Leah O’Neil's Blog Posts

Hi everyone! Leah here again, showing you how I’ve decorated my planner for summer using the Sunshine and Happiness scrapbook collection. I’ll be showing you how I’ve revamped my pockets with a new summertime look, how I’ve created another memory-keeping dashboard, and how I’ve made my own double-sided pocket insert.

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you are probably very aware of my love for decorating planner pockets! I change up the décor in the front pockets of my planner at least once a month because it’s such an easy way to revamp my planner and keep it feeling new and exciting. This month, I’ve made my pockets summer-ready using the Sunshine and Happiness collection!

When I first start the process of decorating my pockets, I ALWAYS start with the SN@P! Pack for whatever collection I am working with. The journal cards and little square pieces fit in the pockets perfectly. I try to mix and match the colors I use so that no element is the same size or color as the one next to it. I find that this contrast allows each element to stand out. I also add variety to the shapes of the cards by using different paper punches. For example, I used a 3inch circle punch, a tag punch, and a rounded corner punch to create some of the pieces you see here. I also left some of the cards as squares and rectangles. After I laid the cards out in the pockets how I wanted them, then I added the extra decoration. I wait until the cards are in the pockets so I can better judge the placement of the embellishments. I used several die cuts from the Bits and Pieces pack – there are so many fun florals and that Mason jar lemonade and fruit slice die cut are just too cute for words! I secure everything in the pockets using a Scotch Tape Glider loaded with repositionable tape so I can easily remove everything later. 

I used several stickers from this pack of 4x6 sticker sheets. There are so many different types of stickers in this pack! I used the hot pink alphabet stickers to spell out “Summer Time,” though I had to improvise and use an upside down “W” for the third “M.” I used the word strip stickers, which I dressed up with some gold glitter washi tape and enamel dots. 

I also used one of my favorite stickers from another sticker sheet in the pack, the girl with sunglasses, and a floral die cut to dress up a tag from the Bits and Pieces pack.

For my dashboard, I made another scrapbook layout for my planner similar to what I made back in April. Some people like to carry photos of their families in their wallet, I like to add them to my planner to make me smile every day and remind me to be grateful for the people I love most! Featured in this layout are my darling niece and nephew, the flower girl and ring bearer from my wedding. Here they are peeking through the pier down at the ocean…and in another photo, making silly faces when they were told to smile! I could not wait to print these photos and use them in a layout! Because I like to use the small square pieces from the SN@P! Pack to layer behind photos, I like to resize my photos for planner layouts to be 2x2”.  One of the photos was not square so I resized it to be 2x3”. These smaller photos fit better onto the limited space available on a planner dashboard.

I used the “Shine Bright” 12x12 paper from the Sunshine and Happiness collection to create the dashboard. If you would like to see more about how I create dashboards and dividers, check out this blog post. I used the bold yellow side of the paper as the base for this layout – I love the “Hello Sunshine” sentiment so much! The flip side of this paper has a beautiful, delicate floral pattern. I had some leftover scraps from the paper after I trimmed it down and the floral pattern made a lovely frame for the photos. 

I added a couple of the SN@P! Pack square cards behind the photos to add a little more dimension to the layering and make the photos pop off the page. I used a couple of chipboard flowers as embellishments and no surprise here, more gold glitter washi tape and word strip stickers with enamel dots (always)!

Before gluing everything down, I tucked a couple of light blue paper doilies under the floral paper. This finishing touch provided some contrast against the bold yellow background, helping to draw the eye towards the focal point of the layout – the photos.

Last but certainly not least, the bright yellow paper really needed some contrast on the edges to frame the layout, so I inked the edges with a pink chalk ink. I love how this project turned out! You know the best part about making scrapbook layouts for your Carpe Diem planner? The holes line up to fit into the Simple Stories 6x8 SN@P! binders, so you can transfer the layouts there later to form a 6x8 scrapbook!

Next up, I will be showing you how I made a double-sided pocket insert using the Sunshine and Happiness collection! 

I cut down another 12x12 paper to fit my planner, which ends up being 6 inches wide. The 4x6 cards from the 12x12 Elements sheet, as well as the largest SN@P! Pack cards (also 4x6), fit perfectly on the page to make a pocket.

To create the pocket, I lay the 4x6 card with the side I want to show, face down against the bottom edge of the page I’m attaching the pocket to. I use a piece of washi tape (or scotch tape) to attach the two pieces and then if you fold the card up to lay on top of the page, you will see the pocket forming.

To attach the sides of the pocket, I used the little edge I trimmed off the 12x12 paper at the beginning (you know the part with the Simple Stories logo and collection name – no scrap goes unused in my house!). I cut it down to two 4 inch strips, used the track on my cutting board and a pair of scissors to crease the center of each strip and then folded them in half along the crease.

I then added glue to one edge of each strip and glued them down to the inside edges of the pocket. 

I added more glue to the other half of each strip and folded the pocket up to lay against the page and pressed it down firmly. I followed this same process on the reverse side of the insert to create another pocket using a different 4x6 element card. 

I embellished each pocket using strips of paper and washi tape along the top, die cuts from the Bits and Pieces Pack, word strip stickers, enamel dots and a chipboard sticker. I then marked the holes for the planner rings and used my Crop-A-Dile to punch them out.

I hope you have just as much fun decorating your planner for the summer season as I did! I also hope you find this pocket tutorial helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask here in the comments or over on my social media (Instagram or Facebook). I am happy to help! Also, if you make a pocket insert, tag me on Instagram @sunny.leah, I would love to see what you create! And come show us your creativity in the new Creative Planning Facebook group that my friends and I started just for YOU, our fellow crafty Planners!

With love,


Hello again friends! Leah here, keeping it real by showing you what my planner looks like during a very busy month. I get questions all the time about how I use my planner functionally. I am ALWAYS going to have some decoration in my planner, because decorating my planner is a conscious choice I make to prioritize creative time, which helps keep me sane AND makes me excited to open my planner and actually use it. Because I have been insanely busy this month though, I have not had time to decorate as much as I normally would. I thought this would be a good time to show you how I am using my planner functionally, but also show you how I am still finding ways to get creative and dress things up!

This month, I used the Bloom and Grow scrapbook collection to decorate because I am so in love with the garden theme and the sweet little gnomes!

I can’t help but add some décor to the front pockets. The Bits and Pieces pack for the Bloom and Grow collection is so full of adorable ephemera! That is mostly what I filled the pockets with this month because I just HAD to use those die-cut gnomes. They make me so happy to look at! The little square pieces are from the Bloom and Grow SN@P! Pack.  I use a repositionable adhesive to make the pieces stay in place in the pockets, which also allows me to easily remove them later.

After decorating my front pockets, I usually like to create a matching dashboard so everything coordinates. As you can see, I have kept my dashboard very simple this month. I picked one of my favorite 12x12 papers from the collection and cut it down to fit my planner. Because of the words on the paper, I had to make the decision to either cut through one of the words, or try to cut in between them. I chose to cut in between the words but that made the paper about a half an inch too short. I thought about leaving it as is, but then I remembered I had this pretty scalloped ribbon that I could glue to the bottom to extend the length a bit. I actually ended up adding two rows of the ribbon and I love how it turned out!

Whenever I am super busy, I need my planner to be everything I need on-the-go. This means it has to store important papers/information I need to reference and have ample space for making to-do lists. Even though I decorate nearly all my front pockets, I do save the bigger secretarial pocket for holding larger papers or information I need to access easily. For example, right now this pocket is holding tickets I printed to an upcoming concert, a couple of receipts, a bill, a wedding invitation and a blank birthday card. I could fit even more into this roomey pocket if wanted to!

When I know I am going to be running around a lot, I will load up my planner with extra craft supplies in case I get a little free time to decorate while I am away from home. Simple Stories makes pocket pages that are made to fit the 6x8 SN@P! binders, but they fit perfectly in my Carpe Diem planner. They are a little larger than the calendar inserts, so I do prefer to keep them in the very back. I use these inserts to hold stickers and washi paper tape, as well as various sized journal cards from the SN@P! Pack, which I like to use to write lists on or to journal special moments I want to remember.

I use this plastic storage pouch to hold my favorite die cuts. The zipper keeps all the little pieces from falling out of my planner. I use die cuts on pretty much every single project I create, so I had to find an easy way to store them in my planner.

I haven’t really had time to sit down and plan out a whole week at a time during the first half of May. Instead I have been making daily to-do lists. Simple Stories sells a lined paper pad that slides into the back pocket of your planner. This pad is SO useful because you can easily tear a sheet off and put it wherever you want in your planner since the paper has pre-punched holes for the rings! Lately, I have been writing my to-do lists on this pad and then putting the list at the front of my planner to keep me extra focused on the tasks I need to complete.

As much as I LOVE decorating weekly, there are times where that’s just not possible, and that’s okay! One compromise I always make time for, no matter how little time I have, is to decorate at least my monthly spread. So I did just that!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the gnomes in the Bloom and Grow collection?! Well here is another one, with an accompanying word strip from this sticker pack that says “chillin with my gnomies!” That gave me a good chuckle and still does every time I see it on this page. The same sticker pack includes several more sheets of various styles of stickers that all match the collection; I used many of them in this layout. 

The box stickers are not exactly a perfect fit for the monthly squares, but they are very close. I love how they look, so I used several of them to fill some of the boxes throughout the month.

I added some extra layers to the layout with washi tape and die cuts from the Bits and Pieces pack.

The letters that spell out May and the cloud and sun sticker behind them are both from the 12x12 cardstock sticker sheets. It has been raining SO much in Virginia for the past month, which is another reason why I felt this collection was perfect for decorating May. Since it is garden-themed, there are a lot of weather-related references. I used a few in this spread.

If your month has been as crazy as mine, I hope I have given you a couple of ideas on how to add some creative details to your planner without spending too much time decorating. Of course, it’s always an option to not decorate at all, as the Carpe Diem inserts have quite a lot of pretty details already. I am feeling so thankful for the fact that the inserts are undated because otherwise I would have wasted a couple of weeks of inserts this month. What are some ways you have made your planner more functional for your needs? Tag me on Instagram @sunny.leah, I would love to see your ideas!


Hello again! Leah here to show you how I have revamped my Carpe Diem planner for the Spring season! Despite the persistent cold weather that keeps popping up in Virginia, I find that the calendar start of a new season always inspires a fresh start/change, especially Spring. I have been using the Carpe Diem collection in my planner the last few months but in the spirit of the changing season, I felt compelled to give my planner a Spring makeover. The Life in Color collection is one of my favorites by Simple Stories right now! I have been hoarding this gorgeous collection, but it is time to put it to good use. Something about the bold colors and woodgrain and florals just feels so right to transition my planner into Spring!

First things first, I need to update the front pockets! I used pieces from the Life in Color SN@P! Pack, a couple tags and other ephemera from the Bits and Pieces pack, as well as a few stickers from the 12x12 Fundamentals cardstock stickers sheet. If you are curious how I get the large decorative piece to sit over the top of the bottom pocket like that, you can see how I did it here in a previous blog post. 

Next, I wanted to create a custom dashboard for the front of my planner. I recently received some of my wedding photos from our photographer and I am so smitten with them! So I decided to incorporate some memory-keeping into my planner. I cannot put into words how happy it makes me to open up my planner and see such a special memory in my life highlighted front and center.

For this dashboard, I used the 12x12 “Here and Now” paper from the Life in Color collection. It has these darling picture frames on it that were so fun to decorate and perfectly framed the photos I wanted to display. I chose a couple of my favorite black and white wedding photos, resized them to 2x2” and printed them out onto photo paper. I then trimmed them down to size, leaving a very thin white border to help them pop out against the colored backgrounds within the frames. I purposely chose black and white photos so that the bold colors of the Life and Color collection would provide a contrast that allowed the photos to really stand out.

Zooming in, above you can see where I have pasted the photo within the left frame. I punched out a file tab and stamped my wedding date on it and added a few stickers to embellish the photo. In the frame on the right, I glued down a 2x2” square piece from the Life in Color SN@P! Pack, added a floral sticker, a strip of washi paper tape, and a lovely ampersand from the Bits and Pieces Pack.

On the bottom half of the layout, the camera and star in the left frame are also from the Bits and Pieces ephemera pack. The Scrabble letters are stickers from the 12x12 Fundamentals Sticker sheet. I mounted the letters onto colored squares so that they popped off the page a little more. In the right frame, I glued down another square piece from the SN@P! Pack behind my photo. I like how the typed text pattern compliments the other romantic details of this layout, like the wood veneer heart and the washi paper tape with hearts.

I carried the collection further into my planner by dressing up my April monthly inserts. The Life in Color collection has a Planner Set that is made to fit a 6x8 binder, but I trimmed the inserts down (on the side with the holes) to fit into my Carpe Diem planner and then punched new holes. I trimmed off a decent chunk of these inserts so I will not be using the calendar sides of the pages. I glued the sides with the calendar together so that now, just the images are showing on each side. I basically created a sturdy monthly divider. I like the monthly tabs that come on the Life in Color inserts, so although I am still using the monthly inserts that came with my Carpe Diem planner to plan out my month, I cut the monthly tab off the Carpe Diem insert so I did not have two April tabs.

Of course I had to add some decoration to the new divider. So I added a 3x4 card from the SN@P! Pack, some washi paper tape, a floral sticker and a couple wood veneer stars.

At the beginning of every month in your Carpe Diem planners, there is a monthly planning sheet. I want to show you how I use mine. You can see here where I have pre-decorated this page so that I can go back later and add some journaling and memory-keeping for April. The SN@P! Pack cards fit perfectly in the sections of this sheet and I have retitled a few sections by simply covering up the titles that were there previously with embellishments and word strip stickers. I also used washi paper tape, enamel dots and several Life in Color stickers.

I have enjoyed walking you through my Spring planner setup using the Life in Color collection! Check out my Instagram for more details and photos of how I am using these products. Stay tuned here on the Simple Stories blog and social media to catch a glimpse of all the exciting new products coming soon!