Hello. I’m Kia and I am a planner and office supply addict. I know I have a problem! I love planners, office supplies (mainly good pens) and cute office decor…and I LOVE a good notebook. My friend, who is also an addict, introduced me to May Designs (https://www.maydesigns.com/). May Designs makes personalized notebooks, as well as stationary and calendars. I LOVE their notebooks! Continue reading “Amazing Notebooks”
Being a mom who works away from the home is pretty tough. Luckily I am able to telework some days with my current position, but that still leaves a pretty long commute for me to and from work. I live in the Atlanta area and traffic can be horrible…honestly it usually is horrible. I did not really realize how bad it was until we moved and then a few months later I got a position where I was no longer able to ride the train to work. Sigh. I really struggled with the transition of starting a new position and gaining a new, very long commute. Currently my commute can range from 40 mins to over an hour. Here are a few tips that I have found to help me make it through the LONG hours in the car.
Audiobooks and podcasts
If you have not checked out either of these you’re missing out. When I rode the train to work, I always had a book with me to read while riding. When I switched to the car I realized I would have very little time to read anymore. There is little to no time to read when I am home and my commute was the time I had carved out of my busy schedule to read. I initially thought listening to audiobooks was not really reading so I held off on trying them out for a long time, but now I love them. I listen to books on the way to work and I am still able to get my “reading” completed. I usually get books from Audible, but I always check my libraries audiobooks first before making any purchases. I was so surprised on find so many of the books I wanted to read were available for FREE from my library. Make sure to check out your libraries site! I was also able to find podcasts to listen to when I did not have a book available. There are podcasts on almost every topic imaginable! Look for your favorite topics from health to fitness to celebrities to social issues. You can find anything and many of the apps to listen are FREE.
This might not seem like a big one, but I did not realize how awesome it is to have time to call friends and family with no interruptions. I work pretty early in the morning, so most of my family and friends are asleep during this time and I listen to my books or podcasts. I make most of my calls when I am driving home in the evening. I call different people on different days. Being a mom of a toddler, when I get home my son is all over me and ready to play. There is no time to call friends or family and even if there is he is making all kinds of noise in the background…LOL! My sister does the same thing and sometimes we talk while we are both commuting home. I can instantly tell when she gets home because everyone is pulling her in different directions and she usually says, “I have to go now.” The same is true for me, so I totally understand.
This might seem obvious, but maybe it is not to everyone. I rarely have quiet time at home. When I have free time I usually catch up on chores or shows I may have missed. Rarely do I just sit quietly and reflect. During this time you can think about what you need to do at work that day or when you get home. You can focus on anything that is causing you anxiety or stress or even pray. You don’t even have to do this for your full commute, but taking a few minutes before you get to work or home can really help. When you arrive at your destination, you can write down any “To Do” list items you come up with or anything you want to remember. Keep your planner or a notebook close by to jot things down when you arrive. Depending on if you have a phone with capabilities to do so (handsfree), you can also dictate things you need to do or remember so you will not forget.
GoogleMaps and Waze (or other mapping apps)
These two apps are my favorite and although they really don’t “help me get through my commute”, they definitely can make my commute shorter. If you are not using one of these apps you should start, especially in high traffic areas. Even though I know my usual route, these apps help to find the fastest way to get to my destination. They are both real time so they have helped me avoid traffic and find the best route for the shortest trip to and from work. They are both easy to use and FREE.
Finally, always remember to travel safely. All of the suggestions I have mentioned should be done when you have a hands-free device available. Do not try to navigate through these apps while driving. Set up your books, podcasts and maps before you leave so you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out your phone while you are driving.
What ideas and tips do you have to make your commute bearable?
As a mom who works outside of the home, I have learned a few tips to help my week run a little smoother. It is hard getting off to work each morning, but these few tips make my week so much easier. It is amazing to think how much time I now have in the mornings and evenings during the week since implementing this list.
So my checklist includes several simple things. My goal each weekend is to get these things done before Monday when I start work. If it is a holiday Monday, I sometimes move my list to Monday. This is my Sunday checklist.
- Meal prep: I am all about meal prepping each week. Not only does this make my morning routine quicker, it also helps me to eat healthier during the week. I prep my breakfast, lunch, and two snacks for everyday I am working outside of the home that week. I include everything needed in the meal (condiments, side items, etc.) in my meal prep, so in the morning I just grab and go with little, if any additional prep in the morning. I purposely choose meals that will last for a full week so I don’t have to worry about prepping additional food later in the week. I even prep my water bottle, since I carry a pretty big bottle and it takes a while to fill. 🙂
- Clothes: I try to pull all my outfits for the week (or at least 2-3 outfits to start the week). This might even mean washing clothes to make sure I have the items I need for that week. I have found this keeps me from having to wash during the week and in the morning I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear, which also saves time. I just grab my outfit and get ready. If you are not able to do a whole week of outfits, at least do a few days, but make sure you have an outfit ready for the next day each evening. This is a BIG time saver for me.
- Cleaning: I clean our kitchen, bathrooms, and some of the floors. I straighten up in other rooms in the house as needed. My husband helps with this as well. We try to make sure all the bathrooms and the kitchen get a good clean. Of course we also clean the kitchen during the week and the bathrooms, as needed. It just makes me feel good knowing that we are starting the week fresh and clean. 🙂 Plus, if we have any visitors or guests during the week there is less stress and worry about trying to clean things at the last minute. Having a weekly cleaning schedule really helps alleviate stress for me, plus I get to come home to a clean house.
- Change sheets, towels, etc.: I change all the bedding and towels in the house at least once a week. This kind of goes along with #3. It just helps to have a schedule for doing this so I don’t have to think when were the sheets/towels changed? I know, in general, they were changed last Sunday. This goes along with starting the week off fresh.
- Update my planner/review my calendar: This lets me know what I have ahead of me for the week. I usually try to do this before I plan my outfits for the week. I can plan my outfits according to what is going on at work that week, plus I check the weather.
- Grocery shopping: I do this before I meal prep, but this also helps so that we don’t have to run to the store in the middle of the week when we are both tired. Occasionally, something is forgotten and a trip to the store is needed, but this cuts back on those trips by quite a bit.
- Family meeting: I will elaborate on this more in a later post, but a family meeting can help your family get on the same page before the week begins.
- Other items: Depending on your commute and your family, you should prep any items you know you need for the week. So if you have a long commute each week, you should make sure you have a full tank of gas. That is one less thing to think about during the week. If you have school aged kids, you should help them prep their book bags, clothes, and lunches for the week. Similar to the prep you do for yourself, do it for your kids as well. That way there is little thought for them in the morning either and this will help everyone’s morning run smoother. Look for any items you might need for the week on Sunday night. I HATE when I can’t find an item I am looking for on Monday morning. I run around like a crazy person trying to find it and then I end up leaving the house later than planned. It throws off my whole morning. As much as possible, I try to prevent this by pulling out items I know I will need for the week and planning ahead either on Sunday or the night before during the week.
All of these items do not have to occur on Sunday. Sometimes if I have a busy Saturday or just want to relax on Saturday, they will all be done on Sunday (it is possible). It really just depends on how my weekend is going. Saturday is usually our family day, so we try to focus more on doing things with our family and getting out of the house, so most Sundays this is my checklist. If I am exhausted, traveling, or have a busy Sunday, some items might not get done, but this is my goal checklist and I try to do what I can and prioritize other items for later in the week.
What items do you include on your checklist that help you have a better week?
I LOVE PLANNERS! I have loved them since I was in middle school. They were much more simple back then. Now, there are so many options. I have tried a few and decided to do a review of three of the last planners I have used. I think each of these planners are great for certain features they offer, but they are all a little different.
First up is the Erin Condren LifePlanner. I used this planner for several years. I think the best way to define the LifePlanner is fun. It is very customizable, which is not offered by most planners. You can choose a custom cover for your planner or one of the pre-designed covers. You can also customize the inside of your planner as well. There are so many options! This planner also includes stickers to use in your planner for events throughout the year. I felt this planner was a little more casual than others which was the reason I wanted to try other planners. I loved all the features of the Erin Condren, but as I got older and was taking my planner to meetings at work, I felt I needed something a little more formal.
So here is a breakdown –
- Very customizable
- Free stickers
- Fun & colorful
- Pockets & zipper pouch to hold extra items
- Lots of extra blank pages
- Casual look (not as professional)
- Large size (depends on your preference)
- Price (but along the lines of other planners on the market)
Next, is the Passion Planner. The Passion Planner is a newer planner with an awesome purpose. First, they are a get one, give one company. Similar to TOMS, when you buy a planner they give one away. The Passion Planner is the ultimate goal setting planner. This planner includes monthly reflections which include pages to look back over the previous month to see if you have reached your goals for the previous month. It also helps you to focus at the beginning of each month on what you need to do to move towards your goals. This planner is not very customizable, but does offer different color covers. It is very simple (black and white) on the inside. They also offer the option to download a planner on their site for FREE, so you can test it out. This planner comes in two sizes. I LOVED the goal setting included in this planner, but I did not like the weekly format (I prefer a daily format).
- GOAL SETTING
- Price tag! (This is one of the cheapest planners I have purchased)
- Smaller size (great to fit in my purse – not too bulky)
- Small pocket in the back
- Lots of blank pages in the back for planning
- Professional look
- No customization
- Plain covers (mostly)
Finally, my current planner is the Day Designer. This planner has a very simple design to it. The pages are black and white, but it offers a daily format, which I love. Each day includes a small space for notes and daily gratitude. It also includes space for a daily to-do list which is one of the reasons I love daily planners. I usually have a lot to do in one day and the daily format allows me to fit everything and plan what I will do each day. This planner does not include as much extra space for note taking, which I miss from my other planners. They offer a few different covers, which allows you to customize your planner to some extent. This planner comes in two sizes (I have the smaller size). It also has a small pocket in the front.
- Some goal setting at the beginning
- Daily option
- Simple inside
- Professional look
- Cover choices
- Price (but similar to other planners on the market)
- Few blank pages for notes
What is your favorite planner?
Recently my son turned 3 years old and we decided it was time for him to move to a big boy room. We were hoping the room would get him excited about moving out of the old room to make way for our new baby. We have a new baby coming this Spring and we needed to move my son down the hall. So, for his birthday we decided to give him a room makeover! We used a lot of items that we already had and bought the rest from IKEA or Amazon.
We already had a twin bed, dresser, and nightstand (these were mine as a child) plus a few other items we used for decor. So the picture above shows many of the items we purchased from IKEA (I know it looks like a mess!).
We decided to do a Lion Guard themed room since that is my son’s favorite show right now. He got a Lion Guard bedding set from my parents for his birthday, plus my husband found some great wall appliques on Amazon.
Here is the finished product:
His bed with the appliques on the wall. He already had Kion and Simba stuffed animals. Plus we had a green throw to add to the bed and the lamp (from IKEA) for the night stand.
All of the bins were from the Dollar Tree. I love their bins! They have so many colors and, of course, everything is a dollar. 🙂
The shelf ($34.99, but we purchased during a sale) for his books and toys is from IKEA and so are the tables ($7.99) I used to make a train/play table. To hold his books that are on the wall, we used IKEA spice racks ($3.99)! We got his stool ($7.99) and stool cushion ($4.99) from IKEA as well. We already had the car track rug and tent (both from IKEA).
The rocking chair was a hand-me-down from my mother.
I added a number and alphabet banner to the wall, which we already had (purchased from the Target Bullseye Playground). The lamp on his dresser is also from IKEA and was in his old room. We added a few of his toys around the room because we were hoping he would want to play in his room more often. We are thinking that when the baby arrives we might need to spend more time upstairs and we wanted him to actually want to be in his room.
He LOVED the room and slept in it the first night. Since our son is an early riser, we have discovered that he will even play in his room by himself in the morning until we get up and dressed. He never wanted to do that before and always wanted to come watch TV in our room.
I am so happy with how the room turned out! My son said “I LOVE my new room” and he walked down the hall and said “That’s the baby room now” to his old room. It all worked out perfectly! 🙂
I have been looking for the best jeans for my kids that are cost effective yet durable since my kids play hard. After searching high and low I have ranked the best jeans for your money.
- The Children’s Place – they have jeans that are $7.99 pretty much every day of the week. They claim it is a “sale” price yet the sale never ends. They have skinny, straight and bootcut pants options which are good for kids of all sizes. My son is very skinny and the slim jeans fit him rather nicely. They aren’t too tight and they aren’t too baggy. For the price of $7.99 it can’t be beat.
- H&M – if you have an H&M near you they are the 2nd best option. They provide the slim look that all the kids are crazy about these days and they are only $9.99.
- Old Navy – everyone pretty much has an Old Navy close to them. The sale price of their jeans typically falls right around $10 but you must catch them at the right times. Like The Children’s Place, they offer the different styles that will fit your kid just right.
- Crazy 8 – what I like about them is their Rockstar jeans. They have the perfect fit to them and my son looked absolutely amazing in them, he even won best dressed at his football banquet when having them on. What puts them at number 4 is only because of the higher price of $12 which isn’t really even high at all.
For my parents with kids out of the child sizing (5-14) I believe one of the top stores for girls is Forever 21. They have skinny jeans that come in at the low low price of $7.99. You aren’t going to find that price for adult jeans anywhere. For those with the older boys, I will have to recommend Old Navy as they tend to have more sales than most places and the jeans are offered in multiple styles. If your child likes the distressed look you can also easily YouTube how to do it yourself so you aren’t paying an arm and a leg.
Happy Shopping 🙂
I have been fasting with my church for a month and haven’t been able to eat most things except fruits, vegetables, and fish. I had to find ways to get creative with vegetables so that I could switch up the things I was able to eat every day. The vegetable I found to be most unique and easy to transform into different things was cauliflower. I think I am in love lol ❤ Continue reading “The week I fell in love with cauliflower”
I wrote previously about my natural hair routine, but I also promised to post about different styles I wear after doing this routine. Here is a list of a few of my usual styles. I usually can make my twist out style last for at least two weeks (or longer if I really need to make it last). Of course, all of these styles will not fit everyone since we all have different hair lengthens. I still hope you can give some of these easy styles a try.
When I left off in my last post my hair was twisted and in a Slap Cap.
So for a day or two I wore a twisted bun. Basically I do two flat twists with my already twisted hair and make a bun at the back. This style is quick and is something you can wear to work as well.
I also flat twisted my hair and wore it in a higher bun.
Another style is a regular bun to the back. This is very simple and I just pull my twists to the back into a ponytail. Then I form a bun from the ponytail.
Next, I untwisted my hair and wore is down for a few days. I can usually wear my hair like this for 3 – 4 days before it starts to frizz.
Once my hair starts to look a little frizzy I will try some updos. This one is a flat twist in the front that goes to a high ponytail.
Another simple style is a high ponytail and I use a little edge control gel, if my edges are frizzy.
My final simple style is a high bun. I use a little edge control for this style as well.
Once I make it to the weekend, I usually wash my hair and start my routine again.
Each night I pineapple (tie on the top of my head, similar to a high, loose ponytail) my hair with a silk tie and then cover it with my Slap Cap.
What are some ways you make your natural hair last? What styles have you tried?
I often get asked about my natural hair routine when I am out or from friends. I have been natural since 2009 and I have tried MANY natural hair products. Some I liked more than others and some were more expensive than others. The main things I look for in my natural hair products is that they are easy for me to use, work well on my hair, are not too expensive, and create a style that will last for a week or more.
For a little over a year, I have been using the Pantene Truly Natural Hair line of products. I rarely hear anyone talk about these products, but a friend at work recommended giving them a try. Since the price was very reasonable, I figured there was nothing to lose. They worked great on my hair for wash and go’s and twist outs! I was told, at some point, that for wash and go’s a good product for your hair will give you the same curl pattern that you see when your hair is wet and has conditioner on it. Products will not create a curl pattern that does not already exists unless you add twists or braids or do some sort of manipulation to your hair. This product holds my curl pattern and even with a little shrinkage, my style will hold for most of the week.
So here is my typical hair routine:
I start in the shower and wash my hair with either the Pantene Naturals Shampoo or Co-Wash. I use the Co-wash most weeks, but I shampoo about once a month. I shampoo more often in the summer, depending on my activities, and if I am working out a lot I will also shampoo more often. I make sure to rinse all the shampoo/co-wash from my hair before moving on to the conditioner. I section my hair into 4 parts and I use hair clips to hold the sections. I work the conditioner through my hair section by section. I comb each section from end to root with a detangling comb. After each section is detangled I wash out the conditioner, section by section. I keep my hair in the four sections and get out of the shower to continue my routine.
Next I use the LOC method, which is Leave-In conditioner, Oil, and Cream. For my leave-in, I use Carol’s Daughter Leave-In (Sacred Tiare). I use the Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Pure Hair Oil for my oil and I use the Pantene Natural Defining Curls Styling Custard for my cream. I usually start in the back and split one section in half. I spray with the leave-in and follow up with the oil trying to get it mostly at the root of my hair. I apply the custard next. I run the custard through my hair with my fingers and detangle a little if needed with my fingers. If the ends are really tangled (this only usually happens when I need a trim) then I use a Denman brush to detangle the ends. I try not to brush or comb my hair too much though. I find this makes it frizz more. Based on the thickness of your hair you can divide it again for your twists or to run the custard through your hair. I usually twist my hair because I will wear it twisted for about a week and then remove the twists and wear it loose for another week or so. I do this process over my entire head. In the front I usually do a part to one side and I try to make my twists a little more neat.
Once my hair is all twisted I usually wear my Slap Cap (http://www.satinlinedcaps.com/) the first day since my hair’s still wet and you see the product on your hair for a few hours. This entire process usually takes me about 1 hour or so…a little bit longer if I am trying to make all my twists very neat and parting my hair with a comb (usually I part with my fingers and grab the hair). It is a little bit shorter if I am doing a wash and go with no twists. You can also do twists to stretch your hair a little bit, and then untwist your hair while it is still damp. This will stretch your hair a little bit, but show a little more of your curl pattern.
I will write another post about the different styles I wear throughout the week to extend this style.
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, who is now 3, I decided I wanted to do cloth diapers. I have been asked by multiple people about my decision to use cloth diapers. Initially when I told people that my husband and I planned to use cloth diapers people thought we were crazy. We were asked why and told that we would probably give up on it, but we used cloth diapers up until my son began potty training. I also plan to reuse my diapers with my second child.
Here are a few of my tips and lessons learned…
I decided I wanted to use cloth diapers mostly because I try to live a green lifestyle and I knew they could save us money in the long run. Once we found out we were pregnant I told my husband I would like to try cloth diapers…he was not on board initially. I think most people picture the old school cloth diapers (that many people now use as burp clothes) with pins and rubber pants. Cloth diapers have come a LONG way. I showed my husband the new cloth diapers and explained how they worked, then he agreed to give them a try. I began researching cloth diapers and spoke to a friend that had tried out several diapers to see what she recommended. We decided on the bumGenius Freetime All-in-one One-size cloth diaper. I picked these because I thought they would be the easiest to use, although they are more expensive than other diapers with inserts. The Freetime diapers are one-size, so they fit babies weighing 8 – 35 lbs and they are considered all-in-one because there are no inserts to use or extra pieces. They also come in a lot of cool colors!
Some of my tips are:
1) Be prepared if your baby is not 8 lbs at birth. Our son was not so we decided to use disposable diapers until he could fit the cloth diapers. It took about 2-3 weeks. Some people choose to buy the newborn size, which is also an option if you don’t want to use disposable diapers at all.
2) GET A DIAPER SPRAYER! I had never heard of these until my friend told me. bumGenius makes a great one that I use. You use a diaper sprayer to clean the diapers over the toilet so you don’t have to dunk your diapers in the toilet to clean poop. The sprayer works kind of like the sprayer that is on your sink. It is great for infant diapers since there poop can’t really be caught with diaper liners. Diaper liners can be used once the baby begins eating solid food. Then you can toss the poop and liner in the toilet and flush. I used Baby Sydie Liners (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HV6GXS4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).
3) The sun can remove almost any stain or dinginess from your diapers. I read this online and didn’t believe it. After you wash your diapers there are stains sometimes, even though they are clean…similar to a clothing stain that won’t come out. If you lay your diapers in the sun (inside or outside) to dry the stains will come out. I typically dry my diapers outside on nice days because they dry quicker. I have been able to remove all of my stains so far just using sunlight. You can also spray a little lemon juice on stubborn stains.
4) Depending on the diaper you choose, you can’t use regular detergent. You can make your own diaper detergent. I found a diaper detergent recipe online that I liked. Of course, you can always buy detergent from the bumGenius or other cloth diaper brands. I also tried Nellie’s Laundry Soda (https://www.amazon.com/Nellies-NLS-50-Natural-Laundry-Soda/dp/B001BYBHHE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483490973&sr=8-2&keywords=nellies+laundry+soda). I started using this when I didn’t want to continue to make detergent. For really stubborn stains on diapers (or my son’s clothes), I used the Buncha Farmers Natural Stain Remover Stick (https://www.amazon.com/BUNCHA-FARMERS-NATURAL-BIODEGRADABLE-REMOVER/dp/B00CBSMXNQ). This stick is great on ALL stains, so I recommend it even if you are not cloth diapering. I was able to get almost all stains out of my son’s clothes.
5) Purchase a few wet bags to store your diapers until they are ready to wash. I purchased one large wet bag and two smaller ones to send to daycare and to use around the house. My grandmother also made me two smaller ones that I have been keeping in the diaper bag. It turned out that my son’s daycare didn’t use the wetbags and would just put the diapers in a plastic grocery bag, so two smaller bags might not be necessary.
6) As your child gets older, consider additional inserts for night time diaper use. I used Thirsties Hemp Inserts (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002FB7FLY/ref=pe_385040_188349810_pd_te_s_rp_ti/189-4948380-3194815). They worked great as my son got older and was wetting more at night.
7) Look for sales! As I said above, cloth diapers are expensive, but they are cheaper in the long run…especially if you use them for more than one child. I was able to get all my diapers when they were on sale through the Cottonbabies site and Target. You could also include the diapers on your baby registry if you are having a shower.
Some other items you will need are a drying rack or clothes line and clothes pins.
You will usually wash diapers every 2 – 3 days depending on the number of diapers you have and how many your child uses in a day. I have 24 diapers and I usually wash every 3 days. You probably don’t want to keep diapers dirty much longer than that because it is not good for the diapers. You could also consider a diaper service which is an additional cost (could include on your registry as well) if you did not want to wash.
My son was so cute in his cloth diapers!!
If you have any cloth diapering questions or experiences, please share!