Tag: planner

Kickstarter: Write Your Own Adventure – 2017 Planner

Just yesterday, Ask The Desk was filled with questions about planners for 2017 and this morning I discovered the Write Your Own Adventure planner from Emma Kate Co. in Australia. This looks like such a good option for 2017 that I backed the project and bought two. When they arrive, I plan to give one away because I think it will make a good blog holiday gift. Let’s hope they ship in time.


The planner is hardcover with die cut tabs at the bottom of the pages and the weekends are given more space than the weekdays. I don’t know about you but that just about aligns with my life. I do way more on the weekends than I do on the weekdays. Or I try to cram more in, anyway.

There is dot grid and simple details with minimal design elements and just a few little quotes throughout. Just enough to feel nice but not so much as to feel cluttered.

The book is available with a grey or blush pink cover, I ordered one of each.

I’m looking forward to a year where I can write my own adventure. How about you?

Ask The Desk: 2017 is Coming! Planning Emergencies!


Heather is looking for a very specific planner replacement:

I’m looking for a new academic planner 16/17 (or second best choice would be kraft paper notebooks with lines and grids / dots) for the one I’ve just finished using from Paperchase. I’ve been looking and looking and not having much luck. I bought a really lovely, inexpensive monthly planner – it has a month on two pages (grid layout), followed by approx 40 lined pages and 40 grid pages, all kraft paper with black and white ink so lovely on the eyes. Its great to write on (gel pens, biros, not fountain pens) and is perfect for my needs as a TA. Paperchase have released one like this for this coming year and I can’t find another supplier that does them in the same size. The notebook is 190mm wide and 245mm high, and has a sewn edge binding. Short of making one myself (wouldn’t even know where to start on that route!), can you advise where I might find something of comparable size and paper? I’m ok with setting it all out by hand, but I’d prefer to buy one ready made. Maybe a blank date one? Its the size that I need most, followed by the kraft paper element.

Heather, I have to admit you’ve left me a bit stumped. I can’t say that I’ve seen a kraft colored planner before your letter. On my search, the only options I found for kraft paper planners was a vendor on Etsy called Letter C Design who makes small planner booklets in kraft paper. I don’t think that’s at all what you were looking for. If anyone else has seen anything in the wild, please leave information in the comments.

Cole asks:

I’m wondering if you can help me find a thin gridded (dot or cube) notebook that could fit inside the pocket of my Leuchtturm 1917 medium? Something similar to the address book that comes with the planner? I LOVE my “official” Bullet Journal, but I’ve noticed there are a few things that I will want to migrate from Journal to Journal, WITHOUT having to recopy it into a new journal. My best example would be my room x room floor plans with paint/color samples. I like to have my floor layouts and color samples with me so if I’m antiquing, garage sale-ing, etc I can quickly reference them to see if I’m buying something that won’t go in my house. I’m now carrying my Bullet Journal everywhere, so I’d love to have it in there, but I don’t want to have to recopy the floor plans every few months. Is there a small “travelers” type notebook that would nicely fit in the pocket that could be transferred from journal to journal?

An A6 (approx. 4×6″), B6 (approx. 5×7″), Field Notes or Passport sized book would fit easily into the back pocket of the Leuchtturm1917 A5. In A5 or B6 sized, I recommend the Life Pistachio or Vermillion notebooks. They have good quality paper, available in grid and are about $4 each. The Pistachio have green lines and the Vermillion have, you guessed it, red lines. Of course, Field Notes are readily available from many shops and the Pitch Black edition is dot grid. Passport sized Traveler’s Notebooks would also work but are quite petite.

Chris needs helps:

I’m eagerly awaiting an A5 Roterfaden, and need a week on two pages insert for the remainder of 2016. Yes, I could just use my existing Midori TN calendar, but I’d like to find something A5 that is already bound and printed. No luck searching Etsy and the Midori version is sold out on Baum Kuchen. Ideas?

I spent weeks looking for a solution for Chris and came up empty handed. Traveler’s Notebook calendars in the classic TN size are in abundance as are the Field Notes/Passport sizes but A5 versions are as rare as Snorlax these days. Unless you are willing to go the print-your-own route, there just aren’t options for A5 calendar booklets to fit custom covers like the Roterfaden or leather Traveler’s Notebooks.

My best suggestion at this point is to finish the year with the standard Traveler’s Notebook calendar and then move to a 2017 A5 planner calendar. The other option is to embrace the DIY option and print out the large cahier format from Ray Blake’s My Life All in One Place printables page.

If anyone knows a good alternative for Chris, please leave a note in the comments.

Ellie seeks:

I’m starting to look for my 2017 daily planner. I’ve used Moleskine at first, but the paper quality kept getting worse every year. I then switched to Paperblanks, their daily option was a bit small for me but their Fabriano paper was quite good. After they changed their paper supplier last year I’m once again in need of new options. I’m looking for an A4 or A5 daily diary with a minimalistic, Moleskine-like page layout. Hobonichi is too expensive and Leuchtturm is not an option, the paper is beautiful but the ghosting is so bad I only write on one side of my Leuchtturm journal. I need sturdy pages since I tend to ask a lot to my journals, draw, write with wet inks, glue scraps of paper on it etc. I’ve seen Fabriano Ecoqua makes beautiful planners, and they would be easy to purchase here in Europe, but I can’t find any feedback online and I don’t want to buy blind. is the paper the same quality as the Ecoqua pads? What about the binding? I’m hoping some of your readers have tried the Ecoqua planner or know of any other options. Thanks for reading!


fabriano 2016-2017 planner

Has anyone seen the Fabriano Ecoqua planners in person yet? I haven’t but I am just as curious about how they will stack up.  I found the Ecoqua 16-month ($22.50), the 2017 weekly planner ($12.50) and the 2017 Daily Diary ($12.75 and $17.75, depending on size). The paper on these books looks quite thin as you can see the numbers printed on the reverse in the photos so I suspect they went for thinner paper for portability over thicker paper for legibility. Sigh.

Amanda wants to know:

Who offers the thickest paper stock (hopefully smooth) for 2017 diary refills for Kikki.K and Filofax Personal, Pocket and A5 planners? Thank you!

So far, the best pre-printed planner pages are either Kikki-K or the new Filofax Illustrated refills are the thickest stock. I also had some personal sized refills purchased at Michael’s from their Recollections line that used some great paper. If you happen upon this collection and are using the personal-sized planners, I can definitely recommend grabbing a few packets if they are still stocked at your local store.

Review: Filofax Lockwood Personal Planner & 2017 Illustrated Stripes Insert Set

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Filofax Lockwood Personal sized planner in aqua ($102.15) might not look like a huge change from my Original in dark aqua but, its not the color that’s the change so much as the overall construction. The Lockwood is the freakin’ MacGyver of planners! Its got pockets and slots galore where the Original is stripped down to the essentials. The Lockwood is a higher quality, more supple leather too where the Original is a thicker leather but much more rigid.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

From the inside views, you can see the narrow slit pockets on the Original and the black elastic band on the Original. The Lockwood could easily be filled with business cards, ID and bank cards and double as a wallet and planner. OR the pockets could be filled with items to color-code, annotate or decorate the planner. I haven’t quite decided what to put in the pockets yet. After years with the mostly useless pockets on the Original, I’m stymied with the options.

The plus for the Original (for me) is that the elastic pen loop is on the left hand side and pretty flexible making it capable of holding a lot of different pens and quick-access for a lefty. A lot of right-handed users found the left-hand loop awkward. The Lockwood puts the pen loop under the clasp. Its still elastic but its a tighter elastic and the placement makes it more difficult to put any but the thinnest pens or pencils in it since they bump right up against the inserts and are restricted by the length of the strap.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Inside the back cover, the Lockwood features a long secretary pocket and a smaller horizontal slit pocket as well. The Original has the secretary pocket too and a top slit pocket as well as the mysterious lower slit that I never actually found a use for.

The Lockwood has a more finished look on the inside with the stitching on all the pocket edging and the leather facing carried under the ring binder. I feel kind of grown-up with the Lockwood. Its like my “big girl” planner. Even though its mermaid-colored.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Hey, look! One of my letterpress notepads with the side binding fits perfectly in the secretary pocket. Brilliant!

Filofax Lockwood Personal

On the backside on the cover is yet another pocket, this is a zippered pocket that looks perfect to hold receipts, coins or other small bits. This planner is the total cargo pants of planners, I swear.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

Here’s a top view of the Lockwood planner filled with my regular calendar pages, notes pages, assorted bits, page markers and my notepad in the back. Well stuffed, indeed.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I tucked my Fisher Space Pen in the pen loop which was one of the few pens that fit comfortably without reeking havoc with my tabs. So, I’d definitely recommend a slim pen or pencil in the pen loop or skipping it altogether sadly. Its the only flaw I’ve found in this planner. Everything else is fabulous.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The front slit pocket easily holds another notepad, pad of sitcky notes or, as I discovered later, my iPhone. It makes this a great planner for meetings or someone who goes back and forth to a lot of places and needs to be able to juggle a planner and a phone.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I discovered that the horizontal slit in the back of the planner is perfectly sized for a small pad of stocky notes, if that floats your boat.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

I also thought it would be handy to compare the personal-sized Lockwood to an iPad Mini. Its almost the same dimensions, just a good deal thicker when filled completely. I could certainly carry fewer pages in the planner but I thought I’d stuff it completely as a contrast to my month of austerity. I will probably trim it down a bit but I’m enjoying having ALL THE THINGS at the moment.

Filofax Lockwood Personal

The Lockwood is such a lovely planner. The fact that it has a million pockets and places to squirrel away bits of paper and cards just makes it better. The overall quality is excellent and the color is fabulous. I wish the pen loop was a little more user-friendly but I can stick a pen in any of the other cargo pants pockets on the Lockwood so I really don’t have anything to complain about.

And one more thing….

I also wanted to show the new Filofax 2017 Dated Illustrated Stripes refill set ($19.99). The set is also available for A5-sized planners ($26.99). Its a week-on-two-pages layout with lined pages and tabbed months that include a monthly calendar. The tabs and pages alternate colors in an array of interesting colors including tomato orange, navy, orchid, lime, and biscuit tan. The set also included an assortment of lined and blank note paper.

Filofax stripes inserts 2017

The big news was that the paper was listed as 80gsm which is considerably higher than the standard Filofax refills and better than the Cotton Cream which was always better than the plain white but has gotten worse over the years. So I thought I’d put it through some pen tests to see how it performed…

Pens used to test Filofax insertsFilofax stripes insert writing test

I didn’t hold back. I hit the paper with all my currently inked fountain pens next to this year’s Cotton Cream and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Illustrated Stripes paper held up to the abuse. The lines are usually pretty narrow on the Personal Filofax paper anyway since the books are pretty small so I tend to use fine pens, gel pens or pencils mostly. However, every once in awhile, I end up with a fountain pen in my hand when I have to jot something down so its nice to know that the paper can withstand a few lines without completely withering.

reverse side of Filofax stripes insert writing test

From the back of the paper it looks like the worst show through was the Edison Collier and a lot of red and pink inks are a bit more liquidy anyway. Everything else is completely tolerable. Especially when compared with how poorly the Cotton Cream did.

I’m so excited to start using the Illustrated Stripes Insert set. It looks good, works well with lots of pens and is readymade. As much as I like all the DIY options, I’m happy to just buy a pre-dated planner set-up and go. I’m not much of a planner decorator. I’d rather spend my free time drawing, painting or knitting and less time making my to-do list look fancy so these inserts totally solve a problem for me. They work, they look good and they are easy to acquire. I hope that Filofax will continue to innovate their planner inserts in the coming years so I won’t be forced to make my own.

DISCLAIMER: These items were sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens 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.

Ask The Desk: Fountain Pen on Washi Tape?


Shana asks:

I recently got a fountain pen after having lost one many years ago. (A noodlers Konrad, go flex!) I’m using it often in my planner, which also has a lot of washi tape marking appointments. So far the few inks I’ve tested seem to not like washi tape as a surface to be written on. What inks work on washi tape?

Shana, I went to my planner-and-washi-tape experts, AKA my secret society of enablers, for some information. First thing I discovered is that washi is a word that gets used by a lot of tape sellers to describe a wide variety of paper tapes, some more papery than others and others more shiny. The original paper tape from Japan, MT stands for “masking tape” and actually, the term “washi” refers to a specific type of paper made in Japan. So technically, the tapes we use in our planners is paper tape or masking tape.

I asked my pals if they’d had any good experiences with tape and fountain pens and, with the differences in tape shininess, your results may vary from theirs. In field tests, all my secret society testers agreed that, while they could theoretically get some fountain pen and rollerball ink to adhere to washi tape, it tended to bead up and take way too long to dry to be useful. Most recommended that if you wanted to write on the tape itself, to use a permanent pen like Sharpie Extra Fine Permanent markers, Staedtler Lumocolor permanent markers, Stabilo Write4all permanent or American Crafts Slick Writers. The testers also suggested that ballpoint pens and gel pens do as well, but the gel pen needed a lot of drying time. One tester had some luck with 6B, 7B or 8B pencil but a pencil that soft may have the tendency to smear.

You may want to look for some plain paper stickers as an alternative to washi tape to use in your planner if you want to use them for appointment notations and write on them. Particularly Flex nibs will be a particular challenge since they lay down a lot of ink in regards to dry time as well. Quick drying inks might help like Private Reserve’s Fast-Dry line or Noodler’s Bernake series.

So, the short answer is no. Fountain pens and washi tape are not the best of friends. Best of luck in finding the perfect pairing.

Planner Review: Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

Last year, when I first started dabbling in planners, I downloaded the Marcy Penner’s Hello Forever printable inserts for my planner. Since then, Marcy Penner has started designing her Hello Forever planning products for Studio Calico including a line of A5 planners (8.25″ x 9.5″ x 1.375″).

While Studio Calico is most known as a company that create products for memory keeping and scrapbooking, over the last few years, they have started moving into the creative planning world with a planning subscription service and the Hello Forever line of planning products. What I love most about both of these products is that, even if you are not into the decorative planning stuff, the designs are clean and well-designed. I’ve been a subscriber to their planner kit for several months and its one of my favorites offering clean, simple planner add-ons like stickers, washi tape and rubber stamps. When I saw the planners, I couldn’t resist.

I purchased the Hello Forever Planner in Clear Sky blue ($54.99) with a decorative floral pattern on the inside. I think of it as my “Missouri Compromise” — business on the outside, party on the inside. The simple, grey vertical elastic closure kept the exterior of the planner clean and simple and unfussy. The floral design on the inside is bright and cheerful and my little secret.

The overall construction of the binder itself is very good. The material used on the exterior of the planner is a smooth faux leather and lightly padded. Inside is a screen-printed pattern on white fabric. There are three pockets on the inside front cover and a secretary pocket. On the back cover, there is a loop of grey elastic for a pen loop. I would have liked a slot or pocket in the back for a notepad but, for the price point, I’m not too upset.

The ring placement is standard A5 6-hole and the rings are very tight. This means that the binder can accept inserts from any other A5 planner system or can use printables and a standard 6-hole punch.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The planner came with a complete set of undated inserts for the year, two clear decorative plastic dashboards, a black striped plastic movable bookmark, monthly tabs with pockets, half-sheet perforated to-do lists, two page protector sheets for holding photos, cards or paper ephemera, four pages of kiss-cut stickers, half-sheet perforated photo-a-day list sheets, month-on-two-pages undated calendar pages, undated week-on-two-pages weekly pages, monthly reflection pages, future planning pages, a year at a glance for 2016 and a perpetual planning booklet that can be tucked in the front pocket. There is also an additional sheet of sticker tabs tucked in the front pockets.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The front acetate sheet has a floral design, the second dashboard acetate has the red fishnet pattern and then under that is a cover page that reads “Today is the day”.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I can see the appeal for some of the photo-a-day perforated sheets but I’m not sure I’d have much use for these. I do like that they are perforated and can then be moved to a specific month in your planner.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

I love the clean, simple typography for the days of the week and the diagonal stripes on the moveable acetate bookmark. Striking design that could be embellished or kept clean and simple.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

The tabs are color coded and each one already has a pocket on the front of each month to hold receipts and other papers which is very handy.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

In the back are handy perforated half-sheet to-do lists like the photo-a-day sheets. I think these will be much more useful and include check boxes.  Perfect for grocery lists and other errands.

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

And of course, the big question everyone had was how does the paper perform. And I was a little worried because this is such a make-or-break issue and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was THRILLED to discover that the paper far exceeded my expectation. Our best guess is that its about 70lb smooth and there was no bleed or show through with any of the pens I tested. If Studio Calico keeps using this paper for all the refills they make for this planner series I will buy everything they make for it. The Platinum Carbon Black fountain pen ink didn’t even show through! That alone is a reason to try out this planner!

Studio Calico Hello Forever A5 Planner

This is the reverse of the paper and trust me when I say I did not manipulate this photo. No show through at all. I didn’t abuse it with a Sharpie marker or anything but the black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner had no issues with show through nor did my Franklin Christoph with Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses. with a Medium Stub. So, I did put it through a standard pen nerd’s everyday carry.

The A5 planner is also available in a greystone and melon with different interior accent colors.   If you’re looking for an alternative to the more business-y Filofax and Franklin Covey style planners but are finding the Carpe Diem and Color Crush planners a little “too much”, the Studio Calico Hello Forever might be the perfect balance between them. I hope that in the future Studio Calico will consider adding a smaller personal-sized version of this planner to their offerings since the size is the only thing holding me back from being madly, passionately in love with it. I’m not sure yet whether I can commit to carrying around a full A5-sized planner. But for the paper alone, I may try out carrying an A5 just to use the beautiful design and the fabulous paper. Studio Calico and Hello Forever really did make a beautiful planner and I’m looking forward to seeing how it wears over time.

Ask the Desk: EU EF Nibs vs. 0.5 mm gels, 3-Hole Personal Size & Planner Stamps


Renee asked:

I was interested in getting a pen that writes with a line similar to that of a .5 mm pen. I was considering a Kaweco sport given your enthusiastic reviews. Would a European extra fine do that?

The Kaweco might give a little bit wider stroke depending on the paper and/or ink combination than a 0.5mm gel or rollerball pen. Let’s do a little experiment!


I got a bunch of my favorite 0.5mm gel pens and pens I felt wrote comparably to 0.5 like a Sharpie Pen and the Staedtler Triplus Finalizer. Then I got out a bunch of European (and American) EF and F nibs and a few Japanese, just for comparison sake, and wrote their name and then drew a slow line using a ruler to try to get as close and exact idea of their line widths. I stand by my theory that the Kaweco EF and F are almost indistinguishable and about the same width as the Pilot Metropolitan M. I’d say those are a bit wider than the 0.5mm gel pens. The Pilot Metropolitan F, TWSBI EF and Monteverde EF were closer in width to the 0.5mm. For some reason, I did not have a Lamy EF in house.  The Lamy F was wider than even the Kaweco F or the Pilot Metropolitan M so if you’re looking at a fine line from Lamy, definitely aim for the EF. But if you are dabbling in the Japanese pens, you could go as broad as a M and still get a very fine line. Good luck on your fountain pen adventures!


Steve asks:

I have a small cache of 3.75″ x 6.75″ 3-hole ruled paper. The 3-ring binder has long since died. Any ideas on where I might find a new binder?

I was unable to find any 3-ring versions of a 3.75″ x 6.75″ binder. However, I was able to find 6-ring binders. The size is the same as the Filofax Personal-sized, DayTimer (portable), DayRunner (small). Mead even makes loose leaf notebooks in this size  for about $10. The paper might need to be punched with additional holes but the current popularity of the personal sized Filofax and similar planners means that 6-ring binders and refills will continue to be available for years to come. A copy shop might be able to punch the holes for you or you could purchase a hole punch and do it yourself.

Sarah asks:

Do you have any recommendations for planner stamps? I initially wanted to use the Pilot Frixion stamps because they are self-inking and erasable, but couldn’t find a complete set from any American retailers (except on Etsy and eBay, where I’d have to pay a huge mark-up). I bought this set last week and I’m pretty happy with it, but I wonder what other people are using.

This is a fun question, Sarah! Thanks for submitting it. I have found that I really like the clear cling planner stamps from either Hero Arts, Studio Calico or Studio L2E. Since they come on small flat sheets, they are easy to store and carry. You can even pick and choose from a variety of different planner sheet sets to build your perfect set for your planner. Most clear stamp sheets come on sheets ranging in size from about  4″ x 6″ and larger with lots of word and symbol stamps on each sheet.


  1. Studio Calico Stamp Set: Bullet By Hello Forever $15.99
  2. Hero Arts To Do List $15.99
  3. Hero Arts My Week $15.99
  4. Studio L2E Plan It Stamp Set $15

I keep a small acrylic block, similar to this set, in my pencil case and a small stamp pad for stamping. If you discover that you have specific stamps you use all the time, you can also just  adhere them onto something more permanently. Some are small enough to fit onto the end of  a bottle cap, old marker or dowel to make a more permanent stamp.

Happy stamping!

If you have a question for The Desk, use the “Ask The Desk” link at the top of the blog. Thanks!