The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Marching forward with progress, one Filofax at a time

I don't mind the dings and scuffs that come over time on a well-loved Filofax but stains are another matter, especially large stains that come in multiples.  

About six months ago I got a few Filofaxes on clearance but only kept two; the pink pocket Rio and the  mini Piazza.    I use the Rio a lot but never set up the Piazza which is why it was really disappointing to find the back of it all stained.  

I found it like that a few months ago and being a big mess, selling it was out.  So I put it away until this morning and realized -- as I sat  watching the show Hoarding and doing my 2013 Clutter Resolutions -- I had to do something with it even if all I did was toss it.

I tried to save it with dollar store rub on transfers.


I didn't take before pictures but you can see a few marks on the back of the the strap.  


I covered all the rest of the stains.


And the back is looking... Adorable, actually.


So I kept going and did the front too...


I like the results a lot, probably more then I liked it when it was perfect and unstained.  The transfers add something special.  Unique.  Fun!  

midori with rub on transfer

I've used transfers on Midori Traveler's Notebooks successfully but the leather isn't the same.  The Filofax leather is much more processed and has a less toothy surface.  So will it work long-term?

I don't know.  But I managed to alter it in a way that at least gives me a good reason to keep it and see...    I've heard clutter described as ' decisions delayed' and working on clutter issues gives you a firm push towards decision making. 

  Decluttering is a process but I'm doing my best to live within the boundaries of use it or lose it.  At the moment my Piazza isn't clutter but if the transfers don't stay on.... Well, I'll need to revisit the definition of clutter again ruthlessly.  If something meant to organize me becomes part of the problem that's not progress.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Filofax and budgeting: Changing money from concept to concrete

 I'm pretty disorganized with budgeting and expenses.  I get paid monthly and it has to last until my next check (preferably, with a little left) but over and over I'm really hurting before the next check comes.   October was a TOTAL mess; I overdrew the account  two days before the next check.  And since I didn't shop early for Christmas and was planning on using my November check for gifts, it was especially painful.  

I had to find a solution... and fast.   I gave a lot of thought to what works  money-wise (very little) and what doesn't (almost everything) and came up with several places to begin.  Leaving everything in my checking account and using my debit card exclusively is a #fail because  I can't visualize individual expenses, all I see is my total balance. 

Usually by the beginning of the third week  I realize things aren't going well (yet again) and panic.  My lack of financial planning is constantly stressful, especially when less frequent  or unplanned expenses come due (Amazon Prime, my post office box, doctor visits, prescriptions, Christmas, Birthdays, etc...)

Sorting it all out was depressing and I had to face it,  I'm not good with money, period.  The one bright spot, the one thing I was doing right was getting a months worth of  grocery money in cash every time I got paid.   

I've been doing that about six months and groceries aren't stressful anymore.  I know what I have and it keeps my spending honest.  If I can't find something on sale, I don't buy it unless it's absolutely necessary.   I try to be really careful so I can stock up on especially good sales.  It's much better to buy things I always need at the best price.


Since paying  cash for groceries is the only thing I got going right, I decided to expand the idea.  First, I made a special envelope for the monthly food allowance, totally separating it from random wallet cash.  


Then I made a Christmas envelope. I may expand it to birthday money too but I'm trying not to over plan right out of the gate.  That never works for me.


The next one is for medical expenses. 


And the last one  is for my post office box but I might expand this to include Amazon Prime.

I figured out when things come due, divided by 12 months and came up with how much I need to add monthly to cover the expense.  

Writing things in my Filofax works because it makes ideas/thoughts concrete and paying with cash versus credit cards is similar.  Sliding plastic through a card reader somehow  keeps spending more concept  then reality.  Shopping with cash is very, very real and somehow  painful.  

 My plan is to add other categories, things like wardrobe, personal items (specifically nail polish, I have a huge problem resisting nail polish), office/planner supplies,  and pet care but it's best for me to change slowly and organically.   

I think this will work well for me but I'll report back in a few months.  

Does anyone else use an envelope system to budget?  I'd love to know what works for you!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

To-Do sheets plus lots of foodling...

Lots of Foodling (Filofax + Doodling)  this week.  That always happens when I just know there's something  I forget to put down. 


So I sit with my Filofax open and a pen in my hand waiting....


The longer it takes the more I foodle...


I want to come up with a posting schedule for 2013 (what day's I will post what) but I still have no idea if that's doable for me.


This week had more Washi then stickers...


Got knitting needles for Christmas and a gift certificate for classes, which I need very, very badly.  I've knitted a few practice rows.  It feels so awkward- like a need a third set of fingers - and no sample is correct, geometricly speaking.  


Last one for the week!  I'll probably get most of it done...It's snowing out!



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Gestalt of Analog

I only use a few Filofax dividers because it's easier for me to break things down in more general ways.  The 'big picture' approach is natural for me;  I'd rather see the forest, not every tree.

Too much detail and I can't see what I'm looking at.   I am awed by people who can function with everything broken down into minutia but for me too  much detail and it looks likes a big, messy pizza with extra everything.   Yummy for sure but I can't find the pepperoni for all the ham, bacon pineapple, sausage, meatballs, onions, and mushrooms.

I know some days, my To-Do pages look hopelessly all over the map and my Filofax is stuffed with receipts, post-its and extra pages but it's organized chaos not chaos proper. 

Organizing on paper is intuitive and works the way my brain works.   Seeing (eyes) information and writing (muscles) it down  gives information a physical address which is essential to memory and planning (brain).  The process simplifies my thoughts and allows me to see details through the daily din.

Looking at things as a whole first isn't new, the Gestalt view dates back to the 1940's.  The premise that "the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog,  with self- organizing tendencies  " holds true today because people are analog. We don't process digital data like computers, we take in sights, sounds, smells, experiences.... Things, not bytes.

And my wacky  to-do sheets are parallel,  holistic, self-organizing and very, very analog.  When I look at the mixed up, multicolored pages my brain sorts it all out; breaking down tasks in an organic way and naturally organizing my life.


Just for today do something Analog that you usually do digitally, your brain will sigh with relief.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Filodays...

To my friends,

Wishing you all a peaceful day full of family...  fun... food... and Filofaxes!



Holiday Melting... Now with more Rolos!

I've posted this recipe every year since I started blogging because it's so easy and everyone loves them!  It's not my original recipe but I've made at least five different versions (because my son won't eat nuts...)  It's the kind of thing that's more method then recipe (which I love!)

Since I've made them so often I didn't check the recipe first:

 small pretzels

 a regular sized Rolo per pretzel

 Enough Mini Rolos (new this year!), Hersey's Kisses,  or nuts to top each.

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

2. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet.

3.  Place one Rolo on each pretzel. and bake for 3 minutes.

4.  Remove from oven.  The Rolos should look the same but be soft enough to press something into it.

5.  Right away, while the candy is warm, press your chosen topper onto each candy covered pretzel.

6.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container   (I usually put them outside for half an hour...)

Normally this is what they look like.


They are the perfect mix of crispy, salty, chocolaty, sweet, and chewy.

This year I heated the oven to 315 degrees and left them in for 4 minutes. I don't  know what I was thinking.  They still rock the taste buds...

 Visually they are a hot mess and a half.

Some more then others....

When I took them from the oven, they had oozed together and all over...  Fortunately, once you bite into them they taste like bliss and looks aren't important anymore...  

The hardest thing about doing them is unwrapping the Rolo candies which is still MUCH easier then homemade cookies so give them a try because holiday melting is much easier then holiday baking.


A parade of weekly to-do sheets

Here's the pages from this last week plus a few other things...


Like this packing list.  I did an overnight last week to get Ventura's leg brace and didn't want to forget anything important. 


Happy to say, I didn't forget anything...  Oh how I love my Filofax!

Ventura - my bionic greyhound - with his new brace

Ventura with his new brace, very Steampunk...


I started using some of my new Washi Tape this week....


...and started putting stickers on my stickers...


Ordered some new washi tape this week and I love this one! It makes me unreasonably happy.


She had more rolls available at LeBoxBoutique if it makes your heart beat faster! 


It was a big doodle week.


Directions to the Holiday Inn in Morgantown, PA.   They take dogs!


Lot's of chores for the party today.  Finally got everything done too, thanks to my Filofax


Friday, December 21, 2012

The whole planning shebang...

The thing that Filofax  users understand (that non-Filofaxers don't)  is that it's so much more then a calendar.   Granted, a dated section is the one thing they all have in common  but it's the rest that makes it a whole life tool.  Random bits of information are hard to process, harder still to move into long term memory.   Thought isn't a linear thing and  your brain is not an app.

Information needs a physical address because that's how brains process information and accomplishes recall.  Memory is the ability to store, retain, and recall information.  Multiple parts of the brain work for each  memory and the more connections (spacial, physical, time...) you make to the information, the easier it is to recall.  Writing things down gives attention to a thought plus multiple ways to track back.  (Yes, you can tap an  appointment into an app, but that won't help you commit it to memory or make it a concrete thing).  

jetpens index label

 I've watched a lot of Filofax videos and read tons of blogs on the subject.   While many people join the paper-using ranks as a means of getting organized  they soon find a lot more benefits because invariably ,  a Filofax becomes an extension of the user and  tool for personal expression.  


For me spending time writing, planning, reflecting on my day or just doodling brings a welcome quiet.  I like electronic media, the stream of instant messages, the push notifications... the emails... but without space for silence it's all overwhelming.  There's something meditative (and healthy) about writing down my thoughts.  


What started as just a calendar became an anchor for my life, a security blanket of sorts... The silent part of a day that renews me and makes the constant electronic drone tolerable.   

#filofax 80's preppy flashback

And that's what makes a Filofax the whole planning shebang.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Contour Chair Lounge Madness

 I adore thumbing through decades old magazines.  Even though I've read each one dozens of times I always find something useful, fun or just plain wacky when I pick them up. 

I think this fits in just perfectly because it's useful, fun and very, very wacky!

All images are clickable for better viewing!
The Contour Lounge Chair Co. of St. Louis, Mo. produced chairs from the 1950′s to the 80′s.  Each chair was custom made based on each customer’s measurements so that when reclined, the entire body is supported and relaxed, feet above heart, and the spine / neck is comfortably cradled.

This ad was from the 60's but the company was still going strong is 1984 (when they produced this commercial!)

The tiger patterned chair with tail (Cheesy retro perfection!)  is draw-droppingly wacky...but the mink one might be the wackiest version. 

Da-Voon, no?

Magazines from December especially fun to go through because there are more ads then usual and sometimes entire Christmas Gift Giving Sections.  


AWESOME $25 Amazon Gift CODE from @Abreva

The winner is Elena and an email has been sent to her!  Congratualations Elena and thanks to everyone who participated!

Even though it's likely that 90% of adults have been infected by the cold sore virus, not everyone gets  outbreaks.  Actually, only 20%-40% of people will experience cold sores - And I'm one of them.

I go through cycles; sometimes I won't get an outbreak for a blissful few months and then they start coming monthly for a while.   And I'm far from alone, about eighty million Americans suffer from cold sores.

They look awful but it's not really about that because they are very painful, can spread beyond your lips (and to other people).  For me,  I start with one and very soon I have it on the other lip and the skin around my mouth.  According to the National Institute of Health cold sores are contagious in all stages but  are most contagious at the 'weeping' stage when the blisters break.  Since you can't cure them the best you can do is shorten the duration of the outbreak.

For most of my adult life there wasn't much help for cold sores. I tried a lot of unsuccessful over the counter products and when a prescription only med came out, I tried that.  It does work but it's expensive and you have to begin using to during the prodrome (tingling) phase.  That means once the tingling starts I have to get to a doctor, like yesterday... And that just never works because getting an immediate  appointment with the doctor (especially during cold and flu season) is near impossible.

Now I have another option: Abreva®. It's the only over-the-counter medication approved by the FDA that is proven to shorten healing time of a cold sore. Abreva®  penetrates deep to the root of your cold sore to heal it fast and helps block the spread of the virus to healthy cells. It speeds healing like a prescription but without one.  Win/win pretty much....

Since  Abreva® is widely available in drugstores (it's the number one pharmacist recommended over-the-counter cold sore treatment) it's easy to start the healing process quickly and since it doesn't require a doctor's appointment there's no problem with treating your cold sore during the important first stages.  And you can try Abreva® risk free. If you aren't completely satisfied with Abreva® for any reason, save your receipt and remaining product, and call 1-877-709-3539 to get your money back.  But there's more....

Abreva® is sponsoring a giveaway for AN AWESOME AMAZON $25 GIFT CODE! 

Enter by 12/28/2012!

“Disclaimer: I am participating in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Abreva, and received free product and compensation in return for my participation.”


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Weeks worth of to-do sheets

I'm thinking about doing a regular weekly post showing my daily to-do sheets.


I really enjoy going back through them, proving to myself that I've accomplished what I set out to get done is meaningful for me.  Some days I feel like I'm spinning my wheels but not moving forward.


Reviewing these pages resets my 'I'm not doing enough' clock.  


So I thought I might  do posts entirely of these pages.


Maybe once a week I'll do a post like this...   I don't know for sure yet.  I always get the sweetest comments about my daily pages, people seem to really enjoy seeing them.


There's nothing  special about them, no system to speak of. No organized plan of action to share because they are more free verse then proper... but I like them.


I'll keep doing it if everyone finds it fun and interesting!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Filofax + Clairefontaine = Love

One of the easiest things about working with personal size Filofax planners is adding pages.  There are a blissful lot of ready made options and making pages is pretty much a breeze.  

Last week I ran out of A5 Clairefontaine graph paper and looked around on eBay for something closer to the right size.


And I found some.


This notebook is very economical (two notebooks of 192 pages each for $12 with free shipping) and I've not seen this configuration before.  The information is all in French so perhaps it's not readily available in the US.  


It's not micro-perforated but taking it apart is similar to taking apart Moleskines and easy.  The paper is bound with thread in bundles.


You can take bundles out individually which keeps the notebook intact until you need more pages.


The easiest way to get the bundles apart is with a seam ripper (used for sewing) but lifting the thread with a needle and then cutting works as well.


The page size is very similar to branded Filofax paper.


You can cut so the rounded corners remain or cut a little off both sides for squared off pages (which is what I did.)


Clairefontaine paper is a joy to write on.  Information from the website: "The Clairefontaine mill has been making paper since 1858 and stationery products since 1890. The company is best known for making the first school notebooks in France. Clairefontaine is currently the only European manufacturer making its own papers for its own products.
Clairefontaine Notebooks feature:
  • A perfect satin finish for maximum smoothness in writing
  • 90g paper –fountain pen friendly
  • pH neutral, chlorine-free paper. A gift of nature, calcium carbonate, gives Clairefontaine its trademark qualities of extra white and ultra smooth
  • Opaque, write on both sides of a page
  • Ruled, ruled w/margin, graph, graph w/multi-subject, blank, and seyes (French ruled).
  • Staple bound, cloth bound, spiral bound and hardcover
  • 10 sizes – 3 x 4 ¾” to 8 ¼ x 11 ¾"
This is paper heaven to me; it takes all kinds of ink (including fountain pen) very well and the smooth surface is effortless to write on.  I think kids who have writing/hand fatigue issues in school would benefit from using it a lot.  

I have a strong preference for graph to-so sheets but Clairefontaine paper is available ruled and blank as well.  I know many people are familiar with this paper but if you haven't, give it a try... You won't be sorry!


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