Thursday, August 20, 2015

My favorite planner: Erin Condren ( a review)

Photo by (C) 2015 P. Lynne Designs
Planner by (c) 2015 Erin Condren

Warning:  affiliate links ahead.

I am a planner.  I am not going to deny it.  I have used planners all my adult life. I started out with your generic planner, some off brand, and I was not happy.  I did not like the space, the hours did cover the times I need, it was just a bad planner.  My next planner was the granddaddy of planners, The Day Timer, and if you ever had one, you may or may not agree with me that I experienced the same thing as I did with the generic.   That does not mean that I  don’t like DT, it was not the planner for me.
Then I got the electronic phase.  You know the type, phone, the computer, and a tablet, all keeping track of my comings and goings, beeping and gawking at me of all the appointments I scheduled.  The problem with Electronic Planners ( EPs) is if you are a quiet person, the beeps would unnerve you, plus some are difficult to learn.  I still use them, but I have also decided to go back to a paper planner. Why?  Because for one, if there are  changes, I can easily erase it with a pencil.  Not so if you have something electronic.  Well you can, but it is not as easy.  Second, an electronic device can quit on you.  Last month, I was caught in a massive downpour.  It killed my smartphone, and because I was on the family plan, I had to ask permission to switch phones, even when I could change this month.
So instead of going back to Day Timers, I decided to try something new.  There are several planners out there, that fit the bill of “planners you can decorate”, and at first I did not want to go that route, but it sounded so fun, and since I am a “ Kidult”, an adult who still feels like a kid (you know who you are), why not.  I decided to do my research.   I came up with three I wanted to try: the Midori system, create my own, and Erin Condren.
First of all, the Midori system, created by a Japanese person is sort like a life mapping system.  You have a dashboard, and it mimics the bullet system.  You can put a calendar in the system, but the problem I found was how small it was.  I can pair down my handwriting, but I thought I can easily put it all in one planner, for all that I have to do.  This system is more for the person who makes lists.  You can easily make your own with paper, a stapler, and a cover made of leather, vinyl, or faux leather.
That leads to the next system, making my own.  I really tried with this back in January.  All you need is your computer, a printer, and a binding system, such as a coiling tool, a 3-ring binder, or getting a professional to bind it for you.   Yes, it is cheap, and if you are a crafter (which I am), this perfect.

What lead me to the Erin Condren(EC) system?

Like I explained before, I tried making my system, and although I was happy with what I accomplished, it did not fell right, because I was using printables that were created by someone else.  I am a believer in giving credit, and one day, I will make something that I proud enough to use and sell in my own shops.
Second of all, before I create my own line, I want to see what makes today’s planners tick, and here is what I love about the EC system:

1. Covers that can be personalized.  My current EC planner is dark pink/light pink paisley with a white background.  The lettering is says “personal and Business items 2015. Next year’s cover is dark pink/light pink paisley with just my initials.
2. Covers are interchangeable.  If I want to, I can change the cover of either one my planners, and take them off, without tearing them.  They are laminated, so it is easy to clean
3. Room to write.  The original EC planner allowed the user to place events in two places: the monthly or weekly view. I put the event in the monthly event, then a more detail in weekly, such as location and address.  This year, EC added a horizontal view, which is how I ordered my new planner.  The horizontal is supposed to be more roomier than the current vertical view.
4. A place to write your notes.  This was the main problem with the DT planner.  If I wanted to write a note to last all year, forget it. Nope, ain't going to happen.  I have some pages I can write on in my planner with EC.  The planner still does not have a lot of pages to write, if you like lines on the page, but you can always convert the blank pages to note pages, order a matching notebook (additional $35).
5. Accessories galore.  Not only you can have they personalize it with pictures (Additional $5), wording, and adding your favorite colors (did I ever mention that I am a pink girl), but you can add to your order stickers ($2-$14), a band to go around the planner ($7), but get a simple hair band to go round ($3 for 3 band at the drug store); clips to attach additional pages, and markers to write with.  If you want to go cheap, simply log on Etsy, and there are plenty of artists on the site, who make accessories for the EC planner.  Also use washi tape to decorate your note pages and have a theme week.
6. Layout.  In addition to the horizontal and vertical views, you can order either the 2015-16 calendar version (15 months) or just the 2016 calendar (12 months).

Well, I love it overall, and I am using it in conjunction with my electronic gadgets.  The reason why is with my electronic stuff, I can put it quickly if I do not have the planner with me, write it in later.  I already have dates to place in the new when it  arrives in a few days.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Celebrate the Summer with Kiwi Crate

(Warning :  Promotional links below) 
In need of family activities for summer? Why not, kick off a SummerDiscovery Series with Kiwi Crate! Kiwi Crate provide hands-on kids' projects designed to spark curiosity and new discoveries. Each Kiwi Crate comes with 2-3 projects - including all the materials, inspiration and instruction - around a different theme every month. For the month of June, July and August, Kiwi Crate will be sending fun summer inspired projects that will be sure to spark new adventures and discoveries!

But HURRY, Kiwi Crate is offering a limited time savings for the summer! For this week only, save 30% on your 1st month subscription plus free shipping with code SUMMERFUN.
Hands-on Activities from Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate was founded on the vision of inspiring kids’ creativity and its mission is to help equip the next generation of innovators with the tools for creative problem solving and exploration. Kiwi Crate offers high quality award-winning products across four brands for young makers ranging in age from 3 to 16+. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Simply Organized Crafts is saying Goodbye…..

(c)  Google Images

For now.   It is a funny thing about blogging.  You have to constantly watch to see if you are effective enough, but at the same time provide enough content to keep the masses coming.
I started this blog on Blogger 2 ½ years ago.  I needed to, because the subject of organizing and other household-related topics were taking over my P.Lynne Designs blog.  A friend of mine told me that I was doing too much on one blog, so she suggested that I split it up.  Thus Simply Organized Crafts was born.   One thing I have to note here is I never talk about crafting at all. That subject still belongs to P.Lynne Designs, and I could not have been any happier.

About a year ago, I started to play around the idea of moving this blog, because I do not have the rights to my blog.  I do and I don’t.  Because it is on Google’s site, they have the right to take it down any time they want to, no questions asked, and no warning, except a “Dear John” email stating the reasons why.   I can always plea for them to turn it back on, but why bother when you can close it for them by changing platforms.  They also have limitations to the themes.

I received an offer I could not refuse.  Blogelina is doing a #1000MomBlogMakeoversProject, and they are going to make over this blog, and hopefully tie it over to the sister blog blog.  Yes, I had already started the blog over Wordpress, hosted by Hostgator.  I had gotten so overwhelmed with other projects, including switching my P.Lynne Designs blog and Etsy shop, until I could not think straight.  So let me tell you more about this #1000MomBlogMakeovers Project.   

This is a Mother’s day present for any mom blogger out there.  You do not have to be a mom, but it is for any person who has the desire to start their own blog, o
r if you already have your own blog, to make it over.  This can also be given as a gift to any woman you know who has a desire to own their own blog.   The goal is to give or makeover 1000 blogs.  I am glad that I am one of them, because this blog needs it, and I do not have the time nor do I know how to give it the attention it needs to look great. There is a donation cost of a minimum of $10, and that donation goes towards, which help provide healing to children in need.  To me, it is a worthy cause, and you get a blog makeover by donating.

In the meantime, I will let you know when it is going to be down, if there is any downtime needed, and I hope that it will look great and I will continue to bring you great content, such as my organizationalseries.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring is in the air

(c) 2014 P.Lynne Designs

Tell me if you are sick of the follow (especially if you living in the Upper East Coast):
·         Snow
·         Freezing Rain
·         Pot holes
·         Road salt
·         Did I mention snow?
Now what do you think about the following:
·         Flowers
·         Warm temperatures
·         Walks in the park (or anywhere else for that matter)
·         Children playing
·         Did I mention flowers?
If you are like me, this winter was brutal, and in some cases, very brutal.   Boston is still digging out of the winter wonderland from the last few weeks.  As for Central Ohio (Columbus), I was mainly staying indoors, except if I REALLY needed to go someplace. 
Well now it is time (in my best Rafiki voice from The Lion King) to take off the winter coat, open up the rafters and let in the light (Mama Odie would be so proud), and let your home and garden shine (can’t you tell I love Disney). Here are some things you need to do in order to “spring” into action for Spring.  

·         Spring Cleaning:  I am working on a cleaning guide on what to do for each month and when to buy products by month to get the maximum savings for each (e.g.  Linens can be bought in January for maximum saving, etc…).  In the meantime, now is the time for you to come up with a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual list of things to do around the home.  Your list is going to be different than mine.  For instance, I like to really wash my dishes in the dishwasher once a week.  I have plenty of dishes to eat out of, and what I have to cook with, I daily get  sink full of water, and wash the pots and pans the old-fashion way (or as my dad says, “Bust some suds, and get it clean”). You look at loading the dishwasher an everyday task.
·         Time to get dirty…in your garden.  Pull up all the dead plants from the previous season, unless you have perennials and annuals.  Now is the time to renew you lawn treatments if you have a service, or if you do it yourself, start treatment for weed control.  Plan out what you are going to plant in the ground and in pots.  It is always a good idea to read on the plants and foods you are going to have in a garden.  I cannot plant a garden in the ground, but I am going to try again for a container garden this year.  I had one 8 years ago, and it was a disaster from the first plant.  Make sure you have a feed schedule, the right foods for your garden, know what you can plant and when for your area, and you will go far in your garden.  Look into getting involved with a community garden.  This is perfect for those who want to garden, but do not have the space for even a container gardening.  You can grow on your little plot of land (there may be a small fee involved), and perhaps share with others.
·         Food Glorious Food:  Now is also the time to invest in some springtime eats.  You can still fix your soups and stews, but they are less hearty than the winter variety.  During this time of the year, smoothies are making their spring debut, so start making some with fruits of the season.   It is time to put lemon on vegetables.  Green peas are a springtime vegetable. Ham lamb symbolizes spring.  Fish is eaten during the Lenten season, but not as much red meats. Go to a farmer’s market.   Visiting farmer’s markets not only help you get the freshest fruits and vegetables, but unlike the commercial grocery stores, you are helping out a farmer with his rent and feed their family.
·         On the Road…Now is also the time to give your car some attention as well, as well as plan out your vacation time if you have not done so already.   This is the time to give your car a good overhaul from the winter wear and tear, such as tires, fuel, engine, and braking system.  A good check-up will save you money and problems down the road in the later months, such as when you are on your way to work or your vacation spot, and you have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.  If you are planning a vacation, do it NOW for the best prices for Hotels, flights, even car rentals.   The last thing you need is to not have a place to stay while on vacation.  

These are a few of the things a person needs to get ready for spring.  I hope you use this time to explore the many options open to you as you prepare for the season.   Do not get stuck with having an annual routine all the time.  Be open to possibilities that may save you time and money.  Oh, and one little thing…Welcome to Spring!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frantic Friday: What is your organizing rant?

(c) 2014 P.Lynne Designs- Reality Just got real.
Today is a rant of sorts.  No, I am not going to start screaming to the highest heavens to God Almighty to snap His fingers and instantly turn my half-beaten, catch-all room called my potential scrapbook room, into something that would make Martha Steward stand up and leap for joy in pointe shoes. (Oh the horror and the visual.) Nope, I am not going to do that (besides that, I do not want to be banned from heaven, my room is not THAT serious).  What is serious is doing it myself, and having Martha do that death defying leap on pointe shoes.  (On second thought, Martha, don’t try it.)
OK, I am serious now. 
I want to know, if you are like me, you’d want to walk into your home and have it showroom ready to receive company, with your immaculate table that has room for 5 on a cozy day party, but able to seat 20 (with a 4 leaves in), children play peacefully, and the adults able to have a real adult conversation without screaming at a child.  Finally, at the end of the day, with everything picked up, the kids in bed, you are able to sit up to read in your 4-posted, mattress covered, fitted sheet, flat sheet, 1 blanket, 1 comforter, 1 coverlet, covered bed (fresh sheets please), and fall into a slumber that only Hollywood movies are made of.  Do you feel like that?    
Yeah, I thought so. Instead your home is more like an invasion of the worst kind.  Toys, shoes, last week’s mail not put away, having company is nil, and if you have company, you cleared just enough room for them to sit.   That table I mention before, it is covered from head to toe with everything from your office at work, office at home, a bill that needed to be paid 3 months ago, only for you to remember why you no longer can get a free audiobook each month, and a plate that needed to be washed 2 days ago.
My rant goes beyond that rant.  It may not be your home that is out of tune, it may be your time.  So much of your time, includes time wasters.  It is amazing how little we get done when we are waiting in line at the bank (both inside, drive-though, and the ATM), a fast food place, even at a place like Disney World.  Then there are the waiting rooms for the doctor (you, your child, your parent, or your spouse/partner), your car, or the vet (Fluffy, Fido, or a turtle or two).  Cars can also become waiting rooms, such as waiting on a child to get out of school, or some type of practice or rehearsal (dance, music, drama, or sports); also waiting on a non-driver or a person who is no longer able to drive for any reason.
Now I am not saying that waiting is a bad thing, for waiting can be a good thing as well.  (Do the following only if your budget allows it).  If you do it right, you can actually get some work done, if you are a SAHMOD (Stay at Home Mom or Dad), or if you choose to have a home business like me.
  • Invest in paying your bills online.  It is easy to set up with your bank or the company you are paying the bills to.  Just remember, any bill that you set up to automatically come out of your checking or saving account is already gone for the month, so adjust your spending that way.   In fact, now is the time for you to set up a budget table for the year.  You can also go online manually to pay your bills.  In other words, go paperless.  That company will send you a reminder that the bill is due through the email that you set up with them. 
  • Invest in a hot spot for your laptop or tablet.  You can use your smartphone or if you do not have one, or choose not to use it, buy a separate hub for the hot spot.  The carrier I use prefers that I have a separate account from my phone, but in a pinch, I can use my smart phone.
  • Carry a portable charger with you, especially if you are using your phone.  The more you use your phone without having it on a charger, the faster the battery goes down. 
  • Traveling is also wasted time.  Make sure on long trips that if you have a deadline during that time to bring your work, especially if you are not the one doing the driving.  If it something you need to do, while driving, place the device on hand-free mode or have a software like Dragon natural speak to text app on your device.  If all else fails, wait until you get to your destination before working.  Your life and others around you is worth more than your work.
  • Please do not text and drive.  In fact, some states and countries do not allow call and drive either (holding the phone in your hand).  Check with your state and country about laws on hands free devices for your phone.

Well, that is my Frantic Friday for this week.  Being able to keep everything organized from your home and your time is not going to be easy, but in time, it will become easier for you and your family, and you will have a routine that will makes Martha Steward leap for joy in pointe shoes.  (What is about me picturing Martha Steward in pointe shoes today, LOL?)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

QTT (Quick Tip Tuesday): Labeling

(c) WP
Throughout my 12days of organizing series, I have failed to mention something, and now is the time for me to say it now, before you get further in this process:
Don’t forget to label everything.

Here are a few examples:

  • When in your Home office, do not forget to label what your important papers are:  Home, car: Honda, 1001 finance, or (Red) Fido’s vet records.  All of these work for subject, numeral, or color reference on how to label file folders
  • In your kitchen pantry, label shelves for things such as can goods, dry goods; label canisters and containers, so you do not have to open and close to see what is in them.  It is also a good idea that if you live in a Kosher home, you label what you can use with which foods, since you cannot non-kosher items with kosher items, including appliances.
  • In the closet you can label where you place things in there.
  • In the craft room, you can label bins, shelves, machines (especially if you often go out to craft with other people), and so forth.

Now if you know where you put things all the time, you do not have to label, but it helps to keep a neat system.

Give this a try.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What is your Style?

(c) P.Lynne Designs
This month, in addition to organizing, I want to find out there different areas of your decorating life.  So I was reading one of my emails, when I came an email with this question.   It is something to think about.
Frankly to be honest, I never thought about my style before.  I guess you can look at it this way: what things warms the cockles of your heart, as old people used to say.  (By the way, what is a cockle?)
Anyway, back to styling…
Different styles…
I found out that I am more of a bohemian-type person, but not all the way.  If it is frilly, girly, with lots of lace, and French-type, I am your girl, at least in the fashion area.  I love dresses, and I have grown fond of wearing maxi skirts and dresses.  I am short (5’ or to be accurate, 4’ 11”), and they tell you when you are very petite not to wear maxi anything, but you know what?  I do not care.  No one accepted me as a model when I wanted to be one, so why should I follow the rules?  I will not make myself look bad.  I also love leggings, and I love wearing them under those maxi dresses, especially in the winter months. Ohio is no slouch for cold weather.  Layering is our friend.
So if you have found your style in the fashion world, there is no reason, in my opinion, which you cannot translate this to the interior decorating world.  Right?  Well, it depends.  You do not want every room in your home to be decorated that way.  In fact, I suggest that concentrate your style to say your bedroom, and have a complement style in the rest of the house, especially if you are living with a spouse.  You need to have something that they like as well in the home.  When you are single, it is a free for all, but even then, you do not want to decorate with something that you would be sick of 6 months down the road.  Even for the riches of people that is too much changing of the guard.  On the flip side, you do not want to decorate every 4 years either.  That is where finding the right balance on when and where to re-decorate your home.  Remodeling is different, and should be treated as such.
So, what if you want to decorate in Pantone color of the year?
Please slowly introduce any color that is the color of the year.  It may be part of your style, and then again, it may not.  In case you have been sleeping, the 2015 color of the year is Marsala.  It is in the brown family, but in my case, it could easily match up with a pink, which is my favorite color.  Now if you have not decorated for the year yet, do not drown yourself and your house in this color, if it does not go with your palette of choice.  Even if it does, trends come and go, but if you can, go for it.   Put in an accent piece here and there, but go easy on it.  After all, the new color for 2016 will be picked in October 2015.

So remember, choose your decorating style, choose it wisely, concentrate on one room, and you will do fine.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Quick tip: copy instructions from big box store

(c) P. Lynne Designs
From time to time, if I discover something that would be very useful, I will let you know.  
Today, I went shopping at the big box store.  You know who they are, and it is a time saver if you have 4 or more family members living with you, non-profit organizations, and businesses (I have a card for my business)
Anyway, I bought a box of appetizers, and of course when I opened the box, the meal was in a plastic bag.  The question I have for you is how do I remember how to cook the appetizers without having the box round? 
Simply, and all you need is a 4 or 3in 1 printer.  I have one, but if not, there is another way of doing this.  Just simply take the contents out of the box, go to your printer, and copy the instructions to print them out.  My printer acts as a standalone copier.  If you read my 12 days of Organization piece, you can store the instructions in your home management guide. 
Now when I want to cook the appetizers, I can just go to the guide, pull out the instructions and enjoy.
If you do not have the type of printer I mentioned, you can take the box to the library or a store like Staples, which is only $.10 apiece.  If you do not want to go through the trouble of printing, just hand write and copy the instructions.

Once you are done, place in your recycle bin, unless you buy that item all the time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top posts of 2014

(c) Ronald Carlson
I am tired.  That last series I just did was exhausting, but so worth it.  Thank you for reading it, and I hope that you take a look at each one, and at least start with a couple of days, and spread them throughout the year, if you need to.  I had three days of rest, including celebrating the year right, by listening to my pastor, and praying in 2015.  It felt wonderful, and I wrote down one thing that I wanted to get rid of, which was self-doubt.  On January 1st, I wrote down my one word, and that word was commitment.  That was something I was lacking in 2014.  I was not committed to my work as a freelance writer, freelance scrapbook and greeting card artist, and I was not 100% committed to the needs of my family and friends.  I doubted myself a lot in the past year and I felt like at times, I was headed in the wrong direction.  I felt like there were things missing in my life.
OK, I am sure you did not pop on here to hear my confessions, so I am going to give you what I promised, my top posts of 2014.
The series: (best posts)
It is no doubt that anytime I do a series, I get repeat customers (readers).  I do these series to not only help you, but I am also reminding myself what I need to do in my life in preparation of something big that is coming into my life, adoption.  Both the S.M.A.R.T system series (in 2013 actually-oops) and the recent 12 days of organization series received high marks, and my hope is that you review both of them to at least get an idea on how to organized and set goals.  My plan is to plop them into a mini e-book, so you do not have to click on all 5 or 12 posts.
I have had my share of coupon posts on this blog.  Although they received great views when I post them, most of the time, they are from other sites who have posted them first.  I tried a coupon subscription site, but I could never get the user name nor the password straight, and I failed.  I am not going to totally give up on posting coupons on this blog, but I am going to post coupons that are relevant to this blog.
I am iffy on the reviews.  I love doing them, and I do well with these posts, but at times I feel like I have to hunt down a product to review, and sponsors are not necessarily knocking down my door for me to review their products.  I have read several articles on how to do an effective review and how to get them to beat down my door.  I will continue to do them, but my rules are now the following:
·         They have to be family-friendly.  Even though I am not a mom, yet, I am an aunt, which counts for something.  The product has to be so that I can give it to my sister or brother to try it on their family, if need be, or I can try it on the niece and nephews myself.
·         No adult-themed products.  Most of my readers are moms, and I want them to be able to use the product on their family, and I write a family-oriented site.
·         I will write either “affiliated links ahead” or “this is a sponsored post” before the actual post.
·         I when do a review, I do not care if I have seen or used the product before or not, I will give a fair and impartial review.  I cannot be bought, so if a marketer or creator is reading this article, please note that if your product is crap to me, I am going to tell you.  Likewise, if I love it, I am going to tell you that too.  Please do not pay me under to the table to say good things about your product, if it does not deserve it.  Again, I will not be bought.   
·         I will always tell you if I am not affiliated with a company, and I will explain myself if I am.  Most of my reviews are non-affiliated reviews.
Decorating and organizing
When I started this blog in April 2012, it stated with the idea that I was only going to cover the art of decorating without using Longaberger products, a company where I am an Independent Home consultant with.  I have a dedicated blog for those products.  I also realized that I steered away from decorating (and organizing) in 2014.  That is both a good and a bad thing for me.  Good in that I was willing to try something new, but at the same time, I lost some readers.  So I am slowly returning back to that core, since readers are craving to be organized and declutter their life.
Technically driven (just a spot)
I also started with technology for beginners.  Now before you say “Oh, oh”, hear me out.  Yes, I am getting back to it, but, it will sort of be a separate partnership between this and my other blogs, My Ambiance Life and P.Lynne Designs, that you can only get through from those sites. 
Finally, there will be a change in format (platform)
Yes, I am changing platforms.  I just do not know when, but I will warn you.   I already have it set up, hosted by Hostgator, I just do not know how the format will be, and that was part of the lack of commitment I had in 2014.  I thought that I would put it in the form of having you visit a room, such as the laundry room would be an area on how to clean and care for your clothes and well as talking about fashion trends.  The kitchen area would dedicated to all things food, including organizing the pantry to creating culinary delights (AKA recipes) where you control what is put into the dish, and so forth.  But the more I thought about this transformation from Blogger to WordPress, the more I became overwhelmed with the room format idea.  I have seen WordPress driven sites, where simplicity was best.  Most of these simplistic sites made me feel at home, and gave me the sense of going home at the end of the day, where is it warm and toasty.  So I am going to give you warm and toasty, not chaos.

Well that is it and to my final salute to 2014 on this blog.  May 2015 bring you joy, peace, a happy, healthy family, and a clean house.  (Or at least try)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014