Stuck in the middle with you.

You can’t help but get a little reflective this time of year.  Lately I have been thinking about this new stage of life I am entering.  Gone are the trying to conceive, pregnant, newborn days but the days of working outside the home are also on hiatus.  Instead I am somewhere in the middle.  Kind of a little stuck, maybe a tad lost but at the same time a whole heap excited about what is to come.

I never gave much thought to how many children I wanted.  It was always many, but no finite number. Part of me will always wonder if things had of been different would I have had more?  But making babies and carrying babies has gradually gotten more difficult for this old duck and as much as my heart wonders, my body and head tell me we are done.

I can’t remember a time before wanting a baby.  Being a mother is all I ever really wanted and now that part of my life is fulfilled.  Now what?  In 2015 my two oldest will be at school 5 days a week.  A bit over a year ago the thought of that was enough to yearn for another baby.  Now that baby is here and growing fast, the yearning is not gone but replaced.  I find myself selfishly yearning for something for myself.  To further my education, to spend time with friends, to take care of my health and wellbeing.  

I spent a good proportion of 2013, in the pits of morning sickness hell.  I have never been so stressed and miserable.  So miserable that even now I get anxious over the thought of being sick.  2014 was spent being heavily pregnant, giving birth and then the haze of newborn days.  I have a knack for creating gorgeously happy babies that don’t like to sleep. So 2015 I hereby declare as a time to get my groove back.  To find ME again.  To sparkle.

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To carve out time for ENJOYING life not ENDURING it.  

To make myself HAPPY and HEALTHY.

To treasure the MOMENT and not the MEMORY.

Get better control over MONEY and not let it control ME.

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I have plans for girls nights and family holidays and date nights.  For more study and reading and writing.  To get healthier and look after myself and prioritise my own well being.  To find time to do the things I love like organising, planning and creating a beautiful home.  To spend quality time with the kids EVERY day that does not involve nagging or ordering. 

 

How will I do all of this?  Well thats where you will come in.  This blog has always made me more accountable.  Somehow if its in writing it’s more likely to happen.  To have time for myself will not be easy.  I will need to be super organised.  But there is no time like now.  It’s time to get unstuck, start moving forward and embrace this new chapter of life.

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Getting Organised for 2015

Can’t believe I am saying this but Christmas hasn’t even arrived yet and I am all out of Christmas cheer.  This festive season has felt different for some reason and I can only put it down to extreme lack of sleep and home sickness.  All my siblings will be together with my extended family this Christmas but I won’t be there.  Instead we are travelling South to have Christmas with my husbands side of the family.  They are amazing and we are excited to check out all of their new houses and schools and for the kids to have some great play time with their cousins.  But you know how it is, Christmas is always a little different when it’s not with your own family.  

So instead my thoughts turn to January and getting organised for the year ahead.  I LOVE Januray!!!!  Back to school shopping, new planners, fresh calendars and school holidays! 

This January I will be;

  • Creating a Home Command Centre.
  • Creating an a3 Clanedar for the year ahead
  • Moving in to my 2015 planner
  • Refining and creating new routines and systems for school Mornings and afternoons.

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2015 I will have two children at school full time!!!! How did the last 5 years go so fast? Master O and Little Miss A go to different schools so we will have double the paperwork, double the dates, double the first days of school, double the routines and double the travel arrangements. We are going to need one MASSIVE calendar and super organised planner. To help ease into it all, I have taken extended maternity leave for 2015 but will do some casual relief work during the year. Our chunky Hunky wont be going to daycare just yet so we will juggle childcare arrangements between the two of us for as long as we can.

  • Adding some finishing touches to our School Stations
  • Getting a homework area set up
  • Doing the Back to school shopping 
  • Organising Uniforms and shoes

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A Thoughtful Place School Organising

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Homework Station from Mom 4 Real

Little Miss A will be starting Prep and with that comes uniforms, homework, sight words and readers. Just when Master O has finished all of those things, another child begins! Master O will be going into Grade 3 and I can only imagine how much homework and the many projects that will be on the agenda.

Is it crazy that I am super excited about all of that? 

  • Sort out my study and paperwork pile!

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LOVE these Study Colours! 

Just to mix it up a bit I am doing two uni subjects in Semester 1.  As daunting as it was going back to uni I thoroughly enjoyed my first Semester (semester 2 this year) I am studying a Masters of Educational Leadership all online and am slowly adapting to how much uni has changed since I first went more than 15 years ago! Now that I have had a bit of a practice run I have a bettr of idea of what kind of study system and organisation I need.  The biggest change to my study habits since my undergraduate degrees is with 3 children I can no longer leave anything to the last minute!!!! 

 

So that’s where we are at.  

Anybody else crazy excited about 2015?

Tell me I am not alone in my love of back to school shopping? 

 

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OzSale – Finding and Scoring a Bargain

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with OzSale.

Anyone who has been following The Organised Nest for a while knows how much I LOVE online shopping.  If I can buy it online, I do.  It saves navigating overcrowded stores with my massive pram.  Trying to make decisions whilst being bombarde by questions and whinging form little humans.  Lets me buy presents stealthily, keeping purchases hidden from alwyas prying children (ok and occasionally the husband).  

Recently OzSale contacted me and wanted to know if I would try it out.  I will be honest in that I was a little reluctant as I had no clue about the autheniticty of Ozsale or where on earth (literally) the goods were coming from.  I let them know I couldn’t promise anything, but I was happy to check it out.  

Late one night during a feeding frenzy I goggled ozsale.  Turns out their is an app you can download to navigate it on your mobile a little better, so I did.  First thing I see, Holster sandals, dirt cheap.  Are you serious?  HALF THE PRICE people!  

I keep browsing and check out the Living category.  Cushions in bright modern designs for $12!!!  The whole cushion!  Not just the cover!  With piping! and BAGS!  Tote bags, lunch bags, cosmetic bags from $9.  An organiser like me can never have enough bags.

So I placed my first order.  I am a massive overthinker so umming and ahhing I left my first purchase until the next day.  Some summer dresses and of course those holster sandals.  THE SANDALS are SOLD OUT!!!  My first lesson of ozSale.  These are massive deals, when you see it, buy it as the stock moves quickly.  So dresses it will be!  I bought two maxi dresses and two shorter summer dresses totalling under $60.  Yep FOUR dresses for under $60!!!

Not wanting to risk loosing money, I waited for the dresses to arrive before placing my next order.  And arrive they did, FOUR DAYS LATER!  I thought I would be waiting weeks! Turns out some stock is sent from Australia so these items do not take too long to arrive.  Check on the description of the item you are purchasing in regards to where it is being sent form.

The dresses were PERFECT.  Good quality, packaged nicely, could not fault it.  So you know what I did that night!  Yep another search!

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This time I bought cushions and those tote bags (including some ballet bags for Little Miss A for Christmas)  This time they were via international post and yet they arrived in under 10 business days!!!!

So I am hooked!  

What you should know……

Get in Fast

All OzSale stock is only available for a limited time.  It is usually available for about a week but often seels out (especially popular sizes) before the sale is finished.

Check The Supplier

If you need it fast check the supplier and postage times.

Compare

Wanting to see if I was in fact getting a bargain I compared various other suppliers online.  OzSale was cheaper EVERY time.

Download The App

This definitely made shopping via my mobile a lot easier and it saved my “shopping bag” each time. 

PayPal

I ONLY use PayPal when purchasing online.  It gives me peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong I can dispute the transaction with PayPal and recover my lost funds.  It is also more secure and super easy.  OzSale uses paypal.

 Buyer beware.  If you love a good bargain you will easily be hooked on OzSale.  It sure makes those midnight feeding frenzies a whole lot more enjoyable AND productive, Christmas shopping is DONE!

You can see my purchases and what everyone else is buying by searching the #ozsale and #ozsaleloves hashtags on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

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Starting THE ELF ON THE SHELF – Everything You Need to Know

Every year I am bombarded with questions on how to “do” the Elf on The Shelf.  It is such a hard question to answer as their is no “right” way to enjoy the Elf On The Shelf.  But to get you  started and get your own ideas in motion everything you need to know is right here! In ONE post!  Follow these 6 Steps to begin your ELf On The Shelf memory making!

 

1. WHAT IS THE ELF ON THE SHELF

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What is this crazy thing I keep hearing about? A Joyful Christmas Tradition

 

2. WHERE TO BUY AN ELF ON THE SHELF?

Our favourite place is The Book Depository.  Mainly because they almost always have stock and quick and affordable shipping.

 

3. WHAT DOES HE DO?

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Get some inspiration and see how other people use the Elf on The Shelf. The Elf On The Shelf in Our House, The Elf on The Shelf In Real Homes

 

4. GET ORGANISED!  

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Be organised! It’s a busy 25 days!  Plan ahead using a FREE PRINTABLE ANTIC PLANNER 

 

5. WELCOME YOUR ELF!

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 So now you are ready to start, how ill the Elf Arrive?  Some ideas on introducing him to your children and a free printable letter from Santa to help you on your way. IDEAS on How to Introduce The Elf, FREE PRINTABLE Letter of Introduction From Santa

 

6. LET THE GAMES BEGIN

 Use the Search Bar >>>> to search Elf On The Shelf and My Christmas Elf

and uncover photos, FREE printables, educational activities, clue cards and 

LET THE MEMORIES BEGIN! 

 

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How to Make White Dough Ornaments

As a special end of year celebratory treat we like to make a little Christmas gift to share with our classmates.  Last year we made White Dough Star Ornaments.  This was by far the cheapest and my favourite gift we have ever made!  Judging by the popularity of this blog post, I am guessing lots of other people loved it too!

So I wanted to give you an update.  An after the fact recount AKA what I learnt and a quick HOW TO.

Traditionally dough ornaments are made using a “Salt Dough” recipe.  This is an easy way to make the ornaments and you get a very natural appearance as a result.  But I wanted WHITE!!!!  After some research on google, and advice from the ever helpful “The Organised Nest” Facebook flock.  I found a new recipe! I have adapted it slightly for Australians and this will create enough dough for about 16 small ornaments.

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Dough Ornaments
Yields 16
A WHITE glistening dough mixture great for making ornaments and keepsakes.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup of Corn Flour
  2. 2 Cups of BiCarb Soda (the same as Baking Soda)
  3. 1 1/4 Cups Cool Water
Instructions
  1. Mix Cornflour and BiCarb Soda in bowl.
  2. Add Cool water and stir.
  3. Once ingredients are combined place over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. The mixture will bubble first and then begin to combine.
  5. Once the dough mixture has formed one large ball in the pan, remove and place in a bowl to cool.
  6. Cover the dough with a wet cloth as it cools.
  7. Once cool, knead the dough with your hands. (this should only take a minute or two!)
  8. It quickly comes a beautiful smooth dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little extra cornflour on the bench and roll it out into 1cm high sections.
  10. Cut it out into whatever shapes your heart desires!
  11. Use a straw to press out a hole in the top of the ornaments (to allow for hanging)
  12. If you want to stamp or carve pictures into your dough now is the time to do it!
  13. Place each shape onto Baking paper and leave to air dry for at least 24 hours.
  14. Admire your handy work!
Notes
  1. You can bake these ornaments, but it will give them a golden baked appearance.
  2. Like any dough, once hard they are quite fragile so be careful!
  3. Use some ribbon or twine to create a hanging ornament.
  4. These make great gifts!
  5. * I used a "Cookie Stamp" to create personalised messages. These are available from kitchen stores and even large department stores.
The Organised Nest http://theorganisednest.com/

 THE INGREDIENTS

These ingredients are cheap, cheap, cheap!  After some trial and error I found that the Wooloworths Homebrand ingredients work just as well and are literally half the price.   BUY the Homebrand Ingredients from Woolworths and this recipe costs you less than $2!!! I mistakenly bought the branded items and it cost me about $6 which still isn’t too bad! Win Win!

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PERSONALISING

Nothing says thoughtful like a personalised gift.  We stamped each classmates name on the ornament using a Wiltshire “Cookie Stamp” Kit from Big W.  

Wiltshire - Sweet Messages Cookie Kit - From Big W

Wiltshire – Sweet Messages Cookie Kit – From Big W

Last year this Kit was found in Big W  in the Cooking/Kitchen Utensil aisles, it retails for about $18.

 

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The kit contained some predesigned messages (Thank You, I Love You etc) and then a whole heap of individual letters for you to design your own messages. This is seriously one of my favourite purchases and I have already used it over and over again!

LONGEVITY

The ornaments once dry are ready to go but personally I like to lacquer the finished product. For longevity and to hopefully make them look even better! You can find a simple spray on lacquer at Masters/Bunnings/Spotlight.

PACKAGING


Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.49.12 PMI usually buy the bulk lots of resealable clear bags from the dollar stores but then I stumbled across these beauties.  In the Party aisle of Woolworths and they are the PERFECT fit. 

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I wrote a little poem and turned it into a bag topper just using some cardboard. 

DELIVERY
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Now they are ready to deliver!  Made easier if you have an extra cute delivery elf like this one! Oh I hope this Christmas dress still fits her this year.

There you have it.  A cheap, easy, thoughtful gift for any occasion really but especially nice to spread some joy this Christmas. 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding – The new “Normal”

This is a Sponsored Post brought to you in conjunction with “Medela” Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.33.17 AM

There he was.  My first born child.  A whopping 9lb son.  I had clearly defined expectations on what becoming a mother would like.  I pictured my birth.  Natural with no complications and drugs only as a last resort. I imagined what having a newborn child would be like.  I wouldn’t sleep a lot.  I would breastfeed.  I would gaze down at our newborn son as he happily nuzzled into me.

Oh boy within the first 24 hours all my expectiaitons had been thrown out the window.  After a complicated labour, there were no time for drugs as I was rushed in for an emergency C-Section.

My first days of motherhood were spent in pain, struggling to walk and shower, depressed at the loss of my ideal birth.  I appeared confident as I approached breastfeeding.  My baby seemed to be taking to it until…..the advice began. [Read more…]

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Family Finance System Update

This picture was taken a long time ago (2012!) and although the space has changed the system has remained the same! (We have moved mail and finances into the study)

“Real organising is not just about sorting and storage.

To keep things organised, you need to establish a SYSTEM.”

Setting up systems in your home is like setting up routines or new habits. After a few months of sticking to them, you wonder what you ever did before!

So here is our Family Finance System

1. Mail In. This can be either the paper variety or most often electronically. As soon as the bill comes in it is opened. NO MAIL REMAINS UNOPENED FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. Yes sometimes you dread opening bills. But delayed bill paying adds to paper clutter, increases the chance you will misplace it, pay it late and have to pay more in late payment fees. Collecting and opening the mail is a shared task and part of our everyday routine. As we enter the house, after the school pick up, Master O collects the mail. He loves this job! Whilst the kids are having afternoon tea, I go through the mail (and all the notes in the school bag!) [Read more…]

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The Family Finance Folder Update

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share with you how we manage our family finances.

  • Our Family Finance Folder
  • Our Family Finance System
  • Doing your Fiancnial Homework and
  • Using iCal to manage our bills.

Being on one income over the last two years, it has been more important than ever, that we manage our money carefully. Once a year, usually just after tax time, I re evaluate all of our finances.  This job is made so much easier as we have all of our financial details in the one spot.  Here is a peak inside our Family Finance folder.

 

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The Family Finance Folder [Read more…]

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The School File It Folder 2

As part of our “School Station” set up we not only try to contain the constant stream of school paraphenalia but paper too!

As a teacher I was well aware about how much paper gets sent every day (and also aware of how many actually never make it into the hands of parents!) So before Master O even started school I got to work on a school File It Folder.

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This will be a place to organise and store EVERY bit of important paper for the school year.

 

Step 1. Gather Your Supplies

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I found these cute coloured “Marbig – Vivid” folders at Big W!
You will need

  • A4 Ring Binder (one with an insertable cover and spine works best for decorating! )
  • Extra wide Tabbed Dividers
  • Plastic Pockets
  • Scrapbook Paper (Optional)
  • Labelmaker (Optional)

Step 2. Create a Cover

School File It Folder

You will be looking at this folder a LOT, so why not make it pretty! Little Mis A chose a cute sheet of Scrapbooking Paper from Spotlight. 12 x 12 Scrapbooking paper makes the perfect cover as it the perfect size!

Cut about 3 cm’s off one side to create the front cover and use the offcut for the spine! Add the date and your child’s name and your ready to go!

Step 3. Create Dividers

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The dividers are whats make this folder functional. Extra Wide tabbed dividers work the best as you can still view the tabs when the folder is closed making access easy. Although we have had a school folder before the same sections didnt really apply to Kindy. Some ideas are

  • Calendars and Rosters
  • Class Notes
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Lists (Uniform/Books etc)
  • Newsletters
  • Fees
  • Receipts
  • Certificates/Awards
  • Photos
  • Reports
  • Artwork
  • Special Days (Excursions/Celebrations)

If you are creating a folder for school you might also want to add sections for;

  • Tuckshop
  • Excursions/Camps
  • Specialist Lessons

Simply use a labelmaker (or your neatest handwriting!) to create labels for each divider tabs.

Step 4. Fill!

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I use post it notes to help categorise the papers I already have. Then simply amke a divider for each category!
Time to say goodbye to the random paper piles! Firstly fill each category with plenty of plastic pockets, you dont want to be searching for more half way through the year. Now categorise your papers and start adding!

Step 5. Extras.

I also add a large clear plastic envelope with velcro closure into the front. I keep all of the kids name labels inside it! I am also on the hunt for some specific “certificate” plastic pockets!

End Of The Year.

At the end of the year, I go through the folder and cull whatever we no longer need and add reports and any other end of year extras to create a School Memory Folder. It is so nice to be able to grab a folder and look through everything your child has accomplished and experienced during the school year! I have even thought about creating a Project Life school album with all the folders contents!

Be warned having a folder doesnt ensure you will always be on top of the paper pile! You need a system!

THE SYSTEM

A folder doesn’t fill its self. You need an effective system in place for dealing with the paper.

READ. Check for notes DAILY. Check bags, lunchboxes, communication books and if you can the school website.
WRITE. Write down ALL DATES immediately. We write them on our family calendar and in my Planner. Be sure to write in your diary

a) when the note needs returning AND

b) when the event is taking place.
ACT. What do you need to with this information?

  • Does it need returning? If it does, fill it out and put it back in their school bag immediately!
  • Do you need it for future reference? File it away in your “SCHOOL FILE IT FOLDER”
  • Do you need to tell anybody else about the event?
  • Organise different pick up arrangements or a day off work?

And now you are ORGANISED!

You have a storage place and a system to help you manage the school paper clutter!

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My Planner- Pages – DIY FISH Inserts

My Planner With DIY FIsh

My search for a new planner was prompted by my need to better manage my time. For the last 3 years I had been using the week on 2 pages format of the Erin Condren Life Planner. It worked well to keep track of appointments, but I needed a more indepth system that could not only track multiple areas of my life but where I could manage my time on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis.

The beauty of customising your own planner, is that there are a smorgasbord of planner pages available. You can buy pre printed inserts for discbound planners but I was more interested in creating my own “hybrid” planner at home, using downloadable pages and my home printer. Etsy and Pinterest have a massive assortment of planner pages and templates for everything from meal planning to cleaning schedules. Most are dirt cheap and sometimes even free! Using this method, you can create your own personalised planner, customised to meet your family’s and your lifes needs.

Whilst on the hunt, I stumbled upon the brand DIY Fish. DIY Fish is a store on Etsy that offers a new planner page system, unlike anything I have seen before. THe “Packs” Consist of Monthly, Weekly and Daily pages. The range is MASSIVE and you will literally get lost in her store trying to work out which pack you like the best. I strongly suggest you go in with a clear idea in mind of what you need in a planner page.

What I need/want in a planner page

A Monthly Calendar

An overview calendar of the month ahead to record birthdays, swimming/ballet/soccer/tennis lessons, kindy days etc.

A Weekly Overview (peek at my week)

This is what my Erin Condren offered me I wanted something similar but in a different format. It has to have space for me to plan out blog posts, meals, Tot school, study and of course appointments.

A Daily Page (or two!)

This was afterall the whole reason I was looking for a new planner. I wanted somewhere to schedule my day, write out to do lists, plan in more detail the days activities, write reminders and basically brain dump (more on that later!)

With all this in mind I settled on

Version 2.1 – With a Day On 2 Pages (DO2P) and also bought a 3 Year Chart (for my yearly planning)

The system an be bought in 3 month packs (which is what I did) so after the 3 months if it’s not for you, your not stuck with a whole years worth of planner pages.

Words simply can’t describe how this system works so beautifully, so I have taken you for a walk through my planner in this YouTube clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxm1CFzAd10

Just after this video I bought the next 3 month pack (Jul-Sept) I bought the same version that has a new slightly different name

Version 2.2 Day on 2 Pages

It has very minimal changes. Here is a quick closer look at the pages.

Yearly

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Monthly

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Weekly

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Daily – Day On 2 Pages

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It also comes with “Charts” to help track other areas of your life. On this Monthly Chart (the Monthly Calendar is on the back) I am tracking my household cleaning zones. It also comes with weekly charts as well.

Monthly Chart

IMG_2984

You simply purchase the planner on Etsy, it is emailed to you within 48 hours (as a downloadable file) and you print, cut and punch at home. If the whole print, cut, punch bit is overwhelming for you, I know a few kind people who will do it for you for a small fee!

Over the next few weeks I will show you a closer look at each section of my planner (starting with the Daily Pages) and how I am using it!

So what do you think, would this work for you?

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