Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Scoutie Girl: Tooling Around - Make 2013 your best year yet

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, however January is a great time to consider your plans and goals for the year, don’t you think?

With that in mind, my first Scoutie Girl post for the year is all about defining your goals (business or otherwise) and some tricks to help you find the time to achieve them.

You can read the post here.

My goals for 2013 you ask? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are a couple of things:

  • Edit our overseas photos and create an album (February)
  • Launch the Atypical Type A redesign and shop (March)
  • Finally renovate the bathroom (Easter break)
  • Do something special to celebrate The Man’s and my ten years (!) together (August)
  • Do up the porch and front garden (September)

Plus many, many plans I have for the business!

How about you? What’s on your agenda for 2013?


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Scoutie Girl: Tooling Around - Holiday-proof your business

Right now I am frantically trying to finish up client work, schedule my posts, submit all my regular guest posts and generally prepare to leave my business for six weeks – eek!

With that in mind, this month’s guest post over on Scoutie Girl is about some of the tricks I’ve been employing to make sure my business doesn’t fall apart (or into oblivion) while I’m away. Even if you’re not a business owner, you’ll find some of the tips useful as an employee preparing for annual leave.

Hop over and read it now!

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I think you’ll all agree when I say that paperwork is one of the biggest clutter culprits in most homes. ‘Going paperless’ is a semi-regular series on eliminating paper from your home in order to save time, reduce clutter and benefit the environment.

Step 2: Digitising

recipe folder 1

Going paperless with my recipe collection was actually not something I was ever planning to do. My chunky lever-arch file with the dog-eared category ‘tabs’ (aka Post-Its) had seen better days and was very full, but I was planning to do up really cute laminated cards and use my old card catalogue drawers to organise them.

The nostalgic in me feels that when I’m old my kids aren’t going to wistfully flip through a digital folder of recipes in the way that you might with mum’s tattered, splattered and scribbled family favourites.

recipe folder 2

In the end, though, practicality won (sorry, grandkids). As you can see from the photo above, even when I’ve gone to the trouble of formatting recipes in a nice template and printing them out, I continue to scribble notes and tweaks I’ve made.

Much like my shoe collection, I also don’t want my recipes to be limited by space. I have a number of stiletto-equivalent recipes – sure, I’m not going to make that fancy cake very often, but I still want to keep it for future special occasions. I don’t want to have to go through my collection and cull just because my folder or drawer is full.

So, digital it is!

recipe organisation app

I did a bit of research on all the free apps for iPad and there was always a feature or two missing, for example, you couldn’t add your own recipes (what?!), or you couldn’t add recipes straight from the internet (or only from selected sites), or it didn’t have photos, or it was all in imperial measurements… or it had a completely heinous design that would make me want to poke my eyes out every time I started cooking.

So I bit the bullet and bought my first paid app (why is it that we don’t hesitate to drop five bucks on a grande latte but balk at the idea of paying the same for a valuable tool that will help us every day?).

recipe organisation app 2

It’s called Paprika. The best feature is the ability to download recipes from ANY site. The majority of my recipes come from so I could kick-start my collection in a cinch. The rest (from cookbooks and my own creations) I’m slowly copying over. It will take some time to transfer everything but it’s an easy job sitting in front of the telly.

It does have a shopping list and feature but I find it a little pointless (I mean, I don’t need to buy oil, salt, pepper, spices, rice etc for every meal I cook). I also can’t work out how to view by multiple categories, for example, if I’m looking for a vegetarian main course I have to view either everything under ‘Vegetarian’ or everything under ‘Mains’.

Apart from that, it’s working great!

Tell me, how do you organise your recipes?

Oh, and I haven’t been paid to write this – or any other – post. I just really like the product!

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Regency birthday card
Birthday card from Akimbo

Don’t you hate that sinking feeling when you remember someone’s birthday… which was two days ago?

Here are some methods to consider if you use the word ‘belated’ in your birthday wishes more often than not.

Birthday book
A cute notebook listing birthdays by month. Convenient if you keep it with your cards and wrapping supplies… but only if you remember to actually check it.

Yearly diary/calendar
Take your birthday book or last year’s diary and copy out all the important dates. Great if you are in the habit of using your diary or calendar daily.

Perpetual calendar
If you like the idea of a paper-based solution but don’t want to have to re-write them every year or know you’ll never remember to look at your birthday book, try a perpetual calendar (one that has dates but no year or days of the week). Keep it somewhere in plain sight (such as the kitchen or study) so with a passing glance you’ll know what’s coming up (and the family will have no excuse not to remember your birthday).

Or, if you think pen and paper is virtually medieval, here are some electronic options:

This works OK for acquiantances but for family and close friends you’ll probably want more notice to give yourself enough time to send a card or buy a gift. And of course it’s useless for your nanna and baby nephew who don’t have profiles. (Sidenote: Before Facebook I used to get credit for remembering friend’s birthdays, now everyone they know gets an automatic reminder. So ripped off!)

Use a reminder system such as Remember the Milk on your phone or online.

Use your mail system’s calendar to enter birthdays to repeat annually. You can set the reminders to whenever you like, for example you can set it a few weeks beforehand if you know you need time to buy or post a present but on the day is fine if all you need to do is phone the birthday person. This is my preferred method, but it may not be for you if you are not on your computer much.

Tell me, what system do you use and does it work for you?

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This may seem like a self-destructive article seeing as I’m an invitation designer. But truth is, I would rather see couples use their budget wisely to get the best possible stationery rather than have them think it’s out of their reach and automatically go for some seemingly cheaper sub-standard option. I see plenty of couples who value beautiful wedding stationery but have a limited budget and I always really want to help them make the most of it. If this sounds like you, read on!

Akimbo Precious wedding invitation

Precious wedding invitation by Akimbo

Order early
Some stationery companies will charge a rush rate if you leave your ordering too late. Avoid the rush fee by placing your order no later than four months before the day.

Order everything at once
Some printing processes will be much more efficient when printing numerous simliar items together, especially if we’re talking about custom ink colours or specially-ordered stock. Print your day-of stationery and thank you notes at the same time and you could save some dough. Moreover (wow, haven’t cracked out that word since writing my last design history essay six years ago) if you’re ordering online, you’ll definitely save on shipping costs.

Order plenty
Increasing your order by a handful will cost you a few beans, but re-ordering the same handful will be a significant extra cost since the printing process is more cost-effective when producing larger quantities. So if you’re umming and ahing about a few guests, err on the side of caution and order invitations for them anyway. Similarly, if you’re having any items hand-calligraphed, order a few extra in case your calligrapher makes a spelling mistake. It’s not a waste if you have a bunch leftover, ask around and you’ll probably find a few guests who would appreciate an extra invitation for their scrapbook or as a keepsake (my father-in-law has added a spare of ours to the family history collection).

Stick to the standard
As much as I love creating unique invitations specifically for a couple, there is absolutely nothing wrong with off-the-shelf styles. Do your research and you might find something that suits you perfectly as is, which will save you having to pay for the design work. Your stationer also might be willing (I know I am!) to tweak an existing design for a small fee rather than starting from scratch, which would be much pricier.

Be selective with colours
If your invitations will be printed digitally, you can go nuts with as many colours as you like since it doesn’t affect the price. With most other processes, however, each colour needs to be printed individually so additional colours will add cost. If you have your heart set on a two- or three-colour invitation, you can still trim the cost by printing the coordinating items in single colour or in digital.

Limit the guest personalisation
With printing methods that use plates (such as letterpress) it’s not possible to add the guest’s name to the invitation. It’s an option with digital, however it will cost a bit more, so consider whether you really need it.

Plan and check carefully
Most designers won’t let you make infinite changes without charge; in my case I supply two rounds of proofs and any further revisions will be billed. To avoid additional cost, think carefully about your needs and wording and check your proofs thoroughly (better yet, have a second pair of eyes proof-read).

Skip the extra envelopes
Postcards are an increasingly popular format for save the dates and RSVP cards as it eliminates the need for an envelope. From what I can tell, outer envelopes (a second, slighter larger envelope to keep the inner envelope pristine) seem to be commonplace in the US, however they do add unecessary cost in the form of an additional envelope and calligraphy or labelling. In Australia, this decision is made easy by the fact that no-one sells them!

Reduce the postage
Ask your invitation designer to keep the size and weight to within standard postage to avoid extra costs – or worse, a pile of returned invitations covered in ‘insufficient postage’ stamps. I have received invitations where the RSVP envelope came pre-stamped, which is a nice gesture, but if funds are tight let guests pay their own 60c.

Lose the liners
I love envelope liners but even I admit they are definitely a bonus not a requirement. Or you could have the best of both worlds and go the DIY route like I did.

Limit the calligraphy
Anything done by hand will add significant cost, so consider having printed mailing labels instead of calligraphed addresses or trying your hand using this cheat’s technique. If you still want to incorporate calligraphy but don’t have the budget for the individual addressing, have your stationer work with a calligrapher to design the invitation wording, monogram or return address that can then be affordably reproduced with printing or rubber stamping.

Take advantage of printable extras
All the little extras to complement an invitation suite (think favour tags, mailing labels, place tags etc) can add up. Once I’ve designed the main suite, designing these is light work and the print quality is not as important so I like to give these away as free downloads for customers to print at home. When you’re considering stationers, compare the price of all the items you need not just the invitations, to make sure you’re making an accurate comparison.

Be open with your stationer about your budget so she can help you make the most of it. You may have to make the odd compromise here or there, but you don’t have to cancel the honeymoon just to pay for top quality wedding stationery.

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I had a whole bag of scrabble tiles leftover from another project (more on that another time) that were crying out to be repurposed. I’ll be going through a few ideas over the coming weeks. First up, we have fridge magnets:

Scrabble tile magnets happy day

You could spell out lovely messages according to what’s being displayed (as with the invitation above) or go a bit more practical as in the examples below:

Scrabble tile magnets shopping

Scrabble tile magnets dinner

Although I have to admit the lack of punctuation in this last one offends the pedant in me.

Grammar aside, here’s the so-simple-I-wonder-why-I-did-a-tutorial instructions:

You will need:

  • scrabble tiles (I bought mine here)
  • strong magnets (I bought mine here)
  • superglue

InstructionsScrabble tile magnets tutorial

1. Apply small dab of glue onto reverse of tile.

2. Press magnet into glue. Allow to dry.

What would you like to spell out with your magnets?

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Before you scream ‘whaaat, you’re already talking about NEXT Christmas?!’, bear with me. There are a couple of easy things you can do while you’re packing everything away to make life so much easier when next December rolls around. Your future self will thank you.

Trisha Brink vintage ornamentsTrisha Brink Design

Buy on sale
I know some people suggest buying all your gifts, cards and wrapping paper a year ahead at the sales. As much as I appreciate a little forward planning, I think that’s overkill. Besides, I have limited cupboard space so I don’t want to waste it storing festive consumables. However, I do like to use the opportunity freshen up the ornament collection at half price, especially since we’re in the early years of living independently and haven’t yet built up a big collection.

Label your decorations
When you pack up after Christmas this year, place similar items in each box and label them according to use. To make things easier you might even like to label some of the individual items, so you don’t pull out two almost-identical garlands and wonder (as you do every year) which is the one that fits the mantle and which goes on the stairs? Go one step further and pack them back in the cupboard so that the box you need first (say, the card display or advent calendar) is easily accessible and the items you need last (like table decorations) are at the back.

Repurpose your remnants
Use some of the ideas in this post to reuse this year’s cards and wrap into original pieces for next year. Not only will you have a head-start on next year’s supplies, but you’ll also be reducing waste.

Make notes on your recipes
When you only make something once a year, it’s easy to forget those tweaks you decided you’d make next time. Jot down some notes when you think of them though, and you’ll be on your way to perfecting that family favourite.

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Joy garland
Image source

With office parties, club breakups, social gatherings, family catch-ups not to mention decorating, shopping and cooking… it’s no wonder everyone agrees how busy the Christmas and New Year period is. The question is, how to survive it without wanting to jump off the roof instead of putting up the lights.

Plan ahead
It might be obvious, but it bears repeating. I often pick up presents throughout the year, especially if I’m out of town or at a mid-year market so that I can find something more meaningful and unique. It’s often cheaper as you’ll be able to take advantage of sales and avoid overspending out of last minute desperation. This goes for more than just presents: buy drinks, wrapping paper and non-perishable foods before the shops get packed and pre-order your turkey or seafood so you’re not stuck in a queue on Christmas Eve.

Keep it simple
You don’t need to make every room in the house look like a pine forest and serve a six course hot meal to have a home full of festive spirit. I love the smell of a real Christmas tree, but it’s outweighed by my dislike of sweeping the floor twice a day, so it’s fake all the way. My family tradition is a cold seafood lunch for Christmas Day (Northern Hemsiphere readers, remember it’s the middle of summer here). It’s wonderful: it can mostly be done in advance, no one is slaving away in a hot kitchen and everyone is relaxing with a glass of red bubbles in one hand and a canape in the other by 11am! Now, this isn’t to say don’t put in any effort, but just keep it realistic. Last year, for example, I needed to bring a dish to each of several occasions around Christmas. I enjoy cooking and love trying new things, but I limited myself to one more complicated food ‘project’ (a gingerbread tree) and kept the rest to quick dishes that I had made before.

Don’t overschedule
Does your Christmas have you triple-booked and driving all over town from one gathering to another? I don’t know about you, but for me that equals one tired, cranky grinch. Sure, there are always lots of people to see (and that doubles when you gain a significant other) but you really don’t need to see everyone you know within three days. Another way to cut down on commitments without offending anyone? Just combine parties! For example, this Christmas instead of spending lunch with my parents then rushing to dinner with The Man’s, my in-laws simply invited my family over for lunch with them. We get double the fun at lunch but get to relax on the couch full of pudding knowing we aren’t expected anywhere else.

Only do the things that bring you joy
Sorry for sounding a bit Oprah’s book club there, but I really do advise against doing things just because they’re expected even when the enjoyment has gone. Perhaps you’ve been making truffles every Christmas for years so the family expects them but you’re bored and want to try something else, or maybe you normally put on a spectacular light show in the front yard but lately it’s started to feel like a chore. Hell, I’m a stationery designer and I didn’t even send out Christmas cards last year because it didn’t feel genuine. Forget the expectations and go with what makes you happy each year and you’ll truly be feeling the spirit.

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Woodland Christmas gift ideas list

I know what you’re going to say, but it really isn’t too early to be planning for Christmas. Way too early for carols, decorations and mince pies, definitely, but not for planning! Take the stress out of last minute present buying with a gift ideas list and a gift checklist.

Woodland Christmas gift checklist

Just download them free, print as many as you need and relax in the knowledge that you have everything under control.

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I can’t actually claim credit for this tip, I picked it up from my Mum who’s been doing it for years.

Before your next party, write all of the dishes you are serving on sticky notes and attach to the appropriate bowl or platter. It may seem like planning overkill, but it will save you from doing the headless chook dance ten minutes before your guests arrive. You will know if you have everything you need and still have plenty of time to buy or borrow more if you don’t. Plus everyone in the family will be able to help out without having to be micromanaged. So you can get to that first glass of bubbly a bit sooner.

What’s the best piece of entertaining advice you’ve received from your mum?


A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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