Organize | Simplify

Creating a Routine That Works for You

By on January 8, 2018

routine, routines

A routine is helpful to get things done without having to spend time overthinking it. There are several routines that I complete throughout the day to help me manage my time in getting things done. It all comes down to delegating your time for the things that you need to accomplish each day. How can you create a routine that works for you?

routine, routines

1 | Calendar/Planner

Not only do I schedule my appointments in my planner, but I also add items from my to-do list and daily routines, as well. I check my planner first thing in the morning, so I know what each day will bring, check things off as I complete them and recheck it in the evening, so I know what is going on the next day. The key is not to overschedule each day, so I have the time I need to rest and relax, as well.

Take away – Use your planner or calendar as a tool to schedule your day including the items that are a part of your daily routine.

routine, routines

2 | Meals

When we started meal planning for our family, we always knew what we were having for dinner each night, and our grocery list was created using those plans. Now that it’s just my husband and me, we still plan out our meals. It’s a routine that continues to work for us.

Meal prepping each week is also beneficial. We don’t meal prep as frequently now since it’s just the two of us. However, when our kiddos were home, it helped to get dinner on the table if we meal prepped for the week. It was especially helpful when they had after-school activities.

Take away – Meal plan and prep as part of a weekly routine that will keep you from wondering what you’re going to have for dinner each night.

routine, routines

3 | Cleaning and Laundry

Instead of saving the cleaning that I need to do until the weekend, I clean a little each day. It takes me 20-30 minutes depending on the task and leaves my weekends free for other things. For example, one day I clean the bathrooms, and on a different day, I dust. I will do a load of wash on several days, as well. I wrote about making laundry seem like less of a chore in another post. I’ve figured out a routine that worked for me without dedicating an entire day to cleaning and laundry.

Take away – Make it part of your routine to do a cleaning task or laundry each day throughout the week. It will keep your weekends free for other activities.

routine, routines

4 | Morning Routine

My morning routine may vary if I have an early morning appointment or meeting. Otherwise, I spend time in the morning checking my planner, reading my email, completing my daily devotions, and exercising. After that, I work through my daily routine that includes any appointments that I may have, tasks that I need to do, and any work that I need to do.

On a side note, I don’t respond to my emails immediately when I first read them. Emails remain in my inbox until I take care of them. I have a set time during the day to respond to emails as part of my daily routine.

Take away – Your morning routine will help to set the tone for the remainder of the day. Complete items that will help you to be productive as you start your day.

routine, routines

5 | Bedtime Routine

To begin my bedtime routine, I start at least thirty minutes for I’m going to climb into bed. Each evening includes self-care, getting my diffuser ready to go, and preparing for the next day. I also give myself about thirty minutes to read at bedtime. Bedtime is a relaxing ritual for me, and I will go to bed earlier if I need to if it means completing everything. My usual time to turn in is usually 9:00 p.m. each night.

During the evening, before I turn in, I also take the time to journal. It is something that I started last year, and I’ve enjoyed doing it so much that I’m doing it again this year.

Take away – Take the time to complete a bedtime routine. Incorporate things that will help you to relax before you go to sleep for the night.

routine, routines

Life is busy, and it can be challenging to try to get everything done that you need to do. A routine will help you to get things done without wondering when you are going to find the time to do them throughout the day.

Until next time,

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Organize | Simplify

Looking Back at the Most Popular Posts of 2017

By on January 4, 2018

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It’s interesting to look back and see what ranked as the most popular posts of the year determined by the number of reads. I listed the top ten of 2017 and six runners-up. If you missed any of the posts listed, take some time to check them out.

Top 10 Posts for 2017

10 | How to Get Started on Your Organizing Journey and a Free Printable

If you are creating goals for the new year, make some of those organizing goals, as well. It will help you to simplify the world around you and help with the overwhelm that the clutter may be giving you.

09 | How to Keep a Memory Journal 

I kept a memory journal throughout 2017, and I’m planning to do the same in 2018. It’s neat to look back and see what you did each day.

08 | How to Put Together a Work Tote That Works for You

A work tote carries all of the daily necessities that you need while you’re away from home. It’s important to make sure that you have all that you need without overloading yourself.

07 | Get Things Done When You Feel Like Procrastinating

This post is speaking to me right now as we begin our planned winter project. Manageable steps are essential, so you’re not overwhelmed.

06 | Tie: How to Use Binders to Stay Organized and Creating a Recipe Binder and a Free Printable

Binders are useful whether in the home office or the kitchen. I use binders more than I use files to keep things organized.

05 | How to Efficiently Change Out Your Seasonal Clothing

Changing out your seasonal clothing doesn’t have to be a chore. I used to store my off-season clothes in bins and haul them down to the storage room every six months. There are more efficient ways to access your clothing that doesn’t involve such an arduous process.

04 | Determine What Organizing Project to Do First

Organizing involves creating a system that works for you and sticking to it. When you have multiple organizing projects that need doing, it’s important to work on the areas that frustrate you the most.

03 | Using a Home Management Binder and a Free Printable 

I would be lost without my home management binder as it houses all of the vital information I need at my fingertips. Many of you were interested in incorporating one in your daily life, as well.

02 | Nesting at Home During the Autumn Season

Autumn is my favorite season, and I carry the nesting ideas into winter. Hygge is another way that I get through the long, winter season.

01 | Introducing the Home Management Binder

This post won by a landslide. I’m looking forward to reworking the Home Management Binder this year and sharing it with all of you. Is there anything that you would like to see included?

blog posts, popular posts

Runner Up Posts for 2017

How to Keep Your Email Inbox Organized

My goal is to only keep the emails in my inbox that need immediate attention. With that said, there are several ways that you can keep your email box organized.

How to Keep Your Vehicle Organized

Keeping the areas of your vehicle organized is important so you know where things are located and you don’t have to search for them.

How to Remain Clutter-Free

Clutter seems to take over from time to time. Everything needs a permanent home and it’s important to take the time to take care of things each day.

Creating a Cleaning Schedule That Works for You

I created a cleaning schedule for 2017 and plan to carry it into 2018. It has made a huge difference dividing my cleaning jobs into daily tasks instead of trying to complete everything in one day.

How to Run a Successful Garage Sale

We held a garage sale last summer and learned a lot from our experience. I am planning on having another one this summer to help declutter our home after our adult children have moved out.

How Meal Planning and Prep Can be Helpful and a Free Printable

It is very helpful to plan out and prep your meals so you aren’t wondering what’s for dinner. It’s my hubby and me at the table and we often include leftovers as part of our menu plan.

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Thank you for all the reading love in 2017. I’m looking forward to what 2018 holds for Living a Simplified Life. See you on the blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Until next time,

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What I Was Reading in 2017

By on January 1, 2018

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Happy New Year! The new year gives us the opportunity to set new goals to achieve for ourselves. One of the goals that I am looking to accomplish is to continue reading as much as time allows. To make time to read, I take a book with me whenever I have an appointment. I also go to bed thirty minutes earlier so I can indulge in reading a book.

During the summer of 2017, I rediscovered my love of reading. Previously, I didn’t take much time to read for enjoyment. My favorite genre is historical fiction. I also like to read many other types of fiction and nonfiction books and still enjoy the classics.

To find new things to read, I signed up for BookBub. I talked about BookBub in a previous post, as well. BookBub is free, and when you sign up, you signify what genres you are interested. BookBub then sends you a daily email of books that are free or reduced in price for your iPad, Kindle, Android, and Nook.

I also took the time to follow and listen to some bookish podcasts with recommendations of what to read as well as following several Instagram accounts that share what they’re reading. If you’re interested in the book related Instagram accounts that I am following, visit me @mittengirlreads. It is a separate account from the @livingasimplifiedlife Instagram account and filled with only book-filled accounts.

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Although I love handling and reading a physical book, I find myself reading more on my e-reader. It’s easier to carry with me when I’m going to appointments or traveling. I’m also able to get many ebooks that have reduced prices from the BookBub recommendations. My virtual bookshelf now has over one-hundred books that I will be able to choose from in 2018.

Audiobooks are also a good choice while you’re working out, cleaning, or driving. I will often listen to an audiobook while I’m running errands or on a long car trip. For Christmas, I received a pair of wireless headphones (thanks, K) to listen to books while I’m traveling with my family.

I’m also keeping a book journal in 2018. Many people keep track of their reads on Goodreads. I do this as well, but I wanted a journal where I could record my thoughts about each book, as well.

There were so many great books that I read in 2017. I thought that I would share a few of the books that I enjoyed.

The Paris Wife

This book by Paula McClain is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson. It gives us a peek at their married life and their time in Paris with all of the other writers during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Caroline: Little House Revisited

Sarah Miller wrote a first-person fictional account of Caroline Ingalls and their trip from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to Kansas territory. It gives us a glimpse into the hardships that the family endured as well as Caroline’s feelings and experiences while traveling in a covered wagon to an unknown place with her young family.

The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me

I first saw Paul Fronczak on an episode of 20/20 on ABC.  He was left in a stroller and was thought to be the baby that had been taken from a Chicago hospital in 1964. The kidnapped baby’s family took him home believing that he was their long-lost son. Keep in mind that this was long before DNA testing. After doing DNA testing when it came about, he finds out that he is not the kidnapped child. The book is about his journey to find out who he is. A fascinating true story that still has information to be discovered.

Before We Were Yours

Lisa Wingate writes a fictional account of real-life events about children that were kidnapped by Georgia Tann from their low-income families and sold to wealthy families who wanted a child. It tugs at your heart-strings as the children are old enough to remember the family that they that were taken from but soon realize that they will never see them again.

Currently Reading – Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Caroline Fraser gives us a complete history of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life including many details that Wilder did not include in her children books. Not only do you get the history of the Ingalls family, but you also get a historical account of the time that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. I read Donald Zochert’s Laura when I was a teenager and have been fascinated by the history behind the books that I read as a child. Since then, I have also read Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography and also have Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder on my to-be-read shelf.

book, books, ebook, ebooks, read, reading

I’ve discovered that reading is something that I purposely need to make time for or it doesn’t happen. Throughout 2018, I will share some more of the books that I am reading. How do you make the time to read? What books are you reading or looking forward to reading in 2018?

Until next time,

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How to Help Your Adult Child Move

By on December 7, 2017

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I’m not sure when my children became adults because I certainly don’t feel any older. My youngest son recently started a new job and moved away from home for the first time. As hard as it may be to see your adult child leave the nest, it’s also thrilling to see them spread their wings as they embark on their own. My son had a limited amount of time to move and was moving several hours away, so we had to organize it, so we didn’t forget anything.

There are several things that you can do to help your adult child, so the move goes smoothly for them.

moving, moving adult child

Make Lists of What You Need

To help my adult child move, we made lists of items that he needed to move, things that he needed to purchase for his new place, and the groceries he needed to get him started. Those lists were a lifesaver when it came to moving him so we could remember what we needed.

My son was somewhat skeptical of all of my list making when we first started the moving process. However, he was all about it when we were in the midst of moving him. I was instructed to leave the packing list on our kitchen island until everything was on the truck and the other lists I made were referred to when we needed them.

moving, moving adult child

Let Your Adult Child Take the Lead

Your child will certainly want to be independent and make decisions on their own. My son did ask for my opinion…a lot. When it came to boxing up items, my son packed his clothes and the personal things from his room. I packed up the kitchen and bathroom items that we purchased and labeled the boxes.

After he moved, he had very distinct ideas of how he wanted things to be in his new place. I made suggestions on a few things but followed his direction when it came to putting items away.

My son gave me control in setting up his kitchen and bathroom. We bounced ideas off of each other during the process in what would work best for him. We set up his bed, but I didn’t help to unpack the remainder of his bedroom or his office space. It gave him the independence to make decisions about those areas on his own.

moving, moving adult child

Helping your adult child move can be a tough process and not just the emotional tug at your heartstrings. It’s a matter of doing what you can to help them while allowing them to make their own decisions. Moving my son went well because we organized the move ahead of time and made decisions together while giving him his independence.

Until next time,

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Holidays | Simplify

Simplifying the Holidays So You Can Enjoy Them

By on November 16, 2017

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The holidays can bring about anxiety and stress when we’re trying to do it all. I previously wrote about planning for Thanksgiving here and Christmas here and holiday organizing here. Planning and organization are just some of the ways to start simplifying your holidays.

Planning Ahead

Take the time to schedule your activities, menus, and decor, so you know what to expect. Make sure that you don’t plan more than you can physically do. We all have grand ideas of what we would like the holidays to look like, but we also need to be realistic.

I do not go out shopping on Black Friday. Instead, I spend the day decorating for Christmas except for our tree that we purchase and trim the week before Christmas. I also spend the weekend after Thanksgiving writing out our Christmas cards. It has become a yearly tradition and helps me to prepare for the upcoming holiday.

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Getting Organized

It’s helpful to get through the season and holiday if you take the time to get organized ahead of time. Decorate the spaces that you use the most during the holidays. Also, take some time to make sure that the most used areas in your home are in order so that you can find things you need quickly and easily. The most obvious areas are your kitchen spaces, living area, and bathrooms. If you are having overnight guests, you will want to make sure that you organize the sleeping arrangements to accommodate them.

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Take Time to Relax

During all of the hustle and bustle of the season, take the time to relax. Relaxing could include sitting, and reading your favorite book or listening to music or a podcast. Whatever you do to relax, make a habit of it especially during the busy holiday season.

One thing that I enjoy doing is making an evening to go out and take in the Christmas lights while listening to our favorite Christmas songs. It’s relaxing to spend time with my hubby while we look at all of the light displays.

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Don’t Try to Do It All

Decking the halls for a holiday can take up quite a bit of time. Simplify your decor and don’t feel that you have to decorate everything. Choose a favorite holiday tradition to do before the holiday and save the others for the weekend or vacation. Making elaborate plans can lead to disappointment if you aren’t able to accomplish them.

One year, while I was teaching outside of the home, that we did not get our Christmas cookies baked before Christmas Day. Instead of worrying about it, we made it a fun afternoon activity with our kiddos while we were on vacation.

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You don’t have to do everything. Attempting to do it all can add unnecessary stress and anxiety during the season instead of allowing you to enjoy it. By simplifying your expectations for your holiday and doing only what you can do, you can enjoy the holidays and the season ahead.

Until next time,

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Gratitude and Keeping a Journal

By on November 9, 2017

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Thanksgiving is coming up quickly; unless you’re a Canadian friend and celebrated last month. It’s always a good time to take a moment and reflect on what makes us grateful. We can often overlook what we have gratitude for when things are busy or aren’t going well.

Keeping a Journal

One way that I reflect on my gratitude is to journal each day. I purchased a pre-dated planner that I liked at the beginning of the year and write in it each day. My entries can include daily activities, my thoughts or feelings, something that I want to make a note of, or what I’m grateful for each day. Ideas for what to journal about are endless.

Journaling is part of my daily routine. I make time for it each evening. It doesn’t take me long to write about my day, and I enjoy looking back at what I’ve written. I also include pictures for some of my entries. I purchased a Polaroid Zip®, and the photo paper has an adhesive back. The photos add visual interest to my journal.

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Take a moment and reflect on what you are grateful for by starting a journal. Ideas for what to journal about are endless.

Until next time,

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Life Happens Whether You Plan On It or Not

By on November 6, 2017

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My kiddos are all older, and one-by-one have been leaving the nest. A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son called and told me that his new job was going to be taking him four and a half hours from home. I knew that this was a possibility but, it still didn’t prepare me for the news. I started thinking about what we needed to do to make this move happen.

Immediately, we started planning and prepping for his move. We spent time right away finding a place for him to live. Thankfully, we found something within just a few days. He has been spending the weekends packing up his room. We wrote out a list of things that he needs and even bought items for his new place. The next month is going to be crazy. However, we also want to make sure that he can settle in his new home without any issues. He’ll be starting his new job just a few days after he moves. I’m thankful that things are falling into place for him.

My husband and I have often talked about moving to an area that’s within an hour or two of where my son will be living. Relocating has been a conversation that has taken place over the last few years. It’s not something that we decided on when my son told me that he was moving. I have to admit though; I would be happy to live closer to him rather than further away.

Life happens whether you plan on it or not. How can you manage things when life doesn’t go according to plan?

life, unexpected

1 | Breathe

Sometimes, it feels like life can knock the breath out of you. It’s important to take time to breathe and take care of one thing at a time, so you’re not overwhelmed.

life, unexpected

2 | Relax

With all that is going on, take the time to relax and take care of yourself. Indulge in a favorite pastime, read a book, listen to music or a podcast, or exercise to relieve the stress. A nap isn’t a terrible way to relax either. It helps you to recharge so you can take on whatever life is throwing at you.

life, unexpected

3 | Take things as they come

We often want to take care of everything at once, so it isn’t hanging over us. Instead, take each thing, one at a time, so that you can give it your best.

4 | Do what you can

We can’t do everything. Do what you can and don’t feel guilty if you don’t accomplish everything on your to-do list. I often take one day during the week to catch up on things. It makes me feel better when I devote the time to do that.

5 | Look for the good

There is always good in your life no matter how crazy things can be. Look for the good and take the time to savor and be grateful for it.

life, unexpected

Whether you plan on it or not, life happens. You can manage things when life doesn’t go according to the plans you have made. Take a breath, relax, and take things as they come. You’ll get there.

Until next time,

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Holidays | Organize | Printables

Holiday Organization and a Free Printable

By on October 16, 2017

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If I’ve calculated correctly, there are just 37 days until Thanksgiving and 70 days until Christmas. Not that I’m counting. Cue, laughter. Autumn is the time of year when I start to think about what I need to do for the upcoming holidays. This way, I can plan and take care of items when I have the time over the next couple of months.

It’s helpful to organize things ahead of time, for the holidays, so things go more smoothly. In a previous post, I shared a Thanksgiving Planner Bundle that will help you plan for it. However, what else can you do to prepare for the upcoming holidays, especially if you’re hosting?

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1 | Organize Your Space

When I say organize your space, I don’t mean a complete overhaul. Leading up to the holiday season is not the time to reorganize your entire home. Organizing your space should include those areas that you are going to be using the most while celebrating the holidays. For example, when we entertain, we use our living room, kitchen, and bathrooms. Those are the spaces that I would focus on to make sure that they are in workable order. If you have anyone staying with you, your guest room will also be on your list. If you’re concerned about the appearance of other areas of your home, just shut the door. Don’t add extra stress by trying to do it all beforehand.

2 | Organize Your Tasks

Come up with a schedule that works for you and divide up the tasks that you need to complete before the holidays. Shopping for gifts and sending out cards are things you can finish weeks ahead of the holiday. However, you can plan out meals ahead of time, but they need to be prepared in the days leading up to and on the day of the holiday. Make a list of what you need to get done and create a schedule to get everything accomplished.

Free Printable

To help you start making a list of your holiday tasks so you can add them to your calendar, I am sharing a To-Do list printable. Click on the image of the To-Do List to join and get access to your free printable. You can print off a separate page for Thanksgiving if you’re in the United States, and Christmas.

holidays, home, organization, home organization, holiday organization

**Look for a Christmas Planner next month to help you start on your Christmas planning.**

It’s helpful to organize things ahead of time for the holidays. Planning and taking care of items when you have the time over the next couple of months helps the holiday to be less stressful. Do what you can and don’t worry about doing it all.

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Until next time,

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Plan | Printables

Five Steps to Plan Your Day and a Free Printable

By on October 9, 2017

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I plan out some of my days and others seem to plan themselves. When my days are scheduled, things seem to fall into place. When they plan themselves, I need a little extra help. Planning my day is a routine that helps me to feel productive and organized even when my day doesn’t feel that way.

There are five things that I do to plan out my day. Doing these things each day helps my day to run more smoothly.

plan, organize, daily planner

1 | Check Your Calendar

One of the first things that I do in the morning is to check my calendar. Doing this helps to give me a big picture of what my day entails.  My calendar is the tool that I use to keep track of everything that goes on during my day. Whether it’s an appointment, a phone call that I need to make, an email that I need to send, or a package that’s arriving; it goes on my calendar. I also choose my top priorities for the day. These items are non-negotiable, and I make sure to complete them before I turn in for the night. Typically, these are the items that I do first each day.

Takeaway – To help organize your day, choose a calendar that works for you whether it’s paper or digital. Knowing what to expect each day helps you to get your day off to a smooth start.

plan, organize, daily planner

2 | Check Your Email

Although I don’t spend much time on my phone first thing in the morning, I do take the time to check my email. Checking it allows me to see if there is anything immediate that needs my attention so I can add it to my calendar. Again, this gives me an overview of what I need to do each day.

Takeaway – Take the time to check your email each morning and add the action items to your calendar. If an email needs immediate attention, add it to your top priorities list.

plan, organize, daily planner

3 | Plan Out Your Day

After checking my calendar and my email each morning, I spend some time planning out my day. If I have an appointment in the morning, I schedule work items and things that I need to accomplish at home for the afternoon. Planning out my day usually takes about five minutes and gives me a big picture of how my day is going to flow.

Takeaway – Plan out your day, so you know when things are going to take place. Write down what your schedule is for the day and choose your top priorities.

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4 | Create a Nighttime Routine

At the end of each day, I check my calendar and my email one last time to see what I need to take care of the next day. It’s easy to talk yourself into doing one more thing, but it helps me to relax when I know what tomorrow is going to bring. I also take the time to determine what I’m going to wear in the morning. It’s one less step in the morning and gets the next day off to a better start. One last thing that I do before I turn in for the night is to take the time to journal my day. It helps me to put the day into perspective as I recall the events that have taken place.

Takeaway – Creating a nighttime routine allows you to look back on your day and prepare for the next one.

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5 | Take the Time to Relax

It’s important to schedule the time to relax. One of my favorite pastimes is reading, and I often do these each evening before going to sleep. Another hobby that I have started doing to relax is painting in watercolor. Each of these things is relaxing for me, and I look forward to doing one or both of them at the end of a long day.

Takeaway – Indulge in a hobby that you enjoy and make the time to relax each day.

Free Daily Planner Printable

To help you start planning your day, I am sharing a Daily Planner printable. Click on the image of the Daily Planner to join and get access to your free printable.

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Take the time to plan out each day. Planning your day out ahead of time will help you to feel productive and organized.

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Until next time,

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Holidays | Plan

Thanksgiving Traditions and Planning for the Holiday

By on October 2, 2017

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It’s officially October which means that before we know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us. Preparing for the holidays takes time, and planning will help you to be sure that everything is just the way that you want it to be. Today, I am sharing Thanksgiving traditions we enjoy as well as a free Thanksgiving Planner Bundle.

Thanksgiving Traditions

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Food – When you think of Thanksgiving, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie spring to mind. When my children were younger, we would also make cutout cookies. My boys loved frosting and decorating them with as many sprinkles as each cookie would hold. It was a tradition that I carried on from my own childhood and one that I hope to continue.

thanksgiving, traditions, thanksgiving traditions

Family – After dinner and before dessert, we spend time talking around the table. In order to add to the conversation, there is a conversation starter type question inside of the name cards at each spot. Our family is small enough that we can have each person at the table answer each question. It’s interesting to hear each person’s answers.


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Preparing for a holiday takes time and planning. Plan out your holiday and create your own traditions that you will remember for years to come.

Until next time,

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