Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Plan With Me: FAQ

Hey guys!

If you're visiting my blog, thanks for reading! This will help answer some of my most frequently asked questions - perhaps you've wondered a few of these things yourself! If you've been linked here, it means that the question you asked in the YouTube comments of one of my videos has been answered below. I've been answering some variation of the same questions over and over in the comments section of my videos, and it's starting to become both tiresome and time consuming. However, I want to make sure you get answers to your questions and aren't floating in confusion! I will be adding to and editing this as new FAQs pop up or as information changes.

**General Policy on Deleting Comments**

I have not deleted any comments from YouTube yet as of posting this, but if you are mean about anything, I will delete your comment. We are each entitled to our opinion, but there is a nice way of saying it and there is a mean/hateful way of saying it. When in doubt, please just leave the video instead of leaving nasty comments about how much you dislike my spread or think I'm wasting money. Just a couple comments so far have bordered on mean, and in the future I will simply be deleting these instead of letting them upset me. Mean spirited comments about what I choose to spend my time and money on will not be tolerated. I would like the comment section to be a happy, kind place. THIS IS NOT ABOUT CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK. If something isn't your favorite, you are more than welcome to say it! I love your feedback. But as I said, there is a nice way to leave constructive feedback. Simply telling me "what a waste of money" isn't constructive or nice.

What planner is this?

It's the Erin Condren Vertical Life Planner. You can find it at If you click the link and sign up for emails, you'll get $10 off your first purchase.

Why do you do this? What's the point?

I do this because it's fun! For me, it is almost like scrapbooking my week. I am also more likely to use my planner if it is pretty and fun to look at. There isn't a right or wrong way to plan. This is just how I like to do it! Decorating my planner is pretty much my favorite thing I do each week. If it wasn't fun for me, I wouldn't do it. So if no white space planning sounds like it would be stressful for you, don't do it!

Why are your videos so long/sped up?

Video length is a very fine line I have to walk. There are many who hate that I speed stuff up at all, and there are some who think they are too long as is! I try to include my WHOLE planning process, and speed through repetitive actions like laying down headers or checklists across the whole week. For instance, my 30 minute space themed PWM  was about an hour of raw footage. I only cut out a few minutes of it (long pauses while I was finding stickers, etc) and so speeding up the repetitive parts makes the video a manageable size for me to upload and also just the right length for most people to be relatively happy. If I am talking or sharing important information, I will return the video to normal speed. I have been getting faster at doing PWM videos - I have only been making these for a little over a month and there has definitely been a learning curve! I can only please so many people at once, and I try to make the kind of video I would want to watch. If my videos aren't your thing, that's fine! We can still be friends :)

Why do you put down washi tape at the bottom of your page if you just put stickers over it?

I don't like seeing the white space between and around boxes. I also frequently use the Scribble Prints Co Half Box Heart Checklists at the bottom of the page and they have rounded edges. I just like the look of having the color around the boxes. Washi tape is an inexpensive way to achieve this look.

Why did you put down full boxes if you were just going to put labels over them?

I don't always know what is going to happen each day of the week and since I like the no white space look I go ahead and do the foundation of my planner (full boxes on the whole thing) and then add icons, labels, decoration, etc. both during my plan with me videos and as the week goes on. On camera, you also can't tell that the Planner Kate labels have rounded edges. It would drive me NUTS to see the tiny little triangles of white at the corners of these labels. I put the labels down on the full boxes to avoid this.

Why do you cover your whole planner with stickers?

I do "no white space" planning, which, as the name suggests, means I do not leave white space on my planner. Many people seem to think that I am covering my planner because I don't like the functionality of it. My planner decorating does add some functionality (with checkboxes and such) but for the most part I decorate because it makes my planner look nice and it is fun to do. I love that the EC Vertical is very much a blank slate so that I can decorate to my heart's content. If you do not like no white space planning, please feel free to click out of my video and watch a planner video that is more in line with your tastes instead of telling me that you don't like no white space videos. Come back for the videos you do like! I promise we will still be friends :)

This is so wasteful. (I know this isn't a question, but people keep saying this.)

I don't judge your hobbies, so don't judge mine. For example, I might think paying $5 for a latte is wasteful, but I wouldn't post this on every photo of a PSL I see on Instagram because we each find different value in different purchases. To each their own. There are many within the planner community who like doing no white space planning, and there are many who don't. It's all personal preference. Just because you like something different for yourself, doesn't mean my choices are wrong.

What are your favorite shops?

My top 3 favorite shops are (in no particular order) Scribble Prints Co, Planner Kate, and Vintage Gypsy Road. I love Planner Kate for her functional stickers and VGR for their decorative stickers & kits (though Whitney is starting to release more functional stickers, which makes me SO happy). SPC has both. Honorable mentions include:

Can you do a planner update video?/Can you show all your previous spreads?

I'm thinking I will do these every 4-6 months. If you want to see my midweek and end of the week updates, check out my Instagram.

Can you do a {insert video type here} video?

Most likely! I do keep a notebook of video ideas and I DO listen to what you guys want to see. Many people don't realize I only started making videos in August of this year, and I gained 1400 subcribers in a month (which I am SOOO grateful for)! I was not anticipating having a following this quickly, so please bear with me as I work out the growing pains and start making different kinds of videos! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 2014 Empties - and a Video!

Hey guys!

Since today's bag of empties was so big, I thought the easiest way to get though it would be in a video. Plus, I'm always terrified of posting a video but I decided to suck it up and get over my fear. I'm always scared it's going to be bad quality, awkward talking, etc - and I'm sure my video is all of those things plus more! I decided to just do it anyways :)

I recently cleaned out my vanity and got rid of a TON of stuff. We're talking 6 - 8 year old lipglosses, lipsticks, eyeliners and more! (I go into it in the video... GROSS!) That is part of why this video is so long - I've included everything I'm tossing from my vanity. It felt so good to go dump all this stuff in the trash after I'd filmed the video - I'd been wanting to make a post but the fuller the bag got the more overwhelming it seemed to write about all of them. I hope you guys enjoy, and I'll talk to you guys soon!
XOXO Samantha

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lightened Banana Bread (122 Calories per Slice!)

For years, one of my favorite recipes to make has been the banana bread from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. However, the 1/2 cup of oil or butter makes it heavier than it needs to be. I am also not a fan of overly sweet things, and often use bananas as a "sweetener" in oatmeal or smoothies. Surely this bread could still be tasty with a bit less sugar, right?

Mmmm.... Tasty!
I cut the sugar, swapped out the oil for applesauce, increased the spices for a more flavorful bread, and also used half whole wheat, half white flour. Why not all whole wheat? I think that all whole wheat baked goods are often tough and overpowered by the taste of whole wheat. Using half white and half whole wheat will give you a lighter textured, tastier result. If you don't mind a denser bread or the taste of whole wheat, feel free to use all whole wheat flour! I also turned this into a "one bowl" recipe - it saves a few dishes and makes this even easier. It doesn't even take 10 minutes to get this in the oven. One last thing: I didn't think to take pictures of the first few steps, so please forgive my shoddy blogging!

How do I get 122 calories per serving? Well, for sake of ease, I don't include spices when I do calorie counts. The calories they add are negligible. (We're talking maybe 10 calories across the whole recipe.) It also saves me a lot of time when I'm adding up calories, something I do for pretty much every recipe I make. Adding 10 different spices that all are 0-3 calories for the amount I'm using is so frustrating and pretty pointless! Here are the calorie counts per ingredient, in case you are curious:

1 cup white flour - 440 cal.
1 cup whole wheat flour - 440 cal.
5 bananas - 525 cal.
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce - 50 cal.
1/2 cup sugar - 360 cal.

Total: 1955
1955/16 rounds to 122 calories!

Lightened Banana Bread
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Serves 16 - 122 Calories per serving.

I had already mashed the bananas before I decided to do a blog post.
Just pretend there are 5 very ripe bananas here, okay?
5 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a potato masher. Add the eggs and use the masher to break them up a bit.

Add the applesauce and sugar and mix everything together.

Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix together.

Next, add the flours. Mix just until the flour is moist and everything comes together. 

There will be lumps. This is exactly how you want it!

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and shimmy it a bit to get it evened out.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. I usually start checking on the bread around 45 minutes - it has been known to be done much earlier than anticipated. When a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, it's done.
As much as it pains you to wait, let the bread cool before you cut into it. If I'm lazy I'll just let it sit on top of the stove, but I'm trying today so I moved it a few feet onto a cooling rack. As we've established, I'm lazy, so I usually keep the bread in the pan and just cut slices as needed. I cover it with aluminum foil once the bread is cooled and call it a day. Mmmm... Banana bread :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

OPI Minis & a Nail of the Day! (OPI's German-icure)

I finally got the package from my mom with all the nail stuff I left at my parents' house over the holidays. Hurrah for top coats!

My brother's girlfriend surprised me for Christmas with the Take 10 set of OPI mini polishes. I was so excited to see that the set contained German-icure and You Don't Know Jacques, two polishes I've been dying to try. I actually already owned a few of them (Cajun Shrimp, Big Apple Red, and Lincoln Park After Dark), but it is always nice to have a new bottle waiting in the wings! These minis all have full sized brushes, which made applying a breeze! 

OPI Take 10 Mini Set
Top: Cajun Shrimp, Big Apple Red, German-icure, Malaga Wine, Lincoln Park After Dark
Bottom: Pirouette My Whistle, Alpine Snow, Bubble Bath, Tickle my France-y, You Don't Know Jacques
I am really pleased with German-icure. It reminds me of a copper version of Every Month is Oktoberfest, another color from the German collection. The finishes are similar and absolutely gorgeous.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Berry Baked Oatmeal

Good morning!

I shared my love of baked oatmeal with you a couple of weeks ago, but my apple crumble recipe is but one of several I make on a weekly basis. Today, I'm going to be sharing my berry baked oatmeal with you. While I used mixed frozen berries (because that was what was in my freezer), I've also used just blueberries or strawberries. I've never tried frozen fruit like mango or a tropical mix because that doesn't sound tasty to me, but if you're feeling adventurous and try it, let me know how you liked it in the comments! Feel free to mix up the sweeteners or add some milled flax seed (though you may need another splash of almond milk if you use flax).

This recipe works great as a make ahead breakfast. I usually make it the night before and stick it in my fridge until I'm ready to bake it the next morning. I use Corningware ramekins that came in a large set I got when I moved, and they have really nice lids that I can snap on before I put it in the fridge. I just turn my oven on, pop the lid off, and stick my oatmeal in the oven for the normal amount of time. It comes out perfectly every time! (Preparing breakfast ahead of time and setting my coffee maker on a timer are two HUGE time savers for me in the morning.)

Berry Baked Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup + a splash more unsweetened vanilla almond milk (if you use fewer berries, you may need more liquid)
  • 3 tsp brown sugar, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, mixed berries, strawberries)
Preheat your oven to 380. Spray a small ramekin with non-stick spray, like Pam.

In a bowl, mix together the oats, almond milk, 2 tsp of the brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, salt & nutmeg.

Add the berries and mix. (If you add the berries with the rest of the ingredients, the almond milk tends to freeze on the berries, sticking them together and making stirring a real pain. Learn from my trial and error, folks.)

Pour the mixture into the ramekin. Sprinkle the remaining tsp of brown sugar on top. 

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn on the broiler and broil for 3-4 minutes. 

You will be left with a gorgeous, bubbly baked oatmeal that will look more like a berry cobbler than a healthy breakfast. The brown sugar on top creates a delicious crunchy and slightly caramelized layer that is out-of-this world and a great contrast to the softer baked oats underneath.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nail of the Day: Estee Lauder's Caviar Nail Polish

Hello everybody! I hope your January has been off to a great start. Despite the depressing amounts of snow that the Great Lakes and Arctic winds seem determined to dump on me, I'm actually in my most chipper mood in ages. My boyfriend and I went to see Frozen today and I am absolutely in love. I love a good Disney fairytale movie and Frozen was wonderful. The music is outstanding; even my no-musicals-ever boyfriend was humming the songs in the car on the way home. I highly recommend that you go see it! (It may also make you hate snow a little less... or not. Let's try to be positive here, okay?)

I received a mini size of this Estee Lauder polish in Caviar in my stocking for Christmas and decided to try it out. I have been loving grey nail polish for the cooler months, and I've been wearing a lot of Essie's Power Clutch (a midtone grey) and Vested Interest (a blue-green grey) this winter. Caviar is darker than Power Clutch, and while it appears to be a cream polish, I noticed while taking pictures that there is a fine microshimmer in it. It is not super apparent on the nails, but if you look super closely in bright light you can see it. For all intents and purposes, it does look like a cream polish.

Eureka! I found the shimmer!
I took pictures under a softer incandescent light and in my kitchen's bright fluorescent light. The color does look different depending on the light. It looks like a dark charcoal grey under some lights, but in super bright light it does appear to have a bit of a green - or maybe blue? - cast to it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'll share both pictures with you below. The difference isn't quite as dramatic in person as it is in the photos, but there have been a few times today when I've wondered if there is an undertone to the polish or if I'm imagining it. I think the shimmer - which I just noticed while photographing - may be what is making it look blue-ish under bright lights.

Incandescent Light
Fluorescent Lighting
You can see the microshimmer the best here!

I haven't worn an Estee Lauder nail polish since I was in middle school and got some as a gift with purchase, so I can't tell you much about the wear. I'm guessing the polish has changed in 12 years! Unfortunately, these photographs are without a base or top coat because I left them (and some other polishes) at my parents' house when I was home for Christmas. I doubt I'll get more than a couple days of wear out of any polish without my trusty Revlon base and top coat! (I bet the shimmer would be more noticeable with a shiny top coat as well!)

Have you guys had success with Estee Lauder polishes? What are your go-to greys from any brand? I hope you guys had a fantastic weekend, and I will talk to you all soon!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Home Decor Haul: Marshall's & Target!!! (And a Bonus Nail of the Day!)

Hey guys!

I recently picked up a few home goodies at Marshall's and Target and I thought I'd share my little haul! I love infusing color into my apartment with little things, whether it's my hand towels or my kitchen tools. I am definitely influenced by the colors around me, so things my many-colored books and my sunny shower curtain can really perk me up if I'm feeling blah. (And with the gazillion inches of snow that got dumped in the North over the past few days, I'm definitely feeling the winter blahs.) Let's get to it!

This ain't your mamma's ironing board cover.
This may sound silly, but I am one of those people who irons everything. I've gotten a lot more relaxed as I've gotten older (I'm no longer ironing my tee shirts) but I own a lot of button downs and nicer tops that need to be pressed. I've owned my ironing board since I started undergrad (in 2008!) and the cover was GROSS. This Isaac Mizrahi cover was super marked down at Marshall's because of a pinhole-sized snag that is on the underside of the cover. Who cares about that? I thought this was super cute and it had much more cushioning than my crappy old cover, which makes ironing a lot easier!

Bowl: Anthropologie
If you guys somehow hadn't noticed, I love cooking. My Marshall's always has a pretty good selection of KitchenAid tools for under $4, which I think is a pretty nice deal for this sturdy and colorful kitchenware. I got an ice cream scoop in turquoise (I already own one in pink!) and a spatula in a pretty purple.

When I started college, I got some pretty towels in hot pink and turquoise. They're still going strong and my bathroom in my apartment is hot pink and turquoise, because I simply love the color combination. However, I had a horrible random roommate one year who stole a couple of my towels during move out and refused to give them back. I couldn't believe it when I walked into Marshall's and the first thing I saw was a display of towels from Ralph Lauren and DKNY that matched my already owned towels perfectly. I picked up another hand towel in each color, as I hate using a hand towel for more than a day or two at a time. (I'm a clean freak!)

The same horrible roommate also stole my washcloths. (I mean seriously - WHO STEALS WASHCLOTHS?) I saw this pack of cute pink wash cloths and I thought this was perfect. I like the idea of using a new wash cloth to wash my face every night, but didn't own enough to do this. Now I can! 
I'm seriously in love with this pattern.
I also picked up a couple packs of thank you notes from the stationary aisle. I am a very old fashioned thank you note writer, and I thought these were too cute to pass up!

Isn't he cute?
I went to Target a couple weeks ago and picked up a few holiday things, but I thought I'd just show you the two things I got for "all the time" in my apartment! The Anthropologie bowl that is next to my kitchen sink used to be in my bedroom, but I hate cooking with any rings or bracelets on. I was terrified that I would accidentally knock my rings into the sink, so I moved the blue bowl to my kitchen and picked up another dish to use in my bedroom! I actually think this was a "holiday" item (there was a reindeer one as well), but I didn't think it screamed Christmas. Do you?
I love the touch of gold! 
What the color actually looks like... lighting is so hard to get right!
I showed my bedroom in a recent post, and the curtains were also picked up on my Target run! I think the blue-grey matches my bedroom nicely. My apartment came with those crappy plastic vertical blinds that keep the neighbors from seeing you naked, but do nothing to keep the light out! These are lined and do a pretty decent job of keeping my bedroom dark. I'm so happy I got these!
Up close of the pattern!

Bonus Nail of the Day!!

I really like pink and turquoise. Can you tell? The color is Essie's In The Cabana.

Where are your favorite place to pick up home goodies on the cheap? I'd love to hear your secrets! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2014, and I'll talk to you guys soon!