2018 Inkwell Press Planner GIVEAWAY

Congratulations to ALove4Me and Sarah from Minnesota on winning the 2018 Inkwell Press Planner GIVEAWAY!!

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Hey everyone! It's time for another GIVEAWAY! Back when the new 2018 Inkwell Press products launched in September I bought a few different planners. First, because I wasn't completely sure which one I wanted to use and secondly, so I could get a closer look at some of their amazing new products. After looking through the different planners I ended up choosing the coil-free Classic version for myself and that leaves me with these two planners to give away to a couple lucky winners.

Here's what you could win....the Coil-Free liveWELL Planner in the Flex version along with some Inkwell Press stickers or the Coil-Free Daily liveWELL planner. If you want a closer look inside these planners check out my video titled “2018 Inkwell Press Planner Unboxing & Flip-Through.” 

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow the prompts in the Gleam widget. The only requirement is you must be subscribed to my YouTube channel, but you can earn additional entries into the contest by visiting some of my other social media sites. The contest starts on Wednesday, October 11th and will run through 11:59PM (Central Time) on Tuesday, October 17th. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the United States. Winners will be notified via e-mail after the contest has ended and must respond within 48 hours to receive their prize or new winners will be chosen.

If you have a preference for which planner you receive if your name is drawn, please let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to share this contest with friends and family who you think might be interested in winning a planner.

Good luck to everyone who enters and as always thanks for supporting my channel!

Check Out My New Cocoa Paper ANGEL Planner Cover!

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After a few weeks of pondering I finally decided on my planner for 2018....the Inkwell Press Coil-Free Classic. At first it never occurred to me to get a cover for my planner, but then some people in one of the Inkwell Press Facebook groups I am in started talking about different planner covers. The one mentioned most often was the Levenger Softolio 2.0 (Junior) and I immediately fell in love with it. The problem was it was SUPER expensive and I didn't really care for the color options. Then people started talking about some other options for planner covers and I ended up checking out Cocoa Paper. It seemed like a really great company and I loved their color selection and more importantly their price. It was less than half of the cost of the Levenger!!!

So...I placed my order for the Cocoa Paper ANGEL Planner Cover in Gray and a few short weeks later it arrived! My 2018 planner fits perfectly in it! Actually, my current 2017 Coil-Bound Planner fits in it too and I LOVE it!

Check out the video below to see my Cocoa Paper Unboxing and to get a closer look at my new planner accessory.

Thanks for watching!

Recipe of the Month: Lasagna Pizza Casserole

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I love this easy-to-make, family-pleasing recipe! The best part is you can make it ahead of time, put it in the fridge (or freezer), and cook it when you need it!

Here's the recipe:

LASAGNA PIZZA CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                                    

  • 1- 16oz package of egg noodles, cooked
  • 1 pound hamburger, browned
  • 1 jar (32 oz.) pasta sauce
  • 1- 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I usually use a bit less)
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • basil to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook the egg noodles and set aside.
  2. Brown hamburger.
  3. Add pasta sauce, tomato sauce, sugar, oregano, basil and 1 1/2 cups cheese to the hamburger.
  4. Grease 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Put in half of the noodles then top with half of the hamburger/sauce mixture.
  6. Add another layer of noodles and another layer of sauce.
  7. Put the rest of the cheese on top and sprinkle with desired amount of Italian seasoning.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, COVERED!
  9. Remove cover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or simple turn the over to broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese a bit.

ENJOY!!!                                                                             

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October Mission Board (and September Recap)

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My main goal for September was to find a good work/life balance. I'm a teacher and I knew going back to school was going to be difficult. I haven't quite achieved the perfect balance yet between school work, time with my family, and time for myself, but I'm going to keep working on it!

Before I set goals for the next month, let's take a look at how I did meeting my goals for September.

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With school starting I decided to focus on two HEALTH goals that would hopefully keep me from getting sick which tends to happen at the beginning of every school year. First, I needed to make sure got at least 8 cups of water a day, if not a whole lot more! I also needed to get back to going to bed earlier and make sure I'm getting enough sleep. Except for a few days here and there I definitely got in my water. I LOVE having a water bottle refilling station right outside my classroom door! My sleep goal was 7+ hours a night. This one was a bit more challenging, but mostly because of my kids....who kept waking me up ("I can't find my stuffed animal." "I need lotion." "Can you help straighten my blankets."). Once again though, I did manage to meet my sleep goals most of the time.

I also had two HOME goals for this month. I wanted to get out my fall decorations and go through my clothes and do a bit of purging. Check and check!

My goal for ME TIME this month was to take full advantage of the time my boys were in school and I was home in the mornings to help me get back on track fitness-wise. I started out great the first week and even tried jogging a couple times for the first time since my back injury back in July! Then I got stuck in a rut of doing other things in the morning...housework, getting my car fixed (multiple times), volunteering, going to school early to get work done, shopping, etc. I did a better job this last week again of getting in some good workouts, but I definitely don't think I fully met this goal.

FINANCIAL-  I wanted to set up an appointment with our financial adviser and increase the amount of money we are putting into our Roth IRAs every month since we are no longer paying for daycare expenses. Done!

My FOOD goal for September was to get back on track and make sure I was counting every calorie using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. No more sad faces in my planner! Um....I'm pretty sure I still had lots of days I didn't calculate my calories. Boo!

This month I had two BE SOCIAL goals....date night and girls' night! The girls' night was a success! Date night...ugh! Once again our baby-sitter had to cancel, so we're hoping to reschedule soon, but as of now it still hasn't happened.

Finally, my FITNESS goals...I was going to continue to do the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily. Then as I said for my ME TIME goal I was going to workout three mornings a week. This month was not a good one for meeting goals...I did not do these regularly either!

I guess I better work a little harder to meet my goals for October, so let's take a look at what they are!

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First up, HEALTH goals....no changes here! These goals have been working for me and I'm staying healthy so once again I'm aiming for 8+ cups of water a day and 7+ hours of sleep a night.

HOME- It's time to clean up the yard and put away the toys and patio furniture before the snow starts to fly!

I've got a couple ME TIME goals this month. First, I'm going to go back to a goal from earlier this year that I wasn't able to complete because of my back injury. I'm going practice piano and schedule a day to play at church. Second, I need a pedicure...bad! 

My FINANCIAL goal for October is going to be to start setting up my 2018 Budget Planner in the Erin Condren Deluxe Monthly Planner I bought a couple months ago. I wish I couple be putting more money into our mortgage or savings accounts like other months, but realistically we'll be paying for my car repairs and won't have the "extra" money to do that anyway.

FITNESS is one area I definitely need to improve this month since I struggled quite a bit here in September. Once again I'll be doing the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily and trying to get in three good cardio workouts a week. I'm also going to add some hand weights back into my daily routine.

BE SOCIAL- Another girls' night! Only this time I'm working on planning a get together with some girls I haven't seen in a LONG time.

Finally, my FOOD goals for October are to make healthier lunches and eat out less!

Since I have not been losing much weight lately...basically I've been maintaining for months I decided to add a weight goal again this month. I don't have a lot left to lose to get to my ultimate weight goal, but for this month I'd like to try to lose about a pound a week. That makes my weight goal for the month 148 pounds!

That's it for the month of October! No DREAM BIG goal again this month. I wanted to use another one of the cute, decorative stickers instead. :)

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great month!

Quarterly Goals Check-In

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Can you believe there are just three months left of 2017? I can't! Last year I don't think I ever looked back at my yearly goals and mission page and I certainly never filled in the quarterly break down page. So this year I am making a point to look back at my yearly goals page and fill in some ways to help me achieve my goals quarterly. I love how my Inkwell Press planner is designed to help me succeed!

Here are the six things I can do over the next three months to continue to help me meet my yearly goals.

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Check out the video below for a more in-depth look at how I came up with this goals!

Thanks for watching!

2018 Inkwell Press Unboxing & Flip-Through

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Check out what I got in the 2018 Inkwell Press Planner launch! Get a closer look inside the planners and hear my first impressions of these new products from Inkwell Press.

To receive $10 off  your first purchase of $50 or more: http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uJ1K4xEHFAwP

September Mission Board (and August Recap)

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Well...August was definitely MUCH better than July! We started the month spending a fabulous week at a resort in northern Minnesota with my entire family. The weather was great! The kids had a blast! And best of all, my back finally started to get better!

So, let's take a quick look and see how I did at meeting my goals for the month of August.

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First up...HEALTH. I was aiming for 8+ cups of water every day again this month and I did a pretty good job. Once again, I failed to use the habit trackers, but if I flip through each week I can see that most of my water drops are filled in. Yeah me!

ME TIME- I finished my book that I started in July at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately, I never even opened up another book. Big fat fail!

My HOME goal for August was to go through my boys clothes and make sure they have everything they need for the new school year. I also removed anything that doesn't fit anymore and either stored it away for my youngest to use or donated/sold the things neither of them will be able to use. If you're interested in seeing my process for this I will link my video on Kids Clothing Organization.

August's FINANCIAL goal was a little different. Instead of putting any extra money towards our mortgage, we put any extra income into our boys savings accounts.

For my BE SOCIAL goal I looked back at my yearly goals page and remembered I wanted to work on "dating" my husband, so I contacted our baby-sitter and we have a couple date nights scheduled for the next couple months. Yeah!

FOOD- This month was full of birthday celebrations. My youngest son turned six and I turned the big 4-0!!! We also had a number of other family birthdays we celebrated, so my FOOD goal was to enjoy the birthdays, but don't go too crazy! Honestly, I could have done a little bit better with this, but at least rather than wasting calories on plain, old cake that I don't really like....I got a delicious Dairy Queen ice cream cake for my birthday!

My last goals were FITNESS related. I wanted to do a daily routine that would help strengthen my back and core. I had planned on doing the "5 Low-Impact Moves to Strengthen Your Back and Core" from the Advanced Pain Management website, but after my third trip to the hospital the doctor figured out the source of my pain was likely my SI Joint and recommended I try these exercises instead:  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises.

My other FITNESS goal was step-related and was inspired by one of my subscribers who for her 40th birthday set the goal to get 40,000 steps. Weather was not my friend the week of my 40th birthday which made it extremely difficult to get 40,000 steps. I tried again the following week with no success. It's hard, people! 

Now onto September....WAIT! What? How in the world is it September already? Didn't I just get my 2017 Inkwell Press planner? Speaking of Inkwell Press...will you be buying something in the launch on September 6th? I will definitely be buying something, actually I may buy a few things because I'm not quite sure what I want to use in 2018 yet!

Anyways...let's not worry too much about 2018 yet. Time to think about September!

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With school starting it's time to focus on the two HEALTH goals that will hopefully keep me from getting sick which tends to happen at the beginning of every school year. First, I need to make sure I continue to get at least 8 cups of water a day, if not a whole lot more! I also need to get back to going to bed earlier and make sure I'm getting enough sleep, so I will be using my FitBit to track how many hours I sleep each night. My goal is to get at least 7+ hours every night.

I also have two HOME goals for this month. I want to get out my fall decorations. I probably won't do this right away at the beginning of the month, but I want to make sure I have everything put out before October is here. My second HOME goal is to go through my clothes and do a bit of purging. I got my boys' closets cleaned out last month....now it's my turn!

Both my boys will be in school full-time this year! I can hardly believe it, but my baby will be in all day kindergarten and my oldest is starting second grade. I had the option to go back to teaching full-time this year, but decided to stay part-time for now. I LOVE being able to get my boys off to school in the morning as well as have the flexibility to volunteer in their classrooms or get them to appointments without having to take time off work. I am also really excited about the opportunity this will give me for some more ME TIME. I mean really most days from 9-11:30 (when I leave for work) will be ME TIME. Yipppeeee!!! But seriously, my goal for ME TIME this month is to take full advantage of that time to help me get back on track fitness-wise. I am still not completely sure my back can handle jogging, but I may give it a try sometime. My goal is for three mornings to get in a good workout...a long walk, cardio of some kind, abs, hand weights, etc. The other two mornings will be me time to take care of house hold things like laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Then I can have evenings and weekends to spend quality time with my boys.

FINANCIAL- This goal also stems from my youngest starting kindergarten. We will no longer have to pay for daycare/preschool. Yipppeeee again! Before we get too used to having that extra money I want to set up an appointment with our financial adviser and increase the amount of money we are putting into our Roth IRAs every month.

I have been absolutely terrible with eating lately! My FOOD goal for September is to get back on track and make sure I am counting every calorie using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. No more sad faces in my planner!

This month I have two BE SOCIAL goals....date night and girls' night!

Finally, my FITNESS goals...I am going to continue to do the  7 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises daily. Then as I said for my ME TIME goal I am going to workout three mornings a week. What kind of exercise I do will depend on my back and the weather. It may be a long walk or a workout video or a simple hand weight and ab routine. I'm hoping to at least give jogging a try again, but I'm very cautious about that. So I'm leaving this goal kind of open and just saying three workouts a week.

That's it for the month of September! No DREAM BIG goal again this month. I wanted to use another one of the cute, decorative stickers instead. :)

Thanks for reading! Hope you have a great month!

Fun Kids Lunch Idea: People Sandwiches

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I made "People Sandwiches" when I was a kid and have enjoyed sharing this fun lunch idea with my own boys. Best of all....they LOVE getting to make their own sandwich and usually eat a few more fruits of veggies because of it!

Check out how we make "People Sandwiches" in the video below:

Thanks for watching!

Back to School: Lunch Making Supplies

Although this blog and my YouTube channel are mostly about using my Inkwell Press planner and my weight loss journey, my most popular video is called Making Easy, Healthy, and Fun Lunches (Allergy-Friendly too!) | Yumbox Lunch Ideas. It has more than 24,000 views!!! I made it in April of 2016 shortly after starting my channel, so the quality is pretty terrible, but apparently other people have been searching for school lunch ideas just like I did when my oldest was getting ready to start kindergarten. Since my youngest will be starting kindergarten this year I thought it was a good time to update you on my favorite lunch making supplies before the start of the new school year!

So back in the summer of 2015 before my oldest was starting kindergarten and my youngest was going to attend 3 days of all-day preschool I started researching lunch boxes, different foods, and other creative lunch ideas. I knew I wanted my boys to have healthy lunch options beyond the hot lunch provided by the schools. This was especially important since I knew getting my picky 4 year old with multiple food allergies to eat healthy away from home was going to be a HUGE challenge!

The first thing I found in my research was different bento lunch boxes. If you're not familiar with bento lunches, look it up on good ol' Google and you'll find hundreds of different kinds. It was overwhelming! I kept coming across great reviews for Yumbox and decided to buy one and try it out for awhile. After a couple summer picnics with it I quickly purchased two more and started looking for a lunch bag that would work with it. The Wildkin Double Decker Lunch Bags worked perfectly! The Yumbox fit in the bottom section and could even lay flat. I also found some nice flat ice packs that could fit in there too and keep their lunches cool. The top section of the Wildkin bags works great for a drink, snacks, or anything else you might need to pack. To help get my boys excited about eating lunch at school and their new lunch boxes I let them pick out the colors for both their Yumbox and lunch bag. I also purchased an additional Yumbox to have on hand in case one was dirty. Since then I have purchased one more Yumbox, so we now have four total. With my youngest attending school every day this year and needing a cold lunch due to his food allergies, I will probably be purchasing a couple more!

Next I started looking for things to help make the boys lunches a little more fun and interesting. Since my youngest is already super picky I hoped that making the food look good would encourage him to actually eat it. Lots of the bento lunches I found on Pinterest and around the internet showed food cut into shapes, so I started looking for cookie cutters at garage sales, thrift stores, and online. Many of the cutters I bought at the beginning are dirty and rusty now, but these Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters and another set I found from Pampered Chef still look like new in April and I even run them through the dishwasher!

I also bought these Silicone Baking Cups that could be used to divide the Yumbox into even more sections. This is perfect for giving my boys lots of different healthy options to choose from. Sometimes I pack foods that I suspect my boys won't eat (like healthy vegetables!), but I try to pack a variety of foods for them so I know they'll never be hungry....and who knows? Maybe someday they actually will try a bit of those peppers and cucumbers!

The last lunch supply I would like to recommend is this Nalgene Kids OTF Bottle.  It gets jostled around in their lunch bag, lays on it side, and still doesn't leak! 

It's been two years (that's two full school years people!!!) since I purchased all these items and I can say that except for a few of the rusty and dirty cookie cutters I bought from garage sales or thrift stores every other thing I bought to use in the boys lunches is still working great!

I will leave pictures and links to the items below. (Full disclaimer- These are affiliate links so I may be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase.) You can also check out my YouTube video linked below for a closer look at my favorite lunch making supplies.

 

 

August Mission Board (and July Recap)

Well...July didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped and my summer plans have definitely changed thanks to a back injury that sent me to the hospital mid-month, but that won't stop me from setting new goals for August. First though let's take a look back at my July Mission Board and see how I did at meeting those goals.

This month's ME TIME goals were to read and finally use the teeth whitening kit I bought months ago. I did do some reading this month, but not nearly as much as I did in June AND I totally forgot to mark the days I read on the habit tracker page. In fact, I never turned back to the habit tracker page this month so no use in wasting stickers and trying to figure out when I did read or the other goals either. I did use my teeth whitening kit. It was a generic one from Target that honestly didn't work very well, so I won't be buying one of those again anytime soon. I'll stick with the Crest White Strips instead!

My HEALTH goal was once again to drink 8+ cups of water a day which I did quite well at except for one fateful day....the day my back injury occurred. My doctor actually believes the injury occurred because I was dehydrated and my back muscles were weakened because of it. It was a super hot and humid day and I went for a jog with the boys AND mowed the lawn and probably didn't drink nearly enough water. It was also our anniversary, so after mowing the lawn (and getting cleaned up) we headed to the Melting Pot where I drank wine instead of water and sat in a slightly uncomfortable booth for a long meal. It was at the end of that dinner where I discovered I couldn't stand up straight and my back REALLY hurt. I ended up in the emergency room the next day where once again the nurse commented on how dehydrated I was. Since then I've been drinking water like it's going out of style because I will do everything I can to never feel pain like that again!

My HOME goal for July was to finally put our three season porch back together after removing all the furniture, draperies, and carpet to have new carpet put in. Once the new carpet was in I wasted no time getting everything put back together and we've been enjoying the porch ever since!

BE SOCIAL- My social goal was to schedule more play dates and get a Mom's Night Out on the calendar. We had five play dates this past month and have even more scheduled for August! I also had a fabulous Mom's Night Out with my music teacher colleagues just last week!

July's FINANCIAL goal was to eat our freezer food first. This goal is always successful and eye-opening. Our grocery bills were noticeably smaller each week and we enjoyed lots of good grilled meats that I had stored away in the freezer. 

My FOOD goal for July was to track everything! Admittedly I didn't quite follow through with this one. I had at least one day each week where I wrote a sad face in my planner instead of calculating the calories for my really bad days. Shame on me!

DREAM BIG- This one stayed the same again and we were able to put a little bit more money towards our mortgage. Still hoping we can get rid of our PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)!

I had three FITNESS goals this month. Unfortunately, my back trouble kept me from meeting two of them. I am still not able to do any intense cardio workouts, especially my favorite walk/jogs with my boys. I also stopped doing my daily hand weight and squat routine so my back could properly heal. I am hoping to do a core/back strengthening workout for my daily routine in August to help in my recovery. My other FITNESS goal was to get 13,000 steps a day. There were certainly quite a few days there where I didn't even come close to that right after my injury, but after about a week I was able to move more and have actually discovered that walking helps my back feel better. I haven't been getting 13,000 steps every day but I decided I'm close enough considering the situation so I'm checking that goal off!

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL...obviously between the week I spent laid up and the steroids I was on this one was tricky to meet, but I'm hoping to get back on track soon!

Now onto my August goals......

First up...HEALTH. No change here! I will aiming for 8+ cups of water every day again. Must stay hydrated!!!

ME TIME- This one is going to stay the same as well. I need to read at least one or two more books before summer is over! Any recommendations?

With the new school year quickly approaching my HOME goal is to go through my boys clothes and make sure they have everything they need. I will also remove anything that doesn't fit anymore and either store it away for my youngest to use or donate/sell the things neither of them will be able to use. If you're interested in seeing my process for this I will link my video on Kids Clothing Organization.

This month's FINANCIAL goal will be a little different. Instead of putting any extra money towards our mortgage, we will be putting any extra income into our boys savings accounts.

For my BE SOCIAL goal I looked back at my yearly goals page and remembered I wanted to work on "dating" my husband, so I'd like to try to remember to leave him cutesy notes or other things like that and schedule another actual date night out since our last one (our anniversary) didn't end so well!

FOOD- This month will be full of birthday celebrations. My youngest son is turning six and I will be turning forty!!! We also have a number of other family birthdays we will be celebrating, so my FOOD goal is to enjoy the birthdays, but don't go too crazy!

I will not be writing a DREAM BIG goal this month, so my last goals are FITNESS related. First, as I mentioned earlier I want to do a daily routine that will help strengthen my back and core, so I will be doing the "5 Low-Impact Moves to Strengthen Your Back and Core" from the Advanced Pain Management website. I plan to do these exercises Monday through Saturday and use Sunday as a rest day. I will not be doing my usual three cardio workouts this month until I feel my back is strong enough again, but I do plan to get in LOTS of walk and LOTS of steps. My other FITNESS goal is step-related and was inspired by one of my subscribers who has become a "step friend" and huge motivator for me the past few months. For her 40th birthday she set the goal for herself to get 40,000 steps. While that seems a little crazy to me right now since I am still in a bit of pain I know walking is great and I have been wanting to try that 40th birthday challenge every since she told me about it, so.....on August 17th or maybe a day close to it if we end up super busy that day I want to get 40,000 steps! 

That's all for August! The last month of summer will fly by and I intend to enjoy it!

Thanks for reading!

Repost: Kids Summer Activity- Dollar Store Treasure Hunt

I originally posted this video and blog last summer, but since I'm out of commission with a bad back this week I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to repost this fun and easy summer activity for kids who might be starting to get a bit bored with summer vacation. ENJOY!

It's the middle of July and I'm starting to hear my boys say things like "I'm bored" and "There's nothing to do." Now we all know that's not true, but this week I decided to try something new and give them an activity that would keep them busy for awhile and make them work together too!

I started by visiting my local Dollar Tree store and getting some items to fill their "treasure buckets." I intended to buy just a few items for each of them, but if you've ever shopped at the Dollar Tree you know it's hard to leave there with just a few things. I ended up filling their buckets completely FULL, but it was worth every penny.

Here's what was in each bucket: microphone-shaped bubble wand, pens, notebook, pinwheel, small puzzle, "magic" capsules, glow sticks, paint craft, ring pops, water shooter, Army guys, Play-Doh, baseball cards, workbook, and word find book.

Next I wrote some clues that would lead them to their treasure. I made them relatively easy, so that my 6 year old could read them himself and the 4 year old could help a little bit too. I also didn't make the clues too hard to find. You can see a PDF of my treasure hunt clues here.

The hunt itself only took about 20 minutes, but it was so fun! The boys worked together well, my 6 year old did a FANTASTIC job reading the clues, and they enjoyed their treasures. In fact, they played with the treasures from their bucket the rest of the day. Then woke and played with them again the next morning and are stilling playing with them days later! This activity more than exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be doing it again....just probably not until next summer!

Be sure to check out the video of the Treasure Hunt. Thanks for reading!

2017 Goals Mid-Year Check-In

Can you believe  2017 is already half over and done with? I can't! Last year I don't think I ever look back at my yearly goals and mission page and I certainly never filled in the quarterly break down page. So this year I am making a point to look back at my yearly goals page and fill in some ways to help me achieve my goals quarterly. I love how my Inkwell Press planner is designed to help me succeed!

Here are the six things I can do over the next three months to continue to help me meet my yearly goals.

For a more in-depth look at how I filled this out, check out my coordinating YouTube video below.

July Mission Board (and June Recap)

Wow that first month of summer went fast! Luckily I managed to fit in lots of fun, family time, and met almost all of my goals for the month too....except for that pesky weight goal. Now it's time to figure out what I want to accomplish in the next month.

But before I get into my goals for the month of July. Let's take a look back at my June Mission Board and see how I did.

First up....my ME TIME goal was to read a book. With two young boys, work, and other distractions I haven't even tried to read a book since last summer, but this month I set aside time every day to do some reading. Now admittedly I did miss a few days because we were busy or out and about, but I am now more than half way through a 311 page book and I will definitely be finished it soon! Yeah! I plan to continue reading this summer, so send any good book recommendations my way!

My HEALTH goals were to get in 8 cups of water a day and get 7+ hours of sleep a night. I started the month pretty good with my water intake and then trailed off at the end of the month. Drinking water is definitely harder for me in the summer, so you'll be seeing that goal again for sure! I tracked my sleep using my FitBit which is always interesting to check out. I enjoy seeing how much REM sleep and deep sleep I am getting each night and think it seems to be quite accurate. I didn't get 7+ hours every night this month, but I did manage to do it more than half the time so I'll take that as a moderate success.

My HOME goal for June was to do another purge of toys as well as books. Specifically I wanted to go through our kids books and get rid of some of the baby books/board books that are now too easy for my boys. I put a whole bunch of toys and books into a pile to get rid of. Some of the items I posted on the Facebook Marketplace and was able to make a little money (yeah!). Other items I either gave away to friends and family or donated. It always feels good to purge and reorganize!  My other HOME goal was to clean out our garage and back yard shed. Once again I was able to get rid of quite a few things, clean up and reorganize. 

BE SOCIAL- My mom and I had a great day out together. We hit up a couple thrift stores and the Dollar Tree and managed to find a few good deals. Then we ate lunch at Culvers and ended the day with a pedicure....a perfect way to start off summer vacation!

I raided Etsy back in May and spent WAY too much on stickers, so my June FINANCIAL goal was to not spend any money on planner things! I easily did that. Unfortunately I am still waiting on one of my sticker orders (FROM MAY!!!!) and haven't been able to film the Sticker Haul I was planning on earlier this month. It's the first time I haven't put up a second video in probably a year. Oh well! It will get filmed eventually.....

My FOOD goal was to get back on track with meal planning. With baseball season, the crazy end of the school year, and everything else we had going on in May I had fallen off the wagon and made a few too many frozen pizzas or other last minute meals. We still ate out a few times this month, but they were all planned in advance and I always had a meal plan posted on our fridge. 

This month I was able to contribute some extra money to our mortgage payment! It helps that we are no longer paying for preschool/daycare. I imagine without those weekly payments we should be able to continue adding to our mortgage payment each month and meet my DREAM BIG goal of eliminating our PMI (private mortgage insurance).

I had two FITNESS goals this month. The first was to host my own Step Bet. This Step Bet is definitely more of a challenge than the last one I did with much more difficult goals, but I am continuing to meet them every week and so proud of myself and everyone else still in the challenge. My other FITNESS goal was another monthly challenge. This month I tried try the 30 Day Bedtime Workout Challenge. I did accidentally forget to do the exercises before bed two nights, but overall this was another successful fitness challenge.

Last, but not least....my WEIGHT GOAL. The number 145 continues to elude me. One week I'll eat great, but not get in my workouts and the next week is just the opposite with great workouts and crappy eating. As I've said many times before "this weight loss stuff is HARD," but I'm going to keep plugging away and someday I'll get there!

Now onto my goals for July

This month's ME TIME goal will once again be to read. Every day after lunch my boys and I spend anywhere from 15-45 minutes quietly reading on our own. I love my reading time and love even more seeing my boys read independently! My other ME TIME goal will be to finally use the teeth whitening kit I bought months ago and keep forgetting to use.

Because I know it will continue to be a struggle for me all summer vacation my HEALTH goal will once again be to drink 8+ cups of water a day. I've also noticed my skin has been especially dry the past month and I suspect that is in part due to the fact that I am not staying hydrated enough. Drink more water!!!!

My HOME goal for July is to finally put our three season porch back together after removing all the furniture, draperies, and carpet to have new carpet put in. We had the carpet installed this past week and now it's time to wash all the windows and doors and put the furniture and draperies back in. I can't wait to have my favorite space back!

BE SOCIAL- With summer quickly disappearing I want to schedule some more play dates this month. I also am planning a Mom's Night Out with some of my coworkers.

July's FINANCIAL goal is one again to eat our freezer food first. I stocked up on good meats for grilling (steaks, burgers, brats, and my favorite Trader Joe's Chile Lime Chicken burgers) last month and now it's to use those up and enjoy some summertime grillin'.

My FOOD goal for July is to track everything! I was a bit lazy when it came to this the past couple months and when I knew I ate a lot or just didn't want to look things up I simply put a sad face in my planner. This month I need to write down the calories for everything I eat. If you're new to following me I use the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my food. It's really quite easy when I take the time to do it and I am more likely to make healthy choices when I know I will be writing down my calorie total for the day too.

DREAM BIG- This one stays the same. Any extra income we have at the end of the month will be going into paying our mortgage. I really hope we can get rid of our PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) sometime before the end of 2018.

I am setting three FITNESS goals this month. The first is one I also do....three cardio workouts a week. The second is increasing my step goal for my Fit Bit. I've been using a Fit Bit for almost two years now and have always had the goal of 10,000 steps a day. I typically meet that goal quite easily, so I finally decided to up it to 13,000 steps a day! My Step Bet challenge has been helping me realize that this is a better goal for me and still achievable. Finally, I am not going to do a monthly fitness challenge in July. I am simply going to do a 5-10 minute routine with hand weights and squats every day except for Sunday. Sundays will be my day off.

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL.....I'm hesitant to write 145 pounds once again, but I also know it is still the weight goal that I have in my head so I might as well just write it and work a little harder to get there.

That's it for my July Mission Board. What are your goals this month?

Thanks for reading!

Our Allowance System, for now...

My husband and I have been spending the past couple months discussing and and figuring out what kind of allowance system we want to use with our kids. Originally we were kind of against giving our kids an allowance because we felt like they shouldn't just expect to get money every week. Then two things happened. First, my 7 year old lost the Garmin VivoFit he got for Easter which he LOVED. I enjoyed seeing him get excited about fitness and got to spend some great one-on-one time with him when we'd go for walks/jogs to get more steps. Since we wanted him to learn about responsibility we didn't want to just buy him a new one, so we decided there should be some way he could earn money (besides getting money from the "tooth fairy" every once in awhile). Second, we went to my sister-in-law's house for a birthday party and saw some documents on her fridge relating to allowance that we really liked and got us started talking. So here's what we came up with!

One of the ideas we really liked from my sister-in-law's fridge was that the kids are a "Citizen of the Household" and there are some jobs/chores they are expected to do simply because they live here. Doing their homework, brushing teeth, putting away laundry, keeping their rooms clean are just a few examples of things they have to do without getting paid.

We also thought it would be a good idea talk to the kids about all the "Jobs Parents Do Without Pay." This was also borrowed from my sister-in-law. I especially loved the little saying at the bottom: These are just some of the jobs we do outside of our paying jobs. Our biggest job is providing for YOU because we love you!

Finally we came up with a list of "Jobs to Do for Allowance." There are kitchen jobs, cleaning jobs, indoor jobs, and outdoor jobs. Of course, if the kids come up with a job they could do that's not on the list they just have to check with us first. 

The other thing we had a difficult time deciding was how much they should get paid and how often. For now we have determined they can do up to five jobs a week and will get paid $1 for each job. Five dollars a week seems like a lot to me, but dollars also seemed like the easiest amount to work with. Maybe I'm just cheap....what do you feel like is a good amount for kids?

To help the kids keep track of their jobs each week my husband created this "Allowance Job Log" sheet. Each week the boys fill in their name, the date, and any jobs they do. We check off or star each job when it is completed to our satisfaction. At the end of the week, they turn in the sheet to receive their payment.

So, we are only one week into using this system, but so far I'd say it is working pretty good. Both boys are excited about helping out around the house and are enjoying learning how to do some new things. For example. my five year old decided he wanted to help set the table and clean everything up after lunch last weekend. He LOVED rinsing off the dishes and putting them into the dishwasher and has been asking to do it every day since (even though he can only write it on his Job Log once)! Both boys have also learned that they have to complete a job well before it will get a check from us. My 7 year old started pulling weeds the other day, but only got about 1/3 of the garden and decided he didn't want to do anymore. He learned that he either had to finish or do a whole other job in order to get his full $5. Similarly, my younger son started helping me with dusting and vacuuming but got tired after just a couple rooms. When he asked why he didn't get a check on his Job Log I explained he had to help me dust and vacuum the rest of the house before he would get it marked off.

Here's what my boys Job Logs looked like at the end of the first week:

This system isn't perfect. We've already had to make some adjustments and I'm sure we'll make more as time goes on, but for now I really feel like this Allowance System will work for our family and will give my kids a chance to earn money, feel like an important member of our household, and help teach them skills they need to know before they are adults living on their own.

Thanks for reading! If you're interested in any of the documents we used, click on the links below for PDFs you can use with your family!

Academic Planner Walk-Through and GIVEAWAY!

Congratulations to Karen from Pennsylvania on winning the Academic Flex Planner!!

When Inkwell Press announced their 2017/2018 Academic Planners were launching I wanted to get one. Of course, I already have my planner, so I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I ordered one anyway. At first I thought I might give it to my son's teacher as an end of the school year gift, but I know her pretty well and I think she's too tech savvy to really use a paper planner, so instead I decided to a GIVEAWAY for you!

Many of you have used my IWP Rewards Code to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more at inkWELL Press: http://r.sloyalty.com/r/uJ1K4xEHFAwP . When you used this code I receive Rewards points I can use towards the purchase of Inkwell Press products and since I have all the Inkwell Press products I need (for now...) I love to use my Rewards to give back to my followers!

So....the winner of this contest will win a 2017/2018 Inkwell Press Academic Planner in the Flex version! 

Entering the contest is easy! Just follow the prompts in this Gleam widget. The only requirement is you must be subscribed to my YouTube channel, but you can earn additional entries into the contest by visiting some of my other social media sites. The contest starts today Tuesday, June 6th and will run through 11:59PM (Central Time) on Tuesday, June 13th. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and a resident of the United States. Winners will be notified via e-mail after the contest has ended and must respond within 48 hours to receive their prize or new winners will be chosen.

The Academic Planner is basically the same as the regular planner it just starts in July and goes through June as opposed to following the calendar year. The planner has the same amazing goal setting pages, same great paper quality, and same extras! Here's a few photos to get a peek inside!

June Mission Board (and May Recap)

June is here! Summer vacation, warm weather, sitting by the pool, time with my boys.....I can't wait! It's also time to set some goals for the month so I can continue working on being a more organized, healthier, fitter, and hopefully a little bit lighter me!

But before I get into my goals for the month of June. Let's take a look back at my May Mission Board and see how I did.

First up, my ME TIME goal. I was super excited for this one since I had never been able to attend one of the local Planner Meet-Ups before. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards for me this month either. At the last minute we had a family thing come up and I wasn't able to go. 

My HEALTH goal for May was to drink 8 cups of a water a day. For some reason this was more difficult for me this month and I only managed to meet my goal about half the time. I need to do a better job of this especially once I'm home for the summer and not teaching, so I will probably have this goal again for the month of June.

HOME- My home goal for May was to plan and plant my garden. Done! Everything is planted and thanks to the rain we've been having lately the seeds we planted are already starting to pop up!

Back in March my BE SOCIAL goal was to have a real Date Night out with my husband. Unfortunately our baby-sitter had to cancel at the last minute, so we were never able to go. My BE SOCIAL goal for May was again to have an actual Date Night out (not just our usual weekly Couch Date night) and it finally happened. Yeah! Last weekend we got a baby-sitter for the night and went to dinner at a local pizza place with fun, unique pizzas, then walked around IKEA for awhile, and ended the night with some delicious ice cream! It was great! 

My first FINANCIAL goal for May was to eat out less! We typically eat out 2-3 times a week. This month we definitely cut back! Now to we just to remember to continue doing this and try to eat at home a little bit more.

My second FINANCIAL goal was to figure out some sort of allowance system or a way my boys can earn some of their own money. My husband and I sat down and talked through our thoughts and ideas. We both agreed that there are certain jobs that we expect our boys to do without being paid....put away dishes, clean up their rooms, put away laundry, etc. However, we also came up with a list of other jobs they could do to help out around the house where they could earn some money. We're still working out the details and putting together some documents we can keep up on the fridge, but we're almost done. Let me know if this is something you'd like me to share in a future blog or video!

I also had two FITNESS goals in May. The first was the same one I have virtually every month- to get in three cardio workouts each week. I am consistently meeting that goal, so next month I don't think I will write it down. The second goal was the StepBet I did hosted by Drizzle Me Skinny. I can't believe I did it, but I successfully met my goals every day for SIX weeks! That means I got to keep the $40 I paid to enter the StepBet and I won an additional $5.54! 

My DREAM BIG goal was again to put any extra money we had In May into our mortgage. As of writing this my husband and I still haven't gotten our last paycheck for the month, so I'm not sure if we'll be able to do this yet.

My first FOOD goal was to try to eat 1500 calories or less a day. I only met this goal three days the whole month....although I was close (within the 1500s) many other days. Still, this goal was ultimately a fail this month. My other FOOD goal was to eat more veggies. I probably could have done even more, but I did make a conscious effort to get in lots of veggies each day.

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL for the month was 145 pounds. Thanks to the girls' weekend I had at the beginning of the month I started the month with a big weight gain and basically spent the rest of the month losing those pounds. At least I ended the month weighing less than I started!

Now....onto my goals for June!

First up....my ME TIME goal! This month I want to actually sit down and read a book. I think I had this same goal last June, but I picked a book that never really held my interest and I only managed to get through a couple chapters the whole summer. Any good recommendations for books I should get my hands on for this summer?

Once again my first HEALTH goal is to get in 8 cups of water a day. This is actually easier when I am teaching and carrying around my water bottle all day, so I will definitely need to make a more conscious effort to drink water now that I will be home for the summer. My second HEALTH goal is to get 7+ hours of sleep a night. I will be tracking this using my FitBit. I am currently getting over a cold that I am fairly sure I got because I wasn't getting enough sleep. I always seem to get sick when don't get my 7+ hours, so it's time to get back on track!

My HOME goals this month are to do another purge of toys as well as books. Specifically I want to go through our kids books and get rid of some of the baby books/board books that are now too easy for my boys. I also always try to clean out our garage and back yard shed early in the summer to clean out all the salt from the Minnesota winter and get the shed and yard tools organized for summer.

BE SOCIAL- I'm not sure if this can really count as being social since it's my own mom and we already have it planned, but it's all I could come up with this month. Every Mother's Day the past few years I have given my mom a homemade gift certificate for a day of shopping, a pedicure, and lunch with me. Really, it's just as much a gift for me since we both have fun!

I raided Etsy a couple weeks ago and spent WAY too much on stickers, so this month my FINANCIAL goal is to not spend any money on planner things!

My FOOD goal is to get back on track with meal planning. With baseball season starting, the crazy end of the school year, and everything else we've had going on I have fallen off the wagon and made a few too many frozen pizzas or other last minute meals. I know I can be healthier and make healthier meals for my family too if I plan ahead and meal plan.

DREAM BIG- Once again I hope to put some extra money into our mortgage....hoping to get enough of our house paid off that we can get rid of our PMI (Mortgage Insurance).

I have two FITNESS goals this month. The first is to host my own Step Bet. My last Step Bet was so successful and motivating that I wanted to do another one and invite my followers to join me. Just download the Step Bet app and search the game code: PlanThePoundsAway. Once you sync your own step counting device (ie. a FitBit, Apple watch, etc) the app will tell you your step goals and you can decide if you want to pay the $20 to join. If you meet your goals every week you get your $20 back and may even win a little extra money if other players don't meet their goals. However, I would love if everyone was successful...even if it means we won't win extra money!

My other FITNESS goal is another monthly challenge. This month I am going to try the 30 Day Bedtime Workout Challenge.

Last, but not least....my WEIGHT GOAL. No surprise here! This month I am going to try to reach the elusive 145 pounds.

That's it for June! Time to enjoy summer and get out there and meet my goals!

Thanks for reading!

Recipe of the Month: Guacamole

I have been absolutely obsessed with guacamole lately! Actually, my whole family loves guacamole! No lie...I have been making one to two batches a week. Good thing this recipe is super easy and only calls for a few ingredients.

Here's the recipe:

GUACAMOLE

INGREDIENTS:                                                                                                                                          

  • 4-6  ripe avocados
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chiles (I usually only use 1/2 the can)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop the cilantro and set aside.
  2. Mash avocados.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix well!

ENJOY!!!                                                                               

May Mission Board (and April Recap)

April's gone and May is already here! Sorry for getting this out a little later than usual, but I was off enjoying a fun Girls' Weekend with my old college roommates and just haven't had time to edit my May Mission Board video or write this blog post.

So....before I get into my goals for the month of May. Let's take a look back at my April Mission Board and see how I did.

My HEALTH goal in April was to keep tracking my water intake and aim for 8+ cups of water a day. I did much better in April than I did in March. Although I wasn't perfect, I'd say overall this goal was a success.

I had two ME TIME goals for April.  First, I wanted to get a pedicure for spring....gotta have cute toes for flip flops, right? I also need to dye my gray hairs. Done and done!

April's HOME goal was to do a spring clothing and toy purge. Also done!

FINANCIAL- I went back to an old, successful financial goal. Our chest freezer was stuffed full of food, so it was time to have a "Freezer First" month! The freezer is quite a bit more empty and our grocery bills were also quite a bit smaller! I also wanted to try calling our cable company to see if I could negotiate a lower price for our bill. I HATE calling people on the phone....especially in situations like this, so I never did get around to doing it. Maybe in May....

My SOCIAL goal for April was my Girls' Weekend in Des Moines. I just got back and it was awesome!

There was no DREAM BIG goal for April. Instead I wrote an OUTSIDE goal to start getting the yard ready for spring and summer. Lately, the weather hasn't been great for being outside, but we did have one nice weekend where I was able to pick up pinecones, sticks, leaves, and even get the lawn mowed!

FOOD- Once again I struggled to meet my food goals. Making healthy food choices is hard people!

My FITNESS goals for April were to once again get in three cardio workouts a week and then try the "Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes: 30 Day Buns, Guns, and Abs Challenge." I did great at meeting my fitness goals in April and LOVED the challenge! I highly recommend checking it out!

I did not meet my weight goal of 145 pounds by the end of the month, but I did finally end a month at a lower weight than I started it. First time that has happened in 2017!

Now onto May....

First up, my ME TIME goal. I'm super excited for this one! I've been a part of the planner community for over a year now and I still haven't been able to attend a Planner Meet-Up with my local planner group. My weekend schedule is always busy carting my boys to swimming lessons, soccer, basketball, baseball or with church and family activities. It looks like the date for the May Meet-Up is relatively free, so I'm planning on going!

My HEALTH goal for May is the same as the past couple months. Since tracking my water intake seems to have helped me in this area I am once again going to try to drink 8 cups of water a day.

HOME- This month my HOME goal is to plan and plant our garden. Living in Minnesota the weather can be very unpredictable for most of the spring. It actually snowed today (in May)!!! So the standard rule for gardeners is to wait until after Mother's Day to do your planting. I'll spend the first couple weeks figuring out what we want to have in our garden, go buy the seeds and plants we need, and then sometime after Mother's Day we'll actually do all the planting. I can't wait!

Back in March my BE SOCIAL goal was to have a real Date Night out with my husband. Unfortunately our baby-sitter had to cancel at the last minute, so we were never able to go. My BE SOCIAL goal for May is again to have an actual Date Night out (not just our usual weekly Couch Date night) with Ben.

After tracking my spending for the past few months and figuring out places we can make some cuts I have a new FINANCIAL goal for May....eat out less! We typically eat out 2-3 times a week, so this month we're going to try to cut at least one of those meals out and make out food at home.

My second FINANCIAL goal relates to my kids. My 7 year old has been asking about getting an allowance or having a way to earn some money, so my husband and I are going to sit down and figure out what we want to do. I'm not exactly sure I want to give my boys a regular allowance, but I do want them to learn about how to take care of their own money (put some in savings, give some, and spend some, etc.) I also don't want them to feel like they can earn money by doing chores that they are expected to do like putting away their dishes, cleaning their rooms, etc. Maybe they could earn some money for jobs they do that are beyond their expected responsibilties...I'm just not sure! I'd love to hear any ideas you have for how to deal with kids and money!

I have two FITNESS goals this month. The first is the same one I have virtually every month- to get in three cardio workouts each week. The second goal is the StepBet I am currently doing. Check out the link to learn more about what StepBet is!

My DREAM BIG goal is again to put any extra money we have this month into our mortgage. We were able to do this back in March. Unfortunately, in April we had lots of large bills due (car insurance, etc.) so we didn't have any extra money. Hopefully, May we will be back on track (especially if we really eat out less) and can put more money into our mortgage and get closer to getting rid of that pesky mortgage insurance.

My FOOD goals have been a challenge for me lately, Even though I haven't been very successful with this one I'm once again going o try to eat 1500 calories or less a day. I'm sure I won't be perfect, but I can definitely do better! My other FOOD goal is to eat more veggies. I really love eating vegetables I just forget about them sometimes. Hopefully if I'm eating more veggies I'll also be eating fewer calories.

Finally, my WEIGHT GOAL for the month is 145 pounds....AGAIN! I will get there! :)

I hope you all have a fabulous month! Thanks for reading!

Planner Sticker Storage & Organization

I've been sharing planner videos, blog posts, and other things for over a year now and after many requests I'm finally getting around to showing you how I store and organize my stickers (and other planner supplies). I am not a huge hoarder of stickers and other planner things since I'm a pretty basic, functional planner, but I do a have a storage/organization system that works for me. 

Basically I use a Sterilite 3 Drawer Mini Unit to store the majority of my stickers. The only stickers I don't keep in there are the ones I will be using for the week. Those ones go in a clear pouch that fits into my planner that I got WAY back when I made my first Etsy sticker shop order. Unfortunately, the shop I bought it from doesn't exist anymore, but I'm sure you could find something similar.

I try to organize the stickers by color scheme. If you're not familiar with Inkwell Press planners....each month is a different color scheme so I have a variety of functional stickers in each one. I also have a few "leftover" stickers from last year's color schemes that I group together along with a few different decorative stickers, kits, or samplers. Finally, I have a draer with my Inkwell Press Post-It notes, a ruler, some clips, Bic Wite-Out Mini and the one roll of washi tape that I own. For my Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens I just use a glass canning jar. I actually LOVE how they look are colorful in there!

So...that's pretty much it! For a closer look at my sticker storage and organization be sure to check out the video below!