mindful living, effortless style

Can you guys believe it’s nearly November already?! You know what that means… time to start thinking Christmas shopping. Although the process can be overwhelming, it can also be a lot of fun hunting down the most exciting, enticing and developmentally appropriate toys for your littles.

I know I always feel a great sense of anticipation and accomplishment when I’ve finally settled on my top picks and placed my order.

To help you get a jump on things this year, one of our all-time favorite purveyeers of handmade toys and long-time MPMK sponsor, Mama May i is here today bearing gifts of their own…

Visit Mama May i & use the exclusive coupon code: MPMKLOVE for $5 off $30 or more!

Coupon excludes shipping, cannot be combined, and expires end of November… Here’s our contributor Alli showing off her favorite Mama may i find.

I love handmade toys. I mean, LOVE. When my firstborn was a baby, I had this fear that he would come to loathe wooden toys…because that’s all I would buy him!

Fortunately for us, that’s not been the case. Quite the opposite, actually. Not only do both of my sons love classic-style toys, but they are the only toys that seem to withstand their – well – vigor, shall we say?

So when we had the opportunity to review a toy from Mama May i, I leaped at the chance.

We were so excited to get our Shoot for the Rainbow Play Set in the mail. And from that point on, it was pretty much impossible to Read More

I don’t know about you guys but it’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here lately! Along with turning 6 (what?!?!) my oldest lost his first and his second tooth.

He opted to leave the first tooth for the Tooth Fairy but to keep the second. I lived for Tooth Fairy visits when I was his age so I couldn’t quite fathom this idea but, hey, to each his own. This led to a rousing discussion on how much $$$ the Tooth Fairy leaves on the MPMK facebook page.

Also this week, I shared 20 Treats Perfect for “Booing” Your Neighbors. Do you do this in your ‘hood? If you do, then you know it takes the perfect compact, portable and yummy treat – all 20 of these finds fit the bill perfectly.

Until next week!

P.S. Don’t forget MPMK readers can enjoy $5 off their purchase exclusively at Munchkin.com using the code: MPMKXMCK. The coupon is valid for U.S. residents only and expires November 30, 2014.

I’ve got something great to share with you guys today. In an effort to continue to fill our photography & memory making section with do-able ideas for busy parents, I’ve persuaded Andrea Genevieve Michnik from the Tiny Prints Blog share with us a really lovely family tree project.

You can do this one on your own or with the kids and there’s even a free printable template to make sure you can’t mess it up. That’s my kind of project!

Here’s Andrea…

Teaching kids about their heritage is a great idea during the family-centric holiday season, and making it a hands-on activity only takes a few simple supplies.

With this easy project, you can get everyone involved at your next holiday gathering, or create a family tree to put on display for aunts, uncles and grandparents to see when they visit. Family trees also make great gifts!

Just download the free printable template, print a few family photos and gather some supplies from your local craft store to be all set to make your own. Read More

If you’ve never heard, can I introduce you to the concept of ‘dump cake?’  While the name is quite unflattering, the concept is genius! 

The cake consists of several pantry ingredients and some eggs…involves a few stirs and about an hour in the oven.  And all the busy moms rejoiced!  Any time I have to make a dessert on the fly, it’s a dump cake.

This particular cake is of the pumpkin variety.  And hold the term cake loosely, because this tastes like a pumpkin pie married a cobbler and had a baby.  The pumpkin pie layer holds up, but there’s no flour in the mixture to make it a true cake.

Either way, serve it with ice cream and you’ll have everyone cheering your name. Read More

Our resident professional organizer, Annie, is here today with our latest Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life post.

She’s going to help you tackle your kitchen in 5 manageable steps. Do one a day and by the end of the week you’ll have the organized kitchen of your dreams!

Every project seems daunting until you break it into small, manageable parts. Regardless of how badly your kitchen needs decluttering or how intimidated you’ve been to begin, today’s post is designed to get you going and show you how easy it can be if you take it one project at a time.

Day 1 – The Tupperware

If there’s one category of belongings in the kitchen that’s consistently an issue for people it’s tupperware. Tupperware is picked up rather thoughtlessly at the grocery store to begin with. The collection quickly gets added to with restaurant take-out containers, grocery store salad bar tubs, and so on, and simultaneously loses a few parts here and there to doling out leftovers at social gatherings.

The constant state of food storage flux means you’re probably the (not so) proud owner of bottoms without tops, tops without matching bottoms, and total head-scratchers, whose origin you have no clue about. Read More

Hey everyone, how’s your week going? Mine has been crazy busy!

Mostly, I’ve been working like a madwoman on updating all 10 of MPMK’s Infamous Toy Gift Guides for Christmas. Yes, that’s right, Christmas – already!

(Psst – I’m updating them as I go this year. That means some of the guides like,”Best Toys for Building S.T.E.M. Skills in All Ages“, “Best Toys for Babies“, and “Best Building & Construction Toys” already have some new additions… Go check ‘em out if you’re dying to see what’s fresh this year!)

So – of course – the kids got sick. It always happens at the worst possible time, doesn’t it?

The combination of sick kids and a hectic work schedule left me in need of some serious comic relief, so I vented some of my stress via a tongue-in-cheek piece I wrote for eHow’s Mom’s Channel entitled, “10 Ways Having Young Kids is Like Being Held Hostage“.

Go check it out. Then throw me a bone in the comments and tell me you can relate!

Happy weekend.

Between the candy overload of October and the present overload of December, November is the perfect time for families to focus on what they have to be thankful for

And today’s free download is just the tool you need to help!

Simply print and keep near the dinner table, then pick a “thankful conversation starter” each night in November and discuss – easy peasy! And we’re giving it to you now so you’ve still got a few weeks to get yourself set up.

Here’s MJ with the details…

Anticipation is a powerful emotion in childhood. So why not use it to foster a spirit of gratitude?

As an adult, I have come to love Thanksgiving, with its focus on home and family as well as its minimal commercialism and this year we’re making thanksgiving an entire season with these printable conversation starters. Read More

Whether your family routinely does a ten hour trip to grandma’s every Thanksgiving, or you just find yourself in the car shuttling kids around A LOT now that school’s back in session – a well organized and entertaining car environment can be a parent’s best friend!

Today Alli is teaming up with MPMK’s newest sponsor, Munchkin, to share her favorite tips and products for keeping the mood happy in the car so you can be one zen Mama, wherever the road may take you.

They’re all great, but my favorites are definitely the DIY car activity kit and that genius iPad holder/organizer for only $25!

Before we get to the goods… you can nab your own Munchkin gear at your local Target or Babies’R’Us. Or take advantage of this exclusive munchkin.com offer:

MPMK readers can enjoy $5 off their purchase of $25 or more exclusively at Munchkin.com using code MPMKXMCK. The coupon is valid for U.S. residents only and expires November 15, 2014.

Here’s Alli…

This past Summer, we took our family on a fourteen hour road trip. You heard me, FOURTEEN hours.

I’m not even going to mention the fact that it turned into eighteen hours with pit stops and bathroom breaks. (It’s hard for me to talk about.)

I’m a serious organizer, so I did my best to get our car organized for our road trip. But to be totally honest, I had no idea what I was doing. It was our first road trip with the kids in tow, and as hard as you may try, you just can’t plan for these things unless you’ve been through it already.

Now that I’m on the other side of that trip (thank goodness), I’ll be much more prepared for the next one. Here’s a few tips and tricks to get your car road trip ready:

Everything within Reach

This one may seem like a no brain-er, but I can’t stress it enough. Whatever you can put within the kids’ reach, the better.

On our last trip, I must have climbed back and forth (while we were moving. – don’t tell the cops) more than a hundred times. One hour into the trip, my back was already hurting so bad just from “snaking” into the back seat. And all because the kids couldn’t reach this or that.

This time? I’ll know better. Back Seat and Stroller Organizers can be a lifesaver.

Here are a few “must haves” to pack in your organizer: Read More

It’s that time of year again…

 

Time for ghosts, witches, and goblins to make their spooky appearances. Mwah ha ha ha! (That was my best evil laugh, in case you couldn’t tell.)

 

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, because it’s all about creativity. For that reason, it’s also the perfect holiday to do crafts with the family.

 

This year, we decided to add to our porch decor by making Dry Erase Ghost Votives.

Read More

Isn’t the sun streaming through these fall leaf sun catchers lovely?

This was a really easy, no-mess project the kids and I took on last week to welcome the new season. It was the perfect activity for working on our fine-motor skills while also beautifying our home.

Get the full tutorial here.

And if you need a laminator for home (great for projects like these as well as protecting all sorts of things from chore lists to meal plans), this is the one I use and love.

Happy weekend!

*Post contains affiliate links.

Do you guys know about the iPhone’s burst mode? If not, you HAVE to read this tutorial – it will make a huge impact on the pics you get of the kids. And it’s so easy too!

What I love most about my Canon 5D Mark III (the professional camera I use for my job as a children’s photographer) is the quick response.

I click the shutter when I see the shot I want and I know there’s going to be no delay.  I can time my shots perfectly.  And, when you’re working with kids who move quickly, you need a fast camera!  If there’s even a half second delay, the moment is gone. 

That same fast shutter mode can be re-created with the iPhone too!  It’s called Burst Mode.  I like to use Burst Mode when Read More

First of all, I want to say both I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

This salted caramel brownie bark is really, really, addictively good.  And the recipe makes an entire half-sheet pan so you will have a lot of it around.

This also, however, gives you the perfect opportunity to package some up and share with friends and neighbors.I especially love the idea of leaving some as a little “boo” gift for your neighbors.  Do you do this?

We’re still fairly new to neighborhood living but I know there’s some of this that goes around our ‘hood.

I mean, think of how psyched you would be if your doorbell rang and when you opened the door you found this looking back at you. Read More

There are lots of great reasons to treat your children (even your youngest kiddos) as accountable, active participants at home by giving them both family jobs and money earning jobs. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. It gives them a sense of respect and awareness for their surroundings
  2. It instills in them a healthy relationship with “stuff” and stops entitlement in it’s tracks
  3. It teaches work ethic
  4. It provides them with a sense of belonging that comes only through contributing
  5. It teaches them how to manage money

Put simply, encouraging kids to clean up after themselves and to pitch in with family chores helps to produce more responsible, capable children. Plus it makes your household run more smoothly (bonus!).

So how do you start? We highly recommend setting up a small number of family jobs (no money earned, done solely to contribute to the family) as well as money-earning jobs for your littles.

These tasks don’t have to be hard or time-consuming and the money-earning jobs don’t have to be worth much. The point here is simply to form good habits early.

To help get you started, here are 4 beginner lists of family jobs and money earning jobs for your toddlers and preschoolers:

Read More

With all the hustle and bustle of getting the kids off to school in the morning, I usually forego my own breakfast until I return home from school drop-off.

Although it’s decidedly calmer during this part of my day, I still don’t want to spend any of my precious “me time” making oatmeal or eggs.

So lately I’ve been whipping up a few of these yummy greek yogurt parfaits a few nights a week instead. Then when I arrive home from preschool and kindergarten drop-off, I whisk baby M off to his nap and it’s exactly 30 seconds until I’m settled in front of my computer with a hot coffee and filling breakfast.

Check out the simple parfait how-to here and grab our free printables too for an easy gift idea!

It’s that time of year again, when we all take a deep breath and vow to make a fresh start.  And to help you out, we’ve got some big, exciting news to share today!

When we launched our handbook to leading a more simplified life, Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: The Quick Start Guide. It was a huge success and we’ve since sold well over 10,000 copies.

But I also heard from you guys that you would like some handy-dandy printables to go along with your newly-formed action plans. So last year I worked really hard to make that wish a reality.

And now, I’m happy to announce, when you purchase you get printables for the rest of 2014 AND all of 2015!

I’ve been getting A LOT of emails from you guys telling me you’re eager to buy the POYEL printables in order to get organized for the school year and all of 2015 – but you didn’t want just the 2014 calendar pages. So I’ve been working really hard to update the pack for you.

Starting today, when you purchase the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life Printables Pack (or the combo pack with the POYEL Quick Start Guide and printables), you get October – December 2014 AND January – December 2015.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

The 2014 – 2015 Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life Printables Pack

Only $7.99

Get the PDF file:

Add to Cart

Special Offer:

Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life eBook & 2014 Printables Pack

Only $9.97

Get the PDF files:

Add to Cart

Get the Kindle version here.

Get the Nook version here.

(Read more about POYEL: The Quick Start Guide eBook here.)

 

*Note: this special bundle is for the PDF of the eBook and the printables or the eBook readable on your kindle or Nook, complete with a link to the 38 pages of PDF downloads at the back of the eBook.  

Inside our 38 page printables pack, you’ll find everything you need to manage every aspect of your day-to-day life from cleaning and meal-planning, to scheduling and that never ending to-do list.

There’s something for everyone here including two different cleaning systems (are you more of a checklist person or a calendar cleaner?) as well as all the printables in both an 8.5″ x 11″ size AND a 5.5″ x 8.5size.

So whether you’re looking to create a home management binder, want to use these in your personal planner you carry around in your bag, or just want a meal plan/to-do list/cleaning chart to stick on the fridge – we’ve got you covered!

There are tons of options in this 38 page printable pack – use them all or pick and choose exactly what you need. There’s even a suggested daily cleaning checklist, weekly cleaning schedule, and master cleaning list included.

Here’s a look at everything you’ll get:

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

A Daily Checklist

A simple one page form that breaks your day up into easily manageable chunks.  There are check-off boxes (for that sense of satisfaction when you complete a task) as well as designated areas for the day’s menu ideas and appointments.  This one is a great candidate for laminating and using over and over with a fine-tip dry erase marker.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Your Week at a Glance

Conveniently spread across two vertical pages, this gives you a spot to record all of your appointments for the week along with any special reminders you need to leave for yourself in the “notes” section.  There are also spots for your dinner plans and cleaning objectives for each day.  It’s everything you want to accomplish in your week all in one spot.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet

Designed to help you quickly and efficiently get your weekly meal planning done.  Includes sections for all 7 days of the week as well as areas for breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas so nothing gets overlooked.  Keep it in your planner or stick it on the fridge for a visual reminder each morning of what needs to be prepped for that night’s dinner.

Two Types of Weekly Cleaning Worksheets

In the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life eBook, we cover two different types of cleaning systems for two different types of people: the cleaning schedule vs. the cleaning checklist.  In this printable pack, we’ve provided both so you can try each out and see which suits you best.

Weekly Cleaning Schedule Template

Much like the Weekly Meal Planning Worksheet, the cleaning schedule visually lays out everything you need to accomplish for the week to keep your house looking good.  Assign one major task or room of your house to each day of the week and complete with your daily and infrequent tasks (drawn from the master cleaning checklist).

Weekly Cleaning Checklist Template

While still including sections for daily and infrequent tasks, this option breaks down all of the cleaning tasks for the week into those that will take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 – 60 minutes, or 1 hour or more.  The idea being that whenever you find yourself with a little time to clean, you can quickly check the list for what hasn’t been done yet that week and get to work.

*Printing Note: Since you won’t need both the “Weekly Cleaning” worksheet and the “Weekly Cleaning Checklist” – the intention is to choose one or the other and this must be done for double-sided printing to turn out correctly. When printing, in the pages box, either enter “1 – 6, 8 – 38″ OR “1 – 5, 7 – 38″.

Filled-In Weekly Cleaning Schedule & Checklist

Along with the blank worksheets, you’ll also get versions of both the Weekly Cleaning Schedule and Checklist filled-in with suggested chores for each section.

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

12 Months of Pre-Dated Calendar Pages

Along with squaring away your everyday and your week, it’s always helpful to get a look at your month as well so we’ve included pre-dated calendars for each month in 2014. Like the weekly calendar, these are spread out over two vertical pages (no turning to view required).

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

Master Cleaning List

Finally, to be kept as a reference in the back of your planner, we’ve included a Master Cleaning List with columns to categorize chores into “daily”, “weekly”, “bi-weekly”, “monthly”, “quarterly” and “semi-annual” tasks.

Filled-In Master Cleaning List

Just like with the Weekly Cleaning Schedule and the Weekly Cleaning Checklist, you’ll also receive a suggested list of chores for each of the categories mentioned above along with the blank template.

————————————————————-

Remember, when you purchase the printables pack, you will receive all 38 pages (including the cheerful cover) in BOTH the 8.5″ x 11″ and the 5.5″ x 8.5″ sizes, all for one low price!

You can print the pages to be used individually.  Or you can choose the duplex/double-sided printing option on your printer (or at a local printing store) and pop everything into a binder or small personal planner – see note below on double-sided printing.

If you really want to get fancy, you can even invest in a discbound puncher (affiliate link) and use the 5.5″ x 8.5″ size with a planner like these Martha Stewart versions.

————————————————————-

Awesome 2014 printable pack for your home management binder, personal planner, or sheets just to stick on the fridge.  Includes menu planning, calendars, cleaning checklists and more!

The 2014 – 2015 Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life Printables Pack

Only $7.99

Get the PDF file:

Add to Cart

Special Offer:

Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life eBook & 2014 Printables Pack

Only $9.97

Get the PDF files:

Add to Cart

Get the Kindle version here.

Get the Nook version here.

(Read more about POYEL: The Quick Start Guide eBook here.)

 

*Note: this special bundle is for the PDF of the eBook and the printables or the eBook readable on your kindle or Nook, complete with a link to the 38 pages of PDF downloads at the back of the eBook.  

I decided to offer the printables as a separate product so that everyone who bought the POYEL eBook last year could still get in on the fun.

However, because I want to encourage you to get started down your path to a more simplified life with every tool at your disposal…

Purchase the Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: the Quick Start Guide eBook AND the POYEL Printables Pack and get 71% off the eBook!

$14.98 $9.97 for both

————————————————————-

*Printing Note: Since you won’t need both the “Weekly Cleaning” worksheet and the “Weekly Cleaning Checklist” – the intention is to choose one or the other and this must be done for double-sided printing to turn out correctly. When printing, in the pages box, either enter “1 – 6, 8 – 38″ OR “1 – 5, 7 – 38″.

P.S. If you’re interested in the planners and accessories featured in the photos above, they are Martha Stewart and can be purchased in-store at Staples or on-line through the following affiliate links: