I haven’t had that reaction to many things in the last few years, but I was so excited to receive this Botanical Gardens Happy Planner by Me and My Big Ideas that I ordered a Peony before it had even arrived.
Something about the thickness of it in all those glorious pictures on Instagram and Facebook made my mouth water. I love stuffing my planners, but even my Malden can’t cope with the sheer volume of paper I want to shove in it.
The funny thing is, the Happy Planner came up on my radar last year but I was still stuck in Filofax mentality back then and I couldn’t bring myself to actually buy one. I’d downsized from my Metropol because A5 was just too heavy for me to handle (and I couldn’t bend a Filofax back on itself without ruining the whole damned planner). I was happy in my personal-sized Filofaxes for a while, but I was starting to feel like there was no room to breathe, and every attempt to design my own inserts to make better use of the space was a total flop.
They’re so pretty is the thing. Right from the front cover to the back and all the way through, the Happy Planners are designed so you can use them without having to worry about decorating if you don’t like it.
Unlike standard Filofax inserts (and even most of the ones you can buy on Etsy or design for yourself), the “blank” pages of the MAMBI really make me happy just looking at them. I’d started to feel like the inserts for my Filofax were downright ugly if I didn’t slap some washi on them, especially with staring at them day in and day out. By comparison, I’ll be able to decorate the Happy Planners if I want and when I have the energy, or just stick with the default spreads if I’m having an off-week. I won’t feel pressured to decorate because they already look so darned good.
I did worry that I wouldn’t get on with the vertical layout, mostly because I can’t write straight without lines to follow. I did try stamping with the cute task list stamps I got in The Planner Society March kit, but I can’t get the right leverage while sitting down. They turned out fuzzy and splotchy, as stamps usually do for me no matter the quality, so I covered them up with stickers and decided to rely on the box lines as guides instead. (So far, it’s not turning out so bad.)
My washi collection is growing, too, so I can always add a few strips to create lines to write on if I really need to.
There’s plenty of space on each page, especially for someone who doesn’t actually have a lot going on in her life. You can fit a surprising amount in them, especially if you’re used to the personal-sized Filofax style of planner.
One thing I don’t like about either of these Happy Planners is that the Month on Two Page spread starts on Sundays instead of Mondays.
To make matters more confounding, the weekly spreads start on Mondays instead of Sundays. I already screwed up planning on one of the month spreads in the Peony and had to move the date stickers because I’m so accustomed to starting on Monday. I’m going to have to be careful with that in future.
I’m also not very keen on the plastic rings that came with the Peony. They were dirty, and they don’t feel as smooth when turning the pages as the gold metallic rings in the Botanical Gardens do.
I’ve added tabs from a couple of extension packs to start in March instead of July. I had decided to swap the Peony out onto gold metallic expander rings, and then use the pink plastic rings for storing old inserts, but the rings turned out to be absolutely huge. They feel much more plastic than their smaller cousins, too, so I decided to leave the Peony on the pink. (They’re growing on me anyway.)
The pages are lovely, thick and smooth. I haven’t tried writing on them with a fountain pen and probably won’t, but I don’t imagine many pens will bleed through and it’s a joy to write on. My Sakura Micron Pigma pens certainly write well in it, with barely any shadowing. (I’ve tried the 05, 03, and 02 so far.)
The bottom line, though, is that both of these planners are just so pretty. I felt like I was on an adventure with every turn of the page. There was always something new and beautiful to look at.
They’re an absolute joy to use, too — though the pages do feel a little stiff, as if they catch on the rings when you turn them, and sometimes the bottom or top of the page comes loose. (I also ripped a bit off, but that’s my fault: don’t try taking pages out unless your planner is absolutely flat. My duvet got in the way because I’d propped the planner up and tried taking a page out. Oops?) The pages are easy enough to pop back in, though.
Speaking of the rings: before the Botanical Gardens arrived, I’d planned on buying expander rings for it because I thought the planners would start out a bit too thin for my taste. That’s so not true. They’ve got to be an inch and a half thick right out of the box, if not more — and that’s before I added the extension packs.
I can’t stop looking at them.
Even the back covers are pretty!