6 Reasons to Buy an Erin Condren Life Planner


Erin Condren Life Planners rock. Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com

There are many other planners, and some of them are almost as good as the Erin Condren planners, but they aren’t the real thing. Some people prefer FranklinCovey  (which is more formal), or other fun ones like Filofax,   Plum Paper Planners, or The Happy Planner.  You can also find nice planners from a variety of sellers on Etsy or you can even buy one at Walmart and dress it up.  I haven’t seen any I like as well as my ECLP, though.


ATTENTION: The link below is my affiliate link. If you purchase a planner through that link, you will receive a $10 discount. And I will receive a $10 credit toward my own next purchase.  😀


Reason #1:  It makes me happy.

 Erin Condren Life Planner  3D embellishments  https://www.catheswanson.comAll the other reasons are really justifications. It makes me smile to see my planner. I’m just an amateur planner, but I enjoy decorating it with stickers and washi tape, making inserts for it, using different colored pens and showing it off, especially to my granddaughters, who love it as much as I do. It’s pretty, and they can find their birthdays and special events in it.

 Over the top  3D embellishments Birthday  Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com

Hard to miss.

Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com Monthly spread

 Excuse  Reason #2: It helps you plan for the long-term and immediate future. (Duh…) In the 2-page monthly spreads, I write birthdays and upcoming events. I indicate paydays, bills due, doctor appointments and other repeating or scheduled items in advance. I can do that a whole year ahead or at any time.


Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com Stamps, stickers, 3D elements


The weekly pages are filled in later. I plan and decorate each week as it approaches, referring to the monthly spread to make sure I am not missing anything. This is the fun part.


Journaling in the Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.comReason #3: It functions like a journal. I frequently record events after the fact, so I remember them: last-minute work schedule changes, expenses incurred, canceled or unexpected events, accidents, illness or deaths, blog articles posted, gifts received or sent – or anything else that I may want to have a record of, for future reference.


Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


Reason #4: It is a convenient place to track progress in goals. I use it to keep records of my social media growth and activity, the amount of writing I do each day, and sewing and informal selling records for GloryQuilts. I have checklist pages that snap into the coil and I move them along when I start each new week.

mason jar weight loss tracker Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com

I also track exercise and weight loss in my planner. I made a very cute laminated insert for weight loss: I cut out a mason jar and put stars into it – one star for each pound I need to lose. As I lose each pound,  I “pour” it out of the jar into the heap on the bottom. It’s very rewarding to move each star – except for the ones I have to put back into the jar.  Ahem.  That doesn’t happen often. I use stickers or notes in the daily boxes to record weigh-ins, runs, workouts, water consumption, and anything else pertaining to fitness.  I am planning to start a “savings” jar soon, putting stars into the mason jar as we put money into the savings account.

Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


meal planning Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


Reason #5: Meal planning. I can do this on the monthly or weekly spread according to my needs. Some people make inserts for the purpose. From there, I can make my grocery list.



Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


books and authors for book reviews  Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com Reason #6: Lists. “To do” lists, especially, but I also have lists of phone numbers, shopping lists, books I have read or want to read for reviewing on the blog,  lists of authors I like (for browsing the library website or Amazon), non-critical passwords and prioritized lists of sewing and other business projects.



Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


On the appropriate monthly spreads, I like to jot down Christmas and birthday gift ideas.






Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


One of the main reasons I like having the planner is that it’s “one stop shopping.” One book holds all of the above. There are pocket pages and a zipped pouch in the back, so I could add receipts or scraps of paper if I needed to.


Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


You can get an endless supply of accessories for the planner, including a pen holder and a fancy elastic band to hold it closed when you have stuffed it full of three-dimensional stickers and notes. It comes with a snap in ruler to use as a bookmark. Etsy is a fun place to get accessories, washi tape and stickers.






Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.comThere are many Facebook groups for people who use Erin Condren or other planners. It’s fun to see what other people are doing. Some people spend more time on their planner than they do living the plans, and you can spend a LOT of money on little things to dress it up. I have been doing it less than a year and am pretty frugal. My spreads aren’t as nice as some, but as I said in Reason #1 –

it makes me happy.


Erin Condren Life Planner  https://www.catheswanson.com


Do you have a planner? What kind?

Do you dress it up?

What do you use it for?

Doesn’t Dad Deserve a Mother’s Day?


It’s not fair.

We all know that moms and dads are equally important in their children’s lives, but the days we set aside to honor them – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – are very different. I read online (so it must be true) that Americans spend $7 billion dollars more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. The Hallmark cards are funnier on Father’s Day. Churches treat Mother’s Day with reverence and sensitivity and Father’s Day is an opportunity for sermons one “how to do it better.”  I know it probably bugs me more than it does the men, but it does bug me, so I wrote about it in one of my books. That’s an advantage of being an author. You can spout off your opinions and attribute them to fictional characters.

In my story “Baggage Claim,” Ben Taylor goes in search of his biological father. He finds Jonah Campbell,  who is delighted to learn that he has a son and four young grandchildren – and he especially likes the children’s nanny, Agatha. This is a scene between Agatha and Jonah, getting in the car after church on Father’s Day.

It’s a work in progress, before editing. Remember:  don’t judge books by the first draft!

“So.” Agatha’s voice was challenging. “What did you think of your first Father’s Day service?”

The children had been talking about Fathers Day all week, reveling in their secrets and nearly revealing them in the process. Jonah had been surprised to find himself included in the “father” category, but he loved it.

“It was good.” He tried to think of something more to say. “It was an encouraging message,” he said. “Lots of good ideas.”

“Yes, the pastor had a lot of advice. Did you pick up one of those papers in the back? The ones listing additional resources for learning to be a good father?”

She was trying to make a point. Had he missed something? “I got one for Ben. It looked like it was directed more to the younger dads, but some of it would probably apply to me, too, with the boys.”

“It was terrible!” The words burst out of her, startling him. He’d thought it was good – an old-fashioned exhortation.

“You didn’t like it?”

“Oh, it was fine. But why today?”

“It’s Father’s Day.” It made sense to him. He buckled his seat belt and flipped up the sun visor.

Agatha gave him an exasperated look, the one she usually directed at Ben. “What kind of church service do you see on Mothers Day?”

Was it a trick question? Jonah opened his mouth to say that he didn’t usually pay attention to Mothers Day sermons, hoping to make a joke of it and diffuse her irritation, but she didn’t wait for a response.

“Mothers get nothing but praise. It’s not a lecture on how to be a better mother. Can you imagine how well it would go over if the pastor said, ‘Step up, Mothers. Scripture tells us you need to be a nurturing influence in your children’s lives. Don’t let your busy life be an excuse for failing to train them up.’ And then telling them he has a list of helpful books and websites for them?”

He choked on laughter. She didn’t stop. “And laying on a guilt trip, even telling them they need to meet their husband’s needs first. Can you imagine? No, Mothers get nothing but admiration. Fathers get jokes and lectures. It’s not fair!”

It was an insightful perspective. Jonah’s laughter died. “When Cindy and I went to church, they always made a point of including everyone. Like aunts and babysitters. They always mentioned that some women weren’t able to become pregnant, or had lost children or their mother had died.”

“Right! You don’t hear that on Father’s day.” Agatha said. She mimicked a southern preacher, “And we want to remember today that there are many men who are hurting because they are not yet fathers.”

“No, I didn’t hear that today,” Jonah said. “You’re right. But it’s good to have a sermon on fatherhood. Some of us need help.”

“Not on Fathers Day. It’s supposed to be a day to honor fathers, not nag them or make them feel guilty.”

“True!” He started the truck and entered the train exiting the church parking lot. “You should have a talk with Pastor Martin.”

“Maybe I will.”

He looked at her elegant profile. Maybe she would.

None of my guys are overly-sensitive. They would all rather have a grilled burger for Father’s Day than beautiful cards, flowers and chocolate. Too much gushiness would embarrass them and make them wonder what I’m up to. But I do want to show them respect and honor them for their dedication to loving and training up their children.

What makes your man feel valued and respected on Father’s Day?

This is what it’s all about.




I’ve made several of these skirts for my two granddaughters. It’s a simple swing skirt with a yoke and bound hem. The binding at the hem gives it better twirlability and a nice flared shape. It’s a quick skirt for me to make, and I have done several for each of them. They like having matching ones.

alanna skirt

This week, while Alanna was  visiting, she made the skirt all by herself.  I cut it out and basted part of the binding at the hem, but she did all of the sewing, using the serger as well as the regular sewing machine. It’s quite an accomplishment for a ten-year-old!

Teaching granddaughters to sew and quilt is a joy to me!


Colder Than Thou – Living in Wisconsin

adisyn winter parade

Wisconsin provides an unusual bonus opportunity for its residents. We have a long, cold winter. Fact. It’s Wisconsin. The media tries to whip up a panicked frenzy periodically, reporting worst blizzards ever, unprecedented cold snaps and record snowfalls, but most of us roll our eyes and go on with life. It’s Wisconsin.

I’m not saying we don’t grumble. That is our special Wisconsinite privilege – the opportunity to bemoan our cold weather. The winters give us bragging rights. That’s always been fun; our grandfathers enjoyed it:

“Cold enough for ya?”

Winter is an attitude. Winter is a challenge. A dare. I host a Bible study in my home on Thursday mornings. We have 8-10 young moms and a hundred children. (Maybe it’s only about 15.)   No one has perfect attendance. We often have one one or two families absent.  But on winter days when the snow is blowing and the wind is bitter, every single woman is there. Some of them walk instead of driving, just because. No sissies in that group!

And now, to make it all even better, we have social media.  We can wallow in our weather long-distance, with friends around the world.  We can talk all winter about the challenges (triumphantly overcome) of living in the Midwest. It’s a nonchalant mention that we walked to Cathe’s house today for Bible study. After all, it’s only half a mile and the kids enjoy walking in the snow.  We might post a picture of our macho teenagers wearing shorts to school in January, mentioning that they only wear jeans when they take the snowmobile to school.  We plug in our cars, we let the faucets drip so the pipes don’t freeze, we have parades and go camping in December.  We are Wisconsinites!

Social media bragging is best in the spring, though. We watch, rubbing our hands together in anticipation, for those facebook posts from our friends in Texas and Florida: their roses are blooming, they filled the backyard swimming pool, they are sunburned, their air-conditioner is broken so they are staying at a hotel.

HA! This is our moment. We don’t want them to feel sorry for us that we won’t be planting roses until the snow melts, or that the swimming pool is currently serving as a hockey rink.  We just want to draw attention to it. We want them to be aware of our own challenges and our sangfroid in meeting them.

There is a certain smug note to every one of  those “it’s still winter in Wisconsin” comments.

It was 38 degrees here this morning, but it’s warmed up to be a lovely day. I may take the flannel sheets off the bed soon.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

chewelah06That’s usually good advice for an aspiring novelist, but my day job isn’t all that profitable, either. I teach quiltmaking.  I have been teaching for twenty years, and I love it. Teaching is something that blesses me. I also make quilts for sale on etsy or by commission and do some custom dressmaking.

Although I learned to sew clothing over forty years ago, I didn’t take up quiltmaking until I was pregnant with my second child. That first quilt was very sweet, with pink and blue lambs on a muslin background. I appliqued the lambs with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine and used a puffy batting.


I decided I enjoyed quiltmaking and started looking for more information. We were living in a tiny farming town in Germany, and it was hard to find calico fabric in the local stores. The Air Force Base Exchange had some fabric, although none of it matched, and they had something even more interesting: a rotary cutter.

There weren’t many quilting books in the base library, and they were all too old-fashioned (I was 24), so I used graph paper and colored pencils to design a little wall quilt to insulate the bathroom window.

NOTE – Certain people claim that when they had to use the bathroom in our house, they would stick to the seat. That is not true. It never got below freezing in there. Bunch of sissies.

1000 Pyramids Free Pattern!

That did not satisfy my creative urges, so I found a magazine and persuaded a friend to help me make a “real” quilt. The “Thousand Pyramids” quilt looked good, so we made cardboard templates of those pointy triangles and then cut around them with the amazing little rotary cutter – no rulers or gridded mats – and of course the cutter just chewed up the templates until they were useless. We did get a couple rows of triangles sewn together, but then the rows wouldn’t match up.  I graciously permitted my friend to keep that project, and I believe she unloaded the whole mess on an unsuspecting neighbor years later.


jill5I persevered. I made more projects, including another baby quilt two years later. When we returned to the United States, I was able to take classes, meet other quiltmakers, read real quilt books and magazines, visit quilt shows… I even established quilt guilds and organized shows!




bomclass1I started teaching classes in 1992, at a local craft store. They had about twenty bolts of fabric and limited supplies, but the classes were a hit. I loved teaching. I still had to draw patterns with graph paper and colored pencils, and some of my class handouts were photocopies of handwritten instruction when I didn’t have time to type them up at the library. Those first few classes were a learning experience for me, too. My students were very patient and kind, and I didn’t have any dropouts.


bee8It’s been a delightful career. I have taught classes, workshops and retreats  across the United States, and I am now developing a new kind of quilting event: The Bridal Quilting Bee.  The problem with teaching quiltmaking is that in order to become rich and famous, you have to become associated with quilt shops, fabric companies and other aspects of the industry. Like writing fiction, it’s all about the marketing. You need to write pattern books and maybe even get a television show. I think all of that is great, but my heart is in teaching quilting and making it accessible to everyone. I don’t want people to be told they have to use certain brands of fabric or certain tools. I don’t want to teach in shops where the students are required to buy all new fabric for the class. Those things are fine, and they maintain the quilting industry, but it’s not for me.


bee1I created GloryQuilts as a business, so I can’t claim that it’s entirely a ministry. I would rather it’s not a non-profit ministry, mind you, but I’m not going to make any significant money from it. And that’s okay. If I can cover my expenses and buy myself a little more fabric, I’m happy. I want to teach people to make quilts – not to make only one specific project, but to make quilts. They should leave my classes with knowledge that they can apply to the making of another quilt. I want them to leave my classes happy and confident.



Most of all, I want to fulfill the “tagline” I have always associate with GloryQuilts:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

My writer friends have suggested that I write books with quilt themes, and even though the market is pretty saturated with those already, I am writing one. This one is historical fiction, starting in the early 1800’s in Sweden, and it’s a serial novel.  The first episode will be available on March 2! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed the research and writing.

Resolutions Everywhere


On every blog, every website, and every facebook page, there are articles about resolutions and goals. Some people want to sell you their latest organizational book or tool, and some people want to sell you fitness advice or diet pills. Webinars, videos, podcasts all over the place, free and fee. Some people just want to talk about setting goals – their own or in general.

Okay, so it’s not “everywhere”, but it’s a large percentage. Some people are more retrospective, writing about the past year instead of goals.

I have one statement that wraps it all up for me:

Last year, I lost my job.

That changed everything. No more income of my own, but I have a husband who is encouraging me to follow my own dreams. I would like to keep contributing financially, so I will do some sewing, but what I really want to do is write. I can make pin money by doing some copy writing, but I really want to spend the time writing fiction.

Resolution – to figure that out and do it all, without procrastination or distraction.

Goal – next year, at this time, I want to be ready for publication of at least one of the novels I have written or am still writing.

Method – write, build platform, write, make connections, write, learn about writing, write. Do some sewing or find another way to make money. Write.

Losing my job was a bad thing, financially, but it was a release from a stressful, life-sucking situation. It was a gift from God and my husband, and I must seize the opportunity. That loss was a blessing.

So my blog post ended up as another article about resolutions and goals, too. The new year is a good time to think about those things. Have a blessed new year. Love others, be kind, follow God. The rest follows.

(Oh, and I need to lose fifteen pounds, too.)