Thursday, April 30, 2015

Traveling With a Computer, but Without a Computer

This post was written on April 8th, but I was not happy with it, as I said in the replacement. I edited it today, so here it is:

I was away for several days to visit my son and his wife and to celebrate Chreaster with her family members. I had been out of sorts at Christmastime, so we had Christmas after Easter supper. My son used to call people who only went to Mass at Christmas and Easter Chreasters. That name was appropriate on Sunday.
When I was gone, I had my old computer with me since my new one is out for repair. (Note to self: Be careful not to drop your new laptop.) This computer seems to like my wi-fi, but not my son's, therefore I could not write a blog post while I was gone. I might as well have left it at home, because it was like traveling without a computer.

I bought my first laptop in 2007 when I was in college. It was great to be able to take it back and forth for access to websites, gathering research for homework assignments, and preparing the same. But, I continue to travel with my computer after graduation.

How did people ever get along without this portable genius? 

Now, I will admit it - I am 55-years-old. I got along quite well all those years beforehand. I even found it annoying when my ex would bring his laptop on vacations to stay in touch with work. To me, that takes the purpose of a vacation away - we are supposed to leave work behind when we take a vacation, even if the vacation is a "staycation." But now, it is hard to live without the computer. 

I also had my Kindle with me. I could access the internet with it, but I would not write a blog touching one letter at a time. Can you imagine it? I was able to work on my Sophie's Universe by accessing the directions at Look at What I Made, read, watch videos, check email, and play games with it, though
This is, hopefully, the last post written on this old laptop. I bought a new Toshiba to replace the one I broke (Reminder to self: Do not drop your laptop.) last month. Tomorrow, it will be set up day, and I plan to write tomorrow's post on the new one. Until then...



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Guest Blog: Art Book Journaly Thing

My third guest blogger for this series is Faustine Vaughn. I am grateful for her time in putting this post together and being willing to share of herself on my blog. Read Faustine's "About Me" at the end of this post to learn a little more about her. Enjoy!


Please note: All photos are the property of Faustine Vaughn. If you use one of them elsewhere, please credit Ms. Vaughn in keeping with copyright law.

When Amelia asked me to contribute to this series of guest blog posts, I was willing to play along, but also wondered to myself “Why? My planner isn’t especially elaborate or scrapbooky!” But I started thinking about it, and surprisingly, somewhere along the way it did kind of develop into a planner with “art journaly” aspects. Using planners as art journals, scrapbooks, or outlets for creative expression does seem to be exploding in popularity lately – at least based on what I see in social media and online art journal groups. 

One example that immediately comes to mind is the Hobonichi Techo planner, which with its one-page-per-day format you will often find people using watercolors and sketching to document their activities or moods each day. The Erin Condren Life Planner and Plum Paper Planners are also popular methods for people to express their artistic side via weekly “life” planners, albeit because of the space restrictions of a weekly layout, they tend to use stickers and tape rather than watercolors and sketches. But the end result is the same, people are really enjoying expressing themselves with their planners, and as I looked back at my completed weekly planner pages, I realized I was too.

How did I arrive at a weekly planner layout? Because it best suits my needs for a personal planner right now. I don’t have a lot of daily appointments or intricate task lists that require a one-page-per-day planner format. I have some reminders and to-dos, and thought about starting to track meals or fitness somehow. I knew I wanted to use a discbound notebook rather than a Filofax or other ring-bound system, but wasn’t finding any printable planners that I liked enough to put in my notebook and make a DIY planner. So what’s a girl to do? Make her own, of course!

Choosing a Format:

I decided to use the Erin Condren/Plum Paper Planner weekly layout style, with the empty boxes for morning/afternoon/evening to inspire my own Pretty Pretty Planner refill pages, as shown here.

I kept the weekly day columns divided into sections, and added secondary sections for checklists and a meal/fitness tracker, leaving it open rather than super-specific, as that suited me better. I thought that I’d buy all sorts of stickers and washi tape, and decorate my pages alongside with my appointments, to-do lists, and planned meals - and generally be all sorts of organized! But … I was all gung-ho about the format, and didn’t actually stop to think if I had enough actual “planning” data to fill them! 


What actually happened, as I soon found out, is that I had lots of blank pages. The sticker thing I wasn’t much into; I couldn’t get into just having a glorified sticker book. And besides, they cost money and take up space to store them! The washi tape too soon became cumbersome. And so, the emptiness stared at me, and I stopped carrying it around with me. Which just was not acceptable! So instead, I started filling my blank spaces with doodles. Nice big random doodles that suddenly gave my planner a more interesting and colorful look.

I think it really started when I made sarcastic comments about my inability to complete a task I'd put on my planner ("Pay Your Mortgage" for those interested - I did pay it eventually. By the end of the week). I kept moving it from day to day, and it made me giggle to keep putting the reminder. But also, it made me less nervous about “messing up” my planner pages.

Art Book Journaly Thing

I then moved on to doodling next to meetings or appointments, just to have something to doodle about. Usually these involved coffee. Coffee comes up often in my planners.

And since I never knew what to actually DO with the “evening” section boxes (because really, we go home, cook dinner, watch some TV or read, and go to bed – what’s to schedule!?) I started putting weekly TV shows I was looking forward to watching, or book titles I was reading.

Because I live in Colorado, land of insane weather patterns, it can be miserably snowy in the morning and a sunny 70 degrees by evening. So I started doodling whatever the weather was, whether it made for a bad commute, that kind of thing. And so a lot of mornings my planner had both coffee AND weather doodles - haha.

I also started to doodle things to note for my timesheets, like telework days, vacation leave, etc.

And used doodles to enhance my shopping and to-do list items.

I started to use it for keeping track of big events or projects at home too.

I’m even starting to do something similar with my monthly calendar pages – they are the most neglected part of my planner, as I’m always forgetting to use it aside from bill reminders. So I’ve started adding fun little doodles or splashes of color when I can.

As you may have noticed, I keep my doodles small and compact - quick casual scribbles that made me happy, just to have something on the page. For inspiration I’d try to pick an emotion or something unique from the day to use as my subject, but nothing that required thought or planning - if I thought about it too much, I’d over-analyze, and then stall and put nothing in my planner.

The Rebel Inside... Or Outside

And, over time, I’ve started branching out BEYOND the borders of my little morning/ afternoon/night sections. Across days even! Whoo boy, I don’t know if I’m ready for this….I’ve only just started doing it so it still seems a little …. Rebellious? You mean I can draw OUTSIDE THE LINES!?


I plan to continue these art journal explorations in my planner - as I've been adding these doodles, I discovered that I really liked flipping through the previous week's pages and seeing how much I hated my commute that morning or how badly I needed coffee before that staff meeting. It's a great way to enhance the planner experience and make it more of a memory book as well. I hope you enjoyed seeing my process in this blog post.

About Me 

I’m an accountant by day, but like to indulge in my planner, pen, and art obsessions whenever possible. I live on coffee, name my dogs after Star Trek engineers, and can’t seem to quit Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. Visit my blog at to join me on my explorations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guest Blog: Organized Chaos…Planning With a Purpose

Today's guest blogger for this series is Jenise Spears. She was very patient with me, as the computer her work was on died, so she had to resubmit everything to me. I am very grateful to her for sharing with me and my readers. Enjoy!


Please note: All photos are the property of Jenise Spears. If you use one of them elsewhere, please credit Ms. Spears in keeping with copyright law.

So, I have many hobbies…and have gone thru many phases in my life….purse collector, shoe hoarder, interior designing, nail polish addict, and finally, planner girl.  I’ve been a planner girl for over 20 years.

I started with the Franklin Covey series of planners, I was a devout October/ November shopper where I had to go to the store for the latest themed set for the New Year.  This went on for quite a number of years until Franklin just stopped publishing cute pages and started to bore me (I think it was when they retired my girl, Maxine).  After I left Franklin…I went rebel for a while and just used plain notebooks/notebook papers to capture notes, journal, and write in.  I used every color of the rainbow ink in my books, because I had to keep it pretty.  But I grew bored with that.

Then I discovered the Arc discbound system and my tired eyes were revived to know that not only could I customize my planner, but I could decorate it, too!!! I was finally free to do me.

My latest planner pages are the Passion Planner, which helps me to figure out my passion/goals and track towards that. I use this planner for work and I usually decorate it every Sunday night… prepping for my week at work. 

I start with figuring out what’s going on in my week and what inspirations will help me through that week, which is when I pick out my colors, themes, Washi and stickers.  For this week, I chose a cross Washi pattern and coordinating colors, since it’s the week before Easter, a holy week.

Many people have their own style of design or decorating their pages, and I like to think it’s like scrapbooking on steroids. 

Where to buy?

Just about every store is getting into the paper business and some of my favorite places to shop for supplies are Target, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and others.  Each of these stores also have a broader range of selection on their online site.  Make sure you sign up for notifications from JoAnn’s and Michaels because they have sales and coupons weekly!  (That’s every week... rarely do they skip a week.) 

How to place them?

Wherever you like. I like to put Washi on my page edges to reinforce them. I’ve also used them in the spine of my binder for decoration and stability.  In a discbound system, it can make the hole punching just a wee bit difficult with that Washi on the spine, but it works.  For my passion planner I also cover up my times with Washi tape, as I write in my main appointments. I usually find an inspirational quote or two to place on my weekly pages that will help to inspire me as I work towards the goals I’ve outlined for myself at the beginning of the week. 

This is my Sunday routine that I usually do every Sunday evening while watching my favorite shows on TV.  I carry my supplies to work with me, so I’m able to add or change my pages at will.

How to store the supplies?

I have a couple of pen/pencil cases that hold all of my small Washi, pens, highlighters, tapes, etc.  I’ve “repurposed” a makeup bag that now serves as my daily commuter, bringing along many stickers and supplies. I never leave home without these bags. 

This decorating can take as long as you want, but mine usually takes no more than 30 minutes as I check out my calendar and appointments and incorporate my decorations from there.  All in all, it’s a wonderful way to organize the chaos in my ever-changing mind.  

Happy planning!

Jenise's blog is located at:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Blog: When the Cat Pukes on Your Planner

My first guest blogger for this series is Dawn Paoletta. I am grateful for her time in putting this post together and being willing to share of herself on my blog. Dawn's bio is at the end of this post. Enjoy!


I wake up, brew the coffee, feed the pets, and turn the corner into my Girl Cave known lovingly as the family office. In reality everyone knows it's mostly my territory. It is an unspoken understanding. You know how cats don't need to say anything but you know exactly where you stand with them at any given moment. It's like that. My planner sits on the desk, open, ready to assist me in the details of my well planned day. That's when I notice the brownish-grey spew covering my precious planning partner.

Source: Dawn Paoletta
Cat puke. Ugh! The cat hairball and accompanying liquid bleed through the pages of my life as I stare in disbelief. I prepare to assess the damage, and ponder the not so subtle implications of this divine feline message. The cat is nowhere to be found. Lucky for her.

We painstakingly plan our days, months, weeks and years. Sometimes it seems we spend just as much time planning as living. I used to believe that in Heaven, I would be a librarian. Until I realized I would rather be running the library, and the universe on most days, than actually accepting my small role in the daily scheme of things. Hence where my planner problems and frustrations begin.

Not only do I seek to squeeze too much into my day, I sometimes do the same with my planner. It's as if I want to squeeze my very life and the sum of it into my planner so I can have it with me, just in case. Just in case what? I have no idea, because none of us really knows all that is coming each day. We can plan for our days, and pray about each one, but in the end we must get on with the business of living and leave the rest in hands that are bigger than our own.

I have found that the things that have impacted me most in life have been me.

Whether the cat pukes on your planner or your just having one of "those" days, I've learned a thing or two from beyond the pages of my own planner I'd like to share with you. Consider these small lessons and tips while you plan your own days. I hope you find them useful for your own journey. I am still learning these lessons myself, because I tend to be a little thick in the head.  As for me next,  I'm going to find the cat.

1. Peace is found in stillness, not busyness. Take some time to be still in your day at some point. During this time, do NOT plan. Just allow yourself to sit, and ponder, reflect . In these moments of quietness you will gain insight into your own thoughts, feelings and insights. Sometimes we get so busy caring for the needs of others we forget to tune into ourselves. Don't make that mistake. A few jots into a gratitude journal, watching the birds outside, or just sitting quietly with a cup of tea can help open us up to the possibilities of what might be an overwhelming day, moment or situation.

 2. Abundance is found in simplicity, not excess. This is a humbling acknowledgement. Beware your own desire to gather. When we have so much we cannot find the one thing we need, we need to pause and consider releasing what we have to gain what we lack. All that means is, get rid of your junk! It might be overwhelming you now, but start small and begin releasing what is not beautiful, useful or necessary from your life. Give it away or throw it away but either way don't let anything stay that stifles your commitment to beauty, simplicity, and practicality as you see it.

3. Great Expectations are for life, not planners. A planner is a fancy task pad after all; it is not the Holy Grail. It does not have special powers, nor will it bring you good fortune, luck or peace. It  is what it is: a tool to assist you in organizing your thoughts, goals, tasks and obligations in a planned fashion. Guess what? Your plans, at best, are an estimated guess at what will happen in a day. Ideally. But, when ideal doesn't happen, all bets are off. Ultimately, proper perspective in our expectations toward planners, people and life will get us further than the details of any day.

BIO: Dawn Paoletta is a life enthusiast who loves to juggle words, chug coffee, and journal excessively. You can find her gathering stones on the beach most mornings. She loves hanging out with her hubby, daughter and family pets close to home in the smallest state in the US: Rhode Island. She blogs and shares her passion, poetry and prose @Enthusiastically, Dawn

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Journals and Scrapbooks and Planners...Oh, My!


As mentioned in a previous post, I started keeping a diary as a tween. I have written sporadically all these years. My first diary was ruined when stored in a dirt-floored cellar. Spring rains seeped into the basement, and it mildewed, along with some other memories of childhood. 

Me, age 15, lunch recess
Photo credit: Nancy de Garcia
I noticed once that I tended to journal when things were not going well in my life. When my second wedding was canceled, I turned what was going to be a guest book/wedding journal into the story of the wedding cancellation and my feelings around that. The wedding did take place 13.5 months later, but by then, my oldest son had scribbled on some of the pages of the wedding journal, and I did not want people reading the early pages. I still have that journal, of course, and it is still not full. It is from a part of my life that has long since passed.

During the first 18 months after the marriage failed, I poured my feelings into journals. Three of them just filled with pain - sometimes "stream of consciousness," sometimes full of thought, but all pain. When the elephant moved off my chest, I realized I never wanted to revisit that pain or have anyone else read the words I had written. I burned that in the fire pit in my backyard. Once in a great while, I wish I had not done so, but I am glad I did, overall.

I have written a couple more since then, but I realized I was turning them into a scrapbook, of sorts. I would print out stories written for a college class, cartoons and horoscopes that struck me, especially "Zits" - was the writer/artist in my house when I had teens? And positive fortunes. And, of course, fortune cookie fortunes.


In addition to the journals, I started keeping traditional photo album scrapbooks. I had always been good about labeling my photos in the self-adhesive albums, because I would ask my mother about pictures in hers, and she did not always remember who was in them. In November 1996, I picked up a new magazine, "Creating Keepsakes." It was the first magazine devoted to crafted scrapbooks.
The best piece of advice was to get photos out of the self-adhesive albums because the glue sometimes let loose, resulting in lost photos. Worse than that, the adhesive could eat into the photos, eventually destroying them. The fumes let off could also ruin Polaroid-type pictures. Many hours were spent removing all the photos from those self-adhesive albums making sure to keep them in order and copying the captions for future scrapbooks.

I opened a store soon after reading the magazine, and I sold them and scrapbook supplies in the shop, as well as the handcrafted items I was consigning. The store had two problems, 1) I did not feel I could advertise the scrapbook items with my limited media budget, because I felt I should advertise my consignors’ items, and 2) the store was in a town that rolled up the sidewalks from Columbus Day to when school let out in June. It is hard to make a profit without customers, and 18 months after first opening, the store closed. Like 95% of other entrepreneurs, my business failed.

I took all of my mother's scrapbooks and boxes of photographs and made scrapbooks out of them. It was easy to divide them into categories, and I filled seven binders with her memories. My mother had a terminal illness, so I knew time was of the essence, and the last book was finished about six months before she passed. My sister-in-law was with her during her last hours and read to her from the scrapbook, describing the photos she could no longer see.
At the funeral parlor, the albums were placed around the viewing room. It was interesting to see how little clusters formed based on when people new my mom - schoolmates, co-workers, lifelong friends, and people there to support my siblings and me. I had created one album with my sister's family knowing that I would pass it on to her when the funeral was over. Another album was my family and memories from my mother's visits with us.


Since I was in junior high, I started keeping an assignment book. Thinking about it, an assignment book is a planner of sorts - the assignment is written down with a due date. The same information could have been written into a planner rather than an assignment book.
In college, I started keeping a calendar, putting due dates, holidays, semester information, etc. As my life changed, I started keeping calendars that were color-coded - son #1 - black ink, son #2 - red ink, son #3 - green ink, me - purple ink. Between sports, scouting, and drama, those calendars filled up quickly. The colors helped me know who needed to be where when.

HOWEVER, the wall calendar was too large to take with me when I was out-and-about, so I began keeping a planner. Of course, all the calendar appointments had to be in there so that I would not double-book. And then adding new appointments to the wall calendar.

Fast forward to about eight months ago. While on Facebook, I noticed one of the suggested groups was a planner group. That is when I found people who turn their planners into pieces of art that includes journaling.

A to-do list - journaling; a daily chore list - journaling, Washi tape and stickers added - scrapbook; drawings - an art book; adding appointments - a planner. All in one - perfect.

Over the next few days, I am presenting guest bloggers who will share their planner process. Jenise Spears will go through her process of decorating her pages, Dawn Paoletta will show how she uses her planner as a journal, and Faustine Vaughn will demonstrate how she uses her planner as an art book.

I am very grateful to the women who have donated their time and talents to this blog. It is truly a privilege and an honor. 



Friday, April 24, 2015

Watching Sophie's Universe Grow with Sara Paplia

It is a privilege to present today's blog. One of my fellow crocheters of Sophie's Universe, Sara Paplia, has given me permission to share her photos here. Sara takes photos of her Sophie as Parts are completed. 

Sara has 19 colors of Red Heart Super Saver yarn, which is a worsted-weight size 4 yarn. This weight uses a larger crochet hook, and the finished product is the largest of the demonstrated pattern at Look At What I Made.

It is fascinating to watch Sophie grow. 


The center flower's petals radiate outward
From round to square

A view from above - Sophie's Universe covers the tabletop
Becoming an octagon
White tulips

Folded in this way gives a great view of the repetitions
Close-up of a corner flower
Sara's husband, PFC Paplia
Sophie is so large now, she no longer fits on the table
Note the corner detail with Sophie squared off once more

Butterflies added

Close up of corners
Part 15 complete
Add caption

Note how Sophie looks 3-D even in a picture

UPDATE  - Sara has finished her Sophie's Universe; here are two additional pictures to show the completed afghan.

Corner detail