The winner of the Weekly Planning Routine is...Reesey Rossi!!  Thank you to everyone who entered and I am so excited to be sending a package out to Reesey.  There will be more giveaways ahead and if you have followed on YouTube, Instagram and the blog you may already be entered!  Wishing you all a great week ahead.

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Meal Planning Weekly Planning Routine Part 3

Meal planning is such an important part of my weekly planning routine.  The way I see it, meal planning can help turn a long busy day into a fun night spent around the table with the family. 

Planning  dinners for the week and the  grocery list that goes along with it takes me less then an hour on a Sunday morning.  You need only 3 things to meal plan; your daily planner (calendar), a notebook and a bunch of tried and true family recipes.  To begin, I go through my planner for the week to see what our evenings look like.  Who has practice, a scout meeting or any after school activity.  I also check if we have any dinner plans away from home.  In my notebook I lay out the week in a very simple grid, Monday through Sunday.  Every week I make a big pot of soup and a freezer crock pot meal.  These crock pot meals are meals that I prepare in advance and freeze in a gallon zip-lock bag.

 These are great to have on hand when our days are tight. Soup is a healthy way to always have a meal on hand.  Soup is perfect to pack in lunches and also for a quick dinner paired up with a sandwich or salad.  

Once I decide on which days I will make soup and which day I will have a freezer crock pot meal, I fill in the rest of the week with family favorite meals.  There are a few factors that may influence the weeks meals.  I try to always use what I already have on hand in the frig and freezer and I always like to try something new.  I have a large collection of recipes, so finding something interesting to make is never a problem.

 I go ahead and make my grocery list from the menu planned for the week and head to the store.  Having a meal plan not only takes the stress out of "what to have for dinner" it helps me stay on budget at the grocery store.

I'm doing a little giveaway to thank everyone who has visited the blog and watch my last few videos.  It has been fun making My Weekly Planning Routine videos and although there were some awkward moments, I think videos are a happy addition to the blog.  I will be giving away an Erin Condren Notebook, an Owl Planner Clip from my ETSY shop and some fun planning accessories. So to enter you need to follow me here on the blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE and follow me on Instagram HERE.

Thank you for visiting and be sure to leave me comment and tell me how you plan your meals for the week.  Subscribe and follow so we can keep in touch.

I am linking with these wonderful Blog Parties:  Awesome Life FridayThat Friday Blog HopCoastal CharmA Stroll Thru LifeTweak It TuesdayCedar Hill FarmhouseA Bowl Full of LemonsTutorial TuesdayShow and Tell Link PartyThe Inspiration BoardWhimsy WednesdayFall Into FallThe DIY DreamerWow Us WednesdayCreative Muster

Love Your Life,

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Weekly Planning Routine Part 2: Family Binder

Keeping a Family Binder has been part of my planning routine for at least a decade.  It was the first step I took in the process of getting organized all those years ago.  As our family has grown, so has their schedules and activities, and this binder continues to play an important role in keeping us on track.       

 For more detailed information, check out my recent blog post HERE .  

Weekly Planning Routine Part 1

I'm so happy that you have enjoyed my recent Plan 2 Plan posts about keeping myself  and the family organized each week.  Keeping a daily planner, family binder and meal planning has really helped keep me on track and be prepared for what comes my way each week.  Since there were a few questions about my routine, I put together a few videos to give a bit more details.

Part 1 is all about how I use my daily planner.  I hope you enjoy and don't forget to subscribe!

Love your life,

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Halloween House Tour

I just love Fall!  I endure the dog days of summer for the first day of September, to me the beginning of Autumn.  Fall holds so many of my favorite things; back to school, pencils, notebooks, apple picking, changing leaves, pumpkins, pumpkin spice everything, Friday Night Football games, Marching Bands and the most glorious of all days...HALLOWEEN!  I have always loved this day.  Growing up I always liked giving out the candy at the door more then I liked trick-or-treating.  So when my kids were very small I would make a huge deal of Halloween decorating, making costumes and planning our annual Halloween party.  The kids would invite their friends over after Trick-or-Treating for chili, candy trading and the ever famous Frankenstein cake.

Even though my kiddos are a bit grown up, we still make a huge deal of Halloween.  The yard is full of scarecrows and witches and the inside is full of pumpkins and fall fun, and there is always Frankenstein Cake!

A little fall everywhere!  In the Hall

In the Kitchen:

How about in the Powder Room too! :

It really makes me happy to have all of these wonderful fall accents around the house.  To me its the kick-off of the holiday season!

I thought it would be fun to make a video of our fall decorations.  This is my first real YouTube video!  I hope you enjoy our Halloween House Tour:

I hope you enjoyed our Halloween House Tour!  There will be more videos on the way so check back next week for the first part of my Weekly Planning Routine videos.

Thanks so much for stopping by, remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel and my blog so you don't miss a thing!

Love Your Life

Linking this week with:  Work It Wednesday Link Party,  Whimsy WednesdayWow Us WednesdayFall into Fall Link PartyShow Off Your Stuff Link PartyHit Me With Your Best Shot Link PartyMoonlight and Mason Jars Link PartyShow and Share Link PartyCreate It ThursdayGrace at HomeBlesserHouseLovely Little Link PartyFeathered Nest Friday

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Plan 2 Plan Part 2: Family Binder

 In Part 1 of my Weekly Planning Routine I talked about daily planners.  Today, I wanted to talk about my Family Binder.  Family Binders are not new to the organization community, they have been around for years.  My Family Binder has helped me stay on track for more then a decade.  When my kids were very young, my husband would travel for work several days each month so often times it was just me and my kids at home.  I was that mom that would show up to the scout meeting or soccer game without my scheduled snack.  I hated that, it was so unlike me to not be prepared.  But when you have small children running around and there is a house to care for and meals to prepare, its easy for things to fall through the cracks.  So I began keeping all their important info in a binder and it helped so much!

Binders are one of my favorite organizing tools.  I use them to stay organized in my classroom, to organize my recipe collection, to keep details of a trip together, anytime I need to keep important information organized.  My favorite binder to use is the "Better Binder" from Staples.  I like they way they open, where the rings are located and that they are strong.  

The first thing I do with any new binder is create a cover page, so no  surprise this cover included a picture of the family!  The cover helps identify the binder and its just fun to make it pretty :)  

The first page in my binder is a quote/poem I found on line years ago.   Its all about loving your life and I have found it very inspirational over the years.  

The binder is divided into 5 sections:  Important Numbers, Neighborhood, School Directories, Kids and Friends and Family.

The "Important Numbers" section is where you would find all the contact information for doctors, schools, our work numbers, family cellphone numbers, emergency contacts and health insurance info.  This section is a big help when filling out all those school forms and permission slips.  The "Neighbor" section is where you can keep your neighborhood directory, or any HOA info you may need.  Our directory also included the kid's birth dates which is great when planning neighborhood gatherings.  In the  "School Directory" section I have all the school directories from my children's schools over the years.  Children always go through school with the same group of children so even if it is not a current school directory, these lists can be very useful. The fourth section is the most important.  The "Kids" section is where I keep any information pertaining to my children.  I have four children in four different schools so this is where I have the physical address of my boys dorms and their mailing addresses, school schedules, teacher emails, team rosters, snack calendars, practice schedules, competitions etc.  This is the section that has helped me the most to stay on top of all the kids activities.  I think its so important to have the contact info for your children's friends and their parents.  Its one of those things that you don't know you need until you need it.  The last section is the "Friends & Family" section.  This is where we keep all the contact info for our close friends and family.  If I send you a Christmas card, your name is in there.  

So what do you think?  Do you think something like this can work for you too.  It has been a life savor for me over the years.  Something so simple can be so helpful!

Part 3 of My Weekly Planning Routine will be all about menu planning.  I hope you will be back to visit and be sure to leave a comment down below to let me know what you use to keep your family organized.

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Love your Life!

Linking with Let's Be Friends Blog Hop , Tweak It Tuesday,
 Nap Time CreationsInspire Me Monday


Plan 2 Plan Part 1: Daily Planner

I got a question this week on Instagram that I get often; What is your planning routine?  I thought this would be a great topic for a blog post as I find it interesting seeing how others keep themselves organized.  For me, I have found that breaking everything down into 3 sections helps me stay on track.

 I use a daily planner, I use a family binder system and I meal plan. My daily planner contains the day to day details of our week, it contains notes on what's going on at home, work (school), my blog/Etsy store and meals.  The family binder contains all the details of the family life, for example my 4 children attend four different schools.  This binder contains each of their academic calendars, activity schedules, team rosters and participation responsibilities (snack/chaperone schedules).  This binder also contains important phone numbers for doctors, insurance and close friends and family.  For meal planning I use a notebook and my giant recipe collection to plan our dinners for the week.

Today though, I thought I would just talk about my daily planner.  Like many out there in the planner community, I use the Erin Condren Life Planner.

This is my third year using the Life Planner and I use it primarily because of the way the weeks are laid out.  Each day is separated into 3 sections, morning-day-afternoon.  I do not plan that way but I find it easy to change these sections into Home-School-Blog.  

The HOME section is where I plan all of our family activities, practices for the kids, days off or travel notes.  I usually will record any doctor appointments on a sticky flag to make them stand out as I did in the summer pages above.  The SCHOOL section is for my work notes.  I plan classroom prep, lesson plan and keep reminders for anything having to do with my preschool class.  The last section is for my BLOG.  In this section I plan post ideas, anything pertaining to my ETSY store and any special social media info.  At the very bottom of the page I list what we will have for dinner each day.  Breakfasts at our house are kept simple during the week and we usually pack lunches everyday so dinner is the only meal that needs planning.

Since I do not plan for the weekends, this is where I usually attach my shopping list.  I keep my grocery list and my Target/Home Depot/Michaels list together here.  When I go to the grocery store I take a picture of my list with my phone so the original is always in my planner.  This is a very useful system because on those weeks I don't have the time to meal plan I can refer back to any week and have that weeks meals and shopping list ready to go.

I use an Erin Condren Snap-in-Dashboard as my cleaning routine reminder.  Like everyone, I have a weekly cleaning schedule that I try to follow each week.  The snap-in-dashboard is perfect for this use as I can pop it in and out each week.

So that is how I use my planner each week.  I usually sit down on Sunday morning and do my planning.  Some weeks are better then others but I find the more I plan and the more lists I make the better my week goes.  But like any system, its only as good as you are using it.  It does take a bit of effort in the beginning to get in the habit of planning out your week, but if you stick to it I know that you will feel better prepared for what comes at you.

Next time I will share the Family Binder system that I have been using and loving for over a decade, you won't want to miss it!

I love my followers, please be sure to add your picture to the followers list to the right and leave me a comment to let me know what planning system you use!  

Love your life!

I am linking with the following wonderful blogs  I Should Be Mopping the FloorA Stroll Thru LifeCoastal Charm Plucky's Second Thought

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Back To School

The Back-To-School season is such a busy time in our house, as I am sure it is in yours.  August marks back-to-school time for us.  It is the month marching band camp starts, my boys pack up and get back to college, and I get back in the classroom to get ready for the coming preschool year.  Time goes so fast and never as fast as the last month of summer!  

By mid August we pack up the college boys and get them back to school.  This part is never easy.  It doesn't matter how many times we drop off a child at school, its always a bit of a sad goodbye.  Maybe not for them but always for me.  I love having everyone one home for the summer.

We have been involved with our high school's marching band for more then a decade. Each of my kids have been a member at one time or another, drums, tuba, baritone and saxophone.   We have a very talented hard working honor band that begins practicing their halftime show the first week of August.  The days are long and hot and we go through buckets of sunscreen and gallons of water.  We donate lots of snacks and can't wait for that first halftime show!

Once the gang is where they need to be its usually time for me  to get back in the classroom and get it all ready for my new set of preschoolers.  This year was particularly challenging as our school had some upgrades done and although I am thrilled with the results, major clean-up was in store.  The first staff meeting is always fun, seeing everyone and getting our students lists.  Once we sorted through the piles of supplies in our classroom, and arranged all of our centers it was time to get the bulletin boards up.  I love doing the bulletin boards, I know its a silly thing but decorating the bulletin boards helps me get in the school mind set.  If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen these beauties!

Our art center board is ready for all those preschool masterpieces.

This hungry caterpillar watches over our reading corner.

The preschool safari board greats the little ones as they enter the classroom everyday.

These last few weeks have been busy and time may go by way too fast for my liking but I love the routine that fall brings to our lives.  Life seems more organized and we all know how happy that makes me.  Welcome Fall and welcome new beginnings and the adventures that a new school year brings!

Are your littles back at school yet?  Let me know below and don't forget to subscribe!

I am linking with the following wonderful blogs  Plucky's Second Thought  rchreviews  xoxo Rebecca French Country Cottage Tatertots and Jello

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Back on That IPSY Train

I am jumping back on the IPSY train!  I have been a bit lax with posting my monthly IPSY bag so I thought to make up for it (no pun intended) I would post the new bag along with my favorite products from the previous month.  If you are unfamiliar with IPSY it is a monthly subscription box that contains 4-5 beauty product samples, some products may be full size.  Each month has a different theme and the products come in an adorable theme based cosmetic case all for just $10.  You can find more information and subscribe here.

The Summer Lovin July IPSY bag was one of my most favorite IPSY bags of all time.  I barely have pictures to share because I couldn't wait to use it!

First off, LOVE the bag, to me it says SUMMER!  The first product i tried and loved was the Vasanti Brighten Up scrub.  It left my face feeling clean, smooth and I do believe a bit brighter. I would definitely repurchase.  My second favorite product was the much loved TARTE Park Avenue Princess Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer.  I have loved it from a far, don't know why I never purchased it on my own.  I am a big fan of TARTE to begin with and Park Avenue Princess did not disappoint.  A lovely shade perfect for contouring.  I always share my bag with my daughter and she loved the Octavio Molina Sea Salt Spray and the Be A Bombshell Lip Balm in Ruby.  The only product we haven't had the chance to use yet is the Aurora Gel Effect Nail Lacquer but the week isn't over yet!

At first glance the August Prep School IPSY bag was cute but I thought the products inside didn't seem to match this month's theme.  This months products are the Good Night Night Creme by LA Fresh Group, Albertini Devine Skin Hydrator, Doll 10 Creme Blush, Noyah Natural Lipstick and Lord & Berry Lipcolor and Liner.  We will see which products become a favorite...but you'll have to wait for next month!!

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Coat Closet Redo

Our coat closet lives in our foyer.  This is one of the hardest working spaces in our house and with all the kids home for the summer it is basically a disaster area.  I know that organizing systems have to be reevaluated every so often and changed when the system no longer is working for you.  Well, HELLO, NO LONGER WORKING!  This is embarrassing, just look at it!  There are still winter coats in there.  Granted they are winter coats brought home in May by my college boy but still, these should have been dealt with months ago. 

With any reorganizing project I usually make a list of all the things that are still working for me and those that are not working. 

              Working                                                   Not Working                                         
    Containers on top shelf                                      Shoe Storage
       Wooden Hangers                                             Drawer Unit
          Door Hooks                                            Vacuum/Broom Storage
                                                                   Hanging Clear Plastic Shoe Shelf

1.  The first step to any reorganizing project is to completely empty the space.  Return any items that don't belong  to their proper home.  Purge what is just not worth keeping and donate those pieces that still have some life in them but no longer fit anyone in the house.
2.  Vacuum and wash out the closet.  Don't forget to wipe down the walls and baseboards.
3.  Return the storage items that will be kept.   In this case the wooden hangers, which I purchased at Target in December.  The three Riesenthal storage boxes I purchased at The Container Store some time ago and have been the perfect storage solution for the extras that we all keep in our coat closets.  

4.  I needed to replace the hanging  plastic shoe shelves and the plastic drawers.  I really wanted the shoes to be hidden from view when the closet was open and I needed something to hold seasonal items like hats and scarves in the winter and flip flops in the summer. I found this 4 cube organizer by Threshold at Target for $39.  I purchase 4 bins, also by Threshold at Target for $9.99 a piece.

 With the help of my son, we put it together and added it to the closet.  I was able to fit all the shoes and extra seasonal items in the 4 drawers.

I tucked the vacuum in the corner and my redo was DONE.  After using our new system for a few days I asked the kids how they liked it.  They all said they did't like having to pull out a drawer to put their shoes away....HA! My favorite part of the redo is the kids had to pull out a drawer to put their shoes away!  LOVE IT!

Reorganizing a closet may not be the most exciting redo but I have to say, this one sure made me happy.  Its the little things ladies.

Enjoy the weekend ahead.




Preschool Prep: 10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Preeschool

As a preschool teacher I know that the first day of preschool can be difficult for both parents and child.  This is such an exciting time for both of you.  Your child is taking a huge first step in their education and you are taking that first big step in letting go.  I assure you, there will be tears on BOTH sides of the classroom door! With some preparation the transition from home to preschool can be fun and easy for both of you!

   1.  Stay Calm -  This may be the most important step of all. Even if you are a bit sad or nervous  always speak positively about your child's pending preschool days.  Children can easily pick up on their parent's emotions, if you are excited about preschool, your child will be excited about preschool.
   2.  Read -  Pick up some children's books about preschool and begin reading them to your child as soon as possible.  This can help your child become familiar with a classroom routine.
   3.  Visit -  As soon as you select the preschool your child will attend be sure to arrange a visit for you and your child.  It will be fun to see the classroom they will be in and they will soon be able to see it as "their" school.  Be sure to attend your preschool's open house and "Meet the Teacher" days.
   4.  Play -  Every preschool has a playground, make several trips to school just to play on the playground.  Even a child who is upset on the first day of school often will calm down quickly on the playground, especially if it is familiar.  
   5.  Make it Special - Make your first "Back to School" shopping trip extra special.  Let your preschooler pick out their first school backpack.  Help them fill it with a few things they will need to bring to school.  Tissues, baby wipes, zip top bags etc.  "Back to School" shopping is one of my favorite days spent with my kids every year.  
   6.  Routine - Get  into the school routine at least a week ahead of the first day of school.  Early bedtimes make early mornings easier.  Don't forget to adjust nap schedules.
   7.  Pick a Buddy -  Let your child pick a stuffed friend to tuck in their backpack to comfort them during the school day should they get upset.  I had a student last year who would bring a super hero cape to school everyday.  If he got upset, he would put his super hero cape on and he would be happy again in not time!
   8.  Practice - Review self help skills with your preschooler.  Using a tissue, washing hands, putting and taking off their coat, zipping zippers and potty routines.
   9.  Label - Label all of your child's belongings coats, hats and backpack, with their name. Preschoolers can easily become confused as to what coat is theirs and exactly which Frozen backpack belongs to them.
10.  Enjoy -   Make their first day of school FUN!  Even if there are tears, this is a day to celebrate!  Over the first few weeks of school there will be good days and some not so good days, but remember establishing a positive experience in preschool sets your child on a path of success for years to come.  Take pictures, bring tissues and be proud! 

Are you ready for the school year to begin?

I am linking this week with the following blogs:  Imparting Grace  Sincerely Paula  Common Ground  Lamberts Lately Three Sisters and Us

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Cookbook Corner

Hello Friends!   I have been on a cleaning and organizing streak!  The summer always brings out my inner organizing junkie.  I have a strong need to put everything in its place, purge what we don't need and clean all that's left until it shines.   I have been spending some time in the kitchen giving it  a good deep clean that I can't always get to during the school year.  I thought this would be a great time to share my cookbook collection with you!

It is a large well loved and well used collection.  I have been collecting cookbooks most of my married life.  At last count I have 121 cookbooks in the kitchen!  I know, I was surprised when I counted them too.  Of course I have my favorites but I really do love them all.  I also know that I can find any recipe I want on line, but there is just something about a cookbook in my hand that can't be replaced with a Google search.  I like nothing better then to sit down with a cookbook and read it cove to cover like a novel.  Cookbooks are my favorite keepsake from a trip or vacation.  A handwritten recipe from a dear friend or relative that isn't with me any longer is a treasure to me.

I have almost every issue of Cooking with Paula Deen,  a few years worth of Southern Lady and somewhere in there is the premier issue of Martha Stewart Living!

The binders on the bottom shelf hold recipes that I have found online or in other magazines.  Oh my...wasn't it Peter Walsh who said something about hording and the collection of magazines?  Look away Peter!  Look away!

This glass cabinet next to my fridge holds my favorite Barefoot Contessa and Gooseberry Patch books.

By far my most precious possession in my recipe and cookbook collection is this little green recipe box.  This was my sweet Mother's recipe box.  My Mom was one of the best cooks ever and this box holds handwritten recipes from her, most of her 5 sisters and my grandmother.  My Mom has been gone for 15 years and when I get to missing her I often open this box and I usually end up laughing.  Many of her recipes are just a list of ingredients and funny little notes.  Each card is like a sweet memory.  (And yes, that is Martha Stewart's Weddings book in the corner.  Didn't every 80's bride have one of these books in their collection?)

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at one of my favorite collections.  I guess I have no excuse for not knowing what to make for dinner!  Do you collect anything special?  Let me know in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe and follow along.

Linking up with Sincerely Paula

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