making it better – my filofax fauxdori flex

While I have much love for my Filofax Flex, I like the style of the Midori Traveler notebooks. After struggling to corral all the notebooks I like to transport around the house or to a coffee shop, I realized there was a very simple solution.

I converted the flex to a fauxdori.

Now I can enjoy the best of both worlds! I keep my planner slid into the right-most pocket so I can have it open and see most of it along with whatever notebook I’m currently using. I use elastics to contain the other notebooks.


It was a quick project, and I only needed to purchase the eyelet kit because I didn’t have any in this small size. I found the elastic in my sewing bin. All other tools live on my workbench.

I’m happy to give this tool a renewed lease on life. I made this change back in April and have been in love since!

Now I’m having the annual mid-year planner debate. I’m tempted by the hobonichi cousin, the Leuchtturm1917 Academic Week Planner A5 Medium 2016 – 18 month one double-page spread per week, and the passion planner.

Have you recently improved a tool you love to make it even better? Are you itching for a new planner?

#yearofmaking the Maker

I honestly didn’t know how this year-long project would impact me when I posted the first picture a year ago.

I have a love hate relationship with labels, probably because they often have negative connotations and well, I’ve been difficult to label for a long time.

I was surprised to realize as I posted yesterday’s #yearofmaking image how it really does define me, and I continued with that theme in today’s photo, ending and beginning as I mean to go on.

In the past year, I realized something that’s been true all my life.

I’m a Maker.

(Yeah, I know, sometimes I miss the very obvious!)

I’ve been making from an early age and my mum and dad always made stuff. Eating out was a rarity when I was growing up and while mum had mostly stopped sewing clothing by the time I was born, there was still lots of making in our home, every single day.

I also make many things every single day. Some of those things are made from words that I reorganized into code or prose. Others are made with a stick or two and string. Even more is made from things I may have planted into the earth, tended, and transformed into something edible. There are so many other things too, they shouldn’t feel left out.

What I love most about this project is how it forced me to slow down and reflect on what I was making that day, and say thank you. I am thankful that I have all of the parts (cognitive and material) necessary to make just about anything I want. I am thankful that I can take a few moments to step away from work-that-pays-bills and make something just because I can.

Do you want to join in and make 2015 a #yearofmaking, but aren’t sure how exactly to start? Kim Werker can help you with her new ebook, it includes worksheets to print, links to click, and quite a bit of motivation within its 35 pages. I urge you to check it out if you would like to have some help. I also highly suggest her book Make it Mighty Ugly if you worry that it all has to be perfect the very first time!

This coming year I will again be posting primarily to instagram and also sharing it to twitter and flickr. I hope to focus on something specific that I’ve been making that day, but sometimes the days are like the past few and there’s so much making going on it’s hard to decide on just one thing. I really hope you will join me for this new #yearofmaking.

reading as i mean to go on

2014-12-31-libraryJust about a year ago, I announced I’d try to read 52 books from our library in 2014.

Did I make my goal?

As of 6p on 31 December 2014, I read 47 books from our shelves.

I also reread 12 books.

Technically I made it.

I very carefully left several large gaping holes in this goal. While I really hoped to complete 52 books I’d not read before, re-reading books was possible. I love re-reading and I also love discovering new books. In addition, we wanted to clean up the library and make sure everything was catalogued so we didn’t purchase duplicates, there likely was a reason a title “looked good”.

How large were those gaping holes? Looking quickly at my list, at least 20 of the 47 books were acquired this year. Most of them at various library book sales over the summer, including an amazing one where I picked up most of the first decade or so of the Sword and Sorceress series for $1/each (note: I’m looking for volumes IV, VII, and all volumes from XII onward) .

That wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but it’s ok. I learned something about my reading habits this year.

I read throughout the day. I like to read for a bit during my faux morning commute as I transition into work. I like to treat myself to something fun during lunch (so I take more than 15 minutes and don’t inhale the food, I was trained to eat as fast as possible and get back to work, it’s not healthy). Our nightly routine includes as reduced as possible screen time starting a few hours before bed and no e-reading in bed, even with display filters (so many studies about why that I could link to, here’s a recent story: For A Deeper Sleep, Forgo The E-Reader Before Bed).

This year my biggest discovery was that I really like to read short stories before bed. Why? Well, I am highly susceptible to the reader’s sleeping disorder, and I’ve learned that short self-contained stories help me unwind, feel accomplished, and have closure before the lights go out.


Here’s a link to my 2014 ROOT list and all 115 of the books I read this past year.

What are my 2015 reading plans? I’m ending 2014 as I mean to go on. Last night I began a short story anthology, Dragon Fantastic. During the next revolution of the earth, I plan to try to complete 52 physical books that we own (I can purchase them at any time) that I’ve not read before or haven’t read in the past 5 years.

Did you meet your 2014 reading goal? Have your plans changed for 2015?

another tale with two swifts

There are phases we go through. For many years I needed everything with me all the time. So I could be prepared for anything life threw at me. That was okay, but on many levels a bit absurd (though if you are in this phase of life yourself, I will not dissuade you). E tried many times to help me lighten up (see what’s in my tumi bag, planning or planned, and bag problem), but I wasn’t ready. Even through some excruciating neck and shoulder pain a few years ago, I still justified the kitchen sink.. and then some.

Now it wasn’t as bad as it could be. Since my first Tom Bihn bag in July 2010, I discovered that they are a bit of a real world interpretation cross of both Mary Poppins’ magical carpet bag and Hermione’s undetectable extension charmed beaded bag. I’m not sure at all how Tom does it, but I found that I could fit everything that I needed into a bag and it would fit and not weigh at all anything that I expected it to.

tombihn-copilot me & my tom bihn co-pilot & the cat

About two years later, my work needs changed as a hobby became a business (yes you deserve to be paid). I then needed to carry more oddly shaped objects and while the co-pilot was a wonderful bag for many things, a change was required. So after much internal debate, I acquired a Swift — the bag that first introduced me and many knitters to Tom Bihn‘s genius.

Surprising everyone, including myself, it wasn’t black. I bought the olive/linen combination so that I could use it year-round, not that I’ve ever cared much about fashion and the thought of a bag for a certain time of year seemed silly and frivolous (yet a bag for a certain use makes complete sense). Even more than the co-pilot, I found the Swift magical. It held everything, in just one bag. It looked amazing (even after I spilled coffee on it). It wasn’t heavy. It could handle both businesses and look good in all situations.


But it was a bit big. But that was ok. When I left the house in the morning I wouldn’t be back for hours and never quite knew what the day would throw at me.

sprossling at rhinebeck Tom Bihn Swift

Two years ago I transitioned to give my businesses my complete attention. That meant that most days, my commute no longer involved trains, but just a walk downstairs to my office. While I need to transport things within our house, in general I didn’t need to carry much outside and I was rarely gone the entire day. So I carried a mostly empty Swift more days than not. I had another tom bihn bag, a small cafe bag, that I tried to use for errands, but it doesn’t quite work for me. The proportions are just off a bit and it never felt right.

Last year at TNNA I finally saw the little swift in person and was amazed at the compact size, especially next to my behemoth (which at the time was stuffed past the gills full). I thought it might work for me as I was tired of schlepping, but was hesitant to spend money on something I didn’t exactly need. I waited. And waited. This very long drawn out never ending winter, after being tired of many layers and bulk and feeling that most of the bag wasn’t used most of the time, and learning that my colour combination is highly desired among knitters that I realized I should just try and see if the Little Swift worked for me. Only there was a problem. The combination I really wanted black/black/steel was no longer produced. I love purple, but the Ultra Violet is a colour I just really dislike on its own. So I was hesitant to have one with an interior that I found repulsive. I asked online. I begged in various forums and no one had one to offer, so I finally bit and purchased a black/black/uv little swift.

A week later it arrived and once I filled it I realized that the interior did not bother me at all. Even the little bit that peaks out doesn’t affect me. YAY! (Such a firstworldproblem, I know. It bothers me more that I was bothered by this.)

As for holding all I need? I emptied the Swift directly into the new Little Swift. A perfect fit. I’ve been experimenting with caring even less — I can now do most (definitely not all) work with the tablet thanks to advances in software and hardware. While the little swift can carry my 11″ Mac Book Air if it needs to, I likely don’t require that service. It holds my tablet, notebooks, and a project bag with a pair of socks with ease.

Little Swift

Tom Bihn Little Swift very first impressions...

The UV purple is bright but I think I'm falling in love with my @tombihn little swift.

What's in my Little Swift

Here are some photos I wished I had while debating between the two sizes. I’m holding the bags in as much the same way as possible and shown with two different angles. The swift isn’t filled completely properly (it’s actually just with the little swift stuffed inside) but I hope the comparison is useful for someone.

Swift & Little Swift Comparison

I’ve been using it for three weeks now and am still madly in love with it. I love the black exterior, the UV interior doesn’t affect me at all. I love how I’m not carrying extra baggage I don’t need. It fits perfectly on my shoulder and I feel more organized and more important happier.

What does the future hold for the larger Swift? I’m keeping it without question for the next 3 months. Then we’ll see what happens.

Swift & Little SwiftSwift
Dimensions: 7.5″ x 12.5″ x 13.5″ / 190 x 320 x 340 mm
Volume: 950 cubic inches / 15.5 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)

Little Swift
Dimensions: 6″ x 9.5″ x 11″ / 150 x 240 x 280 mm
Volume: 500 cubic inches / 8.2 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)

Next is to decide on a travel bag and designing (and stitching up) my perfect thin and lightweight wallet.

Please click here to read all my Tom Bihn posts. Note: I personally purchased all items reviewed and all thoughts are my own.