Circa Take II – Yet Another Levenger Box Arrived Today

I know, I know….I’m obsessing. It’s kinda what I do.

Some people gamble, some do drugs, others drink. I fixate on planners.

If you read this and this, you know my current infatuation is on disc bound notebooks and planner systems. Levenger Circa now, to be precise.

Today, in a fit of pre-holiday expedited free shipping, more goodies from Levenger arrived. Unlike my eBay score, this one is the real deal.

Love the presentation!

Love the presentation!

Comes wrapped in a screen & lens friendly cloth that is HUGE!

Comes wrapped in a screen & lens friendly cloth that is HUGE!

Levenger Teal Fold-over Circa in Junior Size...unboxed

Levenger Teal Fold-over Circa in Junior Size…unboxed

This shot does not do the color justice. It is definitely more teal than plain old blue.

It even came with 3/4" matching teal aluminum discs

It even came with 3/4″ matching teal aluminum discs

Now for the interior…

The inside front is a lovely pale leather lining called Dune

The inside front is a lovely pale leather lining called Dune

The back features Dune leather and a Teal leather/elastic pen loop

The back features Dune leather and a Teal leather/elastic pen loop

The insides of the Fold Over Circa seem to be pretty standard, with 2 card slots and one full length slip pocket behind them in the front, and nothing but a pen loop in the back.

The Levenger stamp on the outside bottom of the back cover

The Levenger stamp on the outside bottom of the back cover

As you can see above, it also has a nice Dune contrast stitching.

Now for the discs. I went out on a limb and ordered Kyoto discs for it. Here is the description of the color from the Levenger website:

“Kyoto resin with touches of turquoise, lavender, espresso and caramel”

I was skeptical at first, but figured I’d try them out. After all, I could always return them if I didn’t like them, and I already had a set of the Silver aluminum discs on hand to take their place.

Here they are. See the array of colors?

Here they are. See the array of colors?

A close up. You can really see the blue in this shot

A close up. You can really see the blue in this shot

And finally, installed.

kyoto installed

These are actually 1.5″ discs. I meant to order 1″, but that’s what you get for rushing to do something on your lunch break.

They look a lot cooler in person, but tell me…which do you prefer, the Kyoto discs or Silver aluminum?

With the Silver aluminum discs

With the 1″ Silver aluminum discs

Those last two photos you just looked at are actually great representations of the true color of the cover.

Here’s another look at the Silver aluminum discs to help you make up your mind.

sliver discs spine
What I’m asking is not whether or not you like the Kyoto discs…because I do like them (they look fantastic with the Chestnut used Circa from yesterday too by the way), what I’m asking is which you like better with this Teal cover.

Keep in mind that ultimately this Circa will have 1″ discs either way. I will need to do an exchange for the 1″ Kyoto’s, but may wait until after the holidays to do it, simply because I wouldn’t go to the Post Office two weeks before Christmas even if my very life depended on it.

I am extremely impressed with Levenger products so far. Both the leather covers and the rings are impeccably put together. The stitching on both the new and used Circa’s are tight, even and flawless. The discs are infinitely better crafted than the plastic ones from either Arc or Martha Stewart (which both show seaming and unevenness here and there).

So there you have it! Chime in below to let me know which discs you like in this Teal blue beauty……………………………………….

Circa – You Knew I Wouldn’t Wait the Week

great shot rings

If you read my last post, you know I have recently become enamored with disc bound notebooks/planner systems.

I started with an insanely cheap Arc system from Staples and had decided that, if I stuck with it for a week, I would take the plunge and order myself a Levenger Circa because although I love the minuscule price of Arc, I knew I would tire of the plastic cover and discs in the long term.

Well, I regularly peruse eBay for all sorts of things and you’ll never believe what I came across Friday night. You guessed it…a used Levenger Circa in “Mezzo” leather in Chestnut (between tan and brown). Just for shits & giggles, I bid on it, figuring that the price was so low I’d never win it.

I won it.

And amazingly enough, it just arrived in today’s mail. That was crazy fast shipping!

Suffice to say, I moved into that thing in a heartbeat! I love it…the leather is fantastic (it reminds me of my saddle) and smells great, even though it’s used. I had ordered up some 1″ Levenger aluminum discs to see if they were worth the hype (they are) and they also came today, so without further ado, here is a quick look at my new Levenger:

Here it is as I bid on it…with standard 3/4″ Levenger black plastic discs and filled with 60 sheets of Levenger Annotation Ruled Sheets.

(My Arc from the last post is in the background)

outa the box You can see it has a few dings on the leather, but just from normal wear and tear. Gives it character ; )

Here it is with the new Levenger 1″ aluminum discs put in….so pretty!

flat w new discs

The inside front has 2 card pockets and one full length slip pocket. Of note is that the lining is either leather or a very nice vinyl. I assume vinyl, but since it doesn’t specify on the Levenger website, who knows. At any rate, it is very classy and looks as well as feels high quality.

inside front
The inside of the back cover is plain and has a leather/elastic pen loop that matches the exterior and it will easily accommodatefat pens, like my Coleto.

2012-12-10 15.05.11
Here’s a great shot of the spine, highlighting the spiffy aluminum discs.

side disc view
Don’t they look fabulous? Way nicer than the plastic ones!! And might I add that they make for super smooth page turning. I am very pleased with them. I’m also very pleased with the fact that, as my Levenger collection grows (’cause you know me…it totally will) I can use these rings with other covers, and this cover with other rings.

Here again is the photo from the beginning. A very nice shot of both the grain of the leather and the glint of the discs. This is actually just about a perfect representation of the color. I am a very, very happy girl : )

great shot rings
That’s it. Just a quick peek/review. If this used Circa is any indication, I should be blown away when I get a new one!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more adventures in disc bound planning!

Raider of the (not really Lost) Arc

What I actually raided was the Arc (as in, M by Staples Arc) section of my local office supply store.

It all started innocently enough, last weekend when I was out shopping with a girlfriend. We poked into Staples for a look -see and I noticed a prominent display of Arc disc bound notebooks and planners. Immediately, I nabbed an el cheapo hot pink plastic cover and a few inserts to take home and play with, and maybe post a review of.

You know…for the sake of the blog.

But then I panicked and put everything back. Don’t I have enough planner stuff already? Do I seriously need more? Of course not. Back away from the Arc.

Then I Tweeted about somehow only now discovering disc bound notebooks & planners and was astounded at the response. It seems that many of you knew about, have used, still use and love disc bound notebooks.  Huh.

Over the next few days, I found myself watching YouTube videos of how people use disc bound planning systems and Googling the different options. While I really liked the concept, I found some of the Arc stuff cheap looking, especially those black plastic discs.

Then I found out about Levenger Circa. Like Arc on ‘roids, they have high quality metal or resin discs, premium leather covers and uber high quality, fountain pen friendly paper.

Oh god…………..

I decided to go back to Staples and pick up what I had initially walked away from and play around with it to see if I’d seriously consider  moving away from my current (and working fine) Filofax Domino A5 system BEFORE taking the plunge into Levenger Circa. Who’s a good girl? I am.

Pictures are coming, promise. But long story short, I’m switching. And here’s why:

One of my biggest planner vexations over the years, has been how to adapt it to the almost constantly changing nature of my life. Just when I get all my ducks in a nice row, something major erupts. A cross country move, having to schedule caring for a terminally ill mother, a new job, night classes, utter and complete re-structuring of a current job. You get the idea. It seems I’m happily doodling to fill in empty space on weekly refills  in a Compact one month and wondering if 1 day per page is going to be enough in an A5 the next.

Because each of the planner systems I have previously used have various ring spacing/configuration for each size binder, that meant a lot of switching around and (cue scary music) purchasing new appropriately sized inserts and doing the dreaded re-copying ritual. It made tweaking my planner to work with my new circumstances almost as stressful as the life changes themselves.

But with these disc bound systems, there is essentially one hole configuration  for every single size cover. Same spacing. So you could conceivably put any size insert into any size cover.

Did you hear that? That was angels singing.

I cannot believe I am just finding out about these now, at 47 years old, a mere 15 days before the Mayan Apocalypse.


Anyway, the second beef I’ve had with ring bound planners is the freaking rings themselves. I like big rings (and I cannot lie…hehehe!) so that I can load up my book and carry plenty of other stuff along with several months worth of calendar pages. Thing is, those fat rings make it terrible to write on the left hand pages because they get in the way of your hand (if you’re a righty, which I am). Smaller rings, such as in a Compact or Slimline make for easy peasy writing, but you can’t carry much.

The cool thing about the disc systems is that they can fold over on themselves, like a traditional spiral bound notebook, only you can still add, remove and rearrange pages easily and at will.

Thirdly there are the long standing issues I’ve had (and bitched about incessantly) with paper quality, the provision for tabbed months, and having no Filofax/FC retailers anywhere near me so that I have to order stuff sight unseen and take my chances that I’ll like it.

All three are solved with the disc system.

I can simply put any size refill into my Arc, because every size has the same hole configuration so no re-copying needed. I can have freaking huge discs and carry around a veritable encyclopedia of a book, and still easily write on every inch of both pages, because I can fold it over on itself…or I can pop in some small rings and put my system on a diet when necessary too.

And happily, Arc refills are great quality, readily available at a retailer near me and incorporate tabbed freaking months.

Seriously Filofax…if Staples can do it…come ON.

But I digress.

Oh, and did I mention both the covers and the refills cost a fraction of what a traditional ring bound planner system would run you?

My plastic cover was $7.99. I know right?!  An Arc leather cover will run you $14.99.  Leather. Okay, its anywhere from $59 – $109 for a Junior size leather in Levenger, but still. You only have to buy ONE cover. Ever. For all your future, as of yet unforeseen planning needs. Unless of course you want more colors : )

AND…and…you can buy the covers separately and customize the inserts you want, rather than paying an arm and a leg for included inserts that you won’t even use.  Love that too.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Pictures.

Here is my Arc book

pink plastic arc front

M by Staples Arc in “Junior” size, hot pink with my fave Life is Good sticker added. At $7.99 you totally don’t mind stickering these things up!

Looks a lot like my Deep Pink Domino doesn’t it?

Love this, but do miss having a pen loop...

Love this, but do miss having a pen loop…

This whole thing…the plastic cover, colorful tabs, and all of the inserts cost me $32 (okay, $31.94. I rounded up, so shoot me). The Monthly/Weekly Calendar was the most expensive item…at $11.99 for an annual pack. On great paper. With Monthly tabs.  Yeah.

Here is a shot of the discs. These are black plastic and 1" in diameter

Here is a shot of the discs. These are black plastic and 1″ in diameter

The book came standard with 3/4″ black plastic discs, but I found them too small for my needs so I picked up a 1″ set for $1.99. They had 1 1/2″ and 2″ discs as well. The 2″ set will run you an additional dollar.

You can see how easy and inexpensive it would be to keep an array of discs for all your planner size needs!

Yesterday, Arc planner in tow, I had to go back to Staples for work. You know damn well that I  cruised around to see if there was anything else I wanted. Interestingly, when I went back to the Martha Stewart section for more sticky balloons, I noticed that on the other side of the display, she has her own set of disc bound notebooks.

I picked up a black plastic one more sturdy than the Arc ones (and also more expensive at $17.99 but the plastic was much thicker- the Arcs will bend – this one would not, but it was still thin and laid flat when folded back). The ONLY reason I got it was because it had a pen loop inside the back cover as well as an elastic strap closure like Moleskine’s have. I also picked up a set of her metallic (looking, they are still plastic) discs in 1 1/4″ diameter. You’ll see why in a minute.

Ta-daaaaa! New and improved Arc with Martha Stewart back/elastic strap closure

Ta-daaaaa! New and improved Arc with Martha Stewart back, complete with elastic strap closure, and new rings

Jazzier, no?

Here is a close up of those Martha Stewart discs.

MS discs

Stamped with “Martha Stewart”. Not so wild about that as I sorta can’t stand her, but they aren’t too conspicuous so it’s okay

And here is the back. It is still plastic, but it gives added stability for writing if I have the book on my lap or something. I thought it made a practical addition.

The black, plastic Martha Stewart back. I put the sticker on for some tie in to the front

The black, plastic Martha Stewart back. I put the sticker on for some tie in to the pink front

Now here it is compared to my beloved A5 Deep Pink Domino:

arc vs domino

M by Staples Arc in Junior size on the left, Filofax Domino A5 on the right

As you can see, they are practically the same size. Remarkably, the inserts are entirely cross-compatible too (they just need re-punching with the Arc punch, but that does not affect the Filofax holes at all) so you can move them back and forth if you so desire. I did.  More on that in a bit.

Arc Junior size on top of A5 Domino

Arc Junior size on top of A5 Domino

Remember those Martha Stewart discs I mentioned before? Well, I elected to put the same diameter discs in my Arc as I had in the Domino (1 1/4″ or 30 mm) to compare apples to apples.  I can fit the exact same amount of insert pages in the Arc as I can the A5 Domino.

The difference is that I can make the Arc skinnier or fatter at will just by changing out the discs. Cover & inserts stay the same. And I can fold it over on itself no matter what size discs I choose. Win!

All of you jonesing for an A5 Compact…just sayin’.

Here are the fronts - Arc Junior on the left, Domino on the right

Here are the fronts – Arc Junior on the left, Domino on the right

Notice that the whole Arc book is about A5 page size. True, the A5 binder itself is larger, but you can see that the inserts are not.

Here are some shots of the interior:

The inside front has no pockets, no nothin'. I added a zip pocket insert to hold my stuff

The inside front has no pockets, no nothin’. I added a zip pocket insert to hold my flags and stuff

There is nothing inside the front cover. No pockets, nada

I put in some colorful tabs (they come in a set of 5 and are also available in black if you prefer something more professional) and that awesome sticky flag page marker to give easy access to the calendar part. These are the mylar kind that you can’t really write on, but they are still cool for, well, flagging. I may even pry them off and use my paper sticky flags on it. We’ll see.

pink arc weeklyThese are the weekly sheets. The calendar pack comes with both monthly (tabbed) and weekly. For $11.99. Did I mention that?  I also put an Arc Task Pad (very similar to Day Timer’s Hot Lists, but larger and not sticky. They go in the holes and can easily be moved around) as a Page Marker in between to serve as a running To Do list.

Here is the creme de la creme…

...Makes me want to weep with joy : )

…Makes me want to weep with joy : )

You can fold it back on itself for easy, comfortable writing. This photo was taken before I put in the Martha Stewart rings, but no matter the size of the rings, they still fold back and the rings don’t interfere with full use of page real estate.

See...perfectly flat, even folded over

See…perfectly flat, even folded over with big-ass discs

Also utterly and completely flat open

Also utterly and completely flat open

Now, since I also picked up the punch ($39.99 one time, for one universal punch that will cover you no matter what size your book is and is so well built you could brain a home invader with it) I was able to move the rest of the year’s Filofax A5 inserts into it so I can use it now. Because face it, with something so awesome, who wants to wait for the New Year? Certainly not “No Patience Zoe”.

FF pages Arc does not make a 1PPD calendar option (neither does Martha Stewart), but Levenger does. Today I ordered up a set of January – March daily pages for 2013. I love that you can order them quarterly. That way, you can start your system whenever you want; calendar year, academic, whatevsies. Or, you can just spring for the entire year. Your choice.

Since the inside back of the pink cover was equally as nondescript as the front (and lacked a pen loop) I popped the Martha Stewart back onto my book in a jiffy and, voila, pen loop!

inside back No, it doesn’t match…but for the pen loop (it’s plastic with an elastic section, just as we are accustomed to on some Filofax and FC models) and the Moleskine-esque elastic closure, it’s totally worth not matching.

I love this thing so much I don’t even care that it doesn’t match. Deal with that OCD!

If I’m still feein’ the mojo one week from today, I’m going to order myself  a nice Levenger one (with an assortment of metal discs) for ______________{ insert holiday or celestial event of your choice here}.

In the mean time, thanks for reading about my foray into the world of disc bound planners. If you’re good boys and girls…and I do end up with a Levenger, I might even do a video detailing my set up and day to day use for you : )

Suddenly Craving Chowda

Okay, so my impulse buy  Slimline Boston just arrived.

“f-ing right!”

Obviously, I haven’t had time to play with it or “move in” yet, but here is a quick first impression:

“it’s wicked pink”

I would describe this as a darker, more blue-hued pink than any of the other Filo’s I have. Below you can see it piled on top of a Deep Pink Domino A5 (my current fave shade of Filofax pink) and my hot pink Otterbox iPad Mini case for comparison.

It’s almost a Raspberry. Not quite there, but almost. When I do the full review I will show it against virtually all the pink Filo’s I own. And trust me, that’s kind of become A LOT while you guys weren’t looking, so…be ready.

“flat, right outta da bohx”

The leather is quite nice, very soft and pliable without being floppy, but as Laurie said in her review, I was very disappointed that considering what I paid for this baby (even on sale from Pens & Leather) it has cheap feeling fabric inside rather than leather.

The Filofax website describes the Boston this way, “This classic design is both elegant and sophisticated, and is crafted in luxury Nappa leather. Each Boston is marked with a silver metal ‘f’ – the assured sign of impeccable quality. Boston is the perfect chic accessory.

Um…using words like “elegant”, “sophisticated”, “luxury” and “impeccable quality” and then slapping an el cheapo fabric liner inside is a wicked pissah.

I dunno. I’m tryin here, I really am. But I’m not actually FROM Boston.

Anyway, the interior of a Finsbury feels nicer for crying out loud. Come on Filofax…if you’re going to charge us for a high-end binder, don’t skimp on materials.

Here’s a shot of the embossing inside the front cover. Yes, the leather is “deluxe”. Thing is…the whole thing isn’t leather.

As was mentioned in the comments to Laurie’s review, the leather is a bit cushy.  So while this binder is called a Slimline, at 1 1/2″ thick, I don’t know how slim I’d consider it.

And that’s without a pen (or pens…it has 2 loops) in the pen loop. Yikes.

The rings appear to be typical for a Slimline, at about 1/2″.

The back does have a cool, full length slip pocket that could be quite useful for a checkbook register, if one were going to use this as a planner/wallet combo…which is my plan.

“or put your dollahs here for when you go to the packie”

So all in all…is this a nice binder? Yes. Do I feel it’s worth the premium price? Faaaaack no.  Filofax is getting a bit out of hand with their penchant for fashion over function, and is charging us an awful lot of money for increasingly shoddy product quality. This is a $60 binder; $70 tops, given it’s crappy fabric lining.

Right now on Filofax USA you can snag a brown Holborn Slimline on sale for $59.50. If that came in actual colors, I’d have gone with that over this in a crack whore’s heartbeat.

That being said, will I return it? I have no idea at this point. I like the odd color and none of the Slim’s or Compacts on the market right now really float my boat, so I’ll have to go home, set it up, play with it a bit and see.

Stay tuned for a full review of use, and mega pink comparison!


Go Big or Go Home

Alright, I know I said I hoped to go smaller rather than larger with my 2013 planner, but then one night last week, something happened.

Something wonderful.

The iPad Mini I got up at 3:00 in the morning to pre-order back in…whenever that was… arrived in all it’s feather light, distractingly beautiful glory.

I was lounging on my sofa, playing with it (blog review to come on that soon, promise!) and wondering if Filofax would come up with a planner/holder for it, like they recently have for the, ahem, “MaxiPads”.

The Mini is roughly the same size as a Filofax Personal and only slightly smaller than an A5 page, and so I was pondering which size planner they would use for it, A5 like with the “Maxi” or Personal just to be different?  And more importantly, if they did create a planner & case for the Mini, would I actually buy one?

ipad mini with smart cover in comparison to the note pad on a filofax a5

Then I had an “aha moment” and went into the Filo bin for the glorious Ochre Malden so kindly and awesomely gifted me by Erin. Would, I wondered, the Mini fit in the pocket intended for a note pad inside the back?


And it even accommodated the Smart Cover.

This, as the saying goes, was about to change everything.

I had dubbed around with the A5 a few weeks prior, but ended up back in my trusty Personal  with FC inserts after one measly day because I couldn’t figure out workable diary pages for it.

But this was different. My A5 2013 refills had yet to arrive at that point, so I was kluging together reject inserts from the storage bin rather than setting up a new planner. Big difference.

And now I had the Mini to factor in as well. I was pretty excited to get my planner mojo on.

My only beef was that, although I love the Ochre Malden – it is one of my fave Filo’s of all time  (the OLD ones…before they went all crinkly and stiff) – I am very much into color right now.

Ochre is, of course, very subtle and neutral. I thought I could maybe jazz it up on the inside, and that would be enough for whatever is going on with me that is making me crave hot pink like a pregnant woman craves pickles and ice cream.

Once I got all moved in, however, a couple things became apparent. One was that the color (or, in this case, the lack thereof) wasn’t gonna cut it for me. Is it a beautiful planner? Hells yes. But I’m not in the mood for beautiful & vintage lately…I’m in the mood for BRIGHT.

The second was that a fully loaded leather A5 planner with an iPad Mini in the back pocket was simply going to be too heavy and cumbersome for me to want to carry around. So while I could carry the Mini around in it, in real world use I probably never would.

Right. Back to the Hot Pink Domino I went. And all felt right with the world once again.

You may remember this planner as my former Fit-o-Fax. So yeah, I gave up any attempts at fitness (for now) and decided to hell with trying to play Dr. FrankenFilo and create a Mini holder when I already have both an Otter Box Defender case and a  Smart Cover for the thing.

Anyway…less talk, more pictures! Here’s what I came up with for the Hot Pink Domino:

same binder…new sticker : )

isn’t it pretty?! ***love***

Here’s the inside front. A card my Mum gave me in the ID pocket, some business cards, a few stickers. The usual.  See the orange, pink and green sticky flags tucked into that bottom pocket?  More on those later.

My start page is a transparent flyleaf with the old Goddess sticker from the Fit-o-Fax. I liked it and didn’t want to waste it when I peeled it off the front, so I just stuck it here. Still seems fitting ; )

The green & orange jot notes are a couple of my favorite quotes right now. I like seeing them when I first open my binder.

Now comes my monthly overview.

I have to highlight the actual month so I don’t get confused (I’m blonde you know) and I don’t care for the week starting on Monday, but hey, I can deal. And although I really, seriously prefer to have tabbed months,  Filofax seems to insist that our repeated cries for them in fact mean “Please release more crappily put together and/or hideous, useless designer binders and leave us in the dark ages with inserts that are never updated”.

So, no tabbed months, but I am going to try using a 2nd Page Marker so that I can at least easily flip to the current month and see if that does the trick. Right now I have all of 2012 and 2013 included, but once January comes, 2012 will exit stage left.

Next I have my first three tabs:

Capture – the GTD universal capture tool. Just some graph paper for jotting down stuff, sketching, whatever is needed to capture anything and everything. Items in the capture section are temporary. They either get done & crossed off quickstyle or moved somewhere else.

To Do – since I’m using weekly inserts, I figured a section of To Do pages might come in handy. Generally I like my tasks on my daily view, but there isn’t much room on a weekly sheet. Overflow can go here if the new strategy for tasks (which I really am going to get to in a minute) ends up a massive fail.

Quotes – I am a self-confessed quote junkie. By far the most blank note sheets go here. When this section is filled up, the sheets get removed and put into my Commonplace Book ( a plain ol’ Moleskine notebook).

Now, smack dab in the middle of the book, come my diary pages. Having them in the middle (theoretically – I need to fill up the sections with more blank sheets first) makes them easier to write on.

I’ve started the diary section with a Transparent Flyleaf. This serves both as a divider of the calendar from the last note sheet in the Quote section, and as a dashboard for sticky  notes and flags. Remember those flags from the inside front cover? Bazinga!

the dashboard gets its own colored flag…so it sticks out beyond the subject tabs and i can see the damn thing

In reviewing how I most use my planner in preparation for deciding what I was going to change for 2013, I noticed that I have a lot of recurring items. Most of my meetings are the same every month and aside from the day to day minutia, a lot of what I have to do in a given week repeats as well.

This was why the weekly pages weren’t working before; I wasted too much of the scant writing space on repetitive items (mostly tasks) and ended up with no room to write in anything else that I needed to.

Hence my new and, I think, pretty exciting STICKY FLAG SOLUTION !!!

Recurring tasks and meetings will now go on colored sticky flags.

Green for bills (money), bright pink for meetings (hot) and orange for tasks/reminders (danger…of forgetting, lol).

here you can see this week. errands i want to run but realistically may or may not get to on that day, go on the sticky flags

When the item is completed, it can either get moved forward to the next time it will be due or, if that is TBD, it can go back to the dashboard staging area.

Since my meetings repeat but can often get moved around due to holidays or someone or other being out sick, using the sticky flag to “hold the spot” is perfect – if the meeting moves, it’s simple to just relocate the flag to the new date/time (with the added bonus that my page stays neat).

a couple of upcoming meetings in december. will they happen when they’re supposed to? probably. but if they don’t…no scribbling or white out needed

Once the meeting happens, I can write it in, as a record that it happened (in case I have to refer back).

I’m especially stoked about using this new strategy for bills. I have a slew of them and since I exclusively do online banking, I don’t get any paper statements in the mail.

Every month I get bill notifications via email and, up till now, have been writing in my planner when they are due. Then I write in “pay such and such” on the day I need to make the online payment in order for it to post to the account in time.

Now I can just use sticky flags : )

When the bill is paid, the flag can go back to the dashboard or, if its one of those bills that recur on the exact same day each month, it can just get carried forward to the following month.

For those “throw away” tasks that are sort of one-off’s,  I just use a standard, run of the mill sticky note.

ye olde tyme thanksgiving sticky list in progress

Then, at the end of the day when I review to make sure everything I needed to accomplish got done, I can write in the key items so that I have a record of them, and toss the sticky note.

It sounds rather psychotic, I know, but believe it or not it actually WORKS.

Not everything I set out to do in a given day actually needs to be logged in my planner; I just have to remember to do them. So the stuff that I do want to log gets logged, the rest gets tossed and my pages stay uncluttered.

Because I’m using weekly pages, I can fit an entire year in my book (which I really like) and it’s a hell of a lot easier to move flags around than it is to scratch stuff out and re-copy it several times, lemme tell ya!

Okay, back to my set up.  After my diary pages, come three more tabs. These are for my writing.

I have one for each blog I run and the last is for general writing gigs I’ve got lined up, or am trying to line up. If I have my way, eventually my writing will be in such demand that it will require it’s own Filofax ; )

Next just comes the note pad. Stuff that isn’t really worthy of  sticky flag or list of its own go here. Generally they are things that don’t have a due date, but that I want to remember to do or look up or whatever.

The best part about giving up on the Malden and using the Domino is the stretchy pen loop (actually, it’s “loops”, as in there are two; however I only use the one in the back) that will accommodate my beloved new Coleto 4-banger.

I have a smokey grey one (but I don’t do grey anymore it seems) and a pink one, but the pink  was “wrong” for the hue of the Domino and drove my OCD batshit crazy.

Yeah, I know.

JetPens called this baby “soft green”. But don’t kid yourself…it’s damn near yellow. I am, however, unfazed. It’s bright and spring-y and sufficiently compliments my favorite Life is Good sticker of all time…so, well, life is…you know, good and stuff : )

That’s the new A5 set up my peeps. What do you think? Do you have any predictions for the new sticky note/flag concept? Got feedback or tips to make a good planner even better?

Anyone care to place bets on how soon I go back to Personal? Bahahahaha!

Let ‘er rip in the comments…………………….

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

Okay, I’m finding it both humorous and also somewhat…disturbing that so many of us are having journal angst today. Mostly humorous.

For those of you  who clicked on this blog because you thought the title indicated you would see a gopher doing customer service,  a cat attempting a science experiment or a dog trying drive or do hair or some such, let me get you up to speed on what you’ve inadvertently stumbled into.

First, I wrote this post.  Then Laurie replied with this post.  In it, she asked some very valid questions (which naturally got me over-thinking my already over-thought conundrum) and pointed me to this series of posts about journaling that I somehow had missed previously, but that got me to thinking YET MORE about this whole mess.

Confused yet?

Me too.

The central question that struck me as though I’d been slapped (in a good way Laurie…in a good way) was “What do I want my journal to be?”

Whoa.  Never thought of that.

In my last post I had framed it more in terms what I didn’t want it to be…not like a series of lame FaceBook posts (had ramen for dinner, wicked tired today, omg my new iPad Mini just came), not like a synopsis of the news headlines of the day, certainly not fodder for blackmail, and not merely an amalgam of stupid factoids mixed with things I’m grateful for.

But what did I want it to be?

Short answer? I had no frigging idea.

And after reading Laurie’s comments about not wanting her journal to be an emotional dumping ground, and concerns about other individuals possibly getting their grubby mitts (my words, not hers) on archived journals in which such deeply personal information was logged at some point in the future, well, that made me want to throw up a little.

I have bins of old journals in storage, chock full of the kind of stuff anyone who found them posthumously could certainly use to come to the conclusion that I was one helluva crazy biatch.  I am SOOOOOOO burning those. I mean,  of all the legacies I hope to leave behind…that ain’t one of ’em. Though, it may be unavoidable at this point, who knows.

But I digress.

One thing I do have sorted out as a result of all this, is the Gratitude List. In her comment, Laurie pointed me to a pretty magenta weekly Moleskine. I kinda dug the weekly format and got the idea that it might be small enough to tuck into a pocket of whatever planner I end up using.

It wasn’t.

However, her suggestion did lead me to this  Moleskine weekly soft cover planner/notebook that will fit. The layout is a little different than the one she suggested, but since it has all 7 days on the left page (unlined and with no time slots) and a full sheet of note paper on the right, I thought I could keep a running weekly list of things I’m grateful for on the note page and at the end of each day, transfer the single most significant item over the daily section. Probably with a sticker or two for good measure.

So “Gratitude on the Go” is officially solved. I actually prefer the new weekly w/daily highlight idea better than my original idea of just writing a daily list, and the flexible cover and smaller size (3.9″  x 5.4″) will allow it to slip into either a Personal or Compact Filo, which means I don’t have to carry yet another book around with me. Yay!

That leaves my Planner and my Journal.

I suppose what I would like my journal to be (in light of the fact that somebody may find it and read it when I’m dead) is a record of my growth, self-discovery, epiphanies and life lessons. Things that perhaps I would pass on to a child if I had one. Not necessarily all sunshine and roses…because life isn’t…but what I’ve learned, the things I felt mattered.

Yeah. That’s what I want. And I still think I can achieve that with a nice blank book.

I also really liked Marcia’s comment about using a special symbol to note  in her planner the days she writes in her journal. Genius! Totally stealing that idea. Thank you Marcia : )

Now we’re down to just figuring out my planner. And hey, I’m an old pro at dubbing around with that, so I’m pretty confident that between now and December 31st I’ll come up with something.

And you know I’ll post about it ; )

Wow you guys…thank you all for your great comments and for rallying to the cause! Phew, it was kind of exhausting wasn’t it?!  But it sure was fun!!

Stay tuned for deets on what planner I go with for the New Year, and how the new journal & Gratitude books work out……..


Journals, Planners and Lists…Oh My!

As the year winds to a close, I find my life – as usual – in a state of flux.

Not only did my job take a drastic (but very positive) turn at the end of Q3, adding a lot more to my plate, but I’ve also started a 2nd part time job and am also making a go of breaking out with my writing.

All of this has made my planner rather a mess, and left me contemplating how I’m going to uncoil the serpent that is my life on paper, and lay it all out straight.

I’m a journaler. I have been keeping a personal journal since I was a child and my mother bought me my first Diary. It was a small, ridiculously girly hard bound book with a tiny gold key.

In it, I wrote about my horse, whatever crush I was in the midst of on any given day and how much I hated math.

Today I still write faithfully every day in my journal. I no longer have a horse, my affections stopped  swaying with the winds a long time ago…and I still hate math.

For several years, I have used a Moleskine Daily large hard cover book for my journal. The dated format harnessed the power of my OCD for good (for once) and drove me to write every day. They have good quality paper and are easily archived.


Here’s the thing though – I’m one of those people who also do a bit of journaling in my Day Planner. I track stuff in my Filofax (weather, mood, the BF’s schedule, whether or not I took my vitamin, flossed my teeth, stuff like that) and jot down notable events (moon phases, tarot stuff, etc).

Kind of a lame, journal “divide and conquer” strategy that ends up taking up more room that I want in my planner, yet not feeling worthy of the Moleskine.  I miss that feeling of opening up a fresh blank page and giving free rein to my pen. But, with only that one page to use, there isn’t much room to actually write. Muse. Ponder. That kind of thing. So I mostly just keep it to the facts ma’am. Work kicked my ass. Gave up and switched back to iPhone. The gecko ate 7 crickets. Stuff like that.


Before I discovered Moleskine, I just used a blank book for my journal and not to toot my own horn, but some pretty intense, amazing stuff got written down when I had as many pages as I wanted upon which to spill my stream of consciousness. I didn’t write every day, however, and as ‘life got tougher’ (as the old Excedrin commercial used to say) I wrote less and less. Actually, during the times I probably needed to the most, I hardly wrote at all.

So the blank book gave me the freedom that I needed, but I ended up abusing that freedom and stopped writing. Then the Mole gave my journaling back a sense of structure, but inadvertently sucked away its soul.

What, I ask you, is a girl to do?

For 2013 I’m going to have faith (in myself) that keeping to a daily schedule for the past few years has instilled in me the habit to write on a regular basis and I’m going to take the leap and go back to a blank book again. I may not write every day but which do I want more, a trivial accounting of mundane things kept every day for the sake of keeping it every day, or actual real quality writing that, while it may not come daily, has depth and genuine meaning behind it when it does come?

At first I thought this would be such an awesome idea that I would also keep my Gratitude List in there too. But that is something I want to continue to commit to every day, so perhaps it doesn’t belong in my journal.

What about in my planner?

Oy, don’t even get me started on what my planner situation is going to be next year! I’m still working on that one, and I’m hoping to go smaller rather than larger with it, so no room for the Gratitude List there.

So what I’m thinking is, pick up a pocket size daily Moleskine and use that for my Gratitude List. Only for that. There, structure will come in handy.  Heck, I could even toss it in my handbag for gratitude on the go.

Are three books too much? The journal would obviously stay at home. I actually kinda like the “Gratitude on the Go” idea. And if I kept journalesqe stuff actually in my journal and therefore out of my planner, I might even be able to go back to my beloved Compact next year.

What do you guys say? Am I over-thinking this (big surprise there, as I tend to over-think pretty much everything)? Or am I onto something here?

Do you keep a journal and/or a gratitude list? And if so, are they separate entities or one and the same?

Are any of you keeping all of this in one book? Journal, planner, whatever mindful practice floats your boat…the works? How the heck do you do it??!!

Chime in in the comments : )

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, it’s finally here…VACATION!

This time tomorrow I’ll be in the air, on my way to warm, (hopefully) sunny Cozumel Meh-hico for a week with the love of my life.

Suffice to say, I’m more than a little excited.

I don’t know about you, but to me the point of vacation is sort of not to plan. To chillax, to explore, to have a new adventure;  to go where the experience takes you.

So I gave a lot of thought to whether or not my planner would come on vacay with me.

I’m still loving the Veronica, but I have to admit…she’s a big girl. And realistically, in a world of flight tracking apps, Google calendars and journaling tools (a cool one I found for the iPad, and hope to use to chronicle my trip, is called Day One), am I really going to need 1.125″ of 2 pages per day with me while I lounge on the beach?

Oh hells no.

But…I’m also a Type Capital-A, OCD-riddled, planner junkie. No way I can go anywhere or do anything totally sans planner! There isn’t enough tequila in the world to make that happen.


I resurrected one of my Compacts.

this size happens to make a great mini-planner and travel wallet

pink finsbury compact. skinny – the anti Veronica ; )

Sadly, because Compacts are so…well…compact, FC inserts won’t work. They stick out so insanely far, even someone who isn’t  neurotic would tweak.

Determined to stick to FC inserts these days, pretty much no matter what, I trimmed down some Franklin Covey 2012 Her Point of View weekly inserts I had lying around from an old “can I trim FC stuff to fit FF without going mad and/or ending up with an epic fail” experiment, and loaded them up.

trimmed, these babies fit perfectly, and add a nice festive touch of color

i did copy my schedule from october 1st to present, but not my to-do’s. won’t be needing those where i’m going!

Other than the July – Dec 2012 monthly tabs and Oct – Dec weekly inserts, the rest of the planner is just filled with lined paper.

…”dear diary, my bf looks so dreamy in his spedo…” (bahahahaha)

On the day slots, I will no doubt take down where we went, what we did, etc so that when we get home I can elaborate on that for my journal. I can’t imagine I’ll do much else, other than take the occasional note or jot down key phrases I want to remember, like “Una cerveza, por favor” or “Dónde está el baño?” or possibly “No puedo encontrar mi hotel….”

More than likely I won’t even use the thing, but you know me, I have to have something planneresque with me, so this is what it’s gonna be.

Anyway, I hope to blog while I’m away…but no promises. Ideally, I hope to post a little bit of interestingness (quite possibly drunkenness will be more accurate an assessment) every night, so stay tuned to this space for, at the very least, a chuckle or two.

adiós, mis amigos!!


Franklin Covey “Veronica” Binder Review

“You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica”

As you know, since converting over from another planner brand, I have been trying out various Franklin Covey binders.

I started with the Giada because I loved the teal color. However the ring size was not listed on the website, and it turned out to have only 1/2″ rings. After much deliberation, I decided to keep it in the hopes that I can use such a gorgeous binder if and when my job turmoil settles back down and I don’t need 2PPD refills.

Stop laughing.

Seeking to maintain some color yet have larger rings, I tried the Ava. That made it less than a week. Once Veronica arrived, I knew Ava would be going back. In the “old days” I just would have kept them all, but I’m trying to take a more minimalistic approach to life now, and that includes planners.

There was a time I only had ONE. I used it every day and simply bought new refills for it yearly. My goal now, while not necessarily to limit myself to just one binder for the rest of my life, is to keep it to one brand and one size. And just buy new refills every year.

Fortunately, Veronica will make that an easy goal to achieve; no more hoarding planners for this girl…I’ve found my perfect match.

The Veronica binder is the softest, most supple, buttery, yummy, scrumptious leather on the face of the earth. It is, quite honestly, hard to stop touching it.  If I was single, I’d probably sleep with it, but no way I’m explaining why I have my planner in bed with me to my boyfriend, so…

Oh, and it smells like heaven. If you think the aroma of fine leather is akin to heaven, which I do.

What I’m  saying is, it’s a nice effing planner.

It comes in black, charcoal and latte. I chose latte and unlike my reaction when the Ava arrived (which was advertised as “plum” and in actuality was more of a berry color), I was totally pleased with the texture and color of my new favorite binder.

And the rings….oh the rings.

1.125″ rings

I originally misread the website and thought it said 1.25″ rings, but in fact the rings are 1.125″. Close enough for me.  Anything over 1″ is perfectamundo as far as I’m concerned.

The inside front is a bit unconventional. Rather than the secretarial pocket being attached to the outer edge, as most binders are, this one has it attached to the interior edge, and there is a full slip pocket behind it.

I don’t know how I feel about this yet, as I fear stuff might fall out. Nothing HAS yet, mind you,but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t kvetch about something.

In previous binders with only one pen loop, with a conventional layout I could stick a 2nd pen in the secretarial pocket, but I can’t with this one. A small price to pay however, since I also have a cool pencil case in my bag.

There are 4 credit card pockets (and they are longer than usual because you don’t have to trim business cards to fit in them!) and an ID window on the front of the secretarial pocket. The full slip pocket is on the right hand side. I actually just discovered it, so haven’t found a use for it yet : )

I have a full year of Month on 2 Pages, four months of 2 Pages per day and four subject tabs with about 10 pieces of note paper behind each. As you can see, everything lays nice and flat, there is no page bunching and I even have ring room to spare. I’m betting I can fit 6 months of 2 Pages per Day comfortably.

Inside the back cover is a note pad pocket and one leather (non-elasticized) pen loop. Behind the note pad pocket, there is another full length slip pocket.

Although the Swing Pad came in handy and is a great idea, it’s very nice to have a dedicated note pad pocket again.  And how cool is it to know that I could put the Swing Pad back in, because I have so much ring room, and use this pocket for something else entirely?! Like, oh…I dunno…a passport perhaps? If someone were going to, say, Mexico in five days. Or something.

So yup, very happy with Veronica. If any of you have been following along on my Franklin Covey odyssey and toying with getting one yourself, I highly recommend this binder. It’s gorgeous, functional, impeccably made and the rings are like vice grips.

Perfectly aligned vice grips.

Just sayin’.

Head on over to the new FC group on  Flickr for more photos and as always, I welcome your comments and questions!




Franklin Covey “Giada” Binder Review

Well, my awesome new Compact teal Giada binder from Franklin Covey has arrived and I’ve been using it for a few days now, so it’s time to share her with the world.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter got a bit of a teaser from some photos I posted there and subsequently on the new Franklin Covey Flickr page, but now I am fully “moved in” and am ready to review this baby in full.

Since a lot of you are less familiar with FC binders than you are of some (shall we say) other brands, I will go into a bit more detail regarding materials, construction and the like, as opposed to filling you in on my inserts and system, which you are all probably already well aware of, thanks to my incessant ramblings.

Here we go……………..

The Giada is pebbled Italian leather finished with a vegetable dye (eco-friendly of course), so the color is very saturated and rich. It is available in brown, green, plum and teal, and comes in two sizes, Classic and Compact. You can check out the full specs on the FC website here.

I chose the Compact size in the teal color, which unfortunately fails to photograph in all of it’s cyan glory, but trust me on this, it’s totally gorg-ois!

The front of the binder, closed. I wish the color would come through better….it is beautiful!

A side view

The view from the top.

The inside of the binder before I put my inserts in.

As you can see, there is no fabric interior here…this binder is all leather, all the time. I have other all-leather binders from Franklin Covey that are several years old and they still look like the day they came out of the box. The color doesn’t rub off, nothing rips or tears; these things are built to last.

This binder features 2 pen loops (front and back), an open full length slip pocket inside the front cover, with a slightly smaller zip pocket and a secretarial pocket on top of it. As if that weren’t enough, there are also 4 credit card pockets and an ID window.

More detail of the inside front cover.

The back has the 2nd pen loop, and also two horizontal slip pockets.

The inside back cover.

Franklin Covey’s “Compact” size binders are their medium sized option. The dimensions of the binder itself are 6.13″ wide x 7.5″ tall x 1.3″ deep.  The Compact REFILL pages measure 4.25″ x 6.75″ and have a 6-hole layout similar to a certain British brand.

Generally speaking, the FC Compact size binders comes quipped with 1″ rings (occasionally even 1.25″), so despite the fact that ring size was not mentioned on the website, I was very surprised to see that the Giada has 1/2″ rings.

Ring size comparison: silver FC binder on top with standard 1″ rings. Giada binder in foreground with 1/2″ rings.

Damn near close to 1/2″.

This is what I get for assuming! As I have mentioned previously, with my new job duties, I have been having great success with FC 7 Habits 2 Page per Day inserts, and in a standard 1″ binder I can fit 6 months of these (including the full year of tabbed month on 2 pages that come with the annual refill set), plus some other stuff like notes, reference material and the like. Not a shit-ton (with the To Do list right on the daily page, to be honest I don’t need much else in my binder), but enough.

The new Giada with it’s 1/2″ rings can only accommodate three months of my diary pages along with my other stuff or, four months (the rest of 2012) if I only carry a few note pages as a capture tool and leave it at that.

“Compact” is actually a good descriptor for this particular FC binder, due to it’s smaller ring size.

A deal-breaker? Not really. Optimal? Not quite. My mind is still not made up yet as to whether 3 months will be sufficient…after all, I do have the monthlies for a broad overview…or if I really do need a full half year.

I will say that using this binder is truly a pleasure. The quality is outstanding. While it is obvious that the leather used is extremely high end, the binder is not wimpy or floppy. I have a feeling it will break in splendidly, and look forward to experiencing that, however I know you are all waiting with baited breath to hear this next bit…despite its solid construction and structured feel….IT LAYS FLAT OUT OF THE BOX.

Absolutely, positively FLAT. No training required.

I know right?!

Design-wise it is classically simple. The bold yet balanced shade of teal is certainly it’s most striking feature, however it still looks adequately professional despite being a fun color. Who needs bells and whistles when something is made well and demonstrates quiet elegance, right?

I have carried this binder into several meetings and gotten nothing but compliments on it. Even from men.

So there you have it my peeps. The first of what I predict will be many FC binder reviews. Head over to Flickr for photo notes and I hope you enjoyed this look at the Giada : )


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