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Crayon Hearts–Not as Easy as They Looked

As usual, a project I thought would be fun and easy peasy, was not quite so easy.  After scanning through Pinterest for a fun valentine idea for my daughter’s preschool party, I stumbled upon crayon hearts.  They looked very cool and very easy to make.  Just break up old crayons into a silicone mold and bake in a 250 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.  i even read a few posts that suggested using only two colors per heart and not using browns, blacks, or grays to get a better result.  Sounds easy right?
Crazily enough, the hardest part of the whole project was peeling the stupid crayons.  I mean, really, how hard should peeling crayons be?  There seem to be a few batches of a certain name brand crayon that had industrial strength glue on them that did not want to let go.  And, some of the crayons slipped right off.  Go figure.  Plus, the molds I bought in the bargain aisle at Target for $2.50 seem to be a bit bigger than the posts I found.  We needed 6+ crayons per heart and needed to make 24 hearts.  That is a LOT of crayons to peel.  A special shout out to those of you who helped peel (however reluctantly it was done).  My daughter helped by breaking the crayons into fourths and helping stuff them in the heart molds.  Luckily, we started this project ridiculously early (like a month before Valentine’s), as we ran out of crayons at one point and had to scrounge and beg for some to finish our last batch.  I could just not bring myself to buy brand new crayons to make these.


In the end, the hearts turned out super cute and my kidlet had so much fun.  I think her friends at school will have as much fun using them as she did making them.  The best part was seeing what they looked like once they had set.  Some of the color swirls turned out very very cool.  She had so much fun she keeps asking to make more!  Sadly (or happily) we are out of crayons again.  Maybe we’ll do it again after I have had the chance to do some thumb strengthening exercises.

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Designing My Own Planner = Perfection

I thoroughly enjoy my new planner.  It took me a long time to find a planner I felt could handle all the things I wanted it to do…and would fit in my purse.  For several nights I searched through websites looking for a planner that would allow me to keep track of all the tasks for both my home and my professional life.  Nothing I found online really fit what I wanted, and ideally, I would have loved to have designed my own planner, but I didn’t think that was possible.  I had an old mini-ring planner hanging around that someone bought me for a graduation gift, and I thought that maybe I could figure out a way to make my own pages and if I was lucky hole punch them in.

On a scouting mission to Staples, I luckily found exactly what I needed.  In their planner aisle, I stumbled upon a system they sell called Arc.  You can pick the shell of your planner system to fit your style and add in whatever parts you would like—including notes pages, to do lists, zipper pockets, plastic dividers, etc.  Each section is really not too expensive at only $3.99 each, and at the time they were 25% off.  I chose the smaller sized shell so that I could fit it in my purse—which came with 60 sheets of lined notepaper.  To achieve my organizational goals, I decided to add a zipper pocket, two angle pockets, a business card holder, and the set of plastic dividers.

In my original idea to make my own planner, I thought it would be helpful to have a set of dry erase sheets where I could record all my to-do lists, cleaning schedule, and grocery list.  Eraseable sheets would cut down on paper waste and keep me from having to redo weekly and monthly task sheets.  The plastic dividers in the Arc system were perfect to mount the sheets I planned to design using Microsoft word tables.  I spent a few more days planning exactly what I wanted to have on my sheets, changing a few things here and there until I was pretty sure I had everything I wanted to record accounted for.  Then, I took the papers to Office Depot and hand them laminated—again, a minimal cost as two of my sheets fit in one piece of laminate.  I made 6 sheets—using only 3 laminate sheets at $1.99 each.  Then, I scotch taped the finished product to the plastic dividers—I have been amazed at how well the scotch tape has held up over the past few months.

Once I started using my planner, I realized a couple of things.  One, I could turn some of the notes pages into an address book section in the back.  Second, the dry erase idea did not work as well as I had hoped.  The marker came off very easily and it was difficult to find a fine enough tip.  A few days later, I found a Lumicolor wet erase overhead marker with a fine tip that works perfectly.  The marker does not wear off as easily, and all I need is a little water on a paper towel to clear off the page.

The only thing the Arc system does not come with is a monthly or weekly calendar section.  I thought this would not be an issue, as I keep my calendar updated on my phone.  Somehow, though, all of the entries I had made in my electronic calendar over a several week period vanished.  I started to remember why I liked the security of having a paper calendar backup in the past.  Now I just need to decide how I want to design it.  I could go out and buy a special punch to add whatever I would like to the planner, or I could just use some of the empty notes pages to design my own.  My frugal side wants to see if I can make the notes pages work before shelling out the more serious cash it would take to buy the punch.  It is not a typical hole punch format, so you do have to buy the special punch if you want to add your custom pages.

I think when anyone goes looking for a planner, it is important to make sure that it can do all of the functions you want it to do.  And, if that specific planner does not exist—try to design your own!

**Just as a special note, no I was not asked nor paid to do this review.  I just really enjoy this product allowing me to design a planner that fits my needs.  Not perfect, but close.

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These Days I Try to Strive for “Good Enough”

I by no means have the answers to how to keep the machine that is my household well-oiled or expertly cleaned 100% of the time.  This morning, I woke early to get some grocery shopping in before taking my daughter to an early morning free kids movie.  I had to go to multiple stores and get gas, which put me with enough time to unload the groceries and dress and feed the kid before heading out.  I left all of the beds unmade, dishes in the sink, and laundry half finished.  I did feel a twinge of guilt that I didn’t have everything entirely together and that my house resembled a small wattage bomb going off in each room, but I knew spending time with my daughter and her grandpa were more important than making sure my house looked perfect before I left.

Striving for perfection has been an aim of mine my entire life—for some reason.  The need for things to be just so and done better than expected is not really something I learned.  I’ve been like this since I was a kid.  Just ask my mom about how organized my room was when I was younger.  It is definitely not something I picked up as an adult.  I have learned though, that there is a balance between things being clean and letting cleaning be the thing.  If my daughter’s stuffed animals are all lined up sleeping on a body pillow on her floor all week, what’s the harm?  If the laundry sits in the basket an extra day without getting put away, but I get some quality cuddle time in with one of my loves instead—the day goes on and is much better for the personal interaction than there being perfect order.

As a working mom (at least during the school year), mother of a preschooler, and taker on of many side projects library related, my brain is often full of the many things that need to get done on the work, professional, or home front.  In the recent past, this would overwhelm my memory to the point where I would start a project and get interrupted by other things often enough that I forgot what I was doing in the first place—until in a flash of panic it would come back to me.  Or I would go to the store and buy many things we could use but not the thing I went to the store to get to begin with.  My brain was full.  Overloaded.  Overtaxed.  There are only so many things you can juggle before all the balls get dropped—at least some of the time.

I knew I needed a change.  But how?  One thing that really helped was reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is currently in paperback and not too expensive to snatch up.  The things that have stuck with me most about the book is about how to be happier in the life you currently have, to be true to yourself, and to give yourself a good platform to jump off from by focusing on the things that matter most in your life.  I plan to blog more about Gretchen and her wisdom at another time—but for now, I recommend going out and picking up the book!

To start my transformation, I knew I needed to do something to give myself a better plan to manage the daily and weekly responsibilities of life in general.  Also, very important to achieving my goals was to focus on the things that really matter—my family, the things that make me feel like me, and my professional aims.  This was a very lengthy process—and still ongoing—many of the steps I will talk about here with you.  Much of my zen these days has come from de-cluttering our life, setting goals and plans, keeping track of tasks better (mainly by not relying on the forest of post-it notes that used to litter my desk)), and doing the things that make me smile.

Don’t be fooled, I probably still clean way more than necessary—but I’ve definitely tried to take it down a notch.  Mainly, I have learned that sometimes good enough is better than perfect.  Allowing yourself to be good enough in some areas gives you the ability to truly enjoy or excel in others.

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