The Easiest (Reusable!) Packing List

I think there are several different opinions on the worst part about traveling. Some say it's packing, others say flying, or jet lag, or unpacking. Personally, I think the worst part (and my greatest fear) is forgetting something I needed. I have dreams, even when I'm not traveling, that I forgot to pack and therefore have to grab everything at the last minute. Also because in my dream I apparently "forgot" I had a trip too! Even if this were to happen someday, somehow, I'd be prepared. I have a packing hack that surpasses alllll the packing hacks. And the best part is that all you'll need is your iPhone or iPad. It's totally free, and really easy to use.

Never forget anything again! I have a packing hack that surpasses alllll the packing hacks. And the best part is that all you'll need is your iPhone or iPad. It's totally free, and really easy to use. Click to read more, along with some bonus features! #packinglist #travelhacks #packinglistfortravel

All you need to do is go to the Apple pre-downloaded Reminders app. It comes standard on all iPhones and you’ve probably even used it before for something like a grocery list!

The first thing you want to do is open up your reminders app, press the (+) sign and create a new list. You can call it Packing List for now, or label it after the destination you are going to. Then, you're going to want to start typing out all the things you need to bring with you. I think the best way to do this is to use a laptop or other device to see a generic packing list online, and adapt it to your own items. Keep adding items, one at a time, until you have a completed list. Then, as you're packing, click each item to "check” it off your list.

Oh but wait. That's not all! This hack gets even better, because this list is reusable. Next time you are traveling, you can rename the list, click "show completed" and uncheck the items that you need to bring with you. You'll leave all the other stuff on there, but it'll be checked off so it doesn't show on your packing list. You can use this over and over, and you'll never have to worry about forgetting anything again! Plus, as long as you have your phone on you, you have your list. This makes it really easy to add things on the go!

Other features

If you want to be a little bit fancier, you can use one of these features as well.

1. Share with a friend/spouse. If you're traveling with a friend/spouse, chances are that they need the same items you do! So, create a list with all the items you both need and share the list so that they can be as organized as you are. This is perfect for avoiding double the items, so you can add things like a selfie stick, sunscreen, toothpaste, or even a portable speaker! Since the list is shared, this won’t be ideal for packing clothes because when they check the items off, your list will be checked too. But, this feature is great for a family because you can add all your kids’ items and know what exactly has been packed already!

2. Set a reminder for a location. This is perfect in case you need to get something from a certain store, pick up something a friend borrowed, or grab items from your storage unit. Or, you can set a reminder at the airport to grab a bottle of water, a magazine, or a snack.

3. Set a due date. You can set a deadline for the items that you don't use often, the ones you need to pack at the last second, and everything in between.

4. Add a priority. If you're an overpacker like me, this feature is great for prioritizing what needs to come, what you want to bring, and what to include only if you have room.

5. Add notes. You can use this section to list out the individual items (i.e., pink swimsuit, blue swimsuit, black one-piece). It's also handy for listing out a quantity (i.e., 6 pairs of undies) or a location (from garage).

Here’s a handy dandy video showing off the features! It doesn’t have sound, but you can see how I navigate around the app to get to the features and settings I mentioned above.

So what do you think? Will you be using this app for future trips? Do you know a better way? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Tips to Speed Up Your Photography Process

Does this sound familiar? You have an idea for a photoshoot. You spend a day thinking about it, another day gathering supplies, and then another full day trying to find out where to set it up and take the photos. You try here, there, and everwhere, but in the end the photos are only mehhh. And, it took FOREVER. Maybe you don't even use the photos you took in the end! We all know that taking your time to create an amazing photo can really fun and rewarding. But sometimes, you just need a quick photo of a project, a product, or a process. What’s the best way to speed up the photography process, especially when you have lots of photos to take? Creating a routine, and sticking to it. These 5 tips will help you take quick and easy photos in no time!

What’s the best way to speed up the photography process, especially when you have lots of photos to take? Creating a routine, and sticking to it. These 5 tips will help you take quick and easy photos in no time!

1. Be predictable.

Create a photo “template” aka the usual way you take photos. For me, that means an overhead shot with a piece of wrapping paper angled sideways. This can be pretty boring, so why am I suggesting it? First, it allows you to take photos without wondering how exactly to set them up. And second, it creates brand identity and makes you easily recognizable. There are PLENTY of opportunities to be creative. But sometimes you just gotta get things done without reinventing the wheel each time. 

2. Create an editing workflow.

Once you’ve perfected your photo template, you've gotta perfect your editing workflow. Create a process where you can batch edit your photos and speed through them. This will also create brand identity since all your photos will have a similar look. Your website or shop will seem cohesive and will help people build trust in you. 

3. Keep all supplies together.

Whether it’s all in one box, one room, or one closet, having all your items in the same place will help drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for you to set up your photos. You’ll be able to grab everything you need in one go. Try your hardest to avoid the “whoops my extension cord is downstairs and my camera is in the car” dance. Why? Because any time spent running around is time you can get distracted by something else. And believe me, chances are you will!

4. Plan ahead.

Some factors are better for photography than others. The weather, time of day, and even the season can all have an effect on your photography. So, plan ahead! Check the weather app to see which days will be sunny (or partly sunny) and try to take your photos then. Add the photoshoot to your calendar, so you don't miss the best weather OR the best time of day. And, be sure to gather all your supplies before the day of the shoot and have them ready to go. It's way better to go shopping for props on a rainy Wednesday than on a sunny Saturday when you were hoping to take your pics!

5. Batch photos.

While everything is set up and ready, do ALL the photos you need to take. If you’re doing different poses or angles (like flatlays and model shots) batch those too! All the flatlays at once, all the model shots at once. Any time you can avoid moving lights, backdrops, etc. around is time saved. In the editing process you can batch your photos together if you need to (like by keyword, or into folders) otherwise once you name them they’ll magically group together! 

Taking your own photos doesn't have to take tons of time. With a bit of planning, you can speed up the process and take even better photos than you imagined!

If you're looking to improve your photos, I've created a FREE photography e-course to help you do just that! Be sure to sign up by clicking the photo below!

Is HelloFresh Worth it?

Truth time- I hate cooking. I'm a creative gal, so I know I should love it. But, cooking is not really crafting and I seriously hate doing it. I've recently started crock pot cooking, which is awesome because you dump everything in a pot and let it sit for 8 hours and it comes out delicious. But, that doesn't really work when you're at work all day. I'm a lucky lady and my husband cooks for us pretty much everyday, but I wanted to try to cook too. I mean, I'm planning to have kids someday and they have to eat, right?

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Through a friend, I got a free trial of HelloFresh and I decided to give it a go. HelloFresh is a meal delivery service, where they send over the ingredients and instructions and you get to cook it. Before I dive into my thoughts, here's a few fun facts about me:

1. I hate cooking. It's confusing, boring, and doesn't taste as good as I expect it to.
2. Cooking takes way too long. Time spent cooking is time I'd rather spend on anything else. Ordering in takes about 10 minutes with zero cleanup.
3. I hate measuring and trying to manage 18 things all at once and not burn them.

Any of these sound like you? Please tell me I'm not alone here! Haha. So, I'll talk about HelloFresh from my perspective as the casual cook. 

Packaging:

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Each meal comes in its own little box, which is nice for keeping everything organized. Each box came labelled (except the chicken for some reason...) and fit nicely in the fridge. All the ingredients inside are packaged nicely and labelled as well. The meat comes outside the box, which is more of a fun fact about it than anything else.

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Monty definitely wanted to try some food!

Selection:

If you choose their classic plan, you get 6 meal choices. For the vegetarian and family plan, there are 3 handpicked meals but no choices. For the classic plan, they have a variety of meats and fish. to choose from. Personally, I don't really like seafood, and I don't eat beef or pork, so this really limited my options. I wish you could mix up the vegetarian and meat selections, since I don't always want meat. If you're trying to transition to being a vegetarian, I think signing up for this program would be great! You'd get a whole bunch of new and tasty recipes, so you're not just eating mac and cheese everyday. Yea... that's what I did when I tried to be a vegetarian years ago!

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Since everything is individually packaged, you can replace or omit any ingredients you don't like. For example, we got a shrimp dish and a beef one that we replaced with chicken and turkey. Also, I HATE onions, so we didn't include them in any of the recipes that called for it.

Portions:

At first glance, my fiancé said the portions seem really small. He's a big dude, and he eats a lot. He said the chicken seemed like enough just for him. However, once we made it he said that it felt like a good portion. I found that it was just enough food for the both of us without any leftovers, which was perfect for me. I'm not a big fan of leftovers!

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Time: 

I started cooking at 7:30 on the dot, although I preheated the oven while drafting up this blog post. Or at least... I thought I did. I think I turned on a 4 hr timer instead of turning it to 400 degrees. I hate cooking... Anyway, it took about one hour to cook. I did take some occasional notes snd snapped some photos, but most of that time was spent prepping or cooking. I think that an hour to cook isn't the longest time, but I was kinda hoping it would only take about 30 minutes. After 1.5 hours commuting home, I don't really want to cook for an hour too! However, I will say that having everything nicely together and not having to rummage through the cabinets to find things was great, especially since I usually find that I'm missing an ingredient I thought I had. With this, I never have to worry about that!

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So I'm not sure if this is done on purpose, but some of the items are just enough for you to have, and others have some extra. Like the pistachios, which were not chopped. Maybe this is to give you that whole "look, I'm on a cooking show! vibe, but I found it to be time consuming. I finished chopping the pistachios just in time for the oven to heat up, but by the time I got the chicken in the oven, the quinoa had just finished cooking. Not the greatest timing, since the chicken needed 20 mins to cook. 

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Look ma, no hands [were harmed while chopping the pistachios].

Pricing:

Depending on which plan you choose, Hello Fresh is $8.74-$9.99 per person, per meal. If the price is too steep, you have the option to switch to a monthly or bi-weekly delivery. At $10/person, I found that the cost was almost the same as ordering in. While it's definitely healthier than ordering in, it still requires me to cook, which I don't really enjoy. My main reason for not ordering in is the cost, so ordering from here doesn't really help that. However, compared to similar services, HelloFresh is a good deal. It's in the median price range and the food is good quality.

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Final Thoughts- Is HelloFresh worth it?

I think this depends. If you're looking for a huge selection to choose from, are a very picky eater (like me) or trying to stay within a budget, then HelloFresh might not be for you.

If you're trying to start cooking, transitioning to being a vegetarian, and not very picky, then YES! HelloFresh is definitely for you. I also think if you don't have the time or desire to go to the supermarket, but still want to cook, this is definitely a great service. If you're trying to stop ordering in so much but need something to break the habit, I think it's a great start!

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The long and short of it?

YES- busy professionals, new vegetarians, those learning to cook, non-picky eaters, those trying to explore new recipes

MAYBE NOT- those on a budget, extremely picky eaters,