File Crate System Feed

A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!


Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Today I'd like to give you all a little tour of my new desk. :)

Well, I call it "new" because I've only been using it for a couple of months, but the desk itself is not new. Actually, it's been here since the house was built back in 1985! (We've been here since 2013.) It's a great spot for sure, but I resisted situating myself here because, A. up until recently I had a (portable) laptop computer and, B. "sitting down time" was pretty scarce. (If I found myself sitting down there was usually a Little Bear in my lap!)

Also, I really didn't want to clutter up this corner of our family room ... it's the main gathering room in the house and it's hard enough to keep it neat without adding my own parpahernalia to it. And if you know me, you know I am someone who has a tendency to amass a bit of clutter - nice-looking clutter if I may say so, but still, clutter indeed. Ahem.

Anyhoo, when my beloved Macbook died in August (thankfully leaving behind its hard drive), circumstances lined up in such a way that I "inherited" my 17yo son's computer. (He was building himself a new PC per his dearest birthday wish.) So now I really did need a desk for my desktop computer (as opposed to a kitchen counter where I usually parked my laptop) and I suddenly saw this built-in desk in a whole new light. Sure it's smack dab in the family room where all the FAMILY usually is - but it turns out that's OK. It's hard to sneak away and get stuff done for any length of time on my own, though I had a good run there for a while when Little Bear was napping regularly (I'd work on my laptop in a chair parked next to his crib). But these days if I'm going to sit down and spend some time working (or let's be real, surfing) on my computer, it's going to be accomplished with my kids all around me. So these days - case in point, this day - I'm sitting here at this desk while Little Bear and Earlybird play with trains and Matchbox cars and there may be an episode of Peppa playing in the background ...

(Side note - there is a matching desk on the other side of that window seen in the above photo. This desk is used by Earlybird and that too is getting spruced up for his computer time and homeschooling! More details in a future post.)

Now, before I get on with the tour, I want to note that I am still getting settled in, so things may get moved around a bit. I like how things are working so far though ... and I do find myself sitting here quite comfortably when the opportunity arises!


So the monitor is parked in the middle, natch. Along the wall I have a month-at-a-glance calendar on the left - and to be completely honest I don't really need a wall calendar but I loved the look of this one - crisp white with LINED boxes and soft gold dots. (Plus, you know me and calendars.) I got it at Staples. On the right side of the monitor is a bulletin board which I will discuss in more depth in a moment. (Martha Stewart brand, also found at Staples.)

I bought the decorative boxes recently at Joann Fabrics where they were on sale and I could hardly resist. The artwork is so pretty and the shades complement the desk nicely. (Speaking of color, another side note - I do love the painted woodwork here. All through the house actually. The former homeowners did a bang-up job choosing paint colors and this green, as well as the green in my kitchen, is probably my favorite - mostly because I know I wouldn't have thought of it myself!)

Inside those boxes I have extra office supplies like pencils, pens, hi-lighters, post-it notes and washi tape. These are the ones I use the most ... my main stash is just beneath in a cabinet - along with stickers, binder clips, glue sticks and clothespins. (See below.)


(You might recognize that yellow ball as our Michaelmas meteor ... yes, that had to go into immediate hiding once the younger boys wouldn't stop fighting over it. I had forgotten I stashed it in there when I went to take this picture, lol!)

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 


I also have a small index card bin here (with monthly dividers and a card for each day colored according to the liturgical season) ... favorite mini binder clips are perched on the edge of the bin and my new daily prayer book sits just behind. :)


If I'm going to be working at my computer for any length of time, I take my Day Designer (my daily planner) with me. I park it in the space to the left of my keyboard. (I usually keep my DD at the kitchen counter so I can check in with it frequently throughout the day.)

Above the monitor is a banner I made recently - an important reminder! - and an overhead light that doesn't work presently. (We're working on getting the right bulb for that fixture and then this whole work area will be much brighter!)


So a bit about the screenshot, lol, because I know you're probably wondering! That is a very pretty planner I puttered around with on the Blue Sky website. A spiral-bound, monthly-weekly affair one can personalize and then order online. I REALLY don't need another planner, but oh ... isn't this pretty? :)

Ok, to the right of the monitor is my bulletin board and more storage ...


Fyi that bulletin board is very easy to put up with adhesive tabs on the back. I found some shimmery copper push-pins to use here - to hold some visual inspiration (I tend to hoard lovely greeting cards and so display them with the seasons) as well as a few notes re ~ library password and Bookworm's class schedule, etc. Also here (beneath the owl card) is Little Bear's most recent pediatrician's report which gives his vitals, doctor contact info. and dosage information.

Beneath the board is another pretty storage box (I'm a sucker for these can't you tell?) and in this one I have craft materials for current or upcoming projects. Right now there are vintage Halloween cards to send with Earlybird, a set of paper turkeys for a Thanksgiving project and materials for our Advent countdown. The trick is to remember I put these things here, lol - but it's vital to keep these things out of the line of my younger boys' vision. ;)

In the rectangular basket I keep bills to pay, statements to review, correspondence to answer, a plastic pouch for monthly receipts and my little shopping notebook. Also tucked in here is Mama's Pink Stapler, and all my business/appointment cards held together with a binder clip ...


Tucked in the very corner of this desk is my Catholic reference book-of-the-moment and two lovely notebooks I bought at the Paper Source recently. Let me show them to you a little closer up ...

New notebooks

You know how sometimes you find - and I'm talking to my fellow paper-nuts here - a notebook that just works really well for you? The size, shape and feel of it is perfect and you just want to find all kinds of uses for it? Well, this is what happened to me with these little beauties. I bought the blue one a few weeks ago and have turned it into a "to-do" kind of journal. I then ordered the pink one online (did not dare visit that store again in person - too tempting!) and am turning it into a daily joy journal of sorts.

Ok, back to the desk ...


When I established myself at this desk I realized I needed a writing/work space as well as a computer area. I had Bill move an old table of ours (originally my grandparents') to the right of my desk chair. I like to turn to my planner/binder as I work and this is a fairly efficient set-up for me.

So on that table ...


A lamp, which casts a very cozy if not very bright light on the area! My favorite page-a-day calendar, my stack of current magazines (piled in order of read first to last, favorites on bottom!), my homekeeping binder, file crate and an in-basket.


I will have to do a separate post about how I'm using my binder as part of my overall planning system. I think I've finally found a daily-weekly combination that works for me! (Monthly-weekly-seasonal planning in the binder ... as well as my daily journaling ... but the daily nitty gritty planning takes place in my Day Designer.) 

My file crate sits nicely here on the table ...


Weekly file folders, seasonal file folders, teacher's planbook standing up in front along with printable nature-study calendars and in the way back of my crate I have a folder for all our homeschooling particulars - any correspondence, HSLDA paperwork, town/school paperwork, etc. The in-basket holds things - any old things - I come across through the week that I want to look at during my weekend "office hours." In there right now is last month's journaling pages for review, a couple of pieces of mail to look at, a storytime craft made by Little Bear (not sure how that ended up in there, lol!), my Advent book for perusal and planning, and a "just moved" announcement from a friend.

Above this work table is a framed Tasha Tudor print ...


My grandparents had this framed for me as a high school graduation gift back in 1987. It brings me such pleasure for so many reasons!

Oh, and while I'm here, let me show you yet another storage box I bought just yesterday and slipped under my work table ...



This one will be for Christmas planning and prep ... I've already stashed a couple of catalogs in there!

I keep my "briefcase" on the floor ...


(In here are this month's home learning books ... I try to find all the books we'll be using ahead of time and pull them out as we need them.)

Now, looking around my "corner office" I have a nice view out the window to my left ...


... although that couch is very tempting!

And there's a small seating area behind me for "client meetings" ... ;)




The table and chairs were originally my parents' and they are actually patio furniture but I love how they look here and the wicker is surprisingly comfortable. I envision having the boys sit with me here individually to review homework and perhaps talk about the week ahead, expectations etc. For Little Bear it's mostly about sharing Mama's tea and playing with puppets. :)

Above my desk are bookshelves full of the older boys' books and a few special nicknacks ... some of that aforementioned "clutter!"


I added those pretty wooden leaf lights just the other day - they add a nice touch on gray days and dark autumn evenings!



And if you're thinking that's a glass of wine right there in that last picture, well ... you'd be guessing right. :)

Last shot ... office motto:



Well my friends, this was a rather long post and I thank you for stopping by to read and share in my "desk joy!" Aside from needing a little more light, it's working out very well for me. I've been here at the desk all morning (well, since 6 a.m. till now which about two hours later) since Earlybird and I are the only ones up and he's out here in the family room using his iPad and watching PBSKids. I'm on my second - make that third - cup of coffee but it's now time to rally the troops and get our Saturday started! Soccer game and family lunch ... applesauce in the pot and meatloaf in the oven ... much to do and many memories to make!

Hope you all have a great weekend ... see you here again very soon!

It's Homeschool Planning Time!

File crate 1

Hello my friends, and Happy Weekend!

So it's that time of year again - time for me to put on my homeschool-mom-thinking-cap and see "what's what." First up, I need to write reports for the school system (how we did last year, what we're doing next) and then comes the fun part - planning out the nitty-gritty of our new year! I'm actually a little behind on this (thanks, in part, to that recent computer crash) but I AM NOT panicking. Nope, I am not. Not at all. Or at least, not very much - mostly because I'm really too busy to worry about it!

(Plus, this is my 16th time "at bat," so to speak, so it really shouldn't take me too long to get these reports done ... once I sit down and just do them!)

Now, like many of you, I have a ritual I like to follow when I work on a project - for ed. planning it includes (but is not limited to): a quiet space, open windows, no children, several cups of tea and LOTS of office supplies. But one of my favorite activities is when I get to spruce up my file crate for a new year! Above you see the crate itself with a calendar hanging on its front and a couple of planners stuck in the back. In front of the crate are two piles of folders - last year's on the left (which will be read through as I write the reports) and new ones for the coming year on the right.

Now, before anyone asks - no I don't reuse my file crate folders - at least, not for this purpose. I do, however, recycle them in other ways. I like (and need) my weekly file folders to be crisp and sturdy and strong ... a year's worth of use leaves them a bit battered. 

File crate 3

Let's just say, they get handled a lot!

There are a lot of stylized file folders out there now that you might use with a file crate system. File folders are kind of a "hot" product these days and some are so very pretty ... I am always tempted ... but unfortunately, since I need one for each week of the year (52 total) the price, for me, would just be too much. I do like to "pretty" my plain folders up a bit if I can - with labels and washi tape, etc. As you can see I am going with primary colors this year as opposed to the soft brown of last year's. These are actually folders I found a while back at Staples when they were marked WAY down - so I bought several packs - you know, just in case. (I'm weak like that when it comes to office supplies ... my motto being, buy first, ask questions later!)

Anyhoo, look how neat they are inside!

File crate 2

So inside each folder there are pockets that allow you to separate folder contents by type. How cool is this?! I LOVE this idea and I really hope it works out. I keep a lot of things in my folders and it's a bit jumble-y, I must admit. (Lesson print-outs, recipes, receipts, craft ideas, invoices, reminder cards, greeting cards, invitations, etc.) I sometimes use a paper clip to hold things together (or various color-coded clips) but then there's that annoying bump from the clip(s) ... yes, I really am that persnickety about my file folders, lol!

I will have to do a follow-up post about what the folders look like when full - and how I use them as part of my weekly planning. I'm still ironing out a few details and fleshing out a few new ideas ... so more on my file folder system in the near future!

Before I go though, I want to share a couple of photos of our next project ...

Learning room 1

Learning room 2

Learning room 3

So yes, this is the sunroom, which I know a lot of you have seen in previous posts, and you're thinking, "What is she on about here?" But here's the thing .... I've finally decided to make it our ... HOMESCHOOL ROOM! :)

We've lived here in this house for three years now, and I just couldn't quite decide where to "set up shop," for homeschooling. I kind of wanted to see how we'd end up using the different rooms and where it would make sense to commit shelves and wall space to educational pursuits. This sunroom has been fabulous when we're entertaining - we often set up buffets and dining tables here - but otherwise it's usually a catch-all playroom of sorts. I recently cleaned it out, top to bottom and decided this really would make a great spot for homeschooling ... there's lots of room and natural light. Not a ton of wall space, but enough. And it's situated right off the family room so it's pretty convenient. The one drawback is, it's only a three-season room (i.e. it gets COLD in the winter) so we'll have to figure something out on that front. 

But I'm excited! I'm really looking forward to getting this room all organized and arranged. I have Bill lined up to make some shelves for me and I'm trying to envision the learning areas I'd like to make available to my younger boys. On the other side of the picture window in that last picture is my new desk, by the way ... and that will be another post for the future! :)


Well, my friends - I'd best be off now. This was supposed to be a "quick" post but you know how I can get. I do hope you all enjoy your weekend, and as always, I thank you sincerely, for stopping by to read. Thanks, too, for all the chicken advice! The girls are doing well ... they seem much more settled now and goodness are they dears! I will post a bit about them in an upcoming post as well.

So have a good evening, everyone! Don't forget to look up at that beautiful night sky tonight (or early tomorrow) and watch for those Perseids, so spectacular this year. I myself am just hoping to stay up late enough to watch The Great British Baking Show season finale!

(Anyone else watching? Who are you rooting for then?)


See you all here again very soon ....

How I Use the Weekly Planning Sheets ...

Sheets 14

Happy Thursday, my friends! How's your week going so far? I do hope it's being kind to you!

A few folks asked if I could show how I use my weekly planning sheets, and today I am here to do just that! To be honest, I'm still kind of figuring them out - tweaking things as I go along, trying to make them work better - so these sheets are still a work-in-progress! But I'll show you some examples below and then describe the way I'm utilizing each of the blocks ... as well as when in my week I actually work ON them. (That's half the battle sometimes, isn't it? Finding time to do the planning itself!)

Currently I am using these sheets in coordination with my file crate system and it's working out pretty well. I staple the two weekly sheets (one for household planning and the other for lesson planning) onto the front cover of the folder itself.

So here is one sheet stapled to the front of the folder ...

Sheets 2

... and the other sheet stapled to the inside of the cover.

Sheets 3 

The folder itself is clamped onto the front of a rather nifty contraption I bought at Target a couple of years ago. It's called a "clipfolio" and it's basically a "padfolio" with a clipboard attached to the front. As you can see above, the papers found inside this week's folder are held securely by the clamp on the front of my clip folio. I really like this set up! It's easy to tote around and it makes a sturdy base for writing in my planner.

And here is the inside of the clipfolio ... embellished with somebody else's scribblings!

Sheets 4

(I haven't decided how I want to use this pad and pocket yet. I'm thinking a master-to do list might work well here.)

Here's the clipfolio without the folder attached:

Sheets 1

It's made by greenroom and I'm not sure if Target still carries them but I found something similar at Amazon.

I keep the folio-with-folder on my kitchen counter - aka mission control - next to my domestic journal (which is always open to today's page) and beneath my planner, which is flipped to the side of the week we're working on ...

Sheets 12

Now, about how I use these sheets ... (you were probably wondering when I'd get around to that!)

Sheets 13

Above is the general planning sheet for next week (1/25-1/31). I started filling it out today because it's Thursday and that's when I start my "week ahead" planning. (This gives me time to organize my weekend "work" - errands, supplies, prep, further planning.) I wrote in the days and events of note and the seasonal theme for the week, and these helped me shape the rest of my plans. (If you click on the photo it should open up so you can read my scribbles a little easier.) I wrote in nightly suppershome & garden notes, blogging ideas as well as a few crafts and comforts. These are the kinds of things I love to dream up and plan out - but must accept that we may not get around to doing them - at least maybe not this year! They often tie into the weekly theme, or a favorite holiday or feast - so here I have ideas for celebrating Burns Night, exploring ice, and concocting home remedies and growing a medicinal garden.

As for the housekeeping notes, well ... they do tend to be a bit sentimental. Less "unload dishwasher" and more "embroider dish linens." So, am I romanticizing things here a little? You bet! But I love reading books about the old-fashioned "art" of housekeeping and this is my attempt to write something of the sort for myself.

Finally, in the lower left hand of every planning sheet there is a bit of vintage clipart with a simple seasonal suggestion ... and boy, do I have fun creating these snippets! I will confess, these sheets were (are?) going to be part of a bigger seasonal project, but for now, I'm just having fun with it. Trying them out to see if they actually make sense! But I thought it would be nice to make the sheets printable in case someone else might like to use them ... Deep Winter pages here ... Early Spring under construction!

Next, here is the home learning planning sheet - with note space for each of my three (still-at-home) boys and a weekly overview. This provides a framework for organizing lessons as well as all the seasonal ideas and activities.

Sheets 15

Now, about the week's rhythm - I find this to be a great planning tool if your schedule allows for it! Especially for my younger children, but it's lovely for me too. I consider the busy-ness of each day and then give it a name - Monday is for nature, Tuesday is for book baskets and drawing, Wednesday is for storytelling and handwork, Thursday is for painting or projects (music and poetry) and Friday is for baking/cleaning. (The weekend is for family fun and faith @ home.) This gives all my seasonal ideas a place to "live," if you will.

So since I know next week's theme, holidays and feasts ....

On Monday we'll devote some kind of nature activity to the concept of ice: a walk, a journal entry, an addition to the seasons shelf.

On Tuesday we'll pick up library holds (books about Scotland and ice harvesting) and do a coloring page or two (flag, map, loch ness monster).

On Wednesday, while the boys play with dough, I'll tell a couple of stories, and depending on my audience it might be about woodland animals finding a frozen puddle ... or perhaps about my Scotch-Irish grandmother's family.

On Thursday we'll listen to celtic music and read a famous poem by Robert Burns. We might also work on ice painting as we listen.

On Friday we'll bake Scottish shortbread and learn the Selkirk Grace. We may even watch Brave, an old Disney movie that's new for us!

And over the weekend we'll watch football, play farkle, attend Mass, and ... relax. :)

Now, it goes without saying - but I'll say it anyways - things do NOT always go according to plan! I try not to stress when the week flies by and we've barely done anything on this chart. I try not to fret if the "theme" I so carefully chose was never recognized in any real way. As long as the boys are working on their weekly goals - lessons, habits, family, faith - then we're good. If I've worked in some seasonal awareness and appreciation somewhere along the way - well, that's great!

Below is next week's folder, open ...

Sheets 6

Coloring pages for the boys (Scotland/Burns Night), and some photocopies from a wonderful book I own called, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends by Pippa Middleton. She has a fantastic section about hosting a "Burns Night Supper" and I have a few of her ideas in my folder to consider for next week. My shortbread recipe is in here too, as well as a birthday card that needs to be mailed next week.

So there we have it - the planning sheets in excrutiating detail! I hope this was interesting to some and helpful, perhaps, if you're using the planning sheets (or the file crate system). I would love to hear what you think - questions, comments, how you are using the sheets if you're using them ...

As I said, I'm always tweaking ... and trying to find a balance between letting things go, and getting things done. As laid back as I try to be about letting things slide, I do try to include enough activity (or awareness) that would suggest there is a seasonal rhythm to our life. Something beyond the tasks and to-dos, but a greater rhythm that connects us with our world, our family, and Faith. That's what I'm doing all of this for ... as personal as I make it, and as much joy as I find in the planning, it all really comes down to my children - the attitude I'm modeling for them, the memories I hope they take with them ...

But now I will wrap up and "let it go" ... because I've really kept you here long enough! I thank you - as always, but especially when my posts go on and on - for stopping by. I wish you all a happy weekend and I will see you here again very soon!

A Fresh Start: Printable Planning Sheets

Fresh start button final

Happy Friday, my friends! I hope this week is treating you well.

I have some really fun posts coming up - there's a new "Planner Tour" in the works and of course "Masteriece Monday" as well as a "Birthday Tea" on Tuesday! - but for today I'd like to share some printable planning sheets with you all ...

Now originally, I was designing these sheets as part of a "spiral-bound, weekly planner-book kind of thing." I was also creating another set of pages for further description of seasonal projects and homey little "assignments" ... but this all became a bit overcomplicated (not to mention oversized!) so I decided the planning sheets would work well enough with my file crate folders. I've been looking for a way to make the FCS more useful and this just might be it! So I went on to transform a simple store-bought notebook into a more user-friendly weekly planner (details soon) and the seasonal project/assignment pages are (slowly) being churned out and set aside for that someday (soon I hope) book. :)

Anyhow, since I very recently figured out how to make a document a PDF and link it here at my blog - I thought it would be fun to share these sheets here in case they might be helpful to someone in some way ...

I have two page designs - one is for general planning and the other is for lesson planning. I am stapling them to the front cover of the folders, with general planning on the outside and lesson planning on the inside. You could also use Washi tape to attach them, or a decorative paper clip, perhaps ... but so far, stapling works for me!

I only have my first season (aka two months) done so far, but if there is interest, I will share the following seasons as I complete them. So here first is my Deep Winter Overview 2016 PDF which breaks down the season by weeks and themes, and will perhaps give you a better idea of what those project pages cover. This particular sheet I have attached inside my notebook planner, at the start of the Deep Winter section, secured with some pretty washi tape. 

(Edited to Add: Here is a clean copy of the Deep Winter Overview Planning Sheet.)

And here is a link to my lesson planning sheet:

Home Learning This Week (Dawn's)

Home Learning This Week (blank)

 (I've included my own personalized sheet just to give you a better idea of how I use it, as well as a clean copy for you to use if you wish.)

And, finally, here are the Weekly Planning Sheets for January and February. There are sections for planning "days of note," a weekly "theme," suppers, to-dos, crafts & comforts, home & garden tasks/projects, and thoughts & prayers. I also had fun choosing a bit of vintage clipart and adding a simple seasonal "suggestion" for the week.

Deep Winter Week One Planning Sheet (12/28-1/3) PDF

Deep Winter Week Two Planning Sheet (1/4-1/10) PDF

Deep Winter Week Three Planning Sheet (1/11-1/17) PDF

Deep Winter Week Four Planning Sheet (1/18-1/24) PDF

Deep Winter Week Five Planning Sheet (1/25-1/31) PDF

Deep Winter Week Six Planning Sheet (2/1-2/7) PDF

Deep Winter Week Seven Planning Sheet (2/8-2/14) PDF

Deep Winter Week Eight Planning Sheet (2/15-2/21) PDF

Deep Winter Week Nine Planning Sheet (2/22-2/28) PDF

Planning sheet on folder

I can do a follow-up post to show how I fill out those blocks. This sheet shown above was hot-off-the-presses and just set on top of a folder for a photo-op.

Now as I mentioned, I also have my notebook planner going on, and I use that more actively than I do these folders/sheets. I refer to my folders/sheets for ideas and direction, but I have daily checklists and a weekly agenda in my planner. I hope this will all make more sense once I give you the full planner tour - WHICH I am hoping to have up midweek! I have a busy weekend with family visits and such, but I will be working in my planner as I find time and taking pictures to share. My goal is to post the tour by Wednesday!

So for now, I will let you go, but I hope you enjoyed this post and seeing all my Deep Winter planning! I would love to hear your thoughts on them if you have time! I would also love to write more about how I'm using the sheets but nap time is nearing its end so I'd better wrap up. I will be back very soon, however, and for now I wish you all a wonderful weekend!


Thoughtful Thursday ~ Planning

Good plan today quote

Happy Thursday, my friends!

I thought I'd share this "thoughtful" quote with you all today ... I really appreciate this sentiment, because goodness knows, I can get a bit obsessed with plans - and what I imagine to be THE perfect plan, which is undoubtedly, out there, somewhere, maybe just beyond my grasp ...

So I wrote this quote on the first page of my 2016 planner, and I hope it reminds me to just get on with things - today, not tomorrow! - and not worry so much if the plan/planner isn't perfect. It's more important to just get started and do what we can, while we can!

Not that there's anything wrong with dreaming about that elusive "someday" plan/planner ... right?


But speaking of plans and planners -  my own homemade 2016 planner is finally just about done and I am so relieved! It took a good long while to draw out each weekly spread by hand ... 52 weeks, plus seasonal spreads and special planning sections ... and there was probably an easier way to do it, but I didn't take the time to think too much about it - I just did it! I used quiet sitting times (nap times, mostly) to work with my pencil and ruler and Sharpie accent pens ... and now I'm just going back through the individual weeks and adding in as much information as I can. I am really loving how it looks and in just a couple of days I will post a full tour! :)

Now, I also wanted to mention another project I've been working on, and about which I am quite excited! I began designing a set of planning sheets late last year with a different end-result in mind (something spiral-bound) but have since decided they would be great to use with my weekly file folders ...

Planning sheet corner

I have chosen colors to complement the seasons, and the grid is tailored for home, garden, crafts and lessons planning. In the corner of each page is a small bit of vintage clipart I found on Pinterest with a seasonal "suggestion" for the week. I am stapling these sheets to my file folders (home/garden up front and lesson planning inside) and this seems to be working well so far!

(So said in the SECOND week of the year, lol!) 

Anyhoo! What I also wanted to say is that I think I have figured out how to save these planning sheets as PDF links and I would like to share them here at my blog! So, if you are interested, you should be able to print out these sheets for your own personal use - whether you use file folders, or not.

So please give me a few more days and I should be able to put up a post with my Deep Winter (Jan-Feb) planning sheets! I will also describe how I'm using them along with my folders (so far).


Well, my friends ~ I'll be off for now, but I do thank you for stopping by and I hope you'll swing by again when you have time. I will be back to chat more very soon!

Planner Party Host Post: Me!

{Woohoo, it's my turn! Better grab yourselves a cup of tea, my friends - or better yet, make that a mug - as I warned promised, this is a mighty long post!}


Good Morning!

Planner party me 2

Well, I'm so glad you've all been enjoying the Planner Party! The enthusiasm has been infectious and encouraging! Big thanks to all who have participated in the Party so far - all the posts and pictures and questions and comments have been truly inspiring! I am happy to know I am not the only one who is a wee bit (or a whole lot) addicted to setting up planners and systems ... and that I am not the only one using more than one system! You've all given me courage to truly bare my planner soul today ... :)

So at the very top of the post is a picture of my "planning station." It takes up a significant portion of the kitchen jetty which is situated between the kitchen proper and the breakfast nook. It can get quite messy at times, but I try to keep the clutter under control as best I can. I like the idea (and look) of clear counters, but realistically speaking, this is the best place for me to work.

What I have here is my file crate, my planning materials, a pile of magazines to read through and clip for my journal, my laptop, and some writing utensils, tape and scissors.

It's not a streamlined or perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination, but rather, as always, a work in slow progress.

Ok, so let's break all "the planning materials" down.

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Above you see my master planning binder. This is one of those things I use, and have used for years, even though I'm constantly tweaking it. I can never get it quite right, but I need it in my life! I'm using one of those Martha Stewart 3-ring binders, and though a bit expensive, it's really well made. The cover used to be plain, but this summer, on a whim, when Little Bear was obsessed with butterflies, I added stickers .... and I hate them, lol. But they are stuck on there FAST. I keep meaning to have Bill (who has way more patience than I do) help me remove them and any gunk they leave behind.

(Now, mind you - this is ONE of my planners (in that, I use it for planning), but it's not actually a planner, per se. It's a bit of a mess really, but I do try to use it as a planner.)

The binder is pretty much never just sitting there closed like that, but open on the counter to my domestic journal. (So therefore, the butterflies shouldn't really bother me ... but they do.)

Here's what it looks like when you first open it ...

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There is a nice inside pocket in which I keep a few things, including a neat month-at-a-glance calendar. There is also the weekly file folder laying there - that's from my File Crate System - holding any materials/papers I need for this week. It's not the ideal place to keep the folder - I've tried other spots - but I need it handy and this seems to work best.

I suspect we're due for another File Crate System (FCS) post, but I do want to show you all really quickly:

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I have been using colored paper clips to separate the papers inside my folder by subject: recipes, crafts, to file/act on, Earlybird's printables (homeschool work), and personal stuff.

{Again, I think we need a full-on file crate post, but I just wanted to share that little tidbit in case it might make sense for you, too!}

Now, before we get into the meat of the binder, here is a look at that monthly calendar:

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I spotted this at my local grocery store, and I stood there in the stationary aisle for a good 10 minutes or more trying to talk myself into - or out of - purchasing it. It was relatively inexpensive (I think about $7) so I could hardly resist. And of course, in the end, I didn't.

It is called the 18-Month Simplicity Planner.

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Great, lightweight paper, large spread for each month with lined boxes. I like that it's a thin, light, booklet-style calendar - very easy to grab and take with me if I'm heading somewhere and need to consult our family calendar and/or want to work on the calendar itself.

Basically, I really loved the look/feel of this planner and decided I could not BE without it even if I couldn't figure out why I actually needed it. (As you'll see below I have other monthly calendars in play.)

So now here's a breakdown of the binder contents ... the latest configuration, anyway! I feel this post would become completely, ridiculously, overwhelmingly, long if I were to get into each tab and discuss what's what - and I can do that in a separate post if you wish - but for now let me just give you the headings ...

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Tabs across the top:

1. Domestic Journal

2. Seasonal Plans

3. The Holidays

4. Months at a Glance

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Tabs down the side:

1. Monthly calendars with seasonal dividers

2. Home & Family

3. Meal Planning

4. Correspondence & Contacts

5. Blogging, etc.

6. Budgetkeeping

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Here is what my planner looks like on any given day. As always, it is open to my current journal page. I use a page finder (cut from pretty scrapbooking paper with a post-it tab on top) and on that page finder I stick my daily chore checklist. I make one up for each week. I turn a lined post-it note sideways and write all my daily tasks down the side - the days of the week across the top - and check those things off each day. I started this to help me remember if I'd given Earlybird his meds and then added on to the checklist.

As you can see, my domestic journal page holds both notes and clippings. It's a "brain dump," much like Mary Ellen described in her post. I just keep it open on my counter so I can write things down quickly as they come up. And I add interesting or inspirational things I find in magazines or newsapers. Nature notes go here, seasonal thoughts and cute things the kids do or say ... pretty much anything goes, even if it will later get recorded somewhere else. It's just a place for me to get it out and then it's not niggling at me. 

What I try to do with this journal (and with all my planners, actually) is to sit down with it on a regular schedule so as to make the best use of the system. So right now I am keeping this journal in a monthly fashion ...

Today being November 1st, I pulled all of October's notepages out of the binder and moved them to my "Yearbook" binder (where the whole year's worth of journaling can be found). Ideally, I will sit down first (not later, because "later" never seems to happen) and comb back over my notes and index information I'll want to return to. The index is a simple sheet that lists the journal year and date alongside the info I might need again. Sometimes there are things in there I need to immediately move on - like a new account and password I created, or an appointment to schedule asap. 

I'd like to make this a weekly task actually, but right now monthly is the best I can do. This also keeps the journal from getting too thick and taking up a lot of space in my binder.

Now, something I've been experimenting with lately is inserting a weekly planning section right in the middle of my daily journal. Because I really have this thing about keeping things all in one place, and right in front of me at all times ...

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To differentiate from the domestic journal paper, I'm using a set of smaller-size loose-leaf (8x10). The yellow sheet on top is an overview of the week ... and I've already revamped it since posting that pic! I once tried stapling this weekly sheet (an earlier version) to the front of my weekly folder but I couldn't figure out how to keep it in my line of sight.

Behind that yellow sheet is a series of pages pertaining to further weekly planning. I am experimenting with this at the moment, so nothing is too set in stone and the pages themselves are just loose-leaf with notes - nothing really worth showing at this point. But I do have individual pages for:

This week's nature/seasonal theme.

This week's family faith at home.

This week's older boys' lesson plans.

This week's younger boys' crafts/activities.

This week's grocery list.

I've tried and tried to compose "worksheets" that allow planning for all of these things on one page ... but I can't get the design right and I find I need more space for my messy notes and ideas. So I'm not sure if it's a design issue or a space issue ... or, you know, a crazy-picky-planner-person issue ... but for now, this is where I'm doing my weekly planning.

Such as it is.

Next is my clipboard on which I keep our weekend plans: 

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We call this list our "P.O.W." (plan of the weekend) and at the end of each week, I prepare a new page. I look at next week and see what needs getting/making/setting up (special projects, events, recipes) and I look back at last week's POW to see what still needs doing. The little sticky note holds notes about the coming week. (Like, feasts and holidays, etc.) Our weekends are for catching up on all those tasks that can't get done during the week, but there is always plenty of carry-over each week.

I keep this on the kitchen counter all weekend so we can all refer to it. I add initials next to tasks so we can see who is responsible for what. Bill and I go over the POW every Saturday morning over coffee (and Sunday after Mass). I use it when working on my weekly to-do's and as I said, again when I'm preparing a new POW.

Now here's where I get a little silly.

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So remember that Stop N Shop aisle where I found the month-at-a-glance calendar? Yes, well, they also had this very pretty Mom's Manager engagement calendar ... and I gave this a really good look-over, put it back on the shelf ... and then kept coming back to it. It was $15 so not exactly something I had in my grocery budget, but still, I was sooo tempted ...

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The thing of it was (is), it's a great little planner! Nice layout, nice durable covers ... showing the weeks-at-a-glance, along with the months ...

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Each month has a nice inspiration page - ideas, recipes, etc. I liked the size of this planner - something easier to tote around than my Day Designer (see below). Even though I work at my "jetty" most of the day, I also like to take my planner upstairs with me when Little Bear is napping and when I'm heading to bed so I can work in my planner in the evening or early morning before the baby wakes. This planner is such a nice size and weight and it's so easy to tote around ... to pop in my purse if I'm heading the hairdresser's or a doctor's appointment, etc. Or even just waiting to pick up Crackerjack from class!

Overall, a very NICE planner ... one I wish I could just fall completely in love with and make work on every level and then I could just forget about all other planners. Life would be so simple!

But here's the other commercially made planner I'm using ... and I would not so easily grab the Day Designer to tote with me, because it's fairly bulky. Here's my DD, open to the daily spread (two days in the future) ...

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I really do like this planner, and I DO need a daily space to plan - there are things to keep track of that are very much pertinent to the day itself (not the week or the season ...). Things that would perhaps get lost in a weekly planner: a call to place, a book to return, a prescription to request, a tv show to record, a check to drop off ... 

(Side note: I'm always trying to figure out how to incorporate a daily planning page into my daily domestic journal because that would seem to make sense ... but so far, no dice.)

And the Day Designer (which I described in more detail here) is beautiful - nice paper, soft colors, a well-thought out design. It has quite the fan following and I admit, I've been caught up in the enthusiasm a bit... but I'm wondering if it might be too much "day" for me. I sometimes feel I'm not using enough of the page. 

So in case you can't tell, I struggle between using a week-at-a-glance planner with an insert or sticky note for daily to-do's/reminders ... OR a day-at-a-glance planner with an insert or sticky note for weekly to-do's/reminders. Hmmm ...

(Do you see now how much I overthink all of this?)

Then of course there is the very pretty homemade planner I made way back in January:

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I am ashamed to say, I only used it through April, and that was, I think, mostly because I had only drawn up the weekly pages through then. (I remember feeling so confident I would get them done before I caught up to them, but that didn't happen.) I would like to think if I'd had those pages done ahead I would have continued on with this homemade planner ...

Here is the October cover page (how I love this vintage paper!):

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And here's how I was using it as a weekly planner ...

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The first page had an overview of the week (much like the one written on the yellow sheets above), and then the next pages featured an agenda for the coming week:

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All hand-drawn on that favorite paper of mine, with (mechanical) pencil, and lots of notes and details about the week. Some quotes, some temperatures and weather notes, where we went ... and if the Patriots won. ;)

I will confess to you - I have all the materials to make this again for 2016 - and I might just do that! I have the vintage paper (a fresh set) and the monthly tabs, and I even found a stash of that awesome loose-leaf in Bookworm's bedroom closet. (Apparently I had sent him off to college last year with a supply and he brought home what he didn't use. So happy to have more of this paper!)

But ...

I also bought the scrapbook paper in the 8x8 size and I'm toying with the idea of making a smaller-size planner in the same design as above. The 8.5x11 is not too thick or heavy but it is a bit bendy, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'll add more support? Hmm.

Oh, wait! Let's got back to the File Crate for a moment, shall we?

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So another way I plan is to use a file folder for each week of the year - it holds any information I need for that week. I keep them all in a simple, plastic crate. There are hanging folders for each season (I divide the year into six seasons rather than four) and each season includes eight or nine weekly folders. I use recycled (brown) folders and write the date and weekly theme on a strip of washi tape. In the front of the bin I hang our parish liturgical calendar. I don't use this calendar in any way other than as inspiration and a reminder of where my Church is in the year.

Then, in the back of the bin I keep my homemade lesson planner.

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Try as I might, I can't seem to incorporate lesson plans into any other planner. They just need to be separate and so, after looking for a commercially-made lesson planner, I ended up making my own. As you can see, I covered a (plain, recycled) spiral-bound notebook with some alphabet scrapbook paper and to secure it, I used some of that same washi tape (mentioned above) around the edges of the notebook.

The metal clamp holds my place in the planner ...

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 I can do a separate post all about this particular planner which has several pages in the beginning for general information and an annual overview, and then there is a page like the one shown above for each week. The weeks allow me to jot down a "plan" for each of my three younger boys for each day of the week, and then on the back of this page I write down resources used and any other notes about the activities and lessons that week.

Although ...

I do have a lesson planning page as well as a craft/activity planning page in that weekly section we discussed back up at the top (or near the top) of this post. I have not yet determined if it makes better sense to have a separate lesson planner as shown here or write plans on a sheet that gets kept in the overall weekly planner.

(Does anyone else find that you can spend too much time dithering over what to use to plan that your plans themselves suffer a bit?)


Well, I am pretty sure I could go on, but I think it is in the best of our collective interests to wrap up at this point! I hope some of what I said was helpful or interesting ... even if it just justified your own planner craziness or showed you just how unhinged I get when it comes to planners. I've been on a planner mission for so many years I have to accept the possibility it might be me that's the problem, and not the planners themselves. Perhaps I'm too picky or flighty, take your pick.

It's a pretty harmless addiction to have in the scheme of things I think. And as long as I'm keeping up with most of my family's needs (and my own) I feel I'm on the right path. Tweaking till I get it perfect is just in my nature ... whether "perfect" is attainable remains to be seen!

So friends, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Did any of this ring a bell with any of you? Do you have any questions or need clarification? I tried to be as clear as possible but as I've been working on this post for several days, I feel like it started to unravel a bit. Let me know what you think and let's continue our discussion! I have some more guest posts coming up and I'd love to have you join us if you'd like. If you have a planner post (with pics please) please email me at:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I look forward to hearing from you even if you just want to say, hey. I know this was a lot to digest, so I apologize for going on so long, but I know - thanks to this series - many of you are planner junkies like myself. Anyways, I hope this was fun!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!

A File Crate Tweak!

Well, it's been a LONG while since we've talked about the "FCS," but I must show you all something new I've been doing with my file crate ... nothing earth-shattering mind you, but a fresh little "tweak" I've found quite helpful! Since I know some of you use the FCS, too, I thought I would show you what I've been up to ... :)

Now I know a lot of folks hang a month-at-a-glance calendar in the front of their file crate, and I think that's a really handy idea - in fact, I've done that myself - but I prefer to use my large-grid, two-page-per-month calendar for monthly planning, storing it flat in my binder so I can flip to it, and write in it quickly and easily. So as pretty as that hanging calendar was (so pretty), it just wasn't very functional. (For me.)

So I removed the calendar and brainstormed what I could display here instead. After a bit, I decided this would be the perfect spot to display my week-at-a-glance planning! And here is how I did it.

Fcs news 1

To the front of the crate I attached a Martha Stewart Home Office Pocket (with removable adhesive). I had this pocket on the side of my refrigerator where it held some random papers. It attached to the front of the crate fairly well, but because it had been hanging on the fridge for well over a year, the adhesive was a little weak. So I used the small metal clips for added strength.

Now I took this handy-dandy peel-and-stick weekly calendar pad ...

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(Something I picked up at Paper Source ages ago - yet never found a good use for!)

And attached it to the front of my current weekly file folder ...

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It fit nearly perfectly - I had to trim the very edge of Sunday so it wouldn't go over the edge of the folder. I added some sticky notes below the calendar which I will use for lesson planning notes/goals each week - one for each of my boys (11th, 6th and pre-preK next year, lol). (The small orange note might hold some notes about my college boy that week! Something he's up to or studying for, a big event or something he needs ...)

So instead of sticking my current FCS folder inside the cover of my master binder as I've done in the past (somewhat out of sight, hidden beneath my domestic journal pages), I have it stored, front and center, in that clear pocket.

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In this way, I can easily see "what's what" this week thanks to that nifty calendar on display! And it's very easy to pop things into the folder itself as well as lift it out to look for a paper I might need.

Just a note - if you can't find (or don't want to buy) that particular sticky-pad - you could use regular post-it notes (cut to fit) instead. I was going to do just that before I remembered I had that handy pad! (I - *ahem* - might have a wee problem with hoarding "potential" office supplies.) You could also use plain or lined paper cut to fit, attached with pretty Washi tape ... OR you could draw a weekly grid right on the folder itself!


Now, the sticky notes you see above are actually stuck on the outside of the pocket. I have one for the week's dinners, one for blogging ideas and a to-do list for the week. I posted them below the week at a glance so as not to cover up the calendar grid. (Which has not yet been filled in - I promise you my week is not as quiet as it appears above!)

All of this sits right above my master binder which sits - as it always does - open to my current day's journaling page. I also have a small reading pile here and my laptop off to the left. Here's the "jetty" which I use as my "command central" ...

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It does not look that clean at the moment, lol! There's a lot of stuff there now ... but you can see how it's a very central part of our home. If I'm going to grab a few minutes to pop online, check my lists or write in my journal - this is where I'm going to do it.


Well, my friends, this post grew longer than I intended, lol! But I hope it was fun to read ... whether or not there's an FCS in your life! I will keep you posted as I continue to tweak my command central. I always get inspired at this time of year as Summer rounds the bend and another "school" year approaches ...

For now though, I thank you for stopping by and wish you all a very pleasant evening!

Hope to see you here again very soon ...

File Crate System: Refreshed & Ready to Go!

Fixing File Crate 1

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is going well ...

I have a quick post to share today - just a glimpse of my file crate all spiffed up for the spring. :) But what has me really tickled this morning is I just figured out how to add "text"  or "talk bubbles" to my photos! Lol, I've only been blogging, what - nine years now? - and finally figured out how to do this!

Anyhow, it's been a while since we talked "file folders," and though I have been using mine, it's been somewhat neglected ... sitting out in a corner of the living room on a desk I'm never at ... so I decided to move it front and center on the kitchen counter where i do most of my work. I also just added new folders for the coming year and got them all written out and it just all looks so pretty (I think anyway ...).

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(Aren't those talk bubbles neat?)

I use plain manila folders and hanging folders in a "recycled" brown shade. Each hanging folder holds one season (two months) worth of folders. Generally, that's about eight or nine folders.

Fixing File Crate 2

I found a really neat washi tape with a "date" stamp that works well here! And it lifts easily so I could most likely reuse these folders next year. I also used another tape that has the months printed in rainbow colors - this works well, too. In each hanging folder there is first, a folder for general seasonal things - clippings, printouts and planning pages - and then come the individual weekly folders.

I park the crate itself (a plain plastic bin I bought at Staples) right on my kitchen counter, in front of my work station. It's a bit of clutter, yes - but I can move it very easily somewhere else if needed. I will do a separate post about the rest of this work area - which currently includes a master planning binder, my reading pile, a bills basket and ... a calendar ... or maybe two.

I'm having a bit of a calendar crisis which I need to hash out with you all, lol.

Fixing File Crate 3

I have my main planning calendar in my binder (shown above) but there is also the one hanging on front of the file crate ... and the one hanging on the kitchen wall ... and the one sitting on the counter NEXT to my binder .... sigh. I'm hopeless, lol!

Ok, this is all I have time for now and I do apologize (yet again) that I am so slow at posting these days. I honestly think about this blog and all of you all the time ... but free time just does not materialize on most days! I know I don't have to tell you all this - and I know you all are in the same boat, lol! Busy people we all are - busy with the important things, first and foremost - our families! I will never not blog though, so even when it's been a bit of time, please know I will be back! I'm also trying to devote time each week (if not each day) to writing that book I'm always talking about ... and I've toyed with the idea of taking a blog hiatus while I do that ... but! I think instead I will just try to post on occasion, as I can, and put more of my writing time and energy into the "book" project. Because as much as I like to imagine it might - it's not going to write itself, lol!

As always, I thank you for your patience and understanding ... and for reading! Always, for reading ... and please leave a comment if you have time! Are you using a file crate these days? How is it working for you?

Looking forward to catching up again soon ... take care and be blessed! 

More Q & A: How about the file crate folders?

Good Friday evening, my friends! I hope your weekend's getting off to a great start. :)

Happily, we have a few more journal/planner questions to address! I'm thrilled there are others out there who love talking about planning and journaling - not just in general, but delving into the real nitty-gritty. I'm so glad it's not just me, lol.

Anyhoo, I've been working on this post for a bit, but it's getting quite big, so I think I will break it down and answer each question in a separate post. I will post these Q&A's over the next few days.

First up, a question from Tanya:

How does your FCS fit into all this? I know you used to attach your planning cover sheet to your weekly file folder. How is it working with your new bound planner? Thanks so much for answering these questions - so helpful to hear it from your perspective.

Tanya, it is very much my pleasure to answer these questions! You know how much I love this topic! (And all its sub-topics ...) So, to answer your question ... I keep my current FCS (file crate system) folder just inside the front cover of my open binder ...

File folder in planner

What you see here is the left-hand side of my planning binder, which is laying open on the table. This week's folder is slipped in behind the journal pages with the open side facing outwards. It's pretty easy to slip things in and out with it here, but it wasn't so easy to see the weekly planning sheet which, as you mentioned, used to be stapled to the front of that folder. I really liked that idea and was disappointed it didn't seem to work. I've been, admittedly, in a bit of "weekly planning sheet muddle," lol.

Because - though the sheet was hidden when it was on the front of the folder, now that it's in my handmade spiral bound-planner, it's still fairly hidden! Because I keep the planner open like this, folded on its side ...

Planner laying on journal

I like seeing the weekly agenda, open to the current half of the week (so the Thurs-Sun side is open right now). But of course, the weekly planning sheet is tucked a few pages back, so it's not immediately available for review. Do you see my issue? I like seeing the agenda (where we are in the week and what's on tap for the day) but I also like referring back to the weekly overview - the to-do's, the dinners, the prayer intentions, etc. I can obviously flip back and forth ... and perhaps that's just what I need to get used to doing. But I'm so darned impatient, lol! I have half a mind to scrub the weekly planning page from the planner completely and keep it somewhere else, somewhere more visible ... like say, on a clipboard that is propped up nearby. Hmm.

I find what I'm needing to look back at most is the to-do list - the actions that truly need to be done, like phone calls and paperwork and meds picked up and checks mailed and thank you's sent. I get antsy not having my to-do's in my periphery at all times - because even when they're right in front of me I struggle to get all of them done. The rest of the information I can mostly review at the start of the week and plug into the agenda: what days/events are of note and nightly suppers, for example. So what I did this week was to write the dinners on the agenda itself (each day, @ the 6 p.m. line) and then the to-do's I transferred to a sticky note and posted it nearby. Right out in the open, for all to see. (Most importantly, me.) It took the edge off a bit.

It's not perfect - this whole planning "system" of mine - and maybe, since this is all very humbly handmade, I should just accept that fact and move forwards ... but I can't help wanting it to all work just so. It's like I know there's some magic combination of parts - lists and outlines and schedules - that will make up THE perfect planner system ... if I can only just figure it out. Do other planner-obsessed people feel this way too?

So all this to say, I'm not thrilled with the weekly planning sheet being "stuck" in the spiral-bound planner, but the weekly folders are always in the mix. I'm going to try to give this new set up a bit more time (and a little tweaking) to make it all work. 

*fingers crossed*

Ok, so our next question is from Amy, and I hope to address it in tomorrow's post:

I have a new question ... How do you use this domestic journal separate from your weekly planner? Is it not redundant, in a way?

This is such a good question (one that would be good for me to ponder myself!) and I can't wait to tackle it! So please join me this weekend for more planner talk, if you can. And as always, have yourselves a good night. I'll see you here again very soon ...

Paper Goods in August

 Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I hope your new week's going well. :)

Does it seem to you that this summer is flying by? August is here and back-to-school sales are everywhere you look ... in the stores, on tv and in the mail pile (a la catalogs and magazines). Everyone is gearing up for another "new year" which, for us, begins in another few weeks. I certainly don't like to rush the summer off, but I do enjoy all the anticipation as we round the corner toward autumn ...

On that note, I thought I'd share a few things I purchased this past weekend, at a local paper shop where, happily, I had earned a store credit ...

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Beautiful scrapbook paper - a new look for my housekeeping binders.

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I absolutely adore this soft "twine" and could have easily purchased every color.

Paper goods 3

Some of you may remember the little wooden "star boys" I made several years back, one for each of my boys. Well, obviously I need to make one more! Only I couldn't find the same shape/size peg so I bought four new ones. A project for a rainy day (or when the baby's sleeping). :)

Paper goods 4

Some lovely "vintage look" paper in a birthday boy theme.

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This fabric was actually purchased at a nearby fabric store. I'm working with my mother on a skirt for a table (desk) in the living room.

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And finally, have you all discovered Washi tape yet? I'm a little in love with it! A few of these rolls shown here I already had, but I added a couple more this weekend.

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Love alphabet stickers - I find so many uses for them! For instance, when sprucing up the file crate ...

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This year's folders are underway ...

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And a fresh daily diary. A page for each day. :)


Well my friends, we're busy here this week as we prepare for Little Bear's birthday celebration this weekend. Fingers crossed for good weather!! I predict I'll be somewhat scarce online until the festivities have passed ... and then I am sure I will be back with lots of photos to share. :)

But for now, I wish you all a good week and thank you for stopping by ...

See you here again very soon!

An Update on the File Crate

Fcs update 13

Hello, my friends! Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

I thought I'd do a quick(ish) post about my file crate system. It's been a while since I've talked about it, and recently I've noticed a lot of folks are coming here from links that lead to older fcs posts. Not too much has changed since those earlier posts, but I think it's a good idea to check in now and again and see if/how things are working (or not).

(Also, I just love to talk about the file crate!)

So ...

What's in the crate (or tote as the case may be)?

As you see above, I have my weekly file folders all labeled and organized in the tote. (The original plastic crate was passed onto college-bound Bookworm - I now use a fabric-covered, long-handled tote.) In the back of the tote I keep a Catholic calendar we get from our church each year - it lists all kind of liturgical information (feast days, fast days, solemnities etc.). Just behind that I store my favorite 12x12 scrapbook paper - simply because it fits here well and looks kind of pretty!

How are the folders organized?

Fcs update 7

I get these folders set up at the start of the year - sometimes it's by the calendar year (January start) and sometimes it's by the academic year (July start). I use plain Staples brand folders and write directly on the tabs - one for each week of the year.

The folders are grouped by (six) seasons (Deep Winter, Early Spring, Late Spring, High Summer, Autumn, Holiday) and each season's folders are placed in a hanging folder. In front of each of these folders there is yet another hanging folder for general seasonal things. (Things that pertain say, to Winter but not to January or February specifically.)

Fcs update 6

Describe a week in the life of a weekly file folder.

I keep the file tote on my desk in the library - out of the way but very accesible. On Thursdays I start planning out the coming week and my first step is to pull the next empty folder from the tote. (So tomorrow I will pull the folder labeled, "February 17 - February 23, 2014.") I take a look inside to see if I have any papers stashed inside. (Some weeks I do, some weeks I do not.)

I then attach a planning sheet to the front of the folder - I keep these sheets in my planning binder, behind a "Weekly Planning" tab:

Fcs update 8

 I have 52 sheets in this section (or I did, at the start of the year). They are very simple in nature - just loose-leaf paper with a hand-written outline of things to plan in a given week (dinners, days of note, activities, to-do's, seasonal ideas, spending notes and blog topics).

Fcs update 14

I have tinkered with various designs for this planning sheet - and one day I *will* get it just right - but for now I'm just writing things out by hand. Once I do settle on a design I'll produce it in such a way that I can print out the sheets with sections already blocked out and possibly embellished with illustrations/colors etc.

So back to Thursday - I take the sheet for the new week and attach (staple) it to the front of the folder.

Fcs update 9

I use post-it notes for the to-do list and post ideas, because generally I don't finish my to-do's in a week nor do I actually blog about all those ideas. So I move these along to the next folder each week. (Unless miraculously I finish them off in which case I start anew.) The notes shown above are blank for privacy purposes.

So now the new folder is all ready and the week is on its way to getting all planned out. (Further planning includes consulting the calendar -  What does the week look like? How busy will we be with outings? Appointments? Special days? What seasonal activities can we fit in? How about dinners - easy or elaborate? What kinds of things do I want to blog about?)

Then over the weekend I look through the contents of the current week's folder and either leave things filed or move them into the new folder. The old folder goes back in the tote while the new folder gets placed "in position."

Where do I keep an active folder? 

Fcs update 10

I keep the folder with my planning binder, tucked inside the left cover - so the half of the folder that is visible beside my daily journal page, shows dinners and to-dos.

Fcs update 11 

I generally leave the whole kit-and-kaboodle spread out somewhere (table, counter, windowsill, etc.) but if I have to pack up, I place the folder inside the binder cover pocket. The "active" folder stays "in position" through the week and then, as described above, gets retired over the weekend.

So what's inside the folders?

I'm often asked What kinds of things do I keep in the folders? And the answer is: all kinds of things! Right now, looking inside my current folder you'd find recipes I want to make this week (slowcooker paella, baked grapefruit donuts, whole wheat fruit cobbler), a pile of papers re ~ Earlybird's medical issues, things I want to read (Bookworm's first graded paper from Comp class, an article about emergency preparedness), directions for making modeling dough, an Abraham Lincoln coloring page, a catalog page showing curtains I want to order, Crackerjack's Mass participation sheet, a print-out from the pediatrician with baby-feeding guidelines, a couple of printed receipts for online purchases, a Valentine's card for you-know-who. ;) 

The folders in the tote hold things for the future (in future folders, natch) and things to keep on file (in retired folders). I just placed the following items into future folders:

* tickets for a play

* paperwork for the boys' dental appointments

* a recipe for Father's Day 

* a prescription refill reminder

* Spring cleaning recipes & Easter baking ideas (these go in the Early Spring hanging folder, not a specific week)


Finally, the folders are kept in place until the end of the year at which point I go through them all as I write up our year-end reports (for homeschooling). The notes I made and papers I kept help me remember the year we had and plan for the next year to come!

Fcs update 1

As with anything I do (and share here) this "system" is far from perfect and hardly original ... but it's something I've done for years and have tweaked to work - for me anyways - pretty well. I get the feeling a lot of people are doing something similar or at the very least are quite interested in this type of thing so I hope this update is helpful, or at the very least not too boring! 

(And yes, I fibbed - this was not a quickish post at all! But are they ever, lol?)

Well that's all I have time for today my friends ... I have restless children in need of bed, a kitchen to clean, and a Valentine to chat with before I myself retire ... :)

I hope your week's going well, and if you live along the eastern US coast - batten down the hatches! We're in for yet another storm tomorrow!

See you all here again very soon ...

What My Planner/Journal Looks Like Now ...

New journal 13 ** New journal 14

Good Sunday evening, my friends ... I hope you've all had a nice weekend!

Recently I've had a few requests to post about my current planner (slash-journal), and of course I'm happy to do so! But first, a little heads-up ...

This is a really, really long post about a very specific topic (my planner/journal), and it kind of got away from me ... like far, far away from me ... and now the day has grown late and I just don't have time to go back in and tighten it up! So please excuse the size of the post - if you (like me) enjoy looking at and hearing about other people's planners (journals, etc.) then this is the post for you!

(And if not, that's ok, too - I'll see you here another time!)

Now, I've actually had a draft in the works for a while now - but, you know how it is ... my planner wasn't exactly the way I wanted it ... I needed to tweak a few things, find the perfect paper, etc. ... so I kept putting the post off until I could get things "just right. But then I figured, it may not be perfect or polished - but I have been using it consistently, and it has been working pretty well for me ... and for goodness sakes, this blog is all about what's real and "right now" in my life, so I'm not going to put it off any longer!


So, care to join me for some planner show-and-tell?

Plannerjournal 3

First off, here's my little workstation - a spot where I can stash my binders, the file crate, a bills/correspondence basket, my shopping notebook, etc. I'm using two main binders right now - one that stays put (red), and one that I use through the day (aqua).

Plannerjournal 4

Shop talk: These are Martha Stewart binders from Staples. She doesn't have a wide range of colors (I think just black and brown aside from the two colors I chose) but they're well-made and the rings are quiet and smooth. They can also be manipulated one-handed, a very convenient feature for me these days!

New journal 13

So the red "Homekeeping Journal" holds the following tabs: Blog/Endeavors, Household & Family, Faith & Parish, Meals & Food Planning, Education, Money Matters, Emergency, Correspondence. All information I need, but not necessarily every day.

New journal 14

The aqua "Planner/Journal" holds the following tabs: Monthly Calendars, Seasons, Weekly Planning, Daybook, Journal Index. This is the binder I work in daily and it's almost never to be found in that workstation shown above. I keep it open on the kitchen counter, or dining table or right here on this sunny window sill in the living room ... wherever is most convenient at the time. I refer to it - and use it - throughout the day, which is why I moved my journal pages here. (You might recall how important my journals are to me, so this was a big move. More on that in a minute ...)

New journal 10

Inside the binder, first: a pretty cover sheet, some vintage alphabet scrapbook paper:

Plannerjournal 7

Next, the months-at-a-glance, with the current month up front:

New journal 9

These are good old Day-Timer refills - I buy a pack of 12 months for about $15. I have used these for years and no other calendar makes me as happy. Yes, I've tried others (as I've blogged about before) but I keep coming back to the Day-Timer brand because it just looks and feels right. One full month spread across two pages (8.5x11), lightly-lined and generously-sized blocks ... understated shades and a smooth writing surface. It truly does make a difference when your calendar works really well for you in both a practical and aesthetic sense ...

{Some of you will be rolling your eyes at my persnicketiness, while others will be nodding your head knowing just what I mean!}

Now, I'll come back to this section - because this is where I'm actively planning and journaling each day - but very briefly, the rest of my planner is laid out like this:

Seasonal: Brainstorming for each season: holidays, feast days, natural phenomena, little comforts and joys. All the things I weave into our family year.

Weekly Planning: Here's where I keep the planning sheets I use with my weekly file folders. I store them here and then remove one each week to staple to the front of the new week's folder.

Daybook: Journal pages filed for current season.

Journal Index: A dated list of items I'd like to return to - recipes, etc.

Also, because this binder is obviously not pocketbook-friendly, I do use a smaller "pocket" calendar when I am out and about  - at the dentist or hairdresser, etc. I "sync up" this little monthly calendar with just the basics - appts., classes, or events to attend.

New journal 7

Ok ... still with me?

Here is my current journal page, sandwiched between the February calendar:

New journal 1

On Friday I jotted down notes about the bluebirds we spotted, project plans I want to start, a future post idea, a potential book title ... and I also added a newspaper clipping about the Olympics and a couple of recipes.

As some of you might remember, I've journaled for YEARS and it has almost always been in a very particular (inexpensive) spiral-bound notebook, prettied up with scrapbook paper. I have tons of these notebooks in storage dating back years. Well, as I was analyzing my overall planning routine, I realized that my favorite planning components are the monthly calendar grid and my daily journal, so I decided to build my planner around them.

So now I keep a week's worth of journaling inside the current monthly calendar and at the end of the week I read back over them - add notes to an index - and then file them away. Situated in between the current journal pages, I have a page marker which is a two-sided reminder list of all my daily chores, Monday - Sunday:

New journal 2

New journal 3

There is a red tab at the top which helps me find my place quickly. This chores list is another neat item to have in front of me on a daily basis because even though I do the same things over and over, it's helpful to have a routine. A day when certain things are done so they actually get done. (And just for the record, the list is out of date because it still applies to our old house. I need to revise it.)

 So what is the journal for, exactlly?

New journal 15

Well, a little bit of everything, really. I write the date in the margin, wherever I left off the day before (not necessarily a new page - this is like a stream of consciousness), and then anything and everything that comes to mind. I also add little clippings I find in the daily paper and assorted magazines I read. (I read a LOT.) It's a real hodgepodge of thoughts, ideas and memorabilia - and the less eloquent side of me might call it a "brain dump," lol. It's a way of being creative, and preserving the days of the year, and for me, it's a way of capturing our life as it passes.

Now, a question I get a lot is how do I find things that I put in there? Well, originally, the plan was to go through each seasonal journal before the next season arrived. So, right now I'd be combing back through last Winter's journal(s) to remind myself of things to look for or do. This worked relatively well when I had less children and those children were smaller. I seemed to have more time back then to do things like that, but nowadays I just don't have that kind of time. I do love looking back at my journals, but it's something I do on occasion, not as a regular part of my planning routine.

So instead, I use an index. Once a week I look back at the journaling I've done and "forward" any information I need to follow up on. (To-do items I scribbled down, reminders, gardening ideas, etc.) Any recipes or crafts I added to the journal I write down in my index (2.8 - Winter Apricot Tart, Linzer Cookies). 

Another question I get is how do you decide which recipes go in the journal and which get filed with your general recipe collection (or in a particular week's folder)?

Well, yes it's all kind of haphazard, I'll admit - as I said, it's not perfect! But I so love including seasonal things in my journals, and recipes and crafts are a big part of that. "Seasonal" is the key - if it's very seasonal in nature, (and especially if it's pretty to look at) it goes in the journal.

So for example, the two recipes I mentioned above are both very symbolic of this time of year. The apricot tart is made with dried winter fruit (I found it in the Boston Globe's food pages, underneath, "Seasonal Food") and the linzer cookies were part of a Valentine special in People magazine. Both of these recipes sound wonderful for this time of year so I added them to my journal. I also wrote down the information where to find these recipes in my index.

It's probably frustating to hear me describe this because I know it doesn't quite make sense, lol. It's not entirely logical! But hey, it works for me - I love making up these pages with all these bits and pieces of the day ... reflecting the season, my family's life and current news.

I find it very cathartic to journal, even when I'm not expressing deep, soulful thoughts and ideas. (And really, I'm usually not.) It's a creative impulse I have, and the journal really feeds that need in me - to capture my days and create my own reflection of the world around me.


Ok, I'm going to stop here because I really shouldn't keep you any longer. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below, just keep in mind, I don't mean to offer this planner/journal as something that would be helpful or make sense for someone else. I realize this is intensely personal and unique to my own quirks and needs. But as I said at the top of my post, I know I love to see how other people use their planners whether they'd work for me or not - so I hope you enjoyed this post even if you're shaking your head wondering how on earth I get anything done, lol!

 Well, my friends, thank you so much for allowing me to share all of this with you, and thanks to all for stopping by. I'm sure you have things to get to - as do I - supper and baths and then maybe a little tv before bed. I will have the Downton chat post up early tomorrow but I'll call it right now - I'll be joining you on Tuesday as my bedtime is drawing near!

A pleasant Winter's evening to you all ... see you here again very soon!

New Routines & Other Things

Owen in baby bjorn

Remembering how much I *love* the baby bjorn - he sleeps well/I get stuff done!

Thinking about new routines these days - finding ways to get things done with one hand or in tiny pockets of time when baby sleeps ... OR with baby in tow, such as shown above.


So this week I'm trying to iron out the back-to-school/off-to-college shopping and packing lists as well as the educational plans for the upcoming academic year. How strange not to be planning out Bookworm's curriculum! (Though he does have all his classes chosen and I'll be eager to hear how he likes them ...)

And then I have a whole stack of file folders (52 to be exact) sitting on my desk ... just waiting to be dated and assembled ... and weekly planning sheets to print out and attach ... for next week a new year begins!

(Note: all those old folders will be looked through and used as I write up a "year-end report" for the school system. The old school system, that is - this year we'll be introducing ourselves to a brand new town. Hoping that all goes smoothly!)

(And side note, a few of you have asked if we moved so far we had to switch parishes and I'm happy to report that no, we did not have to switch to a new parish. We only moved about 20 minutes away from our old house, and as it happens, our new town does not have a Catholic church of its own ... it's actually part of the parish to which we already belong! So that was a very happy happenstance - Crackerjack, especially, was so pleased to know we could stay at our old church!)

So there's where I'm at right now ... but oh, there's also food shopping and dinner menus! I am SO off the wagon with the menu planning it's not even a bit funny. And have been for months, since the end of my pregnancy really. I'm trying very hard to get back into the groove - I was really good about it for a while there - but I'm so challenged by a lack of energy and time these days ...

I'm trying to take things slow, because that's the only way it's going to happen ... so as soon as I post this post I will be writing out a simple - very simple - dinner plan for next week. I'll let you know how it goes ... and maybe I'll have a "Menu Monday" to share next week!

 Final note - and this is just a little random thing, but I wanted to share - I ordered this adorable book this morning as a treat for myself and my Little Bear:

Ol' Mama Squirrel

Y'all know how I feel about squirrels!


Well, I hope your week has been a good one, and I thank you all for stopping by ... as always, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again very soon!


Looking at Next Week

Happy Friday, my friends! It's time to start planning a new week!

New file folder 1

Lots going on next week - in our schedule, in our Faith, and in nature, too. And the week not only closes with Palm Sunday, but we celebrate a Papal Inauguration as well! How lovely is that?

So yesterday I pulled the folder shown above out of storage, attached a weekly planning page to its cover, and starting "thinking things out."

Here are my thoughts and ideas ... :)

Events/Days of Note

19 - St. Joseph's Day

19 - Papal Inauguration Mass

20 - Vernal Equinox

22 - Blogiversary (7 years!)

24 - Palm Sunday


Dinner Menus

*Under construction - please see my Menu Monday post!



Plan CCD finale/Palm Sunday party.

Order natural egg dye kit.

Buy white eggs.

Spring cleaning, con.

Make card for our pastor.

Finalize Easter menu.

Books to Request/Display

Song of the Swallows

The Spring Equinox


Humphrey's First Palm Sunday



Watch papal proceedings on tv on St. Joseph's Day; serve "sloppy joe empanadas" for supper and "dulce de leche" sundaes as a special "Argentinian" dessert. :)

Talk with boys about "Friends of St. Francis" badge program - brainstorm ideas.

Observe spring equinox: watch sunrise, start a pot of seeds, set out nesting materials.

Take a family Palm Sunday Praise Walk - look for pussy willows by river, stop by vernal pond, observe signs of new life.

Watch night sky for comet: use printable sky map.

Work on amphibians & reptiles study: visit pet store (ask questions, look at turtles, snakes, frogs, lizards), begin "pond watch" at home (listen for peepers), investigate back fence/woods for salamanders.

Set up spring nature table.


So those are my notes for now ... they're just ideas and hopes, but the week will take its own shape and rhythm and we'll do our best to keep up. But I'm excited about all that's to come - it's a very special week in the year - one of my favorites!

Do you have any special activities in mind for next week? If you do, I'd love to hear about them!

Hope you all enjoy your Friday ... see you here again very soon!


File Folder/PaperTray Center

As I mentioned in a recent post, I went to the Container Store this past weekend - with a generous gift card burning a serious hole in my pocket - and this is one of the things I picked out:

File tray center 1

File tray center 2

Pretty neat, huh?

The whole kit and kaboodle was on sale, and I just could not resist; I thought the white mesh would look nice on my white desk. And though I have great hanging file drawers in said desk, I really need to keep my weekly folders somewhere visible and convenient. So I set this up, arranging my folders by date and season ...

And today being Thursday, it's file rotation day, and wasn't it nice to pluck a new file folder from my new file folder center?


So that's all for today - just wanted to pop in and share this little bit of organizing happiness with you all. Snowing like crazy here, but very light, and mostly wet ... just one of those late winter days reminding us that no matter what the calendar might say, Nature always does her own thing.

Hope your week's going well, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


File Crate System ~ Video?

Good Thursday morning, my friends!

File folders 2

Julie left a comment the other day about my file crate system, and I thought I'd answer it here in my morning post ...

I absolutely love the system you have come up with, and plan on putting one together myself. So, thank you! Do you have any videos of how you put together/use your system? If not, do you plan on creating any? Thanks so much!

Hi Julie, and thank you for your kind comment! I'm glad you found my post helpful, and though I don't have a file crate system video at this time, I have been asked about this before ... and I do think it would be a fun project! But I'm not sure exactly how to, A. make a video, or, B. share it here with you all. Luckily I have some pretty tech-savvy guys in my household, so I'll pick their brains and see what they think ... any suggestions would be welcome from friends and readers!

And it just so happens I am getting close to the point in the spring when I "refresh" my whole file crate - putting aside last year's folders for year-end reports, and setting up a whole new set of folders for the academic year ahead. And though I've done many posts on the FCS before, I think it might be fun (and helpful?) for me to explain how I set up and use the system, "in person."

Now, I'm not sure how quickly I'd pull this project together - and this just might be the coffee talking this morning, lol - but it would hopefully be sometime in the next few months. Preferably before this baby arrives in late May!

So any thoughts are welcome, even if it's just to say you'd be interested in seeing something like this, and I'll set to work figuring this out. Currently I'm in the midst of setting up a "feedburner" account in order to allow readers to subscribe to my blog posts by email ... and I only just figured out how to reply to comments individually - something that's only taken me about seven years to figure out! ;)

Thanks again, Julie, for bringing this idea up, and thanks to everyone who stops by to visit me here in my corner of the web ... I hope you all have a great Thursday.

See you here again very soon!


4 things that made me smile today ...


1. Re-doing my chore cards ...

New chore cards

The old ones had gotten rather dog-eared, and some of the tasks were outdated, so I made up a brand new set. Love those soft rainbow colors!

2. A new package of file folders ...

New file folders

It always catches me by surprise when my file folder crate reaches "full circle." I'm nearing my annual "refresh time" so I picked up some crisp new folders at Staples the other day. This time around I chose some soft brown recycled folders ... still working (ever working) on the planning sheet to "go with."

3. A batch of homemade hot fudge sauce ...

Fudge sauce

It's National Chocolate Mint Day, dontcha know! And I happen to be a BIG fan of chocolate + mint ... have you ever grown chocolate-mint (the herb)? It's lovely! Well, I had grand plans to make these today but extra time and energy were hard to come by. (And not that I don't adore Girl Scout cookies, but EB can't have them.) So instead, I bought some mint-chocolate ice cream and cooked up some of this sauce to make it all kinds of special. (Fyi, I'm craving chocolate something fierce these days - even though it gives me terrible heartburn!)

4. Something funny & sweet my middle man said ...

Since I was feeling super-tired today, I told the boys I was going to lie down for a rest ... So Crackerjack asked, "Are you really tired today, mom?" And as I crashed on the couch I said yes (or maybe I just nodded, I forget) and then CJ said:

"Well, that's a good thing isn't it? It means the baby's working really hard at growing something!"


What made you smile today?

Thinking ahead to Next Week ...

So on Thursdays I start actively planning out the next week ... I grab the new week's folder from my file crate, sit down with my calendar and then set about filling in the blanks ...

File planning

First I determine days & events "of note" ...

For the week of Monday, February 11th - Sunday, February 17th:

11Our Lady of Lourdes

12 - Abraham Lincoln's birthday

12 - Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

13 - Ash Wednesday/LENT begins

14 - St. Valentine's Day

I also think about things that will need to be done/remembered and begin my "to do" list. I look at how busy our week will be - the balance of how often we'll be out and how much we'll be home. This helps me decide which days can handle more "to-do's" and which days will require a simpler supper.

Next I plan out our dinner menus, again keeping an eye on the calendar - is someone out one evening and/or is there something special to celebrate?

I then look over the master notes for this week in the year, and sort through the new folder to see what I've saved - recipes, crafts, invitations, etc. Then I decide what seems appealing/do-able this year.

The coming week is particularly rich with seasonal and liturgical events - so there are a LOT of plans listed here - but we only ever do what we can comfortably fit into our week. (And what I, as "ringmaster," feel up to.)


Our Lady of Lourdes: a coloring page (from this book) - with EB, finish up Bernadette: Our Lady's Little Servant - with CJ, who will also research the sacred grotto, discuss plans to make our own backyard shrine, supper: crockpot French onion soup + small roast beef-baguette sandwiches + French apple dessert. After supper we'll watch a documentary on Lourdes (available on Netflix, instant play).

Lincoln's birthday: morning math: make penny rubbings with EB (review coins/money), bring out Lincoln Logs, lunch: rolled wrap sandwiches and jelly rolls ("Lincoln Logs"), read this book and fiddle with "log cabin" supplies (peanut butter, graham crackers and pretzels), watch Abraham Lincoln: Inspiring Heroes (middle boys) after lunch, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets after supper (older boys)

Shrove Tuesday: make Mardi Gras masks (paper plates, feathers/markers/craft sticks), supper: pancakes w/syrup and whipped cream, roasted kielbasa/homefries, fruit salad & a sparkly king's cake, bury our alleluia ...


Ash Wednesday - attend early Mass and receive ashes, back home set up Lent corner which will look much like this, plan meatless meals for the season (check back on this post), supper: cheese raviolis and simple salad, organize Lent/Easter book basket

St. Valentine's Day - earlier in week hang Valentines flag and decorate windows with red & white doiley hearts, wake boys with a pot of hot chocolate & freshly baked chocolate-chip banana bread, read about the real Saint Valentine, for supper: garlic baked chicken, rice pilaf, soy-butter asparagus and raspberry cobbler cupcakes, watch Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown with the kids after supper - and after EB goes to bed (he absolutely loathes Charlie Brown, lol)


So those are the plans for next week, and we'll see how well we fit them in. Some weeks we do a lot and some weeks not so much - but it's always nice to have plans, because ... there's always next year! And that's part of the comfort and joy of the year's seasons. :)

Well my friends, as I wrap up this post, it's the "calm before the storm" as the saying goes, as a "blizzard of epic proportions" is heading our way. Seems hard to believe since it's been such a quiet, sunny day ... but we've made our preparations as best we can ... and now we just sit and wait and watch for the snow to start falling ...

(I'm sure I'll have snow pictures to share at some point this weekend!) 

I hope wherever you are, you have a lovely evening and a good day tomorrow. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!


Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 4 ~ File Folders & Paper Management


Good morning, my friends! Hope your week's off to a great start. :)

I must thank you all again for the wonderful comments you've been leaving throughout this survey. I'm just relishing each one, and I truly appreciate the time you've taken to leave such thoughtful and thorough responses. My plan is to follow up this survey with a post (or more likely, posts) detailing my own answers to all these questions - and while that sounds rather ambitious at the moment, lol, that's my intention! I'll need some time to digest (and tweak!) before I start posting my thoughts, but I will definitely be addressing all these topics from my own perspective. :)

(Fyi, upcoming survey topics include family finances, home education, seasonal planning (faith & nature), arts/crafts & hobbies, reading materials, correspondence, domestic storage: clothes/toys/etc.)

Ok, then! Our 4th organizational topic is file folders - those plain or colored (or even patterned) manila tabbed folders that we use in a filing cabinet (or basket, bin, drawer). These basic office supplies have been around for ages for good reason - they're practical, flexible and really quite indispensible!

I'm quite a file folder fan as you can tell. :)

I'm also touching upon paper management - how do you tame the paper tiger in your household?

So, I have 4 questions for you today:  

1. Do you use file folders for organizing?

2. Where/how do you store them?

3. Where do you keep the "paper materials" you need to handle in a given week?

(Ex. info for activities, recipes to try, permission slips, things to act on/follow up on/read?)

4. Where do you keep "paper materials" you don't need on a regular basis?

(E.g. warranties, insurance matters, health records, sports & clubs info, education plans, etc.?)


Now, I've blogged A LOT about how I use file folders (as part of my file crate system), but I also use them for our general household files and temporary recipe storage. I absolutely adore file folders! And if the number of "hits" my file folder posts get is any indication, so do a lot of you! ;)

Currently I'm fine-tuning how I use my file folders as part of my overall planning. I just love my weekly folder and its contents and its planning page - it really helps me focus on this ONE WEEK, which is really the way I regard our home and educational life: What is THIS WEEK all about?

(For a quick look at how I set up my "FCS" folders and what I keep inside them, please this post and its follow-up.)

And to comment on -  or read comments on - the previous topics in this series, please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Well, I hope to hear from you! Goodness knows I do love me some file folder talk!

Have a great day, everyone! See you here again sometime soon ...

How are your planning tools working for you?

Fcs 1

I've not done a planning post in quite some time, but to be honest, planning has not been in the forefront of my mind lately. A busy schedule + a new pregnancy has kept me - well - busy and very tired!

But I have been using my tools in the very simplest sense ... my weekly file folders and my monthly planner, mostly. With the holidays upon us (and a new year soon after that) I am feeling the urge to get a better handle on things ... so I'm looking it all over and seeing what's what. Goodness knows, there are always things to tweak. ;)

So while I'm tweaking (and I'll give you a blow-by-blow later), I was wondering how things are working for you lately. Are you happy with your current planner/planning tools? Are you keeping up with everything or are things slipping through the cracks? Has this semester been smooth or a struggle?

(And are you, like me, seriously distracted by all those shiny new planners at Target?)


Well, I hope your week's going nicely, my friends ... I know posting's been a bit slow for me lately, but that's just where I'm at right now. I've been struggling with this - this need to slow down - but I know this time is brief. And I know when I listen to my body I feel better overall, and I'm sure that's all the better for baby. That said, I'm truly anticipating (hoping for!) a return of energy in a few weeks when I enter my second trimester. :)

So I'm off for now, but please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!