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October 2015

Planner Party Guest Post Number 12: Helena!

{Happy Friday, my friends! Here is a surprise 12th guest post! I am grateful to Helena for her submission and also for the extra time to pull my own post together!}


Good morning Dawn,

For planning everyday life I use a wall calendar at home (my husband even looks at it sometimes too! :) ) and I have a small monthly calendar that lives in my purse so I can make appointments when out and about. The only trouble with this system is that sometimes I forget to "synch" them, leading to confusion and rescheduling at best - missing something at worst.
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I really wanted to make Google calendars work for me when I got my first smartphone this year, because I liked the idea of having reminders for everything (I've become more forgetful and I figured having my calendar tell me when I had to do things was a good idea), but I can't seem to make myself sit down and update the e-calendar so that it will actually work that way. I think I'm a pen and paper girl at heart.
The other planner I use is for our homeschool planning - right now I just teach my daughter, who just turned 7 and is in first grade (my son is about to turn 3, not doing school with him yet). This planner was a random find at Office Depot, but it's working really well for me this year.
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I use the month spread to note what books we've read for school and also any read-aloud chapter books we read together throughout the day. Then once a month I use that to update our reading list (FL requires that we keep a list of books used in our homeschool as part of our portfolio).
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Then the weekly spread is where I put what we're doing in each subject - mostly guided by the Sonlight curriculum we're using, but with other things added in as well. This lets me see at a glance what our week looks like school-wise, which days may be heavier or lighter, and if my kiddo wants to work ahead, what can be done next. Much easier than dragging out the big curriculum binder every day. Plus I find that the act of sitting down with the books and calendar each weekend really helps me solidify our goals for the week and get a handle on what we're doing. 
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So that's my planning 'system' in a nutshell. I keep making attempts at a housekeeper's binder/control journal, but they have all fallen by the wayside as soon as I hit a busy season. 
Take care, and thanks for hosting the planner party. :)
Great post, Helena! I have had that first calendar - it's a nice one! I had it on our fridge at our old house and I remember all the kids and Bill really did use it! Or at least they looked at what I had written up there, lol.
And I love the layout and colors in your teacher's planner! It looks like a nice size and the binding looks sturdy. What a joy it must be to use in planning your daughter's lessons! We don't have an Office Max around here - just Staples as far as the eye can see. ;) I love getting into different office supply shops though, because there is such a wide range of products. Also - and, I realize this sounds crazy - I like to check out the loose-leaf supply to see if I can find just the right weight/shade of ink. I am always on the hunt for this particular kind I once bought and cannot find anymore. It is a regular, 8.5x11 inch, college-ruled, loose leaf, but the paper is very lightweight, the white is bright and the blue and pink lines are pale. It is a JOY to write on! I used to have plenty of it and now I'm down to a rather small supply ...
(Yes, I am that nit-picky about paper ... but I think you all knew that!)
Well my friends, I hope you will leave a note for Helena! And also, if anyone wants to join the party I'd be very happy to continue into next week! I already have one more person in queue, and there is always room for more. You can send me a post and pics at:
bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com
I am currently striving to finish my own post about planners ... as I mentioned before, it's quite large, and my "free" time has been short this week - Bill was away on business for a couple of days and I had a stomach bug! Thankfully things have settled back down, so after the Halloween hoopla I should be able to devote a good chunk of time to finishing my thoughts. So please expect my post sometime this weekend ... hopefully sooner rather than later!
Enjoy your Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Planner Party Guest Post Number 11: Elizabeth!

{Happy Thursday, my friends! Our last planner guest post is by Elizabeth!}


Hi Dawn,
Love your blog!! I have three boys ... oldest is in college (Ga Tech), then 11th grader (who may be going to College of the Holy Cross next year, early -- we homeschool) and our youngest is 12.
Here are some photos of a wonderful planner I found on Amazon, published by Tools4Wisdom. It keeps me focused on daily and weekly goals that I might not even set in my MIND if I hadn't been promoted to write them down! It's really been helpful to me.
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I love the generous space for daily schedules as our schedule is unique each day, and changes occur sometimes during the day itself, or the night before! This helps me keep track of all those details and the vertical time slots help me visualize the day more clearly. 
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It's made with very nice paper, and it's a good size all together. 
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 Hope this was informative! :)
Elizabeth Kay
Elizabeth, thank you so much for this peek into your planner - one I'd never heard of before! - and for your kind words. :) Now, I'm a funny one about planner layouts - I can fall in love with a simple, unadorned layout ... as easily as I can fall in love with a colorful, embellished one. I can never decide which one is my true planner personality though, lol! I like the clean look of this planner and the weekly layout is great - especially the space allotted to the daily timetable and the spaces for recording to-do's (by priority).
Also, I have to say, that cover is gorgeous ... :)
My friends, I hope you will leave Elizabeth a note about her planner! What are your feelings on planner design - do you like a clean palette like this, or do you prefer something with color? I find the former works better for me "practically" speaking, but my personality just craves that COLOR and seasonal spirit. There should be one of those little internet quizzes where in 10 questions you find out what your true planner style is, lol.
Oh, I have had SUCH fun with all these planner posts! And I'm so glad it seems you all have, too! Thank you so much to all who have participated ... tomorrow I will have my own planner post up ... and you all have given me courage to share just how NUTS I am with these planners. So many planners -  no matter how hard I try, I can't keep it to one! And it promises to be a rather lengthy post - no surprise there, right? - as so far I'm over 20 pictures at last count!
Thanks for joining me, everyone - see you here again bright and early tomorrow!

Planner Party Guest Post Number 10: Mary Ellen!

{Happy mid-week, my friends! Please welcome Mary Ellen to the Party!}


Dear Dawn,
I use the Catholic Mother’s Daily Planner and have done so for many years now (maybe ten?). This is where I write down all of the kids' activities, my own appointments, business trips, work deadlines, bits and pieces of my husband’s schedule and feast/holiday/family celebrations. I mostly use the month-at-a-glance section for scheduling and the daily pages for notes about the day, homeschool notes, a menu note or doodling. :)
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My brain dump is not a planner at all. I use the Mead Cambridge Business Notebook which has a wide left margin suitable for lists and a pretty sturdy cover. I usually use one a year. In this goes all the lists I make, menus, groceries, errands, ideas for articles, party planning, field trip ideas, homeschool ideas/projects. The book ends up being a hot mess and really useable only to me because it only makes sense to me. It’s not pretty but it’s a good reflection of how my brain works, also not pretty. :)
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Lastly, I have a pretty commonplace book, purchased for cheap at Marshalls where I keep quotes, thoughts and ideas that I find inspirational. Also some doodles.  For school work I use Seton planners and lesson plans with an eye towards making it work for my family. Flexible is my favorite word in homeschooling. :)
I hope you find this useful ...
Mary Ellen 
Mary Ellen, this was very useful - thank you! I have long admired The Catholic Mother's Planner - not sure why it's never made it into my repertoire! It is lovely to look at, especially that monthly page with all your cheerful family notes. I think the fact that you've used it for so many years is its best recommendation ... anything we return to, and use so thoroughly, is a winner for sure!
As for your "brain dump" - it sounds much like mine! I LOVE that you call it a "hot mess" ... that is PERFECT. And I know just what you mean when you say, it only makes sense to you. Same here ... it might amuse someone else (because sometimes I sound rather silly) but I have all kinds of information stored here, some whimsical and some important. And I know that exact notebook you are using; it is a very nice one. I have used small Mead notebooks in the past for my own "domestic journal" ... but nowadays I use loose-leaf paper filed in the front of my home keeping binder ... though I kind of miss the convenience of the notebook platform.
I don't have a separate commonplace book as you do - I throw it all in the same place - but I think it is nice that you store special quotes and (lovely!) doodles somewhere apart from the less formal brain-dump. Honestly, I think all this doodling and scribbling and information gathering is keeping our maternal brains fit and flexible, to capture your sentiment!
Thank you so much for participating, Mary Ellen! I enjoyed seeing and hearing about your planning systems, and I'm eager to hear what our readers have to say!
Friends, I truly feel that all this planning - while often fun and sometimes frustrating - is actually quite important to our role as mother. Not just for keeping our families on track (the appointments and commitments, and such), but for laying down the good and true tracks to begin with. I have a vision (as I'm sure you all do) of how I want our time together to go ... the days and weeks and seasons, etc. But it is only with planning that I can hope to bring it into focus for my loved ones.  
Now, looking ahead to November I'd like to point you in the direction of Mary Ellen's latest post at Seton Magazine, in which she discusses November Feast Ideas for the Family.  A great place to start planning the new month ahead!
Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Planner Party Guest Post Number Nine: Katie!

{Good Tuesday morning, my friends! Today we have Katie with her planner thoughts!}


Hello, Dawn! 

I've been a longtime planner user, back to when I was working outside the home and used a zip-up planner. One day I arrived at work and was heartbroken when I realized that I had driven off with it on the roof of my car, only to have a kind man who had found it call me and return it to me. 

Over the years I have used planners of various shapes and sizes and have enjoyed choosing pens and stickers to embellish my pages. As wife and mom in a family of six, my 'system' has evolved over the years.

My current system is a Bloom 5.5" x 8.25" daily planner and a Moleskine journal as a bullet journal. My planner has a monthly overview and daily pages, where I write down appointments, recurring events and upcoming periodic to-dos (i.e. change furnace filter, schedule gutter cleaning). It also holds my book club list for the year, meal ideas and weekly menus, account numbers and phone numbers for bills and master cleaning lists (both from a word doc that can be printed again and taped into next year's planner).

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The bullet journal is a very recent addition and although I may not be using it exactly as the creator intended, I'm hoping that it will help me accomplish things that usually fall on my "C" list of things that never seem to get done and record what's going on in our lives in a very simple way. I'm keeping long-term project ideas here, movies I want to see and books I want to read. I then make daily lists of things I need to do or ideas I want to follow up on. I also note what we did that day in just a few words. I'm also using it to journal, which I haven't done in a long time.

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Although not planners, two additional components of my planning are my fridge whiteboard and Cozi app. The whiteboard is a small one intended for a school locker that I have divided into the days of the week using a Sharpie, and I then make brief notes as to what is going on each day (i.e. C-soccer 6 pm). I was keeping a fridge calendar but found that no one was checking it but me. This provides a quick reference for everyone else as to what is going on. The Cozi app is useful because I don't always have my planner with me and I can quickly note upcoming appointments using my phone, and later write the information in my planner.

I think the two most important things in developing a system is finding what works for you and making it a part of your daily routine.

I've been following--and enjoying--your blog for quite some time and I'm excited to be a part of the planner party!



Katie, thank you so much for this lovely post and your very kind words! I'm so glad you joined our Party!

First may I say, I think your handwriting is so pretty! And your menu list looks much like mine this week! :)

Also, I love the C list idea! This sounds much like my "master to do" which is a running list of things that come up that should be done at some point but don't have a deadline attached. And I think the fridge white board makes sense - I also found my wall calendar attracted little attention (save Earlybird's who made off with said calendar for his own purposes, lol). I have since put up a whiteboard that we use as a daily schedule for EB. 

I have heard a few other people speak of the Cozi app - and I like this idea too, because many of us use planners that - while large enough to hold all the details we need to record/track - are not so easy to tote around town. I have a small Susan Branch pocket calendar (a gift from a thoughtful reader) that I use when I run to appointments because my main planners are not so convenient to take with me ... and I also have the fear that something like you described in your first paragraph might happen to me!

As you say, "finding what works" is vital (however long it takes!) as well as "making it part of your daily routine." YES I agree! I would also add that a weekly routine is a good idea too, syncing up schedules and looking at the big (weekly/monthly/seasonal) picture while fine-tuning the days of the week ahead.

So much great food for thought here, readers! What say you? I can't tell you how happy I am to be hosting this "party" and that so many of you are enjoying it, too! How fun this is to talk shop ... I am very happy to say I have a couple more guest posts and then I expect my own planner post to be up by Thursday or perhaps Friday at the latest. I must warn you though - at last count I have about 20+ photos to share! So that will be a wordy post to be sure!

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday my friends - I hope your week's off to a great start! And thanks again, Katie, for your input! 

See you all here again very soon ...

Planner Party Guest Post Number Eight: Heather!

{Happy Monday, everyone! Please welcome Heather to the Party!}



I AM ADDICTED TO PLANNERS! Below is the evidence ... sigh.

The first is MY day planner - the same one you have. I'm learning to use it everyday in terms of writing my daily blessings in it; consistency is the key. As you can see, each person has their own color for events and appointments - love those multi-colored pens! This one stays close by my side, but I haven't found a "place" for it to land permanently - yet. So, it roams through the house with me. It is too big to lug around, though I do try, and I do like the size of it.

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The 2nd picture is the HEDUA homeschool planner which I really like, though I don't utilize it to its fullest.  I love the record-keeping and attendance pages as well as the perforated shopping pages. This stays in the homeschool room, at my spot. It holds all things homeschool - co-op papers, MODG papers and the syllabi for each kiddo. I do not keep a calendar there nor do I use it as a planner per se. I print our syllabi for the week off the MODG site, so the homeschool planner pages aren't used much. This is a great planner and one I highly recommend, I just dont use it as much as I'd like because I dont need all of it.

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The last pic is our family fridge calendar. All events go there - again! - usually color-coded. We are learning how to read it this year. The kids like it, but can't always read my writing, so it sits. Overall, this works well for me and hubby as he travels the globe, so we can adjust and amend as we need and see the big picture.

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Now, I do admit that I have a Bullet Journal as well. I dont use it as a planner, but a fabulous place to keep all my notes which I can easily reference! I honestly don't know how I managed without it! It's wonderful to keep Christmas and ideas, notes for the dr., hotel info, etc. all in one spot. It's easily portable and stays in my purse.

Whoa! That was almost like going to Confession!!!!

God bless!

Heather Lamb - aka Mamalamb


Heather, this was a fantastic planner post - thank you! And I hear you on the planner addiction!

I loved seeing how you are using the Day Designer, and I agree, consistency is key. I keep mine open on my workspace (kitchen counter) all the time, even when I'm not using it as faithfully as I should. I DO find I need a place to plan the details of my day - not just the week but the individual days as well. I will admit, I don't use the monthly planning pages as much because I prefer a different calendar for planning the months ...

(And this is how I end up with several planners - I need each timeframe visible at once!)

I also love the wall calendar - so full of information for the whole family! That's something I'm working on - a calendar that everyone can access at anytime. I am very much the "calendar keeper" in the house, meaning - I keep ALL the details on my calendar, and the boys and Bill ask me what we're doing, and when, and if we are free for whatever activity has come up. Kind of sweet, but not terribly efficient!

Well, friends, I hope you will leave Heather a note! Are you using colors to coordinate family plans? I love that idea. I think it's a great way to keep straight who needs to be where when!

I hope the week goes well for you all ... please tune in tomorrow and we'll have more planner thoughts to share!


22 years ... and counting!

In a planner post comment, Barbara mentioned you all might like to see a wedding pic, and since I was just getting them organized on my laptop ... :)

Wedding pic

Here you go!

It's not staged or formal, but it's one of my favorites from that day ... we had just arrived at the reception hall and, as you can see from our faces, we were feeling pretty happy!

Gosh, it's hard to believe that was TWENTY TWO years ago!

And just for fun, here we are last night - in a very different car! - when Bill and I "snuck out" to celebrate our anniversary ... all on our own!

Anniversary dinner date

My mum is so good to us - she came over to watch the boys - cook them supper, see to meds and pajamas and bedtime and all - and Bill and I spent a nice few hours together, riding in his car, driving through old haunts, swinging by the church where we were married and ... oh my gosh, actually sharing complete thoughts!

We culminated the evening with a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant. There was also going to be coffee and window shopping afterwards, but we just decided to get home!

(We're such a couple of old fogies, lol ... )

You know, our day yesterday was so nice - but of course I couldn't help but think about how different things were from 22 years ago. For one thing, we woke up together! And then spent the bulk of our day doing things like washing dishes, and changing diapers, and cooking meals, and raking leaves, and feeding pets and paying bills and bagging up trash ...

Yes, quite different from how we spent that splendid day back in 1993!

But, how grateful we are to be here, together - even more in love if I may say so - and enjoying what we could only envision and hope for back then. God is SO GOOD and I pray He blesses us with another 22 years - PLUS. Because ... this whole "married to your best friend" thing?

Yeah, we kinda dig it.


Thanks so much friends, for always being so nice to stop by and check in - whatever it is I might be chatting about - and goodness knows, from day-to-day, you never know what it might be! (Lots of planner posts lately, and continuing on into next week! And a menu planning post is in the works, too ...) I know most of us have never met in real life, but I deeply appreciate your visits and kind words, and I always remember you all in my prayers ... 

But now I must be off as we are in the midst of a pressure-cooker experiment ... this is only our second time using this amazing contraption! Chicken and tomato rice soup! Nice for a Saturday night supper, I think. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Planner Party Guest Post Number Seven: Tanya!

{Happy Friday, my friends! It's Tanya's turn today!}


Hello Dawn! Thanks for hosting this planner party!  

First, I must say that I feel as if I am floundering along this autumn. I’ve cobbled together some plannerish things but by no means is my system complete and I have found that things are falling through the cracks as a result. Two of the three systems I’m going to share are working….one decidedly is *not*! 

The first thing that is working is this little daily planner page. I made it up for myself while Steve was away for five days. (I was solo parenting and quite desperate!) Since then, I’ve adopted it wholeheartedly and (other than wishing I could pre print it) it continues to work well for me. I modeled it a bit after your homemade planner but tweaked it to work for my family. I love having a column for each child. Two of my kids require therapy and medications so it’s helpful to see them all laid out for me in the morning! 

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The other part of my planning trio that is working is my lesson planner. I used an inexpensive coil bound book and used it to plan lessons. This has been SO helpful. Especially when I have been able to preplan a few weeks in advance. I’m careful not to plan too far ahead as often my son’s chronic illness will dictate how much work we are able to get to each day. I love having everything set out for me though! 

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And the part that definitely isn’t working for me? My wall calendar. It makes it easy to see what appointments are coming up but it isn’t doing the job I need it to anymore. I’m definitely at a point where I need a proper paper planner rather than only the wall calendar.

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Thanks for hosting Dawn! I’m looking forward to learning from others and gleaning some great ideas. 



Tanya, you and I have "talked shop" a lot through the years, and we are often on the same "page" so to speak. :) Like you, I find myself floundering this autumn and some things are slipping through the cracks ... I feel like it's my own fault because if I could just stop being so picky and just stick with something - even if it's not exactly what I want - I'd do so much better overall in keeping up with ALL THE THINGS ... but there it is.

So I thank you for sharing your planners with us, Tanya! They look very much like things I have going on at this time! There is just something about putting our own pen to paper that creates a more meaningful and workable planner ... even when my head get turned by professionally made planners, I truly love the homemade ones best!

Now, I really love clipboards - I think they are perfect for daily planning as you show above. And they're so portable. I still like my Day Designer planner, but I don't care for how heavy it is - I don't really feel like grabbing it if I'm heading upstairs or if I'm going out somewhere. It's just a bit took bulky to come-with, so I tend to leave it on the counter ... but a clipboard is so easy to tote around - and clip things on if you need. Right now my clipboard holds my master to-do pages as well as our weekend POW pages. (Something we can all work off of all weekend.) Basically, I think clipboards are brilliant and much underused.

And also, I LOVE making planners out of spiral-bound notebooks as you have! In fact, I really like your simple, straightforward layout - a column for each day. I used a plain notebook for a lesson planner this year and I like it but I think I might have made it more complicated than it needs to be ... 

As for the wall calendar - I had one on the fridge but Earlybird commandeered it, lol. He wanted it on the December page AT ALL TIMES so we could see when his birthday was. (As if I'd forget!) I finally took it down and hung it out near his play area in the family room. I like having a large monthly planner that all the family can refer to when we're making plans or kids/husband are wondering what's going on when.

Great food for thought, Tanya! Friends, what say you?

I hope you'll drop Tanya a note if you have a chance! Are you someone who prefers making a homemade planner? I think that's becoming an increasingly popular project - just check out Pinterest! (But only if you have a few hours to spare ...)

Also, before I go, I wanted to mention something I posted about on Facebook yesterday ...

As I am working on my next-week plan I realized that November 1st is just ONE WEEK away from this Sunday! Which means I need to get my gratitude project in order if we're to start on the first of the month. (Our remembrance altar as well.) So this weekend I've made a note to finalize a design and pick up any supplies I need. Next week I'll get the projects pulled together in my "spare" time (ha!) and hopefully be ready to roll on Sunday morning.

But for now, have a nice evening my friends - and Happy Weekend! Today is a special day for us - Bill and I celebrate 22 years of marriage! Where has the time flown?? Anyhow, I am going to take the weekend off from posting, but will be back on Monday with more party plans! Happily, we still have a few more guest posts in queue! :)

See you here again very soon ...

Planner Party Guest Post Number Six: Denise!

{Happy Thursday, my friends! Please welcome Denise to the Party!}


Talking planners... a weird fondness I have!! I will try to stick to the
topic at hand (& edit myself! I can run on about this topic!) ...

(As can I, Denise - no worries! ~ Dawn)

What planner I am using and how I like it

The Short of it:

 (1) I am currently using a regular size (little bigger than 8.5 x 11"), spiral-bound monthly/weekly view calendar. I had to look, it is by BlueSky.

(Photo below shows one side of the month view.)

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(2) I really, really, really like it!

(I try not to use the l-o-v-e word flippantly!)

The LONG of it:

(1) I have used many different kinds/styles, yet I have been coming back to this one most frequently. Why have I been using this particular style for a while? It 'stores' easy. At the end of the year (well, the beginning of the new year, actually) I pull the pages out, trim them,
3-hole punch them & store in my 3-ring binder journals.

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(The smaller versions - I call them the half-size - don't store as nicely.)

(2) What I like about it:

• Easy to tote around. Fits easily in my attaché case & my totes. (I have
several, so I can keep them packed up & ready to go!)

• Monthly (tabbed, 2-page open spread) & weekly view (one week covers 2

• The durable covers.

• The slick interior cover & back pages (post-its come on & off with ease!)

• The size of the monthly, lined boxes.

• The size of weekly view.

• No time slots.

• The quality of the paper. I like it, I really do.

• It lays flat when open.

• It is easy to fold so that only one side is showing.

• It holds up to my scratching.

(3)  What I would change about it:

• More note pages.

• Maybe holiday planning pages, like at the end of the month.

• An easy way to "add" pages into it?? 

I have a small spiral bound planner that is given to me & I don't use it, so I rip the pages out & stick them in as best I can; they don't turn easily!  

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I would like to be able to add pages into it, while still in the spiral binding, with ease!

• A pocket! I adhered a plastic pocket to the back to easily slip papers in on the
go. Double stick tape. It has held up well & this is the third or fourth year I've used this pocket.

• Some way to keep pens. (They don't stay clipped to the front for me!)

(4)  How I use my planner:

• I use my monthly calendar to record appointments, events, etc.

• I color-code my planner. I use two different, 4-color pens. (The standard has blue, green, black, red. The 2nd has light blue, light green, purple, pink.)

• I use the weekly as kind of a record of what actually went on that day,
special things to note, recording my blessings, recording some +/- of the day (positives, negatives), etc.

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• I have JUST RECENTLY (inspired by that time-sapper called Pinterest) begun to "embellish" my planner.  I don't know that I like it, to be candid. I'm kind of a plain-Jane type gal! I do like *sketching* in my planner, however I DO NOT know how to draw!! 

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(5)  How I do NOT use my planner:

• I do NOT use the planner to record my TO DO LIST. I use Microsoft Excel
to do that. I have a MASTER list that is categorized, then prioritized. I make a MONTHLY TO DO LIST from this master list. I print this out & either clip to the inside cover OR slip in the pocket (depending on how full that is!) ... THIS is a separate post, I am sure!!

I can't wait to hear from the others - I always pick
something up I can use! Thank you, Dawn, for the opportunity to share
this fondness with others!!



Denise, this was a wonderful post! I am so grateful you shared so much of your planner and how you use it - and don't use it! (I think that to-do list is DEFINITELY a future post!) The fact that you keep coming back to this planner speaks volumes to me. I've said this before to others, and of myself - if you continue with something, its clearly working for you on some level. Even if it's not perfect, it's a good fit! (Like my Day-Timer monthly calendar refills - also lined boxes like yours, which I love!) And I am in agreement with you - Blue Sky is amazing! I have loved their planners for many years and always linger over them at Target. The Day Designer I bought a few months ago is made by Blue Sky. They do planners right!

I am also right there with you on durable covers - and the way paper feels! Quality paper is a must! Half the reason I lag on making my own planner is I can't find paper I really like! (Yes, I really am that picky, lol.) I am also picky about how a planner flips and if it can, as you described above, lay flat on one side. I need to focus on the day at hand!

And I love that you defined how you would change your planner if you could - if only the manufacturer's would listen to us, lol! And also that you told us how you don't use it. I'm constantly finding different "homes" for my to-do lists, so that I think would make a great separate post!

p.s. I think your drawings are charming. :)

Well my friends, what say you now? Please leave a comment and let Denise know what you think and if you have any questions. I'm curious how many of us are working with new planners (perhaps again) and how many use the same one year after year. I have a few items in my "planning repertoire" that I return to every year, but I still find fault here and there.

And as always, thanks so much for stopping by - see you here again tomorrow!

Planner Party Guest Post Number Five: Mary!

{Good morning, my friends! Today's planner post is brought to you by Mary!}
I currently use the Motivated Moms chores calendar - I print out the day-by-day pages, hole-punch them, and divide them into four binders (with three months in each binder). Also in each binder go monthly decluttering calendars from Home Storage Solutions 101. I was inspired by your 'Book of Days'.
  I like this calendar because it gives me a daily schedule area and lots and lots of room to write! I keep it open on the kitchen counter and co-ordinate it with my 2 other calendars. I also keep a daily/monthly planner in my purse that I purchased at the dollar store, and a calendar on the wall by More Time Moms, that I buy every year at Costco. 
This is how the web site describes the Motivated Moms calendar:
The Motivated Moms Chore Planner printable chore list is an e-book to be downloaded and saved to your computer. You can then either print the full year out at once, print a week at a time or just view it on your computer. These printable chore lists are just what you are looking for if you need to know exactly what to do each day in your home and love to be able to check items off a list to feel that sense of accomplishment.
I am very happy with my system, and maybe it will help others. I do a little decorating with Washi tape and stickers, but I try to keep the pages clean as I refer to them for addresses, phone numbers, etc. There are pockets in the binders, so I store papers in there as well.
All the best!
I can't figure out how to post a sample page here, but you can see one at the Motivated Moms website - they provide many samples (like this one) for you to check out before purchase. (Or even if you're just lurking.)
Mary, I love the straightforward simplicity of your planning system - and I also like the way you divide the days into four binders (like seasons). Makes perfect sense! I also relate with the way you keep your planner open on the kitchen counter - it's where I can be found much of the day! - but like others, I fret about spills!
I am fairly certain I have looked at the MM system a time or two before, but not in a long while. I really love the layout of the daily pages and how they describe them:
"... if you need to know exactly what to do each day in your home ..."
Yes, that's me!
*raises hand and waves it around wildly*
Some of you might remember, a while back I put a lot of time and effort into creating a home keeping calendar for myself, breaking down general and intensive housekeeping into annual, monthly and weekly chores ... then filtered it all down into what needs doing every day. I am/was using index cards to keep the daily housekeeping chores straight, but as others have said before me - it's just become one more thing to keep track of! Not sure why a small bin of index cards looks so much like CLUTTER to me on my workspace, but it does. (Never mind the giant pile of magazines, the file crate, the open binder or scattered piles of post-it note pads!)
(For example right now that index card basket is out on my living room desk ... not here on my kitchen counter workspace as it should be. That might tell you how well it's "working" for me right now.)
So I LOVE the idea of keeping all of it in one place. The to-dos and the tasks and the agenda and the dinner plan. I'd also add if I could, lesson plans, blogging, faith at home, nature study - but I know that's cramming a lot into one daily space! Still, a girl can try ... and try ... and try!
But now I'm kind of taking over Mary's post so I will wrap up and leave it to you, dear readers! Please leave Mary a comment if you have a moment and let us know if you've tried Motivated Moms or if you use a daily planner that incorporates all those housekeeping chores that might not otherwise get done. We're eager to hear from you!
*And remember, I'm still accepting planner posts! If you'd like to send me pics of and/or thoughts about your planner, you may do so at the address below, and I'll add you to the queue!
bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com
Let's keep this party going!

Planner Party Guest Post Number Four: Amy!

{And now we hear from Amy - I am having such fun with this series!}
This is so exciting. Thanks for this invitation! How fun - like my own little blog post, as I get to explain to you just how and why my planning looks the way it does at this time.
First I will show you my wall calendar. We have had this system for many years, at least 7 or 8 at this house and I can't remember when I began doing it this way, but the important part is that it shows three months at a time - usually the current, and two upcoming months, though sometimes I don't update so fast and we have the previous-current-future instead.
For years I had two 12x12" heavy-duty, somewhat-glossy card stock sheets attached to the wall to create a 12x24" rectangle background, and the calendar pages were held onto that with tape rings on the backs, but that was tedious, and then made saving the old calendars a pain: you have to remove those tape rings so the old pages don't stick together! But at least the tape peeled off the semi-gloss card stock easily so I could quickly take down the old pages, move the current ones upward, and add the new ones at the bottom.
However, every summer the papers AND the card stock would curl so badly from the humidity! Between that, and the tape hassle, I finally had my husband install a piece of sheet metal. Now I use magnets to hold up my calendars. What is funny is that I had the magnet idea years ago, and we talked several times about going to pick up a piece of sheet metal and cutting it to size; then, just as we finally got over the hump of indecision (really, just being too busy with all the other small - or extra-large - projects we always have to do) and ordered the sheet metal, we were able to get just the right size (12x24") from Amazon, AND my very next trip to Joann Fabrics revealed that they, too, were selling these pieces of sheet metal! Some were plan, others were filigree.
I have been printing my calendar pages from for years; I think before that I might have gotten some from or elsewhere.
It just occurred to me yesterday that perhaps I should have seasonal magnets instead of this random assortment of whatever isn't needed on the fridge. Wouldn't that be nice?
Oh, just a note, the clock on the wall used to be a "Maine" thing around here; a local family used to make these "Fox clocks," there were at least a dozen designs, all of them from that kind of 40's diner era. I am fairly certain that they also were a homeschooling family! They don't make them anymore, very sad. I always love it when I walk into someone's home or business and spot one of these clocks - they are unique, local, and becoming rare! We've had ours for 12, maybe all 13 years that we've lived in Maine and just this past year someone knocked it off the wall and we lost the glass. It still works, I will just have to be careful about dusting it more often!
And then, you will probably appreciate this: yes those are two thermostaats on the wall. :) (This is also just about our only kitchen wall, 2.5' wide, as most of our kitchen is taken up by windows, exterior doors, and interior doorways - what a pain.) We have the old thermostat from the old oil system, which we had replaced a few years ago. Above it is the new gas thermostat. And we have 3 zones. That is on top of the wood stove in the living room and electric on the third floor... we have an interesting and ancient house!
Oh my, this is so long! No wonder I don't blog anymore, sheesh!
{Dawn here, popping in to say: I'm loving this, Amy! You are so fun to read and never-ever apologize for wordiness ... I'm a big fan of wordiness!}
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Now on to the fun part!
I have a few photos for you of the planner I was using until the end of the summer. I tend to be a 9-months kind of plan lady, and then I get an urge to switch up my system. That worked well with the Franklin Quest (then Covey, then Planner) products because they offered sets that start on all the quarters! Now most of their paper products seem to start on the half-years only, but I think a few classics still start on the quarter...
Of course that did get expensive on our single income and often I would just bide my time by making new inserts for my binder....
A number of years ago I switched to Michelle Quigley's beautiful Catholic dayplanners (and I used a few others too that were less expensive than the Franklin products) but eventually I got tired of nothing seeming quite-right.
So I made my own, of course.
{Dawn here again - we are kindred spirits, Amy!!}
This one I started in January. I've had a couple of other iterations in the very recent past few years. This one in particular is a Canson sketchbook and I like it for the thickness of the paper  and also because it is book-bound. I found that the spiral-bound planners would get caught on things in my purse/bag, if/when I took them out with me. And the binder-style ones are just so thick and cumbersome.
So I have been making this style for a few years now, and I often use colored pencils that either reflect the season or reflect my whim. :)
I've got a couple of photos here of my monthly pages, and I leave a blank page behind each month for who-knows-what, maybe a phone number or a prayer or a birthday idea etc. I leave a few pages after Dec. for Christmas planning and card lists. And I always have the current and future year-at-a-glance calendars pasted in somewhere - usually the only thing that I print and glue in. You can't glue in too much or else you strain the binding, and I do want to leave just a little space in case of wanting to add in a photo or a bookmark or a sticky note etc.
SO. I am sending you photos of my monthly spreads, and my weekly spreads. The weekly spreads I have tweaked so many times; this layout I found in one of the Franklin catalogs and I essentially copied it. It's called the "Five Choices" planner and I don't really know what the "five choices" are, maybe once I looked into it and decided those few extra encouragement pages wouldn't be worth the $28 when I could just fill in my own $10 notebook! I really just like the clean style of the layout, and this is one of very few that go horizontally across the top. The bottom half the the spread is reserved for my to-do lists, which are: do, call, comp(uter), and go(errands etc.). That's it!
But like I said, I stopped using it abruptly at the end of the summer and I have something much simpler that is working for me right now. 
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Ooooh I love what Cay says about adding to our favorite planner and helping us focus on what is most important. YES.
And the thing about having stopped using my hard-bound homemade planner is that now I don't have a keepsake copy of what was important to me at any given point. I do save our wall calendars but they don't capture the smaller details, like the things on my to-do lists or my weekly focus notes to myself (at the top of some of my weekly spreads, such as a particular bible book, a verse, a reminder to myself about a child's habit or my own habit... etc.)
What am I using now?
A totally disposable, totally simple stack of papers in a mini binder clip.
My main scribbling/planning/jotting/thinking spot is in my kitchen, standing at the breakfast bar, and at my house, that breakfast bar frequently has someone eating at it. And so any time I leave my planner there, it is at risk! Even though I don't think I had ever had any major accidents with it over the years, the risk is still very great (and case in point, just on Saturday I dumped a child's water glass onto my stack of papers and had to rewrite them... a first, I'm pretty sure... but there it is).
So one problem is that I often put my planner "away" to keep it safe. Even if that means putting it into the family command center in the kitchen, or onto the kitchen table where there is actually less snacking and drinking, that is several steps out of my way, and not where I am currently trying to do my thinking.
The other problem with the book-style planner (and this might sound ridiculous) is that you have to open the cover to get to the important/pertinent part!
I know that sounds like no big deal, because we spend all day opening books to the pages we need, and my planners always have the month and week tabs easily graspable from the outside, so it's just one quick flip of the wrist to get to where I need to be.
It's a step. And performing it many times a day does add up, and it does become an impediment. 
Now I have, at times, experimented with a list attached to the front cover of my planner, or a sticky note attached to the cover, but those don't end up working the way I hope they will.
(And the last part is that there are always crumbs about. Having my "thinking spot" being in the midst of food prep - and really I have tried to come up with a better spot, there just isn't one - means that even though whole bowls of soup or full mugs of coffee don't usually land on my planner, there are always tons of crumbs that need to be brushed up all day! That is probably the reason why I keep it closed, which means I always have to be opening it...  So now that I have a disposable clip of paper, I'm not nearly so worried about it, which means I am much more apt to actually use it.)
(Can you believe anyone else thinks in such specific, minute details about her planner situation? Isn't it ridiculous, in a way?)
{Dawn again, here - I can absolutely believe it and to be honest, I am relieved by it! I am so glad I'm not alone in my obsession! It might be a bit ridiculous but that doesn't mean it's wrong!}
Okay, so now I am using scrap paper, which we have in abundance because of having printer rejects or just papers that got scribbled on one side, etc. I tear it into 1/4 size sheets, which is a little bit smaller than I would prefer a planner to be, but because there are no bindings or covers etc. to get in the way, it's working so nicely! And because it's so small and "disposable" looking, it ends up being rather private too. Nobody bothers to waste their time with it.
My top sheet is my brain dump, and it gets filled quickly. I end up refreshing/rewriting it every few days. And because the whole thing is disposable, I don't mind crossing out heavily anything that I have done or deleted etc. (That was another problem with my planner, I wanted to keep it neat so "done" items simply got a check-mark, which didn't make them get out of my field of view! I wasted so many accumulating nano-seconds skimming things that had already been checked off, because I could still see them!)
Sometimes I have a totally urgent sticky note attached to my top sheet, reminding me that we really really need to cook the fish before 4pm, that sort of thing... because if it's not written down right under my face I am apt to forget that sort of thing.
Beneath my top sheet, I have several longer-term sheets that I actually have stapled together, which helps me to understand that, as a group, I don't need to review them too often. A couple of times a week is fine. Each sheet is a little bit different, but basically I have a non-urgent shopping list that has things like a new belt for myself, a smaller crock pot, etc. just things I should keep a lookout for but don't need to worry about.
Then there is a list of places we can go if we need to get out of the house. On those rough days, I usually end up walking around in circles muttering about how awful everything is (not really, but in my mind I worry a lot!) and if I could just remember to look at that list, it might, maybe, spark me into a spontaneous trip to: the beautiful working waterfront; the gluten-free bakery; a different library branch; the beautiful cemetery in our neighborhood; the arboretum which is only 40 minutes away; etc. I have a list of indoor places and a list of outdoor places that we could easily get to, thus making memories instead of stewing and being angry with one another while the dinner doesn't get made, the laundry doesn't get done, and the homeschooling gets neglected. (Really our lives are not angry and bad like that at all, but again, inside my own head it gets kind of ugly and no matter how lovely and sweet things might be inside our own home, I know we need to get out and do more interesting things sometimes, esp. outdoor things.)
And I also have a sheet of other long-term things I need to keep in mind, like I am starting to jot down Christmas ideas but that will probably become several full-size pages in my housekeeping/homeschooling binder which I am not going to bother to include in these emails, it is rather separate from my main calendar/planner habits. 
Oh, and the very last page I have in my binder clip is a little vitamin/supplement weekly chart. If it's there and can be checked off, I am much more likely to be getting those supplements! I have it oriented as a landscape so that I can easily flip it open 3x/day.
This system is working so well for me - but honestly now that I've been talking about this stuff with you, I am tempted to try my book-bound planner again. It's just so very nice!
Now I'm not sure how these photos will be ordered for you, but one photo shows two stacks of paper, wet, because I had just dumped water all over them. You can also see the scribble marks from my helper, and it doesn't bother me at all because I now these pages will just be recycled when I am done with them. :)
The other two photos show the new (dry) stack earlier, and then later, during the weekend as I added more and more items. And since then I think I have re-written a clean list for the beginning of this week.
Well that sure was fun for me! I hope you aren't entirely overwhelmed. I hope some other people are joining your party too! I guess my kitchen is pretty dark, we've got all southern exposure but some fools put a giant garage at the back corner of our house about 25 years ago and it blocks all the morning sun from the kitchen! And there is also a gorgeous sugar maple in our neighbor's yard, I have no problem with that, but until it loses its leaves it also casts shadows (which helps keep our house cool).
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 Amy I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this post! I love - LOVE - your stream of consciousness and I also LOVE that you are as mindful and - ok, I'm going to say it, but I'm right there with you - persnickety about planners! Thank you so much for sharing not just your planners but yourself and your family life, too. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that this current system is working so well for you ... and yet you feel pulled to go back to the book-bound planner. I am always in this situation. I find something that works well - maybe even really well - for me, and us as a family ... but I am constantly feeling pulled to something else that might appeal to me on a more aesthetic sense. It's a tough thing to balance!
The three-months at a glance on the wall are fantastic - I really like that the whole family can see these calendars and that you have a "season" in view at a time. My whole fridge is taken up with a large whiteboard I use as a schedule for Earlybird, otherwise I'd be on this. And now our one big kitchen wall is adorned with three very large framed prints. They are so pretty and just what I wanted but there goes my wall space.
(Seasonal magnets would be lovely, but there's something very genuine about those random magnets.)
Ok my friends, please let Amy know your thoughts and if you have any questions on her planners ... drop a note in the comments box below if you have time! 
Isn't this so fun? I am having SUCH fun with these guest posts and I hope you are too! I have several more to share so I hope you enjoy and I hope to see you here again ... tomorrow!

Planner Party Guest Post Number Three: Michelle!

{Happy Monday, my friends! I'm so pleased to present today's Planner Party post ... brought to you by Michelle!}

Hi Dawn,

Thank you for doing a planner post! I always love to see what other people are using. I bought my planner recently after you showed us your new
daily planner from target. I bought it at the suggestion of one of your readers. I am happy with the way the sections are broken down and I LOVE that there
is a place that helps me to menu plan for the week. Honestly, it is also useful to see what night each dinner was cooked and if it is time to recreate it into
another dish or toss out. I think the shopping list section is good too because I can cut out each list as I am ready to take it to the store with me. The task section for 
the week helps me to see what needs to be done for the week. I feel like I have really accomplished something when I am able to mark things off that list. There are
sections for projects, other information such as address and phone numbers, and bigger tasks (other than the daily one that is shown) that is useful as well. But 
my most favorite part is the Bible verse for each week. It encourages me and helps me to stay in God's word. My only complaint is that I wish the daily sections were 
bigger and that the paper used was much thicker. The paper is thin and can tear easily. Not sure if I will stay with this one. I like that you are always tweaking yours
and seeking out new ways to make your families lives run smoothly. My planner stays on my countertop and I refer to it often throughout the day. My sister has 
encouraged me to use my iphone planner, but I guess I am just old school. I love the pen and paper method.


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Michelle, thank you so much for sharing your planner with us! I love the way you are using it ... it seems to be a very complete planner - love the project planning pages and the shopping lists - and I appreciate that that the weekly spread makes space for to-do's AND menus! (I even like the little monthly calendar with the current week highlighted - handy!) I also like planners that feature inspiration - such as uplifting Scripture or interesting quotes or even seasonal notes. That is something I would definitely work into my own planner if I ever get around to finalizing one. (I have so many notes and layouts and "prototypes" ... I just have to commit, lol!) I really think planners should be as lovely as they are functional - that they should remind us of what is important, not just what needs tending. :)

Thank you, also, for sharing a filled-out week at a glance. I love seeing how people fill out their planners, and that could be just because I'm nosy, but I do find it helpful to see what people are writing down in those spaces. I also really love the "look" of your planner, and the convenient size ... though I hear you on the paper-feel. Paper is so important! I have found a couple of planners at - of all places - Stop N Shop, and I LOVE the feel of the paper! It can make such a difference to paper-product people such as ourselves. The Day Designer paper is ok - a bit thick and stiff when turning pages, which drives me just a little bit nuts ... but I'm determined to see if I can make it work. I follow a Day Designer fan page on Facebook and am enthralled with how much people love their DD's!

Ok, friends - I'd love to hear your thoughts on Michelle's planner and how you use your planner for encouragement as well as efficiency. If you have time, please drop her a note in the comment box below ... and I will be back tomorrow with another guest planner post!

(This is so fun, don't you think?)


p.s. And since you asked, Michelle - *grin* - yes, I am still working on my book! Every little chance I get ... which is not as often as I'd like, but such is life at the moment! I am hoping to have something ready to share by early next year! :)

Planner Party ~ Important Note!

Dear Friends,

This is just a quick note about planner party emails ...

I’ve heard from one person whose email I never received. Unfortunately, she used my old blog email address (comcast) so I never got her planner pics … :(

Here are the names of the people whose email I did receive and whose “guest posts” I’ll be sharing over the next week or so:

Kelly B, Tracy B, Michelle P, Amy B, Mary L, Denise H, Katie BH, Tanya W, Elizabeth P ...

If you sent me an email and don’t see your name listed, it’s possible you used my old address - but I hope you'll consider resending! I'm afraid the giveaway is over, but I'd still love to include you in our Planner Party queue! I think we're having lots of fun sharing planner pics and methods ... :)

My current blog email is:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

Thanks so much, and enjoy your Sunday, everyone!


Planner Party Guest Post Number Two: Tracey!

{This lovely planner post is from Tracey ... I hope you enjoy!}


Hi Dawn!

I thought I would share, as I am all about planners right now. I entered the world of Erin Condrin Life Planners and have finally found planner peace. I am a mom to three children and have a Etsy business so I need to be organized! But I also want to have memories, not just tons of to do lists. This planner allows me to be organized while also being creative. Here isa pic of this past week.

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Ok, all you Erin Condren planner people out there ... let's hear from you! :) These are such popular planners and I can see why! They really are so pretty ...

I've never seen one in real life - only on Pinterest and now, happily, here. I think it might actually be a good thing that they are only available by ordering - not like I could stumble across them at Target - because I can ASSURE you I would be going home with one of these babies before you could say "cash or credit, ma'am?"

(Hang on - I *think* they might be available at Staples ... can anyone attest to this ? I will have to investigate ...)

But Tracey, your planner is lovely! I love how you've set up this October page - filled with seasonal colors and cheerful stickers and washi tape. (My favorite month and colors!) And all your neat handwriting! I especially love how you have a balance of remembrances and to-do's - sentimental and practical. And a record of dinners you served your family, too ...

I appreciate a week-at-a-glance with a good bit of room for each day. I am currently using a Day Designer which is really snazzy but it might be too much "day" for me, if you know what I mean. Of course that might be me talking myself out of it so I can justify starting something else ...

Tracey, you've given us some very pretty food for thought! Readers, please leave a comment if you have time and tell us - are you a weekly or daily planner? I find it hard to commit to one over the the other!


And before I go, I have some exciting news! Tracey has kindly invited my readers to use a special coupon at her lovely Etsy shop, Grizzlie, which features all kinds of knitted delicacies. Take a peek around her shop and, should you find something you like (which is quite probable!) enter the coupon SunandCandlelight at checkout - you will save 15% on your purchase!

What a treat! Thank you for this kind offer, Tracey!


Enjoy your Sunday, my friends! Please check back tomorrow for another lovely planner party guest post! :)

Planner Party Guest Post Number One: Kelly!

Whew, that title's a mouthful, isn't it? Well, I couldn't think of a better way to say it ... this is a continuation of our Planner Party, but the words and pictures in this post (and the next eight to come) will be from one of my readers (in this case, Kelly), not me!
(Well, I'll talk a bit at the end and obviously I'm talking now, so I am here - just not for the "meat" of the post!)
So onward we go ... let's hear from Kelly!
Hello Dawn!
I am very excited to participate in your planning post! I have two main planners; one is for daily use and the other is for weekly use. Here are the details on what I am using:
Daily planner details
I began this planner in March of this year, I think after you published a bunch of planner posts. :) I had a vision and it evolved as the year progressed. In the beginning, I only created a month or two at a time so I could make tweaks as I went along. It’s October now and I feel the best about this planner than I have about any other I have used or created! I am currently brainstorming the layout and plan for my 2016 planner. I haven’t decided yet if I will create the whole thing at once (horrors in case I want to change anything!) or go 2-3 months at at a time. We shall see. It is a lot of work to create it from scratch but I am SO happy with it that it is worthwhile.
This is the book I am using: Moleskine Folio Professional Portfolio. The photo you see below is my 2016 planner just waiting to be created!
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This is what a weekly spread looks like:
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The top picture gives a good overview and the bottom picture allows you to see close up. There is a document on the right side of my weekly spread and that is my homeschool plan for the week. It is stapled over the previous or next week so that I still have access to the dates if needed, but is right there with my current week-at-a-glance. For each day of the week, I have the date, my husband’s work schedule, and any feast day or holiday. The next column shows any commitments I have out of the house so I know what I can and can’t plan to do at home that day; and next week I am adding a small “notes” column at the far right to write in prayer notes for that day and times to observe the moon or other tidbits like that. I think this will be a good column to add without taking away too much space for my to-dos.
This is what a monthly spread looks like:
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On the left is a small calendar just for noting special holidays and feasts that we will observe in some way. I am not using it to its full capacity yet; more to think on. Below it are seasonal notes for the month; if I clip anything from a magazine or anything like that, I just file it in my FCS and make a note of it here. I plan to add seasonal cleaning tasks to this page. The right page is my list of to-do’s for the month. I add them as I think of them. I also have budget notes and anything else I want to keep track of for the month. I will use a highlighter for any really big projects that must get done this month. Anything left undone at the end of the month gets transferred to the next month or dropped. This has helped me get so much done!
In the remaining pages of the book, I have a section for a log of picture books I read to my kids, my own personal reading list and log, and a huge section just for notes. Anything I am brainstorming or working through, I write in here. I did all of my homeschool brainstorming/planning in this. I also have notes from a retreat, chore plan ideas, snack/cooking ideas, etc. It is truly a home for anything I am thinking about and needing to work through. Next year I will number all of the pages and add an index page at the front as my notes are rather random. :)
Weekly planner details:
This is simply a 3-ring binder decorated with a beautiful Victoria magazine cover! I have four sections in this book: HS (homeschooling); HH (household); Seasonal/nature; and Field trips. I spend two nights per week doing our homeschool plan for the next week (two nights so I don’t have to stay up so late either night). While the year’s plans are already made, this is the time to look at math and reading lessons and gather materials needed; gather liturgical/saint books to read; etc. I have a list of all of the areas I need to cover during my planning nights so I don’t miss anything. Once a week I do my household planning for the next week. I also have a list of areas I want to be sure to cover, for example, assigning days to do laundry and other cleaning (I am so weak in the cleaning area!); updating our budget and/or paying bills; planning our family time if it won’t happen naturally; planning meals for the week (I do meal planning two weeks at a time). The seasonal/nature section is where I keep notes about what I hope we’ll study according to the month. Field trips? Places we can go - it helps to have them all handy.
In addition to these, I have reference binders for several different things (homeschooling and others) but they are used only on occasion.
With my daily and weekly planners, I really do feel that I am accomplishing a lot and keeping track of important things. Thank you for letting me share! Sorry this is so long. :) If anything is clear as mud, please let me know!
Take care,
Kelly, what a fantastic post! Everything is perfectly clear and never-ever apologize for "long" posts/comments/emails, whatever. I'm the wordiest person I know - I LOVE long conversations! :)
Well, this is a lovely system you have - I like that you have a weekly AND a daily planner, because right now I'm trying to decide which is better for me and now I'm thinking - why not both?! :) Your Moleskin is designed beautifully - I've spent a good deal of time on Pinterest looking at Moleskin planners and bullet journals! Their efficiency and adaptability are perfect for planner-making! And I love how you have everything so well thought out, especially how you've scheduled "maintenance" times - which I think is a real KEY to success. I think so often we set up this or that system and then just assume it will go well ... but without taking time to sit down and actually manage the system - to plan and write things down and tweak and consider - the system won't really work for us. We need to take an active part in the planning - as much as I love planners, they aren't magical objects! We have to commit to our planners if we want them to be the best they can be!
Thank you so much, Kelly, for sharing your planner with us here ... you have me eager to really think through my 2016 planner. How I can make it fit my needs better! 
My friends, if you have a moment, please drop Kelly a note in the comments box below! Is anyone else using a Moleskin notebook for planning? I'd love to hear about it!
Enjoy your Saturday, my friends! I'll be back tomorrow with our next guest post!

Let's Get the (Planner) Party Started!

Planner post 2 (1)

Happy Friday & Hooray! Our Planner Party is underway!

(I've been looking forward to this all week!)

Now, here's the thing about planners - they come in all shapes and sizes. SO many shapes and sizes! A planner might be a paper product or it could be a tech device ... it might lie flat on your desk or hang on your fridge or perhaps it simply slips into your pocket. Homemade or store-bought, spiral-bound or 3-hole-punched ... or maybe just a stack of sheets on a clipboard? The variety - and possibilities - are endless! And for some of us (yours truly included) this can be somewhat of a problem ... 

What to use? Which is best? Will it work? Should I try something else?

But whatever our planner looks like, many of us are using something to manage our busy lives. The trick is finding something that fits our needs and works well, but also makes us happy.

*Life is short - your planner should make you happy!*

Another neat thing about planners is - even when they're driving us crazy - we sure do love talking about them! I know I'm not the only one, because my planning posts attract more traffic and get pinned more than any others. You all know I LOVE to talk about planners, and I LOVE to see other people's planners ...

In fact, if I could, I would invite every single one of you here to my house ... I'd bake up some pretty cookies and brew up a big pot of tea (or perhaps decant a large vat of wine), and then we could all chat and spread out in one big ol' planner show-and-tell ...


(I haven't caught up with the Periscope trend yet, but I'm giving it some thought!)


Happily, I had a great response to this planner party idea, so I have a lot of "planner thoughts" to share - and that's not counting my own! So here's what I'm thinking ... today I will share the lovely planner comments folks left here at the blog ... and then, because several of you sent me wonderfully detailed descriptions, including photos, of your planners, I am going to share each one of those submissions separately, in posts to follow over the next week or so. This way we can really pace ourselves and digest each planner post thoroughly ...

So our "party" will keep on keeping on ... I have about 10 days of planner posts ready to roll ... and yes, one of them will be mine! ;)

Oh, and also! At the very bottom of this post is the name of the Autumn Bliss giveaway WINNER! Every one who left a comment or sent an email had a chance to win, and this morning I drew a name from the bunch. So please read on and I hope you enjoy!

(p.s. You are welcome to join the party! You may add your own planner thoughts in the comments box below - and of course emails are always lovely! Drop me a note at bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com and I'll add you to my planner queue!)


From Sherrylynne:

Here is my embarrassing reply to the calendar/planner/etc implementation question.
1.) Moleskin notebook used for my daily morning prayerbook. I journal the date, saint of the day with some sort of quote or reflection from Butler Lives of the Saints, and a quote from scripture chapter. I work my way thru the Bible one chapter per day. Then I write a prayer.
2.) At night, I close each day with a Simply Charlotte Mason calendar at my bedside recording what I am grateful for each day. I do this before my night prayers.
3.) Each child has a lesson planner which becomes there permanent record of daily studies with weekly grades, biblio, extra-curricular activities (and hours) and their semester grades. I staple in the year-end standardized tests as well.
4.) I keep a blue sky weekly calendar in my "morning basket" to record my rough plan of action for studies we do daily together and then either scribble in the extra material I tossed in on a whim or cross off what we didn't get to forward to the next time.
5.) THEN...there is my Erin Condren planner which is more like my daily plan and record. I.E. The repairman came to fix the dryer and make notes what to do to the washer this week. Borrowed a book to a neighbor. Mail a sympathy card etc. Holds my weekly menu plan, Christmas shopping list, etc.
6.) I do keep a 3 ring Liturgical Year planner from the now defunct website Sanctos Simplicitus that hold all the great ideas I collect from this blog and others that I look at before the beginning of each month to plan cool things to do to mark the season, practice our Faith, celebrate important events and people in our lives.
7.) Lastly, I keep a family monthly calendar that is the appointment calendar for the family. I use one monthly file folder as a catch all for sales flyers, festival notices and ideas to consider that my husband and I review each Sunday in our "Family Executive Committee" meeting before we have a general family meeting to go over the coming week and get everyone on the same page before the new week starts. Phew!!!
But i LOVE it!

There is nothing embarrassing about that reply, Sherrylynne! It's wonderfully descriptive and there seems to be a planning spot for every part of your life. I love the idea of a "family meeting" each weekend - we try to do that, too!

From Leah:

"As for planning? I have not been satisfied with a planner in a long time. Possibly the first year I homeschooled and it was an off-the-beaten-path planner (I think it was the first one I ran across that was specific to homeschooling.) I used to love Franklin Covey, but that was when I was working full time and the set-up made sense to me. Before that, well, that was ancient history and I didn't even have the internet to get me sidetracked...the year started with a "19"!

Right now I am using free printouts until I can find something, but I only print them out a week at a time and they are undated. I need something that is flexible, but not too open-ended, lest I stop using it entirely. I need commitment, but nothing too strict (glad I have a laid-back husband!) I would love to see what others use. It's a shame planners don't come in quarters or seasons rather than by the year! I think I could commit to three months of the same format ;-)

Leah I was a Franklin Covey planner person, too! Back in the mid-90s - first job - and I loved it. I completely outgrew it when I had my first child, so I know what you mean. And it's interesting that you mentioned planners coming in quarters ... I have been experimenting with that a bit. Adding a small section of the year to my master binder but not the whole year at once. I can convince myself I need the whole year in a heartbeat though, so it hasn't stuck.

From Arlene ...

Dawn, I have been coveting an Erin Condren planner but I really cannot justify the price. (You know us organized paper lovers are all about planners!) Right now I am using a small planner I found at Ross for $3. I got some stickers from the $1 aisle at Target and dressed up October ... I think a planner party would be lots of fun!!

Arlene, I too have been eyeing the EC planners - they are so pretty and colorful! I hesitate to buy anything that expensive because I know myself - I know I will find fault with it and feel the need to try something else, which would be an awful waste of money.  

From Sarah:

Hi Dawn! I don't really use a planner. I have three months of Calendar pages tacked up neatly in my kitchen (the current month and the two upcoming). I write down all important activities and appointments for our family of seven. I decorate each page with themed stickers, just to pretty them up and make it festive. I also keep a small note book open on my counter with my lists: chores, shopping, etc. I'm not sure it's the best system, but it works for me right now.

That's the best thing though - it works for you! I love the simplicity of it ... I am awful at keeping my tools to a minimum and I think that's a big part of my planner problems!

From Gill:

I used Martha Greenes Yearbook for the Homemaker and an a4 file when I was homeschooling. Later I switched to a5 hard backed journals with blank pages for a household planner, keeping a weekly menu plan and each day's tasks, recipes, thoughts, prayers and crafts noted, with space for addresses and a reading book list at the back. These worked great for me and I often referred back to them. I covered each one with seasonal fabric and wrote the date and book number on the spine when full. Now I am using a midori lookalike that my daughter crafted for me. I love it; the sensory effect of the leather cover, the neatness of the design and the clip that holds a pencil right there inside it. But I don't like the temporary feel of the notebook inserts, and I don't see them being easy to store on the bookshelf with all my previous journals. Although I love the chocolate brown leather cover, I miss the cheery hit of colour that the seasonal covers gave. 
Soooo, I think I will go back to my hard backed notebooks, and retire the midori to another purpose.

Gill, my favorite planners are always the notebooks I convert into planners. I get such satisfaction from them! I love how they encompassed so many areas of your life - the tasks, recipes, prayers, crafts, and personal pursuits. I love having everything at my fingertips. 

From  Melissa:

I know it's not very romantic, but I use an app on my phone called Cozi. While it does have it's limitations, I love that I can assign events to certain members of the family. It also has a menu planning space. I can see my calendar while I plan my menu and I can also save my recipes so I can come back to them. I can make as many To Do lists as I want and assign them to members of the family. I can also make shopping lists that allow me to check things off as I shop. The things it can't do I usually us a sticky note to jot down on. Thanks!

Melissa, I think a lot of people are very efficiently making great use of their phones nowadays. My Bill is NOT a paper person at all and is always trying to get me to use my phone for more of my planning! I will admit to using my Notes app sometimes for shopping lists. I find it convenient to use when I have a sleeping baby in my arms, and when pushing a cart around the store! :)

From Mary:

Hi Dawn, I'm using an inkwell press planner and do like it... although with our large family I find myself relying more on our Google calendar calendar everyday!

Oh, Mary ... what have you done, lol? I had never heard of Inkwell planners - but oh, that is a very nice planner! Very pretty and creative ... I will have to take a closer look! :) 

From Tracy

Hi Dawn! I use a Brownline Month-at-a-Glance planner. I have used this planner for years and years. It has nice big boxes every day for me to record appointments. And the back has several blank pages, which I label (and decorate) for each month of the year. It is here that I record notes, phone call conversations etc. that I may need to refer back to from time to time. I also keep a separate notebook of "to do" lists and a separate menu planner. The Seasonal Beehive looks just lovely!

Another planner I'd never heard of! What I love most about your comment, Tracy, is that you have used this planner for years and years. That tells me it is truly working for you - and that's the best feeling! :)


Well, thank you so much for your input, ladies! I also want to thank the ladies who sent me emails with pictures - you will be seeing their posts over the next several days!

As for me, well, I am using a few different things and I will do my own "show and tell" soon. I must admit, I find shiny new planners (such as the Erin Condren planners Arlene mentioned) so very tempting. Truly, I have to avoid planner aisles when I'm feeling weak. But as much as I love new planners, I'm still stuck on the idea of making my own planner. I always come back to that ... and I think I always will! That said, I do have not one but TWO "commercial" planners in play at the moment, trying to see which is the better fit ... but as I said, I will get into my own planning situation in an upcoming post. :)

Well, for now, and before wrapping up, I would like to announce the winner of my Autumn Bliss giveaway WHICH includes a copy of the Winter Seasonal Beehive, generously donated by its creator, Cay Gibson ...

*drumroll please*





Congratulations, Leah! I will be in touch soon to organize mailing details ... I hope you will enjoy Cay's "Seasonal Beehive Winter Planner" and the Autumn Goodies I will send your way! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on planners!


To all who left a comment, sent an email, or just stopped by to read - I say thank you! And I wish you all a wonderful weekend ... I hope you are able to take some time to relax and refresh yourself ... and perhaps take a little time to PLAN for next week!

See you here again very soon ...

Menu Monday

(It's Tuesday, I know, but I'm rolling with it!)

So here are this week's dinner menus, which are subject to change because Mama has a head cold ...


Monday, October 12th (Columbus Day)

lasagna, salad, garlic bread


Tuesday, October 13th

chicken cacciatore (crockpot) over leftover rice, butter leaf salad, toasted rolls


Wednesday, October 14th

grilled turkey cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, apple coleslaw


Thursday, October 15th

butternut squash pasta with alfredo sauce, grilled apple-chicken sausages, mixed greens salad (from today's farm share)


Friday, October 16th

homemade pizzas, caesar salad, apple cobbler


Saturday, October 17th

nitrate-free hot dogs, baked beans, roasted autumn vegetables, brown bread


Sunday, October 18th (St. Luke)

chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, virgin sangria, autumn fruit & caramel dipping sauce




Now, most of the lasagna went back to BC with our Bookworm - but there was plenty left behind to serve as an easy lunch for the boys today. And the chicken is doing its thing in the crockpot - smells amazing! - which is quite nice. 

What are you cooking today?

Well my friends, I hope your week is going smoothly so far and that you are all feeling healthy and well. Both Earlybird and I are down-for-the-count with a head cold, and I am reminded that being prepared (with home remedies) and taking precautions (with hyper-hygiene and immunity boosting) at this time of year is a really smart idea. Time to revisit THAT section of my planner ...

Speaking of planners, I'd like to remind you all that I am still asking for comments and emails ahead of Friday's Party - and I am so pleased that many of you have already left/sent your comments/thoughts/pics! Every submission is appreciated so much!


Email can be sent to bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

(Before Thursday evening, if you please.)

And now I'm off to sit with my little one and coax him to sleep ... a rapidly cooling cup of tea at my side and maybe a few citrus drops ... a rainy morning has turned into a mild and mostly sunny afternoon. There's a soft breeze coming through the crack in my window ... smells of foliage and earth ... and those wet golden leaves are just sparkling in the slanted light ...

Fall is truly a beautiful time of year - head colds and all!

See you again very soon!

Exciting Giveaway News!

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope your weekend is as lovely as the one we're enjoying here in New England - bright, brisk and brimming with color! We just got in from a fun family hike through the woods - and there will be pictures to share, natch - but for today I am popping in with a little update on my "Planner Party," which is coming up this Friday ...

Because I have some VERY exciting GIVEAWAY news!! :)

Now, just to refresh your memory - last week I asked to hear about what your planner (or calendar) looks like these days, and how it is (or isn't) working for you. I'm really hoping to hear your input on this subject - and frustrations are as welcome as adulations! Some people love planners, whereas some folks, not so much. But we all have a life we need to manage, and I'm interested to know how you're doing just that! Details on my "planner party" are here and you can reach me by comment box or email - and pics are more then welcome!


Now here's the really fun news ...

Remember I mentioned that everyone who participates in the Planner Party is automatically entered in my Autumn Bliss giveaway? Well, I am about to sweeten the deal considerably!

My dear friend, Cay Gibson, author of several wonderful educational books, has been very busy putting together a beautiful and innovative series of planners ... and she is calling these planners:

The Seasonal Beehive

Seasonal beehive

(Isn't that just lovely?!)

Well, I am honored to announce that Cay has graciously donated the Winter Seasonal Beehive (cover, shown above) for me to offer as part of my Giveaway!!

Yes!! That means if you participate in my Planner Party and your name is chosen - you will win a package of Autumn goodies PLUS Cay's beautiful planner!!!

A bit more on the planner, in Cay's own words ...

"I want this seasonal product to compliment your favorite planner, not make it more burdensome or awkward. I want it to be more of a keepsake, something for you to look back on years from now and see those monthly praise reports and those intentional prayer requests and remember those moments you found yourself in nature and know how many times you turned to God and what you challenged yourself to do each season and what creative outlets you were intentional with, and what books and plans you spotlighted that season …
I call it a planner for lack of a better term but its primary goal is to make you focus on the things that deserve your mindfulness as you pass through each of life's seasons."

My fiends, I encourage you to take a closer look at Cay's series - I think it will be a wonderful resource for so many women looking to slow down and truly savor the seasons in a simple and meaningful way. She is currently working on the next issue (Spring), but Winter is now available (and you can see examples here). What a gift this planner would be to your busy and overwhelmed self. I think Cay's planner series will be a blessing to many!

So! I hope this makes my little "planner party" all the more enticing to you, dear readers! Remember, all you have to do is let me know what you are using for a planner/calendar these days and how you are liking it (or not). Or perhaps you are between planners - or like me, you're juggling too many planners! - and feeling frustrated as life slips through the cracks. Wherever you're at, whatever your planner looks like, I'd love to hear from you. I think this is a great topic to discuss and share ideas with each other!

You may comment here at the blog or please send me an email here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

Pictures are welcome and I'd like all submissions by the end of the day Thursday, please. I hope to get the "Planner Party" started on Friday! I am really excited to talk about planners with you all - you know it's a favorite topic of mine, and I myself am currently somewhat frustrated with what I'm using, so I'll be eager to hear from you all!

Well I'll be off now, but I wish you all a pleasant Sunday afternoon/evening ... and I look forward to seeing you here again soon!

How about a Planner Post ... Party? (+ a giveaway)

But first, a word from our sponsor ...

O in hat 2

... whose generous afternoon nap brought you today's post.


Well, I just had to start with that sweet little face in the adorable acorn hat - a lovely gift from my dear friend, Kelly. Some kids are just hat kids - and Little Bear is definitely one of them! All summer long it was baseball caps, or straw hats, or floppy-brimmed bucket hats ... every day he was outdoors - with a hat! But now that there's a chill in the air, we're all about warm, knitted things ... such as this gorgeous, handcrafted treasure.

How happy does he look? How very "fall" is this photo? How lucky am I to have such generous and talented knitter-friends?!

(Kelly has blessed our LB with a treasure, and I truly treasure her friendship!)

Ok, now, back to the topic at hand ... planners! (Or calendars, if you prefer that term.) I am in a real planner/calendar mood lately ... I've been scoping out Pinterest for ideas and tweaking my main planning binder and loving (still!) my new daybook, and now, I'm eager ready to chat. I have a draft-post in the works - and you all know I can talk at great length about planning - but I am curious to see/hear what you have going on planning-wise!

So, how about I host a "planner party" here next week?

I'm thinking near to the end of the week, so we all have time to get our planners together. All "dressed up and ready to party," so to speak. Here's what I'm thinking:

I want to know what you are using for a calendar/planner (or planners as the case may be) and how you like it (them) or not. I would also love to see your planner(s) if possible - so if you are able, you might send me a picture or two? (Or three, or four, I'm not picky.)

I will do a post about my own calendars and planners and then share what you all have sent me in my post. I will only publish your first name (or a pseudonym if you prefer), your words and your pic, if you sent one - or more. (I can't stress enough pics are welcome! I think we all love to see people's planners!)

So, please send me an email with your planner input here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I'll bug nag remind you about the post over the next several days. I'm thinking Friday for the actual posting, so I'd appreciate submissions by Thursday please.

Now, not to bribe you or anything ... ahem ... but I may just have a little "autumn bliss giveaway" as an incentive for those who participate. Just a little something fun I have in mind ... Join the party and you've entered your name!

(Note: If you'd rather not email,  you are also welcome to write your thoughts in the comments box below ... I will add these to the post next week.) 

Well my friends, the aforementioned nap looks to be nearing its end, so I'm going to wrap up for now. The autumn sun outside my window is nearing the tops of the trees, which means it's time to shift gears, stretch limbs and get back on track! First up - a diaper change and a couple of good books. Then we'll start in on supper. :)

But I thank you as always for reading, and I wish you all a pleasant evening ...

See you here again very soon!

ETA! Here is an exciting update to the Planner Party Post GIVEAWAY information!