Day Trip to Birmingham for the UKPA Big Meet Planner Event

Sometimes super duper cool things happen to me. Like the time my best friend and I flew to Vegas for just dinner. Or the time I got to contribute some craft projects for a book... This time I was blessed with an invitation to attend the biggest planner event in the UK before I had even moved there. What an amazing experience! I can’t even begin to describe how great it was to be at the UK Planner Addict “Big Meet” in Birmingham! And after the meetup, was equally spectacular! I joined Lovey, who had come along to explore the rest of the city. Here’s an hourly, play by play of our first day trip, along with pictures:

5:30-Alarm goes off and I’m almost certain we’re going to miss the bus. If we miss the bus, we’ll miss the train. Inwardly panicking.

6:30-We made it on the bus and hoping we’re not late to the train station.

7:30- Train departs Picadilly station. We’re sitting in backward facing seats even though I booked forward-facing. Pretty sure that at this point Lovey and I are going to get motion sickness.

8:30-Almost time to get off and we’re happy neither of us are dizzy. We actually had a gorgeous ride with sweeping, countryside views! Wow!

9:30-After Yelping some breakfast restaurants in the area, turns out they’re all closed (even though website hours state otherwise) or not geo-tagged correctly. Finally we find a random place and have a full English breakfast with tea for £4. We’re terribly impressed since the food here tends to be a little pricey.
10:30-Lovey and I part ways. He heads back to the city center and I head to the direction of the event. It’s raining and we only have one umbrella. Of course!

11:30- All the ladies (me included) make their way into the venue and attempt to find our seats. Once settled we calmly sift through our sponsor bags. Haha! Wow! So much goodness!
12:30- Listened to a great keynote speech, by special guest and Kikki K. Founder, Kristina Karlsson. (I got my first, ring-bound planner from Kikki K .)
1:30- A time of shopping and eating yummy treats begins.  Also taking selfies with creative girls and UK planner royalty! And BONUS—Finding 3 other Americans there.
2:30- Walking back to meet Lovey and it's still raining. About half way there I realize that I’m walking uphill and my boots are super slippery and grip-less. Yikes!

3:30- Lovey and I start exploring Birmingham. The Library of Birmingham offers almost 360 degrees of city views! (Definitely my favorite.)

4:30- We have dinner at a charming pub by the canal, The Malt House. It’s a little pricey, so we split a sampler. Also my first time trying mushy peas. I didn’t realize they came with our order and I thought it was guacamole! Ha!

5:30- More walking and sightseeing.
6:30- Lovey is hungry again, so he gets his favorite, chips and curry. 

7:30- Board on the correct train after worrying whether or not we were on the right platform.

8:30- Four gentlemen get on with bags full of meat pies, Scotch eggs, and beer. They are loud, funny, and super upset that an old couple took their reserved seats. They discussed their frustration for at least 10 miles (after the couple got off at their stop). We were terribly amused by the whole thing, because like I said, they were FUN-NY!

9:30- On our way home on the bus. Standing room only.

10:20- Finally home! What a day!

Thanks for reading friends!

A Look at Didsbury

Every passing day, Manchester feels a little more like home...Sure, I still look the wrong way when I'm crossing the street, and I'm not 100% sure which way is north, but I can tell you where to get a really good, traditional English breakfast for cheap. I can also tell you where to catch the bus to go to town. Soon I'll be a real local! (Give me another month or two.) And no, I'm not picking up a British accent. Like ever. As beautiful as the accents are, I refuse to become that lady on that one Friends episode. Haha!

Now lets talk Didsbury, our little home town! I know this is probably going to sound crazy, but I miss this place already. When I go to the corner shop to grab a banana milkshake (currently obssessed), I think to myself, "Someday I won't be walking through here anymore..." And it makes me sad. Really sad. Am I losing my mind?! How can you miss something you're currently experiencing? Go figure!

Anywho, a few days ago I posted about our cozy little flat, and today I wanted to share snippets of our town. Maybe I'm biased but it's the cutest town in all the land! It's lined with beautiful, red-brick houses, trees, and uneven sidewalks trimmed with fresh-fallen leaves. There are stores, charity shops, and pubs/restaurants with the best names (Slug & Lettuce, Dog & Partridge, Wine & Wallop, etc.). And occasionally you'll stumble upon a cobblestone paved street--and puddles. You can always find a puddle!

Here are some pictures of Didsbury:
Overgrown red vines on buildings? Is there anything better?!
Our local library. (And yes, we have library cards! Hooray!)
Didsbury is on the small side and inevitably you begin to recognize people. But we also have City Centre, which feels like Manhattan, a few miles away. It's a good balance! You know what's funny? We've seen our friends walking around a handful of times too. Running into people you know on the way to your weekly banana milkshake is the best! It makes this place feel more like home...

Thanks for reading!

How I Document My Memories

Some document life by taking pictures, scrapbooking, and or journaling. Memory keeping is important to me too.  In fact, pocket letters were invented while attempting to document my months with my own version of Project Life (pocket scrapbooking system created by Becky Higgins). Personally, my memory documenting process has changed over the years. I've always taken pictures and journaled, but for a long time this blog (est. 2010) served the sole purpose of documenting my everyday life. I'm trying to get back to blogging by posting more regularly. However, I don't want to neglect journaling either.

Today I'm sharing the two ways I'm preserving my memories. The first is a journal I purchased at TJ Maxx before our move. It's a plain notebook with lined paper, but I've been using it to document major highlights of our time in England. I've also been documenting in my planner (aside from also using it to organise my weekly tasks). Each day I try to jot down what we've been up to.

Here's a peek:
Sometimes I write a little, other times a lot. I'm not too strict about it, and I'm not hard on myself if I forget to do a particular day (see below).
I'll try to share more layouts here, but if you'd like to follow my crafts on the daily, then add me on Instagram. My username is @janettelaneblog.

Do you document your daily life? What memory keeping system do you use? Let me know!

Come Tour Our Flat!

Hello friends! I'm SO EXCITED to share this blog post for many a reason! Mostly because it’s my first (of hopefully many) overseas entry! Can you believe we're here!? I have SO MUCH to tell and show you--Honestly, I hardly even know where to start. We’ve been in Manchester a little over a month, and I’m happy to say we’re adjusting well and LOVING it here. It’s such a great place with the perfect mix of “big city” (only 30 minutes away) and a “cozy quietness” that makes you want to whisper and tiptoe through some of the neighborhoods (especially where we’ve settled). It’s quite LOVELY! (P.S. Everyone says "lovely" here. Like... a lot.)

I really meant to document our journey from the start on this blog, but my laptop broke shortly after we arrived and I just got my replacement. I clearly have some catching up to do. (We’ve been sharing our adventures on our Instagram account, @jjinmanchester so please feel free to follow along there.) Okay, so lets get this post started! I’ll begin with our flat tour since many of you have requested pictures of the inside.

Boy! Did we luck out on this place! WOWSERS! Thanks be to God! Initially we were a little uneasy because it was the second place we viewed in person. Yes, second. We were so discouraged after the first place we visited (think tiny, cold basement with 6 inch slits for windows *shudder*). Lovey decided on our current place right on the spot after only being inside for about 5 minutes! Haha! He rarely jumps the gun like that, but I’m so glad he did. Truly the Lord was watching out for us, as you shall see!

Here are some pictures... I apologize beforehand for some of the angles. I only brought my 50mm lens and it's a little limiting at times.

Front view of the flat. (It's actually a large house converted to 6 separate units. A very common practice and investment for homeowners turned landlords.)

Lovey studying by our bay window. (I’ve always wanted a bay window!) 

 A commonplace sight--Lovey’s books stacked EVERYWHERE

 Hoping to add some more wall decor as time goes on! We’re on a tight budget so we haven’t decorated like we’d like to. It’s coming along though! 

 Pumpkin candle because we LOVE Fall! (There's really no "It's finally Fall!" frenzy here like there is in the US. Finding pumpkin stuff is proving difficult and limited to canned pumpkin puree in the American section of the larger grocery stores. Not even sure where we could buy a whole pumpkin now that I think of it. Hmm...)

 There’s always condensation on our windows. When we wake up they’re fogged up until about 11AM. 

Our kitchen is TINY and gives me anxiety if Lovey is in there with me while I'm cooking. Haha!

A lot of our furniture, appliances, and odds and ends were purchased from the previous tenant. What a nice gentlemen! He gave us a deal and these little canisters! 

(Rear entrance) These vines grow on EVERYTHING. It's lovely to see the green and red contrast throughout!

Probably a magpie feather. They're everywhere!

Hopefully this has given you an idea on why and how much we love it here! Miss you all and thanks so much for reading!

Planner Society Layouts

Being part of the Planner Society Kit Design Team has been so great! Every month I'm floored by Christy Tomlinson's creativity, talent, and style. This time around I decided to feature all my projects here since it's been months since I've posted. Usually I do a YouTube video on my channel, The Janette Lane, featuring this monthly planner subscription kit. However, I decided to switch things up a bit!

You can see two such videos here:
Easy Planner Layout Featuring the Planner Society Kit
Midori Layout Featuring the Planner Society Kit

Don't you love how summery and feminine this month's kit is? It makes me want to wear a dress and curl my hair, and that's saying A LOT, friends! Because for this girl, dresses are for weddings and for days when I've run out of clean clothes! (Am I right?!)

Thanks for reading!


The Plannery Society Kit:
Midori Inserts:

*Contains affiliate links

How is it March Already?

The past few weeks have been sort of a blur. I'm not even sure how it's March already! #waitwhat? Time is flying by so fast it seems. Is it going by quickly for you too? Anywho... Just wanted to share a few images from the past few weeks. Planners. The Planner Society Kit. Lovey in the mountains (He's in his element when he's there...). A picture of the barn where I'll be hosting my first, full-day Pocket Letters™ workshop in May (JOIN ME!).

Also if you're interested in seeing what I made last week, watch this video below. It's a Show & Tell style video where I share a few projects I've been working on. Check it out friends!

What have you guys been up to? Anything fun? Let me know!

Pocket Letters Makeshop

EARLY BIRD PRICING of $11 EXTENDED until 03/15/2016!
Regular price $16.50.

COME MAKE WITH US! Join Janette Lane & Angela Wonderland in ANAHEIM, CA on SATURDAY, APRIL 9th, 2016 (1-4pm) for a little pocket mail and pampering!


This is not a workshop, but a "makeshop"! There will be tables and chairs available for us to craft and get a little pampering too! So dress comfortably and be ready to craft, mingle, and work on your own pocket letters! Yup! Just bring your supplies from home and lets MAKE together!

-We'll have Sizzix die cutting machines for you to use.
-Goody bags!
-Our own space to craft and make friends for the afternoon
-Pocket Letter™ Products and Mary Kay items for sale.

*Once your purchase is made, your ticket, along with the address and other details will be emailed to you.


5 Tips for a Successful Pocket Letter Swap

As owner of the Pocket Letter Pals™ Network and the Pocket Letter Pals™ Facebook group, I’ve had the opportunity to mediate a lot of failed swaps. Like. Heaps and heaps!  (I also want to take the opportunity to thank my Admins who also mediate and try to resolve these issues even moreso! Thank you!) It’s a fact, there are people who flake. They arrange swaps and then don’t follow through. It happens and I’m really sorry about it. I wish it didn’t happen, but it does.  Now I know it’s hard to believe, but the majority of the time, it’s not intentional. There are snail mail scam artists, but those make up a small percentage of failed swaps. People usually flake for one of the following reasons:

1. Overwhelmed with the amount of swaps they’ve taken on.
2.  Lack of communication.
3. Unexpected emergency.
4. Lost their penpal’s contact information (usually because of 1).
5. Lack of funds.

I can’t guarantee a 100% foolproof method for successful swaps, but I can share 5 HELPFUL TIPS for a smoother swapping experience!

I’ve run into many situations where one swap partner forgot to write down who they were swapping with and where they arranged the swap. It can get overwhelming especially if you’re swapping with multiple people at one time and reaching out across platforms. Some swap only on my network, others swap on Instagram… Regardless, WRITE IT DOWN. Get names and email address.  Better yet, get my Pocket Letters™ TrackerPrintable! It’ll help you organize all the details of your swap.

It’s important to COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. You need to be willing to discuss details of your pocket mail swap so that everyone is on the same page. Here’s some questions to ask: Will this be a one-time swap? Will there be a deadline?  Will your letter have goodies? Will there be a theme? When will the “send-by” deadline be? Use the FREE POCKET LETTER COMMUNICATION GUIDE (click link to download) to make your swap go smoothly, and if there’s something you’re concerned about, like allergies, please mention it to your Pal. Once communication breaks down, it’s a good indicator of what’s to come—a bad swap. Also remember to be open and flexible to themes, styles, and ideas. There are some who have used the POCKET LETTER COMMUNICATION GUIDE as a “LET ME COMMUNICATE MY DEMANDS” GUIDE. Being communicative does't mean you have to be mean.  Be cool guys! Be cool!

Sometimes it’s best to do a little research! I’m not talking about full on Facebook, social media-stalking. I’m talking about searching through profile and group history for swap confirmation!  If you’re on the Pocket Letter Pals™ network, go to your potential Pal’s page and look at their profile. Are there messages from past swap partners thanking them for their fulfilled swaps? Are there pictures of their creations (both incoming and outgoing letters)? The same goes for the Pocket Letter Pals™ Facebook group.  Search the group history by putting your partner’s name in the Search box. Are others posting that they’ve received their snail mail? Are they active group participants? Are they arranging too many swaps? (This can be a RED flag!) These searches can be so telling!

I want to say that half of late swaps are due to delivery services. So much can go wrong with your letter in transit (insufficient postage,  s l o w  service, illegible handwritten address, and inclement weather) I’m serious. Sending something via mail can be risky business. I’ve had a few letters get mangled in sorting machines only to get the pieces returned to me in a sandwich bag. It happens. So just keep that in mind. Also remember that LIFE HAPPENS. People get sick. Sometimes they even forget about a deadline without any sort of malicious intent. Some people are naturally forgetful. Like ME!  If your partner communicates a setback (within reason), then just wait it out. Be patient. It will most likely work out!

This option does not work with international mail, but you can definitely get tracking information and confirmation for domestic deliveries. This helps for multiple reasons. Mainly, if someone reports a member for a failed swap, they can prove it by showing that a letter was sent and delivered. A lot of times the person reported will say that they never received anything. Tracking helps clear up any confusion quickly!

I’ve had my share of failed swap experiences. Trust me. However, the good experiences BY FAR outweigh the bad ones! 

I hope these tips were helpful! You can always share your tips too! And also please don’t forget to check out my Pocket Letters™ Tracker! It helps! Plus when you make your purchase, the file is yours to keep and print (as many copies as you need)!

Thanks for reading Pals! Until next time!