About a week and a half ago, I was at my mom’s when I saw her to-do list for the day sitting on the counter. 

My mom is a person who gets stuff done. 

I was really curious as to what was on her list. I wondered what I might learn from it to achieve my own goals.

However, I didn’t get a chance to peek that day.

A few days later, I saw her yellow notepad sitting on the counter and I decided to read it. It was dinnertime and she had accomplished just about every item on her list for the day. I asked her about a few that weren’t marked, and she had done those, too. Some of the items were marked for my dad to do, and he had done those as well.

I noticed how different her list was from my own. She had things on there that I wouldn’t, such as meals and laundry. Laundry and meals are a given, so I don’t put them on my list, but I also saw the value in being able to cross those off a list. She also had important calls to make as well as regular chores and errands.

Then I noticed something interesting next to “Dinner.” It said, “Finish Pie.” 

I asked, “Are you making a pie?”

“No,” she replied. “I have two pieces of pie in the fridge and I want to make sure we remember to eat them.”

“Eat pie? EAT PIE?” I responded.

Maybe I should put “eat pie” on my list. I think I could definitely acheive THAT goal! Of course, first I would have to MAKE the pie! Then again, if there was pie in my fridge, I know it would get eaten!

Pecan Pie Ingredients

Lesson learned: Eat pie. I think if at the end of the day I had achieved everything on my list, pie would be a great way to end the day.

Floral Medallion

Now, with that in mind, here is my real list for just today. I am also cancelling school today and we are going to do some fall cleaning.



1. Have children vacuum rooms (including edges)

2. Wash vacuum cleaner filters, canister, etc.

3. Clean carpets in children’s rooms

4. Clean behind refrigerator

5. Organize one shelf in pantry

6. Put away dried herbs in kitchen

7. Have my husband hang bulletin board in sewing room

8. Wash and dry three loads of laundry

9. Print “Super Spiffy Day” list and let children pick some deep cleaning jobs (like wash baseboards, doors, kitchen cabinets, extra dusting, etc.)



1. Take cuttings from/tip layer peppermint

2. Plant hellebore seeds

3. Pot mandarin tree

4. Plant bulbs (that I dug out of the center circle) and snapdragons in pots by the back bench

5. Plant flower seeds in same pots

6. Plant lettuce seeds in walkway

7. Plant snapdragon and stock seeds in white garden



1. Sew pillow covers

2. Sew pillows


You can see that several of these goals are part of my goals for this month.

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  1. I often put things on my list just so I can cross them off! It motivates me to keep going on my list if I see things already crossed off. I love the “finish pie” thing. I would never forget that there was a pie in my house though!

  2. WHOOEEEE that is a list.
    I do like your mom, because I used to be so discouraged at the end of the day to have “nothing” done. Daily chores can be invisible and it makes me feel like my day did not vanish to know that I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and did three loads of wash, etc.

    This week I am working on hammering down our new schedule. I moved the chilldren’s dinner to 5:30 and then they get ready for bed at six, so my husband can tuck them in at seven when he gets home. He had a schedule change and they cannot hold out to have dinner with him. Hopefully it will just be for a year and then his schedule will change again. Two dinners and twice the dishes is not awesome. But it needed to be done. On that note, I made four dozen meatballs for the freezer so I can toss them in spaghetti sauce for a more hearty dinner that does not take a lot of time. I made french onion soup so we can have that after the children are in bed and will have minimal dishes.
    I am making muffins for the freezer and a batch of biscotti.
    I’m racing this week to get everything set for my husband’s business trip, so that it is not a circus when I’m alone for a week. It’ll probably still be at least a one ring circus, but hopefully not a three ring. HAHA.
    I’m researching a scholarship.
    I have to clean the yard. Climb every mountain. Ford every stream.

  3. there’s actually a lot of evidence supporting what your mom does by including things that might be considered given tasks or light tasks. being able to check things off the list in and of itself is very motivating to keep going. seeing your checks increase actually pushes you to do more. it’s a psychological game really. it also helps on those hard days when none of the big stuff gets accomplished (we all have those days now and then when life just happens and the to do list doesn’t). being able to see that you did something, even if you consider it a given like laundry or eat pie, can be a real mental benefit. on top of that, give yourself more credit! the things you do everyday are just as valuable as the things you put on your list!

  4. Eat pie. Man, I tend to be a”this must be crossed off list” type of person. That one would have gotten checked off at breakfast (sad, but true *laugh*).

    I tried daily lists a couple of times, but just don’t do well with them as my schedule tends to be a bit crazy. Doing a monthly “base” list of things to get done and then breaking that down into weekly goals lists, along with other things that need to be done week to week…that I find is how I get stuff done :).

    My list for the week can be found here…


  5. I love “Eat Pie” on a to-do list, though we’d NEVER forget to finish a pie. Just last night I had to talk with one child about how it wasn’t fair that he ate the last two pieces of his sibling’s birthday cake without checking first to see if it was OK. Fortunately, I anticipated
    needing extra and had hid a piece of cake in the freezer. Stashing desserts in the freezer is something I do regularly because we have food allergies. A treat is often needed on the spur of the moment (say to take to a special event) and I don’t always have the time or inclination to bake something new.
    Brandy, I’m catching up on your blog posts after not being able to follow along for a few weeks. I noticed earlier in the month, you mentioned needing to buy parmesan to put in your pesto. Have you ever tried making pesto without the cheese? It is possible, and tastes just as good (I think). Two allergies I have to work around are dairy and nuts. A local small grocery sells a version of chimichurri that’s a dead ringer for pesto, but it doesn’t have cheese or nuts. Instead, they have a blend of basil, parsley, and cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, onion, salt & pepper. I think it’s the addition of onion–mixed w/ the garlic–that keeps the same texture as pesto (where it’s the cheese and nuts that make it slightly chunky). I’ve tried it both with and without cilantro, and both work really well. Just passing along the idea since this way is much less expensive.

  6. With grandchildren next door to her I am surprised that there was PIE in the fridge that needed to be eaten before it went bad. As a grandmother of 4 (3 big teen boys) I can tell you that there is not a problem of getting rid of pie in our house. That just tickles my funny bone. Your mother sounds like one sharp lady. She raised you to be the fine woman and mother that you are so I know she has a lot on the ball. I think “EAT PIE” needs to be on everyone’s to do list. It would sure make getting to the bottom of the list to finish with pie a lot more fun.

    My goal here is a no spend week. I made a pan of brownies, and a batch of banana nut muffins as treats. Have them in the freezer. I am also going to go through my linen closet and take some things to our friends who lost their home. They are going to be in a rent house a long time before they can rebuild. I am also going to offer some things from my stock pile. I have laundry soap, toilet paper, bath soap, shampoo etc. that I got for cheap with coupons. I can spare it without worry. I know they will not take money. They are insured but that will take a while to come through. Besides, they have not seen the mess yet. The fires are still burning. They got the news of the loss of their home at a meeting with fire fighters.
    I can not imagine their pain. To lose a house 2 times in less than 5 years? How very sad. The loss of human life has been low. One so far that I know about. But the loss of animal life is high. There are a lot of people with cattle and horses that live in the area. Sometimes you do not have time or a way to gather them up and move them to a safe place. Local animal shelters are taking in pets to hold for people who are fleeing the fires.
    Please just say a prayer that the fires are put out. As of yesterday’s news the fire was about 50% contained. The national guard was called in to help.

  7. Celia, there is another way of looking at the 2 dinners…you and your husband are actually having a date night every night he comes home late! Dinner just the 2 of you…I would consider that a good thing!!!

  8. This post was rather timely…I needed a good laugh. My husband, despite me preparing him well in advance that I wanted him to make the turkey pot pie filling today, he has backed out and won’t be doing it until next week. So Frustrating! I’m sure if I put “eat pie” on his to-do” list, he’d find time for that!

  9. My list would be more like “do not eat the ENTIRE pie in one sitting” or “do not eat the pie as an alternative to dinner”. I do like checking a lot of things off a list, though.

  10. Oh my, I’d love to have “finish pie” on my list! Actually, it’s not a bad idea. Sometimes we get down to the last piece of pie…only 1 left with 7 people in the house. Everyone feels guilty about eating the last piece, so more often than not it goes bad before I deal with it! We need to come up with a fair system…or I need to remember to hide in the pantry and eat it myself. haha

    Here is my list this week: http://www.mediumsizedfamily.com/work-the-plan-goals-for-the-week-1019/

  11. I agree the two dinners sound like no fun, .. but try some new recipes. eat dessert instead of dinner, have a candlelight, snacky dinner.
    turn it into a once a weeks “special” dinner!

  12. I love that idea! .. I also don’t put meals or everyday chores on my list either.

    I have been trying to make a treat (food) every week, so force myself to try new recipes and/or have a yummy snack on hand. Last week was oatmeal cookies and this week I am thinking of make a chocolate cake using black beans!!

    My top three to dos:

    I sold 2 items on Ebay so I am motivated this week to list more (I’m am just not having luck with local FB group!)

    Finish switching out summer/fall clothes

    House projects: research attic insulation problem, remove more front landscape around the house, research dog training.

  13. Celia, I have “cleaned up 2 dinners” for 22 years now. My husband works 9-9. Me and my children have long ago ate when he gets home. But I do enjoy sitting at the table with him when he is eating his dinner. We get to spend a little time together and discuss our day and whatever is going on in our household.

  14. Celia, that sort of meal plan was done two weeks out of every month at our home for YEARS because of my husband’s work schedule. It is a pain in a way but you have to do what you have to do, especially if you have small children at home. Now he works one or two 24 hour days per week. And the children are gone from home. I don’t even know what we’d do if we had a ‘regular’ schedule, lol. We’ve had odd schedules for years.

  15. Erica, I too have monthly goals which translate into the weekly lists. I’ve gotten an awful lot done of late and I credit it to the list.

  16. I admit it’s not ‘eat pie’ but I often will put a reminder note on my list to eat certain foods that are getting past their prime date in the fridge, or on my inventory list if something is near expiration. It happens more than you’d think in a two person household. There’s a lot less of “Well when did we eat all that?” now that the kids are gone and a whole lot more “Wow….We have to eat all that….” lol

  17. I like to make lists. I always have and I use the steno books that have the spiral on the top. They aren’t too big and fit into
    my purse so I can keep it with me when I am not at home. I don’t add the normal everyday stuff , like “go to work” or “make dinner” but I will list special notes if, for example having company for a meal, or pick up a co-worker or take them home. Or take a food item out of the freezer. Though my fail safe is having a husband that works at home so if my list fails me I can call him as a back up, as re’ food. I use this as grocery list too, reminder to use coupons at certain stores, pay bills, send cards. I don’t do daily lists…I just keep adding, and when I run out of room, I move the undone items to the next page and re-date the page. Works for me.

    One year for Christmas my younger son gave me a pack of 12 of the notepads he bought at one of the big office max/depots. People are so used to seeing me with the steno books that I keep getting them as presents. The last one I received was from my Secret Sister at church and she had glued the front of a card with a nice picture and verse on it over the plain front of the steno book.

  18. Hi Brandy and I so relate to the “Eat Pie” to do list. It so reminds me of the old English saying “you can’t have cake and eat it too”.

    Well as now I am a grandmother as well now with children that have left home, you can eat it too and even for 2 nights yeah. This is life’s seasons, you become a mother with children, you are flat out getting or eating your own tea or any treats in the house without the children literally vacuuming it up (particularly teenagers), to raring your children, them leaving home and having children of their own, to making a pie that actually lasts 2 nights. Got to say I smile sweetly and say a silent thankful “yes” every time I see the half of a pie in our fridge that my husband and I can eat for a second nights dessert too.

    Here is how my husband and I start each day is by having a conversation on what we would like to accomplish for the day and we set them in order verbally with one another. That works and we usually get more done that way in a day. We are not write down list people as that just doesn’t work for us.

    Here is why we do it that way –
    1. My husband has huge injuries from a military accident, and we never know how he is tracking in his mobility from day to day.
    2. We work out our to do list each day, to compliment his injuries, we call them easy days on bad mobility days and then good days where we can accomplish a lot.
    3. I am my husbands carer so each day we adjust accordingly.

    We were going out to cut more winter timber on Monday but I cancelled as my husband was having a bad day, so instead we just rang our lovely farmer who’s property we cut the timber at, and moved it forward a fortnight. He knows of my husband’s condition so it is good in that way and we do already have a good stock for the next winter ahead. Instead we went to easy day which consists of planting seeds together, my husband breaking up the hay with the ride on mower ( no walking), and then mulching the gardens together (again no bending) as my husband can do this standing up.

    An adjustable to do list works fantastically for us.

  19. Mari, my thoughts entirely. It would be all I could do to not get up in the middle of the night to polish off the pie that was screaming my name.

  20. Hi Athanasia and yes I do have lists too which help me re – grocery stocking only not daily chores though.

    Here is the lists we do have which work for us –
    – Each time we use an item from the pantry or cleaning cupboards we put that on the list on the refrigerator, that forms the need to buy items on my grocery list for the coming fortnight or when specials come along. Saves having to inventory your pantry at all.
    – Another list which is the things like sheets, towels, gardening items & things we need for the house & garden should ours need replacing or is simply something we need and don’t yet have (work into the budget items), so when on special we can stock up.

    I have a saying with my husband because he hates writing things down which is “write it on the list on the fridge or it won’t get purchased”. I have to say he does get a pained look on his face when I say that. We are so busy though with 300 sq mts of garden vegetable beds to harvest from and maintain, that is the case. So yes for certain things lists are fabulous if you individually find them helpful to keep you organised on a day to day basis for the time poor people such as us.

  21. I had a coworker who was famous for her steno pads. If it was agreed to in a meeting then it was in her steno pad. Lots of others in the group relied on her steno pad when our memories failed. I tried to use that method also but just wasn’t organized enough. It was fascinating to look at all the steno pads over her 30 year career. My mom uses the 1/2 size yellow legal pads, we give them to her a few times a year including Christmas from Sam’s. The only problem is she will have several going at one time so you may need to go through several to find what you are looking for. She is never without one by her side.

  22. I also put reminders on my “to-do” list of things in the fridge that need eaten/thrown in the freezer. I have found this keeps leftovers from going to waste.

  23. I have found my days to be much more productive and peaceful when I ask God to help me write my list for the day. I am not always faithful in taking those few moments, but when he puts it on my list, even a small thing becomes important.

    Psalm 37:23 (NLT) The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

  24. My older DD worked in restaurants and taught us to date our leftovers. It’s surprising how quickly you can forget which night you made corn and is the rest of it still fit to eat! I have a label maker, but a pen and some tape would do just as well. It has probably saved us from a couple cases of food poisoning, at least. We make an effort us use things us, but occasionally something unexpected keeps us from eating what we meant to eat. No problem finishing pie in this house, though.

  25. Ha, I had no idea so many people were doing double dinners. The dishes are worth the tradeoff of less tantrums. Hopefully next year will be different. The soup is working out, maybe I can do a different one each week..

  26. Sunday was my plan it day for the weekly dinners – everyone is on their own for breakfast and lunch around here due to the differing schedules. I also pull all the meat, cheese, broths and heavy cream (if needed) from the freezer to thaw in the frig. I also cut all my coupons at work on this day and try (depends on how busy work is) to match them up to the ads as well.
    The rest of the weeks goals are:
    Get the sewing room fully functional so I can get the bottom sheet for our bed mended (again) and finish a couple items for my Etsy store.
    Move the kittens down to the “girl cave” area and then clean the spare bedroom they were in so I can get to my fall/winter clothing.
    Get the turkeys to the processor before they get too big for me to pick up!!
    Purchase socks for hubs and myself – 4 pairs isn’t enough to get thru the week in the winter unless I want to do constant laundry for only a few items.
    Clean out the chicken coop and put a deep layer of shavings down for the winter and close up all the windows as well. Treating the girls for mites/lice needs to be done too.
    Make doctor and vet appointments.
    Bake bread, muffins and make an apple crisp.
    Purchase the potatoes and apples for the winter. Check onion prices.
    Get the old freezer cleaned out and listed on CL + list our daughter’s old desk.
    Make all meals at home with NO take out this week!!

  27. The pie part made me laugh out loud! I would never forget to eat pie! Your lists always impress me – I hope it was as successful day as you had hoped. I tend to make long lists and only cross of 1 or 2 things.

  28. Dear Brandy,
    I hope your Mum reads your blog and the comments so she knows how many people think she’s great. I did laugh, I need no eating pie type reminders either!
    I usually plan my week on a Sunday and write down my goals. this is straight after I reviewed how I did on the week just completed.
    Most days I have a list on the kitchen bench of things to do and if I am shopping or running errands then a list to take with me of items to buy.
    I also make annual goals and monthly/seasonal goals. Ok I like lists but they help me a lot.
    I dont post my goals but I do post a summary of what I got done each week http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/

  29. Hello one and all from Australia and hope you all have had a wonderfully productive week :).

    First goal for the week and every week and most important to me is –

    – Caring for my husband and his injuries and managing pain levels.

    My Goals for this week in the garden are –
    – Weed two front garden beds.
    – Plant out both with herb seeds – rosemary, thyme, German chamomile, feverfew, coriander, curled leaf parsley & others.
    – Continue planting our newly dug up large garden bed no 5 out in the back paddock with silverbeet, Lebanese cucumbers & other seeds & watch the progress of the tiny tim and moneymaker tomato seedlings I have planted.
    – Dig out spent silverbeet that has gone to seed and thin out any turnips that have gone to seed.
    – Re manure & organically fertilise areas where spent plants have finished and replant with other vegetables.
    – Keep an eye on traditionally dried parsley drying on the back veranda in paper bags to see they are doing well.
    – Keep an eye on greenfeast peas drying on their vines to see when I can collect the seeds and package them.

    In the kitchen –
    – Organise the upright freezer and organise the newly huge batch of blanched and frozen vegetables in to some sort of order in the baskets, older to the top and younger aged to the bottom.
    – Bake an apple pie tonight ( how apt on eat pie 🙂 ), to last for 2 nights dessert, and yes we can eat it too & have leftovers.
    – Possibly make a turnip bake with excess turnips we have harvested from the garden to last a couple of teas.
    – Have placed a bulk order with a wholesale company I deal with to fill in gaps in baking, cleaning, dried fruits, nuts & most important choc chips. Ohh I so love chocolate chips in my pantry to make chocolate treats and have not had these in my pantry for some time due to the high costs in the supermarkets here. Bonus have found them so cheaply with this supplier.

    Household chores –
    – Try to find time to clean lounge room or hall ceilings from winter fire smoke, keeps getting carried over from week to week.

  30. We have the same dinner schedule in this house. my husbands work schedule varies a lot and my kids melt if they get too hungry in the evenings. Sometimes my poor hubby has to fend for himself if someone needs me past bedtime which tends to be a lot of nights with so many little ones. Oh well things will change one day, and I count myself lucky that he doesn’t mind 🙂

  31. I am so proud your mom’s to do list ” finish pie”. I never thought of adding this type of thing to my daily list.
    [Since our children are grown and gone.. we too, will have desserts that are in the fridge that I have to remember
    to eat. ha–]
    I like that your mom, adds all the “regular chores” , to her list.. Being able to cross them off , at the end of the day,
    would help you feel you had accomplished something.ha
    thank you for sharing your mom’s list making ideas.

  32. Hello

    Thank you for the inspiration!
    I was looking at your “Fall Menu” and noticed that you have Honey Mustard Dressing on it. Do you have a homemade recipe? I would enjoy learning it.

    Thank you!

  33. Lorna, I keep lists on the basement door of what canned items I have in the basement, how many empty jars, lids etc. So item totals change often. There is also one for the freezer and one for the root cellar. I don’t do steps often so this helps me keep track.

    I always keep spares in the pantry…I see “ketchup” “al foil” and “tort chips” written on the white board on the fridge right now. That means that someone has used up the one and spare is next so we need a replacement added for the spare. I’d say everyone here is pretty good about writing it down as we are 5 miles from the grocery store so no ones going to run in for a forgotten item.

  34. tcr, I like your story about your co-worker 🙂 My husband uses the legal pads on a longer clipboard for his business. He keeps it with him too. He holds them sideways, makes notes when he is talking to a customer or out on a call. Takes measurements, makes prelim sketches. He’s very methodical. Later everything is filed away in a wider cabinet that fits the longer paper. The cabinet is very old, it was my grandfather’s. It still has all his notes in it. Levi bought the business from my family (that is how I met him :D. ) One of my aunts has the old wooden clip board, hand made, that my grandfather used.

  35. I love a list and crossing things off of it! I have many to cover just about anything that I can think of.

    I keep an on going weekly list that I keep on my desk at work so as I think of things they can be added and highlight what needs to get done right away. This also includes a food shopping list along with an informal menu for the week.

    On a small calander on my desk I keep track of “days” that bills are due so I do not miss any and do not wind up with any “late fees”.

    In my purse I keep a day planner with “events” and each month I include a post-it with things I would like to “do”…for example October had things like *apple crisp *carve a pumpkin *fall decor *take a walk/hike.

    In the day planner I also keep a running list in the back of the goals for the year and things needed for the home.

  36. I love the “finish pie” comment! My goals for this week are to get things back on track. I am very busy at work and with a sick kid at home, housework and bills fell by the way side.

    So far, have folded four baskets of laundry, worked 2 hours for the office, ate breakfast (since apparently we can count that! :D) and then am going to tackle other projects.

    Oh, and prepare….after 4 months my husband landed a job, albeit part time seasonal. Should be starting soon, so a little pressure is off!

  37. Hi Robbie and congratulations on your husband getting part time seasonal work. What a blessing to have some more money coming into the house.

    We are blessed when we least expect it, I have a favourite saying that says ” when you least expect it, expect it”, I have found this is true for both the trials and the good things that happen in life too.

  38. I don’t keep a daily list, instead I keep a running list that includes things to do and thighs to buy, I also throw in notes that I need to remember. It’s not the most organized system but it works. I keep it on the notes part of my smartphone so I always have it with me.

    I wanted to tell you that a Winco opened near me, OH MY! The prices are so good!!! Better than Costco or any other local store. I am so used to high prices that I see your prices and I always drool. (Southern California) I found boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.40, I almost hit the celiling. I bought almost 40 lbs and separated them into 3 breast bags with marinade. Those will feed my family of 5 many many easy dinners. Maybe that price is not low for you all but I have almost never seen it below $2 per lb. They also had Cheerios cereal for $1 per large box, I bought a ton. I am so grateful to have them in my area and I will be shopping there from now on.

  39. Libby,

    They always have phenomenal sales when they first open according to several readers. That will change, so take advantage while they are new. I usually buy produce, milk, spreadable margarine, oats, and sour cream there, and turkeys at Thanksgiving, and only a few other occasional deals that I see. I rarely see meat sales that are super low there. Enjoy your chicken! What a great price! It is usually $1.99 on sale here too.

  40. Libby, I know it’s a typo, but your comment came out “thighs to buy”. I had to laugh. There are some of us who would like to sell you ours. 😀

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