Leah O’Neil's Blog Posts

Hello friends and hello fall! Leah here to show you how I’ve added touches of my favorite season to my planner using the Hello Fall collection. I cannot say enough just how much I love my Ivory Carpe Diem planner! I know darker colors tend to be more popular for fall and winter, but the warm neutral tone of the Ivory really compliments and emphasizes the beautiful colors in all of the Simple Stories Fall and Winter collections. Doesn’t the Hello Fall collection look so warm and cozy against the Ivory?!

The Hello Fall collection is full of adorable seasonal designs and sweet little woodland creatures!  My favorite design is the leaf with all the colors of the collection in it. You will notice the leaf design reappears several times throughout this post!

In my front pockets, I used several pieces from the SN@P! Pack: a couple of the 2x2 cards with fun fall sentiments on them, a couple of the 3x4 cards to provide patterned backgrounds, and several of the ephemera pieces from the pack. The larger leaf in the bottom pocket was cut out from a card in the pack as well. If I wanted to, I could decorate my entire planner with one SN@P! Pack because there is so much product in each one!

I also punched a tag and 3-inch circle from papers in the 6x6 paper pad for layering, and added some of the darling die cuts from the Hello Fall Bits and Pieces pack. How cute is that fox clip?! The decorative clips are one of my favorite products in all of the new Simple Stories collections!

Under the clear “Choose to Shine” dashboard that came with my planner, I made a fall-themed dashboard to peek through. When I saw the “Celebrate Fall” 12x12 paper with that gorgeous leaf design on it, I KNEW I wanted to do something special with it! However, the leaf was too big to fit in my A5 planner. So I found the same page in the 6x6 paper pad and cut out the leaf so I could turn it to fit on the page. I cut down the “Falling for You” 12x12 paper to use as a background to adhere the leaf to. I added very little extra décor because I didn’t want to take away from the beautiful design, but I love how the little details turned out!

I arranged some of the word strip stickers from the Hello Fall sticker pack into the white vein areas of the leaf. All the sayings are fall-inspired! I also added some enamel dots and cut a few floral stickers in half and tucked them around the word strips for a little more interest. Up at the top of the page, I added the die cut flags from the Bits and Pieces pack and an acorn sticker. The gold scalloped ribbon is from my craft stash.

At the bottom of the dashboard, the owl is from the Bits and Pieces pack and the little white flowers are from the chipboard sticker sheet. The letters that spell out “autumn” are from the Hello Fall 12x12 cardstock sticker sheet, and the green letters that spell out “Hello” are letter stickers from the SN@P! Color Vibe collection. Whenever I stack letters like this for a title on a page, I like to combine different fonts because I think the contrast creates a bolder statement that attracts the eye.

My October monthly pages were a blast to create! I love adding a little mixed media into my planner here and there. I mixed a few watercolor shades to create the light blue shade that you see under the big alphas that spell out “Autumn.” These alphas are from the 12x12 Cardstock Sticker sheet.

I decorated the rest of the layout with stickers from the Hello Fall sticker pack, the Hello Fall washi tapes, and die cuts from the Bits and Pieces pack. I brought more of the blue watercolor into the bottom right corner of the layout to create some balance. The acorns across the top of the pages are cut from one of the elements sheets in the 6x6 paper pad.

The next decorative fall element I made for my planner is a shaker pocket! It was SO easy to make! I started with a clear 4x6 pocket page, chose a few of my favorite SN@P! cards, and gathered a few sparkly things from my stash.

For the front side, I layered a few cards from the SN@P! Pack and just started putting various gold sequins and glittery hearts into the pocket, as well as couple of small die cuts. To seal the top, I used plain old, clear Scotch tape. I added a little more of that gold scalloped ribbon along the side as a finishing touch.

For the back of the pocket, I chose another one of my favorite 4x6 SN@P! cards and added some gold sequined string. I didn’t add any other bling into this side of the pocket, but some of the glitter came through from the other side and I love it!

Here’s what the shaker pocket looks like in my planner! How sweet, right?! 

I am really feeling inspired to use the Hello Fall collection throughout the season on all my weekly layouts! For the first week of October, I used lots of Bits and Pieces die cuts and the Hello Fall washi tapes. I cut all the flags from different patterned papers in the 6x6 paper pad. The notecard on the left is from the SN@P! Pack, as is the green card on the right with the flower. The flower itself is from Heidi Swapp and sprayed with her gold Color Shine spray. I cut about half an inch off the length of the card and rounded the corners so the card became part of the layout, rather than covering half the page.

On the other side of the green card, I had a lot of fun with lots of layering! I started with a 3x4 SN@P! notecard and cut it to be slightly shorter to fit the space better. I then used several scraps from 6x6 papers I had cut earlier to start layering behind the notecard. To add some dimension, I inked the edges of the orange paper scraps. I also used a 3-inch paper punch to punch out a vellum circle to tuck into the layers, and added some faux stitching around the edge with a black sharpie pen. I added a couple of die cuts and a decorative paperclip, and stamped the stitched pattern from The Reset Girl roller stamp. I then chose a fun Fall quote I found online and lettered it onto the card.

The right side of my weekly layout has more Hello Fall stickers, die cuts and washi tape.

The bottom of the page is a strip cut from a paper in the 6x6 paper pad. I used some washi along the top, added a die cut tab, a decorative brad, a couple of cardstock stickers and more of the paper flags I made with paper scraps.

I really cannot get enough of this collection! I will be happily using it all season! The designs are so beautiful, and all the quotes perfectly capture the magic of autumn. If you haven’t “FALL-en in love” with this collection yet, go check out the Carpe Diem Planners Instagram for some more deliciously fall-themed planner décor! You can also check out my Instagram to see more of my Hello Fall projects coming up!



Hello everyone! Leah here with you today to show you how I’m using my planner to organize my finances. I know what you’re thinking…what a boring topic, right? Finances can be very overwhelming to talk about. There are tons of useful tools available to manage your finances electronically, but for those of you like me, who also like working on paper, I want to show you how I have set up my Financial Planner.

At the beginning of the year when I was writing out my goals for 2016, two of the biggest ones were relating to money, mainly paying down as much debt as possible and saving up a down payment for our first home. I always had the intention of setting up a separate planner specifically for managing my budget and debt repayment. I have spent several months deliberating how I would organize this planner and what components were necessary to help me accomplish my goals.

I would like to be very candid with you all. When I got married, my husband and I both brought significant debt to the table. Between school loans and credit card debt accrued during trying times when we were less financially stable, I had to accept that the financial goals I had for our future were going to take time and unwavering diligence to achieve. The last several months, we have made several cut backs so that we could aggressively pay down our debt. However, it did not take long for me to realize how much little purchases can add up. We were living so frugally, or so I thought, but our debt did not seem to be decreasing. I decided it was time to finally sit down and set up a tangible resource that would allow me to organize a budget, closely monitor spending, and create visual incentives to keep me encouraged and on track. As I started setting up this planner and tracking our spending and debt repayment, I realized a few things: 1) We had actually made quite a lot of progress in the last few months, but 2) our total debt was much larger than I originally thought, and 3) we were still wasting quite a bit of money on frivolous spending. At this point, I was feeling very overwhelmed. However, I was looking forward to getting everything down on paper.

To make this planner feel a little less daunting, I started by creating some decoration. The pockets of my Ballerina Pink Carpe Diem planner were clearly WAITING to be decorated. How could I deny them? The Reset Girl collection has SO much ephemera (my favorite thing)! I used pieces from the Bits and Pieces pack, the Big Bits and Pieces pack, the SN@P! pack, and patterned paper shapes punched from the 6x6 paper pad.  I loaded up the larger secretarial pocket with sticker sheets from the collection that I thought would be most useful in this planner, mainly the more functional stickers. Fortunately, Simple Stories makes super cute functional stickers so no need to sacrifice prettiness for function!

The 12x12 patterned papers available in The Reset Girl collection have such beautiful florals and patterns! I used some of my favorites to create a few dividers.

I ordered the clear laminating stickers for my file tabs online and am still waiting for them to come in, so I cannot label my tabs quite yet. If you’d like to see how I make my dividers, including how I create my tabs and label them, you can check out this older blog post for details.

Even though my tabs aren’t labeled yet, I will walk you through my setup. I put my favorite divider up front and center. The first section will be titled “Inbox.”

This section has a folder that will hold receipts and important papers/notes that need to be filed away later.

I love this big typewriter from the Big Bits & Pieces so much that I laminated it for protection so it can peek out at the top of my planner. The clear sticker quote fits perfectly on the typewriter page. How pretty is that font?! I also added a little floral die cut.

On the bottom of the folder, I layered some washi tape under a pencil die cut and word strip sticker, and embellished with a chipboard flower. I also punched a banner out of a patterned paper from the 6x6 paper pad.

Below is an insert that came in the planner and it has a vision board design on the other side. I actually flipped this page upside down so that the spotted pattern was on the front and the vision board was on the back. I laminated this page so it can act as a dashboard. I can change out the card on the front easily or add sticky notes if I want.

The page below originally had text on it (it was upside down since I flipped it over), so I covered up the words with the pink planner die cut. I decided to turn this page into a vision board for my financial goals. Because the page is laminated, I can change out my goals if they change. Most of them are long term for now, but I might change them to be shorter term goals at some point. I added all the décor after I laminated the page, so most of it is removable if I want to change it up later as well. I love having so much flexibility!  All the décor I used is either The Reset Girl washi tape or ephemera from the Bits and Pieces packs.

The next section in my planner will be titled “Spending.” This section has the monthly calendar and vertical weekly inserts included in the Ballerina planner. At the front of each month, there is a habit tracker that I am using as a “no spend” chart for September. I get a gold circle on the days where I spend less than $20 on “extra expenses” I do not need (not including re-occurring payments like subscriptions and membership fees).

I added minimal decoration on this page and the page next to it. I used a card from the SN@P! pack, a couple stickers and some washi. The flag with the glasses came in the Reset Girl Dashboards set.

As we get further into this section, you will see less and less decoration. The calendar inserts are where I start getting into the nitty gritty of my budget and spending. Crunching numbers and maintaining discipline in tracking this area of my life is difficult enough without adding pressure to decorate. Plus, I want to keep these pages neat and tidy.

On the monthly inserts, I used a ruler to draw a diagonal line through each day. The number highlighted in mint is the total amount of money I had to spend on rent, bills, groceries and other necessary expenses. The number highlighted in pink is total money spent on things I do not need for the day. At the end of the month, I will add up the amount spent on “needs” versus “wants,” and my goal is to show a decrease in money spent on “wants” each month. In the notes column, I have a list of upcoming expenses I am expecting this month. I also have an area where I will record the total amount paid towards credit cards and the total remaining balance left on all credit cards. At the bottom of the column, I have drawn a jar where I plan to record how much I am saving throughout the month – the goal being to save $50 a week.

I am pretty excited about this next idea I’m going to show you. I am using a 4x6 clear pocket insert to hold receipts accumulated throughout the month. I will be using the receipts as well as online banking to track my spending in detail on the weekly inserts, so I needed somewhere to store these receipts. I used a couple of 4x6 cards from the SN@P! pack to make the receipts less of an eye sore. The coolest part about using a clear pocket here is that the slick surface allows me to stick things to it easily. On one side, I used some washi tape to hold a picture in place, which I can change out anytime. I stuck a few sticky notes onto the other side.

The cute pink coffee mug is from the Reset Girl Dashboards set. I also added a page from the bookmark tablet for notes/lists.

Moving onto the vertical weekly inserts, this is where I am tracking itemized spending in detail. The vertical inserts are perfect for this because I have divided my spending into 3 categories. The top box is for priorities, things I HAVE to pay. I labeled this box using the roller stamp from the Planner Essentials collection.

The middle section is for “extra spending/wants,” things I do NOT need. Sadly, I am off to a bad start for this month due to a weekend spent with friends and family and eating out. The bottom section is for re-occurring payments like subscriptions and membership fees. This is also where I will list planned extra expenses, like birthdays or other situations that might call for extra spending. This section will also be classified as “wants.” I love the few lines at the bottom of each day because it gives me a place to calculate totals. The first line is where I note total deposits to checking/savings accounts. The second line is the total spent on “needs,” the sum of expenses in the Priorities box. The bottom line is the sum of the expenses in the middle and last box for each day, the “wants.” These daily totals are the numbers I carry over to the monthly calendar each day.

In the notes column on the right, I have totaled up the numbers for the whole week. I created a visual demonstration using a pie chart to illustrate percent of spending on needs versus wants for the whole week. Ideally, the percent spent on “wants” would be much less. This planner is still a work in progress. 

For now, I am just tracking spending for September. At the end of the month, I am going to use those numbers to generate a monthly budget and savings plan. Once I have a budget set, I will report whether I stayed in budget or went over budget in the bottom of the notes column each week. The last section in my planner is dedicated to Debt Repayment tracking. I did not take pictures of that because it has too much personal account information.

Below is a peek at my essentials for daily financial planning: a good cup of coffee, a bag of erasable pens and highlighters, a couple washi tapes, my planner, and my phone. I use my phone for a calculator and to view my online banking.

When I started this process, I felt so overwhelmed. Now that I have this planner set up, I feel like I have a plan of action and am actively working towards reaching my financial goals. The most important thing to remember in achieving any difficult goal is that it’s a journey that takes time and commitment. My mantra right now is “One day at a time.” I can do this! What is your biggest goal for 2016? Have you considered setting up a planner specifically for helping you accomplish that goal? I love being able to take out this planner and dedicate intentional time working towards specific goals. If you have any questions about my financial planner setup, please ask here in the comments or hop over to my Instagram. I will be happy to give more details!



Hello everyone! Leah here again, ready to show you how I have decorated my planner for July using the Hero Simple Set! The Fourth of July is one of my FAVORITE holidays. I try to remember to be grateful every day, but on this holiday especially, I am reminded of the strong appreciation I have for how far we have come as a nation, for all the people who have brought us here, and the heroes that continue to protect our freedom every day. I love all the traditions we have to celebrate this holiday… spending time with family, enjoying the summer weather, the fireworks and sparklers, the cookouts! The sense of celebration and patriotism really brings the American people closer together, even during times when the nation has felt the most divided. Because the month of July always makes me feel extra Patriotic, I decided to use the Hero Simple Set to add some U.S.A. themed décor to my planner!

One of my favorite papers in the Hero collection kit is the one titled “Brave.” I love the shadow of the Continental U.S. map in the background. I wanted to find a way to incorporate this page into my planner so I decided to cut it in half and create a two-page decorative “dashboard” for the month of July. I chose to highlight the map by tracing all the states with a stitched white line, using a white Uni-Ball Signo gel pen. I really love the sewn effect it created!

To dress up the left page, I started with a red watercolor cardstock tag that I picked up in a pack at Michaels awhile back. I layered different colored paper strips and word phrases from the Hero 12x12 papers (using the title strips that many people trim off and throw away). I added a chipboard sticker from the Sunshine and Happiness collection (the girl with sunglasses) to make the page feel more fun and summery. I also added a gold glitter chipboard star I had in my stash (from Michaels), and used the white gel pen to draw in more of the white stitched lines.

At the top of the page, I added a title using a few more items from my craft stash. The yellow frames around the words are cut out of a card from the Life in Color SN@P! Pack. The letter stickers that spell out “America the Beautiful” are from the Sunshine and Happiness 12x12 Expressions cardstock sticker sheet. I added a couple small pieces of gold glitter washi tape, red-and-white string, and a sticker from the Hero 6x12 Fundamental Stickers sheet.

On the right side of my July dashboard, I used a blue watercolor tag as a base and added strips of yellow and gold glitter washi tape. I cut out the words from a 12x12 Elements sheet and arranged them how I wanted on the tag. I added some star stickers from the Fundamentals Sticker sheet and tied red-and-white string to the tag. I laid out the string how I wanted it on the page and then glued it in place.

The “July 2016” at the top of the page was created using more letter and number stickers from the Sunshine and Happiness 12x12 Expressions Sticker sheet. I also added more star stickers from the Hero sticker sheet and a wood veneer star from my stash (from the Life and Color collection).

For my July monthly layout, I used a 3-inch circle punch and banner punch to cut out a few shapes from the 12x12 papers in the Kit. All of the other pieces are cut out of the 12x12 Elements sheets or are stickers from the 6x12 sticker sheets.

Some more layered paper strips and words are in the center – I arranged them in a way that reminds me of a firework.  In the bottom right corner, I used another blue watercolor tag and added a red United States sticker from the Fundamentals sticker sheet, blue glitter washi tape and some words printed using my label maker. I put the white star sticker over VA since that’s my home! I used a marker to draw a stitched line around the edge of the tag and added some red string for a finishing touch.

My favorite part of this whole layout is the part with the red plane sticker. I got the idea to use the red-and-white string to create a flight path that ends with a blue star sticker, which is supposed to represent a “destination.” Using my label maker, I typed out the words “My love spans across the miles.” This part of the layout has special meaning to me because it reminds me of all the love my dad expressed across the miles during his many deployments as I was growing up.

I loved making my planner Patriotic for July! It can be so fun to let yourself run away with a theme in your layouts! I may have also gone a little crazy in the Target dollar spot and bought a few red, white and blue sticky notes and pens to use in my planner as well…

Happy Independence Day everyone!