Homekeeping Journal Feed

Early Autumn Homekeeping - a printable PDF! 🧑

IMG_5609Hello my friends, and happy Sunday!

I'm popping in today to share with you a special homekeeping booklet I made up in case you might like a copy for yourself. It's called "Early Autumn Homekeeping," and it's 34-pages-full of forms for organizing your seasonal home-centered tasks. It's similar to the booklet I made up for Summer, but I've tweaked things a bit and added some extra fun planning pages.

Mixed in with the home-oriented sheets, is a page devoted to self-care (seen pictured at left) ... because as important as it is to be good stewards of our family's resources, it's also vital we carve out time for ourselves when we can.

From page nine of my booklet:

"As passionate as I am about celebrating the seasons with my family, I always take time for my own private observations. These are very simple, yet satisfying, rituals that connect me with the turning of time and the unique beauty of each passing season. I certainly don’t do all of these things in any one given year, but keeping mindful of them lifts my spirits, and each week I look ahead at my schedule for ways I might squeeze in a little seasonal β€œme” time."

I hope you enjoy my Autumn Homekeeping booklet - as always it's free for your personal use and if you'd like to share it online, just let me know. And please let me know if you have any trouble printing it! :-)

Ok, here it is:

Early Autumn Homekeeping (printable PDF)

In my next(ish) post, I will share where I store this little planner and how I'm using it alongside my other planning sheets. Spoiler alert: it involves a 3-ring binder!

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

p.s. Will I make booklets for each season? Yes! Next up is my "Holiday Homekeeping" booklet (for November and December) and that will be posted later this fall.

My Planning Sheets & Planning Binder {A Tour!}


Hello everyone and Happy Thursday! I hope you're all enjoying your week. :)

On New Year's Day I shared my 2017 printable planning sheets, with a promise to expand on how I'm storing and using them. So I'm here today to follow up and do just that! I'm keeping those seasonal planning sheets in the binder shown above, sandwiched in between my domestic journal and general household tabs ...

Now, I really went back and forth between having my planning sheets spiral-bound at the copy shop or storing them in a 3-ring binder. I decided to use a binder because I like combining multiple planning tools when I can and I appreciate the flexibility of a binder as well. Most importantly, I'm not going to be taking these sheets out of the house - they will be used at my desk or kitchen counter, so a binder just made more sense!

{Note: I'm still using my Day Designer for everyday, nitty-gritty planning ... and I'll share a post about that very soon!}

I really do love binders even if they can be a bit cumbersome. But if you work at a counter or desk (or as seen here, a kitchen table) they perform just swell. I chose a Martha Stewart binder because I just love how well made they are and how smoothly the rings work. I have yet to find a binder of similar quality ...


I have several MS binders (black, red, aquamarine) but this is the first time I've bought this pretty dove gray. I liked how it sort of blends in with my kitchen. :) I added a soft brown label to the front that reads: "Hanigan Household Notebook."

Household notebook ... planning binder ... they're pretty much the same thing. I've called it different things through the years, tweaking it countless times to better suit my needs as a mom, a homemaker, a home teacher, and well ... plain old me! Since I'm adding a lot of "planning" to its contents this year, I've been referring to it as my planning binder ...

Ok, so now I'm going to walk you through the binder as I've set it up for this brand new year ...

(Hang on to your hats friends, maybe grab another cup of tea - this is a pretty big post!)


Binder shown open - inner pocket holds this week's ABA cards. (Earlybird has daily home therapy and I write out activities for his therapist on index cards.) In the pictures below you can see I added my decluttering calendars and though not shown, I usually keep the current month's WGBH Guide here for handy reference.


The title page is made from pretty scrapbook paper I've had for years (I love bright colors set against a dark background).

IMG_2776 (1)

A handy reference courtesy of The Day Designer: 2017 at a glance.


To the back side of that calendar reference I (washi)-taped my own year at-a-glance, with each month's events listed out. At the top of the page is my word-of-the-year, followed by a favorite quote ...


Now the first section of my binder is my domestic journal. I've blogged a lot about this journal in the past but basically this is a brain dump - a place where I write down all kinds of random things and add clippings of all sorts. I use plain loose-leaf paper for this journal and I only keep a month's worth of journaling here at a time. At the end of each month I review my notes and lift out the journal pages to store in a separate binder. Then I add fresh sheets for the new month ahead.

I keep this journal open on my kitchen counter through the day so I can easily jot down a note as it comes to me (a nature observation, a funny thing one of the boys said, a post idea) or add a clipping as I find it (a newspaper or magazine snippet, pretty wine label, movie stub). I've found by keeping it very informal AND extremely accessible I've been able to journal way more than I ever would have, had I made it a more formal affair. And journaling is really important to me. I've been doing it since I was very young ...


Here is the pretty binder clip I use to easily flip between the current journal page and the current monthly planning section ...


Now comes the January cover page, which is a piece of my favorite scrapbooking paper cut down to size ...


And next comes the monthly calendar - though really I should say, calendars ... ahem. Let me explain. :)

In my planning sheet set you will find a month-at-a-glance calendar for each month of the year, but I still rely on my favorite two-page layout, large-grid calendars (made by DayTimer). They have tons of space and nicely-spaced lines for neat writing. I'm currently using both monthly calendars to see which one works better.

(Note: The DayTimer calendars you order online are ivory-hued rather than white. I buy mine at Staples and they are the traditional white ... not sure why they are different! But I must say they changed the accent colors to a brighter green and I'm not very fond of it!)


Here is the January cover page I made. (There is one for each month with a similar graphic, a vintage floral calendar I found on Pinterest.)


And now here we have my own month-at-a-glance calendar, and as you can see, I also have lined boxes, but they are much smaller than the DayTimer calendar. I happen to write pretty small so it seems to work all right ... still not sure I can manage with such a small calendar though! (Maybe next year I'll try to make a two-page style spread.)

On the far side is one of the extra planning pages I made for the month ("Looking Ahead: 2017"). I attached a photocopy of last year's New Year goals - the ones which never really transpired as I'd hoped. I decided to just ... try again! I've been working on a list that will address each goal in incremental steps. Because it's one thing to SAY you want to "eat better" and it's another thing entirely to actually EAT BETTER. This might be a topic for a future post ... making goals more achievable. :)


Next flip ... on the left a page for birthday "blessings" ... just a little wish list and some notes on my gulp 48th birthday which happens this month (actually, today!). And on the right is a planning sheet for our winter term of homeschooling. I have four boxes here - general notes, and then a box for each of my boys.


The backside of that sheet is a general "winter term" notes page, and then comes a January 2017 overview: To Do This Month, House & Garden, Themes & Ideas and Notes.


And now we hit the weekly sections! Here is this week's planning sheet (each month's sheets correspond in color with the scrapbook paper divider).


I added a homemade pagefinder here - just a piece of thick printed scrapbooking paper with a washi-tape covered sticky tab at the top. It makes it easier to find the current week when I need it.

(Sometimes I leave my binder open to the spot where I left off in my journal, and sometimes I have it open to the weekly planning section. Occasionally I have it open to the month at a glance!)


And then we have some printables I found online thanks to Pinterest. They are made by Fab n' Free and are the prettiest planning sheets I've ever seen! I am using several of her printables in my planner - trying them out to see how they work for me. Above is her week at a glance sheet ... I am seeing how it works as an agenda. (As opposed to just the overview my own planning sheet provides.)


I love the colors and the design ... just trying to decide how to use the checklist on the righthand side of the sheet. Housekeeping tasks? Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? Top four homeschooling goals for the day? Hmmm ...


Another really cool printable ... a social media/blogging agenda! I've never actually used a blog planner or anything like that, but I can see the advantage to such an idea! I usually have little sticky notes with post ideas ... and recently I started jotting down IG and FB ideas on my DayDesigner page ... but this is a very pretty and sensible way to think about your week ahead as a blogger/pinner/poster. :)


Another printable I'm finding very handy is this 2-week cleaning schedule. I'm using it as a checklist for my progress with the "52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge." I'm recording each day's decluttering mission on this chart and checking off tasks as I go along. 


Broken down in this way, it all seems very doable. :) I made this a two-sided sheet and will flip it (punching the opposite side of the sheet) once I get beyond these first two weeks ...


A couple more printables I really like but am not using just yet - a weekly meal plan with shopping list ...


And a larger grid, forward planning meal plan ...


Finally, I have my home learning worksheet. This sheet appears at the end of the weekly section only because I printed the start of the NEXT week's sheets on the backside of this one. I may juggle things around a bit because I might like having our lesson plans a little closer to the weekly overview and agenda.


And with a turn of the page, here is next week's planning sheets all ready to go! (See how the home learning worksheet lines up right next to the overview? I have yet to add all the extra printables here.) And after the last week in January comes the January review page and then we begin February with a new scrapbook divider ...


At the very back of the binder are my household tabs:

1. Personal (Blogging, projects, writing, etc.)

2. Routines & Schedules

3. Household Information

4. Budgeting/Financial

5. Meal Planning

6. Home Education

7. Family & Friends

 8. Journal Index

These are Martha Stewart tabs - I loved the soft shades! I used a Sharpie to write on the tabs but they started to smudge so I placed a small piece of scotch tape over each tab until the ink set. (Note: once I lifted the tape I lifted most of the ink with it! I'm going to need to write over the original pen with something more permanent!)

Now to go through each of these tabs would make this very long post even longer, so I'll stop here. I will say that - as I have blogged about in the past - I have separate binders for each of the above subjects, because I don't want to make this binder too bulky. That said, I do like having some information right at my fingertips - routines we follow, class schedules, passwords, a contacts list and master grocery list, etc. These are the kinds of things I look at often and prefer having in my master binder rather than in the additional binders I store in the library. 


Well my friends, I hope you have enjoyed this lengthy and leisurely tour of my 2017 Planning Binder! I had fun photographing all these pages and talking about them here with you. (Obviously this is one of my favorite topics!) I know we're barely two weeks into the new year but so far things are going pretty well with this system - the binder is fun and manageable and the Day Designer is still my go-to for everyday, where-am-I-at kind of planning. As I promised above I will have a Day Designer tour coming up very soon!

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful weekend! Mine starts tomorrow ... Bill and the boys have given me a "birthday weekend" in which I can do whatever I'd like and they'll hold down the fort. Needless to say most of my plans revolve around things I'll be doing right here at home! Reading, writing, planning, puttering ... maybe a quick jaunt to the craft store for supplies. :) 

So take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon! ❀

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!

Every Day Has a Story ...

Candle on napkin

Happy Wednesday, my friends ... long time no see!

This post has been an open draft on my computer for some time now ... but things have been a bit topsy-turvy here with all the snow! We're in a short lull now (weekend storm ahead!) and I'm trying to get back on track. Thanks for your patience as I worked on this long-promised post!

So today I'd like to talk about something I mentioned in a previous post - about how I like to give my days "stories." It's really quite a simple concept - not very original or life-changing - but I think it's a great exercise in getting yourself one step closer to a "system" that works best for you. And that's something we've been talking about recently: how do we establish routines that help us manage the needs of our family and home? (While keeping our own health and happiness in mind?)

I have always "written stories" when planning out big projects like holidays, seasons and parties, but it works well for all kinds of things - mornings, bedtimes, Sundays, babymoons, and spring cleaning, etc. I like to start by envisioning a story for whatever it is I am planning - so here's what I do, in a nutshell:

I simply grab a piece of paper and a pencil and take a few - or several - quiet moments to think about what it is I am trying to plan. I imagine how it looks, what is happening, who's present and how I feel ... and create a vision that is, perhaps a bit idealized, maybe even unattainable, but will ultimately represent my true hopes and values.

I know that sounds a bit elaborate for something so commonplace, but I really do feel this "mental exercise" helps. And I don't know about you, but I can use all the help I can get when it comes to managing my responsibilities - namely, my family and home! 

But before diving into the days individually, I begin with "my day" in general ... so I imagine waking up and going through the motions of the day. I try to think about how I'd like things to be, ideally ...

  • My bedroom is neat and I'm up early enough that there is quiet around me.
  • I have a cup of fresh coffee thanks to my sweet husband ...
  • Phone in hand, I take time for a bit of contemplation: prayer, news, and email
  • I have clothing laid out and the bathroom is tidy and set up for quick washing and dressing.
  • I leave the bed freshly made and head downstairs ...
  • (Bill has helped with changing and dressing Little Bear. Earlybird is most likely up and he's been given juice and a snack.)
  • Coffee is hot and the kitchen is neat as a pin after a thorough once-over last night.
  • Breakfast is warm in the crockpot (or set out on kitchen table, ready to assemble).
  • I check my journal-binder and look over the day's agenda.

(And so on.)

As I read back over these rather comforting thoughts, I see where I can take action to make this more of a reality. (Underlined words indicate where action is needed ...) I can see that a lot of morning "joy" begins the night before, so I add tasks to my evening routine with that in mind ... set coffee maker to brew before bed, tidy bedroom and master bath before bed and set out washcloth and hair tie, and outfits for myself and the younger boys. Charge phone and have apps/subscriptions that allow for daily prayer, news updates and email. Etc.

(NOTE: This is not what happens, exactly ... not everyday, anyway ... this is an ideal situation!)

As for planning the days themselves, I begin with Sunday because this is the day I really want to get right. In fact, this was the day that kind of kicked off my daily stories, because I was so frustrated that our precious Sundays were starting off harried and ending up as a catchall of missed chores and last-minute errands!

So my ideal Sunday has a story like this ...

  • We (some of us) attend early Mass ...
  • We are not rushed, things have been organized the night before: donation envelopes, church clothes, Crackerjack's Mass signature card, my "nice" pocketbook :)
  • We arrive at Mass early so we can sit quietly and pray, read over the bulletin, relax/absorb, connect with our fellow parishioners ...
  • A light breakfast (bread/muffins/fruit) is ready when we get home, along with fresh coffee and Sunday punch. 
  • We have a quiet day, there are no outside commitments, and we don't shop or run errands.
  • Instead, we spend time on home-oriented projects, visiting perhaps, and there's a big family sit-down dinner in the early afternoon.
  • Over dinner, we talk about the week's homily and any church news, as well as the week ahead and family goals/schedules.
  • Time is spent outside whenever possible - in the garden or as a family, on a hike or bike ride. "Walking the boundaries" together to see how the property is faring. 
  • I spend time catching up on correspondence with family and friends.
  • I read back over my week's journal and index information.
  • I spend time with Crackerjack, updating his assignment board and discussing expectations.
  • I might spend time baking for the week if I didn't get to it on Saturday.
  • I look over the household budget - organize receipts/statements from previous week; talk with Bill about upcoming week's expenses.
  • I prepare homeschool materials for week ahead and the boys' daily task cards.
  • I place grocery order for the week.
  • The trash and recycling is organized for morning.


And remember, this is my STORY ... not always my TRUTH. At least not in its entirety. :)

And as you can see, the exercise kind of morphs into a more traditional list of things to do, but still, it's part of my vision to have time for these things. And it's safe to say, every vision includes the whole house being neat and clean ... whatever the day or occasion ... but it is also safe to say, that's a pretty high horse to climb! But a clean home, to my mind, is the canvas for much family joy and a balm to the spirit as well ... but that's a post for another day. :)


I've had these stories in my head for years, and I like to revisit them in quiet moments, especially when I'm tweaking my routines. (I can put myself back to sleep at night by walking through a story in my mind ...) But I'm now going to keep these stories printed out and stored in one of my binders (either my main planning binder or in the general housekeeping binder).

And from here I feel I can start making some helpful day-by-day task lists that will assist me in creating the kind of week I want my family to live. That I want to live. I know what I do as a wife and mother is important - I don't suffer any insecurity on that front - but when I connect my homekeeping "heart" to my everyday routine, it makes the whole process that much more meaningful and rewarding. I think so, anyway. Does that make any sense, lol?


Oh my goodness, this is so long-winded I'm afraid I have surely bored some of you, but I hope there is some items of interest here for my like-minded homekeeping friends! Honestly I can (obviously) think and talk about this topic at great length ... in fact, I have often thought, I would actually read a novel(la) written entirely about a housewife's days spent caring for her family's home, through the seasons and the ups and downs of everyday life. There wouldn't have to be any drama or suspense ... it would still be exquisitely interesting to me! For example, we are listening to Little House in the Big Woods right now - a wonderful story for the children to hear for many reasons (and especially during our own long winter) - but my favorite parts are the detailed sections on Ma's chores and home keeping! And I often find myself appreciating how simple life was back then ... but then I remember how "easy" we have it nowadays. (I don't face down any bears when getting milk for my family!) And it keeps it all in perspective. :)

Ok, that's enough from me, I think! I'll be back again soon - hoping to have my routines post up next. (Or perhaps, the wall-a-week cleaning post.) But I'd love to hear from you if you have time ... about your own stories, and if you do anything similar when contemplating how you'll manage your week at home, with your family. Or maybe you do this with your work? Bill has been sharing with me how at the office, his team works together to come up with stories for how projects will go ... and then breaking them down into tasks that will make sense to everyone and move them closer to their goals. I loved hearing about their method and he loved hearing that I've been doing something like this (in my own humble way) for years!

Right. I'm off ... lest I continue, lol. Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

January Journal Work

January journal 4

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Hope your week's going well ...

So yesterday, as the snow blew and blustered outside - and while the baby napped - I got around to a little domestic paperwork. It being February, I pulled last month's journal pages from my binder and filed them in my Yearbook binder behind the January tab.

I then sat down with a piece of paper and some sticky notes (and a cup of cocoa!) to do some indexing and I thought I'd share with you what I wrote down ... it might give you an idea of the kinds of things I "journal" about and also, some of my deep winter "thoughts and themes" might strike a cord with you! :)

The whole process took me about 30 minutes. I flipped through the journal pages and read over each notation/clipping. If it was something I would want to remember (or return to) I jotted it down on a loose-leaf "index page." (Which would later be added to my Jan-Feb binder.)  If it was something I needed to act on soon or record on another list, I jotted it down on a sticky note ...

So, first, here's a look at my January Journaling:

* spiced white hot chocolate (crockpot)

* first bird of the year (robin)

* blessed chalk handed out at Mass on Jan. 1st

* picked up liturgical wall calendar at Mass

* color of the year announced ("marsala" by Pantone, "guilford green" by Benjamin Moore)

* a scattered list of Jan-Feb themes to incorporate into the season ... (ex. winter citrus, birthday joy, hand-written letters, Burns Night dinner, seed catalogs, snow days, candles/warmth ...)

* book idea: "A Few Nice Things for New Year's Day" ~ a first family walk, first bird, first sunrise, happy jar, pic-a-day, thank you notes, Christmas card review, old-fashioned movies & popcorn, roast dinner ...)

* in the MSL D/J issue: leftover eggnog latte recipe, citrus-spice candle craft

* Jenney C.'s almond milk-gingerbread latte (FB)

* Twelfth Night - beer-braised beef & parsnip stew

* Little Christmas/Three Kings Day 

* Tasha Tudor Museum Newsletter (order back issues)

* craft: wintery jar-candle centerpiece (twine/yarn around ball jar rims, red candles, set in vintage metal cake pan, greenery/berries/pinecones around the jars)

* Downton Abbey "manners guru" interview

* lemon curd recipe for scones (Boston Globe Magazine)

* aggressive coyote noted in neighboring town

* little notes on Little Bear's words and actions

* spied a weasel on next road over

* Boston is the US 2024 Olympic bid!

* "Winter was a time of some leisure on the farm." (quote from Yankee Magazine article)

* book theme idea: "Winter Cheer"

* observed a large flock of robins by library in next town

* spotted a large hawk in tree by mailbox

* heard a woodpecker knocking in woods

* Patriots are going to the Superbowl!!!

* tag-team scribbles by Earlybird and Little Bear

* purple Ball jars idea - Lent, Advent Garden (solar lantern lids)

* Feast of St. Agnes ~ snowflake cake (white with apricot jam)

* National Hot Tea Month

* "Skills Every Child Needs" from Parents Magazine (social graces)

* football-shaped snack ideas (People Magazine)

* National Handwriting Day

* "A Blizzard of Historic Proportions"

* National Catholic Schools Week (1/25-1/31) ~ post idea: how do we weave our Faith into our homeschool/home life? 

* craft idea: paper chain with links for each day in holiday/seasonal papers

* Superbowl goodies (craft/recipe ideas)

* Downton Abbey TV Guide cover

  January journal 3

I filled four sticky-notes with items that need more immediate action:

* info. re ~ a dermatologist to give to Bill

* lesson ideas re ~ American Tall Tales (listening to these with EB) - logging, map of forests in US, tree types, where do legends originate (map), Niagara trip?

* Holy Week Cleaning outline

* Wall-a-Week Cleaning schedule

* summer project: cooking lessons with boys (per BW's request)

* for EB's portfolio - Popular Mechanics for Kids dvd, "Mom, did you know pollution is bad? It comes from cars and buildings ... and it's really bad."

* Ask Magazine, Feb. issue: Fire (Candlemas/February learning theme)

* passwords created recently to record in binder

* a friend's birthday to add to calendar

* weekly news quiz in Globe (for Crackerjack)

* meal rotation idea (4 meals x 7 days = 28 meals/month)

* craft binder - monthly bunting, a "mama" smock for seasons and storytelling

* pick up a beef pie from local farm (per BW's request)

* Great Zoo of China - a book to check out at library (for BW)


So now my main binder has just a couple of journal pages so far ... but I'm sure by the end of February it will be filled up once again!

January journal 2

Now, before I go I want to show you this particular clipping (above) that I added to my January journal ... it's from a Paper Source catalog and I just set up this very set of chalkboard squares (rectangles, really) on my kitchen wall! I can't wait to show you how I'm using them ... they look fantastic! I'll tell you more in my next post. :)

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

What My Planner/Journal Looks Like Now ...

New journal 13 *❀* New journal 14

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

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

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

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

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


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

Plannerjournal 3

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

Plannerjournal 4

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

New journal 13

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

New journal 14

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

New journal 10

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

Plannerjournal 7

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

New journal 9

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

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

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

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

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

Daybook: Journal pages filed for current season.

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

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

New journal 7

Ok ... still with me?

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

New journal 1

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

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

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

New journal 2

New journal 3

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

 So what is the journal for, exactlly?

New journal 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss

VH nest 1

Of Note

National Indian Pudding Day (13th), America Recycles Day (15th), Boston Archdioscese Pastoral Plan Announcement (15th), Waldorf School Holiday Fair (17th), Homemade Bread Day (17th), Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patron Saint of Bakers (17th), Giving Tree up at Church (18th), Oprah's Favorite Things (18th)


Fairly seasonal: milder to start, a showery Tuesday, then sunshine and cooler temps for the balance of the week.

Rake leaves, continue yard cleanup.

Winterize container garden.

Get nuts and suet for feeders.

Construct brush pile "shelter" for winter birds & critters.


Launder bedding ~ change over to flannels.

Sort through winter gear (coats/hats/gloves/boots) and see what needs replacing/donating.

Order Christmas cards and stamps.

Get ingredients for Thanksgiving baking (Whole Foods).

Add Christmas Planning Sheets to Homekeeping Binder.

Dinner Menus:

M - grilled ham/cheese panini & butternut squash soup

T - meatloaf, acorn squash, roasted potatoes, rolls

W - baked ziti & meat(loaf) balls, salad, bread

T - chicken stir fry, rice/wraps

F - takeout

S - leftovers -->calzones/pizzas, veggies/dip

S - crockpot chicken cacciatore, crusty bread

Desserts: oatmeal cookies, fruit turnovers, mulled applesauce

Dear Baby ...

12 Weeks today!

Nausea may be letting up a little, while tiredness is kicking up a notch.

Learning Themes:


Expressing Gratitude

Excited About ~ Working On:

Emma Bridgewater Pottery, especially this adorable mug. :)

Red squirrel mug

Re-reading The Hobbit with Crackerjack.

New project plan: Potting Shed Makeover (Spring 2013)


Thinking about getting a freezer (again/still) because, A. we have space for it downstairs, and, B. with a new baby due next spring, cooking ahead sounds very practical.

Close friends have come down with whooping cough ~ praying for their recovery and cautiously watching my own kids for symptoms. (So far, all clear.)

Must arrange a flu shot with the OB. (Have never had one before, but feel it might be important this year.)

Signing up Crackerjack for the Children's Christmas Choir.


Well, Good Monday morning, my friends!

I thought I'd try posting a weekly version of my daily housekeeping blog. I just have no hope of keeping up with the daily entries at this time, but I thought a weekly post might be do-able. So here's the first one!

I hope your week gets off to a great start ... golden sun and mild air here today - you should hear those birds chirping so sweetly!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!


Making My Homeschool Lesson Planner*

*This post is my Back to School Prep: Part 2, I just couldn't fit all that text in the header!

Lesson planner 5

Good morning, my friends!

Over the weekend I put together a lesson planner for myself, and I thought you all might like to see it. :) I started with a dark blue, 3-ring binder, which I embellished with pretty paper, ribbon and stickers.

Lesson planner 4

Back when the boys were little we called our homeschool, "The Little Acorns Homeschool" (because tall oaks from little acorns grow, of course), and our "symbol" was a combination of oak leaves (one for each parent) and acorns (one for each boy). So I decided to use some pretty stickers I had on hand for the front label ... I'm feeling a bit nostalgic since this is the last year I'll be homeschooling all three boys. β€

Now for a look inside ...

Lesson planner 2

Inside the front cover I keep loose papers to file, and on the right is a colorful class chore chart. I must admit I'm not exactly sure how I'll use it, but a package of 25 was only $2 at Michaels so I couldn't pass it up ... 

Lesson planner 1

(I have a soft spot for owls, too.)

I then added some tabs to my lesson planner:

General information: ed. plans, curriculum orders, class information, etc.

Family Living & Learning: family activities and adventures, field trips, and faith @ home, etc.

Then, a tab for each of my boys ...

And finally, the lesson planner itself, a set of weekly planning pages.

Now this is how I plan to use it.

I am keeping ALL my weekly planning pages in this master binder, but each week I will move JUST the pages that are meant for that one specific week to my Home Management Binder ...

Lesson planner 6

They'll be in the front section, directly behind the yellow daybook pages and blue master to-do-list. At the end of the week I'll swap out the "used" pages for a new set.

The weekly lesson planning pages are organized like this:

(2 sheets of paper = 4 sides)

Page 1, side A: Cover page - Monday's date, any events "of note"

9/3 ~ Labor Day, Lessons resume, (Not) Back-to-School Picnic, Nativity of Mary, first Pats game, first CCD class

Page 1, side B: Specific lessons and goals for each student that week (the page is divided into three sections)

Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Nature, Faith, etc.

Page 2, side A: Brainstorming page for seasonal/liturgical themes/ideas, recipes, field trips, activities, etc.

Discuss chores/allowance, First Day breakfast, create Mary garden/serve blueberry cake, wash our homeschool "bus," Intro to Animal Study: hang classification chart, organize subject cards, etc. ...

Page 2, side B: WeekEnd Journal (my summary of the week)

e.g. "Our first week "back to homeschool" was ..."

So after I write the summary, I'll file away those completed pages and grab next week's pages from the lesson planner ... and start all over again! I could of course, not move pages at all, and just use the lesson planner as it is, but I'm trying to streamline my planning tools as much as possible. So the HMN is really my planning "hub" these days.

Now, I do have all the weekly pages written out as far as possible ... the cover pages are all marked with events of note and the brainstorming pages are full of timely ideas for that week. I'll update that information as events arise and ideas form. The "weekly goals" and "weekend summaries" are more timely of course, and will be filled in at the start of, and end of, the week, respectively.

Does any of that make sense or am I talking in circles, lol? I'm wrapping this post up in the very early morning hours and my caffeine level is not up to snuff yet!

Before I go though, let me show you the "autumnal" cover I made up for my HMN:

HMN fall cover

It makes me very happy. :)

Well my friends, I'm going to sign off for now and jump-start my day. It's raining here in Massachusetts this morning, and it's just so lovely. We have all the windows open ... and the sound of the rain is so soothing and the coolness of the air is so refreshing. I can say all this of course, because I'm not rushing through this rain or sitting in traffic, so I'm taking a moment to count my blessings and savor the comforts and joys of my line of work. :)

So please have yourselves a good day, and thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again very soon!


My Yearbook

{More binder talk!}

Yearbook 5

I don't have a thing for rainbows anymore, but when I was a kid? Oh boy, did I ever ... rainbow pins, barettes, ribbons, suspenders, pajamas ... you name it, I probably had it. I'm over that particular obsession these days, but I still think rainbows are very pretty, and I find I'm partial to rainbow-hued things ... yarn, especially. The funny thing is ... when I was young I had a binder just like this - used for pretty much the same thing - and the cover was a print of multi-colored yarn. How I loved that binder!

Anyhoo, I'm getting entirely away from the subject at hand so let me refocus ...

So, at the end of a school year, when I go through all those file folders, I'm left with a lot of papers that I want to keep for future reference. These are mostly seasonal ideas that I'd like to try - or try again as the case may be - so I need to "file them forward" in some way.

In the past, I've placed these papers in the file crate - if the idea is tied to a specific date (a feast day, for instance) I would place the sheet in that particular week's folder. If the idea is not tied to a specific date, but rather a season, I would place the sheet in the front section of the hanging file that holds that seasons' folders. (For example, the "Autumn" file holds folders for the weeks in September and October ... the "Holiday" file holds folders for November and December ... and so on.)

It's a good way to keep things on file, but not so great for keeping things in mind.

So now I've set up what I call my "Yearbook."  I started with a 3-inch, "view front" binder - lavender, mind you - and doctored it up with a bit of pretty paper ...

Yearbook 4

... and then I added some colorful monthly tabs.

Yearbook 3

Then it's as simple as this: when I find a seasonal idea - a print-out or a clipping - I just add it to the appropriate month. And now the binder is filled with many wonderful ideas (recipes, crafts, events, etc.) for celebrating the natural and liturgical year.

So for instance, yesterday, I came across a recipe for Apple-Cheddar-Rosemary Piejars and I thought it would be wonderful for October. So I printed the recipe out and used my handy-dandy 3-hole punch thingy to prepare the page ...

Yearbook 1


Yearbook 2

I could (and probably should) use sheet protectors for the magazine clippings, but I'm not very fond of sheet protectors. They feel weird to me and overhang the other pages. (Yeah, I'm that picky.) But I generally find the clippings stay put well enough on their own.

The sum of it is - keeping all these ideas in a binder, rather than the folder crate, works better for me. It keeps everything at my fingertips and really appeals to my visual nature. I love flipping through the tabs and thinking about all the joy to come, because, truly, all the seasons are special to me ...

Sing a song of seasons! 
Something bright in all! 
Flowers in the summer, 
Fires in the fall! 

(Robert Louis Stevenson) 

I keep the binder on my desk, alongside the home management binder (middle) and storage binder (left).

HMN binders 1

And that's that. 

Just another piece of the whole big planning puzzle!


So now I'll be off, because our Saturday's winding down and I guess something needs to be done about supper. Oh, these hot days make me so lazy! But the farmstand beckons ... as does the grill ... so goodbye for now, my friends. Thanks so much for stopping by ...

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I'll see you again very soon!

β™« To everything ... turn, turn, turn ... there is a season ... turn, turn, turn ... β™«  

Q & A Roundup

KG sunflowers

Happy Friday, my friends! It's time for a little Q&A catch-up!

"It would be lovely to know about all of your [home management binder] sections but most especially your blog planning, prayer section and homeschooling section :) Thanks for sharing!" ~ Posted by: CeAnne @ Sanctus Simplicitus

CeAnne, here's a look at what I keep in those sections:

    * In my "Personal/Blog/Writing" section, I keep a running list of post ideas and suggestions, as well as notes for other writing projects and personal hobbies.

    * In my "Prayer Book," I keep a running list of prayer intentions. I used to have a box for this purpose, but it was out of the way and nobody seemed to use it. These days, when something comes up - a need or request for prayer - I can write it down here.

    * Behind my "Home Education" tab, I have copies of the current education plans and any correspondence with the school. I don't keep my actual lesson planning here (at least not presently) because it's just too big.


"I love the idea of a "storage binder" for the finished pages so the regular working binder doesn't get too big or too full. What size binder do you use for the everyday one?" ~ Posted by: MamaGames

MamaGames, my primary binder is about an inch-and-a-half wide. (I measured the width since I can't remember what size I bought!) It seems to be just wide enough, but not too unwieldly. I'm trying really hard to keep it useful, not overwhelming.


"I like the idea of the binder because then you can switch things around... so does the binder replace the spiral book you had made? I also like your clippings pages. Let us know how you like it. Will you move these to a yearly binder for storage?" ~ Posted by: Theresa

Theresa, I am using the binder in place of the spiral-bound daybook. I just don't have the time to make up something new right now and I'm trying to keep things all in one place. That said, I do have a small spiral-bound (commercial) planner which fits in my bag. (This is the planner that leaves the house - the binder I leave at home.) Someday when I have time I will get back to making my own daybook. That's really a passion of mine!

And as for the clipping pages, so far I'm finding this method to be pretty efficient. (I'm not loving it, but it is working.) And yes, all those pages are filed into the storage binder, right behind the daily pages and outdated monthly calendars. If this section grows bigger I will give the clippings a binder of their own.


"I do actually have a request...I am a new Catholic and I would love a post about the resources you use to teach Catholism to your sons, especially Early Bird, as my kids are little. Also, a question...how far apart are your two older boys?" Posted by: Kristie


Kristie, that's a wonderful post idea and, as I am currently outlining our "Faith @ Home" year, I'll write something up soon. But I can easily answer your second question: my older two are four years apart, whereas there are only two years between the younger two. :)


"Do you have any homemade homeschool planning sheets you use on a regular basis?" ~ Posted by: Denise

Denise, I have used various lesson planning materials over the years - some homemade, others commercially produced. For many years I used a lesson planner made by a company that, alas, went out of business. Then I tried something similar by a different manufacturer but ultimately I found making something up on my own fit my needs best. 

I am currently setting up a notebook to use as my "teacher's planner" this year. When it's done I will be happy to show you, but I can tell you I like to plan things weekly (rather than daily) and I designate space for general notes as well as goals for each of the boys.

Have you seen Donna Young's website? There are loads of planning sheets available there - and all are printables, free to use.


Well, I have more questions to address, but this is all I have time for right now. (This day flew right by, did it not?) So I'll sign off for now, but please let me wish you all a happy weekend ... and thanks so much for stopping by!

I'll see you here again very soon.


Home Management Binder - Update!

 *Note: This post will undoubtedly be TMI for some folks, so if "binder talk" is not your cup of tea, feel free to check back tomorrow when I'll most likely be posting about something entirely different ... :)

HMN binders 1

Hello, everyone!

Well, it's been just over a month since my home management binder Q&A post, and I am finally ready to share an update. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on why you love your binder AND why you don't. I found it all very helpful as I attempted to re-work my own binder into something more ... well, workable.

One challenge I've needed to address is that I just have too many planning "tools" going at once, so I decided to try and make my HM binder as useful as possible. To that end, I set about rethinking its contents ... and I gathered some new, pretty papers. It's still early days yet, but so far I'm quite happy with it.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Front cover ...

HMN binders 2

To be honest, I'm not crazy about this paper, but I'm leaving it as is, for now. I'll probably change it up closer to fall, and choose something more seasonal.

Just inside ...

HMN binders 4

On the left, I taped down two index cards. On the yellow card I wrote down personal contact information (name, address, phone, etc.), and on the pink card I will list emergency numbers. (I say "will," because as you can see I haven't yet filled it in.)

First section: Daybook Pages ...

HMN binders 5

My favorite color is yellow, so I decided to make my daily section as sunny and cheerful as possible. I got the idea for using colored paper when I was at Staples not too long ago. They were having an incredible sale on packs of multicolored loose-leaf paper and I thought the pastel shades were so lovely. (I live in a house of all boys, I take my pastels where I can!) I also liked the slightly smaller size of the paper (8x10), so I bought a TON of it - enough that I'd have plenty of yellow paper for an entire year's worth of days.

But here's the thing ... I'm trying to keep the HMB from getting too bulky - so I only keep a week's worth of days in my binder at one time. That's 4 sheets per week ...

HMN binders 6

So what about the rest of the daybook - the sheets for the rest of the year? Well, I'll go into that a bit further down, but for now, let's move on to the next section ...

A Master To-Do List:

HMN binders 7

I'm using the blue sheets for a running "to-do" list - those things that come up but don't have a set timeframe. (For example: "Clean out potting shed." or "Find a new dentist.") I like keeping a list like this because if I write something down - while it might not get done - in theory, it should not be forgotten.

Next comes my Clippings Journal ...

HMN binders 8

First of all, how pretty is this cover page?

HMN binders 9

As I've blogged about before, I've been keeping "clipping journals" for years. In these journals, I save all kinds of things, but especially bits of magazines and newspapers. Things that catch my eye and inspire me or make me think. My journals tend to be very seasonal - a pressed autumn leaf, a note to Santa, a label from a jar of homemade jam. It's just something I've done since I was a kid, and I honestly can't imagine ever not doing it!

Up till now, I've been using plain spiral-bound notebooks for my journal, but I'm trying this idea out in an attempt to pare down my "tools." So in this section I have several sheets of loose-leaf paper (standard, lined white, 8.5 x 11). Through the week I add things to the pages and at the end of that week I retire these pages to a storage binder (more on that below). Then I add new sheets for the next week. 

HMN binder 10

These pages show some clippings from British magazines - my favorite journal fodder!

I do kind of miss my little notebooks, but I do find it easier to work in my journal, having it right here in my binder. Clippings get in here much faster this way, so we'll see ...

After the front section, come the rest of my tabs ...

HMN binder 12

... and since those are pretty much the same as I've blogged about before, I'll just give you a list. (But if you'd like more information on any of these tabs, just let me know) ...


Month @ a Glance Calendars

Seasonal Planning

Home Management

Menus & Marketing


Phone & Address Book

Home Education

Projects Index



Prayer Book


Now, about that Storage Binder I've been mentioning ...

 HMN binders 20

This is a very wide (3" I think?) binder. Inside here I keep pages from - and for - my Home Management Binder.

First, I have a Record of Days ...

HMN binders 21

Here is where I'm keeping all those soft yellow daily sheets. The ones I've already used are filed up front (a week at a time), as a "record of days." The ones that come after (separated by a tab) are for the rest of the year.

HMN binders 23

So each week I take four pages out, and that gives me eight sides - each side is assigned a day (Monday - Sunday). That extra side is devoted to a weekend planning page - I fit it in between Friday and Saturday. Bill calls this our "POW" (Plan of the Weekend ... which is much like our "POD," or, Plan of the Day). This list is always much more ambitious than is even faintly realistic ... but it's always good to have a plan. :)

Since the sheets are just plain lined paper, I've been writing in my own to-do's, dinner notes, appts., etc. It's very free-form, but I like it. If I get a phone call, I write the info down here ... if I spend money, I note it here ... if I have an allergic reaction, I describe it here ...

(You probably get the idea.)

At the end of the week I file the "spent" pages into this binder, and retrieve the next week's sheets so I can start all over again. It's really pretty simple, but surprisingly it's been working out well - I hope I'm not making it sound overcomplicated!


There are still some planning "tools" that don't fit in the HMB, and I can get into those things in a future post. But for now, I'll wrap things up because I've definitely kept your attention long enough! (At least I hope I kept your attention, lol!)

So I'll sign off for now, but I'd like to thank you for stopping by, and wish you all a very nice weekend. I will be scarce the next few days as my dad has his surgery tomorrow morning. I will definitely post an update when I can, and of course I would be grateful for your prayers ... β€

See you all again very soon!


(I think that's the correct term, lol.)

I'm having such fun reading through all the responses to my Home Management Binder Q&A post, I wanted to "bump" it a little so we keep it fresh in our minds. I'd love to get some more replies (and I know the readers who've already commented would like that as well). So here it is again, just in case you missed it ... ;)

Re ~ The Home Management Notebook ...

I'm quite inspired by everyone's ideas and find myself puttering with my own ...


Of course, it's Father's Day weekend, and we're hosting a cookout here tomorrow, so I don't really have time to putter much at all. But that's ok ... it's better sometimes to go slowly.


I hope you're all enjoying a pleasant weekend. Have a nice night, tonight, and a great day tomorrow ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!


Re ~ The Home Management Notebook ...

... aka The Homekeeping Binder ... i.e. The Household Journal ...

(If you have one, you know what I'm talking about!)

And if you do have one, well ... I have some questions for you! I'm doing a little survey/research, so please let me know ...

How wide a binder do you use?

Do you keep a "working" calendar in it?

Do you take the binder with you or leave it at home?

Where do you keep it at home?

How often do you look at it/when do you use it?

On a scale of 1-10 how useful do you find it?


Ok, that's all the questions I have ... for now. ;) If you have thoughts to share (and a moment to spare), please leave a comment below!

And, as always, I thank you.


Reading Right Now: Organized Simplicity

Organized simplicity 1

Well, I am just loving this little book! I really like this author's writing style and her "take" on managing and enjoying family life. She's exploring two things I long for - organization and simplicity - but I often find it hard to achieve one and the other. So I'm "listening" as I read with "all ears." :)

I'm only about halfway in, but so far my favorite chapter has been the sixth, "A Gathering Place," and it's all about a home management notebook. I know a lot of my readers put much faith in home management notebooks, so I thought I'd share a rather lengthy quote from this chapter:

"I'm sort of a minimalist by default, but it's still not easy to keep a well-organized, efficient, peaceful home when you've got three-foot mess makers running around. Or six-foot mess makers, for that matter. Sometimes, oftentimes, it can just get overwhelming.

This is when grace comes into play - giving heaps of it to yourself and your family members, remembering that the life stage of having children at home is so short. If you believe relationships are more important than a perfect house, you really can cut yourself some slack.

But you still need to keep up the house. Your current life stage - whatever it is - doesn't give you a "get-out-of-jail-free" card when it comes to home management. In fact, I find that the stage of raising a family makes it all the more important to find a management system that works well. Kids are happier in a home in which things have their place. Parents can hold onto a string of sanity when there's a tangible goal toward house cleaning, and at the end of the day, the family can relax in an actual haven, not a chaotic zoo.

My personal home management notebook is my lifeblood for giving me some direction, goals and checklists for my job at home, and it's a great place to dump all the paperwork that you believe you need to keep but aren't sure where to put.

What is a Home Management Notebook?

It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the tasks necessary for running a household. There's laundry, bills, errands, cooking, parenting, even homeschooling for some. Add in making quality, laid-back family time a priority, and it's a full plate for any well-intentioned home manager.

A home management notebook is exactly what it sounds like - a simple catchall for those important reminders, papers and documents that easily get lost or scattered. It's a daily reference for your tasks, and once you start using one, you'll wonder how you managed without it.

You can use a basic three-ring binder, a Moleskine notebook, a simple folder, or even an accordian-style expanding file. Use whatever works best for you and our organizational style. The important thing is to make it practical, easy to use, and something that serves you - not the other way around.

So once you have your notebook, what do you put in it? There's not a definitive list you must follow, because it's meant to serve as your daily tool. Simply fill it with what's important to you and your job."

Organized Simplicity is written by Tsh Oxenreider, mother of three and creator of the Simple Mom (Live Intentionally) website. I was not familiar with this site before I started reading this book so I'm quite excited to peruse it ... once I carve out some "free time" for myself. :)

So I hope you enjoyed this little bit of food for thought this morning. Let me know what you think if you have a moment, but either way have a wonderful Wednesday ...

And I'll see you here again very soon!


Calendar Crafts & Paper Play

* Happy Wednesday, everyone! *


Now, I don't know what it's like today where you live, but good gravy is it COLD here in New England! I think we peaked at 17 degrees just after lunchtime? And here we had ourselves fooled into thinking we'd have a mild winter this year ...

Well, depsite the rather "brisk" weather, the boys spent almost an hour playing outside after morning lessons (what we like to call "recess"). More power to them, I say, lol! They came in all rosy-cheeked and out of breath ... to find the fireplace cracklng and a lunch hot from the oven. I'm so glad I can give my boys days like this. :)

Anyhoo, I've been playing around with all that pretty paper I showed you recently, and making up some fun things for my "home office" space. I thought you might like to see what I've been working on ...

First of all, it was time to make up a new "clippings" journal. My old one was filled to the brim:


I've blogged about this journal before ... it's just a simple, spiral-bound notebook (a Mead 3-subject, college rule to be specific) that I cover with seasonal paper and a Mary Engelbreit calendar page. Inside, I keep clippings I take from magazines and newspapers, as well as ticket stubs, jar labels, meaningful receipts, ribbon scraps, post-it note sketches and other random bits and bobs ...

I've kept these humble little journals for years now; I generally fill them up in about three months' time. I think of them as a colorful, mostly cheerful, collage of my thoughts - and to a smaller extent, the world - at that time in life. Someone once told me it was what they would call a "brain dump" - a term that made me laugh and cringe at the same time. ;)

 I'm also in the process of updating my big homekeeping binder ...


To start with, I gave it a pretty new cover - all red and cream, to go with the new colors in our sitting/learning room. This print above (also seen at the very top of this post) has what looks like an old-fashioned, crocheted coverlet laid on top of a vibrant red background. It's homey and feminine, I think.

I made up the date label myself - it's just an ecru tag with number stickers. I also used those tiny red stickers to make up a new clipboard:


And here is the homekeeping binder resting beneath a calendar I'm working on ...


(See how nicely it all coordinates? :))

In that thick stack, I have many soft ivory pages and several seasonal dividers ...


As well as a cover page still under consideration ...


(I can't decide if I like tiny calendars or crocheted roses for the cover!)


And all those inside pages are still on the drawing board, lol.



I'll post more about this project once I get it further along, but for now I'll just call it my "daybook." Because I'm really taking my time with this ... I've already missed the January 1st deadline, so I figure I might as well putter to my heart's content! And maybe, if I don't rush it, I just might create something useful. I made a calendar book like this a few (several?) years ago, and while I loved the overall look and idea of it, it just didn't stick. Now, I could blame this on me being fickle (which I certainly can be!), but I do think I rushed the project and didn't really think it through carefully. This time around, I'm spending a lot more time designing the pages. I started by calling to mind exactly what things I need to address in a given week or day, and once I had my lists I started in on the designs you see above.

As I say, this is still very much a work in progress, so I'll post more details once I have it all buttoned up and home from the binder!

Well, for now, I'll be off ... but not before I wish you all a good night and, of course, thank you for stopping by. It will be a quiet night here ... Bookworm is out for the evening so we've had an early supper (in fact, I'm finishing this very post while ignoring the dishes in the sink, lol). And sadly, we're all caught up on Downton Abbey so we do not have a new episode to watch this evening. Both Bill and I absolutely loved the whole series and can hardly wait for the new season to start! How fun to have something really good to watch again - and mull over - each week. :)

So good night for now my friends ... I'll see you all again very soon!


Menu Planning & Marketing Routines


Recently, a few readers have left comments asking me to write about seasonal planning, and specifically, how I fit it in with the gajillion other things I do in any given week.

Now, as you all know, I loooove talking about seasonal planning, so I'm working on a post addressing that particular issue ... but for today I'd like to talk a little about menu planning and marketing routines. It happens to be Wednesday, which is my "kitchen day," so that's where my head's at today.

(Note: I wrote this yesterday, but didn't get around to editing and posting before bed.)

First, here's a quote from a neat little book I keep on my shelf:

"To plan for a daily menu that will provide the kind and amount of food required by each member of the family is the most important part of the homemaker's duties, and requires much time, thought, and a knowledge of foods." Home Economics: Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century Household, p. 33

Talk about pressure, lol! But this statement is very true. Sure, it might sound old-fashioned, but our responsibility for our family's food needs is timeless - and unavoidable. Whether we're whipping up a homecooked meal or whipping out a take out menu, somebody has to get the food on the table.

And usually, it's mom. ;)

So the question is, how do we feed our families nutritiously, economically, and efficiently? What about eating organically and/or locally and respecting the resources we all share? Then of course there's the dilemma of time: how do we spend it on menus and marketing, preparation and presentation - when we have so little to spend?

And let's not forget the emotional aspect in all this - providing our family with food that nurtures them body and soul. Food that not only tastes good - it feels good. And it's served in a way that expresses our love and care - at a nicely set table, with a place for everyone and everyone in their place.

Bottom line: there's a lot to consider when it comes to this area of homekeeping! So below I've outlined my menu planning and marketing routines, but first a quick disclaimer ...

Whenever I write one of these "how I do it" posts I feel compelled to point out FIRST that I am by no means an expert on any of this! And though it all looks good on paper, I don't always follow it to a tee. Also, I'm sure most of you have routines like this that suit yourselves just fine. So I don't mean to suggest I'm offering anything "groundbreaking" here, lol. I'm just like any other mom, trying to make each part of my homekeeping work as best as it can - for me and my family. :)

Ok, enough of my disclaimers - now for the nitty gritty!

I have the following items in my homekeeping binder, behind my "Menus & Marketing" tab:

  • a master marketing list
  • rotating dinner menus
  • a list of breakfast, lunch and snack ideas
  • an outline for eating by the seasons
  • a "well-stocked pantry" list
  • a list of local food sources
  • seasonal/holiday baking notes
  • general kitchen notes
  • family table notes
  • (I don't have a price book, but I think it would be useful.)

Outside of the binder I also have ...

  • a recipe collection
  • cookbooks and cooking magazines
  • a shopping notebook
  • a coupon file
  • weekly store flyers (advertising sales)

Now, for my routine:

As I mentioned in my Turkey Day shopping post, before I go shopping on Saturday I like to have my menu plan, coupons and shopping list all organized. This makes the best use of my time, money, and energy. So in order to have all this ready to go by early Saturday morning, I work on these tasks throughout the latter half of the week ...

On Wednesday:

I clean out the fridge, freezer and cabinets, and make note of what needs replacing, and what needs using up. 

I start a new planning page in my shopping notebook. (I like to call it my "marketing book" because it sounds nicer - but it never sticks, lol.)

On Thursday:

I check the store flyers that arrive in the daily paper, and note some sale items on my shopping list.

I check the calendar and see what next week looks like - days that are busy, nights one or more of us are out, special events like birthdays or feast days, and even the weather - i.e. a cold snap, a warm spell or impending snow.

I make note of any holidays or themes we'll be working on next week.

And finally, I consider what needs using up, what's on sale and what the week is throwing at us (the fun stuff and the challenges), and then make a dinner menu plan.

(Now, some dinners are pre-set - like practice nights are always "baked ziti" because it's super-easy and quick, and Saturday nights are always something I don't have to cook - like homemade pizzas or burgers (which are Bill's forte) or even take-out if we plan for it.

On Friday:

I clean out my pocketbook and organize my coupon file.


(Note: I'm no coupon guru - I just use the coupons that come in our Sunday paper and match them up with sales as best I can.)

I also look over next week's planning sheet - the learning & living notes - and list any other things we'll need for our week: library books, birdseed, craft supplies, etc.

I then finalize the shopping list. (Asking Bill and the boys if there's anything they'd like to add to the list. Invariably, they'll think of something after I get home.)

I gather the cloth bags and place them by the door. (I always forget to do this!)

On Saturday:

I head out as early as I can and do my shopping.

(Before I go, I make sure the kitchen is clean and the counters are bare OR I ask those staying home to be sure.)

Once I'm home I have the boys bring in the bags and unpack the groceries on the kitchen island. I put the food stuffs away.

I organize my receipts and enter my spending into the weekly budget.

On Sunday:

I clip coupons found in the Sunday paper.

I bake for the week ahead. (This doesn't happen enough!)


So that's my routine in a mutli-hued nutshell. :)

As for today, I'm afraid I'm a bit behind since EB is sick and things are a little off here. I did do a quick cleanup of the kitchen, but I still need to go through the refrigerator and cabinets and see what's what. (The reason Wednesday is my kitchen day is because Thursday is our trash day.)

I did start a new page in my shopping - ahem, marketing - notebook, and so far I've written down:

National Indian Pudding Day (11/13 - a great Sunday dessert!)

"nest/hibernation week" (our living/learning theme)


"boy" shampoo (because CJ just informed we are out)


And oh my goodness, I was going to talk about all the things I have filed in the binder, but this post has gotten ridiculously long! So that will come in a future post. If you're still reading, I thank you - and I hope some of this made sense or at the very least gave you some "food for thought." Like I said above, none of this is new or "improved" - it's just my spin on the neverending challenge all we homekeepers face:

"What's for dinner, Mom?"

(Lol, how early do your kids start asking that? Mine start around 10 a.m.)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please drop me a note below in the comments box. I'd love to hear from you!

Well, my friends, I hope your day's been a good one. Aside from EB's illness, ours was nice and fairly quiet - but the weather was absolutely glorious! (Golden sunlight, near 70 degrees!) My Earlybird is still crashed on the couch, but he seems to be feeling a bit better. (Lemonade + watermelon + a few peanut butter crackers seemed to do the trick.) Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers - I know they helped as well.

So for now I wish you all a good night ... I'll see you all again very soon.


This Week's Homekeeping Journal Notes

Weather Notes: Rainy ~ incredibly rainy and windy and raw! We've had quite a stormy wet weekend here in New England and there has been some serious flooding in areas. Conditions are so bad in fact, some towns cancelled school! My boys wondered if that meant they got the day off from their studies ... well, you can imagine my answer to that. One of the benefits of homeschooling: learning can - and does - take place anytime, anywhere. ;)

Nature Notes: Despite the stormy weather, Spring feels closer than ever. And, after today, our week looks very promising: sunny with temps in the higher 50s. I can hardly wait to see the changes that take place after all this rain and a good dose of sunshine. I bet there will be plenty of Spring activity to observe! The robins have been having a field day of course, hopping all over the lawn, snatching up the earthworms just under the surface. Also this week, I am starting some research on how to attract Eastern Bluebirds to our yard.

Kitchen Notes: Tonight's supper will be grilled chicken sandwiches with tossed salad and roasted potatoes - and for dessert, homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. For St. Patrick's Day (this Wednesday), I plan to serve beef and potatoes with a crusty brown bread, and on Friday morning I am going to bake some homemade donuts for St. Joseph's Day. I will probably make plain vanilla donuts, but whip up a maple-flavored icing as a special treat. This weekend brings the First Day of Spring (hurrah!) and in celebration we'll have spring veggie omelets with home fries and chicken-apple sausages - YUM!

Housekeeping Notes: Fresh linens for the beds today - I'm holding off on storing away the flannels. Nights are still nippy here through the end of April. I have much clean laundry to fold and put away and still more laundry to start. I'm working on a Spring Cleaning checklist for myself - culling advice from several books and online sources. 

Miscellaneous Notes:

~ Nature Club April Meeting this week: our theme this month is "Nature Photography" and the kids will search the woods for the earliest signs of spring.

~ Moms Movie Night at a friend's house later this week. We'll be watching "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

~ The movie "New Moon" comes out on DVD this Saturday! :)

~ And my blog turns FOUR years old this weekend too!


 Well, that's all for now ... hope you all have a great day!