A Continuing Conversation :: My Desk

I should have seen it coming.  LOL!  After that last post, draped with pretty notebooks, many, MANY of you wrote and wanted to know about my desk!  What are those organizers I have up there next to my laptop?  Were those blue boxes from the Martha Stewart line?  How did I organize my desk?  What is all that stuff up there?  Can we get a closer look?
Well my friends, at the risk of boring you to tears, I shall show you.  If you have no interest whatsoever in my desk, now would be the time to click away and read something useful!  🙂
Here, on my desk, are those things I enjoy having about me.  Some are terribly useful.  And some are really just pretty.

Yes, friends, you are right – the organizers you see and the (Robin’s Egg) blue boxes….are from the Martha Stewart line at Staples.  They are pretty and the style and colors are among my favorites!  Now, if you promise not to laugh at how many Martha Stewart office supplies I have….{do you promise????}….alright then, I shall show you some of my favorite things.

Pull up a comfy chair and sit with me at my desk….
Above you see:
I keep a few stationery supplies in this organizer {from a favorite store – Paper-Source.com}, as well as my Charlotte Mason commonplace book {more on that below}, my new planner calendar for next year {a favorite of mine I have been using for years – more below}, calculator, pointers and folding tools for creasing.  Don’t you appreciate a fine crease?  LOL!

And a ball of red and white bakers twine…because one never knows when one will need a ball of red and white twine, and because IT’S PRETTY!!!

On the left side of my desk is another stackable inbox, but this time it’s just one.  It has another stack + fit tray on top and the organizer box that fits the lid that you saw on the other organizer on the right side of my desk. All the pieces fit together nicely and snugly.  Pretty and practical!
This one contains some odds and ends: a holy card that fell out of a used book treasure, some favorite paper tape, Martha Stewart note tabs {love these!!!}, more Martha Stewart post-its {love these, too!!}.  And I did grab some of those pink and yellow Post-It brand index file tabs today – my 4 year old squealed when she saw the pink-of-it-all.
Here is my Charlotte Mason commonplace book.  I have a couple of commonplace books I keep, but I do so enjoy Charlotte Mason inspiration, and so a couple of years ago, I decided I needed one devoted to Miss Mason.

“Never waste time on a valueless book.”
We begin with a day of small things.

Now, doesn’t that thought seem inspiring?  A day of small things is an idea that seems refreshing, and it seems approachable to busy homeschooling moms with extraordinarily full lives, doesn’t it?  It reminds me that good almost always begins in the small.  Think of that moment, THE moment, in the fullness of time, when the Word was made flesh, and came to us in His smallness.  Extraordinary thought.  A day of small things.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed from your past year, perhaps a day of small things is just the refreshment needed?

I could not resist these bird sticky notes from Paper-Source and they work very well with my love of birds and my {possibly overstated} love for all things Robins Egg Blue.  Positively cheery!
Merciful heavens it makes me happy to scratch a bit of a list on one of these pretty little birdie note papers.  The three little notes in the center are sticky notes, and the two longer note papers on either side are simply standard note papers.
Back to Martha Stewart….
I have found that these two document boxes in blue have been fantastic for collecting my notes and articles on Charlotte Mason and Classical Education.
I’m again surprised at how many of you asked about my little laptop.  I have a MacBook; and I should tell you, I’m devoted to the mac product and have been for years.  {I don’t think they make MacBooks like mine anymore.}  I bought my little mac laptop used several years ago.  If you’re interested in a mac, check your local mac store and ask them to let you know if they offer any used laptops.  Our mac store often leases laptops to small businesses in the area, and after two years the business will turn in the laptops.  The mac store cleans them up, checks them out, and resells them (at a much discounted rate) with a year warranty.  This is how I found my little laptop.
Here is a sneak peek at the four booklists’ I built for this year.  I build everything in Pages for mac.  It is essentially just a simple word processing program – basically just the mac version of Microsoft Word.  Though I have both Word and Pages, I prefer Pages because I find it more intuitive-to-me.  And I love it because I can {with the click of a button} export anything I build into a pdf file or a Microsoft Word file….which lets me share things with all of you, my friends!  Hooray for mac-niftiness!
And now, my planner.  I could not live without my planner.  I really couldn’t.  I have used the Catholic Daily Planner published by Family Centered Press for….years.  Though there are many options in cover choices, sizes, binding, adding additional menu planning pages, lesson planning pages, over the years, I have learned that my clear preference has been the full size coil bound planner that goes from August to July.  Do consider treating yourself to one this year!
It comes with monthly tabs, but what can I say?  I prefer the pretty Martha Stewart tabs.  It’s a little hard to see in this photo {at the very top}, I keep a large blue tab to mark ‘this week’, and I just move that tab each week to mark the new week.  I can easily flip to the week at hand and I like that very much.
I jot down to-do’s, appointments, noteworthy items, the things I want to accomplish that day…that week.  I review each week and simply bring forward tasks that weren’t accomplished to the next week.  To the outside edge of each day {when you’re looking at the week-at-a-glance view of the calendar} is a small square of white space.  This space has been my favorite place to jot down my menus.  I consider the week at hand, can see at a glance the feast for the day to consider as I plan menus, and keep my menus right there on my planner.
If the {big} kids have a dance or a get-together they know that if it isn’t on my calendar, it doesn’t get planned for….so it all goes here!  It’s all together, simple, and pretty!  It has been a system that has worked for me because it is simple and always at hand on my desk.  I love that the calendar integrates my Catholic faith, incorporating both the feasts of the old and new calendars.  And I certainly appreciate that the calendar is practically laid out and offers the most lovely subtle touches of pretty!
And finally….something that isn’t on my desk at all, but I decided to include it because guess what?  More Martha Stewart!
I revamped my monthly liturgical year resources and put them in a single magazine file holder and ordered them in these pretty assorted blue patterned file folders.
They live on the sunny shelf next to my Morning Basket, and each month as I revamp our Feast Table, I pull out the appropriate monthly file to see what I have collected for the month.  There is almost always a piece of sacred art for the month tucked in the folder, some holy cards, etc.
I wanted you to see how these file folders open – it’s a little different from a standard file folder.  And I like that they can stand up inside the magazine file holder.
Well?  How was that for a nice, long tour of my desk….complete with pretty picture of red and white baker’s twine?  You might not naturally think, “Bakers twine….of course….that should live in the learning room right out in plain view on my desk!”  But if it makes you happy, why not?
Hope you have something happy on your desk!  Maybe it’s a glass bottle or a smooth rock or a delicate-little-something you found at the flea market?  Or maybe…it’s red and white baker’s twine!  🙂
I’ll try to answer more of your questions in another post soon!
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  1. Dear Jen,
    I'm jealous. There, I said it! I would love it if you could drive all the way up here and help me make my desk pretty too! It's an old antique desk so it has lots of emotional ties, but not very pleasing to the eye, especially with all my stuff all over it. I'm going to use some of your ideas for inspiration though! Thanks for posting this.

  2. As we speak I am covetously eyeing a bit of space in my kitchen I want to turn into desk central. Thanks for the tour of yours!

    In particular for:

    *those labeled boxes
    *the bird notes (for you know who 😉
    *showing your liturgical year files

    I have to do something with those this year. I need a place to put them that I won't forget, and it would be really nice to know when a novena was coming up for once…

  3. I'm going to be reorganizing our school room in a few weeks to get ready for this fall. You should get a commission from Staples and Paper Source! I have a list and I will certainly be coming back to these two posts for inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Jen,
    Like many of your subscribers I am sure, I find myself reading your posts as if I were starving for the food they supply my hungry mind and spirit. You are SO inspiring!!

    May I ask, what are the Charlotte Mason resources I see to the left of For the Children's Sake in your first picture? They appear to be either dvd or perhaps cd resources?

    Titles and places where they may be purchased are always appreciated!

    in New Hampshire(who also LOVES the Peterborough Basket Company)

  5. LOL found pictures! Love the Martha Stewart goodies. I haven't indulged yet…but plan to look for those folders. I have some other fun folders, they do make a difference in the attitude when opening said to folder to something like…club receipts, boring, but necessary to keep..fun to do in patterns 🙂 Love the twine too by the way…it's like one great big mint!

  6. Dear Jen,
    Oh how I have enjoyed visiting you. We are kindred spirits. I love all things Martha too. I am going to add you to my blog list if that is ok.
    Off to read more of your blog.

  7. I love this and am very organized at heart but could never manage to keep it looking like this. Any ideas?

  8. Maybe an hour ago I looked at my desk and wondered how I could make it look more organized. It just always looks like there is SO much stuff on it!
    This is so timely for me. Thank you for taking the time to write this post.

  9. How lovely and inspiring! My husband is looking over my shoulder telling me to ask you to send your most helpful formats in mac pages…. this is what we would love our homeschool organization to look like! (actually, I'd be happy with it looking half as nice- love it!)

  10. I do love visiting your blog Jen! I always walk away inspired. Your school planning seems SO organised so purposfully planned. Do you use a bought curriculum or do you write your own. If you write your own where do you get all your ideas and scope and sequence from? I am particularly interested in your high school plans as we are embarking on our high school journey in September and I am feeling a little undecided on which route to take!

    Blessings in Christ
    Shirley Ann

  11. Hello all! 🙂

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the post on my desk! So many happy little nothings on my desk!

    I'm catching up in trying to answer a few questions:

    Annie asked:
    May I ask, what are the Charlotte Mason resources I see to the left of For the Children's Sake in your first picture? They appear to be either dvd or perhaps cd resources?

    Sure, I have several Charlotte Mason resources I enjoy, Annie! The resources you see to the left are all from Simply Charlotte Mason, and I highly recommend them all! They are DVD seminars, and make wonderful at-home-retreats for the summer. {from right to left in the photo}:

    (1) The Books and Things Seminar
    (2) All-Day Charlotte Mason Seminar
    (3) Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education
    (4) Laying Down the Rails Seminar

    Lindsay asked:
    Jen, can you please explain a bit how you use the different calendars (your Martha Stewart vs. your Family Centered planner).

    I use it to jot down if we might be reading a particular book for 4 weeks, and another for 6 weeks in the same term….just so I can see at a glance that I need to make a slight change on my lesson plans around week 5. I like to note current event anniversaries, especially historical ones, on the Martha Stewart calendar. So the answer is….I mostly use the Martha Stewart planning calendar to jot down rabbit trail topics or themed topics that almost always spring from a historical anniversary.

    Anonymous asked:
    I love this and am very organized at heart but could never manage to keep it looking like this. Any ideas?

    A weekly desk tidy keeps the desk useful and clean. Then, at the end of each of term, we always take a week off. During this week, I do some learning space maintenance. I always freshen up the learning spaces: tidying shelves, freshening books, desks, tables, tools, folders, notebooks….and I always take a fresh look at my desk then, too. That's the equivalent of a deep clean, I guess.

    So…..for desk maintenance: weekly tidying, and end-of-term deep cleans. 🙂

    Shirley Ann asked:
    Do you use a bought curriculum or do you write your own. If you write your own where do you get all your ideas and scope and sequence from? I am particularly interested in your high school plans as we are embarking on our high school journey in September and I am feeling a little undecided on which route to take!

    Wow! That's a lot of questions!

    1) I write my own. We use some curriculum tools very occasionally, but not many. I've always written my own booklists and our “curriculum” is simply reading from worthy books, and narrating. It is a liberal education: wide and generous.

    2) For more about how I build booklists and write our plans, read this post: A Considered Booklist.

    3) High school has been so rewarding for us! I really should write more about our high school experiences! We have continued following our Charlotte Mason philosophy in high school, and it has been perhaps the most enriching part of home education yet. Here is a post on our high school approach.

  12. Hello

    I remember reading in one of your latest post that you are also inspired by the Classical education, but not the new Classical education with the trivium based on levels, but rather on the one based on abilities. (It might not be this post, but seing that perfect robin blue box labels with Classical ed, I thought it was a safe bet 😉 )
    What are your favourite Classical resource (book or others) that go that way? I'd like to read more on this.

    Thank you!

  13. Can you just come to my classroom and organize my desk please? lol I keep reading this post and trying to incorporate some things into my space but I keep getting stuck. Or I get swamped! Love, love, love your space! Fantastic job =)

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