Friday, 1 July 2016

One Book July 2016 - Going Disk Bound

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year again. Here we are half way through the year already, which means it's time once again for ONE BOOK JULY.

You may recall I took part in this challenge last year. It's run by Rhomany (over at Rhomany's Realm), Carie Harling (at Dispatches from the Frat House) and Miss Vicky Bee. You can find videos from all three lovely ladies on YouTube about what they're doing this year and the overview video from Rhomany from last year is here.

Basically, it's about paring back your planning habits to really get to grips with your planning system. The original challenge was One Book, One Pen, One Month. This year they are adding an extra element - One Book, One Project, One Month. Pop over to Rhomany's video for an explanation of how that works.

For my One Book July this year, I'm going disk bound. I've been in my Starry Night TN for the last few months reasonably happily but, whilst I love the TN style and the Moleskine Cahiers I use in it, I've been looking for a little more flexibility in terms of being able to move stuff around. The problem with that is, I don't really get on with ring bound planners. The rings are too snappy. I just don't like them.

After seeing a couple of mentions of disk bound planners, I decided to investigate and ended up spending the last of my 40th Birthday pennies on a some items from the ARC system from Staples.

I opted for the A5 size (the pocket wasn't big enough, A4 was too big). I love a couple of things about this system.

1) The customisability (is that even a word?). I love that I can switch things around. That (with the help of the handy hole punch) I can put my own inserts in (yey for Etsy prinables!).

2) The paper that comes with it. Lined, plain and squared are available as well as some nifty shopping list paper and "To Do" lists (if that floats your boat). The quality of the paper is excellent. It even takes all of my fountain pen ink without ghosting (although there was a little feathering with one ink). Feels super strokable too.

3) The accessories are excellent. Zipper pockets, dividers, ruler, punched pockets. Anything you might want in addition to your paper inserts.

All in all the whole thing is making me pretty happy right now.

In terms of planning system for One Book July, I've gone back to a DIYFish insert. I'll still be using a BuJo style but I've found I've been through what feels like a million different versions of my own weekly layout but can't get anything to stick productively. I'm hoping a printable will give me back some structure so I can see what is and isn't working in the nitty gritty of my system.

Here's where I'm at then:

This is the ARC A5 Cover in the Hibiscus design. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I upgraded to the 1.5 inch rings (you know I love me a stuffed planner!).

Inside I've got a zipper pocket to start. Nothing much in there yet but I imagine it will house some stickers, a washi card and maybe some project lift cards and post it notes.

These small shopping lists/to do lists are one of my favourite things. There's not a day goes by I don't leave work with a list of things I need from the supermarket. Perfect to jot them down then pull it out when I get to the shop. I've got 5 heavy poly dividers going on currently (but I may look at making some laminated cardstock ones with some pretty scrapbooking card).

Current tabs are: Mo2P Year calendar:

This is from the SnB range by Marsia Bramucci on Etsy. Her Mo2P are my absolute go-to Yearly calendars, whatever style or size of journal I'm in.

Current Month (weekly and daily):


This is an A5 insert from DIYFish on Etsy. I come back time and time again to her inserts as I just love the look of them. I particularly like the layout of the weekly page on this version. It is the A5 ClassicB v3s1 + mo2p + ds5 do1p.

Monthly lists (this includes my gratitude log, monthly challenge prompts, anything that will change monthly):

Permanent lists (common place section, basically - books I'm reading or want to read, my TV series tracker etc):

Yes, I'm aware I watch too much TV. I am a Netflix binge-watcher and I'm not ashamed to admit it ;)


The left-hand side is a Etsy Printable from PeanutsPlannerCo. Idea completely stolen from Carie Harling in an attempt to at least record some element of my day even if it's only one line journaling.  

So, that's where I'm living for One Book July this year. I've been in the planner since Wednesday and I love it already.

For the project element, my decision as to whether or not to play along with that is somewhere up in the air. I have a million things I want to do but I can't see the wood for the trees with my choices at the moment. Hopefully something will come into focus in the next few days and I can decide to play along.

Even without that I'm focusing on regaining some use in my planning system and making it work for me again. My system has become a little derailed by the pretties to it's back to some structure and basics for me.

Progress updates to come when I've been living with it for a while.


Monday, 16 May 2016

Handpainted Fauxdori Traveller's Notebook: Starry Night

Do you ever have those ideas? The ones that kick around in your head for ages. The ones that keep circling back around to tickle your brain every so often. Bouncing around in your creative noggin like a pin ball?

For what feels like an age (months certainly, maybe more than a year), this idea has occasionally tripped its way across my creative mindscape. Sometimes quiet, like a field mouse. Other times as stompy as a herd of cranky elephants.

Inspired by the beautiful work of Monique Vanmeulebrouk over at Morgan le Fae's Trinkets I wanted to paint one of my blank Fauxdori notebooks with a custom painting.

The painting that really spoke to me is one of my favourite works of art. Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night".

There's just something about this painting that draws me in. I love the colour, the swooping lines, the moody tone. Just everything about it makes me smile. It was a no-brainer as a choice.

So, that was the big idea: A Van Gogh inspired "Starry Night" fauxdori cover.

The problem was, I don't have much confidence in my painting abilities. As much as I love messing about with paints and pastels and coloured pencils and collage, I don't really think I'm much of an artist. This challenge seemed much too "arty" for me to even attempt. So, as often happens when we let our pesky practical brains get in the way of our creative spirit, I didn't do it.

Why? I guess fear, mostly. Fear that the end product wouldn't match up with what my brain imagined. Fear I couldn't do it made me not even begin to try. How crazy is that?

Well, the idea wouldn't sit still and it once again reared it's troublesome head during the week. This time though, I was ready for it. Instead of thinking about how I couldn't possibly do it, I starting thinking about how I might be able to do it. A couple of YouTube videos (on how to copy art work) later and I had a plan.

I had a spare block of time on  Sunday so I just dragged out the art supplies and dove right in.

First, I printed a copy of the painting off the internet (at a similar size to the Fauxdori cover I'd made). Once I had that printed I divided it up into 16 equal rectangles (with some judicious paper folding) then marked out the lines with a black pen. This gave me a starting point for reference of what went where.

Once I'd done that I marked an identical grid on the leather with some brown pastel then drew in the main elements of the painting. At this point I hadn't intended blogging about it so didn't take any photos. Then I decided maybe I would so I took a couple of photos along the process.

When I'd finished marking out the design. I began painting. First with the background colours (blues ranging from dark to light):

Once I'd done the background blues I moved on the foreground features, the dark elements (are these trees? I'm never certain), the fields and houses, the moon and stars:

From there is was just a case of building the layers of paint up, trying to mirror the colours, without being too pernickety about the exact placement of the brush strokes (Van Gogh I am not!).  It really seemed to be starting to come together at this point - maybe there was hope for the idea yet?

Finally came the black outlines and details. This is where I actually began to think this could be something I'd be proud to take out of the house.

And then...voila! All finished. I had to stop myself from adding more to it because I think I could have plodded on forever making tiny adjustments. There comes a point where you have to call it done, I suppose.

An agonising wait for the paint to dry overnight meant I didn't get elastics into it until this morning. I'm happy to say it's all finished how though and is gracing my current collection of moleskine cahiers as my planner/journal this morning.

Every time I look at this notebook it makes me happy. It makes me happy because it's a representation of what I can do if I let go of the fear of messing up and just enjoy the process. It makes me happy because it's a little patch of colourful/swirly goodness that cheers my heart. It makes me happy because, well, it's a traveller's notebook, and they pretty much always make me happy.

Lesson of the weekend - sometimes you just have to be brave and dive right it.

What have you been putting off? What idea is stomping through your creative subconscious? Why not give it some air time, you might surprise yourself. I did.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Our Whole30 Journey

Was it really January when I last posted here? Eek! My bad. I was going to be all regularly bloggery this year. I guess that was an epic fail. Ah well.

Here we are in April then (although you might not think Spring had sprung looking at the UK weather last week). April saw a brave decision at Casa de Cookie, which was for Kendo and I to embark on the Whole30 programme.

If you're not familiar with the Whole30 movement you can check out details on the programme on their website, here. In a nutshell, the whole30 is a super clean eating, elimination diet designed to cut out food groups that most commonly cause food allergies/reactions and systemic inflammation in the boy. You eat "whole" foods for 30 days to reset your body (specifically your digestive and hormonal systems) and then begin a programme of reintroduction to try to weed out any adverse reactions you may have to certain foods.

The programme outline is pretty simple.

You can eat:
Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds (limited), good fats (e.g olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, clarified butter/ghee)

You can't eat:

  • Added Sugar or artificial sweeteners - including sugar, agave, honey,  even those pesky chemically sugars hidden by food manufactures.

  • Alcohol - even for cooking.

  • Grains - wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes any flours made from these grains.

  • Legumes - including any kind of beans or peas*, peanuts (technically a legume and not a nut), or any kind of soy.

*you can have snow peas, sugar snap peas and green beans as they are mostly pod.

  • Dairy - including cow, goat, sheep milk or cheese or butter (other than clarified butter/ghee which has no milk proteins), also any kind of cream or yoghurt.

  • Carrageenan, MSG or sulphites- mean and nasty things that food manufacturers shove into food as thickeners or preservatives. Nitrates are okay.

You're also not supposed to eat any "compliant" (that's what they call foods that fit the W30 profile) junk foods - so no sneakily making chips or "paleo" brownies.

In addition to the elimination of potentially problematic food groups, Whole30 challenges you to really think about your relationship with food, your cravings (why and when you crave the things you do), your eating habits (do you habitually eat even when you're not hungry?), your food choices (do you pick up things that are bad for you but quick and easy?).

We made the decision to embark on the Whole30 programme on 14th April. By the 17th we'd purged the cupboards of all things tempting, chowed down the last of the salt and vinegar crisps and were all set to go on Monday 18th April with a fridge full of meat, fruit and vegetables.

That was then. Now we're almost 3 weeks in (day 19 today) and things are going pretty smoothly for the most part. I have learnt some important lessons along the way (which I think might be useful for people thinking about starting out on the programme):

Menu planning has been hugely important for us (me) to make the programme successful. I couldn't have gotten through three weeks without having a set idea of what I was going to eat for each meal. Yes, it can feel a little restrictive. Yes, it's harder work in the first instance, but the ease it brings in terms of shopping, food prep and managing waste far outweighs any of that. I set up a two week menu plan and we're repeating it for weeks 3 and 4 which has worked great (more on that in a later post).

2. It's not about the scales
Prior to embarking on the Whole30 I had once again jumped aboard the Slimming World wagon. I've had some success with that programme in the past but (like many people) I tend to get hung up on the number on the scales (weekly weigh in will do that to you). Part of the Whole30 ethos is that it is focused on health improvement, not on weight loss (although most people find that as an added benefit). You're not supposed to weigh yourself for the duration of the programme and to be honest I haven't been tempted to. I'm instead focusing on "Non-Scale Victories" (NSVs) which have so far included - better skin, no IBS symptoms, more energy, less aches and pains, less food cravings and no hunger pangs. I've definitely noticed a change in my body shape so I know I have lost some pounds. What's interesting though is that I've found I'm losing off the important bits (like around my mid section where I carry most of me spare weight). Given this is the worst place to be carrying weight (being a contributing factor to a huge number of health concerns) that's a real bonus.

3. Whole food is actually pretty delicious
In all seriousness, who doesn't love junk food? It's designed to make us love it! It's manufactured with the express purpose of making us food coma happy and making us want more and more of it. Having not eaten any of it for 3 weeks I can happily say that I haven't missed it, not one bit! Not having processed foods in my diet has forced me to widen my horizons in terms of what whole food I am eating. A much wider array of fruits and veggies has passed my lips this last 3 weeks than have the last 3 years. I ate KALE for goodness sake (and truth be told I actually enjoyed it! Shhhhhhhh!).

4. It is possible to exist without cheese
Who knew? I really, really thought this would be a massive stumbling block for me. I love cheese. I eat (ate!) a lot of cheese. It is the one thing on the programme so far I have genuinely missed, but it is possible to exist without it. Trust me.

5. Sugar is in everything. EVERY. DAMN. THING.
I cannot get over the number of foods that manufacturer put added sugar in. The Whole30 turns you into something of a label reading maniac and once you start, well, the amount of added sugar in things is a real eye opener. Ham for example.....why does ham need sugar? can that possible require sugar? Not to mention the fact that they sneak it in things under a whole raft of names other than sugar (pesky little blighters!). Dextrose, glucose, maltose. Argghhhh! There's a whole list of sneaky sugars on the Whole30 website.

I'm hoping to share my menu plans and some of the meals that have been a winner for us over the next few weeks. I'll also be sharing my thoughts on reintroduction and the impact that has on us when we get to that point.

Hopefully if you're thinking about the Whole30 this has given you some (whole) food for thought.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Welcome to (a Purposeful) 2016.

Wow. Here we are in 2016 already. I cannot believe how fast the Christmas break has gone by. No sooner was the tree up and the Christmas dinner scoffed down than it was back to work and school and business as usual.

The beginning of January does mean that it's time, once again, to think about my guiding word for the year. Last year's word (you may recall) was CONSISTENT. If I am absolutely honest..... I SUCKED at consistent. I mean really, really sucked at it. I didn't manage to get to karate for anything more than a 4 month stint at time without taking a break, my eating habits were all over the place, I made no impact (whatsoever) on the house. My consistent 2015 was a wash out! *SIGH*

Not to be daunted by the epic lack of success last year, I once again worked through Susannah Conway's "Find your Word" mini-class. This is a great set of prompts over 5 days to really get you thinking about what guiding word might be right for you.

At the beginning of the process I'd been kicking around the word "abundant" which for some reason kept niggling at me. It wasn't quite right though and working through the 5 days of prompts other things began to emerge.

I'd definitely noticed the last few months a feeling of coming to the surface after being underwater for a long time. Since my Mum and brother passed away I've very much been treading water on a day to day basis - just getting through the day, and the week, and the month. More recently I feel like I need to start moving forward with things, that I need something to drive me out of the stagnant puddle, that I need some renewed purpose.

After chewing around those thoughts for a while, there was my word poking at me.


Purposeful will be my guiding word for 2016. As soon as it came to me I started to think about all the aspects of my life I could impact. Things starting coming so thick and fast I had to get a pen and write them down so I wouldn't forget. The result of that frantic writing session was my "purposeful" mind map:

So, how will PURPOSEFUL work for me in a practical sense?
In General
Well, overall for any action taken I will ask myself about the purpose - the "why?" of it. If it's not something that brings benefit, health, happiness, prosperity, comfort or joy to my life then why would I do it?
At Work
In terms of my career, my job role has evolved so much in the 8 years that I've been in place that my job description bares no resemblance to what I actually do and my salary in no way reflects the additional responsibilities I have. This year I will be taking purposeful steps to move forward with a re-evaluation of my role and recognition for the work I do.
For Health
I am back on the Slimming World bandwagon these last few months so I will be sticking with that and making purposeful choices about what I use to fuel my body. I have also rejoined the gym and I'm looking forward to increasing my strength and fitness. The purpose of this is that I potentially have 2nd Black Belt grading looming this year. I need to be fighting fit for that.
With Money
I want to be aware of what our funds are spend on. To move forward with a strict budget with the purpose of eliminating some of our debt and putting us in a stronger financial position.
At Home
Our house needs to be a haven. We spend a lot of time there (my introvert nature makes me a homebody) so we deserve for it to be a place of comfort and loveliness. At the moment it's mostly messy and cluttered and overwhelmed. Some purposeful decluttering of "stuff", moving forward with my P333 wardrobe (which I LOVE), a revamp of our bedroom (I am turning 40 in May and have decided that for my birthday I will finally be getting the new bedroom I've been dreaming of for years!).
For Creativity
I love making things and don't always make time for my creative activities. I need to accept that creativity in itself is a value pursuit, that it has purpose of it's own accord, because it brings me joy and is a huge part of my self care.
In Mindfulness
Part of the purposefulness will come, I think, from being more mindful. I'm guilty (as we all are) of getting caught up in the rat race, in the technology trap, in rushing from here to there, dashing through meals without thinking about what I'm eating, hurrying the kids along when they want to dawdle and just generally being mentally somewhere else instead of in the moment. I'm looking to be more purposeful with how I spend my time (our most valuable commodity?) particular with the family. The kids are growing up so fast. Miss Grace is turning 12 tomorrow (how can that be?). The won't be kids for much longer and we need to enjoy it why we can.
So that's it. That's the round up of my guiding word intentions for the year. I'm thinking I might put a page in my Bullet Journal for a weekly summary on how purposeful I've been in in these areas (Work, health, money, home and relationships, creativity, mindfulness) to try and capture where I'm succeeding and failing and to keep me on track. On a last note I'll leave you with my "Purposeful" mandala to finish off with a bit of pretty :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December Challenges

In an attempt to kick my creative butt into gear I'm taking part in a few creative challenges in December.

First off the bat is the Better Lettering Course challenge from I took the Better Lettering Course in the year (a really lovely course to improve your hand lettering). The prompts for December are all about reflecting on the year.

Prompt 1 is "Best thing that happened".

This was strangely a tough one for me. We've had a couple of pretty turbulent years lately and things can still be a little bumpy. I had a trawl through my 2015 Facebook feed for some inspiration for some good stuff that had gone on this year and this photo was the one that spoke to me:

We went to Porthmadog in North Wales for a week in April and had a lovely time. Snowdonia is a beautiful area and it was lovely to get out together as a family in the spring fresh air. So here we are for the better lettering prompt:

The second challenge is the December #PlanWithMeChallenge which is hosted by these lovely ladies:

* Jessica // Pretty Prints & Paper:
* Kim // Tiny Ray of Sunshine:
* Kara // Boho Berry:

There's a Facebook group and Instagram group for the challenge where you can play along. The idea is to encourage the sharing of planner ideas.

As mentioned in the last post I'm back to bullet journaling for December (still in my fauxdori).

Currently my set up is looking like this:

(Gotta have the month on 2 pages on the go. This is from Marsia Bramucci on Etsy. ADORE her stuff!).

(Quote and sticky notes (gotta be done for some plannering)).

(A squared moleskine large cahier notebook for my bullet journal).

(A monthly spread for December - looking pretty full already! This was my prompt photo for the first #PlanWeMeChallenge prompt. Day 1: Planner Selfie).

(Goals for December and a habit tracker - WIP on these!).

(Prompt lists and a gratitude section).

I think that's enough for now. More sharing to come, I'm sure.

Finally, I'm also thinking I will take part in Journal Your Christmas this year. I haven't done it for an age and was vaguely excited by the thought of playing along this year. I'm cooking up an album plan. First prompt is expected later so we'll see if that actually transpires.

I swear it never used to take me so long to write a blog post! #outofpractice!

More soon.