Monday, September 29, 2014

Choosing a Planner That is Right for You

Even amidst all of the electronic technology out there, people still love and use their paper planners.

I am one of those people.

I have tried to go all electronic, and as soon as I do, my life falls apart. I'm just no good at planning for things when all I can see are small entries on my tiny phone. And I'm terrible at keeping my Google calendar updated. In fact, I think it still has my teaching schedule from 2 years ago as my current schedule. Partly this is because I am a little bit stupid when it comes to figuring all the techy stuff out (for instance, I still don't know how to get my phone and computer synced for Google calendar), and partly it's because I just LOVE my paper planners. I don't think I'll ever have that same kind of love for my phone calendar, sorry.

What to look for when deciding on a paper planner system. Plus, reviews of seven popular planners on the market today.

I've used a lot of different planners over the years, and I have learned exactly what I need in a planner. It changes as my life changes, but I have become rather planner picky.

In college, I carried around a big, ol' Franklin planner and man, I loved that thing! I kept with Franklin for a while after I had Bria, but I soon realized that it was way too much planner for a SAHM with a baby, and I started looking around at other planners.

Now that I am a working mom of three busy children (9th, 6th, and 3rd grades), my planner needs have continued to evolve.

Here are the things that I personally consider when looking for a planner:

1. Academic Year vs. Calendar Year. With both The Maestro and I working in academia, plus having three kids, having an academic year calendar works best for me. I have occasionally purchased a calendar year planner and then been annoyed when it ends in December because I like to have one school year all in the same place.

2. Size. I need it to be small enough to fit into my purse, but big enough to actually contain my entire life and brain.

3. Sturdiness. I carry my planner with me EVERYWHERE. I need it to be super sturdy so it can last me a full year.

4. Writing Space/Page Organization.  My planner isn't just for me and my schedule anymore. It has to include my children's and husband's schedule as well, because their schedules directly affect me. I need a good page organization and lots of space to accomadate all five of our schedules.

5. Extras. Most planners include extra things like pages for taking notes, birthday pages, budgeting pages, etc. I know which of these I will actually use and which I won't, and I know which ones I can't live without. Ideally, I'd like a planner that doesn't have a lot of extra pages in it that I won't use, but I can overlook that if it has the extra pages that I want.

6. Cuteness Factor. I admit, I'm a sucker for all the cute planners out there, but it's low on the list. This is one area in my life where function trumps aesthetic (and believe me, usually it's the other way around). If it's cute but not functional, I would miss every appointment I have. My planner is literally my brain.

I thought I would quickly review several of the planners I have used in the past few years. I always save them, as I consider them a type of journal of my life, so I got out the pile that is still in my office and hasn't yet been relegated to a bin in the basement. I'm embarrassed at how many are not in the bin, but hey! More planners to talk about, and I do love planners.

At-a-Glance Life Links Planner

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Indian Summer

Sunday Photo 9_28_14 web
It was a LONG Sunday. Having a bit of dessert just before bed.

I'm not gonna lie, This has been a difficult week.

Late last Sunday night, we received word that our sweet nephew had taken his life earlier that evening. He'd just turned 30 the week before, and has always been one of the most loving and sweet people you'll ever meet. He was in 7th grade when I first started dating The Maestro, and he always acted as if I were his very favorite person in the entire world. That's just how he treated everyone. He had his share of struggles in this life, and as his sister noted, he fought every day to overcome them. We will all miss him so much.

Lots of heart-heaviness this week due to losing him, but it was only compounded by how dang far we live from the bulk of our family. We couldn't get one flight out for less than a small fortune, the Chicago airport has been having insane issues anyway, and we would have had to start driving as soon as we heard the news to make it out to Utah in time for the funeral on Thursday. So we had to settle for photos posted on Facebook and Instagram and for being there in our hearts even while our bodies were thousands of miles away.

Even though the girls haven't had a lot of opportunity to meet their cousin, telling them was so hard. They were devastated. It's a difficult thing to process at that age, and I know well how they feel because I lost two cousins when I was young. I didn't know either of them super well, as I lived in a different state, but I did know them, and I was affected deeply by their deaths.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Do-it-yourself Cheetah Mug--Easy Craft for Kids

This post is brought to you by Frusion Go Wild! and BlogHer

Sophia, my 8-year-old daughter, is obsessed with all things cheetah. 95% of her wardrobe features cheetah print, her lunchbox and backpack are cheetah print, she recently checked a book out of the library all about cheetahs, and I'm pretty sure that she wants to actually be a cheetah when she grows up.

So, naturally, when she complained about not having a big enough mug for hot chocolate last winter, I thought it would be fun for her to have a cheetah-print mug of her very own. The weather has considerably cooled down in the last few weeks, and the winter is not far away (let us all have a moment of silence for the passing of summer), so I figured we would make one together before the snows fly.

Here's how we did it:

DIY Cheetah Print Mug

1. Gather supplies. 


All you need is a white mug (any size will do, but we got the biggest one we could find) and black and gold oil-based paint pens.

2.  Get her started


I drew one cheetah spot on the mug to start her out. I explained that she could look at any of the clothing she was wearing to get ideas for shape, but they could be pretty random! She tried out a second one underneath mine, and I knew she was ready to go for it herself!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Save Money by Shopping from Your Own Closet

Summers are always a lot leaner around here financially. It usually works out just fine, but by the end of summer our budget has been stretched so far that back-to-school shopping usually has to wait until a few weeks after school (and the larger paychecks) start. That is why I didn't take the girls shopping for new school clothes until just last weekend.

As a high school freshman, Bria is starting to be really interested in fashion. Actually, who am I kidding? Bria has always been interested in fashion, but now she is more interested in looking fashionable. She was fine with waiting to go shopping, but wanted to see if she could use what she already had in more up-to-the-minute ways.

So, I sent her to Pinterest to find outfits she loved, and then we shopped out of her own closet--and mine a little bit, too.

Before I show you the photos, here are a couple of tips:

Look for versatility in your clothing

When you do buy new things, make sure that the majority of what you purchase is versatile enough to be worn with several other items. It's okay to have a few "statement" pieces if you really love them, but if your entire wardrobe is made out of things like that, you will be severely limited in your outfit choices.

Know what looks good on you

I've always known that I look really good in black--which, lucky for me, is also a super versatile color. You may not look good in black, but you may look amazing in brown or grey, both of which look awful on me. Have items in your closet that you know look good with your coloring.

The same can be said for your body shape. If you don't look your best in a certain cut or style of clothing, don't purchase it just because it's on sale or because you can't find anything else. It's better to spend a little more on a flattering cut or wait until you can find something that is right for your body type.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DIY Cheshire Cat Costume

Make a simple Cheshire Cat costume from Alice in Wonderland for Halloween! Easy to put together!

Last Halloween, my girls did an Alice in Wonderland theme.  Bria came up with the ideas for this super-easy Cheshire Cat costume all on her own.  Not only is it easy, it came up pretty cheap, too.

The first order of business was to find something purple to wear.  Bria had absolutely no purple in her wardrobe, so we headed to Goodwill to find something.  Bria wasn't too pleased about that since she has some germophobia going on and used clothes aren't her idea of a good idea, but she relented.  There were plenty of purple outfits there, but she wasn't pleased with any of them.  Until I found this cute little dress hanging in a corner.  The only reason Bria consented to purchase it was because it had come from Forever 21, which is one of her favorite clothing stores.  Teenagers.

Cheshire Cat Costume

She wore it over black leggings and a long-sleeved black shirt, because where we live Halloween is usually cold.  Besides, we weren't exactly going for the sexy Cheshire Cat costume look, and it was a fairly short dress!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Road Trip Weekend

This photo was taken at a Wendy's in Green Bay before we headed back home after Stake Conference. Yes, Sophia is wearing her pajamas. She planned on napping in the car, and nap she did!
This weekend we headed down to Green Bay for our stake conference. While my attitude about the four-hour trek was not good when we first moved here (see this post), I have come to really love going down. We aren't always able to do it for various reasons, but when we can, it doesn't even feel like a sacrifice anymore. We get to be spiritually edified, we get to shop at places we don't have anywhere in the U.P., we get to eat places we don't have in the U.P., and we get to spend time with good friends. What could be better?

This time, we decided to go down a day earlier than usual to get in some really good shopping time in Appleton. I didn't have a chance to take the girls proper school shopping this year, and there were a few things that each of them still really needed. Bria was especially excited to get to shop in stores like Forever 21 and Aeropostale and Hollister. (Also, judging from Chloe's new hoodie in the photo and her Forever 21 shoes you can't see, she realized that these stores are pretty cool, too.)

The fall colors were out and gorgeous on our drive down. I didn't bring my big camera, or I would have stopped and taken more than a few drive-bys with my phone.

We stayed in a hotel the first night (totally free due to points earned on our NYC trip earlier this year), but before we checked in we ate at our favorite restaurant: Noodles and Company.

I love that they have good gluten-free options, and the girls love the awesome soda machine and the chopsticks. The Maestro just loves the food.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Halloween Mantel and Tulle Wreath

You guys, it's the middle of September and I have not yet decorated my house for fall! And I'm thinking I might just skip the fall decor all together and move straight to Halloween!  This weekend we are headed down to Stake Conference, and I am so excited to go to real craft stores that are not WalMart!

I thought I had shared all of my Halloween decor from last year, but I found a couple photos that I never posted, and since I am totally in the mood for Halloween decor, I'm posting them now.

This was my Halloween mantel from last year: