the foamdori

WARNING: image heavy post (and WordPress has decided to place some pictures in whatever position it likes!) Please use these instructions to make your own “dori” style planner for personal use only and not for commercial use (i.e. do not sell for profit).

As most of the readers out there know, I use the bullet journal system in a cheap Piccadilly journal. It was relatively inexpensive – AUS$12 to the AUS$32 Moleksine, which, in my opinion, has fallen off the high quality wagon anyway, so you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference these days. (As a side note, thanks again for visiting my bullet journal system post. I still get an average of 50 views a day since I posted it in January!)

A few years ago, I was mesmerised by the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN for short) and went in search of stockists in Australia. There were a few vendors online (e.g. and Kinokuniya only stocked the refills, and the prices ranged from AUS$70-$110. I actually got to hold one of these damaged bad boys at Kinokuniya (it had a massive scratch mark across the front), and yes, I love the feel and smell of leather, and the craftspersonship was impeccable, but even when it was ‘damaged’ they were still selling it at full price (AUS$100 in 2012). I became disillusioned, and started looking at buying leather fabric and making my own version of it. Leather fabric is NOT cheap, and when you buy cheap, it’s CHEAP (and crap). Then I tried making it with different materials. The first one was just the recycled covers of old Moleskines, which ended up being too bulky and I thought, “I may as well be using a Moleksine!”. The second one was made of thick felt, and after nearly 2 months of use and being battered around in my bag, it started looking manky (pretty sure ‘manky’ is Aussie slang I’m using, right now), and it started to fall apart and pill at the edges. The colour also started to run after it had a brief encounter with an open water bottle in my bag. So I gave up!

Lately, however, I’ve reignited my obsession with MTN – I even joined a FB group! – and decided to experiment with more materials. There are online vendors who are making ‘fauxdori’ and selling them for a fraction of the price. Even so, I can’t afford AUS$50+ for, essentially, a piece of leather and some elastic – and yes, time and effort of these vendors to make them. I have a lot of respect for what you do, but the pragmatist in me just keeps reminding me of how simple it is to make. I’ve watched the YouTube videos of those who have made ‘fauxdori’ and they are a fantastic resource. But, as I was saying, this time around, I decided to make what I like to call the ‘foamdori’ (I’m sure someone has probably already made something similar and called it the same thing) and it cost me just under AUS$25.

photo 1

Below is a list of the materials I used with rough estimates of cost (in AUS$) and store location:

  • A4 size foam with adhesive backing (Riot Art and Craft stores) – $3.00
  • fat quarter spotted fabric (Big W) – $2.50
  • Sullivans 36 pack eyelets 5mm (Lincraft) – $6.25
  • black tube elastic (or hat elastic) (Coles) – $2.00
  • J. Burrows purple 3 pack notebooks (Officeworks) – $10.00

photo 2

Because this was, in fact, an experimental sample, I have no ‘how-to’ pictures to show you guys, just the finished product itself. Plus, it was a stinking, humid Brisbane day (32degC with 70% humidity), with no air-conditioning, and I’m pretty sure my work station was littered with various empty cold beverages. Hah. If you would like written instructions, comment below and I’ll post them up at a later date.

This is what it looks like inside with no notebooks:

photo 6

This is what it looks like with notebooks:

photo 4

I changed the threading configuration for the elastic. I know a lot of the videos I’ve watched use two different elastics – one for the insert and the other for the closing band. I used one for both. Basically, the threading comes out through the middle eyelet and closes the foamdori. It just means that once you’ve closed it, it actually also tightens the hold on the inserts inside. Once I figure out how to make videos, I’ll post up a quick demo.

This is the foamdori with two J. Burrows notebooks side by side:

photo 5

This is the bottom of the foamdori:

photo 3

Now, the real MTN uses rubber bands that you can purchase to hold more than one insert together. I had soooo much elastic left, I decided to cut out sections and tie them at the end. I kind of like how they turned out and it’s a nice embellishment to the finished product.

This is how it looks like when it’s closed:

photo 7

For the cover itself, I bascially stuck on the fat quarter to the adhesive foam and cut out, them measured where I wanted to place the 5 eyelets. Easy :) The only downside is that the product label for the adhesive foam was a b@#$h to peel off (see below next to elastic insert band), and it’s left a crappy mark on the inside of the back page. Also, I thought I wouldn’t like the fabric fraying so much, but it has grown on me. Just like the authentic MTN and fauxdori are meant to be imperfect, so is this little beauty.

photo 9


Other posts in the Decade Thirty Planning series: Bullet Journal System, Chronodex + Bullet Journal, Organisation Stations


Hello, bloggersphere, it’s been awhile. I’m endeavouring to write this piece in one hour before I start my mad run of errands, so apologies for the poor proofreading.

Firstly, an update:
I’m now employed. I went for an interview for my dream job the same day I received a job offer from another company I applied for last year. I wasn’t successful in the first round of offers for Company and, to be honest, I didn’t have a very pleasant interview experience due to reasons that were in my control and out of. I won’t know the outcome of Dream Job til the end of March, and at the time, Company was offering 9-day fortnights for a year contract. They have since taken back a lot of what they’d originally promised me and, unfortunately, because jobs are somewhat of a rarity in these parts, I still accepted it. I start tomorrow. I should really be more excited about this, but the circumstances around it have made it both bittersweet and annoyingly frustrating.

I had a conversation with BugLite the other night about permanence. Both of us have agreed that we’re ready for it, and we’ve been ready for it for a few years now. In more ways than one, when compared to our friends, we’re the last couple to really ‘settle down’.

Before BugLite came into the picture, I was content living my life a day at a time – different jobs, different uni degrees, different boys/men, different places to live. I never really called one place ‘home’, and I relished in the notion that I didn’t know what was going to happen to me the next day, month, or year, and I slept better at night without the sense of worry eclipsing my thoughts. I’ll never forget the words uttered by the last guy who dumped me, “There’s just something I don’t know about you. You’re reckless and selfish, and you don’t know where you’re going in life. I’m not comfortable with that.” My 22-year-old self retaliated with drunken nights and a few one-night stands, but in hindsight, I believe that I needed someone who would grow with me without judgement and not just reprimand me for not filling the social norms.

When I met BugLite, we were in the same place in life, and despite the somewhat long and tortuous road to relationshipdom, the last eight years have been filled with growth, and we’ve remained on par with each other. We still want the same things in life for our relationship and for our personal growth. We want our own place (rented or bought, just our own space), successful careers, a Staffy dog and some children. Somewhere in there, we’ll get around to getting married, too. We want something permanent in our lives.

I’m a firm believer that ‘patience is a virtue’, but lately, it’s being tested to its brink. Friends have said it’s just because of my biological clock, and though there may be some truth in that, I’ve experienced enough of life to not regret anything I’ve done or the path that I’ve taken. In some ways, I see friends now whose relationships are starting to fall apart, or going through their own self-realisations, and I mean no disrespect to them, but I don’t see why they should judge where I am in my own life. Time and people change, the challenge is how you deal with it. Everyone has the freedom of choice regardless of any external influences, at the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with those choices for the rest of your life. To me, that’s how I define happiness and success. My craving for permanence is just a barrier that needs to be worn down with resilience and optimism.


it’s in the bag!

One of my life goals is to live in a clutter-free and minimalist personal space. I know all the parents out there are probably laughing at me right now, but I figured that if I can keep my personal space minimal, there’s more room for the kiddies, right? :) So far, I’ve managed to minimise my daily/work organisation/planning to my bullet journal, after many failed attempts (not to mention $$++) on other organising systems, such as Filofaxes, PDAs, and the like. I used to carry around a massive handbag, which probably weighed half of my body weight, and over the last year or so I’ve managed to get it down to the bare minimum… well, with some added luxuries. Behold, my bag contents!


  1. Piccadilly bullet journal + randomness
  2. journal bought from Daiso (sometimes in the bag, sometimes not)
  3. business cards, or as my friends like to call it, “the western name card” after the traditional Japanese meiji cards haha
  4. Koh-I-Noor woodless colour pencils bought in Berlin 7 years ago for random art sketches in primary colours (love these pencils!)
  5. my makeshift pencil case – yes, it’s in a ziplock bag. Saves me from searching through it to find one item. There is a method to my madness!
  6. Kleenex
  7. Lucas Pawpaw ointment – I live by this stuff <3
  8. various drugs for headaches and allergies
  9. (L-R) hand sanitiser, perfume atomiser, chewing gum
  10. wallet
  11. Monster earphones, courtesy of my audiologist fiance. BEST earphones by far! Noise-cancelling at its finest :)

I tend to chop and change my bags every few weeks, but at the moment, I’m using a small-medium backpack (approx, 30cm x 30cm x 20cm) to carry these items around daily. I’m a very visual person, so when I find the urge/need, I will draw or sketch, or write, hence, so many writing implements. What I like about not having so many things to carry around is that it’s easier for me to choose those items I need for each occasion. For instance, if I’m going out with the ladies, I take items 6,7, 8,9,10 and 3 (you never know who’ll you meet!) and leave the rest at home.

I found this website the other day, and people share their bag contents. It’s so fascinating to see what everyone carries around and it definitely suits the occupations they have. I like the question, “What’s the most surprising thing you carry?“. I don’t think I have anything as amazing as ‘an 8-item, life-saving birth kit’, but I do get a few strange looks in the ladies’ restrooms when I take out my perfume atomiser. It looks like ‘a shiny purple sex toy‘ as one person described it. Haha!

What’s the most surprising thing you carry in your bag?