one january day

blank book ideas

I’ve always loved blank books – I love having a blank canvas that’s portable and always ready to capture whatever happens to be striking my fancy. As I’ve begun to sell my handmade books, I’ve often seen someone fall in love with one, yet walk away with a sigh, saying, “I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

Here’s the thing, there are millions of books published out there – books that are already written and ready/waiting to impart wisdom, but until you create it, there isn’t a single book in the whole world that perfectly expresses YOU – and I think that’s just about the most important book there is!  You are filled with wisdom and beauty and it deserves to be documented. In a blank book, I can write, collage, photograph or otherwise document my world – on paper, where I can go back and look at it any old time I want. It’s personal and private and, if there are things I want to share from that practice, I can pick and choose.  It somehow helps me engage a bit more in my world – looking for the ideas, experiences and feelings that are meaningful and making note of them in some way.

With all this in mind, I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas of how I’ve used some of my handmade books, along with how some of my customers have used their books.  I think you will be inspired and I hope the next time you fall head over heals for a blank book, you walk away with that treasure in your happy little arms and fill it up with the story of you!

Memory Books

Memory Books

  • Holiday tracker/planner – mine holds Christmas card lists, gift lists, photos, menus and more!
  • Keep one by the computer to track ideas and websites
  • Add family photos and document the stories that go with them
  • Collect notes & cards from loved ones
  • Travel Journal – mine (such as the one shown above) typically include lots of photos, hand-written impressions/feelings/memories, clippings, maps, ticket stubs, postcards, notes and whatever else happens to come home with me!  Another beautiful idea for travel – a friend went to Italy last year and came back with a gorgeous book filled with sketches & watercolor memories of her trip.


Home/Life Management

  • Calendar – google to find a current year calendar that you can print and washi tape it to a page, designate pages for to-do lists, short & long term goals, mine even includes a section for daily notes (experiences, memories, gratitudes, diary entries, etc.)
  • Address Book – our needs have changed vastly for these in recent years! Mine shown above/right is a work in progress but will hold account numbers, logon info/hints, web addresses, email addresses, even business cards (I’ve taped mine at the top so I can still flip them up and read the back)
  • Cookbook – I keep a small one filled with my stand-by recipes for everyday type meals + I have a larger one that has what I call “the fancy stuff” for holidays and special occasions; I also love to slip photos and stories into these too.
  • Home Improvement Diary – paint chips, color palettes, magazine clippings, contracts for service performed, flooring/counter photos and so much more. This book has been a lifesaver for my husband and I – we can always find the exact paint color we used for a room, the contact info for a contractor we particularly liked and that ever evolving honey-do list. 😉


Photo Books

  • New baby Brag Book (as shown above 😉 )
  • Shared-memory photos & stories as a gift for a friend
  • Instagram photos – attached with washi tape and embellished with hand-written stories and sketches


Wedding Books

  • Bridal Planner – perfect for keeping track of the myriad things that must be done before the big day
  • Guest Book – photo above shows one I made for my niece’s wedding several years ago; guests signed their name on their birthdate
  • Guest Messages – place a blank book and a pen on a happy little table and invite friends and family to record well wishes for the new couple



  • Quotes
  • Sketches/doodles
  • Hand lettering practice
  • Fashion, color palettes and other ideas/inspiration
  • Study/Idea Exploration – shown above is my “Find Joy” book for 2016; it includes questions/self-inquiry, articles, quotes, lists, even a Dream Board spread.


Art Journals

  • I keep an art journal going at all times!  It tends to be a place where I clean off paint brushes or use up excess paint. Then I have pages ready to add my intuitive art practice – including more paint, collage, found bits, scraps, rubber stamps, photos, pen work, stickers and more!
  • Your own hand-written poetry & small paintings
  • A book devoted to testing art supplies – a book with heavy watercolor paper is ideal for this and I’m a big proponent of using what you have.  All too often, we artists buy supplies and tuck them away, never to be seen again.  If you keep a test journal (and use it religiously as soon as you bring something new into your workspace), you’ll always have an idea of what you actually HAVE and how it works.


Written Journals

  • Diaries
  • Morning Pages – ala Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way
  • Bullet Journal – these are great to carry around with you, here’s a link to a video on bullet journaling by its creator, Ryder Carroll.
  • Dream Journal – record your dreams and, if you’re adventurous, interpret them!  Here’s a link to my favorite dream interpretation book by Wilda B. Tanner.
  • Gratitude Journal

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