Never Say Never: My Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal is THE THING in the planning & productivity world these days.

“It’s a fad,” I said. “A bullet journal is not going to work for me.”

And then last week I went on vacation. I didn’t take my computer and I didn’t take my planner.

So I started a bullet journal in the small notebook I’d brought with me, in case I needed to write anything down.

It just seemed to make sense. And that whole index-at-the-beginning thing? A lifesaver!

My Michele Quigley Catholic planner. @franciscanmom

I’m a confirmed fan of the paper planner, and a loyal customer of Michele Quigley, whose planners I love because they are beautiful, well-made in a family business, functional and contain all kinds of useful Catholic data like the daily readings, saint of the day, quotes from saints, papal prayer intentions and more.

My Michele Quigley Catholic planner. @franciscanmom

I purchased the notebook addition for the back of the planner and use that as my “bullet journal” for work. I also have a section there for organizing book reviews, because I don’t want those to fall through the cracks (that’s not the way to stay on the good side of authors and publishers!)

I wasn’t using a bullet journal for anything else, but did have a brain-dump notebook that I used on and off through the winter and spring. That sort of fell off when summer came along.

Since I double-dog-dared Deanna Bartalini to try (and report on) using the bullet journal and have actually begun using one myself, I figure that the least I can do is play along and link up at her post.

Like Deanna, I’m not out to create a work of art here. I might use a ruler to make a vertical line–that’s it (my notebook is ruled, not graph paper). And look: I don’t even use the same color pen for everything. It’s random–and that’s OK.

My bullet journal @franciscanmom

Unlike Deanna, I’m not using this as my planner. It’s a notebook with indexed pages for whatever I need to write down at a particular time. During my vacation, I used it to track:

  • micro-reviews of books I read on the trip (7 total) for input into Goodreads after my return
  • some brainstorming for the regular feature I’ll be writing for Today’s Catholic Teacher
  • a list of dinner ideas
  • items to discuss with TheKid’s guidance counselor regarding what his classroom teachers will need to know about diabetes
  • “random airport sightings” — things that popped into my head while we sat in the San Juan airport for 6 hours. (Times like that, I wish I were a fiction writer. There was lots of story fodder going on, and I don’t mean that in an uncharitable way. Airports are fascinating places for people-watching.)

Once I let go of the idea that it had to LOOK good, I found that the bullet journal really can work for me!

Have you tried using a bullet journal? Join the linkup at and share what works (and doesn’t work) for you!

Trying out the bullet journal: Never say never @franciscanmom

Heads Up: Printable Catholic Planner Sale

The Catholic Through The Year Planner by Martina Kreitzer of Catholic Sistas is on sale today for 50% off the usual price!

I’ve reviewed this planner before, and all the things I find super useful are still in it. There are four sections, and you can choose some or all of them: Calendar, Homeschool, Blogger and Household Management. To get the full package, choose the Whole Enchilada.

Being a Hybrid Girl when it comes to planning systems, I need to write things down–and rewrite them–and rearrange them–and I like things to look nice. So the ability to reprint a page after I’ve drawn circles and arrows and crossed things out is definitely a bonus.

This planner is made to be printed out and kept in a binder (or you could take it to an office-supply store and have it spiral bound). I don’t do that. I keep mine on my clipboards–one for family-related items and one for work stuff. I also have the two-page monthly spread printed smaller, on a single page (after I figured out how to do that) and I tacked the current month and the following month onto my office bulletin board.

A previous year's meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard. Make this planner work for you!
A previous year’s meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard. Make this planner work for you!

But that’s the cool thing about this planner. You can use it any way you like–whatever works for you. The 2-page weekly spread, for example, has 3 boxes per date, and a space for you to write in your own label. It can be “Home/Family/Work” or whatever you want it to be–and it can change from week to week. For example, I don’t homeschool, but the Lesson Plan pages from that bundle can be used in a ton of other ways. Be creative!

Even at the regular price, this downloadable planner is a steal at $18 for the Whole Enchilada ($7.50 for just the calendar and $5 per bundle) but today’s 50% off price can’t be beat! To get the discount, use the coupon code for each individual product – CALENDAR, HOUSEHOLD, HOMESCHOOL, BLOGGER, or ENCHILADA for all the files to get 50% off at the Catholic Sistas store.

I love the colorful touches on the planner this year–the page borders on some sections like the monthly menu planner look like they were done in watercolor. So pretty! (That reminds me, I need to make a planner note to purchase some color ink cartridges for my printer so I can have these pages in color. I had to use black and white for them right now, which is why I’m not showing you this year’s page in the photo above.)

Go ahead over to Catholic Sistas to see lots of photos of the planner pages and purchase your copy.

The cover, though–it’s a coloring page! How cool is that? Get out your markers or colored pencils and make your planner even prettier.

Want a sample? Download some free weekly pages here. Try it out! All you need to do in return is share information about the planner with a friend or via social media. Super easy!

Photo courtesy of Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Photo courtesy of Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The Fine Print I received a review copy of the “Whole Enchilada” version of the CTTY planner and no other compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

Small Success Thursday: High-Tech Party Planning Edition

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxIt’s Small Success Thursday, and at that means we celebrate those little accomplishments that make our world go ’round!

We’re getting ready for a Double Graduation around here, so my successes are going to be party-related.


I figured out how to make a Facebook event to invite the family and friends who use that platform. That saved me a LOT in color-printing and postage costs. (Translation:  more in the party budget for delicious food!)


I made a party logo with the help of Microsoft Publisher! I think it’s pretty spiffy!

Big Brother is graduating from LaSalle and starting a job in his field at Monetate.

Middle Sister is graduating from Holy Cross High School and entering LaSalle in the fall.

one out one in

(Little Brother is not graduating at this time.)


High-tech party planning continues with the help of an Excel spreadsheet. I still hate Excel, but it really is the best way to go to keep track of all the EVERYTHING that goes into having a big backyard bash with over 100 invited guests. I’ve got the setup figured out, and data entry will take place today.

And one week from tomorrow, Big Brother will move out of his college apartment for the final time. It’s hard to wrap my head around that idea–and hard to express how very proud I am of his accomplishments. (Next week my Small Success had better include “make space in the garage or basement for Big Brother’s kitchen equipment.”)

Join us over at and share your successes for the week! No blog? No problem! Just post your successes in the comments box.

But I Switched to Decaf (well, Half-Caff, anyway)

I was having a really good (and quite productive) morning. By 10:30 AM I’d started laundry, hung one load on the line, had some “prayer and coffee” time, made my to-do list for the day, set up the kids’ chore schedule for the week, and gone to Mass, the bakery and the supermarket.8046b-michelesplanners

Then I got home and started working the phones and the planner.

I needed to call the soccer camp where we’d just registered Little Brother to clear up a few questions (such as why I’d never received an email confirming his registration, for starters).

I called the pediatrician to schedule Little Brother’s physical.

I called my gynecologist to make an appointment for my mother-in-law, who has dementia and needs to see a gynecologist (but can’t remember who her GYN is or when she last saw that doctor).

I scheduled 4 college visits in the next 3 weeks for Middle Sister.

And then I couldn’t settle down. I was so agitated that I couldn’t sit here and write. I’m having a hard time writing this, actually. I can’t get calm.

I decided to run over to the GYN’s office and pick up the new-patient packet that needs to be filled out before the appointment. Then I went to the Carter’s store to get a baby gift for my cousin’s little girl who’s being christened this weekend.

Driving home, I was still agitated and really wondering what the problem is. I’d had 2 cups of coffee today, but one was half-caff and the other decaf. Yet I feel like I’ve had a whole pot of high-test.

Then I thought about how I spent my morning. Phone calls, scheduling of appointments and college visits and other things that are going to be unsettling at the very least–no wonder I’m agitated. Anxiety is in high gear right now.

And there will be no more coffee for this mama today.

Packing List

I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I am getting us all ready to go on vacation (for the fourth summer in a row, a week in a house down the shore) I always make sure to pack my planner, a notebook or clipboard with paper, and at least one time-management/household management/motivational book.

I know I can count on at least one night of insomnia out of the seven we’ll be there. Plus I tend to wake up earlier than most family members, so I get a good amount of quiet time for thinking and planning. Little Brother’s the other early riser, but I can usually convince him that it would be fun to go back to sleep with Daddy, and buy myself a few extra quiet minutes.

It’s almost like a time for making New Year’s Resolutions. I write, make charts, and compose lists.

I’ve come to look forward to this aspect of our vacation. This year I’m reading It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh. It’s easy to read about decluttering when I’m not surrounded by all our clutter.

From the front porch of the house we’re renting, I can see the ocean. What a peaceful place to sit and plan! We’ll be there in a week–I can’t wait!

Crockpot Festival!

Barbara is hosting a Crockpot Festival at her cooking blog!

Normally I save this kind of message for my own cooking blog, but I figured that someone else might be in the same position I’m in right now. I just got Big Brother’s school calendar in the mail today, and I know the other kids’ calendar will soon follow. Then it will be the cross-country meet schedule, and basketball season, and, well, you know the drill! I’m going to need all the great ideas for slow-cooked meals I can find–and all of these are family-tested.

So despite the fact that I haven’t even finished my August menu plan, I’m using this excuse to think ahead and browse among the offerings in the Crockpot Festival. Check it out!

Lenten Penitential Meals

As the penitential season of Lent approaches, and I make my menu plans, I start thinking about what constitutes a “penitential” meal for my family.

My dad expressed it well when we were kids: “If pizza or fish is a treat, how can it be a penance?”

Maybe it’s a penance only for the one who has to budget around the extra expense of eating fish instead of less-expensive meats, or ordering a pizza?

I wouldn’t want to serve my family foods they don’t like, and call it a penance. All I’d achieve would be rebellion and wastefulness.

No one has really noticed that I’ve been serving them meatless dinners every Friday for months now. It’s pretty much become routine. Growing up, I was taught that only Fridays in Lent were supposed to be meatless (and Ash Wednesday, of course!) but I have learned lately that all Fridays are penitential days. I haven’t mentioned it–it’s just been happening here. But I bet the issue will be on the table, so to speak, the first Friday after Easter.

It’s been more of a stretch for me than for them. They eat what I put on the table. (Sometimes someone moans and groans about it, but my family generally consists of good eaters–even adventurous ones. Middle Sister likes sushi, for example.) I am the one who thinks about what to serve on which day, and I can shuffle the meal plan as events warrant, but Friday’s dinner is Friday’s dinner because that is Meatless Night.

But anyway, the issue at hand really is: if they really LIKE shrimp marinara over linguine, or Spanish Garlic Shrimp, or sauteed tilapia, or even pizza, where’s the sacrifice?

Maybe it’s time to lay this on the table with my family and see what ideas everyone comes up with.