My current 5 favourite stationery finds

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

Today let’s talk about my favourite 5 stationery finds.

I have written about three of these on the blog before but it’s nice to know if someone is still using the thing they recommended two years ago, isn’t it? :)

Right, let’s get to it:

  1. Pentel 0.7 mm liquid gel pens

I spoke about them here and I included one in each Let’s Do This workshop pack, and the delegates agreed with me – these are indeed the best pens in the world.

I still love them.

Warning – if you use them at work, label your pens because they might find feet.

My favourite colours are the pink and orange, and the sky blue.

 

2. Staedtler Wopex pencils

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.comfavourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

I’m not really a pencil person but I bought this pack because the colours were bright and happy, and then once I opened the pack, I realised they feel amazing to the touch.

I’m a very tactile person and these pencils have a bit of stick to them and they almost feel magnetic when you grab the whole bunch.

Not that that’s a reason to buy a pencil, but if you like pencils, then I think you’ll love this part.

And then they write really well – dark colour, soft and smooth lead, and still strong.

I bought my pack at CNA for about R25.

3. Bic wax highlighters

I wrote a whole post on these and I still love them, so read all about them here.

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

4. Staedtler triplus fineliners

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

I see people colouring with these pens but I use them for normal writing of lists in notebooks and in my diary. My favourite part? All the bright colours…. and apparently they’re dry safe. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m not taking a chance.

5. Staedtler metallic markers

favourite stationery finds | www.organisingqueen.com

I wrote about these too before and they are still one of my favourites. I “play” with the kids when they draw and craft, and I doodle with my metallic markers, make cards, etc.

I found these recently at Pick and Pay on sale for R20 a pack – a bargain, I think.

Tell me, what are some of your favourite stationery finds?

8 interesting talking points in “I know how she does it”

This is part 3; here is part 1 and here is part 2.

  1. Women typically make their lives more difficult than they need by not using their affluence.

In South Africa, I think if you can afford it, most people happily have a domestic worker. I’m not sure many of us have hang-ups about using the money we have to make our lives easier. Agree? Disagree?

I think in cases where we “make our lives more difficult” it’s because of our values coming into play. An example of mine is how I personally made all the babies food their whole lives. More work, but I didn’t do it for financial reasons although the money savings were a nice side-benefit.

2. You can work 44 hours a week (a very standard week) and still feel unbalanced.

I agree. I think the unbalanced feelings come from unmet expectations and poor boundaries. I also think that the unbalanced feeling is from the real or imagined expectation that there is no flexibility to your day. I would personally hate to have to ask for permission to go to a parents’ evening at 4, and I know I’m not alone here. How much better to structure your day to still meet all your outcomes and attend to these parenting events?

I know how she does it | www.OrganisingQueen.com

3. There is a huge career and financial disadvantage to officially switching to part-time work

Rather ask for forgiveness than permission to attend to personal errands.

She mentions that women often ask for this permission whereas men just take it. Women are also the ones who have the tendency of moving towards part-time work.

4. You don’t build the life you want by saving time; you build the life you want and then time saves itself.

Sometimes narratives serve no purpose beyond keeping you from the life you want.

What is a deeply-held value and what is merely a script you memorised long ago?

I know how she does it | www.OrganisingQueen.com

5. Childcare is not an expense; it’s an investment in your lifelong earning potential.

I’ll admit I used to think like this. If what you earn will more or less just cover childcare expenses, and your expenses to be at work, then what is the point of working?

… only if you don’t enjoy or need to work. needing to work is not just financial, by the way. I love working to be useful, for the interaction with people, to use my skillset and oh yes, I get money too.

But childcare costs fall over time. Of course, if you educate your kids privately, costs increase exponentially.

6. 3 or more years out of the workforce for women means that they lose 37% of their earning power over the remaining decades.

That’s a lot of money to think about.

Some people think it’s wrong for women to think about money independently from men. I think it’s wise. We’ve heard too many stories about women having to radically change their lifestyle due to divorce, death of a spouse, etc. And in the Bible, did the Proverbs 31 women not keep herself busy and contribute to her family’s income?

(disclaimer – not only am I passionate about finances, but I also work in financial services, so this is a subject close to my heart :))

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7. If you think you have no leisure time, start a binge-worthy series (TV or books). Leave books around and you’ll be entitled to read it.

True – I had to read 10 books in December to reach my reading goal, didn’t think I had the time but I did it. I did spend less time on Instagram and other social media so there’s that…

Is Pinterest (or for me, Instagram) really where you want to spend your leisure time?

8. Look at your work day and build leisure in. Meet a friend for lunch. Take a walk.

To me, this has always been a great way to maximise time at work. I often meet friends for lunch and I’m hoping to start a walking habit one day a week, during lunch. Hopefully I don’t melt during summer.

I’ll add something to that – eat lunch at your desk and meet a friend straight after work or on the way home. If you leave just half an hour early, meet a friend for an hour, that will be a 30-minute longer day but you’ll have done something fun and intentional too.

Which was the insight that most made you think/ have an aha moment?

I know how she does it | www.OrganisingQueen.com

[Goals] my January review

Well, that was January.

It feels like the month passed so quickly but it may be due to me being on holiday for half of it :)

January goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Pringle Bay, place for your soul to breathe

 Here were the highlights:

We went on a holiday to Cape Town. Ah, best ever. I’m very, very thankful for the first four peaceful and calm days in Pringle Bay before a flurry of doing, friending and sightseeing in Cape Town proper.

I went on a fabulous free walking tour of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town. It was such a hot day but well worth taking the time to do it. One of my favourite things of the holiday.

January goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Bo-Kaap walking tour

I had nine socials this month, five of those in Cape Town, which I’m very pleased about. I got to see all except one set of friends – yay!

And then right back into getting the kids to Grade 1! Two and a half weeks in and they seem to have settled in nicely. Homework is now a daily requirement and we’re figuring out the best rhythms for our family.

January goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I’ve also settled into work nicely. So many people have said those days of South Africans doing “nothing” in business for December and Jan are long gone, and I have to agree. Every year seems to get busier but I’ve resolved to create/ maintain some good work habits (maybe I should blog those?) which should make things easier.

January has been a great reading month – I finished 7 books, 2 of them non-fiction, so that’s looking good for the year ahead.

How was your January? What went well, what didn’t? Did you set goals?

(on our walk yesterday, I helped the kids set 4 goals each for February. Start them young, is what I say ;))

And now, I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunset while I set my own goals for the month ahead.

January goals | www.OrganisingQueen.com

PS Are you subscribed to my new list? I’m sending out a monthly review form a little later to help you as you think about January.

Popular posts this month and a few weekend links

If you’re not already signed up to my new newsletter, you might want to do that. On Monday we’re sending out a monthly goals review form.

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Peek inside my gorgeous new handbag

The brown bag | www.OrganisingQueen.com

Things that worked for my year-long photo project

My word of the year for 2016

I know how she does it – a great insight from the book, and then 5 things where I didn’t agree with the author

Our favourite kids’ stationery items – and I will do part 2 and my favourites in Feb. Pinky promise :)

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And then a few good links I found around the web:

A word on toys from Practising Simplicity

and an older one, also from the same blog, on a word she’s not using this year

The not-so-secret secret to a happy life

Happy weekend, everybody.

3 things I’m doing differently with my goals this year

This year I decided to be a bit more intentional about my word of the year. My monthly goals night is already a solid habit in my life and if I incorporate the word of the year business into that process, it should make the whole thing seamless and easy.

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www. OrganisingQueen.com

In terms of goals themselves, I have three main areas I’m focussing on this year:

  1. God
  2. Relationships – Dion and kids, extended family and friends, and me
  3. Health and fitness

Here’s what I’m doing differently this year:

1. Adding an additional goals category for my word of the year

This year, when I set goals, I’m thinking about them in 4 parts – the three areas above, and joy as a fourth category.

Isn’t that a great idea? :)

I no longer want to have busy goals but meaningful goals and the ones that are habits are now off the list.

This month, I consciously set goals in each of those categories and in the joy category asking my 5 questions:

  • how can I bring joy?
  • what will bring me joy?
  • where do I need to choose joy?
  • does this spark joy? and
  • what can I do to eliminate things that steal joy?

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www. OrganisingQueen.com

2. Align books to read to goals

The other day I came across Valerie’s post on her blog and I see she links the books she’s going to read to her goals.

What a great idea for non-fiction.

Last year my non-fiction/ fiction ratio was 20:50. I don’t intend to do this fully because I really like space for spontaneity, especially with reading. Still… I do think it’s a good idea for at least some non-fiction books to be aligned to my goals.

3 things I'm doing differently with my goals | www. OrganisingQueen.com

3. Write out my goals by hand

I’ve long since said, especially when I ran the workshops, that there’s something special that happens when you write down your goals.

(Anything is better than not even getting them down, but writing is better than typing)

There’s a connection in your brain and it’s as if you’re committing even more to the process.

Also, if you tend towards crazy like I do, you’ll quickly realise that having 30-odd goals a month is a bit much. But in my defence, you don’t feel it when you’re typing….

My new diary has only 12 lines on each month’s goals page which is possibly a sign that I should slow down and enjoy the process more.

So I wrote out my goals on those 12 lines this month and I like it already.

There you go – the three things I’m doing differently this year with my goals.

Are you doing anything different with your goals this year?

It’s not too late for your goals

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There are two schools of thought on starting goals on 1 January.

  1. One group says things like 1 January is just a day; if I want to change something, I’ll just do it.
  2. The other group gets ready for 1 January and dives in.

Which group are you in?

Someone at work actually asked me what the big deal is about the day?

I thought about it for a few days and came back to her.

There is nothing special about the chronological day; after all any day is much the same and all have 24 hours. BUT there is a big psychological shift around 1 Jan.

  • The whole world (or it seems like it) is getting ready for change so you might as well get swept up in all that positive momentum.
  • There is also a certain excitement about a fresh, clean slate. A new calendar, a different diary, putting the past in the last year and starting afresh.

So then, what happens when life carries on and you’ve “missed the 1 Jan boat”?

You start whenever you can.

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Let me share some of my story.

I told you before that I use 3 different workbooks to wrap up the old year and start off my new year. Here’s what worked in 2015.

  1. I started with my own one (which is still available) to set a good example. Also, it’s the shortest so it creates some good momentum.
  2. Then I moved onto Susannah Conway’s one (link above) and finished the “closing off 2015” section before the end of the year. While I was on holiday, I started and finished the intention-setting for 2016.
  3. I didn’t properly get going on the Shining Life workbook til we were back from our holidays. I did the 2015 reviews last weekend, and then started all the 2016 goals. I finished the whole thing this last weekend (Saturday night 1 am!).

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Confession 1 – I wondered if there was going to be any point to it seeing as we’re in the last part of January.

Then I remembered that the very first year I bought the workbook which is about 5 years ago, I bought in August, started there and then, and the exercise was still useful.

So of course doing this year’s one this late was also going to be useful.

We all know this… but sometimes (a lot of the time) it’s a good idea to give yourself a little talking-to.

Confession 2 – I planned to dip in and out of the workbook, and get to other things later. This is more my style – I am definitely not a perfectionist.

But as I started working through the workbook, I was having SUCH FUN that I did each and every exercise (except the two oracle reading pages which I pull out and toss).

(the key is to do it once the littles are sleeping and the husband is watching a DVD)

I’m so glad I took the time to think through everything properly, working on my bright yellow desk with some of my favourite stationery.

(I’ve just realised I haven’t talked about my yellow desk here but don’t worry – I will remedy that soon – it deserves its own post)

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This gave me such clarity and such amazing insights… I’m sure I’ll share more as the year progresses.

You can get your copy here. I like the digital copy because I get it immediately!

Whether you use any of the 3 workbooks I mentioned, or you do your own version, it’s not too late to close off 2015 properly and start this year.

Make a date with yourself and do it.

Have you done a 2015 review? Have you set 2016 goals? Why or why not?

Our 5 favourite items of kids’ stationery – part 1

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

A friend once joked that visiting my house was like visiting a stationery shop. It’s kind of true – the kids even ask if they can “shop in my cupboard” :)

I’ve always loved stationery and they love it too.

I think because of that I like to buy new things “for the kids” 😉 If I like the stuff, we keep buying it; if not, we move on.

We’ve tried all sorts of crayons, markers, pencil crayons, pastels (oooh, pastels – we all LOVE pastels) and these are our absolute favourites:

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

  1. Staedtler markers

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

We received our first pack of these (12-pack) at the end of 2012 and we have about 6 left that still work. These things never go dry. The big packs cost R70 at Pick and Pay and are WELL worth it. I tell everybody to not waste time with any other markers – buy a big pack of these.

Obviously the packet is long since in the bin but because we’ve lost/ dried some of ours, I saw these small packs of 6 at CNA the other day for R20 each. A bargain. Go get some!

2. Bic soft colouring pencils

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.comFavourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

I discovered these about three years ago and guys, the heavens sang. They are delightful to use – soft and so easy. You won’t want to stop.

I love that they’re nice and wide for little (and my) fingers and they come in a box with a pencil sharpener which I appreciate. They’re R17 a box and if I give a colouring book for a present, I usually add one of these boxes too.

Go get yourself a box – and come tell me how much you love using them.

We’ve had fancy pencil crayons (Melissa and Doug), and everything in between, and these are the ones my kids love the most.

My one and only gripe is that they only come in boxes of 8.

3. Oil pastels

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

I personally like Staedtler’s three-sided pastels the best but my kids used these Colleen ones at school last year and so my Staedtler ones have been rejected (left to me!)

The kids tell me they like the way they shade without making their fingers dirty :)

4. Roll-up crayons

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

My kids aren’t fussy about these crayons – they like any brand.

I’ve bought sets of 8 in a pack and bigger packs like these – they like them all. This set has gold, silver crayons too which particular delighted my two.

You need to put strong boundaries in place because my children like to twist the entire crayon out, the crayon breaks and then you can’t roll it back in again.

5. Marlin metallic pencil crayons

I’ve only ever seen these Marlin ones at a small stationery shop in an even smaller shopping centre. I bought my box for R12 which was a mistake because next time I went back they were about R30.

These go very nicely with the metallic markers from Staedtler or Rolfes.

Remember you can buy a pad of black paper or cardstock and suddenly the world is a happier place because you’re writing in fun colours that stand out so beautifully on the dark paper.

Favourite stationery for kids | www.organisingqueen.com

Now you can see I can talk about stationery all the day long. Would you like me to do more posts like this?

Chances are if it exists, I’ve tried it 😮

I do have one more planned for kids – a part 2 to showcase some more stuff we love and basically how I keep them entertained a lot of the time. And maybe one with MY favourite stationery :) We might need a part 1 – 3. Ha!

What are your kids’ favourite stationery?

PS do you know how you remember if stationery is with an e or an a? Envelopes start with an e :)

How to not be annoyed – A Rising Strong review

While we’re on the subject of stories we’re telling ourselves, I also listened to Brene Brown’s Rising Strong recently.

To my mind, one of the key points is this: what is the story I’m telling myself about such-and-such situation?

For instance, a colleague could continually do their work late which means that you have to work late to complete a report. The story you tell yourself is that they’re doing this just to annoy you. The idea is that you have a conversation with them and say “the story I’m telling myself is …”    Then they will say that they’re just landed new deals, blah blah, and then you all realise no one is out to get you, it’s all in your mind, and everyone is well afterwards.

Granted, I work in an environment that is not touchy-feely at all so this will never go down there :)

However, I have done this in my mind about work and friendship stuff, and it’s quite useful.

Like, the story I’m telling myself how a particular person is inconsiderate. Then I think, “what might actually be going on?” Maybe they’re busy, maybe they have other things going on, etc.”

And then you get less annoyed which is always a useful thing.

She talks a lot about husband/ wife stuff in the book which is great.

Read if you want! Nothing tops Gifts of Imperfection though :)

Interestingly (to me), Liz Gilbert and Brene Brown are friends, and Liz had Brene on her podcast where they spoke about the writing of this book. There is an archetype of the tortured writer which most people buy into, and Liz sets this thing firmly on its head in her book, Big Magic. So apparently Brene heard about this concept that creating can actually be fun and joyous, and she wrote this book in a completely different way.

She retreated with friends and spoke to them for 3 days solid, that was transcribed and then edited and voila! A book.

SO DARN CLEVER!

Have you read Rising Strong? What did you think?

How to successfully do a year-long photo project

Last year, aside from my usual goals, I had two new projects:

  1. The 52 Project (a photo of my kids once a week)
  2. 52 walks in 2015 (with a camera, either Canon or iphone)

Both of these photo projects were very successful and as I’m starting this new year, I wanted to reflect back and share what made them so successful for us:

!52 walks in 20151-001

1. Think about what really is doable for you

I’ve tried to do a daily, 365-day project and that was a disaster for me. I ended up taking photos of my book in bed for far too many days, and it was a complete chore instead of fun.

If you want to do a daily project though, go for it.

Weekly has always been a good thing for me. I do weekly planning and to fit in a weekly photo project seemed like an easy addition.

However, if weekly stresses you out, then what about a monthly project? Link it to something you do anyway (grocery shopping, banking, paying a particular bill, going to the library) and you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it.

Don’t look at what everyone else (on Instagram) is doing – do what will work for you.

2. Make it easy

My 52 project (have a look at my Instagram hashtag #kandc52project2015 is simply a photo a week. Not a pretty photo a week, or a photo where kids are smiling (I actually don’t like the cheesy smiley photos) or a photo where kids are clean. It’s easy because when I’ve finished my book on a Sunday afternoon, I say, “let’s go and take our Sunday photo”, and off we go.

The 52walksin2015 was just to get out and take a walk. I didn’t tell myself it had to be 30 minutes, or uphill, or all of us had to go. Easy. Most of those walks were me and the twins, and some just me with one baby. I’m glad I made it easy especially because we had heat waves from September and we still got out to do our walks.

!the52project2015

3. Have clear boundaries

My boundaries were Sundays,  kids together and quickly. In the beginning it took about 20 minutes, these days it takes us less than 5 minutes. We take our pics in the afternoon, within a few minutes, and it’s done. I like them outside because my photos are better in natural light, but if it was raining, we took them inside.

It also helps that we have a little snack afterwards so everyone wants to get on with it to get to the snack.

If I say 5 minutes, it’s 5 minutes. The kids will trust you if you keep to your word. I also let them take pics of me with a sister/ brother because let’s face facts – it’s much more fun actually taking the pics than being in the pics.

4. Keep your expectations low

I was away from the kids for two Sundays so we have 50 instead of 52 pics. No big deal.

I know that if I had to do pics separately of each kid, the chances were not good that I’d get my picture every week.

This is not a 45-minute photoshoot – nobody has the patience or energy for that every week. Take some photos quickly so

5. Stay organised

So you’ve got your pics, now what? My best tip of all is get organised – download often and label well. I have a sub-folder for each “event”, e.g. 1701 Sunday pics 3-52, and then I have a 2016 The 52 Project folder where I do a Save As and name the photo 1, 2, 3, etc. for the weeks of the year. I keep track of these dates on an Excel sheet (finally – a use for Excel besides budgets :)) – type the first 3 dates, highlight all 3 and drag down the column til you reach the end of the year. Do the same in the next column 1, 2, 3, highlight all and drag down. Like this.

Date Week
03-Jan 1
10-Jan 2
17-Jan 3
24-Jan 4
31-Jan 5
07-Feb 6
14-Feb 7

doors of Cape Town

This year I’m doing another 52 Project for the kids and again, 52 walks in 2016. This will be the 3rd year we hit 52 walks which thrills me :)

I’m going to also live my word, Joy, a little and see if any short-term photo projects take my fancy, and then indulge those for a bit.

I was in Cape Town and when I saw all the beautiful doors, I decided to do a little Doors of Cape Town project. I have 28 doors taken with the Canon but I think I have a few with the iphone too. That will make a fun collage once I edit those photos properly.

I also want to play a bit more with black and white photography, and I really am hoping that this will be the year I finally get to teach a fun photography class at my/ someone’s house, and lead a photowalk :)

Let me know if you’re interested.

Now tell me, have you decided on a photo project for the year?

Konmari tweaks

I’ve blogged a lot about how I love the Konmari method of “tidying up”. I’ve also lived with the method for about 5 months so I can now see what’s still working and what’s not.

By the way, this tweaking is a normal part of organising.

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1. While I love the uprightness of my clothes, when you take things out to wear, some of the clothes “collapse” and I’m really not into the untidiness that presents.

Am I willing to use up more space just for the sake of 2 – 3 t-shirts that now are a bit more wrinkled than normal? Probably not.

Also, to be fair, the clothes at the bottom of the piles were also subjected to more creases when I used to organise the standard way.

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2. I eventually separated out my sleeveless t-shirts from the normal sleeves, and the work t-shirts from the casual t-shirts

I don’t know my clothes well enough (or it could be that I have too many grey t-shirts?!) so I couldn’t tell from the top if they were sleeveless and I’d pull them out, and then have to navigate the pile again to shove the incorrect t-shirt into the vertical pile.

This is nothing in the grand scheme of life, but it is a toleration. And most of us could do with fewer tolerations.

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3. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of the nail polish

The nail polish has been the hardest thing to “tidy up”. I truly love lots of bright colours. However, I do remember from listening to her book that she likes to apply logic to things. So realistically speaking, if I change my nail polish every 4 – 5 days, I could use 73 applications in a year. If I only apply each colour two times a year, that’s 37 bottles I need (I have more than that but I’m not telling you how much!).

Anyway, so the goal is 30 :) Because there are those I LOVE during winter (dark colours), and those I LOVE during summer (pastels and bright colours). And a few standard colours for my toes.

If I’m brave, I may show you the nail polish progress.

How are you doing with Konmari, a few months in?

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