Planning for the New Year

Monday, December 29, 2014

Welcome, welcome, welcome ya'll!

As you can tell I am so super rested from my recent holiday vacation to Florida to see my family! If you want to see pictures of our fishing trip or my several shopping hauls be sure to follow me on Instagram! (@aubrey.eastway)

Okay, enough with the shameless social media plugs. On to our topic right? First, let me introduce you to my newest obsession, true planner love. Introducing...

Why yes, I am one of those people that name their planners. #noshame. Named "Zesty" after "Lemon Zest" I can't help but smile every time I glance at it! However, I really wanted to tell you why I am so in love with it, besides its vibrant color.

This is a tool. It has helped me in my everyday planning, in keeping track of expenses, in monitoring my water intake, scheduling all my appointments, and it's also a release for my creativity. Not only can I maintain a level of consistent productivity but I can also do it in a crafty way.

Isn't that little bow cute? Well it's a DIY! You can find templates and tutorials all over the place! But I highly recommend the one over at one of my favorite vlogger/blogger, Alexis' blog, Strange and Charmed! She is seriously the You can also click on the picture below to be taken to her super informational video with instructions to DIY the bow yourself! 

DIY Planner Bow Clip

If you don't have a planner for the new year, I highly recommend getting one. It doesn't have to be a Filofax or an expensive one. You can get super cute ones at Target - spiral bound, ring bound, or just bound! You can literally personalize any and every planner on any budget, with a little ingenuity and creativity of course! 

Enough of my planner obsessed rant. I wanted to show it to you so that I could really drill in this one idea.

If you want to reach your goals, you have to plan for them. 

I realize that some of you don't need to have everything on paper in front of you like I do. I also know that there are some pretty sweet apps and online calendars that can prove to be very beneficial to the techy in us all. But you have to plan to reach your goals. You absolutely have too! You need to have ways to check your progress, and the only way you can do that is by planning check points. 

Think about it. This time of year is all about setting new goals and starting fresh. Anyone can chase after a dream for a month, but it takes dedication, planning, and enthusiasm to preserve that drive! Having manageable bite size chunks that progressively lead up to reaching and maintaining your goal is the best and most efficient way to reach them. 

On Thursday, I plan on taking you through my entire planner, discussing my New Year's Resolution, having a printable available for your use and download, and also announcing some really exciting news! 

Keep coming back because I have so many ideas and fun things planned for the New Year!


Savoring the Holiday Spirit

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Welcome back to the Christmas Collaboration between myself and Emily over at Createyou86! As you can see from the post title we're going to be talking about Christmas spirit.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud, for all to hear.

We've all heard this quote right? If you haven't, I highly suggest that you flip on your tv, and go check out the movie, "Elf." It's literally one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. It's so hilarious and I find myself enjoying different parts of the movie each year I watch it. It's a family tradition.

I wanted to talk to you about tradition.
My husband and I got married last year in June, and shortly after that my parents moved to Florida some thousand of miles away from us. Now, for me, Christmas is kind of a big deal. My family has traditions out the wazoo. For my husband, however, Christmas had more of a biblical principle more than anything else....not suprising coming from a pastor's kid. :)

So, our first Christmas together was....confusing and hard. Why? Because our traditions were different. Take this story for example.

Every year since I was baby, my family would have our annual Christmas tree decorating night. We would put on Christmas music, decorate the tree - dad does lights, ladies do ornaments - and then we'd watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Well Ethan and I...didn't. Our tree sat bare for the majority of the holiday season until I frustratingly decided to decorate the tree myself. To my dismay, I couldn't get the lights to look like my dads. I remember him specifically saying "you just push them in, to make your tree look pre-lit." Now just picture a frustrated 20 year old woman frantically pushing in Christmas lights, breaking a sweat, getting scratched, cursing under her breath, and on the verge of tears while an innocent husband looked on.

Then my knight and shining armor came....and I cried some more. The lights were NOT pushed in! They did NOT look like my dad's! And if I'm telling you the truth, our lights on our tree this year still do NOT look like my dad's.

So as I set on the couch balling my eyes out, reminiscing the memory of my own family traditions, my sweet husband sat next to me and tried to comfort me, having no idea why I was crying. "" I managed to sob out in a hot mess.

And do you know what my sweet, wise, Godly, husband said.

"We will learn to make our own traditions."

And we have.

Every Thanksgiving we go see a movie, every Christmas we end up giving each other our presents way early, we watch "Elf", we do things our way, and are still figuring everything else out.

And as we decorated the Christmas tree this December, I found myself thinking back on our last Christmas tree, and discovered something new.

Every year, Ethan has done the lights, and they have been Ethan's lights. Sure, they aren't pushed in, and they are quirky, and soooooo Ethan. But they are his lights. His contribution to Christmas. And I realized that it didn't matter what we did to celebrate Christmas.

We could have a family paintball fight, we could give each other the most horrendous presents, or we could basically do everything we do now. So long as did them, in the Spirit of Christmas, it would matter. It would make Christmas. We would feel Christmas.

Remember, it's not about what you do, how great your tree looks, or if your stockings are hung in a row. It's why you do, and that you do it, in the Spirit of Christmas.

Christmas Card Bonanza!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Welcome back everyone! I hope you are finding your Holidays to be a lot simpler! I am so glad you stopped by today because I have such a treat! Are you ready??

It's a printable Christmas Card just for you! If you and your family are the Christmas card giving type - and you haven't found the perfect card yet, or don't want to pay for a bunch - then by all means give this printable a try! You can find and download it HERE! It's FREE and SUPER cute!

All that's left for you to do is print them out on some nice card stock, cut, and send! I also send my printables as post cards so I can skimp on the envelope cost!

I hope you enjoy this little gift from me to you!

Merry Christmas,

Gift Giving 101!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Welcome back to our "Simplifying the Holidays" series! Today we're going to talk about gift giving. The where and the what! I've been thinking about this post a lot and have been unsure on how to go about it. It's difficult to say that what I would give to someone, you would also, because gift giving is about the giver, not the gift! I talk more about that in "The B Word".

Because I talked about how to gift for the hardest people in your life, I decided to create a list of "stereotypical gifts" for those that you know well, but aren't sure exactly what to get them. Below you'll find a list of stereotypes and a list of gifts per. It was my objective to create a list that includes all price ranges, so I hope you find this helpful!

"The Fitness Fanatic" -

  1. Wireless Headphones - I found mine at TJ Maxx for $40.00
  2. Cliff Bars - Can find at almost any grocery store!
  3. Hair Ties and Headbands! Get these here.
  4. A New Water Bottle - decorate it yourself, or find one at any store!
  5. Pay for a few months of their membership!

"The Coffee Lover" -

  1. A cute new mug! Find this one here. 
  2. A coffee Cozy! Get it here.
  3. DIY a coffee scrub! Many recipes found online!
  4. DIY chocolate covered spoons! Get the look here
  5. ANY coffee lover would LOVE to have a Starbucks Gift Card as well!

"The Beauty Queen"

  1. DIY a cute make-up brush holder!
  2. Nail Polish! (OPI - Dulce de Leche)
  3. EOS Lip Balm - found at almost any department store.
  4. Betsy Johnson Cosmetic Bag - Get it here.
  5. ULTA Gift Card

"The Planner Addict"

  1. Cute Pens! Get these here.
  2. Planner Stickers! Get those here.
  3. An Erin Condren Life Planner. You can get that here.
  4. Cute paper clips. Get the owl here!   

"The Book Lover"

  1. Book Ends - get the owl ones here
  2. Book Marks - get this one here.
  3. Book Initial - get one similar here.
  4. Great Gatsby Necklace. Here.
  5. Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Those are the most common stereotypes I can think of at the moment! But if you think of one and you'd like to know how I'd gift for them, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to shop around! I hope these ideas have made your Holiday shopping a little easier! Christmas is only 12 days away can you believe it!?

Don't forget that Emily over at Createyou86 also posted today on gift giving so be sure to check her out! Check back next time for "Christmas Card Bonanza!" Until then, live simply today.


Makin' A List, and Checking It Twice!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Welcome back to 528 Square Feet! Can I just take this moment to tell you how much I love your feedback, shares, and comments? Hash-Tag, BLESSED!

This series has been dedicated to talking about the good ole Holidays! Oh the chaos! Holidays are such a wonderful, yet awful time. The time spent with family is truly amazing, yet the time spent preparing for family....not so amazing.

Therefore, Emily and I have decided to do this 3 week series about simplifying your holidays, and making them a time that you can fully enjoy! Can you believe we only have 15 days until Christmas? YIKES! If you're anything like me you've already created your lists, finalized them, and have just about everyone bought for except.....that person.

You all know what I'm talking about. That person that absolutely NO one - not their mother, spouse, or best friend - knows what to get them. What do you do for them? 

Well I just so happen to be blessed with three of those people in my life. And here's how I tackled all three of them. I made another list...well chart actually! It's nothing fancy, just something that helped me to visualize and see everything at once!

Name:Spark Questions:Answer:Idea:
1. Recent Achievement/Accomplishments?Soon College Grad
Movie Candy Box and tickets to most Recent Lord of the Rings Movie!
2.) Known Interests?Neveron, Video Games, Movies
3.) Obsessions?Game of Thrones, Lord of Rings
4.) Known Needs?none
5.) Inside Jokes?none
1. Recent Achievement/Accomplishments?Pastor, Very Busy!
A Nice Bottle of Wine and Glass
2.) Known Interests?Tennis, Sports, C.S Lewis
3.) Obsessions?Sleep, Bible Study, Car, Wine
4.) Known Needs?None
5.) Inside Jokes?cheesy jokes
1. Recent Achievement/Accomplishments?New Job!
Good Switch Blade, and Tackle Gift Card
2.) Known Interests?Art, Fishing, Photography
3.) Obsessions?Paranormal TV, Fishing
4.) Known Needs?Job Tools, Art Inspiration
5.) Inside Jokes?Too many! 

As you can see this chart has really helped me think of gifts that are customized for each person! If you want to create your own chart here are the "Spark" questions I have!

  • Recent Achievement and or Accomplishment?
  • What are their known interests?
  • What are their known obsessions?
  • Have they expressed anything they need around you?
  • Do you have any inside jokes with them?
I'm sure you can come up with many, many, many more, but just remember: the purpose of this chart is to simplify your gift giving (not make a huge large FBI analysis of each person that takes you at least 5 hours to create!) If you'd like to use the chart that I made, you can download or use it HERE. I hope this list making tool proves to be beneficial to you! I've also scoured the internet for cute list making printables! I thought I'd do the work for you guys! <3 Each photo is a clickable link to the associated site! Happy Listing!

Christmas Shopping ListUse this printable Wish List to keep track of items throughout the year. It's an easy-to-reference tool that will help you remember what you need {or want!}printable christmas gift list          Making A List: Christmas Gift Record Printable - A Pair of Pears
DFP Free Christmas Gift List Planner

Okay, those are some of my favorites! I also happen to know that Miss Emily has a Christmas List printable on its way too so keeping checking in on her blog for it! It's super cute and very Christmas-y! 

Next week we'll be talking about "Great Gift Giving" and my ideas for different people in your life!

Make those holidays simple,

The "B" Word

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I'm the first one to admit that when it comes to gifts, I am absolutely horrible at maintaining my budget.I have that dreaded, "GREAT GIFT GIVING" mindset! I love this holiday, because it gives me the opportunity to give gifts that show my thoughtfulness and attentiveness to people. I seriously love giving.

My latest shopping extravaganza was just this weekend. My husband and I went to Target on the hunt for gifts for everyone on our list! This included:

  1. My Mom
  2. My Dad
  3. My Sister
  4. His Mom
  5. His Dad
  6. His Sister
  7. His Brother
  8. Friend #1
  9. Myself
  10. My Husband

We had approximately ten gifts to purchase. Now, I rarely ever go shopping without a monetary budget budget in mind. My goal was $200. I was hoping that would be enough to purchase a few small gifts for every one on that list! (Around $20 per person). We ended up spending around $115 at Target with a few really great gifts. 

Our next stop was Bath and Body Works for the beautiful 5 women in my life. There we spent $42 on a killer deal of by 3 get two free. So afterwards I had about:

  1. My Mom
  2. My Dad
  3. My Sister
  4. His Mom
  5. His Dad
  6. His Sister
  7. His Brother
  8. Friend #1
  9. Myself
  10. My Husband

So we were roughly at the end of our budget and still had HALF the people on our list to purchase for. I was shattered! Did I really need $400 to give to the people I loved? And of course, they were all the men, which of whom are always the hardest for me to buy for. I left discouraged. SUPER discouraged. And in my discouragement, I was hit with a very tough realization. A newsflash! Are you ready to hear about the plank in my eye?


I am a hypocrite. You heard me. The biggest of all! I am a huge advocate for simple living, with  being content with less. But when it comes time for an opportunity to truly live that out, I crumble underneath the the idea of quantity. 

See I hate the thought of someone opening a gift from me and thinking, "that's it?" I have a giving nature. I love giving! I am a giver through and through - and I don't think that's a bad thing. But I've learned that I HAVE to be careful with what I give myself too.

Christmas is not about giving and receiving the most extravagant gifts, or being called the best giver. For so long my identity has rested in that label every holiday season. For me, Christmas is about the ultimate gift ever given, that of Jesus, one I cannot top. 


I've come to realize that Christmas is not about what you give, but how you give. Can you give freely, or do you wind up giving with a bitter heart because what you bought stretched your budget so thin you're living on Ramen Noodles? What are your intentions behind the gift? Is it to be the best gifter? To have the best wrapping paper? To be the most creative?

I am guilty of almost every single one of those thoughts. 

I give to be the best. 

And my consequence for this is a small budget, and a loss of true meaning. As I attempt to stretch my budget to fit those last people in, I can't help but reflect on some of the best gifts I've ever been given.

  • A glass casserole dish and a handmade booklet of my mother's recipes my first year of college.
  • A day of painting with my husband because we couldn't afford to go to an actual gallery in Chicago.
They were simple. But they were beautiful. And they were CHEAP.

If' I'm honest, my favorite gifts of all time are memories and momma's cooking. I couldn't even tell you the number of presents I received in any given Christmas. Why? Because it didn't matter.

What mattered was the connection I made with the people that gave. 

So, when you're looking through your budget this season, frantically trying to figure out how you'll get it all to work. I invite you to shake that anxiety right off your shoulders and realize the truth of Christmas. Don't allow yourself to get worked up the "Go big or go home" mindset that this holiday usually promotes. Rather, take a breath, think about the people you love, and do something that shows them just that.


Merry Christmas,

Simplify the Holidays - KICK-OFF!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Monday everyone! It seems like forever since I've made a post and for that I'm sorry! Moving into our home was and still is a blast! Planning where everything goes, decorating, and organizing are so much fun when it's your home to keep!

So where I have been? Well first and foremost I moved last week! But then Thanksgiving came up on us in a hurry! And since Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and thankful, I really decided to put this principle into practice. Therefore, I took this opportunity to truly invest in my relationships with friends and family. My Thanksgiving transformed into a holiday where I truly connected with my family and friends and for that I am even more thankfull!


Now that I've gotten all my excuses out of the way, let me tell you about a new FRIEND I made! Her name is Emily, and she's the writer over at Createyou86! She's seriously so awesome and has her own planner shop! I wrote a review for her fauxdori HERE. Anyways, we have decided to collaborate on this wonderful holiday season! For the next month our blogs will be dedicated to simplifying the holidays! We'll be creating tools, showing you tips and tricks, and hopefully helping you make the Christmas season a little more simple. Therefore, keep checking in our blogs to see what we've come up with because we have so much fun in the making!


Pause. Halt. Stop. Freeze. 

The Christmas Season is notorious for chaos. I mean if I can look back on all 21 Christmases I've experienced this far, I'm pretty sure that the word chaos would fit most of those. I mean if we're completely honest, the season basically begins on the most chaotic day of the year.


I try not to go out on this day because people have literally been trampled in their attempt to purchase a new coffee maker. However, I did somehow manage to need toilet paper and a few command strips for the house and found myself endlessly wandering around Wal-Mart on this crazy day! Now I know that a lot of my readers do go out on Black Friday, to which I reply, "more power to you!" But as I shuffled and dodged my way down the hardware department, I couldn't help but think I needed shoulder pads and football helmet to survive! So, if we can survive Black Friday, we still have to manage all of our schedules at the same time!

If your Christmas is anything like mine it goes a little like this:

We need to be at Aunt Marthas house at 10, Grandma Doris' house at noon, and our own Christmas at 7:00. Oh and don't even get me started on all of the ugly sweater, Christmas Pageant, buffet dinner, parties you go to the whole month of December!

All on top of the juggling who gets what, where you can get it, and how much it costs! Yeah, I think we've established its pretty chaotic.

It's so chaotic, we miss the point. 

So in my efforts to try and take a little of that chaos out of my life, I created this gift printable, which you can download for free - HERE. It's simple, concise, and cute. It's also in letter formatting, so that you can resize to any Filofax, Fauxdori, or any other planner you may already have! I love this printable because it allows me to get back to what I believe Christmas to be all about. (More on that later!)

For now, I invite you to sit back, relax, plan your gifts, get them written down on paper, and breath. Chaos can steal the joy of Christmas. Simplify your life, and experience this beautiful holiday in an entirely different way!

Keep checking in on our blogs for more freebies, DIYS, and tips and tricks! Oh and be sure to tell me all about your crazy Black Friday shopping in the comments!

Aubrey & Emily