Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Ultimate Party Planning Printable

I cannot even begin to explain how exciting I am to share this FREE printable with you! As I said in my last post, I have probably Google searched "party planning printable" at least one hundred times in my lifetime (Or, in Google's lifetime, since I'm older than Google. You know, REALLY OLD). Each time I found one, it was always missing something. Mainly, I felt it was missing room to write notes, sketch ideas, and brain dump everything in one place. NO MORE! I present to you, the Ultimate Birthday Party Planning printable.

I'm not even going to clog this post with any other useless words. I'm not even going to list any recent Google searches! I am just presenting to you, your free party planning printable. Save it, and never search for another party planning printable again!

Download your free printable HERE.

Happy party planning!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Family Binder Section Two: Food

Happy Monday! It is supposed to rain here toward the end of the week, and I am looking forward to that. But I am not complaining about the nice weather we have been having, since it allowed me to do this over the weekend:

I enjoy gardening, and I absolutely love seeing my kids get involved in growing their food. I also love seeing them dirty and being happy helpers!

Recent Google searches:

"party planning printable" - STAY TUNED! I am done googling this! I am creating my own party planning printable. An ultimate guide. Check in with my on Facebook and Instagram to let me know what you want to see in this ultimate planning tool!

"Office Depot See Jane Work" - where I picked up these ADORABLE binder clips!

"best shows to watch on Netflix" (research for a friend)
"Market Tavern" (making reservations for my boss at a local restaurant)
"repurpose my wallet" I still don't have an answer for this, in case you have any suggestions...
"how to make a scented candle not smell" (Research for someone on Instagram who didn't like the smell of her candle!)

What did you research today?

Last week, we talked here about setting up the Family Binder, and what I place in Section One (those items are available in my Etsy shop).

Today we will talk about Section Two. Section Two is "Food".

At the end of the Master Calendar this week, we clean out our pantry, freezer, fridge, and create an inventory. I hang this on the inside of the pantry cupboard for easy reference. This allows me to quickly scan and see what I need to pick up at the store. It also allows me to easily see what ingredients I have on hand when I do my weekly menu planning.

In order to create accurate inventories, pull everything out of your pantry. Discard expired items, and set aside to donate to a local food bank anything you realistically won't use. Sure, that coupon for $1 off canned brussel sprouts seemed like a good idea at the time! But chances are, you won't be eating them anytime soon. Because...ew. Once you have a pile of what you will keep, clean your cupboards. Wipe down the doors, replace shelf liners if you choose. There are some really cool ideas on Pinterest for lining your entire inside of the pantry with geometric contact paper. Get creative, and have fun!

As you place the items back in the pantry in an organized fashion, make note of what you have and how many on your Inventory.

Repeat for the freezer and fridge. This can take all week and a few weekends, so don't feel pressured to do it all in one day!

Check the General Checklist and see if there is anything missing that you want to add to your pantry. This will be the start of your grocery list. When you get home from your shopping trip, don't forget to add the new items to your inventories!

Next, sit down and think about the meals you have on a regular basis. Our kids and husbands all have their favorite meals that seem to resurface each week. Write them down on the Favorite Meals Lists.

Each week, either on Sunday during nap time, or Wednesday night (since that is when we receive our weekly grocery ads) after the kids are in bed, my husband and I look at our week. We decide what our activities are going to be, and what meals we will make each night. We don't plan on a time-intensive prepping meal if we are having a busy night. We plan quick meals on the nights we have a lot going on, and food that takes more time to prepare gets bumped to nights that don't have any activities.

My favorite Weekly Menu Plan is the one that lists "Week 1", "Week 2", etc., because I can see what meals we have had each week that month. I try to only repeat one or two meals in a month so that we have a good variety. Of course some months, we eat the SAME THING EVERY WEEK, because the kids won't put anything in their mouth but macaroni and cheese and corn. Weirdos.

There are two other Weekly Menu Planners, feel free to use the one that suits your lifestyle best!

Once you have your menu planned, and your inventories completed, you can write your final grocery list! As I have mentioned in a previous post, I will write the names of the stores where I shop - it is the same four stores each week. I write my grocery list with each item listed under the store I will purchase it.

Finally, the best way to decide where I will purchase each item, is to reference my Price Comparison worksheet. When I first set this up, I did my normal weekly shopping - AT ONE STORE. I did this each week, for four weeks, at each store where I normally shop - Target, Walmart, Costco, and a local market.

Then, I took my receipts, and entered them into this Price Comparison worksheet. The math speaks for itself, and I now know where to buy most of my main items for the best prices. I was surprised to find out that while Costco is a good deal, it wasn't the best deal every time, largely when it comes to meat, other stores had better prices in my area. The local market is the best price for all of my produce, especially if I watch the weekly ads.

Another thing you could include in this section are Recipes. I have cookbooks, a separate binder, Google, and Pinterest, so I don't include recipes in this portion of my Family Binder.

I do keep a clear pocket file in this section for coupons. I keep a list of the coupons, and their expiration dates on the outside of the pocket file.

That is the entire process and use of the Food Section in the Family Binder. I have the Food Section of the Family Binder all ready to go for you in the Etsy shop.

Feel free to ask any questions, and have fun getting your food life organized!

Friday, January 17, 2014

How To: To Do Lists

Happy Friday my Googling Goddesses! I hope you all had a lovely week. The weather here is insanely, and unseasonably warm, so I will be in the garden this weekend. I cannot wait. My kitchen is mostly cleared out (I have been ahead of schedule on my Master Calendar), so I will have lots of time to spend outside, soaking up some Vitamin D with my family. I also have a lunch date/shopping trip with my 11 year old son, a newborn photography session for a friend, and some new gluten free recipes to make. What are you doing this weekend?

I am extra excited to share my Google searches with you today. I made a discovery. This is similar to when I discovered my son's (and my own) source of eczema. It was gluten! After much Googling and researching, I put us both on a gluten free diet. Our eczema is gone! Additionally, he lost 10 pounds (he wasn't overweight to begin with, but he had some little love handles...those are gone now, a cute little six pack in it's place), and I lost 15 pounds, without even trying (sadly, no six pack for me)!

Anyway, today's searches resulted in similar findings. My boss has been dealing with eczema, and had a severe reaction to a natural lotion she was using to try to combat the eczema. She had tried eliminating gluten from her diet, which helped a little (gluten does cause inflammation), but it didn't disappear like mine did. So, I did some research. I think she was tired of hearing me say, "I will Google that!" This specific salve she had been using was giving her trouble, so I started by googling those ingredients

Google searches:

"avocado oil allergy" (I found that avocado oil has latex in it. I thought latex was man made!)
"shea butter allergy" (READ THIS! If you or someone you know, suffers from eczema, "seasonal allergies", or have a latex allergy, you need to read this article. Also note that a latex allergy builds up over time, so this could occur in the future, and you should read this article anyway.)
"latex labeling requirements for cosmetic products" (there are none)
"latex allergy testing"

My boss is going to eliminate all known sources of latex from her diet (it is in many foods) and cosmetics, and see if this gets ride of her eczema and seasonal allergies. I will let you know how it goes.

"Charles Schulz middle name" (it's Monroe)
"Zach Galifianakis period meme" (hilarious)
"mint arrow blog" (great source of sale alerts)
"what meat is used in pepperoni" (great question from my son)
"Robert Downey, Jr. eye roll meme" (it was a meme type week)
"choose your own adventure books" (do you remember those?)

WHEW! I learned a lot this week. What did you research?

I hear a lot of questions about To Do lists, and recycling the information on these lists from week to week. It doesn't seem like a good use of your time to continue to write down the same information each week, not to mention the paper waste it creates. I'm not a "green" dictator, but I do try to be conscientious if possible. Here is how I handle my To Do lists.

Master Calendar
*Daily Zones. You can read about Daily Zones here. Each day on the calendar lists the rooms that are to be addressed, and the header of the month lists what work needs to be accomplished in each zone.

*The other items listed are related to seasonal and maintenance projects, such as the best produce to buy in January, when I wash my sheets, etc.

Using ^this system eliminates a lot of recurring list making. I refer to the Master Calendar each week, and cross things off as I go.

Menu Planning
*Regularly Occurring Meals. If you haven't made this list, you should. We are creatures of habit, and therefore, we often go back to the same recipes each week. Yes, we pin a lot of great stuff on Pinterest, and sometimes we might venture out and try one of those recipes. But for the most part, we stick to what we know. Make a list to choose from. Eventually, if you stick with me, I will have a printable for this.

*Weekly Menu. Each week I look at our schedule, my fridge and pantry, and Master Meals list, and plan what we will eat each night. It doesn't always work out that way. THAT'S OKAY. I used to feel like a failure when I would plan my meals and then everything went haywire with our schedule, or I didn't feel like eating spaghetti on Wednesday. This is just going to be a general guideline. This week, the menu looks like this. I keep this list in my planner, which I take with me in my purse. I also write it on a pad on the fridge, so that people at home can also reference it. Use what you have, check the local ads, clip your coupons, etc., and design your weekly menu based on those things. Use this website and enter what you have in your fridge for recipes!

*Grocery List. I either use four post-it notes, or divide a paper or post-it into four sections. I label each section with the stores I go to - it is the same four store each week. I write what I need on the post-its in the section for the store where that item is purchased.

General To Do
This list is for general To Do items, like doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, phone calls that need to be made, etc. Things that do not occur on a regular basis.

This is the weekly calendar items. Interviews, vet appointment, karate practice, etc. Again, things that do not occur on a regular basis. Once the "To Dos" have been completed (i.e., a doctor appointment scheduled), that info goes on the weekly calendar.

That's it! Here is a summary of the lists I keep each week:

1. Master Calendar
2. Weekly Menu
3. Grocery List
4. To Do
5. Planner

Check out my Instagram to see these steps in action each week. I usually share photos of my planner and lists on Instagram.

Happy list making!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Back In The Saddle

I haven't blogged in eight weeks. I have an excuse! For the last four weeks, anyway. My daughter had a little head bonk that took over our lives. She is okay, thank goodness. But that was a very scary time, and we are still watching her carefully to make sure she does not re-injure her head. As the song goes, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" Between that, and the holidays (which were changed up due to the injury), my time and motivation to write has been non-existent. Here we are, though, back in the saddle.

Of course, I have still been Googling up a storm! Here are some recent searches:

"top 25 free Christmas apps"
"gluten free french toast casserole"
"jeff probst net worth"
"Jack London Square"
"Fenton's" (this is a fabulous creamery in Oakland, CA if you are ever in the area)
"teach your kids to have work ethic"
"The Classy Cubicle" (incredible blog with fashionable, professional outfits)
"bread machine reviews"
"Sam Mills gluten free macaroni and cheese" (sooooooooo yummy)
"Black Halo" (I got a stunning dress for a wedding we will be attending in March)
"lexile schedule" (finding appropriate reading level books for my son was more difficult than I thought it would be)
"Nymbler" (best baby naming website EVER)

What have you been researching?

If you are following along on your 2014 Master Calendar, you won't be surprised to hear that I planted carrots, celery, and potatoes in my garden last week. I just purchased a spare set of bed linens, and I am pricing a few small appliances. I already purchased the bread maker, and I have my heart set on an espresso machine. I think I have settled on this one. This Christmas money isn't going to spend itself!

I am still focusing on my Daily Zones. The holiday decor has already been decluttered and put away until next year. That always feels so cleansing. Now onto the new year!

I have been working each night on my computer to organize my digital photos. I started by going to the folder where I keep my photos. I right click in the folder, select "Sort By", then choose "Date". I then create a new folder for each month (i.e., January 2013, February 2013, etc.), and move the photos accordingly. In order to see the date the photo was taken, go to your "Details" view. Then you can click on the "Date Photo Taken" bar and it will sort by date!

What to do now that this is complete? You can order prints and scrapbook them. Have you seen the great packages from Project Life? I plan to end up on the show Hoarders one day thanks to that system. Currently, I create photo books for each year. I go through the Blurb website. They can also pull your photos from Facebook and Instagram. For your favorite photos, have canvas wraps made, get prints done on metal or wood. There are so many creative ways to display photos in your home. Keep them updated!

Finally, let's start setting up a Family Binder. Things you will need:

1. Regular sized binder (holding 8.5"x11" paper). Target has some really cute binders, and they are fairly inexpensive. This one doesn't have pockets on the inside of the binder. But I do have pocket inserts, so this was okay with me. If you need the pockets, make sure the one you pick up has them.

2. Dividers. You can make these from file folders (Target also has cute file folders!), cardstock, or traditional dividers. I have traditional dividers right now. They aren't the most beautiful, but they work. I can make it pretty later. Right now, I need the organization more than the beauty.

3. Something for labeling the dividers. Sharpie pen, label maker, etc.

Here are the current sections I have in my binder:

Medical Info
Contact Info

You may need different sections. Other ideas might include: fitness, business, hobbies, etc.

In the calendar section, of course I keep my 2014 Master Calendar. I also keep a Dates to Remember page, where I list all family/friend birthdays/anniversaries, a monthly calendar to reference when I don't have my regular planner in front of me, a Notes page, and a To Do page. You can purchase the entire Calendar section from my Etsy shop. These are instant downloads, available for your immediate use! No waiting to get organized!

If you really want to be on top of things, fill out your Dates To Remember page, take it to the card store, and pick cards for each event. Then go home, fill out the card, address and stamp the envelope, and then paperclip it to the month it needs to be mailed. When that month starts, you have your card all ready to go!

Additionally, for all you Planner Addicts, I have a 2014 monthly/weekly calendar for your A5 planners. Enjoy!

I will continue to go through the rest of the Family Binder, and by the end of the year, we will have a completely organized binder.

Happy New Year, friends, Happy Googling, and Happy Organizing!