Leah O’Neil's Blog Posts

Hello fellow creatives! Leah here with you on the blog today. Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Simple Stories blog for another dose of creative planning fun! I hope you all are having an awesome September so far. It’s been a pretty busy month for me since I last spoke with you. I got a promotion at work! I’ve been undergoing a total life and culture shock in this new job, all changes for the better as far as I’m concerned, but still a significant adjustment to my life. My schedule is way different, my responsibilities and workload are much more challenging than any job I’ve ever had. I bought a cheap daily planner that I’ve been using strictly for work stuff, but I have a lot of personal life things that need planning as well, especially right now. A lot of home priorities, including my creative time, have fallen to the way-side as I continue trying to find a new work/home balance. It doesn’t help that I’ve been in such a planner funk when it comes to organizing my home and personal life. I have been itching to change up my planning system. I am on that infamous, never-ending quest to find planner peace.

I am still in the process of figuring out what will work best for me as a day-to-day life planner, but something I learned at the start of this year is that I really love using a spiral planner. I think it’s the ease of being able to fold the planner around to lay flat when I’m writing that appeals to me. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Simple Stories was going to be releasing spiral planners! I could not WAIT to get the “Beautiful” one in my hands – it was love at first sight. Well that time has come my friends, and it is everything I hoped it would be!

Not only is the planner simply BEAUTIFUL, as the name suggests, but it is extremely sturdy and well-made. Stay tuned to my YouTube Channel – a thorough review is forthcoming because I love this planner so much it needs to be featured in its own video. The biggest highlight of the planner for me is the amazing paper quality (standard 120gsm, like all other Simple Stories planner inserts), which is pretty rare to find in a spiral planner. The monthly and weekly pages are mostly black and white, which I prefer so I can decorate with any colors and supplies I want. The dividers have the same gorgeous muted colors and stunning designs found throughout the rest of the Beautiful collection, giving this planner a very sophisticated and elegant aesthetic. The gold foil accents are like the strawberry on top of my favorite cheesecake…..assuming my new favorite Simple Stories collection was a cheesecake. ;)

I am excited to show you a couple of weekly layouts I created using products from the Beautiful collection in this gorgeous new planner. For both of these layouts, I used mostly the same supplies - from the Beautiful collection: the sticky notes, die cuts, and A5 sticker tablet. I used several washi tapes from my Simple Stories collection as well: two from the Reset Girl collection, the new butterfly washi from the Bliss collection, and the “Dream Big” washi from the Bloom collection.

Here is the first weekly spread:

The Beautiful 6x8 paper pad is full of charming vintage florals that I cannot get enough of. I used one of the pages that had flowers along the bottom, fussy cut the floral edge out to use on the bottom of my planner spread, and then used the leftover paper to punch out little butterflies to scatter around the layout.

Whenever I add paper butterflies to a project, I usually add a small dot/line of adhesive along the body only so that the wings can lift off the page to add dimension. I’ve done this on scrapbooking and mixed media projects a lot, but it’s also a really fun way to add dimension to your planner pages because it doesn’t actually add any extra bulk. The butterflies just lay flat when you close the planner.

Here is the second weekly spread:

Page flags anyone? I used some in their original form, from the sheet of sticky notes and the sticker tablet. However, I often cut square or round stickers, paper, and washi tapes into different sized flag and banner shapes as well, to add variety and interest to my embellishment clusters.

When I finished these layouts, I was in the creative zone and was so inspired by this collection that I had to keep going. I thought to myself, I dress up the front of my ring bound planners all the time, why not dress up the front of my spiral planner too? I decided to turn the intro page into more of a decorative cover page, much like a dashboard. In the center of the page, I layered a doily, a couple of my favorite die cuts, and a tag I cut out of paper scraps from earlier. I fussy cut some more vintage florals from another 6x8 paper and arranged them around the edges of the page, and then added the paper butterflies and a fancy paperclip as a finishing touch.

To make the front pocket feel a little more special, I left the sticker backing on the big “life is beautiful” chipboard sticker and used some repositionable adhesive to stick it onto the pocket, just in case I wanted to remove it later.

I had such a lovely time playing with the Beautiful collection and my new spiral planner. I’ve never been so excited to film a planner review before! What new planner or collection are you the most excited about? There are SO MANY amazing new products to choose from. Be sure to go check out ALL of the new pretty paper planner things over on the Carpe Diem Planners Instagram!


Hello again creative souls! Leah here with you on the blog today. It’s been quite a while since I’ve shown you some weekly planner layouts! That’s what I have for you today, two vertical planner layouts with accompanying process videos. Yes, TWO plan-with-me videos! I am still using up lots of tidbits from the new Carpe Diem collection and have a few cool ideas to share with you all for your planner spreads.

In this first planner spread, I had a lot of fun layering the Carpe Diem stickers!

I like layering the patterned stickers that have no words, behind stickers that have quotes on them. It draws focus to the quote and adds a pop of color. I added a couple of these die cut stars to my layout that I made using a paper punch during my last planner setup video (you can watch that here).

I’m using the space at the bottom of the page to do a little mood tracking. The hearts are from the Domestic Bliss roller stamp. I rate my mood at the end of the day on a scale of 1-5, color in the corresponding amount of hearts, and make a little comment about why.

As I am writing this post, the second half of the week has not happened yet. Though I already have my week planned, I will continue add in the mood info at the bottom at the end of each day.

Also during my planner setup video last month, I fussy cut these clouds out of a pocket card to make die cuts. With the star die cuts on this layout, I really feel like the clouds add the sweetest whimsical touch.

Here is the process video of this week’s layout coming together.

For my second weekly layout, I went a little bolder with the colors, but using the same collection. You can see how just changing out the washi tape I used, allowed me to bring out those bolder colors from the new Carpe Diem line that I didn’t use as much in the last layout.

You might notice this week looks incomplete but that’s because I sometimes like to “pre-plan” and decorate a few weeks ahead and then fill in the plans as they come. In addition to decorating, I will also go ahead and write in plans I know are happening ahead of time. For example, I know I am going on a weekend trip during this week. So I dedicated a space to documenting that.

I even made this cute little interactive booklet with a few paper scraps, so have a place to add some photos and journaling after my trip. When you don’t have enough real estate to write a lot on a planner spread, adding a “flippable” element can give you more space for memory-keeping.

While we are talking about fun planner tips, get two stickers out of one by cutting out the border from around those box stickers you’ve been using, to get a little frame sticker that you can write in. You’ll be able to see how I do this in the video below!

Check out the process video for this second weekly spread!

To me, this is the most fun detail of the entire layout – and this is why you should always come check out the blog post in addition to the process video, because there’s always more content here! You may have noticed in the video, that I used a small ½ inch circle punch to cut out a few circles from one little square sticker. I did that so I could turn them into mini balloons. Aren’t they adorable? What a fun way to mark a birthday in your planner! Also, here is another example of how I’m using the border of a used sticker as a box to write in.

So I am curious friends, do you like to decorate ahead a few weeks? Or do you plan and decorate as you go? Sometimes when I get in the creative zone, I just don’t want to stop after one layout is complete, so I keep going. Let me know your style in the comments below! Be sure to check out the Carpe Diem Planners Instagram and Facebook for lots more planner inspiration, and come say hello over on my Instagram @sunny.leah. I hope you will tag me if you try any of the tips/techniques from this post. I LOVE seeing you all get creative with your Simple Stories products!




Hello again creative planners! Leah here on the blog today to show you how I give the front of my Carpe Diem planner some “curb appeal.” I will be using the new Carpe Diem collection and showing you just how versatile a few of these products can be. I have shared many blog posts on here featuring decorated front pockets and dashboards, but this will be the first time I have filmed a video of the process, start to finish. I am SO excited to share it with you! 

I have taught an online class all about front pocket design and techniques if you want more thorough explanations of the “why” behind a lot of my decisions when decorating my planner pockets. You can find a link to that class in my Instagram bio. In this blog post and video, I will be showing you all about the “how.” I will take you through how I made several of the elements for the pockets using the Carpe Diem Dashboards and Pocket Cards set and a few papers from the new High Style 12x12 paper pad.

These pockets came together fairly easily, just by cutting and punching out a few basic shapes. When it comes to pocket decorating, I like to use a variety of shapes. For example, in these pockets I have a large circle, a smaller circle, a tag, small stars, a banner, cards with sharp edges, cards with rounded edges, and a die cut typewriter that I fussy cut from a pocket card. Having a few paper punches in basic shapes is always a good investment for creating your own die cut shapes, but I collected the punches I have over the course of several years. Several of these shapes can be hand cut pretty easily without paper punches. The circle is probably one of the hardest to hand cut but is still possible with the trusty technique of tracing around a cup onto paper and cutting it out, or you can get these awesome photo cropping tools from Simple Stories that make it super easy to cut different sized circles. They are much more cost efficient and portable than having to buy several different sized circle punches.

I also like adding some texture to my planner pockets by adding things like doilies, ribbon, and staples. Another common technique I use to add the illusion of dimension and texture, is to add doodled borders and hand drawn stitching to the edges of some shapes.

I made this pocket card from scratch using some white cardstock that I cut down to fit in the pocket, and then I used the Say Cheese III roller stamp to stamp words all over it. This gave me a cool black and white text background which added an interesting detail to my pockets without competing with all of the other colors I was using. You can get this effect with any word stamps, but the Simple Stories roller stamps make it so easy and quick to do, and I like how they always have a few shapes added in too. Like the Say Cheese III roller stamp for example, has an arrow and rows of hearts and stars that break up the words.

All of the patterned paper dividers in the New Carpe Diem monthly planner inserts are so beautiful. The collection has many of the same fun elements from the original Carpe Diem line, but there are some black and white images that give it a very trendy, modern vibe – kind of reminds me of some of my favorite pieces in the old “Life in Color” collection, but with the Carpe Diem colors and designs.

The monthly dividers are pretty enough on their own without adding anything, but I always like to jazz things up in the front of my planner. In this case, I used a smaller decorative dashboard from the collection and customized it with a photo and some fun layering. I love that because the dashboard is smaller, I get that personalized feel at the front of my planner but I can still see the monthly divider underneath.

In an older blog post (read it here!), I customized one of the Carpe Diem planner charms for one of my planners and got a lot of a great feedback on it! I did the same for this planner, but this time I filmed a quick tutorial to show you how incredibly easy it is to do. I will be posting that video clip over on my Instagram, so be sure to come say hello over there and check it out! Here is the YouTube video of my process for setting up the front of my Floral Dot planner, I hope you enjoy it! Hit “subscribe” while over on my YouTube channel to catch future Carpe Diem planner videos!