Welcome to BusyGalTips! With a background in social work, I thrive on helping others improve their lives! This is a creative way for me to live out my passion and share ways to make your busy life a little bit more manageable. ••••••••••••• Additional bonus tips can be found on Twitter and Facebook (click the links on the left). Enjoy!


BusyGals, Embrace the Season!

This entry is basically just a free-flow splattering of my thoughts about seasons in life that are particularly BUSY!
Photo courtesy here

I saw this image on Pinterest, and I feel that I really need to apply it to my life and make it my motto, given this VERY busy season of life I'm currently in. 

When I named this blog, I had no idea how very fitting it would be - I mean, I'm always on the go, but life over the past few months has been CRAZY busy. 

I fully realize that many of the events I am listing below are fun and happy and fun events, so I'm not complaining or whining - at least I hope it doesn't come off that way - I'm just giving an example of how busy life has been for me. I also acknowledge that life is good - I don't have much to complain about in comparison to many others (like my friend Clare, who has a young son battling major health issues in the hospital, or my dad, who's been in the hospital for the past 3 months, or my uncle who just lost his wife to a horrible form of cancer, or the people involved in the recent tragedy in Colorado, and the list could go on...), things could always be worse, and I realize that. This is just how my life has been and the small lessons I've learned as a result.

An example of my schedule in the past 2 weeks:

Week 1 (Sat thru Sun):
Host small BBQ
Attend friend's bday party
Work full-time
Visit dad in hospital
Attend concert at the Roxy
Attend new small group
Coordinate and attend Vegas bachelorette party Th-Sun (SO fun!)
{Find time to spend with hubby}

Week 2 (Mon thru Sun):
Work full-time
Spend evening with bro, niece, nephew, mom, & hubby for bro's bday
Visit dad in hospital
Eyebrow appointment
Host book club/mini dinner party
Attend Solvang bachelorette party Sat-Sun (also SO fun!)
Attend friend's wedding Sun (another fun event!)
Attend hubby's gma's 80th bday party (also Sun)
{Find time to spend with hubby}

Needless to say, this season of life has been BUSY. This is just a small sampling of life as of late. 

My dad entered the hospital in April due to a blood clot issue and has been there since then, and that has been difficult, worrisome, and stressful to say the least. I hate seeing him in pain and feeling so helpless. He has been so strong, and continues to be. So has my mom. They are rockstars! {Prayers appreciated for dad that he continues to heal and get well!}

My hubby and I moved to a new home at the end of April, so that always makes for crazy-busy, with packing a home we lived in for 6 1/2 years and all, and searching for a new home, and dealing with selling a home. We were blessed to have movers and a couple of very caring/generous friends who came to help us with the move and help us unpack.

This has been a busier wedding season than most have been in the past for the friends in our lives. This makes for lots of parties and fun events (showers, bachelorette party getaways, weddings, shopping, helping, etc). 

This upcoming weekend is the first free weekend with absolutely no plans on the calendar since April, and it can't come soon enough!

Life will continue to be crazy until early August, and then hopefully things will calm down a bit (one can hope at least)!

Why am I writing all of this? I'm not really sure. I guess it feels therapeutic in a sense. I saw the quote and it really struck a chord with me, as I'm sure it does with many of you who are much more busy than I and with many more stressful, difficult things happening in your lives.

I'd like to have some purpose to this post, so I will close my rambling thoughts with a few lessons I've learned that I'd like to pass on to you (hopefully it can be of some help to you somehow):

Rather than fight this season of life, as I've been doing, I am going to choose to embrace it and accept it. I can't control all of the situations in my life, but I can control how I react to them. I am now choosing to view the tasks on my schedule in the future as opportunities, not burdens or items on a checklist to cross off, or "get through." It's easy to start viewing life that way when your plate is so full, but I think life is becoming so much more enjoyable when I'm able to change my outlook on all that I have to do as chances to experience life in new ways, rather than duties to complete.

So if you'd like, please join me in embracing this season of your life...whatever season of life you might currently be in. 

Wishing you sanity, peace and acceptance as you travel through this busy life Busygals!

Life is happening regardless of how I view it, so I might as well experience all that it has to offer!


Aveda Outer Peace Acne Spot Relief

I turned 30 in May, and as a birthday gift, my body gave me acne for the first time in my life (thanks, body...is there a way to return your gift, or maybe exchange it for something cooler, like thinner thighs or something?!). 
In reality, I'm thankful for my health and so many other wonderful things in my life, so I can't really complain...but acne is a bummer.

Anyway, I was complaining to my esthetician about my new-found acne, and she told me this is a common occurrence for women who hit 30 - who knew?! 

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001S0577M/ref=as_li_tf_il?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001S0577M&linkCode=as2&tag=busygaltips-20"><img border="0" src="http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B001S0577M&Format=_SL110_&ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=busygaltips-20" ></a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=busygaltips-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B001S0577M" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
Click on the image above to purchase Spot Relief from Amazon

My esthetician is in an Aveda salon, Vicara, and she suggested I try Outer Peace Acne Spot Relief and gave me a little sample to take home.

Let me tell you...I think I should write to the little miracle workers over at Aveda and tell them that their Outer Peace Acne Spot Relief should be renamed "Magical Acne Disappearing Potion" (or something more clever than that, but you get my drift).

This. Stuff. Is. Ahhh-maaazing! 

I put it on a spot before bed, and the next morning there was a visible difference in size (smaller) and color (less red). And within a couple of days of putting this stuff on morning and night, acne disappears! It's like magic in a little squeeze tube!

I'm about as frugal cheap as they get when it comes to buying things, but this stuff was SO amazing when I sampled it, that I hardly balked at the $30 price tag (okay, who are we kidding, I definitely did, but I DO think that this product is a worthy investment). 

If acne is a problem for you, check this stuff out, I highly recommend it!


BusyGalTips Favorite Veggie Recipes

These are some veggie recipe faves that I make often. The quinoa recipes are great to make in large batches and eat throughout the week for lunch at work! Many of these recipes are from cooktj.com, my favorite recipe web sites! The others I discovered through Pinterest.  Bon appetit! ;)

California sandwich

Lemon orzo salad with asparagus & tomatoes:

Quinoa salad with roasted beets & baby spinach:

Addictive vegetarian tacos

Grilled veggie sandwich with lemon garlic sauce (really fast and easy!):

Quinoa salad with apples, walnuts, cranberries, & Gouda:

Tamale bake:

Sweet potato chili (I make this in the Crockpot overnight):

Indian spinach pizza (fast!):

Thai yellow curry vegetables:

Soy chorizo vegetarian chili:

Avocado and Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette (save yourself time: trader Joe's sells frozen grilled corn):

Have any healthy veggie recipes you love? I'd love to hear them!

{Image courtesy: zoskinhealth.com}


5-Piece Folding Table

What? On top of everything else in your busy schedule, you're hosting a party...maybe even...Thanksgiving? Oh, and you have a small table that won't accommodate all of your guests? Well you and I have a lot in common!

Have no fear...I've found a STEAL! [Mind you, this will probably be the only time I will ever write a post about Wal-Mart...fundamentally, I dislike the company and try my best to never support their business. Why, may you ask? Read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich]. And after I make that statement, I'm going to go ahead and say that I supported their business...I know, I know...

Anyway, back to the steal I found...
Recently, I needed space for a dinner party of 10 and my table only fits 6. I didn't want to spend a ton of money, but I also didn't want my guests sitting around our coffee table and dinner table and standing at our counter around the kitchen eating. A quick Google search for 'folding table,' and I discovered the Mainstays 5 Piece Card Table and Chair Set from Wal-Mart. 
Image courtesy of Wal-Mart

And the kicker? This thing only costs $57...for 5 pieces of folding furniture!! I thought it would probably break instantly with how cheap it was, but I thought it would be worth a try. To my pleasant surprise, it made it through the whole dinner party in one piece (well five pieces, but you know what I mean...) and actually seems pretty sturdy!

Like I said, I would encourage you to support other businesses rather than Wal-Mart, but if you're in a pinch, this table will do the trick and won't break the bank.


Brita Water Bottle

I made a recent discovery, thanks to Rebecca Woolf over at Girl's Gone Child: Brita makes a water bottle with a filter right inside of it!!! 
Image courtesy of Target

This makes me incredibly excited, because a school-based therapist, I am at a different school almost every day. I bring a water bottle with me, but it only holds about 20 ounces of water. There are no community water resources available in schools besides drinking fountains and sinks (both of which have disgusting-tasting water), or vending machines. So...I end up drinking only about 1 bottle of water during the day, or I end up buying a bottle of water at some point during the day. This is costly and so not "green." 

Enter the Brita water bottle, with a filter right inside of it! It's only $10 at Target, and refill filters are about $9 for 2. According to Brita, each filter lasts about 2 months.

I bought one and tried it out for the first time today...fresh-tasting water!!! Ahhhhh...refreshing!!!



As you may be able to tell from my last painting post, we have been making some minor changes that make a big impact in Casa de Collins (photos to come if I get around to it ;) ). 

Many of my ideas and inspiration have come from a wonderful (and addicting) web site called  Pinterest. 

Don't know what Pinterest is? You should! It's fantastic!
Image courtesy here
What is Pinterest? "Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests." 

-from Pinterest's help section

The great thing is that whatever images you pin will link you directly back to the web site source, so you can access any needed information or instructions that go with the image. 

Pinterest has been helpful to this busygal in the following ways:

Home decor inspiration
Good ideas for space saving and organizing
New recipes to try
Party planning
Techniques to use as a therapist (crafts, etc)
Gift ideas for staff at the schools I work at
Fashion inspiration
Parenting ideas for the future
Hairstyle ideas
It's FUN!

From my days as a substance abuse counselor..."Hi, my name is Carly, and I'm a Pinterest addict." 

There, I said it :)

Here is a link to the inspiration board for our bedroom redecoration

You can see how this site has been helping me as a therapist by checking out my other blog, Therapeutic Interventions.

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? What do you think? I'd love to hear how it has made your life as a busygal a bit easier!


Paint Your Walls Like A Pro! FrogTape Review

This past weekend, my (patient, awesome, and selfless) hubby and I painted an accent wall in our room, changing it from red to blue. Now I don't know how much experience you have with painting, but we've done our fair share in the Collins household (mostly thanks to my need to constantly change things up...sorry hubby). 

Anyway, we made a couple of really great discoveries that will save you time and errors the next time you paint.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com
The first one I'll tell you about today is FrogTape

FrogTape works better than Blue Tape, and here's why:  
"FrogTape® is the only painter’s tape treated with PaintBlock® Technology. PaintBlock is a super-absorbent polymer which reacts with latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed." (From FrogTape's web site)

It worked wonders on our painting job, and kept the mistakes of paint getting where we didn't want it to get to a minimum. 

We also learned a very valuable lesson from FrogTape's web site, which is to take the tape off while the paint is still wet, rather than letting the paint dry and then peeling off the tape. I'm sure you've been in the same boat as us: you let the paint dry, take the tape off, and what comes off with it? Inevitably some of the paint you intended to stay on the wall! Ugh!!! Not so if you take the tape off while the paint is still wet!! Genius!

The one bummer about this? If you're doing more than one coat, you have to tape twice, which is definitely more time-consuming (and annoying), but it cuts down the time overall of having to do touch-up painting on all the parts you didn't mean to paint that went through other tapes you might have tried. 

The next time you have a painting project, check out FrogTape!

*This post is written from my own experience and opinion of this tape. Your experience might be different. I take no responsibility if the tape doesn't work as great for you.


Icy-Cool Reusable Ice Cubes

I know...it's been forever!! 

In true Busygal fashion, I've been busy, busy, busy with work and life! 

I wanted to share with you this great discovery I made at Cost Plus/World Market. Reusable Ice Cubes from Icy-Cools! I don't know if they're still at World Market, I haven't looked lately, but you can order them straight from Icy-Cools (see link above), or you can order them here through Amazon, and they're a little bit cheaper.
Image courtesy of Amazon.com
As a school-based therapist, I continue to provide therapy services to our clients during the summer, which means I've had a summer full of parks and home visits. As a result, my lunch has to stay cold in my hot car. We've also had a lot of beach trips, road trips, parties, etc this summer in which we've needed to keep food cold. These reusable ice cubes have been great!

First, and most importantly, they keep my food cold! But the other thing I love about them is that they leave more room for food in my insulated lunch bag. Most ice packs are so big, they take up so much space! The reusable ice cubes are helpful because I can put all my food in first, then dump the ice cubes in and they surround all my food, keeping it nice and cold! One more great thing about them: the container they come in can be re-used to store them in your freezer!


Busygals in the Kitchen: On the Menu This Week at BGT...

I thought I would share with y'all a typical week's menu in the BGT kitchen. 

You may remember some inspiration I received from Clare. True to my word, I have been planning out menus from Cooking With Trader Joe's incredible web site since January, and the benefits have been multi-faceted: we've been saving TONS of money, I've totally improved my cooking skills, we eat healthier, and we eat home-cooked meals that are filled with many organic veggies and fruits.

Here's a sample from this week (by the way, all the ingredients shown in this photo were $67. That's 5 meals-worth of food for two people, plus fruit and drinks, and 2 pre-made salad lunches, plus plenty of leftovers! I did have some of the ingredients already for the recipes below, which is why they're not in the photo. This is drastically less money than we used to spend on food when we were going out to meals pretty much 7 days per week).

Image courtesy of Busygaltips

Here's what's on the menu this week, taken straight from my grocery list at Cooking With Trader Joe's:
Image courtesy of cooktj.com

    • 1 (24-oz) bag Baby Red Potatoes (about 9-10 potatoes)
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 2 cubes frozen Crushed Garlic, or 2 cloves garlic, minced.
    • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
    • 2 (18 oz) tubes cooked polenta, sliced into 1/3" rounds
    • 1 pkg Soy Chorizo, removed from encasing, or substitute 1 lb meat cooked in Taco Seasoning
    • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
    • 3 zucchini squash, sliced
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
    • 1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
    • 1/4 cup cilantro
    • Sour cream as garnish (optional)
    • I'm adding sliced Crimini Mushrooms to this recipe
    • This recipe is a favorite in our house!
    • 2 pieces of frozen Tandoori Naan, plain
    • 3-4 Tbsp Masala Simmer Sauce or other curry sauce
    • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze the water out with your hands)
    • 2 Tbsp fresh Ricotta
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • I've never made this...we'll see how it is!
    • 1/2 (16-oz) box No Boil Lasagna Noodles
    • 2 jars Tomato Basil Marinara (26 oz each)
    • 1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (optional)
    • 1 bag frozen Misto all Griglia (grilled eggplant & zucchini), thawed
    • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
    • 1 (15-oz) container Fresh Ricotta or Fat Free Ricotta
    • 1 (16-oz) bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan or grated Pecorino Romano
    • Basil or Italian parsley for garnish (optional)
    • I'm adding sliced Crimini Mushrooms to this recipe
    • 1 bag (16 oz) fusilli pasta (I used Brown Rice Pasta for this one)
    • 1 7-oz container of refrigerated Genova Pesto
    • 1/2 bag of baby spinach (3 oz)
    • 1 16-oz container heirloom cherry tomato mix
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
    • 1 container Ciliegine (fresh mozzarella balls), drained
    • Blarg...I forgot the fusili pasta!!! Someone want to pick some up for me? ;)

    So there you have it...a typical weekly menu in the BGT kitchen. If you haven't been using cooktj.com, or the menu planning idea, I highly recommend it! It's a time and money saver in our house!!!