Currently: Lattes, Yoga, & Cadbury

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Currently: Lattes, Yoga, & Cadbury

 

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Reading: I’m in the midst of reading a bunch of ARCs – one that I’m really thrilled about (and so far is fantastic!) is Homemakers by Brit Morin, the founder of Brit & Co. I’m not going to go into too much detail here – but I’m excited to share my review soon. It’s really refreshing to read a DIY book from a tech perspective, especially since my house is very tech oriented (A is a web developer!) I really need to pick up some fiction soon, this is the longest stretch I’ve ever read any sort of nonfiction in my life; it feels a bit strange.

Drinking: Lattes. I seem to be going through another latte phase and I’ve also gotten to the point where I have a very particular coffee order, which I’m slightly ashamed of. It’s almost hard for me to utter, “triple skim latte, extra foam please” at the counter with a straight face.

Eating: So much quinoa. I’ve been making quinoa bowls for lunch – tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, olive oil and lemon. I can’t get enough of it. So easy to prep for the week and then have in tiny tupperware containers to grab everyday for work. I also pretty much want to put feta on everything right now.

Doing: COUPONING. I never thought this would be me. Then again I swore I would never “settle down” and have a house and learn to cook, but here I am playing Betty Crocker in the kitchen of my house most days of the week. In an effort to be more of an adult I’m trying to be more mindful of my spending ($5.50 lattes notwithstanding, ahem) and decided to give couponing a shot since we seem to spend a ridiculous amount on food. The first time, we saved around $12. However, on Sunday, we saved $40! BOOM. NAILING IT WITH COUPONS.

Getting Back Into: YOGA! Again! I haven’t been able to make it back to my yoga studio in recent months because the class times aren’t lining up with my schedule anymore, so I’m trying to establish a home practice. I rarely pay for apps on my iPhone, but last year I bought Yoga Studio after reading reviews and it’s seriously great. There are pre-made classes for all levels and it’s really easy to make your own classes (they even provide transitions for you!). The classes range in length from 10 minutes to an hour – today I did three short classes – one exclusively rounds of sun salutations. I really can’t rave about this app enough – and I even earned a 75 cent coupon off of egg whites! (Okay, yeah that’s a bit weird.) (Side Note: I’d only recommend this app if you have a decent background in yoga from classes – I know it looks like anyone can do basic asanas, but for correct form and proper alignment it’s really important to have an instructor so you don’t get hurt!)

Watching: I’ve been on a bit of a Brit drama bender. I really can’t get enough of Broadchurch right now. First season was good, but this second season has me hooked. I found myself looking over at A today and gasping, “OMG THERE MUST BE A NEW BROADCHURCH FROM MONDAY!” I don’t watch Dr. Who, so this is my first experience with David Tennant and I kind of adore him. It makes me almost want to try Dr. Who again.

Whining About: Speaking of being an anglophile, the Hershey’s lawsuits against importers of Cadbury and other British chocolate is a very sore subject for me. There’s a British expat store near me and I adore going there and stocking up on all the goods I used to eat when I lived in the UK for grad school. It was such a treat – A and I really splurged around Christmas and got a bunch of holiday goodies and decided it would be our tradition. Well, it won’t be so if Hershey’s has their way. Any British readers want to be my Cadbury importer?

How to Fail at Making Your Own Seltzer

Posted in Creativity, Food, Life | 1 comment

Circa spring 2013 I started drinking seltzer water. After many, many failed attempts to get myself to drink more water, I thought I’d give that weird bubbly stuff a shot. I hated it initially. I used to cut it with a bit of cranberry juice or OJ to power through it. But I weaned myself off the juice (this sounds like I was using steroids) was drinking straight up seltzer. After many trials I also narrowed down my absolute favorites:

  • Perrier Lime
  • Canada Dry Lemon-Lime
  • HONORABLE MENTION: Schweppe’s Lemon-Lime

But at some point I realized that my seltzer habit was becoming a bit expensive and I was really tired of having cans all over the house. I also hated the “OMG AM I OUT OF SELTZER?” panic when I went to grab one with dinner. Enter: Sodastream. My mom bought me a soda stream for Christmas and I was so pumped to make my own flavored seltzer and NEVER GO STORE BOUGHT AGAIN.

Oh my god, was I wrong.

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Making flavored seltzer has possibly been the most difficult challenge of my homeowning life. First I tried the Flavor Essences made by SodaStream. Unfortunately, there are only three flavors – orange, lemon-lime, raspberry. I set up that soda stream got that water all bubbly and was so read to love my lemon-lime seltzer and…

it was terrible.

The worst lemon-lime flavor to ever grace my palate. So I tried my next method: lemon and lime juice! WHAT COULD GO WRONG? I bought the industrial sized bottle of lime juice and added it to my bubbled water…which resulted in a cloudy acidic mess.

Second failure.

Two failures in, I was not discouraged. I started googling various things like “seltzer flavor essence,” “how to make flavored seltzer,” and “dear god why doesn’t anyone know how to make flavored seltzer.”
 
In a very, very strange diet forum that was obsessed with adding flavor to things without the calories (like chocolate flavored water will somehow stop your chocolate craving), I discovered Capella Flavors. There was some vagueness as to what the hell was in this flavor drops and the Nutrition Facts didn’t help to clear up this mystery- but I was all in. There are crazy flavors are like banana split and blue raspberry cotton candy…but I found my one true love: LEMON-LIME Y’ALL. It took me a week and a half to get the drops shipped from California and the day they arrived I thought I had really nailed it. A few drops in, a gentle swirl…

THE PERFECT LEMON-LIME FLAVOR.

But then after drinking it for a bit, I noticed a bit of a strange aftertaste. And when I grabbed the bottle, despite not having spilled anything on it, it was inexplicably sticky. I looked at the bottle for nutrition information and that’s when I saw it,

Propylene Glycol.

Oh. They’re made with antifreeze. Great. And yes, while I know there is somehow food grade propylene glycol and I always try to listen science…

SCIENCE HAS ALWAYS TOLD ME THAT I SHOULD NOT DRINK ANTIFREEZE.

And, as you may have surmised, the anti-freeze drops are out. Not just because of the anti-freeze, but also because of the inexplicably sticky bottles. Damnit. I did a little more research on flavoring and I found packets of lime flavoring on Amazon. Upon pouring these packets into my seltzer, it made the entire bottle start fizzing until it overflowed.

My last ditch effort was buying a (cue my embarrassment on this one) I bought a Skinnygirl Cucumber Lime flavored water syrup. I was hoping I could just use a dash of it, and it’s one of the ONLY syrups for Sodastream that doesn’t have artificial sweetener in it. Unfortunately, the sickeningly sweet syrup is filled with far too much artificial cucumber instead. Also, I really don’t want any actually sweetness to my water…just flavor.
 

VERDICT:

I am back to square one creating my own seltzer. Lately I’ve just been pushing a tiny bit of lemon juice in. It’s not perfect, but it’s tiding me over until I somehow find the perfect flavor. Feel free to chime in with ideas or things you’ve tried.

Plan It! An Interview with Paula Rizzo and my Lists Section Reveal

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Plan It! An Interview with Paula Rizzo and my Lists Section Reveal

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After reading Paula Rizzo’s Listful Thinking, the publisher, Viva Editions, contacted me about my post and to ask if I’d like to interview Paula! This was a perfect collaboration especially since I have a Lists section in my planner directly inspired by Listful Thinking. Paula’s blog, The List Producer is how she got started giving advice and tips on making lists, but she’s also an incredibly busy senior health producer for FoxNewsHealth.com, so a huge thank you to Paula for taking the time to answer my questions!
 

 The Interview

 

What’s the earliest memory you have of making lists?

I don’t really remember making lists when I was small. I was too busy typing up newsletters to hand out to my stuffed animals so they would be informed about what was going on in the house. Yep – I really did that.  I was a junior journalist in training.  But don’t really think I kicked my list making into high gear until I started my career.
 

What’s the silliest or most embarrassing list you’ve created (and are willing to share)?

I was in an elevator once with Gayle King at work. And I completely froze and I didn’t know what to say and so I just said nothing. So I made a list afterwords of all the things I should say if I see a celebrity in the future. I like to be prepared!
 

In your book, you’ve given some great suggestions for digital apps to help with list making. But what are some of your must-have pen and paper supplies?

At my core I’m really a pencil and paper kind of girl. But I’ve adapted to technology and really found some great apps that I love. However I don’t think I could ever give up writing things down.For me I love to write in pencil and I have no idea why. I only write in pen when I am signing books, filling out a greeting card or writing a check. Otherwise I use a mechanical pencil at all times. I also use steno pads at work to write down my to do’s. At home, I typically use reporter’s notebooks. Those are long skinny notebooks and they are perfect for throwing in your purse or into a drawer.  Sometimes I’ll use Post-it notes as well. But that’s just for very short list that I’m gonna throw away right after I complete everything. I use those if I’m running into the drugstore and need a few items.
 

Your blog helped launch you as the master of lists – do you have any organizational tips for fellow bloggers?

When I first started my blog I really fought the idea of having an editorial calendar. Because that’s something that I use at work and I didn’t want this to be like work. It was supposed be fun. But I realized soon enough that if I didn’t have structure and organization in my blogging schedule nothing would get done. So every week I sit down with my interns and we come up with topic ideas for the following week.  We do it and we just pick what we’re going to do the following week. And then that way it’s just much easier to get things done throughout the week with a focused plan.
 

I realized soon enough that if I didn’t have structure and organization in my blogging schedule nothing would get done.

I also use Evernote to capture ideas that I have for blog posts.  I make list of ideas that I have so I can constantly go back to that list and make sure that I don’t forget any brilliant ideas that I had. 

A quick list for my readers: what blogs do you follow regularly?

 
Lauralovesfitness.com

Territrespicio.com

 

The Lists Section

 

 Plan It - Lists

 
I originally had another section in place of lists when I created my planner. But more and more there was information that I wanted to organize and keep in my planner but it didn’t fit into any of my sections. I started brainstorming the things I wanted to keep track of (no matter how silly):

  • TV shows to watch
  • TV shows to catch up on
  • An inventory of my Lush Cosmetics stash (YES THAT IS IMPORTANT TO ME)
  • Books to read
  • Favorite blogs and blogs I’ve been meaning to check out
  • Artists/Songs to listen to
  • my Master To Do List

I soon realized that a Lists section wasn’t a bad idea and at night before bed I’d sit with my planner and add various thinks to the lists that I had thought of throughout the day and I have to say, it’s really nice to write down bits of information that I am always telling myself to remember so I’m not saying,

“Oh, what was that author so-and-so told me about? What was that documentary A and I wanted to watch?”

And they are also great reference lists anytime I want to try something new or see how many bubble bars I have for future baths in the jet tub. (And how much rose jam I am squirreling away from A!) The master to do list is great for long term projects that don’t fall into the other categories of my planner as well. Because really – is there anything better than checking things off to do lists?
 


What lists do you have right now?

Plan It! An Intro to my Personal Planner

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Plan It! An Intro to my Personal Planner

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Plan It! will be a part of my weekly Organize It! series, exclusively focused on the world of personal planners.

 
Every year my friend Sarah and I usually adopt some sort of crafty hobby. We got into scrapbooking back in college, we made cards for every holiday for years, and then this year we decided we both wanted to be a bit more organized and decided to delve into the world of planners. Little did we know that the planning world is ENORMOUS. Between blogs, YouTube and instragram the two of us were overwhelmed. Kikki-k? Filofax? Daytimer? Franklin Covey? There were a million options and none of them were terribly cost-effective. Since neither of us knew whether we’d really get into the planner wrold long-term (SPOILER ALERT: I CANNOT STOP BUYING PLANNER SUPPLIES) we decided to keep it simple with the following supplies:

 

The Sections

Planner sections - grid

All of the supplies were available at staples and I think I spent under $20 for everything! I read a bunch of tutorials online about printing your own inserts (I pinterested for hours.) and I also decided on what my sections would be. I decided on a personal planner – no work stuff – with the following sections:

  • Calendar
  • Blog
  • Health
  • Lists
  • House
  • Finance

Deciding on my sections was the most difficult part – but I thought of the things in my life that I really wanted to organize and keep track of. I brainstormed for a while and I even ended up combining a few sections, since it didn’t make sense to have them separately. For example, I started out with a projects, house, and cleaning as separate sections. I realized that nearly all of my projects revolved around the house, and I was obviously cleaning the house – sections combined! I also originally had a Food section, which I later combined with health (diet and exercise!), since they also go together. Other common sections for planners:

  • Journal
  • Shopping
  • Travel
  • Quotes & Inspiration
  • Goals
  • Notes
  • Home Decor
  • Gardening

 

 

Getting Started

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The first thing I did was decorate my dividers because I knew that would be the simplest step! Washi tape, stickers from Michael’s and VOILA dividers galore! Sarah took the craftier route of tracing dividers on really nice paper and made her own, which is another option. The nice thing about using a mini 3-ring binder is it’s really easily customized. I can swap things in and out as much as I want, I can move things around, I don’t have to stick to certain inserts, etc. In fact, a lot of the printables that I used were actually for larger planners, and I scaled them down for a half sheet! This won’t work for every large printable – but it is often worth it to try it out if you really like a certain design. For paper I recommend buying a thick cardstock for more important things and a thicker than average paper (I bought premium laser paper which is 24 lb weight and 98 bright) and a good paper cutter, I’m using this one right now, but I may try to invest in one that can cut more sheets of paper at once.

Now you need to choose your inserts! I’m going to go through my sections in their own blog posts, but here are links to the places I got all my favorite free printables:

I actually built my planner with nearly all free printables – I only bought one! This is great because with the money I saved I got to buy more washi tape, sticky notes, pens, and stickers galore! Stay tuned this week, I’ll be featuring the Lists section of my planner and a special guest interview!

Are you a planner nerd? What type of planner do you use?