Organizing My 2016 – Back to the Future with a Paper Planner

I’m an early adapter of technology. I love gadgets (see Apple watch on wrist). So, I’ve tried quite a few programs to do my to-do lists, brainstorming notes, etc., as well as calendaring and address book. It has worked well for addresses and calendar (which would be perfect if Exchange would play more nicely with iCal). But, for to-do lists, note making, and general planning, I haven’t come up with something that really works. What I want, ideally, is to keep track of what I need to do, but reduce the amount of needless fretting and spinning in circles. Additionally, taking notes on my iPad works well for group meetings, but for one on one meetings or small groups, I feel like a bit of a jerk doing that.

So, I’m moving back to paper for some things. I got a personal Filofax for Christmas and set about organizing it. I think I have it just about where I want it now. I’m sharing with you here to get any ideas you have on how you organize to get things done!


The Filofax that the Mr. got me is this red Saffiano beauty. And I’ve set up an adorable dashboard page (the post-it is just over my name) to go along with the pretty cover. Since the dashboard is laminated, I’m using the back of it to hold post-it notes and flags.

IMG_2176Behind the front dashboard is a section to capture random jottings that I need to file away later. I also have been sticking post-its that I write when I’m away from my planner to this section until I get them settled.

And then is the section that will likely be the heart of the planner for me, the to-do area. This section planner page (and all of the others, as well as the bookmarks) is laminated for sturdiness. I’m using some principles of the Getting Things Done strategy currently and have categorized the to-do lists by where I need to be to do them (@home,@work, @phone, @computer, @car). This section also includes a list of major projects going on, and a list of things I need to delegate to others.

I’m still working out in my mind the very best way to organize the to-do lists, and even simple things like whether I want to cross things out or check them off. I saw a system today that used 4 boxes for urgent/important, urgent/unimportant, non-urgent/important, non-urgent/unimportant (or something like that). That also seemed sensible to me, because my long lists don’t have much in the way of prioritization going on.

3865E74F-1D09-4B50-98C1-6BDAD962457DFollowing that part of the planner, I have an area devoted to lists of things that are not exactly to-dos, but still take a list form. I am a list maker from way back, so this section will also get quite a bit of use. Because I’ve been searching for the right way to take lists with the phone or the computer, my list making has been a little bit random of late, so hopefully this will help me get back into using them effectively.

To make it easer to find things within it, I have added bookmarks for meeting plans (items I want to include on agendas), waiting for (things I delegated and now am awaiting), someday maybe (things I would like to do eventually, but they haven’t really made it to the to-do list level yet, and shopping (no picture, but it’s a red-checked tablecloth pattern). Within each of these areas, I am expecting there to be multiple pages related to different contexts (like work, home, etc.), but I am planning on letting that evolve on its own as time passes.

Then comes a short section for notes. I suspect that I will end up taking most of my notes in a larger Daytimer that just has notepaper in it currently. It’s a bigger area for note taking and provides more room for storage. I have tried moleskins for note-taking in the past, but the binding tends to get in my way.

Then there is a section for jotting down media that I want to read/watch/listen to, purchase, or review. And the last section that I added is for records related to whatever. This might be receipts, expenditures, etc. I’m not quite sure yet.


The calendar pages follow. I’m mostly using them to jot notes of things that I want to do on specific days that I don’t have in the electronic calendar, or things I need to add to the electronic calendar. These pages will likely evolve and may end up as meal planning pages or an exercise diary. I’m just not sure. To reduce space needs, I just have the first 3 months of the year in the calendar for now.

I then have six dividers for the six most important or complex projects that I have going on at any one time. They are listed and numbered in the To Do section, but I have the breakdowns of what each project includes and additional notes in these sections.

IMG_2184 IMG_2185At the back, I’ve added a cute folder page and a binder clip to hold an additional pencil, since the planner only has one pen loop. While the folder page is cute, it’s a bit of a space suck because it is card stock on top of manila folder paper, so that may have to come out.

And then there is a notepad of paper. That was there to start with, so it remains for now.

So, that’s what it looks like right now. I would imagine that it will change over time, as I find out what parts are working well for me and what parts aren’t. At any rate, it was fun craft work to organize it and make the pretty pages!

What is your organizing method and how is it working for you?

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

FullSizeRenderIt’s just a few days after Christmas and we are finally running out of leftovers. Tonight we had a guest for dinner, so it was time to do something more than recycle (though I did make a big pan of a non-vegan item yesterday). So, with the knowledge that we had recently had Chinese, “American,” and Italian, but that a guest seemed to call for a little more than nachos, I decided on enchilada casseroles.

As we have a mixed diet family, we actually made two of these. One contained dairy cheese and other non-vegan things. But, the vegan version contained:


EnchiladaPie2Corn tortillas
2 cans black beans
1 zucchini – diced finely
1 onion – diced finely
2 cans Rotel tomatoes – pulsed in blender
1 tsp chili powder
1 T cumin
Sea salt
1 pack Daiya shreds


Preheat oven to 375*

Mix black beans, zucchini, onion, chili powder, cumin, and sea salt. Set aside.

Spray the bottom of a casserole dish with non-stick spray. I used a 13X9 pan. Place 1 layer of tortillas in the pan, overlapping to cover the bottom. This took 6 per layer in my pan. Spoon in the bean and veggie filling in a layer to cover the tortillas. Add a healthy sprinkle of Daiya. *Apply another layer of tortillas. Spoon on a thin layer of Rotel sauce. Add another layer of beans and veggie and then soy cheese. Repeat process from * one time. For the final layer, add tortillas, tomato sauce, and Daiya only.

Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover the casserole. Cook for 30-40 minutes with foil on.

Remove foil and continue cooking until heated through and cheese is basically melted (as melted as Daiya gets) and then remove from oven.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, and avocado slices.

Shopping for Vegan Yogis on Your List

So, you are shopping for a vegan, or a yogi, or a vegan yogi, and you are at a loss. I’ve got a few ideas that might help. I tried to list things from various price ranges, and only listed things that I personally own. I’ll attempt to pop back in and add more as I think of them. Items that were sent to me to review are so noted, but most of these were purchased at list price.

Yogi Surprise Boxes

IMG_3987aIMG_4017a IMG_3989a

This company sent me their surprise boxes to review and I was impressed with how adorable they are, and what good selections were included. There are two options for the box. One contains more beauty, food, wellness, and yoga items. The other is jewelry. These would be great for someone you had no idea how to pick a gift for, but would likely not be appropriate for the male yogi in your life, as some of the beauty items seem to be slanted to women.

Right now, the Yogi Surprise boxes are 10% off. This makes the lifestyle box $39.46 and the jewelry box $22.49. The plan is monthly, but you can cancel at any time.

My Best Friend is a Bag Lindsey Bag

IMG_4005a IMG_4006a IMG_4011aIn the fall, I realized that I needed a black briefcase that was vegan friendly, laptop compatible, and looked professional. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Of course, I also wanted it to be pretty. After quite a bit of searching, I came across a company called My Best Friend is a Bag. While they are located in Australia, one of their bags, in two colors, is available on So, I thought I should try it out!

The Lindsay bag is very pretty, easy to use, spacious enough for every day, and feels like a bag that will last. I took the tassel off of mine because the cats kept pulling over the bag and it was a little big for me. Upon first use, the side magnets didn’t want to hold things closed with the pockets full, but as I’ve used it more and the magnet flaps have loosened, it’s all good!

Not only is the bag pretty and functional, the customer service of MBFiaB is wonderful! I contacted the company because I lost the snap on key fob on my first business trip after receipt (I turned it in with my rental car, DOH!), to see if I could purchase another one. While they didn’t have any to sell, the owner assured me that, when they had a bag return, she would have the key fob sent to me for now charge. Sure enough, she did, and I got it just this week. Very nice! I’m thinking I may also need the red one!

Borsa Bella Bags

I have told you about Borsa Bella Bags before, but let me do it again! This company makes the most adorable fabric bags of all sizes and types. I have a particular weakness for the phone bags and the Catch All bags. If you look at the image taken above of the Lindsay bag, you will see a long zip phone bag and a catch all bag tucked inside!

At the moment, there is even a special going on for the Catch All bags. You need to get some for you and your friends and family for makeup, gadgets, and general stuff!






Crazy Rumors Lip Balm

It can be a little challenging to find vegan lip balm, but Crazy Rumors has you covered, even for funky flavors and tinted balms. They have some fun flavors/scents for the holidays, as well.

Thug Kitchen

Like food? Like the earth? Like your health? Like funny? Not afraid of a little (or a bunch of) profanity? This might be the cookbook for you!

Thug Kitchen is one of the few cookbooks that have ever made me laugh out loud, and I spent an afternoon following my spouse around the house reading him selections. He was thrilled, or… something. The recipes aren’t all super simple, but they don’t involve particularly weird ingredients and those I have tried have been quite good.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

No,  you can’t buy the farm as a gift, but you could give a donation in someone’s name and help support the really important work that gets done at the farm. From now until the end of the month, all donations are matched dollar for dollar! Just head over to the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary website and make a donation. You should also look at all the pictures, while you are there, because pigs!

Queen Helene Bath Salts

Who doesn’t like a nice relaxing bath? Some lavender and patchouli bath salts add to the relaxation potential. These Queen Helene salts are vegan friendly and inexpensive. They would make a very nice little stocking stuffer gift!

Delicious Peanut Butters!!!

Peanut Butter & Company has some really delicious peanut butters that any peanut loving vegan would snarf right up. The Dark Chocolate Dreams version is so crazy good that I may (did) eat it with a spoon right out of the container. Oh my! You can check out all of their options at Not all of the version are totally vegan (some have honey), so do read ingredients before purchasing.