Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY: Mini Binder Purse Companion & 14 Free Printables!

Have you ever been grocery shopping and got to the end of the store only to find that you've forgotten several items on your list that are scattered all over previous aisles? I don't have enough digits to count... So, it got me thinking of how to combat this problem and my solution is this handy mini binder purse companion for several areas of my life, including grocery shopping! In this post are all the free printables you need to make your own mini binder. Just slip it into your bag and you'll have it whenever you need it. Here's how I did mine.

*First, gather your materials. If you choose to buy an Avery brand Mini Binder, it will have a pocket, thus making the 1 sheet of card stock/tape/scissors/ruler unneeded. 

This step is very annoying important. While Avery has lined filler paper for sale online and at most office supply stores, they and many others have yet to create a simple pack of 5.5 by 8.5 inch plain filler paper. You don't want lined because the lines will show up behind the template. Therefore, do this nearly as simple step instead. You'll already be at the supply store anyway ;) Go find yourself a ream (pack of) plain printer paper. Got mine for $2.49 at OfficeMax. Go over to the printer services station and ask them to cut your ream of paper in half. This costs $1.79. My OfficeMax didn't have this option but most should have a hole-punch machine that can hole punch your paper for you. If not, my templates come with a pre-printed guide for you to follow!

*Now that you have your halved paper, simply stack it in your printer, print out the templates you're going to use and hole punch your sheets following my guide of black dots!

*Next, assemble your binder using your mini dividers. I used Avery's label printing service to add the categories of Calendars/Groceries/Blog/Personal/Notes. See below for a full list of available templates.

*If your binder doesn't come with a pocket, you can whip up a quick pouch like I did. I just took 1 sheet of card stock, measured, cut, and folded it into the above shape and taped it together. I also just used tape to attach it to my binder in case I want to change to another option later. I plan to use this pouch for pens and coupons!

*And there you have it! A purse friendly binder with several helpful pages to organize your life!

To Do List/Reminders Template
Monthly Calendar Template
Weekly Calendar Template

Grocery Expenses Tracker Template
*Use the master grocery list as a reference page. Write down the items you buy most often at the grocery store and use to look back on when writing new grocery lists.

Master Grocery List Template
*For the grocery map templates, it requires some planning. Take a quick snapshot of your grocer's aisle signs to find out what's on each aisle. Then, transfer these items onto the line under each aisle so that when you make a grocery list, simple categorized your items under the appropriate aisle! Now, when you're in your store, simply flip open your binder and set it in the buggy and buy from your list on each aisle! Never forget an item again!
Grocery List Map: Bakery-Aisle 3
Grocery List Map: Aisles 4-9
Grocery List Map: Aisles 10-15
Grocery List Map: Aisles 16-21
Grocery List Map: Aisles 22-Misc.
Blog Ideas Template
Personal Expenses Ledger Template
Password Keeper Template
Notes Template

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY: Craft Bucket List Sticks

If you're anything like me, I have tons of crafts and DIY's pinned on my pinterest boards. Sadly, they most often go unseen and worse, undone. And believe me, I hoard pins only to sift through them every once in a while, none of my cute ideas ever making it to fruition. But, no more! As I've said, most of my projects come out of boredom or need, accompanied by a tight budget. So, I whipped up this quick (and I mean super quick) DIY to help foster a more creative spirit and hopefully get some of these crafts done!
- any type of wooden stick (Popsicle/skinny sticks)
- paint colors of your choice
- assorted paintbrushes
- marker

** Simply scour your Pinterest boards for the names of your favorite crafts and copy them onto your sticks with your marker.**

** You can paint your sticks in any way you like. Several dots of each color per stick would look cute. **

** They'll be dry by the time you finish painting the last one. I only needed one coat. **

** Whenever you're feeling crafty, simply pull one of your sticks out at random and get creating! **

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tips: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hi there! Yesterday, I returned home from my five day stay in Orlando. My friend and I visited Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for three days to see Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley for the first time :) We had a wonderful time thanks to some small tips that made a huge difference that I thought I would share in case anyone else wants to visit the magical world of Harry Potter. I highly recommend it :) So, here they are. 

1.  Package deal: The best thing we did was purchase our tickets in a Harry Potter Universal Package. It came with three park-to-park tickets, two breakfasts at the Harry Potter parks (The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron), access to City Walk clubs with no cover fee, an adorable welcome package and best of all, early admission to Diagon Alley all three days. Yes, it's pricey but you will feel it's well worth it the day you leave. 

2. Early Admisson: If you purchase the package, you will be let into Universal Studios (US) an hour before the park opens to the public. So, during peak times, park hours are moved to 8am allowing early admission to begin at 7am. What they don't tell you is this. They let you in earlier. Here's how we did it. We arrived at the parking deck at 5:45 and got in line at the US turnstiles. They open the gates at around 6:25 allowing us to be guided to Diagon Alley to wait in line again until about 6:45 where we are let in. Then most everyone gets in line for Gringotts, all around 15 minutes before you're even supposed to be let into the park at 7am. So, when you go, check to see what the opening hour is, and plan to be in line at the gates an hour prior. This hour is precious time where only those with early admission have access to the park. 

3. Hotel: If you're not staying at an on site resort, try to book a hotel that is on Universal Boulevard. This is the road that Universal Studios is on. During peak times, traffic can get crazy and the lights are really slow to change so, only having to turn left or right onto Universal Boulevard saved us a lot of hassle getting to the park early in the morning and going back midday when we left for a break. 

4. Wait times: Diagon Alley opened it's doors officially on July 8th. We went the 12th-16th when crowds were still considered "heavy". Wait times for The Gringotts ride spiked to 6 hours by noon. Our biggest fear was that we wouldn't be able to see all of both parks in three days. However, because of our early admission and two other factors to be discussed next, we rode and saw everything in both parks (Harry Potter and non) at least twice, all in the first day. And we left two hours before the park closed. So, don't let wait times or crowds scare you away. It is definitely possible. 

5. Schedule: The best day to visit Diagon Alley and both parks in general is on Sunday. Even though it's on the weekend, nobody is there. I mean, nobody. We rode Gringotts twice that morning and visited every shop in both parks way before lunch. And the whole day is like that. Monday and Tuesday the crowds kick back up to the usual high so if you can plan a Sunday into your trip, do so. I also recommend it being one of your first few days where your feet are still good to carry you through everything :)

6. Single Rider: Unless you are traveling with a big group, single rider lines are the way to go for all rides and attractions. Simply choose that entrance, walk with your friends all the way there, wait in like for like, 5 minutes, and re-ride a thousand times. While I would recommend going through the regular line at Forbidden Journey and Gringotts at least once to see the sights, doing single rider thereafter will allow you to enjoy the ride over and over again. While others waited for four hours for Forbidden Journey, my friend and I rode it 5 times in a row, walking right onto the ride each time. And 99% of the time, we would get on the same cart or at least the adjoining carts. 

7. Rain: Rain will become your friend. Don't pack up if you see storm clouds because that's what everyone else will be doing. Embrace the cooling water and run to all the rides that now have no wait. Hours after it clears up, crowds will still be lighter than normal. In Orlando, a good rainstorm hits around 5 o'clock each afternoon, religiously. Roller coasters will still operate unless there is lightning. Good thing the two best HP rides are indoors :) 

8. Grub: The food at The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron are cheaper than most places at the park. Except for breakfast for some weird reason, however you get two free with the HP package ;) But we decided to "splurge" for an English dinner on our last night at TTB only to find it was $12 on average per entree. And you get a lot of food, really good food. Delicious shepherds pie and apple pie. Mmmm pie. 

9. Ask around: The HP workers are now your new mates. In Diagon Alley, there's a covered area in the back right called Carkitt Market where two shows are performed hourly, the witch songstress Celestina Warbeck and the ridiculously magical puppet show of The Tale of the Three Brothers. However, once you're in the park, there aren't any posted schedules of the shows. There are however, men walking around with black outfits and iPads with the schedules on them. Ask them when they are, you don't want to miss them!
*Carkitt Market

10. Surprises: No, not the good kind. My last tip is to plan for the unexpected. During our trip, there were travel companies boasting 500+ fifteen year olds that spoke no English whatsoever, guided by about four travel guides. They literally engulfed the entire park. Every line, they were there, most of the time loudly chanting songs or cutting in line. So, if you're a person with a low tolerance for crowds (hello) or have the patience of a newborn (me again), seriously just prepare for anything. Speaking of which, now is not the time to look cute and buy new shoes. Wear your old faithful's and be sure to bring some band aids because you will get blisters, calluses, cuts, or if you're lucky enough like me, all of the above. 

Bonus tip!
Most people don't know this (I saw no one else at the park do it) but outside of Diagon Alley in London there is a red phone booth that is the public entrance to the Ministry of Magic. Once inside, you can dial 62442 or 'MAGIC' and it will connect you to a delightfully fun phone call :)

So, there are my tips on how to get the most out of your vacation to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hope you can visit soon! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quick and Dirty DIY: Recycling Sorter

Hey guys!
Today I wanted to share a quick project that will tidy up your current recycling set-up. For the past year, we've gotten by with two trash cans: one for trash and the other for all types of recycling. It's worked alright until we saw what my dad had to go through on "Dump Days". We'd get confused/lazy and throw recyclables into the trash can, forcing my dad to dutifully sort through both our main recycle bin and our trash. YUCK. So, my mom and I went to stores to find a better option. Problem is, recycling options are expensive!!! So, this is what we bought to handle our trash.
Yes, that is a clothes sorter! However, it makes the perfect recyclables sorter! We bought this for $18.99 from the best store ever (Target, of course) but Walmart also sells the exact same one here
So, next we bought these trash bags we use in our regular trash can. They have drawstrings and odor protection. Awesome!
Simply fit the trash bags around your sorter the same way you attach the drawstring mesh bags and you now have three lined compartments!
To make things color friendly, we use the blue bag for plastics, the white bag for paper, and the gray bag for metal. We don't discard much glass so we simply use a grocery bag for that. It may not be the most attractive choice but it does the job and when it comes time to take out the trash, simply remove your trash bags and pull up the drawstrings for a one step recycle! You'll be going green in no time :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tips: Ladies, Learn Stick!

Today I thought I'd use this post as an opportunity to encourage a little equal opportunity on a skill not often taught to women: how to drive a manual car. 
First, let me tell you a little story about how I was forced learned to drive stick. It was four days before my sophomore year of high school. I had been in a small accident earlier in the summer (NOT my fault!) that totaled my beloved Beetle. RIP. It was down to the wire and I still didn't have a car. Enter a decent, fire engine red Chevy Cavalier with low gas and low mileage, one owner. Perfect! One small was a 5 speed. So, at 16 years old, two days before my first day of school, I taught myself how to drive a manual. 

**My car and its inelastic demand curve to represent the ridiculous cost of a locksmith to retrieve your keys**

In my humble opinion, I think knowing how to drive both automatic and manual lends itself to versatility in case of accidents or last minute scenarios where you have to drive someone else's car. Plus, most men don't even give a second thought to assuming a woman knows how so it's a fun thing to be able to do. ;)

So, here's a few tips that got me through it in less than two days.
~Find a hill. The very first thing I did was back my car down to the bottom of my hilly driveway, stop, and practice driving back up the hill without stalling. This will prepare you for the dreaded uphill stop sign/light when a monstrous truck is inches away from your bumper.
~Find your sweet spot. Every manual car has a sweet spot in the clutch that, in short, catches and allows you to press the gas and accelerate. It'll be a little bit different for each car, especially if it's a used car. Mine, for instance, was driven to college by a young man who caused me to replace the clutch not soon after purchasing my car.
~Scope out rural roads. My best indicator of day to day driving came when my dad took me on a rural highway with lots of stop signs that stretched for miles. It was an ideal opportunity to practice accelerating through all five gears and back down. It's all about having a small ability to multitask between the clutch, the shifter, and the ridiculous noises my poor engine was making as I maxed out my RPM's :D
~Turning. 99% of the time you will need to be in 2nd gear to make a turn. Just in case you didn't know, it's always your best bet. The "just pick C" of the auto world.
~Stay positive! Lastly, just keep at it. The only real way to learn is to get in a manual car and go for it. You will forget what order your shifter is in. You will stall...countless the most inopportune times (like in the school parking lot with a truck full of good looking guys behind you). 

Just keep at it and laugh at yourself in the process!
How many of you ladies out there already know how to drive stick? Have you ever been assumed to not know how? Let me know!