DST February 2014 Blog Train

By Marisa Lerin Sat, 02/01/2014 - 00:04

See the full list of participants here.

Click on the image to download. Link will expire after February 28, 2014.
DST February 2014 Blog Train by Marisa Lerin


Getting Life's To-dos Organized

By Marisa Lerin Wed, 01/29/2014 - 15:33

EDIT: Contest closed. See winners here.

Trying to keep track of everything on my to-do list can be a challenge. Particularly when you consider all the things, from all the different parts of life times all the time into the future you're thinking about. The task is daunting enough that I've generally just given up trying to get it organized. However, recently a few ideas have come together, and I'm hoping to share a few little tidbits that will be helpful to you.

My first tip is to check out the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. I can only admit to skimming through this, and having Jordan explain various bits that he read. But the afternoon I used looking it over, was time well spent. The system he describes in the book required a decent amount of translation to be useful in my life. The book has not been updated for current available technologies, nor for people with paperless lifestyles, and the main problem I have is trying to organize thoughts and things that don't exist in a paper world. But the book was enough of a catalyst to get me on the right track for getting on top of my to-do lists.

What I gleaned from the book is that there are two important areas of stuff, one is actions that can be completed, and the other is resources that you need to accomplish these tasks. This was a helpful distinction for me, as I think a lot of my earlier problems came from trying to keep the two together. Once I separated these two areas, getting everything into its proper place was a lot easier.

One of the main ideas in Allen's book is getting EVERYTHING onto the actions list that needs to be done; one master list with everything you're trying to remember. If you get the system working, it's supposed to lead to peace of mind, since you don't have to keep your mind on the 10 things your juggling, just what you're working on at the moment.

The question then came to what programs to use to keep track of these ideas and lists. I've talked about Evernote before, and it became clear that it was a good program to keep track of my resources. For keeping track of actions, I settled on using Todoist. I'd used Todoist in the past, but due to my helter skelter habits it wasn't much use. But now, with an actual system in place, I'm finding it somewhat indispensable to my daily routine and productivity.

I love Todoist because I can use it as both a to-do list and a calender. Scheduling tasks is very intuitive (it often seems like it's reading your mind). You can schedule tasks for "every Mon, Wed, Fri" just by typing that into the date area. The task will then reappear every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I even have some tasks set to repeat every day. In fact, it's the only thing that's actually gotten me to take a daily vitamin, which I've been trying to get into my daily habit for six months now.

And never underestimate the satisfaction of ticking things off the to-do. Todoist even tracks what you've accomplished, so you can look back over your progress for the answer to that nagging question: "what did I actually get done today?"


Todoist has just released a new feature which allows you to share projects with other people. Jordan and I have just started using this feature, and we're finding it very helpful. We no longer have to interrupt the other for some small task, just add it to the list and they'll see it when they have a moment. We're even considering putting the grocery list in Todoist.

My new organization system is still in the works, so I don't have too many other details for you. Perhaps once I get things a little more cemented I'll share some specifics. If you have particular questions, leave them below so I can consider them for a future post.

Also, when I started thinking about writing this post, I contacted Todoist to see if we could do a little giveaway (some of the features I mentioned above are only available with a premium account). So leave a comment below and I'll pick 3 random people to win a free year of Todoist Premium. In the meantime, check out the free version at todoist.com, then we can all be organized together! (Contest will close on Feb 6, 2014).

La Vida Mágica: Christmas in Mexico

By Marisa Lerin Tue, 01/28/2014 - 13:31

Over the Christmas holiday we were lucky enough to spend a couple weeks in Mexico with my parents. It was a fun and relaxing time, if a littler colder and rainier than we were expecting (January in Oregon has been a weather improvement, I have to confess). But we did see some sun, and the little town where my parents live is exceptionally cute.

As this blog tends more towards being random than anything else, you may not be aware that my parents have been working for international schools for the past 15 years. Thus they can be blamed (almost entirely I think) for my excessive traveling.


My parents live in a small town called Santiago, about 20 minutes outside of Monterrey.


A view of Santiago, labeled a pueblo mágico (magical town) by the Mexican government.


The town square was all decorated for Christmas, complete with a little Christmas town.

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Cobblestone streets, brightly painted buildings
and a backdrop of mountains do indeed create magical surroundings.

So delicious

Yes, the food was delicious.

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Don Quixote

Tea in the garden

Tea in the garden with 2 special guests.

Philosophizing by the lake

A thoughtful and sunny breakfast by the lake.



What a wonderful trip!


New Bundle: Chinese New Year

By Marisa Lerin Mon, 01/27/2014 - 09:34

A super fun bundle this week to celebrate Chinese New Year! I am somewhat in love with the little animal faces I drew for this bundle, and crossing my fingers I got all the Chinese right (copy-pasted from Wikipedia...) I am quite keen to use this bundle for some personal scrapping, but it's so far back in the archives I don't know when I'll get around to it...I actually graduated from high school in Hong Kong, and my family continued to live there while I was in college, so I visited often. Lots of old photos to scrap...

HK 11

Chinese New Year Bundle

And some wonderful inspiration from the creative team!

CT Layout

New Resolutions by Cintia

CT Layout

Hey, Look! by Elif

CT Layout

Panda by Shellby

CT Layout

China Folk Village by Day by Sharon-Dewi

CT Layout

China Folk Village by Night by Sharon-Dewi

CT Layout

Adventure by Nadia Slegers

Throw Back Thursday: Jerusalem

By Marisa Lerin Thu, 01/23/2014 - 09:25

Today's photo goes back two years to the week Jordan and I spent traveling around Jerusalem with a college class led by Jordan's father. It was a wonderful, if slightly intense trip.


You can read more about my trip here.