Helpful Hump-Day Hints – Gift Cards

For the longest time, whenever I received a gift card as a present in a greeting card, I always “saved the card” so I wouldn’t lose the gift card. Then I had all these piles of greeting cards in different places, some in my desk, some in my bedside table, and some in the living room. I never had a good system. I was constantly trying to remember what stores I had gift cards to and over the years would end up paying at a store that I had a gift card for, simply because I couldn’t find it somewhere in my house, in the original greeting card it came in. Today’s Helpful Hump-Day Hint will help you organize your gift cards so you can locate them easily and save money!

MyCCL_giftcarddrawer

Here is my Gift Card Drawer. It is a small drawer located in an antique hutch that I have in my living room, right at the front door. It’s perfect because it is small, so I don’t put anything else in this drawer (except my Christmas money envelope.) Now whenever anyone in our family receives a gift card, it goes directly in the drawer. Yes, I have a lot of gift cards! It is something my family gives each other, because let’s face it, no one really needs more stuff.  If I see a gift that jumps out at me as something a friend or family member would love, I’ll buy it.  If not, it’s a gift card that I know they will use when they need something. The best part about the gift card drawer is it’s location to the front door. I walk by it every time I leave the house to shop. I grab my purse and keys, look through the gift card drawer to see if I have any for the stores I am going to and I’m off  – and saving money.

MyCCL_giftcarddrawer2

Sometimes I try to make different piles, but I admit, this does not always stay organized.  If we are saving up for a project in the house, we will keep track of Home Depot cards and regular Visa gift cards so we know how much we have to spend on supplies for the project.  Other than that, it’s like Christmas morning in the drawer!

Once I use a gift card, if the balance is zero, I always ask the cashier to throw the card away for me.  I’m not a “reloader.”  I never do it and I hate having cards that I am not sure if they don’t have any money on it.  If there is a balance, I write the amount on the back of the card with a sharpie or a ball point pen. Sometimes it is hard to write on the card, then I use a small post-it note. If I get more than two uses out of a card, I keep crossing off the balance and writing the new one directly on the card or use a new post-it.  Each time I get home, the card goes back in the drawer. Sometimes this is an end of the week ritual, emptying my wallet and putting cards back.

How do you organize your gift cards? Do you have a system in place that works for you?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading!

Practical Packing Part 2

As I mentioned last week, I am reposting my Practical Packing Series to help you get organized for your summer trips and vacations. If you did not read Practical Packing Part 1, read that first, and then come back.

Ok, so you are now up to speed and we are ready to talk about packing your bathroom bag. I bought this from Target years ago and I really love it. It has enough room for everything you need, is easy to carry, and came with two matching cases, one for jewelry, the other for make-up. Once you zip it close, you can see it has a handle.

MYCCL_bathroombag

There are three compartment. My essentials are shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, razor, hand/body lotion, hair ties, lint brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, Q-tips, and a plastic bag (which I use for anything that may be wet on the day I am packing to leave.)

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I always pack travel size everything for the bathroom. But, I only stock up on travel size items when I am NOT going away. This is because I try to avoid unnecessary extra expenses when I am about to take a trip. You already need to fill your gas tank, pay for lodging, and you will be eating out more; so an extra $30-$50 trip to CVS that week isn’t the greatest timing. Save that money and do something fun with your family on your trip! When you aren’t going away, peruse the travel-size aisle and stock up on any items you use that are on sale for $1 or less. My daughter received a rubber-duckie and bath toys in this plastic pouch. I saved it because I knew it would be a perfect place to collect all my travel size items. This lives in our linen closet. When it’s time to start packing, I shop in my linen closet, not a drugstore.

may-9926Next week … Practical Packing Part 3 will be all about your purse!

Leave a comment and let me know about your packing rituals.  Bathroom items you must bring?  Something you always feel compelled to pack, but then never use? Thanks for stopping by and reading.

My Friday Favorites 05.22.15

FF BLUE AND GREEN DIAMONDS

On TV –  This is an obvious one this week as we said good bye to some of the best characters TV has ever seen. Mad Men’s last episode truly was the end of an era. Highlights included the the three “person to person” phone calls Don made to the most significant women in his life Sally, Betty, and Peggy (note: not Megan.) Next, Pete’s goodbye scene to Peggy with just enough awkward banter mixed with silent pauses, a cactus exchange, and no mention of the baby (rightly so.) Roger writing his son with Joan into his will and telling her he is marrying someone he met “through Megan Draper.”  The snapshot of Sally washing dishes while Betty smoked a cigarette at the table was a full circle moment for the entire series and made me want a Sally Draper spin-off even more than ever.  Of course, the image that will certainly become iconic in television history is the sly, almost devilish smile that crossed Don’s face as he meditated on the hillside and envisioned one of the most popular ad campaigns ever to exist.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMCFor the Home – I’ve been looking for ways to update my entryway and hall closet to make the space more functional. Real Simple’s 5 Ways to Fake a Mudroom has some great ideas. 

garage-mudroom

For Dessert – The weather is getting warmer and I always want to get ice cream! Check out these tips from Weight Watchers so you are making smart decisions when choosing your delicious cold treats. Sorbet is the way to go with Points Value Plus of 2 vs Custard (my favorite) which is 6 Points Value Plus.

wwmag_frozen treats

On the Sales Rack – These colorful aqua, yellow and green crates are on sale this weekend at The Land of the Nod. They match My Color-Coded Classroom perfectly and I can’t wait to use them to help my end of the year organization process.

milk-crates-TheLandoftheNod

For the Classroom – Speaking of end of the year organization in your classroom – check out Ten Things to Think About as You Pack Up Your Classroom from Scholastic.

On the Bookshelf –  Just in time to make your summer reading list: Oyster Books’s list of The 100 Best Books of the Decade So Far 

Oyster Books_100 best books so far

On Instagram – Country Living just took your summer camp fire up a notch!

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Happy Friday everyone, have a great long weekend!  Leave me a comment and let me know what your Friday Favorites are this week. (I bet if you comment on this post you have a REALLY good chance of winning the comment contest!)  Thanks for reading!

Helpful Hump-Day Hints – Scissors

MyCCL_classroomscissorsHHH

Do you have to hunt around for a pair of scissors every time you have to cut something? Or walk all the way to another floor or across your house to get the one pair of scissors you own from the designated place you always put them so you won’t lose them?  I started out as the scissor hunter, then graduated to the scissor traveler. But now I have freed myself of scissor issues completely and it was the easiest solution to a problem I have ever implemented.  Today’s Helpful Hump-Day Hint will allow you to never have to search for a pair of scissors again.

MyCCL_scissora

That’s right, I went out and bought a bunch of scissors!

1. Kitchen scissors

2. Everyday scissors (live in the living room)

3. Everyday scissors (live in the office)

4. Everyday scissors (live in the upstairs closet in the back of the door shoe organizer)

5. Bathroom scissors

6. Small Kids’ Scissors (live in my daughter’s craft bin)

7. Fabric scissors (live in the living room antique sewing table)

8. Gift Wrapping Scissors (live in the gift wrapping bureau drawer)

9. Christmas Gift Wrapping Scissors (live in the attic with my christmas wrapping storage.)

You may be thinking – that’s a lot of scissors. Minus the fabric scissors, all others you can buy at the dollar store. $7 – $10 to never have to hunt around for scissors ever again – totally worth it!

I also keep a tin full of scissors in My Color-Coded Classroom.

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MyCCl_classroomscissors2

I love comments! We are very, very close to the 700th comment. Check out some fun prizes you could win, just for making a comment below: comment contests

Happy hump-day.  Just a few more days until the unofficial start to summer! Enjoy!

Practical Packing Part 1

For the next few weeks, I will be returning to my Practical Packing series. This is a repost from a few years ago, but helpful as we start to plan our summer weekend getaways.  Enjoy!

You are going away – but only for an overnight or long weekend.  You don’t want to bring a lot of stuff, but you know you have different types of activities on the agenda.  Do you find yourself asking: How am I going to pack for this trip?

1. Pick the suitcase or travel bag you are going to use.  Don’t stray from this choice!  You must now fit everything you need in this bag!

2. Now select one pair of shoes.  This one pair must be worn at every event.  You do not want to pack more than one pair of shoes.  Ideally – you aren’t packing any shoes – they are on your feet when you leave the house! (Exceptions: A) a beach trip – then you may throw one pair of flip flops in the bag too! B) a work trip – that’s a different blog all together.) Flats work best.  They can be worn with casual outfits like shorts or jeans, but are also acceptable when you are a little more dressed up for a restaurant or nights on the town.  This pair of shoes will also choose the color palette of your trip.

Let’s start with these:
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Throw these in your purse or bag:

Old Navy Flip Flops_brown

3. Clothes: a pair of jeans is always a staple – comfortable to travel in and can be dressed up or down, something more formal for dinner or a night-out, a few choices of shirts that can interchange with the jeans, shorts, or even over the dress. Always include one sweater that can be worn over every outfit in case the weather is cooler. Vary the sleeve length of your shirts to accommodate all temperatures – think outdoor walking around or eating and air conditioned buildings.  A tank, a short sleeve, and a longer sleeve are ideal. Make sure all tops can be worn with all bottoms.

old navy sweetheart jeans

Womens Merona Chino Shorts

Womens Chino Merona Shorst _Target



HM-Sleeveless-Yellow-Dress-40

ribbed lace yellow women's tank top_uniqlo

4. Accessories – don’t overload on accessories, make sure they can all be packed in one travel case, and that they can be worn with multiple outfits.

yellow bracelet by theworldofjewelry_etsy

Women's Lemons Print Infinity Crinkle Scarf - Yellow_TargetI was in my early twenties at a family event when it occurred to me that my sister-in-law and her daughters (my nieces) always wore the same colors as each other at events. When I asked her about this she said it was just so much easier to pack when everyone was wearing the same colors.  They could share accessories, stockings, make-up, even shoes.

Stores: H&M, Target, Old Navy, GAP, Etsy

Check back soon for the continuation of Practical Packing, because we still haven’t packed a bathroom bag or your purse!

Leave a comment and tell me about your packing habits. We are getting very close to the 700th comment, so if you want to win the contest and a nice prize, comment below. Have a great day and thanks for reading.


My Friday Favorites 05.15.15

FF BLUE AND GREEN DIAMONDS

On TV – So many great season finales this week.  Nashville, Grey’s Anatomy, SCANDAL! (Lizzie Bear, how could you? Mellie! Cyrus?!  How did Olivia get on that balcony? I’m not happy – I’m #TeamJake.) Chicago Fire, PD, and Law & Order SVU are all on my DVR to watch this weekend.  We still have one final episode left of Mad Men, but the scene that haunted me all week was Betty finding out her ultimate fate when her doctor was telling her husband as she sat alone on the exam table.  I wonder if Betty Draper read Chelsea Handler’s article in the Huffington Post before she wrote Sally that letter?

Betty finds out_Mad-Men-Season_7_episode_13

On the Computer – This was a great read on Mother’s Day.  I have always been a Chelsea Handler fan – I know people either love her or hate her and I fall on the heart side. I think I really like her because when I was younger I was always sort of the “loud mouth funny one” of the group.  This article had me relating to her in even more ways. Here’s Why I am My Mother’s Daughter by Chelsea Handler on The Huffington Post’s Women Blog 

headshot_Chelsea Handler

On the Page – The June issues of all my magazines have started to arrive, so I know what I will being doing while drinking my morning coffee this weekend. The last of my favorites from my May issues is Good Housekeeping.  I loved the cover story / interview with Kristen Bell.  First, despite being from Hollywood, she looks like she’s had two babies. Next, I loved that she insisted that the Frozen character, Anna, be a less-than-perfect princess if she was going to play her. Lastly, she was honest about the ups and downs of her marriage and admitted that staying in a happy relationship sometimes takes work. Oh, and there’s also an awesome article on waffles.

Good_Housekeeping_May2015Cover_Kristen_Bell

In My Freezer – I eat two bananas a day.  It is one fruit I never get tired of eating. This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to have these treats in my freezer this summer.  Chocolate Dipped Almond Butter Banana Bites from A Healthy Slice of Life.

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For the Home – One thing my daughter has a ton of is books!  Here are some great storage solutions – 19 Unique Ways to Store and Display Your Tots’ Books from Pop Sugar.

Reading-Corner_from PopSugar

For My Parenting Toolbox – As summer draws closer, we feel the pressure to organize the “perfect” vacation.   To help you plan, read Ann Rivall’s When to Splurge and When to Save On a Family Vacation from the Huff Post Parents.

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On Instagram – All You Magazine – Put old maps to good use by using them to cover a notebook. Click here for a tutorial. 

All You_Instagram

On my Twitter Feed –@marieclaire ·8 Beauty Secrets Straight from Royalty  Who doesn’t want to look like royalty? Especially Kate post-baby (yes, I’m still talking about that.) Here are some tips from the real life princesses.

Marie Clare _8 Beauty Tips from Royalty

Happy Friday everyone.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you are loving this week. One week until Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, and I can’t wait! Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mother

5 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Mother

Motherhood can be one of the biggest shifts to ever happen in your life.  I write this post respectfully and know that no one woman is more hardworking or valued or better than another based on whether they have children or not.  I know Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many women – those who have lost their mothers, those who desired, but were unable to have children, and those who have decided their family doesn’t include kids. And on a similar note – having one child, two children, or a whole starting line up – we are all moms! With that said, these are the reflections I have had recently as a working woman with a daughter about to turn four.

1. Priorities and passions can change, and it doesn’t make you less interesting. Perhaps in your pre-children life you worked for causes, joined groups, had standing dates with friends, took classes, went to the movies, read more books…. now you just want to get everyone out of the house bathed, dressed, fed and wearing two matching shoes.  After years of grappling with – how did I become so boring? I’m realizing I am still the same interesting person I always was, just my day to day routines have changes.  

2. Pick and choose your battles carefully, it’s going to be a long war. Do I wish I had a dollar for every time I have done or said something my pre-child self used to say I would NEVER do once I had kids? Yes, I do. I give in, I bribe, I allow… there I said it. Sometimes losing a small battle is just worth your sanity in the end.  My daughter will be fine, she’ll be able to work on all of it with her shrink in her twenties.  

3. Santa may be watching them, but they are watching you. One of the worst feelings of motherhood is seeing your most terrible habits being mimicked by a tiny person that you have been entrusted to raise.  Just last night, my daughter muttered, “Damn it,” when she was frustrated by something.  Great. Move over Betty Draper. I’m available to collect my Mother of the Year Award anytime this week.  

2. There’s a time and place to sweat the small stuff and it isn’t very often. My house doesn’t always look perfect and most days I am just happy we all survived.  I smiled sweetly this week as my daughter “helped” me make my bed, by pulling up the blankets and smoothing them out (exactly the way she watches me do it.)  The bed looked a mess, but her proud, beaming with pride face is way more important than a perfectly placed throw pillow. 

1. It’s their world, you’re just living in it. I can pretend that my husband and I are running the show, but we aren’t.  I used to try to convince myself we were, but it was a very freeing feeling when I finally admitted the truth.  I was not up for another 14+ years of anxiety, so instead I am just living in this world right now.  And for the most part, it’s not so bad!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there celebrating today!

Mommy and Olivia

Mom and Maureen

My Friday Favorites 05.08.15

FF pink green brownHappy Friday everyone! Let’s jump right in with all my favorites from the past week.

On TV- Note – I have not watched Grey’s or Scandal yet.  This week Detective Lindsay is dealing with returning home and to work after the tragic loss of Nadia on Chicago PD.  We discover she is blaming herself for her friend’s death because she was pushing Nadia to become a cop. (This is a little bit of a stretch for me because if she didn’t “push” her, Nadia still would have wound up dead in a ditch, only with a herion needle in her arm.) She wanted to be to Nadia what Voight was to her. Chicago Fire reminded us this week how we hated Sergeant Hank Voight when we first met him. Sometimes I forget that! The bad blood between him and Lieutenant Matt Casey at the fire department was revisited when Voight asked Casey to go undercover for him. Then on PD, Voight smoothes over the whole “higher-ups blocking a memorial stone for Nadia on the precinct wall” by literally telling Burgess and Roman to go to a storage unit and pull a file from a box labeled Summer 2005.  And what do you know?  That file has evidence about a certain higher-up officer and a prostitute. I love that he knows exactly where to find the file – storage unit, labeled box.  He’s so organized! I heart Voight again.

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On the Page – May’s issue of This Old House  includes how to make a small entryway work, kitchen and bath make-overs, and a gorgeous cottage dining room. I’m really loving 19 Budget – Smart Bath Updates. A bar cart for bathroom storage? Yes, please! Which leads me to…

16-bath-updates

On the Bookshelf – I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s resolution of reading more.  I’ve just started Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and can’t stop laughing already!

yes-please-9781447283287

In the Kitchen – I’ve been searching around for new ways to vary how I’m preparing vegetables . 8 Cooking Tricks to Elevate that Basic Veggie Side gives easy tips to incorporate to kick your side vegetable dishes up a notch. 

spices-8 cooking tricks to elevate your basic veggie side

On my Pinterest Boards- I found this picture on the board Beautiful Kitchens and it led me to Tips to Organize a Small Kitchen by Making Home Base.  I am constantly moving things around my small kitchen trying to make it clutter free while having things close by so it’s functional.  There are some great ideas in this post.  

Tips to Organize a Small Kitchen_Making Home Base

On my Twitter Feed-  @KensingtonRoyal – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Will and Kate showed good form by including Diana among the names given to their new little princess.  Name absent from the list: Camilla.  Name BEFORE Diana: Elizabeth. They are smart, but not crazy. Which leads me to…

Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

On the ComputerPrincess of Not, How the Hell Does She look Like That? by Scary Mommy Seriously though – this picture – with her hair done, make-up flawless, yellow and white dress (the lightest colors on the planet – ummm – I wear dark pants when I only have my period) and the HIGH HEELS – was taken TEN, yes 10, hours after she have birth.  This post cracked me up – and said everything every woman who has every given birth was thinking when they saw this photo! 

For the Teachers – Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and Thanks a Latte to Eighteen25 for making it really easy for me to give thoughtful, cute gifts to Olivia’s teachers.

Thanks_Latte_eighteen25_teacher appreciation week

Anything you are loving this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Have a terrific weekend and thanks for reading.

8 Tips for a Cleaner More Organized Refrigerator

My CCL_Spring Cleaning

Today’s Helpful Hump-day Hint is a Spring Cleaning Tip.  I always clean out my entire fridge in the spring.  I love cleaning and organizing it from top to bottom.

Here is how I do it:

1. Empty fridge of all its contents. Everything on the counter!

2. Get rid of anything old, expired, or down to the last drops.

3. Soak the plastic drawers in the sink with hot water and cleaner. (I love Mrs. Meyer’s products.)

4. Wipe down every shelf with your cleaner of choice and hot water. Don’t forget the door, the sides, and the ceiling!

5. Do you need a new organizational system in your fridge?  Buy some plastic organizers to help compartmentalize.  I bought mine from Home Goods.

6.  Survey your tupperwear – has it sealed your last meal?  Trash any that needs to go and invest in some new.

7.  Return items to fridge in a neat and organized way that will make packing lunches and preparing dinner easier. Create zones so you (and your whole family) will know where everything lives.

8.  Update your grocery list.

Here are some pictures of my new and approved spring-cleaned fridge!

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bottom drawers holds produce and all other salad ingredients

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bottom right shelf holds juice boxes and snacks my daughter can grab herself

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after Sunday meal prep, containers hold fruits, vegetables and side dishes
already portioned out

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top shelf has yogurts, puddings, applesauce and go-go squeezes
(Take everything out of boxes before you put them in the fridge.  Not only does it look nicer, but it’s much easier to see if you need to restock an item.)

How do you organize your refrigerator?  How often do you empty it out and clean it? Do you create zones?  Tell me about your systems in the comments below.  As always, thanks for reading.  It’s hump-day – the weekend is almost here.  Have a great day!

My Friday Favorites 05.01.15


FF BLUE AND GREEN DIAMONDS

I’m not blaming Shonda Rhimes this week for the lateness on this post.  I could just call it This Week’s Favorites, but it just doesn’t sound as good.  Oh well – here we go- all my favorites this week – one day late again!

On TV- Lots going on again on TV this week.  I caught up entirely on Scandal. Yes, I watched Grey’s with the secret hope that Huck would show up and bang on Derek’s chest, too.  I’m also finally catching up on Suits!  This week my favorite is NBC’s crossover week of Chicago Fire, Law and Order SUV, and Chicago PD. Independently, I love all the shows, but they are even better when their story lines match up and we get to see all the characters working together to bring justice to Chicago and NY. My only question – when will the writers have Severide and Lindsay interact again? We have been spending a little bit of time at the hospital Chicago Med lately, and wouldn’t you know, with an announcement this week, I’ll have another show to add to the DVR list this fall.

NBC Crossover Week

On the Bookshelf – Simon, the new Gemiknight novel, is a modern-day Hamlet for YA readers, now available at Amazon.

In my Cocktail Glass – Just in time for the Kentucky Derby, stir up a classic Mint Julep, recipe from Southern Living

mint-julep-tray-m

On my Pinterest Boards- This file system pin on the board Be Organized led me to the website Operation Organization and the post 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Color Coding.  Her color coding round-up included this filing system from A Bowl Full of LemonsDo I really need to explain why this is on my favorites list? Obviously, following all these now!

10 ways to Simplify Your Life by Color Coding from Operation Organization

On my Instagram–   Target had the brilliant idea of using these adorable tea tins as vases.  Great colors and I love things in threes!

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On my Twitter Feed-  O The Oprah Magazine ‏@O_Magazine   6 and 1/2 things you should stop expecting from other people 

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On my Playlist-  After watching the “Unmask Her Beauty” episode of The Royals, I pushed rewind on the final scene, not because of the “romantic” moment, but rather I wanted to hear the song again.  I did some digging on the internet, but came up empty. For this show, I wish E! Channel would take a page out of the CW’s handbook and include what music you hear during the episode and how to buy it.  I tried searching again this week and found the name and artist – Safe House by Sofi Sofi. I couldn’t find anywhere to purchase or download the song until a You Tube user posted it.

Liam and Ophelia_TheRoyals_Safe House by Sofi Sofi

While we are on the subject of the Royals — the real Royals welcomed a baby girl, fifth in line for the throne (she can party it up like Eleanor with no heir issues.) At press time of this post – no name yet!

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What are your favorites this week? Leave me a comment and let me know. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading.