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Five Skills Every Bride Needs If She Is Planning Her Own Wedding

I’m going to put this out there right now: Unless you are incredibly busy and/or uninspired, you don’t have to hire a wedding planner. There are plenty of reasons you should hire a wedding planner, but with the right set of skills, I think the “average bride” could get away with planning her own wedding.

[Side note: Hiring a day of wedding coordinator may be what you need if you’re on a tight budget. You can have someone come in on the day and bring your wedding plans to life, without having to think about setting up your decor and telling your DJ where to plug in.]

I’ve been planning and coordinating weddings for a few years now, and I planned my own wedding too. It was literally one of the most fun experiences of my life and I had very few bridezilla meltdowns. I really think that you can enjoy this season, and I want to share with you a few skills that you should learn to master so that you can get the most out of your wedding planning experience.

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1. The ability to make lists

This is a pretty big one. You are going to be making lots of decisions and you need to be able to keep track of them. Big ones like “Find a venue” can be broken down into smaller items on your list, like “Start Googling venues”, “Phone Venue X and make an appointment”, and “Pay venue deposit”.

There are some great apps that you can get, which will help you create lists and stick to them. Here are three that I’ve tried and loved:

Wunderlist

Asana

Google Drive

2. A cool, calm, attitude

With your list of decisions in hand, you are probably going to have a moment here and there where you want to lose your cool. Your mom starts adding her friends to your guest list, people don’t RSVP on time, your bridesmaids can’t get their acts together and just pick a darn dress, and so on. Being able to keep cool and focus on what’s really important [the fact that you are marrying your best friend, even if not all the details are perfect] will save you a heck of a lot of stress and sleepless nights.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an app for this, but surrounding yourself with people that remind you of the big picture and offer to help with the smaller details will go a long way.

3. Multitasking skills

As with any event, planning a wedding involves thinking about a lot of different things at once. You’ve got to have your venue booked before you can send out invitations, but you also have to have an idea of what your guest list is going to look like before booking a venue so that you can keep your ideal headcount in mind. Multitasking in this instance means being able to think of all the scenarios and choose the best one for you.

For us, we made a guest list first, only looked for venues that could accommodate our 120 guests, booked our dream venue, and then sent out Save The Dates. There are a few ways to make this decision in particular, but the point I’m trying to make is that you’ll encounter a few of these types of decisions along the way and you need to be able to manage them all at the same time.

4. Project management

Someone’s got to make sure the deposits have been paid, the invoices have been filed away, and each wedding supplier knows where to be and when. All of this can be handled before the wedding day if you’ve got some good project management skills. Consider each aspect of your wedding as one of the projects [Ceremony, Pre-Reception Drinks, Reception] and you can tackle each task that comes with it.

Project management also involves site inspections (and knowing which questions to ask your venue), drawing up seating charts, and knowing which information each supplier needs, and when to communicate that.

5. Negotiation

I had a situation recently, where a wedding venue had offered their new Tiffany chairs to my client at no extra cost. After a little bit of deciding whether or not they were going to use them, I emailed the venue to confirm that we would be using their Tiffany chairs. I was met with an email stating that the chairs now come at an extra cost so that they can keep breakages in mind. Apparently a recently wedding involved rowdy guests who broke a few chairs. My negotiation skills kicked in because I simply don’t think this is acceptable. Introducing a new policy to an existing client who has already been offered these chairs at no cost seemed unfair to me.

Being able to think like a wedding planner means being willing to negotiate. You don’t want to be (or seem like) Scrooge; just looking for a good deal everywhere you go, but you do want to be able to recognize when someone is trying to take advantage of you.

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Now that you know you can totally plan your own wedding, get started by using my free 12 month wedding checklist. You can get yours by clicking on the image above or by clicking right here.

Feel like you could do with some more wedding planning advice from the pros? I’ve created Wedding Planning Starter Kit to demystify wedding planning for you! It’s full of wedding planning tips that I’ve learnt from years of planning and coordinating weddings and it’s going to save you tons of time and money.

For more information, you can click right here.

How To Eliminate Clutter In Your Home

About a month before getting married, I moved out of my parents’ house and into the house I now share with my husband. Part of that process involved throwing out all the unnecessary things that caused clutter in my bedroom and creating a clutter-free home.

Well, we’ve been married for almost eighteen months and I’ve decluttered multiple times. I can’t believe the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated. Sometimes it feels like clutter will always be a problem and other times, when our home is looking particularly sparkly and tidy, I realise that clutter does not have to be in my life. I don’t like it and I’ll do what I can to get rid of it.

Before attempting to get rid of clutter, here is something to remember:

Decluttering isn’t a once-off task. 

Clutter finds its way into our lives on a daily basis. Nice new magazines that you read and then no longer need, paper clutter that comes through the mail, things that we think we’ll use every day and then don’t. Don’t think that you can declutter once and you’ll be clutter-free forever. Commit to maintaining a clutter-free home and you’re on the right track.

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So here are a few things you can do to eliminate clutter in your home:

Get rid of old things

Old magazines, expired medicines and food products, unread books, old cellphones, outgrown clothes, mismatched socks, mismatched storage containers, duplicate appliances and cleaning items, worn towels, broken jewellery, old mail, unused toiletries, old make up, spices you never use, scratched or unwatched DVDs, and so on. Get rid of things that cause clutter by not even being used.

Give everything a home

By not having a home, the items in your house will start to find themselves on kitchen countertops, bedside tables, desks, the floor and other places that really need to be kept tidy. If everything has a place in your home, it’ll be easier to move it from the countertop to its rightful place, thereby eliminating clutter.

Limit the amount of hangers you have in your cupboard

If you only have forty hangers in your cupboard, you can only hang forty things in your cupboard, thereby eliminating clothing clutter. This will encourage you to think twice before buying new clothes and/or give clothes away more often. This process is made even more simple, by asking yourself one question: “If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?”. If the answer is no, you can donate that item.

Find out where your clutter is coming from

Junk mail, too many new purchases, or laziness that results in the build-up of things you really do use a lot. Is there anything you can do to eliminate this clutter? For example, automate your bills so that they can be received via email and paid online. Put a restriction on things you buy and how often you’ll buy them so that you are bringing less into your home. Perhaps you need to have a regular decluttering schedule – every day when you walk into the house, empty the paper clutter from your handbag and throw away any bits of paper and trash that you don’t need.

Find ways to get rid of books

Donate books to the local library, give books to family and friends and sell old textbooks. When it comes to recipe books, only keep the ones that have a large amount of recipes that you use. If you only use a few, photocopy them, put them in a file and give the book away.

Make your bed every day

There is something really powerful about starting your day by making your bed. Tidying up your room sets the tone for the rest of your home and the rest of your day! If your bed is tidy, you’ve got space to organize and fold things, and all your messy things start to look out of place when your bed is neat.

Get rid of excessive dishes

Glen and I have ten dinner plates, so that when we have friends over we can feed them without asking them to bring their own plates (because that is weird). The problem is that sometimes we get lazy and instead of cleaning a plate, we grab one from the cupboard. By having fewer sets of dishes, cutlery and glasses, you are forcing yourself to clean up instead of grabbing something clean and then creating a pile of dishes to be cleaned later on.

Start using the “touch it once” rule

This is how the rule works: when something comes into your home, there are a few things that could happen while it’s still in your hands:

  1. Throw it away
  2. Store it away
  3. File it away

What we usually do instead is move things from one countertop to the next, creating clutter in every room of the house.

Here are some examples:

When we receive wedding invitations, the date is put into our calendar and we either put the invitation on our fridge until the wedding is over (and then throw it away) or we throw it away immediately. The date is already saved in our calendar, after all, along with registry details, the address and that sort of thing.

The only birthday cards I keep are the ones from my husband. It’s something I’ve one since we started dating, so I make a point of putting his cards and letters into a box I’ve kept for the last seven years. All other cards are read, appreciated, and then thrown away.

When we buy new medicine, it gets put straight into our organized medicine box. Our box is categorized, so different types of medicine are grouped together (things for colds and flu, things for sore throats, things for sore tummies, etc).

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You know what they say; a cluttered home creates a cluttered mind. If you are serious about getting rid of clutter in your home, join the Declutter Challenge. Starting on Monday 24 October, you’ll get an email each day with an area to declutter. I’ll send you my before and after photos, so you can see what I’ve done. The idea is to spend five minutes each day for five days getting rid of some unneeded clutter! If you’d like to sign up you can do that right here.

How to be more organized

Something I love is to be organized. I have calendars, lists and routines, and being organized is something I am pretty good at. When I don’t have my diary with me, I feel like I don’t know what’s happening and when my house is a mess I feel like my mind is a mess too. So, being organized is quite important to me, because it helps me to be productive and get things done. If you are trying to become more organized, there are a few simple things you can do to set up a routine that gets you in a “productive mode”. I hope today’s blog post helps you do just that!

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Create a morning routine

The way you start your day will determine how productive and organized you are throughout the day. By creating a routine, you are less likely to rush out the door with an empty stomach and a forgotten pile of important documents left on the kitchen table. So start getting into a routine that works for you. Eat a healthy breakfast, spend a bit of time reading, praying or exercising, and give yourself enough time to get ready for the day. You are now ready to begin your day with a clear mind.

Become a list person

I have a daily diary that includes my appointments and to-do lists. There are also really great online tools and list apps. Find a method that works for you and use your app, diary or notebook to keep track of important tasks.

Here are a few benefits of list making:

– You’ll feel less stressed and overwhelmed

– You’ll create order

– You can manage priorities

– Your list keeps you accountable

– You’ll be more productive

– You’ll be more consistent

– Your levels of motivation will increase

Create a filing system

This can be an online system, like Google Drive or DropBox, or a series of hard copies of documents, filed in your home office, or a combination. The point is to keep track of important documents (your ID, marriage certificate, university degrees, bills, receipts, tax forms, and so on) so that you don’t spend hours sorting through piles of paper.

Each day or week, set aside a few minutes to file away papers and throw away anything you don’t need to store.

Give everything a home

Cleaning and tidying will be much quicker and easier if everything in your home, office and handbag has a place. If you see something that doesn’t have a home, either create one or throw it away. This is the best way to avoid a cluttered, disorganized mess, or hours of unnecessary searching.

Set goals and deadlines

Nothing makes me feel more organized than knowing I am working towards a specific goal. Whether you are wanting to lose weight, write a book, start a business or plan a dinner party, there are big goals and smaller goals to be achieved. Keep track of your goals and give yourself a deadline. You’ll feel more motivated and will be less likely to procrastinate.

Declutter your mind and your home 

Clutter isn’t good for your space or your mind. Get rid of paper clutter by using your filing system, put things away in their homes, and write things down so that your mind is decluttered too.

Create an evening routine

Pack your bag for the next day, set out your outfit for work, pack a gym bag, get your healthy lunch ready and make sure your morning stress is minimized. Write out tomorrow’s to-do list and spend time reading or praying before you go to bed. Make sure you get an hour of “no screen time” before you go to bed so you sleep better.

Download your own free Weekly Planner printable >> right here <<

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How Often You Should Clean Things

We are halfway through September, which means that the official Spring equinox is on its way. If you haven’t already started Spring cleaning, don’t despair. I’ve got loads of cleaning tips for you!

Related: Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide

I totally get that Spring is the time of year to do a deep cleaning of the house. It’s what I’m trying to do and it’s something my mom used to do as well! My only problem is knowing how often to clean everything during my regular cleaning schedule. If you’re in the same boat, you’ve come to the right place!

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Things you should clean EVERY DAY

  • Make beds
  • Wash dishes
  • Wipe kitchen counters
  • Sweep kitchen floors
  • Wipe bathroom surfaces
  • Clean kitchen and bathroom sinks
  • Wipe down shower

Things you should clean EVERY WEEK

  • Mop kitchen and bathroom floors
  • Scrub bathroom surfaces
  • Clean mirrors
  • Dust furniture
  • Vacuum floors
  • Change bedding
  • Throw away expired food
  • Clean inside of microwave
  • Sanitize sponges
  • Do laundry (can be done more often if need be)

Things you should clean EVERY MONTH

  • Vacuum air vents
  • Dust and clean light fixtures
  • Dust blinds and clean curtains
  • Clean dishwasher, washing machine and vacuum

Things you should clean EVERY 3 – 6 MONTHS

  • Wipe down inside of fridge
  • Wash shower curtain liner
  • Clean under and behind furniture
  • Clean patio furniture and surfaces
  • Wash pillows and duvets
  • Vacuum mattresses
  • Clean drains
  • Clean inside of oven
  • Clean out freezer
  • Clean car

Things you should clean EVERY YEAR

  • Clean fireplace and chimney
  • Deep-clean carpets
  • Wash windows
  • Clear out gutters

 

9 Things You Can Clean With Vinegar

As you might have noticed, I’m really getting into this whole spring cleaning thing. Over and above our usual cleaning routine, Glen and I are doing a bit of a deep clean of things in our home. We’ve cleaned out the oven, washed our bedding, organized our medicine cabinet and we’ve got big plans to tackle our carpet stains, our super messy laundry room and home office. Are you with me on this?

nine things you can clean with vinegar

1. Carpet Stains

For light stains, mix 2 tablespoons of salt with half a cup of vinegar. Apply your mixture to the stain, let it dry and then vacuum.

If your stains are a little tougher, create a paste made up of 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Rub this into your stain with a dry cloth, let it sit for two days and then vacuum.

2. Drains

Pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Don’t be surprised when it starts to get foamy. Once the foaming stops, flush the drain with hot water, wait five minutes and then flush the drain with cold water.

3. Stinky toilet bowls

Pour two cups of undiluted vinegar into your toilet, let it overnight and flush in the morning.

4. Tiles

Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar and use that to scrub your tiles. Finish off with a warm water rinse.

5. Mildewed towels

Throw your towels in the washing machine, don’t add any washing powder, but instead pour one cup of vinegar into the wash and let it do its thing.

Related: Get your 30 day spring cleaning calendar right here

6. Mirrors and Windows

Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water and 12 drops of lemon essential oil. Pour it all into a clean spray bottle, spray onto your mirrors and windows and wipe off with a clean towel.

7. A grimy oven

Sprinkle the base of your oven with baking soda and spray it with vinegar from a spray bottle until it starts to get foamy. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply this to grimy parts on the side of your oven. Spray this applied paste with your vinegar and allow it to sit overnight. Wipe your oven clean in the morning.

8. A wooden cutting board

Wipe down your board with vinegar and finish off by rubbing a cut lemon over your board to sanitize your board.

9. Tupperware

Dampen a cloth with vinegar and use it to wipe out smelly plastic containers.

Related: 12 cleaning tips from real people who clean

How to pack and organize your wedding decor

You don’t have to be in the wedding industry to have heard some wedding nightmares. You’ve probably heard a few of your own, and planning your own wedding has probably reminded you of some of these wedding horrors.

Let’s set the scene…

It’s your wedding day and you’ve got a team of helpful, organized and creative friends who are setting up your decor while you get ready to walk down the aisle. You’ve spent hours scouring Pinterest, saving photos of just how you’d like everything to look, and your lovely friends are here to make it all happen for you. Sometime before your wedding – probably the day before – all your decor, both handmade and hired, was removed from your home and sent to your venue in a few different cars. On your wedding day, while you’re probably getting your makeup done, someone knocks on the door. Your boxes of decor have been opened and no-one knows what to do with them.

These jars would look great hanging from trees (they’re meant to be centrepieces). This table cloth would look awesome on the cake table (and now your expensive table runner is full of icing and glitter). I don’t know what to do with this so lets leave it in the box and hope she doesn’t notice (your personalized wedding cake topper).

Pretty soon you’ve sent out your mom to help get everyone up to speed, and she hasn’t been seen for a while, so your Maid of Honour goes to find her. The next thing you know, you’re an hour behind schedule because your mom and Maid of Honour are missing. Your decor hasn’t been set out properly and everyone who is helping you is running around, frantically trying to piece together your wedding plans and the things they’ve got in the boxes.

Eventually  you walk into your reception venue and it looks nothing like the plans you spent months creating.

How to pack and organize your wedding decor

Whether you are hiring professionals to coordinate your wedding on the day, or you can afford full time help, or you can’t afford either but you’ve got some helpful friends who have volunteered to step in, you need to find a way to communicate your wedding dreams and plans to them.

There are a few elements to this:

  1. Know where you need decor
  2. Know what you’d like in each space
  3. Organize your decor
  4. Communicate your ideas

Lets say you are collecting mason jars and using some as flower vases for the centrepieces and some to hold pens for your guest book. You’d have one box for centrepieces (or a box per table, with centrepieces included in each) and a separate box for things like your guest book. If you have one box with all your mason jars, and no instruction as to what one should do with them, people are going to be confused.

Here is a brief example of the above elements put into practice:

  1. Where you need it: In the ladies bathrooms
  2. What you need: Four flower vases and two signs
  3. Place those vases and signs into a box labelled “Ladies bathrooms” 
  4. Write instructions as to where each vase and sign should go

Decorating the ladies bathrooms isn’t a huge task, but you can translate that into something bigger, like table decor or ceremony decor. The key is to be aware of where you need your decor to be and organize it in such a way that the people who are setting it all up for you know exactly what goes where.

In a perfect world, you’d have a wedding planner who will bring a set up team to take all your decor and bring your wedding plans to life. Lets look at a different scenario that involves little or no professional help and I’ll show you how to organize everything in such a way that it all ends up looking the way you’ve planned it to look.

1. Write a list of all the spaces that need decor

Here are some examples:

Ceremony venue

Post-ceremony tea venue

Reception entrance foyer

Table decor

Cake table

Reception details (guest book and seating chart)

Bathrooms

2. Write out what you’d like in each space

This is what your “Table decor” list might look like:

Table cloth

Table runner

6 white pillar candles

2 menu cards

2 flower vases

Name cards

Favours

3. Organize it

Have one box per table, and put all the things in the above list into that box. Each box should be labelled “Table 1”, “Cake table”, “Ceremony tea” and so on. This way, when your set up team is setting everything up, they know which box to open and what to do with its contents.

4. Make sure everyone knows what to do with the contents of your boxes

I’d suggest choosing a point person for various tasks. Someone to oversee the table decor setup, someone to facilitate all the ceremony decor, someone to be in charge of the post-ceremony tea, and so on. Give each point person a written list of what should be in their boxes, and where possible a photo or diagram of what everything will look like when it’s set up. If you don’t have photos or diagrams, a specific list of instructions may help. Something like this:

Table cloth on table, with runner on top. Two flower vases in the centre, with three candles on each side. A menu card placed on each end of the table. Name cards at each place setting (as per seating chart in “Wedding reception details” box) and wedding favours on top of each guest’s plate.

Notes

  1. Don’t forget to create a pack up plan as well. It’ll look a lot like your set up plan, but you won’t have to think about things like wedding favours and you will have to consider gifts (who’s taking them home and how they’re getting there).
  2. Overcommunicate and do it in a nice way. Make sure your point person for each section knows what they have to do, remind them of their tasks a week or so before the wedding, and then again in person if you can.
  3. Have a second copy of your box lists, seating chart and any important diagrams. Give those to your Maid of Honour, so that if anything goes missing, there is another copy for everyone to work with.
  4. Now that you’ve delegated these tasks, trust the people who are helping you out and let them have fun doing it. There is a fine line between overcommunicating and micromanaging.

 

Simple ways you can save money

Before I even start, let me say that I am the worst at saving money. When I get money I just want to go out and spend it on things I don’t need. So, I am not claiming to be a money expert and I know that there are plenty of things that I can do to be better at spending more wisely.

With that in mind, Glen and I found a few simple ways of saving money. In our first year of marriage we started living more wisely and our spending began to fit into that lifestyle. We are far from perfect but I figured that things like this which come naturally to us might really benefit a newly married couple.

Simple ways you can save money

Groceries

Shop once a week

Or maybe you shop once every two weeks (something I am currently experimenting with) or even once a month. The point here is that if you shop every day you are going to spend more money than you would if you had to shop less frequently.

Shop with intent

Make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t just buy things you feel like eating now, but keep the rest of your week in mind. Also, don’t be caught out by upsells – you know, those chips and sweets at the counter.

Create a meal plan

It really helps to stick to your shopping list when you know what meals you want to eat. Keep your meal plan handy, or you might end up with a “mystery box” of ingredients to work with.

Buy house brands

You usually pay extra for pretty packaging and the product inside usually doesn’t taste much different from the cheaper house brands. Of course, you might be fussy about your wine, for example, so buy your favourite brand. However, if peanut butter all tastes the same to you, buy the cheaper one.

Buy fresh veggies

If you have the time to peel and chop your own veggies, don’t pay extra for someone else to do it for you. Those items are there for convenience and a good way to save money is to just buy a whole butternut and chop it up instead of buying butternut cubes.

Don’t buy packets of sauce

We very rarely purchase ready made packets of sauce, or even those packets that require a bit of milk. Rather stock up on garlic, spices, olive oil, lemon juice and honey. They last for ages and are packed with natural flavour.

Related: Meal planning for newlyweds

Related: A weekly planner [free printable]

At home

Drink water

Not only is it great for your skin and overall health, drinking water keeps you fuller for longer and is a great way to stay hydrated without spending money and consuming sugars. We don’t keep juice at home, because we don’t enjoy it so we drink water with our meals. We’re also in the habit of ordering water when we eat out.

Snacks

To avoid late night trips to the convenience store, we always have snacks at home. We like fruit, yoghurt, popcorn and sugarfree rusks.

Blankets, not heaters

What’s the best way to spend all your money in winter? By using heaters! Your electricity or gas bill will go through the roof if you aren’t careful. Instead, use hot water bottles and warm blankets.

Entertainment

Special offers

A lot of restaurants have “2 for 1” deals. Make the most of any special offers and save money while eating out.

Have nice food at home

Now, there is nothing wrong with going out for a nice meal. However, Glen and I tend to do that when we aren’t particularly excited about the food we have at home. If you buy nice things, you’ll be less tempted to eat out.

Potluck dinners

If you’re having friends over, get everyone to bring something and cook together. Gourmet burgers, pizzas and mexican food like tacos and nachos are some of the things we love.

Games

Who says you have to go out to be entertained? We’ve got a lot of board games and card games and we’ve really enjoyed playing them with friends.

Shopping

You don’t need takeaway coffee

Glen, are you reading this? My husband is a big coffee lover and he always wants coffee. Always. When we’re out shopping, we are usually tempted to treat ourselves to a warm beverage. So, to combat this we always have nice hot chocolate and coffee at home. We’re less tempted to get takeaway drinks if we’ve got nice stuff at home.

Shop where there are benefits

You know those stores that give you points when you shop? Even if those points only result in getting a small discount or cashback voucher, you’re getting something in return.

Treat yourself

This might sound counterproductive, but if you never treat yourself you are more likely to succumb to a shopping binge. Every so often I buy myself a magazine, pretty nailpolish or a slab of my favourite chocolate. Those smaller treats aren’t super expensive and they prevent me from splurging on bigger things that I really don’t need.

A Free “Weekly Planner” Printable

I don’t know about you but I love to be organised. I have lots of lists, journals, planners, calendars and ways of keeping on top of my admin (and some of my husband’s too). I have lots of tips on how to stay organised and the first one I’ll give you is this: use a calendar and a “to do” list. I literally could not survive without mine. Having my trusty list with me helps me to know what tasks I’ve got to do, what appointments I need to prepare for, and what I want to get done.

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Your lists can be super simple or a little more detailed. I like to have a meal plan too [read all about how I plan my meals right here.]

Confession time… I sometimes complete tasks that I hadn’t added to my “to do” list (it happens when you try to be efficient), and when that happens I’ll always go back and write that item on my list just so I can tick it off. It’s just so satisfying ticking something off my list. Am I alone here?

Click here for free printables

I would love to see you using your printables, so take photos of your organised self making use of the printables in your home, upload them to Instagram and tag @lovelyprettyinsta.