Sunday, October 9, 2016

100 Days of Holidays: Day 24: Let's Get Planner Organized for the Holidays

Okay here's your scary rundown of the holidays:

Halloween....21 days away.
Thanksgiving...45 days away.
Christmas...76 days away.
New Years...83 days away.

Are you ready for all the holiday get together events?  More than likely this answer is no.  Unless you are a phenomenal planner and have been working on that Thanksgiving menu since July.  If so, then you either have no kids or you have mad skills.  Either way, you go with your super organized planner self.  I actually feel that by even thinking about planning for these events, that I have accomplished something.

The one thing I feel that I need to get started with holiday planning, is a good planner.  I have tried several different set ups over the past few years, and I have either found myself with multiple planners and notebooks, or I have created my own planner and added pages to support this.  The only holiday I really have to do all the cooking for is Christmas, and it consists of all three meals plus desserts, for both my family and my husband's.  There are all sorts of holiday planners or guides out there to use, so I thought I would give a brief review of a few for you and let you know what I ultimately decided on.

Here are some basic options:

Printable planner pages.  You can print out just the pages you need to organize your holiday.  You can find pages such as:

  1. Menu planning
  2. Gift giving
  3. Budget
  4. Decorations
  5. Travel accommodations
  6. Bucket List
There are many to chose from that are free and some for a small fee.  A simple Google search will bring you many options.  One great free printable I found was at Living Well Spending Less.  Simply sign up to receive your email, and you will get a link to download a fantastic planner that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  You can print the entire packet, or just chose what you need.  If you are looking for a more personalized printable, check out Etsy for a great variety. 

Create your own.  

That Thing Called Life...A Day in the Life of a Crafty Mom:

This is a calendar I have been using and working on for over a year now.  After searching and searching for the perfect planner, I found some interesting things on Pinterest that showed how some people created their own actually drawing/writing them out.  While time consuming, this is one of the best calendar options I have ever done.  I added pages where I needed for birthday party planning, vacations, seasonal cleaning lists, you name it.  The only downfall to an actual bound notebook is that it is hard to make it too far ahead, if you feel you might need to add something later.  I tried many different week/day layouts throughout the fifteen months I used it.  Here I did all the days of the week on one page, and checklists for the week on the other.  When my months were busier, then I changed to a two page spread for the week.  The possibilities are really endless, but you do need a lot of patience.  Here is where my original idea came from for it.  

Now for the do-it-all planners.  I have researched these for quite some time, and finally found one that suits me perfectly.

First I researched the Erin Condren planners.  I had already heard about these and then I saw a friend with one.  It's like planner crack.  They are gorgeous in design and are durable.  There are many extras you can get to go along with the planner, like stickers, post its, zipper pouches and on and on,  I spent more than an hour one night just clicking every little item on their site.  The one thing Erin Condren planners have that others similar to it do not, is three different weekly layouts to chose from.  You can go with vertical, horizontal, or even hourly.  Typically these come in one year planners, but you can do a six month expansion pack add on if you wish.  I absolutely fell in love with this planner and had my heart set on buying it, but the price took me back a little bit.  $55 for the planner alone.  On the plus side though, there are usually 25% off coupons you can find online or advertised on their site.

Next on my list of searches was the Plum Paper Designs.  These have almost the same options as the Erin Condren planners.  Lots of covers to chose from and many, many add ins.  They also give a breakdown on the listings of how many pages you can add to a planner.  If you have the 18 month planner, you can add 36 extra pages, where as if you have a 12 month planner, you can add 75 additional pages.  Plus, you can start these planners at any month you chose.  These are around $35 and the add ins are a little less than Erin Condren.  

Finally, the one that sold me almost immediately.  The Happy Planner.  Same features as the above two have.  The basic planner has a two page month view, and vertical page layout for day of the week.  It also gives a place to write in your goals, plans, and notes for the month in advance.  Pages can be added as well and they come in 12 or 18 month versions.  Online these run from $30-$40.  Here's what ended up selling me:  HOBBY LOBBY.  $29.99 in store and online.  Best part?  40% off coupon.  Final price: $17.99.  This was for the 18 month planner!  I am really happy with it as well.  I purchased a pack of lined/graph pages and inserted extra pages for the holidays so I can plan my meals, crafts, gift giving, sales, you name it.  Here are some photos of the one I bought.

I could have spent half the day going through all the add on items they had in the store!  I plan to go back and use another 40% off coupon to add a few more items to my calendar.  I even pulled out my scrapbooking stash to find some stickers to add as I go along.  

I feel like I am already getting myself more organized, just by having everything in one place.  I am so excited to start using this planner.  I have already started working on my Christmas goodies baking list.  I want to start buying up items now, instead of spending a ton at once.  

Do you use any of the above planners or methods to organize your life and holidays?  Are there others that you love even more?  Please share in the comments below, I would love to check them out as well.  I hope this post has inspired you or at least provided more information if you are in the market for a planner.

Until next time, 

Amy ~ The Dixie Diva

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

100 Days of Holidays: Day 4: Local Haunted House Attractions in NC and SC 2016

Today's post is going to be in reference to some of our local area haunted attractions in North Carolina and South Carolina.  I will also try to do a post soon with some of the nation's best haunted attractions.  For now, here is a list I have put together for the Carolina's:

Booger Jim's Hollow
Blacksburg, S.C.
Opens October 1st

The Fear Farm
Blacksburg, S.C.
Opens October 1st

Wompus Woods
Cowpens, S.C,
Opens September 24th

Field of Scream
Gaffney, S.C.
Opens October 1st

The Haunted Pyramids
Lawndale, N.C.
Opens September 23rd

Bar H Haunted Hayride
Boiling Springs, N.C.
Opens October 14th

Last but not least, the Carowinds Scarowinds spectacular event opens this weekend.
Located on the N.C./S.C. border near Rock Hill and Charlotte.

Know of any other local Haunted Attractions?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  Please comment as well if you have been to any of these locations and what you would recommend.  I look forward to checking a couple of these out myself!

Until next time,

Amy~The Dixie Diva

Monday, September 19, 2016

100 Days of Holidays: Day 3: Cement Pumpkins

We all have those Pinterest ideas that we want to try out.  Some are fails, but some are a great success.  Check out these super cute cement pumpkins my friend Amanda tried out.

Plastic pumpkin pails are filled with concrete mix and then left to dry.  Once they are completely dry, you do have to cut away the plastic pail, but the result is adorable.

The only catch is that they are heavy, so I would suggest making these close to the location you will be displaying them if you can.  The cost is very reasonable, especially if you buy up extra pails in the clearance section after Halloween. Otherwise you can usually find these for around a dollar each during the season.  Amanda said that one 80 pound bag of cement mix was less than $5 at our local hardware chain, and made about three pumpkins.  What you see here would cost less than $20 to make, and could be used year after year.  You could even paint these different colors and decorate them too.  The possibilities are endless!

Have any of you tried this Pinterest idea before?  What was your take on it?

Until next time,

Amy~The Dixie Diva

Sunday, September 18, 2016

100 Days of Holidays: Day 2 DIY halloween decorations + treats

These are some super cute craft and snack ideas.  For the first one, I have used medical gauze before as well.  And the cupcakes?  Love them!  I just want to know, where do you find those little sugar knife toppers?

Until next time,

Amy~The Dixie Diva

(This is not my video, just a cute video I found on YouTube.  Please give credit where credit is due.  I would love to hear your feedback, as to whether or not you've tried any of these, or if you want to keep seeing posts like this.  But most importantly, if you like the video then please give the YouTube video creator a thumbs up and leave them a comment.)

Friday, September 16, 2016

100 Days of Holidays: Day 1: DIY Halloween Snack Ideas! (No Cook, Quick & Easy)

To start off our holiday countdown, I thought I would share this cute video I just found on YouTube.  These are four great treats that require no baking.  The only pre-prep required in one is to make jello, and another you melt white chocolate.  Simple, quick and easy.  These would be perfect for a Halloween party.

I love Halloween.  Possibly more than Christmas?  My friend's and family would scream "YES" to answer that question, but I really do love Christmas time as well.  Especially seeing the light decorations and listening to Christmas music.  It's so calming.

Okay that's it for now.  Short, sweet and to the point.

Until next time,

Amy~The Dixie Diva

(This is not my video, just a cute video I found on YouTube.  Please give credit where credit is due.  I would love to hear your feedback, as to whether or not you've tried any of these, or if you want to keep seeing posts like this.  But most importantly, if you like the video then please give the YouTube video creator a thumbs up and leave them a comment.)

100 Days of Holidays 2016

It's hard to believe that it's that time of year again!  100 Days of Holidays begins today and I am so excited!  Well, at least I'm trying to be.  It's hard to get in the Fall spirit, when you still need tank tops and flip flops every day.  Here in the South, the forecasts keep telling us that we will have a "warmer than average" fall.  It's been this way for several years now, so I'm wondering when they will actually increase that average.  Ugh.

Anyway! We are going to try and bring on the hoodie wearing, hot cocoa making, bonfire mood one way or another.  I'm going to be sharing with you some of my favorite links, blogs, DIY finds and everything else that goes with these 100 days of Holidays.  Time to lighten our spirits from all the negativity out there and get lost in some holiday fun finds. My first post for the countdown will follow this one.

Until next time,

Amy~The Dixie Diva

Friday, January 8, 2016

Creating a Personal Planner

If you haven't bought one already, chances are you have been searching for the perfect family calendar or personal planner.  I've had this struggle for years.  Trying to find the one that has spots for everything you need or enough room to right it all in.  Finally, you buy it, and then start out strong but towards the end of the year you realize you have hardly touched it.

Last year I finally decided to make my own planner. There are tons of options online to print your own pages and place them in a three ring binder, or order one all set up.  The one that really caught my attention last year, was a mom that used grid paper to make her own.  At first I thought it was a lot of work and was skeptical.  I'm not going to sugar coat it, it does take time.  However, once you have found the "formula"  you want to use, setting it up is a breeze.

I started my planner in June of last year.  I could not find any grid or graph paper, so I came up with another idea.  I had this super cute notebook that was pretty thick, and I had been hoarding it for sometime.  You know the type: it's so cute, it's on sale, I'm sure I'll have a use for it, but I'm afraid to put just anything in it.

Here's my notebook.  See, it's cute!  I took little post it tabs and added them in on the whole month calendar page so I could skip right to where I needed to go.  It also has a ribbon that runs through it, so I can place it right to the week I am on.  Here's how I set up the inside of mine.

I used a clear ruler and marked off my calendar like so.  I allowed plenty of room for extra rows, so no more of that split date at the end of the month on a Sunday or Monday.  I HATE that part of calendars.

I have played around with the weekly format several times, trying to get exactly what I wanted.  The first picture below is the one I am currently using.  I set it with times so I could see quickly when I have appointments, class, ect.  I also added in when we eat dinner, the night routine and chores.  At the bottom I have listed what's for dinner, what my declutter mission of the day is, and a chore each day.  This helps me stay on track of things, so when the weekend comes I am not necessarily spending an entire day doing all the housework.

With the picture below, I used one page for the week, the other page for chores, menu planning, to do list, and a check list for things for me to do.  This took a lot longer to draw out and honestly, just didn't do the trick.

During December, I changed things up to a two page spread for the week.  Period.  I knew I wouldn't be spending as much time staring at the calendar as I would to do lists.

Here's another bonus:  you can add pages any way you like.  Just try to stick with drawing out one to two months at a time, until you have the hang of it.  The plus with a binder is that you can literally add pages anywhere you choose, regardless of what you have drawn up.

Here's a list of pages I add to mine:

Birthday Months: I add an extra page before I add the weeks to account for party planning.
Vacation:  When we took a week vacation last summer, I used the two pages for the week to write in a check list for what we needed to bring, per person in the house.  It was awesome.
Thanksgiving: I do not do the cooking on Thanksgiving, but if you do, this is where you can add a page for menu planning, shopping, ect.  I added a page that included Black Friday deals to shop for.
Christmas: I had like six extra pages.  One for gift planning, one for grocery shopping for food gifts, one for menu planning (Christmas is my day to cook-breakfast, lunch, dinner, as the parents all come in shifts throughout the day). I also included a "Bucket List" of things we wanted to do over the holidays.

I have eight months in my calendar so far, and I haven't even used half of this notebook.  I love it.  When it runs out, I may chose a grid system, or a more sophisticated printed one.  For now, this one is exactly what I need and it isn't too big.  Wants some more ideas?  Check out my Pinterest board here called Let's Get Organized.

I'm making progress with my decluttering this week.  I'm still following along with the Home Solutions calendar and sorting through my kitchen.  I'll be sharing tips and tricks I'm finding along the way very soon.

Until next time,