The Final Move

I’m erasing this blog 2 months from now. After much thought and trials, I’ve switched back over to blogspot.

Come see our new and final home at All About The Stepps



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Step 4 of Organization: The Ultimate Planner part 1

3 ring binder (opened)

Image via Wikipedia

The particular step took me a couple of months to put together.  It sounds like A LOT!  But you take things one at a time.  Just add one or two templates at a time and use them for a couple of weeks before adding another.  Once the routines are established, you’ll be referring to the planner less and less.  Remember, this is for people who have NO routines or organization. It takes work to get there.  🙂

Step #4:  Putting together and using a planner

This step has taken a few trial and error practices to get to the halfway point where I now feel comfortable sharing what I’ve compiled.  Basically, its a planner that has EVERYTHING I need all contained in a neat little binder.  It stays in my room in a specific spot unless I’ve packed it in my backpack/purse to refer to while I’m out.  I used a combination of the Flylady’s tips (she calls it a control journal) and a professional day-planner I found online that is specifically for people with ADHD but costs over $70 so there’s no way I’m going to get it.  Here’s what you’ll need to start.  What templates you use is up to you but I’ve shared the links of the ones I found and are using as well as uploaded the ones I made myself.  Just click on the links!

A binder (I’m using one of Xan’s unused 1 inch black ones)
Page dividers.  The amount varies to how many categories you want.
Non-glare sheet protectors (Somewhere under 10)
ABC dividers for the address book
Dry Erase Marker and a pen
Different templates to do your planning.

Then you assemble it all together and, most importantly, USE IT!  Some of the pages you’ll want to put in a sheet protector so that you can wipe it clean each night.  For example, some of the chore lists will be most effective if you can mark it off.  It helps save paper so you don’t need a new page each week/month/or day if you put the day planner in one.

First category is my To-Do list.  In the empty vertical slots, I write in phone calls, errands, e-mail correspondence, cleaning, tasks, misc.  When I write an item for me to do, I put an x under which category it falls under.  Grocery shopping is categorized into errands.  Calling my mom back is in phone calls.  This system helps me to group like activities together.  ie, I find myself at the laundromat with nothing to do but wait for my clothes to dry.  Since I have my phone on me and lots of time, I can go down the list of phone calls I’ve been meaning to make.

I also printed out a couple extra sheets I use specifically for project to-do’s.  You know, those things that are extra, making a quilt or whatever.  I keep these next to my goal limit sheet.  I made this sheet to remind me not to juggle to much.  I got this idea from a recent talk I gave in church based off of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf‘s recent conference talk, Of Things That Matter Most.

Next category is my daily planner and monthly planner.  Quick side note.  I have 2 huge whiteboard calendars in my room to let me see the current and next month.  This is where I write my work schedule, appointments, trips, ect.  I use this in place of having a week by week planner.  My daily planner – which I only use on days I feel like I need it, otherwise I just stick with my routines, chores, and wall calendar – I found here from  The power of Google! You can find just about any kind of planner that your looking for.  Don’t settle.  Find one that works.  Here is my Monthly Template and my Yearly Template that I’ve also found.  I mostly use the monthly calendar in my binder to write stuff in when I’m out and about, then transfer it to the wall.  Not really sure if I’m going to keep it yet.

The morning and bed routines I’ve listed in a way where I can track my progress over the course of a month.  I specifically have done this because I’m TERRIBLE at sticking to routines and habits.  I’m hoping through this method, I can identify patterns and improve.  This sheet will eventually be in a sheet protector, but for now, since I’m tracking the progress, I’m keeping them on file over the course of a few months.

Here is the day by day assignment where it follows the pattern that our grandmothers did where each day of the week was assigned a household task: Monday was a wash day.  Tuesday was ironing.  And so forth.  Only, with more modern applications.  This method helps each day have a focus and ensures certain tasks get done when needed.

Then, to ensure there’s never a need for spring cleaning, we have our zone assignments.  I have 5 sheets down at the bottom to mark the 5 different zones.  Most months are spread out over 5 weeks.  Zones 1 and 5 will often overlap and need to be done in the same week so I picked the 2 smallest zones.  The first week of the month we do zone 1.  Week 2 is zone 2 […] week 5 is zone 5.  The first 2-4 months I think are going to be the hardest because I have to start from a fairly messy start.  It’s not too cluttered, just a lot of places that haven’t been cleaned for some time.  But, if these zones are done consistently, they are quickly done and one can keep their house very clean with minimal work.  That’s the theory…  This will be my first week to try it since I just put together this page today.  Since it is the 3rd week in December, I’ll start off with zone 3 which is bathroom, spare room, and office.

I’ll have a seasonal cleaning list in here for things like checking for expired food in fridge and pantry, rotating food storage, flipping guestroom mattress, putting up and down the A/C unit… ect.

The next few parts that I need to develop for the control journal are the emergency contact and plan page, family/friend address book, compile all my food storage lists with 72 hour kits and all that jazz so that I can actually GET the stuff to put it all together in some organized fashion, a birthday/anniversary calendar, and whatever else I want in the book.  The Flylady says some people like to have a section with their favorite quotes, pictures, or happy memories.  Maybe you’ll want a some type of money management, calorie tracker, Menu planner (I use a whiteboard in my kitchen), or some other category.  This planner is for you so make it yours.

Keep a look out in the next few months for The Control Journal part 2

Also, if you’re interested, I noticed the Flylady has a holiday control journal you can check out here.


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Our First NYC Trip

Xan and I took advantage of his reading days to take a trip up to NYC to see the King Tut exhibit.  We left Sunday and got there just after it got dark.  I wanted to see the tree at Rockefeller Park so we ventured out to see the city.  We found the Lego store.

They had a mimic display of Rockefeller Park with the tree, ice skating rink, and surrounding buildings that was cool to look at.

We found the tree and skating rink right outside of the Lego store.

Here I am with the tree.

Saint Patricks Cathedral is PHENOMENAL!

Here is an attempt to get a shot at the Chrysler Building.

And the building that beat it in height, but not appearance (in my opinion) : The Empire State Building.

And then we went back to our hotel and rested to get ready for the exhibit Monday morning.  My critique:  The NYC King Tut show was definitely worth seeing.  My love for Egyptology all began in the 5th or 6th grade when I did a report on King Tutankhamen.  My interest grew in 7th grade when we studied a brief bit on the mythology of Egypt.  Sometime after that, I wanted to be an Egyptologist and was looking up schools that had programs.  So, to be in the exhibit and to see all these artifacts face to face that I had since only read about in books, was AWESOME!  BUT, I was very disappointed at the very end of the exhibit.  I knew that King Tut was in Egypt, but I admit that I was expecting to see at least one of his coffins since one of them is being shown on all the tickets and brochures.  What did I get?  Some jewelry. Not even the death mask!  I’m sorry, but for the cost of the show (regardless of it being a fundraiser for Cairo to build a proper museum to house all this stuff) I think a golden coffin is kind of a must.  Good thing we’re planning on going to Cairo anyway, right?

One of the security guards at the front of the entrance was nice enough to take this photo for us.

Then, we had a few hours to explore before we needed to head back home.

We found the M&M Store.

And this architectural eye candy!  This is the Alwyn Court Building which is now a series of luxury apartment buildings with a Petrossian Restaurant on the ground floor.

Can you imagine carving all this???

Then we wondered up to Central Park.

Had a hot dog from a local stand.

Watched the childless playground for a while.

Got a picture on one of the many bridges.

And found a GREAT spot for even more pictures.  Here’s my handsome husband!

One of me with the skating rink.

And one of the two of us.  ❤

Many stores had FANTASTIC window displays, but Bergdorf Goodman had one of my favorites.  Of course, its hard to see with the glass glare but it was whimsical and absolutely wonderful to look at!

I was surprised by how ugly the Louis Vuitton building was.  It just looked lifeless and boring in comparison to all the beautiful surrounding buildings and window displays.

And to end the trip, we had to go see the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz, featured in the film Big with Tom Hanks.

These lovely piano dancers performed the songs chopsticks, heart and soul, carol of the bells and ended with a Mozart piece.  I had thought to try the piano out myself but when we got up there, it was just a long series of little kids and teenage girls competing for attention as they giggled and ran up and down the keys.  It’s really only awesome if you get full control of the piano, so we passed.  Maybe when we get a quarter of a million dollars, we’ll have one installed in our own house, right?

And then we drove back home.  We stopped by Wendy’s and tried out there new french fries.  They tasted wonderful to me… but then I LOVE anything potatoes, practically.  It kind of seemed like an In-and-Out fry and McDonald’s fry had a baby and Wendy’s took it over.  Xan didn’t seem all that impressed by them.

We still have  a whole list of things we want to to in NYC: Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, maybe an opera… I definitely want to hit the Lion King Broadway since its the only Broadway show Xan has said he’d go to,  go to the top of the Empire State Building… so we’ll be back again!


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The Start of the Winter CSA

Yesterday was the first day of the Winter CSA.  I excitedly, and a bit nervously, picked it up and brought it home.  Picking up this box means that I now have a hefty goal upon my shoulders: to use up and learn to cook with ALL the contents of this box.

Here’s what I found:  The first half was a bushel of parsley, a bag of turnip greens, an acorn squash, 2 baby bok choy, and a garlic bulb hiding behind the squash.

The rest of the box holds 4 leek shoots, and a variety of potatoes, carrots, onions and beets.

To help me learn how to use all of these veggies and to help track the good recipes I find, I’ll be using the ingredient page that I made once upon a time under the Real Foods Page.  For dinner last night, I used the leeks and made a chicken and leek cheese bake.  YUMMY!  I ate over half of it myself.  I’ll get the recipe up soon.  And of course, update the ingredients page eventually.  🙂  Big dreams but only so much time in a day, right?  In the mean time, I got to go to work.


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Cookie Dough… what more needs to be said?

About two months ago, I came across this magical site with a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough balls.  Now for someone like me that LOVES cookie dough but is not a hug fan of them once they’re baked… this concept made me ecstatic!  So, I made some.  Unfortunately, I never finished them (the covering in chocolate part) because they were consumed before we reached that step.  The picture on the left is from me enjoying a nice big bowl of it last Sunday.  You also can see that I skipped the whole cookie dough BALL idea this last time and just had at them…

If you like cookie dough, you’ll LOVE this recipe I got from Joy the Baker.  She has some DELICIOUS looking recipes if you want to browse her site, too!

OH!  And if you’re worried about eating raw eggs, DON’T BE!  That’s the best part!  It doesn’t use any eggs.  Apparently, one can substitue 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt, peanut butter, or applesauce for every egg the recipe calls for in most cookie recipes.  DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS???  Fridge time for cookie dough has been extended!  While dough made with raw eggs might only be good in your fridge for 2-3 days… THIS cookie dough will be good for OVER A WEEK… if it makes it that far.  🙂

I must leave you all now.  I work this morning at 8am and still need to have a good nutritious breakfast of a bagel, orange juice, and cookie dough.

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Natillas (Lemon Pudding)

I just updated this recipe.  I tried making it a couple of months ago using the exact measurements I posted and realized I was way off on the vanilla.  There was very little flavor in it.  So I’ve played around with it and have determined a much better amount.  🙂


Serves 6-8 people
Preparation Time: 5-8 minutes
Cooking Time: 5-8 minutes
Total Time: 10-16 minutes


8 egg yolks  (use the whites for scrambled eggs OR Bake a Cake from scratch!)
4 tbsp corn starch
4 cups milk
4 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp vanilla (depending on how strong of flavor you’re looking for)
5 tsp grated lemon rind
In a medium sauce pan, combine the eggs and about half the milk (no need to be precise).  In a separate bowl, add the cornstarch and the rest of the milk and whisk until thoroughly mixed.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan.  Add the sugar and vanilla then bring to a boil.  Add the lemon rind. While stirring constantly, simmer the pudding until it thickens.  It won’t thicken past a certain point which is how I know it is done.
Either serve hot or cool in a fridge.  Stays good in fridge for around a week.


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A Letter to Obama

I was reading some edition of Reader’s Digest while at the laundromat yesterday.  It was really interesting but a bit on the depressing side.  It interviewed doctors and nurses about their mistakes that they’ve made while practicing medicine.  You know, like not catching tell-tale signs of serious illnesses only to have the patient return to the hospital a day later and not make it, or other mistakes they’ve made and have to live with.  I won’t depress you with the details because that is not my point.

My soap box for the day is the common theme that most, if not all, of these doctors were expressing in their attempts to explain how it happened:  “I was feeling pressure from the hospital to get through more patients.”  or “We were running out of beds so we were trying to move patients through as quickly as possible.”  or “This happened near the end of my 36 hour shift.”

Dear President Obama,

You are working on reforming our health care system.  I agree that many changes DO need to be made, although don’t agree with many of your proposals.  Here are some suggestions.  Unfortunately, I don’t understand the system and therefore can’t give you an economical and useful plan of how to carry these out, but the following are some ideas for you to think about.

1)  The ER is getting jam packed.  Problem:  What do you do when you have a health problem that you know is not life or death but the nurse on the phone advises you to seek medical attention right away… but wait!  It’s Friday night.  Urgent care and regular doctor offices are closed for the weekend.  Do you wait until Monday??? No… you go to the ER.

I propose that more clinics and urgent health care be opened during the nights and weekends.  It would be like having two ER’s.  There’s the ER at the hospital for those moments you think you are dying or need some SERIOUS medical attention.  And then there are the clinics that can help take care of broken limbs, blood testing, minor weekend setbacks, nosebleeds, ect.  They can be close to each other so that if a minor problem does turn into a serious one, the patient can be quickly transferred.

2)  Doctor and nurses are frequently working over 12 hour shifts extending into 36 hour shifts.  Excuse me for saying, but I do not want a doctor working on me who has been up all hours of the night and is probably on a huge coffee binge.  These are not healthy hours to keep so how are we expecting our doctors to not make tiny, but very costly, mistakes every now and again since studies have shown that sleep deprivation is very similar to being drunk in reaction times and problem solving skills.  Are too many hospitals understaffed?  Or what is the problem?

I propose you fix this.  Provide more support for people to become nurses.  Support more students through medical school.  If our nation is getting more sick… then by golly, provide more health support.  Again, I don’t know the system and I don’t know how to fix it.  But if you want fewer mistakes and more patients getting better health care, reduce the amount of sleep deprived doctors on the floor.

3)  In this same issue of Reader’s Digest, they showed chart comparison.  One was showing your dietary guidelines:  You know, the one that says to eat more vegetables and fruit than meat?  Interestingly enough, the other chart showed where your financial support was going to answer the question to why a Big Mac is cheaper than a meal full of fresh veggies.  Would you like to know why?  Because over 70% of your food funding is being given to the dairy and meat industry.  Those are near the top of the pyramaid!!!

I propose you start helping out more farmers dealing with our produce.  If you truly want a healthier nation, than make it more economically feasible to eat healthy than simply grabbing the over processed junk food at the grocery store or from a near-by fast food joint because the poor man’s budget doesn’t allow for more.  Prove your sincerity in reducing childhood obesity by reducing the prices of vegetables and fruits even if it means raising the prices of processed food.

4)  I have a friend who is a nurse who constantly laments that she doesn’t have time to care for each patient.  She tries so hard everyday to keep these patients as individuals instead of charts, but she can’t always do it because she has too many patients on her plate. Although, I think she is awesome for all the times she finds time to fit it in anyway.  (Love you, Becca!)

I propose staffing non-medical people in the hospital.  They can act as many volunteers do in hospitals.  They can take patients out on a walk, read them stories, paint their finger nails, report sport statistics, ect.  You wouldn’t have to pay them like a medical personnel.  You could even do minimum wage for all I care.  But think of the morale boost and rising recovery rates if these patients felt like they had someone who cared.  If you can’t find a way to lower the nurse:patient and/or doctor:patient ratio, then bring some people in to do the job that doesn’t require a degree.  And the big BONUS to this proposal is that you’ll be able to provide more jobs to Americans.  That’s also on your agenda, right?  Two birds… one stone.

5)  When I make an appointment in advance concerning a medical problem, I expect to be given my proper amount of time.

I propose that every office follows the following procedure:  If you are running behind and do not feel that you will be able to provide me with a full and attentive visit, please offer me the option of either taking the shorter appointment or making another appointment a different day.  Chances are I will prefer to schedule another day and you’ve just freed up your schedule for everyone else.  Maybe you could add an incentive as an apology, like, “Sorry we had to reschedule your appointment but we’ll waive your $20 co-pay to make up for it.”  Airlines offer incentives for delays ALL THE TIME!  Why not at the doctor’s office?

There are so many more problems but I just lost my hyper focus on this subject so I’m going to have to close the letter.

Good luck,


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