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.




A Moderately Complicated New Giveaway!

Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope!I’ve been playing Twister with my muse for months now – and no, it’s not fun. I hate Twister. It’s uncomfortable and requires touching people and falling over.  I tried to get her to play Trivial Pursuit, but we both know I’d win that one, so we Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spocked and I lost.  (I’ve got to stop putting out Spock.)

Anyway.  On one hand, I need inspiration. On the other hand, you like free things.  Let’s put our hands together!

What I want from you is this:

In comments below (NOT ON FACEBOOK), leave me an idea.  A Shadow World Extra, a blog post, something along those lines.  The more interesting/odd the better.  Some measure of specificity is good.  A scene you wish you’d seen in one of the books.  A topic I’ve mentioned but haven’t returned to.  Something you pull right out of your ass.  It doesn’t have to be something I normally write about, either, as long as it’s something that catches my eye.

Here’s what happens then:

Once the contest is closed (let’s say August 30, the very end of the month, at 11:59pm central time), I’ll pick 10 of the contest entries and write from them.  Could be any interpretation, any length, any style; we’ll see where it takes me.

The 10 people who win will have a choice of prizes.

1 – A signed copy of one of the Shadow World books.  You can pick whichever; I have plenty.

2 – An original, one of a kind piece of my artwork, 4″x6″ in some sort of mixed media or drawing or whatever comes to mind.  Subject matter could be anything, but it’ll be unique.

I can’t guarantee an immediate return for your prize, as I am a mentally ill 36 year old woman with limited spoons and unlimited crap going on.  But I’ll keep everyone apprised by posting here on the blog when I send out a batch of prizes.

Fine print:  By submitting your idea to this contest you release all claim to that idea.  Any written work derived from your idea will be in sole copyright of Dianne Sylvan.  You’re doing this for a nifty prize, not so you can sue me for royalties in twenty years.  (Please don’t do that. You won’t be able to pay your lawyer if you win.)  The point is don’t send me that novel idea you’ve always wanted to write.  That’s yours.  We’re just having fun here. 

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 3.

Have fun!



Sylvan Points at Stuff, 7/31

Like most people who get into paper crafting I have become a hopeless washi tape addict.  What on Earth do you do with all that tape, you ask?  Glad you asked.  (Actually if you’re not already into it, your first question was probably “what the hell is washi tape.”  It’s Japanese masking tape, basically, made of paper, fairly low-tack, and comes in a million gorgeous colors and patterns.)  Aside from using it as an artistic accent, there are lots of small practical (and somewhat practical) things you can do with it:

Fun Ways to Organize With Washi Tape

Speaking of crafty business, I have made yet another altered composition book – version 2 of a writing notebook I tried to make a couple of weeks ago that flopped spectacularly.  I stripped it naked and started over, and this time I’m much happier with it.  I do a lot of outlining and scene organizing on paper, and I wanted a single place to kick it analog-style for my current writing projects.  It has dividers for the Shadow World, the Agency, and whatever else I might come up with.  I’m hoping that, now that my sabbatical is ending, having a pretty notebook to work with will help inspire me.

Terrible picture, sorry.  But you get the gist.

Terrible picture, sorry. But you get the gist.

writing notebook 2

I made a pocket for each of my two main universes – this one’s for the Shadow World, obviously. I used pages from a copy of Shadow’s Fall that was misprinted (I’m not entirely comfortable ripping up books for crafts, but if the book would otherwise have been thrown away, I think it’s cool to give it a second life.) I printed out the raven and cut him out. The “blood” drops are awesome little stickers I’ve had forever and have been hoarding because they’re so cool and I will probably never find more.

The Agency pocket is much simpler, but I like it - I may add more to it later if something comes to me.  Again, I just printed out the violin and cut it out.  Everything is inked up with Black Soot Distress Ink.

The Agency pocket is much simpler, but I like it – I may add more to it later if something comes to me. Again, I just printed out the violin and cut it out. Everything is inked up with Black Soot Distress Ink.

Last night my BFF and I saw Tori Amos in concert (our second time), and being there with Tori at her Bosendorfer, watching her play in that hypnotic, dark, lush style threw me immediately into Miranda’s head for the first time in forever.  I’ve been having trouble with my Queen lately – with all the other plotlines going on it’s hard to keep her from getting lost since she’s essentially a well-adjusted pillar of strength (especially compared to everyone else).  I think we’ve reached a better understanding of this part of her story, though.  And as usual I have Tori to thank for it.

If you’d like to see the performance that first inspired Miranda’s character, here it is, Tori Amos on VH1 Storytellers.  (You’ll have to turn the volume up pretty loud.)

Meanwhile, here are 5 Practical, Slightly Snarky-Sounding, Non-Sparkly Ways to Practice Self-Love.

And in case you missed all the Comic-Con hoopla, here are the trailers for the shows I’m most anxious to see this fall – Arrow, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow, Doctor Who, and a fun video from The Vampire Diaries that isn’t a preview but is rather adorable nonetheless.


Makin’ Stuff Monday

Morning lovelies,

There’s nothing like starting off the day to a fabulous comment on your naughty fan fiction. Being called “brilliant” is better than coffee.

There’s a new shrine up over at Tiny Relics – a new version of the Star Goddess, a Lady who’s always been close to my heart. While you’re there, check out the other pieces still available – a really cool flat-tinned Sarasvati, a wee wee Buddha, a third version of the Shrine to Gaia, and a House Blessing box I particularly like.

I’m currently working on another new piece, Isis; she’s almost finished, and I hope to have her ready for sale by the end of the week. Also, I was given a metric buttload of Sucrets tins, which are smaller and deeper than Altoids tins and therefore suggest all sorts of different treatment. The first two pieces I’m working on are a travel protection shrine and an absolutely lovely affirmation box for courage based on my 2014 theme song, “Brave.” Here’s a tiny sneak peek:

butterfly tin ext 1

butterfly tin int 3






I don’t know when that one will be up – technically it’s finished now (it even has tiny feet!) but I feel like it needs more. We’ll see.

While we’re on the subject of cool stuff I made, after a dozen misguided attempts over the years to build a recipe binder for my kitchen that is both functional and pretty, I finally hit paydirt! I realized the size was part of the problem and went from a full sized 3-ring to a mini 3-ring from Target. I guess it’s basically a mini album, if you’re into scrapbooking parlance, since I made all the pages and covered the book and such. The recipes themselves are fairly unadorned, in page protectors so they can be moved and removed, but the dividers for the sections are fabulous, and there are a couple of fun interactive bits like a fold-out card of tofu marinades or pull tags with cake-in-a-mug recipes.

You can see the whole album, along with notes and materials, on my Flickr; here’s a couple of shots just to pique your interest. This damn thing was SO MUCH WORK, but I’m really pleased with it.



Since my writing sabbatical is almost over, I’m hoping to have some good toothy content for you soon.  In the meantime enjoy my skills with scissors and glue!


An Art Journal Quickie

One of the unexpected side effects of all the browsing I’ve been doing on bookbinding and art journaling boards is that I keep running into Books of Shadows and other Pagan-related stuff.  Some of it is Pinworthy, some more cringeworthy (honestly, rhyming couplets? Why is anyone still using those? For a while in my 20s the entire Pagan community sounded like Mother Goose.), but one thing it all had was nostalgia.

One chant in particular (which, oddly, doesn’t rhyme at all) was one of my very favorites because of the way our coven used to sing it – in parts, usually, with one person taking one or more elements, sometimes switching it about midway, sometimes staying steady.  As I was working on my recipe binder last night (pics coming soon!) I found myself singing it quietly, and smiling,

To commemorate those days I grabbed my art journal, Daisy Jane, and created the following on the page facing the Bill & Ted quote.  It’s the first regular old art journal page I’ve done in a while and I’m quite pleased with it, for the colors if nothing else.

Element Chant

And there, the two neighboring pages together, held up by a happy little Ganesh:

excellent elements