Letter Writing Month: Day 2 and It’s Not Too Late to Start

February is both InCoWriMo and LetterMo, two challenges to encourage you to write a letter a day for a month. I started with A Month of Letters (AKA LetterMo) many years ago, so its the challenge I think of first, but I know many people think of InCoWriMo as the larger of the two challenges. They both accomplish the same goal… to write more letters.

I’ve been trying to slowly prepare you all for the whole month of January in Link Love but I forgot to post an official post yesterday to kickstart February yesterday. But I did write my first letter.

So, if you didn’t write a letter yesterday, its okay. Just write two postcards today… or do two thank you cards for those holiday gifts you got to get started and You’ll be all set. Easy peasy.

My goal is to make my way through some unanswered letters, write my thank you notes and write to big wigs in Washington and give them a piece of my mind. I don’t know if it will help but I’m hoping that having to stumble over giant bags of mail will at least annoy some interns. It’s the little things.

What are your plans?

Link Love: Ain’t That a Kick(starter)?

Link of the Week:

File this under shameless cross-promotion because I want to go to Atlanta again! So, hop on over to Kickstarter, back the Pen Addict Live 2017 RelayCon Kickstarter and get the awesome Sapelo case and the video of Myke, Brad and “third-wheel” Reinert in Atlanta. Bonus: You’ll also get to hear Myke and Brad in DC (and maybe you’ll see or hear me, if I make it to DC too).





Paper & Notebooks:


InCoWriMo & Letterwriting:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Art of the Day: Pencils for Signage

Since the site I found this particular art was all in Spanish I had to rely on some iffy translation software but it looks like Catharsis Studio used over 2500 pencils to create signage for BCN Lip Language School to hang in their lobby out of pencils. I love the script “Lip” and how great it looks out of pencil eraser “dots”.

Clever and colorful but I feel sorry for whoever has to dust this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fashionable Friday: Year of The Rooster

Any chance to try to jumpstart my week, my month or my year over again, I will take. And Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. Partially because it is so much about clearing away clutter, starting fresh and making a new start. For some reason, the Year of the Rooster is one of my favorite new years too so it has extra “oomph” start-over power for me. Maybe its one of the first that I remember celebrating, maybe its the association I have with that magical sinus-clearing Sriracha hot sauce? Whatever the reason, this is a great time to cock-a-doodle-doodle your way to new all those goals you might have set on January 1 that might have languished already. So, go order some pork buns or dumplings or other “purse-shaped” deliciousness and help to bring some wealth and good fortune into your life. Gong Hei Fat Choi!

  • Velos Gold Push Pins $5.50 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Rhodia Rhodiarama Notebook in Poppy A5 (5.5×8.5) Blank or Lined $24 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Sailor Jentle Four Seasons Irori Ink (50ml Bottle) $18 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Diamine Shimmertastic Golden Sands Ink (50ml Bottle) $20 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Diamine Red Dragon Ink (80ml Bottle) $14.95 (via Anderson Pens)
  • YEAR of the ROOSTER Letterpress Print Junishi $5 (via Tag Team Tompkins on Etsy)
  • Lamy LX Fountain Pen in Rose Gold $56 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Fountain K Mini in Red with Brass or Copper Grip Section $85-$90 (via Karas Pen Co.) Don’t forget the 10% Discount for Well-Appointed Desk readers! See the coupon code in the sidebar!
  • Kaweco Brass Sport fountain pen € 74,50 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Palomino Blackwing 530 $25 per dozen (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Japanese MT Red / Blue Fan Dots Washi Tape $3.50 per roll (via CuteTape)
  • Lihit Lab Smart Fit Cover Notebook – A5 – Orange $24 (via JetPens)

PS: This week’s Fashionable Friday was created entirely using Affinity Photo. It was the first time I have used the software EVER after over two decades using Adobe Photoshop. If you’ve been thinking about trying it out but were afraid that it would be too difficult to switch, I’m here to tell you, it’s not. The key commands are the same for most functions as Photoshop. Spacebar is the hand tool. M is the marquee. B is for brush. T is for text. The masking tool is a little different and how Affinity Photo organizes some of the Live Effects like Drop Shadows is a little different but not so much that you can’t figure it out. There’s some cool extras to how it handles color layers and some micro controls that seem vastly superior to Photoshop. If you mostly send out JPG, GIF, PDF, PNG, etc files and do not need to build multi-page documents, seriously consider switching to Affinity!

Thanks to my sponsors for providing some of the images I use for Fashionable Friday. Please consider making your next purchase from one of the shops that support this blog and let them know you heard about them here. Thanks for your support and for supporting the shops that help keep it running.

Winner: Decoylab Wall Calendar

Thanks to Decoylab for offering the wonderful opportunity to get organized with their aweseom wall calendar and to everyone who entered the giveaway. I’m glad I’m not the only one still trying to get my act together for 2017.

The winner of the Wall Calendar is :

I’ve contacted Pete directly so he’ll be receiving his wall calendar soon!

Decoylab wall calendar are still available for purchase for $26 plus shipping. And there are add-ons available like moon stickers and a big bulldog clip for hanging as well. I can’t wait ti get mine!

Ask The Desk: Perplexing Pen & Refill Questions


Rosemary asks:

Should dry erase markers be stored horizontally or vertically?

I’ve had best luck storing dry erase markers either horizontally or upside down, tip down to keep the ink towards the tip. I have some that magnet to my dry erase board and I hang them tip down to keep the ink towards the point and they have lasted longer that way. I hope that helps!

Jose asks:

I have a montblanc miesterstuck ballpoint, there is any gel refill option to use??
Also i want to know what parker refill number fits on this pen?

Montblanc ballpoint refills have a slightly different taper than Parker-style refills so while they are the same length overall, unless there is a good deal of free space inside the pen barrel itself, it’s unlikely that any Parker-style refill will fit. Monteverde created these lovely line drawings that show very clearly the differing profiles of the Montblanc refill versus the standard Parker-style refill.

That said, Monteverde makes a gel refill that is compatible with the Montblanc ballpoint pens and is available through many pen shops and on Amazon. The Monteverde gel refills to fit Montblanc are available in fine, medium and broad in black, blue and blue-black. A 6-pack of these refills can be purchased directly from Monteverde as well for $30.