Papergang Subscription Box No. 24 Review

It’s been a dull, grey winter so this month’s Papergang subscription box provided a much-needed pop of colour. Plus the utility of its contents ensured it had substance as well as style. As long as bullet journalling remains a thing, stationery addicts will always appreciate items to build their BuJo kit.

Plastic wallet

This handy pouch smells just like water wings. It took me right back to childhood swimming lessons. Inside, three pencils in green, yellow and pink.

I like to carry my BuJo around so this is perfect for keeping all my journal paraphernalia together.


This arrived just in time – sadly I’ve lost my beautiful brass one from the Dark Botany box designed by Susan Castillo a few months back.

The ruler is an essential tool for bullet journallers who want to make the most of the dot grid system. Join the dots to box off key information or underline your page headings for some school swot chic.

Sticker pack

Stickers are the perfect way to pull out key dates, highlight what’s gone well and mark special occasions. Even better, they mean you can jazz up your journal – a great alternative if doodling is not your thing.

The two sticker sheets are my favourite thing in this Papergang box. The seasonal labels, candles and be airplanes are best for advance planning – birthdays, holidays, those things you want to look forward to. And for weekly/daily/monthly logs the ticks, crosses and smilies are great.

Greeting card

Little Miss Scatterbrain features on the front of this card. But keeping a bullet journal means no excuses for forgetting stuff anymore. The card is blank inside. It’s ideal to have around for unbirthdays and other times when you want to send a card just because.

Dot grid journal

The exposed and tightly stacked signatures make this notebook a thing of beauty. And handily it fits inside the plastic wallet. I love it when a plan comes together!  The paper is thick enough to take ink and also glue if you want to stick stuff in.

The cardboard cover is begging for a bit of extra personalisation, I think. I might do some doodling on the back or accent the title.

In summary

Overall, another great box from Papergang. And do make sure you check out the accompanying leaflet if you’re new to bullet journalling.

50 ways to fill a notebook – part 4

It’s the penultimate part of 50 ways to fill a notebook. And hopefully you’ve been working through your stash of unused notebooks to free up space in advance of your next haul. Here are some more ideas to keep in mind when you’re choosing between lined, blank, dot grid or crosshair.

31. Scrapbook

Scrapbooking is a lovely way to preserve your memories. Choose a notebook with a mix of heavy duty pages that can take ink, paint and tape. Staple in receipts and ticket stubs and glue in pictures. Annotate with hand lettering. And decorate with stamps and stickers. There are tutorials for easy-to-draw scrolls on Pinterest.

32. Track rows and rounds

One for the yarn addicts. Yes, you can get one of those row counters to attach to your needles, but I’ve never quite got on with them. It’s also helpful to see your progress at a glance if you have a project that you only pick up every now and then. I use an A4 pad that I can scribble across.

33. Learning log

Everyday’s a learning day. Note down two or three things you’ve learnt each day in a pocket notebook you keep by your bed. It’s a nice alternative to a gratitude diary. And may help you process the day’s events before you go to sleep.

34. Action list

My to do lists tend to spiral out of control so I prefer an action list, which `I restrict to three items. I keep it in a teeny tiny micro notebook, so I’m not tempted to add too much to it. Only the top priorities make it in.

35. Recipe notes

It’s the tweaks you make to recipes that really lift them. Or better yet, those family ones that only your nana seems to know. Keep a record in a notebook with a plastic cover so you can wipe off any spills when you’re in the kitchen. My own recipe tip? Always add extra garlic.

36. Bullet journal

The bullet journal is described by its founder Ryder Carroll as ‘an analogue system for a digital age.’ It’s a simple method of journalling aimed squarely at productivity. Numerous posts have been written on how to bullet journal and the best monthly spreads and weekly layouts. My personal favourites are Minimalist Bujo and Boho Berry.

If you’re interested in journalling but not sure how best to kick start your practice, you might want to take my quiz – it will help you find the type of journalling that will suit you best.

37. Mind mapping

Got a problem you need to solve? Keep a medium to large notebook with blank pages to hand draw out all the options. A more visual alternative to listing, the mind map is the brain child of Tony Buzan.

38. Resolutions

Resolutions aren’t just for new year. Keep them in a slim handmade notebook and revisit regularly to check in on your progress. Even better, if you keep a notebook solely for this purpose, you’ll be able to add to it year on year.

39. Words and definitions

I love unusual words. Old dialect terms that are fading out or words unique to a specific language are my favourite. Writer Robert Macfarlane shares some great nature-led ones everyday on Twitter. And check out Present and Correct’s feed, too. Or this Buzzfeed article.

I jot them down in a pocket notebook and find a way to weave them in to my day to day writing or conversation. Yes, I’m geeky like that.

40. EveryDay carry

I keep a notebook with me at all times. It’s usually lined, often A5 and is always my current favourite. This means there’s some sort of quote on the cover, or it’s one of my favourite brands. It’s filled with all sorts of things. Lists, doodles, reminders. On occasion, an idea for a story or a problem that I need to get down on paper so it’s out of my head and I can think about something else.

I change up my everday carry about once a month. These are the notebooks I always have the most fun buying.

The final countdown of 50 ways to fill a notebook will be up next week. In the meantime, check out parts one, two and three if you haven’t done so already.

And if you’ve started using any of these ideas, let me know if the comments.


How should I be journalling?

Journalling is having a moment. You can’t scroll too far down your timeline without seeing a link to a ‘why journalling is good for you’ article.  On Insta there are various hashtags for those seeking inspiring BuJo layouts.  And Youtube is awash with ‘plan with me’ videos.

For those new to the journalling habit or others who’ve lost touch with it, all those guides and articles can feel a little like information overload.  Hopefully I can help with that.

Journalling quiz

I’ve created a quick quiz to help you find out the best way for you to journal.  It is based on things like how much time you have to spend on making entries and how you might have journaled in the past.  But for all that it is pretty light-hearted.  Hopefully it’ll be just the thing if you want to get (back) into journalling but aren’t quite sure how.

Everyday I’m journalling?

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you’ll know I’m quite partial to a list journal myself.  But there are plenty of other options available.  This quiz is designed to help find the one that best suits you.

It may be that you’ve given it a go and didn’t get on too well with the system that you tried.  Or maybe you didn’t have the time or the Washi tape.  If that’s the case, don’t let it put you off.  I genuinely believe there is a way of journalling out there that is just right for you.

So take the quiz today and find out what it is.  And please do share what you get in the comments.  Especially if it feels like what I’m suggesting will work for you!

List journal – 5 reasons why

I wrote about list journals the other day in the context of lists. But then it struck me, it being Mental Health Awareness Week and all, that they’re the perfect way to get into journalling if you’ve never really done it before. Or if you’re in search of a new journalling practice. Either way, here are five reasons why list journals may be the perfect way to get (re) started. 

ONE: There’s no page set-up required

The layout of a new journal is everything. Check out the various planner tags on Insta or read the gushing reviews of Hobonichi, Passion or Happiness planners and you’ll begin to understand that page set up is something that people who journal take very seriously.

As a journalling newbie, this can be intimidating. You might not be sure why you need a free space for doodles, or a ruler at the right-hand edge of each page. You might not have a preference for weekly over monthly spreads. It’s probably not something you’ve thought about too much.

List journals require no set up. They’re usually gorgeously illustrated with clearly defined spaces for you to write in. If procrastinating about layout has been holding you back, the list journal will fix that.

TWO: You don’t have to worry about what to say

Maybe it’s a legacy of that angst ridden diary you kept as a teenager, but something about a standard journal can make you feel as though you need to write something profound. Or at the very least that won’t embarrass you when you look back on it in five years time.

A blank page is full of potential. But it can also be pretty scary. If you’re not sure what to say, the prompted list journal format makes it all feel so much easier.  Responding to a question is much more straight forward than kicking off the conversation.

Better still, you don’t have to be uber disciplined in how you complete it. Journals are usually time bound – your progress against a goal or feelings recorded in an orderly, linear fashion. And the way you think isn’t always like that. List journals offer a little more flexibility as you can complete them in any order you like. Read through the contents page and pick the list that jumps out at you. Or let the list journal fall open at a random page and go from there. You’ll be scribbling away in no time.*

THREE: The only other thing you’ll need is a pen

My BuJo kit includes stamps, stickers, washi tape, coloured pens, highlighters. It feels a bit much even for a self-confessed stationery addict, so if the thought of having to buy lots of things is putting you off, you’ll love the simplicity of the list journal. Just pick up a pen and away you go.

It’s also worth saying that any pen will do. List journals usually have a decent production value so you don’t have to worry about ghosting/show through.

And because of this, you can journal easily on the move – no worrying about switching between different coloured pens.

FOUR: You can choose a list journal that matches your mood

List journals come in all sorts of forms from the bucket list to the customisable. You can read reviews of three of my current favourites here. Whether you’re looking for something more lighthearted or deep, there’ll be a list journal option for you.

FIVE: Many have a sizeable community ready to welcome you

Check out #52lists and you’ll instantly be connected to people all over the world that are list journalling just like you. This can be really motivating for the fledgling journaller and even used as a tool to aid reflection. If you’re struggling with a particular list you can find inspiration from what others have written. Yes, journalling is largely an individual activity but the communities that have built up around the most popular ones, show that it doesn’t have to be lonely.

I’m a big fan of list journals as you can probably tell. All journals if I’m honest. Try one and you might find that you are, too. Happy journalling. 

*I assume you’re writing as I’m personally all about the analogue, but there are list journal apps you can check out, too.

Listing my list journals

Like all stationery addicts I love a good list. When I write stuff down in numbers or bullets or bullets that are formatted as stars or ticks it makes me feel calm and in control. But it wasn’t always like that. A few years back, I was in a list funk that even the prettiest notebooks could not lift me out of. And as a J-type it bothered me.

I still got the initial rush of getting everything down in one place. But the sense of serenity this gave me would soon be shattered when I checked back and realised that the majority of my to dos remained undone. It was disheartening. I needed a way to get my list-writing mojo back. Then I discovered list journals.

The right type of list

Before I started list journalling, I was writing only one type of list. I’d do it in different forms of course, shopping list, life-admin list, but the items were all the same, chores and reminders. Stuff I usually forgot or ignored because I’d rather not do it. Sad little things like take the bins out; book the car in for its MOT; switch energy provider.

I still have these lists of course, I need them to keep me accountable. Plus I’m still paying way too much for my electricity. But now I also have the mindful, happy, positive lists that help to balance them out. Through my list journals, I’m writing the right kinds of lists, the lists that keep me motivated and inspired. I’ve still not ticked everything off, but with lists like these, that’s all part of the fun.

You won’t be surprised that I have lots of list journals. But rather than list them all (see what I did there), I’m going to share three of my favourites.

The 52 lists project

Moorea Seal was inspired to start this project off the back of a blog post she wrote a couple of years back. Since then, it’s grown into a whole community. You might have come across the 52lists hashtag on Insta – check it out if not. The lists were created with self-discovery and self-reflection in mind. They’re categorised as winter, spring, summer, and autumn and each is influenced by the season. List one, winter, is geared towards new year resolutions for example. Each list is assigned two pages. And at the end there is a ‘take action’ box, which helps you make the list work for you in terms of looking forwards as well as back.

The journal itself is beautifully designed and illustrated. The pages are thick, no need to worry about show through. And there’s a shiny ribbon marker that perfectly complements the gold foil accent on the front cover. It almost feels too good to write in. If writing direct into pretty notebooks is something you struggle with, you might want to read my previous post ‘Once more with pen’ for a nostalgic solution. I’d encourage you to take the plunge and just go for it, though. It’s all part of the self exploration process. Over to Moorea who explained that the production value is intentional. “Your words are meaningful, and I hope you feel that every time you pick up your 52 lists project” she posted on Insta back in January.

Orderly lists

The sub-heading for the journal is ‘a year of weekly journalling inspiration’ but though the lists are numbered you can dip in and out. And there is a contents section at the front so you can choose which you’re most in the mood for and go straight to it. Because I’m a rule follower – there’s that pesky J preference again! – I started in the first week of the year and am due to complete list 20 on Sunday: List the things that make your spirit feel free. I’m looking forward to seeing what others in the community share.

There’s also a 52 Lists for Happiness Journal, now, too. I’ll be kicking off 2018 with this and have heard lots of good things about it.

My Future Listography

This was a Christmas present and there’s a whole range of them for books and films and things. And an app and a game that I hadn’t even realised existed before I started this post. Exciting! It feels more workbook than journal, bucket list rather than self-exploration tool, but this means it’s nice to keep adding to over time. And fun to look back on. Don’t forget to date the entries if you’re interested in seeing how you’re responses change and progress.

There’s a really nice introduction that talks about wish fulfilment. This preempts some of the vision board type thinking that is everywhere right now.

Again, the paper is lovely and thick – it lends itself particularly well to fountain pen. There is one page for each list apart from the final one – ‘list the things you’d like to experience before you die’ which has three pages. And at the back there are a few lined pages with no heading if you want to come up with your own list ideas.

Of all the list journals this is the one I feel most free to open at random as there is no sense of order or categorisation. This means I’m less disciplined in terms of filling it in regularly, but it’s also one that I’d take off the shelves and chat through when friends are over, which is why it’s one of my favourites.

Breathe Special List Journal

This is my latest list journal, a special from the makers of Breathe magazine. It’s split into five sections, Escape, Living, Mindfulness, Creativity and Wellbeing – just like the magazine itself. There’s no contents page like there is with the other two. I quite like this as it means each page turn holds a discovery and it encourages you to interact with it more. You can’t just scan through and think ‘yes, I’ll do that list later’ you have to actually get involved straight away, which can only be a good thing.

And while we’re on the subject of good things, the pastel palette is calming and the illustrated pages are pretty enough to use for card making. Another point of differentiation (and justification for me having three on the go at once!) is that this list journal is all about customisation. The opening pages encourage you to paste in pictures or ticket stubs, to draw and to doodle. And some of the pages are blank especially for this purpose.

As with the Listography journal there is no restriction on when and where to start. So if you fall off the list writing wagon for a week or two it doesn’t matter you can plunge right back in and no accusataory gaps. The space allocated for each prompt differs and to be honest, some, like people I admire, are worth their own page. But this is a minor quibble. And on the plus side means that you probably don’t need to set aside heaps of time to complete a single entry as I’d naturally do with the others.

If you’re looking for a list journal that also functions as a sort of scrapbook, then this is the one I’d recommend.

So many lists, so many journals…