Problem or Passion?

Is there such a thing as too many tartan scarves? Sometimes, I am asking myself how to differentiate a problem from a passion. But...but...they're all SO different!

Planning & Organizing for the Year

Every few years, my organizational method...the to-do list...the daily calendar...what ever you call it...needs a little shake up in my life. Last year, I felt as though I was either sewing for the shop non-stop, or I was putting the shop completely aside to do homemaking and life. What I needed to find this year was some balance. Maybe a new planner was just the thing? Inspired by photos posted on the Instagram of my dear cyber-friend, Nancy's, planner and how beautiful it was (find her on Instagram @nancymeansgrace), and by the organizational methods detailed by Anna at Pleasant View Schoohouse (read postings here and here), I set my mind to what would work for me and went shopping for a new planner.

Ideally, one would do this before the start of the new year. But the second week of January found me searching for one at Home Goods, where they still had quite a good selection in the "home office" portion of the store. After looking through about 40 (I kid you not!) different ones, I chose this one...a LifePlanner by Erin Condren. (Although I could not find the exact same one on her website, you can by very similar ones, or you can order one fully customized!)

The cover is way too flashy for me, but it didn't matter because it lies open on my desk. I bought it because it fit the bill in every other way: hardbound, lies flat, visually appealing (pretty pages, nice colors, etc.), had pages for goal planning, had a space to write goals for every week, had space on each day for the dinner menu, and so much more.

I started out in the back of the planner, where there are some blank, doted, and lined pages. There I listed out all my goals for the year, divided into the following categories:

(Bible reading, devotions, etc.)

(fitness goals, weight loss goal, etc.)

(the list of the books I want to read this year)

(birthdays, weddings, showers, parties, and more)

(cleaning goals, organizing goals, DIY projects, new purchases)

(outdoor projects to tackle as a family, seasonal clean-up and plantings)

(financial aims for the year, new product plans, promotion goals)

(brainstorming, frequency goals, style, etc.)

(church, community)

Then I moved to the front of the planner where there is a box for each month. I took the yearly goals and plans that I just listed in the back and assigned them each to a month. Most things fall easily into that format, for instance bulb planting happens in October, hubby's birthday is in April, etc. I assigned books to a month. I spread cleaning tasks out over the year. You get the idea. And I decided to be kind to myself and write these goals in pencil, because life! Sometimes you just have to flex and give yourself a bit of grace, so you don't feel defeated if things have to be rearranged. And even though the page where everything for the year was listed out seemed overwhelming, it seemed quite manageable once it was broken down into months. One bite at a time.

Then I move onto the two-page calendar spread provided for each month (not pictured). There I write down everything that is happening in the day squares. And in the sidebar, I transfer all the goals (as seen above) for that month. Each month is a different color!

Then I move on to the week. Sunday evenings, I sit down with the planner and transfer everything from the month spread to that week. I use the sidebar for breaking down the monthly goals into weekly goals. And each day (running vertically) is divided into four sections. I use the top section for tasks happening before noon. The second section for noon until five o'clock. The third section for evening. And the few lines at the very bottom for noting the dinner menu for the day. Again, I like it that the color changes with the month (as you can see this green is even changing over from one shade to another with the change of the month).

A glimpse at this week's goals in the sidebar.

The days beginning to fill in...

I'm hoping this help me find more balance this year. Additionally, I think it will be motivating to look back and see what has really been accomplished. 

How about you? What method do you use for keeping track of your life?

Clean Slate

This is it. This is as clean as it gets. It's my sewing room at the start of the year.

It's wonderfully freeing to have the tables empty. A clean slate. It fires my creative juices to start dreaming up ideas for the shop for 2018. And...whew!...does it need it. My poor shop is just picked nearly clean after Christmas. Sewing starts Monday!

Anything But Black

When we moved from southern California, with its mild winters, to New England, where the winters are anything but, we all lacked in sufficient cold weather clothing. Sensibly, I made my wardrobe stretch further by centering it around the mix-and-match color scheme of black, gray, and wine. But now we've been here nearly ten years, and although I can't quite completely abandon my black turtleneck, crew neck, and cardigan, the thought of another winter wearing the same three colors made me nuts. The motto this winter is: anything but black! 

Fun prints and colors are putting a little zing in the gray and starkness of winter, and I like it!

Burns Night

Robert Burns, the beloved 18th century bard of Scotland, is remembered this night with celebrations in his homeland and around the world. A typical Burns Night celebration includes: bagpiping, haggis (and Burns' "Address to the Haggis" can see a lively one here), recitations of his poetry, and whiskey. The tradition began when some of Burns friends gathered to dine and remember him five years after his death. Although he was a prolific poet and lyricist with over 500 titles to his credit, Americans might know him best as the author of "Auld Lang Syne". But it was his love for Scotland that shone forth in his writing. Here is his poem, "My Heart's in the Highlands", with some pictures from our visit last year to the Scottish Highlands. And it's quite true...we left a little of our hearts there.

My Heart's in the Highlands

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, 
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth; 
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, 
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love. 

Chorus.-My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here, 
My heart's in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer; 
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, 
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover'd with snow, 
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below; 
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods, 
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods. 
My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go.


For the Christmas season, I filled a large ironstone bowl with clementines as a centerpiece for the kitchen table. It was an edible centerpiece, and I enjoyed watching people help themselves to some citrus and linger around the table in conversation. We devoured that bowl, refilled it, emptied it again, and refilled it once again. One thing's for one in this household is getting scurvy this winter!

Taking Inventory

A fresh start to a new year always means inventory time for the shop. It's a time to finger all the pretty things in the sewing room...linen and laces and wool and ribbons. Everything neatly counted and folded afresh. Shelves dusted and spools wound. There is a satisfaction to be had in starting the year out with orderliness.

Off to a Good Start

A NEW YEAR...a fresh start! Discipline, routine, order, simplicity and REST are my orders to myself this January...the perfect antidote to the holiday season's fun-packed indulgence.

First step on the restoration plan is healthy eating habits rediscovered. My go-to lunch salad these days is:

- field greens
- a scoop of quinoa with pine nuts
- chopped bell pepper
- shaved carrot
- multi-color cherry and grape tomatoes
- a spoonful of jalapeno hummus
- a drizzle of creamy balsamic dressing

Happy (guilt free) munching!
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