1 Bulbs. You know what are amazing? Bulbs. You take a few minutes to plant them in the Fall. And then do nothing to them, and magically, they pop up in the Spring (just when you think you’re never going to see another flower again) and give you all kinds of pretty, pretty flowers year-after-year. People think gardening (veggie and flowers) is complicated, but planting a couple hundred bulbs is pretty much easiest, quickest way to get beautiful flowers and color in your yard in the Spring (and for years to come). Seriously, anyone can plant and grow some daffodil, tulip, crocus and hyacinth bulbs. Do it this Fall. I promise it’ll make your Spring next year so much happier.
2 My shorter hair. On a whim last week, I drove to the local cosmetology school and asked them to chop off 12+ inches of hair. Best. Decision. Ever. I was hemming and hawing about paying for an expensive haircut for months (I really hate spending that money), and it just meant that I spent months with hair that was way-too-long, way-too-fried, and way-too-scraggly. The truth is, I’m really laid back about my hair, so an $8 haircut from the beauty school is a perfect fit for me. Heck, I even splurged and added on a deep conditioning treatment and a scalp massage. Grand total with tip? $20. And I’m thrilled with my ready-for-summer hair.
3 The entire Acure line. Last TID post, I told you how obsessed I was with my Acure Day Cream, well, my Acure obsession has spread. I’m now totally into their entire line of beauty products. It breaks my frugal heart a little bit to be so into a not-so-cheap line of beauty products, but I don’t feel so bad about it considering Acure is a family-run company out of Florida, and they make all-organic products. Oh, and their products rock! They smell amazing and work incredibly well (and they’re well-rated on the Skin Deep database). Obsessed.
4 SkipHop Duo Diaper Bag. Admittedly, I have yet to start using this bag as a diaper bag, but I am using it as an everyday bag, and I’m totally obsessed with it. I started carrying it around mostly because third trimester=hungry all the time. And hungry all the time=need to pack more snacks. And need to pack more snacks=need a bigger bag. I love all the pockets and spots for things. I love that it doesn’t look like a diaper bag. I love that it’s big enough to fit everything I need (and lots more) but not so big that I feel like I’m carrying a suitcase. I can see us using this bag long after we’re through the diaper stage. In fact, I recommend it as an awesome messenger bag for childfree folks. It would make an amazing bag for school or work. Love.
5 Green grass. Sweet, glorious, green grass! We’ve had a ton of rain over the past week, and while it’s caused some issues (mudslides and flooding!), a really awesome pro of all that water is the grass is finally growing. Yay! I always get so excited when the grass starts growing. And then I remember we have to mow about five acres of it every week for the next six months…
What are you digging lately?
I’ve been struggling with planners my entire life. I think part of it is due to my mixture of left- and right-brainedness. Part of me is so left-brained that I crave the structure and ability to put my life into neat, little boxes that come with planners. But I also have a pretty dominant right-brained side that thrives on a bit of chaos. So, usually, I would be in one of my left-brained modes, and decide I must have a planner, run out and buy one, and get really excited about it for a few weeks. And then stop using once I got sick of the tiny little boxes. Mostly because I felt trapped by the structure of the planner.
I know, I think way too much about something as trivial as a planner.
I’ve tried everything. I tried buying paper planners that people swear by (the cheap ones, the expensive ones, and everything in between). I tried designing my own planners. I tried using online planners. I tried going without a planner (and well, that sorta worked, until I got pregnant and the pregnancy brain kicked in). And nothing really ever felt right. I never was able to strike the balance between organized and chaotic—which is pretty much where I love living in my life.
And then, I had an idea. What if I could come up with a not-as-rigorous planner—a “planner lite” if you will? So I started thinking about what things I did want out of a planner—a place to keep my to-do list, a list of my daily chores, and maybe a daily schedule. I realized I could fit all that in one sheet of paper, and my daily command center was born!
I actually use these in conjunction with an online calendar (more about my online calendar system here), which is where I track my due dates, work schedule, life events, and editorial calendar for the blog. I like using an online calendar for my actual date book, because it makes it so easy to move and change dates (which happens a lot) and share it easily with Craig. But I also really like the paper and pen feeling of crossing off items on a to-do list. These command center sheets really let me have the best of both worlds.
So, to use these command center printables, I just print them out for the day—usually I print the whole week’s worth, and put them on my pretty clipboard. I’ve been thinking about laminating a whole week’s worth and using a wet erase marker instead of printing them out each week, but I haven’t gotten there. And I really love the ability to use stickers and colorful markers, so I might never.
Usually in the morning, or, if I’m on top of things, the evening before, I’ll fill in my due dates and to-do list (working off my online calendar), and fill in the dinner, workout, and any extra cleaning tasks I want to accomplish. And then I figure out my rough schedule for the day. I also have a box at the top that is a free space—I usually fill it up with some quote to help guide my day.
As I go through the day, I cross off tasks (on both the list and the schedule) using a highlighter. There is also a small box at the bottom for things I need to make sure to mark on tomorrow’s list.
These have been working so well for me! I feel organized, but not restricted. I am loving these!
I figured there might be a few more left- and right-brained folks out there who would thrive working off of a “planner lite” like this, so I’ve got the printables ready for you to download. Of course, my version is pretty specific to my life (you probably don’t need a task listed as “Walk PF” or to follow my cleaning schedule), so I made a blank version for you guys. I did include multiple colors, because, well, colors are fun. But other than the colors, each page is the same.
Are you a paper planner person? Or an online planner person? Or do you live on the edge and just keep it all tumbling around in your head?
6:00am — I’m still tired, but I’m so hungry I can’t sleep anymore. I try checking in on social media stuff on my phone in order to try to convince my body I’m too tired to get up.
6:15am — It doesn’t work. Mostly because I forgot most of social media feed is full of pictures of food. HUNGRY. And now Baby J is slamdancing in my belly, so I’m up! I pull together a quick breakfast—a muffin out of the freezer, a hard-boiled egg, some milk, a yogurt and a big ole orange (because this week’s pregnancy nutrition session during our birth class was about how important Vitamin C is during the third trimester). I sit down in front of the news, so I can catch up on headlines. Note that I have to pour Kittyface a small bowl of milk whenever I’m drinking any, or she’ll pretty constantly try to knock mine over.
6:30am — Breakfast done. I move onto working on my to-do list for the day. I’ve been using these daily “command center” printables (which I’ll share soon) and they are working beautifully for me. I love them so much more than a standard big, bulky paper planner. Craig wakes up sometime in here, he heads downstairs to do a quick workout before he has to get ready for work.
6:35am — I’ve reached my fill of CNN (seriously, I want to hear ALL the news, not just 30 minutes on one big, flashy news story that has no new information followed by 30 seconds glancing over other headlines—CNN is so terrible), so I turn off the TV and turn on NPR. Ahhh, much better.
7:00am — List and schedule are all done, so I move onto some computer housekeeping. I check to make sure my post went up. I reply to any comments that have questions. I sort through my email and reply to any that need addressed. I balance our checkbook register (which is online). I achieve sweet, glorious inbox zero!
7:15am — Sit down and chat with Craig while he eats his breakfast. And snuggle with the fluffy Puppyface. Craig works a varied schedule, so it’s nice to have mornings with him on his later days. Craig tries to convince me that I need to learn how to ice skate, so I can get on the ice with our daughter when she gets into hockey (because, she obviously will since she’s the daughter of a Canadian). I’m not so sure. I’m quite happy on my iceless ground without blades strapped to my shoes.
7:45am — Time to get up and at ‘em. I get dressed and run around doing my chores—make the bed, do some picking up, and wipe down the counters, stove and sink (we’re trying to keep things as clean as possible after our spring cleaning), while Craig unloads and loads the dishwasher.
8:10am — Craig starts to get ready for work, so Puppyface and I bundle up (seriously, 17° in late March?) and go for a walk. We do the 1/2 mile loop of our property, and it takes us about 30 minutes. It might not sound like much, but between Puppy’s arthritic hips and my jacked-up pelvis, it’s about all either of us can handle at a time.
8:45am — Puppy comes inside and starts munching on breakfast, and it’s time for me to eat again, too. I whip up a chai tea latte to warm up, and heat up some steel cut oats (leftovers from recipe development for my new cookbook). I also switch the radio from NPR over to one of the other public radio stations we have in Louisville—WFPK. Because it’s got the most amazing music all day long. And no annoying commercials. I <3 public radio. Craig heads out for work while I’m eating.
9:15am — Alrighty, work time. I’m in the middle of recipe development for my second cookbook, so I head to the kitchen. I’ve been averaging between 4-5 recipes a day, but my body is in need of a light day after being on my feet so much lately, so I only have two on the docket. I work testing, tasting, writing, and photographing the winning dishes.
12:00pm — Recipes done! For my last cookbook, I just wrote my recipes in a notebook and then did all the typing and editing when I wrote my manuscript at the end. I’m trying something different this time, and typing and editing the recipes on the day that I do them. It seems to help keep the process, ingredients and thoughts fresh. Plus, it means that once recipe development is finished, most of my book is finished. Woohoo! I pull up my laptop on the couch and write these two recipes and edit the photos for them.
1:00pm — Hungry again. I head to the fridge and pull together a chicken sandwich (roasted chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, cheddar, and avocado) with some carrots sticks and apple slices. I briefly consider doing something crazy like eating lunch at the kitchen table or the bar, but quickly realize I have too much to tackle to something silly like that. So I head back to the couch and eat my sandwich while writing two section introductions for my cookbook. Because of the way I have them formatted, the intros take a lot of research work, so those take me a while.
3:00pm — The writing side of my brain is tapped, so I switch gears to do something else creative—make a throw pillow! I had plans to make this pillow for the nursery anyway, and it occurred to me it’d be a fun tutorial for the blog. So I sew while taking photos and notes of measurements and instructions. Doing a craft project for the blog always takes at least four times the amount of time it’d take to do if I wasn’t documenting it, so this quick, 15-minute project turns into an hour-long excursion into my messy sewing nook.
4:00pm — Pillow is done, the sun is shining, and Puppy and I are both itching for some fresh air. So we bundle up (this time with a few less layers) and head out to do our 1/2 mile loop again. I’m feeling a little snacky, so I grab a banana and a cereal bar to snack on while we walk.
4:30pm — Back inside to tackle a few afternoon chores. I clean up the kitchen bomb I set off while doing recipe development. I also vacuum the rug in our living room and our bedroom. And sweep and mop the floors in the kitchen. This makes me seem like some amazing domestic goddess—don’t be fooled. I’m usually not so on top of the floor-cleaning, it’s just that Puppyface is shedding her winter coat like whoa right now, and if we don’t vacuum often, this place becomes a snowglobe full of puppy fur. And as far as the kitchen floor, you’d be amazed at how much food one drops when creating a cookbook.
5:15 pm — Cleaning always makes me feel so grimy. Time to grab a shower.
5:45 pm — All clean and better-smelling. I make myself a cup of tea, then sit down back on the couch and start working on the pillow tutorial.
6:15 pm — Craig’s on his way home from work, so I start working on some dinner for us. Recipe development during the day means that dinners aren’t fancy. Usually they’re cookbook cast-offs, but tonight, I actually managed to make us a real dinner. Asparagus and red potato hash with poached eggs (yes, I still eat runny eggs while pregnant—shock, gasp, awe). Once Craig is home, we sit down in front of an episode of Jimmy Fallon while eating.
6:45pm — Dessert time. I have a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Because, yum.
7:00 pm — Dinner is done, and I put on the NIT (because I’m going through basketball withdrawal) while Craig heads to the kitchen to clean up the dinner dishes and put his lunch together for work the next day. We love having an open floor plan. It’s so nice for one of us to be able to be in the kitchen and other be in the living room and still be in the same room. It’s time for me to get back to work. I go back to writing the pillow tutorial.
8:15 pm — Tutorial done. So I move onto working on this month’s two-week meal plan. These meal plan posts take me so long to put together (but I’m so proud of them once they’re done!). So I spread that work out over a few days.
9:00 pm — My eyes are starting to not like being on the computer anymore. So I start wrapping up work for the day. I clean out my inbox one more time, reply to any comments that need addressing, clear off my desktop and shut ‘er down for the evening. I pull out my knitting project—footstool poufs for the nursery. And do some knitting while watching basketball.
9:30 pm— It’s time to start heading to bed. TV is off, knitting goes away, and I pour myself a glass of tart cherry juice (a natural anti-inflammatory and source of melatonin to help me sleep). I crawl into bed, sip on my juice and do a bit of reading (this book).
10:00 pm — Lights out. Yawn.
What’s your day like?
1I am really proud of my first cookbook, but I feel like I learned so much (about the cookbook writing process, about what I want out of being author, about what readers want, etc.) that I am really excited to make my second cookbook even more amazinger. I’m starting recipe development this week, and it feels entirely different this time. I felt so overwhelmed last time—it was all so new. This time, I feel like I’m ready to kick some cookbook ass.
2Amazingly, I’m pretty calm about the whole labor and delivery process. But one thing I am worried about—I’ll go into labor early. I have an insane list of work to-dos to complete before I can start my maternity leave, and it’s going to be a tight timeline just to get them done before my due date. I really want to shut-off from work completely for a few weeks after giving birth, and I’d hate to have some of that work bleed into our time bonding as a new family. I just need to accept that I have no control over it, and just work as hard as I can while I can.
3 During the winter, I tend to not paint my toenails (what’s the point?). So, I’ve had the same toenail polish on my toes since, uh, September. It was a glitter polish, and it all fell off except a few spots on my big toes. It really wasn’t an issue when the weather was cold and snowy, but now that Spring is here, I really would like some pretty toes. But, unfortunately, I’ve now waited too long and can no longer reach my toes. I should have done some better planning with that one.
4 I get ridiculously giddy when I go to Whole Foods. It’s all so shiny. And pretty. And has pretty much everything I could ever want. My excitement lasts until I get to the checkout. And then, as I watch the total creep up, I remember why I don’t shop there more often.
5 I absolutely cannot wait to get back to working out after Baby J gets here. I know it’ll be a while before I’m cleared for activity. And even longer before I feel good enough and strong enough to do anything intense (especially after being on modified bed rest), but just the idea of working toward making my body healthier again is so exciting. It’s almost like I’m starting fresh again. There is something invigorating about starting from square one. There really is no where I can go but up from my current activity level and ability, so every workout will be a victory.
Do you have any confessions to share?
1 My sewing machine. I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I do a lot of sewing. I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl, and it’s been such a helpful skill to have (especially now that we’re having a baby—so much baby gear can be easily and cheaply made at home on the sewing machine). Interestingly enough, even though I’ve been sewing forever, and sew a lot, I actually don’t have an expensive, fancy sewing machine. In fact, my sewing machine is a plain ole Singer that I got for about $70 at Walmart seven years ago. And it’s fantastic. It does everything I need it to do. I’ve used it heavily for years now and have never had to have it serviced or repaired. My exact model isn’t available anymore, but Target sells the updated one (although, the reviews aren’t great, which surprises me).
2 Acure Day Cream. I’m pretty thrifty, and the idea of spending lots of money on beauty products makes me twitchy, but this moisturizer is totally worth the high price tag to me (well, high to me, I know some folks spend my entire grocery budget on beauty products). This winter has been hell on my skin. And my I-have-no-skincare-routine lifestyle wasn’t really cutting it anymore. I did some research and found this moisturizer and it’s been amazing! My skin is softer, smoother, and smells amazing. And I love that it only takes a tiny dab of this stuff to cover my whole face. It makes the price tag a little bit more bearable.
3 Love It or List It. Before we bought our house, I was HGTV/DIY Network obsessed, but after we moved in, I lost interest in it because all the ideas were too overwhelming! But now that we’re thinking about fitting an expanding family in our house, I’ve been watching lot of shows to get ideas—and Love It or List It is my favorite. I don’t care so much about the “list it” part, but the “love it” part gives me lots of ideas of how we can fix problem areas in our house (like the lack of coat and linen closets). So often the families on the show have legitimate logistical issues—not just “I hate the color of this wall!”—and seeing those issues solved is so inspiring to me. I’m sure it’s all terribly staged, but it still gives me ideas!
4 Dolphin Browser/Extension. I can’t be the only person who looks up recipes on my computer, and then wants to easily send them to my iPhone or iPad to refer to in the kitchen, right? The Dolphin Browser makes it so easy! You download it on your mobile device (for free) and then install the Dolphin Connect extension in Chrome (or Firefox or Safari). And then, with one click, you can send the website to your iPad or iPhone. Obviously, I know I could just Google it or pull it up from a Pinterest board on my iPad, but for some reason, the Dolphin extension is SO much easier for me. Worth noting, there are a million different ways to do this (iCloud/Safari, other plugins), but the Dolphin Browser is the first thing that’s been working totally seamlessly for me.
5 Gilligan & O’Malley Robe. I’m starting to build up a stash of hospital-friendly loungewear (because I really have no plans on wearing a hospital gown for 2+ days after Baby J’s birth), and this robe is my favorite purchase so far. It is thin—like I wouldn’t wear it without anything under it—but it’ll be perfect for a light layer over nightgowns or jammies in the hospital to be more modest for walks in the hall or warm up a bit if I’m chilled. It also happens to be one of the softest garments I’ve ever touched. Crazy soft. I’m preparing myself that everything I take to wear in the hospital might be ruined, but I’m really hoping that this robe makes it back okay (and if not, I hope Target still has ‘em in stock so I can get another).
What are you digging lately?
Thinking…about how time seems to somehow be both flying and crawling by all at the same time. I can’t believe Baby J will be here in around 100 days (!). But at the same time, I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. I keep telling myself that we have plenty of time to get stuff done (like, uh, the nursery), but in reality, we don’t.
Feeling…sleepy. Sleep has not being going well lately. I’m closing in on my third trimester, and being too uncomfortable to get a good’s night sleep is just par for the course (and yes, I have the special pillow). I guess it’s nature’s way of getting me prepped for the lack of sleep that’s coming my way in June.
Watching…not much now that the Olympics are over. I’ve had total Olympic fever for the past few weeks, so now that I’m coming down from that, it’s time to find something else to tune in to. We do record the Tonight Show and watch that with dinner each night. Because Jimmy Fallon = hilarious.
Excited…about the photography business Craig and I recently launched! Craig and I have been off-and-on shooting family portraits and weddings for the past few years, and we always thought it’d be fun to try to turn into a more full-time business, so we set a goal in 2014 to really put a lot of effort into getting it off the ground and running. We launched the website, did some marketing and are taking some meetings. We’re really excited!
Missing…feeling like my healthy, energetic self. It’s no secret that pregnancy hasn’t been the smoothest for me, but now, I mostly just miss feeling like myself. I miss having energy. And feeling healthy. And strong. And capable.
Reading…One Year to an Organized Life with Baby by Regina Leeds. In theory, this book rocks. It’s got lots of awesome ideas for how to get your house and life organized to make bringing a baby into your world as easy possible. In reality, it’s just stressing me out. If you haven’t read it, the book assigns you a task for each week of pregnancy. Some are easier and less work than others, but the goal is by the time baby comes, your house and life function like a well-oiled machine. There are a ton of great ideas—and I really like the bite-at-a-time style of doing one project each week—but I still just can’t seem to figure out how to fit the tasks in with everything else going on. As much as I’d love to get all the cleaning supplies under my sink organized, I just don’t see it happening. Mostly, the book just reminds me of all the organizational tasks I probably should be doing that I’m not.
Wondering…when winter will stop.
Working…on the photography business, a few designs for cookbooks, and starting the brainstorming phase of my second cookbook. Plus juggling a few freelance writing and design projects.
Stressed…much less than I was a few weeks ago. For some reason, January and February were really annoying for us. No end-of-the-world problems, but just a million little things (and a few bigger ones) that went wrong. You ever have those periods of time where it just seems like nothing comes easy? It was that way for us for the first part of 2014, but it seems like the universe is correcting now and the stress is starting to wash away.
Proud…of the fact that I didn’t leap out of my chair and punch the woman sitting across from me in a waiting room yesterday. She takes one look at me, and says, “When are you due?” and I tell her June, and she then says, “WHOA. YOU ARE HUGE. Man, you’re going to have a giant baby. And you’re definitely going to have it early. You’re HUGE. Your whole family must be big-boned. You’re going to have a big-boned baby.” She then proceeded to watch me eat my lunch and ask me questions about everything I was eating to make sure it was healthy for baby. And then, once I finished my lunch, she looked over at my Mama and said, “Ha! She certainly did pound that back fast, didn’t she?” If I was a more self-conscious person, that interaction may have left me feeling rough (but mostly, I just was in awe of the gall of the woman).
Wanting…a spa day! I’m not much of a girlie girl, but I’ve been recently craving a day of pampering. I want to go to a fancy spa/salon, put on a cozy robe, drink cucumber water and take some time to relax. There are a few (very well-reviewed) spas around here that do pregnancy massages, and I’d love to get one of those. I could also go for a spa pedicure and a good ole haircut.
Wishing…for a healthy third trimester. I’ve had a lot of issues pop up in the first two trimesters, but thankfully, nothing that is bad for baby. I’d really like the third one to be problem-free, too. I mean, I expect I’ll be sore and uncomfortable, but just as long as I manage to avoid any of the big issues, I’ll be happy.
Eating…a whole lot of Greek pasta salad . I came up with a spicy Greek yogurt dressing for it using Sriracha, lemon juice and Greek spices and it is SO yummy. I didn’t really expect it to be anything amazing, so I didn’t snap any photos of it. But I’m going to have to grab some photos next time I make it (because I will make it again).
Drinking…a ton of water. I feel so dehydrated all the time. Can’t. Get. Enough.
Loving…my new planner (more on that later), washi tape, feeling Baby J dance around, sunshine, root beer, daydreaming about a beach vacation.