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    Seven Quick Takes on Coupon Codes Galore, Labeling Stuff, a New Podcast, and MORE!

    January 22, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    I’ve got a few deals and steals to share, so let’s start with that:


    :: 2 ::

    The best purchase I made in 2015 was a label maker. I am not naturally an everything-in-its-place person. In fact, my Things don’t always have Places. Even though my Pretend Life Coach is constantly telling me they should. When I decided to buy new bookshelves {because we were bursting at the seams} and reorganize my office {the room in which the new shelves would fit}, I made the decision to put labels everywhere. The shelves have labels. The cubbies I moved into the closet have labels. Everything is labeled.

    This. is. huge. For starters, the act of labeling caused me to make a decision about where things would and wouldn’t go, and then sticking a label on it was a commitment on my part. That alone was good, but the long-term impact was even better. The labels reminded me of what I had decided, and kept me from changing my mind — I’ve realized that it’s this act of changing my mind about where things go that causes a lot of my clutter. So whereas before I would leave my camera on my desk because I wasn’t sure where to put it {for real … so embarrassing}, now I obey the labels and put my camera in its assigned location.

    I am not tidy now. But the labels are keeping the level of chaos down to a more manageable scale. I still have to have everything out until I’m done with a project, but I can put it all away faster now that all the decisions about where things go have already been made.

    I put off buying a label maker for years … so sad!

    :: 3 ::

    This month in 2012:

    Shakespeare with Littles

    In which I attempted to include my preschoolers in our Shakespeare lessons … and was actually successful!


    :: 4 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 5 ::

    scholesisters_coverIn case you missed the Facebook announcement, I should probably mention here that the Scholé Sisters are in the process of launching a new podcast. If all goes as planned, our first episode will be out one week from today! We’re very excited about it, and I think you all are going to really enjoy it. Our first episode will tell you all about it, so stay tuned.


    :: 6 ::

    Another big announcement I have is that Dawn Duran, Charlotte Mason mama and physical therapist extraordinaire, is going to start writing a monthly post here on the blog. Last year at the AmblesideOnline national conference, she spoke on Charlotte Mason’s use of Swedish Drill, and while I didn’t get to be present for it, I heard it was really great. I asked her then if she’d want to write for me here on the blog and explore the importance of physical education, the movement of the body, implications for brain development, and more.

    Happily, she said yes, and her first post will appear next week! It’s really great, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 🙂


    :: 7 ::

    • Question: How do you do it all???
      • Answer: I don’t, and I’m basically including this question so that I can confess that I am woefully behind on email correspondence and if you’ve used the contact form lately, please know that I’m a big loser and I’m sorry.
    • Question: I had a brief glimpse of your 2015 Reading list and books you have read but I can not find it now. Can you please direct me to it’s location?
      • Answer: If you mean the Book Awards, here they are. If you mean the list at the bottom of the page, it has disappeared into the ether and I’m very sorry! Please refer to “big loser” above.
    • Question: Regarding pre-reading, do you think it best for me to be just a week or so ahead of my year 4 student, or should I be reading year 5 now to be prepared for when she gets there next year?
      • Answer: I have always been only about a week ahead, and it’s worked for me for eight years so far. 🙂 With that said, Year 5 is a little bit heavier than Year 4, so if you have the time, it might be worth it to pull a book from the list and start working your way through it … BUT … be prepared that you won’t remember it as well as you do the books that you are reading and then discussing right away with your child unless you do some form of narration yourself!


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  • Reply Lisa A January 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Brandy. I just wanted to ask you, if you don’t mind, would you please put some kind of warning if you have any article titles of a sensitive nature? When I read the title of the first article linked in the links collection take I felt physically ill for a few hours afterwards and on and off throughout the next day too. I know you don’t normally share things like that, and I do love your blog, but I just wanted to let you know that things like that can affect people.

    So sorry to be negative. Just sharing because I figured you might not have been aware, and I know if it was me writing I’d want to know….

  • Reply Carol January 25, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Very interesting article you linked to on the Doctor’s Mission.

    This quote by the Dr reminded me of CM’s comments in P of Ed about the peril of remaining too long in any one field of thought & of Darwin losing himself in science so that he became unable to turn his mind out of the way it had run for most of his life:

    “…I was struck when I practiced medicine how hard it was to blend science and still become an appropriately emotional person with thoughts. I read literature and poems and essays and found they helped me formalize my thoughts, to express myself better.”

  • Reply Amber January 24, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I’m looking forward to Dawn’s posts too! And the Scholé Sisters podcast sounds intriguing. Now to just find a little more podcast listening time… 🙂 There are so many good ones out nowadays!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      We are just helping you get more steps in, Amber. 😉

      • Reply Amber January 26, 2016 at 3:51 pm

        I need all the help I can get! I keep edging my step count a little higher so I can be trying to meet the same goal as everyone else… but I definitely need to figure out how to get more movement in my day so I don’t end up walking in circles around my house in the evening! 😀 Although that is prime podcast listening time… so maybe it all works out ok after all.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel January 26, 2016 at 4:57 pm

          Secret: I wander around my house ALL THE TIME. True story.

          • Amber Vanderpol January 28, 2016 at 9:55 am

            ? Me too! And every time I go upstairs, do something, go back down, remember what I was supposed to do, and go back upstairs I console myself with the thought of all the extra step my distractedness is helping me to get!

  • Reply Kate January 23, 2016 at 6:51 am

    I am a total, type-A, label-maker nerd. My bins are all neatly labeled, but it’s never occurred to me to label the spaces where the things go! Aha! Perhaps that will help me make serenity out of the chaos that is my two huge bookcases.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 23, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      If only my label maker would actually put the stuff back for me! Now THAT would be something. Then, labeling would make me something like royalty, and the labels a form of issuing commands… A girl can dream, right? 😉

  • Reply Kortney January 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Well, I DID miss the podcast announcement on Facebook! Though a little bird had told me the new podcast was coming, I didn’t know the time line! All the best in this new work! Can’t wait to see what this new year holds 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      That little bird is always twittering, isn’t she? 😉

  • Reply Emily Bennett January 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Brandy,

    This question is unrelated to your post, but I’d love to know what you think the best homeschool conference to attend is? I am a classical Charlotte Mason-style homeschooler. I’ve been to the Great Homeschool Convention before and I was considering maybe the Wild and Free conference this year. Are there other conferences I should be considering? What’s the best conference you’ve ever been to? I’d love to know your thoughts!

    Thanks, Emily

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Emily,

      I hate to disappoint, but I’m probably NOT the best person to ask about conferences. I actually haven’t been to that many conferences, and all the ones I’ve attended, save one, I was speaking — which means my experience was likely a little different from an attendee’s.

      With that said, I will tell you it is a dream of mine to go to a CiRCE Conference someday. 🙂

  • Reply Melissa January 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

    My camera WAS on my desk. However, I got a new printer yesterday and I didn’t realize what a cow it was until I got him home and tried to fit it into my little tiny space 🙁 The upside…I’m now forced to clean off my desk, sort, and organize!

    BTW, I read the Foss article last week and was very moved by it. I love the realness she portrays.

    Lastly, I’ve been looking seriously at The Elements of Classical Homeschooling course. Have you completed the course? If so, do you have related blog posts? I’d love to hear your thoughts from a Charlotte Mason perspective.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      I haven’t yet completed the course, AND I haven’t blogged much about it. Ahem. I should do both!

      So far, I can say that while it is not CM, it is mostly complementary.

  • Reply Virginia Lee January 22, 2016 at 9:36 am

    You make me smile. =) Leaving your camera on your desk is unorganized?! I always grin when organized people think they are not organized. You, Mystie, Celeste, y’all inspire me. Enough to do better than I am, but not enough to make me feel bad about not being as organized as y’all are. My problem is motivation. For the most part I don’t mind some disorganization. Being highly organized takes time I’d rather be reading or playing a board game with the kiddos. But some level of organization is needed for a family of 6 (7 in July). So I read y’all’s blogs, implement some of your good ideas, and then smile at the rest and call the piles of books decor. Except for homeschooling; I am highly organized there. But then that is fun, because it involves ideas and books and the success of making sure my children (cough, or their mama) do not go off on a tangent for too long.

    P.S. Your son’s 10 year old reading list is done by months. Here is the link for one of them.

    Maybe that will help as you search.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Would it be more convincing if I said my camera was on my desk and under it was a messy pile of who-knows-what involving papers and books and the occasional gift bag? 😉

      But according to my husband Mr. Neatnik, leaving my camera on my desk is always a bad decision.

      Hey, thanks for the help on the reading list — I totally forgot I had done it that way!

  • Reply Jen Snow January 22, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Oh. my. So much goodness here. A new podcast and my very dear friend Dawn writing in this space? Yes, please!

    • Reply Dawn January 22, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Thanks, sweet friend.

      I have to admit that I was just scrolling through this post in my inbox on my phone while drinking from my water bottle, and when I made it down to Take 6 I choked a wee bit. *BLUSH*

      Thanks for the warm welcome, Brandy. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to hearing from all of your regular readers regarding the direction they’d like my future posts to take.

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