Easy Pen Loop Substitute for Planners and Journals

Not all of planners or journals have their own built-in pen loops, and not all of the time we are willing to bring along a separate pen case. While there are available adhesive pen loops out there, it’s either hard to find, expensive, or does not entirely work with our chosen pens. Here is a quick and easy substitute for pen loops: binder clips!

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Binder clips are quite versatile, and come in different sizes and designs. What I do is to choose an appropriately sized binder clip that would match both my intended pen and the planner or journal that needs the pen loop. I would attach it somewhere in the upper third to halfway down the planner/journal, and not push it all the way in. I would then hook the pen’s clip into the exposed area of the binder clip, and there! Instant pen loop!

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The disadvantage to using binder clips as pen loops is that this won’t work for pens without clips. In this case, a proper elastic pen loop would really be necessary.

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The biggest advantage to binder clips as pen loop is the wide availability, and in addition it would be easy to swap out and change on a whim. Have you tried using binder clips to hold your pens?

 

What I Packed: Cebu 2016

My family went on a very delayed beach vacation to Mactan, Cebu last weekend, and as per my habit I take photos of what I took with me in the stationery department. While I had my Hobonichi Weeks and my TN Wallet as is expected, I also brought along my Chicsparrow Outlander with journal inserts as well as the Midori Mini. I felt that I wanted to journal while at the resort, and I wanted TNs that could stand the rigors of travel.

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My pencase contained only regular and brush pens, because I did not want to have to worry about fountain pens and flying. I brought along my cute little Crayola gel pens (which did not get used), a Sharpie (also unused), a Coleto (unused), two dual-ended markers, a brush pen, and a mechanical pencil. The rest of the case contained much of the same contents as in this post.

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I’m glad that I actually did get to journal during the three-day vacation, and even while waiting for our delayed flight. Having a journal is really quite handy and comforting!

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How to Make Your Own Simple Planner Charm

A lot of us love to bling up our planners, and planner charms are the easiest way to add some interest to any TN or bound planner. For this tutorial we will be creating a simple metal charm.

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We will need the following: jewelry pliers, a lobster clasp (or your chosen type of clasp), some small rings, and your chosen metal charm. Each of these items are available in craft stores and selected bookstores. You can use any type of clasp, but lobster clasps are the most convenient type.

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The first step is to open one of the rings. The correct way to do it is to twist the ring so that the ends separate. Do not pull apart the ends as that will deform the ring.

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Insert the lobster clasp and the metal charm. Make sure that the lobster clasp is facing the correct way, where it will end up with its opening facing the back of the metal charm.

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And that’s it, basically! You will end up with your metal charm on a lobster clasp, ready to be attached to your planner. Note that you may need to insert one or two rings in between the metal charm and the lobster clasp, just to make sure that the charm will be laying flat when it is attached to the planner.

Once you master this basic technique, you can move on to adding other things such as connectors, beads, tassels, and other interesting stuff to your charm. One of my favorite things to do is to stack basic charms, so that the resulting charm looks nice and complicated and pretty. Check out some of the charms I have here.

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The compounding charm technique is shown in the middle charm. There are two simple charms (teapot and matryoshka doll) hanging on the end of another simple charm (owl). The charm on the left shows how you can use beads and pendants to create wonderful danglies, and the one on the right is actually a bracelet made by my daughter that I transformed into a charm by tying the end of the thread to a lobster clasp. I hope that gives you some ideas on how to create your own beautiful planner charms!

Current Pocket Sized Inserts: January 2016

As I’ve said in a previous post, my preferred TN size these days is the pocket size. Here are the inserts that I am currently using in my pocket size TN.

Braindump/Lists

This Word. notebook is used mainly as a place for dumping random things such as quotes, notes on various things, and price checks, as well as a place to put my lists such as my current TN lineup, my wishlists, and a package tracker for my online orders.

Blog Planner

I’ve shown you my current blog planner, which now resides in this Moleskine cahier notebook.

Prompted Journal

This DIY insert is my prompted journal, and is made of Tomoe River paper. A prompted journal is different from my daily journal in that it has a specific prompt or topic that I write about, as opposed to just the daily happenings written in my daily journal. I get my prompts from various sources online.

Hobby Expenses

In an attempt to curb my hobby spending, I have been using an insert to track my hobby expenses. I use this lined Alunsina insert with very narrow rulings, which I really like.

Letters To My Daughter

In an unlined Bencab notebook I put letters that I address to my daughter, with the intention that I will be giving this to her when she’s older (like maybe when she’s 18, or when she gets married, or some such milestone). I make sure to only focus on positives, and I am hoping that she will find this inspirational in the future.

Brush Calligraphy Practice Book

Okay, this is not really pocket size, but I house this in with the rest of the inserts in the same TN. This is one of my earlier DIY projects where I used a combination of cream and black calligraphy paper from @calligrapads on IG to serve as a place to practice my brush calligraphy. Once I have fully used this one up (which is soon!) I will make another one in the proper size.

I hope this post gave you some ideas of what to use your inserts for.

DIY Tools of the Trade

As you may well know, if you have been following me for at least four months, I’m a big fan of do-it-yourself. I love making things myself, especially things that have something to do with traveler’s notebooks. Of course, there are some basic tools that one needs when doing DIY, and I’d like to share a list of the most-used tools I use when I DIY. Most of these are bought at National Bookstore (NBS), unless otherwise stated.

Scissors

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A good pair of sharp scissors will come in handy with almost any crafting project. I usually have two pairs – a larger one for cutting bigger pieces of paper or elastic, and a smaller one for more finicky cutting such as fussy cutting around my daughter’s drawings to put in my journals. The smaller one can even fit in my traveling craft case, so I will always have a pair of scissors with me when I know I will have time to do some crafting. Fortunately, various sizes and types of scissors are available in NBS.

Box Cutter and Cutting Mat

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When I need to cut through several layers of paper or thick cardstock, I usually go with my box cutter and cutting mat (not pictured). This, I found, gives me a good clean edge especially for projects such as TN inserts. I invested in a relatively expensive box cutter, which is made with metal instead of the much cheaper plastic versions. I find that this gives me a good grip and helps me bear down on the paper much better. Replacement blades are widely available as well. The cutting mats come in different sizes and can either be rubber or plastic. I like the rubber ones much better, especially the self-healing ones (although of course those are more expensive). The rubber has a better grip and will not let the paper that you are cutting slide all over the mat.

Metal Ruler

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This actually goes with the box cutter and cutting mat setup, since I will need a straight edge to guide my blade. I find that metal rulers are much better with this function since there will be no chance that the blade will cut through the metal (unlike plastic). I would really have preferred a heavier kind of metal ruler, but this one I bought at NBS is a very light metal ruler.

Swivel Stapler

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This swivel stapler is primarily used (exclusively, even!) for insert-making. With enough practice, I am now able to accurately place the head of the stapler so that the staple will go into the crease perfectly aligned. This particular stapler can handle up to 20 sheets of regular weight paper (80gsm) or 25 sheets of thin paper (Tomoe River). I like this stapler because it has a good weight to it, and has been dependable enough to give me quite a bit of inserts by this time. I found this at NBS (brand is D’Expertise), but I find that the stocks are quite spotty. There are news of another brand of swivel stapler being seen in NBS as an alternative.

Eyelet Setter

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In the making of actual traveler’s notebooks, eyelets are usually used to protect the holes that the elastics are looped in. This particular eyelet setter also has its own built in hole punch, which I use to punch in the holes first before setting the eyelets. I don’t know where to buy this particular tool as this was borrowed from my sister-in-law, but I have seen similar ones at NBS. Gold or copper colored eyelets are also available at NBS.

Jewelry Pliers

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Most of my TN charms are self-assembled; basically I buy the charms, the o-rings, and the lobster clasps separately and assemble them myself in the manner that I like. The assembly can be done by hand, but having jewelry pliers makes the process a lot less finicky and physically painful (I’ve broken many nails prior to my getting the pliers!). This particular pair of pliers were bought at a hardware store which I unfortunately have forgotten exactly where. You can get one of any brand pliers at any hardware store and just choose the smallest one which will fit comfortably in your hand. The “blade” of this one is about five centimeters long.

I’m sure there are other tools that I use that I’ve overlooked, but I will make sure to either update this post or do a follow up once I find the other tools that I use for crafts related to traveler’s notebooks. Are you an insert or traveler’s notebook maker? What other tools do you use?

Ways I Use Washi Tape

There are several uses for washi tape, which is why it is so popular in both crafting and planning. Here are the ways where I, personally, use washi tape in my life, in no particular order.

Decoration for Journal

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A quick way to jazz up a journal page is to put some washi tape on it before you start journaling. There are several ways to do this and the limit is your imagination!

Partitioning

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Another common use for washi tape is to make partitions. In this example, I used very thin strips of washi tape to section off areas in my Hobonichi to make them easy to spot.

Correcting Mistakes

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Another quick way to correct mistakes in writing or journaling is to slap on some washi tape on the offending area, then write over it. For this particular case, I made use of paper tape to make it easier to write on. Regular washi tape would probably require more robust writing instruments such as sharpies or markers.

Attaching Photos and Ephemera

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Washi tape is also commonly used to attach photos and ephemera to a page, whether temporarily or permanently. The ability to attach things temporarily is great in travel journaling, or even just a quick way to anchor things like receipts, bus tickets, or other random everyday ephemera.

Identifier

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Washi tape is also a great way to mark your things for quick identification. This is great in cases where you will be sharing your things with a group and you want a quick way of identifying which ones are yours.

Gift Wrap

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And finally, I also use washi tape for gift wrapping. I was able to consume a roll or two of washi tape over the holidays as I made them the focal point of my gift wrap.

PCPH Planner Party

Image credits: @crafteedandee IG
Image credits: @crafteedandee IG

Last Saturday I attended my first ever planner meet, the Planner Community Philippines (PCPH) Planner Party! It was the first organized planner event by the admins and founders of PCPH.

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These wonderful ladies are Summer of Planners and Journals, Jujet of iamjujetscorner, Dandee of crafteedandee, and Chinky of lionachinky. They have worked very hard to organize this event and made it really successful! [I apologize for the photo quality, this was a shot of them introducing themselves at the start of the programme.]

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The planner party was held in Lasting Impressions, a massive crafting and scrapbooking store masquerading as a nondescript house. The walls of the event room are surrounded with works such as these, very impressive 12×12 scrapbook pages.

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Upon sitting down we were greeted with this tease, the PCPH Snag Bag that they have been releasing sneak peeks of! I could not wait to see what was inside!

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But first there was the programme, as I said. One of the first features was a Plan With Me demonstration by Chinky. If you follow her on Instagram you would know just how cute her spreads are. What you wouldn’t know is how funny and chatty she is in person! I definitely enjoyed seeing her make a spread, and it again left me in awe that some people are just so creative!

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Check out her final spread. She used a lot of the things in the Snag Bag such as the stickers to create this spread with the theme “Pastels”.

We had a short break where we were encouraged to try a selection of goodies prepared by Summer, who is actually a chef by profession! I was able to try out her savories, which were delicious! Along with snacks, we were also invited to try the puncher buffet, where we can borrow the PCPH girls’ collection of punchers. This was where I used the watercolored cardstock I prepared ahead of time! I really enjoyed playing with the punchers, and I am now trying to convince myself not to start another collection.

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The guest speaker was up next, and guess who it is? If you guessed Cynthia of the incredible IG account lovecynthia, then you are correct! She shared her story of how she started with her art, her moving to France, and general chitchat. She is funny and very inspiring!

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One of the highlights of the event was the planner stacking! With the help of a nice little shelf from Lasting Impressions, all the girls brought out their planners of all shapes and sizes to be included in this amazing photo. There is a good representation of the different types of planners; there are some Happy Planners, Filofaxes, Hobonichis, and traveler’s notebooks among others. It’s almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this variety and amount of planners!

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I brought my trusty (and now super fat) Clock Sewdori, which nestled quite comfortably in the middle of the top row.

Image credits: @crafteedandee IG
Image credits: @crafteedandee IG

And of course, what is an event without a group photo? I loved meeting these wonderful girls, and enjoyed the afternoon quite immensely!

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I couldn’t wait to get home so I can check out the contents of the Snag Bag. Here they are in their complete glory! For a complete list of sponsors for the snag bag items, check out the very first photo of this post. I thought that this was quite worth the participation fee of Php1000!

Thanks so much again to the wonderful organizers of the PCPH Planner Party! I am definitely looking forward to the next planner meet!

Craft Case Update + Companion

About a month and a half ago I shared my the contents of my craft case. I want to update you on what changed.

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Actually not a lot. Mostly just the pens (I switched out my blue body Coleto for the clear body, and added the Pilot Petit1 FP) and added a new set of washi samples.

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The main change is in the additions to the outer pocket. I put the older washi sample card here, and replaced my single magnetic cat bookmark with two other magnetic bookmarks and two metallic paperclips. Not a lot of changes, really. But what I really wanted to show you is my newest acquisition: this companion craft case of the same pattern! I now have matching craft cases!

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This bigger craft case is of the A5 size, and has a velcro closure instead of a zipper.

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It’s a trifold, and has four zipped clear pockets inside. As it’s a velcro-closure case, it has some leeway to insert some things outside of the actual clear pockets.

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I have decided on this very nondescript A5 notebook by Ilycraft, which is thin and has nice cream paper. I use it as an art notebook of sorts, where I practice my lettering, brush calligraphy, and watercolor. Prior to this I actually had a small coloring book (and the accompanying plain colored pencils) but this piece by Liz made me realize that I can make my own, so here we are!

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The contents of the actual pockets vary, but this is a good representation of what’s usually in there. On the rightmost biggest pocket I have a handpicked selection of my Faber-Castelle watercolor pencils. In the three smaller ones I have a pack of Target page flags, three Stabilo fineliners, a small paintbrush, a Sakura Micron marker, a small craft scissors, a paperclip, a pack of sticker flakes, and a strip of leather that goes with my Macata traveler’s notebooks.

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I really like the combination of this and the smaller craft case. I don’t, however, bring both of them along everywhere I go as they can be heavy and bulky. If I knew I would just be doing planning and/or journaling, I would bring only the smaller case. If I knew I would have time to practice, I would bring the bigger case. If I knew I would have a good amount of time and the space to spread my stuff (such as my office) I would bring both!

For my local readers, I found both of these in National Bookstore. For everyone, I will be giving out one of the smaller craft case through my Instagram soon, so watch out for that!

A Beginner’s View of Brush Calligraphy

Brush calligraphy is a calligraphy style that uses a brush pen. A brush pen is a pen with a brush or a brush-like tip. As with pointed-pen calligraphy, the downstrokes are made thick by pressing down on the pen and the upstrokes are thinner by only using the lightest of touch to make the line.

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There are now a lot of locally available brush pens. The ones I currently own are in the photo above. From left to right they are: Pilot Petit3 in Baby Pink; Zig Scroll&Brush in Orchid, Baby Pink, and Black; Zig Kuretake Fudebiyori in Blue and Gray; Zig Kuretake Fudebiyori Metallic in Green; Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen Extra Fine in Mint Green, Black, Bordeaux, and Sepia. These are a very meager sample from a lot of other available pens, and in fact I only have a sample size of two brands (Pilot and Zig). Watercolor is also a great medium to do brush calligraphy with!

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Here are written examples of each type of brush pen. The Cocoiro Extra Fines make the finest lines, followed by the Petit3, while the Fudebiyori and Scroll&Brush are very broad. I find it really hard to use the broad tips as you can see in the writing above. It looks a lot messier compared to the two fine brushes. The Petit3 is slightly easier to use even though it has an overall shorter body because the tip is very forgiving.

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I’m not really an expert in brush calligraphy, but I try to practice regularly. I like doing short and simple (and encouraging!) messages and I also keep a collection of inspiring quotes to practice with. If all else fails, I resort to doing song lyrics!

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A lot of the times I also make use of brush calligraphy in my planner (as decorative headings) and journal. I have also attempted using it for hand lettering such as the one below, although I don’t have very many of those yet. For other examples of my work, check out my Instagram.

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How did I get started on brush calligraphy? I actually started with pointed-pen calligraphy (I attended Eula’s workshop!) but found that I could not find the time to sit down and do it nor the patience to fiddle around with bottled inks and tiny nibs. More recently I got to attend a mini brush calligraphy workshop by Mimai (Instagram) and found that I really enjoyed it and found it more to my style and liking. I bought a few more brush pens to play around with, and I now have a long wishlist of more pens to try!

Recently I stalk many brush calligraphers on Instagram for inspiration (Aina, Oceanchelle, The Word Affair, Oats, Paola, The Paper Cat, Mommy Lhey, Clair), and The Postman’s Knock and The Fozzy Book are also great resources.

 

DIY Traveler’s Notebook Personal Setup

I have mostly been satisfied with my setup of Midori Passport as my wallet+portable notebook and Midori Blue as my planner and journal. My only wish was to be able to bring along the Blue everywhere so I can access my planner if necessary. Unfortunately it’s rather on the big (and heavy!) side, and so it cannot fit in my everyday purse. I am unwilling to switch to a bigger purse, as that will just breed extra things to bring and my back cannot tolerate anything heavier than what I currently have!

TN people online have recently been talking about a new size called Personal, and is meant to reflect the personal size in the ringed planner systems. Compared to the Midori regular’s 210x110mm (insert size), the personal was only at 171x95mm which was significantly smaller. I thought it was something that would fit my need. Unfortunately I currently do not have the funds to purchase from the more popular brands that carry personal (Chicsparrow, Foxyfix), but I thought I can try making my own. Meet my White traveler’s notebook.

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I made it out of a glossy cardboard folder I had lying around. To make it sturdier, I decided to double it up, so this is actually two layers of cardboard stuck together. I installed the eyelets by hand (I have no eyelet setter), and made it so it will have two elastics on the inside. I decided to use black elastic because I thought it went quite well with the stark plain white of the cardboard. I am actually quite happy how it turned out!

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Of course the whole point of this process is to be able to plan with it. I used Wendaful‘s free printables for both the monthly and weekly layouts, and I’m hoping that they will work for me. I’ve moved my whole planning process over to White to see if the personal size is the one I’m looking for.

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Here are the other things I have inside White. The original folder I used had built in pockets, and I kept those on both sides of the notebook. I keep a few sheets of planner stickers in the front pocket.

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The first notebook (red cover) is my commonplace notebook. I put in here lists of things I want to remember, and generally a place to write things in on the go. In front of this notebook is the front part of a passport holder I found that could fit in White, and holds a couple of journaling cards for decoration.

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The middle notebook (cream cover) is my planner. I’ve already shown you the layouts I have inside, but inside the front cover I put all my sticky notes.

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The third notebook (brown cover) is currently blank and purposeless. Around this third notebook I have my DIY clear pocket, and this side here holds yet more sheets of planner stickers.

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I actually have a fourth notebook in here! It’s a tiny notebook (fits in my Passport) that I use to track my weight and my purchases, and this notebook is actually slotted in the back built-in pocket. The clear pockets you see above it is the second half of the passport case, and I use it to hold some loose notepaper and my passport-size pencil board.

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In total I currently have four notebooks, two DIY clear pockets, and two built-in pockets. All of that folds in to this thickness, which is not really that thick. Again, I’m so far quite pleased with the setup, the weight, and the size of my White, but I’ll give it maybe a few more weeks before I decide if I’ll actually be buying an artisan-made traveler’s notebook in personal size.

Would you like a demonstration on how I made this notebook?