March 25, 2020

Las Vegas looks like a modern-day ghost town right now

I love this town.

I was born and raised in the south. What little family I had all lived in the same state. One day when I was still in high school, my grandparents went on a vacation to Las Vegas. When they came back, we picked them up at the airport. We were greeting them as they stepped off the plane and they announced right then and there "we're moving to Las Vegas."

Over time, we ended up here, too.

One week ago, we were given the statewide order in Nevada to close all non-essential businesses for 30 days. This included all of our famous casinos that people travel to visit from all over the globe. Yet right now, in our desert jewel, our world-famous fabulous Las Vegas strip and historic downtown are completely shut-down and nearly vacant. Some places have boarded up as if for a hurricane.

The photos and images I've seen online seem unreal, such as these posted on Twitter by @702sunshine and @vegasrevealed.  Resembling larger-than-life movie sets desolate and just waiting for the actors and crew to show up and make a movie.

Meanwhile, the people in this town are resilient and caring. In a town centered on entertainment, travel and tourism, much of our population is out of work. Our hockey team has made donations from their own money to help pay the out-of-work employees at the stadium that hosts their games. The casinos are donating money and food to people and to emergency funds.  The Nevada Chinese Society has just raised $50,000 for much-needed medical masks.  The schools that are also closed are providing free breakfast and lunch for the students during this time so no child must go hungry. And so much more.

In the aftermath of a tragic shooting on October 1, 2017, this community was Vegas Strong. Today, we are again. Moreover, around the world, we are all in this together.

Blessings and love to all, wherever you may be. ♡

#vegasstrong #inthistogether

January 29, 2020

vanilla folders blog and vf planner pages

This vanilla folders blog started out as my little jot-pad of my personal interests and will continue on as such right here.

When we started making planner refills a few years ago, we used the vanilla folders name. Today, I’m happy to say our refills are now vf planner pages.

Mostly this change is so that I can continue to blither my thoughts over here, meanwhile appropriately posting any shop-business-related stuff over at the vf planner pages shop without further mashing up the two.

So, blither-blog stays here.
Shop-stuff will be at the shop.

For reference, the newly-created links for the shop are:


January 15, 2020

Working to improve discipline with help from my planner

I'm fortunate to have a very decent memory.

Much of the time, I don't need to write down everything just to remember it, but rather to hold myself accountable to DO it or at least work toward it.

In the evolution of my work-life over the past few years, it's been a significant adjustment from working with others who depended on me to keep up with timelines and things that others needed to do, to now relying on just myself to actually push myself to do all of those things I'm writing down. There are definitely days I don't want to pick up the planner or admit that I'm not keeping my end of this arrangement...

I believe one of the best systems and methods out there for building discipline is the original Franklin Quest (now FranklinCovey Planner) system.  After I began to study this system a few years back, I realized it has so many layers and levels built in, and so many lessons of value. The more time you spend learning it, the more you learn about yourself.

I've adapted the core fundamentals of that system, and for these last few years have managed to blend it with my own planning style of years past. I don't use their refills but adapt the steps and formula to whatever pages I'm using at the time. Lately, it seems the Franklin Planner website has taken steps to include more guidance on their valuable planning systems. It seems this has been lacking in prior years, and it's encouraging they're making this information available for people who are looking at learning more about true planning beyond the level of a task list - more of finding the path, choosing the right direction and ultimately staying on the journey.

November 21, 2019

The Day Kate Missed a Tea (Kate Spade planners)

In 1999, Kate Spade launched her line of planners and agenda refills.

The launch was accompanied by a unique and endearing marketing campaign that somehow I was fortunate enough to experience at the time.

I can only guess as to how I ended up on the mailing list. Even though I admired Kate Spade's work and her successful brand, I hadn't purchased any of her bags, etc.  When we buy things from catalogs and online, it is possible to end up on mailing lists of other retailers. Possibly from my first Filofax, purchased via mail order from a shop in New York. I love to cook so perhaps it was a rare and special Sur La Table purchase or my back-then-subscription to Martha Stewart's Living magazine that landed me on the mailing list. Anyway.

One day (20 years ago) in the mailbox was a charming little booklet catalog entitled The Day Kate Missed a Tea. It tells the tale of Kate's little notes, reminders, and appointments scribbled on scraps of paper, scattered throughout her pockets and purse, subsequently missing a tea and needing to get organized. It goes on to present her new line of organizers and refills in the catalog pages.

I kept that little booklet for many years until I made an unexpected and unplanned move across the country, bringing along only two suitcases. The booklet was left behind. Even still, loving planners and paper as I do, I would fondly remember the little catalog from time to time.

A few years ago, my husband and I listened to her and her husband's interview on the How I Built This podcast and we loved their story so much about their early days in building their business together. We enjoy hearing stories of how and why people started a business...  especially because we run our little shop together as well.

And then last year I was deeply saddened after the loss of Kate Spade.

Someone so talented; someone with family. Even people we admire or we feel they have "everything" can also be suffering in ways we might not understand or recognize.

For whatever reason, in addition to my sadness, I began to yearn for that long-lost little catalog. My husband managed to locate one and surprise me with it recently. I didn't even know he was searching for it - it was a sweet and lovely surprise.

Kate missed a tea... and even though I only admired her from afar, I miss Kate.

The day
Kate missed a tea.
and other tales of organizing one's life
in an appropriately polite manner. 

November 03, 2019

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time and the associated time change exhausts me after all these years. Yet, year after year on this day this video never gets old! ☀️⏰🌵😂🤣

September 15, 2019

Other people's planner pages

Through the years, I've purchased more than a fair share of used planners.

Many of those arrived with an an assortment of some leftover pages - some clean and unused, while others have some writing on them. In some cases, the sellers of the planners weren't the previous users of the planners, so the partially-used pages were not theirs.

For some reason, I find myself unable to discard those used pages. They're not in my planner - instead they're stashed along with my other refills in a stationery box or zippy bag.

So a perfect example in this case is: I have a few Goals forms now, in someone else's loopy handwriting, with some of their long-term goals. Some are location-specific... across the country from me. Some are written in pencil... does this imply the goal wasn't from the heart - safely tentative by eraser -  or did they simply prefer pencil to pen? Some of their sheets didn't break down the additional steps and target completion dates at all, but rather have just the Goal written at the top of the page. Sometimes just writing down the sentiment is all that is necessary.

These goals are not mine, yet I somehow attached a value to them anyway on behalf of someone out there somewhere. In general, I try to stave off clutter and not cling to things that are not being used, or which someone else can be enjoying or using. Yet here are these pages I am still unable to discard.

Nonetheless, time and time again as I sift past these Goals, among some other sheets with someone else's plans, etc., I take a moment to wonder and I hope they did reach that goal, or if they changed directions, reached the new goal.

August 29, 2019

Working in a Classic Planner

A couple of years ago, I shifted my work planner into a Franklin Covey Compact size and I used that for a good while. I've since gone back to the Classic size (also known as Desk, half-sheet or 5.5" x 8.5").  Franklin, Day-Timer and DayRunner all make this size (regardless of what each brand calls it).

The current planner is an inexpensive, somewhat flimsy binder from the Day-Timer brand. It's an energizing shade - happy and bright hot coral-ish-pink-ish color. This joyfully un-fussy binder offers very little in the way of pockets, slots or gussets, but the pure simplicity of it has a hold on me right now. I just love it! The ring size is also great at about 1.25" it's what I've found to be my favorite ring size in this size of binder. Just right.

Day-Timer planner

I'm uncertain of the longevity of the binder materials although I've already had it a few years. Since I'm not yamming it into a bag or hauling it around out of the house each day it's been holding up nicely.

I'm using this work planner much like before, with a few modifications:

Monthly Pages
  • I use my Monthly pages now much more in planning ahead in my current work. This is more because I'm in charge of my own plans, rather than working for other people in charge of the plans. The monthly pages give me more of a vision now instead of a view of the horizon. 
  • We printed up some monthly pages sheets for my use in the Classic size (same format as we sell in other sizes). At the start of each month, I number/label the weeks on each row (as described here).
  • A regular note page is inserted in the middle of the month pages to list the goals and tasks for the month.  I like how it's sort-of in the way, because I see it constantly (no escape!). 
my monthly pages in Classic size

Weekly Pages
  • The weekly pages are a layout we made for myself, easy to read and with clean lines, based on how I've been using weekly sheets for so long.
  • Before we printed any, I was hand-drawing them for a while (much like here). I like to test-drive my layouts before printing. I also appreciate the reflection time along with the soothing and meditative experience of drawing out the page. 
  • I use the weeklies much like I did way back here, so:
    • agenda at the top, 
    • daily stuff in the middle section, 
    • lists and stuff for any time during the week all across the bottom. 

my weekly pages in Classic size

  • Daily sheets are not a constant. When I need one, I'm using a simple dot-grid page with the date hand-written across the top and just using the sheet however I feel that day - much like the freedom of using the bullet journal system. Some days I might use two sheets, and some days none at all. 
  • If the day's stuff written on the weekly sheet will suffice for that day, then that's fine. When looking back, if there's no daily sheet, I know to flip to the weekly sheet for that day's info. 

sample daily planner page on dot-grid paper
  • If I've been doing OK (getting chit done) I don't make my "time logs" each day. When I find myself wildly distracted or drifting off course, I will add the time logs onto a daily sheet until I get my act together again. 

Lists & Notes
I've developed some inexplicable aversion to filing my current working to-do lists behind a tab so they are usually sort of stuffed into the current week. In my defense, I do make sure to read through them each day or so to capture the relevant stuff into the planning pages.

August 14, 2018

Too Much Stuff in My Planner is a Distraction

One of the reasons I prefer to keep separate planners is for clarity and focus. My planners are used to keep me on task, on track, and remind me of what I intended to do in the first place, and reel me back in when I'm drifting off course.

I'm particularly bad about rabbit-trail thinking. I'll see one of my random notes and think of something else similar and then wonder about another thing, and so on. Some of my distraction hazards I've identified:
  • Lists, ideas, notes, etc. that aren't near-term to-do's 
  • Stuff that is out of context (e.g., home stuff in my work planner)
There is a time to refer to these other items, but since I don't review every single 'warehouse' item every single day, having them taking up space in my main planner causes me a loss of focus. Instead, having them organized into another separate binder or digital warehouse is part of my trusted system. 

Keeping these additional items clear from my in-use planner helps me do what I need to first and right now, and with being honest about my priorities. 

July 23, 2018

Suggested Notation in Your Planner for Monthly and Weekly Planning

Beginning last Fall, I've studied and practiced the original Franklin Planner and modern Franklin Covey planning systems. One of the strong parts of their system is the master task list - you have a master task list each month. From the materials I studied, the emphasis is to get your important items into a timeline.

In setting monthly goals or objectives, I have observed that I am very sloppy with that large chunk of time an entire month provides. I know that I know that I need to do a thing, the thing is on the right lists all of the time, and then next thing I know that whole luxurious month of plentiful and abundant time is coming to a close. Oops.

There are week numbers throughout the year on many calendars for all 52 weeks. That doesn't really help me with my monthly planning.

Being very weekly focused, I like to think of months as 4 weeks. So I've added a few new notations to my system which have been very helpful.

At the beginning of each month:

On my monthly calendar, to the left of each week I scribble in Week 1 on the first row, Week 2 on the second, Week 3 on the third and Week 4 on the fourth.

On my corresponding weekly planner pages for that month, I write the same Week 1, Week 2, etc. at the start of each week.

On my daily pages, I write the same Week 1, Week 2, etc. on each Monday, the start of my working week.

Any other lists for "This Week" get the same week number notation as well.

This small and simple notation has helped immensely for me not to get too comfortable swimming in that deceptively large pool of a month.

I hope this gives you some helpful ideas as well.

July 01, 2018

Mini Filofax planner swap for July - and why :)

I've changed up my main Mini planner today to my Topaz Filofax in Sapphire.

This is a sentimental choice, because this month of July is our wedding anniversary month. When we got married in Alaska, we had a small and simple morning ceremony with a handful of great friends in a beautiful little park, under a tree, alongside a little garden.

At the time, we dedicated this same Topaz Sapphire Mini to our wedding planning. We chose a simple event and a short engagement. From choosing our park to arranging a beautiful (gluten-free!) cupcakes order, to a breakfast after-party at our favorite downtown cafe, the Mini was a perfect companion to our plans and was always in hand.

Some planning is just fun!

This color was a limited edition, and the Topaz model remains at the top of my list in beauty and style (and of course, we all loved this red one when starring in the 27 Dresses movie!). So, this one is now in rotation as my main - same set up and contents as before (just the binder swap). Oh, and here are the photos!

vanilla folders
mini filofax - topaz sapphire (limited edition)

April 09, 2018

Suggestion for Recurring Routines in Your Planner

There might be some things you do daily, or frequently, that you just don’t want to rewrite again and again.

Here is a small idea that you might find useful for those times -

Every Monday-Friday morning, I have routine business tasks that - even though I already know I will be doing these - I like to block out that time in my planner. So, I have assigned a code to that first morning routine, in this case it’s “AM-1.”

I have second routine batch of tasks to do a bit later. So that code is AM-2.

Instead of rewriting anything else, I just scribble the short name into the timeslot.

I also have code-nicknames assigned to various schedules and routines throughout the week, whether they are weekly or some other random recurrence.  Such as “Fri-house” would be some home chores I (intend to!) do early every Friday morning.

This way, if you’d like to write or print out just one detailed list for each routine and give it a name, you won’t have to rewrite it in your planner on each day.

I hope this is helpful to you! Happy planning : )