Organizing with Bullet Journals

I love making lists…that’s my happy place. When I first read about bullet journals this summer, I was immediately intrigued. They’re a little pricey, however, so I didn’t pursue that creative avenue. I may have already had a couple or twenty unfinished projects cluttering up my craft room. Then, when I found a pack of 6 Moleskine notebooks for less than $20 at Costco, I remembered the bullet journal concept.

It’s simple, really, and any notebook, composition book, or spiral would work. You can buy a journal already printed with a contents page and page numbers, but I’m pretty literate, so I was confident I could create my own from a blank notebook.  My middle schooler created one in math last year, in a grid-lined composition book. What a genius teacher…I didn’t realize that’s what a bullet journal is, but the method for notetaking and numbering the pages with a table of contents kept him organized all year, which is no easy task. Until he lost the whole notebook the week before school ended. But I’ve gone off on a tangent (see what I did there, with the math discussion?)Journal-Title-ChaosServedDa

“Throw kindness around like confetti” is one of my favorite phrases, so I used this sign from a Stampin’ Up! kit from last year, along with a few fun washi tapes, to embellish the front of one of the kraft journals. These are 7-1/2″ x 10″ journals, so can hold a lot of information. And lists.


At the top of the first page, I wrote “Contents,” then “Page” and “Description.”  I also seized an opportunity to use a couple more tapes, and sketched a little cross-hatched strip between them. I plan to add to the doodling, down the side of the page, as the table of contents grows.

Next, I simply added a page number to the bottom corner of the page, and started making lists and notes.  As my demonstration teaching approaches, my hooligans are most worried about what we’ll be having for dinner each night.  They’ve been learning to cook this summer, so they can each be in charge of a weeknight meal (with my supervision, of course). We came up with a list of 20 meals they can make largely without my help.

I also made a list of 20 family favorite meals.  A big drawback to my cooking magazine, blog, and cookbook addictions is that we rarely have the same meal twice, unless it’s really outstanding. There are just so many recipes I want to try!  I’m planning to use this list of favorites throughout the fall when meal planning, and I’m vowing to give up looking for new recipes until demo teaching is complete! We’re also going to be stocking the freezer with meals, so once school starts, along with gymnastics, swimming, and soccer, weeknights will (hopefully) be a little less hectic.

I didn’t photograph every page, but I’ve also made my Christmas list, vacation planning, and DIY projects for the hubs. See…it’s a very useful book!


I also embellished a black journal for demonstration teaching. I haven’t used it much yet, mostly just for jotting down questions for my host teacher. I anticipate that I’ll use it for deadlines for my culminating project, dates for school events, notes from my cohort class, and whatever else arises.


These journals are really fun to create. I’ve embellished the pages with washi tape and doodling, as I really make them my own. I like the page numbers and table of contents, rather than just flipping through a notebook looking for something I wrote down months ago. It’s one more step accomplished in my back-to-school list, too.  Of course, that list is right where I put it…in a bullet journal!



Summer Screentime Checklist

So my kids, while not thrilled, were at least mildly happy to see this Summer Screentime Checklist reappear on the frig this summer.

Screentime-ChaosServedDailyDuring the school year, we stick to the no screentime on weekdays rule, but in the summer, we relax it a bit.  When they’ve completed everything on this list, they get an hour of digital time. What they don’t seem to realize, at least not yet, is that by the time they do all these activities, combined with the “summer fun” activity or camp for the day, they’re pretty much wiped out and just want to read or go to bed!  I think they’ve completed their checklists 7 out of the 10 days they’ve been out of school, and they’ve played digital 3 or 4 of those.  That all makes the hubs and me very happy!

This list is not original…I’ve seen dozens of versions on Pinterest, but I’ve tweaked it to fit our family and created a free printable for you!  Simply click here to download it.  THe printable version doesn’t have the watermark on it, so take all the credit you’d like with your family. I printed ours on cardstock, laminated it, and used magnets to stick it on the frig. You could also trim it to 8×10 and frame it, if you’d rather.  Enjoy, and I hope it helps your family find harmony for the summer!


Dry Erase Chore Charts

I’ve posted a couple of other chore charts through the years, but the hooligans keep growing, and I keep giving them new responsibilities (like cleaning the bathrooms and sweeping…which I hate!). I thought, why not break out a new chart for the new school year?  They love them, of course, because they involve dry erase markers, and because they’re little goal-oriented Type A’s. Well, one is, anyway, and the other two are competitive.


To make them, I used Photoshop Elements.  I drew the grid, added the text, and dropped in a digital background paper in each kid’s favorite color. You could also just design them in Word and print on scrapbooking paper, if you’re not a digital scrapper.

I made them 7” x 5” and laminated them WITH MY NEW LAMINATOR that I found for next to nothing online. And I really wanted to use it!  I felt like my mom, though, when it was hot and I was looking for anything else I could possibly laminate in my house. She was that was when she had a perfect charcoal and hickory fire going in our barbeque growing up…anything she could grill at that moment, she would.

But I digress. Here’s what they look like in digital format:


I found magnetic clips at the Target Dollar Spot (4 for $1), and small dry erase markers in a pack of 3 for $3, and they’re even in matching colors. And in case you think my frig is hideously ugly, I had to take a photo outside for the lighting. They’re actually on metal board the kids use to build marble magnetic tracks, which is portable, unlike my refrigerator. But you get the idea. As you can see, last week Princess Thundercloud was a total slacker and Mr. Type A in the middle completely fills in each block. Funny kids.


We’re only three weeks into school, but so far, they’re still intrigued enough to want to mark off boxes each day.  Hopefully it will last!


Simple Washi Tape Storage

I admit it…I have a problem. Well, lots of them when it comes to collecting craft supplies, but today I’m specifically admitting to an ever-growing washi tape stash.  A quirk of mine is that I want to have everything within my sight in my craft room…which makes for a messy room, and then I feel too overwhelmed with messiness to be creative. Aaahhh…what to do?


Fortunately, my craft room has a walk-in closet, and I have all my paper punches (bought before punches were made to store flat) in a hanging shoe rack on the inside of the door.  These thread racks from Joann’s fit washi perfectly, so when they were on sale for 50% off, I bought a couple.  Well, okay, I bought one, brought it home, and realized I had way too many rolls of tape to fit on it. So I had to buy another the next time I was there.

Anyway, we had this over-the-door peg rack from our bathroom in Wisconsin, and didn’t need it in this one, so I hung it on the outside of the craft room closet door. I hung the thread racks on it, and wired them in place to be sure they didn’t slide around and throw washi everywhere.

It makes an easy, and even somewhat attractive, way to organize all those little rolls of tape, and I can see exactly what I have in what color. So I can buy the ones I don’t have, of course.


Homemade Color Catchers

Okay, before you roll your eyes and think I’m completely insane, just let me say that it took me almost two years to actually take the time to make these Homemade Color Catchers since I bought the supplies. I kept thinking, “Really?  Do I really want to invest the time to make these when I can buy them?”  Alas, one rainy Saturday, I just decided to take the plunge. Mostly because I was tired of seeing the unopened washing soda box in the laundry cabinet, and a little bit because I really didn’t want to go to Target to buy a box of the real thing. Color-Catcher-ChaosServedDa

I think store-bought Color Catchers are a tad pricey…we pay about 20 cents each for them here in Washington, which isn’t outrageous, but a lot more than making them myself. I tend to just use them with the kids’ clothes, because most of our clothes have been washed so often that they don’t bleed much anymore. But when the hubs does the laundry, he uses a color catcher in every load. So I’m always out when I need them, it seems.

Anyway, here’s the super simple method I used:


  • Washing soda
  • White flannel (or other 100% cotton fabric)

That’s it, really.


Cut your flannel into rectangles roughly 6” x 8”. I used pinking shears to reduce raveling and lint. I made 35 from 1 yard of fabric. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of washing soda in 2 cups hot water.  Soak the cloths you cut, then wring them out and hang them up to dry.

To use your dried color catchers, just toss one into the load of wash.  They can go through the dryer with the load of clothes.  You can continue reusing them, but you’ll need to soak them in washing soda and hot water each time and let them dry.  Once they’re absorbed a lot of color, throw them out and start with fresh white flannel. I wash about 5 loads of clothes a week, so this set of color catchers should last a couple of months, since I don’t use them for every load. I think that’s totally worth the 15 minutes I spent making them.

I’ve read lots of suggestions online to use old towels or washcloths instead of buying new flannel, but I think those would put a lot of lint on your clothes, which would be especially noticeable on the dark loads you’re using color catchers on.

These seem to work as well as store-bought ones, but, to be honest, I still semi-sort our clothes into lights and darks. I don’t separate out whites, though, and our whites seem to stay white when I use these.

So, bottom line, if you’re feeling crunchy and want to save a little money as well, give these a try.  I’m really glad I finally got around to it!


Simple Screen Time System

During the school year, we follow the “No Screen Time Rule” Monday through Thursday, then the kids get an hour each of the weekend days (counting Friday).  As first Spring Break arrived, and now with the approach of summer vacation, I wanted a more visual system for them to follow, rather than me being the time police.

My favorite GI Joe and I decided that two hours per day was reasonable, including iPads, DS, Wii, or watching TV. Family movie night, going to a movie as a family, and e-reading would be exceptions.  And there’s no rollover to the next day. The hubs says I’m more strict than cell phone companies. I disagree.

But how to get them to take responsibility for their time?  Well, they love our magnetic chore chart, so I thought something similar would be great. It took all of five minutes to punch out some circles and attach magnets.  I had a metal tile in my craft stash, but you can buy them at craft stores or even the hardware store. I ran a piece of washi tape down the center to divide it, and was finished.


We have a plate rack in the kitchen that holds our family calendars and the cafeteria menu (during the school year). I simply replaced the menu with the screen time board.

It seemed to work well during spring break, so now we’ll see how the summer goes. Of course, they were shocked at first to see how quickly their tokens moved from top to bottom, but I think it made them a lot more cognizant of their choices about how to spend their time. Yeah, you’re right…talk to me in September, when we’ve survived a cross-country move and being homeless for six weeks!


A Five-Minute Project: Recharger Station

All those recharger and power cords on my kitchen desk drive me insane!  I really think they multiply overnight sometimes. So I decided to hide them.

Now, I know you can buy recharger stations, but every time Michaels has photo storage boxes on sale, I buy a batch.  You never know what you’ll repurpose them to do, and they’re such cute prints.


See? No more unruly cords. To make one for yourself, you just need a photo storage box (or a shoebox covered with pretty paper) and a craft/utility knife.


1. Cut a hole large enough for the plug end of your power strip cord. I left mine as a flap, only because I didn’t cut through the outer paper layer of the box (accidentally) and liked the look.


2. Draw some squares/rectangles inside the box, large enough for whatever rechargers  or power cords you have/  I used a silver Sharpie so I could see it easily.  Then cut the holes out using the utility knife. It actually took about ten minutes to make this because I had to go searching for a sharp utility knife. And where did I find one?  Next to the recycling box in the garage.  Honestly!


3.  Fit all your stuff inside.  It’s not pretty, but who cares?  That’s why you’re making this!


4. Pop the lid on, and relax…one more thing organized in your house!


My kitchen desk no longer makes me crazy…until school starts and hooligans begin bringing home a ream of papers every day. But I can enjoy it for the next twelve days, anyway!

Now to Organize the Hooligans!

Summer is such a paradox…time seems to be crawling by when everyone is home and bored, but then when I look at the calendar, school starts in six weeks. We’ve done a lot this summer, and from now until school, the hooligans have a week of YMCA camp, then a week of me entertaining them. They couldn’t keep it straight, so I made these calendars to help them out.

I bought a wrought-iron plate holder at Hobby Lobby, then 3 brushed nickel document frames at Walmart for next to nothing. I “organize” us using Cozi, a great free program that the hubs can link up to via smart phone or computer.

That way, he knows what we’re up to, as well as any groceries I might need him to pick up on the way home.  In theory, that is.  He rarely checks Cozi, but as our kids become more involved in life, I think that will change. I hope.

Cozi allows you to color code each family member’s activities, which is really helpful to the kids when they’re looking at their week.  The iPhone app also has great list and note-taking sections, as well as a journal to write down all those funny little things that happen in life.  I always think, “I have to remember that” but now I don’t…I just type it into my phone! And Cozi even has a weekly menu plan for you. All for free!

DSC_0008Anyway, I just printed our calendars for the next three months and popped them into the frames.  They can easily be switched around as the month passes. Since they’re covered by glass, I can write on them with dry-erase markers if I need to add something.

Of course, I still have to answer questions like,”How many minutes do I get to stay at camp?” and “When will my birthday party be?” pretty frequently, but this definitely helps them know what to expect and what we’ll be doing on any given day.

Not that I’m a control freak or anything. Really.

Linking up to The Frugal Girls Chic and Crafty

I Hope Organizing Is Not My Superpower

I mean, that would be handy and all, but there are times that I feel like it’s all I do.  Compulsive much?  Me?  Movers fear me because everything is so well-organized it looks like a deceptively small amount o’stuff we haul around every couple of years.  The hubs always warns them, and they never believe him.  Too bad for them.

But I digress. Another of my projects for this summer is getting my stamps organized.  I tend to forget what I have.  I prefer to believe my memory is failing, not that I own too many stamps. Anyway, I made a catalog to keep track of them.

I found a small three-ring binger at an office supply store.  It holds 8-1/2” x 5-1/2” papers.  I designed a cover paper using My Digital Studio, Stampin’ Up’s digital design program.  I thought since the stamps are all Stampin’ Up!, the cover should be, as well.  Plus, I need to justify buying the software.

To make the dividers, I just cut cardstock in half, then attached a tab I punched out of cardstock. I set my three-hole punch to fit the binder. Then I hid it so no one could reset it before I finish my catalog.

And now begins the rather tedious part…adding all the stamps. For clear stamps, I simply copied two covers from the cases on a sheet of paper, folded it in half, and punched along the open edge.  For wooden stamps, I either cut the set out of an old catalog and adhered it to a half sheet of paper or stamped each one from the set on a half sheet of paper. Guess which was easier? 

While I’m pretty sure I’ll still forget stamps, this makes it easy to page through instead of looking through my stamp sets on the shelves.  I’m also going to attempt to add each new set as I get it to the catalog, so I don’t have to devote another whole day next summer. 

This was a perfect project for this hot, sticky summer day…but tomorrow I’m taking the kids to see “Big Miracle” at the bargain movie and enjoy the a/c and polar scenes!

Repurposed Marker Organizer

My markers make me crazy!  They should be stored horizontally, since they are dual-tipped, so one end doesn’t go dry. Like everything else, I want to be able to reach them at any moment while I’m creating (which makes for a very cluttered work area, but so be it.). And, last but not least, I like having them in their Stampin’ Up! color families.

Recycling also makes me crazy.  It seems every glass jar I put in the bin ends up broken before recycle day, and I’m worried one of the hooligans will get cut. Don’t ask why they would be rummaging through the trash. I’m sure it happens.

So I repurposed these spaghetti sauce jars from Costco to make a marker organizer.  I cut a piece of polka dot DSP from each color family 3” x 12” and taped them in place.  I put some E6000 on each surface that contacted another jar when stacked (top and bottom of jars, basically) and wedged the four jars between two stacks of books to dry in this configuration.

After the adhesive was completely dry, I wrapped some hemp twine around several times, mostly because I liked how it looked.  It also helps hold them together a bit. 

This works pretty perfectly for my current craft room.  Who knows what will work when we PCS again, but until then, I’m happy with my solution!