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How To Simplify Your Life with THE SIMPLIFIED PLANNER

How To Simplify Your Life with THE SIMPLIFIED PLANNER

Is your life crazy busy? Do you have a million things to remember to get done during the day? Then you are just like me. If I don’t write it down then it’s usually long gone. I’m the girl with post-it notes all over her desk.

One of my 2017 goals is to simplify. Simplify mentally, physically, and emotionally. I knew I needed to have one space to compile all of my lists and thoughts. Throughout the years I have tried various planners, and back in May I bought my first Simplified Planner. I can already tell you, this will not be my last. I absolutely love it! I’ve had my eye on Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner for a while, but didn’t know if the style and layout would be a good fit for me. Since changing jobs and working from home I wanted a fresh start. I needed something simple, easy to use, and ONE place to write everything down. No more post-it notes engulfing my desk!

I ordered the July 2017-July 2018 gold pineapple daily edition. Each month there is a monthly calendar spread. I use this space to write down any birthdays, appointments, and weekend plans. Then there is the daily spread. Each day has it’s own page, with an hourly schedule on one side and a to do list on the other. At the bottom of each page is a box for meals and a box for notes. That’s it! No extra fluff or frills!

The weekends have both Saturday and Sunday combined on a page. Sunday’s spread looks a little different because it includes a section called Sunday Prep. If you want to learn more about Sunday Prep, check out Emily Ley’s video! The pages are thick and a great quality. The cover is durable too. I love the way the daily is spiral bound so you can flip back the cover and previous pages when writing (great for us left handed peeps!)

How I Plan My Week:

Each Sunday I check my monthly spread and transfer any appointments or meetings to the corresponding day. I plan out the meals for the week, and begin writing out my daily to do lists. My goal is to simplify my life right?! Since each day has it’s own to do list, it’s much easier to break up my usually long weekly list into more manageable daily tasks. I can write down what I want to accomplish for each day of the week ahead of time and don’t have to worry about it until the day of! Clearing mental clutter! After doing this for three months now, I can tell it’s made a huge difference! I can’t complete a long to do list everyday! My expectations were set high and I was getting frustrated with myself. All I need is 3 or 4 tasks to focus on per day! Progress not perfection!

I love Emily Ley and what she stands for. Creating resources to make our lives easier and able to spend more time doing the things we love and being with people we love! You should also check our her book, Grace Not Perfection! It is an AWESOME read!

Now for those who are wondering, why spend all that money on a planner or do I have to use this specific one to get organized?! Absolutely not!! You don’t have to have the Simplified Planner to stay organized and live a simple life. Yes it is a great resource, but you can start right now making those life changes.

Here are 3 easy ways to simplify your tasks!

  1. Have ONE central location for your calendar and to do lists. That can be a planner, notebook, wall calendar, iCal, or phone! This helps prevent having your thoughts and lists scattered about!  
  2. SMALLER to do lists. Let me say this again SMALLER LISTS! This is a tough one, but you have to be realistic. Breaking up your to do list allows your day to become manageable. Each day have your top 3 things you want to accomplish before you go to sleep, complete those, and anything else you get done is icing on the cake!
  3. Lastly, post the FUN! In the Simplified Planner there is a space to write down a happy memory from the week. I love this! Record birthdays, anniversaries, special milestones, and fun adventures you are taking with loved ones! It is the reason why you are simplifying! 🙂

I could go on and on about how I have started simplifying my life! Leave a comment if you would like to see more posts like this! I would love to hear from you!

xoxo,

Grace

*Note: This is not a sponsored review of The Simplified Planner

A Fabulous Fourth

A Fabulous Fourth

I love celebrating holidays. It’s something about traditions, being with friends and family, and yummy food that makes my heart happy. The 4th of July brings on so many traditions: grilling out, wearing festive clothes, fun desserts, patriotic music, parades, and watching fireworks just to name a few. Since having our own house, I have learned I enjoy hosting! Decorating the house, getting cute plates and cups, cooking, and planning is my cup of tea!

This year Chase and I invited two friends over to celebrate. We grilled out, played with the pup, then headed to see fireworks! We ate yummy burgers, corn on the cob, watermelon, and baked beans. For dessert I made a brownie topped with cool whip, strawberries and blueberries. It was amazing! The fireworks were magnificent, probably some of the best I’ve ever seen. My favorite part was just hanging out with our friends and spending time together. Starting holiday traditions with Chase has been so much fun! What are some of your favorite 4th of July traditions?!

  

 

xoxo,

Grace

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stop and Smell the Roses

I’ve been around gardeners my whole life. The first person who contributed to my new found interest in gardening was my granddad. If I were to describe him in a few words it would be choir director and gardener. He loves plants. Going to my grandparents house in Cary there were always new flowers blooming, a giant magnolia tree for us to climb, and birds at the many feeders hanging in the trees. It felt like an oasis. Their porch was filled with so many flowers and potted plants. He even had a mini greenhouse and what I would call a “tending to new sprouts” room in their basement. I remember the smell of that room; musty dirt. Is that even a real smell?? He would show me how to cut flowers, how to plant them, and what the many different types were. My sister, cousins, and I would help (willing or not) in the many outdoor chores they had lined up for us when we visited. The best part of all of this was….my granddad always wore dress pants! Most people assume the typical gardener wears jeans, overalls, or boots…not him! But that is my granddad; he always dresses up no matter the occasion.

The second person that taught me a lot about gardening was my dad. Growing up, and even now, on any beautiful day you would find him outside. We lived on 5 acres with beautiful pastures and throughout my childhood we grew lots of fun things: corn, sunflowers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, green beans, tomatoes, watermelon, squash, lettuce, tulips, roses and SO much more. He can tell you though, I never really enjoyed helping. My sister and I would play outside or do our own thing, but never were interested in pulling weeds, preparing the soil in the spring, or any of the “work and waiting”. I just wanted the end result…the veggies or beautiful flowers.

Until now I guess I never really appreciated all the things they taught me. Now being 25 and owning a home has changed some things. I’ve decided to take up gardening this spring. Our porch is starting to transform into our own mini oasis. I’ve planted herbs, vegetables, and flowers in pots and our garden beds. I know my granddad and dad are proud and excited.

I have realized now it is not about the “end result” with gardening. Don’t get me wrong I am super excited to have vegetables to eat that I personally grew!!! But I am learning it is about the process; the journey; the experience.

(Our raised garden beds with lots of fun veggies; planting zinnias in the last bed in the near future)

I think this is relevant in our lives as well. So many of us race through life to get to “the best age”, “the best time”, “retirement”, “marriage”, “kids”, whatever you are wishing and reaching for and we lose track of the present. I know I do. We need to be in the now, even if it is not perfect or we stumble a few times. Because we will. Who knows if any of the plants will stay alive, but I am excited to tend to them, try something new, and enjoy the process.

Enjoy your now. Stop and smell the roses!

(The beautiful roses by our mailbox)

xoxo,

Grace

2017 Goals

2017 Goals

A few years ago I changed my perspective on goal setting after reading Lara Casey’s book Make It Happen, and purchasing her Powersheets workbook. I briefly talked about them in a previous post, but wanted to share in more detail my goals for this year! I used to try and make a few “resolutions”, but ended up never accomplishing them and feeling in a rut throughout the year. It felt like I wasn’t moving forward. After using the Powersheets, I have learned how to set more meaningful goals and actually accomplish them!

“PowerSheets are the ultimate intentional goal planner! They were designed to help you uncover the things that are most important to you and create POWERFUL goals that are meaningful and action-driven. Traditional goal setting hasn’t worked for us, so we created a goal planner that focuses on what matters most. With PowerSheets, big ideas have come to life, new ideas have changed lives, fear has been let go, businesses have been started, marriages have been strengthened, and best of all: the little moments that matter have been savored. PowerSheets enable you to start living on purpose.”                      source: Cultivate What Matters

But you don’t have to have the Powersheets to create good goals!!

Here are some tips and things I’ve learned-

  • Write your goals down: This is simple, but actually writing them on paper will help you remember them! Put your goals in a place you will see them everyday. Mine are currently on my desk; where I spend every morning before work!
  • Make smaller goals from your big “yearly” goals: These can be monthly, weekly, or daily. Breaking your goals down allows them to become more attainable and you can see your progress. This eliminates the frustration you could have when you feel like you aren’t moving forward.
  • Pray: Pray for wisdom, guidance, and allow Him to open your heart to the dreams you have. Think about why you want to accomplish the goals. Continue these prayers throughout the year. Never stop turning to God for guidance in your journey.
  • Celebrate!!!: This is actually one of my goals 🙂 Celebrate progress, even the littlest step forward! Celebrate with the ones you love! Eat a cupcake, grab coffee, or treat yourself to a manicure. However you love to celebrate, do it!!

My Goals:

1.BE STILL with God

Ways I will take action: journal daily, read my new 365 bible, quiet time in the morning

2.Manage my TIME better

Ways I will take action: social media free days, smaller to-do lists, less tv, set a routine

3.SIMPLIFY

Ways I will take action: get rid of “stuff”, read Living Well Spending Less

4.LOVE my husband

Ways I will take action: surprise him, show joy, letting go, ask questions, date nights

5.Live a HEALTHY life

Ways I will take action: More water daily, meal plan, essential oil use, exercise, sleep 8 hours

6.GIVE Joy

Ways I will take action: Volunteer at church, give more of my time, money and resources

7.CULTIVATE Relationships

Ways I will take action: letters to friends and family, meaningful coffee dates, phone calls, pray for my loved ones, send prayer texts

8.Take a LEAP

Ways I will take action: Start a blog (CHECK!!!!!), travel, start photographing again, create more

9.GROW

Ways I will take action: Plant in my flower beds, landscape, read about gardening

10.CELEBRATE

Ways I will take action: Happy dances, thankful lists, inspiration boards (things that make me happy), eat a cupcake 😀

     

By no means does it have to be perfect. Brainstorm, doodle, write, cross-out, or change goals mid-year! All of that is part of the process! Also I am NOT perfect with my goals. Many days I don’t check anything off; push back goals to the next month. But all of that is okay!!! The journey and growth along the way is what matters. It is learning more about yourself. Since starting my goals in January, I have noticed a sense of calmness over me that I have never felt before. My quiet time in the morning has become more meaningful, I have seen progress in my attitude, and overall outlook of life. I know God is molding and teaching me through these goals.

It is never too late to start your goals. Your new year could be today! I would love to hear from you; comment below and let me know your goals for the year!

xoxo,

Grace

*Note: This is not a sponsored review of the Powersheets product

Let It Snow

Let It Snow

Snow days were the best days as a kid. At my childhood home there are many hills, perfect for sledding. My family would spend all morning outside playing then come in to yummy hot stew on the stove and a fire going.   Growing up in the South we would be out of school for days!

Going to Appalachian State University gave me a greater appreciation for schools and towns actually being closed due to snow. Living in Boone for four years I learned how to dress in many layers, walk to class in a blizzard, cover your face at all times, and figure out how to navigate a little VW beyond a snow covered parking lot and drive down the mountain to student teaching.

Coming back down the mountain after college to teach in a public school means I get snow days again!! Even as an adult, I still get giddy waking up peeking out the window to see a blanket of white snow covering the ground.

Adult snow days look a little different now, but I still get so much joy out of them!

The first snow of 2017 in my small North Carolina town was actually a good amount. Around 5 inches at our house! The snow filled weekend included going out to play, yummy chili, hot drinks, chess, movies, and my favorite: quiet time with God. 

One of my 2017 goals is to get back into daily journaling. Currently I am writing in an Erin Condren journal. These are great because you can customize the cover just the way you would like it! Along with journaling, I started The One Year Bible. This is a great walk through of the Bible. Each day there is an Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs passage to read.  Plus they include doodles and verses you can color! Also pictured above is my 2017 PowerSheets. These goal setting workbooks are a game changer!! I will write a whole separate post on my 2017 goals and how I use my PowerSheets. You don’t need anything fancy to have a meaningful quiet time with God. Just take out your bible and dive into His word. So much grace, peace, and joy are found talking to your Creator and growing in your relationship.

Hope your ”snow days” are filled with the ones you love and soaking up being still for a moment.

“The snow reminded me of the beauty and mystery of creation, of the essential joy that is life” – Orhan Pamuk

xoxo,

Grace

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I thought I would share with you all a few products that I love right now! It is a mixture of home decor, clothes, beauty products, books etc!

1. Oil Diffuser. I bought mine from Amazon for just $39.95 and love it! I diffuse essential oils all the time. Right now my favorite is lavender at night to relax and unwind.

2. Essential Oils. Since I love my diffuser, I have to love what I put in it! These essential oils are 100% pure and are a great price.

3. My newest favorite thing is my Himalayan Salt Lamp. I found mine at Home Goods for $19.99, but I know you can purchase them on Amazon and at Bed Bath and Beyond. These lamps help cleanse the air in your home, reduce allergy and asthma symptoms, increase your energy levels as well as help you sleep. They are really cool looking too!

4. You have probably heard how Probiotics are beneficial to your digestive system and gut. Besides taking a supplement, something else that has these good bacterias in it are Kombuchas. These fermented tea drinks are quite tasty and my favorite brand is KeVita! You can find them at Whole Foods and many other grocery stores.

5. I love to decorate. My husband and I just bought our first house and I am all heart eyes for every square inch of it! (Don’t worry, there will be a house tour and plenty of decorating tips coming soon) A book I read a while back really opened my heart to how I wanted to decorate my home. The Nesting Place is a great read and teaches everyone it “doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”!

6. Another one of my favorite books is Make It Happen by Lara Casey. She also is the creator of the Powersheets that I mentioned in my Snow Day post. I love her and what she stands for. It is a must read for EVERYONE!

7. Blanket Scarfs. A go-to accessory for many girls this winter season. I bought mine in the dollar spot at Target for $7!! I don’t think they have them anymore, but there are so many stores that carry them!

8. I have been using organic facial products for a year or more now. I just started using the Andalou Naturals – Quenching cleanser, toner, day cream, and eye lift cream. I have used other Andalou products for a while and was running out so I thought I would try these!

9. Two other beauty products I use daily are for my hair. I love going between the Andalou Naturals Smooth Hold Styling Cream and Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hair Creme. They both make my hair smooth and don’t weigh it down. (P.S. Vitacost is my favorite online store to get all my organic products, supplements, and much more! It is so much cheaper than in any store!!)

10. Lastly are these Kate Spade Keds! I wore these on my wedding day!! They were so comfortable, but still fun and stylish! I love the bling! I wear them all the time now!

I would love to hear what are your favorite things!

xoxo,

Grace

This is the Day the Lord Has Made

This is the Day the Lord Has Made

Every girl dreams of the day she will be a bride. Since I was a little girl I remember so vividly playing “wedding” with my little sister Rachel. Her and I would dress up in my aunt’s wedding dress, put on her veil, and carry fake flowers around as we sang “Here Comes the Bride”. Rachel and I would talk about what we hoped our big day would look like. Outside in a field of wild flowers…that was my dream.

You don’t envision 100% chance of rain on your wedding day.

Let me back up a little bit and tell you about my husband. Chase and I grew up in the same small, southern town. We met each other through a mutual friend in middle school but didn’t know each other too well until the end of my senior (his junior) year of high school. We reconnected through another mutual friend and started to hang out more. We started dating soon after. I left for college and we dated throughout my freshman year, only to break it off the next summer.  He and I went our separate ways. It was a huge blessing in disguise!! Fast forward a few years. We reconnected on Facebook and decided to try the relationship again. Chase and I realized how much we had grown up, matured, and found ourselves while being apart from one another for those years in college. Our “second go around” as we like to call it ended…well….in marriage! It is crazy how God’s timing works. And I am so blessed for that time to grow as a woman in between our dating. 

Back to the wedding day.

The week before the wedding the chance of rain kept increasing and so did my anxiety. Chase and I didn’t want to change our plans of having the wedding outside. A last minute decision to rent a tent for the ceremony and reception was the best decision we made! During our rehearsal it poured  and we were so thankful we had the tent.

Morning of the wedding…..SUNSHINE! 

Was this real life? Was the whole day going to be sunny??

I was so in awe of God and His goodness. I don’t know why I was worried in the first place!

While we were getting ready and taking photos outside it was warm and sunny! The complete opposite of what was forecasted. Our ceremony started at 5 and right as my dad and I were walking out it started to drizzle. As soon as we got under the tent, light rain began to fall. It continued to rain during the ceremony and actually cooled everyone down. However, the rain ended as soon as the reception started!   What amazing timing!! The rest of the evening was beautiful,  magical and better than I could have dreamed of!

What I learned from the whole wedding planning process is that God is in control. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the little details you forget the big picture. You are marrying your best friend, and beginning your life together as one. All the worrying and stress should be given to God.

Friends, when you are overwhelmed with worry, rest in knowing God is with you, always and forever. He takes all of our burdens. Let go and enjoy the moment!

xoxo,

Grace

Wedding Day Photographs: Ashley Louise Photography