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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!

Oh dear…as if I needed another project to add to my already too long to-do list…sigh.

Handmade Flipbook

I have tons of album covers laying around the apartment, since I mostly only use the vinyl records to make my LP journals.

I just came across this brilliant project – I wish I’d thought of this first!

Found at Paper and Stitch

I am so in love with these – and they’re super easy to make!


Find the tutorial here.

Spending way too much time online looking for Christmas projects and not enough time catching up on my sleep after a rough week (I organized three out-of-town events this week alone)… Planning on spending what’s left of today catching up on some commissions for handmade books and finishing my Christmas cards… Sometimes I wonder if I’m insane to insist on making my own cards and gifts when I barely have a moment to myself, but I can’t help it – Christmas has this effect on me….

Here are a few projects to inspire you, should you have some free time this weekend:

Popsicle Stick Gift Tags

Gift Tags

Spice Rack

Envelope Accordion Book

Advent Boxes

Happy Crafting!!!

I realized this morning that I didn’t have a proper container to hold my legal-sized file folders. I don’t really have many of them, but it bugged me that they were just laying around because I didn’t have anywhere to put them. So I decided to build my own storage container, with paper to coordinate with my craft room walls. Here’s the result:
file-folder-storage1.jpg file-folder-storage2.jpg

It’s not perfect, but you can’t really see the flaws. I’m quite happy with it. It seems durable, but we’ll have to wait and see… I’m now thinking of building a whole slew of organizational containers for my office/craft room!

I spent most of the day yesterday working on some workshop projects: developing good samples that I can leave in the stores where I’ll be teaching, and costing each workshop project. It is so difficult to cost things out and I really hate this part! But it’s sooo important, because I recently realized that I’d been underpricing my products by a lot, simply because I’d been too lazy to calculate how much the materials and labours really cost. It was an huge eye opener when I first did this exercise… Here’s the store sample of the CD case workshop I’ll be giving:
cd-case-lc.jpg cd-case-lc-back.jpg

I have a feeling this product will sell like hotcakes…

After running around all day yesterday, trying to find supplies for an upcoming workshop, I spent the evening relaxing with wine and a game of Yahtzee. But first I made these:
origami-boxes-2.jpg origami-boxes-1.jpg

I am in such dire need of storage containers for all the bits and pieces I’ve been collecting for my craft projects. I decided to try making origami boxes based on this tutorial, and they turned out fabulous! I made them from 12″x12″ scrapbooking papers, with their finished size approximately 4″w x 4″d x 2″h. Perfect for storing small trinkets!

I’ve had a love of handmade soap for many years now – I love the smell, the texture, and the fact that it’s great for my sensitive yet problem skin. This afternoon I participated in a soap-making workshop and loved it. Several years ago, I bought a book on soap-making but the instructions seemed too complicated and overwhelming, so I never attempted any of the recipes. But now…I think I may have a new hobby (with great gift-giving potential). Just as when I took a bookbinding class a few years ago, it has given me the confidence to attempt it on my own now that I understand the materials and the technique a little better. I made tea tree oil and lemongrass scented soap and my hands still smell nice from the essential oils we used…yummy. The hard part is letting it cure for a few weeks before I can start using it.

I’ve also confirmed what workshop project I’ll be teaching next month at nathalie-roze & co., although the dates have yet to be confirmed. It will be a CD case made of record sleeve covers. Very hip AND utilitarian. I can’t wait – I’ll upload some pictures of the project soon.

I’ve filled all the book orders and confirmed a few workshops, but still need to work on a few new workshop project ideas. I think I’ll take tonight to recuperate and get a fresh start tomorrow, when I’m rested.

Here’s a list of things I’m enjoying at the moment:
- Listening to… This American Life podcast. I only started listening to it a few weeks ago but I’m hooked. I love the way they set up a story and you never know where it’s going to go…Brilliant.
- ReadingMary Engelbreit’s Home Companion (the Feb/Mar issue has story on business tips from creative women). Creative Home (the Spring 2007 issue that features Alicia Paulson’s dreamy studio). Country Home (Feb 2007 issue on organizing and decluttering).
- Making… Handmade books. Developing workshop projects.
- Loving… Hot baths on cold nights. Chai tea. Connecting with creative souls (online and in person). Learning. Playing with paper.

I can’t believe we’re nearly halfway done the month of January already. I haven’t even had the time to think about resolutions yet!

I’ve been busy focusing on my creative interests in the past few weeks:

- It’s confirmed; I’ll be giving two workshops this month at the Urban Scrapyard in Toronto. The workshop is called Intentions Lapbooks and will demonstrate a variety of simple bookbinding techniques. I thought the concept of lapbooks would work perfectly with new year’s resolutions (or ‘intentions’, as I prefer to call them), but they can be used for many other themes. Here’s a photo of the finished project:

And with open books:

- Nathalie-Roze & Co, a local indie store that exclusively sells handmade products, has expressed interest in selling my handmade books. I’m very excited about the prospect of selling in a real store! Nothing is confirmed yet, but I’m hopeful things will work out. As a result of my encounter with Nathalie-Roze earlier this week, I’ve been bookbinding like a madwoman:

- At Nathalie-Roze’s boutique, I’ve also signed up for a soap-making workshop. I’ve been interested in learning this craft for so long, and even bought a book a few years ago, but it always seemed to intimidating. With the handmade soap fetish that I have, this workshop is perfect for me. Perhaps next Christmas everyone on my list will be getting soap instead of books???

- I also want to get my butt into gear and finally open my Etsy shop. I’ve had the name registered for a while, but haven’t gotten around to taking all the necessary photos and posting my items yet. Must keep the creative momentum going and start working on this.

This post is long enough already, so tomorrow I’ll expand on what I plan to use the Intentions Lapbook for.

Oh, by the way – happy birthday to me!


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