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I {Heart} Target + Hobby Lobby

2 Aug

Two of my absolute favorite stores are Target and Hobby Lobby.  This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to visit both.  I did a little shopping and thought I’d share my finds with you.

I went to Target first and picked up…

This is a weekly planner that had me at “better organizing”.  I have been looking for a family calendar for a while now, but I knew we needed more than just a monthly calendar on the wall.  Been there.  Done that.  Didn’t work.  So, when I saw this beauty, which would allow me to color-code {swoon}, I immediately placed it in my cart.

This is where I put it.  This is our family’s “launch pad” of sorts.  That bottom basket holds Little Man’s shoes.  The next shelf up, with the pink box, holds our files.  The next shelf holds two expandable filing folders; one of which holds medical-related paperwork and the other holds receipts {not my ideal system… will probably change it up soon}.  The top shelf holds my most referenced books, our “mobile command center“, and my umbrella.

Here’s a closer look at the very top.  I have an Eiffel Tower that I bought at Target a long time ago, an IKEA vase full of ultra-thin sharpies that I use as pens for color-coding inside my planner {OCD, much?}, and the little wooden tray holds this:

The notepads are for the weekly planner and I figured this was a good place for all of our stray “regular” pens.  In the photo above, the wooden tray has a photo of my sister and her husband poking out of it {in case you were wondering}.

This is another one of my Target purchases this weekend.  It’s just your run-of-the-mill, plain-jane, $9.99 monthly and weekly planner.  Here’s a peek at the inside pages:

The inside has a little bit of personality, but the front cover needed help.  So, I bought some of these at Hobby Lobby:

Got any idea what these are?

I kind of forgot to take a picture of the package before I ripped it open.  {What can I say?  I was too excited…}

But here’s what they are:

They are, as I’ve affectionately named them, “pink crystal swirly things”.  {Obviously NOT the technical term.}  This photo shows that I was able to “test out” how things looked before I permanently attached them.  Since I liked how things looked, I peeled them off the clear backing and pressed down.  Here’s what it looks like now:

Sorry for the poor photo {all of them aren’t that great because I used my phone}.  But you get the idea of how they look.

Ground-breaking?  No.  An improvement?  Yes.

Will these be what I keep on the planner?  Maybe.  At least, for now they are.

Other Hobby Lobby purchases include:

This is Zebra print scrapbook that I’m going to use it to create a “Dreams Book”.  I know it may sound a bit middle-school-ish of me, but I figure it can be something I look through when my road to business-ownership get a bit bumpy and tiresome.  I plan to include inspirational photos for things like: my future office, logo/branding, working wardrobe, and other business ideas.  I may share a few pages with you once I complete them {if you promise not to laugh at my scrap booking skills.}

Other Target purchases included a spiral notebook and a “Finn McMissile” car {from Cars 2}.  A certain little boy is in love with the Cars movies and I bought it because he was being such a good shopping companion.  {I had him for 4 hours, by myself, in and out of the rain – and was able to get in a grocery run!  That may not be impressive to some, but at the end of the day I felt like I had accomplished something!}

Other Hobby Lobby purchases included: those ultra-thin sharpie pens I mentioned earlier as well as some scrapbook paper for my “Dreams Book”.  I also bought two “refill packs” for the scrapbook because I knew I’d need more pages than what what provided.




Get Organized With: Lisa from Simply This.That.And the Other

12 Jul
Hey, all you Taylor Made Home readers!!  Have I told you lately how AWESOME you are?  No?  Well, I may be partial, but I think you all are the best readers any blogger can have.  That is why I am giving you the priviledge of hearing from a woman who shares my belief that homemaking (including being a wife and mommy) is THE best job in the entire world.  She is super sweet and has such a knack for hospitality and ministry.
With that, I will pass the keyboard to our guest {enjoy!}…

Hi, I’m Lisa. I am married to my college sweetheart, Scott, and am momma to two very fun children, Laurissa{19} and Caleb{17}.
Homemaking {laundry does NOT count}, date nights, a house full of kids and friends, recycling, entertaining, and finding a bargain are on “my favorite things” list.
Simply THIS.THAT.AND the OTHER is where I journal about marriage, parenting, faith, picnics and parties and whatever else comes to mind. I hope you will visit my blog and consider it a “home within your home!”
Showing hospitality by taking meals to people when they are sick, have had surgery or just need a little extra tlc when life gets overwhelming can be such a JOY! Sometimes it is easy to become so focused on our own families that it becomes difficult to think of others around us who are in need of our encouragement and help.
There have been PLENTY of times in my life when I have been taken under the wings of others and have been shown mercy. It is still a blessing thinking back to so many times others have cared for me and for my family. I can’t help but to think of how it feels to be taken care of. It is one of the best feelings in the world!
When I think of hospitality, I think of the root word “hospital”. So, I looked it up…just for fun. I know we are all familiar with what a hospital is, but my old 1963 edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as follows: “a charitable institution for the needy, aged, infirm, or young, an institution where the sick or injured are given medical or surgical care.”
While we are most likely not giving medical or surgical care, taking a meal to someone is comforting beyond words and it is always appreciated and welcome. For those of you who may struggle having people in your homes, this is the perfect alternative for you!
If your palms are starting to sweat, hold on. Showing hospitality to others does not mean fancy schmancy. It does not have to be homemade and it certainly does not have to be a complete meal…unless you signed up for it. If you did commit and are feeling like it is more than you bargained for, ask a friend to help. Maybe you can split the meal.
What is the first thing you do after you commit to taking a dinner to someone? Do you start to stress and wish you would have never offered? Do you ask a friend to trade dates in hope that the recipient will no longer be in need when it rolls around to your turn? Anyway you look at it, it can be a daunting task, to not only need to fix your family dinner but somebody elses family as well!
I think my favorite binder is the “MEALS TO GO” binder. It has made taking meals to people so easy…and might I add…FUN! I am not even kidding! Taking the guess work out of what to prepare and take allows me to make quick decisions and spend a little extra time embellishing it. It is a great way to pamper people and I no longer feel like I am just doing crafts “to do” crafts, but it allows me to be a little creative while being able to share with those who are in need!
Here is what works for me, but I would love to hear what works for you. Others ideas are always welcome and appreciated!!! I think we all enjoy hearing how other people do things!
Label your binder
The first page has the list of meals I choose from…if your recepient loves something in particular that you are aware of it makes it even easier to decide!
Keep this list simple and doable. If it is a chicken from Costco, a loaf of bread, bag-o-salad and lemonade, write it down. If it is a box of cereal, milk and bread write it down. This has to be what works for YOU! If it is having a pizza delivered write the phone number down so that you can call and have it DELIVERED! Are we all on the same page? Onward we go!
Each Meal has a complete list of what I will be taking to make it a “meal”.
I would encourage you to come up with one menu for each season…start with one meal that will be a JOY to make!
The next page has the recipes, so I am not spending all my time flippin’ through different binders trying to track down what I need to make dinner.
Have you ever thought about taking breakfast the evening before? This is AWESOME. You can deliver it in the evening after your evening has “settled” down and it might be a very welcome change for one VERY happy recipient. You may want to try it!
While we have been talking about “meals to go”, I wanted to make sure that I mentioned this: there are certainly seasons in our lives where helping others is easier than others. Showing hospitality is nurturing. It is showing you care. Simple as that.
A few of my favorite things I have received as a “bedridden Momma” are: {1}a little bag with a card, a peppermint plant and a box of tea, {2}a bottle of sparkling water and a fresh lemon, {3}a bag of epsom salts etc. Even a sleeve of Saltine crackers and 7 UP is something you could keep on hand to deliver when the need arises!
Simple meals to go:
taco salad
bbq beef or chicken
roasted chicken from the deli, a salad and bread
potato salad and chicken strips
pasta salad and crusty bread
tortilla soup and cornbread
So, as we have all been given the gift of TODAY, I hope that you, too, will find JOY in showing hospitality in a very real way wheather it be a meal, a note or a cup of lemonade!

To Lisa:
Girl, laundry is NOT on my favorites list either!  And, a binder?  You are a woman after my own heart.  Or is it, sister from another mister?  Anyways, point is, I appreciate you taking the time to share how you use organizing to become more hospitable and participate in ministry.
To my readers:
I know you’re going to want to head on over to her blog and immediately follow her.  It’s okay.  I won’t be jealous!  🙂
See you all back here tomorrow!
God Bless

My Phone is Smart!

24 Jun
Remember when the only option we had for organizing our life was this:

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not hating on those of you who use a day planner or filofax.  In fact, I tend to prefer them myself.  It’s not because I dislike technology.  I just remember things better when I can write them down.  The problem I have though is that I have YET to find the perfect planner.  (I’ve been looking since high school, at least, and I’m approaching my 25th birthday).  I digress.
Today, after some inspiration from my friend Jen over at Get the Skinny on Getting Skinny (a fitness blog) whose post yesterday was all about apps you can use to help you lose weight/stay healthy, I thought we’d take a look at how the smartphone can help us organize our lives.  Let’s face it, these days the smartphone can do ALMOST anything you want it to do.  You can:
Keep a Calendar
Log your Food/Exercise
Track your cycle *ahem*
Look up the Weather
Read Ebooks
Pull up GPS
Get on the Internet
Find a House/Hotel/Any Form of Shelter
If only we could get it to clean the house for us…
Just sayin!  I may enjoy organizing but I DO NOT enjoy cleaning.
See, I am normal!
(For the most part…)
*Side Note: I can’t wait for the day when I tell my son that I remember the day
when the only thing a cell phone could do was call people. *gasp* 🙂
A smartphone (whether Blackberry, IPhone, or Android) can be your sidekick when it comes to getting things done.  Yes, even if you are a full-time stay-at-home-mom who barely leaves her home except for the occasional grocery trip and church service.  (Oh wait, that’s me!)
Here are some things I use my smartphone for: 
(I have an android, by the way.  I would love an IPhone but I’m working with what I’ve got.)



I was introduced to the google calendar by another blogger (Simple Mom, I think), and have never been so amazed.  You see, when I was employed, I worked for a local credit union who used Microsoft Outlook.  I LOVED Outlook for the ability to color code, keep a to-do list, and set reminders all in one place.  I set a reminder for EVERYTHING that needed to be done.  If I didn’t have time to get to it right then, I simply pressed “snooze” and forgot about it.  Well, until it popped up again to remind me!  Seriously, I hardly had to THINK.
What I love about the Google Calendar is that it’s a lot similar to Outlook in that I can keep tasks separate by category.  Whereas Outlook simply color coded them, Google allows you to have a completely separate calendar for each category.
Here are my categories:
Family Events – Party Invite Info, Trips, Etc.
Blogging – Scheduling Posts & Blog Related Tasks
Home Management – Cleaning & Organizing Tasks
Homeschool – Lesson Plans
Meal Plan – Schedule meals according to day’s activities
Church – Nursery/Children’s Church; Women’s Ministry
Another thing I love about this calendar is that I can email my husband.  He’s not one to keep a calendar so often times it’s difficult to keep him organized.  Instead of nagging, I simply schedule an email to be sent (he receives it directly on his phone, BTW) a certain amount of time before the event/task.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t been using it as “religiously” (for lack of a better word) as I ought to.  I tend to use my paper planner more often than not.  However, I would like to make more of an effort to use Google Calendar more.


I keep track of my meals and activities with the use of My Fitness Pal.  You can go to their website and log everything onto your desktop, but I tend to use their mobile app because it’s a lot easier for me to be able to update my journal while on the go.  My Fitness Pal also has several great tools for you to use as you strive for a healthier weight:
  • To find out what your optimal weight range and BMI is, click HERE
  • To determine the nutritional information of any recipe, click HERE.
  • To calculate calories burned during an activity, click HERE.  I actually used this one to create a list of easy activities I can do during the day without even having to leave my house.

Of course I’d prefer an actual Kindle because the larger screen would be easier to read, but I do get some use out of my phone app.  In all honesty, this app really as little to do with organization except for the fact that you’ll have less books taking up space in your home.  Of course, books will likely be around for a long time and I actually am fond of mine, as I am an avid highlighter and margin-note-taker.  I study every book I read as if I’m being tested on it.
As much as I love holding a real book in my hand and flipping the pages, much like online magazines, I appreciate the convenience that these ebooks provide.  Not to mention when I hear about a free ebook being offered by Amazon, I can download it right to my phone so I don’t miss out.

~*~ AK NOTEPAD ~*~
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if I don’t write something down, I am likely to forget it.  No, typing isn’t technically the same thing but documenting my thoughts, to-do lists and anything else I want to remember keeps me from using scrap pieces of paper and post-it notes all the time.

I already professed my undying love affection for the bloglovin’ app HERE.  But, I’ll say it again.  This app is probably one of the most used on my phone because it keeps all of my favorite blogs at my fingertips, no matter where I am.  (Not to mention when blogger wants to be a pain in the tail and not let me comment on other blogs….boo!)  Bloglovin’ has never let me down yet (knock on wood).

Note: I wasn’t paid to rave about Google Calendar, My Fitness Pal, Amazon Kindle, AK Notepad, and bloglovin’. 
They are simply phone apps that I actually use and find helpful.

That’s all I’ve got for today, so now I wanna hear from you…

What are some of your favorite apps?
(organizing-related or not)

~*~ P.S. ~*~
Right now on Tip Junkie’s Facebook Page, if you “LIKE” the page you’ll score a free downloadable Executive Homemaker Planner.  What included:

How-To for Organizing the Planner
(complete with category recommendations)

Goals for the Week
(You + Honey-Do)

Errands To Run

People to Call/Notes to Write

Ongoing Problems
(Person to Contact/Phone Number/Etc.)

Important Phone Numbers

Neighborhood Phone List

Babysitter Info

2-Page Special Events Log

“Movies I Want to See” Page

Cute Labels to Print and Cut Out


Organized Hospitality

25 May

Do you entertain or show hospitality?

We sometimes use the words “entertaining” and “hospitality” interchangeably.  But are they really the same thing?  When we entertain we are generally wanting our guests to see how clean and organized our home is, how delicious our cooking is, how smart our children are… do you see where this is going?  Entertaining can easily become all about us if we’re not careful.

Hospitality, on the other hand, is intentionally focusing on the guest.  Of course we still want to clean our home before their arrival, but instead of doing it because we want to impress them, we do it because it will make them more comfortable.  Instead of preparing a fancy meal to show off our culinary skills, we cook in order to offer them something nourishing to eat.  Instead of sharing stories that brag about how smart our kids are, the conversation focuses more on what’s going on the life of our guest.

In other words, hospitality is intenionally focusing on others.  Sounds easy enough, right?  It can be when your heart is in it.  However, I suspect that in the midst of our daily lives, it can be difficult to slow down enough to focus on someone else.  It’s not that we don’t care.  It’s just that your husband is working extra hours, little johnny has two baseball practices a week as well as a game every weekend, little suzy has swiming lessons twice a week, the dog has to be taken to a vet appointment on Friday, you haven’t been feeling well lately, and the grocery shopping isn’t even done yet, so you have no idea what’s for dinner.  No wonder you don’t have any energy to extend any sort of hospitality to anyone.  What’s a woman to do?

In today’s fast-paced society, if you want to become a more hospitable person, you are going to have to become intentionally hospitable.  Meaning, you’re going to have to make hospitality a priority and plan, plan, plan.  It may seem a little forced at first but over time, as you become more comfortable with the process, hospitality will become second nature.

Oh yeah, and here’s a tip that I stumbled upon today over at Offering Hospitality that might help.

You guys know I’m a sucker for binders.  (For more posts involving binders, click HERE and HERE.) 
This one in particular is great because she allows for both preparation and reflection.  Obviously, the preparation part happens before the guests arrive.  You write down the guest list, choose your menu, and plan for any decorations.  The reflection portion of this journal is used after the guests leave (again, stating the obvious).  Taking a few moments to document what went well and what you can do to avoid mistakes in the future will help you to consistently improve your hospitality skills.
For more details on the preparation section of this binder, click HERE.  Then, click HERE to learn more about the reflection section.
How do you prepare to show your guests hospitality?

Organize with "Kits"

19 May

One of my favorite organizing tips (besides using binders) is to categorize your belongings into kits.  If you think about it, you probably already do this to some degree.  For example, when you take all of your makeup and put it in a bag or pouch, you are essentially creating a makeup kit.  However, have you considered how you can take this idea and use it to organize other areas of your home?

Aby, from the blog Creative Organizing and owner of Simplify 101, has shared several “mini zone” ideas that I am loving:


(Photo courtesy of Creative Organizing)

This is her “Picnic Mini Zone” filled with everything you need for a spontaneous summertime picnic (table cloth, napkins, wipes, salt and pepper shakers…click HERE for the full list).  She also suggested creating a “Travel Mini Zone” by filling a tote with travel sized toiletries, laundry bag, and a laminated travel checklist.  That way an impromtu road trip is a little easier to pack for. 

Hey, spontaneous picnics and impromptu road trips… who says organizing leaves no room for unplanned fun?

(Photo Courtesy of Creative Organizing)
She also came up with this super cute “Errands Center Mini Zone”.  Use a box or basket to corral things like a preprinted grocery list, coupon organizer, and a clip board to use while shopping.  (For the full list, click HERE.)
What else can you organize using Aby’s “Mini Zone” method, or what I like to call “Kits”?
How about a snack station for the kiddos?

Organize your finances with a budget box (courtesy of Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons):

Keep all of your monthly budgets and bills in one place.  Plus, to make it more efficient, stash envelopes, a checkbook (or two), and stamps in a plastic file container.  (Click HERE for the full how-to.)
A gift wrapping kit would come in handy:
Other ways you can organize using kits/”mini zones”/stations:
  •  Kid’s Activity Kit – Long car rides can be oh-so-boring for active kids.  Sure you could break out the portable DVD player, but why not give them other options: crayons and coloring book, travel size games, books, journal, and small toys.  Place it all in a tote bag or backpack and keep it in the car to ward off the famous “are we there yet” question.
  • Meal Kits – Got a few recipes that are family favorites?  Gather all pantry ingredients and store box or basket.  This also works if you want to create a sandwhich-making kit to store in your fridge.  Gives the phrase “fast food” a whole new (more nutritious) meaning.
  • Nail Kit (a.k.a. Pamper Yourself Kit) – Gather everything you need to do your nails or to create your very own spa night at home.  It’s important to take some time to recharge your batteries.  Putting together a kit will make it that much easier to relax.
  • Wait Kit – Grocery lines, doctor’s office lobbies, school pick-up lines.  We spend a lot of our lives simply waiting.  Why not use this time wisely?  Pack a tote with your favorite crossword or sudoku book, the current novel you’re reading, or a journal to write down your thoughts.

What kind of ideas for kits can you come up with?


Home Management Binder

5 Apr

Otherwise known as a “Family Planner”, “Household Notebook”, or “Sanity Saver”.  A Home Management Binder is a priceless tool for an efficient home.  I’ve been using mine for about a year or so now but when Jen from IHeart Organizing decided to dedicate the month of March to creating one of her own, I thought it would be the perfect time to give mine a little makeover.

Reader, meet my new Home Management Binder:


The first thing you’ll want to do when creating your own binder is to choose your categories.  Keep reading and you’ll see what I have chosen.  However, you want to choose those that pertain to you and your family. 

For example, if you homeschool, you may want to add a homeschool section.  But, if your kids go to public/private school, you may want to dedicate a section to their school schedule, class syllabi, and lunch menu calendar.  One way to determine which sections you’ll need is to go through that pile of paperwork on your kitchen counter and see what’s there.  You know the pile I’m talking about.  😉


To make your own, you’ll need the following:

  • 1 Binder (Mine is a 1.5 inch)
  • Dividers (Choosing your categories first will let you know how many dividers to purchase)
  • Sheet Protectors (Optional, but recommended – to protect those pages you use often and provide a way for you to reuse some pages from day-to-day or month-to-month)


Using your chosen categories as a guide, label your divider pages and put pages in the appropriate sections.  Have fun with this step by decorating your binder, dividers, pockets, etc.  Personalizing your binder is a great way to motivate you to USE the binder.  After all, the cutest binder is still useless if you never look at it.  Which leads me to the final step…


Make it a habit to look at your calendar pages every morning during breakfast.  Schedule time to put pages in their appropriate sections at the end of each day.  Every month or so, make time to go through your binder and toss pages you no longer need or add a checklist that may help you become even more organized.

Now that you know how to make your own, here’s a peek at what’s in mine:

I have a pocket in the front for my checkbook and food/exercise journal, along with things that need to be put into it’s proper section.

Here is a list of my categories:

  • To-Do Lists & Goals – Right now I have a daily checklist of things I’d like to get done (quiet time in the morning, load/unload dishwasher, at least 30 minutes of exercise, etc.) and a Master To-Do List (I write down tasks and projects that I have to/want to do and check them off as I complete them).
  • Routines & Planning – This is where I keep our daily schedule, calendar, and week at a glance pages.
  • Cleaning and Organizing – I’ve got Flylady’s detailed cleaning lists stored here as well as Jen’s Home Maintenance Checklist.  Basically, if it has anything to do with keeping your stuff clean and in order, it goes in here.
  • Finances – Though I file all of our paid bills and other important financial documents elsewhere, I do keep our bills to be paid in this section as well as a checklist to make sure I’m not forgetting anyone.
  • Little Man – I actually have his real name on the tab, but this is his blog nickname.  Because he’s only two, there isn’t much to put in this section yet.  However, I do have some notebook paper in this section to jot down idea for fun activities and crafts we can do together.
  • Blogging – This section has a calendar to plan posts, an ideas checklist courtesy of Jen, as well as a blog journal for posts I’ve already written (I would hate to duplicate a post just because I forgot).
  • Health & Medical – I have our Zumba workout plan in here along with a BMI chart printed off the internet (forgot where I found it but I know I just googled it).  This is also where we store a medical journal for each member where I can keep track of symptoms, medication given/prescribed, appointments, vaccinations, etc.  Basically, keeping my own version of our medical records.
  • Hospitality – I keep a list of who we’d like to invite over, a journal of how the dinner/party went or what we could do differently, and family ministry ideas.
  • Birthdays & Holidays – This section has Jen’s important dates print out as well as her gift log print out.  I’ll also store birthday ideas here for Little Man as well as a party/event planner checklist.
  • Women’s Ministry – I teach a weekly Bible study for ladies in my community, so I have a section dedicated to their contact info, refreshment sign up sheet, current lesson plans, etc.
  • Gardening – Hubby is currently planning our garden, so this section will be used as our gardening journal and will store a diagram of the garden showing what is planted where, when it was watered, how well/poorly we did, etc.  All of this will help us work out kinks from year to year.
  • Vehicle – This section currently houses Jen’s Auto Maintenance Log.  Whenever we get an oil change or have work done on the vehicle, we will put the receipts in here as well.
  • Contacts & Phone Log – Obviously all of our contacts’ information will be house here.  However, I also want to put a Phone Log in here so that I can take notes during important phone calls.  I have a habit of forgetting what someone told me over the phone, so writing it all down should eliminate that problem.
  • My last divider is currently blank, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it pretty soon.  If I end up joining Thirty One Gifts as a consultant, then that is what I’ll use this tab for.  🙂

Alright, folks.  That sums up this Home Management Binder post.  I hope it was informative and inspiring.  If you haven’t already, click HERE to see Jen’s binder and see some other binders that may inspire you as you create one of your own.

IHeart Organizing

Holiday Ideas Binder

8 Mar

I have a binder fetish.  I will always try to find a use for spare ones that happen to be laying around the house.  What?  You don’t find an empty binder and begin to feverishly search for a way to use it?

I’m sure you’ve heard about using them for recipe storage, right?

Another popular use is the super-handy Home Management Binder:

But have you thought of using it to corrall your home decorating ideas?
How about using it to store date night ideas?

Well, I have a spare binder and I have come up with a way to use it (though I’m sure I didn’t come up with the idea).  You see, when I was growing up my Mom planned everything when it came to our family’s traditions.  Easter meant a basket full of candy and an egg hunt.  Valentine’s Day meant a present (necklace, book, movie, etc.) and some sweet treats.  St. Patrick’s Day meant wearning green and the 4th of July promised delicious backyard bbq’s with some fun lawn games.  Thanksgiving was filled with tasty turkey and Christmas morning there was the story of Christ’s birth, presents, and a yummy breakfast.
Mom did a great job making sure each holiday was celebrated and she always made us feel special.  Now, I’m the mom.  I’m the one responsible for  acknowledging the holidays and establishing traditions.  Until now, Little Man hasn’t really been old enough to remember what each holiday is about, giving me an excuse not to make much effort.  (I know, that’s awful!)  But now that he’s two, I really want to begin making each holiday special and creating memories together.  Problem is, when the each holiday rolls around I don’t know where to begin.
This is where the spare binder comes in.  I’m going to make mine a “Holiday Ideas Binder”.  Inside are going to be tabs labeled: New Years, President’s Day, Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day, Easter, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  (I know I missed several legitimate holidays, but please forgive me… they will be included.) 
I even want to find some of the lesser know “holidays” to celebrate.  For example: March 11th is Johnny Appleseed Day.  Who knew?  We could learn about who he was and maybe eat some apples or bake an apple pie. 
The basic idea is that the binder is a central location in which to store ideas (printed out from internet, torn from magazines, copied from books, etc).  At the beginning of each month, I can look to see what holidays are coming up and look through my binder for recipe, craft, or gift ideas to make it special.
So, we already showed how the humble binder can house your recipe collection, your “brain” (when it comes to home management), decorating inspiration, ways to woe your hubby (dates), and holiday ideas.  But there are a ton of other ways to use them:
  • Want to establish a Family Night but don’t want it to always consist of a movie and popcorn?  Research other options and place those ideas in a binder.  Every week look through your binder and choose something fun.  (You could always find those lesser know holidays, like Johnny Appleseed Day, and celebate them whenever you want, like say, during Family Night!)
  • Kid’s artwork can pile up faster than you can say “Picasso”.  Put their gallery-worthy artwork in binders and set them on your coffee table for guests to browse.  Piece of art too big for the binder?  Have your little artist hold it while you take a picture.  Place the picture in the binder.  If your little one can write, you can have them write something about each piece of art.
  • Create a “Visitor’s Manual” for your home.  What is that, exactly?  Well, you know how you go to a hotel and their is a binder on the desk with city information, phone numbers, television instructions, and the like?  It’s basically the same thing for your out-of-town guests.  You put a binder in the guest bedroom that gives a little info about your town/city; instructions on how to work the television, coffee pot, or other device/appliance; and the location of items they may need during their stay (extra toilet paper is under the bathroom sink, towels are kept on the middle shelf in the linen closet, etc.)  It’s basically a way to make them feel welcome and more comfortable in your home.
How do you like to use binders?  Or are you more of a file person?  How do you organize your ideas?

Mobile Command Center

7 Mar

Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons has some serious organizing skills!  When I first found her blog a couple of months ago, I read as many blog posts as I could.  The girl has an unending list of great organizing ideas.  One of the ideas that caught my attention was this:

It’s her mobile command center.  Genius!  This idea is especially awesome if you have a small home and need something that doesn’t take up too much space (that would be me!) or you live in a mulit-level house and would appreciate having something easy to carry from floor to floor.
So, today I finally decided to put together a mobile command center of my own.  First of all, I already had the same file box (from Target) that she had, so that part was easy.  There are a ton of cute options out there when it comes to file boxes.  Choose one in your favorite color or choose one that coordinates with the color scheme of the room where it will be stored (great opportunity to interject some fun into a space if you generally shy away from bold colors or patterns).
In addition to the file box, you’ll also need some hanging files and either a label maker or a sharpie.  After you’ve collected all your supplies, you can start with the following categories:
  • Incoming Mail
  • Outgoing Mail
  • To File
  • To Pay
Toni also included a file for each family member, which I plan to do also when little man gets a little older and more children join our family.  Until then, I’m going to start with the categories listed above.  If I find that more categories are needed, I’ll add them at a later time.  (Update: I will be adding a grocery list/coupon file like Toni did also.)
Without further adieu, here is my version of Toni’s Mobile Command Center:

As you can see, I still need to add a calendar to the front but at least this is a step in a more organized direction.

Toni also mentioned that she kept a small box nearby to store her colorful pens (to color code her calendar).  I’m thinking I’ll put my pens in an unused white coffee mug.  Maybe later on I’ll wrap some cute paper around a (clean) metal can and use that for pen storage.  Who knows?  The possiblities are endless!

Here is a closer look at my file folders.  Don’t laugh at my handwriting!  🙂  I also intend to use my label maker to make the tabs look a little better but first I have to get a label refill.  (It’s on the shopping list!)

So, there you have it!  Be sure to check out Toni’s version before tackling this project yourself.  After all, mine still needs a little bit of work to be fully functional.  But you know, getting organized starts by doing ONE THING at a time.  This was my one thing for today.  What will yours be?

What I’m Working On: Routines (Take Two)

28 Feb
Last week, I wrote about my need for a new routine/schedule.  As promised, I’m here to update you on what I’ve done.  I’m so excited because I think I’ve found something that works pretty well for our family. 

Disclaimer: just because this works for our family doesn’t mean it’s going to work for yours.  Every family is unique, thus your family’s needs are going to be unique as well.  If you’re starting from scratch, write down what you do in a day and use that as a foundation.  Then, change it whenever you need to.

In that first routines post, I told you how I’m a big fan of the Flylady.  She strongly endorses creating a morning, afternoon, and before bed routine.  I took her advice and created a routine for our family.  Here’s what those routines look like:


  • Wake Up @ 4:30 am (So I can get work done before little man wakes up, gives me more time to focus on being a mommy when he is awake.)
  • Make Bed (So I can’t crawl back in it!)
  • Make Hubby’s Lunch (It’s easier for me to force myself to get up when someone else is dependent on me.)
  • Hubby Leaves; Start a Load of Laundry
  • Load/Unload Dishwasher
  • Blogging work or housework
  • Little Man Wakes Up (7:30-ish AM)
    • Make Bed
    • Change Diaper/Get Dressed
    • Brush Hair/Teeth
  • Make/Eat Breakfast

AFTERNOON – Beginning around 4 pm or so

  • General pick up (try to get everything back to a somewhat orderly state so the hubbs doesn’t walk directly into a chaotic home after a long day’s work) 
  • Make/Eat Dinner
  • Family Time
  • Daddy helps Little Man with his before bed routine (while Mommy finished chores):
    • Bath/Put on PJ’s
    • Brush Teeth
    • Story Time/Prayers (Mommy joins them at this point)
    • Lights Out
  • Household chores wrap up/whole house pick up (finish cleaning up kitchen; put scattered things back where they go; complete any unfinished chores)


  • Check Calendar (To see what will be going on tomorrow – appointments, playdates, meals, chores, etc.)
  • Lay out clothes for next day (Workout clothes AND regular clothes – if we have to leave the house)
  • Spend Time with Hubby (Watch TV, play a board game, etc.)
  • Shower/Put on PJ’s
  • Read a book or journal
  • Lights out

This is what my morning, afternoon, and before bed routines are looking like right now.  Remember, the great thing about routines is that they can always be changed if they no longer work for you.  In fact, I think it’s a good idea to reevaluate your routines regularly to make sure you are accomplishing all that you hope to accomplish.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t assigned a task to every minute of my day.  As much as I love to be organized, I do like for my time to be flexible.  I don’t want to have a schedule that stresses me out.  If it does cause stress, then it’s not serving its purpose.

Instead of having my day completely mapped out for me, I simply keep track of what needs to be done during the week.  For example, I have chosen to focus on cleaning 2 -3 rooms each day.  (In the near future, I will create a checklist so that I can make sure I’m not forgetting anything from week to week.)  Also, I focus on a different category of laundry each day.  If I don’t have but one load to do, I can always do a load of something else that needs to get done.

Here’s how my days are looking right now:

  • Monday 
    • Chores (Entry, Dining Area, Kitchen)
    • Laundry (Little Man’s Clothes)
  • Tuesday 
    • Chores (Laundry Room, Living Room, Hallway)
    • Laundry (Towels)
  • Wednesday 
    • Chores (Linen Closet, Hall Bath, Little Man’s Bedroom)
    • Laundry (Bed Linens)
  • Thursday 
    • Chores (Master Suite – Bedroom, Bathroom, Closet)
    • Laundry (Whites, Kitchen Cloths)
  • Friday 
    • Chores (Pay Bills, Reorganize Fridge/Pantry – prepare for grocery shopping on Saturday mornings – Catch up if necessary)
    • Laundry (Hubby’s Work Clothes)
  • Saturday 
    • Planning Retreat (I take about 1 – 2 hours to look at the coming week and plan: appointments, blog posts, meals, etc.)
    • Errands (Grocery Shopping, Library, etc.)
    • Laundry (Catch up if necessary)
    • FAMILY FUN DAY (Go to the park, grandparent’s house, etc.)
  • Sunday 
    • Church & Rest (I try to do the bare minimum when it comes to chores and cooking so that I can truly relax, be with my family, and meditate on my Lord.) 

One thing I didn’t mention is exercise.  With the warmer weather, I usually meet a friend of mine (who lives right around the corner from us) and walk the neighborhood.  I didn’t add it in anywhere because we don’t really have a set time per say, we just try to make it happen every day (or at the very least, every other day.)  We walk for about an hour whenever the weather is nice.  When it’s cold or raining, I try to do a workout DVD either in the mornings before little man wakes up or during his nap time.  If all else fails, I’ll turn on a dance workout and get him to do it along with me.  (Well, being that he’s only two, I wouldn’t really say he participates as much as he bounces up and down a few times and then stares at me like I’ve lost my mind!)  🙂

Of course I didn’t list every single thing that I do in a day, but hopefully you get a general idea.  Obviously this routine will change once a second child comes (No, I’m not preggers yet.)  and will change once again when we start homeschooling little man (preK will be here sooner than I think!).  Also, in the spirit of being completely honest with you, I will say that I don’t always follow these routines to a “T”.  I mean, I make an honest effort to complete the routines and chores but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.  For example, I don’t always wake up at 4:30 am (in fact, I didn’t this morning).  If I do get up that early, I will usually join little man for his nap.  Because I didn’t wake up that early today, I am not taking a nap.

Do you have a routine?  If so, what’s yours?  If not, what is preventing you from establishing one?

If you have any questions about my routine or how to go about creating one of your own, feel free to email me at or leave me a comment below.

What I’m Working On: Routines

18 Feb

Whether you realize it or not, you probably have some sort of routine.  My morning routine looks a little like this right now: wake up at the same time as my son, pour him some cereal or give him some yogurt, and then watch a kiddie movie so that we can both “wake up” (neither of us are a morning person).  By the time the movie is over, it’s 8:30 am and I haven’t even thought about starting the laundry or loading/unloading the dishwasher.  More importantly, I haven’t had a personal quiet time or completed one second of exercise.  Needless to say, even though I technically have a morning routine, it leaves much to be desired.
And it’s not just my morning routine that could use a makeover.  I really don’t have any structure to my day which results in being completely unproductive and I lack any form of real accomplishment.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re “surviving” – everyone eats regularly and the house doesn’t necessarily look like a tornado has gone through it.  But I know that I could be doing so much more than I have been.
So, how does one go about creating a routine that works?
Cue the Flylady!
More specifically, her tips on creating a Control Journal.  (It’s pretty much the same thing as a Home Management Binder.)  In the control journal, she focuses on establishing a before bed routine, a morning routine, and an afternoon or after school routine.  She also recommends assigning tasks (laundry, errands, etc.) to a specific day of the week.
Beyond routines, she has a great system that breaks your home into zones so that you’ll never again have to set aside a large chunk of time dedicated to spring cleaning.  Sign me up!
I think I’m only going to use my home management binder as a place to put the information necessary for someone (Mr. Taylor, My Mom or MIL) to come in and be able to keep the house running when I may be sick or at the hospital having a baby.  (We only have one kiddo so, Lord willing, we’re not done yet!)  For everything else, I hope to utilize all that my computer has to offer by using an online calendar, online meal planning system, creating a spreadsheet for all of my contacts, etc. – If you already uses a digital resource that is invaluable to streamlining your life in any way, please share!
With the Flylady’s help, I’m going to make an honest effort to plan and write out a routine this weekend, and then once Monday morning rolls around it’ll be time to get down to business!  If you don’t already have (and use) a routine or the one you have been using no longer suits your family, I challenge you to create one right along with me. 

Upcoming posts: What I’m Working On: Routines (Take Two) and Create a Home Management Binder!
After school routine photo found HERE
P.S. I realize that part of this post sounded like a commercial promoting the Flylady, however you should know that I did not receive any compensation for singing her praises.  I simply think she’s got a good thing going and thought you might enjoy checking out her site and learning to “FLY”, as she says.