Monday, 27 January 2014

The Documented Life Project: challenges 1 - 4

Week One: photograph, sketch, paint or incorporate your front door
This is a picture of our front door taken early in the morning as I left for work. The streetlights were shining over the garden wall which drew a diagonal line across it, I thought it looked kind of cool. In the winter I leave the house before sunrise, or very soon after it, and come home in the dark so it seemed appropriate to photograph it like this. I also love the way the light from inside shines out from the windows. The door came with the house when we moved in three years ago, and at first I thought it was hideous but I kind of like it now. 

Around the picture I've written some quotes that I like and appropriate to the challenge. The big one at the top is a quote from Lord of the Rings, inscribed on the The Doors of Durin, the West-gate of Moria. I didn't want to attempt to draw the elvish! The other quotes are: "home is any four walls that enclose the right people", "if opportunity doesn't knock, build a door", "over the horizon lies another adventure", "we're all mad here" (Alice in Wonderland) and " I'm quite ready for another adventure" (LotR). 

I left it a few weeks after writing the quotes then decided to add a few doodles.

As this was the first challenge it seem appropriate to by done on the back of the monthly calendar for January. This was part of the 2014 desk calendar from the Foot and Mouth Painting Artists that I mentioned in my last post.

Week Two: Say Cheese!!! Incorporate a selfie into your planner.
The last selfie I took was on a ski slope on our last day of holiday. My happy place is in snow so I thought it appropriate! I covered the back of a postcard from Switzerland in Christmas wrapping paper, stuck the photo on with snowflake and stars washi tape and wrote in black marker. It's a little basic but it makes me happy. 

Week Three: Add an envelope from your mailbox.

I borrowed this idea from one of the ladies on the DLP facebook group. She'd turned a business envelope inside out and used the pattern as a background - such a good idea, I'm now looking at envelopes in a whole new way!

On the window side I used all 24 of my colouring pencils to follow the triangular pattern then used a black Sigma Micro 05 pen to draw bubbles.

For the back I used the inside of the envelope flap as a starting line and used a small watercolour set (that had been sat at the bottom of my crafting drawer for years) and created a rainbow effect. Rainbows seem to be a theme that I keep coming back to - my mother created rainbow screen prints while at art school. Once the paint was dry I used the black Micron 05 pen to draw branches. I was going to add flowers but I really liked the way they turned out so I went over the lines with a Tombow Brush Pen in Redwood to make them slightly thicker.

Finally I inserted a postcard I bought in the Paperchase sale, adding a washi tape tab for easy access. I love the way the child in the picture peeks out of the window!

Week Four: Write a secret message and then paint over all but one key word
I struggled with ideas for this one, I don't really write anything particularly secret in my diary so spent a lot of time trying to think up what to write! 

In the end I copied out the lyrics of 'Sing' by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band. The song was written for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Gary Barlow went all over the Commonwealth to find singers and musicians to contribute. There are some really lovely lyrics (as there always are with Gary's songs) and it's such an uplifting song to hear. I was singing along at the top of my voice on a recent car journey! 

I wrote the lyrics in purple Sigma Micron 05 pen and then covered with Tombow Brush pens. I left two parts free of much colour, the two parts that speak the most to me. I may end up coming back and doing more as it feels slightly unfinished. 

You might have recognised the washi tape tab to the left of the card - yup, I used the postcard from week 3 for this challenge!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Documented Life Project

One of my goals this year is to write something in my diary every day and to be more creative with my journalling. 2014 is a big year for me so i wanted to create a permanent record of it. I'd thought about art journalling to do this but felt quite anxious to try as I haven't picked up a paint brush in years. In December someone in a Facebook group commented about the Documented Life project and I thought I'd check it out.

The Documented Life Project was thought up by five talented artists based in the US as a way to plan, journal and create all in one place. They use a Moleskine week plus notes format to create a gorgeous book with weekly prompts to inspire your art and writing. More info can be found on their website: art to the 5th.

Immediately I was drawn to it but wanted to do it in my own way. I already have a great planning system in my Midori Traveler's Notebook and didn't want to mess with that so decided to just combine the last two elements. I settled on using a series of A5 notebooks and filling them with something every day. At the end of the year I'll bind them somehow so I have a big thick volume for 2014.

I'm using a leather, lizard print Filofax Flex to hold the current journal notebook plus a random selection of paper/card/postcards that can be painted/coloured/doodled on and 'tipped in' (stuck in with masking or washi tape from either the spine or page edge). The jotpad that came with the flex is being used to brainstorm ideas when each weekly prompt is released.

I love this set up as I can pick it up and take it anywhere, along with my trusty pencil case . Mostly I write on my desk or in bed just before going to sleep but it's already been with me on holiday to Switzerland for new year. 

The notebook is a Clairefontaine Age Bag A5 notebook (bought from Bureau Direct). I use fountain pens with all sorts of coloured inks for most of my writing so love Clairefontaine paper for its smooth texture and lack of bleed through. I love the marbled effect on the cover so don't want to change it too much but I've made it a bit more personalised by adding a few bits:

I'm currently working on TDLP challenge 5 and I'll do a separate post for challenges 1-4 and then one for each challenge as I complete them but for now here's a few photos of what's in my diary.

Inside front cover (calendar plus my quote to start the year):

Diary page from ski holiday. I stuck the piste map in to show what we'd done that day:

I have a page a day desk calendar of Disney scenes so incorporate that every day if I can, either by sticking in the whole page or cutting it up. I also will stick in things from my day and doodles/tangles.

I'm also cutting up a 2013 desk calendar from the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists and will use that as some extra pages. This association is amazing and the artists produce gorgeous work: I purchase a set of their cards twice a year (general and Christmas). The calendar always comes free with the set of Christmas cards and it seems a waste to recycle the cards once a month has finished, so in they've gone!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Keeping organised: my day-to-day planner

I'm known as the organised one at work. I am the one who tends to organise group events with my friends (read boss everyone about because I get impatient). I keep my DH on track with family birthdays.

Up until the middle of last year I did pretty ok with my phone calendar and Outlook for work. Then I changed phones (iPhone4 to Samsung Galaxy S3) and my planning habits went to the dogs. Don't get me wrong, I love my phone, it's got a better battery life, it is far easier to sync to google, but its planner capabilities are just not the same as iCal. Plus I had a lot more going on in 2013 than in previous years, I had a new permanent job with a lot bigger workload, a new volunteering activity (I'm a Brownie leader) and I was trying to track food consumption and activity for weightwatchers. 

So I used a John Lewis voucher received from my grandmother-in-law for my birthday to buy a Filofax (aqua compact Saffiano for the planner aficionados). It was perfect, a weekly calendar, notes pages, to dos, contacts, all in one lovely colour binder. That's when I discovered the online planner community (spearheaded by the lovely Steve at philofaxy). And I got kind of sucked in to the shiny and pretty and leather! I discovered different diary layouts, non linear ways of time planning (Patrick Ng's Chronodex is my favourite), different sizes of planner, etc. After 4 months of  experimenting I found the perfect set up for me: the Midori Traveler's Notebook:

Midori are a Japanese company which produce some of the best stationery, and their biggest export is the Midori Traveler's Notebook, a piece of black or brown vegetable tanned leather threaded with elastics in which notebooks are held. It's all held together by another elastic that threads through a hole on the back cover. Beautifully simple

My MTN came from Japan, took ages and ended up costing me more than it would have if I'd bought from the stockist in the UK (lesson learned). It came with a brown elastic to close it which I promptly swapped out for the spare orange elastic and threaded a pendant through to jazz it up. I've been using it since November and already it's scratched and battered and loved looking. That's the point of the MTN, it is meant to travel and show where it's been!

Inside I have three booklets or inserts, a month on two pages from November 2013 to December 2014 plus a page for 2015 forward planning:

 a grid paper insert which I use for a bullet journal:

and another grid paper insert for monthly goal tracking:

I've also got two zip pocket inserts, one midori one (which holds page tabs, washi and a muji passport notebook for random notes) and one from a paperchase notebook which also has little pockets that I keep my work card and stamps in. I also keep my favourite fountain pen: a Platinum Plaisir 0.5 nib, loaded with Diamine Rustic Brown ink, in a Midori pen loop slid on to the back cover.

I absolutely love this system, it keeps me focused on what I need to be doing. I love the concept so much I have another being made for me - a faux-dori made by the wonderful Ray Blake of My Life All In One Place. Can't wait!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

How I keep organised - an introduction

One of the things I loathe most is feeling disorganised and overwhelmed. I had a weekly paper planner through University, and then went digital with my iPhone. However last year I realised that digital just wasn't working for me, I had a lot more stuff going on and a lot more things to keep track of, so I went back to paper, and got slightly sucked into Filofax. That, however, is another story for another time...

Fast forward to January 2014 and I keep my life (or rather my tangled mess of a brain) organised with three things:
From left to right: Midori Traveler's Notebook, Filofax Cuban A5 and a Filofax Flex Lizard print

Each serves a different purpose but together they form my external brain, my means of planning, tracking and dumping all my thoughts in some sort of order. 

This post is more of an intro to these three amigos, so there'll be more in-depth posts in the near future but by way of introduction:

The Midori Traveler's Notebook is my planner. I discovered the Japanese firm Midori through facebook and a fabulous website: The MTN is a very basic concept, a piece of leather, threaded with elastic which holds one or more notebooks and inserts. I currently have three notebooks in there, all grid paper: a calendar (one month on each double page), a bullet journal (basically a brain dump with symbols to keep on track) and a goal tracker (I have lots of goals this year - yet another post to do). I also have a couple of file folders and zip pockets to hold loose things like my cheque book, stamps, etc.

The A5 Filofax is my home planner, and one of many Filofax organisers I've owned in the last six months (I currently own three others, and have bought/swapped/sold a lot since August). It has a weekly calendar of both mine and DH's activities, meal planning and spending tracking. It's also holds project planning and reference lists that don't need to leave the house with me. 

The Filofax Flex is the most recent purchase and I love it. It's a leather notebook cover and holds an A5 Clairefontaine (very fountain pen friendly paper) notebook which is my personal diary/journal. In it I write about my day but also doodle and draw, stick in things I've been sent, papers I've picked up, general prettiness. I'm participating in The Documented Life project, in a bid to be more creative in 2014 so my weekly challenges also go in here. 

Intro's over! Over the next few posts I will go into more detail about each and explain how I use them. Advance warning, they will be very picture heavy!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year in the Swiss mountains

There is nothing better than having a week with family, surrounded by snow and spending your days whizzing down steep slopes! Grindelwald in german-speaking Siwtzerland was the setting for my new year week.

It was a week of highs and lows (mostly falls), sunshine one day and really strong winds the next (my 12 year old brother almost got blown off a piste!). Lovely posh do at New Year and an extremely bumpy landing back into London City airport (first time in a while that I've been on a flight where people screamed, swore then applauded the pilots!)

Some pictures of our week below:

You can't get anywhere near a slope without getting on a train (or bus)

Hubby went extreme off-pisting, got lost and walked down a river to get back to civilisation!


A happy Snowflake in snow!