Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Top 5 Ways My iPhone Keeps Me Organized

Posted by Devin

Last week the unthinkable happened: I shattered my iPhone screen when I dropped it on the sidewalk while carrying in groceries (multitask much?). I was devastated! I knew I would have to either get it fixed or get a new one. And fast.

Now let me just say here that I never thought I would be one of those people that loved a phone. Up until two years ago I still had a flip phone (which according to Schmidt on New Girl means I was either poor or a time traveller) and no desire to get anything else. And then my darling husband completely surprised me with an iPhone for Christmas. At first I was kind of like "Oh... Wow... Ok, thanks!" but then my super thoughtful guy started to explain to me that I would no longer have to carry my camera, notebook, day planner, or grocery lists around with me in my purse and reassured me that this phone was going to make my life easier (and my purse lighter). And boy was he right! 

So in light of my recent re-appreciation of my phone (yes, I DID get a new one), I am going to share the top five ways my iPhone keeps me organized. If you haven't learned this about me yet, I love organization. It's no wonder I love my phone! Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Reminders

One of the greatest things about my iPhone is that it's like I have a personal assistant with me all the time. I can bark out orders to it like "Remind me to start dinner in the crockpot in the morning!" or "Remind me to pay the bills when I get home!" and it will always faithfully remind me to do so. I feel like Miranda Priestly on The Devil Wears Prada! I should really think about naming my phone Emily. Now if Apple can just figure out a way for my phone to actually DO those things for me like Emily does for Miranda, that would be even better. ;)

In addition to these random reminders I need occasionally, there are also things I need to remember on a regular basis that my iPhone helps me with. Every Monday morning my phone reminds me to check my boys' on-line grades and classroom newsletters which is such an easy task for me to forget. And there is nothing worse than missing a trash pick-up day. Not a problem anymore since I get a prompt reminder on those mornings to take out the trash. No more overflowing trash at my house! And no more flaky, over-loaded mama who can't remember to get things done!

If you are not familiar with the Reminders feature on your iPhone, I highly recommend you get familiar with it. Because who doesn't need a personal assistant?!! 

2. Notes

As I said before, I used to carry a notebook around with me in my purse. It added a bit of weight to carry on my shoulder, but I always had things I needed to write down so I liked to keep it with me all the time. That has definitely been replaced by my phone.

I currently have 12 separate lists in the Notes section of my iPhone. These range from To Do lists to Blog Ideas to an on-going list of Ideas for Christmas Presents for loved ones. It's all there on my phone, ready for me to check or add to them as needed. 

And one of the most useful lists I keep on my phone is my Weekly Menu. I do my grocery shopping on Thursdays, so every Wednesday night I fill in the next week's dinner schedule on my menu list. This way I know what I need to buy at the store the next day and I can refer to it throughout the week to see what I was planning on preparing each day. I can shuffle meals if need to and I delete them off my list once we have eaten them. If I get to the end of the week and I see that we skipped a certain dinner, I can use it for a meal early in the following week. This really helps me to be an efficient meal planner and a good grocery budgeter. And on this note, let's move on to number 3!

3. Grocery iQ

I have always viewed my role as a stay-at-home mom as a JOB. There are many responsibilities that go along with this job and I try to do my best at each of them, just as I would if I were heading into an office each day (but my commute is SO much nicer than poor Jake's). Grocery shopping is one of my weekly tasks that keeps me "on my toes", so to speak. It always presents unique challenges to me to: 1. Limit my visits to the grocery store to once a week without forgetting anything I need, 2. Stick to my budget and keep from over-spending while shopping, and 3. Be efficient with my time so I can get the heck out of Walmart and go home! The Grocery iQ app (free and available from the App Store) helps me to do all three. Here's Cash giving Walmart the "Peace out!"

Grocery iQ is basically my weekly grocery shopping list that I can add items to throughout the week. It allows me to organize my lists by aisle and I can even arrange my aisles in the order they are laid out in my favorite stores! Once I have arranged my aisles on the app (which you only have to do once if you always shop at the same store like I do, or you can create separate stores with unique aisle orders), it will automatically arrange items I add to my list into which aisle they belong in (dairy, deli, bread, baking, etc.) and voila! My list is in perfect order when I'm ready to do my grocery shopping! If you are a frequent grocery shopper, you can understand how having your shopping list written down in order can make your trip so much shorter and more efficient.

In addition to these conveniences, Jake also has this app on his phone and can add items to it or remove them if he happens to swing by the store and pick them up. It's great, folks. Anything that allows me to limit my time at the grocery store gets an A+ from me!

4. Goodbudget

Goodbudget is an extra app that you will need to download from the App Store if you would like to have it on your iPhone. It's free and easy to add to your phone. It used to be called EEBA (Easy Envelope Budget Aid) and I wrote quite extensively about it in my post on Envelope Budgeting for Busy Families. And since I have already written so much about this, I will keep this section brief. If you are a family that tries to maintain a set budget, this app will simplify your efforts and keep you organized. As the makers of this app state, it helps you "save for big expenses, share budgets with the people who matter most, and create a budget that actually works." Honestly, without this app on my iPhone, I can't imagine trying to stay organized on our budget. Love this app.  

5. Calendar

I suppose this one seems kind of obvious, but switching from a physical/paper-and-pen day planner was a big change for me. And not exactly a giant leap into the 21st century since electronic planners have been around for quite awhile, but the fact that it's all on my phone and not an extra device is super convenient. I now keep track of all my appointments and kiddos games and practices and loved ones birthdays and various events on the Calendar on my phone.

I'm not going to say that I think the iPhone calendar is perfect. The display options for daily/weekly/monthly events leave a little to be desired in my opinion (listen up Apple quality control peeps, since I KNOW that my blog is your go-to reference for product reviews), but there are many things I do like about it. I like that I can enter in recurring events and have them show up every week without having to write them down over and over again. I like that my husband's calendar is synced with mine so we both know what's happening with our family's schedule. I like that I can enter in the address for an upcoming event and then when the time comes to go I can simply click on that address and be automatically directed to a map telling me how to get there. I like that my family's birthdays are automatically synced to my calendar through my contact list and I don't miss calling them on their special day. I like that I can change information on my calendar without scribbling or erasing it out of a book. (I don't like untidy calendars. Oops! My OCD is showing.) The point is, even with my few complaints, my iPhone calendar does wonders in keeping my life organized.

And that completes my TOP 5 list. I haven't even touched on the fact that my phone tracks and records all of my workouts (Endomondo), allows me to leave my various books for church classes at home (LDS Gospel Library, this is important for a mom whose hands are too full with keeping 4 boys in their pew to be able to juggle tons of extra books), tells me what the weather will be like so I can dress the boys accordingly, etc etc. There are so many ways my iPhone keeps me organized. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tell "Emily" just how much I love her. Again.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Polka Dot Charm

Posted by Tara

I am truly obsessed. Polka dots consume most of my tops in my wardrobe. It's a serious condition and I can't stop. There is just something about polka dots on clothes that makes them that much more adorable! 

I attended a LuLaRoe Party the other day at my friend's house and couldn't take my eyes off of this dress. I just had to have it. It's modest and feminine. Everything a girl would need! I really like the thickness of this fabric and to top it off, this dress has pockets! BONUS!

I paired this dress with my bubble necklace from Charming Charlie. The nice part about this dress is I could pair it with ANY color. Yellow, teal, green, red would all look fabulous with this print!

I put tights with this dress to show that even in cold weather you can look cute. Here in AZ you can already wear your dress with no tights. I know... I'll stop there and not rub in the upper 70's we've been in to all your East Coast readers! ;)

What I Wore:
Dress: LuLaRoe
Tights: Target
Black Wedges: Target
Bubble Necklace: Charming Charlies
Bracelets: Threads

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More Road Trip Printables for Kids!

Posted by Devin

Well that time of year is rapidly approaching again: road trip season! And whenever our family goes on a road trip, I like to make sure I am amply prepared to keep the kiddos busy and happy while we are in the car. There's nothing worse than whining, fighting kids on a long trip.
Last Summer I created I Spy and Alphabet Game printables for Tara's Road Trip post and they ended up being extremely popular. So this year I thought I would share some more that I created for my kiddos to use on a recent trip to Disneyland with their grandparents! In fact, they went just last weekend and I am happy to report they thoroughly enjoyed these new activity sheets!
The first printable is a simple sheet of games and a cute little camper to color. Click here or on the image below for the On the Road Games printable.

The second printable is geared towards older children and provides them a way to journal about their trip and record cherished memories. It's a great way to keep them busy on the way home AND it makes a wonderful addition to scrap books or family albums. It's always so fun to see what kids write about! Click here or on the image below for the All About My Trip journaling printable.
If you haven't checked them out before, make sure to click here to get last year's great Road Trip Printable games as well! Happy travels!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

8 Game Day Recipes

Posted by Tara

I have to be honest. I don't usually watch the Super Bowl. My husband has never been a huge sports fan, so we never watch it. But one thing I do enjoy is all the yummy recipes that start coming up on Pinterest in preparation for the big game day! I have such a passion for food, and if I see a recipe that is mouth-watering, it's hard for me not to try it out! Here are 8 recipes for your upcoming game day!

White Cheese Dip by LollyJane

If it involves chips, I'm sold. Are you the same way? I love anything with salsa and cheese. This recipe is super easy with only 6 ingredients. Your whole family will devour this! Be sure to head to Lolly Jane's blog to pin this recipe!

Game Day Spicy Shrimp by Salt and Pepper Moms

I know not everyone is a huge fan of seafood, but these will seriously make you forget any reservations you might have about it. These shrimp are spicy with some jalapeno and wrapped in panchetta, then doused in BBQ sauce. I don't care who you are, that sounds delish! These will go quick at your next party! Be sure to pin this recipe!

Chicken and Waffle Sliders by Food Folks and Fun

Don't want to go the spicy route for your party?! Well then, you are in luck with this great recipe! These sliders have a sweet and savory kick. The kids will love these as well as all the men! ;) The nice part about this recipe is there is little prep!

Buttered Soft Pretzels by A Place for Us 

When I saw these buttered pretzels, my mouth watered. I am such a huge fan of pretzels in any shape or form. These will knock your guests' socks off at your game day party! Make sure to pin this and then visit Destiny at her new location here!

Jalapeno Chicken Wraps by Salt and Pepper Moms

Everything is better with bacon! These chicken wraps have a bite but it's worth the heat. Only a few ingredients and they taste awesome. They are a family favorite at Devin's house and a must have for your next Super Bowl party!

Korean Fried Chicken by Damn Delicious

When I think of the Super Bowl, I think of chicken wings. This recipe is easy and looks scrumptious! This picture looks so good, I could bite right into it! This is a must try for your next party, I know I am! Don't forget to pin this recipe for later!

My Favorite Chili from Mama Miss

We need to recognize that the other half of the United States is currently in freezing temperatures and probably doesn't want to stand outside and grill in the snow. Here is a WARM chili recipe that will be great for your party. There is nothing better than a hearty bowl of chili. Stay warm inside with this recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork with Honey Jalapeno Lime Slaw by Host the Toast

Can I just say WOW? This recipe looks divine! Don't want to stand in front of the grill or stove? Just want to relax with friends? This crockpot pulled pork will satisfy everyone's hunger! The slaw looks fresh and yummy as well! Be sure to pin this, I will definitely be doing the same!

I hope that this roundup will help you next month! These recipes come from awesome blogs, please make sure to check them out! I can't wait to try them out in my home!

Linking up with: 

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Mad for Michael

Posted by Devin

I'd like to introduce you to my new best friend. His name is Michael and he goes EVERYWHERE with me. He's clean, sturdy, dependable, and oh so pretty to look at. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about my new handbag. What can I say, it was love at first sight!

This gorgeous Michael Kors handbag was an early birthday present from my parents and I am super excited to have a bag that is built well enough to stand the abuse I am surely going to put it through. There's just something about being a mom that means your purse is like ground zero when you're out and about (which is most of the time). Everyone either needs something out of it or wants to put something in it. Am I right? And with four boys, that equals a lot of purse traffic.
I had been wanting a nice leather bag for awhile, but thanks to the purchase of my new camera (with which these fine pictures were taken, love love love my camera) I figured it was going to be awhile before I bought myself one. I'm so glad I have a birthday early in the year! And a mom with impeccable taste! And a dad who didn't want his closet cluttered up with my big birthday bag for the next two months, lol!
Now I just have to decide if I am ever going to actually let my family put anything in it. Right now it's holding my wallet, phone, and some chapstick. Hahaha!!! There's a whole lot of unused real estate in there but I'd really like to keep it that way.
And on a quick side note, another thing I am absolutely loving lately: checked shirts. I wore a gray one quite a lot like this for a fashion post in December, but I had to wear this blue one for this fashion post because I can't get enough of them. I'm considering getting one in every color. J/K ;)
What I Wore:
Blazer - Forever 21
Checked Shirt - Garnet Hill
Mint Corduroy Skinnies - Rue 21
Nude Pumps - Kohl's
Necklace - Charming Charlie

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Easy Valentine's Centerpiece

Posted by Tara

I love Valentine's Day. It's a day that I remember all those I love and cherish. As Valentine's approaches I can't help but enjoy seeing all of  the pink and red flowers and gifts throughout the stores! I decided to attempt my first centerpiece this year for Valentine's.
A few years ago I bought a ceramic piece at a garage sale. I never had a plan for it. It sat in my guest bathroom for a while as decor. After a while I didn't love it anymore and tucked it away in a closet. When I envisioned a centerpiece for this holiday, I wanted a gold vase holding some lovely flowers. I couldn't find what I was looking for and thought why not use that ceramic urn I have at home?! 

I really wanted to spray paint it, but didn't like any of the colors I found at a few stores. I opted for craft paint and I'm so glad I did. This piece is small enough that it didn't take long to give it one good coat of paint.
I used Glorious Gold by Patio Paint. A lot of the paints I came across were metallic, but I didn't want that super metallic shine. This paint is gorgeous and covered nicely. 

After I finished painting, I assembled the flowers. Now, I am not florist, so it's definitely not perfect, but I like it! The gold compliments all of the pinks. This seriously took me a total of 30 minutes. I love how easy this was! The only tip I found about assorting the flowers was try and space out the different colors and textures you have. I made sure when I bought mine that they complimented each other. Good luck and happy crafting!!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inexpensive Valentine Decor

Posted by Devin

I love Valentine's Day. Ok ok, I say this every time a new holiday rolls around, but it's true! And Valentine's is such a fun holiday. Candy and flowers and love notes and hearts and red and pink... seriously, what's not to like?!!

I don't decorate our home for every holiday, but I do love decorating it for Valentine's Day. I'm not one to go over the top crazy, I simply put a few little Valentine touches around the house. And I like to do it without spending too much money and with things that remind our family of the love we share and have for others. So today I am going to show you all just a few, inexpenive ideas for decorating your own home for Valentine's Day!

First up are my favorite decorations: framed Valentine's from years past. Jake always gives me the prettiest Valentine cards and I think it is such a shame to tuck them away in a box or (heaven forbid) throw them away! So instead I decided to buy some cheap but pretty white frames from the dollar store and display my favorite cards in them every year. 

When I look at them I am reminded of the love Jake and I share, and I like that our boys are reminded of it as well. I think it's so important for children to know that their parents love and care for each other, even if it is ooey and gooey and makes them want to gag (yes, eye-covering and gagging do occur in this house). If you have your old Valentine cards tucked away somewhere, I highly recommend pulling them out and displaying them in frames. So pretty and so personal!  

Next, banners and bunting. I adore banners and bunting. You can make them out of paper, you can make them out of fabric, they are super easy to put together in a pinch, they look fabulous for any holiday or occasion, and they are very inexpensive to make. During Christmas time, I made myself a very neutral banner with scraps from my table runner I had made a year or so ago (Which is funny because I made the table runner out of scraps from curtain and headboard materials, LOL!!! Nothing gets wasted around here!). Anyways, when Christmas was over I realized my cute, neutral banner could be left up for as long as I wanted! So to make it more festive for Valentine's Day, I simply cut out and taped small red paper hearts to it. Didn't it turn out cute?!! You can make your own banner out of anything you have around the house, get creative!
Also, I can't go without mentioning the cotton ball garland. Tara had seen one somewhere and mentioned it to me and I decided I needed to make one for myself. Again, this was originally put up for Christmas, but I think it still looks cute for Valentine's Day. To make mine I simply used a needle and thread to string the cotton balls together. It basically cost me nothing and I love that little garland! Instead of reminding me of Christmas-time snow, it now sort-of reminds me of puffy clouds that a little cupid might be sitting on. ;)

Another simple decoration in our home is our "heart chain." Every week our family has something called Family Home Evening. This is a night we set aside to study the gospel together and participate in fun activities that increase family unity and strengthen us spiritually. To learn more about this you can visit the following link. Last year for Valentine's Day, we had a Family Home Evening where we all created a paper chain together and on each link we wrote down something we loved about the members of our extended family.

It was so fun thinking about each individual person and the many things we love about them. To make the chain, I took red, white, and pink card stock and cut them into strips. Our family then wrote on the strips and instead of stapling them together in circles, we stapled them to look like hearts. To do this, you simply fold the strips in half and staple them at the fold, and then you staple them together at the top to form the heart shape.

The chain looks so cute across our dining room table and the boys love to read through it and see the things we wrote last year. I have a feeling we'll be adding to the chain again this year. :)

Last, but not certainly not least, is a family Valentine tradition that we have had for many years now: heart attacking our home. When Jake and I had only been married a year or so, I decided to tape paper hearts all over the house to surprise him when he got home from work for Valentine's Day. My aunt Pam had done this to her house every year when I was a kid and I always loved it. I have kept the tradition alive and continue to decorate the house with paper hearts all over the walls. The boys LOVE putting up the hearts throughout the house.

As much as I love the paper hearts, it WAS a little difficult to keep them in good condition after being taped up year after year, and making a ton of new hearts every V-Day doesn't always fit onto my to-do list either. So last year I finally wised-up and decided to laminate my hearts. Best decision ever. I'm sure they still won't last forever, but they will last a lot longer than they did before! The tape pulls right off when I am ready to take them down and they don't crinkle and bend. Also, I used cute scrapbook paper to make my hearts. Simple, easy, and pretty.

FYI: I do not own a laminating machine, I simply use self-adhesive laminating sheets that you can find at all office supply stores. They are easy to use and handy to have around the house for lots of purposes.

I hope you found some inspiration here to make your holiday a little cheerier in your home! Happy Valentine's Day!

Linking Up With: Tidy Mom, Practically Functional, Just Us Four, Link Party Palooza, Pink When

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Monday, January 13, 2014

January Blues

Posted by Tara

Hopefully by the title you don't think that I'm depressed. I live in Arizona this time of year, where the weather the last two weeks have been in the low to mid 70's. I am thriving in this beautiful weather! I noticed lately that I have been sporting more navy blue and just blue in general. When I look at my closet, 75% of my shirts are some shade of blue. It is my favorite color and when I get the opportunity to wear blue I love it! 

For this post I really wanted to wear my navy blue blazer with a plaid shirt, but wasn't happy with any of the ones I own. This is embarrassing to say, but my 7 year old got this plaid shirt for Christmas and I have been eyeing it ever since! I knew that when he would go to school, I would totally rock it!

Do I always wear my boys' clothes? No. But if they continue getting clothes that I feel I could pull off, I just might continue wearing their stuff! :) 

As you can see, I didn't accessorize at all. I thought the shirt was busy enough that I left it alone. With the blazer on I felt like my bracelets wouldn't show, so I did nothing for this outfit with accessories. Sometimes less it ok! 

What I Wore:
Plaid Shirt: Target (Junior Boys)
Jeans: Kohls
Blazer: Forever 21
Boots: Ross