Last week was Emma's first full week back at her school (which means 3 half-days per week at our church's Parents Day Out program).  She's in a new classroom - a big girl classroom which was a big adjustment for us me.  We lovvvved her teachers and room from last year - it was the "baby room" (6-18 mos.) filled with soft toys, the most nurturing fun-spirited teachers and the smallest set of munchkin tables and chairs you've ever seen.

In the morning I used to go in and chat with her teachers while we played with the babies on the floor and Emma would cover me with stickers before I left.  If there was ever a resistance to me leaving, they just got out the bubbles and she was ready to play.  I always left knowing she was happy to be playing with her friends and her favorite teachers, Miss Jennifer & Miss Keesha. 

This year she's in the "Toddlers to Twos," room - she is loving all of the new dress-up clothes, play kitchen and the tree house to climb on... which terrifies me. The first few days of drop-off were met with a little bit of hesitation (from both of us... ok, mostly me) which, of course, left me second guessing myself.  Should I just keep her home with me?  We can make it work - we've been ok for the last six weeks, right?  It is the same internal battle that all moms face.

I think of myself first and foremost as a stay-at-home mom and  I like to think that this blog is just a documented reflection of our life.  (Which is what I strive for, by the way.)  However, the reality is that it does take a good 3-4 hours a day at the computer and/or behind the camera lens to make this happen.

And, I love it.  I love writing.  I love photography.  I love being creative on a daily basis and make things with my hands.  And I love sharing it.  I love inspiring others to do the same.

I also love that writing this blog helps to push me to continue to be creative, cook fun dinners and entertain often.  I love that on my "to-do" list this week is to add festive Fall touches to our house and decorate Fall sugar cookies... and I get to call it "work."  And make an income doing it.  I'm lucky.  I'm lucky that this is my "job" and I'm very lucky that I have a choice - I realize not every mom does. 

Right : Emma on her first day of "school" last year.  Tear : (

Mostly, I love that when I pick Emma up from school, we get to come home and play, and do fun things that she wants to do... instead of trying to get her to entertain herself while I get my computer and house work done.    

While I was missing her terribly and the house seemed a little too quiet, I indulged myself a little last week and did some much needed organizing at our house.

The summer had done a doozie on every cabinet and corner of our house.  I was starting to feel claustrophobic every time I opened the freezer or Emma's art supplies cabinet.  So I spent a couple of hours each day getting things cleaned out and back in shape.  I literally think I am breathing better because of it.

(By the way, right now my own Mom is thinking to herself, "Can this be the same girl that I couldn't even get to make her bed or pick her towel up off of the floor?!")  It might seem nuts, but messes, even behind closed cabinet doors can drive me crazy... now that I'm an adult.

Speaking of crazy.  I'm crazy about lists.  To-do lists, grocery lists, shopping lists, etc.  Every week I write out a list of our menu for the week, each day I make a to-do list... and I have a running "errands" list for the week.  It helps me mentally organize myself. 

Left : This was my list from last week... fridge, freezer, emma's art, laundry, garage, office.  Check, check, check.  Check, check, check.

And how about those Le Pens!  They've been my favorite for years.  In college I used the navy, but now I'm a fan of the grey.  They are thin and elegant, with a tiny felt tip.  You may have seen them on Martha Stewart's desk.  She's also a huge fan.  In fact, she gave her design editor, Kevin Sharky, an entire case of these grey pens for his new office.

This "To-do" Tablet + Le Pens are one of the new additions to the store. (You can see all of the most recent additions, here!) I had the tablets custom printed with a simple label-style header on a natural (just slightly creamy) cardstock.  That's right.  Cardstock.  I've never been able to find a to-do list tablet made with cardstock, so I created it.  I love the heavier weight paper because when I tear it off to take the list with me, it doesn't get crumpled and messy.  It also works great for a last minute card or note attached to a gift.

I designed the size to fit perfectly as a label (similar to my wedding party welcome bag) for my medium cello bags... I'll show  you more examples in the future.  The Tablet + Le Pen set comes with 4 pens because I love to have my pencil jar full of all of the same type of pen... sometimes it is the little things that can make us feel organized. 

The set comes with 1 tablet + 4 le pens for $14

And now to check off the list.  I didn't do anything revolutionary with our organizing (these photos aren't Martha Stewart level, just real photos of the dark corners of our house).  I just wanted to show you to inspire you to clean out your own problem areas... it feels so much better!

Freezer. One of the first things on my list was to clean out our freezer.  I couldn't believe how many random leftovers and half bags of french fries and peas were filling this to the brim pre-clean out.  Now, as you see, I've put everything into clear bags.  I am always making double batches of everything and throwing it in the freezer - scones, cakes, cupcakes.  We always have balls of cookie dough ready to go in the oven.  And those short ribs?  We made those last night... recipe coming tomorrow!

Freezer top shelf : Truffle butter, Blue Bell (the best), Nueske's Canadian Bacon (but love their regular bacon, too), goat cheese, peas... 

And here is a frozen pasta that I made a double batch of last week.  Recipe coming soon.

Fridge.  Ready for re-stocking.  

Emmas cabinet in our kitchen - it is amazing what a couple of baskets can to.  I bought these from target to match the baskets in our linen closet.  I hate to spend any money on things specifically for this kitchen, as it will be going away in just a couple of months, so I made sure they could be used again in a new spot.

I de-cluttered the open shelving in our kitchen.  It had become a spot for me to stick random things that I didn't have a place for... 

This is my shelf above my desk in the kitchen - also can become a magnet for clutter!   No more.

Garage.  This is our old dining room/kitchen hutch.  I know, sad.  But, we don't have a spot for it in our house right now, and I was scared of Emma climbing on it.  So, it is serving a utilitarian purpose in the garage for the moment. 

Before, it was terribly unorganized, with just everything piled onto these shelves.  I bought these 9 medium bins, and 6 smaller ones and just sorted everything out.  Soooo much better. 

After school, Emma "helped" me re-stock our freezer supply of frozen cookie dough. 

Caught with her hand in the cookie jar!

More finger licks.


And foot licks!  We'll save those cookies just for Daddy.

Be sure to look at the new products I've added today - just for Fall, including my new favorite natural linen striped napkins and tea towels.  This week I'll feature more of the products in my post and cozy recipes for Fall... including Short Ribs, Apple Pie and French Onion Soup.  I'll be adding more products for Halloween and Thanksgiving, too, in the next couple of weeks.