Archive of ‘feature’ category

Pens for Notebook Testing

review pens

All this week, I’ll be publishing reviews of an assortment of notebooks. I wanted to share all the pens I used in the writing tests. I tried to use a wide variety of pens from gel, ballpoint, rollerball, fountain and pencils.

They were all oddly color coordinated too so I thought they were photo worthy. What pens do you use to test out your new notebooks? Do you do writing samples on the first page, last page or just grab a pen and start writing and see what happens?

(Do you recognize all the pens in the photo?)

Top 5: Pens Under $30

top5 pens under $30

It might seem like a big jump between the $5 and under pens to a pen that costs upwards of $30, but it really opens the options for materials other than plastic and introduces some refill and filling mechanisms that allow for longer-term cost effectiveness.

Rollerball:

Retro 51 Tornado Classic Lacquers start at $21. There are lots of colors to choose from and special body designs are available seasonally for added interest and collectibility. I would recommend swapping out the stock rollerball refill with a slightly finer option. I like the Schmidt P8126 refill instead as its not as heavy or dark especially in smaller pocket notebooks. Even my husband, who loves bold lines prefers the Schmidt P8126 refill in his Retro 51.

Ballpoint:

The Fisher Space Pen ($20) is often recommended for folks looking for the perfect EDC pen. With the pressurized ballpoint ink, it should write in any weather, at any angle. I love the classic good looks and range of color options.

(Runner-Up: The Parker Jotter. The Jotter is a classic design that been in production for more than 60 years. Modern models feel a little flimsier than the vintage models but its a beautiful pen. If you need a ballpoint on your desk, this is a good option. Its about $10 for a plastic body edition and about $20 for the stainless steel models.)

Fountain Pen:

This is the hardest category. I have a personal preference here but I know its not a pen that might please most people. I also have a prejudice against one pen because of the way in which I write though I know its a great sub-$30 option. So… that said, here’s my recommendation for a good starter fountain pen beyond the disposable options in the sub-$5 category.

rp_kaweco-skyline-1.jpg

The Kaweco Classic Sport (and ICE Sport, both start at about $23.50) is my favorite entry level fountain pen. I know a lot of people will disagree with me because its small, plastic and can only use standard short European cartridges. Alternately, its totally pocketable and has classic good looks in its favor. The clip is optional which adds to the cost but is not necessary. I have over half a dozen Sport models and every one has a good nib that works well from EF, F and M nibs. I do find the M nibs dry out and need to be primed more often but I’d buy another Kaweco Sport in a heartbeat if it was in a color I liked.  I’m not inclined to say that with my runners-up. The runners-up are good pens but I don’t find myself continually reaching for them once I “graduated” to more expensive pens. But I still carry at least one Kaweco Sport next to my high priced pens.

(Runners-up: Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari. Like I said, this is a challenging category. For sheer value, a full sized Pilot Metropolitan in a metal body for under $20 is a great value. Lamy nibs are great quality and easy to swap out so that a first pen purchase can be a success and lead to a lifetime of fountain pen.)

Multi-Pens:

I love multi-pens for the option of carrying several colors at one time. I’ve tried just about every brand of customizable multi-pen and my favorite have swiftly become the Pentel i+ 3 model. The pen allows for an assortment of refill types from the Sliccie gel refills to the Vicuna and Energel refills. While I thought I’d miss the silicone grip featured on other brands, I find the Pentel i+ easier to slide in and out of pockets and pen loops without it so it gets chosen more often than others.  Fully customized for about $10.

(You might notice that there are only four categories in this Top 5 but there are actually more than five pens recommended. Let’s just say, I’m a designer by trade and not so “mathy”.)

Black Erasers vs. Black Pencils

Black Erasers

You know you’re a pencil nerd when you think to yourself, “How well do black erasers perform?” And then you think, “I’ll test them with all BLACK pencils!” Yep, that’s how I think.

Black Erasers

So, which erasers did I put into my black eraser head-to-head? The classic Papermate Black Pearl (2-pack for $2.39), the Uni Boxy ($1.40 each) and the Pentel Ain hi-polymer (2-pack for $2). And the pencils? A Palomino Blackwing ($21.95/dozen), General’s Layout Extra Back ($5.40/dozen), and a Mirado Black Warrior ($2.99/dozen).

Black Erasers

Let the scribbling begin!

Black Erasers

And then I started to erase. I left the eraser dust in the photo because it was interesting to see how each eraser dust was different. The Black Pearl is the least crumbly and the Pentel Ain was the most crumbly with lots of small bits. The Uni Boxy was crumbly but the pieces were bigger than the Ain.

Black Erasers

Once the eraser dust is cleared away, the results were quite varied. The Ain worked great with the Mirado Black Warrior but was not as successful with the General’s Layout. The Palomino lays down such dark soft lines that none of the erasers did particularly well with the wide swaths of erasing. And the Black Pearl wasn’t a super performer with all the pencil tested here but its the least messy and easy to find at local US big box stores.

in the end, the black erasers are nice to look at and I love the “worry stone” feel of the Black Pearl but if what you really want is clean, complete erasing you want a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. It really is the premium eraser.

Dux Varibel Brass Sharpener with Leather Case

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I was very excited to find CW Pencil Enterprises and to see that they stocked the Dux Varibel brass sharpener in the leather case ($22). It can be dialed in to three different sharpnesses depending on the type of lead. The #1 position is for soft pencils and colored pencils, #2 is used for standard graphite pencils (“#2 for #2 pencils!”) and #3 for the sharpest point for harder leads or pencil weaponry.

(Pictured above is Mirado Black Warrior pencils sharpened with #3, #2 and #1 settings from top to bottom)

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The sharpener blade is sharp and fits standard round, hex and triangular pencils. The leather carrying sleeve just makes it awesome.

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The point is still not as sharp as a Classroom Friendly sharpener or my old  Boston hand crank sharpener but for a portable pocket sharpener, the quality of the points is good and I didn’t have any breaking issues while sharpening.

If you are a pencil enthusiast or know someone who likes a fine tool, you might want to pick one of these up.

Top 5: Pens Under $5

top5pens5

Unlike the lists that Brad at Pen Addict does where pens are sorted into rollerball, fountain, etc., I’m grouping my Top Five lists by price point. Obviously, prices may vary slightly depending on your location but this is based on average US dollar prices.

This list is in no particular order, just the five best under-$5 pens in my opinion. The pen equivalents of “gateway drugs”.

Platinume Preppy EF 0.2 fountain Pen

The Budget Fountain Pen: Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen in F or EF

If you want to get in to fountain pens but don’t know where to start or even if you’ll enjoy them, this is a good place to start. While they are not the prettiest pens at the prom, for $5 or less, you can at least try out what its like to write with a fountain pen. They are pretty reliable although they can be a little scratchy. Did you hear me? They can be a little scratchy! So don’t base all fountain pens on these because they are $5 not $50. Over $25, I get guarantee you a smooth writing experience with a fountain pen but start here. See if you like the light touch needed to write with a fountain pen using a $5 pen before advancing to something more expensive. And once you graduate to a more expensive tool, you can use the Preppy to learn how to nib tune.

$3.95 for F, $4.98 for EF (via Goulet Pens)

The Gel Pen: Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Ink Pen (0.28, 0.38 or 0.5). The UM-138 RT in 0.38mm, the RT1 and the UM-100 capped line are all equally good)

This is the measure for all other gel ink pens. This category is very competitive so its tough to pick THE BEST but the reliability and smoothness of the Signo line sets the bar pretty high. Most of these pens are easy to disassemble and use the refill in other pens since they are largely Pilot G2 compatible-sized.

$1.65 – $2.50 depending on model (via Jet Pens)

Runners up: Zebra Sarasa Clip, Pilot G2, and Pilot Juice. These are all excellent gel ink pens available in an array of colors and tip sizes. Whether you prefer a bold black line or a dainty sakura cherry blossom pink hairline, any of these options have got you covered.

Pilot Precise V5 tip

The Rollerball: Pilot V5 Precise Rollerball This is the pen that introduced me to alternatives to a Bic Stic. Still a good option for a quick.

These retail for about $20/dozen or $10/5-pack. Available in seven colors, retractable or refills for retractable (looks like a G2 compatible refill but will verify). Since they are available in most US big box and office supply stores, this is a great gateway pen. Like the Pilot G-2, if you haven’t tried a pen not swiped from a pharmaceutical rep or your office supply cupboard, start here.

(Runner-up: The Morning Glory Mach 3 0.38mm. The Mach 3 is not as easy to find as a the Pilot V5 Precise but is as good or better and available in a wider variety of ink colors)

The Ballpoint: Uni-Ball Jetstream

Generally speaking, I avoid ballpoint pens. As a lefty, they smear, smudge and perform intermittently for me. So for me to recommend any ballpoint pen at all is fairly high praise. I recommend the Uni-Ball Jetstream to meet all your ball point pen needs. If you’re shopping in a office supply big box in the US, try the 0.7mm or smaller. If you’re willing to shop online, then I really like the 0.5mm available at Jet Pens in a variety of colors but my favorite is still the green grey model I bought in Hong Kong. Again, this is a pen that is widely available but I recommend the smaller tip sizes. The larger ones are often gloppy. The 0.5mm are really the sweet spot especially if you’re writing in a small book like a Field Notes or a planner.

Uni-Ball Jetstream pens are widely available in local shops and online in a variety of configurations starting at about $2.50.

Sharpie Pen

The Felt Tip: The Sharpie Pen.

Honestly, a year ago, I would never have said this. I really like the Sharpie Pen. I thought I was a tried-and-true supporter of the Marvy Le Pen for my felt tip pen needs but I’ve embraced the Sharpie Pen as an excellent option in this category. While not as diverse in color options as the Le Pen, the Sharpie Pen is readily available in most US big box and office supply stores making them a good option in a hurry. I had a couple experiences with the Sharpie pen where is bled and feathered but I think it might have been a Moleskine book to blame and not the pen. Since then, I have come to appreciate the versatility and availability of the Sharpie Pen. Its more water resistant than Le Pen and the tip does not degrade as quickly.

Individual pens are sold from about $2 each and are available in blister packs and boxes in larger quantities and color options.

Ink Review: Kaweco Summer Purple

Kaweco Summer Purple Ink

Kaweco Summer Purple is one of my absolute favorite ink colors. It’s a dark, muted, complex, plum-y purple. More eggplant purple really. When watered down, it reminds me of lilac blossoms. At full-strength, its a subtle, sophisticated purple-black. The closest color comparison I could make is the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa. However, with the Kaweco Summer Purple, there’s no concern about the iron gall and potential damage to your pens.

Summer Purple doesn’t have a ton of shading but with wider nibs, you get a little color variation. You may decide this is a good thing or not. When writing notes and project planning, I’m less inclined to want a lot of shading as it can affect overall readability. But a little bit of shading can be nice. I think Summer Purple hits a pleasing balance between feeling too flat and being too shading-y for everyday use.

Kaweco Summer Purple is a color that is not too fussy but still adds a little pizazz to your writing. If you’re just dipping inky toes into colors beyond blue, black or blue-black, Summer Purple is a good option.

Kaweco Summer Purple Comparison

I think the closest comparable inks are Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Private Reserve Ebony Purple. J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune, Noodler’s Purple Heart and Diamine Grape are all a little bit more reddish purple — less violet, more true purples. If you like your purples with more red, than I recommend these instead.

Isn’t it amazing how much variation exists in ink colors? From subtle to shocking differences at every hue in the rainbow. This is why I love inks!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Kaweco Midnight Blue

Kaweco Midnight Blue ink

Kaweco Midnight Blue is one of the blue-blackiest blue-blacks I’ve ever used. At first glance, it appears to be nothing special since its a dark blue black with little-to-no pizazz. But on second glance, this is a workhorse ink. Its not the hot, new color or the “in” ink for 2015. Its a classic. It’s trend proof. Its a beautiful alternative to black ink or a plain blue. Its deep, dark and true to its purpose.

Even on Rhodia paper, Midnight Blue dries pretty quickly. The longer I used it, the more I warmed to this ink. Its like a good comfortable cardigan. It might not be the flashiest thing in your ink closet but I suspect you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again because it works well and in lots of situations.

Kaweco Midnight Blue Ink Comparison

I used to think that Lamy Blue-Black was my go-to blue black but when I see it side-by-side with Kaweco Midnight Blue, I have to say I prefer the bluer hue of the Midnight Blue ink over Lamy’s more violet undertones.

Kaweco Blue Black is quickly moving into my favorite blue-black and, with its reasonable price (approx. $17.50 for a 30ml bottle), it might just stay there.

My only gripe is the funky label wrap on the bottle. No matter how many ways I try to remove the wrap sticker, I end up with unsightly label residue or weird bits. I keep ink bottles for a long time and I like to keep my favorites on display but the unslightly label shards mean the Kaweco inks are going to be kept out of sight until I find a good method for removing the labels. Which is kind of sad because I like the shape of the Kaweco bottles a good deal.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Well-Appointed Desks Must Have Music

This morning NPR announced the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest based on their successful series of performances hosted at the desk of NPR All Song’s Considered host Bob Boilen.For the contest, musicians were asked to submit a video performing a song in front of a desk. Entries included:

desks dragged into nature, onto hilltops, into and around oceans, through offices and kitchens, classrooms and science labs.

What makes a desk a great workspace? Music. And how better to celebrate that than with a few Tiny Desk Concert performances including the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest, Fantastic Negrito.

You may now dance at your desk.

All the Pencil-Related Things

Sometimes, the stars align and my in-box is full of tips related to one specific topic. This week, it seemed to be all things pencIl-related. So, I thought I’d share my finds.

marshmallow pencil

This darling little pencil twig topped with a big pink eraser “mashmallow”. Perfect for fireside doodles. $13.99 from Animi Causa.

pencil socks yarn kit by Yarn Enabler

Then I found this beautiful hand dyed yarn from Yarn Enabler on Etsy that will stripe as you knit to make these awesome pencil socks. Yellow pencil stitch markers are also available as part of the kit. Yarn kit with stitch markers are $30.69US.

pencil socks yarn kit by Yarn Enabler

Little Red Riding Children's book

And my last pencil-related find this week is a darling little children’s book called Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet about “a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000).” $12.75 on Amazon.

Social Preparedness Kits from Egg Press

social preparedness kit

The Social Preparedness Kit from Egg Press is a new collection of tools and materials to make keeping in touch, postally-speaking, an easy and good-looking option. The site will be selling products that span the range from canvas pouches to contain your correspondence to paper goods like letterpress-printed Write-On-Velopes  (a foldable letter sheet that doubles as an envelope) and card sets.

Products will be available for sale soon so check back on their shop or on their blog to find out when they will be officially released.

I love the document-sized pouches and the Write-On-Velopes.I can’t wait until they are available for purchase.

I hope the Social Preparedness Kit product line is successful for Egg Press because I get lots of questions about where to buy good and interesting stationery sets beyond notecards so maybe SPK will expand to letter sets soon!

SPK from Egg Press

Giveaway: Letter-Centric Rubber Stamps from The Well-Appointed Desk

Letter Enclosed Stamp

In honor of the start of A Month of Letters and InCoWriMo, I’d like to giveaway a set of rubber stamps to one lucky letter-writing reader.

Good Mail Rubber Stamp

The winner will receive one “Letter Enclosed” stamp and one “Good Mail” stamp. Winner can choose any of the “Good Mail” designs currently available. Stamps are available in handle or art block style as well (as inventory allows).

Good Mail Rubber Stamp #2

Just leave a comment below and let me know if this your first year participating in the February letter-writing activities.

handles-1


Contest has ended.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, Feb 5, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. US residents only this time. Sorry but shipping is ridiculous.

Postage Frame Stamps from Anticipate Invitations

postage frame stamps

The release of the postage frame stamps from Anticipate Invitations have been burning up the Twitter feeds of many a letter writer this week. Six frame designs are available and each is available in four sizes to accommodate the most common US postage sizes. Prices for the stamps start at $14.30 and go up to $20.46 for the largest square size. Or a set of four can be purchased for $52.38.

I would love to assemble a mixed set of four stamps to make envelopes look like a mismatched gallery wall.

February is Letter Writing Month

letterwritingmonth

Once again, its time for InCoWriMo (pronounced as “Ink-o-rye-mo”), International Correspondence Writing Month. The goal of the project is to write one letter, card, note, or postcard everyday for the entire month of February. Just 28 little bits of correspondence.

LetterMo2015

February is also known as LetterMo, as in A Month of Letters, a project started by author Mary Robinette Kowal several years ago but whose mantle has been taken up across the blogosphere, myself included. LetterMo gives you the leeway of not writing on Sunday since there’s no postal pick-up so the requirement to complete this challenge is just 24 pieces of written correspondence.

For me, February is my chance to get all caught up on my letter writing AND even send some new letters and cards. Are you planning to participate?

With a week to plan, be sure to stock up on some stationery, postcards, note cards, stamps and, of course, have all your favorite pens and inks at the ready. This is a great chance to use up some of that paper you have squirreled away and try out ALL those inks you’ve been hoarding.

Need something for your upcoming month of letters?

(image modified from a WPA poster from the 30s available at Free Vintage Posters)

Clutter & Objects Defined

The Happiness Project

Following my post about the organizing and de-cluttering book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, my darling friend Diane emailed me a considerably more useful list of potential clutter and object types.

Significant ObjectsSignificant-Objects-cover

First, from the NYT’s Joshua Glenn’s Significant Objects project, there is sorting our non-functional objects into five categories :

  • TOTEMS – are from the natural world, like rocks
  • IDOLS – are objects of contemplation, like Buddha figures
  • EVIDENCE – artifacts from a public event
  • TALISMANS – lucky objects
  • FOSSILS – things that bear mute witness to a vanished way of life

Then, from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, she defines Clutter Types as:

  • Nostalgic clutter – relics of an earlier life
  • Conservation clutter – things I imagine being useful but aren’t presently
  • Freebie clutter – gifts, hand-me-downs we don’t use
  • Crutch clutter – things I use but know I shouldn’t
  • Aspirational clutter – things I aspire to use but don’t
  • Buyer’s remorse clutter – enough said

My husband and I had fun assigning some of our favorite items to various categories. Mechanical typewriters are definitely Fossils and are also a little Conservation clutter and Aspirational clutter (even I realize that having more than a dozen typewriters in 2015 is a bit excessive). Bob says he collects a lot of Evidence objects from travels and adventures like receipts and ticket stubs. We did have a hard time coming up with anything we thought was Crutch clutter. How about you? What categories does your clutter fall into?

Having Diane introduce me to these books from their perspective on clutter has made me want to read both volumes. Have you read them?

Target Threshold Zip Pouch

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This zippered pen and pencil case is another find from Target. It’s from their Threshold line and I found in with the office supplies and binders. The case is made from a heavy-duty canvas with a deep indigo color and casual dot pattern. It has one large zipper pocket for storing tools and then a smaller pocket on the front of the case for smaller trinkets.The inside is lined with a dark navy nylon and despite the rustic look, the zipper is nicely finished on the end. Its a really nice case for not much money.

The case measure about 6×9″ which makes it suitable for an A5 sized notebook or larger. It would probably fit most snugly over a letter-sized binder or notebook but the biggest notebook I could find was my Quo Vadis Habana and its covered the cover almost completely and the elastic was tight enough to be functional. This would be the perfect case for a conference or a day of meetings. It provides plenty of space to carry tools but stays secure to your notebook.

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On the back of the case is a matching elastic running across the length of the case. I immediately realized that the case could be looped over the cover of a notebook.

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The case comfortably held a dozen or more tools. It’s defintiely long enough to hold a freshly sharpened pencil (even a Blackwing with giant eraser ferrule!) as well as most other writing tools. I tucked an eraser and a small hand sharpener in the front pocket. I was hoping the front pocket would be long enough to store an iPhone but it was a bit too short. It would hold small cards like an ID or business cards though. I was able to stick my phone in the larger pocket with my pens though with no problem.

The case cost  $7.99 and is available for purchase on the Target web site.

13 Things to Do With All Those Blank Notebooks

Over the holiday break I did a lot of tidying up around my home office/studio and one of the things I came across was the supply shop quantities of notebooks I have in my closet. Some I’ve taken out of the cellophane wrapper and tested for a review and then they languish in the cupboard. So I’m “saving” and some I might not have liked as much but they could still be useful.

Then I heard Myke talking about trying to use the notebooks he has and I started trying to come up with things I could do to put these notebooks to good use and simultaneously be more productive.

Here’s a list I compiled from various sources and my own crazy ideas for things to do with that pile of empty notebooks you might have laying around:

  1. Daily Journal
  2. Morning Pages/Free Writing/Brain Dump
  3. Lists (Bullet Journal)
  4. Mind Mapping
  5. Sketchnoting
  6. Practice your handwriting
  7. Test all those pens and inks
  8. Commonplace book
  9. Dream Journal
  10. Travel Journal
  11. Book (to-read or read) Journal
  12. Disassemble, cut or remove the pages to use as a notepad or hole punch and put into a binder
  13. Collage, art journal or sketch book

I’m sure I didn’t think of all the myriad of possibilities but I hope these ideas might inspire you to crack the cover on one of those notebooks you have squirreled away. Do you keep a notebook dedicated to a different subject or have a recommendation?

I found a lot of other people writing about this topic with the start of the new year. Lots of people are trying to commit to writing more, journaling or getting organized and nothing will get you there faster than just writing stuff down.

The Tab Notebook

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

This week, on a random hunt on Amazon, I came across the Suck UK Tab Notebook Set. This is a set of four A5 notebooks, each with a diecut tab in four different positions. This set of books would be perfect in a A5-sized (Midori Traveler’s Notebook-style) leather cover. Might be worth searching Etsy for a good cover to go with these pretty books.

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

The covers are kraft card stock and each book is filled with 64 tinted pages with narrow spaced ruled lines. One book is filled with blue paper, one with pink, one with yellow and one with green.

I don’t know anything about the paper quality since I haven’t ordered a set…yet but I quite like the looks.

(The SUCK UK Tab Notebook 4-book set sells for  $15.)

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

Winner: Nock Co DotDash Notepad

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

Just wanted to announce the winner of the Nock Co DotDash notebook….

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Congrats, John! Your wish came true! I’ll be emailing you to arrange delivery. Thanks to everyone who entered and I will be forwarding the whole list of color recommendations on to Nock Co to convince them to cater to our whims!

Did you know…?

housekeeping

Just thought I’d provide a little housekeeping info here.

I recently updated by username on Instagram. If you’d like to follow me there you can find me @wellapptdesk. Be prepared for pens, paper, knitting and the occasional cocktail photo.

If you don’t already follow me on Twitter, you can also find me as @wellapptdesk.

There is a Facebook page for the Well-Appointed Desk though I’m not a frequent user of Facebook. I check in here about once a week and will reply to comments.

And finally, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the site, please use the Ask The Desk link at the top of the page. I reply back to almost all emails, unless you’re that Prince from Nigeria – I told you, man, its over between us!

(image borrowed from Envision The American Dream)

Show & Tell: Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Edition : “Simple Minded Silver Streak”

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak

This is my first DDC Factory Floor edition of Field Notes. These were released for the Draplin Design Pop-Up Store in Portland but a handful were made available on the Draplin website. I was able to score two 3-packs.

I’m feeling oddly collector-y about these. Usually when I buy two sets of Field Notes, I give one set to my husband and as soon as he saw these he was all grabby hands and I swatted him away.

Each of the three books has a different color cover: metallic silver, orange and a copper-y color made from combining the orange and silver inks. Inside is bright white 50# paper with orange grid ruling. All of this information I’ve had to cull from the internet because I can’t bring myself to break the shrinkwrap seal yet. For a more in-depth review, check out the Gentleman Stationer who had the decency to take these out of the wrappers.

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak backs

In retrospect, I think I should let these be opened and used in the manner they were designed to be used. Leaving them in shrinkwrap indefinitely is no way to live. I think in 2015, I hope to stop “collecting” and start using the Field Notes I’ve accumulated.

How about you? Collector or user?

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks


Code & Quill Notebooks
are a new Kickstarter project that was designed to appeal to anyone who needs to combine note taking with sketches or more freeform content. The “indentation rule” is particularly unique in that it provides tick marks along the line to help with indentation often used in coding. I’ve seen this type of indentation in some Japanese notebooks as well to space kanji characters properly but it has not appeared in any western notebooks that I know of.

The Code & Quill notebooks are available in either softcover or hardcover editions. Both books are 5.5″ x 7.7″ (a little smaller than A5, AKA approx. US half-sheet). The softcover books feature 300gsm glossy covers and the hardcover books are covered with a textured PU material which is a leatherette coated with polyurethane for added durability. I like the stitched labels on the cover that give some subtle, unique branding to the books.

Inside, both versions feature 100gsm eggshell white paper with minimal grain. On the left hand side of each spread is a dot grid pattern and on the right hand side is “indentation rule,” both printed in light gray to provide a visible guideline but not so dark as to inhibit visibility. The paper has been tested with a fine nib Lamy AL-Star with Noodler’s Waterproof black, Noodler’s Heart of Darkness and Lamy black. The fountain pen test done thus far met the expectations of the creator.

The books were designed here in the US but the final production will be in China in order to meet demand and keep prices competitive. All production will be closely monitored by the US design team to meet their exacting standards.

The softcover edition is called the Traveller and a pledge for one notebook starts at $15. The hardcover edition is called Origin, and a pledge for one starts at $20.One of each is $30. US backers will receive free shipping but international backers will have to cover shipping.

The Kickstarter launch ends Feb. 5 so there’s still time to back this project if its of interest to you.

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks

Orla Kiely Make-Up Cases as Pen Cases

orla-kiely-pouches-1 orla-kiely-pouches-2

I picked up two cases at Target this week after seeing someone post on YouTube about using these for keeping their planner supplies. Ding! What a great idea! So on my next trip to Target, I went snooping through the cosmetics department and, lo and behold, there were several to choose from.

The small, black-and-green pencil-style case was $9.99 and the larger green case was $14.99. I’d heard these cases were so popular that people were buying them up and reselling on Ebay for twice the retail price so I was thrilled to find them still available at the “going price.” Both pouches are a waxed canvas material on the exterior with gold metal zippers and coordinating zipper pulls of stitched vinyl.

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The small pencil pouch zips all the way across and down the sides about halfway. The whole pouch is lined inside with coordinating nylon. It has a slit pocket inside which is not super handy but would be a good place to slide a pencil sharpener or a packet of leads. The main compartment is a large square shape  that holds a lot of tools.

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I think I stuffed it with over 20 pens, including several multi-pens, and there was still room to dig around in it. Unfortunately, the case is a bit short for a new woodcase pencil but machanical pencils fit fine.

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The larger case opens with double zippers and contains an attached, mesh zip pouch in the center. On either side, there are additional pockets. On one side there are three slash pockets and a zip pocket with mesh front on the other side. The inside is lined in navy nylon.

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All the interior seams are covered in nylon so there’s nothing unsightly inside or out. For the price, these are really lovely cases.

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I took the same 20+ pens and filled the center zip pouch. In the zip pocket, I put small items like erasers, washi tape and binder clips.

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In the slash pockets I was able to put a Kaweco AL-Sport, some washi sticker packs and a packet of pencil leads.

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This is what the large case looked like all zipped up. It closed easily and everything feels solid and secure. I suspect I’ll use this as a traveling case, maybe not for everyday use since its about the size of an A5 book when filled but for trips or a specific outing.

The smaller pencil case is overall more diminutive but with plenty of carryin capacity so it may become this year’s everyday pencil case. I’m a bit surprised with myself because I really thought the larger case would be an everyday case. They are both so lovely I’ll find a way to use them regularly. So, the lesson I learned from all this is that good office supplies can be found where you least expect it.

Pocket Notebooks for the Ladies

Most of the distinguished gentlemen of the pen blogging community talk about pocket notebooks and the ease of pulling them out of a shirt pocket or back jeans pocket. But what about us ladies who might not have the necessary pockets nor want to carry a book in our rear pockets? The whole idea makes me think, “Stop staring at my Field Notes, jerk!”

So, how do we ladies carry a handy, jot-a-quick-note notebook that does not mean having a bag or purse with us at all times?

After working on a small team of almost all women last year, I discovered the handy convenience of a wrist clutch. The women on my team varied in personal aesthetics but all unanimously embraced the wristlet in various forms.

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From memory, there was a BlueQ tyvek zip pouch with pretty graphics printed on it, two Coach wristlets (one in fabric and one in leather) and a Kate Spade wristlet in stripes. All the specific bags we carried have been discontinued but these images will give you an idea of the general look. The links are to the current offerings from each brand. The prices of these pouches ranged from $7 to about $100 though several were purchased on sale or at outlet stores so I think none of us paid full retail except me. The size was fairly consistent across all four bags — about 5.5″ x 7.5″ with of about 1.5″, give or take a half on inch. In these, we each had enough space to carry a small pocket notebook or a stack of 3×5 index cards along with our cell phones, ID and work badge, credit cards and cash for lunch. I think any lady could find some sort of wrist bag or clutch that suited their personal aesthetics from handmade Etsy designs to high-fashion designer styles.

The key is to find one large enough to hold your absolute essentials but not so large that it becomes a purse. I use my wristlet as my wallet and dump it into my purse/tote/backpack/bag at the end of the day. The wristlet is also handy for quick errands and shopping trips when I don’t want to haul around the whole mess that is my bag.

If your job or daily life requires more hands-free mobility, you might want to consider a small crosssbody bag instead. Its a similar idea to the wristlet but with a strap long enough to position the bag comfortably at your hip. No fanny packs or bumbags, okay? That is not a solution. With crossbody bags, there are as many looks, styles and materials to choose from as you could want from high brow to budget priced. On Etsy, there were over 14K search results for “crossbody bag” so there’s definitely something for everyone.

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I picked two to show the range, one from Kate Spade (over $200) and one from Mochi Things (about $20).

And what are the best pocket notebooks to carry in your new-found wristlet or bag? The same awesome notebooks the boys carry: Field Notes, Word.notebooks and Doane Paper Utility Notebooks, of course.

Giveaway: Word. Memorandum 2015

Word. Memorandum 2015

Several weeks ago, I decided I wanted one of the Word. Memorandum 2015 notebooks ($11). I ordered it at the same time I ordered the Polygons and Indigo Word. Notebooks. Then I went full-tilt on ring-bound planners so it feels extraneous to keep this beauty to myself.

The Memorandum us beautiful with a rich brown cardstock cover, stamped in gold foil. Inside is fabulously, classic design elements for tracking your days (week on two pages) as well as spaces for indexing and personal information as well as a list of holidays.

Word. Memorandum 2015

The Memoradum is just 2.35″ x 5.25″  so it will slide easily into the smallest pocket. A fancy leather cover is available for purchase from Word. Notebooks ($40).

Word. Memorandum 2015

Designer Jon Contino is responsible for the stunning typography and design and it is awesome. He has a great eye for classic design and it shows.

Word. Memorandum 2015

TO ENTER: Since I’ve decided to rely on a ring-bound planner, I’d like to give this to a lucky reader. Do you want to account for your days with this fabulous planner? Tell me in the comments what events you’d like to track in the Memorandum to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, January 9, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. This giveaway is open to all readers! Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

Top 5 Posts of 2014

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WordPress kindly sends out a yearly round-up of blog statistics. Since I didn’t move The Well-Appointed Desk to a privately hosted server until autumn, the stats are a little wonky but the most popular posts are pretty accurate. Want to see the list and see if you missed any of them?

  1. The Epic Refill Reference Guide: Rollerball, Gel and Ballpoints
  2. Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook (AKA Guide Sheets!)
  3. Customizing a Midori Traveler Notebook
  4. Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014
  5. Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

I think its pretty interesting that four out of five of the posts were focused on paper, notebooks or planners.

Other Stats: I posted 365 posts in 2014 and there are over 840 posts in the archives. If you’re looking for something specific, try using the search field. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, drop me an email using the Ask The Desk link at the top of the page.

Thanks to everyone for reading this blog, leaving comments and generally being awesome. Happy writing in 2015!

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