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
- A5 – Tekukor
- A6 – travelers notebook with Northbooks inserts
- B6 – Tekukor with Tomoe River paper
- B6 – Red Co. journal
- 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
JANUARY – OLD A5 TEKUKOR TO NEW A5 TEKUKOR
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.
MID-MARCH – TRAVELER’S NOTEBOOK TEMPTATION
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.
LATE-MARCH – OH! LET’S MAKE A TRAVELER’S NOTEBOOK
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!
LATE-MARCH-ISH – MIGHT AS WELL GET ANOTHER ONE
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?!
EARLY-APRIL – MORE TRAVELER’S NOTEBOOK TEMPTATION
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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MID-APRIL – THREE IS NOT ENOUGH, LET’S BUY ANOTHER TN
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.)
LATE-APRIL – MOVING INTO THE FOXY FIX
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.
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.
EARLY-SEPTEMBER – I FELL IN LOVE WITH JAPANESE PAPER
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
LATE-DECEMBER – COMPARING SCRIBBLES TO RED
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
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).
JANUARY 1 – MOVING INTO RED CO.
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.
MID-JANUARY – THE WANDERING EYE…
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…