judynolan

Jul 032018
 

I finally bit the bullet, if you’ll pardon the pun, and sank myself into bullet journaling.

Never heard of it? Well, back in 2015 a digital product designer named Ryder Carroll came up with a simplified system of journaling to help himself stay organized. “The real goal,” he says in the Leuchtturm1917 journal he developed with the Leuchtturm publishing company, “is to develop a mindful practice that helps you identify and focus on the things that are truly worth your time.” His system, in its purest form, utilizes a notebook whose pages consist of dot grids. All you need is a notebook—any kind of notebook that works for you—and a pen.

Four concepts form the foundation of his system: Rapid Logging, Collections, Migration and Indexing. Rapid Logging uses a system of customizable symbols called bullets to jot down tasks, events and notes in your journal. Collections are the way you group related entries. They can be anything you wish, but the core collections include a future, monthly and daily log. Migration is the system you use to handle an incomplete task. You can move that task to another time frame or cross it off your list because it’s not important enough to be taking up your time. Indexing is how you keep track of your collections with titles and page numbers. Ryder’s short video below explains these concepts much better than I can.

What makes bullet journaling unique

What’s unique about the bullet journal versus other planners is that you can make the journal whatever you want it to be. There are no pre-printed templates you must complete, but instead blank pages you’ll design yourself, using a system that combines substance with minimalism.

Ryder’s goal is for you to save time for what’s really important to you. You won’t throw your hands up into the air in frustration because the system you didn’t design is too complicated to maintain, or because you have to follow rules that make you itch like a sweater whose fibers give you hives.

Expensive supplies are a thing of the past because all you need are a notebook and pen. Skip, if you like, stickers and washi tape, color markers, charms, fancy paper clips, colored staples, adhesive notes, page tabs or other embellishments. Of course, you can include these items, too—your choice. In other words, you can design your journal to look however you wish. Need a traditional calendar? Grab your ruler and draw it. Need a weight tracker? Design or borrow a design from Pinterest. Are you an avid quote collector? Pick a page and start a list. You can purchase designs you can paste into your notebook, too—why not?

The official bullet journal

I debated using one of the many blank journals I already own, but in the end decided to purchase the official Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebook to see how it works. Thus far I have discovered that it meets my needs.

As advertised, most of the pages in the notebook are filled with a dot grid. What makes the official bullet journal different from other planners or journals on the market are the following elements.

  • The inside front page contains a symbol key for different types of bullets, with space for you to create your own symbols. A task, for example, is represented by a dot; a completed task is an X, and a migrated task (a task moved to a different time frame) is a “greater than” sign.

  • An index of four pages starts off the notebook with space for you to enter the title and page numbers of the collections inside the journal.

  • All 240 writable pages in the journal, beginning with the future log, are numbered so that you can refer to them in the index.
  • The future log is pre-labeled to encourage you to use it. The intent of these pages is to remind you of items scheduled far in advance. Most people organize their future log into months as shown below.

  • There are three ribbon bookmarks you can use however you wish.
  • The back pages of the journal contain handy instructions for using the bullet journal system.
  • The outside back cover contains an envelope for you to store anything you wish. I store stencils and the spine-and-cover labels included with the Leuchtturm1917 notebook.

The bullet journaling community

There are active bullet journalists on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and blogs. Take the time to explore what page spreads, tools and ideas might fit your needs. A few bullet journal enthusiasts I follow include:

Tips for bullet journaling

If you’re just getting started or are thinking about delving into bullet journaling, below are some lessons I have learned.

  1. Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing when you begin your journal, dig in. You’ll figure out quickly what works for you and what does not.
  2. Resist the temptation to tear out pages that aren’t perfect. Everything you write is a lesson learned. Create a collection of pages where you reflect on your bullet journaling experiences.
  3. Color is nice, but absolutely not necessary. Choose a smooth writing pen that won’t bleed through the paper. I use a set of Staedtler Pigment Liners that have different tip widths: 0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm. I bought mine for $14.99 at Office Depot in a plastic case that stands up for convenience; you can probably find these pens on Amazon.com as well, so I have included that link in this paragraph.
  4. Aim for simplicity—if your page designs or methods are too complex, you’re unlikely to use your journal.
  5. Migrate tasks weekly and monthly unless they are time-sensitive. Give yourself time to reflect on what tasks unduly occupy your time when something else would be a better use of that resource.
  6. In a perfect world, all you need to bullet journal is a notebook and pen. There are, however, some additional tools that are nice to have. For me, these include:
    1. A pencil for drafting lines and headers, as well as a ruler
    2. Stencils for repetitive shapes (you can find a package of these for under $10 on Amazon)
    3. Correction tools: a Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser for pencils, a Tombow Mono Sand Eraser for ink pens, and PaperMate Liquid Paper Dryline Grip Correction Tape (believe me, you’ll make errors—and these tools comfort the Perfectionist hiding inside your head)
    4. Pens (black or color) in different tip widths that don’t bleed through your paper or smear
    5. A zipper pouch to keep everything together

  1. Create a collection of sample spreads so you can experiment with different designs. When I entered “minimalist bullet journal” in my Web browser, all sorts of options popped up for me to explore.
  2. It doesn’t matter what notebook you use, as long as it meets your needs. Do look for good quality paper. Smooth paper of a good weight will encourage you to open that journal and fill the pages.
  3. Don’t be daunted by the 240 pages inside a Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal. At first I feared I’d never fill them; now I fear I won’t have enough pages. As you learn more about bullet journaling, you’ll come up with more ideas than you might imagine for those blank pages.
  4. Nothing is set in stone. If what works for you today doesn’t work tomorrow, try something else. I’ll repeat what I said previously: resist the temptation to tear our imperfect pages. I started off with a daily log that was just a list, separated by dates. I didn’t like how it looked, so I switched to a two-page spread with defined spaces for each day, so I can see the entire week at a glance. I didn’t toss the other pages, however.

For me, what makes a bullet journal special is how easily you can customize it to reflect who you are. Whether you like to doodle, sketch, write long journal entries, organize or collect lists, you can use your bullet journal for any or all of these purposes. I like to collect quotes, so I include one at the top of the second page of my weekly spread. I have another collection for blog post ideas that includes a working title, a final title and a post date.

A parking lot for your ideas

Some people like to call their bullet journal their brain dump space, but I like to think of it as a parking lot for all of my stray ideas, sticky notes and even my digital notes. At my daytime job, I use Microsoft OneNote as my main organizing tool, but an analog bullet journal appeals to me because it feels more creative. Below are some of the ways I have begun to use my bullet journal. Watch for a future post that includes some other ideas.

Have you ever used a bullet journal? If so, what made you choose this type of journaling? If not, describe how it might or might not meet your needs.

© 2018 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
Jun 022018
 

It’s funny how a jar filled with sequins can evoke memories. When I completed several greeting card projects last year that included sequin-filled shaker windows, I was reminded of the time not long after we married, when my husband was stationed at Coronado’s naval base in southern California and I worked part-time at a local store called Cora Mart, located on Orange Avenue.

Cora Mart, which closed its doors in 1996 after more than 30 years of business, was an old-fashioned general store where you could find anything you needed except groceries. There were probably fewer than half a dozen aisles in the store, but their shelves and unpainted pegboards were well-stocked. Cora Mart was like a miniature department store without the frills. There were no display windows, no air conditioning, and no carpeted floors. The linoleum tile floors were cracked and faded, and the register counter at the front of the store was crowded with candy, gum and baseball cards. Needless to say, this was not the age of bar codes, so if a product wasn’t marked with a price, you’d ask a fellow clerk who might or might not know where to look it up—or you’d simply make up a reasonable price on the spot.

At the back of the store you’d find fertilizer, weed killer and garden tools, hardware, hammers and other implements. Another aisle sported storybooks, games, puzzles, toys, baby clothes and diapers. There was a household section stocked with towels and wash cloths, pots and pans, dishes, kitchen gadgets, stain removers and a smorgasbord of household cleaners. Another area was geared toward home dec—lamps, clocks, picture frames and doilies. And then there was the drugstore section with its first aid supplies, aspirin, wart remover and Pepto Bismol lookalikes. My favorite aisle, of course, included fabrics, buttons, rick rack and lace trims, sewing notions and craft supplies.

Among those craft supplies was the most beautiful collection of sequins I have ever seen. Sure, you’d find round or faceted sequins and star-shaped ones, but I recall shiny slivers of plastic shaped like tiny crescent moons, leaves, wreaths, pine trees, flowers, butterflies, birds and so much more. When I crafted my shaker card windows and filled them with sequins, I wished for more than circles or stars.

This afternoon I decided that it might be fun to make my own sequins. Equipped with a Die-namics Sequins die, some leftover Oil of Olay packaging in gold and silver plastic, as well as some Elizabeth Craft Designs Shimmer Sheets in such yummy shades as Australian Opal Gemstone, Pink Iris, Blue Iris and Imperial Garnet Gemstone, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

My first roll of the die through my Big Shot crackled and crinkled like a champ, but the results were less than spectacular. I think more than half of the sequins cracked and flew off into multiple directions, but what was left could still be used for shaker windows or card embellishments, as long as you weren’t planning on sewing them into place. The die couldn’t seem to punch holes through the sequins, at least not consistently. I suppose I could have punched holes one sequin at a time with a paper piercer or sewing needle, but the word that comes to mind is labor-intensive.

Then I tried the Shimmer Sheets, and these were less of a failure, probably because they were thinner than the plastic packaging and were actually designed to be cut with craft dies. I’m not sure the sequin die I used was designed to cut Mylar, however. In fact, the die packaging reads, “Die-namics will cut through: card stock, thin chipboard, ¼” cork, felt, acetate, sticky-back canvas, fabric, denim, sandpaper, 2 mm craft foam, wood veneer paper, photo magnet sheets, and MORE.” Acetate seems like Mylar, but you’ll notice that Mylar was not on the list. Many of my sequins were missing center holes, and I struggled to remove the Mylar film from the die shapes. Hmmm, I thought, I think I know why people purchase sequins instead of making their own.

On the other hand, if you watch a video titled DIY Paper Sequins on thefrugalcrafter channel, you’ll see that Lindsay Weirich gets good results with a hole punch, paper piercer, wooden dowel and shiny card stock. Who knew?

My handmade sequin-making experiment, however, made me wonder how industrial sequins are made. Certainly, I can’t beat the speed at which the sequins are punched in the short video shown below:

According to Smithsonian’s A History of Sequins from King Tut to the King of Pop, written by Emily Spivack, the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 revealed gold discs sewn on his garments, suggesting wealth. The intent, presumably, was to prepare him for a financially-secure afterlife. These gold discs were likely an early version of sequins, a word whose origins go back to the Arabic word “sikka,” which means coin or minting die. Over the ages, writes Spivack, coins or precious metal discs continued to be sewn onto garments. Even Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by them, and in his day, women wore dresses called gamurra that had metal discs sewn onto them. One of da Vinci’s many sketches was a diagram for a sequin-producing machine, although the machine itself was never built. In the 1400s, gold coins sewn onto garments in Venice were called “zecchino.”

Yesterday’s metal discs are today’s plastic sequins, spangles, paillettes or diamantes—each looking somewhat different. Sequins typically have a center hole, while spangles have a hole at the top. Paillettes are large and flat, and diamantes are artificial, glittery or ornamental gems. What they share in common is that they can be sewn onto garments, shoes, bags and other accessories.

A Brief History of Sequins points out that the coins originally sewn on garments were heavy and eventually migrated to shiny, lighter-weight gelatin discs in the 1930s that had a tendency to dissolve when exposed to heat. The gelatin itself came from animal carcasses, according to 5 Sparkling Facts About Sequins, and was rolled into sheets from which the sequin shapes were cut out. Sometimes the pattern of the dissolved sequins on the garments of a dancing couple told a story, which explains the then-popular phrase, “missing sequins could tell tales.” A Brief History of Sequins explains that the non-gelatin version of sequins came about, also in the 1930s, when Herbert Lieberman, in partnership with Eastman Kodak, created sequins from acetate stock. In the 1950s, when Dupont invented Mylar, the fragile acetate sequins were coated with Mylar, which made them more durable. Today sequins are usually made from plastic.

I began this post, reminiscing about the variety of sequins I was able to purchase in the late 70s and early 80s. Today you’ll usually find round, star or heart-shaped sequins at your local Joann’s, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Walmart stores. Looking for something outside the norm? You will probably need to shop online, although fortunately you don’t have to look overseas. The alphabetical list below is not an endorsement of any particular site; it simply represents a starting point for more unique sequins. When searching for such sequins, it’s helpful to look under “shapes.”

If there is a shop where you have discovered interesting sequins, please share your information in the comments below.

© 2018 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share
Feb 182018
 

It’s no secret that I love words. Back when I was in third grade, we had to present an oral report about a book that described the job we wanted to have as an adult. I don’t recall the book I found for this purpose, but I told my classmates that I wanted to be an author. To date, I haven’t written a book, but I have published poetry, some newspaper articles and hundreds of blog posts. I even sell handmade books and journals in my Etsy shop, MisterPenQuin—simply to spread the joy of the written word—but also because I cannot fill enough of them in a lifetime just by myself!

I collect interesting words, books, magazines, and lists of articles, stories and posts I want to read in the same manner a philatelist collects stamps, or a numismatist collects coins. I’m a bibliophile who also collects writing journals the way a child collects rocks and lines them up on a shelf to admire.

Let’s talk about the joy of journal-writing. Perhaps you have admired the covers of journals in bookstores or online, but you cannot imagine how you would ever fill all those blank pages. Well, I have a solution for you: jog over to the Apple store and download a free app called Paper Blanks Journal Prompts, and you’ll be off to the races. If you use an Android device, go to Google Play to download the same app.

Paper Blanks is a company that specializes in producing the most beautiful writing journals I have ever seen. I own a few of them and treasure each one. The company uses acid-free, sustainable forest paper and 100% recycled binder boards for its products. It also supports organizations that advocate for social and environmental responsibility. “At the heart of everything we create,” they say, “is our belief that art matters.”

When you open the Paper Blanks Journal Prompts app, you’ll be greeted with a writing prompt that you can change simply by tapping New Prompt. If it’s a prompt out of which you think you’ll get lots of mileage, you can also save it as a favorite.

Under Settings, you can select one, multiple or all nine categories of prompts, depending on your interests.

When you click on More at the bottom of the screen, choose Journal Resources to get to Endpaper, the Paper Blanks blog.

What caught my attention, when I did this, was a post titled 28 New Journaling Prompts for Letter Writing Month.

It turns out that February is International Correspondence Writing Month, also known as InCoWriMo, dedicated to handwritten letters. The idea is to write one letter a day to someone and to mail it off. We are already past the halfway mark of February, so I wish I would have known about InCoWriMo earlier, but as the folks at this site say, you’re welcome to join in at any point—although you might have a little makeup writing to do! Even if you don’t officially join the venture this year, you can definitely use one of your blank journals to write letters to your future self, to the adult version of your child, or simply use letter-writing prompts to explore journal writing.

As you read this post, you may wonder if I was paid to write a testimonial for Paper Blanks, and the answer is no. I simply love their journals, as well as the concept of journal-writing. I encourage you to handwrite in a journal, but if you prefer to use a keyboard, by all means do so. People journal for all kinds of reasons—to improve their writing, to analyze what they have read, to reflect on events, experiences or feelings, to keep track of ideas or dreams, to reduce stress, to record favorite quotations or Bible verses, to express gratitude, to stay organized . . . and the list goes on.

The Internet is filled with many journal-writing prompts you can explore. Below are a few to get you started:

If you like to journal, how do you use your journal? Feel free to comment below.

© 2018 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Share