Using a Bullet Journal for OCC Shoebox Organization


You all know I’m a big fan of packing Christmas shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. You can read previous posts on this subject here, herehere, here, here and here.

I’m off to a good start this year by using my new bullet journal pages to track what I need and what I already have. Yes, I’ve taken to carrying one journal with me, but still use the system I outlined here for my journaling. This one I carry with me is like a note pad to jot things down to remember.

RULE CHANGE for 2017:




I try to pack every box with a Malawian village child or a former USSR-country orphan in mind. It’s up to the God where the boxes go, but that’s how I choose to shop. I track my boxes and was pleased to see my prayers, while not answered EXACTLY by country, at least they went to areas with the same sort of needs. The two cold weather boxes I packed went to a country with mountains and cold nights, so someone is sleeping in nice warm pajamas this year!

To me this is a personal mission for both me and the recipient. I bargain shop like a maniac, but I always stop and ask myself: “Would I have been willing to buy this for [my kids]?” Note, I don’t ask “Would they have begged for it?” Unlike many today I almost never took my kids shopping with me for clothes.  I know I could fund many more shoeboxes buying wholesale lots of the same thing–and there is a great need for that–but I enjoy doing as many “personalized” boxes as I can. It feels more like giving a real Christmas gift then. I always color-coordinate the bandana and hair accessories to the top I send in a girl’s box. Regardless of age or gender, every box gets a covered cup with a straw or a water bottle. Clean water must be kept clean!

Some of my recent bargains for 2017 Shoeboxes:




  1. Soccer/basketball pumps for $1 each at Dollar Tree
  2. $1 knit dress, brand new!! at Wal-Mart
  3. 2 pairs of cute girls shoes for $1 and $2
  4. 1 free tote bag of good material with cute graphic [Thanks sneakerhead.com My son was THRILLED that I got him a shirt from there and gave me the tote bag for a shoebox]
  5. Brand new Chaps shirt for an older boy $3
  6. Valentine’s bandanas with no words just cute colors and a few hearts $0.10 at Wal-Mart
  7. I found the Barbie for under $3 at my Kroger


I decided to do an on-going inventory page(s) in my journal so I could better picture what I had better and to curb impulse purchases. I also had a stash of these blue baskets (below) and, amazingly, created an almost empty bookcase so I am working on a “packing station” that I will show in a later post.



Things never to bother buying:

Kleenex. This baffles me. Do Americans really think everyone knows what this is? It will become, at best, toilet paper (nice, but they “work around” this problem all the time) and people blow their noses everywhere in the world.What a waste of box space! Ok?

Deodorant: Ultimate first-world product. Not sustainable in use. Becomes trash. Just no. It is only used in the first-world. Skip it.

Tampons: Culturally inappropriate in many societies due to virginity taboos. Also, having an insufficient supply means over-use and that can lead to Toxic Shock. If you only have one tampon for several days…… [Same is true in donating to Women’s Shelters]. Remember, when packing sanitary products do so DISCREETLY. How would your daughter feel about unwrapping a bag of Kotex on Christmas morning? Cloth pads can easily be made or bought on Etsy for reasonable pries (I buy them) but make sure they are dark colors and in a dark cloth bag. Include a few Ziplock freezer bags for soaking and carrying used pads home from school.


RULE CHANGE for 2017:



New to OCC Shoeboxes? Read How to Pack A Box

Have you started shopping for your Shoeboxes? Do you only do items you get free? Do you make anything to go in boxes? Leave me a comment–I love to hear what others do for this super cause!






Note: You are entirely free to like or dislike anything, but negative comments on the organization profiled here will be deleted. This is not a forum for discussing religious differences or disagreement. Thank you.


Bullet Journaling and how I don’t really do it, but sort of do


Have you taken to the bullet journaling fad? I tried to…and failed. Sort of. Maybe not totally. Don’t worry, I also failed at those SAHM-beloved housekeeping binders, too. I’ve made two of those so I have the proof. Here’s what I mean about possibly being a washi tape washout or bullet journal failure.


 Source                                                  Source

Note: Both of these are from classes people teach. Click the link to see their blogs.

I keep seeing all these marvelous journal pages in my Pinterest feed. I have major journal envy. Art journals with mixed-media collages, Bible study journals with beautiful graphic-like illustrations, amazing natural journals and fabulous travel journals–all reinforce my inability to draw anything or create cool collage. I can live with that–it has been a life long source of embarrassment that I simply cannot draw. I’ve tried to learn. Toddlers clutching candle-sized Crayolas in their sticky little hands and scribbling on paper covering the dog’s back do a better job. I cope with this.

Lately it’s bullet journal envy that’s got me in it’s iron grip. If you’ve been off line for a while then you may not have met this new craft/time-finder/order-maker system that basically combines OCD/scheduling/listmaking/art/scrapbooking. Well, I used to do tons of scrapbooking. And, with something like adult ADHD. list-making is pretty important. But I’m not at all OCD–I can sleep soundly knowing there’s a weeks dishes left to do any time, any place. Never mind,  I took the plunge. I bought a journal. I watched the video. I looked at great sample pages. I created a Pinterest board. I bugged my bullet journal-loving friends for ideas and photos. I investigated printables. I fangirl-ed Boho Berry big time! Nonetheless, I’m a Bullet Journal School Dropout, big-time.




Then, as I was tying myself up with expensive Japanese washi tape and  a fabulous, colorful gel pens I had an epiphany! Yes, an epiphany. I know, it is a cool word, isn’t it? Epiphany.  I’m not a failure at all. I was just ahead of the curve. Rare in my life, but it does happen. Ok, I can’t keep track of closed circles or open circles and the only thing that ‘migrates’ in my life is laundry from the dryer to the coffee table, and lets not even discuss the anxiety that Greater Than or Less Than symbols have caused in my life since 4th grade,  but I do this….in my own weird way, of course.


My Method


Desk List



First of all, let’s take the To Do list–my Desk List, I call it. It stays put on the left side of my desk at all times. It sits there atop my statistics tally sheet so I can find them. That lesson was learned a long, long time ago. First thing Monday morning I brainstorm everything that needs to be done. At the top are job-related tasks. At the bottom are personal things. As you can see, the list grows as the week goes on. I also have a huge desk blotter calendar and email calendar. I have to write things down with pen and paper to get them into my brain. This is such a crucial thing that earlier this year, when my best-ever freebie notepad ran out, I went in search of a duplicate. I actually splurged and gave T.J. Maxx $3.99 to have that same format of paper, but in a pretty design. Pretty is good. It’s even got cool inspiring phrases like my dear Boho Berry uses. See? I sort of bullet journal.




The spiral notebook is my Book of Firsts–a type of observation journal used by nature watchers. I use this when I remember it. It’s not adorned, it just records any firsts like the first time I see yellowed tobacco leaves in a field, I know the season is nearing a change. It’s just the habit of paying attention. I don’t have a real Nature Journal because I simply can’t draw, but a lot of people enjoy doing those as well. They are usually a bound sketchbook, but can take any form the user chooses. Some people keep their Firsts on the calendar for obvious reasons. A bullet journal could easily contain Firsts and even a nice drawing to accompany the first. See? I sort of bullet journal.


I cannot function without two types of paper: 8 1/2 X 11, narrow-ruled legal pads to track big projects (not pictured) and mini Composition notebooks to keep in my purse. I use the mini-books to scribble great quotes from the audio books I listen to, to jot ideas for my books in progress, to keep prayer requests when I make it to Sunday School and for other stuff on the fly that needs to be remembered. Also not shown is a spiral book of 3 x 5 cards for when I want to memorize a Bible verse. Essential, obviously. Well, obviously a prayer list and Bible reading schedule or inspirational Bible verses and quotes are very appropriate for a bullet journal. And “Brain Dump” pages are one of the hallmarks of bullet journaling. See? I sort of bullet journal.


This plain red blank book is my Reading Journal. I also used Goodreads.com so I’m not as up-to-date as I should be on entering books here. I like the idea of leaving this for my great-grandchildren. I use a simple star rating system. Five Stars would be one of a very, very few fabulous books. I’ve kept a book like this for many years. My to-read list is just on Goodreads since it would take the whole book!

Source                                 Source

I’ll give you that these two fabulous reading and to-read list pages are way, way cool. They rock the topic and then some. But my plain-Jane page does what it needs to do for me. See? I sort of bullet journal.

Big Journals


In spite of the picture showing two books, there are actually three. I forgot to photograph the snazzy plaid spiral notebook I keep my writing conference notes in. Trust me, it’s Boho Berry-worthy in terms of overall cover attractiveness. These two regular sized Composition books are my Commonplace Book, that is my book of quotes, and my Reading by Geography Log. In the photo, the red Geography Log corresponds to the photo in the upper right corner and the Commonplace is the upper left. Fairly straightforward–I do think the geography book would be amazing with little flag stickers to denote the state or country! With the Olympics not far off, I bet someone on Etsy is selling them, too. One amazing Boho Berry tip I’m stealing soon, is to print out a map on sticker-paper and then color the various states or countries represented. This works very well for a travel journal or a bucket list as well. See? I sort of bullet journal.

What’s Yet to Come?

Habit Tracking

In addition to the great map idea (in the video at the bottom of this post) I LOVE the idea of habit trackers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not OCD. I won’t be tracking each time I drink a glass of water or keeping a tally of the steps I walk in my sleep. But a fitness habit tracker is a great idea. I use Map My Walk, a phone app, when I walk outside. I keep my gym progress in my head and my weight I prefer to not know. Trust me, I don’t forget it.

Remember that Homemaking Binder? Yep, many people put that sort of stuff in here too. I have a cleaning schedule–I clean whenever I must host a graduation, wedding, baby shower or funeral. Ok, it’s a little better than that! But I don’t obsess.  I do plan to print out (on sticker paper!!) some tracker pages or buy tracker page stamps. I can’t draw a straight line even with a T-square so I’m fine with these methods.

Savings tracking is also popular. There are a lot of great visuals for this and, you guessed it, I want to print a couple and see how I do with them. When I remember, I use Dave Ramsey’s free zero-dollar budget form online. My money is pretty well accounted for on payday. Any extra is usually squandered joyously spent on books.

Wish lists–either from your family for gifts or your own or for your home, any type wish list is good too. When I owned my home, pre-Pinterest, I kept a wish list file with the actual list and samples of projects torn from magazines or photocopied from library books. It was very helpful. Today Pinterest does that pretty well, but the file let me keep price quotes, business cards and other things together. Today you can, of course, scan all of that and keep it electronically–just add a link to your Pinterest board. But having it in paper is still very handy for shopping so you don’t look like a phone-addict.


Source (left)               Source (top)   Source (bottom)–not Great Tips here, too!

Like any fad, bullet journals have spawned an entire industry of supplies. Different journals, pens, stickers–you name it. Most one-time scrapbook supply companies now cater fully to the journaling crowd. Drawing classes are surging and a new style of handwriting/calligraphy called hand lettering is sweeping the blog-a-sphere. Different people swear by different brands of journals and debate lined vs plain vs French-lined vs graph paper! Remember your Mom’s best advice? Be Yourself. Do what works for you. I find no need to drag all of this around with me. Nor do I like hauling a bag of supplies along to make it all look good. If that’s your thing and you really enjoy it then do so! And, I’d truly love it if you came back and posted some page examples in the comments. I’m that freak who enjoys seeing people’s vacation photos or dog videos or scrapbooks.

Now, I insist you click and watch Boho Berry’s Summer Road Trip! Not only does she show you awesome bullet journal page, but she’s a savvy road trip Mom with super ideas for your next family road trip–including the map idea I mentioned above. Below the video is a link to my Pinterest Bullet Journal board.