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Scattered Squirrel

Scattered Squirrel: October 2012

October 31, 2012

An Early Christmas Present

Hi there everyone, Happy Halloween! There's a ton of stuff happening around here today.  I'm putting the finishing touches on our Halloween decorations, working on the printables for next month, and spending some time planning office organization.  A few weeks ago I shared pictures of my home office space (I still feel giddy just thinking those words)  and then I shared some of my ideas and inspiration boards in this post.  I had a lot of fun putting those inspiration boards together, and I've noticed that they're really helping to keep me focused on my goals for the space.

Until it's done, or at the very least, until I get a desk put in there, I'm content to set up at the kitchen table during the day, and take it all down before dinner.  It's not the best solution, but it's kind of working for now.  I'm still having fun tweaking things in my work area though, and to that end, I've made a few minor changes, starting with this!

I did say minor changes.  Travis helped me move the buffet over to the other wall.  I know, not all that exciting, but you see, this past Saturday, Travis and I popped into our local Staples while we were out and about running other errands.  Him and Dad were in there when my parents were visiting and they noticed that our Staples had a great selection of desks, and some of them were very nicely priced.  Travis just wanted to get an idea of what direction I was thinking of going with my workspace, so we had some fun browsing, discussing features we liked and didn't like.  That little trip gave me a lot to think about when it comes to my desk.  Part of me still wants to hold out until Spring when the garage sales and flea markets start back up again.  Part of me wants to wait until I take the plunge and we head off to Ikea (can you believe I haven't gone yet?) Mostly I don't want to rush into making a decision that isn't going to be something I'm happy with.

After looking at the desks I wandered through some of the other aisles and Travis found me looking at my newest addition to my office!

I should probably explain huh?  You see, after looking at all the desks, and not really seeing anything that screamed "Take me Home" I went off to browse organizers and storage boxes.  As I was turning around the end of an aisle I spotted the folding tables, and wandered over to take a look.  I've been saying for some time now that I would love to get a folding table or two for barbecues, kid's parties, crafting, Christmas baking, my list could go on.  I really  like that they add an extra work surface, but when you're done you can store them away.  As I was looking at the folding tables I had the thought that one of them would be the perfect stop gap while I'm figuring out my desk.  It would give me a surface to work on for the now, and down the road, when I'm ready to commit to a proper desk, or find a desk I absolutely love, I won't feel so guilty because the investment in the table isn't that much ( $35 for a 4' x 2') and I already have alternate uses planned for it

I had just had that thought when Travis found me.  I shared my thoughts with him and he totally got where I was coming from, and to my astonishment picked up the table right then and there.  Despite my protests that I didn't mean that we should pick it up that day, he got the table anyway.  You see, while I've been content to set up on the dining room table, Travis hasn't been content watching me do it.  He found it painful to watch me pack everything up at the end of the day only to have to bring everything out again the next morning, knowing that I'd be spending at least a good half hour getting everything put back so I could get back into the flow of the day before.  It's been really bothering him that I didn't have a work space to call my own.  His reasoning warmed my heart.  I know, that after all these years I shouldn't be surprised by these little surprises and thoughtful gestures, but every single time he does something like this, my heart melts and I am reminded all over again what an incredibly lucky woman I am to be married to such a thoughtful  loving, generous man.  It really is the little things, the thoughts and intentions behind the gestures, that mean so much.  I have the Best. Husband  Ever!

So now I get to play around with the office set up, figure out the best way to use what I've got.  And I'm totally loving being able to walk away from a project and not have to pack everything up. Not only did my fabulous husband give me the gift of a surface to work on, he fed my addiction for new things to organize.  I can't wait to start putting in some new systems, and playing around with things.  For now though, I'm going to head outside and get working on the Halloween stuff.

One more peek at my "desk"

making things work, office, desk alternative

Don't forget to drop me a line and let me know if there are any printables you're wanting to see in the Holiday Planner, Personal Planner, or for the Home Management Binder!

What gestures warm you heart?  Do you ever find yourself feeling incredibly grateful for the simple things?  Ever made the choice to go with a temporary set up while waiting for the real thing?

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October 30, 2012

Dropped the Ball

Where has October gone?  I mean seriously, how did the last weekend of October just fly by?  This weekend was a whirlwind of activity and I don't have very much to show for it.  Here is what my to do list looked like Friday night:

  • Dust Up & Down
  • Vacuum Up & Down
  • Mop Floors
  • Deep Clean all Bathrooms
  • Laundry (about 4 loads)
  • Deep Clean Kitchen
  • Sew Halloween Costume
  • Bake something to take to Halloween Party Tuesday
  • Carve Pumpkins
  • Decorate Front Porch
And you know what?  It still looked like that come Sunday night before bed, minus the boy's bathroom, I walked our Teen through cleaning that one, and he did some of the vacuuming and some tidying up for me, which was AWESOME!  And I did get the kitchen done, and Travis helped Liam carve one of the pumpkins.

Why didn't I get anything else done?  We had too many other things going on.  Saturday afternoon was spent on running errands, probably not the best idea, but we had some fun with it.  Sunday was spent on the "Great Pumpkin Carving Kit Hunt"  NEVER leave that until the last minute.  We couldn't find one anywhere, which kind of sucked because we spent HOURS scouring stores for one to no avail.  Which was a shame because it meant Liam wouldn't be able to carve his pumpkin all on his own.  But Daddy to the rescue, he worked with Liam and made him feel as though he had done all the work on his own, which was totally great!

The sewing of the costume wasn't working out well either, and again, it was Daddy to rescue.  This time the rescue strategy involved a store and Batman.  The look on Liam's face when I handed him the Batman costume and asked if he would like to be Batman instead of a ghost like he originally chose was priceless.  We haven't been able to keep the costume off him, he even wants to wear it to bed!  lol  Score another point for my amazing husband.  

Monday was spent getting the housework done, and Travis and I decided to take advantage of his last day off and spend an hour or two out and about doing things we don't normally do with the kids, like checking out home decor stores and stuff.  Just as we sat down to have lunch I got a phone call from Liam's school. Turns out the kiddo thought it would be fun to walk through a GIANT puddle in his running shoes, and they were wondering if I could bring him new socks, pants, and a dry pair of shoes.... ummm...... we were all the way across town.  So it was a mad rush to the school, and we opted to just to take Liam home, as there was only an hour left of school time when we got there.  

Now my to do list is down to carve pumpkins, decorate the front porch and bake something.  No problem, except I had no ooomph last night, none!  I was drained and not feeling well, and the list of excuses could go on and on and on.  I didn't get anything done last night.  This morning I'm a little busy bee.  I'm baking cookies as I type this.  Nothing like typing for 5 minutes only to jump up to go pull out one batch to put another in.... if this post is disjointed that's why.  I'm trying to play catch up, because I totally dropped the ball over the weekend.

On the upside, the boys will get to help decorate outside.  It's left overs for dinner, which means it's the perfect night to carve pumpkins, and the cookies are just about finished!  

This isn't really anything new for me, and I think it goes with the territory of being a Mom.  Sometimes balls get dropped, things don't get done, they don't go the way we want, or we forget something and put a crimp in all our plans.  It's ok though.  We're allowed to drop the ball once in a while.  As long as we pick them back up or hand them off to someone else, I believe we'll be ok.  As I am continually reminded, each of us is only one person, we cannot do it all all of the time!  

Do you ever have days, weeks, or weekends like this?  How to do bounce back?  Got any advice for how to handle too many balls in the air?  I'd love to hear from you!

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October 26, 2012

New and Improved Printables Tab

I decided to spend some time streamlining some of the stuff here on the blog.  I've got a list a mile long of changes I want to make, but I thought I would start small.  I updated the tabs under my header.  Operation Move is over, so I took that one away.  (if you would like it back, leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do)  AND I updated the Printables page!

Now, when you click on the Printables tab you're taken to a page with JUST the printables on it. Right now,   all of them are on the one page (lots of scrolling, sorry), but I'm looking into making drop down menus so that I can organize them for easier browsing.  

Click on the title of the Printable (see above) and it will take you to the Google Drive where you can print or download.

It seems like a lot of the printables go to this screen.  I've tried reloading them onto Google Drive, but it doesn't seem to help.  If you click the printer icon you'll see a preview of the printable and you'll also be able to print.  To download the files, Click File then Download.

I'm still looking into how to make these work better.  I've checked out a few sites that allow free downloads, but many of them require you to have a membership to download, and I don't like that.  Right now, Blogger doesn't appear to allow downloads direct from the blog, but I'm looking into that option too.

For now though, I hope this helps you access the printables more easily.  I've also triple checked all the links, and everything is working as it should (with the exception of the previews, and I'm still working on that one)  hopefully any of the kinks and issues that were cropping up are fixed now.

Happy Printing Everyone!

October 25, 2012

Three Months of Printables!

printables, free, custom

What do page protectors, three hole punches, tab dividers, computer paper and binders have in common?  Why printables of course!  Not just a couple printables, but ALOT of printables, a plethora of printables.  Those three binders, shown above, are slowly going to be transformed over the next few months into organization machines.  And I'm inviting you to come along for the ride and snag a bunch of free printables on the way.

So, what are those binders going to become?  Well, two already have a set purpose.  The purple one is my planner, and 2012 is is quickly coming to a close, so I thought it would be a good time to get a new calendar done up and maybe make some tweaks and changes to the weekly schedule, add a few more items to the planner as a whole, (maybe a daily schedule as well).  Behind that is my faithful HMB.  I started revamping it earlier this year, and never quite finished.  Life happened!  I still have things to finish up in there, and possibly I'll revamp some of the other printables I've already done.  Only time will tell.  Lastly, there is my blank slate binder.  It has sat there, having no purpose other to hold tabbed dividers for over a year.  I've been trying to figure out what to do with it, and the other day inspiration hit!  It would be perfect for the Holidays Planner I've been wanting to put together.  I tried to put one together a few years ago, but I didn't really know what I wanted, the concept of planning the holidays was new to me.  I'm a little older, a little wiser (maybe) and I think I know, in general, what I need to plan for.  With the holiday season fastly approaching, I'm going to kick off the Printables Madness with the last one.

Throughout the month of November I'm going to be putting together the Christmas section of my Holidays Planner.  Each week I'll be popping in here to share with you one or more printables designed to help you feel organized for the holidays.

I thought December would be a good month to work on the planner for next year, there won't be as many printables for that one, which works well for December since it's such a busy month.  Each every week in December I'll be sharing a printable that is geared towards personal planning.  Plus a 2013 calendar.

And what better way to kick off the New Year, than getting all our home info organized and set up?  Every week in January I'll be sharing new printables for the old HMB, and sharing how I set mine up with you.  Sound like fun?  Who doesn't love free printables right?

Oh, but wait!  There's more.... I know that there will be things I overlook in doing this.  There might be something I just don't think to include in one of the planners that maybe you would have liked to have.  Well, I'm taking requests!  Starting now, if there is a printable you would like to see, (maybe you've searched online and just couldn't find the right thing, or maybe you did find it, but you don't like the layout.... whatever the reason,) please leave a comment, send an email, post on the FB wall....let me know!  I would love to hear about what you want, and I'll try my hardest to include as many requests as I can.

I'm super excited for this one!  I hope you'll pop back here on November 1st, for instalment number one!

Inquiring minds want to know:  What do you look for in your planners?  Do you like lots of graphics?  Clean and simple styling?  A variety of different pages to help keep track of things in different ways?  Drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you!

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October 24, 2012

The Little Touches

Last week my Mom and Dad were here for a visit.  We had so much fun with them, I can't wait to do it again.  I'm still grinning!  For me, this visit was a HUGE milestone.  I've always struggled with being organized; not just with our stuff, but with my time as well.  My house was my battleground, where I waged war with the burning desire to divert from the planned course to follow that illusive something "shiny".  So, when Mom and Dad would let us know they were planning a visit I would literally fly into a flurry of activity, trying to organize and clean the house within in an inch of its life.  I kid you not, one time I scrubbed the walls, and if you were to ask me why I couldn't, for the life of me, tell you.  Little by little it got easier, I relaxed a little more, I got comfortable with my home, with the state of it.  I like to put in the extra effort when company comes, but I don't take it as far as I did before.  But.... there was always a flurry of activity.  Finishing up a project I started and got discouraged over, clearing out the clutter or at least taking the donate bags to the store.  Tackling the plethora of hotspots and ill used spaces, and my list could just keep growing, but I'm sure you get the point.  This time it was different.

This visit was monumental for me.  For the first time I can remember, there was no flurry of activity.  With the one exception of organizing Travis's Office/the Guest Room, nothing I had to do was anything I wouldn't normally have done.  I didn't scrub the windows till they sparkled (though they do need a cleaning) I didn't scrub down walls just because, I didn't take a tooth brush to the baseboards ... no crazy life or death struggle for a state of perfection that just can't be reached when you actually LIVE in your home.  Sure, I gave the office/guest room a deeper cleaning than normal, and yes, I did spend some extra time and pay extra attention to the guest bathrooms, but I did that because I COULD, not because I felt compelled to do it.  And you know what?  I had time left over to add some special touches to those two areas.  And I wasn't worn right out when my parents arrived.  (I also didn't turn into a crabby, snapping, crazy lady either, for which I'm sure Travis and the boys are grateful)

The first area I tackled was the Guest Room.  I took a little time to cover up some of the visual clutter in the room and add a little touch of autumn.

seasonal decor, getting ready for guests

I added a couple makeshift bedside tables, and dressed them up with a lamp and a stack of books.

bedside decor guest

They're just a couple of barrels with glass tops.  Under the glass I added a few leaves and I tried to pick out books I thought might interest my Mom and Dad.  We're readers in our family, so this was a fun way to continue to share that.  For my Dad I chose two Clive Cussler books from different series, and a non-fiction book about our home-town hockey team.

season touches, guests

For my Mom I chose Janet Evanovich.  I remember she had said that she hadn't read them yet, so I thought I would start with "One for the Money".  I added a book of poetry, and an old copy of "The King's General" by Daphne du Maurier.

After that I turned my attention to the bathroom.  I wanted to add a little something special but not go too over board.

fancy towels, soaps, stuff for guests

In the bathroom I added a basket to the counter top.  I haven't had a chance to stock up on guest items yet, but I'm hoping over time I can build up what we do have.

apothecary jars, bathroom organization

I also brought in the glass jars from our room to dress up the window sill.  It was fun to make things pretty, to add those special little touches that I normally overlook because I'm so busy trying to get the house perfect.  (Why is it that simple, little things like cotton ball and swabs look so pretty when you put them in glass jars?)

Wanna know a secret?  I forgot to dust the baseboards!  Wanna know what else?  I don't think anyone noticed, and it certainly didn't ruin the time we had with Mom and Dad.

Have you ever gone overboard getting ready for company?  What fun little things do you do for guests?

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October 22, 2012

The Most Wonderful Thing and a Free Printable

You know that moment when what you know in theory turns into an experience in reality?  When you finally find out if you were right in your assumptions or totally off track?  That happened to me last week.  One of the things we most looked forward to with moving to a new area, was the proximity to family.  In theory this was going to be fantastic.  Not just for us to hop over for a visit, but having family come to stay with us.  This part really excited me.  For starters, we have a room for guests to use when they come.  This is absolutely amazing to me, and I love that I can offer a little oasis to overnight company.  Secondly, I have two boys, who's bathroom has to double as the guest bathroom.  I want to emphasize the BOY part.  They have very little bathroom items, tooth brushes and paste, a cup, comb, gel and face wash.  Their vanity has lots of unused space.  I have a whole drawer, plus two shelves free and clear for company to use to hold their own bathroom stuff. Where am I going with this?

My parents came for a visit last week.  To say I was giddy with excitement was an understatement.  I had so much fun getting ready for their arrival.  It helped that I'm more in control of my home than the last time they came for a visit, so there really was little to do in way of cleaning.  Aside from an extra deep clean of the guest room and bathroom, everything on my to do list was stuff I would normally have done anyway.  Not having to organize on top of cleaning was such a huge help that I was able to spend some time putting extra touches on things.  Books on their bedside tables, a flower arrangement in their room, just little things, but they were oh so much fun.  In this case, reality was sooo much better than the theory.  I love being able to open up my home in welcome to those nearest and dearest to us.

The weekend before they arrived I sat down to make up a list of things to do, meal ideas, activity ideas, etc... As I was jotting things down I got to thinking; this isn't going to be a once a year thing, and it's not only going to be my parents coming for a visit.  Those wheels in my head started turning, and I decided that it would be kind of fun and totally practical to make up a planner for when we have overnight guests.  Here is what I came up with.

check list for getting ready for guests
Guest Planner
Here's how I'm using it.  I plan on having one of these for each visitor/group of visitors. I can fill out all the info that won't change visit to visit and then tuck it into a page protector and use a dry erase for the the things that will change.  

Since I know that I'll pretty much do the same cleaning every time we get ready for company, I added the check-list on the top right.  And because having company usually means larger meals, or special desserts, I also have a shopping list at the bottom.  

The box for "Places to Go, Things to Do" will probably end up being a combination of permanent and ever changing.  For example:  When my Mom and Dad were visiting we found a local restaurant (more coming on that in a later post) that was AMAZING.  It definitely made the list of places to visit again.  I can jot it down in the box so that next time they come we don't forget about it.  

The "Meal Plans" box is for ideas, or items I know our guests like. Our Teen was telling Mom and Dad about this cornbread recipe he got in Foods class, and we found out that they both really like cornbread.  So I put a note in the box for next time so I don't forget to have our Teen make it for them.  I even noted the ingredients that I'll probably need to purchase for it on the shopping list.

With the holidays right around the corner, I'm thinking this little printable might come in handy.  I can't wait to use it again, because is there really anything better than sharing time with the ones you love?  Now, if only pulling together a guest room was as easy. ;-)

As always, to grab your free copy simply click the caption of the photo!  All printables are for personal use only.  

Do you like having out of town guests come stay with you?  Are there any special preparations you do to get ready for their arrival?

Linking Up At:

A Bowl Full of
It's OverflowingOrganize and Decorate EverythingThe Fun In Functional @ Practically Functional - Wednesdays @ 8am

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October 12, 2012


It happens every day!  All around the world, on every play ground, in each hall, at EVERY school, someone is being bullied.  Some child is feeling threatened, frightened, and very lonely.  And it breaks my heart.  What  it is even more terrifyingly heartbreaking is that bullying is coming into our homes now.  It comes in through our computers and social media sites; in the form of text messages and You Tube videos.  Cyber bullying never ceases, it never stops.  It's a virus of the worst kind.  It doesn't get enough attention, not nearly enough, until something like this pops up.

For more on this new story check out the articles HEREHERE and HERE.

It's not what I usually blog about.  But you know what, I'm a Mom!  And even if I wasn't a Mom, I would still post this.  In Canada, it's National Anti-Bullying month and the more voices that raise up in protest; the more people who bring attention to this issue, the better we all are.  My heart breaks for the suffering this girl went through, it aches to know that her peers could do this to her.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.  My thoughts and prayers also go out to every child who is being bullied; there is no reason, there is no excuse, and I am so sorry that there isn't someone there to protect you, I hope and pray you find the strength to ask for help!

I'm going to end this post with a plea   A plea to parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends... if there is a child in your life that you care about, don't turn a blind eye to this problem.  Every day, children like Amanda are lost.  They have no shelter from their storm, and they don't know how to ask for it. They are made to feel ashamed of themselves, and when you feel shame it's hard to feel worthy of help.  Let those in your life know how special, loved, and important they are.  Ask questions!  Heck, ask the hard questions!  Open up a dialogue with them, and keep it open.  Keep talking, even if it feels like they're not listening.  Don't just look for warning signs of being bullied, look for warning signs of being bullies!  If you think your child is bullying someone else, find out!  Ask questions, again ask the HARD questions.  And for goodness sake, no, for the sake of innocent children all over the world, don't turn a blind eye to it.  Ask for help!  Hold bullies accountable, don't help them get away with continuing to do it.  

No child should suffer!  No child should feel unsafe!  No child should feel unlovable!  

Get informed and their shelter from the storm!

Thanks for reading!  


October 11, 2012

Little Things Can Make All the Difference

Over the last few weeks I've been slowly reworking some of our organizing systems.  Tweaking them to fit our new home and the demands of a busy school year.  In my mini adventures I've discovered something that I never really thought about before:  Sometimes it isn't the system that needs tweaking, sometimes it is the items around it that are causing the problem.  Case in point, the paper part of our drop zone.  It was slowly getting out of control, and I was kind of lost as how to fix it.  Then one morning I was making coffee and an idea hit.  Maybe it's the stuff AROUND the drop zone that is causing interference.

Problem Area

Pretty cluttered huh?  This is why the problem started.  In our old home, our kitchen was seriously lacking counter space.  So we had to pick and choose what we kept out.  The coffee maker and kettle won that contest as we use them almost daily.  The espresso machine, coffee grinder and french press were given homes in cupboards and the pantry, and we used them less and less.  Travis is a BIG coffee fan, and it always made me a little sad that he couldn't use the espresso machine more.  When we moved into our new home and saw this part of the kitchen that was kind of apart from the rest, we both thought the same thing "Coffee Zone".

coffee, tea, hot beverage station before pic
Coffee and Tea Zone

I love having access to everything, but it sure did make for a very full countertop.  I used trays to help keep like items with like, and to help make it easy to clean the counter, or move the items out of the way if we needed some extra counter space.  Then I added the file box as part of the drop zone  (because it makes sense there) and it got even more cluttered.

mail sorter, action file, before pic
Drop Zone Before

While we both love having the espresso machine out, we weren't really using it.  On the other hand, we've had unseasonably warm temps here, and aside from morning coffees and evening teas, we weren't really drinking warm drinks.  It didn't feel right to hide it away again, but I wasn't really sure what else to do.  Since I wasn't sure how to solve this problem, I left it alone at first, but day after day it niggled at me.  Every time I walked by or glanced at the area it bugged me, and kept bugging me.  Then one day I pulled out some of our platters and inspiration struck.  

space, organizing, cupboard
Lots of Space

This cupboard is directly beneath the coffee zone.  That empty space was where I was storing our pitifully few serving platters and trays.  Pulling them out gave me an idea.  

espresso machine attachements, grinder and coffee storage
Clutter Be Gone!

I moved some things around in the cupboard, and made room for the items that didn't really need to be on the counter.  The grinder, french press, and espresso attachments are now all stored within easy reach, in the cupboard.  I put them on a tray so that when we want to use them they're easy to pull out.  I tucked my muffin tins and loaf pan in behind them because I don't use those very often.  And on the bottom there, you can see how little serving platters we have.  So, what was the result on the counter?

clutter free
The Beautiful Afters

What a difference!  I'm totally thrilled with the results.  I only moved a few items, but it made a HUGE difference.  I used trays again, just cheap plasticy ones from the dollar store.  They're there more to protect the counter than anything else.  Especially with the coffee maker being under the microwave shelf now.  Having it on the tray makes it easy to slide it out to get the coffee going and to slide it back out of the way!  And the drop zone?

after pics, organized, mail sorter, action files
Drop Zone After

That's much better too.  It is easy to get to it.  I have it on a tray too, this way if something spills on the counter the paper stuff won't get wet.  Eventually I want to get a better tray for it, so that I can move it to the table to sort through.  For now though it's doing the job it's supposed too.  

Just for fun, here's one more before and after for you.

Problem Area
organized end
Problem Solved!
And in case you're wondering where the carafe and sugar bowl went, I typically keep them on the table with me while me I'm working.  Less back and forth means more work done for me.  (less shiny objects to snag my interest!  lol)  When I'm done with them they sit in front of the espresso machine. 

Anyone else made some small changes lately?  Do you ever find that the little things can make the biggest difference?

Linking up to:

31 Days of Organizing Fun

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October 10, 2012

A Wet Knot is Harder to Untie!

Those words were spoken, two years ago, at our wedding.  We woke up to a grey and soggy morning, and even still that day was one of the most beautiful days of my life.  I am so lucky to be sharing my life with a man who is my best friend and soul mate.  Every day is brighter, happier, more wonderful, all because he is sharing it with me.  I could not imagine my life without him in it. 

Thank you, my love.  Not just for these past two years, but for all the time before as well.  Each moment, every minute has been magic.  And here is to many, many, many more!!!!

Happy Anniversary!

October 9, 2012

Taming Morning Chaos and a Free Printable

Happy Tuesday!  I hope that my fellow Canadian had a safe, fantastic, family filled holiday weekend.  A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I can't believe it is October already, where has the year gone?  This is one of my favourite months of the year.  It is FINALLY starting to feel like autumn here in the Fraser Valley.  Leaves are changing, the mornings are often cool with a little bit of crispness to the air and foggy.  We've been lucky with the weather, it's been gorgeous, but I'm ready to ditch the tees in favour of sweaters and layers and all that other autumn goodness.  The rush of back to school is over, the school year routines are starting to feel normal again, Thanksgiving, Halloween, our anniversary.... so much wonderfulness to October. 

Speaking of school year routines and normal, this year has presented a few challenges all ready.  Especially mornings.  I'm not a morning person.  I want to be.  I want to be that person who's up with the sun, enjoying a quiet cup of tea or coffee as I welcome in a new day.  I'm too much of a night owl though.  Since I don't have that extra hour or two to get a jump on the day,  I'm really working at trying to make our mornings flow smoothly, and not feel so frantic.  After much pondering and surfing around the wonderful blog communities and the internet in general, I've come to the conclusion that our mornings would be much better, if I was managing our my time better throughout the day.  

I have a Family calendar set up in the kitchen.  It worked so well in our old kitchen that I wanted to carry that into our new home.  It's current home is on the file box where I keep "action" files (for lack of a better term)  It's the drop zone for all paper work.  (I'll share my system for that in another post)

drop zone, calendar, morning
Family Calendar
It's been working quite well, as it is, but it's need a little help.  (or I need a little more help)  I wanted something that could keep track of everyone's activities, where I could have a visual for the meals for the week, and I needed something located near here to keep track of general To Do's and also items we're running low on.  Nothing worse than forgetting the milk is running low and not remembering until the next morning when the boys are wanting it for their cereal.  And I decided I wanted to have all this on the fridge.  I used to keep a similar system on the fridge at our old place, and it worked well.  I'm in and out of the fridge all day, having important info, reminders, and the like in a place where you will look at it often is a great way to stay on top of everything.  I just didn't want to have a bunch of stuff on the fridge.  It gets cluttered enough as is.  The solution?  

You guessed it!  A printable that combines a little of everything!

free, printable, planner, weekly, menu, to do list, shopping list

Here's how I'm using it:  Each member of the family gets their own row.  That way I can see at a glance what's happening that week and for who.  Our teen can keep track of any homework deadlines for the week, so that we can make sure he meets them. (He doesn't usually need us to remind though)  And I'm pretty sure I don't really need to explain the rest.  

I still have to get the colour printer set up, (it's been sitting for a few months, and I think it's almost out of ink too, which means it's going to need a cleaning before I start printing with it... and ink come to think of it!)  so for right now, I used our black and white laser one and stuck it in page protector.  Once I get the colour printer up and running, I'm going to print it onto photo paper, and either laminate it, or put it in a lightweight frame for on the fridge.

Hopefully this will help me not forget things so much. I can see what's happening tomorrow as I'm putting away the leftovers, and prepare for the morning the night before.  No more rushing to get breakfast ready, lunches made, make sure library books are in backpacks for library day.... I'm looking forward to more smoothly run mornings!  

And, as always, click the link under the picture to snag a copy for yourself!  If you have the time, hop on back over here and let me know what you think of it.  

Anyone else feel like mornings are more hectic than they should be?  How do you stay on track when things are busy?  Any tips or tricks for smooth running mornings that you want to share?

I'm linking up at:
The DIY Dreamer

Organize and Decorate Everything

The Fun In Functional @ Practically Functional - Wednesdays @ 8am

31 Days of Organizing Fun

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October 5, 2012

Growing an Office

This was supposed to be yesterday's post, but I ran into some troubles.  Really, the first clue that all was not going to go smoothly should have been the thought "I'll just quickly whip this up in Gimp!"  Ha!  First, I don't know Gimp well enough to quickly do the simplest things in it, and I was trying to create a collage of all my ideas.  Not a simple feat.  Then I had to look up tutorials to figure out how to do what I wanted.  (Note to self:  if I need to seek out a tutorial it is NOT going to be the quick and easy project I thought it would be.)  And finally, my stubborn streak kicked in and I was determined to do it in Gimp. The end result... I gave in, admitted defeat, fired up Inkscape, and was amazed at how quickly it all came together.  (I plan to remember this for next time!)  Now, FINALLY, here is the post I was planning on posting yesterday.

So, here we go.  As I mentioned on Wednesday, my office space is one of the spaces in our new home that I'm most excited about.  And to be completely honest, I'm a little scared to just jump in and set it up.  Aside from not having enough furniture for in there yet, there's also this burning desire to take my time, to make each addition to the space something I love, something that blends beautiful with functional.  I want to make it a place I will love for a long time.  I'm willing to spend some time waiting for it to come together, but I don't want to just go forward with no forethought or planning.  I have a board on Pinterest (here) for ideas, things that catch my eye, things that I think I will like.  I pulled some of those images together and thought I would share them with you.

First things first, you gotta have a place to start.  My place was with Liam's artwork, that white and blue combo made me smile, (and not just because he made it, but that really is the best part!) and when I went browsing through my Pinterest boards and noticed how much I seem to be drawn to blues and whites in office spaces, I was sold.  Without further ado, here's my inspiration board!

So, obviously idea number one is Liam's artwork.  The other three I already had pinned on Pinterest, looooong before we moved into our new home.

Number 2, I found here.  I have tried and tried to find the original source for this photo, but haven't found it yet.  If you know where it originated, please let me know, I would love to give proper credit to the creator of this beautiful space.  What I really liked in this one, was how they used a variety of different blues with pops of other colours to add personality.  It's a cohesive look with lots of character.

Number 3, I found here.  It's a craft room designed by Sarah Richardson for Sarah's House Season 4.  While I love the whole room, I chose this one for the use of wall space.  It's pretty, but still full of function.  And I really like the wall colour.

Number 4, I found here.  Again, loving the blues, here with the green, but what I really liked was the nesting desk.  I'm toying with some ideas for DIYing something similar.

It's one thing to look at pretty pictures and day dream about the possibilities, but there is an area that requires just as much (if not more) thought and planning.  How to store and organize all the supplies that fill an office space.  Below are some of my ideas for how to organize the space.

Stuff like this always makes me smile.  There are so many beautiful, useful pieces out there, I had to rein myself in and really think about the space I have and how best I can utilize it.

Number 1:  GODMORGAN organizers from Ikea.  These would be perfect to organize smaller items in a drawer.

Number 2: LACK wall shelf.  I'm thinking 2 of them above the desk would be a great use of the wall space. Using two would allow me to store more items, but still keep it feeling uncluttered.  These ones are two long for where the desk is going.  The space is 71" so there is going to have to be some DIY solutions involved, but I'm up for that.

Number 3: BYGEL cart:  I'm toying with the idea of using this to hold the printer, printer supplies and extra paper.

Number 4: Desk Caddy from See Jane Work

Number 5: Folders from See Jane Work

Number 6: Mail Sorter by Martha Stewart, found at Staples.

Number 7: SPONTON magazine rack.  Again, trying to make use of the wall space.

Number 8: BYGEL containers.  More using the wall space!

Number 9: Translucent Clipboard from Staples.  Though I may just go for the old wooden ones and dress them up with paper or fabric. There are too many uses to name!

Number 10: GODMORGON storage box with compartments  I'm thinking this would be fabulous inside a cupboard, being see through, it would be easy to see what is inside it.

I really want to put my own spin on this space. What better way than taking a plain storage box or magazine file and making it your own.

Number 1 is the inspiration picture from BHG.  Simply cover magazine files in wallpaper to add your own spin.  I'm not sure what sources we have here, locally, for wall paper, but I stumbled across these three on the HomeDepot site (go figure)   Find them here (2), here (3), and here (4).  The magazine files I found here (Ikea)  and my favourite part, the label holder!  I found those on the Lee Valley Website.  I'm think either C or D would look great!  Obviously, this wouldn't be the cheapest of projects, but I think it could be a great way to make an impact.

And there you have the general plan.  I collected ideas to inspire me, formed a plan to add storage, make use of wall space, create homes for supplies, and have some fun dressing up plain items.  Ahh, speaking of dressing up, it really wouldn't be complete without some finishing touches right?  Right!  This part was my favourite, and though I know it will be a long while before I get to this point, I couldn't help but have some fun daydreaming while doing some online window shopping at one of my all time favourite place:

Fun stuff, the fluff, the items that will move the office space in a direction more towards personal retreat.  And I love each and everyone of these items.

Number 1:  Small Classic Glass Hurricane, to add some sparkle, and bring in a little warmth and some yummy aromas.

Number 2:  Wesley Alarm Clock, because I'm constantly losing track of time, and it just looks perfect.

Number 3: Universal Flat Speakers in Silver.  For those days when a little music is in order.  And they're pretty!

Number 4: Semikolon Document Box.  I was thinking for keepsakes, but it would work great for documents too.

Number 5:  Cable Knit Reading Shawl in Feather Grey.  Love the color, and for this bookworm it would be a perfect addition on a chilly afternoon.

Number 6:  Plush Throw in Steel Grey.  For those chilly days when a little bit of extra cozy is called for.

Numbers 7 and 8:  Agean Mugs in Cobalt and Aqua.  Couldn't decide which I liked best for a warm drink, they both made me smile.

Number 9:  Squirrel Notebook.  (Does that need an explanation?)

Number 10:  Book Box. Love this too!  (Okay, okay, okay, I LOVE all of them) I thought this would be perfect for holding items that aren't needed often.  It's a pretty place to keep them, that's for sure.

I had a lot of fun day dreaming and plotting and planning.  Now that I have some ideas and visuals I'm eager to get started moving ahead with pulling this space together.  There are a few items I didn't include, because I'm still searching for ideas.  They are:

  • Window Treatments
  • Area Rug
  • Desk Chair
  • Under Desk Storage
You may also have noted that this has all been office focused, even though the room is for office work and crafting.  I have a plan for the crafting area too, but I know that for me, the office side of it is where I'm going to be spending the most time, and it's also where clutter will be more likely to collect.  Putting a plan in place ahead of time will save me time and grief down the road.

What about you?  Are you dreaming up a new space for yourself or a loved one?  Do you have a favourite go to store for various items?  

**Just a side note.  There are items listed and linked to from companies that have in no way, shape or form compensated me for this.  No affiliate links, no perks, no nothings.  I just chose stores that a) I know are in my area,  b) that have access to an online store, c) had items I was looking for, or d)any combination of the above. All opinions expressed belong solely to me, myself and I!  **

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October 3, 2012

The Beginning of my Office

I have been busy organizing some of the areas in our home.  I'm working out some of the kinks with our systems, and having a ton of fun doing it.  The last couple of days I've spent working in one area that I've been longing to get started on: my office/craft space.  Right now there isn't much in it.  It truly is a blank canvas waiting for me to put my mark on it.  And there in lies the danger, because space without purpose or use can easily become a disorganized mess of random, homeless items.  It becomes a black hole drop zone, where these items seem to be pulled, and if you let it, hopelessness will set in, and it will stay that way.

I didn't want that for this space.  Not only because it's where I'm going to be working from, but also because it's connected to our living room.  There is no door to close to hide away the mess. So when it started to look like this:

and this ... (sorry about the blurry photo, always take multiples, just in case!)

... and this ...

 ... and this...

... I knew it was time to really start thinking about how best to use what I've already got!  No more waiting, just jump in and get it done.

The first thing I needed to do was to start thinking of this space as my work zone (even though I don't have a desk set up yet, and technically work from the dining room table still).  Making this my work zone had to really sink in.  So, with the main purpose in mind, I began to sort.  I removed everything that did not belong, anything that had been placed down until I found the right home for it.  No more drop zone!  I've staked my claim, clearly and firmly.  No-one is allowed to just "leave" something in my space. 

To help curb that temptation  (especially for me, because I'm the biggest culprit when it comes to stuff like that) I removed the clutter magnet.

Bye bye bookcase.  As much as I love books, the bookcase was collecting and attracting clutter.  The books were impossible to keep neat, and it was just too convenient to place items on top.  Further more, it really didn't belong in my work zone.  At least not with all the books on it.  A little shuffling around and it's now found a new home in our family room.

Mickey isn't staying, he's going up into Liam's room, but the bookcase is.  Right now it's housing VHS tapes (very retro I know!  and yes, we do have a VCR so they do get watched!)  board games, puzzles, playing cards, a few of Liam's toys and the WII peripherals. The empty shelves are slated to be filled with the boy's books, one shelf for each of them.  Because our family room is open to the kitchen and eating area, it truly is part of the heart of the home, and I love the idea of the boys having access to their books here.  Maybe they'll be more inclined to curl up with a good book.  I'll share more of the family room later on this week.

Now, I bet you're wondering where the other books are?  Well, after some serious thought and consideration, I dumped neatly stacked them all in our bedroom.  I have a plan for them for in the future  and it involves them being upstairs in our room, so I figured I would store them there for now.  More to come on that next week!

With the book case removed it looks really bare.  Eventually, the buffet will be moved to that wall, and be for holding craft supplies only, but that's another story for another day.  On the other side of the space this is how I left things looking..

Sooo much better.  No more cluttered mess to sift through to find what I'm looking for, and plenty of space for works in progress (well maybe small ones)  I have scrapbook paper and long term storage files on left side of the buffet, and on the right is the cart that used to be Liam's craft cart.  Now it's home to my HMB, planner, and other binders. Under them my camera and all the cords and peripherals that go with it have found a new home.  Those white storage boxes make it really easy to grab what I need.  You can't really see it, but behind the camera box is a second one full of CDs that don't get used too often.  The drawers are holding spare notebooks and odd bits of stuff that is slated for a craft in the near future.

Inside the buffet you find this:

I didn't really change too much in here.  From top left we have paper samples, stylus and tablet for the computer, then craft stuff.  Bottom left to right is envelopes, greeting cards and extra file folders; my "work" caddy, and then extra printer paper and some writing work.  Right now, I'm working with what I have and taking notes on items I want to pick up later on down the road, things like document boxes, nesting containers, etc...

The drawer is holding often used (but not needed daily) items.  

I opted for loose categories here.  Nothing set in stone until I know what I'm going to use most often.  Again, I've got a list going for items needed to help the drawer function to the best of its ability.  Drawer organizers, non-slip shelf liner, etc... Also, I know that this isn't going to function as office storage in the future, so I don't want to invest too much time or money into it.

 The star of the show, by far is the work caddy.

I found the caddy at the dollar store of all places.  I knew it would come in handy, I just wasn't sure for what, so I only picked one.  (I'm going back for more because I've already thought up a hundred more uses for it!)  Then one day I was feeling frustrated that I hadn't yet figured out what to use for a desk.  Setting up on the dining table is fine, but it usually means grabbing a bunch of stuff, setting is all up, then taking it all down and putting it away.  And that's about the time when inspiration struck.  I have a cute little caddy that would be perfect for holding  pens, notebooks, sticky pads, glasses, and index cards! And I was right!  They  all fit neatly inside this little beauty.  The best part though, is that whole thing has a home in the buffet for when it's not in use.  

I just grab and go, and then grab and put away.  Easy, efficient, tidy and neat.  LOVE it!!!  It is amazing how something so simple has made such a huge difference.  No longer am I trying to keep everything I use often on top of the buffet.  This has greatly reduced the visual clutter in this space, and increased my own productivity, it's a win win all around!

There you have it, a nice, tidy start to my office space.  Well, as office-y as it gets for now.  As I said above, I've got big plans for this space.  I'm hoping to hop back on here tomorrow to share them with you.  Want a sneak peak?

(sorry bad lighting when I took this) This is a masterpiece Liam made at school.  The colors are perfect and the artwork is fun and precious.  Liam was thrilled when I asked if I could have it for in my office, and it's become my jumping off point.  I can't wait to find the perfect way to display it.  Until then, this is where it sits, to remind me of my vision for the space, and because it makes me smile!  

Those curtains are soooooooo coming down, just as soon as I have something to replace them with. 

Anyone else been busy with organizing projects?  Anyone else slowly working on creating a special place in their home, or decorating an area of it?

Linking up at:

abfolbuttonOrganize and Decorate Everything
The Fun In Functional @ Practically Functional - Wednesdays @ 8am

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