Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Midori 013 insert review

As you must all know by now, I ordered one of the GORGEOUS Stamford Notebook Co. Traveller's Journals last week. Naturally, my mind then considered potential refills, other than the Stamford Notebook Co. versions. Just to have options. You'll all understand.

So, I ordered the Midori 013 insert and two different kinds of Moleskine cahier - ruled and squared to do a compare and contrast with the notebooks that come with the Traveller's Journal - on paper quality, number of pages, fit within the leather cover and overall value for money.
[I write. A lot. I could get through a lot of notebooks in a very short time. These things are important to me!]

Anyway, the Traveller's Journal is still in transit so the Midori inserts have arrived before the TJ...

I went for the Midori 013 as I was curious about the paper. I've heard mixed things about it. For those not in the know, the 013 insert has 128 pages instead of the standard 64 page fill. However, I had heard that the show-through of ink to the reverse of the page was significant. To my mind, there would be no point in having twice as many pages in the booklet if you could only write on one side of them!

So here we go:

The notebooks were ordered from The Journal Shop (no affiliation, just a loyal customer) and arrived promptly. They came in a cellophane bag with the insert label on the front. The notebook inside is plain, front and back and is 11cm x 21cm. It has quite a strong smell but I genuinely cannot describe what it smells of! Glue? But the book is stapled.

Still in its wrapper
Plain cover

Inside, the very first and last sheet are of different paper. In the front it is stamped with a frame for you to label up what the notebook is about and the Midori logo at the bottom.

Front sheet

On the back page, there is a small stamp that says Traveler's notebook. For all the travelers who have a free spirit.

[a free spirit, but who are unable to spell travellers it seems]

The main paper itself is a slightly off-white colour and unlined and un-numbered.

main paper - unlined and not numbered

And now for the ink tests!!

For once, I don't have a zillion pens all inked up. Only 7 fountain pens are inked (which may well be 6-7 more than most people have but surely not people visiting a blog called Paper, Pens and Ink??).

The paper is beautiful to write on. Smooth and silky and drying times on most inks weren't excessive (though if you're left-handed you may find some issues). With a dark-background (my desk) the paper showed almost no show-through to the reverse but when I folded the paper back on itself, there was some.

Ink tests
Reverse with a dark background (my desk)
Reverse when the page is folded back
(so there is  a page behind it)

The show-through is there but it's actually not as bad as I feared. I think a fine nib rather than my italic versions and the right ink could be perfectly usable. The Platinum Plaisir is about the finest nib I have and the show-through isn't too bad. Not so bad I would feel like I couldn't use the reverse, anyway.

Once the Traveller's Journal arrives I'll post about how good a fit these are in it (they are the same height, but 1.5cm narrower than the Stamford notebooks).

Sunday, 19 April 2015

New washi

As part of my "buying stationery because I feel miserable" splurge, I bought 3 rolls of washi from Fox and Star.

Fox and Star is a site that reminds me of The Lovely Desk and they sell similar items, though I think Fox and Star sell more types of washi than The Lovely Desk.

Anyway, the three rolls that I bought are:

1. 'Noar' Animal Shinzi Katoh washi tape

This is the washi tape version of the die-cut tape I got from The Lovely Desk (which the observant amongst you will have seen decorating the memo section of my diary). There is a selection of very sweet animals on the tape, although my favourites are still the giraffe, the elephants and the donkey. I'm sad that the tape is narrower than the pattern and that the lions and elephants are cropped at the top. Compare it with the die-cut version:

Also, both chickens face the same way, as do both of the elephants (although the lions don't, which they did in the die-cut version). Overall, I prefer the die-cut tape.

2. 'Pandasan' Shinzi Katoh washi tape

The Pandas look a bit like they've just slipped on the ice and fallen over, but are very sweet.

3. 'A wash' Elephant Shinzi Katoh washi tape

Not sure they look all that much like elephants, but it's quite sweet.

I've been using them to decorate the memo part of my WO2P diary and they do cheer the otherwise somewhat severe-looking pages!

Delivery was both very reasonable (£1.65 for all of the tapes together) and prompt - they arrived by first class post - and the tapes came in a little, stripy paper bag inside the Jiffy-bag.

All in all I'm pleased with them and with the company. Go check them out - they have some really nice stuff!

[I am in no way affiliated with Fox and Star - I'm just a happy customer]

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Ooh... I've seen THIS

Image from The Stamford Notebook Co.
reproduced with permission

Isn't this fabulous! It's by The Stamford Notebook Company and is their Traveller's Journal. I saw the picture on Twitter and fell in love!

It's made of thick leather and the journals are hand-dyed by the company using vegetable dyes. The dimensions of the journal are 14cm x 23cm and the internal notebooks are 12.5cm x 21cm.
[For comparison, a Midori Traveler's Notebook (Midori - please could you spell Traveller properly??) is 12cm x 22cm with the Midori notebook refills 11cm x 21cm.]

Look at the range of colours they come in! They are so beautiful and that red one has my name on it!

Image from The Stamford Notebook Co.
reproduced with permission

They come supplied with two internal notebooks and you can choose whether these are lined, plain, squared or sketch paper. Apparently, the cover board is made from recycled coffee cups! Very environmentally friendly. According to the website (I haven't got one to test personally) the smooth paper is fountain-pen friendly and an off-white colour. The sketch paper is a white paper designed for drawing. The booklets have 60 pages and are 12.5cm x 21cm and are held in with leather cords. From the picture showing all the colours, it looks like the leather cords match the cover - a lovely touch. Refills are available from the company, but I note that a large Moleskine cahier (if you can stand their paper) is 13cm x 21cm and so would probably fit and Midori notebooks are a shade narrower but would fit too.

Image from The Stamford Notebook Co.
reproduced with permission

As you can see from the picture, the journals are fastened closed with a leather thong that winds around a leather button with the company logo on. I really love that - it seems classier than the elastic closures seen on other well known brands!

Image from The Stamford Notebook Co.
reproduced with permission

The rear of the journal has 'Stamford' blind embossed on it.

Image from The Stamford Notebook Co.
reproduced with permission

You can also get up to 4 initials embossed into the leather, in gold, silver, bronze or 'blind' (i.e. no colour - as shown in the picture above). The journal is supplied in a calico bag which has a drawstring fastening of a leather thong (you can see it behind the journal in the top picture).

I absolutely love the look of these and I'm also very impressed that the company and their products are British made. I may well be ordering one of these in red in the very near future, especially as I am still in a stationery-buying mode!

[Update: I did order one! Review to follow when it arrives]

Some days, you just have to throw the list away

I had great plans for this week but a series of sleepless nights have thrown them into total disarray. Exhaustion and creativity are not natural bed-fellows it would seem and stress over the fact that I still have not got either a diagnosis nor any treatment for my dysrhythmia (coupled with some new health issues...) has sapped any remnants of desire to do pretty much anything.

I've thrown away my list for the week and have decided that above all else, this week my focus should be me. Not the house, the garden, my book or any of the other things I thought I might have done this week. Just me.

I'm reading blogs, I'm napping, I'm browsing stationery, I'm buying (more) stationery, I'm writing to friends, I'm reading books, I'm watching TV or listening to the radio... whatever I want to, basically! Much as all the things on my list of next actions were progressing personal goals, this week I just need to chill and accept that none of these things are going to happen. I can label it as 'sharpening the saw' if I want, but really, it's just putting me top of the list.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Compact Cavendish versus compact Belgravia

[I realise this might be a less than useful comparison as neither of these binders are freely available, even on eBay but maybe if people see them somewhere and want to know a bit more about them, it will be helpful]

Last week, I said that I had bought another binder from eBay - it was a black compact Belgravia.

I knew nothing about the binder beyond the pictures that were on the advert but I could see that there were eight card slots on the LHS and a zipped pocket on the RHS. It had a strap closure and as it was a compact, I assumed it had 15mm rings.

Hang, on. Don't I have a black compact binder with eight card slots on the LHS and a zipped pocket on the back? In a compact Cavendish? Um... yes.

So, here we go - compare and contrast between the two:

Card slots:
Both binders have 8 card slots on the LHS but the Belgravia has slanted slots whereas the Cavendish has the more conventional straight slots. In both models, there is a vertical pocket behind the card slots.

Belgravia with curved card slots
Cavendish with straight slots

Right hand side:
In the Cavendish, there are two pocket on the RHS - a vertical one that is about half the width of the binder and a second 7/8 slip pocket.

Cavendish showing it unfilled

In the Belgravia, there is a zipped pocket with an elastic gusset. I've not seen that before. I have a couple of binders that have a leather gusset -allowing more to go into the pocket and easier access in general, but I have never seen one with an elastic gusset. It may just be that it is unused, but the elastic was very stiff!

Belgravia showing it unfilled
Paperweight jamming the pocket open so you can see the elastic

Back cover:
In the Cavendish, there is a zipped pocket on the back cover. The Belgravia just has Filofax embossed into the leather.

Cavendish with zipped pocket
Belgravia with embossed logo

Pen loop:
Both binders have a single all-leather pen loop that is about right for holding a very slim pen (like my Zebra diary pen/pencil (8mm diameter)) but would struggle with much more. Again, perhaps because it was newer/less used, the loop in the Belgravia was very tight. Both pen loops measured 5.5cm from the edge of the back cover to the centre of the press-stud fastener.
The Cavendish has a leather-covered stud; the Belgravia has a metal stud-cover with Filofax on it.

The Cavendish is a little less happy about opening flat and I would rate it as about 6/10. The Belgravia lies pretty flat and I would give it 9/10.

In the Belgravia there is a definite feeling of a piece of stiff card or similar in the front and back covers (with either nothing behind the ring mechanism, or three separate pieces. It feels more flexible between the cover and the spine).
The Cavendish also feels as if there is card behind the front and back covers but it is a lot less flexible at the cover-spine junction (which is presumably why it is less resistant to lying flat).

Both binders have oval rings that are 15mm wide and 11mm deep. There are no gaps and they snap closed very smartly.

Having looked at the specs, I then decided to put the same 'fill' into each of them to see how they worked.

I have actually used the Cavendish as my carry-around so I knew that it could work in this way. I put cards in the slots, my weekly plans for April in the front, 6-months of Da Vinci Tomoe River WO2P dairy behind, about a dozen information pages and then my address section. Right at the back I put the zipped pencil case that I keep coins in. In the back cover, I put paper money in the full-height vertical pocket and in the zipped pocket in the back cover, I put the cards I carry but don't need to access easily.

Cavendish, filled

As I say, I have used the Cavendish like this as my wallet-binder carry-around. The only thing that really bugged me was the fact it didn't really lie flat.

I put the same fill in to the Belgravia. The commonly used cards went in the front, the other cards went in the zipped pocket, I put the same pages in the rings and paper money behind the cards.

Belgravia, filled
The first thing I noticed was that although the card slots would appear to have easier access with the slant to them, it was hard to get cards in and out. That said, I don't think they had ever really been used so it could just be that they are stiff.
The second thing I noticed was that although there IS a pocket behind the cards, it was hard to get the paper money in/out of it.
The third thing I noticed was that although I measured the straps to be exactly the same length, the strap of the Belgravia was hard to close (as if it was shorter) than the one on the Cavendish (which closed very happily).

In general:
If you didn't want the binder to function as both a wallet and an organiser, then the Belgravia would be better, because it lies flatter and the lack of a pocket that works well for paper money wouldn't matter.
If you want to combine wallet and organiser, I would say that the Cavendish has it by a tiny margin. It doesn't lie quite so flat, but the zipped pocket on the outside is useful and the internal layout of the back cover is better than the zipped pocket of the Belgravia (to my mind).

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Poorly... therefore I've been buying stationery!

I do it every time! I see that I'm doing it. I know that I am reaching for the washi and the rubber stamps and another Filofax and all that simply because I am feeling dreadful, but I just can't stop!

So, after a(nother) health shocker at the end of last week, I have felt pretty rubbish and so bought:
a new (to me) compact Filofax
a set of 25 small rubber stamps
some coloured ink pads


I mean, why other than because I felt shite?

Well, as I said in my last post, I like my compact de Villiers but it's getting worn and I like the compact Cavendish but it doesn't lie flat enough for me and so I thought I'd give another compact a whirl. I know a willing recipient in Dublin who will no doubt take it off my hands if it doesn't work out (hey, G! *wave*).

As for the stamps and ink pads - I realised that my diary can sometimes look dull on the days when I do manage to get a good writing day in, because all that is written on the left-hand side of the page is "writing day". The right-hand side of the day gets filled up with the day's to-do, but the left-hand side is kept for appointments and I only tend to get good writing days when I don't have my days broken up by appointments. So I bought the rubber stamps and inks so that at the end of the day, when I am reviewing and ticking off things, I can stamp the page. If I stamp the pages before the end of the day, my diary will look too cluttered!
[by the way, at the moment, a 'good writing day' is one in which I write anything]

This week - dull 'writing day' on the left
(busy on the RHS!)

When the stamps and ink arrive I will see how the day looks with a giant book stamped in gold across it! Something's got to cheer me up!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Still in the Holborn...

...but I suspect it won't be for long. I may try and use it for the whole of April but I'm already contemplating moving into the turquoise Baroque, or possibly try out the binder I have just bought off eBay (ahem).

Okay, one by one...

Why am I not loving the wine Holborn? It has all those pockets, it's red (ish) and with the full-size rings it has space for the whole year of diary (and therefore I have removed the month to view pages as I genuinely never look at them and can never work out what is supposed to go in them other than birthdays which are in the WO2P anyway).
I think it's all the pockets that's the problem as the covers feel bulky. The pen-loop always makes the back pocket be slightly sticky-outy and that's making the rest of the pages stick up too. The inward-facing pockets are difficult to access and so I hardly use them and the zipped pocket is also a bit tricky so just holds the cards I don't need easy access to and I keep coins in a zipped plastic pencil-case. [So basically the only pockets I am using are the ones I would have available in a Baroque: one for paper money and a zipped one to hold infrequently used cards. Which makes me think, "Oh, just move into the Baroque!"]

And what's all this about buying another binder on eBay??

Well, I like my compact de Villiers but it's getting damaged (see my last post); I like my compact Cavendish but it doesn't quite lie flat enough (and it's probably going to a friend). Basically, I like a compact that has a lot of card slots on the inside cover and preferably has a pen loop and another pocket for keeping non-essential but useful cards in. I saw such a binder on eBay, made an offer and it is now on its way to me. More details once it is here.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Clocks change; filofax change

Actually, the change is much less to do with the move to BST than the fact that the de Villiers is getting damaged, but I did make the change at the same time as we 'lost' an hour!

The de Villiers is still glorious and still in many ways the perfect size for me, but I noticed last week that the spine of the binder has been cut by the ring mechanism...

It looks worse in this zoom-in!

and that the stitching on the back inside cover is coming undone...

Stitching coming undone

So, I decided that it should have a rest. I've swapped into the wine Holborn (the brown one has gone to a new home) but I can imagine that I will be in a Baroque again soonish. The set-up is exactly the same as it was a couple of weeks ago (see 'How have I ended up using four things for planning?') except since I have the space I have put all of the WO2P diary for 2015 in.

I don't really know what to do about the de Villiers. The rest of the binder is great (well used by a previous owner but still great) but I don't want its injuries to get any worse. Any suggestions?

Anyone else changing set-up with the move to 'summer-time'?

Saturday, 14 March 2015

My Morning Routine

I used to have a well-oiled morning routine that got me out of bed, into the shower, some breakfast inside me, onto my bike and into work ready to start the day. I used the cycle to plan the day ahead so that when I hit my desk, I could empty my head onto paper and then make a cuppa and plan my day, often before most colleagues were in the door.

Then I hit burn-out and was off work. I gained a stress-induced arrhythmia which has stopped me cycling and running. I lost my sense of purpose and any semblance of focus and concentration. Mornings became something that was in that space between getting up and lunch and most days that I tried to plan anything, I was left staring at a piece of paper, with my brain a horrendous combination of spaghetti and echoing emptiness.

However, I've finally managed to climb out of the murk enough to regain a routine. It's not one that will necessarily survive the return to work (whenever that might happen) but it works for me at the moment. It's (mostly) soothing and settling but not always hugely productive...

Once I am up and breakfasted, I try to do the following routine (assuming I don't need to be somewhere before about 10.30 am!):
  • Write my morning pages
  • Empty my head into the 'brain-dump' reporters' notepad
  • Meditate/do some mindful practice
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Sit at my desk with my brain dump/daily list and my weekly list and my A5 filofax
  • Time-box activities into time-slots (and try to remember to double the amount of time I think it will take me to do anything)
  • Turn over a 30-minute sand-timer and start the day

Depending on how box-of-frogs-like my head is, the routine can take from 30-60 minutes (or more) but it is a slow, steady rhythm and start to the day.

The Morning Pages
I am still doing these in the Paper Thinks book but have shifted to only writing on the right-hand pages as then I can use something nicer to write with than a biro (the pages have far too much bleed-through to contemplate being able to write on the reverse if I use a proper pen!).

The Paper Thinks book. I added the ribbon to fasten it closed

I found I could spend half the morning faffing about writing the morning-pages, so now I set a time-limit for them of 15 minutes. I still write almost three pages in that time, but the time-limit helps me to stay focussed.

The Reporters' Notebook for a brain dump
Once I have done my morning pages, I then clear my head into a new side in a scrappy reporters' notebook. This is literally a brain-dump and also acts as a scratch-pad over the day. It gets dumped each night, so the fact it is scrappy is fine. I list everything I could do that day. That doesn't mean I will do it, and I feel less guilty than I used to about transferring things to the next day's list of they don't get done.

Not normally this neat - I was playing with a new pen!

The A5 diary
Once I have my daily list, I then plan my day. I usually look at my daily list in conjunction with my weekly list and then allocate things from them onto the day. Because Filofax seem to think that people are less busy/less planned on a weekend, they combine the two days into one column and so I have to resort to a personal-size page with the corner cut off so it will go on the A5 rings. On a weekday, this kind of plan goes into the A5 diary.

Day plan on lined paper

That's my morning routine and it is working reasonably well for me (as long as I don't over-allocate!).

Do others have a morning routine that keeps them on track?

Monday, 9 March 2015

How have I ended up using four things for planning??

It struck me the other day that I seem to have migrated to using four things for daily planning:
  • the planning filofax
  • the daily carry-around
  • a vertical WO2P in an A5 filofax
  • a reporters' notebook
What??? I thought I was all streamlined into a compact filofax! How did this happen??

Well, it's actually not as bad as it sounds. Honest! I realise that what I have done is just reproduce the system I always used to have, but distributed it over several things in order to use a slimline as a carry-around.

My system has almost always (well, since I have had a 'system') included:
  • a goals to projects to next actions section (which is now in the planning filofax along with spare diary pages - see here for how I get that to work)
  • a week to view for an overview (which is still in the carry-around)
  • a daily list + a daily plan (which I used to have on DPP in the carry-around when I had the ring-space, with appointments/time-sensitive tasks down the left and the rest of the daily list on the right)
It's this last bit that has morphed into two separate things I suppose. Patty from Homemakers Daily did a good post (read it here) about the difference between a  daily list and a daily plan. For me, the daily list - the list of things I need to do today - is going in the reporters' notebook. Then each morning I am drawing up my daily plan which is getting time-boxed into the vertical WO2P in the A5.

I had been doing that on the WO2P in the de Villiers, with the daily-list on the right of each day-box and the plan on the left, but it was starting to get too crowded when I had lots of 'mosquito tasks' to clear and so I started scrawling things in the notebook. I could just move back to using a DPP, the way I always used to and keep everything in one place, but at the moment I am still off work and so still based at home on a daily basis and I have a big desk and an A5 diary to use up and a stack of reporters' notebooks to use up, so why either buy or print up DPP?

No doubt I will go back to the 'all in one' binder at some point, but this is working okay for me at the moment (and handily using up the A5 diary and rubbish notebooks!).

Anyone else find that they think they've started using a new system, only to realise it's the old system in different clothes?