Surviving Week One

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Last week was Nick’s first week back to work full-time. I was horrified and excited to figure out what solo parenting these peanuts would be like… I had ups & downs and endured multiple meltdowns (myself included).

Having a newborn & a toddler is just as crazy as it sounds. But there were things that definitely made the week easier.

What’s Helped Me Survive

  • Mocha Overnight Oats
    This has been INCREDIBLE for several reasons:
    1) I don’t have to make breakfast for myself in the morning (it’s made the night before).
    2) I get caffeine (there’s coffee in it).
    3) I get protein (there are oats & almond milk in it).
    4) It’s delicious (chocolate).
    I’ll be posting this recipe in the days to come, but I’m sure you can whip it together with the gist I just gave you. And it tastes amazing.
    PS how have I never thought about putting coffee in with the milk when I make overnight oats?? Brilliant.
  • Toddler Toys
    More specifically, toys that keep my 2 year old pre-occupied. The toys that have done this the best is a little bowling set I got him and the “gone fishing” game.
  • Emails & Texts
    I apologize to all my wonderful friends who have left voicemails and haven’t heard back from me. As I’ve said plenty, I’m a zombie right now and lack energy for phone conversation. But what’s kept me totally sane has been being able to text and email girlfriends. Even if I don’t have energy for coffee dates or long phone chats, I love that I get some friend time this way.
  • Perspective
    The best thing I’ve been able to do over the last week has been remind myself that this season is temporary. With that, I not only begin to cherish the really little, beautiful moments, but I also find relief in knowing that things will get easier. Kai WILL sleep through the night one day and he WILL be less fragile/needy as time goes on. One day my boys will be old enough to play together and I won’t be hanging by a thread trying to cater to them both separately at once. Of course different challenges come with different seasons… but the challenges of this season will soon be over.
  • Gratitude
    Finding beauty in things as little as my morning coffee… or our new fall candle that makes our home smell like the holidays. Finding gratitude in things as big as my two precious, healthy boys & my amazing community. Looking for beautiful moments, even when I’m tired and cranky, has been surprisingly simple.
  • Comedic Relief
    Thank you, Mindy Project and New Girl for giving me some quality laughs while I’m on the verge of meltdown.
  • Baby Carrier
    Kai lives in the Ergo. Apparently I’ve got an intense snuggler on my hands… he loves being upclose and personal so whenever he gets fussy I just put him in the Ergo (that literally glues him to my chest) and all is calm again.
  • Community
    Last, but certainly not least (in fact, the most helpful), our community has been vital. We are unbelievably grateful for dear friends & family who have dropped by to say hello, bring meals, groceries &/or help with the boys… I don’t know how we’d make it without you.

What’s Been Difficult

  • Bedtime
    Trying to put down a 2 year-old while caring for a hungry/crying 3 week-old feels pretty close to impossible when you’re the only parent home. Hopefully I’ll get a good routine down for this soon.
  • Getting Out
    Getting out of the house has been very difficult, but at the same time, absolutely vital to survival. Even if it’s as simple as going on a walk with the boys in the morning… nothing frees you from the feeling of house arrest quite like actually getting out of the house.

That’s my gist for week 1 of solo parenting.

My goals for this week are to shower every day and get out of the house at least once per day. Already excited to figure out somewhat of a routine 🙂

Would love to hear from you! What’s helped other mom’s during this transition?

My Capsule Wardrobe

So… I have a slogan. And it’s probably one you’ve heard before: JUST DO IT.

Yup. That’s my slogan. I stole it from Nike. I realized recently that when I spend too long contemplating something, it never happens. So I decided to finally try what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: the capsule wardrobe.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten exceedingly overwhelmed by my closet. Not just overwhelmed… defeated.

Luckily, no one knows how insane my side of the room looks, other than my husband. Pretty much as if there was an explosion at Old Navy, to be succinct. I’m not creative and I’m not good at utilizing my clothes well. Consequently, I end up wearing nothing but workout clothes (because it’s the “I don’t have to try” look). Here’s a little peak at a pile of my clothes:

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BLEH. Just looking at it, I can feel my heart rate go up. That is really too much. Oh and with all those clothes, guess how I typically dress? like this:

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So I started reading about “capsule wardrobes” (which is totally a thing right now) and I decided I had to try it.

A capsule wardrobe can be defined as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you love to wear.”

The main goals are to spend less time meandering through your clothes and more time doing things that matter. It’s to declutter and do more with less. It aims to create a closet that is NOT overwhelming & disorganized, but one that is clean and filled with flattering wardrobe. Plus, there’s the added bonus of living in simplicity.

Music to my ears. I could not wait to do it!

A lot of sites give different rules. Here’s how I decided to do it.

There is typically one capsule per season, so I created one with 34 items to last for the next 3 months.

What’s Included: dresses, bottoms, tops, outerwear, shoes.

What’s NOT Included: cocktail attire, workout clothes, accessories & PJ’s.

Here’s MY capsule in case any one wants to try it with me!

I will be using 34 items in the span of 3 months:

10 Tops
three patterned
two semi-patterned
five solid
two cami’s (I’m not counting these since I treat them as under-garments)

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6 cardigans/jackets
all neutral colors
one jean-jacket

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9 bottoms
one pair of jeans
two pairs of shorts
two pairs of black leggings (different lengths)
one pair of grey leggings
one black maxi skirt
one knee-length white & navy skirt
one pair of black pants

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3 dresses
one patterned
two solid

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6 pairs of shoes
one pair of boots
one pair of wedges
one pair of flats
one pair of tennis shoes
two sandals (one not pictured)

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Things you should know & tips on getting started:

  • I donated a lot of my old clothes, but I also stored some.
    It’s good to get rid of clothes you never wear. But I also kept some, which made me less intimidated by this project… knowing that I wasn’t tossing everything out helped me actually do it.
  • Try sticking with neutral colors as much as possible.
    Trust me. Patterns can get exhausting. And so can bright colors. Neutrals match with everything. I noticed most capsule wardrobes are filled with neutrals!
  • Start a wardrobe from scratch if that excites you.
    I used clothes I already have, but a lot of bloggers donate and sell old clothes & use the money to buy new pieces that complete their capsule. Do whatever suits you!

Join me! I will write another post at the end of the three months to let you know how it went and what I learned 🙂

Has anyone ever done this or is thinking about trying it? I would love to hear thoughts!

Mama’s Day Off: How I spent my first day off in over a year

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hat’s me trying to find ways to display my newly manicured nails.

Like most mom’s, it’s a very rare occasion for me to have a day off. Sure, I’ll leave home to go to class, to study, to run errands. I have been away from home over night only twice since Joshua was born. Once for a friend’s wedding and another time to visit a friend who had returned from Africa after 2 years.

And although it is nice to go and get time for errands or studying or even for leisure, I am always acutely aware of the clock. “Okay, so I have 2.5 hours to spend. I’ll spend 1 hour studying, half an hour writing, half an hour reading and grab some groceries for the last half hour.”

As parents, you typically only get what feels like moments to yourself. And it’s rare not to feel incredibly pressed for time when you’re out attempting to rejuvinate.

So when I found out that Nick was going up to the Bay for a conference and that he was going to take Joshua with him, I immediately began to mentally plan what would be a full 2 days to myself. The first day would be filled with class, but the second was completely free. A whole day! No time crunch, no under-ridden guilt for taking an extra 10-minutes to myself and no fear of needing to prep dinner, clean & make sure everything’s in order at home.

Here’s how I spent my day :

1. I slept in.
Until 8:30 AM! I know most people would never call this sleeping in. But I certainly do.

2. I did yoga.
Without interruption or whining in the background.

3. I took a long time showering & getting ready.
And I ended up looking quite cute and trendy, if you ask me. This is not of the norm.

4. I got a mani-pedi
The first time since last summer! It felt incredibly relaxing & blissful. And it also felt nice to take care of myself in that way. Here’s a shot of my nails:

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I
 meant to have a gold sparkle, not pink. But I’ll take pink any day.

5. I went to Urth Cafe to read & journal
a) I got the Spanish Latte (to die for)
b) I got the best spot in the house. Outside on the elevated patio.

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6. I ran errands
Not my favorite part, but it had to be done.

7. I went shopping
Without needing to push around a stroller and rush through trying on clothes so my baby doesn’t get ansi.

8. I made dinner for 1
It’s amazing how much less time it takes to prep & eat dinner when you’re only making it for yourself. I made myself some chicken vegetable chow-mein. OH and I ate dinner in front of the TV! Which we never do with Josh!

9. I watched the Lizzie Mcguire Movie
Guilt-free! Not like the hubs judges me too much… but sometimes, you’re still dating in marriage. And sometimes it’s nice to get to do something you love that’s silly without anyone else there.

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I know this movie is ridiculous, but it has Italy, Disney, Singing & Dancing. ❤ it.

A few nuggets I learned (for moms):

  • A Day off requires scheduling & budgeting. There’s no way to find time off unless you pencil it in some time in advance so that everyone in the family can plan accordingly. And it helps to enjoy the day if you’ve already budgeted for what you’ll be doing.
  • I need this every once in a while. But not too much. I found myself incredibly excited & eager to pick up Josh and Nick from the airport. I really really missed them. a full day was more than enough.
  • Do something that makes you feel pampered & relaxed. I felt girly again 🙂
  • Dads deserve a day off too. They work hard both in and out of the house. I plan on trying to make this happen for Nick.

Morning Routines

I haven’t always considered myself a morning person, necessarily… but when you become a parent, you’re sort of forced into it. And for that, I am incredibly thankful.

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Photo Courtesy mops.org

Sometimes, waking up early feels terrible. But almost every single time, I look back and am so grateful that I had the morning. Mornings are rejuvenating for my soul. And when I get things bright and early, then nothing else can interfere with it later. I’m able to get in quality prayer time. Quality workout time. And I always feel refreshed afterwards.

The more and more I read up about leadership, habit and self-care, the more I see the importance of a morning routine…. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I certainly feel sharper at 7 am than at 7 pm (maybe that’s a mom thing).

It took me a while to figure out what’s most important for me to fit in in the AM. Here are some habits that create a perfect start to my day :

1. Yoga
In case you were wondering, I am still doing the 30-day Yoga Challenge with Erin Motz (& it’s spectacular). Everyday she works on something different (chest & shoulders, back and gluts, legs, etc.) I LOVE that I can do it in my living room with josh chillin’ in the pack ‘n play. Some people may prefer running or other forms of working out… find what motivates you.

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2. Read, Pray, Journal
I snuggle up on my couch with a bible, my journal and a warm cup of coffee. It’s important for me to read my bible at the start of my day, rather than the end because that sets the tone for my day.

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3. Breakfast
Brain food! I used to hate eating breakfast (I have zero appetite in the morning), but by the time I’m done with yoga I have both desire and TIME for food. I generally grab some cereal or oatmeal and of course coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Go on a walk
This one is especially great if you live by a beach or a park or anywhere green… I absolutely love walking along the ocean and admiring God’s creation. I’m not close enough where I could do this a ton, but with Venice and Santa Monica so close, I certainly want to make more a habit out of this. And if I lived closer to Disneyland, I kid you not, that is where I would go on walks.

My Word for 2015: Courage

This year, my friends and I decided that, instead of resolutions, we would each pick one word that we want our year to be defined by. The simplicity of one word, we hope, will be more effective than a resolution… to be remembered and exuded in everything we do.

For 2015, my word is courage.

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I know we’re a few months into the new year, but I finally began making my collage today (what you see above) that I will put up on my bedroom wall to remind myself to be courageous. It will also remind me of the things I desire for this year… things as little as reading, journaling, yoga, coffee & bubble baths… things as big as being vulnerable, loving my husband sacrificially, parenting my son whole-heartedly, and leading where I feel called to lead.

More than anything, I realized it’s going to take courage to become the person God’s created me to be.

  • I want the courage to be creativetry things that I’ve never done before.
  • I want the courage to be me in every situation without fear of what others might think.
  • I want the courage to initiate reconciliation & conflict resolution (I’m terrible at this).
  • I want the courage to parent my son whole-heartedly without concern of how others might do it.
  • I want the courage to ask for what I want & to stop apologizing for things I don’t need to be sorry for.
  • I want the courage to make time for myself and pursue hobbies I love.
  • I want the courage to share my faith with anyone & everyone I interact with.
  • I want the courage to speak up against injustice & allow my voice to be heard.
  • I want the courage to lead where I feel called to lead.
  • I want the courage to be firm in my decision-making, without looking back.
  • I want the courage to forgive whenever I feel wronged.
  • I want the courage to obey God’s voice when I hear it.

What word do you want to define your year by?

The 30-day Yoga Challenge

As I’ve been trying to find ways to ease back into working out, I have found a routine that has (so far) been working wonderfully for me.

A few days ago, I attempted to start my “Yoga Studio App”, which I have done before and loved. But somehow the app was being funky with our Apple TV. So I went onto YouTube and found “The 30-day Yoga Challenge”.

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It’s slow-paced, it’s at home, it’s FREE, it’s structured, it’s yoga & the workouts are anywhere from 15-30 minutes each. Perfect for a mom and exactly what I’m looking for.

Join me will you?

PS… There are two “30 day yoga challenges”. One is with Erin Motz & the other is with Adriene Michler (the latter appears to be a bit more rigorous, but both are not very intense). I am partaking in the less rigorous one. But both seem good.

Here is day 1 of the yoga challenge I am participating in (also found at http://www.doyouyoga.com/course/the-30-day-yoga-challenge/):

Healthy Habits: A little bit is better than nothing

I realized recently how terribly tied I am to perfectionism… and this, my friends, has resulted in plenty of missed opportunities.

For example, I really need to workout. As I mentioned in my last post, I literally have not exercised since Joshua was born. I know a lot of you health nuts are revolted by that… but I have had such a hard time committing and, moreover, being okay with doing a little bit rather than a lot.

I am so used to the mindset that if I don’t workout for at least an hour or two, it just wasn’t worth it. But that mentality needs to die if I am ever going to do anything. It has been the same way with my time in prayer and reading the bible… I need to be okay with doing a little bit rather than a lot because, in all reality, that’s all I can commit to at this point in time. And a little bit is certainly better than nothing.

With that, I am going to share with you what I’ll be committing to… hopefully all my nothings will turn into somethings. Here are my healthy habits for the year:

1. I will be reading through the bible in one year.
I found this simple book to help me go through the bible in a year, which I have never done before. There is a reading schedule that shows you what to read each day. I love the schedule that they’ve created, as it alternates from old testament book to new testament book. There are a couple pages for each week, giving you a historical context and asking questions that help you understand and learn from the reading. I am excited to have some sort of structure to help me actually read my bible.

IMG_5708A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year”- Diane Stortz

2. I will be doing 15-30 minutes of yoga in the mornings.
I don’t have time or money for an actual yoga studio right now. But I DO have something awesome: The yoga studio app. You can customize your own class, choosing level, style, time length, etc. I’ve done it before and it is absolutely wonderful (& bonus that it connects to our Apple TV from my iPhone). I believe it was $3.99 at the app store, but it’s money well spent.

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3. I am continuing to plow through my reading list.
Do you guys remember that reading list I made? Well, I am pleased to inform you that I’m making a tiny bit of a dent in it 🙂 I have just finished reading “What Alice Forgot”, which I absolutely loved and am now starting two new books: “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin (literary fiction) and “Encounters with Jesus” by Tim Keller (Christian Non-fiction). Both are wonderful and reading on my spare time has continued to rejuvenate me and keep me happy 🙂

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One Year Later: My Advice to New Moms

It’s official… Josh is almost 13 months old and I’ve made it past the one year marker of mommy-ing! And that, my friends, is something to celebrate 🙂

I realize that so much has changed over the course of a year. But it’s hard to really notice all those little changes when you’re going through the motions of day-to-day life.

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Even just looking at these two pictures:Joshua at 2 days old and Joshua at 10 months old. I cannot believe how much he’s changed, with his huge smile, little teeth, and a head full of hair.

And now that one year has gone by I am so eager and excited to share with new moms or up-and-coming moms all my little nuggets of advice that I would have certainly told myself had my future self been able to talk to my old pregnant self.

Here’s what I’ve taken away from year 1: (these primarily revolve around the first few months of motherhood)

  • There’s no right answer to that parenting question– Trust me. There were plenty of times where I had no idea what the “right” thing to do was… I quickly found out that everyone does things differently. Pick a method that resonates best with you and your baby.
  • Don’t be so afraid of that C-section… They aren’t half bad– I secretly loved having a C-section. I loved it for a few reasons: 1. We got to stay in the hospital longer, which meant more time learning from the nurses and staff about how to take care of our baby, while also being fed. 2. By the time I had to deliver the baby, I really had NO energy to push. None. So when they said that they’ll be taking the baby out and it would be over in about 15 minutes and I wouldn’t feel a thing… I said go right ahead.
  • I. love. Epidurals. I slept after they gave me mine 🙂
  • Mom & Dad alone are capable of getting through the first few weeks. Most people have their mother or MIL come, but we knew that those weren’t going to be options for us… and I was terrified. But we made it! We also had a lot of help from friends.
  • Breastfeeding around others can feel awkward. I didn’t get warned about this much, but even though I used a cover, I still felt extremely uncomfortable breastfeeding around others. It didn’t get much easier for me. But at the end of the day, you’re feeding your baby… people need to get over it.
  • Pamper yourself. Go get a mani/pedi or a massage or a facial or anything to help you feel less grungy and exhausted sometime during the first month. It’ll feel wonderful.
  • It’s okay to cry. You’re not crazy. I cried a lot. For no reason really, other than sheer exhaustion and the surge of hormones. IT’S OKAY!
  • Find a mommy group. I needed other moms to remind me that I wasn’t crazy. I needed women to bond with and pray with… people I could nurse in front of and meet with consistently. Joining a mom’s group at church was one of the best things I did.
  • Get out of the house. Or else you’ll feel really cooped up. Go on a walk with your baby or run errands together 🙂
  • Don’t force yourself to hangout with people- I made myself be social for the first few months because I’m naturally an extravert. I felt bad kicking ppl out of the apartment or telling anyone I was too tired to hangout so I just did. Sometimes it was fun, but most of the time, I just really needed to be by myself and relax. And that’s totally okay.
  • Enjoy the time off!- I really really miss the days when I would get to sit at home with Josh, relax, watch TV & just chill at home… being a new mom is the BEST excuse to lounge and REST and do whatever you want (even if it’s NOTHING). Enjoy it 🙂

My Re-Kindled Love for Literary Fiction (& my reading list for Spring 2015)

It all started a couple weeks ago when I started reading Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (and other concerns)?”. This is certainly not literary fiction, nor is it anything I would necessarily recommend to avid readers (although I would totally recommend it to girly, rom-com loving chicks like me). Spending my time with my nose buried in a book re-opened my eyes to a pastime I love: reading for pleasure.

Why haven’t I done this in years? How did I drop such a wonderful habit? Probably because marriage and parenting and grad school preoccupied most of my time.

But I’ve realized something: making time for this despite my busy schedule is totally life-giving. And I guess that’s what most hobbies do… they give you energy, excitement and stimulate your mind in a way that a lot of things don’t…. and it keeps me away from spending needless hours on social media 😉

If you’re into reading (namely literary fiction), please do the following two things:

1. Pick upThe Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty

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I am not exaggerating when I say that this book literally had me pinned to the couch for three days. I finished this 400-page book in a few days (despite having a child and grad school and life to cater to). I really couldn’t put it down. It’s deep and intriguing and has you thinking about the characters and plot line for days afterward. Read it, read it, read it. (PS, it’s got over 13,000 reviews on amazon and is 4.5 stars… I mean… come on.)

2. Join me in my spring 2015 reading list! And maybe it’ll turn into a summer list, depending on how long it takes… 

  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
    I cannot wait to read another Moriarty book. Apparently this one reads more light-hearted than “The Husband’s Secret”, so I’ll be relieved to read something more romantic comedy than romantic drama.

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  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    I hear people likening the main character of this book to Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”… also apparently a romantic, touching novel about a socially-awkward genetics professor looking for the perfect wife.

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  • Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    Not literary fiction… but I absolutely love books about women and about leadership. I’m excited to dive into this one, as it’s been recommended to me by many different people I love and respect.

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  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin

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  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

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  • Ok, I know, I know. It’s about time I read the final edition of the book series I used to adore. I keep putting it off… but it’s officially on the list, so… it’s going to happen!

New Year, New Planner

I love it when a new year rolls around. For many reasons of course… but primarily because I get to explore a new planner.

I. Love. Planners.

Although my whole world is switching to technology planners (iCal, google calendars, etc.), I am staying old school on this one. Nothing beats my paper&pen planner. And half the fun for me is finding new planners each year! What types of pages do I want on the inside? What design? Do I want tabs? a lock on the front? Will I go for a huge fancy Kate Spade type planner or a traditional one from the campus bookstore with all necessary school dates penciled in?

If any of you are on the same page as me in regards to planners, here are my two recommendations:

1. May Designs (www.maydesigns.com)
price: $22

I ordered mine several weeks ago and I just got it in the mail. So I technically haven’t used it yet, but here are a few reasons why I already love it:

First of all, look at how stunning it is (my initial on it and everything):

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And guess who designed this planner? I DID. That’s what’s so great about May Designs. You get to design the planner yourself… you pick the color/pattern scheme on the outside. You pick what you want the front to say (initials, a year, etc.). You get to pick the font. The colors. You even get to pick the pages on the inside. For all you creative folk, this is an awesome way to take part in really customizing your own planner.

The book came out a little thinner than I anticipated, as you can see here:

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But that’s okay, because that makes it more compact.

Each book is handmade and you can see the natural binding on the side:

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And last but not least, did you know it was featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things? Yup. Awesome.

Now on to my second recommendation:

2. Lily Pulitzer Large Agenda (www.Lilypulitzer.com)
price: $28 (plus free shipping on the website)

First of all, I used this planner for all of 2014 and absolutely LOVED it. It meets every single one of my planner needs. It has space for notes, a to-do-list, week pages, calendar pages, a built in folder, STICKERS… it’s the best. It is definitely more full than the May Designs planner. I almost wish I had re-gotten this because of all it’s amazing features. But I’m always eager to try something new. This one is definitely worth checking out if you’re a hardcore planner like me 🙂

Also, a little warning (a GOOD warning in my opinion), the designs are super bright and colorful… almost like an adult version of Lisa Frank. Which I love.

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What planners do you like?