Sunday, February 7, 2016

African Art Project (Continent Study Activity): Papier-Mache Calabash

As part of our geography studies, I like to include some art projects that reflect those typically made in the countries found on that continent.  Since we began our study on Africa, we have been a bit behind in actually creating any.  Well, it was the holidays when we started, so that is my lame excuse.

Fear not-I have one to show you (pretty easy and fun too) and we will do a couple more before we complete this continent.

I checked the library and found The Kid's Multicultural Art Book* by Alexandra Terizian.  Looking through, I thought the Papier-Mache Calabash bowl [page 102-105] would be a great activity for my son.  I had all the supplies too-which saved a run to the craft store.

Basically, you use papier-mache to layer newspaper over a bowl and then let it dry for each layer. After you have an amount that is thick, but not too thick-you will have the child paint a base color (two coats) to seal it.  After that, they can decorate it using typical geometric designs many African artists use.

I guess my son was feeling pretty patriotic, 
because his colors reflect our flag. 

Here are a few helpful tips:

**Cover your work area!  The papier-mache paste is messy!!
**Choose a medium sized bowl otherwise I think it will be too big for most.
**Let the puppy really dry before trying to pry it off the bowl (I suggest a plastic bowl as the base, so it will give a bit for ya) because it will be a nightmare to take off if it is still damp.
**Expect shrinkage (and no this is not a Seinfeld episode) as ours was very round after taking it off the bowl. Then I guess with the heat on-it shrunk. After a couple of days it warped to an elliptical-shaped Calabash.  We just laughed a bit then accepted it's new look.
**Have a few different widths for the paintbrushes to give the artist options.

And there you go.  Easy peasy-just a bit of time needed between drying and removing it from the base bowl.

*FYI: I have the book linked to my Amazon Affiliate link. Disclaimer down at bottom of blog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner: inserts/pages I am including so far

As I work through this DYI project, I realized I had to break the inserts/pages down into smaller units, so as to not get so overwhelmed. I decided to start with the lesson plans first.  I did purchase a download that I truly enjoy. So far it seems to fit into our needs and draws me to it. You know-so I will actually pen down the info I need there-which is the whole point.  So I went ahead and printed up enough for September through December.  There are a couple other layouts I want to try out before I go any further.  I can easily change up the style for the next semester.  So in February, I am going to work on another option and see how it goes.  If it fails, I will make notes and then try another in March to then make my final decision on the rest of the year's layout.

I had found several various pages that I knew for sure that I wanted to include in the planner.  Some were spot on and others were 'close enough' to what I need.  I am also creating those that elude me elsewhere.

After I figured out how many of the layout pages were needed, and how they had to be printed up, I started thinking of the extra pages I wanted. I don't want to clutter the planner up with ones that are not necessary but I also don't want to forget any others that I may want.

SO-I am thinking of sections (as mentioned above) and so far-this is what I have in my line up. Obviously, I have a lot more to consider and find/create before the binding time approaches.
I may purchase a kit that offers more options or keep creating or finding freebies-not sure yet.

For the Month/Weekly Schedule area:
-Actual weekly plans
-Supply List: any supplies I need for the month, non-specific
-Books Read list
-Art Project(s) page noting supplies I have/need and any additional books I want for it (we cover artists/musicians via the Charlotte Mason method so I need extra space specific to larger projects)
-Archaeology Projects:  here I note any big digs/activities I want to do for that month, this may only be for one semester depending on how far we get this spring/early summer.

**I will not bind until I know for sure what I have to carry over into the new year to avoid unnecessary pages in there. So I may not need to arch pages if we finish the course.

For the Goals/Lists/Overview area:

-Curriculum Must Haves and Curriculum Wants (yes, there is a difference)
-Notes pages: several varieties
-2016-17 calendar for quick reference
-Goals for the year (still not sure what form I want to use)

For the Class Descriptions/Grades area:

-Year Specific Summary of plans and Course Description pages
-Grades tracker (still not sure which one I want to use)

For the Additional Notes area:

-Graph and lined paper 
-Variety of layouts of note paper

Additional stuff:

-Plastic zipper pouch for keeping goodies nice and tidy (using a clear pencil pouch)
-Folder pockets to store papers I need to access frequently
-Note sheets to write down the things I need to purchase-I will keep them in the pocket and use when necessary.  These won't be attached so I can take them with me when I go shopping.
-Various sticky notes for the notes dashboard

I am still pondering the need for a Field Trip page. I think if I do include this, I will be making it more specific to my son's/husband's new hobby: exploring and searching for artifacts in the area (Native American/early settlers) or museums that tailor to that.  I also have to design a record keeping page for his Auto/Small Engine course where they log in the hours spent on hands-on work/activities.  Same goes for the archaeology stuff. 

I know there are more I want, it's just too hard to come up with them all at once.  I literally need to carry some paper and a pen on me so when the ideas pop into my head-I can write 'em down before they become distant memories.  LOL  So as we progress during this current semester, I am sure I will stop and say, "HEY, I need a page for that!"  LOL  

Once I am fully paged out, I will have another post showing the pages with the links for you.  I have created a few of them myself, and if I can remember how to get them into my Scribd or that other site so you can print them if you want, I will do that too.  :)

So onward I go working through this maze of planner innards!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

History notebook pages examples, in case you were curious [I found this in my archives and thought I would repost it again]

I created this cover using MS Word clip art 

Some may wonder how we pull together our history notebooks.  This is just one way we do it. I am highlighting a few pages from my son's history binders: Leif Erikson and Chris Columbus, from way back when-like early to mid-elementary age.  I have another post coming up about our current science/history notebooking too...hopefully, I will get that done before March.

I used Beautiful Feet Books products  (we love their guides and use almost all of them) as the course base, read additional materials if needed and then journaled/notebooked and/or had the children color pics to add some interest. We just add as we go through the lessons.

I would like to point out that I use several different sources-BFB guide, books listed in the study Enchanted Learning and ABCteach. I use what ever I can, including online sources to get some goodies.

Please remember, my son is color blind so lots of stuff is green, brown or oddly colored.

I buy the construction paper (you'l need to trim it to fit) from the dollar store, and that is what we use as our background paper
copy off the image we need, add the typed info and slip em into page protectors

I type up the stuff for the most part-b/cuz he is not big on writing it all out-and the point is to keep his interest, not burn him for now-I type.  As he ages, he will take on that responsibility. The Columbus Day Activity book is from Enchanted, and I made a pocket for it to slip into (stapled it on to another sheet of cardstock)...

It is easy to build a notebook using any history program, as you can add pics, text, poems, maps, etc. that fit each area you study.  Using this technique not only provides a great source to reference back to-it makes such a neat "step back into time" too.  I love going thru the older kids' books to see their stuff-it is so sweet.

Well, hopefully, you are encouraged to give this a try.

Amazon UGH moment

If there are any links to Amazon on this blog or my What's in the Box? blog that you would like to use to give me a little associate reimbursement boost-please let me know what it is you were thinking of buying.  Apparently, even tho I did everything they asked, they closed my account because it came up not being up to date. SO UGH. I had to re-apply and have a new it will take me quite a while to update all those links. Any posts from this year forward (2016) are correct.

So, again-if you see something in an older post that you'd like, let me know and I can link you with the correct code.  Once they are all updated, I will let you know.

Every little click and purchase does eventually (lol) add up.  It truly helps us to get a few things for our son's education too.  So thank you to all of you have purchased items via my Amazon link.

Now off to start fixing em!  OY VEY!  (I am starting with the most recent and working to the oldest posts.  HTH


All 2015 posts on this blog are updated
If I missed any, please let me know.

All 2014 posts on this blog updated.
I see one of the products I use has a bad website link-
working on contacting the owner to see if she knows-so
until further noted-avoid Pear Educational Products store site

All 2013 posts on this blog updated.

All 2012 posts updated on this blog.

All 2011 posts updated on this blog.

-none of the tab links in the top have been updated-

Sunday, January 17, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner-Thoughts on the Inside Pages

The conundrum continues. Purchase or finish my own planner? I haven't a clue as to why this is such a challenge for me.  Usually, I know exactly what I want.  Ugh.

So, here I am still on the fence-I think. But that fancy DYI cover set and divider pages have been calling me. Saying, "Whatcha waiting for?" I really don't know how to answer that!

Oh dear. So I decided to start downloading and printing pages. I mean after all, I have the 30# paper so why not try a few. Right? Ah hem....a few thick stacks later-and then some....

Hmmm, looks to me as tho I am going the DYI route.  For at least this year I guess.

So here is what I know so far:

*I have been searching and searching for freebies to download-and there are plenty. See links below.

*I purchased one lesson planner download from Etsy-but now I see I could have gotten a complete set from a fellow HSer for the same price-drat!

*I still intend to use the download I bought-if I can readjust or find a different printer that won't cut off the end part of the page (didn't have that issue either when we re-uploaded the printer app or some time about there, the parameters changed.  Now I have to see if my daughter's boyfriend -who is a tech guy-can help me figure this out if option B doesn't work either). I found a way on our other 'puter to downsize-oh yeah!  Already printed enough pages for September to December!  So check and check.

*I need to do some practicing on a few different weekly/daily layouts so I know which one will work best for us, before printing up a boatload of them to put into the planner.

*I have to decide whether I want to be able to move pages about or add/delete when I want to or have it 'as is' for eternity.  

*Due to the aforementioned sitzie, I must figure out if I will jump into the disk planner mode (meaning I will have to purchase a punch for sure [spency] and disks, which are not too spency) or just have it coil bound.  Oh, and there is another one-Pro Click [yah way spency] but you can unsnap and add/delete if you decisions, decisions.

*I need to really think the above issue thru.  If I plan on DYIing it for the next three years, a punch is a must.  Obviously, we can use it for many other things-but that must be added to the initial output cost. Granted, I can also reduce the over-all cost by dividing the amt. by at least, again-decisions....

And there you have it. For now.

OK, so where am I finding these downloads?

Go To PINTEREST and Google 'free homeschool planner pages'
to start! This will be your "honey hole" of links and options.

Join mailing lists in order to get the freebie pages as your gift from the 
blog author.

Shop Etsy stores.  
Search for planner and homeschool planner pages.

Here are some websites with some nice pages
(look through them-not all will apply to your needs)
and download what should work for you.

(7 Planner Steps section)

She has freebies and pay-for-kits
I found the middle/high school planner free and 
it's quite wonderful. Lots of options there.

She has a nice planner for like $5
She has some great HS materials for sale BTW

Great for note pages/graph paper, etc.

Good lists pages

LOVE her layout and color choices-this is one I will
be testing out.  Some pages are dated
 but the weekly planner is not.

I just purchased the $5 layout option. I am currently
test driving (so to speak) this style
to see how it works for us.

That should get you started.  I will do a separate post highlighting which pages I will use for sure, and where they will go in the planner.  I need to test out a few first.  I will also talk about paper quality! Very important actually.  And of course-what works for us, may or may not work for you. So you will need to do your own hunting and gathering.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DYI Homeschool Planner Covers, Divider Pages and more

As a part of the "get myself organized" goal I have set for the year, I have decided it is time to buckle down and start using a teacher's lesson planner again.  Boy, it has been ages since I used them.  I actually have a hate-kinda love-hate relationship with those buggers. It's just not my style.  Or so I believe.  I totally know a few deep seeded issues contributed to this disdain and anti-schedule attitude. If short on time-skip down about half way to the instructions, otherwise-read on....

First off, when I was in college working on my degree (Early Childhood Development) we had to do a whole month's plan as a part of the course. Yes, you read that right.  A whole month! Perhaps it was because I was taking two of the hardest courses at the same time for two straight semesters that contributed to the stress (duh on my part) but it definitely helped further my disgust of them. Why the need for such craziness? I guess for those imaginary little darlings at some imaginary childcare center for some imaginary reason! Honestly, I think they thought it would be helpful.  It was not.  Every job would have had different standards and requirements and there was no way that could have been implemented (as the instructor suggested) and esp. so because the ages and abilities of the kids would have been different.  I remember too, that those seeking a teaching degree had way more of those little puppies to produce. I bet there are a few of those folks still washed ashore my "For the Love of Miss Beadle-WHY?" Island. With those type of assignments, it set into motion my loathing of them. I get it was necessary to practice, but perhaps a week's worth with comments from the instructor on how to improve or remove non-necessities would have been so much more helpful. But I digress...

It literally took a long time to pull it together too. Back in the old days before the wheel was invented (ya know) we had no internet, no computers like today [insert gasp], so everything was done by actual hands-on research and the old hunt and find the materials manner. And let us not forget the fact that one would have to type it up on the ole typewriter.  So, just to give you a bit more background here-because I am sure many reading this are unfamiliar with that technological advancement. When you use a typewriter, you had to advance the page quite a bit to find the back of the typewriter so you could successfully apply the liquid white out (eventually there came about the whiteout tape) to correct your mistakes. It looked terrible. Or for those like me-you would rip the darn thing out and start all over again. Talk about a time buster! And that is all based on whether or not the typewriter tape functioned, rather than jammed, rendering it completely useless.  So yes-another seed in the garden of disdain.

There came a time when I said, "ENOUGH!" and never looked at the planners until I began homeschooling an older student.  Then I knew I had to try again.  I had transcripts looming and grading accountability to tackle.  I had to do it-I just did.  Well, that lasted all about 10 seconds.  First planner was relegated to a grade keeper only.  Done and done.  Down the road I looked at and almost tried a few.  I couldn't do it. My inner self said that I would waste my time-so I came up with an internal lesson plan maker in my mind which I followed it with a pretty good success rate.  I just did it.  Here and there I would jot notes and keep those about but mostly it was my gray matter that kept account of things. I just knew what had been done, needed to be completed presently and should be down the road. Weird as that may sound.  I had 3-4 students during that time (one of them was a baby-kindergartner during many of those years) and somehow I managed.  But then life got super busy. My mind aged a bit. Things just weren't getting accomplished. Life got more complex and I knew I had to try something. Later on, whilst on a review team, I tried their homeschool planner.  It was OK.  I did use it for a time and at first really liked it-but then old habits trumped my good intentions-I let it slide like cheese off of bacon.

Another annoying thing that could bring me almost to tears, during my attempts to be all scheduley, was how easy and frequently all those plans got messed up because of one or two little deviations. Poof! Hours of work and best intentions screwed up to the point where getting back on track was almost impossible. Even only penning in a week's worth was suspect and questionable at times.  Maybe I just looked for a reason to toss those planners out the window...maybe it was just an excuse or maybe time and wisdom are trumping me now.

I had been slowly sliding into an abyss of barely making it (regarding my personal goals/standards for myself and our kid's education) and knew that I had to do something.  Lots and lots of prayers to the Lord arose like church bells on a Sunday morn. Then tons of research and YouTubing have led me back to where I knew I was going to be stranded forever if I didn't make that change. That place called Going Nowhere.  It was time to make my escape. Thankfully, the Lord sent a rescue boat.  I am heading back to the Land of Accomplishment. I can see it's shoreline in the distance....little by little I am getting nearer and nearer...

SO-one step is to get a lesson planner going that will help keep me accountable and organized. I even dipped my toes into life planning with my brand new Erin Condren planner! Now I can be a well-rounded organized homeschooling mama.

BUT which type of lesson planner do I use? That is where I am stuck.

I have already penned a post and shot a video covering the planner choice conundrum. While I wait to decide, I chose to be proactive and make covers and dividers so they are ready and await my final decision.

I am sharing how I made them, to help inspire those who prefer the DYI version. Here is what I used to create mine:

front and back covers: both sides
(These are laminated so I had to jam them up on the white board to avoid the glare-LOL)

divider pages-front/back views

*FYI:  The laminating items take you to
 under my Amazon Associates link.  

Several sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper  (larger is better because you can customize better)
Cutting tool -preferably a paper cutter large enough to accommodate the 12x12 paper
Glue stick
Laminator (or place to have it laminated): I use the Scotch laminator and Laminating sheets
Lamination pouches for the machine
Computer program for your title making (MS Word works for me)
Iron/Ironing board
Some type of binding ability-local office supply store or your own binding machine
Printed pages (I found the college lined ones here) for back sides of dividers, if not using scrapbook paper
Post it Notes: if you want to adhere them on the backside of the covers like mine

Options beside scrapbook paper:

*downloaded covers from various sources
*good quality art paper in which your child(ren) have drawn various pictures (remember to ask them to leave white space for labels) for your covers.  Avoid crayons-supply colored pencils, watercolors or markers.

Decide on what size covers you want.  If using your own laminator-be sure to allow for some sealing area all the way around the edge.  If taking it to a store to be laminated, call ahead and ask what sizes are available-then plan accordingly.  I suggest not making it too large. Remember to account for the inside pages which will probably be the standard 8 1/2" x 11" size. You should make the dividing pages smaller than the outside covers to protect them and allow for the tabs.

My covers are sized as:
*Front/Back:  8 3/4" W x 10 14/16" L
*Dividers: 8 1/2" W x 10 3/4" L

dashboard and book marks-front/back views

 the notepad dashboard:
4 1/2" x 9 1/2"
I just used whatever size scrap I had that could accommodate the
sticky notes efficiently

Book marks were simply scraps trimmed to whatever size I wanted

Page layouts Tips:

*Choose paper that is attractive and interesting to you.  Pick a few others which compliment and add accents-mixing it up is a great way to add interest and dimension.

*Layout pages in interesting manners.  I switched from vertical to horizontal lines and tilted a lot of the titles to keep it from being boring/uniform.

*Take the glue stick and lightly smear a wee bit in each corner [backside] to adhere the pages together.  Many people do not do this and it can be troublesome.  Esp. when placing them into the laminating sheet.  It also helps you to trim and line up edges better. Don't go nuts with the glue-it will clump.  

*Decide which way you want your main tabs to run along the page. Cut enough paper (1/2" or so) below where you want to have the title so that you can slide that down between the papers for extra security and strength. Adhere that with a tad of glue as well. Be sure the tabs will fit within the confines of the laminating sheet for extra durability.  If running tabs along the right side, cut the width of the dividers down to allow for the tabs, so that they are not overhanging past the covers, unless that is the look you want. Cut the length of the paper if placing them on the top, altho my measurements allowed for squeezing them in.  

Assemble and then run through the laminator once or twice.  Then set iron at or near the rayon setting and run the tip all the way around the edges to ensure a good seal.  Do NOT let that iron stay stationary-it will melt the plastic or ruin your iron (don't ask how I know this). Move quickly. Once the seal is good-allow to cool and then cut.

Leave a good edge of the laminating sheet free around the edges, then trim if necessary.

Now it is ready for the interior pages and binding. If I choose this route I will have an in depth post and video on those. If not, I still may make a video on the pages I am trying out and a post with all the links. Til then......happy planning.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Choosing a lesson planner that works

I have been in a planner bind (no pun intended) for a bit now.  Do I create my own or do I purchase one that is already done?

I have been scouring YouTube and several blogs to find some sort of answer to that.  I have watched tons of videos on a variety of teacher planners and came away with really liking the Erin Condren version.  I also have debated the cost of that and others issues it will have.

So I watched even more videos on how to make my own. Lots and lots of those.  It's not for the faint of heart.  It does take some time and planning -again no pun intended here.

I just don't know yet.  I can go either way actually.  It comes down to whether or not I am able to snag a planner during the EC sale or not.

So here are some of the pros and cons I came up with for each option.

Purchased Planner -Erin Condren

*Already created/bound and ready to go 
(say for minor adjustments on some pages)
*Better quality paper
*Nice, bright colors and designs
*Several cover choices and additional accessories

*Can be expensive or more expensive than a DYI version-"can be"
*Not designed for our specific needs-esp because it is typical teacher planner that is not tailored to homeschooling
*Will require modifications to make it more usable-which can add to the price investment (stickers, etc.)
*Time will be involved (albiet not too much) to tweak out and modify this to make my own.

DYI Planner:

*Should be cheaper to create than a pre-made version
*Set up to reflect my specific needs
*Created by me so you have more of an inclination to use it
*As colorful or scaled down as needed to meet my tastes

*Can be very time consuming to pull together
*May not be able to find all pages I want or need
*May have to create pages and that is time consuming and somewhat difficult without the right design programs 
*May not be as colorful or jazzy as a pre-made version
*Figuring in the expense of laminating, binding, printing (ink) and paper could be almost as spendy as a commercial planner
*Requires research and downloading (either free or packages I pay for-so again, can be a bit more expensive than originally thought)

So for now-I have decided to download a bunch of different weekly schedule layouts to try out from Jan to March.  That way, if I do go with my own version, I will know which style I like and which ones best suits our needs.  I will also have that time to hunt down more options.  I can then see if I truly like my own DYI option or if I really just need to go with something already complete.

What I do know is I like color. I want to be drawn into it so, you know, I will actually continue using it.  I am also a bit of a paper snob!  I like good quality paper.  The EC has that. I have purchased a higher # paper to use (which is quite nice), but again-theirs is better.  SO I will definitely be needing to post an update.  

I have made a video talking about this very thing-and you can watch it on my YouTube channel by clicking this link. So for now, this is what I have to offer-hopefully, I can make a decision and stick to it soon.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tinker Box from Kiwi Krate: Review and savings code

FYI: before reading this post...please know that I was not asked to write a review of the product, or paid for this opinion of it. We simply enjoyed it, and want you to know it exists. We didn't until recently-and it would have been nice to know! We actually procured the kit while they had a free trial offer going. Since that has ended, I wanted to share with you a link at the bottom of the post, which you can click that will get you $10 off your first order!  Plus it helps us-meaning we get a $10 credit for every purchase made using our link.  Then you yourself can sign up and receive the same bonuses!  It's a win-win deal!  


I am always on the look out for fun activities to add to our regular school work-especially projects relating to science or STEM activities. So when I noticed that Kiwi Crate [via the Krazy Coupon Lady site) was hosting a freebie trial (well, I paid for shipping) I jumped on it. Glad I did too-because I believe I was one of the last ones to secure a kit before they ran out.

They had really quick shipping, so within a week my son received his surprise package. "Surprise" because his loving mother chose to not tell him about it.  Anyway-back to the Tinker Crate.

I assumed it was going to be one of those listed on the site since no other kits were mentioned, but they actually sent the Fiber Optic Stars project.  After he was over the initial shock of getting something cool in the mail, he dove in. But not before I begged him to wait until I grabbed my camera first. You know, once a scrapbooker/blogger, always one. Of course I had to document this "unboxing reveal" before it was spread all over the place. He even got a kick out of that part.

Anyhoo-the neat thing about this (I chose the 9-16+ Tinker Crate for him) is that it provides all the necessary goodies to complete the listed projects.  They also have an additional booklet called the Tinker Zine, noting some fun experiments too, along with some info about the said subject.

The instructions came on a large fold out sheet with clear steps to follow.  It was not overly difficult and the results were really impressive.  I am going to pick up another sheet of foam board, so my son can make all the constellations highlighted in the kit (it came with two boards); and we may even try to create a few of the others ones not mentioned.

He really enjoyed this activity and I have to admit-it is awesome looking when you light it up in a dark room.  I really think this will help him recognize some of the constellations without much effort too. And that is always a plus. And for extra learning fun, they also have videos relating to the kits on their site.

As for the cost-the site currently lists them as $19.95 per month [I believe this is the one where you don't have to prepay but you will be charged every time one ships], the others are prepay first: $60 for a 3 month sub, $110 for 6 months, $205 for the year. The shipping is included for the subscriptions, but it looks like individual purchases of a featured crate has a fee to ship. As for us, we decided to suspend the subscription right now, simply because it is not in our budget. Altho, we can re-activate that at any time. I highly recommend you go through their site to see if this is something your family would enjoy and can afford. And don't forget to use the link below to get $10 off your first order.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Erin Condren and Inkwell Life Planner thoughts, Plus coupon code for $10 off your first purchase

I am so excited about my new planner.  I have been watching and watching YouTube videos on different styles, as well as obsessing over the two top sites (Erin Condren and Inkwell Press) for a long time.  I sooooo wanted to order an Inkwell this early fall-but it just wasn't to be.  Literally, the first day they offered the new ones-they were gone in 60 seconds.  Waited for the second run and when that happened, didn't have the funds to get one.  Have to say, I was a bit disappointed they were not going to do anymore prints.  UGH.   So on to plan B-which now seems to be the better plan.  I went with an Erin Condren planner and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival!

So while I wait-I thought I would highlight why I had decided to go with the Inkwell initially but have now switched to Erin Condren.

Pros of Inkwell
(well from what I have gleaned from YouTube and their site)
Vertical Weekly Planner in Wood Chevron Print
*Paper thickness.
I so want to be able to use any pen I want, and not have it bleeding through to the next page or shadowing.  Inkwell uses 100# paper that supposedly does not show pen marks/ink.  Plus, I like thick paper. Maybe it is because I am a scrapbooker. I truly appreciate the loveliness of nice paper. They had me sold with their paper.

*Hard cover.
I think I would like a nice, book-like cover.  Since I cannot purchase one for another year-I guess I won't know for sure until then.  But the idea of it not tearing off or being so bendy has a nice appeal to it.

*Dashboard and other unique pages.
Looking through their planner pages was/is exciting.  Not even sure if I would use the dashboard but it's a nice option to have.  Again-until I have one to test drive, I won't know.

*Band included (for keeping the planner closed)
Need I say more?  Since I do not plan of using my planner as a tag-a-long where ever I go, this may not be necessary, but it is nice to know I wouldn't have to be charged extra for one.

*The coil
It looks like this is a whopper of a heavy duty one.  I like that.


*Page  Layouts
I am not so sure I like the weekly layout scheme.  After going through Erin Condren's planner site-I came away not liking the busyness of the Inkwell weekly pages.  I like my pages clean so I can mess 'em up with my doodling, stickers and whatnots.  I don't necessarily want them to do it for me. LOL

*Limited runs for printing.
I understand that they are a small company, and want to you know-be with their families too. But sheesh, only two runs limits those of us who may not have the funds waiting when they open their orders.  I learned about these planners way too late to stash cash for em. Bummer big time. So I will be tucking funds away starting this fall (either for an Inkwell or the Condren).

*Limited Covers
I am sure with these being like thicker book covers, they had to tailor it down to just a few options.  I get that.  It's just that I am not so into some of those designs/colors.  I am not all geometrically, like a lot of the choices. The one I was OK with was the one I am pretty sure sold out first.  Oh wellers-there is always next year.

Once I have my hands on an Inkwell, I am sure I will be able to offer a more in-depth review of my likes/dislikes, since these are based on my viewings of others and the site...but wanted to point this out before getting into the Erin Condren.

Erin Condren Planner:
I ordered the Paisley in two colors:
the background is the honeydew 
(which was a total error! I thought it was gray.
SO now I wait to see if they can fix it or I guess
I will have one odd looking cover-drat!)
 and the pattern overlay is the Saffhire
(mid-range blue)

SO after much debate of whether I truly needed a spency planner, I finally took the leap. I have been testing my ability to remain faithful/consistent to planning on a $10 Day Designer planner I bought at Target this past summer. I seemed to be able to do it-so I was confident getting a fancier one would only encourage me more to be a true planner/doer than not. FYI: for those who are on the fence like I was, start cheap and see if you can stay true to planning before buying a more expensive one. 

Frankly, after the Inkwell disappointment, I just thought I would continue to use the Target one and make due until the 2017 ones became available. I sincerely could have too.  I just wasn't liking the Day Designer enough to stay focused and use it like I could.  I also had another reason to use the less expensive version-I was completely unsure whether I wanted the vertical or horizontal layout.  I stood at that store, for like forever, debating which one to get.  I settled on the horizontal one. But I find that with that layout (in the weekly section), I was literally writing billboard size to fill in the area because I felt guilty if I didn't have something on the page. So I knew I needed to change or all hope was lost on my continuing. So I hemmed and hawed and finally got the EC vertical option.

So here are some reasons I did go with her planner.  And a few cons I see that may or may not be an issue. I guess I will need to do a 1/2 year mark review.  Anyhoo-here they are.


*Cover variety and ability to personalize
After seeing the huge cover choice selection I was sold. I am not totally hip on the cover being so bendy and possibly not staying attached after much use (some have reported that happens) but I haven't used one yet-so maybe it won't be an issue.  So I guess this could go under the cons section too. But also being able to personalize was very nice.  I could change colors (on some, not all) and personalize it-double bonus. Plus, if I get bored with it, I can order a new one and just switch it out.  

*Clean layout pages for weekly schedule
AH, these caught my eye immediately. They were so much less busy. That allows me to go all clutter nuts myself or leave it crisp and cleaner looking.  I like that. A lot.

The rest of the pros are yet to come-I need to use this puppy then I will know more.


*Bendy, replaceable cover
As mentioned above, this could cause problems (and some YouTubers have said it is) but only daily use and time will tell.  

*Paper thickness
Erin uses 70# and I know some pens will bleed through or shadow a bit.  I guess I will just see what works and stick with those.  

The coil seems a bit less predictable than the Inkwell. I have seen some folks point out that their coil arrived bent or will somewhat misshapened during a lot of use.  Another issue could be paper not gliding over the coils nicely, which will cause the pages to stick a bit.  I see they have updated their coils, so I am unsure how it'll be.  Time will tell.

*No Band included
OK, so I spend that much and don't get a band. ODD.  I won't be lugging this all over so this point may be mute. If I do decide to lug it about, I think I want a nice pouch to keep it in so little papers or what haves don't go all fluttery in my bag.  I can sew one myself or look on Etsy to see what is available.  I can also sew up a band in no time with some stretchy elastic.  But still-no band...ugh.


My biggest issue was the layout choice.  I am used to the horizontal view.  I am afraid I will go across when I should be going down in the new planner, but over time I will get it.  Maybe I will use pencil for the first week or so until it becomes a habit to go down.  Anyhoo-I decided I didn't need a football field worth of an area to pen the few things I do write down.  I actually use the monthly calendar layout the most.  Which is a habit from years of jotting important stuff down on our calendar that hangs on the fridge.  I don't need to pen a book about what I should/need to do-I simply need to bullet point those things I have to or want to get done during that week.  So the vertical offered up less area for writing and a cleaner look too.  The EC planner has horizontal geometric shapes at the top of the pages, and well-me no like.  So vertical it is.

And now I wait for the sweet planner to arrive!  I hope to shoot a reveal video if I can contain my excitement enough to hold the camera still!  LOL  I will let ya know when I have that up.....til then...

While we take a look at the Erin Condren site. If you decide to order, please use my link.  You will get $10 off your first order and I get a $10 credit!  We can help each other out.  :) And that is always a great thing!

When you click the link, you will need to set up your account (takes just a few mins) then EC will email you a welcome ditty and shortly thereafter, another email will arrive with the code that is good for 30 days from the email sent date.  

As for Inkwell, I may try them next year. I have a code but it has some funny wording in it that I am requesting they change (kinda spells a swear word-seriously!) So once that is worked out, I will post that link so you can save on those planners too.  

I am also going to continue with EC regardless of whether I switch to Inkwell next year.  I love their teacher's planners and am waiting to get one of those too.  So I will def. continue to use and support her products.  So again-don't forget to use the link to save $10 [basically that covers your shipping of the planner and that is great!] and be sure to let me know what you chose and how you like it!  

Here's to a better planned year ladies!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

December goings on, last post for 2015

With Christmas just around the corner, I am trying to get everything organized and ready for the holiday celebrations.  Thankfully, we all have a much better attitude toward December, even though a year ago we entered the dark days of my brother's decline-which means we are just beginning the "anniversary" of those terrible weeks.

We are determined to make it a lovely holiday season and to enjoy the goings on without too much sadness.  Frankly, it's a big relief to know we are almost done with this year. Sadly, after the new year arrives-we will have to journey through the one year mark of that dark day of my brother's passing.  I don't expect any of us to get through that very well.  But thankfully time does heal a bit, soothing over the rawness of losing a loved one.  The Lord has been holding us up in His love and we have become a lot stronger.

That said, we also have lots to be thankful for this year and we will focus on those things. Thought I would share, especially since I want folks to know that even though you may be walking through a terrible valley you can still have much to be grateful for. I have purposely sought out those 'good things' this year. And boy has it been a year!

Thankful for:
(these are but a few of the good things)

*My mother-in-law recovering nicely from her fall last November [2014].  It's been a long road for her but she is doing much, much better. (This happened just before we went to Portugal, and the care/healing process was also during the time we were dealing with my brother)

*My husband's early diagnosis of skin caner and subsequent removal of it.  Since it was caught in the very early stage, it was removed completely.  He was given the all clear.  All of his other biopsies hence have come back benign as well-so a mega PRAISE GOD moment there. (Again-this too was during that same time.  Actually got the diagnosis during the holidays. Yes, talk about a triple whammy)

*The end of the season. Our youngest was on a cruddy baseball team this year, and the weather did not cooperate all season long! It made it hard to want to go to the games. But he played well and improved his skills and I guess we'll consider that a big win.  Actually, we were all relieved when it ended.  That was a very happy day.

*Our oldest son purchasing his first home.  It was a big step into adulthood for sure.  He also switched to a different company/job and is now up for a nice promotion.  So obviously, we are very proud of him.  And to think-he was homeschooled from K-12th.  Huh. Guess we didn't mess him up too badly. He certainly seems to be able to function in the 'real world',  far better than the dire predictions we heard over the years.  Yes, I am being a bit snarky there.  If I had a dime every time I heard that one.....

*Both of our older kiddos entering serious relationships with two very wonderful people. My mom intuition thinks these relationships may actually lead to marriage somewhere down the road here.  We'll see how things work out but that is definitely a great thing to ponder.

*A 'Tag-a-long' work trip with my hubby that resulted in us being able to stay a beautiful cabin on a lovely lake in Wisconsin. That also resulted in our seeing a very handsome bald eagle whose residence was literally across the lake from us on a wee little island.  I mean that beauty actually put on a show for us. It was truly amazing!

*Getting the classroom ready, and curriculum mostly purchased prior to the beginning of school.  That has been a big challenge for me these past couple years. I was quite pleased with myself on that one.

*Getting a daily/weekly planner to try to organize our life and goings on.  I have been OKish with being consistent but need to be more diligent. That is why I started with a $10 one, but I really, really want an Inkwell Press planner.  Maybe next year after I have tested my ability to stick with it first.

*Finally getting the nerve to do some YouTube videos of our classroom, and various other things that I have long pondered filming.  I need to do more but it's just been kinda hectic, so that is my 2016 goal for sure. Baby steps here.
 My YouTube channel: 

*Positive results that at first were a bit sketchy.  After my initial lady check-up in September, I began a three month odyssey that was rather nerve racking and down right scary at times.  I ended up having some not so good results that lead to ultrasounds, tests and more tests, and even a biopsy. The "Let's rule out cancer." was mentioned here and there too.  Damn scary! Trying to ignore those "what if" thoughts while trying to keep the home running and educating the boy was a real challenge while we waited for the results.  I also had some bleeding issues (after the biopsy) which left me very exhausted, weak and probably anemic. Yah, it was that bad. Anyway-the thankful moment came when the uterine biopsy/mammogram results all came back negative for cancer or problems. Hallelujah! I may have to consider another procedure to alleviate some issues I still have but for now-I am not messing with it.

*Feeling strong enough now to plan and organize some Christmas activities. Such as:
House decor-check. Village set up-check. 
 Big cookie bake and frosting day-check.  
Xmas shopping-mega fail...working on it. 
Christmas cards written out and mailed-double fail, soon though.  

*Finding time to research/begin the Trim Healthy Mama plan. Talk about confusing at first.  But I have been trying to follow it.  I am what they call "a turtle" but I am determined to give it time.  It's hard. But I have had some good results and hope to see many more. And now I have a YouTube video up with two more coming relating to the THM plan!
Check them out! 

*Finally, finally getting a real Xmas tree.  For many years past there has been so much going on,  including but not limited to:  traveling out of the country too close to the holidays to warrant one, traveling in early to mid-December to arrive home only days prior to Christmas, illnesses, family issues, not being able to budget a spency real tree, not wanting to deal with the 'needle gate' that occurs with real trees, or just being grumps. Which if you ever have a year from hell, you can relate- it's very hard to be in the 'spirit' of it some times.  BUT this year-we have a gorgeous Douglas Fir that is like 9 feet tall (probably 10' in the stand) that makes the house smell wonderful and looks so pretty.

*Being blessed with a wonderful daughter who likes to decorate and do some of that for me esp. since I have been ill.  She also was the one who decorated the home for us while we were at the hospital with my family last year.  Her loving heart and willingness to create something beautiful has been such a huge blessing.  In fact, our boy has also really jumped in and helped too. His 6'1" frame makes decorating much easier! He has been a real trooper picking up slack while his dad is traveling.

*For a husband that is a great provider who works very hard, long days/weeks and still takes time to dedicate time to the kids/me/fam and the home.  I am also thankful he has made the effort to show our boy how to fix a few things things. Esp. since I have had to call on him (the boy) to repair broken stuff lately.  Like the garbage disposer.

*For our cookie decorating tradition that we have done since the kids were born.  Plus that fact that we had two extra 'kids' join us for this fun event.  This is one tradition I absolutely love-even though it requires many hours of baking a bunch of cookie varieties, including the dozens of sugar cookies that are rolled, cut, baked, then decorated. The results are hilarious, and the memories too precious to even describe.

*For my wonderful blog readers.  Thank you for visiting and your kind/encouraging words.

*For the Hope and Grace and Shelter only the Lord can provide.  So very glad I have Him as my Rock and my Provider.  No one else could have walked me through this year, lifting me up when I could barely stand, answering prayers and filling my broken heart with his Mercy and Love. So very thankful for that!

and lastly-

*Let's not forget Kitty leaving me a lovely little puke gift on my shoes one morn!  Yes, my cat truly loves me.  I think....

"Leave me 'lone!"  
 She loves the heat from the cable box.
Silly Cleo.

Well that is about all for 2015.  Have a Blessed Christmas, 
may the Lord be ever present in your lives 
and may the coming year be a good one!