It’s been nearly two years since I made my happiness junk journal, Sunny. While it’s not full yet, it seems like the perfect time to discuss how I use this journal, and to share the things I’ve learned in the process.

Sunny has been a great place to collect happy memories. I use the little tags and journaling spots for short items, like a joke my nephew told me or when I saw a fox in our yard. Full pages get longer stories with all the details that made the moment I’m recording special. The journal is also a great place to keep paper memorabilia like birthday cards, concert programs, and thank you notes.

The butterflies on the right are the cover of a birthday card I received.

From time to time, I pull it out and read randomly, being reminded of all the happy and fortunate things that have happened in the last two years, many of which I have forgotten about already. There have been plenty of difficulties and challenges as well, so it’s nice to remember that even in the hard times, good things happen, too. I always come away from this journal smiling.

Sunny is the first and only junk journal I’ve ever made. While I’m mostly happy with the book, using it has shown me what I want to keep in mind for the next journal I make (which is currently under way.)

Cover of the new journal I making. I used a quilt block made from scrap fabrics.

Things to remember when making a junk journal:

Weight matters. I used a mix of papers and then didn’t think too carefully about it as I added pockets to pages. As a result, some of my pages are in danger of tearing out. Going forward, I will only use light papers for writing on and save the sturdier pages for adding pockets and other heavy items.

Also, heavy things fall out if your pockets aren’t big enough.

Where you put decorations matters. Hard or thick embellishments on the back of writing paper makes a bumpy surface and messy writing. When I glue things together now, I think about where I will be writing. Heavy embellishments work better on pockets that hold writing papers than on the back of those papers.

If you put too much stuff in at the start, it can be hard to find room for things later. Because I was following Kate Mower’s YouTube videos , I did all my page building before I bound the journal. At the time, I liked the idea of working this way. You can avoid “alligator mouth”, the gaping that can happen as a journal fills up. However, I didn’t allow for the fact that I would want to add items to the book after it was bound. From now on, I will leave myself more blank space to work with.

Be careful when decorating the binding. This is something I did right by accident and am grateful about. I added a cluster of beads as a dangle to my journal’s spine. I’ve since seen videos that warn you to make sure any spine dangles can be flipped out of the way so the book lays flat when open. Fortunately, mine does that beautifully.

A book spine dangle that is easy to get out of the way.

Don’t quit because you’ve fallen behind. I sometimes go for weeks without thinking to put anything in my journal (part of the reason it isn’t full yet). When I do think of it, I feel overwhelmed by all the different things I want to add. Instead of putting each one in separately, I’ll take a page or two and just list all the recent happy moments I can think of. Once this is done, I can go back to more detailed recording.

An example of a list page I used to catch up when I was feeling behind.

Whether you make your own journal or use a blank book, I recommend keeping a journal of happy moments. It can be a sunny place even on a gray day.

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