Very Important Announcement!

My blog is moving to!


Self-hosted sites have way more capabilities so I can share a lot more cool stuff with you there.  Please update your bookmarks so you don’t miss anything!


A Peek Inside My Bullet Journal


I’ve talked about bullet journaling in the past and promised to do a more in-depth write-up of how I use the bullet journaling system in my life.  Well, here it is!  What I love about bullet journaling is that you can really adapt it to your needs.  There is a basic framework, but at it’s core, it is a blank notebook and a writing utensil that can be utilized however you best see fit.

If you’ve never heard of bullet journaling or have but aren’t really sure what it means, check out the below intro video from the inventor of the system.

Now, I’d like to share with you how I’ve adapted this system to meet my needs.  Rather than starting with a “Future Log” and list-style monthly layouts, I have printed actual calendars and washi-taped them into my journal.  I’m a very visual person, and it helps me to see the days and weeks laid out like a normal calendar.  I use pink ink for my blog content planning, red ink for Alabama Football games, green for things I might do, and black for most everything else.  I thought I was going to run a marathon and had written out a loose training plan for that in blue ink, but I have since changed my mind (still on my list of things I’d like to do, just not this year!).


My daily pages are a bit different than the original system, as I like to plan things out by time and also have room for notes, habit tracking, meal planning, photos, and stickers.  My layout changes to fit my needs, but since Carla May was born, I’ve used the layout below.  The top left portion is my to-do list and the top-right portion is my habit-tracker and meal planner (yes, when Carla May was a colicky baby, I had to remind myself to shower!).  The bottom portion of the page is my hourly tracker, divided into columns.  In the first column I tracked both my and Carla May’s sleep – the blue hatch marks are Carla May’s sleep and the black hash marks are mine.  In the next column , I tracked nursing and pumping, and the final column is for appointments, notes, photos, or anything else that I might need to remember.  When Carla May was first born, I had another column tracking wet and dirty diapers, but once I knew she was normal, I quit tracking that.


As you can see below, I also quit tracking nursing – April 2nd is actually the day I stopped tracking it altogether.  Carla May is a great eater and was gaining weight just fine, so I didn’t see the value in tracking that anymore.  I’ve actually just stopped tracking her sleep in the last few weeks, too, but recording it all was so helpful back when we were still working on sleep training.  On fussy days, it is such a relief to go back and look at how far we’ve come!


Another thing that is great about bullet journaling is the ease of creating “collection” pages.  If you think of something you’d like to track or take note of, it is simple to open to the next blank page and start writing.  One of the collection pages I use the most is my book tracker.  On the lefthand side, you can see how I track the books I read, and on the righthand side is a printed out page showing the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge, where I have selected books that I would love to read that fit into the categories that Anne Bogel provided on her bookworm blog.  What can I say? I love a good reading assignment!


I have all kinds of collections pages throughout my notebook – packing lists, meeting notes, lists of blog posts ideas, and my personal favorite collection – books to buy whenever I am at an independent bookstore.  If I hear of a book I’m interested in, but don’t need to read immediately, I jot it down on my list rather than ordering it from Amazon.  The next time I’m at an independent bookstore, I purchase as many of these as I can find (or as many as I can afford, whichever comes first).


I will typically draw in a month’s worth of daily pages at a time and separate each with washi tape along the edge of  the page.  Collections pages typically go on blank pages in between months.  The washi tape helps me locate collections as well as determine where months end and begin within my bullet journal.


For you school supply junkies out there, here are the materials I use:

  • Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Dotted Notebook – This is the gold standard bullet journal notebook.  Any kind of notebook will do, but this one works perfectly with its numbered and dotted pages, index, two ribbon bookmarks, back pocket, and elastic close.  Every once in awhile, they go on sale on Massdrop, and I’ll usually stock up.
  • Pilot Precise V5 Retractable black pens – I just love these.  They write really smoothly and no ink bleeds through the page.  The rectractable version is nice because you can use only one hand to get started writing, whereas I need two to open a pen with a cap (the things you never think about before babies, right??).
  • Staedtler Fineliners – I mentioned these in my Friday Favorites post last week and I still love them for when I need to add color.
  • Moleskine Pocket sized Ruled Journal – I keep one of these tucked in my bullet journal at all times for my notes for work.  I often take work phonecalls from home or on the go, and it is nice to have all of those notes in one place rather than scattered amongst my personal notes.  When I finish one of these, I write the date on the front, stick it in my desk drawer, and pop a new one into my bullet journal.  I’m a big fan of these little notebooks in general and give them as gifts a lot – they make great stocking stuffers!
  • Stickers and Washi Tape – I usually keep my eyes peeled at Target for when stickers and washi tape are on sale and always do a quick cruise of the $1 section.  I have scored some great finds this way.  I had a giftcard to the Lara Casey Shop recently and purchased the Cultivate What Matters stickerbook pictured above and have been really happy with the design, colors, and quality of those stickers as well.

If this is something you are interested in, I recommend you check out Instagram for some great bullet journal inspiration – go down the bullet journal rabbit hole by searching #bulletjournal or #bujo.

Do you have a bullet journal?  Would you like to?  Did your methods of planning and organization change when you had kids (or got a dog)?  I’d love to hear about how you organize your life!  




How to Prepare for an Intentional Summer

This weekend, my sister Mellie got into town.  She is living with me this summer and interning at Nokuse Plantation, where she is researching gopher tortoises. As soon as she arrived, we sat down with stickers and fun markers and pens and started brainstorming.  We put together a Summer Bucket List, with the goal of making this summer an intentional one.  I am so used to my usual routine that if I don’t change things up, the Summer season can easily pass me by… well, not this year!


If you’re wondering what XL Shakes Shakes are, check out Shakes Destin’s website.  Their  frozen custard milkshakes are like no other.  They are so rich and creamy and decadent that you can just feel your thighs expanding (but soooo worth it).  We decided this would be a perfect end-of-summer treat.

After creating our bucket list, we were motivated to start checking things off immediately.  Our afternoon consisted of a yummy lunch with a friend at The Local Market, followed by a trip to the playground. Carla May loved the tire swing, and we enjoyed it, too!


It was a hot hot HOT day, so we set up the splash pad in the backyard next and had a BLAST!  Carla May loves water, and I adore watching her splash around.  We got the splash pad for $20 on Amazon (I think the brand is Bonzai?), and I can already tell we are going to get our moneys-worth this summer.


Another thing Carla May and I did this weekend was buy more flowers at Lowe’s.  We always have fun looking at all the plants, especially the succulents.  While she was napping, I replanted my flower beds with vinca and salvia.  I had unfortunately overwatered the last batch and killed most of them… Gardening is certainly a learning process, but I am determined to turn this brown thumb green!


Have you ever created a Summer Bucket List?  What do you want to accomplish this summer?

Also, please share your gardening tips with me!



Hello Marilu

A first post is a lot of pressure. It shouldn’t be, since no one is reading yet, except maybe my sister (Hi, Mellie!), but that doesn’t eliminate the tingly, nervous feeling in my gut as I anticipate pressing “Publish” for the very first time.

“Why another blog?” you may ask, “What makes you special?”  Well, dear reader (Hi again, Mellie!), this isn’t totally about you. With two needy beagles, a wonderful husband, a sweet 5-month-old baby girl, a full-time job, and a house to keep up, I spend most of my time taking care of others.  I would really like something I can do entirely for myself.  I am hoping this project will allow me to explore my thoughts, interests, and adventures and document the life and times of my growing family.  It’s an added bonus that I get to share all of that with you!

The last five months of being a mom have shown me how quickly time passes. I don’t want to forget all of these special moments I have experienced with my family. I always imagined I would be one of those moms who diligently kept a scrapbook of our photos, but seriously, who has time for that these days? (Unless you do, then I would love to see your scrapbook!). Hopefully, this space will serve as my digital scrapbook of sorts.

Why Hello Marilu?  “Hello Mary Lou” is an old country song that was sung to me by nearly every older gentleman I encountered growing up in rural Alabama. As a result of hearing this song all the time throughout childhood, “Hello Mary Lou” gets stuck in my head a lot! Come to find out, there are about 100 versions of this song out now, in multiple languages.  Hello Marilu is meaningful to me because it is a familiar phrase I have been hearing my entire life, but the proper spelling of my name makes it mine.

I don’t have a niche like most blogs. Hello Marilu will be about me, my family, my interests, and my adventures.  Some of the interests I might explore on this page are mom-ing, reading, running, cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering, and memes.  Stay tuned, and thank you for reading!