Bloom in 2021

2020 just ended and it felt like the fastest and the longest year that we have experienced. I’m thankful to put that in the past and move on to the new year. But stepping into the new year doesn’t feel like a fresh start. The whole world is still on a recovery stage from the big detour that is 2020. Some of us are probably still stuck in a rut, some of us are still figuring out how to move forward, and some of us are just trying to survive.

Instead of feeling hopeful that we are going to have a clean slate and start anew, I think the better attitude is to take it one day at a time, and bloom amidst all the uncertainties around us.

For my 2021 planner, I chose “Bloom” as a theme. It’s a suitable reminder for me that I can bloom on my own time and in the right season. It’s still good to plan, but also allow some room to adjust and adapt to the changes along the way.

(What a reflective segue to the planner. haha)

Weekly Planner
There aren’t any changes in the layout of the weekly planner. Last year, the fold of the planner was horizontal like a regular notebook. This year, I made it vertical like a notepad. I just folded sheets of scrap paper (I still have hundreds of sheets from my college bin declutter from last year) lengthwise then folded it down to make it look like a notepad.

Just like last year, I made 13 signatures for binding, each signature is for a month of the year plus one extra signature for notes.

I squeezed in lining and stamping the days in between stressful work days. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time, given that I was having online meetings almost every day and I used my weekends to catch up on sleep and try to recuperate from exhaustion (spoiler: I never got a break). It took me around 2 months to finish the major part of the process.

Also, peep my make-shift phone tripod. I enjoyed taking videos during the last DIY that I decided to do another hyperlapse for the planner. In the embroidery entry, I used a waterbottle as a tripod. This time, it’s an abacus. lol

Monthly Covers
It took a while for me to decide on a design for the monthly covers. I was going back and forth on two designs — a watercolor + doodle design or a bullet journal-inspired design. I went with the latter because I still had photo prints and I was lazy to bust out the watercolor. haha

I made small fake polaroids by cutting 2.5 x 3 in rectangcles from scrap paper, the cut squares in the middle, leaving a 10 cm border on the top and sides.

Then I placed them over the photo prints and cut out the excess. Tadah, mini fake polaroids!

For the monthly calendar, I cut out squares from loose notebook pages. During my decluttering season, I shredded and threw old notebooks. I tore out the unused pages for future use and this is one of them. The recycled paper is perfect for the whole vibe of reusing old stuff and not buying anything new for the planner (oh except for the binding tools).

Layering is such a mental chore. haha I had to look for inspirations on Pinterest to see how bullet journal experts do it aesthetically. I did a mix of the printed portion of scrap paper, the fake polaroids, colored paper, washi tape, and stamps. I’m not sure if I did it properly, but it was the best that I could do as a first timer.

The back and front cover were from left over illustration board. I think I hoard illustration boards because I was sure that I used up the one I had in stock last year. Then I found a huge piece in a bin. I’m good for another 3 years. I covered it up with blackboard paper and cut up a gold paperbag for the inner cover.

I still used the coptic binding method and use the ever reliable tutorial from SeaLemon. And to make the bookbinding journey even legit, I FINALLY purchased a binding set that includes a proper binding needle and an awl.


Poking the holes was so much easier because I could adjust how big I want the hole to be. I still had help from a pushpin to make the initial hole, but the awl did wonders to making a bigger hole through and through the sheets of paper. And oh the curved needle, the best purchase ever, made the binding such a breeze. Before I used a regular sewing pin for binding and I have lost count on how many sewing pins I’ve broken. Now that I had a proper curved needle, I didn’t have to worry about needles breaking or struggling to pull the thick thread through the signatures. I’m so happy, I could cry.

Also ya girl got an upgrade with her video-taking set-up. As part of the office Christmas exchange gift, I received a ring light and lazy pod contraption that I could clip on a chair or the table. No more makeshift tripods!

And to make the final touches, I took inspiration from an artwork by Clare Owen and drew flowers in a mug using chalk crayons. I sealed it on the paper by brushing on a light layer of glue and water.

The Finished Product
I finished the planner just days before the calendar turned to a new month and year. Clutch! (Is that expression still relevant?)

The cover page taken from an adult coloring book
Aaand the final output

2020 has really been tough on me. This 2-week holiday break was my only break from the year. During that break, I was able to take it slow, reflect on the year that passed, calibrate my next steps for the new year, and stay in the moment. I just watched Soul and there was a question that made an impact. “How are you going to spend your life?” I think that the hustle and bustle of surviving 2020 pulled me away from living. So just like the movie, I need that spark that will pull me out of being a lost soul and jumpstart the will to bloom.

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