Review: Zebra Kirarich Glitter Highlighter and NaKniSweMo

Kirarich glitter highlighter

This may be a strange way to talk about a highlighter or the start of November but stick with me for a minute. The beginning of November for a lot of people means the start of NaNoWriMo. For many knitters, myself included, its the start of NaKniSweMo – National Knit-a-Sweater-in-a-Month. This is my seventh year participating and hopefully my seventh successful completion. I’ve had some fumbles over the years but there are seven well-loved sweaters in my closet thanks to NaKniSweMo so I’m willing to compete myself to the challenge again this year. No, its probably not as hard as writing a whole novel in a month but its good fun and a challenge just the same.

Kirarich glitter highlighter

And for me, it means that I need a good highlighter to notate my pattern and highlight the specific size I’m knitting. That’s where Zebra Kirarich Glitter Highlighter in yellow ($2.05 each) comes into the picture. I ordered it awhile ago and its become my go-to highlighter. Why? It’s glittery!!!! Its not so glittery as to be distracting. But I know its glittery. It will catch the light and sparkle and just sort of brighten my day. My highlighting is all of a sudden kissed by unicorns. Its totally ridiculous and twee but I’ve been having a rough few weeks so if glitter makes me happy, so be it.

The Kirarich Glitter Highlighters are also available in blue, pink, orange, purple and green. There’s a five pack set with all colors for $10 if you need ALL THE GLITTER or a smaller 3-pack with just the yellow, pink and green if you have a little self- control.


Kirarich glitter highlighter

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

Ask The Readers: Broad Nibs for the Vision Impaired

ask the readers header

Mark has a really great question, and I know that you, my readers, will have some great ideas for him:

I’m legally blind, and looking for a broad line. Currently, I use a Uni-ball Signo RT with 1.0mm refill. I’m considering the Ohto Fude Ball 1.5mm, Pilot VP with tuned broad nib, and Lamy 2000 with B or BB nib.

The Lamy BB looks nice and broad, but it has a reputation for QC issues. I’d love to see a line comparison between the Ohto Fude Ball and Vanishing Point in broad.

I tend to favor fine line pens so I’m not the best person to recommend broad nibs but that’s such a good option to help folks with vision issues. I’ve used the Kaweco BB nib and it lays down a THICK line. My instinct is that a European or US fountain pen with a broad nib, like most fountain pens, is going to have a broader nib than a Japanese pen, unless it is modified by a nibmeister.

Of course, the Nib Nook tool on Goulet Pens is a great to get a visible comparison between various B and BB nib options that they stock. Like this:

Nib Nook B and BB

In regards to gel pens, JetPens has a post on Broad Pens for its Penpedia that covers the pens it stocks from 1.0 to 1.6mm. There’s some good options there that will be both  broad and reasonably priced.

Does anyone have other thick line recommendations for Mark? Or some comparison images of some broad lines to share? If you include links in the comments, I’ll add them to the post. Thanks!

Link Love: EDK and Shimmer Inks

rp_link-ana1111111111111.jpgPosts of the Week, All Things EDK:




Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organization:

Other Interesting Things:

On A Personal Note: Pain Threshold

phrenology headOver the past several months, I’ve developed what I’ve come to discover are cluster headaches. At first, I thought it was just weird migraines. But I could not bounce back from them and the frequency was starting to rival re-runs of The Simpsons. I knew something wasn’t right. So I’ve been trying a lot of different meds – some work, some don’t.

The bottom line, is that the bouts of headaches have affected my overall work productivity. There are some days when I have to curl up and rest and hope that my brain stops trying to kill me from the inside.

My apologies if things have been a little light the last few weeks and if they remain so for a couple more weeks as I try to get myself back into balance.

Giveaway Winner: Karas Kustoms EDK from MassDrop

Karas Kustoms EDK

And now… the winner of the EDK Giveaway…

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 10.27.26 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 10.40.47 AM

Congrats, Shu! I’m so glad this EDK pen will get to go from its current land-locked residence to the beach with you. I hope you’ll share a photo of the pen tanning itself on the shores. I’ll be contacting you directly to arrange shipment.

And if you aren’t Shu, be sure to hop over to MassDrop. You can still buy your favorite model. Not as awesome as winning one but you get more options for color and materials. Am I right?

Ask The Desk: Tot Staples & MAGIC Erasers & Pens for the Signo 151


Jan asks:

Is there a replacement for the Tiny Tot staples?
I’ve had a red one most of my life and only have a few bars left. Please help it is the best thing for my small desk.

Oh, I’ve got you covered! I too collect vintage TOT staplers and discovered that JetPens stocks staples from Japan No. 10s that fit perfectly. They even come in colors. You can also do a search on the internet or Amazon for No. 10 staples and find other options.

Kimmar asks:

Are Koh-inoor Magic erasers  available in the US?

Sadly, I’ve not found a source for Koh-i-noor Magic erasers in the US but there are vendors on  Ebay that will sell them from Europe and ship them over. That’s how I acquired my last batch. Andy from Woodclinched placed an order and sent me a few. Maybe you can find a few other pencil/eraser enthusiasts online to go in on an order with you? Maybe through the Pen Addict Slack channel, FPN or other social network?

UPDATE: Our good friend Greer Chicago does stock Koh-i-noor Magic erasers but does not have many in stock currently. Grab them quickly or check back and I’m sure they will restock soon.

koh-i-noor magic erasers

Jairo asks:

I was wondering if you know a good pen holder (i.e, retro 51, Karas Kustoms Render K, ti2 tech… etc) for the refill of a uni-ball signo UM-151 0.38?

it does not have to be all metal, but an improvement over the actual body of the pen 😉

The UM-151 sized refill is the same as the Pilot Hi-Tec C so there are some options available for a good pen holder. Should you need to later refill the pen holder, that refill is listed as a  Uni-Ball Signo UMR-1 or UM-151. UM-153 and UM-100 will also fit.

There’s the Eco-Essentials Pen, the Karas Kustoms Render K, the Big I Design Titanium Pen, the Tactile Turn Mover, and the Pen Type-A for starters. The best option is to look for pens that say they will accept the Pilot Hi-Tec C refill for the widest variety.

Fashionable Friday: Rosy Golden Glow


What led me to fixate on Rose Gold this week is the rampant internet fervor around the recent release of the Kate Spade Wellesley planner in metallic rose gold leather. It looks absolutely beautiful! Sadly, this item is only available through the Kate Spade Factory Outlet stores. Many folks are reselling them (often at greatly inflated prices) on Ebay. The retail list price on the tag is $165, so shop for this coveted item accordingly.

And I can’t really think about rose gold as the metallic-sheen-of-the-day without mentioning the new Rose Gold iPhone 6 and 6s.

  • Caran d’Ache 849 Ballpoint in Brut Rose $54.50 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Faber-Castell GRIP Sparkle Metallic Red Pencils (Box of 12) £18 (via Stone Gift)
  • Rose Gold Everyday Bobbi Hair Pins $12 (via Amazon)
  • Pencil Cluster Charm $28 (via Fossil)
  • Parker IM Metallic Pink Ballpoint Pen $30.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Taccia Overture Chocolate Mist Rose Gold Accents Medium Fountain Pen $70.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Pilot Capless Decimo Fountain Pen with 18K Gold Medium Nib in Champagne Pink $133 (via JetPens)
  • TWSBI 580 Fountain Pen in Black with Rose Gold, Medium Nib $70 (via Anderson Pens)
  • York Multi-Task Smartphone Wristlet $155 (via Tory Burch)
  • 2016 Rose Gold Metallic Leather Daily Journal $90 (via Gigi New York)
  • Aurora Style Fountain Pen in Black and Rose Gold $90 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Monteverde Engage One Touch Retractable Rollerball Pen with Rose Gold Trim $73 (via JetPens)
  • Butter London Champers Nail Lacquer $15 (via Butter London)
  • OPI Muppets Most Wanted 2014 Collection Nail Lacquer in Let’s Do Anything We Want! $5.85 (via Amazon)

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette

In the same way that I love pens and pencils, I also love watercolors and watercolor sets. So I was really excited when JetPens started stocking the Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette sets. The sets are available in a 12-color box ($17), and 18-color box ($23.50) and a 24-color box ($29). I got the 18-color set which is a lovely set. The set comes in a green, fabric covered box (almost like a chocolate sampler box in size and shape) with gold foil lettering on the cover. Inside, are extra large pans of watercolor paints.

Like all watercolors, you really need to swatch the colors to see what the colors will look like. In my swatches, you can see that the colors offer an array of three reds, an orange, a yellow, a yellow ochre, three shades of green, a turquoise, four shades of blue, a violet, black, white and a burnt sienna. This is a great assortment of colors that can be mixed to create even more colors. The most unusual color in the palette is the cornflower blue which is not usually a color I see in basic watercolor sets. I need to play with the colors a bit more to see how they mix and blend but the colors are all bright and vivid.


The individual pans of color are loose in the box so they can be removed and rearranged as you’re using them. The Gansai Tambi have some of the largest pans I’ve ever seen in a watercolor set. Most starter sets feature what is called a “half-pan” which is about the size of a cellophane wrapped caramel (my husband says “like a mini marshmallow”). The Gansai Tambi pans are about 1″ x 2.5″ – which is substantially larger, so you get a lot more room to swirl your brush and can dip a much larger brush into the pan without accidentally picking up other colors. The downside is that the Gansai Tambi box is that its not particularly portable. Its definitely a desk-sized set of watercolors. It also does not have any built-in mixing areas so you may want to add a mixing dish (something like this might work) to your supplies if you are using your Gansai Tambi set regularly.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor doodles

The Gansai Tambi paints are described as “traditional Japanese watercolors” and, in use, they do seem a little different from other watercolors I’ve used. If you’re new to watercolor, what I can say is that the colors are slightly more opaque than other watercolor paints – not as much as gouache (which is a type of watercolor paint used mostly be designers and illustrators that can be very opaque and very matte in finish). The Gansai Tambi watercolors will dry with a slight shine to the paint if applied heavily.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor comparison

In an effort to get a better feel about the difference between the Ganasi Tambi watercolors and other watercolors, I decided to find similar colors in my stash and do a side-by-side comparison. I used an array of Winsor & Newton, Sennelier and Daniel Smith watercolors, both tube and pan colors to make a close match. The swatches on the left are the :regular” watercolors and the swatches on the right are the Gansi Tambi set. Does this help show how the Gansai Tambi are a bit more opaque?  I noticed it most with the black (#20 on the Gansai Tambi palette) which on the left is a lighter grey rather than a deep, solid black. I’m not saying one is better or worse, just different. And in being different, it makes the Gansai Tambi set a good investment for me. Its not just “more of the same” with this set of watercolors.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette Comparison

I marked my other watercolor samples as SEN for Sennelier, DS for Daniel Smith and W&N for Winsor & Newton. Overall, there is a lighter hue with the other watercolors than the Gansai Tambi.  I couldn’t really match the #34, my closest option was W&N Opera Rose which is practically fluorescent.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette Comparison

The colors were quite similar with the exception of the #61 sky blue, I substituted it with one of Daniel Smith’s PrimaTek paint with a mica chip in it to be as funky as the pale sky blue.

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Palette Opaque White Comparison

The last comparison I did was with the opaque white. Most watercolorists don’t use a white but a lot of designers and illustrators will add opaque white as a final detail or touch up. I compared the W&N Titanium White with Gansai Tambi white. I laid down a layer of black gesso to see how opaque these whites are. The Gansai Tambi is a nice white but the W&N Titanium White is much more opaque, especially when dry.

Now, this comparison is probably largely unfair because a lot of my professional grade watercolors cost over $10 per pan or tube. So, two pans or tubes cost the same as the whole tray of great big pans. But I thought it would be a good chance to see if the colors in the Gansai Tambis were as clean and vivid as more expensive brands. I think it did a really good job for someone just getting started with watercolors. It may not behave exactly like traditional watercolors but I think you’ll have a lot of fun using them.

All the painted test were done on a Canson Edition 100% Cotton 9×12 Drawing Pad (250gms).

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

Link Love: Have Notebook, Will Traveler?

Post of the Week:




Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

This week’s Link Love artwork is a lovely deskscape drawn by Staci Crews Horst in her Midori Traveler’s Notebook. She both showed her favorite tools and drew them in her notebook. Thanks so much to Staci for sharing her work with us! See more of her skatchbook artwork by visiting her Instagram.

Shoutout to Azizah for the drawing articles from her Sunday Reads this week!

Submit your Link Love art: To be the featured artist on an upcoming Link Love, write, draw, photograph, or doodle an original “Link Love” image. It can be lettering, calligraphy, your own interpretation of Link or anything else you think might relate to the weekly list of pen/pencil-centric blog links. Email your submission to me at chair @ Please include any link information you’d like in the image credit (your name, Twitter handle, Instagram, blog, etc). Also include any information about inks, tools, paper, etc used in your creation. Please let me know that I have permission to publish your work in Link Love and that the image is your original piece.

Preview: Karas Kustoms EDK Exclusively from MassDrop (Plus Giveaway)

Karas Kustoms EDK

Have you heard about the Karas Kustoms EDK yet? The EDK is the latest machined pen from Karas Kustoms. As the name implies, this is pen designed to be your next everyday carry (or would that be “karry”?).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

This is Karas Kustoms’ smallest pen to date. It uses the same whisper-quiet retracting mechanism as the RETRAKT. The EDK is just over 5” and the pen is just under 0.5″ wide (not including the clip). When held with the clip up, the pen is quite comfortable in the hand.  The grooves in the body provide extra grip and give the EDK a unique look when compared to other pens in the Karas Kustoms line-up. The most notable difference is the pre-weathered, tumbled finish is the EDK. It looks like its been in your pocket or in the bottom of your bag for years from the minute it arrives.

The EDK will be available in Aluminum, Brass and Copper combinations with prices ranging from $55-$105 depending on materials. The brass and copper models are a smoother finish, the aluminum is the only model that’s tumbled (or if there are aluminum sections in the model you choose).

Karas Kustoms EDK comparison

The EDK compared with (from left): Karas Kustom 2-Tone RETRAKT, Karas Kustom INK, Karas Kustoms Render K, the EDK, Kaweco Sport in aluminum and a Kaweco Liliput

The EDK ships with a Schmidt P8126 refill, a standard Parker-Style refill and capable of taking most G2-style refills if they are trimmed down to fit which gives you a whole slew of refill options.

Karas Kustoms EDK

The EDK will be available through MassDrop on Oct. 26. You can vote now and be notified the moment these become available.

Karas Kustoms EDK

In the meantime, if you’d like a chance to win this EDK, leave a comment below and tell me where the EDK will go with you.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, October 25, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. 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. 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.

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

Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pastel Set

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

After my love affair with the large set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliners I decided I needed more! So I decided to grab the Stadetler Triplus Fineliner Pastel 6-color set ($7.50). The set comes in a clear plastic case like the larger sets and are the same triangular shape and 0.3mm tips as all the other Staedtler Fineliners. The colors are water-soluble so plan accordingly.

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

In this set was a Light Carmine (pink), Peach (orange), Lime Green, Delft Blue (blue grey), Lavender (lilac purple), and Silver Gray. The only color that was a duplicate of the previous set was the grey which I was particularly disappointed about since the grey was so light in the original set. To clarify, the grey included in both of my sets was the silver grey not the standard grey pen (which is presently sold out on JetPens). The other colors can also be purchased individually for $1.30 per pen on JetPens if you want to pick and choose your colors.

Staedtler Fineliner Pastel Set

However, the other colors more than made up for my disappointment in the grey. Particularly, the Lavender and Delft Blue colors. The Lavender is a smoky plum orchid color and is just lovely. The Delft Blue is a blue grey color and totally usable for writing or drawing. The Lime is a tiny bit too light for writing but would be fun for coloring in or underlining. The Peach is actually a punchy orange color and the Light Carmine is a soft dusty pink that is quite pleasing and not too My Little Pony pink.

Overall, I’m pleased with the set. The Delft blue and Lavender colors made me giddy because the colors were so unique in the world of colored markers. All the other colors in the set are fun pastels with the exception of the grey as well. I have a feeling I’ll just pull the grey out and replace it with a black Fineliner and then this set will make a great little travel pack.

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

Planner Subscription Services

There are a bunch of planner-focused, paper goods subscription services available to help you fill your planner, notebook, or journal with colorful additions. I thought I’d give a quick round-up of the options I’ve found. I’m sure there are many others but these are the ones I either subscribe to or know someone else who does.

The thing with kit subscriptions is that you will either have to check back regularly to sign up for the kit (there’s usually a specific window when you can initially subscribe) and/or you will need to make a minimum commitment of 3- or 6-months. In exchange for this enthusiasm and/or loyalty, you can receive a variety of products from planner inserts to stickers, rubber stamps, dashboards, washi tape and more, often at prices discounted below regular retail.

Studio Calico October Planner Kit

Studio Calico: Studio Calico is a scrapbooking company that is now offering planner subscriptions. You can purchase a month-to-month ($24.99/mo) or commit to a 6-month ($22.99/mo) or 12-month ($19.99/mo) subscription for better per kit pricing. They list out all the items that will be included in the kit. I ordered this kit but only received one of the two mini rolls of tape. I don’t know if it was a packing oversight or if I ordered so late in the month that they ran out of one of the rolls of tape. The tab stickers included this month were a perfect match for my dark aqua Filofax Original. The kit also came is a nice little zip pouch that can be reused for toting supplies to and from work. Overall, it seems like a reasonable deal but its definitely a better deal if you’re willing to commit to a full year.

Get your first month’s subscription for $1 + FREE shipping!. Use promo code: WINK1DOLLAR (only valid for 6-month or one-year subscriptions)

Planner Addict Box: The Planner Addict Box is an assorted box with a reasonable price — $15/mo plus shipping. Each kit comes with an assortment of stickers, sticky notes, clips, pens and washi. The upcoming November box is already sold out but you could probably get on the list for the December box. There is no time requirement as long as you cancel the subscription within their time frame so you can essentially subscribe for one month.  For a wider representation of the products in each kit, check out their Instagram to see previous kits.

Brimbles Box: This kit comes from another well-known YouTube planner celeb, Mrs. Brimbles. The kit includes a variety of products that would appeal to anyone who enjoys decorating their journal, planner or other memory keeping book. Past kits have included  cards, stickers, washi tape, pens, rubber stamps, etc. These kits ship from the UK £15.00 / month plus shipping. Mrs Brimbles also offers a Happy Mail Box for letter writers and postcrossers and custom themed boxes like the upcoming Geek Box and an Advent Washi Tape box. There are several unboxing videos available if you’d like to see the types of products that have come in previous boxes.


Happie Planner Kit: The Happie Planner Kit comes from the Happie Scrappie web site and is the cutest of all the kits– as in Kawaii, cute overload sort of way. If you want cute, fun, silly, kawaii, then this is the kit for you. Personal-sized kits start at $12.99 plus shipping and A5 and Fauxdori kits are $15.99 each per month plus shipping.

Planner Society Kit Club from Scarlet Lime

The Planner Society Kit Club: This kit was developed by indie multi-media artist Christy Tomlinson (AKA Scarlet Lime). Kits are designed to accommodate personal- and A5-sized planners.  Kits include a selection of decorative papers, clips, washi tape, stickers and embellishments.  There is a specific window in which you can subscribe to be a member of the kit club in order for orders to be fulfilled. Many of the items are custom designed for the kits. Planner Society will be open for new subscriptions starting Nov. 1 for December kits. There is an email sign-up list to be reminded when subscriptions are open again. The standard Planner Kit Club costs $24.95 plus shipping per month and this month they introduced a new Sticker Club. Sticker Kit Club is $13.95 per month plus shipping for just the Sticker Kit or $11.95/mo with free shipping for Planner Kit Club members.

Cocoa Daisy Planner Kit

Cocoa Daisy Planner Kit: Cocoa Daisy is another scrapbook company that has moved into planners and planner kits. They offer three options: the standard planner kit ($25.99, available in A5-, Personal-, or regular Midori/Fauxdori-sized), an Add-On kit ($15/mo) for those who can’t get enough paper goodies and a Planner Pages Only Kit ($8.50/mo). The Planner Pages Only Kits are available in all three sizes as well. The nice thing with the Cocoa Daisy planner kits is that each month, you will receive fresh week-on-two pages planner pages that are printed in full color on good quality paper. If you get the full kit, it will include a variety of embellishment items that coordinate with the pages. With the A5-sized inserts, you can choose 6- or 7-hole punched or no holes. With the Personal pages, you can choose standard 6-hole punch or no holes as well so if you are retrofitting the pages to a different system, you are not locked into holes you don’t want or need. The DaisyDori kit includes a monthly bound booklet to kit a standard Midori/Fauxdori notebook plus embellishments. Passport sized inserts are available as a printable.


Reset Girl Listers Gotta List: While the Listers Gotta List Kits aren’t specifically for planners. The Reset Girl developed the kits to compliment her monthly list-a-day challenge often done in Midori or Fauxdori notebooks. The contents of the kits include rubber stamps, stickers, decorative papers and washi tape that all work great for journals and planners. This kit does not require a subscription but there is a limited number of kits available. Current kit sells for $36.

Mister Ghost’s Highly Enviable Monthly Parcel of Simple Yet Amazing Wonderments: A Monthly Parcel of Evil Paper Goods: Each kit includes a 9″ x 12″ art print, two 32-page, pocket notebooks, two and two small stickers. Kits are available as a subscription or as a single purchase. The current kif is #007 and is available for purchase through October 31. The kit will ship out in late October or early November. And while not specifically a “planner” kit, the elements included are perfect for the planner with a humorously dark side.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 9.03.05 PM

Ali Edwards Story Kit: The Story kit is not specifically planner-related but more like a  scrapbooking or Project Life-style memory keeping kit. However, the products included in The Story Kit  ($24.99 for month-to-month, $21.99/mo for 6-month subscription and $19.99/mo for a year’s subscription) include many of the same items found in planner kits and are beautifully designed. There are small decorative cards, stamps, stickers, clips and embellishments  — all things found in most planner kits. Story Kits include free shipping in the US and a $2 surcharge for international shipping). Themes are revealed on the 15th of the month.

If having new things to embellish and decorate your planner or journal will help you stay excited to fill in that next entry or new month, then it may be a small price to pay to join one of these kit clubs. Please be sure to read all the fine print before you sign up and verify that shipping is available to your country and just how much it will be.

So far I’ve signed up for three different kit clubs but I’ve only received materials from one of them. While I don’t feel like any of  these are necessarily a big discount from buying proudcts individually, they offer a nicely, curated collection of themed materials and a little bit of joy in my mailbox each month. And with some of the kits, the materials in the kits are exclusive to the kits.

Ask The Desk: Retro 51 Refills


Daisy asked:

Just got myself a new Retro 51 Tornado (Nine Lives edition) but I am a bit overwhelmed by potential refills. I like a fine black line, and ideally ink that won’t run when highlighted. Can you help narrow down my options? This may be heresy, but I’m not sure if I prefer ballpoint or rollerball, so suggestions for either or both would be good :)

I followed up with Daisy to determine exactly what size nib she preferred and she confirmed that she likes the Uni Jetstream in 0.5 and the Uni Style Fit in 0.4 and 0.5.

If you want to stick with a rollerball, the Schmidt P8126 Capless Rollerball in fine would be a good option. Or you could follow  Mike Rohde’s technique and just cut down a Pilot Juice or Pilot G2 refill or Mike’s favorite, the Pentel Energel. You can either buy a regular pen with one of these refills in it, or purchase a refill from your favorite retailer. My best recommendation is to open up some of the pens laying around your workspace and see if they might fit. If I find a pen I like, I always try to open it up to see if it will fit into my favorite pens. I hope that helps!

Retro 1951 + Pentel EnerGel Refill Hacking



Hello, fine readers!

I just wanted to let you know I cleaned up my Links page. I added a bunch of new links and removed a few that hadn’t been updated in over a year. If you are currently blogging about pens, paper, ink or planners and are not on the list, use the Ask The Desk link at the top of the page to send me a link to your site.

Also, it was brought to my attention that my Instagram link was crap so I fixed it. If you want to follow me on Instagram, give that link over there on the right a try. Its under the “Follow The Desk” header — lots of cute little icons so you can stalk me just about anywhere.

That’s all, folks!

Fashionable Friday: Dark Roast


You can blame thank my good pal Kasey for this week’s theme idea. We started talking coffee yesterday and POOF! the idea got stuck in my head. It feels appropriately fall-ish too because who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee and/or a good bit of chocolate when the air turns cool?

  • Caran D’ache 849 Totally Swiss Chocolate ballpoint 27,50 € (via Fontoplumo)
  • Rhodia Rhodiarama Chocolate Lined Notebook $18 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Private Reserve Chocolat Fast Dry Ink $11 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Choco Magnet in Bitter $7.01 (via JetPens)
  • J. Herbin Cafe des Iles Ink $11 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Acme Business Card Case Cafe Creme from the Ali Hall Accessory Collection $39 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Pelikan Classic 200 Cafe Creme Fountain Pen $172 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Notebook in Chocolate with Dot Grid $18.95 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Karas Pen Co Standard Notebooks $3.33 each (via Karas Kustoms)
  • Zebra Limited Edition Sarasa Clip Chupa Chups Chocolate Vanilla Scented Gel Pen in 0.5 mm with black ink $3 (via JetPens)
  • Conklin All American Fountain Pen in Tortoiseshell with 1.1mm Stub $76 (via Goulet Pens)

The coffee mug featured this week is my favorite mug and comes from our local coffee shop The Filling Station. If you’re even in Kansas City, stop by one of their locations and grab yourself a cup of their fabulous coffee (roasted right here in KC at Messenger Coffee) and one of their perfectly appropriate mugs. I also love the “Your Mom Drinks Decaf” mug but they are always sold out when I go in!

Why Does All This Matter: A manifesto of sorts.


I’ve been thinking lately about all this “stuff” that we collect, the pens, art tools, drawing tools, notebooks, sketchbooks — all the mark-making, list-making and note-taking tools and I had to ask myself, what purpose do they serve?

I believe that these tools inspire us and ignite our individual urges to create. They free our creativity and sometimes even fuel them. Each pen, ink, notebook, pencil or scrap of paper gives us an excuse to tuck ourselves into our little paper world and spend some time with our thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, they make the icky tasks more palatable — why not turn your grocery list into a place to practice your calligraphy or drawing skills?


I believe that all these tools should bring you joy (Don’t write with a crappy pen! Don’t draw on crappy paper!). I believe that these tools and toys should inspire each of us to take out of the busy, hectic or mundane moments of our lives to make something — whether its as simple as a note or letter to someone, or as epic as writing on opera.

If buying a new pen, a new bottle of ink or some other doodad will compel you to sit down for 15 minutes and coax out an idea, a doodle, a story or a memory, then do it. Buy that pen. You DO need that notebook. Just don’t let shopping for that “perfect” whatever get in the way of actually doing/making/writing/composing/planning something.

Carve out time to paint, doodle, color, stitch, sketch, write, make lists, whatever. Because, in the end, we all meet our end. Let’s take this precious time we have to leave our mark. That why this matters.

(Shout out to all those folks who write about being passionate, inspired and creative above all else. Big thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and her new book Big Magic. Love and hugs to everyone else. You know who you are.)


Winner: J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

First up is the winner of the full bottle of J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor, compliments of JetPens.

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Congrats to Y! I hope you like Emerald of Chivor and that J. Herbin hears our cries for other sparkly colors, including a sparkly gold-orange. I’ll contact you via email to get shipping information.

And next up is the winner of the sample bottle of pre-production Emerald of Chivor (compliments of Rhodia Drive):

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Congrats to Andrew as well! I hope you will enjoy and appreciate this little piece of inky history. And again, I’ll be contacting you via email to arrange shipping.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry, I wish I had 117 bottle of ink but alas, I do not. Maybe next time!

And finally, a great big thanks to Goulet Pens for the test bottle I received. It takes a village sometimes!

Link Love: Black & White & Green Ink All Over




Paper & Notebooks:

Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:

Submit your Link Love art: To be the featured artist on an upcoming Link Love, write, draw, photograph, or doodle an original “Link Love” image. It can be lettering, calligraphy, your own interpretation of Link or anything else you think might relate to the weekly list of pen/pencil-centric blog links. Email your submission to me at chair @ Please include any link information you’d like in the image credit (your name, Twitter handle, Instagram, blog, etc). Also include any information about inks, tools, paper, etc used in your creation. Please let me know that I have permission to publish your work in Link Love and that the image is your original piece.

Review: Sharpie Pen Retractable

Sharpie Pen Retractable

Several weeks ago, I put a shout out on the internet asking if Sharpie made a retractable version of their Pen. Within minutes, I got replies back (all kindly withholding the urge to say “Duh, Ana! Of course they do!”). Indeed, there is a retractable version of the Sharpie Pen. So I immediately hustled out to my local big box office supply store and nabbed a pack of two. I only saw the retractable version available in black but do let me know if you’ve seen any of the colors available as well.

Sharpie Pen Retractable

Aesthetically, the most notable difference is that the Sharpie Pen retractable features a much wider barrel. The size in the hand is comparable to a Dr. Grip, multi-pen or biggie crayon as opposed to the capped Sharpie Pen which is just a little wider than a Marvy Le Pen.

This bigger grip is probably to allow room for the mechanism that covers the pen opening to keep the ink from drying out. Unlike a gel or ballpoint pen, felt tips cannot be left exposed to the air indefinitely or they will dry out.

There are a few other design modifications to the retractable model. There is a grippy rubber at the grip section which make the wider pen comfortable to hold. The clip is metal and much more traditional looking than the plastic clip on the capped model.

Finally, the retracting button is one of the longest retracting mechanisms I’ve ever seen. I compared it to the manual clutch on an old Toyota truck. The retracting button is full thumb extension for me like that old truck was full leg extension. Its not a good or bad thing, just unusual. If it lets me retract the tip of a Sharpie pen, I’m willing to suffer thumb hyperextension. It’l probably keep me from nervously clicking the button in meetings for fear of a repetitive stress injury.

Sharpie Pen Retractable writing sample

In terms of overall performance, the Sharpie Pen retractable has all the same features that made me fall in love with the original capped model: waterproof, non-toxic, acid-free ink; fine tip and good black ink color.

If you previously found the standard Sharpie Pen to be too narrow in the barrel or prefer retractable pens, the Sharpie Pen retractable is going to be the perfect upgrade. A 2-pack is $6.25 from JetPens. The price for the retractable is a bit higher than it is for the standard capped Pen but its worth it if you find yourself capping and upcapping your pen all day. Click, click! Done!

Planner Review: Leuchtturm1917 2016 Planner

Leuchtturm1917 Planner 2016

Somehow, no matter where my planning path takes me, I always manage to come back to the classic hardbound planner like the Leuchtturm1917 A5 planner. It really does have all the parts and pieces needed to plan out my schedule, take notes and basically stay on top of things. And it does all this in a relatively small package without sacrificing writing real estate.


Just to give a bit of size comparison, I sandwiched the Leuchtturm 1917 between my personal-sized Filofax Original in dark aqua and my A5-sized Finsbury in aqua (thanks to MJ for this beauty!) The paper size of the Leuchtturm 1917 planner is exactly the same as the A5 Filofax but it takes up considerably less space.


From the side, the Leuchtturm 1917 is also much slimmer but you get the idea. If one of your goals for 2016 is to trim down your daily carry, the Leuchtturm 1917 planner may be the first item on your wishlist.

Now, back to the details of the planner —

The Luechtturm1917 planner features the same soft ivory paper as regular Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks and all the printing is in a light, warm grey that is subtle and not distracting at all. It makes for a very clean looking planner.

The book features two grosgrain ribbon bookmarks with (JOY!) sealed ends. One marker is solid and the other is striped. I think the grey-and-teal striped marker is fabulous!

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner year at a glance

Inside the Leuchtturm 1917 Planner is year-at-a-glance calendars for 2015, 2016 and 2017 which makes it easy to reference for forward planning. The year-at-a-glance include week numbers. Next is a month-at-a-glance laid out vertically and include the moon phases. Each page had three months on it for a total of four pages of month-at-a-glance. Then comes a two-page spread of international holidays for 2016. Only the dates are listed, not the actual holiday, so if you don’t know why July 5 and 6 are holidays in the Czech Republic, you can make something up.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner project planner section

Then there is a project planning section. I did a little googling to try to figure out how this section would be used. Say you are having the roof repaired on your house and the contractor says it’ll take two weeks and they will start the first week of April, you’d write roof repair in the first box and then at the first week of April draw a line or dot or “x” then another in the second box under April. Then you could plan your mother-in-law’s visit after those two weeks. I’m not sure how useful these pages would be for me as I’m more inclined to use a month-at-a-glance calendar for these sorts of activities but it seems interesting.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner week on one page plus notes

Then comes the meat of the planner — the week-on-one-page plus notes layout that occupies the majority of the book. Saturday and Sunday share the bottom box which I’m not thrilled with but the full page for notes would provide any additional space I might need for weekend tasks, projects or events. At the bottom of each page is the week number again and the holidays are marked by country abbreviations. The moon phases are also shown in the weekly pages.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner extras

At the end of the book are 20 blank pages: 10 pages have perforation to make them easy to tear out. In the back in a bright white writing board with grid on one side and lines on the other in a dark black to act as a guide sheet with the blank pages. Also included is a set of stickers for labelling the spine and cover of your planner and a small cahier address book that can be tucked into the back gusseted pocket.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner pocket

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests

I did some rigorous pen testing and found that most fine nibbed fountain pens and felt tips worked well on the paper. Of course, ballpoint and gel pens performed exceedingly well. Since the paper is slightly ivory, the yellow mildliner was too light to be much use but traditional yellow highlighters and other colors of mildliners should work just fine.

Leuchtturm1917 2016 planner ink tests reverse side

From the reverse of the pen tests you can see a little bit of show through with the Franklin Christoph medium italic and the Pilot Varsity with standard medium nib. I also got a bit of show through from the TWSBI Mini with Callifolio Oliphants but I think that’s the ink more than the pen itself.

The book I received is called “Emerald” but its more of a teal, blue-green. I think the color is magnificent. While I believe that the emerald green color is the absolute best color option, Leuchtturm 1917 has provided eight other colors to choose from for their planners including a classic navy, black and grey as well as radiant shades of lemon, berry, orange, azure blue and purple if emerald green ain’t your thing. The A5 size planner is available from Goulet Pens for $19.95 per book.

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

Got Plans Monday Night? How About Some Erasable?

If you’re not too busy on Monday night, you might want to pop over to the Erasable podcast to hear me and the guys talking about colored pencils. That’s right, I’m going to be a guest on Erasable! I’ve been itching to discuss colored pencils at length so I hope they are ready for me to blather on!

Colored pencils

The show will be live recorded on Monday night (Oct 12, 2015 — Columbus Day!)  at 8:30ET/5:30PT and the live chat will be happening on Mixlr. I recommend getting signed up for Mixlr a bit before the show and joining in about 15 minutes prior to recording to ask questions and get your buzz going.

If you can’t make it for the live recording, the edited episode will be up the available on Tuesday at!

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor (plus giveaway!)

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

First, I want to say a huge thanks to JetPens, Goulet Pens and Rhodia Drive for all coming through for me and getting me this much-coveted ink. They are all responsible for allowing me to review this product and give some goodies away. Now, on the the review and giveaway details!

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been waiting to ink this ink in my hands and, by now, you and I have seen dozens of other reviews of this ink. So, there’s probably not a lot I could say that hasn’t already been said. But bear with me…

Maybe I could tell you that before the name was settled upon, Emerald of Chivor was called “Emeraude des Ardes v.2”? This tidbit of information came from the sample bottle that Rhodia sent to me. Pretty cool, huh?


J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

Before I shook up the inks, you can see the gold flecks floating at the bottom. Such a beautiful sea blue-green!

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor

Sadly, when I photographed my full writing page, you don’t see much of the sparkle. The flash flattens out all the color. At the same time, in my TWSBI 580 in green with a fine nib, not much of the sparkle showed in the writing anyway. These types of twinkly inks definitely benefit from a stub, broad or italic nib in order to show them in their full glory.

However, the color is amazing! With or without the sparkles.

J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink comparison

When compared with my ever-growing collection of teal blue inks, there is a vibrancy to the Emerald of Chivor that is lacking in the other contenders in this color category. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are all beautiful colors. The Emerald of Chivor is definitely more bluish than Ku-Jaku or Yama Dori. The Callifolio Olifants is a tad more blue than the Chivor. So if you’re looking for ink in a similar color family but sparkle-free, any of these others are good options with Callifolio Olifants and Noodler’s Air Corps Blue Black being the most wallet friendly.

I’ve left the EoC in my 580 for over a week, gave it a little twirl to mix in the gold fleck and started writing with no issues. I’ve heard there’s some challenges cleaning it out but so far I’m not having any clogging issues so I am really happy with this ink.

So what can I do to wow you with the new Emerald of Chivor?  I can giveaway a whole bottle of Emerald of Chivor (thanks to JetPens for this bottle!) and the runner-up will get the super, rare sample bottle of Emerald of Chivor BEFORE the name was settled upon (thanks to Rhodia for this!). While to color is identical, its a cool little bit of ink history.

Leave a comment below and tell me what sparkly color you think J. Herbin should do next to be entered to win. I’ll draw two winners: the first will get a full bottle of J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor and the second will get the preliminary sample bottle.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winners will be announced on Thursday. 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. 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.

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

Fashionable Friday: Mad For Plaid


What can I say? It looks like plaid is the new black!

  • Platinum 3776 Century Black Rhodium Fountain Pen $162 (via Pen Chalet)
  • “Checking In” Desktop Pattern Free (via Kate Spade)
  • Adam Lippes for Target 4-piece Melamine Tray Set in Red Plaid $25 (via Target)
  • Plaid Notebooks $8 (via Yellow Owl Workshop)
  • Adam Lippes for Target 3-Pack Mini Journals $10 (via Target)
  • Trois Temps Carreaux Cover in A6 Size for Hobonichi Planner and Hobonichi Techo Original, available in November 2,376 yen (via
  • TWSBI Diamond 580 RB fountain pen €59 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Victorinox Signature Red Multi-tool $19.95 (via Goldpot Pens)
  • De Atramentis Black Edition Black Red Ink $12.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Camp Director Tote in Plaid $29.99 — 50% off! (via ModCloth)
  • Adam Lippes for Target Pencil Set in Mixed Plaid $10 (via Target)
  • Hobonichi Techo Weeks 2016 in Thomas Mason Red Plaid ¥2,268 (via
  • Pilot Iroshizuku 15 ml Mini Ink in Asa-gao $14 (via JetPens)
  • Jinhao X750 Fountain Pen in Checkered $8 (via JetPens)
  • Retro 51 Big Shot Tornado Rollerball in Glen Plaid $28 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Zebra Fullst 0.5 mm Mechanical Pencil in Plaid Black $3.30 (via JetPens)
  • Delta Serena Fountain Pen in Red $108 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Lochcarron of London Royal Stewart A6 Size Zipper Cover for Hobonichi Planner and Hobonichi Techo Original, available in October ¥5,940 (via

Ask The Desk: DDC Editions

rp_askthedesk_hdr21.pngLori asks:

I hope you can answer this. How often does Draplin Design come out with DDC Field Notes? I’d like to buy a set one of these days.

Lori, I went straight to Field Notes HQ (AKA Coudal Partners) and asked my good buddy Bryan. His answer mirrored my suspicions. DDC editions are released whenever Mr. Draplin feels like making them. My best advice is to add the Draplin blog to your RSS feed and hope for the best. Also, join the Field Nuts group on Facebook. If anyone is going to hear about a DDC Field Notes edition, it will be the folks there. Good luck on the hunt!

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak

Do you have a pen, paper, planner or pencil question? Use the “Ask the Desk” link in the top menu bar to email me and I’ll do my best to try to answer it.

Link Love: Who Put All That Sparkle in My Ink?!?!




Planners & Organizers:

Other Interesting Things:


Curious? How do you pronounce Miquelrius? Best guess is Mee kell ree us (Thanks, internet and Google search!)

Submit your Link Love art: To be the featured artist on an upcoming Link Love, write, draw, photograph, or doodle an original “Link Love” image. It can be lettering, calligraphy, your own interpretation of Link or anything else you think might relate to the weekly list of pen/pencil-centric blog links. Email your submission to me at chair @ Please include any link information you’d like in the image credit (your name, Twitter handle, Instagram, blog, etc). Also include any information about inks, tools, paper, etc used in your creation. Please let me know that I have permission to publish your work in Link Love and that the image is your original piece.

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