Month: September 2017

Plan With Me: Foxy Fix #5 Autumn Rose

Plan With Me: Foxy Fix #5 Autumn Rose

So here’s the thing: I might have changed things up again. But in my defense, I didn’t know how perfect a single-strap would be until I got my hot little hands on one! And my Foxy Fix no. 5 Autumn Rose delivered on Friday. And it was love at first sight!

Before we go any further let’s just look at her because OMG – I’m usually not in to bright colorful leathers, I like that rustic look, but as soon as I saw these listed for presale I knew I had to have one (Super Shoutout to Best Husband Ever for agreeing with me and not fighting my desire to splurge even though I had said I wouldn’t be buying anymore notebook covers – you da real MVP)!

Ok but come on…
COME ON!!!!! How can one thing be so perfect?

These are my first photos of her unboxing – I just love the way Foxy packages their items, there’s always so much care that goes into each one! I got a Boss Babe Kate leather sample – love Boss Babe so much. Fun Fact: my first experience with Boss Babe leather was through a Foxy gift I had bought for a sweet friend of mine’s birthday and I also fell in love with that leather. I had a no. 8 and a no. 4 Boss Babe at one point in time but then that B6 life swept me up and I haven’t looked back.

ANYWAY. Back to the fun stuff. Single life. As you may or may not know, depending on how long you’ve been lurking around here, I’ve made some quite significant changes in my planning over the past six months. I started out in a no. 8 single-strap that I got in the mystery sale – I didn’t love singles in that size, likely because the inserts were so big it made it all so heavy and also at that point in time I was still trying to carry around a bunch of crap I don’t necessarily need (more on that later). So after carrying the no. 8 single for a about a month, I ordered a no. 8 Sugar Cookie 6-strap wide, thinking I’ll be able to put my LT1917 in it along with some other inserts (that’s the logical fallacy most BJ-Turned-TN folks make, I think).

WRONG. The wide was too wide. I don’t stuff my TNs like some other people do, so it just looked all sad and empty. Ordered a no. 8 Boss Babe Kate compact and listed the Sugar Cookie for sale. I had the Sugar Cookie embossed with my monogram (I know – rookie mistake) so it took a while to sell, but sell it finally did. Or trade, anyway – someone offered me the no. 5 Bay Blackout traded for the no. 8 Sugar Cookie and I jumped all over that. I had been eyeballing the no. 5 size for a while but couldn’t justify switching sizes and having to buy all-new inserts again. My sweet trade partner hooked me up with a bunch of inserts, though, and I’ve never looked back! B6 is my size till I die. So I listed the no. 8 Boss Babe Kate for sale also, ended up trading that for a Chic Sparrow Outlander Verona, and pre-ordered the no. 5 Autumn Rose when it came available.

The problem with the compacts (and I didn’t realize this was a problem until I got the single) is that they are still a little large, so I found myself carrying inserts around every day that I don’t use every day, just for the sake of being able to have a “stuffed” compact. The arrival of Autumn Rose changed all of that.

SO – here we go! My New and Improved Planning System, featuring Only the Essentials, and None of That Extra Crap!

Insert 1 is now, and always has been, my monthly insert. This one is from PristinePaperie, when she used to offer printed inserts (now they are only available as printables – which sucks because I can’t ever figure those things out!). I especially love these inserts, too, because they have space for little reflections on the month, which will be cool to look back on later, and because they are undated.

Insert 2 is now, and always has been, my weekly insert. These are my lifeline for future planning when my MBA classes are in session. This is where I keep track of all my assignments. Bonus Feature: also undated, so no pressure to use one every week if I don’t need one every week. Double Bonus Feature: that little section of dot-grid, which allows me to keep a mini weekly habit tracker. Triple Bonus Feature: THIS IS AVAILABLE AS A PRINTED INSERT FROM LightsPlannerAction OMG!!!!!

Dashboards – I’ve never purchased one on my own, nor would I have ever thought I needed one, but they are so cute and totally functional in a single. My trade partner included these in with the Bay Blackout. The sparkle one she had done, but I recently purchased some scrapbook paper and I did the pink and black one. Love these little guys. So cute. Can’t believe I scorned dashboards in the past.

See? Dashboard on the left, featuring: a picture of my tiny little Dot Nugget, some tips on communicating effectively from one of my MBA classes, and my transaction register (from this blog post).

Here’s another fun thing I did recently: used the scrapbook paper I mentioned earlier to cover my MujiUSA B6 inserts. They just come with a grey cardboard cover that is NOT super attractive. I originally saw this done over by FreeSoulPlanner on instagram and knew I just had to do it, too!

Inside the MujiUSA is where I still keep my daily rapid-logging – no changes made there. Rapid-logging will probably be my daily planning style until I die. 13 months and going strong.

That last insert is a square-grid insert from AORJournals and is just for notes and other miscellanea. The back of that dashboard has a picture of Gidgimon, the Gidgital Monster, and one of my favorite quotes, and also houses my tiny ruler.

So what I’ve done is gotten rid of the book reviews insert – I don’t need to carry that around on the daily, like come on. Especially not when I’m in school still and all my reading is in textbooks. I’ve also completely kicked the idea of a fitness tracker insert, which I had previously for like two weeks – not my style, don’t use it, out it goes. I’ve finally streamlined everything so that I’m only carrying the essentials every day, and it just so happens that a single-strap is the perfect medium in which to carry the essentials.

I especially love them because the four inserts go flush to the edge of the TN cover, so I don’t get any of that awful bending at the end from the rubber band, and because four inserts is enough to make a single-strap look sufficiently stuffed. I already sold the Outlander Verona and placed an order with those funds for a no. 5 Santa Fe single. I may end up listing the Blackout, also, to get maybe a Rowena or a Wanderlust Butterscotch single. Will update on that later.

If you are a minimalist planner like me and were on the fence about whether or not singles are right for you, let me take this opportunity to push you over the edge.

ALSO, Foxy Fix is now taking pre-orders for their second round of Autumn Rose – you can get one for yourself here!

Shutterbug Things

Shutterbug Things

This past weekend, I went to Oak Ridge and Knoxville, TN with David and snapped some really neat photos of some flowers and plants. Turns out the zoom and focus on my Sony a6000 are pretty impressive!

How to Plan for Planning When You Just Don’t Have Time to Plan

How to Plan for Planning When You Just Don’t Have Time to Plan

If it seems like content has dropped off over the past few weeks, it’s because, well, it has. In addition to my regular 45-50 hours-a-week career and my fascinating and rewarding role as wifey and #dogmom, I’m also enrolled in grad school three-quarters time (more than part time, less than full time – I know) and so my hours are jam-pack-crammed full of nothing but work-dogs-exercise-school-homework-textbooks-sleep-work-dogs-repeat.

What I’ve seen a lot on-the-line is that some people tend to abandon their bullet journals and organization systems when life gets too busy. All I can ever say to that is, “You do what?!”

These systems we pour so much time and effort into are meant to make us more productive. We should be leaning on them harder than ever when life gets busy and we fall into a time crunch. If the first thing to go when things get hard is your organizational system, I can probably almost guarantee you that it’s definitely going to get even harder after that.

SO. With that being said, here’s my super-top-secret secret for how I keep up with my organizational system when life has me scheduled to do 25 hours worth of work in a 24-hour day: make the system work for you!

This is why I love the concept of a traveler’s notebook system. I literally have neither the time nor the inclination to spend any of my precious minutes drawing out a weekly or a monthly spread in my bullet journal – time is money, after all! So in my TN, I have a handy-dandy weekly insert where I can keep track of all my assignments that are due in my classes, plus schedule things that are going on in my work-and-personal life all in one place. The beauty of an undated weekly insert is that when classes let out and I don’t necessarily have a need for a weekly planning page, I just don’t have to use it – no tears shed over the waste of perfectly good paper, because it’s all undated!

Click the photo to go to LightsPlannerAction’s Etsy listing for this insert!

As you can see, I’ve got each day broken down into three sections: MBA 777, MBA 759, and Home/Work. The To Do section has miscellaneous non-date-specific tasks that need to get done at some point during the week. The Notes section often goes under-or-unutilizied because hey rapid-logging-dailies. And I’ve switched from a huge monthly habit tracker that requires more time than I’m willing to invest to a teeny tiny weekly tracker that is literally just two lines. Again: MAKE THE SYSTEM WORK FOR YOU.

Muji Grid Notebooks – click the photo to be taken to an Amazon listing for five of these babies!

The heart and soul of my bullet journal system is still my rapid-logging daily pages. This is as simple as simple can get. It takes me all of five minutes to get my plan together each day, and I keep this little baby open on my desk at work all day long. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Enter into each day with a plan. Etc. Etc. Etc. There’s no bullet journal cardinal rule that says your daily tasks have to be written inside a perfectly-to-scale representation of the Great Pyramids of Giza. You don’t have to have the most perfect handletteringmanship (whoops – my bullet journal for curmudgeons is showing) to be organized and proud of your system. You don’t have to have a theme for each new day of the week. Find a way to make it work and stick with it! This has been my bullet journal daily style for several months now. I’ve made absolutely no changes to the layout of my dailies. Why? Because it works! In the immortal words of democratic businessman and politician Bert Lance, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

All I’m really trying to say is this: if your bullet journal is the first thing to go when life gets hectic, you’re probably not utilizing the tool as it’s meant to be used. Try a new format. Check out Minimalist Bullet Journals, immediately get discouraged because of how much time and effort they invest into making their minimalist bullet journals look perfect, and then come back here and look at my haphazard and undecorative dailies to make yourself feel better. Don’t fall prey to the Pinterest Bullet Journals or the other people who have literally made bullet journaling into a full time job. It doesn’t have to be that way! Hack the system and make it productive for you!

South River Gun Club USPSA Match – 3 September 2017

South River Gun Club USPSA Match – 3 September 2017

I went with David a few weeks ago to a USPSA match and managed to snap some cool photos!

Two casings in the air – cool!
Stage run-through
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Meat Pony
Probably my favorite picture ever
Camera did a good job with the action shots!
All that smoke!
Sheathed in a blanket of freedom
More casings in the air
Maybe my favorite photo from the day – check out that bullet flying out of the gun!

More stage run-throughs
Ghost Holster

So official all he needs is a whistle

CZ Shadow 2

Kind of into the action shots

Last stage of the day!

Analogue Expense Tracking

Analogue Expense Tracking

I tend to get a little obsessive about our bank account. I track every single dollar that enters into or goes out of our account. I want to know where, how, and when we are spending our money. I want to keep accurate track of when our bills are due, what has been paid, what hasn’t been paid, what has cleared the account, what hasn’t cleared the account, what never showed up, etc. etc. Some months (like this month) I have more bills to pay than others, because a bunch of annual renewals came due and I had some medical bills come in, so I need to make sure all of those get paid as well. The only efficient way I have found to be able to do this is in an analogue  format.

Hello, handy dandy transaction register!

Now, I have online banking and I utilize that tool a lot. I know that the bank will keep track of all my bills and transactions and everything like that also, but my brain isn’t optimized to function digitally. If I’m not writing it down every day, if I’m not paying meticulous detail, it’s just not going to stick in my head. Plus, while my bank does a pretty good job of trying to categorize items correctly, sometimes it just doesn’t. I hate having to go back and recategorize or label transactions that didn’t get categorized correctly (or didn’t get categorized at all!). Analogue transaction tracking also allows me to keep an incredibly accurate visual record of when my bills are paid and when they cleared the account. This has trained me to think not in terms of what the account balance is, but rather what we have left to spend – just because there is money in the account doesn’t mean it’s there to be spent!

I start out writing down all the bills I have to pay and the amounts that are due (not shown here – nope! sorry!). Some of these are actually bills (like the mortgage, the power bills, car payments, etc.) and some are just monthly expenses (dog food, gym memberships, etc.). If it’s money I know will be used for someone or something else, it goes here. I use my bank’s bill pay feature to pay 99% of our bills, so the date that gets written down in the DATE line is the one on which the money is set to be sent, not the due date. (All our bills get paid ahead of time so the actual due date is often later on in the month. I don’t bother to keep track of that because by the time they actually come due, they’ve already been paid. If your schedule is to pay your bills as they come due, you’ll definitely want to write that date here instead.) If I have to write a physical check, the date I use is the date on which the check is sent out, and I make sure to notate the check number as well. As the money clears out of our account, I highlight the row – that way I know the money has been received by the person or institution to whom it is owed, and I can take it off my radar.

This is especially useful if you are writing a lot of physical checks. As we all know, checks have to be mailed, which can take a while, and then they take an additional 3-5 business days to clear out of your account once they’ve been received. It’s so easy for us to write a check and assume the bill has been paid, but it’s all too likely (and happens all too often) that the check perhaps was never received by the person for whom it was meant. As someone who works at a lending institution, let me assure you of one thing: your biller does not care when or whether you sent them a check, they only care if they have received it. This system is an easy way for me to keep track of my physical checks to ensure that they are received and cashed in a timely manner. If it’s been longer than a week and I am still showing the check pending, I’ll go ahead and call the biller just to ensure they didn’t receive the check and apply it to the wrong account. They’ll often notate the check number and will usually call me back to inform me when the check has been received.

Flipping over to the next page shows our transfer register. I’ve got a series of automatic transfers set up for various things, and this is an easy way for me to make sure the money is being sent where it’s meant to go. The same system as above applies, wherein the date the money is meant to transfer is notated and the row is highlighted once the funds have cleared the account. The far left column is just a notation of Funds Transfer (FT) to other bank accounts vs Automatic Deposit (AD) into an investment account.

This is where the real action happens, though. This is where I notate any and all transactions into and out of our bank account outside of regularly scheduled funds transfers or payments of bills. These transactions are color-coded according to their category (household/pets, groceries, food/alcohol, medical/personal, and miscellaneous/hobbies) and are logged on a daily basis. Part of my morning routine is reviewing our bank account and notating transactions from the previous day. This allows me to sit down at the end of the month and say, “Hey, we’ve spent too much money going out to eat this month. We need to cut back on that.” Or, “Hey, we’ve dumped a lot of money into our personal hobbies lately, let’s try investing that money instead.” It’s an easy way to keep us accountable to where our money goes.

Transactions registers can be picked up free-of-cost at just about any banking institution in the country. They are the exact same size as a checkbook, and I keep mine tucked in the back pocket of my no. 5 Foxy Fix. I’ve washi-taped my color code onto the front cover, and it just folds inside into the book. Not featured here is the deposit log – this is found on the very first page of the transaction register, and is where I notate all deposits of money into our account.

I’ve been keeping an analogue expense tracking system for well over a year now, and it has been a game changer for how I view our funds. Obviously, it’s totally modifiable to your particular situation, but this is what I’ve found works for me!

Have you got any particular system for keeping track of your expenses? Let me know in the comments!

Here’s a picture of Mama Pearl – just for fun!