Free Printable: The Thanksgiving Plan

Free Printable: The Thanksgiving Plan

The Thanksgiving Plan Preview

Fail to plan, plan to fail. Sure, it may be a motto for many things but it’s something that should be chanted as we enter the holidays. Especially Thanksgiving. Lists are key, math does play a part in what you serve and careful pre-planning will make your day so much easier.


One year, my mom was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for our immediate family, their family and guests of those who were single. With about 25 people in the house, several of us were running around the kitchen with purpose. The pressure to serve an incredible meal was on. A couple of the guests were the type of women who tend to do everything right in the kitchen. You know those type? They can just “whip up” something and it looks like a magazine feature. Why didn’t we ask them to cook? Hindsight is 20/20.

The final stages of meal prep were coming to a close and my aunt was making gravy… from scratch. She was stirring and stirring, adding more ingredients and then stirring again. The freaking gravy would NOT thicken up. So, as one of the perfect cooks went to her car to grab something (I was praying it was a meal), my aunt tossed the runny gravy down the drain, grabbed a can of pre-made gravy, dumped it into the bowl and started stirring by the time the woman made it back into the kitchen.


We planned ahead.

The gravy was excellent.


  • How many guests are you expecting?
  • Who is bringing what?
  • Do you have the meal planned out?
  • How does your grocery list look?

We’ve created thirteen pages of list-type organization for Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, we said THIRTEEN pages to keep you on track and always one step ahead.

Thanskgiving Plan Worksheets[ddownload id=12000]

It’s all free and it’s ready for download. Go for it!

tawsha connell

5 Ways to Take Control of your Chaos

5 Ways to Take Control of your Chaos

taking control of your chaos | organized CHAOS onlineThis was me. Until about an hour ago.

I was sitting in the same clothes I slept in, my hair was on top of my head (okay, it still is), my house was a mess, I have things to do more than I have time in a day and I was literally frozen in place.

This happens more than I care to admit.

My “thing” when I feel overwhelmed is to look in one direction toward something I need to complete and say, “Okay.” I’ll turn around and see another project and say it again… “Okay.” This will happen about 20 more times and it accomplishes nothing.

Have you ever felt this way?

It seems that September is the month that kicks us into a speed of about 500 miles an hour and it doesn’t stop until January. The chores, holidays, events and activities start coming in a lightning speed and unless you’re on your game, this will send you into a cell with padded walls.

Let’s control our chaos.

But how?

Get up and do something. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Your goal is to look for something that will provide a sense of accomplishment. It has a starting point and an ending point in a short amount of time.


notepadJust start writing. Unload what’s on your mind. This doesn’t have to be in order, all under the same topic or even written well. The goal is to get that clutter out of your head and on paper. You can go back and sort it out later.


shower-organizationWhether it’s your shower, the bottom of your closet, the silverware drawer or the spice cabinet. Tackle a small space that, everytime you go back to it, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Once you get started on your small space, you’ll get the drive to do other things. Tip: Set a timer. Don’t let this take you all day. It’s a small space and should take a small amount of time. If it feels like it’s too in depth, move on to something else. For now, at least.


creating-a-scheduleI’ve been talking to so many people who have all their days filled with sports, activities, club meetings, organization and travel. It gets so nuts. Start jotting it down in a calendar and make a schedule. Once you know when things are happening, your brain will start to sort it out, too. Place your important dates where they belong and back track a week or two and set yourself a reminder that your important date is approaching. This way, you aren’t caught off guard.


laundryAt my house, the laundry is the one thing I never keep up with. It is typically washed and dried but then it’s stacked up on the table in my laundry room neatly folded in half to avoid wrinkles…until my husband or son goes to look for the worlds smallest item within the stack. Then it topples. Taking the time to hang, fold and put away laundry is almost impossible. The funny thing is: Once I do it, I feel so much better. For you… find a chore that is nagging at you. What has a starting point and ending point and will make you feel better once accomplished? Do that thing.


fall-wreathIf the inside is just too much right now, go outside. How about adding a festive wreath or swapping out your summer flowers for something more fall-like (or whatever season you wish)? There’s a definite sense of pride when you drive up to your home and you see colorful flowers and decor. Everything feels so tidy and put together. Just don’t invite anyone in.

Are you rolling your eyes right now? Just like working out, you’ll feel better afterwards.

tawsha connell

Fall Cleaning Checklist

Fall Cleaning Checklist

fall cleaning checklist | organized chaos online

All I can think about is cooler weather, cute sweaters, pulling out those boots, drinking warm drinks and a cozy home. I’m literally sitting in 90 degree heat and can’t wait for it to go away. Ask me how I feel about all this in February and I’ll be begging for the heat.

While dreams of fall are dancing through our heads, we should take advantage of our excitement and get a bit done. You haven’t turned on your fireplace in awhile, your gutters may be all mucked up, your air filters have still been working (even though you may not think much about it) and the inside of your house has started a nice little dust collection in the places you don’t see until company arrives.

Fall preparation includes both indoor and outdoor projects.

Many of the following projects can be completed now or two months from now. Simply download the document at the end of this post, print and place in a visible area so you aren’t too late to complete a project.


  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Spray off house, patio and/or deck.
  • Wash outdoor furniture.
  • Clean grill.
  • Scrub down outdoor play equipment and toys (prep to cover).
  • Drain and store garden hoses.
  • Blow out sprinklers.
  • Trim back and tend to any outdoor plants and bushes (prep to cover).


  • Replace air filters.
  • Clean fireplace and chimney.
  • Check (test) heat/furnace.
  • Clean fans and vents.
  • Clean off any spiderwebs and/or cobwebs.
  • Touch-up paint.
  • Change and replace light bulbs.
  • Clean the oven.
  • Replace batteries on smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.
  • Clean refrigerator (including the coils around back).
  • Rearrange cupboards and drawers to place all baking, crockpot and winter-time cooking supplies near the front.
  • Clean carpets.
  • Flip mattresses.
  • Change the candle or wax scents for the season.
  • Rearrange closets (summertime clothing in the back and cute winter stuff in the front).
  • Clean out toy bins and kids’ play areas. Donate toys.
  • Dust like crazy.
  • Do an all-over deep clean. This includes baseboards, walls, doors, etc.

Shall we start this party early, friends? I, for one, am in. I am so sick of the same dirty places in my house and am ready to get rid of everything. My house just feels gross sometimes.

Have I said too much?



Follow our free checklist exactly or add projects of your own.

[purchase_link id=”9675″ style=”button” color=”dark-gray” text=”Click to download ” direct=”true”]

tawsha connell

Keep it to a Carry On Bag

Keep it to a Carry On Bag


Passengers on major U.S. carriers spent more than US$1.74 billion on bag fees in the first half of 2012, US$78 million more than in the first half of 2011, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports.(via CNN).

I’m sorry, WHAT? Come-a-freaking-gain?!?!? Nuh uh!!! That was just in 2011!

I’m an over-packer. It’s in my nature. Since I never know how I’ll “feel” when I get up, I never know what I’ll want to pack. ‘Is it a shorts day or a skirt day? Should I bring a tank top AND a cardigan or would a cropped jacket be more appropriate? What if I go out and do something fun? I’ll need a nice outfit…but not too nice. Oh no, where would we go? Is it dressy dressy or dressy casual? What shoes will I wear with it?’

This is what goes through my head EVERY SINGLE time I travel.

Now it’s time to put myself to the test.

I’m traveling to my dad’s house in upstate New York. I’ll be outside most of the time so there’s no need to dress up but I also don’t want to look like a total bag lady because we’ll be taking lots of pictures. Oh, and we’re going to two fairs (It’s for my son- I’m sooooooo not the farm/agriculture type. I like makeup and smelling good).

The other thing: I don’t want to pay $25 per bag for each of us. My challenge is to fit 6 days in a carry on bag.


Here are some packing tricks I’ve learned (and will attempt).

An updated report is at the end of this post! Is it truly possible?

Rules for Clothing

  1. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants.
  2. Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothes. For longer trips, plan to do laundry.
  3. Pack only garments that can be color-coordinated with everything else in your travel wardrobe. If it doesn’t work in multiple outfits, leave it at home.
  4. Maximize your personal item. In addition to a carry-on bag, airlines allow you to bring a personal item such as a purse or laptop bag. I generally bring a small backpack, which can hold a lot more than a purse but will still fit easily under the seat in front of me. (Pack an empty purse in your backpack.)
  5. Take multipurpose items such as a sarong that can easily become a scarf, a towel, a hair wrap, a pillow case or a picnic blanket.
  6. Pack three tops for every bottom.
  7. Stick with a color scheme so you can mix and match.
  8. Plan your colors around the shoes you want to take. (How about we not wear navy shoes with black capris, mmmmkay?)
  9. Pack underwear for each day…then add one.

Packing Tips

Shoving into suitcase red

  • Set everything out so you can pack mentally. This is like a game of Tetris.
  • Load books on an eReader or bring just one. You can swap en route.
  • Pack socks and underwear inside any shoes you aren’t wearing
  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane. (All I can think of is Joey wearing Chandler’s clothes in Friends)
  • Roll your clothes
  • Fit tank tops and smaller/thinner items in the crevices of the very bottom of your bag (like, in between the metal handles)
  • Place your shoes, individually, in bags (ziplock gallon bags will do), and line the perimeter of the suitcase.
  • Use packing cubes to keep your clothing compact and categorized.
  • Opt for toiletry bags so you can keep all your bathroom essentials in one place and able to hang easily once you reach your destination.
  • Pack limited makeup. Unless you’re traveling for beauty reasons, choose your most versatile colors and leave behind all the options. Go with what works.
  • Choose accessories that can be worn with everything. Think: Simple.
  • When going through a normal day, take notes of what you typically use. (You can write it on your printable packing list provided at the end of this post.)

There’s a great list on Beginner Beans. She talks about faking low maintenance. I love that. I need to try it.

joey as chandler

Wear your bulk…or anything you can.

Rolling, Folding and Bundling

Click image for a flight attendant's packing tutorial

click for a flight attendant’s packing tutorial

Real Simple has outlined how to roll, fold or bundle clothing for travel.


  • Pants: Fold pants in half lengthwise so that the back pockets face outward. Roll tightly from the cuffs to the waistband.
  • A Straight Skirt or Dress: If the dress has sleeves, first fold each sleeve backward. Fold the entire garment in half lengthwise. Roll from the bottom hem up.
  • A Winter Down Jacket: Zip it, then roll it the same way you would a top, trying to squeeze as much air out of it as possible as you go. Secure it tightly with string or large rubber bands so that it doesn’t come undone. Slip it into a pillowcase and you’ve even got a germ-free headrest for the plane.
How to roll a SHIRT
Another tip: Use a pillowcase to roll your clothing like a burrito. Here’s how.
  • A Dress Shirt: Lay a buttoned-up shirt face-down and flat. Center a magazine below the collar. Fold in the right side of the shirt, using the magazine’s edge as a guide. Take the arm and position it straight down, parallel to the shirt’s body. Repeat on the opposite side. Fold the bottom of the shirt so that the hem touches the shoulders. Slide out the magazine from the top. If you have several shirts of similar shape and size, you can stack them, folding them all as one to cushion the creases.
  • Dress Pants: Fold along the center creases or the side seams so that the legs stack on top of each other. Fold in half so that the waist touches the hem. Fold in half again.
  • A Full Skirt or Dress: Put it in a large plastic trash bag to avoid wrinkles from setting. Fold it in half lengthwise so that the side seams line up—you’ll have an angle down one side. Fold the angled edge inward to form a rectangle. Fold the garment in half horizontally or, if it’s on the longer side, in thirds. Pack it on top of everything else in the suitcase.

How to fold a BLAZER


  • Lay Out All Your Clothes: You can bundle everything besides underwear, swimsuits, and accessories. Each garment should be buttoned or zipped and placed faceup (but jackets should be facedown). You’ll need a core, like a packing cube, to bundle around.
  • Follow the Right Order: Start with tailored garments that wrinkle easily (they’ll be on the outside of the bundle, cushioned by both the other clothes and the core). Then add pieces that are less likely to wrinkle (these will be near the core). To keep the bundle balanced, lay short dresses and tops vertically, alternating north and south, and long dresses and bottoms horizontally, alternating east and west. Here’s the general sequence from the outer layer in: jackets, short dresses, long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts, pants, long dresses, skirts, sweaters, knits, and shorts.
  • Add the Core: Then, starting from the top of the pile, wrap each garment around the core.


A How-To Video

This woman is referred to as Mary Poppins because she can fit so much in a carry-on bag. Talk about a great tutorial! I watched the ENTIRE thing and her tips on travel cosmetics. Just a warning if you’re not loaded in the finance department: You’ll have to improvise on what you use. As in: Ziplocks over designer shoe plastic bags. You’ll see what I mean. She offers great tips and is likeable on camera. I may want to be her friend. We’ll discuss that another time.

Printable Packing List

Each time I travel, I have to write a list. Duh. It’s categorized by what I’ll need to take (casual clothes, toiletries, shoes, etc.) To make things easy, we created a free printable packing list you can fill out to fit your travel needs.


[download id=”15190″]


[download id=”18″]

Safe travels,

tawsha connell



I did it

I STILL over packed and got everything in there. It’s a true carry-on bag. Nothing oversized or fancy. See the clothing in the picture to the left? You’re seeing the second layer. There’s stuff underneath it, too. Holy crap! This is amazing!