My Friday Favorites 06.24.16

Happy Friday! I hope today is the start of a great weekend for you and yours.
Here are the things I am loving this week!

On TV – Netflix released season 4 of Orange is the New Black a week ago. Last year, I binged watched through the weekend finishing season 3 in 48 hours. I vowed to make the show last a little longer this time and I stretched it until Wednesday. This season was by far the most heartbreaking yet. Unfair judicial and prison systems, racism, corporate greed, privilege, religion and mental illness were just a few of the timely topics unearthed in these 13 episodes. No spoilers here.


On the Page – Real Simple Magazine’s July 2016 issue is full of summer fun.  Great tips on how to actually relax on your vacation, gaining control of your inbox, and party tricks for your summer get-togethers. Of course, the “Ask the Organizer” section is always a fav of mine!

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On the Web – I’m a teacher and it is my first full week of summer vacation. But that doesn’t mean my brain stops thinking about the classroom. Especially this summer as I am switching grades and teaching 4th grade for the first time in 20 years! I bookmarked this article Dollar Store Dos and Don’ts for Teachers by Genia Connell on Scholastic.com. It is so easy to buy something because it is inexpensive. This article has test driven lots of Dollar Store items for you!  

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In the Kitchen -Meal prepping is something I am completely committed to during the academic year, but it always seems to fall to the side in the summer. Anna Nguyen, Philadelphia’s Healthy Kid blogger shared Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Liz Coover’s  5 Tips to get Meal Planning Into Your Family Schedule. Time to get back into a routine! I roasted summer squash and zucchini for the week and made tuna that we can grab easily to make basil wraps.

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On Instagram – This week I picked a color of the week and posted pics of my favorite apple green things!  I loved searching for other #applegreen photos and I pushed the like-heart a LOT!!  I loved, loved, loved these apple green canisters in Edita Trinkunaite’s kitchen. Check out her other amazing food pics on her IG @edita.trinkunaite

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What are you loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks for reading.

My Friday Favorites 02.12.16

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Here are all the things I am loving this week!

On TV – TGIT is finally back! The winter break finale of Scandal seemed to land us right back to the beginning of the whole story. Many think this show is not as good as when it started. The story line has been up and down, but lately I think the show is at the top of its game. Ever since Shonda Rhimes publicly admitted she knows exactly how and when Scandal will end, I watch every episode through that lens. How is this episode a move on the chessboard to get Olivia and company to the end of their story? The shot from the finale in November with Olivia in the oval standing on the seal, I believe, was the most obvious hint so far. Olivia in the oval – and not as some sidekick First Lady. This week’s episode furthered this theory for me and added a twist. Will it be a Grant / Pope ticket? And I am not talking about Fitz here. And if it is – whose name is first? Did anyone else catch Jake say to the President TWICE while visiting him on The White House balcony – he needs to get a view like that?  Oh poor, one-dimensional Fitz telling him there was only one way to get that view. (I bet Bill Clinton never thought that…)  I think Jake knows better and wouldn’t mind being called the First Man, especially now with his other full time gig of head of the NSA.

Featured-image-Ride-Sally-RideOn the Page –  I have been very dedicated to meal prepping for the week on Sundays for a little over a year now. The benefits include eating healthier and saving time during the week. It feels great to have big check on your to-do list before your Monday morning alarm even goes off.  Real Simple’s January 2016 has a great article, Sunday Prep School, complete with tips and step by step directions minimize your time in the kitchen to maximize your time at the table with your family. The article isn’t online yet, but here is one with some more suggestions: 10 Ways to Speed Up Dinner Prep Times

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On the Web –This one was laugh out loud funny. This is a perfect guide for Valentine’s Day gift giving for couples who might not have romance on the agenda for the weekend. 10 Realistic Dos and Don’ts For Couples with Young Kids  You can read more hilarious posts like this one on the author, Brooke Arellano’s blog Crazy Mama Drama 

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On InstagramI love searching the hashtag #colorcoded because I find the best pictures and people! This week I came across- Done & Done Home Decor with this fabulously color-coded, organized, red craft supplies photo – if this didn’t get picked as one of my Friday Favs then seriously, what would? Also their motto is – We organize your life. Sign.Me.Up.

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Have a great weekend and Valentine’s Day. May you not have to clean up anything in your bed after your kids serve you breakfast with love. Leave me a comment and let me know what your Friday Favorites are. Thanks for reading.

New Year’s Resolutions – 6 Month Check-In

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I can’t believe it, but it is already July. Time for my six month check-in on my New Year’s resolutions (or maybe more appropriately called – The Months When It All Fell Apart!) Click over first to my 4 month check-in and my 2 month check-in so you are all caught up.

Are you back?  Ok – let’s see how I’m doing. I am all for being accountable – so even though these were not the best months for sticking to my resolutions – I am still writing this post.

BE HEALTHY

Weight Watchers Update: I’m still on the WW program, currently in week 27. I switched from the weight loss program to the maintain program after losing a total of 22 pounds. (Full disclosure: I did gain 1 pound one week.) I continued to meal prep every Sunday throughout the school year. Now I have more time to cook each day. I am still eating a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken. But, I am eating more ice cream and drinking more wine! I’m trying to remember my portions and not to over indulge when allowing for a treat.

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Coffee Update: This one has really gone down hill for me!  At the end of the school year I was buying a second cup of coffee a few times a week. I am still brewing a pot at home each morning, but pretty regularly, I pour more than one cup. Here I am enjoying a second cup while reading Amy Poehler’s hilarious “Yes, Please.”

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Exercise:  Do you really even need to ask?? I’m still not exercising. Insert sad emoji face here.

Once a teacher, always a teacher, so I will grade myself.

For my first resolution of BE HEALTHY, I am giving myself a:
C

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Date Night Updates: My husband and I have not gone on any more date nights since my last update. We are hoping to plan a few this summer!  

Quality Family Time Updates:  We are still eating as a family at dinner time and now that Olivia and I are done school, at lunch time, too. Warmer weather always allows for more together time outside and we have been taking advantage of that to the fullest.  

“Me” Time Updates: I am sleeping in a little more now (No need to get up at 4:30am when I don’t need to go to work!) I am still getting up 45 minutes of “me” time at some point throughout the day, whether in the evenings or when Olivia goes to camp in the morning.  

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Remember the big stack of books from the 2 month check-in?  I have started three different books from my list and have not finished any of them!  BUT, since starting “the life changing magic of tidying up,” I have gotten rid of 8 bags of trash, 10 donations bags and an additional 6 bags to go to my school in the fall!!

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“My Life, Unplugged” Update:  This one is a draw for the past two months. In May, I was constantly on my laptop, finishing grades, transferring all my data off my work computer before I had to turn it in for the summer, and all of the million end of the year teacher things one needs to do. Once summer started though, I have been totally unplugged. Off the computer, off my phone, and not even that much TV (minus binge watching Orange is the New Black.)  

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For my second resolution of BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, I am giving myself a:
C+

So, not my strongest showing at a resolution check-in!

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  How are you doing on the six month check-in? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Next follow up will be on September 1st.  Have a great day and thanks for reading.

New Year’s Resolutions – 4 Month Check-In

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Tomorrow is May 1 and time for my four month check-in on my New Year’s resolutions. Click over first to my 2 month check-in so you are all caught up!

Are you back?  Ok – let’s see how I’m doing.

BE HEALTHY

Weight Watchers Update: I’m still on the WW program, currently in week 14. Remembering the larger goal: BE HEALTHY, I have been dedicated to meal prepping every Sunday with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken.  I have indulged a little every once in a while – glass of wine, piece of cake, Easter candy. But a treat every once in awhile is OK.  Planning and portion control are the key factors to success.  I have lost 18.6 pounds.

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Coffee Update: For the most part, I am still only having one cup a day. Cheat days have been St. Patrick’s Day (my extra coffee was an Irish one!) Parent Teacher Conferences (I needed a little pick me up to get through the evening,) and Spring Break week (lots of dining out so I chose decaf coffees over desserts.) I am still brewing at home everyday, but I have bought two Dunkin Donuts and 1 Starbucks (consolation prize at Target for not getting any Lilly Pulitzer.)

Exercise: I’m still not exercising. Insert sad emoji face here.

In true teacher fashion, I will grade myself.

For my first resolution of BE HEALTHY, I am giving myself a:
B-

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

Date Night Updates: My husband and I have had two more date nights since March 1 for a total of 5 so far this year. 

Quality Family Time Updates: As a family we have been excellent about sitting down together at dinner (meal prep helps that.) My husband has been working a lot these past two months, giving my daughter and I a lot of time just the two of us. She helps me around the house with cooking, tidying up and decorating. She loves crossing things off the list when we are shopping and using my cell phone calculator to add up how much money we are spending. We also took our first family outing to a movie – Cinderella.  

“Me” Time Updates: I am still getting up 45 minutes earlier everyday and spending time just on myself in the mornings.  This “me” time has made my days more productive and less stressful.  Click here to read more about my Morning Routine.  

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Remember the big stack of books from the 2 month check-in?  Well, I can cross these two off the list.

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“My Life, Unplugged” Update:  At the two month check-in, I put this one on the lose column.  Now I think I am doing better.  No more phone at the table to Weight Watcher point out my meals, I do that all during meal prep time. I have not been bringing my iPad to bed.  I’m being more present in the moment of things, not worrying about snapping a picture of it or posting it online, but rather truly experiencing whatever I am doing while it is happening.  

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For my second resolution of BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, I am giving myself a:
A-

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  How are you doing on the four month check-in? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Next follow up will be on July 1st.  Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Planning Ahead. 8 Tips to Make Your Week Less Stressful

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We have all done it at some point.  Running around Monday morning, throwing lunches in bags, searching for something to wear, organizing backpacks, dashing out of the house only to find the gas tank almost on E, and speeding so we won’t get to work late. Of course the last minute lunch you packed in awful, but when you open your wallet, you don’t have any cash to get something better.  You do scrounge up a few coins at the bottom of your purse, so now you are at the vending machine and about to eat chips for lunch.  You have started off the week in the most stressful way possible.  How did this happen? Think back to your weekend and see, what could you have done differently?  I have realized that the more I organize in advance, the less stress there is during the week.  Here are my eight tips to tackle before Monday to make you start the week with a smile, not pulling your hair out in frustration.

1. Food – Sunday Meal prep will change your life!  Fill out a meal planner, food shop, organize the lunches and cook what you can before the week starts.  Pre-made lunches that are easy to grab and go will save you time each morning and dinner will be more about spending time at the table together instead of standing around cooking. I use this Meal Planner from partyblog.mgrafico. 

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2. Transportation – If you drive, fill your gas tank and make sure you have all your reusable bags stored in the trunk for any errands you may have to do after work.  If you take public transportation buy your tokens or bus pass for the week.

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3. Money – Go to the cash machine and take out all the money you will need for the week.  Our family uses an envelope system you can read about here: My Organizational Binder

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4. Schedules – Spend a few minutes cross referencing the family calendars to review who is going to be where each day and evening for the week.  Reminding yourself that someone has to work late or there is a parent meeting at school is better on Sunday than the morning of the event.

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5. Clothes – Make sure your outfits for all week are laundered, ironed, and ready to go.  There is no need to stand in front of a closet each morning picking out an outfit.

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6. Electronics – This is really something to do nightly, but challenge your family to make Sunday evenings an unplugged time.  This will allow for quality time together and all the electronics will be fully charged and ready to go on Monday morning.

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7. Entertainment – Check your DVR!  Are all your shows set to record? Even if you know you will be home, you never know if the kids’ bath times will run longer, you will get caught up on a phone call, or any of the other million things that keep you away from the TV.  No problem – your shows are recording.

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8.  Sleep Habits – Sunday is not a day to sleep in.  Get up early, so you will go to bed early.  If this list is too overwhelming, start with this one. Getting a good night sleep is the first key to a non-stressful week.

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Don’t let this list stress you out either.  Like any organizational project, start small. Pick one thing to do this week or coming weekend.  Next week, try and tackle one more thing.  I understand that you don’t want all of your Saturday and Sunday to just be about prepping for the next week.  You want to have fun and relax, too.  That’s why I started Helpful Hump-day Hints… what are small things you can do midweek to cross off your weekend to-do list.  I usually get gas and cash before the weekend because they are easy stop-on-your-way-home-from-work errands. The other six I carve out time each weekend to do.  When Monday comes, I’m ready. And I never eat vending machine chips for lunch anymore!

How do you prep for the week?  What routines make your week stress-free? Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading.

Photo Credits: Christy Chang

My Friday Favorites 03.20.15

 FF BLUE AND GREEN DIAMONDS
Hope everyone had a fabulous week.
Here are all the things I am loving! Enjoy!

On TV – This week I started watching the new Netflix show The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  When I read about it, I knew it had all the ingredients to be great. Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Jane Krakowski, and Ellie Kemper- how can you go wrong with this combination?. They do not disappoint. There are many laugh out loud moments in this comedy about a young woman who moves to New York after being held captive in a bunker for fifteen years.  

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On the Page –  Country Living April 2015 –  a collection of antique stoves, an updated farmhouse reveal, decorating with neutral colors, tasty recipes, and the reoccurring “What is It? What is it Worth?” are just a few of the reasons I keep flipping through this issue. 

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On the Computer-  I am completely guilty of taking a stack of photographs, throwing them in a decorative box and saying, “ok – those are organized.”  Just because they are out of sight and out of mind does not mean they are organized!  Check out How to Organize Photos from Organizing Made Fun

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I absolutely love #5 on this list.  It’s so true, get rid of photos that you don’t want.  I read this tip in Anthony from Sex in the City’s voice, channeling the scene where Carrie crosses off the 76th guest on her wedding invite list.  “Cut throat — I love it. I hope you’re that decisive when it comes to the location and the dress.”  If the photo is of poor quality, a bunch of people you don’t even really know (college party), ex- boyfriends (really, no need) just be cut throat!  Toss them out! 

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On my Pinterest Boards-  I have been very dedicated to prepping meals ahead of time so I am making healthy choices and we can still have family dinners even when my husband and I are working all day.  I found this pin on a new board I am following: Best Blogger Recipes.  The pin took me to a great site New Leaf Wellness and the post 17 Freezer Meal Prep Sessions That Will Change Your Life.  You know me – I love discovering things that will change my life for the better!  

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On the scoreboard – March Madness is in full effect!  I love the NCAA Basketball tournament and look forward to filling out a bracket and watching all of the high stakes games.  This year my alma mater is a #1 seed.  I have them going all the way, even beating Kentucky in the final game!  The last time they won was in 1985, maybe thirty years later they will win the grand prize again.  Good luck to the Villanova Wildcats! V for Villanova, V for Victory!

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What are some of the things you are loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know what made your Friday Favorites list. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.