dirty. The first thing we did before even moving in was paint...EVERYTHING WE COULD!





the living room.
what we did - So far, I spruced up the living room by adding lighter colored furniture and curtains, painted all the walls a light beachy blue, through a printed area run down, and best of all...we got all new windows!!


the windows.
This was the worst part. So, we knew eventually we'd have to replace all of our windows when we moved in They were all the old lead glass, two had beautiful stained glass pieces however you could barely open them because of it. A lot of the sashes on the windows were broken and we knew we'd be blowing through heat with them in the cold New England winters. It wasn't until the day I came home to find our kitten hanging by his hind leg from a window that a sash broke while he was sitting on the window sill that forced me to get new windows sooner than later. We had a baby coming in the next year and there was no way I would have this happen to any more pets, or worse our child! Needless to say, we are SO happy we did! Replacing all of our windows has updated our entire house. Everything looks so much brighter and cleaner. here is a before of the old windows.

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Which brings me to...  
the door.
I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating our front door was. This is by far one of my happiest upgrades so far. When we moved in, we had this beautiful solid wood front door. The only problem is our house key was a skeleton key and it only locked from the inside. Ugh! Tim and I thought we could quick fix it and just purchase a new door knob. Turns out in the 1920's, the space that door knobs were installed in was much larger so a standard knob would not fit. Besides this, we constantly had to slam the door shut in order to make sure it closed, otherwise a breeze would blow it right open. We caved, hired a contractor (who did our windows as well) and now have a beautiful front door! Now to decide what color to paint it!





the bedroom floors.
Lastly (for now), our bedroom flooring. So, while we had beautiful hardwoods in the living and dining room, the two bedrooms were never refinished. Ugh! When I was 6 months pregnant, refinishing the floors just wasn't in the budget financially and I didn't have the time. I always preferred carpeting in bedrooms anyway. It was cozier and made it feel homey. But again, the cost to install a carpet was not what I was looking for. I had to do something for the nursery before the baby came. I decided to purchase adhesive carpetting squared from Home Depot and install it myself (6 months preggers, might I add!) This was by far the most valuable and easiest thing I've ever done. It took me an hour and a half to carpet Cooper's entire nursery! And there are no lines!!! You can't even tell they are tiles. Here is Cooper's room finished, and a side by side of the wood floors and carpeted floor.




What are some easy reno ideas you've done in you home to upgrade things?

June 21, 2016

The Complete Splurge, Skip, Borrow list for your Baby Registry

I absolutely hate clutter, even though my house is a total mess. When I got pregnant, I spent countless hours combing through blogs on what were the must-have registry items. I was careful about taking the time to really assess what I would need and ignore anything that wasn't necessary in hopes of cutting down on the crap that was about to overtake my entire life. Even doing that, I really did find things that I really wished I had, and others that I wish I would have known better. Below is my list of the items to splurge, skip, and try to borrow from friends and family. I tried to go off only things I had tried and used to make this the most useful list I could.  

SPLURGE

Ergobaby Original Carrier – I thought about this one long and hard at the end of my pregnancy and when Cooper was born. I thought the price tag for this was absurd when there were so many cheaper ones. I ended up ordering a cheap version first and boy, do I regret wasting my money. There is just no comparison. This carrier is heavily padded in the shoulders and distributes baby weight so evenly that it is so comfortable to wear. Having the shade cover for baby’s head is also a huge plus. And it has pockets on the front!!! I’ve stuck my keys and cell in there while walking around. Cooper was visibly more comfortable in the Ergo than he was in the cheap carrier I bought. Worth the splurge! Purchase here. $119

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Wubbanub – Another ridiculously priced, but brilliant item. The Wubbanub is a Soothie pacifier with a plush toy attached to it. Sounds like nothing for the $15 price tag right? Oh, contrar! This thing was amazing. Soothies are the only pacifier Cooper will take. When he was a newborn, I couldn’t stand how the pacifier would continually just plop right out of his mouth. Knowing he already had a monster grip, this was a life saver. Coop was able to hold onto the toy part to keep it in his mouth. And when he wasn’t holding it, I would just tuck a blanket under it to hold it up. The downside to this is they don’t sell them with anything other than the 0-3 month Soothie pacifier. So as they get older, you’re kinda s.o.l. I was looking at it closely though, you can probably just rip off the old pacifier and hand sew on a 3+ month paci instead. Also, I’m sure these are super easy to make if you have any of the old McDonald’s Happy Meal mini beanie babies (circa 90’s) and any pacifier. Purchase here. $13.95 (prices vary online.)

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Baby Bum Brush - Don't you hate how when you apply diaper rash cream to your baby's bottom, you always seem to get some stuck under your finger nails? It's the cream that never comes off! Your prayers have been answered. This bum brush is so simple and so useful. You never have to touch diaper cream again. Plus, it spreads the cream on your baby's bum more evenly so you don't have to use as much and go through it as fast. Purchase here. $7.99

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Bottle Drying Rack – We started by using our regular dish drying rack for bottles. It was okay, but the bottles constantly kept falling and the bottle nipples were falling through the cracks onto the counter. I kept seeing the Boon grass bottle dryer in the store and then decided to try it. SO much better! It holds the bottles straight up, has a fully covered bottom so your counters don’t get wet, and the grass can be picked right out of the base to be washed. I love it. Worth the extra dough! Purchase at Target. $17.99

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Aden & Adais swaddle muslin blankets – Formally known as the insanely overpriced blanket. No no. I purchased a 3-pack of these with a Nordstrom store credit I had left over. They are the SOFTEST blankets I’ve ever felt. I want one for myself! Cooper hates being swaddles, but he loves cuddling up with one of these super thin blankets. They are perfect for cooler summer nights where he just needs something thin to cover up with. All of the other cheaper comparable blankets I found to this were just not as soft and cozy. I wish I could buy a thousand of these. Nordstrom. 3-pak for $45

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A handmade Minky Blanket – I wrote a review of the blanket I purchased from Etsy. And it was well worth it. This is a blanket Cooper will grow up with. It’s perfect for his car seat and for cold nights.

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Dock -A-Tot – Ok. I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit I spent this much money on what appears to be a glorified dog bed. But the Dock-A-Tot is sooooo much more than that! When Cooper was 2 months old, he wouldn’t sleep for longer than 3-4 hours at a time at night…if we were lucky. When searching Pinterest for tips on getting baby to sleep longer, the Dock-A-Tot appeared. I could talk about it all day, so instead I’d go read about the specifics on it here. I ordered the Dock-A-Tot out of sleep desperation, and I’m so happy I did. The first night we had it, Cooper slept 5 hours straight! Since then, he’s been sleeping 7-8 hours a night without waking up in his Dock-A-Tot. The best part is the dock is totally portable. Take it to the beach, day care, sleepovers at relatives. And he never realizes he’s in a different place to sleep because he is still cozy in his dock no matter what. They come in two sizes, up to 9 months and then one for toddlers transitioning to beds. If you are having trouble with a sleeping baby, make the purchase! You’ll thank me later. Deluxe $165-185 Grande $260-290

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Car Mirror with a light/music – My best friend swore that I needed to purchase a mirror with a light. I told her she was insane and the regular old car seat mirror I got was fine. After the first night driving home in the dark, I was singing a different tune (anxiety ridden mother – activate!). The store only had one that played music also. I’m so happy they did! He loves the lullabies it plays. I personally think the music sounds like a dying Speak-n-Spell toy, but it keeps him quiet and puts him right to sleep if he’s crying. Brica $26.99

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SKIP

Microwave Bottle Sterilizer – While I didn’t spend much on this (I think I got the Babies R Us brand), I literally only used it once to try it out. I honestly don’t see the point of sterilizing bottles constantly. We just wash ours and air dry them and Cooper is still alive. Who knew! I believe the bottle sterilizer to be a gimmick created to exploit vulnerable new parents into believing their kid is a porcelain doll (targeting coddlers). With that being said, we do still sterilize things like bottle nips, teething toys, and pacifiers every now and then, but I think it’s way easier to just use a sterilizing bag. You can use one bag 20-30 times and they cost a fraction of the giant plastic container that will take up your entire cupboard. Sterlizer  $19.99 Bags 6-pack $7.99 

Newborn clothes – Do not waste your money! Most babies will wear these for a week and then grow out of them. Not to mention you’re not leaving the house during that time, so there is nothing you will need other than plain onesies and warm pajamas. Plus, people will get you all sorts of outfits at your shower and when the baby is born. 

Newborn Shoes – So pointless, and virtually impossible to find a pair that will stay on. Opt for socks and slippers (if you must have something additional). I found “crib shoes” on Etsy that I still put on Cooper. He’s four months old. He’s not walking, therefore does not need to be wearing uncomfortable sneakers. 

Play Yard Extras – My Pack ‘N’ Play came with a napper/changing station and these cheap Velcro hanging toys. I used all of it NEVER. I ended up ripping it all off. Baby is not interested at that age for any of that. Plus, Cooper napped in his Rock n Play, not the play yard. Save yourself about $40 and just get a basic play yard. I will say the only “extra” I really did use a lot was the clip on piece that raises the floor up higher for small babies. Cooper slept in that up until a week ago. The only extra I will say are worth it was a play yard mattress. It added a little extra padding to the hard surface. But skip the play yard sheet. A regular crib sheet tucked in the edges will work just as well. Pack N Play - $79.99 Play yard mattress - $14.60

Crib Bedding - Save the money!! Your kid will never use it. Not to mention you aren't even supposed to have blankets in the crib...although, I won't lie. I cheat and use thin receiving blankets (sorry, I'm not Mom of the Year!) I ended up having my grandmother knit Cooper a blanket to match the theme of his bedroom instead to hang over the edge of the crib. This was something much more convenient to use to cover him when we cuddled on the couch rather than a stiff comforter. I did still end up getting the crib bumpers (another faux pas...oops!) and the curtains. They worked amazing with our vintage sports theme

Diapers – I cannot stress enough how much of a waste of time “stocking up” on diapers is before you have your baby. You have no clue what sizes you are going to need, and even though you can exchange them, you’re still going to have to make that extra trip to the store, so why bother? We also had a premie baby, so we had no newborn diapers at home thinking he’d be almost out of them by the time we left the hospital. Cooper ended up being in newborn sizes until he was almost 2 months old. If you must buy diapers ahead of time, I suggest purchasing one large box of each size and store them away. This way when you realize baby’s diapers are getting tight, you will have the next size up handy until you can get to the store to purchase a new box. If you aren’t sure how much longer baby will be in a certain size, get a smaller package. There is nothing worse than buying a huge box and opening it, only to use 5 diapers before you have to move a size up.

Formula – Wait, wait, wait! This is a personal item for baby. Each baby has a different way they digest it. It turned out for us that Cooper could only take Enfamil Gentlease after I stopped breastfeeding. Everything else I had to get rid of. Luckily, there is an easy way to hold you over. When you are pregnant, sign up on Enfamil & Similac’s website. They sent me tons of samples that I was able to try with Cooper to see what worked well for us. And they are good size samples! What I couldn’t use, I asked other mom’s on Facebook if they could use it and gave it away or exchanged for those who had Gentlease to get rid of. Enfamil Family Beginnings Similac Strong Moms  


BORROW (where possible)

Baby Swing – I didn’t purchase one of these. I didn’t want my son to get used to being in one and we end up letting him sleep there. Instead, Tim’s cousin had a 4moms mamaroo that she wasn’t using anymore and offered to let us borrow it until they decide to have another.

Hand-me down clothes – This was the best. My best friend’s son was born in January, three years prior. Because of that, all of his old clothes (which she thankfully saved in neatly labeled bins) fit Cooper at the same time he would need them. We decided we’d start swapping, as they plan to have another child within the next year. She gave me 2-3 bins at a time, and when I am done with them, I add Cooper’s new clothes that I got to the bins and swap out for the next size up. It has saved us so much money! And now our kids have a huge wardrobe. I don’t think Cooper has ever worn the same thing twice.

Car Seat Bases – Not always possible, but if you can find someone who has used the same type of infant car seat in the past, consider borrowing car seat bases. Luckily, a friend of mine had 3 car seat bases she wasn’t using and they were taking up space in her apartment. This saved me $150 not having to purchase them for everyone.

Share with me your must have and have-not's for baby items!

June 10, 2016

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Planner (from the Beginner’s Point of View)

As I’ve mentioned, I have anxiety, which is extremely difficult to live with some days. It’s not just difficult for me, but for my husband and the rest of my family and friends. Because of this, sticking to a schedule is crucial for me. I’m fortunate enough that my anxiety is not very severe. I have good days and I have bad days. When my son, Cooper was born prematurely, we had a lot of doctor’s appointment to keep up with. He was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism which comes with extra appointments, routine blood work and medication. On top of all this, Tim and I’s lives still continued. When I returned to work two months later, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of things we had going on in our lives. I felt my mind constantly racing about what we had going on that day, week, month, as well dealing with planning our wedding coming up in August. I couldn’t stop thinking about how busy we were and desperately needed time to relax. I began researching ways to manage the hectic things going on in our lives. I then discovered the world of planners and agendas. Apparently, there is an entire social media community built around beautiful planners, efficiency systems for planners and the creative sides to planning. It was like my prayers had been answered. Starting a planner was difficult. It’s something that you need to work into your routine, as putting together your planner is work itself. For me, I enjoy doing it. Setting up my week in my planner is my quiet time after Cooper is in bed on Sunday nights. I get to sit back, make my planner look pretty and enjoy a glass of wine. The biggest benefit to me starting a planner was being able to put all my thoughts, appointments, and wedding ideas down in paper. This way I could clear my mind to be present while at work, while spending time with Cooper, and with my husband. I became a more attentive partner and parent by doing this. With that being said, I’d like to share the steps I took to start a great planner. I highly encourage you to share with me your ideas and planner experience. I’m still a Planner Newbie and really am looking for creative ways to improve mine.

Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Planner

1. Research the type of hardware you want. There are so many different types of planners that vastly range in price. Some planners are a one-time use system, while others you are able to use from year to year by simply changing the inserts. I personally prefer something reusable. I always feel the up-front investment is always cheaper in the long run. But there are still so many types and it is a personal preference. First, you will need to determine the size you want. The two most popular are A5 size and Personal size. When considering which size you will chose make sure to think about what you will mostly be using it for. Do you need a lot of space? Or do you prefer to keep your planner brief? Where will you primarily be keeping your planner? Do you want to take it with you everywhere, or do you keep it stationary? Next, decide what type of binding you want. There are so many different choices. You can purchase a standard 6-ring binder, a coil binding, disc-bound planners, etc. Do your research, and even try out different planners. There are so many bloggers who have reviewed different style planners. Sarah from Mama’s Got It Together does a great overview of the different system’s and their pros and cons. You can check that out here. I personally love using Filofax “The Original” in Hot Pink A5 size. I ordered mine on Amazon. It was a large cost up front, but I know it is sturdy and I will have it for years. It is made of beautiful soft leather, and the hot pink color is BRIGHT and so fun. I like that with a binder system, I can move things around for what works for me, which was crucial just starting to plan. I still haven’t quite figured out how I like my set up.
   

2. Choose a layout. Your options here could be limited based on the type of planner hardware you choose. If you are choosing a binder system or disc-bound system, chances are you will have more options. If not, I’d suggest researching what the interior of your planner will look like prior to purchasing. Most reusable planners will come with stock inserts. Personally, I find the Filofax inserts to be really dull, super thin paper, and being way too cluttered. I like having Day-On-One pages (or one page per day). It gives me plenty of room to write and doodle. My favorite inserts are from Etsy shop Veronica Foley Design LLC. You can read my review on these here . I’m also re-purposing the sample Meal Planner inserts she sent me for planning my blog posts! Other options that are popular is Week-On-Two, Month-On-Two (I also have these in front of my daily inserts). Many blogs and Etsy shops sell pre-printed inserts that are already punched for your planner, as well as printables that you can download and print at a local Office Max or Staples. 
 




3. Accessories. There are sooo many planner accessories out there, so do some research. I will talk about what I have in my planner, and what I’ve found not to be very useful, however these are all personal decisions based on how you plan to use yours. First thing I really wanted to do was add some flair. I started by designing my divider sheets that I received with the stock inserts of my Filofax. I’m still working on these since they are pretty boring. I decorated them with some washi tape and cute printed quotes I found on Pinterest.

 

Next, I ordered a planner dashboard. A dashboard is basically the cover to your planner. I got mine from Etsy (shocker!) in the Stylish Planner shop. I tried to find something beautiful that would match my bright pink planner. The shop sells covers and dashboards for all different style planners and they are all reasonably priced.


I then ordered a pocket folder for my Filofax from Sequins & Paper. This is one of my favorite planner accessory shops! The stuff is so cute and she hand illustrates everything. Such great work! I’ve already placed another order for some journaling cards (still not sure what to use these for but they are cute) and a custom made dashboard.



4. Supplies. Ok – these are crucial. You cannot have a pretty or efficient planner without the proper tools. I like to keep all of mine in silver Bando pocket I bought on clearance from Nordstrom. It’s about the actual size of my planner itself, but it holds EVERYTHING. Inside, I always have these things on hand –

  Scissors: I purchased my scissors from Poppin.com for work and just started using them for my planner instead. I love how sharp these scissors are but they are large. I may end up purchasing a smaller size for my planner.

Single Hole Punch: Skip purchasing the A5 6-Ring hole punches. It’s not worth the ridiculous price! I purchased this standard hole punch for just over $2 from CVS and it’s perfect.

A Good Pen: And make it a GOOD one! You’ll be using it to write a lot. I like using the Pilot Frixon Clicker pen. It’s erasable! And honestly, one of the best erasable pens I’ve ever used. It’s not the prettiest, but that’s nothing a little washi tape can’t fix.

Washi Tape: This is a staple for any planner who wants to get creative. It’s an inexpensive way to make a dull planner bright. I don’t usually carry it with me unless it’s a single roll. I use it at home when I plan out my week.

Multi-color Pens: I purchased a cheap pack of BIC Cristal pens for this. They are inexpensive and have really bright colors. I love the way they write also. If you like color coding these are great. I mainly just use them to keep things pretty. I also like using Sharpie fine point pens. The inserts I use are thick enough that they won’t bleed through, but that’s not always the case for Sharpies.

Sharpie Markers: I keep a handful of different Sharpies with me. I keep a couple colored, three metallic and a standard black.

Stickers & Flags: I love using stickers all over the place. I haven’t used the flags much, but I’m sure they are helpful.





5. Setting up your planner. When deciding on how you will set up your planner, this may take some time. I’ve already rearranged mine a few times and still move things around. Right now I have it sectioned off like this.

Odds & Ends: This is where I keep samples that came with my purchases, pretty pictures, yearly calendars.

Calendars: I set it up Month-On-Two with Day-On-One pages in between the months. I usually only keep three months in my planner at a time because with Day-On-One pages, it can get a little bulky. After a month is over, I pull out the pages and save them in a small plastic box. I’m a bit of a pack-rat so I save everything.

Blog: This is basically just lined paper where I can brainstorm ideas, keep my weekly posting plans and doodle.




Wedding: While my husband and I are already married, we never had a wedding so I am in the process of planning our ceremony & reception for this August. In this section I have doodles of what I want the layout of the space and ceremony to look like, to-dos, important contacts and notes.



Misc.: This is mostly planner insert samples that I know will be useful at some point but still not sure how I want to use them.   I’m probably going to be adding a Budgeting & Bill Tracker section to my planner soon. I didn’t find having a meal planner was useful because I never stuck to it. My life is too crazy to get that detailed into planning. Starting a planner can be overwhelming at first because there are so many different options. I hope this helped to clarify a few common questions. I’m still learning how to use mine every day and it’s a lot of fun. The most important part is to make a routine out of it. I open mine every morning when I get to work and look at my day. Before I even answer e-mails, I make sure I have all my meetings written in and make a short to-do list for the day. Taking planning day by day has helped me relax a lot. It’s also helped me to realize I can’t do everything exactly when I want to. By seeing my day on paper, I stress a lot less knowing what to expect next.



Have any great planner tips for me? I’d love to hear them in the comments!!

June 9, 2016

Netflix & Amazon Instant Video Binge : Girly Cult Classics

I’m a huge Netflix fan. The selection of movies and TV shows seem to surpass all imitators. Amazon Instant Video is a close second for me, but mostly just because most of the content is free with your Amazon Prime membership. Both have a vast selection of new releases and old classics (and by old I am referring to late '90s/early '00s. Sorry, I'm a baby!!!). Netflix has also been increasing its original production content ever since the Orange is the New Black success. But for some reason I tend to stick to the same type of movies and TV shows that are familiar and comforting. Sometimes, rewatching a TV series tells me a different story each time. You begin to pick up on things you didn’t notice before. That - and when you have anxiety like I do, watching something you've already seen helps you relax. I’m a stereotypical girl with movies and TV. I like romcoms, girly comedies, feel good movies. I love TV shows that my husband wouldn’t be caught dead watching (mostly because he is an avid question-asker when we watch TV, and I HATE IT!) Here are a couple of my absolute favorites that I’ve literally watched over and over without complaint (in order of fabulousness). CAUTION – There may be some SPOILERS below!

Pretty Little Liars (Netflix, 6 seasons - still airing new episodes on Freeform)
The infamous quad squad of ladies desperately trying to seek out their stalker, “A”. My best friend, sister and I have been watching this show together since the beginning. This show has so many plot twists and turns that you almost have to watch each episode more than once. Every now and again, I will go back and start from the beginning. What I find when I rewatch this show, unfortunately, is all of the inconsistencies. I think the show’s writers bank on the fact that there is always something crazy going on in PLL and you probably won’t remember if something doesn't seem to match up with a plot line that happened a season or two ago. Regardless, it is entertaining and fun to be on this mystery ride. After the disappointing “A” reveal of Season 6, we are all pretty over the show at this point, but feel like we should see it through to the end.
PLL

The Royals (Amazon Instant Video, 2 seasons - still airing new episodes on E!)
This show is brand spankin’ new with only two short seasons so far. OBSESSED. The Royals depicts the fictional royal family of England. The show circles around twin siblings Princess Eleanor and Prince Liam, following their rowdy, scandalous lives as they try to solve a murder and find out who may be after their family. They deal with the realization that the people of England may want to disband the monarchy for good. Best plot line – Princess Eleanor’s secret relationship with her drop-dead gorgeous bodyguard, Jasper Frost, a con artist from Las Vegas posing as a loyal citizen from Shortage, England.
Royals

Hart of Dixie (Netflix, 4 seasons – cancelled CW Network)
This show was a sweet favorite of mine. I’m actually really bummed it was cancelled last year . It wasn’t super popular, but for those who had seen it, it was an instant favorite. Rachel Bilson stars as Zoe Hart, a New York City doctor fresh out of medical school who moves to the pseudo-town of Bluebell, Alabama to take over her estranged father’s private medical practice. The stereotypical small town of Bluebell is sweet, quaint and close like family. It is a town stuck in another time, but warms the heart of anyone watching. The show itself is honestly, a little bit cheesy. The acting isn’t great either. But for some reason I just can’t get enough of the Zoe Hart love triangle of golden boy lawyer, George Tucker and the redneck bartender, Wade Kinsella. Personally, I’m Team Zade…love me them bad boys! Times watched: 3
HartofDixie   

One Tree Hill (Netflix, 9 seasons – cancelled CW Network)
I started watching One Tree Hill last year on Netflix after seeing it in the “Because you watched…” section. I heard it had a large fan base, so I figured I’d give it a try. This show is one of my favorites. It covers everything you could ever want it to – family issues, teen pregnancy, murders, careers and of course, love. The series is really a coming of age tale about two half-brothers, Nathan & Lucas Scott, and their mutual hate for each other after their father abandons one of them growing up for a cookie cutter life with his new wife. The two were forced to grow up in school together, and co-exist on the Tree Hill Ravens basketball team. The growth of each of the characters throughout this series is amazing. You truly feel like you are growing with them. While this show is not constant scandal and action, it still has the occasional, “oh no she didn’t” moments. I’ve never seen a family have as many traumatizing things happen to them as the Scott family. This is one of those series you will end feeling like you truly knew the characters and were a part of their family. I was really sad when it ended. I’ve already watched the full series twice – the second time I had to make my husband watch it because it was so good! You’ll like this if you like Gossip Girl and Friday Night Lights.
OTH

Gossip Girl (Netflix, 6 seasons – cancelled CW Network)
GG is my all-time favorite show. The show is dripping with style, sex, scandal and Chuck Bass (swoon!). For those who don’t know, the show follows the lives of four over-privileged Upper East Side teenagers and Dan Humphrey, the outsider from Brooklyn who attends their private school on the Upper East Side. The group is constantly under a microscope by a popular blogger referred to as Gossip Girl. GG divulges all of the group’s deepest and darkest secrets at the most appropriate of times. I honestly don’t even know where to begin with how great this show is. All I can say is Blair Waldorf a.k.a. Queen B is a fashion goddess. The character is stylish, sarcastic and fierce. No one crosses Queen B! And while Blair is the spoiled brat to fashion designer, Eleanor Waldorf, the character is really vulnerable and insecure in who she will become one day. I’ve literally watched Gossip Girl three full times already, currently on my fourth time around. It just makes me feel so good to watch it. The clothes and the #lifegoals that are Blair Waldorf. Chuck & Blair forever. <3GG

What are some of your favorite shows or movies that you can’t seem to stop watching over and over?

June 8, 2016

For the Love of Etsy!

Okay boys & girls, today we are going to talk about a serious obsession I’ve had in the last year…Etsy – a global marketplace where creativity comes to life in both large and small production sizes. It’s the place to go where you know you will be purchasing something unique, most often handmade, and supporting a small business. Etsy is host to about 1.6 million sellers in almost every country in the world*. I became a huge Etsy fan a couple years ago when I wanted to get my two sisters something really unique and beautiful for Christmas. Personally, I feel much more willing to spend a couple extra bucks on something knowing it is well made and from a small business. The personal touches that many of the Etsy shop owners put in their products makes the price tags much more appealing. With that being said, Etsy is not the type of website you are going to find a bargain. These are small shops who are trying to make a living and support their crafting hobbies. I’ve found you can expect to pay anywhere from a couple dollars to upwards of $20 more for an item on Etsy than you will from a box store. I do however find the quality of the items I’ve purchased on Etsy to be much higher and long-lasting. Here are a couple of my favorite finds on Etsy that I’ve gotten
over the years.



bottle_openerVintage Green Bay Packers Wall Mounted Bottle Opener By HandySam $42.00 + $8.35 shipping This was a gift for my husband one Christmas while we were still dating. I purchased this bottle opener after going through a series of painful purchases and returns with the NFL Shop. The craftsmanship of this bottle opener is exceptional. The vintage can gave my husband’s man cave a classic feel and the metal bottle opener is sturdy. I would definitely purchase this item again for other family members. This gift was a hit!

blanket_scarf
Plaid Tartan Blanket Scarf (Monogramming Available) By SewPriorAttireMitten $18.50 + $4.00 shipping     I was looking for a great winter scarf last year when I was pregnant. I need something super warm and cozy and something big enough that could double as a shawl in my office, which was absolutely frigid in the winter. This scarf fit thebill! It was so soft, I wanted to take naps on it under my desk. I used it all winter long as a scarf, shawl and even a makeshift blanket while at work. This was actually the most affordable large winter scarf I found. The only downside to this one was I am a very petite person, so the scarf was a little over powering on my frame, but I didn’t really mind too much.


minky_blanket
Large Minky Baby Blanket – Black Stag Rustic By SandHCreate $55.00 + $5.75 shipping I almost didn’t purchase this blanket for my son because of the extensive production time (at least 3 weeks), as well as a few reviews that stated the quality of stitching was not worth the cost. I beg to differ. This blanket is so soft, and the stag print fabric is just so adorable! This is perfect for chilly night feedings and a cozy blanket for the car seat. My son seems to love it (or as much as a four month old would). I love how large the size of this blanket is because we can use it as Cooper gets older. I found it extremely easy to wash and I think the stitching is just fine. Not sure what the other reviewers were talking about.

shoes

Wild Words Baby Shoes By MarleyOcean $18.00 + $4.00 shipping I struggled to find shoes for my son to wear to day care. Not many stores sell well fitting 0-3 month size shoes for babies. I found these in a quick search and we LOVE them! The backs are stretchy so they do not slip off Cooper’s feet. The inside is lined with a thin fleece so they are warm but don’t make his feet sweat. There are multiple options for the type of souls you can get on these including leather, suede, non-slip. I purchased the standard white dot non-slip bottom. All of these shoes are hand sewn and just adorable. I ended up purchasing a second pair for him to grow into in a camo print.


planner_page
On Top of It – Printed A5 Day-on-One Planner Inserts (6 months/90 sheets) By VeronicaFoleyDesign $35.00 + $4.50 shipping I am super picky about the inserts I use for my Filofax. I hate how ugly and cluttered the standard Filofax inserts are, so I really like having the option to purchase additional inserts elsewhere. The quality of this shop’s work is impeccable. The paper is a nice, heavy stock so your ink does not bleed through. The pages are front and back, day-on-one layouts. I love that they section off the To-Do’s into three blank sections, which I use for Work, Life & Wedding to-dos. These are plain black & white printed, which I love using with colored washi tape & markers. The seller shipped my inserts along with a handful of samples of other products like her Weekly Meal Planner inserts, Fitness Tracker inserts, and a Thank You card with envelope (which is gorgeous stationary!!). She also sent over a 10% coupon on my next order, which I will definitely be placing soon. So beautiful!


I’ve only ever come across one Etsy purchase that I really disliked. Most shop owners on Etsy will try to rectify an unhappy customer by remaking & resending an item or offering a discount. I find the customer service of Etsy shop owners to be above every other retailer I’ve used. Etsy is my go-to for everything beautiful. Share your awesome Etsy finds with me in the comments section! And if you have another site you love shopping for crafty goods, please share!!
*Statistics have been pulled directly from Etsy.com.
**Photo credits are from individual shop owners.