Finding the Perfect Notebook

FullSizeRender.jpg-1I kept a journal as a teenager. It was one of those tiny ones with the lock that wouldn’t actually keep anyone out. I wrote about the really important stuff that went on with me. And I wrote in it less and less as time went on, stopping sometime in my late teens/ early 20s.

A few years ago, I started keeping a journal again. I had just moved to a new state, was feeling lonely, and was going through a period in my life where I was feeling dissatisfied and couldn’t figure out why. So I grabbed an 8.5 x 11 Mead notebook and started writing things down. I don’t remember if I happened to have it laying around, or if I went out and bought it, but it was a 5 subject notebook with pockets, and it took me seven years to fill it.

When I was done with that one, I tried finding the perfect journal again, but couldn’t find anything that met my specifications. So I ended up getting another Mead notebook, and this time it only took me two years to fill.

Over time, I started using Washi tape, gluing little mementos inside, doodling in the margins. I’ve taken some inspiration from smash books in that sense. The Mead notebook works… but I feel like there’s got to be something better out there. I crave better paper and a nicer cover.

I want something spiral bound (so it folds in half), 8.5 x 11 (or thereabouts) with good paper (doesn’t matter if it’s lined or unlined). I prefer pockets, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I often write with gel pens or fountain pens, so I can’t use a thin paper that bleeds through. I bought a Yoobi notebook for another purpose, and I can only use one side of the page because of bleed-through.

Does anyone out there have notebook/ journal recommendations? If you journal, what do you use?

Walking Down Memory Lane

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I took a little stroll down memory lane tonight, and I can barely remember the girl I was.

I found my old diaries when I was unpacking.  I also found old love notes from high school.  My high school boyfriend and I lived long distance from one another.  We were in the same school, it’s just that the school district was so big that he was on one side, and I was on the other.  So, since we couldn’t talk on the phone nearly as much as we wanted to (after the first phone bill, our parents were MAD), we wrote letters back and forth.

If we were teens today, we’d have cell phones or emails, and all those wonderful communications would be lost.

I’m sentimental, and I enjoy reading my old diaries and those old love letters.  I don’t think that everything that happened in “the good old days” was all that good, but I do miss written communication.  Did you know that some schools aren’t even teaching cursive writing anymore?  They say it’s obsolete, and what kids really need to know is how to type.  How sad is that?

I tried keeping a digital diary for years and wondered why it never stuck.  When I went back to paper, I enjoyed writing in my journal much more than the digital version.  Don’t get me wrong; I prefer to type than hand write for convenience, to save my hand from aching.  I love blogging and Facebook.  I love that as an author, I can write and rewrite on Word and it always looks clean.

However, I think that hand writing reflects personality.  It’s more intimate, and even the worst handwriting has a certain beauty to it.  We have to punctuate and spell without the benefits of autocorrect.

Because I despair the lost art of letter writing, because I’ve so enjoyed reading back into my past, and because I believe in being the change, I’m going to write letters to my friends.  My goal by the end of the year is to write an actual letter to most of my friends.  Some of them might send their own letters back, and some might not.  To me, it doesn’t matter if they really do or not, what matters is that I’m making the effort, and I’m putting something interesting and beautiful into the world.

If you’re a reader of my blog, and would like an actual, handwritten letter, feel free to email me your address ( and I will send you a letter sometime this year.  It might be fun to have a penpal.  (Remember penpals, from high school?  My assigned penpal and I never hit it off… very sad.)

Some of my friends will be puzzled by my wanting to write letters.  After all, isn’t email the same thing, just faster?  They’ll humor me, but they won’t understand.  Some will totally get it.  Some will just be excited to get some mail that isn’t a bill.  Writing letters are little pieces of history that we can choose to let die, or we can all make a conscious choice to preserve.

I recently went to the Lyndon Baines Johnson museum here in Austin, and I found lots of things interesting, but what I found most interesting were the letters written between him and Lady Bird, and the letters she wrote to others.  I spent so much time reading them that my traveling companions laughed at me and how I kept “straggling.”

I’m not a president or a president’s wife, but I still think that my history is important, that your history is important.  I think that what I have to say matters, not because I say anything terribly profound or important, but because I matter.  You matter.  And that means that what we have to say matters too, even when we disagree.

What do you think about this whole letter writing thing?

I Should Totally Blog About That

DSCN5450I’m lucky; I’ve always been forgetful, so when something slips my mind, I don’t blame it on old age or anything like that.  No, I know that it’s just the way I am.

Earlier today, like 5 minutes before I started this blog, I remembered a really awesome blog idea that I had weeks ago and then forgot about.  I grabbed a pen to jot it down, and by the time I’d gotten a pen and paper, I’d forgotten it again.  I have no idea what the idea was, and I’ve tried reconstructing my thought process just prior to remembering it.  But no luck.

Welcome to my life.

I have 10 million notebooks laying around everywhere with little or no organizational strategy.  I jot things about blogs everywhere, and I have word documents dedicated to ideas.  After I write it down, I forget about it.  I love Pinterest, even if it does frequently point out my organizational shortcomings.  Pinterest is like the neighbor who seems to be able to do it all effortlessly.

I’m trying a new thing.  I have a journal, so I’m going to start writing story and blog ideas in there, and then tagging them with special Post-it notes so that I can find the ideas.  That way, it’s a very centralized location, and I’ll always know where everything is.

Sounds great, right?

Yeah, let’s hope it works out for me.  😉

Travel Journal

My travel journal

My travel journal

When I was visiting in Virginia, my sister in law shared a great idea with me.  Every time she and her husband go on vacation, she takes with her a journal in which she writes about her trip.  She also takes the opportunity to purchase her next journal wherever she is.  I thought that was a really cool idea, and I adopted it.  While I was in Virginia, I bought myself a cool notebook and wrote about my Virginia trip.  Since then, I used it while I was in Jerome and will use it next time I go camping.  I think she only uses hers for “big” trips, but the nice thing about ideas is that they can be individualized.

I have a tendency to write things in different places and have no idea where I’ve written it down later.  Or, I’ll find something and have no idea when I wrote it, and be sad that I lost it. I’m trying to be more organized… I’m a work in progress.  🙂

So far, I really love this method of writing about trips.  I chose a small journal, and next time, I’d choose a regular sized one.  The small journal is cute and fits nicely into my purse, but my hand cramps when I write in it, so a bigger journal next time.

U is for Upcycle

This is a very badly done, homemade, upcycled notebook.  At least I tried, right?

This is a very badly done, homemade, upcycled notebook. At least I tried, right?

This is actually one of my favorite words, and less well known than recycle, though they’re related.

When I was in high school art, we were told to take something that would normally be “trash” and make some art out of it.  I didn’t get it, and I made this horrible wind chime out of cut up steel cans.  It was sharp on the edges, and I had to avoid slicing myself open on it.

Basically, upcycling is making useful things out of things that would otherwise be trash.  Pinterest and Etsy are places where I find wonderful upcycled items.  I’ve taken T-shirts with holes, sewed another T-shirt piece behind, cut out a cool pattern like a peace sign or a star, and voila!  I have a perfectly usable T-shirt again.  Or, one of my favorites is upcycled journals out of old hardback books or board games with cut up paper bags and repurposed scrap paper.

While I can’t bring myself to actually destroy old books for craft purposes, I do love things made out of old book pages and covers.  Just a search of “upcycled” on Etsy or Pinterest brings up some of the coolest things.  I love being able to repurpose things.  I get a little thrill when I can make something that would otherwise be trash into something cool and useful.  Of course, that sometimes means that I keep broken things around longer than I should… but I never know when I’ll be able to use that!