Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

By Holly Sosa

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This back to school season, I’m all about keeping things simple. When I prepare with easy meals, I find I’m much less stressed out in the day to day grind that the new schedule brings. One of my family’s favorite make ahead breakfasts and lunch time snacks are my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars. They’re packed with protein and Bob’s Red Mill Oats which are rich in dietary fiber and can help reduce cholesterol. And the best part for busy moms like me? Is that they’re simple to whip up at the beginning of the week for a batch that will last through til Friday.

I started with a hefty serving of peanut butter and added it to my mixing bowl for my stand mixer.

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Next I added some honey to sweeten things up.

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And I mixed it together on low until it was combined well and fluffy.

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Next I added plenty of Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Oats. It’s important to use quick cooking oats here because your oatmeal won’t soften if you use normal rolled or steel cut oats.

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And I mixed it all together until it created a dough-like texture.

Lastly I added chocolate chips and mixed it all together. My kids call these Cookie Granola because of the chocolate chips. It makes these look like cookie and they taste just as good!

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I transferred the dough to a baking sheet lined with wax paper and pressed it all down towards the edges until it was flat.

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Then I covered the pan and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour before cutting them into bars.

My kiddos love getting one of these in their lunch box and we’ve also been known to eat them for breakfast on occasion. They keep in the fridge in an air tight container for about a week, so I love to make a big batch on Sunday night to last me throughout the week.

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The best part about these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars is the Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Oats. They absorb all that sweet honey and since Bob’s Red Mill oats are kiln roasted to give them that wholesome flavor, the combination is delightful!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
Ingredients
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 6 cups Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Oats
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and honey together.
  2. Add oats and mix.
  3. Add chocolate chips and mix.
  4. Transfer to a half baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Press dough into pan until flat.
  6. Refrigerate for one hour.
  7. Cut into bars and store in an air tight container in fridge.

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Visit Bob’s Red Mill for more information on their wide variety of products, printable coupons, and more.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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3 Ways to Reduce Daily Stress

By Holly Sosa

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As someone who struggles with anxiety, daily stress isn’t just bothersome, but can also be a trigger for deeper anxieties. Because I’ve dealt with it most of my life, I’ve developed some habits to help me cope for when it becomes too much to handle. Combining a couple of my own techniques while using my Spire, I’ve been able to reduce my stress levels and become more effective; especially in my work life. Here are three ways to reduce daily stress to inspire your most tranquil mindset.

Use a Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker

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Spire is a mindfulness and activity tracker that helps to track you daily activity and can even help you to discover stress or anxiety triggers. Using Spire has been helpful for making mindfulness more attainable by alerting me in-the-moment and suggests breathing exercises and meditations to lead to a more mindful behavior change. The platform learns to anticipate stressful events before they are likely to happen and alerts me with actionable insights on how to prepare and experience more calm in my life. It’s been a great way for me to discover stress and anxiety triggers and helped me to learn new techniques when I feel like things are getting too much to handle.

Give yourself quiet time

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Spending as little as ten to fifteen minutes alone can help you to clear your mind. Use this time to journal and get out any anxiety or worries you may have onto paper (and out of your head!). You could also use this time to mediate, focus on breathing, read, or listen to music.

Use a planner

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Using a planner can help you to dump out the contents of your brain and place them somewhere where they can be organized and mapped out. Instead of stressing about this activity, when it’s going to be done, and what steps you need to take for a project, instead map them out using a paper planner. You’ll be able to physically see your tasks, appointments, and events without having them mixed up in your head causing you added stress.

Stress affects all of us, whether it be because of a major life change or dealing with daily anxiety. These techniques have been effective for me and Spire has acted almost as a personal trainer for my mind in many ways. Hopefully these tips will inspire you to take control of stress and provide relief when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.

For more information on the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker, be sure to visit their website for details.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Eggo Fruit Kabobs

By Holly Sosa

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

I’m embarrassed to admit how often my kiddos eat Eggo waffles before school each morning. They’re quick, convenient, and if we’re running later they can enjoy them in the car while we’re n the way to school. They’re also the one breakfast I serve that receives zero argument. They’re great for breakfast or even as an after school snack, my kids don’t discriminate when it comes to their Eggo.

With the beginning of the school year now here, I stocked up on our much enjoyed breakfast food while shopping at Target to ensure I was well equipped for the early mornings (and let’s face it, for when we’re running late). Currently, when you buy three participating Eggo products with the Crayola packaging, you’ll get $5 off of Crayola products. This deal ends on September 30th, but you can get more information in your Target circular ad during the first week of September.

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With our hefty stockpile of Eggo, and feeling inspired by Crayola, I decided to create a new way to enjoy our breakfast with these fun Eggo Fruit Kabobs that feature the classic waffle, fresh strawberries, and sliced bananas.

You’ll start by toasting up a couple of your favorite Eggo flavors. My kiddos are fanatical over the chocolate chip. No, really. There have been tears over my purchasing the incorrect flavor. But I managed to convince them to expand their horizons to Brown Sugar Cinnamon Roll.

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Once they’re nice and toasted, use a knife to cut them into squares.

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Grab a skewer and layer strawberries, banana slices, and Eggo squares.

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Repeat this, getting as creative as you want, until you’ve created enough skewers to feed your kiddos (and maybe a few for yourself too!).

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These little Eggo Fruit Kabobs are such a fun way to get creative with breakfast and the kids love the exciting new way to eat. I mean, who doesn’t think eating things off of a stick makes them more fun, right? Plus these little kabobs are just as easy to grab and eat in the car as the Eggo by itself.

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With my creativity fueled by Eggo and Crayola, I printed out Crayola’s free downloadable activity booklet so the kiddos could get creative in their own way with the fun activities offered inside. Together with Eggo, both our minds and our bodies are fueled to begin the school year.

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Feed your imagination with Eggo and Crayola this year. To learn more about the special offer, and for more Eggo inspiration like these Eggo Fruit Kabobs, visit the Better with Kelloggs website.

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3 Back to School Hacks Every Kid Should Know

By Holly Sosa

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Be prepared this back to school season by brushing up on your life hacks. These back to school hacks every kid should know are simple solutions to help you start off the year with your best foot forward. From saving money to preventing smelly shoes, these tips cover all aspects of school life.

Shop with PayPal

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Using the PayPal app to pay for back to school supplies is convenient and safe. With PayPal One Touch, there is no need for you to type in credit card information or usernames and passwords on every app or website where you pay with PayPal. Get ahead of the class with PayPal and take advantage of their exclusive offers with select retailers that can make your Back to School shopping even more affordable. Plus they make giving back to your favorite causes easy with the PayPal Giving Fund using the in-app donation feature. Donations made through the PayPal Giving Fund will receive a 1% match from PayPal during Back-to-School Season from August 12 through August 31, 2016 to charities like Let Girls Learn, YMCA, and Boys & Girls Club of America.

Remember your schedule

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Use your phone to take a picture of your schedule on your first day of school and set it as the lock screen. Your classes and all their info will be available whenever you need to reference it right at your fingertips!

Reference handy note taking tips

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Keeping your notes organized and neat will allow you to study them later without having to rewrite or reorganize terms, definitions, and thoughts. Research note taking tips that work with your learning style. Adopt the methods that you know will help you to better retain information and be able to read your notes later without difficulty.

Stop smelly gym shoes

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Use dry tea bags in your favorite flavor and place them inside your gym shoes to keep them from smelling stank. We’ve all experienced musty gym shoes and this solution keeps things fresh. Your locker will thank you.

Use these back to school hacks this year to help keep you organized, smell-free, and on track for your best year yet! Have any tips or back to school hacks we should know about? Share with everyone in the comments below.

To learn more about the PayPal Giving Fund and how to donate, visit PayPal.com/GiveNow.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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4 Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

By Holly Sosa

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For many families summertime gets us out on the open road. Vacations, family visits, or just for fun families hit the road to take advantage of the break from school and warmer weather. If you have pets, travel requires extra thought. If you kennel your dog, you’ll have to budget extra money in your planning for that. And if your family prefers to travel with your dog there are a few extras steps you’ll need to make sure to look into before heading out on your adventures. These tips for traveling with your dog are a handy guide to help ensure a happy and healthy pup who gets to enjoy the open road with their family.

Plan with them in mind

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If you’re traveling for an extended amount of time, you need to ensure your plans for room and board are dog friendly. Dogs should never be left in vehicles for any length of time, much less overnight.If you’re staying with family or friends, be sure to inform them that you’ll be traveling with your pooch. When packing, make sure you pack food, fresh water, toys, treats, their bed, and anything else they’ll need such as a comfort item. Dogs need regular play time and exercise, so plan for extra stops to play a quick game of fetch, take your dog for a bathroom break, and give them water. You’ll need to plan for extra time during your road trip, keeping your dog’s needs in mind.

Update their tags

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Even if your pup has a set of tags, they often become worn or illegible over time. Before you head off on your travels, make some time to create new ones with an updated phone number and your dog’s name so that if they wander off or become lost, you’ll be the point of contact.

Schedule a check up

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Ensure your pup is up to date on all their vaccines and talk to your veterinarian about where you’ll be headed on your travels. If you live in the desert, you probably don’t worry about ticks, but if you’re traveling somewhere with a different climate, you’ll want to make sure you outfit your dog with a flea and tick collar. Get your vet’s advice and just make sure your dog is in good health before traveling.

Bring PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX™ chew treats

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No one is a fan of dog breath, especially in close quarters. The Triple Action Formula in PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX™ Treats helps clean teeth, freshen breath and reduce tartar buildup. With a clean mouth and fresher breath, your family will be able to get “road trip close” with your pooch without dog breath getting in the way. DENTASTIX™ Treats help clean down to the gum line to promote healthy gums, and its chewy texture helps scrape away plaque while chewing to help clean hard-to-reach teeth. Look for the patented X-shaped treat.

Squeeze in the last few moments of summer with your pooch and get out on a last minute adventure. Keep these tips in mind before venturing out to ensure a happy healthy dog and a dog breath free ride to your destination!

For more information on PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX™ chew treats, visit their website to learn more about these beneficial treats for your pooch.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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3 Back to School Supplies You Didn’t Know You Needed

By Holly Sosa

3 BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLIESYOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU NEEDED

School supply lists are in nearly every parents hands by now. As you shop and cross off items on the list this month, be encouraged to stop and think about the items that may not be on the list that could help your child throughout their upcoming school year. This short list of items could be the back to school supplies you didn’t know you needed. From comfort to personality and even a little craft that also offers book protection, these supplies will make you think a little extra about this year’s lists.

Kleenex®

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Aside from hand sanitizer, Kleenex® are the one thing you can count on to be on your child’s supplies list when they come home after their first day. For good reason considering several runny noses can occur all at once when those back to school germs all start mingling with each other. But Kleenex® is there for more than just helping with noses. Kleenex® brand wants to encourage you to share Kleenex® Care all year long with loved ones because all it takes is one soft tissue to make a difference. They sponsored a social experiment and workshop led by Lori Nathanson, PhD, and Shauna Tominey, PhD, researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, to showcase how a gesture of care and other pro-social strategies can help middle school students face the challenges of a new school year. Grab your own Kleenex® and watch these new middle schoolers prepare for the new school year by using care to build self-confidence. Do you remember your biggest fear when you entered official middle school?

Pretty Notebooks

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Purchase inexpensive notebooks while they’re the most affordable during back to school sales. Cover them with patterned scrapbook paper and use letter stickers to label which class the notebook is for. A handy and organized way to keep your note organized while also getting to share some of your personality.

Book Covers

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Make your own using a variety of methods. Grab pretty wrapping paper, fold it to fit your book, and secure it using washi tape. You could also use vintage maps, fabric, scrapbook paper, or even decorate plain white paper yourself before wrapping it around your books for protection.

Going back to school can be overwhelming, but showing someone you care (whether it’s with a pretty notebook or a Kleenex®) with a small gesture can make all the difference and even boost confidence.

Check out the full social experiment sponsored by Kleenex online at their Facebook page and visit Kleenex.com to see how you can help make caring contagious this back-to-school season.

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Boozy Wine Glasses

By Holly Sosa

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As a believer in soaking up everything this life has to offer me, I have a deep appreciation for each of the four seasons and the gifts they bring to me. Fall for it’s sweater weather and pumpkin spice lattes; winter for it’s crackling fireplaces and hot cocoa; spring for it’s blooming flowers and marshmallow chicks; and summer for it’s pool days and perfectly acceptable activity of day drinking. They all bring special gifts, but I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I’m sort of digging on summer and the permission it gives me to have a glass of JaM Cellars wine in hand anytime after noon (reminder to please drink responsibly, friends!).

Soaking in all of life, aside from a little day drinking, also includes copious amounts of puns, the cornier the better. And since it’s summer and I’m all about embracing both of these gifts of life, I thought I’d create some Boozy Wine Glasses to gift some of my friends who get me in all my weird glory.

Friends, gather your supplies and flip on this playlist from the JaM Cellars blog. Let’s get these boozy wine glasses started!

SUPPLIES

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  • wine glasses (dollar store is fine, let’s be real they’re just a vehicle)
  • oil based markers
  • JaM Cellars Cabernet (the most essential part, find it near you)

To start, use an alcohol pad to ensure the area you’re going to write on is cleaned and allow it to dry.

Choose a marker, channel your inner pun goddess, and think of a boozy phrase. I had four wine glasses and my phrases were: Hakuna Cabernet (it means drink wine); Sip me baby, one more time; Mommy’s sippy cup; Time to wine down.

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If you don’t love your handwriting, type up your phrase in a word document and print it out. Trim the paper down and insert it into the wine glass to use as a template.

Next, place your glasses on a cookie sheet and put them into a cold oven. Set the temperature to 350F degrees and let them bake for thirty minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. The glasses will be hand washing safe, but I wouldn’t trust the paint to stay on in the dishwasher.

Finally, fill up your glasses and enjoy JaM Cab with your fellow pun-loving friends.

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JaM Cellars gets me in that they take their wines seriously, but they don’t take themselves seriously! They make three easy-to-love, everyday California wines: Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cabernet, and Toast Sparkling. Made in the tradition of great California winemaking—rich, bold and luscious, but doesn’t need to wait for a gourmet meal or perfect cheese. It’s right at home in the sunshine, at sunset, or with a burger or BBQ; it’s totally my kinda JaM!

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Find a location near you that sells JaM Cellars and be sure to visit the JaM Cellars Facebook page for more wine inspiration for your summer.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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3 Small Changes I’m Making for a Better Lifestyle

By Holly Sosa

SMALL CHANGES I'M MAKINGFOR A BETTER LIFESTYLE

As a work from home mom, I don’t get to be as active as I know I should be. I’m behind a desk for several hours daily and by the end of my work day, I’m so mentally wiped that I make excuse after excuse to ignore my workouts. I’m also often so immersed in my work that my eating habits are usually poor choices. This summer, I’ve been taking steps towards getting more healthy and adjusting my lifestyle accordingly. I’ve found that incorporating small changes, like increasing daily activity, using Born Sweet Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener, and eating more often (yes, really!), into my daily lifestyle has been setting the foundation for getting me healthier. These small changes I’m making for a better lifestyle have worked so well for me that I felt I had to share them with my mama friends!

Being active for 30 minutes daily

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I’ve found that a simple brisk 30 minute walk can improve my mood and even increases my focus. Here in the desert, it’s often too hot to do this in the middle of the day, but if I get up early enough and get it done before the kiddos wake up, I’m much more balanced throughout the day. But on the off chance they’re up before me, it’s a fun family activity to do together. In the evenings, I’ve been using a stationary bike that I picked up secondhand from a friend. After I tuck my kids into bed, I flip on my TV, start up an episode of Housewives, and go at it for an hour before showering and heading off to sleep.

Swapping in Born Sweet Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener

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Lately, I’ve been using Born Sweet Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener to sweeten my morning chai tea or smoothie. It’s all the sweet without that weird artificial aftertaste, which makes sense since it’s made with only real ingredients; nothing artificial. Zing Stevia Sweetener contains zero calories and brings a perfect sweetness that I can sprinkle into coffee, tea, smoothies, and pro tip: try it over strawberries for an amaZING (see what I did there?!) mid-day snack!

Eating more often (yes, really!)

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I’ve noticed that when I make myself eat every two to three hours, I’m less likely to binge or crave later on in the day. Bingeing is a problem I struggle with almost everyday. When I complete my work and realize I haven’t eaten all day, I suddenly want anything and everything. Lately I’ve been setting an alarm on my phone to remind me to eat every two hours. If I keep easy to grab, better for me snack options on hand, like strawberries I dice up earlier in the week (that I can just sprinkle my Born Sweet Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener over) or pre-washed and de-stemmed cherries, I’ve got a quick solution that will keep me from grabbing the potato chips or chocolate cookies.

I’ve made these small changes over the summer and have noticed a measurable difference in my mood and energy. I’m not bogged down by syrupy sweeteners or artificial stuff that stays in my mouth all day, the activity puts me in a better mood and I can focus much more throughout my day. I’m really excited to have laid this foundation for a better lifestyle so that I can begin to change more and more aspects of my life to ensure I’m being the best me I can be. I know I sound like a motivational poster, but it’s truth, sister, it’s truth!

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Make the switch with me this summer and take the #Ready4Amazing Challenge towards a more amaZING you and enter for a chance to win a Keurig® K250 Plus! To enter, upload a photo or story about the AmaZing sweet taste of Born Sweet Zing™ Stevia Sweetener in your favorite beverage! Entries are open from August 15th through the 26th.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Colorwear Party

By Holly Sosa

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This post was sponsored by Colorwear as part of an In-Home Party Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

Adult coloring books are trending right now and as an adult who enjoys the activity, I’ve built up quite a collection. One I keep stashed in my bedroom away from my kids along with a set of colored pencils that only my hands get to touch. I’m a little territorial, but I blame it on my type a personality so that I don’t seem like such a mean mom, ha! Coloring has become one of my favorite ways to wind down and clear my mind. Between all of my daily duties as a work from home mom, my brain is always running at full speed. I love that coloring helps to get me refocused and slows me down for a few minutes.

Thankfully I have friends who enjoy fresh markers and a blank coloring page as much as I do, so during our community group meeting last week, we had a little coloring party. I received several tees from Colorwear, a company that created a new product line of personalized colorable tee shirts, and had them all laid out at my coffee table along with markers, shirt boards (so the markers don’t bleed to the other side of the shirt), and some snacks.

The guys pretended like they didn’t care, but I think they secretly wanted to color. My gal pals and I all had fun picking our favorite designs and coloring together while we chatted and held our weekly meeting together.

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Colorwear offers over 175 designs created by popular coloring book artists Valentina Harper and Angelea Van Dam. I received about a dozen shirts, all with a different design to choose from! The Color Wear tees are environmentally friendly and include designs like flowers, animals, aquatic scenes, gardens, quotes, and event fantasy themes (hello unicorn friend).

Get 25% off your Colorwear order by signing up for their newsletter.

When we meet for community group, we’re often coming from work, picking up kids, and then dinner, so it’s safe to say some of us feel rushed. I was excited to be able to offer these fun tee shirts up to my friends to color throughout the night because I know how well coloring helps me to unwind. It’s therapy for my crazy head, ha!

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Enter for a chance to win a Colorwear prize pack of your own (we’re giving away 20!) and host your own coloring party using the form below. Entries open August 4th and close on August 25th, 2016. I-C will randomly select 20 winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes. Open to US residents only.

Colorwear Prize Pack Giveaway

Be sure to visit Colorwear on Facebook for more fun coloring ideas, inspiration, and more.

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Adding School Schedules to My Planner

By Holly Sosa

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

We gotta go back! Back! Back to school agaiiiiinnnnn! Anyone else singing along with me? Anyone…? Cool.

For a stationery addict like me, back to school season is the most wonderful time of the year. Every store I wander into has some kind of stationery or art supply on sale, there are fun new products to try and my favorite classics are always on sale at Walmart. This is when I get stocked up on my beloved Pilot G2 gel pens in all the colors along with highlighters, label stickers, pretty pencils, and fresh new notebooks begging for a purpose and scribbled pages.

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Without fail each year, I pick up my Pilot G2 pens and a package of dot stickers for adding school schedules to my planner. In the planner community, we practically froth at the mouth for our beloved Pilot G2 pens to go on sale. They’re one of the most popular pens because they offer a variety of point sizes (but really anything less than 1.0mm is blaspheme!) in their silky smooth ink which is available in 15 colors, a planner addicts dream! They understannnnddddd us planners and how one size doesn’t fit all. We need point options, of which they offer four; we need color options, of which they have 15 (including metallics!). And best of all, the smooth gel ink doesn’t smear or smudge when I write in my trusty sidekick planner.

Save $0.75 on any ONE 4-pack (or larger) of G2 Gel Ink pens.

The dot stickers help make for quick reference of our school schedule right in my planner when I’m scheduling mini vacations or planning out visitations within our blended family. Most planners come with a year at a glance page inside that goes ignored, but I’ve repurposed this forgotten section to work for me so that I don’t have to carry around yet another school handout.

SUPPLIES

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  • planner
  • dot stickers
  • school schedule
  • Pilot G2 pen

The first thing I do is use my Holy Grail pen, a Pilot G2, to circle all of our minimum days. My kids have one every week and I have actual anxiety about forgetting to pick them up, so I circle the days when I’ll need to note to pick them up early.

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The next task is to mark off the weekends with my dot stickers, because no one goes to school on Saturday or Sunday. We’re watching cartoons and eating pizza, right?

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And finally, I reference the school calendar handout and place a dot over each day that my kiddos will have off. From holidays to winter and spring breaks, I dot them all. Yes, even summer break. For me, the purpose is to quickly be able to reference the days my kiddos are in school at a glance. Groups of dots make it easy for my brain to process the information.

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If you’re not a planner nerd like me, this method could easily be applied to a wall calendar or family calendar that you already use. The goal is to eliminate extra paper around the house and to gather all of the family schedules into one place for easy reference. Whichever method you use to do that, supplementing with this will be a fabulous way to keep track of days off, teacher in-service days, and minimum/half days.

Be sure to visit your local Walmart for your back to school supply shopping, including these dot stickers and Pilot G2 pens in a variety of colors and points.

pilot g2 at walmart

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