Thursday, December 12, 2013

DIY Planner and Journal

It's that time of year again... time to start thinking about new planners and calendars to keep yourself organized for the new year. I have tried so many different planners over the years, I've just about given up trying to find the perfect one. I have to have a paper planner as well as my Calendar app on my phone. In fact, I use both my phone's calendar app and Cozi, which helps me keep the kids' schedules in check (and Big Sis can enter and edit her own activities). 
I was browsing Pinterest (as I tend to do), looking for ideas for the new Smash Books I found on clearance at Michael's, and started seeing the Smash Books being used as day planners. I really want to use mine as scrapbooks, so I searched for other planner ideas. I found one I thought was really cute and simple from Entering Dreamland. She took a regular journal and turned it into her own day planner and journal. 

I got this journal on Sunday at the Single Moms' Holiday Party. I love it. I love the color scheme, and the quote is awesome: "a woman should be two things: Classy and Fabulous." (Coco Chanel, if you couldn't see.)

It has 120 pages, so I counted out 52 pages for the weekly calendar pages. I decided that I was going to break up the remaining pages into two sections: Notes and 1000 Things I Am Thankful For.

Here is how I organized my week on the page. I have one week per set of pages. I want the calendar on one side (the right) and a place for journaling or other things I may need to write down (notes for meetings or my classes, for example).

Little Sis gave me a glitter gel pen that I used to write the dates. I have added a set of those pens to my wish list on Amazon.

Here is the first page of journaling I have done. I know New Year's Resolutions are cliche. But I always like the idea of starting new and making choices to make myself a better person. I have found in recent weeks that journaling has a calming effect when I'm feeling stressed. I searched Google for quotes on New Year's Resolutions and found these. Notice I have more room for a doodle or two when I actually start using the planner.
Here is the view of both pages. On the following pages, I did the day first, then the date. I thought it looked neater that way.

Here is the page that starts  my 1000 Things I Am Thankful For. I started on the back page at number 1000 and counted backward. I like that I had enough room at the top for my title. I don't intend to just write a list, but this gives me a launchpad for it. I figured I could continue to draw or use creative lettering to fill in these pages. I could also add pictures.

To separate my sections, I used colored paperclips. I don't like things sticking out from my books, especially if I have them in my purse or tote. I also figured the paper clips won't lose stickiness (like flags) and the likelihood of losing them is low (and if I do, they are easily replaced). The journal has a ribbon marker I will use to mark the week.

I am very excited to start using this planner.

What kind of planner do you like to use? Electronic? Paper? Do you make your own? What are the must-have sections that you cannot live without?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Powerocks Magicstick - Review Coming

Powerocks has offered me a Magicstick portable charger to test and review. I'm so excited! My first review!

I am usually running out of battery on my iPhone 4s by mid-day. I always carry a portable battery charger with me, just in case. I also carry a cord in my car. I hate the idea of being without my phone in an emergency.

When I go to Disneyland, I usually have to charge my phone from below 10% at least twice. I am really excited to see what kind of juice a Magicstick can give me!

Here are some specs from their website:

  • Charges standard smartphone and other digital devices such as Bluetooth headsets, cameras, GPS, e-readers, and more

  • 2800mAh battery capacity provides up to 2 full charges before needing recharging

  • Lightweight & Powerful: Perfect for work, vacation, and every day on-the-go

  • Engineered with smart chip technology to prevent damage or over charging

  • Aluminum housing for durability & safety

  • Fun color assortment for personal style expression

  • Charges as fast as a standard wall charger in an electrical outlet

  • Check power status with a push of button

  • Easy and intuitive use

  • Included carrying pouch

    BATTERY TYPE: Lithium ion
    INPUT: 5.0 V / 0.55 A
    OUTPUT: 5.0 V / 1 A
    PRODUCT WEIGHT: 2.6 oz.
    PACKAGED WEIGHT: 5.18 oz.
    SIZE: Length: 3.622” Diameter: 0.866”

    Stay tuned for my thorough review!

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    Thursday, November 28, 2013

    Thanksgiving was a success!

    When does anything ever go as planned?

    Last night, I found out my mom wasn't feeling well, so I would have to supply the pie and rolls as well as the turkey. I had a whole menu planned out, but I had to pare back some of it.

    So this morning, I braved Stater Bros. for the pie, rolls, and the onion and apple I needed for the turkey (more on that later).

    Cranberry Sauce with Apple (from Cozi Family Calendar)


    • 1 12-ounce bag for fresh cranberries 
    • 1 large apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (I used Macintosh)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup water

    Directions (with my modifications)
    1. Line a 8x4 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. (I skipped this step. I put the finished sauce in a plastic container with a lid, since we were traveling to grandma's with it.)
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries (reserve 6-8 cranberries for garnish) with the apple, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, about 15 minutes.
    3. Scrape the cranberry sauce into the prepared pan and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. Invert the jelly onto a serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Place the reserved cranberries on top of the mold. Slice with a serrated knife before serving.

    Brined Turkey with Sage-Thyme Butter (from Cozi Family Calendar)

     I used all the ingredients called for, except for the items needed to make gravy. I also added half a Granny Smith apple, 1 lemon, and half a white onion (all quartered) to the cavity of the bird.

    My turkey was bone-in breast only, so I have a lot of the sage-thyme butter left over. I have chicken breasts in the freezer, so I plan on using it for a yet-to-be-created recipe.

    The turkey taking a rest before heading to grandma's.

    All carved up...

    With the stuffing (boxed - made with 1 cup butter and veggie broth and the other half of the onion from the turkey).

    All done!

    Time for dessert. I saw this on Pinterest. The original had what looked like brown M&Ms on the eyes and nose, but this was close enough.

    All in all, the kids liked the turkey. There were some bits of the sage and thyme under the skin (since I didn't have a food processor, I couldn't blend it until smooth), but they just brushed that off. I had a hard time getting them to try the cranberry sauce, but Big Sis eventually ate it with her turkey. They didn't try the stuffing or grandma's potatoes. They did enjoy the fox pumpkin pie, too. :)


    Sneak Peek!

    Here are a couple teaser pics for my upcoming post about my Thanksgiving meal. 

    Unfortunately I forgot to take the in-progress pics of the bird, but my hands were covered with sage-thyme butter and raw bird juice. I will definitely give a review of the recipe and my modifications.  

    I did get in-progress pics of the cranberry sauce, though. That looked and smelled so good as I was making it. Can't wait to try it!

    The stuffing was a box mix, but I added a few things. I'll post those tips, as well (no pic as it's still in the oven).

    Not bad for my first attempt at the bulk of the Thanksgiving feast. Big Sis and grandma took over the potatoes and I now have a store-bought pie and Kings Hawaiian rolls because my mom isn't feeling well and won't be joining us. 

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Trying again...

    So I've done a 365 Photo Project since 2010. I always get about half way through January and quit. This year, I only did ONE picture (from yesterday).

    So, I'm going to do it again in 2014. I hope to actually stick with it. Maybe even have a weekly meme where I can get others to join me and then I can share their pictures and blogs. I might even have Big Sis participate (especially the week I'm at RFK, or if they're on vacation with their dad)...

    So, here is the official countdown...


    I'm cooking for Thanksgiving with the help of Cozi!

    For the first time ever, I'm cooking for Thanksgiving dinner! I bought all my ingredients tonight (except the fresh herbs, which I'll get at Sprout's).

    Here's what's on the menu:

    Brined Turkey with Sage-Thyme Butter (Cozi recipe)
    Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole (All Recipes)
    Creamy Mashed Potatoes (Food Network)
    Cranberry Sauce with Apple (Cozi)
    Pecan Praline Cheesecake (Cozi)

    I'm also making stuffing (probably from a box, since the kids won't like all the extra stuff in it) and corn. My mom is bringing the crescent rolls and pumpkin pie.

    The turkey recipe includes a recipe for gravy from the drippings.

    I am so excited. The awesome thing is that Cozi includes a full plan for Thanksgiving dinner - from a to-do list, and shopping lists for all the recipes they have listed (I am not making all they have on their site).

    They also have fun graphics to get the kids to help you set the table!

    Informal Dining Setting

    What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Any good recipes you want to share? Put the link in the comments!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!


    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    11/24 - Pie and Praise

    One of my favorite fellowship nights at church - the annual Pie and Praise!

    Pumpkin, blueberry apple crumb, pumpkin streusel cheesecake... Talk about a sugar-induced coma!

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Crock Pot Roast Beef

    This was the easiest thing I have ever made in the crock pot, and it cost me about $5.

    I had some coupons for Von's (Safeway in Southern California) and one of them was a 5% off from the meat department. I found a Top Round Beef roast with a 50% off sticker. The day I bought it was the "sell by" date. I think it came out to about $4.50 for the 2+ lb roast. I took it home and froze it.

    A couple days ago, I took it out of the freezer, expecting to make it for Shabbat dinner. However, Big Sis was sick, my friend had other plans, so it sat in the fridge.

    I knew I had to make it today, or risk having to throw it out. I browsed Pinterest for "easy" crock pot roast, and found one that needed three seasoning packets. I don't buy those because of the excess of processed ingredients and MSG, but I did have some homemade Italian Dressing Mix.

    So I put the roast in my big crock pot. I sprinkled the Italian Seasoning over it (probably 1.5 packets worth, since I didn't measure), and drizzled the last of the EVOO from my bottle over the top. I set it on low before I left the house, and when I came home 9.5 hours later, it was falling apart.

    Both kids loved it, Big Sis asked for seconds, and I can't wait to take some to work with me tomorrow for lunch. I'll shred the leftovers for tacos, another easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy meal my kiddos love.

    Here's a picture of my plate. (I use the plastic Disney ones when we don't have company.) I also realized when I got home I was out of rice and the girls don't like mashed potatoes (and I had forgotten to buy some yesterday to put in the crock pot with the roast). So I made the package of Birds Eye steamers of rigatoni and broccoli. 4 minutes to perfection.


    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Egg Rolls and Stir Fry!

    Dinner last night was AH-MAY-ZING! I love when meals are a huge hit, and I had to bring down the pride when we were all sitting around being stuffed after dinner.

    We had egg rolls, which I had made before, and something else I whipped up, stir fry (never made it before). Everything was quick and easy - I think it took less than an hour when all was said and done.

    Ingredients you'll need:

    2.5 pounds ground turkey
    1 large carrot (finely shredded)
    2 small-medium carrots (chopped into bit-size pieces)
    1 medium to large zucchini (finely shredded)
    egg roll wrappers
    frozen broccoli florets
    frozen sugar snap peas (you can substitute fresh for frozen for both)
    stir-fry noodles
    teriyaki sauce
    salt and pepper


    1. In large skillet, add the ground turkey and shredded carrot and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper (I used fresh ground sea salt and pepper). Add about 1/4 cup of  teriyaki sauce. Cook until turkey is browned. 

    2. Thoroughly drain turkey mixture. I used a strainer over a sauce pan to let it drain completely. You do not want wet meat when you wrap your rolls.

    **For this next step, things can get a little tricky if your work space is even a tiny bit wet. I used a wooden cutting board. If you use your counter, I would wipe it after each roll to ensure it's dry. Start by lining a large plate or cookie sheet with wax paper to prevent sticking (I didn't do this last time, and they stuck to the plate, creating holes that caused problems while frying).**

    3. Once your turkey is drained well (I just lifted the strainer to check to see how much liquid was dripping), lay out one wrap. Spoon a small amount (less than 1/4 cup) into the middle of the wrap. Fold over one corner and tightly roll and tuck under the corner. Fold up the side corners, making sure there is no gap. Finish rolling towards the opposite corner. Use a little bit of water to seal. Place it on the wax-paper lined plate.

    **If you are using a fryer, go ahead and start heating up the oil. While it's heating, let's start the stir-fry.**

    4. In a large skillet (you can use the same one from the turkey) or wok, heat a small amount of oil (to coat the bottom). Add the carrots. (At this time, I started steaming the sugar snap peas in the steamer bag they came in.) After about a minute, add the frozen broccoli (if you're using fresh, add them later, after the noodles). When the sugar snap peas are done (mine took about 4 minutes in the microwave), add them (with the liquid). 

    **My noodles were refrigerated, so they only required a minute in the microwave, which I put in after the peas were done. If you are using dry noodles, check the directions to prepare them and start that accordingly. You don't want your veggies to sit for too long in the hot pan.**

    I added the noodles along with the 1/2 cup of water. The noodles came with a teriyaki package, but I used the sauce I already had. I added about 1/4 cup, and continued the fry. I also added the left over turkey mixture. 

    5. If you are using a fryer, it should be hot by now. If you are not using a fryer, put oil in a pan so there is about an inch of oil on the bottom. To test the heat, put a small piece of bread in the oil. If it starts frying right away, it is hot enough. Put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet or in a cake pan. Several paper towels in the bottom of a square pan work great, too, as you can stand the egg rolls up, allowing for a more thorough draining. But if your oil is hot enough, and you rolled them tightly enough, you shouldn't have a lot of oil collecting in the wrap.

    Only fry 3-4 at a time. This allows room to move them (without splattering oil) and also allows the oil to heat back up quickly (too many will cause it to cool too much, causing the egg rolls to be greasy). Fry until they are a golden brown all over. Remove, and place on the draining rack. Continue until all are cooked.

    6. Here's the best part!! Serve with sweet and sour sauce (I like La Choy) or ketchup (kids' choice - blech). I also served with white rice because the kids didn't want the stir fry.

    Kids' Reaction:

    Little Sis liked it. For some reason, I couldn't get her to give me a real smile. Even with carrots and zucchini in the egg roll, there were no "faces" or problems!

    Big Sis even liked it! (Don't mind the flood of ketchup on her plate. She likes ketchup on rice and used the excess to dip her egg roll.)

    My plate. I had seconds of everything. 

    Off to reheat the leftovers for lunch......

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