I survived my first day of school as a teachers aide! I came home exhausted but aware of the fact that I have to be more organized at home than I have ever been if I want to juggle everything successfully. To that end, I decided yesterday I was going to work on how I store homework and classwork throughout the year.
My proven method worked until last year. Having both boys in elementary school meant a dramatic increase in paper, and it was no longer easy to pull out what I needed when discrepancies arose. There was too much stuff, and I was getting bad about discarding the items that weren’t graded. In Nico’s case, it seemed like everything had a grade.
[I keep all graded assignments, classwork, and tests until the final report card for that trimester. This has been fabulous for those times where grades were entered incorrectly or assignments were marked missing. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I'm glad to have the backup I need before I question the boys or the teacher.]
This year I am straight-up copying my friend Susan. She makes Martha Stewart look disorganized, so when she says a system works for her, I feel pretty confident in appropriating it as my own and doing no further research.
This is what she does.
I couldn’t find two accordion files–Susan uses the big ones with the handles–so I bought two Martha Stewart accordions on clearance. I figured if the smaller size doesn’t work, paying rock bottom for the files wouldn’t hurt as much. And I can always re-purpose them, too.
Here is how I set up Mikey’s accordion. Because these accordions are smaller, I doubled up every month except for the beginning and the end of the school year. Nico’s doesn’t have the student handbook file since only one of those goes home, so I don’t know how, or if, I’m going to use the last pocket.
I’ll give an update in a few months on how they are working for us.
I have a couple of reasons for this post. First, can you see images? Please let me know if the problem has been resolved for you. Thank you for putting up with the inconvenience, too.
Second, day planners! Specifically, paper ones. I can’t handle the new calendar in iOS 7. Appointments disappear or get moved to other days, I’m not getting my alerts, and the wheel date selector makes scheduling difficult for people with man-hands. I already dislike relying on electronic devices and am 1 of 5 people who still uses a paper address book. Also, and here another instance where computer-loving folks will toss their hands up in shock and think I’m really, really dumb: I keep all my passwords in a paper logbook.
That’s right! All my passwords in a paper logbook, not in a cloud or in an “impossible to access by hackers” security site online. When people found out about this on Instagram (I shared a picture of my logbook) there was an outcry of warnings and recommendations for online password keepers. I appreciate the concern and welcome the constructive feedback. Here are my thoughts on that: I’m a middle class, unknown woman from suburbia. I doubt I’m the mark of an Ocean’s Eleven team of hackers intent on stuffing their coffers with millions. And, God forbid, should a couple of random burglars enter my house when I’m not at home, they won’t ransack the place looking for the internet password logbook I may or may not have. “Put down the TV and jewelry box, Bob. Time is of the essence, so let’s first figure out if she bought one of those cute password logbooks I saw at Target.”
When it comes to online security, I don’t believe there is a safe way to protect myself, with the exception of avoiding all online activity and paying for everything in cash. Even then, security is a myth. Identity exposure is the reality of living in a world increasingly dependent upon digital communication, especially if corporations like Target can get hacked twice in less than 6 months. I’m at risk whether I store my passwords in a book or online because it’s the act of necessitating a password that puts me at risk. Online or paper, we’re all screwed in the end because if someone wants our information, they’ll get it. Maybe I’m just a pessimist.
Back to day planners. Anything computer/electronic/online is not an option for me. I know many of you use Google Docs/Calendar or have had great luck with ABC online planner, and that’s great! It’s not you, it’s me. Paper all the way.
The problem I have is that finding the perfect planner is like having fun at a timeshare presentation. It’s possible, it’s just not likely.
I’ve spent an obscene amount of time researching planners. It’s embarrassing. So embarrassing that the Mister turned to me last night and said, “The amount of time you have spent researching day planners is embarrassing.”
I’ve narrowed down the options and will now crowd-source you for opinions or planners I may have missed.
LESS THAN $30
The Arc Planner by Staples is a letter-sized planner with a neoprene cover. The calendars and paper accessories come separately, allowing for customization. There are plenty of free printables and customizing tips on Pinterest. Arc refills are around $5.00. My concerns: the low price of the planner disappears once you factor in the price of the refills. The 6-ring layout makes it difficult to customize your own refills without a special punch, which makes using the Arc-made refills an easier option. That’s intentional, I’m sure.
$58, PLUS SHIPPING
The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley is clean and simple. The available patterns are limited, but I like them, aside from the pink key-pattern. The size is 9×10. The daily schedules are from 7am-7pm in half-hour increments, which is a must for me since I need the planner to keep track of my library schedule, doctor appointments, swim team, music, choir, and the Mister’s travel schedule. An appointment calendar isn’t necessary for many people, but it is for me. Each page has a to-do list, a spot for notes, and a spot for dinner plans. There is plenty of white space and the layout isn’t cluttered. This planner would be perfect for me except for the calendar year organization. I absolutely need a planner with an academic calendar.
This planner is by Orange Circle Studio, but it represents that category of day planners you can find in stationery stores or big box stores. These planners are small, sturdy, and simple. The price is reasonable. Rarely are the days organized in 30 minute increments, but in the case of the Do it All Planner, there is enough room for multiple appointments in one day. Still, I need the time increments to avoid double booking myself. There is no real way to customize the planner or refill pages, which means you’re buying something new every year. Because the price is low, that’s okay.
$50-$75, PLUS SHIPPING
If you are a blogger or read blogs, you might have heard of this planner. Erin Condren is the chevrons of day planners. They life planners are colorful, full of pattern, come with 300 bells and whistles, and can be customized to within an inch of your life. There are pockets and stickers and rulers and coil clips and gift labels, and contact pages, and blank pages, and lined pages, and stationery pages, and a little monkey that follows you around each day playing a music box to alert you of your appointments.
The number of reviews and youtube customization videos devoted to this planner is overwhelming. In fact, everything about this planner is overwhelming. It’s too much for me. Too much color, too much pattern, too girly, too much everything. Even the commercials are too much.
Is it a planner? Is it a scrapbook? I don’t have time to make Easter Egg shapes out of washi tape, that much I can tell you. I don’t do brunch with girlfriends. The daily schedule is morning, day, evening–no 30 minute increments. I spent an hour looking at patterns and couldn’t find one I truly liked. I’m pretty sure this planner isn’t for me.
$31, PLUS SHIPPING
The Plum Paper Designs Planner is another popular planner among bloggers. It’s not an Erin Condren, but it’s slowly but surely capturing market share. There are a lot of “Why I ditched my Erin Condren for Plum Paper” videos out there. The Plum Paper planner is cheaper, so that’s good. The planner is 7.5×9 with a plastic cover and spiral binding. The pages are semi-customizable, which means I can organize my days in increments. Best of all, I decide the month I want to start my calendar. No waste, no juggling another calendar until January. This is a huge selling feature for me! There are some bells and whistles, but not so many that I’m overwhelmed or feeling like I’m wasting time and paper.
I don’t like most of the patterns, so that’s too bad. I also don’t like the frosted plastic cover that protects the patterned cover underneath. That makes me think the patterned cover isn’t durable. I’m not confident in the spiral binding.
Out of all of the planners I’ve looked at, the Plum Paper is the one I will most likely buy. We’ll see. I still have a couple more weeks to make a last-minute decision.
OK, so. Anyone else out there using a paper planner, or am I a lone ship at sea?
A few weeks ago asked me to check out their new feature. I debated doing it because involved online shopping, which I like to avoid as often as possible. When I decide I want something, I want it right then and without the cost of shipping. This is a problem when you don’t live near the “cool” stores and explains why my house falls low on the Blogger Scale of Chevrons and Quirky Home Decor. But, I agreed to do it because I know from reading blogs that daily sales programs are the way to go for items like rugs, mirrors, and other big-ticket home accessories.
Important: I’ve purchased from Wayfair many times and have never had a problem. They’re one of the very few online companies I use aside from Amazon.
More important: I really wanted an outdoor rug.
Most important: they gave me $100 to try it.
The other problem I have with daily sales is that you have to be on top of it to grab the best sales, especially if you live on the West Coast. Those New Yorkers have 3 hours on me! I was not on top of things, which should surprise no one, and missed a few really great deals on outdoor rugs. This annoyed me, so I decided to give up the rug dream and focus my efforts on an area of the site I knew few people would venture: . Check out that link if you’re looking for a stainless steel potting bench.
Success! I bought 6 large hanging planters for our front and back porches. I spent $117. Buying hanging planters has been on my list for a long time, but I wanted 6 larges one at $35-$40 each. I didn’t want to spend $300 (factoring in plants) on something I wasn’t sure I could keep alive in our climate, so I never pulled the trigger. The daily deal (and the $100) made snapping up this deal an easy decision.
My plan for this post–I was so excited when the planters arrived!–was to share pictures of them filled and hanging pretty against a summer sky. Instead, they’re sitting in their boxes because I’m scared to mess them up. The planters are pretty and of good quality. My brain might explode if I see them filled with dead or dying plants.
This much I know: I’m zone 9 and my front and back porches face west and east respectively. The front porch gets full sun and the back porch is partially shaded morning sun. There is some dappled southern light on both porches. The baskets would hang over a bed, so I’m not worried about water dripping onto the floor or furniture. That should make watering them easier.
And watering them is what worries me. The have coconut liners, so that should help, but it’s still a fact that I live in a dry, hot climate. I’ve heard some people line the base of their hanging baskets with disposable diapers to keep the moisture in!
I think I’m going with fuchsias for the shady back porch with eastern morning sun. They remind me of being a newlywed. I wanted a fuchsia tree for our front porch but we faced west, on a hill of decomposed granite, in a new development devoid of trees. Even I couldn’t convince myself it would work. I need to do some more research on them, but I hear there’s some regular feeding and fussy watering involved.
For the front, I’m considering million bells/petunias. I’ve had luck with them at our old house, and that place was like living on the surface of the sun. I’m also considering hanging succulents because that picture of the succulents hanging from the mulberry tree needs to be replicated with my Chinese elm.
Sigh. Something tells me that I’m going to have to just plant something in there and see what happens before I end up treating hanging baskets with the same guarded optimism I treat online shopping.
Sign up for Wayfair Daily Sales Emails
A while back I wrote about looking for a plant stand. I wanted something larger than what I found, and I also wanted something in a dark finish so it would sort-of match the dining table since they’d be in the same room–mere feet from each other, actually. The IKEA one I mentioned in the post was in the right price range, and I liked the glass shelves, but I wanted something sturdier in such a high traffic area. I had visions of glass all over the floor following an attack from an errant soccer ball or light saber.
I ended up buying this bookshelf on sale at Cost Plus World Market. I wanted solid wood in a dark finish, and this bookshelf meets both requirements. Cons: the shelves are wood, and I wanted something less easy to suffer water damage. Another con (and this is a major one) I can’t display any of my tall plants. The shelves are for books, so that’s expected. Also, our hermit crab takes up a good deal of room and determined how I was going to place the rest of the shelves.
There is enough room on top for my pothos, and I’m thinking of adding a string of pearls, but I killed my last one. I think the pot and soil were the problem, so I’m willing to try again.
I finally printed out a picture of Buster. Nico and I cried when I placed it on the shelf. I was in a glum mood for the rest of the day. Mikey just stood there with a stoic look on his face.
I need to repot my cacti, but I can’t decide If I want to add more.
The hermit crab tank and my ferns, which are so far doing well in the terrarium. I mist them regularly, but I don’t know what I’m going to do once they outgrow the terrarium. Buy a larger one? No clue what to do. The main point of this picture, though, is to rejoice that I finally have a place to easily access my gardening books. Observation: the best garden books are vintage or at the latest from the 80s. (Which I guess is vintage now. Gah.) Today’s garden books are slick and pretty and, from my experience, rarely of much use. I would love current recommendations that aren’t a waste of money and are for people who actually enjoy and grow house plants. The books I reference most are goofy-looking Sunset publications from the 70s with poorly-styled photos. I’ve used this one since I was a kid. (Wish I was joking.)
I bought my first African violet pot! I’ve resisted for years, and after a disastrous attempt at keeping African violets 14 years ago, I figured they weren’t for our dry area. Aha! All that changed with this short and squat self-watering pot. I’m now a firm believer in the right pot for the right plant. I thought if I babied them enough, I could make anything live. Nope. Wrong. So wrong. I’m now so happy with my violets that I want to start a collection of them.
I posted a similar picture on instagram, and someone mentioned that African violets reminded them (in a good way) of their great grandmother. Sounds right up my alley.
The best thing about working for Wayfair is how accepting they are about my personal beliefs and interests, even when they may go against their sales goals. I debated for a while before accepting their offer to post for them. I worried that I would have to sell items people didn’t need in a style I didn’t like. Luckily, that has never happened. In fact, I’ve had the opposite experience. They have encouraged me to write about what I love because they believe passion sells, not strategically placed links. When Buster died, I missed a deadline. It just completely slipped my mind, and when my contact emailed me asking where my post was, I was horribly embarrassed. I wrote out the post and sent it to her as soon as possible. A few days later, this pillow arrived on my doorstep. Forgive me if I’ve told this story before, but it’s so nice that I like to tell it over and over again.
So, holiday decor. I used to hate it, but working in the library got me to see the magic in decorating for holidays–at least within reason. I don’t mind going a little crazy for the kids at school, but having all those decorations at home goes against the principles of The William Morris Project when you think of the money spent and space required to store them properly.
I’ve been thinking a lot about outside decorating for the holidays. How to make it inviting without being over-the-top or obnoxious; how to spend my money on items that last beyond a few weeks; how to spread what I think is beautiful without being wasteful of both my time and my money. That’s why I wrote about over at Wayfair, and I would love for you to check it out.
As always, thank you for your support.