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 Save Money - 99¢ Only Store

I am a HUGE fan of 99¢ Only stores, as I probably have mentioned in the past...I mean, what's not to love?! They have fantastic deals, wonderful products, and many convenient locations. One of my favorite reasons to head to 99¢ Only stores is for their seasonal decor products...they have such FUN and cute products, and it's always amazing to me that everything is only 99¢!

As you all know, I recently was hired as a school-based therapist at an elementary school. As soon as I found out I got the job, my mind immediately turned to the 99¢ Only store for supplies. In my new position, I am working on a daily basis with children ages 5 to 11, along with their families. 

I walked into the 99¢ Only store the other day to purchase pencils and stickers for the students I am working with. I was of course delighted to see a whole aisle dedicated to Valentine's Day decor...so I had to go take a peek! I browsed through the aisle, and then was elated when I realized that I would be around tons of little kids during Valentine's Day! Do you remember Valentine's Day in elementary school? Passing out Valentines to your friends...getting to eat way too much candy at school...wearing red or pink...I have many fond memories of that day. 

Anyway, I found TONS of perfect items for my new role as the therapist at this school.
For Valentine's Day, I got: 

A few packs of adorable Dora the Explorer lollipop Valentines
(1 pack includes of 22 Valentines for only 99¢!)
A bucket to hold all of the Valentines I'll be passing out to the kiddos
A very cute Happy Valentine's Day banner to hang on the wall
Two different sets of window clings (which I will be able to use well after Valentine's Day - so CUTE!) - I bought these before I got my office , and now know I have NO windows in my office...haha! Oh well, they'll still go to good use somehow...I'm creative. 

And for general work with the students, I got:
An 18-pack of pencils
A 64-pack of crayons (64 crayons for 99¢?! Incredible!) Note: there are not 64 different colors, there are multiples of some colors and not enough of others, but if you throw them all in a bin, kids will never know the difference :)
A colorful 2011 calendar

And can you believe it...I got ALL of this for ONLY $10!!!!

For those of you who work with students, I would highly recommend checking out the 99¢ Only store. I know that teachers and others in education often have to pay for their own supplies out of pocket. The 99¢ Only store has so many great products for school, and your wallet will be happy too!

The 99¢ Only Store...the answer to any smart Busygal who wants to find great products for an incredible steal!


BusyGals in the Kitchen: Quick Tips

Thanks to RealSimpleFood on Twitter, here's a couple of quick and easy tricks to make your life easier in the kitchen:

Use a lemon to lift stains from cutting boards. Rub on the board, juice sit for 20 mins, then rinse. 

Thaw fish in a broad shallow bowl of milk in the fridge for 24 hours to reduce frost-bitten taste.  



Busygals in the Kitchen - Cooking With Trader Joe's

My husband and I have recently been assessing why we aren't saving money every month, when we clearly should be. Upon a quick look at our credit card statements, the answer is clear: We go out to meals ALL the time. A HUGE cost. The new plan? Start cooking at home. Simple, right? Ha!

I'm a Busygal by nature, and my husband is no different (he should have a blog called BusyGuyTips or something ;) ). He has a very busy and long day at work, and many of his lunch meals are also eaten at restaurants. We often find it easier to spend quality time in the the few hours we do have together in the evenings dining together, and not worrying about prepping/cooking/cleaning (I know...it's ridiculous...we're spoiled). However, our bank account doesn't like it so much. 

Since we want to save money, the new plan is to try to make as many meals at home for dinner and to make as many meals to take to work as well.

I have been on a tireless search for the perfect and most simple way to plan meals. Today I found it through a tweet from cookingwithTJ: " Trader Joe's Recipes Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Lemon Garlic Sauce, delicious & quick to make using  Misto Alla Griglia."

This recipe sounded amazing, I was intrigued...I had to try it out for myself! I went straight to TJ's, and bought all of the ingredients, which totaled only $10 for 4 servings. I am no chef, but this thing was so dang quick and easy to make (5 minutes total), and the resulting sandwich tasted like a restaurant-quality meal (this sandwich would be at least $10-$15 in a restaurant we would usually frequent). It was DELICIOUS! And affordable!!! I was hooked.

When I got home, I checked their facebook fan page (which you can find here). With fingers crossed, I hoped I might find a link to a blog or web site with a few more recipes I could try out. I was MORE than pleasantly surprised to find not only the web site (which you can find here), but also HUNDREDS of amazing recipes!

Wait...I'm not even at the good part yet!!

The authors of cooktj.com (and also The Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook: Dinner's Done!, The Trader Joe's Companion: A Portable Cookbook, and Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's) Deana Gunn & Wona Miniati offer some fantastic features on their web site. 

*First, there's easy-to-use tabs on the left in which you can view recipes by Category, Special Diet, or Main Ingredient. I'm vegetarian, so I found that tab incredibly helpful.

*Second, you can create your own profile on the web site. Why is this so cool? Because when you view any recipe and you like it, you can simply click on either "Save" or "Add to Grocery List." It will save it straight to your profile so that when you return to the web site, your favorites are right there waiting for you! 
The reason I find this so incredibly helpful, is that because I am a Busygal, I often find myself parked in the TJ's parking lot, searching on my phone for some great recipe to make that evening. This web site will be a lifesaver

have added 66 recipes to my Grocery List. If I plan ahead a little (hey, we can all set goals, right?), I am going to look through the recipes, find some that have similar ingredients, and create a menu (a-la-Clare) for the week. This will save me time, money, and wasted/un-used groceries. 
I will simply be able to click on the web site, log into my profile, and all of the shopping lists will be right there! Sweeeeeeet! :)

If you are a lover of Trader Joe's like I am, this web site will be incredibly helpful for you!

Happy cooking, Busygals!
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Busygals, get EMPLOYED!

I don't use this blog as a personal one, but I did have to share with all of you fabulous Busygals out there that I am finally EMPLOYED!!! 

If you've read my About Me, then you know I'm incredibly passionate about helping students...and that's exactly what I get to do!!! I'll be a school-based therapist at an elementary school! Wooohoooo!!!!

While I'm on the topic, I figured I'd share a few tips I've learned through this journey for all of you Busygals who are out there job searching:

Image courtesy of mediapost.com
#1: Among many job search engine options, the one I most prefer is indeed.com. Indeed.com returned many successful job searches for me, and it's a very helpful website -  you can create personalized job alerts, a profile, and save jobs you're interested in, among other features. 
In fact, you can search for your dream job on indeed.com right now - check over on the top right page of this blog and start searching right from this page
Hey, it's a one-stop shop! It's what I do...make Busygals' lives easier... :) 
Image courtesy of http://neilschwartz.net/are-you-the-tortoise-or-the-hare/
#2: DON'T GIVE UP! We all know the saying..."Slow and steady wins the race." Eventually your hard work, if you stick with it, has to pay off...and it will! 
I've been on the hunt for the past 7 months, and it's been discouraging and frustrating, but also a time for growing. My confidence in myself and my interviewing skills has exponentially increased, and I have met a lot of wonderful people in my field and made some great professional contacts. 
Image courtesy of http://www.relenet.com/
#3: Speaking of professional contacts...network, network, network!!! Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich has some excellent tips (sidenote: EXCELLENT book that you all should buy right now. Check out his twitter here and his web site hereInvaluable information regarding money, employment, retirement, etc!). I can't find the link, so I'll just post the text from his email below and label it 3A. 
I have been emailing and staying in contact with everyone I know on a regular basis, updating them about my search, asking who they might know, and also checking in to see how they're doing (don't just be a taker, show that you care about them and what's happening in their lives too...because you do care, right? :) )
Image courtesy of hellobeautiful.com
#4: ALWAYS remember that everyone you meet in an interview is a potential job contact for the future, so remain professional in all of your interactions no matter what. It sucks getting rejected for a job you really want, believe me, I know the feeling. Keep this in mind, though...you didn't get this job? It doesn't mean they won't have others that will open up in the future that you might be better-qualified for (this is exactly what happened to me with the job I just got an offer for - I interviewed with them back in October for a bilingual position - I'm not entirely bilingual - needless to say, I didn't get the job. But when another position that I was more suited for opened up, she immediately called me!). 
Image courtesy of joyschwartz.com
#5: Going along with the last tip regarding professionalism, send an individual thank you note to each person you interviewed with. You'd be surprised how many people don't, and how pleasantly surprised people are when you do. I hand-write mine on nice, simple Thank You notes like the one pictured above. For some great tips that have helped me with wording a good thank you note, click here and here (and for you social workers out there, some great resources can be found here).
Image courtesy of network.nationalpost.com
#6: Make follow-up phone calls (unless the job description explicitly says not to call, make sure you're respectful of their wishes...plus it shows you can follow direction). Sent in your resume and haven't heard from them after a few days? Follow up! I've gotten a few interviews I never would have gotten simply because I called. With today's job market, HR staff members' desks are absolutely flooded with resumes and applications. They just can't even get to all of them. But if yours is on their desk in a pile somewhere and you call, chances are they'll dig through the pile to take a look while they have you on the phone.
You can also call right after emailing your resume and cover letter in, just to confirm they received it...it'll make them look right then.
Courtesy of iwillteachyoutoberich.com
#3A: GREAT networking tips by Ramit Sethi (seriously, check out his book and blog, you'll be happy you did!):

How to get a dream job: Using your network
You saw my recent email about how important it is to help other people using ethical networking. It has personally helped me accelerate my career years ahead.
Today, a case study on how to use specific strategies and tactics to find a new job.
Last night, I was talking to one of my friends on the phone. She's looking for a new job and she's put in an  application to a company she wants to work at. This is a big monster company where you submit a resume and never hear back (unless you know someone). Luckily, she has a friend who works there and she already asked her friend to check on her application...but hasn't heard back.
So yesterday, she asks me, "What do you think I should do? I don't want to bug my friend but I already asked her to check on the app last week."
My response:
1. Check in with your friend again. Here's an email script that works well to get action, but not make you seem rude:
Hope things are good! Hey, quick question -- I was wondering if you could check on that COMPANY-NAME application I submitted last week. I know things get crazy, so I didn't want this to fall through the cracks in your inbox...
P.S. I love Ramit Sethi's blog at iwillteachyoutoberich.com!
What do you think? Good huh?
2. Ok, so the second thing is to STOP FOCUSING ON ONLY ONE PERSON IN YOUR JOB SEARCH. In this case, my friend was waiting on her one friend to help her get the inside track for the application. Unfortunately, there are 2 problems with this: (1) This girl is fairly low-status at the company and (2) she is only one person.  It's like when I see one of my friends fixated on ONE girl at the bar. Dude. There are 8,000 other girls at this New York bar. Let's not go crazy fixating on one fish in the sea, okay.
So here is how you do it.
I asked her, "Who else do you know at Acme Corp"? She said...nobody really. I said really? Think hard. She still couldn't think of anybody. Ok, no problem.
So then I asked her this: "Who do you know WHO MIGHT KNOW somebody who works there?" Still skeptical. But then she started thinking out loud.  Now she had a couple people. And I hinted, "Do *I* know anybody there?" She said no. I said how do you know? Hell, even *I* don't know if I know someone there or not until I check my contact list. You have to broaden your net and ask ALL your contacts if they know somebody at Acme who can help you get your application accepted. And then rinse and repeat with 10 other companies.
Here is your line:
I just put an application into Acme Corp and I was wondering if you know anybody there who can help get it to the right person. Do you by chance know anybody there?
1. People LOVE helping other people get jobs
2. People LOVE helping other people get jobs if they don't have to do any work. So if they simply have to forward your email to someone they know at some company, they win (and so do you)
3. Presumably, you are really good, so your friend is happy to introduce you to their contact at the company, creating a win-win. However, if you suck just give up and go home
4. You DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. So you may not know someone directly at Acme Corp. But do your friends? Their friends? WHO KNOWS? Certainly not you until you try. 
5.Strategically using your network is the best way to get jobs that are never announced publicly. If you concentrate solely on going through the front door to get jobs, you are a sucker


Get Natural, Busygals! A Review of Tom's of Maine Deodorant

 I don't know about you, but when I step back and think about how many products I put on my body on a daily basis...shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, lotion, toothpaste, perfume, makeup, and the list goes on...and then how many chemicals are in each of these things, it honestly freaks me out a little bit. 

Now I'm no health guru by any means, but I was raised in a home where natural products, such as vitamins and plant-based products, were used and encouraged (thanks Mom!). My childhood has stuck with me, and to this day, I try to use natural products when it's convenient and not crazy-expensive.

One thing I have heard since a child is that aluminum zirconium, which is found in most deodorants, is no good for your 'pits. I did a quick google search, and it sounds like it's a hotly-debated topic as to whether or not aluminum really causes cancer, or Alzheimer's, or a myriad of other problems, but my thought is, "Hey, if you can avoid something that's even rumored to cause problems, you might as well!"

Which brings me to a product I have been searching for most of my teen and adult life for: Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting Care Deodorant Stick. I have always tried to avoid 'mainstream' deodorants. I've tried to steer toward natural ones, but I have always ultimately had to return to deodorants with aluminum, because, to my disappointment, the majority of the natural ones I've tried simply don't do their job.

I was close, but still wasn't completely resigned to the fact that I would never find a good natural deodorant. On a whim, I snatched up a Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting Care Deodorant Stick in Fresh Apricot while browsing around Target. The label made claims such as, "natural," "24 hour odor protection," "long lasting," "aluminum-free" (ding ding ding!!!). I had low expectations, to say the least, given my previous attempts with others, but I figured it was worth a try.
Image courtesy of healthdesigns.com
To my completely pleasant surprise, this sucker does the trick! It smells light and fresh, not too overpowering, and it WORKS!!! And the ingredients are all-natural as far as I can tell (click here for all ingredients). It is also offered in the scents of: Lavender, Lemongrass (I think I'll try this one next time!), or Unscented/Fragrance-Free.

If you're in the market for a new deodorant, prefer products with natural ingredients, or are selectively cautious about chemicals in products (like me), then I would highly recommend checking this deodorant out! I believe you can purchase it at most drug stores, Target, and possibly even grocery stores.

Stay fresh & natural, Busygals!


New Year, New Look!

I'm sure you've noticed the blog has a totally new look!

I think it looks a little bit more what I'm going for, but I'd love to hear your feedback! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Don't forget to leave your feedback below (the good...the bad...the ugly, I want it all!) :)