Posted in lists, Planning, Reflection

The Brown Grocery Bag

I was sipping coffee this morning and browsing the weekly grocery ads while I put together my shopping list and my meal plan for next week.

You know this is the time where I end up having random thoughts. Right? As usual my brain went into a rabbit hole and remembered that my grandmother loved brown paper bags. When we went to the store and the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” the automatic response was, “Paper.” While in this rabbit hole I sat and made a random list of all the ways I remember using brown grocery bags.

Back to School Time

One of the first that I remembered was my lugging every single text book home and covering them with the glorious brown sturdy paper.

It seemed like it took forever and I don’t recall ever loving the task. I sat at the kitchen table handing books, scissors, tape and grocery bags to my grandmother like we were wrapping gifts. Instead of nametags I used crayons and markers to label the new protective cover with the subject and my name.

When my son was younger it was unheard of to cover books with grocery bags. And to be honest with the more common use of plastic and rarely sweing paper bags at our local grocers we just didn’t have them handy. Instead we bought into the back to school shopping frenzy of buying plastic covers in various covers to help him know which book was which and hoped they didn’t get lost. Insert the next kid 8 years later we still bought covers but not as many. Why? Well schools only bought classroom copies and printed worksheets to save costs and today most textbooks are digital. I remember telling them both the “Back in my day, we….” I bet the first time they were in awe and wonder. But the third or fourth time I seem to recall they had glazed eyes.


Before it started to get too cold in Missouri, we would pick every last green tomato off the vines and place them on the window sill or in grocery bags to help them ripen.

To this day, I love tomatoes. I want to grow my own here in Phoenix. It is possible in the desert if you do your homework and tend the garden diligently. Our season is much shorter and pulling them off the vine unripened would not be due to extreme cold. No. More like before the heat starts cooking them right there on the vine.

Onions and Garlic

By the way, paper bags speed up ripening of various produce. Did you know they also help onions and garlic last longer?

Small lunch bags and grocery bags alike are great for storing these amazing flavors on the counter or in your pantry for several weeks. If you do not have clay pots or Tupperware bins designed to store them properly, consider grabbing some bags and a hole puncher to ensure proper airflow.

Tip: Store each variety in separate bags like shown in the picture. Combining them in one bag will not extend the life as long.

Kitchen Trash Bin Liner

Let’s chat about rabbit holes. My coffee got cold when I went in search of any internet photo that might resemble the trash bin we used to have when I was a teenager. I have never seen a single one like it since. Maybe I never will. Imagine a black rectangulaelr bin (it was probably Rubbermaid) that is shaped to hold a grocery bag inside it perfectly. Its lid was like a white picture frame that sat on top fitting around the edge of the bin. It didn’t cover to block in the doors. Nope. It was open to toss rubbish right in. The one feature that was nifty was how it held the brown paper grocery bag to the edge of the bin while keeping it from folding in on itself. The downside was anything wet would obviously weaken the bottom. And coffee grounds were a common culprit. Have you ever had to clean up coffee grounds and other trash off of your kitchen floor? Yeah. Me too.

I hear the invention of plastic trash bags were revolutionary and made women very happy for several reasons. When I moved out on my own I never even looked for a kitchen bin like that one. I am guessing they were not a best seller. If someone has ome though, I would love a picture so I can at a later date update this article.

As the world is shying away from single use plastics, there may be a resurgence of ways to revisit reusing or repurposing paper. Studies show positive and negative environmental impacts of both. Today is not the day for that rabbit hole.

I am curious though. Do you use paper bags for crafts or creatively at home for other purposes? I would love to know more.

I have a shopping list to finish and a cold cup of coffee to finish sipping.

Have a great Friday!

Posted in Planning

Managing Mondays – Starting Tuesday

I was sipping my tepid cup of coffee this morning and realized it has been quite a while since I’ve shared any of my weekly spreads. This week is a slightly different type of week because it is a holiday week. It is also the first week of summer vacation in my house. My schedule is more my own for once.

I decided to wait until Monday to do my planning for no better reason than today is a holiday. The three day weekend inspired me to take a Sunday off from planning. It didn’t take much to convince me to do that considering the past few days I’ve been feeling a bit off. A focus on self-care seemed a bit more prudent. Tummy ailments and colds have been the norm around this family. Who knows why but we cannot all seem to be well at the same time. Perhaps it is the freakishly cool Phoenix weather. I mean, honestly, by this point in the annual calendar our temperature is typically in the triple digits. This barely getting close to 80 degrees is bizarre. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Not one single bit. Nope. Not me. I’m just commenting on the observations we’ve been making as we have all been fighting off these ailments. The weather in Phoenix is mild. It is absolutely NOT normal. Period.

Before the Pen

Now let’s take a look at this weekly spread. Usually I break my days out to reflect the crazy family schedule but this week, well, it is all about me. For the first time in a long time I get to plan MY week. School is out for Summer. No after school activities to take into consideration and my daughter does not have any plans. Yippeeee! With so much freedom I could do a decorative and pretty spread and worry less about my normal functional needs to organize my week. With so much freedom I spent a couple of hours just thinking about what I could do and struggled to decide what I wanted to do. Silly? Perhaps. So why not be a tad frivolous and go with rainbows and unicorns?!?! Yes!

Unicorn Dreams mean Big Goals to Achieve.

After the Pen

With only myself to focus on, I decided this week to remind myself of some key goals. BIG Goals. I sat and looked at my Vision Board and the big W reminding me to write. I looked at the image of the books on the night stand reminding that I should be reading more. I saw the spa images reminding me to make more time for self-care. I saw the Boss women like Oprah and Rachel Hollis on my vision board reminding me that I have big dreams that I want to achieve. So this week, I grabbed my pens, put in the important people, places, and things and then filled in all of the reminders to DREAM BIG, ACT BIG, and BE BIG!!!!!

Don’t just Dream it. Be it.

If not now, then when?

This spread was inspired by Rachel Hollis. No, she doesn’t always talk about the unicorns. But in Girl, Stop Apologizing, she has some amazing quotes that inspire me to not just dream but to live my dreams. So, yeah, unicorns come to mind. I’m going to be that amazingly different, often hard to find or understand unicorn. I’m going to go out and do ALL the things at work and at home this week. I’m going to get into my writing. I’m going to do the important things at work, and I’m going to carve out my time each day to be me. Unapologetically Me.

How about you? Do you have some things you have been putting on the side burner? Make that list and pick one of those things and do it now. If not now, then when? When is NOW. Have a great week and come back because I’ll be sipping coffee and sharing more plans, crafts, thoughts, and achievements. B

Posted in Family, Planning

Managing Mondays – It is Okay to Not be Okay

Yesterday I failed to plan. This morning I am sipping coffee as salty tears stream down my cheeks. My tears are not because I failed to plan. I failed to plan because my heart was hurting and comforting my heart was more important than my to-do list and the calendar that still is void of color. All I could muster is the cream in my coffee and seeking wisdom and comfort in my meditation. The past seven days were stormy for sure!

I am ready for my roots to dig in deeper. My tall and beautiful friend, Shelley, left us too soon. Unexpected. Fast. Just like the storm that has raged around all of us caught in the bubble.

I realize even more now why I was led to focus 2018 around the words Strength and Dignity. As I chose my way into the year I was recognizing the generational legacy of my mother and grandmother. I wanted to honor them in living onward and upward.

Today, I lost my friend who treated me like a sister for more than 25 years. She was tall and steady like the strongest of well-rooted trees. She raised three amazing children with a dignity I strived to emulate while I have raised mine.

She taught me to love and be courageous in the way she lived. She was there to pick me up in every misstep I made. Her adult children have been a part of my extended family and that family has grown as they have had children of their own. Have I lost you? Don’t be! It takes a village. My village grows with each new generation. She loved our village fiercely. In my meditation and coffee sipping I renew my personal commitment in my focus to stay strong and carry on loving her children and the village we formed with her still in the roots of it all.

So I didn’t plan the week. This is not a failure. It is simply recognizing the need to mourn and be kind in self care. My heart aches and I am instead allowing myself space to grieve. I don’t need my planner for that. I am forgiving myself and taking each day as they come. One at a time. The planner pages, the washi, the colored pens, and the stickers will be waiting for me when I am ready.

This week I may spend time in my journal accounting memories. I will meditate. I will promise to continue. I will lean on the strength she always gave me. I will celebrate her. I will continue to love everyone with her passion. I will wear red, our favorite color. I will, simply put, miss her.

Posted in Family, Goals, lists, Planning, Planning, Reflection, self-care, Vision, Writing

Managing Mondays – Finding Inspiration and Motivation

It is another week and I am eagerly sipping coffee after a short, brisk walk before the sun was brightly shining and heating up the pavement. Although it is September and many folks are starting to see signs of fall, those of us in Phoenix are still facing high temperatures around 100°. That means getting up early to beat the heat if you want to walk outside.

I put my weekly plan together last night while watching Sunday Night Football. It took longer than usual because I couldn’t take my eyes off of the fourth quarter madness as Green Bay made their way back to claim the win. Did you know I love football? No? Well, surprise! I had so much to think about this week because I have some lofty goals. I am working my side hustle hard this week and making some time to sharpen my saw. Me time includes reading because, well, to be honest I just haven’t been doing that much lately. And I have been looking at this book for weeks. I never put it on my bookshelf. No. I keep moving it from surface to surface through the house. That tells me how much I want to read it. So, I am planning for it. One chapter a day. I deserve that much me time. I know if I don’t write it in my plan I will keep putting it off and moving the book to, yet again, another surface. What book? This one…

The book is broken into 5 parts. My goal is to read a part each day and plan to add a little Badassery into my future planning. So excited!

My plans this week are pretty loose and functional with some key goals and important activities. The most important activities are the weekend. My son turns 23 on Sunday and I aim to make any free time we have as a family about him and his special day.

It seems lately that I am on the go and running on all cylinders from the moment I wake up until I crawl back into bed. I am making a point to have quality reading time to take my mind and my eyes away from screens. When I crawl into bed I want to sleep easy knowing my plans are clear and my mind is sharpened to be the absolute best person God made me to be.

I challenge each of you to plan the following into your week:

  • Sharpen your mental saw (read a book, learn something new, meditate)
  • Celebrate something or someone
  • Love everyone

Have a great week. Back to sipping coffee.

Posted in Planning

Weekend Warrior – Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

For the past several weeks I have been picking one morning of coffee sipping alone time to plan my weekly menu and make my shopping list. What is great is I have turned my adult son and his girlfriend on to this strategy. As an observer of their process I now find myself inspecting and adapting my own methods.

I have been using my Erin Condren Petite Planner. It is perfect for me because it is simple and fits nicely into my favorite Vera Bradley hipster.

And as you can see it lays nicely in the cart for me to check off as I shop. I have three goals.

  1. Stick to the list.
  2. Stay within budget.
  3. Never buy more than what fits in my allotted shopping bags.

Recently I entertained my local store by testing their Scan and Go concept. Twice.

I was trying to understand what might be in it for me. Here is what I learned:

  • I was slow (even the second time).
  • It stressed me to scan and bag and check off my list.
  • I accidentally put an item or two in without scanning (I did catch myself and was worried I would do it again.)
  • I missed the check out lane experiences of reading the magazine covers and chatting with people.
  • You still have to go to self check out. While there, the system couldn’t find my “scanned items”. It took the help of the employee and trying at more than one check out to finish up and get out of the store.

Honestly, I do not see myself doing that again. It was added stress and it did not save me time. And I just am not okay with taking jobs away. I prefer chatting and getting to know the employees. If I didn’t want to talk to folks and be in line I could just order for delivery.

Have you done this? I don’t mind self check out when I only need a couple of things. I do not like it for my regular weekly shopping.

Okay. I digressed a bit on my rant. I really wanted to share how easy meal planning and grocery shopping is for me when I use the right tools. You can acquire your own Erin Condren products through the link.

Happy Friday and Happy Planning!

Posted in Planning

Managing Mondays-Back to School Edition

Last night was a very long planning time. As I sip my coffee this morning, I am feeling a bit more at ease with today as well as the week ahead. It is back to school week. Not just any back to school week either. My youngest is starting her Freshman year in high school and that is a milestone. Makes me a bit sad.

We finished our clothes shopping on Saturday. Yay! That is quite a chore. We took in a final summer movie too: Eighth Grade. It was perfectly appropriate in its timing and its message to me as a parent and to my daughter. See it!

Back to the week at hand…

I spent my evening going through the papers we received from school and instead of inserting all the pages into my planner, I used my Erin Condren Purple color dots to mark all of the important dates for the school year.

Instead of this…

With the support of my fur babies I went from month to month placing purple dots like this…

Why purple? School colors are purple and black so I thought that would be easy to identify.

Did you notice my new planner? Yes. I changed from Happy Planner to Erin Condren. I am just in love with my new Erin Condren. I have been test driving it in July and really have found that I want to use it for my go to master planner. Watch for an upcoming post where I compare and contrast my old and new planning systems.

Am I ready for back to school week? I think so…

See my before the pen pages…

I spent yesterday shopping and sorting meals and am all set with simple fixings for an extremely busy week. I adore my new meal planning petite planner from Erin Condren. I love the smaller handy size because it slips right into my purse.

Wednesday will be a crazy day and in the tradition of every first day of school, the kids and I are going out to breakfast. I have taken the day off from work. I know the morning will be hectic and traffic flow will be annoying. And that evening will be filled with paperwork and syllabi and getting the school supplies from every teacher procured and organized.

My planner is ready. I am ready. My Freshman? Maybe. No matter what… I have planned to be there for her to help her be ready, for the first day and the whole year. I will be present to hear all about her first day as a Freshman. I have planned to spend my time where it matters the most. Now…if I can just manage to get through Monday.

Posted in Planning

Managing Mondays – Holiday Style

I am not sipping coffee in my normal spot today and it is not really Monday. Here is my morning quiet place.

What nonsense is This? It is called vacation. I am taking the week off from my weekly spread. (And work.) What? I know. Call me crazy. No planner in sight! I left it at home. Instead of planning the week I left it blank. When I get home I plan to make those pages memories instead. I bet you are wondering how I will survive a week with no planner or no plan, even. Ha! I am not that nuts.

I am in Charleston, South Carolina for the week. We got here yesterday which is why my Monday post is a day late. And while sipping coffee this morning, I have my notebook, pens, stickers, highlighters, and my one pager.

See! I have a loose plan. I left behind the hustle and the structure because I want to relax. So, I have goals. And whatever shape each day takes is what it is. I plan to take lots of photos, videos, and note down in my journal what I saw, felt, and thought about my experiences.

Did I mention my daughter is with me? Oh, yes, she is!

I have my journal page ready and we are heading out to explore in a bit.

I am excited to make lists about today. If you haven’t started following me on Instagram or Twitter find me. I would love to have you along on our adventures.

Posted in Planning

Managing Mondays…and A week of one event after another

Sipping coffee this morning I thought about how busy this week was really going to be and I spent the quiet time focused on meditating instead of making lists. Afterall, I deserve to gift myself a bit. Tuesday is my birthday!

Weeks ago I told my offspring that the only gifts I wanted were ones that included their time working on projects around the house…indoor and outdoor beautification and organization. I am happy to see a little improvement each day as these small to big projects and various phases getting completed. So far so good. The goals are aggressive so the timeline was extended to the first week of June.

I love birthdays.

This week is also the last week of school for my youngest. So early release days and finals make the week hectic. As a working mom I am negotiating pick ups for the early release days. I truly am very blessed to be surrounded by a village of family and friends who help out on crazy weeks like this one.

I have work partners who are in town this week so I have a dinner out with them while they visit. I made sure I batch cooked a few meals yesterday to be easily warmed up for lunch or dinner. Good thing too since I got the invite to dinner on Wednesday very last minute.

Thursday includes an all day meeting and an appointment for my daughter. That day could be ripe with conflicts since it also the last day of school with an early noon release. Did I mention how blessed I am to have a village of support? I just need to note who is who and when so I don’t get confused or set false expectations with anyone. I cannot imagine life without my planner on weeks like this one. How would I ever keep it straight otherwise? And then there is the all day meeting…so of course there will be a lit of notes and action items. Insert a half page for a list and notes.

This coming weekend is Phoenix Comic Fest and as much as we want to attend all four days, we are only attending on Saturday.

Insert Checklist! This is a work in progress. Planning Cosplay and a survival kit for a day long convention requires planning and preparation.

But that’s not all…next week is Vacation so….I need to start making the packing list.

I want to keep it simple so that throughout the week I can add to my list and pack whenever I have a window of time. I know most will be last minute. That’s the beauty of the lists. I have a place to note down whatever I think of whenever it comes to mind. I can worry less and enjoy the busy birthday week.

So, let the list making and note-taking begin. I think I am ready for the week. Just keeping my coffee fresh and my planning time quiet and productive.

Have a great week!

Posted in Planning

Managing Mondays-Busy Days with Lofty Goals Await

This week is full of fun and I have a lot to do around all of it.

  • Live Music
  • Movie
  • Mother’s Day
  • Work
  • Appointments
  • Writing
  • Home Organization and Cleaning

Will I get it all done? I have a plan. And I decided to color code my days with Work in pink and Home in Green.

This is a new idea. With so much going on I thought the segregation would help my mind focus and fight the clutter. Let’s see how it works.

If nothing else I love the symmetry it lends to the design. This layout is using 100% Happy Planner brand products. Well, and a pen.

I love busy weeks yet when I start laying out the week I get a bit anxious. The events are non-negotiable. Time with friends at movies or live music shows are Aces to me. I live for moments that make memories. And I am well rested and camera ready. By the time Sunday comes around I will definitely love the fact that Mother’s Day means I get to take the day off. No chores from this Mom! And my son gave me a ticket to the live show on Sunday which will make the day the best ever. Ending a week eating at my favorite restaurant, enjoying live music that I love all on Mother’s Day means my blessings are truly overflowing.

With a week ending in so much joy I already feel motivated to rock this week at home and at work. I know I can get it all done and more.

Back to sipping my coffee before I tackle it all!

Posted in Planning

Reset – When Plans Need More Plans

Some weeks my planner needs more than the weekly spread. Honestly, I take a lot of notes on random pieces of paper. I make time during email blocks or between my many meetings to capture highlights on planner notes pages.

I also like to repurpose daily pages like the one below. Washi tape and stickers are by best planner friends. Truly they are!

My notes aren’t always pretty but I know what they mean when I come back to them later and ideally that’s the purpose they serve.

I have never shared and end of week spread so I thought I would.

I love seeing the check marks showing what I planned and accomplished each week.

But I often end up with notes and thoughts tucked into each week. Sometimes it is a to do list of sorts. Or just random ideas I want to look back at when I have time.

Every week I make some type of cleaning list. This is my latest favorite because it has daily, weekly and a focus area. I also love the cleaning tips and supply list. I delegate these tasks to the family via texts and check it off when I see it is done.

I love these daily pages for very busy days. I don’t always use the time slots unless I feel I need it because I am going from room to call to room to call and it helps me keep track where I am headed next when my laptop is closed to be respectful of the discussions in the rooms.

How about you? Do you have lots of pages in your planner? Any favorite formats or modifications? I love modified pages and would love to see ideas of what’s in between the pages.

Happy planning and many blessings!