Posted in art, bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, lifestyle, Planning and journaling

Setting up my Bullet Journal for June 2022: Summer Fruits theme

Hi all, hope you are well. Today I’m going to share my bullet journal spreads for June. I’ve chosen a theme that I did a couple of years previously in 2020, but this time, I’ve hand drawn all of the fruits straight into my notebook, rather than create stickers from my own illustrations. I hope you enjoy looking at my pages for this month.

Front cover

For my front cover I wrote the ‘hello June’ title in the centre of the page and then added a range of fruits in different colours. Lightly sketched pencil drawings were filled with Tombow ATB brush pens and Crayola Supertips, then outlined using a Pigma Micron Fineliner in 01. Detail was added using the same fineliner and a sepia 0.5 UniPin for the decoration on the pineapple.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Positive message for the month

On the previous page I created a TV series spread but I made a huge mistake with the title, so I covered it over by sticking on a simple message I printed from a website. Unfortunately I can’t credit the person who created it as I’m unable to find it online again and I didn’t save it to my computer!

Monthly Calendar Pages

My calendar pages are my usual six by six dot boxes. I find that there’s just enough space for me to record a couple of events or gym bookings each day. As you can see from the above pages, I made a bit of a mess with the banana so this time I printed one from Google images and traced it! I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s a big improvement.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative Blog

TV series record

This is a page that I started doing from last year. It’s a simple record of all of the different TV series we’ve watched, whether it’s a one off or part of a number of seasons and the particular genre. It’s great for referring back to so we can see all of the great stuff we’ve watched. We can also recommend series to family and friends.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Activity Tracker

I really enjoyed keeping a record of my walks and workouts last month so I’ve made a similar tracker for June. The only thing I’ve changed are the motivational messages and quote.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Final thoughts

I’m really pleased with how my pages for this month turned out and they’re certainly nice and colourful. Hopefully in the future, I’ll continue to be brave with drawing things and brush lettering straight into my notebook without practicing on paper first. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of June.

Posted in Bullet journaling, goal setting, Health and Nutrition, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Monday Matters: A mini guide to keeping a food journal to help with diet and weight loss

Earlier this month, I talked about how I might start a food journal to help me track my eating and drinking. Before starting, I researched the benefits of this practice and spent time learning about what I should include. A number of studies have shown that people who keep a food journal or diary are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off. According to my reading, the simple act of recording everything that you eat and drink each day can help you consume less calories and make healthier choices which aids weight loss.

What are the benefits of keeping a food journal?

Writing down what you eat and drink and how you feel at regular points during the day can help in a number of ways including:

  • Increased awareness of what you eat
  • Shows you how much you eat and drink in a typical day
  • Highlights reasons why you eat and drink e.g. boredom, stress, mid-afternoon slump, feeling sad etc
  • Begin to see if you’re eating too little or too much
  • Able to roughly track your calorie consumption and make comparisons between this and calories burnt each day
  • Able to check hydration levels – some people mistake thirst for hunger
  • Increased mindfulness i.e. awareness of eating, drinking and any patterns
  • Able to see where you could tweak your diet to make it more healthy and balanced

What do I need to start a food journal?

As many of you will know, I prefer pen and paper methods so I decided to use my bullet journal to record everything. I kept it simple with a title and a bit of washi tape and I used double page spreads to give me plenty of writing room. Any notebook and pen will do but it’s helpful if it’s something you can take out with you in your bag so you can record on the go – recording everything at the end of a long and busy day is quite an onerous task!

If you prefer to keep digital records you could create journalling pages in Notion or MS Word on your phone or tablet. You could also set up a simple spreadsheet to include date, time, foodstuff and how you’re feeling. Another option is to use an app like My Fitness Pal which can help you measure calorie consumption – beware though that it will keep trying to persuade you to sign up for a free trial or pay a monthly fee! I tried logging things on My Fitness Pal to see if I liked it and I found it really quick and easy. You can scan the barcode on your food packets and it shows the calorie content. You can also see and record other nutritional information but some details are only accessible on the paid for premium version.

Tips for getting the most out of your food journal

  • Log absolutely everything you eat and drink even if it’s something small or very low in calories e.g. one biscuit, a square of chocolate or a single boiled sweet. In doing this, you’ll have a full picture of your current diet.
  • When you log a food or drink, consider why you are eating and how you’re feeling e.g. a glass of wine to wind down after a long and busy day, feeling shattered etc.
  • Make sure you record how specific foods are cooked e.g. boiled, fried, roasted, steamed etc.
  • Include information about dressings, sauces and toppings and the amount e.g. 2 tsps of French dressing on salad.
  • Think about adding information about where you’re eating / drinking and who you are eating with e.g. at the dining table with family, at my desk, in XX restaurant, in a cafĂ© with my partner etc.
  • Jot down what you are doing at the time e.g. watching TV, at the computer, having a catch up with a friend etc.
  • Be really specific about the type of drinks e.g. half a pint of beer, caramel macchiato, small mug, 200ml of orange juice etc.
  • Don’t forget to include alcoholic beverages and the amount e.g. one shot glass of vodka with 100ml of coke etc.
  • Think about logging the calories of meals at a restaurant if this information is on the menu, or check out the packaging of foodstuffs and drinks consumed at home.
  • Write down if you get any cravings and if you gave in to them or distracted yourself with an activity.
  • Note down how hungry you are when you eat.
  • Record your food and drink as soon as possible after eating/drinking so you don’t forget things. If you use a notebook or paper and don’t want to take it out with you, try making a quick note on your phone to transfer to your journal when you get home.

Analysing your food and drink log

Once you’ve recorded your food and drink for 5 days or so, consider what it tells you. So, for example:

  • Am I getting my five portions of fruit and veg each day?
  • How healthy is my diet overall?
  • Does my diet include wholegrains?
  • Does my mood affect my eating and drinking habits?
  • How balanced is my diet – am I eating too much or too little of something?
  • Do I have snacks and how healthy are they?
  • Am I paying full attention when I eat or am I often busy doing something else? (how mindful am I?)
  • Which areas of my diet could be improved upon? e.g. I could eat more vegetables, I could cut down on takeaways and try to do more cooking from scratch, I could eat a piece of fruit as a snack instead of a chocolate bar in the afternoon etc.

Setting some healthy eating goals

When you’ve identified areas for improvement, you could have a go at setting a couple of healthy eating goals for yourself. I recommend using the SMART framework for this so you can measure your progress easily. So, for example, when I was depressed, I struggled to eat breakfast and got into the habit of having a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes each morning as they’re easy to eat. When I started to feel better, I continued to eat this cereal as it had become a habit and one which I enjoyed. My husband suggested I try eating a healthier cereal every other day so I’m now having a portion of Shreddies four days a week. Here’s how it looks using the SMART goal system:

S = specific. Eat a wholegrain cereal every other day – a portion of Shreddies (or possibly Weetabix as an even better alternative according to someone in the know about healthy eating)

M = measurable. Does my food journal show that I’m doing this consistently?

A = achievable. Start small, do it every other day for the time being. Eating wholegrain cereal every day will make it a lot harder and I might start craving the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and give up!

R = relevant. Does it fit with what I want in my life? Yes, I want to break the habit of eating a sugary cereal each day. I also want to tweak my diet to make it more healthy.

T = timely. Do the above consistently for two weeks to meet the initial goal and then increase to wholegrain cereal 5 days + a week.

Other goals include breaking the habit of having a packet of sweets every Friday / Saturday and finding alternative and less calorific desserts for during the week. I intend to work towards a couple of goals at a time so that I don’t feel that I’m denying myself too much.

Final words…

Although keeping a food and drink journal can be really helpful for improving your diet and eating more healthily, I wouldn’t recommend keeping records in the long term as it can be a time consuming habit to continue and you don’t want to feel like it’s a huge chore with no benefit. After 3 or 4 days, you should start to see patterns and be able to identify a few tweaks you could make to your diet to aid weight loss and ensure better balance between the different food groups and recommended consumption of foods in the different groups such as fruit and vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. For further information about your daily eating and drinking habits, you might want to consider logging things for a couple of weeks and setting yourself some mini goals to work towards.

I had a meeting this week with one of the weight management team ladies and she suggested some ideas for tweaking my diet to increase my success. She also mentioned that she didn’t advocate calorie counting or weighing food in the long term, instead she suggested educating myself about different foods and drinks using the traffic light system on packets and developing better understanding about portion size.

Nutritional information on the Shreddies packet

Let me know in the comments if keeping a food and drink log is something you’ve done in the past, considered doing or something you definitely want to try. If you’ve given it a go, I would love to hear about your experiences whether positive or negative.

In the end, I decided that I actually prefer using the My Fitness Pal app for recording as it’s much quicker than writing it all down. I’m still learning how to use all the features but so far I’ve managed to sync my Fitbit with the app and I’ve found that you can search for recipes you found online and retrieve the nutritional information (although you can’t include any changes you made to the ingredients.

Screenshot of my diary on My Fitness Pal

Thank you for reading,

Posted in art, bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, fitness, lifestyle, Planning and journaling

Setting up my Bullet Journal for May: Geum flower theme

It’s the 1st of May and yesterday I finished creating my main spreads for the month in my bullet journal. Again, I decided to take inspiration from our garden and spent some time sitting with a coffee in the sunshine contemplating and idea creating. There’s lots of shades of green outside and we have a plethora of tulips in full bloom, but the flowers which caught my eye the most were the pretty and delicate geums. We have two varieties, one a semi double-headed variety in bright red called Mrs J Bradshaw and the other, a pretty orange called Totally Tangerine. I took photos of both with my new Samsung phone and was impressed with the quality of the camera. I loved the different shades of the second and decided to have a go at sketching a flower stem for my front cover. From there, I decided to create more simple flowers to use for my other pages. I hope you like my layouts and feel inspired to have a go at a floral theme in the future.

‘Totally Tangerine’ Geum looking beautiful in our garden

Front cover

Using the above photograph to help me, I sketched out the stem and flower head and added a bud and another stem. It took me a long while to get the sizing right as I needed the flower to be the focal point. I found drawing the leaves to be the most difficult bit and I’m not entirely happy with them but I eventually left them alone after erasing a few times too many! With the sketching complete, I inked in the flower using a 0.2 Pigma Micron in black. I debated whether to use watercolour paint or pencils to add the colour and in the end, I trialled both by photocopying the image onto watercolour paper and thick printer paper. The only problem was, printer ink isn’t waterproof like my Pigma pen ink so it bled into the orange watercolour paint – I thought it was such a good idea too!

May 2022 front cover Geum theme

Calendar pages / Month at a glance

The calendar layout is my usual 6×6 dot boxes drawn using a Pigma Micron in 03 with the numbers done using a Pilot V5 Hi-Techpoint 0.5 pen in black. The brush letter May was created using a mid-green Faber-Castell Pitt Artist brush pen which I found easier to use than the Tombow ABT for this size lettering. I have no idea where I got the washi tape from but it was a great purchase as it goes with just about everything!

For the flowers, I changed to a face on view of the heads which was much simpler to draw in a larger number to fill the spaces around the calendar. My only real disappointment with these pages was due to way the spine was glued as it created an ugly crease on my title spread which spoiled the look somewhat. So far I’ve been happy with my dot grid notebook from Notebook Therapy but just a few pages do not lay flat without super annoying creasing.

May 2022 month at a glance

Fitness – Activity Tracker

Last month, I drew up a spread which documented the kinds of workouts I was doing each day. I mentioned then, that in the future I might like to record my workout times so I can see how many active minutes I’m cramming in each day. I did a quick search on Google and discovered some simple, colourful and helpful spreads on this blog. I adapted one of them by making a double page layout with my own exercise types and a larger scale for the minutes of exercise (in April, my highest total was 148 minutes in one day but I’m going to add a plus sign on the end if I go over 130). The extra space also meant that I could include a motivational saying at the bottom. Although this one is quite American in its choice of words (the ‘cute’ bit), it’s particularly pertinent as, by the time I’ve finished a gym session or a cardio class, my face is all red and sweaty and my hair has become a frizzy mess – not a good look!

Fitness tracker / workout record

By the end of the month, I’ll be able to see how I spent my active time in a bright and colourful visual representation of all of my workouts. I’ll also be able to see how regularly I’m doing each form of exercise.

Final words…

That’s all of my initial spreads for the month of May – just 3 at the moment but I’m contemplated adding a weekly food diary so I can assess my eating as well as how active I’ve been each day. This will probably be just a very simple record of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks so it’s not really something to share.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my pages for May. I’m looking forward to seeing other Bujo themes and have already watched quite a few plan with me videos on YouTube (I like to cast them to the TV screen in our living room so that I get a nice big view). Let me know in the comments if you have any special plans for this month or if you are working on something particular – I love to hear what everyone is up to!

Posted in bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, fitness, goal setting, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Setting up my Bullet Journal for April: Honey Bee Theme

Hi all, I hope you’re doing really well and enjoying the Springtime with its (slightly) warmer weather, bright and cheerful daffodil displays on verges and in gardens, morning bird song and emerging butterflies and bees appreciating the sight of the first flowers. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my bullet journal pages for April in which I had great fun creating bright and colourful bee themed spreads. I’ve seen quite a few insects over the last few weeks including ladybirds, butterflies and bees and I love to watch them exploring our garden so this is where my inspiration came from for the upcoming month. I’m really pleased with how the pages turned out and I hope you enjoy looking at them too. I’ve provided minimal explanation but if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Cover page

Now I’m feeling better, I’ve gone back to creating cover pages for each month and decorating all of the spreads. This one uses two different yellow colours of Tombow dual tip pens (055 and 985) and a Crayola Supertip. The hexagons were drawn using a Helix stencil so it didn’t take me too long to do lots and colour them in. As I’m not too great at drawing, I went for a cute cartoon style bee!

Monthly Calendar

This is my usual layout with 6×6 boxes which leaves plenty of space for decor around the edges. I also added some flowers to go with the bees and honeycomb, filling in a few bits of white space nicely.

Workout log

As one of my current goals is to work on toning by body, I decided to keep a record of all of my different workouts. At the moment, I’m doing cardio at the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, plus one session a week using the strength and muscle toning weight machines. I’m also continuing to do yoga five days a week and have put myself on the waiting list for Iyengar yoga and Pilates at the wellness centre (it’s proving to be really hard to get onto the classes as they’re so popular).

I’ve created a small calendar spread which is big enough to record multiple workouts per day. I’m going to add a coloured dot each time I do a particular workout. In May, I might also track the time I spent doing each activity but for now I’m just going to log each kind of exercise I do.

Body Tracker

Earlier this week, I mentioned I was using the SMART goal framework, to help me come up with detailed plans of my current goals. As well as measuring my weight to see how many pounds I’ve lost each month, I’m also going to take my body measurements regularly so I can see progress in this area too.

Missing spreads

I’ve chosen not to include a gratitude log and yoga session tracker for April as they’re time consuming to set up and I want to focus on my gym workouts and improving my fitness levels. When I’m well (not too high and not feeling low), I tend to spend time reflecting on what I’m grateful for anyway so I figured it’s okay to take a little break from writing things down. Also, I can see which online yoga workouts I’ve done recently by checking my YouTube history. It won’t be as easy to see the variety of sessions, to make sure they’re well balanced, but it will still give me some idea of what I’ve done. I can always put them back in place in May if I miss filling them in.

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my BuJo spreads for April. They’re certainly bright and colourful and better to look at than today’s grey skies and snow showers! Let me know in the comments what theme you’ve chosen for the upcoming month and if you’ve shared your pages on your blog, I’ll be sure to check them out.

Posted in bullet journal, Bullet journaling, lifestyle, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Monday Matters: A beginner’s guide to Vision boards and how to create one in your Bullet Journal

When I start to feel better after a period of depression and anxiety, I tend to have lots of ideas for how I want my life to be now and what I want for my future. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, stressed and potentially causing a hypomanic episode (due to having bipolar disorder), I like to spend time taking a step back, really thinking about what I want for myself and asking myself some big questions. After reflecting, I like to create a visual reminder in the form of a vision board. In today’s Monday Matters I thought I’d present a beginner’s guide to vision boards and show you how I design and create mine in my bullet journal so that you can make one too.

What is a vision board?

A vision board is a collage of images and words which represent your current wishes and goals. It is used as a reminder of what you hope to achieve and aims to provide motivation and inspiration. Vision boards can be paper based or digital. They can contain as many words and images as you want but I find they work best if they’re relatively simple as then you are only working towards a small number of goals. Whereas a digital vision board works best if it fits onto your computer screen, a paper based vision board can be any size of your choosing. I created a large A1 sized board for my business and have the images and words pasted onto a black piece of card which is inside a clip frame. The vision board is on the wall in my craft room and I love looking at it regularly. My personal vision boards are usually created in my bullet journal on a double page spread and contain words and images from magazines as well as printouts from online resources like Pinterest. Click here to see an example of one I created during lockdown.

Your vision board can have a particular theme e.g. health and wellbeing, your word of the year etc, or it can be more general and include personal and/or professional related goals. Whichever style you choose, you need to spend some time reflecting on what you want your life to be like now and what you hope your life to look like in the future.

Some key questions to ask yourself:

  • What is most important to me in my life right now? (e.g. happiness, good health, work-life balance etc)
  • What are my core values? (e.g. family, creativity, self confidence, education, happiness, growth, self awareness etc)
  • What did I used to do in the past that I would like to start doing again now? (e.g. have lots of fun, meet friends for coffee, go to the gym, spend quality time with family etc)
  • What experiences would I like to have in the future? (travel the world, start a family, learn to swim, attend an art course etc)
  • What are my current interests or hobbies? (e.g. sewing, bullet journalling, watercolour painting, hiking, getting fit, baking etc)
  • Do I currently spend plenty of time engaging in things I enjoy? (e.g. I don’t feel I dedicate enough time to having fun, I always make time for my hobbies and interests etc)
  • What bad habits do I want to break? (drinking too much alcohol, going to bed late, eating unhealthy snacks, too many takeaways, spending too much time on social media etc)
  • What good habits do I want to instill? (e.g. exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week, drink more water, eat more fruit and vegetables, starting a gratitude practice, meditating each morning, read one self help book each month etc)
  • What little things do I want to put in place right now? (e.g. daily gratitude, healthy breakfast, in bed by 10.30pm etc)
  • What are my big dreams for the future? (e.g. to write a book, to be a minimalist, to own a 3 bedroom home, to move to Australia, to travel the world, to have a family etc)
  • What can I do now to help me work towards my dreams / goals?
  • How will I feel when I achieve my goals / dreams? (proud, happy, confident, calm, successful etc)

How do vision boards work?

Vision boards only work if you do! By this, I mean that choosing representational images and words to describe your desires, goals and dreams is not enough to achieve them. You also need to identify steps to take to work towards what you want and create habits which will help you (or break habits which are not helpful). A vision board provides a useful visual reminder and, when looked at on a daily basis, can be used as a prompt to spend time evaluating and reflecting on your progress towards your specific goals and wishes, looking at any obstacles that have come up and how you will remedy problems. It can also help to motivate you into action – especially if the images and words you have chosen are exactly what you desire and spark great attraction.

What I find useful is to accompany my vision board with a page of notes. I write down what each image represents and also record what I need to do or not do to work towards achieving my vision. I can then move on to identify the baby steps I need to take to have the best chance of achieving my goals. Reflecting on your progress regularly and setting new small goals is also really important if you vision board is to have the best chance of working.

Designing your vision board

The design of your vision board should suit you and your lifestyle. If you prefer to work digitally, you could create a vision board to display on the desktop of your computer or even create a vision board on Pinterest using attractive images and motivational sayings and quotes. If you like to get creative, you might do a cut and paste from your favourite magazines – try flicking through them and see what resonates with you. You can even cut out individual letters or words to put together to make motivational phrases (a bit like a ransom note but full of positivity instead!). Use pictures which sum up exactly what you want, for example an image of someone who is smiling can represent wanting to feel happier in life, a big house in the countryside can show that you would love to live in a more rural location, a passport and pictures of key locations in a Paris e.g. The Eiffel tower and a cruise boat on the River Seine, would be good to remind you that you really want to visit the capital of France.

I like to create a double page spread in my bullet journal as this is something I look at multiple times a day and use morning and night. You can read about the process of setting up my vision board below.

Creating a vision board in your bullet journal

Image selection I find the best way to create my vision board in my bullet journal is to use photographs which are available online. If you use images from magazines, they may be vastly different in size. If you search chosen key words online you can spend time looking through the different pictures and find one which is suitable for what you want and then resize it to fit (I make the width of my images around 4cm – 6cm). I placed the photos into a document on MS Publisher which was 4x6in and then printed the pages out on photo paper of the same size using my Canon printer.

After that, I cut them out using my small Fiskars guillotine and backed them on mid pink coloured paper to make them stand out. The backing of the photos was rather time consuming, especially as you really need to use double sided tape for photograph paper. The process could be speeded up using a roller tape but if you’re limited for time, you could just stick the images straight in to you BuJo. I left a tiny border of pink as I wanted the photos to take centre stage.

Motivational words Again, I create the words myself in a MS Publisher document rather than looking through magazines so I can play around with the sizing, font and specific word classes e.g. verb, adjective, noun etc. I also chose to print them on coloured paper so that they stood out from the white paper just like my photos. It’s up to you how you produce your words – you could create stickers, stamp them onto paper, cut them out and stick them in or hand letter them for example.

Playing around with placement Once you’ve got your images and words ready, it’s time to try out different placements until you’re happy with how they’re arranged. It’s a good idea to experiment with different layouts and then take a quick photo of your double page spread each time so you can always revert back to a previous arrangement. Once your happy you can paste everything in. You might choose to add some decorative elements to any spaces, for example, if you’re creating your vision board for the Springtime, you might add flowers, hearts in Spring colours, butterflies, motivational words etc. This could be in the form of stickers and ephemera like mine or, if you’re good at drawing, you could create something using spring coloured felt tip pens or coloured pencils.

My finished vision board in my bullet journal

Final words…

I hope today’s blog post has inspired you to create your own vision board as a motivational tool for working towards your goals and dreams. Remember that vision boards are a great way for clearly identifying what you want for yourself now and in the future but as well as creating this attractive and motivational tool, you also need to identify progressive steps going forward and also dedicate time to work on making your hopes a reality.

Do you currently use a vision board or is it something you would like to have a go at creating? What would be the most prominent image or idea on your board? Let me know in the comments below.

With love and best wishes,