Around the turn of the year, while others were coming up with their New Year’s Resolutions, I was busy reflecting on my blog and brainstorming a list with post ideas and topics I’d like to write about in 2015.

Some already went with a time plan when they should be published. For one clear insight and one resultant resolution came out of this reflecting process: In the past, more often than not, it took me way too long to write up seasonal posts (particularly my Halloween posts). When they eventually did come out, the season was mostly already over, so the interest in those posts was understandably lower than it might have been.

My second resolution for this new year, next to being more creative, therefore: I’d like to get to a point where I manage to upload seasonal posts during their respective season.

That was the idea thus far. But how to get myself to adhere to this plan? I’ve developed some interest in the topic of time and self management in the past year because I became more and more frustrated with more and more projects that I just couldn’t finish. I found a lot of cool and helpful tips and tricks, but I find that many of them just don’t really work for me for longer than a week or two.

I was rather happy with all the ideas that the brainstorming session had brought. However, during the following days, the feeling grew that just writing them down like this was not enough.

I started thinking: But how do I keep track? How do I know what topic is due when? How do I stay aware of it in advance so I’ll be able to start working on posts way ahead in order to finish them on time?

And how do I organize all my notes on one topic? My refillable travel notebook

I realized that my current refillable travel notebook was just not enough for this purpose because …
a) it is already quite thick with signatures and no way would 12 more signatures for each month fit in, and
b) it is hard to keep the required order because the signatures are all loose in there and I couldn’t leaf through and get an overview over what needed to be done.

Which was when I came across this awesome 2015 Monthly Calendar Project. This desk calendar – very artfully – offers inspirational quotes to motivate its creator to blog regularly.

I instantaneously loved the idea, but knew that my above-mentioned problems required a different solution. But it did spark an idea: a calendar-like notebook with space for writing and some inspirational quotes for each month.

I wanted something of approx. A6 size because at the moment I have a very small handbag, which is too small for an A5-sized notebook. So I could actually carry it with me all the time. It was supposed to have a signature for each month with enough space to write notes into for each topic. And of course the topics had to be in there somehow clearly organized and in order.

So much the idea, but how to implement it?

The Inside Pages

The beginning was easy enough. I knew I needed one signature for each month. January was almost over when I started, but I decided to prepare a January signature for the upcoming year.

I used my usual 60g A4 copy paper and cut enough pages in half to get 12 signatures of 4 sheets each. Fold them in half using a bone folder. You’ll need 12 signatures, one for each month.

The Cover

But how to do the cover? The only thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to use any kind of hardcover this time. And, of course, that it had to be easily refillable.

I thought about it a long time and suddenly remembered a great bookbinding video by Sea Lemon I’d watched a while ago: How to Make a Traveler’s Notebook. Brilliant! I’d wanted to try this out some time anyway, and this was my chance. Half the material I needed I had at home…

  • Faux leather (vinyl)
  • Double-sided iron-on adhesive

The other half I had to go buy …

  • nicely patterned scrapbook paper and
  • colorful elastic cord (1-2 mm)

and while I was browsing my local art supply shop for those things, I came across those nice-looking

  • self-adhesive rhinestones for cards

and got some in a color that matched the scrapbook paper to decorate the cover with. 🙂

So let’s get started!

Use your pile of signatures to measure out how big you’ll need to cut the vinyl and cut it. I like to use a roller cutter for this kind of thing because it makes smoother and straighter edges. But I’m as hopeless with scissors as I’m with a drawing pen. 🙂

Make sure to use thicker vinyl. I had some quite thin one lying around but found it isn’t ideal for this purpose because there’s a lot of stress on the cover. You’ll want the vinyl to be adequately sturdy.

Now measure the scrapbook paper and the iron-on adhesive accordingly (make sure no adhesive stands over because it might glue to your ironing board!).

First, iron the adhesive to the back (the fabric side) of the vinyl, then remove the separating paper and iron on the scrapbook paper. I really recommend watching Sea Lemon’s video. She explains all this really well. Here she advises to iron each area for about eight seconds at medium heat and that worked perfectly well.

Straighten the edges and, if you like, you can round the corners as well.

Fold it in the middle – just lightly with your hand.

I was super excited because this project was also the first time I got to use my screw punch. This thing is so amazing!

It works really well, but make sure to put some spare paper (a larger pile or a sheet folded several times) under your project when you screw punch the holes to avoid punching holes in your cutting mat as well! Those little buggers are really sharp.

Measure from the outside edges on the “spine” 1/2 inch, from that on 1 inch, then mark the middle. Then screw punch your holes there.

Get 1-2 mm elastic cord. I accidentally bought 3 mm cord and all I can say is: make sure you don’t! Get the thinner one. 3 mm is just too thick (I had to punch a second hole in the middle just to get the folded cord through) and it is just not elastic enough. It will damage your cover and will be very hard to put over the side to close the book.

Layouting the Cover Sheets for Each Month

Then the layouting work on the computer starts (of course, if you’re artistically talented – which I’m not – you can also draw something here).

I found nicely layouted month names, pictures fitting the month/season and a number of motivating or inspiring quotes on writing.

With those, I created one cover page for each month and printed it out on paper. I’d recommend printing these colorful pages on thicker paper (e.g. 80g) because it might not look so good on thin paper and some printers seem to have problems with it. It’s no problem to have some slightly thicker pages in there.

Make sure to print the pages 4 on 1 (when using A4) with a blank page on the left always because you’ll want it to be in the right place once you fold the sheet.

Add the cover pages as a first sheet to your signatures. You now have 18 pages to scribble on. If that’s not enough for you, just use 1-2 sheets more. Now bind the signatures together.

Since the travel notebook as it is can hold 3 booklets, I bound three stacks of 4 months each together.

Put the bound booklets into your traveler’s notebook. Et voilà!

Cover Decoration

With the self-adhesive rhinestones, I decorated the cover a little bit. Originally, I planned to write a bit more, but found that the stones were too big to write longer words. So I just wrote my name on there. This is the final result:

So far, I like this solution a lot. Two tips, though:

1) Use stronger vinyl than you would for wrapping a hardcover and 2) use a very thin and very elastic cord. Otherwise the notebook won’t look good for long.

Of course, if you want to make your own calendar notebook, you can bind it in any way you like. You can use different sizes or binding techniques. But I find this travel notebook solution very handy for the single reason that I can update it as time passes. When a booklet is used up, I can replace it with the next few months and already have those to work on in advance. And I don’t carry around used-up booklets that I don’t need anymore.

Let’s see how it works out in the long run and whether it’ll really get me to organize my blogging better. 🙂

Happy crafting and blogging, people!