My Favorite Back to School Supplies

By Holly Sosa

This post contains affiliate links.

As a self-confessed stationery and planner addict, back to school season is one of my favorite things ever! Everywhere I look are displays of pens, notebooks, paper, and pencils and even better, almost everything is on sale! As an avid hunter for all sorts of unique stationery items, I thought I’d share some of my favorite back to school supplies that I’ve found this season with you.

Zebra Mildliner Highlighters from Amazon // Zodaca Mini Desk Stapler from Amazon // Motivation Pen Set from Anthropologie // Erin Condren Life Planner from Erin Condren // Rose Handled Scissors from Anthropologie // Liberty for Anthropologie Journal from Anthropologie // Floral Washi Tape from Amazon // Pastel Sharpies from Amazon

For me, stationery is a fun way to reflect my personality in my work. You’ll never catch me using a plain pen or notepad. I love infusing my workspace with color and inspiration to help keep me cheerful throughout my day. I love that these picks reflect sweet personality quirks and bring some character to my desk.

For more adorable stationery and back to school picks, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I share some of my faves daily.

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30 After School Snack Ideas (That Your Kids Will Actually Eat!)

By Holly Sosa

One of my back to school struggles has been trying to find snacks that my kids will actually eat and that I’m satisfied with (read: not potato chips). It’s taken me several years, but I finally feel like I’ve got my snack arsenal locked and loaded with after school snack ideas that they’ll actually enjoy (my kids steer very clear of hummus and pita chips). I grocery shop once a week and usually buy two savory items and two sweet items from this. These are snacks my kids love to munch on and I usually will never tell them no when they ask for something on this list. I’m hoping my years of parent training (ha!) will inspire your back to school snack cabinet with some of these better-for-them options.

  • string cheese
  • Cuties
  • apple slices with peanut butter
  • pretzel sticks
  • grapes
  • yogurt
  • Z Bars
  • fruit leather
  • strawberries
  • almonds
  • applesauce
  • fruit cups
  • turkey slices
  • cucumber slices with ranch
  • raisins
  • Babybel cheese
  • pepperoni
  • granola
  • beef jerky
  • bananas
  • carrot sticks
  • cantaloupe
  • pickles
  • raspberries
  • kale chips
  • celery sticks with peanut butter
  • carrot sticks with ranch
  • hard boiled eggs
  • salami slices
  • cheese crackers

This list of back to school snack ideas is full of options that I can feel good about my kids eating after school. They’re thoughtful options that I know will fuel their brains without spoiling their dinnertime appetites. What are some ideas that you use with your kiddos? I’m always on the hunt for options and ways to switch it up in my home.

For more back to school inspiration, ideas, recipes, and more, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I share and update daily.

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DIY Apple Mason Jar Pencil Holder

By Holly Sosa

Before the beginning of the school year, I like to sit down with my kids and create a thoughtful gift for each of their teachers. Not only is it a kind gesture for the person who will be educating my kids for the next nine months, but it’s also a way of instilling thoughtfulness and kindness in my children. My boys and I created this adorable DIY Apple Mason Jar Pencil Holder together for their teacher this year, which I hope brings a smile to their face as they’re welcoming several new students into their classrooms on the first day.

I started by pouring some red paint into a mason jar.

Then I poured some fine red glitter into the mason jar.

And swirled it all around, using a paintbrush for the harder places.

I set aside the mason jar to dry for several hours.

While the mason jar dries, I cut out two leaves from green pattered paper, hole punching the end of each one.

Once the jar was completely dry, I screwed the rim on and use twine to string the paper leaves onto the jar.

Lastly, we filled it with plenty of fresh number two pencils for teacher. It’s about as close to a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils as one can get (we should be friends if you get that movie reference).

I love that this sweet little gift is a fun play on the original apple gift teacher’s are known for. It’s a sweet way of saying how excited we are and how much we appreciate all the hard work that the teacher has already put in before the year has even begun.

For more back to school ideas, crafts, tips, and inspiration, be sure to follow Our Holly Days on Facebook where I update daily.

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My Favorite Back to School Backpacks for Preschoolers

By Holly Sosa

This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite parts about back to school season is shopping for new backpacks with my littles. This is is extra special since my tiniest babe, Evelyn, starts her first year of school at pre-k. She’s been ready for this since her brothers started school last year and as bittersweet as this next chapter is, I’m jumping in with two feet and enjoying watching her experience some of the little joys, like choosing her first backpack. Evelyn, her two big brothers, and I have scoured our favorite stores to being you some of our favorite back to school backpacks for preschoolers like her.

For girls

Neon Cat Backpack from Crazy 8 Russian Doll Backpack from Dabba Walla Butterflies Backpack from Amazon Buddie Character Rucksack from Joules Roller Skate Backpack from Land of Nod Woodland Print Backpack from Be Free via Etsy Dancing Princesses Backpack from Weeperas via Etsy Chocolate Lace Backpack from Rabbit Lia via Etsy

For boys

Scorpion Backpack from Crazy 8 Fox Backpack from MiniBoden Shark Backpack from Dabba Walla Grey Robot Backpack from Amazon Teacher’s Pet (Dog) Backpack from Land of Nod Outer Space Backpack from Land of Nod Zippy Rucksack from Joules Patch Rucksack from Joules

I’ll never forget my Lisa Frank rainbow leopard backpack or my embroidered Winnie the Pooh backpack. As sappy as it sounds, my backpacks gave me confidence and a sense of self when I wore them. I’ve loved helping my daughter choose hers this year and sharing in a tradition I held with my own mother as a little girl. I love that I can help her to learn to embrace herself, quirks and all, with something as simple as choosing her first backpack.

For more back to school picks and fun, be sure to follow Our Holly Days on Facebook, where I share daily.

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10 Planner Instagrams You Should Follow

By Holly Sosa

I’m a lover of all things paper. I’ve always loved using pen and paper to track my daily to do lists. Using a paper planner helps me to retain my weekly appointments and helps me to keep my brainstorms, editorial calendar, and basically entire life together in one handy place. I use my planner to help me develop habits, stick to a productive work schedule, and organize my goals. It’s proven to be essential to my home and work life. It seems others have found them helpful as well and have taken to social media to share images of their perfect notebooks, planners, bullet, journals, and more ways they use paper to organize their lives. As a paper addict myself, I follow several inspirational planner Instagrams to see how other people maximize the use of the handy tool. Today, I’m sharing ten of my favorite planner Instagrams to inspire you to put pen to paper.

@studychoa

@bujo_blossoms

@gettingthingsdoan

@planningsarah

@jen_plans

@planwithgabs

@doestudies

@planatic365

@highm8nance_plans

@planwithkristen

These gals are my planner goals. From their little attention to details to their perfected handwriting. I love drawing inspiration from fellow planner lovers on Instagram. If these beauties didn’t convince you to try your hand at using a paper planner, nothing will.

If you want to try paper planning, my favorite planner is the Erin Condren Life Planner. You can get $10 your first purchase by using my referral link.

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Parmesan Roasted Green Beans

By Holly Sosa

Living in SoCal, I have access to some of the freshest produce in the world. I love taking advantage of seasonal fruits and veggies to create flavors that coincide with the season. With green beans in plentiful harvest this summer, I was inspired to create a savory recipe for Parmesan Roasted Green Beans. Roasting green beans is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them, so I played off of that along with some of my favorite ingredients like parmesan and olive oil.

I start with about a pound of fresh green beans that have been washed and had the ends snipped off.

Next I drizzle over plenty of olive oil.

Some panko bread crumbs.

And kosher salt.

I mix it all together with my hands (anything else is a futile attempt since the green beans are so stiff). I spread the green beans out on a pan and bake them at 400F for about 20 minutes, taking them out about halfway through to toss them around a bit.

Once the green beans have finished cooking, I pull them out and while they’re still hot, I sprinkle over some shredded parmesan cheese.

These Parmesan Roasted Green Beans are delicious! My husband and I both couldn’t stop snacking on them before dinner even started, ha! The panko give them a crispy texture while the olive oil and parmesan together give it a savory taste.

I served these Parmesan Roasted Green Beans alongside my Lemon Butter Chicken Breasts, which I shared last week. It was such a simple meal to pull together, but offered tons of fun summer flavors!

Yum
Parmesan Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 3-4 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine green beans with olive oil, kosher salt, and panko.
  2. Spread evenly over large baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, pulling them out halfway through to toss.
  4. While still hot, sprinkle parmesan over green beans before serving.
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For more recipes like this one, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I share my favorites daily.

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DIY Kazoops! Headbands

By Holly Sosa

This post is sponsored by Netflix.

I’m going to admit it: I like watching some of my kid’s shows on Netflix. One of my morning favorites is Kazoops!, which is an animated Netflix Original, about a young boy named Monty and his pet pig, Jimmy Jones. Monty’s big imagination takes them on grand adventures and fun experiences. I adore the sweet British accents of the characters and the music. The animation is crazy colorful and I love their adorable red door, green attic, teal home. Monty is endlessly curious, which fuels his adventures with his sweet pig. Kazoops! is a favorite of Evelyn’s and we usually spend the early morning hours before the rest of the house wakes up cuddling in my bed and watching an episode together. Inspired by Jimmy Jones, I created these fun DIY Kazoops! Headbands for Evelyn to play with (I won’t lie, me too!).

I started with a simple headband that I picked up at a local pharmacy.

Then I sketched a couple of little pig ears onto some pink felt.

I trimmed each ear out.

And secured it to my headbands using hot glue.

One of my favorite things about hot glue is that it dries fairly quickly, which means Evelyn and I were playing our own version of Kazoops! in under fifteen minutes.

One of my favorite things to do is to incorporate my kiddo’s favorite characters on TV into an activity or craft that helps to stir their imagination and curiosity (both major themes in Kazoops!). It brings their TV world into the real world, ha, and encourages play while utilizing a familiar face or character. Jimmy Jones just happens to be the cutest character of all!

To watch Kazoops!, tune in on Netflix where there are three season packed with adventure, imagination, and curiosity with Monty and Jimmy Jones.

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How to Set Up Your Planner for Back to School + a Pilot G2 Pen Test

By Holly Sosa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyGo2Pen #CollectiveBias

A fresh pack of erasers, packages of lined paper neatly hole punched for binders, the familiar scent of hand sanitizer. They can all only mean one thing: back to school season is here. As a planner addict who has always had a weird need to hoard all the school and paper supplies, it’s one of my most favorite times of the year. It’s also the perfect excuse to freshen up and update my planner to reflect all the new schedules and incoming information for the new school year. As a professional planner addict, I have years of experience and it’s my hope that these tips will help you to set up your planner for back to school season.

Add the school calendar

The first thing I do every school year is add the school calendar into my planner. If my planner has a yearly view, it’s easy to utilize that. I use different colored pens or highlighters to note days off and minimum days. Some planners don’t have yearly views and that’s fine. It’s simple enough to print out the calendar from the school, laminate it, and insert it into my planner.

Use laminated lists for monthly tasks

I’m often forgetful, which doesn’t bode well for the school year. To help me keep track of monthly, weekly, and even daily tasks, I create lists and laminate them. These handy lists are easily inserted into my planner for reference throughout the school year. I can remind myself of monthly haircuts, fundraisers, and even meetings with these handy lists.

Don’t forget minimum days

My kid’s have a minimum (half day) day every week. If I don’t write it down, I often forget. Especially on days when their after school club doesn’t meet up. I’ve been called by the office once with a gentle reminder that it was a minimum day and that my boys were waiting for me. Whoops! Since then, I’ve added minimum days into my planner every month.

Add teacher and school contact info

I can’t tell you how many times jotting this down into my planner has been useful. Yes, I usually put it into my phone as well, but having it in my planner is beneficial for a variety of reasons: dead phone at the doctor’s office (yes, this has happened to me), at work and needing to shoot an email to teachers, and simply for easy access.

Set aside time daily for homework

My planner is helpful in allowing me to physically see and map out my time each day. Since I work from home, it’s important that I utilize my time effectively and with discipline. With all of my kiddos in school this year, that means setting aside time to help them with homework. I make sure I physically add homework time into my planner so that I’ll be able to note that throughout my work day when I’m working through my to do list.

Get a fantastic set of pens

In the planner world, it doesn’t get much better than the Pilot G2 pens, which should make it no surprise to learn that they’re the number one selling pen brand in America. They don’t bleed through paper, come in four point sizes, and offer a variety of vibrant colors, which is a planner babe’s dream come true. We like to color code. Like, a lot! I use my Pilot G2 pens for everything and treat myself to a fresh new pack every year. When those school supplies come out at Walmart, it’s my own personal version of utopia. I wander down aisle after aisle of pretty folders, fresh notebooks begging to be written in, and of course fresh packages of my beloved Pilot G2 pens. Yes, I get specific about my pens, friends. When you love paper as much as I do, you get serious about the pens you use.

My fellow planner addicts often experiment with pen tests and share the results so others can see how the pens actually hold up in real life. I completed my own pen test with my new set of Pilot G2 pens and they didn’t disappoint me. Though, I wasn’t surprised. They’re always so smooth and colorful!

My paper planner gets me through life, but I’d never make it out of the school year alive without my trusty sidekick that helps me to keep our family’s lives together. That’s why I take setting it up for the school year seriously and update it frequently. Using my paper planner has helped me to keep it all together, even when I’m feeling like I’m busting open at the seams. There’s no limit to what I can do when armed with my planner and a set of Pilot G2 pens.

For more back to school inspiration from bloggers like me, be sure to check out the #MyGo2Pen hashtag where you’ll find tips, tricks, and tutorials

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#AD Easy Orange Chicken

By Holly Sosa

This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StockUpMakeSmiles #CollectiveBias

Class in session, football practice, karate class. These are three of the challenges this back to school season will bring to my family. Schedules will be a little crazier than normal, which means dinnertime will need to be simple and fast. Thankfully, I have a few recipes up my sleeve that use some simple shortcuts to create a dinner that tastes like I made it from scratch. My secret is using Tyson® Any’tizers® Snacks for helping to minimize prep time. I find these tasty snacks at my local Walmart in the frozen food section. For my Easy Orange Chicken recipe, I use the Tyson® Any’tizers® Snacks Popcorn Chicken and whip up a super simple sauce for a simple dinner that’s ready in just minutes.

I start by prepping the Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken in a baking dish. I cook it according to the instructions on the bag.

Using Tyson® Any’tizers® Snacks helps me to save money during the back to school season, which is always a little tighter on our budget. I use Shopkick when I shop at Walmart and earn kicks to use towards gift cards.

Earn up to 600 kicks when you buy three (3) participating Tyson® products.*

While the Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken is baking in the oven, I start the orange sauce by adding some barbecue sauce, orange marmalade, and a splash of low sodium soy sauce to a saucepan.

While the chicken cooks, I let the sauce simmer, stirring frequently.

Once the Tyson® Any’tizers® Snacks Popcorn Chicken is done, I add it to a large bowl and pour the orange sauce over the top.

I give it a couple of tosses to coat the chicken evenly and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

I usually serve this Easy Orange Chicken in a bowl with rice and broccoli for a simple way to enjoy “take-out” right at home. This recipe is easy to throw together on especially busy weeknights, making it a perfect meal to put on your menu during this back to school season.

Yum
#AD Easy Orange Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 package Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken according to instructions on bag.
  2. While Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken is baking, add barbecue sauce, marmalade, and soy sauce to a large saucepan and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until heated through.
  3. Once Tyson® Any’tizers® Popcorn Chicken are thoroughly cooked, transfer to a large bowl and drizzle sauce over the top.
  4. Toss several times to evenly coat chicken.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
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For more back to school inspired recipes, tips, and tutorials from bloggers like me, be sure to check out #StockUpMakeSmiles on social media. To get your hands on Tyson® Any’tizers® Snacks Popcorn Chicken to recreate this recipe, visit Walmart.com.

*Chicken nuggets, chicken strips, Any’tizers® Snacks, Grilled and Ready® items, Hillshire Farm® Lunchmeats, and Jimmy Dean® frozen breakfast items.

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3 Accessories I Never Leave the House Without

By Holly Sosa

This post may contain affiliate links.

I’m not a huge accessories type of gal. I love necklaces, but I tend to keep it minimalist and simple when it comes to my jewelry. There are a few accessories I never leave the house without and I’m beginning to think I might need to switch things up, ha! But these are such great items that I love wearing them every single day.

My Jord wood watch

This is my favorite watch that I’ve ever owned. I love that it’s unique without being too much of a statement piece. The warm colored wood matches everything I wear and it’s a functional piece to wear. I wear the Zebrawood & Maple, but I also adore the Cora in Koa & Rose Gold…also, this Frankie one is heart eyes.

My Origami Owl necklace

Necklaces are my favorite accessory and I have quite a collection, but I always gravitate towards my Origami Owl locket. I found the Legacy Locket, which is much larger than their standard ones, and it fits all five of my children/stepchildren’s birthstones plus additional charms. I love the locket and that it’s full of adorable charms that have meaning to me, which is probably why I always choose this beauty. I got mine from Megan Ahlstrom, a sweet friend of mine, here is her Origami Owl website where you can shop directly.

Too Faced powder foundation

With the desert heat, I always carry my favorite powder foundation from Too Faced. I’m a big sweater (I even use prescription antiperspirant), so I need to keep my powder close to help me combat that familiar sweat shine that develops on my forehead and cheeks. I love Too Faced because it gives a matte finish and absorbs oils. Plus it smells great since cocoa powder and cocoa butter are main ingredients.

These three accessories are my for real sidekicks. I love that I can depend on them and that they’re always helping me to feel and look my best. They’re sort of my little style trademarks that I’ve developed over the years.

For more style fun and accessory picks, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I share updates daily.

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