lists · packing · Planning · travel · vacation

Another Travel Dilemma…Eating Gluten Free

My excitement is building and I cannot wait to be on vacation. This past week has been a worrisome work week and my annual reset trip is just what I need to escape and come back on the other side with a renewed sense of strength and dignity to face the challenges ahead.

Traveling comes with worries because I have to avoid gluten. It makes me sick. Celiac Disease is not something that everyone understands and this post is not aimed to explain or complain about the challenges I face every day to maintain health. It is simply to share ways to plan options for healthy dining and ensure my traveling companions aren’t worried for me either.

Step One-while I count down days

Before I leave town I am making sure that I am taking care of myself all week. This includes:

  • Clean eating at home
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours each night
  • Taking supplements like probiitics, multivitamins, and immunity boosters like vitamin C
  • Diffusing essential oils at home. Thieves blend is in my diffuser while I sip coffee
  • Relaxation via detox and destress baths, reading, and quiet time whenever possible

Step 2-Know when not to worry

Once I am on the cruise it is easy. Norwegian, like most cruise lines these days ask for dietary restrictions and truly make an effort to provide safe eating options while on board. And for that I am very grateful. I feel quite special when the chefs and dining staff go out of their way to guide me on food selections and specially prepare foods for me when needed…even in the main buffet lines. As long as I seek the help offered I will successfully avoid gluten and fully enjoy my holiday focusing on friends, fun, and non-stop live music. One guideline I follow, no eating in ports. So eat a good solid breakfast and take a prepackaged snack from my go bag.

Step 3-Make a List

New Orleans is a whole different dilemma. Where do I find safe, inexpensive options so that my three days in an amazing city allows me to enjoy the sights and sounds? Research. Lists. Have a plan.

I relied on my friend, Google, and review sites like Yelp, Four Square, and Find Me Gluten Free. And will continue to research. Honestly, I am not the only person in my motley crew of rock boat family who are looking for healthy options. Well, they should be. So I will make sure we have options for vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and diabetic diets. And Coffee! I want to enjoy gumbo, crab cakes and king cakes and anything else that is part of the experience. I cannot eat beignets but my research uncovered a gluten free recipe so if I felt like I missed out, when I get home I will make some.

My list is ready and on paper and in my phone. Why both places? A phone battery can die. A phone can get lost or stolen just like the paper. I am that person who plans for all kinds of outcomes. Crazy? Maybe. But my friends and family, the motley crew, are used to it and sometimes glad because I tend to be the go to person on what to do and where to eat. It is a burden and a blessing. I love them and cannot wait to be spending vacation in a city that is alive with music and festivals.

Step 4-Pack options

As I finish packing, I also bring along in my suitcase and carryon safe snacks like LARA bars, cashews, pecans, Dang chips, and dried fruit. These items are small and can easily slip into my Vera Bradley hipster for times when I need something and in a time crunch, my friends can grab something from a place not gluten friendly and not worry about me. I can always drink coffee and chicory or some famous New Orleans drink and good company. I have a plan for everything.

Any recommendations on where we should eat? What we should see? I have 3 days and I am sure we can squeeze in more options into the plan. Comment below.

Planning

My Dilemma: What To Pack?

Have you ever just thrown the suitcase on the bed, started grabbing random things and stuffing them in the night before you leave? I have. Those were times when I got where I was going and forgot the toothbrush, the important pair of shoes, shampoo, or the one article of clothing needed for that theme night. And these mishaps changed my mood. Instantly. I wasted time in search of what I forgot in towns I didn’t know. I had to pay gift shop prices which translated to less money for fun and food. And, well, made me cranky. No one wants to be around “cranky” on vacation. Do you? So my dilemma for this trip is avoiding packing pitfalls and making sure I have everything for two trips, business and pleasure, so I am sure to leave my cranky self at home.

I am sipping coffee and pondering what I need to pack. I will be in travel mode for 14 days. Being away from home for two weeks makes me think I need to pack the whole house. Umm. Really? No. But it can seem that way and become overwhelming. I don’t think packing is fun. It is painful to me.
I will endure a little pain for my favorite annual vacation, The Rock Boat. I need to be prepared for my heaven on earth. This floating music festival will be sailing out of New Orleans at the start of Carnival/Mardi Gras season. I get to spend time with hundreds of friends I have made over the past 18 years. And this year is going to be fun because we are headed to New Orleans early. So more to pack and more to plan. Knowing that I have events, theme nights, and a business trip on the flip side means a lot to consider for my luggage. Some people go all out on the theme nights with cruise wear by day and costumes by night. I used to. I decided a few years back to be selective and simplify. So glad I did. Makes packing even more of a struggle and I have never been the girl who will leave a music set in the middle of fun to go change into a costume. Many years the costume stayed in the luggage. Why pack it? One year I wore a pirate costume that was fun and comfortable. Another year I dressed up in a formal dress and heels and wanted to trade the darn thing with pajamas within thirty minutes. That was one of my last minute packing trips and I didn’t pack an optional pajama or extra clothes. Woops! So I sucked it up and was cranky. And..I digress. Back to the plan.

I looked at my weekly spread this morning to think about my day. And I realized I was supposed to start my packing list. Again, woops! This morning I reset and here I go into planning mode while grabbing coffee cup number two.

When? Where? What?

I have to ask myself these three questions. Because 14 days is a long time and having theme nights, meetings, three flight days and events along the way can seem daunting to a planner. So I mapped it out. I will continue filling in the details a little each day. I need to look at the weather forecast. So many climates to consider!

Study before the big list is final…

There are things I don’t need to pack. Every cruise cabin and hotel room include amenities. So I will double check the sites of my hotels to hopefully leave home the blow dryer, the travel iron, and anything else I can scratch off the list.

What do I think I need?

Well I certainly do not need the kitchen sink! No matter what I think. But the list I have so far is long and I am sure there may be more items. And some things may get eliminated because as I really begin to pack I ask myself the following questions:

  • Will I use this hat/shoes/spray/essential oil (insert any item) every day or more than one time?
  • Do I really need this?
  • Is there anything I have already packed that works instead?
  • Can I wait to buy this in Florida for my business trip? Can it be expensed? Can I order it on Amazon to be delivered to the hotel?
  • Can I send this to the ship laundry and use again later in the trip? (I get free laundry service as a frequent cruiser…maximize the benefits!!!)

The last thing I need is 25 t-shirts for the 10 days of casual wear. And if I don’t have room for small essentials like toothpaste or deodorant that is a problem! I just invited cranky me on vacation.

As you noticed on my weekly plan, I am packing at the end of the week. I will tell you how it went and show you my lists and my bags to see where I land with these plans.

Do you have any sage advice? What am I forgetting? What should I not bother packing? Do you have a packing list you use? Comment below on anything that helps you (and me) get ready for travel.

Family · Goals · Planning · Reflection · Vision

Managing Mondays with Weekend Wisdom

“Six o’clock already…I was just in the middle of a dream.” Do you remember that song, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles? What about, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters? Why do we let Mondays or whatever day is the start of our week influence our moods such?

There are some Mondays when the unthinkable happens and it just seems that Murphy’s Law presides. The alarm clock didn’t go off or I slept through it. I am out of coffee! (Gasp!) The kids refuse to get up. My dog (any of the three) took off with one of the shoes I planned to wear hoping that keeps me from leaving. It is pouring rain. I can’t find my lunch box or my work I.D. Some Mondays just seem like the worst day ever before I step foot out of the house. Tell me I am not alone.

It always seems that Manic Mondays turns into a snowball of a week that continues to get bigger the next day and the next. On a week like that getting to Friday seems to be impossible and all I want to do is crawl under the covers each day in defeat asking if there is a “do over” button somewhere.

Here I am. Another Monday. It has a way of sneaking up on me. Today is not rainy. It is not manic. I am sipping coffee and I am enjoying my quiet time. I am working from home. There is no school because it is MLK Day. But not every Monday is so simple. I decided last year to do my best to take back Mondays from Murphy’s Law. To do that I had to find a way to manage the day. And step one for every Monday starts with some pre work over the weekend.

Weekend Wisdom

I am like many folks and I have certain tasks I plan to do every weekend. I run errands, launder clothes and complete other household chores. I used to feel accomplished but I also became annoyed because it didn’t feel like we were enjoying weekends as a family or with any rest.

My kids are older now and can share these responsibilities. Communicating expectations to everyone is important. So Sunday is my planning day. I plan menus, I set a cleaning schedule, and I batch cook ahead a few meals. I post these lists on the refrigerator and everyone knows what is for dinner and when I would like things to get done. We share the load. With work, school, activities and busy schedules deciding who does what when is something we each own our personal share. I also note important days to remember and post it on the fridge. Then, we can enjoy time together and I nag less. Who wants a nagging mom?!?

Here are this week’s beauties. (As you can see, I don’t make these pretty every time. I should use a pen that erases and I am sure a sticker or two with a splash of washi would be good. Depends on my day and how I am feeling. The kids don’t seem to notice or care.)

Visualize the Week Ahead

Sundays relax me. I love cooking and being in my kitchen. It gives me time ro meditate and start thinking about my upcoming week. I also love the thirty minutes or so I set aside on Sunday to create a visual for my week. Goals and lists. Planner crafting! These tools help me focus. Having a visual plan helps me Manage Mondays. I have more time to sip my coffee when I set my mind at ease knowing what to expect. I spend more time meditating which reduces my stress at the beginning of each day. Next Monday, I will share how I make my weekly visual, another secret weapon in my arsenal of managing Mondays.

Do you have secret weapons to help you plan and organize your days and weeks? Do you menu plan or have a cleaning list every week? How do you Manage Mondays? Please share below in the comments.

Books · Goals · Planning · Vision

Reading Inspires and Relaxes

Are you like me? Do you have books stored in your Kindle? Is there a “to be read” list in your GoodReads account? Are hard covers stacked on a bookshelf? Are random paperbacks lying around the house or stored in boxes in a closet that still need to be unpacked? Are these books something you intend to read and never seem to get to? I have a plan for 2018 that is going to change that.

It all starts with…Why?

Why am I not reading? Why do I want to read? Why do I have books and lists about books everywhere?

As I sip coffee and get honest with myself I know why. I have been allowing myself to waste time on other activities. And one of the biggest time wasters is the ever present screen: the laptop, the television, the mobile device. I get quick reading fixes on social media and justify my lack of time to read a book by hopping in to read articles or blogs or tweets as sufficient. Reality check! Before social media I would have opened a book and read a few pages.

Coming home and turning on the television or sitting down with my teenage daughter to mirror her zombie-like stare at the big screen watching whatever she has on is almost a Pavlovian response at the end of a busy work day. And with streaming devices everywhere in my house picking something to watch that is new or an old favorite takes no time at all. Let’s face it, there is a certain instant escapism in these actions. It wasn’t so long ago that books were my friends and the characters and settings took me away from day-to-day life. How did that happen? I tried telling myself that life got in the way. Liar! I got in my way by choices I made. It was easier to watch endless hours of screens and hop from article to blog, from tweet to movie or series binge. I used to binge read books: two or three a week!

Now let’s move to How…

Sipping from my second (or maybe third) cup of coffee, I have to ask myself, the girl who always has a list or a plan in mind, how will I ever change? I love movies and T.V. I have YouTube channels that I subscribe to. My mobile devices are full of apps that quickly take me to some mindless place in cyberspace to waste time. Well, I have a planner for that and a place of accountability.

Late last year I joined the Facebook group of one of my favorite authors, Brenda Novak. This amazing community is filled with avid readers, wanna be avid readers, and lurkers. I was admittedly a lurker. I follow a lot of authors on social media and have for years. I have big dreams of getting published (that’s a story for another day) so having them in my social feeds is inspiring and educational. Brenda’s community is always buzzing because she is a genius. She hosts games, chats, a book club, and she sponsors a Book Buddy program. I decided in December that I should hop off the lurker shelf and join in the fun. I signed up to participate in the book club, checked in to accept the book reading challenge, and asked to be matched to a Book Buddy. Instant Accountability!

Are you overwhelmed by everything I agreed to do? I was too. Not for long. Brenda certainly knew someone like me might be. She offers a monthly subscription box program for readers. You can also opt in from month to month based on availability and order in advance. I am so glad I jumped in to try the January box. Her boxes always include a couple of box and some extras. January’s box was sheer perfection for this reader because it included this planner and basic supplies.

Washi tape! A pencil holder! Pencils! I was in heaven. And two very creative reminders…

She also sent these cute coasters. Readers love to enjoy beverages while they read. My cup looks great on it. Doesn’t it?

My crafty brain is already thinking of how I might repurpose a couple of them another way.

In the planner she has important events and activities already pre-printed. She included places to take notes, make lists, set goals, plan, and all the white space is just waiting for sticker, washi tape, and pen colors. As a girl who loves planners and likes to focus certain planners by purpose or life areas you know I am in love!

What next?

I am going to get the pens, washi, and stickers out today and personalize as I plan all my 2018 aspirations to be an avid reader. I want to turn off the screens more as I make choices to discover new writers, make new friends, see what inspires other readers, dust off the kindle and the shelves, unpack the boxes and ultimately….in December…see what I accomplished on this journey.

I need recommendations to fill up these pages and so I can exceed my goal of 50 books in 2018. Please post your suggestions in the comments below. Are you in a book club? Share what you and your club are reading right now. What is your reading goal? Are you part of a particular author’s group? Which one?

Crafting · Family · Planning · Vision

Crafty Corner

I learned in the past few years that I love to craft. So as I sip coffee this rainy morning (so rare in Phoenix), I look at my Vision Board. Three areas tie to this:

  • Relationships
  • Creativity
  • Home

I want to encourage myself and others. I want to be frugal, and I want to get crafty.
Over the holidays I made holiday décor for my home, holiday cards and gift tags. It was fun and I enlisted help from my girls that turned into fun together time watching Hallmark Channel.

in 2018 I am determined to do more and share here inspiration, craft fails and wins, and ways to faithfully and frugally plan this fun into daily life.

Here are some things I made in December.

I need to be better organized and devise a plan. I have unfinished projects as well.

Guess I need to start making lists.

January is my organizing, goal setting, and reset my focus month. So today, I am starting here:

Each week I will come back into this virtual crafty corner and hope that I inspire your creativity in posts from my Crafty Corner. You know I will be sipping coffee then too.

Family

I Have a Planner for That – Part Three

As a working single mom I have a busy life. My morning time is cherished quiet time to think, read, pray, dream, and plan. As I organize my thoughts, each sip of coffee helps me clear the cobwebs. Slowly, I begin to visualize the day ahead. It is my process. Mental preparation is great, but this lover of to-do lists and goals and busy schedules needs some fun and creative structure. So, what is my plan to manage all of this in 2018? I have a Planner for all of it, and then some!

Choosing a Planner

In early Novemver 2017, in one of my meditations with coffee, I was planning my upcoming week in my Happy Planner with stickers and washi and it struck me that I needed to think about refilling my planners. When? Which one? Why? So off to YouTube I went! Yes, shiny object syndrome is a personal affliction. See why I need lists? I stumbled across an HP expert who did a video on planners for different needs and areas in life. If I recall, she had about 20 different planners for different careers and purposes. With each idea she supported why you might use more than one. I felt so validated! She hit on to one of the thoughts I had. Clutter vs. Clean. I am messy and can lack focus in certain areas of life by nature. Hence, my love and desperate need for planning and lists. She also showed some of the new releases in the HP planner line and I got giddy. I paused the video, went to refill my coffee, grabbed a notes insert page from my planner and a pen and then hit replay. Every planner suggestion that struck a chord that resonated…loudly!
An hour or two later after viewing more videos from the sages of experience and suggestion, extending my coffee time and delaying my Saturday errands; I came up with what I wanted to do in 2017.

I was intrigued by a new sort of planner that I had never heard of before from Powersheets.

This is a Goal Planner…different, shiny and new! This is my Master Planner. It houses ALL of my goals. So far I love it! It is meant to help you set a vision, your goals, plan and track all year long. I promise to write more about my thoughts on this new tool throughout the year!!! Watch for a full review in the weeks to come!

But what about weekly and daily? Work? Family? Budget?

I have a plan. Or should I say Planners?

Do I seem crazy? Perhaps, but I really do have a plan. And it is going be lovely and fun, so play along with me this year.

  1. Master Planner-Vision, Goals and Tracking my success. (On the bottom of the stack, symbolizing the foundation)
  2. Home & Budget – If it is working why change? I just bought the 6-month refill.
  3. My new 2018 HP – like last year’s just shiny and new…For details on daily work and life schedules, plans, lists.

Aligning to My Vision and Keeping it Real!

Sometimes my weekly pages seemed too busy and important items were lost or missed. In an effort to have cleaner weekly and monthly spreads, I selected key focus areas from my Vision Board and Master Planner and devised these new and separate planners:

  1. Health-a mini-HP specifically designed for it. This is a top priority for me. I will be launching a regular series here on how I am working on my health and incorporating tools like this planner.
  2. Faith and Meditation – I love studies, journaling, praying, and since this is daily I wanted one place for all of it.
  3. Creativity – so many things I want to do include making gifts for others, this blog, and learning new crafts. It is so important it is on my vision board so I grabbed a mini HP to nature this area respectively. Watch for an upcoming series on crafting fails and successes!
  4. Book Club – i want to read more and I signed up to make it happen. And in my first month’s reader box came this awesome planner that has important dates, notes, trackers, and challenges. This wasn’t originally planned. The format is awesome. Should I share a list of book I am reading here?

My first Weekly Series

You may be wondering how I will manage this without going mad? Great question! Stay tuned. Subscribe and follow me!

Next Monday starts my Managing Mondays posts. I will share tips, tirades, and ways I manage my weeks and how I plan with fun tools and lots of sips of coffee.

I would love to hear from you on what matters most to you. How do you plan?

Pssst! Watch out for a giveaway coming soon. I bought one too many HPs and sharing my love with my readers sounds fun.

Back to sipping coffee while it is quiet..!

Goals · Planning · Vision

I Have a Planner for That, Part Two

My 2017 Planner strategy was a fun and creative adventure and definitely had a strong influence on what I am using in 2018. Let me share how I turned my planning solutions around.

My 2017 Needed a Plan

As 2016 was coming to a close, I knew I wanted to start using my planner for more than work and basic important personal dates. While on the Covey site, I noticed they were selling flair for decorating planners and I began to wonder when that became a “thing.” So I, like many people, consulted YouTube. Who knew?!? I found out there is a whole world out there of planners. Eric Condran, Happy Planner, Carpe Diem, and so much more. How would I ever choose? After hours of advice obtained through bloggers and YouTube-ers I had to think of what I needed. So I made one of my famous lists. I wanted a planner that helped me with:

  • Budgeting
  • Weekly and monthly cleaning
  • Family stuff: school, activities
  • Personal goals
  • Work goals
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • To do lists
  • Daily schedules
  • Stickers to make my plans pretty

With the research and the realization that I had a lot to track, I decided that a buildable, customizable, and pretty option was the way to go.

Visiting my local Michael’s as suggested by all the online sages, I grabbed the basics.

And I fell in love with how I could fit all of the pieces into one place. A new planner became an exciting adventure and my 2016 Christmas present from Santa was done!

2017 Changed…So did the planner

By March, I realized that I needed more rings and more for home. So I built a home planner that separated the home care, budget, cleaning, and shopping into a separate planner. Best idea ever. I only needed that stuff once a week and it added bulk to my daily routine. And when I was researching Happy Planners for home I found out they had a recipe planner too.

I went from one to three planners instantly and have been centralizing my recipes into one place over time.

I love the format. Even here I embellish. I want my kids and my future grandkids to know where special recipes came from. This one is from my grandmother and we make it every Christmas season.

Making three separate places for things has been an amazing evolution. I focus more in monthly planning and imagining and creating. Because HP styles foster such time and the creators have thoughtfully designed tools that make my heart sing. Here are some of my pages.

Washi tape and stickers have become an obsession of sorts. They make me smile and I use them on everything now.

I have flexibility and a place for every personal and professional goal. And it I can track anything I want. Here is the bonus: I want to use it! I don’t struggle with it. And on weeks where I am busy or just not feeling it, I still use it and just ink it up and keep the stickers and washi for another time.

So at the end of 2017, I had a decision to make. What planner? You see, I new Happy Planners work for me. So that part was easy. I was fully invested in the product. But until you have spent hours through the year with the HP Sages, you have one major decision. Of all the new dated planners (and there are many) which will my new favorite design, layout, and size?

That, my friends, is for part three of this series. I will share how I plan to plan in 2018. And it will be the introduction of my upciming weekly series called Managing Mondays.

Do you use a planner? Which one? What do you love and hate about it? Share photos please! I love seeing how people use their tools. There is so much to learn from each other!