Journaling

Baron Fig Clear Habit Journal Review.

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I pre-ordered the Baron Fig and James Clear collaboration Confidant notebook when it was announced at the end of 2018. It’s not a secret that I enjoy using Baron Fig notebooks and as a regular tracker of habits this was a really interesting release.

I have been using it since it landed on my door mat, sometime mid Jan. It was a shame that it didn't arrive in time for the new year, but the start of a new year isn’t the only time to review and start habits. As it’s now three months on I feel like I have some real insights and thoughts into this notebook that I wanted to share in today’s post.

The Clear Habit Journal Elements.

The Clear Habit Journal is a black cloth bound Confidant notebook in the new Baron Fig limited edition style. There is a copper coloured pyramid/triangle on the front cover that relates to the building of simple habits for big results.

There are two thick bookmarks one black and one copper. I always appreciate a notebook with a double bookmark because I am usually referencing different pages regularly. With the Clear Habit Journal it is especially useful. I have one bookmark on the page I am currently using and the second at the months habit tracker page.

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The final elements are an elastic closure and a back pocket and I have mixed feelings on both. The elastic closure especially is becoming more common the Baron Fig limited editions and it feels the most borrowed. I don’t feel like the Confidant needs the elastic, it closes well, is made from quality materials and the elastic closure just reminds me of the big brands.

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The Clear Habit Journal Special Elements.

As with other Baron Fig limited editions there are a few pages at the start of this notebook outlining each of the sections and giving guidance on how they are designed to work. All the sections of this journal are clearly highlighted by a black title page, which is easy to see when flicking through the notebook or when it’s closed.

There is an Index at the front of the notebook where you can note down important sections or log any key pages. The Confidant is a thick notebook so having an Index included could come in useful to mark down that brainwave you had on page 72.

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A design change we have seen with Baron Fig limited edition notebooks recently is the inclusion of information bars on the outer edges of the page. With the Clear Habit Journal this feature is present on the ‘One Line Per Day’ pages. The months are listed in this section allowing you to ring the month you are working on.

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I really like the inclusion of these pages in this notebook. Having read James Clear’s Atomic Habits I know this is something he advocates, but simply noting down one line of your day really can help you see what you have achieved. These pages aren't complicated, they aren't there to make you feel guilty, they’re manageable. One line of how your day has been, what you ate, what exercise you did, your mood...whatever you want.

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After this you have the bulk of the notebook. Numbered dot grid pro pages. The inclusion of additional + and - markers on the dot grid are the pro justification, but they’re actually really useful and such a simple addition. These appear on the outer edges of the grid and are designed to act as half or third of the page markers. This means you can very quickly create a table, split the page up to journal without having to waste time counting it all out.

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At the rear of the notebook you get the Habit Tracker pages. Bullet Journalers will be familiar with this concept but the idea is to write down a series of habits you want to stick to over a month long period. These are written on the left side of the page. At the top of the page you select your month and then there are numbers 1 through to 31, again to notify the day of the month. Every time you complete a habit you mark it off the list. If you don’t, obviously you leave it blank. There is the inclusion of a tally on the far right hand side so you can see how well you did over the course of the month. The pages are perforated so if you chose to remove your tracker and put this up somewhere, in your office, on the fridge, then you can. Personally I like to keep mine in my notebook.

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I have kept a habit tracker for some time now. Last year I used pages in my Jibun Techo, but I have also manually created spreads in notebooks. The Habit Tracking pages in this notebook are really simple and easy to use.

At the very back of the notebook there are again some guidance sheets should you wish to use them.

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Overall thoughts.

I really enjoy this journal. I enjoy Baron Fig products because of the quality and the good paper stock. With the last few Baron Fig limited editions there is a new theme or style to them, where they have a clear purpose and each one appears to be well considered, planned and always with the user in mind. The Wander Dream Journal was the first, and the most recent was Grow. They follow a similar pattern and I really like the joining of an idea with the simplicity of a notebook. They act as a guide and by not being too over bearing or forceful allow the person using the notebook to adapt it to their requirements.

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I hope the Clear Habit Journal will be a stock notebook from Baron Fig as I would seriously consider using this year after year as my main journal and planner. There are a lot of features in this notebook that fit alongside Bullet Journal ideas and spreads so I could see an appeal to Bullet Journalers. But despite that it’s a great notebook, with a simple style and objective that I think should remain a stock item.

Travelers Company Weekly Refill Comparison

My Travelers Company Weekly refills

My Travelers Company Weekly refills

I have used the Travelers Company 019 free weekly refill for a couple of years as a mini journaling notebook. I love this refill for recording memories of my day in the calendar section and using memo pages to add ephemera, include decorative lettering, quotes from something I have read or heard that week and on the odd occasion an Instax photo.

I have finished three of these refills and I love looking back through them. I don’t revisit many of my notebooks and rarely flick through old Hobonichi Techos, but these refills bring me back time and time again.

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Recently I bought the second refill of the 2017 vertical weekly insert. I had never used the vertical format before and I was intrigued about how this would compare to the horizontal weekly + memo refill. As I have been using both of these inserts for some time I thought I would share with you my thoughts.

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Horizontal weekly refill + notes

This version of the weekly refill has a seven day calendar view on the left hand side of the page broken down into seven horizontal sections. The free weekly refill is undated giving you the flexibility to miss weeks out if I want or need to and to start this refill at any time of the year. As it is the undated version there is very little additional calendar content on each page.

A blank spread in the horizontal week + memo refill

A blank spread in the horizontal week + memo refill

The right hand page is the notes section which is the main difference between these refills. I use this space to add notes, quotes, stickers or photos which have some sort of relevance to my week but perhaps not a specific day. The weekly memo pages are really handy and a big selling point of this refill.

A completed week in my horizontal refill

A completed week in my horizontal refill

Vertical weekly refill

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I bought the second half of the vertical 2017 refill because I wanted to see how it compared to the horizontal refill and if I could get the same content into the vertical format.

A blank spread of the vertical weekly refill

A blank spread of the vertical weekly refill

The week is spread over two pages with each day getting a thin section of the page. There are hour stamps for each day and a small notes section at the bottom of the page. As this is a dated refill there is also additional calendar information that sits in the ‘spare’ space.

A completed week in my vertical refill

A completed week in my vertical refill

I have been using my vertical refill to record time specific portions of my day. I have been able to capture more information and due to its format I can see how I am spending my time. The space allocated to each day is really narrow and if you want to keep everything within the guidelines it can be tricky.

To make this refill feel less functional I add stickers, stamps and washi to decorate the pages. It's a lot harder to include larger items such as Instax photos. I find the notes section at the bottom of the page pretty useless. I rarely use this section of the page and it feels wasted.

Six months over two pages where I track what I am reading

Six months over two pages where I track what I am reading

Commonalities with both refills

Both refills have a double page annual calendar and a double page spread with a six month calendar view. I use the six month view to note down the books I have been reading tracking how long it has taken me to finish each one. As I don't use this refill as a planner this seemed like a good use of these pages.

The light grid ruling found in Travelers Company refills 

The light grid ruling found in Travelers Company refills 

The weekly refills have the great Travelers Company paper and light grey grid ruling which I love as its unintrusive. The paper is great for using with fountain pens in particular but great for most writing tools.

So which one is better?

Obviously this review is heavily opinion based and depends a lot on how you use your inserts and your particular journaling style. Having used both inserts for some time now I really prefer the horizontal + notes refill. The horizontal format gives me more useable space and suits the way I journal.

A highly decorated journal spread

A highly decorated journal spread

The vertical weekly refill works really well as a planner or a time tracking tool but I don’t enjoy this refill as much for journaling. There are lots of great examples of how this refill can work for journaling from people such as Jobs Journal and Momolovespaper but for me it just doesn't work.

For 2018 I will be buying the pre-dated horizontal + notes refill to continue my mini journaling notes.

1 year of memories

1 year of memories are enclosed in these notebooks

1 year of memories are enclosed in these notebooks

Today’s blog post is a little different from my usual stuff. I have been writing and re-writing this post for a few weeks trying to get the content right. It’s a post I’ve felt compelled to write, so I hope you enjoy it.

My first notebook is very simple

My first notebook is very simple

When I found out I was pregnant I was adamant that I would record every element of my pregnancy. I wanted to write down how I felt during the different stages and have a dedicated place to document how my body changed over the nine months. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I bought a Travelers Notebook refill that was used as a dedicated pregnancy journal.

My personal memory archive

Including photographs helped to document how I was changing

Including photographs helped to document how I was changing

Recently my little one turned a year old and in that time I have filled four Travelers Notebook refills. Once my son was born I continued to journal mostly about him but I also included snippets about how I was coping as a new parent, things that were mind boggling and many of the entries show how exhausted I was.

These notebooks are precious to me because of all the details they hold.

The first visit to Father Christmas

The first visit to Father Christmas

I have copies on my sons first passport photo, some hair from his first haircut, his first visit to Father Christmas and first Christmas letter; I have scan photos from before he arrived, his palm print on a piece of scrap paper before we put the finished version on my husbands birthday card. I have a record of his first day at nursery and his first birthday. Some of these entries are hurried and not as perfect as I would like them to be but it’s not important because I have a record. The style of each entry tells its own story.

Over time my journaling has changed

In the early hazy stages these journals were functional. Half of one notebook is purely writing, there is no decoration, no consideration of my thoughts it’s almost a brain dump on the page.

As I warmed up and began figuring out what I wanted from these notebooks I took photos on my phone and printed these out using washi tape to add them into the journal.

Recording our first trip to Scotland

Recording our first trip to Scotland

Since my little one has grown older and I have my evenings back, the words have become fewer and I have started to include more photographs. Like most parents I am constantly taking photos of my son on my phone many of which get looked at again. The photos I have taken on my Instax camera are more considered, I consciously grab the camera and take a photo in order to record a memory of an event down in my journal.

Every time I add something into my journal I include the date. Over time this has simply been written, over a period of time this turned to brush lettering. I have everything in chronological order to show how my little one has developed and grown over time.

I love looking back and seeing everything we have done over the course of the year, it shows a full and busy year.

A much more decorative spread

A much more decorative spread

The stationery specifics

My pregnancy and baby journaling has allowed me to use lots of different stationery items, some of which include:

Instax mini camera
2 blank and 1 kraft Travelers Company refill Washi tape Photo corners Rubber stamps and ink Numerous different fountain pens and inks Tombow dual brush pens Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens Uni-pin drawing pen
Midori clear pockets

The next year

My latest journal

My latest journal

I have just started my fifth refill. I am always refining my journaling style trying to find that perfect-for-me approach. I find Instagram and YouTube really helpful in giving me ideas on how to be creative and to keep my journaling interesting.

This post has perhaps been a little indulgent and I have tried to keep various elements private but during the past year my love of stationery has helped me to create some of my most prized possessions. I am not sure I would remember so much or be able to share memories with my son later on if I didn’t have these notebooks.

My completed notebooks 

My completed notebooks 

Instax Mini 70 Camera Review

When you search through the various different social media channels for anything relating to the Travelers Notebook or journaling, at some point you will come across photos of heavily decorated pages. One common theme between them is the use of photos that fit perfectly into the Travelers Notebook A5 slim pages. The use of these photos had always caught my eye as I felt that were the perfect addition to the recording of memories. Shortly before having a baby I decided that I could use an instant camera to document my sons first year(s) with old fashioned photos and so began searching around for an option that would suit me. After considering several different cameras and printers I settled on the Instax Mini 70.

The reasons I chose the Instax Mini 70

Firstly the aesthetics of the Instax Mini 70 is far better that its predecessor the Instax Mini 8. I always felt that the Mini 8 looked like a toy or underwater disposable camera, the Mini 70 is much smarter and overall a better design. There are three different colours, white, blue and yellow. I went for yellow as I liked the bright and vibrant colour and I felt it added to the fun of the product.

The Mini 70 uses the Instax Mini film and gives you 10 shots per cartridge. It’s really easy to load the cartridges into the camera with the helpful yellow markers and the size of the photos once printed are perfect. They really remind me of the old polaroid photos with the distinctive section at the bottom where you can add a small written memory.

Film cartridge with helpful yellow guides to assist with correct loading

There is a small little mirror on the front of the camera which helps you to take selfies. I am not a huge selfie person but at times this sort of feature could be handy especially with a small baby and being on my own for large chunks of the day. Regardless on the number of selfies you take at some point this could be a useful feature.

Selfie mirror on the front of the camera

Selfie mirror on the front of the camera

There are several different settings on this camera, which again was an improvement on the Mini 8. It has a close up, landscape and a selfie shooting feature. All of these different settings are designed to give you the best possible reproduction of what you are shooting. I have played around a little with these features and they do change the look of the photo, but I am not an expert at this just yet.

The benefits of the Mini 70 for me

I mainly use this camera to capture a memory. I really like having a physical photo of a particular moment rather than just a digital version on my iPhone. In the past I had tried several photo printing apps uploading photos from my phone and receiving prints in the post. But these have never really worked well enough. There have been quality issues with some of the companies I have used and you can never seem to get the right size photos for journaling. The Instax Mini 70 just makes things simpler. I can take photos as and when I want to and straight away I can add it into my journal.

So far I have used the Mini 70 mainly to take photos that in some way relate to my son. I have given some of these photos to relatives, which they have loved, and I have used them in a journal dedicated to document his first weeks, months and year(s). It is something that we can look back at together as a family, but it also means that I am capturing memories and helping to remember big and small things.

An example journal page

An example journal page

I have used the camera at a baby shower taking photos throughout the day and given these to the mum-to-be. This was appreciated quite a lot by the mum-to-be. What I noticed with giving photos to her instantly in this way that was they were looked at more closely than those taken digitally.

What I am trying to highlight is the Instax Mini 70 has very easily found its place. It definitely doesn’t replace my iPhone to take photos, it serves a completely different purpose. My iPhone is still the first and primary tool I use when I want to take a photo, but the Instax Mini 70 makes me take a different set of photos and have physical keep sakes instantly.

The downsides of the Instax Mini 70

Despite my enjoyment of this camera there are some downsides that I have to point out. The benefits of the Mini 70 personally outweigh these negatives but for some people they could be deal breakers.

First up is the size of this camera, it’s pretty big and chunky. This seems obvious, the camera has to be bigger than the photo itself and has to hold a film cartridge which therefore means it’s going to be pretty big. On top of that, it needs to house all of the things to actually make it work. Despite these obvious points I was surprised when I opened the box at its size and initially did wonder how I would lug it around.

Size comparison against some everyday journaling items

Size comparison against some everyday journaling items

Then there is the issue of carrying around enough film. I have a spare cartridge with me most of the time to ensure that I’m not caught short but this adds to the bulk. Because of the restrictions with the film you are forced to think about what sort of photos you are taking a lot more. I have actually enjoyed this part as it’s made me consider what I am looking at, what the best angle for the shot would be and how it could look, but whilst obvious this had to called out.

Lastly the price may be a deal breaker for some people. When searching for an instant camera I was initially drawn to the Instax 90 for its gorgeous retro look. The Instax 90 costs just that little bit more, around the £110 mark. At the time I wasn’t sure how, or even if, I would use this camera enough to justify the outlay so I went for the simpler Mini 70. The Instax Mini 70 costs around £70 which includes one pack of film in the box. Alongside the camera cost you have to consider the cost of actually using the camera. For a single pack of film you would be looking at £10 for 10 shots, however I have found that buying packs in bulk through Amazon means you’re able to get better deals. Recently I picked up 4 cartridges (40 shots) for £26.

Overall thoughts

I can see the fascination of this modern take on an old fashioned camera. They are more than anything great fun to use. There are obvious downsides but despite all of this I really like this product and I am so glad I took the plunge and bought one.