Lifestyle

Weekly Favorites 26/04/2017

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After taking a break on Monday to celebrate the long weekend and Liberation Day in Italy, I'm back! There's been a lot going on with events around the city reaching a peak, due to the flurry of April holidays and days off. Here's a quick overview of my favorites and what I've been doing, eating, and planning.

DOING

In Rome, I've been taking frequent walks in the center to get outside in the sun. The city is starting to fill up with the summer tourist crowd and once again you can see people outside at all times of the day and night. My constant goal is to try as many new drink and food places as possible and experience the wide variety of Italian food that Rome has to offer. Most of the time I stick with classic Roman trattorias or pizzerias, but variety is the spice of life...

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We've also been taking many day trips in Lazio and in the country on these long weekends, which I love. There's nothing like the feeling of driving on Italian country roads with the windows open and seeing the amazing landscape. I really count myself lucky to have a car here because while I don't use it in the city (unless my boyfriend's driving at night) it's perfect when we want a last minute trip outside. Day trips also have the benefit of being much easier on my wallet as I'm saving up for summer holidays, usually requiring no more than half a tank of gas and €15 for lunch.

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EATING

On Sunday, I headed outside of the city with Edoardo to a sagra di cinghiale, where we ate pasta with boar ragu and stewed wild boar (I was more into the pasta than the straight mean but everything was good!) Going to sagras is always fun because the tiny towns that host them are full of locals who are so interesting. Tourists aren't common in these places so you can really get a feel for what rural Italian life is like. Plus the food is usually amazing, seasonal, and cheap.

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At home, we've implemented a once-a-week new recipe night, the goal of which is to perfect some of the classic Italian dishes we want to learn. Last week we started with Carbonara and this week, I went for asparagus frittata and pasta with artichokes. Picking up fresh produce at markets is so fun and inspires me to try new things and stop being so lazy in the kitchen.

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PLANNING

After cleaning off the entire balcony this weekend (involving 4 full bags of trash, cleaning out the drain pipe, scrubbing the pavement and one water fight) I'm so excited to spend more time out there. We love having friends outside in the summer and eating our meals there too. We really need another table for the space and some outdoor greenery to spruce it up. I'm thinking a couple of fruit trees and then lots of potted plants.

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At this point, everyone I know is planning out their summer holidays and deciding which seaside location to go to in August. We are booking tickets to the U.S. soon, which although they aren't the cheapest option for a summer trip, will give us both a couple weeks with my family. And after that, see if I don't try to snag a few days on the coast of Italy...

Weekly Favorites 19/04/2017

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With a long weekend and Easter celebrated on Sunday, last week completely flew by. It's a really big holiday for Italians, marked by holy week festivities, a big family lunch on Sunday and then usually, a day spent outside for Pasquetta on Monday. We managed to fit all of this in, with a trip to Tivoli and Villa d'Este on Saturday, an English mass in the center on Sunday, followed by a delicious and very heavy lunch with Edoardo's family, and a trip to the beach on Monday.

Our lunch was very traditional, with handmade fettuccine, roasted lamb, chocolate and the famous Easter dessert, Colomba. Afterwards, I kid you not, I didn't eat for 24 hours. Dinner was out of the question and even breakfast the next day (hot chocolate and Easter cake) was too much. Before coming to Italy, I didn't even know the meaning of the word full. Food-wise, I fit in quite well here. 

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Going to the beach for the first time this year was nice and really got me excited for beach season here. On the weekends, everyone in the city heads to the beach and beachside lunch and aperitivo are very common. I'm making it a point to visit some of Italy's more famous islands this year and I would also love to get back to Puglia again.

I hope everyone's having a great week! We have another long weekend coming up (this week it's four days!) so that's what I'm looking forward to :)

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Weekly Favorites 12/04/2017

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This week we're gearing up for the food marathon that is Easter in Rome. After a fun pizza making party with friends Saturday night, we spent Sunday at a local market buying presents, eating gelato and drinking beer at the popup bars inside the market. The entire Italian culture of hanging out with your friends or strangers when the weather is nice, not really doing anything besides chatting and eating/drinking, is something that I fully support. It's so nice to enjoy life's small moments instead of always planning for the next activity. This weekend we have Easter and Pasquetta, the Monday after that's an Italian holiday. We'll be celebrating with chocolate, lamb and hopefully some time outside the city. Here's a look at Easter events in Rome this week, Buona Pasqua a tutti!

Listening

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I've been hearing all about Edoardo's trip to Luxembourg and how amazing he found the international culture there. So much that it might be time for a guest post ;) It's very interesting to hear how it compares to the Italian way of life and since he lived in London for a while, he can also compare this tiny city-country to a larger international counterpart.

On my own, I managed to finish up the entire 7 hour podcast S-Town in less than a week. It's made by the same producers of Serial (another favorite) and it's absolutely gripping.  The journalist's intuitive questions, high quality recordings of events, conversations, and interviews, and the superb editing make it a fantastic listen. Based on a small "shit town" in Alabama, the series follows the lives of several interesting characters and really probes into the deeper meanings of life. Not a light series, but definitely one that will get you thinking.

Reading

My favorite style blogger (Style Bee) is doing a fun clothes challenge right now, where she and her readers are trying to wear only ten items of clothing in 10 days. The 10x10 challenge is really interesting to me because I don't like having a lot of options anyways and it really forces you to be creative. Still to be seen whether I just give up and wear the same thing for two weeks.

I also wanted to give one of my favorite travel bloggers, C'est Christine, a quick shout out just because I'm loving her content recently. She does great weekly roundups and shares a lot about her life in NYC and travels around the world. Also her dog may just be the cutest thing ever.

Roman Neighborhoods: Rione Monti

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I spent a couple of days out in Monti last week and it's seriously one of my favorite spots in the city. I always recommend it to people who are looking for a different side to the city and want great food/drinks. Urbana 47 is always a favorite, with farm-to-table food and great drink choices, while I just tried the pizzeria Alle Carrette. It had decent Roman pizza and an authentic feel to it with a huge brick oven and employees that have been there forever.

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Weekly Favorites 05/04/2017

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With some visitors and appointments in the center of Rome, I've been all over place in the historic district and have revisited all of my favorite spots recently. The perfect 60-70 degree weather doesn't hurt either. All of the things I've so missed over the winter are all here again, including but not limited to: dining al fresco, daily cones of gelato, blooming wisteria and taking aimless walks around some of my favorite neighborhoods.

Trastevere

I've spent a lot of time in Trastevere, a tiny truly "historic" neighborhood in Rome where Italian families pass down their enviable apartments from generation to generation. It has some of the best restaurants, bars, and Instagrammable moments in the city. I finally tried out Da Enzo and had a 1.5 HOUR WAIT. It was worth it to get a taste of this classic Roman trattoria. Small piazzas litter the neighborhood and it's so easy to find a nice bar for an aperitivo outside. Just the best. I'm planning to write a more thorough review of Da Enzo al 29 and a Trastevere guide for anyone who's interested in learning more about either.

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Campo de' Fiori

Another Rome bucket-list moment was when I saw the Campo de' Fiori flower and food market this week because I made it to the center on a weekday morning at last. It was big, full of Italian food treasures and glorious.

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Life

In other news, I'm drinking orange and cinnamon tea, writing in my bullet journal and practicing being okay alone this week with my boyfriend out of town in Luxembourg. It's giving me some much needed practice being on my own, but I'm flexing my independence and Italian language skills so I'm doing okay.

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Weekly Favorites 29/03/2017

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It is officially SPRING in Rome and the weather is beautiful. This is an amazing time to visit the city (April-May) because the weather is almost perfect and you don't need to worry about super long lines everywhere. For me, living in a place where spring actually exists and isn't taken over by impending snowstorms is such a great time. Wearing lighter layers, spending more time outside at restaurants or in parks and taking trips outside of the city to hang out in the nature are all some of my favorite things.

To read:

Last week ended up being pretty relaxed without much going on besides a big family birthday on Saturday. We had a typical 4 hour multi-course lunch (accompanied by four different wines none the less) and were out late partying at night. Being hungover and very not into life because of the time change, I took Sunday as my opporutinuty to spring clean and organize my closet. It's actually always been one of my favorite things to do and I find it very therepeutic. Right now I'm really loving this spring cleaning series on iHeart Organizing and Lee's spring style on her blog Style Bee.

To listen:

Last week I posted about my weekend trip to Urbino, Le Marche and have some more content from the trip planned for Friday. Le Marche is such a gorgeous region of Italy that not many people get a chance to see. This American couple who moved from the US to Marche to start an agriturismo business are such an inspiration for me. I've been listening to their very funny, if a little long-winded, podcast about life in rural Italy from an ex-pat view and it's great.

Until Friday, ciao for now!

To look:

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Weekly Favorites 21/03/2017

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In the week after my sister left, I've been trying to get back into the swing of things. It's like those post-vacations feels without the travel. There's been lots of reading, blogging, and organizing things around the apartment since our houseguest's departure. And I would like to report that her return journey went without a hitch but actually, she was lucky enough to get an overbooked flight, delayed departure and missing bag all in one!

For listening and reading, productivity has been the repeated theme this week. Somehow I'm recommending habit building to everyone, especially my English students as they try to create better study habits. I've revisited my favorite book on the subject, Better than Before by Gretchen Rueben. If you've ever wondered why it's so hard to start doing something and actually keep it up, this book's for you. The author breaks people down into four different personality types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages to building habits and routines. I'm also really liking this podcast by Pat Flynn and his Smart Passive Income, which gives tips on how to maximize your working hours and work smarter, not harder. Coming from a guy who's an expert on generating passive income (aka income that you're not constantly working to generate) it's worth a listen-------to even though it's a 2010 throwback.

In Italy-related news, Caroline and I took the first trip of the season to the beach at Civitavecchia and laid on the beach for hours reading. I can't wait until the weather is warm enough to spend weekends and days out at all of the amazing beaches near Rome. Longer trips down to Gaeta and Sabaudia are also in the works.

That's it, guys. Enjoy my pictures of Caroline's week in Rome, full of food and tourist attractions ;)

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Weekly Favorites 15/03/2017

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la vita roma Carolina is officially in Rome! The past few days have been a whirlwind as I try to show Caroline all the sites in Rome and with our weekend trip outside of the city. I'll definitely be posting more about it, but we managed to get to 4 different regions in two days (Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, and Abruzzo) and drove through everything from cities and mountains, to  the beautiful Italian countryside.

After such a busy weekend, we've been taking it a bit slower around Rome, hitting a few main attractions per day and stopping for plenty of gelato breaks. I think we've had 4 gelato's and a couple pizzas so far so we're doing alright. Tomorrow night we're checking out City of Wonder's ghost tour because Caroline is obsessed with all things paranormal. With an entire hour and a half dedicated to ghost stories and walking around Rome by night, it's a sure win. This Friday I'll have some more info on our trip to Le Marche (specifically Urbino and San Marino), but until then here are some lovely pictures from the week so far.

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Weekly Favorites 08/03/2017

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This week’s weekly favorites is dedicated to all the ladies out there for International Women’s Day! Since moving to Italy, I’ve noticed that the 8th of March here is much more widely celebrated than in the US, compared to Mother’s Day that’s more popular at home. Women’s Day here feels much more about girl power, feminism and general appreciation for women instead of a focus on moms (not that Mother’s Day should go ignored!)

But spending the day in a culture where women are celebrated with baked goods, memes from moms and with guys giving their special ladies flowers is a great feeling. Who says you need to be a mom to be appreciated for all of your hard work!

So in light of that, thank you to all the amazing women in my life who support me and this blog every week. For every retweet from my mom, comment from my Nina, long Facebook message of praise from Grandma or pasta post inspiration from my boyfriend’s Italian mamma, you’re what keeps me going.

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Weekly Favorites 01/03/2017

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la vita roma Welcome to the first day of March and what will officially be known as "pizza month". After giving up milk for February, I am about to get on as much cheese, pizza, tiramisu, gelato and milky goodness as possible. And yes, I realize that I did the whole giving something up for Lent backwards, as today marks Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. Oh well.

This week I've been madly planning for my sister's trip which is coming up in 10 days (!) and which still needs some researching. We've decided on a trip to Le Marche, a beautiful region of Italy on the east coast. And so the Airbnb stalking commences. I love to find apartments that are beautiful and characteristic of the destination, while obviously being budget friendly. Because we'll have a car, we have more freedom in choosing which city we want to stay overnight in (be it Urbino, Pesaro, or even closer to San Marino). If you're still wondering what all the Airbnb fuss is about, I highly recommend you sign up, get $20 off your first stay and be prepared to never book a hotel again.

Additionally, Edoardo and I are also deciding whether or not to make a trip to Luxembourg. He's going there for a few days for work and I'm thinking of flying there and meeting him for the weekend. Because we wouldn't have to pay for his flight or accommodations, it seems like a great option, but I'm still not convinced that Luxumbourg is worth a weekend trip of its own. If you've been there and loved/hated it, please let me know!

On another note, I've been binge listening to podcasts and have found some seriously good ones. Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids is pee-your-pants funny because it literally only features adults live reading their angsty teen and childhood journals. If you've ever cringed at rereading something you once wrote, you'll love listening to other people's most embarrassing memories too. The Budget Minded Traveler talks all about saving money while traveling and gives super helpful tips, while This American Life is one of the most well-known podcasts for a reason. They present multiple short segments following a single theme; they're all very interesting with compelling storytellers.

That's all for this week, aside from some gorgeous cinnamon-orange herbal tea that I've been loving! Things are getting crazy around here...

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Weekly Favorites 22/02/2017

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la vita roma So I'm getting way too excited right now about my sister's trip to Italy in March. I've been researching weekend trips for us to take outside of Rome and it's confirming that the possibilities for traveling within Italy are endless. There's such variety in the different regions and I love seeing all the different sides to this beautiful country. Currently we're decided between a non-Florence Tuscany weekend, with maybe stops in Lucca, Siena, and some thermal pools, or a similar length trip to Le Marche to the gorgeous Urbino, San Marino and maybe some mountainside towns along the way. Any advice would be very welcome!

This week I'm loving all things minimalist and pared down. I think the spring cleaning fever has hit me because I just want to clear out and start fresh, especially in my wardrobe. The new addition of some super cool boots doesn't hurt either. I'm loving the minimalist (capsule-wardorbe inspired) blogs Un-Fancy and Style Bee. Both ladies' styles kill it and inspire me in a big way.

Taking advantage of sunny days, Rome's parks, and a winter gelato are also high on my list. The past couple weekends have been beautiful and I spent last Sunday laying out in a t-shirt in Villa Torlonia.

To all those asking (mainly my mom), my milk-free February is still going, but its very rough. It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to say no to cheese and actually, last night I had a pizza dream that left me awake and craving the cheesiest pizza this morning :(

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Weekly Favorites 15/02/2017

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la vita roma Buon San Valentino da Roma! Valentine's Day isn't as big of a deal here as it is in the States because Italians celebrate Women's Day (May) with more enthusiasm, but it is catching on like a lot of other American trends. I've really had a great week so far and I think that's because of the beautiful weather here (IN FEBRUARY).

This week I'm loving all of the content on Twitter about Italy and Valentine's Day. Seriously, I've seen everything from these 5 reasons to date an Italian, to a look at the church housing the skull of St. Valentine, and then these super romantic stories about love found while traveling.

Last weekend, I bought a great hand painted platter from the Amalfi Coast at my neighborhood market and hung it up immediately. How is it so easy to buy things for the apartment but I can't commit to a single pair of boots?

Soy cappuccinos have been on repeat lately because I've found a couple of bars where the soy milk isn't too bad. Those have been right up there with any songs by Tame Impala because we might have listened to The Less I Know the Better 50 times this weekend.

Finally it's the big countdown to Fat Tuesday and Italians are celebrating with copious amounts of fried pastries and artery-clogging delights like frappe and fried ravioli stuffed with ricotta, sugar, lemon and rum *sigh*.

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Weekly Favorites 08/02/2017

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la vita roma I'm putting my favorites this week into a collection of things that I've been loving recently, from the weekend and during the week when I have breaks during the day.

This week I got back on the podcast love-bandwagon and have been listening non-stop to the Young House Love Has A PodcastIf you're fans of DIYing, home renovation/decor, or just love HGTV, I think you'll be just as obsessed. It's by the blog famous couple, John and Sherry of the Young House Love blog, who have dramatically cut down on blogging and now make a weekly podcast that covers design FAQ's and other interesting home tidbits. I love to listen to it while I'm taking public transport, walking, doing dishes or any other random tasks that go by quicker with something on in the background.

I know I've already posted about these socks quite a bit, but seriously, the best part of my day is coming home and putting these puppies on. My feet have never felt warmer or more comfortable.

My TV show of the moment is Westworld which I'm obsessed with. It's like Battlestar Galactica meets old Western film and the juxtaposition is very pleasing. Check it out on HBO if you like anything to do with virtual reality, futuristic robots, the Wild West or moral dilemmas.

The last thing I'm loving is the free first Sunday of every month at most museums in Rome. It's a great opportunity to see some places that you wouldn't go to otherwise, like smaller museums or revisiting a favorite. I'll have a post up on Friday about the situation and the museum that I went to last Sunday.

That's all for now! Enjoy the (somewhat) warmer weather in Rome or just appreciate from afar with some springy pictures that I took last week.

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Weekly Favorites 01/02/2017

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la vita roma I can't believe that the first month of 2017 has gone by so quickly. But after working out the kinks in my bullet journal and setting some goals for the year, I'm already feeling so productive and in the zone for February. It definitely helps that the weather in Rome has been beautiful and we're able to enjoy the city during the day when it's sunny and warm.

Over the past week I've been all over Twitter (check out my new account) and Bloglovin. One account that's really helped me a lot with the strategy behind growing my blog is @abranchofholly. If you're new to blogging or just want to increase your reach on social accounts, Holly's blog is so informative and easy to understand.

The best part of last week was the American brunch we hosted for Edoardo's birthday, where we invited all of our friends over for pancakes, egg sandwiches (bagels included) and mimosas. I loved hearing all of their comments about the food because American food is still a novelty here. While there are plenty of burger places in Rome, the breakfast cafe market is still relatively undeveloped. Guess I know what my next career move is

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Weekly Favorites 25/01/2017

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la vita roma Today I'm celebrating a very important person in my life and the main reason why I moved to Italy, started this blog, love my life everyday, etc. Tanti auguri and happy birthday, Edoardo xx.

We're celebrating with obligatory barbecue bacon cheeseburgers, beer and an early night at home. Instead this weekend, we're hosting an American brunch with all the fixings (pancakes, eggs, bagels, mimosas) and I can't wait to see our Italian friends' reaction to a real breakfast that includes more than a cappuccino.  For my readers' viewing pleasure, I'm making today all about the birthday boy with some of my favorite shots of him ;) Enjoy, and check out my favorite picture of us over on my Instagram.

 

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<3

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Bullet Journal Guide: How to use the bullet journal system

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Without a doubt, my bullet journal was the best thing to happen to me in 2016, productivity-wise. It allows you to use your time much more effectively, stop procrastinating and find a organization solution that works for all of the disparate parts of your life. At the same time, bullet journalling becomes addictive and you're thrown into a large community of users when you start one. I love the flexibility of this system and think it's a great tool for almost anybody. Because the bullet journal system still relatively unknown, I'll explain how it works, give examples of my 2016 and 2017 journals, and list some ways to use it.

How a bullet journal works

The biggest strength of the bullet journal is that it offers a flexible solution to procrastinators and anyone who needs to keep all of their thoughts in one place. It does this primarily by collecting all of important information from your life in one notebook and cataloging it in an index. Any entry you make in the journal, you write a note about at the front of your journal, in the index. This is why your notebook should have numbered pages (the most popular notebook of choice being the Leuchtterm1917).

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bullet journal

The sections that people divide their journals into differ on a case-by-case basis, but generally you'll have a future log, monthly overview and daily logs. A future log takes a look at the upcoming months and is where you note any important dates, events, or tasks that need to be done within a specific month. A monthly overview is usually in calendar form and holds specific appointments for that month, goals, tasks or anything that covers the entire month. From there, you move on to daily logs that help you plan out your individual days. I put meetings, reminders, notes, and tasks in my dailies, which are differentiated by symbol (included in the key above). This whole setup is very flexible however, and changes with trial and error.

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bullet journal

The best part of the bullet journal system, in my mind, is its ability to add collections into an agenda-like set up. Any lists, journal pages, drawings, notes, or entries not included in your monthly/daily spreads are called collections. These can truly be anything you want and enable you to effectively use your journal for work or your personal life.

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bullet journal

Possibilities

Other than working as a basic datebook and planner, a bullet journal provides you with so many options for use. Some of the collections that you can include are:

  • Yearly goals and overview
  • Running to-do list
  • Gratitude journal
  • Daily tracker (a way to reinforce and track specific habits while providing accountability)
  • Meal planning
  • Monthly budgeting
  • Stats trackers (blog, social media)
  • Ongoing lists: bucket lists, travel destinations, book lists, shopping wish lists, future activities
  • Travel diary (when traveling I write journal entries for each day so I can look back on past trips and read exactly what I did)
  • Collection of yearly memories (a way to look back on what I did for the past year)

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Why I love it

  • It’s a unique journal in a sea of Kate Spades and Lily Pulitzers, that represents your unique personality and needs
  • You can use any type of notebook setup
  • Keeps digital and paper info all in one place (iPhone notes, calendars, to do lists, journal entries, notes, bucket lists)
  • Opportunity to be creative with drawing, designing, and lettering
  • Flexible: it grows and changes the more you use it and you can constantly improve on your personal system

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What to do next

If all of the reasons above have convinced you that this is a big game changer, there are plenty of further resources to check out. Before starting one, I really recommend heading to bulletjournal.com where the original creator of the system gives a great overview (with video) and has examples of real journals. You also tend to fall down a rabbit hole of Pinterest, Instagram, and BUJO blogs (I love Boho Berry for her artistic ability and clear descriptions) while looking for inspiration and spend way too much time and effort to make yours look exactly like the professionals'. I would say to start slow and add in embellishments as you go, as long as that doesn't end up discouraging you from using it as a productivity tool.

Would you use a bullet journal or are you a fan of the more classic agenda/diary approach? If you do use one, what are your favorite collection spreads? I'm always looking to add more.