Simple living series - Organising your information

12 February 2010
It's like studying for a degree all over again.  All the subjects are there, we search each other's blogs for pieces of unusual and valuable information, we collect recipes to add to our armoury of healthy meals, we teach and learn from each other, we rip out old magazine articles, have catalogues sent to us, draw maps of borders and gardens, and save conversion charts for temperatures and measurement.  So how do we organise it.  Just how do you make this mingle-mangle of torn edges, handwritten papers and professional printed material into an easy to use and tidy resource.  Enter the homemaker's almanac  I used to call this my homemaker's journal, but I realised it's more than that.  I review it each year and update with the coming year's calendar and information, so it's more an almanac than a journal.  Whatever it's called though, it's a must have.
I realised very early on my journey to a simpler life that what I wanted to know was not in any one book and that part of what I had to do was to actively search for material that would teach me what I needed to know and motivate me towards life-long learning. It didn't take long to see that cutting out bits and pieces, downloading from the internet and handwriting notes and recipes created the kind of mess I'd already left behind.
So I got myself an old binder with plastic sleeves and started loading it up with my mad collection of information.  It's not necessary for it to be fancy or new, use what you already have.  I'm still using that folder to this day and it's been a resource that's saved me time and time again.  Gone are the days when I'd write a unique and treasured recipe on a slip of paper, only to lose it.  Now they're all tucked away in their own section of my almanac. A book such as this, with recipes for all your homemade cleaners and soaps is important for everyone but especially so for parents of your children.  If you happen to have the terrible circumstance of one of your little ones swallowing something you've made, you'll have all your recipes in the one spot.  Grab your folder as you go and show the recipe to the doctor.  It's a much better option than having to waste valuable time looking for your recipe, or worse still, saying you don't remember what you put in the concoction.
In addition to your cleaning recipes and food recipes, you could also store your menu plans that are not currently being used and stuck on the fridge.  It can hold the instructions for craft projects and patterns for dresses, skirts. nightdresses and cardigans.  It can hold your lists of birthdays, important dates and school functions, your weekly or monthly planner, price lists, coupons and vouchers, your water and electricity meter readings.

If you're serious about your life change, mark it by storing all your information in one place.  Add to your almanac frequently, update it every year, compost old papers and add new ones.  That way you'll stay up to date, have your information in one place and the mere act of making an almanac and working with it, will indicate to you and others that you live a unique life.

Thank you for your visits this week, it's been another busy one for me, and probably for most of you too.  Next week in our simple living series, we'll move outside to the garden.  Spring is moving closer for many of my northern hemisphere friends, and Hanno and I are almost ready to start building our new season garden.  The chooks have done a wonderful job for us weeding, eating insect eggs and grasshoppers and turning compost.  Soon it will be our turn to work the garden.  I'm looking froward to it, and to the cooler weather.

I'll be featuring two readers' kitchens on the weekend.  I'm not accepting new photos until I have used all those already sent in.  I'll let you know when I need a new batch, I think it will be the end of the month.  Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you enjoy it.    ♥


  1. Wonderful post Rhondajean. I have started my own home journal and will add some ideas from yours. Blessings for a great weekend.

  2. I love this! I am going to start putting one of these together right away - such a good idea.

    I found your blog a few weeks ago and have been devouring all the info and inspiration here. Living simply is something that has become very important to me as a single mother and your site is such an inspiration - thank you!

  3. A journal is a wonderful way to keep up with all of those pieces of paper that we know we will need some day. It is very frustrating to "know" that you have a recipe or some other info. that you need but not be able to find it (I've done that more than I care to admit!) Just this year I began a new Kitchen Journal and one for the garden. After a few years, I've decided that I need to divide my one notebook into a couple of more manageable ones.
    Thanks for all you do to help us make living simple more simple!
    I'll be looking forward to the garden series :) .

  4. FOr those of oyu addicted to digital storage I highly recommend a program called evernote - the basic version is free. You can use it to 'clip' recipes, ideas, blog posts into various 'notebooks' which you can store / print - oh and it has online storage too which can act as a backup / means you can access from anywhere. No I don't work for them I just love the program!! Has really cut down on all those random bookmarks in my browser that I made to try and remember the useful info I'd seen

  5. Having a Home Journal would definitely be a lot better than the stack on envelopes I am using now!I can never find something when I want to!!
    This is a good project to start right now as I finally got all my paper "clutter" in one spot!! LOL
    Good weekend to all! Darlene

  6. Thanks for your great ideas - I really needed this reminder!!! I've got print outs of recipes in piles all over the kitchen, waiting to go into folders... I even lose my own recipes and have to go on my own blog to remember how I made them! I think tomorrow will be an organizing day! :)

  7. Sometimes the simple ideas are the best....and this is one of those. I will start putting mine together and I'll never loose a thing again...Thanks for another wonderful post.

  8. What a treasure trove of information. Very inspiring idea. This is my year to get organized so I'll add this idea to my list. I already have a recipe binder(although it needs updating) but I like this idea for all the other bits and pieces I always have fluttering around.

  9. I've recently started to keep my weekly menu plans on my iPhone, as well as my shopping lists for the various places I shop. It's not quite the same as a physical folder, but it means I can easily refer back to past menus, and hopefully once I've done it for a year I can refer back to similar times the previous year if I'm stuck for ideas! The app has the capability to also store photos, websites and audio notes, so once I work out how to use it properly, it really could become my almanac!

    Anna x

  10. I love your binder. I am going to "borrow" some of the ideas to use in my own.

    I just started one a few days ago. I've been sick in bed with nothing else to do. My binder is a household management one since I have a sick mom. I need to have information of nurses that come in to care for my mom.

    When I feel better I'll post a binder tour on my blog.

  11. I know you've looked at my Home Management Binder, but I really like the fabric that you've put on the outside. It's beautiful!! :) I really couldn't function with out mine.
    I was hoping that you'd be taking more pictures soon. We're moving to a new home the end of this month and I wanted to show (off) my new kitchen!
    Great post (as always)RhondaJean.
    Have a wonderful day! :o)

  12. I'm just starting to get all my info organised, so thanks Rhonda. For my recipe's tho, I keep them in a cheap photo album that I re-cover and re-write the recipe's on cards. That way I can easily wipe off any spills. I try and go thru and update it as often as possible. I've also made one for my 2 sons when they left home, with favourite recipes from Mum.
    Looks like being a busy weekend, sorting and filing.
    Cheers, Faye.

  13. Just going to add that it's useful to have a front page with emergency numbers on, such as Poisons Information, local police, State Emergency Service, plus your Medicare numbers etc. I have fridge magnets for these, bcause I don't have a binder: most of my stuff is online.

    It's important to remember to organise your online material, however!

  14. Thanks, Rhonda, for an encouraging and practical post. I myself have started a home journal already, but will also utilise your idea of the folder and plastic sleeves, for extra categories, etc. I feel very strongly about the need for external organisation, as I feel internally chaotic when my environment is not ordered.
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  15. Oh! I just did this the other day for all my recipes, I may extend it's use for other areas of home life now I have read this.

    I find it so very useful. I get a meat box once a month and never know what cuts of meat i will find in there, sometimes it will be something i've never cooked before or am not sure how best to prepare. Now I have a plastic sleeve for each type of meat (chicken, pork, beef, etc) and keep the recipes i've found for different cuts in there so i don't need to hunt through mounds of paper wondering if i have a suitable recipe or not.

  16. I put any downloaded and printed recipes in plastic sleeves in a BIG 3 ring binder. It is one with a place to slip pictures, etc., into the cover and I do that. I usually slip a picture from my computer files into it...and have so many recipes I have been creating indexed tabs, and it is my own personalized cookbook, well used! If there is a recipe we decide doesn't work for us we toss it into the shredder. Very easy to locate the recipes then, and just pop them out of the binder for use.I also write in and around the recipe any comments about what I like or don't like about the recipe, etc.,

    I am enjoying your blog, thank-you.

  17. This is a wonderful post, as I too would be lost without my recipe and home needs binder. I refer to them often and love having everything in one spot. Sometimes I add in dream places that I would like to travel to, colors that warm me, things that I would like to make, etc. It's a good place to go to when my creative mind wants to work. Thanks for all you do, Rhondajean. You are such a blessing!

  18. This is something I really should do. Make a home journal. My sewing and crafting, cooking and baking, household financial papers are already sorted in their own spots.

    Now that I am wanting to get more involved in my journey I really do need a place to sort all the other topics. Garden planning and yearly journal, household cleaners and soaps, info on laying hens, my actual meal plan, and everything else that involves my journey to a simpler way of living.

    Thankyou again for sharing your wisdom. ---Krystal

  19. Good idea! I have a recipe binder, but could maybe do with extending it a little.

  20. I found this idea on your blog a few months ago and started mine, which I'm still filling...I use it all the time; mine has a section for my monthly menu with the eventual recipes (and this way I can make up my shoppinglist too) one for phonenumbers of friends of the kids and neighbours, one for recipes (and their are a lot I found on your blog) , one for weights and mesurement converters, one for birthdays and presentideas and one for calculating how much I spent and where I spent it...On the cover of the album, I printed out some of the wonderful pictures you have on your blog (the drawings, vintage style) cut them out, glued them on the cover and varnished it...looks great!

  21. Great post Rhonda. I used to have a binder for this purpose, but I've gotten lazy and haven't kept up with it the way I should, so I am back to the papers everywhere, unorganized, and stressing me out. You have inspired me to get things back in order. Thank you!

  22. I have a household binder and would be lost without it!!

  23. For the reader who pulled me up on my spelling of organise, saying I should use a "z". I am Australian and in Australian it is correct to use "s".

  24. This is a great post! I started my home management binder about two years ago and I have used it faithfully. I have small children so several sections in my binder pertain to the children. I have information on their food allergies, daily schedule, lunch menus, etc. I can open the binder for my husband or for a babysitter and they will have the information they need to care for the children. I also have a cleaning section. It holds my regular cleaning lists and schedules. I refer to them when I feel scattered and need some help to get on track with my homemaking. I have added and removed sections as my needs have changed.
    I like to keep my binder handy in my kitchen. I have very little kitchen counter (bench) space so I purchased a cook book holder to hold the binder upright. It takes up very little counter space and I also have it handy.

  25. Smiling at your accurate defence on the spelling of organise! Microsoft is determined to americanise the world ;-) and most of the world isn't even noticing/fighting it!

    Karen (Scotland)
    (where the spelling of words with a 'ze' at the end makes teachers froth at the mouth and turn a funny colour!)

  26. What a great idea! I really have to do this. I have a binder for my business stuff and two clear plastic envelopes for school stuff, but it would be great to compile everything into one big binder, since I have flyaway recipes all over the place.

    In the gardening segment, if you are looking for questions, I'm really curious as to how long a tomato plant will produce if there's no frost. I live in Guatemala and my tomatoes are coming up now and I'm wondering how long they will produce fruit so I can plan to plant the next round so I can continue to harvest without having to wait for the new plants to grow up.

  27. I just found your blog and I love it! Happy to become a follower.


Comments with links or email addresses won't be published. All spam and business advertising will be deleted.

Children read my blog so I always make sure the information here is family-friendly. I don't publish comments containing links or email addresses now because I don't have time to check them.

All comments in English, please. Thank you.