Tag: notebook

Ask The Readers: B5 Hardcover Notebook

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Okay, gang, now I need your help! Sometimes, questions come into my inbox and I ponder and query and google and I come up with nothing. So, I’m hoping that the massive collective hive mind of stationery genius out there can help out. Maybe you use or have seen something to help Linda.

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Linda is begging for help:
The notebook I have used since 2008 is now out of print. I bought all the stock I could find and am down to my last two. I need a suitable replacement but haven’t had much luck. Perhaps the Desk can advise?

What I Need:

  • Hardcover
  • B5 or a tad bigger, but not A4
  • White pages, not cream or ivory
  • Thick pages that do not bleed (Sharpies excluded, of course)
  • Dot grid, graph, etc. Even lined, maybe if the lines are unobtrusive
  • Smooth paper

I’m a fan of Apica, Kokuyo’s Campus notebooks, Rhodia dotgrid. But I can find nothing both hardcover and B5.
Any tips?
Please?
I’m getting stingy with my notetaking and brainstorming in order to make my current notebooks last.

I am at a loss to find a good replacement for you, Linda. B5 size is close to a US Composition notebook and, for some reason, this size notebook always seem to have a flexible cover, whether they are US, Japanese or European. Moleskine’s XL size is a B5 but the paper is warm white and not everyone’s favorite. The only bright white options I could find were Leucthtrum 1917 but I couldn’t find that they offered this particular size configuration in hardcover. Only softcover. So, I’m rallying the troops! Do you have a recommendation for Linda?

Ask The Desk: Notebooks (TN, XL and A5 Filo)

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Matt writes:

Dear desk, My question is: I own two travelers Midori journals. One is the regular size while the other is the passport sized one. I am currently using the passport sized one for planning and bullet journaling/taking random notes in. I am not sure what to use the regular sized one for at this point. I was thinking as a daily journal. Any suggestions? P.S. — Do you use these too? Thank you. Matthew

inky-TN

The great thing about Traveler’s notebooks is that they can be used as you need them. So if you find that most of your needs are being served by the passport-sized cover right now, you can put aside the regular-sized one for awhile. However, I found that I loved the size of the regular sized Traveler’s notebook, even though it seems a little unusual. They are particularly good for journaling and traveloguing. I ended up using mine for planning too and the smaller sizes for note-taking and randomness. I don’t think I provided much clarity but the flexibility is the key to Traveler’s notebooks and the ability to use small booklets means you can try one method for awhile and see what works best for you. I’m excited to try my newest inserts, the Ink Journal with the Currently Inked card and the Inky Fingers Currently Inked Journal to help me keep track of what inks are in which pens.


Thomas asks:

I start law school in a few weeks, and I’m looking for a nice notebook to use for class notes. I just moved into my first house, and found my notes from undergraduate and and a masters program. They’re spread across lots of spiral notebooks that are looking as ratty as ever. I know that my notes for law school will be even more important, so I’d like to make sure they have a good home. In reading through your reviews, it seems most of the notebooks you look at are the A5 size–I carry (and love) a Moleskine A5 for meeting notes, ideas, and to-do lists–but for class notes I need something bigger, in the neighborhood of 8×10 or 8.5×11. I really like the classic look of Moleskine, but was also intrigued by the hardcovers from Baron Fig–only to be dismayed to find that they don’t make a larger version. So I’m wondering if you have a sense of who makes lined books that are little bigger, and that are affordable enough that I can buy a dozen or so over time without taking out a second mortgage. I’m also left handed, so that means that smearing is my worst enemy. I write everyday with a Uniball Vision Needle pen, which usually dries very quickly for me, but sometimes it has trouble on the Moleskine paper. And if anyone has done enough paper tests, its you! I would be extremely grateful for any thoughts you might have. Thanks for your time! Cheers, -Thomas

XL-notebooks

The first notebook I thought of was the Leuchtturm1917 Master series (A4 measures 9″ x 12.5″ – 225 x 315 mm – 121 pages in the Slim and 223 in the standard Master), which I suspect might be second mortgage requiring at around $27 per book for the Slim and $30 for the regular Master. Jenni Bick stocks both in a variety of colors and all the paper configurations (plain, ruled, graph or dot grid). The paper quality is good and the books hold up well but they are pricey.

So, I went digging for other options.

Still a bit pricey, the Blackwing Luxury Large Soft Cover Notebook (7.5 x 10) offers 160 pages of 100 gsm paper in plain, lined or graph and will fit into the Blackwing Large Folio. European Paper sells the books for $21.95 each but offers volume discount pricing so if you decide this is the notebook for you, you might save a few pennies ordering in bulk.

The Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks are available in 8×12″ size in either staplebound booklets with 38 sheets ($4.79) or gluebound with 90 sheets ($8.35) from Dick Blick. Its smooth 85gsm soft white paper that should work well with your Uniball Vision and available in lined or dot gird. The covers are cardstock, however, so its not as durable as a hardcover notebook but definitely easier on the wallet.

If anyone has other A4-ish sized notebook recommendations for Thomas, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!


Emily asks:

I’m looking for an A5 notebook that comes pre-punched with filofax-esque holes. I would like to use my A5 filo as the “home” for all the notes I take in meetings without actually taking my filo with me to meetings. Ideally it would also have perforated pages. Am I asking too much of the notebook world for such a thing? Thanks!!!

I have not seen any A5 notebooks that are pre-punched with holes for Filofax and that’s most distressing! I noticed that Michael’s was stocking pre-punched Personal-sized paper (not perforated) recently for their Recollections “Creative Year” planner lines but not A5. They had a custom larger-sized binder with four holes. So odd and unhelpful.

Readers, if you can help Emily, please leave a note in the comments. Thanks!

Notebook Review: Story Supply Co. Working Artists’ Series Mike Hawthorne Edition

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

Story Supply Co. released their first Working Artist Series Sketchbook — The Mike Hawthorne Edition this month and its notable for a lot of reasons. First, the 2-pack volume is an oversized booklet at 5.25″x 7.5″ inches. Its also filled with thicker 70# Cougar natural smooth paper. Third, the covers are wraparound illustrations by the awesomely talented Marvel Comics artist, Mike Hawthorne and feature two unique storied illustrations on the covers. On one is characters prepared to go into battle and the other, the same characters celebrating symbolic of the phases of creativity. Oh, and the last… its costs just $14 for the pack.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

The covers are printed on a classic 100# kraft stock and Mike signed and dated the covers in white pen as this series is limited to 5000 packs. Sales of each of these packs allows one sketchbook to be donated to a young artist in York, PA with his or her own story to be told.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

On the inside covers, Mike included his tutorials on how to draw a face. I used the steps to draw my own face. Not quite up to Mike’s graceful line quality but the tutorial is a classic that any fledgling artist should try.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

I tested out a lot of different tools on the paper which is super smooth. Brush pens, markers, fineliners and pencils seem best suited to the paper. I definitely treated it like a sketchbook on these tests using materials I’d use for drawing. In other words, I totally forgot to test out my arsenal of fountain pens! But I will put some photos on Instagram later with some fountain pen tests soon.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

I could certainly apply watercolor but the paper was not really designed for it as it did cause the paper to curl quite a bit. I used the Sailor Fude fountain pen to create the pattern along the side and my Platinum Maki-e for the lettering and neither feathered, Both pens dried quickly as well.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

From the reverse, there was a little showthrough but minimal. I do stuff like this to purposely test paper limitations. You can clearly see ho much the watercolor curled the paper so I wouldn’t have wanted to draw on the reverse of this page anyway. My instinct is to recommend using watercolor pencils to add color with a semi-dry waterbrush or using watercolor markers if you want to add color to black line art on this paper. I think the effects would be pretty good with a lot less curl. Plus, colored pencil looks great on this smooth stock.

Story Supply Co. Working Artist Series Mike Hawthorne

I really enjoyed using this paper for mark making. I’ve been playing with patterns and the smoothness of the paper lends itself to a black pen, pencil, colored pencils. Its definitely smoother paper than you’ll find in most commercial sketchbooks so it creates a different experience. The size is perfectly portable and not so large as to be intimidating or overwhelming. Mike’s awesome cover art, however, is a lot to live up to!

Overall, I love this book. I love the size, the heavier weight paper and I love that Story Supply Co. is exploring a working artists series. And as a comic book geek, I love that they are working with Mike Hawthorne. I can’t wait to see who they will work with next. Not to sway Story Supply Co., but I’d love to see them work with a female artist — young girls need heroes too. Keep up the great work!


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

One Book July: Halfway Point

One Book July Halfway

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

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

One Book July Halfway

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

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

One Book July Halfway

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

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

One Book July Halfway

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

One Book July Challenge

Midori MD Notebook cover

This year, I’ve decided to try the One Book July challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to use one book for planning, journaling or whatever for the entire month of July. I heard about the challenge last year but it was well after July so I put it on my calendar for this year. I wanted a chance to pick one book and focus on my system rather than the book for a change. Originally, it was set up to be a one book and one pen challenge but, in watching the videos and following along, the challenge is flexible to challenge yourself to find way to simplify your personal planning system, journaling or whatever will help you to personally find a way to streamline.

Midori MD Notebook Pen and Pencil Tests

In order to make this work, I wanted to find a book that was clean and  simple but with good paper so I chose the Midori MD with blank pages.  I knew it had good quality paper but was won over by the complete lack of ornamentation. The cover of the book is plain ivory cardstock that matches the thick, smooth ivory paper inside. I printed out guide sheets in both grid and lined to use with it and decided I’d try the Bullet Journal system that would let me plan, list, journal or do whatever — all in one book. I’ve never really figured out how to use the Bullet Journal system before so this has been a bit of an adventure for me and I’ve done a lot of research to figure out how to best utilize it for myself. Basically, I ended up having to watch Ryder Carroll’s video about ten times and then just jumping in with both feet and hoping for the best. I’m using the book for my planning, notetaking and as my logbook.

The only thing this book can’t handle is a lot of water media like watercolor so it wasn’t up to doubling as a full-blown sketchbook. Since I also want to participate in the World Watercolor Month project, I’m allowing myself a second book — one sketchbook to use specifically for this project. I haven’t chosen which specific sketchbook I’ll use but I have a couple more days to decide.

For me, my biggest issue was to stop carrying around FIVE or SIX notebooks and planners at one time and reduce down to just two books is a huge reduction. Along with this, I pared down my daily carry to a smaller zipper pouch, carrying a reduced selection of colored pencils, a mechanical pencil, a few felt tip pen, a  brush pen, a couple fountain pens and a small set of watercolors and a travel brush plus a back-up waterbrush, which is considerable downsizing from the 100 Pen Case.

Midori MD Notebook Monthly Bullet Journal

The goal of this project is to focus more on making this month with what I have rather than wasting time trying to decide which tool I should use. I’m looking forward to spending a month focusing on content and filling notebooks.

For more information about One Book July, check out the videos posted by Rhomany and Carie Harling, two of the hosts for the online challenge this year.

Note: This challenge will not affect product reviews. I will continue to review notebooks, pens and other products throughout the month but my personal planning and notetaking will all take place in the Midori MD. I will try to do a couple updates throughout the month to update how I’m doing in the challenge as well.

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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.

Review: Baron Fig Vanguard

Baron Fig Vanguard

Baron Fig continues to expand their line of products. This time with a soft cover cahier-style notebook they are calling the Vanguard. They are offering it in an A5 size (Flagship) as well as their smaller passport (Pocket) size in blank, dot grid or graph paper formats. There’s also a “plus” size which is 7×10″. The Vanguard is available with a light grey or dark grey cover. Each book is actually stitched along the spine with bright yellow thread which aesthetically lovely.

The lightly textured cardstock covers are clean, simple and elegant. And the overall lack of a lot of branding is most appreciated. The books are clean and simple and ready for the user to put their stamp on them which I like.

Baron Fig Vanguard

It’s been awhile since I’d used a Baron Fig notebook so I decided to run the new notebook through its paces to see if the paper stock was the same a the previous Confidant notebooks.

Baron Fig Vanguard Colored Pencil test

My first experiment with the Vanguard was to try some colored pencils. I pulled out my trusty Prismacolor Premier (and its brethren) and draw a fig. Of course.  I quite like the Baron Fig paper for colored pencil. Really, any kind of pencil works well on Baron Fig paper. Its quite smooth with just a little tooth and the warm white color is quite conducive to pencil sketching and colored pencils. Maybe a good candidate for a red/blue pencil?

Baron Fig Vanguard writing sample

I’d recalled that there was some issues with the Baron Fig paper and liquid inks like rollerball, fountain pens and such. What I noticed most particularly was that most of my felt tip pens seemed broader on the Baron Fig paper than on other paper. As if it sort of spread a bit. It didn’t look like it feathered per se but the ink must have absorbed a bit more than I remembered.

The Sakura Ballsign 04 in black was, by far, the best performing pen on the paper. It dried super-fast, jet black and matte without any bleeding or feathering. If you haven’t tried the Ballsign and want to try the Baron Fig Vanguard, its a great combo. In general, most gel pens work well on the Vanguard paper, more so, I think, than rollerball and felt tip pens which is a bit of a disappointment for me. I tend to use a lot of felt tip pens but I like a super fine point.

The fountain pen issue with Baron Fig paper has been discussed extensively elsewhere so I won’t delve into it but, like most pocketable notebooks (and for most of the modern world), its not something that they concern themselves with. Its just our small corner of the world that gets in a tizzy when every notebook we pick up doesn’t accept our wide stub fountain pen inks with open arms, no bleed through and instantaneous dry times.

I forgot to photograph the reverse of stock this time but I noticed a bit more bleed through this time around than in my previous tests on the Confidant lined and dot grid. I don’t know if it was because the blank paper had not been run through any printing presses and therefore had no sizing of any kind and therefore was more absorbent, if there is a slight difference to this batch of paper or if its because it was warmer and more humid during my testing or if some other factors were at play.

Overall, I plan to use my Vanguard as a colored pencil sketchbook with some notes and put my massive collection of Sakura Ballsign gel pens to good use.

Baron Fig Vanguard

THE GIVEAWAY: Would you like to try out a Baron Fig Vanguard 3-pack of your own? I have THREE (3) sets to give away. I have a Flagship dot grid, Flagship ruled and a Pocket blank.

TO ENTER: All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me if you’ve ever tried a Baron Fig notebook before. If so, which one? If not, which one you like best, whether its one I’m giving away or another one. That’s it.

Baron Fig Vanguard

THE FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, June 24, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email real address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win, not some junky account you never check. 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 and APOs only please this time. It would cost more to mail these overseas than the notebooks cost.


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

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Notebook Review: Apica C.D. Notebook Premium A6

Apica C.D. Premium Notebook A6

I’ve always heard such good things about the paper quality of the Apica C.D. Premium Notebooks that I jumped at the chance to finally try the A6 blank notebook ($10.25). Its a small pocketable softcover with warm white pages and a slightly metallic graphite grey cover with a bookcloth taped spine. It has 96 pages and crisp square corners. It’s about a half an inch larger in height and width than a pocket-sized Moleskine if you’re not familiar with the A6 size.

Apica C.D. Premium Notebook A6 writing sample

Inside, the paper is a soft, warm white. Not ivory, just a natural white and silky smooth.I used the notebook on and off for a week before I felt like I oculd make an informed opinion about the notebook because I had some surprising results the first couple times I used it. I had heard that the Apica premium paper was awesome so I assumed my fountain pens would work great.

What I discovered was that, for me, it was too smooth for most of the fountain pens I use. The inks from fountain pens either took too long to dry or kind of bled a bit and softened around the edges. And the paper was so smooth that I felt like I was chasing the smooth nibbed fountain pens around on the paper. However, what I did like using on this paper were felt tip pens like Microns, the Sharpie Pen, brush-style felt tips or even a PaperMate Flair. The felt/fiber tips seemed to have just enough traction on the slick paper to make for a wonderful writing experience. Gel pens and rollerballs also did well on the paper too. The one fountain pen I did find that worked well was the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen so I suspect that other microfine fountain pens might also perform well.

I had decent results with colored pencil. I tested graphite after I photographed. Palomino Blackwing 602 smudged a bit because its so dark but a harder 2H Turquoise worked quite nicely. I think a standard HB or 2H pencil or a mechanical pencil on this paper would be a good match up as well.

Apica C.D. Premium Notebook A6 writing sample

Overall, once I got over my disappointment that this notebook wasn’t going to be THE notebook for fountain pens, I ended up really liking it. I really like the size, the soft cover and creamy paper. It creates a nice form-and-function arrangement that I really like.


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.