New Erin Condren Life Planner and other goodies

I like lists and I love them on paper. I have tried cell phone (and PDA) calendars, reminders, list apps and I keep going back to paper.  I have used planners in some form off and on for years.  One of my first blog posts here was about putting together my own personal planner.  I loved that I could put exactly what I needed in the binder.  I loved the ability to add or remove forms as my needs changed.  I loved that I could take the tabs and forms out of the three-ring binder and rearrange them  as I found what I used more often or as my mood changed.  I didn’t love that the binder was so large to lug around.  I also found it to be like a purse, the larger my purse is, the more unnecessary stuff I put in it.  The same thing happened with my planner.  I also didn’t love the cost of quality ink and paper needed to print my pages.

So, last year, I purchased the Erin Condren Life Planner and used it for several months before I experienced “planner fail”.  I just found it to be large and not meeting all of my needs.  I read several reviews about other planners and tried another one with a similar layout but it was smaller and more portable.  The quality was great and so was the customer service.  I loved that this planner had a week in review and notes page at the end of each week and month but the months weren’t tabbed and the weekly view was spread out over more than 2 pages.  This gave more space for writing on each day but I need to see my whole week at once.  Next I tried another planner in a loose leaf style. The monthly layout was again 2 pages per month and it had a weekly view but it ran horizontally (Monday on top of Tuesday, etc.) and squashed up Saturday and Sunday.  It also had thinner paper and just didn’t feel as durable as the other 2 planners.  So I am finishing out with my Erin Condren and have a new one on order.

I have been watching the reviews for this year’s new life planners and the hardworking people at Erin Condren have been listening to customer feedback and made some changes!  I ordered a life planner in the Sea Life pattern in the dark blue color and pen holder because I must have a pen attached to my planner.  After I finished the order, I decided I needed some personalized stickers but didn’t want to pay shipping on just stickers so I decided to order some note pads, a pretty gold bookmark (I love sparkly things!), and some of the Sea Life folded note cards and address labels as well.  I had originally ordered the planner in the sand dollar pattern but after considering it for a while, I decided I really want some color this year (I had a white background last year) so I contacted their customer service the next day to see if it was too late to change the cover and since my order was still pending they were able to change the cover!  I can’t wait for my order to arrive!  If you have never ordered from Erin Condren before, the packaging is lovely! It’s like opening a super specially wrapped Christmas gift and they send a few extras in your planner (gift labels and call me cards).

I really want to use my weekly layout and I love the fact that the Erin Condren week runs vertically. The week starts with Monday at the left and ends with Sunday on the right and each day runs from the top of the page to the bottom and is divided into morning, afternoon and evening.  They have also added some lines at the bottom of each day for writing things like meals or workouts or whatever you may want to make note of.  I do not like the timed slots in some planners but I love this layout.  Depending on how I decide to use my weeks, I can always just put a sticker over the three sections and write in what I need it to say.

I fill in birthdays and anniversaries on the monthly view as soon as I get the planner; however, I rarely transfer information to the weekly columns. I think this happens for a couple of reasons. First, my work week runs Sunday through Saturday and it always throws me off to “start” a week on my second day. Second, I didn’t always have the planner with me when things came up that needed scheduling and I would either forget to put it down when I got back to my planner or I would think, “I’ll do that later” but I never did.  The Erin Condren life planner is smaller than a three-ring binder but it is still big.  I love the size for the writing space it gives you but I haven’t always had a dedicated work bag and this planner won’t fit in a smaller purse.  In order to avoid “planner fail”, I have looked at several reviews of planners to see how people format their weeks to gather inspiration and I think I have found a few good ideas.  I will have a couple of weeks to decide while I wait for it to arrive 🙂

I need my calendar for reference  when I am at work because we self schedule for 6 week blocks and we are scheduling for a time that is a couple of months in the future.  I also don’t work a set schedule, I may be on the schedule for any day of the week and it changes from week to week.  I also need my planner with me when I am at the doctor’s office (I’m there a lot since my injury) because we schedule so far in advance.  Again, I didn’t always have it with me so I would often schedule an appointment on a day I was working.  I now have a couple of work bags that my planner fits nicely in and if I am going to the doctor, I just grab it out of my work bag as I am heading out the door.  I have a plan for the whole planner this year and I really think I will get through the whole 12 months on my life planner this time!

Last year, the weeks that ended one month and started another had the month written between the days where one month ended and the next one started.  As a result, the goals and to do section were sacrificed on these weeks.  From what I gather in the reviews, this is one of the things the Erin Condren people have changed based on customer feedback.  I love and use those spaces even if I don’t use any other space in the weekly layout so I am glad they are back.  This coupled with the addition of the lined spaces at the bottom will make it more likely that I will use the weekly spaces on a regular basis.

I also understand that they added tabs to sections that weren’t tabbed before, like at the 2 year calendars pages. I am hoping it is also tabbed at the notes and/or contacts pages so that I don’t have to whip out my office supplies and tab these sections myself!

I will do a full review of the new life planner and all the extra goodies once they get here.  I already have some pictures of the one from last year for side by side comparison.

In the mean time, I will be anxiously stalking my email for the shipping notice and then the Fed-Ex guy!

Ankle Injury and important lessons

I am a respiratory therapist in a pretty busy hospital. Several months ago, I went into a patient’s room in an emergency situation and tripped over a cord and landed wrong on my foot. I had a little swelling that night but with a little ice and elevation, it had resolved by morning so I thought nothing of it. I didn’t fill out an employee event report. Mistake number one.

I am employed flex time or prn which means I have no benefits. I went to flex time a couple of years ago because of mandatory overtime and call. Our normal schedule is 3 twelve hour shifts but with the overtime and call I was at work much more often and I was missing out on my kids school events and I wasn’t able to be home with them very much. We are insured through my husband’s employer so I figured I was good. I don’t have short term or long term disability or paid time off. I figured at 38 or 39 years old, I was okay. Mistake number two.

In April my right ankle and calf swelled up and became discolored overnight while I was at work and I had to go to urgent care when I got off work. I had a venous doppler scan to rule out a blood clot because one sided swelling is usually a pretty good indication of one. Especially given the fact that I am on my feet for most of a 12 hour shift. The doppler was negative so no blood clot. Next came x-rays and my doctor said I had either fractured my ankle or I had an extra ankle bone so he referred me to the orthopedic doctor.

The orthopedic doc looked at the x-rays and said I do in fact have an extra ankle bone, it is called an accessory navicular bone. He did an exam where I had to walk around, stand on tip toe, have my ankle mashed, etc and decided that it was likely a tendon injury. This was in May and he put me in a CAM boot and put me on prescription strength anti-imflammatory meds. The CAM boot is essentially a fracture boot, it has metal rods up the side to control the motion of the ankle. The idea was that resting the joint and taking the meds would fix the problem. No dice. So I went for an MRI and we found out it isn’t a tendon injury, it is an injury to the bone itself and now I am doing joint injection and facing surgery.

I can’t describe how frustrating it is not to be able to do something as simple as walk around. The boot alters my gait so I now have constant hip and low back pain. I have been switched to a topical NSAID gel so I can’t take any ibuprofen or aspirin for the hip or back pain and tylenol doesn’t really work.

As I mentioned, I am flex and didn’t fill out an event report. I am owning my mistakes but want to share the lessons I have learned.

If you hurt yourself at work, no matter how insignificant it seems; fill out an event report! This has all been on my dime and I have incurred $5000.00 in bills since May. Had I filled out that report, this would likely have been covered by worker’s comp and I could be placed on light duty so I could be working my full schedule.

If you do not have paid sick time, or short or long term disability, look into an independent policy for yourself!

When/if I have this surgery, I will be non-weight bearing for 4 to 6 weeks. I don’t know too many people who can afford that loss of income. My job requires covering many different floors and in a typical night I walk between 8000 and 12000 steps. I will not be able to do that if I have this surgery. Once this is all resolved, I will be taking out a policy through AFLAC or something similar and you can bet that if I so much as stub my toe, I’ll be filling out that event report!

Food Journal, Life Changes

Okay, so I suck at regular posting on my blog. It has been a busy year, back to school, switched to NICU/PICU from adults, 3 children, husband, added a dog.

My resolution this year is to get better about my diet. I want to eat less crap and part of what has worked for me in the past is a food journal or diary. I have downloaded 2 different apps to my phone and am keeping a log of my own making on paper so that I can see what works best for me.

I will attempt to post a review/comparison of these apps, notebook format in the next couple of days.

I am also trying out the Erin Condren Planner and the Woman’s Success Planner to see which of these better fits my needs.

I hope anyone who still reads my little blog is well and that your year is off to a good start.

Flat Iron Smack Down: Hana Professional vs Solia Pink limited edition

I recently decided I didn’t want to use my daughter’s flat-iron anymore.  Her flat-iron is great but it’s hers and it gets covered in product and it sometimes goes with her when she stays the night out so it might not be here if I want to use it.

Anyway, I searched reviews and read beauty forums and made my decision. I bought the Hana Professional from Misikko.com. I wish I had taken a picture of the packaging because it was beautiful but I didn’t so I’ll describe some of it.  My flat-iron came with a silicone heat mat, a felt, heat-resistant pouch, a leatherette travel pouch, a drawstring bag and a nicely lined tin box to store the flat-iron in. Misikko included extras (as they apparently do with all orders) that included a cute little sleep mask with the Hana logo, 3 little satin drawstring bags containing a lipstick, some hand sanitizer, a pack of Colgate Wisps, some emery boards and a small bottle of their heat protector/ shine serum; Hana Shine Shield Thermal Protectant. The felt heat proof pouch was wrapped in a pretty purple and white grosgrain bow and there were purple satin rose scented roses inside the neatly packed box.  It was the nicest package I have ever opened.

The flat-iron itself can be seen in this stock photo from the website:

It has a temperature range from 140 – 450 degrees farenheit. It has an analog dial that has various temperatures marked on it that you turn with your finger or thumb. There is a separate on/off switch in the center of the iron (between the handles) and it has an 8 foot swivel cord.  The iron isn’t flocked or anything so the back gets hot but you can touch the tips of the iron where it looks vented.  The floating plates are ceramic and tourmaline and curved at the edges for easier styling.  It heats up very fast ( about 30 seconds) and seems to either hold the heat or recovers heat very quickly because I don’t have to wait between passes. It also has a 2 year extended warranty.

My hair is very fine and relatively thin.  It is color treated and highlighted.  I chose this iron because it has a higher ceramic content and is advertised to be gentler on my hair type.  I used it the first time somewhere in the 250 degree range and was getting fair results.  I called the company and spoke to a very courteous customer service rep who told me to try it around 300 degrees.  I did and it worked.  I can straighten my hair in 2 passes per section.  The plates glide down my hair without snagging at all and it does a wonderful job of smoothing my hair at this temperature.  The only issue I had with flat-iron is that my hair is just a bit past my shoulders and I wanted to be able to do curls with it.  I perused the helpful styling guides on Misikko’s web site and was able to follow the tips easily but I needed a 1 inch iron for my hair.  Instead of forking out the money for another Hana, I read more reviews and went with the Solia.

On to the Solia.  I purchased this one from Folica.com after reading many reviews.  The packaging is secure but you don’t get all the presentation and extras, that was okay though.  The shipping was very quick and they sent a coupon for future purchases.

The Solia can be seen in this stick photo:

This iron has a very similar thumb wheel temperature setting and the on/off switch is in the same location.  It also heats up very quickly though maybe not quite as fast as the Hana.  It is also ceramic and tourmaline with curved edges, has floating or self-adjusting plates and has similar grooved/vented ends for grasping.  It has a 9 foot swivel cord and a maximum temperature of 400 degrees.  It’s a very pretty color and it also came with the felt, heat-resistant pouch.  It also seems to recover or retain heat but maybe not quite as well as the Hana.  This iron also has a 2 year warranty.

It does make curls a bit easier on my hair and it makes it straight as pin, straighter than the Hana.  But and this is a biggie for me; it pulls the crap out of my hair!  It also makes the ends look a little like straw.

I didn’t return the Solia because my daughter has tougher hair than I do and I thought she might be able to use it for curling her hair if she likes.  This iron may be good for people who have less damaged, thicker hair.  I just don’t think it’s for me.

The Hana is pricey at $129.00 but it is well worth it in my opinion.  I may at some point get a clipless curling iron or I may spring for the 1 inch Hana at some point because I love my 1.5 inch Hana that much!

You can find more reviews for each iron at their respective sites.  Misikko and Folica both have to approve reviews first though.  I have seen negative reviews on Folica’s site, though there are more positives.  I did look for negative reviews on the Hana but couldn’t find any, I don’t know if Misikko just doesn’t allow the negatives through or if there just haven’t been any yet.  Either way, both sites allow returns so it’s all good 🙂

I’ll try and get pictures  of my hair straightened with each iron sometime next week when my daughter is around to help take them.

Couponizer Pictures

I have attempted to place the photos in the original post here but for some reason it isn’t working.  So here are a couple of pictures.

The above picture shows the whole system. The binder, the coupon mat, and the carrying bag. It does come with the little scissors too but everyone knows what scissors look like.

This picture gives a better view of some of the mat categories. Each category has a corresponding page with a pocket to hold your coupons.  It really has made my couponing much easier.

We recently went on vacation and I knew that we would do most of our dining in the house we were staying in. Because I have kept my coupons neat and organized, I was able to throw the binder in one of my bags and had all my coupons available for the grocery trip on vacation.  It was very nice.

My next few posts will be reviews.  I have 3 flat-iron reviews, 3 protective/shine serum reviews and the In Styler planned. The reviews are written but I need my daughter’s assistance with before and after photos as I feel it would be better to have visuals with those.

I have also read a couple of books that I hope to do reviews on.

My organizing task from this post is going in fits and starts.  The kitchen and entertainment center are coming along better than the other areas I need to tackle but I underestimated my motivation and ability.

Still disorganized but hopeful wife and mom!

I love the Couponizer (review)

I mentioned in a previous post that I had begun clipping coupons and was excited about my savings.  That is still true but I needed a way to keep them organized.  I searched the internet for days, read reviews, watched videos, surfed Etsy, and checked out local stores in search of the perfect coupon organizer for me.

I found the Couponizer and decided to try it out and I’m really glad I did!  You can click here to order one of your own.

The Couponizer is a laminated, spiral bound notebook. Each page is labeled with a category and has a pocket for placing the coupons in.  There is a coupon mat that has categories that correspond to your coupon pockets, a little pair of kindergarten type scissors and it all comes in a clear, plastic zipper pouch.  Inside the notebook is a shopping list pad in the very front and coupon tracker pad in the very back. The first couple pages in order are:  Coupons for this shopping trip, Checkout, and Coupons to expire this month.  There is also a clear, vinyl business card type page for slipping any grocery store discount cards or your credit cards into and a page to hold your receipts in the back.  It closes with a handy elastic loop.  You can also order custom sticker sets for customizing your coupon categories both in the notebook and on the coupon mat for $5.95 (they are sold out right now though), and refill shopping lists and coupon trackers.

I love the Couponizer for many reasons but one of the main reasons is that I hate to clip coupons.  With the Couponizer, I can sit down on my couch with the mat, notebook and all my coupons and clip during the commercials or slow parts of the TV show.  This makes clipping a little more convenient and makes it seem like less of a chore.  This is a great little organizer and it costs $19.95 which I find very reasonable.

I will get some pictures up tomorrow when I get off work.

Happy Wednesday!

Quick Uppdate

So sorry I didn’t post anything for a month, I lost track of time.  I have been pretty busy with work and trying to spend some family time on my days off.

I did just go to flex time at work and what I am hoping to do is work one less day per schedule period but I think that will give me more flexibility for errand days and more time to spend with my family.

With the warmer weather approaching, the one nestling who still lives here has started her extracurricular activities back up and I am hoping I will get to go see her and be a more supportive parent this year instead of getting texted pictures and updates while I am at work!

I recently bought some new brushes, tinted moisturizer, hair care stuff and a new flat-iron and hair dryer so I am thinking on doing some review type posts for the next few blog updates.

I have also bought a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and found some good vegetarian recipes that my daughter likes so I plan to share those as well.

I have a conference for work all day tomorrow so I plan to try to get going with the blog posts again tomorrow night once we have all finished our day.

Declutter then baby steps

I am still working on the clutter from my previous “When Clutter Attacks” post but as expected, it is turning out to be an involved process.

I have found a few tips that work and some common themes among organizing books and blogs from experts.

First, declutter and throw away trash.   FlyLady has some great tips for decluttering here

Next, pick a room.  Decide on the projects you need to tackle in that room and make a list of them.  Break each project down into the steps required to get it done and list each of the steps.  Now pick a project and get started!  I start with the smaller projects so that I get some instant gratification.  Work through each of the projects one at a time and always finish the one you are working on before moving on to another one.  Then pick another room and start again.

The decluttering has been rewarding for me.  It is almost instant gratification by itself because I usually manage to free up space and I have less to actually organize.  It makes the organizing seem less daunting when I get to it.  I am also finding I don’t need as many containers or as much space as I thought I would when I started.

Another simple concept that seems common among the professionals is to carry stray items back to their rightful place.  If you see an item or items where they don’t belong, carry them to the place that they belong.  This helps cut down on clutter and items without homes.

Finally, I have a space by my front door that is helping me get in and out of the house more easily.  I put my keys on the key hook when I come in, I hang my coat and purse or work bag on the hooks just for them.  I have a small table that holds my cellphone, a basket that contains a lint roller, hairbrush, and scissors.  I can de-lint, trim any loose threads and give my hair a once over before going out the door.  I also have a clip next to the front door for outgoing mail.  When a bill or letter is ready to go or a dvd needs to go back, we clip it up and the next person out the door puts it on the mailbox.  I plan to add a bench with little cubby areas under the coat hooks so that shoes and my husband’s back pack can slide into those.

I hope I will eventually work my way up to a completely organized person one day but I am making progress and it is gratifying and encouraging.

 

 

 

Hooray For Coupons!

One of my husband’s co-workers had been posting on Facebook about her tremendous coupon savings and I was interested in how she was saving so much.  I had already found Couponmom.com but hadn’t really done a lot with it.  It turns out, she was using a book by coupon mom so I asked her if I could borrow it and she was kind enough to let me.

This week is payday so it’s grocery time.  We needed several personal care items so I used coupon mom’s tips on shopping at CVS.  First I looked at the weekly ad, made a list of what we needed and then found coupons for as many of the items on my list as possible.  If I didn’t find a coupon for it and we aren’t currently out of it, I didn’t buy it.

Anyway, I got $98.38 worth of stuff for a total of $52.75.  Fifteen dollars of that is in CVS extra bucks but there are things that I will need and it’s basically free money to use next time I go 🙂

Here’s a picture of my haul:

The boxes of Puffs with Vicks were $1.00 for both boxes, the disposable razors (20 of them) were 2.00, The Swiffer wipes were buy one get one free, the manly body wash was free with the deodorant purchase, the mouthwash was $2.99 for a liter.  The expensive things were my razor and Nexxus hair care but I got $10.00 of my extra bucks from the hair care and $5.00 from the razor and they are my regular brands.

Anyway, check out the coupon mom site that I linked up there and get saving!

Cleaning Recipes

A friend of mine saw my cleaning blog post and said she would like to get some of the recipes.  So today I am posting some of the recipes I use when cleaning my home.

Homemade furniture polish

½ cup sweet almond oil

1 tbsp beeswax (melted)

lemon essential oil (10 drops)

rosewood essential oil (4 or 5 drops)

Mix the almond oil, melted beeswax and essential oils together in a jar, shake well and use with a dusting or polishing cloth

Hardwood floor Cleaner

3 cups white vinegar

1 tbsp. Castile soap

3 drops grapefruit essential oil

6 cups warm water

Mix together in a bucket and mop

Drain Opener

½ cup baking soda followed by 2 cups white vinegar

let stand 30 minutes then follow with 4 cups boiling water

Rust remover (for porcelain surfaces)

Salt

Lemon juice

Pour salt on stained area and then squeeze lemon juice on top of salt.

Allow to stand for a couple of hours or overnight then scrub and rinse

Laundry Stain Remover

1 part ammonia

1 part dawn

1 part water

Mix into a spray bottle, spray on laundry, allow to soak and wash.

This is a recipe my grandmother uses.  It got grass stains out of my white Easter Dress.  I had a shirt that fell behind the dryer and wound up looking like it had been used as a dust rag.  I sprayed this on and allowed it to soak for a couple of hours and the shirt came out sparkling clean.  My daughter washed and dried some cherry chap-stick with some of her clothes and this took those stains out as well.

The rest of these are borax recipes.  I also just sprinkle borax on my tub and sink and scrub with a nylon scrubber and they get very clean.

Drain opener

½ cup borax

2 quarts boiling water

Sprinkle borax into drain, follow with boiling water

Toilet cleaning

¼ cup borax

sprinkle into toilet and let sit at least 30 minutes (to overnight)

scrub and flush

dishwasher cleaning

¼ cup borax sprinkled into bottom of empty dishwasher

run on hottest temp

Floor cleaner

¾  cup borax

1 tbsp liquid soap (I like murphy’s oil or Dr. Bronner’s)

½  cup white vinegar

1 gallon hot water

Laundry booster

½ to ¾ cup borax (depending on load size) added to laundry

Oven cleaner

1 quart hot water

2 teaspoons borax

2 tablespoons liquid dish soap

mix together in spray bottle

spray oven thoroughly

wait 30 minutes, scrub out