“What on earth would I do with a journal?”

What on earth would I do with a journal? Oh to have a penny for every time I've heard that, when the topic of journaling comes up! Does it take an inflated ego and a lot of spare time to journal? In my humble opinion, no. One can take great joy in writing about the "every day"…little things that can make life special. In only a few minutes a day you can record day to day events, what you ate for lunch, what movie you saw, what book you're reading – looking back on it can be a very enjoyable and enlightening experience! I'm particularly referring to tangible journals, bound books that you record your thoughts and life events in.

So do you have a blank book lying around? Don't know what to do with it? Well, here are some ideas to put that blank book to good use... let's start with the most obvious one:

Daily Diary – Chronicle daily thoughts and events; they're such fun to look back on. Things may seem boring and uninteresting now, but it's neat to look back on what you've written in a few years time to see how much has changed (and how much as stayed the same). Keep it in your bag to jot down things as the inspiration moves you. But what if you're not a daily record keeper?...

Recipe Book – A special place to keep treasured family recipes and 'foodie goodness', for generations to come

Photo Journal – Paste in photos that inspire you and/or are important to you, and write about them.

Family History/Genealogy – Turn a journal into a treasured family heirloom, passed down from one generation to the next.

Gratitude journal – Every day, write about things for which you are grateful...even just one thing, daily. Gratitude journals are used by individuals who wish to focus their attention on the positive things in their lives.

Book Log – Write about the books you're reading; discuss plot lines, characters. Praise the good reads and have fun throwing figurative tomatoes at the literary catastrophes!

Baby Book – A place to record baby’s firsts. Makes a beautiful family keepsake.

Friend Journal – Do you have a far away sweetheart, friend or loved one? Why not add your notes to each other to a journal instead of on a piece of paper, and send it to your friend…have them fill out their pages, and send it back…and do so continuously until the book is completed. By the time you're finished, you have a lovely bound collection of your correspondence with each other. (I wish I would have thought of this when hubby and I were dating, long distance!)

Guestbook – A book where friends/family write their name along with some fun notes about their time visiting with you; or of course a wedding or anniversary guestbook too!

Sketchbook – Self explanatory. Many enjoy doing a "sketch a day"… a journal’s a great place for that!

Travel Journal – Whether it be a short jaunt, day trip, or world excursion, write about it and include photos, ticket stubs, maps, etc… you'll cherish the memories and experience for years to come!

Gardener’s Journal – Everyone enjoys the rewards of a good harvest, but the careful planning of the garden and the satisfaction of watching each plant progress, are special joys savored by the gardener alone! A garden journal would be a great place to record gardening triumphs and occasional setbacks.

Wine Journal – What vintage? Was it a good year? Red, white, rose? Desert wine? What was it best paired with? Write it all down in your wine journal!

Bird Watcher Journal – What sort of bird was that? Write it down in a journal.

Fitness Journal – Whether your training for the next marathon, charting weight loss and exercise, or keeping a food log, this is a great way to keep on track and chart your progress!

Taking Notes – Meetings, conventions, or kept in your case/purse to jot down just about anything

Dream Diary – To be kept on your nightstand as a place to track your 'interesting' dreams!

Poetry/Quote Book – A place to collect poems or quotes you enjoy, or write your own.

Other Ideas – Film/movie log, pregnancy journal, small scrapbook, calligraphy book, ship's log

-Beverly Wong-Kleinjan, bookbinder

soap n' stuff

It's funny... for the longest time I've avoided making soap due to the messy monotony of the process. I remember the last time I made it, which was back in 2009. I was busy with my bookbinding and loving it, and the soap (which I was also selling at the time) just seemed like a chore. The final product is fun and absolutely lovely, but getting there was horrendously boring and I hated it. So I just STOPPED making soap, even though I had some supplies left over.

Fast forward to today - well, actually 2 days ago. I made my first batches of soap in three years and I'm amazed to say that I enjoyed it. Perhaps it's due to my current state of mind. It's actually the methodical monotony that I've recently found soothing and somewhat therapeutic. Perhaps like puzzle-making - which I personal find soothing - it's a way for my mind to heal itself somewhat (still dealing with the loss of my Mom).

I made 5 small batches all together:

- Lavender & Oatmeal
- Juniper Berry & Clary Sage
- Sweet Orange with orange peel
- Coconut
- Honey Almond & Oatmeal

I'm planning two more batches, perhaps this weekend: Coconut Lime and Eucalyptus & Lemon with lemon rind. That will use up most of my supplies. Then I'll take a bit of a break from soap-making again... another 3 years? 3 weeks? Who knows. heh.

While I won't be getting back into selling soap (sorry, you soap lovers) - this will definitely restock our own personal supply and keep hubby and I smellin' okay for a while. :)

It was nice to switch gears for a little while and break out of the old routine for a bit.

staycation = work?

Hubby and I try to take a 'stay-cation' about once a month - a weekend that we utilize to "rest up". With our busy lives and various responsibilities (spiritual, volunteer, secular), it's a challenge to keep ourselves feeling refreshed, with energy to give to each other, as well as to others. Like many, we just cannot afford to take a trip whenever the urge arises. Saving up for trips - even small ones - just isn't possible most of the time (too much month at the end of the money?). Thus, stay-cations must suffice.

While I love being home, the challenge of stay-cations, is to spend that time wisely. I find I still struggle with this. A stay-cation obviously means you are spending most of your time at home. This means you are more apt to notice things that need to be done... this also means that you usually end up working your vacation away. Or at least that's what generally happens to us!

If the weather is good during our staycations, hubby is usually outside in his garden or doing things around the house that need 'doing' (he's a very handy guy, which I'm thankful for). And moi? I'm usually working too, but on my journals! I'll admit, it's very difficult to stay away from my 'work' when I'm at home - mainly because I work at home during the week (which can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it). So I'm in the vicinity of my 'workplace'... it's not really conducive to resting, for me. Also, I do enjoy my work a great deal and it fulfills a lot of my creative cravings, you could say. During that time I am constantly brainstorming about new journals and possibilities.

While it's a good sign that I really do love what I do, the challenge is to find balance - I do NEED rest time, and yet I still tend to push myself to work while I'm at home, even if it's not a "work day" for me. After 5 years of being self-employed, I guess I am still striving to strike that balance of WORK vs. PLAY. It's more difficult than I ever would have thought.

Those of you who do 'stay-cations'... how do you strike that balance?

more quotable goodness!

Happy mid-Spring-almost-Summer, everyone! :)

Three new journals... and three new quote pages.

The first one is a journal perfect for that avid Sherlockian in your life, inspired by the world's most famous detective that never existed: Sherlock Holmes! The cover page features a print of an illustration by Sidney Paget who created the original artwork for the Holmes stories appearing in The Strand magazine, coupled with Holmes well-known quote: "...When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth..." I love how the natural oils in the leather have stained the quote page, giving it a time-worn appearance. The book is kept closed with a black elastic, attached through two brass eyelets in the back of the journal. An antiqued brass key embellishment is stitched on the front of the cover.

Next up is a journal featuring the beautiful and motivational quote of Henry van Dyke: "Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." The quote is paired with a print of one of my original graphite drawings of a black-capped chickadee (which I've discreetly signed).

One of my favourite novels, Jane Eyre (1847), inspired my next book... "“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will..." ~ Jane Eyre, by CHARLOTTE BRONTË.