Writing Feed

Happy National Notebook Day!

A word of warning: you may only find this post interesting if you, like me, are passionate about paper! But feel free to read on wherever you stand on the topic ... :)

Notebook day 6

So I only heard of this holiday the other day on Instagram - apparently it's new this year! But of course, notebook-nut that I am, I could not let it pass without a little peek at my favorite notebook these days! The photo above shows my journal from last year, with all my pages organized and tabbed by month, neatly stored in a large binder. I get so much joy looking back over past journals!

Now, notebooks can be used for all kinds of things - journals, planners, academic notes, shopping lists - there's so much  you can do with a notebook. Notebooks can be easily found (or made) but some of us paper enthusiasts have rather strong opinions about what makes a notebook work and what doesn't. I am a collector of notebooks, that's for sure. I almost never pass up a chance to browse a stationary aisle, whether I'm in a large store like Staples or Target or a smaller specialty store like PaperSource. I'm always looking for smooth paper and good coil binding, a sturdy back and a neat cover. I despise perforated pages ... reinforced pages ... dark ink ... scratchy paper ... and ACK, heaven forbid, a wide rule! ;)

Ok, enough with my rambling ... here is where I'm notebooking these days:

Notebookday 5 

So no, this is not a typical notebook - it is a section in a 3-ring binder (my home keeping binder in fact) filled with my favorite paper EVER. (Years ago, during the back-to-school sales, I found a batch of loose-leaf paper that looked and felt so amazing - I snatched up as many packs as I could! I have never again found its like.)

I call this my domestic journal, and it's a real hodge-podge of things ... notes, ideas, observations, reminders, clippings, post-it notes, the occasional sticker or swatch of washi tape. I write for a month, then review and index the pages before lifting them out and placing them in a large storage binder (such as the one shown above). Then I add more paper to my home keeping binder for the new month!

Notebook day 1 

I keep this binder open on my workspace ("command central," if you will) in the kitchen. It's the first section of this binder and I add to it every day. I use a page finder to mark my place and a binder clip to connect the daily journal with my weekly planning section ...

Notebook day 3

Notebook day 4

I've grappled with needing to see my week AND my day at the same time, and I find this arrangement works rather well. I can't see both sections at the same time of course, but I can go back and forth between my daily notes and my weekly planning pretty quickly. I use a pagemaker here too, and it's a perfect spot for post-it-note "task" checklists.

Notebook day 2

To the far right of my binder sits my clipboard with my Day Designer on top. The DD allows me to see exactly what I'm doing that day. (I don't write notes so much here as to-do's and time-sensitive information.) 

So there you have it - the notebook "system" I am using right now! It's not perfect, but it works well for me and I really enjoy attending to it throughout the day. I do hope you enjoyed this post and I'd love to hear about your note booking habits if you have a minute! In the meantime, I wish you all a pleasant evening and will hope to see you here again very soon!


Creating Seasonal Themes: Corn Week!

Corn 1
(Plus a bit of book news at the end!)

Happy Wednesday, my friends! Sorry I've been a bit out of touch lately ... we've had a lot going on here at the house these days!

We're gearing up for a new year of home learning, and we're getting Bookworm ready for his move back to BC, and we're starting Earlybird on a new, daily, home-based, fairly intensive, behavioral therapy. All very good things, but all things requiring a lot of time, energy and attention. (And did I mention, energy?) Also, as August winds down, we're trying to squeeze the very last drops of goodness out of this fast-fleeing season ... we'll have warm weather here for several more weeks, but for all intents and purposes, Summer pretty much ends after Labor Day.

So I thought I would share some of my notes for this week with you all! As I have mentioned before, I enjoy shaping my family's year by assigning seasonal themes to each week. This helps me weave in all the little comforts and joys of the season I might otherwise overlook. And though I really get into planning these themes out with all kinds of details, I try not to set my expectations too high. Because real life often runs over my plans, and a particular "theme" might not get explored very much ... so some years we might manage something small (a special recipe, perhaps) while other years we might go all out and really work that theme into our homeschooling and home life! Either way, I think it's always good to have a plan. And to be aware ... I think as seasons pass, the beautiful rhythm of the year truly wraps itself around my family however much attention we pay it. That is my end goal! :)

Anyhoo, this current week is devoted to the very timely topic of CORN. In New England (and I suspect, across much of the country) corn is in its peak season these days. Corn-on-the-cob is just heavenly right now - partaking daily is not out of the question - and cornstalks will factor into our home decorations in the coming weeks ...

But enough gabbing on my part! Here are some of my thoughts:

The Full Green Corn Moon will rise on Saturday, August 29th @ 2:35 p.m., and it's a Supermoon this month! We'll have to be sure to look for it after dark and plan a special farmstand supper - starring corn, of course! - for that night. 

🌽

We'll visit a local corn field ... we drive by it often and always marvel at its size. This time we'll stop the car and get out - observe the field, its sounds and smells. What wildlife is flying overhead or scurrying underfoot? What do we hear? (Is that the corn making that sound?) What can we smell? (Vegetation, earth?) How does the air feel right now? (Hot, humid?) Now, we won't touch these stalks because we don't have permission, but we might visit a local farm and ask to do just that. I'll see what our schedule allows and how much interest has been piqued. Before we go, we'll take pictures of the cornfield from various angles. 

🌽

We'll visit our favorite farmstand and buy plenty of ears of fresh corn. We'll ask where the corn comes from and how many ears they sell each day. We'll buy some to eat and some to use for exploration/activities ...

At home, we'll pile some ears on the table and take out our colored pencils and sketch pad: "Still Life with Corn!"

🌽

We''ll enjoy some nice books from the library all about corn:

Corn book 2

The Life and Times of Corn

Corn book 1

Corn

Corn book 3

Corn is Maize

Corn book 4

The Popcorn Book

Corn book 5

Raccoons and Ripe Corn

(These might be in a basket or set up as a display on a nature shelf.)

🌽

We'll play some pretty lullabies ... and discuss how/why corn was so important to Native Americans

Corn music

Under the Green Corn Moon (Native American Lullabies)

For craft day we'll make a corn husk candle - a small glass votive surrounded by corn husks with a tiny beeswax tealight tucked inside. That will look nice on our table! (We could also try making this or this ...)

Or we could try making a corn husk doll (and research the history behind it) ...

We will pop popcorn for snack ... and we might even make marshmallow popcorn bars for a tasty treat!

We might do a taste test: boiled corn vs. grilled corn. 

On baking day we will make a pan of corn bread, and serve it with honey butter.

🌽

We'll learn a poem called "A Green Cornfield" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. We'll add that poem to our nature journal, along with our pictures/sketches.

 The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks.

And as I paused to hear his song
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.

🌽 

We'll consider "Kansas Corn Field," a painting by artist John Steuart Curry in 1933:

Corn 2

***

I also have notes for some Indian Corn activities but I'm not sure if I can get it at the nursery yet. Also, those might wait for a later week in the fall. This week is really more about fresh, or green, corn. :)

So there, in a nutshell (or a kernel!) are my simple ideas for celebrating the goodness of corn during this last week of August. Remember - they're all just possibilities! I can't imagine fitting them all in in any one given year.

How do you enjoy corn at this time of year? Perhaps you grow it yourself or have a favorite recipe ... let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, and before I go, I wanted to mention my book briefly, because I've had a few people ask recently about how my progress is going ...

So, I have been working on it this summer - here and there, not as often as I'd like! - but it took me a while to get going because I wasn't entirely sure WHAT I wanted to write about. I have a few subjects I enjoy very much and there are a few topics people ask about more than others ... well, I finally found my focus! And that enabled me to get rolling ...

I am going to do a book about the file crate system - describing how I do it (and why) and the basics of setting a system up for yourself. That will be the first half of the book ... the second half will focus on seasonal learning (and living) ... and how I use my FCS to manage my family's year. So my hope is to have an outline of 52 (weekly) *seasonal* themes to present  along with activities and books and observations. And tips for using the folders to make it all happen! (Or most of it ... some of it ... well, you get the picture!)

Sometimes when I describe this it all sounds so straight forward and simple - these are my two favorite topics, after all! It seems like the two sides of the equation should work well together ... I need the folders to make the plans happen! But it's possible I may need to separate the two topics ... goodness knows I can get wordy!

(Case in point, this post.)

I will most likely be self-publishing so I'll need to do a WHOLE lot of research into that. I have my eye on a neat contraption that will allow me to bind things at home ... and I am looking into permission for using things like scrapbook papers and poems, illustrations, etc. 

Much to do, much to do! But I'm excited ... so I wanted to update you all .. and I will of course keep you all posted. For the time being, if you have a prayer to spare, or good energy to send, I would be grateful ... I'm desperately trying to find the time in my new schedule to just ... get 'er done!

 :)

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... enjoy the rest of your Wednesday and I will see you here again very soon!


How about some Midsummer News?

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I was working on my sidebars this morning, when I came across this fun little newsletter I wrote back in 2012 ...

Newsletters

 Some of you received one of these in the mail! :)

Whether you got one of those initial mailings or not, you can still read my newsletter by clicking on the nest icon over there on the righthand side of my blog (just below my Facebook feed) or just click on the link below:

Midsummer News, 2012

I thought I would share it with you all once again since it is very timely and chock-full of seasonal inspiration! (If I may say so myself ... ahem!I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it perhaps sparks some ideas for this time of year ...

I'm working on my Early Autumn notes just now ... so many notes! ... but I must remind myself to stop and savor the Summer before it passes ... time is a-flying as always!

Blessings on your day, my friends ... thanks for stopping by and see you here again very soon!


Nine ...

Yellow crocus

Happy Sunday, my friends!

It's hard for me to believe, but it was NINE years ago today that I started this little blog! And this was the very first picture I posted - a few days later once I figured out how to post photos, lol. I have to laugh at myself a little as I look back at those first posts and pictures - I remember feeling so timid about my writing and my photos were so tiny!

Through the years I've written about so many things - my kids, our home, the seasons, my faith, food, education, tea, books and ... oh yes, calendars! I've written a time or two about calendars. ;) But I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute of blogging. I've taken a few breaks here and there, and there have been slower phases than others - back in the heyday I was posting AT LEAST once a day - but I have never-ever wished I hadn't started nor have I ever wanted to stop.

I am grateful to have the most wonderful readers - many of you have become dear friends - and I appreciate the time you spend here and the thoughts you share. I have always been treated kindly and with much support and encouragement and so I thank you all for that. I apologize that I am sometimes often usually slow with responding to comments and emails - I truly wish there was more time in my day (or maybe the week?) so that I could spread my online time out a little more ... but I hope you all know how much our conversation means to me.

*And one of these days I will figure out a way we can all sit down to tea!*

Someone asked me recently what I write about and despite my many years blogging I had to think for a moment ... I was tempted to just say: "Well, everything!" But then I explained, I write about what I love in life ... particularly the little things that make me thankful to be alive, first and foremost ... the things that make me feel happy in my home and in constant awe of the earth around me ... things that make me feel good about what I do and who I am ...

Simple blessings that cushion my days with comfort and brighten them with joy.

Celebrate the every day

I write because it reminds me (and thereby my children) that we are all blessed, every day of our life. Even when we struggle or feel scared, sad or unsure ...  our days are not perfect, but they are always precious. As any gift from a loved one would be ....

So here's to nine years more blogging! Maybe? We'll see ...

:)

And thanks, as always, for stopping by ... I'll be back here again just as soon as I can!


More Q & A: Storing Seasonal Ideas

Binder love 1

Hello, friends and a Good Wednesday, to all!

I have a great journal question from Emma today:

Hello, Dawn ... If you find a craft idea or recipe for, say St. Patrick's day in mid-January, do you glue it in your daily clip book now and then file it away to use for March? Or, does it stay in your darling book and you read back to find it later? I truly love these posts! Sincerely, Emma

 Oh, Emma, one of my favorite things to discuss: finding and saving (with hopes of using) seasonal ideas! Thank you for your kinds words - I am so glad you are enjoying these posts. :)

Now, I must be perfectly honest and first say that, although I am quite diligent about the finding of information - information junkie, right here! - I'm not always so organized about the storage (and retrieval) part of the equation. My problem is that - as I've confessed previously - as much as I love adding stuff to my journal, I'm a bit loosey-goosey about the endgame procedure. I do read back over my journals quite often, but the indexing of information does not happen as consistently as it should.

So you've inspired me, Emma! I am going to get better at this, starting now. I'm thinking of our recent conversations when I say: my journals are beautiful to me, but they should be useful, too! :) I recently re-vamped my seasonal planning binders (shown above) and re-ordered their insides a bit ... added new tabs and weeded through the miscellaneous (messy) papers and whatnot. I will go into greater detail about all this in my (forthcoming) "Binder Breakdown" post ... but here's a glance at my "Deep Winter" planning binder:

Journal binder 3

The front cover features a January inspiration page ...

Journal binder 5

... while the backside shows February's page.

(These are the decorative monthly pages I made when creating my binder - but ended up leaving out, lest the planner become too bulky.)

Also Emma, you inspired me to bring my old journals out of storage - because I am going to go back through them, one season at a time, and find all that "saved" information! I have not looked at my old journals since we moved here (two years ago this summer); as of now, they are in storage boxes in the garage. So I went down there yesterday and picked out the ones that are timely for Winter and will start combing through them ...

Journal binder 2

Here are a few ... I can't wait to dig in and revisit all those Winters from years ago!

(Note: These small books are quite different from the large Yearbook system I use now! But for many years I used these basic little notebooks and was perfectly happy with them. I would choose a patterned paper for the cover and then I'd tape my Mary Engelbreit daily calendar page on top to denote the start date. Lastly, I'd add a pretty ribbon as a pagefinder. There was usually a couple of months' worth of journaling in each notebook, but I could never write past the mid-point because they'd get too bulky from all the clippings! And this is why I moved on to the loose-leaf system I use now.)

Oh, and speaking of pretty journals, I want to share a link with you all for Shirley Ann's lovely blog, Under an English Sky, where recently she shared a bit about her own domestic daybook.  Our journaling style is very similar, and what a pleasure it is to be on the same page - so to speak - with Shirley! Today's snow pictures are not to miss, either ... :)

But to get back to your question, Emma - in the scenario you described, what I would do (ideally) is add that St. Patrick Day craft or recipe to the journal and then make a note of the idea in my seasonal planner (Early Spring: March-April) index. If the idea was not suitable for my journal I would add it directly to the planning binder OR to the Food binder under "Seasonal." (I currently have hanging folders with recipes that need to be sorted this way!) I don't keep seasonal recipes in my seasonal planning binders, simply because there are too many of them!

So here are a few examples ... these are pages from last year's journal (now stored away in my 2014 Yearbook):

Journal binder 7

On this page there is a moisturizing soap craft that I thought would be nice for the wintertime - the sweet almond fragrance, the dry winter skin issue ... I'd add that to the Crafts/Activities tab. (With a note to dry marigold petals next summer!)

Journal binder 8

This shows a cute plastic cup snow-globe craft. I'd also note this in the Crafts/Activities tab.

Journal binder 10

 Above is shown a baked grapefruit donut recipe - which sounds perfect for citrus season! I'd note this in the Food tab.

And here's one last example, because I just added this one today:

Purple jars in journal

These gorgeous purple Ball jars ... oh, MY! My lovely friend Tanya linked them for me on my Facebook page because we share a love of Mason jars, and immediately we thought of how they might work nicely in Lenten (or Advent) crafts and activities ... Friends chimed in - Mary Ellen, Jennifer and Donna (who also linked solar-lantern lids which make the whole thing EVEN more intriguing!) - and we all oohed and aahed together ...

So that I would remember this - not just the jars, but the fun, friendly interchange too - I opened the image in a new tab, printed it out, cut it out, and added it to today's journal page. It's a fond memory and a potential activity at the same time!

So what I will do is this - I will make note of this product/potential ideas in my Early Spring binder (under the Lent tab) and the Late Autumn binder (under the Advent tab). I will also add "order ball jars" to my "to-do list" because they are already sold out at Amazon and I feel they might be difficult to find elsewhere!

*** 

Well!

As usual, I have gone on long enough, I think! But I hope this rambly post answered your question, Emma - please let me know if I can describe things more clearly. It really isn't a perfect "system" at all, but I do enjoy it and hope to make it work better for me with a little time and effort!

:)

Enjoy your evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon! 


More Q & A: journal = scrapbook?

Oliver in sunny window 1

Good morning, my friends! And Happy Monday!

I am checking in quickly this morning - it was a busy weekend and a very late night last night as we cheered on our beloved Patriots ... but I'm quite happy to say this morning that we are going to The Superbowl!! Well, not us personally of course - but our team will be there! And we'll be there too, if only in spirit, watching at home in New England.

:)

Anyhoo, suffice it to say I was not able to watch Downton Abby last night (or TGBBC either). I hope to catch them one night this week and when I do I will get a "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can chat - only it will probably be more like "Masterpiece Wednesday or Thursday."

So today, I'm a bit sleepy-eyed and slow-moving (much like my Oliver up top), but I'm going to do some catch-up here as I find time. So many of you have left wonderful comments and I can't wait to read and digest and respond. I will also continue working on several upcoming journal/planner drafts, and while I don't have any of them quite ready to post yet, I will answer this quick question from Kelly, because I think I have a pretty brief answer.  

I thought of one additional question, Dawn - could your journal be described as a scrapbook? I love the idea of it but as I mentioned, I tend to keep parts of my life organized differently so I'm having a hard time seeing how this fits in. Understanding it as a scrapbook helps me to understand this better.

Kelly, my journal is a collage of memories and observations, mostly about family, current events and the turn of the seasons. I don't, however, include photographs or stickers ... and it's not all that planned ahead or thought out. And I don't really show other people (though I certainly could and hope I might someday).

So I consider my journal habit to be a form of scrapbooking, just maybe not as formal or clever. I dabbled in Scrapbooking, as a hobby, many years ago when Bookworm was little. I attended "Creative Memories" parties and subscribed to Creating Keepsakes ... and collected TONS of scrapbooking supplies. I remember when I started blogging I called it a kind of "online scrapbooking" ... and that's when my love of photography and capturing memories really kicked in. I couldn't seem to sit down and create pages, but I could upload photos to my computer and write (rather lengthy) texts to go along with them.

Our photos now are stored here at my blog and on my (personal) Facebook page as well as on our home computer. Oh, and my phone. Bill just offloaded about 1100 pictures because I'd used up my storage space - in about a month, lol!

(All that said, I think digital photography has made true, in-your-hands photo albums, a rarity these days. And that's a shame, because those types of memory books are wonderful to display and share with friends and family. That might be a great topic for a post - storing and sharing family photos - though, come to think of it, we might have done that already, lol ... )

Well, this wasn't as brief as I thought it would be, but I hope I've answered your question, Kelly. Please let me know if that cleared things up for you, and if it didn't, feel free to ask for more clarification. Thanks so much for reading and caring and sharing!

One more shot of Oliver because ... well, just because:

Oliver in sunny window 2

:)

My friends, I hope you will excuse a bit of a pause as I get my gears going this week - we're heading back to formal lessons and everything else that comes with it! (I've made note of several homeschool-planning questions and have a draft started!) And I think I might have found a solution for my weekly planning sheet/clipboard conundrum. Photos to come! 

Enjoy your Monday, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


More Q & A: journal vs. planner?

 Hello, my friends ~ how's your weekend going? It's a nice Saturday here - bright, sunny and cold. Look what I put up in our kitchen window this morning:

Carnations in window 1

A whole bunch of pretty white carnations - a January tradition in our house! Next week we'll add drops of food dye to the water and see how the petals change color ...

:)

Now, before I launch into the actual Q & A, I first want to say that I am doing these posts as a way of clarifying things I've mentioned previously but have perhaps not been clear (always a risk when one's as wordy as I am!) and to open up a discussion with other like-minded people. And obviously to answer specific questions! What I don't mean to imply - in any way at all - is that I'm some sort of all-knowing expert on journals and journaling or planners and planning!

*grimaces just thinking about that misperception*

Ok, hardly! Lol. It's just that I focus a lot of time and energy on this topic and I absolutely LOVE comparing notes, thinking out loud, and hearing how others do things ... I find your comments so interesting and insightful! And I'm thrilled when readers connect here and help each other out. Please always feel free to jump in and chat! And of course I always love more questions ...

So today's journal/planner question is from Amy and it concerns both journal and planner:

I have a new question. Maybe someday you will have time to answer it. And of course we would love a post about mothers, and time! I'd write it myself if I had the time, lol!

Q: How do you use this domestic journal separate from your weekly planner? Is it not redundant, in a way?

Journal vs planner 1

Amy, I really love this question because it's one I mull over myself sometimes. I'm always trying to reign myself in and simplify things ... because I tend to create more tools than I probably need. But the short answer is Yes, the journal and planner are a bit redundant ... in some ways. But they each serve a unique purpose and I could not do without one or the other!

Now for the long answer ...

The journal is free-form and fluid ... a continuous stream of thought. It's filled with wordy blurbs I wouldn't put in my planner (nature notes, family memories, lesson ideas) and clippings of all kinds. It's a bit messy to be sure - but for me, that kind of adds to the charm. :)

Journal page

With the journal I get to unload all the thoughts and ideas and observations that cross my brain throughout the day. They are usually seasonal or timely in some way. I add bits of magazines, newpapers, ticket stubs and other random memorablia. It lets me be creative and a bit "artsy" (if quite humbly so) and when I look back at it (even years later) it brings me SUCH joy. I get a real feel for the time in which it was written - the season, the year and where we were in those days as a family. Reading about the things that mattered then and the things the boys were doing is a gift. I never worry about my journal being "perfect" because its very imperfection makes it precious.

On the other hand, the planner is more formal, with more of a framework, and its pages are all assigned a date. With the planner, I get a grasp on what's happening when, where we're going, when we're home, what's important or special this week and what my family needs from me. If Crackerjack tells me he needs a stick of butter for Spanish class on Thursday (lol, true story), I write it in the planner - because on Thursday I'll be reviewing that agenda. I could write that in the journal because it's a neat remembrance, but it would have far less chance of being remembered when it's needed!

This new planner I made with a bit more flourish - space for doodles and quotes, for instance - but that's just because I'm hoping it might help me write that book I have in mind. And also, because when I think of the "perfect" planner, should one exist, each week's page would have a very seasonal and personal feel. The trick though is to keep it clean and not too cluttered. It's a tough balance. I've toyed with the idea of using colored pens as many people do ... but I can't break away from the pencil habit.

I keep both the journal and planner on my workspace at all times and my workspace is usually my kitchen counter. It's a comfort to me to have them both in the open in this way so I can work easily in one or the other - or both!

Amy, I feel like I talked in circles a bit, so if I can clarify further, please let me know. I am typing this up while Little Bear naps and he's making little snuffly noises so my "free" time is coming to an end. Thank you for asking your question and for your contribution to this ongoing conversation ... I look forward to chatting more!

My friends, enjoy your Saturday evening ... my boys are "making me" watch Toy Story 3, lol - because I've actually never seen it and "that just won't do." ;) Sounds good to me ... homemade pizzas are in the oven and I have a salad to toss, so I'll be off!

See you here again very soon!


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 ...


My 2014 Domestic Journal

Well, I've called it a lot of things over the years - my clippings journal, my hodgepodge book, my commonplace book, my brain dump, lol - but whatever its name, the thing itself remains the same: a notebook in which I keep the bits and bobs of my everyday life. Any little thing that comes to mind or catches my eye. Thoughts, ideas, observations ... magazine and newspaper clippings, movie ticket stubs, a post-it note from a friend. It's almost like a very (very) low-tech Pinterest ... only without all the links and efficiency. :)

I've been keeping these journals for years and years, and usually they were kept in spiral-bound notebooks. Lately though, I've taken to using loose-leaf paper and transferring completed pages (after a month's time) to a large storage binder, which I've entitled, "Yearbook."

Domestic journal 9 

(I'm all about naming things these days, aren't I?)

So I keep the current month's pages in my everyday binder, which is kept open on my kitchen counter so I may write in it easily throughout the day. The plan is that at the end of the week I read back over my entries to see if there's anything to follow up on or file away ... and at the end of the month, I file the pages into the storage binder, behind a monthly tab. This is the plan anyway, it doesn't always work out that way! Case in point, I'm still going back over and indexing last year's journal ...

Some of you have seen this before, and some of you have something similar of your own (and some of you are bored silly by this very topic, lol!), but I share this in case it gives someone some journaling inspiration. I know a lot of folks' New Years begin with a goal to write more! Of course, journaling can be much lovelier than this, but this is what works for me. If I were to make it "lovelier" and use a very special book and write carefully and slowly and as prettily as I could, well, I'd just never do it. Plain and simple. Instead, I keep it super casual and fliud so there's no real pressure ... just an open page where I can throw down my thoughts everyday. And what comes of it is very satisfying to me and I like to think someday, someone in my family might get a kick out of reading about my very "domestic" days.

So for those who are curious and/or new readers, here's a peek at some of the pages from my 2014 Yearbook: 

Domestic journal 1

 A January page-spread has some magazine clippings I liked - things that said "winter" to me, as well as a craft project idea and a few notes about the weather, a family dinner, and current events.

Domestic journal 2

A February page spread has snippets about upcoming tv shows, winter vegetables, a page from my Downton calendar (a recipe for Apple Charlotte) and a post-it note with some (meaningful) scribbles (done on his own, when no one was looking).

Domestic journal 3

March pages inlcude yet more weather notes, a lovely quote, snippets from magazines about local events to attend someday, and a jaunty Calendar page (Mary Englebreit).

Domestic journal 5

These pages from the summer were taken from a magazine that caught my eye - love the decorating style here!

Domestic journal 6

Early September - learning notes and lesson ideas, autumn party tips, recipes, a couple of things Earlybird said, a blog post idea, a post-it note from a homeschool class.

Domestic journal 7

More seasonal recipes and notes from early May - rhubarb and herby things - a note about one of the children having a dry throat. (I erased names in these pictures for privacy, but the note was referring to Bookworm who was about to begin final exams!)

Domestic journal 11

And finally, above is my current journal page, shown here in my active planning binder, open on my kitchen counter as we "speak." There are magazing clippings (a bit of after-Christmas inspiration), notes about the weather (of course!), a bird sighting, lesson ideas re ~ American tall tales, and an organizing idea from a catalog. In the middle of the spread is a page-marker which lists my weekly cleaning schedule (what to clean Monday, and so forth) and a post-it-note where I check off routine daily tasks such as feed cats/give meds/get mail/tidy/review/pray (with a column for each day of the week). Behind the journal section are my month-at-a-glance calendars and some more tabs that have yet to be labeled.

And there you have it! 

This morning I've written notes about the bitter cold (16 degrees!), a new show on the Smithsonian Channel to check out (Million Dollar Princesses - hosted by "Cora Grantham" from Downton Abbey), a warning about local coyotes, and a cute thing Little Bear did this morning (grabbed Earlybird's jacket and ran after him calling, "La! La!" which is what he calls EB.).

So there's a little of this, a little of that ... and it's so good to get things out of my head and down on paper ... nice also, to go back later on and read "what was what" at that time in my life. :)

Now, before I go, I wanted to mention that Friday (Jan. 9th) is "National Clean Off Your Desk Day" which I think is a great idea at this time of year! I plan to take the next couple of days to work on my desk area in the living room and then I will post about it over the weekend. I hope you will join me!

Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


My 2015 Planner (Living the Seasons)

Planner 4

Happy Weekend, my friends!

In tonight's post I am finally going to show you my newly made weekly planner, and in a follow-up post I will show you the rest of my planning tools and how the new planner will (hopefully) fit into the overall planning repertoire. Such as it is.

(This post is about planning in case you weren't sure, lol.)

Planner 3

But to be honest, I'm a bit shy about showing you now, because it's really a very simple thing. Like, super simple. It is though, all hand-drawn because ... well, I'm just that persnickity. And so it took me a bit longer than usual to pull it all together. And if the hand-drawing part wasn't enough, I also have a toddler in the house ... and a few more boys plus a husband ... and a couple of cats ... and there was that little thing called Christmas that happened ... ;)

Anyhoo! It's a weekly planner - because I really look at my time in increments of *this week* and all that applies to that framework of time. How busy will we be? When are we in/when are we out? What special events are we noting/observing/celebrating perhaps? What will our Sunday dinner be? What learning themes are we working around? What's happening at Church this week? What household projects am I tackling?

And now for the breakdown ...

Planner 6

1. Planner Covera pretty piece of scrapbook paper seen above, plain and simple. (I've since attached a label as seen in the top photos.) I declined the plastic cover sheet offered by Staples when I had the binding done, just as I always do. "But it's free," the Staples associate said, eyebrows raised. Well, that plastic just doesn't sit right with me, so I guess I'll have to take my chances.

Planner 2

2. Planner Paper: Ok, bear with me now ... I used all Staples-brand, loose-leaf, college-ruled paper. (I told you this was nothing fancy!) I have been journaling on this particular paper for a long time and it just feels good when I write on it. (Paper-and-pen enthusiasts will know what I mean.) It's very smooth, the lines are light and I'm very comfortable with it, so when I was getting my planner started I thought, why not use my regular ol' loose-leaf? So what if there are holes along the edges? I can overlook that. (I'm pretty sure.) And it took the coil binding just fine.

Planner 1

3. Title Page: "Living the Seasons ~ at Home * in Nature * with Faith ~ a weekly planner for 2015" Now, I've never named my planner before, but as I've mentioned, I'm trying to planning to going to write a book this year and I'm hoping this planner will provide something of an outline for my writing.

(You see how simple this all is? Just regular pencil on everyday paper ... I was tempted to try using colored pens or pencils ... maybe washi tape ... and get a little more creative with it, but I held off. I hope I will add my own random flourishes through the seasons as inspiration strikes.)

4. Emergency and Personal Information - I didn't include a photo of this page for privacy reasons, but this is on the backside of the title page, and includes numbers I need to know and remember (for myself or someone else should they need it). Allergy information, and the like.

Planner 5

5. Months of the Year Overview: (Shown above.) Basically, this is an outline of the major events of the 12 months of the year. Things like birthdays, feast days, Sacraments, full moons, major sporting events (the ones we care about) and daylight savings time, etc.

Planner 18

6. Weeks of the Year Overview: This might seem redundant, but it helps me to see each week listed out this way. It's a two-page spread with one line for each week, Jan-Jun on the left-hand page and Jul-Dec on the right. With this overview I can see at a glance (and maybe underline or highlight in some way) the specific events we will focus on, and this will give shape to my weekly themes. (eg. 1/19-2/25 snowflakes and shortbread)

Planner 12

7. Monthly Appointment Calendars: Because I envision myself taking this planner out and about with me, I'll need these calendars when making appointments at the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, etc.

*By the way, I used an engineering ruler to make all the grids, columns and rows, etc. (My dad is a structural engineer and I've always preferred this style ruler.) It seems like a lot of work - but while it is time-consuming, it's not hard at all. It's actually quite rhythmic.

Planner 13

8. Looking Ahead to 2016: Notes for that year ... any big plans or events or hopes (academic activities, career goals, home/garden projects, travel plans, etc.)

Planner 14

9. Weekly Goals/Routine: An overview of how I wish to use each section in the weekly planning page: of note, theme, suppers, to-do, at home, in nature, with faith, blog, $ log, intentions

Planner 15

10. Around the Home ~ Monthly Projects: I have a monthly cleaning schedule for myself this year - I've divided the house by rooms/zones and assigned walls to weeks. That sounds strange, I know, but I will explain more in a future post. (January is assigned the Master Bedroom and I begin with one wall a week ... hoping to complete the circuit of the house by Christmas, 2015!) I have it typed out on my phone (written during nursing/naptimes!) and will transcribe the schedule here on this page.

Planner 20

11. The Months & Weeks of the Year: And here we are at last at the heart of the planner! Each month has a pretty vintage paper divider (and I might eventually add a tab), a sheet for a monthly letter from myself to ... well, myself, lol. About homey, domestic, garden and parish matters and such. And then there are two planning pages per week which I have shown below ...

*Note: I've already changed this part a bit - instead of that chatty letter, I am using this sheet for general notes for the month. For example, "Visit New England Aquarium" in March and "Attend backyard chickens seminar at local co-op" in April. The "domestic letter" is being moved to another spot ...

The February divider page:

Planner 21

The April divider page (back side) and the April, 2015 domestic letter page:

Planner 8

The weekly planning sheet for Week #14 (March 30 - April 5):

Planner 10

The planning sections I created are: of note (special days/events) * theme (tea/craft) * suppers * to-do * at home * in nature * with faith * blog * $ log * notes * intentions (prayer). (This is the sheet I used to staple to the front of my file folders.)

The week-at-a-glance agenda:

Planner 17

I modeled this planner set-up after a Payne planner I've used off and on through the years - and though I liked it, it always left me wanting something a little more personal. I have space all around for notes and quotes, scribbles and remembrances ... and the space at the bottom of each column is for daily chores and reminders (eg. clean bedrooms (M), clean bathrooms (T), etc.).

The weekly review:

Planner 22

(Sorry this picture isn't so great!) The final page in each week's section is a review page with a section for each of my four boys, where I can jot down notes about their week. Lessons/activities/things they said or did. The college boy's section is the small spot at the bottom since I'll probably have the least to say about him!

(Ok, true confession - I only finished drawing the pages up through May so far. But all the pages and sheets for the rest of the year are bound in there ... they just need a little pencil work and they'll be ready to go. I will get them done soon as I like to plan ahead as much as possible.)

***

Now, the last section of the planner is just an extra bunch of sheets for notes and then at the very back I have a piece of tagboard to make the planner sturdy:

Planner 23

(Fyi, I bought a package of tagboard for a couple of dollars at the Paper Source.)

Here's a look at all the divider pages - each month has such a pretty page with floral/seasonal images on front and then old-fashioned text on the back as seen here ...

Planner 7

 On New Year's Day, I brought my (mostly) done planner to Staples where a very nice associate bound it for me for all of $4. (I always choose coil over comb binding.) It wasn't the first time I had a planner bound here but I am always a little shy about doing so because well, some people just don't get it. Not that anyone's ever said anything to me, but I sometimes wonder what on earth they are thinking as they see all my scribbles and goals and designs. But what was kind of neat was this woman happened to be an avid letter writer (she thought I might be making a journal) who has pen pals all over the world. She said I had given her an idea to have her letters (all hand-written and many pages long) bound in this way, as keepsakes. I was very glad to have given her an idea and support a fellow (sister?) paper-crafter!

(I also left thinking ... could I write and bind my own book ... and then sell it online? Hmmm. Totally getting away from myself now ... and the subject at hand!)

Planner 11 

So there you have it, my friends - everything you ever wanted to know about my new weekly planner - and then some! (Though if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.) I've only had it a few days, but so far I LOVE IT. The planner lies flat and the paper is smooth and the pages turn comfortably ... it looks and works like a regular spiral-bound notebook, only I hand selected the pages myself. Most of all, I'm hoping it helps me keep up with my busy household while truly savoring the seasons as they pass ... :)

 **

I'll wrap up now - I've kept you so long! But I thank you as always for joining me and wish you all a pleasant evening and a happy Sunday tomorrow. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... and I'll see you here again very soon!


Also ... it's National Handwriting Day!

Handwriting

Interesting article about handwriting here ... a little holiday fun to explore on National Handwriting Day, otherwise known as John Hancock's birthday. Loops, dots and slants all say something about us, apparently ... so some of it's crazy - but still fun!

:)

My friends, do you enjoy writing at all? And by that I mean, the physical act of putting pen or pencil to paper as opposed to composing a report or letter. I loooove to hand-write things, and I write in my journal/planner every single day. Without fail. (Except for the handful of times I was in the hospital - having babies and a gallbladder removed.) It's more than a habit, it's a bit of an obsession - don't get me started on paper weight and pen flow - but I figure it's a fairly healthy one.

I write down things that seem (are) completely random, but to me, these thoughts/notes/lists/memories make up the fabric of my life. Journaling helps me process and it keeps my wheels turning ... and it's kind of fun to read these words again years later. I have a post around here somewhere that goes a bit deeper into my handwriting vs. typing opinions, but I'm not in a position to dig it up right now ...

(Meaning, I'm very tired and I'm turning in to bed!)

Have yourselves a good night, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


Rambling Thoughts on Handwriting ~ a Fond, yet Fading Art

In looking over my January notes (handwritten notes, yes!) I see that National Handwriting Day is coming up ~ it takes place on the 23rd of the month, which also happens to be John Hancock's birthday, he of bold handwriting fame. :)

Now, I've made no secret of my fondness for paper and pen, so perhaps I'm a bit biased when I say I think this article rocks:

"Mom, what was handwriting? A novelist examines what we lose as we abandon cursive for typing."

I came across it in the Sunday Boston Globe, and it really got me thinking (as the length of this post can clearly attest). I enjoyed the article so much in fact, that I've requested the discussed book, The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, from the library, and I'm quite eager to read it ... and, naturally, take notes. :)

I do love the written word however it is delivered - I relish reading and I am an avid (albeit amateur) journalist, in both a personal and public way. I write a (public) blog and I also keep (private) journals. I like to think my "voice" is authentic in both mediums, but there's something extra-special about the words I've written out by hand ...

"There’s nothing nicer than going back over things you’ve written in the past. Those things on paper do take you back to a particular time and a particular place where you were when you were writing this stuff. When I look at my book in print, I can’t remember where I was when I wrote anything. When I come across one of my notebooks, I can remember." ~ Author, Philip Hensher

Journals

I write all kinds of stuff in my journals and though they are intensely personal - a "brain dump" if you will, written only for myself - I do think that someday my progeny might get a kick out of what I wrote, and how I wrote it. Maybe these journals will help them know me, and life in my time, in a way they might otherwise not.

Without a doubt our society is heading away from handwriting, so I think it's important that handwriting enthusiasts keep the "art" alive in any way that we can. So I'm resolving this year to write more by hand. Now, I already write a lot for myself, so this would mean more handwritten correspondence - for example, our Christmas cards. Although I do love our cards (Shutterfly is brilliant!), and I truly appreciate the ease with which I can order, assemble and mail said cards come (busy) December - I have vowed that next year I will take the time to write something personal inside each greeting. Whether it be a handwritten signature (rather than the pre-printed variety) or a slip of paper with a brief message of holiday cheer ... it will hopefully be something that forms a deeper connection with our family and friends. Because I think when we write someone a note by hand it links its message back to us in a way that a type-font cannot ...

"Take pleasure in your own handwriting even when it’s scrappy and individual, because that’s the handwriting that your friends and loved ones will take the most pleasure in, because it’s you. Do it every day." ~ Author, Philip Hensher

Recently a friend of mine commented that she treasures anything handwritten by her late father, and it made me think of those little notes I've got stashed away that were written by my grandmother ... little post-it notes in her scratchy blue ink that say "Save for Dawn" or "Show this to Bookworm." Because she was always just that way - putting aside interesting things to share with her children and grandchildren - and great-grandchildren! Gram was a great reader and her family meant more to her than anything else. Anyone who knew her knew these things about her. And yet I particularly love those little notes because for one thing, her handwriting's like mine, (or I guess I should say, mine is like hers) and for another, it helps me remember her in a very personal way. It's a comfort even - it makes me feels like she's not so far away ...

Now, I hope I don't sound preachy - I know that technology appeals to many folks as strongly as pen and paper do to me. And I'll confess, I find myself conflicted at times. Like any (relatively) modern mother I have a lot on my plate and I'm too often pressed for time. So the need to be "quick and efficient" is always present. (Annnd that's a whole other post.) But combine my love for all things handwritten with my general discomfort/inexperience with technology (not to mention my resistance to change) and it's no wonder I stick with my "old school" preferences. I know a lot of people are like me to some degree, and yet many folks just naturally gravitate towards technology.

My husband, for instance, is something of a "technerd," if I may use that term loosely and with a bit of cheek. ;) Bill understands computers, and technology in general, in a way I could never hope to; this has made him more successful in his career, and it brings him enjoyment as well. So it's no surprise he uses his iPhone for everything and then some: schedules, reminders, correspondence, shopping lists, travel plans, etc. ... all things I prefer to write out by hand. But we are equally competent in, and satisfied with, our organizational method. For the most part. :)

So I save some of Bill's emails (the ones of a more intimate nature), in a special "inbox" folder - alongside any links and cute emails the boys send me. Just as I save every card my dear ones have given me in a bedroom drawer. Preferences aside - penned or typed -communication is what's important. Love is love, however it's expressed.

OK, enough of my rambling! Today dear readers, I'm curious ~ how much do you write by hand these days, and what areas of your life have you turned over to technology?

Shopping lists?

Thank you notes?

Casual correspondence?

Holiday cards?

Journaling?

Recipes?

*

And if you homeschool, do you teach your children cursive? Do they practice penmanship in any formal way? And if your kids are in school, did/do they learn cursive at some point?

Please leave a comment below if you have thoughts on the subject, as well as the time to share them! Generations ago - if I were a professional and this was say, a newspaper column - I'd wait for your responses to be mailed in. It's nice that in this setting we can share thoughts immediately - much more does get done with technology, it's hard not to recognize that. It is a changing and ever-progressing world, but like the old saying goes, why throw out the baby with the bathwater?

"We maintain a mixed relationship with food. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we call in for a delivery, and sometimes, like on Christmas Day, we start from scratch preparing food for people that we love. Why can’t handwriting be like that?" ~ Philip Henshaw

P.S. I'm organzing my "correspondence drawer" this weekend - an annual January task - and I will be happy to share it all with you once I'm done. :)

Well my friends, as always, I thank you for stopping by today, and wish you all a happy day!

See you here again sometime soon ...



A Few Quick Q & A's ...

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your week's off to a great start!

First of all, I'd like to say thank you for all the "happy anniversary" wishes! It was a very nice day - then and now - and I'm glad you all enjoyed seeing a few of our wedding photos. As many of you remarked, we were (are) indeed blessed - and I try to remember and give thanks for that every day!

Now, currently we're in the midst of our "crazy" day here - "Mad Mondays" we like to call them, lol. It's two minutes to four, and my kitchen's a MESS! - but I wanted to take a moment to finish up this post, addressing a few recent questions.

Tammy asked about housekeeping lists ...

By any chance, did you post the seasonal housekeeping besides October anywhere? I'm looking for Spring, Summer, Winter ones too.

Tammy, please check out this archive in which you'll find my collection of monthly "Themes & Plans" posts. I include a housekeeping list for each month of the year (as well as garden, nature, faith and food lists).

Here are direct links to each monthly post:

November Housekeeping

December Housekeeping

January Housekeeping

February Housekeeping

March Housekeeping

April Housekeeping

May Housekeeping

June Housekeeping

July Housekeeping

August Housekeeping

September Housekeeping

October Housekeeping

You know, I wrote these lists over four years ago, but except for the movable dates (i.e. holidays and such) I find them pretty timeless. In fact, I refer to them every year as I plan a month or a season ahead! For easy reference, I printed out all the posts and filed them in my homekeeping binder, under my "Living" tab. :)

***

Teresa inquired about pens ...

Dawn, What is the brand of your favorite pen??

Teresa, I can be quite (ridiculously) obsessive about pencils and pens! (And don't get me started on paper, lol!) Currently my favorite pens are made by Uni-ball and they are called Jetstream pens. I like the blue ink best, but I always keep a few black and reds handy.

Pens1 

In the background are shown a few of my Crackerjack's favorite pens ... the Papermate "Flair" (medium tip). He seems to have inherited his mama's finickiness when it comes to writing instruments! (He uses his for drawing however, whereas I use mine primarily for writing.) Also, for labeling things (like file folders and binder tabs) I like a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point marker (not shown). 

***

And finally, Kristie asked about the notepad shown in this post ...

Where did you find the notepad with the date and list on the left? Looks like a very useful tool!

Kristie, I buy these notepads at Target - they have quite an array of office supplies! These pads are made by a company called "greenroom," and they come in a soft ecru with aqua or avocado accents. They are indeed a very useful stye of notepad! Perfect for to-do lists or project planning pages. I also love "greenroom" notebooks - I use a small one for my weekly shopping diary and a larger one for my weekly planning sheets. 

Here's a close-up ...

Notepad1

(This is a page from my holiday planner - post under way!) 

***

Well, that's all I have time for today, but I hope these bits and bobs of information were helpful to you! Thanks so much for stopping by ...

I'll see you all again very soon!

:)


Opinions, please ...

Some of my readers noticed my little "confession" in yesterday's post that I'm thinking of writing a book.Pink-flowers-mug Well, here's the thing ... I'm just not sure what to write about! So many subjects interest me - organizing ideas (the file crate for instance), balancing family life (and home education), nature-based learning (monthly activities), and seasonal celebrations (big and small), etc. - but I'm an expert in nothing. I'm having a hard time narrowing my focus, so today I thought I'd ask my faithful readers for their opinions ... 

What kind of book would you be interested in reading - if it was written by me?

Of course who knows if anything will ever come of this writing venture ... I have no contacts or prospects at present, and goodness knows I have little spare time ... but I figure it's time to start doing something and see how it goes. :)

Any and all thoughts would be very welcome!

P.S. Have a terrific Tuesday, my friends ... Mama's got a brand new desk to set up today so you'll be getting a learning room post before long. ;)


Notes from my Blogging Meeting, Part 1

Last week I hosted my homeschool support group's monthly meeting, and as hostess I got to choose the topic of discussion. I chose the theme of blogging and, more specifically, how blogging can be used as a homeschooling tool. It was fun to explore the reasons - especially my reasons - for blogging and to share the ways I fit blogging into my life as a busy homeschooling mom. Here are the minutes (embellished with hindsight and reflection of course) from my meeting.*

(*Note: I decided to break this post up into two parts because Part 1 got entirely too long!)

The ladies who joined me last Thursday night are not currently blogging, but were familiar with blogs and are considering the endeavor for themselves. After some casual chat, and after filling up our cups and plates with some goodies, we sat down to start the meeting ...

What is a blog?

A blog is basically a type of website that provides a format for posting journal-style entries and photographs along with links to all kinds of things - other blogs, websites, book recommendations, etc. A blog can be private (password-protected) or public. It can be used for professional or personal purposes.

It seemed easiest to explore the general concept of blogging by explaining how I got into blogging myself. 

Blogging, yes or no?

About four years ago I found myself reading several blogs kept by some wonderful ladies I met at the 4Real Forums. I loved the format - and I loved reading what other homeschooling moms were doing with their families: how they were handling lessons and home life, how they were celebrating holidays and special events in their lives. The photos were wonderful, and so was the conversation. I started thinking about blogging myself ... but at the time I was a hardcore "paper" journalist. I have always kept journals - simple notebooks filled with notes, scraps of paper, clippings from magazines, this that and a little bit of everything. I am very much a paper kind of gal - technology tends to befuddle me - so I hesitated to blog ... but before long the tempation became too strong to resist. One afternoon, I just sat down at Typepad and within an hour I had myself a blog! 

Blogging platforms ...

I didn't have much information to share about other blogging platforms (Blogger/Blogspot, Wordpress, Homeschoolblogger) because I've always used Typepad. And since Typepad was (and is) so easy to use, I've stuck with it. I do use the Pro level account because I wanted to be able to create more than one blog and I also wanted greater design options. This means I pay for my blog - but I find it's worth it.

Why I blog ...

So I explained how I initially considered blogging ... but I went on to describe the appeal blogging held for me. In addition to journaling, another hobby I enjoyed (sort of) was scrapbooking. I say "sort of" because I could never seem to find the time or space to get my scrapbooks going ... I knew how important it was to keep track of our family memories, and I LOVED the look of scrapbooks - choosing colors and pictures and stickers, etc. - but no matter how many times I started an album, I would get sidetracked with "real life" and materials would get hastily put away and forgotten. As a "hobby" it was frequently more frustrating than enjoyable. Not to mention I felt foolish owning so many scrapbooking materials and having so little to show for it all. When I first considered blogging I could see it as a way to "virtually" scrapbook. I would have the ability to capture memories AND play around with design as I liked to do. And of course, I didn't need a large space or a lot of materials to make it work.

Also, in my pre-mommy life, I was a writer by profession and I missed writing for an "audience." Of course in the beginning I had no idea who would be reading my posts (if anyone!) but I found it gratifying to get my thoughts down while honing my rusty writing skills. I know a lot of perspective bloggers balk at the thought of writing for an audience, but I found the more I blogged, the quicker I found "my voice" and the more easily the words came to me. Of course it helps that I am by nature a very wordy person!

Another benefit of blogging (and this is where the homeschooling part comes in) is I have an excellent record of what we are doing each month as a homeschooling family. This is helpful to me when I report in to the school system at the end of the year, but it is also an great way of keeping family and friends - especially those who don't see us more than a couple of times a year - in the loop with our lifestyle. As long as we've been homeschooling (10 years now) and as popular as homeschooling has become - I know it's still a real mystery to lots of folks. I love dispelling myths and helping people understand how actively we homeschool. We're hardly sitting at home every day isolated from the world - if anything we're out there almost every day in one way or another. We take part in lots of classes and field trips and group activities. Sure, most of our curriculum is accomplished at home, with a one-on-one focus (which is the beauty of the home learning experience) but so much of our time is spent in social situations, learning how to get along with - and learn from - others. I relish the chance to show people all that homeschooling can be - all that it is for my family ...

And if you've been reading my blog over the years, you know I also relish the chance to share ideas, and this is where my myriad interests come into play. I guess you could say I like to hear myself talk lol, but I found as I grew as a blogger that I liked to write informative posts on a wide variety of subjects - children's books, nature, crafts, my Catholic faith, food, seasonal celebrations. So my blog became a real hodgepodge of information - eclectic you  might say - and to this day you never know what I'll be talking about next!

Through blogging I found myself another new hobby, one that has quickly become a real passion of mine. Photography was something I never really thought much about before - as a mother I owned a camera of course, and took pictures when I could - but nowadays I keep my camera close at hand at all times. The best part is I have lots of snapshots of our family life from the past year, but I find photography feeds me personally as well. Taking pictures makes me feel creative - like an artist almost. I would love to draw and paint as my mum does (beautifully, with natural God-given talent) but I don't have that gift. I would love to sew or knit or create in some tangible way, but these hobbies never clicked with me. With photography I find that I can cast a speculative eye on a subject - be it a bird or a landscape or a table setting - and find the best angle to present the image to my readers. It's fun to try and catch the light just right or to see if a tight zoom makes a difference to my shot. The world is my canvas, my camera is my tool of trade - and I never would have found this part of me if it were not for my foray into blogging.

But perhaps the biggest reward of blogging is that I now find myself looking at life with a different set of eyes - more watchful, more thoughtful, more appreciative. Little things I might have barely noticed before - a grasshopper perched on the mailbox, a startlingly bright moon, the sounds of a wren in the woods - pique one sense or another and make me itch to jot down a note or snap a picture, so as to celebrate that brief precious moment before it's gone. I'm grateful to have this sense of wonder - in every day there are so many gifts just there for the taking. I am glad my lifestyle allows me - and my children - to slow down and savor the world around us.

Well, I've kept you long enough for today, so I'll wrap things up for now ~ and if you've read this far I thank you! In Part 2 I will share the rest of my meeting notes, with information on: 

  • Privacy issues (names, pictures, passwords)
  • Finding an audience/connecting with other bloggers
  • Maintaining a good attitude re blogging (i.e. the "grass is always greener" syndrome)
  • Finding the TIME to blog
  • Ideas on organizing a blog
  • Making money with a blog
  • Kids' blogs (more homeschool opportunities)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend - it's a long one for us (Bill has Monday off) and there's a lot of "to-do's" on my list. I'll be back again soon with part 2 ... in the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts on part 1, or any questions you might have for me. I will try my best to answer them as soon as I can.

Happy Blogging, Happy Reading, Happy Living! :)


On Blogging and Google Searches

Many bloggers have posted about the varied and often amusing google searches that Twowomenreadinghave led folks to their blog. Sometimes they make perfect sense, and sometimes they're downright ridiculous! (The searches I mean, not the bloggers!) I'm afraid I don't have anything wacky or weird to share, but I did track my google searches over the past few days, just so I could tell you all about them. Lol, it's not like I don't have better things to do - or blog about - but good golly, I put in the time so here I am to report! ;)

I always enjoy hearing how people find their way here, and of course it's especially nice when somebody finds me through family, friends or word-of-mouth. I suppose I speak for most bloggers when I say that I love it when someone leaves a comment to say "Hi, I'm reading! I found you through __."

Blogging is kind of a crazy thing when you stop to think of it. A blog can be a snapshot of somebody's life, but it can also be misleading. I've had people ask how it is that I'm always "up," "so organized" or why it is that I never seem to have "a bad day."

Well, let me be perfectly honest with you:

~ I am not always up. (And my husband can verify that, lol!) But I am, admittedly, a generally optimistic and hopeful person.

~ Sure, I love to organize - read about it, talk about it, plan for it - but as I've confessed before, that doesn't always mean I am organized, lol! (As anyone awaiting an email or letter from me knows!)

~ And as for bad days, well, I would never say a day here on earth with my loved ones is bad, but I do have those days when Bill comes home to find me tired, disheveled (dare I say irritable) and ready for my Calgon moment asap. ;)

And yet, knowing the true pain and suffering many folks deal with every day I know in my heart I've got it so good. I try to remember to be thankful, I try to make joy the biggest part of my day and I try to bring the best of it here. It's what energizes me, and it makes me want to share. I don't usually feel energized or much like sharing when dinner's late, the boys are bickering or the house is a mess. (And all those things do happen - sometimes on the same day!) Though I recognize for some people blogging is a great way to manage the ups and downs, to air out those griefs and grapple with the irritations of everyday life, that's just not me. It's not what I care to write about. But don't mistake for a second that I have it any more "together" than you do.

I was talking about blogging with my friends one night last week, and we all agreed that for we mums, especially we homeschooling mums, blogs help us feel connected in a way we couldn't maintain in real life. Our time, thoughts and energies are very much tied to our homes (and all those living creatures who come with it); making time for grownup cameraderie - let alone conversation - often impossible. But connecting with other mums - sharing ideas and support - is vital, I believe. Whether you read them or write them, blogs give us the medium we need to do just that. They keep our wheels turning, they keep us inspired. They offer us a nice break when the kids are happily employed; they give us somewhere to turn when immediate prayer or advice is needed. They are, in a way, our own generation's clothesline - even though our neighbors are only "next door" in the virtual sense.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, that's anybody's guess, but let me see if I can get myself back on track. Ah yes. Google searches.

So, I decided to give it a try. To reveal these particular links, you check your Sitemeter "referrals" (if you have Sitemeter, that is) and when someone comes in via google, you place your mouse over the link and within the code you can see what terms were part of the search. (You can also open the link and go directly to the google page if you wish.)

I had to do this over a period of days because probably 9 out of 10 searches were literally: by sun and candlelight blog. :) I think that is because my URL (dawnathome.typepad.com) actually has nothing to do with the name of my blog!

But now I have a good size list, so I'd like to share ~ the google searches that lead people to my blog:

  • What is Lent?
  • Taggerung chapter notes
  • Lenten stories and tales
  • Where can I find pussywillows?
  • Lent clip art
  • Winter field day games
  • Crafts for the 3rd week in Lent
  • Sunny window
  • Lent
  • How to make a bookmark for the one eyed giant by Mary Pope
  • Holy Wednesday (this one came from Wikipedia)
  • Free Lenten crafts for children
  • Lionboy lesson plans
  • What is Lent? (Again, unless it's the same person!)

I was kind of hoping there might be some really funny search terms, but I guess I write about mostly the same kinds of things, and from this list I see it's often about Lent!

So if you are someone who comes here regularly, I say thank you for making me part of your day. And if you are someone who just happened upon my blog through a google search, let me say welcome! I hope you find what you're looking for here, but if not, I hope you enjoy your time here anyway!

And to everyone reading tonight, I say keep warm, be well and I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. :)


It's a Book-Walk at Cay's!

So stop on by and throw your hat in the ring! By sending Cay your name and email Bookwalkmd_2_2address today, you stand a chance at winning one of three books! Now, I don't know just what books Cay is awarding - but I am sure any one of them will be a prize to treasure!

And speaking of treasures, this is a good opportunity for me to point out my new link to Christmas Mosaic, Cay's latest book! Look for the pretty green package over there on my righthand sidebar. :)

You might recall me mentioning Cay's earlier work, Catholic Mosaic from time to time ~ an invaluable resource for celebrating and understanding more about the liturgical year. Well, Cay's new book is destined to become equally beloved! Christmas Mosaic is an illustrated book study for Advent and Christmas, a program that will guide you and your children through the most beautiful weeks of the year!

It is more than just a book study, though! Oh to be sure, it's a booklist - and an amazing one at that, which in and of itself is worth its weight in gold - but there are also recipes and activities, reflections and reminscinces ... prayers, crafts and more! If you never even opened a book on the list, and just read through Cay's pages, you would come away inspired and eager to share the many blessings of the seasons with your family.

Inside Christmas Mosaic you will find ideas for:

  • Advent Week 1 (Decoration and Preparation)
  • Advent Week 2 (Giving, Santa Claus, St. Nicholas)
  • Advent Week 3 (Family, Hannukah)
  • Advent Week 4 (Nativity, Angels, Epiphany)
  • December birthday celebrations (and I have one in my family!)
  • A snowflake/winter reading discovery center
  • Craft ideas, recipes and coloring pages, too!

Honestly, as I have only had this book in my posession for a week now, I have just begun to sift through all the goodness inside. I have it open now at my workspace, and I am busily making notes for next week! I will of course be sharing with you all how we use this resource over the next month or more. And if you notice, just beneath the link to Christmas Mosaic (which will take you to the ordering page at Hillside Education), I have posted the books we'll be using for Week 1 of Advent; I will change these up as we move through the Christmas season.

Now, can I mention something else exciting about this book? :) Cay graciously invited several friends to write essays to be part of Christmas Mosaic. These are names I am sure you know from the blogosphere - friends old and new, whose words will ring welcome and true:

To say I was thrilled to be asked to participate in this project - to be part of this beautiful group of women - is the understatement of the year, and I am forever grateful to Cay for honoring me so!

Now, let me wrap this up so you can all get on with our day (as you well know, I tend to ramble when I'm excited about something!) and so you can get on over to Cay's Cajun Cottage and take your chance in the BookWalk

Good Luck! :)


Afternoon Comforts

Just some happy random pictures of my afternoon to share with you all. :) It is a gorgeous day here ... balmy, blustery, golden. Sure, it's a tad hot for late September, but the heat provided the perfect excuse to break my no-caffeine-after-two rule and mix up what could be my last iced coffee for a while ...

Afternoon1

The above picture started this post. I loved looking at that glass with its creamy cool concoction inside. I loved the dinosaurs in the background (Earlybird's) and the scattered journaling materials. So everyday, yet so comforting. That glass is old - it belonged to my grandparents before it became my own. The glasses have game birds etched on them (barely noticeable now) and I love them.

Afternoon2

Oh yes, and just to the left of my coffee glass is my current pile of goodies - my autumn magazines. I am savoring them slowly, in bits and pieces as I get a chance. I usually leave one open on the island counter, and flip through it as I can. But that Country Living issue has a fabulous article all about author and illustrator Susan Branch (who needs a magazine of her own, I think!), and I halted right there when I got to it, marked my spot and set it aside. I was not going to read such an article standing up at the kitchen counter, without a cup of something soothing and sweet! No, I am going to read it tonight, curled up in bed with a cup of decaf. chai tea. That's how you read an article about Susan Branch. ;)

I am also reading that book at the top, one I ordered sooo long ago from my most favorite book catalog, Chinaberry. Its full title is Under the Chinaberry Tree: Books and Inspirations for Mindful Parenting, and it is just that. Perfect, and that too I'm reading slowly, a few pages at a time (with some underlining and notetaking along the way). 

Another fun little thing this afternoon - I came across a folder jam-packed with stuff I saved from Autumn 2005. Little clipped bits of magazines and things I printed out online. Like a treasure trove of goodies from long ago, just in time for another fall this year. I made up a whole two page spread in my journal:

Afternoon3

Let me tell you a bit about what's there, if I may. This is a rare page with no actual writing by me - just visual inspiration. On the far left, a clipping from an herbal magazine about Angelica which I just learned is a traditional herb for Michaelmas (the archangel - hence the name). Also, there are some pictures of a beautiful woodland-themed Halloween party (with berried candy bark, meringue mushrooms, colorful sugared leaves and caramel apple cider). At the bottom is a label from a jar of pear baby food. Oh, the memories in that label! Earlybird was 3 in '05 and he still loved baby food! You see, he couldn't eat applesauce, so he'd have "babysauce" instead. I would make a cinnamon pear bread from 5 jars Of Healthy Times Juicy Golden Pears (yielding two loaves) and we all loved it! I especially loved the little moonlit owl label. I had this whole teatime thing dreamed up - mini pear breads and warmed juice served on a woodland picnic ... Boy, does my imagination get away with me - and that's just what journals are for!

On the right is a quote I liked, more autumnal pictures (a basket of apples and a platter of candy acorns), a strip from a new sheet of scrapbooking paper I love, and a book I am longing to order - Baking Bread with Children, forthcoming in February from Hawthorn Press. The last thing there is, of all things, a Waldorf school newsletter blurb - about a Halloween garden party for young children. I loved their ideas so much, I saved the piece for future reference.

And now I have no blogging time left as bedtime is upon us once again. Thanks for letting me share all these afternoon comforts with you. I hope you all have a great night. That evening breeze is just wonderful, isn't it? 


Friday is Journal Day

I found this little blurb in the August issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and since we've been talking about journals lately, I wanted to share it here:

The Joys of Journaling

"Feeling inspired to start a blog? Great, but don't throw away your handwritten journal just yet. Journaling and blogging serve two very different functions. Blogging is a performance - you're not just writing for yourself, you're writing for a digital audience and hoping that their response will validate you. That undermines the honesty achieved when you're writing for your eyes only, says James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Journaling is private and therapeutic. Writing about your experiences - especially the difficult ones - can help strengthen your immune system and lower your blood pressure, according to Dr. Pennebaker, who has researched this topic for decades. Researchers are not convinced that taking your diary digital will result in the same benefits.

That doesn't mean that blogging is bad. "Blogs serve an important social function by bringing people together who otherwise wouldn't be and allowing them to learn from one another," explains Dr. Pennebaker. So when you want to compare strategies on a situation others share, like dealing with a disease or raising twins, blogging can help you connect. But when you want to search your own soul, you're better off with a pen and paper." ~ Tammy Tibbets

Some interesting food for thought!

Now, I certainly don't think of my blogging as "a performance," but I can see the professor's point. The scribbles I write in my journal are usually more brainstorming than soul-searching, but they are completely raw. What I share here in my blog - though honest and open - is, obviously written in a way that I hope will make sense and appeal to people who stop by. Journaling is entirely off-the-cuff for me - like a running stream of consciousness - whereas my blog is where I corral (some of) those thoughts into something (hopefully) worthy to share. You all don't want to read my monthly budget (which, for better or worse, I keep in my journal), but you might want to read a post I write about budgeting.

Now for some truly yummy food for thought, I also wanted to link you to a post by Jennifer at the S/V Mari Hal-o-Jen: Christmas in July. In it, she shares pictures of her lovely journal and planner pages. Reading all about it made me so happy and quite inspired! It's so good to know someone else is on the same page! If you have a journal to share, please do leave a link - I think we journalers can really benefit from sharing how, and what, we journal.

Speaking of my own journal, my current one is filling up steadily, getting nice and fat with clippings, notes and other things. I thought I'd share a few pictures of the most recent pages:

Frijournal1

As I've mentioned previously, I like to add bits and pieces from favorite magazines to my journal. Mostly these are small blurbs or images interspersed between hand-written notes, but sometimes a whole article grabs my attention; I add these too. On the left is a page I taped in on the horizontal; I fold it over to keep it neat inside the journal (you can see the page open below). On the right is a page (cut to fit) from my Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. I loved this quote and illustration - I'm convinced that's a homeschooling moment. ;)   

Frijournal2

This is a really cool project I want to remember - embroidered flowers on felt bookmarks. The type reads: "For your autumn reading list, check out Kristin Nicholas' embroidered felt bookmarks, another project from Colorful Stitchery." I LOVE the idea - and the look - of "autumn reading" bookmarks, so, into the journal this article went.

Frijournal4

This is yesterday's page spread, which shows more of a balance between actual writing and bits and pieces from the newspaper and a magazine. (My budget notes are under the sticky.) It all seems silly but it really feeds my creativity to do this. I take comfort in both making these pages and reading them back over again. I don't know what that says about me, but I've done this since I was a little kid. It's how I process, I guess.

But part of the process needs to be doing something with the information I put in here. I can easily let weeks go by without revisiting what I wrote. This is ok when it's just red squirrel ideas and weather reports, but not so good when it's things like "Reschedule the dentist" or "Cancel haircut before Thursday." So I'm adding a new task to my overall weekly routine: Read back over journal pages from last week.

I've earmarked Fridays as the day to do this. Originally I thought it would be a good weekend activity, but really, Friday made more sense - by looking it all over ahead of the weekend, I can update my Saturday errands list or plan to spend extra time on a project I've envisioned.

Well, here it is Friday, and I'm paging back through my journal pages from last week; for fun, I thought I'd give you an idea of what kinds of things I put in there:

  • notes on a post about planner q&a
  • the discovery that we have 3 and not just 2 red squirrels (!)
  • the arrival of my Harry Potter book at 2:59 p.m. on Saturday :)
  • an HP bookmark from Barnes & Noble
  • a clip from Time about JK Rowling
  • a savory scone mix (for baked ratatouille)
  • several articles on, and reviews of, HP
  • a funny comic that had the boys and I LOL one day
  • an article on a local planetarium I want to visit
  • the insert from EB's paint set describing plant-based dyes
  • a sticky note from my doctor's appointment last week
  • an ad for Oak Meadow, a curriculum I'm chatting about with friends
  • potential blog post ideas
  • a magazine clipping on fall fantasy movies for kids
  • a sketch of a possible window seat for the dining room
  • book notes from my brother who stopped in the other day
  • the above quoted BH&G article
  • the web address of a lovely local restaurant
  • the titles of kid magazines I renewed
  • several pages of notes for my conference talk
  • a nice little sketch of Uranus by EB
  • a print out from Jan Brett's website about an October book signing
  • a picture of a wraparound "tree" bench by Orvis
  • notes on the new movie Arctic Tale
  • a sticky note with list of office supply items to purchase
  • clipping of weather map from newspaper showing current temps.
  • bunch of random to-do's
  • July budget and bills
  • notes from a conversaton with EB's speech therapist
  • three pages of notes on EB's kindergarten plans

Nope, not a lot of soul-searching there - more downloading I'd say. :) But this list represents a week's worth of thoughts for me, and looking back over it I get shades of "the week that was" ~ HP7 was on its way, I was working on my talk, red squirrels were at the feeders and summer was in its prime ...

One final note to this post before I wrap up. If you are a big magazine reader like me, a journal is a great way to get your money's worth. I can clip anything I like - small images or whole pages - and tape it down in here. Then I can recycle all those glossies with a clear conscience and leave my basement shelves open for other things.

Well, I'm off now as it's getting late in the day and I have plenty to do around here before we launch into the weekend. It's plenty hot here - 90s and ever so muggy ...

So says my journal, anyway. ;)

Have a great night! 


My Journal: A Happy, Humble Hodgepodge

Good Friday evening, my friends!

I will be signing off shortly for a weekend internet break, but before I go, I wanted to address a few of the questions that popped up about my daily notebooks. Now this may be way too much information for some, but I know I love reading about how other folks notebook and journal, so I'll carry on. (And if you do notebook or journal, I would love to hear about it ~ please leave a link to your post or a comment below!)

But before I get on with detailing my journal, I wanted to answer a question left by my friend KC about the books I pictured in my previous planning post:

"Are those books on your table listed on your sidebar? I love the liturgical ones you've listed but was wondering about the others."

Thanks to KC, I realized a whole lot of my favorite seasonal books were not listed anywhere on my blog! So I just added a new Typelist called "Seasonal Fun" on my righthand sidebar. (It may still be on the bottom left; Typepad is slow sometimes to update.) Between these books and the liturgical year books (not to mention all the online friends I am grateful to know) I find it an immense joy to plan out my family's year.

Next, Lucille asks:

"Is it because you are timely in pasting things in your journal that they end up being 'seasonal'?? You know, just fall stuff in the fall ones for example? (This way you can look back ...?)"

Yes, this is pretty much how I do it - I fill each day's page with notes and bits and pictures that reflect that day and ultimately, the time of year I am in, plus the one I am looking towards. So my August notebook has plenty of summery things in it, but also, because my brain is in plan-ahead gear (and all the fall issues and catalogs are arriving in my mailbox) there are also a lot of autumn ideas. The same holds true for each season; in my October notebook you'll see all kinds of fall thoughts and mementos, but plenty of holiday planning!

When I revisit my journals I get a real feel for a season, but I also re-discover ideas and plans that I can use again, or perhaps for the first time. In my notebook I write down a lot of ideas - and I hardly ever get around to doing all of them (or even most of them!). By keeping them written up in my journal, they are there for me to consider in years to come.

For example, I might come across a flyer for a fall fair we never attended and make a note to try and go this year. And I just saw a note from late last July when I wrote away for a local audubon site's fall program guide; I added that to my to-do list for next week. I also found a list of picture books that are wonderful fall reads. I would not have remembered any of this if I had not seen it written down! (I am definitely a visual learner!)

I guess if I called my brain my hard drive, these notebooks are my back up files, lol!

These journals are filled with - oh, gosh, anything and everything! Basically, if I think it then I write it, and if I can tape it down, in it goes.

I jot down notes throughout the day - things to do, things to remember, what's going on in nature or with our family, in our community, the world. Sometimes I get sentimental and reflective, but mostly I'm just keeping tabs: a good sale to check out, a new fruit at the farm stand, a show to Tivo next week.

I tape in lots of stuff as embellishment - items I've clipped out of the newspaper, a magazine, a newsletter or something I've printed out online. The other night Bill and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie - I taped in the ticket stub the next day. I suspect tomorrow I will receive an email from Amazon alerting me that the new HP book has been shipped - I will print out that email, cut it to size (possibly folding it in half) and add it in as well.

Here, as an example, is my journal page from the other day:

Journals17

It's probably hard to see, but here I have a page from my Mary Engelbreit calendar (I happened to like the quote, not to mention the artwork), a review of a set of Hogwarts building cards (a possible birthday gift for CJ next month), a newspaper clipping of Thomas train recalls (must go through our stash this weekend), a blueberry cake recipe, a new line of flooring from Martha Stewart (we're in the market for flooring at present) as well as notes on squirrels at the feeder, a woodpecker sighting, a party date to mark in the calendar, a food-shopping schedule change and an idea for our "blueberry study" next month.

Complete hodgepodge, I know! But it all makes perfect sense to me. :)

The above picture also shows my usual journaling spot - parked at the short end of the L-shaped kitchen island. To the left of the open journal is the magazine I was flipping through that day (I really like that "buzz" graphic and cut it out for the next page - the colors are summery as is the word itself.) Above the notebook is the phone, the tape dispenser, a collection of clippings to add in, my favorite pair of scissors, some grocery flyers to look through and my calendar. Off to the right is my laptop.

Keeping these things out in the open, smack dab in the middle of things, allows me to "pop on and off" - dash a quick note, peruse one or two pages, check things online briefly. Sitting down would be nice, but really, how often do any of us get to sit and work on "personal stuff" for any length of time?

Now, it goes without saying my journals would probably not seem very interesting to others - because what's neat to me may or may not be neat to anybody else! (I was going to post pictures of journal pages, but they all seemed so random, lol!) But that doesn't matter, these journals are for me - they are very personal and a way for me to be creative and expressive, a way to capture a moment and my thoughts and my world as I see it, in an easy and fun way.

The other thing I try to do, is to work in a set time each week (usually over the weekend) when I can go back over the previous week's pages, in case there are things that I'll need to remember going forward. That's the catch, see - pouring every little bit of thought into one place does take the pressure off remembering it all (a bit like a pensieve, isn't it?) but I have to make the time to revisit all those thoughts in order to make any use of them.

One more question and then I'd better wrap up because as usual I'm getting carried away. :) I'd like to talk a bit about the size and style of notebook I use.

Patricia asked:

"What are the dimensions of your tote bag and daily notebook? I have medium totes for my children but your bag looks a little smaller."

Well, my bag is an L.L. Bean medium size boat-and-tote bag (with long, rather than regular length handles). It probably appears smaller because it's so stuffed to the gills, lol!

For my journal I use a Mead 3-subject spiral notebook, 9.5x6 inch size. This is actually a break in tradition for me, because I have always used a large 5-subject 11x8.5 inch notebook in the past. I'm trying to get comfortable with the smaller size because I think, especially considering how full I stuff them, the notebooks can be somewhat unwieldly when full.

I always use very plain notebooks for my journals. In the past it was always an Office Depot brand notebook (the paper is smooth and lightly lined), but I've had a hard time getting them without perforated pages. (Perforated pages tear out too easily when a notebook is handled as much as mine are.) This is why I went to the smaller size originally; its pages are not perforated. Now I find I like the convenient size, though I miss all that "canvas" space.

Using such a cheap, plain notebook as my journal is very freeing for me. Certainly there are beautiful journals out there, but if my journal was too fancy or fine, I would hesitate to slap any old thing in there, or to use up too many pages, or I'd worry about my handwriting, lol. In short, I would hesitate to mess it up, and actually I want my journals kind of messy. I don't even mind a bit of a coffee stain or a smear of jam from little fingers -because this is my life (coffee, jam and little fingers and all) and that's what I'm trying to capture.

I will try to post again next week about this subject as there were a few more questions I wanted to answer about the notebook, the folders and planner pages. For now, I must sign off - I am working on a project this weekend AND that new Harry Potter book is coming tomorrow. I'll be "internet-free" for a bit.

And thank you for the links and helpful advice many of you sent my way - every little bit helps and is fun to consider - because you never know when or where you'll find just the thing that makes your planning (journaling, filing, etc.) work best for you.

Have a great weekend everyone!