watercolor | paperclips | photos | page markers | ephemera | charms
Last October, I purchased a new traveler’s notebook from Chic Sparrow. It’s a beauty, but I bought it in a pocket size (3.5″ by 5.5″) because I wanted something less heavy for my EDC (every day carry). I filled it up with notebooks – both purchased and handmade – but often felt myself wanting to go back to the larger more creative-feeling standard (4.5″ by 8.25″) size.
For Christmas, I asked for monthly planner notebooks made by Moleskine as well as some Field Notes journals to fill it up and get me inspired, and started doing research on how to make it the most functional for me. After falling through the black hole of set up videos on YouTube, I found that a lot of people have cute and functional accessories that help them get the very most out of their notebook regardless of what they use it for!
After ample research, here are my favorite accessories. Ones with * denote the ones that I currently use, all others are things I’ve tried previously or are on the to-buy list!
- Field Notes* – these notebooks have quickly become my favorite I’ve used. The paper is good quality and I love that their website has lots of cover design options. I’ve seen some TN folks cover the front with scrapbooking paper, which always works as well. These have 48 pages and don’t allow much bleed through on regular pens.
- Moleskine* – these notebooks are a quick go-to that are ALWAYS available to me at local stores such as Target and Barnes and Noble. They come in a three pack and the pocket size is the one that fits the pocket sized TN. When I used a regular size or the “narrow” I bought the large cahiers and trimmed the edges so they would fit. These are a great option but I find that there is often bleed through with my favorite inky pens.
- Tomoe River Insert* – I bought my Tomoe River insert through Chic Sparrow when I purchased the notebook cover. The paper is absolutely delicious, especially with watercolors, but it bothers me that I can’t use ephemera without worrying that I’ll rip the page. These notebooks are also twice as expensive (if not more) than the ones listed above and I found myself being hesitant to write in it because of the price.
- Yellow Paper House – I am a HUGE fan of the inserts that YPH produces. The variety is unparalleled and I’ve used many different ones from the coloring book to the mixed media insert. I can’t say enough good things! The downside and why I’m not using them right now, is simply the price since I use about one per month.
- DIY Notebooks* – I used the video linked to create some of my own inserts. I went through all of etsy one day looking for an editorial calendar insert and ended up making my own. I thought it was going to be pretty tough, but you should be fine as long as you have access to word and a printer. I generally print on copy paper (because the inserts I created are only meant to last a month) and use a stronger card stock for the cover.
- Dashboard* – I bought this recently to add to my field notes/pocket size and I’m a huge fan. Basically this is just a clear plastic cover that you can slide pictures/scrapbooking paper into. I like to put it around my most used notebooks to protect them and give homemade ones a little more stability.
- Felt Paperclips – Although I don’t own any of these, I absolutely LOVE them and have seen them recommended a lot.
- Adhesive Card Pocket* – I purchased this recently but haven’t decided what part of the notebook I’m going to attach it to. I’ve see it done onto the inside of the leather and on inserts. This is particularly great if your TN doubles as your wallet.
- PVC Pouch – I purchased one of these for my narrow sized traveler’s notebook and it was a game changer. I didn’t have a pen loop, but because of the size, I was able to zip a thin pen right in the pouch. Many also come with card slots as an option.
- Folders – You can either check out all of the options for pre-made ones or you can did what I did and use a tutorial to make your own.
- Charms* – there are a TON of planner charms on the internet, but I purchased one from Hobby Lobby. The clip at the top looked super awkward, so I removed it by separating the jump rings using a pair of needle-nose pliers. There are a ton of ways you can make your own, but I liked all of the charms, so why not stick with something simple and use a 40% off coupon while I was at it!
- Washi Tape* – Washi tape is my favorite thing for just about every project. Sometimes I use it for tip ins and sometimes I just use it for decoration. Linked is my current fave.
- Watercolors* – As I mentioned above, I love using watercolors and tend to use them the most behind general writing to make the pages pretty.
- Photos – This probably goes without saying.
- Ball Point – I’m the most boring person ever for listing a ball point pen as my favorite. I particularly like this one because it has four ink colors in one pen and I really like to write in red at work. Someone the other day told me that they hadn’t seen a multi-ink pen since 1st grade. I felt so cool.
- Rolling Ball – I’ve been using this pen in the fine and extra fine point since college. I love the way it writes and always get compliments when people borrow these.
- Fountain Pen – I purchased this about a year ago and am absolutely obsessed with it. This pen with the Tomoe river paper is the best combo. If you have one of these or are considering buying one, I would definitely look at the care instructions. I went way too long before cleaning mine which resulted in a super mess.
Have a favorite accessory or notebook that I don’t know about? Let me know, I’m always looking to add to my collection!
It took me a while, but I finally think I found a perfect (and inexpensive) on-the-go travel case for my journaling supplies. I had been on the hunt for a while, trying out different pencil cases and bags but none of them seemed to be a good fit for what I was looking for – big enough for my supplies but small enough to carry everyday. Last year, when we went to Chicago, I took a deep pencil case, trying to fit all of my necessary supplies and it turned out to be quite a hassle, which resulted in me dumping out the contents any time I needed to use something. Fast forward to this year, I was looking around on pinterest when I found myself clicking through to this Travel Organizer. I am under the impression that it’s intended to be used to carry a passport and boarding documents for trips, but it seemed to be perfect for a couple packs of stickers and photos. I bought, filled it, and manage to carry it with me almost every day. This is about the same size as my Chic Sparrow “Narrow” (which also happens to be the standard midori size), so carrying the two together works brilliantly. This also zips, keeping all the junk contained perfectly inside.
Here’s what I carry:
Left Side (from top to bottom):
- Peerless Watercolors – I bought a pallette of Peerless watercolors on Etsy, but it looks like they have all been taken down due to copyright laws. Here is a tutorial on how you could make your own.
- Word Stickers – that I downloaded from this free printable
- Random Alpha Stickers – favorites are from Studio Calico and JoAnn’s
- A small pair of sizzors and a piece of cardboard wrapped with washi tape (here’s a tutorial)
- Tiny Teresa Collins Alpha Matchbook – here: http://www.allaboutscrapbooks.com.au/shop/scrapbooking-ranges-papers/teresa-collins/basically-essentials/teresa-collins-basically-essential-matchbook-alpha-white
- Brass embossing stencil – Emma Lowercase – I use this for tracing letters
- Page Flags from the Target Dollar Spot
- Post its
Right Side (from top to bottom):
- The Tape Runner – this doesn’t fit in the pockets, but I can set it on top and zip it up without it going anywhere.
Since it’s already set up and ready to go, I don’t even have to think about what I need to add before I hit the road, coffee shop, or couch. This kit allows me to turn any space into a creative one and that’s important to me.
Morning pages are one of my favorite practices that I’ve carried over from 2015. I discovered this practice last year through Julie Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I really enjoyed the book and it had a spiritual aspect that I definitely wasn’t expecting, but the intensity that it required with all of the prompts and weekly artist meetings with myself just wasn’t something I could prioritize at the time. That being said, morning pages are introduced in the beginning of the book and come highly highly encouraged by Julie if you plan on succeeding creatively.
While this “self-help” style book is meant to reduce creative block, Julie is very straightforward in letting the readers know that the purpose of the morning pages is to clear your mind. Though it may sound counter-intuitive to write when you’re “blocked”, she suggests that you write three pages on loose-leaf style paper, first-thing in the morning. When each page is complete, she suggests sliding them into a large envelope without looking back at them, at least for a few months.
When I first started, I followed Julie’s tips closely although I did use a composition notebook because I didn’t want to have loose sheets of paper running around my house. Similarly, I often write before I get out of bed so this made it easier because of the hard surface of the notebook cover. I didn’t use any specific pen and often allowed my handwriting to be atrocious. The first couple days, I would write until I couldn’t think of ANYTHING else and then I would fill up the rest of the pages with “I have nothing else to write about” over and over again. If you’re thinking, “what a waste of time”, then you’ve read my mind because that was exactly what I was thinking. As I navigated the first week of pages, writing all three quickly got easier and I began to allow myself to include bullet style journaling (more information on bullet journaling here and here) within those pages as well. I would then transfer those important to-do items and lists over to a different notebook before closing up the book for the day.
Here’s the deal. Sometimes these pages are super prolific and wonderful and sometimes they are bogus, but every time I feel relieved that they are done and ready to start the day. It’s like all of the swirling thoughts get dumped out and I have room for new (and often more productive) ones. I don’t even force myself to write all three pages anymore, because I often know what it feels like when I’m done and ready to move on with my day. I haven’t graduated to a nice notebook because, chances are, I’m going to throw this one away. Anything even remotely interesting has been transferred somewhere else.
How to make morning pages work for you:
Find a time that works. It’s clear by the title that the intention for this practice is for it to be done first thing in the morning before you do anything else. While this is ideal, I don’t think it’s realistic for everyone. Lately, I can hardly roll over to check the time in bed without Chloe (our dog) hopping up to let me know that – regardless of what the clock says – it’s time to eat and go outside. In my opinion shooting for the same time every day is a win. In the past, I’ve found that having a journaling routine directly before bed helps to alleviate the buzz of thoughts before falling asleep. Regardless, I think that this is something that needs to be done when it’s most convenient for you, otherwise you won’t do it.
Make them handwritten. This is a must. I originally thought that writing would be tedious and annoying and sometimes it is, but for the most part it’s worth it to have no distractions.
Don’t stop. At first it may feel silly but if you can’t think of anything just write “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over until you think of something. I promise it will come. The subject doesn’t matter and neither does your grammar or spelling. Just write.
Have a system. Whether it’s a pen and loose-leaf paper that you keep in a folder or a journal that you keep next to your bed, try to keep it consistent. This doesn’t have to be anything special, but I think having all of the junk in one journal will help the creative process everywhere else. Pro tip: spoil yourself and use a fountain pen or nice paper! I’ve found I lose the nicer things a heck of a lot less.
Get comfy. This really gets to the heart of cultivating a good routine. If you’re in a hurry and uncomfortable, you won’t want to continue the process. It will undoubtedly be miserable and just make matters worse! Pro tip: have a specific spot where you go to write like a desk or comfy chair by a window and enjoy a cup of coffee as you write it out.
You’re worth it. Above anything else, what I’ve found from doing these morning pages is that just the practice of having this outlet and making time for myself is a form of self care that is so worth it. It helps me start my day on a good foot and only takes fifteen minutes.
Go ahead and give it a shot. What are you waiting for? It doesn’t have to be great, it just simply has to be.
Have you ever found an amazing blog only to realize it hasn’t been updated in a while? I’ve been checking out the archives of this one.
An idea log in five easy steps. Love.
Turning Intentions into Realty with planners, notebooks, and journals.
Questions that will free your mind.
9 Lists to Keep Updated and Handy.
How to do the bullet journal thing.
Planning and Printables.
I love the #gratitudedocumented series that Illustrated Faith started. Check it out.
This group on facebook is dedicated to free planner printables.
Traveler’s Notebook inserts all decked out for advent.
DIY Paperclip Flags
An awesome DIY watercolor kit to go with your notebook.
My very first fountain pen, I’m in love.
Clockwise starting at the top left: letters in november | Ali Brownie | a.little.routine | chic sparrow | Jamiepate | bohopapercottage
Read my first Traveler’s Notebook Inspiration post here.
This series on traveler’s notebooks is a compilation of goodies I’ve found on the internet. Many of the pictures are not mine, so if you see a photo or link that has been cited incorrectly, please don’t hesitate to let me know! If you have any posts or photos that you think would be a great addition to this series in the future, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!
I got this beauty a few weeks ago – it was a secondhand purchase from someone who had never used it. It’s a golden brown Maverick from Chic Sparrow and I am weirdly obsessed with it. I mean, let’s be real, I love all notebooks, but I have a special thing for this one. If you aren’t familiar with these traveler’s notebooks, check out the one I made in my very first post here. I’ve been going down the YouTube worm hole of watching videos on how people set up their notebooks so that I can figure out how I can best utilize this lovely thing (read: use it for everything so I have an excuse to have it with me always). My last traveler’s notebook had two bands and I only kept two notebooks inside of it. This one has four bands and at the moment, I have 5 notebooks, peerless watercolors, and a zippered pouch inside. I could probably fit more, but I really didn’t want to overdo it. Here are the basics of what I keep in my journals.
Faith Journal: This is the journal that I use for everything faith-related. I take it to church, write down my prayers and use it to brainstorm future bible journaling verses and pages. For this, I used a lined Piccadilly journal from Barnes and Noble that I cut down to the right size (8.25″ x 4.5″). I love this one because it has TONS of pages and the lines are perfect. These journals are 3 for $5.99, which is pretty great compared to what some of the notebooks go for online.
Adult Coloring Pages: I bought this amazing notebook from Yellow Paper House on etsy when I found out about the adult coloring pages. I read that coloring before bed can help decrease stress or anxiety. Some people are going all out with their Prismacolor Pencils, but I just stick with the good ole crayola colored pencils and it works just fine for my liking.
Bible in a Year Journal: I just recently found myself in a facebook group that was about reading the bible in a year. I did this a couple of years ago and it was honestly one of the best things that I had ever done for myself. I haven’t had continuous success with Bible reading for a while because for some reason I find it distracting to just start in the middle somewhere, so I thought that now would be the perfect time to jump back into the more regimented reading plan. Each day after I read, I just circle the book and chapters just in case I ever want to go back through in the future with a highlighter or check mark as I read. She left plenty of blank pages and I’ve reserved those for thoughts and prayers related to what I am reading. If you’re interested in joining the facebook group or getting your hands on one of these journals, you can find out more information here.
Notes + Daily Journal: This is my catch all. I use it for everything from podcast notes to my daily journal. I recently came across the Five Minute Journal and I thought that the idea was amazing, so I’ve started to include some of the prompts in my daily writing. I think this has helped me search for the amazing pieces in seemingly mundane days. I also keep a record of my dreams here because they are pretty insane sometimes and it’s always hilarious to go back through and read them. For this journal, I used a trimmed down large Moleskine Cahier and it is perfect.
Art Journal: This is another one from Yellow Paper House and I love it so. It’s just a blank white notebook and the paper is perfect for everything from distress stains to paint and inks of all types. So far this has been working better than the Moleskines that I have used for art journals in the past. Since I’ve been using the traveler’s notebooks, I’ve already filled up 3 of these but I think it’s worth it to preserve memories.
Peerless Watercolors: This is easily one of my favorite things in my notebook, yet I hardly use it. The peerless watercolors have color saturated on one side of a special paper fabric that readily releases when it comes in contact with water. This makes it easy for on the road painting and the aqua brush makes it pretty easy to do whenever and wherever. You can find a similar palette here.
Plastic Pouch: This wraps around one of my notebooks and stores stickers on one side and project life cards and some collected items and tickets on the other. I love having this little to simply throw things in without the worry that they will get bent up or ruined. I found mine here.
Source: The Well Appointed Desk | Jeff Goins
Here is some inspiration for ya.
I recently just found this blog about two friends who complete journal entries and then blog about them.
This is beautiful and I love that the scenes of her journal include flowers.
My favorite YouTuber doing a Journal with Me.
This sketch book is a dream.
The traveler’s notebook as a planner.
The Flickr Group. Dang, these people are talented.
Lots and lots of journal prompts.
For the TN novice.
Urban sketching is the bomb.
Favorite instas: Ali Brown, My Documented Life, and Raven Ink
Have a favorite that I forgot or haven’t seen? Post a link below and maybe you’ll see it on my next inspiration round up!