Protect Yourself when Shopping for a Traveler’s Notebook Cover

I belong to twelve different Traveler Notebook related Facebook groups and run an additional one.  Recently there has been a rash of consumers of fauxdori covers being scammed and taken advantage of.  Many of these victims were new users of the traveler notebook. There are probably hundreds of fauxdori vendors on Etsy, and the internet in general, selling20150226_115218 their wares.  There is a much smaller number of craftsmen and craftswomen who create ‘artisanal’ covers – reputable dealers who provide prompt communication, clear ordering instructions, and have a proven track record of sales and satisfied customers.

So what do you do if you are new to the world of TN’s and are overwhelmed by the choices of vendors?  There are a few things you can do ahead of time to lessen the chance that you will be disappointed in the end.

1.  Join Facebook groups related to the TN world.  Often consumers first become aware of an active scam on there when someone posts their negative experience…and others then validate they had the same experience.  The largest groups are: Traveler’s Notebook Forum, Lady Falcon’s Traveler’s Notebooks, Midori Traveler’s Notebook Resources, and the newest addition – Planner Swap Feedback – specifically created to provide a space for buyers to provide feedback on various vendors.   My group is Inserts, Inserts, Inserts – however it doesn’t specifically provide scam info regarding vendors of covers.  Note that all these groups are closed groups so you must join in order to see posts and information.

2.  If you are going to buy a cover off Etsy check these things:  How new is the shop?  Is there information about the shop owner?  How many buyer reviews are there and are they positive?  How new are the buyer reviews?  Have you asked on the various Facebook groups if anyone has dealt with the vendor you are interested in?  When planning your cover, is the shop owner responsive and communicative?  What is the refund policy?  (Custom covers are not normally refunded if you are dissatisfied – especially if you pre-approved the design).

3.  Always pay through PayPal or a credit card as there are dispute processes if you feel something shady is going on or you are being scammed.  Your purchase is protected with these payment methods.

Covers cost anywhere between $20 and up….the upper end being well over $100.  Covers are an investment that those of us in the TN world hope will be well made and stand up to years of service.  TN fans become emotionally attached to their covers.  It pays to take the time to do your research, study and understand what you want, what you are going to use it for, what kind of wear and tear it will get, what material you want it made of, and what size it will be.  The more front end research you do before investing, the happier you will be when that new cover is finally in your hands.

Show Me how to do THAT!

youtube_logo_stacked-vfl225ZTxThe world of traveler’s notebooks looks pretty cut and dry at face value – a chunk of leather with holes and elastic, some little booklets and more elastic.  Not so fast.  The love of traveler’s notebooks is complicated when you really dig your heels in.  It isn’t because that chunk of leather is complicated, it is because of the nature of the TN – you can make it anything you want, you can tailor it to your own life, hobbies, dreams, health needs, school, work, family – literally the TN can hold your life in your hands.

Once you start grasping the full potential of the TN that is when the fun really begins.  So how do you do that…make it your own?   One way is to see how others have done it before you.  With the advent of YouTube, there are hundreds, no thousands of how-to videos regarding aspects of TN supplies and design.  That in itself is a problem because do you really want to sit down and watch a thousand videos on how to make a folder or particular booklet?  Luckily we have Jennifer Faber, who has done the hard work for you!  She has compiled all those videos from various YouTube channels for your viewing pleasure!  You can subscribe to her channel and get the best instructional videos for making your TN your own.  You can also just occasionally visit her channel if you don’t have a YouTube account and don’t want to subscribe.

Not only does her channel have instructional videos but also videos from some of the industry’s most creative artists.  If you want to make your own clear folder, refill, restring your cover, creative challenges for your planner, get ideas on an art booklet, see setups for different size TN’s, comparisons of leathers and so much more.  If you are trying to learn a new skill or see how others do something check out her channel right here.

Next week, I’ll review the many Facebook groups out there – which are a wealth of inspiration and creativity as well.

Giveaway Update….

imagesMy excitement is building!!!  Jetpens (who I LOVE) has so graciously agreed to donate to the giveaway.  No idea what they are sending but whatever it is, it will be good right?  If you aren’t following my blog you must follow in order to be eligible for the drawing.  It’s that easy!  Pictures to follow very soon of the goods for the giveaway.  Giveaway goods include a regular size fabric dori and a big haul from Daiso as well!

This, That, and the Other Thing….

20150326_074305This:  The upcoming giveaway is shaping up.  I can give you a couple hints about it.  First there will be a great regular size fabric dori from Bliss Bag Boutique included, there will also be a great stash of goodies from Daiso plus other fun planner supplies.  Keep checking back as more is revealed.  I want this to be a big giveaway so I’m still compiling parts.

That:  I am putting together an insert trade group.  Here is the premise of the Round Robin Insert Group: everyone starts with their own blank insert. You decide on a theme for your insert, decorate the front and the first page(s). We will have groups of 12 – depending on the interest. (I already have two groups of twelve) Once you are done decorating your first page(s) you send your insert to the next person on your list. They will decorate a page based on YOUR theme.

Each person has up to a month to decorate your page. They will then send your insert to the next person on the list and so on. The club will take a year to complete. You are responsible for paying postage to send the insert to the next person. You must be committed to do this in a timely fashion – I think a month is plenty of time. I will coordinate addresses, put everyone in groups and disseminate the lists once we have the groups set up. You will end up with a start of a really great, individual art journal insert…and lots of ideas for your own! You will only receive one insert a month since there will only be 12 people in your group. I will close sign up on June 10 and start putting together the groups. If you know someone that might be interested let them know about it.  You must have a Facebook account to join the group.  Interested?  Send me a message via my contact on the blog and I’ll add you to the group.

The Other Thing:  Reboot of a Past All-time Popular Post right here

A Huge Giveaway Thank You to all My Followers and Supporters!

I’ve reached a big milestone for my little blog – over two hundred followers.  For a gal in the little happy-smiling-sun-summer-background-happiness-pixmac-clipart-46615343town of Everett, Washington, just plunking away at the keyboard it is a really big deal to me.  I love my blog and appreciate every single one of you who read it.  To thank everyone I am putting together a super fun giveaway to one random follower.  I won’t give away the details just yet but I know you will all like it.  All you have to do to be eligible is follow my blog…nothing else, if you are receiving this email post you are already in!  That was easy wasn’t it?  Why make it complicated?  Life is so complicated right now let’s just keep things simple.  There will be more info to follow…keep your eyes open for it, and thanks again to everyone!

What to put in your Art Journal/Insert when You aren’t “Artistic”

I don’t have a lot of artistic talent when it comes to paint, pen, colored pencils.  I still use them and draw.  What is in my head is never transformed to paper adequately.  However, I have kept what I call an art and inspiration journal for over thirty years.  How do I do that when I don’t have that kind of flare?  I’ve broadened my definition of what is ‘art’ and find inspiration in just about everything.

But first, why bother keeping an art/inspiration journal/insert?  Alan Alda said, “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”  I completely agree with him.  I don’t care how ‘uncreative’ someone thinks they are, everyone can create art, create a personal, unique statement of their perception of the world around them.  Frankly, some of the best stuff comes out of people who always thought they were ‘talentless’ in that regard.  I also believe that being creative every day opens new avenues, trains of thought, opportunities because you allow your mind to go where it normally doesn’t. Additionally, an integral part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.  There is NO such thing as failure when you are creative.  Who is to say your language of creativity is right or wrong?  Now let’s take a look at supplies.

The most popular kinds of supplies for an art journal are stickers, clip art, stencils, washi, project life components, etc.  If you want an extraordinary art journal/insert in your TN, look beyond the common place supplies.  It will take a little bit of extra work but it is totally worth it.  I’m going to list some of the components I’ve used in the past and still use today.  To start, you need base pages.  You can buy blank inserts (there are zillions out there, check out my past posts here and here for resources).  You can also use things like magazine pages, old wall calendars, even book pages.  Remember, your base pages do not need to be white, blank, and pristine, they can already have content on them that you just use as a jumping off point, inspiration…Also, the pages of your insert don’t need to match.  You can have a mixture of different base pages – let your imagination go wild in combining papers – magazine pages, construction paper, an old menu, old greeting cards, calendar pages, wrapping paper, scrap booking paper…If you want to make your own, figure out your TN size, decide how many pages you want in your insert, cut it down, staple or sew it together – and I always recommend a stiffer cover for the insert to protect the insides.  Now let’s look at ideas for supplies to build on those pages.

  1. Paper ephemera – when I say paper ephemera I mean ‘old’. My daughters and I have always loved going to antique 2015-05-25 08.04.39 (1)malls.  One of my favorite things to look for is old papers.  I love any kind of old papers – greeting cards, post cards, old documents, pictures (you would be amazed at how many old photos just seem to be tossed away), old pattern books, children’s books, old magazines and the great thing is most of these kinds of things are very inexpensive because there isn’t much value in them.  I don’t recommend chopping up the first Superman comic book…lol.   Be prepared to sift through stacks of stuff to find what catches your eye.  The search is worth it.
  2. Nature – leaves, flowers, grasses, pressed in to pages. You don’t need to get caught up in making it professional.  Here are some tips for pressing what you find.  Once your findings are pressed and sufficiently dried you can either glue or tape them in your insert.  I use wide, clear packing tape, I just like the way the shiny tape has the effect of a little window on my little piece of natural art.
  3. Wrappers – yes, I said wrappers/food boxes etc. If you really look beyond the thing and search for inspiration in the commonplace, you can find art in anything.  Think about things you use every day…what about that Starbucks paper cup?  That brown Snickers wrapper, soup label, gum wrapper, that expensive chocolate wrapper, wine bottle labels…I think all these pieces of ‘garbage’ can be transformed.  They can make a very personal statement about your day, what you were doing/thinking while sipping the coffee etc.  You don’t have to limit yourself to food wrappers, branch out, look at everything as a potential source of inspiration for your journal.
  4. Old maps – obviously I don’t mean the ancient Strabo maps. Old National Geographic maps, maps you come across on vacations – pieces of these can make great base pages but also can be components for a page if cut in to a shape.
  5. Google images – I use these all the time. I love google images.  I might be doing a beach theme page and want a vintage crab or vintage beach girl.  A simple search will pop up thousands of images.  If I click on the image I want 2015-05-25 08.06.19once, then right click, I can save just the image and then print it out any size I want or need.  (No, I am not addressing copyright laws here because I am not espousing use others images for commercial use, only for your private viewing in your insert.)
  6. Ticket stubs, parking stubs, even receipts – all of these can be little reminders/statements of your day, your life. I believe life is made up of all these little tiny moments and how lovely a thought it is to have a record of them.  Did you go to the beach, pay to park, and pick a little wildflower?  Combine them on a page and talk about your visit.
  7. Magazine images – I do not buy very many magazines. I can count on one hand the number I have bought in the last six months.  The ones I do buy have to do with scrapbooking or paper crafting.  They have great images in them that always find their way on to my pages…
  8. Single sheet wrapping paper – I love World Market and they sell the best single sheet wrapping paper that is usually made of really great paper. The paper is usually very graphically stunning and not expensive.  I think the most I’ve paid for a sheet is $5.99 and the sheets are fairly large.  University book stores often also sell them as well as some crafting stores such as Ben Franklin.
  9. Old family photos – color Xerox favorite photos and use them in your insert, you can shrink/enlarge to fit your pages appropriately.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  Keep your eyes open during the day for potential content for you journal.  Keep an envelope or folder with you to put things in.  Jot little notes on the back of items if you are worried you won’t remember why you saved it.  I’m sure you noticed I haven’t addressed pens, adhesives, stickers, washi etc.  This wasn’t the place for that conversation.  I wanted to help you think outside the box for content inspiration.  These suggestions will help you focus on the ‘reason’ for that page you are putting together.  There are no rules for an art journal/insert, follow your longings, experiences, dreams and put them down on paper.  Creating little vignettes of your days is what this is all about and everything you use in the course of your day is potential inspiration for content.

Again, do not be afraid to just jump in and put your page together.  You cannot fail, you can’t make it wrong.  What is in your heart and soul, put on to paper, is never able to fail.  It will be beautiful, symphonic and even epic because it will be a snapshot of your life.

Hacked my old Franklin Covey and turned it in to a TN – FCTN

Sitting in the back seat of my car for months was my old Franklin Covey planner.  It was a personal size that I purchased many years ago.  It was still in immaculate shape with yummy black soft leather, lots of pockets, two pen loops, a back zipper pocket……………..and rings.  I’m not a ring girl anymore, absolutely addicted to the TN model.

I happened to be looking at my Instagram feed the other day and @3littlesmiles showed a picture of her ringed planner she hacked and turned in to a TN.  It was a eureka moment and I thought I could do it with the old FC.  I ran down to my car and got it out.  I had forgotten that the ring assembly on this particular planner slid out, no need to remove the rivets or screws.

Then I took my super sharp pair of little scissors and after figuring out where I wanted holes for the strands I poked four holes at the top and four at the bottom, then a hole at either end two inches from the edge (for elastics).  It took a little experimenting to strand four holes.  I did it that way to have more room to put inserts in since the planner is about 13″ width open.  I’m glad I did that, I’m using almost all the strands with the exception of the knot strand.  Below are pictures of the finished product full.  I took blank inserts and blank books I had and made them fit in the planner and took some clear sleeves I had from a half size ring binder I had and converted them into clear pockets for stickers etc.  If you are thinking about hacking your ringed planner and the rings are riveted in, check out this video which will show you how to remove them if they aren’t set with screws

20150514_120450 20150514_09454420150514_094455 20150514_09444720150514_094527 20150514_120645 20150514_120637 20150514_120627 2015-05-14 15.38.08

When You want to easily move Pages around in your TN

I am always looking for easier, quicker, more efficient ways to do things.  I wanted a way to occasionally move a running list around in my TN.  In my previous post I talked about this hack briefly but I thought I would take a minute and expand on it. I’ve taken the large 6 x 8 post it pads and trimmed them to the size of my TN.  (See picture of untrimmed red pad and trimmed blue pad).  For example I have lists for an upcoming training I am doing (pictured) and I will be referring to these lists a lot in the next few weeks.  These lists are from a spreadsheet and I’ve printed them and cut them down and glued them on to the post its.  As training gets closer I’ll move them to my calendar pages.  For now they are living in my work insert.  I made 20150512_111038sure to buy the super sticky notes so I know they will stay (which they do).  Just another way to my my TN more user friendly.  20150512_110848 20150512_110858

Necessity is the Mother of Invention ~ 21 Hacks for your TN

I think we all agree with the title to this post.  One of the wonderful things about necessity is that it forces us to look at things from a different perspective as to solve a problem or create something we need that doesn’t already exist.  crow-and-pitcherThat is where this list comes in – hacks.  Many of these hacks you probably already know if you are an old buffalo in the TN world but maybe some of you are new and these will help you hack your TN.   I pieced together, from my own ideas to many wonderful blogs out there, a selection that may make your planner world happier place.

  1. Double up your elastics for a tighter closure on your TN.  Need more elastics?  Check out this shop on Etsy. There are dozens of other shops and many TN shops also sell it.
  2. Cover a binder clip with washi, add leather and create a movable pen clip that can be a placeholder as well. I use one of mine to hold my place in my weekly calendar.
  3. Cut the large post-its tablet in to a TN size pad. I used an exacto knife and straight edge and made sure I purchased the super sticky notes.  Now you have movable pages in your TN.
  4. Fold a clear document sleeve in half for a clear pocket.
  5. Loop leather or cord through top strand elastic for a place marker, tie the ends with charms.
  6. Always check your favorite planner/supply shops and see if they have blogs or Instagram accounts.  Often they will have specials and giveaways that they will only advertise on them but not on their shop site.  Don’t have an Instagram account?  It is very easy to set one up here.
  7. Use graph paper to make inserts, cut to size and use card stock for cover to make it more durable.
  8. Don’t have graph paper? Go to and print your own for free.
  9. Use templates and file folders to make TN folders. I like double stick tape as my adhesive.
  10. Cut file folders to use as covers for inserts, they are durable and come in a zillion designs.
  11. Make an ArtDori with Peerless watercolor sheets, water brush pens and watercolor paper.
  12. Take #10 size envelopes, cut various lengths and stack, using double stick tape for adhesive. Trim the base envelope to 8.5″.  You have instant storage.  Use double stick tape to stick to the back inside of an insert.
  13. Use washi tape to section off Hobo style insert pages.
  14. Use a passport wallet for portable supply storage. Want a cute, inexpensive way to carry supplies?  Check out Forever 21’s makeup bags and brush wallets.
  15. Color code pages by edging them with different color washi’s.
  16. Try using a bullet or symbol system in your TN for your calendar, notes, to-do list. Linked is Ray Blake’s FREEBIE!
  17. Put a note in the beginning of your book that you will give a reward if your TN is found and the way you would want someone to contact you if they found it.
  18. Create a mindmap when you need to brainstorm. They are fun to do, beautiful and function and functional.
  19. Create and keep a list of abbreviations in an insert that are specific to your family, life and work. Soon you will have your own shorthand.
  20. Use a binder clip as a pen holder this way.  Take off the wire parts to make it more streamline.
  21. Need tear-out sheets for some reason? Get a rotary perforator like this to make tear-out pages.  You can perforate the pages on the long edge, then in smaller sections horizontally.

If you have your own hacks…please share them in comments for everyone!

Paper Weights and Uses

The Paper Mill Store has a nice chart on their site for understanding paper weight.  You can find it here.  I generally use a 65 lb cardstock to cover inserts.  If I have an insert that will be in my TN a long time I will either go with an even heavier weight or I will laminate the cover.  Hope this helps end some confusion!

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