:7/30:

A super busy day today, most of it spent chauffeuring the kids. Now I’m taking the time to work on my journal. I’m doing my first urban sketch of Uncommon Threads, the local yarn store near one where they have an activity. I get a blissful couple of hours, hanging out with other knitters and drooling over the new shipments. Here’s the unfinished page:

I’ve figured out that I am not going to make it to the end of the month in my current Bullet Journal, so I went ahead and set up my Traveler’s Company notebook. I can at least start the art journal there before the calendars get put into use.

:3/30:

One of the new things I have decided to do is to begin sketch journaling. There are a few things which prompted me to start one. I have always, always, always been fascinated by journals which include drawing. I love seeing those old travel journals and artist sketchbooks of victorians. I love sketchbooks that incorporate ephemera and photographs in with the writing. But I really do not consider myself an artist.

To say I was never really encouraged to express of pursue any kind of creativity is an understatement. Coupled with an almost crippling self-doubt, I never did the things I wanted. It took decades and an uber-supportive husband (and watching my Breezy blossom as an artist) to give myself permission to try.

I also found this amazing artist. Her name is Samantha Dion Baker and she is a graphic designer and illustrator from New York City. I first found her on Pinterest. It turns out she is mostly on Instagram (Yes, I broke my self-imposed IG ban to look at her work!) It was beautiful. I also found out she has written an inspirational book on starting sketch journaling. I ordered it right away. It was so worth it!

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This book has prompted me to start sketch journaling in my bullet journal. I had finished the lined journal I was using, So I jumped into it on November 1st. Here are the first two pages:

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One of the things that really called to me about how Samantha Dion Baker does hers is that she focuses on the beauty of the mundane in her life.

At that point I decided not to just draw random sketches, but to use the pages to draw a true record of my life. I thought, Instead of writing out my day for may journaling practice, why not illustrate it?             (Draw Your Day, page 3)

She can turn a piece of fruit or a tin of tea or a the bodega on the corner into a beautiful record of her life. Her book took the intimidation out of sketch journaling.

I also realized that the long-hand written journals I have are not anything I want my kids or Doug EVER reading. They are filled with a log of anxiety and worry and fear and anger. Page after page of it.

I have ordered the three of them to burn any handwritten journals they find, unread upon my death.

Pretty grim.

I don’t even want to ever read them again. Those books represent hours of my life, and I am ashamed to share them with anybody. 

I know now I do better focusing on positive. Plus I really do want a record of my life to pass down.

So now I am going to throw myself into documenting my days in my journal. Doug got me the a brown Traveler’s Company notebook. I’ll be moving my planning over to it in December (though it is already here and I am so tempted to start now!) I have a few pages left in my current bullet journal, so I will finish out November there. But I am on day three of art journaling, and really, really loving it.

:Lamy Al-Star:

So, here she is in all her glory. I’m pretty sure long-time fountain pen aficionados are laughing at me gushing over a starter pen. I don’t care. I love her. After leaving Maido I went to one of my local Starbucks, and did my morning pages using the Lamy. (That’s where I took all these photos. I’m sure everyone there was looking at me like I was daft.)


I found the weight of the pen to be a real factor in how I hold it. It actually makes it easier to hold it in the “proper” grip with the barrel resting in front of the knuckle of my index finger. I believe this is called the calligrapher’s grip. It is the grip described in the Spencerian theory book.

That extra fine nib also lends itself to my natural writing style. I write very small, and most gel pens are too thick to make the writing legible. You can also see why I’m attempting to learn better form for cursive. My n, m, u, i, and even r all look the same. If I wrote the word minimum, all you would see is a bunch of Us strung together.

I have not yet used it in my penmanship practice, as I am just enjoying it and getting to know it. Unfortunately, the cartridge in the pen was blue ink. The salesperson in Maido thought it was black. So, I am trying to use it up as quickly as I can, because I am definitely a black ink kinda girl. I’m sure there is a way to take it out and switch to the  converter and black ink I bought, but I need to do some more research before I do that, and I just have not had the time. The last thing I want is to be covered in blue ink.

:first trip to Maido:

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Over the weekend, I got some me time and I made a trip to Maido in San Jose. Doug gifted me with my first real fountain pen for my birthday this month, and I wanted to actually try some before I bought one.

Being the obsessive researcher that I am I had narrowed it down to the Lamy Al-Star. I could have ordered one online, but I wanted to actually feel the pen in my hand, so off I went to the only place in town where I could try one.

I had never been to Maido, but I’ve been wanting to go for a while.

Oh. My.

I geeked out over everything in that store. It’s not very big, but it is packed wall-to-wall with anything the stationary obsessed could want. There were stickers, journals, planners, notebooks, brush pens, gel pens, everything! I was in heaven.

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I could have spent hours in that store.

I got to see the Traveler’s Notebooks from the original Traveler’s Company. There were so classy and tempting. Unfortunately, I have a new bujo, so I am not willing to make that kind of an investment until I’m near the end of my current notebook.

One of the store employees helped me try the different nib sizes on the Lamy pens. I had to dip them since they do not keep any cartridges in the tester pens. I had never dipped a pen and my experience writing with any fountain pens is limited, so I found dipping awkward. Even so, the Lamy felt really good in my hand, and my tiny writing definitely called for the extra fine nib. I ended up picking a purple pen.

I went ahead and bought a converter and a bottle of black ink instead of more cartridges. I get the feeling this pen and I are going to get to know each other very, very well.

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I’ll show her off in another post.

:my mornings:

Mornings are my favorite time of day. I love when I can be up before anyone else. Just a cup of coffee, a pen and my journal. I spill my heart onto those pages. Dreams, desires, hopes, fears. Everything comes out through the tip of my pen. There is no censure, no judgement, no fears allowed in this space.

At first, with my brain still groggy from sleep, the words don’t come easily. They are stubbornly out of reach. Still, I put pen to paper and write.

Some mornings it only takes half a page for the words to start coming to me. Others, I’ll be well into the second page before I feel myself relax into the writing. I don’t think I’m ever aware of the moment when I stop hunting for the words and they just come to me.

Solitary mornings are rare for me, since my husband also tends to wake early, but I cherish the ones I do get.

:january 2018 zentangle challenge

In the past my drawing efforts have been sporadic at best. I’ll do a big piece and then I won’t touch my pens for months. So, to go with my word for the year, I am doing a daily drawing challenge in my bullet journal this year. this is my first effort. Unfortunately, I did not start it until I came back from my trip to Florida, thus the crossed out days.

This month I am going to try a more free-form format. I may not always do zentangles, as I want to start doodling and drawing in other styles as well.

We’ll see how that works out.