5 Must-Have Notebooks to Organize Your Life

I’m a writer and also admit that I am very Type A. I absolutely love to make lists to organize my thoughts, ideas, tasks, and inspirations.

What happens when you put the two together?  You get a girl who obsessively covets and compulsively purchases anything paper-bound. Heck, I even work in the paper industry (yes, I get the Dunder Mifflin question a lot)!

My notebooks and journals are some of my most-prized possessions. Most people keep their lives in their smart phone, their iPad, or their laptop. I keep mine in these. My musings, endless to-do lists, blog ideas, wedding checklists, and everything in between are held in these pages.

I’m a lover of the written word, a sentimentalist who still enjoys sending handwritten letters when most send texts and emails (don’t get me wrong, I do that too). I love nothing more than the tactile feel of paper between my fingers and the joy I feel as I fill each page with my thoughts.

When I’m at a store and I see a neat notebook or journal, it doesn’t matter how many I already own, I’ll snatch it up. It can’t be helped.

So, what do I consider to be my “must-haves” for organizing my thoughts?  Here they are in no particular order. Maybe you’ll find a few you like.

 

1. Gratitude journal

Express your gratitude daily in this compact, hardcover Gratitude journal.
Express your gratitude daily in this compact, hardcover Gratitude journal.

 

For most of my life I’m sad to say I’ve been a glass-half-empty girl. I’ve seen other people’s boundless optimism and wished I was innately that way. I’m getting better, but that’s partially due to consistently reminding myself what I am grateful for each day.

This journal, picked up from an independent bookshop, contains a writing prompt each day for you to respond to.  I love it and I truly believe it’s giving me a brighter outlook on life.  Its bright orange binding doesn’t hurt either…

 

2. Idea Log

Idea Log
Idea Log

 

This. Notebook. Is Awesome.

This one is the newest addition to my arsenal. It’s a small, spiral bound notebook with a durable plastic cover that fits easily into my purse so that I can tote it anywhere and jot down ideas as the mood strikes me.

You’ll notice that the cover has a little slot to insert your pen or pencil for safekeeping. Gone are the days of rifling through your bottomless purse for a writing utensil, which happens to me all too often. The little elastic band attached to the cover is genius!

The book is divided into three sections:

 

Inspiration

A gridlined page allows you to write or sketch your inspiration. There are boxes in the upper righthand corner where you can checkoff the origin of your inspiration (web, magazine, etc)
A gridlined page allows you to write or sketch your inspiration. There are boxes in the upper righthand corner where you can check off the origin of your inspiration (web, magazine, etc).

Brainstorm

The brainstorm section is where you can take your original inspiration and develop it a bit more. There's room to include the project, date, loose ideas, sketches (if you're so inclined), your formulated idea, and whether the project was ultimately executed or abandoned.
The brainstorm section is where you can take your original inspiration and develop it a bit more. There’s room to include the project, date, loose ideas, sketches (if you’re so inclined), your formulated idea, and whether the project was ultimately executed or abandoned.

Project

If you decide the project you've been brainstorming has been developed enough to execute, you can plan the project in even more detail in the project section. Include your next steps, completion dates, and check them off when you're done.
If you decide the project you’ve been brainstorming has been developed enough to execute, you can plan the project in even more detail in the project section. Include your next steps, completion dates, and check them off when you’re done.

 

I’m using this to fully develop ideas for this new blog. It’s an excellent, portable resource, where I can capture creative ideas on the go.

 

3. Doctor Visit Knock Knock pad

This pad has a place for everything. Write the specifics of your appointment on top (date of appointment, time, doctor, location, purpose, etc). Jot down your symptoms before your appointment so that you can efficiently and accurately explain them to the doctor during your appointment. Take note of your stats when your doctor examines you (blood pressure, weight, diagnosis, etc). Finally, include notes about the doctor's orders, prescriptions to fill, etc.
This pad has a place for everything. Write the specifics of your appointment on top (date of appointment, time, doctor, location, purpose, etc). Jot down your symptoms before your appointment so that you can efficiently and accurately explain them to the doctor. Take note of your stats when your doctor examines you (blood pressure, weight, diagnosis, etc). Finally, include notes about the doctor’s orders, prescriptions to fill, etc.

 

I almost feel as though this notepad was created with me in mind. I’m pretty busy these days between my marketing day job, freelancing on the side, planning a wedding, and developing two blogs. My mind feels like it’s being pulled in twenty different directions at any given moment.

I always have the best intentions when I visit my doctors, but after my appointment I will often forget what the doctor said and what actions I may need to take. If you also find it difficult to keep on top of the details of your health, this is a fantastic resource for you.

I no longer need to call my mother in a panic asking her to remind me of the address for the dentist. And my doctors are no longer irritated by my blank stare when they ask me to detail my symptoms and I realize I’ve forgotten half of them (trust me, this happens).

4. Trio of bright, carry-anywhere notebooks

These bright little notebooks are perfect for writing down your ideas in free form fashion. Designate a specific topic for each one. Or use one for your weekly shopping list, one for your goals, and one for your home projects. The options are endless!
These bright little notebooks are perfect for writing down your ideas in free form fashion. Designate a specific topic for each one. Or use one for your weekly shopping list, one for your goals, and one for your home projects. The options are endless!

 

There were two things that drew me to these adorable notebooks, which you can find at Target. Okay, three.

1. The cheerful covers

2. The inspiring quotes on each cover:

         Looking at the stars always makes me dream. – Vincent Van Gogh

         Joy delights in joy. – William Shakespeare

         Happiness is a bright and shining thing. – Unkown

3. The price. These were $3.99. You can’t beat that.

 

5. Q&A a Day

If you want a record of your life and your musings but you are too busy to write full-fledged journal entries, this journal is excellent. It's a five year journal with just a few lines of space to write in for each day. Every day there's a new question to answer: "What do you want to know better?", "What details from today would you like to remember?", Describe your work ethic, and more.
If you want a record of your life and your musings but you are too busy to write full-fledged journal entries, this journal is excellent. It’s a five year journal with just a few lines of space to write in for each day. Every day there’s a new question to answer: “What do you want to know better?”, “What details from today would you like to remember?”, “Describe your work ethic”, and more.

 

When I was in second grade, our teacher asked us to keep a journal every day for a year. I enjoyed writing in it each day–so much so, in fact, that I kept a journal through elementary, middle, and high school, and into college. I must have 20 different filled journals.

When I entered the world of the working, things changed and I stopped writing daily, weekly, and even monthly. For a few years after college I wrote nothing, and though of course I have memories from those years, many of them will be lost forever as the years go by and my memory fades. What a bummer.

I still don’t have the time to write in a journal every day, which is why I really like this one. You can encapsulate your thoughts in just a few lines. I’m busy, but I’ve definitely got five minutes!

 

These five affordable notebooks and journals help me to keep my life organized and compartmentalized. What about you? I’d love to hear your comments.

Happy Writing,

R

21-day Whole Living Magazine Cleanse

Is anyone else out there extremely disappointed that Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine has been discontinued? I know I am.  For the past year I’ve had a subscription and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. When I received the January 2013 issue in the mail, I was immediately intrigued by the article about their third annual  21-day detox cleanse to “hit the reset button” after all that holiday indulging.

I perused the details of the cleanse and took a look at the 3-week meal plan. I knew right away that  I wanted to give the plan a try.  I had really never tried any type of diet whatsoever, and this one was quite extreme.  A bit of a challenge, I know, but I felt like it was something I really needed to do for myself.

The diet has several restrictions, though calorie restriction isn’t one of them.  The big one was to go vegetarian for the duration.  But there were six additional major no-no’s:

  1. no dairy
  2. no gluten
  3. no sugar
  4. no processed foods
  5. no coffee
  6. no alcohol

The plan builds on itself week after week and can be found here.

Week 1: the first seven days are the most restrictive and the most difficult.  The meal plan is very basic, allowing fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lentils, and oils/seasonings.  You could have black tea if you wanted caffeine.

Week 2: days 7 – 14  allowed back in fish, all beans and legumes, and all gluten-free grains.

Week 3: days 14 – 21 allowed eggs and soy back in.

Piece of cake, right? Uhh, no. But challenge accepted!

I had a few personal reasons for doing the cleanse:

  1. I absolutely LOVE food.  My family is full of cooks and bakers, and my father is a food critic.  I just get so much enjoyment out of eating.  I don’t eat to live, I live to EAT.  That being said, I have never really had the willpower to say no to food or drinks. What I wanted I would have. I realized I needed to test my willpower and endurance, and to see if I could make it 21 days without giving in to my vices. What are my vices?  Everything. I am a cofffee-drinking, carb-loving, wine-swigging girl with a huge sweet tooth. I love vegetables, but I also love wings, beer, cheese, chocolate, chips, and all those other delicious-but-terrible-for-you foods.
  2. I am getting married this coming November and wanted  to lose a few pounds to shape up for the wedding and our tropical vacation in St. Lucia (read: spending lots of time in a bikini).
  3. I spent November and December of last year almost constantly sick.  I decided that it was time to purify my body from the inside out, which is exactly the point of the detox cleanse.

I knew that to have any decent chance at accomplishing the cleanse I needed lots of support and motivation. My amazing fiancé and best friend both agreed to do the cleanse with me–how wonderful (and crazy) of them.  The night before day 1, my best friend and I went to Elm City Co-op in downtown New Haven and put more vegetables in our carts than I usually do in a month. We also bought lots of other random items: almond butter, red lentils, coconut water, almond milk, pomegranate juice, and lots more. We spent double what we normally budget each week (one of the unfortunate consequences of shopping healthy), and we went home and started cooking.

I could not have been more impressed with the outcome of the cleanse.  As you might be able to imagine, the first few days were difficult. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t think about canceling the plan by dinner of the first day. But with my fiancé and best friend in it with me, I had people to answer to. I had also picked up Moleskine’s Wellness Journal in order to keep track of what I ate each day, how I felt, what food I liked and didn’t like, what gave me adverse reactions, how much I weighed, etc.

90% of the meals were really delicious.  And the snacks were yummy as well.  I would make most of these regardless of whether or not I was on a cleanse. A few of my favorites were the red lentil curry sweet potato stew, the cauliflower “rice” stir fry, the acorn squash with kale & white beans, the portobello mushrooms, the black bean patties, the breakfast smoothies, the trail mix, the lime/chili pumpkin seeds, and the oat date bars.  Okay, I guess that’s more than a few!

French Green Lentil Salad
French Green Lentil Salad
Antioxidant Smoothie
Antioxidant Smoothie
Cauliflower "rice" stir fry
Cauliflower “rice” stir fry

I noticed after day 3 on the cleanse that I wasn’t obsessively thinking about food anymore, like I had been doing almost every minute of every day. I stopped being constantly hungry and moody too. I noticed that I started gaining more energy, sleeping better (which was a wonderful bonus because I’m a terrible sleeper), and my skin was rosier and clearer (another huge added bonus because my skin is extremely sensitive and breakout prone).

Although I tried to do my best, I should mention that I did not strictly follow the meal plan the entire time. If was very busy one night and didn’t have time to make the meal that was specified for that day, I swapped it with a quicker meal from another day. There were also a couple nights that my fiancé and I went out for dinner. On our Friday date nights, we chose a vegan or vegetarian option for dinner and strictly adhered to the plan rules. Our favorite local place is Branford’s G-Zen.

I should also mention that if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, this plan may not be for you. It’s very demanding, and I spent most nights cooking for three hours before I sat down to dinner.  Dinner itself doesn’t take that long to make of course, but sometimes I had to make lunch for the following day as well as a couple snacks all in one night.  I was pretty exhausted by each evening, but in a good way.

I felt such a great sense of accomplishment with each passing day, and my body and mind continued to flourish on the diet. I have had more energy than in a long time, I feel less bloated which I attribute mainly to the absence of processed foods, and I have lost 7.5 pounds.

In fact, my fiancé and I have been so pleased with the cleanse that we intend to follow it in some way going forward. We are meat eaters, and I don’t think either of us intends to permanently cut out meat, but we did realize that it was surprisingly easy not to eat meat for 21 days.  We plan to stick to a mainly vegetarian diet going forward, and to keep dairy and sugars at a minimum, to incorporate gluten free grains as much as possible, and to keep processed foods to a bare minimum.

I already own two excellent restaurant cookbooks–one from Claire’s Corner Copia and the other from Moosewood Restaurant–so we’ve got some excellent sources to use going forward. I’ve also been pinning vegan and gluten-free recipes on Pinterest like crazy, and at suggestion my vegan coworker, I ordered Kris Carr’s Crazy, Sexy Diet.  This arrived in the mail today and I can’t wait to read it!

Have YOU tried the Whole Living 2013 cleanse or any other cleanses out there?  What was your experience?  I’d love to hear about it!

R

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog

Hi there!

I’m Rebecca, a marketing professional in my late 20s living in the northeast.

I am endlessly inquisitive, creative, and always looking to learn.  My big life goal is to live life as brightly and wholly as possible. This blog is about my journey through the work world, wedding planning (I’m getting married this November), and life in general.

I have a lot of interests–some might say too many!  But here are just a few: discovering new music, health, learning to cook new things, interior decorating, traveling to new places, fitness, fashion, watching movies, curling up with a good book, Pinterest (!), researching marketing trends, beauty tips, organizing, wedding planning, drinking wine, sipping tea, DIY, art, WRITING, and everything in between.

I hope you you’ll join me for the ride, and that you’ll enjoy reading about my musings, interests, and learnings.

Happy reading!

R

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Rebecca Cretella