Monthly Update December 2018 | Many, Many, Many Projects!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the December update blog!

I’ve been hard at work both at my day job (3D model design and texture painting), and my Tarot deck at home. The amount of work is heavy, but not unbearable, and I’m enjoying it, so I guess it’s a good deal. 🙂 I enjoy both jobs very much.

I’m itching to draw comics again, though, and I’ve got an idea in mind. Unlike my previous works, it’s not a gift for anyone – it’s a comic I’ve wanted to draw for some time, a story that aches to burst out into the world. It’s got the working title Paisley and Patch, and it’s the story of a rock star and a roadie. In one form or another, I’ve been writing this story since I was 15 or so, and I’m very hopeful about finally drawing it.

It’s a bit of a self-indulgence, but those often are the best stories. 😉 I’ll be reading lots of romance and drama manga to get inspired, and yeah, I’m just very excited about this very dear-to-my-heart story coming to light and to life.

But first things first, and that means that before I can seriously work on manga, I need to finish up my Tarot deck. There are about 48 images left to paint, and only 2 of them need to be inked (the rest are already ready to paint), so it’s just a lot of painting. I’m still on schedule to start test printing in March and have the proposed Kickstarter in June. I’m very excited about this whole thing. It’s going to be awesome. 🙂

I’ve been managing weekly videos over on my YouTube channel, which is pretty good by my standards. I was always a very sporadic YouTuber, but I’ve learned to build up a stack of videos so that I don’t actually have to do it every week, but rather have a bit of a buffer in case I get busy or things come up. Basically I work ahead of time and schedule videos, so that if I can’t manage to record anything, I can at least have those scheduled videos automatically posting for a few weeks while I get myself back together. 🙂 I’m currently about a month ahead of schedule – that is, most of December’s videos are already recorded, edited, and uploaded. It’s just a matter of YouTube posting them for me each week. Pretty handy!

Also, I’ve re-opened my Etsy shop, and I really appreciate the people who are shopping there. I don’t know how you’re finding my shop, considering that Etsy’s search algorithm has become really difficult to deal with, but you have, and I love you for it! I am so happy to be selling again, not even so much from a financial perspective (though it does help), but from the perspective of wanting to be of service and share my craft (notebooks, sewing, and art).

This is all a lot, but it’s helpful to be paper planning. I’m enjoying and having a lot of good results with my bullet journal, and have also been doing “daily diary” journaling to process thoughts and experiences. All in all, paper planning is helping me to keep it all together.

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I hope this blog finds you well, and that everything is going well for you. And until next time, as always…I hope you are having a really excellent day, and I’ll talk to you again very very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 11/19/18 | Fountain Pen Collections, Notebook Management, and My Thoughts on “Noveling”

Hey everyone!

It’s Thanksgiving week here in America, so to anyone involved in this holiday, I hope your Thanksgiving week is going very well. Whether you are engaging in a huge Thanksgiving meal, warming up your credit card for Black Friday, or fasting in protest of the entire holiday’s bloody, genocidal history, I wish you the best in you ventures.

If you are in the rest of the world, I hope you benefit from Cyber Monday.

I have spent the past few days writing, writing, and writing more. I have been a novelist far longer than I have been an artist or blogger or painter; my novel-writing actually goes back to age eleven, if you can count a 12,000 word document as a “novel.” (Hey, it was a children’s chapter book! I was aiming for a realistic goal for the time.)

I wish i could say I never stopped or looked back, but I did falter, in 2010 or so, when my health was getting bad. I just couldn’t write, for years, even after getting into recovery. I had written off writing (no pun intended) as something lost to the Crazy Years, something that wasn’t ever coming back. I made my peace and started drawing more instead.

And then, very recently, I just picked up a notebook and a fountain pen and started writing a novella based on an old idea I’d had as a teenager. A story of love, losing touch, and letting go; a story about risking reality for something better; a story about a girl who existed only in a reflection, and the boy who knew she was no mere mirage.

The result so far? 30 pages and about 2ml of fountain pen ink used up in two days. I’m so excited to see how this develops.

I’ve changed my notebook system. For a year, I was doing all of my journaling, to-do’s, and planning in one place – a Traveler’s Notebook. It worked great for the past year, but I’ve gotten so damn busy that I can’t really fit it all in a standard TN. So I’ve switched into…a bullet journal!

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I never saw myself as a bujo person, but here we are. I don’t do the super fancy style that a lot of people do, but I do use some of the standard features, mixed with my own planning systems, and it’s in what many people refer to as a bullet journal – a hardcover, dot-gridded, A5 notebook with a vertical elastic closure.

It’s helped me a ton, especially the habit tracking. I use a “Calendex” style habit tracker, and it has helped me a lot in the effort to track both my work and my self-care, because it lets me see at a glance how I’m doing in a certain day/week, and also lets me see which habits seem to be falling by the wayside more often than they should.

As for my other writing, I’m mostly using the same notebook in different copies/versions: my diary is housed in an A5 lined notebook with a soft cover, and my novella – the one I’m currently working on, anyway – lives in a bullet-journal style A5 hardback lined notebook.

My creative writing has always been on the computer, typed, but honestly, I think that the sheer novelty of hand-writing a story is challenging my mind to be more creative. I’m writing in fountain pen, and the romance of that alone helps me to get into a daring mood. Some people, when writing in pen, think “It’s ink, I can’t erase it…I can’t write at all.” Me, I think more along the lines of “It’s ink, I can’t erase it…might as well just go for it!”

It’s November, which means NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, if you didn’t know, is National Novel Writing Month, a project intended to challenge people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. It (or its surrounding community) is also pretty much, as far as I can tell, the source of the term “noveling,” a much-reviled word meaning, in rough terms, “to write a novel without really being a novelist.”

Now, I’m the first to admit that I used to hate the term “noveling.” I thought it implied that literally anyone could scribble down any 50,000 words and call it a novel and call themself a novelist. I still don’t agree with that ideology – but I don’t hate “noveling” anymore.

Honestly, my feeling is that any creative effort, however half-assed, is valid and valuable. So if someone wants to casually pen a 50,000-word YA romance, not let anyone else proof or edit it, publish it on Wattpad with poor formatting, and call it a day, that’s their right. In fact, I applaud it. Because the next novel – or the fifth one, or the tenth, or the twentieth – after their debut might be amazing. And if the pressure of being a “proper novelist” would otherwise keep them from writing at all, then maybe “noveling” is a saving grace, not an atrocity against the art of the novel.

So there are my thoughts on my latest novella, notebooks, and noveling. I’m going to close out and get writing. 🙂

~Taylor

Weekly Update 5/14/18 – Working in a Grimoire: Stationery, Studying, and A Touch of Magick

So, some of you may know (or not know) that I am rather esoteric in my spirituality. At my core, I follow Christ, but my path has been Pagan as often as it’s been Christian, and at this point I’m mature (and comfortable) enough in my spirituality that I don’t feel the two are mutually exclusive. I’ve always said that God is far too big for any one religion to fully define or understand Him/Her/Them, so why not use multiple traditions?

One thing I love about Pagan traditions is the practice and process of keeping a Book of Shadows, also termed a grimoire – a book of magick. [NB: Magick with a K is to differentiate spiritual, occult, esoteric magick from stage magic.] A grimoire, I always thought, had to be a book of rituals, written out in arcane prose; however, I’ve learned that a grimoire, really, is just a spiritual notebook. It doesn’t have to be ANYTHING other than a book that we write in (and even then, people have long kept Floppy Disks of Shadows rather than bound books).

On the eve of the New Year in 2018, I took a 110-sheet, 220-page sketchbook and carefully tea-dyed every single page. It was exhausting and took a good 8 hours or so (not kidding) and two days of focused work. My hands were dyed completely brown-orange, but it was worth it; I now have a gorgeously aged-looking blank book. I sat down and planned out what would go on each of those pages, and prepared to work on it.

And then, for five months, I didn’t touch the thing. Not a jot of ink has hit those pages yet.

However, I am re-committing to finishing that book this year. I am going on a trip this week – won’t say where, except that it’s a gorgeous, remote locale where I can get away from the NoVa craziness – and WILL be working on at LEAST pencilling in some text and titles in this book. I intend for it to be a Magickal Manifesto, a book of my experiences and the wisdom I’ve gained in my path so far.

We’ll see, of course, if I follow through. But as I’m going to be away from technology, cell service, and wifi for quite a while, I’m hopeful that I’ll eventually work on it.

Speaking of which, the Etsy shop is closed for now and will not open again until I’m back and settled back into my life. It’s still there, you just can’t order anything while I’m on vacation. I did this because I don’t want anyone to have to wait a week for me to ship their stuff! So thank you for understanding.

I’m off to sleep now, but I hope y’all are doing very well, and I send you all the best wishes in the world.

~Julian

Weekly Update 4-30-18 | Time Off, Game On!

Hey guys, it’s Julian. And I have been away.

Well, not really away. I’ve been right here, mostly making and packing and listing stuff for my Etsy shop. I hit 25 sales and I think Etsy’s algorithms must have (for some dumb reason) rewarded that, because all of a sudden I’m hecka busy and getting 3 orders a WEEK instead of 3 orders a month!

Like I said. Hecka busy.

I’ve been actually taking time off of my Tarot deck, and “artsy art” in general. I say artsy art because I NEVER want to say that things like design and bookbinding are not art. Making traveler’s notebooks and inserts is no less art than painting, so if you’re more a craftsperson than a painter, don’t ever say to yourself that you’re not an artist! But yeah, I’ve been working on bookbinding more than sketching or inking.

But it’s time to get back to it. My deadline for the inking of my Tarot deck is (hopefully) in mid-June, and I just found out I’m going on a super remote camping trip in May, so I really don’t have time to be taking a break.

I don’t really regret the break. I didn’t draw for about a week, and that’s okay. I was in the middle of losing a job and re-negotiating a lease, so I was emotionally exhausted and just couldn’t face the blank page on top of all that. All’s well now, though, and I really feel that it’s time for me to get my head back in the game.

Deciding when to take a break is not something I put a huge amount of thought into. If I’m too exhausted/overwhelmed/emotionally fried to deal with art, then my art is going to suffer anyway and I’ll have to take a longer break later, so unless I’m really close to a deadline, I don’t tend to think much of taking a break. I don’t take long breaks – rarely longer than a few days or a week – and I don’t plan my break. I don’t plan the end of it, at least. I just tell myself “I’m on break right now and I don’t need to think about work until I’m back to work.” Then, once I’ve been on break long enough to be able to think straight, THEN I think about getting back to work and when I should do that.

So that’s what I did this week. Monday I just said to myself “I feel dead, I’m working on losing a job and getting a new job, plus I have to deal with the leasing office, I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a break.” And it is Monday again and I didn’t really think about deadlines or workload or what percent I’ve finished, until yesterday. At which point…yes, I did freak out a bit and hurry back to work and inked 3 pieces.  And that’s freakin’ great! As long as I can finish my work, as long as the project gets done, I’m happy.

My point being: As much as possible, take breaks when you need to, and as much as possible, don’t stress while on break. But don’t let yourself STAY on break too long. I’m in a bit of a luxurious situation in that right now, at least, I CAN take a break from my art job for 5 days in a row. Not everyone can do that. I can’t break from my day job, but I can at least take away the stress of assigning myself 7-10 art pieces a week too.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. And that goes for caring for yourself, too. 🙂

Anyway, thank you to everyone who’s been reading along, watching YouTube videos, buying from my shop…it’s awesome to have this much support. 🙂 I’m really excited about upcoming videos (and yes, there are upcoming videos!), and am going to continue to do 2 a week whenever possible. I really do appreciate everyone’s support, though. You guys are the bestest. 🙂

~Julian

Weekly Update 4/2/18 – Arteza Frustration, Art Budgeting, and Day Jobs

So the Arteza brush pens are NOT working so great for me. 😦

There are several issues with their pigments, mainly that they reactivate so easily after being applied to the paper. This means no second layer, which is, to me, kind of missing the point. Watercolors can be layered. That’s, in my mind, how it should be…ugh.

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[Pictured: The issue with Arteza brush pens is that you can’t really go back over and do another layer or “wash,” and that’s one of the main watercolor features that I want to have.]

More importantly: There comes a point, in watercolor exploration, where you want to begin to actually paint with watercolor, and this requires “Actual Watercolors.” It’s unfortunate that the medium is expensive to get started with, at least in terms of artist-grade materials, but such is life with watercolor.

Ugh.

I’m looking at Mijello Mission Gold watercolors, which are lovely and artist grade AND reasonably affordable (ie not the $400 I’d be spending on Schmincke). I chose to go with tube watercolors because a) I like working straight from the tube, and b) I can always refill an empty pan palette with those tubes if I so desire.

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[Pictured: A cheap Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor pan set, to illustrate the convenience of pan watercolors. Fun fact: These Cotman paints are actually awesome and I need to use this little sketchbox more.]

Will still be working on 9×12″ Canson XL Watercolor paper, and with Dr PH Martin’s Black Star Waterproof India Ink, and the same old brushes and such. Just changing the paints.  In the meantime, I’ll be sketching and inking a ton. 🙂

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[Pictured: Ink work of the King of Cups from the Julian Tarot.]

I want to thank everyone for shopping with me last month – March 2018 was the best month my Etsy shop has ever seen!! I am amazed. I made about $90 and had 8 orders. I am so blown away by everyone’s support. It’s amazing. I can actually get those watercolors this month!! And yes, there will be an unboxing video 🙂

I’ve been making and selling a lot of traveler’s notebook inserts, which are the #1 best selling thing in my shop. I’m looking into making some personal-size ones, too, since those seem very popular too. To be very honest, I’m a little bummed that they get so many views and my paintings get none…but I am mostly just happy to have a hobby that pays for my other hobby (travelers’ notebook pays for watercolor).

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Are there any patterns you’d really like to see on the notebook covers? I’m open to suggestions. 🙂

Unfortunately/fortunately, I am leaving my current day job in a couple weeks. It’s just not been a good fit; I need a lot of training to do what they want me to, and they aren’t able to provide it, so I don’t see a point in sticking around and making everyone (including me) even more frustrated. It’s almost a relief, though.

I’m hopeful, though, that my Etsy shop will get me through the worst of the next few months. Watch for sales and new items. Here’s sneak peeks of what’s coming out on the shop soon…

And that’s about all I’ve got for today. Until next time!
~Julian

Midweek Update 1/18/18 | ANNOUNCING THE SECRET PROJECT! | Getting a Day Job | Midori Notebook Inserts On Sale

Hey y’all! It’s the first of (hopefully many) Midweek Updates. I do my main updates on Mondays but I intend to also have Midweek Updates on occasion. I am probably usually going to be too busy to do midweek updates, but I will definitely do them when I can!

The first and best item on today’s agenda is that I can FINALLY tell you about the Secret Project!!! Holy crap!! It’s the BIGGEST REVEAL EVER!!

So, I’ve been working with Ogreware (http://www.ogreware.net) over the past several months, and I…have illustrated their first game. It’s a fantastically addictive little app called Calling All Heroes, and if you’re interested, you can play it online. I have been working on the illustrations a lot over the past…oh gosh, over six months now. Here are some of the illustrations I did for them:

It’s honestly one of the most fun projects I’ve ever gotten to work on. I’ve been interested in concept art since I was a kid, and I love that I finally got to work on a game. There may even be more in the future, who knows!

In other news, I have gotten…a day job. I decided to get a day job so that money would work a little better, so that I could possibly move out of my current situation soon (ie with my current roommate). It’s not that my situation is bad or that I’m in danger or anything, it’s just really, really annoying and frustrating. I have a possible opportunity to move out this year, though, with a much better cohabitation situation, so I want to be able to save up money for down payments and such.

I don’t want to out myself OR the employer for our Real Identities, so I’ll simply say that I am working with a small business in the medical field, and that though it’s just a day job, I am very much looking forward to it.

Finally, I have restocked my Etsy shop with a bunch of new items, including a CRAPTON of Traveler’s Notebook inserts:

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Plus, I have 10% off EVERYTHING on my shop this month, so you can get these for just a couple dollars! Here’s the link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/julianjaymesart

Incidentally, I am ALSO selling off my old BJD (ball jointed doll), a Kid Delf Litchi from LUTS:

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She’s available here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/LUTS-Kid-Delf-Litchi-Female-BJD-MSD-Size-45CM-Punk-Dressed-Ball-Jointed-Doll/183023373604?hash=item2a9d0b0d24:g:vFcAAOSw8-FaX5-P (on eBay)

Well, this has been an extensive update. Thanks for sticking with it! Please use the Follow option on the left to get notifications whenever I post (once or twice a week). If you’re not comfortable with that, though, you can like me on Facebook and you’ll get the same notifications!

Thanks for your support! 🙂

~Julian

Making My Midori: My Traveler’s Notebook Knockoff Process

How I made my own Travelers Notebook! Real leather…real elastic…not real Travelers…but totally functional and beautiful!

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[The MichaelsDori, by Recollections at Michael’s.]

So I had, for about a week, a cheap “fauxdori” – an off-brand, faux-leather Travelers Notebook, from Michaels Arts and Crafts. I had one in Coral (pink) and I also got a calendar refill insert. It hasn’t entirely worn out, but it does show some wear already – more than I would like, for something I used for a week.

So I created The BrokeDori. Because I wanted a new one and didn’t want to plunk down $35+ for what amounts to a piece of leather with holes in it and some elastic bands. I call it The BrokeDori because it’s the Broke Girl’s answer to Midori Traveler’s Notebooks.

IMG_4334[The BrokeDori in action.]

I wanted a new one for several reasons:

First, because my MichaelsDori WAS starting to wear out, after less than a week, and I wanted one that could take a little more use and abuse. This is the kind of thing I’d carry around in my purse, and my purses tend to be full of other stuff, so anything that lives in my purses pretty much has to be tough as nails. (See also: my broken phone; the wallet with a hole in it; various bleeding pens; scratched up water bottle.)

IMG_4313[My old setup of my MichaelsDori. As you can see, I like to decorate TN’s.]

Second, it didn’t hold NEARLY the amount/weight of inserts I wanted – on a regular basis I have at least 4 or 5 in rotation, plus a couple of extra card inserts and a kraft folder or two. A little fauxdori made from cheap plasticky fake leather isn’t going to stand up to that.

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[Only four inserts?! ONLY FOUR?!)

Third, the aesthetic: There’s just something about real leather, and there’s also a distinct LACK of something about faux leather! I do apologize to the vegans, but for me, there’s nothing like real leather. And I thought that since the TN system DOES work very well for me, it was worth investing in the real deal.

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[it’s so BEAUTIFUL]

For an evening, my finger hovered over the “place order” button on Amazon, for a Camel color Travelers Notebook – yes, name-brand – but I held off, knowing that Saturday I could go shopping.

I held off, somehow, and waited for Saturday. It came, and I went shopping. Joanns and Michaels. No luck.

It was frustrating, but I had a trump card up my sleeve: I called my Mom. My mother and her mother both did a lot of leatherworking Back In The Day. My hope was that my Mom might have some leather lying around somewhere.

As it turns out, she did. A perfect, beautiful, huge piece of heavy, high-quality, aged camel-colored leather.

IMG_4335[Swoon.]

The price – which, on the market, should have been upwards of $75?

Spending two hours helping Mom clean out her office.

So within a day, I had a beautiful piece of leather and Mom had a well-organized office. Bam. This is why I always advise people to ask their friends before buying expensive supplies, and why I suggest offering to trade skills for goods. I am excellent at organizing and cleaning; my mom has an extensive collection of craft supplies. We make it work. No money exchanges hands – just skills and goods. Fuck capitalism.

Here’s my piece of leather:

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[This is after cutting out the piece. If you look closely, you can see where I marked for holes.]

I cut it very carefully, because you really don’t want to cut a piece of leather and realize that you cut it 1/4” too small. 1/4” too big, okay, that can be worked around. You can always trim. You can’t often sew pieces back together, unless you’re going for that look. But I spent a good 10 minutes just measuring, and measured as we went along, and I wound up with a perfect piece that holds about 6-8 inserts maximum.

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[After punching holes in the leather. No errors – I got lucky.]

I actually punched 8 holes for elastics – I wanted two sets of elastic, slightly separated. I did it similarly to how Recollections does their MichaelsDori knockoffs: two holes at the top, two holes at the bottom. I think it turned out beautifully. Again, I spent a lot of time measuring, to make sure I had them in the right spot. I also punched a hole in the center of what I’d decided would be the back cover.

(Note: That’s the one thing I really regret about the BrokeDori. I’d only ever seen the hole punched in the center of the back, so I did that – but I found out recently that some creators place it on the spine, and I like that look way more. Oh well. Next time.)

I then treated the leather piece with Leather Lotion.

IMG_4337[Mixed feelings about this stuff…)

Again, Mom and Dad just had some lying around (Dad works in an office and has a lot of leather shoes and belts and such). This was a bit odd to work with. I’m not entirely sure I like the texture – it’s extremely glossy, not the usual TN look at all – but it’s very well protected. If something should spill on MY Travelers Notebook, it is far less likely to be badly stained than an untreated, standard Midori.

IMG_4338[After one treatment of Leather Lotion.]

When I got home, I installed the elastics and tested it, then migrated all my various inserts from my weary Recollections TN into my new one. Perfect fit, nothing sticking out, and space for more if I figure out what else to put in it!

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[A few of my favorite inserts for the BrokeDori.]

My only complaint, and it’s very minor, is that the elastic I used for the wraparound elastic is a bit weak – I’d want a thicker, tougher elastic. The only thing I’ve changed since making it was to add another treatment of Leather Lotion, which resulted in a HUGE mess and having to buy leather cleaning wipes and panicking a lot.

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[Part One of the Leather Lotion Nightmare.]
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[A lot of praying was going on at this stage. ]
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[My travelers notebook in roughly its current state. The leather really is that rich red-brown color…love it!!]

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[I love that it holds 7-8 inserts easily and has space for more!

So…yeah. My homemade leather TN is here!

IMG_4373[Pictured with the elastics visible and a few of my favorite inserts already in.]

Bear in mind that all you really need for a TN is a piece of some kind of material. Faux fur, faux leather, real leather, suede, felt, fabric, plastic…Travelers Notebooks are a system, a concept, not just a specific branded product. There are so many tutorials on how to make one, I recommend this one by Ray Blake, who is, as far as I can tell, the Patron Saint of Paper Planning, at least here on the Internet. His tutorial is the best I’ve seen and it’s pretty much how I did it, only better (lol).

IMG_4341[My beloved.]

I’ve been really loving the Traveler’s Notebook concept so far, mostly for one reason: I never have to start over again. For most of my life, I’ve used notebooks to hand-write journals, notes for classes, bullet journals, diaries, etc., and inevitably at some point I get frustrated with how the journal is going and tear out some pages or throw the thing away, and get a new one. It’s irritating, though, because a) I have to buy a new notebook, and b) I lose all that work I did, plus c) I hate throwing things away.

So what the TN concept allows me to do is to have ONE notebook, modular, with several sections that I can take out or rearrange at a moment’s notice. If I screw up a notebook? I can take it out. If I want to add pages in one area? Pop in a new notebook! It’s really that easy, and I love that about the TN system.

Please welcome the BrokeDori to the family of my weird little life, and please welcome me, Julian, into the TN community.

Happy journaling!

~Julian