Posted in Bullet journaling, lifestyle, Planning and journaling

Monday Matters: How I’m keeping the pre-holiday excitement going despite our trip being postponed until next year

My husband and I were meant to be going to Vienna in Austria in August of this year but we’ve made the decision to postpone our trip until 2021 as the restrictions in place due to Coronavirus are likely to spoil our holiday somewhat. However, I refuse to get upset about it and instead I’m keeping myself excited and doing some extra preparation for when we eventually get there. In today’s Monday Matters post, I’m going to share some of the ways that I’m keeping the excitement going so that I’m still really looking forward to our trip. Hopefully, this will give you some ways to minimise the disappointment you may be feeling if your plans have been put on hold for the time being.

Checking out Pinterest

I’ve recently created a Pinterest board called ‘Vienna Trip‘ and pinned lots of ‘best things to do in Vienna’ ideas plus information about the city in general. This is great for keeping all the webpages in one place and it will help me to create planning spreads in my BuJo nearer the time.

All of my research in one place!

Vienna Photo collage Bullet Journal Spread

Whilst visiting various Vienna related pages on the web, I came across lots of stunning photographs of places within the city. I saved mini versions of these on my computer and have printed them off on photograph paper to create a two page collage for my bullet journal. I typed out the names of the places using MS Word and my favourite font of the moment which is Tox typewriter. I used Pritt stick to attach everything as the double sided tape that I have takes ages when you have lots of little fiddly bits and pieces to stick on.

Educating myself about the country

This is something I used to do with the children in my class when I was teaching. We would do a mini geography topic based on a particular place and learn everything we could about it including where it was in the World, the capital city and other popular tourist spots, the flag, traditions, weather, food etc. The information collected would then be used to create a fact file either electronically in our ICT lessons or in our topic books. I’ve been doing the same sort of research to create a spread in my bullet journal. I typed in search terms such as ‘Austria facts for kids’ etc into Google as I only wanted to know the basics and this made an easy starting point for further research. This website was a gold mine of information and has stuff on other countries too.

Before creating my BuJo spread, I set up an MS Word document in which to put random information about the country in no particular order. This helped me to decide on the sections and headers I would need for my bullet journal so I could make it as well organised and logical as possible.

Immersing myself virtually

There are some amazing views in Austria as I discovered during my research online. I’m not sure how much of the wonderful scenery we’ll get to see with us being in the city so I’ve chosen a stunning view for the desktop of my computer and I’ve stuck some beautiful photographs in my BuJo of some of the images I found. And according to Lee Bacon, head of digital at the BBC’s Natural History Unit, “Even viewing nature digitally has been scientifically proven to help peoples’ mental wellbeing” so yay for Google images!

Learning about the city

I usually do most of my reading about the city we are going to on the aeroplane on the way over or in a mad rush a few days before we travel. This time, I’m going to be super well prepared about the layout of Vienna and what to expect when we get there. This will help us make the most of our time as we will know how spaced out everything is and how we can travel around the place on foot or using different transport systems. So far I’ve done one page but I shall be continuing to add information each week until I have everything I want written down. By the time we go on our trip, I’ll have moved into a new BuJo but I can photocopy my pages to take with us.

I found a great site that has comprehensive descriptions on the various tourist attractions and also has a number of maps that you can download as PDFs. I printed one today on sticker paper, backed it onto some coloured paper and then laminated it. Now I just need to find somewhere to keep it until next year so we actually remember to take it with us.

What about a pre-trip virtual tour?

Whilst checking out a variety of websites, I came across this site which enables you to preview different sights around the city. It’s really useful for photographs of the different tourist activities and you can look on a map to see where things are located. I expect there are similar websites for other cities across the world too. I know Sunderland have created virtual tours of popular places across the city for people to view during lockdown.

Checking out the eateries using Happy Cow

My husband and I are both vegetarian and I’m particularly strict about what I eat too. I need to be sure that if I eat cheese, it doesn’t contain animal rennet and I also like my drinks to be veggie friendly too (vegan if possible). Therefore, when we go abroad, we choose to eat in vegetarian or vegan eateries, as unlike in the UK, cafes and restaurants don’t usually label their dishes with a V or Ve symbol. Before we go anywhere, we do extensive research on Happy Cow. I actually chose Vienna for our holiday as I know that vegetarians and vegans are well catered for there. I haven’t created a bullet journal spread of places to eat at yet but this is definitely something I intend to do nearer the time. The information will include if the café or restaurant is completely vegan or veggie with vegan options and I’ll also add the location and how far away it is from our hotel. As you can see, there are plenty of options for our stay!

Final thoughts

I know the lockdown and coronavirus have caused so much worry, disappointment, anxiety and general upset, but hopefully this post has given you some ideas on how to keep the pre-holiday or trip excitement going for a while longer. Obviously, re-arranging travel dates and accommodation present their own difficulties but once things have been sorted out, you can hopefully do some extra planning to ensure when you do eventually get away, you have the best time ever!

Posted in bullet journal, creativity, gardening, Planning and journaling

Setting up my bullet journal for July: Meadow flowers and grasses theme

This month, my husband and I went to a local place called Rainton Meadows which is a nature reserve run by Durham Wildlife Trust. It’s somewhere we go regularly for walks and to spot the variety of flora and fauna there. There’s so much to see, including a variety of water birds on the wetland areas, woodland birds from the new hide, ponies grazing on the grass, dragonflies around the water, along with butterflies and stunningly beautiful wild flowers in the meadows. For my July BuJo spreads, I decided to take inspiration from my visit to the reserve and the flowers and grasses we saw. I did want to take some my grassy and wild flower finds home with me so I could do some observational drawing but unfortunately, it started to rain heavily just before we left and we had to run back to the car. I had, however, taken plenty of photographs and was able to find line drawn images online to help me with my sketching. So, here are my pages for July. I hope you like them.

During lockdown, I’ve been addicted to watching plan with me videos on YouTube and I came across a vlogger who had done something similar to the idea I had in my head for my meadow and I took inspiration from her layout for my cover page. I had intended to have a go at creating a watercolour painting but I liked the effect of her designs with felt tip markers and fineliners so I decided to have a go.

For my calendar page, I stuck with a two-page spread as I like plenty of room to write down when I have published as blog post and any appointments or birthdays. I did a mini meadow in the bottom right hand corner and used one of the grass colours to for my boxes. The ‘make it work’ sticker is from a Happy Planner sticker booklet and I thought it finished that side of the page off nicely, whilst reminding me to keep going and find pleasure in life despite the restrictions due to Covid.

I kept my exercise trackers the same as June but changed the colours and added floral decoration to my workout chart. I found they worked really well for me last month and I was motivated to keep up with filling them in each morning and night.

Finally, I created a Garden Jobs for July double page spread so that I know what to focus on for the next month. I used the Gardener’s World and RHS websites for this as they both contain really helpful advice.

I would love to know what theme you have chosen for your bullet journal spreads for July. Let me know in the comments and add a link to your blog if you have one so that I can take a look.

Wishing you a wonderful July,

Posted in bullet journal, gardening, Planning and journaling

Useful gardening spread ideas for your bullet journal

As I was setting up my bullet journal spreads for June 2020, I decided that I would really like to begin to record key information about our garden including new plants, veggies we’re growing this year, plants which are thriving and which are not and why, plus sketches of our front and back spaces. I debated creating a separate garden journal but in the end I decided just to dedicate some pages each month within my planner so that everything about my life and our home and garden is all in one place. Before deciding on some layouts for my gardening spreads, I trawled Instagram, Pinterest and various websites for ideas. I found some really great spreads and took inspiration from them to set up my own.

I decided that over the next couple of months, I would like to create the following:

  • Jobs for each month – split into general tasks, flowering plant care, veggies and notes.
  • Information cards for new plants and our potted herbs
  • Photos of our actual plants in flower each month
  • Gardening quotes and motivationals
  • Wildlife spotted in the garden – with sketches
  • Plants to encourage wildlife
  • Birds in the garden – sketches and info
  • Aerial drawings of our different planting / garden areas

Garden tasks

There are lots of jobs for us to do in June but we’ve ticked off quite a few of them already. We certainly won’t be needing to water the garden or mow the lawn right now as it’s very wet out there because we’ve had rain showers for the last week or so. I intend to create one of these spreads each month using information collated from various websites.

I finished off the information cards for all of the plants that we’ve bought so far and also created some for our garden herbs. I’m hoping to get a few more different herbs soon so I’ve left some room for those on the spread too. The layout of these pages was inspired by the work of Emma at who shared her houseplant information cards which she produced in her BuJo (direct link here). Make sure you check out her website if you love looking at ideas for your own bullet journal.

Information cards for different plants

I showed the beginnings of this type of spread in my June plans but I have since added some more drawings and information. I’ve also created some cards for the herbs we have in our containers. Again, my inspiration for these layouts was from Emma over at The specific bullet journal spreads can be seen if you check out this link but I think all of her blog is well worth a look if you are like me and enjoy using a bullet journal and also love to get creative.

Garden related quotes and motivationals

I’ve recently written a blog post about the health benefits of gardening and the opportunity to practise mindfulness whilst you are spending time in your outdoor space. As part of the article, I included some quotes about gardening. I found some more quotes whilst I was perusing the internet so I decided to handwrite some of them in my BuJo. These were written with my lovely left handed Lamy fountain pen which flows beautifully!

Wildlife friendly planting

We’re really keen to encourage wildlife into our garden and already have a bird feeding station, two bird baths, a bug hotel which my husband made and a small pond. We also like to have lots of plants which attract bees and butterflies so I decided to create a spread of wildlife friendly shrubs and flowers. We have some of these already but I have red valerian on my wishlist for the front garden.

Bird’s Eye View’ of our garden areas

This is the first of my aerial view sketches of areas of our outside space. Just this one section took me a while to draw and add some colour and it’s not even to scale! I decided to use coloured pencils to shade around the outside of the shapes denoting our containers so that I could remember which of our pots we used for each of the plants. I’m going to aim to have all of my garden sections drawn out in my BuJo by the end of next month – let me know if you want to see the rest and I’ll do my best to take some decent photos when we have some brighter weather.

Wildlife spots

These pages are going to have little sketches of minibeasts which have been spotted in our garden and key information about them collected from a variety of sources. My spread is completely blank at the moment as I want to capture the bugs with my macro lens and at the moment, it’s too wet and drizzly to go out!

Birds in the garden

We get plenty of birds in our garden, particularly in the Springtime so I thought I’d create some pages in which to include sketches of our visitors and some information about them. I decided to do the actual drawings in my sketchbook and then transfer the pictures over to my bullet journal by scanning them on my scanner and then printing them off. This has lots of benefits – it means I can make several attempts at them if necessary, I can use decent quality drawing paper and I won’t end up getting pencil smudges in my BuJo. I’m yet to start my sketches yet but hope to be able to share some soon. As I’m typing a goldfinch has just landed on our sunflower seed feeder. It’s the first one I’ve actually seen visit our feeding station this year. We have two seed feeders containing niger seeds and a tiny seed mix specifically for finches and typically, it hasn’t gone for either of those – maybe collecting tiny seeds is too much effort in the pouring rain!

Do you keep a garden journal or do you just keep the little plant label information things from the pots like we’ve done previously? Have you got a dedicated notebook or do you prefer to produce spreads in your main planner? I would love to hear about the kinds of records you keep and if they’ve particularly helped you with your garden.

Happy gardening!

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

Setting up my bullet journal for June: Summer fruits theme

This month I’ve gone for a bright and colourful Summer fruits theme and have included my own little fruit watercolour paintings which I scanned in and worked on using Photoshop on my computer and then turned them in to little stickers. I’ve not totally got to grips with all of the different things you can do on this program but I followed a great little tutorial which I’ll share below.

For my front cover, I created five different fruits, namely papaya, orange, kiwi, cherries and pineapple. I started by sketching them with pencil and then when I was happy with how they looked, I went over the outline and some details using a 0.2 UniPin fineliner. I then mixed colours from my Daler Rowney travel set and used a tiny brush to paint them. Each one is less than 4cm so I really took my time to ensure accuracy and it was a great mindful watercolouring activity. After scanning the paintings, I edited the background to make it white and removed some minor blemishes. Check out this great tutorial on YouTube for how to do this.

For my month at a glance I used the same kind of layout as usual with 6×6 dot boxes and again made my own stickers from some fruity artwork. I successfully covered up part of the date using some paper washi style stickers as I accidently wrote the beginning of the year as 200 instead of 2020. I did the spread late in the evening and think I was overly tired and that’s when I tend to make lots of mistakes. I also messed up on the next page too with is why I have a red paper background to the words ‘exercise tracker’.

As you can see, there’s a distinct lack of things happening in June due to the continuation of lockdown restrictions! My husband and I have started to go out to places but we tend to go on a whim rather than pre-planning.

I’m continuing to monitor my workouts in June and have just made a few small modifications and changed the colour scheme to fit with the Summer fruits theme. I’ve decided to make the steps tracker larger and have changed the scale on the graph to make it easier to fill in.

Finally, this month I’ve decided to make a record of the plants we’ve bought at the garden centre this year and include key information from each of the labels that came in the pots. I’ve also added a small drawing and coloured it in for each entry so that I’m also practising my drawing skills. The art work isn’t perfect but I’m getting better the more I give sketching a go. The layout of the spread is inspired by Emma at who did something similar for her houseplants a few years ago in her bullet journal.

That’s all my spreads for this month. I have more plants to add to my record but won’t get them drawn until later on. If you would like to see more of my plant information, let me know and I’ll add them on to my BuJo set up for July.

Take care and stay safe everyone,

Posted in Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions, watercolour painting

Setting up my bullet journal for May: Succulents theme

Earlier this month, whilst picking up some watercolouring supplies from The Range, I found a Dovecraft sticker book full of cacti and other succulents plus little plant related phrases. I decided these would be perfect for decorating my May bullet journal quickly and easily.

I’ve set up my spreads over the last few days and thought I’d share them with you. I’ve kept it quite minimal with a cover, monthly overview on two pages and a double page fitness tracker which is something I wish I’d started last month as I’ve been working out in different ways almost every day.

For the cover page, I decided to get out my watercolour paints and create my own image. I searched Google for step by step succulents and came across an amazingly simple tutorial from Dear Ann Art who can be found on Instagram @dearannart I also learned, after I’d followed the step-by-step that she has her own YouTube channel jam packed with tutorials and even her own book which I’m definitely adding to my wishlist.

This is a close up of my version of the cactus and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

After painting on cold press watercolour paper, I photocopied the image onto regular printer paper and added May in brush lettering. I then trimmed it down and placed it in my bullet journal using double sided tape.

For the calendar page, I stuck to my usual format and decorated with lots of the stickers. I think it looks really bright and cheerful.

On the exercise tracker, I intend to do a bar chart showing my daily steps count as recorded on my FitBit. I’ve been ensure I do at least a 30 minute walk each day and also get lots of steps on doing my aerobics routine.

On the calendar part of the tracker, I intend to record each time I do a yoga routine, my daily LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) walk and my aerobic workout. I’ve been following an old beginner’s routine from Instructor Live which I found for free on the NHS website.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my spreads for this month. I haven’t included any weekly plans because I don’t actually make any in advance as I prefer to create daily plans which I sit down to make in the evening or first thing in the morning after breakfast.

Have you done your bullet Journal spreads for next month yet? Have you picked a theme? Let me know in the comments and include a link and I’ll go check it out.