Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Home + Life Designer - My Journey

Designing Life - Home + Life Designer

I graduated in 2005 with my BA in Interior Design and I have made many realizations about my own path in this market since that time.  Interior Design is a very broad subject raging from commercial interiors to stage design to visual merchandising and, finally, to residential home design.  As you can see, being an interior designer offers you many opportunities and many choices.

Opportunities to Learn

Since graduating, I have worked at a high end residential design firm in Williamsburg, VA and with JC Penney's custom decorating department.  Both were amazing opportunities, but I learned a lot about what I did not want to do.  I did not want to help wealthy, hurting women cover up their internal struggles by spending money on a perfect interior for their home.  I did not want to take advantage of their pain in order to make money.  In fact, I realized that I wanted to embrace them and to help them get to the bottom of what they were dealing with in life.  A pretty home was no replacement for a fulfilling life.

While designing custom draperies at JCP, I learned that we have the opportunity to add beautiful things to our home that will benefit our life.  Draperies are not just a frill.  They really add texture to the home and help us to enjoy our living space.  However, I also learned that I did not want to focus solely on draperies, but help people to design their living space and their life.

After having these two "professional" jobs, I have realized that I wanted to have the opportunity to make my own rules.  I started Designing Life in order to help clients who were real people to achieve real goals for their home and life.

Designing Life

I began Designing Life when I needed to work from home.  I began to sell Custom Interior Design PDF Presentations that helped my clients visualize their goals for their interiors.  I would also send them a shopping list to find the items that I had suggested for their space.  While this was a fantastic endeavor, I became overburdened by women who told me what they wanted, then realized after they received their design that their request wasn't what they really wanted.

Why didn't women know what they really wanted?  Because they were seeking to please others and were not at peace with their lives.  A pretty interior cannot fix a heart problem.

After having more time to spend out of the home, I was able to reach out to women in their homes.  My business took me to military spouses, teachers, and other real women who needed practical home decorating and organizational advice.  I loved helping in this capacity.  Military spouses desire to feel at home in their various new homes and I enjoyed being a resource to help them get settled in and find a few key pieces that would travel with them to recreate 'home' wherever they traveled.

Home + Life Designer

While I will definitely continue home design and organizing, I have realized that our lives need designers too.  I am expanding my business to be a resource to women and families who need help organizing their lives, their schedules, their meal plans, their marriage, and even their parenting.  God does not intend for us to struggle alone without help.  He gives us resources and tools that help us to live life effectively for His kingdom.

My goal?  To bring glory to God by helping women and families to order their steps, lives, and homes in God's Word

I've felt that Psalm 119:133 is a verse that describes my desire for my own life and I desire to share that vision with others.  "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me."  Or in layman's terms, setting our path intentionally toward God's kingdom and purposefully planning to keep out of the clutches of sin aka using God's gift of self-control to live our lives.  This verse is a prayer to God and God has given us His gifts as an answer to that prayer.

If you need help ordering your life to God's word . . . a home + life designer, contact me.  I would love to work together as you pursue Christ with your heart, life, and home.

Brooke Shambley

Owner of Designing Life

P.S.  Did you know I have two businesses?  As an extension of my desire to help women, more specifically mothers, in their everyday lives, I am also a health coach + doula.  You can find out more about this business over at Boholistic Mom.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Organized in 40 Weeks: Kitchen Clutter

I decided to follow Lisa Woodruff's Organize 365 Whole House Challenge.  This week she is encouraging those following the challenge to clean up "kitchen paper."  Since I am both a challenge follower, organizer, and a blogger, I felt like elaborating!  What does kitchen paper mean to me and to you?

Organizing Kitchen Paper Clutter

First of all, your kitchen clutter may not be her kitchen clutter.  She encourages families to maintain a command central in the kitchen.  This means all of the paper entering your house would go to your kitchen command center.  This also means that when she tells you to tackle your kitchen papers, she is telling you to go to the place where your paper gathers and to start there.

Where does your paper collect?Do you have a family command central for paper, bills, and calendars?

My paper used to gather in the kitchen, then it would begin to gather on my dining room table, then it would begin to gather on my desk, and it might even have gathered into my living room.  What a mess, right?  We let papers collect and gain control of our homes.  Enough is enough.

This is why Lisa Woodruff suggests picking the kitchen as your paper station.  If your kitchen is large enough to keep a family command center to house the bills, papers, coupons, advertisements, and to do list components, then set apart a portion of your kitchen for this use.  If your kitchen is too small, then you may consider having an entry way table committed to this use or a family desk for a command center.

Decide where the papers of your home will be met head on and organized.

The "Saturday" Basket

Alright, so Lisa calls her basket a "Sunday" basket, but I choose to do my organizing on Saturday.  Therefore, my basket is called the Saturday basket.  What is a Saturday basket, you might ask?  It is your incoming paper zone.  Everything that you need to address at some point will come into your house and into this basket.  Immediate mail needs will be taken care of immediately.  The basket will be gone through once a week, you pick the day.

On Saturday, I grab my basket and I begin to go through the mail, advertisements, coupons, new store rewards cards.  I'll tell you what to do with those items in just a second.

First Step for First Timers

If you do not have a ground zero aka family command central, you can still get started on this part of the 40 week project.  Lisa suggests putting all of your papers into one big laundry basket.  Pull it all together in one place, then conquer it.

Here are my suggestions for sorting through the laundry basket of papers:

Take one blank piece of paper.
Write your priorities down from top to bottom.
My list is something like this:

  1. God
  2. Personal Health
  3. Husband
  4. Child
  5. Home
  6. Family and Friends
  7. Work
  8. Ministry
  9. Hobbies
This is how I file my working (current) papers.
I make hanging folders labeled with my priorities.
I make folders inside of each hanging folder with subset categories.
Under Home I have a folder labeled house cleaning, one labeled menu planning, and one labelled home organization
You can then group your papers into these categories.  If the piece of paper doesn't belong in any of your priority categories, then it probably doesn't need to be in your active life.  You can make a separate pile of papers that need to be filed in permanent storage.

Master To Do List

As you begin to group your papers, grab a notebook or legal pad.  Think about it, you kept these papers for a reason, but has that reason ever been met?  You need to add papers to your to do list.  You may have kept the Shakespearean play calendar, because you really wanted to go to a play.  Add it to the to do list under "husband" for a date night.  Maybe you kept a set of coupons and have been meaning to use them.  Add it to your home to do list and to your menu planner.

Your master to do list can be a very amazing resource.  However, be realistic.  This is not your life on paper.  This is what might happen in an ideal world.  Take a breath and you will weekly make a plausible to do list.  Lisa intends to get three home items done a day and three work items done a day.  In her life she realized she can realistically do no more.  In my life, I can realistically get one item done a day.  GREAT!  Then at least I'm closer to my own goals for an organized life and doing the things on my to do list that I put on that list.

The Clip

Lisa at Organize 365 also talks about her "one" clip that she uses to keep coupons, kid's papers, outgoing mail, etc. in line on her refrigerator.  I just bought my clips recently and since we are a homeschool family, I don't seem to be using it for kid's papers yet.  I'll have to see how they get used in the future.

The Gist

I mentioned in my last post (which was about 6 months ago) that you will have temporary files, working (current) files, and permanent files.
  • The Temporary Files go in your Saturday Basket.
  • The Working Files are filed in an easily accessed file tote.
  • The Permanent Files are kept in a filing cabinet or set of plastic filing bins.
All your temporary files will become a part of your to do list and become a part of your working files, be thrown away, or will be filed in your permanent files.

Any questions?  I'd be happy to answer questions and you can also join Lisa Woodruff's Organize 365 Facebook group page listed on her website.  Enjoy!!!


Owner and Designer of Designing Life Etsy Shop
and Designing Life Local

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Cleaning Series: Day 2 - Taming the Paper Monster

Getting Household Papers Organized

Today, I shifted my attention from my kitchen to my living room. My living room is the space in which we spend most of our day . . . when we aren't cooking or eating. Our television, computer, desks, bookshelves, video games, and one wonderfully ancient denim sofa are in our living room. We also enter our home into our living room.

Before I could do anything with the room, I had to start with the papers.... I had papers collecting on top of my printer, papers on my desk, papers on my computer desk, papers on the coffee table . . . papers pretty much everywhere. They were about to form a paper monster and eat me alive. They had to be conquered.

The Paper Monster
I figured out that I was dealing with my own paper monster.
Neat Paper Monster
While I love checking out Neat's amazing paper scanners, I have a lot of papers that I want to keep on hand.  I have a set of working files, but not all of the working files were working.  Here is how you can separate your files into three groups.
Permanent Files
Working Files
Weekly Files
Permanent Files
The Permanent Files are in my filing cabinet upstairs.  Our finances are filed according to Ric Edelman's guide.  I have the rest according to what our papers can be grouped into easily.  Each person/couple will have a different set of file labels.  I have a home business, others will have files on their careers.  I have a file for homeschool records, many others will have a file for each year of school their child goes through.  Your permanent files are files that you need to have, but do not need to access frequently.  Perhaps once a year or less.
Working Files
Working Files are files that you need to access more frequently.  They may pertain to a project that you are working on.  Bills that need to be paid monthly.  You might keep your address book pages in this box/cabinet.  You want them nearby, but you don't need to get at them all the time.  These should be labeled clearly and have useable information inside.  If you have your bills inside, you need to include a printable tracker that helps you to know when your bills need to be paid and where you can record when you paid the bill.  If you have yearly goals, you may want to keep a file on your goals and review them monthly to stay on track.  Working files need to be workable.
Weekly Files
Weekly Files are those files that you will access every week and contain papers that you will use continually.  You need these papers filed and labeled so that you are able to wrap your mind around your tasks.  Without Weekly Files you accumulate papers and add more papers to the papers that are out . . . "because you are working on them."  Even papers that are a part of weekly planning need a job.
This is where my "Working Files" were failing.  I had my Permanent Files and Working Files, but I didn't have Weekly Files.  I just made a pile of all the papers that I was currently working on.  Then I added more papers to my pile that still needed to be worked on, then more papers on top of that, until I forgot what was underneath the pile.  I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear due to this paper monster.  Let me explain . . .

The Fear of 'Things Left Undone'
"The papers in my house began to scare me.  However, I have come to realize that it isn't the need to organize the papers that evokes my panic, but the fear that I might discover things left undone, items on my to do list that I never finished, or even worse, people that I've disappointed by not following through.

As I go through my papers and remember tasks that became forgotten, I have to give myself grace. I don't remember every task every time. I don't follow through with everything that I commit to with the best intentions. I will hope to do better next time, but today . . . I just really need these papers to get organized."
Have you discovered box file folders?  They hold more files helping you organize.

Taming the Paper Monster

I have all of my files separated out, filed, and for the most part put away.  I've made a huge step in taming my paper monster.  I still need to go through my labels, add a few more files (such as one for to do lists), but I have a great start.  Organization doesn't really have an end.  You keep organizing and reorganizing your life because life never stops changing and we never stop growing.  Take a look through your papers and see if you can't figure out a better system of paper control for your home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Cleaning Series: Day 1 - Conquering the Kitchen

Organizing the Kitchen

When I begin my Fall Cleaning, I normally start in the room that is impacting my life the most.  I exist in the kitchen during the Fall and Winter.  I cook all of the time and I prepare broths (visit Boholistic Mom for more details on broths).  My husband loves to bake and enjoys preparing food in the kitchen.  This is an important room.
Thus when I considered starting a Fall Cleaning Series on my Blog and cleaning my own home, I'm starting in the kitchen.  If this room is not your greatest need, feel free to start elsewhere and come back to this post.

Tips for Conquering the Kitchen

1 - Have Supplies
You need the tools of the trade.  You want to have what you need to really get the entire kitchen clean.  Keep these handy tools on hand:
Apple Cider Vinegar (some of the white vinegars have petroleum added)
Baby Bottle Brush (for long glasses and vases)   
Dust Pan   
2 - Be Systematic

You can't piddle about kitchen cleaning.  If you do a little here and a little there, you'll never keep on track.  You have to have a plan and stick with it.  My favorite method is going from the top of the kitchen to the bottom of the kitchen cleaning and organizing.  This keeps me on task and helps me complete the entire kitchen rather than just parts.
If you need a plan, check out the Kitchen Cleaning Checklist on my Etsy Shop:
Kitchen Cleaning Checklist | Designing Life
3 - Work Isn't Bad
If you really want to get your Fall Cleaning done, you have got to stop thinking of cleaning/organizing as bad.  It's a part of life that has to be done repeatedly.  When we consider cleaning and organizing as something to be avoided at all costs, we hinder our progress and even more so . . . we never begin.  Keep a positive attitude when you take on a cleaning project.  This is your project and you want to see the fruit of your labors.

4 - Avoid Choking
Personally, I get winded and can't continue when I use conventional cleaning progress.  If I pull out the bleach and the degreaser and the mopping solution or whatever other product that companies have created, I choke and I stop cleaning.  I get dizzy!

Let me propose something to you . . . you don't need ANY of those products for cleaning your kitchen.  The companies created these products to "make cleaning easier" and to "disinfect every germ," but really . . . they just want you to pay them $3 or more a pop to buy something that you don't really need.  Vinegar is a GREAT cleaning product.  It disinfects.  It degreases sufficiently.  In the absence of vinegar, I've even used water to clean my stovetop.  Water and some elbow grease.  Remember, work isn't bad!!!

My other favorite product is Young Living's Thieves Household Cleaner.  I use it to clean my trash cans, the stove top, my dining room table, and my counters.  It smells fantastic and it doesn't choke me!  Keep breathing and cleaning by using non-toxic cleaning products and save some money at the same time.

(Note: I do sell Young Living, so if you buy it I will benefit from your purchase.  Thanks for supporting my blog!  My YL # is 1620234)

5 - Persevere

If you don't have time to complete the entire kitchen in one day, then plan to devote more time the next day to finish your project.  It's easy to devote a day and then say, "that was my day, all done!" whether or not the project is truly done.  Make a day of it . . . then make another.  You won't regret having a spotless and organized kitchen that encourages you to feed your family and smile doing it.
Happy cleaning!!!


Designer/Organizer/Essential Oil Lover/Crunchy Mom

Boholistic Mom on Facebook


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dry All Night Printable

I heard about the book Dry All Night: The Picture Book Technique That Stops Bedwetting by Alison Mack last month.  We, like most families, have had trouble with figuring how to help our child figure out how to stop peeing in the bed at night.  Honestly, no one talks about it.

I had my son in cloth diapers from newborn until three years old, but all of the sudden the cloth diapers weren't enough.  The soakers weren't enough.  Nothing was enough.  I had done my motherly service by keeping the chemical laden diapers from my toddler's tushy and all of the sudden I'm forced to put him into pull ups.  Either that or let him wet the bed.  Every night.  Sheets to launder every day.  Are those really choices?

Honestly, I wish they had a younger version of this book.  Dry All Night is great, but younger children of age 4 and 5 haven't developed a sense of shame over wetting the bed unless a parent has shamed them.  The book has the little girl acting ashamed about her peeing in bed.  At 6 or 7 when they are in school, they start to think they are the only ones and are ashamed to have this 'bad habit.'  The book is more for children around 6 or 7.  Still, it's extremely helpful regardless for the technique and visualization exercises.

Maybe I'll write my own e-book soon for children who are younger and need help thinking through how to control their bladder muscle.

Since Dry All Night was written in 1989 there are no current resources for this book.  There is a chart in the book, but, honestly, it's a little boring.  I googled "Dry All Night SCOREBOARD" to see if I could find a copy of the chart in the book, but it isn't online.  So I designed a new one with a splash of color.  If you happen to have sought out this book in a desperate attempt to help your child to gain control of their bladder muscle . . . I hope this is a huge help to you.

The above graphic is just the jpeg file:
Click here to download the boy's version in green.
Click here to download the girl's version in green and pink.

Please remember that this is my design of the chart in the book and as such you need to link back to my blog in order to share the file ethically.  Thank you for remembering this.
Also, if you love this printable and found it useful, please check out my Etsy Shop full of other useful and stylish printables.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Top 10 Real Foodie Mother's Day Gift List

As a real food mom, I thought I'd put together a Top 10 Real Food Mother's Day Gift List.  What types of things does a real food mom want?  Definitely NOT store bought Wilton Chocolates!  Probably not a bouquet of flowers that will wilt in a day that come with a packet of chemicals to prolong the life of the already dying flowers.  Also, candy won't make a nice gift for a real foodie because they are loaded with artificial coloring and refined sugars.  So let's look at some awesome ideas for the Real Food Moms of the world!

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my blog with your shopping!

10. Wholesome Sweeteners: Sucanat

I know it's not healthy to eat sugar all the time, even real sugar. However, on those occasions that I am fixing my mother's holiday recipes or simply needing a teaspoon of sugar for my coffee, Sucanat does the trick.  As a real foodie, I'd be happy beyond belief for a pack of Organic Sucanat to replace my Demerara sugar!


9. Organic Raw Unprocessed Coconut Oil

Everytime I go to the store, I buy another container of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil.  I use the product for so many things!  I use it to wash my face, to moisturize, to remove my makeup, and it also is a great oil for Indian dishes.  In addition, I take the coconut oil as a supplement to curb my craving for fatty foods and extra calories.

8. CSA or Co-Op Subscription to a Local Farm (

If I were in the states (which currently I'm not), I would go crazy for a subscription to a local farm for fresh produce, milk, and eggs.  I honestly can't imagine anything so healthy and perfect than being able to pick up the freshest fruits and veggies and cook wonderful meals for my family!  Any real foodie mom would be lucky to get a CSA subscription for a Mother's Day gift.

7. Nourishing Traditions

Whether the mother in your life is longtime food enthusiast or just exploring the world of real food, if she does not own Nourishing Traditions then this will be the perfect gift!  Not only does it have tons of recipes for fixing traditional real food meals, it also is chock full of information regarding why the traditional meals are so healthy.


6. A Kick Butt Stockpot (Le Creuset)

As a real food mom, I make broths and stews and other amazing dishes using my stock pot.  I couldn't live without it.  However, I could live with a larger one!  Buying a real food mother in your life a stock pot for Mother's Day will not only make her year, but it will also make some wonderful meals.


5.  Cast Iron Skillet (Lodge)

My husband was the one who first introduced me to the cast iron skillet.  I thought he was mad.  The monstrosity is so heavy and you don't even wash it!  Fortunately, his southern heritage was a gem (in disguise) and I've come to love my cast iron skillet.  Not only is it beneficial because it develops wonderful sexy arms, but it is a great replacement for the not so safe non-stick skillets.  For the real food enthusiast, this would be a great gift to aid her pursuit of traditional foods!

4.  Ball Jars with Lids

When you are cooking up outstanding foods, it's nice to have a good place to store them!  I love my Ball jars and use them all the time.  In fact, I need more of them.  I want them in every size.  I want every lid style.  I want labels.  If your real food lady is making broths and stews, she would probably jump for joy to have a set of Ball jars in any and every size.  I'm especially partial to the Heritage Collection with the beautiful hint of blue!

3. Herbs (seeds or plants)

I love herbs.  I use them in my cooking.  I make teas with them.  I add them to my natural beauty products.  Herbs rock!  If your real foodie hasn't yet explored the world of herb gardens, get her started with an organic herb kit or buy her some plants at your local farmer's market.  This option is much better than cut flowers!


2. Fermenting Dreams (The Art of Fermentation)

Want to grow something altogether new together?  Ferment!  The book, The Art of Fermentation, is a great way to get started making kefir, cheeses, sourdoughs, and even sauerkraut.  If the real food mother in your life is serious about real food, then she will really like this book!

1. Send Her Packing

Find a conference, class, or a bed and breakfast to send her to for a little Real Food R&R.  A conference will be full of helpful information, a class might teach her to make new foods or about how to keep strong with her choice to eat real foods, and a bed and breakfast will provide her with real food while she rests.  All three are excellent choices!

Bed & Breakfast
I hope you can make good use of this Real Foodie Mother's Day Gift List!  Enjoy!

Owner and Designer of Designing Life
P.S.  Do you know of any other conferences, classes, or Bed & Breakfasts that specialize in real food?  I'd love to know!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Simplify: Money Doesn't Talk

You've all heard the saying that "money talks," but have you ever considered what that particular point of view holds for those who accept it?  For Simplifying Life with Designing Life, we will be discussing why money doesn't talk for a simplified life.  I hope you enjoy the discussion that my son and I had (see the graphic below) that inspired my continued thoughts on the subject:

Why Doesn't Money Talk

Literally, money doesn't talk or have a voice.  Figuratively, we say that money talks because if you hold a $100 bill up to a waiter who has just told you that there are no more seats available . . . somehow he manages to find that a table just became available.  Did the money speak?  No.  In fact, the person holding the bill is communicating loud and clear.  Is this person saying, "Check this out, I'm the nicest person in the world and I'm going to make your day and give you this $100 bill"?  Or is this person saying, "I'm in a hurry, I don't really care that there are no seats currently available.  Allow me to provide some incentive in order to get what I want NOW"?  Money doesn't talk, but when people use money to communicate in this way they certainly aren't making any friends.  Money doesn't talk . . . people do.

What Do You Use Your Money to Say?

In simplifying your life, consider using your money to say what you mean to say.  Most people don't throw a hundred dollars at their waiter, but someone might spend $500 for an extra (meaning having more than one) television for their home.  If you are attempting to simply your life, adding an extra television set probably won't give you more time or a simple life. 
What are you using your money to say?
What is important to you and your life?

How Can You Use Money to Simplify?

I honestly don't think it's wrong to use money to task things out in life and to use money on important things in life.  If you believe your family is most important, but you spend all your time working on a small business decide if it's worth hiring a new person on to help.  If you feel that it is important to develop friendships, then spend some money taking them out to eat, preparing elaborate meals at home, or organizing outings for your group of friends.  If you have extra money as a stay-at-home mom, maybe you can hire a cook, house cleaner, or lawn maintenance personnel in order to give you more time to spend on your children, on a break (in order to feel up to spending more time on your family), or on other things about the house.  However, please don't confuse a simple life with laziness.  Money is a great tool to allow you to have more time to spend on the important things in life . . . but it isn't very important to watch television all day, spend the day on the computer, or spend every day in pajamas.  With simplifying life, some days are for relaxation, but it's about focusing on what's important and dedicating your time to that thing.

Relationships vs Money

I notice that our American attitude is "accumulate," "attain more," and "make more money," while in regards to friends our attitude is "friends will wait," "someday," and "when I have the time."  I'm not sure about you, but that doesn't make any sense!  Relationships are a high priority in my life and money, while necessary, doesn't make the world go around.  I wonder what things in our life that we insist that we "need" are things that are absolute necessities.  When you consider someone who has "no" money and you see them walking around with designer jeans and an iPhone, it's easy to see that if we want something badly enough we find the money.  If I had to chose, would I let go of my subscriptions, my iPhone, my computer access, using my dryer, being super warm and toasty (rather than putting on a jacket in the winter), in order to have money to spend on relationships? 

What comes first in life?
What really matters, fake relationships on Facebook or real relationships forged in flesh and blood as well as tears and triumphs?

I hope this has helped you to think through an area that is fantastic to consider as you simply your life.  Thank you for tuning in . . . or well, clicking in for this simplify post!

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