Monday, September 26, 2016

Inkwell Press Flex Planner Review

I've been doing planner reviews on my blog since I started writing posts over 2 years ago. You can check out my Martha Stewart planner review here from 2014 and my Erin Condren planner review from 2015 here

For the year 2016, I chose to go with the Inkwell Press Planner! I've written up a detailed review of it in case you're interested in this brand. The planner is pictured above, along with the pouch I keep it in, which is the Erin Condren brand. The pouch is personalized with my name and fits the planner and a lot of other things!

When I purchased this planner at the end of last year, there was only an option of buying it online. I was a little hesitant to buy something without seeing it first, but I had heard great things about it so went for it! I was not disappointed!

This year, however, you can go to any Office Depot store and check out the planners for yourself! The designs on the cover for 2017 and even more beautiful than last year's. I'm looking forward to checking them out myself, but haven't decided which planner I'll be using in 2017 yet!

Inkwell Press is a company that designs planner for women that are made by women. Its main objective is to make you productive, and it has several methods of ensuring that you focus on your goals. 

Alright, let's get started with the review!

This is how everything came in the mail. We were given a free sample of their weekly layout for the desk notepad. Everything was well protected and there were no damages. 

The quality of the planner is its greatest feature. The paper is the thickest on the market for planners, and that ensures no bleed through. It's 140 GSM, which is 100 lb paper. The cover is matte laminate that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, and it has mylar tabs. It comes with a snap-in ruler which can also be used as a bookmark, and the wire-o binding allows you to lay it flat while planning. I love the muted colors in the planner, as they give it a sophisticated touch. There is also an elastic band attached to this planner, which helps make sure that everything is intact. 

Here's how my planner looks after I added a few accessories. The Erin Condren sticky notes dashboards fit inside perfectly, and this was a huge bonus for me because I love planning with them. I also added a storage pocket in front with appointment cards in them, and a few sticky notes with important information.

The planner starts off with a section for important dates for the year, which is great for a quick glance. 

One of my favorite things about the Inkwell Planner is how goal-oriented it is. It helps break everything down to more manageable tasks, so you feel less overwhelmed and more likely to do them. There are six different aspects to look into for goals, and they cover almost everything you'll need for the year.

Here's a look at the month at a glance section. There's ample space to list different activities. I color code according to different themes, and you can check out what each color represents in this picture from last year: 

The planner continues on to have a Mission Board, further helping in ensuring that you're focused on your goals. I love the unique design as it makes things more interesting!

I bought the Flex version of the planner, which is the horizontal layout, as opposed to the Classic version which is vertical, so that I am able to be creative with how I use my space. 

I've attached a few pictures of how my week at a glance looks so that you can get a rough idea. I use sticky notes a lot, especially if it's an event that may get canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Color coding is a must for me to be easily able to navigate through the page if I glance through it.  

The planner has three boxes on the side of each day, with no titles, so that you're free to use them as you wish. I personally use them for making sure I take my medicine or give my son his medicine, planning what I'll be having for dinner, and I also have a Happy Thought box. The last box is just to have a positive outlook of life. It's always nice to look back on and see your blessings. 

There's also a Notes section at the bottom, which is a great feature. I used it to track my pregnancy and wrote tasks for the week. 

There are also Notes sections at the end of every month if you need to write things in more detail. I use these sections to manage my travel plans, make packing lists for my hospital stay for baby, do party planning, and jot down ideas for my blog. I'm sure there are thousands of different ways to use these pages. Use your imagination! 

Since I DID have a baby this year and also have a toddler to take care of, I did not have enough time to completely benefit from all the pages from this planner. There are a few pages at the back of the planner that are empty, but I would definitely have used them if I had more time.

There's a Gift List with spaces for Name, Ideas, Item Purchased and Money Spent. This is great for Eid or Christmas, or in my case, traveling to meet family members. 

There's a page for listing movie shows to watch and books to read for the year, and another page for tracking bills. There is also a section for travel details that I haven't taken a picture of. All very useful stuff! 

The planner ends with a calendar of the year 2017 so that you can plan ahead, and a few pockets at the back to add papers.

I use these magnetic clips that I bought at Michael's as bookmarks for different pages and they have been holding up great! 

Another thing that I haven't mentioned yet is that there are videos online made by the company showing you how to use the planner in the most productive way. This is especially great if you're a beginner. You can find these videos on their website

Overall, I really love the Inkwell Press in Flex. It has everything you could possibly need in a planner and the quality is better than most other planners. If you buy the planner at Office Depot then the price really is not bad at $30. Buying it online last year was more expensive, and it also sold out very fast. It is far more accessible this year. The videos are very beneficial, and I love how the creator of this planner is also accessible on social media. Every time I post a picture of my planner on my Instagram page she replies with feedback! The only cons I can think of are that it may be bulky to carry around everywhere, and you need a lot of time to be able to fully make use of this planner. If those two things aren't an issue for you then I'm 100% sure that you will love this planner! 

If you would like to purchase anything from the Inkwell brand, you can get a $10 discount by clicking here, and if you would like to purchase anything from the Erin Condren brand, you can get $10 off by clicking here

I hope this review was helpful to you! Let me know which planner you will be using in 2017! I still need to decide!

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Guest Room/Office Combo, and How to Make Guests Feel Welcome!

Dual purpose spaces become a necessity when living in an apartment. Today I'll show you how I've combined our guest room and office space to make the room multi-functional. Apart from that, I'll also be posting some ideas on how you can make your guests feel very welcome in your home during their stay!

Even though space is tight in apartments, I ended up getting a queen sized bed for the guest room for the sake of comfort. This is especially important if you have couples or families staying over. By positioning the bed sideways against the wall, I was able to create a daybed looking effect and there was more space to walk around in the room this way. I also added in an arm chair for relaxing. To the right is the closet. When I have guests over I try to empty a portion of the closet for them and leave out plenty of hangers for their convenience. I also keep an electric fan and heater in the closet just in case the guests are feeling too hot or cold during the night. 

The bed faces the other side of the room, which is where the office is. The majority of the desk is cleared off if guests are over so that they have space to work on. However, I try to keep out some pens and a notepad in case they need to jot down anything. I also have a sleep pillow mist which is lavender and vanilla scented on the desk in case they need it. A clock is also placed on the desk, and there is a trash can under the desk for their convenience. These are small things that can sometimes be forgotten to be placed in the guestroom, thereby making things inconvenient for those staying over.

I try to make my overnight guests feel special by providing a simple basket filled with goodies and other essentials on the bed. Here I have some fresh towels, snacks, water bottles, toiletries, some pain relievers, cough drops, a washcloth, and I also keep a slip of paper with the WiFi password on it. If you have Muslim guests, you should try to include a paper with prayer times, a prayer mat, Qiblah direction, prayer beads and a copy of the Quran in the room too.

Whenever we have guests over and they see this basket upon arrival in their room, they have the biggest smile on their face and really appreciate the effort put into it! It definitely makes them feel welcome!

Finally, to make their trip extra memorable, give them breakfast in bed! Waking up a little early to whip up a quick breakfast is a gesture that will brighten their day and start it off just right. The above picture is an example of what I've given guests. Adding a small flower arrangement on the tray doesn't hurt either :)

I hope these tips were helpful to you! Let me know what YOU do to make your guests feel special! I'd love to learn more! 

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Organizing Toys

In an attempt to organize my 3 year old's play area, I went out and bought 2 wheeled carts from Target ($25 each) and labeled each section with very simple sketches. We've had this system up for a few weeks and my son knows exactly where his toys go! You could also try printing out images for categorizing. A bonus with these metallic carts is that they are magnetic, so you can get creative with them! The wheels also make it easy to move from room to room if you need it for that.

Here is a close up of the labels. Very basic, but the main thing is that it's easy for him to understand!

I have labels for pretend play (laptop, phone and medical kit), cars, books, baby toys (mainly for guests during play date at this point) and blocks. 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! I'd love to hear about how you keep your kids' toys organized as well!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nightstand Organization

   As the new year rolled around in 2016, I wanted to update my bedroom decor to give it a more elegant and serene feel. Here's a quick look at the before and after:

The before was a more fun and ethnic style of decor, whereas the after is going for the more sophisticated style. I didn't have a headboard initially, and created the illusion of having one by using pillows and a low wall hanging. For the new look, I ended up buying a new headboard, bedding and nightstand. In this blog post I'll give you a closer look at how I organize this space!

The top of the nightstand has a few essential items...a water bottle, tissue box, and some nighttime lotions and pillow mist. I have had issues with insomnia and I can assure you that the sleep pillow mists from Bath and Body Works with the lavender and vanilla scent are one of the few things that actually work! You can also check out the rave reviews on Amazon here.

Moving on to the inside of the nightstand:

I am using this space as something that is both functional and fun. I have items in here that I would reach for on a regular basis, along with some stationery items. It's very easy to make your nightstand a junk drawer as you stuff random things inside while cleaning your room. It becomes out of sight, out of mind. However, if you consciously think of what you want to do with this space, it can end up being a very practical area in your bedroom.

Here's a look at the top shelf. I got the striped bins from the Dollar Spot at Target, and the calendar was handmade at a Paper Source craft workshop. The area in the back holds some notebooks, post-its and some books I'm currently reading. 

I've kept two bins on the top shelf with a few nightstand essentials in each. 

In one of the bins I kept all of my medicine which I take regularly or that I might need at night time. Pictured are my multivitamins, melatonin for sleep aid, Tylenol for headaches or other pain, and some allergy relief medication.

The other bin has some moisturizing body lotion, lip balm, nail cutter, nail file and nail buffer, along with my toddler's nail scissors. I also kept a couple of hair clips here for easy access in the mornings.

The notebooks and notepads at the back of the top shelf are standing on a letter sorter I purchased from Target for $3. 

Moving on to the bottom shelf, I have a few more items that I might need or are stationery related. On the far left I keep a hot water bottle for aches or cramps. In the center is an organizer with some ear buds, colored pens, washi tape, paper clips, sticky notes and other basics. 

 Finally, here are the last few items in the nightstand. I have a mini version of a few stationery supplies such as stapler, hole punch, tape etc, a reading light for books, a torch in case of power outage, a bookmark, and a collection of cards for various occasions to send out if the need arises! 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! I'd love to hear what else you keep in your nightstand in case I'm missing out on something.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Blizzard/Power Outage Emergency Tray

Blizzard tip: In winter it's always a good idea to keep a few things readily accessible in case of a power outage. In a tray here I've kept a lantern with new batteries, a candle, lighter, small torch, scissors with a few extra gadgets in it and a solar power phone charger, fully charged. One more thing I would add to the list is a  battery powered radio to keep up with the news on weather. If you have any other tips then let me know!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Organize Jewelry for Under $5!

If you're one of those people who have their jewelry stuffed in a drawer somewhere with all their necklaces and earrings tangled up, then this tip might be useful for you! I found some products at Target that can help in keeping everything in its place:

The divided tray which looks acrylic (but is actually plastic!) only costs $1, while a set of two accessory hangers cost $3.  

This organizer perfectly fits in a watch and a few earrings or rings. At $1 a piece you could buy several according to your collection. It would definitely give your closet a boutique feel to have it all laid out. You can read more about how to give your closet that feel in my post here

The hanger works great for necklaces, bracelets and hanging earrings. With everything in front of you, you are more likely to use what you have instead of forgetting about it. Just make sure you don't display your valuable jewelry in this manner, just the artificial pieces :)

If you're unable to find these organizers at Target, you could try some other stores. Not sure what the price difference will be but they get the job nicely done! 

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reuse Contact Lens Cases in 3 ways!

Recently I got the chance to go to a Henri Bendel store for the first time. I know, I'm pretty late to the game! I particularly liked the hardware and detailing of the products. I happened to come across this cute contact lens case, and I couldn't pass it up because it was on clearance!

The problem? I don't wear contacts. Yeah.

It took me a while to figure out what I would need it for, but I came up with 3 ways this handy case could be used. 

Traveling with Jewelry:

The contact lens plastic case can easily hold a pair of earrings and a ring, while the zippered pouch can fit in a bracelet and necklace. That would make a complete set for a dinner or other gathering! Nothing gets tangled up this way either. 

First Aid Kit for Purse:

The pouch can also hold a few basic healthcare items. 

Here, I've kept one Band-Aid for adults and one for my toddler, an alcohol pad to disinfect, and medicine for allergies and pain relief.

I've kept 3 of each type of medication, which should be enough for any regular outing. I also labeled each side with a sticker. If you use this method to use your contact lens case, you need to make sure children are not able to get a hold of the case because it can open easily.

Makeup touch up:

A few basic makeup supplies can be added to the storage case for quick touch-ups. 

In the contact lens case, you can add a bit of foundation and concealer in each. The remaining products are all samples. I added a few lip gloss samples, a perfume sample and an individually wrapped makeup remover wipe. You can easily switch these up to whatever makeup you use most frequently!

I am sure there are many other uses for this small contact lens container. Let me know if you come up with any creative ideas! I would love to hear them in the comments.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Quick Tip: Fruit and Vegetable Storage

Today's quick tip is about preventing fruits and vegetables in your fridge from sitting in the back and rotting! After doing groceries or the day after, thoroughly rinse all of the fruits and veggies one by one in a colander. Get rid of any which are rotting straight away, because they tend to spread to the remaining container. Chop them up and store in airtight containers, which keeps them fresh for longer. Your fruits and veggies are now ready to eat, and you are more likely to grab them for a quick snack as compared to junk food! Enjoy :)

Hope this post helped you out in some ways! Let me know in the comments below of any tips you have for keeping food fresh for longer!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ramadan Activities for Toddlers!

Ramadan starts tomorrow inshaAllah, and what better way to prepare for this special month for our children than having an activity for all 30 days! It can get quite tricky if your little one is too young. My son is 2 and a half mA, and I thought I'd share some ideas with what you can do for this age group!

Here's our "Celebrate Ramadan" setup!  

And a closeup: 

I wanted our main focus to be activities for the little one this year, so I purchased a few books and got an Advent Calendar for Ramadan. I would have loved to add fairy lights and Ramadan banners, but I will keep the decor ideas for next Ramadan inshaAllah! :)

Here are links to the Islamic books:

I purchased a Ramadan Advent Calendar from HafsaCreates Etsy shop. I believe it's out of stock right now, but you could always make a DIY version!

An advent calendar has small boxes for the 30 days of Ramadan, and you can put treats in them for each day. I have included toys, stickers, candy, and most importantly, a slip of paper with a good deed of the day.

The boxes are really small, less than 2 inches on each side, so you would need to ensure that the treats are smaller than that. 

Here are some things I added to the boxes: 

The next part was coming up with small activities for each day.

I wrote up all of the rewarding deeds on a scrapbook paper

And then folded them up so they fit inside the advent calendar boxes! Here are all of the activities we will do each day inshaAllah:

                               1. Read new Islamic Books
2. Offer dates and water to Mama and Baba for iftaar
3. Discussion: Allah is One
4. Give toy cars to 6 boys at masjid
5. Get flowers for neighbors
6. Make dua with Baba
7. Pray in congregation with parents
8. Practice Arabic letters
9. Watch Islamic cartoons
10. Discussion: Allah created everything
11. Make Islamic shapes with PlayDoh
12. Discussion: What is the Quran?
13. Help clean the masjid
14. Say "thank you" and shake hands with a cashier
15. Discussion: What NOT to do when someone is praying
16. Make Eid cards for grandparents
17. Help mix fruit chaat
18. Learn Surah Ikhlas
19. Get donuts for masjid volunteers
20. Help Mama pack suitcase for trip
21. Skype with Great-grandmother
22. Dhikr: Kalima (10x)
23. Discussion: Being Thankful
24. Make wudhu
25. Recite "Rabbi zidni ilma" 5 times
26. Discussion: Love for Allah
27. Discussion: Love for people
28. Listen to nasheeds
29. Repeat Adhaan
30. Prepare for Eid!

Special thanks to family and friends who helped give age-appropriate ideas for my son! This is the first Ramadan in which he is able to speak and understand mashaAllah, so I am sure he will learn a lot iA!

Hope this post helped you out in some ways! Let me know in the comments below what you will be doing with your children for Ramadan and Eid this year iA!

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