Planning – All Washi Tape Challenge

Hi, everyone! Today, I’m going to try the All Washi Tape Challenge in my planner. There are a lot of planner videos going around where people set up the next week’s pages with only washi. I’ve seen some people use stickers or add in doodles, even though I think that kind of defeats the purpose of the challenge. So, other than writing down actual plans in my planner, I’m going to only use washi this week.

Washi tape started in Japan as a kind of tape made with rice paper. One side is sticky, but it’s reusable. The other six may be decorated, have a solid color, or even be clear. Since it is made of rice paper, you can also write on washi. These qualities make washi tape perfect for journaling, arts, and crafts. I bought some cheap washi online once that turned out to just be cheap tape with random decorations. It doesn’t even work well as tape, so be forewarned and read reviews before you buy washi online.

For this challenge, I don’t need many tools. I have my MAMBI Happy Planner, washi, my¬†favorite purple Pilot G-2 pen to write in my planner, scissors to cut shapes in the washi, and my Bat Ruler for cutting strips of washi.

First, I’m going to pick a theme. This way, I can pull out just the washi that I need and push the others to the side. I want to use up some of that crappy tape I mentioned earlier, so I pulled out the green horse tapes. Then, I pulled out greens and blues from the rest of the washi. Matching the theme like this just makes the planner look a bit more pulled together than using random patterns and colors. I’ve made that mistake before, and even though it’s not a huge deal, it is a daily reminder to pick themes in future planning endeavors.

Now that I have my washi picked out, I’m going to start blocking off boxes, just to add decoration. A lot of planners like to decorate entire boxes just for looks. Because I rely so heavily on the info in my planner to get me through my daily life, I try to add decorations as an accent instead. I decided to start with the horse tape since this is a good way to use a lot of tape. Some weeks have great quotes at the bottom of the page, it this week just has a flower. I didn’t want to cover up the pretty flower, so I just cut strips of tape to place around the flower. This tape can be repositioned like washi, but also comes off easily, so I’m going to layer this stuff. I took my pages out to make taping around the sides easier. (One of the many benefits of using the Big Happy Planner is being able to easily remove and insert pages!) I’m extending two of the middle lines out into the Notes section to divide that section up too.

The next thing I need to do is separate out specific events. I always mark the days that we have the kids overnight and any birthday parties, lunches , or events we have on the calendar. To indicate when we have the kids, I’m using a line of washi (purchased on clearance at Michaels) with a couple of points at the end. I thought the green and brown pattern had a kind of modern Western look that would blend well with the horses, while also pointing out the Kids Days. I cut out a smaller piece of washi (this came with the washi I used on the Kids Days line), folded it in half with the patterned sides touching, and cut a point. When I open up the tape, there is one point at each end. After snipping the washi in half, I have two points that fit perfectly on the end of the washi line to make a little bracket for Kids Days.

Using a similar method, I’m placing a banner on the weekend. The skinny washi (1/4 in, got a whole set for cheap on Amazon) bends well to form a banner string. Taking a piece of patterned washi and repeatedly cutting the ends into triangles gives me flags for my banner. I’ve seen this method on a few vlogs and thought it looked complicated, but three minutes after placing the banner string, my flags were on the page. Easy Peasy!

I tend to use the Notes area for habit tracking with stickers. Since this is a washi only week, I’m making my own checkboxes with washi. I could also write out everything, but I think the washi will look a little snazzier. I know that I want four trackers this week. I want at least one blank line between my trackers to make things look cleaner. Luckily, the horseshoe tape is spaced just far enough apart to allow me to use the top two areas of Notes for my trackers. Laying down the thin washi one light at a time, I use my BatRuler to cut apart the washi. My favorite purple pen is perfect for writing in the trackers’ names and the days of the week. Each time I do one of the things on the tracker, I’ll black out the day with a pen or sticker!

Typically, I don’t use any other borders and would add decorative stickers at this point. Since I’m sticking to washi, I think I’ll just add some line embellishments to make the most of this washi opportunity. Et voila! C’est si bon! The journal is now ready for me to write down appointments and whatnot. Normally, I’d already have a ton of things written down before I even started decorating. It worked out well that this particular week is the one I’m using for this challenge.

I hope you liked this post. Let me know in the comments what you think! Be sure to visit the links in this post for some great info and fun vlogs from people who are way more experienced at this than me ūüėĀ


Watercolors – Swatching Koi Water Colors

Until recently, I had only used Crayola watercolors. I mean, you know, they work, but not if you want to try to learn to do something other than paint a picture of a house and a tree for your mom. I have some watercolors that I got from an old job after they switched to digital mapping instead of handrawn maps. I tested a couple of colors and didn’t want to waste my fancy paints on another picture of my cat with hearts and stars in the background. When I saw Lhey and others online using watercolors in their journals, I thought, “This could be the way I use my fancy paints!” I didn’t want to start with them, though. So, I used a coupon at Michaels to buy a palette of Sakura Koi Water Colors (Pocket Field Sketch Box).

After over a month of journaling with watercolors, I’ve made some progress.

I like the crinkly paper in my journals, but I have problems recreating the effects I see on tutorials online. I have a hard time following directions, and all of the beginning watercolor tutorials say to swatch your colors and to use watercolor paper. I have some Canson Watercolor Paper (cold press, 4×6, 140 lb) left from a collage project that a group of my friends and I did as a birthday gift 10 years ago. It happens to be the perfect size to swatch the watercolor set. I gave it a try.

The results are so much better than I expected! The colors went on easier and were much easier to manipulate on this paper than random notebook paper. This must be why everyone working with watercolors has the same tips.

I also found a great series of watercolor how-tos from The Witty Gritty Paper Co. I did the first transparency exercise and was surprised at how well it looks. There should have been more of a difference between 1 & 2 and 3 & 4, but I still don’t think it came out looking too bad. I really have a problem with staying in the lines, both in art and in life. So, I clearly need to work on that (in art only!)

Well, that was my adventure in swatching my Koi watercolors. As you can see, I am still very much a watercolor Noob, but I hope to improve so that I can look back on this post in a couple of years and say, “Ah, the innocence of no experience and cheap materials. I remember those days of yore with much fondness.” (I may or may not have been watching a bunch of period pieces about Frankenstein and alienists lately.). Thanks for reading and starting this voyage with me!

Random Saturday‚Äôs – Journaling

Over the past couple of months, I’ve really gotten into journaling and planners. I found creative forms of bullet journaling on Pinterest a couple years back, but ended up really only tracking tv shows that I was watching.¬† That made me sad because I like to think that my life is made of more than work and tv (it’s not). I got into lettering last year, but didn’t make much time to really practice it right away. Sometime around last summer, I figured out how to practice lettering on my iPad so that I wouldn’t have to use paper. I tried to work on journaling as a way to practice lettering on paper, but it just took on much time. I want to do so many things, but have no time or energy!

That’s my big problem – everything takes time and energy…and money.

I’m sure most people feel this way, though. I started watching YouTube videos by Mommy Lhey on accident. She had a family, but also managed to do journaling, planning, watercolor painting, logging, and so much more. Plus, she seemed to be at least part Filipino. I never see people like me on tv or movies. So, imagine my surprise at finding this woman who worked on projects of interest to me and drew pictures of people who looked like me (and people of other ethnicities too)!

This opened a whole new world of creativity and organization to me. Blending so many interests of mine led me to join Facebook groups, find Etsy stores, talk to strangers at craft stores, and reignite a general feeling of ME-ness that has been missing for so long. Even before I got married, I was in a creative rut and couldn’t find anything that really excited me. After getting married and having the added pressure of craziness as a corporate peon, I though creativity was a thing of the past. It made me sad, which made me feel useless, which made me sad, which made me feel useless, and so on and so forth.

This week’s journal layout makes me happy! This week’s journal layout makes me happy!

In the past month, I’ve worked on lettering on my iPad and on paper, did some wine & painting events with good friends, started creative planning in a beautiful journal, and have already completed my first artistic journaling notebook. I also enrolled in a Skillcrush career blueprint that will hopefully help me make some money as a side hustle on art and web design/programming/anything while my day job helps keep this roof over my family’s head. I’m feeling better about myself and my life, and I hope my family has felt the effects too. It’s so nice to have a creative outlet again that helps relieve stress and connect me to other people in the world who have the same interests.


Random Saturdays – Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

FULL DISCLOSURE РJack and I are blogging buddies.  He gave me an advanced review copy of his eBook, but did not pay me or beat me into the agreement to review the book.  He requested only that I read the book and give an honest opinion of it during the week of its release.  I agreed because I wanted to read the book before everyone else.  Suckers!

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise will be released on Tuesday, October 20th.  This is the third book in a series written by my buddy, Jack Flacco.  I will say right now that this book made me cry.

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

From reading the previous books, I’m fond of Ranger and his rag tag group of kids. ¬†I call them kids, but by the third book, even Jon, the youngest, has lost all traces of childhood. ¬†I guess you have to grow up pretty quickly during the Zombie Apocalypse. ¬†I wouldn’t know, having never been through one and intending to kill myself immediately upon hearing of at least five dead people who are eating living people.

In this book,¬†Ranger and his crew hear about a place called Paradise where he and the kids might¬†finally be able to live in¬†a world without 24 x 7 adrenaline battles. ¬†Could it be too good to be true? ¬†Before they could figure that out, they’d have to get to Paradise, and travelling anywhere in the Zombie Apocalypse is a trying task. ¬†They meet new people and run into old allies along the way.

As with the others, the book starts out in media res, so it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on at first. ¬†I assume that’s intended by the author to make the reader as disoriented as the characters must be. ¬† ¬†When Ranger’s group stumbles upon another group, they seem to grow close quickly. ¬†There’s a reason, but it was still a bit too quick for me. ¬†It felt like that part of the movie where you see something happen quickly with one line as an explanation and you yell at the screen, “Oh, the book goes into it much more than that!” ¬†Moving through the story, there are some flashbacks that explain a bit more of Ranger’s past than before, which was nice. ¬†Although, I’m not sure that it moved the story forward much at this point. ¬†When the group decides to set out for Paradise, the real action starts. ¬†Jack excels at, “Woo! ¬†That was close! ¬†Oh crap, it’s not over yet?!?!” moments. ¬†It’s quite a battle to get to Paradise, but when I saw how many pages were left before the group could get into Paradise, I knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying a peaceful ending any time soon.

If you like your endings tied up in a pretty package, then you will hate the end of this book. ¬†Initially, I was mad, wondering if there were going to be more books even though this was supposed to be a trilogy. ¬†Then, I let it settle in and came to accept the ending as fitting to the zombie genre in general. ¬†Good zombie books and movies do not have pretty endings. ¬†They always leave you with questions and they always leave you wanting more. ¬†For Ranger Martin and his group of adolescent comrades, it would be unfitting to have the group live happily ever after. ¬†Overall, I’m pleased with the series and this was a pretty exciting read.

I will admit that there are some misspellings and poor grammar sprinkled throughout the book. ¬†Jack wrote and published the book himself, so it’s hard to get everything as sparkling clean as expensive publishing houses require. ¬†Even then, a certain red-headed wizard in a very well-known book series was referred to by the name of the actor who played him in the movie, rather than the book character’s name. ¬†I have read some other self-published works that were just too painful to slog through at all, no matter how much I wanted to like the book or how free the book was. ¬†If’ you’re unsure, go ahead and read the first chapter on Jack’s site. ¬†Then, buy the book. ¬†It’s a relatively quick and easy read that will keep you engaged and excited. ¬†I’m grateful that Jack gave me the opportunity to read and review the book in advance. ¬†I’m still waiting to see how he tackles leprechauns and unicorns, though.


Pimp It Friday – Ranger Martin and The Alien Invasion

FULL DISCLOSURE РJack and I are blogging buddies.  He gave me an advanced review copy of his eBook, but did not pay me or beat me into the agreement to review the book.  He requested only that I read the book and give an honest opinion of it during the week of its release.  I agreed because, hey, I wanted to read the book before everyone else.  Duh.

Since I am not currently the voracious reader that I once was, I have not gotten around to reading Jack Flacco‘s first book, Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse. ¬†It’s on my Amazon Wishlist, but I’m slooooooowly working my way through a stack of books on my bookshelf right now and have not made it to any new Wishlist items yet. ¬†Having read the sequel to Zombie Apocalypse, I now need to go back and read the first one.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

As a fan of Jack’s blog, I was curious about his literary style and how it would carry over to fiction. ¬†Turns out, his blogging style is quite different from his fictional writing style, which is a good thing. ¬†Having not read the first book, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at the start of this one. ¬†The action was so quick, that I got into the moment, though. ¬†After a few chapters, I kind of picked up the vibe of the characters and assumed some history between some of them. ¬†I think the story could have used a page or two summarizing the history between the characters the way many series do, but there was enough action that I didn’t really worry about knowing the characters very well until I already got to know them.

Reading the story actually reminded me of a [do not click on the following link if you do not like spoilers]¬†post that Jack had awhile back. ¬†I’m not sure if the post provided the idea for this book or if this was Jack’s sneaky way of feeling out his readers’ thoughts on his writing subject beforehand. ¬†Either way,¬†Ranger Martin and The Alien Invasion is an exciting read. ¬†The story picks up where Zombie Apocalypse left off – right in the middle of a zombie mob attacking Ranger Martin. ¬†Ranger, Randy, Matty, Jon, and others continue to battle zombie filth while uncovering an alien invasion that is set to wipe out mankind, or rather, have us wipe out ourselves.

It’s hard to tell who to root for and who the real enemies are in the story. ¬†As soon as you pick a side, that side either dies or does something that you ¬†find morally questionable. ¬†When you decide that you don’t like a character, that character shows a hint of a redeemable quality that makes you wonder from where the character’s motives really stem. ¬†Then again, life isn’t black and white. ¬†So, I can’t imagine that zombie apocalypses and alien invasions would make things any easier. ¬†In general, you do get a sense of good vs bad, but I like that the characters aren’t completely flat. ¬†Part of that is due to the age of the main characters. ¬†Imagine figuring out who you are and what your place in the world is when the world is coming to an end. ¬†The forces they are up against are much older, wiser, and more powerful than them in multiple ways. ¬†I really don’t know how I would handle ¬†dealing with some snotty teenager if aliens were taking over the world.

It’s less than 300 pages and the pace of the book makes it a relatively quick read. ¬†This is an excellent book for long flights and long weekends. ¬†The action is steady, the story is fun, and there are some surprising twists to keep readers eager for more. ¬†I look forward to seeing how Jack tackles other subjects like unicorns and leprechauns!


Pimping Saturdays – Music Edition: Old 97’s “Big Brown Eyes”

I grew up in a very musical household and have a deep love and appreciation for music.¬† If I could pick my dream career, I’d travel the world playing piano and singing.¬† I can’t sing or play piano, though, so I have to settle for listening to Sara Bareilles.¬† If I had to choose between being blind or deaf (not a choice I ever want to make), I would choose to be blind.¬† I don’t know if I could ever deal with the depression that would come with realizing that I would never listen to music again.¬† Never hear the opening to “Daytripper” again? ¬†I can’t even imagine how terrible that’d be. ¬†Even though I already love music, certain things get me extra pumped up about it (i.e. concerts).¬† Since the Maroon 5 concert last week, I’ve been listening to Neon Trees on Spotify, which led me to subscribe to my friend, Sarah’s, Justin Timberlake playlist, which gave me withdrawls for The Lumineers album that I’ve listened to at least once a day since I bought it last month.¬† I listened to The Lumineers at work this week, which made me think about R.E.M. for some reason.¬† So I listened to them, which made me think about the Old 97’s, so I listened to them next.

I remember listening to the Old 97’s on The Adventure Club in the 90s. When I met Olga, she had tape recordings of Old 97’s CDs/tapes from her brother.¬† She even let me copy them from her.¬† That’s a true friend, folks! ¬†I’m trying to get rid of my DVDs and CDs now (finally got rid of the last of my cassette tapes last year), but I haven’t been able to part with my Old 97’s CDs yet.¬† I have the songs on my computer, iPod, iPhone, and cloud drives, but I still can’t part with the¬† physical discs. ¬†At this point, I should say that my favorite type of song is what I call a Happy Broken Heart song.¬† These are sad songs with upbeat tempos. ¬†One of my favorite Old 97’s Happy Broken Heart songs is “Big Brown Eyes”.¬† Fans of the Old 97’s know this as a classic tune that was actually recorded on two different albums.¬† To me, the biggest difference between the two are the lines, “I’ve got issues, yeah / Like I miss you, yeah”.¬† I think Rhett Miller sounds more desperate on Wreck Your Life than he does on Too Far To Care, and I like the desperate version better. ¬†[Insert joke here] ¬†On that note, please enjoy this Happy Broken Heart song!


Pimp It Mondays – Changing

I’ve already changed up the Progress Reports, and after experimenting with other post formats on here, I’ve decided to get rid of Pimp It Mondays too. ¬†If you’re anything like me, you come across things on the web and in your daily life that you want to share with other people. ¬†Well, that’s the point of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, anyway. ¬†Specifically, I’m referring to the stuff that I pimp on Mondays being pimped on a more regular basis. ¬†So instead of just writing a post once a week about one cool thing that I want to share with people, I will be offering up links, videos, blog posts, etc. throughout the week. ¬†The posts will probably be a bit shorter, but I think they might ¬†be a bit more relevant too. ¬†If someone that I’ve already pimped does something really cool (i.e. publishes another book), then I won’t feel obligated to wait to talk about it because I’ve got other stuff lined up already or because I just talked about this person a week ago. I can pop in a link on my blog lickety split and get on with the rest of my eating a bucket of M&Ms day.

Also, since anything I post to this blog automatically hits my Twitter and Facebook pages, it helps me be both more lazy and more productive at the same time.  Brilliant, no?


Pimp It Mondays – Vee Hoffman

A few months ago, I found out that one of my very first internet friends published a book last year. ¬†She has since published the second book in that series. ¬†So this Monday, I’m pimping the literary works of Vee Hoffman to you.

Book 1 in the Acclamation series

I met Vee during my first foray into the online email list world, and she later introduced me to the online group that we refer to as RQ — short for Random Questions. ¬†Although I still talk to most of the RoQers (and try to vacation with at least one of them at least once a year), I haven’t talked to Vee in a few years. ¬†In fact, Vee is a newer incarnation of her online persona, and I keep having to correct my typing so that I don’t refer to her as Veronica or Shadow. ¬†Vee is probably a better fitting name for her though since she’s all growed up now and isn’t the goofy early 20s kid that I once knew.

That’s not to say that she isn’t still hilarious, but she’s no longer just dreaming of one day being a published author — she is one now. ¬†Vee is someone who immerses herself in her fictional characters’ minds and the worlds in which they live. ¬†For this reason, she doesn’t write short stories, but instead offers readers a rich world filled with seemingly personal interactions with her characters. ¬†You feel like these characters are real, like the events are real, and you experience everything as if it were happening to you. ¬†The book reviewers seem to agree with me and eagerly share their enthusiasm for the books’ story and characters. ¬†These books are available in Kindle editions, and if you start now, you’ll have time to read the first two books before the next in the series is released.


Pimp It Mondays – Teresa’s Books

Since I’ve been pimping so many books lately, I thought I’d pimp Teresa’s books. ¬†I’ve mentioned her blog on here before, but not her non-blog work. ¬†Below is a list of her work that you can purchase.

1)¬†On the Ground Floor¬†– This is a chapbook containing a handful of short stories. ¬†I own this one and have gifted it to a few friends. ¬†This was my first introduction to Teresa’s fiction-writing and is definitely worth reading.

It might not be your dad or your birthday, but this is good, so don’t throw it on the ground.

2) Crossed Genres Issue #24 (Characters of Color Issue) – 2010 – This issue contains Teresa’s short horror story, “December”,¬†which features a Latina protagonist. It was her first professionally published fiction. ¬†The issue is no longer in print, but you can read the story on the Crossed Genres website. ¬†Though reading the story is free, I encourage you to donate to the site since it’s a completely independent publishing group.

That fish needs to be thrown on the ground.

3)¬†Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them¬†(Mad Norwegian Press, 2011) – I have this one as well. ¬†It’s a must have for any Joss Whedon fan. ¬†I was never able to get into Buffy because I have never really liked Sarah Michelle Gellar, but this book made me think that maybe I should try watching the show again. ¬†Teresa’s essay is entitled “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse”.

Whedonistas! Our knitted hats are so fun!

4) Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, 2012) – This one has “All of Gallfrey’s a Stage: The Doctor in Adolescence”. ¬†I don’t own this book, so I can’t vouch¬†for it personally, but it’s Dr. Who, Mad Norwegian Press, and Teresa; ¬†I can’t imagine that I’d dislike the book.

Best scarves in fandom.

5) Outside In (ATB Publishing, 2012) – More Dr. Who! ¬†Teresa’s essay, “The Interconnectedness of Tibetan and Gallifreyan Cultures. Sort of.” is about the Classic Who story, “Planet of the Spiders.”¬†

Wooo wooo wooooooo wooo woo woo wooo wooooo…It’s just not as effective typed out for some reason.

6) For anyone who reads Spanish, Teresa recently landed a gig with Al Dia. ¬†Here’s a link to her Shakira article (in English) that wasn’t included in the first link for some reason.

This is the face of the hand whose writing you will read.

7) For those who like to time travel, Teresa is also working on an eight-page comic for the anthology, MONSTROUS, edited by Mariah McCourt. ¬†Mariah McCourt also edited HEROIC, so you know MONSTROUS will be good. ¬†Please follow the MONSTROUS Project blog and check out the final product when it’s available.


Pimp It Mondays – Toward a Legal and Social Foundation for Gay Rights

So, remember last week when I talked about my friend, Gabriel, who wrote a book? ¬†Well, his husband, Kenneth, wrote a book too. ¬†It’s called Toward a Legal and Social Foundation for Gay Rights.

You can judge this book by its cover.  It's about what it says its about and the picture matches.  Yay truth!

You can judge this book by its cover. It’s about what it says it’s about and the picture matches. Yay truth!

When Gabriel and I reconnected a few years back, he introduced me to Kenneth. ¬†I was glad that Gabriel ended up with such a nice guy. ¬†Kenneth is one of those people who is way smarter about most everything in the world than I am, but isn’t pretentious about it at all. ¬†So when he starts talking about Smart People Stuff, I nod and agree because I honestly do agree, but have nothing to add because he already said everything I was thinking and then some. ¬†He’s an active member of the Elmwood Neighborhood Association in Dallas, TX, works with the local chapter of the SPCA, and is just a generally upstanding pillar of the community. ¬†To rejuvenate his spirit from all of his Save The World activities, he watches horror movies with Gabriel and posts pics of their cats on Facebook and Twitter. ¬†So download the free book, read it, and send the link to everyone that you know. ¬†Then go do something nice for your neighborhood and reward yourself by watching ¬†The NeverEnding Story.