Friday, November 30, 2012

Daily Routines... Morning

I truly believe that one of the best things we can do to create a atmosphere of peace and calm in our home is to create routines. A routine provides a methodical way to accomplish tasks in a set order so that they are done efficiently and effectively, with few things slipping through the crack. Routines are helpful in all sorts of situations, but I find that two of the most important routines that will shape your life are the Morning Routine and the Evening Routine. Today we are going to talk about the morning routine.

What do you do each morning? Do you have a set morning routine already? Chances are, parts of your morning are already systematized. Most people follow a routine to wash their hair, brush their teeth, etc. These are things we don't have to think about to get done. They just happen. When you can automate the MAJORITY of your morning, you won't face the every day frustrations of rushing your kids out the door, skipping breakfast, losing shoes, losing keys, etc. Imagine how much more peaceful life could be if you started your day out with calm purpose instead of hurried frenzy!

I know that the Morning Routine has done several things for me personally:

1. It has allowed me to fit exercise into my life where I wasn't fitting it before. With a Morning Routine, I have exercise planned into my day. If I don't exercise first thing in the morning, it won't happen once I am dressed and my day is under way.

2. It has allowed my 6 year old daughter the freedom to get herself ready for school. She KNOWS the routine. She knows to get dressed, brush her teeth and hair, eat breakfast, get her lunch out of the fridge, pack her bag, and get her shoes on for school. I don't have to harp on her to do it, because we do it in the same way every day.

3. It has kept me from forgetting my medication every day. I used to have to remember, "Did I take my pill?" and would take it at all times throughout the day, as I remembered. Now I take it as part of my morning routine and the problem is solved!

4. It has kept me from forgetting breakfast! I have the same thing for breakfast most mornings. It's part of my routine. I drink a protein shake I can grab and drink with my pill. It doesn't take long and is something I can do, even if I am running behind schedule for some reason.

I love my morning routine! Now, my routines change as my life changes, but it's not a whole new routine or habit I have to form, just a tweak here and there. For example, once summer comes we won't have the same schedule for getting Eliana out the door to school in the morning. Then we will tweak the routine to fit our at-home summer plans.

I will also mention that my Morning Routine is not something that I adhere to at the expense of living life. My family is more important than my routine. If my daughter needs me to be with her while she is getting ready for some reason, I can sit and eat breakfast with her instead of doing my hair and makeup. I can let my hair air dry and do a quick on-the-go look. If I did it every day I would start to feel frazzled and frumpy, but sometimes family trumps fashion. That's fine! My daughter and husband should know that they are more important to me than a check on my list!

That said, here is my ideal morning, otherwise known as my Morning Routine. I assigned times to the tasks to keep me on schedule, not because they happen at exactly those times each day. Again, this is an ideal.

I have also created a blank copy of this if you would like to create your own morning routine. I put this in a clear page protector and check things off as I go (if I am still building the habit of following the routine - now I just know it and do things in that order. If you'd like to create your own morning routine using this sheet, here it is...

Download the blank Morning Routine HERE.

If you find this helpful, please leave me a little comment telling me so! I always enjoy hearing how people organize their lives!! Have a wonderful day organizing your COLORFUL life!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Personalized Meal Planning... on ETSY!!

I am so excited that I got my meal planner on Etsy this morning!! Now you can have a meal planner that is personalized with your own categories and meals!! Here's the listing!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meal Planning, the EASY way!

I have been a long time meal planner. Some years I plan better than others. About 11 years ago I had a meal planning system that worked really well. It consisted of labels that I made (printed out the meals / sides we eat, cut them out, glued them to colored cardstock, cut them out again, laminated them, cut them out again, and then adhered a magnet to the back of each) that I could just stick on a fridge calendar. It worked great! Unfortunately, we moved across the country and the meal planning set got lost in the move. As you can imagine, it was too much work for me to feel like recreating, so I never did. I tried several other meal planning systems, but ultimately, that worked the best for me. I've seen some SUPER cute meal planners on pinterest, such as Robin's Menu Board,

The Ultimate Menu Board,

and even this one by

Unfortunately, they all seem to be too time consuming, complicated, or just not what I'm looking for. Everyone seems to have a "great" meal planning tool, but I just don't think like everyone, so I decided to make my own.

The thing about technology is that it has greatly simplified what I did 11 years ago! All of that cutting and gluing, etc? I had to cut just once this time. Woohoo! Sure, it took me a while to design everything, but I love it and, ultimately, you will get to benefit from it as well! So here's what I created...

I made these 3 printables, which include 12 months, 31 days, and the meals we like to eat color coded by the category/ethnicity of the food, as well as a few labels to help me plan when it is time for meal prep. First, I printed them out on magnet sheets. I got the set that had 3 to a pack at Walmart and I think it was $7 or so. I also got a cheap magnetic calendar from Walmart for around the same price. So, not counting ink, I think this project cost me $15. I cut out all the pieces (already magnetized! woohoo!) and started by putting the numbers on for next month.

(I should also mention here that these sheets are designed for use with inkjet printers, and I have a laser printer. I also accidentally fed the first sheet in upside down, which it didn't like. Thus my printing didn't go so well. And since I only had 3 sheets of magnet paper and had 3 pages to print, a redo wasn't an option today. maybe someday I'll redo it. Right now I'm okay with it, even if the printing isn't the best on some of my labels.)

Then all I had to do was decide what meals to put where! I actually don't plan a whole month at a time, but have found that I won't change a calendar like this more than once a month, so it's okay with me if I don't have it all filled in. For the purposes of the blog, though, I did think it through and have a tentative meal plan for next month, at least. Here's what it looks like fully assembled...

Sorry for the bad camera phone pictures, but you get the idea. I have little labels with snowflakes, crock pots, and grills on them, too, to remind me when I need to pull something out of the freezer, put it in the crock pot, or prepare the grill. Occasionally I will have to pull something out of the freezer to put it in the crock pot. That day gets two labels. No rocket science here!

I think my absolute FAVORITE part of this particular meal planner is that it is EASILY DUPLICATABLE! Download the pages, print them on magnetic sheets, and put them on your own magnetic calendar. I am working on a customizeable menu planner that I will put in my etsy shop for those of you who eat different meals than we do. If you want to get started with the premade freebie one, here it is!

Download pages 1,2, and 3 HERE.

How do you meal plan? Do you think about meals by their ethnic flavor or by the type of meat used? I know several people who do it by meat choice, though I don't. Do you plan out what sides you'll have as well? I'm always curious to know how people think, so leave me a comment! Also, if you download the meal planner and put it to use, I'd love to see how it works for you! Thanks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another version of the Fall Decorations Storage Label

For those of you who want greater flexibility in your labels, here's another version:

Download labels HERE.

Fall Decoration Storage

At this point in the year, the Fall decor ought to be on its way to storage as the Winter / Christmas decor makes its annual debut! As part of preparing for an organized Thanksgiving NEXT year, one of the things that will help is putting those decorations away in an organized fashion. I use Rubbermaid Roughneck Totes to store my holiday supplies in the crawl space. Once upon a time I had color coded totes... Red for Fall, Light Blue for Winter, etc. Unfortunately, Rubbermaid got the brilliant idea to change colors with the trends each season, so I had a hard time getting matching totes as my decor inventory expanded. Until this year, I remedied that by slapping a piece of masking tape on the tote and writing the season on the tape. It worked well for a while, but year after year the tape started peeling and I got so many Christmas totes that I needed more specific labels to find what I wanted. So, this year, as I'm putting away my Fall decor, I've created these labels and inventory sheet so I know what is where, and what I have.

 Download Large Label HERE.
 Download the Small Labels HERE.
Download the Inventory Sheet HERE.

What I do is tape a clear sheet protector on the lid of the tote and include the inventory sheet so I know what is in the box. I can slide it in and out to update it easily. This is especially handy as I purge items each year as I pull things out of the box. I also add things from year to year. 

I also include a copy of the inventory for each box in my Thanksgiving Planner. That way in the Fall when I pull out my Fall decor, I know what is still in which box as the season progresses. I circle the holiday/season (Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving) and label which box it's in so the system grows as my inventory grows. 

There is also space for you to write the contents of the box on the labels if you prefer that. I put a large label on the front of the tote and a smaller label on the end of the tote. That way no matter how it gets stored among the other totes, I can tell at a glance what it is. You can print the labels on adhesive paper, use a Xyron to stickify them, or use tape. Or you can use the big labels and clear page protectors. 

Now that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is upon us, you can enjoy the season knowing that next year will run smoother! Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We have been eating leftovers all week, as has most of America. Before the holidays, one of the things I did was get some leftover containers ready for what would remain of our holiday meal.

From Thanksgiving 2012
As we were cleaning up the meal, all I had to do was put the food in these containers and label the tops. The same went for everything that went home with others after the meal. A little forethought went a long way!

From Thanksgiving 2012
I used containers that came with the ingredients used for our holiday meal. Cool Whip, gravy, frozen strawberries... They all came in containers that could be washed and repurposed for leftovers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Key to an Organized Thanksgiving NEXT YEAR...

... is setting yourself up for success THIS year. Take note of what frustrations you are coming across so that they can be a positive resource to help you next year. Make notes of what you'd do differently AS you think of them. Because, trust me, you won't remember next year that THIS year you SWORE you would never do "X" again. 365 days is a long time for you to try to store information in your brain. A better solution is to put a note in your Thanksgiving Planner for next year.

You don't HAVE a Thanksgiving Planner, you say?? Well, then THIS YEAR is the perfect time to start one for next year. All you need is a binder and some page protectors. Maybe some notebook paper or printables. I'm putting mine together today for next year as I come across ideas I think would be fun to implement. You can find some pre-made Thanksgiving Planners and printables all over the internet, but for right now I am using this one I found. I'll probably make my own some year, but not this year!

So... Set yourself up for success and keep in mind what you want to do differently next year. Because a better NEXT YEAR is worth the effort THIS YEAR, and it keeps you thinking about positive change instead of getting frustrated over the shortcomings this year. =D


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Every Room has Income and Outflow

A key part of recognizing what needs to be systematized in your home is recognizing what comes into and flows out of each room. Organizing is what you do to the stationary items in a room or space. You organize a closet. Systematizing is what you do to ensure a standard procedure for the items that go into or come out of a space.

How often do you find yourself "ReOrganizing" your space? This was a CONSTANT in my home, pretty much monthly. I was always reorganizing my pantry, my closet, my office, my craft room... I would get things organized, and then a month, two months, or three months down the road I would do it all over again. Is it because it wasn't "properly" organized in the first place? No, it was because I didn't have a SYSTEM for how things went into it or how they came out.

Now, my systems aren't perfect. They are more an organic work in progress. But I have not had to reorganize my pantry since April. I haven't had to reorganize our front closet since then, either. Instead of just fitting what I had in those places so they stored nicely, I actually thought through what belongs in the pantry, what categories of foods should be stored where, and what the best way to deal with occasional overflow would be so that I didn't end up with a crazy mess again.

Over the 2013 year, one of my goals is to systematize my home. It isn't a job that can be done in a weekend, so I am choosing to break it down into 12 months - one room a month. I'm starting by deciding which rooms need to be systematized, and what goes into and comes out of those rooms. Here's what the process looks like for me...

You may find that you have different rooms you want to create systems for. You will find that some rooms (like my living room and dining room) I am not creating systems for, because I already have systems in place that are working wonderfully. I hope that you will begin thinking about what areas of your home you'd like to tackle, and then use this printable to help you along the way. 12 months is a long time to commit to progress, but some of the reasons we fail at New Years Resolutions or personal goals are that we do not track our progress and we do hold ourselves accountable for what we say we want.

So... Before we dive in on January 1st, here's your first challenge... Download the free printable, and decide which 12 areas of your home you want to tackle this year. Think about the income and outflow of each room. Jot down your thoughts and check back soon, because together we're going to create systems for each of these areas!!

If you want an idea of what I will be doing each month and want to follow along with the same areas I'm doing, here's my plan for 2013:

January - Master Bedroom (Income - Clean Laundry, Linens; Outflow - Dirty Laundry, Trash)

February - Master Bathroom (Income - Toiletries, Paper Goods, Clean Towels; Outflow - Trash, Dirty Towels)

March - Master Closet (Income - Clean Laundry, Jewelry, Handbags; Outflow - Outfits)

April - Laundry Room (Income - Dirty Laundry, Laundry Care Products; Outflow - Clean Laundry, Trash)

May - Kitchen (Income - Groceries, Dirty Dishes; Outflow - Meals, Trash)

June - My Daughter's Room (Income - Clean Laundry, Hair Things, Linens; Outflow - Dirty Laundry, Trash)

July - Guest Room (Income - Clean Linens; Outflow - Dirty Linens)

August - Guest Bathrooms (Income - Paper Goods, Handsoap, Towels; Outflow - Trash, Dirty Towels)

September - Craft Room (Income - Craft Supplies; Outflow - Gifts, Cards, Trash)

October - My Office (Income - Wholesale Products, Invoices, Office Supplies; Outflow - Customer Orders, Trash)

November - My Husband's Office / Library (Income - Camera Equipment, Warranties and Manuals, Family Documents, Books; Outflow - Camera Equipment, Seasonal Books, Trash)

December - Crawl Space (Income - Seasonal Items, Holiday Decor, Wine, Toys, Permanent Storage Memory Items; Outflow - Seasonal Items, Holiday Decor, Wine, Toys)

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what sort of things are Income / Outflow items. I'm sure I'll add to my list as we go, but this is the list I came up with today.

Happy Systematizing!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

2013 Colors

I love living a color coded life. That said, I also enjoy the vibrance of the colors set by current trends. I love that there are people out there who tell me what colors are hot and what are not right now! I found a wonderful resource in Pantone for their color predictions. Here's what they have to predict about Spring 2013 colors...

When organizing in living color this year... these are my go-to colors for 2013!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2013 is coming....

As I think about Thanksgiving preparations and Christmas preparations, I can't help but think about the fact that 2013 is coming, too! And with those thoughts come thoughts of what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year. Most years I have a word that summarizes the theme for my life that year. A few years ago it was CONSISTENCY. Then came OVERCOME. This year my word is...

I am looking forward to simplifying my life this year.

To that end, I am working on a 12 month approach to systematizing my home, and I'd like to invite people to join me! There are lots of areas in which our lives can benefit from systems, but our home is one that I feel benefits the most. When we create systems that help form habits, it makes putting things in their place out of habit easier than putting something in the "I'll do it later" pile. When it's easier to put something away than in a pile, our homes are tidier, freeing us up to do what is truly important in our lives. This is my primary goal for the year - a life in which I spend my time attending to that which is significant, while maintaining the basic provisions of my household.

Nothing worth doing is easy, so I don't think this will be a walk in the park, but it will be worth the effort when, at the turn of 2014, I am living a simpler, yet more fulfilled, life.

This is your official invitation... Will you join me on this journey? Step one is saying yes. Step two will be putting that yes into action, month in and month out, with projects and challenges leading to a systematic home!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

December Calendar, take 2 (Freebie!)

Well, my December calendar got a makeover when I discovered I could do rounded corners tonight. Hooray! That was one of the things I wanted to change, and now I know how. So here's another version of December for you...

December Calendar (Freebie!)

So far I am liking my new November calendar, and decided to make a December one, too, to get me through the end of the year. I don't like that I can't fit the whole month in 5 weeks. That just seems silly. That said, I did have to do the whole "slash 31" block on this calendar. Oh well.

I am hoping to work with a graphic designer to come up with a 2013 calendar that I like with variations that will work for my clients and the custom binders I create for them. Ideally, they will have tabs, be printed on cardstock, and have a monthly birthday list on the front of the tab, with something else on the back of the month. Notes, perhaps? I don't know... Haven't thought that far into the future.

 In any event, here's the December calendar I came up with. Enjoy! As always, if you download it and use it, please let me know what you think of it! Thanks!