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I'm Kayla. A millennial obsessed with makeup, planner decorating, and board games. Working towards a more organized, simplified life one post at a time. #catlady

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4.17.2019

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

It's about time that planner turmoil struck again, right? One of my favorite parts about the planning experience is finding a new planner that shakes things up and makes me question my routine. Enter Clever Fox planners.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Clever Fox has a ton of different planner styles and covers to choose from. I'm showing you the PRO Weekly in Maroon*, but each style comes with a variety of soft-cover options. Plus it comes with stickers...what's not to love?

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

There's a whole flip through of the planner in today's video, but let's cover some of the highlights. This 12-month planner is undated so you can start, stop, and resume to your heart's content. All of the monthly views are grouped together at the front of the planner with the weeklies in the back.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

Each month has a review section filled with reflective questions and this amazing little pie chart. I love this to visually see exactly where I'm spending most of my time and what sections I could improve on.

Clever Fox Pro Planner Review

The weekly view is filled with prompts, goal setting, and opportunities for self improvement. The PRO does a fantastic job at guiding thought processes and looking at life/work balance in ways work-a-holics like me desperately need.


I mentioned the awesome sheets of stickers, right?


Be sure to check out the video for a full flip-through of the planner. It's a fantastic planner for people with a somewhat consistent schedule that want to focus on goal planning and work/life balance. It's a super simple and functional layout that needs color and stickers to liven it up, but that's part of the fun of planning. It's at a solid price point and available on Amazon too so you don't have to wait long to grab yourself one.
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4.10.2019

Friendships in My 20s | Three Types


It's no secret that making friends as an adult is hard. You're no longer surrounded by the same people every day in class, and if you work from home, it's even harder to meet people. At the start of my 20s, I had friends few and far between. I felt lonely, unlikable, and just plain down on myself (I'm sure un-diagnosed depression didn't help either...) I actively had to start seeking out friends in the planner community, in my neighborhood, and beyond. Keeping in touch became more important than ever. It's taken a few years, but I've learned that not all friendships are going to be the same. As I get deeper into my 20s three types of friendship types seem to keep popping up.

The old school BFF. This is the friend that's been around pre-puberty and holds all your most embarrassing secrets. The type of friend who you've known since childhood and still keep in touch with even if you haven't seen them in ages. Yet when you finally get back together, it's as if no time has passed. I'm fortunate enough to have three people who fall into this category. The older you get, the more exclusive this category becomes. 

The budding friendship. I read somewhere that it takes around 200 hours to become close friends with someone. With busy work schedules, kids, and significant others, it takes way more time to get to 200 hours than it did when we were kids. There are a few women in my life that I've met a year or two ago and seem like they could be amazing friends over time. We have a ton in common, but it takes a lot of planning to find time to get together for coffee or a night out. This category of friend has a lot of promise, but it's not going to happen overnight.

The comer and goer. When I first moved into our neighborhood I made a bunch of fast friends. Over time they've faded away as I've found other people I have more in common with and shared interests. And you know what? That's totally ok. There are going to be people in your life who come in for a certain amount of time and then move on. I find these friends incredibly important, but I've also learned when to let go. 

When I finally started to understand that not all of the friends in my life will reach "old school BFF" status I became a lot more relaxed. The pressure lifted to become best friends overnight. Now I have friends I see maybe once a month, and others I talk to on a daily basis. Not all friendships are created equal, and it's about time I started realizing that it's ok.

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4.04.2019

Coffee Shop Vibes | April Oh, Hello Box

April Oh, Hello Box

Is it fair that I feel like I get to celebrate Christmas every month? Is there such a thing as too much excitement? I may die from it if that's the case. Building the Oh, Hello Box every month is literally my favorite part of my job these days. So thanks for that, planner friends.

April Oh, Hello Box

This month's theme is Coffee Shop Vibes. I wanted a box that contained things you would usually see, do, and use while at a coffee shop. Of course a large coffee mug topped the list of things I had to add. Motivational quotes are my jam and nothing starts a day off better than a quote reminding you that it's a good day to have a good day.

April Oh, Hello Box

Of course I had to sprinkle in my love of plants into the box with this rubber key chain as well as a blossom kit where you can grow your own poppy flowers!

April Oh, Hello Box

Probably my two favorite items in this month's box are the tartan tote and the coffee cup dangle enamel pin. I love how classy the tote feels while still giving off serious oh, hello vibes. Plus the enamel pin is just so cool. I mean come on, the spoon dangles. Witchcraft I tell ya.

April Oh, Hello Box

There are a ton of other products I haven't highlighted in this post, so if you want to see them all be sure to watch the video! This box will be available Saturday, April 6th all the way through the month or until they sell out. Each box has over $100 in lifestyle and planner items and costs $44.95 with a flat shipping fee!

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3.25.2019

On Butterflies and Breaks


A week or so ago my husband Alex and I took half the day off to go to Frederik Meijer Gardens for their annual Butterflies in Bloom event. In the three years we've lived in Grand Rapids, we've never been. We of course have talked about it, but always found some excuse as to why we were just too busy to go.


Now my mental health journey is no secret to regular readers around these parts. And in an effort to actively work on bettering my mental state, I've taken a lot more care with myself. More breaks, more understanding, and more love. 

It was so easy to push aside whatever work we had that day to go see the butterflies. A lot easier I think than either one of us expected. We're so consumed by work that we barely come up for air. The break felt more than just a break, it felt like a rediscovery of what really matters.


Alex and I bought ourselves a membership to Frederik Meijer so we can go back anytime we want throughout the year. We're making a conscious effort to put our mental health and relationship at the forefront, rather than constantly pushing them aside for more work. 

I guess the point of this post is to act as a reminder to take a break, do something you've talked about doing but haven't made the time for it yet, and remember what really matters. It's something I think we all have to actively work on...and you can bet that I am.

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3.13.2019

My Tips for Getting into Planner Stamping

My Tips for Getting into Planner Stamping

Alright. I admit it. I've become addicted to planner stamping. You know it must be true if there's a blog post about it, right? I'm sure there's a video to follow at some point. This girl just can't help but share her latest obsession with whoever is listening on the internet. But I digress. 

One of the biggest reasons it's taken me so long to get into stamping is how overwhelming it all seemed. I didn't have the slightest clue where to begin, most stamp sets felt overly expensive to me, and I didn't even know if I would like it. So here are my tips if you're interested in giving stamping a go, but don't know where to start. Don't worry, I've done all the fumbling around so you don't have to.

1. Don't buy everything at once. Give it a go first to see if you even like it. It's so easy to want to purchase everything out there or what you see someone on YouTube using in a tutorial. Save your pennies until you know whether or not stamping is even for you. If you happen to be at a planner meetup or event, check the destash table for any unwanted stamps left behind (I've found quite a few there myself) or buy a variety set from Erin Condren (like the ones in the photo) or Amazon (this is a set I've been looking at). You'll have to pick yourself up an acrylic block as well as ink pads, but to test out stamping shouldn't cost you more than $25-$30. 

2. Practice on things you don't care about messing up. This is a big one. If you're a planner perfectionist like me, you'll want to practice on scrap paper to get the hang of it before diving into your precious planner. It took me quite a few tries to understand pressure and how much ink to put on the stamps. 

3. Be open to mistakes. It's part of the process. Regardless of how much you practice, there's still a good chance you'll mess up. I've "messed up" literally every time I've stamped in my "good" planner and yet that's part of the charm. I weirdly love how a slightly imperfect stamp looks in my planner now. If I want perfection, there's a sticker. If I want a little personality, I'll stamp.

4. Look for variety ink sets like this one on Amazon or these from Erin Condren to make switching colors easier. It really helped to keep costs low when getting started while still giving me a ton of freedom of different options.

5. Clean off your stamps after every use. I use these wipes from Erin Condren, but any technology alcohol wipe should do. Cleaning off your stamps makes them last longer and stay in good condition so you can stamp away without worrying about residues or damaged stamps. Get into the practice now when you're just getting started.

Of course, I'm still a stamping novice myself, so any stamping experts out there, leave your tips in the comments!
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3.11.2019

What's in the Save the Earth Oh, Hello Box

Oh, Hello Box Review

It's safe to say that putting together the Oh, Hello Box every month is my favorite part of my job these days. My favorite box is constantly changing to whatever new box is available. I swear they're getting better and better every month. But of course I'm a bit biased.

Oh, Hello Box Review

This month's theme (available until April 1st) is all about the Earth. From a reusable tote bag that zips up into itself to a glass bottle, this box is packed with products to help make going green a bit easier. Of course I had to include a full sticker kit and a fun octopus plush. I just couldn't help myself. 

Probably my favorite things in the box though are the metal straws and the beeswax wrap. It's been one year since Alex and I made the vow to reduce our straw usage and metal straws are the only way we've been able to do it. I like to use the beeswax wrap in place of saran wrap or zip-lock bags. The material sticks to itself from the heat of your hands and it can easily be washed and reused with just a little soap. It's important to me to not only bring customers stationery products they'll love, but also educate them about products they may not know about yet (but I know they'll love soon enough).
 
Oh, Hello Box Review

This is the most popular box so far and I couldn't be happier that people are embracing a more environmentally friendly lifestyle! The hardest thing about any new habit is getting started and I hope this box makes it just a little bit easier. Plus there's an auto-renew option for the box so you don't have to worry about signing up every month.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite product from this month's box is! Plus if you have any suggestions on future themes I'd love to hear them!

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2.27.2019

Chocolate Banana Muffins ft. Our Family

Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

Chocolate and bananas? Count me in. I promise not to do that annoying thing baking blogs do where they ramble on about their kid's soccer tournament for paragraphs at a time before finally getting into the recipe. That's what you're here for right?

Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

I've teamed up with Our Family* to bring you a seriously delicious muffin that definitely feels like dessert when you eat it. Rich cocoa, tiny chocolate chips, and bananas all mixed together in perfect happy harmony. They're not financially sponsoring this post, but they kindly sent along a mountain of chocolate chips that inspired this recipe.

Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe

You can pick up Our Family brand baking products at Family Fare or D&W if you're in the Grand Rapids area. They're affordable, high-quality, and are what I usually reach for when I'm grocery shopping. Now on to the delicious recipe!

Makes 24 muffins

Ingredients
3 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup butter softened
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar

1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips and nuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend bananas until smooth. Then add in butter and yogurt and mix until well combined. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in sugar until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine wet and dry ingredients, add in milk and stir until just combined, do not over mix. Scoop into cupcake liners until half full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops spring back when touched. 

I would say these are great muffins for breakfast, but they're almost too decadent to feel right eating them so early in the morning. But I won't tell if you won't...

*This is not a sponsored post. I'm not being paid for this post and all opinions are my own. Our Family kindly sent over the products shown in the first photo to include in this post.
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2.22.2019

How I'm Stepping up My Hosting Game this Year

How I'm Stepping up My Hosting Game this Year

My husband and I love to host parties and gatherings in our spare time ever since we started dating in college. Free evening during the week? Dinner party. Spare Saturday night? Themed gathering. When we moved into our house the guest room became the first room to be deemed officially "finished."

Overall I think Alex and I are pretty good hosts, but I wanted to step my game up this year and really knock it out of the park. Enter Hotel Benda.

How I'm Stepping up My Hosting Game this Year

We started calling our place Hotel Benda after a string of friends came to stay over the course of a few months for various meetings, conferences, and interviews. I made the title official just recently by creating a fact sheet for the bedroom (along with the hashtag #HotelBenda). Sure I may have gone overboard with the lamination and the souvenir stickers, but the content is pretty straightforward. The WIFI information is a must, but I also included info about our tricky bathroom faucet and where to park cars.

Nothing gives me more piece of mind when I'm staying at someone else's house then feeling like I don't have to constantly ask them where things are. Definitely if I'm stepping out of a shower and can't find a towel anywhere. I wanted any #HotelBenda guests to feel comfortable in our home, know where important things are, and have access to our awesome internet.

How I'm Stepping up My Hosting Game this Year

Of course being the truly EXTRA person that I tend to be (I mean come on...souvenir stickers wasn't enough?!), I set out a little relaxation bundle from our most recent Oh, Hello Box. It has a pumice stone, some tea, and some handmade soap bars. Just a little something extra for our guests to feel home away from home. Let's not forget the rubber ducky in the bathroom that says "Oh, Hello" on it either...I'm surprised I even have friends at this point...

So if you ever find yourself in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, hit me up. I'll see if Hotel Benda has any openings! Is there anything that you do to make your guests feel comfortable when you're hosting them? 
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2.11.2019

How to Host a Tiki Themed Party

How to Host a Tiki Themed Party
Over the weekend we hosted a tiki themed party for Alex's 28th birthday. Since we came back from Hawaii last November we've been utterly obsessed with tiki cocktails and aloha shirts. It seemed only appropriate. Plus with Michigan being blanketed with snow, an "escape" to warmer weather could not have come at a better time. 

This part was beyond easy to throw and required very little prep work on our part. In the party invitation I encouraged guests to bring their own tiki mugs to drink out of, then leave behind to add to Alex's collection. It took the guesswork out for them on what to get Alex as a gift, and made it so we didn't have to buy a ton of tiki glasses up front.

How to Host a Tiki Themed Party

We did have our fair of glasses to start with as well. We get ours from Amazon and I really love this set as well as this parrot set if you're wanting to start a little collection. Plus this skeleton tiki mug caught my eye so I had to scoop it up.

All of our drink recipes come from a Tiki Cocktail book I got Alex for Christmas. We've been slowing working our way through it every Tiki Tuesday so we had a few favorites in mind when we drafted our party drink menu. We also made a tiki punch recipe I found online so we had a drink option that served a lot more people.

How to Host a Tiki Themed Party

We picked up our alcohol, lots of fruit for garnish, as well as tiny umbrellas. We also got a bunch of leis off Amazon so people would feel like they fit the party theme without much effort. Presto. Tiki party achieved. Honestly it was SO easy to throw this party together and Alex and I both agree it's the best party we've ever thrown.


I of course vlogged the setup and a little bit of the event. Can you tell that I'm totally drunk at the end of it? Those tiki drinks sure do pack a punch!
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2.03.2019

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box + Giveaway

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box

It feels like just yesterday I announced the Oh, Hello Box to the world and now here we are talking through the SECOND box already. Whhhhattttt. February always feels like the month of abandoned resolutions. I wanted to create a box that would help motivate and inspire you to keep after your goals, but also remind you to take time for yourself every once in a while. Plus I'm giving away one of the boxes at the end of this post!

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box

If you're new to the Oh, Hello Box, it's a monthly subscription for $44.95 that comes with over $100 worth of stationery and lifestyle products. There's also an auto-renew option if you're like me and a new month sneaks up on you, every month. This box will be available through March 1st.

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box

The February box is full of inspiration quotes, desk supplies, and tools to help find a little relaxation at the end of a long work day. My favorite product in the box has to be the makeup bag. There's SO much room in it and it's the product I've used the most from the box so far. 

I'm making it my mission to put something fun in each box for the kid in all of us (or actual kids in our life) so this month a rubber ducky just had to happen. 

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box

The mysterious cloth pouch contains a relaxation kit complete with pumice stone, bars of soap, and tea. I'm going to leave one of these pouches in our guest rooms for anyone who comes over and needs a little R&R at Hotel Benda (more on that to come!)

Work Hard, Play Hard February Oh, Hello Box

There's also a really adorable pennant with one of my favorite quotes of all time. I constantly need a reminder that things don't happen overnight. Projects take time and patience sometimes and patience is something I definitely lack.


Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the box so far! To say thanks I'm giving a box away to one of you! To enter, fill out the raffle form below!


Good luck and don't forget to work hard and play hard!
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2.01.2019

Inhaling Lots of Love in. Exhaling Lots of Love Out


It's something Yoga with Adriene says all the time during practices and it's something that's really stuck with me. "Inhale lots of love in. Exhale lots of love out." And with Valentine's Day just around the corner it seems only appropriate to unpack it.

One of my big goals this year is to focus on self love. I've been hard on myself over the years and 2018 has to be one of the worst in the books. It's the year I finally got diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It's the year I started going to therapy and started taking medication for those problems. It's also the year I finally started to actively seek out things to improve my mental health. Yoga became one of those things.


I think it's safe to say that yoga has done serious wonders for me over the past month. I'm more focused, centered, and actively trying to both inhale and exhale love. It's become a mantra that I tell myself when I'm feeling stressed, anxious, or unmotivated. Love has to go inward before it can go outward.


My focus on self love has even seeped into my business and planning life. Last month's sticker subscription was about treating yourself and self love. I'm throwing love into everything I do so that it surrounds not only myself, but the people around me as well.


I've changed my Erin Condren Life Planner cover to one with hearts and foil to remind me of the mantra constantly. To some I may be going a bit overboard with the self love thing, but it's working for me. It's keeping me focused on the positive and pushing away the negative. And that's huge for someone with self-deprecating thoughts struggling with depression. So think what you may, but I'm going all in on this hearts and love everywhere business.


As I'm bringing a lot of love inward, I'm also trying to bring it outward as well. I'm obsessed with the Erin Condren Share the Love Journal  because it's full of prompts to write to a loved one. I have half a mind to get one of these for all the important people in my life. This little book has 50 different prompts to help articulate love in so many different ways. I've already started one for my husband Alex.

So yeah. That's where I'm at on the self love front. It's so easy to neglect yourself when your to do list is a mile long and so many other things are grabbing your attention. I'm done pushing myself to the side and letting my mental health slip. I'm going to continue to inhale lots of love in, and exhale lots of love out. And you should too.

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1.29.2019

How I Deal with My Anxiety and Depression in the Colder Months

How I Deal with My Anxiety and Depression in the Colder Months
Ironically as I write this, Michigan is in the middle of a serious snowstorm. We've already have nearly a foot of snow on the ground with more on the way. What better time than to talk about how the winter months affect my anxiety and depression, huh?

Whenever I start to feel anxious or down, I always take a bath. The hot water warms me up both inside and out and I feel immediately relaxed and at ease. I light a candle, dim the lights, and take time to just breathe.

The feeling of an endless winter subsides a little when I do something in the snow. If you can't beat it join it, right? I try to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and embrace the winter wonderland. Of course I bundle up beyond belief, but going for a walk or playing in the snow makes it a lot more bearable. 

This winter, regular yoga practices have been a complete game changer for me. It's designated time during my day to become grounded. I feel stronger, more centered, and more focused. It's helped with my anxiety immensely and in ways I never expected. It's definitely something I recommend if you suffer from anxiety as well. 

Nothing beats the winter blues like having things to look forward to. In the colder months I always try to schedule some parties, events, or outings so I have things to get excited about each week. That way I don't feel like I'm constantly trapped inside or that the days have no point and just keep repeating themselves.

Don't be too hard on yourself if you need to take a day in bed or don't have as much motivation to do things as you usually do. Winters are always the hardest on my anxiety and depression. I cut myself a little slack, watch a bit more Netflix than usual, and try to focus on the positive as much as possible.

If you have depression or anxiety than you already know that it's a "take it day by day" kind of thing. When it's cold out I drink a few more chai lattes, take quite a lot of baths, and snuggle with my cats. Plus I remind myself that it won't be cold forever. That always helps.
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