Notebook Review: Midori A5 Cotton & Light Paper Notebooks

Notebook Review: Midori A5 Cotton & Light Paper Notebooks

I have been collecting Midori MD notebooks for some time but I haven’t written a review about them. I got the 10th Anniversary Dark Brown Paper Cover (no longer available) and the A5 Cotton Notebook and a set of three Light Notebooks. I purchased my notebooks from my favorite local shop, Wonder Fair. But you can purchase them from JetPens.

Midori MD Light Notebook

On the cover of each book, the words “MD Paper” and “Made in Japan” are blind embossed into the cover halfway down, along the righthand side. The Cotton Notebook has the word “cotton” under the  word “paper”. The notebook includes a ribbon bookmark too.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

All Midori MD notebooks come with cardstock covers. Hence, the paper ($13) or clear plastic covers ($3.80) that they sell. Or, the luxury goat leather covers ($84).  Any A5 notebook cover would work though.

Inside the front of each book, there is a space for personal information. The Midori MDs don’t have  any storage pockets. This is where the covers come in handy as they add a flap front and back for storing miscellaneous papers while also adding additional support and protection.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the Midori MD Cotton notebook comes wrapped in glassine paper and has a small sheet of stickers to label and archive your notebook.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I like blank paper. I prefer not to be constricted by lines, or dots, or grids. Sometimes I want to draw and sometimes I want to write. So, blank paper is my preference. If I want lines, I put guides behind the paper to keep my lines straight. Or I go freeform. That said, the Midori MD books are available in other formats.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I tested the cotton paper notebooks, which I know a lot of artists like to draw and sketch on. I follow Fran Meneses who often sketches in one. She uses Copic markers and a gel pen and protects the following pages from any bleeding from the Copics with a sheet of cardstock.

The cotton paper is actually very translucent. But the paper doesn’t feather at all. There is show through, of course, but no bleed through with most tools I tested. I didn’t test any Copic (or other alcohol) markers since I had seen Fran’s results.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

The Cotton paper notebook has 88 sheets which is 176 pages though I feel I would really only use one side of the paper. It’s a warm ivory color with a bit of tooth which is good for drawing.  I do prefer paper with a little texture. It keeps me from writing or drawing too fast. It’s good for felt tip, rollerball and pencil too.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

I did a few close-up shots to show how clean the writing was. I guess, to me, it seems that it’s unusual for a paper to be thin and resistant to bleeding at the same time.

I have been stockpiling the A5 Cotton Notebooks because Midori has changed the dimensions of the Cotton Notebook line-up as of February of this year. As a result, the new size format has been slowly making its way to the US and Europe. The new sizes, are F0 size (180x140mm/7×5.5″), F2 size (240x190mm/9.5×7.4″) and an F3 variant (273x210mm/10.75×8.25″). According to the Midori MD web site, these sizes were selected because “the F stands for “figure” – this French standard is based on the golden ratio for portraits and other pictures”. I’m a bit skeptical about this new sizing and their logic as I have yet to find any other company using these measurements. Yes, there is lots of information around the golden ratio but nothing specifically linked to paper sizing at these dimensions. If you have more information about this, please leave a comment about it. In the meantime, I’ll continue to stockpile the more common A5 size.

Midori MD A5 Light Notebooks

Midori MD Light Notebook

The 3-pack of Light Paper notebooks were an unusual discovery. Each notebook contains 24 pages (48 sheets).

I had been recommended the paper as an alternative to Tomoe River. In the pen community, that’s pretty much all anyone has to say to get me to try something.

Midori MD Light Notebook

Interestingly enough, the Light paper is not as translucent as the Cotton paper yet it still has a bit of tooth to it. I used the plain paper in the past, which is quite smooth so this more texture-y paper was a pleasant surprise. (Which reminds me… One Book July AND World Watercolor Month is just days away!!!)

The next page can be seen a bit through the writing but its not as apparent as with the cotton paper.

Midori MD Light Notebook

I forgot to actually erase my eraser tests but the paper withstood pens and pencils with equal aplomb.  I erased after the photo and results were as expected. Graphite erases fine. Erasable pencils are okay and colored pencils really don’t erase.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook

In close-up, there is no feathering in the fountain pen writing. Again, with this soft, textured paper, I would have expected more squidge. Instead, all that is visible is the texture of the paper.

The small booklet formats of the Light Notebooks make it good for small projects or as add-in notebooks to a Traveler’s Notebook or other multi-notebook system, especially in this larger format where I feel the notebook would need protection.

I definitely like the Light paper. It’s worth seeking it out and trying it out. I wish it was available in the larger notebook format rather than the booklets but I’m willing to make it work for this unique paper.


I created a good deal of fervor with the announcement of the discontinuation of the A5-sized MD Cotton notebooks and the arrival of the new F-sized notebooks. As a result, I thought I’d provide a visual graphic to show the size difference between the A5 and A6 notebooks and the new F0 and F2 notebooks. There is only a 2mm difference in the A4 and F3 books so if you like the large sheet size, you will be lagely unaffected by the change.

Midori MD Cotton Notebook A5 A6 and F0 F2 size comparison

I hope this helps visualize the difference in the size and shape of the new notebooks. It’s only affecting the MD Cotton, not the regular line of MD notebooks.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Notebook Review: MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook (and Giveaway)

Notebook Review: MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook (and Giveaway)

MiGoals is most known for their diaries and journals but they also produce other products including their line of Get Shit Done notebooks. I got several of their A6 Get Shit Done notebooks ($4.77 USD) recently, not to be confused with the I Got Shit to Do notepads that I make.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

On the cover of most of the MiGoals notebooks is a lovely debossed foil stamped “Get Shit Done” lettering. The notebook I tested had the lettering small, in a tone-on-tone look which was subtle and not so in your face that I couldn’t carry this book to work.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

The cover is very heavyweight cardstock. Inside, is a slip sheet with inspirational info about MiGoals and the GSD (Get Shit Done) mission. It’s pretty charming and life-affirming. On the first page of the notebook is also an uplifting quote.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

On the next page of the book are tips for how to tackle your daily to do lists. This may be helpful if you don’t have a system in place already. I also included the flip side of the slip sheet and the next page of the notebook which is what all the subsequent pages look like.

The interior paper is 100gsm. There are 48 pages in each book and the paper is a warm white color. At the top of each page is a place to add the date and the first three lines are numbered one through three for your top three items. If you want to continue to number things you certainly could. At the end of each line is a dot that can be used to check off or mark when the task is completed or migrated to another page.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

I tested lots of different pens to see how the paper handled ink. The lines are pretty close together (about 5mm spacing)  so I didn’t push to super broad points.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

I went ahead and continued my writing samples on the back side which means you can see if there was any bleed through. No. That 100gsm paper is pretty thick and durable. There is no feathering either.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

For size clarity, I photographed the A6 next to a Field Notes for scale. I like the A6 size. While it’s probably not back pocket pocket pocketable, the A6 fits nicely into the pocket of a bag.

The nice thing with the MiGoals notebooks is that you can purchase these individually instead of in sets of three like many other pocket notebooks. The paper is good quality and the covers are heavier weight than a lot of books.

The Giveaway:

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

Thanks to MiGoals and Milligram, I have two Get Shit Done A6 Pocket Notebooks to giveaway. One is in an out-of-print color (bright blue with white lettering) and one is black-on-black. So, I  will pick two winners for this giveaway.

MiGoals Get Shit Done A6 Notebook

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and tell me what shit you need to get done and what color notebook you want. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the moneys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. All entries must be submitted on, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Thursday. Winners will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form (where it says “email address”) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not sell your email address to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 7 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

DISCLAIMER: Items included in this review were provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Robert Oster Dragon’s Night

Ink Review: Robert Oster Dragon’s Night

By Jessica Coles

Today’s post will be light on the words, heavy on photos.  Some inks just speak for themselves and this one absolutely shouts.

Among the plethora of new inks from Robert Oster are many beautiful colors including the new Dragon’s Night ink.  I received a sample from Pen Chalet where you can purchase a sample ($2.75 for 4mL) or a full bottle ($17 for 50mL)

Dragon’s Night is a deep bluish-purple with a subtle pinkish-coppery sheen and the flow is a bit on the wet side.

The pink in the sheen surprised me.

I love this shade of bluish-purple.

Dragon’s Night is very similar in hue to Lamy Crystal Azurite, but the color of the sheen is very different.

For those readers who can never have enough purple ink, this will be a must to add to your collection!

Disclaimer: All items in this review were purchased by me.  For more information, visit our About page.

Link Love: Archives, Lost & Found

Link Love: Archives, Lost & Found

Both Austin Kleon and Kottke (in reference to Thom Yorke of Radiohead) discuss audio archives this week. These recordings, both lost and found, represent different creative efforts. Adam Hacklander is interviewed on My Modern Met discussing his creative archives in the form of visual travel diaries and Thomas Thorspecken’s lost journal was returned in a post mentioned on Notebook Stories this week. Paper planners are mentioned in the Wall Street Journal as a trend. And planners represent yet another physical artifact of our lives. But we know all this already, don’t we? Go forth, create your own archives this week.




Eberhard Faber’s “Graphite Pencil Company” (via Contrapuntalism)

Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

Fountain Pen Review – Kaweco Frosted Sport

Review by Laura Cameron

I will admit that over the years I sort of overlooked the Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen because of aesthetics. I love my Liliput, but somehow I never got into the Kaweco Sport. However, with the release of the new Frosted Collection, I decided to give them a try. I went ahead and ordered a Kaweco Frosted Sport Blush Pithaya Fountain Pen (€19.63, approx. $22.04 before shipping) to play with.

The Frosted Sport collection is the latest crop of colors to come to the same great Sport line. In addition to Blush Pithaya, the collection includes Sweet Banana, Fine Lime, Natural Coconut and Soft Mandarin. It was so hard to choose a color because I kind of love them all!

The Sport is a lightweight, plastic/resin-bodied fountain pen that is a perfect pocket pen. The pen is lightweight (approximately 10g when loaded with a cartridge). Capped, the pen is a short 4 1/8″/10.5cm long and uncapped that length doesn’t change much. The cap is postable, and it is more comfortable for many people to write at that length, 5 1/4″/13cm.

I went ahead and photographed the Sport with my other pocket pens – the aforementioned Liliput and the Franklin Christoph Pocket 45 model.

One thing I especially like about the Sport is that the octagonal faceted cap design means that the pen doesn’t roll away from me! There’s also an option to add a clip which makes it easy to attach to a shirt pocket or a notebook.

One thing I enjoyed when playing with this Sport in particular is that I got a broad nib. I’m usually a fine girl, and occasionally I stray to a medium, but this is my first broad. It lays down a bit more ink than I usually like, but the nib itself writes beautifully and it was fun to try something different. (As a note: Kaweco has it’s own branded nibs that are manufactured by both Bock and Jowo.)

Overall, I would say that the Kaweco Sport is a fun little pen that’s perfect for pocket or purse use, and that makes a great starter pen for someone new to the hobby. Even a few years in, I’m still finding things I’ve overlooked!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

The Desk Set: Searching for the Perfect Tote

I don’t know if I’m the only pen person who is also a bagaholic or not but I am always on the hunt for “the perfect bag?” The perfect bag, like the perfect notebook or the perfect ink or pen seems ever-elusive and different for every person and every occasion.

When not not behind The Desk, I have an office job and I need to carry work-related items like papers, occasionally my laptop, notebooks, pens, maybe lunch, etc. back and forth. We have a casual office and I have a creative job so my requirements aren’t super stringent and I would like something well-made and durable. I’ve been schlepping things in a reusable grocery bag is not the most aesthetically appealing option, nor is it particularly durable.

Many folks wax poetic about the best bag for their purposes and land on a backpack, often large volume. Being a girl of petite frame, a large backpack often too large and, how do I put this without sounding shallow, not stylish enough for my overall goals. Is the “stylish” part specific to me or do other people struggle with finding bags that do “all the things” and don’t look heinous?

Previously, I’ve went through the requisite messenger bag phase but I think a tote is probably the best option for me now. I don’t commute by train or bus so I don’t need to secure valuables beyond the walk between the parking area and the office and any places I might stop along the way. However, I do want to be able to zip or close it to avoid potential inclement weather.

So, I’ve been on the hunt for a tote or tote-of-sorts to carry stuff back and forth to work. Did  I mention the part about aesthetically appealing? So, I thought I’d share some of me research here. Maybe someone else has been looking for a hold-all too.

Luxury Bags:

First, the posh bag options. These are the higher priced bags that are classic looking but good quality.

Longchamp Le Pliage Nylon

Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag L ($135)

The Longchamp Le Pliage is available in eight different colors and can be folded up and tucked into another bag as a back-up in other situations. The large size is probably best for major hauls but the medium ($115) would hold a small laptop and miscellaneous work detritus. The small size ($95) would look more like a day handbag. I worry the nylon might not be durable long-term and that it will be a bit floppy. However, if it’s good enough for Kate Middleton, it’s probably good enough from me.

Coach Charlie Carryall 40

Coach Charlie Carryall 40 ($225-$425)

I have been a fan of Coach for a long time. I have carried a large handbag for over eight years and love it with an unhealthy affection. While they are not considered a “luxury brand” like Chanel, Hérmes or Louis Vuitton, I have found that many of their flagship products have been durable and well-constructed. I stay away from the outlet store products knowing they are often produced specifically for the outlets and therefore use lower quality materials and techniques. If I do purchase outlet merchandise, I do it warily. That said, the Charlie Carryall looks solid and durable. There is a zip center pocket but doesn’t zip closed completely.

Kate Spade On Purpose North South Tote

Kate Spade On Purpose North South Leather Tote ($298)

This Kate Spade tote has all the details I like in a bag: clean lines, classic styling, and a little bling. Thankfully, the lining is a light blush pink or this bag would be a black hole. Delightfully, if I make a decision soon, the Kate Spade bag is on sale right now.

Minimalist Options:

These bags have a more deconstructed, modern sensibility.

PEg & Awl Waxed Canvas Tote

Peg & Awl Waxed Canvas Tote ($250)

There is a lot to love about the Peg & Awl Waxed Canvas Tote. It’s got a classic-yet-modern look. It’s made out of durable materials and it is HUGE. These are also some of the downsides for me. The bag is a bit too big for day-to-day use and while I love the aesthetic of the leather closure strap, I tend to have trouble actually latching it so it ends up flapping around most of the time. (If you can’t tell, I already own this one, in black.) I have ended up using it more often for travel as a carry-on bag or a weekender tote. It will last forever but it’s not my office bag.

Fjallraven Totepack No. 1

Fjällraven Totepack No. 1 ($110)

I have an earlier iteration of the Totepack No. 1 by Fjallraven and its a great tote that also doubles as a backpack in a pinch. It even has grab handles which helps shorter folks like myself be able to hand carry the bag rather than throw it over the shoulder on every occasion. It is particularly slim line and deep. Because of the depth, I have a tendency to lose things in the bottom. So while I love the bag overall and I love its convertible-ness, it’s slimness can work against it in becoming the black hole of totes. It’s canvas so to make it truly water resistant, it would need to be waxed but otherwise its fairly secure for everyday travel and commuting. This bag is 90% what I want. The blackhole issue and dialing up weather resistance and looks would make it THE BAG. Maybe switching to the Totepack No. 4 Wide would solve my problems?

Madewell Abroad Tote

Madewell Abroad Tote ($198)

Many people lust after the Madewell Transport Tote but the new Abroad Tote with it’s zip top holds more appeal to me. The finished edges, interior pocket and wider design seem more suited to a work tote.

Budget Options:

Since not everyone wants to spend hundreds on a bag, I also researched options that are easier on the budget.

Sole/Society Tote

SOLE/SOCIETY Lilyn Tote ($52.99)

The Sole/Society Lilyn Tote definitely takes its cues from the simple looks of Madewell but in a budget-friendly polyurethane material. (Once on Amazon, there are literally hundreds of other simple, budget-friendly totes. It’s a rabbit hole. You’ve been warned.)

Kipling Skyler

Kipling Skyler Tote ($49.99)

I always like Kipling bags. They are durable, fairly weather resistant and a great vegan option for those who request that.. If they are shiny metallic, so much the better. I found this particular tote on the TJMaxx site but there are often great options available directly at Kipling. The Art line of bags has some poissbilities… with its zippable corners so it could double as a day bag or tote?

Nine West Caden Tote

Nine West Caden Tote ($79.99)

The Caden Tote from Nine West features a zip top closure and the classic looks of the Coach bag mentioned earlier. The little charm adds just enough bling. The bag is made of polyurethane which keeps the price down. While it won’t be as long-lasting as leather, no animal was harmed to make it which is a plus. The color is bright and fresh which is fun. Unfortunately, if you prefer a more subtle color, this design isn’t offered in any other palette. Nine West does have other tote options.

Many of the higher end brands listed earlier have sold totes for years. As a result, there is a thriving resale market online and in local consignment shops. Ebay, Poshmark and other secondhand marketplaces are a great option for getting some of these bags secondhand. This is actually why some of the pricier bags are a better investment. They wear better and last longer. But be warned, many of these popular brands are often counterfeited so careful. If prices on new goods seem too good to be true, they probably are.

Given all these options, which bag would you choose?

DISCLAIMER: Some items in this post include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

Case Review: Kurochiku Accordion Card Case

Review by Tina Koyama

Conventional wallets don’t seem to meet my needs anymore. Like many people, I carry a lot more plastic than paper these days. Most wallet designs still offer plenty of space for cash while being relatively stingy with card slots. I was attracted to the design of the Kurochiku Accordion Card Case for having the opposite: an emphasis on the cards.

Available in eight adorable Japanese patterns, the Kurochiku is made of aluminum alloy on the outside and plastic inside. I took quite a while to make up my mind, but I finally chose the tenjiku botan (dahlia) pattern (it was hard to let the rabbits go, though). Smooth and very lightweight, it evokes a tiny, hard-shell suitcase that seems durable. About 3-by-4 inches, it fits comfortably in the palm of my hand.

Kurochiku Accordion Card Case front view

At less than an inch thick, it would fit easily in any bag pocket without much bulk. The latch at first seemed awkward and difficult to open because I was trying to push against the shallow ridge with a thumbnail. But all it requires is an easy rocking motion with the ball of the thumb. Now it feels like it could open too easily, but so far, it has remained secure.

Kurochiku Accordion Case Side latch

Inside, the “accordion” is thin and flexible. To function well, it needs to be thin, but I’m not sure how durable it is. I like how easy it is to remove and replace cards compared to digging into leather or other slots that are often too tight (but alternatively, if you are accustomed to cards staying secure while you dig, beware that the whole pile could fall out easily if you overturned the case).

Kurochiku case open, empty

Seven (not six, as it says in JetPens’ product description) slots offer generous space for credit and ATM cards, gift cards, coffee punch cards, coupons and other wallet detritus. Maybe even some of the folding kind of money. I don’t show them all in my photo, but since the product information says that the capacity is about 13 cards, I kept stuffing more cards in to see for myself. Twelve plastic cards fit comfortably; the 13th would fit, but when I closed it, the latch felt like it could release inadvertently. Ideal is about 10 cards, with remaining space for folded cash.

Kurochiku Accordion Card Case, open with cards

I’m not sure how long the accordion will last, but otherwise, it’s a cute and practical case that takes care of my plastic (and some paper) money needs well.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.