New Year, New Journal.

Yes, I’m totally eating black eyed peas and collards today, with cornbread and iced tea, because it’s over 80 degrees again here. I am taking no chances.

One of the few useful habits I’ve managed to maintain for years is my bullet journal. I wrote about it for a bit back on Ye Olde Blogge, two years ago, and what I said then still goes. I still enjoy seeing the pretty, artsy journals on Instagram and YouTube. I still do not have a pretty, artsy journal. I do have a journal I use every day, though again, I’ve utterly failed to turn it into a social media sensation. That would be because I haven’t tried at all to turn it into a social media sensation, because I suck at that stuff. (And because tracking the dogs’ heartworm meds and when I last changed the A/C filter isn’t exactly hot social media content.)

At the same time, I keep finding new things I’d like to keep track of in one place: book or recipe suggestions, for instance. So in this notebook I labeled two pages in the back of the book as “Recommendations” – so I can find those ideas again.

I learned the hard way that I really could use a Favorite Recipes collection. So 2021’s books will have a “Recipes” collection, where I will note the name and source of any new recipes I really liked. No need to put the entire recipe in there, I’ll just put the title and where to find it, like, Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils, Pinch of Yum. (That recipe is delicious, btw.)

I’m kicking myself right now because last year I found a really amazing recipe for black eyed peas and collard greens; I remember I really loved it and happily ate it for a week. Do I remember where I found it or what it was called? I do not. Apparently I didn’t even save it to Pinterest, which means it’s probably in one of my many cookbooks, but I swear to God I have no idea which one now. Half my cookbooks have a recipe for black eyed peas and I don’t recognize the “best” one. I will not have this problem in 2021. I hope.

I’m a very basic bullet journaler, but I do have a few favorite things that I use over and over again. I’ve tried a lot of different brands of notebooks over the years, but I keep coming back to this one: Leuchtturm 1917. A notebook lasts me roughly 3 or 4 months before I fill it. My OCD demands that I start a notebook at the beginning of a year/month as well, so I use roughly 3 or 4 notebooks a year.

I’ve tried cheaper notebooks, and with daily use the bookmark ribbons fell out, the elastic band broke, pages came unglued, or the paper quality was just annoying. After journaling for years, I keep coming back to the Leuchtturm. BUT – for someone who isn’t sure whether they’ll stick with it, heck, even Walmart has an inexpensive dot journal option.

If you really do want to get artsy and use watercolors and markers in your “bujo” this is probably not the right choice, you’ll want to go with a heavier paper. (“Bleed through” is one of the greatest tragedies to befall members of “the bullet journal community.”) In that case, some online (or YouTube) research might be in order. Many artsy bullet journalers review new notebooks on their channels, testing them with various types of pens and paint.

And if you want to have fun with it and can’t draw for crap (like me), there’s a lot of free resources out there, things you can just print and glue into your book, or print on sticker paper. There are free trackers for every possible purpose, from counting steps to saving money, to you name it. Just Google “bullet journal printables.” Warning: it is a rabbit hole of ideas.

But if you’re just thinking maybe you’d like to try to be more organized and maybe a bullet journal would help, my favorite little book on bullet journals remains Dot Journaling, a Practical Guide. There’s even a version that comes with a journal to get started. It’s sprinkled with commentary about journaling, looks at how journals were used through history, etc., and full of ideas for how to make it work for your individual needs.

Etsy is also a resource for decorating your journal with stickers and washi tape; I’m embarrassingly addicted to adding art to my notebooks in the form of printable stickers. They’re inexpensive, I download and print them myself and cut them out with small, sharp scissors. I have cuss words and Walt Disney quotes and classic art and vintage advertising; all sorts of little things I can add as appropriate. It became one of my 2020 shopping addictions, justified because “Hey, I can get all three of these collections of digital images for $6!”

Let’s just say that I now have tons of that stuff and have resolved to go cold turkey on buying any more digital downloads on Etsy for a while. We’ll see how that lasts.

It’s hard because they’re so cute and so inexpensive, like $2 or $3 for a dozen or so images, sometimes an entire collection, and it has become one of my guilty pleasures, but yeah, I need to appreciate and use what I have.

Which brings me to another plan for 2021: Use My Shit! I totally admit I online shopped for comfort and entertainment in 2020. When there’s nothing to look forward to but work and…more work, picking up a little somethin’ online really helped. But now, I have to admit I have plenty of little somethin’s and I need to freaking use it all. No online shopping (other than for household necessities/pet supplies) for the foreseeable future.

So that’s my plan to stay sane in 2021: journaling, decorating my notebook with stickers like I’m a tween, and daily yoga. All while drinking lots of tea.

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