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Mar. 22, 2014

Hi folks! I know…I never write on Saturdays.

Just wanted to give you guys a heads up–I’ve decided to be a little more organic/random with my postings here on the blog. I know I mentioned a personal goal of weekly posts, but the truth is, I just can’t do it right now.

As a blog writer, I’ve always committed myself to creating worthwhile content.  I’m not a fan of following people who recycle old posts or material that lacks substance just for the sake of posting.  I simply can’t post things I wouldn’t enjoy reading. That being said, good posts take time and lots of effort to organize and put together. Time that I just don’t have these days.

I had a bit of a reality check this morning…

I realized I hadn’t written this week and that I have a crazy week ahead with appointments for Little M and personal commitments. What does this mean?  I probably won’t find the time to post this week, either.

I’ve also been neglecting myself.  There…I said it.  I haven’t exercised in forever and my prayer time each day is short. I feel yucky and exhausted!  I also realized this week that my spring/summer clothes are sparse and it’s warming up.  I need to shop for myself.  I’m way past due for my semi-annual at the dentist.  The list could go on.

I also find myself feeling some guilt for not being more amazing as a blogger.  Like the kind of blogger that posts amazing content a couple times a week. The thing is, behind the scenes all my energy is going to being an amazing wife and mommy. Little M is demanding so much of me that I can only currently commit to a few things in my life.  And, those few things simply can’t demand much of my time.

In conclusion, I will continue to write at the blog when I have time and when I have great content to share with you.  That I can promise. I will also take care of myself and take all the time I need to mommy Little M :-)

And, the baby is crying…we’ll see ya again soon!

Live fabulously, folks!

Leah :-)

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Fabulous Thank You Notes | A Simple Guide for Gifts // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

My mother was always adamant about us writing thank you notes immediately after we received a gift.  I learned the importance of expressing gratitude at an early age. I still to this day appreciate handwriting a meaningful thank you note. I’ve organized something of a guide for thank you note writing based on what mom taught me and what I’ve learned over the years.  I’ve included resource links through this post that you can easily access by simply clicking on the highlighted {pink} words. I do hope you find this helpful :-)

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Organizing Those Thank You Notes for Gifts from a Specific Event

{examples: wedding, baby/bridal shower, birthday party, graduation, etc.}

*** First, here’s a FREE Thank You Note Register {simply click the highlighted words to print this PDF document} ***

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  • Using this Thank You Note Register will  not only ensure the correct gift is attached to the correct giver, it will allow you to keep a record of addresses and a tally of those thank you notes you’ve mailed.
  • Under SENT, you will simply insert an X to designate each thank you note as “completed and mailed.”
  • Print this organizer before your event so that you can either designate a dependable individual to be the gift recorder person or so you can personally record gifts/givers as gifts are received. And just like that, you’ll be fabulously organized :-)

***If you already have a spreadsheet created with invitees and their addresses, simply add a few columns to the end of your document to include GIFT GIVEN / SENT instead of printing my Thank You Note Register.

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Selecting + Purchasing Thank You Notes

Here are some GREAT sites for snazzy thank you notes if you’re looking to shop at places other than the big box stores.

Paper Source {they also make and sell custom thank you notes HERE}

Papyrus

Tiny Prints

Crane & CO.

Minted.

Expressionery

Pear Tree Greetings

Just a little tip on purchasing thank you notes.

When Smith and I got married, I purchased monogrammed thank you notes to match our wedding invitations.  I regretted doing that. Having our monogram on them indicated that we were married.  So, when I had my bridal shower nearly 2 and a half months BEFORE the wedding, it seemed inappropriate to send out thank you notes immediately following the shower that had my married last name on them and we weren’t married yet.  You may have showers well before the wedding  and you’ll need to send out thank you notes. So, when purchasing thank you notes, maybe just get thank you notes that simply say “thank you” instead of getting ones that are so personalized.  Just a thought and something I wish I had personally done differently.  :-)))

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Thank You Note Wording — making it meaningful

Here’s a sample of a casual thank you note to my brother.  I’ve included a list of “must-haves” in the body that encourage a more meaningful thank you note.

 

black and white FINAL

 

To make this thank you note more formal, I would change up the greeting and closing to something more appropriate. Here are some examples:

  • Greeting:  Dear Sir or Madame, Dear Mr. and Mrs. Charles Huckabay, Dear Ms. Charlene LeBlanc, Dear Robertson family, etc.
  • Closing:  Regards, Best Regards, Sincerely, Sincerely Yours, Thank You Again, etc.

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Mail Your Thank You Notes in a Timely Manner

The timing in which a thank you note should be sent is something many people wonder.  Here are the general guidelines my mother shared with me:

  • small number of gifts {like those gifts that received at random times, ones received at the holidays, or ones received at a birthday}, a lunch treat from a close friend  – mail immediately/within the week of receiving the gift
  • large number of gifts {like those gifts received after a bridal shower or baby shower} — mail within a month of receiving the gifts
  • exception:  If you’re overly busy following your wedding or if you receive several gifts after your baby is born and you are spending time in the NICU {which seriously happened to us}, mailing thank you notes within 2 months following the wedding date or birth date would be acceptable. Anything later and it would be considered tacky, folks :-P

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Noteworthy Tips for Preparing Thank You Notes

  1. Always have thank you notes on hand.  You never know when you could need one.
  2. Every thank you note should be handwritten.
  3. Never write large sums of thank you notes at once.  You want the note to be meaningful and not sound or look like you rushed through writing it.
  4. If you’ve been given a monetary gift, NEVER include the exact sum in the thank you note.  Instead: “Thank you for the incredibly generous monetary gift you gave our family for Christmas this year.”
  5. When they’re old enough to write with a little guidance, encourage your children to express gratitude by writing thank you notes :-))) The recipient will be thrilled, I’m certain!
  6. If you’re using your item and love it, have a photo taken of it “in use” and send it with the thank you note. Actions speak louder than words!
  7. Square thank you cards are more expensive to mail, so stick with the rectangle sizes for less hassle with the stamps.

I hope you found this helpful!

Live fabulously, folks! 

Leah ;-)

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Turkey Rice- a healthy and filling lunch recipe // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

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I came up with this recipe just after my brother passed away in the summer of 2008 when I was suffering from some major anxiety and digestive issues.  It was a comforting food that was easy on my stomach, yet hearty and healthy as well.

I have incorporated this dish into my regular meal planning recipes because I can make a batch of it in about a half hour on Sundays or Wednesdays and have 4 good-sized servings of it for lunches during the week.  I usually pair this meal with a baked  sweet potato {I cook 4 to 6 sweet potatoes on Sundays to eat through the week as well}. I talked about my meal planning strategy HERE. You may want to check that out ;-)

This is the perfect meal to bring to work in a microwave safe container to heat and eat. It’s also a quick fix meal for the stay-at-home mom who has no time to prep a lunch.

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Gather:

  • 1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 + 3/4 cup of water {to cook the rice}
  • 1 small pad of butter {to cook the rice}
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup {8 fl oz} organic chicken broth
  • 1 chopped bouquet of onion tops {about 6-8 onion tops}
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • pepper to taste

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Turkey Rice // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

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Prepare:

  • Begin by cooking your rice in a saucepan.  On HIGH heat, bring rice, water, and pad of butter to a boil. Next, lower heat then cover and simmer for about 20 min {be sure to set a timer}.
  • While your rice is cooking, you’ll begin cooking your turkey.
  • Over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick or ceramic pot.  Add the turkey, chopping it up evenly with your spoon and continue to stir as it cooks.
  • When HALF of the turkey turns from pink to white, add your chicken broth, chopped onion tops, and sea salt.  Stir well to incorporate the added ingredients.

Turkey Rice // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

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  • Cook this mixture until the turkey is no longer pink.

Turkey Rice // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

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  • When the pink is gone, stir in your cooked rice and chopped cilantro.
  • Let the mixture cook about 10 minutes longer on medium-low heat.
  • Add pepper to taste and serve immediately or distribute into microwave safe containers for this week’s lunches :-)))

Happy hump day!

Live fabulously, folks!

Leah :-)

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Managing Tasks and Schedules by Hand // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

 

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share a little of my strategy for managing my tasks and schedules/routines as a stay-at-home mom.

I’m pretty old school when it comes to how I manage my tasks and schedules. I do it all by hand. I manage my finances the same way.  I feel like I have a much better handle on what’s going on because I have it all in front of me, at any point during the day. This method has proven to be so much more functional for me than the newer way of using a smartphone and computer applications. I do, however, input really important appointments into my iPhone and set up reminder alarms. My life is busy and I’ve become super forgetful!

Why by hand? Well, I need to be able to write tons of notes and highlight important details. Not to mention that… “I’m so winning!”… feeling of scratching things off of my list.  LOL!

There are two parts to managing my tasks and schedules by hand:

  1. a functional planner
  2. a small spiral-bound, narrow college-ruled notebook {To Do Lists + Daily Issues Notebook} like this one HERE

*oh, and my Precise V5 ball point Pilot pens :-)

My Personal Planner

Finding a functional planner that works for your needs is important.

I discovered the Moleskine planners/notebooks last fall.  There are so many variations of planners and notebooks that are geared toward functionality and usability.  If you can find a location in your area {they have a bunch of the Moleskine brand items at Barnes & Noble} that would allow you to browse their products, you’d have a better idea of what I mean.

The one I’m using is the 12 Month Weekly Notebook and y’all, I love it!

It lays out the days of one week on the left page with a lined notebook page on the right.

Manage Your Tasks and Schedules by Hand // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

This allows me to see what’s coming up in the week, while also creating a list of goals/projects/tasks to accomplish that week.

I organize my to do lists with the strategy of  accomplishing specific tasks and goals by the end of a week period…breaking down tasks daily that work toward tackling a specific weekly goal.  

Why do this? Some days I’m able to tackle tons of stuff, while other days nothing at all.  So, I just work to accomplish small tasks on my list, by the end of the 7-day week {from Monday to the following Sunday}. Doing this, I give myself a little more breathing room and I find myself feeling so much LESS defeated and frustrated.

The following Monday, I assess what I was not able to accomplish the week before and incorporate it into the plan for the new week. Done!

My To Do Lists + Daily Issues Notebook

This notebook is a place for me to focus more closely on my daily To Do Lists and routines/schedules.  I like being able to create these daily plans on a nice, clean, college-ruled sheet of paper.  Most planners are just not made for this type of activity.  So at some point during college I started using what I now call my To Do Lists + Daily Issues notebook and kept it side-by-side with my planner. It’s a place that I can brainstorm, solve problems, document daily activity, and jot down important information, while also organizing a checklist and plan for my day.  This is also the place that I keep more of my daily household and personal management details {like notes to put specific laundry to wash, or errands I need to run , or even a tally of how many glasses of water I’ve had for that day, daily food diary, etc.}  It’s such a simple system, but it keeps thoughts, to-do’s, and schedules all in one place and at reach.

My Personal Home Management Schedules and Routines

A few months ago, I shared some of how I manage our household and keep up with tasks in our home, a little at a time.   Click the titles below to access those posts.

Here are some other GREAT resources for planners to help you manage your tasks & schedules, fabulously!

I want to first start with the momAgenda planners.  This planner is a wonderful tool for parents managing not only their schedules, but the schedules of their children. The producers of momAgenda also make a regular planner for personal planning. with fewer “bells and whistles.”   It’s called myAgenda.

For an aesthetically pleasing and truly functional planner, Whitney English’s the DAY DESIGNER. Y’all, these planners are FABULOUS!!! You can pre-order her May 2014 to May 2015 planner HERE

Lastly, and by far the MOST functional planner ever, this yearly planner by Laurel Denise. Autumn Nyby did a fabulous review of this product HERE at her business blog Space for Living. Anyone who is “over the moon” about being organized would LOVE this planner.

I hope you found this post helpful and inspirational for getting your own tasks and schedules well-organized.  

Live fabulously, folks!

Leah

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Hey y’all!

So today I wanted to share a small, but significantly useful little space that I created to house our bottle prepping items for little M.  As I began trying to locate space for these kitchen related baby items, I focused on a few specific things:

  • I wanted these items to be convenient so I could easily clean and access them.
  • I wanted these items to be visible.  If we were low on bottles, formula, or water {and in the craziness of the “new baby lifestyle,” not realize we needed something} otherwise, we could find ourselves in a real pickle at 3 in the morning.
  • This space needed to be near the sink with some counter space for bottle prep and bottle rinsing.

So here’s the space BEFORE we made it into a bottle prepping station {and Millie in the upper right corner :-)))}.  This gives you an idea of the kitchen island layout.  We temporarily moved cooking prep across the kitchen to the counter and cabinets by the stove until we are no longer using bottles.

Bottle Prepping Station // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

Here’s the space, now.

Bottle Prepping Station // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

We’re using the Wabi bottle sterilizer which I would personally recommend and will talk more about in a “My FAVORITE Baby Items” post, soon!

The baskets were purchased at The Container Store in the oil-rubbed bronze color.  Click HERE for the smaller ones and HERE for the larger ones.  I used a small one on the top and two larger on the bottom. They have metal latches that swing toward the inside of the basket, allowing you to stack these snazzy little organizers.

I also purchased  small plastic containers from The Container Store to house our pacifiers and bottle nipples (in the top basket).  I selected a color that coordinated with the other items in the prep station.  Click HERE for those containers.

I used THESE Avent formula dispensers.  And THIS Avent bottle brush.

NOTE:  If you’re using taller bottles, like Dr. Brown’s, you will need to put them in the top basket and simply store everything else in the lower baskets.  The bottles shown here are the Born Free bottles.

Bottle Prepping Station // SimplyFabulousLiving.com

Simple and ridiculously functional!  I hope this is helpful for the soon-to-be and new mamas.

Y’all have a wonderful weekend!

Live fabulously, folks!

Leah :-)

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