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!


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!!!


Toys R Us Makes Gift Buying Easy for Baby Showers & Kids

I had the honor of being invited to my friend Melissa's baby shower this past weekend. It was lovely, complete with home-made cake and cupcakes by the grandma-to-be, family heirlooms, fresh lemonade, and baby gifts galore! As someone who has yet to become a mama, I was amazed, as I always am, at how much stuff a baby needs and how clueless I am about all things baby...but that's for another post altogether I suppose... :)

Now a word about the baby shower gift-buying process and a new discovery that has made life a bajillion times easier for us Busygals out there! 
Four words: "Eligible for Store Pickup."

I don't know about you, maybe it's just my luck, but I have gone to Babies/Toys-R-Us to buy baby shower gifts multiple times, and have been completely baffled by their registry gift-buying process each time. I've printed out the registry, gone to the aisle it says the product is on, and about six times out of ten, the item is nowhere to be found. I don't think I've ever gotten out of the store with whatever items I've wanted to purchase without having to ask an associate for help with locating at least one item. Oftentimes I've had to purchase items I wasn't originally intending to purchase, just because after I've been in there for an HOUR, I want to pull my hair out and don't care what I buy any more, as long as I have a gift in hand so I can get the heck out of there! 

Maybe I'm not the only one with this experience, and maybe people have complained about their inefficient registry-buying process, because I was delighted to discover this little feature on their web site when I went to check out Melissa's registry. It saved me time and frustration.

Next time you're on their web site looking for items to purchase, look for this little baby (above). Four words that can make your life much easier...Eligible for Store Pickup!

This thing is a lifesaver! 
Here's how it works:
*Select items from the registry that are Eligible for Store Pickup (yes...this limits your options as to what you can choose to buy...but the person registered for the items and wants them, so get 'em and save yourself time! ;)  )
*Select the store at which you wish to pick the items up
*Check out (using your credit card or Paypal)
*Wait for an email to confirm your order has been filled (I got mine within a couple of hours)
*Go to the store you chose to pick up at, and your items will be waiting for you at the Customer Service desk! 

No more searching, looking for someone to help you search, wandering aimlessly around the store in frustration...Yipppeeee!!!

I used this feature to purchase Melissa's gifts and was pleased with the experience and time and effort it saved me!

Added bonus: Babies/Toys R Us has a whole section dedicated to wrapping paper, gift bags, and cards that are all entirely appropriate for a baby shower or child's birthday gift, so you'll be done with all gift-giving-related tasks in no time!

Save yourself time and searching, I know I will use this feature from now on!


Blister Prevention in a Pinch...Busygals Get Creative

Image courtesy of thebudgetfashionista.com

You may recall my previous post about the Band-Aid Blister Block stick. If you don't or you haven't read it...you should read it! ;) You can access it by clicking on the link above, or here.

Anyway...yesterday, I was wearing a pair of heels I've worn many times before with absolutely no problems. For some reason, yesterday was different, and I had left my Blister Block stick in my purse, which was in my trunk, while I was at a school doing an intake with a client and parent. The more I walked, the more painful walking was.

I was in a serious pinch here, and desperate for some kind of relief. My solution was definitely odd, and many of you will probably think I'm completely NUTS after reading the rest of this post, but I was desperate!

So, with a bit of creativity and ingenuity (and probably a few screws loose in my head), I remembered a pack of mini Post-Its I had in my work bag.
Image courtesy of http://www.jm-bruneau.be/

I know what you're thinking, but yes...I seriously put a mini Post-It on my heel. And you know what? It was INSTANT relief! While it was definitely not the ideal solution and it was for sure a little weird, it totally saved me for the rest of the day!

So, ideally, just don't forget your Blister Block stick, which is a complete lifesaver! But when you're desperate and you're in an office setting, changes are there are some Post-Its laying around ;)

Get creative, Busygals!

I'm dying to know (and also hoping to feel like I'm not the only crazy creative person out there)...what's the craziest or oddest solution you've ever arrived at when you've been desperate for a solution to a problem with few resources at your disposal?
Post a comment below!