Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Free Planner Printable: Day Map Time Blocking / Bullet Journal Hybrid

In this lull between Christmas and the New Year my thoughts always turn to planners. For 2016, I created my own daily planner based around a page-per-day template I first started tinkering with in 2014. While I wasn't perfect at using it each day, I did always return to it. For 2017 I made only minor tweaks to the day layout. I call it a Day Map. It is a cross between time blocking and bullet journaling. I use it to -- wait for it -- map out my day. Hence the catchy name.

I am ready to share my creation with you all via a free pdf file of a single blank undated page. You may print it and use it at will. Please do not use it in anything you sell. You are free to use my ideas, such as they are, to build your own perfect day planner. I have combed hundreds of layouts and read dozens of blog posts over the years. No other planner on earth is exactly right for me. I have tried to make do with fancy and expensive planners but they never feel right. I have been tinkering with my own planner design since at least 2008. This finally feels right.

In the image below you can see my layout in action. At the top I write in the date, circle the day of the week and note the weather forecast. Then I have a line for Notable Today. That's where significant things like birthdays, holidays and other important stuff goes. 

The middle section is an 18-hour grid with marks for 15-minute intervals. Yes, I do plan my days to the quarter hour. I don't execute my plan with that much exactness, but I have found that showing myself that I have time to complete my tasks makes me less susceptible to overload paralysis. I use this technique at work as well, and it has made a great difference in my productivity and goal-reaching. I hope to be more intentional with this in 2017.
A page from Holy Thursday 2016
Following that, on the left, I list my menu plan for the day. I do my planning on a weekly grid. This section forces me to actually refer to that plan and execute it. There is nothing worse than making a meal plan that is ignored, other than not having a plan at all.

To the right of the food stuff, there is the section I call Endeavors. This I use like a bullet journal. The one tweak I made here for 2017 was to add boxes so I don't have to draw them, and to add a line at the top of the box for what housekeeping zone I am supposed to be on.

I have found that investing some time each evening or morning with the planner pays dividends in increasing my actual stuff done. For most of 2016, as you can see above, I set aside an hour with my planner each morning. That also included working my budget and actual finances, which are in another section of my planner. Due to a schedule shift I now work earlier in the day so I have begun to work in planner time in the evening for the following day. As with any new habit, it has been a challenge to make the shift, but I'm getting used to it.

When I sit down with my planner, I first date the page then check the weather forecast on my iPhone. The weather has such an impact on decisions like wardrobe, activities, travel safety. I am much more on top of things since I started doing this weather check. Next I open my Google calendar. I have used Google exclusively to manage all of my appointments for at least 10 years. I am lost without it. On my iPhone, it is always there when I am at the doctor or in a meeting and scheduling a follow-up. I have a calendar for me, one for the boys (so their events show up in a different color) and one for annual recurring things like birthdays, death anniversaries, holy days, etc. I also sub to my husband's calendar although I never edit it. I note appointments for myself and the boys first, then schedule commuting time around those. After those hard commitments are given their space, I turn to my routines. I have seven daily recurring routines that are the next priority to get on paper. That sounds like a lot, but three of them are prayer and the others are personal and homemaking tasks: Morning, Afternoon, Kitchen and Bedtime, plus Lauds, Vespers and Compline. (in the sample above I skip Afternoon and Vespers, maybe because we were going to evening Mass). Next is time with Boy12 for lessons. Then anything else I need to get done, especially anything I've written under Endeavors. It would be perfectly fine to leave open spaces, but I prefer to give all of my time a task.

My layout is very plain, black on white. I really dislike planners with color. They are jarring to me. I do use color, as you can see. I color-code my appointments and tasks by the seven areas of responsibility I have in life. I came up with these years ago, as a riff on something I read in a long-forgotten blog post. I have used this color system for at least eight years. My areas are:

  1. Faith
  2. Home
  3. Boys
  4. Husband's home business
  5. My outside employment
  6. Freelancing
  7. Self
I could not imagine not using color. It is that important to me and to the way I process and organize information. I have a color code system for my responsibilities at my main outside job. I used to color code subjects when I did lesson plans for the boys, but I am much more relaxed in homeschooling than I used to be. So having a plain minimal design for my planner gives me the freedom I need to use color the way I need to and love.

Without further adieu, here it is for your enjoyment:


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Daybook 2016.08.03

Outside my window...it is hot and sunny. My front garden needs weeding. Why is it that during a drought only the weeds grow?

I am thinking...about Shakespeare.

I am thankful...that my car is getting a new set of sneakers today!

I am wearing...my housecleaning ratty old clothes, again. It's Wednesday after all.

I am creating...hmmmm...afraid I haven't been doing much to create anything this week.

I am going...to a meeting tonight. I do that a lot.

I am wondering...if I will ever be organized.

I am reading...
Rafferty and Llewellyn

I am listening ...to Sultans Of Swing on iTunes. One of my very favorite songs of all time.

I am watching...Downton Abbey Season 6 and Doctor Who Season 4. Still. Just watched the Peter Jackson King Kong. I thought the beginning and end were very good. The middle could have been an hour shorter. I think we watched the extended version, though.

I am hoping...that I can get through the hectic schedule this August. September 1 is looking good.

I am learning...church politics.

Around the house...dishwasher died, waiting on a new one. The plumbing needs work first.

In the kitchen...not much today. Boy11 and I are eating out tonight between karate and my meeting. The other two are on their own.

I am pondering...writing. Story lines. Romance. Mystery.

A quote..."My cake is dough." - Gremio, The Taming of the Shrew, Act V, Scene I.

A favorite thing...my spiffy car. Retro-wagon, really.

I am planning...Boy18's graduation and going away party.

A photo...

Sometimes my desks get out of control

Monday, July 25, 2016

Catholic Married Sex

The beauty of sex in marriage has been on my mind the past month or so. In the novel I'm writing, the male protagonist, a Catholic, is coming to terms with the fallout of his promiscuous lifestyle. He is struggling with resolve to keep future sexual activity for his wife. Problem is, he doesn't have one, yet. Needless to say, I've been exploring sex and that led me on a rabbit trail to married Catholic sex.

Singles reading this: I want you to know that sex in a sacramental Catholic marriage is phenomenal. It is joyful, truly earth shattering, soul searing, mind blowing. The sexual embrace in marriage is the closest mirror of the Trinity this side of Heaven. It can be challenging, but who doesn't love a challenge? It is worth it to wait. Trust me. Before I married HubbyMan, I had three other men. HubbyMan and I had each other plenty of times before our wedding day, too. Twenty years on, I regret all of it. I do. If I could live my life again, I'd keep my cherry for dessert on my wedding night. {Sigh} So, Singles, move on. Read no further. Come back about six months after the Honeymoon.

So now we will chat about sex, so you've been warned.

In my research -- that sounds so "professional writer" -- in my googling around the interwebs for information on married sex I ran into a website on Christian married sex. It is an interesting site, pretty explicit, and with at least one anti-Catholic post which basically blames the Church for every sexual repression in history. Reading the posts, and especially the comments, I came to realize that there are many misconceptions out there on what the Church actually teaches about married sex.

Married Catholic sex has three primary rules, in my fallible opinion:

Sex is exclusively between husband and wife.

Sex is consensual.

Sex is open to life.

Before we delve, what is sex, sexual activity? I am defining as sexual activity as any contact between husband and wife involving genitalia. Making out on the sofa during the commercials on Monday Night Football is not sex. Unless things progress south of the waist, then it is. That's my definition for what it's worth.

Let's delve, shall we?

Exclusive: Man and woman, husband and wife come together in the sexual embrace. They are never alone, and never accompanied. They are in a sacramental marriage, thus lovemaking -- sex -- is the culmination of their sacrament. It is unitive and procreative, both ends having equal importance. Without one or the other, sex is sinful. Sex must unify a husband and wife. Scripture uses the word "cleave." My husband cleaves to me, and I to him, no more so than when we are making love.

Consensual: Neither spouse must ever be coerced into participating in any sexual activity. That goes for every aspect of marriage. Sex can -- and should -- be adventurous. Daring, spicy, frisky, exotic. All great. All with consent.

Life: Sex is procreative. Along with unity, procreation is the main end of sexual intercourse. For that reason, no matter how adventurous you are in bed, both the husband and wife must enter into sexual activity with the intention of the husband depositing his semen inside the wife. Sometimes that doesn't happen for a variety of reasons. Accidentally ejaculating prematurely, inability to climax, the doorbell rings, the baby wakes up. Not every session of sex will include the husband delivering his seed to the doorstep of his wife's womb, but it should be the goal. Conception must not be blocked by any artificial means. No condoms, pills, or diaphragms. Natural family planning is a useful tool to help husbands and wives keep tabs on monthly fertility cycles. If there is a grave reason to avoid or delay conception, sexual activity can be eliminated during the most fertile time of ovulation and a week beyond.  This also nurtures a dialogue between the spouses, and ongoing awareness on both their parts of where they are, together, in the fertility cycle. I tell my husband when I ovulate, so he knows if I am richly fertile or not. He knows when I have my menses. He is part of that whole rhythm.

So there you have the basic rules in a nutshell from Philothea, who is not a theologian, nor pretends to be one. What I am is a wife and happy participant in awesome sex. I believe the true Catholic vision of sex is supreme to all others.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Easy Cheap Antipasto

I hesitate to even tag this post as a recipe....

Does your supermarket sell deli ends? What are they, you ask? Our local chain supermarket saves the ends from meat and cheese, when they are too thin to go through the slicer anymore. They package a few up together and price it at a deep discount per pound.

Today I strolled past the deli case on my way to get hamburger buns. HubbyMan had decided to make beer can burgers and we had no buns. I always glance at the deli case to see if they've put out any ends. Score!

I got one that was predominantly provolone, and a seconds package predominantly salami and pepperoni. Can you say antipasto?

I diced up the cheese and the meat into small cubes. I added from the fridge banana pepper rings, green olives and diced sundries tomatoes. I poured over a little olive oil and red wine vinegar, and sprinkled with just a touch of my favorite pink salt. Appetizer! And for less than $8 I made over a quart of the stuff. Compare to what I would have paid by the pound at the deli, this is a real budget booster, too.

Linking up with: Works for Me Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Polish Cucumbers

Cucumbers are plentiful this time of year. We were blessed with a few from the garden of a priest friend. This recipe comes from an old Polish cookbook that I inherited from my mother-in-law. They are cucumbers with sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar. I do not like mine too sweet, so I reduced the sugar from the original recipe.


2 large cucumbers
1 quart water, boiling
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 dash pepper
2 tablespoons vinegar


1. Peel cucumbers and run a fork down them lengthwise.

2. Slice thinly on a mandolin.

3. Cover cucumbers with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water. Drain and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Mix sour cream with salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar. Adjust flavor as necessary. Mix into chilled cucumbers. Serve cold.

Daybook 2016.07.23

Outside my window...it is hot and humid. Staying in with the air conditioning on.

I am thinking...about getting rid of clutter.

I am thankful...that we have a roof over our heads and manage to get by. And that I am getting a raise come September.

I am wearing...An old floral skirt with a rip that I use on housecleaning days, plus a stained old top. Very chic.

I am creating...a blog.

I am going...to confession this afternoon.

I am wondering...how different life will be in six weeks with Boy18 off at school.

I am reading...not really reading. I'm writing a novel, so I can't concentrate on reading anything else.

I am listening ...nothing. It's quiet except for the fan blowing the cool air into my office.

I am watching...Downton Abbey Season 6 and Doctor Who Season 4.

I am hoping...that I can get caught up at work tomorrow before the new week begins.

I am learning...humility and meekness. Still. Still.

Around the house...new office desk, and old secretary moved to the living room. Looks sweet.

In the kitchen...cucumber with sour cream, and a whole chicken on the grill.

I am pondering...writing.

A quote..."Life - uh - finds a way." - Malcolm in 
Jurassic Park

A favorite thing...my new desk.

I am planning...my upcoming menu. I've fallen off the wagon meal planning and it is really hurting our evenings and budget.

A photo...
I went to a breakfast meeting recently at a grand old club that looked like Hogwarts.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Since the second week in July I have been writing a book. I have gone once through a first draft, and is is short, novella length. I am going back through it now adding details and descriptions and scenes.

I tend to write dialogue. I see my scenes like I'm watching it on television. So I can hammer out a lot of dialogue. Then I have to go back and add all of the descriptive things around that.

It is a romance. It concerns a young woman running from a bad relationship, and a man running from something else. They meet, fall in love, but there is danger. Both of their pasts will have ramifications for them and their whole world.

This is the scene where they meet:

Lucy heaved a sigh as she laid claim to a window seat in the first class carriage. A far cry from the old compartment configuration most North Americans thought of when picturing a British train journey, these modern trains boasted big open carriages. Each seat had a fold down tray to use. In several places there were four seats ranged round a freestanding table. She had selected a seat at an empty one of those. The carriage was over half full. She would have preferred a seat in a standard row, but there weren't many empty ones left, and she wanted to be alone.
Her hopes of spending the journey to Peterborough alone evaporated as a man flung himself into the seat opposite. She sighed again as she turned her face toward the window, thankful that there would be scenery to divert her attention. The last thing she wanted to do was stare at someone for the entire journey. She needn't have worried, for the man was asleep before the train left the station.
Lucy had been looking forward to this train trip ever since her plans had been set a few days before. She had missed England. The five years she spent in Toronto seemed now like a bad dream. Nightmare, really. She was home again, in England, and she wanted to see it all: every dilapidated building along the tracks as they snaked out of London; every tree and house and town and farm from London to Peterborough.
The journey would take about three-quarters of an hour. About half way through, finished with her coffee and croissant brought by the steward, Lucy began to be restless with the view. She snuck a peek at her traveling companion, still sound asleep across from her. He was handsome, with brown hair that seemed rather disheveled. She wondered if he always wore it that way. It was hard to tell because his clothing was also disheveled. He had a square jaw covered in a few days' stubble. She found herself watching him breathe. In and out, in and out. It was nearly mesmerizing... She shook herself and looked futilely into her empty coffee cup. Just as she did, the steward came by to collect it. When she asked him, he assured her it was only fifteen minutes to Peterborough.
"P'bro?" It came from the sleeping man, who seemed to be losing a battle with himself over waking up. Lucy watched with open curiosity as he fought to achieve consciousness. A moan accompanied his grab for his head. He rubbed his hair, then his face, with vigor before suddenly dropping his hands, palms flat on the table, opening his eyes and looking straight at Lucy asking, "Are we in Peterborough?"
For a gap of about five seconds Lucy could not speak. Awake, he was devastatingly handsome, whether in spite of his appearance or because of it she couldn't yet tell. It was those eyes that were the icing on the cake. Deep and brown.

"Did I miss it?" he asked with alarm creeping into those selfsame eyes.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Financial Difficulty

Realizing, dear Mother Mary, that thou art our Perpetual Help not only in spiritual
but likewise in temporal necessities,
we approach thee with submissive and humble hearts, because we have a child-like confidence in thy power and goodness, beseeching thee to assist us in our present financial worry. Owing to untoward circumstances which have arisen in our lives, we are in dire want, being unable to meet our honest debts.
We are not asking, dearest Mother for wealth, if possession of it is not in accordance with the holy will of God;
we merely beg for that assistance which will enable us to satisfy our pressing obligations. We believe, dear Mother,
that thou art the Queen of heaven and earth, and, as such, the instrument and special dispensation of thy Son Jesus Christ; that thou hast acquired by virtue of thy wonderful dignity, a sweet jurisdiction over all creation. We believe that thou art not only rich and bountiful, but extremely kind and generous to all thy loving children. We plead with thee then, dear Mother, to obtain for us the help we so urgently need in our present financial difficulty. We thank thee, dear Lady and promise to publish far and wide,
the marvels of thy glorious Picture.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I've just updated my 2016 Reading Challenge Page with January's finished titles. Actually, I have read more than just murder mysteries on my Kindle, but those are the only books I've finished. I am a person with "currently reading" and "to be read" piles that would scare a librarian.

My favorite book from January has to be Bubba and the Missing Woman by C. L. Bevill. It is the third book in the Bubba Snoddy cozy mystery series, which I love. Bubba is just a sweetheart, and the writing style showcases Bevill's dry humor. I found myself laughing out loud waiting at the hair salon for Boy17 to get his hair cut. So embarrassing. I told him I should have waited in the car, but he wanted me to come in. So I wouldn't be cold. So nice of him to think of me. I literally had to close my kindle and read depressing headlines about the world falling apart in my RSS reader on my phone, just to stop laughing.

As you can see on my sidebar, I am currently reading How to Read a Book and The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Those are my serious reading for Sundays after Mass. I want to finish HTRB soon, and the Catechism by the end of 2016.

For my birthday, I got the awesome gift of being able to pick out $50 worth of books at Barnes & Noble dot com. I never usually shop there. And now I see why. Maybe I am just used to Amazon, I've been in that ecosystem for so long. I didn't find the B&N site that intuitive. I had to go that route because, after an hour of looking, I could not find one single book I wanted at my local bricks and mortar B&N. Not one. Sad. But, online I was able to order not one, not two, but three awesome titles that are shining right now from the top of my TBR pile:


Monday, January 25, 2016

Day Book 2016.01.25

Outside my window...melting snow, and back to unseasonably warm temperatures.

I am thinking...about colleges and financial aid and the like, for Boy17.

I am thankful...that Boy17 made it home safely from the March for Life, Blizzard Edition.

I am wearing...my favorite chocolate turtleneck with a floral skirt.

I am creating...a place for ladies to come together once a month to craft and color.

I am going...to bed soon.

I am wondering...how I will pay for a few large expenses looming for February.

I am reading...no comment. I'm reading a mystery/thriller that I just can't recommend due to the totally gratuitous explicit scenes. I like the writing, the characters and the premise. But boy there is just too much information detailed here.

I am listening ...to my iTunes library. I just played 
American Pie.

I am watching...nothing at the moment. I've been off of TV since Christmas.

I am hoping...that I can get a good night's sleep and have a productive day tomorrow.

I am learning...humility and meekness. Still.

Around the house...post-Christmas, mid-winter mess.

In the kitchen...homemade broccoli cheese soup. After working two jobs, I might add.

I am pondering...distributism.

A quote..."Life - uh - finds a way." - Malcolm in 
Jurassic Park

A favorite thing...my latest addiction: Dominion

I am planning...my day tomorrow, one day at a time. I love my new planner so far.

A photo...

Snickerdoodle Bread
Linking up with The Simple Woman
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