Reconsidering Moleskine

moleskine covers

I’m fully prepared for backlash and vitriol from this post, but, over the years, Moleskine continues to be the measure used — for better or worse — for all other notebooks. First and foremost, Moleskine notebooks are available in a multitude of sizes, configurations and form factors. The overall aesthetics are streamlined and understated. While you might not love them, its hard to truly dislike them. If anything, they are plain. And they are ubiquitous. You can buy them almost anywhere: the airport, the bookstore, the coffeeshop or your favorite boutique.

What really spurred me was a recent comment that suggested that the paper stock used in the Moleskine Cahier, Volant and standard Moleskine Notebooks was different. Well, that gave me something worthy of investigation.

So, I bought one of each at the standard large size (5″x8.25″ or 13x21cm slightly smaller than A5), new, off-the-shelf from my local Barnes & Noble. I wanted to make sure I had recent editions and not ones that had been sitting on my shelves for months or years that may have been manufactured with different paper stock. I purchased all plain notebooks since I like to use guide sheets and Moleskine paper is very conducive to using your own guide sheets as the paper is not super thick. Of course, all the Moleskine notebooks are also available in other colored covers but I went with plain black. The Cahier I couldn’t find a black version so I went with grey as the next best option for neutral.

I also tested the week-on-two-pages planner for 2016, also with the soft cover, which I got through Jenni Bick. I was curious if the process of adding printing created any coating on the paper that might alter ink adhesion in any way so the planner is my monkey wrench in the testing process.

Of course, my expectations are not that the Moleskine notebooks are all of a sudden 100% fountain pen friendly or anything like that but there are many readers who don’t need all-day, everyday fountain pen friendly paper. And there are lots of other notebooks that we often rely on heavily that don’t support fountain pens the way we wish they would like the Baron Fig, Field Notes, or Word Notebooks.

As pen and pencil aficionados, we also love gels, rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils, felt tips, brushes and all sorts of other mark-making tools. And sometimes, we need something that is easy to find in the size that fits our favorite Fauxdori, Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter or whatever other carryall or pocket we need to stuff with paper.

Format No. of books Pages/book total pages cover material binding extras MSRP
Plain Softcover

1

192

192

leatherette perfect bound, stitched ribbon bookmark, gusset pocket

$19.95

Volant

2

96

192

plastic perfect bound, stitched sticker sheet, all pages are perforated

$13.95

Cahier

3

80

240

cardstock paperboard exposed stitching glued slit pocket, last 16 pages perforated in each book

$13.95

First things first… a spreadsheet of specs!

The first thing I noticed when I put together my spreadsheet is that the Cahier 3-set is a better price value, page-per-page, than the Volant or the soft cover notebook, sales or discounted pricing notwithstanding. Of course, the covers are not as durable but the Cahier sets include the perforated pages in the back and the pocket so there are still some “extras”. I just thought it was interesting to note.

My experience with the large, soft cover plain notebook is pretty much identical to the XL version. The paper behaved as well as I expected and I’m finding that the flexible cover is a good compromise between the classic hard cover Moleskine notebook and a floppy paper cover. The soft leatherette cover actually feels very nice in hand and allows the cover to be folded back or to lay flat as I need it. It also slims the book ever so slightly so its not quite as bulky overall. The soft cover notebook still includes the gusseted pocket in the back, ribbon bookmark and the vertical elastic like the classic hard cover version.

The covers on the Volant feel the most rugged of the three. They are more plasticky feeling than the leatherette quality of the soft cover which feel more supple and upscale. However, I do like that all the pages in the Volant are perforated as an option. If you are looking for a notebook that could be used for lists and leave-behind notes, the Volant offers the easiest flexibility.  There are no extras in the Volant — no ribbon bookmarks or pockets in the Volant so its a very stripped down and streamlined notebook. The writing sample on the Volant was absolutely consistent with the plain notebook. My husband voted the Volant his favorite.

The Cahier notebooks are lovely to look at with the exposed stitching and the kraft paper covers. However, the paper in the Cahier did seem to be more inclined to feather the fountain pen inks than in either the Volant or the soft cover or the planner. Even the J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor in my TWSBI EF behaved nicely in all but the Cahier. Now I don’t know if the Cahier paper behavior was a fluke but it even shadowed and bled to the reverse more than the other three. Maybe that’s part of why its a slightly better price value? You get what you pay for?

Finally, for comparison, I also tested the week-on-two-pages 2016 Weekly Planner (with the same soft cover as the plain notebook) to verify that, in printing, the paper quality didn’t change. I used all the same pens with the same inks as I did on the plain paper which I assume was not run through printing press and the results were consistent with the plain notebook and the Volant. The Cahier paper still seems to be a little more absorbent than any of the other papers but generally speaking the printing lines don’t seem to alter the quality of the paper. So if your preference is lined or graph paper, Moleskine notebooks will withstand the same scrutiny that the plain books do.

One of the things I really enjoy about the Moleskine paper is the warm white color and the smoothness of the stock. The warm white color is very inviting and easy on the eyes. I find it less intimidating than a stark, bright white sheet found in other notebooks.

moleskine2-1

(Click on image to view full size)

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(Click on image to view full size)

For the writing tests, I left the full-sized images available to view so that you can get as up-close and personal with these photos as you’d like. As you can see, with most everyday, fine line pens the Moleskine paper performed pretty well. Even fine fountain pens were mostly well-behaved. I particularly like how felt tip pens pens behave on Moleskine paper like the Sharpie Pen and Staedtler Triples Fineliners. They sort of grip along and make lovely marks.

Because the Moleskine paper is very smooth, if you do prefer a very fine writing tool, you are unlikely to snag an 0.25mm on the tooth of the paper. Pencils also glide across the paper. Even the finest Pilot Hi-Tec C, Energel Needletip or (my current favorite) Platinum Carbon Pen, skates across the paper. Despite the issues with some fountain pens and fountain pen inks, many writing tools are a joy on Moleskine paper.

Since most of my daily writing and drawing work is done with a 0.5mm or smaller tool, the Moleskine paper is really quite adequate. And all of the plain paper performed the same. What I did notice was that heat or moisture from my hand could affect the paper. Its not heavyweight paper by any means but honestly, neither is Tomoe River. Sure, Tomoe doesn’t feather but its transparent and takes an age to dry so there are trade-off’s with any notebook or paper you may choose.

moleskine2-4

(Click on image to view full size)

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Reverse of pages. (Click on image to view full size)

From the reverse of the pages, you can see some ghosting and show through on the top row which is the planner and the Cahier but not so much as to be distracting when written on the other side. With the plain paper notebooks, I tend to only use one side of the paper anyway. For the planner, I use mostly color coded gel pens for daily use so they don’t show through as much as the testing actually demonstrates. Generally speaking, the reverse of the pen tests were not as bad as I was expecting them to be. Of course, I didn’t try a lot of wide calligraphy fountain pens but even my brush pens behaved with some discretion.

So, in the end, the Cahier paper does seem to be a little thinner, and a little lower quality,  than the paper used in the Volant and standard notebooks. I’d be more inclined to recommend the Volant and the soft cover notebooks over the Cahier if you’re going to dip your toe back in the Moleskine pool.

Part of what spurred my interest in all this Moleskine business was when I started using my Moleskine XL for a daily sketchbook late last year. I’ve warmed back up to the possibilities of the Moleskine notebooks. I’ve carried the XL everyday, to and from work, doodled, written, stamped, scribbled, watercolored and basically treated it as the workhorse object it was designed to be treated. To no ill effects. For three months. I’m happy to keep drawing in it. In fact I look forward to continuing to fill the pages and THAT is why we have notebooks. This goes back to the whole reason I keep a notebook — so that I write and draw and make marks.

I think whatever notebook makes you want to make marks, write your story, save your memories, doodle, scrawl or write your grocery list, don’t feel guilty about it. If you love a Moleskine, use it. If you prefer an Italian embossed leather notebook purchased on the Bridge of Sighs, than use that. The best notebook is the one you have with you, no matter which one you choose.

Review: Koi Watercolor Brush Pens 12-Color Set

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I was introduced to the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens 12-color set ($27)  by way of Lisa Condon’s blog, Today Is Going To Be To Be Awesome. She had a post on her sidebar about her favorite tools to use for drawing and illustration and one of her recommended pens for sketchbook use were the 12-color set of Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

The pens are felt-tipped and shaped like a paint brush tip. The colors are bright, clean and vivid and are water soluble so they will blend together easily allowing the 12-color set to extend itself into a wider range of colors by blending the colors together.

If you do blend the colors together, be sure to have a piece of scratch paper handy because the colors will migrate from pen to pen and you’ll want to clean off any color transfer that might occur in the process though this can also create some interesting an unexpected results. Just be prepared.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

The set comes in a plastic sleeve but I prefer to dump out all my pens immediately into a pen case or a cup so they are handy and accessible. If they are all locked away in a protective sleeve, I find they don’t get used which is a waste.  Rolling around on my desk, I wrote notes, doodled, colored and generally just enjoyed the bright vivid colors all week which was welcomed in the bleak January days I have to say!

The black pen in the set is also water soluble so I would not recommend using it as an outliner and then trying to go back and fill in with colors as the black will migrate. The word “KOI” on my sample has darker colors because the black started to creep into the center. If you want to do outlining in black brush pen and then use the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens instead which are permanent and then add color with the Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I think these pens might spend a little time out with our coloring books this week and see how it plays there. I’d also like to add in a little light water brush to lighten the colors a bit and help to blend so that the colors will play even more like watercolor. I did try a water brush after photographing the samples and the colors do continue to blend even several hours later so these will definitely be lots of fun to play with. A very clean, portable way to use watercolors on the go! And, wow! Are the colors ever bright and clean and juicy!


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.

Monday 1/11 is World Sketchnote Day!

wsd-logo-600px

Mike Rohde and his Sketchnote Army has had a profound effect on many of you, myself included, and I’m excited to celebrate World Sketchnote Day on Monday, January 11. That’s right, let’s spend the day sketch noting everything! Your breakfast! That boring meeting! The guy on the bus! The five things on the top of your bucket list! The best things your kids have ever said! Whatever! Doodle, illustrate, elaborate!

You can sign up on the the Sketchnote Army site to win fabulous prizes and tell how you’ll be celebrating the joys of Sketchnoting. Prizes are being offered from Astropad, Cultpens, JetPens, Betabook, Baron Fig, Moleskine, Bullet Journal, Sketchnote Handbook, awesome Sketchnoters and more!

You can ask professional Sketchnoters for tips and techniques throughout the day.

There’s lot’s of other ways to celebrate and participate too. Visit the Sketchnote Army site to see the whole list.

No matter what you do, work that hashtag: #SNDay2016

Fashionable Friday: Wintry Blue “It” Bag

Fashionable Friday: Wintry It Bag

Please forgive me… This week’s Fashionable Friday is so self-serving. I treated myself to a very special Christmas gift this year: a new fancy-pants Kate Spade Newbury Lane Loden handbag in blue hydrangea. It was in her secret sale so I got it WAY on sale. And Santa kindly wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas tree for me. So, of course, now I need to make sure all my accessories coordinate. Its so perfectly snow bunny icy blue that I love it for its wintry colors. So bear with me while I fantasize.

  • Kate Spade Newbury Lane Loden handbag in blue hydrangea (no longer available from Kate Spade but may find similar on Amazon)
  • Rhodia Silver Webnotebook 5.5″ x 8.3″ Lined $24 (via JetPens)
  • Rifle Paper Co. Garance Dore Notebook B6 Soft Cover New York-Paris $24.95AU (via Notemaker)
  • Diamine Shimmering Fountain Pen Ink in Sparkling Shadows $20 (via JetPens)
  • Lamy CP1 Fountain Pen in Platinum with Extra Fine Gold Nib $56 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Pilot Stargazer Fountain Pen in Pearl White with Fine Gold Nib $152 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Kaweco Sport Skyline fountain pen in mint €18,95 (via Fontoplumo)
  • CDT HB Pencils $6.50 for box of 3 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Faber-Castell Ambition Fountain Pen in Aqua Op Art with Medium Nib $100 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Sailor Pro Gear Slim Four Seasons Yukitsubaki Winter MF Fountain Pen $155.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Karas Kustoms Retrakt Rollerball Pen Aluminium Grey £42.50 incl. VAT (via Cult Pens)
    Diamine Grey Ink $14.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Filofax Saffiano Gold Shimmer Personal Organizer $54 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • 18K Gold Plated Keychain with Plush Rabbit Fur Pompom Key Chain Bag Charm in gray $2.17 (via Amazon)

Review: Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch

Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch

Over the holidays I had added a couple of budget-y priced, portable corner rounders to my Amazon cart. When they arrived I was sorely disappointed. They left nicks in the paper and didn’t have anything to catch the little paper flecks so I was leaving a trail all over my office, the coffee shop and the floor. So when I placed my last order with JetPens, I saw the Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch ($7.25) and decided to give it a try instead since I was swearing a blue streak at the crap ones I had bought previously.

Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch

Crappy cheap corner punches

Crappy cheap corner punch

Boy, am I ever glad I upgraded! While the Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch is a bit larger than the others I purchased, the kidney bean space makes it comfortably ergonomic in the hand. It also has a little trap door on the bottom to catch the paper scraps.

Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch back view

Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch paper catch

When used, the Sun-Star clicks firmly so you know you have successfully rounded your corner and it makes a perfect clean edge. I found it works particularly well on card stock like index cards and 3x5s. Lighter weight paper worked better if I put two or three sheets in at a time.

Overall the Sun-Star Kadomarun Round Corner Punch is totally worth the price if you like to round the corners of your printables, index cards or paper goods. Its a fun, easy little device to have on hand and makes your pieces look finished fast.


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: Looking Forward, Looking Back

rp_link-ana1111111111111111-1-1.jpgPens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper & Notebooks:

(Plugging the Firm: I had the honor of illustrating a New Year’s Eve cocktail recipe for the Hallmark creativity blog, Think.Make.Share. The recipe was created by our Creative V.P. and I used my vintage gold rimmed coupe martini glasses as inspiration for his Winter in Manhattan cocktails. I used a Platinum Carbon Pen and Peerless Watercolors in a Strathmore multimedia sketchbook. Artwork was scanned and cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop. Get the full scoop here.)

Other Interesting Things:

Downloadables, Desktop Wallpapers & Goodies:

(Pantone Color of the Year 2016: Thursday Things from Goulet Pens)

(Pantone Color of the Year 2016: Thursday Things from Goulet Pens)

More Books for the Pen & Paper Set

The Notebooks by Jean-Micheal BasquiatThe Notebooks Hardcover by Jean-Michel Basquiat is a reproduction of pieces from eight of his handwritten notebooks that Jean-Michael Basquiat kept filled with strings of words and phrases and doodles. The book recreates a simple composition notebook and Basquiat’s recognizably 80’s street-style all caps writing style in what looks like a felt tip or Sharpie marker. Are these overheard snippets, words that popped into his head, things he saw or a combination of all of these? It looks like a fascinating glimpse into what a notebook can be. Its not a perfect documentation of his life or his work or his motivation but things that may have inspired or fascinated Basquiat in those moments and leave us to wonder. If you are a fan of Basquiat’s art, there are not a lot of drawings included but if you are curious about notebooks and writing, this might be a fascinating glimpse into the power and potential of notebook-keeping.

(Tip o’ the hat to The Cramped for bringing this to my attention)

The Red NotebookI recently read The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain which is a short novel about a man who finds a woman’s handbag and uses the contents, including an enticingly entertaining red Moleskine journal to find the owner. In the process, a bit of a fascination ensues. I found the book to be part Amelie and part While You Were Sleeping. It felt very cinematic in its writing and was a lovely, enjoyable read. If you want to whisked away on a Parisian getaway filled with quirky characters and a whimsical plot then I recommend spending an evening with The Red Notebook. I devoured it in about two evenings and it was just what I needed in these midst of the hectic, stressful holiday season.

The Little Paris BookshopNext on my “to read” pile is a book called The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George about a floating barge bookshop upon which the proprietor can recommend a book to mend a broken heart. Of course, the proprietor too suffers from a unmended broken heart which is what must be repaired in the course of the story with the help of friends and an adventure. Sounds like a charming and delightful tale.

I’ll probably tip into The Little Paris Bookshop as soon as I finish Letters to the Lost which I mentioned in my last post. I’m well into that already and I’m quite enjoying it. I look forward to the book club discussion next month!

Ask The Desk: Address Books (Fountain Pen Friendly and/or Refillable)

Amy asks:

Any suggestions for an address and occasion book that is fountain pen friendly? I don’t want a full blown planner/calendar. A bonus would be refillable pages. Thanks!!!

I keep rolling this over in my mind. There are a lot of possibilities for an address book.

Filofax Cotton Cream Address Pages

You could actually use a Filofax or other ring bound notebook as just an address book. This would give you the flexibility of choosing exactly the size you want. You could print your own address pages or purchase a printable using paper of your choice thereby satisfying the fountain pen friendly equation. And it would be infinitely refillable. But yes, there’s some legwork and set-up involved in this particular option.

If you don’t already own a ring-bound planner, you’d need to purchase one. New planners usually ship with a full set of inserts unless you buy them secondhand so there may be elements wasted. Then you’d have to find address tabs; buy, print or make contacts pages and assemble the whole thing. Once completed however, you are basically done. Once in awhile, you might need to print some new pages or update existing pages but it would be a self-sustaining system. As someone who owns about a half a dozen planners, I’m thinking I might just turn one of them into an address book because this is a brilliant idea and a way for me to put one of my many planners to use.

 

Hallmark Address Book

Hallmark Cards continues to produce address books including its own 6-hole binders which you can purchase replacement sheets. The paper quality is up for debate. I’ve used a 6-ring binder for several years and some pens bleed a little, others don’t at all. Its a heavier weight paper but it doesn’t seem to have any sizing on it so its hit or miss. And again, I have not been able to test every book in their store to determine if its specific to a range of products.  Prices range from $9.95 to $24.95.

There are some lovely bound address books that are available as well.

paperblanks address book

Paperblanks address book

Paperblanks makes lovely notebooks and their line of address books are no exception. These are bound books but stand up reasonably well to fine and medium nib fountain pens and are elegant to boot. Jenni Bick sells several options with prices ranging $18.95 and $21.95.

Moleskine address book

While not known to be the most fountain pen friendly, Moleskine does make a tabbed Address Book notebook. Its available in 3.5×5 and 5.5×8 sizes with a hardcover ($13.95-$19.95) as well as the softcover Volant ($8.95-$12) and the tabs are plastic covered to make it more durable. The pages are otherwise unmarked which give the user plenty of room for a variety of contact information from simple phone numbers to lengthy foreign addresses.

Of course, there are many other options for address books at your local book shop or office supply store that may or may not be friendly with your pens or your wallet. But these were a few I thought might meet one or more of the criteria set forth: refillable and/or fountain pen friendly. Nice to look at being a bonus.

Digital Pen Review: Wacom Intuos Draw

I spend a good deal of my time thinking about and talking about analog tools, but I also spend a good deal of time using digital tools like computers, an iPad and an iPhone.

One of my go-to tools for work is a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. Its a large pen-based tablet for image editing that is not necessarily a tool I would recommend to someone who was just dipping their toe into the digital pen world. However, for Christmas, I received a new Wacom Intuos Draw tablet for home use and I think it is a great starter device for someone who might want to try out a pen-based tool for computer work.

Wacom Intuos Draw

Even if you don’t think you’ll be doing a lot of image manipulation, a pen tool is a great way to help change up your hand position while working. I use my Wacom pen all day for tapping, selecting, clicking, highlighting and scrolling because I can hold the pen tool gently compared with how I might grip a mouse or trackball or other input device. I seriously believe I’ve saved myself from years of repetitive stress injuries because I use a Wacom pen on a daily basis because its such a natural, comfortable hand position.

Wacom has recently refreshed their digital pen tablet line. There is now the Intuos consumer-based products under the Intuos umbrella as well as the Intuos Pro. Technically, the consumer line offers four different packages which seem super-complicated but really boil down to two different units: the Draw unit ($69.95) which is just the pen-based tablet. Then there’s the Intuos Art/Comic/Photo units which include touch capabilities on the tablet as well are bundled with different software options depending on your interests.

The Intuos Draw tablet ships with ArtRage Lite software trial. The Intuos Art tablet ships with Corel Painter Essentials 5 ($199.95 for tablet + software), the Intuos Photo tablet ships with Corel PaintShop Pro X8 for Windows and Corel Aftershot Pro 2 for Windows and Mac. Macphun Creative Kit (Tonality Pro, Intensify Pro, Snapheal Pro, Noiseless Pro) is also available for Mac users ($99.95) and the Intuos Comic ships with Clip Studio Paint Pro and Anime Studio Debut 10 ($99.95). Some of the software offered are limited trials and may require upgrade fees for full versions after trial periods.

All the tablets have a working surface of about 6×3.7″ which works with well with most average laptops and doesn’t take up a ton of desk space.

There are four action buttons at the top of the tablet that can be set to specific actions based on application or globally in your preferences. There are also two buttons on the pen itself that can be set to be application-specific or universal controls for things like opt-click, cmd-click or anything else using the Wacom driver preferences.

You can set preferences for left- or right-handed so that it reacts accordingly and adjust the speed of tapping, clicking and pressure in the preferences as well. Overall, you can fine tune the tablet to work best with your way of working.

Many folks who end up choosing one of the Wacom tablets with touch sensitivity end up investing in a glove of some sort to keep their hand from triggering the tablet or turning off the touch capabilities to avoid accidentally triggering the touch capabilities. You can use one the hot keys as a toggle for the touch capabilities if this is a feature you want to use as an option on the Intuos Art/Comic/Photo or Pro models.

I do find that there’s a bit of a learning curve to getting comfortable with input on a pen tablet. When I first started using a Wacom, my co-workers took my mouse away and told me to give it two weeks. They said it would be frustrating initially trying to highlight text or click on an email but to use it to develop those motorskills and, if after two weeks of regular use, I didn’t get adept at using the tablet, I could go back and forth between mouse and tablet. But they felt strongly that with two weeks of daily use, I would be a convert. And they were right. I’ve never had or used a mouse since.

(photo via SLRLounge)

(photo via SLRLounge)

Under the cover on the back of the tablet is three extra pen tips as well which is a nice addition. I thought since these tablets were so budget-priced that Wacom might skip including them but they did not so you’ll have enough to keep you drawing, writing or editing for a good year, even with a heavy hand. There are also specialty tips that can be purchased to simulate different writing and drawing experiences. I usually just use the plain black professional tips and a replacement set of 5 retails for $4.95. A pair of smooth pliers will remove a worn tip easily and then just insert a fresh tip. I only need to change mine about once every 6 months to a year depending on abuse.

That’s a lot of options. But you know what? I got the Intuos Draw. The simplest one because it does exactly what I need it to do. I don’t need a bunch of extra software I may or may not ever use. I just wanted a good tablet to help edit photos in Adobe Photoshop, draw in Adobe Illustrator or experiment with apps purchased in the App Store like AutoDesk Sketchbook, Pixelmator and others. The Intuos Draw tablet provides a pleasing range of pressure sensitivity. While it does not explicitly list on the site, I expect the range of sensitivity is the same as the other tablets at 1024 levels of sensitivity which is honestly more than enough for most folks. My Intuos Pro at work has 2068 levels and its not noticeably more sensitive for most activities.

Some pen tests using the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet and Kyle's Brush Presets

Some pen tests using the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet and Kyle’s Brush Presets for Adobe Photoshop

The biggest difference between the Intuos Draw pen and the Pro version is the size of the pen. The Intuos Draw pen is shorter than the Pro pens and does not include the “eraser” tip. I don’t think that’s a make-or-break feature since I’ve broken two Pro pens this year and replacing the Pro pens are about $80 each. I’d just assume use an undo step or erase tool in an app than flip the pen over to use the “eraser”. In all my years of using Wacom pens, I never really flipped my pen over  anyway. The Intuos consumer line pens also do away with the silicone covering on the grip section which I find an improvement as well because the heat from my hand has caused the silicone to stretch and warp over time. Eventually I just have to tear the rubber off exposing an unsightly ridge anyway. One of my co-workers actually made a little felt cozy wrap to cover her pen for the exact same reason so I actually much prefer a plain plastic casing.

All four tablets can be upgraded to be wireless with an accessory kit for $39.95. This makes it great for working on the go or on the arm of the couch. Then when you are at a desk, just plug in the USB and it will charge while you are working.

Overall, I think the Wacom Intuos Draw tablet is a great investment and will be a solid performer for years to come.

Have you ever considered using a pen tablet?

Pencil Review: Mitsubishi No. 850 Colored Pencils (Set of 24)

mitsubishi colored pencils

Several months ago, I purchased a set of Mitsubishi No. 850 Colored Pencils from Fresh Stock Japan. It was the 24 color set which is reasonably priced at $22 for the pack. The set includes gold and silver metallic as well as an opaque white plus an array of standard colors. The barrels are smooth round and fit into a standard sharpener. The barrels are beautifully foil stamped and the paint on each pencil is stunning. The set is in a plastic case, slid into a paperboard sleeve. The packaging is perfectly Japanese.

The Mitsubishi pencil leads are soft but not quite as soft as Prismacolor Premier pencils. The Mitsubishi pencils seem to be a standard wax pencil that blends pretty nicely on smooth stock for the price point but are not quite “artist quality”. I’d qualify them as a good starter set — more like a student-grade. Most of the colors are opaque enough to show over dark paper. I tested the colors over black gesso to test this range which is a nice added feature.

The color range is pretty broad for a 24-color set though I would have liked an additional bright pink/fuchsia and a true violet or purple in the set instead of one of the blues which are quite similar or one of the reds which are also quite similar. Overall though, with some blending, I was able to get a good range of color from the set for less than $25.

mitsubishi colored pencils

I tested the pencils in drawing on Strathmore Series 500 Mixed Media sketchbook paper which is quite toothy, 100% cotton and the Mitsubishi pencils did not blend as well as Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Artists. I was able to layer Sharpie Pen and Platinum Carbon Pen over the pencil for mixed media doodles so I think on smoother paper, the pencils really do perform nicely. But they don’t soften into the tooth of paper as easily as softer Prismacolors.

mitsubishi colored pencils

Alternately, in a smooth adult coloring book like my new Posh Coloring Book: Happy Doodles for Fun & Relaxation by Flora Chang, the Mitsubishi Colored Pencils were perfect! The smooth paper let the pencils easily blend and mix and the colors really popped. If you’re looking for pencils to pair with a coloring book, the Mitsubishi are a good set to combine and Flora’s coloring book is full of such fun drawings (and I’m only a little bit biased because she works with me!).

mitsubishi colored pencils

So, for doodling, light sketching and coloring, the Mitsubishi colored pencils are a good starter set. For mixed media art-making where you will be doing a lot of textural blending, I’d hold out for a slightly pricier set like Prismacolor Premier or Derwent Coloursoft.

Fashionable Friday: Faves from 2015

Fashionable Friday Faves for 2015

For today, I decided to pull together my favorite items from 2015. These are products and/or previously mentioned Fashionable Friday items I actually bought, used and kept. So it might look a bit like a hodgepodge but in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m often my biggest enabler. So now you know! And wow, did my faves end up being colorful and more pink than I would have thought! I guess I needed a lot of vibrant color this year.

Most of my most-used and most-loved goodies ended up being reasonably priced pieces too. I may be an enabler but sometimes I’m a reasonably-priced enabler.

I didn’t list any inks because I really just played with colors this year and relied most heavily on Platinum Carbon Black fountain pen ink (pack of 4 for $3.30 last me all year and I’m still on the first cartridge) for day-to-day. Who would have thought I’d become a mostly black ink girl? I still enjoy using color inks for letter writing but I didn’t have one true favorite that I reloaded again and again. I tried a new ink, used it up and then tried a new one. Did you find your favorite ink color this year?

Moving Into My Hobonichi Techo 2016

hobonichi techo 2016

The first step into getting prepared for 2016 was to set-up my new Hobonichi Techo A6 with the blue-green cover ($47). The color combo is absolutely PERFECT! Lime green loveliness inside with my second favorite color, turquoise, exterior. I had a decorative plastic protective sleeve I purchased a few years earlier from 1101.com that I added to the book. I quite like the overall look but sadly, this particular cover is no longer available. There is a different printed over available though or a clear cover.

hobonichi techo 2016

Inside, in the array of card pockets provided, I put lots of tidbits like stickers, washi tape wrapped around old playing cards and a few other tidbits. I’m not hugely inclined to do a lot of decorating in the Hobonichi at this point but the washi tape will give me a way to attach receipts, notes or other ephemera into the book as need and the stickers can be added to the monthly calendar for events and birthdays. Mostly, I plan to use the Hobonichi as a daily journal so the decorative bits are really for those days when I haven’t got a lot to write about and may be inclined to doodle or draw or just put a great big “X” on the day and call it done.

I wanted a pencil board to put between the delicate Tomoe River paper pages so I made one from a piece of index card (read: plain manila file folder), cut to size with a decorative tab at the top. I used the fancy tab punch and some scrapbooking paper to make the tab and the adhesive tab sticker to cover it. It wasn’t necessary to add the tab but it makes it quick to pull the card out and flip it around from page-to-page. It only took a few minutes to make it so I can use it as a blotter card as well if my inks are not completely dry. If it starts to look dodgy after awhile I can make a new one. I used a bit of washi tape to put in the ticket stub from Star Wars: The Force Awakens opposite my pencil board as you can see in the photo below.

hobonichi techo 2016

In the back of the book, I added a little A6 plastic folder that my friend brought back from Japan for me several years ago. As I was setting up the Hobonichi, I realized it was the absolute perfect size to fit into it and gave me a place to put a few more cards and stickers.

hobonichi techo 2016

The Hobonichi provides the last two weeks of December as half-page sheets so that I have been able to slowly start moving towards using it as a daily journal. The narrow half columns are a bit limiting so I’m looking forward to having a full page to write or draw the day’s events. I have been using an extra large Moleskine softcover notebook so the Hobonichi was seems incredibly small in comparison. I’m hoping moving to the full page will help alleviate any feeling of being cramped since the Moleskine XL was a bit larger than I needed per day most of the time.

I’m also still a little concerned about ink smudging and adhesion on the Tomoe River paper. The whole left-handed thing can be a bit of a pain and I get caught up in writing and forget to make sure the ink is dried before I run my hand through it. I’ve already run my hand through it a couple times so I will definitely need to make a point of finding a few pens that are the best match with the Hobonichi and keep them with the book to avoid future messes. So far, my favorite pen with the Hobonichi is the Platinum Carbon Pen. The super fine line allows me to write very small on the graph lines and the ink dries pretty quickly. I’ll play more with the gel pens I stash in my office at work in the next couple weeks and see if any others become favorites.

Are you moving into your 2016 system yet?

Link Love: Wrapping it up for 2015

rp_link-ana1111111111111111-1.jpgPosts of the Week:

Pens:

Ink:

Paper & Notebooks:

Other Interesting Things:

End-of-Year Sales

There are far too many end-of-year sales for me to list them all here but if there’s something you’ve had your eye on for sometime, now might be a good time to double-check and see if there’s a discount, price reduction, coupon or free shipping offer available.

Kate Spade Hello Darling Stationery Set

Lots of our favorite pen shops are doing year end inventory clear outs, like Pen Chalet (don’t forget to add the coupon code YEAREND in cart for an extra 10% off), Levenger is holding its semi-annual up-to-50% off sale and this year they’ve added lots of new planning supplies back into its offerings as well as its pens, Circa systems and travel bags. Notemaker is hosting its Boxing Day sale with 15% off sale items with the coupon code BOX15 through Wednesday 30 Dec. 2015. Kate Spade is having a huge sale that includes discounted prices on planners, stationery, phone cases and much more. Use the coupon code THRILL on sale items for an additional 25% off as well. I ordered the notecard set above for $16 (half the original price!) that way.

Lots of other shops are having sales so if you know of a particularly good one, leave a note in the comments. I’m sure there’s someone with some Christmas cash burning a hole in their pocket.

Remember, the best way to find out about sales, special offers and new products from any of your favorite retailers is to subscribe to their email newsletter list. I have mine filter into a special folder so they don’t clutter up any urgent messages but can be reviewed and perused regularly. Happy shopping!

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I say this every year but I love the start of the New Year. Its a chance for new beginnings, opening that brand-new planner, journal or notebook and starting on a new path, or course-correcting the one you set last year. I hope that 2016 will be a year of great adventures and great joys for everyone, myself included. I know a lot of us had rocky moments in 2015 but I know there were also some great triumphs as well.

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

(Photo reposted from Pen Compass)

For me 2015 was filled with wonderful ups and some hard downs as well. The Atlanta Pen Show was the absolute pinnacle for me and was my saving grace in what turned out to be a rather tumultuous year that followed with work- and health-related stresses. Brad and Myke and all the pen community welcomed me so warmly and openly in Atlanta and the whole world over that I felt like I had the whole world at my back this year and, for that, I am eternally grateful.

As I move forward into 2016, I want to stay committed and actively involved with the pen-and-paper community and be a resource and asset to the wonderful people that are a part of it. Expect to see more ink, paper, pen, and pencil reviews here as always. Holler, if there’s something particular you’d like to see more.

This summer, I started taking drawing and painting classes to try to be more creative and its something that I’d like to continue to do in 2016. I hope that in spending more time making art, I’ll also add more art material reviews to the site as well with the occasional watercolor, colored pencils, and other art material reviews for people who may want to try their hand at more sketching, drawing or mixing of media in their notebooks. By no means, will I be changing the focus of the site but I want to help people feel comfortable using pens with other materials. To be brave and to experiment! Even the most expensive piece of paper is still cheaper than a pizza from the take-out joint down the street, right?

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One of the most meaningful pieces I wrote all year, for me anyway, was the post Why Does All This Matter? which came hot on the heels of devouring half of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic book (I promise there will be a review of the whole book in a week or so!) and it still resonates in my mind. All these pens, pencils, notebooks and accouterments are all a means for us to be thoughtful, creative, to remember, to relive and to explore our ideas. However those tools help you do that is good but we have to remember not to let them impede the acts themselves.

This is something I plan on tackling quite a bit this year. The nature of doing product reviews is that I acquire a lot of samples. Its not that I have anything that is not good quality, its just that I am buried under a lot of it and it often leads to indecision and fretting over which ink to use, which pen to pick up or which notebook to write in next. One of my goals for 2016 is to pare down the stash dramatically. If anyone has a good idea about redistributing the wealth without breaking the bank, please let me know.

So, my goals for 2016:

  • Make more art
  • Daily journaling in my Hobonichi Techo A6
  • De-stash the pen/paper/ink/supply clutter
  • Take some personal time for little luxuries (30 minute coffee shop stop, a quiet walk, read for pleasure, etc)
  • Don’t work so late at the jobby-job

My keep-on-keeping’ on:

  • Reviews and more on the blog
  • Atlanta Pen Show 2016, look out!
  • Put all those planners to good use
  • Keep knitting (maybe finish some of those half-baked projects?)
  • Keep biking, and maybe more regularly than I have the last few months

Do you take the end of the year to re-evaluate and make plans? I never think of this end-of-year planning as “resolutions” but as a chance to re-tool, re-focus and start fresh. What do you want to accomplish in 2016? Let’s do this together!

New Products for 2016

There are lots of new products hitting the market for 2016 and some are already available for pre-order so I thought I’d include a few here if you wanted to squirrel away some of your holiday funds for a few of these.

Lamy Al-Star Charged Green Pens

The limited edition Lamy AL-Star color for 2016 is called Charged Green and is definitely a Well-Appointed Desk-approved color. Fontoplumo has the pen available for pre-order in all its forms and will be shipping it in early 2016. Pen Chalet has the pen listed on their site but its not available for order yet but should be available soon.

The Lamy Safari for 2016 will be Dark Lilac but is not expected to ship until mid-year. The Dark Lilac will also have a matching ink! First confirmed sighting of it came from Goldspot Pens.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Metallic Purple: Special Edition

Goulet Pens has the new limited edition Kaweco Skyline Sport in Metallic Purple. The pen is still a reasonably-priced plastic pen with pearlescent coloring in the plastic to give it the metallic look. There is also a solid deep purple Skyline Sport if you like that better. Prices are $25-$27.

Kaweco Skyline Sport in Purple

Filofax UK 2016 planner covers

Filofax UK has already unveiled some of its new planner covers for 2016 in the UK. I’m not sure if any of these will come available in the US yet but you can get them shipped over if they are covers you must have. They are currently available in Personal and Pocket sized only. I really like the Tweet Organizer — just stick a bird on it!

Kickstarter: Leftybooks

How can I not support a Kickstarter project that is attempting to create a product to make writing easier and more comfortable for left-handed writers? I couldn’t. So I put my money where my mouth (or in this case my keyboard is) and backed the Leftybooks project which is a notebook designed to help left-handed writers write more easily without dragging their hands through their ink or graphite.

I pledged for the Ambidextrous Couple Set with the B5 Lefty notebook as well as an A5 dot grid notebook. The total with shipping will be around $35. The one aspect of the books not included in the video is the paper stock weight which is always a subject of heated discussion amongst the fountain pen community but the video specifically talks about environmental factors and FSC certified paper so I suspect the paper is not going to be fountain pen friendly but fine for gel, rollerball, pencil and ballpoint.

The project was the creation of a team out of Spain called Imborrable and offers lines that are angled downward ever so slightly to help keep lefties with any hand position from smudging quite so much.

The campaign has 19 days left and they are only one-quarter to their goal of $10K. Let’s help them get there — one Leftybook at a time! And let’s put an end to the smudge!

Link Love: Gift Guides, Top 5s & Cocktails

rp_link-ana1111111111111111.jpgPens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Notebooks & Paper:

Planners & Organizers:

Gift Guides:

Other Interesting Things:

Books for the Pen & Paper Set

woman-with-blue-pencil_webOccasionally, a book will cross my path that I think will be very interesting to Well-Appointed Desk readers and I think Woman With A Blue Pencil by Gordon McApline is just such a book. The premise of the book sounds both strange and intriguing blending noir detective tale and WWII Japanese-American internment camps and the book publishing world and so much more. Every review I’ve read makes me scratch my head since no one seems to describe the book the same way. It makes it even more intriguing.

More information and reviews can be found on GoodReads.

The book is available in both hard copy and ebook formats but it seems appropriate to read this one in hard copy, though the choice is yours. If you do read it, please let me know what you think of it.

typewriter-revolution

The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century by Richard Polt is a book about typewriter’s for the modern enthusiast. The books contains both the history of typewriters as well as how and why people are using typewriters in the 21st century. There’s information on cleaning on old typewriter, how to trouble shoot why your machine might not work and how to “gussy it up”. There’s lots of photos of typewriters throughout history both machines that you’ll recognize and others that are strange and marvelous devices. One of the coolest touches of this book is the bookmark ribbon which is, of course, a  red and black ribbon like a typewriter ribbon.

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While I’m talking about typewriter books, I must include The Typewriter: A Graphic History of the Beloved Machine from Uppercase. This is a huge coffee table tome that was exquisitely and lovingly produced by Janine Vangool of Uppercase magazine. The book includes hundreds of photos of typewriters, advertisements and ephemera in 300+ pages and organized by decade from the turn of the century through the 1980s. Often with Uppercase publications, once the book sells out, it is not reprinted so if this is something that might be of interest to you, I’d order it now. I pre-ordered my copy last year and I’m so glad I did.

For an inside peek, check out this video included on the web site.

Letters to the LostLetters to the Lost by Iona Grey is the latest selection chosen for the Letter Writers Alliance online book club. The live video chat will be Sunday January 10 at 12:30 CST so there’s plenty of time to pick this up and read it, especially with the holidays approaching. I just got a copy from my local library so I’ll be reading it by my non-working fireplace with a blanket, a cat on my lap and a cup of tea between now and New Year’s Day. And this book sounds tailor-made for me. An epistolary tale about World War II? Sign me up!

Do you have any pen-related books to recommend? Leave a comment and maybe I’ll start a regular series with books for the pen & paper set!

Local Pride: 10 Things to Love about Kansas City

(3-color, 18″ x 24″ screenprintposter of Kansas City. Print is signed and number in an edition of 100. 2nd edition. $25 via Tad Carpenter)

I’m feeling a little sentimental today about my adopted home, Kansas City. We’ll be spending the holidays here this year and we have a friend coming into town so I’ve been mentally preparing a list of things to show him, places to take him and food to feed him. I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe it’ll inspire you to stop in Kansas City some day. Be sure to let me know if you’re in town and I’d be happy to buy you a coffee or a beer and talk pens with you. So here goes, ten things to love about Kansas City:

This list is in no particular order, especially since anyone who knows me will know that I am actually a Chicago Fire MLS fan. However, the enthusiasm that Kansas City has put behind its professional sports teams this year, including its soccer team and, in return, the awesome support the teams give to their supporters make KC a great place to be a sports fan. The post-World Series parade and celebration for the Royals was EPIC. This town knows how to throw a party.

(PS: You can spot my pal Madeline and her black Scottie in the video if you don’t blink!)

Christopher Elbow. This man makes chocolates that make you cry because they are both delicious and beautiful but he also created an ice cream shop called Glacé that elevated ice cream and sorbets to new gourmet heights with a rotating assortment of flavors. I just noticed the seasonal ice cream flavors like Peppermint Flake and Jude’s Rum Cake. I might have to pop over over a taste this week. Yum!

Boulevard Beer. Rieger’s Whiskey. Dark Horse Distillery. Why stop at chocolate and ice cream? Kansas City has a great assortment of booze locally made. Boulevard is our flagship brewery offering an array of seasonal and limited edition brews. Rieger is a small batch distillery recreating pre-Prohibition whiskey, gin and vodka. Their whiskey has been a staple at The Desk but I’ve yet to try their gin and I’m itching to. And Dark Horse is another local liquor staple in KC best known for their white whiskey though they also produce a rye whiskey and a bourbon whiskey.

Joe’s BBQ. Joe’s KC, formerly known as Oklahoma Joe’s and still referred to by locals as Okie Joe’s is a KC classic. Its a BBQ joint started in a gas station that still has a line out the door on most nights. Their BBQ (in all its forms) in to die for and even ended up on some pretty fancy foodie bucket lists. Even my vegetarian friends go, if only for the “crack fries”.

(Country Club Plaza Lights Mini Hanging Banner $16 via Tammy Smith)

The Plaza. There is a more official name for The Plaza, its The Country Club Plaza or something like that but locals just call it The Plaza and everyone knows what you mean. Its an outdoor shopping area designed to look a bit like a Spanish courtyard with fancy clock towers and fountains galore. On Thanksgiving night, there is a holiday lighting event where the whole place is lit up and it looks beautiful. There are lots of fancy, upscale shops like Tiffany, Kate Spade, Sephora, Apple and more and lots of restaurants and bars. There’s also a creek that runs down one end that people run and walk along. Its just a nice place to watch people, window shop and eat a nice meal.

The Pen Place. Yes, Kansas City really does have its own pen shop. Its not very big and its tucked back into a dark corner of the very touristy Crown Center Mall but we have a pen shop. The staff is very pleasant and they stock a wide variety of brands of pens and inks that they are happy to let you hold and will even swatch out inks on paper for you to see before you buy. They also have a wide variety of pen refills and have patiently helped me with my refill guide on occasion. So if you’re in the neighborhood, definitely pop in and say hello.

The World War I Museum. Kansas City is lucky enough to have the only and official World War I museum in the United States and it is a moving and memorable experience to visit this museum and surrounding grounds. I work in a building across the street and often walk the grounds on bright days at lunch admiring the amazing views from atop the hill. As a history buff and knitter I have also enjoyed attending the regular lecture series Mrs. Wilson’s Knitting Circle which will enter its second year in 2016. It’s an extraordinary place and an amazing opportunity to learn more about a singular event that changed the course of history. There are also many other amazing museums in Kansas City like the Negro League Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, the Truman Presidential Library, and the Toy & Miniature Museum just to name a few.

The local art scene. Not only does Kansas City have an amazing art museum in the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, but there is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and several areas that feature a thriving local art galleries like the Crossroads, the West Bottoms and Brookside. There are many art festivals, craft shows and first Fridays (third Thursdays and other open studio events and the like) all over town, plus there is the Kansas City Art Institute training new artistic talent as well as other local colleges and universities that are helping to develop new creative talent. Add in the music and performing arts in Kansas City from the new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts shell featuring the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera and Kansas City Symphony to the local bars and clubs hosting bands and open mike nights. When I moved here, I didn’t think Kansas City was a cowtown per se but I had no idea how amazingly talented it was.

Coffee. This town loves its coffee. We have local coffee shops and local roasters and all sorts of combinations of the two. Some of my favorites are The Filling Station, Benettis, Messenger Coffee, Kaldi’s Coffee and the king of the coffee bean hill The Roasterie. If you’re a tea drinker, I recommend Kaldi’s Double Vanilla Tea Latte or the London Fog from either the Roasterie or Kaldi’s. Delish!

Hallmark Cards. I feel silly plugging the firm but if it wasn’t for Hallmark, I never would have come to Kansas City and discovered what a cool place it is. I would not have met some of the most amazing, talented and special people I’ve ever known and I might never have started this blog which gave me the chance to meet all of you.  I once read an interview with a Hallmark employee (colloquially called a “Hallmarker”) who described working at Hallmark as grad school and it really is. So many of us refine and hone our skills surrounded by people who are so incredibly talented in everything they do. And everyone is willing to share their knowledge and encourage other people’s success which is unlike any place I’ve ever worked. So, thank you, Hallmark for all the opportunities.

Review: Agendio Planner

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The Agendio planner was my first twin-ring planner and my first customize-to-order planner. So there are a lot of firsts for me and I will be making a lot of comparisons to ring-bound planners like Filofax or bound planners like a Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 rather than other twin-ring planner systems, so bear with me.

I ordered the smallest size which is the Journal size (5.5×8″). The paper size is pretty comparable to A5 sheets in a Filofax planner or a medium Moleskine/Leuchtturm 1917 planner and the overall Agendio Journal book is just a little taller and a little thinner than my personal-sized Filofax. So, size-wise I didn’t make a big change in my planner size form what I’m generally comfortable with using. It makes this book quite portable, easy to fit in my bag or purse as needed and doesn’t require its own desk. Because of the hardcover, leatherette cover, the exterior feels good and looks understated and professional. In a very out-of-character move, I ordered the black cover with a dark green elastic closure. With a couple of weeks usage though, I’m finding I’m not using the elastic nearly as often as I thought I would. It probably wasn’t totally necessary to add the elastic but I like knowing I can secure it closed and I like the aesthetic accent.

agendio-3

Inside, I ordered the combination of monthly calendar (Model 32060) with weekly calendar (Model 32057) and then spent an inordinate amount of time customizing the details. There are so many elements that can be tweaked to your personal taste from fonts and colors to the placement of the numbers on the monthly calendar. Then I was able to add personal events to the calendar like important dates or repeating activities. I added family birthdays and my weekly Knit Night. Agendio allows you to choose holidays to add to your calendar as well by country and/or religious preferences. You can even add specific US State holidays.

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On the weekly page layouts, I have a simple layout with the days of the week on the left and a space for notes on the right but the notes section is divided up into Divisibles to help organize my activities. I have a section for Work, Home, Blog and Misc. At the top is a Top 3 Goals and the inside left column is for general notes. Sunday is listed at the bottom of the right hand page but gets equal space as the other six days which I appreciate.

agendio-1

I also had some extra notes pages added to the back of the planner, just in case. And this is the perfect place to test some pens. For the most part, since my planner is on the small side, I tend to use fine gel pens in 0.38mm or thereabouts but I thought I’d test a bunch of pens to verify if there might be any issues with pens bleeding. I tested an array of fountain pens, some gel and rollerballs and even a couple of the brush pens I carry with me for drawing and lettering.  There was no feathering with any of them. Ink dried quite quickly and when I turned the page over…

agendio-2

Very little show through at all! There were a couple tiny dots from the Retro 51 stock rollerball refill which I always find to be a gusher. I always swap it out for a finer refill or hack in a gel pen refill anyway but I thought I’d test it for your benefit. I think heavy fountain pens with dense black ink might cause some show through but overall the performance was very good. Grab that rainbow assortment of gel pens, Frixion pens, or your favorite multi-pen and keep it close to your Agendio and you’ll have a match made in heaven.

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There were a couple more extras that I added to the planner as well. I got the pocket in the back so I could pack rat some goodies and I got the Agendio page markers which are simple laser-etched steel clips to mark your week or month page. The clips are low profile and good looking. Etched on the back of each clip is the message “Follow your own agenda” which I think is charming. Its a lovely addition to the planner.

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Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the whole experience and the incredible level of customization. It took about 10 days from placing my order for the planner to arrive and it was totally worth the wait. And again, the prices on the Agendio planners, even with all the extras like the extra pages, page markers and folder pocket is quite competitive with the Erin Condren, Day Designer, Inkwell Press and other wire-ring planners with or without customization. Agendio is also offering customizable inserts for Filofax and Franklin Covey planners in both A5 and Personal sizes now too. The best part of the Agendio system is that the planner can start on any month. Mine started with December 2015. I didn’t even have to wait for January 1 to start a brand new planner. How awesome is that!?! So many great options!

Due to a slight printing variation the folks at Agendio actually sent me two planners. My husband saw the extra one laying on the table and asked “Are you going to use this? Can I have it?” From him, that’s high praise! So, he now has his own Agendio with all my Knit Nights already marked as a reminder for him. I’m pretty excited to see how he’ll use his first planner. Aren’t you?


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

Fashionable Friday: Posh & Preppy Stocking Stuffers

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This week, I was feeling a little posh, a little glitzy. So I thought I’d give you a few last-minute ideas to tuck under the tree, into those stockings or onto that wish list.

  • GARANCE DORÉ 2016 Wall Calendar $26 (via Rifle Paper Co.)
  • Namiki Black Fountain Pen Ink in Black $10.80 (via Pen Chalet)
  • S’Well – Love Collection 500mL Insulated Stainless Steel Drink Bottle in Dark Hearted $49.95 AUD (via Notemaker)
  • Ananas Trinket Dish & Clips $18 (via Anthropologie)
  • Original Cord Taco 5-Pack in Gold Element $29 (via This is Ground)
  • Diamine Aqua Lagoon (80ml Bottle) $14.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Daisy Place pencil cup $20 (via Kate Spade NY)
  • “Dream a little dream” Soft Cover A5 Notebook $24.95AUD (via Notemaker)
  • Retrakt in Copper By Karas Kustoms $104.98 (via Huckberry)
  • TWSBI Eco white fountain pen €35 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Parker Sonnet Great Expectations Black Cisele Rollerball Pen $299.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • Quo Vadis Habana Journal 6-1/4 x 9-1/4 Blank in Turquoise $24 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Penco Clampy Clip Gold $3.50 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Write On Everyday Assorted Writing Pencils 4 Designs in Each Set, 3 of Each Design $22 (via Rifle Paper Co.)
  • Monteverde Impressa Fountain Pen in Black &Rose Gold with Fine Nib $40 (via Goulet Pens)
  • Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Fountain Pen in Turquoise with Medium Nib $14.50 (via JetPens)

NOTE: I had several people ask “Hey, how come you’re not doing a Star Wars themed Fashionable Friday? I mean, c’mon?!?!” My reply? Been there. Done that. Just add the new Cross pens and notebooks and you’re all set.

Link Love: Star Wars Holiday Frenzy

rp_link-ana111111111111111.jpgPens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Notebooks & Paper:

Planners & Organizers:

Everything Else:

Ask The Desk: Landscape Notebooks

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Anna Marie asks:

I’m looking for landscape orientation notebooks. I know there’s a landscape orientation Rhodia Webnotebook, but I wouldn’t mind a color that isn’t orange or black. (Sacrilege, I know.) Do any other quality notebook companies make blank landscape orientation options, with binding on the short side? Fountain pen friendly always a bonus!

The sad truth of the matter is that there seems to be an assumption that if you want a horizontal/landscape notebook, you must be an artist and therefore only want a black book. The only company I could find that made landscape notebooks/sketchbooks with any other color cover was Hand Book Artists Journals Travelogue Series. I find the paper a little absorbent for some inks but overall its a thicker stock an good for light washes, and a variety of pen, pencil and media.

If you can live with a black cover though, the Rhodia would be best for fountain pens specifically. For mixed media, I can’t praise Stillman & Birn sketchbooks highly enough. I’ve used the Alpha and the Epsilon notebooks and I like them both. Stillman & Birn offer a landscape format in both softcover (this is new and looks NOT black!) and hardcover. The only Moleskine notebooks I’ve yet to try is the watercolor notebook and many people actually praise it. It’s available in the landscape format with 200 gsm, cold press paper which sounds pretty nice.

Hand Book Artist Journal Travelogue Series, which just happen to be local (Go, Kansas City!) They are available with a linen fabric cover in black, red, blue and green with a soft ivory paper inside.

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