WAY Off-Topic: Kitty Fundraiser

WAY Off-Topic: Kitty Fundraiser

I realize that today’s post is WAY off-topic but I hope you’ll forgive me for the unusual post for today. I promise not to inundate you all with kitten posts forever.

Happy, healthy kitten cuddle pile

The story:

We found a mama cat, Zoey, and her litter of SIX kittens under a garden shed in our neighborhood. We cared for Zoey as best we could until the kittens were old enough and mobile enough to come out from under the shed and into our home. We were able to capture them all on May 3, 2020 and they are now growing safely and quickly in our home.

We named each kitten after something from the garden that kept them safe in their infancy: Tater, Carrot, Apple, Clover, Pickle and Pepper.

Tater is a little out of focus but looking regal.
Zoey, our mama cat, tired and thin but happy and getting some much needed rest thanks to her team of foster humans.

They are all happy and healthy but vet and food bills for 6 hungry kittens and Zoey is more than we were expecting so we are going to be doing a series of fundraisers to help offset the costs and make sure that these kittens get the best possible care before they are adopted to their forever homes.

If you would like to contribute to our kitten fund, our delightful, supportive friends, Tag Team Tompkins, have donated prints for us to sell. to purchase the prints, please visit our Big Cartel site.

If you would prefer to make a small donation, you can send funds via PayPal.

If you are in the Kansas City area and are interested in adopting any of our little cuties, please drop me a message via the “Ask The Desk” form at the top of the website.

Thanks so much for allowing me to go off-topic today and for any support you can give. We will be back to our regular content tomorrow.

Pen Review: Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent Markers

Pen Review: Staedtler Lumocolor Permanent Markers

Review by Tina Koyama

I have been looking for waterproof, write-on-anything markers that are less stinky than Sharpies. As a secondary issue, and perhaps I need to lift more weights, but am I the only one who has difficulty pulling caps off of some Sharpies? I usually end up marking myself somewhere due to the violence necessary to pull them off! Some caps also feel dubious when replaced – they appear to be on, but when substantial force is used, it finally closes completely with a sluggish thud. I might be spoiled by Japanese pens with caps that are removed and replaced easily, but I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. Anyway, it was time to give Staedtler Mars Lumocolor Permanent Markers a try. 

I picked up a wallet-enclosed set of four basic colors in point size medium (4/$10.80). The Lumocolor is also available in extra fine, fine and chisel points in sets of four or eight colors ($21.60), and black is available individually ($2.70).

Containing an alcohol-based ink, the Lumocolor does have an odor, but I find it less offensive and not as strong as Sharpie. In addition, the Lumocolor gets major points for having a cap that pulls off easily and is replaced with a satisfying, audible click – as you’d expect from any decent pen. Yay!

The Lumocolor’s medium bullet point looks smaller than the Sharpie’s fine point, but its written line is broader. I tested it on three notebook papers (from top) against the Sharpie: Hobonichi’s Tomoe River, Field Notes’ 70-pound Strathmore Cambric and Col-o-ring Oversize. I also show the reverse sides in the same order. The Lumocolor bled through slightly more than the Sharpie did, but it’s also a broader nib.

I also tested the Lumocolor on a glass jar and its metal lid. It writes very well on both. The ink did not budge with vigorous scrubbing.

For the cap alone, I was ready to switch to Lumocolor as my waterproof, permanent marker of choice. Reading the fine print on the barrel, however, piqued my curiosity in a different way: It says that the pen is refillable. What? 

According to JetPens’ product description, the pen is not refillable. I tried unscrewing the end cap, expecting to find a removable cartridge inside, but nothing unscrews. A little Googling led me to Staedtler’s site, which confirmed that the Lumocolor is, indeed, refillable! In fact, it’s refillable in a way that is familiar to all Desk readers: The ink comes in a bottle similar to fountain pen ink, and it refills through the nib (with the bottle’s “refill station”). Bonus points for being more environmentally sound than most toss-away markers!

Less stinky, easy cap, less plastic to toss – all reasons to use the Lumocolor.

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 JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pencil Review: Uni 3-Color Erasable Mechanical Pencil

Pencil Review: Uni 3-Color Erasable Mechanical Pencil

In a recent JetPens shipment, I purchased the Uni Color 3 Erasable Multi Mechanical Pencil  0.5 mm in Pure White ($8.25) which is a 3-color multi-pencil. While I suspect you could “build your own” multi-color multi-pencil by purchasing several pencil inserts for a multi-pen, this is a simpler and probably less expensive route for carrying more than one color pencil at a time.

While three color options might not be enough for most people, for quick sketches, proofreading or grading, this might be a perfect solution.

The mechanism for the Uni Color 3 works the same as other Japanese multi-pens. There are three slides at the top of the pen (one being the clip) that will reveal a tip when pressed down until it clicks. Tapping the slide repeatedly will advance the lead, holding down the slide will allow you to push the lead back up into the housing and clicking on any other slide will cause the revealed tip to spring back into the housing.

Because the leads are 0.5mm, if they are out too far, they will break so be careful not to expose too much lead or press too hard when using them.

I’m happy with the color of the red and blue leads though it is fairly easy to find 0.5mm red or blue leads if I wasn’t. The orange, which is more unusual is a bit lighter in overall pigment density. It would probably work fine for underlining or adding small details in a sketch or drawing but it would not be my go-to color in this set. In fact, I would probably consider swapping it out for a standard graphite lead rather than try to replace the orange lead when it runs out.

I decided to test out the Uni 0.5mm Smudge-Proof Lead in F ($2.95) as an alternative to the orange colored pencil lead. While the smudge-proof lead wrote smoothly, this lefty was able to smudge it a bit when I ran my thumb over the scribble swatch. The Rhodia paper is very smooth and may be more likely to smudge than toothier stocks.

In the erasing test on both Rhodia paper and on Col-o-ring paper, using a foam eraser, the color came up pretty well. I’d say the eraser, used with average pressure (I didn’t tear up the paper trying to remove the color), lifted 85-90% of the color on the Rhodia paper and about 75% of the color on Col-o-ring paper.

Eraser test

I also did a quick little still life of a bottle of Robert Oster ink sitting in a Monarca wooden bottle holder on a Col-o-ring card to see how the leads perform on toothier paper.

I am a fan of this pencil concept. When on the road, I prefer not having to sharpen my pencils and having three colors all in one tool is great for when you’re traveling, in a coffeeshop or library or in a meeting so this pencil solves some problems I didn’t know I had.


Link Love: The Kitten Edition

Link Love: The Kitten Edition

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I have a soft spot for cats. We have several house cats and have taken care of (and taken in, when we can) any stray cats that show up in our yard. Recently, we had a stray arrive who turned out to be pregnant. She was very skittish and so we weren’t able to catch her before the kittens were born. We did discover that she was caring for her young under a nearby shed in the community garden of the church at the end of our block so we have been taking food to her a couple times a day. Some days, she even wandered up to our house for food. We had hoped that, by caring for Mama Cat, we were helping her take care of her kittens.

Somedays, if we sat quietly after Mama went back under the shed, we could hear the kittens shout for her. When we heard that, we knew we were doing a good thing.

We attempted to calculate when Mama, who we named Zoey, had her kittens so that we could extrapolate how old the kittens were and when they would need to start moving to solid food. By this weekend, we knew that the kittens would be about three weeks old and starting to be more active and mobile.

Sunday was a warm, sunny day and Zoey came up to the house for food and then walked me back to the garden where she let me coax the kittens out from under the shed and give them some wet food. It was a frenzy of wobbly-legged little puff balls that left Bob and I giddy but exhausted. I can’t imagine how Zoey must have been feeling caring for all SIX of these little critters on her own!

The first sighting of kittens

We weren’t prepared to catch them on Sunday but we knew we needed to do it soon before one adventurous kitten wandered away from the nest and got lost or injured.

Monday it rained all day so we did our best to get food to Zoey but we suspected we wouldn’t see the kittens.

Yesterday, however, was a different story. Zoey met me on the back step the minute I got home, hungry and ready to eat. I fed her and then we walked back to the garden together where all the kittens came out as soon as I got there. Eeeek! I fed them and then ran back to the house to get a carrier and Bob. We went back to the garden, fingers crossed that we would be able to catch all the kittens and that Zoey would be accepting of joining them and coming back to the house.

The kittens did come back out and we scooped them up and put them in the carrier, one by one. After catching the last kitten, we picked up Zoey and set her gently in the carrier with the babies and they all settled down. Relief! We walked slowly back to the house and, thanks to video advice from the Kitten Lady on YouTube, we set them up (temporarily) in our bathroom. The kittens are safe in our tub with cushions and a cardboard box hidey hole and Zoey can lounge with her kittens or on the floor nearby on blankets with plenty of food, water and comfort.

Zoey with her kittens

We have an appointment scheduled to take them all in for their first round of shots and a check up early next week. If you want to follow along with all the kitten adventures, check out our cat-only Instagram.

Carrot eats his toes

Thanks for listening to our cat-tales. Now, to the content you actually came her to read!


TWSBI Nib and Line Comparison (via Yoseka Stationery)



Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

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Yarn + Ink: Taste the Rainbow

When I was knitting my last sample project, I knew it had to be the inspiration for a rainbow palette of ink colors! Don’t you agree?

The inks:

The knitting:

Fountain Pen Review: Sailor Professional Gear Bora Bora Waters (Pen Boutique Exclusive & Robert Oster Bora Bora Waters Ink)

Fountain Pen Review: Sailor Professional Gear Bora Bora Waters (Pen Boutique Exclusive & Robert Oster Bora Bora Waters Ink)

The Sailor Pro Gear Bora Bora Waters Fountain Pen (Pen Boutique Exclusive) ($392 for the Standard Size) is an exclusive Pro Gear model only available through Pen Boutique. The pen is limited to 200 pieces and I’m sure they will sell fast because it is a beautiful pen.

When Pen Boutique originally reached out to me, I got a little confused. I thought they were sending the new North American Exclusive Pro Gear 2022 Pen of the Year Soda Pop Blue ($392 for standard, $280 for Slim). At a quick glance, it’s easy to see how I might mix the two up but there are some key differentiators: Soda Pop Blue has full transparent glitter body and gold hardware. The Bora Bora Waters pen features a turquoise blue material with dark, translucent blue end caps and grip section. The hardware is rhodium plated creating a cool waters vibe.

I confess, I much prefer the color combo and sliver hardware of the Bora Bora Waters over the Soda Pop Blue models.

The full size Pro Gear pens feature a beautifully etched 21K nib. I got the H-MF nib which is the “hard medium fine”. As far as I know, Sailor is the only pen manufacturer to offer a medium fine nib as a standard option. Since Japanese nibs are finer than Western nibs, the MF nib is probably the equivalent of a Western F nib.

Most of the Sailor Pro Gear pens I’ve acquired up to this point have been the Slim variety but having the Bora Bora Waters in my hand made me realize there is not really that much difference in the size of the “full size” Pro Gear versus the Slim. The above image shows the Bora Bora flanked n both sides with my rainbow of Slim models.

Of my Pro Gear Slim models, all of them are from Sailor directly except for the citrus green model which is a special Nagasawa Kobe Pen Style so the nib engraving is different. Otherwise, all the Slims feature the same 14K nibs. So, since the size difference between the full-size and slim models is relatively minor, most of the price difference for a full-sized Pro Gear is for the upgraded 21k nib.

For even more perspective on how small the full size Pro Gear is, above is an image of the Bora Bora Waters next to a Lamy AL-Star, Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Eco, Platinum 3776 and an Opus 88 Coloro (which is the smallest of Opus 88’s full-sized pens).

Even posted, the Sailor Pro Gear Bora Bora Waters full-size is shorter than most of the other pens shown.

Writing with the Bora Bora Waters, I realized how much I missed writing with my Sailor pens. I particularly like the 21k nib and I know that makes me a nib snob. While the 14k nibs are amazing to write with, they have some noticeable feedback when writing. The 21k nib reduces the feedback somewhat without creating an unpleasantly slippery writing experience and maintains the fine crisp lines of the 14k nib. It’s a fine balance between a nib that writes smoothly but provides necessary feedback and a nib that makes you feel like you’re ice skating.

Since I do have quite a few other Sailor pens at my disposal, I decided this would be a good opportunity to do a little nib width comparison. Of the Sailor pens shown previously, I have almost a full range of nib sizes (just missing a standard M and B and a Zoom).

I find that the difference between my custom ground EF needlepoint and the F nibs are minimal. The MF is a little bit wider but even with my small handwriting, the line is not so wide as to blot out my letter counters (the insides of a’s and e’s, for instance).

The Music nib is considerably wider but when compared with other music nibs, the Sailor music nib is not overly wide.

The Robert Oster Bora Bora Waters Ink (Pen Boutique Exclusive)

Along with the Sailor Pro Gear Bora Bora Waters fountain pen, Pen Boutique also had Robert Oster create a matching ink. If you want someone to make you a water-inspired ink, you want Robert Oster involved. So it was a wise move.

From top to bottom: Diamine Turquoise, R.O Bora Bora Waters, Lamy Pacific Blue and Pelikan Edelstein Topaz.

Robert Oster developed an exclusive ink color to coordinate with the pen, aptly named Bora Bora Waters (50ml bottle for $17).  The color is a bright aqua blue with a little sheening around the edges of letters and a whole lot of shading.

From top to bottom: Robert Oster Blue Water Ice, R.O. Bora Bora Waters and R.O Blue River.
All of the ink samples I have that look similar to Bora Bora Waters altogether.

When compared with some of Robert Oster’s other aqua blues, Bora Bora Waters has some of the sheening of Blue Water Ice but the lighter shading of Blue River. When compared to other brands, Diamine Turquoise is similar as is Pelikan Edelstein Topaz. Lamy Pacific Blue is a little lighter.

If you have as extensive an ink collection as I do, you may not need another aqua blue but if you’re looking for one of Oster’s epic aquas, this one is a good option.

As for the Bora Bora Waters fountain pen, if you’ve never tried a 21k gold Sailor, this would be a great place to start.

Final little detail is the new logo on the box. It definitely caught my eye so I pulled an old box to show the difference. Do you like the new logo?


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

Tool Review: Plus Compact Pen-Style Twiggy Scissors

Tool Review: Plus Compact Pen-Style Twiggy Scissors

Many years ago, I had a pair of compact travel scissors I purchased from JetPens. I loved them for the simple fact that they fit easily into my pencil pouch along with all my other tools without taking up a ton of space. I don’t often need to have a pair of scissors in my everyday kit but when I need them, I NEED them. Sure, I have a pocket knife in my bag but scissors often solve a different problem than the average pocket knife. If I need to cut something out of a magazine and add it to my planner, trim washi tape or even snip a loose thread, scissors are way more efficient at this task than a knife.

You may be wondering what happened to the pair of scissors I bought from JetPens? A TSA agent in China took them from me when I was traveling so many years ago. There’s nothing so frightening as a stern Nurse Ratchet-looking woman shaking her head angrily, shouting at you in Mandarin and taking your teeny tiny scissors. I was in mainland China and did not want to end up being held in custody for trying to argue with the woman so I did my best to look humble and apologetic and left my neon green travel scissors ($7) in her grumpy care.

After that, every time I placed an order with JetPens, I would think, “I need to order another pair of those scissors,” and then proceed to forget to add them to my cart. then, one day the fates smiled down on me and the Plus brand Compact Pen-style “Twiggy” Scissors (approx. $7.50 per pair) magically appeared in my “to-be reviewed” rolling cart. I cannot remember where I acquired them but was able to find them in a variety of colors on Amazon should you like to get your own.

While the Raymay neon green were a favorite for me because of the color, actually using them with the loops of plastic cord to create the holes for your fingers was a little awkward. The Twiggy scissors have a short, spring-loaded scissor-action which makes them easier to use for any sized hand and even for someone who may have grip or strength issues when using scissors. They still require pressure to close the scissor blades, the spring opens the blades easily.

I may upgrade to the Sun-Star Stickyle Akeruno Scissors + Box Cutters ($8.75) which have a longer grip section and can double as a box cutter which is really why I carry a pocket knife with me most of the time.

The Plus Compact Pen-Style Twiggy scissors tucked inside my Raymay Clam Case ($14) along with an assortment of pens and pencils.

I don’t think I’d ever used spring-loaded scissors before but I may be a convert. While the Amazon page suggests that these are TSA-compliant, I wouldn’t risk it on international flights, just in case. On domestic US flights, you should be okay.

DISCLAIMER: Some items in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens. Some items 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.