Lessons from a Planner Addict & Best Planners for 2018

Illusions of Productivity

 

This is probably the most exciting time of the year for a planner addict. Lists, resolutions, and goals galore. I haven’t always been a planner junkie- meaning, I haven’t always been a multiple planner user, with stickers and markers and washi tape. But I’ve always been an avid list maker, and I’ve always been a creative person, so when a friend introduced me to this whole planner world, I was immediately hooked because I got to combine two things that I find very therapeutic.

Last year I decided to share this little hobby of mine on social media as I swapped and shared inspiration with other planner junkies, and after having one full year under my belt, I have discovered a few things along the way using different planner systems, trying to find my groove. So below I’ve tried to synthesize and combine every question and conversation I’ve had with colleagues and friends who get curious about my hobby and who are also looking for systems that work for them and their busy lifestyles.

Below I’ve also listed links to some of the best (in my opinion) functional/wellness planners on the market!


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Why I’m a multiple planner user:

This past year I used three different systems- the Bullet Journal, The Happy Planner, and my Google Calendar. I’ve found that using the Google Calendar was the best option for master planning, future planning, and sharing/making plans with my fiancé and friends. I was a strict user of the pen and paper planning, but found that I had a hard time committing to plans because I didn’t always have my planner on me.

I always get this question:  So if you’re using a calendar app on your phone, what is the point in using another planner?

I’m sure many of you have heard that people have different learning and perceiving styles:

Visual or Spatial– meaning you prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

Aural or Auditory-Musical- meaning you prefer using music or sound.

Verbal or Linguistic– meaning you prefer using words both in speech or writing.

Physical or Kinetic – meaning you prefer using your body, hands, and sense of touch.

Logical or mathematical– you prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

I find myself to be very verbal, visual, and logical. I had to re-write out powerpoint slides in school to fully understand the material (very time consuming, I know!). So when it comes to preparing for the week, it really helps when I am able to sit down on Sunday, look at my plans made on Google Calendar, and write them down in a visual monthly and weekly layout. When I do this, other goals or list items come to mind that I just can’t track efficiently on a mobile app. For instance- if I see that I have a dinner party on Thursday night right after work, I will probably then try to squeeze in a little trip to the market earlier that week to grab a bottle of wine and something to contribute. Or if I plan a creative project and aim to start it next month, I’ll want to write it into the month and have the space to write my thoughts and possible action items, and most likely some doodles to go with it.

Planner Systems I’ve used – Pros and Cons:

I toggled between two different planning systems knowing that writing things down, and outlining a logical process was the best way for me to successfully “adult”. I’m a fan of the weekly layout, because I like to see the week as one big picture, rather than one day at a time. But I also know I need space to brainstorm and write notes, while also having visual access to my whole week.

The Bullet Journal

I was drawn to the Bullet Journal system because I loved the freedom of creativity you get to experiment with using different layouts, fonts, and trackers. For those of you who don’t know the Bullet Journal analog system, it is essentially a blank notebook where you draw out your calendar either simply by listing the dates vertically (“The analog system for the digital age”- as they call it), or as some people do it, they draw out a whole month and week with full on trackers, meal plans, and other fun things.

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But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up with drawing my layouts ahead of time, so it became a journal for random braindumps, project brainstorming, and budget planning with no particular creative direction. Which is fine because the whole point of the Bullet Journal is to “do more with less” but I of course have to be extra and add doodles, stickers, trackers, and all that stuff in order for me to feel creatively satisfied- but I just don’t have time to draw out my layouts the way I want them to be- bottom line.

The Happy Planner

The Happy Planner is the planner I’ve settled on because of it’s scrapbook-like qualities and functionality. This planner uses the arc system meaning you can move sections of your planner around and add sections as you see fit. . It comes in two layouts – horizontal and vertical- and three different sizes.

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I started out using the classic 7×9 vertical layout for work and the mini 5×7 horizontal layout for a personal journal and memory scrapbooking. After a few months of using the classic planner, I found that I was wasting precious stickers and washi tape for a bunch of chicken scratch, so I switched to the bullet journal because it seemed more appropriate for work and for my wallet. I ended up giving my classic happy planner to someone else who needed it, so I didn’t have so much buyer’s regret.

Planning lesson #1- Stick with a Top 3 list 

After using up the Bullet Journal for work. I found that I really didn’t need much space to list out action items for each day. I learned that setting a goal of 3 major assignments per day was more realistic instead of including smaller items. For these, I keep a running list. Keeping a running list of smaller admin items separate from my 3 daily goals helps ease anxiety and stress when it seems that I can’t cross off all my check boxes in one day. Visually, it motivates more productivity vs. stress because the important items are grouped together, and not over crowded with a long list of smaller back burner items.

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This is where the Happy Planner arc system has served me better than the Bullet Journal. Instead of having to re-write the list, I can just move it into the next week. Good news is, there are other brands that use this same system, so if you are not into the girly themes, you can check out these brands:

Russel and Hazel Mini Binder Collection

Staples Arc Notebooks

The Martha Stewart Discbound Planner

Into the new year I have settled on using the Happy Planner Mini as my work planner, and the Classic Happy Planner as my personal planner, wellness planner, fitness tracking, goal setting journal all in one- that I will post more specifics on in another post 🙂 .

Planner lesson #2 -Put your list away!

For me, that most important thing I learned this year was that I spent too much time in the weeds. I often times got carried away with the decorating and goal setting, that I didn’t spend enough time taking action. So this year, when I do my daily reflections, I want to focus on just that, I will leave all the decorating and sticker playing (lol!) for Sunday.

All decorations, stickers and doodles aside, this goal even applies to my work life. Some days, I write out my top 3 and close my planner, so that I am not distracted with other projects. It helps me focus on one thing at a time- ESPECIALLY when I have a lot of work to do, this is how I stay efficient – by putting that list away!


Best planners on the market!

I know that the Happy Planner and the Bullet Journal is not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’ve put together a list of other planners I find very efficient.

The Passion Planner

The Panda Planner

The Happiness Planner 

Bluesky Planners

Day Designer

The Self Journal

The Dreambook Planner

Check out this article in the New York Times making the case for paper planning and a guide on how to pick the right one for you.

Happy 2018 and Happy Planning! 😉

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Lessons from a Vegan-ish kitchen

Meal Prep

I believe in the power of my every day choice to abstain from eating meat or dairy and how that helps decrease my carbon footprint. Without getting too much into the politics, I realize that eating vegan is a lifestyle not just a diet; and that with any lifestyle, it takes time and practice to continue on any given path. I heard someone explain a “vegan-ish” lifestyle like this, “It’s like being a Christian – if you sin, it doesn’t mean you need to quit being a Christian, you keep aiming for a Christian lifestyle that practices your morals”.  So when you “mess up” and eat meat or a piece of cheese, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a vegan.

Now, I know some vegans who would probably get upset at the above statement, but like I said, I don’t want to get too much into politics and I think there needs to be a more common ground for those interested in making a change- no more of this “you can’t sit with us” attitude towards those lost in the grey area of vegan-ish land. Everyone’s journey towards awakening must start somewhere.

So here! I’ve compiled a “tip” list of things to ponder over if you are considering making a transition into the vegan lifestyle…

Find a buddy

The first time I attempted a vegan diet was after taking an environmental science class my sophomore year of college and feeling alarmed about the reality of my carbon footprint. Long story short, I gave up quickly after I gave in and ate some carne asada tacos. Fast forward to 2015 and I met my Fiance who was practicing a vegan diet. I was a bit intimidated at first and the independent person in me felt  it unthinkable to try a diet just because a guy I liked was doing it, but I had to push my ego aside and find facts that resonated with me and persuaded me in the first place. So as we started dating, I decided to eat vegan when I was with him- which was usually just the weekends. Then I gradually started adding days when I was by myself- for me that was Wednesdays- and from there it got easier. So grab a friend or a coworker, try to find someone you see on a regular basis and make the effort together. It will be a lot easier when you have someone to hold you accountable.

Find your flavor

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 I grew up in Los Angeles with a Filipino mother, so my flavor profile usually leans towards Asian cuisine or tacos. With that in mind, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for a quick vegan meal that incorporates some tricks I learned watching my mother cook. For instance – soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, and lemon. Those four things alone whether used together or not have been the gateway to so many flavorful dishes I have made now in my adult life. One of my all time favorite lazy vegan dinners is a bowl of brown rice, steamed spinach topped with a mixture of soy sauce, garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Sometimes I’ll add ginger if I have it on hand. But from there you can build- add tofu for protein, or use some frozen vegetable gyoza from the freezer section of your market to top it off and bam! you have a palatable meal…oh and don’t forget the Sriracha.

Thai and Indian curries are another one of my favorite dishes to whip up and so I keep the staples for that in my kitchen- curry paste, coconut milk, and other spices – when I need to eat my vegetables before they go bad, this is a great dish to cook because you can basically put everything in a curry.

Learn how to grocery shop and the basics of cooking

Now I know that to some people, this may sound a bit silly. But it took me a while to learn the properties of certain foods and how they were best prepared to maximize their flavors. For instance, did you know that you should soak your potatoes (cut) in some water and dissolved sugar to achieve that soft french-fry like goodness on the inside? Neither did I and boy does it make a difference! Learning how to simmer and when to add certain vegetables makes a difference, like eggplant for instance, you add that towards the end of your stir fry so that it doesn’t get slimy, and you add the carrots and potatoes first so that they can cook all the way through- so on and so forth.

Here is my shopping List with some notes! 

At first I thought meal prepping on Sunday’s was the way to go. But then I quickly found out that I was spending most of my grocery budget on the ingredients for one meal, and I would grow tired of eating the same thing throughout the week, resulting in wasted food. I knew that making scrappy meals on the fly was my strength so I decided to focus on items that I knew I could “paint” with when it came time to get creative in the kitchen. So here is how I tackle grocery shopping:

Grab your proteins! 

  • soy chorizo
    • tacos
    • throw in some hashbrowns and you have a bomb breakfast hash
  • tofu
    • stir fry
    • curry
  • tofurky italian sausages
    • pizza
    • hot gogs
    • pasta
    • vegetable ratatouille
  • meatless ground beef
    • Pasta “Meat Sauce”
    • tacos
    • Pizza
  • Jack Fruit Protein – When I want to treat myself
    • Found at Safeway they have multiple flavors. I enjoy the Teriyaki and BBQ.

Add in your grains

Now if you don’t have grains already, this will be a bit of an investment the first time around, but once you have them, they last a lot longer than your other food groups. So stock up on:

  • rice
  • pasta
  • quinoa
  • nuts ( I prefer to have raw cashews because so many vegan recipes call for cashews- cheese, sour cream…)

Condiments 

  • soy sauce
    • stir fry
    • curry
  • pasta sauce
    • pizza
    • pasta
  • mustard
    • dressing
    • hot dogs
  • ketchup
  • apple cider vinegar
    • works wonders with red cabbage
  • white rice vinegar
    • just a part of being filipino 😉
  • Balsamic glaze
    • great for sauteing vegetables in
    • salad dressing

Other

  • Nutritional yeast!
    • this is a big one because, as I mentioned, a lot of vegan recipes call for this
  • Something fermented – Sauerkraut, pickled veggies.. always an easy way to take a sandwich or hot dog to the next level!
  • Finely ground flaxseed meal
    • this is what I use to replace eggs when I bake! It’s a 3-1 ratio 
      • 3 tablespoons of water to 1 tablespoon of flax meal
  • coconut milk
    • this is another important staple because it’s a great replacer for heavy cream when it comes to baking, and it’s a staple in the curries.
    • I prefer this brand because it isn’t as fatty as the other ones: 

Produce

I am fortunate to have a farmers market a few blocks away from my house every Wednesday and Sunday. It is actually a lot cheaper than the grocery store and the quality a lot better. Now if you’re like me, there is just something about the farmers market that makes you want to buy everything! All the fresh fruit and beautiful flowers are all so inspiring. But the reality is, you must buy what you can eat! So after much learning, I limit myself to spending ONLY $20 or less and have kept this rule of thumb: 

3 hearty vegetables

 3 Herbs for flavor 

1 leafy green (or purple) 

2 different types seasonal fruit to snack on

  • Hearty vegetables: I like some variation of the following, these tend to have a longer shelf life too.
    • zucchini
    • eggplant
    • Potatoes
    • tomatoes
  • Leafy greens (or purples)
    • red cabbage – this stuff goes a long way!
    • kale
  • Herbs- leafy herbs have the shortest shelf life, so don’t get too excited and over buy… just get what you need.. and keep them OUT of the fridge
    • onions- always
    • garlic – always 
      • you can never go wrong starting out each dish with garlic and onions in a pan… never!
    • Basil
    • Mint
  • Misc.
    • lemon or lime- always
    • fresh flowers – if there is room in the budget 😉

 

I hope I was able to synthesize everything in a way that makes grocery shopping and cooking a lot easier. Once you have your condiments (flavor) and grains stocked, everything else can be purchased and added based on your cravings. When you think about grocery shopping based on flavor profile, it will make cooking a lot easier as well, because everything you buy, in theory will go together. I am not a chef, and I’m not claiming to be a vegan blogger, just an efficient human being 😉 – hence PlannerCreative. So as I continue to learn along the way, I’ll keep sharing ways I find to be the most time efficient and budget friendly ways to live a vegan lifestyle. One more thing: Pinterest is your BEST FRIEND! It’s as simple as listing a few ingredients + “vegan” and you will have all sorts of inspiration to choose from.

Thinking about making the switch? What are some concerns you have in terms of time efficiency and budgeting? List them below and let’s get talking 🙂

Peace easy,

D. marie

Monthly Mood: Just Listen| December 2017

Monthly Mood

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It’s been a while since I’ve been in the mindset of writing a blog post. A lot has happened in the past 3 months – mostly ups. I’ve been trying to focus on my inner self, listening to what it is I need and for the most part – it’s been the need to let things go and simplify. I’ve had a lot of creative ideas for blog posts, but no drive to see them through as I’ve been refusing to put my “social media” or “blogging” lens on. I’ve instead, been wanting to live through my experiences, as they come, and not get worked up about turning a natural experience into something I need to format and share.

Refining takes time. I try to constantly remind myself. So into December we go, closing the book of 2017 and I plan to continue to lay low and listen to myself.


I found this poem I wrote a while back, and of course it still speaks to me today.

Everyday I wake up to the rest of my life.
Wondering what trials and tribulations will face me today.
Completely unscathed by what was yesterday.
To feel or not to feel? You must press forward.
Is that the key to success, or the recipe for complete distress?
You tell me.
To feel or not to feel? You must press forward – I was referring to the American life, our expectations to work ourselves to the ground, but not for ourselves. We think it is for ourselves – working hard for vacation time, for the house or the family we think we need. And pressing forward is something American culture is good at- being numb to our own needs and wants as a human being, often times not knowing what it is we really want in life.
Is that the key to success, or the recipe for complete distress? – Is being numb and living for your job the only way to success? Or does it cause an inner dissonance?
Having written this in a moment when I was regretting my time wasted with school and struggling with multiple jobs, I meant it all in a negative way. But now as I’ve shed some things in my life, I now feel this is a question I am now asking myself again – to feel or not to feel? but most importantly WHAT is it that I want to feel? and now realizing that I am in control of that- this has become an encouraging poem.
So into the new year we must create what it is we want to feel and live for. It may take some time- which is the biggest lesson for me- but it will come, but in the mean time- don’t crowd your space and brain with unnecessary obligations (social gatherings, projects, etc.) otherwise you won’t allow yourself to find what it is you truly need.
Just be quite and listen.
Even if you have to listen for a long time.

September Creative: Bibliobicicleta

Monthly Creatives

This segment is dedicated to all my creative muses. Each one of them on the daily hustle, working hard to support what they love the most. Whether it’s music, art, personalities, jewelry, or clothing, I support it all. I hope you take the time to check out their pages, like their socials, and show them some love.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am so excited to introduce to you my colleague and good friend Alicia Tapia, creative behind Bibliobicicleta. I’ve had the privilege of becoming friends with this stand-out soul and what I love most about this girl is that she is truly passionate about the people she surrounds herself with. She never fails to let you know that you’re awesome and that you’re loved. Through this project, she gets to shine her light. For all you teachers out there, if you follow her on twitter, she shares her fun Digital Literacy lesson plans, ones that I wish my teachers taught me while I was in school.

 Ms. Tapia- YOU are legit and I hope you keep spreading the love of learning in your unique ways.

Who and what is Bibliobicicleta?

Bibliobicicleta is a roving bicycle “library” of free books in San Francisco. People take books, read books, and give books, though not always in that order. I’m Alicia Tapia. I’m a school librarian, a filipina mexicana from Hawaii, and I get to ride the Bibliobicicleta around town and meet all kinds of readers.

San Francisco and Bay Area Wedding Photographer

When did you start this project?

Bibliobicicleta started as an idea in late 2013. My co-librarian and friend Danielle Farinacci and I were joking about how cool and useful it would be to give away free books on a bicycle. Not only would we be giving away beautiful stories and information (which we have a lot of) but we’d also get to meet people, and people who wanted to read. Soon it was all I daydreamed about, I started drawing it, and finally got a Kickstarter campaign together. Bibliobicileta was funded by supporters and generous people from all over the world through Kickstarter. Bibliobicicleta represents a collective local and global community that believes in the joy of reading and celebrates literacy.

As a librarian, please explain how this combines all your passions bridging work and play…

I am passionate about the pursuit of information, access to it, and what happens when knowledge blooms into new ideas that move us forward. Knowledge + action liberates us. The bicycle itself is a symbol of creative action and liberation. The Bibliobicicleta is an extension of what I enjoy doing every day. As a school librarian my job is to help students practice closing the gaps in their knowledge and to provide access to books that allow students to experience lives much different from their own. When students read over time you begin to see their sense of empathy, their imagination, and their ability to think critically grow and create knowledge. I see the same thing happen when people of all ages look at the books on the Bibliobicicleta. I see people talking to each other again, information and stories being exchanged, compassion levels rising. I get to see people practice the dialogue we need so badly in our country today. But best of all, I get to see a lots of smiles!

What is BiblioBicicleta’s mission statement, or the inspiration, or motivation you want to give to your city/consumers?

Just keep reading and take time to DIGEST WHAT YOU READ! It doesn’t matter what kind of medium you are reading from, it’s so important to slow down and think about everything you’ve just read. Fast information needs to be pondered, stories are written to be enjoyed…just like bike rides. In a world of fast information, undigested knowledge gets exchanged in a manner too rapid for the joy of our human brain. Slow down, read and breathe!

If you could have anything, buy anything, expand anything with biblio.. what would it be? If not, that’s ok too..

If I could expand anything with Biblio, it would be somehow finding a way to a take a whole year or two off to ride the Bibiliobici to book deserts; places where books or information are banned or hard to obtain. There are whole state departments of education that won’t teach cultural studies or celebrate the cultural knowledge of their own students’ heritage. In this country we really take for granted our freedom to read and learn what we want or should. There are some real people around the world working for this same mission. Shout outs to the library camel in Mongolia, the librarian and elephant in Laos, a very eccentric man in Buenos Aires with his arma de instrucción masiva, Alfa y beto and Luis Soriano in Colombia. They are all my heroes.


Follow Bibliobicicleta:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

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July Creative: Deep Space Traveler, Adam Villanueva

Monthly Creatives

Discover My Favorite Creatives!

This segment is dedicated to all my creative muses. Each one of them on the daily hustle, working hard to support what they love the most. Whether it’s music, art, personalities, jewelry, or clothing, I support it all. I hope you take the time to check out their pages, like their socials, and show them some love.


Please introduce yourself:

Hi, I’m Adam Villanueva. I am from Highland Park, Los Angeles California. I started doing art for my band SEASONS (see video at the end)  in 2006 and over the years it got better and I started making money off of it. Now I make art, stickers and shirts for other bands. I had a few successful art shows as well, you can check out my etsy shop where I sell some of my paintings and jewelry.

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How would you describe your art?

Colorfully twisted spacey clever and unique..

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What is your creative process? Does your art tell a story?

My paintings are influenced by camping trips but with a space vibe to it. I like using pyramids and other shapes to create a optical illusion. My cat painting tells a story of house cats that party when the owners are gone. You can see them drinking, dancing and swimming in the after hours.

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After hours Pool Party

Who and what are your influences?

Picasso, Dali, Okuda and friends. Instagram is a great source for inspiration and ideas.

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What are your current projects?

At the moment I am working on a stop motion music video for my band.

* Adam is in two bands: SEASONS and VETERANS OF FUTURE WARS – see Spotify link below

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What are you currently listening to right now?

Vanishing Twin.

Are there Any Artists on Instagram or Etsy that you are obsessing over?

Okuda 

As an LA resident, what are some of your favorite places to hangout and get some inspiration?

Downtown LA Arts District.

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Who are some of your musical influences?

Beatles, Tame Impala, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Anchorsong, Charles Bradley, Black Moth, Super Rainbow, and many more.

Any secret artist you embarrassed to say you enjoy?

Not that I can think of right now.

Do you have any pre-show/recording rituals?

I like to make videos or drawings related to the event the day of to help promote that show. Does that count?

Has politics changed your creativity?

Yes and no. I have been wanting to do a political painting but I haven’t. Maybe I’ll do a stop motion of Trump’s head launching missiles out of his mouth into his ass. I don’t know yet.


Adam’s latest video project with his band Seasons:

Please visit Adam & his Band’s socials and show them some love!

Adam’s INSTAGRAM

Adam’s ETSY SHOP 

SEASONS BAND FACEBOOK

SEASONS INSTAGRAM

VETERANS OF FUTURE WARS on SPOTIFY

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more unique creatives ❤

 

June 2017 Layouts

Illusions of Productivity, Picture Diaries

A little late on this one, but I’ve had a pretty busy month.

A lot of big things happened in June :

I had a performance, which always takes a lot of time and energy to prepare. But then once that performance was over, it cleared up my weeknight commitments allowing a lot of time to sit and think about my life, which can be a very overwhelming for a Virgo!

Learning how to be still is difficult .

I was apartment hunting with my boyfriend. Then I was looking for someone to fill my current apartment because – Hooray! We found a place.

There were a lot of little things in between: Friends in town, SF Pride, brunches, coffee dates, and consulting projects.

Motivation and inspiration was sparse, especially in a sudden bout of change. Here are some blogs/websites that really helped me remember my goals and focus:

https://tinybuddha.com/ – Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives

The Orange Dot – Headspace: Meditation Made Simple

John WestenBerg on Medium – Productivity, Motivation, and Failure

What are some blogs you enjoy reading?


Alas…. my June 2017 planner layouts ❤

 

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Happy Planning!

-D. Marie

Keeping Goals Realistic-Life is too short, and so is the weekend.

Illusions of Productivity
Reflections on being a #PlannerAddict

&

Illusions of Productivity
*This post is written with my happy planner peeps in mind. BUTTTT, the same practice can apply to anyone who journals, plans, or just loves being productive on the weekends* 

As many of you Happy Planner Babes know, it’s hard to put the breaks on when it comes to buying the Happy Planner accessories. Last time I went to Michael’s, I splurged on a bunch of sticker books and inserts, one of them being the Daily Layout. I thought I would use them a lot being the avid list maker that I am, but they ended up sitting in my drawer for the longest time. I had a major case of buyers remorse.

As my planner evolved into a personal memory journal, I started to find other uses for it. First of all, I would plan my days by the hour in my work planner (of course, makes sense); but I never really planned out the day on the weekends except for the occasional dinner date, or hanging out with friends. Every Friday would roll around and I would have a list of things I wanted to accomplish over the weekend running in my head. By the time Monday came, I would be so bummed out and hard on myself for not accomplishing everything I wanted to do.

Then I started to realize that I wasn’t being realistic; it’s only two days off for crying out loud, that’s hardly enough time to recharge. In order for me to adult on Monday, I really need time to leisurely do chores, be social, and sit on my ass.

The US really needs to adopt the three day weekend. Am I right, or am I right!??!??!?

So I decided to try mapping out my weekend using the Daily Inserts for my Happy Planner. Once I laid out my actual commitments and made potential time blocks for all things I wanted to do, I was able to enjoy my two days off a lot more and give myself a break when I didn’t accomplish X,Y, or Z. Once Monday hit, I was ready.

The Brain Dump side on the back was also another great addition to have so that I could have more space to scrapbook the week’s highlights!

Below you can see the daily layout with both Saturday and Sunday, and on the back I have the highlights from the week. Hope this opens up some creativity for you! I know it has for me =)

Thanks for reading! Happy Planning =)

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June Creative: AvocadaMamma

Monthly Creatives

Discover My Favorite Creatives!

This segment is dedicated to all my creative muses. Each one of them on the daily hustle, working hard to support what they love the most. Whether it’s music, art, personalities, jewelry, or clothing, I support it all. I hope you take the time to check out their pages, like their socials, and show them some love.


Taylor & Nathaniel

Creators of AvocadaMamma: A multi-platform resource for recipes, travel/meal prep help, guides to eating and products to shop for.

Meet my beautiful friends Taylor and Nathaniel! Aren’t they cute? 😉 I met these two while I was living in LA. Both of them have such a unique, pure glow, that once you meet them it’s no wonder these two souls were meant to connect and CREATE!

Nathaniel is a photographer, currently attending film school. You can check out his photography and latest projects at nathanielperales.com. Taylor is currently pursuing acting, and was recently in the Hollywood Fringe Festival production “Confessions of an Arab Woman” .

When I first saw their AvocadaMamma Youtube video pop up on my Facebook feed, I was so excited for them because it just made so much sense! I enjoyed catching up with them on their latest projects and hope you enjoy this interview! As creative people, it’s always refreshing to connect with other creative minds, who also have a razor focused, business mindset! These two are killin’ it and they’ve given me a new wave of inspiration, so thank you Taylor and Nathaniel!

Don’t forget to (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE) subscribe and like them on YOUTUBE and INSTAGRAM! ❤


How would you describe your art?

We believe in creating a better world through educating people to change their dieting/lifestyles. We want people to understand that it’s possible to live longer, feel better and sustain yourself longer by eating healthier. So we are using Taylor’s background in acting for the front of the camera and Nathaniel’s skills as a photographer/director to create Avocadamama. A multi-platform resource for recipes, travel/meal prep help, guides to eating and products to shop for.

How long have you been working on your craft, how do you feel about where you are right now and what are you excited about for the future as an artist?

T: We started this in January. We began with making simple recipes in my kitchen, and now we’ve expanded a little further. We’re now making travel videos, reviewing products, reviewing restaurants, and we’re using our knowledge to create small videos for others to use for guidance on the vegan lifestyle. Eventually, we’d like to create an easy vegan 1 month guide to follow for our followers to have a way to understand what is the easiest, healthiest way to loose weight and change their eating habits for a long period of time, not just until they lose weight.

N: I feel like we’re in a perfect place. At this point, this is just really fun for us. I get to learn how to cook and teach others how to cook while practicing my craft. And Taylor gets to think about food in a way she hasn’t before because this is about educating people. I’m excited for our future episodes as I continue to practice and play with different ways of presenting the information. There’s definitely a craft with “How to” do something.

When and how did you meet?

T: We actually met on the streets of Pasadena, CA. It was this back and forth of seeing each other for a few months, waving, smiling at each other and wanting to say “hi” but never stopping to talk. We’d be so close too, seeing each other where Nathaniel worked, one time he chased after me on the streets of Old Town Pasadena from a cafe to invite me to his art show but I wasn’t able to go. I eventually came to terms that I would never see him again and then we saw each other a couple weeks later and finally exchanged numbers! That was 5 years ago in October.

N: It was good times. 😍

Tell me about the Ah-ha moment you and Nathaniel had when the first fruition of AvocadaMama came about?

T: We’d actually talked about it for a while now. Nathaniel would tell me all the time how he thought my talent in the kitchen would make a great Youtube channel and he could do the filming. It’s funny because we put it off for so long until finally one night it happened by chance because we were planning to grill the Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat and Nathaniel said “lets film it and see what happens”. Then we got such a great response from our peers so we decided to just go for it.

N: When we decided to film that first episode about the Beyond Meat Burgers I looked at it as a challenge and to use my skills as a film editor to make something interesting that people might want to watch. Taylor’s quirky personality is so addicting to watch, and I think my editing style matches her weirdness hahaha so after watching the footage we had, and the edit that came from it, I knew there was something special here.

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Both of you have a professional mindset when talking about your powers combined, What is the creative process when it comes to hashing out business plans? Is it a fluid conversation or is it something you set limits and boundaries to? What are the benefits of dating your business partner?

N: It’s actually really awesome. We always talk about our passions and dreams together so there’s not really any boundaries. The coolest part about this, is we love food anyway. We love eating together and talking together and going out to restaurants. So if anything, it’s just brought us closer because it gives us more reasons to hang out and create stuff. As far as like a formal business plan, we mainly use this app called Quip http://quip.com to write and share our ideas with each other. It has all our ideas spread out and organized in folders. Whenever one of us updates a file, the other person gets updated. It’s really easy to use. We have many plans for our future and the hardest challenge so far is time and the fact that we don’t live together. I think as we continue to organize our workflow we will have to set specific hours a side to just do Avocadamama. Because when we’re together we definitely do like to lolligag and just spend time together haha.

What is the creative process when it comes to making a video? (do you have a script, improv, etc.)

T: We use a joint project folder app quip as Nathaniel mentioned, and we have a list of foods we want to make. We usually pick a recipe based on the weather / time of year / holiday coming up.

N: We don’t really have a script but we do talk about what we want to accomplish, in what order the episode will go and what steps are in the recipe. We do a lot of talking and working together to figure out what we want. Usually we’ll make mistakes and have to re-shoot certain lines because Taylor says “umm” and pauses in between thoughts a lot. She’s a little spacey sometimes. LOL. We’re still optimizing this aspect of our channel, as any business continues to morph and define their strategy. Even though we’re like 13 episodes in, we’re definitely still defining ourselves. I don’t think you ever stop growing and every new episode is a new discovery in this awesome process.

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What is your mission statement? What is your ultimate goal?

N: I would say our mission statement is to educate people about a vegan, plant-based lifestyle in a fun and endearing way. A lot of people in my life look at a plant-based lifestyle as something difficult, snobby or too restricting and what we’re trying to show people is that it is definitely not difficult and can actually open you up to a lot of foods you wouldn’t really try with the normal American diet. I think you can tell from our personalities in our videos that this isn’t a snobby thing, we’re not talking down to anybody and we’re not begging for people to not eat meat. We’re just saying, hey if you’re having health problems or your trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle we have some really good recommendations and recipes that can help you try something new that tastes good and is really good for you.

What project(s) for AvocadaMama are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

T: Taking Avocadamama further with our reach. Right now we get a ton of traffic from family and friends, but we really want to go beyond that and influence people all over the world. But for now we’re traveling a lot so we’ll be visiting some awesome vegan restaurants that we’ll get to blog about spread the word about their food.

N: We got a couple of ideas up our sleeves. Our website is almost finished which will act as a larger resource for people looking for more information than our videos. We are going to be writing articles about places we eat, different ingredients we use and general plant-based lifestyle advice. We’ll also have opinion pieces about vegan culture as well. We are also beginning to think about products. Taylor wore these awesome pants that she made at the Eat Drink Vegan fest and she’s thinking about making them into a product we sell. We also want to recycle old clothes and put our logo or vegan text that people can buy. Taylor mentioned earlier a “getting started being vegan 30 day guide” that we’re in the process of outlining and designing. A lot of stuff in the pipeline that we’re both very excited for.

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As LA residents, what are your favorite vegan restaurants?

T: Oh there are so many delicious spots in LA. I love raw food and there’s a place called Sun Cafe that has really good food. For go-to delicious fast vegan food I love Veggie Grill. There’s a vegan sushi place that I love so much called Shojin, located in a mall in Little Tokyo. It’s so random but I love the food, they use mushrooms to make the scallops on a “baked scallop roll”! I’m drooling just thinking about it!

N: One of my favorite spots is Kitchen Mouse. Another great one is called Gracias Madre by the same people that own Cafe Gratitiude and Sage. I also love the Munch Truck in Highland Park on Fridays. Also, Organix is super bomb.

Where are some places on your vegan destination wish list?

T: Well actually I’ve always been interested in the vegan food in New Orleans, and low and behold, we just got tickets to go out there for my birthday in October! So we’ll be checking out the spots out there. I’m also really interested in exploring vegan food in middle America and checking out the places where people with less options could find meals and ways to modify local eats to be vegan. Maybe we’ll have to do a road trip some day!

N: Road trip would be super awesome. Avocadamama a la Anthony Bourdain style.

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Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more unique creatives ❤

May 2017 Layouts & Mantras

Illusions of Productivity

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On Mantras

Each month I review my successes, areas of improvements and ways to to tackle those areas. Last month I incorporated a weekly habit tracker in my planner layouts, which turned out to be a great success.

This month I wanted to focus on having a more mindful approach to my day, so I decided to start with a daily mantra. Keeping up with a daily mantra was a lot harder than I thought! With the constant thoughts running around inside my head, it took a lot of focus to really give my undivided attention to the words I set for myself. I wasn’t always successful and I actually dismissed it some days because I felt my mantra wasn’t good enough or it was too similar to the day before; or I just simply avoided it because I felt I just didn’t have time to think about it. I found that I had to be very intentional about my mantra, I really had to be still physically, in a comfortable place, to say it with a few deep breaths so that my whole body could acknowledge it. I will admit, some days this is hard to do when your focused on fitting so much into your day. But on the days I was successful, I remember it having positive effects on my mind, body and soul.

One day, I was leaving a weekly meeting with my team and left feeling very overwhelmed realizing the long list of to-do’s that suddenly multiplied on my plate. I was getting overwhelmed to the point where I was feeling frustrated; it was almost consuming me because I was holding it all in. When I do this, a knot grows in my chest and I can feel my muscles tense up; I know better than to show this hand at work, so I decided to take my lunch break and go for a walk.

I work in a part of town that doesn’t always smell the nicest, isn’t always the cleanest, and the neighbors aren’t always the most polite. So walking outside with all this stimuli added a layer of frustration. The only place I could retreat to was the mall. Once in the mall surrounded by more people, the frustration kept growing. I quickly darted up to the secret office spaces on the top floor that I had access to having worked in the mall while in college. Finally with some space to think, I was able to calm down my anxieties and reassure myself that “Yes you can. Just one thing at a time”.  I was still anxious so I decided to sit for five minutes and just focus on deep breathing. While breathing, I started to focus on that mantra, saying it over and over again in rhythm with my breath. As my heart rate slowed down, and the knot in my throat softened up, I could feel my mind push aside my negative thoughts and self doubt, then I got into this military mode- where I sternly tell myself what I’m going to do- and I told myself, “You’re gonna get up, take some deep breaths, you’re gonna go back to work, and take it one step at a time. But first you’re gonna get a twenty minute massage from the massage guys outside Lucky Brand and THEN it’s game time.” And that’s what I did.

Yes, of course the massage was a big factor in all this ;). BUT I will say, I hardly felt that massage because I was so focused on breathing and repeating my mantra. I said it over and over for twenty minutes straight. I remember looking out of that little face hole in the massage chair, staring at the floor and letting my mind go numb with the hum of my mantra. With each breath, I could feel the masseuse push through the tension more and more. I carried this mantra back to work, inside me like a tribal drum making way for my path. I kept focusing on my breathing using my mantra as the metronome to my breath and could feel all areas of my being relax, and more importantly I was able to focus and finish out the day with some work I was proud of.

Now, even with a few successful days like this (I only had a massage that one day..), the true challenge was initiating this intimate moment with myself. In realizing this, I was reminded of the sad reality that it’s hard to own our waking moments, our downtime, our day, when we have some many things to do to make sure we can pay our rent, and secure our place in this cycle that gives us this “comfortable” lifestyle. Giving yourself a space of vulnerability is difficult, but once done, I find it can do wonders for my state of mind.

For June, I hope to carry on the daily mantra challenge, and hope to utilize the Relax Guided Breathing feature on my fitbit to help center myself and have “mantra time” on my commute to work.

One word that I used in a lot of my mantras was “today”. Saying it makes me feel more grounded in the moment. Today – Today is still today. Today is not over. Today you can. Today I will accomplish x, y, z. What are some mantras that help you get through the day? Do you pair it with a breathing exercise? Do you say it out loud or quietly to yourself over and over? I’d be interested to hear how you incorporate mindfulness into your daily practice.

Planner Layouts

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…and that concludes my monthly report in Illusions of Productivity =)

May Creative: Paul Dab founder of Fete Concert Series

Monthly Creatives

headshot beach windyMeet Paul Dab, pianist and co-founder of Fete Concert Series currently living in San Francisco, CA. Like Paul, I share a passion for classical music and admire his work and creative endeavors to bring the beauty of classical music to the social sphere of San Francisco’s night scene.

As an Orch Dork (orchestra dork) in high school, my friends never quite understood (especially at that age) the transportive experience I felt, and still feel, when I intertwine in melodies with a quartet; or ride a wave of sound with a grand orchestra. I found myself trying to hide the fact that I was in the school orchestra. People often think classical music is boring. But there is so much more than watching a symphony in a concert hall (which is still majestic in my book). Classical music can be intimate, funny, conversational, and so much more; if you get behind the story of what composers were saying through those little black dots, lines and squiggly marks, it’s really quite interesting what they conveyed through music. Not to mention, the incredible history of a written piece, how sound travels (and survives) through time, as musicians tackle on the notes through different eras and different perceptions -the musical idea still remains the same.

Paul and his crew really bring this essence to the public, and it’s worth sharing this experience which is why I am excited to feature him as my May Creative. I had a great time talking with him over coffee as we shared our passion for this misunderstood art form in the mainstream. If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you check out his show and experience their creativity first hand.

In fact, their next show is Saturday (May 6th) !

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How did Fete Concert Series come about? Who is part of it?

Fete Concerts began in 2014 when two of my fellow students at SF Conservatory, Annie Smith and Chelsea Hollow, decided to plan a recital featuring the music of Richard Strauss on his birthday. They asked me to be their collaborative pianist and they commissioned composer Eric Choate to arrange Happy Birthday in the style of Strauss. We included a reception of wine, cheese, and homemade birthday cake. This became the basic format for Fete Concerts and the name came after the second concert. Since the beginning, Chelsea, Annie, and I have been taking care of the programs, venues, receptions, finances, and marketing as a team. Each season has become a bit more organized and fluid.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

How are you personally connected to the mission? Explain a little bit about why this is your passion project…

The mission of Fete Concerts is to display great works of music in a lively environment that encourages socializing and discussion. Each concert is a chance to delve deeply into the work of a specific composer. It is also an opportunity to discover the work of a composer I didn’t know about. As a performer, I get to choose the repertoire that we play and make a program that flows well. There is no one telling us what to play and so we let our love and passion for music guide the process. During each concert we teach the audience about the composers life to give context to the music and introduce each piece with a bit of our personal connection to it. Communicating with the audience about the music I love is a joy for me. It makes me more comfortable in my performance and gives the audience some direction in their listening. We also engage with the audience during intermission and after the concert so they can ask us questions or share their own opinions. This encompasses my dual passions of playing music and discussing music with others.

Photo by Betsy Kershner, 2015.

When did you fall in love with classical music and what made you decide to take it on professionally (going on to graduate school…etc.)

headshot5There is a saying that you don’t choose music, but music chooses me. This has certainly been the case in my life. My grandparents decided to bring me to piano lessons at a young age and I did not stop taking weekly lessons until after graduate school. There was never a question in my mind that I would pursue music throughout my school life and beyond. I chose to attend a high school with a strong performing arts program instead of one with a stronger academic program. This school provided a community of like-minded students and instilled a sense of professionalism in the way I purse my musical life. I played piano, percussion, and violin in different school ensembles but when it came time to think about college, I turned my focus to classical piano and never had a second thought about majoring in piano performance. In college my desire to practice and study piano grew stronger and the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep discovering classical music. There has never been a doubt in my mind that I want to play piano every day of my life and I am working on a career that makes that happen.

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

I love bluegrass music. I lived in Nashville for five years and found out that I love listening to string bands, mandolin, and fiddlers. There is a great joy and energy in the music and a sense of community among each ensemble. Bluegrass has a great mix of virtuosity and simplicity which draws me in. The solo lines and the accompaniment are sometimes complicated and sometimes straightforward This genre of music is almost impossible to replicate on the piano and so I experience it as a spectator. One day I may pick up the violin that I haven’t played in over a decade and try learning some fiddle tunes.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

What does your practice look like? Do you ever run out of inspiration? What are some mental obstacles you face as a working musician? Are you working/learning a piece right now?

I try to keep a regular practice routine every morning at the very least. I have technical warm ups and I have music that I am learning for different performances. I structure my practice around specific goals so that I can keep track of my progress. When life is busy, piano practice is the thing I look forward to and the thing that can also get left aside. Lately, my schedule has been busy and I have several exciting projects and so inspiration is easy to come by. That is not always the case and there are times when I don’t feel inspired to practice. If I am able to, I allow myself to take a break. If I need learn music without that inspiration, then I must structure my time and goals so that I can work efficiently. I also have certain pieces that I can practice and play that will always feed me inspiration. A mental obstacle that I often face is the desire for perfection in what I do. Often times I can hear the music in my head exactly as I want it to sound and I must make a plan for how to make my hands create that music. I try to arrive at each performance with confidence in my playing, however there are always things that can be improved. The concept of what is a perfect performance changes and can never be fully achieved.

What is your favorite piece right now?

Chopin Nocturne in Eb Major Op. 55 No. 2

Any last words about your love and appreciation for classical music? Give me your 1 minute pitch!

Classical music contains an incredible range of styles and characters which give us entertainment, joy, and beauty. By appreciating old music we can see how emotions, struggles, and pleasures from the past still exist today. In listening to music, we connect with people across time and place, giving us the strength to move forward.


You can catch Paul’s performances on Fete Concert Series’ socials.

Please check them out and show them some love!

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