My Desk – In a Bag


By now, if you’ve been reading here at all, you know that we’re in the process of really re-thinking our spaces, re-modeling them significantly in order to address our family needs, and so…things are a little upside down here for a few months.  It meant letting go of a space that was set aside as our learning room, saying goodbye to my desk, and paring down to the very needed and most simple.  A difficult challenge for me, but a very worthwhile one!  Detaching is always good…and painful!  I’m loving it though – the simplicity is refreshing in a way I hadn’t anticipated!  There will be a space for a small desk for me again eventually, but until that time, I did need something to collect the stack of stuff I was carrying around the house to different places as we work during the day!  I was missing the way my desk was a bit of an anchor for all of us, and provided a home for those tools I needed at arms reach.

So many of you have written with such encouraging words – you’re home educating in small spaces, with few material resources, or your circumstances are such that your spaces are spoken for and you are challenged with how to organize when there isn’t that room so that stuff has a tidy place to land and be found again.  In light of your encouragement and because it’s a joy to live some of this out alongside all of you – I thought I’d share how I handled the loss and the finding again…of my desk.

I put it in a bag…


I was inspired by this post at iheart organizing on the use of a tote from Thirty-One Gifts.

I love the construction of this bag and the fact that it’s totally wipeable.  Ahem….you know why, don’t you? I like the zipper top, but you can consider a utility tote that is open and doesn’t zipper.  I probably would have chosen one if I didn’t have grabby little hands that like to reach and seek and grab and pull everything!  Zippers are my friend right now!

I’m using the zip top organizing utility tote in taupe gingham ($35) with the collapsible fold-n-file tucked inside ($25).  And, I have tucked in the front of my fold-n-file a large zipper pouch, but I have a color that is no longer available from the website – turquoise (because of course it matches my file folders!!  Please tell me you get that??).

In the fold-n-file


The fold-n-file holds a standard hanging file folder.  There are two mesh pockets on the outside.  I find it the perfect size for my iPad mini.  Inside, I keep the large zipper pouch (do you see the zipper pull sticking up there in the left side of the fold-n-file?  That’s the best place for scissors these days!  Definitely have to keep those tucked away with the little hands around here!


I read a tip that I really want to use – cut the plastic spine from a report cover spine in half – it’s the perfect length for the two sides of the fold-n-file.  Slide the spine over each side of the fold-n-file and now the hanging file folders will slide easily.  I REALLY want to do this, but I DON’T want to purchase 12 report covers to do it.  So, I’ll just be patient and figure that one day I’ll come across one!  But, I did want to share the tip with you!  The hanging files will move, but not with ease.  I’m certain that smooth little plastic spine would make a big difference!


I keep my most frequently used files in here.  I know you’re going to ask 🙂  – they’re all labeled with my Epson Labelmaker LW-400, using the Script font on clear tape.  It is sorta pretty, isn’t it?  Gotta grab the pretty in those little places these days!

I keep lesson plans right up front – this is where I store our completed lesson plans at the end of the week.  We’re 5 weeks into the year so far and things are going well!

In the Pockets…


This bag has lots of pockets and what is great about them is that they’re all on the OUTSIDE!  And they’re not flat, useless pockets that hold 6 pieces of paper – they’re large and meant to hold a voluminous amount!  The two side pockets are these mesh pockets with an elastic top and I LOVE them!  One side holds all my stickers and post-it notes, and the other mesh pocket holds my label maker.


There are three large pockets on the front, and two large pockets on the back side.  I’ll list all the things I keep in these 5 outside pockets:

  • My favorite, favorite Pilot FriXion erasable pens, erasable markers, and erasable highlighters.  These are the pens you see pictured in the closest pocket to you in the above picture.  The colors are vibrant and smooth – whether in the writing pen or the markers/highlighters – and the color is true, they don’t fade.  They don’t smudge.  And it erases by friction – rubbing the little rubber button on top of the pen across the dry ink.  The eraser doesn’t disintegrate or crumble as you erase (like a pencil eraser does) because the process is accomplished in the friction generated.  So…no mess, no eraser crumbles, and NO sign of the ink once erased!  It really does erase completely!  Oh my stars!!!  We use them for almost everything!
  • set of Le Pens which I use in my planner (which is usually stored in the front of my fold-n-file but was sitting on the table where I had been menu planning when these photos were taken…so it sadly didn’t make it into any of the photos)
  • Favorite red Z Grip pens for grading
  • Ticonderoga pencils – the only brand of pencil we use.
  • Bulldog clips – size #2
  • Calculator
  • White out tape
  • Regular tape
  • Stapler


So now, wherever we happen to be reading or working through the day, I can grab the handles of my desk-in-a-bag, and go!

Two happy faces photo-bombing this silly photo shoot of my desk in a bag!  🙂

Whatever your space constraints or limits – or maybe even if you have a desk space but find you really need to be portable with a few key items during your day – you might consider a bag from Thirty-One Gifts!  My consultant is Jenny Wiest and she would be more than happy to help you out if you have any questions or would like to order!

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  1. Oh my goodness! This would be perfect for my situation. Practically no storage, a terrible desk set up and all my stuff spread through out three different rooms. Now I know what to ask for for Christmas…. Every item pictured! LOL

  2. Mine’s not quite so organized (understatement cough*), but I have been using the desk-in-a-bag for a while now. I’ve never had a desk and the piles on the kitchen counter were never a good thing. I’m just using a free canvas tote bag my husband brought home from a business conference right now, which isn’t as useful as the one you’ve got but it was good to grab from around the house. 🙂 I also just tend to put my piles of papers (whatever I need right now) in there, and then when I’m done with the papers I store them in document boxes. Anything I really need to have available I stick in a notebook. My mom just got me a Circa notebook with the heavy vinyl cover for my birthday, with plastic divider and zip pockets, and I find that’s working for a homeschool notebook. I can keep a log there and add any of my print-outs (or scribbled on scraps of paper), and it folds back like a spiral. Fits nicely in a bag, too.

      1. Well… right now it’s pretty simple, but I’m still fussing with it. I have to say, though, that I really like the paper; having the big blank box in the margin for extra notes is really nice. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a post soon!

  3. So Jen, now you are ready to rent out the house, grab an RV and tour the country! Talk about living history. LOL

    1. Oh my goodness, Teresa!! You have NO IDEA how much my husband and I have talked about doing that EXACT thing! Most people dream of beach vacations – Rob and I dream of buying an RV and driving the country! Now THAT would be an awesome geography and history curriculum!

      1. Well, did you ever see the tv series Promised Land?
        That always looked awesome to me.

        There was a blog about a family from TN who did take 18 months to travel the US and homeschool.
        Of course, I can’t find the blog! But it was an interesting story. The mom had been an air traffic controller and was blacking out on the job. She didn’t know what was wrong with her but she couldn’t keep the job. She thought, “what do I want to do with my family (two boys and dh) before I die?”
        “See all the natural and historic sights” was her answer. So they did. It turns out that the mom wasn’t near death (she hadn’t been eating right and the job was very stressful), so when they got back they went on a mission trip to Africa!

        I had no idea you and Rob had dreamt of this but it seems you have gotten everything ready to go. Tell Rob it is time for him to put in that sabbatical notice 🙂 Of course if you do, all of your friends expect the blog to continue ( no pressure but really, we will have to live vicariously)

  4. Love it!! What a great solution to your problem and it is just you! Kind of reminds me a bit of my art tote I had when we had a tiny house.

    1. I imagined that you had already brainstormed something like this, Erin – before you expanded into your expansive home! You’re always several steps ahead of me in the remodel-the-home-game!

  5. I use a fold-n-file for the same reason. I finally broke down and bought a clear box insert to hang my file folders. I really think the fold-n-file is just slightly too wide. The insert is a perfect size. I think I got it at my local Target. I have the same 31 bag (different color) that I’ve been using for scrapbooking stuff and I’ve downsized my stuff and I don’t think I need the bag for scrapbooking anymore. I love the idea of a desk in a bag. My stuff is spread out in three different places at the moment. It’s stressful for me and everyone else who needs some office supplies.

    1. I have a clear file box that I considered using in my utility tote – this one. I think it would work better with an open utility tote. It just felt too rigid and I didn’t care for it in my utility tote – I preferred the fold-n-file. In my utility tote with the fold-n-file inside, I have room for 1-2 slim books inside the bag in addition to the fold-n-file. It does take up most of the space inside the bag, Cassie, you’re right on that.

      It’s exciting to think of this bag as a desk, Cassie – I know you’ll have fun gathering your needed desk supplies and getting them ensconced in your 31 bag for your desk. It’s sorta invigorating getting it all set up and pretty! 🙂

  6. I love this! We have a homeschooling room right now, but it’s in our basement, and I’m finding we don’t use it much since the kids enjoy working on our main floor. I may have to do something like this too. As for Ticonderogas… aren’t they the best! I didn’t understand why people were raving about them until I tried them.

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