Leah O’Neil's Blog Posts

Hello crafty friends! Leah here to show you a few super fun decorations I’ve made for my Carpe Diem planner using the Happy New Year Simple Set. I really want to show you a few of the MANY ways you can use any of the Simple Sets to decorate your planner on a budget, with very few supplies; they include six 12x12 papers (3 designs, 2 of each) and a 6x12 sheet of cardstock stickers.

The kits come with a cover page that shows you what products are in the kit. Many people throw this sheet away but I like to repurpose it and cut it into a bunch of little ephemera pieces. I use these pieces to embellish my planner.

Much in the same way, the 12x12 papers in the collection kit are very versatile. They can be cut down to make dashboards, dividers or pocket pages. You can also punch out different patterned shapes, or use scissors to fussy cut some of the designs to create more of your own die cuts.

After I created all of these die cuts, I used a few to make decorative paper clips. Some were as simple as gluing a couple of shapes together with the top of the paperclip sandwiched in between. I embellished the clips with gold sequins, washi tape, string and a few cardstock stickers from the collection kit.

The balloons and party hat are both fussy cut from a 12x12 elements sheet. I used a superglue gel to stick a paper clip to the back.

The circle paperclip is double sided and it’s made with circles punched out from the 12x12 elements sheet as well. I used a 2¼ size circle punch. Rather than just gluing the circles together, I wanted to add a little more interest by adding some cute string from my stash. Whenever I need things to REALLY stick, I always use red line tape. I lined the edge of the circle with the tape and then wrapped the string around the edge.

I failed to get a photo of the next step unfortunately, but all I did after this was use a glue dot to stick the top of the paperclip to the inside of the circle and then I stuck on the other circle die cut to hide the mess.

The other two paper clips were made using pieces cut from the collection kit cover page. Since they are made of thinner paper, I made them double sided. My favorite paperclip is the one with the little banner at the bottom. That was so easy to make! I just cut a few triangles and banner shapes from patterned paper and the cover page of the kit and glued them along the bottom. Because this clip is double sided, the part where the banner pieces are glued on is hidden, as is the area where I glued the paper clip.

I really love how all of these turned out and I can’t wait to make more! I purposely chose designs that I can re-use after New Years as well, for any party/celebration or count down marked in my planner.

The next thing I made with the Happy New Year collection kit is a little shaker card. I made this using a couple of 3x4 cards cut from the 12x12 elements sheet. I used a 2 ¼ in. circle punch to punch a circle into both cards; I punched them both at the same time so that the circle was in the same place. These will be the front and back of my shaker card. I then used my 3in. circle punch to cut two vellum circles. I made these larger so that I have room to add glue around the edge of the vellum and stick it over the open circle on the 2x3 card.

Then I added glue around the edge of the second vellum circle, but not all the way around. I left the top part of the circle unglued and stuck the circle down on top of the first vellum circle. This created a small vellum pocket (with the top open) that I then added some glitter and sequins into. After that, I glued the other 2x3 card down to the back to cover the mess. Then I embellished the front of the shaker card using washi tape, more of those banner pieces I cut earlier, washi tape, some string from my stash and couple of stickers from the collection kit.

Here are what all the decor pieces look like in my planner. I still have tons of this kit left to decorate my January pages too!

The bright colors in this collection kit really inspired me to get creative with my watercolor paints. I made a dashboard for the front of my planner to inspire me for the New Year. I cut down this 12x12 paper from the kit because I LOVE the confetti pattern. I used the colors of the confetti to choose the watercolor splashes I wanted for the background. I had to mix a few colors to get the shades I wanted but this palette from Michael’s makes it so easy to blend colors.

I used the packaging technique to create the background. For those of you who are not familiar with this technique, it simply involves adding paint and water to a piece of plastic packaging and then turning it over onto the page and “smushing” it down (how is that for fancy terminology?).

I put a couple of paper towels over the top and put the page under a couple of heavy books while it was drying to help flatten out the slight warping. After it was dry, I added a doily and started layering. Normally, I wouldn’t add quite so much dimension to my planner pages but since this dashboard will be in the very front of my planner, I added as much dimension as I wanted.

I added another banner here, tissue paper, a couple of the die cuts I created earlier, some stickers, sequins, string, washi tape…lots of embellishing. I have the MOST fun creating mixed media layouts like this! I am absolutely in love with this dashboard and it is the perfect thing to greet me when I open my planner. All of the vibrant colors are so inspiring and the message reminds me that 2017 is my year to sparkle, which for me means pursuing more creative endeavors, taking more time to create, and hopefully inspiring others to create.

Have you been thinking about what your goals are for 2017? I would love to hear what they are! I am hoping to finally launch my blog I’ve been putting on the back burner for all of 2016. I am also currently working on video content, which is a little scary and intimidating. I hope you will pop over to my Instagram and the Carpe Diem planners instagram for more creative inspiration for your planner. I will talk with you again soon!



Hello again crafty friends! Leah here to show you the beginnings of my December Daily album. I attempted this project a few years ago, but I failed a few days in. When I first started prepping for the project this year, I started with SUCH excitement and confidence. I had a ton of fun decorating the cover! I’m using the 6x8 Striped Holiday SN@P! Binder for my album this year.

Before I jump into my album, I thought I'd share an A-HA moment I had as I worked on this in the hopes that it might help YOU along the way :)

On December 1st, I started strong. I took a few photos and noted the story I wanted to tell for that day, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to assemble my album pages on that day. As the December days continue to pass, I am trying to stay diligent in recording the details. As I sat down to start pulling layouts together for the first couple of days of December, I quickly remembered why I failed at this project before. I have this frustrating tendency to overthink everything. It is always a challenge for me to set aside my eagerness to keep adding more details until my layouts are “just right.” As much as I try to avoid the fact that I can be quite a perfectionist, that trait of mine rears its ugly head during daily projects like this. “Perfection” is a very relative idea that varies from person to person. For me, my joy and my demise are in the details. I need and love the meaningful details that I put into my layouts, but I can also spend a lot of time pulling those details together sometimes. I really enjoy the process, no matter how long it takes me but for a DAILY project, extensive time spent on every page of my album WILL eventually overwhelm me and burn me out. I thought I had learned this lesson the last time I tried to create a December Daily album, yet there I was again, as I sat down to start the first pages of my album, questioning whether I would actually be able to fulfill my commitment to this project. I am determined though, so I pushed through the self-doubt and told myself that I’m going to take this one day at a time and do the best I can. There is no time limit.

After my first couple of layouts, I started to find a rhythm. I figured out a few things about myself that are starting to help my layouts come together easier.

1) I MUST limit my products. I have chosen to use the Classic Christmas collection from Simple Stories and a few other supplies from my stash, but I have to make sure I never have too many choices around me or I will start feeling overwhelmed.

2) I need a special, organized space to work on my album. Before December 1st, I set everything up on my dining room table and organized my supplies where I could easily see them all. Now, this space most definitely does not stay clean as I start working. Try as I might, I am a very messy crafter. However, I have made a huge effort to make SURE that when I am done crafting for the day, I tidy up and put everything back in its designated spot. This has been critical for me because a messy space is not welcoming, and I need to come back to this space every day in December.

3) Something as simple as arranging my page protectors in my album stressed me out SO much. With everything else I have to think about in December, I was not about to let this be the thing that did me in. I read Ali Edward’s blog post on her foundation pages and she actually provides a link to the map of how she arranged her page protectors. If you are someone who tends to stress over details, I highly recommend giving yourself a pass on this one and mimicking the arrangement of Ali’s page protectors, or create a simple formula by laying out all the types of pocket pages you have and just arranging them in the same pattern over and over. You can make adjustments later if necessary.

4) Because I know that I tend to overcomplicate things, I tried really hard to keep it simple. I saw these beautiful, simple pages that all my crafty friends were putting together and wished I could do the same. I tried to conform to this simple style with the clean lines and beautiful design, thinking that’s what I needed to do so that my brain did not become overwhelmed with adding the decor instead of focusing on the stories I wanted to tell each day. Well, I couldn’t do it. This is the most important lesson I have learned from this project so far: you have to make your project YOU. Yes, I needed to find some balance. Realistically, I cannot spend hours a day making layouts for this album. However, I can make it more “me” by adding crafty details and giving it more of a “messy” and handmade vibe. That is not everyone’s style and that’s okay! Some friends I know are documenting their December memories as mini albums, or in a traveler’s notebook or planner. You really have to find a memory-keeping system and style that is going to work for you, because not only will you hit roadblock after roadblock if you try to conform to something that isn’t you, but the entire purpose of this project is to document YOUR stories. The memories will mean more to flip through in the future if you can connect with the perspective in which they were being documented - through your eyes, in your style.

So without further ado, here are the first few pages of my December Daily. I began with stating my “reason why” for this album, or my intentions for what I wanted this album to be. This year, I really want to focus on slowing down and enjoying the magic of the Christmas season. I typed up my journaling on this free printable from Ali Edwards, and then printed it out in a 6x8 size using Photoshop.

I cut down a patterned transparency from Michaels to use as a dashboard in the front of my album. I just traced a page protector to get the correct size and then punched holes for the rings. The gold cutout star is from my stash and I used the speckle patterned paper from The Reset Girl collection to put behind it. I LOVE the simplicity of that pattern so much and the cream and black colors coordinate so beautifully with the gold on the transparency.

Before I got into creating daily layouts, I decided to add a few more details to the front of the album. This calendar is from a set of Classic Christmas SN@P! Pages that I cannot wait to use throughout this album. They are going to add a lot of interest in between the pocket pages! I added some cream pom pom ribbon from my stash under the “December.” I then stamped the dates and added lots of Classic Christmas embellishments, such as stickers, die cuts, stamps, enamel dots and washi tape. As a planner girl, decorating calendar pages is my thing. I had so much fun with this!

One other element I added to the front of my album uses some of the free Classic Christmas printables Simple Stories offers. You can find and download them here! I used the “Making a List” pages and cut them down so I could add patterned paper to the background and a few other embellishments. I also printed another set of these list pages out separately for my planner. I scribbled the messy notes on those and then rewrote everything neatly in my album. I used gold glitter washi at the top of both pages and added my title using black foam Thickers on the left page, and the white letter stickers on the right are from the Classic Christmas Expressions cardstock sticker sheet. At the bottom of the left page, I added a couple of cardstock stickers and a small die cut from the Classic Christmas SN@P! pack. On the right page, the “Merry Christmas” is a chipboard sticker from the collection.

My layout for December 1st began with a large 6x8 photo of some festive peppermint mochas I made for my husband Patrick and I.

The story I decided to tell was about how Patrick and I assembled and decorated the tree while we watched Christmas movies and sipped on our mochas. After the tree was decorated, our cat Minerva, a.k.a. our resident tree inspector, gave it her stamp of approval.

On the right side of the layout, I chose a photo of Minerva with the tree and printed it in a 4x6 size. I chose a couple of 3x4 SN@P! cards for the top pockets and began embellishing. I used some washi tape, a word strip sticker, a couple of die cuts, and a chipboard sticker from the Classic Christmas collection. The gold numbers I’m using for my album are pocket pieces from the collection. I stamped the date on the journaling card and stamped the stitching pattern from The Reset Girl roller stamp in several places for a little extra detail.

As far as the album cover, I used one of my favorite patterned 12x12 papers from the collection on the front. I cut it down to the proper size and inked the edges. I used black foam Thickers for my title. Under the title, I used gold glitter washi tape with a couple of wordstrip and decorative stickers from the Classic Christmas collection.


The snowflake is a cheap wooden ornament I got at Michaels and I love the dimension it gives to the album cover. I punched a circle from one of the light blue papers in the 6x6 paper pad as a background for the year. The addition of the light blue into the otherwise traditional Christmas colors of this collection is one of my FAVORITE details. The icy blue really brightens the collection in a beautiful and unique way.

I lined the inside of the album using this patterned paper from The Reset Girl collection. I love how the bold pattern adds a modern spin to the Classic Christmas collection. I use bold black and white prints often throughout the album. The cute little red stocking adhered to the front of my album is from the Target dollar spot and I added a couple of chipboard stickers to dress it up.

I will be adding lots more pictures of my album to my Instagram throughout December, and maybe, just possibly…I might be filming a YouTube video or two for the first time. We will see how that goes! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my Instagram. Head on over to the Simple Stories and Carpe Diem Planners Instagram accounts to see all of the other amazingly gorgeous ways the Christmas and winter collections are being used!


Hello again crafty  friends! Leah here to show you how I am using one of my Doc-It journals as a gratitude journal. Did you know that gratitude boosts levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain? Just the act of thinking about what you appreciate can trigger these “happy” chemicals in your brain, making you feel happier.  November is the month of the Thanksgiving (in the USA) and often inspires many of us to spend more time reflecting on what we are thankful for. This month seemed like the perfect time to start a daily gratitude journal.

In the past, I have tried to incorporate documenting gratitude into my daily routine, but I have failed time and time again with establishing it as a habitual practice. I am just recently realizing why that keeps happening. I don't know if any of you feel this way, but when I think about what I am grateful for, my brain immediately goes to BIG, general ideas, such as family or my health, or the roof over my head. While I truly am SO grateful for all of those more obvious things, thinking on such a large scale really limits my list. When you are trying to establish a daily gratitude practice, you start running out of ideas pretty quickly if you are too generalized. My dear friend Tiffany spoke to me a little about how she has been documenting her gratitude and I have found her method to be quite helpful for me.  At the end of the day, she reflects back on that day and asks herself, “what is the best thing that happened today?”  Then she writes it down. This practice has really helped me get more specific with what I am feeling grateful for, which makes the process a little more exciting because I now have more variety in my answers. This method has also become a wonderful way to document memories! You will notice how my daily pages so far have a scrapbooking vibe, which is making this project feel even more special, by including mementos and photos with each gratitude message.

For this journal, I started with the Posh Doc-it journal and covered it with one of my favorite 12x12 papers from the Hello Fall collection. I added watercolor to the background and then layered some gold glitter washi tape, tissue paper, a small square SN@P! piece, and a couple of those beautiful leaf die cuts from the Hello Fall collection. I used foam adhesive under the square to make it pop off the background.

The bottom is just torn pieces of patterned paper that I layered and inked to add a little dimension. In the corner, I inked a doily and added some Hello Fall stickers and twine.

The inside cover and first page of the journal act as a cover page. On the left side is an element from a page in the Hello Fall 6x6 paper pad. I felt it was appropriate because I am grateful for all of the things listed (which is why I love autumn so much)! I used some leftover paper scraps to layer behind the words. I inked the edges of the yellow paper to give it a burned look and added some string from my stash that reminded me of sweater material, which I thought gave the layers a “cozy” feel. Last but not least, I punched a tag out of some orange patterned paper and added twine and a clear sticker from the Posh collection.

On the first page of the journal, I used more of that paper I covered the front of the journal with, but I painted the leaves with different colors of watercolor paint. I also painted some of them with a gold shimmery paint. I drew a border around the paper with a fine point sharpie. On top is a Hello Fall SN@P! card and the letter and number stickers are from the Posh collection. 

 I then added a cluster of embellishments: a gold doily, enamel dots, a tab, word strip stickers and washi tape. 

The bottom part of the page has a picture of my entire family and the gather together words are fussy cut from a 12x12 paper in the Gather Together collection kit.

I am only documenting a couple of days from the end of October because my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary over Halloween weekend. I wanted a chance to scrap those memories and express my gratitude on those special days.

The first layout in my gratitude journal is highlighting the date night that kicked off our wedding anniversary weekend! I documented the memories from that night with some photos, movie tickets and journaling. On this day, I was thankful for date nights! All the décor used in this layout is from the Happy Haunting Collection kit, except the washi tapes. I LOVE adding watercolor to my layouts because it adds so much vibrancy and interest! The paper in the Doc-it journals is very thick; it takes the watercolor so well and doesn’t bleed at all!

The next layout is from a trip to a Halloween event that my husband and I took with my youngest sister. Even though the event itself was not all that we expected, the spooky atmosphere and the company made this night a blast. On this day, I documented the experience and expressed gratitude for my sister’s wild, super goofy and amazing personality. She is one of the funniest people I know and we took so many crazy photos that night- this is only some of them!

All of the décor is again from the Happy Haunting kit. I fussy cut the date and the crossword pieces from the 12x12 elements pages to create die cuts. I added lots of watercolor to the background to allow the die cuts to pop off the page.

I really love how the crossword looks with the watercolor peeking through!

Instead of gluing the card at the top of the layout down, I stapled it onto the page so that I could add journaling underneath.

The next layout is really special. This one went a little against the grain in that I didn’t journal about anything from that specific day. We had to work on our actual anniversary, which is why we spent the weekend celebrating. So for this day, I printed out some of our wedding photos and journaled about how thankful I am that my husband challenges me and truly makes me a better person.

This layout understandably has a more romantic feel than the last few pages. I used the beautiful Posh collection for this one. I mostly used SN@P! pieces and die cuts from the collection and used several of my paper punches to punch different shapes out of the 6x6 paper pad to layer behind the photos. I used my scalloped edge punch a lot in this layout, which was inspired by the white doily that spans both pages underneath all of the photos. It is a large square doily from my stash with a scalloped edge. 

I really like adding ink to the edges of most of the layers because it adds dimension by creating some separation between the layers. In this case, it makes them stand out against the white background as well. I also frequently add faux stitching to my layouts, like I did to the vellum circle, because I love how it looks and am often too lazy to do the real thing.

How lovely are the clear stickers over the photos?! 

I really hope I am able to continue diligently with this gratitude journal! Many of my upcoming layouts are only going to be one-page, the two-page layouts will be reserved for special occasions. I hope you will follow along with me on this journey and try creating your own gratitude journal, or just use a notebook or your planner to write down something you are grateful for every day. Remember to stimulate those happy brain chemicals! Follow me over on Instagram to see my upcoming journal layouts!

With love and gratitude.