One Month of Bullet Journaling

One month ago I purchased a Moleskine notebook and started my 2017 bullet journal.

A bullet journal is a place to plan and organize not only your schedule, but also all of the countless lists that accumulate in your mind. I wanted to be sure that my bullet journal would become a keepsake for the year of the many things I enjoy and the memories I wish to record.

In the past I’ve used pretty planners, but after months of pinning bullet journal pages online I decided to go for it in the new year. I have an obsession with pretty stationary and organization so the concept of bujo (short for bullet journal) was appealing to me. Armed with a blank notebook for the year was intimidating at first so I started with outlining big moments in 2016.

IMG_5416 (1).jpeg

After my 2016 review, I created my future log for all planning. I included calendars for every month in 2017 and places to jot down events in advance on that calendar. For each week within the month I have a calendar that is for daily tasks and appointments to be tracked.

img_5368

img_5613

Some of my favorite collections so far are:

  • To-Read List
  • “Oh the Places We’ll Go”- a list of travel destinations this year
  • “Take Me to the Movies”- a list of movies we saw in the cinema this year
  • 30 Day Spending Freeze
  • Game Night Stats- a running tally of the games and winners from our weekly game nights at home. (This was part of my new year’s resolutions and it’s been so much fun!)
  • Blog Stats Tracker

 

img_5367

img_5370

img_5554

img_5555

img_5556

One month in and I am already noticing an increase in my productivity. I spend a few minutes every morning planning the day and few minutes before bed reflecting on the day that has just passed. I am really enjoying this practice. It has been healthy for both my mind and my creative soul.

I’m planning to share some of my progress in bullet journaling throughout the year. Which page or collection is your favorite so far?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Advertisements

Happy New Year 2017

Today is day 1 of a brand new year. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and to set your sights on goals for the upcoming one. Recently, I’ve taken on a new addiction–bullet journaling. If you have a few hours to waste on Pinterest take a look at my bullet journal board. I’ve been pinning ideas and creating spreads in my Moleskine for about a week now.

In the final hours of 2016 I decided to review the past twelve months on a page of my bullet journal.

img_5416

And now that 2017 has officially started I’ve also written out my New Years Resolutions.

  1. Write 300 words per day
  2. Read 26 books of my own choosing
  3. Commit to Gluten-free/Paleo diet
  4. Institute a Family Game Night weekly
  5. Keep a Bullet Journal

IMG_5417.jpeg

I hope your year is off to a great start and that you have written some goals to motivate you in 2017!

Happy New Year!

The Ameri Brit Mom

My Sunday Routine

A pot of coffee is brewing. My daughter is tuckered out on the couch. My husband is off at the gym with some friends. These are the moments I long for all week. Sunday afternoons have become my most productive and rewarding time slots thanks to the new rhythm my family has established this fall. I begin my time with a mug of coffee. It’s my reward for making it through another week. Once the caffeine has tapped into my bloodstream, I’m ready to conquer the week ahead. I’ve learned that the successes of the week ahead are determined by my productivity on Sunday afternoon. This is a peaceful ME TIME that leaves me feeling like Mama Warrior every weekend.

img_4669

1. Meal Plan

Across my table I spread out my planner, every cookbook I own, and a box of family recipes. I spend a twenty minutes or so scouring each of these resources in addition to my recently posted pins from Pinterest in order to create a weekly meal plan. Also, I build my grocery list as I go. I always begin with meal planning, because in our house my husband does the grocery shopping. I can send him off to the store while I continue to work on my Sunday routines.

img_4671

2. Laundry

Next, I clear out all of the hampers throughout the house and clean all of our clothes for the week. In a perfect world I’d be caught up every Sunday, but the reality is that some Sundays I have more time than others to complete the laundry. At the very least I try to be caught up with laundry every other weekend. This helps make the house seem clean and gives each of us several options when it comes to step 5.

img_4672

3. Blog Plan

My routine for blogging has adjusted a bit this year to account for several personal projects that take up substantial amounts of time. For the most part, my blog posts are written over the weekend, and scheduled to be published throughout the week. I spend most of my Saturday mornings crafting posts and writing, but on Sundays I put the final touches on posts and get them scheduled for the week ahead. I also track my weekly stats from my site in my blog planner which is something I sit down and work on every Sunday afternoon.

IMG_2350

4. Sunday Basket

I started this project back in April, and it has really helped to control the mass of papers that can tend to collect all over the house. Throughout the week we receive paper after paper from mail to schedules to artwork from my daughter in her pre-school class. If we get something we know we will throw away (like junk mail) we throw it away immediately, otherwise we place it in the basket to be acted upon on Sundays. On Sunday, I sort through the basket. I make three piles: file, throw away, or action required. Then, I go through and complete whatever action is needed for each piece. This really helps to control the paper madness that can so easily get out of control. This idea comes from Organize 365.

img_4670-1

5. Lay out clothes for the week

Another huge time saver for the week is to determine my attire for the whole week on Sunday afternoons. Generally, on Sundays I have a much more inspired attitude toward my clothes than on a late night or early morning. Clothes have been freshly cleaned and with a little extra energy from the coffee (or extra rest during the weekend) I comb through my closet and jewelry box and create my wardrobe for the week.

I know that each household looks different and we all have routines that work for us and our families. I’d love to hear how you tackle the weekly organization and scheduling for your house.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Book Review

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.

Title: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Author: Marie Kondo

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Copyright Date: 2014

IMG_3116

For the past week I’ve been in hard core tidying mode. I attribute my passion for cleanliness to having read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book by a Japanese organizational consultant and it is about her experiences and methods for helping people to declutter their homes while also getting their life affairs in order.

We’ve all heard about ways that some of the cleanest people keep things clean and tidy.

“Just clean a little bit every day.”

“For each thing you buy get rid of something else.”

“Store things according to your floor plan.”

In this book Marie Kondo debunks these popular statements and provides quick fixes for even the biggest of hoarders. (Here’s a hint: Her plan involves lots of trash bags.) By rethinking material objects and taking the time to go through your entire house you will find yourself more at ease and organized in every area of your life. Kondo has named her strategy the KonMarie method and it is sweeping Japan clean of clutter. In this book she explains her (slightly zen) plan of completing a Tidying Marathon, discarding unnecessary items in your house, and storing what you have decided to keep in a way that aids in the cleanliness of your home. Throughout the book she gives practical steps toward achieving not only your dreams for your home, but also your dreams for your life.

As a result of having read this book I’ve done some major work on my house.

I’ve already thrown out ten garbage bags full of things that were just taking up space in my home. And although I was a little nervous to let go of some things I’ve realized that I feel lighter because my house is lighter. It takes far less energy to keep my house clean. And thanks to the KonMarie method my husband and I have already established new systems for completing tasks around the house like doing laundry and washing the dishes. We are not quite done with our Tidying Marathon, but we’ve gotten so far and it feels so good!

If you struggle to keep your house clean, or if you are contemplating renting a storage unit please take a look at this book! It will change the way you look at the objects you own and quite possibly it will change your life.

The Ameri Brit Mom 

Five Minute Friday: Lose

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Lose. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

arnold--600x600.jpg

Early this spring my husband and I began our annual preparations for summer by cleaning out the house. This year during this cleaning we were overtaken by the amount of “things” we have accumulated in five years of marriage. Our kitchen cabinets were overflowing, closets were unable to close, and our two car garage had enough room to squeeze in one car at best. We felt like we were drowning in a sea of stuff. And most of that stuff was unused and just taking up space.

Refusing to let clutter take over our lives we decided to donate, throw out, and recycle so many of our things. We began the process of stripping our wardrobes of clothes we hadn’t worn in a while. My amazing husband took on the garage nearly by himself, and we refused to purchase things for our kitchen that could only serve one purpose.

Little did we know at the time that minimalism has been catching on in a big way.

Minimalism is the act of becoming content with minimal possessions in order to spend less time cleaning or focusing on accumulating objects. Well, that’s my definition anyway.

After discussions about buying less and investing more in others my husband and I found the website Becoming Minimalist which goes along with many of our discussions. We like how this website gives practical reasons and steps to implement minimalism in our household. It has inspired us to lose the “things” that take up so much of our time and replace them with memory making. Not only is this a wise decision when it comes to our finances, but also when it comes to alleviating our schedules. We have more time for each other because we aren’t spending all of our time chasing things or keeping them clean.

I have already taken up my five minutes. I will write more in the future about our acts of minimalism.

Throwback: How to Pack For An International Flight

In honor of our Traveling Adventures which begin today here is a look at a post from last summer about packing for an international flight:

I met my husband in 2007 and I have traveled every summer (and one Christmas) since to his hometown in England. As we embark on journey #9 to England I decided to share with you some things I’ve learned about packing for a two week journey overseas.

First off, I wish I had taken advice from seasoned travelers before my first couple of trips to England. It feels pretty helpless showing up in the airport to drop off your luggage and getting the red tag labeled, “OVERWEIGHT” strapped to the handle. Not only is there an added fee for any luggage over the limit (which for most airlines is 50 lbs.) but if it exceeds the limit too much they may force you to lighten the load before putting it on the plane. This is never a good experience. I’ve come a long way since my college days feeling the need to pack my entire dorm in my suitcase and so I thought I would share some things I’ve learned through the years about what to pack and what is unnecessary when it comes to international travel.

Pack:

1. An Adapter: Almost every international trip will require an adapter for that region if you plan to take anything electronic or any chargers for electronic devices. For the first few years I traveled to England I would buy these in the airport and they can tend to run quite high in price, but a few years later I was able to plan ahead and purchase a USA to UK adapter on Amazon.com in a pack of 3 for $5.00. It is a wise and worry-free step in the process of packing to research the adapters and purchase them in advance.

2. A carry-on bag filled with books, pens, and paper: As one enters a new country you will undoubtedly be expected to fill out a customs or claims card. In my experience many airlines provide these cards during the flight to help ease the process once you have landed at the destination, but they do not provide pens for filling out these cards. Have a carry-on bag packed full of things to keep you busy during the flight and always be sure to include a pen or two. Additionally many of these cards will ask for the address of the location where you will be staying so somewhere in your carry-on or a in a note on your phone have that address handy.

3. Clothes: It goes without saying that 80% or more of what you pack for your trip should be clothing. When it comes to what clothing to pack think about layers. As a preppy college student I always tried to pack my entire wardrobe for a two week trip to England which filled my luggage to the seams and oftentimes is what put me over the weight limit when it came to the airport scales. Realistically you should just pack minimally allowing room in the suitcase to bring back souvenirs from the trip.

I am about to take a two week trip and here is a list of the clothing I am packing. (Please note that it is much colder in the summer in England than in Ohio):

-5 pairs of shoes: athletics, 2 pairs of flip flops, dress shoes, sandals

-3 pairs of shorts

-2 pairs of jeans

-1 dress

-3 tank tops

-5 shirts or printed tops

-3 hooded sweatshirts (because it rains frequently in England)

*Another tip I’ve learned for those of you concerned about the weight of your luggage is to wear your bulkiest pieces to the airport so that they are not added to the weight of the suitcase. I tend to wear my athletic shoes because airports require lots of walking, but also because they are the heaviest of my shoes. I’ll also pack a sweatshirt or two in my carry-on because I’ve never been on a flight where I haven’t gotten cold at some point. Most airlines offer blankets, but most do not cover both legs and arms.

4. Beauty Products: It’s so easy to go overboard on products for a trip. I’ve learned to minimize packing in this area as well. Purchasing the $1 travel-size shampoos, conditioners, and lotions have become essential to my packing. Apart from shower materials you should limit the makeup and hair products that you hull around. I always spend quite some time thinking through what I need. Anything else is just going to be added weight and space. I do always pack my hair straightener and one bag of cosmetics.

That’s about it for the what-to-pack list. Now for those items that you better just leave at home:

1. Cds, Dvds, and other media beyond tablets: These items oftentimes are embedded with a regional code that players in another country will not be able to read. So if you pack your child’s favorite Dvd thinking that you can show it in a hotel room you will be disappointed. If you or a member of the family can’t go without a certain album or movie it is best to download it onto iTunes or Google Play and watch it on your tablet or iPad.

2. Breakables or spill-ables: If you’ve ever watched them load suitcases onto a plane the reason behind packing anything breakable or spill-able goes without explanation. Although your suitcase may house some of your most valuable possessions it is likely not going to be treated as such by the airline crew who has over 250 suitcases to load on one flight. Make sure anything liquid has a lid that is securely fastened. One year I made the tragic mistake of not checking the lid on my hair spray and opened up a suitcase full of sopping wet clothes. Not fun.

3. Food: The compartment where luggage is stored during a flight is not equipped with air conditioning which will cause many foods to spoil or melt. If you are planning to take snacks be sure to store them in your carry-on and check the guidelines for food and liquid to see what is acceptable with your airline.

4. Bulky items: Really anything that is not completely necessary for your trip should be left at home. Do not pack anything that is going to be bulky and take up more than its fair share in weight and space. In the past we’ve shipped large gifts or items that we would use on the trip ahead of time, but for the most part that hasn’t really been an issue.

My best advice is travel light and think twice before placing any item in your suitcase. There are not many things in life that I would consider myself an expert in, but international travel (especially with children) is definitely one thing I’m beginning to master. If you have any specific questions about international travel that were not addressed in this post please feel free to ask me in the comment box. I hope that I could lend some quality advice that I learned the hard way through trial and error.

IMG_1104

The Ameri Brit Mom

Clean Out That Closet!

A month in to my Home Organization Project I was at a point where a purge was in order. On Monday, my husband and I began to sift through our walk-in closet because it had become un-walkable. Getting rid of clothes is an activity that I should do more often. Ideally, at the beginning of each new season I would get rid of anything I didn’t wear by the end of the last, but there is something so final about the purge that keeps me from doing it regularly.

It isn’t even all that time consuming. It took about thirty minutes to go through every piece of my wardrobe and toss anything I wanted to donate into a large pile.

IMG_2449.JPG

From this large pile I filled four trash bags. Then, after everything was bagged up we loaded up our car and headed for the Goodwill Donation Center. Some of you are all about the garage sales, and kudos to you, but I can’t stand the stacks of things piling up somewhere in the house waiting for the sale date. So I donate. (Not to mention I feel a little better about the whole act of purging when I know that my clothes all have a chance at another home.)

Although I get a little apprehensive about giving things away, I felt a lot of freedom after the act was done. I went through my closet and did not allow myself to second guess any decisions. Also, another helpful thing I did was get rid of the clothes immediately. Had I let the mood subside and left the clothes in a donation box in my house somewhere I may have talked myself out of a few of the tosses.

Now, I have a fresh closet with space to walk and an ability to see each item of clothing clearly without having to deal with the wrinkling effects of things all stuffed together.

IMG_2454.JPG

The Ameri Brit Mom

Organization Projects

This winter was rough on my house. Not only did the cold and snow keep my family sequestered for days on end, but illness also ran rampant in our home for several weeks of the season. As the temperatures are on the upswing I’m beginning to get an itch to tackle the To-Do list at home and work on the projects I put off during the months where I lacked motivation. The first step to the process is getting organized.

Over the past several months I have really struggled to be an organized person. I missed important dates and events due to not keeping my calendar updated. I wasted a lot of time looking for things that I had misplaced. I even went days without cooking simply because I didn’t want to cook in a kitchen with dishes that needed to be done and floors that needed to be cleaned (it’s terrible I know.)

Two weeks ago I took a good solid look at my state of affairs and realized it was time for things to change. I had let the weather and my exhaustion keep me from taking care of my home and family in the way that I know I should.

As the weather changed into my favorite season of the year I found myself more energized and motivated to get my life in order. I’ve really enjoyed reading the blog Organize 365 by Lisa Woodruff. On her blog, she outlines practical, and inexpensive ways to get your life in order. I’ve taken her tips and when things apply to my life and my house I’ve begun to utilize those ideas.

My latest projects are just the beginning of a 40 week stretch to organize my whole home (let’s hope!) So far I have accomplished ridding my house of random papers by creating a Sunday basket and an efficient filing system.

 

IMG_2350

Sunday Basket

A Sunday Basket is a central landing place for all paper in the house. This is where all things from mail to items that need to be added to the master schedule should find themselves from Monday-Saturday. The goal is that you should take a half an hour every Sunday to sort through everything, take action when necessary on particular items, and file things away. The Sunday Basket should be completely emptied each Sunday.

The first Sunday I had a lot of paper to sift through and ended up spending an hour on the process, but the idea is that as you continue to utilize the Sunday Basket that it should take less and less time each week to reach the bottom. When I sat down to go through everything I created four piles: trash, to-shred, to file, and actionable items.

IMG_2375

For me, my kitchen ends up being the collection place for all things paper. In our home layout the kitchen is the entryway because I park my car in the garage, therefore, it ends up being the place where paper and random things are collected. After a day of work I get home and drop whatever is in my hands and head toward the couch to put my feet up for a few minutes. As opposed to making my kitchen table or counter top cluttered with bills, schedules, and correspondence, now I have established a functional system for dealing with the unmanageable amount of paper that enters my house on a weekly basis. My Sunday Basket sits on my counter top. Just above the basket, in the cupboard, I have cleared out a space for paper filing.

IMG_2349

Like many of you I do also have a home office, but it is upstairs and away from the entryway. While a home office is a great place to store files it isn’t necessarily in a central location in everyone’s home. The kitchen is the place where life happens. We spend far more time in the kitchen than any other room (apart from maybe the bedroom due to sleep.) So it makes sense that the kitchen should also function as a go-to place for all things of importance. Over the span of two weeks I have created new binders for my finances, home user manuals, meal planning, art projects, and my personal writing ventures. So far this system has worked seamlessly. And I feel much better about my house which was formerly being overtaken by loose papers.

Family Schedule

The next project I tackled involved my family schedule.

Like I said earlier I had been a bit lazy about using a master schedule. I had missed appointments, double booked my time, and even neglected to pay a couple of bills on time due to just not being on top of the dates. This was a huge issue and I’m embarrassed to say that I had let it get that bad. But, after reading Lisa’s plan for getting a master schedule up and running I decided to put it into practice in my own life.

I’m a paper-planner kind of girl. That is something that I think will never change about me. I love technology, don’t get me wrong, but I remember far more when I actually participate in jotting it down with pen and paper. So I dug out my abandoned planner and began to fill it with important events, ideas, and memos. Then, I color-coded the planner giving a color to each member of my family as well as major categories like church and appointments. I like a color-coded system because it helps me to quickly see from a glance where I tend to budget my time.

The next phase in my home organization project involves establishing a system for packing lunches quickly while also providing healthy options. If you are like me and struggle to stay balanced and keep on top of everything check out the blog, Organize 365!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Five Minute Friday: News

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is News. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

news-2-600x600

Not much news in The Ameri Brit life lately. Each member of my family has fallen victim to a 24 hour flu bug at some point this week. This morning marks the first day of all three of us being able to eat and keep food down. It has not been a fun week to say the least. So, today and tomorrow will be recovery days in which I plan to completely disinfect every square inch of my house.

Which does lead me to a bit of blog-related news.

Over the past seventy-two hours I’ve done little aside from sleeping, getting sick, and surfing Pinterest. During my time thumbing through pins I’ve decided to begin an organization project for my home. Starting this week I will be embarking on a 40-week home organization process following the tips and app by Organize365 and Lisa Woodruff. If you are unfamiliar with this blog, I suggest following it! It is full of easy-to-implement ideas to help you take control of an unorganized home and life.

With the first step in her organizational plan, Lisa calls attention to all of the paper in our houses which can clutter and keep us from being on the ball when it comes to dates, times, bills, etc. I will be spending today gathering all of my household papers into a single laundry basket. That’s an easy enough step 1. The hard part is yet to come. Filing and finding a home for these papers is the real challenge.

So as I disinfect my germ-infested home this afternoon I will be toting around a laundry basket and gathering up every loose piece of paper. Getting rid of all the paper is a huge first step for me.

What is the hardest part of getting organized for you?

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

My Fuel

As a full time mother, teacher, and wife I struggle with finding time for writing on the side. Writing has been a passion of mine for a while, but over the past year I have had countless opportunities to use my writing as a ministry. The idea alone that God has gifted me with the ability to use my writing to reach others fuels me to make it a priority. I try to write daily, however, many days writing is an after thought. It happens when chores, grading, cooking, bathing, and playing are completed. When my daughter starts to slow down, I turn on the coffee pot and prepare for my writing time. As much as I would like to nap as well, I find myself turning to coffee for the pick-me-up I need to make sure the writing gets accomplished.

Putting pen to paper can be quite the task after a long day. Some days the creative energy just flows, and other days it’s in need of some fuel. So naturally, I turn to coffee. For me, coffee fuels about 85% of all my writing. Rarely do I sit down to draft a blog post, work on my manuscript, or journal without the accompaniment of a warm cup of coffee. Most writing sessions begin with a good brew. Even as I write now I’m watching my daughter play while sipping on a medium-roast pour-over with two creams and six thousand packs of sugar.

Each of us has something we turn to when the creativity is just not there. Or the ideas aren’t flowing like a mad river.

What fuels you?

IMG_2211.jpg