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October 29, 2012

The Weekend Recap

What a quiet Finish It Friday it was this week. I hope that all is well for my Finish It Friday friends. I wonder if some of you were busy getting prepared for the hurricane? If so…I was thinking about you this weekend, hoping that the storm dies down or somehow switches course and heads back out to sea. 


Here’s how my weekend turned out.



  • Boot camp and run (maybe). I decided not to go to boot camp this week, so that I could run and hit my 43 mile goal. (Which I did!) I’m up to 45.44 miles for the month and somehow this has caused me to create a new goal:  50 miles for the month. Funny how it goes that way, right? As soon as you reach a goal, a new one sneaks right in and grabs your attention! Does that happen to you, too? 

    I decided, though, that boot camp is a really good part of my regular Saturday morning routine. When I go to boot camp, I accomplish the hardest thing on my weekend to-do list by 9:30 AM Saturday! That fuels my whole day, if not my entire weekend. This Saturday I felt really behind schedule all day, and I never really felt like I got in a getting-things-done groove. But it’s not like I was in a lounge-and-relax groove either. It was just like everything was moving really slow and not grooving at all. I finally got a wind (not even a second wind, but the very first one!) after dinner on Saturday...and started making progress on my “done” list. Moral of the story: boot camp is a really important part of my weekend routine!
  • Pumpkin farm. We went and we’re so glad we did. It was a really nice and relaxing (albeit COLD) afternoon. It was a great day to be out in the country, enjoying family.


Pumpkin Farm



  • Get ready for Halloween. Check! My extrememly minimal Halloween decorating is done. The candy is bought. And the costume is ready. All systems are a go!


  • Weekly meal planning + shopping. Check! We are all ready for the week ahead, including chili makings for trick-or-treating.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. Okay…so I dusted the cobwebs and the cold air returns, cleaned the cook top, and cleaned the light fixtures. This last task included washing the glass globes from the dining room chandelier. And here’s where the story get ugly:  I dropped one of the globes on the tile floor! A classic case of one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back. Let’s just say…my first wind died very quickly. Grrrr….  
  • Laundry. Check!


I’m ready (enough) for my sister and step-mom’s visit. I’m looking forward to seeing them…though getting ready for their visit made me really miss my Dad all over again. It's going to be so weird without him here this Halloween. I guess that’s just part of the process...going through those "first times without him" and riding the emotional waves that come with them. (The good news is, this morning I woke up excited to see my sister and step-mom. Every day is different.)


I hope you had a good weekend. I'd love to hear all about it in the comments. And stay safe my friends on the east coast. Stay safe. I'll be thinking about you. 


October 26, 2012

Are you ready to get organized for the weekend?

It’s time, my friends, to get ourselves organized for the weekend. Here are my weekend fun and done lists.


  • Boot camp.
  • Run. (Maybe.) I have 2 miles to hit my 43 mile goal for the month – woohoo! I have found that running and boot camp aren’t a terrific mix. So…I’m not sure if I’ll be up for a run by Sunday. If not, Monday will be the day I reach my goal. Yay!
  • Pumpkin farm. (Maybe.) We’ll have to see how the rest of the weekend to-do list unfolds, and see how everyone feels about it. We’re very wishy-washy about the pumpkin farm this year.


  • Get ready for Halloween. Okay…so this weekend doesn’t have a lot of fun stuff planned. Instead, I’ll be getting ready for the fun that will happen next week on Halloween when my sister and step mom visit. There are lots of little to-dos in here including decorating and cleaning…just getting the house guest-ready.
  • Weekly meal planning + shopping. This includes getting more Halloween candy and stuff for a little trick-or-treating get together.
  • Make progress on 28 day challenge. By the way, if you’re playing along at home and started on the first day, today is Day 4 and the challenge is to dust cobwebs and clean cold air returns. That is on my list for the weekend, as is cleaning the oven and cook top. I have already decluttered magazines (which is tomorrow’s challenge) and I may skip ahead and do a few later things like cleaning the baseboards.
  • Laundry.



So there's not too much to jump up and down about this weekend, but that’s okay. I’m really looking forward to our mid-week visit next week!


What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Hope you have a great one! (By the way, if you're doing the 28 day challenge, please feel free to share your progress in the Finish It Friday and Monday Check In posts. I'd love to hear how you're doing with the daily tasks! Thanks!)


It's a holiday tradition and you're invited...

It has become an annual tradition at simplify 101 and it’s almost here! My Get Organized for the Holidays online workshop begins next Thursday.


Here are some details about this class in case you’re considering signing up or you’re just finding out about it now.


Holiday Organizing Online Workshop


This workshop isn't about adding another obligation to your already jam-packed holiday to-do list. Instead, it gives you tools to help you simplify your holiday to-do list — this year and in upcoming years, too.


You’ll get printable forms that will help you organize and manage every aspect of your holiday preparations—from shopping, to entertaining, to gift wrapping, to scheduling activities and to-dos.


How to Create Joyful Holidays

If you dread the holiday season because it’s so stressful, or you find yourself rushing to the finish line every year, or you want to find ways to bring more meaning, relaxation, and joy back into your holiday celebrations, this workshop shows you how.


It’s light. It’s simple. It’s fun. And best of all, it shows you how to create a meaningful and joy-filled holiday season.


Class begins Thursday, November 1st and runs through December 20th. During this time, you'll have access to a private message board where you can ask me questions. I'll answer them within one business day (often even faster) so it's like having me "on-call" throughout the holiday season. You'll also have fun interacting with your classmates and me, where we'll be sharing ideas about gifts, recipes, holiday decorating, and anything else holiday related. One of the things I love about this workshop is hearing about the holiday traditions from our friends around the world. And if all that weren't enough, you’ll also continue to have access to the lesson materials and online community through November 1, 2013.


You’re invited to join the fun. And you're invited to create a stress-free, joy-filled holiday season this year and for years to come. Get all the details and sign up here.


October 24, 2012

Lessons Learned from a First-Time Marathon

Last week, I mentioned that Jennifer was running in her first marathon on Sunday. Today, I asked her to share her story with all of us, including the “secrets” to her success and what she learned along the way. Yay, Jen!

  Run a Marathon - Check


Yes! I can officially check this one off my bucket list. I completed the Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis marathon last Sunday. How was it? It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. At different times it was fun, excruciating, exciting, daunting, easy, and impossible. And now that it is behind me, I am euphoric and also a bit numb. (But not physically numb. Ouch!)


I feel very fortunate that Aby asked me to write about it on the blog, and I’m honored to share what I learned from this! I have no secret weapons or super powers, but I think the following things were absolutely key.


I had a plan, or more accurately, I found a plan and followed it. Fortunately there are a lot of smart people out there who know far more about marathons than I ever will, and they’ve done all the groundwork. I just had to choose the one that seemed the best fit for me, which ended up being a training program by Hal Higdon, a renowned running expert and author.


I carved out the time. The very next thing I did once I had a plan was to actually put a schedule in my calendar. Having 18 weeks to get ready for something is great, but without assigning tasks to days, that time would have gone by and I would have been no closer to running a marathon. Having things on the schedule solidified my commitment, kept me on track, and also kept my family members in the loop with my training.


I had a team. Speaking of family members, it was imperative that they were on board. Before I even began training, we talked as a family about what it would mean for them. After all, they were not the ones signing up for this, and so I committed to do whatever I could not to take away from family time. This meant some very early runs and some late evenings on the computer mapping out routes and researching nutrition, but I was willing to sacrifice so that my family wouldn’t have to. I was also honest in letting them know there would be 3-4 long weekend runs towards the end that would take up a decent chunk of time and would likely leave me pretty wiped out for the day. I think it was critical to have them on the same page as me. They may not have run with me, but they were most certainly my team.

Marathon Family Hugs
Coming in for hugs from my family along the course.


I also had coaches. Or, perhaps they were more like mentors. Either way, I have two seasoned marathoner friends who were gracious enough to train with me. I have told them I don’t know how anyone trains for a marathon without Julia and Emily, to which they smirk, but I am not kidding. They joined me for my longest training runs, coached me about injuries and recovery, answered my questions, and most of all believed in me. Emily even met me on the course at the bottom of the very worst hill and ran up it with me, filling me with encouragement the entire time. Their expert guidance was invaluable. I’m so grateful!


I had fans. (Hey, why should celebrities have all the fun?) I chose to be pretty vocal about my goal and shared it with many people. I know from past experience that having other people cheer me on keeps me going and keeps me accountable. Thank you to everyone who commented on this blog, the race day spectators and volunteers, and my family and friends. I think we often times underestimate the power our words have. But, I read the comments. I saw the signs. I heard the cheers. And, I believed you. Thank you for believing in me.

  Honk for Jennifer


I celebrated my accomplishments along the way. I treated myself to the occasional piece of new running gear. I celebrated long runs with chocolate milk (because it is both a treat and a good way to refuel the body after a hard workout). But, I also celebrated in less tangible ways, and these were possibly the most meaningful. I celebrated running in different parts of the country, running through season changes, running through various types of weather. I celebrated beautiful views and encounters with nature. I celebrated starry nights and sunrises. I celebrated that not only was every run taking me closer to my goal, but was also allowing me to experience so much that I would have otherwise missed.


I changed my life. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t achieve this goal and then wake up as a different person in a perfect world. However, I learned important things about myself, and I gained new perspective. I think anyone who achieves a goal can identify with this. More than just checking the goal off a to-do list, it’s what happens along the way and as a result of reaching it that has the lasting impact. That’s how we truly change our lives.


Marathon Medal
If you look closely, you can even see the tears rolling down my face. I could not stop crying!



Happy day,

Jens signature black

October 23, 2012

28 Day Challenge: Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

*** This post has moved to our new blogGo here to see the post. To find this post in the future, update your pin with this url ***


28 Day Holiday Challenge
Last year in late October, Jen and I started a 28-day challenge to help us all get our homes ready for the holidays. The idea behind this challenge was to bite-size the process of getting our homes guest-ready before the season officially arrived.


Well, we had so much fun with it last year, and were so happy to have all that stuff out of the way before the holidays began, that we thought it would be fun to do it again. Listed below are the daily challenges along with links to the original blog post. Please note that we rearranged some of the challenges so that we weren't doing things like putting away Halloween decorations before Halloween. ;) So if you click on a link the day numbers don't correspond, that's what's going on. 


We also put together a printable with all of the challenges listed on it. You can print that out and do the challenges in any order that suits you. Just think, with a little bit of effort every day for the next 28 days, we can get our homes ready ahead of time and enjoy the holidays even more.

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays 28 Day Challenge

Download 28 Day Challenge Printable You will need Adobe Reader to open this file.  


So what do you say—are you in this year? Let us know in the comments, and then, be sure to check back throughout the challenge to keep us posted on your progress! Good luck!


Day 1:  Decide to Join and Collect Your Supplies

Day 2:  Create a List of Trouble Spots

Day 3:  Focus on Surface Decluttering for At Least 15 Minutes Today

Day 4:  Dust Cobwebs and Clean Cold Air Returns

Day 5:  Declutter Magazines and Catalogs

Day 6:  Clean the Oven and Cook Top

Day 7:  Wash Light Fixtures and Lampshades

Day 8:  Clean Behind Your Stove and Refrigerator

Day 9:  Clean and Organize Your Fridge and Freezer

Day 10:  Clean the Trash Cans and Recycling Containers

Day 11:  Declutter Your Food Storage Containers

Day 12:  Declutter Your Halloween or Other Holiday Decorations

Day 13:  Wash the Windows

Day 14:  Dust Clocks, Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Day 15:  Declutter Disposable Party Supply Goods

Day 16:  Declutter the Guest Room

Day 17:  Deep Clean Floors

Day 18:  Clean Baseboards

Day 19:  Declutter the Family Room

Day 20:  Declutter and Organize Board Games

Day 21:  Declutter Paper

Day 22:  Set Up a Holiday Card Mini Zone

Day 23:  You Choose

Day 24:  Set Up a Quick-Clean Mini Zone in the Guest Bathroom

Day 25:  Declutter Kids’ Spaces (or Your Own “Fun” Space) 

Day 26: Declutter the Coat Closet 

Day 27: Sweep Your Entryway 

Day 28:  Declutter and Organize Your Reusable Shopping Bags


Happy Organizing!


Get Organized for the Holidays Online Workshop

October 22, 2012

How was your weekend?

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a great weekend with lots of fun and done. :) Here's how my weekend turned out:



  • Boot camp. Check! Lots of running up very steep hills. (And this was in the fun column. Hmmm….)
  • See Jen Run. Check. And she did it! I’m so excited for her. I can’t wait to hear all about it tomorrow when she's back in the office.
  • Pumpkin Farm. Not this weekend...maybe next weekend.  



  • Laundry. Check!
  • Get some yarn. Check! And I knitted! I even finished a scarf that I’ve had in process for a really (really) long time. It feels so good to finish stuff! If that wasn’t enough, Janine gave me a knitting lesson yesterday which was super fun, too.



  • Declutter magazines. Check!
  • Make progress on my kitchen "fall" cleaning. Check! My goal is to have this done by Halloween when my sister and step mom come to visit. I’m following my 15-minutes-of-progress-at-a-time approach. The project is getting done ahead of the deadline, and I’m not feeling like it’s a huge imposition on my time. In other words, I’m fitting the project in the cracks in my schedule, which is much nicer than looking for bigger chunks of time.

My weekend is a wrap! How was yours?


October 19, 2012

Running a Marathon: the Courage to Start

"Why would you do that?" It's the number one question I get asked about why I would willingly run 26.2 miles. And one I used to ask before I started running two years ago. Why would anyone run that far? That long? Oh sure, it’s pretty cool to get the sticker for the car window and the race t-shirt, but clearly it takes more than that!



26.2 shirt
My new cute running shirt hanging on my closet door until I've "earned" it!



I think the answer must be different for everyone who chooses to challenge themselves in this way, but I firmly believe that anyone who achieves this only does so when they are crystal clear on their reason. Here's mine: my whole life, I did not believe I was athletic. I did not think I had what it took to be an athlete. It was not in me. Then I did the Couch to 5k program, and discovered that not only could I run a 5k, but also that I love this running thing. So I wondered, could I do 10k? It turns out that I could. By then running was a part of my life. So, I set my sights on a half marathon. And with each goal I got a little better, a little stronger.


Even as I trained for that first 5k, I began to understand the kind of dedication, perseverance and sacrifice required to train for a marathon. It's so much more than being physically able, and I admired that tremendously. But, was it in me? Last summer, I decided to find out and committed to run the Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis Marathon on October 21, 2012. Even before Sunday, I know the answer: Yes, it is. It is in me.


John Bingham quote


I'm going into this weekend with a bit of an injury. I strained my hip flexor, which meant taking the last week and a half completely off from running, along with receiving physical therapy. My body is not at 100%, but my mind and heart are. So injured or not, I’m going for it. I have to be realistic, though, and simply hope to finish this race. I am staying positive about my ability to complete this, but if I have to bail, it's OK. I will get it next time because I know my answer.


Why would I run a marathon? Because I found the athlete I didn't know I was. And that feels simply amazing.


Enjoy your weekend!

Jens signature black

It’s Time for Finish It Friday

Hello friends! Happy Friday to you! Are you ready to share your weekend to-do list? Here’s mine:


  • Boot camp. Call me nuts, but I was motivated to get ahead on my running for the 43 mile challenge (I’m at 30 so far!) just so I could go to boot camp on Saturday. I wonder how I will feel about this decision on Sunday morning. We shall see.
  • See Jen Run. Okay, I am sooooo excited for Jennifer. She has been training for her first marathon and Sunday is the big day! My friend Janine lives near to the race route…so I’m going to go hang out and knit with Janine…and go see Jennifer at the 10 mile mark. Fun, right? (If you get a chance, even if you don’t want to share your to-do list, please give Jennifer a shout-out in the comments today to wish her good luck on Sunday. Thanks!)
  • Pumpkin Farm. This is a maybe…depends on the weather on Saturday.


  • Laundry.
  • Get some yarn.
  • Declutter magazines.
  • Make progress on my kitchen "fall" cleaning.


I think that will keep me busy and give me lots of opportunities for some fun, too. What are your plans this weekend? 


October 17, 2012

Ideas for Your Fall Bucket List

*** This post has moved to our new blogGo here to see the post. To find this post in the future, update your pin with this url ***


Is your fall flying by? Mine sure is! But there’s still time to make the most of it! Jennifer and I have put together a fun, fall bucket list designed to inspire you to make the most of the season. Fall is a great time to enjoy fun outdoor activities, as well as get some stuff done around the house in preparation for winter. So we’ve also put together the fall version of our "fun + done" printable. Use it to capture all of your ideas for making the most of this wonderful time of year. Enjoy!


Fall Bucket List

  • Apple cider
  • Apple crisp
  • Apple picking
  • Bake a pie
  • Bike rides
  • Bobbing for apples (just be sure to go first)
  • Bonfires
  • Boo your neighbors
  • Camping
  • Carmel apples (make them or just eat one!)
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Corn maze
  • Cook or bake with pumkin (pie, muffins, butter, etc.)


Pumpkin Muffins


  • Fall back
  • Fall decorating – inside and out
  • Fall festivals
  • Football Games
  • Game night
  • Get the house ready for holidays
  • Hayrides
  • Hiking
  • Hot chocolate


Hot Cocoa


  • Ice Cream (take one last trip to the local ice cream/custard shop)
  • Kale Chips
  • Knit
  • Leaf prints
  • Host a leaf-raking party
  • Make a fall bunting or banner
  • Make applesauce
  • Make candles
  • Make a thankful tree


Thankful Tree

  • Movie nights
  • Octoberfest
  • Parades - Halloween, Veteran’s Day or Thanksgiving 
  • Plant flower bulbs 
  • Plant mums 
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Pumpkin spice latte
  • Roast marshmallows
  • Roast pumpkin seeds
  • Run in a race


Komen Race


  • Scavenger hunts
  • Start handmade holiday gifts
  • Start a gratitude journal


Gratitude Journal


  • Simmer potpourri
  • Tailgating
  • Trick or Treating
  • Vote
  • Visit a winery


Want to make your own fall bucket list (fun list) or fall fun + done list? Here are links to the printables:

Download fall fun ideas list-simplify 101

Download fall fun + done list

fall fun list - simplify 101

Hope you enjoy the rest of your fall. Is there anything on your list that we forgot? Thanks for sharing!


October 15, 2012

Monday Check In

Good Monday morning to you! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s the place to share how your weekend went. Here’s my update:



  • Spend Time with Kailea. We drove to the State Cross Country meet in Normal, Illinois to cheer on Kailea’s teammates. It was five hours of time in the car (some of it pretty nerve wracking due to major rain) followed by a two-hour rain delay for the meet. But, it was worth it. The team did great and it was really inspiring to see the level of commitment all the kids have for running. Very cool.
  • Run 3 Miles. Check! 3-1/2 miles actually. Fun to see the mileage adding up and my distance getting just a bit longer with all this running.
  • Knit. This was an add-on. Funny how when I don’t put it on my list, I feel like doing it.



  • Laundry. Almost a check, just one load to finish up today.
  • Plan weekly meals + grocery shop. Check!
  • Organize and edit cross country photos. Check on the organize. I will edit when I decide what to print.
  • Make progress on at least one current project. Well…we got Kailea’s Halloween costume figured out this weekend, so that was good. And I made progress on a knitting project that will be a Christmas gift this year. So…I say: Check!
  • Send some cards. Today is the day. :)


I feel pretty good about the progress this weekend given that we were gone for so much of Saturday. (And the drive up there pretty much drained me!) It was a good weekend. I’m tired this morning, but feel like I had a weekend.


Hope you have a great week! See you back here on Friday. :)


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