I’ve decided that fall is actually my New Year’s. 

Every fall, inspiration hits to recommit to exercise, schedule engaging family nights, be more intentional about fostering relationships, and wow my familywith  several new, revolutionary, enticing recipes.

Ha. We’ll see how I do 🙂

I started a new weight-training program today and it felt SO good.  Although I’ve lifted off and on since I was 18, I’ve had a hard time committing to it again~ well, if I’m honest, a hard time committing to exercise in general ~ since we moved three years ago.  I’ve always been a firm believer in lifting weights, especially for women.  Not only does it strengthen your muscles and bones, it boasts an added benefit of building mental & emotional strength and confidence as well.

Couldn’t we all use more of that?

Now that I’m 41, physical strengthening is especially crucial.  I’m certain I’m losing bone mass and muscle mass and balance and elasticity each and every second. I must recommit to this area of my life.

Call me crazy, but I even taped a picture of Jamie Eason to my bathroom mirror to remind me of my pursuit.  Jamie, a fitness model, has appeared in Oxygen magazines numerous times over the years and always inspires me (although when I went to find a webpage to link to her name, I was a bit shocked at some of her immodest poses.  Jamie, how dare you?  So please just look at the strong ones, not the provocative ones.  I’m going to keep believing she’s really a good girl.)   Ironically, I even had Jamie’s haircut last winter.  After seeing pictures of her again this morning, I think I may need it back!  The body may take a little longer…..:)

How I digress.  This post is NOT about weight lifting.  Really.

It’s about a cute little notebook I’ve grown to love, and which I’d like to share with you today.

Here she is: My Notebook

My sister and I set about compiling these personal notebooks last summer after reading a book titled, “Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman” by Anne Ortlund.  This Notebook has changed the way both of us organize our lives, and a year later we are still toting them around.

The binder of the Notebook is 7 1/4″ wide and 9 1/4″ long, and fits paper 5 1/2″ x 8″.  This small size is perfect for carrying in a purse or tote, is the same size as most Bibles so can be easily carried underneath, and ~ at least for me ~ is more user-friendly than a bulky, large binder.

I bought my small binder at Office Max (they had white, blue or green choices) and inserted a sheet of decorative paper cut to size in the front jacket to personalize it. Next, I began looking for a calendar, notebook paper, and tabs to make my Notebook. 

After pricing many pre-made calendar systems and suffering extreme sticker shock, I finally found a beautiful green and blue spiral-bound calendar for a reasonable price of $12, twisted the spiral binding out, used my three hole punch to add three new holes in the right places, and inserted the calendar in my binder:

When shopping for a calendar, I had three features in mind.  I wanted tabbed months on the edge so I could flip quickly to any month, I wanted to be able to see a full month at once:

….and then I wanted each week broken down into days so I could write to-do’s on each day:

This calendar serves those purposes well, and is pretty, too.  Which is always a plus.

(**Note: My sister didn’t spend money on a calendar at all.  Instead, she printed pages from Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, downsized them on her printer to fit, and three-hole punched them right into her notebook.  Genius.)

After the calendar portion of my Notebook, I purchased divider tabs in the calendar section of Office Max, along with notebook filler paper in the 5 1/2″ x 8″ size to go behind every tab.  My five tabs are labelled: GOALS, FOOD, HOME, HOMESCHOOL, and MINISTRY:

These labels have changed over the last year as I’ve used them, or not used them. I keep adjusting them to work best for me. For instance, I used to have a tab labelled PRAYER, but later replaced it with HOMESCHOOL and now include my prayer list under my MINISTRY tab. 

I also recently added FOOD since I’ve discovered with grocery shopping and price-tracking and menu-planning, FOOD is a bigger topic in my life than I’d been willing to admit.  It definitely deserves its own tab!

(I briefly considered adding an EXERCISE tab this morning, but not sure if that’s necessary yet.  It remains to be seen.  However, that’s the wonderful thing about this Notebook ~ it can change to suit me at any time.)

Here is a quick glimpse of the first page under my GOALS tab:

My current listed goals, or life purposes, are the following:
– Grow to know the Lord more intimately
– Positively influence those areound me for His kingdom.
– Be a nurturing, discerning, life-giving asset to my husband.
– To see all children spiritually settled and fruitful.

I also use the GOALS section to specify specific areas of focus under these following areas: Spiritual, Physical, Financial, Emotional, and Relational. 

Does this seem overwhelming?  It’s really not.  My husband and I learned about setting goals for our lives many, many years ago and have always made it part of our marriage and family.  It is a surefire way to stay committed and maintain focus in a crazy world.  If you are new to goal-setting, explore the many resources available on this topic.  The first goal-setting book I ever read was titled “Success! The Glenn Bland Method: How to Set Goals and Make Plans that Really Work.” (1972)  It quite literally changed my thinking, and my life, forever.

My HOME tab is a place I keep track of paint colors, ideas for decorating, measurements of room sizes or windows, quotes on different items, websites or blogs I want to pursue, etc.  I use this tab often, as you can imagine, based on my All Mimsy blog.

Under my HOMESCHOOL tab are lists of ideas to explore with kids, memory goals for 2012, books we want to read, resources to pursue, etc.

And finally, my last tab is MINISTRY.  I use this section for writing down sermon notes, keeping track of commitments with Women’s Ministries at church, maintaining a prayer list, and other ideas/plans for serving others. 

MINISTRY is also the section which holds my copy of 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for your Kids, a wonderful resource I found several years ago.  I used to pray one virtue each day over my children in the car when I dropped them off at school.  Now that we’ll be homeschooling, we’ll pray these virtues together in the mornings.  I highly recommend this list!

(** My 5 tab dividers were designed to be written on, and initially I just wrote my categories on the tabs by hand with a Sharpie.  Just this week I used the Label printer feature of Microsoft Word and printed off labels to stick on the tabs instead, trimming them to fit.  It looks much neater.)

And that’s it!  My wonderful little Notebook.  I carry it with me at all times and use it constantly.  I think, to me, the most wonderful aspect about this Notebook is that I can have all my thoughts, motivations, ideas, resources, dates, schedules, appointments, measurements, food stuffs, etc.etc. etc. with me at any given moment rather than written down on a scrap of paper somewhere at home.

One thing you’ve perhaps noticed is missing from my Notebook is a CONTACTS tab.  I’ve considered adding one more than once.  But so far I’ve found that I prefer to use my smartphone for contacts since I have my phone with me at all times, too.  But every now and then when I meet someone new or need to write down a phone number, I tend to turn quickly to my Notebook and don’t really have a designated place for that information.  I may need to add a few pages of notebook filler paper behind my calendar for random lists and notes that don’t fit under a category.

Again, it’s a constant tweaking and adjusting to make it personal.  But it works!  And it’s been a true workhorse for me in every way.

I would love to hear your feedback on my Notebook.  Share with me ideas you’ve found for organization, too…I’m always looking for ways to make my own system work better.

Blessings on our Fall,



  1. Yep, gonna make one of these for myself. I've been using a simple calendar/planner for 2012 to see if I would really use something more fancy in the future. The answer is yes! I love having my meals written down, my appts all listed, etc. all in one place. Thanks for sharing, sis! PS – thanks for the 31 virtues list. I'm off to print that out right now. Love you!

  2. Sadly, Anne Ortlund passed away last month at the age of 90.

    I have a personal notebook similar to yours, only larger. It took some tweaking to customize it to my needs. Under the “household” tab, I have a page titled “Where Things Are.” Have you ever hunted high and low for something that you know you possess, but just can't lay your hands on it? I certainly have, but no more. Now I know where to find the extension cord, glue gun, extra thermometer, and lots more.

  3. I love your notebook! I've been using an Anne Ortlund-esque notebook for many years. 🙂 I was also interested to read about your weight-lifting…I've just recently started going to the gym, and while I never imagined I would do, much less enjoy, weight/resistance training, I'm loving it! Starting slow and have a long way to go, but I'm excited!

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