St. PatRIcK's DaY at Epcot

We had a half day to see Epcot and wondered if it would be worth it. We knew the "Flower and Garden Festival" was going on, so that helped us decide. It was amazing. The flowers and Disney-themed topiaries were creative and colorful. We ran from country to country, but paused for awhile to take time for Scott to sketch and me to eat lunch. It was St. Patrick's Day, and lots of people were wearing green. The topiary characters were wearing green - in fact, they were green. 


gLiding over FloRida

The timing was perfect for our quick trip to Orlando last week! We got texts and pictures from home of rain and snow. Meantime, we experienced temperature shock as we stepped off the plane to 89 degrees! Doesn't take long to get used to that wonderfulness.

As is his tradition, once we were checked into our hotel, Scott went straight to the hotel's "tourist pamphlet" display and picked up an advertisement for airboat rides in the Everglades. Wait a sec. I thought the Everglades are way way south. (?) Come to find out, this place called Boggy Creek is at the northernmost point of the Everglades system and so, before I could say, "Real alligators," we were on our way to the Florida countryside. It was a short forty minute drive to go from mouse country to LakeTohopekaligo. (Short drive but worlds apart.)
Airboats are fast, loud, and fun. They skim the surface of the water powered by...not an airplane engine as I expected, but a Ford truck engine. The driver was friendly and knowledgeable and had a great twangy accent. 
I gave up trying to spot alligators within the first three minutes. Best thing to do is just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. 
The scenery is incredible. The sky, the water, the beautiful plants. As the lake reaches the horizon, the fluffy clouds come into view and take your breath away. 

            There were birds and ducks everywhere. We saw at least a dozen different types of birds. 

And HERE is our one and only alligator. The guide stopped the boat in the tall grass and gently floated with the current. Then he pointed and said, "There." Everyone saw it before me. It's right in the middle of the photo - a dark green spot that kind of looks like a tire. That's all we saw. No head, no eyes, no teeth. 
Although the alligator viewing was less than spectacular, the afternoon was amazing. As we drove, we saw cattle grazing in green fields - everywhere - and realized we were traveling through the boundaries of the LDS Florida ranch. We remembered a past trip when we toured the headquarters of the ranch. We tuned into the local country radio station and rolled down the windows to enjoy the warm, humid air. It was just one of those perfect days. 


me & my pLanners

I've used a planner "off and on" for many years. (Like since the early 1980s.) I enjoy writing things down in my planner, and using a planner helps me when I'm the most stressed. I've had numerous Franklin Planners and one Filofax. I prefer the quality of the Franklin Planners, so when I want a new one, I usually go to their website.

 I also write detailed to-do lists almost every day - most of the time they're written on note paper and not kept in my planner. They sit on my kitchen counter waiting to be completed. I'm tying to keep my to-do lists in a section of my planner, but as they say, "old habits die hard," and my habit of writing my list on a loose sheet of lined paper is pretty ingrained. So, my planner contains my week-at-a-glance calendar and other sections with information and notes. And my to-do lists float around. 
I wanted to increase the list cuteness, so I ordered a darling to-do list from Christy Tomlinson's Etsy shop. It's a printable download, so I can just print my lists on heavy paper at home whenever I want a few. (I love Christy's planner style, but that's another post!) 

Lately, there has been a resurgence in planner popularity - and I love it! It's so fun to follow the Instagram feeds of so-called "planner girls." There are Facebook groups and Pinterest boards filled with planner ideas. I love seeing so many women discover the joy of paper planning. And to add extra joy, there's a whole world of { planner decorating } and planner-page embellishing. AND there's a sub-category called listing that's really fun. I like all of it because it's a wonderful mix of scrapbooking, paper crafting, writing, and planning all rolled into one. Add the elements of social media sharing AND shopping, and I'm hooked. 

Sure, we all have our smart phones, and I do use mine to calendar and write notes including my favorite app Evernote. But there's nothing like sitting down with a piece of (good) paper and a favorite pen to plan the day, week, or month. 

I could go on and on, but instead I'm going to show my latest planner and a couple of my decorated weeks. My current planner is the Franklin Pippa. It's the "compact" size which is 6 1/4" wide and 7 3/4" high with one-inch rings. It's not too big, but not too small. It's easy to carry with me to a committee meeting or church. But I don't carry it in my purse every day. I use my iPhone to remember things when I'm out and about. And my to-do lists that I described above. In the planner world, the most popular sizes seem to be the A5 size and the personal size. The compact size is kind of in between and it's a Franklin-exclusive size. The paper measures 4 1/4" x 6 3/4". This can be hard to deal with if I'm wanting to buy special printable planner pages from little shops on Etsy. But as long as I stick with my pages from Franklin, I'm fine. 

The planner itself is high-quality leather, and for most months of the year the red/maroon color is great. Right now spring colors are more appealing, but I don't let that bother me. (Well, maybe I'm a little tempted to buy a spring planner. If I could find an aqua Kate Spade…) 

So, anyway, this is a good planner and good size and boy, does it have potential! I could utilize it a lot more and make it prettier inside too. I'd like to make a section for rotating menus because the need to fix meals never ends, even for empty nesters. And a section for notes as I read my scriptures. 
This is a sample of the week at a glance that I use. I MUST have my days set up vertically like these, rather than horizontally. This view is perfect EXCEPT for the ugly blue marbled design on it. I wish I could have a personal meeting with the company and explain why they need to make the same pages in a simple black and white color scheme. I would also prefer having the week begin on Sunday, but I understand why that's not possible. 

Here's my planner with a decorated week in February. I ordered an extra-special set of Valentine's stickers, paper and washi tape from the premiere planner girl, Christy Tomlinson of The Planner Society. (Christy's rise to planner prominence could be a whole post by itself! Think: hard work, more hard work, cute voice on Instagram, awesome art skills, over-the-top creativity.) You can see how I used pink Washi tape and other stickers to try to cover the blue-printed sections of the page. It's so pretty in the colors that match the month. As planner decorating goes...mine is quite mild. Look at The Planner Society's Instagram page for so gorgeous, super-decorated planner pages.

And here is last week in my planner. I usually take my pictures before I write EVERYTHING down - it's just prettier that way. As the week goes on, I can add things I need to remember and keep adding to my schedule. It's also valuable as I need to keep track of my mom's appointments since I'm her main chauffer and scheduler. If we both had to rely on my memory, we'd be in trouble. That's why I - and my mom - love my planner!