Category: Planners & Organizers

Notebook Review: Baron Fig Askew, Work/Play II and Planner 2017

I’ve developed quite the stack of Baron Fig products to review so I decided to roll them all up into one big review. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten the Work/Play II ($20), the Planner 2017 (sold out) and the quite controversial Askew ($20). So, let’s work through the list.

Each book is similar in size (5.4″ x 7.7″)  and design to the Baron Fig Confidant with a bookcloth fabric cover. I love the feel of the cloth but the black cloth on the Work/Play II edition attracts dust like nobody’s business. I know lots of people have begged and pleaded that Baron Fig make a black edition. You got your request, now be sure to carry a lint brush. I lint rolled this cover twice in the process of photographing this but it the pursuit of truthful reporting, I’m leaving the dots of dust for you to see. Its beautiful, it looks great, but if you are OCD like me, its going to make you crazy.  I can now see the appeal of the slate grey covers of the original Confidants. What I cannot see, cannot make me crazy.

I love seeing all the ribbon bookmarks. I particularly like the pop of red for the Askew marker. I love the wide cotton and the finished ends so they don’t fray. I just wish the were a smidgen longer so that I could grab the end and pull it to the right corner to open the book. Sadly, the bookmark is too short to do that. It need to be about an inch to two inches longer.

(Ah, the lint!!!) The Work/Play II edition is blind embossed on the cover with a pencil and a paper airplane. The graphics are simple and playful and are repeated inside on the “bookplate” on the flyleaf.

The paper inside is printed on the lefthand side with dot grid and is blank on the righthand side. I joked with my husband that as a lefty and an artist, my “work” is usually more drawing so I need the blank pages on the left so the book is actually backwards, “Why did they put the embossing on the back cover?” Otherwise, the book is utter perfection! I was worried the dots were too wide or too big but once I tried them out, I think they are perfect, even with my tiny penmanship.

My big moment of joy was discovering that, after several previous tests with the Vanguard, there has been some substantial improvements with the Confidant paper. It’s not the same stock that’s in the Vanguard for starters. Nor is it the same paper that I’ve previously tested in earlier Confidants. Oh, Baron Fig… You’ve come a long way!

Hence, the lazy pen tests… I wasn’t expecting much in the pen tests. But I turned the page and there was no bleeding. And none of my fountain pens feathered. I didn’t smear my inks. Even my brush pens worked. Holy pen tests, Batman! What’s going on?

So, I pulled out the Planner… It’s dressed in the Confidant’s dress greys with the date blind embossed in the corner. All subtlety and understated.

I penned my name in the front feeling all “Confidant”. Maybe I might finally get my act together. 2017 hasn’t started all that auspiciously for me thus far.

The planner starts with month-on-two-pages calendars which, in my haste to “get down to business” I forgot to photograph. With January practically over, I decided to use the first few pages for pen tests. Again, its the same paper as in the Work/Play II. Its ever-so-slightly, warm white with lots of open space for your Monday through Friday activities though they do split Saturday and Sunday on  one block which I’m not crazy about. Doesn’t anyone else have busy weekkends?

There’s also a lot of grey space at the top of the page which I don’t quite get though after a couple pages, I did see the advantage of sticking my magnetic page markers up there.

I did like the shaded month “tabs” along the righthand side to make it easy to find the month. There is also a dark page marking the end of the weekly pages and the beginning of the motes pages in the back of the book. All-in-all, if you had previously used a Moleskine planner, this is a vast improvement paperwise. The typography and overall layout is good as well. The book provides quite a few notes pages as well and the bookmark is considerably more durable albeit not as long as I’d like.

Finally, the controversial Askew notebook. I’ll start by saying that I am a graphic designer by trade and I know who Debbie Millman is. She is a well-known designer in my field. She publishes books, hosts a podcast, speaks at events, judges design competitions and is generally regarded as an expert in her field. In graphic design, she’s one of our celebrities for her merit. That said, I’m also familiar with her aesthetic and knew she would do something quirky. So, I was not all that surprised to see the Askew as it came to me, and I did receive it as a review copy not as a subscriber so that might change my perspective a bit (all the other notebooks reviewed here today I paid for).

I love the brilliant blue fabric cover, and the hand scribbled end papers (even though, in general, ballpoint pens give me the heebie jeebies). That red ribbon bookmark! Brilliant! All reminiscent of notebook paper but tilted on its ear. And then each of the pages hand drawn and ever so slightly “askew”.

Again, the paper and size was the same as the other notebooks. While others complain that its too quirky, I think this is a great book for creative play, for travel journaling, for collage, for doodling and for breaking out of rut.

I had fun putting the wonkiest page to good use. Because Monday was in serious need of a do-over.

So, my bottomline, I am loving the Baron Fig Confidants. These are definitely moving the needle on the A5 (-ish) hardcover notebook and have whooshed to the top of my list of favorite notebooks up next to the Moo notebook. And while the Askew may have made other folks reconsider the Confidant subscription its made me CONSIDER the subscription because this is the kind of notebook that surprises and delights. I don’t think I’d want an endless stream of plain dot grid notebooks to show up every quarter but if once a year, something like the Askew showed up and really shook things up, then its totally worth it.


DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were sent to me free of charge by Baron Fig for the purpose of review and some I purchased with my own money. Please see the About page for more details.

Giveaway: Decoylab Wall Calendar

One of my favorite local KC artists is Maiko of Decoylab. She makes amazing pieces like laser wood and acrylic clocks, laser brooches and necklaces (of which I own a bazillion!) and other beautiful crafted goods. The fact that such world-class talent is right here in my town often tickles me.

She showed me her large wall calendar $26 and I said it would be an awesome piece to have here on The Desk and then time got away from us and here it is the end of January! So, we decided, since not everyone is as prompt about getting organized for the new year, we could host a giveaway so the next 11 months could be beautiful and organized.

Maiko has kindly offered to giveaway one of her 2017 Wall Calendars. It is a simple, functional calendar that features large dates that can be read from across the room.

Full moon stickers and a large bulldog clips are optional. Calendar starts from October 2016 to December 2017.

  • Features:
    • Size 11×17
    • Large dates visible from afar (Date height 1.37″)
    • Plenty of space underneath the dates to jot down important dates ( 1 inch height)
    • Ships flat
    • Printed on 70lb text weight paper – same as copy paper weight
    • 100% post consumer waste paper
    • The paper color is slightly off white
  • Optionals:
    • 15 full moon stickers (full moon dates included)
    • 3 inch chrome bull dog clip

If you don’t want to wait to see if you win the giveaway, you can order one today. I did because I still have a sorry-looking free calendar hanging on my wall from LAST YEAR and I needed to remedy the situation ASAP. While you’re there, you might want to consider one of her amazing clocks. I’m partial to the Cuckoo Style A because it has squirrels on it. One of the most popular items is the DIY Western Auto sign which is a beacon on our downtown skyline that Decoylab turned into a desktop 3D bamboo kit you can assemble, paint and build yourself.

 

TO ENTER: Leave a message in the comments and tell me what New Year’s task you’ve procrastinated or if you are hyper-organized what Decoy Lab item you’re dreaming of owning. One entry per person.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Saturday, January 28, 2017. 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 10 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. 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. US Residents Only.

Giveaway: Write Your Own Adventure Planner 2017

write-your-own-adventure-1 write-your-own-adventure-2

Several months ago I decided to back the Kickstarter campaign for the Emma Kate Co. Write Your Own Adventure Planner for 2017 but couldn’t decide if I wanted the grey or pink version so like the planner junkie than I am, I ordered both of them. And customs and international post being what they are, the planners arrived today. So, 2017 starts today for me. And for you. The fact that both the grey and the peachy pink planners are both beautiful I had to resort to crowdsourcing to make a decision which planner to keep. So, I decide to keep the peachy pink.

Bob made the reasonable call that the grey planner was much more neutral and respectable for either a lady or a gentleman to carry (Is he thinking he’s going to enter the giveaway? Am I going to have to add a stipulation to the fine print about family members not being eligible?).

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Inside the fabric hard cover covers is creamy stock and really nice page layouts where Saturday and Sunday are given the most space on both the monthly and the weekly spreads.

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On each page, there is a quote or an inspirational phrase.

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At the bottom of the weekly pages is space for three items. You could use these for your three most important to-do’s; breakfast, lunch and dinner plans; or morning, afternoon and evening events.

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Inbetween each month are two pages of dot grid paper as well as more sheets at the end of the book for additional notes.

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At the back of the book is a gusseted pocket for ephemera.

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The panner includes two matching grosgrain bookmarks. And finally, the book pages are about a half an inch shorter than the binding to accommodate the adhesive tabs included to mark the month. I love that the tabs fit at the bottom of the pages instead of the top or the sides.

I have not had a chance to do any pen tests yet but the paper feels substantial, creamy and a little toothy. So, the giveaway winner will get to test the paper and let us all know how well it performs too.

TO ENTER: Tell me what your adventure plans are for 2017 are in comments. One entry per person.


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, January 6, 2017. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. 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 10 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. 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. US residents only, please.

Quo Vadis Plan & Note Weekly Open Format Planner

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

I cannot believe its taken me so long to do a write up about the Quo Vadis Plan & Note Open Format Desk Planner. It’s simply the simplest answer to the “I need a planner” problem. It’s approximately A5 sized, bound with a flexible soft cover and features week-on-two-pages open planning pages AND FOUNTAIN PEN FRIENDLY PAPER. So…. basically, its the “problem solved” planner for a lot of people who have been asking for an alternative to the Moleskine planner but “with better paper”. This is it.

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

On the cover is a subtly embossed “2017” and the Quo Vadis logo in the lower right hand corner. There’s an option to choose the turquoise spine and elastic like this model or purple or pink.

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

Interior features:

  • Open layout for planning & notes
  • Week on 2-pages with equal pages for each day
  • Monthly calendar pages in the front
  • 12 months – January-December
  • Covers are flexible, soft-touch material, not leatherette
  • Color binding & match vertical elastic closure
  • Forward planning for 2017 & 2018
  • White 90g paper
  • 2-color printing
  • Tear-off corners to make wayfinding easier
  • Address book pages in back of book

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

 

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

The book itself is relatively thin so you won’t weigh yourself down with a big planner and can easily add an additional notebook to your daily carry without needing your own Sherpa.

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

Since most people will already have some familiarity with Quo Vadis paper (also Clairefontaine and Rhodia) I didn’t do a lengthy pen test since it felt like overkill. The 90gsm paper Quo Vadis uses is the same high quality paper that is used in most Quo Vadis, Clairefontaine and Rhodia products and can be depended upon to behave as such. This is Robert Oster Aqua in my Pilot Custom 912 with Waverly nib.

Quo Vadis Plan & Note 2017

And shown above, the same page is viewed from the back. As you can see there is almost no show through and no bleed through as is expected from Quo Vadis paper.

So, if you are looking for a good quality, week-on-two-pages planner with lots of room for notes, the Quo Vadis Plan & Note Desk is a great option. And any Quo Vadis planner is guaranteed to feature awesome paper if you need a different size or configuration.

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

Planning Your Planner with Agendio Builder

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Its that time again…!

The guys over at Agendio took all the feedback from users and have added new options and features to the super-customizable Agendio planners. I have had one for a year and have used it on-and-off all year. Its not that I haven’t enjoyed the Agendio but in my “line of work” its hard to use one planner for a whole year exclusively — any more than I can use one notebook, one pen or one ink.

This year, I had a Journal-sized Agendio with a simple black eco-leather cover. I spent an inordinate amount of time last year fiddling with fonts and picking a color for the planner to get it just “so” as well as setting the pagelet areas so that I had areas for work lists, personal lists, notes and “other”.

Since my order from last year is saved in their system, I can just update my existing planner and add tabs, colors per month and other new features. Or… I can build a completely different planner. I can make a larger sized planner like the , I can build inserts that would fit into a Filofax or other ring binder. So many options to choose from!

agendio-2017

Some of the new or improved features of the Agendio system include:

  • Paper weight has increased to 105gsm/28lb for weeklies and monthlies. It’s the same, high-quality soft paper they’ve been using, just thicker. The daily pages will continue to be printed on the 90gsm/24lb stock in order to fit into the binders.
  • Covers are wider to accommodate tabs and to give clients a bit more room
  • New spiral bindings are available as well as new colors in the wraparound leatherette covers
  • The pockets for the large planners are wider, so client will be able to fit letter size paper in the pocket without folding it.
  • There are two new print ink colors — Bright blue, to match the new bright blue cover, and a blush pink, which will go well with many of the covers.
  • There is a new black and white printing option. This is a way to reduce costs, though there is also a slight reduction in printing quality as well.
  • Shipping boxes have also been redesigned to help protect planners better during shipping. Shipping boxes are also now kraft brown since they are less damaging to the environment.

Some things that I really like about my current Agendio:

I really like the Journal size. Its a bit larger than a Personal Filofax but not quite as large as an A5 — its that sweet spot. It’s big enough to comfortably write in but small enough to be portable.

The wraparound cover has the aesthetic appeal of a bound book with the ease of use of a spiral. Unfortunately, I cannot add of remove pages so that’s the only downside of the bound book. I have ended up taping, clipping or using the pocket to add in extra bits as needed. The elastic has also helped to keep extra pages contained.

It’s been quite durable. My husband has also been using an Agendio (by a strange twist of fate, we ended up with two copies of my planner and he used the extra one) and he has not been gentle with it and it’s stood up to his beatings.

All the updates and improvements are things that I was hoping that Agendio would add, like tabs and even things I hadn’t actually considered like multiple color options which are frivolous but welcome. And of course there is the planner insert options for all the Filofax, Covey and other planner formats available as well.

For me, the biggest delay in actually ordering a planner is just figuring out what sorts of categories I need to keep myself organized for the coming year. My schedule and even my roles at work seem to change so frequently that choosing a planned pagelet for the whole year seems a bit presumptuous. I’ve had three different project roles at work this year and started a podcast which changed my needs pretty dramatically. Who knows what 2017 will bring?

Do you know what you want to plan for next year?

Review: Filofax Lockwood Personal Planner & 2017 Illustrated Stripes Insert Set

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Filofax Lockwood Personal sized planner in aqua ($102.15) might not look like a huge change from my Original in dark aqua but, its not the color that’s the change so much as the overall construction. The Lockwood is the freakin’ MacGyver of planners! Its got pockets and slots galore where the Original is stripped down to the essentials. The Lockwood is a higher quality, more supple leather too where the Original is a thicker leather but much more rigid.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

From the inside views, you can see the narrow slit pockets on the Original and the black elastic band on the Original. The Lockwood could easily be filled with business cards, ID and bank cards and double as a wallet and planner. OR the pockets could be filled with items to color-code, annotate or decorate the planner. I haven’t quite decided what to put in the pockets yet. After years with the mostly useless pockets on the Original, I’m stymied with the options.

The plus for the Original (for me) is that the elastic pen loop is on the left hand side and pretty flexible making it capable of holding a lot of different pens and quick-access for a lefty. A lot of right-handed users found the left-hand loop awkward. The Lockwood puts the pen loop under the clasp. Its still elastic but its a tighter elastic and the placement makes it more difficult to put any but the thinnest pens or pencils in it since they bump right up against the inserts and are restricted by the length of the strap.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Inside the back cover, the Lockwood features a long secretary pocket and a smaller horizontal slit pocket as well. The Original has the secretary pocket too and a top slit pocket as well as the mysterious lower slit that I never actually found a use for.

The Lockwood has a more finished look on the inside with the stitching on all the pocket edging and the leather facing carried under the ring binder. I feel kind of grown-up with the Lockwood. Its like my “big girl” planner. Even though its mermaid-colored.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Hey, look! One of my letterpress notepads with the side binding fits perfectly in the secretary pocket. Brilliant!

Filofax Lockwood Personal

On the backside on the cover is yet another pocket, this is a zippered pocket that looks perfect to hold receipts, coins or other small bits. This planner is the total cargo pants of planners, I swear.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Here’s a top view of the Lockwood planner filled with my regular calendar pages, notes pages, assorted bits, page markers and my notepad in the back. Well stuffed, indeed.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I tucked my Fisher Space Pen in the pen loop which was one of the few pens that fit comfortably without reeking havoc with my tabs. So, I’d definitely recommend a slim pen or pencil in the pen loop or skipping it altogether sadly. Its the only flaw I’ve found in this planner. Everything else is fabulous.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The front slit pocket easily holds another notepad, pad of sitcky notes or, as I discovered later, my iPhone. It makes this a great planner for meetings or someone who goes back and forth to a lot of places and needs to be able to juggle a planner and a phone.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I discovered that the horizontal slit in the back of the planner is perfectly sized for a small pad of stocky notes, if that floats your boat.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I also thought it would be handy to compare the personal-sized Lockwood to an iPad Mini. Its almost the same dimensions, just a good deal thicker when filled completely. I could certainly carry fewer pages in the planner but I thought I’d stuff it completely as a contrast to my month of austerity. I will probably trim it down a bit but I’m enjoying having ALL THE THINGS at the moment.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Lockwood is such a lovely planner. The fact that it has a million pockets and places to squirrel away bits of paper and cards just makes it better. The overall quality is excellent and the color is fabulous. I wish the pen loop was a little more user-friendly but I can stick a pen in any of the other cargo pants pockets on the Lockwood so I really don’t have anything to complain about.

And one more thing….

I also wanted to show the new Filofax 2017 Dated Illustrated Stripes refill set ($19.99). The set is also available for A5-sized planners ($26.99). Its a week-on-two-pages layout with lined pages and tabbed months that include a monthly calendar. The tabs and pages alternate colors in an array of interesting colors including tomato orange, navy, orchid, lime, and biscuit tan. The set also included an assortment of lined and blank note paper.

Filofax stripes inserts 2017

The big news was that the paper was listed as 80gsm which is considerably higher than the standard Filofax refills and better than the Cotton Cream which was always better than the plain white but has gotten worse over the years. So I thought I’d put it through some pen tests to see how it performed…

Pens used to test Filofax insertsFilofax stripes insert writing test

I didn’t hold back. I hit the paper with all my currently inked fountain pens next to this year’s Cotton Cream and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Illustrated Stripes paper held up to the abuse. The lines are usually pretty narrow on the Personal Filofax paper anyway since the books are pretty small so I tend to use fine pens, gel pens or pencils mostly. However, every once in awhile, I end up with a fountain pen in my hand when I have to jot something down so its nice to know that the paper can withstand a few lines without completely withering.

reverse side of Filofax stripes insert writing test

From the back of the paper it looks like the worst show through was the Edison Collier and a lot of red and pink inks are a bit more liquidy anyway. Everything else is completely tolerable. Especially when compared with how poorly the Cotton Cream did.

I’m so excited to start using the Illustrated Stripes Insert set. It looks good, works well with lots of pens and is readymade. As much as I like all the DIY options, I’m happy to just buy a pre-dated planner set-up and go. I’m not much of a planner decorator. I’d rather spend my free time drawing, painting or knitting and less time making my to-do list look fancy so these inserts totally solve a problem for me. They work, they look good and they are easy to acquire. I hope that Filofax will continue to innovate their planner inserts in the coming years so I won’t be forced to make my own.


DISCLAIMER: These items were sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

One Book July: Halfway Point

One Book July Halfway

I have to admit that after more than two weeks of One Book July, I’m about to lose my mind. I already fell off the bandwagon by putting a pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook in my purse so that I have a portable-sized notebook for jotting notes on the go.

So my first downside to One Book July is not  always having a book that fits in my bag or pocket.

One Book July Halfway

Then, there’s the issue of the whole Bullet Journaling system… its not been my strong suit. I have been planning several trips that are coming up in August and October. Normally, I’d write all the details down in my Filofax which I keep a whole year in the binder at a time. With a Bullet Journal, there’s the need to write and re-write things in sections like “Forward Planning” and a monthly list and then later in the weekly pages. With my Filofax, I only have to write it down once in the weekly page and maybe on the monthly pages if its an all-day event or something that extends several days. So, that’s the next issue I’ve faced – I miss my Filofax.

I don’t really like keeping my personal notes in the same book with my work notes either. I seldom need my work notes once I’ve gotten home. I do tend to think of things I want to do when I get home or over the weekend while I’m at work so I do tend to carry my personal notebook back and forth with me. So its been weird to try to keep all the notes in one notebook. I’ve ended up cheating and keeping a lot of work notes on 3x5s and sticky notes rather than in my notebook just so I don’t have to keep the notes in my One Book July. So, its another fail for me.

One Book July Halfway

I know I need to continue for another two weeks to be true to the One Book July challenge but I’m not sure I can handle the compromises for two more weeks. I know it sounds ridiculous to need more than one notebook to survive but I’m that OCD.

On the plus side, I really like the the Midori MD notebook ($16) I’ve been using. The paper quality i excellent and has held up to all the pens and pencils I’ve used with it. I purchased the plastic cover ($3.80) for it which has made it feel much more durable and provided pockets to stash loose paper and keep the cream paperboard cover from getting dirty. I will certainly continue to use the Midori MD notebooks in the future. It’s some of the best paper I’ve used yet if you don’t mind the ivory cream stock.

One Book July Halfway

I wonder if I had chosen a Traveler’s Notebook with multiple booklets, if that would have more easily fulfilled my need for work, personal and calendar needs as well as being able to pull out a booklet for portability sake? It’s something to consider for next year.