Friday, August 26, 2016

7 Tips for Maximizing Your Suitcase Space

I have spent a lot of time in the past three years travelling. In the process, I have learned a lot about navigating airports, packing suitcases, and saving money. Over the next few months, I'm hoping to share some of my tips with you so that you can benefit from the many trips I've made and will be making in the future. We're going to start those tips off today with a little insight on how you can maximize your packing space.

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of All opinions and tips are my own. I only work with brands that I respect and would use myself.*

Now that we've got the background and disclaimer out of the way, let's jump into those packing tips that you're going to love! Remember, these tips come from several years of travelling all over the United States.

Pick the right luggage.
Your luggage can help make your trip run smoothly or it can create more stress than you ever thought imaginable. Not all suitcases are made the same and not all suitcases work for every trip. This is why it can be helpful to have a luggage set that contains several pieces and can be used for different types of trips. I own a small luggage set and I rarely use all of the pieces at the same time. However, I do use all of the pieces that came with the set. When picking out best luggage set for yourself, I always recommend looking for the best deal. One place you can look for awesome deals is Groupon Goods. (Seriously check out their awesome deals!)

Identify your method of travel.
Will you be traveling by car, plane, train, bus, or boat? Believe it or not, your method of transportation impacts your packing the most. It’s important that you figure out how you’re getting from point A to point B and what the rules are for packing. Unless you’re traveling by car, there is probably going to be a size and bag limit for your method of transportation. This will help determine which suitcase will work best for you. Don’t have one that’s perfect? Check out these awesome deals on Groupon Goods that could help you pack more without spending a fortune.

Determine how long you’ll be staying.
This one is probably obvious. The longer your trip, the more clothes you’ll need – especially if you won’t have access to laundry facilities. (If you do have access, keep that in mind when packing. A little laundry never hurt anyone!) Utilize basic pieces that can be mixed and matched to create new outfits. This will help save a little space in your suitcase without compromising your wardrobe options. Pinterest is filled with ideas for picking the right pieces to pack.

Consider the nature of the trip.
Why are you travelling? Will your trip be filled with only business? Is it a social trip? Will there be any downtime? The purpose of your trip is important to keep in mind because it can affect your packing on the return trip. Consider any items that you might acquire during your travels (souvenirs, gifts, business items) and allow room for them in your suitcase. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with a new packing dilemma when you get ready to leave.

Look up the average temperatures for your destination.
Unless you’re travelling nearby, I highly recommend looking up the average temperatures for your destination. Just because it’s summer, that doesn’t mean that your destination will have scorching heat. Keep in mind any unusual weather that you might encounter including heat waves, rain, snow, and more. Educating yourself can help you when you’re packing and after you’ve arrived at your destination. No one wants to show up to a cold day in a sundress.

Identify your needs and wants.
What are the items you can’t travel without? For me, my laptop ranks towards the top of the list. However, I can leave my make up behind and it won’t upset me one bit. Things like medicine, toiletries, etc should be considered when making your need list. When you’re making your list, consider items that you might be able to buy or borrow upon arrival. For example, when I travel to see my family, I don’t bring any toiletries with me because I have a set to use there. Leaving unnecessary items off your packing list can free up a lot of suitcase space.

Use a few of these quick space saving (and money saving) tips.
  • Organize all of your belongings.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them.
  • Use mini bottles of shampoo instead of full sized bottles.
  • Wear your chunkiest clothing and shoes.
  • Invest in ebooks to save space.
  • Shop around for the best deal on luggage and other things to pack. (You could start by browsing online at Groupon Goods.)
  • Don’t pack the kitchen sink. (In other words, don't pack everything - be selective!)

What was the last trip you took? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crafting For This Cause Is The Perfect Family Affair

I'm excited to have Dana from Goods Giving Back on the blog today! She's sharing a fun origami craft that you can do with your kids. She's also sharing a great charity that benefits from cards made by kids. Crafting and charity are two things I'm passionate about so I was excited when she reached out about guest posting! I can't wait for you to see her Origami Yoda! I really hope you'll make a few to send to the charity she mentions in her post. :)

School is in session, which means daily schedules are packed not only with homework, but after school sports and activities as well. This doesn't mean, however, that fun and easy family activities have to end! When you create homemade cards to send to Cardz For Kidz! it's the perfect family affair. The mission of Cardz For Kidz! is to "uplift the spirits of hospitalized and/or traumatized children across the globe with homemade cards." Each card is hand-delivered to a child in need of a pick-me-up, therefore this is not only a family-friendly activity, but each card you design will make a big difference in a child's life. Another reason why this is a great family option? You can create cards in a matter of minutes and the activity doesn't require a lot of set-up or complex materials. And since Star Wars is beloved by girls and boys and never goes out of style, today I'm going to walk you through creating a fun handmade card that is Yoda-inspired. The added bonus is that it even includes an origami finger puppet for the child who receives the card.

Crafting for a cause with homemade cards


How To Make A Homemade Origami Yoda Card

Supplies to make a homemade card for Cardz For Kidz

To make the card, you'll need the following supplies:
  • Origami paper in brown and green or thin green and brown paper that are 6" square. Please note: construction paper will not work well for the origami folding for this activity.
  • Construction paper for the card and additional decorations.
  • Pens, crayons, and stickers (if you have some) to decorate the card and write a message.
  • Clear tape for the Origami Yoda holding pouch inside the card (not pictured).

How To Fold Origami Yoda

Instead of taking separate pictures in an effort to show you how to do each of the folds, I decided it's best to go to the source. In the video below, the creator of Origami Yoda, Tom Angleberger, walks you through each step necessary to create the finger puppet that will accompany your card.

How to Make The Homemade Card

After folding a handful of Origami Yoda, it's time to create the card. You will also create a pouch that will hold Yoda. To make it super easy, I have explained it below as a two-step process.

Making a homemade Origami Yoda card is fun!

1. Decorate The Front Of The Card

Origami Yoda will be tucked inside the card in a special pouch (more on that in part two). So this leaves plenty of room on the front of the card to decorate with light sabers, X-wing fighters, and TIE Fighters as well as a fun Yoda-inspired motivational phrase. For this project, the three phrases I used were:
  1. Awesome, you are!
  2. A wonderful day, I wish you.
  3. So smart, young Jedi, you are!
While the phrases don't have to be in Yoda-speak, it's definitely a nice tie-in with the overall Star Wars theme. You can use pens, crayons, or even stickers, if you have them, to spell things out and decorate the card. The designs can be as simple or as complex as you need them. For the first several cards, I kept is super simple. I couldn't quite master a light saber, unfortunately, so I stuck with a fun phrase and a basic TIE fighter on the outside.

2. Give Origami Yoda A Home Inside The Card

To make the origami finger puppet a surprise, I designed the card to have a pouch on the inside that will hold Yoda. To make the "pouch" simply take a piece of construction paper and divide it into quarters. Take one of the four pieces and tape it to the inside of the card. As you can see in the picture above, I wrote a little message so that the child would know how to use Origami Yoda.

Where To Send Your Homemade Cards

After you've finished making your cards, please tell Ike that Dana from Goods Giving Back sent you and send your homemade card beauties off to this address: Cardz for Kidz/Ike Nwankwo 1495 Chevron Dr Sandy Springs, GA 30350 When Ike receives them, he groups them to be sent one of his member hospitals and each card is hand delivered to every child. So, your homemade card is guaranteed to brighten someone's day. As Origami Yoda might say, "Such family fun you will have!"

Happy crafting,

Monday, August 22, 2016

10 Ways to Be Happy Right Now

As I work on things for Project Build Happiness, I've become a little focused on what makes us happy on a daily basis. I've been reading and soaking up as much knowledge as possible to pass on to others. I truly feel that spreading happiness (in ourselves and others) is the secret to making this world a better, happier place.

Life doesn't always present us with an easy path to happiness and that's okay. Our unhappy moments allow us to appreciate the happy ones when they come along. (Click to tweet!) Despite life not always cooperating with us, there are some simple ways that you can boost your mood right now (even if you're having one of those downer days). All you have to do is browse the list below and pick out the one that works for you! (I've even given you my reasoning behind including each one on the list. Gotta love all that reading I've been doing on the topic of happiness!) Remember to pick the one that works for you - happiness isn't one size fits all!

1. Go for a walk.
This one will help boost your happiness in two ways. The first is that exercise releases endorphins (as the lovely Elle Woods tells us in Legally Blonde). The other is that the sunshine will help brighten your day. (If it’s gloomy outside, you might want to stay in. Sometimes gloomy weather can affect our mood negatively.)

2. Turn your frown upside down.
We’ve all heard the phrase mentioned here. It simply means to smile. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to boost happiness because it tricks the brain into thinking you’re happier. I’d say this one falls under the “fake it til you make it” category. Some even say smiling is contagious so you could be helping someone else out by smiling in their direction. (Just don’t make it a creepy or suggestive smile – then you might have a different problem!)

3. Get in touch with a friend.
Friends help boost our happiness – that’s why we keep them around. If you’re feeling a little blue, it might be a good time to check in with a friend via text or phone. Conversation with someone we enjoy can help make us happier.

4. Put on your favorite outfit.
I don’t care if you’re just sitting at home – get up and put on something you love. It doesn’t have to be an entire outfit but at least a piece of jewelry or an article of clothing. Wearing (or being around) things we love typically makes us happier.

5. Exercise.
Remember number 1? Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make people happy. It may not seem like it’ll help but try out a quick 10 minute workout – you’ll be surprised by how much better you feel afterwards. (Plus you’ll be helping your body!)

6. Eat a snack.
Have you heard the expression hangry? (If you haven’t, hangry is hungry + angry.) For some people, a lack of food can put them in a bad mood. (So can the foods you choose to eat but we don’t have time to cover that here.) Think about it – food is our fuel and without fuel we slow down and stop operating properly. So, if it’s been a while since you ate something, grab a small (nutritious) snack and see if it makes a difference!

7. Do something creative.
Being creative uses a different part of our brain. When you’re feeling down, try out a creative activity. It’s likely to help your mood because you’ll be using a different part of your brain. Creative activities can backfire if you’re not careful though. Pick an activity that you enjoy. Picking one that frustrates you won’t help improve your mood. (I can’t play an instrument to save my life so I wouldn’t benefit from picking one up to boost happiness.)

8. Take a break.
Something frustrating you? Set it aside for five or ten minutes and take a break. You could pick one of the activities mentioned above to do during that break or you could simply sit for a few minutes and enjoy the silence or your background noise. Overworking ourselves can lead to burnout so breaks are important. In fact, breaks can even increase your productivity if timed well.

9. Light a candle or diffuse oils.
Our senses play into our moods a lot more than we realize. Why not activate your sense of smell by burning a candle or diffusing some essential oils? Depending on the scent that you choose, you can improve your productivity and focus in addition to your happiness. (You’ll have to do a little research on scents though because we don’t have time to cover that in this post!)

10. Do something nice for someone else.
Helping others has been shown to help our own moods. So, if you’re feeling a little blue, maybe you can brighten someone else’s day by doing something nice. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – a simple compliment can do wonders.

Want even more ways to boost your happiness and to build a happier world around you? Join us in September for Project Build Happiness. I can’t even mention how great this challenge is going to be or how many freebies you’ll get by joining! Did I mention that it’s free? Head on over to the sign up page for all of the details and to reserve your spot today!

Feeling a little lazy today? I've got you covered - just fill in all of your information below and you'll get the details emailed to you! Easy peasy, right?

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