Guest Post from Noella Puchkors: 10.3 Tips for Organizing Your Life


Hello to you! When Savannah asked me to be a guest writer for her blog, I could not say no! It is nice to get out of my normal writing subjects to focus on a things that are a little more upbeat and day-to-day nuggets of insight.
So with that, I am here today to talk a little about organization. I’m a tiny bit OCD about everything in my life, but if you are like me at all and try to be as organized as possible, I always find myself failing more times than not. Why is that? Well, I hope I will be able to give you a little insight as to what I do to keep myself organized so I can have a more productive, stress-free day.

I am going to have two lists: One for the physical needs to keep your day in order, and the second for the mental needs to keep yourself going in the right direction all day, and not get dragged onto a rabbit trail where you cannot do anything you planned on. 
Now, this is NOT to make you into a robot. Switch it up and make it spicy. You do you honey. I am just here giving suggestions as to what I like doing.

1. Buy yourself a day planner.
    It does not have to be big or pretty, but if Target is your “goals” place like me and you like looking cute and all with your new planner, then the Ashley G Academic Planners are for you. My husband and I pick a new one each year from her collection and they do not disappoint! Along with being super fashionable and matching everything, they are very organized and there is a ton of writing space for anything you may need to get done. Keep your monthly goals in it, when bills are due, when work tasks are due, etc. EVERYHING.
    1.1 If you don’t want a day planner, but love fun colors to remind you what needs to get done, Post-It Notes are your go-to. I am obsessed with all of the bright colors and the fun designs they have released. When I was a college (for a measly year) I would cover my computer screen with everything I had to do before I could get online. I am a bit of a social-media addict, so doing that really helps me. Plus if anyone else sees it, they’ll probably remind you. Or make fun of you, but all in good spirit.

2. Baskets and labels belong everywhere.
    We’re currently transforming our storage room into our office and one of the things I’d love to do is to get everything out of the closet, put a whole ton of shelves in, and put baskets with labels to keep our small stuff in its own place. Not to mention getting rid of all the boxes that are now filling my guest bedroom (moving is hard, folks). There is a lot of work to be done, but I’m determined to finish so we can have our creative space.
You can easily find any of these types of baskets at your local crafts store, or, if you live near one, the wondrous warehouse that is IKEA. They have extensive options in many different colors and styles to fit in anyone’s home perfectly.

3. Anything for filing.
    Filing cabinets or those handy-hand-held accordion folders are great for organizing coupons or receipts for each day. You can even put future bills when they are due so you know when to pay for them! They can also be used to hold important documents, like financial and health documents.

4. A laundry schedule.
    I know it sounds silly, but it is effective. Growing up, we each had an assigned day to do our laundry so no one would overlap. I keep a laundry schedule now, too. I do my laundry, then my husband’s, then the towels and maybe the sheets and pillowcases on Saturdays. It is my one day home alone, so I get as much done as possible before I have to go to bed.
    4.1 The same goes for cleaning your home. Set a day that you want to focus on deep cleaning and be diligent. You will thank yourself later. If I do not clean my house once a week, it gets overwhelmingly messy. I truly do not know how, but there will be dishes piling up by and in the sink, water bottles throughout the house, clean clothes, shoes, socks, and absolutely everything out of place! I try to clean up the trash frequently, then bleach EVERYTHING on Saturday.
    4.2 If you like keeping a clean car, set a day once or twice a month to deep clean. Even just having a routine of getting trash out, getting items you have left in your car out, and maybe just a water rinse down to get the loose dirt out.  I enjoy having a clean car, so twice per month works perfectly for me.

   Now that we are through physical stuff that will be beneficial, I want to move on to the mental side of being organized. I hope I am not the only one who feels completely out of place if I do not know what is going on or what I need to get done. I always have mini anxiety attacks when I feel like I am forgetting something.

Here are some things to keep your brain calm, collected and overall positive:
1. Wake up early and streeeeetch.
    I live an hour from my job, so I have to get up early to beat the morning traffic. Every day I wake up and I do a quick stretch - I bend my back every way, I squat down, and I shake out and reach my arms all around. It wakes me up and it gets me moving in the right direction.

Extra tip: Picking out my outfits the night before helps me not stress about what I’m going to wear. Be sure to check the weather the night before!
    Before leaving I always make sure I am happy with how I look, then I kiss my husband good morning, and head downstairs for my next point.

2. Pack healthy snacks.
    We all get lunch breaks, but before that, what are we choosing to snack on? I personally do not eat breakfast. I usually eat a granola bar and a fruit cup during the morning hours at work If I have made biscuits, I will leave with a warm biscuit with cheese and save the bar and fruit for later. Eating healthy, non-sugary snacks while at work will make you feel better about yourself and your stress levels will go down because even though the sugary, mouthwatering snacks may be tempting, they sit heavily in our stomachs and can give us some serious aches and pains. I have never had that happen when I eat a protein bar or trail mix.

3. Breaks for the mind and body.
    Sometimes at work, you may find yourself getting tired and not performing well. Take a 5 minute break to go to the bathroom, walk around, fill your water bottle, or stretch. Do anything to recharge yourself in under ten minutes. I have a desk job, so getting up and stretching my legs throughout the day is important so I don’t get locked up.
Also, take this time to think about anything other than work. You may still be in the building, but think about what you plan to do that afternoon or weekend.
The little things are what make us the happiest sometimes, so focus on the little nuggets of blessings you receive through the day.

4. Become a Bookworm, or a Yoga master, or whatever.
    I try to do yoga every day but I’ve told myself that the past 6 days I haven’t done my daily yoga. I always want to, but things have come up where I hardly get 20 minutes to myself before I’m being called to do something or go somewhere.
Find something that you love to do and do it! If you want to review movies, then watch movies and write about them all day. If you want to make jewelry, go to Michael's and start. Read a book every week, write music, start a blog, et cetera, et cetera.
 Do something that will reduce your stress levels. Stress causes depression and depression leads to anger and anger isn’t good.
I used to Crossfit after work every day at my old job, and now I just do yoga because I moved away. I had to change my routine based on my finances, my marriage, and my job.
Nothing with ever stay routine, and we just have to learn to stay calm and to flow with what comes.

5. Do not be a control freak.
    Let’s be real, no one likes the micromanager - not even the micromanager themselves! The less you worry and stress about due dates and deadlines, the more people will be open to help you out, right? Everything will turn out exactly how it should, so do not worry about it if you know you should not be. Just make it through each task the best you can.

6. Go to bed.
    Go to bed at a decent hour according to when you have to wake up so you can get a good night’s rest to be able to get up and do it all again. On your days off, do not forget that you have things to accomplish and cannot sleep in until noon no matter how much you want to. Your body will be perfectly fine sleeping until nine or ten, then just get up and kill your day!

    I hope you can add a few of my 10.3 tips on how to keep your mind, life, and home organized to your everyday life. My own blog is my way of promoting hope and love through my words.

You can also find Noella on Social Media:
Twitter @njpuchkors
Instagram @noellajoykj

5 Ways to Get Healthy the Right Way - Today!

While I am absolutely not a professional or the healthiest person in the world, I am aware that there are several easy steps we could all take in order to have better overall health.  If you have been wanting to get fit, start today!
1. Find your motivation.  If you have no "Why?" you will not be successful.  In addition to a goal weight or size, consider why you want to be that weight or size.  To be able to walk a certain distance? For your kids? For yourself?  Decide and make sure you have a constant reminder of the real reason you want to be healthier.

2. Take a month to cut out drinking anything other than water.  No soda, no alcohol, no artificially sweetened drinks.  You will quickly notice a difference in the way you feel, how your skin looks, and you will lose a decent amount of water weight.  After one month, allow yourself to treat yourself at times, but keep water as your primary liquid intake.  This is the number one essential for good health.  It is the perfect ground floor to make all of your other fitness goals reality!

3. Make a fitness goal and stick to it.  For me, I am walking at least thirty minutes every day.  While it is beneficial, it is also too short of a time and too easy to do for me to make any sort of excuse to not do it.  Do 50 push ups, dance for ten songs, or do five repetitions of three exercises at least every other day and do not allow yourself to skip any days.  Once this is a habit, build on it.  Set higher goals. 

4. Snack smarter.  First, get rid of all of the junk food in your house.  If you have anything individually wrapped, put it aside for trick-or-treaters.  Take everything else to work or to a friend instead of wasting it.  Then, go to the grocery store and stock up on snacks to eat when you need one, but will also not tempt you.  Also, consider the snacks you like most and get substitutes.  If you like chips, find a crunchy alternative like an apple or cucumber.  Sweet tooth? Try berries or a trail mix with a little bit of dark chocolate.  If you are hungry, absolutely eat, just make conscious decisions on what you're putting in your body!
5. Do not give up.  This is much easier said than done, but I mean it!  If you make the wrong health choice for a moment, day, or even for a full week - still do not give up.  Pick up where you left off. Eating a candy bar at 11am is not an excuse to eat poorly for the rest of the day.  Waking up Wednesday morning and realizing you have not worked out all week does not mean you can put it off until Monday.  It is okay to fall down, but you better get right back up!

5 Ways to Make Your Long Weekend Productive

With Labor Day weekend among us, I started thinking about how to make the most of having that extra day of "free time."  I believe that being productive is often misunderstood as being busy, but taking care of yourself is also of high importance when it comes to productivity.  

1. Wake Up Early
Instead of sleeping in, start your morning early.  Make a cup of coffee and think.  Allow yourself to obtain a clear mind. Pull out your favorite magazine or laptop and get inspired.  Write down ideas and find true motivation.  Set goals for the day and decide how to manage your time.  Having this "free time" to do things like search Pinterest and watch YouTube videos will allow for less distractions during the day so you can get more work done!

2. Decorate for Fall
It is officially September and I am beyond stoked for the fall season.  Boots, flannel, football, and apple cider -- I am ready for every bit of it.  Switch to darker table cloths, put up your fall wreath, If you absolutely love Halloween, go ahead cover your house in black and orange to get two months out of celebration.  Who said you can't?

3. Clean Out Your Closet
Take the extra time you have this weekend to go through every single piece in your fall/winter wardrobes - see what fits and what you love.  Sell or donate any items you do not absolutely love.  Make a list of things that need to be replaced, take advantage of Labor Day sales, and go shopping for those new purchases!
(Mercari is a great app for selling clothing and pretty much anything! Use the code FRHWTA for a $2 credit to use when replacing the items you get rid of).
4. Learn Something New
Planning a trip to a different country?  Take this time to learn some new words and phrases of their language.  If you are planning holiday parties, try some new recipes!  Get crafting, read a book, or take a class.  Listen to a podcast on a topic you are interested in while you clean out your closet or decorate for fall.  There are opportunities for developing yourself everywhere you look.

5. Recharge
Go on a trip - whether it's to a local city for a day or out of town for all three days.  Having new surroundings sparks more creativity in me than anything else.  Going to a different place always reminds me of how big this world really is and how much there is to see.  I find so much drive in seeing people do what they love and it is the best way to prompt me to do the same.  Whatever it is that you know always gives you a new perspective, do it.  

I hope this post gave you some ideas of how to make your weekend the most productive possible.  I am so excited for the beginning of a new month and a new season!  How are you spending your Labor Day Weekend?  Let me know in the comments below!

How to Spend the Least Money on the Most Groceries

In a world where healthy food is a costly necessity, yet extreme couponing may as well be a full time job, I have devised a plan that does not take hours out of my week, but does save me hundreds of dollars per year.

Now, I want to preface this with making sure that it is known that you cannot save TONS of money by having a strict grocery list, but if you are willing to do things such as substitute Viva paper towels when you are used to purchasing Charmin or meal plan based off of the best deals; you are in business.

1) Rebate Apps
That's right!  Did you know that you can get rebates from your grocery bill without having to go to a specific website or mail anything in?  All you have to do is check the offers, match with your list, then scan your receipt!
First, Ibotta is by far the most popular.  Use the referral code "arxgdrg" for an extra $10 when you redeem your first rebate!
Next, MobiSave offers several different categories.  "ANPQWZAW" is the code to use when signing up for this one!
Last,Checkout 51 and Savings Star are also great for getting money back for your purchases at the grocery store!

2) Target Red Card + Cartwheel
By getting a Target Red Card, whether it be credit or debit, you automatically get 5% off of all Target purchases - that's $5 off of a $100 grocery bill.  However, grocery shopping at Target is not normal for anyone I know.  What I do is use the 5% as a bonus to save even more when I am using Cartwheel, which in summary, is a Target coupon app that gives you percentages off of certain items, which are constantly changing.
I use Cartwheel like this:  Go to offers, then to categories, select "All," and categorize by discount.
Right now, the highest percent off is 60% on EVOL Frozen Snack Cups.  Add the 5% from the Red Card, and that's a savings of 65%, simply by using an app and card.

3) Publix BOGO
Publix has close to one hundred items "Buy One, Get One Free" at any given time.  Not only does this mean getting groceries (and sometimes toiletries) at a two-for-one value, but you can almost always also choose to only purchase one at half price, which would work best for anyone with a very low weekly or biweekly budget for food.  In my experience, Publix prices are generally higher than almost any grocery store, but getting either one for half of their price or two for one is still a significant savings.

The last note I have is that while any of these methods would allow for you to purchase anything you need at the grocery store for half price as long as you are willing to be flexible with which brands you use and are willing to try new things based off of items with the highest discounts -- but the REAL savings come when you can combine rebate app offers with items on BOGO or Cartwheel.

What are your best money saving grocery store hacks?  Leave them in the comments below!

Who Am I?

Any time I face a disappointing situation in my life, a trail of thoughts that I often think others can relate to goes through my head. Parts of those thoughts are my emotions speaking, but an immense amount of those thoughts are logical notions that can be transferred to multiple individuals in diverse circumstances. I want to help others work through their problems, so I hope my words can aid others to comfort in times of uncertainty. I am taking today to relaunch this platform. I need to write for my own therapy and I need to accept that there is no perfect formula for writing. When words come, I will post. When they are in the distance, I will wait.

Today something happened that made me question “Who am I?”

This is a question that I think people of all ages ask themselves frequently. As important it is to have confidence in the person you are and stand firm in beliefs and ethics, it is also important to realize that we are constantly growing. There are times that I am completely secure in who I am, but then weeks, months, or years go by, and I find myself so far evolved that I again need to answer, “Who am I?”

Surroundings change, relationships change, and we cannot control the way the world around us alters. In turn, passions change, goals change, and where inspiration is drawn from also changes.

I am still learning more about myself and I believe I am going through a substantial transition.

I am proud of the person I have become, but I am even more proud that I am not the same as yesterday and I will be even better tomorrow.

A Look Inside My Overnight Bag

Living in Atlanta, having all of my family in Alabama, and being convenient to several amazing cities often calls for short one or two night trips.  This past weekend I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to work an event at the infamous Rocketown, so I thought I would bring you along by giving you a look into my bag.

1. Clothing
When I am out of town, I always take my daily outfits on hangers with a garment bag over them to protect them.  So, these are the only clothes I am packing into a bag for my one night trip. My pajamas are a t-shirt and comfortable shorts. I am taking fuzzy socks and slippers because they make me feel at home and I refuse to walk barefoot on hotel room floors.  Underwear and socks are essential, plus I always bring an extra pair just in case!

2. Accessories/Shoes
I tried to pack as lightly as possible since I would monly be away for a single night, but after this photo I managed to add yet another pair of shoes. (In my defense, in the Southeast every day is pretty much a low of 30 something and a high in the fifties, so it makes choosing between practical and fashionable especially difficult). The blanket scarf is from Target and is an easy addition to an outfit if it's one of those 30 something days. I use a dust bag to keep all of my jewelry together and organized. For sunglasses, I often times take a cheap pair from the dollar store because it will not mater if they're damaged or lost while on the trip.

3. Toiletries
I always take my "wet" toiletries in a cosmetic bag that has plastic lining that is easy to clean.  The first thing photographed is a Viva La Juicy roller ball by Juicy Couture.  I like to take roller balls when I travel because they are less expensive, more compact, and have less product than full size bottles, so there is less risk.  Next are Cetaphil make-up wipes, Dove deodorant, and a travel bottle with hand soap inside.  I always take my own hand soap to hotels because I hate using the bar soap that is provided.  Following after are all of my in shower products: Aveda shampoo and conditioner, a Softsoap body wash, Summer's Eve, and Cetaphil face wash.  Last are floss "pluckers," my travel toothbrush, and toothpaste!

4. Make-Up

Most days I do not wear make-up at all, but I make up for it on the days I do. I am not a beauty guru and I do not do anything out of the ordinary. I honestly do not have much brand loyalty, either. What you see is what you get!
5. Hair

I get my hair done at an Aveda salon by a girl who loves their in house products, but is open minded about what works for her clients. Through our conversations, I have found the perfect cocktail for my blonde hair. Aveda Damage Remedy is great for anyone, just be careful how much and how often you use it! I have always been obsessed with Dry Bar because who doesn't love someone else styling their hair while you drink a mimosa? I was on the fence about Blonde Ale because it's expensive for such a small amount of product, but it goes a long way and I cannot imagine my hair routine without it! Before finding out about It's a 10 for Blondes, I had wanted to try their original formula for ages. Once again, the cost ratio did not seem practical... until there was one for blondes. Put "blonde" on a product and I will purchase it and try it because keeping the perfect shade is important to me. The last product is hairspray, and like make-up, I do not have brand loyalty. I brush it through my hair once I am satisfied, and I'm done! I have no problem using a hotel's hair dryer, so the only styling tool I take on any trip is my straightener. Straightening my hair is the only way I know how to do it. 

I know everyone has their own method of packing, but this is what works best for me. I love watching any kind of "What's in My Bag" videos on YouTube and I know others do, too! I hope you learned a tip or two that can help you pack more efficiently. What's your travel must have? Leave a comment or find me on social media! @SavannahMaye

Skip the Reservations: A Guide to a Memorable Valentine’s Day

Every year for Valentine’s Day, thousands of couples exchange gifts, sit down at a table for an overpriced dinner, have everyday conversation, and go home like after any other date.

The holiday that is completely centered around love often times becomes monotonous and nothing more than another excuse to plaster photos all over social media.   

This Valentine’s Day, whether you are spending it with family, friends, or your significant other, it should be special and centered around making your bond stronger.  Regardless of where you live, you are within driving distance of tons of fun attractions as long as you are willing to think outside the box.

With Valentine's Day being on a Sunday this year, it will be easy to spend the day somewhere unusual. Instead of having to deal with dinner reservations and having the "perfect" date go wrong, do something simple, thoughtful, and hard to mess up.

If you live near a large city, this is especially easy. If not, take a day trip or a weekend trip to somewhere a few hours away!

The Atlanta skyline at sunset

If you are taking a road trip, start with a thoughtful gift by making goody bags for you and whoever you are traveling with.  You should include your Valentine's favorite snacks, a drink, and maybe a couple of other things related to your planned activity such as hand sanitizer or tissues.

Once you are actually at your destination, here are some ideas of what to do:
1. Museum - Art gallery, science or history showcase, or exhibit on food or pop culture, such as World of Coke in Atlanta, Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, or Hershey’s Chocolate World in Pennsylvania
2. Park - Either a city park for a picnic or a state park for hiking
3. Theme park - Six Flags, Disney World, Busch Gardens
4. Aquarium - Perfect location for the perfect Instagram shot, plus who does not love watching fish for hours?
5. Zoo - Seeing the animals is always entertaining, but adding an experience like feeding giraffes will make it especially memorable
6. Beach - Walking around, swimming, or doing anything by the water if it is warm where you live 

My boyfriend, Greg, and I at World of Coke
If you do not have the funds or time to go out of time for Valentine’s Day, you could either do something from the above list in your hometown or have a staycation for the day in the comfort of your home.  Amazon Prime, Netflix, Red Box, and take out food in bed should be more than a suitable date for your significant other, family, or friends.  For those without much money to spend, you can also focus less on the event and more on letting your loved one know how appreciated they are through a note, serving them, or anything that goes out of your way compared to a normal day to show them how much you care.

I truly hope this was helpful and that you have a great Valentine's Day this year!  Make memories, show others your love for them, and do not forget to show your better half gratitude every day throughout the year.  What are your plans?  Leave me a comment below or find me on Instagram and Twitter!  @SavannahMaye

© Savannah Maye

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