Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How I Use My Agenda: Erin Condren, Stickers, & More



Last time I talked about agendas was back last year. I've made a few changes since then.

In today's post, I want to talk to y'all about what I've been using to plan out my work weeks, how I decorate/lay out a week, and where I purchase stickers to do said decorating. :)

What Do I Use These Days?




I was first introduced to the Erin Condren planner while I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner a year or so ago. A friend of mine had told me about the planners being used as bridesmaids' gifts (which is a really cool idea, now that I think about it). Years later, I heard about Erin Condren through a vlogger I've followed for years, Elle Fowler/AllThatGlitters21. Slowly, but surely, I watched her planner blog posts and planner videos, and I began to consider using functional stickers.

After I ordered some stickers (and LOVED using them to organize my Kate Spade agenda that I'd been using in '14/'15), and getting my mom hooked on planner decorating in the process, I eventually ordered a new Erin Condren planner to use through this and next year. After a looooooooooong wait (and a shipping delay), I finally received my personalized metallic Erin Condren Metallic life planner back in July. (As of the publication of this post, that particular planner is out of stock, but I imagine they'll add more soon. They add new covers all the time.)

The driving decision behind my agenda switch from a Kate Spade to an Erin Condren Life Planner was space. I only had a tiny block of space (made smaller after using functional stickers/any decorating) to write in work stuff, to-do's, and events. With the ECLP, I can use 3 blocks of space to compartmentalize everything into work, to-do's, and events, which - as busy as I am these days - is awesome.

How I Plan

This is what a typical week in my Erin Condren planner looks like before I load it up with things to do. I like to lay things out pretty far in advance, but then it'll get busier as the week goes on.


The supplies I use to create a week are:
  • Erasable pens: Colored pens are and have always been my primary way of planning things out, so of course these transitioned to the ECLP. The only difference is that I don't highlight as much anymore, since the barrage of colors was too much. I use Pilot Frixion erasable pens, which are FANTASTIC, and they erase super well.
  • Functional stickers: I used to collect stickers as a child, but planner stickers aren't all cutesy characters. There are flag stickers to create headings for to-do lists, reminder stickers with various icons, larger stickers to write to-do's or notes, checklist sticker flags with little hearts or boxes to denote each item, and so on.
  • Decorative stickers: And then, of course, there are times when I'm in the mood to add some fun to my weekly spreads, whether that's in a full theme or with a few extra touches. It's these fun details that can add fun to each week, and it'll be fun to go back over the year to see what I was into at different times.
Sticker Shops

Here are some of my favorite sticker shops I like to purchase from. All of these are Etsy sellers, so they are homemade and custom specifically for Erin Condren planners.

So, what kind of planner/agenda do you like to use? How do you organize your schedule?
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Thursday, August 6, 2015

July Book Wrap-Up

all cover images are from amazon.com

Hey, y'all! :)

So, 'tis time for me to write another book-related post. I've been incredibly busy, so reading hasn't exactly been happening a whole lot, but I read a few novels, including a couple I read while I was traveling over the past few weeks (see here, here, and here for details on that). And one of them may be my #1 book of the year.

Let's go ahead and get into them, shall we?

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh

This book had a premise that intrigued me: A 16-year-old king who murders each new bride he takes at dawn must be stopped, so a 16-year-old lady named Shahrzad volunteers to marry him and finally serve justice against a monster...but not is all as it seems behind the palace walls.

The story is based loosely around A Thousand and One Nights, the tale that the story of "Aladdin" originated from (and yes, there is a magic carpet very briefly mentioned in this book). I really liked the world-building (especially the juxtaposition of fictional kingdoms with real-world places in the Saudi Arabia area, like Damascus), and the characters were also well-written. I liked the idea of the magic, too, but it was just so brief that I didn't really get the chance to get into it (maybe in the second book in the duology, we'll get to see more). While the romance got a little insta-lovey and felt a little far-fetched at times across the board (not just the main characters), the novel was a nice read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

This one has been recommended to me, recommended to me, and recommended to me some more. This was the first C. S. Lewis novel I've read since I finished the Chronicles of Narnia series years ago, and...guys...I'm recommending it to you right. now.

If you're familiar with Lewis' work, then you don't need me to tell you how incredible and thought-provoking his writing style is. The way he wrote this novel - specifically since it's written from the perspective of a demon to his demon nephew - will take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's brilliant. It's fiction with enough nonfiction elements that you can take away from it and learn from. 

Rating: Straight up 7 out of 5 stars. (It's good enough that I'm breaking my own rating scale.)

An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer

Guys. I finally finished this series...well, I hope it's not the end. This series has been a fun, fun ride, and this was an equally fun addition to it. 

Our heroes - Martin, Gwen, Phillip, Britt, and the rest of the gang - have all been gallivanting as per usual, until an evil wizard named Todd - who's been stuck in a high-security prison in Florida via magic for attempting to control human bodies against their will - comes to attempt to smite them. How does he attempt to smite them? By creating an old-school RPG quest for them to explore and conquer, of course!

Writing- and character-wise, it's just as fabulous as its predecessors. Story-wise, it started to wane a little bit, mainly in pacing and in some of the shock value elements (including some language, which hasn't been in the past two books). Otherwise, I had fun reading it, and I am very, very much looking forward to a fourth book if there is one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

What books did you read this past month?

Also, if you want to see what I'm reading now - and what I'm currently into - please check out my Goodreads!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ireland Adventures

Along with England and Scotland, I got to visit Ireland. This was my first time visiting this beautiful, rugged, and green country, and I wound up absolutely loving it. It's safe to say that every place I visit becomes a new place I love in some way, but there's something about Ireland that I just can't quite place. I think it's a solid mix between the history, the surprising - but delightful - modernity of the cities juxtaposed against the lush countryside, and getting to go there with awesome people.

Belfast

Our first stop after getting off the ferry across the Irish Sea from Alloway was Belfast. The city itself had a Boston-like feel to it, and it was easy enough to get to various places.

Here's what all we did there:
  • We did more church work in the area. :)
  • We hit up Pizza Express (my favorite pizza chain in the UK).
  • We got to visit the Titanic museum, located right on the shipyard where the Titanic was built and launched.
  • We visited various Belfast sights, including City Hall, the Parliament building, the Linen Hall Library (my personal favorite in the city), and St. George's Market (think the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but more indoors).

















Giant's Causeway/Antrim Coast

Throughout our Belfast adventures, we took various excursions to the Giant's Causeway area and sights along the Antrim Coast, including the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

This is where the amazing countryside is.













We also made stops by Carrickfergus Castle and Scrabo Tower (which was closed the day we went) as we traveled along the coast.






Dublin

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite city in Ireland, Dublin, was our final stop on our whole UK/Ireland trip.

Here's Dublin by day (including St. Paul's Cathedral + Trinity College's campus)...










...and here's Dublin by night... :)





And that wraps this trip up! I hope you guys liked this little series of UK travel adventures. :)

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Scotland Adventures

So before and after I visited London, I got to spend quality time in Scotland, visiting places I loved, cities I hadn't gotten the chance to get to know, and areas I'd never been to before. I absolutely love this country; it's so fun, and I already want to go back.

Here's where I visited/did some sightseeing, plus photos. LOTS of photos. :)

Gleneagles




Gleneagles is a lovely country town Northeast of Edinburgh. We only stayed here a couple of days, but I love the area. It reminds me of a place out of a Regency-era or Fantasy novel.

Glasgow

Glasgow was kind of our hub city from which we explored various cities in Scotland (and it's where we trained to Gleneagles from London). Unfortunately, I don't think I took any Glasgow pictures, but I really loved this city.

A few things I did there:
  • Hang out with family and friends.
  • Eat at Five Guys (yes, they have them in Glasgow, and the cherry milkshake I had there was delicious).
  • We did church work in the area. :)

St. Andrews








During part of our stay in Scotland, a group of us went to St. Andrews for a day at the Open Championship. I'd been twice before, and even though I don't necessarily follow golf super closely, I love the area, and visiting sport venues in person is always pretty cool. 

And yes, I ate those Haggis chips. They really weren't made of actual Haggis, but rather "Haggis seasoning", which was basically BBQ with more cracked pepper. They were delicious.

Loch Lomond + Stirling

Both of these areas are places I'd been to before, but couldn't remember since it had been awhile since I'd visited them. I enjoyed seeing the Loch again, and I love Stirling Castle. It's so picturesque, and I love the views atop the hill where the castle sits, as well as from the castle walls.

This is Loch Lomond...








...and this is Stirling.










Edinburgh













Edinburgh is my favorite city in all of Scotland. I love how bright and bustling it is, and how it's filled with history, especially literary history. In fact, my favorite thing there is the Sir Walter Scott Monument, which looks like a miniature gothic castle, and it stands out from the rest of the city.

We got to spend a couple of days here, and we got to visit Princes Street (where Scott Monument resides), the Royal Mile, and Edinburgh Castle.

Alloway

In the town of Alloway - our last stop in Scotland - we got to stop by the Robert Burns Museum. This is also the town where Robbie Burns - poet laureate of Scotland - was born. :)





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