the papercraft lab

In My Bullet Journal: A New Gratitude Practice

Bullet JournalAnandiRC10 Comments

The recommendation to write down a list of things you're thankful for each day is all over the place in books, magazines and social media.  Even Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal system has an elegant way he records this daily.

When I remember, I write in my five year journal about something that made me happy that day, but I'm not very consistent about it.  As I was falling asleep one evening last week, I had an idea. Why not write an actual handwritten Thank You note, like my Mama taught me, to some of the people who have inspired me, helped me or changed my life in some way?

One Thank You note per week seemed doable, so I decided to call this (drumroll please) The 52 Thank You Project. (Yeah, I know. It's not that creative.)

My list of 52 people will be a list of friends, family, and famous people who will probably never see my letter. I'm fine with that - this is more of an exercise for me to really sit down and reflect for a bit on why or how that person has influenced my life. I also like the idea of sending a tiny bit of positivity out into the world.

I wrote and mailed the first three letters today. In a few weeks I'll "catch up" so that I'm just writing one per week.  I'm tracking this in my trusty Bullet Journal as part of its own Collection page in the back.

Writing these notes is something I can do in little pockets of time I find throughout my day (thanks to Laura Vanderkam, who's on my list), so I've tucked a stamped thank you card into the back of the nuuna notebook I'm using as my Bullet Journal.

Do you have a daily gratitude practice? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Hello Again & Welcome

Finds, About the LabAnandiRC4 Comments

Seven months ago, my daughter Trillian and I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Scandinavia for 3 weeks. On our second day there, we were browsing in a bookstore in Oslo when I came across a cool-looking notebook with a Douglas Adams quote on it.

I have a weakness for paper products and especially notebooks, so I figured it would be a good (useful) souvenir from our trip.  When I got back home to Seattle and decided to try Bullet Journaling again to tame the avalanche of work and personal stuff I needed to accomplish, I decided to use that new notebook.

And then I fell in love.  The bright white deliciously heavy paper with a small grey dot grid pattern was so much more satisfying to write on than any of the fancy notebooks I had purchased in the past from Moleskine or Leuchtturm.  The cover was a smooth soft leather that was easy to wipe off if it got dirty. The book lays flat right from the beginning (woohoo!).

After using it for a few weeks and realizing I had found THE notebook, I panicked. I only bought one. In Norway. From a bookstore that didn't have an English website, but even with Google Translate I couldn't find "my" notebook on the site.  I did a little research on the small print inside my notebook and found out that it was a brand called nuuna, made in Germany.

But alas, I couldn't find anyone in the US selling these notebooks and shipping from various European online shops was *super* expensive. I continued to use my nuuna notebook through the year - the joy of writing in it made my system "stick" and I was writing things down and getting them done. 

I had an idea. My daughter is now seven and learning basic arithmetic and how to count money. We give her an allowance of $2 per week so she can learn how to manage her money.  Why not SELL these gorgeous notebooks in my online shop so that I could share them with my fellow Americans? And in the process, Trillian could learn about the concepts of running a business.

I already had a business license and a website from my custom scrapbooking business. So we've reinvented The Papercraft Lab as our new nuuna notebook shop.  Think of it as 'Lemonade Stand 2.0'.  

Welcome, and we hope you'll take a look around!  Just click the 'Shop' link at the top of the page to see your new favorite notebook.

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Fall 2016 Capsule Wardobe (sort of)


I wrote my last blog post 9 months ago. I had to decide last month whether or not to renew my site and I couldn't bring myself to shut it down. I like writing even if no one comments and it's all about YouTube these days. I'm old, I guess. I'd rather read a post than watch a video.

Anyway, instead of trying to catch up on 9 months, I'll just jump in. For the last couple of weeks, my hobby project has been to sort out my fall "capsule" wardrobe. I can't *really* call it a capsule, because it has just over 50 pieces, and that's not exactly minimalist.  BUT, each piece is carefully chosen and most items mix and match.  

Using my Bullet Journal to plan my wardrobe - I used colored pencils to give me an overview of my clothing colors. There have been a lot of scratch-outs and shifting items to Winter since I took this photo!

Most importantly, I plan for (and shop) for the next season ahead of time, and have done a darn good job of not buying random things in between since I started this process in 2014. I can honestly say I no longer shop for clothes when I'm bored, or need a "pick me up", etc. I shop when I "need" clothing. Let's be honest here - I don't ever NEED clothing, but I do like to update my wardrobe with a few new things each season.

This year, I have done such a good job of keeping only what "sparks joy" (thanks Marie Kondo!) that I am kind of overwhelmed by everything I chose for the next 6 months.  So instead of doing a 6 month "FWinter" wardrobe, I'm trying my friend Adrianne's suggestion of keeping some items in storage and pulling them out in December.  There are a few lighter pieces that will get put away for the winter as well.

So here's what I've got:

I noticed in photos this summer that my trusty bootcut JAG jeans from 2013 were looking a little tired. I have literally worn them multiple times a week since I bought them, except in the few summer weeks when it's just too hot.  They've faded (but not in a cool way) and lost their stretch. So I needed new jeans.

For a long time I've believed there are some things I should just not wear at my size (and maybe my age, too). Skinny jeans were firmly on that list. But I realized that wearing a lot of baggy stuff makes me feel kinda...shlumpy. And reading this great piece on Into Mind got me thinking that maybe I could try it since I like the cleaner, trimmer look and had already talked myself into leggings a few years ago (another no-no in my mind).

So this Fall's wardrobe has TWO new pairs of new skinny jeans plus the straighter leg pair of jeans I bought last year. I love them, and they go great with the flowier, longer tops I already have.

In March, I accepted a new job at Microsoft that requires me to be in the office (sniffle) which means I need a wider range of presentable out-of-the-house clothes than when I worked from home. Since it's such a casual workplace (yay tech companies!) I can *choose* to dress up if I feel like it. I love having that choice, unlike when I worked in consulting and had to dress up in "business casual +" every single day. I rebelled by wearing sweatpants *a lot* to my first gig at Microsoft back in 2002.

After 2 years of being intentional about my clothing, I'm starting to get a pretty good handle on which brands I like and fit me well, and which tend to last over time. With fewer clothes, I'm wearing each thing more often. Everything I own except one or two fancy dresses is machine washable. A few things I bought in 2014 just didn't stand the test of time.  I'm pretty much done buying anything new from the "Style & Co." line at Macy's because they just don't last. 

I am really happy to see that options for sizes 14 and up have gotten a LOT better in just a few short years. I guess the fashion industry is catching up to reality, finally. I also decided I'm dressing the body I have now, not the one I wish I had, or the one I had 15 years ago (size 8! sigh.) Yes, I would like to lose 40 lbs, but I would also like to look good in the meantime. 

For the past 2 years I waited until October to pull out the new Fall wardrobe because it was still warm in Seattle. Unfortunately that's not the case this year, so on the bright side, I get to wear my new stuff right after Labor Day weekend! It feels like Back to School shopping, which, incidentally, I still need to do for my girls. That's my next Project.

I know I've disappeared for a while, but if you're out there, I'd love to know if you are doing anything wardrobe-related to prepare for the upcoming season!

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My 366 Project


One of my 2016 goals is to do a photo-a-day project with my DSLR camera so I can practice my photography. I had never been interested in this kind of project - it seemed too overwhelming, especially when you consider editing and sharing the photo each day.

But the TWIP Family podcast made me reconsider. Every time I listen to an episode (usually while driving), I'm inspired to grab my camera and try out some of the things they discuss. They have a group 365 project on Flickr for 2016, so I joined.

Here are my first 3 shots for 2016:

My whole project is posted here on Flickr:

ARC's 2016 366 Photos Project

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Currently: December 2015

About the LabAnandiRCComment

Woohoo!  This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Super quiet at work, kids are home all day so no morning routine rush, and lots of time to complete projects big and small.


I picked up two Jojo Moyes books at the library on a whim. They have this great "new paperbacks" section up front and I've found a lot of fun reads that way. I read the very popular Me Before You and really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of John Greene's The Fault in Our Stars, but for an older audience. The second one, One Plus One, was enjoyable but the characters were way too similar to the other book, so I didn't enjoy it as much reading it back to back. I loved that the daughter in the story was a math prodigy, though.

This month our book club is reading Graeme Simsion's excellent book The Rosie Project. It was recommended by a few friends last year and I loved it, so I suggested it for book club. I was happy to re-read it, and I read the sequel, The Rosie Effect as well. It was not quite as brilliant as the first, but I definitely liked it.


Reading fiction again. I have never been able to match the pace I had in elementary and middle school, as high school and college came with a ton of mandatory reading. In addition, my Project Management certification requires me to spend a good chunk of my reading time on business-y books to get continuing education credits.  But starting my "virtual book club" last summer has meant that I've read *at least* one fiction book a month. In addition to that, Trillian's newfound love of reading means we're at the library a few times a month and I always find something fun to read while I'm waiting for her to pick out more Rainbow Fairy books (sigh).

#dresser #furniture #diy #paint #goals

A photo posted by Anandi @ The Papercraft Lab (@anandirc) on


One of my 3 Q1 goals - painting Meridian's dresser. We bought this dresser to use as a changing table in 2009 before Trillian was born. I decided I wanted to paint it, but since we used sticky-back Velcro to attach the changing pad, I had to wait until we weren't using it for diaper changes anymore. That time came last summer (Hallelujah!) but I had to finish Trillian's dresser first. Then I lost all interest in more sanding, masking, priming, and painting.

But then TJ mentioned that he'd give me a little incentive to get this project done (and out of his garage!) We need some kind of media console cabinet/table for our living room. We have decided that we need to start buying real furniture after my IKEA debacle this summer (The Case of the Missing Mattress) and he didn't flinch when I showed him some absolutely LOVELY ones at Restoration Hardware. He said we could buy the new media console once I finished that dresser. So here we are, two days into the Second Dresser Project, and I just need to clear coat the top and spray paint the hardware.  Woot!


A guy at work told me about the podcast called This Week in Photo: Family.  It's specific to family photography and seems geared towards beginners/amateurs who want to get better at their personal photography. I love it!  It seems to be weekly and I've got lots of catching up to do! Their Q&A episode was super helpful and got me to think about tackling my fear of learning how to use a flash. So I asked for one for Xmas and TJ was kind enough to oblige.


Both of my planners are in my hot little hands, which is better than the Passion Planner debacle of 2015, where I didn't receive my pre-ordered planner until the end of January. After hearing a ton of endorsements for the Get to Work Book, and seeing its simple black and white, project-focused design, I was sold. It even has 3 checkboxes on each day for my Most Important Tasks so I don't have to stamp the boxes myself anymore!  I'm so excited about it :) That'll be my daily use planner for work and personal tasks. It also lets me plot out larger projects like the 3 scrapbook projects I have on deck for The Papercraft Lab, and this dresser-finishing project.

My second planner is the Commit30, and when I saw the 30 day check-off page for each month I knew it would be perfect for helping me track my very small fitness and health related goals for the year. Each month will be a different 30 day challenge, starting with tracking my meals daily on my phone in January so I can get an accurate picture of exactly what I'm eating. February will likely be a "walk 20+ minutes daily" challenge and I haven't thought beyond that.  We'll probably do another Whole30 at some point.


Quarterly goals for 2016. Laura Vanderkam suggested making goals quarterly as it's easier to stick to them than a New Year's Resolution which I'll forget about by April. I have 3 goals for Q1:

  • Walk 75 times for 20+ minutes a session
  • Make my 2015 holiday scrapbook by the end of January
  • Paint Meridian's dresser & get it into her room

I also did a year-end performance review following this template. At first it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work, but actually going through month by month, I found a lot of things to be proud of and a few surprising lessons:

  • I dislike group exercise classes and prefer working out alone
  • I spend way too much time on Facebook
  • Having my daily to-do list on paper in a weekly planner works amazingly well for me
  • I can be a morning person!
  • I was able to find flexible, well paying, remote, part-time work

I ended up writing about 5.5 pages for my review, and it was a really nice way to wrap up and reflect on the year, and think about how I might approach 2016 differently. I highly recommend it, especially over a nice cup of tea :)

So there it is, my last Currently post of 2015.  Happy New Year everyone!

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