Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Cleaning Series: Day 2 - Taming the Paper Monster

Today, I shifted my attention from my kitchen to my living room. My living room is the space in which we spend most of our day . . . when we aren't cooking or eating. Our television, computer, desks, bookshelves, video games, and one wonderfully ancient denim sofa are in our living room. We also enter our home into our living room.

Before I could do anything with the room, I had to start with the papers.... I had papers collecting on top of my printer, papers on my desk, papers on my computer desk, papers on the coffee table . . . papers pretty much everywhere. They were about to form a paper monster and eat me alive. They had to be conquered.

The Paper Monster
I figured out that I was dealing with my own paper monster.
 
Neat Paper Monster
While I love checking out Neat's amazing paper scanners, I have a lot of papers that I want to keep on hand.  I have a set of working files, but not all of the working files were working.  Here is how you can separate your files into three groups.
 
Permanent Files
Working Files
Weekly Files
 
Permanent Files
The Permanent Files are in my filing cabinet upstairs.  Our finances are filed according to Ric Edelman's guide.  I have the rest according to what our papers can be grouped into easily.  Each person/couple will have a different set of file labels.  I have a home business, others will have files on their careers.  I have a file for homeschool records, many others will have a file for each year of school their child goes through.  Your permanent files are files that you need to have, but do not need to access frequently.  Perhaps once a year or less.
 
Working Files
Working Files are files that you need to access more frequently.  They may pertain to a project that you are working on.  Bills that need to be paid monthly.  You might keep your address book pages in this box/cabinet.  You want them nearby, but you don't need to get at them all the time.  These should be labeled clearly and have useable information inside.  If you have your bills inside, you need to include a printable tracker that helps you to know when your bills need to be paid and where you can record when you paid the bill.  If you have yearly goals, you may want to keep a file on your goals and review them monthly to stay on track.  Working files need to be workable.
 
Weekly Files
Weekly Files are those files that you will access every week and contain papers that you will use continually.  You need these papers filed and labeled so that you are able to wrap your mind around your tasks.  Without Weekly Files you accumulate papers and add more papers to the papers that are out . . . "because you are working on them."  Even papers that are a part of weekly planning need a job.
 
This is where my "Working Files" were failing.  I had my Permanent Files and Working Files, but I didn't have Weekly Files.  I just made a pile of all the papers that I was currently working on.  Then I added more papers to my pile that still needed to be worked on, then more papers on top of that, until I forgot what was underneath the pile.  I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear due to this paper monster.  Let me explain . . .
 
The Fear of 'Things Left Undone'
"The papers in my house began to scare me.  However, I have come to realize that it isn't the need to organize the papers that evokes my panic, but the fear that I might discover things left undone, items on my to do list that I never finished, or even worse, people that I've disappointed by not following through.

As I go through my papers and remember tasks that became forgotten, I have to give myself grace. I don't remember every task every time. I don't follow through with everything that I commit to with the best intentions. I will hope to do better next time, but today . . . I just really need these papers to get organized."


Taming the Paper Monster
I have all of my files separated out, filed, and for the most part put away.  I've made a huge step in taming my paper monster.  I still need to go through my labels, add a few more files (such as one for to do lists), but I have a great start.  Organization doesn't really have an end.  You keep organizing and reorganizing your life because life never stops changing and we never stop growing.  Take a look through your papers and see if you can't figure out a better system of paper control for your home.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Cleaning Series: Day 1 - Conquering the Kitchen

When I begin my Fall Cleaning, I normally start in the room that is impacting my life the most.  I exist in the kitchen during the Fall and Winter.  I cook all of the time and I prepare broths (visit Boholistic Mom for more details on broths).  My husband loves to bake and enjoys preparing food in the kitchen.  This is an important room.
 
Thus when I considered starting a Fall Cleaning Series on my Blog and cleaning my own home, I'm starting in the kitchen.  If this room is not your greatest need, feel free to start elsewhere and come back to this post.
 
 
Tips for Conquering the Kitchen
 
 
1 - Have Supplies
 
You need the tools of the trade.  You want to have what you need to really get the entire kitchen clean.  Keep these handy tools on hand:
 
Ceiling Brush
Duster
Spray Bottles
Vinegar
Paper Towels and/or Cloth Towels
Baby Bottle Brush (for long glasses and vases)
Scouring Pad
Trash Can
Recycling Can
Broom
Dust Pan
Mop
Mop Bucket
 
2 - Be Systematic
 
You can't piddle about kitchen cleaning.  If you do a little here and a little there, you'll never keep on track.  You have to have a plan and stick with it.  My favorite method is going from the top of the kitchen to the bottom of the kitchen cleaning and organizing.  This keeps me on task and helps me complete the entire kitchen rather than just parts.
 
If you need a plan, check out the Kitchen Cleaning Checklist on my Etsy Shop:
Kitchen Cleaning Checklist | Designing Life
 
3 - Work Isn't Bad
 
If you really want to get your Fall Cleaning done, you have got to stop thinking of cleaning/organizing as bad.  It's a part of life that has to be done repeatedly.  When we consider cleaning and organizing as something to be avoided at all costs, we hinder our progress and even more so . . . we never begin.  Keep a positive attitude when you take on a cleaning project.  This is your project and you want to see the fruit of your labors.
 
4 - Avoid Choking
 
Personally, I get winded and can't continue when I use conventional cleaning progress.  If I pull out the bleach and the degreaser and the mopping solution or whatever other product that companies have created, I choke and I stop cleaning.  I get dizzy!
 
Let me propose something to you . . . you don't need ANY of those products for cleaning your kitchen.  The companies created these products to "make cleaning easier" and to "disinfect every germ," but really . . . they just want you to pay them $3 or more a pop to buy something that you don't really need.  Vinegar is a GREAT cleaning product.  It disinfects.  It degreases sufficiently.  In the absence of vinegar, I've even used water to clean my stovetop.  Water and some elbow grease.  Remember, work isn't bad!!!
 
My other favorite product is Young Living's Thieves Household Cleaner.  I use it to clean my trash cans, the stove top, my dining room table, and my counters.  It smells fantastic and it doesn't choke me!  Keep breathing and cleaning by using non-toxic cleaning products and save some money at the same time.
 
(Note: I do sell Young Living, so if you buy it I will benefit from your purchase.  Thanks for supporting my blog!)
 
5 - Persevere
 
If you don't have time to complete the entire kitchen in one day, then plan to devote more time the next day to finish your project.  It's easy to devote a day and then say, "that was my day, all done!" whether or not the project is truly done.  Make a day of it . . . then make another.  You won't regret having a spotless and organized kitchen that encourages you to feed your family and smile doing it.
 
Happy cleaning!!!
 
Ciao,
Brooke
 
Designer/Organizer/Essential Oil Lover/Crunchy Mom
 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dry All Night Printable


I heard about the book Dry All Night: The Picture Book Technique That Stops Bedwetting by Alison Mack last month.  We, like most families, have had trouble with figuring how to help our child figure out how to stop peeing in the bed at night.  Honestly, no one talks about it.

I had my son in cloth diapers from newborn until three years old, but all of the sudden the cloth diapers weren't enough.  The soakers weren't enough.  Nothing was enough.  I had done my motherly service by keeping the chemical laden diapers from my toddler's tushy and all of the sudden I'm forced to put him into pull ups.  Either that or let him wet the bed.  Every night.  Sheets to launder every day.  Are those really choices?

Honestly, I wish they had a younger version of this book.  Dry All Night is great, but younger children of age 4 and 5 haven't developed a sense of shame over wetting the bed unless a parent has shamed them.  The book has the little girl acting ashamed about her peeing in bed.  At 6 or 7 when they are in school, they start to think they are the only ones and are ashamed to have this 'bad habit.'  The book is more for children around 6 or 7.  Still, it's extremely helpful regardless for the technique and visualization exercises.

Maybe I'll write my own e-book soon for children who are younger and need help thinking through how to control their bladder muscle.

Since Dry All Night was written in 1989 there are no current resources for this book.  There is a chart in the book, but, honestly, it's a little boring.  I googled "Dry All Night SCOREBOARD" to see if I could find a copy of the chart in the book, but it isn't online.  So I designed a new one with a splash of color.  If you happen to have sought out this book in a desperate attempt to help your child to gain control of their bladder muscle . . . I hope this is a huge help to you.

The above graphic is just the jpeg file:
 
Click here to download the boy's version in green.
Click here to download the girl's version in green and pink.

Please remember that this is my design of the chart in the book and as such you need to link back to my blog in order to share the file ethically.  Thank you for remembering this.
 
Also, if you love this printable and found it useful, please check out my Etsy Shop full of other useful and stylish printables.
 
Ciao,
Brooke

Friday, May 10, 2013

Top 10 Real Foodie Mother's Day Gift List




As a real food mom, I thought I'd put together a Top 10 Real Food Mother's Day Gift List.  What types of things does a real food mom want?  Definitely NOT store bought Wilton Chocolates!  Probably not a bouquet of flowers that will wilt in a day that come with a packet of chemicals to prolong the life of the already dying flowers.  Also, candy won't make a nice gift for a real foodie because they are loaded with artificial coloring and refined sugars.  So let's look at some awesome ideas for the Real Food Moms of the world!



Via
10. Wholesome Sweeteners: Sucanat

I know it's not healthy to eat sugar all the time, even real sugar. However, on those occasions that I am fixing my mother's holiday recipes or simply needing a teaspoon of sugar for my coffee, Sucanat does the trick.  As a real foodie, I'd be happy beyond belief for a pack of Organic Sucanat to replace my Demerara sugar!






Via

9. Organic Raw Unprocessed Coconut Oil

Everytime I go to the store, I buy another container of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil.  I use the product for so many things!  I use it to wash my face, to moisturize, to remove my makeup, and it also is a great oil for Indian dishes.  In addition, I take the coconut oil as a supplement to curb my craving for fatty foods and extra calories.




8. CSA or Co-Op Subscription to a Local Farm (LocalHarvest.org)

If I were in the states (which currently I'm not), I would go crazy for a subscription to a local farm for fresh produce, milk, and eggs.  I honestly can't imagine anything so healthy and perfect than being able to pick up the freshest fruits and veggies and cook wonderful meals for my family!  Any real foodie mom would be lucky to get a CSA subscription for a Mother's Day gift.




Via
7. Nourishing Traditions

Whether the mother in your life is longtime food enthusiast or just exploring the world of real food, if she does not own Nourishing Traditions then this will be the perfect gift!  Not only does it have tons of recipes for fixing traditional real food meals, it also is chock full of information regarding why the traditional meals are so healthy.





Via

6. A Kick Butt Stockpot (Le Creuset)

As a real food mom, I make broths and stews and other amazing dishes using my stock pot.  I couldn't live without it.  However, I could live with a larger one!  Buying a real food mother in your life a stock pot for Mother's Day will not only make her year, but it will also make some wonderful meals.





Via


5.  Cast Iron Skillet (Lodge)



My husband was the one who first introduced me to the cast iron skillet.  I thought he was mad.  The monstrosity is so heavy and you don't even wash it!  Fortunately, his southern heritage was a gem (in disguise) and I've come to love my cast iron skillet.  Not only is it beneficial because it develops wonderful sexy arms, but it is a great replacement for the not so safe non-stick skillets.  For the real food enthusiast, this would be a great gift to aid her pursuit of traditional foods!



Via
4.  Ball Jars with Lids

When you are cooking up outstanding foods, it's nice to have a good place to store them!  I love my Ball jars and use them all the time.  In fact, I need more of them.  I want them in every size.  I want every lid style.  I want labels.  If your real food lady is making broths and stews, she would probably jump for joy to have a set of Ball jars in any and every size.  I'm especially partial to the Heritage Collection with the beautiful hint of blue!



3. Herbs (seeds or plants)

I love herbs.  I use them in my cooking.  I make teas with them.  I add them to my natural beauty products.  Herbs rock!  If your real foodie hasn't yet explored the world of herb gardens, get her started with an organic herb kit or buy her some plants at your local farmer's market.  This option is much better than cut flowers!


Via

2. Fermenting Dreams (The Art of Fermentation)

Want to grow something altogether new together?  Ferment!  The book, The Art of Fermentation, is a great way to get started making kefir, cheeses, sourdoughs, and even sauerkraut.  If the real food mother in your life is serious about real food, then she will really like this book!



1. Send Her Packing

Find a conference, class, or a bed and breakfast to send her to for a little Real Food R&R.  A conference will be full of helpful information, a class might teach her to make new foods or about how to keep strong with her choice to eat real foods, and a bed and breakfast will provide her with real food while she rests.  All three are excellent choices!

Conferences
 
 
Classes
 
 
Bed & Breakfast
 
 
 
I hope you can make good use of this Real Foodie Mother's Day Gift List!  Enjoy!
 
Brooke
 
P.S.  Do you know of any other conferences, classes, or Bed & Breakfasts that specialize in real food?  I'd love to know!



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simplify: Money Doesn't Talk

You've all heard the saying that "money talks," but have you ever considered what that particular point of view holds for those who accept it?  For Simplifying Life with Designing Life, we will be discussing why money doesn't talk for a simplified life.  I hope you enjoy the discussion that my son and I had (see the graphic below) that inspired my continued thoughts on the subject:
 


Why Doesn't Money Talk

Literally, money doesn't talk or have a voice.  Figuratively, we say that money talks because if you hold a $100 bill up to a waiter who has just told you that there are no more seats available . . . somehow he manages to find that a table just became available.  Did the money speak?  No.  In fact, the person holding the bill is communicating loud and clear.  Is this person saying, "Check this out, I'm the nicest person in the world and I'm going to make your day and give you this $100 bill"?  Or is this person saying, "I'm in a hurry, I don't really care that there are no seats currently available.  Allow me to provide some incentive in order to get what I want NOW"?  Money doesn't talk, but when people use money to communicate in this way they certainly aren't making any friends.  Money doesn't talk . . . people do.

What Do You Use Your Money to Say?

In simplifying your life, consider using your money to say what you mean to say.  Most people don't throw a hundred dollars at their waiter, but someone might spend $500 for an extra (meaning having more than one) television for their home.  If you are attempting to simply your life, adding an extra television set probably won't give you more time or a simple life. 
 
What are you using your money to say?
 
What is important to you and your life?

How Can You Use Money to Simplify?

I honestly don't think it's wrong to use money to task things out in life and to use money on important things in life.  If you believe your family is most important, but you spend all your time working on a small business decide if it's worth hiring a new person on to help.  If you feel that it is important to develop friendships, then spend some money taking them out to eat, preparing elaborate meals at home, or organizing outings for your group of friends.  If you have extra money as a stay-at-home mom, maybe you can hire a cook, house cleaner, or lawn maintenance personnel in order to give you more time to spend on your children, on a break (in order to feel up to spending more time on your family), or on other things about the house.  However, please don't confuse a simple life with laziness.  Money is a great tool to allow you to have more time to spend on the important things in life . . . but it isn't very important to watch television all day, spend the day on the computer, or spend every day in pajamas.  With simplifying life, some days are for relaxation, but it's about focusing on what's important and dedicating your time to that thing.

Relationships vs Money

I notice that our American attitude is "accumulate," "attain more," and "make more money," while in regards to friends our attitude is "friends will wait," "someday," and "when I have the time."  I'm not sure about you, but that doesn't make any sense!  Relationships are a high priority in my life and money, while necessary, doesn't make the world go around.  I wonder what things in our life that we insist that we "need" are things that are absolute necessities.  When you consider someone who has "no" money and you see them walking around with designer jeans and an iPhone, it's easy to see that if we want something badly enough we find the money.  If I had to chose, would I let go of my subscriptions, my iPhone, my computer access, using my dryer, being super warm and toasty (rather than putting on a jacket in the winter), in order to have money to spend on relationships? 

What comes first in life?
 
What really matters, fake relationships on Facebook or real relationships forged in flesh and blood as well as tears and triumphs?

I hope this has helped you to think through an area that is fantastic to consider as you simply your life.  Thank you for tuning in . . . or well, clicking in for this simplify post!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Follow Along Friday - FLT

 
Welcome Fancy Little Friends! We're so encouraged to have each of you share in this little space of ours and have been so blessed by your encouragement! I hope you've had a chance to sign up for one of our Gal Groups, connect in the Community forums, and even submit your testimony to share with others! In order to get to know you all better, we're hosting the Friday Follow Along each first and third Friday of the month! Today, we'll be linking up our Pinterest and Instagram profiles! This week we have a few friends joining us! Make sure you stop by and say hello to --- Christie from Satisfaction Through Christ Brooke from Designing Life Krissy from Not Alone Mom and Candace from Magpie Event Co.
 
 
 
1: Follow us and our co-hosts on PINTEREST or INSTAGRAM! Both would be just lovely! 2: LINK UP! Please note - we have (2) link-ups down below.. one is for Pinterest, one is for Instagram! Link appropriately please!! --->> Link up by following two EASY steps! Step #1: Fill out the “submission” form below & enter your PROFILE URL into the “URL” section. Step #2: On the next screen, select “Upload from Computer” and choose your image to upload. 3: Follow along with with at least 5 others. Leave a comment or two so they know where you followed from! 4. Share our Follow Along! Please tweet: “Follow Along Party with @FancyLilThings today at http://wp.me/p29X49-1Aw” or you can always tell your lovely Facebook followers too! BONUS: Are you interested in co-hosting one a future Follow Along? Contact us with details about you & your blog and we might just choose you!!
 

 

 

 



 

 
 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Time to Simplify

Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard I try to keep my time simplified and purposeful, I get distracted.  I used to think that this was a fault and that I really needed more discipline to deal with my easily lost focus.  However, as I've begun to move through life and see how the "determined" live and how the "relaxed" live.  I now know that I don't want either.  I want to live somewhere in a happy medium.

My happy medium involves planning, prioritizing, and goal setting, but now I know that the planning, priority setting, and goal reaching isn't the end goal at all.  It's a process in order to remind me what is important in my life.  Knowing what is important helps me to simplify my time.  If all I do is plan, then I am not living my life at all!  Even if I reach goals through strictly outlined plans, it's not quite as fun as reaching it by just living intentionally.  I want to plan my priorities to reach a very simple goal this year.  I want to grow.

I do not suppose that you have the same goal as me for your year or your life.  Everyone has their own reasons for living life.  My reason for living isn't growth, but my reason for living helped me realize that this year was about me growing.  Do you know your reason for living?  Or do you have a goal that you are working toward this year?  Allow me to help you to simplify your time through a little planning, a little prioritizing, so that you can easily make choices that agree with your goals while living your life.

Planning

Some people believe that you don't get anywhere without planning.  That's not true.  You get somewhere, but when you end up where you end up you may not like where you are.  Planning is about looking forward and laying out a path.  The path may change and life definitely happens, but plans allow you to have an idea of where you are heading.  Take a second to find a piece of scrap paper.  Write down where you see yourself in one year.  Where do you see yourself in five years?  Where do you see yourself in ten?  All of the sudden when you begin to look far enough ahead, you realize that you may have to take certain steps to make that ten year self look like you want your ten year self to look.  Planning is vital, but must only be done periodically.  Again, there is no use spending one's whole life planning instead of living.

Priority Setting

Once you take a look ahead one, five, and ten years into the future you begin to realize that some things must indeed be more important to you than others.  Maybe right now, you are a mother orchestrating the raising of multiple children.  However, in ten years, you will be the mother of multiple teenagers.  When your teens are out playing sports, hanging with friends, and going to concerts, will you be spending time with their dad or your husband?  For me, that makes my husband a high priority even while I'm raising my kid.  Maybe you have teenagers already, where will you be in in ten years when your children are moved out and having children of their own?  Do you want to start your own business?  Do you want to volunteer?  What priorities might need to change now in order to assist you as you transition into being an empty nester?  Take a second with that scrap piece of paper.  Write down your priorities as they are right now in reality (not in wishing).  Now take a second and rearrange them into how you think or know they should be, be sure to add in any priorities that may have been missing from the first set.  Here's the top of my ideal priority list so you can get an idea of what a priority list may look like (no one has a "wrong" priority list, sometimes some are more helpful than others though):

God
Husband
Son
Relationships - Friends, Family, Bible Study Group
Home
Etsy - Orders
My Blog
Etc.

Each person will have their own priorities.  It is KEY to be aware of what you want your priorities to be.  Again, just like with planning, being aware of our priorities (not consumed by setting them) we can intentionally choose our activities and plan out our time.  Priorities make choosing activities simple, because you know exactly what to say yes to and when to say no.

Goal Setting

I still spend January setting a list of goals for each area of my life, but I do not suggest that anyone starts out by setting a massive list of goals or resolutions each January.  For me, this is almost a setting a course exercise where I set my sails and plot my heading for the upcoming year.  Some of my goals come to fruition.  Some remain undone.  However, I know what I want to achieve and I have some sort of compass to guide my decisions.  My success or happiness is not based on whether my goals are met, but rather did I live my life well this year?  For me the question is "did my life glorify God this year?"  Goals set in this manner simplify decisions rather than making every decision a hassle.

Taking Time to Simplify

While all this planning, priority management, and goal setting can seem to make life more complicated. I disagree.  My life is simplified by knowing where I am heading, what my priorities are, and what I'm reaching for in my life.  I can take aim without getting distracted by things that don't align with my plans or priorities.  I can grow in peace without feeling like I'm going to mess up big time.  I know where I'm heading and I know what is important to me.  This simplifies my time.

Do you have plans and know where you are heading in the next year, five years, or ten?

Do you have your priorities set?  Do you make your decisions based on what's most important?

Do you have a goal that you are reaching for this year?  Where are you setting sail to in your life?

Thank you for clicking over to Designing Life today!  I hope you have had some time to think through simplifying your time, I know I have!  I have some goal setting worksheets over at my Etsy Shop, Designing Life.  That is . . . . unless your scrap sheet of paper has been fully adequate for this exercise :-)  Come back soon to check out more Design & Decorating, Home Organization, Simplifying Life, and Printables 4 Life!




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