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




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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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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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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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10 Misconceptions About Self Employment

10 Misconceptions About Self Employment

I've been self-employed for nearly five years now. Of course it definitely has its perks (like our cats being our colleagues), but there are a ton of misconceptions about what it's like to work for yourself. Let's tackle ten of the common ones I get asked about most often.

You don't get to wear pajamas every day. Let's address the notion I get questions about more than anything else. Yes, I do get to wear pajamas a lot, but it's definitely not every day. At the very least I don't have to put on business attire every day, so there's that.

There's still a set schedule, even if you're the one making it. When I first started working for myself I had this idea in my head that I'd wake up well-rested and excited to tackle whatever the day had in store for me. It's more like waking up still half asleep and quickly reaching for the mile long to do list. The only way we've found to be successful working at home is to have a set schedule, rather than letting the day take us where it may.

There are still meetings. Meetings were top on the list of things I couldn't wait to stop doing when I left the traditional workforce. Sadly they're still just as much of a thing when you're self employed. We meet people constantly for the promotional business as well as to build relationships and collaborations for the stationery side of things.

You end up working more because you work where you also play. I can't tell you how many weekdays end with us still at our computers only breaking to eat a quick meal (at our desk) before getting back to work. I do miss having a place where I could leave work behind more or less.

People think you have free time, all the time. So often someone will have the day off and think I'm free to spend the day hanging out with them. I wish. If I do decide to take the day off as well, I still have to make up that work time in the evenings or over the weekend. Just because I'm at home, doesn't necessarily mean I can just drop everything.

Deadlines are still very much a thing. Honestly I think they're even worse now that I work for myself. Before I had a team of people helping me reach a deadline, but now it's usually just me. Sure I'm also the one that makes the deadlines, but my company and my audience are relying on me to hit that deadline. The pressure feels more intense now than ever before. 

Finances are always a concern because they very often rely solely on you. If you work for a larger corporation, you very rarely worry about if you're going to get paid that month. When you work for yourself, that question pops into your head more often than you would think.

There are seriously dry spells that you wouldn't really consider. Planner supplies don't sell well from now until about May. So finances are always top of mind this time of year as we try to navigate the drought. 

It becomes lonely once the novelty of not having to work with other people wears off. At first I loved not having to make small talk in the break room, but now I'm starved for human interaction with someone other than my husband. Whenever I hang out with friends I feel like I haven't seen another person's face for years and word vomit all over them.

The threat of competition is real and it's everywhere. Sure this also exists in regular 9-5 jobs, but when you're self employed, it's all consuming. Because being better than the competition means whether or not you get to pay yourself this month. Even when you try to do your own thing, it's nearly impossible to ignore what other people in your field are doing.

Despite all of these things, I still would choose this life over and over again. Self-employment definitely has it's upside, but there are a ton of misconceptions out there about the glamour of working from home. Alex has this great metaphor about self-employment. He says it's like smoking. You'd never recommend to anyone else to start doing it, but you're completely addicted.
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How I Plan to Live a More Intentional Life in 2019

How I Plan to Live a More Intentional Life in 2019

I've never been one for a word of the year, but this year felt different somehow. There has been so many changes going on in my business and personal life that it felt right to pick something to focus on in 2019. No silly new year's resolutions. Just one word to keep me focused on becoming my best self over the next year. INTENTION.

Just picking a word has me feeling different and more...well...intentional. It's always in the back of my mind as I go about my days. I find myself subconsciously asking, "How can I live my life with more intention today?" I teamed up with to do just that.

This year I want to be more intentional with my relationships. It's so easy to get caught up in my daily to do lists that I forget to reach out to friends or family that I don't see every day. I've scheduled in my planner to write a few letters every month to the people I care about and the all occasions card pack makes it super easy to have any type of card I may need on hand.

How I Plan to Live a More Intentional Life in 2019

I also want to take my blog and brand more seriously in the new year. As you guys know, I recently re-branded to better align with the Oh, Hello brand. I want to make more intentional decisions with my company. I picked up new stationery and business cards to celebrate the name change. It has me so excited to send out mail to brands I've worked with in the past to build better relationships with them. 

How I Plan to Live a More Intentional Life in 2019

Along with being more intentional with my brand, I want to send more thank you notes to people we work with this year. It's not only a nice thing to do, it's a good business practice to get into. It's so easy to just send a quick email and think it'll do the trick. But a handwritten card? It'll set you apart in the business world. Sometimes old school is the way to go.

This isn't a sponsored post, but I'm excited to take all of my new products and use them to become more intentional this year. It'll not only build my personal relationships, but my business ones as well. Win-win all around. My favorite kind.
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Details from My Studio

I'm fortunate that there's extra space in our home for me to have my own studio. It's completely changed how I work by providing me a place to leave set up and constantly ready for my next creative project. In the past I may not have taken advantage of creative moments because it was just too much work to bring out all my lights and set everything up. Now when the mood strikes, I hop over to my studio, flick a few lights on, and I'm ready to go.

I keep the space pretty open and free of clutter so there's room to work, but there are a few items here and there that really make the space my own. From the My Little Pony and Shopkins collections to my giant squishy watermelon, I wanted things that made me happy, but also looked pretty in the background of videos and photos.

So here's a little glimpse into my happy place. Let me know in the comments if you're interested in a full video tour of the studio!
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Free Downloadable: 25 List Prompts to Kick Off 2019 on the Right Foot

25 List Prompts to Kick Off 2019 on the Right Foot

With one week into the new year I hope you're all starting to write the date correctly again! That always seems to be the hardest thing for me to get right. Rather than focus too heavily on new year's resolutions this year, I wanted to pay more attention to my word of the year. It seems much more manageable and something I won't abandon come February. My word for the year is Intention. So in an effort to kick 2019 off on the right foot, I started a list insert in my traveler's notebook. I wanted a place to write down the things that matter to me most, that bring me joy, and that will help me live a more intentional life. 

Of course I had to share my list prompts with all of you! Download the PDF here to have 25 different list prompts to help you be more mindful in 2019. They'll help you sort out what matters to you most while eliminating anything in your life that doesn't serve you. Plus it'll be fun to look back at the start of 2020 (that felt weird!) to see how your thoughts have changed over the year.

So print off the list, find a notebook you've been hording, and set down to write out some lists to help you become more mindful in 2019. If you feel comfortable, share with me what's on some of your lists! Be sure to tag me on Instagram @ohhelloliving.

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