Posts Tagged ‘notebook’

13 Things to Do With All Those Blank Notebooks

Over the holiday break I did a lot of tidying up around my home office/studio and one of the things I came across was the supply shop quantities of notebooks I have in my closet. Some I’ve taken out of the cellophane wrapper and tested for a review and then they languish in the cupboard. So I’m “saving” and some I might not have liked as much but they could still be useful.

Then I heard Myke talking about trying to use the notebooks he has and I started trying to come up with things I could do to put these notebooks to good use and simultaneously be more productive.

Here’s a list I compiled from various sources and my own crazy ideas for things to do with that pile of empty notebooks you might have laying around:

  1. Daily Journal
  2. Morning Pages/Free Writing/Brain Dump
  3. Lists (Bullet Journal)
  4. Mind Mapping
  5. Sketchnoting
  6. Practice your handwriting
  7. Test all those pens and inks
  8. Commonplace book
  9. Dream Journal
  10. Travel Journal
  11. Book (to-read or read) Journal
  12. Disassemble, cut or remove the pages to use as a notepad or hole punch and put into a binder
  13. Collage, art journal or sketch book

I’m sure I didn’t think of all the myriad of possibilities but I hope these ideas might inspire you to crack the cover on one of those notebooks you have squirreled away. Do you keep a notebook dedicated to a different subject or have a recommendation?

I found a lot of other people writing about this topic with the start of the new year. Lots of people are trying to commit to writing more, journaling or getting organized and nothing will get you there faster than just writing stuff down.

Review:Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

The Kaweco Zequenz notebook is a very different take on a notebook. Its actually two notebooks held together by a z-fold PU leatherette cover. One side is a light brown, the reverse is a dark brown. Around the middle is a wide dark brown elastic with a leatherette embossed logo that creates a pen loop section on the elastic.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Sorry for the slightly out of focus image but its the only shot I took that shows the elastic removed completely from the notebook. This is a plus for anyone who finds the attached elastics on Moleskine-style notebooks annoying. However, I’m concerned I’d misplace the elastic.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Here you can see the z-fold style cover that attaches the two different notebooks. One side is filled with lined paper and the other side with blank paper. The paper is the same shade of white in both books and the same weight, just one is lined and one is not.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

There are 60 sheets of paper in each book and the whole notebook is under one inch thick.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

The line spacing is a bit wider than I usually prefer at 7.5mm. I like 6-7mm but its a nice middle ground for the size of the notebook and general preferences. The ruling is a very fine line in grey so its not distracting and should not interfere with most ink colors or graphite darknesses.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Its a pretty small notebook overall, an A6 (148x105mm or 5.8″x4.1″) which makes it pretty portable, perfect for notes on the go, meetings, or travel journaling. Potentially, one side could be dedicated to work notes and one to home notes or two specific projects. There’s a lot to be intrigued about this notebook set-up.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

I’ve read other reviews (search Pennaquod for “Zequenz” to find all the other recent reviews) about this notebook and a lot of people seemed really disappointed in the ink handling — especially for a company know to sell a wide assortment of fountain pens with lots of nib sizes. So, for me, I went into the testing expecting the worst. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised. The paper is super smooth making it pleasing to write upon.

I started the tests with fountain pens and didn’t see any feathering or terrible bleeding but I did not put it to the limits. There was a little softness with some pen/ink combos but I made a point to test with either a Kaweco pen or Kaweco ink and the paper held up pretty well.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

From the reverse side, you can see a little show through and I suspect a darker ink would have shown some bleed through but overall my results were not as terrible as I had been expecting. The paper is definitely better than a Moleskine notebook and its a soft white instead of the yellowy ivory color so that’s something.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Where the paper really seemed to shine was in testing everyday gel and rollerball pens and pencils. Pencils were particularly nice on the super smooth paper. I can see where sketching on this paper would be quite pleasing.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Again, there’s a little show through on the reverse even with the non-fountain pens but not so bad that I wouldn’t use both sides of the paper.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

What I did notice was that my Sport Series pens did not fit into the pen loop very well, at least not securely enough for me. That was super annoying.

Kaweco Zequenz Notebook

Full-sized Kaweco pens like the Dia II and Student fit snugly but do fit into the loop. I suspect the Special series is too slender to fit the loop so the pen loop on the elastic has limited uses. I would probably just use a clip on the Sport series pens, and clip it to the elastic band.

Overall I’m intrigued with the Zequenz. I appreciate that Kaweco tried to do something different with their notebook but I feel like a few of the decisions made in production were iffy at best. I think I’d prefer the Zequenz to be a customizable system. At present, there’s just one option with the notebook and if you don’t like one or the other paper format, you might just walk away from the Zequenz altogether. I’d like to to be able to choose a real leather cover rather than PU and for the books be slip-in inserts. That way I could choose which two notebooks and/or replace one side or the other as needed. Then notebooks could be offered in plain, lined or grid, and maybe a heavier stock specifically for fountain pens. If the elastic either had no pen loop or I could choose between a small, medium or large loop, that would also be preferable. Am I just envisioning a z-fold cover version of a Midori Traveler’s Notebook? I might be.


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

The Tab Notebook

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

This week, on a random hunt on Amazon, I came across the Suck UK Tab Notebook Set. This is a set of four A5 notebooks, each with a diecut tab in four different positions. This set of books would be perfect in a A5-sized (Midori Traveler’s Notebook-style) leather cover. Might be worth searching Etsy for a good cover to go with these pretty books.

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

The covers are kraft card stock and each book is filled with 64 tinted pages with narrow spaced ruled lines. One book is filled with blue paper, one with pink, one with yellow and one with green.

I don’t know anything about the paper quality since I haven’t ordered a set…yet but I quite like the looks.

(The SUCK UK Tab Notebook 4-book set sells for  $15.)

The Tab Notebook Set by SUCK UK

Show & Tell: Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Edition : “Simple Minded Silver Streak”

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak

This is my first DDC Factory Floor edition of Field Notes. These were released for the Draplin Design Pop-Up Store in Portland but a handful were made available on the Draplin website. I was able to score two 3-packs.

I’m feeling oddly collector-y about these. Usually when I buy two sets of Field Notes, I give one set to my husband and as soon as he saw these he was all grabby hands and I swatted him away.

Each of the three books has a different color cover: metallic silver, orange and a copper-y color made from combining the orange and silver inks. Inside is bright white 50# paper with orange grid ruling. All of this information I’ve had to cull from the internet because I can’t bring myself to break the shrinkwrap seal yet. For a more in-depth review, check out the Gentleman Stationer who had the decency to take these out of the wrappers.

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak backs

In retrospect, I think I should let these be opened and used in the manner they were designed to be used. Leaving them in shrinkwrap indefinitely is no way to live. I think in 2015, I hope to stop “collecting” and start using the Field Notes I’ve accumulated.

How about you? Collector or user?

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks


Code & Quill Notebooks
are a new Kickstarter project that was designed to appeal to anyone who needs to combine note taking with sketches or more freeform content. The “indentation rule” is particularly unique in that it provides tick marks along the line to help with indentation often used in coding. I’ve seen this type of indentation in some Japanese notebooks as well to space kanji characters properly but it has not appeared in any western notebooks that I know of.

The Code & Quill notebooks are available in either softcover or hardcover editions. Both books are 5.5″ x 7.7″ (a little smaller than A5, AKA approx. US half-sheet). The softcover books feature 300gsm glossy covers and the hardcover books are covered with a textured PU material which is a leatherette coated with polyurethane for added durability. I like the stitched labels on the cover that give some subtle, unique branding to the books.

Inside, both versions feature 100gsm eggshell white paper with minimal grain. On the left hand side of each spread is a dot grid pattern and on the right hand side is “indentation rule,” both printed in light gray to provide a visible guideline but not so dark as to inhibit visibility. The paper has been tested with a fine nib Lamy AL-Star with Noodler’s Waterproof black, Noodler’s Heart of Darkness and Lamy black. The fountain pen test done thus far met the expectations of the creator.

The books were designed here in the US but the final production will be in China in order to meet demand and keep prices competitive. All production will be closely monitored by the US design team to meet their exacting standards.

The softcover edition is called the Traveller and a pledge for one notebook starts at $15. The hardcover edition is called Origin, and a pledge for one starts at $20.One of each is $30. US backers will receive free shipping but international backers will have to cover shipping.

The Kickstarter launch ends Feb. 5 so there’s still time to back this project if its of interest to you.

Kickstarter: Code & Quill Notebooks

Review: Nock Co DotDash Pocket Notebook (and Giveaway)

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

The big news just before the holidays was the launch of the new NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebooks. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these. Everything NockCo has done thus far has been excellent and I expected no less from these pocket notebooks.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

Inside the front cover is space to include personal information and notes. There’s also a message at the bottom that if the notebook is found, to contact NockCo directly. I’m not entirely sure what NockCo will do but if you include your name and contact info, they might be able to cross-reference with your order history and reunite you with your notebook. So best fill this in!

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

A set of three books is just $9, each book opens at the top like a reporter pad and features white 50lb paper with the DotDash grid pattern in a light grey color. Each pad is 3.5″x5.5″ and includes 48 pages and bright yellow card stock covers.

The pads will fit easily into NockCo’s Maryapple and Hightower folios with easy access to your notes without removing the pad to write your notes.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

On the inside of the back cover is the printing information. These are first editions, for what its worth.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

In writing tests, most of the pens I tried wrote well on the smooth stock. There was a little softening on the wider nibbed fountain pens but no true feathering or splining (you know, those shoots of ink caught by the fibers in the paper that often happen in Moleskines?)

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

From the reverse, there’s some show through mostly with the fountain pen inks. In a flip pad though, the likelihood of writing on the reverse side of the paper is pretty slim. I sort of wish the pages were perforated to make it easier to remove pages.

NockCo DotDash Pocket Notebook

Overall, I really like these pads. I do hope that there are other colors offered for the covers in the future. The bright yellow is fun but other colors would be fun.

Now…

THE GIVEAWAY: I have an extra set of three DotDash notebooks available to giveaway. Leave a message in the comments and tell me what color covers you’d like to see next (or if you love the yellow ones) to be entered to win.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. This giveaway is open to all readers.


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

 

Word.Notebooks: Polygons and Indigo

Word. Notebooks in polygon and indigo

Back in 2013, I reviewed the Word.Notebooks but have not spent much time with them since. The original assortment in Camo, Orange and Kraft colors didn’t inspire much loyalty from me but when I saw the indigo series and the polygon series, I was moved to gives these more consideration. I liked the look of the indigo and polygon books and they seemed to be doing something different from Field Notes.

I’ve also recently started to employ the Bullet Journal system to my to-do lists and notetaking so the Word. Notebooks seemed like a good fit since they use a checkbox-and-line layout on the pages.

Word. Notebooks indigo

The indigo series includes two Japanese asanoha pattern books and one indigo dotted polygon design.The covers of these books are kraft colored cardstock with a navy indigo and opaque white litho printing.

Word. Notebook Polygon

The polygon design books are available in 3-packs of either orange, blue or grey or a mixed pack of one of each. I went with the mixed 3-pack so that I could experience all three color options. The colors in this set remind me of orange sherbet, ice blue mints and milky tea. These covers are printed on bright white cardstock making the colors pretty bright instead of the traditional kraft coverstock.

Word. Notebooks comparison

Inside both books feature the same lined paper in bright white with light grey lines and the Word. Notebook bullet system. There is a key to their notetaking system on the inside cover though I’m inclined to integrate the Bullet System iconography instead. The lining is light enough to be useful without being distracting.

Word. Notebooks polygon paper Word. Notebooks indigo paper

As mentioned in my previous review, the Word. Notebooks do a decent job with most regular pens and writing tools. Fine line fountain pens don’t feather or bleed too badly, there’s slight showthrough but not too bad. With pocket notebooks, there can be a trade-off between price and portability versus fountain-pen friendliness. To get paper that is fountain pen friendly is to either increase costs, dry time or thickness which reduces the portability and quickness of using a pocket notebook.

That said, overall, the Word. Notebooks are a pleasing option for a pocket notebook. If you are looking for a book specifically for lists, its a win-win.

Three-packs of Word. Notebooks are available for $9.99 per set from their web site.

Hacking a Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Like Field Notes, Hobonichi Techno and Filofax, there’s a rabid and growing following for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. At its essence, the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN) is a simple leather cover with elastics to hold small bound notebooks and accessories into it. As more people use them, the more they’ve added to them — from simple DIY inserts for all sorts of tasks, list, planning and goals to posh handcrafted leather accessories. Here are a few of my favorites ways to customize and hack a Midori Traveler’s Notebook to best suit your needs and preferences.

Baum Kitchen MTN leather zipper pouch

Baum Kitchen leather zipper case/card holder [Essential 2.0] $72
This is a US made, natural leather rubbed with cedar oil insert. The front section provides an assortment of slits for cards and large flap pocket for paper ephemera. The back pocket is a zipper pouch. Adding this insert can easily turn your MTN into a wallet and be your all-in-one life keeper. The [Essential 1.0] includes just two credit card pockets and a larger slot for miscellaneous paper for $65.

DIY kraft card divide tabs for Passport sized MTN

Patrick Ng of Scription created custom kraft card tabs that he attached various envelopes to each kraft tab and filled with various items like postage stamps and notes. While he did not provide a specific tutorial, I think it would be easy to reverse engineer what he did using existing file folders trimmed to size and taped together or cutting tabs from a plain piece of board. I would probably use bookbinders tape to hold the pieces together but clear, plastic packing tape might work just as well.

pen & ink sampler pages for MTN

My Life All in One Place has created several printable inserts including 2015 calendar pages, pen and ink sample test pages, Seyes french-ruled paper,  and even knitting grid paper.

Seyes French Ruled Midori Traveler's Notebook printable pages

If you think making your own inserts might be fun to do, check out the companion video about how to trim and assemble your custom printables to fit into a Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

MTN 2015 calendar printable inserts

Check out my previous post with other hacks and add-ons for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

Field Notes Cherry Wood vs. Shelterwood

Field Notes Cherry Wood vs. Shelterwood

I recently picked up a set of the Cherry Wood standard edition Field Notes and thought it would be fun to compare them to their older brother, the Shelterwood. The first thing you’ll notice is that the Cherry Wood color is lighter than the Shelterwood and the Cherry Wood has black printed text on the cover instead of the translucent white on the Shelterwood.

Field Notes Cherry Wood vs. Shelterwood

Inside, the Cherry Wood features the more popular graph paper with ochre brown lines. The Shelterwood features lined paper in a similar brownish color.

Both books have gold staples, if you care. I didn’t test out the paper but I suspect that the Cherry Wood paper, filled with the standard edition paper stock, Finch Opaque Smooth 50# text stock, will perform as well as the standard Kraft editions. The Shelterwoods were stocked with a bit heartier Finch Fine “Soft White” 70# text stock which is a tiny bit thicker and warmer color.

As someone who prefers lined or blank paper over graph AND I use a lot of fountain pens, I think I prefer the Shelterwood but I’m sure lots of people will be thrilled to be able to get a steady supply of the Cherry Wood.

Cherry Wood editions are available as open stock at Field Notes. A 3-pack is $9.99.

Field Notes XOXO 2014 “Glitch” Edition

Field Notes XOXO Edition

A few weeks back, Field Notes announced that they had a small quantity of the XOXO 2014 “Glitch” edition of Field Notes leftover after the conference available for sale. They had a strict one-pack policy for them but it was a chance for non-conference goers to get their hands on a pack of these rare, limited edition Field Notes. And this set is truly unique.

Field Notes XOXO Edition

The aesthetic of the XOXO set is basically a misprinted look of the classic Kraft edition Field Notes. What makes these so eye-catching is that the graphics are askew, off-center and misaligned. The registration key, which would normally appear along the edge of a press sheet for the purpose of color accuracy and registration, is printed across two of the books in plain sight! One cover has the “Field Notes” logo so off-center it is split across the spine. On the back of one book is the designer “sign-off” on the press run “OK BB CP” and the date which means, in press speak, Mr. Bryan Bedell was at the press check on 8/14 and approved the press run. Its right there on the back cover! This whole print run must have given the pressmen twitches.

Inside, the graph paper lines are wavy and the inside covers are just plain wonky.

Field Notes XOXO Edition

As someone who works in the print industry, we often use the misprints, the screw-ups and the scarp bits for notes and other uses so we don’t waste paper. This series of Field Notes captures the feel of that world in a slightly controlled way. And all the little designer-y marks like the registration and color key and sign-off all make me kind of happy. They are all industry insider details. Super nerdy.

Field Notes XOXO Edition

I’m so glad I was able to get a set of these. I will probably happily use them as well because I just find the quirks too fun.

I never thought I’d go nuts collecting Field Notes but here I am with several sets of special editions and a ton of Colors editions. Though, I still maintain a solid stance that Field Notes are meant to be used and, to me, they will still have their air of specialness even after they are dented, dinged, creased and filled with notes and doodles.

Hands On: Field Notes Colors Edition Ambition

Field Notes Ambition

I finally received my Field Notes Colors Subscription Ambition edition. I’ve been super excited about this set. I like the different paper formats and the inclusion of the planner is a great chance to launch into 2015 more organized than ever.

Field Notes Ambition edging

The embossed logos in gold over the jeweled French Speckletone cardstock covers feels vintage and fresh, all at once. The gilded edging is a beautiful detail and looks so good with the deep jewel tones of the covers. Such a  treat!

I’m probably one of the few people who will probably never use the graph paper book. If anyone wants to swap their ledger paper for my graph paper, drop me an email.

Field Notes Ambition paper

I haven’t done any writing tests with the new Cougar 50# natural white featured in the Ambition edition. Yet.

At least not knowing what the paper is. I did get to test drive an assortment of papers over the summer for Field Notes but it was a blind test so I’m not sure which stock was finally chosen.  I returned my test writings to Field Notes HQ in July so I don’t know which paper was what. Hopefully, it will live up to me expectations. I tried some very nice options in those blind tests.

Field Notes Ambition comparison

The Traveling Salesman edition is one of my favorites so I was excited about the ledger format too. The photo above is the new Ambition ledger paper (back) next to the Traveling Salesman. I still love the green tinted paper (of course) but the light brown lines of the Ambition ledger paper is easy on the eyes and so classic.

If you’ve ever wanted to introduce a friend or family member to the joys of Field Notes, this edition is a great place to start. Grab as many sets as you can before they run out. $9.99 for a set of three. Colors Subscriptions start at $97.

See other great Field Notes Ambition write-ups from:


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Field Notes and Coudal Partners for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Kickstarter: Spark Notebook

Just launched today is the Spark Notebook Kickstarter project. The idea behind this notebook is to provide one place for all your planning, ideas and projects in a sophisticated package. The book seems to embody a desire to help get you organized and focused on your project and goals above everything else. And in a really clean, appealing package in the process.

Between the simple black covers are 200 pages that feature:

  • Yearly Goals & Mission pages
  • Yearly Theme page
  • Monthly Overview (6 months)
  • Monthly Goals (one for each month)
  • 30 Day Challenge (one for each month)
  • Weekly Inspiration
  • Weekly Goals to prioritze goals
  • Weekly Overview
  • Project Planner
  • Meeting Notes
  • Lined pages for notes
  • 20-Blank, perforated pages
  • Two-page markers
  • Date-free calendars

Spark Notebook page view

The books are 5.75×8.25″ (145 x 210 mm) in size, comparable to a standard Moleskine Large notebook or a Leuchtturm1917 large notebook. The paper inside is 70# white, enough to keep most pens from showing through or bleeding to the reverse side.

Anyone who backs the project will receive access to downloadable PDFs of the page layouts to start using the moment the funding campaign ends, so you can start using the system right away.

For a  $25 pledge, you can reserve one notebook. Its a little pricier than the average lined or grid notebook but a lot of additional content is provided within the covers. A pledge of $79 will get you four notebooks to stockpile or share with co-workers, family or friends and reduces the per unit price to be quite competitive with the average Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 notebook.

Spark Notebook Info

I was just thinking it was time to pull all my note taking and project management between two covers. Maybe this is THE solution for me.

Will you back this project?

Ask The Desk: Pocket Telephone Books

rp_askthedesk_hdr2.png

Looking for 2 7/8  x 4 1/8 pocket address book [ little black book]
Where can I get some ??
Sincerely, Howard

At-A-Glance Pocket Telephone Address Book

The closest I could find is from Mead or At-A-Glance. The At-A-Glance Pocket Telephone Address Book pages measure 2 1/8″ x 3 1/4″ and retail for $4.09 each. There is a larger At-A-Glance Small Designer Telephone/Address Book that’s page size measures 2 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ and retails for $8.69 each. This book also has tabbed pages with alphabetical tabs for quick look-up.

The Mead Telephone/Address book has pages that measure 2 3/8″ x 3 1/4″ and retail for $2.19 each. Mead also has a slightly larger 3×4″ version of the Mead Telephone Address Book which might be closer to your specifications for $2.49 each.

You might also check with your local office supply store or big box retailer to see if they stock these products. Best of luck on your search.

Mead Telelphone Address Book

Field Notes: Ambition (Winter Colors Edition is OUT!)

Field Notes Ambition cover

Field Notes is not resting on its laurels. The Winter 2014/15 Colors Edition “Ambition” is certainly an ambitious edition. The three books are stunning in rich autumny tones with gold embossed logo lettering on the cover and gold foil edges. Each notebook serves a different function: the olive cover features ledger lines (the same as what was featured in the Traveling Salesman edition – one of my favorite editions), and the wine-colored cover covers a book of graph paper, and the chocolate colored cover hides 56 pages of weekly planner pages. Get a jump start on 2015!

The paper inside each book is Cougar Opaque 50# Natural White text weight vellum and, of course, there are matching gold tone staples biding the books together.

Field Notes Ambition gold edges

No better time to start a Colors subscription ($97 for a year of quarterly offers plus a 3-pack of the classic Kraft editions) than with this edition. Or purchase individual sets for $9.95 per set.

Field Notes Ambition inside lines

I don’t have mine in  hand yet but I cannot wait for this edition and I’ll definitely have to order additional sets. It would make a good stocking stuffer too.

Review: Levenger Circa Leather Pro Folio Notebook in Black

 Circa Pro Folio

Honestly, the Levenger Circa Pro Folio is the most posh thing I think I’ve ever owned. Its a letter-sized, black leather folio with a Circa notebook inside. I’ve always been intrigued with the Circa system. It seems to be a great way to have flexibility with a notebook – add, rearrange or remove pages easily without the inconvenience of a 3-ring binder. The Pro Folio takes this to a whole new level.

 Circa Pro Folio Presentation Box

I’m not inclined to go into a lot of detail about packaging but the box that the Pro Folio came in deserves notice. It felt like a box worthy of the product inside. The Pro Folio came in a heavyweight, glossy bronze box with an fabric elastic closure and subtle “Levenger” embossed on the box – prestigious without being fussy.

 Circa Pro Folio in box

Inside, the leather Pro Folio was wrapped in a felt cloth to protect it. The wrap was tastefully stamped with the Levenger logo.It reminds me of how high-end handbag manufacturers provide a felt bag for storing purses when not in use. Very elegant.

 Circa Pro Folio

By the time I had completely unwrapped it, it felt like my birthday. Inside was this beautiful, black leather folio. The Pro Folio is made of a soft-to-the-touch leather but has a sturdy material stitched inside to keep the covers rigid. It would be easy to use this folio on your lap in a lecture or meeting, if necessary. The leather along the spine is supple and the folio easily opens flat. I suspect the cover could fold back on itself but I can’t bring myself to mar the leather spine trying it.

 Circa Pro Folio detail

 Circa Pro Folio

Inside the front cover are two pockets for business cards and a larger slot for loose papers. The back cover has a full-length slot for holding the Circa notebook in place. The folio came with a standard Circa notebook with black rings and a clear, frosted plastic cover. The Circa notebook has 0.5″ rings and contains 60 sheets of 90 gsm soft white paper. The paper is lightly lined in a pale grey with a wide left margin left blank and spaces at the top for date and topic headers.

The folio will accommodate up to 1.5″ rings and 200 sheets of paper so there’s definitely room to grow with this folio.

 Circa Pro Folio Paper

I was so grateful to discover that such an extraordinary leather folio contained equally stunning paper. It took ink beautifully. Since Levenger does sell fountain pens I would have been surprised if their paper didn’t behave well with fountain pens. However, I was delighted with how well it behaved. The lines were light enough to accommodate even the lightest ink colors and pencil without obscuring legibility while keeping all the fountain pen lines crisp.

 Circa Pro Folio Writing Samples

I had the tiniest bit of show through with the Mont Blanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey ink in my 1.1mm fountain pen but all the medium and fine nibs didn’t have a hint of show through which means this paper really can be used on both sides.

The Levenger Circa Pro Folio retails for $109-$129 depending on size.


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

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 2 (and Giveaway)

Productive Luddite Notebooks

This is part two of the Productive Luddite notebook reviews. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One, check it out.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The first up is the Blog Paper notebook ($14.95). Its another soft cover book with 108 pages between the 7×10″ glossy black covers. (I completely forgot to photograph the cover so I’m using the promotional image. You can see the spine in the stacked photo and the glossy stock like the New Daily Planner reviewed in Part One). Inside is bright white paper with tinted areas to plan a blog or a post or just employ the various sections for your next project.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper

The pages are laid out to emulate a traditional blog page with a header at the top, a notes section for writing, a sidebar area, a footer and a section for tags for your post. The layout allows for other kinds of note-taking too beyond blog posts or blog planning as each section allows for various content — the sidebar for to-dos, the center section for project, class or meeting notes and the header can just be for date and subject.

Productive Luddite Blog Paper writing sample

I find the form factor very interesting but, sadly, the books are glue-bound so it does not lay as flat as I’d like it. I’m more inclined to work on the left-hand facing pages as a result which makes me feel even like a weird lefty. Oh well.

The paper is good with most pens. Rollerballs, ballpoints, gel pens and pencils all worked great and fountain pens did not feather but there was a little show through on the reverse of the stock with wider nibs.

Productive Luddite Freestyle Really Big Notebook

The Freestyle Really Big Notebook $29.95 (and available in ten different colored covers) is an extra large notebook boasting over 800 pages of space for your biggest projects. The book is 7×10″ and as thick as a New York City phone book (when NYC still had phone books). The paper is the same bright white as the Blog Paper notebook but the only printing on the pages is a small grey page number in the lower corner of each page. With no lines to mar the paper, you can easily use a guide sheet or two behind your page to turn each page into lined, grid or whatever your whim.

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In the front of the book is an index to help organize and locate your idea in the massive book.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

I found the paper particularly receptive to whatever tool I threw at it, even some juicy brush pens with minimum show through. Colors stay true and there’s enough heft to the paper to tackle some light washes, colored pencils and other art-making tools.

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook  writing sample

There was a little feathering around the edges of my Lamy Studio 1.1mm writing with the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Permanent Grey but overall, with finer tipped tools, the writing was really good and would make this paper a good candidate for writing or drawing.

Because of the size of this book, there can be some awkward writing angles if you’re working at the very front of the book or the very back but there are some compromises if you need 800 pages in your notebook.

With the soft covers, I don’t know how well this book will hold up after you fill all 800 pages, the spine and covers might show some serious wear. If you finish a whole Freestyle Really Big Notebook, I want to see pictures!

Productive Luddite Really Big Notebook reverse writing sample

Overall, I think Productive Luddite is doing some really unique things with their products and the prices are really good.

Giveaway:
Productive Luddite is kindly allowing me to give away three Freestyle Really Big Notebooks and three Matte Black Star-Studded Samplers. Six winners in all. Winner’s of the Really Big Notebook can pick the color of the color. Just “like” Productive Luddite on Facebook to be entered to win and then add your entry via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest eligibility limited to US Continental addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

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The folks at Productive Luddite sent me a massive pile of notebooks to try and share with you. When I mean massive, I mean MASSIVE. The Freestyle Really Big Notebook is letter-sized and features 800 pages. So they are serious when they say “REALLY BIG”. The Matte Black Action notebook features ten different styles of paper in ONE BOOK. So, its a complicated task to review — its like reviewing a dozen notebooks.

I decided the only way to give each notebook its proper due is to split the review into two parts. First up is the New Daily Planner ($8.99) and the Matte Black Action Notebook($9.95).

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The New Daily Planner is an interpretation of the Chronodex-style daily planner. It’s a soft cover, perfect-bound, 6″x9″ with 104 bright white pages. The cover is a gloss black cardstock with bold white lettering.

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Inside, on the first two pages are places to include your personal information and instructions on using the clockwork-style planning system.

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The first few pages include monthly and yearly planning on a clock which I am not sure how useful that would be but the rest of the book is daily clockwork pages. Because of the perfect binding, the book does not lay flat easily but the soft cover means that its easy to fold the cover back if you prefer to work that way.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I tested an assortment of pens in planning out my day. There is some bleeding with fountain pens on the paper but rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils and gel pens all performed well. The paper is thick enough that with non-fountain pens, there was no show through on the reverse side of the page.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I use a lot of fine and exra fine nibbed fountain pens so you can see that the ink does spread. As cool as the planning calendar is, this notebook definitely requires a specific set of writing tools for best results. I think I’ll pair it long-term with one of my multi-color gel pens like the Zebra Prefill or Uni Style-Fit so I have lots of color options and no need to worry about bleed, show through or squishy-looking writing. I might assign specific colors to specific sorts of tasks: blue for work, green for blog, red for home, etc.

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The Matte Black Action notebook has a matte soft-touch coating on the cover. I believe my husband’s exact words (as a printer) was “matte aqueous soft touch coating on coated stock”. Thank you , Mister Specific. The bottom line is it gives the book a pleasing feel similar to the finish on the Field Notes Drink Local Colors Edition. Inside the book is 100 ivory-colored pages in ten different form factors including blank, lined, grid, dot grid, and many more.

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I tested the 8″x8″ sized notebook but the Matte Black Action Notebook is available in several other sizes if square is not your cup of tea.

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Toward the back of the book is journal and list-making pages with grey printing to demarcate the header area from the rest of the page.

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In the very front of the book is a page for personal information and pages to index or tag the pages in the book. This would be particularly helpful if you are using blank pages for sketching, list pages for to-dos and lined paper for writing — all for the same project. You can list the page tags in the front of the book to make it easy to find the various pages.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

All the pages have page numbers in the lower right hand corner unless you are a contrarian left-hander that flips the whole book upside down regularly to get the best writing angle (see above).

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

I tested most of the various paper styles. What I found quite exciting is that the paper was quite fountain pen friendly. I had no issues with bleeding, feathering or show through with any of the pens I tested. The paper did seem like it was slightly heavier than the white stock in the New Daily Planner so maybe that little extra weight made it epically more fountain pen friendly?

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The paper styles, though, seemed to have inconsistent line weights. I found that the dot grid dots seemed overly large for my tiny writing. I mostly wanted to play connect-the-dots with these pages. The graph paper lines seemed much heavier and darker than the plain lined paper. I quite liked the color and thickness of the lined paper which is at the front of the book so when I got to the grid and dot grid I was a bit disappointed.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

Towards the back of the book was reverse grid  and dot grid paper (grey with white lines) which I much preferred to the lines on the regular grid and dot grid.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The great thing about the Matte Black Action Notebook is that its a great introduction to all the various forms that Productive Luddite offers in their Everyday Carry Notebook line.  All the EDC line notebooks are available in ten different sizes ranging from 4×6 up to 7×10 in horizontal, vertical, square and some variations. There are definitely lots of options!

With one $9.95 purchase, you have the chance to try all the form factors and determine which is your favorite. If you’re inclined to use some grid, some lined, some lists and so forth the Matte Black Action notebook may be the right choice for you.


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

Review: Knock Knock “Dress Your Desk” Accessories (& Giveaway)

The fine folks over at Knock Knock sent me a few of their Dress Your Desk office essentials. I received two sets of Not-Your Average Index Cards, a Random Notes notepad,  a Whatever Lined Pad and a set of Honest Acronym File Folders.

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I cannot tell you how much the Honest Acronym File Folders make me smile. The set comes with six different files folder ($9) with bold acronyms on the front in an array of bright colors. They are tabbed with a white area on the tab to write and inside the folder is a full lined “page” for adding additional notes to your file. The folders are super-thick cardstock with a gloss matte finish which means they’ll stand up to lots of abuse. I recommend writing on the tabs and inside with a ballpoint pen or alcohol-based marker like a Sharpie ultra fine marker. I plan on using some labels, typed on one of my vintage typewriters. I think that would look fab. I’ll be using the ASAP (As Slow As Possible) for bills and there’s a project at work destined for the WTF (What’s This For) file.

Knock Knock Index Cards

I received two sets of the Not-You-Average Index Cards ($6 per set), the “tabbed” index cards and the “indexed” index cards.

There are 60 cards in each set, tied together with a printed rubber band. Each set of cards came with three colors. The “tabbed” set is an assortment of of yellow, lime and green with 7mm line spacing and the “indexed” set is an assortment of red, pink and orange with 6mm line spacing. I didn’t notice that the index cards were different line spacing but if you have a preference it’s good to know. Both sets have die cut notches about a half an inch from the left edge that is wide enough to hold the rubber band  that’s included with each set.

The cards are a bit heavier weight than the average office supply store grade index cards. The printed border colors and lines are vivid and fun but not so bright or dark as to obscure most standard pen and ink colors. Where I work, we live and breath 3×5 cards and these will certainly beat the plain ol’ white cards I normally use.

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In writing tests, the index cards performed admirably. None of the fountain pens, rollerball or felt/fiber tip pens I used feathered or bled at all. and the inks did not show through or bleed through to the other side either meaning that both sides of the cards are truly usable.

Knock Knock Index Cards Writing Samples

Knock Knock Index Cards Writing Samples

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad

The Random Notes pad ($7) is a 6×9″ gummed pad printed with an assortment of areas to take notes, doodle or make lists all while looking like you’re paying attention in your next droll meeting. There’s 60 sheets in each pad so you’ll have plenty for every dull meeting.

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad Writing Sample

Overall, I was quite impressed with the entertainment value AND the paper quality of the pad. There’s a blank area, a dot grid space (4mm spacing), a gridded section (about 3.5mm grid) as well as a lined area (7mm spacing). At the top is space to add a date and time of the note-taking adventure.

Knock Knock Random Notes Pad Writing Sample

Using my TWSBI Mini with a dark blue-black ink, I got a little show through and a little bleeding in the darkly colored areas. There were a few dots of bleed through on the next sheet. Otherwise, for a novelty scratch pad, this is good paper.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad

The Whatever Lined Pad ($7) is a classic pad styled like a legal pad with the folded paper binding at the top, perforated, lined and a creamy orange color with green and grey lines.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad Writing Sample

The paper is definitely better quality than the average budget, legal pad. At the top is three ares for “Who(ever)”, “When(ever)” and ‘Where(ever)”. Along the left side is  a large, blank  for an additional list, check marks or cross-referencing. There’s a large margin at the bottom as well.  The line spacing is 6mm.

Knock Knock Whatever Lined Pad Reverse Side

I tried all my currently inked fountain pens with pleasing results. There was no feathering of any of the inks or pens that I used and only a little bit of show through, though I admit, I seldom use the reverse side of legal pad paper. Do you?

Overall, I loved all these products and I have to admit I was not expecting such a high level of quality in what I’d thought of as “novelty products”. Knock Knock really knocked it out of the park.

So, how can you get your own “Dress Your Desk” Essentials?

Dress Your Desk Campaign:

First, check out all the great Dress Your Desk Essential products.

Then submit photos of your desk to Knock Knock. If selected, your desk could be the “Featured Desk of the Week” on the Knock Knock blog and our social channels. To share with your photos, just tag Knock Knock on FB, Twitter, or Instagram and use hashtag #DressYourDesk for your chance to be the “Featured Desk of the Week”.

The Awesome Offer for Well-Appointed Desk Readers:

All readers can get 20% off at Knock Knock by using the code DESK20 on their next order. The code works one-time use per customer code and its only good through 11/1/14.

Also, if you sign-up for the Knock Knock newsletter, you can get 15% off orders over $50.

and finally, THE GIVEAWAY:

Knock Knock has kindly offered to give away a new set of these Dress Your Desk Essentials selecte by The Well-Appointed Desk. Winner will receive all the products reviewed here:

  • Tabbed Index Cards
  • Indexed Index Cards
  • Random Notes
  • Whatever Lined Pad
  • Honest Acronym File Folders

I’m trying out Rafflecopter this time around so leave a comment on the blog and tell me what your favorite “desk essential” is to be entered.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Commonplace Book Ideas

Throughout my life, I’ve made various efforts to keep a journal or diary of some sort. Sometimes, I was at a crossroads and needed a place to think through my plans, goals, needs and wants. Sometimes, I just wanted to be able to remember who I met and where I went. Today, so much of our lives is documented in someway digitally– Facebook, Instagram and Twitter catch bits of our thoughts, photos and memories– but I still yearn for something tangible.

I found 10 Commonplace Journal Ideas on Quinn Creative and love the ideas that were recommended to jump start a commonplace book. Quinn recommends documenting the weather; the foods you eat; the music, film and other media you consume; how much things cost; maps; quotes and ideas as well as looking back over previous years to see if your ideas or opinions or tastes have changed over time. This seems like such a simple way to keep track of a few moments in your life without committing to writing lengthy, soul-searching entries that might require carving out hours from each day to accomplish.

I’ve actually been employing some of the ideas mentioned in my Hobonichi this year but Quinn’s suggestions gave me a few more ideas to add to it.

The Commonplace Journal Ideas post lead me on a hunt for more information and other ideas about keeping a commonplace book and there are pages of search results on Google. Some focussed more on the more traditional use of a commonplace book which is seen to be a place for writers and poets to collect quotes and fragments of story ideas to be used later.

I found a post that talked more about a system to organize a commonplace book on yihogyun.com that seemed to integrate some of the same principles used in the Bullet Journal system (indexing, page numbering, etc).

If you have the passion and/or the time to write or draw or document at length, I would not discourage doing something bigger but, sadly, most everyone I know says they never have nearly enough time to do all the things they want to do. So, maybe a commonplace book is a good way to capture the flavor of each day without requiring an excessive amount of time?

Do you keep a commonplace book or something similar? What do you record in it?

Tomorrow is Social Media Blackout Day

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The good folks at KnockKnock are launching the Anti-Social Network Journal, and encouraging folks to participate in the Social Media Blackout Day tomorrow, Thurs. Oct. 16—a day to log off all those social networks.

SocialMediaBlackout_Profile_FIf you’d like to participate (or share on your social networks), show your support by changing your avatar/icon to the image attached and post a status of “Today is #SocialMediaBlackoutDay and I’m unplugging for 24 hours. Join me!” Their goal is to raise awareness on the impact social media has had on our lives and encourage people to log out and live in real life again, or at least for 24 hours.

Since my post yesterday, I think a little 24-hour detox from Instagram, Twitter, blogs and such is just the thing I need to recharge my batteries — and maybe get a few reviews done and a few letters written.

I’ll see you back here on Friday!

Art of the Day: Oliver Jeffries

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Oliver Jeffers sketchbook illustrations for the United Airlines in-flight magazine. It looks like they were drawn a pocket-sized Moleskine Cahier using waxy colored pencils and some white ink or gel pens. Gorgeous!

I made a bunch of maps for the United Airlines inflight magazine. They are all geographically accurate.

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Visit Oliver Jeffers site to see all the images from the collection and admire his other work as well. Check out the sketchbook section to see some amazing collages and messy, well-loved sketchbooks.

(shoutout to The Cramped for the tip)

Review: Monologue Journals and Sketchbooks

Monologue journals

The folks at GrandLuxe sent me a whole heaping pile of their new Monologue journals. I received four A6 (5.5″x3.5″) sized books and three A5 (approx. 8.25″x5.5″).

Monologue journals

Even from the edges, you can see there are slight variations in each book to suit lots of personal preferences. The red A6-sized has pages that are  undersized to accommodate a golf-sized pencil tucked in under the edge for the cover with an elastic to hold it securely. The bottom two books have elastic loops to hold a writing tool. The orange book in the middle is a flip-top reporter-style sketchbook. The books and the top of the pile and the bottom are from the “platinum” line that include matching metallic edging on the pages.

Monologue journals

The books fall into two paper categories, the standard weight writing paper  (80 gsm acid-free) and the heavier sketchbook paper (140 gsm Italian high quality acid free). The black Monologue Basics sketchbook and the orange reporter-style Monologue sketh pad both feature the plain heavyweight sketchbook paper. The sketchbook paper is treated with a vegetable gel for long-lasting stability. All the other books have the lighter-weight, lined writing paper and additional paper treatment is labelled.

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Review: Clairefontaine ME Notebooks

ME Journal from Quo Vadis

The new Clairefontaine ME (Multimedia Enhanced) Notebooks are a combination of the Quo Vadis Habana notebooks in size and performance with the addition of a companion iPhone, iPad And Android app and QR codes on each page of the notebook to link multimedia content to the notes you take.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis inside cover

The most unfortunate part of this book is the horse-y type and the lame logo. It just kills me to see such beautiful paper and a well-crafted notebook saddled with ugly design. Luckily, these pages can be razored out once I get the hang of this app. (Hey, Clairefontaine! I’d happily redesign these pages and the logo for you. Call me.)

Moleskine worked with Evernote to create a notebook to archive your paper notes which is different from what Clairefontaine is doing. The ME Journal is designed to link additional content to your notes; be it audio, video, links or still photos. I could see this being useful in meetings where whiteboards are used and need to be referenced later. Linking photos of the whiteboards to paper notes would be hugely helpful.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis writing sample

The advantage of the ME Journal is the awesome Clairefontaine smooth, ivory paper at 85 gsm. Except for the over-sized QR code, the paper is the same fabulous quality as all the other Quo Vadis and Clairefontaine products. This paper loves fountain pens and almost any other tool you throw at it. The QR code is an added bonus for when you might want to link other content like sound, video, web link or photo.

ME Journal from Quo Vadis hot pink cover

Underneath the paper wrap is a debossed logo of the less-than-attractive “ME” logo. It can easily be covered with a sticker of your own choosing.

ME Journal + app

I test drove the combination of the ME notebook plus app while in Portland this weekend. I tend to build lists of books to look for whenever I go to a bookstore and Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a full city block worth of books. I was definitely going to need a big list and capture books I might want to purchase at a later date. I was able to combine images of book covers I found with notes in the book. I have been taking pics of book covers to remind myself for ages but being able to catalog it with the specific location where I found it will make it even more useful in the future.

I do think I need to put a note next to the QR code if I make a digital note so that I remember to cross reference. Once the QR is used or scanned, it cannot be used for additional content. So, just one piece of media per page.

ME app screenshot

The view from within the app shows a library of captured items. Clicking on each item will reveal more details including the date captured and play the sound or video. Its fairly straight forward to use. The only stumble is the “return” key in the keyboard is actually the “submit” to complete a text entry or tag on an image, video or sound clip. Once I figured that out, everything was pretty straight forward.

By the end of the weekend, I had covered the front of the notebook with stickers to hide the ugly embossed logo and I had ripped out the front pages with the instructions as well. In the end, I find this to be a very useful notebook and found several occasions to link written text to digital content via the app. I don’t shoot a lot of video or sound but was intrigued about capturing ambiance from my travels with the app to augment my written experiences.

The ME series is the same price as the standard Quo Vadis notebooks so the choice is yours. I find that the added benefit of the QR codes outweigh some of the aesthetic issues and you can still use the app at any point (or not at all) in filling your book.

ME Journals are available in large (6.25 x 9.25 ”) and pocket (4 x 6.375”) sizes in three colors: red, black or raspberry pink. Check your favorite online retailer to purchase (most of my sponsors are currently stocking the ME Journals).

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

The Rhodia 80th Anniversary Limited Edition Set is finally available for purchase at $10 per set. The set includes a No. 80 sized tablet with a black cover and special Rhodia logo cover design and a black Rhodia pencil with matching pattern printed on it. the whole set comes in a special orange gift box.

Details:
Graph paper with faint grey grid
90 gsm, acid-free ivory paper
140 Pages (70 sheets)
6 x 8 ¼” (14.8 x 21 cm)

Rhodia 80th Anniversary Set

I don’t have any of the Rhodia paper in ivory with the grey grid so I might buy it for that though I’d hate to break up the perfect collector set. How about you?

(via European Paper)

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