To Be KonMari Clean (Reorganizing & Spark Joy)

Cherish the empty spaces

After donating, recycling, and throwing away the rest of what I no longer need or love, I was surprised that I actually have shelves and drawers left empty. And I have to remind myself that empty spaces are the best medicine for my sanity.

Now I’ve lived with my KonMari-ed room, I am proud to not pile things up again. One empty shelf is now the holding place for things to be give away, either going to friends or for donation.

Reclaiming the joy of paper crafting

kvissle IKEAFor my desk, I have two metal boxes from IKEA, holding the most used items. The boxes come with cork lids but bits of cork fall out all the time. So, I decided to make lids my way:

  1. Instead of having to remove the lid, the new lid act as a hinged cover. It’s much easier to open and shut.
  2. paperBoxLidsNo more holes in the lids for dust to get in the boxes.
  3. Have my own design: I wanted white cover but found the contrast too sharp for my desk. I added a stripe of real cherry wood veneer. (By Arc Crafts on
  4. This process also helped me reduce my specialty paper collections. My collections are my sentimental items. I figured the more I used now, the less volume (i.e. pain) I would have parting with them.
  5. paperBoxInsertI had great fun making and designing the lids, therapeutic while productive, exactly how I roll.
  6. Since white dirties easily, I also made inserts to line the boxes. See the bright yellow poking out from the bottom of the black insert? Sparks joy everytime I raise the cover.

Repurposing & make it yours

You may not be a paper nut like me but try repurposing what you do collect. Marie did suggest to use what you have on hand to save money as you reorganize your items. You can’t buy read-made items to fit your every need anyway, why not make them your own?

A Design for Creativity

creative juicer hand stitched notebooksMy last post on the book 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman was on happiness. This time I was inspired by the chapter on creativity.

For this notebook called, the creative juicer, I combined two of his suggestions.

Using the color green and a repetitive pattern with one altered element. Both have been scientifically proven to increase creativity.

So, I made these to take with me everywhere. And whenever I need to get my creative juice pumping, all I have to do is first think of the problem at hand then glance at the front cover of my Creative Juicer.

Vuala! That’s all it takes.

Like to have your very own creative juicer? Leave me a note and I’ll be in touch.

Weekly Planner, Design + Trial

Trial Weekly PlannerWhile visiting old friends (a couple) at their new house, I gave out my NeedsToNote imperfect notebooks. The husband doesn’t find SmartPhone as easy to use as a notebook, since it’s easier to change things on paper and it doesn’t require a battery.

So, I designed this for them with their Chinese initials on the covers and 1st inside pages (to avoid accidental mix up.) I knew I can always work through the technical/software challenges, and after a week of testing and tweaking, it’s finally done.

Trial Weekly PlannerMy friend wanted something he can put in his shirt pocket, so it’s about 4″ x 5″. Since everyone is getting on in age, the fonts and spaces are as large and I can make it. As a trade off, it’s a pretty thick planner.

As far as production concern for sale on the NeedsToNote online shop… I think I’ll offer a larger size planner (about 8″ x 5″). The smaller size makes more sense only if I can sell 2 at a time, otherwise I will have 50% waste, which is against the NeedsToNote mission – produced with least waste while easy to recycle. The larger size planner will be bi-weekly so it’ll be thinner and more mobile.

So, the next step is to design a larger size planner and then offer to personalize it with a Chinese character from the customer’s name or of a word of customer’s choosing.

Show Your Inner Colors

Inner Colors Hand Stitched NotebookThis set of notebooks has been longtime coming. It was the first few ideas I had for my NeedsToNote shop but something about it just won’t let me list it online.

When Linda did her reviews on a large version, she mentioned that she couldn’t tell which side is the front. I listened and put a notch on the front. It not only solved the usability problem, it lets the color inside show through. That’s when I knew it’s ready.

I also had a lot of fun taking the product photos!Inner Colors Hand Stitched Notebook

These notebooks come in 5-pack or 3-pack, both offer you the choice of color combinations.

I love colors so I’d go with the 5-pack combo but feel free to be yourself and don’t be afraid to show your inner colors!

Progress Journal

progress journal hand stitched notebookProgress journal flip book effectprogress journal hand stitched notebook

The original idea was for a custom request for a person ready to go on a pilgrim walk in Europe.

The flip book element that fades “Fog” into “Enlightenment” is to represent progress. And since more often than not, we learn and grew a little bit at a time, so if you look at the element one page at the time, the change is very small. But if you fly through the pages, then you see the transformation taking place.

So, whenever you found yourself in frustration, trying to push something through, just look at the upper right corner and remember that every little effort counts, even though you may not see it right now.

To purchase this notebook or see my other handmade paper goods, please visit the NeedsToNote Esty shop.

How I make my hand stitched notebooks

Best Selling Romance hand stitched notebookA fellow Etsian asked me if my notebooks came ready made and I just added something to it. So, I think I should explain my process.

Before I go on, in my notebooks, you will usually find that the first/last inside page is different than the rest. I did that because I use them to as the place for the table of contents and notes. But if the design/purpose doesn’t call for it, then it will be the same as the rest of the inside pages.

If I have a cover design in mind:

  1. I select a cover weight paper that fits with the design
  2. Print the design using my laser printer (so the design won’t fade by water droplets) but a few designs do require ink jet output.
  3. Select the first/last and inside pages to go with the cover

More Examples: “Your Way, Yes Way“, “Idea Reservoir

Roses Set hand stitched notebookIf I find paper with interesting pattern or texture, I’ll pick something different for the first/last page to go with the pattern or texture.

For the inside pages, I usually use quality white paper that is much more opaque than copier paper. If the design calls for it, I’ll use the color paper. In is case, the notebook might have less pages because color paper is thicker than the white paper.

Winter Trees hand stitched notebookOnce the paper for the cover, first/last and inside page are collected, I use a color cotton thread that goes with the notebook, then hand stitched them together.

The last step is to cut the notebook into the final size. And depending on the design, I decide to round the corners or not. Most of the time I do because straight cut corners tend to get bent.

I try my best to find materials that are made of recycled materials and/or can be recycled and often decides against designs that will make my products hard to recycle.

Thoughts Flow Handmade Notebook

Thoughts Flow Suminagashi Handmade NotebookMary Hayward, the host of Kenji’s Light of Hope event, left me a comment to see if I’d be interested in donating my notebook for their fundraising event to aid the The Igari Music Therapy Research Center which was damaged in March Japan earthquake.

I knew the participating artists have amazing pieces, so I had to do something new. And to go with the theme of Japan, I used the Suminagashi (Japanese paper marbling) technique to create an organic background. This forces me to break out of my usual geometric self.

For the cover I place two kanji characters:
Thoughts (思): prayers to send to Japan, inspirations to flow on to the paper from the owner’s hand.
Flow (流): unending streams of the word and of the ink on the paper

I hope the fundraising event goes well and my notebook will go with my best wishes to someone with a big heart.