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How I felt on this beautiful spring day! (Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

How I felt on this beautiful spring day!
(Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

After an endlessly long and frigid winter, spring was finally in the air yesterday. It was perfect road-trip weather – sunny but not too hot – so I hopped in my car and made my way to Grimbsy, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. The town was hosting its annual Wayzgoose Bookarts Fair, this year being its 35th edition. For a book- and paper-lover like me, it was hard not to spend my entire paycheck on beautiful handmade paper, letterpressed cards and posters, bookbinding tools, handmade books, and so many other lovelies…thankfully I was a model of restraint and only bought sewing needles and a few cool notebooks.

My new friend Hannelore of Hannelore’s Story Works was a vendor at the fair – we met last December at the Movies and Makers show and instantly hit it off. As she and I looked around the room at other vendors, we noted that it was interesting that although we (and many other bookbinders) work with similar materials (recycled maps, vinyl record LPs, old postcards and book covers, Japanese papers), each of our handmade books come out looking completely different from anyone else’s – we each have our own distinctive style.

I also had the pleasure of meeting master bookbinder Don Taylor. I’d been debating whether or not to take a week-long bookbinding course that he’s teaching this summer, and after a chat with him about the various projects made as part of the course, I’ve decided to finally go ahead and register. Since the aforementioned course is being offered in New Brunswick (my home province), I get to stay with one of my closest friends and hang out with him for an entire week (this makes me very, very happy). Creative vacations are the best!

Here’s a great video of Don Taylor talking about the art of bookbinding and book restoration:

All these thoughts of spring, beautiful weather, road trips, and bookbinding have inspired me to make…what else…travel journals:

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal

Accordion Travel Journal - Inserts and Envelopes

Accordion Travel Journal – Inserts and Envelopes

I’ve also been having lots of fun working with spring colours in my art journal (you may remember it from this post). These are a few blank pages I’ve prepared ahead of time with acrylic paint, collaged papers and washi tape, so that I can simply add text the moment I feel inspired:

Art Journal - Prepped Pages

Art Journal – Prepped Pages

By the way, if you’re feeling inspired to learn bookbinding techniques – there are a few spots left in the Coptic-binding workshop I’ll be teaching on May 4! For more info and to register, visit wisedaughters.com/workshops.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

At this time of year, I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and look forward to the upcoming one. I record these reflections in a journal (written or visual), and to help me along I’ve been using the following questionnaire for several years now. Some years I’ll answer all of the questions, whereas others I’ll just pick and choose a few questions. They serve as a great reminder of all that I’ve accomplished and am grateful for, as well as areas for improvement.  This holiday season has been so busy that I haven’t yet had a chance to complete the survey, but my plan is to work on it this coming weekend.

Feel free to steal these questions!

  1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
  2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
  5. What countries did you visit?
  6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
  7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  9. What was your biggest failure?
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
  12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
  14. Where did most of your money go?
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
  16. What songs will always remind you of 2012?
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    1. happier or sadder?
    2. thinner or fatter?
    3. richer or poorer?
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
  21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
  22. How many one night stands?
  23. What was your favourite TV program?
  24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  25. What was the best book you read?
  26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
  27. What did you want and get?
  28. What did you want and not get?
  29. What was your favourite film of this year?
  30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
  31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
  32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
  33. What kept you sane?
  34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
  35. What political issue stirred you the most?
  36. Who did you miss?
  37. Who was the best new person you met?
  38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
  39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I used to journal a lot. I would spend most days writing about what was happening in my life, how I was feeling, often trying to work out any issues that were challenging me at that moment. I used written journals from my teens to my late twenties.

As a child I was very creative and loved spending hours drawing, writing short stories, and making crafts. Sadly, this part of me was abandoned when I went to university. It seemed there was no time for creativity in between all the studying (I now realize how huge a mistake this was). After going through a dark period about a dozen years ago, I set about re-discovering my artistic and creative side (I was inspired by my new artist boyfriend). During this process, I learned about art journalling and would spend hours upon hours painting, writing, and gluing ephemera into my journals.

As much as I enjoy journalling, I just don’t have the time to devote to it on a consistent basis anymore. I often felt like I was forgetting so many great moments in my life because I wasn’t capturing them as they happened. It saddened me, yet I couldn’t find the time or energy to journal about many of these experiences.

Then two years ago, I found a solution that works perfectly for me. Hurray!

I had come across designer Amanda Hawkin’s lovely DIY planner templates and promptly fell in love. I desperately wanted to find a way to use them on a regular basis just because they were so cool. I decided to print the monthly calendar template onto booklet-size envelopes – one for each month. These would be my journal “pages”. Then I made covers for the journal and kept everything with binder rings. I tried out my new journal throughout 2010 and it worked wonderfully for me, so I did it again in 2011! Here is what my journal looked like this past year:

The front cover (I love love love the paper I used, BTW). It is bound with binder rings and a fabric elastic band to keep the pages from wiggling too much.

One of the envelopes with the monthly template printed onto the front. I keep track of important events, dates with friends, appointments, and other things I want to remember.

On the back of the envelope I keep track of the books I read and movies I saw that month. Inside the envelope I place all the mementos I’ve collected throughout the month: photos, ticket stubs, pamphlets, cards, letters, etc. Some months the envelopes are quite thick, others not so much…

As I said, this system has worked so incredibly well for me these past two years that I wanted to continue with it again this year. Yesterday I made my 2012 journal using beautiful paper printed I bought in Rome last summer, featuring classic Italian movie posters. Now I can relive La dolce vita every day!

As you can see, this type of journal is quite easy to put together and even easier to maintain throughout the year, no matter how busy you are. And the best part is the pockets to store all the mementos that would otherwise clutter your life, or eventually become lost or thrown out. I also use these booklet envelopes in my travel journals whenever I go on a major trip – you can see my Greece journal here.

I’ve always been big into journaling. I’ve loved writing out my thoughts, ideas, memories, etc. since the age of 13 or so. My journals have evolved over the years – for the first few years, they were the traditional, written form.

Then about 10 years ago, I started experimented with art journaling and immediately embraced this form of expression. For the first time ever, I could let go of my Type A, anal retentive personality and just play with colours and images, without judgment. It was fantastic! During this period in my life (mid-twenties), my creativity slowly started to resurface, after being dormant for too many years. I also felt that I was finally coming into my own and really getting to know the authentic me during this phase.

Since I started blogging a few years ago, I’ve been struggling to keep up my personal journals. Between the pesky day job, making books, teaching workshops, working on other personal and professional projects, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I’ve found it difficult to find the time and/or energy to journal. Yet I desperately wanted to find some way of capturing the moments, great and small, that make up my life.

Right around this time last year, I serendipitously found Amanda Hawkins’ wonderful blog, Ahhh Design, and the fantastic DIY planner templates that she designed. An idea formed in my head!

I downloaded her [free!] Index Cards template, and printed the Monthly Plan page onto 12 booklet-size envelopes. I made two covers, punched holes in the covers and envelopes, and voilà – my easy-peasy 2010 journal!

Calendar Envelope Journal

Monthly Calendar

I kept the current month’s envelope in visible location so I wouldn’t forget about it. On the calendar side of the envelope, I recorded events (big and small) – concerts I attended, birthdays, appointments, dinners out with friends, etc. On the back side of the envelope, I listed books I read and movies I saw that month.

Books and Movies

The envelopes I chose for this journal were large enough to fit cards, pamphlets, brochures, photos, ticket stubs, and other mementos [such as the x-rays of my broken ankle].

Envelope Contents

I haven’t shared this journal until now because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep it up consistently. But I’m delighted to report that I’ve recorded in this journal every single month in 2010. This format has been successful for me because it’s so easy to add to it – all I have to do is jot down a quick note or stash a memento in the envelope. Some months, the envelope is thinner than others – and that’s okay! It’s been a great way to capture the moments with very little effort, pressure or perfectionism.

As 2010 comes to an end, I plan to add my thoughts on the past year in greater detail as well as my goals for 2011.

And I definitely plan to repeat this journal format for 2011 – but I also want to add to-do lists, project ideas, sketches, and other elements so that it becomes more of a planner.

What about you – do you have an alternative journal format that works for you? Please share!

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