Pots Off Peachtree, Hair Tie Holder, Lavender Cookies, & a Healthy Eating Book

Pots Off Peachtree

I did one of the coolest things I’ve done in Charlotte this past weekend. I went to a secret, underground dinner. It was wonderful, and I can’t wait to share photos (and more details) in my next blog post. But, for now, I have some other cool things to share.

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First up – check out this beautiful, handmade pottery. When my friend Ted offered for me to check out his mother-in-law’s handmade pottery, I jumped at the chance. Pots Off Peachtree gifted me with this bowl and a mug.

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From the Pots Off Peachtree etsy site:

Charlotte DuPre began making pottery in Atlanta over 35 years ago and has sold her work at both galleries and stores including Macy’s and Henri Bendel in New York. Back in the 1980′s her Manhattan studio was named Pots Off Broadway. Now in Atlanta and after a long break from her craft, she is very excited to be making functional porcelain and Raku pots again, and she has chosen to name her online store Pots Off Peachtree, in reference to Atlanta’s most famous street.

Her porcelain tableware is oven proof, microwaveable, and dishwasher-safe. She also fires Raku pots, which are primarily decorative. All of her glazes are lead-free.

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I love Charlotte’s signature on the bottoms of her work.

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And I really love how the pottery is a pretty, pearly white on the outside and then vibrantly colored on the inside. She has some other pieces that have different coloring, but I think the white outside and colored inside is a signature look of hers.

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Check out the gentle curves of the mug.

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I’m definitely going to have fun using this pottery, and you guys know I love handmade pottery, especially.

If you want to get your hands on some Pots Off Peachtree pottery, you can click here to check out Charlotte’s etsy site.

New Use for Old Things

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Here’s a quick new-use-for-old-things tip. I had an almost-hair-emergency last week when I was teaching Zumba. I had put my hair in a bun using some mini claw clips to wear at work, but I forgot to bring a hair elastic with me for later. I thought I had some in my bag, but I didn’t. I realized I didn’t really have a good, small bag to put them in, so they never made it into the gym bag (or purse). I recently used some Lululemon gift cards to get a couple new goodies, and I almost turned in my gift card holder to the store to recycle. Good thing I didn’t because it makes the perfect hair accessory container for my gym bag. I’m definitely going to need to make sure I have some extra hair ties at all times. Though I like to teach Zumba with my hair down sometimes, it has to be planned. It doesn’t always work and putting your hair up can be a must. Luckily, one of my class assistants had an extra in her car. Phew!

Lavender Cookies

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And check out this beautiful creation.

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My friend Lindsey made lavender cookies and gave me two to enjoy. They were delicious, and you can find the lavender cookie recipe here if you want to try them yourself.

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Healthy Eating Book

Are there any fellow non-dieters out there looking for some healthy eating advice? I know I’ve blogged about this book before, but for new readers, I highly recommend Food Rules by Michael Pollan. It’s short, simple, and has easy-to-digest tips. I’ve found the tips in Pollan’s book the most memorable, and I even think of many of them today (almost exactly 3 years after first reading the book). In fact, it’s been awhile. I should probably re-read it sometime soon. It’s a fast read, and I think it only took me a couple hours to finish. Now that’s what I call a good ROI. Of course everyone is different, and what works for one person won’t work for the next. But, hopefully, even though we may resonate with some of Pollan’s rules more than others, there are some good tips in there for everyone.

The most memorable rules for me are:

  • #2 – Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
  • #6 – Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
  • #7 – Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
  • #22 – Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
  • #25 – Eat your colors
  • #39 – Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself

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Check back soon for the secret dinner photos. I took a whole bunch, and I’ve selected some to share with you guys. I just have to get the full post together. Can’t wait to share!

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Reader question: What healthy eating book is most memorable for you?

Pantry Clean-Out and Eat in Month Groceries

I’m so glad to hear so many people are joining in on the Eat in Month challenge! Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with people sharing how they’re getting ready. The theme of the day seems to be prep, mostly stocking up on groceries. It’s a good strategy and one I started on the other day while I had some free time.

I spent a good portion of Sunday prepping for Eat in Month as follows:

  1. I removed any old/expired foods from the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
  2. I assessed what I had remaining and what I thought I needed (as far as solid staples) and made a shopping list.
  3. I went grocery shopping, focusing on getting staples that were on sale.
  4. I re-stocked and re-organized (grouping like items) the new and old staples in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

I gotta say, this is definitely a great way to start the year. I feel like I have a great grasp on what foods I have and I’m ready to tackle the new year eats-wise. And I just love how everything is so organized! Here are some photos of my pantry and the groceries I picked up:

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{Before}

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{After}

I still want to get some more storage containers, but I’m researching good options. I’m considering just getting larger mason jars, but I’m not sure they’re the most efficient. I definitely want to get glass containers. Do you guys have any recommendations?

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I love having frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer at all times. The vegetables make a great, last-minute side and can also be thrown into soups and noodle stir-fries.

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I love broths for quick soups, to cook grains, or to make simple sauces.

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This is a random mix of items here. I don’t drink soda very often, but I like having some light options when the mood strikes. I love having the ginger ales they sell at health food stores around – they have great ingredient lists. This one in particular is sweetened with honey and pineapple juice. I also really love Cascal. Fresh fruit is a must – we almost always have bananas and apples. Snack bars are also a must, but I didn’t see any that had a good sale price. I love these Green Superfood bars, but they’re a little more expensive than I want to spend for pantry snack bars. I try to stay under $2. Larabars are my favorite, and I like to get big boxes of them at Costco.

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Pasta and sauce = easiest last minute dinner ever. We have a quasi-homemade beef sauce that we make when we don’t know what else to eat. I should probably share that recipe with you guys. Maybe in the next week or so? But, if you’re really desperate, you can just cook pasta and add this sauce and call it a night.

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Various tomato products are great for some many things – to add flavor to soups or make quick sauces.

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Here are some more great pantry staples – tomato paste – to add to sauce and soups. Garlic – good with almost everything. Panko breadcrumbs – makes a simple and easy dinner when paired with chicken.

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I’m not vegan or dairy-free, but I prefer non-dairy milks to make oatmeal or smoothies.

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Tofu – an easy way to bulk up protein when you haven’t been to the store recently. I like to add these to soups or noodle stir-fries, and it’s great marinated in soy sauce and then roasted. I love yogurt for a filling but healthy snack – straight-up or topped with granola. Eggs – a great, quick protein and a breakfast staple in our house. We love fried eggs or egg bakes with whole grain toast.

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I’m thinking of re-writing my pantry tips post. I read the one I did a couple years ago, and it’s still good, but I think I have a couple more tips, and I’d definitely like to update the photos. Any interest?

Anywho, I’ve got some ideas for quick and easy meal ideas, and I made a new soup recipe that would be great to make for a cozy meal. Plus, it makes lots of leftovers that you can freezer for later. I think frozen soup is going to be my life saver this year as far as the challenge goes.

Reader question: What groceries have you gotten recently?

Photography & Lightroom Organization Series: My Photography Workflow

When I originally started planning this series on Photography & Lightroom Organization, I expected to write just one post to cover all points. Now, I’m planning to write multiple, smaller posts that will be easier to digest and organize. I already shared the intro (which explains how this whole series came about), and now I’m ready to discuss my photography workflow. At first, my workflow was just going to be a simple sentence at the beginning of the Plan section, but after some thought, I decided that it could use some elaboration and a dedicated post. Plus, I was inspired by the workflow posts linked at the end of this post. Not to mention, I also thought this would be easier for people to share their workflows, since I’m hoping to get lots of reader feedback on each post of the series. You guys are a wealth of knowledge, and I love it when you share your know-how. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire me to change my workflow?

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{I made a diagram for this post. Is my geek-ness showing yet?}

My Photography Workflow

  1. Take Pictures – Duh! You need photos to edit and organize. But, I often will shoot photos for multiple blog posts (or for personal use) in between importing to Lightroom. Some people like to shoot one set of photos and then import right away. 1photoshoot to 1 import. I just shoot whenever I feel like it and import when I have time. I can have photos from many different events on one card at one time. Currently, I have photos from about 10 recipes, 1 themed Zumba class, 1 wedding, and a couple random blog posts. I use Lightroom to keep these straight by organizing them at Import. Once I’ve imported all the photos from the card, I format the card in my camera to delete all the photos and make space for new ones.
  2. Import to Lightroom – Some people import their photos from their memory card to the computer and then to Lightroom. I choose to import straight to Lightroom. Since Lightroom is so powerful and actually creates your folder(s) on your computer and puts the images in them, I find importing straight to Lightroom saves a step. I add all my metadata and keywords during import.
  3. Work with Files – I do almost all of my photo editing in Lightroom. I go through all my photos, decide which ones to edit, and edit the selected photos.
  4. Export .jpgs – I export the edited photos as smaller-sized .jpgs for use in blog posts, etc.
  5. Clean Up – I usually wait until I’ve published the blog post for the related photos before I go back to Lightroom and clean-up those I don’t want to keep. I usually do this so if I change my mind about any photos while I’m working on the blog post, I can go back and select a different one (or a couple) to edit and export. Usually, once I’m done with the blog post, I know with more certainty which photos I want to keep and which I want to delete. I used to be lazy and skip this step, which helped my laptop filled up with superfluous photos quite quickly. Not good. Now, I delete extra photos almost immediately, and I find it’s much easier to do this as you go, rather than returning at a later date and reviewing old folders.
  6. Move External – I don’t have a good system at the moment for when I move photos to external storage. I just recently moved all my photos through 2011 to an external drive. So far, my computer is still pretty empty, so I’m in no rush to move the current photos off.

Please note: I went over each of these steps at a pretty high level because we’ll be discussing these in more detail in the other posts of the series.

While I was researching tips and tricks for this series, I stumbled upon these great posts on Photography Workflows, which you may also find helpful:

Next up in this series, I’ll go over:

  • Folder and file naming conventions
  • How to move folders without creating Lightroom errors
  • How to work with your photos / deciding what to delete and keep
  • Utilizing external storage (making space on your computer for more photos!)
  • Advanced organization considerations

Reader question: What’s your photography workflow? Do you like it? What do you want to change or why do you use it the way you do?

Photography & Lightroom Organizing Series Intro

Hey guys!

Note: If you’re a reader of TCL for food or fashion (wait a minute…you’re just reading for Bailey photos, aren’t you?), you may want to skip this one. This post is an introduction to a series I’m writing on Photography and Lightroom Organization.

So, I somewhat recently ran into a major issue related to photography and blogging. I managed to fill up my entire laptop with photos, making it very difficult for me to import new photos or new blog posts. I shoot in RAW, so this didn’t actually take very long. My problem was that I was being lazy about not only organizing my photos, but also about learning best practices for doing so. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was too busy to research, so I just didn’t try. I procrastinated. This was a big mistake. I was also afraid of moving all my photos to an external drive because I was worried I’d do it the wrong way and/or the drive would crash and I’d lose all my photos. I didn’t clean my photos up as well as I could, sure. But, the more serious issues was that I didn’t come up with a good system to follow. So, with a laptop full to the brim with photos, I knew something had to change, and I needed to get it together. I did the best thing I knew – I consulted the experts.

I contacted 4 fellow food bloggers and professional photographers to ask for their tips and feedback. They are:

(Check out their blogs and web sites – they’re amazing!)

They were all wonderful and sent me their tips and strategies. I happily read through them, and when I had the time, I started implementing some of their suggestions. First, I worked on fixing what was broken – I created a system for how I wanted to organize my photos, and I stuck to it. Afterwards, once I had some free time, I re-organized all of my old photos and moved most of them to external storage. Now, my photos are organized (and stay that way with every import), and my laptop has plenty of space for new photos.

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I’m not an expert in photography, Lightroom, or organization. But, I did think it would be helpful to others if I shared the information I collected from my photo gurus, as well as, my experience with organizing photos. The important thing to note is that there isn’t one right way to do things. There are many ways, and you’ll want to tailor your solution so it best fits you. Hopefully, some of the information from these posts or resources I share get you on the right path.

In this series, I’m going to go over:

  • My photography workflow
  • Folder and file naming conventions
  • How to move folders without creating Lightroom errors
  • How to work with your photos / deciding what to delete and keep
  • Utilizing external storage (making space on your computer for more photos!)
  • Advanced organization considerations

Stay tuned for more follow-up posts to come!

Oh, and if you’re a professional photographer and/or advanced Lightroom user, please feel free to weigh in at any time with your thoughts. I’m sure you have great feedback, and I invite you to share your know-how if you want.

Do you use Lightroom? Do you have any questions for now one general Photography or Lightroom Organization?

Parisian Wardrobe {Or Parisian Closet}

Hello TCL Readers! Hope you’re all doing well.

I’ve had so many blog post ideas swimming around in my head lately that I think I may have short-circuited. Or maybe I’m just suffering from writer’s block. Either way, I’ve been meaning to post more, and I’m going to go ahead and start getting some of these ideas published for once!

First up…I want to talk to you about closets and clothes. I’ve been thinking about mine a lot lately, and I think I want to work towards something different. I call it the “Parisian Closet”. I’ll explain the meaning in a minute, but first, let’s talk about “Then” and “Now”:

Then {Quantity Over Quality}

Back in the day, I used to be quite the bargain shopper when it came to clothes. I think I could have taken down almost any coupon mom out there in my heyday, except I just knew how to shop the sales racks (they didn’t seem to have as many coupons for clothing back in the day). Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love a good sale and a great deal. But, where I think I went wrong was that I was so focused on quantity over quality. Was there ever enough clothes in my closet? No. It could have been bulging at the seams with clothes falling out in some grotesque hoarder-esque way and I still wouldn’t have had enough. I didn’t really care how nice something was, I just wanted more. Did it look kind of cute? Is it super cheap or greatly discounted? Sold! Luckily, I didn’t have a lot of money, so the lack of funds kept me from getting too out of control. Oh, and this will sound pretty crazy, but when I was in high school, and Cher (not the singer) was my “idol”, I used to track my outfits. I’d write down what I wore to school each day in my planner so I wouldn’t wear the same thing again for at least a month (preferably never).

Now {Quality Over Quantity}

These days, I’m starting to focus on quality over quantity, and I don’t mean just expensive things. I don’t think something has to be pricey for it to be quality. I’ve just noticed that I have a ridiculous amount of clothes that I’ve collected over the last several years. Do I wear most of it? Not really. I find myself wearing a lot of the same things over and over. So, what’s the point of having all those clothes if you aren’t even going to wear them? I don’t think there is one…at least, not for me. And unlike the days of high school, I actually like wearing the same outfit repeatedly. And what I really like is when you get to wear that one special piece of jewelry or unique dress that makes you feel like a million bucks. I don’t want to have a giant closet full of okay clothes. I want a smaller closet of clothes that make me feel wonderful. I want to find more of those magical pieces and slowly collect them.

The Parisian Wardrobe {Or Parisian Closet}

I could be wrong here, but I’ve heard that Europeans tend to have less clothes than Americans. Can anyone confirm? It seems like Europeans are generally more concerned about the quality over quantity. With this idea in mind and since I love all things French, I’m nicknaming my goal the “Parisian Wardrobe.” I just think it’s more catchy than “European Wardrobe”.

Reasons

I have a few reasons, some mentioned above, why I’m working towards a “Parisian Wardrobe”:

  • Wearing the same thing: I’ve noticed I wear the same things from my closet. There’s no point in cluttering up my space with stuff I don’t use. I need to purge and be more selective about what makes it in the closet. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Space: We have an older house with un-renovated closets. We’re hoping to remodel one day, but let’s get real – that’s not going to happen any time soon (unless I win the lottery). I have clothes spread out between 4 tiny closets in the house, which is simply ridiculous.
  • Easier to Dress: With less so-so clothes cluttering up my closet, I believe I’ll more easily be able to put outfits together.
  • Eco-Friendly: It’s more eco-friendly to have a “Parisian Wardrobe.” I’ll be purchasing less from the stores, which will at minimum save waste from all the packaging tied to shopping.
  • Magic Items: Instead of having a lot of so-so things in my wardrobe, I want more of those magic items that make you feel special when you wear them.

Challenges:

I have a couple challenges to face as I work towards my goal:

  • Shopaholicism: Okay, I don’t need a therapist for this or anything, but I have definitely been a bit of a shopaholic in the past. If I’m going to have a smaller wardrobe one day, I need to slow down on the shopping. Luckily, my mortgage and other bills help keep this in check by stealing all my shopping money!
  • Too Much Clothes: Like I mentioned before, I already have too much clothing. I’ve tried purging in the past. I’m having a hard time letting go of a lot of my clothes, even if I don’t wear them. I’ve tried doing the whole “if you haven’t worn this in a year then get rid of it” thing, but that’s so much easier said than done.

Projects:

To reach my goal, I’m going to have to tackle a few projects:

  • Closet Pare Down – I’m going to have to get serious about purging
  • Adventures in Re-Sale – It would be pretty sweet if I could make some money on all those items I purge.
  • Strategic Shopping – I’m going to have to work on my shopping style so it’s more in line with the “Parisian Wardrobe” concept. Less is more!

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What’s your wardrobe style?

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Now, is it just me, or does anyone else feel like watching Clueless?

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Reader question: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you keep your wardrobe/closet in check? Do you think you have too much clothes, the right amount, or too little?

A Shiny New Planner & Road Trip Tips

I’ve had so many great blog post ideas queued up in my head:

  • a special (and wonderful!) announcement/reveal
  • that yummy Italian egg-bake – so perfect in the morning for busy people like us
  • as well as several other tasty recipes

But, I just couldn’t wait to share photos of my shiny new planner!

See, I used to be a bit of a geek back in school. I actually always looked forward to the start of the school year and my favorite part of getting ready for the school year was always getting new school supplies – the fun folders, the colored notebooks/paper, and oh the colored pens! Those were my faves. Well, except for my maybe the thing that kept my busy school-life in order – my planner. I would always find the prettiest, cutest planner and used all those colored pens to coordinate my subjects and homework assignments. I was so on top of my game back then. lol At one point, I even used to write down what outfit I wore that day so I didn’t wear it again too soon.

Alas, over the years, I forgot about my beloved organization system. I never really found a planner that functioned like the ones I used in school. Eventually, I tried flying by the seat of my pants without a planner. At some point, I tried entering dates and to-dos into my phone, but it just didn’t have the same effect.

It’s only been recently that I decided I should give a paper planner another try.

So, I guess, with all that history, it should come as no surprise that I was excited about the purchase of my new planner in preparation for the organization challenge I’ll be running in September.

Shiny New Planner

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I was so excited when I saw the box arrive in the mail.

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Enjoy indeed!

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I loved the TCL blue tissue paper, of course.

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And I even got some freebies – special stickers for placing on gifts, etc. Some in this nifty giraffe-looking print and some to match my planner.

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And for the planner – here it is! It’s the Life Planner by Erin Condren. See! Another super-cute, and this time personalized, planner. Hazzah!

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I chose this planner because it’s organized by week AND month – exactly the format I used back when I was in school.

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And this one has some other neat features – stickers!!

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And tabs!

And just look at all those pretty colors. I just love looking at it, which is a good thing since a planner is most effective when you look at it often. Of course, hopefully, I’m not too distracted by the colors and I actually look at the content.

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But what planner would be complete without colored pens? Ok, planners for most people would be complete, but not for me. ;)

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I wasn’t sure what colors I’d want to use, so I just picked up two sets on sale at staples.

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I wrote with each color on some white paper to see what the ink looked like.

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And I even tried matching the ink to the stickers in the back.

But, ultimately, I came up with 7 key categories/areas of my life that need to be grouped and assigned one color for each group, for example: purple-ish/pink for friends and family, green for Zumba, etc.

I’ve been using my planner for about a week now and will be giving more detailed updates with the organization challenge in September. Stay tuned for details on that soon!

And if you’re ready for a challenge now, you can jump into the August challenge – Project Think Positive. Start with any week, but click here for this week’s challenge – it’s a goodie and I think I’m already seeing good results from it! :)

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Road Trip Tips

So, on Thursday, Katie and I will embark on an epic road trip to the Healthy Living Summit. We’ll be driving almost 10 hours. Phew! So, we’ll need some good tips for staying sane during this long-long trip.

What are your road trip tips?

I asked this question on Facebook and here are your current suggestions:

  • Music!
  • Podcasts
  • Books on CD/iPod/etc.
  • Healthy snacks

Have one to add?

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*Yawn* Getting pretty sleepy here at the Chic house, so I think I’m going to head off to bed. Be sure to leave some feedback or say hello in the comments! :) I love hearing from you guys. Bailey does too.

Reader question #1: Do you use a planner? Do you think they help you stay organized and on top of things?

Reader question #2: What are your road trip tips?

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