Open When Letters

Have you given or received Open When Letters?


These take some time to make but are completely worth it. Google Open When Letters for a ton of ideas on how to use them. They make fantastic going away presents.

These were part of my daughter’s going away gift for college.

Need a gift for a high school graduate? These are great.

#ThingsTotallyWorthDoing 🙂


Scanning and Shredding

I am currently working on downsizing the paperwork and photos in our home.

Finally working on minimalizing papers.

My daughter has successfully begun college! She’s doing great, and that makes this particular transition super easy on me. Thanks, sweetie!

I have been diving into a few projects of my own, while I have approximately four weeks of what the outside world would consider, “off.” One of these projects is to scan and shred items that have no reason to be taking up physical space in our home, anymore. Those “memories” of past years, and some boring documents, too.

The first few piles haven’t been bad, as they were boxes of documents that have moved from the last two homes without being opened. Kind of easy to know I don’t need these papers regularly. 🙂

Help: I am listening to The Minimalists podcast while doing this to keep me in the right frame of mind.

Note: I procrastinated starting this project, but have now reached a bit of a groove with it. With each box I empty, we gain more space in our apartment, and it is less that I need to clean around/dust. Woo hoo! Win, win!

We Went Van Camping

We successfully van camped, but didn’t get any photos of the van. :/

My daughter and I successfully van camped last week.

What is van camping?

Well, for me, it is when you wish you had a camper, but you decide that your minivan will do just fine for sleeping; because while you do have a tent, you don’t want to sleep on the ground.

The funny part is that I forgot to take pics of the van as a tent. For the record, it worked well, and we plan to do it again! I am not sure how all three of us would be able to make it work, but for two, it was lovely.

Here are some photos/comments:

#9 Favorite Podcasts

Since the beginning of the year, I have been listening to podcasts often. These are my current top five.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been listening to podcasts often. These are my top five:

Up First: NPR: I was on the search for something that would update me on politics without strong emotions attached, as I was frustrated with the angry political rants happening (on both sides) that sometimes would draw me away from the actual story. Goodness gracious, this was not easy to find. However, once I discovered NPR’s Up First podcast, life improved for me. This podcast is about ten minutes long and is typically posted by 6 AM, Monday through Friday. Up First provides the perfect amount up information and analysis. As for emotional commentary – there is only time for a sigh here and there or some giggles.

The Life Coach School Podcast: Brooke Castillo has changed my life. Really. My thoughts are clearer and kinder (to myself especially) than they have been in years due to Brooke’s podcasts. These are out every Thursday, and I have yet to find a podcast of Brooke’s that hasn’t given me multiple things to think about and apply in my life.

The Minimalists Podcast: I have a dream to live in an RV or a tiny home at some point in my life (hubby not so much), so this podcast is my jam.

Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management & Customer Service: I have been working my way through this podcast, as I love all things Walt Disney World. While much of what I have listened to (thus far) is not new to me, I enjoy the stories Lee Cockerill shares very much.

NPR’s Planet Money: This one is a filler for me when I need a break from everything else. It is not like anything I would think about listening to, but the stories are crazy interesting.

Blog Post Photo - Favorite Podcasts

#5 How I manage my days/weeks/months/year.

The power of writing things down, and planning your week ahead. How I keep my days organized. Spoiler Alert: It isn’t an app.

My college ruled composition book.
My Life Saver with Getting Things Done.

A composition book is my lifesaver.

Yes, I do keep my calendar in Google calendar, which I can access when I am out and about. Aaand, yes, I also have a (dollar store) wall calendar that hangs in the kitchen for the family’s quick reference, but my To-Do Book is the key to me getting to appointments on time and accomplishing tasks.

It fits in my purse, and I take it almost everywhere I go. For me, the act of writing things down forms a stronger pathway in my brain than if I had added the same task into an app (personal preference).

At some point every weekend,  I have time set aside for planning for the week ahead. It may seem like a ton of work but, in reality, I save so much time throughout the week by being uber-organized that it is now something that is non-negotiable for me.

Weekend Ahead Planning:

  • I first make sure that any new activities that added to my To-Do Book over the week, are logged into my Google calendar.
  • I take 5 minutes (max) to make sure my Google calendar and wall calendar are in sync.
  • I then spend about 15 minutes, creating pages in my To-Do Book for the week ahead.

    Keep the left page blank for notes/ideas.
  • The days where I have a lot going on, a full page is used (on the right). Note:  I always leave the left page blank for any notes/ideas/thoughts that I want to remember.
  • The days where I know I don’t need much space, I may have the days share a page.
  • Each day I include the date, the day of the week, and my daily must-dos: these are things I usually do before I get going in the day. Daily must-dos are non-negotiables and are the items that I’ve found if I skip, they will nag at me throughout the day.
  • If I have an outside appointment, it goes on the page, BUT I don’t stop there. I always take the time to note the time that  I need to leave my house to stay on schedule.  This was life changing for me.  With homeschooling, we don’t always have a routine Monday through Friday.  Each day seems a little bit different with activities such as doctor appointments, outside classes, a trip to the city, and more.

Learning to walk through my entire day ahead of time, and making notes about details that I still need to resolve makes the week ahead run well. “Hmmm.. wait, do I need to pack a lunch for Wednesday?” If the answer is, “yes,” I add the preparation needed to my days.

I used to wake up in the morning, make breakfast, look at my calendar and then figure out what is going on for the day. On a good day, I might have done that all the night before but by doing this a few days out, I can trouble-shoot anything early. Talk about stress-relieving. 


  • The left page is for ANYTHING that I think is important that I might want to remember… a friend who says they are having surgery in September; a reminder to change my password on something; a book I saw that I want to read; etc.

    Make your list useful
    Clip your notebook/To-Do Book OPEN!
  • The magic clip holds the power. The thing that takes this portable To-Do Book from functional to life changing is having it OPEN to the day you are on all the time and keeping it with you – OPEN! I picked up an easel clip from an art store and use it to hold my book open to the current day. This way, when I come up with ten other thoughts in my head, I write it in the book (left page).
  • This powerful clip also helps to save anything of importance – for example, a card you want to deliver to someone (people still do that, right?) or a form you need to hand in somewhere. I place these items under the clip on the left page.

    At the End of a day my book looks like this.

At the end of each day (5 min. max)

  • I take a look at the next day – has anything changed?
  • I review the notes from the current day. Anything I did not complete either a) was not that important and umm… do I really need it on my list or b) is important, and I move it to the next appropriate day.
  • I look at all that I accomplished and pat myself on the back. 🙂

Stocking  Up

I stock up on composition books in August during the back to school sales (50 cents each or so). The key for me, is that I need something I can take everywhere. It must be able to fit in my purse.

Starting A New Book

When it is time for a new book, I go to the very last page where I keep a list of books that sound interesting to read. In viewing my prior To-Do Book reading list, I transfer any unread books that I still have an interest in reading.

Book Reading List

Then I flip one additional page backward, and this is where I list my long-term goals. Things like:

Declutter a room.

Go through videos and photos from 2016 and get them in a photo book and backed-up.

Make vacation plans.

Look at college financial information.

For the odd days, where I feel like I want to work on a project but need an idea, I head to my long-term goal list and begin working on one of those.

With those back pages setup, I return to the cover to label it with the start date. Sometimes, I will add some fun stickers.

Once I clip the book open to today, it is all ready to go!

What do you think?

My To-Do Book is what keeps me on the ball.

Every minute I spend using this book is worth it, as I gain ten times that in free time where I’m not wondering, “what is next, what do I need to do,” and so on.

Guess what I get to do now? I am off to check off that I finished my next WP post. Woo hoo! Of course, that was in my book. 🙂

Have a wonderful day,