A New, Shiny Rabbit Hole – Bullet Journals


My second morning of making a daily entry in my BuJo.

I’ve been feeling more and more scattered and subsequently anxious. I’m not sure if it is just age, the stress of relocation, or the return of my chronic pain and all the other crap it brings with it. I started thinking that despite my struggles with to-do lists often dragging me down mentally that perhaps my brain could be a bit clearer if I got things down on paper. Enter the Bullet Journal, a sort of DIY paper planner that you build as you go to suit your own individual needs!

As tends to happen, this system also crossed Cate’s path about the same time and we both have jumped in. I think Cate has so far limited hers to work. Since I work part-time from home the household is part of my “work” too. I’m struggling to find a way to hold myself accountable for taking care of me and am hoping this may help me in that goal as well, though so far I haven’t gotten there.

By my third daily in the BuJo I was getting a bit more realistic with my task list.

My struggles with to-do lists in the past is that they overwhelm me and I end up in sort of paralysis. It took a bit for me to find a balance in how many tasks are really realistic to put down in my daily logs. Of course ,with the chronic pain issues that can be hard to predict in advance. I’m finding I’m doing pretty decent with the dailies now. I’m usually focusing on one or two main tasks for work, usually about two tasks for the household (laundry, vacuuming, etc.), and a task or two for the online classes I’m taking, depending upon how smoothly the software/web site is running.



I decided to set up a Calendax of recurring tasks, which of course mostly means household chores. Though, there are some exceptions there like Audible renewing and after this photo I added when new lessons for the online classes I’m taking release and things like that.



There is a very strong community out there for people using this system and they are all very supportive. Many share their spreads, hacks, and systems freely in hopes it will help someone else. When I first ran across the Calendex system I thought it was crazy. It certainly would not work for me as an index, but as the layout floated around in my head a bit I was suddenly inspired to use it as a way to keep track of recurring tasks.

Since we moved I’ve been much more religious about cleaning. But, there are those things that don’t get done weekly and I wasn’t doing so great at keeping track of when they should be done or were last done – washing the vacuum and the air purifier filters, cleaning the blinds, etc. Plus there are other things around our home that happen on a semi-regular basis like DH’s Fridays off, mom’s Audible subscription renewing etc. This is perfect! I can flip back and refer to it when I’m making out my dailies to see what is on the docket to get done for the day.

My first attempt at a weekly spread in the BuJo needs some help. Putting all the household chores down here was just duplicating the efforts, though without those I hardly would have had anything filled in come Sunday, which was rather discouraging.

After almost a week of dailies I found there were tasks popping in my head that didn’t need done “right now” or even on a particular schedule, but I wanted them to get done soon on an as time allows basis. I knew just tossing them into the dailies whenever they popped into my head was going to make me feel defeated because I’d have too many tasks left open so I thought I’d try a weekly spread. Plus, that gave me a place to note down over the air TV shows we’d like to catch if we can and events in the upcoming week.

I ended up duplicating my efforts on the household chore front. Though now that the week is over I’m sad to say if it weren’t for those on the list, there would be very few filled in boxes. I’m still trying to find a way to keep track of what I’d like to get done in a way that doesn’t make me feel defeated.

I know part of the issue was some of the tasks were really too big. The green boxes were work projects and those never proceed at the rate they could because I am almost always awaiting more details or data or what not for a few days. I ended up giving a couple of the work projects their own page with it broken down into smaller tasks and I’m pulling a task or two from that page into my dailies and that is working fantastically!

The things that require going anywhere languish. Since December Brandon has decided to rip into anything in plastic and get into trash cans when left home alone. It takes about 20 minutes to Brandon-proof the apartment before leaving. DH doesn’t want him left home alone for more than about two hours at a time right now. With relying on mass transit/walking for transportation that means I can get somewhere and turn around and come home and not actually get anything accomplished like get my hair cut, do any shopping.

I’ve been meal planning along these lines for a while now, but it slipped quite nicely right into my BuJo. Each Thursday I make this spread as I prepare for our CSA arrival on Friday and subsequent grocery order to supplement it.

I’ve also moved my meal planning into my BuJo. I have been planning our meals like this for a while now and as long as we stick to it (something we could improve on) I’ve drastically reduced our food waste with this system. I make note of the foods coming in our Friday CSA delivery from 4P Foods (green) and anything that is needing used in our fridge or pantry (red) under “Foods to Use.” Then on the right I take down 5-8 recipes for the week and all of their ingredients marked with a dash. I compare that list to the foods to use list and shop my pantry/fridge and make it a plus if I have or will be receiving the ingredient. Then I transfer all the dashes over into the proper category under “Shopping.” We use InstaCart for a lot of our shopping so I add a dash when I add it to my InstaCart order and make it a plus as I unload it from my delivery. Stuff in purple are things that I really need to pick up and are available at our really poor grocery store next door (I swear it is like a time warp to the grocery stores of my youth in rural Minnesota). I’ve found there are certain types of items that I just really don’t really want to deal with InstaCart on.


Heading into March I want to add a gratitude spread and I think a spread for the month to track health-related things. I’ll keep the dailies more or less as they are, but I need to decide whether to keep the weeklies or make pages for the different sort of tasks kind of how I did for my work projects and then each day or every other day pick one task from each of those pages? Or maybe a page for low-energy tasks and higher-energy tasks? I’m open to suggestions!

Do you bullet journal? I’d love to hear how you are making it work for you!

If you haven’t heard of this I definitely encourage you to check out the original concept at BulletJournal.com. There are also some great resources to be found at Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Boho Berry as well as hundreds of videos on YouTube of people showing you their BuJo set ups. There is a huge Instagram following with #BuJo, #BuJoJunkies, #bulletjournal and many other hashtags. Wonderful support can also be found in the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook group.



Keepin’ On Keepin’ On

Tangles on Tuesday in the Tangle a Day Calendar. Feb 4 was Koaxil which I did with a 20 minute time limit, trying to get myself to let go and just do a bit more. Feb 5th was Ah, Love You! with support from Sedgling, Zinger, Pokeleaf, Tipple, Fescue, and Festune. Feb 6th features Ionic with an assist from Popcloud.

  I’m doing half way decent on tangling daily again with the help of Jane Eileen’s Tangles on Tuesday challenge. I seem to skip about one day a week, usually when DH is home. But I just do two in the next day or two. Not having to think too much about what patterns to use seems to be working for me and bringing back the zen element.

Tangles on Tuesday in my Tangle A Day Calendar. Feb 7th is Zenvelopes, 8th, is Salo, and 9th is Bublz which always highlights how not-round my circles are! Doh!

  I have noticed though that since I’m jumping straight into the calendar pages I am a bit more frequently that I would like to admit doing a variant because “there are no mistakes.” I keep missing small little key details in the step-outs or perhaps in some cases overthinking things and messing up when I reorient my paper (something that happened in the last three days, but I haven’t photographed yet).

Tangles on Tuesday in my Tangle A Day Calendar. An close look at Feb 11th’s Heart Box and a bit of the 10th’s Flameta which I embellished further at some point after this pic.

  I’m debating if I should start practicing in a notebook first. But, that would mean I’d need to carve out more time. While I would be nice to have step-outs drawn by myself to put into Doodle Organizer I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Plus, I’ve been having issues with Doodle Organizer messing up the photo/pattern pairing in the back-ups and restoring between my devices so if I were to continue down that path I’d probably need to start all over.

Some Valentine’s goodies for myself – the T’Gaal pencil sharpener that makes 5 different shaped tips on your pencils, my very first Washi tape and the 20 pack of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

 I splurged on myself for Valentines day and ordered some goodies (well, DH ordered the pencil sharpener). While tangential to tangling, these are actually for a new obsession that I’ve stumbled upon recently that dovetails nicely with the zentangle practice. I’ll share more about that in another post in the near future.

Tangles on Tuesday

My first six days of Tangles on Tuesday in the Tangle a Day Calendar
My first six days of Tangles on Tuesday in the Tangle a Day Calendar.

Somewhere along the line I lost my purpose in picking up zentangling a little over 13 months ago. That purpose aligned with the goals of the founders. I wanted another form of meditation.

I have a tendency for monkey brain and often get fixated on what is flowing through, but being given a pattern to focus on that is repetitive was giving me a way to just let those thoughts go that I wasn’t finding in my solo yoga practice (class was a different matter, but was no longer an option). As I tend to do, I ended up focusing on the final outcome rather than the process.

Undiala with an assist from primtemps and tipple, Warped Eggs, and Y-flip in a hollibough string.
Undiala with an assist from primtemps and tipple, Warped Eggs, and Y-flip in a hollibough string.

When I thought back to when my tangling was more meditative it came down to working my way through One Zentangle A Day. So, I got the Tangle A Day Calendar and I decided that I’d follow “Idea #6 Tangles on Tuesdays” in the Zentangle: Tangled and Journaled, Too! group on Facebook. Jane Eileen, the owner of the group posts seven new tangles each Tuesday. So, I’m doing the day’s tangle in my calendar. Sometimes it is a monotangle, sometimes friends show up, other times tangleations appear – and that is just what happened in my first week of this new practice!

As a graphic designer who frequently has to read minds because I’m not given all the information an outside design agency would require, I often experience decision fatigue. This exercise is effective because I have a decision made for me from which to start instead of being paralyzed with possibilities.

Zandhoorn, Tofube, and Vertcut
Zandhoorn, Tofube, and Vertcut

This week the practice has been especially helpful. Last weekend’s blizzard brought to light a design/build defect in our apartment building and we awoke Monday morning to a rather large puddle in our apartment. At first I thought DH had very wetly mopped up after a doggy mess or that the dishwasher had sprung a leak, but a look at the ceiling revealed that was the source of water. Maintenance poked a hole in it to keep it from spreading, but by Monday night it was the size of a dinner plate with an arm along a seam line nearing 5 feet long and we were catching about a gallon of water every three to four hours by Tuesday morning. After a lot of yelling and complaining we finally were relocated to a hotel on Wednesday evening where we could breathe and not have the roar of industrial machinery running at all hours and the heat cranked up to ridiculous levels.

It may have been one thing if we were going to work, but I always work from home and DH was on telework for much of the week due to the storm aftermath. Working in that chaos with men coming and going without notice, the roar of the equipment, and both of us and Brandon being confined to the master bedroom and left without means of cooking safely or washing dishes was not sustainable. Neither of us were at our usual productivity levels in that situation.

Flowerly gets an assist from sampson.
Flowerly gets an assist from sampson.

DH has ventured back to the apartment today to do laundry and bring back more clothes for us. The report is there is a larger hole now, cleaned up and ready for patching, plus an additional hole. The dehumidifiers and fan are gone. We are hopeful that means it is dried out and they will start the patching tomorrow, painting Tuesday, and that we’ll be back home at Wednesday’s checkout time? We haven’t actually heard from management since Thursday night when they said it would be 3-5 days, though they hadn’t been very truthful prior to that. While Thursday at the hotel was lovely — being able to breathe, and to eat without fear of ingesting insulation, it gets old pretty quick. I’m ready to be back home, even if that means loosing a day of work to cleaning up after the mess they’ve made. I want my bed! My pillow! My computer monitor!

In With the New Year

I’m not setting any resolutions or goals for 2016 per se. I may over the course of the next week or so settle upon a word or phrase to serve as a mantra. Then again, I may not.

What I do hope will happen is that I will find my creativity once again. All the craziness of the past few years with DH finishing up grad school and our moving from Colorado to Virginia has sucked a lot of energy out of me. Yesterday’s “You’ve got memories to look back on” on Facebook was three solid of years of saying good riddance to the previous year. That’s not good.
2015 did end on a lot of up notes. We sold our house without much drama (aside from getting it emptied from a distance) on December 1st and came out the other end able to erase all the debt from grad school/under-employment, improve the living situation (our first non-futon mattress was delivered a week ago and I’m hopeful will help my body and mind), upgrade our 9-year-old laptops so I can take on more design jobs, and still have a bit of a savings account again. Without paying both a mortgage and rent we will be able to save money each month once again instead of living paycheck to paycheck.

I’ve had very little time and energy to devote to any sort of creativity on a regular basis and I’m hoping to change that going forward. It may not all be Zentangle or even ZIA, but I’m thinking a good bit of ink and maybe some watercolor work. I also want to work on creating art on my iPad so when my body is not wanting to play my creativity still can. If you have any suggestions of apps (I have the Adobe ones, Paper, Procreate and Skribl) or YouTube channels to check out, please let me know! I do know tangling will still play a significant part because I really have to embrace letting things flow and Zentangle is an effective exercise for that.

So, in the spirit of being creative on a more regular basis I made the following last night. In bed. In a dearly lit room. While watching X-Files as DH and I have been scrambling to get caught up to have it all watched before the revival later this month. I have say, living out here has brought a whole new dimension to watching the show!


I created a string in my unused 5×8″ Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal using 2016, then tangled in it using b’tweed, flux, tipple, fescue, mooka, a variation on purk and whatever those fan-like things are called.

I did the drawing in my watercolor art journal I ordered a month or so ago and hadn’t used yet thinking I’d watercolor after, but I’m not so sure if I want to watercolor it now. What do you think? Maybe I should try my hand at digital coloring? My string was inspired by Sue Jacobs and her tile she shared. Can you spot the “2016” in there? I think my tipple kept it a little more distinguishable. I did waffle over whether to so obviously cut the piece in half, but ultimately decided to go for it. I have to say I still hate my mooka though. *sigh*

Happy New Year to anyone still following along! I hope 2016 is everything you wish for and more!

Day 6 and I only finished Inktober #2…

Inktober #2
Spheres with Disc Inktober Zentangle #2 featuring cadent, gneiss with purk and paradox, kozy, cruffle and black pearls.

It is day six and I only just finished my second tile.I’m full of excuses. It really boils down to not finding a groove yet. I have a hard time taking time to do my own things when DH is around and he has every other Friday off which happened to be this week. We also are lacking in the lighting department because lamps are bulky and expensive to move across the country. With the nor’easter this weekend and 11 straight days of cloudy skies things were just overall very dark in our apartment despite an abundance of windows. I’m also just slow. I laugh whenever I read that Zentangle is a 15 minute process. I don’t even get all the patterns inked in 15 minutes when I know all of them well. Then on Saturday I was felled with some sort of odd malady which I was still cautiously recovering from on Sunday.  I still don’t know what the cause may have been. Too much gluten?

This tile is a prime example of shading saving the day. I freehanded all the circles so things are wonky and I am way out of practice on spherical grids and cadent so when I started there I was already quite unhappy with the results before moving on to the gneiss/paradox/purk tangleation. I kept at it a bit adding black pearls, kozy, and cruffle to the mix (see below). Some rush jobs greeted me when I logged on after my tangling and breakfast hour so any further work was stalled until this morning. I much prefer to shade in natural lighting anyway so it was probably for the best that I didn’t revisit it last evening after work. Plus it gave me that oft advantageous “distance.”

Inktober Zentangle #2
Inktober Zentangle #2 sans shading. You can see a lot of wonkiness and it is pretty uninteresting. I almost passed on doing anything more with it, thinking it unsalvageable.

The shading masks my wonky cadent and it’s definitely not round “sphere.” And overall it just brings more dynamics to the piece through the dimension and layering it creates. I think really the shading is some of what I love most about the tangling process, yet when I first started I neglected that step for a few weeks or more! So sad! As has become usual for me, I used three different leads in my shading – 3H, HB, and 3B to help develop more realistic shadows.

After yesterday’s rush jobs I’m hoping to carve out the time to at least ink a third tile today, but we’ll have to see. Then this evening is the monthly handcrafters group at my library so I *may* tangle there. I’ve brought my basic kit with me every time but always end up knitting because it seems easier to visit with others while knitting than tangling.

Inktober Day #1


In my first Inktober drawing we have sampson, auraknot, keeko, bunzo, bb, and msst.
It had already been a very cloudy and slightly rainy 2 days here which is making photographing my early Inktober entries a bit of a challenge. That is likely to remain as my first nor’easter as an east coaster has arrived and regardless of what hurricane Joaquin decides to do, we are likely to feel the effects.

Having not tangled or drawn much recently I decided to go back to the basics for my first #inktober drawing. I used my Doodle Organizer app to randomly choose my first few patterns. That frees me up from decision making but ensured I was at least somewhat familiar with the patterns. Once I had a few patterns in place I continued on my own.

This was actually one of my first tiles where I defiated from my string. I’m wishing now that I had photographed the string. Oh well!

It isn’t my favorite tile, but not too bad for being rusty and letting a lot depend upon chance!

Routines, Habits and Inktober?

Since the move I’ve been struggling with finding a routine. A ritual time for creativity. A time for exercise. The only thing I’ve started to form a regular routine with is cleaning the apartment. That is working quite well. I haven’t tangled in I don’t know how long. I think in part due to this lack of time set aside specifically to do so and partly because I keep thinking if I’m tangling I should be finishing up the new address postcards (only a partial one to go and I can’t seem to finish it).

I really need to get back to tangling for the sake of putting pen to paper and for meditation rather than for art sake. I miss how December and January worked for me where I randomly put together patterns in a string without any expectations and embracing that I would dislike some of the tiles. I have enough pressure from design work to produce finished, beautiful work.

With that said, have you heard of Inktober? The idea is you pick a frequency — daily aka marathon, every other day aka half-marathon, or weekly aka 5k and you create an ink drawing at that frequency for the month of October. You post to your blog or Instagram or Tumblr or what have you and use the hashtag #inktober to connect with others participating. I think I’m going to do it. Hopefully it will help me carve out some sort of regular practice for drawing, tangling or just plain being creative in some form. I’m not sure what frequency I’m going to chose yet, probably marathon or half marathon. But, in preparation I picked up Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists on sale in Kindle format today so I have some prompts if I get stuck or wish to draw something other than tangles.

Anyone else out there planning to take part in Inktober? Share your URL or Instagram name etc. where you will be posting so we can follow along!