Saturday, 25 July 2015

I should just bite the bullet, right?

I've been running two systems alongside each other for a few weeks - my Adelphi slimline which is acting as wallet, diary and address book alongside my Traveller's Journal which has my home-made week + notes in it.

The Adelphi is great as a wallet and carry-around diary (and addresses though I don't use them much) but what I am looking at to see what I'm meant to be doing each day is the Traveller's Journal week + notes. The TJ isn't coming out and about with me, but it could. I have the card-holder insert and the zipped pocket insert from Midori and it would be a piece of cake to move money and cards over. The inserts are in fact IN the TJ already, just empty.

So why am I persisting in running the two alongside each other?
Because I have my Filofax already set up for the year with all the dates written into the diary? True - but I have the diary in the TJ too and seriously - it would be a half hour job to check that the same info is in the TJ as I have in the Filofax diary.
Because it's too easy to leave it all as it is and have the TJ open on my desk and the Adelphi as a carry around? Hm. It is, but I've already spotted that I've written something in the Adelphi that I didn't transfer across to the TJ and running two diaries? That way madness lies! And missed appointments.

The fact is, I am not looking at the diary in the Adelphi and I've begun to not actually like it either. I am basically using the Adelphi as a wallet and no kind of planning tool. I've noted some appointments in it when I've been out at Rotary and things have been arranged, but for actually working out what I'm doing with my day/week, I am only looking at the week + notes I made myself. And yes, it's in the hateful Moleskine (still!) but no, I can't be bothered to make another one for what's left of 2015. The Moleskine is working okay (as long as I don't want to write in ink!). If it all goes well, I can change to the Rhodia version in 2016.

I should just bite the bullet and move the money across and see how it goes, right? The fact I've written out the dates on the Tomoe River diary in the Filofax shouldn't be the reason I'm not moving into the TJ. Right? Right??

What do people think?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Hema Haul!

Well, I managed to waste spend quite a while on the Hema site the other day, and this is my haul:
  • Some C6 stripy envelopes
  • Some self-inking stamps
  • A5 notebook with ziplock
  • Stickers of cartoon jungle animals
  • A 2015-16 academic diary
  • Some stick-on envelopes
  • Storage tin
[but no, Steve, it did not include a selfie-stick...]

I'm not going to review each of these in detail (because I haven't had time to play with them all yet!) but I'll show you each of them and also give a bit of feedback about using the site.

Feedback about the site:
There's a lot of stuff on the site and it's easy to spend HOURS on there! A lot of things are pretty cheap and there is a danger that you then chuck a load of things in the basket that you don't really need (I know - is that phrase actually applicable to stationery??). There is also a slight oddity in that some items have a minimum order of two (or three) of the item. This doesn't seem to be related to price - there are some things that are £1 on there and you can order one of them; there are things that are £2.50 and you have to order at least two. For many things, that's all fine but on some of them I was thinking that I didn't really need two of them and was a bit irritated by being forced into getting two.
When the parcel arrived, the items were bundled into a carrier bag which then rattled around inside the much larger cardboard box which wasn't the best packing in the world.

1. Stripy C6 envelopes:

Stripy envelopes.
With hindsight, should have bought some address labels too!

For those who aren't used to the sizing of envelopes, C6 takes an A4 sheet folded in half, then half again (i.e. takes A6 paper). I write zillions of letters and so am always in search of envelopes and these were a bit different from the plain white ones you can generally get. I probably should have bought some labels for writing the address on.

2. Self-inking stamps:

Self-inking stamps

I only really wanted the lower one but they came as a two-pack and were only £2.50 so I ended up with both of them. I'll stamp envelopes with the other one probably. I've been using the lower one to stamp my home-made week + notes to note my 'two most important things to do today'.

3. A5 notebook with ziplock:

A5 notebook with ziplock
(Sorry about the shadows!)

I've seen much more expensive versions of this (Mark's Tokyo for example) but this was a pretty reasonable price. In essence, it is an A5 notebook in a plastic/polyethylene cover and the back cover has a zip-lock pocket, card slots and a pen holder. The front cover has slip pockets too. The idea is that you carry this around and slip things into the pocket as you collect them. I'm not sure if I will use it quite like that as I would use my Traveller's Journal instead, but if I was off to do research on something and wanted something cheap and cheerful and useful I would give it a go. I've yet to try the paper out in the notebook but I'm not expecting anything good. The bonus is that you can slip any A5 notebook in it if it's slim enough so you're not restricted to the one that comes with it.

4. Stickers of cartoon jungle animals:

Jungle animal stickers

There are two pages of stickers - the other page has different ones but I only took pictures of one lot - sorry! These were one of the 'you must buy two' items but I can always use cartoon jungle animals stickers and they were only 75p per pack. The chameleons alone will always make me smile!

5. 2015-2016 academic diary:

Cover of the 2015-16 academic diary
Layout (plus LURID page marker)

Okay. This was only £1. The size of the diary is 12.5cm x 18cm which is a nice size. It's a school diary so there are several pages of class schedule and some pages for recording grades. Considering the page size is fairly small, the layout isn't bad, though Saturday and Sunday are, as ever, squashed into a smaller space and there is that pointless month summary taking up some of Sunday. I don't know what the numbering of 1-9 is for on each day - things to do? It's obviously not for recording appointments, even given some students' semi-nocturnal lifestyle. Anyway, I quite liked the clean font and size but I'm not sure, now I've got it, that I will use it. But it was only £1 so I don't feel too bad!

6. 6-pack sticky envelopes:

Stick-on envelopes
Another item that had a minimum purchase of two but again, I didn't mind (and they weren't horrendously expensive). I got them so that I could stick them on the home-made diary in my Traveller's Journal or in notebooks I use for writing. There are three of each size: 10cm x 6cm (holds a card 9cm x 5.5cm) and 16cm x 11cm (holds a card 14.5cm x 10.3cm). As you can see from the picture, the backings are a bit lurid (pink, orange and red) but bearable.

7. Storage tin:

Storage tin

I just liked this. I got it for putting ink cartridges in but it's a useful size at 7cm x 9.8cm. It also has a very positive click when it closes. Some other tins can have quite a loose lid that easily comes off, but this tin could rattle around in your bag without the lid coming off.

Anyway, there we go - that was my haul. I could probably have bought a LOT more stuff but I managed (just) to restrain myself.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Marvellous Monday

For two fabulous reasons:
1. I have been for a run!!!!

Okay. It was 10 repeats of {30s run, 1 minute walk} slotted into a 3.5mile walk, but...

It was a run!

And anyone who knows me will know JUST how much that means to me.

and...

2. I have been sent some stationery to review and give feedback on. The lovely people at The Stamford Notebook Company have sent me samples of their diaries for the Traveller's Journal for me to play with and give them feedback on, so that's what I will be doing this afternoon.

So, all in all, it's a marvellous Monday!

Hope everyone else is having a good day too.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Creating a week + notes diary for my Traveller's Journal

In my last post I said I had been trialling a week + notes diary, mocked up in a (hateful) Moleskine cahier, to ultimately use the system in my glorious Stamford Notebook Company's Traveller's Journal. The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that I hate Moleskine cahiers as the paper is stupendously terrible. Instead, I have used a Rhodia cahier. Infinitely better and cheaper than the (hateful) Moleskines. I got mine from Cult Pens (no affiliation, just a happy customer) and reviewed them here.

There are 48 pages (96 sheets) per booklet - not enough for a full year, so I opened the staples at the centre of two books, removed some sheets from one and slipped them onto the staples of the other, so that there were 54 pages in the book, then closed the staples back up. Then I trimmed the whole booklet to 12.5cm using a rotary cutter.

After trimming (R) - clip is just to hold the book closed for the photo

Now, call me picky, but the Traveller's Journal has rounded corners and now that I had trimmed the book, it had squared edges, so I bought a cheap 10mm diameter corner cutter and punched all of the pages and the cover so that the book now has rounded corners.

After the corners have been rounded
Inside, I will divide each page into 8 blocks and on the LHS have the 7 days of the week plus a 'tracking' block (as indicated in the trial version - see here). On the RHS I will have 6 of the blocks labelled with life-areas and the next actions for that life-area noted in the block; plus an 'other' block and a 'next week' block (again, as in the trial version). The week + notes diary is to be used in conjunction with a day per page plan and I will use either another squared Rhodia cahier or a lined one for that. I have trimmed all the Rhodia cahiers I bought and rounded their corners, in readiness!

What do people think?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Trying something new (ish)

Now, don't get me wrong... I still love my Filofaxes. I'm still in the scarlet Adelphi and am intending to stay in it until the end of the year at least.
But...
I am also running in parallel another system to try and a) use my Traveller's Journal and b) see my week a bit better.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about a home-made week plus notes diary for the TJ (see here). I mocked that up in the (hateful) Moleskine cahier and have now mapped out the rest of the year in the (hateful) Moleskine cahier. (I'm only using that because I'm trialling this. In the final version, I will use a Rhodia instead).
On the LHS, I have the page divided into 8 blocks - 7 for the days of the week and 1 for tracking things (same as I had in the blog post).
The RHS is the side which is going through various iterations while I find what works. Like the LHS, it is divided up into 8 blocks. I've pretty much settled on labelling the blocks with 6 main life-areas, an 'other' and 'next week'. In the life-area blocks I have next actions for projects within those life-areas; in 'other' is a list of other things to do this week (that don't fit into the other areas) and 'next week' flags up important things that are just over the page (because we all know that I am incapable of just turning it over and having a look. I know... but know your character, huh? I know I won't turn the page, ergo I have to write a summary of it on the one before).
My diary is a bit too private to show you a filled-in version, but this is the basic layout:


'Other' will almost invariably be in the box to the left of 'next week' but the other 'life-areas to block' mapping has been a bit fluid and hasn't quite settled yet (hence not being filled in).

I bought the day stamps from eBay and also spent a bit of time working out the best layout of day name plus date before finally settling on the day being in the top left and the date in a circle in the next box along.

The (hateful) Moleskine cahier is 13cm wide and 21cm tall and each block is 6cm wide and 5cm tall, leaving me a little space to write the date range in, in red.

I've been using this layout in conjunction with time-boxing on a day per page scratch pad - a reporter's notebook using a sheet per day. The sheet is divided vertically, with times pencilled in down the LHS and a list of tasks/space for random jottings etc. on the RHS. In the space on the LHS, the day is divided up using time-boxes with each box being labelled with a life-area. The idea is a) that I spread my time over all the different things I want to do and not end up doing just one or two in a week and b) that I work on the next action for that life-area project during that time-block and if I reach the end of it, I tick it off and start on the next one in that life-area. If I don't finish it, I still try to make myself move on when the time-box topic changes. I can frequently allow a task to fill whatever time I have so knowing that I only have an hour or however long does make me concentrate on getting on with it, rather than dawdling about and spending all day on it.

I've liked the set-up well enough to have cut down some Rhodia cahiers (cheaper than the (hateful) Moleskines and MUCH better!), ready to make a full-year home-made diary for next year. More on that soon.

Haas anyone else been making their own diary for the TJ like this?

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Slimline scarlet Adelphi

I saw a scarlet slimline Adelphi on eBay and had a ponder. Would it work for me?

Colour pop? Check.
Personal-size paper? Check.
Small rings? Check.
Card-slots? Check.
Other pockets? Check.

And so I bought it...

I've been trialling it for a few days and am happy so far. Let me walk you through it.

Cover:
The outer has a quilted effect embossed into the leather. I didn't like this when it came out (and was never interested in owning an Adelphi, partly because of the quilted effect) but I actually really like it now. I think it looks more interesting than the plain covers - more classy maybe? Anyway, there is a smooth edge (front only) and then the quilted-effect area. It's more scarlet than my picture shows.

Front cover

Inside left:
On the inside left, there is a covered pocket with 6 credit-card slots with a full-height pocket behind. I had intended to keep coins in the pocket as well as cash plus a few other bits and pieces, but I prefer to see my coins so I know if I have enough or if I need to break a note, so they have stayed in the zipped pencil case that is punched and on the rings at the back of the binder. It takes up a bit of real estate on the rings, but I prefer it. The popper on the pocket holds everything securely contained.
The next two pictures show the colour much better.

Inside: Covered pocket. You can see the zipped pencil case
peeping out at the back
Pocket opened. 6 credit card slots plus a full height pocket behind
The card slots are the simple cut type, rather than ones with a turned edge. I prefer the turned-edge versions and these were a bit of a wriggle to get the cards in but they might not have been used much by the previous owner.

Rings:
There are oval rings with a 13mm diameter in the widest plane (left to right). I couldn't cope with 11mm rings and 15mm are easier, but the 13mm are okay.

Inside right:
There is a full height slip pocket in the back cover.


The pen loop:
Well. It has a diameter of about 3mm! I think (think...) it is designed so that just a pen clip fits in it - the loop is 1/4 down the cover rather than mid-way. And tiny. I can just get the clip of my Zebra Sharbo diary pen/pencil duo in there.


What I have got in it:
Sometimes it's hard to judge how much stuff you can fit on rings so let me try and give you an idea of what fits easily in there for me. At the moment I have:
  • paper money plus air mail labels, 3 books of stamps and 3 small cards in the front pocket
  • 6 cards in the card slots
  • card divider labelled 'notes' (acting as a sheet protector and hiding the sheets behind)
  • 4 sheets of standard Filofax (FF) paper for notes
  • 1 sheet of pink FF paper with monthly goals on
  • 6 months (Jul-Dec 2015) Tomoe River WO2P diary (27 sheets)
  • 3 sheets of quadrille paper tracking various things
  • 8 sheets of (random) information
  • 15 sheets of addresses
  • A FF card holder with 6 cards in it
  • The zipped pencil case for coins
  • [nothing in the back cover as yet]
I've been using it for a few days and so far, I'm really liking it. The colour pop is great and it's small and light but yet holds everything I need at the moment. The pen loop is a bit irritating but I'm getting used to hanging my pen clip on it and trusting that it will stay where it's put. It doesn't have quite all the pockets that the compact Holborn has, but it has the colour pop I seem to need!

[p.s. thank you for all the kind thoughts and good wishes after my surgery. All went well and I might even manage to get back to running soon!]

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Short hiatus...

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. There will also be a short hiatus as I go in for heart surgery on Wednesday. Thankfully no open chest type stuff but a teensy bit scary nonetheless.

Hopefully back posting soon as I have a zillion things to review!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Review of the compact Holborn Filofax

With all these posts about the Traveller's Journal, you may have been thinking I had lost my love for Filofax. Not quite, though I really am itching to use the TJ sooner than 2016!

I'm still in my wine Holborn Filofax, having moved up a size after the compact de Villiers started to show signs of wear and tear (see here for details). At the start of April I was humming and hawwing about the wine Holborn and was still looking for a compact. I tried a compact Cavendish and although it was good, it wasn't quite right because it wouldn't lie flat. I tried a compact Belgravia and it wasn't really right at all. In this post, Steve (from Philofaxy) suggested a compact Holborn. At the time, I had just bought the Belgravia but now I've got a black compact Holborn and he may well have been right.

I bought the compact Holborn from Nigel O'Hara. I knew nothing about the company, but having waited so long from ordering to delivery, I cannot recommend this seller at all. From ordering to arrival was about 5 weeks and had I not been on to their customer services, I would have had no information about the order at all. Even them giving me a £5 voucher will not make me use them again. Anyway, it finally arrived at the end of last week.

First impressions
  1. it's not really black and the matte finish is nowhere near as nice as the shinier wine leather
  2. it has (had!) a flattability of 0/10

It's not really black. It's more matte dark charcoal grey and with the graining of the leather this is quite noticeable. It may respond well to a good dose of black leather polish but I've not done that yet. The contrast stitching is in grey and the leather polish might sort that out too. If you've followed my story with the Holborns, you'll know how much I dislike contrast stitching! That said, the wine Holborn is growing on me even with the contrast stitching.

Front
Back

It has had a flattability of about 0/10 i.e. it would not lie flat at all. Even with weights I was struggling to keep it open. I know how much that annoys me. I need my binder to lie open at my side without assistance or I won't use it. Feeling the cover, I can feel a thick card between the covers which seems to extend all the way around the binder. I've had the same feel of my wine Holborn (which lies absolutely flat as a bat but didn't quite when I got it) and although it feels the same, it will lie flat, even with all the contents on one side or the other.
Knowing that there is no way I will use the compact Holborn if it won't lie flat, I bent the covers back on themselves as much as I could. Repeatedly. It now (mostly) lies flat, though needs a few 'reminders' if it's been closed for a while. I know that sounds brutal, but I really can't be doing with a binder that won't lie flat! Tough love here!

Internal layout
This is similar to the wine Holborn but with a few important differences.
While the wine Holborn has six credit card slots and one big pocket, with the cards sitting horizontally, the compact has six vertical card slots and no bigger pocket. Behind the card slots there are both inward and outward facing pockets in both the compact and the regular sized versions.

In the back cover, there are inward and outward facing pockets in the compact, but no zipped pocket inside the outward facing one. The pen-loop in the compact is tucked into the outward facing pocket, but that might just have been how it ended up before being packed. The loop is about the same size as in the wine Holborn - i.e. it will take my Zebra diary pen (diameter 8mm) no problem but would struggle with anything bigger. The pen loop is also higher up - just above the closure strap in the compact, whereas in the regular sized version it is exactly where the closure strap is.

Slips of paper to indicate the pockets
Interior of wine Holborn for comparison

Contents
It came supplied with a regular, multi-language WO2P 2015 diary. Give me a shout if you want it! It looks like the cotton cream layout but on their normal, shoddy paper (actually, the cotton cream paper is just as shite) - 4 spaces per side, one for 'this week' and equal sizes for the days of the week. The irritating mini month diary (what is that for???) is in the 'this week' rather than in Sunday's slot, making Sunday's slot far more usable than normal.

Diary layout

After the diary came A-Z dividers. Again, free to a good home - just let me know if you want them. Then 4 sheets of to-do and 3 sheets each of lined paper (white), lined paper (blue), lined paper (lilac).

Rings
Like all my Filofax compacts, the rings are oval; 15mm x 11mm. Naturally, as it is a Filofax, one of the rings doesn't close perfectly, but none of them catch the paper in any way so perhaps I'm just being picky.

In use
I've transferred things across and will use it until the end of May. After that, I'll see! The card slots were very tight but they'll hopefully ease up a bit with use. I tried transferring everything from the rings of the personal Holborn, but unsurprisingly, the rings were a bit too full, so I've taken a few months of diary out and the dividers. I have paper money in the outward facing pocket at the front, stamps in the inward-facing pocket at the front and a couple of loyalty cards tucked into the inward facing pocket at the back. I have my Zebra diary pen in the pen loop (which has effectively stopped me using the outward-facing pocket at the back). It might be easier to close once I get rid of all the change I have in the zipped pencil case I have on the back rings - it is currently full of pound coins which are pretty bulky!

Overall
At the moment I'm a bit 'meh' about it but then, I was about the wine Holborn when I first moved into that. I would have liked it to be less matte and have better flattability but I may have sorted one with the bending of the covers and could probably sort the other with some black leather polish! It's lying flat at the moment (though is reluctant to close) - repeated use should make it easier, hopefully.

Keep you posted!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

(Brief) review of the sketch insert from Stamford Notebook Co.

When I bought my Stamford Traveller’s Journal, the company also sent me one of their sketch inserts for me to review. I’m absolutely sure I won’t do it justice, because I don’t really draw! What I’ve decided to do though, is to do a quick overview of it and then give the insert to a friend who is much more likely to draw than me and see if they will do a review of it from a drawing/sketching perspective.

The insert is the same size as the other booklets in the Stamford Notebook Co. range: 21cm tall x 12.5 cm wide, with a card cover (made from recycled coffee cups) and rounded corners. The Stamford Notebook Co. logo is embossed in gold at the bottom of the front cover; the back cover is completely blank.


Like the lined or grid booklets, the sketch inserts have 60 pages (despite the website saying they have 64). One side of the paper has a slightly rougher feel to it than the other and the paper is very thick.

Close-up of the texture of the paper

From the days when I did draw, I would say that the paper would be good for most types of art – pencil, charcoal, inks and watercolours. I’m not sure I would use it for pastels as it is smoother than the pastel papers I used to use and anyway, pastels in a notebook would smudge. Charcoal would probably smudge too. Anyway, I am no watercolourist and although I could do pencil sketching in it, I would prefer to give it to my friend in a pristine state and let him play with it!

More, as and when I get a review from my friend.