Home » Blog » journaling

Category: journaling

My Favorite Planner Notebook: Staples Arc System

Oh, the Arc System, how I love thee. I was first introduced to these notebooks when I was searching for a graduation gift for one of my interns. She was an uber-organized, Type-A person who I knew would appreciate what these had to offer. Once I found them and bought one for her, I knew I absolutely had to have one for myself. I used the notebook as a reward for myself for when I passed my NASM exam.
Meet the Arc System. I’m having a love affair with them. Don’t tell Hubster.
Check out this video to peek into my planner on YouTube.
Staples and Office Max both have their own versions of this notebook, as do Levenger, Rollabind and Martha Stewart. In fact, they’re all compatible with each other. What these notebooks consist of are circular disks (which come in various sizes) that the paper attaches to. But each page is entirely removable and then replaceable. What makes that so amazing is that its a perpetual notebook that works forever. You can continue tearing pages out and buying refills as needed. And you can combine all your notebooks for all your different projects in one so you don’t have to carry them all around separately.
You can also purchase all different kinds of fillers from graph paper to calendars to regular lined paper. Believe me, I stood in that aisle for a good half-hour weighing my options. Ok, probably more like an hour. Not only can you buy different fillers, but you can also buy file folders, page dividers, small list pads, sticky notes and other things that work with the disks too.

You can also use any of your own paper to refill the planner. To do that, you just need to pick up a compatible paper punch. The big hole punches cost upwards of $50, but you can get this “portable punch” from Levenger for just $16 like I did.
I only punch a sheet here and there so this works perfect for me. One such sheet is this page of scriptures that speak to my anxiety so I can reference it when I need it.
I like to use cute printables for my calendars instead of the ones that Arc puts out. Just do a quick search on Pinterest for calendar printables and you’ll find something in your style. Right now, I’m liking these.
I also have a small Rollabind version of the notebook that I found at work. I love the portable size! I use this notebook to record the workouts that I’ve been designing.

We had another sale at work where I found a few more Rollabinds and I snatched 3 up right away because I love them so much. They’re stashed away for a day where I decide I need another notebook for something. I’m a writer. It happens.
I encourage anyone that loves notebooks, planners, organizing, printables, etc to pick up one of these systems and choose a few inserts that suit your taste. Then, come back here and tell me how addicted you are. What are your favorite planners/notebooks?

Four Simple Goals


Following in Elsie’s footsteps, I decided to post four simple goals that I will be dedicating myself to for the remainder of the year.

1. Spruce A Space once a week: We are a typical family with typical “piles” in unsightly places and little non-beautiful messes. I would like to take time once a week to clean at least one little nook of dust and randomness. If I really want to impress myself, I might even add something beautiful in its place (a scented candle, a picture? We’ll see). *Reward for finishing: one small Etsy print purchase

2. Find Balance (in my checkbook): This is a boring one, but one I constantly struggle with and wish to overcome. Because, you see, my wellbeing depends on a balanced checkbook. When I have handfuls of receipts poking out of nooks in my purse and have that uneasy feeling of not quite knowing where we’re at, I feel unnerved. Even though its boring, this goal is dedicated to my personal happiness. I’ll sleep better, believe me. *Reward for finishing: a new checkbook cover

3. MOVE: I have a desk job and I often find myself coming to the realization that I haven’t moved from the time I punch in until lunchtime, except to take a bathroom break (oh, that sluggish feeling!). I need to get up at least once an hour to rest my eyes and move some blood around. This is a simple goal that I know I can do, I just need a silly written commitment like this to make it happen. *Reward for finishing: a new tea flavor

4. Art Journal Date: I signed up for Art Journal All Year, one of Elsie’s classes, at the beginning of the year and have yet to finish more than, um, three pages. I don’t want this to become a chore, so I’m changing the curriculum a little bit and making my art journal more of a dream journal where I make lists of things I want to accomplish and ways to bring them to fruition. The thing is, the process of journaling my dreams and making pretty pages is cathartic, stress-reducing, and productive. I also believe the process of dream planning leads to good things. It’s funny how those things you love the most get pushed to the side first.
*Reward for finishing: a new roll of washi tape

I am not only posting these goals here and submitting them to A Beautiful Mess, but I am also tracking them on DailyFeats, along with a few other achievable goals. The site encourages you to make healthy habits stick by creating little goal “triggers” like “after I brush my teeth, I will drink one cup of water.” They also offer a built-in rewards system for each feat that you accomplish every day/week. Tangible prizes like $5 off coupons make really good incentives to make your life a little better. Hopefully these rewards will coincide with the rewards listed above (i.e. a $5 coupon to buy a new checkbook cover).

I encourage you to take Elsie’s challenge or just dedicate a little time to some “Daily Feats” that you’d like to accomplish. Being stagnant is suffocating. Taking action will transform your life.

I’ll meet you back here to follow up as I achieve these goals.

Book Pages: Beautiful Hand Calligraphy

I remember doing a unit on calligraphy in my middle school art class. My mom took me to the store to buy an extra-special set of calligraphy pens because of my fervent interest in this particular art unit. Besides wanting to be an actress, ranch worker, artist, writer, singer-songwriter, fashion designer, beach bum and naturalist, I also wanted to be a professional calligrapher at one point. I even collected all the necessary tools and scavenged this seconhand calligraphy book:

Check out these rad typeface techniques. These would be perfect for art journals or scrapbooks.

Beautiful spiralling calligraphy:
Have you ever tried calligraphy before? It’s an enchanting art form. You can add another dimension of visual beauty to your handmade greeting cards or handwritten wedding invitations. This triple-tip technique looks reminiscent of manuscripts from the 18th century or something.


And here is my own attempt at an ancient typeface. This sheet was tucked inside the book and probably written by the little 7th grade version of me. I can hardly believe that I could pull this off at age 12.


Immediately upon seeing this practice page, something reignited inside of me. I just love the aesthetic of calligraphic letters. I think a part of me has always wanted to combine art and writing in some meaningful way. Well, ta-da!

Here an Art Journal, There an Art Journal

It must be a sign that I need to keep up with this art journaling business. Even my inbox is teeming with inspiration. I love the idea of art journaling because it’s a combination of a bunch of my favorite things. I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker, but I like the idea of combining pictures with quotes, thoughts, or literature passages. There was an English teacher in high school who had everyone keep an art scrapbook for the semester and I was sooooo jealous I didn’t sign up for that session. I like the idea of keeping a diary, but not in a “dear diary” sense of spouting how your day went, but in a more messy stream-of-consciousness way. And I like the idea of keeping a scrapbook of art inspiration, doodles, ideas, intentions and self-reflection. I think you can learn a lot about yourself by discovering patterns in your work. The art journal does all of this in one pretty little place.

If you’re interested in giving this art journaling thing a shot, here’s a link to a free e-book that just came to my email: Cloth Paper Scissors: Art Journal Techniques.

Note to self: it’s about time you publish a few of your pages:)

Packing More Life Into My Days

I have to say, I’m just loving these “10 minute increments” that I’m building into my day. I do sometimes truly feel like I’m packing extra life into my days. These are a few of the things that are keeping me busy:

1. TalkShoe.com: how come no one ever told me about this site before? Ha! You can literally take classes for free. I’m currently listening to a podcast course on entrepreneurism. I can sneak in clips here and get a Carnegie Mellon University-worthy education for myself along the way. What a concept!

2. TedTalks: These are just mesmerizing, if you didn’t already know. These come in 20-minute increments, but I often just have them playing in the background. Some are motivating, some are educational, and some are downright awe-inspiring.

3. I just picked up these two books from the library as a complement to the journaling course I’m taking. I’m just trying to soak in all the different journaling techniques to use and coming up with of some of my own.

Journal Junkies Workshop

Visual Chronicles

4. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall: I keep trying to squirrel away time to read this book, because I’m completely mesmerized. I’m a runner, so I find myself just wanting to steep myself in this culture of mega-distance runners and learn all their little secrets. My aunt was visiting last week and she was the one that turned me on to the book. Thanks Aunt Mary! And thank goodness for the public library.

5. Picnik.com: I messed around on this site this past week. Wow! Right now Picnik is offering all their premium stuff for FREE!!! Until April, when they merge with Google, the site is just open to the public. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a Picnik open slate, hey! I am trying to learn new ways to make my blog cuter without Photoshop. So, slowly but surely I’m teaching myself little techniques in those spare moments. I just played around with the above banner, designed an Etsy banner and made a really cool picture invitation. That’s right friends, I’m actually taking steps to open an Etsy shop. S’about time!

Any other ideas of great things to sneak in during the day? What do you accomplish on your lunch break?

How to Spend my Christmas Money

So, I am notorious for holding onto chunks of change until I find something I absolutely adore. There are no holes burning in my pockets like there was in my husband’s. His Christmas money is long gone, spent mostly on the magnetic force that is his appetite. I joked that he’d have his money gone by Tuesday, following Christmas, and mine would be gone by June. Anyhow, here are a few things that are stealing my thoughts lately and will perhaps be the means to the end of my small Christmas stash (because I guess you’re never too old to get Christmas checks):

1. The Crosley Lancaster: I haven’t owned a record player since college when one of my friends decided to borrow my thrifted find and returned it in “not working” condition. But instead of updating my vinyl collection, I decided I just couldn’t part with them and must.find.record.player. This particular record player has a CD player and radio built in. Best of the old and the new. I have a feeling that when I pull off the bubble wrap and test out the fresh needle, my level of inspiration will skyrocket. This is an investment in my productivity people!

2. Washi tape: I am an improviser the the nth degree, but you can’t really improvise on pretty tape, right? This will get used for all sorts of projects from art journaling to banner-making and other pretties.
3. Speaking of art journaling, my first $30 was spent without blinking an eye on Elsie Larson and Rachel Denbow’s Art Journal All Year e-course. That was literally a no-brainer. No thought whatsoever. My fingers did the walking before my brain even had time to process it. I never make impulse buys, so that must tell you something… I might consider buying another e-course from Red Velvet as well.
4. Feist CD: Every Pandora station I tune into comes around to her in one way or another. What can I say? Love it!

I have already spent a few bucks here and there one treats for my husband, a trip to the thrift store and a trip to Office Max to get a fresh new sketchbook for the art journaling challenge (which I will offer a sneak peek in a future post:) Oh, and I bought my boy some requested fine-point pens for his second semester of college. I am so proud, I don’t even know how to fully express it!!!

The Mother of Invention

My mind has recently taken to thinking up inventions and website development ideas. Of course, I don’t have the wherewithal to carry most of them out (or maybe I do and don’t know it). I just like to think them up. I keep reading about 16-year-olds who started up their own websites and became overnight millionaires. I’m not necessarily looking at this with dollar signs in my eyes, but the concept of coming up with these ideas just fascinates and intrigues me beyond belief.

Some of the websites that I’ve been thinking about are already out there in cyberspace. And they help me tremendously once I find them, such as this online recipe organizer. I start with the basic concept that the mother of all invention is necessity (I really need a place to store all my favorite recipes online!). Such a simple adage with such profound effects in the world.

I’m working on developing a personalized notebook where you can reload or remove sheets as needed. It would also include and organize a bunch of needs in one place. Mine would have about a million tabs in it for writing ideas, sketches, gratitude lists, books to read lists, things to buy lists and about 999,995 more. Different types of papers and designs would also be required. My notebook would probably be more like something you would find on Etsy. I’ve been doing a lot of research on quality sketch and watercolor papers and bookbinding techniques to make it just right. If I get good momentum going, I could probably make some others for upcoming gifts and sell them in my own yet-unestablished Etsy store. Here is a peek at some of the designs that are inspiring me right now:

I absolutely love the three-ring laminated designs by Crown Bindery

Monika Wright’s mini notebooks and albums are just darling and absolutely perfect.
I am a big fan of repurposing old tattered old books into something new and cherished. I’ve had my eye on storybook notebooks like this one from BigLittle’s shop for awhile now.
My husband has promised to try an experiment with a drill to see if we can bring some of my ideas to fruition. I am at least hopeful that we can “invent” some kind of paper organization system that works for me. I am so tired of seeing my little piles of tattered notes and musings scattered about everywhere. I need a place to keep them all safe and sound.
Plus, I’ve been on an artsy creation streak for awhile now. I recently made some no-sew applique scarves, fridge menu boards, fabric flowers and other ephemera. I just.can’t.sit.still!!!!