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Scrivwell Dotted Journal Review

When you first pick up a Scrivwell notebook it seems pretty unassuming. Nothing outstanding or spectacular about the dotted pages or construction of the journal. I mean… it’s good and all. The paper is smooth and a pleasure to write on. The dots are a nice medium gray color so they aren’t obtrusive on the page. The construction of the journal is solid and the cover feels nice (a smooth vegan leather in various fun colors). But there was something about this journal that I just didn’t love at first. 

The paper weight is 100gsm but the opacity of the paper is not as opaque as some other notebooks with the same weight. The weight and feel of the paper were deceiving. Plus the smoothness of the paper was causing pens that normally don’t smudge to be all smudgy (yes, I know that’s not a word but let’s roll with it). 

Wait a minute…

I’ve got to back up here because something happened in the middle of writing this journal review. I purchased a purple journal and at the time that I bought it, the journal came with 100gsm paper – super smooth, almost glossy, blah, blah. I did the pen test and evaluated the paper, construction of the journal and all the features and specs. Then I filled in the massive spreadsheet with all the stats about this journal. I took photos of the testing pages, even editing the photos and had them ready to put into this blog post.

And as I normally do when writing a review, I refer back to the original product listing on Amazon (or wherever I bought it) to make sure I have the details correct as I’m writing. Whoa! That’s when I realized that Scrivwell pulled a fast one on me. 

They totally changed the paper! UGH! I mean… that’s a good thing if the paper is better. But all that work on the review for the wrong journal put me back at square one. So of course, I ordered the new journal and started all over again. 

And now for the review…

This new version of the Scrivwell journal is SO much better. I mean… it was good before. But now it’s even better. The paper is 120gsm so minimal ghosting or no bleed through. Plus the paper is less “slippery” so the smudginess isn’t an issue anymore. The cover has changed a bit too (not better or worse, just different). So I’m hitting the backspace on all the stuff I already wrote… and starting over. Let’s dive into it!

For those who have the old version of the Scrivwell journal, let’s do some comparisons.

  • SIZE – both are the same size – true A5
  • PAPER WEIGHT – old is 100gsm, new is 120gsm
  • PAGES – the old version has 240 pages, the new has 208 pages
  • BOOKMARKS – both have 2 bookmarks, both are satin ribbons
  • FEATURES – both have an expandable pocket and elastic closure bands

When you hold the two books up against each other the size is the same – including the thickness of the journal. Even though the paper is thicker in the new version, there are fewer pages so the thickness of the journal remains the same. 

The texture on the covers is a bit different. Both versions are vegan leather (basically a fake leather material of some sort – probably PU leather). The old version has a more pronounced texture whereas the new version is more smooth and soft.

The paper in the Scrivwell journal is 120gsm and it’s white. Not bright white but it’s more in the white family than it is in the cream or ivory family. The dots are spaced 5mm apart and go all the way to the edge of the paper – and the dots are a nice medium gray color, as I mentioned above. The paper has a coating to it which aids in that smooth writing experience. 

What surprises me about this paper is that even at 120gsm there’s more ghosting than what I’d expect. But white paper is never going to be as opaque as ivory paper, right? Which means because this paper is less opaque, you have more ghosting or show-through on the backside of the page when you write with most of the pens I’ve tested. Obviously, the thinner the pen nib the less ghosting you have (I love my .38mm gel pens for this exact reason). 

But this paper doesn’t act like 120gsm paper when it comes to ghosting. What gives? Ahhh… but this paper is also coated during the manufacturing process which is why it’s so smooth to write on (it’s like butter!) and also why we get smudging when some inks don’t dry immediately (we’ll talk about that more below). Rather than inks soaking into the fibers of the paper, the coating lets the ink sit on top of the page and you have to wait for the ink to dry on its own without the help of paper absorption. The coating is added to the paper to prevent bleed-through of ink to the back side of the page. 

Let’s talk about coated paper

Coated paper is heavier than uncoated paper. We’re about to get super nerdy here but I’ll try not to make it too technical. Ready?

Coated Paper is paper that has been coated by a chemical compound to add qualities to the paper including weight, surface gloss, smoothness or reduced ink absorbency. When a paper is coated it absorbs less moisture, inks sit on the surface, rather than soak into the fibers of the paper. The addition of coating on paper is part of the manufacturing process, not the printing process.  Source: Wikipedia

Scrivwell coated paper and ghosting

So that was a really long way around the answer to the question about why this paper ghosts more than expected for 120gsm paper. It’s got a pretty heavy coating and the coating contributes to the weight of the paper. The paper itself thinner than the same weight of paper that’s uncoated or just lightly coated. (Yes there are actual scientific terms for uncoated, lightly coated, heavily coated but we’ll cover that in another lesson – for now, we’ll just use layman’s terms, ok?). Which means we have more ghosting than you’d expect for 120gsm paper. 

Jumping back to mention the old version of the Scrivwell journal — the coating is different in this new one. The old version’s coated paper was super slippery and inks just wouldn’t dry and the smudging was horrible. But this new version is different. The paper is still smooth and soft but inks dry better. Much better, actually. The only inks I have trouble with are some long-drying fountain pen inks. But fast-drying inks like Platinum or some of the Noodler’s Bullet Proof inks do just fine. 

Scrivwell coated paper and bleed-through

BUT… that coated paper plays a major role in bleed-through. Scrivwell paper doesn’t allow bleed-through. With any normal water-based pen, highlighter, or marker I tried there was no bleeding at all. Not even a “trying to bleed” situation where it the ink almost soaked through but didn’t soak through completely. I was so impressed with the lack of bleed-through that I wanted to try a Sharpie Marker – the one thing you should never use in a journal. 

Using alcohol markers in a normal notebook or journal is just asking for disaster. Not only will the marker bleed through the page but it’ll likely leave ink on the following page (or sometimes the next couple of pages). Which is why you never use Sharpie Markers or Copic Markers or any type of alcohol-based art markers in a journal.

But I’m a nerd, right? I like to test things and see how far I can push the limits of stationery products. So I grabbed my Sharpies and gave it a try. Ummm…. Seriously? How is there no bleed-through with a Sharpie Marker? Oh sure there was massive ghosting with a Sharpie, but to see how well this paper performed with alcohol markers was amazing. 

Scrivwell Notebook Features and Specs

Now that we’ve spent an amazing amount of time talking about the paper in this journal, let’s cover the rest of the things. 

This is a hardcover journal made of “vegan leather” and comes in 12 different color options (black, brown, grey, white, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, purple, pink, and berry). You’ve got a sewn binding that will lie flat once you train the spine to remain open. There are two bookmarks made of satin ribbon material and a back document pocket for storing stickers, stencils, and important bits of ephemera. The elastic band isn’t especially tight but also not too lose (did anyone else just think of Goldilocks?). 

Dots are spaced 5mm apart and the gray dots are medium colored on the page. The dot grid is 40x24 in a true A5 size notebook (5.5” x 8.2”). There are 208 pages and paper is 120gsm and heavily coated to prevent bleed-through. (In the older version of Scrivwell, the paper is 100gsm and there are 240 pages.) Pages are not numbered and there are no additional special pages like an index or key page. 

Fountain Pens in Scrivwell

I’m happily hopping down the bunny trail of fountain pens right now. Anyone else jumping down that rabbit hole recently? I’m on a quest to see how good of a pen I can buy for the least amount of money. I’m pleasantly surprised by the pens coming out of China. But inks… that’s a different story entirely. I love all the different inks and experimenting with how they perform in these cheapo pens. The J. Herbin 1678 Anniversary inks that have gold or silver pigments… get outta town! I’m obsessed. 

So does Scrivwell stand up to the inks I’ve tested? Yes! Absolutely yes. Only one ink and pen combination gave it trouble – but that combo has been wreaking havoc everywhere I test it. The combination of Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts ink in a Jinhao X750 medium nib pen – this combo is a pretty wet ink and a pen that lays down a lot of ink with each stroke.

Usually, it just bleeds through the paper completely and even onto the next sheet of paper in my practice scribble books (just cheap notebooks where I can test pens) … but the Scrivwell held up much better. Yes, there’s a bit of bleed-through but not nearly as much as I’ve seen elsewhere. But any other ink I’ve tested performs beautifully. 

As for smudging… this is one of those things, right? Some inks just dry faster than others. The Platinum inks seem to be the fastest drying inks I’ve tried so far and those are excellent in the Scrivwell. But many of the Noodler’s inks or even the J. Herbin inks tend to be slow-drying so if you drag your hand through the words too soon after writing, you’re in trouble. But once they’re set and dry, everything is fine. 

Because the paper is so smooth, the shading of inks on the page is lots of fun! I just picked up a bottle of Noodler’s Lexington Gray and I like the way that performs in the Scrivwell journal. 

feathering in ScrivwellFeathering with some Fountain Pens

There’s one little problem we need to discuss though. I found that some fountain pens have issues with feathering. I say pens and not inks because I think it has to do with the nib of the fountain pen rather than the ink itself. The photo below shows the Platinum Desk Pen with major feathering (when ink spreads into the fibers of the paper along the edge of the line you just wrote). This pen has an super fine nib – it’s pretty scratchy and pointy. So I think the nib is actually cutting into the paper before the ink is laid down, which would then allow ink to feather into the fibers of those scratches. Notice the Noodlers below and the Tombow above — both wet inks but no feathering. Just something to be aware of as you choose your pen.

Watercoloring in Scrivwell

Will watercoloring work in Scrivwell and not destroy the notebook? Yes! A resounding and joyful yes! I did a pretty heavy and wet test on the pages to see how far I could take it before I broke the thing! It held up. The watercolor did not bleed through to the back of the page and the paper didn’t dissolve or get fuzzy with the addition of water. That coating really helps with this process. 

No, I don’t recommend you go crazy with tons of water in this journal. You’re better off doing a light wash of watercolor or a simple painting using a light hand. It’s paper, after all. But it’s encouraging to know that you can break out your art supplies and have some fun. 

The big benefit of adding a light wash of watercolor to the page is that suddenly the ghosting issue becomes a non-issue. After your watercolored page dries (speed up that process with a hairdryer then hit it with a light touch of the iron to make the page lie flat again) you can write on it like normal and the writing is not going to be visible from the other side. 


Pros & Cons of Scrivwell Notebook

Overall I love this journal even though I was a skeptic at first. The pros definitely outweigh the cons on this one. 


  • Good journal construction with quality cover materials and lots of colors to choose from
  • The paper is amazing for preventing bleed-through and keeping ghosting to a minimum
  • Smooth paper makes the writing experience a joy
  • Fountain pen friendly – and since the paper is coated the ink shading you see is beautiful
  • Thick paper allows for more heavy media types for art journaling
  • The price is right! At around $13 for this high-quality journal, you can’t go wrong.


  • The heavily coated paper extends the drying time for some inks, especially wet fountain pen ink and can cause significant smudging or smearing
  • Not a great paper option for left-handed writers due to the smudge factor


Stationery Nerd Approved Seal

I like this journal a lot. It has a good balance of paper weight, paper coating, and journal construction. Since my style of writing doesn’t usually cause ink smudges (I’m right-handed and rarely drag my hand through the ink right after I write something). I love the option of using watercolor on the pages without worrying about ruining a page in my notebook. 

I also love that you have so many colors to choose from (of course, any journal that comes in Stationery Nerd Yellow is a good choice!). 

Scrivwell gets the official Stationery Nerd Seal of Approval. 

FEATURES & SPECS | Scrivwell Dotted Notebook

Notebook Brand Scrivwell
Model / Description Dotted Notebook
Hardcover | Softcover Hardcover
Cover Options 12 colors options | vegan leather
Sizes Available A5 | 148 x 210 mm | 5.8" x 8.3"
Binding Type sewn binding
Paper Weight 120 gsm
Paper Color white
Paper Surface coated | smooth & soft
Dots | Lines | Grid | Blank dots
Grid or Line Spacing 5mm
Grid Count 40 x 27
Number of pages 208
Are pages numbered? no
Special pages no
Bookmarks 2 | satin ribbon to match cover
Back Pocket yes
Elastic Closure yes
Additional Features embossed branding on back cover

The post Scrivwell Dotted Journal Review appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Stationery Deals for Amazon Prime Day 2019

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is here! And the Stationery Nerd Herd has voted that you want deal updates throughout the two-day shopping event.  Amazon Prime Day runs for 36 hours. The official timeframe is:

12 am PT on Monday, July 15 to 11:59 PT on Tuesday, July 16

I’ll already be scouring Amazon for sales so I can buy fun stationery stuff to review here on the website. So while I’m at it, I might as well share the love. So here we go… let the shopping begin!

Prime Members Only

First things first. Amazon Prime Day is ONLY open to Prime Members. If you’re already a member, you’re all set. If you’re not yet a member, it’s OK, there’s still time to get involved. Even though Amazon Prime is a subscription service offering free two-day shipping and myriad benefits like free Prime video, Prime Music, and even some Kindle deals just for Prime Members – you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime and take advantage of the deals on July 15-16. Cancel before that first month is up and you won’t have to pay anything (but of course, once you get a taste of Amazon Prime, you’ll be hooked – just like me). 

To sign up, just click the box on the right (or below if you’re on mobile) and get signed up today. 

Walmart and Target and Others

You know that the other retailers of the world are not going to let Amazon have all the fun, right? So watch for deals from elsewhere too. I’ll do my best to wrangle all the deals I find on sites like Walmart and Target. If you see something hot, drop a comment below and share the love!

Visit Often

I’ll be updating this past over the next 36 hours so come back often. Bookmark the page (or just leave it open all day, I don’t mind). After Prime Day is over… these deals will be gone, and so will this page.


Some links on this website may contain affiliate advertising. This means that if you purchase products using certain links, we will receive compensation on that purchase. There is never an additional cost to you for that purchase. For more information about sponsored content, affiliate links, and advertising on this website to read the full affiliate disclaimer policy.

Amazon Products & Services

General Stationery Supplies

AMAZON HANDMADE – Stationery Marketplace

Be sure to check out all the lovely stationery and party invitations by artisans on the Amazon Handmade Marketplace. Many shops have Prime Day sales! Save up to 30% on the Amazon Homemade Marketplace (lots of traveler’s notebooks & stationery here!)


Paper  |  Notebooks  |  Journals  |  Planners



…because leather deserves it’s own separate category.


Pens  |  Markers  |  Fountain Pens  |  Writing Things




Art Supplies  |  Stickers  |  Washi Tape  |  Mixed Media




The post Stationery Deals for Amazon Prime Day 2019 appeared first on Stationery Nerd.


Several months ago the owner of Key Point notebook reached out to me to introduce himself and offer a notebook for review. I declined the freebie and opted instead to purchase it on my own. So in a continuing effort to be as real, raw, and honest about my reviews as possible, I didn’t want to be swayed one way or the other with a free notebook … so here we are to talk about a journal that I bought with my hard-earned moola. Not only did I like the specs on the notebook and unique design, but I also loved the story behind the brand. Before we jump into the guts of the Key Point Dotted Notebook review… let’s hear Ryan’s story.  

The Key Point Notebook Story

I’d love to share the story that Ryan, the owner of Key Point, shared with me. 

Key Point is a small company based in Denver, Colorado. I personally started the company out of necessity. I was going through a very tough point in my life, dealing with divorce, addictions, and many other issues. My brother reached out to me and told me I should start journaling. The next day I went looking for a journal that I could really connect with and enjoy. I had a hard time finding one on Amazon, so I went to Walgreens and settled on a Black n’ Red hardcover just to get started that day. Going that day and making the choice to start journaling was the “key point” in my life that started a tremendous turnaround. I started tracking my relationships, my health, my spirituality, my finances, and thoughts in general. 

Four months and five journals later, I decided to start a business. I decided to start selling journals and the brand Key Point came into existence. While doing research on the market I came across bullet journaling and I started using a dot grid notebook and fell in love with the versatility. So the very first journal is a dotted notebook. 

Key Point was created to help people make great changes in their lives through journaling. I wanted to create a professional feeling journal that anyone can use. Currently, we are small and just getting started so there is only one journal. I plan to develop many other journals and products in the future. I am so grateful that my brother reached out that day and got me hooked on journals.  

What I love most about this story is how closely it mirrors my own journaling journey. I won’t go into the details of my own life – that’s a story for another blog post – but I can affirm that when you really dedicate yourself to the practice of daily journaling, amazing things will happen in your life. So, of course, I wanted to support this small, local business and the great effort it takes to get something like this off the ground. I love Ryan’s story … but more than that, I also love his journal. 

Key Point Dotted Notebook Features & Specs

You can see the details specs below, so let’s just summarize things here. The Key Point Dotted Notebook is an A5 dotted notebook – measuring 5.8” x 8.3” and has a hardcover made of faux leather material with a leather-like texture. The journal only comes in a professional brown color option and the brand’s logo is stamped in gold in the corner of the front cover (I’d rather see this branding on the back cover instead).


There are 200 pages – not-numbered – with no special pages like an index or contact information page. The paper is creamy white and the dots are small and light gray. The dots almost disappear into the paper color from afar but can be seen alright when you’re writing on the page. The paper is 100gsm.

With a slight coating on the paper, inks do not soak into the fibers of the paper unless the ink is extremely wet or it’s a broad nib pen (Jinhao X750 broad nib fountain pen, I’m looking at you!). Ghosting is minimal and really not even visible with many of the pens I tested. I’ll go into more detail about the pen tests below.


These dots are by far some of the smallest and lightest I’ve seen in any notebook. If you’ve got bad eyesight and need darker dots, this might not be the one for you. But if you prefer dots to be unobtrusive so you can express your full creativity, then this is the perfect option for you. The dots go all the way to the edge of the paper and are spaced 5mm apart.  

The grid is 5mm between dots with a grid of 40 x 28 dots – but that last 28th dot is literally at the very edge of the page so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the notebooks don’t have that 28th dot (paper shifts during manufacturing so sometimes the trimming shifts the margins, this is normal).

In fact, when looking at the edge of the notebook you can see that some dots got slaughtered in the trimming process. You should not be able to see printed dots along the edges of the pages because that indicates that the dots weren’t printed perfectly square on the page and that when the pages were trimmed after printing that the misalignment caused some of the pages to have different dot grids than the others. However, in looking through the pages I did not notice that any of the lines of dots were misaligned across the two-page spread, so that’s a relief. 


You get one satin ribbon bookmark in brown to match the cover color but no back pocket. I love the way the elastic closure band is diagonal across the top right corner of the journal and not one that spans the entire height of the book. Not only is it unique and attractive, but it also serves the purpose of becoming a pen holder. Just lay your pen along the top of the journal, then stretch the elastic into place. It’s surprisingly secure and the pen stays put even when I put it through a “shake test” (yes, this is the first time I’ve ever done such a test on a notebook! LOL!).  


This is a sewn-binding notebook, it opens flat and stays put. I also find it interesting how compact the journal feels in my hand. With 200 pages at 100gsm, it’s thinner than other journals in its class making it an easy EDC (every day carry) type of companion. The construction is excellent and I’m sure it will hold up just fine to being opened and closed dozens of times per day.

Key Note Journal Pen Test & Paper Quality

It’s all about the paper, but it’s a huge part of the equation when evaluating the quality of a notebook. I’m happy to report that this journal passes the pen test with flying colors! 


As I’ve said many times before, it’s difficult to get a white paper that doesn’t have an issue with ghosting and see-through. A white paper is naturally less opaque than colored paper (which is why you often see journals with ivory or cream-colored paper). But Key Point stands up to this test beautifully. The paper in this journal is a very light cream (nearly white). None of the pens I tested showed any sort of ghosting on the backside of the page. In fact, the indentation of the pen was more prominent than the ghosting of the ink itself. I tend to be heavy handed so this wasn’t a surprise. 

Even with the wettest inks I’ve tried there were none with feathering problems. Feathering is when the ink seeps into the fibers of the paper and spreads like a spiderweb (or a feather) outside the line you just drew. Nope, none of that happening… which is a direct result of the coated paper used in the notebook.


Because I’m currently hopping around the rabbit trail of fountain pens, and because I’ve gotten several requests for this test on journals…. there’s a page dedicated to just fountain pen ink testing. I used a variety of nib sizes and several different ink types. You’ll see in the photos below that the only pen with a major problem was the Jinhao X750 which has a broad nib and lays downs a LOT of ink. But the other pens and inks did pretty good. And no feathering either!


I tested an alcohol-based Sharpie Marker just to see how the paper would stand up to the impossible test. (Don’t use Sharpie Markers in your journal! This never turns out well!) Yes, there’s bleeding with that marker, as expected, and definitely ghosting. But the paper held up better than most I’ve tested. I’m pretty impressed. 


The pages have a slight coated feeling to them. The writing experience is smooth and pleasant although I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “buttery smooth.” That slight coating definitely contributes to the lack of bleed-through from the pens I tested. 

Pros & Cons of Key Point Dotted Notebook


  • I love the story from the owner and how the name of the notebook ties into the changes that journaling had on his life. It’s a notebook created by a journaler who understands what is important for fellow journalers
  • High-quality paper with no ghosting, bleed-through or feathering
  • The cool diagonal elastic band that doubles as a pen holder
  • The professional look of the journal that has the look and feel of leather on the cover
  • Super light dots that almost disappear into the page 


  • The lack of color options for the cover might be a deal-breaker for some
  • The lack of page numbers makes it necessary for bullet journalers to manually number the pages
  • The bold branding on the front cover is a bit intrusive
  • The page margins could be better thought out so as to avoid dots falling off the page when trimmed at the manufacturing stage
  • Super light dots might present a problem for those with low vision 


Stationery Nerd Approved SealI love this journal! I’m impressed with the quality of the paper and the feel of the journal in my hand. The construction is excellent and having a lay-flat spine makes life so much easier when I need to write for long periods of time. Even though the super light dots might be a deterrent for some, I personally love how light they are. 

And that diagonal elastic band … why don’t more notebook makers do that? It’s kind of brilliant! 

The Key Point Dotted Notebook is worthy of the Stationery Nerd Seal of Approval.

More Journal Reviews

Are you ready for more comprehensive notebook and journal reviews? Be sure to head over to the main journal review landing page to see what else we have in store for you!

FEATURES & SPECS | Key Point Dotted Notebook

Notebook Brand Key Point
Model / Description Dotted Notebook
Hardcover | Softcover Hardcover
Cover Options faux leather | 2 colors
Sizes Available A5 | 148 x 210 mm | 5.8" x 8.3"
Binding Type sewn binding
Paper Weight 100gsm
Paper Color light cream / whites
Paper Surface smooth
Dots | Lines | Grid | Blank dots
Grid or Line Spacing 5mm
Grid Count 40 x 28
Number of pages 200
Are pages numbered? no
Special pages no
Bookmarks 1 | satin ribbon
Back Pocket yes
Elastic Closure yes | diagonal corner strap
Additional Features gold embossed branding on front

Pin It!

Here’s a great image to use on Pinterest. 

Journal & Notebook Review Rating Scale

Yes, I know that review up there is super long! You know me... I'm long winded and I think you might want to know every single teeny tiny thing about this product. Sometimes you just need to facts summarized in an easy chart. That's what this part is. Below you'll see my score for this notebook. I've based my score on the following criteria. Open each toggle box below to read more about the scoring system I use. 


Notebook Features & Specs

Evaluates the available features of the line of notebooks including special pages included (contact page, index pages, pen tests, perforated pages); special features (bookmarks, back pocket); and additional features (special elastic closure, stickers, tools, pen loop).

  • 20 points • PLAIN JANE - notebook includes paper (and probably a cover) but that’s about it
  • 40 points • PURELY BASIC - notebook includes one or two features but not anything outstanding
  • 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook includes some of the typical features but is missing some
  • 80 points • FULLY LOADED  - notebook includes all the typical features you’d expect in a notebook
  • 100 points • LUXURY  - notebook includes every feature you can imagine plus more
Notebook Construction & Durability

Evaluates the overall construction and build of the notebook or journal. Factors considered are binding and lay-flat design; cover durability; bookmark and back pocket stability; paper performance; and the overall feel of quality.

  • 20 points • VERY POOR - notebook is not recommended due to poor construction, performance, and stability
  • 40 points • BELOW AVERAGE -  notebook shows poor construction and has many areas that need improvement
  • 60 points • JUST AVERAGE - notebook shows an expected level of construction and adequate performance or durability
  • 80 points • ABOVE AVERAGE -  notebook shows good construction and is durable in all areas
  • 100 points • LUXURY - notebook shows superior quality in construction and durability; feel luxurious

Ghosting is when your pen strokes show through on the backside of your page and you can clearly see what you’ve written or drawn on the previous page. The combination of paper, ink wetness, and pen nib style contribute to ghosting or show-through. 

  • 20 points •  EXTREME GHOSTING - see-through is so bad that you can’t write on the back of the page
  • 40 points  • MAJOR GHOSTING - significant ghosting making it difficult to write on the back of the page
  • 60 points  • MODERATE GHOSTING - some ghosting is visible but writing over it is acceptable for some
  • 80 points  • SLIGHT GHOSTING - barely visible ghosting and only with wet or heavy inks
  • 100 points  • NO GHOSTING - no visible ghosting at all

Bleeding is when ink penetrates the fibers of the paper and soaks through to the other side of the page.  The combination of paper, ink wetness, and pen nib style contribute to bleed-through.

  • 20 points EXTREME BLEEDING - ink bleeds through the page and soaks into the following page of the journal 
  • 40 points • MAJOR BLEEDING - significant bleeding making it difficult to write on the back of the page
  • 60 points • MODERATE BLEEDING - some bleeding of full words or extra wet ink pen strokes
  • 80 points • SLIGHT BLEEDING - minor bleeding when a pen is left on the page for too long or at the end of a line but not visible during normal writing strokes
  • 100 points • NO BLEEDING - no bleeding at all

Feathering is when the ink penetrates the fibers of the paper and spreads outward from the line just written. The feathering happens when ink from your pen is pulled into an absorbent paper via capillary action. Typically seen with uncoated or low-quality paper (i.e. newsprint or cheap school notebook paper) combined with wet ink or broad nib styles. 

  • 20 points  • EXTREME FEATHERING - the paper is so porous that ANY ink type feathers with every pen stroke. This is probably a paper towel or newsprint.
  • 40 points • MAJOR FEATHERING - any WET ink shows significant feathering with every pen stroke
  • 60 points • MODERATE FEATHERING - certain ink types show feathering but it’s not overly bothersome 
  • 80 points • SLIGHT FEATHERING - if you look closely you’ll see some periodic and insignificant feathering 
  • 100 points • NO FEATHERING - no feathering at all

The post KEY POINT | DOTTED NOTEBOOK appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Embrace the Joy of Creativity

It doesn’t matter what you’re creating, it only matters that you are creating.

Remember when we were children and we’d spend hours drawing the most epic piece of art? Oh, the pride we felt in presenting that artwork to our parents! And the elated joy at seeing that art hanging on the fridge – a place of honor for the entire family to see and admire.

Whatever happened to that sense of wonder? The pure joy of creating. Why do we judge ourselves so harshly or compare our creation to that of someone else? Why do we let comparison steal our joy?

Your sketchbook, journal, or planner is a place to express your own creativity. Maybe you’ve drawn an elaborate illustration that took you hours to complete. But it could just as easily be an idea you need to write down before you forget so you dash off a scribbled note at the bottom of your grocery list and stuff it in your pocket. Only to find that note weeks later … and it spurs inspiration anew.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how neat or sloppy your journal is. Maybe you use a ruler to draw a straight line. Maybe straight lines aren’t your thing and you like wobbly ones instead. Maybe your flowers look more like scarecrows or your calligraphy resembles the work of a 2nd grader. Maybe you don’t know the proper way to use watercolor, but you love the effect of plopping pools of color on your journaling page because it makes you happy to write on paper filled with color.

That joy you had as a child … it’s still inside you. Stop worrying so much about what others think. Silence the voices in your head that say you’re not good enough. It doesn’t matter if your lines are crooked or your handwriting is sloppy. It doesn’t matter if you voice trembles when you’re singing in front of an audience. It doesn’t matter if every photo you take isn’t perfect. What matters is that you are creating.

The tools we use are as varied as the types of creations we make. A pencil, marker, or paint brush. A camera, a hammer, or a computer mouse. It’s your voice, or words on the page or notes strummed on a guitar. Maybe your tool is your kindness, a smile for a stranger, a note of encouragement for a friend, or a bowl of soup for a hungry neighbor. The tool doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are making something. You’re making art. You’re making music. You’re making poetry and houses and films. You’re making a difference.

You are using your imagination, your heart, and soul, your own two hands … and you’re creating something that never existed before. There’s nothing small about that. You are no small creator. No! Creating is a huge thing! What you’re making is amazing!

We’re all in this together. It’s time to lift each other up and cheer each other on. Celebrate what your fellow creator is making. Rather than comparing ourselves to others … let’s stand in awe of the fact that we are all creators. We are not small. We are mighty. We are powerful. Joining together to make the world a more beautiful place to live.

I am no small creator.

You are no small creator.



The post Embrace the Joy of Creativity appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

NEW Exceed Dot Journal at Walmart Review

Stationery Nerd Approved SealI can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that this journal is in the world! No really… I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to write a product review than right this very minute! Humor me and go with it, ok? First, let me just get this part out of the way. I LOVE this journal.

Go buy it immediately! It’s in stores at Walmart all over the United States (and other countries?? not sure yet). And it’s only $8.64. If you need the whole story, fine… read on, my nerdy friend!

I didn’t use to love it…

Let’s take a step back in time to the olden days of Stationery Nerd (August 2017) when the original Exceed Dot Journal review was first published on this website. In fact, if you look back at my YouTube videos, the Exceed Journal review video was the second video I ever made. (Wait… don’t go look. That video is horrible. I had no idea what the heck I was doing!) To refresh your memory… I hated the Exceed Journal. It failed the pen tests, the bleeding and ghosting were horrible. And I pretty much told you not to buy that notebook.

But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve got big news to share first! 

I helped make the Exceed Journals better!

And a few months after I published my first Exceed review, I got an email from the folks at Exceed. It’s never a good sign when the vice president of a journal company wants to talk to you shortly after you publish a terrible review of their product. DUN DUN DUUUUN!!!

Imagine my surprise and delight when they asked me to help them improve their journals!

For the past year, I’ve been working with the fine folks at Exceed … I KNOW! I’ve been dying to tell you! I’m so sorry that I kept secrets from you. But let’s put that behind us, ok? Forgive me?

They asked me what the perfect journal would be – paper, construction, size, page configuration, everything – and then they went about making that dream come true. Bit-by-bit, we worked through the details of changing the paper, journal size, and page configuration. Over the past year I’ve received happy mail from Exceed – each box containing several journals to inspect, test, and give feedback on. Each new prototype was better than the last until finally we were happy with the new version of the journal and it officially went into manufacturing.

And now they are FINALLY in stores and ready to be loved by the journaling community. And if you don’t have a Walmart near you, don’t worry – you can buy the Exceed journals on the website. But before we go too much further, let me tell you about this amazing company.

Supporting a U.S.A. Company

The company that makes Exceed notebooks is called Norcom, Inc., located in Griffin, Georgia, a small town just south of Atlanta. Yes, folks, they are an American company, the largest paper manufacturing company in the United States, in fact. The Exceed journals are manufactured in China using socially conscious practices to choose responsible partners. From their website:

Norcom, founded in 1978, is committed to U. S. manufacturing and manufactures the majority of its products in its facility in Griffin, Georgia. For highly specialized items, or to supplement our domestic supply, we import products from countries and companies who have demonstrated sensitivity to human rights and environmental sustainability. 

We’ll dig into the details below, but if you’re impatient (like me) here are the links to the new 100gsm paper versions of the journals. There are more than just these three, but this should get you started, anyway.

Large Exceed Soft Cover Dotted Book

100gsm | 78gsm
Dotted | Ruled

A5 Exceed Hard Cover Dotted Journal


Medium Exceed Hard Cover Notebook

100gsm | 78gsm
Dotted | Ruled

Small Exceed Hard Cover Notebook

Dotted | Ruled


New Exceed Dot Journal … the full review!

Let’s get into it! Below is everything I know about the new Exceed Dot Journals (yes there several) with as many photos as I could possibly share with you. Plus, all the nerdy specs you would expect from a girl who calls herself a stationery nerd.

4 Journal Sizes

Large – 7.5″ x 9.75″
Medium – 5.0″ x 8.25″
Small – 3.5” x 5.5”
True A5 – 8.3″ x 5.8″

2 Paper Weights

100 gsm – available in A5, medium and large
78 gsm – available in small, medium and large

4 Color Options


What is new vs. old?

PAPER – In the past, all the Exceed journals were 78gsm paper with no coating (just a matte finish). However, the paper stock has been upgraded in both the 78gsm and 100gsm variation to include a slight coating on both weights – this helps to prevent bleed-through from wet inks or fineliner markers. The old paper had major bleeding with many of the pens I tested. But with the new paper style, bleeding is no longer an issue with the 78gsm paper. And when you look at the 100gsm paper, not only do you not have any bleed-through, but you also have very minimal ghosting for any of the pens I’ve tested. More on this below.

SIZE – There’s a whole new size option in the Exceed journal lineup. The A5 Dot Journal is new! However, they have kept the old size – which is now called Medium and is the same size as the Moleskine notebooks – which is slightly narrower than A5. I’m so glad that I was able to stress the importance of competing in the A5 size category because I think the new journal in this size is absolutely beautiful.

PAGE DESIGN – You’ll notice the addition of page numbers in the A5 Dot Journal, as well as four new Index Pages in the front.

LABEL & BRANDING – You can tell the difference between the old Exceed journals and the new journals by the label. There are still plenty of the old notebooks on shelves in Walmart stores, so be sure you’re getting the new version. This photo below shows the new branding — big, bold “Exceed” name across the entire width of the notebook. You can also clearly see the paper weight (78gsm or 100gsm) on the front cover label (the old journals don’t mention paper weight at all).

Exceed Journal Old vs New  

Exceed A5 Dotted Journal


  • Key Features: Great value for a quality journal
  • Size: True A5 – 8.3″ x 5.8″
  • CoverPU leatherette, hard
  • Bindingsewn binding
  • Lays Flat: Yes
  • Pages: 240 numbered pages + 4 index pages
  • Additional featuresbookmark (extra long), back pocket
  • Page styles availablelined | dotted | blank
  • Paper Quality: 100gsm | coated
  • Ghosting? Minimal
  • Bleeding? None
  • Feathering? None

This is a NEW size for the Exceed lineup of notebooks and the one I was most adamant about introducing. I’m glad they kept the narrower size but I’m super happy that we have a “true A5 size” journal with good quality paper …. and one that’s easily accessible in a local store at an amazing price. At only $8.64 for this one, you can’t beat the price.

This 100gsm paper is also available in the Large Soft Cover Notebook and the narrow Medium Hard Cover Notebook. The paper is the same and both sizes stand up to the full pen test in the same way as the A5. The photos below demonstrate the quality improvement of the paper. 

I’ve used a full range of pen types – fineliner markers, gel pens, ballpoint pens, fountain pen, water-based markers, highlighters … and just for fun, I even tested a Sharpie Marker! I fully expected the Sharpie to bleed through but I was surprised at how well it stood up to that tough test (Sharpies should NOT be used in these types of journals, they bleed through everything and you’ll be very sad if you use them in your journal). 

Exceed Hard Cover Dotted Notebooks 

Large | Medium | Small


  • Key Features: Great value for a quality journal
  • Size: 3 size options:
    Large – 7.5″ x 9.75″ (half-inch wider than B5)
    Medium – 5.0″ x 8.25″  (same as Moleskine)
    Small – 3.5” x 5.5” (same as Field Notes pocket notebooks)
  • CoverPU leatherette, hard (Large notebook is soft cover)
  • Bindingsewn binding
  • Lays Flat: Yes
  • Pages: 240 pages (not numbered)
  • Additional features: bookmark (extra long), back pocket
  • Page styles availablelined | dotted | blank
  • Paper Quality: 78gsm or 100gsm | coated
  • 78gsm Paper:
    – Ghosting? Yes
    – Bleeding? None
    – Feathering? None
  • 100gsm Paper:
     – Ghosting? Minimal
    – Bleeding?  None
    – Feathering? None

The photos below illustrate how the 78gsm paper stands up to the pen test. Even though this paper weight is the same as last year’s version of the Exceed Notebooks, the paper is SO MUCH BETTER!! It’s that slight coating they’ve added to the paper that makes all the difference.

Last year we had feathering, bleeding, and excessive ghosting – but this new paper is amazing! Yes, we have ghosting but not as bad as it used to be. And there is absolutely no bleed-through (except on the Sharpie, which we expected) and no feathering either. Wow! I’m seriously amazed by this paper. 

And the price is right! The prices are:

SMALL – 78gsm – $4.64
MEDIUM – 78gsm – $6.84 (for 100gsm it’s $2 more)
LARGE – 78gsm – $8.64 (for 100gsm it’s $2 more)

Let’s look at some pictures of the pen testing.

Hitting Stores Now!

The new Exceed Notebook line is hitting stores right now. My local Walmart only just got the full stock set up in the past couple days so you might need to check back over the next week or two if you don’t find it at your store yet. There appears to be limited stock available on the Walmart website, so grab it there if you can’t find the notebooks locally. Here are some photos from my local store (so you know what to look for). 

So what do you think?

Have you picked up your new notebooks from Walmart? Either in the store or online? I’d love to hear your impressions of the improvements. Do you have any other requests or ideas that I could pass along to my friends at Exceed that could make this lineup of notebooks even better?

The post NEW Exceed Dot Journal at Walmart Review appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Uniball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen Review

Uniball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen Review

Waterproof but not smudge proof?
Buy on Amazon

I wish this pen didn’t smudge!

There are so many things to love about the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 gel pen. In fact, I’ve been using it lately and really do love it. But there’s one major drawback that bugs me… the smudging. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s now a huge problem because I don’t normally drag my hand through the ink I just laid down, but if you’re a lefty, this would definitely be a problem. 

However, I was shocked when I did the smudge test – the results were quite interesting. The highlighter test didn’t fair well and all the highlighters I used resulted in smudging. The water test happened on a different day (I think it was 3 days later) and there was absolutely no smudging or smearing when I ran a wet paintbrush across the written word. Whoa! I hadn’t expected that. 

But as I’m writing this I started to grow skeptical (of course!) so I did another water test. I waited 30 seconds for the ink to dry and then ran a wet paintbrush over the words. Oops! Smearing like crazy! So I guess the lesson here is that the ink is waterproof but you have to wait a couple of days. Which is fine if you want your writing preserved and safe for future generations (or for your notebooks to survive floods). But if you’re an art journaler and need to add watercolor or other mixed media on top of your written word… you’re outta luck. 

The writing is SMOOTH and the ink saturation is nice and dark – exactly what I want in a pen. Plus, it’s a pen with a cap – which is my personal preference. Normally I’m annoyed with finger grips but for some reason, I’m not bothered by this one. Maybe because it fits nicely in my elastic pen loop better than a retractable pen with a finger grip does?

So many tip sizes (and colors) for the Signo!

If you’re someone (like me) who loves a super fine tip on a pen, this one is for you. I have tested the .38mm but there’s also a .25mm option if you want to go even smaller. But if you like things a bit fatter, you’ve got the .5mm size, also. And let’s not forget the amazing array of vivid colors. There are 31 color options and I love how saturated each one of the colors is. That’s all because of the pigmented gel ink which gives us lots of color options. I also love that they’ve named the colors AND include that name right on the pen itself. (See the full list below.)

What’s the difference between Uniball Signo UM-151 and Signo DX?

It took me some digging to finally realize that the two different names are actually the same pen. In Japan, it’s referred to as Signo DX but in the rest of the world, it’s the Signo UM-151. (Thanks JetPens for enlightening me on that!) It’s important to know this info just in case you come across a super great bargain from a Japanese pen seller, right?!

Stationery Nerd (only 90%) Approved

Overall, I love this pen! It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a super smooth writing experience in a lightweight pen. I think you’re going to love it too. I’m reserving the full-blown Stationery Nerd Approval rating because of the smudging issue. But if you take out the smudging issue, this pen is perfect. So it’s getting a 90% Approval Rating. 

I’ve listed all the other specs for this pen below.  But if you have questions on anything I might have missed, hit me up in the comments below and we can chat about it. Do you love this pen? How many of the 31 colors do you have? (I only have 19 but I’m thinking the rest of the set is going on my shopping list!)


Pen Specifications

  • Ink – water-based pigmented gel ink
  • Water Resist/Proof – yes, after 24 hours. Not immediately.
  • Waterproof Test – Applying water after 30 seconds gives major smudging. But after 24 hours, no smudging and becomes totally waterproof.
  • Tip Size –  .28mm  | .38mm  | .5mm
  • Structure – stick pen with cap
  • Clip Style – plastic clip on cap
  • Finger Grip – dimpled rubber
  • Construction – plastic body with a metal head
  • Finger Smudge Test – 8 seconds dry-time to no-smudge
  • Highlighter Test – smudges with all tested
  • Refillable – yes  | UMR-1
  • Color Options – 31 colors total

Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 (DX) Color Options:

  • Red
  • Baby Pink
  • Pure Pink
  • Pink
  • Light Pink
  • Bordeaux Black
  • Mandarin Orange
  • Orange
  • Golden Yellow
  • Yellow
  • Apple Green
  • Lime Green
  • Green
  • Emerald
  • Green Black
  • Blue Green
  • Sky Blue
  • Light Blue
  • Blue
  • Prussian Blue
  • Blue Black
  • Purple 1
  • Purple 2
  • Lilac
  • Brown
  • Khaki
  • Beige
  • Brown Black
  • Dark Gray
  • Gray
  • Black

Uni-Ball Signo UM-151 (DX) Pen Photo Gallery

Click on an image below to enlarge it …. so you, too, can inspect the greatness of this pen!

The post Uniball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen Review appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Pilot Juice Pen Review

Pilot Juice Pen Review

Juicy smooth writing experience.
Buy on Amazon

You’re going to love this pen!

Pilot did a great job of naming this pen … the writing experience really is “juice smooth” and it’s a joy to lay down ink on the page. And with 24 standard colors to choose from, plus another 18 specialty colors (metallic, pastel, fluorescent), you won’t need anything else to give you the array of color you need for your journal (Ha! yeah right, as if we’d only have one set of pens. Who am I trying to fool?) 

I purchased the 12-pack of standard color Pilot Juice Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens in .38mm tip size. The title of the pen is a bit confusing but let me break it down for you. “Gel Ink” refers to the type of ink being used in the pen itself, whereas “ballpoint pen” refers to the way that ink is delivered to the page when you write. Gel ink delivered with a ballpoint tip is thicker than gel ink delivered by a rollerball tip. Whoa! Nerdy, huh?

The ink in the Pilot Juice is a water-based pigmented gel ink. Because it’s a pigment ink you get a whopping 42 color options (dye-based inks are more limiting). I find that the inks are nicely saturated – not too light, not too dark. And the .38mm tip writes SO smoothly without any skipping or globbing (is that a word?).

I also do not have a problem with ghosting on any of the papers I’ve tried – 70gsm, 80gsm, 100gsm, Stalogy, and Tomoe River Paper. However, I’ve only tested the .38mm (so far) so if I get my hands on the 1.0mm or .7mm versions, I’ll do a test and update the results here. I suspect the larger tip size might be an issue on thinner paper. 

The ink dries quickly and after a second or two, there’s no smudging when I run my finger across the ink. However, this ink is not waterproof and doesn’t hold up to my water test (just a wet watercolor paintbrush), so if you plan to use this in a mixed media or art journal, keep that in mind before you add paint over your lettering. I’ve also tested the pen with various highlighters. It didn’t do well, unfortunately, and there’s a fair amount of smudging once you highlight over dried ink. 

Stationery Nerd ApprovedStationery Nerd Approved Seal

Overall, I love this pen! It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a super smooth writing experience in a lightweight pen. I think you’re going to love it too. It’s been researched, it’s been tested… it is Stationery Nerd Approved!

I’ve listed all the other specs for this pen below.  But if you have questions on anything I might have missed, hit me up in the comments below and we can chat about it. Do you love this pen? How many of the 42 colors do you have?

Pen Specifications

  • Ink – water-based pigmented gel ink
  • Water Resist/Proof – no
  • Tip Size –  .38mm  |  .5mm  |  .7mm  |  1.0mm
  • Structure – retractable / clicker
  • Clip Style – spring action
  • Finger Grip – dimpled rubber
  • Construction – plastic
  • Smudge Test – 2 seconds dry-time to no-smudge
  • Highlighter Test – smudges with all tested
  • Refillable – yes  |  LP2RF
  • Color Options – 42 colors total
    • 24 standard colors  – .38mm  |  .5mm
    • 21 standard colors –  .7mm
    • 8 standard colors –  1.0mm
    • 6 metallic colors – .5mm
    • 6 pastel colors – .5mm
    • 6 fluorescent colors – .5mm


Pilot Juice Pen Photo Gallery

Click on an image below to enlarge it …. so you, too, can inspect the greatness of this pen!

The post Pilot Juice Pen Review appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Year in Review – My Journaling was a Hot Mess in 2018

My journaling life was a hot mess in 2018. I started the year in a perfectly sane place but somewhere around April things went a little haywire. Let’s talk about it and I’ll show you a flip through.

As you know, I’m NOT a bullet journal purist and I don’t use my journal as my planner or calendar. The scheduled part of my life – work, business, personal – lives in Google Calendar and that’s where it will stay (probably forever). The analog part of my life is more about task management, project planning, tracking goals, and memory keeping.

If you’ve been around long enough, you also know that I have “shiny object syndrome” – which is a dangerous thing to have when you review stationery supplies. You don’t even know how many yummy journals and amazing pens I resist moving into every single day! So when I move into something new, you know it’s because I was weak and couldn’t resist the temptation.

All the Journals I Used in 2018

  1. A5 – Tekukor
  2. A6 – travelers notebook with Northbooks inserts
  3. B6 – Tekukor with Tomoe River paper
  4. B6 – Red Co. journal
  5. And I’ll tell you what’s happened so far in the first 20 days of 2019…

Mmm… that’s only four journals. That’s not so bad. Why does it feel so much worse?

Ha! I’ll tell you why. It’s because when I moved to a new journal, I didn’t fully leave the old journal. Granted, the list above only represents the journals that I actually moved into — not all the ones that were temptations or distractions along the way.

When you hear people talk about “Planner Peace” because they finally found their perfect planner/journal setup. Yeah, sounds like a dream come true, right? I can assure you that I do not have Planner Peace whatsoever.

OK, let’s break it down one-by-one and I’ll try to figure out what keeps making me change from one journal to the next.

Shiny Object Syndrome for Journals


I started 2018 perfectly content in my nearly-finished Tekukor from the previous year. I spent the first six weeks of 2018 finishing up the pages of that journal and moved into another Tekukor right afterward. That was around mid-February and I happily set up my new journal and jumped in with both feet.


But it wasn’t even a month into the new journal when I fell in love with the leather of the Doc A6 traveler’s notebook from The Leather Quill Shoppe. I bought one near the end of March. The leather really is lovely and I adore the way it feels. But I never really moved into this one … you’ll understand why in a moment.

Leather Quill Shoppe Doc


While I was waiting for my new Leather Quill to arrive in the mail I decided to dig into my old leatherworking stash and make a little passport size TN. I was really just playing and had a lot of fun. I took an old stiff scrap piece of leather and worked it into a soft and supple piece worthy of being a traveler’s notebook. This involved rolling the leather, beating it up with a hammer, rubbing coffee grounds into it to add color variations, taking a bit of fire to it around the edges… and then I wanted to see what would happen if I added some dye or ink to the leather. Needless to say, I was having a ball! I love the green ink and the softness of this one. It’s passport size so I really didn’t have a use for it – too small for anything I use. But it was fun to make!

Homemade Traveler's Notebook



It was about this time that my friend Amy from Tyrian Design was also playing with some new leather she had just purchased. She likes to play with leather as much as I do and she was experimenting with doing some stenciling on leather with StazeOn Inks. Of course, I wanted what she was making and I asked her to make one for me with just plain nude leather so I could play around with it to see how it patinas. It’s it adorable?!

Travelers Notebook by Tyrian Design



Then one day in early-April I innocently commented on an Instagram post that had a beautiful leather traveler’s notebook in the photo. I wanted to know who the maker of the journal was so I could file away that information for another day. Except then Melissa at @readingandcreating did the one thing that she should never have done to a weak soul like me — she told me it was for sale. Oh No! I was doomed immediately. Of course, I bought it immediately. It’s a Foxy Fix Rustic Kodiak in A6.


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In the time it took the new TN to arrive on my doorstep, I bought a new TN by October Day Creations. I have no explanation for this purchase other than it was pretty. I found it on Etsy and the price was great and I was tempted by the beautiful design and leather. I’m so weak. It took a while to arrive so by the time I received it, I was already moved into the Foxy Fix above. But it sure is pretty, isn’t it? (And Jack likes it too.)

October Day Travelers Notebook


Once the new Foxy Fix Rustic Kodiak arrived I was ready to move in and abandon the A5 system that I had been using for the past 2 years. I ordered a set of A6 Northbooks TN inserts, decorated the covers of each, and started using the new TN system right away.

Side Note:  We’ll talk about how I decorate TN insert covers in another blog post, but I know you’re going to ask – so I’ll answer before you have to. Most of the decorations I use on these covers are from a few Tim Holtz packs I have – plus a few things from AliExpress and plenty of scrapbook paper. 

I still had a bunch of collections and charts and project plans in the A5 but I stopped carrying it. Over time I came to realize I just needed to keep all those collections in the A5 but leave that journal at home and update things as I had to.

Decorating the covers of TN inserts

This new TN system was great! I hadn’t realized how much I missed being in a traveler’s notebook. Before I moved into a hardcover journal a few years ago, I had been a TN diehard fan. Back then it was the standard size for a long time. Then I moved into an A5 TN size for quite a while (a year or so?). The reason I moved to a hardcover journal was that I wanted my life to be housed in a more permanent-feeling book that could go on the bookcase shelf. TN inserts feel like ephemera – temporary or unimportant. Moving into a journal felt right when I did it a couple years ago.

But moving back into a traveler’s notebook made of gorgeous leather — have I mentioned how much I love the smell and feel of high-quality leather? — it just felts like coming home. I was happy. Life was grand.

Bullet journal in A6 travelers Notebook


It all happened on September 4, 2018, when I was innocently browsing Amazon and I came upon an amazing discovery. My beloved Tekukor notebook – still my favorite journal of all the journals I’ve reviewed – had a new brother. The Tekukor family was expanding and the newest member was a B6 Tekukor with Tomoe River paper.

It took me about 2.6 seconds to add the new Tekukor Tomoe to my cart and make the purchase. Two days later it arrived in the mail (thank you Amazon Prime) and it was love at first site. Or should I say love at first feel?Tekukor B6 Tomoe River Paper

I had always heard the raving reviews of the Tomoe River paper and how lovely it is. Fountain pen friendly, watercolor friendly, and when you write on it and paint on it or draw on it … it gets all crinkly and “lived in” feeling. The pages are delicate to the touch – similar to the paper you find in a Bible. But the Tomoe River paper is strong and resists any sort of bleeding and watercolor sits beautifully on the page without seeping through. Fountain pen ink sits on top of the page and creates the most amazing color variations with the ink that it just makes you want to write more and more and try all the different inks you own.

I started playing with watercolors and found it to be beautiful. And once there was some color on the page when you write over the color, there’s no longer ghosting from the writing.

Writing Scripture in Journal

Did I mention the ghosting of Tomoe River paper? It’s pretty bad. You know how much I hate ghosting. The paper is rated at 52gsm or 68gsm (the Tekukor journal has 52gsm). BUT – that weight isn’t really equal to normal paper because of the way this paper is made. I don’t know the science behind it. Just trust me that it’s different somehow. But I was living with it. I was surprised that I was OK with it, actually.

I started doing daily pages for task management, just like normal. But between the daily planning pages, I would want to write on the paper with my fountain pens. So I decided to start copying the Book of Proverbs from the Bible. I’d write a few pages, then I’d do a new planning page, then back to writing, etc. I would stay ahead of the days by adding watercolor to several pages at a time. It was my solution to better live with the ghosting. But also, the crinkly paper was addicting. I love the way the paper feels after it has watercolor on it.

Tomoe River Paper Ghosting

OK – so if I love this paper so much, why am I not using it anymore?

I haven’t mentioned the page count of this notebook, yet. There are 384 pages. Yes. You read that right. This thin notebook is packed with pages – enough that if I did nothing but do one page a day, it would last me the full year. The idea of that was enticing. But in the couple months, I was in this journal I had added a lot of bulk. A LOT of bulk. Those lovely crinkly pages were already making the book not close fully and I was pushing my artsy efforts just to see how much abuse this journal could take. It held up beautifully, actually. But in the 4 months I was using it I only made it through the first couple signatures of the book – barely scratching the surface of the full page count.

There was no way I would be able to make it the full year with all these watercolored crinkly pages. I considered tearing it apart, making TN inserts from the signatures and moving back into a traveler’s notebook. I considered skipping the watercolor and just going to plain gel ink pen. But the more I used it, the more I realized I didn’t think I could live with the ghosting if I stopped watercoloring the pages…. And I didn’t think the book would survive the whole year if I didn’t stop watercoloring.

Crinkly Watercolor Pages in Journal

So I made the hard decision to move to a new journal. I like the B6 size. I was actually surprised by that fact. So I went on a hunt for a new B6 journal.


I actually bought two journals in B6 size. Scribbles That Matter teal B6 journal and the Ocean Wave Blue by Red Co. Based on the specs of each journal I was fully expecting to move into the Scribbles for the new year.

Scribbles That Matter – 201 pages with 100gsm paper

Red Co. Journal – 240 pages with 80gsm paper

B6 Journals Scribbles, Red Co, Tekukor

Three B6 journals: Tekukor (left), Red Co. Journal (center), Scribbles that Matter (right)

However, I think the description of the Red Co. journal listing was wrong because this is most definitely not 80gsm paper. It stands up just as well (or maybe better?) than the Scribbles paper. So then it came down to color preference and how each journal felt in my hand. The Ocean Wave Blue journal by Red Co. won that challenge. I also loved that this journal comes in a dozen colors and styles to choose from whereas the Scribbles B6 comes in red or teal (neither of which would be my first choice).


The journals arrived on January 2nd and I made the decision to use Red Co a day later. So I moved in and got settled into a comfortable routine. I like the B6 size – it’s slightly smaller than A5 but slightly bigger than A6. I also love the paper in this journal. It’s substantial without being too thick and the dots are a soft gray so they don’t stand out or get in the way. The only thing I didn’t like about the journal was the 240 pages – it’s pretty fat – but I could overlook that for all the other positive parts of the journal. I started the journal with my 2019 Word of the Year pages.

My Word is Pause


As I’m writing this, it’s January 20. A week or so ago I was straightening my desk and put away my A6 Tekukor journal that I’ve been using as my swatching notebook. I set it aside to put on the other bookcase as I straightened some other papers on the desk. I just happened to set it down on top of my B6 Red Co notebook. A little while later I had them both in my hand and marveled at the difference in the feel of them. The smaller notebook was so comfortable and felt familiar again.

You can probably guess where this is going. Stay tuned…for the continuing saga of my elusive Planner Peace quest.

Cat + Journal Photo Outtakes

It’s always a battle with the kitties over who gets the photo table while I’m taking shots for these blog posts. Sometimes I win. Sometimes they win. Here’s Jack lording over the journals…

Cat with journals



The post Year in Review – My Journaling was a Hot Mess in 2018 appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Adding my 2019 Word of the Year to my Bullet Journal

I’ve chosen my 2019 Word of the Year and I want to make sure I display it in a place where I’ll see it often as a reminder throughout the year. Of course, my bullet journal is with me ALL the time and I’m “in it” dozens of times a day – so adding my Word of the Year to my bullet journal is the logical choice. So that’s what I did because that’s what nerds do… logical things.

Before we get into how I added my Word of the Year to my journal, let’s talk about which word I chose for 2019.

The last time we chatted about choosing a single word to guide your goals and actions for the year, I walked you through my process for how I pick the word. If you missed that article, go check it out here: “Choosing my Word of the Year

So I roughed out my goals for the year, brainstormed a list of possible words, lived with that list for a couple weeks … and now I’ve picked the word. The next step will be to finish setting those goals and action steps for the year, but that’ll come later since I do all that on my birthday instead of the start of the New Year (which means you can look forward to another article about that process in a month or so).

My Word for 2019 is…

One of my biggest goals for 2019 will be stress management and slowing down enough to catch my breath once in a while. I seem to have two modes: all-on or all-off. Or better known as full-on-hustle or drop-dead-exhaustion. There never seems to be a middle ground where I’m just coasting but still being productive. So that’s what I’m working on this year (and my chiropractor will be happy about that too).


The intentional inaction between hustle and exhaustion.
A temporary break in action.
Rest in the moment.
To linger for a time.

This simply means that I need to stop and sit quietly without distractions or activities. Just to sit and be present in the moment. Sort of like meditation, but with less meditating. Can I just sit still for 20 minutes a day?

Over the couple weeks, I’ve been working to put this word into practice. The first step is to remember that I want to pause. I get so caught up in checking things off the task list that I find myself at the end of the day only to realize that I never took the time to relax for a moment. So if step one is to remember to pause, step two is to actually do the pause and not push it aside because “I don’t have the time to pause.” Ha! The struggle is real, people!

The next hurdle is being able to sit still for 20 minutes at a time. So far I can make it about 5 minutes before I get too restless and need to get up and do something. Who knew it would be so hard to just sit and not do anything. No phone, no book, no music, no TV, no plotting or planning… just sit and breath.

Once I master the 20-minute pause, I’ll work up to full-day pauses. I mean, I do that pretty well already with a day trip to the beach. But interestingly when I hit the beach I always take a book with me (or my journal for planning or writing).

How I added my Word of the Year to my Bullet Journal

Let’s just start with acknowledging that I don’t draw. Notice I didn’t say “can’t draw” because I’m sure if I practiced and really worked at learning how to draw then it would totally be possible. I truly believe anyone can learn how to draw and be good at it. But I’ve never taken the time to put in the practice to get to that point. And yes, I’m a graphic designer who doesn’t draw. So to compensate for that, I find other ways to be creative while still making my bullet journal beautiful.

Printables to the rescue!

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you know that I love adding printed layouts to my bullet journal. I’ve used lots of different types of printables — ones I’ve designed myself, ones I’ve purchased from sellers on Etsy, and even things I clip from magazines and glue onto the pages of my journal.

Not long ago I launched the customizable Word of the Year printables in my shop so of course, I wanted to use one of those beautiful options. I picked the yellow watercolor mandala print and added my Word and what it means to me before printing. When I was ready to add it to my journal, I decided to use some watercolor paints and give the page a base of yellow to match the print. I’ve used scrapbook paper in the past and it works great, too.


To attach the printed page to my journal, I typically use double-sided craft tape, but glue sticks work great too. But my took of choice is a tape gun. At the start of my scrapbooking days, a dozen (or so) years ago, I bought a big 3M ATG 714 Industrial tape gun before they were even considered a crafting tool. I had to buy it from a warehouse supply company – you know, the types of business that sell pallet jacks and shipping boxes to warehouses who do mass shipping operations.

Nowadays you can get the same tape gun at every local craft store and it even comes in pretty colors – Scotch Tape Glider (such a friendlier name, too). My tape gun is probably the best crafting purchase I’ve ever made. I mean… it’s 12+ years later and I still use it almost every day.

One other big reason I love printables is the convenience of reprinting. A single notebook doesn’t last me the whole year of planning and it’s normal to move into a new journal 2 or 3 times during a single year. Each time I start a new journal, I reprint my Word of the Year page and add it to the beginning of the new journal. Not only does this save me from redrawing an elaborate illustration, but it’s also a way to bring consistency and familiarity into my new notebook.

This bright yellow print will follow me all year and become part of my life and mindset. I didn’t choose yellow lightly – it was a deliberate choice based on the mood I wanted that Word to bring to my journal. To me, yellow means happiness, a sense of peace and calm, sunshine and a bright sunny attitude. I’ll begin to associate this yellow print with my Word each time I flip by this page in my journal.

Keeping my Word of the Year front and center

By adding my Word of the Year print to my bullet journal I am able to keep that reminder front and center in my life all through the year. I carry my bullet journal with me everywhere I go. I open that notebook dozens of times during the day and flip by this page at least a couple times a day. This daily reminder helps to embed the word into my behavior and mindset even further.

Other options for keeping your Word of the Year at the forefront of your mind is to print it large and hang it in your home. You could add it to the living area of your home or near your desk or crafting area. The more you see it, the more fully it will become part of your mindset and daily intentions.

How do you honor your Word of the Year?

Do you have a page in your bullet journal or planner? Do you print it and hang it in a frame somewhere in your house? Do you have it tattooed or made into a t-shirt?

Share your experience with your Word of the Year in the comments. Let’s chat about ideas!

My Word is Pause


The post Adding my 2019 Word of the Year to my Bullet Journal appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Tracking a 30 Day No Spending Challenge in my Bullet Journal

Happy New Year! And welcome to January, the month when we all feel poor because of all the money we just spent on Christmas. It’s also the month when many bullet journalers and planners are starting a “No Spend” challenge to help get back on track with budgeting and wise financial decisions.

I admit that I treated myself to a few too many Christmas gifts — to me, from me. But I did a good job of sticking to my budget and only using cash for the holiday giving season. Cheers for leaving the credit card at home!

Last year was the first time I tried the No Spending Challenge in January and I admit it was pretty tough. I probably made it harder on myself because I threw in a few additional “challenges” alongside the no spending one. But at the end of it, I noticed a fresh new mindset about how I looked at money and impulse purchases (more on that in a moment). So I’m doing it again this January.

To be honest, I almost didn’t do it this year. I really only decided to jump on board the evening of December 30th … and promptly panicked about what I needed to buy before January 1st (like toilet paper and coffee). But even as I was out shopping for a few things yesterday, I realized that the no-spending mindset had already started to take root and I only bought the bare essentials.

Alright, enough jabbering about me, let’s talk about this challenge and what it all means… and how you can do it too.

30 Day No Spending Challenge

So how does this challenge work, anyway? Well…there’s the way everyone else does it, and then there’s the way that Pam does it. Honestly, there’s no right or wrong way to do this challenge.

These are the rules I’ve set for myself during the month-long No Spending Challenge.

It’s a very personal type of thing and you need to figure out what works for you, your family and your situation. Since I’m single and live alone (with two (needy) cats), my challenge will look a lot different than someone who has a large family. I’ve set some rules or general guidelines for myself – feel free to use any that might work for you too.

  • Track Everything

If it has anything to do with money, I’m tracking it. Even if it’s an allowable purchase, I want to keep track of everything penny that goes out of the bank account so I can evaluate my spending habits at the end of the challenge.

  • Essential Spending Only

This is where things can get muddy since “essential” is such a subjective word. For some people, the morning Starbucks run is essential. But for me, this means I’m only allowed to spend money on bills, gas/fuel, church donations, essential groceries, or emergency situations.

  • Pantry First & Grocery Guidelines

I tend to buy too many groceries for just one person so my pantry and freezer seem to be overflowing at times. It just so happens that right now it’s sort of ridiculous. So along with the spending freeze this month, I’m also doing a Pantry First Challenge. The only groceries I’ll buy are perishable healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, and dairy. Otherwise, it’s all from the pantry. However, if I happen to have at least half of the ingredients for a recipe in the pantry, I’m allowed to buy the other half from the store.

  • Track Resisted Temptations

The last time I did this no-spending challenge I was surprised at how often I was tempted by impulse purchases. So I started tracking “Resisted Temptations” and found it enlightening. I’ll do the same this time around. Anytime I almost accidentally buy something on Amazon – or even feel the need to “put it in my cart for later” but don’t buy the thing, it needs to go on the list.

  • Earn Extra Money

While I’m saving all this money by not buying stuff, why not work to make some extra money too? I have plenty of stuff in my house that I don’t use anymore but still has value and could bring in a few extra dollars (or hundreds). During the challenge, I’ll use eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace to bring in some extra money while getting rid of some clutter around the house.

  • Declutter & Donate

While I’m scavenging the house for stuff to sell, there will be plenty of stuff that’s not worth the effort of selling and just needs to be donated to charity. Whenever I make donations to a thrift shop, I keep a detailed log of what I donate and add it to my account at — which interfaces with my tax filing software. Tax deductions are a great way to save money in the long run on taxes, so this decluttering effort fits right in with the spending freeze challenge.

  • Planned Purchases

There are already a few things on the calendar that I know will require me to spend money that would normally not be allowed during a no-spend challenge. I’ve identified those specific instances and listed them in my journal. These purchases will be allowed because they’ve been planned for ahead of time.

No spending temptation log

I decided to track the things I wanted to buy but didn’t. Keeping them on a log helps me see how good I did at the end of the month.

What will I do with all the extra money?

Having a specific purpose for the extra money saved and earned at the end of the challenge is important to keep me on track. One of my big goals for this year is to fully fund my emergency fund (6 months of expenses). So it’ll be nice to start the year off with a large deposit to that account.

How Long is the No-Spend Challenge?

Each person is different and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people do no-spend days once per week and amazingly, there are some people who are even doing a no-spend year! Most people tend to do a month or a week at a time.

You’ll notice in the photos that I have the dates set for my challenge as January 1 through February 6. So why did I pick 37 days? This represents the first 10% (the tithe) of the year. The word “tithe” literally means “tenth” – it doesn’t refer only to money, but rather a tenth of whatever the thing is. So in my case, I’m offering the first tenth of my year to financial fasting. It’s a way to focus on the spiritual discipline of fasting, quiet devotion, and responsible obedience.

Of course, it’s also a great way to get them excessive spending of the Christmas holiday under control and start the year off on the right foot.

Spending Log

Tracking exactly what I’ve spent money on is important. Even if it’s an allowed expense, it goes on the list.

More No-Spend Challenge Bullet Journal Ideas

I’ve scoured the internet (ok, really just Instagram) and found some great page ideas for tracking your progress with your No Spend Challenge. Don’t just look at the pretty pictures here, go check out the profiles for these journalers and follow them while you’re there.


Are you taking the No Spending Challenge, too?

I’d love to hear how you’re doing with your own No-Spend challenge. Do you have similar rules to mine? What else are you trying that I haven’t mentioned? I’m always eager to learn new things and try something different next year.

One last thing…

Just in case you thought my job of publishing a blog post was easy, I want to show you how difficult it is to get a decent photo. This is Pounce, she really likes the bright lights over my desk and enjoys lounging under them… even if it means she’s in the way of my photo.

Pounce watching over my progress and making sure I buy cat food this month.

The post Tracking a 30 Day No Spending Challenge in my Bullet Journal appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

How to choose your β€œWord of the Year”

Personalized Word of the Year Printables

I’m excited to announce that I’ve just launched a new product in the shop — these personalized printables will include YOUR word of the year and what it means to you. See examples at the bottom of this article, or hop on over to the shop to check them out.

Custom Word of the Year Printable

How to choose your “Word of the Year”

Choosing a single word to shape your entire year is a concept I first began in 2007 – way back when Ali Edwards was the only one talking about it and she called it her “One Little Word.” I was inspired by the idea of uniting all my New Year’s resolutions, annual goals, and big plans for the year into a single word that would give me focus and a clear direction. Nowadays the concept of “Word of the Year” the hot new buzzword (buzzphrase?) and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and I’m so excited! If this is your first time choosing a word, hold on tight! I truly believe this is going to change your life!

If you’re like me and have been choosing a word for many years, I’d love to hear your story and how this practice has impacted your life, your goals, and your well-being. I spent some time digging through my old journals and blog posts (I’ve had a bunch o’ blogs over the years).

I’ve tried to recreate a list of the words I’ve chosen over the years. Twelve years of journals, scrapbooks, art projects, and blog posts later, my Word list is incomplete, but here are some of the words I’ve chosen over the years:

Create • Believe • Action • Be • Finish • Fun • Growth • Explore & Be Present • Stewardship

I am so passionate about choosing a single word to guide my goals, actions, mindset, and decisions throughout an entire year and now I’m thrilled to be sharing that experience with you. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a routine for how I choose my word and I hope you might get some ideas for your method too. My method for choosing a new Word of the Year happens in roughly this order:

  1. Annual review of this year’s goals, actions, and achievements
  2. Create a rough outline of what next year’s goals will be
  3. Start compiling a list of words that seem to fit with the goals outline
  4. Think. Pray. Meditate. Journal. Generally “noodle” about the list for a week or so.
  5. Pick my Word of the Year
  6. Set my goals for next year

I typically start this process around mid-December and spend some quiet time over the holidays to work on the decision. Quite often there’s a large gap of time between steps 5 and 6 because I don’t actually set all my annual goals until my birthday in February (more on that later). Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.

My Annual Review

I set goals in three areas of my life: personal, business, and career. So when it’s time to review the year and look back at how I did with those goals, I separate those three areas into their own review process. This is something I’ve tweaked and refined over the years and as you do it more often, you’ll figure out the best way to do it too. But here’s a quick overview.

> Personal Goals

My personal goals are exactly what you’d expect. Eat better, exercise more, learn new stuff, read more books, go on more vacations, and all the normal things we are continually improving in our lives year after year. And inevitably there are things that make the list that never gets done (like organizing my digital photo files) but often I’m pleased to look back and find how well I’ve done.

> Business Goals

Besides working my normal 9-5 job, I also run a small side business doing graphic design and brand management for small businesses. I’ve been downsizing this in the past year as I work to grow Stationery Nerd more and more (it’s so much more fun to play with paper and chat with all of you!). Because some of my past clients have needed help with general business coaching, I’ve had lots of practice helping others conduct an annual review of their businesses. I’ve been using this review process with clients (and myself) for the past several years, but last year I actually put it all together into an actual book and published it on Amazon. The Next 365: Annual Business Review and Planning Workbook.

> Career Goals

As much as I’d love to be a Stationery Nerd full time, that’s a long way off so every morning I clock into my 9-5 job as a graphic designer. As a designer, it’s important that I stay on top of the latest trends in design and keeping up with the new digital tools I use for my job. The goals on this list include a lot of educational or training types of goals, as well as always working to advance my career and remain a valuable part of my team.


Writing an Outline of your New Year Goals

The next step is starting an outline of my goals for the New Year. I never start with the detailed goals that I want to accomplish. Instead, I start with a rough outline. As I go through my annual review (above) it naturally becomes clear what I need to focus on for the next year so I jot down ideas throughout the process. I would guess I spend only 10-20 minutes on this step. Maybe less. Don’t over-analyze at this point. This outline is an important first step in figuring out what my Word of the Year will be. My outline might look something like this — just some thoughts scribbled down on paper to get my mind moving in the right direction. When I say rough, I mean rough. Don’t get carried away. The list you see below is my actual outline. And yes, I make little notes in the margins as I think through this list and need to add ideas or additional information to consider. 


Writing a List of Possible Words

Once I have a general idea of what I want my goals to be for the next year, I start to brainstorm some words that might fit all of those goals. This list might take a week or two to compile. As I think of words I just add them to the list. Over time I’ll cross some off because they don’t feel right. Once I have a few solid possibilities it’s time to just go about my life for a couple weeks and let that list marinate in my head. I spend some time reviewing the list every couple of days (just a few minutes) and think about the words, cross some off, add some new ideas. I pray about it. Meditate or journal while I think about how each word might affect my year ahead. Some years it’s easier than others. There have been times when I knew my word without ever making a list but there have been times when I agonize over picking just the right word and it takes weeks. Because I know that choosing One Little Word that will guy my year that giving this step the thoughtful consideration it deserves is one of the most important parts of this process.

Time to Pick your Word of the Year

Once you have your word you’ll know it’s right because it feels right. But don’t worry about it being perfect. If you get to the middle of the year and that word you picked no longer applies to your life or goals – it’s perfectly alright to pick a different word. In fact, there are many people who choose a new word at the start of each new month. I have a friend who chooses a list of 12 words to guide her year – one for each month. They usually relate to each other or to the seasons of the year or to the things happening in her family’s life during each month. For instance, January might “renew” and June might be “play” and December might be “connection.”

Setting Goals for the Year Based on Your Word

The final step is to fill out the details of my goals on that initial outline. Each area of my life gets some dedicated time to solidify what I want to work on in the new year. Once my goals are set, I fill in “action items” for each goal. In fact, when my list is finished the list is literally called “Goals & Actions” and I refer to it often throughout the year. The goals on my list can be further broken down into monthly goals and then into action items (tasks) for each week.

One of the things that drive me to continue working on these big annual goals is this formula: 20 minutes every day on a single project equal 120 hours in a year.

20 minutes per day  X  365 days = 120 hours

Imagine how successful you will be at achieving your goals if you just commit to spending 20 minutes each day on that goal. As I’m writing my goals and creating my action list, I work hard to figure out how my Word of the Year relates to each goal on the list. Can I adjust my goal to more fully reflect my overall intent of what that word means to me? Or can I expand the meaning of my word to more closely reflect my goals?

Making Art out of my Word of the Year

For the past several years I’ve taken the time to create some type of art piece with my Word of the Year being the focal point. I like to include a definition of the word and what it means to me as well as a quote or saying. Whether I frame it and hang it in my home (usually near my desk) or print a copy to add to my journal or planner. It’s important to keep that word at the forefront of your routines. If you hide it away and forget about it, there’s no way it can have an impact on your life like what I have experienced. That’s why I’ve decided to offer Custom Word of the Year prints in my shop. By helping you create a piece of art using your word, your definition or meaning of that word, and a favorite quote – not only do I get to play with fun design projects, but I also love the idea of helping you achieve your goals. SLIDER

Need Ideas for your Word of the Year?

I’ll be adding to this list as I hear of more great ideas or examples of words and their meanings. Feel free to use any of these for your own word. Do you see that inspires you? I’d love to hear what your plans are this year. Leave a comment below and let’s chat.

Word of the Year

– ideas –


 If you like one of these and want it added to a design in the “Custom Word of the Year” designs, just make a note in your order that you want to use these words. Got an idea to add to the list? Drop me a comment below. 



There are no limits on the extraordinary life you desire. Acknowledging the good that you already have inside you is the foundation of abundance.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tun into.”
-Wayne Dyer



Courageous endurance. Warrior-like behavior. Feelings of courage in the face of difficult situations.

 “Bravery is the ability to look fear and hurt in the face and say move aside, you’re in my way.”



The faith in one’s own judgment, ability, and power. A secure hope and trust in myself.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

-Maya Angelou



Strength in the face of fear. An expression of boldness and confidence. The ability to do something that frightens you.

“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to follow them.”



Life’s most precious gift. A group who dreams, laughs, plays, and loves together. The perfect mix
of chaos & love.

“Like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions, but our roots will always keep us together.”



Showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. And one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire. Her passion burned brighter than her fears.

“Her soul is fierce. Her heart is brave. Her mind is strong.”
– R.H. Sin



Directing my attention, effort, and energy toward a specific and clear goal. The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

“Where focus goes, energy flows.”
– Tony Robbins



I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. The gift of kindness that is not earned or deserved. Courage is grace under pressure.

“Grace replaces the broken record of guilt with a new melody.”
– Rebecca Barlow Jordan



Transforming myself through intentional action, love, creativity, and self-awareness.

“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered with darkness, and struggle to reach the light.”
-Sandra Kring



Happiness is a state of mind. The search stops the moment you decide to be happy and grateful for what you already have. Do more of what makes you happy.

“Surround yourself with people, color, sounds, and work that nourish you.”



The art of creating an atmosphere of intimacy, warmth, and coziness that creates a feeling of contentment. Early sunsets. Warm tea. Big Sweaters. Twinkling candles.

“Hygge was never meant to be translated, it was meant to be felt.”
– Tovemaren Stakkestad



An awareness of the current moment without judgment. Being fully present. Mindfulness is being compassionate with yourself.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”
– Sharon Saltzberg



Engage in creative activities for pure enjoyment. Run, jump & twirl. Relax, laugh, be silly & have fun.

“Play turns out to be so stunningly essential, it’s like love, sunshine & broccoli all juiced together.”



The display of brightness reflected from the light of another source. We are not meant to hide the
light that has been given to us.

“As we let our light shine, we give other people permission to do the same.”
– Nelson Mandela



Eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak. Simplicity is not about having less. It’s about having more.




Her heart belongs to the world. She loves and lives without borders. It is when she wanders that she is most at home.

“Never let your mind tell your heart not to wander.”



Living a fulfilled life through positive change and dynamic growth.  Practice self-care. Pamper yourself.  Love the life you live.

“She made a promise to herself to hold her own well-being sacred.”

The post How to choose your “Word of the Year” appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Using My Bullet Journal to do a Brain Dump


Read Time: 30 minutes

This article covers a lot of information about various types of Brain Dump techniques. If you prefer to only read the sections that interest you, just click a link below to jump to the section you want to review. Then use the gray “back to top” arrow on the right side of your screen to come back to this Table of Contents to begin again.


When my brain gets cluttered and I start to feel overwhelmed and restless; when I have trouble focusing on today’s tasks because my brain keeps running through a list of all the other things I need to accomplish on other days; when I get grumpy and start to snap at people, I know it’s time for a brain dump. It’s time to declutter my brain so I can think clearly again.

I hear the term “brain dump” thrown around in the bullet journal community and I have a few observations from these discussions:

  • There are lots of people who have no idea what a brain dump even is
  • There seems to be angst around the term “dump” and people want a different term
  • There are dozens of different ways to do a brain dump

So in true nerdy fashion, we’re going to cover ALL the things and dig in deep into this whole brain dump topic. Ready? Let’s go!

What is a “Brain Dump?”

The Brain Dump is a process where you allow all the cluttered thoughts in your brain to be written down on paper – to get it out of your head and in some type of tangible form that can later be tackled as a task list.

I also like the definition I found on Wikipedia: The transfer of a large quantity of information from one place to another for future retrieval or reference.

Brain Dump vs Brainstorm

Let’s also cover the difference between a “brain dump” and “brainstorming.” I see these two terms used interchangeably but I believe they are two completely different concepts. We’re going to focus on the Brain Dump (if you want me to cover “Brainstorming in your Bullet Journal” – let me know in the comments and we can explore that another time).

Brain Dump is a list or other stream of consciousness collection of all the thoughts/ideas/tasks in your brain. It is designed to clear up that precious mental real estate.

Brainstorming is a focused exploration of a single idea/concept or ideas/concepts wherein you explore ideas from one topic or group of topics.

Your brain is a junk drawer

You know when you’re on a house cleaning rampage and you get to that one drawer in the kitchen. The junk drawer. The one drawer filled with crap that doesn’t have a home and you’re often afraid to even open it because you know stuff will start spilling out of it. You think about cleaning it but put it off until next time. Again. And again. And again.

Then one day you get brave (or fed up) and decide to pull the whole damn drawer out of the cabinet and just DUMP it upside down and all that clutter and crap is in a big pile on the floor.

You can’t even begin to start cleaning and organizing that drawer until you first dump it all out and get it all out into the open. There’s so much miscellaneous stuff that’s been hiding in the crevices for years. You can’t sort and clean what you can’t see.

The only way to get through all that mess is to first figure out what’s there and sort it all out. Then you’re able to throw out the stuff that’s junk and organize the stuff you need to keep. Maybe there is a pile of stuff that needs to go somewhere else, some stuff that needs action, some stuff needs to be cataloged and organized – each of those things needs to be sorted into different piles. Once the big messy pile of junk is sorted into piles, you start to take action on each of those piles.

Throw out the garbage. Take action on the things that need immediate attention. Store the rest in neat and orderly bins so you can find what you’re looking for next time you need to find it. It takes some work and some time, but once your junk drawer is clean and organized, it works so much better.

  • Replace “junk drawer” with brain.
  • Replace “junk” with thoughts, tasks, errands, worries, projects, etc.

junk drawer

David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, reminds us that “our brain is a thinking tool, not a storage device.” The human mind is terrible at storage. In fact, there are estimates from various scientific studies that the suggests the average adult has anywhere between 20,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. What?! No way can I keep track of all that!

Why do we need a Brain Dump?

Your brain is not meant to be a hard drive, it’s meant for processing information and then create an action based on that information. So we can’t expect it to hold all our to-do lists indefinitely and still be able to efficiently process the daily stuff the brain is responsible for (like keeping us alive and alert). Here’s a fascinating article written by Robert Epstein entitled “The Empty Brain: Your Brain is not a Computer.

I’m a list person. I write everything on a list or add it to my calendar. If it’s not written down, I forget it. But that only applies to things that I know I have to accomplish right away – like this week’s grocery shopping list or a reminder on my calendar to pick up the dry cleaning on Thursday. Stuff like that always gets put on the list. But it’s all the other “stuff” that accumulates and starts to add clutter that needs to be cleared out to keep my brain running at pique processing speed.

A Brain Dump is for those jumbled thoughts that aren’t really ready for a formal to-do list just yet but are getting too close to the surface of our mindfulness that they’re causing problems with focusing on today’s tasks. Or things that are so far buried in your consciousness that they just seem to live in a dark corner of your brain, but they need to be shaken free and released to give you some peace and also to give you a starting point for dealing with them.

A Brain Dump can be used in any number of ways:

  • To make a goal list -– or a bucket list – of things you want to accomplish.
  • To make a task list of how you’ll accomplish a specific goal.
  • To purge jumbled emotional thoughts that are causing mental stress.
  • For project planning that have many lists of tasks to juggle (great for event planning or vacations).
  • Or you can combine all the above (and whatever else you can think of) into one huge Brain Dump list that has no specific theme or purpose… but is a jumbled mess of items that are cluttering your mind and need to be released. This is the most common type of Brain Dump and the one I like the best.

Alternative terms for Brain Dump

I’m actually amazed at the number of possible alternative terms for “brain dump” – a lot of people have a problem with the word dump. Yes, kids on the playground in elementary school have long used the term to refer to poop, doo-doo, number-two, crap, poo-poo, sh*t …. ok, I’ll stop now. But if you really need to do some research into this topic, there are resources available (because you can find everything on the internet – and yes, I just did a Google search for synonyms for poop. SMH) Moving on…

I personally like the term brain dump. Maybe because the visual I have in my mind is that of a junk drawer being dumped out so the contents can be sorted. I’ll continue to use it throughout this article because I think it’s a great term. But…

In the bullet journal community it’s common to have long discussion threads with dozens (or hundreds) of ideas for what to call it besides brain dump. As I was working on this article, of course I started collecting a list of these terms. I’m happy to share the list with you.

  • Brain download
  • Brain backup
  • Brain drain
  • Brain spillage
  • Brain bucket
  • Brain attic
    as described in 
    Sherlock Holmes
  • Cerebral landfill
  • Cerebral unburdening
  • Cranial crap
  • Mind Sweep
    term used by 
    David Allen
  • Mind decluttering
  • Mind purge
  • Mind grapes
  • Mind musings
  • Mind overflow
  • Thought catcher
  • Thought garden
  • Thought purge
  • Thought map
  • Pensieve
    (for fans of
    Harry Potter)
  • RAM dump
  • External mind memory
  • File download
  • Blue screen of death
  • Emptying the trash
  • Madness management
  • Stuff list

A Brain Dump Page in your Bullet Journal

I have been doing some form of a brain dump for the past 20 years or so. In fact, I first learned the term from one of my former bosses. I was the secretary / office manager / chief cook and bottle washer – and he was the managing director. We were an office of two. He loved doing his brain dumps verbally while he was driving. This was back in the day when secretaries still typed dictation from a tape recorder. So I would transcribe his spoken brain dump into a big list of bullet points that he would sort and organize later. This would happen just two or three times a year.

After learning his method, I started doing it myself. But over the years I’ve refined my method by using bits and pieces of various techniques I read about or hear from other people. I’m going to teach my brain dump method to you today.

Weekly or Monthly Brain Dump Page

But first, I want to talk about what other people are doing in the bullet journaling and planning community. It’s normal for people to set up a “brain dump page” as part of their weekly or monthly planning. Just a title along the top and then space to write random thoughts, tasks or tidbits of information that happen over the course of that week or month.

I’ve collected a few images from Instagram to show you what other people are doing. I’d love to know if you use this method in your journal. Drop a comment below and let me know what you do.

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Morning Pages + Brain Dump

I can’t do a weekly or monthly brain dump page in my journal. In fact, I think of my daily task lists as the place where those random thoughts need to live. I keep a “Master Task List” page in my journal so I can write down the tasks that don’t have a specific deadline and can be done anytime.

I also do a lot of journaling to keep my brain clear and my emotional health in check. Specifically I do the Morning Pages method of journaling based on Julia Cameron’s method from The Artist Way book. The idea is that you write several pages every morning as your very first thing when you wake up. You clear all those random thoughts from your mind by using stream of consciousness writing to get stuff down on paper.

I started writing Morning Pages in July 2016 and it’s changed my life! I’m more self-aware, more emotionally and mentally healthy, more intuned with my inner voice, and more apt to take action on the dreams and passions that interest me. If you want me to talk more about my Morning Pages routine and how I use my journal for this type of writing, drop me a comment below and let me know if that’s something you’d like to hear about.

Because my Morning Pages takes care of most of the cluttered thoughts every day, I don’t need to do a brain dump as often as I used to. Two or three times a year is plenty for me. BUT… my method is different than many others, which is why a couple times a year is enough.

Pam’s Brain Dump Method

As of this writing, I just finished a brain dump that took me eight days to complete and now fills 10 pages of my bullet journal.

I’ll share some photos with you, but know that some of the things on this list are private and not intended for the entire world to see so you’ll see various things on the list covered up.

There are five steps in this method. It should take you about 7 to 10 days to complete. Don’t rush this process. The fact that this takes 7 to 10 days to complete is one of the most important parts of the method and why it works so well.

  • Preparation
  • Spend 1 week writing a list 
  • Close the book and don’t look at the list for 2-3 days.
  • Review the list.  Add to it if you need to.
  • Sort each bulleted item into a category.
  • Take action on the action items.

Step 0: Preparation is the Key to Success

That quote is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell, and it’s just as important now as it was in the late 1800’s. Before you even start this brain dump process, you need to get ready.

Because I only do one of these big brain dump sessions once or twice a year, I like to make sure I’m truly ready to begin. I don’t take this lightly because I know it’s going to be a lot of work and require a lot of mental energy. Once I begin, I can’t stop the train!

David Allen Trigger List

I underline the items on the Trigger List that reminds me I need to add these types of items to my Brain Dump list.

Here’s how I prepare:

  • Make sure I have enough time to complete the brain dump. I check my calendar and ensure I have a bit of time each day for the next 10 days clear so I can devote anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes a day on my list.
  • Decide where I’m going to be writing down the brain dump list. Will it be in a separate notebook? In my bullet journal or planner? Identify the location and then block off several pages (my last brain dump took up 10 pages … but I’ve had them take up twice that many at times). It’s best if you can keep an entire section blocked off and together for this rather than fitting it in between pages of other things in your bullet journal.
  • Mentally prepare yourself. I like to read through the “Incompletion Trigger List” developed by David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done.” Allen calls this process a Mind Sweet and gives you dozens of areas of your life to think about as you’re making your list. He separates the list by personal (your personal life) and professional (your job life).

    First I print a copy of his Trigger List (download it for free on his website) and just read through the list the evening before I start my brain dump. I say evening because if you input information into your brain just before you go to bed, your subconscious will take over and start prepping things for you. I don’t go off this list while I’m doing a brain dump, but I do keep a copy of it folded in the back cover of my notebook so I can look through the list over the next week (usually before bed) to refresh my memory of anything I need to deal with tomorrow. I go through and highlight or mark some of the items on the list that I know are on my mind.

And that’s it. Once you have those few things lined up and ready, you can go on to Step 1.

Step 1: Write the List (the actual brain dump)

You’ll need a notebook with several pages for this step. Some people prefer to dedicate a completely separate journal that is only used for this kind of a brain dump. I prefer to do it right inside my bullet journal. I just turned to the next available blank page and began. I knew I would need a dozen pages or more, so I just reserved that many pages all in a row because I wanted to keep it all together.

Now it’s time to write. The first day I like to set aside an hour total. I set a timer for 30 minutes and just start writing a list of stuff. Then later in the day or evening, I set the timer again for another 30 minutes. After that first day, I don’t set a timer for my brain dump session, but I tend to spend about 15-25 minutes each day after for the rest of the week.

The most important part of this step is the “dump” — visualize the jumbled mess of the junk drawer in your kitchen and what the contents would look like if you dumped the whole drawer onto the floor. It’s a pile of mismatched things that don’t go together and they certainly didn’t land on the floor in nice neat piles of like items. So your brain dump needs to look like this:

  • Bulleted List — two to five words or a short phrase for each bullet.
  • Jumbled List — don’t worry about sorting your thoughts, just write whatever comes to mind on the next line.
  • Uncensored List — write down EVERYTHING – do not censor yourself, don’t analyze what you’re writing, don’t judge yourself for what is on the list. Just write. Everything. Yes, every single thing that comes to your brain, write it down.
  • Long List — don’t worry about how many pages you’re using, just keep writing and writing and writing.

If you suddenly remember that you need to change the lightbulb in your closet in the middle of your Brain Dump list, write it down – because if you let it linger in your head it will just become a distraction, but writing it down removes it from your brain and lets you move on. Your list might have a series of tasks you need to do around the house, right next to a random thought about taking a bubble bath to relax, right next to a thought that you really want to try out the new Italian restaurant in town, right next to a grocery list. You’ll be sorting the list later, so don’t worry about what goes on the list right now. Just write.

Brain Dump List

This picture was taken after I categorized the list. During the Brain Dump, just “rapid log” things onto the list – no sorting yet.

During this step DO NOT read the list. Don’t go back and review what you did the day before. Just continue adding to the bottom of the list for the next several days. To recap:

  • One thought, task or idea per bullet point
  • Speed is essential. Write as fast as you can (but still be able to read your handwriting after this is done) and get as many thoughts out as possible.
  • Do not organize your thoughts. Bullet points should flow one right after another in no specific order. If thoughts are coming to you in random order, then write them down in random order.
  • Do not keep multiple lists for various thought processes. Just write everything down in one big long list down the page.
  • Write until your brain is clear and you can’t think of anything else to write down. You should sit quietly for several minutes after you think you’re done in case any additional thoughts come to mind. Do not rush this part… write for as long as it takes to clear your mind. Yes, it might take several hours or several days.

Step 2: Let the List Rest

So it’s been about a week and I know that I’m done writing when I start to repeat stuff. Not that I’m looking back at the previous parts of the list, but when I write something down and I think to myself … “I think I’ve written this four times now.” When you are no longer writing down new stuff, it’s time to call it done.

  • Then close the notebook and walk away.
  • Do not open the notebook again for the rest of the day. Leave it alone. Put it in a drawer if you must. Don’t you dare open that notebook!
  • Don’t open the notebook or look at the list for at least 24 hours (preferably 48 hours)
  • If you’ve used your everyday bullet journal for this list, just clip those pages together so you won’t be tempted to look through the list.
  • If you happen to think of other things that need to go on the Brain Dump list you should write it on a different piece of paper and add it to your notebook later.
  • Set a date with yourself to review your list. It should be no less than 24 hours after the final bullet point was written. Preferably you let it sit for several days.

After you finish the initial Brain Dumping process, something amazing happens.

You have peace. Suddenly your brain is not screaming at you with a million jumbled thoughts and ideas and goals and obligations. You’ve released all those thoughts and they are now down on paper – safely held within your notebook. You’re not going to forget any of the things that used to clutter up your brain, they’re all written down now. So take advantage of this peace you’ve given yourself. Be kind and pamper yourself with something nice (a bubble bath, a manicure, a new album by your favorite artist or do what I did and just sit and watch the sunset and enjoy the beauty of the day). Relax in the feeling of a clear mind.

Step 3: Sort and Organize

Now that you’ve got this big long list of stuff you’ve dumped out of your brain, it’s time to do something with all those bullet points. Yep, it’s time to analyze and sort the list and figure out which things need action and which can be trashed. There will be plenty of trash on this list. I find my list is about 70% trash and 30% action items. The only way to figure out which is which is to read through every line and code it in some way. You could create some type of symbol system for yourself, but I tend to just use colors.

Color code system

After reviewing the list, I created a color coding system based on the big categories I wrote down during the Brain Dump.

Taking out the trash. I go through with my gray highlighter (the color I use in my everyday planning for tasks I didn’t do or don’t need to pay attention to any longer) and cross off the things on the list that are trash. I mean, it’s not like my thoughts are all garbage, but there will be things on the list that don’t need an action, don’t need further introspection, and don’t need to be in my brain… so being able to cross them off the list is therapeutic.  

Find the tasks.  This is not a neat and tidy list of tasks already sorted into categories, so you’ll need to do that part next. I go through the list and get a sense of the general categories of the tasks I’ve written. There are usually about 5 or 6. Add a symbol or colored dot next to all tasks on the list (don’t worry about category just yet, just identify the items that need action). In my most recent brain dump, these are the categories I identified:

  • House
  • Health & Routine
  • Finances
  • Work (day job)
  • Stationery Nerd
  • Tremble Creative Services (my freelance biz)
  • Miscellaneous
  • Shopping list (this just goes onto my daily bullet journal shopping list)

Write task lists. On the next blank page after the big brain dump list, divide the two-page spread into boxes – one for each category. Give each box a title. Then start copying tasks off the big list and placing them into the box where they belong. You’ll find that you probably wrote the same task several times or at least in some variation of it.

For instance, I have some home repair projects on the list (leftover from the restoration project after major water damage in a part of the house). There are 3 rooms in the house that need some sort of trim work finished in each room. That single tasks – “finish trim work” – is on my list no less than 7 times in some way or another.

  • Finish crown molding in the bathroom (this was on the list 3 times!)
  • Reattach door molding on the patio door
  • Install baseboard in living room
  • Add corner molding to the hallway
  • Install corner round molding at kitchen cabinet base

So instead of writing all 7 of those individual tasks on my action list… I just added it as a single item of “finish trim work.”  Consolidating multiple related tasks from the brain dump page will streamline your action items on the categorized task list.

Identify the Angst. Don’t you just love the word “angst?” The definition of the word I hold on to has the addition of “hope” because it implies that the emotion is something that can be overcome.

ANGST: a persistent feeling of worry, about a seemingly impossible situation or struggle but there’s an underlying sense of hope of overcoming the situation. Without the important element of hope, the emotion becomes anxiety.

Inevitability as you write the brain dump list you’re going to have a number of emotional items on the list. These items aren’t garbage or tasks, so you can’t ignore them and you can’t move them to an action list. So you need to deal with them in some way. I like to create a separate list for this type of stuff. It essentially becomes a Journaling Prompt type of list. I’ll pull something off that Angst List and write about it during my Morning Pages routine. This type of stuff never gets solved in a single journaling session, so the stuff on this part of the list is an ongoing project of self-development and awareness.

Of course, if you discover that there are too many items on this Angst List and you are overwhelmed with the magnitude of the mental work you need to take to deal with it, it might be a good idea to seek professional help. Or even the help of a mentor or trusted friend could help you talk through some of these emotional burdens. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t leave it on the list unattended. Take action on these struggles and work through them one by one. You’ll be happier for it! I talk more about making a Targeted Brain Dump list for emotional journaling in a section below.

Everything Else: By this time your big brain dump list is probably 99% sorted. Maybe there are a few stragglers on the list that don’t exactly fit together in any way. Gather these up and make a new list of these items and work through them one by one. For instance, on my recent brain dump, I found a few things that I put on a “future journaling” list. See the section below about what it means to do an Emotional Brain Dump – that’s what these few journaling prompts were for me. 

Cross stuff off the Brain Dump list as you transfer them to the category lists and keep going until you are done.

How to get things done

Now that everything is categorized you have a working action list. I like to pull one or two things off this list and add them to my daily task list and cross them off of this master list as I complete them. It’s entirely possible that it’ll take months to get through everything on the list. But keep referring back to it each week so you can chip away at it. The more actively you work at finishing these things and give your brain a clean slate for new things, the more productive you’ll be overall. I find that a big brain dump like this every 6-8 months is enough to keep me on track.

Color code system

This is what my sorted and organized list looks like once I transfer everything from the main list.

Targeted Brain Dump Method

Sometimes a big, all-inclusive brain dump is not what you need. Sometimes a more targeted brain dump is what will help you clear all that mental clutter. I’m just going to cover the two most common that I know about, but the possibilities here are endless. These two methods sort of dip their toe into the “brainstorming” waters and might actually be called a combination of a brain dump and brainstorming. In my mind, it makes sense to cover these here, so… well, here they are!

The Project Planning Brain Dump

When you’re planning a big event, a whole business strategy, vacation, or project … you’ll likely need to do a brain dump that’s more targeted at project planning that all relate to that single big thing. You’ll follow the steps in “Pam’s Brain Dump Method” to create a big jumbled list of things that all relate to that project over the course of several days. Then when you finish writing the initial list, you’ll go through the list and identify key tasks or actions, and then all the sub-tasks that help you complete that item.

For example, if you’re planning a wedding, one task might be “buy wedding dress” but the sub-tasks in that category might include:


  • Research dress shops to visit
  • Make dress shopping appointments
  • Invite Mom and bridesmaids to shopping appointments
  • Try on dresses
  • Find the perfect dress
  • Arrange alterations and fittings schedule
  • Arrange dress storage until the week of the wedding
  • Arrange final fitting and dress pickup week of the wedding
  • Store dress at Mom’s house
  • Wear the dress and get married!

But as you’re making the initial brain dump list, that organized list of tasks that fall perfectly in the order that things need to be done will likely be scattered over several pages in a jumbled mess of random thoughts. You don’t need to organize the individual tasks and subtasks until you get all the clutter out of your brain first. Then as you start to create these types of mini-project lists, you’ll begin to think about which order tasks need to be done in and fill in the blanks for anything you might have missed initially.

You can organize the tasks on each list in priority order or in groups of like tasks. It might also be a good idea to decide which items need to be done right away and which things can be put off for several weeks or longer.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do them all at once – that would defeat the purpose of the Brain Dump process. Instead, determine which things are most important and start there. You might want to mark priority tasks with a red star or something that works for you.

The Emotional Turmoil Brain Dump List

When there’s a lot of emotional crap rolling around in my head, it’s time to dump all that clutter out and onto paper. This type of list usually ends up being journaling prompts – either for my Morning Pages (as I talked about above) or in my normal diary-style journal. When I do this kind of brain dump, it’s usually because doing a full blown brain dump is just too overwhelming. Most of the time once I finish with an emotional dump, I have enough clear space to do a normal brain dump.

So these are never easy because I have to actually face the things that I’m normally avoiding. Big worries, big philosophical topics, big life decisions, big goals or big pivots in my goals or some other type of big change that needs to be made in my life. I still use the same method of making the list as I do with a normal brain dump, but with one big twist.

I normally find that I will write down a big worry or problem. Like “am I happy?” But that topic is too big, right? So it just stay on that topic for a few minutes and start writing a list of bullet points under that big topic. Just a few words per bullet point, but the point is to explore that main topic and break it down into smaller worries. So that list might look like this:


  • What does happiness mean to me?
  • Am I happy with my relationships?
  • Do I enjoy my job?
  • Am I happy with my health?
  • What do I cherish most?
  • Do I laugh enough?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • Do I have a trusted confidante?

As you can see, the key is to explore some of the things that lead up to the initial question. You aren’t looking for answers right now, you’re just looking for which questions to ask to help you discover the answer later. Don’t spend too long brainstorming areas to explore for each big question or worry. Just spend a few minutes, then move on to the next thing that’s on your mind.

You’ll likely need to come back to this list several times over the next week before you can feel like it’s ready for action. Once you have a finished list, it’s time to deal with the items on the list one by one.

And this is where I do something different once the list is finished.

DO NOT rearrange the list or try to organize it in any way. In fact, don’t even read the list. Just let it live on paper the way it was created. The order doesn’t matter. When you’re ready for your first journaling session, just take the first item on the list and write it down on a new sheet of paper or a new page in your journal. Then close the original list and don’t look at it again. Right now your only concern is that single item.

Set a timeframe for you to work on this single item. It could be a day or two or it could be a week or more – depending on the nature of that item and how much time you’ll devote to this process each day. Explore your thoughts and feelings about this single item and journal as much as you need to. Meditate on the solution, write out your feelings, talk about it with a loved one if that’s appropriate. Do whatever you need to do in order to get this one single issue resolved or at least resolved enough that you feel like it’s no longer a heavy weight on your shoulders that’s keeping you from living the life you want.

Once you are “finished” with that single item – end it. If you literally need to write “The End” after your journal entry, then do it. Cross the item off the original brain dump list to signify it is complete for now. Or if it’s just a mental acknowledgement that the topic is closed and you feel like it’s resolved, then just make that mental note. But make a formal END to the single item you’ve just worked through.

Now take a day off. Consciously allow your mind to be clear and take an emotional vacation day from the work you’ve just put in. Because tomorrow, you do the whole process over again with the second thing on your list.

Yes, this is a long process and it could take months or even years to work all the way through the list. Some items on the list might only need a couple hours before you feel you’ve resolved it. Some might takes several days or longer. As you think of new things to add to the list, you’ll just write them to the end of the current list and deal with them in order. The key is to keep your brain free of the emotional turmoil so you can continue to work on one small issue at a time and grow little by little along the way.

Side Note: If you find that the problem is too big for you to handle on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist, counselor, clergy, or medical professional can help you work through any of the problems on your list that you feel too overwhelmed to handle by yourself.

How do you feel?

So now that you’ve got a perfectly clear brain, how does it feel? Have you learned anything about yourself along the way? Do you have a new world domination plan? New goals? Have you added anything to the process that’s helped you – that might also help someone else? Please share it with us all by leaving a comment below.

The post Using My Bullet Journal to do a Brain Dump appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

How to Distress and Age a Leather Traveler’s Notebook

I received this adorable traveler’s notebook from Unique HM & LN – they asked me to take a look at it and give my thoughts. But this isn’t just a standard product review. Nope. I took it one giant step beyond just a review. You see, this little passport size traveler’s notebook needed some TLC – some special love to break it in properly. So today I’m going to show you how I took a new traveler’s notebook and beat it up, roughed it up, rolled it, washed it, scraped it, and used a couple scary ingredients to turn it into a gorgeous TN I love.

This passport size traveler’s notebook is a great starter option for those who want to try out the system but still get a quality leather journal cover. It’s an all-in-one package because not only do you get the high-quality leather cover, it also comes with three notebook inserts and a pocket folder, a brass pen clip, and feather bookmark. With four colors to choose from – blue, pink, green, brown – there’s something for everyone.

What makes this traveler’s notebook unique is the waxy coating on the leather. It is 100% genuine leather and called “fog wax cowhide.” I’ve never seen this type of treatment on a TN before and I was intrigued to get my hands on it. I wondered if it would still smell like leather – it does – and if it felt like leather or had a strange feeling because of the waxy coating. I admit that the finish felt a bit strange but not unpleasant. The waxy finish gives the leather a soft cloudy/foggy look that is unique and kind of cool. I was told that the coating will wear off with use and will achieve a patina in a few months. Just carry it around with you and let the oils in your hands wear the waxy coating off gradually.

But you know me. I can’t leave well enough alone, right? I’m also not very patient. I didn’t want to wait for a few months while the patina came through. I wanted to know what it was like right away. So I took matters into my own hands … literally.

If you’ve ever had a beautiful piece of leather — whether it’s a bag like my beloved tote, a pair of quality leather shoes, or a traveler’s notebook – you know that the more you beat up a piece of leather, the more beautiful it becomes. I love rustic leather. Give me ripples, creases, scars, color variations, and a buttery smooth feeling and I’m in love. There are ways to speed up that process, of course. Usually, I just let nature take its course and let the leather age as I use it. But not this time.

Two Things Happened

I’ve been playing with this notebook for a while now so this aging process actually happened in two phase. The first phase was to literally beat up the leather by roughing it up, rolling it, and getting violent with the notebook. The second phase happened the night before I was finishing up this article. I was Googling around (cuz that’s what nerds do) and came across a tip list on a leather website. I won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say that the end result is amazing!

But first, let’s take a quick look at the before-and-after.

distressed leather before after

Pictures on the left are from the Amazon listing. The first image shows the waxy cloudiness of the leather finish.


Aging and Distressing my Leather Traveler’s Notebook

I learned about this rolling technique from the internet (of course). Since then I’ve broken in several TNs and even my leather tote bag. If you are one of those people who love their leather in pristine condition with no marks or wear and tear… you might want to look away. When I say “beat up” that’s what I mean. Let’s get started…

First, you need to remove the notebook inserts and any accessories. If you plan to change out the elastic bands at the spine, now is a good time to remove those too. I didn’t plan to change those out so I left them in. Lots of people like to personalize their TN by adding various colors of elastic. Or if you’ve been using your notebook for a while, the elastics wear out over time so it’s not unusual to remove them and put in new. But we’re not doing that today.

Once you have your leather stripped naked, it’s time to put it through its paces. There are really no rules here. You can start by literally rolling the leather into a cigar-shaped tube – starting at one end of the notebook and rolling to the other. Then unroll and roll the other way. Roll diagonally in both directions. Roll inwards and outwards – meaning turn the leather over and roll with the finished side out, then flip it and roll with the finished side in.

You’ll begin to notice that the leather will get softer and there will be ripples and texture appearing in the leather. For some people, this is enough. For me – I want more. So I fold the leather onto itself and use the palm of my hand to roll each part of the leather. I’m being very aggressive at this point. Using force and lots of erratic motion. I just keep rolling and moving the leather until I feel like I’m “done.”

The main purpose of the rolling effort on this TN was to see if I could speed up the process of the waxy coating being worn off the leather. It worked a bit, but not completely. I wonder if it needs to literally be held in your hand to fully wear it off. But I wanted to try one more thing…

I grabbed a terry cloth towel and got it wet with plain old water. Then I started scrubbing the surface of the leather …. just to see what would happen. At the time I didn’t have any leather conditioner or leather soap, so water was my only option. It worked a bit. It definitely evened out the appearance of the leather and give it a more uniform look once the leather dried.

Side note – don’t panic if you get water on your leather. I learned from a leather craftsman that if you get leather wet in one spot that you should just get the rest of it wet. Not wet like dipping it in water – but use a soft cloth and apply an even coat of water across the entire piece. Then when it dries you’ll have a more uniform appearance. It might be slightly discolored but at least the discoloration will be the same everywhere.

At this point, I was pretty happy with the result. The leather was soft and pliable and most of the waxy stuff was gone. I figured I’d just use it for a while and the rest of the waxy stuff would come off on its own. But apparently, I wasn’t done yet…

blue leather travelers notebook

Now the surprise ending

I should probably start this section with a word of caution. DO NOT try this on your expensive traveler’s notebook – at least not until you’ve tested it on some cheaper leather. This notebook costs around $15, so I was pretty adventurous with this step.

As I was wrapping up the writing of this review, I wanted to see if there were other ways to distress leather that I hadn’t talked about. Oh boy, was there!

I found an article on Buffalo Jackson’s website – they sell handcrafted leather bags (which are AMAZING) and various leather accessories including leather portfolio binders that I’m already in love with. OK, back to the article. They have some tips on how to distress your new leather bag and make it look old. How to Distress Leather in 5 Steps. I admit that I was shocked at the first suggestion – the rest I had heard of or tried before.

Apply rubbing alcohol. Using a spray bottle, lightly mist the leather with rubbing alcohol. You may also apply it with a cloth or even a toothbrush. Be sure to not drench your bag – you just want to dampen it with the rubbing alcohol, which will then dry out the leather and begin producing a weathered look.

What?! Really? I was so intrigued that I went immediately to the bathroom closet to find my rubbing alcohol. Except… I couldn’t find it! Do I even have any? Dang it! What could I use instead? Mmm… I bet fingernail polish remover is the same as rubbing alcohol, right? Sure, why not!

nail polish remover on leather

So I grabbed an old rag and the nail polish remover, I dove in to see what would happen. I know the instructions said to lightly mist the leather using a spray bottle and not to drench it. Oops! I must have forgotten that part because I used the dampened cloth and rubbed it all over the surface of the leather. OMG! The wax was coming off! So I did the back and edges and let it dry.

It only took a moment to realize how GORGEOUS this leather really was. The rolling and creasing I had done in the first steps were now shining through and there was so much detail and character to the leather. The leather still smells like leather.  The leather was shiny and textured. Wow! I know I should have grabbed the video camera and filmed all that – but it was 11:30 p.m. and I was in my pajamas and … well, honestly I didn’t even think about it in my enthusiasm to give it a try. Next time, OK?

What do you think?

Have you ever purposefully distressed or aged leather to get a certain look and feel? Was it a traveler’s notebook or something else made of leather. Did you like the results? What else have you tried that I should do?

The post How to Distress and Age a Leather Traveler’s Notebook appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Aliexpress Sticker Haul and Organization

I know I’m not alone when it comes to losing control whenever I go to the AliExpress website. Everything is so cute and so cheap that I just want to buy all the things. Today I’m not going to talk about the notebooks, washi tapes, pens, and die cuts that I love on AliExpress (we’ll look at those another day). Today we’re going to talk about mini stickers. Those adorable little boxes of 1” stickers that cost less than $1 … yeah, the ones that I add to my shopping cart with abandon. And before I know it, I’ve got a pile of those little boxes. The problem is that I don’t know how to store these stickers! Put them in a bin and you can’t see what you have, so you don’t use them at all. Sticker storage is so hard!

But, as you guessed, I figured out a brilliant solution to store and organize these tiny stickers! I mean, I don’t want to brag too much, but seriously… it’s an ingenious idea and one that I’ve never see anyone else use. So here we go… let’s talk stickers and sticker storage.

AliExpress Mini Stickers

First, let’s talk about the stickers. Of course, there are lots of sticker options on AliExpress – some great options, some a bit of a disappointment. But today I don’t want to talk about all the different types of stickers, I just want to talk about one type.

These little boxes measure about 2 inches square and inside you get anywhere from 35 to 50 mini stickers that range in size between 1 inch and 2 inches. Each box contains a variety of stickers in the same theme and usually, you get 2 of each sticker design. The best part? These little boxes of stickers usually cost less than $1 (usually around 75 cents). See why it’s so easy to add dozens to your AliExpress cart? Plus there are packs of even smaller stickers – see the tiny butterflies and leaves in the picture below? Those are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch! Perfect for my small A6 journal!

close up stickers

How I use the AliExpress Mini Stickers

I should probably confess up front that I’m actually NOT a big sticker fanatic. I mean, I like buying and collecting stickers, but they tend to go unused. Not because I don’t like them, but because I forget to use them. So I’ve been trying to make a more conscious effort to dig into my stash and use them more often.

Since I moved to my A6 traveler’s notebook bullet journal my space is extremely limited. I still use one page for each day but with the smaller size journal, there’s not a lot of room to play. Thankfully these stickers are perfect for the smaller pages. I like to pick a sticker and find a coordinating roll of washi tape and add a little bit of decoration on the page. Nothing major or super fancy, just a way to add a bit of “pretty” to my task list.

Storing Small Stickers

I’ve tried a few different ways to store these stickers. For a while, I’d just leave them in their little boxes and take them out each time I went on a hunt for a new sticker. But it got tiresome to finagle that stack of stickers back into the box. Products never go back in the box the same way, right? Then I stored them in  Iris Photo Boxes If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. and that worked for me for a while. Stickers with the same theme could go into the same box together and I’d just rummage through them to find what I wanted. But again, this grew tiresome because I don’t like to dig for stuff. This method actually works great for larger die-cuts and stickers because of their odd size and larger format so I’ll continue to use these plastic boxes for that. But it’s not ideal for these little stickers and my fat fingers.

My next idea was using small plastic envelopes that would go into a mini 3-ring binder. This worked well, actually. But I couldn’t fit some of the larger ones in these small envelope pockets and I needed to still take them in and out to use them. I’m still using these for a few types but I was still on a hunt for the perfect solution.

Then it happened. I found the exact right solution for storing small stickers! Not only could I see them all at once, but they were organized and it was easy to pick which one I wanted without having to rummage through a whole box of them.

currency pocket pages

Coin collectors have lots of great options for storing the currency they collect including sheet protectors that go in 3-ring binders for coins. Each square is the perfect size for a coin…. or a sticker. WooHoo! Problem solved!

Fun Fact: Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. We love numismatists!

So I bought a pack of coin page protectors and of course, Amazon suggested some other types of pages while I was shopping (Amazon is the worst enabler ever!). So I picked up a few other types of sheets too and plan to experiment with other types of stickers and ephemera I’ve collected and need to be organized (I’ll fill you in another day on how that goes).

Once I started adding stickers to the pages I realized that if I put a slip of paper into each pocket that I could double up and use both sides of the coin page protector. So I set about cutting 2-inch square slips of paper and adding them to the pockets. So glad I just bought a new paper trimmer – this thing is a dream! It’s the Fiskars SureCut Trimmer (SureCut because there’s a wire guide that the blade runs along so you can see the exact cutting line before you cut).

paper cutter

Then I dug out my collection of stickers and started adding them to the pockets. I was so thrilled with how it worked! I still have more to organize but this system is so much better than the other ideas I tried. I’ve even started using my stickers more often because they’re so easy to find.

sticker book

Right now all the stickers are just in a bit catalog of pages with a little bit of organization to keep themes together. But I think the next step is to buy some dividers (the extra wide ones that work with page protectors) so I can just flip to the section I need that day.

OMG! This is a dream! Really amazing solutions. Once I added the two different sized coin and currancy pages, plus the longer dollar-bill pockets I was able to organize so many of my stickers and die-cuts. Check out the video as I was putting it all together.

AliExpress 101

I can’t show you all these adorable stickers without telling you where you can get them too. I’ve been ordering from AliExpress for more than a year and there’s a bit of an art to making purchases. AliExpress is a marketplace made up of individual sellers/shops. Each shop specializes in a certain type of products. You can buy anything on AliExpress – from car parts, clothes, and electronics to every kind of stationery product you can dream or imagine. Most sellers are in China but there are lots of different countries represented.

AliExpress helps buyers to research the shops before we buy. At the top of each shop, you see information about that seller – including how many years they’ve been selling on AliExpress, their reviews and ratings, and other information about their shop.


Happy time stock screenshot

Screenshot from Happy Time Stock store on AliExpress


It’s important to pay attention to this information. Choose shops with good ratings and reviews and have been in business for a while – more than a year is ideal. Notice the shop screenshot above for the Happy Time Stock shows that the store has been open for 5 years, has a 99% positive feedback rating and is awarded the badge of “Top Brand” by AliExpress. (And yes, I really do have 50 items in my cart!)

You’ll also want to review the selection of goods the shop has. It’s always a good idea to buy multiple things from a single shop rather than just buying one thing from dozens of shops. I mean, you can do it either way, but there are benefits from single-shop shopping. Usually, shops offer coupons that apply to your order after you spend a certain amount (such as $2 off orders of $15 or more). So the more you buy from a single shop, the more you can save.

The other benefit is that your stuff arrives together. Each seller ships products in their own method rather than a single warehouse like Amazon has. So if you order from dozens of different shops, you’ll be waiting for dozens of different packages to arrive. Whereas if you order dozens of products from just a few shops, then you’re only waiting for a few packages.

Be aware that shipping takes a while with AliExpress. If you’re in the United States you can expect packages to take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to arrive. Remember, your package is coming from overseas and needs to go through international mail service and customs. So be patient. I’ve never had an item not arrive. Sometimes it takes a while, but it always shows up eventually. The key is to find some favorite shops that have fast shipping and a product selection that you really love.

My favorite AliExpress Shops

I’ve assembled a list of my favorite shops. They get on my list of favorites if they have a good rating and longevity record on AliExpress and also if they have a good selection and have quick shipping. I usually start with this list of shops and check their “new arrivals” tab in their store to see what they’ve added since I was there last (there’s always new stuff!).

Then if I’m on a hunt for something specific I’ll do a general search from the AliExpress homepage and see what comes up. I like to give new shops a test run and will usually find one or two new sellers to buy from with each order. Then I track to see how long the order takes to arrive and if everything was packaged well and arrived safely. I also assess the quality of the items and if they are true representations of what was pictured on the website. If they pass the Pam Test, they get added to my list of favorites. If not, then I make note on a different list to avoid that shop in the future.

It’s definitely a process of trial and error to find your comfort zone. I find that I like to be getting little packages of goodies all the time in my mailbox. The way to do that is to place a lot of small orders from AliExpress on a regular basis. So many I’ll buy something every week from a couple different shops. These are small purchases. You can get a lot of stuff for just $10 or so. If I’m ordering regularly then I’m also getting stuff in the mail regularly too. I have started thinking of AliExpress as an alternative to stopping at a local dollar store just to see what’s new.

So who are my favorites? Here’s my current list:

Happy Stickering!

Do you have a favorite sticker shop on AliExpress? Share it in the comments so we can all check it out too. Also, how are you storing your stickers? Do you have new ideas we can try?

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BOOK REVIEW: Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

Dot Journaling • A Practical Guide

How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together Paperback by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

I loved this book! Rachel Wilkerson Miller (may I call you Rachel?) is a “hybrid bullet journalist,” just like me. She has developed her own system over the years, adding some of the original Ryder Carroll Bullet Journal system in with her own journaling methods from when she was young. Plus, I really enjoy Rachel’s writing style, tone and the easy way she explains things. The examples she shares are inspiring and makes me want to try new things.

Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together Price: $11.26 Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

So much drama

Let’s just get this out of the way first, ok? What I find fascinating about this book is the controversy around it. Inevitably whenever this book is mentioned in any of the forums or Facebook Groups drama ensues. Why? Because people who have never read the book start screaming about trademark infringement … when really if they had actually read the book, they’d know that the author gives full credit to the original Bullet Journal system and acknowledges that when she heard of Ryder Carroll’s original system it was confusing and didn’t fit her style.

Rachel writes a book that tells how she customizes her journal based on her own experience of keeping diaries since grade school and inspiration she got from others and sprinkles in some aspects of bullet journaling to keep things organized and structured.

If there was any sort of legal issue with Ryder’s trademark being infringed, I doubt this would still be available for sale – in fact, because this book has a traditional publisher, I doubt they would let a book that gets them in legal trouble past their team of lawyers. So there. IMHO there is no trademark infringement so let’s not even go there. Let’s move beyond that little bit of drama, mmkay?

An intersection of bullet journal and diary

Rachel shows how the original bullet journal system might look in your own journal … BUT where this books truly becomes valuable is when she takes that original bujo concept and intersects it with what the actual bullet journaling community is doing in the real world. But also how she brings some of her childhood journaling methods into her adult life and shows how they can work in a modern-day journal for staying organized and recording your life.

We all see those highly creative, artsy, hand-drawn layouts and wonder how they could ever be part of the original intention. But here, the author shows us how those types of layouts can be adapted in multiple ways to work for the life you are living and want to keep organized. For each type of traditional bullet journal section (monthlies, weeklies, dailies, collections, etc.) she gives multiple examples of various ways to set up those pages and why they might work for you.

You’re not going to see pictures of layouts you have already seen while browsing Pinterest or Instagram. Nope. Rachel draws all the layouts in this book herself. The concepts might look familiar because if you’ve spent any time at all browsing inspiration sites, you will have seen some of these layouts – but they have a unique twist to them because she explains what works and how you can adapt it to your own needs.

Some of the ideas she covers include:

  • Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily ideas
  • Health and Fitness
  • Financial Management
  • Chores and Keeping House
  • Meal Planning
  • Travel
  • Using your journal as a diary

Fascinating Examples from History

Rachel reminds us that keeping a journal isn’t anything new. She gives some insight into the Diary of Anne Frank (and how what we read today is not what she originally wrote – Anne edited her entries!). There’s an amazing “zero-emotion” excerpt from the Diary of Mary Vial Holyoke who kept a record of her life in the late 1700’s. And Rachel shares a brief history of commonplace books that gives some insight I hadn’t heard before.

What did I take away?

Personally, I’ve adapted her idea for daily pages where she suggests combining traditional bullet journal task management and tracking with old-school dairy-keeping by writing a bit of narrative about your day at the end of each page.

Rachel’s daily task list (one page per day) is more diary than it is to-do list. She records just a few important tasks to complete at the top of the page, then the lower ⅔ of the page is filled with a running log of what happened that day, observations, what she ate or what she did with her husband. I love that she’s combining the idea of keeping a record of your life as they did in the Victorian era with the modern idea of bullet journaling.

After reading this book I started to include a small area at the bottom of my daily page to record a sentence or two about my day or something I’m grateful for. It’s so nice to flip through my old journal and read those notes and the memory of the day is crystal clear. In looking through this book again to write this review, I think I’m going to incorporate even more life and memory keeping entries into my journals.

Nerd Approved!

I highly recommend this insightful look into how bullet journaling can work for those who don’t adhere to the traditional system but also can’t deal with the overly-artsy trend happening in the bullet journaling community right now. Buy the book on Amazon Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. or pick up the Box Set Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. that includes a blank dot-grid journal along with the book.

Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together Price: $8.98 Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

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Embrace your mistakes…. or cover them up

My bullet journal is filled with mistakes, scribbles, failed drawings, and layouts I don’t like. Call them mistakes, if you must. But really, it’s just real life. I’m not perfect so why would I expect my journal to be perfect without any mistakes? Maybe it’s time that we start to embrace our mistakes and let them be a reflection of what truly happens in real life. Mistakes happen. Just love them and be happy about how beautiful life is when it’s slightly imperfect.

Sounds nice, huh? Embrace your mistakes. Let them shine brightly and be your reminder that you’re not perfect. Be at peace with your screw-ups. Love them. Sprinkle fairy dust on them and let them sparkle!

Embracing our mistakes is not always easy or even what we want to do. Sometimes mistakes are just ugly and need to be covered up. Made to be beautiful. Transformed from something that makes us cringe into something that makes us happy.

Whoa! This is getting a little deep. Let’s not get all philosophical here!

The reality is that you’re going to screw up pages in your bullet journals and planners. Sometimes you’ll be fine with those mistakes and can just fix them and move on – or not fix them and still move on. But sometimes you really do want to sprinkle fairy dust on them and make them into something that brings joy and beauty.

You’ve got choices. All mistakes are different (thank you, Captain Obvious) so you’ve got some choices when it comes to how to handle them.

  • Cover the mistake and make it into something beautiful
  • Correct the mistake and carry on
  • Embrace the mistake and carry on

Let’s explore these ideas and see what we can learn. Not to get all woo-woo on you again, but I truly believe the way you deal with small mistakes you make in your journal or planner is a reflection of how you’ll deal big mistakes or issues in the rest of your life. Use your journal as the training ground for how you want to live your life. </end of philosophical declaration>

Cover mistakes in bullet journal

Make my mistake pretty, please!

There are lots of solutions for covering mistakes. How you cover it up and make it pretty again depends on how big it is and how much you need to cover. Big mistakes need a bit more work. My supply of choice is pretty scrapbook paper, journaling cards, and embellishments.

I’ve been a scrapbooker and paper crafter for years and years (yes, I’m old) and I have more paper supplies than I’ll ever use in three lifetimes. So I’m always looking for creative ways to use up my stash. So when I screw up an entire page I am in the habit of reaching for my paper stash to make it pretty.

Just find a paper you love and cut it to the size of your journal page. Then start layering scraps of paper or journaling cards (I love the Project Life cards for this) on top of that base of scrapbook paper. Add some washi tape or stickers to embellish it, if you want. And voila – no more mistakes!

I made a quick video to show you how easy it is.

Correcting mistakes in your bullet journal

Small mistakes like a misspelled word or the wrong day of the week don’t necessarily “ruin” your entire page, but it’s something you want to correct and carry on. These small mistakes can be fixed with white-out, washi tape, or a sticker.

Washi Tape or Stickers – With many types of washi tape you can actually write on it with pen or marker so you can cover up the word and start again. If you use washi tape, just add it in another place or two on the page as a decorative element to make it look like you did it on purpose. There are also myriad planner stickers that are designed to cover large areas on your planner page (think Erin Condron style stickers) and they work great to cover a mistake.

Print New Paper – This option works great if you have a printer or an extra notebook lying around (I have 30 or so!). My favorite site for printing many types of grid paper is the Printable Paper website (they have every pattern you can think of!). Just choose the style of paper to match your journal, the size of the grid or lines, and print on normal printer paper. Then cut a small piece of it to match your journal and disguise the mistake by camouflaging it. You can also use an old journal that has extra pages to cut a piece out of. Just glue it over your mistake and start again.

White Pen – There are also white gel pens that do a great job for covering small areas. I like the Uni-ball Signo 153 gel pen with white ink. The ink flows beautifully and is opaque enough to cover up what you’re writing over.

Correction Tape and Fluids – I keep one of those correction tape runners at my desk and use it to cover up small (or medium sized) mistakes. I like the Papermate brand, but there are lots of different types so test some out to see which you prefer. This works great for journals with white paper. If your journal has cream or ivory paper, there’s still hope for you! They actually make buff-colored white-out (is it still white out if it’s not white?). Now that we’re in the digital age most office supply stores don’t carry the buff white-out so you’ll need to buy it online. I’ve found it on the websites for Staples and Amazon.

What is your favorite way to cover up small mistakes? Did I miss something on this list? Share your method in the comments so we can all learn new stuff.

Embracing the mistakes in your journal (and in life)

Warning! I’m about to get all woo-woo again.

I wonder why we always want to cover up or hide the mistakes we make. Not just in our journals, but also in life. When I was a kid playing too rough with my sister and brother and we accidentally broke something in the house, the first inclination was to hide that thing and hope nobody discovered it. Of course, Mom would always find out and we’d have to fess up (or be grounded until we did). So this behavior starts at a young age and then we never seem to grow out of it. Perfectionism is a struggle for many of us (me included). Are you a perfectionist? If we learn how to embrace the mistakes we make and love the fact that we’re imperfect, I truly believe that we’ll start to appreciate life more fully.

Do you know the Japanese term wabi-sabi?

Wabi-sabi is the subtle art of embracing the imperfect, aged, and rustic nature of the world around you.

Seeing the beauty is our mistakes or a worn out journal or even a 50-year-old mechanical pencil with all the color worn off – this is the beginning of the type of wabi-sabi I want to achieve in my life. To appreciate the mistakes I make and know that I’m a better person because of them. To see a scribbled out misspelled word with the correct written next to it as beautiful takes practice and patience with my imperfection.

Sometimes we just need to remember that the journal we use… it’s just paper. Maybe just turn the page and start again.

its just paper turn the page

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Book Reading Tracker in my Bullet Journal

The book reading tracker in my bullet journal notebook started out as a digital organizing project. This year I want to read more books. But I don’t want to buy a bunch of new books to read. Instead, I want to read books I already own. UhOh! I really didn’t have a clear picture of all the books I actually owned. So I needed to do an inventory before I could determine which books I was going to read this year.

There’s a cool vocabulary word I learned last year. It’s actually a Japanese word:

The act of acquiring books followed by letting them pile up and never reading them.

Yep, I’m guilty of being a tsundoku-er and I knew I needed to take action on this behavior or else I’d end up with such a huge collection unread books that I’d be on a future episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.

pile of books

This wooden crate is supposed to be my “to be read” pile – but the pile has grown beyond the limits of this crate.

Buy the book tracker template

Before we get into the details of how I created my book tracker, I want to let you know that you can buy the Book Tracker Template in the Shop along with the cover page that you can add color or leave black & white.

Digital Book Inventory

The first step was to figure out what books I actually had before I could figure out which books I wanted to read this year. I could have done this all analog but that is definitely inefficient and there would be no easy way to sort by genre or author once I had a massive list of books on an inventory list. Digital is the way to go with this project. There’s an app for that!

I’ve had an account on Goodreads since 2011 but I’ve never used the site to its fullest capabilities. Here are the steps I took for this project:

  1. Add all my books to Goodreads
  2. Sort my books into read, want to read, currently reading
  3. Decided which books to read this year
  4. Export that list to work on offline
  5. Categorize the books into genre sections
  6. Design, print and assemble my book tracker section
  7. Read

I dug in and learned that I could sync my Amazon and Kindle purchases with my Goodreads account. I added e-books, physical books and audiobooks I’ve purchased through one of Amazon’s platforms. Then I gathered up all the physical books in my house that I bought locally – either at a normal bookstore or through some type of second-hand situation (thrift store, yard sale, used bookstore) and added those to my inventory too. Adding books manually was very easy since I just needed to type in the ISBN number and Goodreads found that book for me in their database.


Here’s a small assortment of the books on my reading list for this year.


Whew! That was a huge project that I worked on over a couple weeks. Once I had all my books in an inventory I needed to sort them into categories. Goodreads has categories for books you’ve already read, want to read, or currently reading. So I assigned all my books a category. Then once I had my “want to read” list I thought I was all set and I’d have my list for the year.

Whoops! My “want to read” list was massive with about 175 books. So I needed to prioritize and created a new category in Goodreads for my 2018 reading list and started adding books to that list. I whittled it down to about 95 books. Still too many. So I cut some more and finally settled on about 60. That still seemed like a big list, but doable.

Are you on Goodreads too? Why not head over and add me as a friend. It’s always nice to connect with other bookaholics!

Analog Book Tracker

It was time to move off digital and go analog. The great thing about Goodreads is you can export your full book list or just a single category if you want. This left me with an MS Excel spreadsheet with a bunch of columns so I could sort the books into sub-categories. I started with a general sort by genre (one of the columns Goodreads gave me). Then I started moving books around based on my own categorization system by renaming genre titles, sorting by author and publication date, grouping books together that needed to be together (according to my nerdy brain).

By this time I was starting to feel like a book nerd to the highest extreme. I mean, I love reading, but I’ve never been the type of person who plows through a book a day or several in a week. Unless it’s something by Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich (which I devour all at once), it usually takes me a while to get through a book because I take my time and enjoy the experience (who am I kidding?! I try to read before bed and I end up falling asleep before I can even finish a single page!) So this list was pretty daunting!

bullet journal book tracker

Once I had my book categories set and the books sorted alphabetically by author, then by publication year by that author… I had a final list! But I wasn’t ready to go all the way to analog with this list. Because I wanted to include so much information for each book, I knew creating a handwritten list would test my patience beyond its limits.

Here’s what I included for each book title:

  • Category / genre
  • Book title
  • Author
  • Publication year
  • Book medium
    • P: physical book
    • E: ebook
    • A: audiobook


bullet journal book tracker1

My book tracking pages were created in Microsoft Word, then printed and glued into my bullet journal.

Because full-out analog wasn’t an option for this much info, I created a document in Microsoft Word (but MS Publisher would also be a great choice) that was essentially just a big table with enough columns for each of the categories for each book. I set up the document to be the size of my bullet journal (which is an A5 Tekukor dotted notebook) and arranged the books and categories on the page how they fit best and what made sense to me. I also included an extra page with lots of blank space so I could add more books I acquired throughout the year.

When I finished the creating chart, I printed the pages, trimmed everything to fit my A5 bullet journal, and started assembling the new book tracking section. You know me… I love gluing in pages to my bullet journal because I’m not a purist when it comes to my journal. I do what’s convenient and efficient and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about my methods.

Buy the book tracker template

If you don’t want to make your own, why not use mine instead? I added the Book Tracker Template to the Shop along with the cover page that you can add color or leave black & white.

Assembling my Book Tracker Section

Whew! By this time I’ve been working on this project for several days and I was thrilled to get to this step. It was time to start assembling my bullet journal pages. My go-to adhesive for my journal is the Scotch Tape Gun that I’ve had for 12+ years (since my old scrapbooking days). I love that the refill rolls are huge and I don’t run out of tape very often. This is the type of glue gun used by framing shops, so you know it holds up over time. But that tape gun is a bit too big to pack in my purse, so when I’m out and about and need to bring along a tape runner, I go for a generic Crafting Tape Runner because it’s cheap and portable. But when I’m home, I’m all about the big tape gun.

So I started adding pages to my journal. When I had them all glued in place, I realized it needed a cover page to tie it all together.

Stack of books

This printed illustration started out all black. I used my Tombow Dual Brush markers to give it a touch of color.

So I turned to my graphic designer roots and created a picture with a stack of books and a quote. I printed it on standard copy paper and added a bit of color using my Tombow Dual Brush Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. pens (the pastel set) and with a light hand gave it a tiny bit of color. I love how it turned out!

Using my Book Tracker & Actually Reading Books

Now it was time to read! I left an empty box for each book so I could mark when it was read. I love seeing the boxes filling up as I plow through my list. What I find fascinating is my mindset about reading since I created the reading tracker. When I was bored I used to just turn on Netflix or surf the web to fill the time, but now that I have this goal of reading more books this year, I find that I am naturally turning to the list in my journal to help me figure out which book I’ll read next.

My favorite time to read is early on Sunday mornings (I’ve somehow become an early riser). With a cup of coffee, some soft light, and kitties snuggled up next to me, I read for an hour or two before I start the rest of my day. And now I also have a book waiting for me on my bedside table so I can spend 20-30 minutes reading before I go to sleep.

Watch the video flip-through

Check out the video I made of my book tracker. I explain all this again and do a flip-through of the pages for you.

Other Book Tracker Inspiration

My method of tracking reading is not the only method, of course. In fact, I think my method is a bit unusual because I identified the books I want to read and created a list before I read them. I see most people with book reading trackers record the books they read after they finish the book. And most people don’t span 6 pages in their journal to track books, one page is sufficient. But you know me, I tend to nerd out about things and go a bit overboard.

I love that others have the skill to draw elaborate and beautiful trackers in their journals. Seeing some of these makes me wish I was better at drawing!

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Stationery Store Tour: Violets Blue

Violets Blue is one of my favorite little shops in Bay City, Michigan. An eclectic mix of vintage treasures, hand selected home decor items that inspire you to create a cozy home surround by all your favorite things. It’s not strictly a stationery store, but there’s a unique selection of journals, papers, embellishments, and desk organizing solutions to satisfy any hardcore stationery nerd.

When I walked in the door on this random Wednesday morning I was greeted with a delicious display of vintage-looking wrapping papers (yummy enough to frame and hang on the wall) and an array of journals, notepads and these adorable mini suitcases that would make a great travel solution for all my bullet journaling and planning supplies. I’ve also been on a hunt for a vintage typewriter, so this display caught my eye when I saw the avocado green one on the table.

The first aisle you come to is a wall of antique wooden display cabinets, it’s a buffet of journaling embellishments, sticky notes, pencil sets, and even Scrabble alphabet tiles sold individually. The cabinets are filled with a mix of handmade art by local artists, home decor pieces, candles, stationery goodies, and elegant floor rugs. Somehow it all goes perfectly together like a well-curated art gallery display.

Violets Blue - stationery wall

As I wander through this little store I come across surprising pockets of stationery bits tucked in with household items. A display of dinnerware next to a set of coordinating journals and pencil sets. The children’s gift section has an array of greeting cards and quote cards that would be great as a tip-in for my journal. Stacks of journals and notebooks are mixed in with live succulent plants in vintage terracotta and porcelain pots or glass candle holders. You really need to inch your way around the store and look at everything on every shelf so you don’t miss anything.

I found this clever box of quotes and passages typed on what looks like tea-stained note cards. The passages aren’t your typical motivational quote or self-improvement mantra… no, these are passages and quotes from a wide selection of books and famous (or not so famous) people through the ages. Some were short passages, some very long to fill up the entire card. The black wooden box comes with 365 Gathered Thoughts for $99 or you can pick through the box of notecards and just buy a few. I could have stood there all day just reading and discovering what treasures were inside that box. I bought several individual cards.

I also found some A6 journals that are made by Rifle Paper Company in Florida (check out their website, they have a lot of great planning stickers and stationery supplies!). Since I just moved into the A6 Traveler’s Notebook, I figured I’d need some spare journals soon. It was really difficult to decide which design to choose as there were so many cute options. I suspect I’ll be making a trip back to the store to buy more soon.

Rifle Paper Co A6 floral notebooks

Bay City, Michigan is my hometown and where my parents and family still live. It’s only about 20 minutes from my house and I’m there pretty regularly. But it’s not often that I get the spend a couple hours just browsing through the little shops and picking up bits and bobs along the way.

Violets Blue display of journals

Every time I visit Violets Blue the store is a little bit different. Since they curate antiques to mix in with their retail merchandise, you never know what you’ll find and how they’ve combined the old with the new to surprise and delight their visitors.

If you ever find yourself in Michigan and have time for a shopping trip with a fellow Stationery Nerd, let me know and we can browse this shop together. Violets Blue is located at 115 Fourth Street in Bay City, Michigan (USA). Visit the Violets Blue website or follow them on Instagram.

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The Great Craft Room Organizing Project

My craft room has become a storage room. It’s time to reclaim my creative space and beat back the hoarding monsters who have taken over the room in the past two years. I’m armed for battle and I shall prevail! At the end of this week, I WILL have a properly organized craft room that I’m proud to show off.

Right now I’m not so proud of what my craft room looks like. But we’re friends here, right? You don’t mind my mess too much… or at least you’re polite enough not to scoff at what I’m about to reveal below. Brace yourself. It’s going to get really scary before it gets better.

Live Craft Room Organizing Updates all Week

NOTE: Live updates are over. But read through each daily update below to follow along of the progress I made on this 10-Day Adventure!

I’m on vacation from the day job this week. Today is Saturday and it’s my first official day off. Instead of a fancy vacation at the beach this year, I’ve set this time aside to clean. Fun, huh?  I know… not exactly the dream vacation of the overworked and tired. But I’m excited about what I’m going to have at the end of all this work. And to keep me motivated and on task, I thought I’d bring you along for the ride.

Throughout this week I’m going to update you on my progress, with photos, of course. I’ll also be showing you how I’m using my journaling system to keep me on task and track a few key things I need to track. So come back throughout the week and cheer me on (because I know I’m going to need it!).

The Back Story about my Craft Room

My craft room – which I often refer to as my art studio, so if I refer to it as that, it’s all the same thing – is one of my spare bedrooms that’s been converted into a creator’s paradise. I think the remodel happened sometime back in 2005 or so. That’s when I was running a side business making scrapbook albums for other people using their photos and I needed all the space I could get for the supplies that type of venture requires. For years it was where I spent most of my free time.

Then about 2.5 years ago I had a home repair emergency where portions of the subfloors of my house needed to be torn up and replaced. That project resulted in a mini house remodeling adventure, I have all new flooring throughout the house, a new gorgeous bathroom and some newly painted rooms in the house. But, as you can imagine, when you replace the flooring in your whole house, all the stuff in the house needs to GO somewhere while you’re pulling up the carpet. Yep, you guessed it – the craft room became the storage room for everything that was displaced elsewhere in the house.  That remodeling project dragged on beyond my ability to cope with it and one day I just screamed “STOP!” and decided I was done.

That dramatic stopping point left me with a remodeling project that was about 98% finished. There’s still some trim work to deal with and two more rooms that need to be painted. AND…. it left me with a craft room that remained a storage room filled with stuff I probably needed to just get rid of instead of store in the first place.

Enough Chatting. Let’s See the Before Pictures!

Here are a few before pictures to give you a sense of how bad things are. I’m working hard not to be embarrassed by this. But I’m embracing real life and hoping that you guys will jump in and tell me that you have a secret room like this too (even if you have to lie to me!).  I even took video of the room so you’ll get an even close up view of it later.

Lots of Work Space

There’s 16′ of countertop space here.

A wall of shelving

There’s 8 feet of built-in shelving on this wall

Craft Room Overview

There’s a floor under there… somewhere!

How Am I Using my Bullet Journal for Organizing my Craft Room?

Oh hey! I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you all about it! I’m doing this whole project Pomodoro Style! And I’m tracking progress as I go.

What’s Pomodoro Style? The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method where you set a timer for a set amount of time (usually 25 minutes) and then take a short break (usually 5 minutes). After you do four Pomorodos in a row, you take a longer break (usually 20 minutes). Then start all over again. The key is to use that 25-minute time block as a hyper-focused work session and work as hard and fast as you can without letting distractions pull you from the specific task. It’s a race against the clock to see how much you can accomplish before the alarm goes off.

So I’ve created a big master list of 25-minute tasks in my bullet journal and as I finish that task, I cross it off as finished. Whenever I have a massive project, breaking it down into “bite-sized chunks” helps me stay on track and feel like I’m making progress. I’ll also keep track of how many Pomorodos I complete for the week.

a bullet journal page

Tracking tasks, Pomorodo sessions, and distractions in my bullet journal. 

What Else Will I Track?

The goal is to get rid of 60-70% of all the crap in that craft room. There’s plenty of stuff that’ll just end up in the trash, but also lots of things that need to be donated to charity or sold on eBay, Facebook, crafting Buy/Sell/Trade groups or Craigslist. All the donated stuff will need to be tracked so I can capture the tax deduction. So I want to keep track of all that stuff … mostly because I’m a nerd about data and it’s fun to see those numbers add up as I go.  And look at this handy tool!

Boxes Donated

Bags o' Trash

Items to Sell

Day 1: Saturday

Today is all about setting the stage and diving in. I spent the morning cleaning the house (kitchen, living room, office) so I’d at least have a clean house under what was about to happen. I then moved all the future in the living room back against the walls to make a large open space to be used as my “staging area” where I’ll sort through boxes from the craft room.

The big goal for today is to clear the craft room! Anything that’s being stored on the floor in that room needs to come out go to the staging area for sorting. I’ve set aside at least 4 Pomodoro Sessions for this part.

For now, I don’t plan to remove the craft supplies that are on the shelves above the countertops, the built-in wall of shelving, or the closet. I’ll do that another day. Today, I just want to find the floor in the craft room.

Once the room is cleared, I’ll begin the big sorting process. I’ll sort into Trash, Donate, Sell, and Keep.

Day 1: Tasks

  • Clean the house
  • Break down photo/video studio
  • Prepare staging area
  • Set up zones (trash, donate, sell)
  • Remove everything from floor in craft room
  • Vacuum craft room floor
  • Begin sorting in staging area
  • Document donation items & pack up
  • Trash run at end of the day


Day 1: Wrap up and Reflection

Whew! I survived the first day and I’m happy with my progress. I finished everything on my task list except taking a load of trash down to the dumpster (it’s nice to have that option rather than letting it all pile up at my house all week).  Today’s lessons:

  • I have a lot of frickin’ crap! Why couldn’t I be born with the minimalist gene instead of the hoarding gene? I’m determined to get rid of the vast majority of this stuff!
  • I’m not as young and spry as I used to be. <sigh> So many sore muscles at the end of the day!
  • Accountability (this blog and my beloved friends in The Stationery Nerd Herd Facebook group) is a powerful motivator.

And to wrap up the day, here are a few photos of the progress.

Progress in the bullet journal

Keeping track of progress in my bullet journal is helping me stay motivated and organized.

Oh my! What have I done?!

My living room is now the staging area for sorting all this stuff!

The Craft Room has a floor!

Mission accomplished on Day 1. Everything removed from the craft room and floors vacuumed.

Day 2: Sunday

Today is all about sorting! The living room (aka: staging area) is more packed than I thought it’d be. It’s quite overwhelming, actually. When I got up this morning and walked into the room, I said out loud: “Oh man… what have I done?” So yeah, I think I need to deal with the sorting process today as much as possible. If I can make a dent in the pile it might seem less daunting.

This morning I’ll pack up a load of boxes and stuff in the car and drop it off at the charity shop after church. I’ll also take a load of trash down to the dumpster. So having those two piles out of the house should help with the sense of overwhelm (let’s hope!).

Even though I don’t want to get distracted with going through stuff in the craft room yet – on the counters, built-in wall of shelves, and the other shelves above the counters – I think I might give myself one Pomodoro session in the craft room to just deal with the easy stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that can go straight to the donation or trash piles and I’d like to take a crack at that. I think it’ll also help me feel like I’m making good progress on the room.

I’m switching to a new color of highlighter in the bullet journal spread to track progress. Yesterday was blue, today will be yellow. I think this will help me visually see how much I have accomplished each day (plus it’ll be pretty at the week!).

Day 2: Tasks

  • Trash run with yesterday’s stuff
  • Pack up donation boxes in car
  • Drop off donations after church
  • Purge easy stuff from counters and shelves in craft room
  • Sort boxes in staging area – Keep, Sell, Donate, Trash
  • Sort some more boxes.
  • Just keep sorting.  Just keep sorting.  Just keep sorting.
  • Pack donations and record items in journal.


Day 2: Wrap up and Reflection

This morning when I got up and walked out to the living room I had a moment of regret and panic. “What have I done?” Yes, I literally said that out loud (I assume that when I talk to myself that the cats are listening and they care.) I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t dig into the mess aggressively today that I’d lose heart and give up. So I was relentless in sorting and purging today. You can see from the ticker up above that the “Bags o’ Trash” and “Boxes to Donate” numbers went up significantly.

My mother decided she wanted to look through my donation pile before I took it all to the charity shop. So I didn’t take a load to town today. I’ll do that another day this week. (If I wait too much longer I’m going to need to borrow the parents’ truck to haul it all in!)

I’ve been tracking my progress in my bullet journal. Look at the spread in my bullet journal — all that yellow was done on Day 2!!

Bullet journal cleaning spread

Craft Room Cleanup collection in my bullet journal.

Today’s Lessons:

  • Eating healthy is important to keep up your energy. No, mac-n-cheese is not a healthy choice. Either is brownies. Maybe try some protein, huh?
  • Amazon Music kept me company all day. Because I have Amazon Prime there’s a ton of free music included – so I spent my day with Amos Lee and Iron & Wine.
  • The Pomodoro Method says 25 minutes of focused work and 5 minutes of rest. Those rest periods are just as important to the work periods. So take your rests!

And to wrap up the day, here are a few photos of the progress.

Counters in Craft Room

The kitties are enjoying the new lounging space.

Staging Area Progress

Got about halfway through this section of sorting.

Wall of Shelving

A tiny bit more organized but needs a major purge.

Day 3: Monday

I was up early this morning and already put in an hour sorting stuff in the craft room before breakfast. That hour made me realize how much MORE work there is once I get to the part of the list where I’m sorting and purging actual craft supplies. In the pictures above of the wall of shelving, you’ll see on the far left there are three whole shelves filled with yarn and knitting supplies. I think those need to go! And the scrapbook paper needs to be sorted and purged too!

But the craft room isn’t my focus today. I need to keep moving forward with the piles in the living room and sort, sort, sort, and then sort some more. I made good progress yesterday and need to keep that momentum going. I’m amazed at how much I’m throwing in the trash and it feels good to be rid of all that stuff.

I have a few distractions happening today. I’m taking my car in to be fixed (say a little prayer that this does the trick!). So that’ll take me out of commission for a couple hours. Plus my mother is coming over this afternoon after we drop off my car so she can look through my donation pile to see if there’s anything she can pilfer before it gets shipped out. Otherwise, it’s all hands on deck again today.


Day 3: Tasks

  • Trash run to get rid of yesterday’s pile
  • Sort through stuff on counters in craft room
  • Sort through scraps of scrapbook paper and jumbled mess of paper on shelves
  • Figure out what to do with the old computer monitor (who recycles?)
  • Record donation items in journal & pack into boxes
  • Remove the old television mount from the wall in the craft room
  • Sort more boxes in staging area.
  • Just keep sorting, sorting, sorting.
  • Eat healthier today.


Day 3: Wrap up and Reflection

Whew! This decluttering thing is hard work! But it sure does feel great to see the progress! The living room / staging area is starting to have a floor again and if I stick to the sorting today, I just might get through the rest of it. At rough count, I think there are about a dozen boxes to sort through yet — then the huge mountain of tote bags, briefcases, messenger bags, purses (did I mention I have a bag obsession?).

Yesterday I unearthed some treasures:

  • A set of 100 Crayola Super Tip Markers Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. — which is funny because I didn’t remember owning these and just recently bought a new set for myself. Oops!
  • The book by Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . Yes, I found it in the bottom of a box of miscellaneous clutter. No, I’m not holding each item in my hand to determine if it’s bringing me joy before I decide what to do with it (that’d take me 10 years!). I’m being RUTHLESS and getting rid of 90% of the stuff I’m sorting. I thought my percentage of purge would be closer to 70%, but I’m glad to know that I’m getting rid of so much more than that. 
  • I found a few boxes in a row that held a treasure trove of Traveler’s Notebook supplies. Inserts, accessories, kraft folders, plastic pockets…. The last time I was in a TN was back in 2015-ish, so that gives you an idea of how old this stuff is that I’m sorting through. It was nice to find the stash now that I’m back in a TN again.

Today had a 5-hour interruption that stunted my progress a bit. I needed to deliver my car to the mechanic and my Mom volunteered to give me a life. She arrived with my sister in tow… who was on her way to the vet with the new puppies for their 6-week checkup. Puppy Invasion!

Pug Puppies

The Pug puppies came to visit today.

Of course, while my mom and sister were here, they pilfered my donation pile and claimed a bunch of stuff to take home. And a few things from my “to sell” pile found a new home too. They left with about 3 big boxes of stuff.

And to follow up with the goal of eating healthier today… yes, that happened. I grabbed some groceries on the way back from the mechanic and cooked a proper dinner (sausage, peppers and tomatoes over rice). I also drank more water than coffee and didn’t eat any brownies.

And to wrap up the day, here are a few photos of the progress.

Craft Room Cleanup Progress

The page in my bullet journal is starting to fill up. Purple shows what I finished on Day 3.

Sorted Stuff

Gift wrapping, office supplies, scrapbook paper, and Stationery Nerd supplies.

The Pile to be Sorted

Only a dozen or so boxes left to sort after Day 3 progress.

Day 4: Tuesday

Oooo… I’m feeling the hard work this morning! My muscles are screaming at me. More yoga stretching this morning before I dive back into the fray!

Today is going to be another short day of work because I’ve got a meeting this evening and need to wrap up with the cleanup project by 3:30 or so. I also need to figure out how I’m going to get to my meeting since my car is still at the mechanic and he said he wants to just keep it until he’s sure it’s fixed (not sure how long that’s going to be but I told him keep it forever if he wants since I hate that car so much).

Only about a dozen boxes left to sort today. Then the mountain of tote bags to go through (I need to be ruthless with that pile, it’s going to be hard though). I didn’t do a great job of keeping on top of the donation recordkeeping and packing yesterday, so I’ve got 3 boxes to record and pack this morning before I get into the sorting again.

After a bit of research I found out that there’s a computer recycling event happening in town TODAY from 3pm to 7pm. If I can’t make it today, I have to wait until the end of June for another. This’ll be tricky without a car today, but we’ll see if I can swing it.

I’m starting to think about how I’m going to tackle the next phase of this sorting project. As you can see in the photos there’s a whole line of boxes that things have been sorted into. Some of the boxes include random CDs with data I need to review; boxes of photographs; craft supplies; office supplies; gift wrapping stuff; pens/markers/pencils – Whoa! so many!; important paperwork to be filed; genealogy research; and two big totes of “electronics” that will need to be sorted. Besides stationery and bags… I sort of have an obsession with electronic gadgets.


Day 4: Tasks

  • Yoga stretches & healthy food choices today
  • Finish sorting boxes in staging area.
  • Figure out the car situation so I can drive to my meeting this evening
  • Start second purge (going through the “save” boxes again)
  • Start sorting craft room shelves
  • Can I make it to the computer recycling event happening today?
  • Stop at 3:30 today – MEETING CANCELLED (so I worked late into the night!)


Day 4: Wrap up and Reflection

Whew! I finished the first round of sorting of all those boxes from the craft room! I also added in a few extra boxes that were stashed in my bedroom closet. It feels SO good to be done with this phase. My rough calculations show that I’ve spent nearly 16 hours removing all the stuff from the craft room that didn’t belong in there and sorting through all those boxes.  No wonder I’m tired!

But here’s a peek at my journal progress.

Bullet Journal Progress

The end of Day 4 progress. Day 5 starts in green.

Today I could feel my energy waning. I know that if I weren’t updating ya’ll here and in the Stationery Nerd Facebook group that I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. I’m sure it has also helped that the weather this week hasn’t been very nice – rainy and chilly Spring days.

I’ve also been without a vehicle this week since my car is still with the mechanic. This evening I spent a couple hours doing the car shuffle with the family so I could finagle a way to borrow my brother’s car for the rest of the week or until my car is finished.  So now car means no trips to drop off donation items regularly… which means the pile is growing quite large in the dining room and making me feel closed in.

And to wrap up the day, here are a few photos of the progress.

Filing Cabinets in Closet

Need to tackle these drawers! But not today.

Just a “few” pens and markers

I found some pens, markers, colored pencils, highlighters.

Pile o’ Empty Boxes

This is the most satisfying pile. All empty boxes for recycling!

Day 5: Wednesday

I have a bunch of appointments today so I won’t get started with cleanup progress today until dinnertime. But today is all about the “second sort” — going through the boxes of stuff that I’ve sorted already to do a second round of purging. I’ve set up the living room to begin this process. There’s a little more on the other side of the room and most of the craft supplies have been staged in the craft room… but this gives you an idea of how much I’ve gotten rid of so far. I’m guessing I’ve purged about 85-90% of the stuff I removed from the room originally.

Craft Room Cleanup_SECOND SORT

A portion of the piles to be sorted a second time.


Day 5: Tasks

  • Appointments until 4PM today.
  • Load car with donation boxes & drop off while I’m out and about today
  • Begin the “second sort”
  • Document and box up more donations


Day 5: Wrap up and Reflection

Today was a bust. Well… it was a bust when it comes to the cleanup progress anyway. No progress at all, that is. My journal looks exactly the same at the end of the day as it did in the morning. One Pomodoro session to prep the Second Sort staging area and nothing else. Here’s what happened.

I had some appointments yesterday – one at 11:30 and one at 2:30 – so that gave me a 2-hour break between the end of the first and the start of the second. Rather than running my errands and knocking stuff off the list, I grabbed some lunch from my favorite deli in town and went straight to the park along the riverbank. Lunch, some journaling, some reading, and a lot of soaking up the beautiful sunshine – that 2-hour break was enough to restore my soul and ease my aching body.

Riverside Park

The view along the river on a sunny day.

After my 2:30 appointment, I ran some errands including a trip to Michael’s for washi tape and stationery supplies, the local market for some groceries, and the “slow” way home since I got caught in road construction detours (UGH!). By the time I walked in the door at home again, it was nearly 8:00 p.m. and I was not in the mood to tackle more cleanup tasks. So I called it a bust for the night and just puttered around the house until bedtime.

So Day 6’s tasks will look exactly like Day 5’s tasks. No progress pictures from today since there was no progress.

Day 6: Thursday

Since yesterday was a bust and I made no progress at all, I’ve got plenty of ground to cover today. My unofficial goal has been to be “done” by Friday so I could have the rest of the weekend to take it easy and have a few days to enjoy my vacation. Now I’m a day behind in making that goal happen.

Today I should be able to finish the Second Sort and clear all the remaining stuff from the living room and put that room back together like it should be. That’ll give me time tomorrow to tackle the sorting and purging in the craft room. I’ve spent a bit of time going through what I have on the wall of built-in shelves but there’s a full day of decluttering to get through that task. I’ve been saving that for the end because it’s the FUN part. I mean…. I’ll get to play with arts and craft supplies, how fun is that!? The hard part will be to stay focused on the cleaning and not stop to play with each new bin I open.


Day 6: Tasks

  • Finish the “second sort”  Not 100% finished, but done enough to call it done-ish.
  • Finish all sorting in living room / staging area and put stuff where it belongs
  • Reclaim the living room and put the furniture back where it belongs
  • Document and box up more donations (I’m about 5 boxes behind on this)
  • Take photos of the stuff in the “To Sell” pile
  • Laundry (not related to the Cleanup, but it still needs to be done today!)


Day 6: Wrap up and Reflection

The Second Sort took a bit longer than I anticipated. Everything is done except the electronics pile. I’ve decided to just leave that for now. The problem is the amount of stuff to go through. If there’s anything in my life that might compete with my love of stationery, it’s my obsessions with gadgets. I tend to keep everything and just add it to the pile over time. In my “To Sell” pile I’ve got 5 different laptops/tablets that need to be reformatted and prepped for sale (that’s not including the 2 computers that are in the “recycle” pile) … so that gives you an idea of the amount of stuff that goes along with all those computers and stuff. So that’s all waiting until after the craft room is finished since it’s going to take a bit of time to deal with it all.

Cleaning spread in bullet journal

Here’s progress after Day 7. I love how colorful it is!

The Second Sort also resulted in a bunch more stuff added to the donation pile. I was able to reduce most of those sorted piles by about half again once I took a closer look at everything in each category.

The craft room is no longer completely clear either. The stuff from the Second Sort that needed to go back in the craft room has gone back in. I’m glad I took the time to clear the counters earlier in the week so I had space to place the boxes neatly as they await the organizing stage. I’ve also spent a bunch of time in the craft room closet. I was very tempted to just leave that until some other time but I’m glad I tackled it now. As you can see in pictures above, I have 2 large filing cabinets inside the closet. The office filing cabinet has been 100% sorted (and 4 bags of shredded paperwork added to the tally!). The lateral cabinet is about 50% sorted and contains mostly gift wrapping supplies.

Overall, good progress today. Here are a few pictures:

Scrapbook Paper

This is about 1/3 of my scrapbook paper that needs to be purged.

Testing Markers & Pens

Two big bins of pens and markers tested and purged down to half a bin.

Gift Wrapping Stuff

Boxes, bags, bows, cards, wrapping paper – so much stuff!

Day 7

Today I met up with a good friend who is battling cancer and having a rough time of it. So some quality conversation and a delicious lunch were in order today. After parting ways this afternoon, I just laid low for the rest of the day. No real progress on the craft room to report. We’ll hit it again tomorrow. Thank you for all your support and cheering this week! You all mean the world to me!

Day 8: Saturday

A few days ago I said my goal was to be done by Friday. That didn’t really take into account that I’d have two days this week where I made virtually no progress. So there’s plenty of work left to do through the weekend. But I’m really happy with where I am so far. In fact, after that second morning when I wondered what I’d gotten myself into – I wasn’t sure I’d make it this far. I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Today will be a short work day because of a few things on the schedule. I have a phone meeting this morning with my accountability partner and this afternoon I’m heading out of town for a wedding. So I’ll only have about 3 or 4 hours to work in the craft room. But a few hours is better than nothing, so I’m going to make the most of it.

Day 8: Tasks

  • Finish craft room closet purge
  • Put away/organize gift wrap stuff (3 boxes!) in the closet cabinet
  • Purge the ribbon stash (2 drawers & 2 bins)
  • Purge the yarn shelves
  • Sort scrapbook paper/purge


Day 8: Wrap up and Reflection

It was a busy day. Started the morning with a phone meeting, then spend a few hours decluttering the craft room. Then headed out to the wedding reception in the afternoon. I mostly just finished the closet purge and organization and spent time sorting way-too-much-ribbon (purged about half of the stash).

The closet is now dedicated to storing:

  • Gift wrapping stuff – boxes, tissue paper, bags, wrapping paper, and paper ribbon.
  • Greeting cards – I went through a phase of collecting greeting cards for every occasion and also a million blank note cards. They’ve all been brought together into a single spot now! (Still need to sort and purge these.)
  • Beads & jewelry making supplies
  • Specialty stationery supplies – Avery labels, binder divider kits, etc.

No pictures from today. Time was limited!

Day 10: DONE-ish!

I bet you’re wondering what happened to Day 9, huh? Well… I took a nap, read a book, sat on the deck, ran some errands, cooked some food…. and just generally took the day off. I mean, I’m on vacation this week, ya know. So I’m entitled.

So here we are on Day 10. I’m calling this project DONE-ish. There’s still lots to do and my house is still a wreck (more of a wreck than it was the other day when I had hope that it’d be back to normal). Oops! But the bulk of the work is done and I’m at the end of my vacation, so we’re going to wrap up this story and call this project finished. Plus… I’m running out of space on this spread in my bullet journal. I love how this looks!

Bullet journal cleaning spread

Still lots more to go, but this is my 9-day progress report.


Here’s what I still need to do:

  • Get these 26+ boxes of donation stuff OUT of my house. Not having a car for most of this week was not convenient for making trips to drop stuff off. I’ll work on that throughout the week.
  • Empty boxes & bins — You saw the pile of empty boxes from the other day. Well, that pile has grown even bigger. I need to break these down and get them outta the house. I’m also overrun with plastic storage totes that will need a new home.
  • Sort boxes of electronics. This includes backing up, reformatting, and prepping all those computers for sale. Plus I’ve got a couple computers that need to be set aside for the electronics recycling event in late June.
  • Tote bags, briefcases, purses, messenger bags — did I mention I love bags? That’s the only mountain pile that wasn’t sorted this week. I’m thinking I can reduce by half with many worthy of being sold.
  • Sell pile — yep, need to shoot photos and get all that stuff up for sale.
  • Filing — now that the file cabinet in the closet is cleaned out, I need to decide if I’m keeping that cabinet for files or if I’m going to move my lateral filing cabinet into the craft room to use instead. So I have a couple boxes of filing to deal with yet.
  • Reorganize craft supplies — I need to finish purging, reorganize and unify the storage of all the remaining supplies. This is going to take a few weeks.

Right now the craft room is still set up as a scrapbooking space because that was my hobby of choice before the room became a storage room. I’m not really scrapping anymore though (although I’m sorta feeling the desire to do it again… sorta). I need to convert this space to function based on my current creative pursuits (planning, stationery, journaling, blogging).

As I wrap up this blog, I’ll leave you with a few pictures:

My First Planner

Found this in a box. My first planner from 2005!

Wall of Shelves

Purged the obvious stuff I no longer needed/wanted. Still more to go.

Future Home of Photo & VIdeo Studio

Testing to see if I wanted a photo and video shooting island in this spot. Yep. I do. Need to build it now.

Stationery Nerd Headquarters

One of the biggest reasons for this massive cleanup project was so I could have a dedicated space for Stationery Nerd. My house has been overrun with journals (I mean… who in their right mind buys 30 frickin’ journals in a pursuit to find just one perfect notebook??). Not to mention pens, washi tape, stencils, and now traveler’s notebooks. Plus, my living room has become a photo and video studio.

So over the next few weeks, as I continue to sort and purge and reorganize crafting supplies, I’ll also be moving all my Stationery Nerd stuff into the craft room too. See that picture above where I was testing to see if I wanted an island jutting out from that empty wall? That will become my new photo and video studio space. Just need to construct something (TV trays and a piece of plywood isn’t going to cut it!). Having a dedicated space will help me be more consistent with reviews and new videos here on the site.

Video & Room Tour

I’ve been shooting some video all week. And once I get things set up as I want them, I’ll do a proper room tour video with some before-and-after footage. Give me a few weeks to wrap this up and get something put together. But be on the lookout for a follow up soon!

Thank you!

If you’ve been following along all week (or even if you’re finding this page much later) I just want to say a big THANK YOU! I appreciate you so much and I’m so glad I had ya’ll here to cheer me on all week. You guys rock!

The post The Great Craft Room Organizing Project appeared first on Stationery Nerd.

Finished Bullet Journal + New Bullet Journal Flip Through

While the rest of the world (or so it seemed) was happily setting up their new bullet journals to begin on January 1st, I was still going strong in my current journal. I knew I wanted to finish it out and start a new journal whenever I ran out of pages. So I held firm, resisted the temptation to start a new journal with the New Year, and I’m happy to report that I finished around the end of February and started a new journal right away. So now here we are in mid-March and it’s time for a bullet journal flip through.

The old bullet journal was with me from mid-July through mid-February. When I started my new journal I had a plan for migrating collection pages and various information and over the course of a long weekend made the move into my new bullet journal. The hardest part of this transition was actually deciding which brand of notebook to use.

Which new Bullet Journal should I use?

As you know, I’ve got a lot of extra journals just lying around and I had my pick of any of them. I pulled the top picks off the shelf and went through them all again. Touched the paper, fondled the cover, double checked the binding, scrutinized the accessories, agonized over color… let me tell you about the ones I almost picked and why:

  • Neo-Dot – In all honesty, this is the journal I most wanted to use. I really love the quality of the paper, the blue accents, and the attention to detail the Notobooks folks used when designing this journal. For the first ever journal by this new company, I’m really impressed. But there’s one small problem. Actually, it’s a big problem. They sold out. Not just sold out, but they sold out in a couple months and the designers are working on the second iteration of the notebook and they’ll come back to market when the new version is ready. Which means it’s not just sold out, but it’s going to be completely out of stock for a while. This wouldn’t matter if I was only worried about MY needs. I already own the notebook and it’s sitting right here. But that wouldn’t be very nice of me to talk about how awesome a notebook is and have no way for YOU to buy one if you wanted to. I do these reviews so YOU can make wise decisions about stationery supplies… so I can’t be selfish in my decision about which journal I’m using for my bullet journal. But believe me, I’m stalking their website and social media and as soon as they’re back in stock, you’ll hear me shouting it from the rooftops!
  • Uberworks – I already have an Uberworks GAYA going with the layouts I did from mid-October through the start of November. So it made sense to move into this journal next. I totally lost my way in October and had to abandon my current bullet journal for a few weeks so I could reset my mindset and find my way again. So moving into this book would have been the most logical choice. The only drawback is the paper. It’s 80gsm and gives me more ghosting than I prefer, so I decided to consider others instead.
  • Lemome – I own 8 of their notebooks and journals (even a traveler’s notebook they sell) so I have plenty to choose from in my stash. Plus, there’s been some problems with these notebooks lately – the binding is breaking for a lot of people – and I thought it’d be a good idea to use one of my Lemome notebooks and put it through its paces to see if I could break mine too (and determine what it takes to make that happen). So I pulled all my Lemome notebooks out and had pretty much settled on the Cork cover version. That was my choice! Lemome Cork Dotted. Done!

Hold on… not so fast!

After deciding on the Lemome Cork Dotted, I started carrying it with me so I could plan out pages. I added sticky notes to the pages to reserve spots for the collections, information, and spreads I wanted to create. During those two days of carrying it with me, I took a close look at the binding to see how strong it was going to be. That’s when a friend in one of the Facebook Groups pointed out the problem with the sewing on the spine. Basically, the stitching was done wrong so the end thread was sticking up between the pages instead of being secured in the back and adhered to the spine during construction. This means that if you snag that stitch on something or “pick at it” you can un-sew your book. The more I thought about what a disaster it’d be if I was midway through a journal and have it fall apart…. yeah, I started to change my mind.

Which notebook did I choose for my next bullet journal?

Once I determined that I wasn’t going to be valiant and sacrifice my planner peace by using a journal that I intended to “break” on purpose just for the sake of a review on this website. I love you guys and all, but there are limits. But I loved you all enough to not pick a journal that you couldn’t try yourself if you wanted. So my only logical choice was to buy another Tekukor Dotted Journal Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. and stick with the brand I have grown to love with my old journal. I quickly placed an Amazon order and as soon as it arrived, I pounced on it to get going on the migration. Whew! The agony of decisions like this. Seriously!

Tekukor A5 Notebook Hardcover Dot Grid Price: $12.95 Tekukor A5 Notebook Hardcover Dot Grid Disclosure: I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

My Bullet Journal Flip Through

I love watching journal flip-through videos on YouTube. So I knew I wanted to do one for ya’ll too. It’s late coming for sure. I’ve been in my new journal for almost a month now. But it’s never too late to share fun stuff, right? The benefit of waiting so long is that the flip through also includes the set-up in the new journal too!

Here’s the video. Let me know what you think or if there’s anything you have questions about that I don’t explain or you want to learn more about.

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