Life · Organization

To Dare Greatly

“The credit belongs to the [woman] who strives valiantly”

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals for the new year. Yes, I know, it’s the January energy burst which will soon be followed by three more long months of winter and monotony… But I’ve been wary of goal-making the past few years because I struggle so much to keep to them. I always have such lofty goals and then fail to even begin to implement them.


But this year is a different kind of year. I’ve realized it’s not my will or dreams or desires that are defective: it’s my methods! I just don’t have the proper tools to implement all of this, and that’s what needs to change. You can find so many TED talks and articles and books about change, goals, progress, habit-stacking, getting things done (<– life-changing, and I say this with no exaggeration) etc. so you don’t need the whole speech from me. I even heard recently that sharing your goals with people actually makes you less likely to achieve them, because the satisfaction of people acknowledging the lofty goals gives you satisfaction and you almost sort of feel like you’ve done the work. (Crazy how our brains work, right?!)

All that to say, as I finish out my twenties, that’s been one of my greatest lessons learned: it means nothing to have dreams or goals without a viable plan to make those things happen. (oh, and networking/connections… but I won’t go off on that tangent for now!) This has been the missing link a great deal of my life so far, and this is the muscle I need to flex. I always thought I was just lazy — turns out all I need is a good brainstorming session and a next actions list. (OK, I may be a little bit lazy too… ha!)

AND, here is one simple tool I desperately need: REVIEWING FREQUENTLY

Every time I make big goals, I do this to myself. I dream, I write them all out, I might even do some outcome visioning. But then, my dreams and goals list goes in a drawer or disappears in a long list of email drafts on my phone, never to be seen again. So this year, here’s my one goal I WILL share: I want to be better at regularly reviewing my plans. It’s OK to have big dreams, but to make these things happen I need to be taking small, regular steps to get there.

A friend of mine has her Sunday evening planning sessions — she pulls out the planner, checks her projects/goals lists, syncs calendars with her husband, asks herself how she’s doing. I love that, and it’s just the thing I need! Some time set aside for introspection and planning.

(Speaking of tools: Believe it or not, I’m still going back and forth on using a paper planner or not this year… sheesh! I used to be such a believer in holding something in your hands, until I realized it wasn’t working for me that well, then I switched to my phone calendar but it’s so easy to ignore or dismiss notifications there too, and I hate that I can’t get a glance-type view with it. Sigh.)

With that being said, I know many people who like to have a “word of the year” to guide their thoughts and energies. I’m not good at drilling down to a single word, but this next quote contains exactly the spirit of what I hope for this year. I want to dream big, and I hope to get better at finding the tools to make those dreams happen. And I sure could use some beautiful words to keep the fire alive!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

And I can’t forget our traditional “first morning of the year in PJs” photo 😉 Happy New Year, friends!


I’d love to hear about your favorite change/habit-forming/progress/planning tools! Paper planner? String around your finger? Multiple alarms throughout the day? Quotes? Let’s hear it!

Home Decor · Organization

How we Converted a Closet into an Office!

We did it: we finally have a home office space! And yes, it’s in a closet. We affectionately dubbed it the “cloffice.”


I’ll be honest: I’m really proud of how this turned out. This little project has solved SO many problems for us! My quality of life and efficiency has gone up so much since we finally solved this years-long no-office dilemma!

Yes, it’s a bit claustrophobic I suppose, but it works beautifully for us. This was SO worth it, it was actually really easy to put together and it has such a massive impact on our quality of life and effective use of space! This home has quite a few closets, and we’ve always had an ugly office desk sitting in our living room the last several years. We couldn’t figure out a better way though since we’ve never had enough rooms for an office — our son’s room already doubles as a guest room! And then I had a stroke of genius while scrolling through Pinterest late one night while Andrew was out of town (ha). It only took some paint, a few shelves, and some stick-on battery-powered click lamps, plus a trip to IKEA and the hand-me-down-store-of-mom-and-dad for some organizational items. And voilà! 


I just LOVE how it turned out. It would be fun to do some removable wall paper or something to pretty it up, but already it is so convenient and neat. Everything is in one spot and we have so much more space in our living room to just breathe and enjoy family time. Work is contained to this tidy little space.


A few notes on what we did:

  • There were already brackets for four shelves, so we just re-purposed one of them for the desktop and added an extra one for the smaller shelf. I measured the width and had boards cut, then painted the shelf ones. Boom, done. (Of course I first had to empty the closet and repaint it too, since we’ve been repainting the whole house… but it was a quick enough fix.)
  • We took the door off. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it if you’re going to have a computer in there and other electronics, they need room to breathe. We could put a tension rod and curtain to close it off if we wanted, but this space is pretty well-organized so looking at when I’m coming down the hallway doesn’t really bug me. 
  • We picked up the filing slots and bar with cups for pens from IKEA, as well as the white and gray floral bins above. The click lights are a battery-powered Walmart find. The batteries don’t last terribly long though so don’t forget to turn them off when not in use!
  • I used this cord protector kit (which I’ve also used in our daughter’s room in the past — it’s awesome for baby-proofing wires) to route the cord up to the printer on the first shelf, and I drilled a hole through that shelf for it.
  • Right now the computer is plugged in to an outlet just on the other side of the wall but we’re getting an outlet put in directly there so we don’t have to worry about Jonas deciding to unplug our computer!


Someday if we have a dedicated guest room, I’d love to do this in a full-width double closet for a craft room/office type of space like this or this… once again, Pinterest sure has me dreaming!

Anyway, there you have it: our new closet office!


Review: Mormon Mom Planner vs. Erin Condren Life Planner

Ok, I’m doing this because I would have found this extremely useful when trying to decide! I was not paid or anything, just wanted to share.


I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner last year, after several recommendations. That lady has a cult following and for good cause: the planners really are sweet. They have so much useful space and I love the layout. My planner served me well and made my life a lot easier, and I have loved it.

However, and this is a big BUT for me: they are expensive. When I bought one last year, I bought it at a significant discount because it was spring (I got a late start on getting my act together… #blamethebaby). This year, I really wanted to get one again but even with a $10 discount code, it was going to cost me at least $60. That is a hefty price tag.

When I was researching planners last year, I came across the Mothers Who Know (or Mormon Mom) Planner and it looked like exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, they were out of production for the rest of the year. This is a small, mom-owned business that from what I can tell is basically run out of her basement. From the website:

“I am a mother of 6 young children ranging from age 12 down to 4 months.  I enjoy being a mother and wife.  It can be very challenging trying to keep up with 7 people and their different needs and also all of the responsibilities that go along with being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

I heard a talk given by Julie B. Beck talking about deliberate parenting and also about being “Mothers who know“, like the mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors.  I believe this planner can help us reach that  goal by helping us to be more deliberate and in the know of what is happening in our own families and encouraging us to study out and seek things of a better in small and simple way.”

Does deliberate motherhood ring a bell? Just what I needed. But again, it was too late to get one. So I sort of set it aside and got an EC Life Planner, and I was thrilled with it. But now of course I would have to pay full price, and I also wasn’t really in love with the designs (well I loved some of the newer ones, but they are significant price upgrades too). So back to the Mormon Mom Planner. The price is TOTALLY reasonable ($35) and so I went for it. I am here to tell you I am completely sold! Don’t take my word for it, here’s why.

EC Life Planner vs. Mothers Who Know Planner

Size: the Mothers Who Know Planner (I’m just going to abbreviate to MWK from now on) is the same height but a bit narrower, which is nice — on the other hand that means a little less space for calendars and the layout.


The MWK one is quite a bit thicker, on the other hand. It has note pages, budget sheets, FHE plans and church notes pages at the end of every month, which I really like. You actually have to pay to get more note pages in the EC Planner!


The cover of the MWK is not as sturdy, I will say. On the other hand, it’s not an interchangeable one like the EC covers. They market that as “collect lots of covers, switch them out!” but I found it annoying because 1) it tended to pop off a bit and 2) who spends that much money to personalize and ship extra covers? I never had the desire to do it. Anyway, so the MWK cover is solidly attached but a bit less stiff.


The weekly and monthly layouts are very similar (I’m pretty sure the MWK planner is heavily influenced by the EC one) but the MWK layout is narrower. On weekly layouts you also have some extra little sections for notes, prayer and scripture charts, to-do lists, etc. I like the little prayer/scripture chart, it’s a nice visual. One big difference is the MWK planner starts the week on Sundays instead of Mondays. I hadn’t even realized it until I started using it, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that, so one thing to consider.

Each new month has inspirational quotes on each one, I like that the MWK one quotes hymns, scriptures or general authorities. The gist of why I like the MWK planner better is it fits my lifestyle better. EC Life Planners have tons of stickers mani/pedi, party and vacation stickers in the back, which is just not very useful for me… it’s tailored to the “thirty flirty and thriving” crowd, basically. And that’s fine, but it means there are a few features I have no need for. (Of course you can personalize EC stickers to say whatever you want, but again, that comes with a price increase) The MWK planner, on the other hand, already has some great tools for me personally. It has all those extra pages I mentioned above, and you can also buy their sheet of stickers with ones for Visiting Teaching, temple, date night, stake conference, etc. I actually bought just the stickers last year (those were still available) and they are really nice and minimalist.


The other thing I could see as a con for the MWK planner is it’s a bit “cutesy” decor-wise. I think the pages could be simplified (the borders are a bit much for example) and that would leave more room for content. On the other hand, it’s pretty cute 😉 And EC planners also have a lot of colors and whimsy, so there’s that.

Here’s a look at some of the unique pages in the MWK planner:

There are budget sheets, church notes sheets, FHE planners…

IMG_5904IMG_5905Monthly cover pages

Good little goal reminder pagesIMG_5907IMG_5910IMG_5911IMG_5912

LOVE this: visiting teaching trackers! And there are two pages of this for the special ones with large amounts of sisters to visit 😉IMG_5914

There are also some neat individual spouse and sibling pages at the end for birthday lists and ideas, including charts for clothing sizes, etc. There are six children pages, so if you have more, sorry, you’ve apparently had too many kids, even for a Mormon 😉

And this is a fun little bonus: Book of Mormon reading chart at the end!IMG_5915

There are also pages with copies of the Family Proclamation and Jesus the Christ near the end, always nice to have on hand. And it also has the clear zipper pocket at the back, just like the EC Planner.

Sorry if the pictures are a bit dark, I’m still learning to handle manual settings on my camera… but I figured this would be a helpful comparison for those of you who might be looking! Also there is a non-LDS version of the mom planner available, and non-mom versions as well. You can see plenty more details on their website.

To summarize:

EC Life Planner Pros

  • Large, colorful, and clean layout
  • The little clip-in ruler/bookmark helps you find your place instantly
  • Smart layout
  • Week starts on Mondays

EC Life Planner Cons

  • Expensive!!! (at least $50, not including $10 in shipping and add-ons that are pretty necessary, like the pen holder)
  • Stickers are kind of unrealistic (who needs rows upon rows of Party, mani-pedi and hair salon stickers!)
  • Detachable cover tends to pop off

Mothers Who Know Planner Pros

  • Basically has all the features of the EC planner (minus the sticker/label sheets) but with added LDS personalization. The EC planner really is awesome, but the MWK planner fits my needs better and has a lot of added value.
  • Slightly smaller (narrower)
  • Significantly cheaper ($35)
  • Awesome stickers (althought they are an extra purchase at $5)
  • Great LDS life planning tools (scripture study, gospel goals, family relationship reminders, etc)
  • Plenty of note pages included
  • You’re supporting a small business 😉
  • Cover is not detachable so it’s firmly attached

Mothers Who Know Planner Cons

  • There is a ruler, but you have to purchase it and I don’t like that it’s not clear. BUT I just pulled my EC one over, it’s still in pretty good condition and fits!
  • Week starts on Sundays
  • Slightly smaller (narrower) — it means the layout is a bit narrower too
  • The pen holder isn’t included (but it’s not terribly expensive, $4)
  • Thicker (I don’t mind, it means more good content, but I could see it being a con for some)
  • Pen holder isn’t included either