Breast Cancer Awareness: Pink Lotus Foundation & Erin Condren

Sam-headshot-1-copy1 Beloved EC employee and breast cancer survivor Sam Kuhr took part in the Malibu Triathlon as a member of team TBG,  a group of survivors, family members and supporters,  lead by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Tiffany Grunwald, and included Dr. Kristi Funk of the Pink Lotus Foundation. To honor her courage & support this wonderful foundation, Erin Condren is proudly donating 50% of all proceeds of our signature lotus design sold in October. Read more of Sam’s triathlon tale and how you can show your support, too!

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So… I have just competed in the 2016 Malibu Triathlon. I was asked to be part of a relay team by my fantastic reconstructive surgeon, who has sponsored Team TBG for the past 6 years.  Each year her office has dedicating this event to the strong women that their practice has been privileged to care for – all breast cancer survivors. These survivors inspire others with their courage, perseverance, and ability to remain positive as their bodies heal. (Yes, my doctors are angels sent from heaven!)  As I cycled through the rolling hills of Malibu for 25 miles last Sunday, I had plenty of time to reflect on the past 16 months.  I couldn’t help but think about how competing in the triathlon was an analogy for my cancer diagnosis and treatment.   Let me share why.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first couple of weeks were filled with anxiety, fear of the unknown, and apprehension.  Similarly, when I agreed to be the bike “leg” of our relay team, and was standing waiting for my swimmer to arrive and pass over the electronic chip that measured our time, I was filled with that same anxiety and fear of the unknown.  In fact, when I told my husband that I was biking in the triathlon, his response was, “really?… but you’re not a biker!” You see I’m not… in fact I didn’t even have a bike growing up as a child, but I was assigned this leg of the relay, and rather than try to switch to be a runner where I’d be most comfortable, I just decided to dig deep and figure out how to do it.

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Finally my swimmer finished the mile swim and passed over the chip.  I had my helmet on and was ready to race.  My heart was pumping and, as this was my first triathlon, I didn’t know what to expect. For some reason I was able to put all my anxiety behind me and just start pedaling through the sea of bikers and make my way to the beautiful course along the Pacific.  It was almost instinctual.  It was that same feeling I had when I finalized my treatment plan to attack my cancer. I had chosen my amazing team of doctors after rounds of questions, interviews, and research, and scheduled my double mastectomy. Both times, I didn’t know what to expect… yet I was able to just get going and instinctively move through the process.

At first, I was very hesitant to shift gears. I didn’t really want to pass people, and my stomach was swirling with the ‘what-if’s’.  What if I couldn’t finish the race?  What if I got a flat and couldn’t fix it? What if I fell and twisted my ankle? I mean how embarrassing would that be!?!  Those same feelings were racing around my head as I began preparing for my big surgery.  I had a happy smile on the outside, but inside I was apprehensive, running all of the ‘what if’ scenarios.  Are my will and living trust current?  Did I pay all of the bills?  Do the boys have enough underwear?  What if I die on the table? Do I have enough food for them to eat for a month?  Should I write letters for their wedding days in case something goes horribly wrong? What if they find something else? You wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff that popped into my head.

After the first few rolling hills, at about mile 6, I realized that this was actually not too hard. I began to settle comfortably into the ride, and I realized that I totally had this.  In fact, I began to shift gears, and suddenly it was ME saying ‘on your left’… and passing people!    Same as the first big surgery… I’m not going to lie… it was a monster… but after the first few days, and I began to settle into my new normal, I also realized that I totally had this.  My boys were fine, my friends were bringing food every day, and I was starting to heal.  Yay!

There were a couple of really big hills that caused me to shift gears a little higher and were a bit of a challenge, but again… I knew that I had this and I was cruising along the course. Before I knew it, I was at the halfway point and turning the hairpin bend to ride home. I had that same feeling after my third surgery.  I totally had this, I was recovering as quickly as I could each time, our family was in this bizarre cancer rhythm now, and I had my eye on the finish line.

The last 5 miles were challenging with lots of hills, but I realized that I was overtaking a LOT of people… even those spandex wearing, fierce looking, seasoned cyclists riding funny looking aerodynamic bikes.   My inside voice was saying, “On your left beefcake… let this Warrior Goddess through to pedal off into the sunset… watch and learn!”  And when I reached the finish line, I felt so strong, proud, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment.  Similarly when I was entering my fifth and final surgery of 2015, instead of feeling weak and frail, I felt stronger than ever.  I knew what to expect and what I needed to do to reach the finish line.  And I could almost taste it.

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My experience with Team TBG was incredible, emotional, and life-changing.  We had all been through so much physically and emotionally in the doctor’s office and on the racecourse, and the gratitude and connection we all felt was overwhelming. We shared this incredible energy and experience to raise awareness and funds for three breast cancer foundations. Our 23 teams of cancer survivors, family members, and my incredible doctors, Dr. Kristi Funk and Dr. Tiffany Grunwald all crushed it together!

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Erin Condren has always supported breast cancer awareness.  She is proud to support the Pink Lotus Foundation, and is donating 50% of the purchase price of a Pink Lotus collection item in our signature designs back to the Pink Lotus Foundation.

XOXO

Samantha Kuhr

 

BLOGGER TAKEOVER: Teacher of the Year Becca Foxwell!

Becca-Foxwell-Headshot-205x300Becca Foxwell is not only the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, she’s the blogger behind foxwellforest.com, an education-based blog chronicling the adventures of teaching in a first grade classroom.

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When I started teaching first grade seven years ago, I knew I was beginning a great adventure, but I had no idea of all that would be in store.

 

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Throughout my life I have been blessed to have teachers who invested in me, believed in my best, and helped give my dreams the wings to soar. Teachers who left Forever Fingerprints on my life and now inspire me to leave Forever Fingerprints on the hearts of my students. When it comes down to it, I think that teaching is truly all about changed lives, changing lives. True life change comes through relationships, and I am so blessed that I get to spend my days investing in and making a difference in the lives of my students. They are the best part of my job! They challenge me, inspire me, and daily cause me to be the best teacher that I can be. Each one of my students holds such a special place in my heart and the Forever Fingerprints they leave on my life have changed me as well.

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Last December, a new teaching adventure began when I was named the 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. My responsibilities take me all around the state as I have the privilege of speaking to others about the amazing profession of which I am so blessed to be a part! Starting in January 2017 I will be the Pennsylvania representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition and will be traveling around the country for different engagements throughout the year.

My Erin Condren LifePlanner™ has been a lifesaver as I have had to balance my teaching schedule, my traveling schedule for Teacher of the Year events, and my personal schedule. Even though I love technology, when it comes to organizing my life I need to be able to see and physically touch my calendar. When I was named Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year I knew I was going to need an effective tool that would help me streamline everything so that I could still have time to focus on the important relationships and things in life. I love Erin Condren’s mantra “Let’s get it done so we can have some fun!” Time is our most precious commodity. Erin Condren’s planner is a must have tool that I use to manage my time so that I can work smarter and not harder!

While there are many life planner options, the one that I love the best is the vertical planner. It allows me to see all of the 3 main areas of my week at one glance.

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  • Top Row is for my teaching/school dates–meetings, deadlines, student birthdays, school functions, etc.
  • Middle Row is for my personal dates–doctors appointment, date nights with my hubby (a weekly favorite!), hair cuts (yes please! Does anyone else besides me just love getting your hair cut?) church activities, time with friends and family, etc.
  • Bottom Row is for my teacher of the year responsibilities–speaking engagements, phone calls, newsletter/blog deadlines, etc.

The awesome thing is that you can make your LifePlanner™ fit your needs! Some ideas on how to use the 3 rows in the vertical planner are:

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  • Bottom Row: Meals for the Week
  • Middle Row: Home Schedule
  • Top Row: Work Schedule
  • Top Row: Morning Schedule
  • Middle Row: Afternoon Schedule
  • Bottom Row: Evening Schedule
  • Top Row: Work Schedule
  • Middle Row: Kids/Sports Schedule
  • Bottom Row: Exercise Schedule

Truly the possibilities are endless!

I also LOVE that you can personalize your planner and change the covers of your planners. While I loved my “and so the adventure begins” planner cover last year, this year I decided to put my theme for Teacher of the Year “Leaving Forever Fingerprints” on the cover. I can’t tell you how much I love how it turned out! Isn’t it pretty?!

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All of the accessories and options that Erin Condren has to accompany our planners are so beautiful and inspiring!

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As a teacher I adore the colorful pens, stickers, and dashboards!

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Thank you Erin Condren for designing such organized and practical, yet beautiful and inspirational planners! I’d be lost without mine! Click here for $10 off your first purchase!

Dare to flair with NEW metallic pins!

When I walked into my kids’ high school registration, I felt like I’d stepped back in time to the 80’s with all the buttons and fashion pins! The fabulous flair pins I used to decorate my denim jacket in high school have made a HUGE COMEBACK, we had so much fun recreating the look in our signature style. Available in multiple metallics and two super-cute designs, adding flair to your favorite bag or jacket will earn you serious style points! (Pun intended).

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#Pinning Pockets Long hair can sometimes conceal your pins, so as an alternative, you may want to let them live on your lapel. Front and center, these beauties make a serious statement!

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Collar Candy Turn up the toughness by adding a little flair to your collar! Just a few pins placed around your neckline turn a normal jacket into edgy outerwear.

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Bag Bling Jazz up a backpack, tote bag, or carry-all clutch by adding a few strategically placed pins! Arrange them in an order for a patterned, put-together effect. or stick them at random for a funky, fresh look.

 

BLOGGER TAKEOVER: Nail Art with Nail Allie, Nina Nailed It & Wondrously Polished

I have always been a sucker for a flashy mani, but as of lately I am TOTALLY digging the EC Nail Art trend. It all began when I asked my local nail salon to imitate some of my fave cover designs and I was stunned by their ability to recreate these patterns so closely, and on such a small scale! I began lusting over a few artists on Instagram who have done amazing work and I knew we had to find a way to collaborate. After sending them each a LifePlanner™ Stylized Organizer (to keep their busy lives and mani pedis in check!) they each recreated their own favorite designs and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the final product. These three girls are some of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen and while they have all found inspiration in our designs, the inspiration truly is all around us! I hope their work amazes you as much as it has me, and inspires you to design your next mani around your favorite design… Stay tuned as might just have some nail news coming your way soon!

1. Lindsey @WondrouslyPolished

Hello, all! My name is Lindsey and I run and create over on a little nail art blog called Wondrously Polished. I work full time as a civil engineer, then come home and spend my evenings dreaming up new nail art designs and doing my best to stay fit and healthy. While I have always been a stationary and planner lover (I recall a pretty sweet Lisa Frank planner growing up!), it wasn’t until the last few years that I really got into utilizing a paper planner again. A friend of mine shared a photo of her beautiful new Erin Condren LifePlanner™ and I knew immediately that I had to have one for myself.

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Up until getting my first LP, I had been trying to get by with writing notes, to dos, and random appointments on scraps of paper and just hoping I would remember where I put THAT specific scrap of paper! Not entirely efficient, and with big blogging, fitness, and life goals in mind, I needed something that could keep up with me. 

My first LP was this awesome photo floral cover and I LOVED it. As an artist (albeit in an odd medium), I am always on the lookout for new ways to find inspiration. My favorite thing to paint is fun prints and patterns and I think we all know that the EC covers are all about that! To celebrate this year’s LifePlanner™ and all the beautiful new covers, I figured I’d draw inspiration from the new cover I chose, Blossom. 

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And since I can’t control myself, I figured I’d do another look inspired by the new cactus print because, well, it’s fabulous.

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While both of these designs are a bit more advanced, if you want to give them a go yourself, you’ll need a base polish (like the black or pink shade I’ve used), some craft acrylic paint (or nail polish), and a detailing brush. You can also use a matte top coat like I have to really make the details stand out. 

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Follow me on social media or my blog for more! Or @wondrouslypolished on Instagram and Facebook.

2. Nina @NinaNailedIt

Hi, my name is Nina! While I’m a full-time nail artist, I’m also a full-time 11th grade English teacher and a total stationery nerd. My LifePlanner™ is the perfect representation of me, right down to the Instagram handle, @NinaNailedIt.

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It was so easy to be inspired by my planner because of the lovely color palette and geometric design. It’s the perfect back to school manicure and planner just in time to impress my students and keep me organized!

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3. Nail Allie – @NailAllie

When I first spotted the floral watercolor planner cover option for the LifePlanner™, I just knew that it was the one for me! It combines my love of flowers and watercolor art and I felt that it would look great all year round. Not only does this design look wonderful as a planner cover, but it also works well as a nail design!

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To recreate the watercolor floral pattern on my nails, I began by applying two coats of a white polish. Then, I gathered a few pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, and blue polishes for the watercolor flowers. To mimic the watercolor effect, I first put a small amount of polish on a piece of aluminum foil and mixed each color with acetone. This helped to thin out each of the polishes which made them less opaque. When painting on the thinner gray lines of the more detailed flowers, I decided to use acrylic paint instead of nail polish. This is because acrylic paint tends to dry a bit slower than nail polish, which allowed me more time to paint the smaller details of each flower.

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I finished the design by applying a matte top coat. I just loved carrying around my planner while sporting my matching nails!

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Fri-DIY: Sticker Book Cake Toppers

When it comes to DIY projects, one fact seems to always hold true: the cutest crafts are usually the simplest! Even if you aren’t the world’s best baker, these custom cake toppers will bring a heartwarming, homemade touch to even the most basic of boxed brownies. The best part? They are stunningly simple to make – and the options are almost endless!

What You’ll Need:

– Assorted wooden sticks (we used toothpicks, craft sticks, and dowels)

– Your choice of sticker books

– String for sticker banner (optional)

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Depending on your party theme or the occasion, we’ve got a TON of sticker books with the sweetest stickers to choose from! Whichever you choose, you will need duplicate stickers to wrap both sides of your wooden sticks, so keep that in mind. Most of our books come with duplicate stickers or at least duplicate shapes for easy attachment.

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Next, simply peel your sticker, attach it to one side of your stick (we used toothpicks for cupcakes and dowels for the cake) and carefully adhere the duplicate sticker to the back, securing the stick in place. Voila!

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To take your cake decorating to the next level, you can even try fastening a banner using two sticks and a piece of string! Simply decide on your banner length, tie a section of string to two sticks, and attach the “flags” in the same manner you used to attach the stickers to your sticks. For this girly themed celebration, we used our designer sticker book edition 2 with metallic accents for the flags, and our monthly sticker book butterflies and flowers for extra decorations. Pretty genius, right?

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No time for baking in your busy schedule? We won’t spill your secret! Grab some cupcakes from your local grocery and spell out something sweet with letters from our Cool for School sticker book.

Stickers are a steal right now! Shop any LifePlanner™ or Teacher’s Lesson Planner, get a free classic sticker book on us.