Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season, we are offering all our readers 20% off all merchandise in our shops (Big Cartel & Etsy). Use the code THANKS at check out to apply discount. Coupon code is good through Monday, November 28, 2022.*

This is our way of saying thanks to all our readers and Patrons for the support this year. It means the world to us that you read, comment and support our inky adventures!

*Offer good on in-stock merchandise only. Discount does not include shipping.

Link Love: Black Friday Edition

Link Love: Black Friday Edition

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is tomorrow so if you’re reading this then you are either “pretending to work” your final day before the holiday weekend or you are using this post as an excuse to ignore a family member under the guise of “checking your work email.” Happy to provide a diversion.

Now, I want to remind you of two big events coming up.

First, Friday is the most consumer of all holidays, Black Friday. As most of us are probably already inundated with email newsletters about upcoming sales, I won’t list them all here as we have done in previous years. There are too many deals, discounts and sales to keep up with. Suffice it to say that this weekend will be chock full of fountain pen related deals. If you are hoping to recommend a gift idea to your family to purchase for you or you like to pick up a few things for yourself in the midst of shopping for gift cards for your nieces and nephews (like I will be doing — teenagers, need I say more?), then check out all your favorite online shops starting today through Monday.

Second, the annual Pen Addict Gift Guide episode is back! And unlike last year, I will be on the podcast to make lots of recommendations and generally heckle Brad for waiting so long to have me back on the show. I am not sure exactly what date the episode will go live. Myke will not be available to record the episode with us so it might not go up until next week but be assured… it’s coming!

Gift Guides:




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

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December is for finishing.

“Start as you mean to go on.”

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy starting out the New Year with a fresh slate. This means that in the next month I’m reviewing everything I have going on and trying to figure out how I can finish as much in December as possible. On my list to be conquered:


I don’t know how I have so many books in progress. This year I set my Goodreads goal for 50 total books read, which is something I’ve been able to do easily in the past. Somehow I seem to have started a ton of books and left them unfinished. Sometimes it was because they were dense, sometimes my loan ran out before I finished, sometimes I started it and wanted to come back to it later. Regardless, I have 5 books left to read to meet my goal, and 7 books on my “currently reading” list. They are (in no particular order) –


For many years I was pretty good about finishing everything I started in knitting. As I’ve taken on more sample work, and it has become more of my job, I find myself shelving lots of my own projects to make way for more urgent ones. But half-finished projects clutter up my crafting space, mean that I can’t find needles and other tools when I want them (because they’re in bags somewhere) and generally give me things hanging over my head. So I have three projects I’d like to focus on.

  • Painting Honeycombs by Stephen West, yarn by Zen Yarn Garden – this was a knit-along that I helped lead during the year and didn’t get to finish. I’m about half done, and the blanket is only throw sized, so I should be able to finish with a week or two of dedicated work.
  • Oyster by Quail Studio, yarn by Rowan – when Rowan’s spring collection came out I was taken with this cotton cardigan. I thought it was super cute and hoped to wear it all summer long. I’ve finished the back, and started one of the fronts, so I bet I could knock it out with a few weeks of work. Of course I won’t wear it until spring….
  • Choose Your Adventure Gnome by Sarah Schira, in my handspun – earlier this year I couldn’t resist signing up for a gnome along. This time rather than being a cute little handheld gnome toy, I chose the large option and I’m creating a gnome that will be 3ish feet tall (see hand for scale?). I’ve ordered the stuffing and everything, but I stalled after finishing the pointy gnome hat. This one should be easy to finish – just a few nights of work and it would be such a fun podcast co-host!


Do you have anything you’d like to finish out this year so you can start with a clean slate in 2023?

Bag Review: Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote

Bag Review: Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote

My new job required that I upgrade my “daily carry”. Partly this is a result of needing to schlep my laptop to and from meetings around the office and partly because I needed a safe way to transport my laptop and accessories back and forth from home. We can work from home a couple days a week and, as we get closer to icy, snowy weather, the likelihood of needing to work from home made finding an adequate tote bag a priority.

I did a good deal of research trying to find a bag that looked durable but not too heavy. Once you drop a 16″ MacBook Pro into a bag along with notebooks, pens, and other daily needs, I didn’t want to walk with a limp. I had a beautiful Kate Spade leather tote at one point that I never carried because the bag, even when empty, weighed about 5lbs. According to the Apple web site, the 16″ MacBook Pro weighs 4.7lbs! That thing is HEAVY! So schlepping my laptop back and forth was going to require a nylon or canvas bag to reduce overall weight.

The Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote both fit my needs and had a couple added bonuses. First, its made from recycled water bottles so its a recycled fiber. And the price is considerably reasonable — it was about $68 when I purchased it two weeks ago.

A peek into the center front zippered pocket. Large enough to swallow my Passport-sized Traveler’s Notebook wallet.

The bag includes a bevy of pockets on the exterior: two center front pockets (one snap and one zippered), a pocket on each side large enough for a travel umbrella or a water bottle, and a snap pocket on the back that has a zipper at the bottom to allow the pocket to morph into a trolley strap to loop over a roller suitcase handle when traveling. This will prove handy in 2023, I am sure about that!

Both center front pockets will accommodate a cell phone of just about any size. The front snap pocket was large enough to slide my iPad Pro 9.7″ though it does stick out a bit. But still… big pocket!!!

View of the back pocket showing the zipper at the bottom

The large center compartment has a lightly padded section to put a laptop. It recommends a 15″ laptop so I took my chances sandwiching my 16″ MacBook Pro into the pocket but it does fit. There is enough space in the rest of the bag to fit my B6 notebook, pen case, sundries zip pouch and a cosmetics pouch.

There is even an elastic loop to hold a pen above the interior zip pouch where I store an eye glas cleaning wip and a couple spare face masks.

I like the light grey interior fabric which makes it easy to see inside the bag. I had been using a Fjallraven Totepack but there is no lining added to those bags so whatever color the exterior of the bag is, that’s the color of the interior as well. I bought a sensible black Fjallraven and the interior is the black hole. I can never find anything in it without taking everything out or using a flaslight.

The loop straps are long enough to go over my shoulder even with a winter coat on and the crossbody strap provides an alternative way to carry the bag if I’m walking long distances and the shoulder strap gets heavy. The cross body strap does not have any padding so I wouldn’t recommend this bag if you are looking for a more messenger-style bag.

Is this bag cool? No, not really. Its functional and plain but it doesn’t make me feel like a bag lady or too fancy to pair with a sweatshirt and yoga pants either. It feels professional without being too posh, if that makes sense.

The plethora of quick-access exterior pockets are great if you do mostly car commuting. City folks on public transport might prefer a bag with more enclosed pockets.

I had really wanted to get a Bellroy Tokyo Tote but it wouldn’t accommodated a 15″ or larger laptop. I think this Baggallini Essential Laptop Tote is a good alternative if you are carrying a larger than average laptop. And for the price, the quality seems excellent.

DISCLAIMER: The item in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.

Pencil Review: Midori MD Paper Products Colored Pencils

Review by Tina Koyama

“Play your notes, to hear the sounds of pencil on paper.” It’s hard to resist an invitation like that! Under the MD Paper Products name, Midori makes understated pens, notebooks, letter-writing paper, planners and other products. It also makes colored and graphite pencils to match that muted esthetic. Today I’m reviewing the colored pencils (6/$12); the graphite pencils are coming up soon. 

Made in Japan, the three colored pencils (two pencils per color in the set) – light gray, light blue, coral – coordinate beautifully with Midori’s delicate palette. The matte-finish, semi-hexagonal barrel is very pleasing (soothing, even) to touch. As with all Midori products, the branding is subtle – “MD Paper Products” in small, black block letters.

My favorite design element is the unpainted – but not unfinished – end. The very slightly convex cut reveals the well-centered cores. Like the rest of the pencil, it’s a sublime yet distinctive touch.

Since I’m somewhat spoiled by top-notch colored pencils, I didn’t have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Harder than Prismacolor and softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos, the MD pencils have a slightly waxy feel rather than creamy. The swatches show consistent layering in a relatively smooth Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. 

Coral and light blue are not colors I would typically choose to sketch a cow, but what the heck – it’s a good way to stretch my color imagination. Pigments apply well, and the pencils are pleasant to use (and to hold! I love the matte finish). For the sketch, I used a toothier Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook, and the pencils are soft enough to show the paper’s texture easily. (I used a graphite pencil for the cow’s details.)

If you’re not into sketching or coloring, these pencils could be also used for highlights or notations that don’t sear the eyeballs. In fact, I would love to see Midori expand the palette just a bit wider. We have plenty of small colored pencil sets in the standard rainbow – how about a set of 12 including more understated hues? Like a pale mint (Ana would surely want one of those), delicate rose and lavender? I’m ready for a unique set like that.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Gentleman Stationer for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Peek: Ferris Wheel Press Velvet Ballet, Land of Shangri-La, Atlas Iron Ore

Ferris Wheel Press has amazed me with the number of new inks they have recently released. This month was no exception, with four additional inks. Three of the inks are shown here today – The Velvet Ballet, Land of Shanghai-La, and Atlas Iron Ore.

The Velvet Ballet is a great holiday or winter ink – not a bright holly berry red, but a moody maroon or burgundy reminiscent of heavy velvet curtains in a theater.

Ferris Wheel Press Wondrous Winterberry – a holiday release from 2021, is a brighter red. Diamine Oxblood is a good color match, although The Velvet Ballet is darker.

When I first swatched The Velvet Ballet, I thought it was quite light on sparkle compared to other Ferris Wheel Press inks. Once the swatch dried, however, I realized that it seems to use sparkle that is less… thick? I believe the sparkle is finer in this ink than those I’ve worked with in the past.

The Land of Shanghai-La ink is an ink created in connection with the Shangri-La Hotels Canada.

This ink is a tough one to fit into a color category – it reminds me of a dark version of Stipula Musk Green, but it doesn’t look like that ink up close. The overall impression in person is definitely a brown with green undertones – the photo below looks dramatically different than it does to my eyes without the camera. The image below shows as a dark green with yellow undertones. This isn’t what I saw, though!

The shimmer in Land of Shangri-La is lighter in shade than the FerriTales rose gold shimmer – it is called out as champagne. I believe that’s why I perceived this as a much browner ink. However, when I tried to capture that color in a photo, it did not cooperate.

Finally, Atlas Iron Ore. This is a special edition ink with Atlas Stationers in Chicago – a perfect color for them!

The base ink color in Atlas Iron Ore is more of a faded black than a dark grey. Monteverde Coal Noir is close, but is lighter than the Atlas ink.

The shimmer in Atlas Iron Ore gives an overall impression of a metallic iron.

The impression of the three inks I’ve shown here today make me imagine a moody Christmas or an evening close to the winter solstice. Days that are mostly night, chilly weather and a warm fireplace, plenty of heavy clothes. The perfect time for hot chocolate.

DISCLAIMER:  Some items included in this review were provided free of charge for the purpose of this review. You can help support this blog by joining our Patreon. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: In A Friend-zy!

Link Love: In A Friend-zy!

I’m not the only person at The Desk who has had a change in career this month. Ms. Jesi also started a new job this month and, much to my delight, the company she is working for is headquartered here in Kansas City. So, this week, Jesi had to fly to KC to come to her new office. Which means, Jesi and I will get to spend a little time together.  It also means that I’m more excited about playing with pens and friends than writing about them today.

I hope you all get to spend some time with some of your pen friends this week, maybe at this week’s Pelikan Hub meetups? If not, maybe you can find other ways to connect with someone as passionate about this hobby as you are.



Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

We need each other. Please support our sponsors, affiliates or join our Patreon. Your patronage supports this site. Without them, and without you, we could not continue to do what we do. Thank you!