Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING and hope you are able to spend time with family just having fun, relaxing, having meaningful conversations, watch some football (or play in the back yard). Forget about all the retail stuff for today. Today is a day to reflect on what we have - even if it's not as much as you would like.

For my Jamberry customers, you've probably seen my Black Friday - Giving Tuesday posts on my Facebook Page, so I won't go into that today. But, I thank each and every customer and hostess from this past year.  It's because of YOU that I can enjoy "working" at this business!

For my family, even though some of us are spread out across this nation and we don't see each other often, I love you all.  I thank God that I have a good family and I'm proud to carry the Vajdak name and have Vairin blood as well. Family is so important and even though I don't have the "Hallmark" gene and get all mushy over a lot of things, I still treasure my family. I've been a single mom for over 16 years and it's tough sometimes, but I love you Colton! I do the best I can to hold it altogether and I love our little family which includes our 4-footed one, Dixie. Mom & Daddy - without your support and help over the years, I wouldn't be able to make it. Thank you!!! Scott, love you bro!

I am so thankful for my health and for Colton's. Thank the Lord, we have not been plagued with many illnesses and injuries.

I am thankful for my job for which I have been employed for over 20 years now. It's had it's trials and shakeups, but it pays the bills and there are parts of it that I do love, so I'm grateful to have it. I love doing trainings, so I'm glad to have those opportunities. For my friends that are no longer there, I miss you and I enjoy anytime we can still get together to catch up and hang out.

I am thankful for my church family. When I leave this earth, I KNOW I am going to Heaven to meet my Saviour and Lord. When times are hard, I appreciate the prayers and support from our church. I'm glad I get to help with my talents in the worship services and in social media. God didn't give me a great singing voice, but I can help put up the words for everyone to sing together and that's a joyful noise unto Him.

I'm also thankful for:

  • A home...that will be paid off in a few short years
  • A truck to get me back and forth to work, to church and to travel to see friends, family and the sights of this world - which will be paid off after the house
  • That most months, I have a little extra money above the bills. It's a balancing act, but it could be worse.
  • All the beauty in this world. Flowers, fall colors, scenic vistas, the birds that visit our property and just everything that God has made, especially the ones that most people don't get to enjoy, but I'm allowed to glimpse it. For beautiful sunrises and sunsets, for rivers and oceans, for mountains and plains. Cool breezes and being able to listen to the sounds of the night in the country.
  • Food to eat. We are lucky in that we don't go hungry most of the time.
I hope everyone will take this day to be grateful. Don't worry about the retail stuff today and PLEASE don't go crazy and try to kill each other over toys and material things tomorrow!

God bless you!

Planner Stickers

I've been loving decorating my Create 365 Happy Planner and I've gotten stickers from various shops on Etsy, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Dollar Tree and Pinterest.  I'm not super at designing, but I have made some of my own because I see that I could easily go into sticker debt with this.  There are soooo many talented designers out there.  See my latest sticker haul video below and see the video notes for the shops that I used.

I made some Christmas/Winter stickers that you can print this on paper and use tape or glue or I suggest printing it on Avery Sticker Project Paper and just using a scissors or paper cutter to separate them. Before or after trimming, turn them over and LIGHTLY score the backing to make it easier to remove, but be careful not to press to hard so you don't damage the sticker itself.

You could also use these to make gift tags - either on sticker paper or on card stock that you can punch and apply to a package with ribbon.  Merry Christmas!!

Purchase online at https://squareup.com/market/denise-vajdak for $1 and I will send a PDF file.

If you would rather, I'd be glad to take Google Wallet payments at denise.vajdak@gmail.com

Glam Planning

I think it's safe to say I've found a new, uhm, "hobby". Let's start by saying I'm a big tech geek and I love my Google Calendar and events and such on my phone and web.  But recently, Jamberry announced that they will be coming out with a planner soon for its consultants. I haven't used a paper planner in several years and since I've always had a thing for stickers, I thought I'd try it out again.  I'm not THAT creative and haven't been very good at scrapbooking, though I did give it a go for a while when I was into Stampin' Up stamps. But decorating a planner? I can do that!

I started looking at Instagram, Facebook and YouTube posts from people like Belinda Seline, Andrea of Scribble Prints Co and others for variations in the popular planners out there. The Jamberry planner looks like it will be the Erin Condren style, so I created my own planner pages in that layout and printed some out. It was full-size letter pages in a 50¢ folder. It might have been okay, but it was a little tall and wide and didn't quite fit in my purse. But, I was having a lot of fun with it and figured it would be something I'd keep up.

Then I started looking at the Create 365 - Happy Planner by Me & My Big Ideas (MAMBI). It's about 1/2 the price of the EC planner AND I could use the regular 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I got an 18-month planner for $15! MAMBI has multiple insides in their planners and I picked the Gold Foil Dot one. If you are looking at these planners, be sure to visit their site and watch the video tour of each different one. It's easy enough to change out the covers, but you'll be stuck with the planner pages. I like how you can easily add pages to it and if you want to remove them to decorate across the pages, it's a cinch. Of course, I got more stickers and sticky notes, too, so it wasn't exactly a cheap trip to Hobby Lobby after all. :)

I also got some printable stickers from Lemon Paper Co on Etsy. Oh no! Keep me away from that app/website!! I'm hooked! That shop has printables and some CUTE stickers that they will send in the mail.  I love the sweet little faces on the Kawaii type stickers!

Instead of Morning, Afternoon and Evening as printed on the Happy Planner, I started using the sections as Personal, Jamberry and To Do. But after the first week or so, it seemed too split up, so now I'm trying To Do's at the top with personal stuff in the middle and all things Jamberry will be on the bottom. I think I like it better that way.

Note to planner newbies like myself...be sure to use REPOSITIONABLE stickers as you play to find out what layout suits your needs! Laser printer toner is not all that easy to write on with pens other than Sharpie style and it tends to rub off. I think ink jets would be better for planner stickers.

One of the differences between Erin Condren and Happy Planners besides the coil-bound and arc ring system respectively is that the EC planner has smaller boxes and has a few lines at the bottom of each day for notes.  I DO like that. The EC has a little space between the vertical columns, the Happy Planner does not. This does make it a bit easier to use your own headers on the HP. You can print them in strips of 3 and 4 to do both halves of the planner instead of having to cut/stick each one individually. Also, I need to do only one week at a time until I settle on a method and preferred layout.

Friday, I hit our local Dollar Tree and picked up a handful of washi and decorative tape to add to my stock. King Dollar also had some tape that I picked up last week and I hit Michaels for more stickers and got to use my 40% off coupon there as well.  I've also ordered some Avery Sticker Project Paper so I can print repositional stickers of my own so I can customize the headers and such.

I did get my first set of actual stickers from Etsy store itsjustcat today. They are nice Fall stickers on matte finish paper and have beautiful fall boxes. They are formatted for the EC, so they are a little short on the HP, but they still look nice. She also included a cute, glossy "Thank You" set with my order.

I have other Fall stickers coming from a couple other shops, so I'm trying HARD to wait to do the first week of November.   Another tip...write upcoming appointments and such on little sticky notes or strips until you decorate it the way you want it. Then if you want to move them around on the page, you can. Save ink on the page for the final layout.

Looking forward to my next layout...

Eureka Springs

This past weekend, we embarked on a trip with our youth group including 8 adults and 16 children (most of them upper teenagers) to go to Eureka Springs to see the Holy Land and The Great Passion Play.  We loaded up in to 5 vehicles and started the almost-600 mile trip at 7 am.

On the way there, we stopped at the Munzee Marketplace in McKinney, TX to eat lunch there and visit with some of my Munzee buddies. This is the headquarters of my favorite scavenger hunt game. I set off 4 blast captures and didn't even make a dent in the map. Thanks for the hospitality and accommodating our group Behind The Wall, guys! 

Weather was good until late in the afternoon where we ran into a torrential downpour! By the time we go to our destination, it had started clearing off and it was nice (and hot) the rest of the trip.  We stayed at The Trails Inn and the owners were very friendly and extremely helpful in pointing out good places to eat and things to see and do in the area with a large group such as ours. I love their Swiss accents!

After we got settled in and stretched our legs a bit, we walked over to Cafe Amore and had some of the best pizza I'd ever had. Good, homemade, hearty pizza with fresh ingredients. Good suggestion from the Inn and I highly recommend them.

Friday, we took the kids over to Ozark Mountain Ziplines so they could go zip lining through the mountains.  They suited up in 2 groups and boarded the small buses to take them to the course of 10 sections. We have a big zipline at our church camp each year, so this wasn't entirely new to them. They were raring to go and really enjoyed the extremely high views and length of the course.

While the kids were busy, so of us adults drove around and scoped out the places we were going to visit.  For lunch, we all ended up in the historic downtown area at the Basin Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in Eureka Springs and we ate at the restaurant on the balcony, relaxed, listened to a couple of guys play the guitar and fiddle, and watched the people go by on the split-level streets below. The kids got a kick out of the restroom with the elevated tanks in the old style of toilets.

After we walked by some of the shops, we went down the road to the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway so we could all ride the 1925 model rail car through the woods.  The conductor was nice and we all got to get out of the car at the far end of the line and lay out coins for the engine to smash as it moved around from pulling at one of the car to connecting to the opposite end to make the trip back.  We flipped our seat backs and faced the "now front" of the car.  The ride was a little slow, kind of short and didn't have any wide open scenic views, but it was still ok.

We all went back to the Inn and changed into swim suits and took all the kids to a little park just off the dam at Lake Beaver.  The water was a little high after all the spring rains, so some of the tables were a little under water, but it made a good place for them to sit and relax in the water. There was a large area cleared out and roped off to make a good protected area to swim, but the water was pretty cold.  After a while, we left and stopped across the dam to watch the water pour out - a high capacity. Then we ended up back at the Inn where the pool is a constant temperature of 80°.

Saturday morning, we took our time getting up and got our group together for an early lunch at Sparky's Roadhouse Cafe, which was another good suggestion, and happens to be Aggie-owned and operated. Good food, excellent burgers and a decent price.

It was a nice stop before heading out for the biblical portion of our trip and the main reason we came.

On the way to The Great Passion Play area, we stopped at Magnetic Springs.  It was a pretty little stop which I found because there was an Earthcache there. Supposedly, metal objects placed in the spring will become magnetized. We didn't stay too long, but our kids were more inclined to hike up the little trail that ran around behind, and on top of, the little pavilion instead of playing in the springs itself.

I love my scavenger hunt games! They take me to the coolest places that I would have otherwise just driven right by and missed.  Even though I get quite a bit of ribbing from most of the group, every once in a while, it's a place we can all enjoy.

We got to the Passion Play grounds and got our tickets for the Play and the Holy Land tour.  We walked for the first part of the tour and got to see several stops that included animals and actors and points of interest along the way and then we came to a true-to-scale replica of the Tabernacle and heard an interesting talk about the contents and the special meaning of everything.

From there, we ended up at a pit stop and then boarded buses that took us to the other stops along the way, including the Sea of Galilee where we saw Jesus walking on the water. He walked around and came to talk to all of us and the kids really enjoyed that.

Back at the main area, we drove over to the Christ of the Ozarks and took the almost-mandatory group photos and selfies in front of the statue that was built back in 1966.  We had gotten bright-colored shirts at our church camp in June and we all brought them for the trip.  They made for vibrant photos this afternoon.

Then back to the main area where we got to go through a couple of gift shops and browse through the Bible Museum. There were a lot of interesting pieces in the museum and some are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It's an awesome testament to what some people have gone through to preserve the Word of God over the centuries and millennium.

We ate at the buffet on location and then listened to David the Shepherd and the Potter talk about things that they had done and seen.  I think the kids enjoyed David almost as much as anything during the day. He was informative, but very entertaining as well.

Finally it was time for the Passion Play itself.  Several of us had come when WE were teenagers and it still and awesome thing to behold.  Actors ran all over the set, up and down the hillside, multiple times throughout all of the scenes.  With the sound setup, you could almost hear every hoof fall from the sheep and people.  Every time the sheep ran through with the shepherds chasing behind, this group of small children behind us would just crack up. They were so cute with their giggling. God bless the innocence of little children!

Some of the younger kids had some good questions after the Play.  It's one thing to hear all the stories and watch movies on TV. It's quite another to witness it in real life-size portrayal right before your own eyes.

On the way out of town on Sunday, we got to attend the early service at Thorncrown Chapel. The lady that sang and played the piano has been here for 33 years and she only came for a "summer job" back then. Again, this was something we visited as kids and it was most definitely worth stopping again.  I'm glad we were able to share all of this with our children.

It was a long drive home and we got back tired, but fulfilled from the 4-day whirlwind trip.

Stars and Stripes

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Independence Day.  With all the craziness going on in the country now, I hope everyone takes a moment to reflect on the values on which this country was built.  God Bless America...please!!!  We sure need it.

Aaron Tippin had a song back in 2001 called Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly and it is so fitting for this time. THIS is my vision of America.

Well if you ask me where I come from
Here's what I tell everyone
I was born by God's dear grace
In an extraordinary place
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

It's a big 'ol land with countless dreams
Happiness ain't out of reach
Hard work pays off the way it should
Yeah, I've seen enough to know that we've got it good
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

There's a lady that stands in a harbor
For what we believe
And there's a bell that still echoes
The price that it cost to be free

I pledge allegiance to this flag
And if that bothers you, well that's too bad
But if you got pride and you're proud you do
Hey, we could use some more like me and you
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

Yes there's a lady that stands in a harbor
For what we believe
And there's a bell that still echoes
The price that it cost to be free

No, it ain't the only place on earth
But it's the only place that I prefer
To love my wife and raise my kids
Hey, the same way that my daddy did
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

Where the stars and stripes and the eagle...fly
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

OneNote for Travel

I'll be the first to admit it. When I first tried OneNote a couple of years ago, I was not impressed.  I was an Evernote user and kept a lot of my stuff (yes, that's the technical term) in my email folders or Google Drive or OneDrive.  But here in the last few months, I took another look at it (and figured out a few things I was doing wrong) and I'm REALLY liking it more and more.

As with any of the other Office products, I have taken a couple of online trainings/webinars on OneNote to gain input and see some of what it can do. Then I Google or Bing it to find out even more.  Input!!!  (I feel like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit).  Then, as Vicki Sokol Evans always says, the best way to remember something is to teach someone else.  So that's what I do and I enjoy it a lot! I'm a Master Microsoft Office Specialist on versions 2003-2010 and I'm working on my 2013 certification. I may try to add in the exam for OneNote this time. Continuous education...

I created a basic OneNote class for employees here at the City of Bryan and I did several sessions.  It's been a while and now I'm working on a project of creating a OneNote class focusing on travel arrangements, especially from the Administrative Professionals' side.

There are ton of ways to use OneNote and everyone finds their own groove and their own way of doing things, but I've found some ways that seem to work well for me.  I have been doing quite a bit of travel arrangements for the upper level managers in our department as well as some of their direct reports.  Searching through all my emails in my Inbox was getting to be tedious, so now I'm consolidating info in one place and it's soooooo much better.

OneNote can be used on the PC, Online or on Android, Apple and Windows devices, so it's great for cross-platform applications and everyone can pick their favorite.

I have a shared Notebook for all of our travel and each person has a Section Group and within that Group, there is a Section for each conference/training.  I have a Page with a table that I consolidate all info into an Itinerary. Another Page has the spreadsheet that is our Expense Report. When I get confirmation emails from flight, hotel, etc., I Send to OneNote, either using the button in Outlook or sending it to me@onenote.com with the OneNote Clipper. and keep everything together for further info, but the Itinerary is the thing they keep track of the most. (I suggest a print out of the Itinerary to take with them in case of battery failure, no signal, dropped/lost phone, etc).  

I also include a page with a Packing List with the main things they need and they can add/delete as needed for each individual trip. Don't forget to add a little section in the checklist for the return trip and remind them to go through the packing list again before leaving the conference.  There's also a page with the agenda that I copy from the conference website, a map of the area with the link that they can click on to open in Google Maps, especially if the hotel is not in the location of the conference.  

While the travelers are on the trip, they can take pictures or use Office Lens to capture receipts, whiteboards, notes for the conference sessions, etc. This helps in case something gets lost and I can start filling in final expenses before they even get back from the trip.  I used this method for my own personal trip to our recent #IAAP Texas-Louisiana's last Division Summit. 

If you have access to do so, you can create the appointments on your boss's calendar and link them to the OneNote pages  - either agenda or itinerary as needed.

For me as the Admin, I have a Section called Misc Info in the travel notebook that is Password Protected for just me. There I have a To Do list of all the tasks that need to be done for the travel arrangements and I have a checklist for each person and their trips.  The checklist includes Register for the conference, book hotel, book car, book flight, book parking, start expense report, enter per diem advance, complete expense report, process P-card receipts, enter reimbursement request.  

After everything is completed, I move the Page for that conference to a Completed section and keep for reference until I have a chance to scan the entire thing into LaserFiche and make sure all i's are dotted and t's are crossed. (As a reminder, Sections can be re-arranged, but Section Groups are alphabetical. Arrange Groups by adding a numerical value if needed or use Z- on the Completed section or other section that you want at the end)

On my Section (password protected), along with the To Do Checklists, I have all the Pages saved as Templates, so it's super simple to copy them to create new travel Sections, an no one else can mess them up. I have info on the mileage reimbursement rates and per diem info.  I also have a table or spreadsheet for all the managers and their personal preferences - aisle/window seat, rewards program info, hotel room preferences, name as it appears on their ID, DOB...basically everything I need to booking their travel.

Just to be safe, be sure they sync the travel notebook before they leave town.

Haven't tried OneNote yet? Click here. https://onedrive.live.com/?invref=2c57ffc757fe82ce&invsrc=90

Spring Has Sprung

I love Spring when all the earth is covered in blooms of every color. It's also a sign of warmer weather, which as most of you may know, I HATE cold weather!  I love walking around the yard and seeing all the new things blooming in the yard. My Red Buckeye bloomed for the fist time this year. I've been waiting on that for a few years now.  They don't last long and they are not extremely showy, but if you get close, they have pretty blooms.

I got a couple of irises at the Kolache Festival last year and they bloomed this year.  Unfortunately, I don't know the species names.  I LOVE purple and I think these are just gorgeous!  Check out this one with the yellow top (click the image to see a larger version).  Even the beard has a "petal" on it.  I've never seen anything like that and I think it's really cool.  If anyone knows what these are, please comment and let me know.

The birds are happy too.  I look forward to the Purple Martins showing up in March and I TRY to keep the House Sparrows' nests cleared out of my bird house.  I got some new pins to put in my poles to make it a little easier to move up and down this year.  I love the sound they make and they can gladly have all the mosquitos they can eat!  I also have to be diligent on keeping the House Sparrows out of my bluebird houses. They have come through earlier scouting out the boxes.  Click the More Images link below and you can see video and hear the Martins' calls.

The hummingbirds are in for their first wave in March/April as well. The poor little things are so skinny and they are starving. I always make sure to clean the feeders and keep the solution fresh for them.  We normally just get the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, but every once in a while, I see a Rufus come through. For such tiny things, they can be fiesty and make a surprising amount of clicks and whistles.  They are very territorial, but they are so hungry at this time of year, that they will share the feeders pretty well.

See more images here of the birds and blooms from 2015.


Dear Diary,

Today I started playing a new game...EVENTZEE!  Well, actually a couple of days ago.  This is a new game by the Munzee Team and it is a photo scavenger hunt and you earn points by completing the challenges in an Event.  This week, for fun, the Kickoff is available to everyone and is locationless.  BTW...this post should qualify as one of the clues for me.

Check it out at http://www.eventzeeapp.com/ and on your Android or Apple devices. Start your own photo scavenger hunt or play along.

Be sure to check the Eventzee Blog for more info.

For a limited time, there are Eventzee icons floating around the regular Munzee map.  Cap 'em while ya can! I got one already. :)

Cap on, my friends!

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