Posted in art, Blogging, creativity, lifestyle, memory keeping, Planning and journaling

Top Tips for a Successful December Daily in 2022

This year, as I’m in a good place with my mental health for the first Christmas in a while, I’ve decided to do another December Daily challenge. I made a TN style journal quite a few years ago and I found it really enjoyable. The finished booklet looks great, and I have loved looking through it this month as a wonderful reminder of the things we did in December 2018. I can’t wait to get started on my 2022 album but I’m trying to make sure I’m well prepared and have everything I need to meet with success. I was amazed by the array of YouTube videos which showed people still working on their 2021 album in September of this year – some of them with pages and pages still to complete! With this in mind, I decided to write today’s blog post which focuses on my top tips to make sure that the process goes smoothly and ultimately, that the challenge is completely by the end of the holiday season (or at least by the end of January 2023).

What is December Daily?

The idea for December Daily was created by Ali Edwards who is a designer, blogger, workshop instructor and author based in the USA. She has a passion for memory keeping, capturing everyday life with photographs, words and decorative elements. On her website she has this to say about the project:

December Daily® is a December mini-album project that documents the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The simple goal is to capture the spirit of December via one story per day.

Since 2007 this project has become one of the highlights of my year and a beautiful community of memory keepers has come together to share their December stories with one another. It’s an awesome way to document and celebrate the season.

Tips for a successful and fun December Daily

As part of the preparation for my 2022 December Daily, I’ve watched lots of inspirational videos, read bits and pieces about the project online in various blogs, and collected a number of tips and ideas. As I explained earlier, I’ve seen quite a number of YouTube videos of people still working on their album for 2021, despite the fact that we’re getting close to December 2022. If I was in this situation, I would be worrying that I’m never going to get there and may have already abandoned the project part way through (and likely with feelings of guilt about all the time and money I’d spent). So, below are my top tips for success, enjoyment and a timely completion.

Start by watching YouTube videos and reading blog posts for inspiration

You already know the main idea behind December Daily but there are so many different ways to approach the project. Well before the start of the month (I began in October!), it’s a good idea to watch a range of videos and read blog posts for inspiration and composition ideas. You’ll find that some creatives prepare a mini album before they begin, leaving space for photos and journalling, whilst others use a 6×8 D rings binder and make up the pages as they go. As well as seeing different layouts, you will also find many variations in shape and sizes of journal. There are pros and cons to all of the different methods, layouts and album sizes, and of course, there is the cost to consider – the more supplies you want to use and therefore need to purchase, the more expense involved.

When watching videos and reading blog posts, I like to make notes and sketch the detail of layout ideas so I can remember my favourites at a later date and seek inspiration from them if I get stuck. I’ve also collected lots of ‘story’ and photo ideas on Pinterest and then copied out my favourites in my bullet journal to refer to throughout the month. I only chosen prompts which are relevant to me and my family situation.

Consider which supplies you want

Before you embark on the project, think about what you might need to complete it. Doing the above should have helped but you might also want to sit down and create a list in preparation for purchasing items. For example, I decided I wanted to do a 6×8 album with some of the pages inside page protectors and some just reinforced with card. I also love the idea of lots of different layouts and photo sizes so I took this into consideration too, again making notes about my ideas. I ordered my album and page protectors pretty early on as when I looked at available options, I noticed some of the ones I liked were almost sold out as they had been released last year. I chose an Echo Park white album with poinsettias, holly, berries, snowflakes and spruce stems on and I still absolutely love it!

6×8 Album from a collection by Echo Park

Other items to think about could be Christmassy papers in 12×12 size or smaller, glittery number stickers for labelling each day, journalling cards, gift tags, stickers, washi tapes, ephemera, ribbons, twine for attaching tags, sequins for shaker pockets, glue sticks and tape runners, maybe even a fuse tool for sealing shaker pockets – the possibilities are endless.

I also made sure I ordered my supplies from a company based in the UK as I wanted to make sure my items were received quickly with no chance of being stung by customs fees. There are lots of resources on Ali’s own website which look amazing, but they would end up being very costly! Although I’m prepared to spend quite a bit on the project, I did create a fixed budget, so I don’t overspend.

Choose your main items from one designer collection

If you want all of your pages to go together really well, it’s best to have a specific colour palette and style throughout. An easy way to achieve this is to choose items from a particular collection or at least from a particular designer. For example, this year, all of my supplies (ordered online using the Craftie Charlie website) are from Carta Bella’s ‘Home For Christmas’ and ‘Happy Christmas’ collections. I also purchased a few bits and pieces from Hobbycraft a few months ago but if these don’t go with my new supplies, I’ll use them for decorating my bullet journal instead.

December Daily Supplies from Craftie Charlie

Think about creating some foundation pages

Before December begins, you might want to consider making some foundation pages. These are pages which are done in advance to give yourself a head start on the project. For example, you might create a cover page which includes a title and the year 2022. You might also have a go at making particularly crafty stuff pages and elements such as shakers (containing sequins or glitter), sewn materials or multi-layer bits and pieces,

You could also create a page which explains your reason why. This is short piece of journalling which says why you’re doing the project and what you hope to get out of it. Is it a way of recording your little one’s first Christmas? Is it a chance for you to have more fun this December? Is it a way of winding down each evening by doing some journalling or is it more of a photographic challenge for you? Again, this is totally personal to you. You might want to watch videos or read about what it means to others, but you may have completely different ideas and reasoning.

This year, as one of her foundation pages, Ali Edwards created a table of contents, and this idea appeals to me too so I might give it a go. You can view her first set up video here. I’ve subscribed so I can watch all of her videos as and when she shares her creative process.

Journal your experiences and how you feel in the moment

I’m going to carry around a very small notebook in my bag wherever I go during the month of December so I can make notes about my experiences and how I feel. This means that even if I don’t do the page for that day straightaway, I’ll still have a record of the key details and my emotions at the time. You could also create a page on your phone using an app such as Notion if you would rather write things down electronically. Also, make sure you take lots of photos so you have plenty to choose from – let your family and friends know about the project so they can help with image ideas.

Above all, have fun!

December Daily is potentially a wonderful and fun memory keeping challenge to do, but it won’t be if you get yourself stressed and worried about getting everything perfect! Remember, there are no right or wrong ways to go about it – it should be completely personal to you and as simple or creative as you want. You may use lots of photos and decorative elements, or you may just do a series of simple journal entries.

The holiday season can be incredibly busy and it’s important to find time each day for rest and relaxation. This may mean working on your daily entry in the evening to help you wind down, but alternatively, it could mean that you make up most or all of your album after Christmas, when you are able to devote a few hours each day to some enjoyable and mindful creating, working at your own pace. If you want to spend most of next year finishing your creative project and this is what would make you happiest, go for it! Whatever you do, keep it fun!

Final words…

I hope you’ve found today’s post useful, and the tips have helped you with preparing yourself for doing your own December Daily project. Let me know if you’re going to give it a go or if you’re taking part in another challenge for the festive season e.g. Blogmas where you try out new and fun things on your blog related to Christmas. Although I’m not doing Blogmas this year, I’ll hopefully find the time to do a few blog posts next month as well – I might even share a few of my favourite December Daily pages as I go along too.

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

Setting up my Bullet Journal for November: Squashes theme

For this month, I took inspiration from seasonal eating and chose something we always enjoying trying lots of varieties of at this time of year: squashes! There are butternut squashes in the UK supermarkets pretty much all year round but once late September arrives, the mixed squashes begin to appear in the veg aisle, followed by huge pumpkins for Halloween, adding lots of autumnal colour and different shapes and sizes – some smooth and others with knobbly bits. This autumn, so far, we’ve sampled acorn, carnival, red kuri and sweet dumpling and we have two small delicata squashes lined up for this week. Each has its own unique flavour, some sweeter than others, and recommended uses include for soups, mash, risottos, tray bakes and stews.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

For this month’s spreads I used my Tombow brush pens, Pigma microns and white gel pen for the calendar, Tombow and Micron pens for the finance spread, a pencil for sketching all of the squashes and my watercolour paints to create the front cover. I used a photograph I found online to help me sketch out the cover image.

Front cover

For the front cover, I took a slightly less that A5 piece of smooth watercolour paper (hot pressed) and sketched the squashes based on the photograph. I then mixed my Winsor & Newton Cotmon watercolours to create the different shades I needed. I used the wet on dry technique and made sure that I worked in a way that meant that all adjacent squashes were left for dry before painting the next one. Rather than sticking in the watercolour paper, I scanned the image and added the November title before printing it off and gluing it onto the page. Watercolour paper is really thick and would make my notebook too bulky.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative
Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

Calendar pages

I used the usual 6×6 dot grid for my calendar, added the title using the bullet end of a brown Tombow and then sketched out lots of squashes using images that I found online. I then coloured them in using Tombows and Crayola supertips before outlining using a 0.1 nib Unipin fineliner. I also used a Gelly roll pen in 0.5 to add a few highlights. I filled in the spaces by adding leaves using the black pen again. I’m pretty pleased with how this page turned out but I wish I hadn’t drawn lines of the butternut squash – once it done, it’s done though!

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

Finances

I’ve been tracking my finances since August and it takes just a few minutes each week to update my tracker. I might identify outgoings by category this month e.g. clothing, books, hobbies, beauty products etc, rather than recording exactly what I bought. By the end of the month, this will be absolutely full!

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

Weekly plan 1

I’ve been trying out different weekly layouts for a while now and still haven’t decided which I prefer. This time I opted for vertical boxes with a little munchkin squash at the bottom. When I’m working at the university I need much more space to record events whereas on other days, I only need space for a few lines as all of my to-dos go in my running task list. I wanted to blur out the university information for privacy reasons and I found a great explanation online which was quick and easy! I love learning how to do new things on the computer.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my spreads for this month. Again, I’m late getting them finished but I had lots of life admin stuff to do last week and we were out all day on Halloween as it was my husband’s birthday (no getting dressed up or entertaining trick or treaters for us!). Also, the lighting has been pretty rubbish, so I’ve struggled to get decent photos taken of the pages. I should start making plans for December’s spreads now as during the month itself I’ll be busy doing journalling and photographs in the form of a December Daily album.

Posted in art, bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, Planning and journaling, watercolour painting

Setting up my Bullet Journal for October 2022: Moon phases theme

For my BuJo theme for next month, I took inspiration from an article I read in one of my magazines which focused on awareness of the lunar cycle and how you can use the various stages of the moon to transform your life and become more in touch with your spiritual side. I read with interest and wanted to learn more so I bought a book called Lunar Living by Kirstie Gallagher.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Every morning, I spend about 20-30 minutes reading, highlighting and learning about the magic of The Moon. Today, I’m going to share the spreads that I’ve created and when I’ve finished reading, I hope to create a series of blog posts which begin to touch on some of the many things I’ve learnt. For now, here’s what I’ve currently got set up for October.

My cover page

It’s been a while since I did any watercolour painting so I decided to have a go at doing the full Moon. I found several tutorials on YouTube and decided to follow one which involved using the wet-on-wet technique. This was my second attempt and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Watercolour full moon

As watercolour paper is really thick, I didn’t want to stick the actual painting into my bullet journal so I photocopied it and glued it in, inside a diagram of the moon cycle (which was inspired by Amanda Rach Lee’s October 2019 YouTube video). I added the quote ‘Stay wild, moon child’ which as well as referencing this month’s theme, basically means keep being you and doing what you’re doing.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Calendar pages

I originally planned to draw the changing moon for each day of the calendar and use black fineliner or white gel pen to add the dates. However, this wasn’t easy and in the end I just did black circles and use my white Gellyroll in 0.8 to add the numbers. I then added 4 of the 8 monthly phases of the moon to the appropriate boxes for reference. I’ve also downloaded an app which shows the % of visible moon each day on a calendar and contains information which explains when there is a new moon, full moon and also when the waxing (growing bigger) and waning (getting smaller) period is.

Moon Phase Calendar app

For this month I added a small notes section and a space for goals. I’ll then work on some actionable steps to achieve my goals throughout the month in keeping with the teachings of the lunar cycle. I printed a brush letter title for the page and used black paper to add some interest behind it. Mini letter stamps from Hobbycraft were used to create the days of the week headers and other titles. A mini star stamp and my own doodles added interest to the white spaces and I also used some moon and stars washi tape I got on Etsy a few weeks ago.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

Finances – income and outgoings

I’m continuing to keep track of my finances next month and I’m finding this set up really useful. I wanted to stick with mainly black and white for my theme but light grey Tombow pen was useful for these pages.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Reading Log

On this page I keep a record of fiction and non-fiction reading and also add a hearts rating for how much I enjoyed a novel or how interesting or helpful I found that particular non-fiction book.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Manifesting with the moon

On these pages I created a mini guide to each of the eight phases of the lunar cycle and how they can be used, according to Kirstie, ‘for self awareness, self care, nourishment, empowerment, manifestation and purpose’. I found it difficult to create circles that looked good, so in the end, I printed titles and mini circles, which I coloured in and cut out to stick in. Even getting the crescent moons right was a source of difficulty but I got there in the end and my perfectionist self was happy!

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative
Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Rolling weekly

This is a set up which I’ve recently started using. Basically, it’s a list of tasks for the week and you assign them to specific days using task bullets. It means you can keep your weekly to dos separate from your weekly event calendar and you can add tasks as and when you think of them and then choose a days or days to work on them whenever you like. If you want to know more about this system, I recommend checking out Plant Based Bride’s video on YouTube.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

Week 1 set up

These pages are pretty self-explanatory. A place to record events and appointments plus make notes about anything that I’m getting delivered or that I’m waiting on to arrive. I might also do a little bit of journalling at the bottom of each box if I have room left.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping it Creative

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my spreads and like the way they’ve turned out as much as I do. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them. I always get a warm feeling inside every time someone shares their thoughts or experiences on one of my posts.

Posted in art, bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, Hand lettering, Planning and journaling, watercolour painting

Setting up my Bullet Journal for September 2022: Coffee theme

Next month in my bullet journal, I decided to go for something I absolutely love, which is coffee. During the summer, I always try hard to keep myself well hydrated and as it’s been particularly hot this year, I’ve developed a liking for iced coffee along with all my usual cold drinks. I hope you enjoy looking at my spreads – I’m really pleased with how they turned out and although I did a coffee theme already back in November 2019, the pages are very different to the ones I did then.

My cover page

I wanted to have a go at doing some coffee rings on this page but I experimented with real brewed coffee and it soaked through the pages really badly. In the end, I created the effect using brown paint and although it doesn’t look the same, it worked okay and more importantly, didn’t soak through! I printed a range of small photographs of coffee related images I found on Google and Unsplash. However, despite using glossy photo paper designed for my printer, the darker colours smudged even after being left to dry for ages. So, in the end, I used just one photo in colours to match my theme but with no darker shades. Using just one collage image meant that you could see the rings that I spent lots of time on better than if I’d included more. The little coffee beans are stamps which are from a really cheap set I purchased from The Works. I used StazOn jet black ink which dries really quickly and doesn’t soak through the page.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Calendar pages

As usual, I drew out a large calendar over two pages so I could fit all of my appointments and coffee meet ups in! I also used some more stamps and added some drawings of my own too. The title is created using one of my new Pentel brush sign pens which I bought with some of my birthday money this month.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

September Finances

Last month, as part of my Monday Matters series on The Wheel Of Wellness, I wrote a post about Financial wellbeing in which I mentioned the benefits of keeping track of your incomings and outgoings so you can learn more about your spending. I thought I’d give it a go and have created a spread for the last three months. I try to fill it in on a weekly basis so that I can keep running totals more easily.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Final words…

That’s it for my September spreads so far. I’m thinking of creating weekly 2 page spreads when I start working with the university but I will draw those up as and when I get some hours. I’ll probably do some little coffee cup illustrations to decorate but will otherwise keep the layouts pretty basic using a horizontal set up. I might add them at a later date so watch this space!

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

My new slightly later than mid year BuJo and Setting up for August – birthday balloons theme

I’ve just finished my previous bullet journal and I’m excited to be moving in to a brand new notebook. This one is again from Notebook Therapy but the cover is white vegan leather with a beautiful butterfly on the front and gilded edges to the pages. I’m already wondering how long it will stay mark free for!

As we’re off on holiday shortly I’m going to keep this post picture heavy with minimal explanation. If you want to know anything about the spreads you can always ask in the comments.

Key and index pages

Future log

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Grid spacing cheat sheet

Vision board

I love how my vision board turned out. Some of the goals are ongoing from earlier in the year, some are new aspirations.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

August front cover

For my theme for August, I went for birthday balloons as my niece and our share our birthdays on the 3rd August. I completed my cover page on return from our holiday to Amsterdam. To make it quicker and easier, I used a tracing paper balloon shape to create the balloons but slightly altered them when I inked them in for a hand-drawn look. I used a 0.3 Pigma micron for each balloon and a 0.1 for the strings.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

August calendar pages

I haven’t managed to get chance to do the front cover page yet but it will feature lots of colourful balloons in the colour palette used for the calendar.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Reading log

A space for me to record books read in August and September and rate them out of 5 hearts.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

When did I last? spread

I found this really useful in my previous bullet journal, particularly for stuff that doesn’t get done that often so I’ve created a slightly more compact version.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Packing list

I do one of these every time we go away and refer back to previous ones each time. Obviously things depend on the season where we’re going and how long for but there are some items I take on each holiday. The lists help me feel more organised and mean I don’t forget things.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my new bullet journal and my spreads. I always find it exciting to start a new notebook but at the same time I worry about making mistakes (which I inevitably do!). However, then you have the opportunity to get creative with how you fix the problem(s). Wishing you all a wonderful August.