Free Printable Menu Planner, aka Screw Menu Planning

While making pages for my DIY planner, I created this one weekly “What’s For Dinner?” sheet thinking that I’d learn how to plan out meals and grocery shop like an adult.

Nope.  I remain an eternal teenager, and not in that sexy vampire kind-of-pedophilia-but-he’s-hot-so-it’s-okay way.  More in a “I had a bowl of Lucky Charms for dinner every night this week” kind of way.  One thing I’m working on is the old adage “know thyself,” and while I might be able to plan in advance the general sort of thing I want to eat, I know me enough to know that if I do that, I’ll end up with a fridge full of rotten vegetables because every night I look at the menu and say “…no.”

I ended up chucking the sheet altogether, but I thought, surely someone out there can use this thing – it’s pretty!  There are people more organized than this writer, or who want to give it a try – planning menus in advance can save a lot of money if you’re the sort of person who can stick to it.  So I sized it up to full page and made some different colors happen, and lo, a free thing for anyone who wants or needs such a thing:

What’s for Dinner? pdf in ten lovely colors, some bright and some dark.  You can also click on the image below.

There are a lot of similar things out there, so this isn’t really a very original design – give it to whomever you want, do with it what you will, no strings attached. Unless what you will is illegal or at least skeevy.


The printable is 8.5″x11″, but you could tell your printer to print it in “booklet” form and conceivably get two on a page.  Whatever gets your motor running.  It only has dinner on it because by and large people have the same things for breakfast and lunch over and over – or lunch is leftovers from dinner the night before.  If you wanted to plan the weekend too (which tends not to work very well for most people, but your mileage may vary) you could write it in the Notes section at the bottom.

Have fun, and I’ll be back shortly with actual written content.  I just find making things like this really enjoyable, and my literary creativity of late has been nonexistent, so it’s nice to have something to share.  You can look forward to more of this sort of thing, but not just planner stuff – I have a good one in the works that’s more of a self-examination worksheet type dealybobber*.


* – dealybobber – Southern for “thingamajig”


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What Plan-it Are You From, Anyway?

You’re going to laugh at me. Hell, I’m laughing at me.

But first, I feel it fair to tell you that I’m writing this from the midst of a genuinely awful week – I’ve kind of cratered, emotionally, and though I’m slowly edging my way back out, it’s taking just about all my energy to even think about something fun like this.  That sucks because I have larger things to talk about; I just don’t have the wherewithal quite yet.  But first things first:

I love my Erin Condren Life Planner.  I honestly do.  I’ve had so much fun customizing it, and making things for it, and best of all sharing those things with my customers on Tiny Relics.  I have no intention of quitting the latter.

I have, however, decided to move to a new planner.

Go on, get it out of your system.

It’s a common affliction among those of us who love our organizational toys.  You’re just sure this is The One, only to find a month or two later that, meh.

Now, my ECLP is not meh. Like I said, I love it.  But it became apparent fairly quickly that there were certain issues I was going to have to work around if I wanted to keep using it.  The primary one is this:  I have to customize nearly every aspect of the planner to make it work in my life.  I have to cover section headers, add stickers with lists, clip in some things and take out others, and continually remove pages as I go to keep the thing from being too wide to close.  That’s only in February!  Granted, I’ve had the ECLP Since August, so that’s a good six months of use, way more than I usually get out of a planner.  But by the end of 2015 that thing is going to need its own team of ponies to haul it around.

My thoughts immediately returned to my old idea:  make my own planner.  Last time I altered a composition book, and it suffered from a total lack of structure.  Then it occurred to me that Etsy is full of printable pages for Filofax and other planners; people buy and print out the guts for their planners and keep the binder year after year.  I could totally do that, but make my own guts from scratch, and have them totally personalized to what I need my planner to do (meaning hold onto the little things flitting around in my brain, like dates and events, that I won’t remember thanks to my meds punching tiny holes in my memory for years).

So I sat down with my vault full of clip art and fonts and a huge variety of examples from all over the internet and got to work.  So far, I’m loving the results. Here’s an idea what I’m going for:

Note that Owen has already Christened it with his aggravating man-claws.
Note that Owen has already Christened it with his aggravating man-claws.

As I said, I bought this binder empty on Ebay for about $7.  You can get the Harmony brand new in brown and red, but apparently the green’s hard to find.  (Faux leather, embossed spine, neoprine or its nearest cousin) You know me – it was green, it had leaves on it, I was sold.  Also, it’s an A5 size, so its pages are just a regular 8.5×11″ sheet cut in half; that makes life easier for both making pages and using any I might one day download. That’s basically the same size as the ECLP, but with rings instead of spiral binding, which makes adding and removing pages soooooo much easier.

Here’s where it gets fun.  I sat down and wrote out a long list of everything I need a planner to do – if I could put anything I wanted in it, why not go for it?  I included spots to record writing progress, monthly goal setting pages, a page for my monthly Tarot reading, books I’ve read – you name it.

Then I made pocket dividers out of some decorative paper and loosely divided the whole thing into “current month,” “calendar,” and “lists and projects.”  My plan is to have a daily page for, say, March, as well as a weekly blog and meal planner; then when the month is over, compile any significant events onto the monthly calendar and put the daily pages in storage, leaving room for April.  That way I can keep the monthly spreads all year so I can reference the past, but without making the binder so full and heavy.

The daily page, first unadulterated and then labeled:

daily pagesdaily page


Right now, the rest is just lists, lists, lists.  I’m using the monthly goals sheet I shared here recently as well as some stuff borrowed right from my ECLP, like the bills tracker I made.  I’m taking the opportunity to try and combine planner, journal, and mind palace (at least a few rooms) by leaving the backs of the daily pages blank for notes and doodles; and there will be plenty of pasted-in and drawn quotes and ideas throughout.

So far I’m having a blast with this project.  All my experiences with different planning systems have taught me a lot about how I manage time (when I manage it) and what’s important to me; I’ve also learned a lot about tracking goals and creating habits, another thing this planner will hopefully help with.  I’ll be officially switching over to the new system March 1 (drumroll please!).

Here are a couple more pics of what I’m working on; if you’re interested in creating your own planner and aren’t nuts enough to start from scratch, I’ve created an Etsy Treasury to point you toward some really cool pages and sets.  Believe me, there’s one out there for you, no matter what your style or needs!  There’s even one for each House at Hogwarts.

My Etsy Treasury Page

Happy Planning!  I’ll be back soon with some more news (about something besides planners, honest).


monthly goals gifts and check out













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One (Almost) Down…

busyTo start off, a quick reminder – if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please consider doing so in the sidebar off to the right.  Last month subscribers were treated to the first unpublished chapter of Shadow World book 6.  I’ve got another cool surprise in store for the February newsletter, which will go out on Monday, as well as a nifty announcement (which I’ll also be detailing here, later in the week).

Here we are at the end of January – already!  Time has been passing very strangely for me since I moved. The workday crawls by one inch at a time and then my off time causes the days to blend together in a blurry mush.  Overall, though, I’m doing a lot better than I was a couple of months ago, and I think living with another human has been good for me; I spend less time in my bed, more time in the craft room (we turned the master bedroom into a huge art/craft/sewing studio (aka the Room of Requirement) and each took one of the smaller bedrooms), more time making things.  That’s why the amount of stuff in my Etsy shop has gone up so quickly – and I’m working on a third set of decorative box stickers now that’s almost done.

Meanwhile, I found I was missing a place to write out a quick review of the prior month and jot down a few goals for the upcoming.  There’s not really a handy space in the Erin Condren Planner for that – there are a few spots I could create a sticker for, but I’m really trying to minimize my sticker usage to the ones that are the most helpful and most inspiring, so the whole thing won’t be eight inches thick by June.  I’ve removed as many extraneous pages as I can, but it’s still going to expand due to the number of layers of paper on every page.

In retrospect making a sticker would probably have been a thinner solution than what I made, but oh well – I can always change it later.  I created a clear-front pocket to clip into my planner (and move each month) that holds a pretty goal-setting graphic (which has a past month review on the reverse side).  I thought it was pretty ingenious, myself, and whether it ends up being a long-term solution or not (I’m constantly, constantly changing how I use this thing, for reasons* I’ll discuss below) I think it’s cool.


The empty pocket.  It’s made of black cardstock covered in decorative paper (which is why I suspect it’ll be too thick to really be practical), and the front frame has been backed with clear plastic I harvested from inside an accordion folder.


The back. I love this paper – I’m going through a teal/purple/green thing these days (wait until you see my new bedroom).  The pocket is held in with two EC Coil Clips; I’ve tried using the DIY clips you can find on YouTube, but they’re awfully flimsy for stuff you’re going to need to move around a lot.  Much better for mementos and pretty decoration stuff like cards and drawings, in my opinion.

I’ve been making a small sleeve similar to this one in my shop, using a photo protector I found online in the perfect size; I just wanted something a little larger.  The whole thing is held together with Scor-Tape, a truly badass double-sided tape I go through like Kleenex.


Last we have the pocket with its insert.  I drew the doodle with pen and scanned it, then added the text, dividing my general goals into categories with space beneath each for an item or two. On the back is a “here’s what went down in January” form.  I plan to color the graphic with fineliner pens once I have everything written out.  Then, if I need to keep ephemera for the month’s goals I can stick it in the pocket and keep stuff together.

You’re welcome to gank this graphic and use it for your own planner, journal, or whatever – just click on the image below and it’ll take you to the full-size, which you can right-click on and save.  The graphic is for personal use only, please, but I really don’t care what that entails as long as you’re not selling stuff made out of it.  I deliberately left it black and white so it’d be easy for anyone to print and personalize.  Enjoy!


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The Delicious Crunch of Organization

A bit more than a month into using my Erin Condren Life Planner, and I’m still quite enamored of it.  I’ve been having fun making stickers and trackers for other people (many of which can be used in other kinds of planners or on calendars), but the ones I make for myself are especially enjoyable.  For those, I don’t focus as much on original art – whenever I draw something I try not to have it in my face a lot afterward since I tend to pick apart and grow to hate anything of mine I’m forced to stare at.

The first thing I did when I started customizing was to create header stickers to cover what’s already there – each day is divided into morning, day, and night, and frankly, I don’t do that much crap especially in the mornings.  I turned mine into Goings-On, Projects, and Self-Care – a square for events and things that happened, another for my to-do list for the day, and a third to keep track of water, meds, exercise, all those other things I never do.

The first two I could use as-is or use a stamp or sticker to create a checkbox list.  (Right now I’m using a set of stamps I got from Tiny Stamps Big Plans on Etsy in an attempt to reduce the amount of sticker-bulk in my planner.)  The third, Self-Care, needed something a little more special.

So I created a whole new box to smack on top of the old one, et voila!

Except I can never leave voila enough alone, so I tweaked.  Who knows what the thing will look like by the time 2015 is over and I decide whether to go with the ECLP for 2016?

self care v1

self care v2

self care v5


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A Tour of My New Erin Condren Life Planner

Quick reminder: be sure and enter my latest giveaway for a chance to win either a signed book or a bit of art.  Entries close August 31.

Warning: This is a long-ass post.  It’s mostly pictures, though.  And they’re somewhat decent pictures for a change.

If you’re familiar with my weirdness you know I’m kind of obsessed with planners, especially lately. I recently made my own, and while it was hella fun and had a lot of potential, the one I made ended up being way more entertainment than tool.  There are certain things I need from a planner, and I didn’t think I’d find them all in one place.

Enter the Erin Condren Life Planner.  I’d seen people rhapsodizing over these things all over Pinterest – they’re the kind of thing that people make YouTube videos of themselves unboxing.  The ECLP looked like it might just be perfect, but it’s also expensive (actually it’s no worse than a leatherbound Filofax when all is said and done, and even a nice Day Timer will set you back quite a bit at Office Depot), so I hemmed and hawed until one day I just bit the bullet and ordered one.

Customizing the ECLP is a popular pastime among its worshipers – the structure of the planner lends itself to endless personalization for whatever way your life works.  People have come up with ways to change the headers and add in pages, to make them pretty in a thousand ways (mostly involving stickers and washi tape). I bought a pack of sticker paper and was off to the races.

Here, then, is a look into this amazing book that now occupies an enormous chunk of space in my bag.  (It’s crazy heavy, but really no worse than the DIY one I made after I’d glued a million pieces of paper in it.) Down below I’ll list some of the supplies and shops I ordered to play with.

front cover

One of the cool things about the ECLP is that you can change the cover – they’re heavy-duty laminated and spiral bound, but you can remove the covers and switch them out really easily.  And you can get a cover with pretty much anything on it; I liked the premade designs, but a lot of people have photo collages of their pets and kids and so forth.

planner charm

I was making a planner charm for a friend, and decided to do one for myself as well – I started with a premade one I ordered from Etsy which, unfortunately, arrived broken.  (Easily fixable with a pair of needle nose pliers, as are many things in life.)  I ordered a bunch of charms and hooked them all together as a dangly thing; I was afraid I’d hate it or it would get caught on stuff, but so far I love it.  It gives me something to fiddle with.

inside front cover

My planner was an 18 month – you can get either 18 or 12 for a $5 difference. June, however, had already passed by the time I got it, as had July, so I ripped both months out (this also helps make a little extra space to accommodate all the extra stuff I put in) and covered the front page with cardstock. I pasted a Smash pocket over that; the planner has a very nice pocket in back, but I wanted one in front too.  Then, I made a menu planner and grocery list holder; I printed it out and used those self-seal laminating pouches, then the coil clips you can buy with your ECLP to add things to the planner.  (There’s also a DIY version, linked below, which is better for less important items.)

Unfortunately the color of the menu came out horribly – I will probably make a new one later, but I hated to waste the supplies so I kept it for now.

inside front cover 2

All throughout the planner I’ve used double-stick tape and a glue stick to add in quotes and images I love, as well as pre-bought stickers.  I want every inch of this thing to be me.

unaltered weekly

Now, this is what the weekly spreads look like before they’ve been futzed with.  There are sections for morning, day, and night; and a spot at the bottom for notes, quotes, meal plans, exercise records, whatever.  But I, like many people, don’t really need all three of those sections just for my schedule, so I came up with a different approach.

weekly layout

I made sticker boxes to cover the bottom two sections, and made stickers to cover the titles; the measurements of the sections are easy to find online (told you, people love to customize this thing).  There are lots of stickers like this you can buy already made if you don’t have a printer or don’t feel like going to the trouble.

week 2 layout

This is this week’s layout, partially decorated; it’s Tuesday as I write this, so obviously not much is filled in.  Color coordination and weekly themes are popular among ECLPers, but I’m mostly just going for “fun and pretty” right now.  I haven’t been filling out the self-care sections like I should, but I’m still getting used to all of this organization.

Also here you can see the awesome bookmark/ruler that comes with the planner.  It snaps in and out and also makes a great guide for punching holes in other things to add to the binding.

washi bills

The back section of the ECLP has both lined and unlined note pages, a pocket, a plastic zipper pouch, and a removable insert that acts as a perpetual birthday and event calendar.  I had no real need of the latter, so to save bulk I took it out and wrote in my birthday list in the notes pages.  I also added this bill tracker, made in Excel and printed in similar colors to the planner.  It’s got two additional pages to cover all of 2015.

On the left is a selection of washi tapes; carrying rolls is a pain, so I just stuck strips to a page and they can be removed and restuck elsewhere on a whim.

blog and stuff

You know me and lists – I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at planners and what I’d add to mine, and decided to put in a few in the notes section, like possible blog posts and a place to record books and such I want to look for.  I printed the titles out in the same font as I used in other additions.

30 by 38

The unlined note pages are all decorated in the designs you can get for the planner covers; this is one of my favorites.  I put in this list and added the Buddha from Sinfest (I just love the Bood) to add a bit of Zen.

back pockets

Lastly, the inside back cover; the zipper pouch is full of stickers and paste-ins, but I added everything on the right – cards with important numbers, and two library pockets I colored in with Distress Ink to keep my planner stickers in.  The top has things like shopping, cleaning the cat box, getting my period, and writing deadlines; the bottom is full of weather stickers.  I put each in a handmade envelope and stuck it in the pocket so it can’t come open.

You may not have seen my stickers – over on my Etsy shop, I’m actually selling a couple, a set of Pagan holidays and another of weather icons.  They’re my own artwork, and very cute.

Here’s a list of things and places I gathered for planner playtime. I’ve really enjoyed making my ECLP my own – in six months it might be a different story, but right now at least it’s damn near perfect for me.

ECLP Videos:

The official Erin Condren 2014 intro video
DIY Coil Clips for Erin Condren Life Planner

How to make ECLP labels using your Cameo (a die cutting machine – but the awesome thing here is below the video where the host gives you all the measurements for the labels)
EC Coil Clip hack – this woman has some great ideas for getting the most out of your coil clips.

Etsy Shops for ECLP Goodies:

Petunia Paper – inserts and reminder stickers.
Organized Stickers – Daily section title stickers, checklists, exercise & habit trackers
Happy Zakka Life – dear God, the washi tape!
Karolina’s Krafts – lots of adorable reminder and habit tracking stickers.
TeeChic – elastic bands to keep your ECLP (or other planner) closed; I have a TARDIS coming in the mail.
Bohemian Findings – the charms I used on my dangly business.  Very inexpensive and there are a million kinds, including pentacles and other spiritual goodies.
Pretty Sang – handmade planner charms, keychains, and the like.

Lastly, here’s my Pinterest board dedicated not just to ECLP but to planners in general:  Planet Plan-It.

If you like the idea of a planner you can customize but don’t want to spend the money, all you have to do is search on Pinterest for “free planner printable” and you’ll be amazed at what you find.  There are also lots of DIY versions on Etsy that have a similar look to the ECLP but are cheaper (usually because you print them yourself).  My main problem with most of them is that I don’t want a binder – I wanted a tight, coated spiral binding because I’m left-handed and those hard binder rings are just no fun for writing when you’re sinister.



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