Simplified Planner Giveaway!

FREE Simplified Planner Giveaway - Enter here ::

This is my first year with my Simplified Planner and to say that I LOVE it would be an understatement.

I’m, like, borderline-obsessed.

And because I love the Simplified Planner so much, I want to share the love by giving YOU the opportunity to win one.

FREE Simplified Planner Giveaway - Enter here ::

One lucky winner will receive:

To enter to win this prize bundle, go to my Instagram account.

The winner will be tagged in my Instagram account on Friday, December 14th.

FREE Simplified Planner Giveaway - Enter here ::

As the creator of this planner, Emily Ley, would say  – ‘A planner won’t fix your life.  But this can be one of the tools that helps you to reign in the craziness so that you can focus on the really good stuff in this life.’

Start the New Year off right with a FREE Simplified Planner Bundle.  Enter here.

FREE Simplified Planner Giveaway - Enter here ::

P.S. Simplified Planner not your thing? Try this free printable to keep track of all.the.things.

Simple DIY Advent Calendar

Simple DIY Advent Calendar ::

Yes.  You read that correctly.  I am showing YOU how to do a DIY project.

If you look outside, I think you’ll also see pigs flying.

What’s the DIY mantra?  ‘Why buy something when you can make it yourself?’  I live by the opposite mantra.  ‘Why take the time and effort to make something when you can buy it?’ And if I can’t afford to buy it, I guarantee that I can’t afford to make it because I will mess up the first three attempts and end up buying enough supplies that I spend more than I would have if I would have just purchased it in the first place.

Full disclosure, I came to this DIY project begrudgingly. I wanted an Advent calendar, but couldn’t find one that really focused on waiting.

Not on waiting impatiently for presents, but rather, on preparing our hearts for the coming of a Savior.

I had just about given up last year when I found this little countdown banner (similar) in the Christmas section at Target for $5.  The backside of each number card is blank and I decided to use that as the teaching part of this little exercise.

I googled “Christmas Hymns” and found a list of 20 of them.  While waiting for Thanksgiving dinner, sitting amongst my kids’ crayons, I grabbed the cards and wrote each of the hymn titles on a card and picked my five favorites to write twice.  My daughter “helped” by adding her scribbles.

Simple DIY Advent Calendar ::

Breakfast is our family meal, so we start breakfast each morning with this banner.  One of our kids grabs the card with the number of how many days it is until Christmas.  We search on the iPad for that hymn on You Tube.

While eating breakfast, we listen to a song about the birth of Jesus.  Sometimes we sing along, sometimes I pause and take note of the powerful lyrics.  Rarely everyone is listening all at once.

Nothing about this is perfect.  Not the banner, the singing (or lack thereof) or the artwork.

But it achieves it’s purpose.  As we count down the days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we fill our home with the promises that God gives us in His Son.  Each day starts with a reflection on what it means that God left heaven to come (as my one of my favorite hymns says) “To raise the sons of earth, Born to given them second birth.”

Simple DIY Advent Calendar ::

Simple DIY Advent Calendar How To

  1. Buy a countdown tool.  Or, if you’re an over-achiever, make one.  For slackers like me, a few options include these cute mittens, a wall hanging with pockets, galvanized little buckets or these adorable stockings.
  2. Write a hymn title on each countdown piece.  Of if it’s a material that can’t be written on (buckets or felt stockings), write the titles on little slips of paper and stick them inside.

That’s it.  Easiest DIY EVER.  Which is the only reason that I did it.

Don’t let perfection be the goal.  Or the standard.

Let this be a tool that brings your family closer together as you wait.  Use it to teach that waiting is good.

And don’t worry about the imperfect handwriting in crayon.  In a few years, your grown children will laugh with you about it.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.

Simple DIY Advent Calendar ::

P.S.  Technically, you could say that I have another Christmas craft tradition as well, but I like to call it organizing.  And, since one of the joys of Christmas is giving presents, you should start with an organized gift wrap station.


Currently ::

I Am Currently…..


My plaid infinity scarf (similar).

Scarves are a necessity here in the tundra.  But, they’re also a way to kick up an otherwise  boring outfit.

Yesterday, I wore jeans and a long-sleeve tee.  BORING.  But by simply adding the scarf, it looked a little more put together.  And I was cozy.

Infinity scarves are my favorite.  I’m sure that you’re not surprised to hear that I’ve always struggled with how to correctly tie a scarf, so when the work is done for me, I’m all in.


Suffering by Paul David Tripp.

I saw this on a friend’s kitchen counter and mentioned that I’d wanted to read it.  The next time I saw her, she handed it to me.

I can’t put it down.  And I’m not a fast reader.  Or a finisher of books, for that matter.  But this is different.

Paul David Tripp is one of my favorite authors (I highly recommend his devotional New Morning Mercies) and in Suffering, he tells the story of his personal suffering with physical illness and the journey he is on in dealing with that ongoing pain.  He writes about it in an authentic way that is equally heart-breaking and refreshing.

At the risk of breaking some copyright laws, let me just share with you this paragraph:

“Scripture never looks down on the sufferer, it never mocks his pain, it never turns a deaf ear to his cries, and it never condemns him for his struggle.  It presents to the sufferer a God who understands, who cares, who invites us to come to him for help, and who promises one day to end all suffering of any kind once and forever.  Because of this, the Bible, while being dramatically honest about suffering, is at the same time gloriously hopeful.  And it’s not just that the Bible tells the story of suffering honestly and authentically; it also gives us concrete and real hope.” – Suffering, Paul David Tripp


Sausage and Kale Soup from the Magnolia Table cookbook.

I’m making my way through that cookbook, and as I was flipping pages, my daughter saw a picture of this soup and told me that I should make it.  So, I did.

She didn’t eat a single bite.

But it was delicious and I ate quite a few bites.

I also made the Tomato Soup from the same cookbook and it was not to my liking.  There was nothing wrong with the recipe, just a personal preference.  I feel the need to note this publicly because, so far, I’ve raved about every other recipe that I’ve tried in that cookbook!


The Blacklist.

YOU GUYS.  This show is SO GOOD.

I remember when this show premiered thinking that it looked good and that it would be something that I would enjoy.  I was obsessed with the show Alias back in the day and The Blacklist seemed to have the same kind of mystery and intrigue that I loved.

But I never actually tuned it to watch The Blacklist.  Until now.  It is the definition of binge-worthy.  I can’t get enough of it.


My new Pottery Barn Cozy Cable Knit Throw.

This is one of those things that I’ve wanted and had on my Christmas list for a decade.  And I got it last week thanks to a huge sale and a generous husband.

It is just as good as you think it’s going to be.  Soft cable knit on top and the coziest fleece-y stuff underneath.  I snuggle up with it on the couch in the evening and then take it with me to our bed.  It’s the best blanket I’ve ever had.


That I want to find a really good Advent countdown to do with our family.  Got any suggestions?

Greeting Card Journals

Greeting Card Journals ::

I grew up in a family that gives cards for every occasion.

The big (what most people would call normal) events warranted two cards – one funny and one sentimental.  The lesser holidays – you know, like Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or Arbor Day – only warranted a single card.

Because of growing up like this, I do love giving and receiving greeting cards.

But, what do you do with greeting cards after you’ve read them?

I don’t know the answer to that question.

Greeting Card Journals ::

In our immediate family, we no longer give greeting cards, and instead, have, what we call, Greeting Card Journals.

This is just one more idea that was not originally mine and that I got from friends (others being this, this and this).

Each family member has their own journal, and on an occasion that warrants a greeting card, family members write in that person’s journal.  So far, we’ve mostly just written in them for birthdays and anniversaries, but as our kids get older, I can see also writing in it on other “milestone” events.

Greeting Card Journals ::

Why Greeting Card Journals?

  1. They Get Re-Read – It is not uncommon for my daughter to ask to have her “birthday book” read to her.  She loves to hear the words written to her by her mom and dad from when she turned 2 and 3 and 4.  Instead of having cards that sit in a box stuffed somewhere, these greeting card journals are easily accessible.  I have been known to grab mine off the shelf and read sweet, encouraging words to give me a pick-me-up on a tough day.
  2. Less Clutter – These journals stay on a family bookshelf.  We don’t have to find a place to keep and pack away stacks of various sized cards.  And they look pretty on the bookshelf.
  3. Cheaper – There is nothing special about these journals.  I got them at Target a few years ago for $8 each.  Most greeting cards are $3-$4.  You can do the math to see how quickly a journal becomes the more cost-effective solution.
  4. Keepsake – If our house was burning (and everyone was out safe) and I had one minute to grab something before we got out, I’d grab these greeting card journals.  In those pages are some of the sweetest memories and words that any of us have.  These journals are a record, not only of some of our best days, but also of the people with whom we shared those days.  And written reminders of how much we love one another.  That is gold.

I still buy and send greeting cars to other family members.  And I still oboe getting cards in the mail from friends and family.  But, for our immediate family, who would otherwise exchange hundreds of cards over the coming decades, greeting card journals are much better way to go.

Greeting Card Journals ::

P.S. For those of you who still want to send greeting cards, here’s how I make sure that I don’t miss one.

Bottom Drawer Freezer Organization

Bottom Drawer Freezer Organization ::

French door refrigerators are the greatest invention since the wheel.  This may be a overstating things slightly.  But only slightly.

I love having my entire refrigerator at the top.  Like most of us who grew up in the 80’s, until the last decade, I’ve only known a freezer on the top 1/3 and the fridge on the bottom 2/3 of the unit.  A whole new world was opened up to me when some brilliant engineer decided to switch up those two locations.

I don’t love having a big drawer on the bottom.

It becomes a deep abyss of freezer-burned veggies, bread, fruit and waffles that I can never find when I need them.

The top half justifies the button, but a big drawer isn’t ideal.

So, let’s try to make the best out of a non-ideal situation.

Because I will get asked, I will start by saying that we have the Kenmore Elite 29.8 cubic foot French Door Refrigerator.  A unique feature is it’s two slide out trays, in addition to the lower drawer.  If your bottom drawer freezer isn’t like that, don’t let it be a deterrent.  Us the same tactics and tricks for your one drawer that I use for my two.

Rarely do I think that purchasing containment is the answer to most organizing problems, but this is the exception.

The size and position of bottom drawer freezers require a little more to achieve maximum usage.  Or, at the very least, to not be the bane of my existence.

Since I’ve now suggested finding some containment, I think you can guess what’s coming next…. If you’re going to purchase product, (say it with me…), MEASURE TWICE, PURCHASE ONCE.

Measure the length, width & depth of the trays and the deep drawer.  Search for products using these parameters.  There’s nothing exciting about doing math and looking for fine print in product descriptions, but it’s less exciting to think you found a solution and shell out cash, only to find it doesn’t do what you hoped it would.  (For my own failure with this, check out this embarrassing video.)

The containment that I used in my top freezer tray is mis-match of what I had lying around.

Bottom Drawer Freezer Organization ::

The multi-purpose bins that I use in the deep part of the drawer are second only to my beloved shoebox bins on my list of all-time favorite organizing products.  They are at the top of that list for the same reasons: A multitude of uses & they’re cheap!

Thankfully, these multi-purpose bins fit perfectly in the drawer of our freezer, so it was just a matter of deciding on a size configuration.

My brain thinks in categories, so the easiest way for me to divide up the mess of bags in the drawer was to divide it into food groups.

Our freezer drawer categories are Fruits, Veggies, Bread, Meat & Potatoes.

Yours may be breakfast, lunch & supper.  Or they can be divided up by color.  Whatever works for you works here.

Bottom Drawer Freezer Organization ::

Measuring and finding the containment will be the hardest part of this organization project.  Once you have the containment, taking your bottom drawer freezer from pile of Who-Knows-What to Place Where Food Can Be Easily Accessed should take you less than 20 minutes.  That’s the commercial breaks during a one-hour TV show.

What do you find to be the hardest part bottom drawer freezer organization?

Bottom Drawer Freezer Organization ::

P.S. Feeling ambitious?  Use these tips to organize your fridge.  Sick of wasting frozen food?  This is how we avoid that trap.