Tips From A Planner Addict On A Budget

Learn how to feed your planner addiction while staying within a budget.


Don’t get me wrong, I love perusing all the planner accounts on Instagram, but I’ve always been the kind of person to do my own thing. Especially when I’m doing said thing on a budget. I’m a part-time librarian, so we really rely on Husband’s full-time job. But, just because we keep our purse strings pulled a bit tight doesn’t mean I can’t decorate the hell out of my planner.

It all really comes down to reusing things most crafters already have in their supply. I do buy things on rare occasion, but I also rely heavily on my local public library (also coincidentally my workplace). A library?! Oh, yes! Read on to find all my juicy tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you strengthen your planner game!


Your Planner

My planner goes everywhere with me. Work, meetings, the grocery store- everywhere. So, it matters to me that my planner will stand up to being tossed into my tote bag (and under my desk, and under my rolling desk chair…). The second stipulation is customization. If I can’t completely change it then I will get bored of it fast. I love to add flare to my things, but not when the planner sets me back $60.

My solution: I simply use an A5 three ring binder!  It’s simple, clean, and serves it’s purpose well. I can add my own covers, and decorate literally every inch of it while trusting the rigid structure to protect my ideas. It’s perfect!

The Takeaway: Planning shouldn’t be about what brands you use. It should be all about your brand.

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How I’m Working Books Back Into My Life

Shocking confession: I’ve kind of fell out of love with reading here recently. I spend so much time stressing out about books at work, that I found it hard to commit and bring one home to, you know, actually read. But that’s all going to change. I hope. And it’s all going to be because of a bookmark.

I once read an article about a professor who loved reading novels. Outside influences took more and more of her attention, but when she finally had time, she found that the idea of reading to be slow. We grow accustomed to a face paced lifestyle, but there is a lot we can gain from slowing down a bit. For one, I agree with Neil Gaiman; there’s nothing wrong with good, ‘ol fashioned escapism. There are about a billion other benefits, but I’m really looking for a stress reliever.


The problem I have is the same as that nameless professor; I find it too goshdarn hard to slow down. But, I’ve got a couple of things up my sleeve that will help me turn off my inner critic. Like:

  1. Timers – the Google Play store is full of them. If I’m not worried about watching the dreadful countdown ’til my shift, it would follow that I will be more willing to even pick up the book in the first place.
  2. Recommendations – I spend a good majority of my time trying to find books for patrons, but when it comes to finding something for me, I’m hopeless. That could possibly be because I’m trying to pitch stories to myself like I would for one of my teens. Expert advice: ask a librarian (who is conveniently not you). They have good recommendations or can point you to some great sites full of people who do nothing but read. I picked up Truthwitch by Susan Dennard at the suggestion of my Uppercase Box Postcard Swamp pal! If you don’t have a librarian in your pocket, you should hop on over to Revitalized Reading! I have the awesome opportunity to work with Danica, and can tell you from personal experience, she gives awesome recs! No, I will never stop shouting about her blog from my little mountain top!
  3. ENJOY IT – That’s a command! No, actually it’s something I used to tell my high schoolers all the time. If you’re reading a book you’re not totally into, you don’t have to finish it. Put it down. Give yourself the permission to be picky. Check out something different. Books are like people; you’ve got a match out there, it just might take a bit to find it.
  4. Pencil It In – Try scheduling time to read. If you have built your day around having free time to read, it will feel more like checking off something on your to-do list, rather than a guilty waste of time.
  5. If all else fails, turn it into a challenge. My problem is tuning out, so I created a sturdy cardboard bookmark with page challenges. When I hit page 20, I’m going to write a bit about my first impressions of characters. And since I’m telling you I’m doing this, there’s also a tincy bit of peer pressure attached.

It took me no more than five minutes to whip this up. Really. Mine is more about practicality, but you could add sparkle, washi tape, anything really that will make this your favorite bookmark. It should be like your little cheerleader whispering in your ear, “It’s only 2:00 AM, you should totally keep reading.”

Easy, peasy. It’s no-nonsense (ish) and will stand up to being thrown around in my tote bag all day.

If cardboard is too spartan for you, don’t worry, I found three other super fabulous bookmark DIY’s that could easily turn into jazzed up reading challenges.

Popsicle Stick Bookmarks

Idiom Bookmarks (links to Anthropologie, but don’t worry, you could totally do this).

Chunky Tassel Bookmarks

What’s your favorite book? Leave your recommendations in the comments and I’ll check them out!

It’s Hump Day, which means we’re halfway to the weekend, folks!

Happy Reading!


Crafternoon: Create Your Own Transforming Ninja Star

The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work with some amazing kids. Yesterday, one of middle schoolers spent a chunk of his afternoon teaching brand new sixth graders how to create a transforming ninja star. I loved watching the kids learn from each other; they all left with a new understanding of what libraries can offer them, which is always fantastic.


Learn how to make your own gorgeous transforming star after the cut! If you’re a librarian, or just curious about programs and maker activities, don’t hesitate to connect! I’m always looking for new ideas and different ways to accomplish more with my kiddos.

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How to Generate 20 Ideas in Twenty Minutes

Listen, I can hear your doubt way over here. It’s possible. I know it’s possible, because librarians live off surprise, spontaneous deadlines. You’d think we’d all be too busy shushing people, right? Nope.

This is how I create a year’s worth of viable programming options. But, first, you have to understand something about creating.

  1. No one creates in a vacuum. Not Picasso, not Bach, no one.
  2. T.S. Eliot once said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”
  3. Originality may not even be attainable any more.


Take yourself out of your environment. Find what inspires you. I like to immerse myself in sci fi visuals and set my soundtrack. Google Play gives music recommendations based on activities, and sites like ArtStation and Digital ArtLords offer searchable galleries from professional CG artists. My favorite distraction is ambient sounds; I prefer looped Star Trek noise layered over vocalless music. I’d also suggest searching the ASMR tags on Youtube. Autonomous sensory meridian response is a sign of low grade euphoria, and is usually triggered by everyday sounds (like someone writing on paper, for instance). If you are the kind of person who gets easily distracted, there are even apps to limit your time on certain sites.

Google Play is definitely one of my first go-tos.

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Awesome Magic: Circuits @ Your Library

Take a deep breath. Before you start, throw your inner critic into a corner. Circuitry might seem technical and difficult, but it’s actually quite simple. Me and my history degrees are proof positive of that. Well, me, my degrees, and Bob. Last September I built a fully functional game of Operation, named Bob, out of a “life size” cardboard box. I had no training, just helpful people that helped me grasp the basic concepts. Now, my department of me has conductive tape, sewing thread, and pen ink. My message: if I can do this, you can too.

Start here:

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