Simplicity: Emily Thomas

Simplicity_Thomas-01Hi friends! My name is Emily Thomas and I live in the Triangle of North Carolina. I am the very lucky lady who gets to be the Creative Director at Southern Weddings magazine (going on five years now). I also have a personal blog where I write about everything I find marvelous (including but not limited to personal finance, house projects, weddings, donuts, and living an adventurous life). My husband and I are high school sweethearts; he is my absolute best friend and the love of my life and I could not be more grateful that our good God brought us together. I love traveling, growing things, browsing at flea markets, generosity, hiking, going to outdoor movies, and spending time in my native New England.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Our family of two has recently undergone some lifestyle modifications, including eating more cleanly and being more intentional about exercise. Setting up a schedule has worked well for us over the last few months, so now we play tennis on Tuesdays, ride our bikes on Thursdays, and run trails on Sundays. The two best things I do for my mental head space are take walks with John (great time for uninterrupted conversation) and sit on our front porch rockers eating cherries late at night (also good for conversation – and yes, I understand that makes us sound like we are 80. We embrace it.).

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In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

I actually wrote an entire post about how we meal plan and how it fits into my Home Base Binder, but the short version is that John and I choose meals and shop together. He does the cooking while I sit at the bar and respond to email or write blog posts (which frees me up to spend more quality time together later in the evening). I am always on dish duty!

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

This is kind of a funny one, but no matter what happened during the day or how I’m feeling toward John at the moment, every night, right before going to sleep, I always say to him, “I love you” and then, “You’re my best friend.” The reminder never hurts.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

I have been brainstorming my “pick six” since you started this series!! First, though, it has to be said: God is my rock and my redeemer, and I could do nothing without him. It also has to be said that John is my other rock and my trustworthy friend, and I could do little without him. Now, on to the goodies!
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1. Doodle: My friends are the best, but they’re also ridiculously busy. There’s no “just putting a date on the calendar” with these people. If I’m trying to plan something with more than one couple, I send out a quick Doodle poll to gauge availability, which saves tons of back and forth emails.

2. My phone’s Notes app: This incredibly simple and incredibly handy app helps me seem more together than I am and be a more thoughtful person than I would be otherwise. I keep so many lists on here, including gift ideas for my husband, restaurants I want to try, books I want to read, things I’m looking for at the flea market, measurements of crucial areas in my house, and the food preferences of my friends and family members (which makes buying treats for them easier!).

3. EBates: Good golly, if you shop online, you MUST sign up for eBates!! It’s a simple way to earn cash back on most purchases, and though it sounds too good to be true, it’s the real deal – we’ve gotten over $750 back in about two years. Yes.

4. Sermons: For my Etsy shop, I spend a lot of time with my hands busy and my mind wandering. To put that time to good use, I listen to sermons while I work. My favorites are from Church of the Resurrection and Church of the City . There’s no way I’d be able to keep my head on straight if I didn’t intentionally fill it with the good news day after day.

5. Bare Minerals Ready Foundation: I am not much of a makeup person, but I do make an attempt. This powder foundation takes about two seconds to apply, is foolproof, and provides light but even coverage. Jackpot!

6. Frozen cookie dough: I’m one of those people that needs just a little something sweet after dinner. To avoid indulging beyond that, I’ll make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into balls, and freeze it – then voila! After dinner, I pop two onto a cookie sheet and they’re ready in minutes. The Immaculate refrigerated dough is also great in a pinch.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

I suppose I could also add that personal finance is something near and dear to my heart. If it’s something you struggle with or that you feel like you’re not interested in, I’d encourage you to check out my Marvelous Money series . I’d also love to hear if anyone has a personal finance topic they’d like for me to tackle in a future post!

 

Follow along with Emily:

Blog: http://www.emformarvelous.com

Instagram: @emilyayerthomas

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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GIVEAWAY & GIFT IDEAS!

EmilyLey_MudPie_HolidayGiftGuide_2014-01 I’ve spent the last few weeks going through Brady’s old clothes getting ready for Tyler to wear them. With every sweet monogrammed onesie or special holiday outfit I unpack I have to take at least a few minutes and hug it and hold it and stare at it. Bryan thinks I’m hysterical. But they are each so sentimental! I’m so excited to have little ones at home again to dress and spoil. A lot of my friends are also having second children (or second AND third, if you’re us) so its been so much fun shopping for their little ones as well. I’m so excited to partner with Mud Pie to share some of my favorite holiday gift ideas for mamas of little ones (along with a few other things down the road!) Brady wears a lot of mud pie clothes (their Christmas jimmies are super cute!) so I was tickled pink when they reached out to me. AND, they’re so generously giving one reader a $200 credit to purchase your favorites as well!

1. CROCHET REINDEER BOOTIES | $19.50 – I mean. Stop it. These and the Santa ones? You better believe C and T will be sporting these next Christmas. They are so cute!!

2. CROCHET SANTA BOOTIES | $19.50 – Again. Ridiculous. So cute. And so well made. My littles will be wearing these in 2015.

3. CHUNKY FOOTBALL KNIT HAT | $18 – Seriously, I love a baby in a hat. My husband is a huge (!!!) football fan, so I had to get this. Can you imagine Tyler’s little head in that thing!? I can’t even handle it.

4. RED JUMBOW HAT | $15 - I can’t even tell you how excited I am to have BOWS in my house. ME!? BOWS!? You know what they say… “the bigger the bow, the better the mama.” Just saying’. ;)

5. GOLD GLITTER BOW CLIPS SET | $15 – Brady didn’t have any hair until he was two. Seriously. So hopefully sweet Caroline will be born with a little more :) BUT, if not – these can wait. They’re dainty and sweet – the perfect size – and come on alligator clips.

6 + 7. LIL GULP BOTTLE CARRIER | $22.50 - I love the preppy patterns and gold details on these bottle carriers. They come in pink, navy and grey. They’ll keep bottles cold for four hours and are wipeable inside. Super cute!! (And they have personalized diaper bags to match!)

Without further ado… here is the Mud Pie giveaway! Follow along with Mud Pie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xo, Emily

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Christmas Traditions

I absolutely can’t believe Christmas is upon us. Yes, I’m one of those people that *loves* Thanksgiving, but prefers a red and green Thanksgiving :) As December sneaks up on us, I’ve started gathering a few ideas to share about our Christmas traditions. And this year, in particular, will be a special one for us. Not only is it our last Christmas as a family of three – it’s also going to be a little different than years past. Typically we spend Christmas with my family in Pensacola – LOTS of traditions there. It’s the same every year and I love it so much. This year, I’ll be a billion weeks pregnant at Christmas-time and unable to make the trip. We’ll be having our own little Christmas at home and creating our own Christmas traditions (while incorporating our favorites from back home). Don’t worry, we’ll have our “family” Christmas when my parents come to visit after the holiday. ChristmasTraditions-01   I adore this Christmas tradition. We started it when Brady was just a baby, but he LOVES his two elves (Yes, he has two – one visits him at his house and the other visits him at Nana’s house in Pensacola). Scooter and Chippy report to Santa on his good choices every evening and show up in a new place when Brady wakes. I didn’t realize it, but Elf on a Shelf also makes some REALLY cute products outside of just the Elf and his book. They even have a Birthday Tradition that we’ll be doing with Brady in February (to help make that CRAZY month a little more special / that’s when the twins are due). Elf on a Shelf is a super fun thing to do with your kids – but more than anything, I just love the heart of this company. It was created by a mama for her girls and has spread around the world as a tradition millions of families incorporate into their holidays. Read their whole story – “From Family Tradition to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” here on Fast Company. ChristmasTraditions-02 This is near and dear to my heart. Last year, we hosted this fundraiser for the Cystinosis Research Foundation. My sweet friend, Christi, has a precious little boy affected by this disease. You can read their entire story here. Last year all of you came together to purchase our downloadable RAK Advent Calendar (something Christi does with her family) and helped us raise $10,000 for the foundation. Incredible. We’re so excited to host this fundraiser again this year. Purchase your RAK Advent Calendar (including 25 cards with random acts of kindness on them + “you’ve been RAK’d” cards) here for $20 – your gift will go to the CRF to support kiddos like little Braden. Simply print on your home printer, cut out and viola! You’re ready to go! Brady and I had the best time doing these last year. Our most memorable RAK was when we visited the veterinarian / oncologist who took care of our sweet Bull Mastiff, Briggs, during his chemotherapy for lymphoma before we lost him last summer. We took them doughnuts and Brady still remembers it and talks about how we did that every time we pass by their office (middle pic above). PURCHASE YOURS HERE.

adventTell me about your family’s Christmas traditions! I’m excited to create our own this year but also a little sad this year will be “different.” Creating new memories with Bryan and Brady will be so special before the twins arrive, though. And… don’t forget to swing over to our shop and help support our Random Acts of Kindness fundraiser.

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Simplicity: Rachel Nordgren

Simplicity_Rachel.Name-01Hey there! I’m Rachel…a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking, belly-laugh-loving, happily-newly-married woman living in Kansas with a super fluffy sweetheart of a dog named Banjo and the cat my husband wanted. Hans and I have been married over one year, and I’m finding that being a wife is the most incredible and humbling journey. I’m a college student and blogger at OurYellowDoor.com, with a deep love of washi tape, line-dried sheets, office supplies, fresh flowers and lemon-flavored anything.

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

My mornings are the most important part of my self-care routine. I spend the first part of my days with Jesus, reading the Bible and praying. With coffee, of course! The peace and quiet of this time with the Lord is utterly life-giving to me. I limit the number of things I am involved in and committed to in order to keep my stress level manageable. I also give myself enough sleep, exercise, and good foods to keep my body healthy!

img_3904In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

Because my husband is a full time teacher and I am a full time college student, we don’t always have time to cook healthy meals from scratch. Instead, I do huge batches of freezer meals! Every few months, I take one day (and make a colossal mess in the kitchen) and make a dozen or so meals that can be frozen and reheated (or put in the crock pot) later. It’s a great way to plan ahead for busy seasons and ensure that we’re still eating well.

What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

Hans and I have a date night every Wednesday, and we guard it fiercely! We switch back and forth with the planning, and it’s great to come up with creative ways to intentionally spend time together! It’s important to us to continually pursue each other romantically and have fun together. Some weeks are fancy (we’ll dress up and go out to dinner) and some aren’t (a casual bike ride and ice cream)!

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_Rachel-011. Chestnut ballet flats from Tieks: I’m in the process of creating a capsule wardrobe, because I want to have a slim closet that works hard! These flats are classic, go with everything, and incredibly comfortable!

2. PowerSheets: These have been a game changer for my life. I love Lara’s approach to goal setting, y’all! The PowerSheets help me discern what matters most and make progress towards those goals!

3. Gold Monogrammed Mug from Anthropologie: A little touch of gold makes my morning (and afternoon…) coffee so much classier!

4. Ultra Mentha Lip Shine from C.O. Bigelow:  I’ve been using this stuff for YEARS. It’s minty fresh and never sticky…the perfect lip gloss!

5. Moleskine Journals: These timeless journals are my favorite for writing out prayers, Bible studies, and whatever else is on my mind. They are no-frills, exceptionally constructed, and perfect for everyday use!

6. XL Leather Laptop Tote from Piel: This workhorse of a tote is big enough to carry my laptop, binder, and books for school, and also doubles as a classic purse. It has simple, clean lines and plenty of storage. I love it!

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

One way I “keep it all together” is by regularly taking a break from social media on the weekends. Social media is a great tool and way to connect with others, but it can also be a big distraction. I try to reserve weekends for rest, clarity, time with my husband and time with Jesus!

 

Follow along with Rachel:

Blog: http://www.ouryellowdoor.com

Instagram: @rachelnordgren

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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The Simplified Planner Video

HOORAY! Thank you to our friends at Indie Atlantic Films for making this awesome video for us. And special thanks to my dear friends Danica, McKay and Ashley for staring in this. :)

The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley from Emily Ley on Vimeo.

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ASK EMILY: Vol 1

1897766_10152817602056926_2754395299162824505_n So, my friend Kate over at The Small Things Blog, has been doing this Q & A post for a while. I LOVE it. And since I get all kinds of random questions from time to time, I thought it might be fun to start something similar here!! Every month or so, I’ll post a call for questions on our Facebook Page and choose the most LIKED questions to answer. Here we go!

Is the Simplified App still in the works?

You betcha! In fact, it keeps me awake at night :) The app is a TON of work and we have an incredible team we’re working with. There are a million steps to getting an app in the App Store, so we’re hoping to launch by the end of the year. It. Is. Spectacular. A few answers for questions you’re thinking to yourself: Android? No. iPad? Yep, after iPhone. Price? Mmm, not sure yet. Nothing crazy. Follow @EmilyLey and @SimplifiedApp on Instagram for updates.

I wasn’t sure if you already addressed this, but what made you decide to quit your non-profit job to create your own business? Also any tips for anyone aspiring to do the same?

Oh I could write you a novel on this. I held a few fancy jobs in the non-profit world (I have my MSA in Public Administration) before starting my business. In fact, I worked both for about two years. It was HARD. But I deeply desired to live a balanced life, to use my creative gifts to their fullest and to BE a change-maker. I felt like I was “supporting” or “helping” but not DOING. I wanted to be a mama more than anything and I refused to work 60 hours a week. I also hate wearing skirt suits, so there’s that. :) I created the life I dreamed of and a business that supported that. It wasn’t without a lot (LOT) of sweat, tears and paper cuts, though. And a lot of fall-on-my-face moments. I messed up – a lot. And little by little we built a brand I’m so proud of. I say we meaning Bryan and I. He doesn’t “work” for the company, but he helps me make every big decision. I’m so grateful for him and his finance mind. I prefer to think in colors while he thinks in numbers. :) Tips? Don’t be afraid of the hard work. Google the “dumb” questions (they’re not dumb, they’ve been googled before). Dive in. Give it all you’ve got. And run your business debt-free (that’s for you, Will Ray!) Seriously, it’s one of my biggest new-business-owner tips.

What is your daily skin care and makeup routine?

Oh hahahahaha. If only you could see what I look like right now. I knew I had to answer this. I hardly ever wear makeup during the workday. I prefer to give my skin a chance to breathe… no, I just don’t have time to do it. But when I do – it takes me about 10 minutes. I’ve gotten really good at doing makeup fast. I have a ton of hair (had… pregnancy is making it all fall out for some reason) so its typically in a side-parted pony tail or knot. Makeup-wise, I love MAC Cosmetics. I use their foundation, pressed powder (with a giant brush), BRIGHT pink blush, eye-lid primer, neutral eyeshadow and a Loreal mascara and liner. I hate wearing lipstick, so I typically just use EOS lip balm and call it a day. Skincare – I love Rodan & Fields Redefine, but since I’ve been pregnant I’ve been using Neutrogena Naturals.

What’s in your purse on an average day?

Ok, I’m literally going to grab my LV and tell you what’s in it right now. It doesn’t change often. A royal blue wallet from Target (fancy 31st bday purse, cheap wallet). Honest Co wipes (for dirty hands and food covered mouths). A handful of LePens and Poppin pens. EOS lip balm. Some Halloween candy (for me) and a few organic lollipops (for B). Honest Co hand sanitizer spray. Target sunglasses (I refuse to buy fancy ones because I lose them every 6 weeks). Honda Odyssey keys (with a pineapple keychain – a gift from Bryan). My Simplified Planner (of course). And my gold Jackery iPhone charger (thanks for the tip, Gina!)

That was fun! Have more questions? I’ll post on our FB page to gather them for our next post soon! :)

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SIMPLICITY: Mandy Volpe

Simplicity_Graphic_ VOLPE-01Our love story began in college one summer when I interned at Georgia Tech where Conner was going to school and working. We believe in a marriage rooted in love and focused on Jesus. Marriage is hard work and messy, but we are learning how you grow closer together when your focus is on God first. We don’t have all the answers and nine times out of ten we fail. However we know that love never fails and when we focus on that, we can’t fail either. We love traveling, home projects, throwing celebrations, focusing on a healthy lifestyle, and play time with our fur baby, Brinkley. That makes us a family of three for the time being :)

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

I kick off the day with some quiet time with my main man JC. It gives me time to focus on the day, journal my prayers, and read some truth before emerging myself into the world of marketing.

As for physically, we have been on a journey for the past year 1/2 to transform our lives into a healthier lifestyle. We have collectively lost over 175lbs through monitoring what we are putting in to our bodies, working out, and having active dates rather than just a movie with popcorn. It hasn’t been easy but to see the transformation of how we are stronger and have more energy is absolutely amazing. It proves that with a little will power and perseverance you can accomplish your goals.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

We try to keep everything “in the cloud”. We both share a drop box account to share files and pictures easily. We also use google docs for meal planning/figuring out what needs to be restocked/what activities will have us away from the home for the meal. As for laundry, we both do our own because we like it done a certain way and wanted to avoid the fight that came with the expectations surrounding folding/shrinking/color-washing that comes from mysterious clothing with multiple parts. granted, if there is something that needs to be washed for Conner, he has to ask for the help, otherwise it is left to him to get it done. Our motto: “You wear it, you wash it”.

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What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

We have two and funny enough they both are about food. Ha! 1) Dinner around the table every.single.night. This is where we pray together, catch up on the day, game plan for the next day, and talk through things that need to be helped around the house. 2) The second tradition we have is what we call our “Post travel breakfasts”. (Southern Weddings actually featured a photo shoot from one of our breakfasts a few months ago). My husband travels alot so it gives us time to go get some bacon and eggs the morning after he returns. When he is out of town, it makes it difficult to talk as much as we do when we are both working from home, so these PTB keep us connected and help us to recharge after being away from each other.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?
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1. Google Calendar: We have joint access to a family calendar via Google. We both must put any travel/activities into the calendar that will affect each other. Basically anything that draws us away from the house for an extended period of time or a meal period..gets put into the calendar. Also special events or celebrations go in the calendar, too.

2. Brinkley Diaper Bag- I got a Thirty One make-up bag embroidered with our dogs name (yeah I am that person. ha!) The bag is the perfect size for carrying his food, harness, scoop for meals, and leash for when we need to drop him off at the grandparents house or the vet.

3. My Fitness Pal App: We use this to track all of our food and exercise. It has helped us stay accountable in our healthier lifestyle change.

4. Google Doc Grocery List: I got tired of the question of “What’s for dinner”, or the complaint that the paper list was never with me when I went to the store. Now the google doc has Sunday-Saturday listed out for Dinners and is a place for us to both look quickly to figure out what is on the meal plan for the night so that either of us can easily pitch in to make it. Also, the same document keeps a running total of items needing to be picked up from the store so that we only have to go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons. 

5. Tervis Tumbler: I have a shelf for just my tervis cups. They are insulated and keep everything the appropriate temperature. It also helps me to stay hydrated with fewer trips to the fridge to fill up. I work from home so there is the temptation to just hang out in the kitchen all day and eat snacks. By having the 24oz tervis cup, I can fill up a couple times in the morning and afternoon with fewer trips to the kitchen. This cuts down on the random need to snack when visiting the kitchen for more water. 

6. I have a horrible memory. But I want to love on people and remember the tiniest details of their lives. I utilize the “notes” function under people who are listed as contacts in my phone. Random things like what types of pizza they like or their kids names helps refresh my memory.

 

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

I love to use Pinterest for new ideas on outfits and food. I tend to get in a rut so going on that site and actually doing what I pin is vital. I also love party planning so on my phone you will find a running list of event ideas for the next celebration. I love on people through party planning so I am always trying to come up with outside of the box ideas to make people feel special, not like it is an obligation to celebrate them.

Follow along with Mandy:

Blog: http://mandyandconner.com

Instagram: @volpemandy

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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SIMPLICITY: Amanda Rosen

Simplicity_Graphic Template-01I live in Independence, Ky, which is a few minutes south of Cincinnati, Oh. I’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur, but just this year I’ve taken the plunge to work on my heart’s dream full time, from home. That dream is writing (on my blog) on the topics I’m passionate about and growing my shop of knitted goods (I sell things I knit, and am branching out into creating patterns). My family is small and is made up of my husband, Alex, and our sweet little two-year-old, Ezra, plus a cat (Caspian) and a dog (Aslan).

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Taking time for myself is a big part of ensuring I’m physically and mentally prepared to be my best self. Knitting plays a huge part of that; it’s my mental down time as well as my inspiration. I’ve gotten into hot yoga recently, too, and I can’t believe how alive it makes me feel. But, above all, the most important piece of my health – and this goes for physical and mental – is continuous time spent with Jesus, through prayer, music and study. It sounds silly to say that helps me physically, but it’s true. Just having that emotional and mental connection relaxes me physically better than anything I could do myself.

In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

Meal planning and grocery shopping are two things that go hand-in-hand in our house. It starts on Sunday when I put together our meal plan. I’ve learned that, for me, if I’m choosing recipes that are different and exciting, I’m much more likely to stick with the plan so I always check out Pinterest to see what I can find. After that, I write down the ingredients I don’t have from every recipe I’m using in my kitchen journal. Where we live, Kroger is one of the main grocery stores, and it’s where we primarily shop so we can get fuel points to put toward the cost of gas. So, once I know what ingredients I’m missing (plus whatever other incidentals I need to replace from the previous week), I check Kroger’s weekly ad and digital coupons, and I also go through the weekly coupon inserts and match as many of the manufacturer and digital coupons as I can to what’s on my list – and I match what’s on my list, as best as I can, to what’s on the weekly ad. 

The fun part happens on Tuesdays when Ezra – my official grocery shopping assistant – and I head out to the store. He picks out his favorite car cart (Kroger has shopping carts in the shape of cars) and off we go. I organize my list and coupons in order of how the store is organized so I’m not scrambling while we’re there. The moment of truth is always at the checkout; sometimes, to avoid the element of surprise, I will keep a running total on my phone’s calculator. 

Ezra’s favorite thing – apart from the car cart! – about our grocery trips is helping to get ingredients from the shelves and picking out the fruit we’ll snack on throughout the week. And my favorite thing is spending time with him and, hopefully, showing him that it’s fun to plan our meals, it’s fun to gather up coupons and play the savings game, and it’s fun to bring it all home and see the recipes come to life. Meal planning and grocery shopping – though definitely mundane – is my favorite little routine we have in our family.

kitchenlivingroomcombo What is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

Our life tends to center around our combined kitchen and living room area, and our evening routine that unfolds around there is really important to our family. In the evening, everyone is home and the stress of the day is gone. We’re all at the same place, at the same time, and we relax around the table for a meal. When we’re done and everything is all cleaned up, we play in the living room until it’s Ezra bedtime. Once he’s in bed, the routine centers around Alex and I – that time we spend together, even if it’s just watching television, is so important. Our lives are busy, but I know every evening, the pace changes and slows down and I appreciate it so much.

Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

Simplicity_BlogTemplate1. Macbook Pro – the majority of my work is done online, so I definitely can’t live without my Mac!

2. Planner & Powersheets – Right now, I have planner pages slipped into my Simplified Life Binder (I never was able to nab up a Simplicity Planner – Looking forward to September!) and my Powersheets are housed there, too. These pages are extremely important in my day-to-day life and help keep things on track with my work – professionally and at home.

3. Clarisonic – This little gadget is one of my favorite parts of my night. I wash my face with it every night, right before bed, and it’s so refreshing!

4. Yarn bag – Knitting is such a huge part of my life, and I could not live without my yarn bag. It’s full of projects for my shop, for my son and (sometimes!) for me.

5. Bunn My Cafe coffee maker – This little guy came into my life when I broke our Keurig. It has a few different attachments that let you brew anything from a k-cup, to loose ground coffee, to tea bags, to just plain hot water. It’s probably my favorite kitchen gadget ever.

6. Norwex Enviro Cloths – I didn’t really believe the hype, but these are the real deal. I can usually clean things up with just water + an enviro cloth, and you can’t get much more environmentally friendly and kid safe than that.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

My biggest tip is to constantly re-evaluate, in order to keep your routines and systems fresh and always relevant to your life. When something stops working, don’t give up – just re-think it. Sometimes a simple little tweak can make the biggest difference.

Follow along with Amanda:

Blog: http://charminglymodern.com

Instagram: @moxiemanda

 

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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SIMPLE FAVORITES: MINTED + A GIVEAWAY!

Minted-FoilCardFormatsI’ve always felt like, because I’m a designer, I have to pull all the stops when it comes to my own family’s invitations, announcements, holiday cards, etc. But last Christmas, instead of banging my head against my desk trying to create something I was entirely too close to, I went to Minted.com and let them work their magic on our Christmas cards.

You may have been able to hear me squeal from Tampa when I realized Minted will print your addresses on your envelopes for you… FOR FREE (<— seriously!). All you have to do is upload them and viola! (Plus, they’re saved forever). Make my life easier and you win my heart forever. Now Minted and I are BFF. (“A Wonderful Life” foil pressed design for Minted by b.wise papers, Photo by Turquoise & Palm)

Minted-RoseGold I also had the JOY of meeting some of their team and their artists at the National Stationery Show this past May. They’re just good people over there.  But not only are all their designs incredible – they offer the coolest services to just make life easier. I seriously think it took me all of 20 minutes to get our holiday cards done last year. Check out the super cute way that the recipient address designs match the cards. I die. Signed-&-Sealed-by-Jennifer-WickOk, are you ready for this… our friends at Minted are giving one VERY lucky friend of ours $400 towards holiday cards!!!!! Enter below! (PS: Next time you’re perusing Minted and drooling over their holiday cards, check out their personalized wrapping paper and personalized / custom art prints <– I’m eyeing this one to go above Caroline’s crib!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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SIMPLICITY: Courtney Romine

Simplicity_Graphic Template-01I’m a 26 year old single gal living in the most charming city in Alabama. My family is small; it’s just me and my 5 pound Chihuahua named Apple. My parents live about 20 minutes from my house and I see them every week. I work full-time for a Geospatial Engineering company but my passion lies in web and graphic design. I am a huge sucker for polka dots, stripes, and gold foil. Who isn’t?!


How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self for others?

Every day (usually 20 minutes in the morning) I carve out time to reflect on what I am thankful for. I use this time to center, re-focus, and get ready for the day ahead. With a full time job and several part time projects, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I find this extra “me time” helps me to put things in perspective and to stay humble.


In your house, how do the mundane parts of life get done?

Two words: Simplified Planner. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a planner junkie. I usually purchase at least 2…or 3 different planners every year. Ever since I found the Simplified Planner last year, it has absolutely changed the way I manage my day(s). I document everything from “make grocery list tomorrow” to “get groceries today”. I find that writing down everything gives me an easy reminder so I don’t have to keep my brain so cluttered. Talk about a life saver!

deskcloseupWhat is one tradition or routine that’s really important to you? And why?

Every Sunday evening (weather permitting) my dad and I go for a walk at a local green way. We walk about 2 miles of the 10 mile trail. I am an only child and my dad lost both of his parents when he was young. I am so fortunate to still have him in my life and to be able to spend time with him. I also talk to my mom every day on my lunch break. I’ll be 27 next month but I’m still a momma’s girl at heart.

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Your PICK SIX: What 6 products can you absolutely not live without?

1. Simplified Planner!

2. Nutribullet Blender – The only way I will eat kale is to blend it into oblivion.

3. Benefit Girl Meets Pearl – this highlighter gives an all over golden glow perfect for any time of year.

4. Le Pens – The best pens ever! I use these for planning, journaling, scrapbooking, and even work reports.

5. iPhone – I hate to say it but I don’t think I could live without this thing. I do everything from shopping to banking to conference calling on my phone.

6. Dior Lip Glow – this stuff is amazing. period. It is moisturizing and hydrating like a lip balm but it actually changes colors to complement your natural lip color.

Anything else you think our readers would love to know? Any additional tips or systems that help you keep it all together?

With a full time job, part time job, and miscellaneous projects I pick up here and there, I stay pretty busy. Wearing so many different hats and trying to be everything for everyone can be overwhelming. I keep things in perspective by practicing time management, reading uplifting or inspirational books (168 Hours, #Girlboss, and Successful Women Think Differently are just a few of my favorites), and making sure I carve out that oh-so-coveted “me time” that seems to elude even the best of us.

Follow along with Courtney:

Instagram: @courtneylouise

The Simplicity Series features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

We want to know how you intentionally create joy in your life as well as the ways you make your busy life simpler. Submit your story here.

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