Mental overload

Tagged as: organization, planner

Sometime last year there was this viral cartoon by French artist Emma about moms and the mental overload that they carry . And the reason it went viral was because it resonated so well with parents across the globe. I remember reading it and nodding my head in agreement at every line. It wasn’t that this was any new info but the cartoon was able to, brilliantly i might add, distill and breakdown the parent brain (more commonly known as mom brain but let’s share the love!) phenomenon. I’ll leave the sharing the load with your partner conversation to another day. But what i wanted to talk about was one of the ways I’m tackling it.

I realized that the reason I always felt overwhelmed as the kids started growing up was the fear that I’m forgetting something. Sometimes I did, but mostly it was just a good dose of anxiety. So when I saw the comic above, I started thinking about ways to tackle this. And I returned to something I’ve tried before, albeit unsuccessfully. Planners!

Webster Pages Color Crush planner in purple

But this time I felt more motivated coz I didn’t have any backup ideas. Also, I’ve been passively following some people on Instagram whose main passion wasn’t planners so I didn’t feel that I had to have a pretty planner. They used it more like a tool which meant no mind-blowingly pretty, neat layouts, almost no stickers. I pulled out my Webster Pages Color Crush planners. I’d got 2, one in white & purple with kit and the other in Yellow.

Webster Pages Color Crush Side view

I got the kit from them. For the uninitiated, the kit includes month and weekly view. I need the monthly view for marking in events, like the doctor appointments, school related stuff. The weekly view on 2 page is great to get an overview of the entire week. Also, it has a section on the top that I use for tasks that need to be done that week, not necessarily on a specific day.

Monthly view Weekly view

Why didn’t this work for me before? And what has changed?
When I tried this before, I got swayed by the form more than function. I didn’t think my layout was pretty like the ones i saw on Pinterest or Instagram. So I moved to using a notebook with the simple bullet journal system. And having a monthly calendar and a weekly view was important for me. But I didn’t have time to make the layouts. There’s also the Running task list that I really wanted. So I found up using the planner less each day and then fell out of love since it wasn’t living up to it’s promise. But of course I missed the forest for the trees. It was me! Not the planner. I just needed to find something that filled the gaps. So 3 weeks ago, I pulled out my Webster Pages planner. The kit was for the year 2015-2016. I found the appropriate month where the date & day aligned and just renamed the month in the header at the top of the page. And I’m glad to say this has worked very well for me. I do jot down appointments in my phone calendar and then move it to the planner when I’ve time. The personal size is 8.5x2x5.5 which makes it easy to carry in my purse. I open it as soon as I reach office and just scan the entire week. I remember reading this somewhere, Plan time to plan. This resonated so well with me. Making this a habit has helped me stay on course with making this a brain dump that I can rely on.

Other supplies that I use:

Is this my ideal planner? No. But this is what works for now. Also, the more I use, the more I figure out what works. In my head, I prefer the A5 size 10.2×9.5×1.9, but that means I can’t keep it in my purse. And I’ve realized that I prefer to carry it around so that I can use it when I have some downtime. I’ll probably try inserts from brands. Looking through Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube is a great resource. I’ve learned to look past the pretty layouts and try to figure out why I like something. That has helped me figure out what my setup should look like. Also knowing my limitations has helped me choose a system that works for me.

Hope this helps!


*Affiliate links used


Tagged as: methinks

To people who are laughing at, liking memes or even questioning the existence of the #metoo campaign:
Survivors don’t owe you their stories (credit: Twitter: @apbenven). But the reason they are coming forward is to highlight the fact this is not a one-off problem. It doesn’t have to happen to you or yours for you to accept that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Sadly in this case, it *is* happening to a lot of people (men & women, alike) you know. Having to relive your worst memories, memories that you’ve spent ages burying deep down, and recovering from, is hard, to say the least. The least you can do is listen to these stories and think of ways you can help address the problem areas. This is not a new problem, it has existed for ages. The reason there’s a lot more people talking about this is ‘coz they are tired of the inaction. If there’s one takeaway from this, is think of at least one thing you’d do to mitigate this systemic issue.


Tagged as: technology

It’s been a super long time since I last blogged. 345 days to be exact! Having a pre-k and a baby shifts priorities to say the least. I’m still reading blogs, just not blogging. I just haven’t been able to carve out time for it. But if I’ve learned anything in the past few months is that you’ll never have time for stuff, if you don’t specifically make time for it. So on that note, onward & forward…

Over the past few days I came across the hashtag #trypod. It was a campaign by NPR to raise awareness about podcasts. It seems, like most things today, we live in a bubble of things we know & do. So people who don’t listen to podcasts are sadly isolated from this community that seems to be thriving lately, a community of people who do listen to podcasts and in some cases are obsessed with it. From my personal experiences, the biggest barrier to entry was the subpar Podcasts app on the iPhone. I’ve used iTunes app on my mac in the past. But it didn’t really stick. I tried the in-page Libsyn player to listen to specific podcasts. A few months ago, I started using Overcast (iOS/MacOS only). And I’ve to say, it’s becoming my go to player. The iPhone app is pretty neat. It’s clean and simple to use without the fuss of extra details crammed into the tiny screen. But the biggest USP for me is that my podcasts are synced across all devices. Other apps that are popular are the aforementioned Podcasts app on iPhone, iTunes on Mac/Windows, Stitcher, Radiopublic (iOS & Android), Spotify (yes! who knew, right?) to name a few.

Currently listening to

Now that we are done with the hows, moving on to the podcasts that are worth a try. Currently on my list are, in a random order:

  • Call Your Girlfriend – I stumbled across this on the Cup of Jo’s awesome podcasts list. A definite read if topics like feminism, girl power pique your interest
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin is a great podcast which reminds you to look for the small things that bring happiness but get lost in the daily grind. I totally recommend the Are you lonely? episode. Quite an eye opener.
  • This American Life is a must-listen on everyone’s list. You can even listen to them on Pandora
  • Young House Love is a fun podcast about all things DIY, design, home & everything tangentially connected to aforementioned things 🙂
  • Marketplace – I love Kai Ryssdal! If I get out of work just in time to catch Marketplace on radio, it’s all rainbows & sunshine 😀

Popular but I haven’t tried personally:
Serial (Season 1, Season 2), S-town, How I Built This, Missing Richard Simmons to name a few. Here’s Atlantic’s list of 50 best podcasts of 2016 .

I would totally recommend giving it a try incase you haven’t. I’m sure you’ll find something that fits the bill.


Planner – Bullet Journal

Tagged as: planner

Some time back (ok, a long time back), I posted about planners. Since then, I’ve spent quite some time looking into this and trying to figure out what works. I meant to post about my findings, but, life happened. Life in the form of a cuddly newborn 🙂 (that’s another post though)!

Long story short, I looked at quite a few planners. Then I realized that I liked the flexibility of the bullet journal system. I liked the fact that I could customize it to suit my needs and it met my #1 objective of getting things done. You can read about the bullet journal system here. My first introduction to it was actually through a different source, Kara from Boho Berry. She’s got a bunch of articles that offer loads of insights & ideas into making it work for you. Another good overview – My Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling. You can also look at how other people use it by following the PlanWithMe challenge on instagram/facebook. The details for the May challenge are on Boho Berry.

So, here’s my custom traveller’s notebook that my mom made for me

I’ve 2 ruled Moleskine Volant notebooks that I picked up from Marshalls in there. The jury is out on the preferred supplies. But for now I like a regular ballpoint pen. I also like using the Pilot Frixion pens since they don’t bleed. I used some of my mom’s Staedler Triplus pens. I want to get used to the idea of using 0.5 pens before I pull the trigger on my Amazon order.

Since I was on my maternity leave, I hadn’t gotten the chance to follow through the challenge in the past months. But this month I’m doing it. It’s a great way to get insights into everyone else’s ideas and ways of making the system work for them. I’m posting my challenge posts on Instagram @sillibillu.

Another great source that I found in the past few months that I’ve been experimenting with BuJo is @therevisionguide. She’s amazing way with doodles. And the best part is that she has easy to follow instructions on recreating them.

We have a million different things and a thousand more distractions every day. If there’s something that can help us tackle the mountain of todos, one at a time, it’s definitely worth the time. BuJo seems to be that for me. I realized that I actually went without looking at my phone upwards of 3 hours in one stretch (the horror!! 😮 ;)).
* includes affiliate links


Recent cards

Tagged as: cards

Mamma’s visiting. We took the Christmas downtime as an opportunity to pick up some of the new craft stuff that she wanted. When the packages from Joann and Simon Says Stamp showed up on our doorstep, mom got busy. Here’s the most recent cards that she made.

1825 Steps: Recent Cards | Bespectacled owl

1825 Steps: Recent Cards | Birthday Card

1825 Steps: Recent Cards | Birthday Card 1825 Steps: Recent Cards | Thanks Card 1825 Steps: Recent Cards | Hello Card

I think my favorite ones are the owl and the leaf ones.

Some of the tools & stamps that she’s used for this(*):
Zig Memory System Wink of Stella Brush Glitter Markers, Christmas Sparkle, Gold, Silver, Clear, 3-Pack
Birthday Circle
Spellbinders S4-428 Shapeabilities ‘Feathers’ Scrapbooking Template
Penny Black Scrapbooking Die Cut, Soft Caress
Paper Smooches Glasses Die


(*) Affiliate links used in some cases

On the internets this week v5

Tagged as: on the internets this week

Jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Random stuff I stumbled upon:
Rupi Kaur – If you haven’t heard about this Canadian based poet, you totally should check out some of her poems. They are pretty amazing. An interview with her: The poet every woman needs to read

Found via:

Speaking of inspiring stuff, the Momentum extension for Chrome was everywhere I looked at work (I work at a tech company, laptop screens are hard to avoid!). I finally succumbed when I realized they have some inspiring messages at the bottom. Like this:

The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have gotten.

I’ve been struggling recently with being more productive. I’ve tried a few things like the todo lists, Pomodoro technique, and getting on the planner bandwagon (more on that in a future post). This article has pretty decent tips on the same. Also, I’ve to do a follow-up post on planners after my previous one.

I recently stumbled upon Blitsy. It has deals for all things crafts. I found an awesome deal for Webster’s Pages Color Crush planner that I couldn’t find anywhere. Here’s a referral link for it.

Header image: From our recent trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium from their Jellyfish exhibit.

Emergency Preparedness

Tagged as: organization

Living in CA where you hear talk about the ‘big one’, there’s always the nagging thought about earthquake preparedness. Every time KQED has their fundraising drive where they talk about their emergency preparedness kit as a thank you gift for subscribers, I get this guilty feeling that we haven’t really done anything for this. So this time around, we decided to do something. Huge props to my sister-in-law for her prodding on this issue.

We starting by compiling a list of things we might need. First things first: what kind of emergencies are we talking about?
i) Earthquake
ii) El Niño (CA has had a severe drought thanks to no rains for the past 4 years. And this year we are predicted to get a record rainfall)
Under these circumstances, we are talking about power loss, no running water, property damage etc.

So, based on that we started our research on things we might need in these cases. (I’ll list the resources at the bottom on this post as well). We decided on getting 2 sets ready: a 72 hour emergency kit that is FEMA recommended and a 24 hour one where everything fits inside a backpack.

72 hr emergency kit:
After a lot of research, we decided to just buy a pre-made 72 hour kit that we would add stuff into. This post does a very good job of listing out everything you’d need to build your own kit.

We chose the one Honey Bucket Survival Kit. One of the primary pros that tipped the scales in its favor was the fact that it functions as a port-a-potty. And also, much cheaper and hassle free way.

Honey Bucket Survival Kit | 1825steps

Here’s what it includes: Water pouches, water purification tablets, ponchos, blankets, water proof matches, duct tape, food kits, first aid kit (bandages, face mask, sterile towelettes), hand crank operated AM/FM radio & flashlight, whistle, utility knife, crowbar, gas and water shut off tool, toilet disinfectant.

Honey Bucket Survival Kit | 1825steps

Stuff that we added into it:
1) Datrex water pouches
2) Lifestraw
3) They include the Mylar thermal blankets, so we ended up buying 4 of the sturdier ones: 2 of each – Breathable and Non-breathable
4) Toddler specific stuff: PullUps, Toys, Food pouches. I made a play kit for our daughter which includes a bunch of crayons, stickers. I got this from the dollar bins at Target.
5) Extra clothes. I remember reading that you need to include pants (not jeans), and a lightweight full-sleeve jacket. So we have a pair of clothes for all of us. I also included my daughter’s fleece blanket.
6) After the Nepal earthquake, one of reports stated that the most injuries were due to glass shards etc where people hurt themselves by stuff that was on the floor. So officials recommended a pair of sturdy shoes.
7) Toilet rolls and kitchen towels
8) Wet wipes. I used the Pampers Sensitive one so that we use it for our daughter as well
9) Hand crank operated flashlight
10) Matches and candles

I didn’t get add super elaborate first aid supplies to the kit because I made a kit for our family based on recommendations from the Five Gallon Ideas article and this amazingly thorough post by Bowl full of lemons.

Backpack kit:
These backpacks will be stored in our cars. I didn’t buy a new backpack since we already had 2 lying around. They are pretty nondescript but sturdy enough.

Car emergency kit | 1825steps

1) Breathable blankets
2) Datrex water pouches
3) Food: Fruit bars (we love the Onebars), protein bars (partial to the Chewy oatmeal bars)
4) Waterproof jackets for all of us
5) Water bottle
6) Swiss utility knife (I’ve had this for 10+ years now. It’s a Victorinox. Has a few more tools than this one)
7) Play kit for our daughter, similar to one mentioned above
8) First aid kit includes bandages, hand sanitizer, pain relievers, EmergenC pouches

There’s a bunch of stuff that we could add to these kits. But for now we are going to add stuff as need arises. Like if on one of our day trips, we need some of these things. And some of the food items don’t have a long enough shelf life as the one in the 72 hr kit, so we’ll keep replenishing the stock.

1) FEMA recommendations
2) SV Toddler’s Emergency Preparedness post
3) Bowl of Lemons’s Emergency preparedness series
4) Build your own emergency kit by Five Gallon Ideas
5) B.O.B post by Branden Thompson
and many more…

A lot of the resources that I looked at are listed on my Pinterest Board: Preparedness

Disclaimer: *Affiliate links for products.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you guys have any more ideas.