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OH, HELLO



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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7.16.2019

10 Quick Tips to Having a Very Productive Week

10 Quick Tips to Having a Very Productive Week

Ah Mondays. They get a bad rep. Mostly because we don't prepare over the weekend to make sure it starts off on the right foot. If you're looking to have the most productive week yet, here are 10 quick things you can do to set yourself up for success.

Create a to do list the night before Monday. That way when you've dragged yourself into work the next morning, you know exactly what you need to do rather than messing about on Facebook for a few hours before finally settling down to work.

Prepare meals for breakfast and lunch so you're making healthier choices than a late afternoon trip to the vending machine. Having them pre-made makes it easy to just grab from the fridge and go in the morning too. Basically, do all the thinking the night before so you don't have to worry about anything bright and early Monday morning.

Finish your laundry. I can't tell you how many times I get halfway through the week and run out of underwear. Finish your laundry over the weekend so you aren't having to do it during the week when you're swamped with spontaneous events and nights out. Plus you'll have all of your favorite clothes.

Make sure your car has gas. Another one of those better safe than sorry tips. This list is pretty much an exposé of all of the dumb things I did when I had a desk job. So many Monday mornings I find myself in a car that's on E and rushing to the gas station, already late to work. Give yourself at least a fighting chance and make sure you have a half a tank or more.

Pack your bags for the next day. If you have plans to go to the gym, pack that bag the night before and put it by the door. Any lofty goals current you has will be immediately forgotten by future you if you don't make it as easy as possible.

Have an idea of what you want to wear in mind or picked out Sunday night. That way you'll look your best and start the week feeling great.

Charge all of your electronics. If you have a fitbit or Apple watch, make sure your devices are charged to kick the week of on the right foot (literally). 

Map out the week ahead so you have a sense of where you need to be and what you need to do. Have a lot of meetings on Tuesday? Push preparing for that big presentation to Wednesday so you won't be interrupted by meetings. 

Get to bed early. Turn off Netflix before eleven and you'll be bright-eyed the next morning. 

Drink a lot of water Monday morning. I mean, drink a lot of water period, but especially Monday morning. But you knew that, right?

What are some of the ways you prepare to have a very productive week?
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7.11.2019

5 Things I've Learned This Year


Halfway done with 2019 and it still feels like I'm just getting going. Isn't that always the case though? Despite still feeling like I'm in 2018, I've learned a few big lessons this year that feel worth sharing. Even if it's just for future Kayla to look back and think, "oh how quaint."

All things are difficult before they are easy. I've started a lot of new projects this year. I launched a subscription box, am deep into creating a coaching program, and am taking active steps towards a retail location. And it's hard. I have no freakin' clue what I'm doing most of the time. But things become easier the more you do them. The box process has become a well oiled machine after six months and I'm sure everything that's difficult now will become easy soon enough.

Anything can be accomplished with time and effort. This kind of goes with the first lesson. I never in a million years thought I'd be creating curriculum for an online coaching program. But with time and a whole lot of effort, even the most daunting thing (I'm looking at you retail store) can become a reality. 

I'm a social introvert. This year I joined the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce's ambassador program kind of on a whim. It's a whole lot more socializing than I originally expected, but I'm realizing that's ok. I'm still a hardcore homebody who loves to be alone with her husband and her cats. But I can also be that socialite attending networking events and grabbing coffee with strangers. 

That you can't always dip your toe in. This feels 100% true with the retail shop venture we're embarking on. It's definitely not something to just "try out." There are leases, commitments, and so many other factors that can't be half-assed. It's time to go all in on Oh, Hello.

Don't say 'no' to yourself for someone else. So often I find myself thinking, "oh there's no way they'll want to collab with me." I'm literally saying 'no' for them before I've even asked. So many times this year I've been pleasantly surprised by responses to emails and inquiries. You never know what they're going to say, so don't say it for them.

I'd love to say that I learned something small like how to clean the oven (I still don't know), but these past six months have been packed with some big "aha" lessons. How has the first half of 2019 been treating you?

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7.09.2019

My Top 5 Travel Tips


We talked about travel anxiety in a recent post, but I wanted to dive into the tricks I've learned along the way that has made travel a breeze. I travel about once a month and these tips make it possible.

Join every frequent flyer program you can find. No matter what airline I'm flying on, I make sure I'm part of their program to get points for the flights. That way, one day down the road I'll have enough points for free travel. It seems silly if you don't use the same airline that often, but over time it can really pay off. Plus the programs are free so what does it hurt?

Along the same lines of frequent flyers are credit card points. Depending on what card you have, you'll receive points from purchases. We run our entire business through our credit cards in order to get the most points possible. We use those to pay for flights and hotels for conferences and events. As long as you pay off your credit card balance in full every month, it's basically like the credit card company is paying for your travel.

Once you're actually traveling, pack Ziplock bags with you. I usually bring one gallon bag with a few sandwich bags inside. You never know when you'll need a ziplock bag. It's great to keep your liquids separate from other things in your bag if they happen to spill. Maybe you went swimming the night before your flight leaves and still have a wet swimsuit. They're great to have on hand, just in case.

I've personally never been very good at documenting a trip while I'm on it, so I recommend keeping daily adventure lists of what you get up to. Nothing too fancy, just a list of places you went, things you saw, and food you ate. That way when you get back home you won't have to remember all the details when you're trying to document the trip.

Although I'm a bit biased with this one, film it. Film the entire trip in one capacity or another. Even if it's just short clips on your phone, you'll love being able to look back and see better snippets than just posed photos. Phone storage is way better these days so you won't have to worry about using up your space.

Any other seasoned travelers out there? What are your top tips?
film it
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7.04.2019

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Decorative Planning


It's been five years. Five years of decorative planning. I've learned a lot over the past half decade (wut. why did I even say it that way? Now I can't get that out of my head...) and I have quite a lot of insight for younger me. 

Dear Kayla from 2014,

You don't need a ton of washi tape all at once. I mean, you'll soon find out you don't like it at all, but you definitely don't need 30+ rolls when you've only used a few inches of the first roll you purchased. Take things slow, figure out your planning style, and then invest in high quality products you'll use until they run out.

It's ok if your planning style changes. When I first started, I felt terrible when I suddenly didn't like the vertical planner I obsessed over for months before purchasing. Planner guilt is a real thing and you don't have to beat yourself up if the system no longer works for you.

Matte stickers are indeed better than glossy. Now, it does matter what type of matte paper we're talking about. That silky smooth type is king and beats out all other types. I know you're obsessed with glossy now, but you'll see.

You'll find other like-minded people. It may feel like you're a weirdo and no one relates to you, but soon enough you'll find your tribe of planner addicts and make a ton of lifelong friends. Just hold out and keep doing what you love.

One day, you'll finally figure out what to do with leftover stickers. I know you're frustrated by them now and don't know what to do with that giant stack, but you'll soon learn to combine like colors and do one color spreads. You'll feel stupid when that retaliation comes.

I know you take your spreads very seriously and what them to be Instagram perfect, but you'll realize (a little too late), that style of planning just doesn't work for you. Function over form because at the end of the day, that planner needs to help you not be a piece of crap more than it needs to look good.

Sincerely,
 Kayla from 2019

What are some things you wish you knew when you started decorative planning? 
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7.02.2019

How I Take Care of Over 30+ Different Houseplants


We recently hosted my 27th birthday at our house. Always having a flair for the dramatic, I wanted the theme to be "urban jungle." Of course it was met with a lot of confusion from friends who are most definitely not plant enthusiasts. As soon as they strolled through the front door it definitely sunk in. Over 30 gorgeous houseplants all stacked up right there in the living room (with a chair for plant selfies of course). 

Now people knew I enjoyed houseplants, but the party really brought the obsession to light. I get questions a lot online and in person about how I can keep so many (and different) plants alive. I gotta tell you, it really is super simple. I wish I had some super secret magic trick my great-great-grandmother passed down through the generations, but alas. No silver bullet plant growth tips here.

It's all about the water and sunlight. Which I mean, duh, but it's more than just pouring some water in and sticking a plant in front of a window. Plants, like people, are all different. Even ones in the same species have different needs. Plants I mean (well people too I guess!). I found my best plant success when I stopped listening to what the tags in the plants told me to do and started listening to the plant itself. (Insert plant whisperer imagery right here).

Sure I start off doing what the tag suggests, but I keep an eye on the plant to see if that's what it really wants. I always start my plant off in a location I hope it'll like and works with my decor, but more often than not the plant wants another spot. Over the next month or so if the plant doesn't get any new growth and starts looking sickly, I'll move it into more light or less light depending on where it is. 

As for water, I water all of my plants once a week but vary the amount of water that goes to each plant. Succulents and cacti get just a little to get the top soil a bit wet while the rest of the plants get water based on the size of their pots. All of my plants have a bed of rocks and sand at the bottom of their pots before the soil, so I never worry too much about over-watering them as they have a place to store that water away from the roots. The larger the pot, the more water as it dries out quicker. Plus the plants are usually larger in those pots and need more water anyway. I also recommend rotating your plants as they'll start to bend towards the light source over time.

It's honestly quite simple. Your plant will tell you if it's happy with new growth, and it will tell you if it's not with brown leaves and droopy looking branches. Plants are quite hearty creatures, but do demand a little attention now and again. I find that succulents and cacti are the hardest plants to keep happy as they don't show effects as quickly as other plants. So I tend to stick to the tropical or vine varieties that give me quicker satisfaction in seeing them grow.

Now you definitely don't need 30 plants, but one or two will make all the difference in a space. Start that urban jungle!
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6.27.2019

What's Missing from Your Planning Routine

What's Missing from Your Planning Routine

Whether you're a weekly planner, bullet journal-er, or avid to do list maker, don't forget to make sure this one particular thing is in your planning routine. Memory keeping.

For the longest time I avoided memory documenting because I thought I had to be good at scrapbooking (which I most definitely am not). It seemed like such an expensive hobby to get into to be any sort of good at it and it just wasn't what I wanted to spend my free time on (I rather be napping honestly). So I added a few photos here or there but didn't really do any memory keeping. I missed out on preserving a lot of awesome moments and now I'm here to make sure you don't miss out like I did.

What's Missing from Your Planning Routine

My first attempt at memory documenting happened when I went to Las Vegas for Go Wild. I literally had no plan whatsoever on how I wanted to do it. I kept it light, added things as the weekend went along, and it turned out better than I could have imagined. I became hooked and now it's a vital part of my planning routine especially to document travel like my recent trip to Washington state.

So why should you start? Because it's super easy. I just use the softbound notebooks from Erin Condren and paste down business cards, birthday cards, ticket stubs, and of course photos. My rule of thumb is if I have at least photos and one memento from an event, it's worth documenting.  

What's Missing from Your Planning Routine

It may seem silly to document little things like a baseball game now, but I know future me will appreciate the effort. One day I'll look back and easily remember the event and it'll be awesome to see me and Alex in our early years of marriage.

So whether you add some memory planning into your current planner on some note pages or you break out a whole new notebook, just start. Grab the scissors and glue and get to work. You'll become addicted to it in no time.
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6.25.2019

How to Embrace Burnout


I'm no stranger to burnout. It's like anxiety in how it constantly hangs around, unwanted, giving unnecessary feedback. Sure I much rather have it not exist at all, but burnout is a part of any profession in one way or another. So here's how I've learned to embrace it over the years.

First off, I've accepted that burnout is inevitable. It's going to happen no matter how hard I'm motivated or passionate about what I'm doing. Sure it may become less frequent, but it can't be avoided forever. I think once I accepted this fact, burnout stopped being so crippling. I no longer feel like a complete failure if I'm feeling burnt out, but rather that it's just part of the cycle and I'll be back to being motivated in no time.

I've also started scheduling more mental health days to try and add more distance between burnouts. I'll take a half day off of work to do something just for fun. It helps reset the batteries, keeps me motivated, and usually has a way of inspiring me in the process.

When burnout eventually does strike, I look at it as an opportunity to try and look at things from a different perspective. I'll try and work on another project or putz on things around the house. I find it's when you're not paying attention that creativity strikes. And if a great new idea doesn't strike during burnout to jump start things again, that's ok too. I try to remind myself why I started to remain positive and let the burnout pass. 

Burnout is going to happen, especially if you're working in a creative field that constantly demands new things from you. It's better to embrace it rather than fight it, because burnout will win in the end. So go along for the ride, take a day off every once in a while, and don't stress out too much (I'm talking to you Kayla in the future).
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6.21.2019

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

Today marks the first day of the Oh, Hello Box Bits Sale so what better way to celebrate than to talk about some of my most used box items (available individually until Sunday) from the past six months. Of course I love everything in the boxes (I designed and curated them after all), but these products are the ones I use most often in my everyday life.

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

My enamel pin obsession knows no bounds and I'm still completely in love with them. Each box has an exclusive enamel pin and I love seeing how the collection continues to grow each month. It's an amazing way to remember all of the boxes so far. I also find myself using the toiletry bag often with all the trips we've been taking lately. It's incredibly roomy and fits everything I and my husband need for a long weekend away.

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

The three zipper pouch is also a favorite for convenient travel packing. On our last trip to Washington state I used it to organize my makeup. I love the compartments to separate out brushes and makeup bits into categories.

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

I never realized how badly I needed the tech taco in my life until I had one. It's the perfect tool to keep my cords from getting tangled in my bag and has saved me a lot of frustration trying to untangle cords. It's such a simple thing, but has made my coffee shop work outings so much easier.
  
My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

However I think my most used item out of all the Oh, Hello boxes has to be this pocket sized traveler's notebook from the very first box. It goes everywhere with me and houses any random ideas or notes I take on the go. It's my constant companion.

My Most Used Oh, Hello Box Items

My most complimented item is definitely the tartan tote from the coffee shop themed box. I grab it whenever I'm headed out to make returns or bring items to a party. It's heavy duty while still flexible to fold up and put in my suitcase too. It's like a classier version of a reusable tote.

Be sure to take advantage of the Box Bits Sale this weekend through Sunday. Quantities vary from item to item in the sale and there are a ton of other products I didn't mention in this post. Plus use coupon code BOXBITS to save 20% off everything in the sale!


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6.20.2019

How to Deal with Travel Anxiety

How to Deal with Travel Anxiety

Oh travel anxiety. I swear no matter how often I travel I still get anxious before flights. What's that about brain?! While I try to figure out a way to trick my brain out of anxiety, here are some things I do that could help you reduce travel apprehension. 

Do your research. A lot of my anxiety stems from a lack of control. I like having information, the more the better. So I always do my research about what's around the hotel I'm staying at so I know options for food and shopping if I happen to need something. I look into weather forecasts and the distance from the airport to the hotel. I print off schedules if I'm going to a conference. The more information I can find the more at ease I am.

Have a packing list that you can continually update after every travel adventure. For the longest time I kept forgetting my hairbrush. Nothing annoys a planner more than when things don't go according to plan. So now I stick firmly to a packing list on my laptop that I'll print out and use for every trip. 

Set a loose schedule of what you want to do at the destination. The key word is loose. I tend to have a problem of over planning which leads to expectations being crushed when we don't get to everything on my impossibly long schedule. I like to choose two to three main things I want to do every day and leave room for a little planned spontaneous (see what I did there) adventures in between.

Prepare where you can and try to let go of worrying about what you can't. This is a discussion Alex and I have constantly. I can't control if our plane is delayed or not, but I can control whether or not I have things to do if it is. Have things in place just in case some of those silly anxieties actually come true, but don't stress about things you can't control.

Now plan that next adventure and face that travel anxiety head on. Don't miss out on amazing memories.
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6.18.2019

5 Ways to Make Mental Health a Priority

5 Ways to Make Mental Health a Priority

It's so easy to ignore mental health as the calendar fills up and the days get busy. Yet when your mental health suffers, everything suffers. So here are five easy ways to make mental health a priority in your life.

Plan fun outings and events to have something to look forward to beyond work. A few weeks ago I went with my friend Taylor to a candle bar to make our own custom candles. We were only gone a few hours, but the adventure did WONDERS for my mental health. Plus it gave me something new to talk about besides work things! Something as simple as going to the movies and taking a break from reality can hugely improve your mental health.

Create a list of stress reduction activities that you can reference if you're feeling anxious or stressed. My list includes things like a long bath, a walk outside, and a hydrating face mask. Write down things that bring you joy and help you to get out of  your head.

Go to therapy. Whether it's every week or a few times a month, set aside time to talk to someone. Even if you don't think you necessary "need" therapy, schedule an appointment anyway. You'll be surprised at how much lighter you'll feel after an hour of judgement free conversation.

Unfollow and defriend accounts that bring you stress. Whether it's that second cousin who is constantly starting political fights on Facebook or that Instagrammer with the unrealistically perfect life, delete them from your social sphere. Don't think about it, just do it. The effect will be nearly instantaneous. You won't feel crappy after a quick scroll through Instagram but rather inspired by feeds that make you feel good rather than like shit.

Schedule time each week for mental health activities like yoga or meditation. Even if it's just ten minutes before bed to journal about the day, set aside time for YOU. 
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6.13.2019

Know Your Worth | How to Get Paid for Things People Want You to Do for Free

How to Get Paid for Things People Want You to Do for Free


Trust me, I'm still learning this one. When you have a creativity related job, it's easy for friends and family to assume you'll do work for them for free. "Oh, it's just a few photos" or "Can't you just whip up a logo really quick?" We are constantly getting bombarded with requests to do things for free and free doesn't pay the bills. So here's what you should do if people want you to do any sort of work for free.

Be up front about your costs. Especially if you work in a creative field designing websites or doing photography, make sure people know what you charge. Create a pricing sheet or have an email template you can send to anyone who asks you to do something for them. That way they know immediately that you aren't an intern and deserve proper compensation for your work.

Provide a friends and family discount if you feel so inclined. You definitely shouldn't feel like you have to offer special pricing for people you know, but it could be an easy way to appease people while still getting paid.

Try the barter system if someone just doesn't want to pay you. If you still want to work with them, try exchanging goods and services instead. Maybe they have a rental space you could use for free in exchange for some photography. Figure out a way that both parties are satisfied.

Create a site or portfolio of your work to boost credibility. A lot of the time people don't really understand what my husband and I do for a living. The ignorance leads them to assuming graphic design or photography is just a hobby, rather than our way of feeding ourselves. Having a website or portfolio of your work will not only show moochers the quality you produce (and not for free), but is also a great way to get more clients.

Make very few exceptions to the rules. It's super important that you don't do a favor for someone "just this one time" because that could start becoming the precedent. You don't want word spreading that you did Jack's logo for free because Susan is going to expect the same deal.

Friends and family don't perform their jobs for free, so neither should you. Just because you may have a non-traditional job in a creative field does not mean you have to be a starving artist.

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6.11.2019

Erin Condren Summer 2019 Seasonal Surprise Box Review

Erin Condren Summer 2019 Seasonal Surprise Box Review

If it's tropical thing you can basically assume I'm going to love it. It's been a while since I've received an Erin Condren Seasonal Surprise Box* so I could not wait to rip this box open. I've generally really enjoyed past surprise boxes because there's just something about exclusive items you can't get on the site. Exclusivity is basically death to my bank account.

Erin Condren Summer 2019 Seasonal Surprise Box Review

If you're new to the surprise box, they're released every quarter for $35 (plus tax) and contain over $65 in exclusive and sneak peek products. The themes usually stay pretty close to whatever season the box is for. I've reviewed a few other boxes in the past if you want to check out those posts.

Erin Condren Summer 2019 Seasonal Surprise Box Review

My favorite items from this box are the wristlet, palm paper clips, chase the sun cover, and asterisk pen. I've already used the wristlet as a pouch for my carry-on liquids since it's see-through and can go through security. 

The pocket sized traveler's notebook insert is interesting, but I'm more curious to see if they come out with a line of smaller traveler's notebooks since this particular insert is exclusive to the box. Otherwise this little guy is basically pointless. The larger insert is a summer petite planner where you can write down summer plans and document memories. I have my own style of documenting memories that I'm a fan of more, so this will likely be passed along to a friend.

Erin Condren Summer 2019 Seasonal Surprise Box Review

Overall I think this box is worth the $35 price tag since a lot of the exclusive items I really enjoy. It's when the exclusive items are meh that it doesn't really seem worth it since you'll be able to get the sneak peek items from the box on the website in a few weeks. I love seeing the company branch out into new types of products like the paperclips and pens. Who knows what they'll come up with next...

What do you think of this seasonal surprise box? Did you snag one? What past box is your favorite?

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6.06.2019

The Best Planning Related Affiliate Programs to Join

The Best Planning Related Affiliate Programs to Join

If you're living that online life of posting videos/writing blog posts, affiliate programs are a great way to organically talk about products you actually use while getting some money on the side. It's something talked about a lot in the beauty and lifestyle industry, but relatively unheard of in the planning community. There are so many amazing options out there for affiliate programs to increase your online revenue just by simply changing what links you're using.

What's even better is that all of my favorite planner affiliate programs use ShareASale as their platform. That way it's super easy to keep everything in one place and you'll get one paycheck rather than having to keep up with a ton of different accounts.

You'll be able to view the programs descriptions and apply to join once you sign up for ShareASale (it's free).

 10% of every sale

10% of every sale

15% of every sale

5% of every sale

Once you're a part of the program I highly recommend using the custom links option to take whatever product you're talking about and make an affiliate link for it. That way you can direct your audience to exactly what you're talking about. You'll also receive emails about once a month for each program to give you updates on upcoming sales, discounts, and collaboration opportunities. The Erin Condren program specifically offers a lot of chances to "bid" on projects where they supply you with items to talk about during specific campaigns.

There are a ton of other planner affiliate programs out there, but these are my particular favorites and the ones I find myself linking to most often. If you have any questions about getting started with affiliate links, drop them in the comments and I can help you figure it all out!
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6.04.2019

Getting the Most Out of Your Planner Note Pages

Getting the Most Out of Your Planner Note Pages

For the longest time I just left the notes pages in the back of my planner empty. I'm definitely not an artist and didn't want to mess them up with my crappy attempts at bullet journal-like spreads. I'm ashamed at just how long it took me to realize I could just make stickers...oh Kayla...

With all the travel I've been doing lately across the United States I really wanted to create a travel tracker and wish list of places I'd like to visit. I just add a little red dot on the map to indicate places I've been rather than coloring in the whole state. My hope is that over time I'll have a chicken pox map full of amazing travel adventures!

Getting the Most Out of Your Planner Note Pages

When the new Erin Condren Life Planner (review here) dropped I completely hated the new monthly productivity page. I never have that many birthdays to track and I wasn't a fan of the other header options. Plus I always love a good habit tracker. The ECLP monthly productivity page habit tracker and headers was born! If I want to mix up what headers I use each month I have six different options to choose from. Gotta love stickers that can make a planner perfect!

Getting the Most Out of Your Planner Note Pages

Another one of my favorite ways to spice up my notes section is with the build your own bookshelf book tracker. There's just something about wanting to fill in all those book spines that gets a gal reading again. 

Getting the Most Out of Your Planner Note Pages

I wanted a section for all my wish list items, but I like to divide them based on categories. Presto. Wish list notes page. That way I can add a header to the little sticky note looking sticker based on wish list topics. 


Here's a video of my notes section before I created the USA map and wish list sticker sheets! I also use these popcorn stickers and television stickers to track shows and movies I'd like to watch and you can see how I set that up in the video.

How do you use your note pages?


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5.30.2019

June Oh, Hello Box | Adventure Awaits

June Oh, Hello Box

With more solo travel in the planner this year, it seemed like the perfect time for a travel Oh, Hello Box. Gotta have travel supplies, right? I wanted this box to have a ton of really useful travel related products. Whether you're travelling international or taking a road trip, this box can help make your next adventure even better.


June Oh, Hello Box

One of my favorite products in this month's box is definitely this travel pencil case. It enlarges and zips closed to keep all of your writing supplies safe. When you want to use it, just push the top section down and presto, pens at the ready. The front little pocket is a great place to store sticky notes too.

June Oh, Hello Box

I'm always losing my travel earbuds so this case should help me keep track of them better (and not tangled)! Sure I love my larger headphones, but sometimes I just need something small to throw in my carry on. I've used this three zipper pouch for a few trips already and it's amazing at keeping my jewelry separate and untangled. The compartments are great at organizing things will still keeping everything in one place.

June Oh, Hello Box

The Novel Coffee collaborated with us for this month's box! Just look at those adorable kawaii travel stickers. I love all of the collaborations we've been doing lately and there are definitely more in the works for future boxes. 


Be sure to check out the video to see everything in the June Oh, Hello Box available Saturday, June 1st!

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5.28.2019

Homemade Cat & Dog Treats ft. Our Family

Homemade Cat & Dog Treats

Let's get into the recipes first because no one likes to scroll through a mountain of text trying to find the recipe...I'll see you on the other side...

Homemade Three Ingredient Cat Treats

Ingredients

10 oz canned salmon or tuna undrained
1 egg beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour

Directions
  • Heat oven to 350°. Pulse 10 oz canned meat (undrained) in a food processor and chop as finely as possible. If you don't have a food processor, use the back of a fork to break the meat into small pieces.
  • Combine meat, 1 egg (beaten) and 2 cups flour in a bowl until dough forms. If dough is too dry, add up to 1/3 cup water. If dough is too wet or sticky, add a bit more flour. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.
  • Roll out dough on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Use a 3/4-inch cookie cutter in the shape of your choice to create your treats. I used a silicone mold to make cat paw shaped treats!
  • Place treats on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. When they're slightly browned and crunchy, they're done.

Homemade Cat & Dog Treats

Homemade Four Ingredient Dog Treats

Ingredients

2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour, or more, as needed

Directions
  • Heat oven to 350°. 
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs until well combined. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky.
  • Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the baking sheet. I used a silicone dog bone mold.
  • Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Homemade Cat & Dog Treats

I've worked with Our Family* in the past on another baking post so I jumped at the opportunity to try some recipes for the furry guys in my life. Our cats seriously go nuts for treats, so I'm glad I now have a recipe that I know exactly what's in it.  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.

Plus the Our Family peanut butter doesn't contain any ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Just make sure to not feed any to cats as it'll upset their stomachs.

Homemade Cat & Dog Treats

After all of these treat filled photo shoots I'm definitely the favorite in this household. That's for sure!

*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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5.23.2019

How I Decide What Goes into the Oh, Hello Box Every Month


The Oh, Hello Box is six months old! Putting together the box every month is one of my favorite things about my job. Sure there are a few boring parts like budgets to deal with, but it's mostly just a whole lot of fun.

When planning what goes into each of the boxes, I first look at current trends and any particular seasonal factors for each month. The summer is usually filled with grilling, travel, and lots of sun, so it makes sense to create boxes around those ideas rather than cuddling up with a nice book. I keep a running list of theme ideas in a notebook whenever something pops up in my head. So I look through that and decide on a theme before doing anything else.

Next is deciding on the budget and number of boxes for that month. We have a set budget for each box to guarantee we're making good enough margins for the box to be sustainable. Plus we want to make sure we have enough boxes for growing demand.

Now comes the fun part. Once I have the box theme in mind (say...travel) I get to run with it. I'll flip through countless promotional item catalogs my husband Alex keeps for his business. Of course there are a ton of items that would fall under the travel category, but I like thinking out of the box and seeing if I can incorporate items that don't necessarily fall into the category on their own. That's where designing comes in. I'm always on the lookout for practical items people will actually use rather than having stuff that'll just take up space. The great thing about the box is how shareable it is. If there happens to be something you just aren't crazy about, you can easily pass it along to a friend or wrap it up for a gift.

After my list of products has been roughly outlined, I start figuring out what I want on them. This is the point where the box really starts to take shape. A "meh" item can be turned into the most popular thing in the box if it has a really awesome quote or great design on it. I need to know what the items are before I start designing to make sure the designs make sense with each item and can work cohesively to the theme.

Honestly having a husband in the promotional products business makes assembling the box every month a complete breeze. I'm fortunate to have someone who is constantly up on the most popular items and coolest gadgets that we can share with all of you.

If you have any questions about what it's like to put a subscription box together every month, drop them in the comments!
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5.21.2019

My Journey to Depression Medication


Let's be honest. I never thought I'd have the ovaries to write a post like this. Here I am just airing out all my personal laundry for the world to see. But you know what? It's important. It's so important to me that I allow myself to be vulnerable and share these usually kept secret things. Because we are all going through something in some shape or form. And we all could use a post saying that we aren't alone. My hope is that when I truly need it, I'll find a post like this one to help me through a tough time. So I hope this post can do that for you too.

I've talked a bit about my anxiety journey in videos before, but I haven't really unpacked the baggage that is my depression. Mostly because it took me a while to realize that's what I was. Depressed. I thought I couldn't possibly be. There's nothing "wrong" in my life. I'm in a happy marriage, have family and friends who love me, and have a rewarding job. And yet despite all the surface things, I still felt like shit. I slept a lot. I stopped caring about work. I didn't have the drive or interest to hang out with people. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and just...NOT. Yet despite all the signs, I couldn't possibly believe that I, Kayla Benda, was in fact, depressed.

I chalked most of my feelings up as symptoms of my anxiety. And sure some of them might have been, but most of them weren't. During this time I started taking medication for my anxiety when I started to feel a panic attack coming on. Still in denial about my depression, I went to a doctor's appointment to discuss how the anxiety medication and I were getting on. As I waited for the doctor, a nurse handed me a survey to fill out. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most days, how often do you feel hopeless? How frequently do you have trouble staying focused? How often do you feel worry that things will never get better?

Before I knew what was happening, I was in tears. This form literally described me to a tee and the flood gates opened. My doctor consoled me and suggested depression medication to see if that could curb some of these feelings. I left with a prescription I didn't expect to receive that day.

I started taking depression medication back in October and kept it between my husband and myself for months, not comfortable sharing with even my close knit family out of embarrassment. I felt like a failure for needing help to "feel better." But as the medication began to really kick in over the next few months and regulate the chemical levels in my brain, it became incredibly obvious how much I truly needed some help. 

So here I am almost eight months later and feeling like myself again. Now I know the medication route is not for everyone, but it's definitely for me. I'm hopefully that one day I may be able to ween off of the prescription, but in the meantime, I'm completely happy with the assistance. I'm also more than aware that you can't be "cured" of depression. It's something I'm sure I'll be living with and navigating my entire life. But there's comfort in knowing that there is a way to feel better. Whether it's therapy, medication, or a nice long hiatus to Sweden, there are things out there to help. 
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5.16.2019

Why I'm Doing More Solo Travel This Year


Although 2018 felt packed with travel and conferences, 2019 is already shaping up to blow last year away. Before my trip to Las Vegas for Go Wild a few weeks ago, I hadn't traveled alone in years. The itch to push myself out of my comfort zone is real these days as I actively work towards challenging my anxiety and depression. It just seems like the next step to tackling apprehensions and looking fear in the face and saying, "Watch me do it anyway."

 My profession has opened up a bunch of opportunities to travel and teach workshops at planner events. It's definitely an unexpected side effect of my business, but I've completely embraced it with thankful and open arms. Who knew this introvert could get so much joy out of teaching workshops, but you don't know until you give it a go, right? Usually my husband Alex tags along with me, but his promotional business has been really taking off and giving him a lot of travel opportunities as well. So we're doing what any two-business couple has to, divide and conquer.

The Vegas trip although brief, showed me a lot about myself. I transferred flights, took my first Uber ride alone, and navigated hotel registration all on my own. I've always just relied on Alex's extroverted personality to handle things for me. But I did them. And you know what? I barely even broke a nervous sweat in the process.

So I want to do even more solo travel this year. Why? Just because I want to see if I can do it. It's so easy to fall into a routine of taking the easy way out and letting Alex do all the social interactions, but if Vegas taught me anything it's that I'm more than capable to do it on my own. And that's a pretty empowering feeling.

So if you're unsure about travelling alone, try to really figure out what you're so nervous about. Is it finding your gate at the airport? Is it navigating a ride from the airport to the hotel? Once you figure out what exactly you're worried about, then you can actively work to put things in place so you won't be anymore. Ask the front desk which gate you're supposed to be at. Schedule an Uber ride ahead of time or take a taxi from the taxi line. And don't let the fear of solo travel keep you from doing it. You'll be surprised at how smoothly it'll go.
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5.14.2019

The Shift in the Sticker Shop Industry | My Predictions


Back in 2014, the planner sticker industry felt like the wild west. Shops were few and far between and every idea worked. I'm ashamed at some of the low quality items I sold thinking they were gems. Here we are five years later and it's definitely a different world. New shops pop up every day and there's been a noticeable shift in the sticker shop world that will continue to change in the next few years.

I predict that by the time 2020 rolls around, a lot of shops will start closing. Whether they just lost interest or aren't making the income they expected, a lot of shops are going to turn the metaphorical closed sign for good. The sticker world isn't an easy one. Competition is stiff and margins thin to the point that a good amount of people will likely throw in the towel rather than hang on. The competition will only get worse as box stores continue to try and get their share of the planner cash cow.

We've already started to see more established shops going after bigger fish like Michael's. The gap between smaller, start up shops and larger shops will continue to grow wider as time goes on. Even Oh, Hello has its eyes on bigger things than just making stickers. 

But amidst all the competition and closed shops, creativity is really going to shine. You can't stick with the norm and expect things to sell anymore. I cannot wait to see the amazing, creative products my fellow business owners come up with in the coming years. 

So yeah. The sticker world isn't what it used to be...but you know, what? Good. Planner addicts deserve amazing products to help make their lives more organized and colorful and tough competition will lead to just that. Oh, Hello doesn't plan on going anywhere anytime soon either.
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5.10.2019

Go Wild Memory Journal Flip-Through + Tips and Tricks


It's alarming to think that it's already been a week since I came home from Las Vegas. My first Go Wild Conference could not have been more amazing (and of course I filmed the whole thing) and I wanted to document it better than I ever have before.

This is my first attempt at a memory book and I've learned a ton of tips and tricks in the process of putting this one together. I'll lay those on ya as we go through some of my favorite pages.


If you take any advice away from this post, it should be this. Bring adhesive with you. I LOVE this adhesive runner from Tombow because it makes everything super easy without making a huge mess. It made attaching room keys, postcards, and random odds and ends incredibly simple.


I also brought my Polaroid Zip along with me to print photos at the end of each day. I'm the type of person who forgets things easily, so I wanted to make sure I took the time to document each day to remember all the fun details.


A small pair of scissors also proved to be quite useful to cut washi and trim up photos. I didn't really have any sort of plan when I started this book either. I just put things down as I went along and I loved the freedom of just throwing things into it as I got them. No stress.


Sticker contact cards are the popular way of sharing Instagram names and contact info at planner events these days. I received quite a few within just the first few hours of the conference and I wanted to make sure I had a way to capture them all. I took a few stickers off of every sampler and put them on a couple of different collage pages. I love how it looks when it's finished and I feel like I'm not wasting stickers I may not use.


Anything I thought I could remotely use in the book, I snagged up. I took brochures at various hotels and maps from help desks. I didn't use many of them, but I am obsessed with this map of the strip and of course the little llama sticker to mark the conference location.


Our swag bags included a roll of conference washi tape so I disregarded my usual "meh" opinions of washi to create this dashboard on one of the pages. When in Rome right? Or in this case...Vegas...


I do a full flip through of my memory journal in this video if you want to get a better look at all the pages! Do you keep memory books? What are some of your tips and tricks?

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5.01.2019

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

It's the most wonderful time of the year for planner addicts. It's safe to say that it's a bigger deal than Christmas. The annual Erin Condren launch of new planners is just around the corner (May 8 my friends!) and I got an early peek at everything coming our way in just a few short days. If you want to see a side by side comparison with this year's current player, check out my video or head to the bottom of this post. 

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

This year's first big change is the pattern. Kaleidoscope?! Count me in. I haven't been this excited about a pattern well, ever. This one definitely ticks all the aesthetic boxes for me. EC has gone away from the zipper pockets and introduced a new planner box where you can store you planner. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the box for storage purposes, but I'll definitely be keeping it around as a gift box.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The planner pages have quite a few changes from previous additions and I have some serious mixed feelings. The goals page from the front of the planner is more or less unchanged, but there's a new quote and the addition of lines.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The monthly dashboard page is a completely new addition to this year's planner. And I must say, I'm not a fan. I know a TON of planner addicts will love this, but I miss older renditions that didn't have so much structure. I'll give it a go though and see if I'm just being a grandma about it and not welcoming change. 

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The monthly view also has me a bit "meh." I already miss the full color header and hate the tiny pattern strips. The new pattern is so gorgeous so why is it so tiny and unimportant on the monthly page? Plus there's a colored sidebar (shown in more detail in the video) that has me not thrilled.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

The weekly view definitely makes up for a lot of what the monthly view lacks. Sure I don't currently use a weekly view, but this has me feeling the itch to go back. I love the date in the corner, the rounded edges, and the colored bottom boxes.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

I mean just look at that pastel goodness.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

Near the back of the planner is a new page that instantly gives me InkWell Press vibes. This page is unlike anything I've seen the EC team produce and I'm not quite sure what the point of it is. Goals? Tracking? I'm looking forward to seeing what other planner people have in mind for this one...

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

With the new planner comes a whole slew of new accessories to go along with it. There is a larger pack of markers (four of which are brand new), a new sticker book, and a new planny pack.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

There are new clip in bookmarks as well.

Erin Condren 2019/2020 Preview & Review

But my favorite new launch has to be this gorgeous ballpoint pen. I'm a bit worried about the price of it (yet to be announced when I wrote this post), because it's such a gorgeous pen that I don't want to have to spend an arm and a leg each time I want a new one.

Overall I think this new launch is good, but it just doesn't blow me away. There are quite a few design choices that I'm just not a fan of, despite completely loving the new pattern. 


Be sure to check out the video if you want to see a side by side comparison to the current planner as well as all the accessories that are launching May 8th.


In celebration of the Erin Condren launch I'm giving away a bundle of new accessories! To enter, fill out the form below.


What do you think about the new planners? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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