The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thank you all

I had some goals when I started my blog in February 2009. For many of those years I blogged every single day. I blogged on weekends, I blogged when I was on vacation and when I wasn't blogging, I was thinking about it and learning how to do it better. It energized me, made me feel connected and creative.
I focused on it, networked... tried to grow it into something special. In the last two years or so I moved to posting only few times a week but at this point it's only monthly. I used to love doing the posts and I worked very hard to make whatever I had to say entertaining, no matter the subject.
But coming up with original content is very time consuming when you are the only one writing - and honestly, I've not met the goals I set for myself. Maybe that is why it doesn't feel fun anymore or maybe I've just done it so long I'm burned out... I'm really not sure. I'm not sure it matters.
I think it might be time to just let it go. Chalk it up to something worth while that I'm proud to have done but didn't go as I'd planned. Maybe the space left by letting go will make room for other ways to be creative that might be more fulfilling.
I want to thank everyone who has ever read my posts, the long ones, the short ones, and especially the ones with the crazy crazy titles. At this time my blog has had over half a million hits... so please accept half a million thank yous - it's been a great ride and a wonderful journey....
Love you all,
tracy - the crazy suburban mom who doesn't feel all that crazy anymore.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The soft pile at ground zero

A few hours ago I had a planner related meltdown on facebook.  Everyone was so kind about it; coming up with suggestions and offering assistance.  You guys got me though this afternoon....

Since that status update I had occasion to walk Ventura and as often is the case,  someone did not pick up after their dog.    This time, instead of Ventura brace descending into a soft pile at ground zero, my sandaled feet did.   I suppose there are a lot of possible reactions to this, mine was to have an epiphany.

 Put on your big girl panties Tracy -  There are worse things then planner issues and one of them is squishing up through your toes now.

  I considered all this further as I carried Ventura's bag of doody in one hand and what was once my sandals in the other, to the poop station.  

When I got home I threw out my sandals,  washed my feet several times with anti bacterial soap, followed by an obsessive dousing with alcohol.  Then I tried to get to my happy place and set about righting my planner.    (Although, I suspect my feet will never seem clean  again.)

I had a mix of dated 2014 inserts that can get me to 2015; some English, some not so much.   I was able to dig up a rag tag assortment of single sheets  that I can use as daily pages and I printed the A5 DIYFish  weekly pages (the one that folds over) to use.   That page is the best thing for the way I meal plan. period. Plus I  suspect the  weekly review area and  section about 'whats most important this week"  are exactly what's been missing in my planning.

It's all in my Malden now.   I guess I can't call it a franken-planner because the planner isn't a jumble of parts....  But if my planner was a band I'd call it Mr. Malden and the Franken-serts...


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Pen Tests Part 2, The Pilot G2 Pens.

I haven't had a Pilot G2 in quite a while but they were the first type of pen I ordered en masse.  While I've used planners for ages I only went hard core a few years ago and the G2's were my initial pen crush.  I was putty in their hands and helpless to resist their clean, unique colors and great price ($1.50 at Jetpens).

According to the Pilot website, the G2 is Americas #1 selling gel ink pen, and "contains a dynamic gel ink formulated for smooth and long lasting writing. Retractable and refillable, G2 gel ink writes 2X longer than the average of branded gel ink pens." They describe them as "the longest lasting gel ink pen, retractable, refillable, and comfortable.

I have to agree, they are smooth on all paper types and when I think about all my pens, they DO last  long.  I've gone through one Coleto refill after another but the G2 pens just march on like ever-ready little colorful penmanship soldiers.  

The drying time is somewhere in the middle of the gel pen family, a bit longer then Coleto ink and shorter then Juice Pens, much shorter on many papers.  Pilot refers to them as smear proof, but in my experience that is only if they stay dry;  they don't hold up to getting wet or with most highlighters.

That said, they are a great bargain,  come in many colors, some truly unique,  and are probably the best, smoothest writing,  pen I can find locally. They are  the first pens I bought for my son to decrease the work of writing in school, the comfort grip and smooth ink made a difference for him and the cost assured when (not if) he lost the pen I wouldn't have screaming-mommy-conniption.

I got four colors with my last jetpens order; teal, lime, periwinkle and caramel.  All the pens write smoothly and two of them - the periwinkle and caramel - are colors I've not found in other brands.  That's saying a lot, I'm lousy with writing implements.

Enlarge picture for specifics.... 

All these pens can be found at Jetpens, click the pretty planner logo below to get there


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Pen Tests Part 1, Frixions

I ordered some pens recently, hadn't done that in ages because for months (and months and months) my go to writing implement has been a Grey 0.7 pilot juice pen.  I love the Juice pens, they are like a reliable old friend. I  know with every fiber of my being if I put a Juice to paper it will write cleanly, smoothly, and without skipping.

So why the order?

Three reasons.   First, the drying time of Juice pens is pretty extended on the Tomoe River paper so I've been writing with other pens when I need to  write and go, second, I was reading pen reviews last week and missed having a large selection of pens that make a boring to-do list sparkle like multi-colored jewels (Nothing cuts the sting of a 'clean your toilet' notation in my to do list like a pen the color of a tropical flower) , and third ...  beautifully colored pens are great for the little drawings I do in my planner and I hadn't purchased pens in so long I didn't have much variety.

The Frixions

I ordered three Frixion pens in the 0.7 width to add to the grey one I own.  I use the grey one frequently as it dried faster then the juice pens but I wanted to try some of the colors. An interesting aside:  They rely on the heat generated by rubbing the eraser to remove ink and on smooth paper it's a little more challenging then on a toothier paper.  They work best if you allow them to dry first but you really do have to rub enthusiastically to remove them from Tomoe River paper.

The Violet Frixion might be the most unique pen color I've had in ages, maybe ever.   There are a lot of purple pens but this color is more a beautiful opaque orchid  and I've never seen it in any other pen, not even any of the Frixions.  Its a beautiful shade of purple that leans a bit towards pink without becoming magenta.  Truly a singular color in ink.  The only thing I've seen close to this color is the Filofax Aston in Orchid.

The Light Blue Frixion is a beautiful clear aqua.   It's a really striking color.  I've had similar colors but their print always reads much lighter.  This pen is a lovely medium turquoise that doesn't lean too blue or too green.  It's the color I think of when I think aqua and in fact it looks very much like the Aqua Finsbury....    (You know you're a planner geek when all colors remind you of Filofaxes) 

The Lime Green Frixion is another interesting color.  Many pens called green are more  a dark serviceable green, nothing wrong with that really but they lack a bit of punch, of pizzazz.   Any variations in green usually fall into apple green which is okay but not very unique.   The Lime green Frixion looks like highlighter green to me....  bright,  vibrant and unique for a writing pen.  

These 0.7 pens lay down a lot of color without being a big goopy mess.  They dry faster then Pilot Juice ink and erase (with a little effort on smooth paper).   The only downside (for me) is they are capped and lack a pen clip so carrying them around is a bit of a how-do-I-carry-this.  

 Frixion ink varies and while these lay down striking rainbows of color, my grey pen from the same line, doesn't make as a strong a statement, it seems less pigmented.  In a lot of ways they remind me of the Sakura Gelly Roll pens for their bold colors and strong presence on paper. At $2.15 they are a great value. The ink doesn't run out quickly and their pizzazz factor is very high on the pizzazzy scale.

Here is a pen test I did yesterday, the three Frixion pens are on the bottom.    I will do a follow up to this post for my other new inky beauties.

All these pens can be found at Jetpens, click the pretty planner logo below to get there


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Planner Gestalt

I'm using two separate planners to make one cohesive organizing system that makes sense to me.  My Filofax has attributes the Hobonichi Cousin doesn't and visa versa. I've never been able to use two planners and really, I'm still not.  Each does something different and their jobs don't overlap.

I've had a lot of questions about how this is working and specifically what am I doing so I did a follow up video to try and answer the questions...  If I forgot anything please let me know!

According to Wiki - "...the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with, perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole is other than the sum of its parts."

And that rings true to me.  It's not just the binder, or the pages, or sections, or notes.  Not just or the sticky tabs and pens and lists and clips.  It's also  thing individually AND  together.

  In the gestalt of planning, this makes perfect sense....   On one hand it's a Filofax, on the other hand a Hobonichi.... and in the realm of gestalt it seems there's a third hand, everything together.  



Monday, July 14, 2014

Small potatoes

Old school planners work for me. Period. End of story....

 Besides their whole analog appeal, using one gives my crush on all things stationery a legitimacy it wouldn't otherwise have.  But I think the biggest thing I get from them is a success I'd not have otherwise.

Long term memory is a bit of a hurdle for me, as is planing, organizing, storing important information,  and maintaining order in general.  To combat all of this I make lists, review my pages, and rewrite a lot.  

While many organizing experts feel rewriting is a waste of time (and I'm sure it is... for them), for me it gives an order to chaos.   A planner really does work for me for a lot of reason but I think it's the writing and rewriting that does the trick - and there is a lot of data to show it's an effective strategy.

From Mindtools: Rewriting and reorganizing your notes is another great way to review information. This might seem like a waste of time at first. However, rewriting can be a very effective method for reinforcing what you've learned. Research shows that the act of rewriting notes helps us clarify our understanding."  To remember what we've learned, we need to commit information to our long-term memory. A great way of doing this is by reviewing information regularly."

 I have to wonder if just regularly reviewing information will work as well as all the rewriting.   I've been considering different ways to keep the information constantly in front of me,  to see if it will be as effective as the repetition of rewriting.

  I decided to start small,  things I need from the grocery store  because if I forget to buy my favorite coffee creamer.... I'll be bummed but in the grand scheme of the universe it's small potatoes.

I wrote commonly purchased items on flags and stick what ever I need on a laminated card I made. It's bright, it's attracts my eye and hopefully it will work.  

But if not, eh....I'll just go back to rewriting  and be okay with that.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy


Friday, June 27, 2014

The party bus in motion...

I did a follow up to my last post, As big as a party bus filled with bridesmaids.... as a video.  Partly because not everyone who reads my blog watches my videos (and visa versa) but also because I think it's easier to get a feel for things in motion....

Pictures are great for specifics but it's hard to gauge things like size and heft in a still picture my planning system has a lot of both lately.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

As big as a party bus stuffed with bridesmaids...

I considered getting a Hobonichi Techo planner for the last two years and recently  had the opportunity to buy one from a fellow planner person.  Rebecca purchased the Cousin  (A5 size) and it wasn't working for her.   This was excellent timing because the Cousin runs April to April and it was the beginning of April.


I've been using it exclusively since April 5th  and want to share some thoughts on the Hobonichi Cousin.  Because planner use is as individual as snowflakes something that is a negative for me might be better then a deep-fried Twinkie  for you.   Also since everyone has different organizing needs I can only speak to my uses.  (For example: I know a lot of people use a Hobonichi as a personal journal/diary.  I think it would be bangin' for that but since I've never tried it, that won't be something I give a thumbs up/down on)

1.  First, the main site that sells Hobonichi planner is in Japanese and  you can buy a Hobonichi through that site using Google translate BUT it is much easier to use the English (here) Version.

2.  I thought I could use the planner without a cover, and perhaps if I used it exclusively on a desk that would work, but I don't and I couldn't.   It will save you aggravation and a second shipping charge if you buy a cover with the planner.   Covers change from year to year and if you see one you love, buy it.  Covers sell out and are not replaced with other designs until the following year.   There are both leather and non-leather plus a vinyl cover for the cover.   I got one and am very glad I did but please note: These can not be used on any leather, and some non-leather covers. It's not  easy to find the information.  There is a small blue 'important information link (see below) on the page...

cover cover

Takes you to this:

The Cover on Cover has been specially measured for use on the Colors and Faux Fabric lines of thin covers. Other covers may not fit properly into the Cover on Cover. The PVC vinyl of the Cover on Cover contains plasticizer additives which may cause a reaction in the leather dye and affect the color and quality of the leather cover. Please see a list of compatible covers below: -Colors -Faux Fabric -World Folk Patterns (Pueblo) -Ryoji Arai I'll listen to you anytime, says the donkey. -Disney (Where’s Minnie?)

There are other options for  A5 sized covers besides buying from the site.  I looked at locally available refillable journals and they fit nicely but lacked the pockets and slots.  Plus buying one  cost as much as some of the non-leather Hobonichi covers and  weren't nearly as well made.   Covers are available on etsy though and probably other places.

3.  The Hobonichi Techo is very well made, as is the cover.  There is so much attention to detail it makes my head hurt thinking about it.  The spine  allows the book to open (and stay flat) and is constructed to stay intact through out the entire year.    The stitching on the covers are perfect, the fabric smooth, and the pockets/slots are well thought out and useful. If you slide a pen through both pen loops at once, it 'locks' the planner closed.  If you use them individually you can fit at least four pens in the two loops.

4.  This is essentially a bound planner.  The sections are similar to what I was used to but I kept my weekly pages around my daily pages, with the month on two pages around the whole shebang.  In the Hobo it is separate, months together followed by weekly pages, followed by daily pages.  This isn't perfect for me and I find I use the daily pages almost exclusively for planning.

5.  There is an English version BUT it is in A6 only.  The A5 cousin planner is only available in Japanese.  There is supposed to be a six month version coming out in 2015 which will be a good thing.  The Hobo gets thicker and thicker through out the year.   Last I read there will not be a six month English version.

6.  The paper is Tomoe River and it has many pluses and a few minuses.  Drying time is longer then I'm used to, and much longer on some gel pens.  You are less likely to get bleed through on this paper in all cases but because it's thin you may get ghosting.   I have a lot of dog eared corners and some creasing/crinkling due to the thinness.  It isn't something that bothers me but I could see it being a problem for some.   It is better with pen then pencil and 'marker' type pens seem best for artwork.

7.  The pages are all grid which I love.  But the grid is small on the Japanese version (about 3mm), I think the English version has larger squares but I don't have one.  I would be happier with a larger square and usually skip a line when writing.

8.  Because it is a bound planner it self-archives which I love.   But because it is a bound planner adding a lot of extra pages is isn't practical... Which I don't love.   That was key to my Filofax being useful for me.

9.  There seems to be a different style to  Hobonicihi planning and if you search #Hobonichi on Instagram or Pinterest you can find AMAZINGLY creative planners.  That said, it works as a simple planner  and many days, I just write and don't draw.   I'm trying to find a balance because many of the very, very creative Hobonichi planners seem more a record of someone's day, images of what they did, saw, ate...etc.  Rather then a means to get things done; more reflection, less forward planning.

10.  There isn't a great way to mark your current page without a cover which has the attached ribbon type markers.  I don't like them, never have.  I've tried a lot of things from stick on tabs to binder clips and I don't like any of it as much as I like the Filofax ruler.   Everything works just okay for me.  Binder clips are a little fussy since the paper is attached, it takes a lot of trying to use a binder clip and have everything lay flat without bunching pages and tabs slide around.

11.  After almost three months using it I was starting to look longingly at my Malden.  I didn't want to stop using the Hobo but needed what rings provide in storage ability.  So yesterday I took the Hobo out of it's cover and slid it in the front slip pocket of my Malden.


Now I have an entire year's worth of pages in my Filofax, something I've never been able to do, as well as the sections I was missing (contacts, cash envelopes, scrap paper, extra pages, several years worth of Filofax Year on a Page Inserts, and all the printed pages I kept for reference).

And yes, it is big as a party bus stuffed with bridesmaids going to a wedding but I need everything in one place.   And if that means I need a bus, not a Mini Cooper, so be it.  


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stop it!

I've felt gigantic my entire life.  My mother and sister were/are very petite, thin people, and me?  I was taller then my mother by the time I was nine and reached 5' 9" by high school.  And I had a weight problem.

There was, and still is, an emotional eating component as well as a body image issue.  Objectively there were times I was not overweight, and times I was very thin - too thin - but I never got past feeling abnormally large. Period.  I constantly compared my size to my mother who was 5' 3" and at her heaviest, 105 pounds.  I was an inch taller and 13 pounds heavier then that by age 12.

Plus at 5'9" I am truly taller then most women so even when I wasn't directly comparing myself, or comparing myself at all, the message that I am too big was there. 

Women's clothing sizes and options are crazy making.  You can be overweight and find clothes or tall and find clothes but you can't be overweight and tall and find clothes easily.   Pants are ALWAYS too short, sleeves  never quite right and a Maxi is never maxi enough..  

I spent most of my life dieting and comparing;  I'm exhausted .... 

 “Fighting external monsters is easy in comparison
 to how we fight those within us.” ― Jeffrey Fry

Recently, I had a convoluted dream that at it's core was a message, "You are doing this to yourself, stop it." 

Could it be as simple as stop it?  


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Losing your best friend

I haven't done much posting in the last month, and while I've done some videos, most haven't been about a Filofax brand organizer which makes me sad. I feel an emotional connection to my Filofax binders; something akin to the connection for a friend who helped pull me out the other side of hard times.

These binders of mine are more then tools; they are my confidants, my road maps to success, the leather-wrapped, physical  embodiment of my inner voice, nudzhing me to get all to-dos, to-done.  A Filofax, and the pages therein,  are where I go when I need to mull things over, find an obscure but needed bit of information, tackle obstacles, and dream about what could be.  And they are one of the few things in my life all about me.


This morning I was thinking this over when an email popped in my inbox about a half price sale on black personal Maldens (on the UK site).  I went right over to see about it and yep, half price black Maldens.   I clicked on the other colors to be sure they weren't on sale and nope.  Not on sale or in stock so I clicked back to the black one.  In a matter of a few seconds the black one was gone too.

I went to the US site to check and anything that had big enough rings and a good design in leather was out of stock.


So, where does this leave me?  The newer models don't do it for me, there are fewer and fewer leather models, and none look like they will age well.  The pocket configurations are odd, the rings don't hold up under normal use,  they arrive in your mailbox, unprotected, thrown in an envelope, and none look like someone acquainted with planner use tested the design prior to production.

Add to all of that; any possible candidates go out of stock before I have time to consider my purchase and save up for it.

Change is inevitable but this doesn't feel like change; it feels like the dismantling of something special. This morning it got to me.  I feel an indefinable loss that I can't quite wrap my head around and feels oddly like grief...  Like I've lost something special.


Or my best friend.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The winner of the Minted Journal is...


Please contact me with you're mailing address so I can get this fabulous notebook out to you!



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The ' I bit the bullet journal ' giveaway

Part 2 of my Minted posts. (Part 1 is here)

As much as I love  traditional planning systems, my 'notes to self' get lost in the sauce of daily events.  I needed something different to create order.  I thought a one subject bullet journal could be a solution and I tested it on recipes.  

Been fascinated with #bulletjournals lately so I made a recipe book using the format with my #minted custom notebook. The quality is great, you can choose graph, lined or blank and customize the cover. Post about it next week with pen test and giveaway!

As soon as my journal from Minted arrived, I started adding tried and true recipes.  I try new recipes all the time, looking for the next keeper, but not all work out. Some go directly from pot to garbage disposal without  hitting a plate.

The set up was an easy process;  I made the first page an index and numbered all the rest.  No pages go to waste because I write the recipes one after the other and everything is searchable on the index.

This could work for any subject.  Think: Vacation ideas, gift or wish lists, decorating ideas, or lists of pros and cons.  The next one I want to start is home inventory notebook. Each item would have a page (where purchased, warranty information, issues, service calls,  phone numbers, etc. )   

I have a second one to give away.


 I love this cover; it's simple and ticks my 'stationery nerd' box. It's 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches and I configured it like the recipe notebook (There are other options though; spiral binding, address format, and planner options)   Plus each notebook comes sleeved, with a gift tag. 

BeFunky Matte on iPhone

The paper is impressive taking most inks without blinking (including several highlighters I usually have issues with).

BeFunky Fill Light on iPhone

Only two pens, both markers, had bleed through; a wet felt tip and a Sharpie (No surprise there).  

The giveaway is open worldwide and will end May 7th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (EST) The winner must contact me by May 10th or I will have to pick another name so please follow me somewhere!

Please comment on this post to enter.  You can comment more then once but not more then once a day please.     I'd love to hear your thoughts about a one-topic bullet journal but you can leave other kinds of comments: What are your plans for the notebook? Have you ever seen the @minted Instagram photos,  liked their Facebook page or Twitter account?

Good Luck, Everyone!

PS - If you read yesterday's post about the quote I got from Michael's to frame my Minted print, it was $125.  Not entirely unreasonable until you realize I asked for their lowest end frame and the price reflected a 70% discount.  Over $400 Michael's... Really?   I'm letting Minted frame my next print.

DisclaimerMinted provided me with a credit that covered part of the order. I purchased the rest.


Monday, April 21, 2014

How I almost caused the Earth to spin off it's axis and rocket into space....

Redoing my bedroom was overwhelming.   I know some people love redecorating but it makes me itch. I procrastinate over the most ridiculous detail out of fear;  worried I'll make the wrong choice wherein the Earth spins off it's axis and rockets into deep space; a rainbow trail of paint chips in it's wake.

There are amazing people out there, people who can put together the many parts of a room, both big and small, in their heads and when all assembled, the room looks like the cover of a decorating magazine. Sadly, that is not my gift.

I always end up with  rooms that are coordinated (but I hate), or rooms stuffed to busting with things I adore but don't go together.   Either way I had a room I hated to be in with no money left to fix it.

I was determined that this time my bedroom wouldn't go that way.   So I took my time, but not so much time that I was procrastinating, and set a budget. I used what I already had...

photo1 (5)

I put the flatscreen on the 15 year old desk hutch from my son's first bedroom set.  This is not a perfect solution but it works, it was free, and it kept the Earth from hurdling into space.  

 I made what I could.

photo1 (3)

I made this bookend for my magazines with dollar store  marbles and vase,  and shopped for the rest.


The furniture I bought used, the bed, flooring and rug new.  The lamps came from thrift shops and once when I wasn't looking Ventura ordered half a room full of dog beds.


The inevitable result of saved information and a tall, tall dog...

Most of the room was done a few months back but I needed art to go over my bed.   I looked and shopped and looked and shopped but nothing was scratching that retro itch until Minted sent me an email about their wall art prints.   They wanted me to review a print and I said, "Thanks so much for thinking of me but it's not really what I do.  See, I have this goofy paper obsession and usually write about that."

Minted wrote me back and said, "Oh paper!  We've got paper!"   And they do, lots and lots of high quality stationery, notebooks, party supplies, and business products, most customizable.   I wasn't convinced yet but after about a week of looking I had to agree...  They have tons of papery goodness and I agreed to do a review on the paper products.

Once I got to shopping though I was finding artwork, perfect for above my bed.   Minted provided me with a credit to shop but I ended up paying for part of my purchase because the heart wants what the heart wants.   

And the heart wanted this...


Its a 24" x 24" print called The Moderne and I am crazy about it.   It is available in three color combinations, six sizes, and fourteen options for framing (or unframed).  I bought it unframed because I thought I could frame it cheaper.  If I had it to do over again I'd get it delivered to my door ready to hang on the wall because it wasn't cheaper and framing is a big yuk face.  

I'm going to do a part two to this post because I have two  notebooks that I haven't even mentioned yet; one is my recipe notebook and one I customized to give away.    

notebook journal from #minted

When I first saw it I knew that it could be a great diary or bullet journal.   I'll post again tomorrow with the giveaway details as well as some general information about Minted, their artwork, product categories, paper specifications, pen tests, as well as how much Michael's wanted to frame my print. 

You will not believe it.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Pen tests on Tomoe River Paper

I just uploaded a 'What's in my Hobonichi Cousin' video  to Youtube (and it's embedded at the bottom of this post) but wanted to add the ink test pictures that I did comparing the Pilot Juice Pen and the Frixion Pen 0.7 (both in grey) on the Tomoe River paper.  Tomoe River paper is wonderful and doesn't absorb ink the way most paper does, rather the ink sits on the surface.  It's the paper in the Hobonichi as well as the Ray May Davinci Filofax compatible inserts.

This makes it great for fountain pen users and despite the paper being thin it's amazing for many pens that go right through most inserts.   The caveat here is drying times tend to be longer, sometimes much longer (particularly with gel pens).

Recently I switched to the grey frixion from the pen I've used daily for probably a year, the pilot juice pens.

When you look at the video and see the pictures it will be obvious why.


No matter how long I waited I had little ink dots on the facing page..   

Yikes, right?


Monday, April 14, 2014

That relentless planner itch

After using the Hobonichi Techo planner for a bit I've got some things to share but I'm leaving that for the next post.   I want to digress first.

 I obsess over other people's planners. It's my own fault; I stalk planner pictures.  Mostly I'm fine just admiring from afar but every once in a while I see some delicious bit of geekery and the floor drops out from under me and my heart gives a resounding, THUD!    

From then on it's hard to think of anything else and especially hard to look at what I'm currently using without a mournful sigh.   Many times it's the planner itself but more then many times it's what the person has done with it.   The neat, ordered zen like ones are like islands of calm in life's frenzy, the colorful artsy ones make me feel all giggly like a five year old with a new pair of red patent leather Mary Janes....   

I have a hard time stepping back from the excitement.  It's energizing.  It's fun.  It screams the possibility of what could be....

The problem is I can't replicate another's planning style, and  it won't work if I could.  I load up carts , take things out, and load them up again more times then I care to admit.  It's sort of the online shopping version of musical chairs...   As my finger hovers over the send button I do everything I can to just steel my resolve , "Back away from the "order" button, Tracy.  Just back away....."

I say all that because there is a lot to love about the Hobonichi but if your planning style is best suited for what a ringed binder provides; using a Hobonichi will have a long learning curve, at best.  
 I waited two years to get one which, granted, was crazy, but switching around makes me anxious and I'd never used a bound planner before.  It pays to give any switch a  thoughtful look in the cold light of day (but don't wait two years, that's just nuts)   Especially before changing something that works for something that you have an inkling won't.    Sometimes, for me, reason gets thrown out the window when staring at the excitement of possibility all wrapped up in pretty colors.   


 I do my best to rein in the frenzy but after two years of obsessing I caved.   It seemed a logical time as I'm doing #Project365 for artwork.   I've been doing it since February sort of randomly; some art is in my Filofax, some in my Midori...  Some on single paper pages who knows where.   I thought the Hobonichi would allow me  to consolidate the artwork in one location and plan at the same time.

pages on my hobonichi cousin

My goal for Project 365 is the artwork will get better over the year and having it in one location will make the whole process simpler. Plus the  planning sections are very similar in format to I've been using (albeit in a different order).

falling flowers

Either it will all work, or all fail, but more likely will hit some shade of gray closer to one end or the other.  Life and planners live in shades of gray.  Historically what works for me isn't something that works everyday in every way but something that works  best for what I need most at that moment in time.

ventura sees the atlantic ocean

No matter how planning goes my art should improve with practice which is the point of doing Project 365.   And even if the worst case scenario happens (nothing works) I've  scratched that relentless planner itch and can move on.

Next post will be about the Hobonichi itself and not my convoluted path to it....


Monday, April 7, 2014

The trail of breadcrumbs

About three weeks ago I bought the DIY Fish yearly chart.   I needed a way to wrangle all the tiny things, get more done in a timely order, and see my progress.

BeFunky Violet on iPhone

What I didn't realize was the tiny tasks were breadcrumbs leading me to routines.

I've tried to make routines in my Filofax before but they didn't work ... Or maybe I didn't work them... either way the result was the same.  I wrote page after page of things to do, ways to do them... whole sections in fact!  But any routine I set up in the past felt random and not applicable or it was painfully complicated and too specific.

I started the yearly chart as a way  to focus, to keep up with small but important things (like skincare and taking vitamins) and add more a little at a time.   This week, after 21 days of success with personal care, I added 'Make bed' and 'Water Plants'.

After a few weeks of charting these tasks I realized I wasn't tracking individual items, I was building entire routines.   That hadn't occurred to me before.  

What I used to see as individual things now get done in an order that makes sense.   I used to see things like shower, brush my teeth, and wash my face as individual items but in the last three weeks I've started washing my face and brushing my teeth together while the water is filling the tub.

I imagine most people already do things like this early and together while getting ready for work but since I'm at home I just did them in dribs and drabs.  I brushed my teeth if I happened to find myself in front of the sink... and it dawned on me I hadn't done it.  I washed my face when I needed to go out and wanted to throw some make up on...  I'd shower when I was ready to get dressed.

I under or over-estimate how long tasks take, have difficulty managing time, and struggle with getting mundane things done.  My brain is the problem; I have the inattentive form of ADD.  Executive brain functions (i.e - time management, attention, focus, planning, remembering details) are a daily, very real,   problem, as is my working memory.

Most people wake up, shower, dress, and eat breakfast  automatically.  I struggle with life's necessary tasks and they constantly swirl around my to-do list without getting done efficiently.

I don't know why the DIY Fish chart is working for me - Although I'm quite sure there is a complex  ADD related explanation having to do with executive brain function - I only know it is.  Charting multiple (but not an overwhelming amount of ) individual items somehow gave them natural order and the repetition added a time frame.

I started with nine individual things to accomplish and added another one or two after success with those.  All were things under a 'personal care' umbrella but this week I moved to things outside myself.

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

I don't know how many tasks I can add before my brain goes into overwhelm again. Adding tasks slowly is key but I imagine there is a limit.   ADD can be managed; but it is always there crouching behind my to-do list whispering, "It's all too hard!"

But for now... I feel positive and grateful about getting things done and am happy to follow the breadcrumb trail as it leads from task... to routine success.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Big poopy face

At the moment I'm not having planner issues, I'm having habit issues.  There are things beyond a to-do list that need to be done regularly and I struggle with them.   My daily pages are a road map of all undone failures.   I get to-do's done so much better with my Filofax, for sure, but there wasn't a whole lot of self-improvement happening.

And if someone rings the door bell at one in the afternoon and I  have no choice but to answer in pajamas with yesterday's mascara under my eyes it just feels bad... No matter how much I've accomplished up to that point, opening the door looking like a screaming hot mess turns the whole day  into a  big poopy face.

I needed a way to build habits with daily tracking as well as a global view for overall success.  I wanted plenty of room to list things needing work with room to grow (Starting small works best for me).

I decided to use the DIY Fish yearly chart; a bargain at $3.35 on etsy.


It gives me the global view with lots of room to list individual goals in left hand column. The week number rows get a dot when I've done everything I set out to do. I toyed around with writing the number of times I completed each goal per week but decided true success was getting it all done.   For things not accomplished as many times as I'd planned I will put the number of times I completed the goal.

DIY Fish yearly chart

I started with things that are all personal care; the things everyone does daily.  Don't get me wrong, I shower and dress... Just frequently not at the most opportune time. So I listed the things I do in dribs and drabs but would be better served getting them done together and earlier in the day.


To keep up with my plan I needed something to check off individual days and I settled on a post it note.  Each week I write what I want to do.

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

For things I do everyday, all week I write the date number; this weeks sheet was the 24th through the 30th.  For things I want to do twice a day I added a second row...

BeFunky Crop on iPhone

... and for things I don't do everyday I used the number of times per week.

My Filofax helps me remember appointments, to make calls, write letters, and keep up with the million bits of information I will need at a later date.  But I also think it can help me be the person I want to be.

And so the journey towards self-improvement begins...


Monday, March 24, 2014

No more limp noodles

This post took three months and three people to come to fruition; it's often like that in our planner community.  Figuring it all out takes time and only one person is rarely responsible for the innovation and success of another...  But I digress.

Ray Blake wrote a post back in December called Personal Change With Your Filofax.   It was about using your Filofax in such a way that you stay (the operative word) motivated to do (or change, or improve) something.  It made enough of an impression that it popped up into my thoughts at least once a week; it's well worth reading if you haven't yet.

The popping part was always the same, "Don't break the chain" - Something that Ray attributes to Jerry Seinfeld (so I suppose that makes four people responsible for this post).  The idea is if you mark successful days off on a physical calendar do you really want to break that chain after 15 straight days of success?

 Image from My Life All in One Place

No.  It's sort of like watching your success devolve into a pile of cold, limp noodles and that alone can be strong motivation to do something just one more time.  Changing habits is best dealt with one day, one habit, at a time.

The second person who is responsible is Josh.  Josh posted a video about accountability in December and later started a facebook group on the subject. Sticking to things, and with things, isn't my strong suit so I joined.  I posted that I was going to close kitchen cabinet doors. It isn't an earth shattering problem (although it does make my kitchen look like it's been ransacked by kitchenalia robbers)  and it's mostly due to distractablity.   I didn't think I could change but I gave closing drawers a whirl and could not believe just the intention of closing things lead me to close them 90% of the time.   I was gobsmacked really, it's been a life long problem.


This all made me think I COULD change things I thought were habits made of cement.  I needed a way to track this all so I could see a string of success that I would not want to break, starting with simple easy things like I did with Josh's accountability project.

This leads me to DIY Fish and her inserts.   I asked her if there was a single year chart for tracking things like this and she said she'd let me know when it was up.  A few weeks later, Viola!


I started last week, picked a few easy things and began Ray Blake's Chain of Success. I did every single thing I intended and feel Josh's blissful accountability washing over me , and whenever I feel the old tug to not do something DIY Fish's Inserts  remind me I'm changing my life one day at a time.

I will do a specific post on how the chart looks and what I'm doing but this post is to  thank  all the people in the Philofaxy community for their generosity of spirit, creativity, and unending support.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'm curious....

How much does everyone's planner weigh?    I'll start...

I put my A5 Malden on a Weight Watchers scale this morning (appropriate, right?) and here are the results; first in pounds...

BeFunky B&W Warmer on iPhone

And in grams...

BeFunky Orton on iPhone

Grams seems so much bigger.  You couldn't get me on a metric scale with the promise of a calorie free pizza.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Canine social media and my Filofax organizers

I've been using my Portland Personal as a wallet/price book for about two months and it's been a success.  My only trepidation, a personal being bigger then a pocket, turned out to be a non-issue. That I could put my pocket Rio in an actual pocket was very convenient but the longer I use a Filofax, any Filofax,  as a wallet the less I bring a purse.

I go out several times a day and that's a lot of  not dragging around a bag the size of a carry on. I go on a lot of short car trips because I don't walk Ventura as much as I chauffeur around town, and it is really nice not to be chained to a big bag.

Granted, I don't have pockets that accommodate my personal but I just throw it on the passenger seat and let it ride shot-gun while Ventura and I scout for the perfect spot to access the world of canine  Four Square.   He's very into doggy social media. No p-mail or download goes un-responded to...

But here's the thing, this morning I had to do a few errands (renew Ventura's dog license and pick up a few things at the grocery store). I needed to have wallety items and paperwork so I had to bring both.  (I not only plan in my bomber-jacket-sexy Malden but hole-punch important papers and file them in there.)


 I've never been good with paper.  I have a filing cabinet but using remains a mystery.  I've set that thing up half a dozen times - even paid a professional organizer $250 an hour to do it - and I've still got no idea what's in there or where to put anything I want to keep.

Filing important papers in a Filofax means I can access them easily and find what I need without dumping out an entire alphabet of paper on my living room floor.

I renewed Ventura's licence without incident but wouldn't have been able to do it without my Malden.   The township  only takes checks or cash and randomly I'd stuck a check in my Malden months ago.  Next I was off to the grocery store and since I'd made a list as part of my daily to-dos I took my Malden in there too...


At the check out I set my Malden on the counter and you know,  it looked good.  Stylish and important. Substantial, in a good way. And for some reason I felt substantial too (also in a good way).   I felt ready for anything... Prepared.  Secure. And oddly, less anxious then usual.   It got me thinking of all the posts I've read about using an A5 for everything and the folks who drag along a large binder where ever they go.

In the past my thoughts on carrying a full A5 were more a  fun mental exercise then something  I considered doing; it was a lot like pizza.  A slice or two is fabulous but glom down whole pie and all I want to do is barf.

So for all of you rockin' an A5.... Does it make you feel ready to meet the world the way I did this morning?  Does it make you feel substantial and in control?  Does laying it out on the checkout counter make you feel substantial? And oh so stylish...


   I'm reconsidering.


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