Elisabeth Grover

Tag: creative journaling

So, what’s the point?

I was thinking about my blog this week and what I should talk about with you all. The things that come to mind are my favourite life tools – walking, journaling, solitude and creating a calm day. My tagline for The Garden Sanctuary is Tranquility Within and I would feel incongruent if I didn’t incorporate some serenity into my life.

Search Engine Optimisation

I went to a Search Engine Optimisation workshop not long ago and we talked about optimising your website so that Google can find you amongst the crowds. I was sitting smugly when the presenter was talking about using a blog to optimise your website as I blog regularly until I realise that I hardly ever talk about reflexology and doula work! My face dropped and my smugness ran for the door!

It made me think about my blog and purpose for blogging.

I went away from the session thinking about changing the direction of my writing to incorporate more reflexology and doula work but something stopped me.

Why would I change the content if I enjoy what I do?

I’m never going to be a multi-million-pound industry and those who read my blog tell me that they enjoy it so shouldn’t that be enough?

Instagram and Me

I’ve been journaling about this in my Morning Pages as it has been on my mind recently. I feel the same way about Instagram as my feed (@gardensanctuaryjournaling) contains images of my journals and early morning dog walks. I I look at the feed and I think ‘that’s me’.

I browse through the beautifully curated images and wish I could reproduce them but I can’t. I’m not a white, curated kind of person and, although I enjoy looking at others work when they create beautiful flat lay images, they aren’t me. I’m a slightly messy, hippy-dippy type of girl.

My photography needs work and that’s ok.

I’m a work in progress too

Take the Lesson

So I will take the lessons from the SEO workshop, look at the white flat lays on Instagram in awe, and carry on improving my slightly quirky ‘look’ to find my voice in this busy world. The pictures can inspire and entertain me in the same way as a film about climbing Everest will. I’m never going to do that but I enjoy looking at the top.

What kind of images inspire you? I’d love to know if my readers are Instagram fans too and if you have any hints for being ‘discovered’ for who you are. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My daughter with her vibrant pink hair and Coco (“The Mrs”) can teach me a lot. They are both are very happy in their own skin and I love this picture of them together.





My Life in Journals

I’ve been looking through my old journals recently and feeling amazed at the amount of history contained in all these little books. The image above is just a small collection of my writing as I have many Moleskine extra large journals on my shelf that I use for my Morning Pages.

Journaling Outside

It’s been a beautiful sunny week in the UK and the pleasure of being outside and writing my thoughts on paper. I have kept a journal since I was a teenager, making lists, enjoying stationery shops and creating en plein air.


I  remember my diaries from those days, the aspects of my life that I used to journal about and all the history those books contained. I was utterly devastated when my mum threw my books out during a house move. I don’t think she recognised the importance of those little books and how I would have enjoyed looking through them now.

30 years on..

I am still keeping a journal but it’s moved on a little since then. I write my Morning Pages as soon as I get up. One page of an extra large blank Moleskine and sometimes it’s a struggle to know what to write. It may be stream of consciousness stuff but putting it all down on paper, and the routine of making it part of my early morning, is very therapeutic. I light a candle or burn incense and write…and write…and write……

Different Types of Journal

I get back from my dog walk at around 7.30 and I go into the garden with one of my faithful friends, sit in my hammock with a cup of herbal tea and I paint. I have different types of journal depending on how I am feeling that day.

Scribbles that Matter

An A5 dotted grid journal that I use for watercolouring in and journaling over the paint. I also create my daily spreads in my Scribbles journal.

I have been really impressed with the engagement of the company letting me know when the new Scribbles journals are back in stock and replying to queries on social media. Out of the three ‘Big Hitters’ – Moleskine, Leuchturm and Scribbles, the latter is my favourite.

My Travellers Company ‘Travelers Notebook’ (or TN for short).

I have looked at these TN’s for a while and not been convinced that they fit my needs but recently I have become rather hooked. They come in different sizes and are made by companies other than Travellers Company, and are rather beautiful.

I have the passport sized, which is tiny but fits in my bag and is ready to go. I create a basic weekly spread so that I have my week in front of me when I’m out and about, and I have a notes page too. I love the size and the flexibility of this cute little journal.

My Chic Sparrow Outlander

This is a brand from the States which I found by accident but I can see what all the fuss is about. Beautiful leather with pockets for all sorts of ephemera and is a good size. Mine is a pocket which fits the little Moleskine Cahier pads that you can buy in Waterstones. That makes it handy when I don’t have time to check out the amazing range of inserts on Etsy.

I use this one for taking out and about and writing notes in coffee shops using this. It’s such a pleasure to keep in my bag and bring it out when inspiration strikes.

I bought mine nearly new in the UK as the shipping is high. There is a FB group where you can buy the American planners second hand or nearly new and it’s been a godsend for me (and my budget!).

Journal’s Creed A5 size

I’m waiting for my new journal from Journal’s Creed to arrive so I’ll let you know what I think when I get it. I loved the look of it online as I could customise and choose the colours that resonate with me. Of course, I chose purple!

I’ve got some pretty inserts from Citridori which I am looking forward to using. I’ll use this one journal for painting and creating pretty lists of meaningful things.

Filofax A5 Malden

This is my business planner so all my appointments go into this diary and I take it out to appointments with me. I have had a custom made cover for my business and I am thrilled with the beautiful felting with a picture of Bumble, my therapy room on it.


Earthworks Journals

I have been a fan of Earthworks Journals for many years and the featured image shows my collection of different sizes and types. Beautiful leather and perfect for my ‘Dear Diary’ type entries.

Art Journals

These aren’t strictly journals as I don’t write in them, but I still find them therapeutic to use. I have a collection of different sizes and use each one dependent on how I’m feeling that day. I tend to use acrylic and gesso in my art journals and paint abstracts but I have been leaning towards watercolours recently.

I have spent a lot of time over the years creating a collection of journals that I love spending time with. There’s something wonderfully calming about looking at all of the journals on my shelf and thinking that each one is filled with episodes from my life. I liken it to my bookshelf where I look at each book and know that I have read it at sometimes in my life (apart from the big pile of non-fiction books by my desk clambering for my attention!).

I hope you have a great week with your journals, please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about. My next post, which is almost ready to publish, looks at the subject of comparison in the journal community. I hope to see you there.







Creating your own Journal

My last post looked at bullet journaling as a new life tool. I have talked about the joy of writing things down on paper in previous posts and the enjoyment I get from creative journaling. Bullet journaling can be a hybrid allowing me to combine both of my passions in one notebook.

My last post looked at bullet journaling as a new life tool. I have talked about the joy of writing things down on paper in previous posts and the enjoyment I get from creative journaling. Bullet journaling can be a hybrid allowing me to combine both of my passions in one notebook.

Having said that, it is suitable for people who feel that art isn’t their forte too. A simple design or a printout courtesy of Pinterest can really help you in the early days until you work out what design you would like to use. A good place to start is with Boho Berry  as she has some great videos to watch. The original website is also good from the founder Ryder Carroll but personally, I find the system of symbols a little confusing. The joy of this kind of journaling is that you can make it fit your needs so if you are creative, you can paint some watercolours around your diary entries, but if you aren’t, then a list version will work equally as well.

Social Media

I enjoy looking at others journals and Facebook is a super place to start. My favourite group is Bullet Journal Junkies. Despite being US based and so the Etsy links don’t work for me (postage prices) and we don’t have a Michael’s (which sounds like my idea of stationary heaven!), the designs are great to look at and it’s nice to be part of a community of journal lovers.

I also belong to Bullet Journal Junkies UK and UK Bullet Journal Junkies which are also great for inspiration. If you put in Bullet Journal into the Facebook search box, you’ll find lots of choices to suit you – groups for beginners, professional people, artists and those groups where you share your spread for the week or month (your design).

Instagram is also a great place to search for inspiration. My favourite people to follow are:

Tiny Ray of Sunshine


Show me your Planner

Pretty Prints and Paper

Bumble Bees and Ladybirds

Alexandra Plans

Roz makes Plans

Stina Journals

Show me your Bullet Journal

Little Coffee Fox

Page Flutter

and there are many more to look through. I like these accounts as I find them inspirational and I enjoy looking at other’s artwork. I am constantly amazed at the level of detail that some people put into their journal and it inspires me to try different ideas.



You actually don’t need many tools in order to start but it’s fun to look around and buy some supplies that give you pleasure.  I have researched the various notebooks and the pro’s and con’s of each and I have bought myself a Scribbles That Matter dotted journal. You may wonder why dotted journals are the favourites of bullet journalists and the answer is that they offer some guidance without being too obtrusive.

Blank notebooks are clean and ready for your jottings but they can be difficult to keep neat and tidy. Some journal writers use squared paper but I find the squares too obvious. A happy medium for me is using a notebook with dotted paper. I love to put a few drops of essential oils on a small piece of kitchen towel and lie it in between the paper. This gives you a lovely surprise when you open up your journal and the smell is divine. I use Rosemary and Petitgrain oils as their scent really resonates with me but you can check out my other favourite oils in previous blog posts.

I love the Scribbles That Matter journal because the paper is so thick (100gms) and I can paint using my watercolours without any ink showing through on the other side, known as ghosting. The other journals of note are Moleskine Dotted Journals and Leuchtturm 1917  both of which come in lots of different colours and the reviews for these notebooks are great. The paper is thinner than the Scribbles That Matter so you may get a little ghosting but that will depend on the pens that you use.



I love trying different pens to see what I enjoy writing with. I have a selection of black writing pens:

Uniball Gel Impact – a broad pen which is nice to writing large amounts of journal entries.

Uniball Air – also broad nibbed and a good pen to write with.

Uniball Vision Elite – a medium roller ball.

PilotV Pen – a great disposable fountain pen but the erasable ink means that your writing with fade over time. Such a shame as I love writing with these pens and they come in lots of different colours.

And drawing pens for creating the diary boxes or drawing doodles. Both pens are filled with archival ink and waterproof so you can draw over your watercolours.

Pitt artist pens 

Sakura Pigma Micron 


Not everyone will use watercolours in their journal. Some may worry that it will make the pages buckle or the paint will show through the paper. I find that the Scribbles That Matter journal is perfect for this as the pages hold up to a generous amount of water and I like the slightly ‘lived-in’ look.

The paints I use are Kuretake Gansai Tambi  which are lovely paints and a great selection of colours (super price on Amazon too). I use the gold a lot in my journals as it has a lovely sheen to it.

There’s also the Winsor and Newton Cotman paints which are a great price too. You can mix and match these paints as the box allows you to buy half pans with colours you like, unlike the Kuretake set where the colours are set.

Give it a go

I appreciate that life is busy enough without creating your own journal, but this method of planning can really help you to slow down and take notice of the things around you that matter. Taking time out to create a page is a great way of making time for yourself, and the flexibility of the bullet journal allows you to make a planner that actually works for you.

In my next post, I will be looking at ideas for pages (or spreads) that you can try for yourself. Remember that making art is a process and you don’t have to show anyone your work. It’s taking time out for yourself that matters, not what the finished product looks like, so try it yourself and enjoy!







Three Life Tools for the Journey

My last post described my story and I wanted to follow it up with another looking at the tools that have got me through.  Before I was affected by sepsis, I was an active person running my own business and coming to terms with the post-sepsis fatigue has been quite challenging for me.

Creative Journaling

I have enjoyed painting for many years but lately, it has been difficult to find time whilst establishing my business. My enforced rest has given me an opportunity to revisit my love and start creating again.

Initially, I could only do a little at a time from my bed but as time went on, I found it useful to stand while I painted. This helped me to start getting upright again and move gently but it also gave me immense pleasure to create.

I started small with little Moleskine watercolour books where I used watercolours to paint shapes of different sizes and colours. I was never going to win any art prizes with my work but, in a similar vein to the plethora of adult colouring books on the market, I found it mindful and calming.

I enjoyed watching the watercolours blend together and create patterns and I enjoyed looking at them the next day as the images changed.

Painting is something that we can all do if we let go of our expectations of creating a piece of art. It’s the process of creating can therapeutic, the gathering of supplies together – my paints, brushes, pens – and letting ideas flow.

This led to creating my own planners, also known as Bullet Journaling.

Bullet Journaling

There are times when I really wish I lived in the States! Whenever I mention bullet journaling to friends over here, they look blankly at me.

On a very basic level, a bullet journal is a planner that you create yourself.  The original idea came from a product designer named Ryder Carroll in New York and you can see the original work here.

I have always loved buying planners and trying them out for size, but they never quite fit my needs, the monthly calendar is in the wrong place or there isn’t anywhere to write my goals where I can see them. As I’m not doing much at the moment, I can adapt the calendar to my needs with this system.  I create the spread according to whatever is going on at the time and I buy the planner that fits in with this. I place a few drops of essential oils onto a kitchen towel and lie it between the sheets of paper so that I have a lovely scent when I open my journal.

I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at others bullet journals too. Although the original design is beautiful in its simplicity, there are some amazingly creative versions out there and I feel inspired when I look at the work. My favourites are:

Little Coffee Fox

Boho Berry

Page Flutter

Christina 77 Star

Alexandra Plans

Tiny Ray of Sunshine

and they can all be found on Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.

I will be following this post up with one dedicated to bullet journaling for those planner-addicts who would like some more information.


I’ve always found an immense amount of pleasure in walking in nature. My goal during recovery was to make a trip to the local bluebell woods and I was thrilled to have made it in time to see the little blue flowers pop their head above ground. I am very lucky to live between two small wooded areas so I can choose which bluebell wood to go to. They both give me immense pleasure to walk through and enjoy the magic that is springtime.

The great thing about walking is that it really clears my head. Being outside in the fresh air surrounded by the wonders of nature is such an antidote to life. I used to go out very early in the morning with my dog Coco and walk for miles.  I would take the opportunity to catch up on my podcast episodes (Sprogcast ,The Cord and Dearest Doula ) interspersed with a little classical music.

Nowadays I take short walks with Coco and my family or I take a wander around town but these walks are just as good in a different way. I know that it will take time but that’s fine, I’ll go with it.

Onwards and Upwards

So that’s my story so far. I’ve found my inner strength during these weeks and I’ve reminded myself of the simple tools that are companions in my life no matter what happens.