Tips + Tricks to Get Your Schedule Under Control

People are always tell me how organized I must be since we have six kids and I have my fingers in all sorts of stuff.

Know what I whisper back? “Don’t say that in front of my husband or he’ll die laughing.”

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I’m not, you guys. I’m just not mega-organized in all aspects of my life. The biggest source of struggle for me?


But guess what…I have some fantastic tips on how to get a grip on it all!

Our kids after-school sports/activities schedule is on a separate calendar on my phone but I needed something for the every-day.

You know, so I don’t schedule trips on days they don’t have school, or don’t double book a doctor appointment on the same day I have a speaking engagement, that sort of thing. I needed to get a better grasp on things because I was drowning in double-bookings and scheduling things poorly, which wasn’t allowing me to accomplish all I needed to do.

Maybe you’re the same.

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Or perhaps it’s not work-stuff that’s bogging you down, but mom-hood in general (hand raised here!!). You know, things as simple as scheduling a get-together the night before your son’s huge science project was due (oops). Or maybe being excited your mother-in-law was coming to visit before realizing it was finals week for your oldest and they would be holed-up studying the whole time and not able to play.

A few months ago, my dear friend Lindsay Sherbondy (also known as Lindsay Letters) sent me a wall calendar unlike any I’ve ever had. A wall calendar? That’s it? That’s your amazing organizing tool?? (**yawn**) I’ve had one since high school.

No! No you haven’t!

This is different…and so is how Lindsay taught me to use it.


But here’s the thing: it’s not just what we use…but how we use it!

First of all, let’s talk about how pretty it is. Everything Linds makes is like the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. So there’s that. But you also have an opportunity to select all sorts of options so it fits perfectly in your space AND perfectly fits your needs.

  • weekly, monthly, yearly, quarterly, seasonal

  • kids schedule, kitchen (with foodie illustrations), traditional

  • calligraphy or typography

  • vertical or horizontal

  • wall-peels or framed (PS there are TONS of different framing and sizing options)

  • huge-sized, tiny-sized

  • big budget, small budget

Are you freaking out about all the options yet? I know…how do you choose, right?!

But here’s the great part: Unlike most calendars that are made of paper, this one is covered in plexiglas which means it basically lasts forever (there is also a wall-peel option, check that out too!).

After the month, quarter, year, or whatever, is over…you simply wipe it clean and start afresh!

Ok ready for some tips on how to use it to stay mega-organized??


I certainly like that dry erase and wet erase markers can be used for different purposes but what I LOVE is the ability to use more than just pens to help me remember various things. Because of the way my brain works, other materials such as washi tape, post-it notes, tags, etc easily pulls my eye toward exactly what needs to be done and highlighted… basically separating or classifying various projects and topics.


Want to understand better what I’m talking about?

Head to this quick little video and see what I mean!

What do you think? Was that helpful? I sure hope so…because it’s truly been invaluable for me! And if you’re wondering, my calendar is The Quarter Cal.

I don’t have a ton scheduled for the rest of September but I know there’s a lot of travel, etc coming up in October and November so I went ahead and started those months a little early to make sure I’m set up for success!


If you haven’t already fallen in love with Lindsay’s crazy-creativity (and her dry humor…she’s just so fun. Check out her IGstories)…then I’m so excited to have changed your life for the better.

Head here to see more of her AMAZING hand lettering and artwork!

Take Joy,


How Goodwill + Anthro made my office pretty

A week or so ago, we did a little walk-through of my newly updated I thought I'd go around and show you where things came from to show you that amazing style doesn't have to cost a TON of money!

Note: we shopped my house when redoing this room...VERY little is newly purchased! I encourage you to shop your house before buying new things. We have so much that can be used in fresh ways, right?!

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If you need a reminder of how the room looked before my friend Leah (from The Light Filled Home) worked her magic, head over here.

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Are you a fan of Goodwill? 'Cuz I sure's such a treasure-trove of fun! Did you know you can be a member and get things for even cheaper? Anyway, with my "member discount" I got this chair for $.99 when they were doing a big sale.

I'd had it by our fireplace and was most recently in Laith's room because he wanted a cozy place to read near his bookcase. We switched out my old chair with this one (so my little bookworm still had a place to read) and it was a win-win!

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I wanted loads of plants everywhere and when you enter the room, there are several right at your feet. We used this fun gold plant stand that I've used as a bookshelf for the past decade and mixed in both real and faux plants. We had tried a real one here but when I watered it, it drenched all my books (I nearly cried) so it was replaced with the faux one so I wouldn't ruin any more books.

PS see my book on the stack?! Eeeeeeeee! Happy dance! Go order it here!! 

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The plant baskets in the office are from all over. The grey and white one above is actually a trash can I found at HomeGoods. The woven one is from Ikea.

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I've seen this light allllll over instagram and have been completely obsessed. I told my friend Leah (who was helping me with the room), that we had to somehow work it into the design.

Because one can never have too many flowers, I connected these pretty crepe paper ones from Amaranthus and I'm just over the moon about it! As you can see, my light isn't even connected yet (eye roll), haha. But when this baby has light, she's gonna be perfection.

Our little neighborhood has a Facebook Garage Sale page and I snagged this cute little crate from it a year or so ago for $3.00. It's been in our Upper Room (aka TV room above the garage) but is even better here, holding paints and brushes.

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When this family devastation was brand new, Leah (my interior designer friend) and my best friend Kiesha dropped the loveliest care package at my front door. The gift was held in this fantastic vintage wire basket and I knew I had to use it for something fun. Another plant and more books makes the perfect little vignette.

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More books and more plants are seen on these leaning bookshelves (similar one found here) and I'm in absolute love how Leah styled them. This tiny gold + brass colander was in the clearance section at Anthropologie ages ago (similar one here). I had washi tape resting inside, but I love this even more! The faux plant is from Ikea (similar one here).

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More faux plants (from Ikea) and fun little details snagged from around the house! Both the candle and swan bottle opener are from Anthropologie's clearance section (these pretty details were purchased long ago...sorry I don't have links, but somewhat similar candle here).

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Another fun Anthropologie find is this teacup! A friend gave me several and I love having a little succulent inside! Darling, right?! Here and here are similar designs!

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I used to have fun vintage and Anthro-inspired plates displayed all over the house. Sadly though, through our (many!!) moves, most have broken. So now I have plate holders without any plates, haha. Leah had the brilliant idea to put my Abide sign on one. I just love it here! It was a gift from some ladies I spoke at a retreat with, so sorry I don't have a link. 

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I love when things are used in an unconventional way. See those brass candlesticks (from Goodwill) up top, left? They've been turned upside down and now hold sprigs from a plant. So fun.

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Heading over to the Studio area of my office, I just want to smile. Sighhhhh...I'm so exited to have started painting again.

And those watercolor decals (!!!!!!!) aren't they just SO FUN?! Head over to Urban Walls for all their styles. These decals, the woven pendant above my desk, and some plants are really the only things that are new. Everything else was shopped from around the house!

That dresser? $20 at Goodwill. The lamp is about 20 years old, crazily enough, and is handed down from my mom when they moved (the shade is Target). The big gold frame is from a garage sale (about 15 years ago).

We needed a pop of color and texture, so Leah hung this fun rug hanging over the door is from World Market (these are similar). It had previously been in the Upper Room, atop a side table.

An old (broken) frame from Hobby Lobby and a cream pitcher from Goodwill filled with carnations, adds whimsy to the top of the dresser that I use to hide gift wrap, paper, and odds-and-ends. 

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This great bin is from Ikea and is the perfect place to hold canvases and watercolor paper. it's surprisingly rigid and strong, though the woven texture makes it feel a bit breezy.


I am so head-over-heels for these air plants!! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)!


Aren't they so cute hanging in the window? So simple and pretty.

Btw, this is the backside of my desk. I love how there is space for the kids to sit and face me. Because it's set up this way, little Elsabet sat in the mound of pillows and was able to paint while I worked at my computer the other day.

The pillows in the window are from all over and none are new so sorry I don't have links to share. But they're all from Target, Ikea, and HomeGoods!


I loved having her so close while I worked...though she totally made such a mess. Eek.

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More stuff on my desk that makes me smile. I love that Leah used my old (still messy!!) paint palate for beneath my pens and such. So creative!! And this pretty glass pitcher is also from Goodwill...or was it a garage sale...??

I love the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop (similar easel here, though I've seen mine at Walmart lately). That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie.

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I'm a total book nerd. This collection of Bibles is a perfect base for this little vignette. The coral one is actually the box my She Reads Truth Bible came in. So though my actual Bible is downstairs where I do my morning devotions, this pretty box stays up here!

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I'm also a bit obsessed with my calendar from Lindsay Letters. Y''s amazing. You need one. They come in all sorts of sizes and frames. Check them out!!!

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My desk, file cabinet, and trash can are all from Ikea...I've had the desk and cabinet for years and am still so in love with it!

This brightly colored rug used to be in another room, too. I purchased it years ago during RugsUSA's 85% off sale. This is totally not sponsored by them...I'm just telling you as a public service announcement...go get on their mailing list. This rug was originally $1,500 and I got it for $450 + free shipping (that's even more than 85% off!!!).

Your floors can thank me later.

Am I missing anything? Are there any items you'd like to find out where I found? Let me know!!

Take Joy,


My new office!!!! (before + afters)

I am SO crazy excited to share some before and after photos of my office today. It's a weird space because it's actually a walk-through that takes you from the landing at the top of the stairs, into our Upper Room (or rec room) over the garage.

I have no idea what the previous owners used it for, but here's what it looked like when we moved in...

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Did you know that there wasn't a stitch of white in this entire house when we moved in? Not even the doors, trim, and ceiling. I know these photos make it look white, but it was really more of a dingy-whiteish-peach color.

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Ok, ready for the after?! I know, me too...but you're gonna have to wait just a minute so I can show you the before-ish after. In other words, how I had it for three years after moving in.

As you'll see, it's certainly better, but I always felt it was missing something. It felt thrown together, it felt disjointed. For some reason, I was completely stumped on this space.

Better...but still far from the AFTER!

I spent most of my days working from the little table by the window. A friend gave me two of them when they were redoing their cabin (the rug was also a free treat from that friend). When I closed my eyes, I'd imagine it to be a bistro table on the sidewalk in Paris or something. Cheesy perhaps...but I really pretend like that. (I just ache to travel again. Sigh...someday)

I loved being next to the big window because the room gets the most glorious afternoon sun. The problem was though, it wasn't totally the right height for my chair and was too small to really spread out and work from (when I research, I have books strewn all over the place).

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

When my friend Leah (founder of The Light Filled Home) mentioned being willing to help me rework the space, this is what I texted her:

Basically, I want somewhere that just oozes creativity. I want clean and simple but with bold pops and a touch of boho.

I CANNOT figure out how to do boho. AT ALL. Anytime I attempt it, it looks stupid (eye roll).

BUT, I love when others pull it just feels cozy and lived in.

Words to describe the space:

Playful, Clean, White yet pops of color, Creative, Full of Story

So with that in mind, Leah told us to grab some Dove White at Home Depot and start painting while she grabbed her sharpie and started brainstorming ideas. Sweet Imani was happy to help (while we sang and danced to the Descendants soundtrack over-and-over-and-over...)


I've learned so much from Leah during this process...check out how she decides where to place frames! Painters tape?! Amazing.

Want to know how I decide where to hang things?! I put 500 nail holes in my wall and hope at some point, I'll get it in the right spot. hahaha (please tell me I'm not alone)


Because we have both had sick kids the past few weeks, the project took a little longer than we planned and it sat halfway done for a while. A week or so ago, I finally texted Leah this little video with some progress and thoughts (see video-text below).

Finally our kids were well again...and because Caleb from Unmutable was flying in to do video work for my upcoming book trailer, etc we knew we had to get going and finish. Mere days before Caleb arrived for the big shoot, the room was complete.

And I'm still freaking out over how beautiful it is (ignore the light wires though...still working on that part)!

Ok...ready?? Here we go!!!


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Ok so I forgot to tell you something important about the design... I told Leah I didn't really want to buy anything.

I wanted her to shop my house and use what I already have.

We pulled things in from other rooms, ransacked closets and the basement. The only items I purchased were plants, baskets, and the awesome light above my desk (which still needs to be connected).

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I really wanted a pop of something on a portion of the walls, but didn't feel wallpaper was the right look for this space. We were SO thrilled when Urban Walls told us they wanted to work with us because these amaaaaaaazing decals are THE perfect addition, don't you think?! 

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I love how some were placed up slightly onto the ceiling, too!

In case you're thinking this room cost lots of $$ to decorate, I want to share a little secret with you...most of it came from Goodwill, Target, garage sales, and clearanced/sale items from shops I have a feeling you totally frequent.

I'll chat about where the decor items and furniture are from in another post, but remember...this space is almost entirely designed with stuff I already had. It's just displayed differently!

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Do you see my book up there next to the Prayer Changes Everything sign?! Shhhh...I'm not officially sharing this yet, but you can preorder it on Amazon!

**I'm not really announcing it yet because we're waiting for the preorder goodies to be compiled and completed. Hold on to your digital receipt if you order it now so you can still get the goodies...they're really fun, you'll want them!!**

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I'm still pinching myself that Beautifully Interrupted is almost out! So surreal!!! But I digress...


How cute are these little guys?! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)! They're now hanging in the window.


I love using unexpected items around the home. This little glass pitcher is perfect for pens and my old palette full of paint I forgot to clean off 'till it was dry and too stuck to scrub off is a fun pop of texture for beneath and the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop. That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie (btw she's doing floral for my book's Launch Team gifts! more on that soon, too!)

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I'm in absolute love with how the bookcase is styled now! It's still organized according to subject like I'd wanted/needed for writing and researching, but Leah made is look so much better.

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I'm obviously in love with swans since Swanstrom is my maiden name and adore how my logo (painted by my dear friend Amy Kavs) is highlighted front and center! And those vintage brass swans are perfectly placed right below (next to that adorable succulent from our grocery store, of all places!).

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And how great is this idea to place a (faux) succulent into a teacup from my collection? I'm definitely going to copy this next time I need a gift!

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This Abide sign was gifted to me by a group of incredible ladies I had the honor of speaking to in Royal Oaks, MI last year. I don't know why I never thought of putting it on a shelf with a plate holder! I looooove it here!

And can you see off to the right-hand side how a little brass and gold colander is used to hold a faux plant? (I know it's just barely shown, but is too cute to ignore!) So creative.

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I found the live plants at Home Depot, Walmart, and our local grocery store...but admittedly, we mixed in a few faux plants as well! If you don't have a green thumb or can't find the right plant, why not mix fake ones in?!

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I'm so excited to share this calendar with you. I've really been trying to become more organized since the new year began. I'm going to be sharing more on my sweet friend Lindsay Letters' calendars in the next few weeks as I reveal organization tricks + tips for us ladies who aren't naturally that way.

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I cringe at telling you this but it's a struggle for me to be organized. Like REALLY struggle horribly with living organized. I don't mean a clean house...I mean an organized life in general. Schedules, intentionality, that sort of thing. These past several months though, I've realized how much less stress I feel because I'm consciously working on it.

That's a whole 'nother blog post so more on that coming soon!

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From dark and serious...bright and happy!

I'm definitely inspired here!

Can't wait to share more on Lindsay's calendar, organization, and how I made that cool paint brush art piece next to my easel! Stay tuned!

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My favorite part (other than now having space for my easel) is I still get to work in that big bright window!

It never occurred to me to carry my big desk and fit it in next to the window fits perfectly...and now the kids can sit facing me, snuggled in all the pillows and draw on opposite side of the desk while I'm working. I love it so much.

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What do you think? What's your favorite part of the redo?

Take Joy,


5 fall entertaining ideas


I absolutely love the idea of a Soup Bar!! Release yourself of the guilt of not having time to make the soup from scratch though, and simply purchase it pre-made from your favorite restaurant or grocery store. Once they're poured into soup tureens, no one will ever know the difference!

I have a tureen nearly identical to the one on the far left (see top photo), which was handed down years ago from my mom...but I see them all the time at Goodwill, too!

Places like HomeGoods and Amazon are also great sources (here are some timeless white ones) without spending big bucks.

Why not substitute bowls for mugs or even tea cups? It's so much easier to hold and sip while chatting with friends, especially if there are too many folks over to sit comfortably at the table. You don't even have to put out spoons, if you didn't want to!


Table scape is like the frosting of the dinner party...and I love out of the box table decor.

Leave it to Elle Decor to give us ideas on how to use typical fall items and turn them as far from kitchy as possible! Just love these! Head here for a gallery full of additional ideas!


I love that autumn means earthy, hearty food. Listen to the girls over at Apartment 34 share the key to a gorgeously simple table such as this one!

Create a humble feast. For our happy hour we decided to create the charcuterie board of champions. But again the task required little else than a power shopping trip at Trader Joe’s and an epic 3-foot long wood board. Cured meats, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles, fresh berries & figs, dried fruit, nuts and our little trade secret – fresh flowers created a truly stunning display. Piling everything high makes your board so pretty you almost don’t want to dig in and mess it all up. Almost.

Head over to The Pioneer Woman as she guides us through her version of assembling the perfect fall cheese board!


Why not continue enjoying your backyard until it gets too chilly to do so! Like these ladies, I love bringing my indoor dining furniture outside for the evening. And seriously loving the greens and flowers just draped atop the plaid covered table.

How cute are these Champagne Pomegranate Cocktails? This Backyard Fall Campfire Party looks so seriously fun!


Speaking of plaid, I'm definitely going to remember this photo the next time I'm entertaining. These might be picnic blankets...but they may also be scarves! How many cozy plaid scarves do we have in our closets? Probably enough to cover a table with, right? Brilliant. Seriously fantastic. I just love it.

Do you have any fall entertaining ideas you'd like to share? Which of these is your favorite?

Take Joy,