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,


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,



Do you make New Years resolutions or have a Word of the Year? I don't, but what I do is hone-in on a few things I want to focus on, things I really feel Christ is asking me to pay extra attention to.

This year mine are: becoming Organized, remembering Sabbath, and living with Intentionality.

With those concepts in mind, I curated this New Years giveaway so you could remember those things, too!

Anchored Press Devotional Planner

I contributed Week Two's devotionals to the Anchored Press Devotional Planner and am actually doing a takeover of their Instagram page today, and their blog on Wednesday! I'm not saying this because I contributed to it, but's a fantastic must-have planner.

It's definitely different than others you'll find. I mean being fed in your life with Christ while getting your life organized? So much wisdom, so many prompts for further growth. Even if you don't win this one, I highly encourage you to order your own.

Lindsay Letters Print

Do you adore Lindsay as much as I do? This uber talented and inspiring woman's reminder to love and worship through Sabbath spoke loudly into my heart. Even if it's not on Sunday every week, we need to remember to rest and take one day of the week as The Lord's Day. I feel the deep need to remember to stop scurrying around all the time, but sit and rest. Be with my family, play games, go on bike rides, cuddle together reading a book, and just be together.

I need to do the same thing with my Lord. I need to rest in Him and be silent, allowing Him to speak into my life. Worship though rest is biblical. I need to stop thinking I'm too busy for it.

Want your own? It's on sale! Head here to put the reminder in your own home!

Bought Beautifully Necklace

After working with Bought Beautifully to build our Thanksgiving Table, I knew I wanted to stay close with them because their hearts are so in line with mine. These are difference makers striving to make an impact in the lives of others. They are living a life outside the ordinary and changing lives because of what they do in their every day, focusing on helping others while living beautifully (home + fashion).

I have a feeling you'll want to live out love just like they do.

Love the statement of life that goes along with this necklace? Purchase it here!



Head over to Instagram & Facebook feeds and follow both! (we will be checking)


Subscribe via email to (subscribing to the blog is your official entry)


Comment (on the blog) and share your focus of the year!

You're entered! Yay!


for 1 extra entry - Simply tag a friend on the Instagram post (tag as many friends as you like! 1 tag = 1 extra entry)

for 1 extra entry - Simply tag a friend on the Facebook post (tag as many friends as you like! 1 tag = 1 extra entry)

for 5 extra entries - Share the giveaway photo on YOUR Instagram feed (tagging back to @teresaswanstromanderson)

for 5 extra entries - Share the giveaway on YOUR Facebook page (tagging back to this blog post)


GIVEAWAY CLOSES 11:59PM PACIFIC TIME ON Sunday, January 15 2017.

The winner will be chosen at random (by looking at Mail Chimp's list of those subscribed to the blog) and will be announced on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, January 16.

If the winner does not provide their mailing address by Wednesday, January 18, an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck, sweet friends!!

Take Joy,


How I gather my scattered thoughts (helping my Mom-Brain)

I'm a bit scatterbrained. There, I said it. It's probably a Creatives thing, or maybe it's a too busy thing, or even an "I'm not organized enough" thing...but there it is, a bit of honesty.

Are you scattered, too? Even a little?

I'm a dreamer and doer. I listen to podcasts and books on cd. I read early in the morning and late at night. I have ideas upon ideas, but they typically happen when I'm in the shower or driving. Or perhaps when I'm slicing vegetables for dinner...and rarely when I'm at my desk ready to type out ideas and wisdom given me from the Lord.

I'll be pushing one of the kids on the swings and they'll say something and I'll think, "I need to remember that forever!" The same happens many nights as they recite sweet, too-wise-for-their-age prayers.

"I never want to forget that," I'll think. But then I do.

I've been re-reading Ann Lamott's book, Bird By Bird and within one of it's pages, I had a revelation when she said:

I have index cards and pens all over the house—by the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, by the phones, and I have them in the glove compartment of my car.

I carry one with me in my back pocket when I take my dog for a walk. In fact, I carry it folded lengthwise, if you need to know, so that, God forbid, I won’t look bulky.

You may want to consider doing the same. I don’t even know you, but I bet you have enough on your mind without having to worry about whether or not you look bulky...
So whenever I am leaving the house without my purse—in which there are actual notepads, let alone index cards—I fold an index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or for any reason worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it.

Sometimes, if I overhear or think of an exact line of dialogue or a transition, I write it down verbatim. I stick the card back in my pocket. I might be walking along the salt marsh, or out at Phoenix Lake, or in the express line at Safeway, and suddenly I hear something wonderful that makes me want to smile or snap my fingers—as if it has just come back to me—and I take out my index card and scribble it down.

This has become such an incredible concept for me!

I've used cute little notebooks forever, but they've never really worked for me. I'm rarely able to find what I'm looking for in them. Plus, half the time I put them in my bag, they end up destroyed because a sippy-cup leaked all over it and my precious ideas or notes become nothing but pretty blotches of pink and blue upon waterlogged and warped pages.

I've always been horrible at keeping a Baby Book for our kids, and by horrible...I mean I didn't do it. It seemed like too much pressure! I was in survival mode for so many years that the thought of a Baby Book put me over the edge.

But somehow an index card seems seems doable.

Now I'll listen to a devotional cd in my car and pull off the side of the road to write down someting God was impressing upon my heart. Or I'll walk the dogs and remember a conversation that would be perfect to add to my book or an idea for a blogpost.

I bought the cutest recipe box I could find and organize my thoughts and notes inside: Ideas for my book and blog. Bible study notes, Bible verses, quotes I love, notes from the seminary class I'm taking, memories, prayers I'm praying and ones the our kids pray. It's all in there. So I don't forget.

I use a soap dish to hold some in the kitchen, a plastic case for the one in my bag. I have a pen and stacks throughout the house...set out or in a drawer so I can easily take a note and move on with what I'm doing.

Though this is just a silly little thing, it's so helpful to find an simple and realistic way to purge my thoughts.

I have so much swirling through my mind at all moments of the day and night, it's allowed me to focus more...rather than actively trying to contain it all inside my tired 'ol brain. haha. Perhaps it'll work for you, too!

Take Joy,