Friday, May 19, 2017

Erin Condren 2018 LifePlanner Review & $10 Coupon

Greetings Faithful Blog Readers,

If you know me, you know that yesterday was basically Christmas for me since my 2018 Erin Condren LifePlanner arrived!

Before we get into the review, I'd like to state for the record that I purchase my own Erin Condren products and am not compensated in any way by the company. I just really like the products. Should you decide to give their LifePlanner (or anything else EC) a try after reading my review, I'd really appreciate it if you'd use my personal referral link (you will save $10, and I will get a $10 credit, so it's a win/win!)

First, a few details: There are not a LOT of options for the LifePlanner. You can get a hardcover book or a spiral bound now (which uses interchangeable covers); I love the traditional spiral. You can personalize your cover (many of the designs, like this one, you can choose any color combination you want), and you can choose the color of your spiral (I picked Rose Gold). You can also choose if you want remaining months of 2017 + 2018 or just 2018. I always buy my LifePlanner in the summers, but I only get it for the upcoming Jan-Dec year. I personally like a less heavy book, but I want to be able to write down future dates as they come in.

I love how my design came out. The hardest part will be waiting to use it! 

This year, EC continued to leave the pouch unattached to the planner, but they do provide a large coil clip if you wish to attach it yourself. I leave mine out of my book: I've found this makes it less heavy and flatter (the interchangeable covers sometimes peel off non-flat planners. This is no big deal, you just pop the cover back onto the spiral, but it can be annoying to have to do that frequently). The inside of the book cover is dry erase (you can use permanent marker and alcohol will erase it), and they kept the same velum overlay, which is pretty and functional (protects from smearing if you use your dry erase board). 

The pouch included some freebies like compliment cards, gift tags (Brendan and I ordered some of these and love them for taking bottles of wine to birthdays, housewarmings, etc.), a large coil clip, sticker sheet, and a hardbound notebook (some of these freebies may have been for early release, so check the website). 

The biggest difference in the LifePlanner this year is the paper quality. This is FSC-certified quality paper made at a mill in America, and you can feel (and smell!) the difference. I'm geeking out over the weight of it.

They also improved the weight of the card stock on the tabs, so those will be less likely to bend. Just like last year, you can order a colorful or neutral design for your planner. I always go with colorful, and I like that the colors are bolder this year compared to last year's pastels. 

After the year at a glance is the goal's sheet that you can use to make monthly goals (or, you could budget here or do something else). I try to set attainable goals, but I'll work on how to use the pages more effectively. My April goal literally just said "survive semester." Check. 

Last year, there was a ruled notes page before each monthly view. This year, it has been replaced with the format you see on the left. I personally use this page to jot down information only relevant to that month (such as who did extra credit, recommendations about places I'm traveling to, meeting notes, or quotes on services we need for our house or catering if there's an event at school). I think this new format is whimsical, and I could see myself using the circles to track my weight and fitness goals (I currently use the monthly view for that). The quote pages are also back. 

I love the look of this year's calendar pages. I always write everything coming up on my calendar and then transfer to the weekly view each week. I track all of our bills on the right side of this page. 

Can I just say how amazing it is that 2018 begins on a Monday? I love this next year already. This is the "weekly view." Erin Condren offers three weekly view options: vertical (pictured here), horizontal (think your traditional school planner), and hourly. I use the top box for anything in my day before noon, the middle box for noon-5pm, and the bottom box for after 5pm. This works great for me, but I don't have a ton of variety in my daily schedule (for instance, I only need to write down meetings that are outside of my normal teaching/tutoring schedule). I like that they kept the thankful thought box but didn't label it as such. I'll continue to use it as thankful thought (it's a nice way to start the week), but I definitely see how that wouldn't be for some people. I use the left side of the page for my weekly to do list, and I often write down meal plans across the bottom of the page (on weeks when I have my stuff together that is). 

The notes section is back with four pages of lined paper (I use mine to track professional development, car maintenance, gift ideas, and discussion question sign ups for my lit classes). 

Four pages of dotted grid paper replaced the graph paper (I rarely use the graph paper, so this change doesn't affect me much). 

Four coloring pages replaced the four blank pages. I really like this change because I don't have much use for blank pages, but could see myself using these to decompress. 

Same great format for the year ahead page. I always write the next year's school schedule here as soon as it is released plus dates of upcoming weddings. 

The sticker sheets are more useful this year (I know it's funny to talk about stickers as being "useful," but they really help me visualize my week and all the things I need to remember). 

The folder is identical to last year's. 

And a perpetual calendar is still included, so you can write down birthdays/anniversaries. Maybe I should use the password page, so we could finally remember our Apple ID for the Apple TV?

I didn't want my old LifePlanner to feel too sad, so I ordered a new interchangeable cover for it :) 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spring Ends, Summer Begins

Greetings faithful blog readers,

Maybe you remember from college (or currently experience as a student or professor) the stress of the semester. It feels all consuming: the grading, prepping, tutoring, and teaching for the professors and the writing, learning, studying, and note-taking for the students.

And just like that, it ends.

I remember my last day of college: I was terrified that I would be hit by a car and that I'd never get to go out into the world with my degree. The accomplishment of finishing college is life changing. I am fortunate that I get to witness it for hundreds of people once a year. Some of them are earning bachelors and most are earning associates; many of these students will go on to continue their studies elsewhere. For the second year in my career, I wrote a recommendation letter for a student, and she won the $26,000 continuance scholarship she applied for. Every semester, I'm in awe: not just of how much their lives change but of how much they end up changing me.

This semester, 100% of my developmental students passed into 1301. 89% signed up for the subsequent 1301 course, and of those, 88% passed with a C or higher. To watch them change as writers and to watch their confidence as students grow is such a gift. In the Language Hub, 130 students came to our optional workshops with topics ranging from grammar to audience awareness to formatting. 2016-17 was an incredibly special year: winning the Teaching Excellence Award and attending Innovations in San Francisco will be hard to top. I have a feeling this year will always stand out to me.

This school year was awesome, but we were ready for it to end. We need time to refresh.

On Saturday morning, I already felt a little lighter. I woke up early and drove to San Angelo (two hours away) to meet my mom at her sister's home. Brendan decided to stay at home to work on his writing and get his interim course set up. I had an amazing day with family: lunch, manicures and pedicures, and a dinner outside complete with two sets of aunts and uncles, my two cousins, and my mom, plus a beautiful sunset.

On mother's day, I went to brunch at the Angry Cactus with my mom, aunt Lisa, and cousin McKenna (hard to believe, but she is 13 years old now!)

My mom wanted to stop in and see her mom, so we went to the cemetery and brought birdseed (my grandmother found it depressing when people brought flowers to graves). It made me sad that my mom no longer has her mom, and it made me appreciate her even more. 

Back at home, Brendan and I enjoyed the first summer patio dinner (thanks to his trip to the grocery store) and facetimed with his mom before going to bed. All the moms in our lives are amazing, and we are lucky lucky! 

On Monday, our online interim courses began. I have 16 students, and Brendan has 17. These courses last only 3 weeks. Yesterday was pretty delightful: I participated in discussion with my class, worked on my story, read for fun (Madame Bovary), read submissions for Driftwood Press, took my regular barre class, made a wonderful dinner and ate on the patio with Brendan, and we settled in to watch HBO's "Mommy Dead and Dearest" (a documentary about the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case). 

I love this summer life. And every year, I feel that it arrives just in time.

We hope you have much to look forward to as well!

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 2017 Stitch Fix

Greetings faithful blog readers. I can't wait to tell you about my 11th Stitch Fix that arrived on Thursday. If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, please read my first ever review, which explains how it works. Should you decide to get a fix, please use my referral link; I'd greatly appreciate the referral credit. This post is in no way sponsored; I pay for my own fixes and all opinions are my own.

This was my first fix to order in six months! I've been really into the comfiness of LulaRoe lately, so I haven't been ordering as many fixes, but I still love a Stitch Fix as a special treat from time to time. I didn't give many specific directions to my stylist; I just told her that it was already summer here and I was looking for clothes to wear during the hot days. 

I was pleased when my fix arrived to read that Meagan had styled me once again. She is a great stylist, and even though I didn't keep everything, I really think it was well suited for me. I had just showered, so enjoy my "messy hair, don't care" pics. 

First up was the Abree Aline Skirt and the Tucker Split Back Top: 

I was and am absolutely obsessed with this outfit. First off, it checks the box of something I'd wear to work or wear for fun. It's comfortable, cool for hot weather, AND the price was right ($38 for the top and $38 for the skirt). My only issue was that I needed a smaller size in the top, but thanks to the recent (within the past few months) ability to swap sizes, it was no problem. I simply indicated on my check out form that I needed a small in the top, sent back my medium top with my other nos, and soon I'll have the top in my correct size. So easy! Side note: why do companies insist on making arm holes so gosh darn big?! 

Next, I swapped tops and tried on the Niro Linen Pocket Knit Tee. This tee was comfortable and oversized, and I liked it. The issue was that I already have other things like this. Plus, I just didn't feel like spending $48 on a tee shirt. This was a no for me. 

Brendan was brushing his teeth while I tried on the Chester Cargo Short (yep, that's our messy bathroom counter with a Moscow Mule cup on it from the night before--classy), so I took my own pic. These shorts were really quite short! That doesn't bother me too much, but the price tag here ($68) did. Yikes! No thanks: this was a return. 

Up next was the Elinna Knit Dress. 

This dress was cute, it honestly was. I could see myself wearing it. The $64 price tag was too steep for the quality of the dress (it was a simple knit dress) in my opinion. I liked the dress but didn't love it, so it was a return. 

Even though I returned 3 of 5 items, I was still really happy with my fix. I left my stylist feedback on my price points, and I hope she listens. It's not that I mind paying money for high quality items, but if I can get something similar (cargo shorts, or knit tee/dress) for half the price somewhere else, I'm definitely returning. I loved the first outfit though, so I'm still really happy I signed up for this fix! 

In other news, we drove to Lubbock this weekend to buy Brendan a new car! Actually, we bought a 2016 VW Golf with 9,111 miles, so it was slightly used. 

It was a little emotional saying goodbye to Brendan's old Ford Escort, a gift from Boompa (his grandfather) before he started grad school. I may have shed a tear at lunch over it, but after 23 years of service to the Egan family, it was time to say goodbye to the old Ford. 

And we LOVE the VW Golf. And we love having two reliable cars (something we do not take for granted!) 

I realize it has been a few weeks since my last update, but I've been caught up in the semester ending and grading. I probably won't check in here until after final grades go in. The good news is that that is coming up as graduation is Friday. I have about 75 papers left to grade (yikes!) and then it's finally summer! 

Hang in there students and teachers! Finals week only lasts a week! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Break

Greetings faithful blog readers!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Ours was packed with so much fun, and I wanted to share a recap.

We had Friday off, and we got up early to straighten the house up for the house keepers and then headed to breakfast at Mulberry Cafe. Sadly, Lori's closed leaving Midlanders with frightfully few breakfast options. Mulberry was a good bet though; the prices are reasonable, and the food is good. Afterwards, we headed to the nursery to pick out some plants before heading home. We met up with friends at the beer garden for "after work" drinks. We also shared dinner at the beer garden (our first time eating there), and were pleased with the food. We ended the night by watching Louis CK and Lilo and Stitch on the couch.

These boots weren't made for walking

On Saturday, I made avocado toast with eggs for both of us (thanks for the idea, California) before heading to a special 90s R&B yoga class. After class, I came home and put on Sunscreen, and Brendan and I spent the next four hours outside working in the yard and planting our new plants (Brendan was already at work while I was at class).

I love these "ponytails" and planted a couple between the evergreens in the side-yard.

I totally forget what these are called, but they are supposed to be popular with butterflies, and my goal is to make our yard a butterfly/hummingbird haven, so I bought and planted two. My friend Jesse (Graham's best friend from growing up) passed away in November 2010 and butterflies always remind me of him.

New "ice plant" succulent in the cactus garden (to replace the barrel cactus that did not survive the winter). 

Our big news is that we planted this desert willow in the side-yard in the middle of where the grass will one day be. When I say "we," please note that I mean Brendan dug the hole and I helped with smaller tasks :) 

Side-yard progress picture (we have a long way to go!): 

After all the planting, we cleared, swept, and sprayed our patio, and then opened it for the season (yay!) We had to take an evening trip to Pier One for new cushions (not sure I told you guys, but a bunny moved into our storage bin in October and destroyed the other cushions). After Pier One, we satisfied our sweet tooth with our first visit to Fountainville Creamery. The ice cream was good, but honestly working at Amy's in Austin gave me an extremely high bar for ice cream that is hard to meet!

Saturday night, we started watching The Magicians on Netflix, and we're both fans (think Harry Potter for adults). I've read the books, but it was a long time ago, so I'm not sure I can compare the two accurately. 

On Easter Sunday, I woke up wanting to make Mimi's waffles, so I texted my cousin Amanda for the fiftieth time saying I lost the recipe; luckily, Amanda reminds me how I actually have the recipe and where it is.

For dinner, I made this black bean and chickpea chili from the insulin resistance cookbook. It was a win with both of us, and we polished off the leftovers tonight. 

I also made my favorite Grapefruit Olive Oil Poundcake from Smitten Kitchen. I've made this several times, and I'm so proud of myself for mastering this one! 

I enjoyed seeing everyone's dressed up cute Easter photos, but in all honestly, I stayed in my PJs all day and loved it. I read an article in The New Yorker I've been meaning to get to, and I took an amazing candlelight bath while it was thundering and lightening outside. It was a relaxing day and just what I needed.

Today, we were still off, so we started the day at Home Depot. Brendan built us a new front yard flower bed, and I need another lantana for the matching bed (since only one came back from last year).

Not sure you can see the triangle beds on either side of the driveway, but they're there. The best sighting today was our hummingbird (spotted twice). We hope she builds her nest in our maple again!

Then, I met up with my friend Allison for manicures and pedicures and lunch. I'm addicted to the margarita pedicure. 

Here's a pic of our new succulent and my newly painted toes: 

I went to barre class tonight, and we ate leftovers on our patio. We also got great news today that Brendan was accepted to present at SCMLA (I got my acceptance last week), so we're both ready for Tulsa in October! He's presenting on Race and Gender in 20th Century Literature, and I'm presenting on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. I'm looking forward to my paper SO MUCH (hint: it involves Margaret Atwood). 

We'll end today with another episode of The Magicians. I'm sad the break is over, but I'm ready to knock out the last month of the semester. Tomorrow, I'm subbing for a co-worker and tutoring until 10:30pm with Brendan...wish us luck! 

Hope your Easter, Passover, or weekend was fantastic. 

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