Do This Next Time at the Grocery Store

I was standing in line at the Safeway, waiting for my turn to interact with the woman at the cash register. Anticipating the dreaded task of exiting the store and loading the bags into my car in the hot Phoenix air. When I realized: I don’t have to. continue…

The ‘Stay on Your Own Yoga Mat’ Philosophy for Breastfeeding

There is no shortage of advice out there for new moms. While I was pregnant, I received a unique piece of advice from every mom I talked to. One of my favorites was to not let anyone tell you how to be a mom. You get to decide what you feel is right for your baby.

This is a lesson I’m still learning. One of my biggest examples has been with breastfeeding. When you are in the position to choose how to feed a baby, you realize quickly that there is an abundance of opinions and complexity of emotions surrounding the subject.  continue…

Too Good to Miss Chocolate Mousse

I want everyone I know to know about this yummy recipe! My first exposure to avocado chocolate mousse was back in January at a restaurant called Duo on Maui for my 35th birthday dinner (we were also there for our babymoon – I am 32 weeks pregnant today!). I picked Duo because it was right next to the resort we stayed at and had a health-conscious menu. continue…

Meditation Mondays: A Guided Meditation To Help You Sleep

Sometimes sleep happens naturally, other times our minds don’t want to turn off. Whether we are worried or excited about the upcoming day or still worrying about the past, if our mind isn’t shutting down, it makes it hard to drift off to sleep.

I don’t always meditate before bed, but sometimes I need a reminder that it’s okay to let my mind turn off for the night. When I do, I turn to this bedtime meditation: continue…

To Be Perfect, or Not to Be Perfect

I had a goal. More like 50 goals simultaneously, and it was hard to ever focus on one thing because I wanted all 50 of them to have been done about 3 months ago.

I tried to be perfect. To have the perfect planning system, the perfectly organized home and garage, the perfectly checked off to-do list, and perfectly emptied out email inbox.

I still aspire to all these things, just not quite so perfectly. And now for my own personal satisfaction, rather than to prove to others that it can be done.

Releasing the need to become perfect has created space for me to be me. Which is so nice.

It is liberating to allow myself to continue to discover what I am good at and what I am not good at, and to accept those things the way they are. continue…

Healthy Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin Recipe

zucchini and chocolate

We got these gigantic zucchini given to us from a local garden so it was definitely time to make this recipe! This recipe is adapted from Make the Best of Everything. I made a substitution for the sweetener, using stevia of course!

I also added Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips, which are sweetened with stevia and erythritol. The Lily’s brand of chocolate tastes great, but I believe the erythritol is upsetting to my stomach so I have to limit how much I have in a day to a small (tiny) handful of chocolate chips.

I like the stevia-sweetened chocolate I make better for this reason, but they don’t do well as chocolate chips in recipes like pancakes and these muffins, so it’s nice to have the chips on hand for baking (they are cheaper at Whole Foods than what I have found on Amazon). continue…

Why Being Lazy Is Good for You

All our lives, “lazy” has been mostly a negative term. Sometimes we can get away with a lazy day here and there, but in general it has a derogatory connotation. But what if that were different? continue…

How To Empty Your To-Do List Each Day

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your massive to-do list? This has been my primary state of being for as long as I can remember. Always feeling behind and like there has been way more assigned to me than I could ever possibly get done.

A Streamlined List Is a Streamlined Life

My dream has been to live a streamlined life. For a long time I have known this is a possibility for me, but not how to make it happen.

Since watching a few Esther Hicks videos during the recent 2016 Hay House World Summit, I have been reinvigorated to follow the principles of the Law of Attraction. I’m focusing on how I’m feeling as my main concern in life as the way to getting my life to match the dream in my mind. continue…

How To Make Your Own Chocolates…with Stevia!

Chocolate. My friend. My best friend.

I like to eat chocolate pretty much everyday. One way or another, I find it. Or it finds me in the impulse buy section at the cash register at the grocery store.

In college, I almost ALWAYS had a small bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer from which I would take a generous handful or two on a daily basis. One time my diet-conscious roommate asked me if I put them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat too much at once. That might have originally been my strategy, but making chocolate ice cold in Florida only made it that much more enticing.

Chocolate makes me happy. Except when it makes me feel sluggish because I over-indulged. It’s a slippery slope. continue…

The BEST Peanut Butter You Can Buy

I LOVE peanut butter. Maybe it’s genetic. Or maybe it’s that peanut butter is amazing. Probably both. I might be addicted.

 My Friend Peanut Butter

Over the past few years, I have become more conscious of the ingredient lists of products I buy at the store. I stated to take note that sugar and its companions were in a lot of the things I was buying, including peanut butter. Even some organic peanut butter.

I wasn’t all that upset over it. I considered peanut butter to be something of a treat and made the deal with myself that I would make an exception for this small joy.

Each day when I would make my yummy peanut butter banana smoothie, or take a spoon from the silverware drawer to transport a heaping scoop of peanut buttery goodness directly to my mouth, I thought: yeah, there’s some sugar in there, but it is so worth it!

I thought about it some more, and started considering that perhaps it really wasn’t all that worth it. After carefully comparing peanut butter jar labels, I made a new deal that I would give the kind of peanut butter that comes with a thick layer of oil on top and has to be refrigerated a try. continue…

Organize Something: Hall Closet Tidying

“Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.”  — Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Getting “tidy” is major. Like life-changing major, as described in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

I have been busy. Who isn’t? But I have had tidy the upstairs hall closet on my backlog of tasks for…as long as we have lived in this house. Which isn’t insanely long, but almost two years.

Two years of I have to organize that upstairs hall closet bouncing around in my brain, stealing energy that I might free up to dedicate to more worthwhile pursuits like starting a garden, among other things I dream of.

This weekend, I finally decided to set my meditation timer for 20 minutes (this is how I motivate myself to do practically everything in my life), and start on the closet.

I knew all along that it wouldn’t take very long. I spent at least ten times as much time thinking about having to clean out this closet as it actually took to do it. But that’s ok. It’s done. Now my mind is saying I’m so glad the upstairs hall closet is organized!  continue…

One Thing I Never Leave Home Without

Stevia is my beverage sweetener of choice. It’s no longer a question for me.

But you might notice that practically everywhere you go there is likely some combination of a handful of options: white sugar, Sugar in the Raw, Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, Splenda, and rarely Truvia or another commercial form of stevia.

Restaurants, coffee shops, waiting rooms, hotel rooms, airplanes. They virtually all have the same thing in common: no stevia. At least not the pure unprocessed form that I have grown to love so much.

You might find a more health conscious restaurant or coffee shop here or there that offers a shaker with a white powdery version of stevia. While it’s awesome that they offer a better choice, unfortunately the large majority of places I have seen do not yet. continue…

Why Stevia Is My Beverage Sweetener of Choice

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, I primarily used sugar to sweeten beverages. We’re talking high school.

When I entered the more calorie-conscious phase of my life, I started to explore my artificial sweetener options. I never liked using Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin) due to the “rat cancer” claim back in the day (although it no longer carries that warning). Equal (aspartame) seemed to be safer, right?

I like to think of myself as a pretty reasonable person. I understand that now the FDA recognizes aspartame as a safe, non-carcinogenic sweetener. I personally never loved the taste, nor the idea that it’s artificial.

Enter Splenda (sucralose). When Splenda came out, I was so happy. No longer would I have to use sugar to make a drink taste sweet, nor worry about recognized potential health consequences.

I had my suspicions about Splenda, though. I knew it was an artificial sweetener like the others. At this point it’s hard to know who to believe about what is safe or not, but we will have no idea of the long term repercussions of Splenda until 20 or so years into the future. I didn’t really feel like waiting around to find out the answer. continue…

The Christmas Tree Timeline: Is It Too Soon?

When I was growing up, we almost always had a real tree, even when we lived in Florida. I insisted on it.

When I lived in my first apartment, I went to a Christmas tree lot and got a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, even though I was going home for Christmas.

O Faux Christmas Tree

I resisted getting a fake for a while, but now I embrace it. Especially since we are usually traveling for at least one of the major holidays in November or December, it’s nice to be able to enjoy our tree in our home for more than just a few weeks. continue…

Tackling the Freezer Organization

“Kitchen, you are my nourishment center, I appreciate you!”

— Louise Hay in Loving Yourself to Great Health

I have been “meaning to” clean out the freezer ever since we moved into our house and got our new refrigerator, about a year and a half ago. I have never really felt like I had an organized freezer in all the places I have lived over the years.

I’ve cleaned out my freezers, but I have never thought about the freezer as being a place that can be organized into different areas like a drawer with dividers or a filing cabinet.

I cannot remember a time when I felt truly satisfied with the organization of my freezer. The freezer has always been more of an ice cold junk drawer than a place that brings me joy.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of joy as it relates to the items in my life. I decided that the contents of the freezer are as much items as socks and books.

They are different because they are more temporary. Or are they? Who doesn’t have a piece of mystery meat in the freezer that has been waiting to be eaten for longer than anyone can remember? continue…

Paper Organization, KonMari Style

After I graduated college and got a job in 2006, I got a two drawer filing cabinet for my apartment, determined to make sense of the piles of papers I had thrown into a hall closet to be dealt with at an undefined future date.

I read books about getting organized, my favorite of which was Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. I labored over what the right categories would be for all my personal papers.

I’m sure I got rid of a lot, but I still held on to plenty of papers unnecessarily. I was confused and uninformed. I didn’t know what was essential and what wasn’t essential. I held on to things because I thought I was supposed to. Out of fear that if I got rid of them that there would be regrets and consequences. continue…

Let Go To Make Space for Something New

“I promise you: whatever you let go will come back in exactly the same amount, but only when it feels the desire to return to you.” – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The other day I was thinking a lot about my recurring not-so-positive thoughts, and how they were not only annoying and driving me crazy, but holding me back from moving forward. This was spurred on by something I heard Esther Hicks say on her YouTube channel the day before.

I am always so focused on trying to think about what I want, I sometimes forget how detrimental it can be to let my thoughts spiral and dwell on things I don’t want. Abraham/Hicks was saying that you want to stop thinking about things you don’t want because that creates space for what you do want to come into your life.

I liked this perspective, because it takes the pressure off of trying to stay so focused on things that don’t appear to exist just yet. Rather than working so hard to trick myself all the time into thinking I’m already future me (which can also be fun), sometimes all that needs to be done is putting a stop to anything that is not that, or that goes against that.

A much simpler concept. Let go of what is not wanted first. continue…

The KonMari Method of Tidying Books

I love books. My favorite job ever was a student job working in the library at the University of Rhode Island (probably because I never worked a shift more than a few hours long), and my favorite task was taking a cart of books to be filed on the peaceful upper floors.

I still love going to bookstores and libraries, even though I usually get books online now. The library has seriously come a long way in a few short years in their ebook and audiobook offerings.

Still, it’s nice to keep a small collection of books that were purchased during the years of reading books not on electronic devices. I am not a huge re-reader of books, so the bookcase is more for decoration and the happy feeling it gives me to look over at it than functional. continue…

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

I like to get one pumpkin spice latte a year at Starbucks (or maybe two…or more. It depends on the year, I guess!). I don’t love that they don’t offer almond milk and that they use sugary pumpkin spice flavored syrup. I do love how their version tastes though!

Like many, I am a fall fanatic. As much as I love the Christmas season, I almost don’t want fall to end. Because fall means Christmas is still right around the corner. So I am trying to savor every morsel of this fall as it passes.

Which means pumpkin spice lattes! As many as I can stand – which is a lot. I have found that trying out different versions of the pumpkin spice latte is just as, if not more exciting than running out to Starbucks for their version.

My recipe is not perfect. Like almost everything we make in our kitchen, it is ever-evolving as we continue to find new ways to improve it. But since we are suddenly smack dab in the middle of this glorious fall season, I figured I better share it before drinking pumpkin flavored drinks is no longer in fashion for a whole nother year. continue…

The Life-Changing Magic of a Tidy Home

Having a completely organized life is one of my big dreams that has seemed just out of reach for years. I actually thought I was pretty organized when it came to physical items, and most people who visit my home would probably say that I am.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I finally get it. Being organized isn’t about organizing. It’s about learning to let go of the things that no longer bring us joy. The rest falls into place.

Marie Kondo refers to this process as tidying. This book is different from other books about organizing because it asks us to make decisions about the stuff in our homes based on one simple question: does it bring me joy? continue…

Short Attention Span? Try This.

Sometimes Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, our cell phones, YouTube, the internet in general, an inspired idea, and food, among an infinite list of potential things to do, are too tempting to ignore. A span of 20 minutes or however long we are trying to stay focused on something else (likely something else more worthwhile) may not be able to compete.

The List of Infinite Possibilities

When I sit down to write or do something that I would like to focus on for a period of time (usually 20 minutes to an hour), I am inevitably reminded of something from this list of infinite possibilities. I often find myself wandering to satisfy whatever curiosity of the moment has stricken.

I reason with myself that I have to do whatever it is in the moment or I might forget later, or that I will just check this one little thing and get back to work. We’ve all been there. You look up and wonder where the last 15 minutes or more went. And can’t believe that you got sucked in again to that fifth YouTube video, or are wondering how you suddenly caught up on the Facebook feed since yesterday. continue…

Meal Planning Mondays: Green Smoothie in a Jar

A few months ago, I posted an idea for storing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time in baggies in the freezer for the week. I loved the concept of having almost all smoothie ingredients portioned out in the freezer. I didn’t love using baggies.

As much as I intended to reuse the baggies, when it came time to make a smoothie little pieces of ingredients would get left behind in the bag. Since I wasn’t refilling the bag right then, I didn’t want to save the baggies for reuse later. So I almost always ended up throwing them away.

I hate to waste baggies, especially for something like this that I’m doing everyday. They are not good for the environment and I like to be independent of using disposable things like plastic grocery bags and baggies when possible.

Green Smoothie Ingredient Storage

I had gotten some canning jars to can lemon juice from the lemons growing on our lemon tree in the backyard, and got the idea to try the pint-sized canning jars for storing green smoothie ingredients. I tried one at first, and it worked like a charm! continue…

The Beauty of the Dry Cleaning Delivery Service

Sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. Call it lazy, or call it smart, but I love it when I discover that a business delivers – bonus points if they do it for free!

My latest delivery discovery is the dry cleaners. I have been going to this place for about a year. I mean, I have been procrastinating on going to this place on a regular basis for a year.

As much as I have tried to get into the routine of going once a week or once every few weeks, I have inevitably let the to-be-dry cleaned pile of clothes pile up to the point where the closets are getting low on supplies (mostly my fiancé’s work clothes).

I also have tried to get in the habit of ironing his clothes, but so far, I have proven to fail at that wifely duty. Sigh. continue…

A Healthy Smoothie for Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie Fanatics

Do you LOVE Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies and wish you could make a healthy smoothie that tastes just as yummy? You can!

I make a healthy peanut butter banana-based smoothie almost every afternoon when I’m home. It’s like the highlight of my afternoon.

In Tara Stiles’ book Make Your Own Rules Diet, she shares her version of a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie smoothie. Today, I share mine. continue…

Meal Planning: Breakfast Protein Smoothies

My favorite smoothie is my peanut butter banana smoothie and its yummy variations (my latest favorite will be posted tomorrow!).

My fiancé likes to drink protein smoothies for breakfast on days he goes to work. I don’t think it is necessarily for the taste. This is more of a utilitarian smoothie. I tried to do protein smoothies a while back when he got into them, but I couldn’t add enough peanut butter or bananas to mask the taste of the protein powder. We even tried to make a green smoothie with protein powder and almond milk once – I would warn you to not try this! You might be scarred for life!

The protein smoothie isn’t all that bad, and we have tried to add other ingredients to make it more palatable. I share this smoothie recipe not because I am particularly excited about this specific drink (can you tell?) but because I am so excited about the system I came up with for preparing the smoothies ahead of time so I could easily make them in the mornings without having to pull out 10 different things from the cabinet.

I came up with this idea after my idea of preparing green smoothie ingredients ahead of time and storing them in baggies in the freezer. As you will see, the ingredients for this particular smoothie are mostly dry, allowing them to be stored in an airtight container in the cabinet, simplifying the smoothie making process.

One day I was making a protein smoothie and figured I would try to see if the dry ingredients would fit into one of the cute little spice jars we are using for our labeled spice collection. They did! continue…

Need a super quick yoga routine?

Do you do want to practice yoga, but struggle to find the time to get to a yoga studio? While studios are great and live instructors invaluable for teaching proper technique and making pose adjustments, I think of yoga studios as supplemental to my  yoga practice at home.

I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years. I am by no means an expert. I started going to yoga at the gym in college just once a week. I played around with some of the poses at home occasionally, but didn’t have the confidence or resources to develop a true at-home practice.

Over the years, I continued to go to studios here and there, and probably have stretches of years where I didn’t step a toe in a studio. I also haven’t had a regular practice of daily at-home yoga until recent years.

Hulu and YouTube revived my yoga practice! For the longest time I did 20 minute videos by Yoga Zone on Hulu. They were my favorite. They don’t seem to be on Hulu anymore, but you can still find them on YouTube.

One of my greatest barriers to ensuring I do yoga just about everyday has been time. Some days 20 minutes for yoga just doesn’t seem feasible, especially when I really love my 20 minutes of meditation. Given the choice between practicing yoga or meditation, I will probably choose to meditate for 20 minutes and skip yoga that day.

Until now. continue…

4 Free Apps That Will Motivate You to Be Healthier

It’s exciting that there are so many ways for us to choose to be healthy, and probably just as many corresponding apps to track everything. Everyone has their own personal health and wellness goals. Having a plan is what makes those goals attainable.

My personal health and wellness plan rests on the foundation of daily yoga, meditation, and drinking lots of water. I continue to work at incorporating daily walking into my routine. Whether you have already developed your chosen healthy habits or are looking to step up your game, it’s probably a safe bet that a free app already exists to both motivate you and help track your progress.

Today I share my favorite health and wellness apps and a few more that might be interesting to try. continue…

Three Tips for Easily Maintaining a Decluttered Household While Saving on Taxes

Do you have a hard time getting rid of things, but desperately want a streamlined system for de-cluttering your home on a consistent basis? Or, does tax time come around, leaving you to guess what you donated to the Goodwill last June?

Today, I share three tips that I have come to integrate into my life to easily & quickly maintain a clutter free home and a current listing of items donated (& their individual values) for tax purposes. Aren’t you excited? continue…

What to Do with Old Holiday & Birthday Cards

What do you do with all those holiday and birthday cards you have received over the years? Do you keep them in an organized filing system organized by year, toss them in a drawer or box somewhere, eventually throw them away, or something else?

Today, I would like to share my system for keeping (kinda) old holiday & birthday cards. continue…

Green Smoothies: Simplified

Green smoothies are awesome. That’s a fact. They actually don’t even take all that much time to prepare, but sometimes in the morning pulling ten different items out of the fridge, freezer, and pantry isn’t the most appealing thing to do. Not to mention that time may not allow for such things.

I got the idea to pre-prep green smoothie ingredients in baggies and store them in the freezer in passing from another blog (I can’t remember who now!) several years ago. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to try it out.

I started with just two. I wanted to make sure that all the ingredients froze okay. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked! Even the avocado froze beautifully (while perfectly retaining its green hue).

A few weekends ago I decided to go for it and prepared five baggies of green smoothie ingredients for the week. I would have done ten, but I ran out of baggies. continue…

How to Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 2: Dishes & Refrigerator

The other week I mentioned that I noticed a renewed sense of clarity on keeping the kitchen cleaned & organized on a regular basis. Part 1 of this series focused on cleared countertops. Today, part 2 will focus on maintaining a clean, organized kitchen with specific attention to the status of the dishwasher and refrigerator contents.

A System for the Dishes

I feel like I have finally figured out my system for maintaining the dishes in a constant state of being washed or about to be washed without having the sink overflowing with dirty dishes. It might sound really simple, but sometimes it takes a lot of work to get to simple.

I have been obsessed with a rule of doing only my most important task first thing in the morning (after yoga and meditation) ever since I read Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less and other productivity books like Never Check E-Mail In the Morning by Julie Morgenstern. I don’t want to sacrifice that magical time when I might be able to write a blog post before the interruptions of the day inevitably set in.

But, there is a period of about 15 minutes first thing in the morning that I am in the kitchen making my tea, sometimes making coffee, and most recently making smoothies for the day. Over the past week, I started noticing that I can use the time in between making tea, coffee, and smoothies to empty out the dishwasher. continue…

How To Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 1: Countertops

Today I will be sharing how I have started to take control of our kitchen.

The control of the kitchen has been a long time coming, and it is not 100% done. But I now feel that I am in a place where I know how to get the kitchen in shape relatively quickly at any given time. And it feels amazing!

Cleared Countertops Make Me Smile

It is pretty standard to have “stuff” all over the kitchen countertops: toaster ovens, blenders, mail, sticky notes, keys, random papers, random tubes of chapstick, medicines…need I go on?

I wouldn’t diagnose myself as having OCD, just a love for clutter-free spaces for both spiritual and very practical reasons. A clutter-free area feels so zen to me. Like the feeling you get when you walk into a beautiful hotel suite. I want to feel like I am in a gorgeous, clutter-free hotel when I’m at home. Excepting a few drawers and closets that still need some work, I do!

On the practical side, it is so nice to be able to pull out all the ingredients for a recipe and be able to spread everything out on a countertop without having to do battle with the junk mail or some keys that no one knows what they go to. It also makes cleanup so much easier. Who wants to have to dust crummies off the junk mail after making dinner? No thank you!

With the exception of my new, beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer that was a Christmas gift this year, which is practically decoration as well as practical, all our small kitchen appliances and gadgets are stored in the cabinets. I will admit that this wasn’t originally my idea and at first I resisted, but now would have it no other way. Yes, I pull the Nutri-Bullet down from the cabinet a few times a day, but it doesn’t weigh much, and the rest of the time I have that space on the counter cleared for food prep.

Other than that, we have one decorative centerpiece on the island, and on the counters that we don’t use for food prep on one side of the kitchen, a picnic basket (for storage and decoration), a wine rack, a small container for wine-related tools and accessories, and a small plant.

Stuff, Clutter, & Emotions

I believe that there is an emotional component to clutter, or even just having things out. I think bare surfaces bring an initial level of discomfort that can prevent us from keeping a space free of clutter. It can at first feel uncomfortable, empty, and almost sterile to not have stuff everywhere. I know, because those were the feelings I experienced when I initially considered the prospect of not having a toaster or a blender out on the counter at all times.

As a person who grew up with a toaster and a blender and plenty of other stuff on the countertops at all times, and carried on the tradition in my own apartments, I can say that I LOVE having cleared countertops, and wouldn’t go back. Completely (almost) cleared countertops might not be your thing, and that is totally fine. But I think it is something worth considering if you find yourself shuffling things without a home around countertops day after day and have ever wondered if there is a better way.

There is. continue…

How Audio Books Can Help You Get Things Done

I used to think listening to audio books was somehow cheating, not giving the written words the full, undivided attention they deserve. Until I read The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen, founder of Levenger.

Prior to reading this little book, I had checked a few audiobooks out from the library and occasionally listened to them while driving, but still felt that the books I listened to somehow didn’t “count” as much as the ones I sat down and cleared uninterrupted time for.

After reading through Leveen’s tips for getting more reading into our lives, I had a new perspective, and was convinced that books listened to have the same weight and merit as books read visually.

Audio Books & Productivity

Even just a few years ago audio books weren’t as accessible as they are today. With apps like Audible and Overdrive and the prevalence of smartphones, audio books are more accessible and versatile than ever. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, with Overdrive, you can easily listen to library audio books through your computer.

When there is something to do that I don’t particularly want to do, like ironing, yard work, washing the dog, and sometimes preparing dinner, I often psych myself up for the task with the thought that I get to listen to my current audio book. One of the best things about audio books is that they allow you to multitask on things that don’t take too much thought. continue…

How To Get One Step Ahead

As a recovering procrastinator, I am all too familiar with the unpleasant feeling of constantly being a step behind, five minutes late, or scrambling to finish something at 11:45 p.m. I feel tense just thinking about it.

I think about how if I can be one step behind, why can’t I be just one step ahead instead? I know there is a lot of psychology involved with procrastination, but all of that aside, practically speaking, why can’t something or someone be early instead of late?

Bottom line: it is possible. It is possible for people who find themselves chronically late with arriving places or turning things in or getting things done to eventually, one day, find themselves to be people who are chronically early and turning things in and getting things done ahead of schedule.

Sigh of relief.

The Feeling of Being A Step Behind

The biggest drawback of being behind that jumps out at me is the constant nagging thought track that keep coming to mind the whole time something isn’t getting done. If I have something that is about to be overdue, my mind will not let it go.

It’s a major energy drain. Not to mention: What You Focus On Expands. As in, thinking about constantly being late and behind is pretty much a guarantee that you will continue to be late and behind. Kind of guaranteed! continue…

Ask Yourself This One Question To Beat Procrastination

The ironing piled up, the yard is an overgrown mess, and it’s tax time and none of the required documentation is in order. Or insert whatever your least favorite tasks might be.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Who ever really feels like weeding the yard, ironing, or doing the taxes?

Whether the next task calling my name is unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry,  or making a phone call to make an appointment, when “I’ll do it later” enters my mind, I ask myself one question (which I learned from reading Julie Morgenstern’s books): continue…

Feel Good Financial Planning: Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup

“To have a good relationship with money, you must know who you are and what your purpose is in this world.” – Money, a Love Story by Kate Northrup

Organize your life. Sounds like it should be so simple, right? But to reclaim our own attention and time for long enough to make progress in the areas that we feel called to can be more challenging than it sounds.

Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup takes a spiritual approach to deal with the practical aspects of achieving personal freedom. I read this book concurrently with The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard (as much as I try to read only one book at a time, sometimes I just can’t help myself!).

This was a perfect self-help book pairing. The Motivation Manifesto gears us up to claim our personal freedom, while Kate Northup provides practical tips for taking steps to ensure that the financial foundation is in place to live a truly free life.

Spiritual Finances

This book approaches personal finance from a spiritual perspective. Kate Northrup takes the spiritual principles we have read about in other self-help books, and applies them specifically to the process of creating financial freedom.

Money, A Love Story demystifies the whole concept of money that we humans have come up with. In its simplest form, money is a symbol of trading value for value. When we present our earned money to the world, we are exchanging it for something that we are assigning value to. Likewise, when we earn money, we are being valued for the services we provide to the world.

Kate Northrup authentically opens up about her own financial path of going into credit card debt and finding her way out through the spiritual process she shares in this book.

What You Will Learn

This book taught me to provide value to the world in a way that makes me feel good while helping other people. I learned that working in a stressed out, frantic, chaotic manner, something I once mistakenly believed others value, is not making the world a better place. So, what’s the point? I now refuse to provide value while feeling stressed out or devalued. I simply refuse!

Here are a few more money lessons: continue…

Create a Yoga Room in Your Home

The appearance of a space affects how we feel. External clutter makes me feel unsettled, knowing that things are out of place and have not yet been dealt with. Clutter or junk in a space represents unfinished tasks and forces our brains to constantly reconsider and recalculate when we will deal with them. Ugh!

Organized Space

Organized spaces. Ah. An organized space makes me feel like I can take a big deep breath. I might as well be relaxing on the beach in an organized room.

One of my someday dreams is to have a ballet studio type room, like the one Hannah has in the movie Troop Beverly Hills; not for  dance or gymnastics, but as dedicated space to do yoga, meditate, and any other activities of wellness someone might want to do. Feeling zen all the while.

The room would have hardwood floors, a mirrored wall, yoga mats, and some yoga props. Very uncluttered. Very zen.

Undefined Space

I grew up in a house with an “extra” room. This room didn’t have one specific purpose, other than to be the room I slept in sometimes if we had a guest, who we would give my room to (because it was more accomodating than said “extra” room).

From my own experience, I can only suspect that there are a good number of households with such an “extra” room, or other type of “extra” space that isn’t exactly defined in its purpose.

The problem with not defining the purpose of a space is that it can become a catch-all for the clutter in the house that hasn’t yet been dealt with. Especially when it comes time for company to come over. Kind of like the garage. No time to deal with this pile of stuff now. Let’s just put it in the extra room for now.

Dedicated Space

Our “yoga room” is my favorite room in the house (well, besides the kitchen). I don’t quite have the complete in-home yoga studio, but it is close enough for me! The room has a very simple layout with a few essentials: continue…

A Take on Eggless Egg Nog

I LOVE egg nog. Anything holiday, really. Ok, it’s more the idea of egg nog than the actual thick dairy beverage that I love, when I think about it. When egg nog is out at the grocery stores, it’s holiday time!

So, the holidays are over. But that doesn’t mean the delicious flavor profile of egg nog has to be packed away with the Christmas tree for 11 more months.

In Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles, there is a recipe called Eggless Egg Nog. I was really excited about this one, and it lived up to my expectations. I made some modifications to the original recipe (substituted stevia for maple syrup and decreased the amounts on the spices). If you like egg nog, you might want to give this smoothie a try!

Modified Recipe

Today I was feeling inspired to have some kind of refreshing banana-based smoothie around noon. I have been putting raw sunflower seeds in my green smoothies and really love the mild hint of flavor they add. I decided to decrease the amount of cashews in Tara Stiles’ version, and added in some sunflower seeds. It was yummy!

Here is my new take on the Eggless Egg Nog (note: I don’t get too concerned with exact ingredient amounts when making smoothies – it’s fun to throw whatever you feel like in the mix and see what happens! You can usually fix it if something is off – the biggest thing I would warn against is not adding too much stevia; less is more when it comes to stevia):

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • About a quarter cup of raw sunflower seeds
  • About a quarter cup of raw cashews
  • 1 banana
  • Almond milk (add last – enough to cover all ingredients and almost all of the ice cubes)
  • Cinnamon (about a quarter teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg (about a quarter teaspoon)
  • Vanilla (about a half teaspoon)
  • stevia (about a half scoop if you are using Kal Pure Stevia Extract Powder)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • water

Directions

Add chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews to your mixer (I use a NutriBullet). Add enough water to cover the ingredients, and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend until smooth.

This smoothie is so easy to make. You don’t need to add the sunflower seeds. If you don’t have any on hand, add more cashews. And if you don’t have cashews, use peanut butter. Get creative! I had been making peanut butter banana smoothies for about a year before discovering that cashews could also be used in banana smoothies to give them a whole new personality. Add a few traditional egg nog spices, and you’ve got yourself a holiday treat to enjoy all year long (if you are anything like me and pretty much celebrate Christmas year round).

If you try this smoothie, or have other smoothie tips, please share your thoughts!

Kitchen Labeling Series: How to Create a Customized Spice Collection

Have you ever dreamed of having a beautiful, customized spice collection, complete with pretty labels and the flexibility of adding any new spice at any time that will still match all the other pretty spice jars? If so, this post is for you!

I always wanted a cool spice rack that contained all the essentials (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, basil, etc.) with the flexibility of adding additional spices down the road. I would look at the spice collections on display at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but could never bring myself to purchase one.

All of the pre-made spice collections I have seen don’t come with the option of adding in another spice should the need arise. So then you have a beautiful spice collection, and a few random spices jammed in the cabinet that don’t fit in. Where is the fun in that?

This gorgeous spice collection has been in the making for several years, and has evolved through a previous iteration involving magnetic spice tins with printed sticker labels. I won’t lie: there was nothing cheap about this creation, nor was there any time saved in the process.

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

organized spice collectionWe are fortunate to now have this large drawer that turned out to be perfect for storing the chosen spice jar design (RSVP Big Mouth Airtight Glass Spice Jar, Set of 6) and displaying the beautiful labels designed by Super Sweet Life. If you are thinking of creating your own spice collection, here are a few things to consider: continue…

The Easiest Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe Ever!

I love peanut butter. Don’t you? If so, you probably also love peanut butter cookies, but their excessive empty calories? Not so much. I was introduced to this fabulous healthy peanut butter cookie recipe by a friend. I slightly modified the original 2 ingredient recipe by adding a sweetener. Still, a cookie recipe with only three ingredients? Certainly worth a try! continue…

Waffles Can Be Your Best Friend Again!

It can be frustrating living in the land of gluten and carbs. I want to enjoy the comfort of flour based foods, but I also want my pants to fit. Who doesn’t want these things? This is why we are constantly trying new recipes that use “alternative” flours (why can’t we just replace all the white flour in the world with almond, hazelnut, and coconut flour, I would like to know?!).

I shied away from making this one for a few weeks. A recipe with more than four ingredients intimidates me, especially anything more complex than the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie bag.

When I finally came around and gave it a try, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the most complex step was remembering to add in the cream of tartar to the egg whites and waiting out the egg white stiff peaks to form.

We recently acquired a nice waffle iron, and this recipe makes the best waffles. I would even go so far as to say they are better than Eggos!

I haven’t tried the pancake version yet. Since we have the waffle iron we will probably stick to waffles, because what is more fun than waffles with the little syrup holders built right in? This recipe makes exactly enough to fill one waffle machine, so it is perfect for serving two. We added a sprinkling of frozen blueberries last time, which made them even more awesome! continue…

Stop Right There: Do Less, Accomplish More

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
― Confucius

We are busy. We have bottomless to-do lists and nonstop days. How’s a girl supposed to get it all done?

Ever think about how there might be pockets of time in the day that go unaccounted for? We work so hard to get it all done and be perfectly on time, all the while appearing fabulous. But what if we didn’t have to try so hard? What if, by choosing to do fewer things, we could achieve more, and have a few minutes to spare?

 

In this post, I will share 3 things you can give yourself permission to stop doing right now, giving you more time to be the awesome, sparkling goddess you always knew you could be. continue…

Wedding Planning Wednesdays: A New, Calm, Less Stress Approach

Over the past few weeks, I have calmed down a bit on the feeling that I am not on task with wedding planning. This is partly due to a recent revelation that we might be able to hold the wedding weekend at one location that is experienced in hosting weddings, rather than trying to coordinate multiple venues.

Last week we were contacted by the location where we got engaged. I told myself I would check into it, even though I figured it would be way too expensive.

After speaking with the catering sales manager at L’auberge, I was starting to feel much more content about the idea of working with one single location that has already crafted wedding packages, and that we know will do an over-the-top amazing job with every detail they touch based on our experience with our engagement weekend (oh, and did I mention they have free yoga?).

Planning Progress Status Update

Here are the items from my to-do list last Wedding Planning Wednesday and my progress so far: continue…

Weekly Meal Planning Progress & Cauliflower Taco Shells

Last week my healthy weekly meal plan came crashing down on Wednesday evening. Overcome by work-related tasks, I succumbed to the ease of ordering quesadilla explosion salads at Chili’s after a long afternoon of task-mastering at the Starbucks conveniently located in the same plaza as Chili’s.

After that, I lost my low-carb cooking momentum, and proceeded to order in pizza on Thursday, Chinese on Friday, and calzones on Saturday. Ugh.

What Didn’t Work

I recognize that I had a choice. I was the one who chose to order in when I could have chosen to make the zucchini lasagna, shrimp cauliflower stir fry, or almond flour pizza. However, I believe that the short term consequences to my physical health aside, I made the right choice for my mental sanity. So that’s something. continue…

A Slice of Zen in the Kitchen

An organized, zenified spice collection has been a dream of ours for quite a while. Now that we are in our new house, we are grateful to have the space to organize them in drawers with the labels on top of the jars for easy access.

This project has been a long time in the making. I ordered the labels last year, but after I ordered a few jars in another style, I came to realize that they were out of stock and that I wouldn’t be able to complete the project with the original jars. Then our move happened, and labeling spice jars took a backseat to many other tasks.

The new jars came in last week, but I feared that I would procrastinate on the project for months. This morning, I didn’t think I would make the time today to label spice jars, but knowing that I had to organize a small area of the home for today’s Blogust post got me motivated.

I am only about halfway done with this project. In the time it took to watch a few episodes of House Hunters on Hulu and three 80’s movies on Netflix, I labeled about half of the spice jars. I would consider that a productive Saturday night!

This is only the beginning of the zenification of our kitchen. I have yet to finish the spice jar labels, and similar labeling for other stock kitchen items including oils, vinegars, dry baking ingredients, coffee, and nuts. I will go into more details in an upcoming post of where we got the labels on Etsy and where we ordered the jars from on Amazon in case anyone is interested.

Today’s post is pretty short since it is getting late on Saturday night, but I will be back with another post tomorrow! Happy Blogust!

The Perfect Afternoon Snack

It’s 2 p.m. You’re feeling the urge to eat something sweet, even though you aren’t really hungry if you think about it. Still, a snack would be nice. What to do?

My answer is very likely to whip up a Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. After doing the prep work ahead of time (which isn’t much), I can make one of these in about five minutes. It is so good, it’s worth the extra effort to make it happen rather than reaching for something less nutritious. continue…

Green Smoothies & Juice On the Go

I got into making green smoothies in the NutriBullet earlier this year. I still don’t make them every single day, but most weekdays I am in the routine of making a green smoothie in the morning.

I have debated over whether to invest in a juicer. We had a juicer growing up, and I remember the mess it created with all the gross pulp. The cleanup made the whole process so much more labor intensive. With the NutriBullet, I can just put what I want in the cup, blend it for less than a minute, and be done! The only cleanup is a quick rinse of the blending cup and blade.

I would imagine the juicers today are much more user-friendly that the Juice Tigers and Juice Mans of yore, but for now I have settled on an alternative plan to at-home juicing. Perhaps someday I will become a more serious juicer and invest in one of these machines.

The Joy of Juice Bars

The first real juice place I visited was The Green Fork in New Orleans. I am sure I have lived within driving distance of these types of places for years, but never gave them a second thought. Despite my familiarity with carrot-apple juice, the idea of juiced vegetables usually turned my stomach and I didn’t give them a chance. continue…

How to Manage Email by Reducing, Not Reading

It is liberating to click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of a recurring promotional email that has bombarded your inbox for far too long. I have learned from Julie Morgenstern that holding on to outdated things has an energy that can hold us back in life. One of my motivations for living a more simplified life is to clear out all that stagnant energy that might be holding me back from making meaningful changes. I saw my email inbox as one of these areas that could use an overhaul. Today, I share the details of my journey in unsubscribing from over 130 different companies and services. 

continue…

More Email Than You Can Read? There’s a Better Way

Do you know how many email subscriptions you have?

I didn’t. Turns out, I had over 130. After switching from Gmail to Microsoft Outlook recently, I have been keeping busy spring cleaning out my email inbox over the past few weeks. I am proud to say that I recently re-established my zeroed-out inbox, and wanted to share my new and improved process in a short series of posts. continue…

Moving Series: How to Plan a House Search

Whenever I start out on some big overwhelming project, I usually waste a lot of time in the beginning because I just jump in without having a system. The problem is, when it is something I haven’t done before (or haven’t set up a system for before), I have no idea what I am doing.

I recently started a house search, but at the beginning I didn’t have a well thought out plan of how to keep track of everything. After going through several systems, I finally settled on one that works a few weeks ago and wanted to share with anyone else who might find it to be useful for a current or future house search. continue…

5 Things to Do While Waiting in Line at the Post Office

Over the past several years I have come to realize that going to the post office is not my favorite thing to do in the world. The crazy long line and lack of air conditioning aren’t even the worst of it. Somehow, people just seem to be angry over there.

I cringe whenever I hear someone raise their voice or berate a postal worker (which usually happens at least once while I am there). I am not sure exactly what it is – perhaps the long line or lack of air conditioning are contributing factors to the anger? Or, maybe these people are just angry in general, waiting to lash out at whoever is there to take it?

As much as I feel for the people working at the post office when these unpleasant outbursts occur, I no longer feel the need to expose myself to the postal patrons’ anger. Never again will I enter the post office without my headphones. In case you find yourself having to go to the post office during the peak of business and frustration, here are a few ideas of things to do to pass the time and block out the negativity: continue…

How to Use Evernote to Organize Your Taxes

I am no tax expert. When I think about doing taxes, I always remember the episode of Roseanne where they have an overflowing shoebox full of receipts on tax day. Or the free Dunkin Donuts at the post office at midnight on April 15th when I was a kid. Apparently there are rewards for waiting until the last minute!

I am still waiting around until the last minute to figure out what I am going to do, despite my best intentions to be more on top of things.  I would like to think I am not the only one still operating this way, so on the chance that I am not alone in this, I figured I would share the system I started this year (ok, a few days ago) in an effort to get organized. continue…

Moving Series: How to Use Evernote to Coordinate a Move

Evernote has come to be my constant planning and idea capturing companion. When it came to all the little things that add up to the one big thing that is a household move, I immediately turned to my friend Evernote to help me manage it all.

A move is not just one day that happens and then goes away nicely. There are weeks and possibly months of planning and preparations leading up to the big day, and then more weeks and possibly months to follow filled with remaining transition-type tasks and activities.

I have written a lot previously about my hipster and how the Evernote app serves as my one single planner in life. For the move, I am using my reminders and rituals notebooks to keep track of tasks I want to make sure get done. My boyfriend Michael and I also have a few shared notebooks which are helpful for storing information we both want to be able to access.

Today I will go through each of my current Evernote notebooks that contain information related to the move, and how they are being used. continue…

Moving Series: How to Pack Up a House with Only 3 Boxes

I have been collecting boxes and packaging materials for the past three years in anticipation of an eventual move. When the time finally came, there were only three boxes from the liquor store (the kind with the built in dividers) put to use.

Confessions of an Over-Categorizer

moving

When the prospect of moving became a near-future reality, I became giddy with ideas of color-coded and labeled boxes. Although I was reigned in a bit, I still went a little label crazy. I printed about ten sheets of (pretty, if I do say so) labels, and then proceeded to put together about twenty broken down boxes.

Fortunately I hadn’t gotten too far into the craziness when it was pointed out to me that pretty much everything we own is already in a box. Couldn’t we just move everything in it’s already storage container or pack the stuff into one of the compartments our furniture already had to offer? I was intrigued. continue…

Moving Series: 15 Things to Pack Last

I am in the middle of a move, and recently completed the packing up the old house leg of the move. While it is fresh in my mind, I wanted to share the list of things that I wished I would have left out until the end. A few of these we were smart enough or lucky enough to have left out, but unfortunately we were scrambling around with a few bloody fingers, packing up dirty table tops, and throwing loose screws haphazardly into boxes near the end.

Don’t let this happen to you! Next time we move, I will definitely have a container marked “Pack Last”, including the following: continue…

Guest Bathroom Organization

I believe that the bathroom is a sanctuary. There, I said it. It is the place we go to get ready to go out and face the world and to restore ourselves after a long day. Why not make the surroundings pleasant?

I have wanted to organize the upstairs bathroom in my parents’ house every time I have visited. I searched for the right containers at Bed Bath & Beyond but couldn’t find the just-right sized containers I was looking for.

This bathroom is spacious and gets used primarily when there are guests staying in the upstairs, which consists of 3 bedrooms and a loft living area. Quite a few guests come to stay throughout the year, especially since they are located near Disney!

Organizing the Mess Under the Sink

guest-bathroom-organization

I personally have issues with stuff just being thrown in the bathroom cabinet. It makes me crazy to have to sort through disposable razors and bottles of hair products to get to a bottle of lotion.

Most of the products in this bathroom have been left behind by guests for the next person to use, and some things are just there in case someone forgets something. There wasn’t a whole lot to organize, but I still wanted to get some containers to shape up the place. continue…

How to Make Healthy Snickerdoodles

I wanted to share a recipe I have grown to love after several experiments gone awry over the past year. This is the first truly healthy and easy cookie recipe that I have found that actually tastes good and satisfies the cookie craving.

This recipe is adapted from a Low Carb Snickerdoodles recipe posted on Food.com. The original recipe uses Splenda and brown sugar. In my quest to not consume artificial sweeteners or caloric sugar and still enjoy sweet things, I originally attempted to make this recipe using stevia.

After several (in my opinion) failed experiments with using stevia as the sweetener, I was happy to find Just Like Sugar as a better tasting sugar substitute for baking (also available at Whole Foods and through Amazon). The problem with using stevia was that it overtook the flavor of the whole cookie, it was way too sweet, and the tiny volume that I could use for the whole cookie recipe made the final volume of cookie dough too small. continue…

How To Choose What To Do Next

“Don’t force it.” – one of my friends

In any given moment, we are faced with countless choices: what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, what to say, what to think, what to do… and on and on. Having a regular schedule and goals are great, but if something on the menu of choices doesn’t excite and energize, then it is time to find new options.

Do What Energizes You

I have recently been experimenting with choosing my next task based on what I am most excited in the moment to work on. For example, if my choices are to work on my blog, read a book, and wash the dog, I am trying to stop and think about which one I am most excited about working on/completing in the moment. Some days the idea of having a clean dog is the one that makes me feel most energized, while others it might be the idea of completing a blog post.

This is a much more fun way to live than in the “I have to” state of mind, as in, “I have to wash the dog” even though I want to lay down and read a book. Even better is when I can find some kind of creative compromise between the thing I have to do and the thing I want to do. Some days the idea of washing the dog while listening to an audio book sounds like the perfect plan. continue…

Giving Gifts of Zenification

I received my first “gift of zenification” for Christmas last year. Since then, I have really liked the idea of giving this type of gift, but struggled for a while to get myself together to plan far enough in advance to complete the gift in time.

What is a gift of zenification?

collage - gift of zen - menus

The phrase “gift of zenification” was introduced to me last Christmas when Michael gave me the card pictured above as a gift. He had scanned in the pile of takeout menus that were sitting in a drawer in our kitchen to Evernote. Each menu is now in a notebook called “Culinary – Menus” in Evernote, with one menu to a note (the menus weren’t already available online). continue…

A Healthier Version of Hot Cocoa

‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, among many other sweet treats that taste yummy but are not so forgiving to the delicate waistline. Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy a grown-up version of hot chocolate that I think tastes just as good as the kiddie version and that doesn’t break the calorie bank.

collage - hot cocoa time - logo & numbered continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Closet Organization Part 2

“If your room looks a bit barren, that’s a good thing.” – The Art of the Visit: Being the Perfect Host, Becoming the Perfect Guest, by Kathy Bertone

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

Today I will finish up the tour of the Angels’ Den with a description of how I have organized the remaining storage units in the closet, starting with the cubes on the left (facing) side of the closet. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Closet Organization Part 1

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

I am wrapping up the series on the Angels’ Den with an in-depth tour of the closet. It is just a standard bedroom closet, so there is not much depth of space beyond what you would need to hang clothes, but the vertical storage has gone a long way in maximizing the amount of stuff that can be stored here in an organized way. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Angels’ Den Additional Storage & Decor

“You deserve to have everything in your life exactly the way you want it.”How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

Click here for an introduction to the Angels’ Den if you have no idea what it is.

The Angels’ Den is so special to me because it is the space in our house that I can call all my own and decorate and organize in whatever way I want. Although the closet is the bulk of my organization system in the Angels’ Den (which I will go through in detail next time), other areas of the room also serve as storage for a few items that either don’t fit in the closet or just don’t make sense to be in there. continue…

Extra Room Organization Series: Introducing the Angels’ Den

Some people refer to their extra room that they use for projects as a “craft room”, and others simply call the room where they have dedicated work space an office. It is also common to use an extra room in a home as a guest room. Many times there is room available to convert into a functional space, but rather than being a peaceful place the space becomes a catchall for junk.

It takes a lot of work to convert an extra room into an enjoyable place, but it is so worth it. My room (not my bedroom, but an extra room) has been in the making for the past several years, and will continue to improve as time goes on. What can I say? I LOVE my room! I have never loved a room more.

The Making of the Angels’ Den

I don’t like calling my room my office, even though it is where I spend most days since I work from home. The room does have a bed (more on that soon!), but it is so much more than just a guest room. I am not really a crafter, although I do enjoy crocheting. Besides writing and working on my blog, I mostly like to work on organizing. Is that a craft?

Michael also has a room in our home that is dedicated just for his things. There is a Canadian version of the reality entrepreneur show Shark Tank called Dragons’ Den. After watching many episodes of that show, somehow it caught on that we referred to his room as the Dragons’ Den. Before we knew it we were referring to my room as the the Angels’ Den and I guess it stuck! continue…

Car Maintenance Organiziation

I have gone major Blogtober MIA. I am trying to think of something special to do to make up for it as Blogtober draws to a close over the next week!

An organization project that has been on my mind for quite some time is how to organize car maintenance documentation. This project is somewhat of a companion to glove compartment organization, as the glove compartment tends to become the catchall for car maintenance documents.

I am not particularly passionate about car maintenance, but I am passionate about organization. I am finding that just about any undesirable task can become fun when placed into the context of something else you actually care about. For me, that something else is figuring out how to organize things in a way that is user-friendly and makes sense to me. continue…

Garage Organization Project: It’s a Start

I kind of love cleaning out garages. When I go for walks and other people’s garage doors are up, I always have to look in because I am so curious what they look like. Some are pretty organized with shelves and storage bins, and some are major disaster areas. I hate to call someone out, but there is at least one garage near me that is packed from the house right up to the garage door. I don’t even think there is a path to walk through!

Now is the Time

Our garage really isn’t all that bad, but it could use some work. We have only lived here for a few years, so there isn’t a crazy amount of stuff accumulated out there. Even so, recently I have been thinking about what organizing projects I would like to complete and the garage is definitely on the list.

It is the perfect time of year for garage organization. The weather is just right for being outside, and with the holidays coming up, I would love to get everything organized to make the Christmas decorating time this year much more enjoyable. It has been on my mind for a few weeks now, but I keep telling myself I don’t really have time to take on such a large project with all of the other things I am trying to get done on top of working full-time.

Yesterday I decided that it is very unlikely that I am going to just happen across this blissful day where I have nothing else to do but organize the garage before Thanksgiving. I will just have to make the time to do it. continue…

Email Miniseries: Reducing the Clutter

To wrap up the Email Miniseries, I would like to focus on the concept of excess items in an email inbox as clutter, and ideas to minimize the clutter. Think of your email inbox as a messy (or very messy, depending on the number of emails in the inbox) room or garage.

Close your eyes and picture a garage that is a total disaster area. How does it make you feel? Now, take that same garage and imagine it perfectly cleaned out and organized. Perhaps there is an item or two that has just been in use out of place, but otherwise, everything is in order. It is your dream garage.

Now think of your email inbox. How does it make you feel? Before I started clearing my email inbox to empty, I always felt like I was missing something, or emails that didn’t make me feel particularly good would subtly haunt me while they sat there. I never felt in control. It was very unsettling.

If you feel completely overwhelmed by an email inbox, there is an answer. continue…

Email Miniseries: There is a Better Way

The problem of email overload is multifaceted and extremely varied between and within individuals. A person with a full-time job probably faces different email challenges from even a part-time employee, and the nature of a person’s work will also factor into the equation of how much email is delivered to them on average in a day. The majority of us also have to deal with managing personal email accounts, which come with a whole separate set of challenges than those of the workplace. Although there are still some people who don’t have a personal email account (who I am starting to think are actually the smart ones), it is pretty uncommon, and probably looked at as being a little weird. Well, whoever said being weird was wrong?

Take Leo Babauta, for example. This man is one of my heroes. He went from being out shape, in debt, and a slave to his job, to being this zen guru who runs everyday, lives debt free, and creates his own work, running amazing, successful blogs with millions of followers of his thoughts on the simple way of life. He writes about simple email in his book The Power of Less. He is now to the point where he doesn’t even have an email account, but he still makes it in this world. Funny, huh?

I am not planning on giving up my email accounts anytime soon (although I am not convinced that would be the worst thing in the world), but I have come up with my own plan to manage the constant stream of thoughts and ideas that are delivered to me on a daily basis. continue…

Email Miniseries: You’ve Got Way Too Much Mail

The email series will be more of a miniseries, but I figured I had so many things to say about email that it wouldn’t all fit into one post.

Does anyone else ever feel totally defeated and beaten down by their email inbox(es)? I can’t be the only one. I am one person, and my email inbox is 100 people asking for a piece of me, my life, my time, my soul. Okay, so it’s not quite that dramatic anymore, but I have lived through my own personal email black hole. I often wonder what other people’s inboxes look like when I send an email. Isn’t that weird? I ask myself, how do they do it?

What’s in your email inbox?

Emails can fall into one or more of the following categories: tasks, reference material, and unnecessary communication. As managers of often multiple email inboxes, it is our job to identify which type of information we are dealing with, and move each item along to its final destination as quickly as possible. An email inbox is a queue to process just as a task list is. It is not a filing system. continue…

The Bliss of Zero Email

I watched the movie You’ve Got Mail the other day. I love that movie, and it is pretty funny to remember how email used to be at that time when it was so new: a concept that was more of a novelty than an obligation. Somewhere within the past fifteen years email inboxes have exploded into completely unmanageable hosts for information and digital communication overload. continue…

Glove Compartment Organziation

I recently got in the mood to organize my car glove compartment. When I got my new car insurance card the other day, I opened the glove compartment and started going through the contents, and decided I would like to get that place organized once and for all. Plus, it is starting to feel like fall, so car organization was a good excuse to get outside!

I did a major glove compartment clean out a few years ago when I started getting serious about going paperless. I decided I probably didn’t need all the papers in the glove compartment and discovered that I didn’t even know what half the stuff in there was. The car actually used to be my parents’, and I even discovered papers from previous cars that they no longer owned! Shocking! I scanned in whatever I felt might be useful someday (update: I have never once referred to any of those papers that I scanned in) and trashed whatever was no longer relevant. Below I have detailed what I decided to let go of from that space and what I decided to keep in the glove compartment. continue…

Hipster Series: Wrap Up

To wrap up the Hipster Series, I figured I would go through the remaining types of information I am using my hipster to record. Here is a look at how my hipster notebook stack is set up in Evernote:

photo

 In my Hipster: An Overview post, I listed the other categories of information I am tracking in my hipster, and explained how I use the “-Blank” notebook as a designated place to record incoming bits of information that I am not sure what to do with at the moment. Having this notebook actually helped me to determine an extra category that I decided to add to my hipster. continue…

Hipster Series: Other Categories of Rituals

“Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.” – unknown

Just as there is a flow of stuff in our lives, there is a flow of tasks. Many tasks change hands multiple times, and while they do not require our constant attention, they often need to remain within our peripheral awareness while they are in someone else’s hands. Within my rituals lists, I am keeping track of a few additional types of information that I wanted to keep up with on a regular basis but didn’t want to have to go looking for in another separate list. continue…

Hipster Series: Turning To-Do List Items into Rituals

“It’s easier to take a small action now instead of a big action ’some day.’” – posted at Marc and Angel Hack Life

These days I have four primary lists that I track my to-do items on each day:

1. Reminders

2. Reminders – Weekday

3. Rituals

4. Rituals – Weekday

I previously explained how I use my reminders lists here. Today I am going to go into more detail about how I have come to create my rituals lists. continue…

Hipster Series: Transformation of a To-Do List

Keeping tracking of everything that has to be done is no small feat. Not having a properly functioning system to track the things I have to do has always really bothered me. I have kept to-do lists for a long time, but not until recently have I started to figured out a way to actually get the things they contain done.

From a Loooong To-Do List to a Short Reminders List

Since I started recording my recurring tasks on my rituals list, the reminders list has become super short. Right now I am maintaining two reminders lists: Reminders & Reminders – Weekday. continue…

Hipster Series: Task List Categories

The functional component of any planner is the task list. There are all kinds of things we have to do in life. After battling my need to over-categorize, I have come to realize that designating tasks as belonging to either one or the other of two major categories is the best system for me.

New vs. Recurring Tasks

It took me a long time to realize that the majority of tasks I need to get done on a daily basis are things I have already done before. New tasks that we haven’t done before can seem intimidating at first, and often overwhelming. The good news is that once something has been done once, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. I also noticed that many new tasks become recurring tasks, so they can easily fit into an overall system of recurring activities that are familiar and not so overwhelming. continue…

Hipster Series: Paper vs. Digital Planners

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” C. JoyBell C.

I am addicted to lists. I love making them, re-writing them, and especially crossing things off of them. If you are not familiar with the hipster, I have written an overview post here. The hipster series will be a series of posts going more in-depth into the categories of lists that I keep in my hipster. First, I wanted to talk about my thoughts on paper-based vs. digitized planners. continue…

Monthly Review: September

At the beginning of September, I posted about my fall seasonal review. The seasonal review is a time to reflect on how the previous season went with respect to personal goals, and to then look forward to plans for the upcoming season.

Getting into the habit of having a weekly review was one of my New Year’s resolutions this year. I tried to get into the routine of a weekly review during the first part of this year, but for a variety of reasons it just didn’t seem to work out. Instead, I came up with the idea of thinking of my life in seasons, hence the seasonal review.

Today I am in the mood to do a monthly review and check in with my fall season plans that I made in the beginning of September. I know I haven’t done everything I said I would from the beginning of the fall, but I do feel like I have developed some good habits, which I attribute to the fall seasonal review. continue…

Fall Seasonal Review

The fall is my favorite season. Just thinking about my plans for this fall makes me happy. Pumpkin spice latte’s at Starbucks, red and yellow leaves, sweater weather, Christmas decorations at the stores…what’s not to like?

As I have mentioned before, I have decided to get my life more organized by breaking down my recurring to-do items by frequency as appropriate, such as daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and yearly. I have read so many books about productivity, but never really felt like I could truly be the productive, organized person I wanted to be. It all just seemed to be too much to tackle.

Although I have spent years trying to develop just the right systems that work for me, I have recently started reflecting on how to develop my own systems as the person I want to be, rather than who I think other people want me to be. This has freed up a lot of time and energy that I used to spend worrying about what other people think that I can now put towards my own goals and dreams. continue…

Daily Planner in Your Pocket: The Hipster

Planners have been an obsession of mine for quite some time. My first “hipster” was given to me as a birthday present a few years ago. The idea of a hipster is that you can completely customize a compact collection of information that you want to carry around with you at all times without the organizational limitations and expense of buying a planner.

I personally still like to call my system my “hipster” even though I have now transitioned to a digital platform, mostly because I think the name is cute and cool. Anyone could create their own homemade planning system and call it whatever they want. The point is to create something that you want to use, because that increases the likelihood that it will serve the purpose it intended: to make your life more simple, efficient, and peaceful.

Originally, my hipster was paper-based and had many categories. At the time that I first started using it, I did not yet have an iPhone. I had previously been using a Franklin-Covey planner system, and although I loved my planner and lived by it, my life felt extremely chaotic. Don’t get me wrong, my hipster wasn’t responsible for removing the chaos from my life, I did that after extensive personal reflection and carefully planned out choices, but the hipster now plays an even more effective role in my life now that I feel more connected to the categories it contains and the types of information I allow to get recorded in that place. continue…

Evernote Organization

I took some time to go through my Evernote files and pare my categories down to the most basic and broad. I am proud to say that I am currently down to 4 notebook stacks. I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe I used to have closer to 10 stacks.

When I first started using Evernote, there were 2 levels of organization available: notebooks and notes. A notebook is a collection of notes. It bothered me that there were only 2 levels at first, because I really like to group similar items together and felt like I needed one more level of categorization. If I am thinking about my blog, I don’t want to have to scroll through items related to my job. I keep them separate. Now, with the ability to create stacks, I can happily group my information into small number of broad categories, and then group like sub-categories of information within each stack. continue…

Organizing on Autopilot

Once I figure out how a regularly occurring tasks fits best into my life, it kind of goes on autopilot and I don’t have to keep thinking about how or when to do it anymore. I guess a good example for me is keeping the house straightened up. I grew up with piles of papers and things everywhere, and when I moved out to live in my own apartment, I still had a lot of clutter to deal with. I finally bought a filing cabinet with 2 filing drawers and was pretty proud of it, but still didn’t have a grip on completely having a system of keeping the paper clutter under control.

Besides papers, there are countless things that can clutter up a home, such as dirty clothes, dirty dishes, things to take back to the store, items to fix, and just “stuff” in general. When there is not a home for an item, it can quickly turn into clutter. I have had fun (and help) getting organizing systems established in my home so there is no clutter. Having no clutter in the home makes me feel more calm and peaceful. That is the real goal of organizing for me. continue…

Procrastinators Annonymous

Right now I have a notebook in my Evernote called “Post Drafts” with 120 notes. This is where I have been keeping ideas for blog posts for over a year. As I am writing this, I am up to 121 notes.

I set out to participate in Blogust around the beginning of this month, with the goal of posting to this blog each day throughout the month of August. I have missed about 5 or 6 days, although I posted a quote as a placeholder for each day that I missed and will be going back and posting to those days before the end of August.

A Procrastinator’s Confessions

Why oh why do we procrastinate? Maybe I shouldn’t say “we” because I am sure not everyone procrastinates, and even those of us who do procrastinate are probably really good at getting certain things done quickly. That is, certain things we either actually enjoy doing or have figured out how to do with confidence. Despite all the good advice and information I have read about getting things done and not procrastinating, I still manage to do it. continue…

Planning Projects – Part 2

After thinking about how I would like to manage the projects in my life, I have come to the conclusion that the managing and actual getting things done will stem from actually planning out what my approach to the project will be.

Following the model I have created for my reminders and rituals, I have decided that I will add new, incoming tasks to my reminders lists, but as soon as I establish that it will become a recurring task, it can be moved over to my rituals list.

In the past, I have said yes to requests on my time without really giving much attention to how I would complete whatever project I just agreed to. I was afraid to say no, because I was afraid the person making the request on my time would be disappointed in me if I did not agree to do whatever it was. This bad habit has caused me more distress over the long term than any other. I did not respect my own time enough to say no, or to ask for time to think about how I would even accomplish said project. Even if I did ask for a day or two to think it over, I wouldn’t really think about the consequences of saying yes, because I couldn’t fathom disappointing someone by saying no. continue…

Planning Projects – Part 1

Now that I have my to-do lists (which I now call my reminders lists) under control, I feel like I can really get into getting my life organized the way I have always wanted to. I have read so many books about getting organized and improving productivity, and while I liked many of the ideas they described, I never felt “with it” enough to even begin to follow their advice.

Getting organized takes a lot of time, not to mention the difficult decisions the process forces. When I was buried by a mountain of tasks, it seemed totally impossible to make progress on getting organized. How could I dedicate 4 hours to organizing some files on my computer when I had a good, oh, say, infinite amount of hours of tasks nagging at me? continue…

Getting A Hold of the Clutter

“If your life seems a mess, it is because it is a reflection of your thoughts.” – Doreen Virtue

Right now, one of my goals is to organize my Evernote account, and other file folders on the computer that are not in their final home. Several years ago, I started digitizing almost all of the paper in my life. It was a very long process.

Just deciding what to keep and what to throw away can be paralyzing at first. Once I started trusting myself and my ability to decide more, it still took a very long time scanning in page after page after page of what I decided to keep. I have spent many hours with the scanner set up on the bed, scanning in anything I felt the need to keep, while watching a movie. I guess maybe it was actually kind of fun now that I think back on it! continue…

Clearing Out the Queues of Our Lives

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace.” – fortune cookie

I have read (or at least partially read) plenty of books on productivity, usually out of desperation for a miracle. I can’t stand the plethora of stuff that comes into my life piling up, but in recent years I have often felt powerless to even make a dent in the growing list of tasks requiring my attention.

For the past few years, I have felt like I was on the cusp of realizing my dream of having my life under control, but it was just out of reach for so long. Actually, there have been many days where I have felt absolutely buried, unable to deal with even the simple tasks as there was such a large list of big, overwhelming tasks and projects requiring my attention.

We Are Not Alone

I can’t be the only one who feels this way. But sometimes I do feel alone in my crushing to-do list mode. I look around at other people, and sometimes it seems like they all have it all together. I am sure this isn’t true, and maybe it couldn’t be farther from the truth, but it is easy to feel isolated. continue…

Simplifying Incoming Paper

“Find the elegance in the chaos, and simplify to the extent possible.” – Tim Ferriss

I was always a paper and pen diehard. I couldn’t imagine reading documents online, and wouldn’t dare dream of letting go of my paper to-do lists. I started to reconsider when I was introduced to Evernote. Evernote is like a digital filing cabinet – but better. You can save not only documents, but also notes, ideas, pictures – basically everything – in an organized and easily retrievable fashion.

I did resist going completely paperless at first. continue…

Organizing Recipes & Planning Meals

“One good decision can lead to another.” – Nutri-Grain commercial

One of my dreams for quite some time has been to have a completely organized system of recipes and meal plans. Several years ago, I made an attempt at a paper version of my own paper-based recipe organizing system, in which I typed up my recipes into a template and printed them out, punched them with my circa puncher from Levenger, and inserted them into a kind of circa notebook rollodex that I had also purchased from Levenger.

I finally had to admit that this system was not practical for me personally. Either I was not as passionate about creating a paper version of all the recipes I liked as I thought I would be or it was unmanageable – probably a little bit of both. continue…

The Seasons of Our Lives

As I mentioned the other day, lately I have been thinking of my life more in seasons.

There are sooo many things we do that are recurrent: brushing our teeth, showering, replacing mascara, washing the sheets, making plans for Christmas, buying birthday gifts, buying toilet paper…and on, and on, and on. I have started a list of such recurrent activities and right now, I am up to 92 items (just for my personal life).

In some ways that sounds like a lot, but in others it doesn’t even scratch the surface. This list actually doesn’t include things that are so automatic as taking a shower everyday, but I did put things like “floss” and “take vitamins”, because these are daily activities that I have struggled with getting into a solid daily habit of doing.

As with my goals and affirmations, I have created a notebook in Evernote to contain these items – one item per note. This has been one of those (crazy?) personal productivity ideas of mine for several years now, which I couldn’t quite hack because I never felt connected to the list. continue…