Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shrinking the Brain...

I did it! I shrunk The Brain. 
Let me explain. 

I love planners. I have always used a paper planner. I had a FiloFax in middle school (that was a LONG time ago). Not only do I love the look and feel of a handheld calendar, I find them quite useful as well. In recent years, they have become even more useful to me as I use them to keep our homeschooling records.

What are my requirements for a planner?
 - It has to fold back on itself
 - I need to be able to add and take away pages without using a glue stick
 - The weeks have to start on Sunday
 - I need a month view to be present at all times

In addition to the above requirements, I have been an 8 1/2 x 11 sized planner kinda gal for most of my adult life. I want to be able to put a printout in my calendar without having to fold it and get it all crumply. 

Ahhh - but I found that my current set-up just wasn't working. How did I know it wasn't working? Well, I stopped using it. That's a good indicator. HA!

So, after some thought... it occurred to me that I wasn't using it because it was too big. Sure, I want to be able to put a print-out in there, but it's certainly not going to do me any good if I am not using the thing to begin with. 

I found that when the entire spread was open and not folded back on itself, the dimensions of 11 x 17 were just too overwhelming. That pretty much takes up the whole kitchen counter! Too much. So, I found that I constantly had it folded back on itself, which meant that I wasn't flipping pages and therefore wasn't utilizing my planner to it's fullest potential.

I began pondering. And pondering some more...

Then, Paint Plan Play over at Studio Calico started up. This is NOT a planner class. It has nothing to do with calendars. However, Ashley Goldberg showed us an introduction video of her "art planner." This is essentially an art journal that utilizes a three ring binder system so that she can move around her patterns and colors to allow for optimal inspiration. Very cool.

Well... about the same time that I was watching and pondering this video, I had my guest spot at Cocoa Daisy. I was getting a feel for their website and offerings and stumbled on thread upon thread of discussions regarding planners. They have a Daisy Day monthly planner subscription that is beyond adorable.

Oh... the wheels were a turnin'!

And then it hit me... I use the Arc System. I am sold on that and don't plan on changing. (You can read more about that in my last planner post) One of the many great things about the Arc System is that it is totally customizable and can be made any size. So, why not make my planner a hybrid "art planner" of sorts, but actually include the calendar part?

YES! I can do that!

So, then I did what most insane women do when they have no need for additional ideas... I went to Pinterest! Once there, I was quickly reminded of the awesomeness that is Amanda Hawkins. She is an amazingly talented artist and self-professed planner fiend who designs her own printables. You may remember that I utilized some of them in the previous version of The Brain.

Well... I began pouring over the gorgeous contents of her website. It seems what I was looking for specifically is about to be released. YAY! But, in the mean time, I wanted to get crackin' on this Brain shrinking project. 

So, I took pencil and ruler to paper and drew up my own planner perfection...

I NEED to see a month at a time. And, I have found in the past that a week by week calendar is overkill for me. Here, in this A5 sized book, I have a month view on the left and a note page on the right. I took complete inspiration from Amanda, using doodles, inks, and paints on my page...

You might be wondering how I manage to keep all of my notes from one month on this little page? Layers of post-its. You know I love my layers!
The bottom of the calendar page has a "typical" week... using washi. You see, we do much of the same thing day in and day out. I really don't want to write this over and over again on each day that it happens. Plus, it will clog up my monthly spread. So, I simply have it as a reminder at the bottom...
With my template all created, I simply scanned it in and printed off copies. Easy!

Now, in the mean time... I should confess that while searching Pinterest and admiring the work of Amanda Hawkins, I somehow ended up on YouTube. Oh, help me now. 

Have you ever seen the millions upon millions of planner videos out there? Oh my! The funny part is, many of them repeat the same types of things and ideas over and over again. But, I can't stop watching them! And, if you happen to know that the Hobonici Planner was invented by a Nintendo Video Game programer, then you might have fallen into the very same rabbit hole that I did! Just sayin'.

Ahhh - but there are good things that come from watching people talk about their calendars! I stumbled across a lady who had a delightful video where she discusses her planner "history" - basically, an overview of all the planners she has made and used since her college days and what she liked and disliked about each one. You can find that video here. Well, on one of the planners, she created a pocket out of the whole page. LOVE that!

So... I did that here...
I simply sewed the note page onto the back of the calendar page, punched a half circle, and there we have a pocket!
In between the spread, I cut down an old Cropper Hopper divider. It functions not only as my monthly tab, but also as a dry erase surface...
Now, what about the art part of this? Well, Ashley has us playing around with lots of fun marks and pattern making in the Paint Plan Play class. When I have something I like and think I might want to look at it a bit longer, I simply use my Arc punch and pop it in the middle of the spread...
 And, the beauty of the Arc means that it can pull back out in a snap as well!
It really is fun to take 5 seconds and work up a little collage to pop in my planner! 

Speaking of collage, YouTube led me to Roben Marie Smith. I have long admired her work, but had never watched one of her videos before. Well, I am sure you all know this already... but, she uses a UHU glue stick in her art journal. Hello? AWESOME! 

Why is that so amazing, you ask? Well, for me... a mental block that I have found with art journaling in the past, is the "wetness" of it. You see, I have always used Matte Medium for collage. Matte Medium takes a long time to dry and can lead to a "gooky" look when there are layers upon layers upon layers. The UHU glue stick thing truly was a lightbulb moment for me!

It's the little things. 

So, that means I can take a little leftover pattern scrap, glue-stick it to a piece of glitter paper, swipe a piece of washi over it, and call it a collage! Punch it, stick it in the planner, and ta da! - on the go inspiration!
Speaking of patterns... Amanda had a really cool template for a year at a glance. I work in a July - July format for my calendars, so her template wouldn't work for me. I decided to make my own. I really am not sure how practical this will be for me, or how much I will use it. But, I LOVE the look of it and how the numbers create a pattern all their own...
So, what happens if I have a super crazy week and really do need more space to write things out? Ahhh - another idea from Amanda...

Weekly inserts! 

Once again, she had some templates for this, but her's started with the week on Monday. My brain doesn't function that way, so I just drew some out and scanned them in. These live in the back of my planner and I can grab one whenever needed! Oh, and that adorable doggie stamp doesn't hurt either. He is from the stamp set that came with my registration of the Paint Plan Play class at Studio Calico. Fun stuff!
Speaking of which... another great idea from class...

Ashley showed us how she has a sort of "tangible" Pinterest in her Art Planner. Basically, this is a page with some of your favorite inspirational images on it and it lives in your planner. Her idea behind this is that it is nice to have a place to go for inspiration without staring at a glowing screen. I love that idea! So, I simply grabbed some of my favorite pins and printed them out. It's super fun to flip to this page in my planner!
Now, what about that whole "I want a full sized page to fit in my planner and not be folded" conundrum? Well, turns out it's not that bad. The great thing is that with the discs from the Arc system, I don't have to cut my page. It will still open just fine folded and punched. YAY!
Initially, I simply cut down my old cover from my previous Brain. But, I just wasn't happy with it in this smaller size...
 So, I took some more inspiration from Amanda, this time in the form of her collage work....
And made myself a cover out of file folders...

Her work has this lovely messy and sketchy feel to it with lots of cream and white, so I was playing with that here...

On the inside, I used more file folders to sew on pockets. I also printed out a gorgeous floral from a Cocoa Daisy freebie. Put behind a sheet of acetate, that acts as another dry erase surface...
Then, as I was going through our stack of printer paper to cut up some sheets for note taking, I came across some of the many children's drawings that we have lying around. Well, I think we can all agree that we can only keep so many of these. But, instead of heading straight to the trash with the surplus, I decided they would make great scratch paper...
Ahhh - but I couldn't stop there! I decided to turn this into my wallet too! With the addition of some plastic card sleeves and envelopes, I felt like I needed more of a wrap around cover...

...likey so!
 A simple rubber band....
Here it is with the flap opened. You might notice that I also changed out the decorative clip from the floral to a yellow...
And of course, I couldn't leave the inside of this blank... a cute little girl with her dog fits the bill!
 I love how the stamp from the file folder peeks through the drawing...
 And here it is with the flap folded in!
I should mention that the rubber band held up for about as long as it took me to take those pictures. HA! Live and learn. So, I added velcro instead and that works much better!

So, let's review...

From realizing I was having planner fail, to the class at SC, to the forums at CD, to Pinterest, to Amanda Hawkins, to YouTube, to Roben Marie Smith, and so on...

I now have a planner that I am really, really HAPPY with! As in, it completely shocks me when the cashier at Target does not fall over with amazement when I pull out this thing of beauty to pay for diapers...

Like I said... it's the little things :)


  1. OMG this is gorgeous!!! The best part? It's so you! Not only the style of it but how you made it to work the way you do :)

  2. This was a delightful post! Your enthusiasm about the project was contagious and it's obvious this was a work of love. A planner, yes, but most assuredly a reflection of your love of life and family. I use glue sticks for journals, tags, and cards all the time for the exact reasons you described. I am fond of Elmer's Craft Bond Extra Strength. Also, I wrap velcro around my pen and stick it to the cover so I am never without one. It seems to me you are bursting with creativity and this project illustrates that perfectly. Would you make one for me? ☺

    1. Thank you! And... thanks for reading my ramblings :) Thanks for the great tips too!

  3. I just love it... you have made it your own.. Love that... I'm different.. I find the binder planners out there work perfectly for me... so I'm sticking with that.. and I just love the Cocoa Daisy planner pages.. I really love them.. so daily pages and a monthly view works for me.. it's fine. Plus I hv monthly view pages that came w my KK planners.. so I'm set. and I couldn't agree more.. the PPP class is just so darn inspiring. Planning on painting more this weekend yay! Your planner is just so you... I love it.

  4. I love your planner! You did such an amazing job. Bet people would snap them up in your Etsy shop, though I'm sure it was very time consuming. As someone said, I can see you and your style all over. Super neat. Michelle t

  5. This is all kinds of inspiring!! I'm switching things up with my project life-type album next year and I want it to feel like this!

  6. LOL about your Target cashier comment! Love this post. I love that you made your planner your own way. I am a basic planner girl, always purchasing one from Target each year and then doing a terrible job at using it. Not on the planner craze right now, but I bought one with the intentions of making it a little pretty and just maybe I will stick with it! Totally going to borrow your washi tape idea for the bottom of the month- smart idea and pretty to look at!

  7. love your planner and the way you pulled together ideas from some awesome folks. I enjoyed reading about
    your process. thanks for sharing "the brain."

  8. Love your whole thought train here!


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