Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Planner Love 2015

Few people really truly understand my unhealthy perfectly healthy obsession with planners. Calendars and planners have come a long way since I was in high school. There are so many pretty, functional, and sturdy options available today. Did I mention they were pretty? So pretty! You know how I love pretty things. If it is pink or gold or has stripes or can be customized I am sold!

My obsession, however is perfectly healthy and you should be obsessed too! Planners keep me organized and hold me accountable. If I do not write it down it does not get done. I use them for everything from meal planning to keeping track of my workouts, things to do at home, meetings at work and activities for the kids. I have one that stays at work, two that stay at home, and one that never leaves my side. And I might have one or two more that were just too pretty to leave on the shelf at the store. I'll figure out something to put in them! 

My all time favorite planner is the Erin Condren Life Planner. I have ordered one of these the last few years because I love the layout, the durability (it gets tossed in my purse or work bag every day and lugged around everywhere), the endless possibilities to customize it, and of course how pretty it is! As a special treat, if you use my referral link to create an account you'll receive a $10 coupon towards your first purchase!* This is my "master" planner in the sense that it holds everything I need to do, at work and at home.

I am also in love with the Sugar Paper line at Target. I use the 8.5" x 11" size (weekly glance) at work as my call log. I like to keep track of phone calls, both incoming and outgoing, as well as messages left (noting the time) and a brief description of the conversation. I use the 6" x 4" (monthly and weekly glance) at home to keep track of scheduling blog posts, big ideas, and contacts. Finally, I have another 6" x 4" monthly glance with notes pages that  I use to keep track of our finances. I list all of our bills and the amounts due on the calendar pages and use the notes pages as our checkbook registrar. The pocket sheet is great for holding onto receipts in case I need to make a return or exchange. 

Last year I also used the Emily Ley Simplified Planner for a few months. Her planners are absolutely adorable but I bought it in one of my impulsive shopaholic moments and never really used it (because I already had my fave Erin Condren Life Planner). I ended up passing it on to my mom. 

I love, love, love my life planner mostly because it has the weekly view but I'm finding that my daily to do list is growing exponentially and it is getting hard to coordinate my schedule and the kid's schedules. So, most recently I splurged and purchased the Whitney English Day Designer. It is a daily glance that provides space (by the hour!) for meetings, appointments and activities, a large to-do list, menu planning, budgeting, and a daily gratitude space. And, it is pretty. Of course, I ordered the black and white striped one! I see a future post comparing Whitney and Erin! 

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There is no better way to kick off 2015 then with a new planner to keep you organized and on track towards meeting all of your goals in the New Year! Do you have a favorite? I'd love for you to share yours in the comments below!

*Disclaimer: This post was not endorsed, nor was compensation provided, by any of these companies. All opinions are my own. For every Erin Condren purchase made using my referral link I will receive a $10 credit to use towards a future purchase of my own. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Morning + Gift Tracker 2014 {Free Printable!}

Hi friends! Just popping in real quick. I mentioned in a previous post that I am so excited for the new year and my new focus with Keep Calm + Mommy On.

Christmas morning can be a little chaotic (but fun!) with little ones tearing into present after present. Wrapping paper is strewn about, plastic packaging is hemorrhaging from under couches and the coffee table, small parts and pieces belonging to toys end up rolling across the floor, and other gifts recently opened litter the room. At least, that's how I remember it growing up!  

Now that I have little ones of my own I've tried to slow down the pace a litttle. For us, Christmas morning starts in the master bedroom where Santa leaves everyone's stockings! This gives Sean and I few extra minutes to wake up and get rolling. While the kiddos open up their small gifts in the stockings we start a pot of coffee and hot cocoa, turn on the Christmas tree lights downstairs, get cameras ready and brush the morning breath away.

Sean and I do not go overboard with presents, but we can't say the same for our friends and family! Addison and Mason will have lots of thoughtful presents to open again this year. They are so blessed to be so loved by so many. We take our time opening gifts, allowing the kids to stop and play with anything they want. We take breaks for breakfast, snacks and family snuggles. We watch movies, drink hot chocolate and sneak bites of candy all day! It truly is an all day event...and we never get out of our PJs!

To keep track of who is getting what and from whom I make a gift tracking list each year. As the kiddos open their gifts either Sean or I jot down who it is from along with a quick description. We keep track of our gifts too and use our initials to remember who opened what. Later, we use this list to check off when we have written a thank you note. Finally, I try to send a picture of Addie or Mason with their gift in use, even if it just through a text message or post on IG. With so many family members far away it is nice for them to see the kids excited about their new toy, outfit, book or game! You can print a free copy of this by clicking here! Print as many sheets as you need. 

Wishing each and everyone of you a healthy and happy holiday season! See you in 2015!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So Much to be Thankful For

Oh hey there, friends! How ya been? Just popping in to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! I am back from a much needed blogcation the last several weeks. I needed a little time to focus on family, finances, faith, fitness and self. The time away has also given me a chance to finally sit down and put pen to paper all of the crazy ideas and thoughts I've had about the direction I want this little bloggity blog to go! I am really excited and can't wait to share with you all the things that have been brewing around here! I have so much to be thankful for this year, especially my family. My hubby and two little loves are my whole world. . . 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lyric Wall DIY


One of the first things I ever pinned on Pinterest was a picture of a blogger's kitchen wall with the the words from her wedding song written in script in white permanent marker. At the time, Sean and I were still living in our teeny tiny rental apartment in the city but I knew that someday I wanted to do something similar in my own home. Fast forward a few years, and several thousand pins later, and I finally got around to creating my own lyric wall. The original pin has since been removed and despite my efforts I could not find the original post anywhere in the blogosphere. So to the amazingly creative lady out there with the words from her wedding song on her kitchen wall, thank you for this great idea! 

Sean and I had sat on this project for months, toiling with exactly how to do it. Even though I remembered the blog post as having used a white permanent marker we decided we should use something paint based, in case I screwed up and we wanted to paint over it. I think part of me also hesitated for so long because I didn't trust my own penmanship. . .I knew in my mind what I wanted it to look like but was afraid this would turn out to be one of those epic Pinterest fails!

Finally, one afternoon while Mason was napping and Sean and Addie were at the movies for a daddy/daughter date I decided the heck with it, and I just did it! What I stressed over for months ended up taking less than three hours and turned out even better than I expected.

Armed with a level, a pencil, and a step stool I did some quick math and then lined the wall. To help make sure all of my letters were the same size I did a straight line every 3 inches and a dashed line every 1.5. . .just like in elementary school! I also taped the lyrics up with painters tape to make sure I didn't miss a line. After a few practice strokes on a poster board I bit the bullet and started writing on my wall. There was no turning back! 

I used this calligraphy paint marker in white (I  went through two of them) and the words to one of our favorite songs, "God Gave Me You," by Dave Barnes. You probably know the more popular version recorded by Blake Shelton. Its on the first wall you would see walking in through the front door.

To make sure the words ran from side to side I just wrapped the text around if I didn't finish a word on one line. I had to cut one of the chorus lines out to make it fit but it was a repeat so it wasn't a big deal.

When I finished writing I simply erased my lines (this made the walls look a little greasy so Sean later took a magic eraser to the walls and it cleaned it up perfectly). Initially, I thought I might try and go over the words to make the white stand out more but after letting it sit for a few days the lighter more faded look really grew on us, more subtle and class, less graffiti-like. 

This is such a quick and easy way to spruce up a wall. Nursery rhymes or lullabies in the baby's room, wedding vows in the master bedroom, recipes on the kitchen wall...the options are endless! Don't like your own handwriting, invite a friend over to do the honors! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gallery Wall Tips + Tricks

We are constantly working on making our house a home. During the last few weeks of summer I tackled a few more of our bare walls including this one in our downstairs hallway. I've gotten so many great compliments from recent visitors (thanks, friends!) so I thought I'd share my 5 tips and tricks for creating your perfect gallery wall. 

1. Pick an accent piece. For this particular wall I chose an ampersand symbol highlighted by the white frame. I recommend centering your accent piece and then building around it with additional frames or decor.

2. Measure and lay everything out ahead of time. Use a large table or even the floor. Mark the height and width and then lay your frames down. This gives you a chance to move things around, swap frames out, and play around with the layout before committing to the wall.

3. Invest in tools. The essentials include a level, stud finder, hammer, nails and command strips. I prefer the command strips (unless it is something really heavy) because I can always take it down and change my look without having to patch a hole. You can find all of these things at your local hardware store. Don't just eyeball it. Take your time to measure out where it is all going and make sure you are hanging it straight.

 4. Don't be afraid to mix and match frames. I love a sleek, clean and matchy look like everyone else but gallery walls are meant to be fun and unique. Mix up colors, textures, and use a combination of pictures/prints and other decor (like letters, I  l o v e  l e t t e r s!).

5. Finally, leave room to add more down the road. With my layout there is still plenty of room to add frames up top or below. By staggering where the frames are placed I can easily add one or multiple frames without it appearing unfinished. 

I am really looking forward to updating the pictures and prints each holiday season. I'm already on the hunt for some fall themed printables! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

100 Days Strong

This past Memorial Day weekend I had this crazy idea to give up shopping for 100 days (remember this post?). There were a few motivating factors behind my decision. First, I am a bit of a shopaholic and was wasting way too much money on things I didn't really need. Second, I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by the amount of clutter around our house. And finally, I was a horrible role model to my daughter who watches my every move and was under the impression that money grew on trees and that she could have anything she wanted every time we went to a store. I needed to make a change.

Motivational Print from The Motivated Type on Etsy
The rules were simple. My game, my rules hah! I could buy necessities (gas, groceries and anything we truly needed...i.e. Mason grew out of his clothes and needed a few shirts for the summer). I could not shop for anything for the house or my wardrobe, or anything else that I didn't need. Since the purpose was to save money I could use any existing gift cards or store credit, I could accept gifts from people, and I could buy things for others. We had a lot of summer birthday parties to go to! 

I checked in a few times (here and here) during the summer. As the weeks went by it became easier and easier to resist the urge to pick up all of the cute things I saw at stores. I spent a few weeks going through the entire house--every room, closet, drawer, nook and cranny sorting and cleaning and getting rid of anything we didn't need or use. It was so refreshing and I am loving the clean slate!

Kate Spade Clean Slate Idiom Bangle
I never would have been able to do this if I didn't have a few friends doing it with me (Thanks, Melissa and Karen!) and holding me accountable. It also helped that I allowed myself to use gift cards! A few treats or necessities here and there made all the difference! A summer dress from the Loft with a gift card for my birthday last March, a new backpack and lunch box for Addie using store credit at Pottery Barn Kids, and some crafts and house decor from Michael's after a return. 

Mackenzie Navy Peacock Backpack & Lunchbox Collection
So what's next? I'm giving up chocolate for 100 days. Yeah right! I don't have that much discipline! I am thankful for this experience and it really put a lot of things into perspective. I want to keep this momentum going, continue to save money, and teach my children the importance of budgeting and finances and living with only the things we truly need. I've run out of gift cards so I need to be realistic and now that I will, ultimately, need to shop for some things. But for the next 100 days, and beyond, I really want to stick to a few rules:

1. Only buy things you need, not want.

2. If you can make it for less, don't buy it. 

3. Budget, save and shop around for the best deal.

4. Do not buy one in every color.

5. Do not overspend on gifts.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School Command Center

Kids in our area go back to school the week before Labor day. Addie starts her second year of preschool mid-September. The laid back, long weekend days of my summer are starting to wind down. Ever since kindergarten my favorite time of year has always been "back to school." There is a reason I am in the field of education and to this day I still anticipate and love opening day! 

As my own kids get older and more involved with school, ballet, sports and their busy social calendars it is becoming harder and harder to keep us all organized. During the school year Sean and I juggle our late nights at work, sitters and daycare, activities with the kids and our own responsibilities at home through emails, text messages, scribbled notes left for each other in the kitchen and in passing at 4:30 in the morning. Bills, party invitations, preschool newsletters and other important information end up buried in a pile of paperwork in the corner of our kitchen counter. This school year I want to create a command center to corral and keep track of our comings and goings. The bare wall next to our garage door (here) is the perfect spot. I have an idea of what I want to create in my head using these pictures as inspiration. 

I love the framed look, it is so clean and polished looking. I could see framing a weekly or monthly calendar, meal plan, or cute printables to motivate us on our way out the door each day.

Dry erase boards make it easy to add, delete or move around events on the calendar. My only fear is one of the little ones getting a hold of the marker and adding his or her own to do list on our paint!

If my husband would let me get away with it I'd have a chalkboard in every room of the house. The bags with kids' names on it is a great idea to help keep items organized. 

I already have these two hanging file holders and since I can't shop until September I'm leaning towards a similar style. I have tons of empty pictures frames in storage that I can pull out to complete the look. I also really love the basket as a catch all for bigger things that need to go out the door with us in the morning. 

I see these rustic looking baskets at stores like Marshalls and HomeGoods all the time. And I absolutely love, love, love the map bulletin board! 

This style combines it all: chalkboard, dry erase, frames, for a fun but completely organized look. 

How do you keep your paperwork and busy schedules organized? Snap a picture and post it to Instagram with the hashtag "keepcalmandgetorganized2014." Be sure to tag me (@keepcalmmommyon) for a chance to win a $25 Staples gift card! Winner will be picked, at random, on Friday, August 15, 2014. Good luck!