Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Need heavier paper than Moleskine

I need it!! Re-vamping set-up (of course) and realized part of my dissatisfaction with current system is that the pages of my Moleskine cahiers are so darn thin that I feel restricted to one side of the volume because of all the bleed thru. It makes it very hard to review/re-read if I use both sides.

Anyhoo, yesterday I started using a Clairfontaine spiral bound 5x8 (approx?) notebook I had in my stash and felt relief in the opacity of the pages. It politely supports my Varsity disposable fountain pen and my Pilot G-2 and my fat Papermate Velocity 1.6, discretely confining each to its own page.

Thank you, and good night.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New DayRunner monthly/weekly bound planner in my Ativa Mobil-IT padfolio

My current get-up.

I love my Ativa Mobil-IT padfolio. It holds my large Moleskine cahier and a DayRunner planner (brand-new additon, we'll see how long that lasts). I've been using it for almost the whole month of June to carry my daily planner (the cahier) and I love it. It's durable and holds paper/letters in the external front pocket. You can stick a business card in the slit on the front, too. I got it at Office Depot.


Here it is from the side, with my three pens/pencils. It holds the weekly/monthly planner, the cahier, and a notepad at the back. And it closes easily, I don't have to force it. The latch is very easy to open/close, yet is secure. It looks really big in this photo, but it's not!


I like having it open in the car on the seat next to me with the notepad showing. I jot stuff down and then funnel those notes to the appropriate places later on - that day, or days later!

The following photos, below, focus on the features of my new fuschia DayRunner. BTW, yes, it is stitched binding and lays open easily!


Note that I've hacked the padfolio. I used a seam-ripper and removed the useless and bumpy cellphone holder (too small) and the two pen holders (one on the left middle, one from the interior spine). This padfolio rocks because it has two vertical slits which allow me to carry two planners. Most padfolios have no or only one vertical slits.



I LURVE the large writing areas for both the monthly and weekly views, and unlined!! The weekly view has room for a small square post-it near the top to post a monthly goal (which may need to be carried over to the next month). Note that I can find my place easily with both the ribbon and the elastic band.


I've taken it out of the padfolio to show you all the features.




The following pages are at the back of the planner. There are three pages for notes. Not a ton of extras, which works for me because it keeps the book slim. The planner goes from July through the end of June for the weekly views, and through the month of July 2012 for the monthly views.



I think this could be a good page to plan out monthly goals. I wouldn't use it for bdays or anniversaries because I have a perpetual calendar on the fridge for that.





And here are some sample pages from my cahier. I date all the pages for one month and then fill them in one day at a time. I love having lots of space to write whatever I want for that day. It frees my mind. The x's in the boxes mean the task has been done; a horizontal line through the box means it wasn't done and I've moved it to another day. These pages can get very crowded!




Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vanity sizing on belt from Express

A couple of days ago I purchased a belt from Express. I wasn't sure if I should get a medium or a small, but went with the medium since I wear my jeans below my waist and since I just can't wrap my brain around the idea that I wear a small, even though I have some shirts and jackets labeled 'small'. I always figure it's vanity sizing. At 5'8", 143 pounds, I am not a small woman.

I tried on the new belt at home with my jeans and it was too big. I then pulled out my well-worn fifteen-year-old belt from Express and laid it on the bed next to the new one. It's shorter than the new belt. And it's a size large. The hole I use on the old belt, fourth from the end, lines up with the very last (tightest) hold of the new belt.

Good thing I kept my receipt.

Belt labels

Belt lengths

Belt holes

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Printable monthly calendars with VARIABLE SIZES!

Okay, so I haven't posted in nine days. I couldn't manage long-winded posts and real-life responsibilities for an extended period of time.

Here I am, spent, kaput, on the couch and out of steam. Sometimes I have to tap out and throw off the mantle of Superwoman. I'll pick it up again tomorrow but FOR NOW, I have to recuperate for just a little while, for just one evening. Part of my R & R, of course, involves visualizing the perfect planning system. Ah, I love spending time in the realm where absolutely no one is affected by my steps or missteps except for me, a place where calm flickers tantalizingly near, materializing momentarily through the fog of things left undone.

So, here's where I'm at right now (literally, I just printed out March and am going to fiddle with the squares to see if they are big enough): I've come across many calendar print-out sites, but this is the first one I've seen (or noticed) that offers multiple size formats - bitchen! And you can change the font, the number justification and size, etc. Very cool. I just printed out to add to my Quo Vadis Minister.

That's it. I wanna go play some more.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An app for organizing and an app to literally save your life

I'm not a big app person. I'm old and busy, so I don't spend a lot of time messing around with them (I have other things I'm already committed to spending a lot of time messing around with), but I have a handful on my Blackberry and I'd like to share two of them with you. They are Lister and BuddyGuard, respectively.

One of the reasons my Filofax is so slim is that I gave up on the idea of using it to hold all my lists. I hate using my Blackberry for my calendar - I like to see my appointments in print, and to be able to leaf through the pages - but it serves beautifully as a place to store random, sporadically-reviewed, lists. To this end, I use Lister. You can sort by alpha order, drag-and-drop, create sublists, and send your entire list to yourself or others via email for when you want to print or share. Here are a few examples of my not-so-critical list-making:
  • Clothing Stores - places to shop when/if I ever get time
  • Son's Birthday Party - Invite List
  • iTunes - songs I want or might like
  • Pack - In carry on
  • Pack - In suitcase

Et cetera, et cetera. The defining characteristic of all of these lists is that THEY ARE NOT TIME-SENSITIVE. I prefer all time-sensitive items to be on paper.

So, thumbs up for this app. I got mine at the Blackberry App World.

Now. CHECK. THIS. OUT. It's an incredible app called BuddyGuard. It's freaking amazing and I want to push it on everyone, especially women. Not only can it protect your phone, it can protect YOU.

After installing the app and setting up the contact preferences and password, you will be able to control your phone at a distance. In other words, if you lose your phone, head to your computer, or borrow a friend's phone, and send your phone an email or text message. A single line, "bg-lock [password]" will lock down your cell and display a message requesting that the finder contact you. They'll even be able to press a button to call you, but that's the only number they can call. You can also retrieve an almost exact location via GPS that displays online using Google maps. Accuracy is within five meters. I've tested it and it returned the actual address of my location!

All of that is GREAT, but the thing that really blows my mind is the option to program one of the function keys on your phone - for instance, the button on the left edge of the phone - to set off a panic alarm by pressing the button five times in a row. Activating the panic button will send emails and/or texts to whomever you've listed in your BuddyGuard contacts. You even have the option to automatically notify 911. The sent message notifies the recipients that you are in an emergency situation (you can edit the text during the set-up process) AND will send your location. THIS IS INCREDIBLE! You can bet that if I find myself in suddenly-iffy circumstances I will have one hand on the button and one hand ready to excavate eyeballs with my keys. That's only if the best option, getting the hell out of there, is no longer on the table. A knee to the groin and an instep stomp are always proper etiquette in these types of situations, as well. This is the best time for a proper lady to go ape-shit.

And, please, remember to ALWAYS have your phone within close reach while driving. If you are in an accident in a remote area, especially a single-car accident, you may not be able to fully operate your phone due to injuries or lack of a signal, or because of a dead or dying battery. Sending a text or email takes less juice than a phone call, and the benefits of being able to call for help by repeatedly pressing a single button if you are injured are obvious.

I removed the 911 option and then notified my contacts before I tested the panic button! You can also choose to just send to yourself during testing, but I wanted my contacts to see what they would receive if, god forbid, I ever had to call for help.

I shelled out $3.99 for the Pro version. A life can't be valued much less than that. Found it at Blackberry App World, as well.

If you have an app you adore, let me know! And if you've had any success or disappointment with either of the two apps I listed, or have found a superior replacement, I would love to hear about it. Oh! And puh-leeeze let me know if there's an iPhone or Android equivalent to BuddyGuard.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


Although this post deviates from the usual microscopic examination of paper as an organizing tool, it does deal with organizing principles at the macro level of our lives and so I hope you find it an acceptable addition to the current genre of this blog.

My DH often sends me links to heart-wrenching articles to inform my day. I think it's difficult for him to read them, and I would rather not read them myself, but I do as a way to bear witness with him. Yesterday he sent me a link to an article on the devastating earthquake in New Zealand.

He's not a morbid person. I think he reads these stories as a way of reinforcing fundamental characteristics which constantly inspire me. He has an acutely developed appreciation for all the good that is already a part of his life - his family, his/our health - and he rejects materialism as a source of satisfaction.

He has his priorities straight, his house is in order. The article he sent me yesterday reminded me of how important that is.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Here's how I use my Urban Filofax - Part Two

As a follow-up to the post that started this blog, I wanted to let you know that I re-vamped my pocket-sized Filofax Urban Slate Pocket Organizer - FF-024463. Being new to ring binders, I found that my long-held uneasiness with ring binders re-surfaced after gray reality dissipated the honeymoon glow. To wit:

  1. I don't like writing on pages with rings. It's awkward, especially on the verso.
  2. I felt I could lose the pages, as if they would rip out with use or go astray during storage. I'm rough on material objects and I was unsettled by the fragility of the system.
  3. I don't like the idea of being tied to the Filofax as a long-term wallet. I DO like using it as my wallet right NOW, but I'm a serial monogamist with my wallets and foresee a break-up in our future. I've been wracking my brain devising a way to split things into easily reassembled components, components that could live in different environments as a unit.

To that end, I stripped the innards of the FF, pulling all calendar and planning pages, leaving only index cards and two inconsequential tabbed categories.

Stripped down filofax.

The index cards are the most important part of my Filo. They are THE reason why I carry a pocket-sized ring binder. I've tried numerous index-card-carrying methods, and I like this the best. They are easily accessible and protected during travel. I write on them all the time - in the car, standing in line at stores, etc. I just move the tab each time I use a card so I can always flip right to an empty one.

I put my beautiful, Japanese planner pages in storage - *sob* - and finally bought one of those AT-A-GLANCE Recycled Weekly Planner, 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 Inches, Black, 2011 (70-035-05).

Pocket monthly open

I've wanted one for years but thought it was too small but, now that I can restrain myself from writing with a paintbrush, it serves my purposes perfectly. I LOVE it. Adore the rounded corners, unlined blocks of space, and spiral binding. Gosh. Gush. It slips right into the front of my filo and slips out, too, for ease of writing. [Note - I carry four or five post-its stuck to a credit card; also, I started utilizing an idea I recently came across of inserting a tarot card in a plastic sleeve ].

At-a-glance monthly inserted into slit pocket

The weekly calendar fits into the billfold of another wallet I already have. If (when) I switch wallets, I might use the Oxford At-Hand Notecard Case, referred to in an earlier post. Or I might have to buy a LEATHER Filofax as my new wallet. Have to.

I'm still using my Moleskine Plain Cahier Journal Kraft Pocket: set of 3 Plain Journals to plan each day and I'm LOVING IT. They are just like me - messy, dirty, colorful, flexible, ambitious and near tears, yet very functional and effective. I can change the layout daily, as I please. The At-A-Glance weekly planner keeps me on track. It's just like my husband - clean, tidy, and conveying only what's necessary.

Now I just stick the cahier in the billfold. I got tired of messing around with the clip I used to use to hold it against the inside back cover. So what if it sticks out a little? And do you like the teeny little re-placeable tab in the cahier? I love those Avery tabs, they are so durable and useful. I bought mine at Office Max.

In addition to this all-in-one wallet/weekly planner/daily planner/index card holder/pen holder/pencil holder, I carry a PaperBlanks notebook.

Paperblanks journal

It is so beautiful, the picture doesn't really do it justice. Here's a close-up:

Paperblanks journal cover - detail

It's what I use when I want to write AT LENGTH, and without a keyboard. My Varsity disposal fountain pen is a joy to use on the heavy pages - bleed-thru is negligible. I'm hankering for the Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen Assorted Ink 7-Pack Pouch. Some other month.

So this, plus my phone and lip balm, is what I put in my purse before I leave the house, and take out of it when I return.

Ready to go.

With these few items, I'm good to go, ready to respond to any phone call or email. More importantly, I'm primed for some alone time at a cafe.

P.S. Here's how I store my index cards and my abandoned Filofax inserts. I bought mine at Office Depot. It's just like this one at Amazon - Globe-Weis Fiberboard Index Card Storage Box - but a different color. FF pages are at the back of the box, after the first tab. I have partially-used one-day-per-page inserts, two types of one-week-per-page, one one-week-per-two-pages, and two types of one-month-per-two-pages... all abandoned!! The gray-blue, goldenrod, and gray tabs came with the Urban FF but were so dreary I yanked them immediately. Most of the index cards in this box are blank, just a few at the front are written on.

Here it is closed:

Index card and pocket filofax pages storage - exterior

And opened:

Index card and pocket filofax pages storage - interior

That's all for today's "Report on Office Supplies in Excruciatingly Painful Detail". Thank you, and good night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A custom stamp for my x-small moleskine to tracking daily physical self-care

Hiya, I'm back. I got hit by one of those gnarly colds that comes around every two or three years. Darkening your doorway, unannounced, it whacks you in the head with it's carry-on, steps over your felled body, then puts its feet on the couch and commandeers the remote for days on end. It arrived on Thursday and is just now making sounds indicating a reluctant departure is imminent.

Recently I purchased an Moleskine 2011 12 Month Daily Planner: Dark Pink Hard Cover X-Small because, like a two-year-old, it radiates CUTE and PICK ME UP, HOLD ME! Yes, you can eyeball Laurie at Plannerisms as the most likely suspect in prompting this purchase.

Every object must have a purpose, so I decided , with a smug sense of cleverness, that this teeeeeny notebook might serve as a microscopic tracker of information I've had scattered about in multiple, larger, notebooks. To wit, physical activities, choices and conditions which affect my health and energy level. These, of course, affect my sense of well-being and self-confidence. I try to optimize both as a the basis from which all other activity flows.

First, a pic of the moleskine:

Moleskine extra-small, cover

This thing is TINY and ADORABLE. It feels great in the hand. Now here's the stamp:

3 x 3 custom stamp

I ordered it through Go to 'art-mounted stamps' and select your desired size. Mine was a 3" x 3" stamper. I created the image in Adobe Elements and then uploaded it to the site. Rubberstamps did a great job, I'm very pleased with the actual stamp and the turnaround time was quicker than I expected. Here it is from the top (it has a black, wooden, handle):

3 x 3 custom stamp viewed from above

And, now, here it is in use in the pink moleskine, for which it was designed (note the bleed-thru; imperfection reigns):

Moleskine extra-small w/custom stamp

Here is an explanation of the categories:

  1. Calories
  2. And, of course, shortly after this stamp arrived I decided to stop counting calories, at least for now; more on that another day.
  3. Offs
  4. Meaning days I eat foods not on the 'legal' list of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which I've followed for four years. It is a real godsend in combating a chronic disease with which I'm afflicted.
  5. Sleep
  6. Number of hours.
  7. Alcohol
  8. Obvious.
  9. Exercise
  10. More obviousness.
  11. Pain
  12. I was born in 1962 so I'm on the wrong side of forty.
  13. Pre-hab
  14. Measures I take to improve chronic, recurring, or cameo appearances of pain. I have the attention span of a gnat and need to remind myself that, YES, there is a correlation between using my SpinalStretch and reducing the intense pain I feel along my right, IT band!
  15. IBD
  16. Symptoms of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease flare. I have Ulcerative Colitis, one of the two IBD diseases (the other being Crohn's). This is why I follow the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Disease). Dx'ed in 1996. What a nightmare, prior to SCD. Now it's just very hard, but not a living hell.
  17. Mood
  18. Track as a way to see the correlation between mood and behavior and vice versa.

My hope is that tracking these behaviors will automate them, positively, to the point I no longer have to track them. It's a type of behavior modification. However, even if I have to use this current approach FOREVER, it's a short form and beats the pages-long journal writing I used to do to get to this point.

I've been using it like this for a few days, but found the space too cramped (very little room to write any extra bits and pieces I may want to add) and I dislike having to track/carry/remember/reach for yet-another notebook as part of my organizing arsenal. Reluctantly, I'm abandoning the pink moleskine - sacrifices must be made. Instead, I'm incorporating the stamp into my messy, dirty, Moleskine Plain Cahier Journal Kraft Pocket: set of 3 Plain Journals which I use as a daily planner (pulling the bones each day from my weekly planner). Here's a pic of the controlled chaos:

Moleskine pocket cahier as a daily planner and new custom stamp

You can see that I pulled out an old date-stamp and played with that, too. It took me awhile to realize that I had stamped '2017' instead of '2011'.

For now, I'm going with this. It's not such a bad little Christmas tree, after all.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Planner mania and the Quo Vadis Minister

Mid-way (I hope) through a bad cold, no enthusiasm for extolling the value of a consumer good, per my usual posts.

This morning, as I slowly adjusted from sleep to waking, a thought skittered through my brain, "Oh, no! Another day of obsessing over planners!" I've been infected by planner-mania for the last four months to a degree I've never felt before, partially due to the fact that I decided to let this preoccupation of mine run it's course, rather than forcing it into hiding with a foul-mouthed streak of self-criticism. I decided that perhaps I know what I'm doing instead of considering myself a fool. However, I would rather be done with it and get on to the rest of my life, the reason why I plan and organize -- to be able to have the time to do what I want without a nagging sense that something has gone undone, or unattended to.

That goal may be where the trouble lies, perhaps it's a fool's dream. Time (as recorded on lines spaced in a pleasing fashion, not too close together and not too dark so as not to dominate the space) will tell.

Last night, before my blood-shot eyes closed for a few hours, I ordered the Quo Vadis Minister Habana weekly planner (evidence of Laurie's influence) using my newly-beloved netbook, in the dark, from bed. Clicking through the final steps of paying via PayPal I could feel my delirium mount, a combination of surging fever and anxiety. My worried self advised a moment of reconsideration, yet-another mental review of how, EXACTLY, would I incorporate this new material object into a position of usefulness into my life? Would it REALLY be worth the almost $20 cost of purchase (including shipping) and subsequent upheaval inherent in transitioning from one planning system to another?

That squeaky, plaintive question was dismissed by the gruff, impatient realization that I couldn't stomach the thought of poring over any more dimensions and features of weekly vertical planners any longer. Screw it. Buy it already and be done with it. I'll never know if it will serve it's imagined purpose if I don't have it.

It's on its way.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Liquid Web hosting

This is an aside, but I noticed an ad for Liquid Web hosting popped up on my site and I have to say that they are GREAT. SUPERB customer service. SO pleasant, helpful and smart.

I moved a company site from a shared hosting environment to a new, dedicated server at Liquid Web and couldn't be happier. They never made me feel stupid and their turnaround time for help tickets is super fast, same with direct phone contact.

I can't say enough good things about them.

Oxford At-Hand Notecard Case

I have two of these puppies and they are so handy and such a bargain! I keep one on the kitchen counter for grocery lists or anything else, and one in the car. If my Filofax isn't handy, I just grab one of these. The black one, below, is faux leather. It has three areas in which to store index cards. I use one side for writing (I use a Sharpie with this one; pens are not included)...

Front side of index card carrier side to hold finished notes (either for immediate action, i.e, to use at the grocery store, or to transfer to my large index card box that holds reference notes)...

Backside of index card carrier

...and I store extra cards inside, in the middle of the case.

Top of index card carrier

I really enjoy these cases. They are cheap and very functional. I can throw one in my purse and nothing happens to the cards or the pen. I love how I can grab the one I keep in my car and write a note at a red light. The surface is stable and the pen is always handy. Very low stress note-writing!

The blue one that I keep in my car, below (note the stack of blank index cards stored in the compartment above, along with a now-unused spiral-bound pocket notebook and my meter change purse), is described on the website as 'gel'. It's similar in feel to those soft, cushiony, cell-phone covers (vague, I know, sorry). Vinyl? Poly-something? Definitely man-made and most likely not biodegradable, so only buy it if you plan to use it for a long time (forever?)! I had my consciousness raised about these types of considerations after communicating via email with Rickshaw and asking them if they would use a piece of vinyl I have to make a folio (they allow customization of their products with your own fabric selection - hot!). Their response was polite and lengthy, and the answer was no. Very cool they took the time to educate me and plead the case for Mother Earth. One day I will get my hands on one of their cleverly-designed products! A little too expensive for me, right now, but I know quality doesn't come cheap.

Index card carrier I keep in the car

You can find the note card cases at the links, below. I bought mine at Office Depot, so cheap!! Amazon also sells the black one, but it's twice as expensive as the ones sold at Office Depot.

Esselte At-Hand Note Card Case Holds & Includes 25 3 X 5 Ruled Cards, Black

Office Depot index card case, faux leather

Office Depot index card case, gel

BTW, I just noticed that the Office Depot link for the faux leather one says it is a 'stylish gel design', but it definitely has a different feel than the blue one. It is slightly stiffer and doesn't have the 'clingy' feel that the blue one does.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My tools for counting calories

Calorie-counting set-up

I used to look down on counting calories. I thought people who counted calories were uptight. That's the hippie in me that I trot out when convenient. I was very snooty about the whole idea without giving it a whole lot of thought. I have a vague memory of perceiving calorie counting as just too... much. Now, having done it for a number of months, if not a year or more, I realize that (a) it IS hard, (b) it HAS helped me figure out HOW MUCH I CAN ACTUALLY EAT and still maintain (or improve) my physique. I didn't need to count calories when I first undertook to lose thirty pounds, the changes I needed to make were obvious. However, now that I'm very, very close to my goal weight (within five pounds), it's a battle royale and I need every tool I can get.

I used to record my food in a notebook but I would never review what I wrote, so I thought, "What's the point of saving all this junk if I never look at them?". Last year I bought the Busy Office Page-A-Day Calendar 2011 (but for 2010!), plonked it on my kitchen counter, and scribbled my food intake into it ALL YEAR LONG.

I couldn't believe that I actually found a method that worked for me for an entire year straight. I enjoyed it so much, I bought another one for this year: Busy Dad's Page-A-Day Calendar 2011 (see photo, below). I enjoy the solid block of pages, the wide-ruled lines, the roominess for recording and making calculations, and tearing off the pages and throwing them away the next morning. And, when I bother to read the left margin, it's usually entertaining or insightful.

Page-A-Day notepad + calendar

Workman Publishing makes a variety of these, six in all.

I also use the The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter 2011. It, too, has a good feel in the hand and has everything I need. It's small enough to fit on the counter, too.

Calorie King book

Through MUCH trial-and-error, I've gotten a pretty good handle on how much I can eat (approx 2100 cals/day with one day of 3500 cal/week; I tend to distribute the 2100 per day into a two day allotment of 2400/1800) and still change my shape (in an excruciatingly slow process - rapid changes always blow up in my face). I do short, INTENSE, metabolic resistance training and am aiming for a cartoony, Wonder Woman, appearance. I have a lot of muscle (relative to the 'typical' female... see Skwigg's blog for a great post on the variety of body shape ideals and the mis-match in shared perceptions that result when the ideal is unarticulated), and thus my ability to ingest such high calorie amounts. I'm 5'8" and 143, last time I weighed (which is rare, I usually just judge by appearances and the way my clothes feel).

Disclaimer: No, I don't always adhere to my own rules. I don't always record every day. I don't always stay at or under my limit every day. It's all very much a work-in-progress. If I like it, if it's helping me (not always the same thing!), I do it. And sometimes I don't always do what's best for me. Sometimes I question whether or not calorie counting is more helpful than not. Calorie counting is simply a tool that may or may not work for you. Do what works, nobody can make or enforce rules except yourself. For me, when I do choose to count calories, this is the set-up I use.