Holiday Time: Simple vs. Pleasures

During the holidays, do you prefer to keep things simple, or do you go all out? Do you decorate your house from top to bottom, send out tons of holiday cards, plan and prepare a large family dinner, bake lots of cookies, plan special family events, follow traditions, and so on? Or do you feel overwhelmed just by reading that list?

Christmas Tree

I think it is a balance between keeping things simple, but also satisfying your pleasures.

I absolutely love Christmas time – decorating, gift wrapping, spending time with family, seeing the holiday lights, going to various events, and so on. And, sometimes, there is even snow! It is so beautiful when you can stay inside and watch it, or when it doesn’t interrupt travel plans.

The holidays are the one time of the year that I typically break out the cookbooks, search online for recipes and really plan out a menu. Yes, if I host a party I may do this on a smaller scale, but it is really Thanksgiving and Christmas that I get into it.

But it can also be a lot of work. My family says, oh just keep it simple. Just make some basic everyday food. That will be fine.

Yes, that is simple, but that is what we have every day the rest of the year! The holidays are my time to experiment, try new things, and feel proud of those accomplishments. Each year I also like to add to “my favorites” binder of recipes. I can only do this if I try out new ones.

So I have to find a balance between keeping it simple and not stressful and satisfying my pleasure of cooking and baking. It is a challenge.

However, since I find pleasure in planning the menu, shopping for the groceries, cooking, baking, and even making the little menu cards, it really feels fine to me to not keep it too simple. Because in this case, keeping it too simple would take away the joy of it for me.

How I simplify my holiday cooking and baking pleasure:

  • I flip through my cookbooks or search online for ideas or inspiration. It is fun to discover new recipes. I print out or photocopy all the recipes I plan to use.
  • I order my groceries online. It is so simple to type what I need in a search box than spend time searching for it in the store! I pick up my groceries from the store: I drive up, I pay, and they put the bags in my car! Very simple!
  • I do any baking and pre-cooking or prep that I can the day before the big event or holiday.
  • I use slow-cooker recipes when possible. Just throw in the ingredients and let it cook itself. I have a couple of slow cookers so I can keep the food warm as guests arrive.
  • I use recipes that have similar ingredients and that make a lot of extras (leftovers take care of several days of meals!).

So when it comes to whatever you take delight in during the holidays, remember to keep things simple as much as possible, but don’t let the “simple” take away the pleasure in the things.

What types of holiday pleasures do you enjoy that aren’t quite simple?

A Cozy Chicken Noodle Meal

chicken noodle meal

With colder nights upon us, it was time to bring out one of my favorite dinners. It is super simple to make, is very warm and filling, and there are almost always leftovers! It is a perfect meal for a cold winter’s evening. Oh, and it is delicious!

This Cozy Chicken Noodle Meal includes 3 simple ingredients:

  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Biscuits

For the chicken noodle soup:

First, cut up and cook some chicken. Then make the noodle soup. I use Mrs. Grass Homestyle Chicken Noodle mix. It is simple and delicious. Mix the cooked chicken in with the soup mix.

Mrs. Grass Noodle Mix

For the mashed potatoes:

You can use the instant potatoes if you are short on time and like those, or peel and boil 4-6 potatoes, depending on your family size. If I make about 4-5 potatoes, it is enough for 4 people, but with no leftovers. Once the potatoes are soft, mash the potatoes using butter and milk, or as desired.

For the biscuits:

Simply make a package of Pillsbury Homestyle Original Biscuits, or your favorite biscuits!

Put it all together:

Cut a biscuit in half and place both sides, inside up on the plate. Put some mashed potatoes on top of the biscuit halves. Spoon chicken noodle soup over top. Enjoy!

What cozy, cold winter meals do you enjoy?

My k.i.d.s. formula for organizing with kids

Organizing with KidsWhile I don’t have any children of my own, I do know that children’s toys, clothes and other items need an organizing system just like the rest of the items in our lives. This is especially true for all those toys! And with birthdays and holidays every year, the toys quickly add up!

As a parent or caregiver, you might be tempted to just grab a big bin and throw in everything together, or even grab a trash bag and start hauling items to the dump.

But take a deep breath and remember my K.I.D.S. formula for organizing with kids.

  • Keep it at their level
  • Involve them in the organization
  • Designate a home for everything
  • Set up systems and stay supportive

Keep it at their level

  • Set up closet rods and shelves so that your children can reach items. Store seasonal and less frequently used items higher.
  • Hang some Command hooks within your children’s reach so they can easily access and hang up jackets, backpacks and bags.
  • Create storage solutions with fun and attractive containers that are convenient for your children and where they typically play.

Involve them in the organization

  • Consider your children’s needs, wants, frustrations and concerns. They may be upset because their toys always end up broken, they can’t find something when they need it, they lose their homework and get in trouble, or they are bothered by something you didn’t even realize. They may really want a place where they can store their rock collection or have a dress-up area for their dolls.
  • Help your children understand that it is important to donate items they are no longer using, or to throw away broken items that cannot be fixed. Provide guidance and support, but let your children make decisions about what to keep and what to throw away.
  • Teach them the importance of putting items back after they are done with them. Items are less likely to be broken, lost or messed up in some way if they are put back where they belong.

Designate a home for everything

  • Create a place for everything – every toy, every art supply, every memento, and every piece of clothing. If something doesn’t have a home, your children will have no place to put it and it will look like “clutter.”
  • Make sure your children know where the home is for everything. Use labels wherever possible. If the child cannot read yet, use pictures.
  • Keep a bin in the closet, or somewhere else in your children’s rooms, that can be used to gather items to be donated.
  • Create extra space in a room by using over-the-door hanging solutions and under-the-bed storage. A bunk bed with a desk or play area underneath is also great for small bedrooms.
  • Create memory boxes or books. Every year gather all your children’s creations and take photos of them. Then pick out your favorites together. Include the originals of the favorites and the photos in your chosen memory container and toss the rest. Over time, you and your children will create a treasure that will be cherished forever, and be reasonable in size.

Set up systems and stay supportive

  • Create family rules to help keep everything and everyone organized. For example:
    • Make your bed every morning.
    • Tidy up the living/family rooms and bedrooms every evening. (You can even set a timer and make a game out of it.)
    • All items that need to be taken upstairs at the end of the night should be placed in the basket on or by the stairs.
    • All outside toys must be put back on the patio or deck before coming in for the evening.

Basically whatever rules will work for your family and home.

  • Stay supportive. Once you and your children organize all the items and have a place for everything, reward yourselves for your hard work. Make sure your children feel proud of their accomplishment. However, remember that it needs to be maintained and that requires new habits to be formed. This takes time, reminders, support, patience, and adjustments as your children grow and things change. If your children start to become disorganized again, reframe from blaming the children or yourself, or getting angry. Talk to your children and run through the K.I.D.S. formula again to find the real problem and the right solution.

Products that can help organize children’s items:

  • Chrome Locker Baskets
  • Double Duty
  • Gear Pockets
  • Handbag File
  • Peek-a-Boo! I See You
  • Peek-a-Book! Treasure Box
  • Toy Hammock
  • TuffTotes
  • Bin There
  • Bin Pulls and Cubes
  • Stuff It
  • Over-the-Door Pantry Organizer
  • Clever Bucket

Visit my website at to order these and other products.

Contact me if you would like any suggestions for your organizing dilemmas!

What tips do you have for organizing with kids?


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Running a household, caring for children and still finding time to pursue your passions is not an easy order, but this week’s bundle is designed to give you the tools to make the most of the 24 hours you’re given each day. Discover tips for creating schedules and routines, the importance of rest, strategies to help you be on time and more!, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

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Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews
Tell Your Time: How To Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free outlines Amy’s straightforward, step-by-step approach to controlling your schedule and ensuring the important things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s short and to the point with no fluff or filler. This little ebook will help you accomplish not only what’s on your to-do list today, but what’s on your to-do list for life.

Honoring the Rhythm of Rest by Daniele Evans
In a culture where many of us are simply moving too fast and pausing less often for a break, for time off or for intentional rest, Daniele offers a better way. Honoring the Rhythm of Rest will encourage and equip you to understand the meaning of true rest; to ask of yourself ,”Am I living intense, or intentional?”; to counteract the myth of doing it all; to consider 3 intentional ways to practice rest; and to journey back from burnout!

28 Days to Timeliness by Davonne Parks
Two years ago, Davonne began working on becoming more timely, and she decided then that if she could ever figure out how to be on time, she’d write a book about it. Throughout her journey, she discovered what makes some people late, tips and tricks other people use to be on time and how to enjoy freedom and spontaneity within boundaries as she made significant progress in her own life. In 28 Days to Timeliness, she shares 28 short, easy-to-read segments that take just a few minutes to go over each day with a practical course of action to move help you be on time.

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The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule by Amy Roberts
With plenty of charts, printables, examples and links, The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule includes step-by-step instructions for creating the perfect homemaking schedule as well as a bonus section on creating the perfect homeschooling schedule. Amy shows you how to work with your unique family dynamics, how to make a schedule stick, how to delegate chores and more!

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25 Kitchen Organizing Tips


The kitchen is where people gather. It is the heart of the home. It is the most important room in the house, or at least one of the most important rooms. But with everyone using it daily, it can quickly become disorganized.

Here are 25 kitchen organizing tips for your cupboards, drawers, pantry and fridge.

You can save a lot of money by knowing what you already have in your kitchen, what you really need, and what you should eat before it goes bad!

Tip #1: The first thing you should do is throw away all expired items and questionable items. When in doubt, throw it out! Donate working kitchen appliances and extra dishes, glasses, utensils and other gadgets. By removing what you don’t use or like, you’ll be able to find the items you do use and love.


  • Broken items
  • Duplicate items that you don’t use (and consider donating those)
  • Pots and pans that are burnt or rusty
  • Items you don’t like or think are ugly
  • Excess plastic containers – keep your best ones and ones you have a matching lid for!
  • Appliances and gadgets you never use
  • Expired items
  • Bruised or rotting produce
  • Food you are not eating or really didn’t like

Tip #2: You can organize a pantry or your cabinets by packaging type or by item type. Organizing by packaging type means grouping items by their packaging – such as cans, small boxes, or large boxes. Organizing by item type means creating groups such as pasta night ingredients, baking supplies, BBQ items, soup ingredients, etc.

Products that can help:

  • Expandable Pantry Shelf
  • Corner Shelf
  • Over the Door Pantry Organizer
  • Chrome Locker Baskets
  • Drawer Designers (yes, they can be used in the pantry too for lightweight items and they don’t have to be placed in drawers!)
  • Fridge Cubes (also think-outside-the-fridge when it comes to this handy product!)

Tip #3:  When placing items in containers, use a label marker and label everything clearly so you know what it is.

Tip #4: Make sure heavier and fragile items are placed on the lower shelves, and lighter and bulkier items are placed on top.

Tip #5: You can gain more space by taking items out of their bulky packaging, such as individually wrapped bags of chips, crackers and cookies. You can store these items in Chrome Locker Baskets, Bins and Cubes, and ZipVac Bags.

Tip #6: If your pantry and kitchen shelves are adjustable, adjust them to fit items in your pantry and cabinets better. The Expandable Pantry Shelf, Over the Door Pantry Organizer and Corner Shelf will also help provide needed space, whether or not your shelves are adjustable.

Tip #7: Open, breathable containers are perfect for potatoes and onions. They extend the life of the produce. You can use the Chrome Locker Baskets.

Tip #8: Create an information station to control mail, papers, messages and reminders. All these things seem to make their way into the hub of the home – the kitchen.  Consider the Black Scroll Letter Holder, Single Chrome Letter/Key Holder, Magnetic Message Central, Magnetic Clips Set/3, File the Pile and Panic No More, the Project Board, or Pretty Paper.

Tip#9: The fewer items you have on the counter, the easier the counters are to clean. In fact, the less stuff you have anywhere, the easier those areas are to clean! Try using the walls, the inside of cabinets, and any vertical space you have. Try products such as Wraprack, Under the Shelf Cup Rack, Over the Cabinet Towel Bar, Over the Drawer Double Hook, Over the Door Pantry Organizer, and Hold Everything.

Tip #10: Organize your drawers by using products as the Drawer Designers, the Drawer Organizer or the Basket Bins.

Tip#11: Everything in your kitchen should have a home! And each item should be put back in its home when you are done using it.

Tip#12: Use a dual garbage bin for trash and recycling sorting. Or use a Chrome Locker Basket to temporarily store recyclables.

Tip#13: Place plasticware containers and lids in a dedicated deep drawer. Use the Drawer Designers to keep them separated and lined up as needed. You can also store plasticware in the Chrome Locker Baskets. Use plasticware containers that have stackable lids for easier storage.

Tip #14: Create zones in your kitchen, such as a baking zone by the oven, a dishes zone by the dishwasher and sink, and a cooking zone by the stove. Do not fill any extra space in a zone with unrelated items. Pick the appropriate “home” for each zone based on the best location and how many items the “home” needs to hold.

Tip #15: Keep an “Out” list on the fridge where family members indicate what they are out of. This could be a blank sheet of paper or it could be part of a shopping list that includes typical items you buy, organized by the layout of your favorite store. When you need them, check them off. Take the list with you and cross them off while you shop.

Tip#16: Use containers to organize food in the fridge. The see-through Fridge Cubes and Bins are great for holding lunchmeat, fruit drinks, yogurt, bottles of water, fruit cups, cheese sticks, and more. Organize your items by type such as meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, dairy, beverages and ingredients to make a meal. You can also organize by person or by size and shape. By having an organized fridge, you can save money by eating what you have before it goes bad and by not buying items you already have.

Tip 17#: If you need more space in your kitchen and you have a dining room, move serving pieces, tablecloths, napkins, etc. to a cabinet in the dining room. You can even store your cookbooks in the dining room. Appliances or pans that you only use for special occasions or holidays can be stored in the basement, if available. For dishes you inherited from family members – consider taking photos of the pieces and donating them. If you really can’t part with them, store them securely in the attic, basement or a spare closet.

Tip#18: Stack pots and pans by using cookware protectors between them. You can purchase cookware protectors from Pampered Chef (#2888 Cookware Protectors from

Tip #19: Organize pan lids, baking sheets and serving trays with the Wire Chrome Dividers.

Tip #20: Store plastic grocery bags in the Chrome Plastic Bag Recycler or by using the over-the-cabinet-door Plastic Bag Holder. Use a Double Duty cube to store the reusable bags and easily transport them from the kitchen to the car.

Tip #21: Organize takeout menus in the Takeout Menu Organizer and organize recipes in the Collected Recipes Cookbook, Accordion Recipe File, or Recipe File Folders and Bamboo File Folder.

Tip #22: To help remember what goes where in your pantry and cabinets, label the shelf edges with a label maker. You might create labels for areas such as pasta, canned goods, snacks, and beverages. This is also helpful so others in your household know where to put items.

Tip #23: Clean off the front of the refrigerator and toss old coupons, notes or duplicate magnets. Keep what you need, and organize it in a way that makes sense. Take a picture of your children’s artwork and store your favorites. You can use the bottom part of the Peek-a-Boo! I See You for artwork storage.

Tip #24: When storing your drinking glasses, create columns for each size glass. For example, let’s say your cabinet allows you to have 5 rows of glasses and you have 3 types of glasses: short, tall and wine. You might then have two columns of short glasses, two columns of tall glasses, and one column of wine glasses. The point is to be able to easily see and reach each type of glass you have.

Tip #25: Go to bed each night with an empty sink and clean countertops. Put things away as you use them, when possible, and wash dishes or load the dishwasher after each meal. Wake up every morning to a clean, organized kitchen. It will be rewarding!

You can purchase many of the items mentioned in this post at

What other kitchen organizing tips do you have?


7 Closet Organizing Tips

If you struggle with locating your clothes, putting away your clothes, or you just find the experience unenjoyable, it is time to organize your closet and dresser drawers.

By getting your closet and dresser organized, you can:

  • save time by being able to find outfits when you need them, and put them away easily on laundry day.
  • save money because you will be able to see what you own and realize that, yes, you do have clothes to wear – they were just a little buried!
  • start to love your clothes again. Having an organized closet and dresser makes getting ready in the morning much easier and enjoyable.
  • feel more confident because you will be able to dress your best with less stress!

Here are 7 tips to help you get your closet and dresser organized this spring!

Closet photo

Tip #1: Make your closet look more organized by using the same hangers – same size and, if possible, same color.  White or light colors work best because they are neutral. My goal is to have all white hangers, but we still have a few colored ones. You don’t have to throw away good hangers, just try to always buy the same ones. Also, use the plastic or wood hangers instead of the wire ones.

Tip #2: Americans tend to wear 20% of their clothing 80% of the time. Here’s a simple trick that you can do two times a year to help keep your closet overflow to a minimum. You’ll start this one in the fall for your fall and winter clothes and in the spring for your spring and summer clothes.  To figure out what you really use and what you need to lose, turn all your hangers backward in your closet.  After you have worn a piece of clothing and are returning it to the closet turn the hanger around before putting the piece back.  Do this for 6 months.  At the end of 6 months, you’ll see what was left untouched.  Strive to empty out half of the unused clothing.

Tip #3: Roll socks instead of folding them together.  They’ll last longer since the elastic will not stretch out each time you wash them.  You can keep socks organized by using drawer designers. You can buy these from my website under the Closet category.

Drawer Designer Combo

Tip #4: When placing socks, underwear or bras back into the drawers once they’ve been washed, move them to the back of the drawer.  This way you’ll be wearing each item in cycles and you can extend the life of your articles.

Tip #5: Make sure your closet has very good, bright lighting so you can actually see all your items.

Closet Ceiling Light

Tip #6: Keep a “Donate” container nearby so when you find something you never wear or don’t want anymore, you can easily drop it in. Once it is full, take it to Goodwill or your favorite donation place. If you struggle with giving something up, think about how it can benefit someone who needs it much more than you. You can use the Jumbo Eyelet Tote as your “Donate” container. You can buy this from my website under the Storage category.

Jumbo Eyelet Tote

Tip #7: Use every inch of closet space to its maximum potential. The single rod-and-shelf configuration that comes standard in most closets is not practical and wastes tons of storage space. Use a double-rod configuration for short hanging such as shirts, skirts, and jackets. Use a regular rod on top and pant hangers on the bottom, if possible.

Closet photo

Place a shelf above the top rod and use shelf dividers to separate clothes and to keep them from falling on top each other. You can buy shelf dividers on my website under the Closet category.

Curved Shelf Dividers

Consider storing those bulky winter coats and sweaters. To save space, you can use the Clever Cache – just fill, seal and roll and you can go from 10 inches of sweaters to 3 inches of storage. You can find that product in the Storage category on my website.

Clever Cache

Use clear shoe boxes or a shoe rack on the floor to organize your shoes. You can buy shoe boxes under the Closet category.

Shoe Boxes

Use a “hanger hamper” to store extra hangers. You can find the hanger hamper online at my Amazon store.

Hanger Hamper

What closet organizing tips do you have?


Simple solution for hanging tanks and camis

It’s getting hotter outside, and our wardrobes are going from warm and cozy to “help keep me cool!” lightweight fabrics, with, well, less fabric! It’s time for summer tanks and camis. While these little tops are cute and cool, they are tough to hang on traditional hangers. You might find more of them lying on your closet floor or stuck between other clothes than actually on the hangers.

Here is a simple solution for hanging tanks and camis: use a belt hanger!

Sure, a belt hanger can be used for belts, but it is also great for tanks and camis.

Belt Hanger with Tanks and Camis

Need a belt hanger for your tanks, camis, or even belts? You can buy one by visiting my website at and looking for the belt hanger in the Closet category. Just click on Shop Now in the upper right-hand corner of the site and then click on Closet.

What other clothing items do you have trouble hanging, storing or organizing?


Tech & Internet ebook Bundle, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

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Once Upon the Internet by Marla Taviano
Once Upon the Internet is the funny and touching memoir of the Tavianos’ one-year quest to visit 52 zoos in 52 weeks — and the online friends who helped make it possible. Through the course of their journey, they stayed with 31 different families, 17 of whom they’d never met in person (and countless others met them at zoos along the way), and today some of their dearest friends are ones they first met on the internet.

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Alli’s iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide is your go-to guide for the best iPhone photo editing apps. With plenty of full-color images, you’ll find step-by-step tutorials to capture and create stunning images yourself as well as ideas for using iPhone photos to stay organized, save money and just be happier.

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This post contains affiliate links.

A Money Management Grid

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s time management grid which is made up of the following four quadrants:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Important and Urgent
  • Important and Not Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

This grid can help you figure out the priority of your to-do items.

This past weekend I was thinking about how I could categorize things we spend money on so we could prioritize them. I ended up with a modified version of the time management grid, only for money. So here is a money management grid to help you prioritize what to spend your hard-earned money on.

Here is how my money management grid works:

Necessity or Not: There are bills we have to pay, things we need to pay for, or investments we need to make that we would consider necessities. There are other items that we may pay for that are not vital to live, but we like to have them.

Consistent or Not: Some bills or items have a consistent cost associated with them. Every month the mortgage and car payment are the same. Other items do not have a consistent cost, such as groceries. The amount we spend at the store varies each month. We could spend a set amount or we could spend less, if need be.

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)


Money Management Grid

Click on the image to enlarge. 

The items in my example are not necessarily my items. I included several items that I thought were common and others to get you thinking about what items you would include in your own grid.

It is important that you list the items in priority order as well. That way, if you do find that you don’t have enough money, you will know what items need to fall off your list. (Again, my example isn’t necessarily in priority order – it is just an example. Everyone will have their own list of items with their own priority.)

Note that I have savings in both the NC and XNXC quadrants. Savings should really be a necessity and consistent but if you are struggling to just put food on the table, contributing to savings may not be one of your top priorities, or a realistic one. But remember that even setting aside a dollar a day can be savings!

So when you are trying to figure out a budget, consider:

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)

Your Income – NC –  NXC (average) = $some amount

NC and NXC are the items you consider to be necessities. So your money must first be used to pay for those items.

Then work with what you have left for the Not Necessity items: XNC and XNXC (average), based on priority.

If something does have a consistent cost and you choose to include it as a top priority, then you know exactly how much money you will need for it.

If something does not have a consistent cost and you choose to include it, then you will need to set a budget for that item. For example, for hobby supplies, you may have only $20 to spend every month.

You should also set aside an “emergency fund” for when unplanned things happen or a not consistent item ends up costing more one month than usual.

If “Necessity” and “Consistent” don’t work for you, you can obviously modify the grid to use the criteria that make sense to you.

Also, please note that I am not a financial advisor by any means. This is just an idea I had that I wanted to share in case you would find it helpful. If you need financial advice, please seek professional help. 

If you like this idea, feel free to download the PowerPoint or the PDF version of the blank grid below for your personal use.

Money Management Grid

Download the free printable grid now:

What other items would you add to the money management grid?


Gardening ebook Bundle, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

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In Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving, Laura shares her tips for a successful, organic garden, including how, what and when to plant. Beyond gardening, you’ll also find her strategies for making the most of your farmer’s market plus canning tutorials and recipes to help you preserve your harvest.

The Gardening Notebook by Angi Schneider
In addition to a how-to guide for gardening beginners, Angi has created the perfect spot for recording all of your notes and research for your garden. With more than 50 pages of printables, The Gardening Notebook is the perfect way to organize everything you need or want to remember for your garden!

The Gardening bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 4/29. Get yours today:


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